56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023


Cliff R. Pirtle









     WHEREAS, Blackdom was the most influential Black homesteader colony in New Mexico; and

     WHEREAS, Blackdom, located about twenty miles south of Roswell in Chaves county, was founded by Black settlers in 1901; and

     WHEREAS, Francis Marion Boyer, known as Frank Boyer, was raised hearing stories about New Mexico from his father, Henry Boyer, a freedman from Georgia, who served as a wagoner with the army units of Stephen W. Kearny during the Mexican-American War; and

     WHEREAS, Frank was educated at Morehouse college and Fisk university, where he learned about the legal requirements of homesteading; and

     WHEREAS, Frank encouraged African Americans to report and challenge abuses in the Jim Crow era, leading to his life being threatened by the ku klux klan; and

     WHEREAS, encouraged to move west for his safety, Frank traveled to New Mexico on foot with two students, picking up day labor along the way; and

     WHEREAS, Frank's wife, Ella, and their four children followed in 1901; and

     WHEREAS, Blackdom was founded by Frank and Ella Boyer under the requirements of the federal Homestead Act and was incorporated in 1903 by thirteen African Americans; and

     WHEREAS, the town experienced significant growth in its first decades, with settlers from throughout the United States moving to the community; and

     WHEREAS, many residents lived on farms, but Blackdom also developed a small village with its own United States post office, a store, a pumping plant and an office building; and

     WHEREAS, several other businesses flourished, including a blacksmith shop, a hotel, a weekly newspaper and a Baptist church; and

     WHEREAS, the residents of Blackdom established a community school to ensure that Blackdom's children would be educated; and

     WHEREAS, Lloyd Allen was a respected teacher who emphasized the importance of education to his Blackdom students; and

     WHEREAS, prominent families of Blackdom included the Boyers, Herrons, Proffits, Collinses, Eubankses, Wilsons and Smiths, with many families intertwined through kinship and marriage relationships; and

     WHEREAS, the exact population of the community is unknown, but the United States national park service estimates that approximately one hundred fifty people resided in the community, of which twelve women homesteaded, several on their own; and

     WHEREAS, Blackdom's prosperity depended on adequate precipitation, but a drought and the depletion of natural wells of the Roswell artesian basin aquifer starting in 1916 caused many of the settlers to relocate; and

     WHEREAS, Blackdom became uninhabited in 1921; and

     WHEREAS, no structures remain in Blackdom, except for a barely visible concrete foundation of the schoolhouse; and

     WHEREAS, today, Blackdom is considered a ghost town; and

     WHEREAS, in honoring Blackdom's history, October 26, 2002, was proclaimed Blackdom Day by the governor of New Mexico, and a historical marker was erected at a rest stop on United States highway 285 between Roswell and Artesia; and

     WHEREAS, former Blackdom residents and descendants of settlers were present for the dedication ceremony; and

     WHEREAS, although the site has historical significance, Blackdom is difficult to reach, as it is located in a remote and isolated section of southern Chaves county; and

     WHEREAS, surveys by the historic preservation division of the cultural affairs department and aerial maps show the only paved roads in the area are United States highway 285 and New Mexico state road 599; and

     WHEREAS, Chaves county road 130 is an unpaved, north-south route, and an unnamed arroyo is located north and west of the Blackdom site; and

     WHEREAS, the assessment of the historic preservation division is that the Blackdom site can currently be reached by United States highway 285, Chaves county road 130 and by a combination of unpaved, dirt two-track roads to the north or to the east, presenting challenging terrain; and

     WHEREAS, additionally, some of the dirt roads may be located on private property, requiring permission to access; and

     WHEREAS, Blackdom is culturally significant, and access to the site before further deterioration occurs is important; and

     WHEREAS, a task force would be helpful in determining how to access the Blackdom townsite;

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the cultural significance of the Blackdom homesteader colony in Chaves county be recognized and that the cultural affairs department be requested to convene a task force to study how to gain access to the historical townsite; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force be composed of representatives of the office of the state historian, the state land office, Chaves county, the New Mexico association of counties, New Mexico's congressional delegation, the United States postmaster general, the office on African American affairs and Blackdom property owners; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the task force present its findings and conclusions to the interim committee dealing with economic and rural development issues and other appropriate interim legislative committees by November 1, 2023; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the secretary of cultural affairs, the state historian, the commissioner of public lands, Chaves county commissioners, the executive director of New Mexico association of counties, members of New Mexico's congressional delegation, the United States postmaster general, the office on African American affairs and Blackdom property owners.

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