February is Black History Month. At Historic Fairview Cemetery, there are a number of African Americans who made an impact in Albuquerque and New Mexico. Come and learn about these notable people who lived and died in Albuquerque. Thanks to Susan Schwartz, Lori Mann, Roseann Maul, and Pam Stiebler-Wendt for researching and writing these histories.


Thornton Taylor headstone Black History Month

Thornton Taylor headstone

THORTON TAYLOR was born May 4, 1896 in Tallulah, Louisiana. He entered the Army at Jackson Barracks, Louisiana on April 24, 1917. Taylor served in the Army for 30 years serving during both World Wars. He retired as a chief warrant officer. He lived in Fort Riley, Kansas and Fort Clark, Texas before moving to Albuquerque.

Thorton Taylor was one of 46 African-American Veterans that organized Albuquerque’s first African American Legion Post. This post, named William Mason Post #95, was founded in 1947. The post name honors heroes of both World Wars, especially the younger heroes of the wars. D.T. Mason from Albuquerque was killed in World War II and his name was selected to represent the younger heroes. Taylor also became the first post commander.

The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization. The American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemen and veterans.

Taylor lived in Albuquerque for 23 years. Not only was he the Post Commander for the American Legion Post #95, he was a member of the Masonic Lodge and a member of the Baptist church.

Thornton Taylor had been ill for 10 years. He died May 25, 1953 at the age of 57 in 1953. He was survived by his wife Margaret, a stepson, Captain Lynwood Young, Commander of C Battery in the 351st Field Artillery in Germany, three brothers and one sister. He is buried in the American Legion 2 section of Historic Fairview Cemetery.

TABYTHA WATSON (1857-1918)

Tabytha Watson Black History Month

Tabytha Watson (Courtesy Mount Olive Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Tabytha Watson moved to Albuquerque in early 1898 from Gainesville, Texas. She was a widow, with a son, Green, and daughter Anna. Finding no Baptist church, Mrs. Watson began conducting Sunday school and prayer meetings in her home, which was located on Fourth and Copper Avenue.

The following year, Mount Olive Baptist Church was organized. With help from Reverend Gladden from Colorado, the members raised $135 to purchase a lot at 510 West Lead Avenue. They built a white frame hall at the back of the lot where services were then held. Additional funds were raised and by 1909 they were able to erect a brick building on the front of the lot. By 1934, the church purchased a lot at 508 West Lead Avenue, where the parsonage was built and a house at 512, which provided Sunday school rooms, rest rooms, kitchen and a dining area.

These properties were sold in 1970 and Mt. Olive purchased a lot at 2401 University Boulevard S.E. The first building, the Ralph Bunche Cultural Center, was completed the same year. The present sanctuary was dedicated on February 17, 1977. Mount Olive Baptist Church had a humble beginning in Mrs. Watson’s home and has been a vital part of our community for over 120 years.

She is buried in Historic Fairview Cemetery in Section 17B, ST-West, Grave 13.

Dr. JAMES DENNIS (1870-1934)

James I. Dennis was Albuquerque’s first African American physician and surgeon. He was born in Princeton, Maryland, on November 4, 1870, to George and Anne Davis. He graduated with a medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following graduation, he lived in Mexico and Pueblo, Colorado, before settling in Albuquerque. He married Laura E. Greene (1882-1932).

Dr. Dennis practiced medicine from 1912 to 1924 at his office on 215 ½ West Gold Street in Albuquerque. He was one of the organizers of the NAACP in Albuquerque. It was started in 1913, four years after the national organization was established in 1909.

In 1918, Dr. Dennis homesteaded 640 acres under the 1892, 1909 and 1916 Homestead Acts. The land was where Hoffmantown is today and east to the mountains. The land was lost after his death.

He was President and Manager of the Southwest Review, a black newspaper that published local, state and national news in 1921. In November 1926, Dr. Dennis was appointed treasurer of the People’s Sanatorium, which was an institution founded primarily to treat Albuquerque’s African American population. The sanatorium was located on the corner of Smith and High Street in Albuquerque.

Dr. Dennis died of pneumonia on December 23, 1934, following a surgical procedure. He is buried in Historic Fairview Cemetery, Section 9B, Row 29-West, Grave 47. His wife Laura is buried nearby in Section 9B, Row 28-West, Grave 31.

Author: Lori Mann
Researcher: Susan Drake Schwartz
Editors: Mo Palmer, Susan Drake Schwartz


Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Stanton

Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Stanton

Fourteen Buffalo Soldiers are buried at Historic Fairview Cemetery. In 2023, the cemetery featured the Buffalo Soldiers and their history in a salute to them on National Buffalo Soldier Day, July 28th. The New Mexico Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club did much research on each Buffalo Soldier and produced QR codes with information on the life of individual soldiers.

There were Colored Infantry regiments during the Civil War. Two men buried at Historic Fairview Cemetery, Henry Winstead and James Price, were both members of these Colored Infantry groups. The Colored Infantry units of the Civil War were decommissioned at the end of the Civil War.

A year after the Civil War, four Colored Regiments were formed to help settle the West. These four regiments were the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry. These were the four regiments that were called the “Buffalo Soldiers.”

These men were former slaves from the South and East. The mission of these four Colored Regiments was to help settle the West. They were stationed at many of the forts in New Mexico such as Fort Union, Fort Bayard, and Fort Craig. When these men retired from the Army, many of them moved to Albuquerque.

The Board of Historic Fairview Cemetery has placed plaques at the grave of each Buffalo Soldier to honor their memory and their importance in the settling of the West. The QR code produced by the Motorcycle club are affixed to the plaques.

You will notice on the plaques the Buffalo Soldiers who belonged to the 9th or 10th Cavalry have crossed swords above their unit designation. The crossed swords designate a Cavalry unit. The Infantry (24th and 25th) Buffalo Soldiers have the crossed rifles above their unit designation. The crossed rifles designate an infantry unit.

Research on the individual Buffalo Soldiers was proved by Roseann Maul of the DAR and the New Mexico Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club.

During Black History Month, come to Historic Fairview Cemetery and learn more about the stories that live on in this Albuquerque outdoor history museum.