A book not to curl up with

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE – Have you ever researched a question and discovered that the answer leads to many more questions? That’s what happened with the compilation of a book that is referred to by many as the encyclopedia of Santa Fe.
The book was produced as a part of the celebration of Santa Fe’s 400th anniversary in 2010. An outstanding task force of local historians compiled a list of trivia about Santa Fe, which expanded to 400 questions with answers and references. Most of the answers led to further questions and more answers.
The task force strived for accuracy but some of the questions don’t have definitive answers. I was contacted by the task force about some of those questions. I told them what I had heard but some of the published answers reveal that others had heard differently.
“Santa Fe: 400 Years, 400 Questions” is a fun book to read. Because the 304-page book has 400 numbered questions, it is easy to put down at the drop of a hat, the ring of a telephone or the announcement that the doctor is finally ready to see you.
 It isn’t a book to curl up with and read all night because you can’t put it down. Save that for a good murder mystery on a snowy night.
Because of Santa Fe’s long and unusual history, many books have been written about it, from scholarly studies to brief tourist guides. But the appeal of this one is unique whether you are from a long-established family or are a recent arrival.
A six-page historical introduction by Adrian Bustamante begins the book with an informative e look at Santa Fe’s four eras of sovereignty by Native American, Spanish, Mexican and United States rule during the four centuries since its founding.
The book ends with an extensive bibliography and several study guides that should be helpful to teachers and students.
In between, are 270 pages containing the 400 questions, answers and many photographs. Although the questions involve Santa Fe, the answers often range into other parts of New Mexico.
Most of the early colonists came into New Mexico by way of the Camino Real from Mexico City. Most traveled the Trail to its end in Santa Fe. Some later branched out into the rest of New Mexico even though they were safer near the modest protection of the territory’s capital city.
Later, with the advent of the Santa Fe Trail, beginning in 1821, traders and others moved in from Missouri and surrounding areas and traveled to the terminus in Santa Fe before branching out to the rest of the state, largely for ranching purposes.
Movement from Santa Fe outward increased especially in the 1880s after the arrival of railroads and the end of the Indian wars.
Many of those moving West along the Santa Fe Trail were immigrants looking for opportunity in the West. Some of these immigrants were French, mostly trappers, who were allowed into the territory even under Spanish rule, which prohibited foreigners, who might decide they wanted the territory for themselves.
 The Spanish turned out to be very correct in their fears.
Jewish traders were some of the first to come West after the opening of the Santa Fe Trail. The book lists Spiegelberg, Gold, Staab, Seligman, Bibo, Ilfeld and Zechendorf among others.
In 1876, Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy recruited Italian stone cutters, stone masons and architects to build St Francis Cathedral.
Those families included the Berardinellis, Digneos and the Palladinos. Later family names the book includes are Domenici, Palermo, Gardi, Fiorina and Pertusini.
Strife in their homeland brought many Lebanese over a century ago. The book lists these Lebanese, mostly businessmen, as Maloof, Budagher, Fidel, Greer, Bellamah, Adelo, Francis, Harroun, Koury, Najar, Salmon, Shaya and Younis.
One other interesting list of families is contained in the Secretary of State’s Blue Book. It is the names of the colonists who came with Onate in 1598.
Jay Miller is a syndicated columnist based in Santa Fe.