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Western Heritage Museum to Co-Host State Conference

Western Heritage Museum to Co-Host State Conference photo 2/26/2010 12:56:55 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. The Western Heritage Museum Complex & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, along with the Lea County Museum in Lovington are co-hosting the 150th anniversary annual meeting of the Santa Fe-based Historical Society of New Mexico, the oldest historical society west of the Mississippi. The 2010 New Mexico History Conference is scheduled for Thursday, April 29 – Sunday, May 2, at the Lea County Event Center (LCEC).

According to Calvin Smith, Executive Director of the WHMC, aside from the opening reception and Friday morning’s keynote address, most sessions and events of the three-day conference will be held at the LCEC.  Presented by author and historic geographer John Miller Morris, the keynote address, El Llano Estacado: Exploration and Imagination on the High Plains of Texas and New Mexico, 1536-1860, will be held in the Western Heritage Museum Theater.                                                                                             

Conference presentations on Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon will include Remembering the Civil War in New Mexico; History, Mystery, and Worlds Imagined: 1) Cemeteries, Skeletons, and Closets: Violence in the Sacramentos; 2) Jack Williamson: Nine Decades of Stories; 3) The Legend of the Lone Ranger and its Effect on the Popular Saga of the Old West; and The Impact of French Bishops in Southern New Mexico, 1850-1920.

Friday presentations from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. include Travel and Commerce on El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro; Culture and Politics in New Mexico: 1) Selective Memory: The Las Vegas Centennial Celebration of 1935; 2) Senator Dennis Chavez, Jacob C. Morgan and the Sabotage of John Collier’s Indian New Deal; 3) Inside the Tea Party: An Oral History of the Tea Party Movement in Southeastern New Mexico; Range Life in Southeastern New Mexico: 1) What Happened to the Horses? Clay McGonagill and the Vanishing Rodeo Stock; 2) George Causey and the Beginnings of Ranching on the Llano Estacado of Southeast New Mexico; and 3) The Territorial Mounted Police in Eastern New Mexico; or, New Mexico Rangers in Little Texas.

Friday presentations from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. includePathways to Understanding El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro; New Mexico: Where Cultures Meet: 1) Edgar Lee Hewett and the Santa Fe Fiesta:

Promoting a Town to Preserve a Culture; 2) Ties that Bind: Jewish Business Families in the Southwest; 3) Blackdom, New Mexico: A Study in African-American History in Southeastern New Mexico; Industry and Commerce in Southeastern New Mexico: The Belt Well of Artesia: Hucksterism, Showmanship, and Early Oil Exploration in the Pecos Valley; 2) Background and Significance of the Texas New Mexico Railroad; and 3) New Mexico and the Permian Basin Oil Companies, as Illustrated with Old Documents.

On Friday evening, the Lea County Museum in Lovington, directed by Dr. Jim Harris, will offer an optional catered dinner, followed by entertainment, including the grand opening of “Ghost Ranch and the Faraway Nearby,” a photo exhibit by Santa Fe photographer Craig Varjabedian; live music by keyboardist and vocalist Scott Shamblin; and informal tours of the Museum, which includes the Lea County Athletic Hall of Fame.

Saturday’s conference presentations from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. include Building Connectivity: Local History Organizations and the State Historical Society Working Together to Promote New Mexico History; Contested Territory: Conflict and Conquest in the Mid-19th Century Southwest: 1) Eyewitness to History: The Sowell Family in the Texas Revolution; 2) Governor Donaciano Vigil: Pragmatist or Collaborator?; 3) Dueling Boundaries: Santa Fe County, Texas vs. West Texas, New Mexico and the Hot Summer of 1850; and Centennial Atlas of Historic New Mexico Map.

Saturday presentations from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon include Women Who Made History: 1) Agnes Morley Cleaveland and No Life for a Lady; 2) The Women of Fort Union; 3) Women and Early 20th Century Architecture in Santa Fe; Developing Southwestern New Mexico: 1) Big Bucks: Hunting in New Mexico’s Gila Country 1880-2000; 2) The Elephant Butte Irrigation District Records; 3) Richard Hudson: Territorial Pioneer, Entrepreneur and Statesman of Grant County; Interpreting New Mexico’s Human and Natural History through Monuments and Art: 1) Friend or Foe? Reconciling a Contested Past: The Santa Fe Internment Marker; 2) Rudy Anaya is in Santa Rosa: The Story of the Anaya Monument; and 3) Visions Underground: Carlsbad Caverns through the Artist’s Eye.

Four optional tours to sites of interest in southeastern New Mexico / Permian Basin will be offered on Saturday afternoon.  Attendees can choose from a visit to an operating oil rig, the Hobbs Army Air Field, the San Simon Ranch and archaeological features, or the Playa lakes of the Llano Estacado.                                              

The conference will culminate on Saturday evening at the LCEC with a book auction, an awards banquet, and a talk by Calvin Smith entitled The Last Frontier: Is There Really History in Southeastern New Mexico?

For more information about the conference, including registration fees, meals, and tours, interested parties are asked to contact the Western Heritage Museum at 575.392.6730 or

the Lea County Museum at 575.396.4805. Area teachers are encouraged to take advantage of the free registration offered by the HSNM, especially a workshop/session on “Teaching NM History” by Kermit Hill of Santa Fe.

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