Coming soon, book No. 5 in the Rio Abajo history trilogy.
That’s right, the series by local historians Dr. Richard Melzer and John Taylor, originally envisioned as three volumes, is already at four with a fifth in the publisher’s hands. And that might not be the end of it.
“Lots of history around here,” said Taylor during a recent interview involving him, Melzer and the other member of their own trilogy, writer, photographer and now publisher, Baldwin Burr. “Apparently more than enough for three books.”
The three will be featured presenters at the annual meeting of the Valencia County Historical Society at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 3, at Central Parlour, 114 Becker Ave. in Belen. Their main presentation will be on their latest joint venture, “Notable and Notorious Neighbors in Valencia County,” a collection of more than 100 short profiles with photos of Valencianos from the Spanish era to the current day, and ranging from scoundrels like Bronco Bill to heroes like Daniel Fernandez to community fixtures like Belen’s Trini “Pito, Pito” Baca.
While not a part of the Rio Abajo series, which covers a broader geographical territory, “Notable and Notorious” is a spinoff featuring many Valencia County characters who weave their way through its stories. It was published by Burr’s new publishing company, TechKnowldege Press, and will be available for sale at the historical society meeting.
And for those who want to launch into the Rio Abajo series or catch up with it, the publisher, Rio Grande Books, is making the four volumes available during the meeting at a 40-percent discount, individually or as a set, Taylor said.
From the beginning and continuing today, all profits and royalties from the Rio Abajo history books go to the Valencia County Historical Society. The stories in the books are standalone tales, many of which have appeared in the News-Bulletin’s La Historica del Rio Abajo column, which has been running since 1998.
“The stories capture such a broad spectrum of the history of the Rio Abajo and include Cibola, Torrance and Socorro counties as well as Valencia,” said Taylor.
“It is probably the best documented regional history in the state,” Melzer said.
Also available at the meeting will be “Heroes of the Rio Abajo,” a 1996 county history book for children written by several local authors and edited by Melzer, who said that book will soon be updated and re-published by Burr. Other books by the trio and the publishing company will also be for sale.
In addition to the soon-to-come fifth volume in the Rio Abajo series, the authors are already planning a second volume of “Notable and Notorious.”
The Valencia County Historical Society annual meeting is free and open to the public. There will be several awards, presentations and activities.