Albert Jennings Fountain

A Historical Introduction

Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain was a true renaissance man who lived in the wild west:

he was a graduate of Columbia College in New York; A Union solder; an Indian fighter in the New Mexico Volunteers; a mercenary soldier and colonel in the Mexican army; a U.S. Property Commissioner; a U.S. Customs Collector and a collector for the Internal Revenue Service; a state senator and speaker pro-tempore in the Texas legislature; a lieutenant governor of Texas (ex-officio); a Mesilla lawyer who was, at one time, appointed by the court to be the attorney for Billy the Kid. Fountain was elected to the New Mexico Territorial Legislature; he was also a probate judge and deputy court clerk, assisted with the formation of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now New Mexico State University), a journalist who founded the Mesilla Valley Independent newspaper (printed in Spanish & English), and founder of the original Fountain Theatre company in Mesilla.

In the last years of Fountain's life, he acquired numerous political enemies as the Doña Ana County District Attorney. It was during this time that Fountain successfully prosecuted land-fraud cases and arrested and tried cattle rustlers as he worked to bring an end to lawlessness in the southern most part of the New Mexico Territory, thus helping move New Mexico closer to statehood.