Elfego Baca was 19-years old at the time, standing a mere 5 foot 7 inches in height. What he lacked in stature he made up for in confidence and gusto.
Whether true or not, Baca is said to have been delivered on a softball field in Socorro, Territory of New Mexico, on February 15, 1865. According to the story, his mother was nine months pregnant and playing in a softball match.
When she jumped in the air to retrieve a ball she came down hard. Little Elfego decided to make his appearance to the delight of the crowd.
Silver was discovered in the Magdalena Mountains west of Socorro in 1867. That event and the coming of the railroad brought on a boomtown atmosphere.
Law and order was non-existent in Socorro. It was the largest city in New Mexico with 3,000 miners living, gambling and drinking night a day.
Elfego Baca and his family moved to Topeka, Kansas. When Elfego was in his teens, the family moved back to Socorro.
Baca wanted desperately to be a lawman. At 19 years of age, he armed himself with a mail-order badge and two pistols. He named himself sheriff of Socorro and appointed deputies. He was determined to rid the town of its riffraff and worthless bums that loitered in the streets of Socorro.
His unique arrest methods were effective. Elfego sent out letters to accused felons, saying, “I have a warrant for your arrest. Please come in by (Date) and give yourself up. If you don’t, I’ll know you intend to resist arrest and I will feel justified in shooting you on sight when I come after you.”