Return to Main Page

Return to Family History Index 

Family History Stories Paraphrased
Page 8 of 38

Mrs. Ed Pennington age 84
Mrs. Tom Johnson
Old Albuquerque
Robert Golden Part I
Robert Golden Part II

Begin Family Histories:

Mrs. Ed Pennington
By Frances E. Tetty
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Luna
Surnames mentioned: Pennington, Geronimo, Cooke, (or Cook), Miles

In the spring of 1883 we left Little Rock, Arkansas and came to Las Vegas where we only stayed a short time. Her husband came to Las Vegas in January and when he sent for me in the spring he wrote and said for God’s sake bring some table clothes, for all they know out here is oil cloth and I had rather run my hand over a snake then feel it. He brought only a few pieces of silver and dishes and these table cloths. We had been in Las Vegas only a short time, and decided that the climate was not going to do us any good as we were both had sneezing. My husband decided to come to Deming, and as he was a newspaper man he bought out the Headlight, and later the Deming Tribune and Headlight Democrat and combined them all three into one paper.

The Indians under Geronimo had been causing the settlers a lot of trouble stealing horses and killing people that were not around town. The people of Deming united and began to drill run] out the Indians as they were tired of the depredations and raids. General Cooke never did have a chance to catch the Indians as his men rode large cavalry horses and the small pintos of the Indians soon left the soldiers behind, and if they were pushed to hard the warriors took to the hills to escape.

The people had been training and drilling for around ten months when they decided it was time to take things in their hands and wipe out the Indians. Word reached Washington of their preparations, and General Cooke was called to Washington and General Miles sent out to take his place. General Miles had Geronimo in less then two months. It took several special guards besides the soldiers to keep the people from mobbing the Apaches as they were being taken to Fort Sill.

When my husband came to Deming he said that he though Las Vegas was the end of civilization, but Gold help this country. When we arrived here he had rented us a room for thirty dollars a month, and we had to carry water three blocks. I have some pictures taken of the Indians on the war path with their bodies panted and the trousers that the government had given them, cut off above the knees. In the day time we would watch them on the mountains with the field glasses and at night could see their fires.

When my husband left the house he always locked me and the children and told us to not get out. It wasn't only the Indians that he was afraid of, but as there were always fights on the street he was always afraid that we could be hurt. One night the people in town became tired of the crowd that was always shooting up the town and killed seven and left them lying on the steps of the station. By the year of 1885 it was for a woman to go anywhere. I have ridden the range more than one day hunting cattle and our horse. I owned one of the two Arabian horses in this country, and was not afraid to go any where. I had a friend that I rode with a lot and we would go to anyone’s ranch and stop, and take a meal and go on our way. People were living in all kind of make shift houses when we came in here. One family up on the hill was living under a piece of oil cloth stretched over two poles with a hole cut in the oil cloth to put the stoves pipe through. This family lived in this place for over a year.

Mrs. Tom Johnson
By Mrs. W. C. Totty
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
County: Luna
Surnames mentioned: Johnson, Washburn

We used to get quite a few scares in the early days. One morning while I was living on the Washburn Ranch, Fido a small dog of mine kept growling and bristling up his hair Fido what's the trouble? I asked. Fido looked at me as if to say stay in the house. I went around to all of the doors and fastened them for just a day or so before the Apache Indians had been seen. In about an hour I heard a knock on the front door. I went to the door there stood an Indian brave without any clothes, but a breach cloth and a pair of moccasins. I asked, What do you want?

The brave rubbed his stomach and said Hungry and Pointed to his mouth. I understood him to mean he wanted food. I gave him all of the bread that I had, a pound of coffee some sugar and milk. I then pointed out to the line where I had some forty or fifty pounds of jerky hanging on the line and handed him a sack. He went out to the line and took every piece of meat off the line. I was afraid to make a protest as I knew there were Probably other braves near the house. The old brave came to the house and said, Shake, and stuck out his hand. I replied, Go on away.

