LEA COUNTY was created in 1917 from Chaves and Eddy counties and named after Capitan Joseph Calloway Lea. The county seat was established in Lovington when the county was founded and a courthouse was built for $25,000. In the 1930’s during the oil boom, a new courthouse was desired and various interesting plays were made to move the county seat to Hobbs. After failing because the site was eighty-nine feet short of the state law that required twenty miles from the existing building, a New Deal funded building was built in 1937 for $179,000 and remains in use in Lovington. The County’s 4,393 square miles of wide open space continues to be the base for the county being one of the state’s leading producers of oil and gas, but ranching, farming and the newer dairy industry also contribute to the economy of the county. Both state and private higher education institutions (New Mexico
Junior College and College of the Southwest) are located in the county.
Lea County’s population is estimated to be 55,511 residents.