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Maxwell Land Grant Company Records

Identifier: MSS-147-BC

Scope and Content

This collection documents the operations of the Maxwell Land Grant Company, primarily in New Mexico. It contains 75 bound volumes of letters; 83 bound volumes of ledgers, cash books, journals, etc., and 2 scrapbooks. There are 85 archival boxes containing bank statements, cancelled checks, land contracts, financial statements, correspondence, maps, leases, legal documents, vouchers, receipts, and annual reports of the Maxwell Land Grant Co. and its related business enterprises. The Maxwell Cattle Co., Aztec Mining Company; Cimarron Lumber Co.; Springer Cement Co.; Vermejo Ditch Co.; Electric Light Co. of Raton (N.M.); Springer and Moreno Valley Stage Co.; and St. Louis, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Railroad Co. are among the related business ventures documented in the collection. Most of the material in the collection was generated in New Mexico, however, there are items from New York (Board of Directors meeting minutes) and the Netherlands.

The bound volumes, followed by the boxes, are arranged chronologically, by genre. Genres are arranged alphabetically (cash books... day books... leases... ledgers, etc.). Miscellaneous items, including other ventures are last. Two scrapbooks, both of which focus predominantly on World War II, will be found at the end of the bound volumes. A third scrapbook has been disassembled; the contents are now located in Box 45. Oversize folder contains maps, newspapers, contracts, bonds.

Cash Books - Entries are made daily in chronological order, left hand page listing "Receipts," right hand page listing "Disbursements." In later dates "accounts," "particulars" and "banks" are also listed.

Cash Journals - Monetary transactions recorded under general subject heading,entries made daily but not necessarily in chronological order, "Receipts" and "Disbursements" listed on opposite pages.

Day Books - Monetary transaction recorded under general subject heading, entries made daily, in chronological order.

Ledgers - Alphabetical index at the front of each volume under which a name is listed with a number. This is a page where the accounts and transactions of this party can be found in that particular volume.

Monthly Reports - Monetary transactions recorded by the month, entered under a subject heading.

Annual Report of the General Manager - Reports from the various managers on the timber, crops, mines, and general land survey. (Water damaged).

Trial Balance - Reading from left to right, every month is listed and the transaction for that month and party is recorded in this respect.

Materials are written in English and in Dutch.


  • 1872-1966


Language of Materials

English Dutch

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 publications or distribution.

Organizational History

On January 8, 1841, Guadalupe Miranda and Charles Hipolite Trotier de Beaubien petitioned Governor Manuel Armijo of Santa Fe for a tract of land. Two years later, Armijo granted them the property. Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell arrived in Taos in 1841. He married Luz Beaubien, daughter of Charles Beaubien, in 1844. Within a few years, Miranda had moved to Mexico, and offered Beaubien his share of the land. Beaubien was not interested, but his son-in-law, Lucien Maxwell seized the opportunity. In 1858, Miranda's property was signed over to Maxwell for the sum of $2,745. This was the first step in making Lucien Maxwell the largest individual land owner in the history of the United States.

On May 6, 1869, the option to the Maxwell Land Grant was sold to Jerome Chaffee , George Chilcott, and Charles Holly by Lucien and Luz Beaubien Maxwell. On June 12, 1870, Maxwell was notified that Chaffee and the others had elected to exercise the option to purchase, and that arrangements had been made for them to buy the property for $1,350,000. On June 30, 1870, the transaction was completed.

Chaffee, Chilcott, and Holly had been negotiating with a group of British capitalists who were interested in the land. They organized under New Mexico laws. Prominent New Mexicans William A. Pile, Thomas Rush Spencer, and John S. Watts were chosen to "front" for the English investors and file for incorporation as the Maxwell Land Grant and Railway Company. Within 10 years, the Maxwell Land Grant and Railway Company had collapsed.

On May 3, 1880, the Maxwell Land Grant Company, was organized under the laws of Holland. The Maxwell Land Grant Co. was a joint-stock commercial association, with its headquarters in Amsterdam and offices in New Mexico (Cimarron) and Colorado. The articles of association state that the purpose of the Maxwell Land Grant Co. was to "acquire ownership of, and to administer the landed property... originally known under the name of the Beaubien and Miranda Grant and afterwards as the Maxwell Estate, together with all the mines, arable lands, forests, buildings, etc. found thereon and all the products, yield and increase thereof, to sell and trade in the same ... or ... to dispose of the said property or any part thereof; with observance, however, of the provisions of the Deed of Mortgage... [and] to do whatsoever the said Association shall be lawfully entitled to do as owner thereof." The Company was involved in activities including mining, timber, coal, farming, irrigation projects, plaster and cement manufacturing. By 1960, the company sold off most of its land and retired from northern New Mexico. As of 1980, the Maxwell Land Grant Company existed in the Netherlands under the name of De Maxwell Petroleum Holding N.V., Amsterdam.

From the earliest days, when the Ute and Jicarilla Apaches considered the land theirs, Beaubien/Miranda or Maxwell Land Grant has been controversial. At its maximum, this grant contained a disputed 1,714,764.93 acres. The United States and the Maxwell Land Grant Co. went to court over the "fraudulent" boundaries in 1887. The Maxwell Land Grant Co. won the case, its title cleared. The decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1887. Familiar New Mexicans who were investors with the Maxwell Land Grant Co. include Stephen Elkins, Frank Springer, Thomas Catron.


85 boxes (70 cu. f.t) + 160 bound volumes, plus 2 oversize folders

Related Archival Material

Thomas B. Catron Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Frank Springer Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Thomas D. Campbell Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Dalton C. Bergan research materials on Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell and François Xavier Aubry Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Maxwell Family Papers Rio Grande Historical Collections. New Mexico State University Library. Las Cruces, NM.

Separated Material

Photographs have been transferred to Maxwell Land Grant Photograph Collection.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Pearson, Jim Berry. The Maxwell Land Grant.Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.
Finding Aid of the Maxwell Land Grant Company Records, 1872-1966
Processed by B. Silbergleit
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 147 BC::Maxwell Land Grant Company Records)//EN" "nmu1mss147bc.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