Mesilla, New Mexico
Early History
Founding of Mesilla
Gadsden Purchase
Civil War Period
Lively Social Center
The Rio Grande
The Railroad
Political History
The Plaza
Founding of Mesilla

buckboard-web03After 1800, the vicinity of Mesilla was a camping and foraging spot for both Spaniards and Mexicans. It wasn't until after the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 that the first permanent settlers came to Mesilla to make it their home. By 1850, Mesilla was a firmly established colony. The constant threat of attack by the Apache put these early settlers on constant alert. Apaches periodically swept through the Mesilla area, stealing livestock and foodstuffs, murdering colonists and seizing captives. Just as frequently the villages swiftly retaliated by sending out the Mesilla Guard, a militia comprised of a man from each household.  Time after time the militia wrought revenge on any Apache in the area. In 1851, Apache depredations in the Valley caused the United States government to establish Fort Fillmore to protect the newly conquered territory and its people. As a result of the Mexican War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mesilla was within the strip of land claimed by both the United States and Mexico, a "no mans land".

In 1854, the village, being closer to the fort than either Las Cruces or Dona Ana, became the supply center for the garrisoned troops, providing entertainment, food, hay and building materials. The Mexican inhabitants of Mesilla also provided the knowledge needed to build a fort of adobe. The colony of Mesilla flourished. It was a major stop on the crossroads of the Chihuahua Trail, and now the fort demanded items Easterners were accustomed to having. Business prospered and Anglo merchants such as  Fountain, Reynolds, Griggs, and Bean, many of whom had come with the first armies were among those who reaped the profits of commerce. In 1854, The Gadsden Purchase declared Mesilla officially part of the United States. As Mesilla was the most important community in this parcel, the treaty was consummated by the raising of the American flag on the town plaza with much ceremony on November 16, 1854.

Mesilla, New Mexico, USA
Mesilla, New Mexico

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