The battle over Archuleta County’s government continues

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Photo courtesy John M. Motter J.T Martinez is shown supervising the shearing of his sheep. J.T. was a member of the Martinez family once powerful in county politics. The Martinez family collaborated with the Archuleta family in an effort to control the county government.
Photo courtesy John M. Motter
J.T Martinez is shown supervising the shearing of his sheep. J.T. was a member of the Martinez family once powerful in county politics. The Martinez family collaborated with the Archuleta family in an effort to control the county government.

During the first 15 years of its existence, competition between Anglos and Hispanics for control of the Archuleta County government was so fierce it attracted the attention of newspapers across the state. The messy situation is said to have attracted the undercover attention of the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s cowboy detective Charlie Siringo.

One of the best expositions describing this power struggle was written by John Taylor, a man teaching school in Archuleta County at the time. Taylor moved on, but in later life described affairs in Archuleta County. His memoirs are on file in the Denver Public Library History Museum. Taylor wrote the following in his memoirs:

“In the southern part of the county was a voting precinct known as the Archuleta precinct, here over a hundred Mexicans from New Mexico were voted to hold their gang in power.

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