In the dark and mysterious
underworld, the womb of the earth itself, the people and animals
live with their kind and loving mother. To the north, near the
sand, there is a lake where the first people climb the great
fir tree and emerge to populate the earth. With them come good
and bad spirits who can dwell in everything, rocks, trees, animals,
plants and people.
The Rio Grande Riverat least the section that runs through
northern New Mexicois not a typical river that has carved
out its own valley. Rather, the valley appeared first and the
river followed. This "rift valley" is a separation
in the earths crust caused by faulting and other earth
movements when the North American and Pacific plates scraped
against each other some twenty-nine million years ago.
Early people roam the area, hunting large mammals, such as mammoth,
and gathering wild foods for subsistence. They live in the open,
sleeping in crude shelters, or in overhanging caves.
Local people begin to adopt the idea of agriculture from neighbors
in Mexico. Farming, even on a small scale, begins to restrict
their movements to smaller areas where they can harvest what
had been planted, thus leading to more elaborate shelter, and
the development of communities and cultural differences.
Pottery, pit houses for year round living, and village life with
ceremonial structures begin to make their appearance.
Great multi-storied pueblos are first constructed. Not long after
this time, pueblos appear in the Taos Valley.
Athabascan people (now called Apaches and Navajos) from the north
and east begin to visit and settle in areas nearby to the Taos
The Taos Pueblo structures were probably built between A.D. 1300
and 1450. Some "experts" place the date at 1350 when
the Pot Creek Pueblo became abandoned and some of the inhabitants
apparently moved to Picuris Pueblo and others moved to the Taos
At the end of August of this year, Hernando de Alvarado, captain
of Francisco Vasquez de Coronados artillery, is sent from
Hawikuh to explore to the north and east. Leading a detachment
of twenty soldiers, and accompanied by the chaplain, Fray Juan
de Padilla, Alvarado travels east past the great rock of Acoma.
Upon reaching the great river which he calls Río de Nuestra
Señora, they are visited by twelve representatives of
pueblos to the north with friendly greetings, so Alvarado and
his soldiers travel that direction, going from town to town.
Upon reaching an impassable canyon, they climb to a high plain,
and on the edge come to a large pueblo divided in two parts by
a river. He understands it to be called Braba. From there they
travel to the east to see the plains after sending a report about
the pueblos to the General.
In September, a solemn event is celebrated in the temporary church
that had been built by Don Juan de Oñates colonists
at San Gabriel. The governor asks the chiefs of the Indian provinces
if, in order to receive benefits of military protection and the
guidance of the missionaries. they would swear allegiance to
the crown. The Indians agree, and after the papers are drawn
up, each Indian leader signs "amid great rejoicings".
Fray Alonzo Martinez asks if they would be saved. After deliberation,
the response is, that if, after instruction, they liked what
they learned, they would follow the teaching, but if they did
not like it, it would not do to be forced to accept something
they did not understand. Thereupon, Fray Alonzo rededicated each
of the Franciscans to their calling, and assigned each to go
alone with the Indians to a pueblo. Fray Francisco de Zamora
is given the northernmost pueblos, Picurís and Taos.
The difficulties of the colonists and their complaints cause
Oñate to fall into disfavor, and he is replaced by Pedro
de Peralta as governor. One charge against Oñate is that
he killed a young Taos leader by hurling him from a roof.
1610 - 1617
Fray Francisco de Zamora was based at the Taos Pueblo to spread
the Catholic faith in the Taos Valley. The first mission church
was founded around 1610-12 or 1617 and became known as Mission
de San Geronomio.
Resentments over the attempts by religious authorities to quash
native rites, and the demands by encomenderos ** for tribute
cause hostility from the Taos Pueblo and culminate in this year
when the Indians kill their priest, Fray Pedro de Miranda, and
other Spanish people in the vicinity and flee northeastward to
the Cuartelejo Apache villages.
**Encomienda - A provision
of guardianship by which each Spanish landholder has "commended"
to him the Indians who live on his land. He is responsible for
their spiritual and physical welfare, and in return work, crops
or products are owed to him. In practice, far away from Spanish
authority, this amounts to slavery.
