The Library of Congress > Chronicling America > The Ft. Sumner index.

Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities external link and the Library of Congress. Learn more

The Ft. Sumner index. : (Ft. Sumner, N.M.) 1909-1911
Alternative Titles:
  • Fort Sumner index June 30, 1910-Feb. 2, 1911
Place of publication:
Ft. Sumner, N.M.
Geographic coverage:
  • Fort Sumner, De Baca, New Mexico  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
L.D. Beckwith
Dates of publication:
  • -2nd yr., no. 2 (Feb. 2, 1911).
  • Began with Dec. 2, 1909.
  • English
  • De Baca County (N.M.)--Newspapers.
  • Fort Sumner (N.M.)--Newspapers.
  • Also on microfilm: Albuquerque, N.M. : University of New Mexico Library.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 2 (Dec. 9, 1909).
sn 93061425
Succeeding Titles:
View complete holdings information

The Ft. Sumner Index

The town of Fort Sumner, New Mexico, was established four different times. Located on the Pecos River, it served as a military installation from 1862 to 1868. Gen. James H. Carleton anticipated bringing an end to Navajo and Apache raiding and named the fort for Col. Edmond Vose Sumner, who had served as the military governor of the New Mexico Territory from 1851 to 1853. Approximately 8,000 Navajos and 400 Mescalero Apaches were forced on to the establishment. The Apaches later fled and the Navajos successfully negotiated their return to their homeland, and Fort Sumner was deactivated in 1868. In 1875, the military installation was purchased by Lucien Maxwell, at the time, a major private landowner and cattle baron. A small settlement developed, which also took the name Fort Sumner. It was in Maxwell's bedroom, that Pat Garrett, a sheriff from Lincoln and Dona Ana Counties, New Mexico, shot the notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid. Later, the New England Cattle Co. purchased Maxwell's holdings, and the properties deteriorated. Another settlement emerged slightly south, again called Fort Sumner. Around 1905, construction for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad began, and a new settlement, Sunnyside, immediately sprouted. After Sunnyside was devastated by a storm, its residents asked to join Fort Sumner on April 17, 1909, creating the present town.

The Ft. Sumner Index, an English-only, Republican newspaper was printed every Thursday. The publisher and editor was L.D. Beckworth. An annual subscription cost $1 per year. At this time, many New Mexican newspapers realized the importance of circulation and used promotional schemes in addition to price inducements to obtain sales. The Index offered half of its original subscription sales to any church named by its subscribers. The paper moved to nearby Melrose, and on February 2, 1911, its name was changed to the Index.

The Ft. Sumner Index reported local, territorial, national and international news. In the January 13, 1910 issue, it was noted that President Taft had approved a bill providing for separate statehood and elections for a constitution and officers. Edward L Hamilton, a member of House of Representatives from Michigan, was in charge of the bill and hoped it would pass in the current session.The enabling act of 1910 authorized the framing of a constitution for New Mexico. The territorial press advocated for a progressive constitution for the territory. During the final stages of the statehood process, many territorial papers began to adopt an editorial position free of control by any political party.

The Ft. Sumner Index also covered agricultural developments. On December 15, 1910, an agricultural college expert was reported to have concluded that the male mulberry is the best shade tree for New Mexico. The newspaper responded, "Now, if we could only be sure of getting the male tree, it would be easy." The January 27, 1910 issue reported that Santa Fe had sent an agricultural expert, a Professor Tingley, to Fort Sumner, where he presented on the topic of dry farming. It was claimed that Tingley's research would help the territorial government of New Mexico determine the future of dry farming.

Finally, on December 15, 1910, the Ft. Sumner Index reported that its office received a large number of territorial newspapers which demonstrated that leaders from both parties supported the new constitution. One of them, the Democrat Octaviano Ambrosio Lorrazola, advocated for the rights of Spanish-speaking New Mexicans. Lorrazola was influential in helping write into the constitution a ban on discrimination based on language or racial descent.

Provided by: University of New Mexico