bell ranch

Pablo Montoya Grant
" I, Don Pablo Montoya, most humbly present myself before Your Excellency, and state that, being the owner of a certain amount of stock such as cattle, sheep and horses, and requiring pastures and capacity for its increase, having registered a piece of land without any individual owner, or belonging to any community, with the necessary supply of water, pastures and timber, removed from any settlement which could in any manner by injured; the location of which is on Red River, from the Rincon de la Cinta to the Trinchera, within which limits no individual of the territory pastures and stock, not reaching that far on account of its distance; its entire extent in the other two directions being from the Arroyo de Cuervo to the Mule Spring; and Your Excellency possessing all authority to make grants according to the wants of the people, and which result to the benefit of the territory and to every citizen, and in consideration of the superior intelligence of Your Excellency, which will perceive the benefits which will result to me, as well as by this means the immense tracts of land in which our territory abounds will be occupied, and the savages will be made to know the strength of this powerful nation. In view of such just and rational motives, I pray Your Excellency to condescend to accede to my petition by doing which I will be benefited and receive grace, swearing, in due form, that I do not act in malice."

Above is the letter to the territorial authority written in Santa Fe on November 8, 1824, three years after Mexico had gained its independence from Spanish dominion. Montoya's petition was granted only 12 days later, on the 20th day of November 1824. The Pablo Montoya Land Grant was created which contained 655,468 acres. A few years later this Pablo Montoya Land Grant was to be come the Bell Ranch.
Wilson Waddingham, a Canadian, showed up in New Mexico ca. 1870 and he ended up in control of the Pablo Montoya Grant. He also acquired the Baca II Grant and several ranches around the grants. Waddingham also gave the ranch its name after a butte in the shape of a bell near ranch headquarters. This bell shaped butte has been an area landmark from the earliest sighting of it by the Spanish. From the beginning it was referred to it as "la campana", The Bell. The "Bell" brand was recorded in San Miguel County, New Mexico Territory on March 15, 1875 by Wilson Waddingham.

From 1890 due to falling cattle prices, persistent drouth and unable to borrow more money, Wilson Waddingham lost control of The Bell. Ezekiel G. Stoddard an Eastern banker, and Edward Bradley formed the Red River Valley Co. and took control of The Bell. The Red River Valley Co. controled The Bell from 1899 until it was sold in 1947. During this fifty years The Bell enjoyed a period of stability that it had not known.
In 1947, some new owners, Ed T. Springer of the Charles Springer Cattle Company, Cimarron, New Mexico and Louis Stoddard divided the more than 400,000 acres remaining in the Bell Ranch into six segments and they sold the segments. The last of the giants was gone. A segment of The Bell ranch still continued but it was small compared to the giant it once was. To this day the bell shaped butte can be seen as a reminder of things the way they were.

BELL RANCH AS I KNEW IT, by George F. Ellis.
NEW MEXICO, American Guide Series, 1940, by the Coronado Cuarto Centennial Commission.

Harold Kilmer