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Blazer Family papers

Identifier: Ms-0110

Scope and Content

The Blazer Family Papers document a century (1864-1965) of varied activities by a pioneerfamily living on land in the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation in southern New Mexico. In1867, Joseph H. Blazer took over the operation of a sawmill which was important economicallyto the region, and in 1878 was the scene of one of the battles of the Lincoln County War. Thesignificance of this collection is enhanced by the family's proximity to the Mescalero Apaches,its ties with New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Las Cruces, New Mexico,particularly professors Hugh Megalone Milton II and Ralph W. Goddard, and the creativeproductions of family members. One of the most important segments of the collection iscomprised of some five hundred photographs.

The Blazer Family Papers consist of eleven linear feet of materials (ca. 2,476 items) and havebeen arranged in eight series, five of which are by family member: Joseph Hoy Blazer, AlmerNewton Blazer, Joseph's son; Emma Blazer Thompson and John Howard Thompson, Joseph'sdaughter and son-in-law; Paul A. Blazer, Almer's son; and Noel E. Blazer, Almer's son; theseventh series is a Miscellany. Within each of the first six series the documents are divided intosub-series such as correspondence, financial documents, legal documents, etc., where applicable.Photographs make up the eighth series.

The materials in the Joseph H. Blazer series cover the years 1864-1901 and includecorrespondence and financial and legal records which pertain primarily to the acquisition andearly operation of the water-powered sawmill and grist mill. One item of interest is a copy of anagreement made in 1877 between the town of Tularosa and the settlers of Tularosa Canyonregarding construction of a ditch to bring water to the town from the Tularosa River.

A. N. Blazer followed his father in the operation of the mill, so the mill records are continuedas financial documents in the third series. He also became a licensed Indian trader, as his fatherhad been, and took over the management of the family farm. The family's many legal strugglesover water and land are well documented by his carefully preserved records and correspondence.

A. N. Blazer was a writer and had several articles and stories published in such periodicals asNew Mexico Magazine and Frontier Times. However, he was never able to find apublisher for his two major works, "Los Jirones" and "Santana." These stories are based on hispersonal knowledge of life among the Mescalero Indians and present much information abouttheir beliefs and activities. The richest source of information regarding the Mescaleros' customsand rituals, however, is found in his correspondence with artist-author William Robinson Leigh.Leigh wrote a novel, "Little Foot," based on information supplied by A. N. Blazer about theMescalero Indians' way of life. (This novel also was never published.)

A. N. Blazer was a thirteen-year-old witness to a gunfight at Blazer's Mill involving Billy theKid. There is little in the collection concerning this episode with the exception of his account,published in the Alamogordo News, July 16, 1928, and a transcript of remarks made by A. N.Blazer and George Coe at a public meeting in Mescalero in 1932. There is more materialconcerning Billy the Kid in Paul A. Blazer's correspondence, but it doesn't deal specifically withthis gunfight.

A. N. Blazer devoted more than fifty years to the invention and improvement of the BlazerInternal Combustion Rotary Engine and held patents on its various parts. The Blazer SpiralEngine Company was incorporated in 1906. In 1909 it licensed the Sullivan MachineryCompany of Boston, Massachusetts, to make, sell and use the rotary engine known as the BlazerSpiral Engine. The Blazer Spiral Pump was made and distributed by the HumphryesManufacturing Company of Mansfield, Ohio in 1910. Tests of this pump were conducted atNew Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1927.

The papers in the fourth series include a history by Thompson entitled, "Makers of El Paso,"which Charles Leland Sonnichsen attempted to publish after Thompsons death.

Paul A. Blazer's papers include his correspondence with William Vincent Morrison, an ElPaso attorney and history enthusiast, who supported "Brushy Bill" Roberts's claim to be Billy theKid. There are copies of Morrison's correspondence with others as well. Also of interest in thisseries are the records relating to Paul A. Blazers position as water commissioner of TularosaCanyon, 1936-1939.

