The Abo Unit of Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument sits west of the town of Mountainair, New Mexico, and contains approximately 370 acres. The number and size of unexcavated pueblo mounds suggest that when the Spanish arrived in 1581 they would have found a thriving community. In 1622 Fray Francisco Fonte was assigned to the Abo Mission. Working with the Puebloan, Fonte established the use of rooms in one of the pueblos for an early convento. An early smaller Abo Church and Convento were built starting in 1623. Similar to Quarai, the convento for this church curiously contained a Circular Kiva. This Puebloan religious structure probably aided in early conversions. Construction on this earlier church and convento was completed by 1628. In 1629, a second missionary, Fray Francisco Acevedo, was assigned to Abo. In 1640 Acevedo began to renovate the Abo church and convento. This renovation increased the size of the church and included many improvements. This new, larger church was built around the smaller church, allowing services to continue until the smaller church needed to be dismantled and removed. Renovations to the church and convento were complete by 1658. Like Gran Quivira, a combination of disease, drought, famine, and Apache raiding led to the abandonment of Abo in 1673.
For over 100 years Abo was quiet. In 1815 Spanish sheep hearders attempted to return to the area, but were pushed out by Apaches in 1830. Settlers would permanently return in 1865. The remains of these Reoccupation Structures can be seen today south and east of the Abo Mission.
Did You Know?
The Salinas Pueblo Missions were more than just church buildings. The Franciscans also taught the Indians the Spanish language, new agricultural methods, and crafts.