HEADLESS IN TAOS
The Dark Fated Tale of Arthur Rockford Manby
Arthur Rockford Manby was a driven man with the overwhelmingly ambitious dream of becoming a land baron, a vision he pursued for over thirty years. Arriving in Raton, New Mexico in 1883 from England, the twenty-three-year-old became exposed to the massive 1,714,764.94-acre Maxwell Land Grant of Colfax County which whet his appetite. It was the largest real estate swindle in the history of the southwest of 2,680 square miles, and at the time still being fought for in the courts. The grant company, with the corrupt political, legal and financial tactics of the Santa Fe Ring behind it, set the style for him, and in a small way he somewhat echoed their stratagem down the years.
After over three dogged decades of tenacious and persevering struggle, he finally won his place in the blazing sun of Midasean success with the ownership of the Martinez Grant of Taos, New Mexico. It encompassed nearly 100-square miles of acreage. Although minuscule when compared to the Maxwell, he felt he had arrived.
But alas, his victory was brief and crushing. As the old maxim describes, "Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad." In his case the deities worked in reverse. After only three years in his possession, the grant slipped from his grasp. Then, a deeper and more tragic fate arrived to dog him inescapably, and the remaining years of his life was turned into a living hell.
óJames S. Peters