Noel E. Blazer received a degree in mechanical engineering from New Mexico College ofAgriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1921. The subject of his thesis was the Blazer Spiral Engine,invented by his father. Most of Noel E. Blazers correspondence, which covers the period1924-1947, was conducted with his father and a great deal of it concerned the engine.

The Miscellany series contains documents which were generated by people other than thefamily members mentioned above. Particularly notable are copies of letters written by Indianagents of the Mescalero Apache Agency, 1876-1904, and a Mescalero vocabulary supplied byPercy Bigmouth, 1931-1932.

The Photographs series includes several fine examples of the work of New MexicoTerritorial photographers and present early views of the Mescalero Indian Agency andsurrounding area. There are a number of Indian portraits, one of which is purported to be the"First Photo of Mescalero Apaches 1870."


  • 1864-1965

Language of Materials

English, and Spanish.

Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the SearchRoom.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliancewith copyright and other applicable statutes.

Paul A. Blazer and Arthur Blazer have assigned copyrights of works by Blazer familymembers, excepting "Santana" and "Los Jirones," to New Mexico State University.Copyrights for any other literary productions belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

Biographical Sketch

Joseph Hoy Blazer was born August 20, 1828, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, the sonof David Blazer and Sara Hoy Blazer. The family moved to McDonough County, Illinois in1836. Blazer's father died in 1837, but the rest of the family lived in Illinois for several years.Blazer worked as a riverman, floating timber, wheat, corn, beef, and pork down the Mississippion rafts. He studied dentistry in St. Louis, and when his mother died, he moved to Mt. Pleasant,Iowa and set up his practice there.

Blazer married Lucy Jobes in 1853; to this couple were born three children, Ella (Mrs.George Hedges), Almer Newton, and Emma S. (Mrs. John Howard Thompson). Blazercontinued to practice dentistry until rheumatism forced him to give up his profession.

In 1861 Blazer enlisted as a sergeant in Company E of the First Iowa Cavalry. When a horsefell on him, breaking a rib which punctured a lung, he was given a disability discharge. He thensecured a commission as sutler and continued with his regiment until it was disbanded atShreveport, Louisiana in 1865.

Blazer bought six of the quartermasters' teams and wagons, which, with the four used in hissutler business, gave him a train of ten. His freighting trips brought him to El Paso (thenFranklin), Texas in 1866. Here he contracted small-pox and spent the winter in El Paso.

By spring Blazer was able to work again and filled a government contract to go toChihuahua, Mexico for a load of corn and deliver it to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. As he passedthrough the Tularosa Canyon, he became interested in a settlement, including a sawmill, whichhad been established before the Mexican War. The rights to the property had been acquired bythree men: George W. Nesmith, George M. Kenyon, and Elias D. Ryan. Blazer traded hiswagon train for the Ryan interest, and took over operation of the mill.

In 1868, on one of his trips back to Mount Pleasant, Blazer found his wife very ill withtuberculosis. They agreed that moving to the southwest would be advantageous to her health, soBlazer returned to New Mexico and began negotiations for more property. The purchase ofNesmith's share was finalized October 8, 1869. Lucy died on the first of November that year,and though Blazer returned to Iowa for her funeral, he did not have his children come to NewMexico until October 1877.

In 1870 the mill was burned, presumably by Indians, and since Blazer did not have enoughmoney to rebuild, he took in as a partner George H. Abbott of El Paso. With Abbott's financialassistance a new sawmill was built and lumber production resumed. Before this time, the millhad been called Nesmith's Mill; after about 1870 it was known as Blazer's Mill.

Blazer bought sole interest in the sawmill in 1877, and built a gristmill in 1882. He had alsobuilt a large, two-story adobe house, and when it was completed in 1877, he sent for his children.His daughter Ella, with her husband and baby daughter, his son Almer, age twelve, and daughterEmma, age nine, made the journey to their new home in Mescalero.

In 1880, Blazer arranged for the services of Miss Julia McWade as governess for thechildren; two years later they were married. When Ella died in 1889 Julia raised the five Blazergrandchildren as her own.

