French, New Mexico is a former settlement named for Capt. William French, who came to the US from French Park, Ireland, in 1883. He settled first in Grant County, then moved to Colfax County, where he became a prominent land-owner.
French was the author of Recollections of a Western Ranchland, 1883-1889. He organized the French Tract, a group of farms with French as its center, but litigation over water rights doomed the enterprise.
The community of French was withered and died from the lack of irrigation, competition with nearby Springer and Maxwell, and the decline of railroad transportation. French never topped more than 250 residents. Captain French eventually moved to England, where he died. Today the community of French survives only as RR siding.
George Barrett and his wife Lydia Halstead Barrett were among the 250 farming residents. My great-grandmother, Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen, remembers that her grandfather’s farm was located outside of the small town of French. The tiny town of French was not too far away from Springer.
George Barrett died in 1923 in Miami, New Mexico after the French Tract settlement failed. Miami not shown on the map below is about 10 miles west of Springer.
Interested in learning more? Read Eleanor Van Dusen Bowen’s My Life’s Story.
Thank you for reading.
J. R. Findsen