New Mexico is a state located in the southwestern and western regions of the United States. It is usually considered one of the Mountain States. New Mexico is the 5th most extensive, the 36th most populous, and the 6th least densely populated of the 50 United States.
Inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Americas for many centuries before European exploration, New Mexico was subsequently part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. Later, it was part of the newly formed nation of Mexico for a short period before becoming a U.S. territory and eventually a U.S. state. Among U.S. states, New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanics, including descendants of Spanish colonists who have lived in the area for over 400 years. It also has the second-highest percentage of Native Americans after Alaska, and the fourth-highest total number of Native Americans after California, Oklahoma, and Arizona. The tribes in the state consist of mostly Navajo, Puebloan and the Apache peoples. As a result, the demographics and culture of the state are unique for their strong Hispanic and Native-American influences, both of which are reflected in the state flag. The scarlet and gold colors of the New Mexico flag are taken from the royal standards of Spain, along with the ancient sun symbol of the Zia, a Pueblo-related tribe.
New Mexico, or in Spanish, is often incorrectly believed to have taken its name from the nation of Mexico. However, New Mexico was given its name in 1563, and again in 1581, by Spanish explorers who believed the area contained wealthy Indian cultures similar to those of the Mexica (Aztec) Empire. Mexico, formerly known as New Spain, adopted its name centuries later in 1821, after winning independence from Spanish rule. Consequently, New Mexico was only a part of the independent federal republic of Mexico for 12 years, 1836 through 1848. The two developed as neighboring Spanish speaking communities, with relatively independent histories.
The first known inhabitants of New Mexico were members of the Clovis culture of Paleo-Indians. Later inhabitants include American Indians of the Mogollon and Ancestral Pueblo peoples cultures. By the time of European contact in the 16th century, the region was settled by the villages of the Pueblo peoples and groups of Navajo, Apache and Ute.
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado assembled an enormous expedition at Compostela in 1540–1542 to explore and find the mystical Seven Golden Cities of Cibola as described by Fray Marcos de Niza. The name Nuevo México was first used by a seeker of gold mines named Francisco de Ibarra who explored far to the north of Mexico in 1563 and reported his findings as being in "a New Mexico". Juan de Oñate officially established the name when he was appointed the first governor of the new Province of New Mexico in 1598. The same year he founded the San Juan de los Caballeros colony, the first permanent European settlement in the future state of New Mexico, on the Rio Grande near Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. Oñate extended El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, "Royal Road of the Interior," by from Santa Bárbara, Chihuahua to his remote colony.
The settlement of Santa Fe was established at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains, around 1608. The city, along with most of the settled areas of the state, was abandoned by the Spanish for 12 years (1680–1692) as a result of the successful Pueblo Revolt. After the death of the Pueblo leader Popé, Diego de Vargas restored the area to Spanish rule. While developing Santa Fe as a trade center, the returning settlers founded Albuquerque in 1706 from existing surrounding communities, naming it for the viceroy of New Spain, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque.
The extreme northeastern part of New Mexico was owned by France, and sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. By 1800 the Spanish population had reached 25,000, but Apache and Comanche raids on Hispanic settlers were common until well into the period of U.S. occupation.
Following the Mexican-American War, from 1846–1848 and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico ceded its mostly unsettled northern holdings, today known as the American Southwest and California, to the United States of America. In the Compromise of 1850 Texas ceded its claims to the area lying east of the Rio Grande in exchange for ten million dollars and the US government established the New Mexico Territory on September 9, 1850, including most of the present-day states of Arizona and New Mexico, and part of Colorado. The United States acquired the southwestern boot heel of the state and southern Arizona below the Gila river in the mostly desert Gadsden Purchase of 1853, which was related to the construction by the US of a transcontinental railroad.
The compromise of 1850 created the current boundary between New Mexico and Texas. It is also considered during this time a surveyor's error awarded the Permian Basin to the State of Texas, which included the city of El Paso. Claims to the Permian were initially dropped by New Mexico in a bid to gain statehood in 1911.
New Mexico played a role in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War. Both Confederate and Union governments claimed ownership and territorial rights over New Mexico Territory. In 1861 the Confederacy claimed the southern tract as its own Arizona Territory and waged the ambitious New Mexico Campaign in an attempt to control the American Southwest and open up access to Union California. Confederate power in the New Mexico Territory was effectively broken after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. However, the Confederate territorial government continued to operate out of Texas, and Confederate troops marched under the Arizona flag until the end of the war. Additionally, over 8,000 troops from New Mexico Territory served the Union.
A major oil discovery in 1928 brought prosperity to the state, especially Lea County and the town of Hobbs, named for James Hobbs, who was a homesteader there in 1907. The Midwest State No. 1 well, begun in late 1927 with a standard cable-tool drilling rig, revealed the first signs of oil from the Hobbs field on June 13, 1928. Drilled to 4,330 feet and completed a few months later, the well produced 700 barrels of oil per day on state land. The Midwest Refining Company's Hobbs well produced oil until 2002. The New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources called it "the most important single discovery of oil in New Mexico's history".
During World War II, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos and the first was tested at Trinity site in the desert on the White Sands Proving Grounds between Socorro and Alamogordo.
New Mexico has benefited from federal government spending. It is home to three Air Force bases, White Sands Missile Range, and the federal research laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. The state's population grew rapidly after World War II, going from 531,818 in 1940 to 1,819,046 in 2000. Employment growth areas in New Mexico include microelectronics, call centers, and Indian casinos.
Note: New Mexico was acquired in part in 1845 when Texas joined the United States, and in part directly from Mexico in 1848 and 1853. New Mexico Territory was established in December 1850, including most of present-day Arizona and parts of Colorado and Nevada. New Mexico acquired essentially its present boundaries in 1863, and was admitted as a State on January 6, 1912. In 1850 census coverage of New Mexico Territory included much of the present State but did not extend beyond it. The 1860 population refers essentially to the present State; it excludes the then Arizona County, which was located within present-day Arizona, as well as areas that became part of Colorado Territory in 1861.. Total for 1860 excludes 6,482 persons in Arizona County, within present-day Arizona. Total for 1890 includes population (6,689) of certain Indian reservations not reported by county.. Cibola County (1980 pop. 30,347) was formed from Valencia County in 1981.
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
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