Thursday, May 27, 2021

Maximilliano Mike "Max” Henderson

Maximilliano Mike Henderson 

This is Maximilliano Mike "Max” Henderson. He was my first cousin, the son of my mother's older sister, Maria Padilla Henderson and my Uncle Sam Henderson.

I love this photo of Mike because he reminds me of my brother, Phillip.

Mike was born June 10, 1937 in Puerto de Luna, New Mexico. Ten years later, his family moved to Tucumcari. The move was traumatic for Mike because he had been attending school in a one-room schoolhouse, surrounded by his family's Spanish language. His formative childhood experience was the complete opposite from mine. I  was born and went to elementary and middle school in Amarillo, Texas and then went to live in Puerto de Luna with my Spanish speaking grandma in the eleventh grade. I can honestly say it was in the top five best experiences of my life and it  changed the trajectory of my life.

April 19, 1954, the year before I was born, Mike married, Mary Esther Moya  in Amarillo, TX. He was 17. The couple moved to Los Angeles where they stayed for 10 years. They then moved to Albuquerque and eventually back to Tucumcari, where Mike made a living doing car paint and body work. By this time, the couple had eight children. Mike had began to create furniture and art for their house.

Later Mike started selling some of his art in Santa Fe. Then when an elderly man showed him a wooden figure of Christ that was broken and held together with duct tape, Mike volunteered to repair it, taking the opportunity to examine the design. He began studying the work of famous artists and books of saints and found encouragement from several famous santeros in northern New Mexico.
Santeros are artists who carve and paint santos, images of saints.

Mike was an International Artist with artwork in Wood Carving and Religious Statues. He was a member the New Mexico Spanish Colonial Art Society.

Mike was closer to my mother's age than he was to my age so I didn't know him very well. We would often stop at my Aunt Mary and Uncle Sam's house when we drove from Amarillo to Puerto de Luna to visit my grandma but Mike was rarely around so we usually only saw each other at weddings and funerals.

Maximilliano Mike Henderson passed away December 14, 2007 at the age of 70, at Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital in Tucumcari. He was survived by his wife Mary Esther Henderson; two daughters, Cynthia (Larry) Winn of Gallup, NM, and Judith (Phillip) Guttman of Rio Rancho, NM; six sons, Michael (Cris) Henderson of Pojoaque, NM, David Henderson Clovis, NM, Ronnie (Dawn) Henderson of Rio Rancho, NM, Ray Henderson of Tucumcari, NM, Jay (Louella) Henderson of Pecos, NM, and Tom Henderson of Altus, OK; two brothers, Gracien Henderson of Los Angeles, CA, and Walter (Bertha) Henderson Tucumcari, NM; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, one son, three brothers, and three sisters.

Maximilliano Mike Henderson

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Francisco Perea 1830–1913

 Francisco Perea of New Mexico, who fought to keep his territory loyal to the Union and served a term as a Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives during the Civil War, was born on this date in Los Padillas, New Mexico. Perea attended private schools in New Mexico, and studied at colleges in St. Louis and New York City. Two of Perea’s schoolmates from New Mexico, Jose Francisco Chaves and Miguel Antonio Otero, later served as Delegates to Congress. After college, Perea returned to New Mexico and built a successful distribution and ranching business. From the summer of 1861 to the summer of 1862, Union forces attempted to dislodge Confederate occupiers of the New Mexico Territory. Over a four-month period, Perea rallied prominent New Mexicans, then under pressure to support the Confederacy, to remain with the Union. He raised a battalion at his own expense and served as lieutenant colonel of a regiment, seeing action against insurgents and Native Americans in the decisive battle of Apache Canyon that broke the back of the Confederate offensive in New Mexico. During the summer of 1863, Perea challenged José Manuel Gallegos for a seat in Congress. Narrowly elected as a Delegate to the 38th Congress (1863–1865), Perea submitted bills for war damage compensation and disputed land claims for his constituents. A close friend of Abraham Lincoln, Perea was seated near Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theatre when the President was assassinated. Defeated for re-election to the 39th Congress (1865–1867) by Chaves, Perea returned to his business activities in New Mexico. He died in Albuquerque, on May 21, 1913.

