Hon. Benjamin Franklin Pankey, state senator and ranchman, whose efforts along political as well as business lines have been an element in the progress, prosperity, and up building of the new State, was born in Harrisburg, Illinois, in 1861. He comes of French ancestry and his parents were William H. and Sarah Ann (Bickers) Pankey, natives of Illinois and Tennessee respectively. His early education was acquired in the public schools of Harrisburg, after which he attended Ewing College in Illinois. Early in life he became interested in the cattle business and when seventeen years of age was a small shipper to the St. Louis market. His identification with the West dates from 1882 when he became a resident of Topeka, Kansas. For a time he owned and cultivated a farm near Topeka, but afterwards removed to that city, having conceived the idea of organizing an independent telephone company as competitor of the Bell Company. The result of this move on his part was that Topeka was granted telephone service that was fair and that was free from the exorbitant rates of the trust. For six years, from 1901 until 1907, Mr. Pankey was owner and president of the Topeka Independent Telephone Company and then sold his holdings at a handsome profit. In the meantime he had purchased ten thousand acres of land near Emporia, thus becoming owner of one of the largest cattle ranches in Kansas. He took up the study of law but never practiced it. His interests centered in the cattle industry and in 1907 he removed to Santa Fe County, New Mexico, where he purchased eighty-five thousand acres of land, part of the San Cristobal land grant, and later acquired additional land until his holdings reach one hundred and fourteen thousand acres. He is today the largest individual cattle shipper in New Mexico. His life clearly demonstrated the possibilities of the West and he may well be termed the Cattle King of this State. His ranch today is one of the most picturesque and ideal in the world, covering one hundred and fifty square miles, being twenty-eight miles in length and ten miles in width. It is an historic spot, having been the home of the Pueblo Indians and the scene of many battles. It is one of the interesting places for the research of the archaeologist. The ranch is called "San Cristobal" from the name of an Indian pueblo which was situated there four hundred years ago and the ruins of which can yet be seen. Of all the buildings once standing, only the altar of the church remains — a semi-circular wall rising abruptly out of the ground. Scattered about for many yards can be found buried pieces of hand-painted pottery, artistic in their very crudeness. A New Mexico publication has said:
Senator Pankey was but eighteen years of age when in January, 1880, in Harrisburg, Illinois
, he married Miss Flora W. Harris and they now have five married daughters and one son, Dana M. In his political views he is a Republican and his opinions carry weight in the councils of his party. He was a member of the constitutional convention of New Mexico
in 1909 and in 1911 was elected state senator from the tenth district, becoming a member of the first senate. In the fields of both political and commercial activity he has won distinction and is today numbered among the leading, influential, and honored citizens of the State. He possesses the enterprising spirit of the West which has been the dominant factor in producing the wonderful development of this section of the country, and he belongs to that class of representative American citizens who promote the general prosperity while advancing individual interests.