A Brief History of Tome', New Mexico
Tome' is located off HWY47 south of the intersection with El Cerro Loop (formerly known to long term residents as "the 4-way stop") and is one of several small communities that run together in the area generally known as "Los Lunas".
Today, Tome is little more than a blip on the map but, once upon a time, it was the county seat of Valencia County and is the oldest Hispanic settlement in Valencia County.
Tome' was originally part of an encomienda granted to a fellow named Tome' Dominguez de Mendoza in 1659. However, following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 during which 38 members of his household were killed, Dominguez abandoned his land and high-tailed it all the way to El Paseo where he remained until the Spanish reconquered New Mexico in 1692.
In 1739, a group of 29 settlers from Albuquerque petitioned governor, Gaspar Domingo de Mendoza for control of the abandoned land. The governor granted their request and the Town Of Tome' Grant was conveyed to them.
Following the blueprint of other Spanish colonial towns, Tome' had a central plaza with a church that was surrounded by houses. In 1776, Fray Atanasio Dominguez reported that the settlement of Tome' was home to 727 residents, making about the same size as Albuquerque at the time.
In 1821, Mexico gained its independence from Spain and by this time Tome' was large enough to have it's own local government with a mayor and a legislative council. By 1852, New Mexico was under the control of the United States (though not yet a state), and Tome' was designated the county seat of Valencia County.
In 1876, due to continuing Native American conflicts and a decline in population and general organization, the county seat was permanently moved to Los Lunas.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Tome', New Mexico was established in 1739 and is the oldest church in Valencia County. Over the years, I have shot a few weddings at this church and, while the both the inside and outside have undergone some improvements and renovations, it remains largely the same as it's always been (according the oldest pictures I can find).
John Babtiste Ralliere
In 1849, after New Mexico came under control of the Uniter States (though NM did become a state until 1912), a french priest who had come to the United States to work the parishes of Ohio and Kentucky was selected to become the first Vicar Apostolic of Santa Fe. You may have heard of him, his name was John Baptiste Lamy.
Upon his appointment, Bishop Lamy immediately recognized the need for more religious workers. It was Bishop Lamy who first brought the Sisters of Loretto to Santa Fe where another famous church was built. It is known today as the Loretto Chapel.
In 1856, Bishop Lamy sent Father Machebeuf to France on a recruitment mission. His appeal to the Seminary of Montferrand yielded six seminarians including John Baptiste Ralliere.
Father Ralliere was the pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Tome, New Mexico from 1858 until 1913. Today, a memorial plaque marks his gravesite under the floor boards of the church.
Unfortunately, most of J.R. Ralliere's personal letters and papers were burned after his death but a few were saved by a Mrs. Montano who had worked in his household and whose brother had been the church organist. The pages from the notebook that Mrs. Montano saved now comprise the majority of the surviving written record of J.B. Ralliere.
Click here to read a complete transcription of the Apuntes of Father J.B. Ralliere.
On the church property is another interesting building that houses a memorial for a few of its parishioners that fought and died in the Korean War. Out of respect for the surviving families, I have intentionally muted the names on the headstones.
Today, Tome' remains a significant spiritual center in the local Catholic Community. The most notable landmark in Tome' is Tome' Hill. Three crosses sit atop the hill that can be seen from almost anywhere in the surrounding community and, on significant holidays, hundreds of people will be seen walking on HWY 47 making their pilgrimage to the top of the hill.
The photos above and below are interior shots of the same building. At one end is the Korean War Memorial and the other end sits empty.
In 1875, perhaps in an attempt to regain the county seat, the town of Tome' built a two story adobe courthouse on the plaza and a stone jail which is still standing. The county seat was indeed moved back to Tome', temporarily, but in 1876 it was permanently moved to Los Lunas.
Next door to the jail is another old building that is boarded up and looks to be about the same age. I could not find any explanation for what this building is but it looks like it may have been offices either for jail staff or possibly for the church which is right across the street.
Both the jail and adjacent building sit on private property and viewing is restricted to what you can see from the street. The Tome' Jail is considered part of the the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail.
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.