Rayado, Colfax County, New Mexico Genealogy

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Location:                RAYADO is located at the extreme southeast corner of Philmont Scout Ranch. From Cimarron, N.M., go west on 10th Street ( US 64) toward South Lincoln Avenue. Take the 3rd left onto NM 21 south on Collison Avenue. Travel south about 11 miles. Turn left into Rayado.  RAYADO CREEK - From Rayado travel west toward NM 21. Turn right, go north, for 3.8 miles. The creek  starts here and travels through Rayado to Urreca Creek 11 miles west of Springer. RAYADO MESA - From Rayado, travel south on NM 21 about 2 miles. Continue south on 569, where NM 21 turns left (east), for about 2 miles. It is the Mesa directly to the east. It is 14 miles west of Springer. RAYADO PEAK - A summit about 9 miles west of Rayado. Go west on the gravel road that crosses NM 21 just south of Rayado from Sunny Side. About 4-5 miles the road forks at the canyon, take the left fork west to the end of the road.  It is still more than a mile away.  KIT CARSON MESA - From Rayado, travel south on NM 21 about 1.5 miles. The Mesa is about 1 mile before 199 goes south and NM 21 goes east.

GPS:                            Latitude: 36.3687 N;      Longitude: - 104.9270 W.

Elevation:                    6,509 feet (1,984 meters)

Interactive Maps:        Rayado; Historic District;  Rayado Creek; Rayado Mesa; Rayado Peak;

                                  Kit Carson Mesa;

Photos:                      Ruins

Post Office:                Post Office 1873 to 1881 and intermittently to 1919.

Cemeteries:                Abreu and Valdez Cemeteries; Nearby cemeteries:  Miami, Cimarron

Census Data:             1860 US Federal Census, alphabetic list of households, click here.

                                 1870 US Federal Census, all enumeration was listed as Elizabethtown,

                                      with 3 precincts. There is a very high probability that Rayado was part

                                      of  the enumeration of precinct #3:  A-EF-MN-Z 

                                 1880 US Federal Census, alphabetic list of households, click here.

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


Previous spelling of Rayado was Reyado or the older Ryado. Rayado is Spanish for streaked. Certain Native American tribes were called "Rayados" by the Spanish because of horizontal lines painted on their faces. This was a Native American trading point 23 miles west of Springer, and about 12 miles south of the Cimarron River. It was one of the places where the Pueblo Native Americans met the Plains Native Americans. This was the first Spanish settlement east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It was established in 1848 by Lucien Maxwell. It became a stagecoach stop along the Santa Fe Trail. Rayado is located where the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail intersects with the Cimarron Trail to Fort Leavenworth. In 1857, Maxwell and settlers from this town went to establish the town of Cimarron.

Waite Phillips purchased the townsite in the 1920's, donated the land to what is now part of Philmont Scout Ranch. Today it is the home of the Kit Carson Museum including his reconstructed home, and La Posta, a Santa Fe Trail stage stop dating from the 1850s. The remains have been fully and authentically restored by the Boy Scouts of America and is open for summer tours.

Rayado was founded by Lucien Maxwell  in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War, with the encouragement of Charles Bent   (Bents Fort, only permanent stopping point on the Santa Fe Trail), New Mexico's Mexican Governor Manuel Armijo, and Charles Beaubien (father in law and part owner of the land).  Because the plains were still subject to raids by Apache, Comanche and other Native Americans, he had difficulty attracting settlers, so he convinced Kit Carson to move down from Taos in 1849 to lend an air of safety to the enterprise.

In 1843, Charles Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda  (the Governor's Territorial Secretary) received a massive (1.7 million acres) Land Grant from Governor Armijo. The receipt of the Land Grant was delayed by the Texan Invasion of New Mexico in 1841. In March 1842, two adventurers had a double wedding: Lucien Maxwell (age 23) married Ana Maria de la "Luz" Beaubien (age 13) and Kit Carson (age 32) married Josefa Jaramillo (14 year old daughter of a prominent Taos family, his 3rd marriage). As a wedding gift, Luz' father, Charles Beaubien (a Canadian-born citizen of Mexico) gave the couple 15,000 acres of the Miranda-Beaubien Land Grant. In 1846 the United States invaded New Mexico. Miranda and Governor Armijo fled to Chihuahua, Mexico. In 1847, Luz' older brother (Narciso) and United States New Mexico Territorial Governor Charles Bent (who allegedly owned part of the land grant) were killed by an insurrection at Fort Bent. Luz, Lucien and Miranda survived the attack. With the killing of the oldest son, Lucien Maxwell stepped into the Beaubien family hierarchy.

In 1848 Maxwell survived an ambush while delivering supplies from Taos to a cabin on the Ponil River. In 1849, at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War and the mysterious destruction of Fort Bent, Maxwell and Carson proposed building a fort on the Rayado River on the Santa Fe Trail. Maxwell built a large house for his family and built Carson a smaller structure. Carson and Maxwell moved their families to Rayado, where they built a trading post and supply station for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Kit Carson and wife Josefa didn't stay too long after completion of the construction, and returned to Taos.

