Guadalupe County, NM

Guadalupe Co. History

2002  XL

Guadalupe County was created by the Territorial Legislature on February 26, 1891. The southern part of San Miguel County was used to create Guadalupe County. It was bounded on the east by the Texas state line, on the south by Chaves and a very small corner of Lincoln County, on the west by Valencia and Bernalillo counties and on the north by San Miguel County. Named for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. Don Carlos Casus was the first sheriff of Guadalupe County. Puerto De Luna was the first county seat. Later the county seat was moved to Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

In 1903 the name of Guadalupe County was changed to Leonard Wood County about the same time Quay and Roosevelt counties were created. Santa Rosa was named the county seat of the new county. In 1905 it was changed back to Guadalupe County.

In order to understand Guadalupe County history it is necessary to understand New Mexico history. The first recorded occupation of New Mexico begin in 1598 when Don Juan de Onate led 400 men with 130 families, eight Franciscan priests, Indian and black slaves and a large herd of cattle into the Rio Grande valley. He established the capital at San Juan and was the first governor. After he resigned as Governor, the capital was moved about 1610 to Santa Fe.

When the Spanish arrived in New Mexico the Ute, Comanche, Apache and Navajo Indians were already here and considered much of New Mexico near the rivers as their homes or hunting grounds. Some of these Indian tribes had established villages (Pueblo Sites). The Indian Pueblos had a growing discontent with the Spanish people and this resulted in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. This was a successful rebellion and resulted in the termination of the encomienda system. In 1692 Governor Don Diego de Vargas re-established Spanish authority in the provence of New Mexico.

The eighteen pueblos in New Mexico today (1997), from Taos to below Albuquerque and along the Coronado trail westward from Isleta to Zuni, occupy approximately the same lands that they held during the early Spanish occupation. Their land titles originated with grants from the Spanish Crown, ratified by the sovereignty of Mexico and subsequently confirmed by the Congress of the United States under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848). The Pueblo Indians own their lands by virtue of titles antedating American supremacy. They are the only Indians in the United States that could prove title to their homes when the settlers came into New Mexico.

What we now (1997) know as New Mexico was owned and occupied in 1598 by the Spanish Crown after they took it from the Indians. Then after 1821 it was controlled by the Mexican government until the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hildago, ending the Mexican War, was signed February 2, 1848. The treaty turned over to the United States a huge portion of the present-day Southwest, including Texas, New Mexico and California. After California and Texas became a state it was New Mexico Territory until it was granted statehood in 1912.

During the period of Spanish and Mexican rule a stratified social system was extablished in New Mexico. At the top were the ricos or Dons, wealthy landowners. At the bottom of the social scale were the pobres who were held in debt to the ricos. This social system dominated New Mexico politics and economy until well up to the end of the 20th century.

Spanish land grants were along the Pecos, Canadian and the Rio Grande and their tributaries. Good water was a very important item for the settlement of New Mexico. Those who controlled the water; controlled the land! With Texas independence in 1836 the outlook for New Mexico settlement was probable. Governor Manuel Armijo of New Mexico issued large grants to keep as much land in Mexican hands as possible. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 ended the Mexican War. Hispanic residents were guaranteed rights of citizenship; however; the Santa Fe Ring had a problem reading the grant boundaries and remembering just exactly what the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo intended to do.

Much of the northwest corner of Guadalupe County, NM (1997) came from two Spanish grants; the Anton Chico grant of 1822 for 378,537 acres and the Preston Beck grant of 1823 for 318,690 acres. Only about two thirds of each grant is part of present Guadalupe County. Then there was the Jose Perea grant of 1825 for 17,712 acres on the Pecos River above where Santa Rosa is now located; and the Aqua Negra grant of 1824 for 17,361 acres just below Santa Rosa on the Pecos River.

Harold Kilmer

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