Santa Rita del Cobre

by J. J. Bowden

 The principal motive for the exploration and con­quest of the northern frontiers of New Spain by the Spaniards was the search for precious metal. Although the Indians of the Southwest had obtained, copper from the extensive natural deposits in the Santa Rita Basin[1] prior to the sixteenth century to make ceremonial bells and crude utensils, the Spaniards had somehow overlooked these diggings for centuries.[2] It was not until 1800 that an Indian guide pointed out the rich field of rod metal to Lieutenant Colonel Jose Manuel Carrasco. The deposit was situated in a small narrow valley which was practically encircled by lofty mountain peaks. The floor of this valley was composed of feldspar and red oxide of copper, intermixed with native metal. While he was a military man and not a trained pros­pector Carrasco immediately realized the value of his discovery. On June 30, 1801 he filed a formal Denouncement covering the Santa Rita del Cobre Mine.[3]

Carrasco commenced working an outcrop, which was located near the site where the Romero shaft was afterwards sunk, and made at least one very profitable trip to Chihuahua with copper ore. However, he did not have sufficient capital to adequately develop the mine and his military duties prevented him from devoting his full attention to it operation. Therefore, he sold the claim to Francisco Manuel de Elguea in 1804. Elguea promptly made plans to further develop and improve the property. Through his extensive political connections, Elguea was able to secure the establishment of a penal colony at Santa Rita del Cobre. Approximately six hundred convicts were originally sent to the colony. The Chihuahuan Government also permitted him to work the prisoners in the mine in consideration for his paying for their maintenance. A medieval type presidio or fort was erected near the mine on a small rise which commanded the approach to the valley. This fort was built for the dual purpose of providing protection against the hostile Apaches and also as a prison to house the convict laborers. It was triangular in form. Each side was about two hundred feet in length and circular towers were constructed at the corners. The fort was made of adobe with walls from three to four feet in thickness. Its only entrance was located on the eastern side.[4] A primitive smelter was also established at the mine to reduce the native copper and copper ore into ingots weighing 150 pounds each.

Life at the mine was monotonously routine, involving only hard work and continual harassment from the Indians. Since the miners were mostly convicts, there were few armed persons at the mine. The isolated location of the mine coupled with the meager defenses afforded by the presidio caused the inhabitants of Santa Rita del Cobra to be deathly afraid of the Apaches. Food was also a major problem at the mine. Since the valley proper was not well watered and was so narrow and mineralized, it was impossible to grow sufficient agricultural products to support the community. Therefore, the miners were totally dependent upon the farmers at Janos and Casas Grandes for flour, beans, corn and other staples. Mining equipment had to be shipped from Chihuahua. Even military protection was completely lacking since the closest post was at Janos, some one hundred and fifty miles to the south.[5]

While the supply caravans were used to carry ingots on their return trips, most of the copper was transported under military protection by pack train to Chihuahua and thence to Mexico City.[6] Two ingots were loaded upon each animal. At least one hundred mules were constantly employed in this work.[7] The deep narrow ruts hewn by the sharp hooves of innumerable Spanish mules, which are still visible in the foothills near Santa Rita, evidence the vast amount of copper which was taken from the mine during the Spanish and Mexican periods. It has been estimated that not less than forty‑one million pounds of copper were mined from Santa Rita del Cobre prior to 1845.[8]

Due to the superior quality of the copper and the extreme scarcity of copper coins[9] in Mexico during the early part of the nineteenth century, the Royal Mint entered into a contract with Elguea to purchase the entire output of the mine for coinage. It has been stated that he was paid sixty-five centavos per pound and that sufficient amounts of gold were found with the copper to pay all costs of transportation. With a free labor supply and a washout on trans­portation costs, Elguea reaped a handsome profit from the mine.[10]

After Elguea’s death, the mine was operated by Juan Oniz under a lease from Maria and Francisco Elguea, who were Francisco Manuel Elguea’s widow and sole surviving heir.[11]

By 1807 the Santa Rita del Cobre mine was in full scale operation. In that year, Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike mentions that the mine was producing 20,000 mule loads or approximately six million pounds of copper annually.[12] Deep shafts were sunk in the hills surrounding the valley. However, little stopping or timbering was done, and as a result thereof cave-ins and accidents were frequent. Chicken ladders were used in descending and climbing out of the shafts.[13]

