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Huning-Fergusson Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-194-BC

Scope and Content

The Huning-Fergusson family papers primarily pertain to Clara Huning Fergusson (Box 1), Harvey Butler Fergusson (Box 2), and Franz Huning (Box 3). Correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, news clippings, legal documents, tax receipts, genealogical information, and memorabilia make up the bulk of this collection.

Clara Huning Fergusson's materials include 2 editions of her memoirs relating to her family and Albuquerque history; a small amount of personal correspondence; and varied items from her school years in Germany in the early 1880s and travels abroad in the 1920s. There are also 17 small diaries or yearbooks of Clara's, 1934-1950.

The Harvey B. Fergusson component includes correspondence, mostly copies of letters sent, from his private legal practice, 1905-1911, which dealt with numerous prominent New Mexicans, mining interests (particularly in White Oaks, New Mexico), and railroad companies. A small amount of other materials relate to his political activities, including tributes upon his death.

Franz Huning materials include land title and indenture records, 1812-1918 (bulk 1870-1891), pertaining to individuals and to the New Mexico Town Company. Other documents include his memoirs (published by Lina Fergusson Browne as Trader on the Santa Fe Trail), his will, some early personal correspondence, and information about his building of Castle Huning.

The collection also contains a small amount of material by Ernestine Huning, Erna Fergusson, and Lina Fergusson Browne, as well as Sampson-Fergusson family histories and documents relating particularly to Harvey's father Sampson Noland Fergusson and "Aunt Sampie," Sampson Virginia Fergusson. Several items relate to the Louis and Franz Huning families. There is a small amount of miscellaneous correspondence between Huning family members beginning with Franz' mother and extending to his grandchildren's generation.

Most of the material in this collection is written in English, however, there are some items written in German, and a few written in French. Photographs have been transferred to CSWR photoarchives.


  • 1812-1950
  • Majority of material found in 1861-1911

Language of Materials

English German French

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.

Family Historical Information

Three generations of the Franz Huning/Harvey B. Fergusson family made significant contributions to Albuquerque and to New Mexico in business, town development, politics, tourism, and literature.

Franz Huning (1826-1905) was the first of four Huning Brothers to come to New Mexico from Hannover, Germany. Franz immigrated in 1849 with his brother Charles (Karl), arriving in New Orleans and living briefly in St. Louis. After spending time on the Santa Fe Trail and throughout New Mexico and Arizona, Franz settled in Albuquerque and established a number of business operations, most notably a general mercantile store (F & C Huning) and a steam-powered flour mill with Charles. Two more Huning brothers, Louis and Henry, arrived in 1858 and eventually settled in Los Lunas. Henry later moved to Arizona, but Louis remained in Los Lunas, raising a family whose members made many business and political contributions to that community. Charles eventually returned back to Germany.

Franz Huning married Ernestine Franke (1837-1923) in St. Louis in 1863. She, like Franz, was a native of Germany. They had four children at their first home,"La Glorieta," in Albuquerque: Clara Mary (1865-1950), Arno (1869-1936), Lina (1872-1894), and Elly (1874-1880). Franz was one of a number of Germans who played the role of "cultural bridge" during a transitional period in New Mexico history. He was active in the Santa Fe Trail trade; integral in the placement of the railroad in Albuquerque; fluent in Spanish, German and English, and conversant in French and Italian which he spoke with the Jesuit priests. He figured prominently in the business, real estate, and civic developments of both Old and New Albuquerque in the latter half of the 19th century. The residential victorian neighborhood east of downtown bears his name--the Huning Highland Addition. "Arno" and "Franz Huning" streets also bear witness to Huning's involvement in New Albuquerque. In the early 1880s, Franz built a family home on the dividing line between Old and New Albuquerque. "Castle Huning" was an architectural landmark which stood until 1955 on Central Avenue. Franz and Ernestine's son Arno married and raised his family in Albuquerque, living in Castle Huning for many years. The youngest Huning daughters both died young of illnesses.

