Chaves was named for Colonel Jose Francisco Chaves, a military leader here during the U.S. Civil War and later in Navajo campaigns. The county seat is Roswell, home of New Mexico Military Institute, the country’s first oil field training center, and the infamous “Roswell incident”.
This 1947, event allegedly involving the recovery of remains of a crashed flying saucer outside of town has generated millions of dollars in revenue through tourism and an annual festival commemorating the supposed event. The county is a highly productive farming area since irrigation from Artesia wells make the land arable and oil companies have productive field in this eastern area.
It is also one, if not the largest milk producing counties in the nation. Many dairies relocated to Chaves County from California where the land was sold to developers due to the cost of the land, and a better climate for the cattle.
The Victorian architecture of the courthouse, built in 1911, replaced the earlier 1890 building used after the county’s creation in 1889. It is one of the two courthouses in New Mexico that has a dome on the top of the structure