Son of a prominent nuevomexicano family, Chávez made a fortune on the Santa Fe Trade in the 1820s and 1830s. He established a mercantile in Belen and managed his families trade interests from there. Known widely as Don Felipe, he continued to profit from trade along the Santa Fe Trail well into the 1870s. In 1860 alone his trade invoice valued $36,000–over $250,000 in today’s currency.
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