Opening Address

The opening address of the Santa Fe Trail Travelers and Descendants Conference will be given by Henrietta M. Christmas.

She will talk about “Enduring Legacies of the Santa Fe Trail”

The Santa Fe Trail bound people from all walks of life, economic backgrounds and from all parts of New Mexico with travelers from Missouri. For more than six decades the Santa Fe Trail linked New Mexico to Missouri and the eastern states for travelers in both directions. Hunters, merchants, muleteers and school children all traveled the Trail. Diaries, oral histories, newspaper accounts and much more can further detail the lives of your ancestors.

Henrietta Martinez Christmas is a historical and genealogical researcher and author of several family books related to New Mexico and New Mexico’s colonial military. She descends from eleven soldier settlers who came with Oñate in 1598. She is currently president of the New Mexico Genealogical Society and has served on the boards of the Historical Society of New Mexico, the Hispanic Genealogical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution and other Hispanic genealogical societies.


Bent’s Forts


Often called the “Castle of the Plains” Bent’s Fort was an adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes came together to trade. Built by William and Charles Bent, along with Ceran St. Vrain, the fort was the only major permanent white settlement on the Santa Fe Trail between Missouri and the Mexican settlement. It provided a place to get needed supplies, wagon repairs, livestock, good food, water and company, rest and protection in this vast

“Castle of the Plaings”.NPS.

Conference Speakers

The confirmed Speakers and days they will speak for The Santa Fe Trail Travelers and Their Descendants Conference is as follows:

Wednesday June 15, 2016

  • Henrietta Martinez Christmas

Thursday/Friday June 16-17, 2016


  • James Abreu                                      Abreu, Wildenstein, Beaubien
  • Tony Jaurez                                       Antonio Chavez
  • George Bayless                                 Mary Donoho
  • Karl Laumbach                                 Eberle Laumbach
  • Mary Penner                                      Henry O’Neil
  • Sandra Hess                                       Ezekiel Williams
  • Gloria Martinez                                May Hays
  • Michael Taylor                                  Romero
  • Mary Qutten                                      Lopez
  • Janell McQuirtty                               Dick Wooten
  • Charles Becknell                              William Becknell
  • John Grassham                                 Beaubien
  • Christine St. Vrain                           St. Vrain
  • Larry Marken                                   Alexander Grzelachowski

Saturday June 18, 2016 at Fort Union 

  • Francois-Marie Patorni                   French Fur Trappers
  • Timothy Kimball                              1846 German Soldiers
  • Blain Bachman                                  Mormon Battalion

Conference Schedule

Santa Fe Trail Travelers and Their Descendants

June 15-18, 2016

Schedule Outline


Wednesday, June 15 Ilfeld Auditorium

1 – 6 PM                                  Registration

4:30 PM The Santa Fe Trail: An Enduring Legacy (Speaker, Henrietta Christmas?)

6:30 PM                     Opening Reception – Mixer (Heavy Snacks, no program)

7:30 PM                                   Santa Fe Trail Movie


Thursday, June 16 Ilfeld Auditorium

8:00 – 12:00 AM                   Registration

8:30 – 10:00 AM                   (3 descendant speakers)

10:00 AM                                Break

10:30 – 12:00                        (3 descendant speakers)

12:00PM                                 Lunch NMHU Student Union Ballroom and outside patio

1:00 – 2:30 PM                      (3 descendant speakers)

2:30 PM                                   Break

3:00 – 4:30 PM                      (3 descendant speakers)

6:00 PM                                   Dinners and Programs (Reenactors, Music) (Family Gatherings)


Friday, June 17 Ilfeld Auditorium and Fort Union National Monument

8:00 – 12:00 AM                    Registration

8:30 – 10:00 AM                    (3 descendant speakers)

10:00 AM                                  Break

10:30 – 12:00                          (3 descendant speakers)

12:00 PM                                  Lunch NMHU Student Union Ballroom and outside patio

1:00 – 2:30 PM                       (3 descendant speakers)

2:30 PM                                    Break

3:00 – 4:30 PM                        (3 descendant speakers)

6:00 PM                                    Buffalo Dinner and Music      Fort Union National Monument


Saturday, June 18  Fort Union National Monument

Fort Union Days

9:00 – 12:00 AM                   Santa Fe Trail Speakers

12:00 AM                                 Lunch (Vendors)

2:00 PM                                   Programs


Sunday, June 19     Fort Union National Monument

Fort Union Days

Santa Fe Trail Travelers and Their Descendants Conference

The Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historical Preservation is seeking descendants of the Santa Fe Trail Travelers to attend a conference on June 15th – 17th, in Las Vegas, NM. More events will take place at Fort Union on the 18th & 19th. This will be a reunion and storytelling event that focuses on the travelers of the Santa Fe Trail and their descendants. The Santa Fe Trail started in Missouri and ended in New Mexico and was traveled by covered wagons pulled by oxen with a wagon master that led the way. Life on the Santa Fe Trail was not easy and the people who traveled this trail left behind extraordinary and beautiful stories to their descendants. It is the goal of this conference to share these stories and talk about the incredible lives of these travelers. All the speakers at this event are descendants of Santa Fe Trail travelers. We hope that you are able to attend the Santa Fe Trail Travelers and Their Descendants Conference and bring all the stories of your ancestor’s journeys on the Santa Fe Trail.

The historic Santa Fe Trail began in 1821 at Franklin, Missouri, a small town northwest of St. Louis. There had been some limited trade between Spanish-controlled New Mexico and the French in the Mississippi valley for more than a century. In 1792, Pedro Vial, a trusted French explorer living in Santa Fe, was directed by the City’s Spanish governor to open a road to St. Louis” (1).

Arnold, Sam’l.  Eating up the Santa Fe Trail. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing,2001.Print.

Santa Fe Trail Ruts

Imagine Prairie Schooners rumbling over the landscape, 10 feet tall and 23 feet long (with yoke). Imagine further that today you can still see evidence of those 44-50-inch diameter wooden wheels in the terrain from Missouri to New Mexico! Today U.S. highway 56 follows much of the original trail route from Kansas City, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Along the trail, original ruts are preserved in many places. Such is the case near Baldwin City in Douglas County, northeastern Kansas.santa_fe12.jpg

Independence, Missouri


1831 – 1845
Independence grew into a substantial town by 1831. Given an improved connection between the town and two Missouri River landings, Independence captured most of the Santa Fe Trail traffic during this period. Rival Westport was founded in 1832, and by the mid-1830s, nearby Westport Landing was attracting a small but increasing portion of the New Mexico trade. Trail length from Independence to Santa Fe via Cimarron Route = 800 miles.

NationalParkService.”Travel the Trail:Map Timeline 1821-1845″.

Cimmarron Route


1822 – 1828
When William Becknell headed east from Santa Fe on his first trading trip (he arrived in Franklin in mid-January 1822), he avoided the Raton Mountains and took a shorter, more direct route, which soon became known as the Cimarron Route. Most of those who made the trek in later years followed in Becknell’s footsteps. During this period, a few westbound parties started from Lexington, but most departed from Franklin. Independence, founded in March 1827, had a minimal role as a trail town during this period. Trail length from Franklin to Santa Fe via Cimarron Route = 890 miles.

NationalParkService.”Travel the Trail:Map Timeline 1821-1845″.