Roswell, New Mexico dates back to 1866 when it, then known as Rio Hondo, was a cowboy outfitting station on a cattle trail. It acquired a post office in 1873 as well as the name Roswell. This area of Southeastern New Mexico around Roswell, the historic border between the Comanche and Mescalero Apache tribes, was then only sparsely settled.
In 1891, Captain Joseph C. and Mabel Lea invited Robert S. Goss to start a military school similar to the school Goss directed in Fort Worth, Texas. In September, Goss Military Institute opened its doors to twenty-eight pupils. Struggling as a result of poor management and insufficient funds, Goss Military Institute did secure designation as a territorial school and a new name, New Mexico Military Institute, but had to close its doors in 1895.
An appropriations bill passed by the territorial legislature and a generous donation by a resident philanthropist, J.J. Hagerman, of a forty-acre plot of land on North Hill helped reopen the doors of New Mexico Military Institute in its present location on September 6, l898. The school provided then eight years of academic work and the cadets were organized into two companies. After the Institute inaugurated the junior college in 1915, the school offered four years of high school (NCA accredited, 1917) and two years of college work (NCA accredited, 1938).
New Mexico Military Institute gained special recognition as a military school receiving the distinction as one of ten such distinguished institutions in 1909. In addition to retaining this distinction ever since, the school became a member of the Reserve Office Training Corps program in 1916. Shortly thereafter, NMMI sent 320 alumni and 163 officers into its country’s service during World War I. The school’s service to World War II was virtually unparalleled with over 170 young men losing their lives.
After experimentation with a four-year college in the fifties, NMMI returned to its high school and junior college program. With the support of a strong Early Commission (ROTC) Program in the junior college and special NCA recognition (1980) as a college-preparatory high school, the school has persistently increased its emphasis in recent years on its academic programs. Annually, approximately seventy cadets prepare for admission to the national service academies and join nine hundred thirty other young men and women in meeting the challenges of one of the nation’s most unique and finest preparatory schools.