Miguel's Top Matches
About Miguel Antonio Otero, Jr.
Miguel Antonio Otero (October 17, 1859–August 7, 1944), nicknamed "Gillie," was governor of New Mexico Territory from 1897 to 1906 and in later life the author of several books on Western lore. He was the son of Miguel Antonio Otero, a prominent businessman and New Mexico politician.
While working as a banker, land broker, and livestock broker in Las Vegas, Otero began his career in politics. In a few short years, he served as city clerk, probate clerk, county clerk, and recorder, and district court clerk. In 1892 he served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention and met Ohio Senator William McKinley. When McKinley was elected President in 1896, he appointed Otero governor of the Territory of New Mexico. Given Otero's youth (37 years), his meager statewide experience, and his lack of support from either political party, the appointment was somewhat of a surprise. The Otero name was well-known in New Mexico, however, and initially he was supported by a wide range of constituencies.
As New Mexico moved towards statehood, Otero survived struggles against a variety of political factions in his own party. After McKinley's assassination, he survived a particularly brutal battle with Thomas B. Catron to earn reappointment by President Theodore Roosevelt. The infighting eventually took its toll, and in 1906, Roosevelt replaced Otero after more than eight years in the governor's mansion.
At 46, Otero was still a young man when he left office. He returned to banking and mining interests for a while, then served as state treasurer from 1909 to 1911. Otero attempted a comeback as governor in 1912, but failing to receive the Republican nomination, bolted for the Progressive Party. Eventually he moved to the Democratic Party and became a supporter of Woodrow Wilson. In later years he received numerous other commissions, including four years (1917 to 1921) as marshal of the Panama Canal.
In 1936, Otero published The Real Billy the Kid; With New Light on the Lincoln County War. After William Bonney was jailed in Las Vegas in 1880, Otero and his brother Page rode with the prisoner as he was transported by train from Las Vegas to Santa Fe. Remaining in Santa Fe for a while, the pair visited the Kid in jail many times, bringing him tobacco, gum, and sweets, and generally finding him a sympathetic, if misguided, figure. Written some fifty years after Pat Garrett's original account, Otero's was the first book to present Billy the Kid in a relatively positive light. The book was edited some say ghost written by Marshall Latham Bond whose father Hiram Bond was involved in trading with the Otero family out of Denver after 1872 and who owned a hundred square mile ranch in the area during the Lincoln County War.
Sandwiched around this book, Otero authored a three-part autobiography. The first installment, My Life on the Frontier, 1864-1882, was published in 1935 and covered the adventures of his youth through age 23, when his father died suddenly. My Life on the Frontier, 1882-1897 dealt with his early career in public service. My Nine Years as Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, 1897-1906 chronicles the turmoils of New Mexico on the verge of statehood.
The first book of the memoir is especially captivating, as Otero recalls several encounters with Western icons such as Kit Carson, Wild Bill Hickok, Gen. George Armstrong Custer, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, and Jesse James.