Wagon Mound, Mora County, New Mexico, Settlers
Table land south of Springer, seen from Ocate, Watrous, Tiptonville and Colmor, off highway I-25. About 43 miles northeast of Las Vegas, NM. Long before Europeans gazed at its amazement, Plain Native American tribes rendezvoused here to prepare for trading markets at the Taos, Picuris, Pecos, Jemez, and other pueblos, or for rest to and from buffalo hunts. It was a dividing line between the Jicarilla and Utes and the Plains tribes. Later it was a place to rest horses and stolen stock from Spanish settlements. The spring here was called "Ojo de Santa Clara" to settlers and travellers from Santa Fe, La Canada, and Albuquerque. The Pedro Villasur Expedition (1720) may have camped here, as well as expeditions against the Comanches in 1744 and 1746. It became a landmark for comancheros and other travellers.
Flocks of sheep from Ocate, Las Vegas, Rayado and other settlements on the Rio Colorado (Canadian River) were moved here for the lush grazing grass. Kearney in his conquest of this territory was amazed at this table land. Persons travelling the Santa Fe Trail made reference to this unique landmark. If permanent settlement were made, they were of short duration due to the harsh winters and constant raids from roving tribes. The attack of the White Family wagon train in 1849 is said to have taken place here or at Point of Rocks, 60 miles to the north.
Actual settlement of "Santa Clara" did not take place until shortly after the Civil War, and before the coming of the railroad. In time a few of the daring moved here from Ocate, La Junta de los Rios (Watrous), and Las Vegas. By the time the railroad arrived, the village of Santa Clara was a thriving community supported by its sheep and wool markets. It was also called Santa Clara Springs. The town became the end of the railroad track town full of saloons with a cross of trouble makers, con men, gold brickers, cowboys and soldiers. When the tracks were extended to Las Vegas, most of this population moved there to make Las Vegas the blood sister of Dodge. The cowboys working for the cattle barons of the area continued to shoot up the town when they came in to celebrate. The political group "White Caps" operated out of Wagon Mound. Shoot outs were common.
The town boasted: a bank, 4 schools, many saloons, and newspapers (Wagon Mound Observer, Arrow, La Flecha, Cowboy's Companion, Arrow Pioneer, Mora County Sentinel, Pantograph, Sentinel, News Weekly, Tribune Weekly, El Combate, Mora County Pioneer and Cowboys Companion). The Post Office was established April 27, 1882. The population was 300. Sine there already was another Santa Clara in New Mexico, the town became nown officially as Pinkerton. Name was later changed to Wagon Mound. In the early days, Wagon Mound was a Jesuit mission station of Tiptonville and Watrous, and established a parish in 1918. The first church was burned in 1909 and rebuilt in 1910. The first Bean Day, a pioneer type day celebrated on Labor Day, was held in 1910 and has become an annual event. At one time Wagon Mound was the largest town in Mora County but no effort to move the county seat was ever made. The town grew until there were over 1000 people, but, with automation, the decline of the wool and other industries, it went back to 800.
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Sources: 1. The Wagon Mound, New Mexico Story by Father Stanley, August 1968.
Reprinted in Colfax Communities by William Carroll, Coda Publications 2006.
Book available at the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library in Raton, NM., or through the inter library loan system
with your local library. Consult World cataloguing system by clicking here.
The following is an alphabetical surname list of interesting persons listed in this story.
Mr. Adams, railroad engineer killed; J.R. Aguilar, postmaster; E.B. Alexander, Lt. Col. commander in Las Vegas fort;
Rev. Robert Auman, pastor;
Ramon Baca; Alexander Barclay, fort; Rev. George Beach, pastor; Frank Bond, store owner; G.W. Bond, store owner
bought the Trujillo, Mogote, Vermejo and Estero ranches to graze their sheep; Bob Bramlett; Brown, Captain; Mr. Brown,
wagon train owner killled; Buck, witness to Schmidt murder; Ambrose Burnside, Lieutenant, later civil war general;
J. Calhoun, Indian agent and later territorial governor; A.L. Calvin; Kit Carson; A. Cecil; Mr. Clay, mail carrier killed;
J.H. Davis; Manuel Delgado, Ilfeld manager; Dent, Captain company B; Ira Duckworth, fireman for the Santa Fe Railroad;
Rev. Michael Dumarest, 1st parrish priest; Isaac Dunn;
Elliott, Lieutenant; Beaulah Farquer, bank manager; Rev. Leo Fay, pastor;
Jose D. Gallegos, shepherd; Pat Garrett, lawman, in wool business; Mr. Goldstein, killed mail carrier; Charles Goodnight,
cattle rancher; Charles Grey; W.M. Grier, major;
Rev. John J. Hallinan, pastor; Mr. Halloway, Captain; Billy Henderson, newspaper owner; Mr. Hendrickson, killed mail
carrier; Joe Holbrook Jr., sheep herder involved in Colfax County War, postmaster in Cabra, married AW Wiest's sister,
other sister married Manuel Paltenghe; J. Stewart Holbrook; Mr. House, Captain Company F; E.W. Howe, blacksmith;
James Howe, Marshall; Henry Huneke, over grazed ranch; J. Hutchinson, caarpenter, house caught fire;
Charles Ilfeld; Todd Isbell;
Margaret Lee; Lobo, Jicarilla chief; Rev. H.C. Lomme, pastor; Narciso Lucero, prosecuting attorney; Archibald MacArthur,
worked for the Bond's, principal stockholder when it became a corporation, and family; Archibald Stuart MacArthur, son,
community leader, and family; Mr. Maes, constable; J. Maestas, constable; Rev. Joseph Maguire, pastor; Mr. Maldonado,
saloon owner; Lawrence Martinez, grocer and Council Man; Q.A. Martinez, newspaper owner; Madeline Holbrook Means;
Rev. Tito Melendez, pastor; George Milner, rancher; Rev. J.N. Molinie, pastor; L. Morton, blacksmith; J. Munroe, Colonel;
Charles Nelson, garage fire; John A Niles, Fire Marshall; Olney Neward, newspaper owner; F.D. Nolan, defense attorney;
Max Nordhaus; Rev. William Novak, pastor;
Rev. Edward O'Byrne, pastor; Rev. Francis O'Byrne, pastor;
Andres Patenghe/Pallinghue, meat market proprietor; Manuel Paltenghe, clerk for Schmidt, partner with Bond, married
Joe Holbrook's sister, Emma; Joseph Plympton, Lieutenant later a Colonel; Pomeroy, settler wagons;
Henry D Reinken, 1st postmaster; Mr. Reub, railroad brakeman killed; Rich, settler wagons; Robinson, captain;
Romero family; Roybal, dance hall; R.Roybal, prosecuting attorney
John Justus Schmidt, early settler, mercantile store and warehouse owner, served at Fort Union; Luis Sena, Ilfeld
manager; Benjamin Shaw, killed mail carrier; H.N. Smith, picked up survivor in White attack; Dr. Steele, well loved horse
and buggy doctor; A. Tison, saloon owner;
A.C. Voorhees, defense attorney; Simon Vorenburg, bought the Bond Wagon Mound store, and family;
Walter and Harry Vorenburg;
A.W. Wiest, store manager when MacArthur became ill, married Joe Holbrook's sister; Louise Weist; John White and
family, wagontrain attack; Laura White; John Woodburne, Colfax and Mora County rancher, Confederate Colonel;