The Indian bowed his head to the ground got up crossed himself and left. A few hours later on going to the spring my husband and I saw tracks all around the spring as if there might have been twelve or fifteen braves at the spring, who had waited while the old brave came up to the house after food. A few days after the old brave was at our house everything seemed so still even the air seemed to be held in suspense. My husband happened to look out the front and saw something moving. He told me to take the baby and crawl through the yard and up the canon. I got some quarter of a mile from the house before I ever stood up to walk.

Geronimo’s Indians had been causing some trouble and we were so sure that the thing Tom saw was an Indian we didn't think to investigate, when Tom saw that a donkey had only strayed out close to the house he started up the canon after me. In those days people did call as we never know when Indians were around.

When I heard my husband coming up the canon I thought the Indians had discovered me and I started up the canon as fast as I could go. I ran until I felt that I couldn't go any farther, I stumbled, but got up and went on. The last I remembered was a hand grasping me by the shoulder. When I came to I was at home in bed. My husband was sitting by the side of the bed. I asked, What happened?

Tom said, I chased you up that canon for a couple of miles. I overtook you just as you fainted. As soon as I discovered that our Indians were donkeys I started out to overtake you, but was afraid to call you, but it looked as if I was going to be unable to overtake you until you fainted. You sure can run.

Well anyone can when they think their life is at stake, I returned. I was in bed two weeks as my feet were so cut, and swollen, that I couldn't walk. There wasn't a inch of my body that hadn't been scratched by the brush and rocks in my flight.

Old Albuquerque
By B. W. Kenney
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Bernalillo
Surnames mentioned: Huning, Meyer, Wallace, Greer, Hubbel, Wilkinson, McRae, Rosenwald, Crawford

In 1886 Franz and Charles Huning opened a store in Old Albuquerque, with a general stock of everything from drugs to furniture and clothing. Difficulties entailed in hauling the goods west from Kansas City and St. Louis made for limited stocks of merchandise, especially furniture which is bulky and more easily broken in transit. Some indication of the furniture shortage is found in the remarks of Mrs. Pauline Meyer, who arrived in Old Town in 1875.

Speaking of the event Mrs. Meyer said: We came by train from San Francisco to Pueblo, Colorado, then the rest of the way by covered wagon. Coming down from Pueblo to Albuquerque we were most fearful of Indian attack. No fires were built and we had to make out best we could for several days until we got out of the danger zone and into New Mexico. There were very few white women in the little village that was the Albuquerque of 1875. There were only the flat-roofed adobe, we called them mud houses, for no other types of house were built here at that time.

Mr. Franz Huning found a house for us. It was part of a larger house we call an unfurnished apartment now. But I was well pleased because it had a board floor. Few houses had wooden floors, and to me a mud house was bad enough without mud floors, too.

Just to show the difference in travel as it is now, I remember we once drove to Bernalillo seventeen miles with a fast team and buggy. It took us four hours and now they make it in fifteen minutes in those fast cars. But anyway, the lady I called on that day was so surprised to see visitors from such a long ways off, she dropped a layer cake on the floor. She was just taking the cake from the oven as I came up to the door. Seeing me and knowing I had come all the way from Albuquerque. It was such a surprise she dropped the cake from sheer excitement.

Mr. and Mrs. Meyer later moved from Old Town to a ranch south of town. It was there that the author of Ben Hur, Lew Wallace, paid them a visit. Governor Wallace, Territorial Governor at that time, was on he way to visit different Indian Peublos in connection with government affairs. I remember it all very well, Mrs. Meyer recalled. My husband had just returned from a hunting trip when a government wagon with four handsome mules drew up in front of the house. It was Governor Wallace's outfit. It was a chilly October day and as the sun went down it grew chilly enough for a fire. I was amused by the Governor's behavior which exemplified our idea of southern gallantry. First I obtained the necessary kindling and other necessities for the fire. These I placed in position, ready for lighting. All this time Governor had been watching me as I went about the task. Then, just as I started to strike a match to light the blaze, Lew Wallace took the match from my fingers.

