Historical Resources

American Indian Tribes of New Mexico

The pre dominant tribe of the game. A number of the Apache bands extended their raids from time to time over the territory of what is now New Mexico, but only one of them, the Jicarilla, may be said to have been permanent occupants of any part of the State within the historic period.

Apache Way of Life

Like the Arapaho and Cheyenne, this tribe hunted and warred in the eastern parts of the State.

*Kiowa Apache
This tribe always accompanied the Kiowa.

The Navajo lived north and inside of the New Mexican border.

Most of the Pueblo tribes trace their origin to some place in the north and there is no doubt that the ancestors of many of them lived in what are now the pueblo and cliff ruins of New Mexico. Many of its people intermarried with the Ute.

"Native American" or American Indian?

Fashion of the Times Weapons of the Times IC Foods of the Times
IC Items of the Times Medicines of the Times Relationships of the Times
Women Suffrage in New Mexico Women and Medicine Newspapers of the Era
Flora and Fauna How-To's 1880s Expenses
IC Horses IC Costs

Precursor to Cimarron in New Mexico

Lincoln County War

The so-called Lincoln County War began in 1878 and dragged on until 1881. At that time Lincoln County covered nearly one-fifth of the entire territory. It was the largest county in the United States. The Lincoln County War was no less bloody than other wars which have struck the area. This particular war arose from conflicts between rival New Mexico cattle barons.

During the 1870s a group of merchants had gained control over the economy of Lincoln County, including a monopoly on filling lucrative contracts from the military at Fort Stanton. L.G. Murphy and J.J. Dolan, who owned huge cattle ranches in Lincoln County, had a monopoly on the cattle and merchant trade. This group and their allies was called The House. The infamous Seven-Rivers gang, of which Jesse Evans, a boyhood friend of Billy the Kid, was a member, fought for the cattle barons.

In 1877, their control was challenged by Alexander McSween, a Lincoln attorney, and John Tunstall, an English entrepreneur — who were backed by the day's biggest cattle baron, John Chisum. Chisum's employees and supporters were known as The Regulators, and followers of The House violently resisted them. The battle was fought not only in courtrooms but also through gunfights, murders, and cattle rustlings. The war attracted desperados from all parts of New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and south of the Rio Grande.

On February 18, 1878 Tunstall was murdered by members of a sheriff's posse after he had surrendered his gun. According to the "code of the West," an unarmed man was not to be shot. The Regulators vowed to take vengeance upon House followers resonsible for killing Tunstall. Among the group of Regulators was a young man known as Billy the Kid, who had befriended Tunstall. o, Billy the Kid rode in and out of the war with the purpose of avenging Tunstall's murder.

In September 1878 President Rutherford B. Hayes removed Governor Axtell from office and appointed Lew Wallace as New Mexico's new governor. Wallace was famous for having served in both the war with Mexico and the Civil War. A writer, Wallace became even more famous for his novel "Ben Hur". At first Governor Wallace felt that conditions in Lincoln County might call for martial (military) law. The president, however, advised lawbreakers to return to peace. Wallace offered amnesty to persons involved in the Lincoln County War, open to anyone who had not been charged with or convicted of a crime.

Gov. Wallace put a $500 reward on Billy's head. Billy the Kid was captured by Sheriff Pat Garrett and imprisoned in Mesilla—also called Old Mesilla and La Mesilla. The courthouse in which he was held, tried, and sentenced to be hanged still stands in Old Mesilla at the corner of the Plaza in which the Gadsden Purchase was confirmed in a flag-raising ceremony in 1854. Transferred to Lincoln County for execution, the Kid escaped, killing two deputies in the process. Garrett, later sheriff of Dona Ana County, shot and killed the Kid at Fort Sumner. The Kid was buried in a cemetery at Fort Sumner that still exists. His trial, escape, and death all occurred in 1881.

