In the dark and mysterious underworld, the womb of the earth itself, the people and animals live with their kind and loving mother. To the north, near the sand, there is a lake where the first people climb the great fir tree and emerge to populate the earth. With them come good and bad spirits who can dwell in everything, rocks, trees, animals, plants and people.
Geologic Past Article on Taos Geology
The Rio Grande River—at least the section that runs through northern New Mexico—is not a typical river that has carved out its own valley. Rather, the valley appeared first and the river followed. This "rift valley" is a separation in the earth’s crust caused by faulting and other earth movements when the North American and Pacific plates scraped against each other some twenty-nine million years ago.
Early people roam the area, hunting large mammals, such as mammoth, and gathering wild foods for subsistence. They live in the open, sleeping in crude shelters, or in overhanging caves.
Local people begin to adopt the idea of agriculture from neighbors in Mexico. Farming, even on a small scale, begins to restrict their movements to smaller areas where they can harvest what had been planted, thus leading to more elaborate shelter, and the development of communities and cultural differences.
Pottery, pit houses for year round living, and village life with ceremonial structures begin to make their appearance.
Great multi-storied pueblos are first constructed. Not long after this time, pueblos appear in the Taos Valley.
Athabascan people (now called Apaches and Navajos) from the north and east begin to visit and settle in areas nearby to the Taos area.
The Taos Pueblo structures were probably built between A.D. 1300 and 1450. Some "experts" place the date at 1350 when the Pot Creek Pueblo became abandoned and some of the inhabitants apparently moved to Picuris Pueblo and others moved to the Taos Pueblo.
At the end of August of this year, Hernando de Alvarado, captain of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s artillery, is sent from Hawikuh to explore to the north and east. Leading a detachment of twenty soldiers, and accompanied by the chaplain, Fray Juan de Padilla, Alvarado travels east past the great rock of Acoma. Upon reaching the great river which he calls Río de Nuestra Señora, they are visited by twelve representatives of pueblos to the north with friendly greetings, so Alvarado and his soldiers travel that direction, going from town to town. Upon reaching an impassable canyon, they climb to a high plain, and on the edge come to a large pueblo divided in two parts by a river. He understands it to be called Braba. From there they travel to the east to see the plains after sending a report about the pueblos to the General.
In September, a solemn event is celebrated in the temporary church that had been built by Don Juan de Oñate’s colonists at San Gabriel. The governor asks the chiefs of the Indian provinces if, in order to receive benefits of military protection and the guidance of the missionaries. they would swear allegiance to the crown. The Indians agree, and after the papers are drawn up, each Indian leader signs "amid great rejoicings". Fray Alonzo Martinez asks if they would be saved. After deliberation, the response is, that if, after instruction, they liked what they learned, they would follow the teaching, but if they did not like it, it would not do to be forced to accept something they did not understand. Thereupon, Fray Alonzo rededicated each of the Franciscans to their calling, and assigned each to go alone with the Indians to a pueblo. Fray Francisco de Zamora is given the northernmost pueblos, Picurís and Taos.
The difficulties of the colonists and their complaints cause Oñate to fall into disfavor, and he is replaced by Pedro de Peralta as governor. One charge against Oñate is that he killed a young Taos leader by hurling him from a roof.
1610 - 1617
Fray Francisco de Zamora was based at the Taos Pueblo to spread the Catholic faith in the Taos Valley. The first mission church was founded around 1610-12 or 1617 and became known as Mission de San Geronomio.
Resentments over the attempts by religious authorities to quash native rites, and the demands by encomenderos ** for tribute cause hostility from the Taos Pueblo and culminate in this year when the Indians kill their priest, Fray Pedro de Miranda, and other Spanish people in the vicinity and flee northeastward to the Cuartelejo Apache villages.
- **Encomienda - A provision of guardianship by which each Spanish landholder has "commended" to him the Indians who live on his land. He is responsible for their spiritual and physical welfare, and in return work, crops or products are owed to him. In practice, far away from Spanish authority, this amounts to slavery.
