Longtime Conservancy member and Southwestern archaeologist Jerry Fetterman has donated a twenty-acre lot that contains a 1,200-year-old site as well as more recent ruins. The site, which is named after Fetterman, is near the former mining town of Riley in west-central New Mexico. Fetterman discovered and mapped the site during a cultural resource survey for the proposed Santa Rita Ranch subdivision in 2005. The Fetterman site contains historic structures and features of Ancestral Puebloan occupations from both the Pueblo I and II periods (A.D. 750 – 1150).
Riley was founded in 1880 by a small colony of nearby farmers, and it was originally called Santa Rita. In 1890, the first post office opened and associated records show the name had changed to Riley, the name of a local sheep rancher. By 1897, about 150 people lived in Riley, and there were two stores, a catholic church, and a stone school. The church and school are still standing and can be seen from the preserve. Four nearby coal and manganese mines allowed the town to prosper. But it slowly declined as the coal and manganese deposits were depleted, a drop in the water table affected crop production, and the land became overgrazed. By 1931, the post office closed.
In 1890-1891, Hirsch Kaplan, who immigrated from Ukraine to New York City in 1887, led a small group of Russian-Jewish immigrants from the crowded neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Chesterfield, Connecticut, where they were able to purchase inexpensive farmland, a privilege forbidden them in Tsarist Russia. In the spring of 1892, these families established a religious and social community called the New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society (NEHFES) and they built both a synagogue and water-powered creamery to process milk into butter and cream for the surrounding region. The money to purchase the farmland and construct the buildings was provided by the Baron Maurice de Hirsch Fund, established in New York City in 1891 by de Hirsch, a German industrialist who enabled the escape of his Russian brethren to North and South America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In 1894, having written a governing constitution in Yiddish, NEHFES began to thrive as a closely-knit religious, social, and economic community of more than fifty Jewish families, and it continued to do so well into the 1920s. Revenues from their cottage industries enabled the group to purchase additional land, and from 1905 into the late 1920s several families developed thriving summer boardinghouse businesses, hosting New York families seeking to escape the hot and crowded city. But the Chesterfield Jewish community, which once numbered 500 people, dwindled significantly as the next generation left to start families and businesses in New London, Hartford, and beyond. The one-room wooden Chesterfield synagogue, which continued to open for Jewish High Holy Day services into the 1950s, was burned down by an arsonist in 1975.