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Family History Stories Paraphrased
Page 12 of 38

Ella Lea Dow
Francisco Gomez
Frank Ramsey
George F. Blashek

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Ella Lea Dow
By Georgia B. Redfield
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Eddy, Chaves
Surnames mentioned: Dow, Lea, Pierce, Day, Thurber, Rohr, Beaty

Ella Lea Dow was the first white baby born in Roswell. Here are incidents taken from her life when a baby, and when a child growing into young girlhood and up to the present time when she is a happy wife and a devoted mother. She is the wife of H. M. Dow, they were married August 18, 1913. Mr. Dow is also an old-timer, is a prominent attorney of Roswell, and is well known throughout the state of New Mexico.

There are also stories of her father Captain Joseph C. Lea and of her mother Sally Wildy Lea. These intimate little stories of her father and mother are touching, revealing, little incidents showing the splendid manhood of the man, and gallantry of the woman, he chose to share as he planned only the pleasures and comforts of his life. It was by her decision and choice that she shared the hardships and the dangers of the pioneers life in this wild new country her husband loved so dearly.

My mother was a woman indulged and accustomed to every luxury, said Mrs. Dow, and my father insisted that she remain in her home until he could prepare a safe and comfortable place for her here in New Mexico. She was a brave woman! She showed me a beautiful photograph of her mother and bravery was stamped in the strong but beautiful features of her face. I have a letter written by my mother to my father in which be said, I want to be with you, even if there be nothing but the stars over my head. So they were married in Sartartia, Mississippi, February 3, 1875.

It is strange, said Mrs. Dow reminiscently, February was always the month in which events of importance happened in their lives. They were married in February, Mother died February 20, 1884 and father died February 4, 1904. An old sweetheart of my mother's came to visit us here in our western home. He was shocked to find her mounted on a soap box whitewashing the walls of our four room adobe house where I was born in 1882.

This place mentioned by Mr. Dow was built for and had been, the first hotel of Roswell. It was located in front of where the court house stands at the present time. The hard rough life and being far from a physician's care during her last illness was responsible for her early death, said Mrs. Dow, I was three years old at that time, and when four, while living with my Aunt Ella, Mrs. Ella Pierce, I was named for her you know my father came one day and not wishing to distress my aunt by taking me away. He picked me up without her knowing, and carried me to the Thurber's home. My aunt had too many children to care for in her home and he thought it best for me to go to California with Mrs. Thurber and her daughter. So I lived in San Jose, California, four years, until my father's marriage, in 1889, to Mrs. Mabel Doss Day of Coleman, Texas, then I returned to Roswell. By this time, my father had turned the waste of a desert land into a safe and pleasant little town. In 1885 he had Uncle Alf, his brother, Alfred E. Lea, come from Denver and lay out the town into blocks and nice wide streets. The work was well done.

Some years later a friend visiting here remarked how much the town reminded her of her own home town of Cleveland, Tennessee. My uncle had lived in Cleveland and had unconsciously used the same plan in laying out this town. This writer, than fifteen years of age, was the overnight guest of Ella Lea's step-sister, Willie Day. The two girls were busy packing their trunks. They were leaving the next day for boarding school in Texas.

I remember that trip well, said Mrs. Dow, laughing heartily, It was in 1894, the railroad to Roswell was not yet completed. Willie, my step-sister, and I rode in a topless wagon drawn by mules. We were poking along on our way to Eddy now Carlsbad when I took the reins and whacked those mules good and hard, and one of them kicked me clear out of the wagon. I was so sunburned when we arrived at the school, the girls called me the Mexican from New Mexico, this bothered me not at all for it furnished amusement for many a day.

At this point in Mrs. Dow's story, she showed me many treasures accumulated in her beautiful home. Among them was a photograph of an exquisite mural done by her cousin, Tom Lea, who is a well known artist, who has lived and still owns a home in Santa Fe. We had a writer of note in our family as well as an artist, said Mrs. Dow, He was Homer Lea, the son of Uncle Alf Lea. Some of the books he wrote are: The Valor of Ignorance, The Day of Saxon and the Vermilion Pencil. They have become so highly prized they have been removed from the library shelves for safe keeping.

Mrs. Dow showed me the lovely wedding gifts of one of her three daughters, Josephine, a recent bride, who is now Mrs. Carl J. Rohr, whose summer home is at Elk Horn Lodge, Estes Park, Colorado. She told me of the still more recent marriage of Dorothy, her youngest daughter, who to now Mrs. Towler Beaty of Larkin, Kansas.

