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H. E. Beisman Collection

Identifier: Beisman

Scope and Content

This collection documents the history of the Beisman surveying business. It includes plat descriptions, Storrie Irrigation Project records, correspondence and business records from Henry Beisman and his predecessors, mainly V.K. Jones and J.B. Franzini. The plat descriptions were used in recording property deeds, for warranty and quit claim deeds, for land sales and purchases, for legal matters, and for dividing land among the heirs of an estate, along with various other uses. Many of these descriptions include Mr. Beisman's handwritten notes and mathematical calculations. The plat descriptions cover Las Vegas, San Miguel County, Mora County, Colfax County, and much of northeastern New Mexico. The Storrie Irrigation Project records document the work done by several surveyors over the course of the Project, which created the Storrie Lake Reservoir. This project was a major undertaking, providing water and recreation, to the Las Vegas (N.M.) area. These records include reports, letters, sketches, and newspaper clippings.


  • 1901-1954

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Access is by appointment only. Please contact the Library, 505-454-3401, or Lynn Gates, or 505-454-3255, to schedule an appointment.

Researchers and visitors are required to sign the registration book, state the purpose of their visit, and leave a NMHU identification card, driver’s license or other photographic identification while using the research materials.

The Beisman Collection Policy may be found on the Policy & Procedure Page of the Library website:

Copy Restrictions

Generally duplication is allowed for research purchases, fragile materials may be restricted. The user is responsible for all copyright compliance.

The Reference desk will handle permission and supervision of copying. Large items that do not fit on Library scanners or copiers will need to be sent to the NMHU GAINS lab or county assessors office. All fees for the GAINS lab or county assessors office must be payed in advance and only Library staff may deliver items to be scanned or copied.

Biography / History

Henry Beisman was born June 14, 1898 in Loma Parda, New Mexico, which was about a mile north of the road from Watrous to Buena Vista (State Route 161). His mother's family were millers on the Mora River. His parents lived there until the flood of 1904 destroyed the mill. They moved to the Mineral Hill area soon after that.

Henry worked at the Terrero Mine until Joseph Franzini offered him a job. Mr. Franzini had taken over the V.K. Jones surveying business. Mr. Franzini encouraged Henry to learn civil engineering, which he did through correspondence school and working for Mr. Franzini. Mr. Franzini had the 36th Professional Engineering license in the state, and Henry received the 136th Professional Engineering license in the state. The Franzini family also greatly influenced Henry’s sons, Gene and Gary. Gene attended Caltech, the same college as Mr. Franzini’s son Joseph B., and received a degree in engineering. Gene also attended Stanford where Joseph was a professor of civil engineering.

In 1926, when the Franzini family moved to El Paso, Henry took over the business. The original business was located in the Veeder building on the west side of the Plaza Hotel. In 1938, Henry moved the business to a gas station on the south side of the plaza. He was able to move in the large desk through the gas station’s garage door, which later was walled and windowed in. Henry built the huge wood drafting table inside of the building. Since the table could not fit through the door, it was left behind when the rest of the collection was moved to Donnelly Library in 2009.

Henry married Alta Jones on September 11, 1930 in Ft. Sumner. Ms. Jones was a school teacher at Mineral Hill and living with the Beisman family. Ms. Jones was originally from western Kansas. The Beisman family lived at the back of the business office. They were quite active in the community. They helped organize the City Museum on the plaza and spruced up Plaza Park. Alta took care of the flowers in all of the triangles around the plaza. Henry was active in the Business Owners Association/Chamber of Commerce and frequently drew maps for them in order to promote the area.

Henry was fluent in Spanish, English, and German, which helped when communicating with his clients. One of his major accomplishments was the design of the Variadero Bridge on Route 104 for the Works Progress Administration. Although the bridge is no longer used, it still stands just south of the S.R. 419 intersection. He is most remembered for doing property surveys, mostly in San Miguel, Mora, Guadalupe and Colfax counties.

Henry passed away on July 21, 1992.

In 2009 Henry's sons Gary and Gene donated artifacts and paper materials from the Beisman Land Surveying business to the Thomas C. Donnelly Library. This included furniture and survey equipment, as well as, all of the survey maps (8,000+), field notebooks, deeds, business records, newspaper clippings, photographs, and books.

Other Early Surveyors:

1. V.K. Jones took over his father’s (Claude Jones) business. He designed a hydroelectric waterwheel system to deliver power to Las Vegas, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. It was never built.

2. Joseph Franzini was a professor of engineering in St. Louis and moved to Mineral Hill in 1915 after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. In 1919, the family moved to Las Vegas and lived at 1212 Sixth Street. He served as surveyor/county engineer. They left the area in 1926 and moved to El Paso and then to Pasadena, California. His son, Joseph B. Franzini, attended Caltech and later became a professor of civil engineering at Stanford. Mr. Franzini died in 1943. His wife, Mary, lived until 1988. She and her identical twin sister, Mildred Widmann Philippi, were listed in the Guiness Book of Records as being the oldest living twins at 104 years old in 1984. (Las Vegas Daily Optic, Aug. 5, 1987)


37 Boxes


This collection consists of both artifacts and paper material from the Beisman Land Surveying business. The artifacts include furniture (e.g. map cases, bookshelves, etc.) and survey equipment. The paper material includes survey maps (8,000+), deeds, business records, newspaper clippings, photographs, and books.

Separated Material

While all of the donated materials are together in the Henry E. Beisman Collection Room, the books and survey maps are not included in this guide. Please search for the books through our online catalog and the survey maps have their own inventory which can be found on the Special Collections & University Archives page of the Library website:

Processing Information

This project was made possible through grants funded by the State of New Mexico and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
Guide to the H. E. Beisman Collection,
Edited Full Draft
Lynn E. Gates
© 2016
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico Highlands University Repository