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Last modified: 01/27/14
Once inhabited by Jicarilla Apache and Moache Ute Indians, Philmont was the site of one of the first pioneer settlements in northeastern New Mexico. At least one Indian archaeological site exists in the north section (Indian Writings), and various camps seek to preserve Philmont's Indian heritage. In the mid-19th century the Santa Fe Trail crossed plains just southwest of Philmont. The Tooth of Time owes its name to this trail; travelers knew that once they passed it, they had only a few weeks to go until they reached Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The present ranch is part of the original Beaubien and Miranda Land Grant.
In, 1841, Guadalupe Miranda and Charles Hipolite Trotier de Beaubien petitioned the Governor of Santa Fe for a tract of land. Two years later, it was granted.
The History of the Land
Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell arrived in Taos in 1841. He married Luz Beaubien, daughter of Charles Beaubien, in 1844.
Within a few years, Miranda had moved to Mexico, and offered Beaubien his share of the land. Beaubien was not interested, but his son-in-law, Lucien Maxwell, seized the opportunity. In 1858, Miranda's property was signed over to Maxwell for the sum of $2,745. This was the first step in making Lucien Maxwell the largest individual landowner in the history of the United States.
Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell, 1818-1875
With the help of his friend, famed mountain man and explorer, Kit Carson, Maxwell's settlement on the Rayado River prospered. Maxwell moved his ranch north to the Cimarron River in 1857, the site of present day Cimarron, New Mexico. There it became a famous stop on the Santa Fe Trail, bringing American trade goods into New Mexico. Ten years after Maxwell moved to Cimarron, gold was discovered on his ranch near Baldy Mountain. For years afterward, the mountains and streams of Maxwell's Ranch swarmed with prospectors and miners.
In May of 1869, an option to the Maxwell Land Grant was sold to Jerome Chaffee , George Chilcott, and Charles Holly by Lucien and Luz Beaubien Maxwell. In June of 1870, Maxwell was notified that Chaffee and the others had elected to exercise the option to purchase, and that arrangements had been made for them to buy the property for $1,350,000. On June 30, 1870, the transaction was completed.
Chaffee, Chilcott, and Holly had been negotiating with a group of British capitalists who were interested in the land. They organized under New Mexico laws. Prominent New Mexicans, William A. Pile, Thomas Rush Spencer and John S. Watts were chosen to "front" for the English investors and file for incorporation as the Maxwell Land Grant and Railway Company. Within 10 years, the Maxwell Land Grant and Railway Company had collapsed.
In May of 1880, the Maxwell Land Grant Company was organized under the laws of Holland. The Maxwell Land Grant Co. had its headquarters in Amsterdam and offices in New Mexico (Cimarron) and Colorado. The Company was involved in activities including mining, timber, coal, farming, irrigation projects, plaster and cement manufacturing. By 1960, the company sold off most of its land and retired from northern New Mexico. As of 1980, the Maxwell Land Grant Company existed in the Netherlands under the name of De Maxwell Petroleum Holding N.V., Amsterdam.
From the earliest days, when the Ute and Jicarilla Apaches considered the land theirs, the Beaubien/Miranda or Maxwell Land Grant has been controversial. The United States and the Maxwell Land Grant Company went to court over the "fraudulent" boundaries in 1887. The Maxwell Land Grant company won the case and the decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1887. Familiar New Mexicans who were investors with the Maxwell Land Grant Co. include Stephen Elkins, Frank Springer and Thomas Catron.
The above history is taken from the Inventory of the Maxwell Land Grant Company Records, 1872-1966 from The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for Southwest Research.