When Sylvester Pattie and his party of American trappers arrived at Santa Rita del Cobre on July 8, 1825, the Apaches were especially troublesome. Therefore, Juan Oniz requested them to remain with him for two or three months and assist in protection of the miners from the Indians. Oniz offered to pay each of the trappers a dollar a day and agreed that they could freely trap the mountains surrounding the mine. The party consented to stay but refused to accept any pay for their services since the area had an abundance of fur bearing wildlife. Sylvester Pattie contacted the Apaches and threatened them with the entire American army if they did not leave the miners and Pattie’s party alone. This was talk the Indians understood. The bluff worked and the Apaches advised Pattie that they had no objections to making peace with the Americans, but would never make a treaty with the Spaniards. His success in securing the agreement from the Apaches that they would not disturb the mine as long as it was worked by Americans prompted Pattie to try to acquire the property. Having tired of operating the mine under such harsh and dangerous conditions and being fearful that the Indian atrocities would resume if the Americans left, Oniz offered to sub-lease it to Pattie for a term of five years in consideration of an annual rental of one thousand dollars. Pattie accepted the offer subject to the conditions that Oniz furnish him all the provisions and supplies necessary to work the mine during the first year and reimburse him for any improvements he made upon the property.[14]


The arrangement proved to be exceedingly profitable for Pattie and by 1827 he had made a profit in excess of thirty thousand dollars from the mine. On April 18, 1827, Pattie sent a trusted employee to Santa Fe with thirty thousand dollars in gold to purchase goods and equipment for the future operation of the mine. This clerk embezzled the gold and absconded. When he failed to return to the mine, Pattie’s son, James O. Pattie, went in search of him. Failing to find the clerk in Santa Fe or El Paso del Norte, James O. Pattie had no alternative but to report the dilemma to the owner of the mine,[15] for he knew that his father did not have sufficient assets to reorder said supplies and provisions and without them he could not continue to operate the mine. James O. Pattie found the owner of the mine in a state of anxiety and grief, for the President of Mexico had just issued a decree which ordered all persons born in Spain to Leave Mexico within one month. Being of that class, the mine owner was faced with the problem of either selling the mine or entering into some type of permanent arrangement covering its operation. He especially regretted Sylvester Pattie’s misfortune for he had hoped to sell the mine to him. Since Pattie was financially ruined, he owner of the mine had no alternative but to make other arrangements. Pattie delivered possession of the mine to its owner on July 1, 1827. He and his son then set out for Santa Fe with plans to join the first trapping expedition leaving that city for the Red River country.[16]

Shortly after Pattie left, James Kirker, a notorious soldier of fortune and scalp hunter, temporarily managed the property. In 1828, the mine was being operated by a Frenchman named Stephen Coursier under an agreement with its proprietors.[17] During the next seven years Coursier was able to completely monopolize the copper trade in the State of Chihuahua. It has been reported and is generally believed that he made at least half a million dollars out of the mine. Much of his success is attributed to the fact that he was able to secure permission to work the mine from Juan Jose Compa, the leading Apache Chief. Age and booty had taken much of the rancor out of Chief Compa’s once proud and fierce nature. However, the sight of the miners peacefully working in the very heart of Apacheria ate like a cancer in the hearts of the young braves. Finally, in 1834, the Warm Springs Apaches under the leadership of Mangus Colorado refused to continue to follow the fat and lazy Chief. After this date Mangus Colorado and his followers continuously harassed the mine and its supply and pack trains. This renewal of Indian hos­tilities finally forced Coursier to abandon the operation of the mine.[18]

Robert McKnight, an American adventurer, commenced operating the mine for its proprietors in either 1835 or 1836. While the Indians undoubtedly gave McKnight some trouble, he was able to work the mine for several years at a profit.