World Events in 1881


* January 16–January 24 – Siege of Geok Tepe: Russian troops under General Mikhail Skobelev defeat the Turkomans.
* January 24 – William Edward Forster, the chief secretary for Ireland, introduces his Coercion Bill, which temporarily suspended habeas corpus so that those people suspected of committing an offence could be detained without trial; it goes through a long debate before it is accepted February 2.
* January 25 – Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company.
* February 2 – The Parkfield Earthquake occurs.
* February 5 – Phoenix, Arizona is incorporated.
* February 13 – The first issue of the feminist newspaper La Citoyenne is published by Hubertine Auclert.
* February 19 – Kansas becomes the first U.S. state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages.
* March 4 – Inauguration of James A. Garfield as President of the United States.
* March 12 – Andrew Watson makes his Scotland debut as the world's first black international football player.
* March 13 – Alexander II of Russia is killed near his palace when a bomb is thrown at him. He is succeeded by his son, Alexander III.


* April 11 – Spelman College is established.
* April 14 – The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight erupts in El Paso, Texas.
* April 15 – Temuco, Chile is founded.
* April 15 – Anti-Semitic pogroms in Southern Russia start.
* April 21 – The University of Connecticut is founded as the Storrs Agricultural School.
* April 25 – Caulfield Grammar School is founded in Melbourne, Australia.
* April 28 – Billy the Kid escapes from his 2 jailers at the Lincoln County Jail in Mesilla, New Mexico, killing James Bell and Robert Ollinger before stealing a horse and riding out of town.
* May 12 – In North Africa, Tunisia becomes a French protectorate.
* May 13 – The Pacific island of Rotuma cedes to Great Britain, becoming a dependency of the Colony of Fiji.
* May 21 – The American Red Cross is established by Clara Barton.
* May 21 – The United States Tennis Association is established by a small group of tennis club members.
* June 12 – The USS Jeannette is crushed in an Arctic Ocean ice pack.


* July 1 – General Order 70, the culmination of the Cardwell-Childers reforms of the British Army's organization, comes into effect.
* July 2 – James Garfield, President of the United States, is shot by lawyer Charles Julius Guiteau. He survives the shooting but suffers from infection of his wound, dying on September 19.
* July 4 – In Alabama, the Tuskegee Institute opens.
* July 14 – Billy the Kid is shot and killed by Pat Garrett outside Fort Sumner.
* July 20 – Indian Wars: Sioux chief Sitting Bull leads the last of his fugitive people in surrender to United States troops at Fort Buford in Montana.
* July 23 – The Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina is signed in Buenos Aires.
* August 3 – The Pretoria Convention peace treaty is signed, officially ending the war between the Boers and Britain.
* August 27 – The fifth hurricane of the Atlantic season hits Florida and the Carolinas, killing about 700.
* September 5 – The Thumb Fire in the U.S. state of Michigan destroys over a million acres (4,000 km²) and kills 282 people.
* September 12 – Francis Howell High School (Howell Institute) in St. Charles, Missouri, and Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin, Texas open on the same day, putting them in a tie for the title of the oldest public high school west of the Mississippi River.
* September 19 – U.S. President James A. Garfield dies eleven weeks after being shot. Vice President Chester A. Arthur becomes the 21st President of the United States.


* October 5 to December 31 – International Cotton Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia
* October 26 – The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral occurs in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona, USA.
* October 29 – Judge (U.S. magazine) is first published.
* November 11 – The Clarkson Memorial in Wisbech is completed and unveiled to the public.
* November 19 – A meteorite strikes earth near the village of Großliebenthal, a few kilometers southwest of Odessa, Ukraine.
* December 8 – At least 620 die in a fire at the Ring Theatre, Vienna.
* December 28 – Virgil Earp is ambushed in Tombstone and loses the use of his left arm.
* Kinshasa is founded by Henry Morton Stanley as a trading outpost called Léopoldville.
* New York City's oldest independent school for girls, the Convent of the Sacred Heart New York (91st Street), is founded.
* Edward Rudolf founds the 'Church of England Central Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays' (now The Children's Society).
* The Pali Text Society is founded.
* University College Dublin is established in Ireland.
* The United States National Lawn Tennis Association (USNLTA) is founded, and the first U.S. Tennis Championships are played.
* The League of the Three Emperors is resurrected.
* Some Vatican archives are opened to scholars for the first time.
* Abilene, Texas is founded.
* The Newcastle United F.C. is founded as the Stanley F.C., with a further name change to Newcastle East End F.C. a few months later.
* The Leyton Orient F.C. is founded.
* Minto, North Dakota is founded.