Taos people return reluctantly to their pueblo at the urging of Governor López de Mendizábal amid charges and countercharges between the governor and religious authorities regarding the troubled relationship with the Indians.
All of the Pueblos, skillfully organized by Popé, a native of San Juan Pueblo who had been hiding at Taos, rise in revolt on August 10. At Taos, some seventy settlers, as well as the priests, Antonio de Mora and Juan de la Pedrosa are killed. Don Fernando Durán y Chávez and his son Cristóbal, who have a hacienda nearby escape to Santa Fé. Two other landowners, Sebastián de Herrera and Diego Lucero de Godoy who are away at the time also escape, but lose their families in the massacre. The combined Pueblo forces drove the Spanish out of New Mexico until 1692.
Don Diego De Vargas completed the Re-Conquista of NM with the last phase being completed in 1696 when De Vargas persuaded the Taos Pueblo Indians to drop their arms and come back out of the mountains.
In June of this year, Governor Juan Ignacio Flores de Mogollón revalidates a grant made previously a soldier, Cristóbal de la Serna, who had been unable to take posession previously in 1710 because of his military service. The cacique, governor and lieutenant governor of the pueblo of Taos are summoned by Alcalde Juan de la Mora Piñeda, and make no objection to the act of posession by Serna.
The Diego Lucero de Godoy Landgrant was granted to Antonio Martinez and became the Martinez Grant.
The Spanish government forbids trade with the French, and limits trade with the Plains Indians only to Taos and Pecos, thereby giving rise to the annual summer trade fairs at those locations where Comanches, Kiowas and others come in great numbers to trade captives for horses, grain and trade goods from Chihuahua.
In late summer, three thousand Comanches descend on the Taos Valley, intent on destroying the Pueblo, and carry away 56 women and children. By legend, one of these is María Rosa de Villalpando, beautiful daughter of a settler, who, in order to gain the friendship of the Indians had promised her as a child to one of the chiefs in marriage. Now older, she refuses the chief, thus precipitating the raid. According to Josiah Gregg, she lives for some years among the Comanches, is bartered to the Pawnee, from whom she is purchased by a Frenchman of St. Louis, and lives to a ripe old age with many descendants there.
At the time of the American Declaration of Independence according to the census taken by Father Dominguez, the Taos Valley area contained 67 families with 306 Spaniards. The Ranchos de Taos area was the most populated at that time.
By this year, Spanish settlers who had been living within and close to the Taos Pueblo for protection from raiding Indians, have moved to the location of the present town of Taos. In the following year, Governor Fernando Chacón approves a grant there, and 63 families are placed in posession of the Don Fernando de Taos grant by Alcalde António José Ortíz. The boundary of this grant overlaps with land granted earlier to the pueblo, as well as the Serna Grant.
- ( Interesting account from the Spanish Archives of New Mexico )
Don Severino Martinez Family including Padre Jose Antonio Martinez moved to Taos and the Martinez Hacienda was built in 1804 in a fortress style architecture.
The Taos Tax Revolt occured when 280 Spanish subjects living in Taos were jailed for protesting the heavy handed method the Alcalde Mayor, Pedro Martin presented the new 5% tax. The complaint was presented to the New Mexico Governor Alberto Maynez who addressed the grievance by accepting the citizens oath of loyalty to the Spanish Crown. The Alcalde Moyor Pedro Martin resigned and was replaced.
Mexican Independence from Spain was hardly noticed in Taos but the trickle of newcomers from the East became a floodtide after the opening of the Santa Fe Trail.
Padre António José Martínez, newly ordained, is assigned to the parish of Guadalupe at Taos. This same year, a sixteen year old runaway apprentice named Christopher Carson arrives in Taos from Missouri with a group of traders led by Cerán St. Vrain.