Meanwhile, the State of Chihuahua took a desperate step in an effort to solve its Indian problem. A barbarous law was promulgated in 1837 entitled Proyecto de Guerra, which offered a bounty for the scalp of an Apache. Sonora previously had enacted a similar law. A party of scalp hunters led by James Johnson sought to reap a quick and easy fortune under this law. They entered into an arrangement with Robert McKnight which provided for the mass extermination of the entire tribe of Mimbreno Apaches, who were then living in the vicinity of the mine. McKnight would benefit from such a scheme by being freed to work the mine without the petty interference from the Mimbrenos, since a massacre would also serve as a warning to the potentially more dangerous Warm Springs Apaches, who were beginning to show signs of resentment due to the increased number of miners that were entering their homelands resulting from the expansion of operations at the mine. The scalp hunters, in turn, would be able to collect the rewards offered for the scalps of the slain Indians from either Chihuahua or Sonora.

The plan was for McKnight to invite the Mimbrenos to the mine for a gala fiesta and once the Indians were gorged and drunk, the scalp hunters would massacre them. The Indians readily accepted and came almost en masse. On April 22, 1837, the inhabitants of Santa Rita del Cobre lived up to their promises of “hospitality.” Roast beef, corn meal mush, and mescal were served in abundance. During the feast, the miners carried out sacks of corn meal and heaped them in a stack in the center of the plaza of the settlement. Off to the far side was a screen of saddles and other baggage. Behind this screen lurked Johnson and his men with a six‑pound cannon which had been loaded to the muzzle with slugs, musket balls, nails, pieces of chain, glass and other odds and ends. The cannon had been previously zeroed in upon the spot where the sacks of corn meal were being stacked. As soon as all the sacks had been placed in the plaza, McKnight invited the Mimbrenos to help themselves to the corn meal as a gift from the people of Santa Rita del Cobre. Not dreaming of treachery, the Indians rushed to the pile and started gathering up the sacks. At this moment, Johnson touched his cigarro to the vent hole of the cannon. The charge mowed through the Indians like a giant scythe. As soon as the blast died out the scalp hunters and miners leaped forward to finish off the slaughter. Soon the plaza was strewn with corpses and fouled with blood. Only a few fleet footed Indians escaped the melee. It has been estimated that from nine hundred to a thousand Indians — men, women and children — perished in the Santa Rita del Cobre massacre.[19]

The atrocity, instead of causing the Apaches to fear the Americans, prompted them to make plans for prompt retaliation. The method chosen was to starve the miners out of Santa Rita del Cobra by severing all lines of communication. It was well known that the mine had only a limited food reserve and was totally dependent upon the periodic supply caravans for replenishment. The planned attack took place in 1838 upon a large wagon train from Chihuahua in a canyon near the Pueblo of Corralitos. The teamsters and wagon guards being short of ammunition were forced to abandon the wagon in order to escape. The Indians took all of the mules and most of the supplies before setting fire to the wagons. They sent word to the inhabitants of Santa Rita del Cobre that they would not let any further supplies reach the mine. The settlement was also warned that sudden death would be the lot of any person they caught outside the village. Thus, the Apaches let it be known that they would no longer tolerate the working of the Santa Rita del Cobre mine. It soon became apparent to McKnight and his miners that they would have to abandon the mine if they were to escape with their lives. The whole population of some three or four hundred persons immediately prepared to make the one hundred fifty mile flight to safety to the Presidio de Janos. They made one fatal mistake in that they attempted to salvage their personal possessions and thereby sacrificed speed for what proved to be millstones around their necks. The slow moving escape caravan was ambushed and only a handful of survivors were able to reach Janos. Such was the price paid by the citizens of Santa Rita del Cobre for their greed.[20]

Leonardo Pesquidros made several attempts to reopen the mine in the 1840s and 1850s under an arrangement with Francisco Elguea and his mother. However, the Apaches successfully thwarted each of such efforts.[21] In 1846, Lieutenant W. H. Emory reported that the mine was deserted.[22] The mine was still shut down five years later when the United States Boundary Commission temporarily occupied the deserted settlement while running the International Boundary between the United States and Mexico. Commissioner John Russell Bartlett found the presidio in an excellent state of preservation and with just a little effort it was converted into a comfortable dwelling for the Commission and its military escort. Many of the more than 50 outlying buildings were also in good condition except for their roofs. In describing the mine, Bartlett stated[23] that:

