Thanks to whoever posted the schedule on Duke City Fix of David V. Holtby’s new book signings, because I wouldn't have known it was on bookshelves otherwise. I picked it up a few days ago at Holtby's signing at the UNM Bookstore.It's title is Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexico’s Struggle for Statehood, University of Oklahoma Press, and I found it to be just what I needed to understand that long struggle to achieve statehood.
Most New Mexicans with an interest in the state pretty much recognize benchmarks (historical highlights) along the way, just not in the context of statehood. For example, we know that as the 1880s began, the railroad expanded across New Mexico and connected our key cities in rapid fashion. It is remembered because it was such an historic moment and is well documented in history books, including a UNM Press book, New Mexico Railroads: A Historical Survey, by David E. Myrick.
What we might not have understood about statehood was the back story, those subtleties such as Anglos’ worry about being outvoted, and who would be permitted to vote. “Statehood for New Mexico simply means that the white people of the Territory will be put under the domination of the Mexicans,” is one quote illustrating this in the book, which has much anecdotal material that ranges from meaningful to delightful.
This book probably isn’t for everybody, but it is for nearly everybody who is a member of Duke City Fix, I believe, based on members general adoration of Albuquerque and New Mexico, including the culture, languages (more than 15), and pop culture figures like Billy, the Kid, Pancho Villa and Elfego Baca. Baca, the famous sheriff of Disney fame, still resides in Albuquerque, buried in Sunset Memorial Cemetery.
Forty-Seventh Star, a great name for the book in my view, deals with deeper stuff, and, is replete with anecdotes, some of which are built into the footnotes. The footnotes and bibliography are extensive, and the Index a big help in finding what you need in a hurry. You’ll recognize many of the names in the very deep bibliography: Charles Lummis, V. B. Price, Paul Horgan, John Kessell, Marc Simmons,Toby Smith, Robert Utley, some of them who may be members of the Fix.
Under footnotes you’ll find these nuggets of people, place names, events, and the like from Abiquiu to Zia Pueblo, and also including adultery, African Americans, American Indians, Cabeza de Baca, Deming, Dexter, Elephant Butte, (whew!, 10 pages in all).