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F.E. Kavanaugh Papers

Identifier: MSS-233-BC

Scope and Content

This collection comprises two leather-bound ledgers of F. E. Kavanaugh, merchant, sutler and physician attached to military posts at Fort Fauntleroy/Fort Lyon and Cubero, New Mexico.

The first ledger, with a spine label of "Day-Book", is inscribed on the flyleaf "F.E. Kavanaugh, Sutler, 5th Infty, Ft. Fauntleroy, NM." This ledger consists of entries dated from November 1860 to March 23, 1862. The first portion of the ledger comprises entries for specific merchandise purchased mostly by officers of Fort Fauntleroy/Fort Lyon, from November 1860 to December 1861. (Fort Fauntleroy was renamed Fort Lyon in 1861.) Entries list the name, rank and purchases of each customer. The merchandise purchased varies widely, from diverse foodstuffs and alcoholic beverages to tools, clothing, raffle tickets and the assorted necessities of daily life. Among the accounts of officers are those of well-known military figures Captain Henry Selden, Colonel Edward Canby and Captain Benjamin Wingate (in posthumous honor of whom Fort Lyon would be renamed Fort Wingate in 1862). In 1861, control of Fort Lyon passed from United States Army Regulars to New Mexico Volunteers; beginning in August 1861, this shift in management of the fort is reflected in the composition of Kavanaugh's military clientele, many of them now Nuevomexicano. From December 15, 1861 through March 23, 1862, entries in this ledger appear under the heading of Cubero, NM, site of a Union post and garrison.

The second book, with a spine label of "Ledger", contains account entries dated from November 1860 to 1888 and is prefaced with an index of names. The account entries recorded in the ledger for 1862 and earlier correspond to the purchases detailed in the Day Book described above. The ledger also includes a section recording expenses--such as docket and filing petitions, sheriff expenses, affidavits, etc.--related to court cases; the court expense accounts begin in October 1873.

In addition, the "Ledger" includes an anonymous journal describing daily life and activities at "Whiting Ranch", the residence and farm of Harry R. Whiting and family in Barelas, New Mexico. Though anonymous, a number of entries are signed by L. (Louis) C. Irwin, foreman of the Whiting Ranch, evidently the author of the journal. Entries include detailed records of seeds, plants, fruit trees, planting dates and yields, crop expenses and sales, a roster of rose varieties planted on the property, inventories of tools, accounts of interactions with employees and local residents, mentions of acequia work, weather observations, and ruminations on life at the ranch, including a poignant passage on the death of the household's songbird. Entries in the diary date from 1883 to 1886; they are not in chronological order.

Among the accounts and purchases throughout the two ledgers are a number relating to local residents, including Native Americans from nearby pueblos.

(Additional sources: Kemper, Troy. "Diary of a Pioneer," New Mexico Magazine, XXXVI (January 1958), 18, 48-51.)


  • 1860-1888

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Researchers are required to use the microfilm edition, CSWR Mfilm MSS 233 BC.

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.


Born in Missouri circa 1833, Dr. Finis Ewing Kavanaugh had arrived in New Mexico by the early 1850s and served as a physician on a number of military campaigns during that decade. Returning to Santa Fe, he operated a medical practice and served in the territorial legislature. Kavanaugh also owned and operated a store in Cubero, New Mexico, and in the 1860s served as sutler and physician attached to nearby military posts at Fort Fauntleroy/Fort Lyon and Cubero. In March 1862, Kavanaugh played a central role in the Confederate seizure of the post stores at the Union garrison in Cubero. For these actions, Kavanaugh and his accomplices were indicted for treason. As a result, Kavanaugh's property was confiscated by the U.S. Army and sold for $1,657.28. The indictment was dismissed in 1867. Dr. Kavanaugh died in Mexico in 1866, and is buried in the U.S. National Cemetery in Mexico City.

(Additional sources: Thompson, Jerry D. 2015. A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers and Militia: Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2015.)


1 box (.45 cu. ft.)


This collection is comprised of two leather-bound ledgers of Dr. Finis Ewing Kavanaugh, merchant, sutler and physician attached to military posts at Fort Fauntleroy/Fort Lyon and Cubero, New Mexico.

Microfilm Edition

Collection is available on microfilm: CSWR Mfilm MSS 233 BC.

Related Material

Perea Brothers Mercantile Co. Correspondence Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Charles Ilfeld Company Records Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Sally Noe Fort Wingate History Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Hall, Martin Hardwick. Sibley's New Mexico Campaign. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1960.
  • Horn and Wallace. Confederate Victories in the Southwest. Albuquerque: Horn and Wallace, Publishers, 1961.
  • Taylor, Morris. F. "Campaigns Against the Jicarilla Apache, 1855," New Mexico Historical Review 65 (2): 119-136, 1970.
  • Tittmann, Edward D. "The Exploitation of Treason," New Mexico Historical Review 4 (2): 128-145, 1929.

Processing Information

Biography and scope note updated in August 2010, with information obtained from the great-great niece of Dr. Kavanaugh. Finding guide revised in September 2018 for content and accuracy.
Finding Aid of the F.E. Kavanaugh Papers, 1860-1888
Processed by K. Stocker
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 233 BC::F.E. Kavanaugh Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss233bc.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