The first printing press west of the Mississippi River was brought to Taos by Padre Martinez who then published the first newspaper "El Crepusculo" which is the predecessor to The Taos News. The first book published in New Mexico was published for the school.
Padre Martínez, after giving him instruction, baptizes Kit Carson as a Catholic so he can become engaged to marry Josefa Jaramillo. Kit and Josefita are married in the following year.
Col. Stephen W. Kearney with his "Army of the West" occupied New Mexico for the U.S. and Charles Bent of Taos was appointed as the first American Governor of N.M.
Taos Pueblo Indians and firebrand Hispano nationalists revolted against the U.S. occupation and landgrant land losses. Governor Bent was murdered and Captain Burguin died in final assault on the Pueblo Church where the resistors took refuge. After a Kangaroo Court, several vanquished rebels or patriots convicted of treason against the U.S., were then sentenced and hung at the Taos Plaza.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed ending the Mexican/American War ceding Taos and the Southwest to the U.S. and making all non-Indian inhabitants who did not leave within one year citizens of the U.S.
Early this year, a hot and bitter struggle in Congress over Texas, New Mexico, Utah and California reaches dangerous heights, but by September a bill is agreed to which admits California as a free state, establishes the boundary between Texas and New Mexico, and admits New Mexico and Utah as territories with the right to hold slaves left open. A great conflict over slavery is averted temporarily.
In the following year, the New Mexico territorial government is organized and in the first legislative assembly, among other acts, Taos County is established to include "all the territory north of the line running west from Tetilla de la Petaca to the California line; and southeast from the Petaca through Embudo, Rincones, and Las Trampas to the junction of the Mora and Sapello Rivers and thence due east to the Texas line."
The Ceran St. Vrain Taos Gris Mill established on the Rio Grande del Ranchos, 3 miles upstream from the Ranchos de Taos Plaza. Flour from this mill was to supply the growing needs of the new US military presence.
Battle of Cieneguilla - The First Dragoons from Ft. Burgwin commenced an unauthorized attack on the Jicarilla Apache village near Dixon. The solider were defeated by the Apaches losing 24 men.
For a few months, a privately owned pony express between Denver and Santa Fé traverses the old Taos trail.
Civil War battles occured in New Mexico at Valverde and Glorieta.
"The Long Trail" - 8,000 Navajos and 500 Mescalero Apache who had surrendered to Col. Kit Carson were marched 300 miles from Arizona across Northern New Mexico to be held at the Bosque Redondo on the Pecos River. 3,000 of these prisoners died due to starvation and disease.
The Río del Norte and Santa Fé Railroad is incorporated in Taos. The proposed line is projected from Costilla through Taos and on to Santa Fe, but is never surveyed. Later attempts to bring rail service to Taos also fail and Taos remains somewhat isolated today, distant from many of the stresses of development.
The first American artist, Ernest Blumenschien and Bert Phillips arrive in Taos when their wagon wheel broke. They liked it and stayed, later to establish an Artist Colony.
New Mexico became the 47th state.
Taos Society of Artists was formed by Bert Philips, Ernest Blumenschein, Oscar Berninghaus, Josepf Sharp, E. Irving Couse and Herbert Dunton.
(disbanded in 1927) - Additional Information
Town of Taos was incorporated.
Taos Ski Valley (TSV) was started.
Taos Gorge Bridge was completed.(US 64)
The New Buffalo commune was founded in Arroyo Hondo. it was a meca for the Hippie movement and was duplicated for the Easy Rider movie set. This and other communes in the surrounding area is where the young Counter Culture dreamed of building a better world.
The U.S. government returns sacred Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo in a landmark decision.
On the 4th of July The Encebado Fire was ignited by lightening within a mile of the historic Taos Pueblo Buildings. It took more than a thousand fire fighters 13 days to contain the 5,400 acre blaze. Fortunately there was no loss of life or structures but the Rio Pueblo watershed and the sacred pueblo land will take a generation to recover.