José Francisco Chaves

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José Francisco Chaves
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico Territory's At-large district
In office
February 20, 1869 – March 3, 1871
Preceded by Charles P. Clever
Succeeded by José M. Gallegos
In office
March 4, 1865 – March 3, 1867
Preceded by Francisco Perea
Succeeded by Charles P. Clever
Personal details
Born (1833-06-27)June 27, 1833
Padillas (then Mexico; now New Mexico, USA)
Died November 26, 1904(1904-11-26) (aged 71)
Pinoswells, New Mexico Territory
Political party Republican
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Farmer

José Francisco Chaves (June 27, 1833 – November 26, 1904) was a nineteenth-century military leader, politician, lawyer and rancher from the New Mexico Territory.



José Francisco Chaves was born on June 27, 1833 in Los Padillas, New Mexico (then in the Departmento de Nuevo México of the United Mexican States) in what is now Bernalillo County, near Albuquerque, New Mexico. His father was Don Mariano Chaves and his mother Dolores Perea was the daughter of Don Pedro Jose Perea of Bernalillo.[1] She later married Dr. Henry Connelly,[2] who became Territorial New Mexico governor during the Civil War. José's father, Don Mariano Chaves, was chief of staff under Governor Manuel Armijo in the revolution of 1837 and inspector general of all the military forces of New Mexico. Don Mariano later served as pro-tem governor under Mexican rule in the absence of governor Armijo. José Francisco was a paternal grandson of Don Francisco Xavier Chávez,[3] the first Governor (1822–1823) of the Departmento de Nuevo México under the independent First Mexican Empire shortly after Mexican War of Independence from Spain ended in 1821. José was also a first cousin of Francisco Perea and of Pedro Perea. Related to the Chaves Family of Fall River Massachuesetts.

Early life[edit]

José Francisco Chaves attended schools in St. Louis, Missouri, studied medicine at the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons and engaged in livestock raising in the New Mexico Territory. He married Mary Bowie in 1857, who died in 1874, leaving two children, Lola and Francesca. The former married Mariano Armijo, descendant of a prominent family of Bernalillo county, NM. The latter died in 1895.[4]

Chaves served as a soldier in campaigns against the Navajos prior to the Civil War. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Governor Connelly commissioned Chaves as major when the 1st Regiment NM Volunteers for the Union Army formed. After Ceran St. Vrain resigned his commission with the 1st, Kit Carson was appointed colonel and Chaves was promoted to lt-colonel.[5] In 1862 he took part in the Battle of Valverde. He was recognized for gallant and meritorious services, and later helped establish Fort Wingate, of which he was post commander for a long period. He was honorably mustered out of the service of the United States in 1865.[6]

Political career[edit]

Returning home he began the study of the law and in due course was admitted to the bar. In politics he was a staunch Republican and in 1858, while absent campaigning against the Navajos, was elected a member of the House of Representatives of the territorial legislative assembly, taking his seat in 1860. In 1865 he was elected delegate from the New Mexico Territory to the U.S. House of Representatives and served in the 39th and 40th Congresses from 1865 to 1867. He was elected back to the House of Representatives in 1868 and successfully contested the election of Charles P. Clever in 1869, serving again until 1871, being unsuccessful for reelection in 1870. In 1875 he was elected a member of the legislative council from Valencia County and was reelected to every succeeding legislature. Chaves was president of the New Mexico Territorial Council for eight sessions.

Chaves continued in farming and livestock raising. He was district attorney of the second judicial district from 1875 to 1877 and was a member and president of the New Mexico constitutional convention in 1889. He was New Mexico Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1903 to 1904 and was appointed New Mexico State Historian in 1903, but his career was cut short by an assassination in Pinoswells, New Mexico on November 26, 1904, where he was shot through a window while dining in the home of a friend.[7] He was interred in Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

His daughter, Dolores Elizabeth “Lola” Chávez de Armijo, is noted for her successful fight to keep her job as state librarian after Governor William C. McDonald attempted to remove her on the sole basis that she was a woman.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Twitchell, Ralph Emerson. The leading facts of New Mexican history, Volume 2. The Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1912. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Keleher, William Aloysius. Turmoil in New Mexico, 1846-1868. Sunstone Press, 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2011.  p.123
  3. ^ Twitchell, Leading Facts, p.400
  4. ^ Twitchell, Leading Facts, p.401
  5. ^ Keleher, Turmoil in New Mexico, p.279
  6. ^ Twitchell, Leading Facts, p.400
  7. ^ Thompson, Mark. "Who Killed Jose Francisco Chaves?". State of New Mexico, Office of the State Historian. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 

Additional references[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Francisco Perea
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico Territory's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1865 – March 3, 1867
Succeeded by
Charles P. Clever
Preceded by
Charles P. Clever
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico Territory's at-large congressional district

February 20, 1869 – March 3, 1871
Succeeded by
José M. Gallegos

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.