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Santacafé, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Padre Gallegos was one of the most important figures in the stormy history of mid~nineteenth~century New Mexico.

Santacafé, Santa Fe, New Mexico
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Santacafé, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santacafé, Santa Fe, New Mexico

José Manuel Gallegos ~ Padre Gallegos House
227-237 Washington Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico

This restored and remodeled house was originally built between 1857 and 1862. Soon after 1857, José Manuel Gallegos, a colorful and controversial priest who had been defrocked by Bishop Lamy five years earlier, built this house as his residence. Padre Gallegos was one of the most important figures in the stormy history of mid-nineteenth-century New Mexico.

During and after the Civil War, part of the building was used as a rooming house. Included among its tenants was Major John Ayres, at Fort Marcy, who lived in the house for eighteen years. For a short period, the first Episcopal Church in Santa Fe, known as "The Good Shepherd Mission," was located in the north wing. As the mission was established in 1868, the same year in which Padre Gallegos married Candelaria Montoya, a widow, it is probable that the wedding took place there. The marriage, performed by John Woart, who was chaplain of Fort Union, is the first entry in the parish register of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Faith in Santa Fe.

José Manuel Gallegos was born in Abiquiu, New Mexico, in 1815. His great-great-grandfather, José Luis Valdez, a native of Oviedo, Spain, had come to New Mexico as a colonist in 1693. After receiving his early education as a student of the rebellious Padre Martínez of Taos, José Manuel studied for the priesthood in Durango, Mexico, where he was ordained in 1840. He ministered to various Indian pueblos and in Albuquerque, and also served in the departmental assembly of New Mexico from 1843 to 1846. Some historians believe he was one of the ringleaders in an attempted revolt against the Americans in December 1846.

In 1851, while priest at San Felipe de Neri Church in Albuquerque, he was elected to the upper house of the first legislative assembly of the territory of New Mexico. His rebellion against church authorities began the same year with the arrival of Bishop Lamy. Having heard of Padre Gallegos' gambling, dancing, and consorting with politicos, Bishop Lamy sent Vicar-General Machebeuf to Albuquerque to replace him. When Padre Gallegos staged an open revolt, Bishop Lamy suspended him from ministering in the church. In a countermove, Padre Gallegos claimed he held deeds from the bishop of Durango to the priest's residence adjoining San Felipe de Neri Church. Although the documents were apparently forged, a suit instituted by Vicar-General Machebeuf was dismissed in 1856, probably by mutual consent.

In the interim Padre Gallegos was elected to the position of territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress in 1853 and was re-elected in 1855. He served in this session only until July 1856, when he was unseated by Miguel A. Otero, who had contested the election. After moving to Santa Fe in 1857, Padre Gallegos served four terms as speaker of the house in the legislative assembly and two years as territorial treasurer. In 1868 he was appointed superintendent of Indian Affairs by President Andrew Johnson. One more term in the U.S. Congress during 1871 to 1873 ended the political career of Padre Gallegos. When death came from a stroke in 1875, the Daily New Mexican called him "the most universally known man in the Territory." His funeral, which was held at St. Francis Cathedral, was one of the largest ever witnessed in the city of Santa Fe. He was buried in Rosario Cemetery, where his marble tombstone still stands.

The Padre Gallegos house was remodeled and at the same time restored to its original proportions in 1966-67. Twenty years later it was again restored after a major fire.


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