Republican Delegate Francisco Perea of New Mexico
rallied New Mexicans to side with the Union in the Civil War. He was a Republican Congressman from 1863 - 1865

Francisco Perea capitalized on his family’s prominence and his military service to propel his career in territorial and national politics. The first Republican Hispanic-American Member of Congress, he dedicated his single term as Territorial Delegate to serving his constituents and containing the Indian threat to settlers by championing a controversial reservation system.

Perea was born in Los Padillas, New Mexico, on January 9, 1830, to Juan Perea and Josefa Chaves de Perea. Perea’s maternal grandfather, Francisco Xavier Chaves, was Mexico’s governor of the New Mexico province in the 1820s, and two of Perea’s maternal uncles eventually succeeded his grandfather. Perea’s father served in the Fourth Departmental Congress in 1846 and in the New Mexico Legislative Assembly in 1852 and 1857. After the U.S. war with Mexico, José Leandro, Perea’s paternal uncle, represented Bernalillo County in the First Legislative Assembly. Years later, his cousins Pedro Perea and José Francisco Chaves would serve as New Mexico’s Legislative Delegates to the U.S. Congress. Francisco studied at a local Bernalillo school in 1836 and 1837. He and his cousin José Chaves attended a Santa Fe school in 1837 and 1838, and Francisco transferred to a school in Albuquerque the following academic year. From 1839 to 1843, Perea tutored his younger siblings. Like many elite New Mexicans, he received a college education in Missouri, mastering English (again, with his cousin José F. Chaves) at Jesuit College in St. Louis from 1843 to 1845. While the Mexican-American War raged on, Perea traveled to New York City’s Bank Street Academy in 1847, completing his studies in 1849. During this sojourn, Perea and a colleague visited East Coast cities including Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.; they also traveled to northern New York and Chicago.

Perea returned to New Mexico in 1850 to pursue a career in business that included ranching, trade, and commerce. He served as a distributor of manufactured goods to New Mexicans by importing products from cities such as St. Louis, and Independence, Missouri, at the head of the Santa Fe Trail. He also herded sheep to California for sale in the markets. After making a fortune selling sheep, Perea invested in the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Perea married twice. He had 18 children with his first wife, Dolores Otero (a niece of Territorial Delegate Miguel Antonio Otero’s), whom he wed in 1851, but many of them died in infancy. Dolores died in 1866. In 1875 Perea married Gabriela Montoya, with whom he had 18 more children, but only 10 were living at the time of his death.1

Perea entered politics when he was elected to New Mexico’s Eighth Legislative Assembly in 1858 for a two-year term representing Bernalillo County.2 Aside from his pedigree, his motivation to run for political office is unclear. A staunch Republican, Perea considered Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency in 1860 to be fortuitous for the Union. The news of Lincoln’s election, Perea recalled, “was celebrated by immense processions of men and boys marching through the principal streets to the music of many brass bands, the firing of cannon, and the discharging of anvils.”3 Nevertheless, New Mexican loyalties were split between pro-Confederate Democrats and pro-Union Republicans; the territory became a flashpoint for conflict during 1861 and 1862.

In the summer and fall of 1861, Perea advocated for New Mexico to remain in the Union by appealing to “every prominent man in the … territory.” In light of New Mexico’s precarious condition, Lincoln authorized Governor Henry Connelly to raise two full regiments and four battalions of four companies each. Perea organized a volunteer battalion at his own expense and was commissioned as a regimental lieutenant colonel.4 Dubbed “Perea’s Battalion,” the unit was stationed near Albuquerque, where its namesake commander led various campaigns against Apaches and Navajos in 1861 and 1862. The battalion also saw action in the Apache Canyon at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, a pivotal engagement that forced the Confederates out of New Mexico in March 1862. Shortly thereafter, Perea resigned his commission and returned to civilian life.5

In January 1863, Perea ran for the position of Territorial Delegate to the U.S. House in the 38th Congress (1863–1865), winning the Republican nomination that June. He outlined his proposed legislative priorities in a public letter that was printed in New Mexico newspapers. Perea’s experience fighting Indians convinced him that the two cultures could not coexist. He condemned past treaties as “worse than useless,” suggesting that American Indians were liable “to do wrong in accordance with the instincts of the savage nature.” Justifying his solution—to remove Indians to reservations—he argued, “It will be acting the part of wisdom in our own behalf and the part of philanthropy on behalf of the savages … [there] they may be compelled to earn their subsistence by the labor of their own hands, and have the opportunity given them to cultivate the habits and enjoy the blessings of civilization and Christianity.”6