Allow me, said he with a slight bow. No lady has yet lit a fire while I was in the room. And with that he struck the match and set it to the paper beneath the kindling. He made quite a ceremony of the match striking. After Lew Wallace had gone I reminded my husband of his gallant act. Huh, my husband scoffed jokingly. If he was so gallant as all that, why in thunder didn't he carry in an armload of kindling for you! He sat there and let you do all the work, then he ups and strikes the match with a big to-do, just as if he'd done something wonderful.

Of course I couldn't help but agree with my husband, though of course I never let him know it. Sheep Wool industry: Albuquerque and the surrounding county have always held a ranking position in sheep raising. The surrounding mesas offer excellent forage, and until recent years when fences begun to cut up the pasturage, this region was a great wool center. Sheep growing had become a enterprise by 1870. Wool was carted to Albuquerque from miles around. Huge sacks of wool piled high in lumbering wagons and drawn by oxen moved slowly over roads that were little more than trails. The ox-team freight trains we at times more than a half mile in length. Albuquerque drew from a very extensive territory, from districts that are now known as Catron, Lincoln, McKinley and Sandoval counties.

J. B. Greer, Mariano, Solomon, Frank Hubbel, and others numbered their sheep in thousands. And millions of pounds of wool came into Albuquerque for storage and shipment. Many were the tricks employed by dishonest wool sellers. Rocks were often put into the wool sacks to increase the weight. In time it was discovered by the simple expedient of sorting the wool and feeling for hard lumps. But the sharp practice was continued with improved technique. Fine sand was used, dispersing it through the wool to conceal it, but adding weight to the sack's contents.

In 1896 Grant, James Wilkinson and Louis McRae established the first wool scouring plant in the city. This plant scoured on an average more than five million pounds of wool each year. The scouring plant continued until 1912, when new methods of wool combing made it impracticable to scour at a profit. Wool can be shipped in the grease, not scoured, because of modern shipping facilities and speed in handling the raw product. Other old timers in the wool business include several brothers, whose firm later moved to Boston where it still exists. Rosenwald brothers, the picturesque Jack Crawford, and many others of equal renown. In its hey-day, the wool business brought much money and many big dealers to the city.

Former Flood Menace:
Until recently portions of the city were menaced by floods with each spring rise of the Rio Grande. Melting snow in the Colorado mountains together with spring rains cause the river to reach flood stage. High water formerly flooded all the low-lying areas in the river bottoms near the city. In early days the Rio Grande had a habit of choosing a new course almost at will. Breaking through its banks upstream. The river often chose a new path southward, sometimes passing through the center of the town.

In 1874 such a flood occurred, and a new channel was out through Albuquerque, supposedly about where third street is now. At another time part of the river flowed along where the railroad tracks are now laid.

Eastward, cloudbursts and heavy rains in the mountains often sent floods pouring down into the lower levels, bringing enormous amounts of silt and earth from higher points. So that while the Rio Grande invariably carried away much topsoil, the mountain floods generally replaced it with rich loam from the mountain areas. The citizens were not surprised when, in 1885, a survey showed that the streets were some three inches higher than when first laid out a few years before. The mountain floods were as beneficent as the Rio's were destructive, the former more than offsetting the latter.

In later years corrective measures were taken to deepen and straighten the Rio Grande to force it to cut its own channel and cease making trouble each spring when on rampage. Storm sewers diversion canals and other means removed all danger from both the river and the freshets which come rushing down from the Sandias with each heavy rain in the highlands.

