Judge Kirby Benedict was a prominent figure in the early days of the New Mexico Territory. Before coming to the Southwest, he had practiced law in Illinois, where he was a good friend of the young Abraham Lincoln.
Then in 1855, he received a presidential appointment as associate justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Five years later, President James Buchanan promoted him to chief justice. Along the way, he was elected the first president of the Historical Society of New Mexico.
In those days, people whispered that the formidable judge �was not a member of any temperance society.� That was a polite way of saying he was a heavy drinker.