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William Calhoun McDonald
New Mexico

Gov. William Calhoun McDonald

  • January 6, 1912 - January 1, 1917
  • Democratic
  • July 25, 1858
  • April 11, 1918
  • New York
  • Married Francis McCourt Tarbell; five children


WILLIAM C. MCDONALD, the first governor of New Mexico, was born in Jordanville, New York on July 25, 1858. His education was attained at Cazenovia Seminary in New York. He went on to study law, and in 1880 was admitted to the Kansas bar. He eventually moved to New Mexico, settling in White Oaks, where he found work as a miner, store clerk, and civil engineer. McDonald first entered politics as the U.S. deputy mineral surveyor for New Mexico, a position he held in 1881. From 1885 to 1887 he served as the Lincoln County assessor; and in 1891 he was a member of the New Mexico Territorial House of Representatives. He also chaired the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners from 1895 to 1897; was a member of the New Mexico Cattle Sanitary Board from 1905 to 1911; and served as chairman of the 1910 Democratic Territorial Central Committee. McDonald next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by popular vote on November 7, 1911. During his tenure, the state’s governmental system was launched; and raids by Mexican bandits were dealt with. After leaving the governorship, McDonald secured an appointment to serve as the state fuel administrator, a post he held in 1918. Governor William C. McDonald passed away on April 11, 1918, and was buried in the Cedarville Cemetery in White Oaks, New Mexico.


Governor William C McDonald Papers, 1880-1968 (bulk 1912-1916) (official and personal papers)

* Governor William C. McDonald Photograph Collection

The Political Graveyard

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

The University of New Mexico

* Finding aid available at New Mexico Commission of Public Records.

For more information please contact the New Mexico State Archives at 505-476-7948 or

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