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Family History Stories Paraphrased
Page 13 of 38

George Murray
George S. Brown
The Golden Image
Mrs. Frances Totty
H. M. Pyle

Begin Family Histories: 

Pioneer Story
By George Murray
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lea, Lincoln, Chaves, Eddy, Otero
Surnames mentioned: Murray, Erwin, Roundtree, Sloan, Thurber, Block, Thatcher, Greer

I was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, January 15, 1864. My father Joe Murray, and my mother, Elizabeth Erwin, were both born in Ireland. They both came to Fort Wayne, Indiana when they were very young and grew up there. They were married in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and their children, two boys and two girls, were born there. I was their youngest child. Maggie, Sam, Mollie, and George were the children’s names.

My parents moved to Richland Springs, in Texas, about 1865 when I was about a year old. I heard my mother say that they made the trip to Texas in covered wagons, but I do not know what time of the year they made the trip. I also remember my mother saying that Richland Springs was just a wide place in the road when they got there. My father took up a homestead about two miles east of Richland Springs, Texas, where he farmed, raised cattle and owned a few head of horses.

The woods around our farm was full of wild hogs, antelope, buffalo and deer, in those days and we had all the fresh meat that we wanted, just by going out in the woods and shooting the wild game. With our milk cows and what other things we raised on the farm, it cost us very little to live. My father was a prize fighter and was killed in Portland Oregon in a saloon brawl over a prize fight that he had gone to Portland to see. I do not remember what year he was killed. My mother died in Richland Springs, Texas, in 1892. In 1887 I hired out to a man named Joe of Richland Springs, Texas, as a cowboy. He was taking a herd of sixteen hundred cattle from Richland Springs, Texas to Globe Arizona.

Besides Joe Sloan and a foreman, named Lonny Roundtree, there were eight cowboys, a cook and a man to take care of the horses. It was late in the fall when we left Richland Springs, Texas, with the cattle. We traveled up the Concho river for sixty miles and crossed the cattle at San Angelo Texas. We had no trouble in crossing the river there as it was at normal stage. From San Angelo Texas on we were on the staked plains and had to make very long drives to water for the cattle. At night, three of the cowboys would stand guard over the cattle, in three hour shifts. The man who looked after the horses had to stand guard too. We had seventy-five head of horses in the rounds, each cowboy had a mount of seven horses.

There were two covered wagons, drawn by two horses to each wagon. One hauled our beds and the other was the chuck wagon. There was a chuck box in the back of the chuck wagon. The cook was a man and he had to use buffalo chips to cook with while we were on the plains. He made sour dough biscuits and baked them in a Dutch oven. The only fresh meat we had were the stray yearlings that we found on the plains. We would kill them for meat and for a few days we would have nice fresh meat for meals as the weather was cool enough for it to keep well.

Joe Sloan was the only man in the bunch who had a gun. We were never afraid of the Indians or of cattle thieves and we were never bothered by them. We crossed the Pecos River at Pontoon Crossing, about one hundred and sixty miles east of Pecos City, Texas. We had no trouble in crossing the cattle although we had to swim them across.

From Pontoon Crossing we went on by way of Pecos City, Texas, now called Pecos, Texas, and from there we headed in a Northwestern direction for the Sacramento Mountains, in New Mexico. The weather was getting cold and we needed protection for the cattle, as some of them were getting pretty weak. We passed through Seven Rivers, New Mexico, which was about fifty miles north of Roswell, New Mexico. Seven Rivers was in Lincoln County at that time. From there we went to Penasco country, in the Sacramento mountains, in New Mexico, where Joe Sloan left five hundred head of the weakest cattle in a pasture, for the winter. We came out of the Sacramento mountains at Tularosa, New Mexico, and to the north of the White Sands, through Mocking Bird Gap, in the Organ mountains. We watered at Mal Pais springs, which is just at the foot of the Mal Pais, in the Organ Mountains, and from there we had to drive the cattle a distance of sixty five miles without water until we reached the Rio Grande River. We crossed the Rio Grande near what is now Hot Springs, New Mexico. At Lake Valley New Mexico, we ran into an awful snow storm. This was in Sierra County. I left the herd, just after crossing the line of New Mexico and Arizona, at Duncan, Arizona.

