A most interesting early civic leader of New Mexico was Father José Manuel Gallegos, whose life chronicles some amazing historical events.. He was born in Abiqiu in 1815, while Nuevo Mexico was still part of New Spain. He was ordained as a priest in 1840 after study in Durango, Mexico, and began serving a parish church in Albuquerque. He then stood for election and served in the Mexican Legislative Assembly for the Department of Nuevo Mexico from 1843-1846, and then after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican American War and New Mexico became a US territory, Gallegos was elected to the first Territorial Council in 1851. That same year, following a power struggle between local priests and the new Archbishop Lamy, Gallegos devoted himself to government entirely after Lamy removed him from his church. By 1853, Gallegos won election to serve as territorial delegate to Congress in Washington DC. He was elected to a second term, but his seat was contested, as was his loyalty to the United States, and it was claimed that he only had a majority of voters because of fraudulent Mexican voters. Voter fraud was never proven, but he was denied the election because of these claims and Gallegos came home to New Mexico. He returned to the New Mexico territorial government, serving as a legislator, treasurer and other offices, and one more stint in Congress.
Maria Adelina Isabel Emilia (Nina) Otero–Warren was born into two of New Mexico’s prominent Spanish colonial families near Los Lunas. A leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement, in 1922 she was the first woman in state history to run for Congress. A political and social reformer, she worked as Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent and for the WPA. In 1936, she wrote Old Spain in Our Southwest.
Roadside Marker Location: Valencia County, Los Lunas, US Hwy 314
You can view a county by county list of the Historic Women Mile Markers in this pdf.
A black, alpaca wool jacket with velvet and rick-rack trim around the neckline and along the shoulders, c. 1904-1913. This object represents one type of merchandise sold in a general store on the plaza in Chimayo, NM that was owned by Victor Ortega and later his son, Ben. Victor Ortega was heavily involved in the community. He was also a notary public, a postmaster, participated in the 1st constitutional convention of NM and also acted as the director of the local school and served as a probate judge.
Read more about Victor Ortega in this Spring 2012 El Palacio article titled “Don Victor Ortega.“ NMHM/DCA 11731.45
“Concha” was a rancher and the first female Majority Whip of a state legislature in the nation. She helped implement legislation for women’s rights, the handicapped, and bilingual education and also championed the arts and Hispanic culture. She served on sixty local and national boards helping to improve the lives of others. Vista Magazine honored her as “Latina of the Century” in 1999.