Robert Golden I
By Frances E. Totty
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Grant
Surnames mentioned: Golden, Graham, Bullard

We left Juarez, Meico Mexico in 1870 and came to Grant county in a wagon train. Our first stop in the county was at Hudson Hot Springs, the present Faywood Hot Springs. In the early days people had to make for known water holes as water was scarce in the territory. The Membres River was known as the lost river for there were only certain places that it flowed above the ground. Many travelers missed the river and some were known to perish from thirst. The Faywoood Hot Springs in the early days were very hot. We hooked a string to some meat and dropped it into the springs and it was soon cooked. Bacon was smoked by sticking a piece on a sharp stick and being held in the springs. When the springs were cemented in 1893 by A.R. Graham, he pumped part of the water out of the springs and discovered many relics. Among them were stone hammers, flint and bone implements, copper spoons, and earthen vessels. Human bones were found, jaw bone and a skull. There have been a number of stories told about the Springs. One that the Indians took their victims as well as the members of their tribe that they wished to dispose of and threw them in the springs. There is some doubt that the stories is true, but it is a fact that at one time a cavalry unit was detailed to go to the springs to warn a Dutch family that the Indians were near, as the Apaches were headed toward the old settlers home stead. The cavalry trooped camped at the springs and the Indians not knowing that soldiers were in the vicinity. About daylight the band of savages swooped down from the adjacent hills, expecting to surprise the Dutch family, but the surprise came the other way for the cunning savages were met with a warm reception, by a volley from the soldiers.

One Indian fell wounded near the springs; while the other wounded were carried away by the Indians they were unable to get the Indian that fell near the springs. A soldier saw the Indian lying near the springs, and before any one could stop the soldier he picked up the Indian and threw him in the springs. The soldier was court marshaled for this cruel offense, but was acquitted. The Indians in the early days went to the springs for bathes when they were ill and it was said that the tribe once a year all camped at the springs a took steam baths, by building adobe houses and placing hot rocks on the inside then throwing blankets over the hot stones, and then the patient went into the room and laid on the hot rocks until he began to perspire.

When we came on to the Cienga, the present Silver City, there were a few Mexican people scattered around. A large spring was where the Big Ditch is today, and where main street was in the 1870's. At the East end of Broadway, where the armory now stands, the Indians would creep up and try to kill the people that camped at the spring. There was a standing reward that every time anyone brought in the head of an Indian or other evidence that he had killed an Apache he would get ten dollars. The Indians caused a great deal of trouble during the early days, but we early settlers caused them quiet a lot of worry after we became used to their customs.

Where the Masonic Hall now stands was the town corral, all of the stock in the town was placed in this corral at night for protection. One time, Indians slipped up to the corral one night and by the means of pouring water over the wall and drawing a rope back and forth cut an opening in the wall and drove all of the stock away. A party was formed at once to go after the stock. John Bullard was killed and the present Bullard Peak is where he was killed. Bullard was killed when he stooped over an Indian to see if he was dead, the Indian raised up and took and shot Bullard through the heart. The town never was able to keep many horses around as the Indians usually got them by some means.

Robert Golden II
By Edith L. Crawford
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln
Surnames mentioned: Golden, Lesnett, Mill, Augustine, Bonney, McSween, Morton, Murphy, Olinger, Garrett, Brewer, Coe, Dowlin, Mae, Bell

Early in the spring of 1876, Frank Lesnett, and I were united in marriage in the city of Chicago Illinois, after a joyous honeymoon, my husband left me in Chicago, he came west and settled on the Ruidoso, located at the foot of the White Mountains, he bought a half interest in the Dowlin Mill, and sent for me. I came by train to La Junta Colorado, and from there by stage to Fort Stanton, where my husband met me and we drove on to our ranch home. When I arrived at the ranch I was happily surprised: It had every thing to do with there was a river running near the big two story adobe house that was called the Ruidoso, which means noisy in Spanish. There were tall pine trees and wild flowers, that were of so many varieties and colors that I would not even attempt to name them, all around everywhere. The ranch was beautiful!

