American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



Samuel Watrous journeyed to tNew Mexico in 1835 and moved to the mining camp of Dolores, situated in the San Pedro Mountains south of Santa Fe. He lived there for a period of 10 years. He married, Tomacita Crespin and raised a large family. Samuel supported his family by selling goods and trading deerskins to the minors of Dolores.

By the end of the year 1848 or 1849, Watrous had saved enough money to buy a portion of the John Scolley grant and build his home at the picturesque setting where the Sepello and Mora Rivers flow together, some twenty miles northeast of Las Vegas. Despite the incessant Indian attacks upon his ranch, the harshness of the climate, and the perils of living isolated from any major settlement, Samuel Watrous prospered by selling goods not only to the local residents, but also to the people traveling the Santa Fe trail, and by farming and ranching. Shortly after moving to La Junta, as the settlement was commonly called, Watrous and his friend William Tipton started a business freighting goods back and forth along the Santa Fe trail to Missouri.

By the end of the 1870s the Indians of the Plains had been subjugated and placed upon their respective reserva­tions. And when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad roared by the Watrous ranch in 1879 on its way to the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, Samuel Watrous, along with many New Mexicans, witnessed the passing of an era. The stagecoach line discontinued service from Gregg's Tavern in nearby La Junta. Samuel Watrous and other businessmen stopped freighting goods to Missouri. The small rural community of La Junta, renamed Watrous, New Mexico, contained several general stores, two churches, a saloon, new houses, and a bustling railroad station. Samuel Watrous, an aging affluent rancher, had helped make some of these changes possible. This thesis takes the fragmented pieces of Samuel Watrous' life and presents the reader with a historically accurate account while showing his major contributions to New Mexico's history.



Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Richard Nathaniel Ellis

Second Committee Member

Charles DeWayne Biebel

Third Committee Member