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Santa Fe Lore

Kiowa poet N. Scott Momaday remarked that the American West “is a place that has to be seen
to be believed, and it may have to be believed in order to be seen.”

The City of Santa Fe was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with
founding dates between 1050 to 1150.

The “Kingdom of New Mexico” was first claimed for the Spanish Crown by the conquistador don
Francisco Vasques de Coronado in 1540, 70 years before the founding of Santa Fe. Coronado and
his men also traveled to the Grand Canyon and through the Great Plains on their New Mexico expedition.

Spanish colonists first settled in northern New Mexico in 1598.
Don Juan de Oñate became the first Governor and
Captain-General of New Mexico and established his capital in 1598 at San Juan Pueblo, 25 miles north
of Santa Fe. When Oñate retired, Don Pedro de Peralta was appointed Governor and Captain-General
in 1609. One year later, he moved the capital to present-day Santa Fe. New Mexico was part of the empire
of New Spain and Santa Fe was the commercial hub at the end of thewhich linked Mexico City with its
northern province.

During the next 70 years, Spanish soldiers and officials, as well as Franciscan missionaries , sought to
subjugate and convert the Pueblo Indians of the region. The indigenous population at the time was close
to 100,000 people, who spoke nine languages and lived in an estimated 70 pueblos, many of which exist today.

In 1680, Pueblo Indians revolted against some 2,500 Spanish colonists, killing 400 of them and driving
the rest back into Mexico. The conquering Pueblos sacked Santa Fe and burned most of the buildings,
except the Palace of the Governors. Pueblo Indians occupied Santa Fe until 1692-93, when don Diego
de Vargas reestablished Spanish control.

When Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Santa Fe became the capital of the province of New Mexico.
Trade was no longer restricted as it was under Spanish rule and trappers and traders moved into the region.
In 1821 William Becknell opened the 1,000 mile-long Santa Fe Trail.

On August 18, 1846, in the early period of the Mexican American War, an American army general, Stephen
Watts Kearny, took Santa Fe and raised the American flag over the Plaza. Two years later, 1848, Mexico
signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceding New Mexico and California to the United States.

In 1851, Vicar Apostolic, and later Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean B. Lamy, arrived in Santa Fe. Eighteen
years later, he began construction on the Saint Francis Cathedral, one of 45 churches he built in
New Mexico. Built in the French Romanesque style, the building is alien to the Spanish heritage of
Santa Fe, but is still one of its greatest landmarks. Constructed on the site of an adobe church
destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt, the Cathedral was built
of locally quarried stone. Portions of the old adobe parish church (La Parroquia), remain in the form
of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary, which houses a wooden stature of the Virgin know as La
Conquistadora, Our Lady of the Conquest. La Conquistadora was first brought to Santa Fe in 1625 and was
returned to the city by the armies of don Diego de Vargas during the reconquest of 1692-93.

For 27 days in March and April of 1862, the Confederate flag of Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley flew
over Santa Fe until he was defeated by Union troops. With the arrival of the telegraph in 1868 and the
coming of the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880, Santa Fe and New Mexico underwent an
economic revolution. Corruption in government, however, accompanied the growth, and President Rutherford B.
Hayes appointed Lew Wallace as a territorial governor to “clean up New Mexico.” Wallace did such a good
job that Billy the Kid threatened to come up to Santa Fe and kill him.

New Mexico gained statehood in 1912 and Santa Fe has been the capital city since statehood.

Ten years before Plymouth Colony was founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims, Santa Fe, New Mexico was established
as the seat of power of the Spanish Empire north of the Rio Grande. Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in
the United States and the oldest European community in the U.S. west of the Mississippi. The Palace of the
Governors, on the north side of the Plaza, is the oldest public building in the United States.

Santa Fe has been a seat of government under the flags of Spain, Mexico, the Confederacy, and the
United States of America. Courtesy of City of Santa Fe

Santa Fe Lore

Fred Harvey
The Santa Fe and Taos Art Communities
Bataan Death March
History of the Loretto Chapel
On the Trail of Billy the Kid
Bob Orlinger: New Mexico’s Killer Deputy
The Death of Pat Garrett
Native American History in Santa Fe
Spanish History

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