Elinor, the oldest daughter, is manager of The Native Market at Santa Fe. All the unique and beautifully hand made articles, furniture, rugs, wrought from frames, stands, etc. are made by the natives, and sold from this shop or market, to keep them from relief. No I can not stay for lunch, I replied to Mrs. Dow's gracious and urgent insistence. I had spent three pleasant hours in her home and still had not heard all I would like to tell.

Mrs. Dow had been glad to talk of the accomplishments of many of the relatives of the Lea family, but she was sparing in praise of those she held close and dear. However, I knew all they had accomplished, and of the love and honor in which her parents were held in the hearts of the old timers of Roswell and the Pecos Valley. It is because of these parents, mainly, that the stories of this first baby girl born in Roswell are of keen interest, and because the pattern of her life so like her mother's and her father's, has always been closely woven with the history, growth, and development of this city, and because she is the daughter of the man and the woman, responsible for there ever being a safe and beautiful city of Roswell. At one time Captain and Mrs. Lea owned the entire town of Roswell.

Captain Lea not only gave his untiring efforts in works which accomplished wonderful achievements for the benefit of the town be loved, but he gave freely of his lands on which to build improvements, and the first industrial plant, and the land for the public buildings, our court house and for schools and parks. He is responsible for the establishment of our wonderful school, the New Mexico Military Institute, and for the building of humble homes for the needy.

A movement is on for a memorial for this man so loved by the Roswell people. It should go through to completion at once and should be a fitting one. A memorial towering high, overlooking this city, he has built. It should be a beacon, a guide, a welcome to the new-comer - whom he was always first to welcome. Only the best would be a fitting memorial for remembrance, and for appreciation of the achievements of this man, The Father of Roswell.

Francisco Gomez
By Edith L. Crawford
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Valencia, Lincoln
Surnames mentioned: Gomez, Serna, McSween, Sais, Chaves, Santano, Sales 

I was born at Manzano, Valencia County, New Mexico, on September 17, 1854. My father was Guadalupe Gomez and my mother was Susanita Serna. Both my father and my mother were born near what is now Belen, New Mexico. My father worked for a man named Jose Sais at Manzano and was foreman of his sheep ranch.

Once when I was about seven years old my father sent me out to find the oxen and drive them to the house. It was rather early in the morning. I had made me a little fiddle out of a cigar box and I was going along playing it when an Indian stepped from behind a bush and snatched me up. I was very scared and cried and the Indian slapped his hand over my mouth. He carried me under his arm for about a half mile and then he came up to five more Indians. The one that had me put me on the ground and told me to walk fast. They punched and poked at me all the time to make me go faster. I was barefooted and the rocks and sticks cut my feet and made them bleed. I'd try to sit down to rest and they would kick me and make me move on again. When they got way up on the side of Manzano mountain they stopped for the night. They tied my hands and feet with raw hide thongs. They did not have any thing to eat but pinions. I was so awful tired and worn out that I went to sleep and did not wake up until daylight. 

Only one Indian was there when I woke up but the rest soon came in and they talked and talked for a long time. I don't know all they said but they had wanted to steal some horses and either could not find any or they were too closely guarded and they did not get any. They untied my hands and feet and told me to start down the mountain. I ran as hard as I could go because I was afraid they would come after me. After I had gone for a ways I met my father with a bunch of men coming to look for me. I was awfully glad to see them. My father took me in his arms and turned back with me to take me home. The rest of the men went on up the mountain to hunt for the Indians, but they never did catch up with them. They were Navajo Indians.

I remember that they had ear rings in their ears that were made of silver and were round loops. They wore a band around their heads with feathers stuck in it and had on breech clouts and moccasins. They had necklaces of beads and silver ornaments that hung down on their chests. I remember that the one who carried me had on three of these necklaces. They all had bows and arrows. I do not know what they were made of but the tips of the arrows were of flint about an inch or an inch and a half long and were white or light colored. When the Indian first caught me he had his bow and some arrows in his hand and after we had gone a ways he put the bow in a kind of scabbard on his back and the arrows in a kind of bag hung on one shoulder. My father told me that the Indians had carried me about twenty miles from home. I had been away nearly all one day and one night. I did not have anything but pinions to eat all the time.

My father and mother moved to Lincoln New Mexico in 1863, when I was about nine years old. I do not remember very much about the trip but we moved in a wagon with an ox team. My father settled on a place about a quarter of a mile east of Lincoln and farmed. He used oxen altogether on the farm.

I can remember when we lived in Manzano that the oxen had big horns and the ropes were fastened to their horns but when we moved to Lincoln they used yokes on the oxen. I had never seen them before. When we planted corn at Lincoln my father drove the team of oxen and I dropped the corn in the furrow.

