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Lucien Bonaparte Maxwell 1818-1875


Born in Illinois prior to it becoming a state, Lucien’s father Hugh Maxwell was an Irish immigrant. His mother was French nobility. Lucien left home at fifteen to attend Vincentian College in Missouri. Then headed west with the American Fur Company, where he met a trapper named Kit Carson. They became lifelong friends. John Fremont hired Lucien to hunt for his first expedition to Oregon. Then went with Fremont to California in 1845-46 to claim it as U.S. Territory. He married Charles Beaubien’s daughter, Luz. Lucien and Luz would inherit her father’s large land holdings in New Mexico and Colorado. They would acquire additional lands over the years until they owned 1.7 million acres of northeast New Mexico and southern Colorado. He employed a young Buffalo Bill Cody to take care of a goat ranch. Maxwell and Kit Carson founded the town of Rayado in 1847. Lucien and Luz built a house there in 1848. The Maxwell house is now part of the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch serving as a museum.


They sold the land grant in 1870 to the Maxwell Land Grant and Railroad Company. Property lines were disputed. Native people were removed from their lands, resulting in the Colfax County War that lasted for twenty years.


Learn more about Lucien Maxwell and his encounter with Will Smith, Texas Ranger in Comanche Trace, Book IV of the Westward Sagas Series.


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