About The Mesilla Valley independent. (Mesilla, N.M.) 1877-1879
Mesilla, N.M. (1877-1879)
- The Mesilla Valley independent. : (Mesilla, N.M.) 1877-1879
- Alternative Titles:
- Independiente del Valle de la Mesilla
- Place of publication:
- Mesilla, N.M.
- Geographic coverage:
- Mesilla Valley Pub. Co.
- Dates of publication:
- Ceased July 26, 1879.
- Vol. 1, no. 1 (June 23, 1877)-
- Doña Ana County (N.M.)--Newspapers.
- Mesilla (N.M.)--Newspapers.
- Also on microfilm: El Paso, Texas : Southwest Micropublishing, Inc.
- Includes Spanish section entitled: Independiente del Valle de la Mesilla.
- sn 87090075
- View complete holdings information
The Mesilla Valley independent
The Mesilla Valley Independent and its Spanish-language section, El Independiente del Valle de la Mesilla, were published weekly from June 23, 1877, until July 26, 1879. Founded in 1849 on the banks of the Rio Grande River, Mesilla originally lay in Mexican territory. However, after the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the town became part of the United States. By the 1850s, Mesilla’s population had grown to almost 2,500 people, dwarfing the neighboring town of Las Cruces.
Albert Jennings Fountain served as the paper’s chief editor, while John S. Crouch and Thomas Casad worked as co-editors. Fountain was born and educated in New York and later spent time in California as an attorney and lieutenant in the Union Army. He also became a Freemason and an important member of the Republican Party. Settling in 1873 in Mesilla with his family, Fountain continued his legal practice and even defended William H. Bonney--better known as Billy the Kid--in 1881.
Although Fountain was a Republican, the Mesilla Valley Independent did not simply support Republican candidates. The August 17, 1878 issue explains: “The two parties of New Mexico have each placed in the field their candidates for Congress. There is much that can be said in behalf of either . . . . We would advocate much cool judgment, with an independent thought as to who is the best man . . .”
On August 17, 1878, Fountain left the Independent due to an illness and Thomas Casad retired. John S. Crouch stayed with the paper and Orla S. Casad joined him as editor.
The Mesilla Valley Publishing Company issued the newspaper every Saturday. The English section, The Mesilla Valley Independent, spanned five pages; while the Spanish section, El Independiente del Valle de la Mesilla, spanned only three pages. The latter did not simply translate the English news; rather, the editors focused on events in Mexico. When Orla Casad and John Crouch took over the paper, they recognized the deficiencies of El Independiente and purposed to “increase and make better our Spanish Columns, and to afford our Spanish reading patrons the same matter that will appear in English.” Despite these intentions, the Spanish section remained unchanged.
Topics reported on during the paper’s brief history include the Lincoln County War--a conflict between rival factions in New Mexico Territory (1878-79), irrigation issues, railroad news, and local events, including those in neighboring Grant County and the city of El Paso. The editors placed national and international news under the Telegraph column. Many issues also attacked the educational policies of the Jesuits, who had attempted to sell their textbooks to the public schools and gain tax-exempt status from the legislature.
In 1878, a subscription to the Mesilla Valley Independent cost $3.00 for one year, $1.50 for six months, and $1.00 for three months. Advertisements mainly included dry goods, grocers, jewelry and hotels. Each issue featured a Masonic Column, likely reflecting Fountain’s connection with this group.
Provided by: University of New Mexico