I was very happy in my new home, and to add to our happiness a son was born to us during the first year, whom we called Irvin. The only thing to mar my happiness was the Indians would go on the warpath, and the Lincoln County war, was brewing. In the spring of 1878, I took my young son and went to visit the proud grandparents of Irvin in Chicago. When I returned I found that Frank had built a general store and hotel, so that I would not get as lonesome as I seemed to before I left.

I insisted on taking charge of it myself, but my trade in the store soon grew until I had to have a helper. Most of my customers were the neighboring ranchers and Indians, but the red men were very orderly around the Mill, because they were treated with respect, they appreciated this and never harmed us in any way. Of course, the Indians were not supposed to have firewater, but they always managed to get it in some way. There was a band of thieves who were preying upon the Indians as well as the various ranchers within a few days ride. The Indians went on the war path and were having one of their dances to ward off the evil spirits and the Chief, Augustine, came to the mill and wanted some firewater, I told him I just couldn't give him any as I would get in trouble, but he begged so hard and said he would never tell where he got it, so I finally told him I would put it in a certain place, and he could go and get it. Augustine took the whiskey.

That night the Indians and thieves met, and cattle stealing wasn't practiced quite so openly after that. I was so scared for fear my husband would find out that I had given Augustine whiskey, but he never did. I made a loyal friend out of this Indian and he gave me many lovely presents made by his tribe, among them was beautiful buckskin suit, moccasins and beads to go with it. I took it to Chicago on my next visit and wore it to a masked ball and won the prize.

When Jennie Mae, my second child, was about nine months old, The Kid came to our house. He came with a boy by the name of Jess Evans, and was introduced as Billie Bonney. Could this be the notorious Billy The Kid? I thought, surely not. Be looked just like any other seventeen year old boy, and not in the least like a desperado. He was very fond of children, and liked Irvin and Jennie Mae at once. He called my little boy Pardie and always wanted to hold the baby. He would take the two of them for a ride on his gray pony. He also had a little dog which was very spirited. He would jump up on the Kid until he would laughingly pull his gun and begin firing into the ground, the dog would playfully follow every puff of dust, yelping joyfully. Little did he realize that if one of those pellets of lead went amiss that he would be no more, but he was perfectly safe, as The Kid was one of the quickest, most accurate shots in the Southwest. He often said, however, that he wished he were as accurate with a six-gun as he was with a rifle. He was good with a pistol but excellent with a rifle.

I remember soon after the battle that was fought at Blazre's Mill, that Billy came to our house and was telling me about the fight they had with Buckshot Roberts. He said he heard the shooting and walked around the corner of the house to see what it was all about. One of his men called out to him, but not in time to keep Roberts from shooting at him. The bullet took a nick out of his shirt. During the battle Dick Brewer, wondering why Roberts didn’t shoot, peeked up over the wood pile and as he did so Roberts fired from the house, and Brewer fell, the top of his head shot off. Early in the battle Roberts had been shot thro’ the abdomen and was weakening rapidly. George Coe stuck his gun up to fire and Roberts shot, taking the thumb off as cleanly as a doctor could have done with his surgical knife. I said, Billy, don't you think that you did wrong when you killed Roberts? Well, I didn't start it, and I think that Brewer killed him, he answered sullenly. But it wasn't fair, seven to one. I protested. Well, he was spying on us. The Kid knew it wasn't fair, and he wanted to fight fair.

One incident at the close of the Lincoln County War, which was only one of the things which made it the bloodiest in the history of the West, the two sides, one for Law and the other for lawlessness, were engaged in a war in which almost every cattleman in the county was somehow involved. Strange as it may seem, the Kid, an outlaw joined the forces for law and order.

The lawless led by Morton, had driven the Kid and his band into the McSween home in Lincoln, the Kid having his forces organized, arranged the McSween home with loop holes, as he talked to McSween, who was very religious and always carried a Bible with him, he held out a gun toward him. McSween indignantly pushed it away, saying, I trust in the Lord, I know He will help me, bring me safely through. All right, you trust in your Bible, but I trust in my six-gun, replied The Kid cheerfully, patting it.

