Sears Gazetteer – New Mexico

The Sears Gazetteer contains a list of locations in the USA with the name Sears, compiled by Ray Sears over the years. Also see Sears Gazetteer – Maine, Sears Gazetteer – Mississippi, and Sears Gazetteer – Alaska.

New Mexico has one location on the map, the Sears Well in Colfax County, New Mexico. The Sears well is listed as a cultural feature, located at latitude 36.226, longitude -104.147.

Raton, New Mexico is the county seat of Colfax County. Raton is spanish for “mouse” or rodent, and apparently the area was subject to periodic outbreaks of bubonic plague due due to a nearby mountain full of mice. Raton was originally known as Willow Springs. It was purchased from the Maxwell Land Grant by a group of wealthy investors in 1880.

Raton is located at the high point on the Santa Fe Trail.

Arrival of the caravan at Santa Fe, lithograph, c. 1844
Colorized by DeOldify

Raton Pass was the hardest part of the journey.

An Aultman photo of Raton Pass in the early 1900’s, DeOldify

Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell (1818-1875) owned more than 1.7 million acres of New Mexico and Colorado, and owned the abandoned Fort Sumner.

The below picture shows Lucien, his wife Ana Maria de la Luz Beaubien Maxwell and their 3 children. Their young daughter Verenisa died at age 4.

Maxwell Family
Added by S. Butler,
A young Lucien Maxwell
FindAGrave, S. Buller, Jan 20, 2020

Lucien’s only son, Peter (Pedro, Pete) Menard Maxwell (1848-1898) who was general manager at Fort Sumner and witnessed (or ran away from) the killing of Billy The Kid. His sister Paulita would have a relationship with the Kid.

Peter Menard Maxwell
Added by S. Buller on 20 Jan 2020, FindAGrave

Director Fred F. Sears (1913-1957) put out Badman’s Country in 1958.

Pat Garrett (George Montgomery) has retired from law enforcement and is on his way to Abilene, Kansas, to meet his sweetheart. He learns that Butch Cassidy (Neville Brand) and his gang are preparing to rob an incoming train carrying half a million dollars, so Garrett calls in Wyatt Earp (Buster Crabbe) and a few other lawmen to move some of Cassidy’s gang they’ve already arrested. When the Abilene locals refuse to stand up to Cassidy and his outlaws, Garrett must take matters into his own hands.

Badman’s Country, IMDB
Fred F. Sears, IMDB

More about Willow Springs. According to the Legends of America Site,

“In the early days of the Santa Fe Trail, a campsite was developed called Willow Springs. Shaded by two big willow trees with a spring that offered a refreshing drink, it was located at the mouth of what would later be called Railroad Canyon.”

The closest refreshing drink past the Sears Well travelling West would probably be the Colfax Tavern & Diner at Cold Beer, New Mexico.

The Google Maps Satellite view of Sears Well, New Mexico, shows what looks like a bunch of cattle drinking at the well, and some interesting lines in the landscape centered on the well.

The author continues,

“Sometime during the 1860’s a two-room jacal log house was built at the site. In 1871, it was taken over by a Mr. Sears who removed the old house and built a larger four-room log house that faced the spring. That same year, the land surrounding the house was taken over by a man named John Thacker who established the Willow Springs Ranch with some 700 head of cattle.

By 1874, the owner of Willow Springs Ranch was offering the water for sale to travelers for 25 cents per bucket, at which time, most people postponed their baths and other water needs until cheaper water source could be obtained.”

That’s about $5.64 for a bucket of water in today’s dollars, which is a bit steep even for current rates.

The Grant That Maxwell Bought, by Father Stanley Francis Louis Crocchiola has more details on Mr. Sears, John Thacker and Willow Springs.

John Thacker, a pioneer from Iowa, came over the pass from Colorado where he had been living, and thought of buying the Sears’ property. He brought seven hundred head of cattle along with him.

That’s about $2.1 million dollars worth of heads of cattle, in today’s dollars. John appears to have been a wealthy cowboy.

Just how many lived there in those first days of occupation cannot be said but in 1871, we learn that a Mr. Sears, known as “Sears at the Springs,” had been living at the spot in a jacal log house which it is said had only two rooms. He was not the first occupant; someone had lived there before him as early as the 1860’s.

Andrew ‘Pecos’ William Sears (1868-1946) is buried in Clayton, Union County, New Mexico, USA. According to The Union County Leader, August 29, 1946 on Find A Grave Web Site, “Pecos” Sears did not originate from the Pecos river. He was a native of the White Mountains country and Mescalero Indian reservation and came to this country in the early 1890’s with a Bar W, Carrizono Cattle Company herd for shipment and remained here the rest of his life.

Andrew “Pecos” William Sears
Colorized with DeOldify

See also:

Cibola Project, UC Berkeley, Research Center for Romantic Studies
New Mexico Genealogical Society
The true history of Billy the Kid in New Mexico
FamilySearch Online Genealogy Records
FindAGrave, Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell
Raton Arts & Cultural District (RACD)
Arthur Johnson Memorial Library Blog
Historical Society of New Mexico
New Mexico State Records Center and Archives
Linealist, New Mexican History and Archive Projects
Hillsboro Historical Society
The Raton Museum
New Mexico History

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