Aleman, New Mexico


Aleman is a locale, a formerly populated place in Sierra County, New Mexico, United States. It lies at an elevation of 4,669 feet / 1,423 meters.[1]


La Cruz de Le AlemánEdit

This locale was first a paraje at an unreliable spring in the Aleman Draw,[2] along the route of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro between Paraje del Perrillo and Laguna del Muerto in the Jornada del Muerto. It acquired its name following the discovery of the remains of a German merchant at that paraje in 1670. This man, Bernardo Gruber, accused of witchcraft, had escaped his prison and fled with the aid of an Apache friend, from the Inquisition in Santa Fe by trying to cross the desert to the south on the Camino Real. He had been forced to cross it in a bad time of the year when it was hot and in a season when no rains had yet fallen, and the Laguna del Muerto and then the spring at the next paraje was dry. Despite the attempt by his friend to get water to him in time, Gruber did not survive and only fragments of his body and garments were found later in the vicinity of the spring after they had been picked over and scattered by vultures and other scavengers. From that time that paraje was known as La Cruz de Alemán for Gruber's grave there. The tale of his death also gave the surrounding desert its name, Jornada del Muerto.[3]: 154 

Alemán RanchEdit

The first settlement of the site of Aleman, was made in 1867 by Captain John "Jack" Martin (1830-1877) an ex-officer in the Union Army, one of the California Volunteers of the California Column, that came to New Mexico Territory in 1862. Captain Martin served first in Arizona Territory and then in New Mexico Territory at Las Cruces, serving in escorts of stagecoaches along the route of the Camino Real there, and especially that of the Jornada del Muerto, until his unit was mustered out at Las Cruces in 1866.[4]

The following year, Captain Martin established a cattle ranch he called Alemán Ranch 32°59′40″N 106°59′58″W / 32.99444°N 106.99944°W / 32.99444; -106.99944 at the old paraje of Alemán, and began digging a deep well there in 1868, the first one dug in the Jornada del Muerto. Without taking any money from the Territorial Legislature or the Federal Government, he successfully struck water at 85 feet. He then charged travelers for his water and received a tax exemption for the business. He gave free water to the military and arraigned to have a post of troops from Fort Selden at his ranch to protect travelers traveling through the Jornada del Muerto region. He also arraigned the first telegraph lines to Las Cruces.[3]: 154, n.14 

The Alemán Ranch was much smaller than the Armendáriz Grant to the north, having an adobe ranch house facing the road with surrounding, corrals, stables and outhouses. From the first it was a stagecoach stop that remained so until the 1880s when the railroad arrived and established a stop on the tracks nearby called Aleman. Martin also maintained a small hotel and established an Aleman post office at the site in 1869 that remained until it closed in 1890 and was replaced by one 2 miles north of San Diego Mountain near the Southern Pacific Railroad at Detroit, New Mexico from 1889 to 1892 when it moved to Rincon.[5][6][7][8]

John Martin left the ranch in 1875 and moved to Santa Fe where he ran a hotel until he died in 1877.[9] By the mid 1880s, Alemán Ranch became part of the Bar Cross Ranch, a huge ranch, some its land purchased from the Armendáriz descendants, that ran from Dona Ana County to near the vicinity of San Marcial, in Socorro County. Later, in the 1890s, its headquarters was moved to Alemán Ranch from Engle.[3]: 156–157 

The site todayEdit

Buildings of the Bar Cross Ranch built on the site of the old Alemán Ranch can be seen north of County Road A039 to Spaceport America near its junction with the County Road A13 (Upham Road).

"Two ranches occupy the Spaceport America site. The Bar Cross Ranch and the Lewis Cain Ranch combined have grazing leases for the entire Spaceport site plus additional surrounding state and federal land. The ranches also own approximately 1,200 acres of land within the Spaceport site. The site is occupied by the respective ranch houses, a foreman’s house, and a number of water wells and associated pipelines owned by the ranches to support their operations."
"The State of New Mexico has entered into agreements with the Bar Cross and Lewis Cain Ranches to co-exist during the construction and ultimately the operation of the Spaceport. The goal of the Design Team was to minimize impacts on the ranchers to the extent possible."[10]: 6–7 


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Aleman
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Aleman Draw
  3. ^ a b c George D. Torok, From the Pass to the Pueblos, Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, Dec 1, 2011
  4. ^ John Martin ran away from home to become a drummer boy in the U. S. Army of General Winfield Scott during the Mexican American War, was at the storming of Chapultepec. Soon after returning from the war, he joined the California Gold Rush, rounding Cape Horn to land in San Francisco. There he remained until beginning of the American Civil War, when he responded to the call for volunteers. He was elected first lieutenant of Company D, First California Volunteer Infantry, under the command Colonel Carleton. The regiment as part of the California Column, marched from San Francisco to Rio Grande. During the march the captain of the company deserted at Fort Yuma, Lieutenant Martin assumed command and brought the troops through. He was in active service, largely engaged in suppressing Indian depredations. For some time he was stationed in the Jornada del Muerto, and with his company was engaged in escorting mail until mustered out at Las Cruces, New Mexico. Captain Martin had married Esther Catherine Wadsworth in Las Cruces in 1865, and they had six children, four of which lived to adulthood. After mustering out, Martin ran a ferry at Fort Selden while his wife ran the officers mess of the fort. John Martin and Family, Doña Ana County, New Mexico, History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Company, 1907, from accessed August 17, 2019.
  5. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Aleman Post Office (historical)
  6. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Detroit Post Office (historical)
  7. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Detroit (historical)
  8. ^ Helbock, Richard W., Post Offices of New Mexico, Las Cruces, NM, 1981.
  9. ^ John Martin and Family, Doña Ana County, New Mexico, History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Company, 1907, from accessed August 17, 2019.

External linksEdit

  • Structure and Function of Chihuahuan Desert Ecosystem The Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research Site Edited by: Kris Havstad, Laura F. Huenneke, William H. Schlesinger 2006
  • Bar Cross Ranch Headquarters by Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) from accessed August 17, 2019. Medium: Graphite on Paper. Circa: 1900. Size: 6" x 6"

Coordinates: 32°59′23″N 107°00′27″W / 32.98972°N 107.00750°W / 32.98972; -107.00750