About This Place
Silver City is a town in Grant County, New Mexico, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the town population was 10,545. It is the county seat of Grant County. The city is the home of Western New Mexico University.
The valley which is now the site of Silver City once served as an Apache campsite. With the arrival of the Spanish, a settlement developed and became known as San Vicente de la Ciénega (St. Vincent of the Marsh). With a wave of American prospectors in the 1860s, the pace of change increased, and Silver City was founded in the summer of 1870. The founding of the town occurred shortly after the discovery of silver ore deposits at Chloride Flats, on the hill just west of the farm of Captain John M. Bullard and his brother James. Following the silver strike, Captain Bullard laid out the streets of the Silver City, and a bustling tent city quickly sprang to life. Although the trajectory of Silver City's development was to be different from the hundreds of other mining boom towns established during the same period, Captain Bullard himself never lived to see even the beginnings of permanence, as he was killed in a confrontation with Apache raiders less than a year later, on February 23, 1871.
The town's violent crime rate was substantial during the 1870s, Grant County Sheriff Harvey Whitehill was elected in 1874, and gained a sizable reputation for his abilities at controlling trouble. In 1875, Whitehill became the first lawman to arrest Billy the Kid, known at the time as William Bonney. Whitehill arrested him twice, both times for theft in Silver City, and would later claim that Bonney was a likeable kid, whose stealing was a result more of necessity than criminality. His mother is buried in the town cemetery. In 1878 the town hired its first town marshal, "Dangerous Dan" Tucker, who had been working as a deputy for Whitehill since 1875.