Man began 15 papers in New Mexico towns

By Don McAlavy: Local columnist

Most old-timers and historians know about Arthur Curren being the father of Clovis newspapers in 1907. Not many know that Arthur’s father, James Edward Curren, established 15 newspapers in the territory of New Mexico, as well as others in Colorado and Texas.

Jim Curren was a man of quick wit, capable of vituperation and sarcasm as well as writing clever advertising and news articles.

He was a stickler for honest conduct and could tear the lid off chicanery and hypocrisy.

In 1881, he closed his Alpine, Colo. paper, True Fissure, a mining paper, and moved to a new railroad center at Deming in New Mexico.

There, he established the Deming Headlight. His son, Arthur, was the first Anglo child born in Deming. That was in 1882.

Jim printed his papers on an old Washington Hand Press.

When he sold the Deming paper, he went to Lake Valley in New Mexico, which promised to be a lively mining center. He started The Lake Valley New Era. He first had to dig trenches in anticipation of an attack from Apaches.

The women and children were assembled in a dugout and were provided with a keg of powder and fuse for use in case all the men were killed. This was in 1884.

Jim then moved to Hillsboro, N.M., where he started another paper, Sierra Advocate. A Cavalry troop was there to protect against the Apaches.

Then he moved, to Kingston, N.M., a good mining town, and published the Kingston Shaft in 1886-87. Before his printing office was completed he set his printing equipment under a large oak tree where the first issues of the Shaft were printed.
Then Jim went back to Colorado and published the Trinidad Republican and started the El Moro Monitor.

El Moro was only a short distance from Trinidad. A fire wiped out the little town, but Jim saved his equipment and moved to Folsom where he printed the Folsom Idea in 1888. He went from there to Clayton in northeast New Mexico and purchased the Clayton Enterprise.

At Clayton, cattle rustlers dogged Jim because of his attacks in the paper. One of them even tried to kill the editor.
Jim heard the Rock Island Railroad was to go through Tucumcari. He headed for that town and established the Tucumcari Pathfinder. Later he founded The Quay County Democrat.

Jim’s secret was probably that he followed the railroads and was
there when the towns began.

Jim went to Fort Sumner in 1899 and founded the Sunny Side Sun.

His son, Arthur, his able assistant, drew up a bill creating a new land office district at Fort Sumner and was appointed its first registrar.

Jim then founded and sold the Wildorado Progress and the Miami Chief, both located in Texas towns.

He discovered Melrose was going to be the division point on the Santa Fe-Belen cutoff. He moved there and started the Melrose Enterprise in 1906.

When the railroad was moved to Clovis, Arthur went there in 1907 and founded the Clovis News, the first paper in the city. In 1909, Jim Curren came to Clovis and founded The Curry County Democrat.
Jim Curren was called the fighting Irish editor and was a crusader who believed in exposing undercover matters that concerned the welfare of the public. He incurred the enmity of politicians and crooks who had devious schemes and questionable actions to hide.

His daughter, Anna, was an expert printer. His son Arthur provided the strong arm for the Washington Hand Press and was a good outside man, meaning he did the leg work in selling advertisements, paying bills and gathering news.
Born in 1855, Jim died in Clovis in 1915, where he had lived the longest in any one town — about six years.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:
dmcalavy@telescopelab.com