Below are a few examples of “French places” in New Mexico.
Their story, including that of the French architectural legacy, will be told in my upcoming book.
Chapelle (San Miguel County)
The origin of the name of this village is uncertain. Chapelle is a common French name. Some say it comes from the name of a contractor, others that it honors Placidus Louis Chapelle who was Archbishop of Santa Fe from 1894 t0 1897.
Clairmont (Catron County)
Clairmont (also called Clermont) was a mining camp as early as 1822. It survived until the late 1880s as a supply center for roving prospectors. This is now a ghost town. At the site of the onetime mining camp beside Copper Creek are two log cabins and a corral. As Clermont is a French mining town, it is likely that the name of the New Mexico town is linked to the origins of a French miner from Clermont.
Clovis (Curry County)
The origin of the name is controversial and has been attributed to various people. Clovis (466-511) was born and deceased in Paris, and was the first Christian king of France. Clovis is famous for the “Clovis points”, which are projectile points dating from around 13,500 years ago. The first examples were found in Clovis in 1929.
French Henry Ridge (Colfax County)
French Henry Ridge is in Colfax County. It is named after Henry Buruel, nicknamed “French Henry”. He was the leader of a group of Frenchmen prospecting the Baldy Mountain area. He opened the French Henry Mine and the French Henry Camp.
Gascon (Mora County)
This place was named by Jean Pendaries, a frenchman from Gascony, who came to New Mexico in the 1870s. He moved from what is now Pendaries and established a ranch, naming the new place Gascon (after the Gascony region).
Jardin (San Miguel County)
The origin of this name is unknown. Jardin means “garden” in both French and Spanish. Hower, this settlement is near Gascon, named by Frenchman Jean Pendaries, so it was probably named by him as well.
La Lande (De Baca County)
Small inhabited settlement. The name might originate from Jean-Baptiste La Lande (French trapper and explorer). It is also possible that the place was named after an employee who died during the railway construction around 1905.
Lamy (Santa Fe County)
The small town of Lamy was named for Archbishop Lamy. It is about 14 miles from Santa Fe. In 1880, a spur rail line was built to connect Santa Fe to a junction in a village in the center of the “Lamy Land Grant” (more than 16,000 acres taken in trust by Bishop Lamy for the church). Archbishop Lamy had a residence, now in ruins, near the rail line. In my book you will read the history of Bandelier’s (a French Swiss) investigations there (artefacts are being pilferaged by locals and visitors), of French outlaws and of French businessmen in Lamy.
Ledoux (Mora County)
This community was named for Antoine Ledoux, trapper and guide. Ledoux Street in Taos is located just southwest of the plaza, in the exclusive art neighborhood, and is famous for its “Art Stroll”.
Leroux (Taos County)
From Antoine Leroux, a famous fur trapper whose life has been immortalized in Forbes Parkhill’s book “The Blazed Trail of Antoine Leroux“.
Mount Calvary Cemetery-Albuquerque
Mount Calvary Cemetery
About 22,000 people are buried at the Mount Calvary Cemetery including about 440 French names or names of known French origin. The total number is underestimated, as many people would have French ancestry through their mothers, grandmothers etc. and this would not be reflected in their name.
Pendaries (San Miguel County)
This place is named after Jean Pendaries, a Frenchman from Gascony, who came to New Mexico in the 1870s. He then moved and established a ranch in what is now Gascon (named after Pendaries’ Gascony region) in Mora County. Pendaries Village is a resort community carved out of the 5,000-acre Pendaries Ranch, established by Jean Pendaries in 1875.
Pigeon’s Ranch (Santa Fe County)
Alexander Valle, known as “Pigeon”, was a Frenchman from St. Louis. He established a ranch and Santa Fe Trail hostelry near Glorieta battlefield (Pigeon’s ranch). Pigeon’s Ranch was the largest and most important hostelry on the Santa Fe Trail between Fort Union and Santa Fe. You will read the extraordinary history of the ranch, the battle and the French in my book with paintings and pictures from the battle of Glorieta through te present time.
Saint Vrain (Curry County)
Small community named in the honor of Céran Saint Vrain, guide, trapper and explorer.
Santa Fe Trail
There were many Frenchmen on the Santa Fe Trail, including not only its pioneers Pierre Vial and Francis Aubry, the “skimmer of the plains”, but many others. Read the story of the French on the Santa Trail in my upcoming book.
Santa Fe and vicinity is the home of many French places. The best known (but there are many others) include the cathedral, built under Bishop Lamy, the Loretto Chapel, a small-scale imitation of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris; in the Palace of the Governors one of the main artifacts is the Segesser Hide Paintings, showing the French in Battle and the death of Jean l’Archevêque.
A few blocks down is the Guadalupe Church, renovated by Father de Fouri (French priest). A bit further is the Rosario cemetery where there are many graves of French priests and the Lamy mausoleum where the nephew of the Bishop and his wife have their final resting place. A bit further away is Bishop’s lodge (the Bishop’s original lodge is now a small museum).
Santa Fe’s Rosario Cemetery
Numerous graves of French priests are in the “priests’ area” of the Rosario Cemetery in Santa Fe, as well as the Lamy mausoleum where John Lamy (Bishop’s nephew), where his wife Mercedes Chavez and her mother have their last resting place. Graves incude those of Father Jouvenceau, Msgr. Joseph Louis Marie Pajot, Father Jules Desraches, Henri Le Guillou, Brother Clément Basile, Claude Balland, and Jean-Baptiste Guérovich.
Socorro’s French Quarter
There is a lot of French history in Socorro from the late 19th century and the 1900s, which will be told in my book.
Taos is not a French name but needs to be mentioned here. Starting around 1825, it became a hub and a supply base for the fur trade. It became the center of foreign-born residents of New Mexico, many of them of French and French-Canadian origin: for instance, David Weber’s classic “The Taos Trappers” mentions about 90 Frenchnames.