The McSween home was soon surrounded by the Murphy gang, and firing became very heavy, knowing that all the men would go down fighting, Mrs. McSween, decided to go to a troop of soldiers that she knew was near. She got out of the house, but when she arrived, the soldiers firmly refused to help to help her. Her journey had been in vain! But the soldiers did take an interest in the battle, and decided to go to Lincoln, to see the fight, Mrs. McSween seeing them, and thinking that they had changed their minds and had come to stop the fight, went out to meet them. After looking things over they decided that there was nothing they could do and retreated out of range of the bullets and watched the fight continue. Murphy's men knew that they would never get The Kid and his band unless they could drive them out of the house.

So they soaked a barrel with coal-oil and rolled it down the hill to set the house afire. The house began to burn, but the battle did not stop. The Kid kept moving his men from room to room until they reached the last room. He knew that they would have to take a desperate chance for their freedom. The only escape was to run across a thirty foot space behind the house, roll under the fence and go along the bed of the Bonito River.

He called his men to the back door and explained the plan to them. One by one they started for the fence, and one by one they fell, either dead or mortally wounded. At last McSween was to go.

Run out of that door like a streak of greased lightning, roll under the fence and hit for the Bonita River, they you'll see Mrs. McSween in the morning. As McSween reached the door he drew himself up every inch of his height, and stepped dignity onto the steps. Here I am. I'm McSween, he called in a listless voice, he knew what would follow. Fifty shots answered him and his body was riddled with holes. Then there was a lull in the fray. They knew who was coming next. The Kid hitched his belt a little tighter, inspected his guns, and with one in each hand ran through the blazing door. Immediately he was a target for every man in Murphy's gang, as someone yelled, Here comes the Kid.

Many bullets were wasted for the Kid, jumping from side to side as he ran, was a very illusive target. Each gun was aimed with care and each bullet winged with hatred as it sought to find a way to his heart as he crossed that space of thirty feet. But not one touched his body, though they ripped his clothes to shreds. His score was one dead and two marked for life, one shot through the jaws and the other lost the lobe of his left ear. As he rolled under the fence a mocking laugh floated back to them. It is impossible to describe the horror of the deeds that were committed during the Lincoln County War.

Many unknown graves dot the surrounding country and many human bones lie bleaching in the sun for they carried on guerrilla warfare. When one party met the other while riding through the hills they just opened fire, either pushing forward or retreating as luck chanced to given them opportunity to do. If all the men were accounted for their graves might reach from Roswell to White Oaks. One evening when it was peaceful and quite on the ranch and all retired, the silence was broken by a series of shots in quick succession. I snatched Jennie Mae and Irvin from their beds and ran towards the river. As I approached the great triangle used to call the cowboys to meals, I paused to give it several strikes, but this was not necessary for the men were already on their stomachs working their way toward the house.

Thinking that Indians has attacked, they had hardly started toward the house, when the firing ceased as quickly as it has began. When the men got into the house and looked around, they found that a box of cartridges that had been on top of the mantle had been knocked by something into the fire. When I told the Kid about this he asked me if I had a gun.

Heavens, no, I replied laughing, I wouldn't know how to shoot even if I had one. Take this one, he said, holding one of his guns out to me, and I'll teach you to shoot when I come back. Poor boy never came back to our house, the next time I saw him he was a prisoner, guarded by Bell and Olinger. Olinger knowing that I liked The Kid, gleefully invited me to the hanging, I turned my head and blinked fast to keep back the tears. Suddenly The Kid turned to me and said Mrs. Lesnett they can't hang me if I'm not there, can they? I straightened and turned. Of course they can't, Billy, I said and it seemed to encourage him.

It was just a few days after this that The Kid killed his two guards at Lincoln, and made his escape. His freedom was not to last very long. Pat Garrett killed him at Fort Sumner, about two months later.