New Mexico’s Cultural Influences

The Mormon Battalion monument off Interstate 25 at the Budaghers exit.

Heading down to Albuquerque from Santa Fe take the Budaghers Exit to find the Mormon Battalion monument. The Mormons’ first arrival in Santa Fe was during the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848. To date, the battalion is the only religion-based unit in the military history of the United States. The Mormon Battalion was part of Brigadier Gen. Stephen Kearny’s army. The soldiers sough refuge for their families as they headed to Utah.

Budaghers Exit

The Budaghers off-ramp is named for the Lebanese entrepreneur John Budaghers. He came to New Mexico with his brothers at the turn of the 20th century. The family built a gas station and tavern at the halfway point between between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Like the Budaghers, several Lebanese families made their way to New Mexico during that era. Some of the more well known names include: Maloof, Bellamah and Adelo. The Maloof family originally established themselves in the Las Vegas, N.M. Eventually they branched out to other areas of the state. Later they expanded their various enterprises nationally. The Maloofs once owned the Sacramento Kings, an NBA franchise. Another Lebansese businessman that made his mark on New Mexico was Abdul Hamid Bellamah, whose Dale Bellamah housing subdivisions permeate Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

Northern New Mexico’s Lebanese Influence

Other Lebanese families have also established themselves successfully in business and other professions across northern New Mexico. In Santa Fe such family names include Fidel, Shaya, Greer, Michael, Koury, Anton, Younis and Francis. The Sahd family made a name for themselves in Taos and Peñasco. The Hanosh worked in Las Vegas and Merhege had a major presense in the Española area. The Adelo family has been in the Pecos for a century. Abdallah Samuel Adelo settled there in the 1900’s and opened the Adelo General Store. The patriarch’s grandson, Pancho Adelo, still operates a store and gas station in Pecos, N.M.

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