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Felipe Chaves Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-10-BC

Scope and Content

The José Felipe Chaves collection is made up of 3 boxes containing family and business correspondence; business and political papers; indexed letter books, business journals, as well as miscellaneous books and journals; account books, school attendance books, and legal documents. The time span covered by this collection is 1739-1937. Many of the important names of Chaves' time are contained within the collection including correspondence with Bishop Lamy. The collection is divided into general and overlapping series.

Personal, business, political, and legal correspondence and documents pertaining to José Felipe Chaves and the Chavez family are contained in Box 1 of the collection. Box 2 contains letter press books (1881-1890), a day book (1877-1878), bank books, journals, various teachers' registers and class records from the Felipe Chaves Academy, and miscellaneous reports, catalogs, bulletins, and reviews. Box 3 contains ledgers (1852-1894), account books, check books, documents, and correspondence. Box 3 also contains miscellaneous papers, some of which belonged to Felipe's son, José E. Chaves' father-in-law, William M. Berger, who was also a prominent New Mexican.

Much of the collection is in Spanish. The name of Don José Felipe Chaves may also be found as Felipe Chaves, José Felipe Chavez, Felipe Chavez.


  • 1739-1937 (bulk, 1850-1937)

Language of Materials

English, Spanish

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

José Felipe Chaves (mostly known as Felipe) was born in Los Padillas, New Mexico in 1834, the son of José Chaves y Castillo and Manuela Armijo de Chaves. Chaves was the descendent of two of the most powerful and influenial New Mexican families of the day. His grand-father was Francisco Xavier Chaves, the first governor of New Mexico under Mexican rule, his father was governor of New Mexico in 1845, and his mother was a cousin of Governor Manuel Armijo. José Felipe Chaves was married to Josefa Chaves, daughter of José David Chaves and Barbara Armijo, a sister of Felipe's mother. Felipe and Josefa were double first cousins.

After a devastating flood in Los Padillas, Felipe and Josefa moved to Belen and opened a very successful general merchandise store. They later expanded their business to include cattle and sheep ranching. Felipe's business extended up and down the Santa Fe Trail and eventually included commercial activities in New York City, mining investments in Mexico, and banking in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. As a stockholder in the A.T. & S. F. Railroad, Chaves was instrumental in getting the Santa Fe cut-off built through Belen. He also established a private school for girls in Belen know as the "Felipe Chaves Academy" with an accompanying trust fund.

Don Jos Felipe Chaves was the great hacendado of Valencia County, one of the richest and most powerful men of the territory. He was a banker, sheepman, merchant, and landlord of a vast domain. He was known as El Millonario and El Cajnero (the undertaker) because of his elegant and fashionable attire. Shortly after the death of his wife, Doa Josefita Chaves on January 22, 1899, Felipe commissioned an Albuquerque architect, Angelo de Tullio, to design and erect a mausoleum made of red sandstone and white Carrara marble for his family in Belen. Don Felipe died May 16, 1905.


3 boxes (2.5 cu. ft.)

Related Archival Material

Marcus Brunswick Business Records Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Nicolas T. Armijo Family Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Photos have been transferred to Felipe Chavez Photograph Collection.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Espinosa, Gilberto Tibo J. Chavez, and Carter M. Waid, "El Millonario," in El Rio Abajo. Portales, N.M.: Bishop Publishing Co., [197?], 157-171.
  • Biggs, R.M. "Monument to Don Felipe," New Mexico Magazine. Vol 30, No. 6, 1952, 10-51.
  • Quentin. Eternal New Mexicans. Oakland, CA: Lawrence W. Rand, c1994, 1-2.
Finding Aid of the Felipe Chaves Family Papers, 1739-1937 (bulk, 1850-1937)
For Approval
Described by D. Trujillo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 10 BC::Felipe Chaves Family Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss10bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131