Father would go up in the mountains near our house and cut down trees for wood and would put a chain around the tree and the oxen would snake the tree down the mountain side to the house. When I was about eighteen years old I went to work for the McSween's. I stayed with them for about two years. I remember that one winter Billy the Kid stayed with the McSween's for about seven months. I guess he boarded with them. He was an awfully nice young fellow with light brown hair, blue eyes, and rather big front teeth. He always dressed very neatly.

He used to practice target shooting a lot. He would throw up a can and would twirl his six gun on his finger and he could hit the can six times before it hit the ground. He rode a big roan horse about ten or twelve hands high, all that winter and when this horse was out in the pasture Billy would go to the gate and whistle and the horse would come up to the gate to him. That horse would follow Billy and mind him like a dog. He was a very fast horse and could out run most of the other horses around there. I never went out with Billy but once.

Captain Baca was sheriff then and once some tough outlaws came to Lincoln and rode up and down the streets and shot out window lights in the houses and terrorized people. Captain Baca told Billy the Kid to take some men and go after these men. Billy took me and Florencio and Jose Chaves and Santano with him. The outlaws went to the upper Ruidoso and we followed them. We caught up with them and shot it out with them. One of the outlaws was killed and the other ran away. None of us were hurt.

When the Lincoln County war broke out my father did not want to get into it so he made me quit working for the McSween's and come home and stay there. My father did not take any part in the war. I was married to Crecencia Sales in 1881 at Lincoln. We never had any children of our own but we adopted two girls. One is marred and the other lives with me now at Lincoln. My wife died about ten years ago. My father and mother both died at Lincoln and are buried there.

I still live on the old place that my father settled on so many years ago. I have been Justice of the Peace of Lincoln county for about twenty years at different times and was Probate Judge from about 1900 to 1904. I got so old that I would not serve as Justice of the Peace any more. I have lived all of my life in New Mexico and have been in Lincoln County for seventy-five years. I do not speak English, but understand it fairly well.

Frank Ramsey
By Frances E. Totty
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Grant
Surnames mentioned: Ramsey, Woodruff, 

Freighting in Silver City in the Early Days
My father, Frank Ramsey, Sr. was born Evansville, Ind. in 1859. He moved to Arizona in 1893, and finally settled at Woodruff. From the time he was able to walk he was riding horses, he followed the trade of cow-puncher and trade until he came to Arizona then he worked for the railroad for a few years, having acquired a small fortune he moved to Old Mexico in 1896, and went back to trading while in Mexico he went broke, and decided to move to Alma New Mexico in 1900.

Father went to freighting from Alma to Cooney Canyon with twelve head of horses. He carried all the machinery and supplies to the Enterprise mine. The road that he was freighting over is the road of today, but there has never been a truck pull a load over the road. When a load must be carried in a caterpillar is brought down the mountain and pulls the load up the hill.

In 1903 father decided that he better move to Silver City and he had ten children of his own and an adopted son that needed to be in school, besides we had a lot of illness in the family and needed to be near a doctor. Monte Reese, the adopted son, was an orphan boy this parents were dead and he and his other brother and sisters were by the people of the neighborhood. The last that we heard of the boy he was in South America.

Father after coming to Silver City decided to freight to Mogollon. We went by the following route: Silver City to Continental Divide Hill Down Wind Canyon, so called because of the fact that there was a breeze in the canyon when the air was still everywhere else, we then went across to McKeife Canyon, named after an old sheep ranch owner, across to Mangus, which was named after an Indian chief, we crossed Greenwood canyon, which was named from the fact there was a strip of territory through the district with evergreen trees on it where the surrounding territory was all barren. Then to Duck Creek, this creek was in the old days entirely habitude by wild ducks. We crossed to Indian Point, so called because in the early days it was a lookout that the Indians held and was a very dangerous point as many travelers were waylaid at this point by the Indians. The next place that was named was Hells Hill so called by the freighters because it was hell to get up the hill as many times the mud was from twelve to twenty four inches deep. 

We then had to go down Drunk Mans Canyon and up again this place was called by the man for it was said it was so crooked that it took a drunk man to climb out of the canyon. Hard Struggle was another hill that caused so much trouble and received its name from the fact. Many of the hills and canyons along the route was named by the freighters. Devil's Canyon was the next place that we crossed and was named because it was dangerous and if a slip was made the freighters said that the driver would sure go to Hades. We didn't have bridges to cross the canyons as you do today, but had to go down into the canyon and then pull out again. In the old days instead of calling a place in the road a grade we called it a Dugway from the fact many of the roads were cut through the forest and places were dug away for the wagons to go by a unusually bad place, and this is how Dugway received its name and the canyon that was so called because the road made a double switch back down the canyon and now it is crossed by a bridge.

