Frank G. Bartlett, (1850-1932)
A Contributor to his Community
Often when we think of the old west we often think of outlaws and lawmen or of solders and Indians and famous battles, but what about the settlers and businessmen? How do you determine the historical importance of a person? Success is one measure. But there are other measures, such as what one devotes to the community, for example jobs, participation, expertise, and development. Mr. Frank G. Barret had all of these attributes. Another attribute he had was the desire to immerse himself into his work. Very early in his life he seemed to begin as an employee and rise into management in a short period of time. Apparently he was also a very hard worker as any of the following undertakings would be a full time job. So ambition must also be a measure of historical importance.
Arrival and Beginnings
Frank G. Bartlett was born near Litchfield, Maine, March 6, 1850. In Gardner, Maine he was engaged in flouring mill business from 1867-72. He moved to Denver, Colorado in 1873 and located in St. Louis, Missouri in 1873 where he was employed in the wholesale boot and shoe business from 1873-78.
Mr. Bartlett came to New Mexico in 1879, locating in Socorro County where he became engaged in the wool business, for which he continued along with many of his other enterprises. Early on, he saw the potential that Magdalena had to offer a businessman. He and Mr. John M. Tyler formed a partnership and were successful in many business undertakings in Magdalena. Surprisingly, compared to Mr. Bartlett, there is very little information available about Mr. Tyler. In New Mexico Territory census of 1885, they were both shown to live in Magdalena (Precinct 12). Mr. Tyler was married at the time.
Mining – Bartlett and Tyler
Surprisingly, most of Mr. Bartlett’s short biographies do not mention his involvement in mining. Apparently Mr. Bartlett and his partner got their start from the mining industry. In September 29, 1882, the following note was printed in The Albuquerque Morning Journal: “Bartlett & Tyler have evidently struck it very rich in the Limitars. They have been offered and refused $30,000 for their location.” Also in the 1891 Santa Fe daily New Mexican: “North of Magdalena, in the Pueblo district, Messrs. Bartlett & Tyler made a strike the other day, the first car load from which yielded them $27,000.” They also filed for other mining patents such as the Pearl, Candelaria, and Grand Ledge.
Sometime between 1879 and 1884, Bartlett and Tyler established a sawmill at Point of Rocks Canyon. This sawmill was so important to the town of Magdalena, we devoted a special page to it. One can click here to read about the sawmill.
Frank Bartlett erected the first building in Magdalena and conducted the first mercantile store, probably as an outlet for his lumber. However advertisements in the newspapers stated that they also sold pumps, pipes, windmill, saddles, wagons, and other hardware. He and Mr. Tyler founded the Ranch Supply Company.
Frank Bartlett also opened two or more hotels in Magdalena.
Mr. Bartlett opened a private bank in Magdalena 1883-1908 (Bank of Magdalena). He also was one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Magdalena.
Stock and Sheep
According to the 1902 Socorro Chieftain: “Magdalena the Scene of the Largest and Most Important Assembly of the Woolgrowers Ever Convened in New Mexico. The Chieftain is favored by a special correspondent with the following report of the proceedings of the convention of wool-growers held in Magdalena Thursday: Magdalena, Feb. 27. Among the well-known sheep owners noticed at the meeting were Messrs. M. Cooney, Abran Abeyta, Solomon Luna, F. G. Bartlett, …”
He married Mary S Ford in 1888. They regularly commuted between Magdalena and Socorro. In 1901 Mrs. Bartlett acquired the Virgil Rufina House, in Socorro, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Mary Bartlett owned the house until 1946.
Buildings were built very close to one another and fire was a major threat to life and business in the early days of Magdalena. Frank Bartlett, his partner Tyler and their families were also affected.
On July 10, 1893. A fire started at Magdalena, in rear of the Magdalena hotel, owned by Bartlett & Tyler, and leased by S. H. Holmes. The fire destroyed the hotel with its contents and the vacant building adjoining the hotel owned by Frank Evans. The fire also burned a building leased by R. H.Egner for dwelling and saloon. In addition, Allen’s billiard hall, owned by Bartlett & Tyler, Allen’s saloon building and contents, the livery stable building owned by Bartlett & Tyler and some small frame buildings were taken by the fire.