One of the largest shafts had been filled up in consequence of the earth’s caving in … . Others are obstructed by water, which accumulated near their entrances. Some of the excavations are still accessible…

In June, 1851 Mangus Colorado and a large band of Apaches camped near the mine. At first they were friendly and their conduct was beyond reproach; however, the amicable relationship between the Americans and Indians changed and it was clearly evident that the Apaches were anxious for the white man to depart. The Indians apparently were afraid that the protection offered by the military forces would encourage the reopening of the mine.[24]

The Santa Rita del Cobre mine played an important role in the Conde‑Bartlett Compromise which fixed the location of the initial point of the International Boundary west of the Rio Grande River. Commissioner Bartlett was extremely anxious to secure this valuable natural resource for the United States. Since the Treaty Map coupled with Article V of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo could he interpreted as placing the mine in Mexico, Bartlett was willing to interpret the ambiguous Treaty Map in a way which would give Mexico, among other lands, the western portion of the Mesilla Valley in exchange for the mine.[25] The controversy which developed in the United States as a result of this compromise was not settled until the United States acquired the disputed area from Mexico in 1853 under the Gadsden Purchase.[26]

A small contingency of dragoons from Fort Fillmore occupied the presidio when the Boundary Commission moved out in October, 1851. A post was formally established there on January 23, 1852 and was known as Fort Webster. It was created for the dual purpose of protecting the immediate area from Indian depredations and to deter the Apaches from raiding Mexico as required by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. On September 9, 1852, Fort Webster was moved to a site on the Mimbres River about twelve miles east of Santa Rita del Cobre in order to afford better pasturage for its animals. The Fort proved difficult to supply and defend and was, therefore, permanently abandoned on December 20, 1853.[27]

While the Apaches had successfully prevented Leonardo Pesquidros from working the mine for nearly two decades, he never gave up hope of making a fortune from the rich copper deposits. When his original arrangement with the mine owners expired in 1858, he obtained a new sublease from Maria Guero and Dolores Elguea covering the Santa Rita del Cobre mine. The sublease ran for a term of seven years and contained an option to renew same for an additional seven years. The copper ore was there, but be was able to work the mine only spasmodically. The continuous hostilities of the Apaches coupled with the lessening of demand for copper in Mexico, finally prompted Pesquidros to sell his interest in 1861 to J. B. Sweet and L. W. Lacorte, merchants of San Antonio, Texas.[28]

Sweet and Lacorte, through their agent, Dr. Alexander Brand, promptly commenced working the mine with a crew of one hundred and twenty miners. Fort McLane was established about this same time at a site approximately fifteen miles south of the mine. The Santa Rita del Cobre mine and the nearby Hanover copper mine were producing approximately twelve tons of copper per week when the Civil War commenced. The copper was mined and refined at a total cost of ten cents per pound. The copper ingots were hauled by wagon by way of Mesilla to Port Lavaca, Texas, and transported thence by schooner to New York for an additional cost of six and a quarter cents per pound. The normal price of copper at this time was twenty-three cents per pound. Shortly after the Confederate Army under General Henry H. Sibley invaded New Mexico, in June 1861, the Union forces abandoned Fort McLane. When the Confederates were forced to retreat from northern New Mexico, they confiscated a large amount of copper and most of the mine’s provisions. The lack of protection from the Indians and the shortage of supplies forced the abandonment of the mine of May 10, 1862.[29] After the end of the Civil War, the mine was reopened and worked from time to time by Sweet and Lacorte until their lease expired in 1865.

Noting that the property was unoccupied, James H. Carleton and six associates formed a company known as the Santa Rita Mining Association and filed an application[30] in August, 1866 for a patent covering a 31.26‑acre tract under the mining Act of July 26, 1866.[31] The Santa Rita del Cobre Mine was located on this tract. The only work conducted on this tract by the association was the sinking of a new shaft, at a cost in excess of $1,000.00, between November 1866 and February 1867. This work was done apparently for the sole purpose of complying with the provisions of the mining laws.

