Otero, Colfax County, New Mexico, 1880 Settlers

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Otero was located 5 miles south of the present location of Raton. It was originally a camping site for the Jicarillas, Utes and some Plains Native Ameican Tribes, and later a sheep grazing range for flocks out of Las Vegas and Taos. Later, wagon trains going to the Cimarron country or to Mora, would often stop here, there was short grass and a river nearby. This was followed by squatters by the score, but for many ejection suits sent them off to other less distressing homesteads. The Post Office was established in 1879 and discontinued in 1880. Nothing is left of Otero, the town for a short time was at the end of the railroad track for the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad that came in New Mexico. When the tracks reached Otero in 1879, a festive celebration was held honoring New Mexico Territorial Governor, Miguel A. Otero, for whom the town was named.

For a few months, Otero was abusy rrailroad town, and when the division point of the railroad was moved to Raton, the people and the town moved either to Las Vegas or Raton. Many houses, some of which are still standing in 2010, were physicallly moved to Raton. For a time, Otero was then used as a cattle shipping center.

Although the town was short lived, it claimed: a newspaper, the Otero Optic (now the Las Vegas Optic), first printed on May 22 ,1879; a popular dancehall; five stores, commission houses, one hotel, two restaurants, a school house, an art gallery, a livery stable, a jail.

1880 US Census

Source: 1880 US Census; Precinct 6, Enumeration District 7: 10 June 1880.

              (The names in parenthesis are a second opinion to the sometimes hard to read handwriting)

              There is nothing left of this town, which was south of Raton, just west of Clifton. When the tracks of the Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reached Otero in 1879, it was the end of the line in New Mexico for the railroad at the time. A celebration was held honoring Miguel Otero, the New New Mexico Territory Delegate to the US Congress, for whom the town was named. The town and the people  moved to where Raton is now, less than a year later.


Places of Birth:  New Mexico (6); Total Others (44).

                        Total Others = Arkansas (1); Colorado (1); Georgia (4); Idaho (1); Illinois (2); Iowa (1); Kansas (1);

                        Louisiana (1); Maryland (1); Missouri (7); Ohio (5); Pennsylvania (2); Tennessee (6); Texas (3); Utah (1);

                        Virginia (1); Canada (1); Ireland (1); Switzerland (4); 

Occupations: Tie Hauler (4); Tie Cutter (3); Tie Receiver (1); Tie Contractor (1); Blacksmith (1); Carpenter (1);

                         Civil Engineer (1); Boarding House Keeper (1); Telegraph Operator (1); Teamster (1); Postmaster (1);

                         Quartz Miner (1); Store Keeper (3); Mail Carrier (1); Raises horses (1); Cattle raiser (1); Doctor (1);

Bishop, Albert, 1828, Tie Hauler, Switzerland; Annie, 1829, Switzerland; Frederick, 1856, Tie Hauler, Switzerland;

                                 Otto, 1858, Tie Hauler, Switzerland; Albert, 1864, Tie Hauler, Utah; Emma, 1866, Idaho;

Bryant, John B. 1840, Carpenter, Missouri; Sarah K., 1849, Iowa; Stephen L., 1871, Texas; Lucy, 1877, Colorado;

Claiborne, William J. 1847, Civil Engineer, Louisiana; Lucy, 1860, Tennessee;

Cook, William M., 1850, Tie Cutter, Georgia;

Dalton, W.V., 1833, Boarding House Keeper, Tennessee; Melvina I. 1833, Tennessee;

Hampton, William, 1858, Tie Cutter, Georgia;

Harney (Harvey), C. E., 1858, Telegraph Operator for the RailRoad, Illinois;

Letton (Tetton), Reuben P., 1819, Cattle Raiser, Maryland; P.M., 1824, Missouri; William, 1853, Sheep Raiser; (Mo);

                                     Finis, 1857, Missouri; Mary K., 1868, Missouri;
McDonald, Michael, 1844, Teamster, Ireland;

