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Area History

The area that became the territory of New Mexico was once a mysterious province, new to the Spanish Empire. Its earliest inhabitants were pueblo people and natives who lived in dirt huts. In the beginning of the 1600's Pedro de Peralta, a man who would later govern the entire Mexican province, created the little settlement of Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico.

Times were tough in the beginning. A pueblo revolt sent the inhabitants running from their homes for nearly 15 years. In its infancy, Santa Fe was built to be a center for trade between the vast lands east and south. Among the other infant settlements developed during this time was the town of Albuquerque, named after the viceroy of New Spain.

With the Pueblo revolt over and the province in the hands of New Spain, it began to look as if it were to become a part of the newly independent country of Mexico. Mexican officials were giving land away, trying to get people in the scarcely inhabited province.

Toward the beginning of the 19th century, white fur trappers from the east were making their way to Santa Fe to set up trade. Most cases had the Mexican authorities outlawing trade with the whites. One trader, William Becknell, came back from Santa Fe with the idea that it should be used for more increased trading with the Mexicans. In 1821, he made his way down the Santa Fe trail, thus opening trade between New Mexico and the United States.

The great Mexican-American War of the 1840's brought New Mexico into the hands of the United States. The New Mexico Territory would soon become a staple of the fabled American West. When Gold was discovered, mining towns sprang up all over, and with them came disorder and chaos. New Mexico in the late1800's was the wild west.