Blazer was appointed forage agent, and furnished forage to military troops until that agencywas discontinued. He was postmaster of South Fork, the first post office in what is now OteroCounty. When Lincoln County was organized, he was one of the commissioners appointed bythe governor.

Besides furnishing lumber to the Mescalero Agency and the settlers in the area, Blazersupplied the military posts at Forts Selden (Fort Selden, New Mexico), Bliss (El Paso, Texas),Davis (Fort Davis, Texas), Stanton (Fort Stanton, New Mexico), and Sumner. He was licensedas a trader on the Mescalero reservation in 1874.

According to Ruidoso author Eve Ball, Blazer "did far more to establish a peacefulrelationship with the Indians than was accomplished by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And he didmuch to reconcile the arbitrary decisions of agents with the Indians . . . . Dr. Blazer was one offew men who remained neutral during the Lincoln County War. He served on many juriesbefore, after, and during it; and he was able to prevent trouble among the factions on more thanone occasion . . . . " Joseph H. Blazer died October 29, 1898.

A. N. Blazer worked with his father in the mill and trading post, and finally took over theiroperation. In addition he was both a writer and an inventor. A. N. Blazer married BelleBlackford in 1888, and to this couple were born four children: Paul Almer, Noel Edison, VidaMyrtle, and Howard who died at age fourteen. Belle died in 1917. A. N. Blazer was married in1918 to Miss Clara M. Smith, who died of pneumonia only eight months after their marriage.Miss Fannie Dennis became A. N. Blazer's third wife and remained a loving companion until hisdeath in 1949.

In 1887, Emma married Dr. John Howard Thompson, the first physician assigned to thereservation; they moved to El Paso three years later. Thompson practiced medicine here until1923, when he retired and the couple returned to Mescalero. They had no children. Emma diedin 1950.


11 Linear Feet (35 Boxes)

2,476 items


Pioneer family at Mescalero, New Mexico, where Joseph Hoy Blazer took over theoperation of a sawmill in 1868. The mill has historic significance as the scene of a battle duringthe Lincoln County War. The papers document the activities of three generations of the Blazerfamily, who lived on land in, but not part of, the Mescalero Apache Reservation. Comprised ofcorrespondence, financial records, legal documents, literary manuscripts, patent descriptions, andphotographs. Significant correspondence includes Almer Newton Blazer's with J. Arthur Eddyconcerning the Blazer Spiral Engine and with artist-author William Robinson Leigh regardingLeigh's novel "Little Foot," and Paul Almer Blazer's with William Vincent Morrison, an El Pasoattorney and history enthusiast. There are also letters from Joseph H. Blazer to Col. WilliamLogan Rynerson and James J. Dolan, and to A. N. Blazer from Hugh Meglone Milton II, John E.Miles and George Curry.


  1. RG78-55 Gift of Paul A. Blazer
  2. RG80-89 Gift of Paul A. Blazer
  3. RG81-38 Gift of Mrs. Paul Blazer
  4. RG81-51 Gift of Paul A. and Fay Blazer

Related Material

William Allen Family. Papers. Ms 109. Archives and Special Collections. New Mexico State University Library. The Blazer Family. Papers. University of Arizona Library, Tucson, Arizona. Blazer's Mill. Business records. University of New Mexico Library, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Goddard, Ralph Willis. Papers. Ms 112. Archives and Special Collections. New Mexico State University Library. The William Robinson Leigh Papers. Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma. New Mexico State University. College of Engineering. Records. Hobson-Huntsinger University Archives. New Mexico State University Library.


Contact Information

  1. Archives and Special Collections
  2. New Mexico State University Library
  3. P.O. Box 30006
  4. Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003-8006
  5. Phone: (575) 646-3839
  6. Fax: (575) 646-7477
  7. Email:
  8. URL:


Inventory of the Blazer Family papers, 1864-1965
Processed by Merleen Dibert, Linda Blazer, Marah deMeule and Christine Moreland-Bruhnke
© 2000
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//New Mexico State University::Archives and Special Collections//TEXT(US::NmLcU::Ms 110::Blazer Family Papers)//EN" "nmlcu1ms110.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).

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