I came back to Moonshine Springs, about thirty-five miles east of Carrizozo, New Mexico, in Lincoln County. I stayed there for a few days and then came over to the Block Ranch which is on the north side of the Capitan Mountains in Lincoln County. This was in the spring of 1888. I went to work as a cow boy on the Block Ranch that spring. This was a very large ranch and was owned by the Thurber Brothers of New York City. I do not remember the exact length of time I worked them. I have worked for every big cattle company in Lincoln County. I have done nothing but punch cattle all my life. I never married and I just drifted from one place to another until the last ten years, when I got too old to ride the range.

At different times I have worked for the following ranchers. I was with the V V Cattle company, owned by James Greer and Son, and located on Little Creek, which is twenty-four miles south east of Carrizozo, New Mexico. This is the same ranch that was owned by Pat Garrett in the early days. I worked for the Bar W outfit, owned by W. C. McDonald, who was the first governor of New Mexico after it became a State. This ranch is located about three quarters of a mile west of Carrizozo, New Mexico.

I worked for Hatchet Cattle Company, owned by the Thatcher Brothers, of Pueblo, Colorado. This ranch is located about twenty eight miles south of Carrizozo at Three Rivers, New Mexico.

I worked for many years at these places. I have lived in Lincoln County for the past fifty years. Of all my family only my brother Tom, and myself are left. My two sisters died when they were both young. My brother still lives on our old home place at Richland Springs, Texas. I heard from him about a year ago. He has a big family, seven children, seventeen grandchildren, and seven great grand children. I lived all alone and find it hard to pass the time as I have cataracts on my eyes, and am pretty feeble. George Murray, Aged 74 years, Carrizozo, New Mexico.

George S. Brown
By Edith L. Crawford
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln, Eddy, De Baca, Chaves
Surnames mentioned: Brown, May, Bowman, Lee, Geronimo

I have lived in Lincoln County fifty-four years. I came here from Cedar Valley Missouri when I was six years old. There were twenty one wagons in our train when we left Cedar Valley for Mesa Arizona, in April 1884. My father Thomas M. Brown, my mother and four children traveled in four covered wagons drawn by horses. My mother's Father and Mother, Mr. and Mrs. David C. May, drove one wagon drawn by two white oxen. The rest of the crowd in the train were all uncles and aunts and cousins. They had their own covered wagons, drawn by mules. George Murray and his wife, they were relatives of my mother, drove a one horse buggy all the way through to Oklahoma, where they decided to locate. There were times when we were on our way that there would be as many as fifty wagons in our train. We would overtake some of them and some would overtake us and we would all go along together for awhile and then these other wagons would drift off on their own way, leaving us twenty-one again. We had two hundred head of stock cattle with us. My father and grandfather owned twenty-five of them. Each family had their own chuck box and cooking utensils, and at night when we made camp each family would build his own fire to cook on. We used buffalo and cow chips for wood on the plains. We made our own candles. Grandma May had a mould that you could make four candles at a time. She used any kind of tallow that she could get hold of and twine string.

It rained on us a lot on the first part of our trip but was awful dry on the plains in Texas. At night when we camped the men would form a circle with the wagons and put the families and work stock inside the circle and the men folks would stand guard over the cattle. We had to travel awful slow on account of our stock and ox teams. When we came to a river where we could fish we would stay over for several days and rest. The women folks would do their family washing and all the children that were big enough would go out and gather wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and wild plums and our mothers would make preserves out of them. The men folks kept us in meat most of the time by killing antelope and deer. We saw a few buffalo but they were so wild that the men could not got near enough to kill any of them. It rained most all the time on us while we were crossing through Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas. I remember when we crossed the rivers we would have to be towed across on ferry boat and it would take two and three days to get all the wagons and stock across. It was very hard to get the stock onto the ferry boats. We were always on the look out for Indians but were never molested by them. We saw our first Indians when we passed through the Cherokee Strip in the Indian Territory. Our cattle were quarantined on the line between Oklahoma and Kansas because they were covered with small ticks they claimed would cause a disease called bloody muddy, so my father and the rest of the men decided to sell all the cattle as they did not want to return for the cattle later on and they sold them at quite a loss. We went through Dodge City Kansas and crossed the line into Texas at Garden City Kansas. 

