Anonymous package brings historic photos, documents back to Belen

New Mexico News

BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Belen wants to know who sent an anonymous package full of memories to city hall. The package came from Canada but had no name on it. Inside the package, ended up being nearly 100 photographs and documents from the early 1900s in Belen.

“I was amazed. I love Belen history, absolutely love it,” Jerah Cordova, Mayor of Belen, said. “For year’s we’ve had the Belen Harvey House Museum here in town and we work day in and day out to archive Belen history and tell the story of our city there. And I thought it was going to make just the perfect addition to our archive. The photographs are fantastic.”

The package also came with a note saying all the items now belong to the city. Most of the photos and documents are of one of the oldest families from the area, the Gilbert family. “The history that’s involved in these photographs, and there’s a good number of them. And some of these documents which include property deeds, and land purchase information, receipts from First National Bank of Belen, those sorts of things.”

In addition to documents from the bank, there are photos of Gilbert’s grocery and meat store. Local historians said the meat store was likely at, what is now the intersection of Gilbert Street and Main Street in Belen. The package also included items from the University of New Mexico, Socorro High School, and Belen Schools. One item that stuck out to the Mayor was a Belen Schools document from 1912, which gave instructions to parents.

“One of the things that was just so fascinating about it was, as I was reading through it, there was a page that describes for parents how to be good parents and how to make sure that their kids are doing their homework, and that the kids aren’t tardy to class or skipping school, and just all of these rules and instructions to parents back in 1912,” he said. “Of course, here we are a century later and people are still dealing with those same issues. Things haven’t changed that much.”

The city didn’t expect to hear from relatives of the Gilbert family but did hear from one family member after posting about the discovery on the city’s Facebook page. “She was beyond ecstatic to know that this information and photographs were back in Belen and back in New Mexico. And something that we’re going to be able to hold on to as a town and certainly for her family into the future,” Mayor Cordova said.

He said the family member is looking over all the items. The city then plans to digitize them and archive them at Belen’s Harvey House Museum. He said people can expect to start seeing some of the materials released online in the coming months. As for the anonymous sender, the Mayor has one message for them.

“Thank You. Thank you so much to whoever sent this to us. We love our history so much that anytime anybody out there has information, has photos, or documents that relate to Belen, we would love to have them. Send them to City Hall. We will accept them, we will archive them and make sure that they are protected,” Mayor Cordova said.

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