McElroy, George W., 1851, Otero Postmaster, Pennsylvania;

McLaughlin, George R., 1837, Quartz Miner, Ohio; Flora, 1848, Ohio; Thomas P., 1874, Missouri;

                                    Asiatic M., 1877, New Mexico; Georgia E., July 1879, New Mexico;

McMartin, M.A., 1838, Dry Goods Store Keeper, Canada;

McNaul, William, 1855, Receiving Ties, Ohio;

Moore, F.T., 1838, Grocery Store Keeper, Illinois;

Overstreet, B.L., 1852, Mail Carrier, Tennessee;

Pace, George I., 1844, Grocery Store Keeper, Pennsylvania;

Robbins, S.W., 1840, Tie Contractor, Ohio;

Runyon, James H. 1845, Blacksmith, Ohio; Mary, 1857, Georgia;  Herman D, 1873, Tennessee; Mabel, 1877, Tennessee;

                                      Mary, February 1880, New Mexico;

Stockton, Thomas L., 1832, Raises Horses, Tennessee; Margie (Marzie) E., 1846, Arkansas; William I., 1864, Texas;

                                      Hayden R. 1866 Texas; Minnie L. 1868 New Mexico; Thomas L. 1872, (NM); Ettie 1874 (NM);

Sullivan, S.S., 1858, Tie Cutter, Georgia;

Washington, C.A., 1839, Physician and Surgeon, Virginia; Laura, 1859, Kansas;

Interesting Persons of Otero

Sources: 1. The Otero, New Mexico Story by Father Stanley. April 1962.

              2. Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of New Mexico. James E. and Barbara Sherman. University of Oklahoma Press. 1974.

Persons are listed alphabetically by their surname. For the interesting story go to the above sources.

Allison, Clay, gunslinger

Bassett, Harry, Livery Stable owner and Deputy, one of few buried in Otero's Boot Hill.

Barrow, partner in the Modern Place Saloon

Bowman, Mace T., Deputy Sheriff.

Burr, Mrs. R., Restaurant owner


Claiborne, W.J., Justice of the Peace and partner in the Modern Place Saloon.

Clouthier, D.A., Merchant in charge of Brown and Manzanares (more popular than the Otero, Sellar & Co. store)

Cook, J.W., Postmaster

Cunningham, Mamie, a fair lady at the New Year Ball

Curley, ran the only saloon with a piano player and dancing girls.

Curtis, Joe, attended the New Year Ball

Curtis, Zeneas, deputy

Darling, L., The first School Teacher

DeCell, J., openned second restaurant

Hamilton, William, Store Head Salesman.

Kingman, Henry, Clerk in Brown and Manzanares store.

Kistler, Russ A., Publisher of the Otero Optic.

Littrell, Marion, Deputy Sheriff

Lytton, Mary, a fair lady at the New Year Ball

Lytton, Pap, the Butcher

Mace, ran a livery stable that was never empty

Martinez, Dolores "Steamboat", Dance Hall Owner

Mc Mains, O.P., Methodist preacher, leader of the anti-Maxwell Land Grant faction. Tried to publish paper after Kistler left.

McMartin, Clerk in Trash & Cook Mercantile Store.

Menger, O., doctor

Otero, Miguel A., Jr., Store Clerk

Pace, G., Clerk in the Trash & Cook Mercantile Store.

Roux, Bella, School Teacher

Runyan, J.R., joke teller and Blacksmith

Runyan,. first lawyer in Otero (only helped the poor), not related to the Blacksmith.

South, Will, Deputy

Stockton, Mimmie, a fair lady at the New Year Ball

Valverde, Paz, Clerk and Interpreter in the Brown and Manzanares store.

Vandiver, and son operated the Hotel

Warnkley, Owner of Art Gallery and a Latter Day Saint

Washington, C. A., TO, a more popular doctor lynched in the Otero railroad yards.

Washington, Miss, School Teacher

Williams, J.N., express and freight wagon delivery

Yeager, ran the most popular drinking place