Watrous, Mora County, New Mexico, Settlers
Native Americans once said that at the place the Sapello and Mora Rivers meet, they exchange gossip brought in from the mountains. "Junta de los Rios" was a landmark for Plains Tribes coming west to trade with the Pueblos. It later became a meeting place for sheep herders from Las Vegas, Mora, and other places. It was a camp site for comancheros, Native Americans, and Spanish/Mexican settlers. Tourists today, notice it as a well shaded stop off the interstate highway 20 miles north of Las Vegas, NM., and 95 miles south of Raton, NM.
It was once a lively town, a gathering place for the army boys from Fort Union, anxious for a more exciting life than Loma Parda (the town nearest Fort Union) had to offer. The town was always known as "La Juncta", until the railroad changed the name. The Jicarilla, Mescalero Apache, and other Native American Tribes camped on this site intermittently until the influx of comancheros (hispanic traders) caused them to abandon the place. By 1801 all hopes for permanent dwellings were abandoned, it was an ideal spot for bandits because it was hemmed in between Santa Clara (now Wagon Mound) and Las Vegas. In 1843, fur trappers and Mountain Men liked the place and petitioned the Spanish government for it, Governor Armijo approved the Land Grant. They attempted to live on the granted land, but the Jicarilla Apaches drove them off. This little settlement was then known as San Agustin as well as La Junta
Settlers from San Miguel del Bado, La Questa, and Mora, stayed here during the summer months, planting crops and herding sheep. It was at this spot that Governor Armijo wished to discuss the peace terms with General Kearney, at the close of the US/Mexican War. Many of the volunteers of the Army of the West decided to squat. The Railroad came through in 1879. The Watrous family donated the land for the right of way, stations, and yards. In 1884, the railroad officials named the town Watrous, in honor of SB Watrous, because they already had a town in Colorado called La Juncta. The town boasted: many saloons. The children went to school in Tiptonville. By 1900, it had: 2 general mercantile stores, hotel, 2 churches; a barber shop, a school, post office, blacksmith shop, livery stable, lumber yard, slaughter house, tavern, newspaper (La Revista Catolica)and the Weekly Pioneer (moved to Wagon Mound). Wagon Mound is the parish center. Population was listed as 500. The Valmora Sanatorium was a great boon to Watrous. April, 1910 fire almost burned the entire town, the entire business section and a great number of the residences went up in smoke. The town was never rebuilt. It is now a farming and ranching community. In 1915 it was said to be an important railroad point.
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Sources: 1. The Watrous, New Mexico Story by Father Stanley, August, 1962
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.
Gabriel Allen, land grant petitioner; Gov. Manuel Armijo, the last Mexican Governor of New Mexico, before US occupation;
Alexander Barclay, fort; George Berg, gunsmith; Joe Berg; Louisa Katherine Berg; Millie Berg; Jack Black, bartender;
Mrs. Black, teacher; James Bone; Frank Brady and family; Calhoun, stock merchant; James Campbell, rancher;
General Carleton, Fort Bascom; William Bill Carson, buried near the house at the Campbell Ranch; Andy and Louis
Chandler; Bern Cosner, store owner; Maude Cosner; Mr. Cosner and family;
Richard Dallam; Charles Dawer, territorial lecturer; Katie Devine; Lee Ruth Devine; Col. Alexander Doniphan;
Agustin Duran, land grant petitioner; Rev. John L. Dyer, pastor;
George H Estes, Taos tavern owner, land grant petitioner;
H.D. Feinken, store owner; Rev. Lechoneran Framton, pastor, and family; Egbert Fritzlin, settler; Frye, hotel;
James Giddings, naturalized Mexican, land grant petitioner; George Gregg, married a Kroenig daughter;
O.A. Hadley, former Governor of Arkansas; Rev. Thomas Harwood, teacher and pastor; R.G. Head; Matt Hern;
Joab Houghton; Gertrude Huiatt, teacher;
Jim Johnson, married a Kroenig daughter;
Alexander Kroenig; Alfred Kroenig; Caroline Kroenig; Fannie Kroenig; Fred Kroenig; Lottie Kroenig; Louis Kroenig;
William Kroenig, and families, partially responsible of gold discovery in the Moreno Valley, and growth of Questa;
James Lafer, murder warrant; Charles Lange; Elsie Lange; Mrs. Lange; Otto Lange, married a Kroenig daughter; Father
Leone, Italian priest; Tom Lester, saloon owner; Emma Lynam; Myrtle Lynam; Roy Lynam; Walter Lynam and family;
Mack, involved in shooting; P.L. MacNamara, married Louise Watrous; J. Marshall and family; Mary McClure; Minnie
McClure; Mr. Monfort and family; J.M. Montoya, justice of the peace;
William North, track foreman; Ignacio Ortiz, land grant petitioner; W. Pelham, surveyor general;
J.D. Rankin, store owner; James Addison Reavis, greatest US land swindle; J.B. Rice, hotel proprietor; Thomas Rice;
Jacob S Robinson, rode with Col. Doniphan; Francisco Romero, land grant petitioner; M. Roulet, married Carrie Watrous;
Mateo Sandoval, land grant petitioner; Vicente Sandoval, land grant petitioner; John Scolly, naturalized Mexican, land grant
petitioner; Warren Shoemaker and family; Shoemaker ranch, fine breed Palomino horses; William Smith, naturalized
Mexican, land grant petitioner; Dr. Sparks; Mr. Sparks, and family;
Sarah Thorp, married Charles Tipton; Al Tipton; Agnes Tipton; Anthony Tipton, moved away; Bessie Tipton; Charles Tipton,
farmer; Clara Tipton; Edna Tipton; Ella Tipton; Enoch Tipton; Esron Tipton; Gertie Tipton; Grover Tipton; Herbert Tipton;
Ida Tipton; Jessie Tipton; Joseph Tipton, lawyer; Lizzie Tipton; Lottie Tipton; Louisa Tipton; Martha Tipton; Mary Tipton;
Mattie Tipton; Susan Tipton; Thomas Tipton and family; Will Tipton; Col. William B. Tipton and family, married daughter of
Samuel Watrous; Dr. W.R. Tipton, physician, married Mrs. Harwood's sister; Rev. A La Tourette, chaplain at Fort Union;
Gregorio Trujillo, land grant petitioner;
Joe Walter, saloon owner; Carrie Watrous; Charles Watrouos; Joseph B. Watrous; Josephine Watrous; Lincoln Watrous;
Lou Watrous; Louise Watrous; Rose Watrous, school child in 1881; Rose Watrous, teacher in 1881; Samuel B. Watrous,
eventually 1/7 the owner of the land grant, and family; John Wells; Carl Wilderstein, married a Watrous daughter;
Charles Wilderstein; El Wilderstein; Rudolph Wilderstein; Maggie Winans; Dick Wooton; Josephine Wright;
S.P. Wright, former Fort Union blacksmith, foreman Campbell Ranch;