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Mary Catherine Prince, wife of LeBaron Bradford Prince, former Territorial Governor and former Chief Justice of New Mexico, for forty-four years was one of the most distinguished women of our state.

Born in Oswego, New York, on September 4, 1846, the daughter of Colonel Samuel Beardsley of the “Iron Brigade” and his wife Charlotte Elizabeth Burckle, granddaughter of Judge Levi Beardsley and a descendant of Miles Standish, began life in surroundings which enabled her to acquire an early interest in American History and an unusual command of the English language, which she manifested time and time again in articles she wrote for newspapers and addresses she delivered.

She was married to Governor Prince, a widower, November 17, 1881, and came to New Mexico as a bride to live in the then Governor’s Mansion, the famous Palace of the Governors.  Her own home was the old Sena Mansion, which she used as a semi-public museum for her private collection.

Mrs. Prince, with Governor Prince, manifested a keen interest in the New Mexico Historical Society, housed in the east wing of the old Palace of the Governors.  Much of the success of the New Mexico Historical Society is attributed to both Mary Catherine and the Governor for preserving the ancient and historic records of the Southwest.  As a dedicated member, she not only made many gifts to the Society, but also transcribed and translated some of the early Spanish archives.

On the 18th day of August, 1894 (four years after the formation of the NSDAR), Mrs. Adlai Stevenson, President General, appointed Mary Catherine State Regent of New Mexico, and she immediately sent application forms to Silver City, Albuquerque, and Roswell, as well as making large distributions in Santa Fe.  People were slow in understanding the real significance of the Society in the beginning; consequently she worked alone for nearly two years. By October 25, 1898, the first chapter was formed, and on February 22, 1900, the Sunshine Chapter received its charter. On January 25, 1905, the name was changed to that of the Stephen Watts Kearny Chapter.

On December 9, 1903, Mary Catherine suggested marking the old Santa Fe Trail, which she accomplished unaided by the Society.  Twenty-three markers were placed at a cost of over $700, six hundred of which was appropriated by the Legislature of New Mexico.  On August 21, 1911, the End of Trail marker was placed in the Santa Fe plaza.  The monumental stone is dated 1910, but for various reasons was not unveiled until 1911, on the day President Taft signed the bill which authorized New Mexico to take the necessary steps towards statehood.

Mary Catherine became a DAR member by right of descent from Lemuel Raymond, who was born in Massachusetts August 5, 1759, and died in Norwalk, Ohio, May 18, 1829. Lemuel Raymond was a soldier in the Massachusetts Militia and served with the Massachusetts troops in the battles of Half Moon, New York, and Bennington, Vermont, where he was wounded and disabled from further service.

Mary Catherine had one son and four grandchildren.  Her children were all born in Santa Fe.  Mary Catherine passed away on December 27, 1925.

On November 13, 2010, a New Mexico delegation met in Flushing, NY, at the Flushing Cemetery to dedicate a new headstone for Mary Catherine Prince. Members from the Manhattan Chapter, New York, also came to the dedication.

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Last update October 4, 2016

Photos by Zadeea Harris