Celebrating a Mesilla Valley heritage

Library endowment will support local historic collections in honor of family’s enduring legacy

By Tiffany Acosta 

With family roots in the Mesilla Valley that can be traced back to the 1870s, Humboldt Mandell Jr. was searching for a way to honor his parents, Humboldt Casad Mandell and Evangeline Smith Mandell, after their lifetimes. 

“My family’s roots are in the Mesilla Valley. We are all descended from Thomas and Sarah (Sallie) Casad,” says Mandell. “For several years, I searched Mesilla bookshops and looked online for records on the family and was frustrated that there was little or no information.” 

Mandell then approached New Mexico State University about penning a book about his family’s history that resulted in “The Casads: A Pioneer Family of the Mesilla Valley,” written by Rick Hendricks in 2012. The initial association has led to a new creation, the Humboldt Casad Mandell and Evangeline Smith Mandell Endowment to honor the couple, who are both NMSU alumni. A $100,000 gift from Mandell will support the Rio Grande Historical Collections in the Branson Library, and the acquiring of collections and processing costs such as supplies, labor, shelving and transportation. 

“After a number of years, when the relationship with the NMSU Library developed, thanks to Dean Elizabeth Titus and Rick Hendricks, and the family archive was established, we saw a need to provide some assistance to assure its future,” Mandell says. “So the two needs converged: the need to memorialize my parents, with the need to support the living memorial to them and our ancestors, which is the archive.” 

One of Thomas and Sarah Casad’s grandsons, Humboldt married Evangeline in 1930, and he owned and farmed land west of Canutillo, which Mandell says the family still thinks of as home. 

The Casads arrived in Mesilla on Christmas eve in 1874. They played a vital role in both the agricultural and social development of the region. One of their daughters, Jessie Casad, was the only graduate in the second graduating class from then New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1895. The Casad family also cared for and helped educate Fabian Garcia, who became not only a leading faculty member and administrator at NMSU, but also one of the most significant agriculturalists from the state of New Mexico. 

In late September, the Humboldt Casad Mandell and Evangeline Smith Mandell Exhibit Gallery on the fourth floor of the Branson Library was unveiled. 

The Humboldt Casad Mandell and Evangeline Smith Mandell Exhibit Gallery on the fourth floor of Branson Library was unveiled in September at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.


The exhibit features materials such as photos, family papers, letters, legal papers, business and financial records of the descendants of Thomas and Sarah (Sallie) Casad, who settled in the Mesilla Valley in the 1870s.