Clara Huning Fergusson was perhaps the best known of the 2nd generation Hunings. As Franz and Ernestine's oldest daughter, she grew up in pre-railroad Albuquerque and was sent to school in Santa Fe, St. Louis, and Germany. In 1887, Clara married Harvey Butler (H.B.) Fergusson (1848-1915), a Southern lawyer and businessman whose career as a politician became tied to New Mexico's statehood. H.B.'s father was a captain in the Confederate Army in the Civil War, and H.B. went to college under the tutelage of General Robert E. Lee. Fergusson started out in New Mexico as a lawyer on the White Oaks mining case in Lincoln County. His career in politics included terms on the Democratic National Committee, 1896-1908, and as a congressional delegate for New Mexico, 1897-1898. He was one of a few Democratic delegates to the 1910 Constitutional Convention, and was selected as one of the first congressmen to represent New Mexico following statehood, 1912-1915. Before his untimely death in 1915, he worked briefly as personal secretary to his friend, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryant. Historians have written of him as "a crusading progressive politician," challenging New Mexico's Republican Old Guard.

Clara and H.B. had four children, all of whom became successful writers: Erna (1888-1964), Harvey (1890-1971), Lina (1896-1974), and Francis (1904-1986). Erna Fergusson gained national recognition as an authority on the Southwest in her career as author and lecturer, and as co-owner of Koshare Tours, which she later sold to the Fred Harvey Company. Erna traveled widely, particularly in Latin America and the Southwestern United States. Her books include Dancing Gods; Albuquerque; and New Mexico: A Pageant of Three Peoples.

Harvey Fergusson built a career first as a newspaperman and then as a novelist. He has been described as "one of the most significant of Western American writers." In his fiction and non-fiction, Harvey Fergusson often wrote of the ending of the frontier and the beginning of the modern West. His works include Wolf Song; Grant of Kingdom; The Conquest of Don Pedro; Rio Grande; and the autobiographical Home in the West.

Lina Fergusson Browne wrote several family histories. In addition to editing her grandfather Franz Huning's Trader on the Santa Fe Trail in 1973, she wrote a biography of her husband's grandfather, J. Ross Browne of California (another noted author), which she published with the University of New Mexico Press.

Francis Fergusson taught at Bennington College, Princeton University, and Rutgers University. He earned distinction as a literary critic and was elected to membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Among his books are The Idea of a Theatre and Dante's Drama of the Mind.

Only Lina and Francis had children. Lina's daughter, Li Browne, was close to her aunt Erna and illustrated her book Albuquerque. None of the fourth or fifth generations currently live in New Mexico.

Sources: Gish, Robert F. Beautiful Swift Fox: Erna Fergusson and the Modern Southwest. College Station: Texas A and M University Press, 1996; Gish, Robert F. Frontier's End: The Life and Literature of Harvey Fergusson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988; Massmann, Ann. "Recollections of the Daughter of Pioneers: The Albuquerque Memoirs of Clara Huning Fergusson," New Mexico Historical Review; Roberts, Calvin A. "H.B. Fergusson, 1848-1915: New Mexico Spokesman for Political Reform." New Mexico Historical Review ,Vol 57 (July 1982), 237-255.


3 boxes (2.26 cu. ft.)

Microfilm Edition

Huning, Ernestine. Diary of Ernestine Huning. University of New Mexico University Libraries. (1863 Santa Fe Trail diary and other correspondence). ZIM Mfilm F 591 H855x

Related Material

Erna Fergusson Papers Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Harvey Butler Fergusson Papers Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico Nicolas T. Armijo Family Papers Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation Records Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico Huning Mercantile Company Records Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Robert Gish Papers Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Photographs have been transerred to the Huning-Fergusson Family Photograph Collection.
Finding Aid of the Huning-Fergusson Family Papers, 1812-1950 (bulk 1861-1911)
Described by A. Massmann
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 194 BC::Huning-Fergusson Family Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss194bc.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