Maxwell, Colfax County, New Mexico Genealogy

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New Mexico Gotoarrow.png Colfax County Gotoarrow.png Maxwell


Maxwell is located 24 miles south of Raton, NM, off Interstate I25, exit 426.


Latitude: 36.5411 N Longitude: - 104.5430 W.


5,925 feet (1,806 meters)


Interactive Map1.


Modern day schools and downtown; 2010 post office, 1909 581 Google Images

Post Office

Established 1909


For Cemetery details click here.

Census Data

1900 US Federal Census - for an alphabetic list of households, click here.

2000 US Census demographics, click here.


In 1857, Colfax County rancher, Antime Meloche, was a wagon teamster supporting Johnston's Army during the "Mormon War." On his return from California became a wagon master at Fort Union. In 1865, he wintered 650 cavalry horses at what is now Maxwell. In the Spring of 1866, he began operating a farm and raised cattle.

Officials of the Santa Fe Railroad named the town when the rail head reached this point in 1879, honoring the Maxwell Land Grant Company that gave it the right-of-way through its land. Officials of the company had in mind a community center to house the various offices of its vast growing empire. They hoped to make Maxwell City, as it was then called, headquarters for the company that had contracts as far abroad as Holland, England, and Germany, to say nothing of the many cities in the United States. It is unlikely the railroad executives had Lucien Maxwell in mind, but only vaguely, because he had long been buried at Fort Sumner.

As soon as the town was named, the town established: a post office, a general store, a saloon, hotel, livery stable, bank, reservoir, and in 1915 the newspaper "Maxwell Mail". The offices of the Maxwell Mail published the newspaper for nearby town, French, "The French Farmer". The expected boom was not realized. Only when the Land Grant officials then gave serious consideration to irrigation ditches did their dream come to life and the town take hold. The town name went from Maxwell City to Maxwell to Maxwell City until April 10, 1909, when the Postmaster declared the official name as Maxwell, its name today. The original name for "Springer" a town 15 miles distant, was "Maxwell" until it assumed the name for Frank Springer.

The Land Grant owners planned to settle this area with German colonists from Russia, Russian Mennonites. The plan did not work out. The Maxwell Irrigated Land Company became The Maxwell City Development Company. The Vermejo Ditch farms were among the best in the Territory. The hotel and livery stable were built in 1890. Hollanders from Michigan came and left. Despite all the promotion schemes, some brave and hardy souls stayed. By 1902 the town numbered 200, and a school was built. Maxwell was long known as the Sugar City because the sugar beet industry flourished. After 1914, the town declined due to the loss of the Hebron Dam and following drought. Lumber businesses consolidated, hardware store moved out of town, church disbanded, post office downgraded, butcher shop and newspaper closed, farm houses were deserted.

In the vast majority of New Mexico Bank failures in 1920's, the cause was insider abuse and regulatory complicity rather than unforeseen agricultural events. The largest delinquent "loan" at the Farmers State Bank of Maxwell, was an unsecured note of the state's top banking regulator, James B Read. Read chartered the bank on January 29, 1922. The day after the bank opened, in violation of state law, he borrowed $11,716. Because there was only $25,000 in equity, the loan represented 47% of the bank's capital. When the bank failed 2 1/2 years later, Read still had made no payment.

In 1942, Governor John E Miles proposed a Japanese Interment Camp to be relocated in Maxwell.

Family history links

  • To search alphabetic list of online family history links, click here.
  • To search the historial pages of the newspaper "Maxwell Mail" (1915), click here.
  • On line, 2010 phone directory, click here.
  • The Meloche Legacy: a Meloche family history dating back to the year 1575-2001. 850 pages. Google Books.

Sources or Other Information

  • Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the conflict over land in the American West, 1840-1900. Maria Montoya. Google Books.
  • Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge, click here.
  • Maxwell Municipal Schools, click here.
  • Maxwell Land Grant, New Mexico State Historian, click here.
  • The Maxwell New Mexico Story, F. Stanley. pamphlet.
  • History of New Mexico: Its resources and People. George B Anderson. Pacific Sdtates Publishing. 1907. 1,047 pages. Volume 2, page 673. Google books.
  • Maxwell Land Grant. William Keleher. 2008. 216 pages. Google Books.
  • The Maxwell Land Grant: A New Mexico Item. William Keleher, John Van Ness. 1984. 186 pages. Google Books.
  • Expedition to the Southwest: ann 1845 reconnaissance of Colorado and New Mexico. James Albert, Horace Carroll. Google Books.
  • Courage of Innocence: A saga of Italian Immigrants in the American Frontier. Ann Federici Martin. Google Books.
  •  Where the Old West stayed young. John Burroughs, page 339. Google Books.
  • Panic in Paradise; Florida's Banking Crash of 1925. Raymond Vickers, page 8. Google Books
  • Netherlanders in America: Dutch Immigration to the United States, google books.
  • Going Dutch: the Dutch presence in America, 1609-2009. J. Goodfriend, B. Schmidt, A. Scott.   page 141. Google Books.
  •  Advertisements for Maxwell in publications.