The economic leg of his platform was closely associated with suppressing American Indians, particularly the Apaches, because their removal would open more land to settlers and allow the exploitation of New Mexico’s mineral resources. Perea believed mining would determine the territory’s financial fortunes. “Nothing can give our Territory as much prominence in the eyes of the people throughout the United States as the fact of the existence of rich gold producing mines in our midst,” he wrote. To remove the Indians, Perea promised that as Delegate, he would make “every exertion I can put forth … to strengthen the hands of our [military] Department commander and give him sufficient force to expel the savages from the bounteous fields which should now be furnishing profitable employment to thousands of our people.”7

Perea advised against implementing statehood in the midst of war, noting that the issue might be exploited by “men ambitious of place and power” and arguing that public sentiment did not support it.8 Nevertheless, he urged continued support for the Lincoln administration, asserting, “It is the duty of all citizens to occupy themselves with the stern realities with which we are confronted and do all in their power to maintain the integrity of the government.” He left no doubt that as Delegate, he would exert “the whole of my influence … in favor of the reestablishment of the Union as it was and the enforcement of the constitution as it is.”9

Perea’s opponents were José Manuel Gallegos and Judge Joab Houghton, a former chief justice of the superior court under New Mexico’s military government and an associate of Miguel Otero’s brother Antonio José.10 Houghton dropped out of the race in July 1863 and threw his support to Perea.11 Gallegos, a prominent but controversial priest-turned-politician, served as a Territorial Delegate in the 33rd and 34th Congresses (1853–1857), but was unseated in his second term after Miguel Otero contested his election. However, Gallegos remained a power in territorial politics, serving as speaker in the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Legislative Assemblies (1860–1862).12 Although Gallegos ran as a Democrat, he was pro-Union and was imprisoned during the Confederate occupation of Santa Fe, but his party designation left him open to charges of collaborating with secessionists.

Perea’s supporters resurrected tactics other territorial politicians had used against Gallegos, advertising his suspension from the Catholic priesthood and his affiliation with a cadre of activist priests before the American occupation. A seamy campaign poem entitled El Padrecillo (“The Father”), circulated by Perea’s backers, mocked Gallegos’s connections to administrative corruption and his obliviousness to such ethical lapses. The poem also publicized Gallegos’s controversial relationship with Candelaria Montoya, a widow.13 According to one account, Perea visited nearly every part of the territory and frequently spoke to crowds.14 The initial results showed that Perea won the election, with 7,231 votes to Gallegos’s 6,425.15 However, a variety of seeming irregularities in various counties persuaded Republican governor Henry Connelly to have “the vote reconstructed from the tallies kept by election officials in the precincts, and these were tabulated in place of the actual ballots.” The recount confirmed Perea’s majority.16 Gallegos and his supporters contested the results, arguing that Connelly had exceeded his authority, but when Gallegos was denied an extension to obtain more testimony from voters, his case fell apart, and the House Committee on Elections awarded the seat to Perea.17

Like the other Delegates of the era, Perea was not permitted to sit on a standing committee when he was sworn in to the 38th Congress (1863–1865). Nevertheless, he submitted bills regarding a range of constituent services and personal legislative interests; but because Republicans controlled the chamber and tended to support the development of national infrastructure, Perea’s initiatives enjoyed only modest success.18 In early 1864, Perea requested funds to construct a military road between Taos, New Mexico, and the territorial capital of Santa Fe. Another measure requested financial aid for communities in the New Mexico Territory and the newly created Arizona Territory, and a third measure asked for the implementation of boundaries between the New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona Territories. Perea responded to the needs of military veterans by submitting private relief bills and requesting payments for volunteer companies that served against hostile Indian tribes and in the Mexican-American War. All the bills were read and submitted to the appropriate committees, but no action was taken.19 Perea tried to secure money for surveying land in New Mexico in H.R. 786, a miscellaneous appropriations bill, but he was unsuccessful.20 True to his campaign promise, he took particular interest in a Senate bill that requested “aid in the settlement, subsistence, and support of the Navajo Indian captives upon a reservation in the Territory of New Mexico.” The bill mustered enough votes to pass, but Senator William Windom of Minnesota killed it using a parliamentary tactic.21