By Decision[32] dated December 22, 1869, James S. Wilson, Commissioner of the General Land Office, pointed out that the petitioners’ application was based upon an allegation that they had discovered and opened a new mine. Since the Santa Rita del Cobre was the most famous mine in New Mexico and had been worked continuously for more than sixty years, except for short periods when operations were suspended due to Indian hostilities, he was of the opinion that the application should be denied.

The next move by the Santa Rita Mining Association was to apply for a patent under the mining law upon a theory that the mine had been abandoned and was therefore subject to relocation. By Decision[33] dated May 22, 1870, Commissioner Wilson held that the mine could be relocated only if it had been abandoned for more than ten years and had not been granted in fee simple by competent authority under the government of Spain or Mexico. He found that Santa Rita del Cobre was not subject to relocation since it had been occupied by Sweet and Lacorte under an agreement with Maria Guero and Dolores Elguea during a portion of the critical period. An appeal was taken from this Decision to the Secretary of Interior. On April 15, 1873, the Secretary of Interior held[34] that the claimants had no right to the mine which had been known to the Department of Interior for more than half a century as belonging to the Elguea estate. This decision made it obvious that the interest of the Elguea estate was protected by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Meanwhile, Maria Guero and Dolores Elguea filed a petition[35] with the Surveyor General on November 15, 1872 requesting an investigation of their claim to a grant covering four square leagues of land, being a league in each direction from the center of the main shaft of the Santa Rita del Cobre Mine. The petitioners alleged that they were the sole owners of the tract by virtue of being the widow and sole descendant of Francisco Manuel de Elguea. They asserted that Elguea had acquired title to such land by virtue of a grant from the King of Spain, but that the testimonio evidencing same had been lost or destroyed. They contended that the grant should be recognized and confirmed notwithstanding their inability to produce any written evidence of the grant. They based this contention upon their continuous undisputed occupation and possession of the mine for more than sixty years prior to the unlawful entry on the grant by the Santa Rita Mining Association.

Meanwhile, M. B. Hayes purchased all of Maria Guero and Dolores Elguea’s interest in the grant and mine.[36]

The deed to Hayes was dated October 27, 1873 and recited a consideration of $15,000.00. Hayes, in turn, conveyed[37] an undivided 1/6th interest in the grant and mine to David H. Moffet, Jr., and a similar interest[38] to Joel P. Whitney. Hayes and his associates presented[39] their claim to the Santa Rita del Cobre Mine and grant to Surveyor General H. M. Atkinson. On July 6, 1882 he held[40] that the petitioners had failed to produce sufficient evidence to establish the existence of a valid grant in favor of Francisco Manuel Elguea. Therefore, the petition requesting the recognition of their title to four leagues of land was dismissed. Hayes and his associates appealed this decision to the Secretary of the Interior. In a letter[41] dated February 13, 1883, the Commissioner of the General Land Office advised the attorneys for the applicants that their appeal had been denied because the evidence which had been presented to the Surveyor General could not be construed as a basis of a claim under the treaty provisions. Since there was no evidence of the existence of any claim of right or title in the alleged grantor of your client, there was nothing to be sent to Congress, and your request was accordingly declined. The Commissioner’s letter was supplemented by a decision[42] dated March 3, 1883, by Surveyor General H. M. Atkinson in which he pointed out that:

Under the Spanish and Mexican Governments, grants to mines could only be made by the supreme authorities of those Governments, and mines were usually held by possession and working merely, the claim and right thereto being liable to forfeiture and denouncement unless certain conditions of working and retaining possession of same were complied with (excepting where the supreme authority referred to, had granted the mine and adjacent land in fee) These mining claims which were held for purposes of working only and to which no title in fee had been acquired, were often sold and. conveyed by deed to the purchaser, as under our laws before application for patent, hence the abstract of title which you furnished is not deemed sufficient evidence of title in fee, to the tract claimed to warrant the presumption that a grant was made to Elguea or his grantors, which invested the fee to the Santa Rita del Cobre tract in him. In order to maintain a claim for a tract of land a league square, partly non‑mineral, such as pasture and woodland, there must have been a grant from the proper authority empowered to alienate and convey to the grantee, the fee to the mine and adjacent; but if the mines were held under the usual forfeitable tenure, then the claim would be confined to the right to hold the maximum amount of ground, which could have been embraced in any mining claim or claims, under the Spanish or Mexican law, at the date of the denouncement thereof, and it would in that case devolve upon the claimants to show the nature of the claim, that it was valid and unforfeited at the date of the acquisition of this territory by the United states to the mine or several mines as the case may be, and that no forfeiture has since occurred.…

If a grant in fee is claimed to the square leagues, some proper evidence of the original concession must be filed as the basis of the petition and claim. If the mines are claimed by mere denouncement and possessory title, it will be necessary to amend your petition to cover the facts in the case as herein indicated.


