Bursum, Holm Olaf, 1867-1953

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1867-02-10
Death 1953-08-07
English, Spanish; Castilian

Biographical notes:

Holm O. Bursum was a politician, sheep rancher and warden of the New Mexico State Penitentiary. Born in Iowa in 1867, Bursum moved to New Mexico in 1881. While living in Socorro County, he became a prominent cattle and sheep rancher. Brusum began his political career when he was elected Sheriff of Socorro County, serving from 1894-1898. He was Republican Floor Leader at the New Mexico Constitutional Convention in 1910. While serving as U.S. Senator he failed to pass federal legislation which would have reduced the size of Pueblo landholdings in New Mexico. Brusum died in Colorado Springs, Colo., 1953

From the guide to the Holm O. Bursum Photograph Collection, 1902-1925, (Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico.)

Holm O. Bursum (1869-1953) was a successful politician, businessman, and rancher who lived in Socorro, New Mexico. Bursum became an important public figure in New Mexico and served as a United States Senator from 1921-1925.

From the description of Holm Bursum papers, 1867-1965. (New Mexico State University). WorldCat record id: 56772889

Politician, sheep rancher and warden of the New Mexico State Penitentiary. Born in Iowa in 1867, moved to New Mexico in 1881. While living in Socorro County became a prominent cattle and sheep rancher. Began his political career when he was elected Sheriff of Socorro County, serving from 1894-1898. He was Republican Floor Leader at the New Mexico Constitutional Convention in 1910. While serving as U.S. Senator he failed to pass federal legislation which would have reduced the size of Pueblo landholdings in New Mexico. Died in Colorado Springs, Colo., 1953.

From the description of Papers, 1873-1936. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 38418934

Holm Olaf Bursum was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa on February 10, 1867. Orphaned at the age of twelve, Bursum found employment in Denver and in 1882 moved to San Antonio, New Mexico, about ten miles from Socorro, where he worked as a clerk in a store for his uncle, A.H. Hilton, the father of hotel mogul Conrad Hilton. He attended night school in San Antonio, and an avid reader, became one of the best informed men in public life in the Southwest. Soon Bursum went into business for himself, hauling supplies to Fort Wingate which was at the time, an active military post. Later he became a subcontractor for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, which was being completed from Albuquerque to the west coast. The earnings from this endeavor provided a financial foundation upon which he built his large sheep and cattle business in the New Mexico Territory.

Bursum was active in territorial politics. He served as Sheriff of Socorro County from 1894-1898. From 1899-1900, Bursum served as a member of the Territorial Senate and was chairman of the Appropriations and Finance Committee. In 1899, he was also appointed as the Superintendent of the New Mexico State Penitentiary where he worked for seven years. In 1906, he became the Mayor of Socorro and worked for passage of a law that allowed the city to grant deeds to persons who established ownership to their property. Bursum was also chairman of the Republican Territorial Central Committee from 1905-1911 and represented New Mexico at the Republican National Conventions in 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1928. As a delegate to the 1908 convention, Bursum was largely responsible for the Republican plank advocating statehood for New Mexico. In 1910, Bursum became a delegate of the New Mexico Constitutional Convention helping frame the first state constitution. Bursum ran for the office of governor of New Mexico in 1911 and 1916 but was defeated both times. In 1919, he became a member of the Republican National Committee and served for two years. A fluent and compelling speaker in both Spanish and English, and an effective campaigner, Bursum was one of the most influential members of the Republican Party during the later Territorial days.

In 1921, Bursum was appointed to fill the United States Senate seat of Albert Fall who had become the Secretary of the Interior for the Harding administration. He took his seat April 11, 1921 and served until 1925, losing a bid for re-election in 1924. As a Senator, Bursum headed the Senate Committee on Pensions and was an advocate for the equitable treatment of disabled military personnel, servicemen, and war widows. The 1924 edition of the Congressional Directory lists him as a member of the Pension Committee; the Irrigation and Reclamation Committee; the Military Affairs Committee; the Privileges and Elections Committee; and the Public Lands and Survey Committee. In the Senate, Bursum introduced many bills. He supported legislation for high tariffs as well as financial relief for the agricultural and livestock industries. His efforts with the War Finance Corporation during 1921-1922 brought several million dollars to stockmen in New Mexico. Bursum was opposed to the League of Nations, the Permanent Court of International Justice, and the Versailles Treaty because he wanted to avoid international entanglements. However, Bursum argued for the immediate recognition of the government of Obregon in Mexico after the Mexican Revolution and played a part in the negotiations between the two countries. His most controversial legislation was a failed attempt to pass a bill that would have reduced the size of Pueblo Indian land holdings in New Mexico by giving some disputed lands to non-Indian claimants, and by establishing permanent boundaries between Indian and non-Indian lands. Throughout his political career, Bursum proved to be a masterful politician utilizing his influence to impact public policy.

In addition to his public service, Bursum was always involved in the livestock industry, owning and running his own successful sheep and cattle ranches near Socorro, New Mexico. He was an organizer and executive board member of the New Mexico Wool Growers Association and worked towards the development of the industry. After fifty years as a stockman he retired and left the Bursum Company ranch to his son, Holm O. Bursum Jr. Other business interests include mining, the Rio Grande Supply Company, and the Anglo-Mexican Development Corporation.