During his tenure, Perea became close friends with President Lincoln, to whom he was introduced by former New Mexico Territorial Delegate John S. Watts in 1864. “I met the President in the White House, in company with a number of senators, representatives, and others,” Perea recalled. Perea went to see Lincoln “time after time on business connected with complaints against [territorial] officials and other difficulties.” Perea reported that he “occupied the seat in the pit of the theater directly under the Lincoln box” on the evening of April 14, 1865. “I heard the shot fired by [John Wilkes] Booth,” he said.22 Also, Perea served as one of three delegates to the Republican National Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1864.23 According to a contemporary account, Perea “bore aloft the Star Spangled banner, over which streamed a pure white penant bearing … the motto: ‘New Mexico–the Union and the Monroe Doctrine forever.’ The flag and its motto attracted great attention and elicited loud applause.”24

Perea used his influence as a Territorial Delegate to persuade federal officials in Washington, D.C., to attack political opponents and promote the careers of his allies back home. During the contested election case, Perea wrote a number of letters to Secretary of State William H. Seward about the professional conduct of William F. M. Arny, the territorial secretary and a committed ally of José Manuel Gallegos. In one letter, Perea enclosed documents alleging that Arny’s performance had alienated constituents. Perea also noted that Arny had “undertaken to come to Washington with(out) leave” from territorial superiors to hire lawyers to represent Gallegos in February 1864.25 A month later, Perea informed Seward about Arny’s support of Gallegos, neglecting to tell him about Governor Connelly’s relationship with the Perea family. Perea wrote, “It becomes obvious beyond question, that he has been not only instrumental in exciting a contest for my seat in Congrefs, but that the principal object … is to act as an agent in behalf of the contestant.” Perea considered Arny’s conduct “reprehensible, in disturbing the political quietude of the Territory by agitating this contest, after the voice of the people had spoken and their decision had been announced in the form of law” and asked that he be removed.26

Early in 1865, Perea became involved in a dispute between the New Mexico and Colorado Territories concerning The Conejos, a large tract of land on New Mexico’s northern border that was ceded to Colorado upon its incorporation in 1861. In a published letter to James Ashley of Ohio, Chairman of the House Committee on Territories, Perea alleged that “the sole purpose of such a severance was to give evenness and symmetry to the southern boundary of Colorado … at the serious expense of New Mexico.” Perea noted that the “population of Los Conejos … are almost entirely Mexicans. They are foreign in language … from the great body of the people of Colorado. The laws of that Territory are enacted and published only in the English language, which they do not understand and the legislative discussions and deliberations are conducted in the same language.” Perea emphasized the Conejans’ foreignness, their affinity for Spanish institutions, and their incompatibility with Colorado Anglos and American jurisprudence. He deemed the situation “utterly repugnant to the true principles of liberty” and requested its immediate amelioration.27

Perea insisted that New Mexican citizenship would satisfy the cultural aspirations of the Conejans. He noted that one of the earliest acts of the New Mexico territorial government was to declare “that the principles of the civil law should prevail in all civil causes that might arise before their courts; and the Congress of the United States, in approving that legislation … manifested its appreciation of their desire to preserve and perpetuate their ancient and venerated system of jurisprudence.”28 New Mexicans, Perea maintained, were uniquely suited to managing this still-foreign people. Although “they have formed a patriotic fondness for this government, and are now earned and true in their allegiance to their new sovereign, the change was not a matter of their own choice. The acquisition of their country was the fruit of war waged by the United States against their native land, and by every consideration of justice and humanity they are entitled to the enjoyment of their native language, and their system of law and domestic usages, so long … as they do not conflict with the principles of the general government.” Perea submitted the bill in the waning weeks of the session, and the Committee on Territories did not act on it. After acquiring the region, Colorado retained it through its territorial period (1861–1876); today Los Conejos remains part of that state.29

Perea began running for re-election in January 1865. In a glowing editorial, the Santa Fe Weekly Gazette noted that he had been a highly effective legislator and had stood firm in his support of the Lincoln administration. While admitting Perea’s “efforts have secured but very meager appropriations—sums far below the amounts obtained by his predecessors,” the editors blamed the war for siphoning off federal funds. Alluding to the tempestuous tenures of earlier Territorial Delegates, they appealed to constituents to keep Perea in office because he was experienced. In an effort to defuse potential contenders’ use of a native-son platform, the editors suggested that replacing Perea would be “unfair to the Mexican people as a race” because it would deprive New Mexicans of an incumbent with seniority. Other Members of Congress “are possessed of advantages which the New Mexican people are unwilling to give to their own sons,” they wrote. If Perea “is successfully opposed by a native, that native will be no further advanced than his predecessor.… Thus always we shall have inexperienced Representatives, and so always be subjected to the same imputation and disadvantages.”30 To Perea, the editors wrote, “[You are] worthy of our confidence; you have done your work well and are entitled to the reward of re-election to the place which for two years you have so worthily filled.”31 Perea responded that he was “grateful to the public for past favors” [and] would “endeavor to continue to merit their approbation” upon being re-elected.32

