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William A. Keleher's Masterpieces

William Keleher asked:

William A. Keleher’s masterpieces

William A. Keleher was unequivocally a multi-faceted individual. While other great people focused on a single field of expertise, Keleher begged to differ. Yes, it is true that he was essentially a lawyer and he did excel in his field, no doubt. However, he did not want to restrain his potential to merely a single field. Instead, he chose to be versatile, something many of us cannot be in our entire life. Besides being a successful lawyer, William A. Keleher was also a newspaperman, historian and most importantly – an effective writer. Keleher’s knack for writing is first discovered when he was appointed as a newspaper reporter in 1908 by local newspaper authorities who were duly impressed by his skills. His writing skills were further honed as he went on to write in papers like the Albuquerque Evening Herald and Albuquerque Journal. It came to nobody’s surprise when he occupied the post of a city editor in those newspapers.

Despite such noteworthy writing experiences, Keleher’s brilliance remained unnoticed until the Texas Bar Association and the New Mexico Bar Association Meeting at Amarillo, Texas on July 5, 1929. It was a pivotal moment which made him an authoritative author on the New Mexico history topic. Interestingly, he talked there about the Maxwell Land Grant, the same title of his first ever book. “Maxell Land Grant” was published in 1942 and was revised after twenty two years (1964).

Violence in Lincoln County: 1869-1881 is perhaps one of the most intriguing books written by William A. Keleher. Like an adept artist, he described the 1870s scenario in a smooth manner. According to the book, the alleged Lincoln Country War during the 1870s resulted from partisan politics and business disputes. There was a major clash between the corrupt mercantilists and cattle kings in the issue of land acquisition. Well known cattle barons like Chisum, Turnstall and McSween formed faction to counter the alliance of mercantilists and small-scale ranchers led by Dolan, Riley and Murphy. Santa Fe’s partisan politics prevented additional violence and turmoil with the aid of the law enforcement agencies. Consequently, rights were being violated, cattle were being stolen and power was being threatened. If it was not bad enough already incidents of homicides started to take place. Billy the Kid was said to be fueling all this and it was not until his death (1881) that L. Wallace (then-governor, better known as the author of “Ben Hur”) declared peace in the territory. Although superseded by recent studies, Keleher’s findings are still regarded as valuable. He would often give reference to the leading stories and contemporary news-reports in his drama. Keleher’s book on this topic boasts first-hand reports and adequate information, making it a must-have book for people interested in discovering this period in western history. The book was written in the year of 1957.

“Memoirs”, another book by Keleher, was published in the year of 1969. It was republished after several years under a different title. It mainly had biographical information of Keleher and the events witnessed by him.

The Fabulous Frontier (1945), Turmoil in New Mexico, 1846-1868 (1952) are some of his other well-known books. Keleher also showcased his expertise in numerous short writings and speeches. Throughout the state, he spoke for groups in a regular basis. The topics included in the discourse were mainly historical subjects and patriotism, identical to his full-length works. The short writings, however, include longer essays and newspaper articles, dealing mostly with New Mexico history.

William Keleher’s last book came out in 1969. It is very surprising to know that he was able to keep his regular hours at the law firm (Keleher & McLeod) despite the demands of writing these books. One must ponder how was he able to keep a balance between two entirely different yet equally responsibility-demanding tasks since he was not only a successful lawyer, but also a well-known writer for the books.

William A. Keleher is the burning proof that one can successfully leap into different realms if he has the diversity and talent. His contribution as an author is undeniable. It will not be an exaggeration to say that he will always live in people’s mind as a great writer who engendered amazing masterpieces.

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