In 1859, Jesus Gil Abreu  (age 36) married Petrita Beaubien (age 15, Luz's sister). In 1862 he acquired 20,000 acres for his Abreu Ranch. The house was on the banks of the Rayado River. He lived there from 1859 until his death in 1911. The land was purchased by Waite Phillips in the 1920s and Phillips later donated it to the Boy Scouts of America and it became part of the Philmont Scout Ranch.

Life was risky for a while until the Indian attacks slowed. Aside from the workers and their families he employed, Maxwell encouraged Spanish settlers by telling the settlers that if they lived on the land 10 years, they could keep the land, agreed upon with a handshake. Settlement along the Cimarron River slowly increased. By 1857, there were enough settlers that the town of Cimarron was founded. Maxwell moved to the new community of Cimarron, New Mexico, which was on the Cimarron River.

The records show that several Dragoons camped in Rayado. A federal garrison post was established in Rayado in 1850 and lasted until the Army moved its fort further south to Fort Union on the Mora River.

In 1858 Miranda, who was still in Mexico, sold his share of the land to Maxwell for  $750.00 After Charles Beaubien died in 1964, Lucien Maxwell acquired the family landholdings that had not been inherited by his wife by purchasing much of the original estate out from the rest of the family. Some historians say this was through deceit, trickery, and or coersion. In 1864: Teodora Beubien Mueller sold for $500; Juana Beaubien Clouthier sold for $3,500; Eleanor Beaubien Trujillo sold for $3,000. In 1866 he purchased the Bent shares each for the same price. In 1867, Petra Beaubien Abreu sold for $3,500. The hold out was the only male heir, Pablo, who sold for $3,500 in 1870. Maxwell became sole owner, since US laws, unlike Mexican law, did not allow women to own land. The entire area is referred to as the Maxwell Land Grant.

After the American Civil War, in 1866, gold was discovered on his property at Baldy Mountain. There was a land rush aided by the Homestead Act of 1860 and promises of land ownership made to Missourians for their support in the war. Maxwell leased land to the miners and others, and sold them supplies. Soon he was plagued with squatters.

It took two acts of Congress to validate his land ownership (and later a Supreme Court decision). In the early 1870's, he'd had enough of the double-dealings and outright treachery of the squatters on his property and he sold most of his remaining holdings to a consortium of British and Dutch investors, whose later actions with the squatters/settlers  escalated into the Colfax County War. The investors incorporated under the name of the Maxwell Land Grant and Railway Company. The Maxwell sale was for $350,000 (8.9 million dollars in 2010). 

With the money, he bought the Army holdings at Fort Sumner and Bosque Redondo in New Mexico and moved his family there. Maxwell died and was buried there in 1875. His wife ran one of the largest cattle enterprises in the region. It was in one of the Maxwell family homes at Bosque Redondo where Pat Garrett killed Billy the Kid. Luz Maxwell died in 1900 and was buried in Fort Sumner  with the Abreu family, a prominent New Mexico and banking family, to which her sister and 2 of her daughters were united in marriage.

Today, Rayado is the home of the Kit Carson Museum including his reconstructed home, and La Posta, a Santa Fe Trail stage stop dating from the 1850s.  The reddish adobe buildings of Rayado are now maintained by the Boy Scouts of America on the 138,000 acre Philmont Scout Ranch. Scout leaders dressed in period costumes lead summer visitors through Rayado's adobe hacienda. In neighboring buildings are the 1860 stagecoach stop, store and accommodiations for stage passengers. 

Family history links:

  •  For an alphabetic list of persons who once lived in Rayado and have online information, click here.
  •  Free search of obituaries in the Albuquerque Journal, click here
  •  For free search of all records, includding all census records, click here
  •  To go to the Colfax County section, click here
  •  For a free search of New Mexico Births and Christening records, 1726-1910, click here.
  •  For a free search of New Mexico Marriage records, 1751-1918, click here.
  •  For a free search of New Mexico Deaths and Burial records, 1788-1798, 1838-1955, click here.
  •  For a free search of New Mexico Death records 1889-1945, click here.


  • History of New Mexico: Its resources and people. George B Anderson, Volume 2, p.719. Google Books.
  •  New Mexico Historical Review, Volume 24. Historical Society of New Mexico, School of American Research. Lansing Bloom and Paul Walter.Google Books.
  • The Grant That Maxwell Bought. F Stanley. page 182. Google Books.
  •  French Fur Traders and Voyageurs in the American West. LeRoy Reuben Hafen and Janet Lecompte. page 187. Google Books.
  •  Five Years a Dragoon ('49 to '54) and other adventures on the Great Plains. Percival Lowe. page 21, Google Books.
  •  Albuquerque Journal, obituary search, click here.
  •  Philmont Scout Ranch. Wikipedia.  
  •  Encyclopedia of Indian Wars: Western Battles and Skirmishes, 1850-1890. Gregory Michno. page 4. Google Books.
  •  Confederate General RS Ewell: Robert E Lee's hesitant commander. Paul Casdorph. page 59. Google Books.
  •  Kit Carson Museum, Fodors review.
  •  Juan deOnate, biography.
  •  Congressional Serial Set, Volume 586, page 85. 1851 USGPO. Google Books.
  •  Westing: Personal Narratives of Life on the Rayado, New Mexico Frontier. Andrew Wahll.
  •  Remnants of crypto-Jews among Hispanic Americans. Gloria Golden. page 153. Google Books.