The Reunion of the Constitutional Convention of 1910
By Rick Hendricks, State Historian
On 26 October 1945, the chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, Thomas Jewett Mabry, announced plans for a reunion of members and employees of the 1910 state constitutional convention to be held in Santa Fe on 24 November, thirty-five years after the adjournment of the historic meeting.1 Delegates, newspaper reporters who covered the convention, and family members of deceased members were invited to meet in the hall of representatives in the state capitol building for a one-day program. A committee of former delegates living in Santa Fe arranged the reunion. In addition to Mabry, the committee included Reed Holloman, Reuben Heflin, and José D. Serna. At age twenty-five, Mabry, who was one of two representatives from Curry County, had been the youngest delegate to the constitutional convention in 1910.2
By late October Mabry had identified twenty living delegates of the hundred who gathered in Santa Fe between 3 October and 21 November 1910 to write the state constitution.3 They were Isidoro Armijo, Albuquerque; Justice Charles R. Brice, Roswell; Fred S. Brown, Pampa, Texas; former Senator H. O. Bursum, Socorro; C. C. Davidson, Tucumcari; Winifred E. Garrison, Las Cruces; James H. Hall, Clovis; former Justice J. A. H. Hudspeth, Carrizozo; District Judge J. L. .Lawson, Alamogordo; George E. Moffett, Alamogordo; W. D. Murray, Silver City; Emmett Patton, Roswell; Herbert F. Raynolds, California; Edward D. Tittman, Hillsboro; Francis E. Wood, Albuquerque; and the Santa Fe members. There was also an indefinite number of employees known to be living in the state, all of whom were invited. All the reporters who covered the convention were expected: H. B. Hening of the Albuquerque Journal, Don Rock of Silver City, A. I. Waters of Santa Fe, and C. S. Peterson of Santa Fe. The reunion was to be held in the same hall where the convention met because Mabry thought that it would be appropriate to hold it in the same setting before the statehouse was remodeled. The elegant draft of the constitution would be on display, and furniture and decorations would be arranged as they were in 1910. Convention employees were to be seated at the employees’ places, and the reporters were to be placed at the press table.
By mid-November the planners of the convention reunion had located more living delegates.4 A notice in the newspaper indicated that three men thought to be deceased had been discovered living in Northern New Mexico. They were Salomé Martínez, eighty-five, of Pintado in Guadalupe County; Onésimo Martínez, eighty-eight, of Arroyo Hondo in Taos County; and E. M. Lucero of Chacón in Mora County. The additional members brought the number of surviving delegates to twenty-three out a hundred.
Onésimo Martínez added a humorous
note to the process of locating former delegates when
he responded to an invitation addressed “To
a member of the family of Onésimo Martínez,
deceased.” The planning committee invited his
family to send a member to the reunion, but Martínez
himself replied, asking whether it was all right if
he attended instead of a representative of his family.
Most of the members and others asked to attend the
reunion responded. Dr. Winifred E. Garrison wrote
from Chicago to say that he was attempting to arrange
a flight to New Mexico. Garrison, who was president
of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic
Arts in 1910, had attended as a representative from
Doña Ana County. By 1945 he had been retired
for two years as a member of the faculty of the University
Former governors were invited to attend the reunion. George Curry of Sierra County, a former territorial governor and newly appointed state historian, was in charge of asking former governors to participate in the gathering. President Theodore Roosevelt had appointed Curry, a former Rough Rider, to be territorial governor in 1907, a position he held until 1909.
On Saturday, 24 November 1945, six former state governors, one territorial governor, and fourteen of the twenty-four surviving members of the 1910 Constitutional Convention met in Santa Fe. Present were José D. Sena of Santa Fe, Salomé Martínez of Pintado, Francis E. Wood of Albuquerque, Reed Holloman of Santa Fe, C. C. Davidson of Tucumcari, Victor Ortega of Santa Fe, Justice Charles R. Brice of Roswell, R. W. Heflin of Santa Fe, A. H. Hudspeth of Carrizozo, Dr. W. E. Garrison of Chicago, Chief Justice Thomas J. Mabry of Santa Fe, Edward D. Tittman of Hillsboro, James A. Hall of Clovis, and Isidoro Armijo of Albuquerque.5 Among the state governors in attendance were Merritt Mechem (1921-23), Arthur Thomas Hannett (1925-27), and Mayor Clyde Tingley of Albuquerque (1935-39).6
The former delegates registered at the House of Representatives at beginning at 9:30 in the morning. Among the first to arrive was Mrs. M. V. Portwood of Deming, a former member of the House of Representatives and the daughter of the late delegate, J. M. Upton. The reunion was called to order at 10:00. Desks bore the names of the hundred delegates who met for sixty days in 1910. Either the delegates or the representative from their families answered the roll of the members of the convention. The general public was able to attend the 10:00 session in the House.
As Mabry called the roll, the member or relatives responded. The delegates offered short speeches. One recounted the story of the opening of the convention. When the priest who had been invited began to offer the opening prayer, Señor Pedragón, the interpreter, began to translate the prayer into Spanish. Tom Catron interrupted him in a loud whisper saying, "Shut up, you fool; the Great God Almighty understands the English language."7
Although the early favorite was apparently former United States Senator Holm O Bursum, the delegates elected Chief Justice Mabry permanent chairman.8 It was decided that owing to the age and health of some of the delegates, they would not to meet again. Having concluded their business, the delegates adjourned to their homes.
The out-of-town delegates and a representative from each family of deceased members were the guests of the Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon beginning at 12:30 at La Fonda, which concluded the day’s program.
1 “State Constitutional Convention Will Hold a Reunion,” Clovis News-Journal, 26 October 1945.
2 Mabry, a Democrat, held numerous political and judicial posts in his long career. He served in the New Mexico Senate (1912–17), on the Albuquerque City Commission (1926–27), as Albuquerque District Attorney (1932–36); and as a state district judge (1937–39). He became Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court in 1939 and held that position until he resigned in 1946 to run for governor. He was elected governor in 1946 and was reelected in 1948, serving until the completion of his second term in 1951. Santa Fe New Mexican, 27 October 1945; http://www.nga.org/cms/home/governors/past-governors-bios/page_new_mexico/col2-content/main-content-list/title_mabry_thomas.html (accessed 13 December 2011).
3 “State Constitutional Convention Will Hold a Reunion.”
4 "More Survivors of Constitutional Convention Found," Santa Fe New Mexican, 17 November 1945.
5 "14 Members of the State Constitutional Convention in Reunion," Clovis News-Journal, 25 November 1945.
6 "Delegates Arrive for Reunion of Constitutional Convention," Santa Fe New Mexican, 23 November 1945.
7 The story, which first appeared in the Santa Fe newspaper, is repeated in Cleofas Jaramillo, Romance of a Little Village Girl (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000), 184-85; Santa Fe New Mexican, 26 November 1945.
8 "Delegates Arrive for Reunion of Constitutional Convention;" "14 Members of the State Constitutional Convention in Reunion."
Photo: "Surviving delegates of the 1910 Constitutional Convention in the House of Representatives." New Mexico Department of Tourism Photograph Collection, Image No. 002646. Courtesy of the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives.
Commission of Public Records-State Records Center and Archives