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Homer E. Milford Collection of Late 19th Century Cerrillos, New Mexico Mining History

Identifier: MSS-1048-BC

Scope and Content

This collection was compiled by Homer Milford and donated to the Center for Southwest Research by Paul R. Secord, of Albuquerque. The Galisteo and Cerrillos mining areas are rich in minerals, including silver, copper, mangansese, iron, galena and gold, as well as turqouise. The following discussion of the Cerrillos mining is abstracted from a manuscript, contained in its entirety in this archive, prepared by Bill Baxter about 2014. “In early 1879, when the miners began arriving in the Cerrillos Hills in large numbers, they saw one of their first tasks was to set up a mining district and decide, by vote, upon the rules of their district. The men were all there for the same reason; to strike it rich. And they all knew that riches bring out the worst in people. They knew it was essential for their coming prosperity that there be mutually agreed-upon rules and regulations. The Galisteo Mining District (GMD) and the Cerrillos Mining District (CMD) were created in March of 1879…” At another meeting on January 24, 1881 the merger of the CMD and GMD was formalized, by name, and it was stipulated that the rules of the CMD take precedence.

The Homer E. Milford collection contains the records of the Galisteo and Cerrillos mining districts claims. Paul R. Secord scanned all the materials and they are on a DVD in Folder 14. There are seven books containing mining records for Cerrillos dating from April 11, 1879 to July 9, 1889. In addition, there is a single book that contains the records of the short lived Galisteo district. The seventh Cerrillos book also includes two pages of tallies documenting the (lack of) business at the Turquesa (Carbonateville) post office in 1899, the year it was finally shut down.

J. A. Larock was the Cerrillos recorder from September 1883 through July 1884, and he was succeeded by Henry Beckwith, among the longest serving and least busy of all the Cerrillos recorders, whose last entry was dated March 24, 1888. It is likely that Beckwith handed over the books and the job of recorder to Willie S. or Abraham F. Spiegelberg in either 1888 or 1889.

The subsequent chain of possession of the Cerrillos record books is uncertain, but it is likely that one of the Spiegelbergs gave them to Michael O’Neil, who probably passed them on his death to his stepson Verne Byrne. Byrne was about 22 years old when O’Neil died in 1930. Verne’s wife Laverne, some years before her passing, sold the books to the current holder Milford. Of the one hundred or more formal mining districts in New Mexico in the nineteenth century, the record books in this Cerrillos archive appear to be the only such documents to have survived.

Supplementing the mining records are a series of stereopticon slide photographs of mining in the Cerrillos by Santa Fe photographers William Henry Brown and George C. Bennett. Included is a short history of the two photographers, as well as an inventory of their work in New Mexico and Arizona, that was emailed to Milford in 2001 by Jeremy Rowe Vintage Photography. There is also photograph of the New York and New Mexico Mining Company Smelter in Cerrillos, ca. 1880, by Ben Wittick, Santa Fe, New Mexico.


  • 1879- 2015
  • Majority of material found in 1879-1889

Language of Materials


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

Homer E. Milford, (1938 - ) grew up on a farm near Española in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. He received a B.S. from the University of New Mexico in Biology in 1961 and an M.S. from the University of Idaho, with post graduate work at the State University of New York Downstate. He was a professor of biology at the University of Albuquerque for twenty years and later taught at the University of New Mexico, Valencia Campus. In 1990 he became Environmental Coordinator of the State of New Mexico Abandoned Mine Land Bureau where he was responsible for evaluating abandoned mines in relationship to their value to wildlife, as well as for their archaeological and historic importance. Part of this work entailed the preparation of comprehensive histories of various mining districts throughout New Mexico, including the Cerrillos Hills and Ortiz Mountains. Although he retired in 2003, he continued to study Spanish and Mexican prospecting and mining and compiled a book titled New Laws of the Mines of Spain – The 1625 Edition of Juan de Onate (New Mexico governor from 1598 to 1608) a key primary source document found in many New Mexico libraries. In 2018 Milford, along with Paul R. Secord, authored The Cerrillos Hills and Galisteo Basin, Arcadia Publishing, which includes a number of the photographs contained in this archive.

Over a period of many years Milford collected material related specifically to Cerrillos mining. He also worked closely with local historian and author Bill Baxter (1943 – 2015.) Baxter was in the process of preparing a book on the Cerrillos Hills at the time of his death. The indices, database and text drafts contained in this archive were found on his computer following his death and were passed to Todd and Patricia Brown of Cerrillos. Subsequently this material was made available to Paul R. Secord. Shortly before his passing Baxter had told his wife, the Browns and Secord that he welcomed the use any of the research he had complied be used by anyone with an interest in it.


1 box (1 cu. ft.), plus one oversize folder


This collection contains a series of records, photographs and related documentation collected by Homer E. Milford. They pertain to the Galisteo Mining District claims (1879) and Los Cerrillos Mining District claims (1879–1889). There is also a series of 1880 photographs of mining in the Cerrillos Hills by Santa Fe photographers Bennett and Brown and one by Ben Wittick of the Cerrillos smelter.

Collection Available in Digital Form

Paul R. Secord scanned all the materials in the collection. They are available on a DVD in Folder 14.

Related Archival Material

Albuquerque and Cerrillos Coal Company Records Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico
Finding Aid of the Homer E. Milford Collection of Late 19th Century Cerrillos, New Mexico, Mining History, 1879- 2015
© 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • 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