In March 1892 a fire destroyed Mr. and Mrs. Tyler’s house and its contents (there was no insurance on the property) and a subsequent fire of their residence occurred in 1897.
Mr. Bartlett’s Magdalena home was burned in April 1892. In addition that fire took the Nelson house and stables, the K of P Hall, the Mine and Lariat printing office.
John M. Tyler Leaves
History has not recorded why Mr. Bartlett and his business partner of over 16 years separated in 1897. Tyler was 58 at the time. Perhaps he simply retired. Perhaps it was because of the fires that destroyed Mr. and Mrs. Tyler’s homes and their contents (there was no insurance on the property). Or perhaps it was Mr. Tyler’s failing health (He died in 1904 at Kansas City at the age of 65.). Regardless of the reason, in 1897, The Banker’s Magazine, Rhodes’ Journal of Banking and the Bankers’ Magazine Consolidated reported that Mary S. Bartlett, Pres., was appointed in place of J.M. Tyler of Bartlett and Tyler.
Mr. Bartlett served several terms as a regent of the New Mexico School of Mines and was a Socorro County Commissioner from 1901 through 1903. In 1904, Governor Otero reappointed him a member of the board of regents of the School of Mines.
He continued to contribute to the community. For example, he was a member of the committee appointed to look after the improvement of the Strawberry Peak road. He traveled with Prof. F. A. Jones locating the road. The road was made passable and the distance from Socorro to Magdalena was shortened by five miles.
In 1906 he took the Ranch Supply Company public and incorporated. He placed a contract for over 200,000 bricks to add greatly to the appearance of Magdalena.
In 1916 he erected one of the most modem business blocks in Magdalena, where numerous other business structures had previously been built by him.
In 1921 his businesses in Magdalena were listed as: proprietor of the Hotel Liberty, real estate, and notary. He was also proprietor of the Grand Lodge Mine.
In the words of Ralph Emerson Twitchell, “all in all (his interests) have contributed as much towards Socorro’s development as those of any other individual of his period.”
Hopefully it is apparent that the people that helped settle the west were not all cowboys and soldiers, lawmen and villains, but people with western values and heart. The business man as well as the common settler took risks, had trials and tribulations, and had the stamina and ambition to succeed. In many cases they did make their fortunes, but not by taking but by producing and giving as well.
Mr. Bartlett is buried in Socorro Cemetery, Socorro County, New Mexico.
- The Albuquerque Morning Journal., September 29, 1882,
- Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming and Arizona Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1884-5, Vol. I, Published by R. L. Polk & Co. and A. C. Danser
- Santa Fe daily New Mexican; volume 28, July 15, 1891, page 4
- SANTA FE Daily New Mexican,. JULY II. 1893. NO-1202- .
- Socorro Chieftain, March 1, 1902
- Report of the Governor of New Mexico to Secretary of Interior, 1903
- The Outlook, White Oaks, NM, Sept 22, 1904
- Socorro Chieftain 05 March 1904
- The Mercantile Adjuster and the Lawyer and Credit Man, Vol. XXIII, St. Louis, July 1908
- Representative New Mexicans, The National Newspaper Reference Book, 1912
- New Mexico State Business Directory 1921, The Gazetteer Publishing &Printing
- National Register of Historic Places; Vigil, Rufina House Jan 07 1991
- Socorro County Deeds, Bk. 45, p. 632-633
- New Mexico State Business Directory including El Paso, Texas, with Los Angeles and Foreign Classifications, 1921
- Rhodes Journal of Banking, Vol. XVIII, Number 7, July 1891, Page 738,
- The Banker’s Magazine, Rhodes’ Journal of Banking and the Bankers’ Magazine Consolidated; Vol 54; Bradford Rhodes & Co., Publishers, New York, 1897
- Santa Fe Daily, New Mexican; November 29, 1897
- Annual Rpt. State Corporation Commission, 01/16/1912 – 12/31/1912