IntroductionNew Mexico’s population grew during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as families moved into new areas and people came to homestead from other places in the United States. Construction of railroads on the plains helped spur settlement and a boom in farming that ended only a few decades later due to drought and changing economic conditions.
We learn about past events from 1) oral stories, passed down from person to person; 2) primary sources, historical documents like letters; and 3) secondary sources, such as newspapers and maps.
This lesson features four oral stories with different perspectives and one secondary source document, a newspaper.
View imagery related to settlement and homesteading in east-central New Mexico.
Read one or all of the selections related to settlement and homesteading in east-central New Mexico.
ObjectivesTo analyze the geographic, economic, social, and political factors of New Mexico that impacted the United States and world history.
To apply chronological and spatial thinking to understand the importance of events.
To include the use of primary and secondary sources in historical research.
To interpret events and issues based upon the historical, social, and geographic context of the participants.
To analyze the evolution of particular historical and contemporary perspectives.
To distinguish “facts” from authors’ opinions and evaluate an author’s implicit and explicit assumptions, beliefs, or biases about the subject.
To understand how to use the skills of historical analysis to apply to current social, political, geographic, and economic issues.
StandardsNM Public Education Department, SS, grades 9-12, I-A2, I-D1-3, I-D5-7
Title: Children of settlers near Mountainair, New Mexico
Author(s): Unknown (Photographer)
Description: Children of settlers near Mountainair, New Mexico.
Publication Date: Unknown
Collection(s): Dorothy Cole personal collection.
Title: There’s What I Call A Triangular System Of Compadrasco
Author(s): Francisco Sisneros (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Description: Francisco Sisneros discusses his family who settled in the Abo area in the mid-nineteenth century.
Collection(s): Abo Canyon Second Track Project Oral Histories
Title: He Had Ten Wagons When He Came To New Mexico
Author(s): Richard Spencer (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Description: Richard discusses how his grandfather, B. B. Spencer, came to New Mexico and started the first sawmill in the Manzano area.
Title: Hauling Water
Description: Pete Cumiford hauls water tank south from Mountainair.
Title: The Kayser Homestead
Description: August and Lucinda Kayser’s homestead near Eastview, New Mexico. Paul Frederick August Kayser was an early homesteader who spoke 14 languages and fathered a large and prominent local family that, among other things, helped to build the Belen Cutoff.
Title: Settling Rapidly
Author(s): Unknown (Author)
Description: Roosevelt County is growing fast and the Belen Cutoff is rapidly being completed.
Publisher: The Santa Fe New Mexican
Publication Date: December 5, 1905
Collection(s): University of New Mexico, Zimmerman Library
Catalog Number: AN2 N83 77; Microfilm (August 17, 1905 to January 2, 1906)
Title: John W. Corbett, founder of Mountainair, NM
Collection(s): Jack Hewett personal collection
Title: John Corbett’s homestead and dugout in Mountainair, NM
Publication Date: Circa 1903 to 1907
Collection(s): Jack Hewett personal collection.
Title: A Lot Of Our Neighbors Were The Original Homesteaders In That Area
Author(s): Dorothy Cole (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Description: Dorothy Cole remembers the era of pinto bean farming around Mountainair in first half of the twentieth century.
Title: Veal family dugout near Mountainair, New Mexico
Description: Veal family dugout near Mountainair, New Mexico.
Title: They Couldn’t Make Enough Money With The Cows That They Had
Author(s): Al Padilla and Joe Padilla (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Description: Al and Joe Padilla describe being on their family’s homestead and the diverse ways people made a living.
Title: Abo Pass Homestead Map
Author(s): William Penner (Artist)
Description: Map showing homesteads claims in Abo Pass by decade of patent date.
Publication Date: 2009
Title: A Hundred And Fifty Dollars For A Section!
Author(s): Sylvestre Sisneros (Author); Shawn Kelley (Oral Historian); William Penner (Editor)
Description: Sylvestre Sisneros talks about the way his family homesteaded south of Abo ruins during the Depression.
Title: Gus Mahan Family
Description: Mahan family riding atop a wagon loaded with logs.
Publication Date: 1918
Collection(s): Gorden and Biddie McMath personal collection.
Title: Settlement and Homesteading in East-Central New Mexico
Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight; William Penner
Description: A brief history of settlement and homesteading in east-central New Mexico.
Title: Breaking Ground
Author(s): Unknown (Photographer)
Description: Breaking ground with a two-horse team near Broncho, New Mexico.
Title: Working With Mule Teams
Description: Men working with mule teams breaking ground along the Belen Cutoff near Mountainair, New Mexico. Railroad tracks and telegraph line are visible in right of frame.
Title: Construction of the Belen Cutoff
Description: A brief history of the construction of the Belen Cutoff and its effects.
Title: Teamster Packing a Mule in Abo Canyon
Description: Teamster packing a mule in front of a tent in Abo Canyon.
Publisher: Kansas State Historical Society
Collection(s): Kansas State Historical Society; Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Corporate Collections
Catalog Number: AT
Title: Pecos River Bridge Piers Under Construction
Description: Concrete piers, wood plank forms, and falsework being used to construct the Pecos River bridge.
Publication Date: Circa 1905 to 1906
Title: Scholle: A Portrait of a Railroad Community
Description: A brief history of Scholle, New Mexico, a railroad community on the Belen Cutoff.