The rejection of each of these applications presented a stranger paradox. The applications made under the mining laws were denied on the grounds that the Santa Rita del Cobre Mine was neither a newly discovered mine nor an abandoned mine. On the other hand, the petition for the confirmation of the Santa Rita del Cobre Grant under the Act of July 22, 1854,[43] was rejected because the applicants had failed to show that their predecessors had received a valid grant covering the copper deposits.

Realizing that there was little possibility of securing the recognition of the Santa Rita del Cobre Grant, Hayes and his associates decided to perfect their title to the mine by securing patents on the copper deposits under the mining laws. In 1873 a large number of mining entries were filed in the name of D. H. Moffet, Jr. By acquiring the rights of Maria Guero and Dolores Elguea, Hayes removed the two obstacles which had prevented the previous location of such lands. Since it had been determined that there had been no grant in fee covering the mine and in view of the fact that Moffet was claiming the mine as a successor of Francisco Manuel Elguea, the applications proceeded to patent without further question. In May of 1883 approximately fifty mining claims, comprising the Santa Rita group, were patented to D. H. Moffet, Jr. These patents covered the area then occupied by the Santa Rita del Cobre mine.[44]

Once title to the mine was finally cleared, full scale operations were resumed at the most historic mine in the United States. Santa Rita del Cobre has since developed into the largest open pit copper mine in the world and is now owned and operated by the Kennecott Copper Corporation.


[1] The Santa Rita Basin lies in the Central Mining District of New Mexico. It is situated about twelve miles east of Silver City. The basin is relatively small, covering an area of only approximately thirty-five square miles. It was situated in the very heart of the Warm Springs and Mirnbreno Apache country. The cool timbered mountains surrounding the Santa Rita Basin abounded with game and contained a profusion of springs. Therefore, it is not difficult to see why the nomadic desert dwellers considered the area as their sacred homeland. Only during the winter months did the Indians seek the warmer climate of the deserts to the south and west. Spencer and Paige, Geology of the Santa Rita Mining Area, New Mexico, 3 (1935); Collins, “Frontier Mining Days in Southwestern New Mexico,” 17 (Masters’ Thesis, University of Texas at El Paso, Texas, 1955).

[2] Beck, New Mexico A History of Four Centuries, 242‑244 (1962)

[3] Almada, Resumen de Historia del Estado de Chihuahua 137 (1955). Law 8, Title 1, Book 6 of the Nueva Recopilación provided that all metals were the property of the sovereign and that the permission of the crown was necessary in order to mine them. On May 22, 1783 Charles III promulgated a royal mining ordinance applicable to all the Spanish Americas except Peru. This ordinance established a procedure known as Denouncement whereby the discoverer of a new mineral deposit could acquire the privilege of mining a two hundred vara square tract of land surrounding the new mine. As work progressed additional lands could be denounced. The crown reserved a royalty of one-fifth of all minerals mined. Hall, The Laws of Mexico, 362,368 (1825); and Hawkins, El Sal del Ray, 7‑9 (1947).

[4] 1 Bartlett, Personal Narrative of Explorations & Incidents in Texas New Mexico, California, Sonora and Chihuahua 23 (1854).

[5] Ibid., 228, and Collins, “Frontier Mining Days in Southwestern New Mexico” 14 (Masters’ Thesis, University of Texas at El Paso, Texas, 1955).

[6] 1 Bartlett, Personal Narrative of Explorations & Incidents in Texas New Mexico California Sonora and Chihuahua 228 (1854).

[7] Miller, New Mexico A Guide to the Colorful State 264 (1962).

