People William A. Keleher Knew

By: Julia Keleher

William A. Keleher (born in 1886, died in 1972) was a well-known figure in Albuquerque, New Mexico. By profession, he was a lawyer. His law firm (Keleher & McLeod) was among the best in the business. Even after almost hundred years of establishment, Keleher & McLeod is still driven by the same passion and dedication that their founders showed initially. As a result, the firm is considered as one of the oldest and most efficient law firms in New Mexico today. He was a New Mexico Hall of Famer. Not only that, many important private sector positions were held by him. William A. Keleher was also a prominent writer. He had avid interest in history and his books reflect how well he has managed to write from historical perspective. William Keleher was also involved in copious social functions and events. That is why it is not surprising to know how he got in touch with so many high profile individuals.

William A. Keleher had an intimate relationship with Elfego Baca (born in 1865, died in 1945), a legendary lawyer, lawman and politician in the closing days of American wild-west. Keleher met him during his reporter-days. The colorful New Mexican figure had something very common with Keleher – They were both versatile and multi-faceted individuals. Baca was born when the American civil war was about to be finished. His father was a marshal. Baca, at the tender age of 19, declared himself deputy sheriff in Sorocco County after he stole some guns and managed a sheriff-badge. He wanted to put an end to the anarchy in his local territory. He also operated a detective agency and theorized in real estate among other activities. William Keleher was his attorney and good friend. One day, Baca came to Keleher’s house and demanded to see him. Her wife, Loretta responded by saying that he was sick in bed. Elfego Baca insisted to see him by saying that it was about his wife (Ms. Baca). Loretta was pretty curious. She said it is unusual for him to be so intimidated since Mr. Baca is a bold character, even killing many men without much trouble. In reply, Baca just shook his head and said Loretta did not know Ms. Baca! This is just one of the innumerable stories involving Keleher and Baca. The Kelehers’ personal archive has Elfego Baca’s briefcase and five postcards that were signed by him.

One of the most important developments in Albuquerque in Keleher’s times was the Hilton Hotel by the great Conrad Nicholson Hilton who believed that the place was destined for great things. The ten-story building was completed in 1939. Conrad was an American hotelier who founded the Hilton-Hotel chain. Coincidentally, he belonged to the same place as Elfego Baca (Sorocco County). Conrad N. Hilton, too, was known to William Keleher. It is believed they met in one of the countless social events that both of them used to attend.

William A. Keleher, was a prominent figure in New Mexico. Due to his diverse work and philanthropic activities, he met many people in his life. Among them, there were legendary people like Elfego Baca, Conrad N. Hilton and some others, who played an important role in history. Like Keleher, their names are also remembered even today with great respect.

One may wonder how these friendships became known to the world today. The answer is pretty simply actually. The Kelehers recently donated the entire William Keleher collection to the University of New Mexico (UNM). Such magnanimity is unequivocally praiseworthy since many unknown things about William Keleher have been divulged to the world lately. Among them was the tale of friendship that you just learnt about. One of the family members said that the children and the grandchildren are less likely to find any interest in them at the moment; however, in the future, they will certainly be. The Keleher family and their connections to the prominent figures of the society would have not been revealed to the world if these materials were not found in the first place. As historians use the documents to develop a greater understanding, more information regarding William A. Keleher’s influential friends will be divulged.

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