U.S. Events 1881

  • President Benjamin Hayes signs the Chinese Exclusion Treaty, which reverses the open-door policy set in 1868 and places strict limits both on the number of Chinese immigrants allowed to enter the United States and on the number allowed to become naturalized citizens.
  • Backed by the National Women's Christian Temperance Union, Kansas Governor John St. John forces through prohibition legislation, making Kansas — the site of towns like Dodge City where the saloon has been almost a symbol of civic life — the first state in the nation to "go dry."
  • Chief Sitting BullSitting Bull returns from Canada with a small band of followers to surrender to General Alfred Terry, the man who five years before had directed the campaign that ended in the Lakota Chief’s victory at Little Bighorn. After insulting his old adversary and the United States, Sitting Bull has his young son hand over his rifle, saying, "I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle. This boy has given it to you, and he now wants to know how he is going to make a living."
  • Helen Hunt Jackson publishes A Century of Dishonor, the first detailed examination of the federal government’s treatment of American Indians in the West. Her findings shock the nation with proof that empty promises, broken treaties and brutality helped pave the way for white pioneers.
  • Late summer brings the last big cattle drive to Dodge City. With livestock plentiful on the plains, the long trek up the Western Trail is no longer profitable, and most states now prohibit driving out-of-state cattle across their borders. The increasing use of barbed wire to enclose farms and grazing land has ended the era of the open range. In the fifteen years since Texas cowboys first hit the trail, as many as two million longhorns have been driven to market in Dodge.
  • Legendary outlaw Billy the Kid, charged with more than 21 murders in a brief lifetime of crime, is finally brought to justice by Sheriff Pat Garrett, who trails The Kid for more than six months before killing him with a single shot at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
  • Tombstone, Arizona, Deputy Marshall Wyatt Earp and his brothers gun down the Clantons in a showdown at the O.K. Corral.

Silver Mining in New Mexico

A rancher found the Lake Valley silver deposits in Sierra County in 1876. Two years later he sold his claims to an engineer, who began mining.[1] The deposits are bedded manto-type deposits in Paleozoic limestone. The mines produced well for a few years after miners tunneled into a silver-lined cavity they named the “bridal chamber” that alone yielded 2.5 million troy ounces (78 tonnes) of silver.

In 1881 the property was sold to mine promoters George D. Roberts and Whitaker Wright, who split the property among five companies: Sierra Apache Co., Sierra Bella Co., Sierra Grande Co., Sierra Madre Co., and the Sierra Plata Co., and stock was sold widely in the east. Despite the brief wealth of the bridal chamber, shareholders in all five companies lost money.

In 1881, a party of Lake Valley miners formed a posse to pursue a band of Apaches that had raided the town of Hillsboro. The Apaches caught them in an ambush in the hills ten miles west of Lake Valley, and many, including the mine superintendent George Daley, were killed.

The bridal chamber was worked out by 1883. Although a railroad line reached Lake Valley in 1884, the mines struggled and were worked only periodically into the 20th century. Total production of the Lake Valley district through 1931 was 5.8 million ounces (180 tonnes) of silver.[2] The mines reopened during World War II to produce manganese, and continued operating into the 1950s. Lake Valley had a post office from 1882 until 1955.

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