We passed through very few towns on our way out here and when we did come to a town we would always stop and buy groceries. All of our water buckets, kegs, wash tubs, dish pans and one flour barrel were made by my Mother's Uncle Jack Bowman, out of red cedar that came from our farm in Missouri and were hand made. He used copper bands to hold them together. We were six months on the road. I remember that we crossed the Canadian River of Texas. It was running bank full when we got there and we had to stay a week before we could get across, as there were no ferry boats to cross on. It was quite a cattle country and there were lots of cow boys around. They had a dance one night while we were there and invited us all to come. Grandmother May and Mother and several of the other ladies had never seen any one dance before so they decided to go and see what it was like. The first dance was a waltz and when the couples got up and the men put their arms around the women and started to dance Grandfather May came over to Grandmother and said, Let's get out of here, for this is no place for us, so they all got up and left. The river was still pretty high when we left there so the cowboys tied ropes to the wagon tongues and helped us to cross. One of the small mule teams fell down in the middle of the river and the family that was in the wagon came pretty near getting drowned, but there were about twenty cowboys who helped us across so that there was not very much danger of anybody getting drowned. We came through the XIT pasture which was on the staked plains in the western part of Texas. 

We saw lots of antelope and cattle in this pasture. The next town that we came to was Fort Sumner, New Mexico. When we crossed the Pecos River it was up, but we had met up with Oliver M. Lee and his half brother some where in Texas and they helped us to cross the river. They were coming to New Mexico with a herd of about three hundred horses. They left our wagon train after crossing the Pecos river and we did not see them again until years later. We came on to White Oaks, New Mexico and camped at the Manchester Rock House, about three miles from the town of White Oaks. Father decided to stay in White Oaks for awhile as he liked the country and old Geronimo was on the war path and was somewhere between New Mexico and Arizona and Father was afraid to take a chance of going on into Arizona. Father began to haul freight from Socorro, New Mexico to White Oaks for the mines. He hauled the first mining machinery that was brought into White Oaks, for a man by the name of Glass who put in a stamp mill there. We lived at White Oaks for about two months and then Father bought a place on Tortolito Canyon which means Turtle Dove that is about ten miles southeast of Carrizozo, New Mexico, and at the foot of Nogal Peak. We moved there in October 1884. We farmed some and Father freighted for Lincoln, Fort Stanton, Nogal and White Oaks. He bought two big schooner wagons and twenty head of oxen. He could haul a car load of flour in the two schooners and that is why he had to use that many oxen to pull the loads. The house on the Tortolito place was a three room house built out of pickets and mud, and one adobe room built about six feet from the picket house. We older boys cut wood from the mountain side and Father hauled it to Fort Stanton and sold it for us. Source: George S. Brown.

The Golden Image
By Lorin W. Brown
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Santa Fe
Surnames mentioned: Torrez, Pankey

Don Higinio Torrez had just returned from the Salt Lakes near Williard. Through some arrangement with a friend from Chimayo, he had made this last rip trip in a little truck. Knowing that this was Higinio's first ride in any kind of an automobile I had gone to greet him on his return and also to hear his account of his trip. It was bound to be humorous as were all his conversations.

The whole village loved this old gentleman because of his entertaining qualities. His humble little home was always crowded during the long winter evenings when Higinio was in his element singing songs and spinning tales. Any incident which he chose to relate, however commonplace would be related in such a humorous way as to keep his audience doubled up with laughter.

Another function for which Higinio was much sought after was that of resador or leader of prayers at a wake or at the deathbed of one for whom there was no time to call the priest as a recompense for his indispensability to the community Higinio was usually elected Justice of the Peace. Occasional cases brought before him should have brought him in some spending money from the fees due the Justice of the Peace. But Higinio's good hearted endeavors were usually extended towards a settlement out of court. As an extra inducement he usually would agree to forego any court costs so that really the position of Justice of the Peace was only an honorary position with rarely any monetary remuneration. As an added source of income Higinio would bring in salt from the salt lakes and yeso or plaster of paris from near Cienega.

These commodities he would trade for grain, beans or whole wheat flour, measure for measure. These trading activities brought him in the necessary food for himself and his diminutive wife. So on the whole he lived well according to his simple wants and he enjoyed life whole heartedly. So this evening of his return I found that others of the village had preceded me and his house was already full of his neighbors, their children and his grandchildren.

Buenas tardes Don Higinio, como le fue en su viaje? was my greeting as I entered. Bien amiguito, Very well my friend. We flew all the way, Look you, we stopped to eat lunch the first day where I used to camp on my second night when I went in my wagon and team. What wonderful things these automobiles are. And that evening we arrived early at the Lakes. And now you have me back here on the evening of the second day with a load of as white and pure salt as I have ever brought back.

Now you all know it used to take me a week to make the trip with my little team staying the first night at Santa Fe and the second night I usually camped at San Cristobal near that old Indian village. You know that during the war I made a trip for salt and on the second day I camped as usual near San Cristobal. I noticed when I was making camp a group of men near the old church. They went by my camp as I was getting supper and I noticed they were covered with dust. Soon my little grandson Remigio came back from picketing the horses where they could graze.

