Johnson Park / Johnson Mesa, Colfax County, New Mexico Genealogy

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Location:                        Off Us 64, north on County Road A-40, past Throttle Reservoir where the road splits into A-28 going northwest and A-34 going northeast.

GPS:                             Latitude: 36.8486 N;      Longitude: -104.2147 W.

Elevation:                       6,890 feet (2,100 meters)

Map:                              Interactive Map.

Photos:                          12 photos: Church outside and inside, Cemetery, graves, and farmhouse.; Church, cemetery, road  and barn;

Post Office:                    Established

Cemetery:                     Johnson Mesa

Census Data:                1900 US Federal Census, click here.


About 20 miles east of the city of Raton, there is a stretch of fertile table land 7 miles wide and 14 miles long that rises about 2 thousand feet. The summers are cool, and the winters are very cold and severe. This is known as Johnson Mesa. It is divided into sections. The lower section is known as Johnson Park, and the upper section once had a post office known as Bell, established in 1891 and discontinued in 1933. Because of the rough winters and the short summers, this area had very complicated school schedules. They had 5 schools, the East End School, the West End School, the Center School, and the Johnson Park School. People in the area called them the Red Mountain School, The Bell School, the Towndrow School, the North School, the East School, and other names. They offered 3 years of HIgh School.

In 1873, the Morley Survey included this area in the Maxwell Land Grant. When settlers took advantage of teh homestead laws and filed on "free" land, it bothered them to learn that the Grant people were planning to "oust" them. Some of these settlers partcipated in the Colfax County War or Land Grant War. Later Johnson Mesa was not recognized as part of the Land Grant. Grass was in abundance, but water was not. Later a lake was developed. They raised potatoes and grain, grazed their cattle.

The Mesa was named for Lige Johnson, who settled just south of the Mesa at a place called Johnson Park. He let his cattle graze on the mesa top, it soon bore his name. In the early 1880's, Marion Bell, a railroad construction worker (not a miner as some reports claim), led a group of fellow workers to the mesa top to try their skill at farming. Soon miners from the Blossburg mine, wishing to supplement their income, settled on the mesa top. Carrier pidgeons used to fly from the mine to the mesa. At one time, there was a family living on every 160 acres.

Family history links:

1. Roy E. Armstrong, family tree.

2. The Bell, family tree.

3. Luis Gallegos and Albinita Martinez, New Mexico Genealogist, Vol.28-30, page 93.

4. Margaret Neish, married Henry Butt, family group sheets.

5. Marina Maria Padilla, family tree.

6. William Popejoy and descendants.

7. Charles Towndrow, entire family tree, descendants, page 20. 

8. For an Alphabetic list of persons mentioned in The Johnson Park, New Mexico Story by Father Stanley, click here.  


1. History of New Mexico: History and Resources, George B Anderson, Google Books.

2. The Failure of an Agricultural Community, Johnson Mesa, New Mexico by ML Olsen.

3. The Johnson Park, New Mexico Story, by Father Stanley., Google Books.