Holm Olaf Bursum married Lulu M. Moore on August 3, 1898, in Silver City, New Mexico. She was the daughter of a ranch family from Grant County. Mrs. Bursum worked in the family businesses and also served on the Board of Regents at the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts from 1935-1940. The Bursums' had four children including Holm Otto Bursum, Ruth Mildred Bursum Harban, Claire Bursum Pippen, and Betty Kathryn Bursum Taylor. The family home was located in Socorro. Mr. Bursum also served on the Executive Board of the Presbyterian Church of Socorro for many years and as a Master Mason with a lifetime membership in Socorro lodge. Mr. Bursum died in Colorado Springs, Colorado on August 7, 1953 at the age of eighty-six.

References Davis, Ellis Arthur, ed. Historical Encyclopedia of New Mexico, Volume I. Albuquerque: New Mexico Historical Association, 1945. Fernlund, Kevin J. "Senator Holm O. Bursum and the Mexican Ring, 1921- 1924." New Mexico Historical Review(October, 1991.) 433- 453. Lamar, Howard R., ed. Reader's Encyclopedia of the American West. New York: Harper and Row, 1977. Moorman, Donald. "Political Biography of Holm Bursum, 1899- 1924." Ph.D. diss., University of New Mexico, 1962. New Mexico Stockman. "In Memoriam." (August, 1953.) 110.

From the guide to the Holm O. Bursum Papers, 1867-1965, (New Mexico State University. Archives and Special Collections Department.)

Holm O. Bursum from a pamphlet for the National Council of Traveling Salesmen Association. (Box 8, Folder 8).

Holm O. Bursum was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa on February 10, 1867. Bursum moved to New Mexico in 1881, two years after becoming an orphan. His first home in New Mexico was in Raton where he got a job working in a drug store. In 1882, he went to San Antonio, New Mexico, where he found a job working for his uncle, A. H. Hilton, father of hotelman Conrad Hilton. Seven years later, Bursum went into business for himself, hauling supplies for the U. S. Government from Wingate to Fort Wingate, and acting as railroad agent at Wingate. With the arrival of the railroad in the area, Bursum sold his freighting outfit for 1200 sheep, which he parlayed into a profit and then invested in two ranches. Bursum became a very prominent cattle and sheep rancher in New Mexico, owning "many thousands of acres" near Socorro. He was a member of the New Mexico Wool Growers Association.

Bursum began his political career when he was elected Sheriff of Socorro County, serving from 1894-1898. He was a member of the Territorial Senate in 1899 and 1900 and served as head of the Appropriations and Finance Committee. In 1899, he was appointed warden of the New Mexico State Penitentiary, a post that he held for seven years. Bursum was mayor of Socorro from 1906-1918. He was very active in the Republican party as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1928; he served as Chairman of the Republican Territorial Central Committee from 1905-1911. As delegate to the 1908 convention, Bursum was largely responsible for the Republican plank advocating statehood for New Mexico. He was Republican Floor Leader at the New Mexico Constitutional Convention in 1910. In 1919 he was made a member of the Republican National Committee representing New Mexico, and was reelected to the same position the following year.

In 1911 and 1916, Bursum lost elections for governor. In 1921, he was appointed to fill the seat vacated when Albert B. Fall resigned from the U.S. Senate. Later that same year, Bursum was elected for a full term. He was active as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Pensions. He unsuccessfully attempted to pass federal legislation which would have reduced the size of Pueblo landholdings in New Mexico by awarding disputed lands to non-Indian claimants.

When he retired in 1925, he devoted much of his time to supervising operations at his ranch. Holm O. Bursum died in Colorado Springs, CO on August 7, 1953.

From the guide to the Holm O. Bursum Papers, 1873-1936, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)

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Subjects:

  • Pueblo Indians
  • Prison wardens--New Mexico
  • Inventions
  • Prison wardens
  • Pueblo Indians--New Mexico
  • Iron mines and mining--Missouri
  • Ranch life
  • Political Campaigns
  • Letters
  • Legislation--New Mexico
  • New Mexico--Politics and government--1848-1950--Sources
  • Financial records
  • Politicians--New Mexico
  • Ranch life--New Mexico--Socorro County
  • Microfilm
  • Ranching--History--Sources
  • Maps
  • Transportation--Vehicles
  • United States--Politics and government--1921-1923--Sources
  • United States--Politics and government--1923-1929--Sources
  • Ranching--New Mexico--Socorro County (N.M.)--History--Sources
  • Water pumps
  • Political campaigns--New Mexico
  • Legislation
  • Politicians
  • New Mexico--Politics and government
  • Pueblo Indians--Land tenure
  • Irrigation
  • Electioneering--New Mexico
  • Legislation--United States

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • New Mexico--Socorro County (as recorded)
  • Washington (D.C.) (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)
  • Socorro County (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • Socorro County (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Socorro County (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)
  • Nogales (Ariz.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)