What could those men be doing digging near the old church, grandpa. Quien sabe, hijo, how many were there? There were four and a fat Americano was watching them, replied Remigio. Well let's eat supper and then we will go see, I promised.

It was still light as we neared a large hole back of the church ruins. We had nearly reached the edge of the hole when a big fat Americano stepped around the corner of the church. He had a rifle with him and asked us, What do you want, what are you doing here? Nada Senor, just wondering what those men were digging here for. A well, perhaps? was my reply.

Yes, a well, and you had better leave, you have no business here. Where are you from was his angry reply. We are from Quemado and are camped over here on the stream. We are leaving in the morning. Well see that you leave in the morning and don't come snooping around here again. With that reply he waved us away.

We went back to camp wondering what they could be digging for, maybe one of those springs which the Ondians stopped up when they left, or maybe digging up graves. Why couldn't they leave the poor dead Indians in peace. Next morning as we were preparing to harness our horses this same fat Americano came up to our camp. He was smiling wildly now and gave us good morning very pleasantly. Amigo are you in a very big hurry to leave, if you are not I can give you maybe two days work. Only one of my men came back this morning to help. The rest of the tontos are afraid of being bewitched. They don't like digging in this Indian pueblo If you will help me I will pay you well and give you some corn for your horses.

Well my poor horses were thin and there was good grazing around the camp. The Buffalo grass was this high and I could use the money which I would earn. So taking the harness off the horses I agreed to work. I was curious to see what was going on.

The Americano went with me to the old church and getting me a shovel I started digging with my compadero a man from Galisteo I can't remember his name. Near noon the Senor Americano easured the depth of the hole and shook his head and cursing started measuring from the corner of the church. You fellows eat your lunch and we will try another place afterward. Sure enough after lunch he had marked another spot a few feet from where we had dug before.

All that day and the next day we worked hard and the fat Americano didn't help us any. He was too fat for work. Towards evening of the second day we struck some poles laid crosswise in the earth. Now the fat man was all excited. He almost fell in the hole trying to tell us how to dig. Following his Instructions we dug around the cedar poles and lifting them up carefully uncovered a sort of pit walled and floored with the same kind of cedar poles. In it were several objects wrapped in buckskin and tied around with thongs. As I was lifting the largest of these out, and it was very heavy, the buckskin wrappings came loose and it fell back in the hole leaving the buckskin in my hands.

I stooped down to pick it up, and you will not believe me but it was a golden image of San Cristobal about so large. Here Higinio extended his hands to indicate the size of the image. From this judged the size of the image to be about eighteen or twenty inches. Did you get to see any of the other articles and do you thing it was made of gold? I asked.

No, I didn't get to see the other objects only as I could feel them faintly thru the buckskin. The Americano seemed angry because we had seen what we had and told us to put the other things outside the hole near the edge. After he was sure we had taken every thing out he told us to climb out. This is all the work, men I will pay you now. You had better leave right away. He gave me ten dollars for my work, more than I had expected. How much he gave the other man I don't know. What did the other objects feel like, was my next question.

Oh some felt like big cups and plates others just like heavy bars. There were not many and none weighed as much as the gold image, if it was gold, was the old man's response. On the way past my camp I asked my companero from Galisteo who the Americano was. He called him El Panquere something like those little tortillas I ate in a restaurant once. It was not hard to figure out that the name hinted at as Pancake must be Pankey.

Perhaps I was right, though I have heard nothing more to confirm the old man's tale. If his account is true this may explain Mr. Pankey's financial standing of later years.

Every time I pass that place I remember about that golden image I suppose the priests buried it there to hide it from the Indians, Quien Sabe, but how did this Americano know where to dig for. The tale is true that when God was passing out gifts to the different races he granted Los Americanos the gift or riches which they asked for. And we Mexicanos we asked for enjoyment of life in the form of wine, women and song. That is why we find ourselves so poor but always enjoying life.

Mrs. Frances Totty
By Lorin W. Brown
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Grant
Surnames mentioned: Shackleford, Blevins, Bruce, Whitehall

I first passed through this country with my father, Uncle Bob and John Shackleford, who afterward died on Duck Creek in the summer of 1849. The caravan was mostly southerners. We outfitted in Westorn, Missouri, and came up the Platte and to Denver, a city only in name, and them then on to Santa Fe, where a part of our original party left us. We came out as far as Santa Fe without any mishap and with only one incident worthy of note. A professional gambler by the name of Elroy was along with the train, and he lost no time in getting acquainted and after the first few week's had skinned the boy's pretty much out of their change and loose personal property. He soon became so unpopular that few of the men would speak to him, and no one asked him to eat in their mess.