Taos people return reluctantly to their pueblo at the urging
of Governor López de Mendizábal amid charges and
countercharges between the governor and religious authorities
regarding the troubled relationship with the Indians.
All of the Pueblos, skillfully organized by Popé, a native
of San Juan Pueblo who had been hiding at Taos, rise in revolt
on August 10. At Taos, some seventy settlers, as well as the
priests, Antonio de Mora and Juan de la Pedrosa are killed. Don
Fernando Durán y Chávez and his son Cristóbal,
who have a hacienda nearby escape to Santa Fé. Two other
landowners, Sebastián de Herrera and Diego Lucero de Godoy
who are away at the time also escape, but lose their families
in the massacre. The combined Pueblo forces drove the Spanish
out of New Mexico until 1692.
Don Diego De Vargas completed the Re-Conquista of NM with the
last phase being completed in 1696 when De Vargas persuaded the
Taos Pueblo Indians to drop their arms and come back out of the
In June of this year, Governor Juan Ignacio Flores de Mogollón
revalidates a grant made previously a soldier, Cristóbal
de la Serna, who had been unable to take posession previously
in 1710 because of his military service. The cacique, governor
and lieutenant governor of the pueblo of Taos are summoned by
Alcalde Juan de la Mora Piñeda, and make no objection
to the act of posession by Serna.
The Diego Lucero de Godoy Landgrant was granted to Antonio Martinez
and became the Martinez Grant.
The Spanish government forbids trade with the French, and limits
trade with the Plains Indians only to Taos and Pecos, thereby
giving rise to the annual summer trade fairs at those locations
where Comanches, Kiowas and others come in great numbers to trade
captives for horses, grain and trade goods from Chihuahua.
In late summer, three thousand Comanches descend on the Taos
Valley, intent on destroying the Pueblo, and carry away 56 women
and children. By legend, one of these is María Rosa de
Villalpando, beautiful daughter of a settler, who, in order to
gain the friendship of the Indians had promised her as a child
to one of the chiefs in marriage. Now older, she refuses the
chief, thus precipitating the raid. According to Josiah Gregg,
she lives for some years among the Comanches, is bartered to
the Pawnee, from whom she is purchased by a Frenchman of St.
Louis, and lives to a ripe old age with many descendants there.
At the time of the American Declaration of Independence according
to the census taken by Father Dominguez, the Taos Valley area
contained 67 families with 306 Spaniards. The Ranchos de Taos
area was the most populated at that time.
By this year, Spanish settlers who had been living within and
close to the Taos Pueblo for protection from raiding Indians,
have moved to the location of the present town of Taos. In the
following year, Governor Fernando Chacón approves a grant
there, and 63 families are placed in posession of the Don Fernando
de Taos grant by Alcalde António José Ortíz.
The boundary of this grant overlaps with land granted earlier
to the pueblo, as well as the La Serna Grant.
- ( Interesting account from the Spanish Archives of New Mexico
Don Severino Martinez Family including Padre Jose Antonio Martinez
moved to Taos and the Martinez Hacienda was built in 1804 in
a fortress style architecture.
The Taos Tax Revolt occured when 280 Spanish subjects living
in Taos were jailed for protesting the heavy handed method the
Alcalde Mayor, Pedro Martin presented the new 5% tax. The complaint
was presented to the New Mexico Governor Alberto Maynez who addressed
the grievance by accepting the citizens oath of loyalty to the
Spanish Crown. The Alcalde Mayor Pedro Martin resigned and was
Mexican Independence from Spain was hardly noticed in Taos but
the trickle of newcomers from the East became a floodtide after
the opening of the Santa Fe Trail.
Padre António José Martínez, newly ordained,
is assigned to the parish of Guadalupe at Taos. This same year,
a sixteen year old runaway apprentice named Christopher Carson
arrives in Taos from Missouri with a group of traders led by
Cerán St. Vrain.
