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Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States

State, Territories, Counties, Cities, Towns & Post Offices


Transcribed by Jeana Gallagher and Sandy Stutzman for the exclusive use of Genealogy Trails

PT is post town; PV is post village; PO is post office, PB is post borough, CH is court house, T is town

New Mexico Territory

Situated between 38° and 32° north latitude, and 103° and 116° longitude west from Greenwich, and is bounded north by Utah and Nebraska territories, east by Nebraska territory and Texas, south by Mexico, and west by California and Utah.  Its superficial area is about 211,000 square miles.
Physical Aspects-- The general appearance of the country is mountainous with a large valley in the middle running north and south, formed by the Rio Grande del Norte.  This valley is generally about 20 miles wide, bordered on the east and west by mountains.  There are some valleys of less extent along the borders of smaller streams, and a few spaces of elevated table land.  East of the Rocky mountains there are prairies and plains, and a portion of the great American desert.  The soil in the valley of the Rio Grande in New Mexico is generally sandy, and looks poor, but by irrigation it produces abundant crops.  The most fertile part of the valley begins below Santa Fe, along the river, where it is not uncommon to raise two drops within one year.  The dryness of the soil makes it necessary to employ irrigation.

Mountains-- The Rocky mountain range traverses the eastern part of New Mexico, bearing different names at different points.  South of Santa Fe it rises to 6,000 or 8,000 feet, while to the north some snow capped peaks are seen which rise to from 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level.  The Sierra Madre or Anahuac range stretches northward from Mexican Cordilleras through the center of the territory, and the Wahsatch mountains lie near the western boundary.

Rivers and Lakes--The principal river of New Mexico is the Rio Grande del Norte.  Its head waters are found in the Rocky Mountains, and flowing south it enters the gulf of Mexico, forming in the lower part of its course, the boundary line between Mexico and the United States.  Its length is about 2,000 miles, and it is navigable for steamboats, about 700 miles from its mouth.  It principal tributaries are, the Chames, Pecos, Conchos, Salado, Alamo and San Juan.  The Colorado, which empties into the Gulf of California, forms part of the western boundary, until it extends into the territory.  The Gila which flows westward, extends along the southern boundary until reaching its source in the Sierra Madre range; its principal branches are San Francisco and Salt rivers.  About 100 miles southeast of Santa Fe, on the high table land east of the Rio Grande, are several salt lakes, which furnish the county with salt.

Climate-- The climate is generally temperate, constant and healthy. Considerable atmospheric differences, however, are experienced in the mountain districts, and in the low valley of the rivers.  In the letter the summer heat sometimes rises to 100°, but nights are always cool and pleasant.  The winters are comparatively of long duration and frequently severe.  The sky is generally clear and the atmosphere dry, except during the rainy season, from July to October.  Disease if little known, except from inflammations and typhoid fevers in the winter season.

Productive Resources-- Indian corn, wheat, beans, onions and fruit are raised in large quantities, and the grape vine is extensively cultivated.  The inhabitants pat considerable attention to cattle raising, and are possessed of large flocks and herds.  The county is rich in gold, silver, copper, iron, coal, gypsum and salt.  None but the silver mines, however, have been much wrought.  There are considerable domestic manufactures.

Government-- The government of New Mexico is similar to that of Utah, and that generally applied to territories of the United States.  All citizens of adult age are voters, and elect a territorial legislature.  The governor and judges are appointed by the president of the United States.

Population-- The whole population of New Mexico, according to the census of 1793 was 30,953; in 1833 was estimated at 52,360, composed of one twentieth Spaniards, one fifth Creoles, one fourth Mestizos of all grades, and one half Pueblo Indians.  In 1842, the population was 57,026; and according to the census of 1850 was 61,547.  This is exclusive of the independent tribes of Indians which still exist in the country.

History-- The history of New Mexico lies very much in the dark. The Spaniards, it seems received the first information about it in 1581, from a party of adventurers under Capt Francisco de Levya Bonillo, who upon finding the aboriginal inhabitants and the mineral wealth of the country to be similar to those of Mexico, called it New Mexico.  In 1594, the then viceroy of Mexico, Count de Monterey, sent the gallant Juan de Oante, of Zacatecas, to New Mexico, to take formal possession of the country in the name of Spain, and to establish colonies, missions and presidios (forts).  They found a great many Indian tribes and settlements, which they succeeded in Christianizing in the usual Spanish way, with sword in hand, and made them slaves.  The villages of the Christianized Indians were called Pueblos, in opposition to the wild and roving tribes that refused such favors.  Many towns, of which only ruins exist now, were established at that time; many mines were worked, and the occupation of the country seemed to be secured, when quite unexpectedly, in 1680, a general insurrection of all the Indian tribes broke out against the Spanish yoke.  The Spaniards were either massacred or driven southward, where they founded Paso Del Norte.  The country was not recovered for 10 or 12 years.  Several insurrections have since occurred, but none so universal or disastrous as this one.  This country followed the fate of Mexico after the revolution that overthrew the Spanish power.  The history of New Mexico previous to the invasion by the Americans, has little to arrest attention.  It is a continuous record of barbarism and tyranny.  On the 08 Sep 1846, Santa Fe was captured by the Americans under General Kearney, and soon after several of the river towns were visited on his route to California.  A civil government was now established.  On 19 Jan 1847 an insurrection broke out against the Americans, and in several pueblos many Americans were murdered.  Taos, Arroya-Hondo, and Rio Colorado, were chief scenes of strife.  The battles of La Canada and El Embudo also occurred in this month, and in February the Battle of Taos; in all of which the Mexican's were completely vanquished.  Some few skirmishes occurred after these, but non of importance.  From this period the United States authorities exercised exclusive power.  On 02 Feb 1848, a treaty of peace and cession was signed at Guadalupe Hidalgo, by which New Mexico was assigned to the Union.  On 09 Sep 1850, it was erected into a territory, the United States paying Texas ten millions of dollars as an equivalent for the claim she preferred to that portion of the territory of New Mexico which lies east of the Rio Grande.

New Mexico Territory

1850 Counties 

County Description Area in sq miles Courts held at Pop in 1850
Bernalillo Co eastern part blank main town Albuquerque 7,751
San Miguel central part blank Las Vegas 7,074
Santa Anna blank blank not given 4,645
Santa Fe northern part, on western side of the Rocky mountains, water by Rio Grande del Norte blank Santa Fe 7,713
Socorro in southern part, crossed by Rio Grande del Norte blank Socorro not listed

1850 Towns

Name What County Pop Other
Fort Union PO not given    
Las Vegas PO not given    
San Elizario PO Socorro    
San Miguel PT San Miguel 700  
Santa Fe City Santa Fe abt 5,000 seat of justice
Socorro PO Socorro    
Tecolita PO San Miguel    

Note: the US obtained this area in 1848 and it became a territory in 1850

Santa Fe, NM

City, seat of justice of Santa Fe Co, New Mexico, is situated east of the Rio del Norte, about 600 miles from the gulf of Mexico.  It has long been an important rendezvous of traders from other parts of the Union and Mexico.  Between 1834 and 1841, the annual value of the trade passing through this place was from $2,000,000 to $3,000,00.  The hostilities between the United States and Mexico checked this prosperity; but the annexation of New Mexico, and the rapid settlement of California, are sources of permanent advantage, of which the influence has been already felt.  The annoyances from hostile Indians, to which traders have always been more or less exposed, are the principal obstacles to its rapid increase.

The population is about 5,000.

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