There was a correspondent of the New Orleans Picayune along, by the name of Racy Burns. He was young rather pert and decidedly unpopular. One day when we were camped on the Platte Blevins remarked that, He did not believe there was a virtuous woman in the world. No one said a word for a moment, but all realized that something terrible was about to happen. It was in the air and communicated from man to man like and an electric current.

Finally Elroy who was sitting alone under a tree, got up and remarked that he had a mother and sister back home. He picked up a shot gun and beat young Blevins up so badly that he died next morning about daybreak.

That morning we dug a shallow grave in the sands of the Platte, and not a single tear was shed, or prayer said, as we lay the young blasphemer away forever. Elliot the gambler who we all despised from that time on was the hero of the hour. He was elected captain of the train before we broke camp, and it was considered an honor to have him dine at anyone mess more than one meal in succession.

Santa Fe was then in the zenith of her glory. Great freight teams were arriving and departing daily. It seemed to be general headquarters for the whole western country, and there was no end of it's gambling and wealth. Our captain left us there. Thirty-nine of us came on down to Socorro where we made a slight halt to rest out our team. Under the guidance of some friendly Indians we came on across the country to the mountains and from there to Santa Rita, following an old Indian trial now known as Camp Villines. There were no Mexicans at Santa Rita, they having long since been driven out of the country by the Indians.

The old dumps still appear just about as they are today, but the kneeling nun was fully as high as the main cliff. From there we passed on down the Whitewater to Hudson's Springs where we camped for two week's. The country was literally full of wild horses and cattle, and antelope and deer could be seen in any direction. Hudson's Springs used to be called Ojo Toro, or bull spring, deriving its name from the large number of wild bulls that drank there daily.

The warm springs now owned by Head and Hearst's were called Ojo Bernado, deer Deer springs, while the spring still further to the southwest was called Ojo Vaca, cow springs. A name which is retained to this day. It seemed to me the water of Hudson Spring's was much warmer than it is today. I remember that we would kill and draw a rabbit, fill it with a little bacon and salt, shove it far down in the springs, and in an hour or so it was well cooked. The boy's never built a fire to make their coffee or tea, the water was warm enough for that.

Tens of thousands of quail and rabbits came in every evening to get water and you bet we lived fat while we were there. One fellow who was a sort of a wag suggested that when the country settled up we could come back and organize the Toro Soup Company. He said it would be such an easy matter to throw in some cattle and pipe the soup out over the plains. Poor fellow he famished a few day's after that for water on the plains south of where Lordsburg now stands.

Our Indians would go no farther than Hudson, but put us on the trail to Ojo Vaca, but the country was so badly cut up by cattle trails that we missed the springs and for two and a half day's and two nights we traveled on and on without water. He who has not been there cannot imagine the extreme torture of thirst.

Well we finally arrived at Santa Dominga ranch, now known as Cloverdale. Two of our men and thirty-seven head of horses perished on the trip. There was no one living there then, but there was the remains of a corral and some peach trees. The Indians had driven the people away or killed them. We found the water by watching the wild cattle.
Mr. H. Whitehall, 1st Sheriff of Grant Co., told to H. A. Bruce.

H. M. Pyle
By Mrs. Belle Kilgore
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Curry
Surnames mentioned: Pyle, Smith

Mr. Pyle was born near Quincy, Adams County, Illinois, in 1851 and moved to Texas with his parents near Bonham, Texas. He was educated in Texas and Arkansas, and taught school near Fort Smith, Franklin county Arkansas for six years. He came back to Texas and Married Miss Mary Ann Smith. He taught school in Texas twenty-four years and in Oklahoma three years and in New Mexico twenty more. He filed on land in 1906 in Grady, New Mexico. He was probate judge from 1926 to 1930 in Curry county and was elected to the legislature in 1931 and served one term.

We have seen the development of this county and have had some very good times and some lean years. But this country has the kind of history that is common to all of the southwest. It is settled up by pioneers from nearly all the states. Most of my teaching has been in the rural districts, and it is with pride that I note the development of the consolidated districts. Curry county can point with pride at having some of the best rural district schools in the United States. Mr. Pyle is writing a history of the county and city in which he has lived so long. I have not been able to finish my interview with him on account of his illness and absence from home.