New Mexico History

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Beginning Research
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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Brief History[edit | edit source]

The following important events in the history of New Mexico affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.

Dates Events
1540 – Francisco Vásquez de Coronado explored New Mexico.
1598 San Juan was founded as the first permanent Spanish colony in New Mexico.
1609 Santa Fe was first settled at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
1598 Santa Fe became the new captial. The San Miguel Chapel was built in Santa Fe and is the oldest church structure in the United

States today.

1680-1700 The Pueblo Indians revolted and drove the Spanish out of northern New Mexico to El Paso. By 1700 the Spanish reestablished control.
1706 Albuquerque was founded and became a center of settlement.
1821 After the Mexican War of Independce, Mexico achieved independence from Spain and Nuevo México became a Mexican province. Trade with the United States was opened over the Santa Fe Trail.
1836 Texas seceded from Mexico while claiming the area east of the Rio Grande, which includes portions of present-day New Mexico. However, Texas was neaver able to control the area. In 1850, Texas gave up it's claim to this area for financial compensation for the US Government.
1848 Mexico ceded New Mexico to the United States. The Santa Fe Trail soon became a favorite route of those heading to the California gold fields.
1850-1863 Congress created the New Mexico Territory September 9,1850 and the first counties were established. The Territory included

most of Arizona and New Mexico and parts of Colorado. The territory was enlarged somewhat with the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico in 1853, but greatly reduced by the creation of Colorado Territory in 1861 and Arizona Territory in 1863.

1863 Kit Carson led a U.S. army force against Navajo Indians in southwestern United States.  The Navajo were removed to Fort Sumner a 350 miles, this became known as "The Long  Walk"
1866 The New Mexico Territory was split into the Arizona and New Mexico Territories
1868 June 1 - Treaty of Bosque Redondo signed at Fort Sumner the Navajo Indian reservation was created.
1880 The Southern Pacific Railroad entered New Mexico through the Arizona Territory; the Denver & Rio Grande Railway entered the territory through Colorad
1880-1904 The coming of the railroad stimulated settlement in eastern and southern New Mexico. Conflicting land claims led to disputes among ranchers, homesteaders, and the old Spanish families. The claims were finally settled in 1904.
1898 Over 300,000 men were involved in the Spanish-American War which was fought mainly in Cuba and the Philippines.
1912 January 6 - New Mexico became a state.
1917–1918 More than 26 million men from the United States ages 18 through 45 registered with the Selective Service. World War I over 4.7 million American men and women served during the war.
1930's The Great Depression closed many factories and mills. Many small farms were abandoned, and many families moved to cities.
1940–1945 Over 50.6 million men ages 18 to 65 registered with the Selective Service. Over 16.3 million American men and women served in the armed forces during World War II. In 1942, forty-two Navajo recruits went to boot camp and became the foundation for the Code Talkers to assist in the war effort
1950–1953 Over 5.7 million American men and women served in the Korean War.
1950's–1960's The building of interstate highways made it easier for people to move long distances.
1964–1972 Over 8.7 million American men and women served in the Vietnam War.

Historical Content[edit | edit source]

Histories are great sources of genealogical information. Many contain biographical information about individuals who lived in the area, including:

  • Parents' names
  • Maiden names of women
  • Place of birth, death, or marriage
  • Occupation
  • Migration
  • Military service
  • Descendants

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. Published histories of towns, counties, and states usually contain accounts of families. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of pioneers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search. Local histories are extensively collected by the Family History Library, public and university libraries, and state and local historical societies. The "United States History" page cites nationwide bibliographies of local histories which include histories of Nebraska. The following sources are helpful for identifying local histories:

Many articles and books on New Mexico local history are listed in:

  • Swadesh, Frances Leon. 20,000 Years of History: A New Mexico Bibliography. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 1973. FHL book 978.9 A3s.

The University of New Mexico Library and the of New Mexico Library have good collections of local histories.

Colonial Period[edit | edit source]

For information on some of the earliest records for New Mexico, you will want to examine this inventory made by Ralph Emerson Twitchell

  • Twitchell, Ralph E. The Spanish archives of New Mexico: compiled and chronologically arranged with historical, genealogical, geographical, and other annotations, by authority of the state of New Mexico. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1914. FHL book 978.9 A3t in two volumes. You can view digital copies online. Volume 1 and Volume 2.

To view the documents mentioned by Twitchell on microfilm, see Calendar of the microfilm edition of the Spanish archives of New Mexico, 1621-1821 Santa Fe, NM: New Mexico Records Center, 1968. FHL book 978.9 A3nm.

Visit the website of the New Mexico State Archives to help correlate Twitchell's document numbers with the microfilm desired. The microfilms are available at the Family History Library or some family history centers FHL films 581463-581478.

More documents from the early history of New Mexico can be found among the manuscripts of the National Archive of Mexico in Mexico City or the Archivo General de la Nación. Transcripts of this early history can be found on microfilm at the Family History Library or some family history centers. Ramo de Historia: 1522-1822.  FHL INTL films 1857420, Items 2-3 and 1857433, Item 1.

State Histories Useful to Genealogists[edit | edit source]

Good genealogists strive to understand the life and times of their ancestors. In this sense, any history is useful. But certain kinds of state, county, and local histories, especially older histories published between 1845 and 1945, often include biographical sketches of prominent individuals. The sketches usually tend toward the laudatory, but may include some genealogical details. If these histories are indexed or alphabetical, check for an ancestor's name. A useful source for studying the history of New Mexico is:

  • Twitchell, Ralph E. The Leading Facts of New Mexico History, 5 vols. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1911-1917. FHL book 978.9 H2t; FHL film 1000218. Includes many biographies; each volume is indexed.

United States History[edit | edit source]

The following are only a few of the many U.S. history sources that are available:

  • Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur M. The Almanac of American History. Greenwich, Conn.: Bison Books, 1983. FHL book 973 H2alm. At various libraries (WorldCat). This provides brief historical essays and chronological descriptions of thousands of key events in United States history.
  • Dictionary of American History, Revised ed., 8 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. FHL book 973 H2ad. At various libraries (WorldCat). This includes historical sketches on various topics in U.S. history, such as wars, people, laws, and organizations. A snippet view is available at Google books.
  • Webster's Guide to American History: A Chronological, Geographical, and Biographical Survey and Compendium. Springfield, Mass.: G&C Merriam, 1971. FHL book 973 H2v. Limited view at Google Books. At various libraries (WorldCat). This includes a history, some maps, tables, and other historical information.

To find more books and articles about Montana 's history try a Google search. Search for phrases like "New Mexico history." The Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog "Place-names" search lists many more histories under topics like:


Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]