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Bonnell family photographs

Identifier: Ms-0432

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 440 photostatic copies made from original photographs. Most photographs depict activities at the Bonnell Ranch, ca. 1915-1955. Also included are photographs from the Crow Indian Reservation, Montana, ca. 1911-1914. Copied items from the original scrapbook, compiled by Eleanor B. Shockey, include items such as advertising trade cards, letters, news clippings, business cards, canceled checks and an archaeological investigation into the Bonnell Site.


  • ca. 1880s-1950s
  • Majority of material found in Placeholder Unit Date Text

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open. All materials in this collection are available for research under supervised conditions in the Research Room.

Copy Restrictions

Copyrights associated with materials in this collection have not been transferred to New Mexico State University.

Biography / History

Edwin Bonnell (1848-1893) arrived in White Oaks, New Mexico in 1880, coming from Larned, Kansas with his four young sons Erva, 8, Harvey, 6, Bert, 4, and Nelson, 2. Bonnell's wife had died in Kansas in 1878. He began business activities in lumber, mercantile, mining and real estate during the boom years of White Oaks in the 1880s and 1890s. Bonnell remarried in 1884 and fathered four more children. He died in 1893 at the age of 45 and is buried in the Cedarville Cemetery.

In 1892, Bert and Nelson Bonnell were sent to Pomona, Kansas to live with relatives and finish school. They returned to Lincoln County and worked on ranches south of White Oaks and in the Hondo and Ruidoso valleys. In 1899 they began working for rancher and farmer Frank Coe at Glencoe in the Ruidoso Valley. The two brothers married Sydney and Agnes Coe, daughters of Frank Coe.

Bert Bonnell and Sydney Coe were married at the Coe Ranch on December 18, 1900. Their first son, Frank, was born in December 1901. Bonnell continued to work for Frank Coe until 1909, when the family moved to Dewey, Arizona. A daughter, Mildred, was born in Dewey in 1910. In 1911 the family moved to the Crow Indian Agency in Montana, where Bert Bonnell had been named superintendent. After three years, the family moved back to Glencoe and purchased the property adjacent to the Frank Coe ranch. There they planted fruit trees and raised hogs, cattle and poultry, which they sold to the U.S. Marine Hospital at Fort Stanton, nine miles to the north.

The Bonnell ranch was located on one of the primary routes across southern New Mexico, later U.S. Highway 70, and became a stop on the Pickwick Stage Line where passengers could rest and have a meal. They served homemade meals from livestock, fruits and vegetables grown on the ranch. The Bonnells began to receive requests to allow boarders, especially during the summer months, and their guest ranch business was born. The original house was enlarged to 18 rooms and 10 individual cottages were built behind the house. They charged a per-person rate of $2.50 per day, $15.00 per week, or $50.00 per month for room and board. Activities for the guests included horseback riding, tennis, fishing, croquet, card playing and hayrides. Additionally, there was a dance every Saturday night at the ranch with live music provided by family and friends.

The Bonnell Ranch continued to be a working cattle ranch and farm. Bert Bonnell raised registered Herford cattle and was an active member of the American Hereford Association. The Bonnells actively participated in school, church and civic organizations.

Activities at the guest ranch began to decline in 1941 with the coming of WWII. Bert Bonnell died after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on November 23, 1951. Sydney Bonnell died May 2, 1955. The Bonnells' second son, Ralph, took over operation of the ranch following the death of his parents. A flood in 1965 severely damaged many of the buildings of the old guest ranch and in 1972 the ranch house was demolished to make room for the new, widened highway.


440 items


Pioneer residents of White Oaks, New Mexico, and later operators of the Bonnell Ranch, a popular guest ranch near Glencoe in the Ruidoso Valley during the 1920s and 1930s. The collection consists primarily of images of the Bonnell Ranch operation, ca. 1915-1950s, and the Crow Indian Reservation, where Bert Bonnell was superintendent from 1911-1914. Photostatic copies were made from a scrapbook, a photograph album and loose photographs.


  1. RG2002-092 Eleanor B. Shockey

Processing Information

Dennis Daily, November 2002
Guide to the Bonnell family photographs, ca. 1880s-1950s
Edited Full Draft
© 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA