Descendants of several early settlers provided family photos and told their stories at an event in Jemez Springs in 2003, where their photos were originally displayed. Those photos are shown below. Other families’ photos come to us from a variety of sources. Captions here were written on the original photos. Not all persons are identified in the following photos. If you can add names or dates to any of these faces from the early days, please post a comment. If you have a collection of family photos you would like to include here, please contact Judith Isaacs, 575-829-3382.
Scroll down to see stories and images from early families in the area.
Moses Abousleman came to America from Lebanon in the early 1890s and first made his way to Santa Fe. Always an entrepreneur, he was a traveling salesman, selling housewares of all kinds from the back of a wagon, according to an article by Linda Vozar Sweet in the New Mexico Magazine of May 1997. (Lebanese are the second largest group of European immigrants in New Mexico after the Italians.) He subsequently operated two trading posts at Jemez Pueblo before moving to Jemez Springs in 1912. His many businesses included a mercantile, livery stable, saloon and bath house. In addition to being a merchant, he owned as many 40,000 sheep, which he grazed throughout the Jemez Mountains. The first Abousleman store (or maybe a saloon) in Jemez Springs burned down in the 1920s. He then built what is now the Los Ojos Saloon, which his sons operated until it was sold in the 1940’s.
Sweet wrote that Moses Abousleman was responsible for many “firsts” in the Jemez Springs: first telephone, first hydro-electric generating plant (which later became the start of Jemez Mountain Electric Cooperative), first house to have indoor running water. Moses died in 1934; Edna the following year. Both are buried in the Jemez Springs Catholic Cemetery.
Moses and Edna’s eight children went on to become prominent citizens in Jemez Springs, Espanola and Bernalillo. Their daughter, Josephine Shepard, served three terms as mayor of Jemez Springs from 1970-78, and she was instrumental in starting the first library, first health clinic, first sewage treatment plant, first fire department, and first public school district. Another daughter, Lillian Sotel, was superintendent of the Jemez Valley Schools. A son, Fred, was manager of the Jemez Mountain Electric Coop.
Son Tom became a building contractor, remained in Jemez Springs and lived in the big white house that Moses built – the house in which he was born — until his death in 2009. He was the youngest of the eight children.
The following photos of their family were first shared at a Storytellers Get-together in 2003 at Jemez Fine Arts Gallery.
Caldwell & Fenton Families
Elijah McLean Fenton
The Rev. Elijah McLean Fenton came to New Mexico as a missionary in 1881. In addition to his duties as a preacher, he became a surveyor and surveyed most of Sandoval County. In 1892, he was at the Jemez Pueblo mission, and his wife, Jessie Lime Fenton, was a school teacher there. He also served missions at Cuba and Regina. About this time, he and his family homesteaded on Cebolla Creek and built a stock pond which later became Fenton Lake. Elijah and Jessie had two children: Elijah Jr. and Jean. Over the years, their land holdings expanded to 640 acres. His brother, George, also homesteaded in the same area and was married to Jessie’s sister, May Lime, also a school teacher at Jemez Pueblo.
Elijah McLean (E.M.) Fenton Jr., aka Mac Fenton
Elijah McLean (E.M.) Fenton Jr., aka Mac Fenton, lived in the Jemez Mountains most of his life and worked at various jobs besides running their ranch. According to an article by Alice Fenton in the Sandoval County Review, Sept. 20, 1978, he was a surveyor, boiler maker’s apprentice, freight hauler, member of the National Guard, timber cruiser, and assistant forest ranger.
In 1919, he married Alice Brown, and they continued to ranch on Cebolla Creek. After Mac and Alice retired, they moved to Ponderosa to be near their children. Most of the original Fenton land was sold to Calvin and Ruth Horn, who donated the land to Manzano Day School. It is operated currently as an environmental education center.
Some years ago, before the library had a scanner, a descendant of the Block family gave us these photos, which were duplicated on copier, along with the handwritten notes.
Photos taken from 1910-1930 from the estate of the James B. Block family, who lived in Jemez Springs and Albuquerque.
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