The first printing press west of the Mississippi River was brought
to Taos by Padre Martinez who then published the first newspaper
"El Crepusculo" which is the predecessor to The Taos
News. The first book published in New Mexico was published for
Padre Martínez, after giving him instruction, baptizes
Kit Carson as a Catholic so he can become engaged to marry Josefa
Kit and Josefa marry. Kit Carson purchases a house from the Jaramillo
family as a wedding present to his new bride. The house built
in 1825, served as the Carsons' home until 1868, and today as
the Kit Carson Home and Museum.
Col. Stephen W. Kearney with his "Army of the West"
occupied New Mexico for the U.S. and Charles Bent of Taos was
appointed as the first American Governor of N.M.
Taos Pueblo Indians and firebrand Hispano nationalists revolted
against the U.S. occupation and landgrant land losses. Governor
Bent was murdered and Captain Burgwin died in final assault on
the Pueblo Church where the resistors took refuge. After a trial,
several vanquished rebels convicted of crimes related to the
uprising were then sentenced and hung at the Taos Plaza.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed ending the Mexican/American
War ceding Taos and the Southwest to the U.S. and making all
non-Indian inhabitants who did not leave within one year citizens
of the U.S.
Early this year, a hot and bitter struggle in Congress over Texas,
New Mexico, Utah and California reaches dangerous heights, but
by September a bill is agreed to which admits California as a
free state, establishes the boundary between Texas and New Mexico,
and admits New Mexico and Utah as territories with the right
to hold slaves left open. A great conflict over slavery is averted
In the following year, the New Mexico territorial government
is organized and in the first legislative assembly, among other
acts, Taos County is established to include "all the territory
north of the line running west from Tetilla de la Petaca to the
California line; and southeast from the Petaca through Embudo,
Rincones, and Las Trampas to the junction of the Mora and Sapello
Rivers and thence due east to the Texas line."
The Ceran St. Vrain Taos Grist Mill established on the Rio Grande
del Ranchos, 3 miles upstream from the Ranchos de Taos Plaza.
Flour from this mill was to supply the growing needs of the new
US military presence.
Battle of Cieneguilla - The First Dragoons from Ft. Burgwin commenced
an unauthorized attack on the Jicarilla Apache village near Dixon.
The First Dragoons were defeated by the Apaches losing 24 soldiers.
For a few months, a privately owned pony express between Denver
and Santa Fé traverses the old Taos trail.
Civil War battles occured in New Mexico at Valverde and Glorieta.
"The Long Trail" - 8,000 Navajos and 500 Mescalero
Apache who had surrendered to Col. Kit Carson were marched 300
miles from Arizona across Northern New Mexico to be held at the
Bosque Redondo on the Pecos River. 3,000 of these prisoners died
due to starvation and disease.
The Río del Norte and Santa Fé Railroad is incorporated
in Taos. The proposed line is projected from Costilla through
Taos and on to Santa Fe, but is never surveyed. Later attempts
to bring rail service to Taos also fail and Taos remains somewhat
isolated today, distant from many of the stresses of development.
The first American artist, Ernest Blumenschien and Bert Phillips
arrive in Taos when their wagon wheel broke. They liked it and
stayed, later to establish an Artist Colony.
New Mexico became the 47th state.
Taos Society of Artists was formed by Bert Philips, Ernest Blumenschein,
Oscar Berninghaus, Josepf Sharp, E. Irving Couse and Herbert
(disbanded in 1927) - Additional Information
Town of Taos was incorporated.
Taos Ski Valley (TSV) was started.
Taos Gorge Bridge was completed.(US 64)
The New Buffalo commune was founded in Arroyo Hondo. The Taos
area was a mecca for the Hippie movement and was duplicated for
the Easy Rider movie set. This and other communes in the surrounding
area is where the young Counter Culture dreamed of building a
better world. Taos became known as the Hippie Capital in the
The US government returns sacred Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo in
a landmark decision.
On the 4th of July The Encebado Fire was ignited by lightening
within a mile of the historic Taos Pueblo Buildings. It took
more than a thousand fire fighters 13 days to contain the 5,400
acre blaze. Fortunately there was no loss of life or structures
but the Rio Pueblo watershed and the sacred pueblo land will
take a generation to recover.
Thanks to Andy Lindquist and
Robert Romero in compiling this time line.