Our last dangerous hill was climax curve called by this name as it was a sharp turn and would be fatal to teams and driver if a mistake was made, and from the fact the freighters said that when they made the turn it was the climax to the trip. All the heavy machinery that is in Mogollon was put in by horses for trucks were unable to make the grade.

When I was nine years old I made the trip to Mogollon with father and while on the trip father fell from the wagon and was injured and had to be returned to Silver City by the fastest method possible. I was left to make the return trip alone. I had to get me an Arbukle coffee box to put the collars on the horses, but I made the trip without any trouble. I drove fourteen head of horses and trailed four wagons. We trip was written up in the Albuquerque Journal and I felt that I had accomplished a great feat, but my joy was short lived for when I returned to school my teacher, Barbara C. Ripley, made me stay after school as I was disturbing the school, about the trip.

On these trips we usually tried to carry one thousand pounds to the animal. We usually allowed ourselves about fifteen days round trip if we didn't have any trouble, but many times it took forty-five days when the water was high. Ernest Bennett started from Silver City to Mogollon with two White Company trucks the first to ever go over the road. It took him six weeks to get to Big Dry Creek, Fifty four miles from Silver City He then Unloaded onto freight wagons to finish the trip. the roads were impossible for trucks until it was changed and bridges were build.

George F. Blashek
By Georgia B. Redfield
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Eddy, Chaves
Surnames mentioned: Blashek, Lea, Dunnahoo, Chisum, Clay

Mr. George F. Blashek and his family came to New Mexico and settled in Las Vegas in 1880 where he was engaged for two years in a mill at that place. He removed to Roswell in 1882 and established the first industrial plant, a grist mill for use of the town and adjacent community. At the time of the coming of Mr. Blashek to this section of New Mexico, there was one store and post office, and a residence used for a hotel, both owned by Captain J. C. Lea, a blacksmith shop which was established by Rufus Dunnahoo in 1881 and a meat market opened by Patrick H. Boone in 1881. Some farms had been opened up and good crops of wheat and corn furnished grain for grinding the first years after the establishment of the grist mill.

Captain Joseph C. Lea who owned all of the land of the town, as far north as what is now East College Boulevard deeded to Mr. Blashek forty acres to be used for a mill site, on the north side of North Spring River, at what is now the corner of East College Blvd. and Atkinson Avenue.

After the establishment of the grist mill, Mr. Blashek filed on an eighty acre homestead tract adjoining the mill site land on the north, now the north side of East College Boulevard, and extending as far west as the Santa Fe Railroad tracks, which is the southeast quarter, section 28, Township ten, Range 24 East.

On some of this land roses now bloom around the doorway of Frank and Pat Blashek, the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Blashek, that were planted and carefully tended by them because of having been bought to Roswell in a covered wagon, by their friends the Chisum family in 1877. Mrs. Blashek, who was a typical pioneer wide and mother, bravely overcame many obstacles and hardships of the new western country. She made a home for her family, planted and cultivated her flowers and her vegetable garden, raised chickens and turkeys, and was never too tired to dress her seven children and take them to the church services and Sunday School on Sundays. She died on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1899. An ice plant was established and operated by Mr. Blashek in connection with his grist mill, from the year 1906 until the summer of 1919. In 1891 or 1892 the first plane mill of Roswell was also established by Mr. Blashek on land near the grist mill.

Mr. George H. Blashek was born in Austria and came to America with his parents when a young child. He was married at La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1878, his wives given name being Anna, family name unknown. After his marriage he was engaged for two years farming, on a farm a few miles west of St. Louis, Missouri, from which place he moved to New Mexico in 1880. Mr. and Mrs. Blashek were the parents of seven sons: Frank, Clay, Earnest, Robert, Patrick, Victor and Fred. Of the seven only two, Frank and Pat, are living at the present time.

Mr. Blashek was active in performance of his work of the grist mill until the time of his death January 17, 1932, at eighty-six years of age. His assistance in mechanical and engineering work vas valuable to many early settlers, in constructing intricate parts of machinery and farm implements. His ability to construct devices used in mill work, and other industrial establishments, was handed down to both of Mr. Blashek's sons, Frank and Pat, who are always ready to help a neighbor in adjustment of parts of engines and other machinery out of repair in their neighborhood. They are highly respected and valued as friends and helpful neighbors in the community in which they live.