Charles Ilfeld Company

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Charles Ilfeld, born in Homburg, Germany in 1847, arrived in Santa Fe, N.M. in 1865. After working as a clerk for the mercantile business of Elsberg and Amberg he relocated to Taos to work for Adolph Letcher. In 1867 the Adolph Letcher and Company moved to Las Vegas, N.M., where Charles became a partner in the firm. Seven years later, Letcher sold his interest to Ilfeld, who changed the name of the business to Charles Ilfeld Company. Ilfeld's business eventually grew into the largest mercantile firm in New Mexico. Max Nordhaus, Ilfeld's brother-in-law, joined the company in 1886. His expertise in finance led the company to expand, opening branch stores around the territory. Shifting focus from retail to wholesale distribution, the company closed most of its retail stores in 1907. The business operated until 1961, when increasing competition forced the decision to sell off assets. A new company was formed at that time dealing solely in hardware. In 1970 the Charles Ilfeld Hardware Company was liquidated.

From the description of Records, 1865-1929. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 40966517

Charles Ilfeld, born in Hamburg, Germany in 1847, arrived in Santa Fe, N.M. in 1865. After working as a clerk for the mercantile business of Elsberg and Amberg he relocated to Taos to work for Adolph Letcher. In 1867 the Adolph Letcher and Company moved to Las Vegas, N.M., where Charles became a partner in the firm. Seven years later, Letcher sold his interest to Ilfeld, who changed the name of the business to Charles Ilfeld Company. Ilfeld's business eventually grew into the largest mercantile firm in New Mexico. Max Nordhaus, Ilfeld's brother-in-law, joined the company in 1886. His expertise in finance led the company to expand, opening branch stores around the territory. Shifting focus from retail to wholesale distribution, the company closed most of its retail stores in 1907. The business operated until 1961, when increasing competition forced the decision to sell off assets. A new company was formed at that time dealing solely in hardware. In 1970 the Charles Ilfeld Hardware Company was liquidated

From the guide to the Charles Ilfeld Company Photograph Collection, 1900-1910, (Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico.)

Portrait of the Ilfeld Family. Part of the Charles Ilfeld Company Pictorial Collection, PICT 000-091-0001 SC (Box 2, Folder 1).

Charles Ilfeld, born in Homburg, Germany in 1847, arrived in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1865. There he joined the mercantile business of Elsberg and Amberg as a clerk. A few months later, he relocated to Taos to work for Adolph Letcher in his business as a trader and agent, primarily for Elsberg and Amberg. By 1867 Taos was no longer a viable trade center and A. Letcher and Company moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico, where Charles Ilfeld became a partner in the firm. Seven years later, Letcher sold his interest to Ilfeld, who changed the name of the business to Charles Ilfeld Company.

Ilfeld's business eventually grew into the largest mercantile firm in New Mexico, with sales of $25,000,000 at its peak in 1952. Max Nordhaus, Ilfeld's brother-in-law, joined the company in 1886. His expertise in finance led the company to expand, opening branch stores around the territory. Shifting focus from retail to wholesale distribution, the company closed most of its retail stores in 1907. The wholesale business capitalized on the railways to buy and sell goods. For instance, wool was purchased from New Mexico ranchers and sold in eastern markets, where manufactured goods were bought for distribution back in New Mexico. "Wholesalers of everything" became the company motto. Branches were established and warehouses built along railroad lines in Santa Rosa, Albuquerque, Magdalena, and Gallup. Nordhaus became company president in 1929 upon the death of Charles Ilfeld. The business operated until 1961, when increasing competition forced the decision to sell off assets. A new company was formed at that time dealing solely in hardware. In 1970 the Charles Ilfeld Hardware Company was liquidated, ending a century of Ilfeld merchandizing in New Mexico.

From the guide to the Charles Ilfeld Company Records, 1865-1929, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Smith Mercantile Company (Santa Rosa, N.M.). Records, 1901-1948, (bulk 1901-1904, 1946-1948). University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Contreras family. Papers, 1820-1944. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Huntington Free Library. Catalogs and advertisements for Indian traders [ca.1900]. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Contreras Family Papers, 1820-1944 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
referencedIn Conley, Zeb. Zeb Conley collection of Charles Ilfeld papers, 1904-1927. Museum of New Mexico Library
referencedIn United States Army Quartermaster Corps Contracts, 1860-1886 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
referencedIn Elsberg, Gustave. Papers, 1869-1897. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn E. L. Moulton Papers, 1910-1965, 1912-1958 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf Charles Ilfeld Company Photograph Collection, 1900-1910 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf United States. Army. Quartermaster Corps. Contracts, 1860-1886. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf Charles Ilfeld Company. Charles Ilfeld Company Photograph Collection [Picture] University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf Charles Ilfeld Company. Records, 1865-1929. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Raton Grocery Store Records, 1907-1938 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
referencedIn Ilfeld family. Ilfeld family letters, 1840-1928. Museum of New Mexico Library
creatorOf Charles Ilfeld Company Records, 1865-1929 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
referencedIn William Jackson Parish Papers, 1700-1964, 1945-1963 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
referencedIn Ilfeld Family Letters, 1840-1928 Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, New Mexico History Museum.
referencedIn Smith Mercantile Company (Santa Rosa, N.M.) Records, 1901-1948, 1901-1904, 1946-1948 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
referencedIn Gustave Elsberg Papers, 1869-1897 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf Spitz family. Spitz family business papers, 1888-1975. Museum of New Mexico Library
referencedIn Azar, R. H. (Richard H.). Raton grocery store records, 1907-1938. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Moulton, E. L. (Earl Lake), 1878-. Papers, 1910-1965, (bulk 1912-1958). University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf Parish, William Jackson, 1907-1965. Papers, 1700-1964, (bulk 1945-1963). University of New Mexico-Main Campus
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adolph Letcher and Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Azar, R. H. (Richard H.) person
associatedWith Brunswick, Marcus person
associatedWith Brunswick, Marcus. person
associatedWith Conley, Zeb. person
associatedWith Contreras family family
associatedWith Contreras family. family
associatedWith Elsberg, Gustave person
associatedWith Elsberg, Gustave. person
associatedWith Ilfeld, Charles person
associatedWith Ilfeld, Charles, 1847- person
associatedWith Ilfeld family family
associatedWith Ilfeld family family
associatedWith Ilfeld family. family
associatedWith Ilfeld family. family
associatedWith Ilfeld Family family
associatedWith Ilfeld Family family
associatedWith Ilfeld, Louis, 1857-1938. person
associatedWith Moulton, E. L. (Earl Lake), 1878- person
associatedWith Nordhaus, Max person
associatedWith Nordhaus, Max. person
associatedWith Parish, William Jackson, 1907-1965. person
associatedWith Smith Mercantile Company (Santa Rosa, N.M.) corporateBody
associatedWith Spitz family. family
associatedWith United States. Army. Quartermaster Corps. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New Mexico
New Mexico
Hamburg (Germany)
Hamburg (Germany)
Subject
Merchants--New Mexico
Merchants
Wool--Marketing
Business enterprises--History
Merchants--1900-1910
Sheep industry--History
Business enterprises--New Mexico--History
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1888

Active 1975

Information

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