Perea’s acceptance letter for the Republican nomination in July 1865 outlined his successes and his plans for another term. Adopting the party platform, he acknowledged that much of his energy was focused on containing “our deadly enemies” the Navajo Indians. As part of that platform, he embraced a developing military-led effort to forcibly remove Navajos to a reservation known as the Bosque Redondo in eastern New Mexico. Perea noted, “I have steadfastly, in Congress, before the Committees on Indian Affairs in both Houses and before the Interior and War Departments of the Government, advocated the policy which is now observed of keeping that tribe on the Reservation at the Bosque Redondo.” After vigorously defending the policy, he added, “Those who oppose the Government in its efforts to thus relieve us of our despoilers are the worst enemies the Territory can have.” If he was re-elected for another term, Perea promised, “I shall continue to use all the influence I possess to have the reservation system made permanent and in this way, secure lasting peace with the Indians.”33

Perea’s principal election opponent was his cousin, José Francisco Chaves. Although both men were Republicans, they represented distinct territorial factions. Perea was nominated to lead the Union Party ticket. Unionists, explains historian Howard Lamar, “supported the Indian reservation policy … praised General [James H.] Carleton and the troops participating in the Indian campaigns, recognized the supremacy of the United States Government, and condemned Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.” Chaves was an Administration Party candidate. The Administration faction’s loyalties were identical to those of Unionists, but they opposed Carleton’s policy of forcing the Navajos onto the Bosque Redondo Reservation.34

Perea noted that although he and Chaves were “connected by the most endearing ties of consanguinity,” his cousin had “allowed himself to pass into the hands of my enemies, the enemies of my political friends and, as I hold, the enemies of the Territory.”35 The campaign hinged on the Bosque Redondo Reservation experiment. Perea fully supported its expansion, whereas Chaves opposed it. Chaves also criticized Perea’s efforts to regain Los Conejos. Throughout the summer of 1865, Perea’s political standing suffered from his association with the controversial General Carleton, who was eventually removed from his post.36 Chaves prevailed, with a 58 to 42 percent victory.37

Afterward, Perea returned to his business activities in New Mexico and, according to his eulogist W. H. H. Allison, retained a large amount of political influence by controlling federal appointments to the territory under President Andrew Johnson’s administration. Later, Perea was elected to the territory’s Sixteenth and Twenty-Sixth Legislative Assemblies (1866–1867 and 1886–1887, respectively) as a representative of Bernalillo County. In 1881 Perea owned and operated a resort hotel in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, where he also served as postmaster from 1894 to 1905. Perea died in Albuquerque at age 83 on May 21, 1913.38

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1971. The Continental Congress (September 5, 1774 to October 21, 1788) and the Congress of the United States (from the first through the ninety- first Congress March 4, 1789, to January 3, 1971, inclusive). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971. Biographies begin on page 487. (BiDrAC) Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989. The Continental Congress, September 5, 1774 to October 21, 1788 and the Congress of the United States from the first through the one hundredth Congresses, March 4, 1789, to January 3, 1989, inclusive. Bicentennial Edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989. Biographies begin on page 507. (BiDrUSC) Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 16: September, 1988-August, 1990. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1990. (BioIn 16) The Hispanic American Almanac. A reference work on Hispanics in the United States. By Nicolas Kanellos. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993. Use the Index to locate biographies. (HispAmA 1) The Hispanic American Almanac. A reference work on Hispanics in the United States. Third edition. Detroit: Gale Group, 2003. Use the Index to locate biographies. (HispAmA 3) Mexican American Biographies. A historical dictionary, 1836-1987. By Matt S. Meier. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988. (MexAmB) Who Was Who in American Politics. A biographical dictionary of over 4,000 men and women who contributed to the United States political scene from colonial days up to and including the immediate past. By Dan and Inez Morris. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1974. (WhAmP)