[8] Spencer and Paige, Geology of the Santa Rita Mining Area New Mexico 9 (1935).          

[9] Haring, The Spanish Empire in America 311 (1947).

[10] 1 Bartlett, Personal Narrative of Explorations & Incidents in Texas New Mexico, California Sonora and Chihuahua 228 (1854).

[11] The Santa Rita del Cobre Grant, No. F‑194 (M. Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[12] 2 Coves , The Exploration of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, 728 (1895).

[13] Collins, “Frontier Mining Days in Southwestern New Mexico” 13 (Masters’ Thesis, University of at El Paso, Texas, 1955).

[14] Quaife, The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie 115‑123 (1930).

[15] James O. Pattie states that the mine was owned by Francisco Pablo de Lagera. Ibid., 209. However, it should be remembered that Pattie wrote his narrative from memory some three years after the occurrence of this incident. There is a possibility that his memory was hazy when he mentioned the name of the owner of the Santa Rita del Cobre Mine. He was probably making reference to either Pablo Guero, the then husband of Elguea’s widow, or to Francisco Elguea. Both of these persons were apparently expelled from Mexico in 1827.

[16] Ibid 208‑209.

[17] Wislizenus, Memoir of a Tour to Northern Mexico 57‑58 (1848).

[18] Sully, “The Story of the Santa Rita Copper Mine,” 3 Old Santa Fe 138 (1916); Wellman, The Indian Wars of the West 247‑250 (1954); and Wislizenus, Memoir of a Tour of Northern Mexico 58 (1848).

[19] Ceromony, Life Among the Apaches, 31‑32 (1868); Wellman, The Indian Wars of the West 251‑253 (1954) ; and 1 Hodge, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico 799 (1960). Caveat: One account of this macabre incident states that it took place in the Sierra do los Animas Mountains, which are located in Hidalgo County, New Mexico. Almada, Diccionario de Historia Geografía Biografía Sonorenes, 74 (1952).

[20] Wellman, The Indian Wars of the West 258‑260 (1954).

[21] Sully, “The Story of the Santa Rita Copper Mine,” 3 Old Santa Fe 138 (1916); and Ceromony, Life Among the Apaches 32 (1868). 

[22] Calvin, Lieutenant Emory Reports, 97 (1951).

[23] 1 Bartlett, Personal Narrative of Exploration & Incidents in Texas New Mexico, California Sonora and Chihuahua 235‑236 (1854).

[24] Ibid., 322‑323.

[25] Ibid., 201‑208; and Goetzman, Army Exploration in the American West 173‑175 (1959).

[26] Garber, The Gadsden Treaty, 146 (1959).

[27] Thomlinson, “Forgotten Fort,” 23 New Mexico Magazine 39‑41 (1943); and Carson, “William Carr Lane Diary,” 39 New Mexico Historical Review 217‑218 (1964).

[28] Collins “Frontier Mining Days in Southwestern New Mexico” 31 (Masters’ Thesis, University of Texas at El Paso, Texas, 1955).

[29] Ibid., 34; and Spencer and Paige, Geology of the Santa Rita Mining Area New Mexico 6 (1935).

[30] The Santa Rita del Cobre Grant, No. F-107 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[31] The Mining Act of 1866, Chap. 262, 14 Stat. 251 (1866).

[32] The Santa Rita del Cobre Grant, No. F‑107 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] 1 Deed Records 543 (Mss., Records of the County Clerk’s Office, Silver City, New Mexico).

[37] Ibid., 627.

[38] 7 Deed Records 250 (Mss., Records of the County Clerk’s Office, Silver City, New Mexico)

[39] The Santa Rita del Cobre Grant, No. F‑194 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[40] Ibid.

[41] Santa Rita Mines, 1 L.D. 588 (1883).

[42] The Santa Rita del Cobre Grant, No. F‑194 (Mss. Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[43] An act to establish the office of Surveyor General of New Mexico. Kansas, and Nebraska, to grant donations to actual settlers therein, and for other purposes, Chap. 103, 10 Stat. 308 (1854).

[44] W. J. Anderson to J. J. Bowden, May 25, 1964.


Santa Rita del Cobre; J.J. Bowden's research on land grants in the southwest.