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Family History Stories Paraphrased
Page 17 of 38

Bill Hamlett
Elfego Baca
Elfego Baca II
Eugera Manlow Rhodes
Jose Garcia Trujillo

Begin Family Histories:

Bill Hamlett, Indian Village
By Frances E. Totty
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Socorro
Surnames mentioned: Hamlett, Ault, 

Some time ago I went out Ed Ault's place, three miles up the river on the right from Gila, about thirty miles from Silver City, to take several plows. When I arrived at the place I received one of the biggest surprises in my life. Ed had a fellow digging up a place for a garden, and that place was nothing more than an old Indian Village. I have quiet a collection of Indian materials and one and the only one yard in this country made up of Indian relic that are made of stone. I have spent many years collecting these stones in my yard, but the collection that Ed Ault was allowing to be destroyed was one of the most unusual collections that I ever witnessed.

Anything that caught the fancy of the teamster or Mr. Ault was salvaged, but otherwise the plow was allowed to just pass over the articles whether it be pottery or what not. Mr. Ault saved quit a few things and the fellow that did the plowing saved two truck loads of articles, and sent them back to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The articles that were plowed up were in an unusual good state of preservation especially considering that a plow had passed over them. One article that attracted my attention was a large bowl that contained some balls, this was by all indications a game of some kind, I have inquired around and another such a piece has never been found. The balls in the bowl were stripped one color of stripe running around the ball one way, and another color  running another, thereby the lines making squares. There are many pit dwellings in this district, but this is one village that the pottery was in different colors and seemed to be made by different methods. The place should have been made a study of as well as the relics saved instead they were ruined, and most of them destroyed. There were many skeletons in the village and if these were buried bodies or the place was destroyed by fire or some other means cannot be ascertained now for there wasn't any care taken when the houses were opened, but the wall were nicely laid, and many still remained in place after I was there, a thing that I noticed was that the corners were square. How these people made perfect squares is amazing. What were their tools? Were the civilized? I hope time will reveal more of these people that we find relics of every day. 

Elfego Baca
By Janet Smith
Project editor Ina Sizer Cassidy
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln, De Baca, Socorro
Surnames mentioned: Baca, Crichton, Manzano,Cordova, Saiz, Crichton 

I never wanted to kill anybody, Elfego Baca told me, but if a man had it in his mind to kill me, I made it my business to get him first.

Elfego Baca belongs to the six shooter epoch of American history. Those were the days when hard shooting Texas cowboys invaded the territory of New Mexico, driving their herds of longhorns over the sheep ranges of the New Mexicans, for whom they had little liking or respect. Differences were settled quickly, with few words and a gun. Those were the days of Billy the Kid, with whom Elfego, at the age of seventeen, made a tour of the gambling joints in Old Albuquerque. In the words of Kyle Crichton, who wrote Elfego Baca's biography, the life of Elfego Baca makes Billy the Kid look like a piker. Harvey Ferguson calls him a knight errant from the romantic point of view if ever the six shooter West produced one. And yet Mr. Baca is not a man who lives in his past.

I wonder what I can tell you, he said when I asked him for pioneer stories. I don't remember so much about those things now. Why don't you read the book Mr. Crichton wrote about me? He searched about his desk and brought out two newspaper clippings of letters he had written recently to the Albuquerque Journal an local politics. The newspaper had deleted two of the more outspoken paragraphs. Mr. Baca was annoyed.

I tried to draw Mr. Baca away from present day polities to stories of his unusual past, but he does not talk readily about himself, although he seemed anxious to help me. Elfego Baca is a kindly courteous gentleman who is concerned to see that his visitor has the coolest spot in the room.

He brought out books and articles that had been written about him, but he did not seem inclined to reminiscing and answered my questions briefly. Crichton tells about that in his book or Yes, I knew Billy the Kid.

Finally I asked him at random if he knew anything about the famous old Manzano Gang which I had frequently seen mentioned in connection with Torrance County. He replied that he broke up that gang when he was Sheriff of Socorro County.

There were ten of them, he said, and I got nine. The only reason I didn't get the other one was that he got over the border and was shot before I got to him. They used to go to a place near Belen and empty the freight cars of grain and one thing and another. Finally they killed a man at La Jolla. Contreros was his name. A very rich man with lots of money in his house, all gold. I got them for that. They were all convicted and sent to the Pen.

Mr. Baca settled back in his chair and made some remark about the late Senator Cutting whose photograph stood on his desk. I persisted about the Manzano Gang. I wish you'd tell me more about that gang. How you got them, and the whole story.

Well, he said, after that man Contreros was shot, they called me up at my office in Socorro and told me that he was dying. I promised to get the murderers in forty-eight hours. That was my rule. Never any longer than forty-eight hours.

Mr. Baca suspected certain men, but when a telephone call to Albuquerque established the fact that they had been in that city at the time of the killing, his next thought was of the Manzano Gang. Accompanied by two men, he started out on horseback in the direction of La Jolla.

Just as the sun was rising; they came to the ranch of Lazaro Cordova. They rode into the stable and found Cordova's son-in-law, Prancasio Saiz already busy with his horse. Good morning, said Elfego, what are you doing with your horse so early in the morning? Saiz replied that he was merely brushing him down a little.

Mr. Baca walked over and placed his hand on the saddle. It was wet inside. The saddle blanket was steaming. He looked more closely at the horse. At first sight it had appeared to be a pinto, white with brown spots. Mr. Baca thought he remembered that Saiz rode a white horse.

What happened to that horse? he asked. The man replied that the boys had had the horse out the day before and had painted the spots on him with a kind of berry that makes reddish, brown spots. Just for a joke, he added.

Where's your father-in-law? asked Mr. Baca. Saiz said that his father-in-law had gone the day before to a fiesta at La Jolla and had not returned. I understand you're a pretty good shot, said Sheriff Baca. You'd better come along, and help me round up some men I'm after for the killing of Contreros in La Jolla.

Saiz said that he had work to do on the ranch, but at the insistence of Mr. Baca, he saddled his horse and rode out with the three men. About as far as from here to the station, went on Mr. Baca, was a graveyard where the gang was supposed to camp out. I rode over to it and found where they had lunched the day before. There were sardine  cans and cracker boxes and one thing and another. Then I found where one of them had had a call to nature. I told one of my men to put it in a can. Saiz didn't know about this, and in a little while he went over behind some mesquite bushes and had a call to nature. After he came back I sent my man over, and by God it was the same stuff, the same beans and red chili seeds! So I put Saiz under arrest and sent him back to the jail at Socorro with one of my deputies, although he kept saying he couldn't see what I was arresting him for.

Mr. Baca and his other deputy proceeded in the direction of La Jolla. Before long they saw a man on horseback coming toward them. He was running that horse like everything. When we met I saw that he was a Texan. Doc Something or other was his name. I can't remember now. But he was a pretty tough man. You a Sheriff? he said to Mr. Baca. No, replied Mr. Baca, no, I'm not a Sheriff. Don't have nothing to do with the law, in fact.

You're pretty heavily armed, remarked the man suspiciously. I generally arm myself this way when I go for a trip in the country, answered Baca, displaying his field glasses. I think it's safer. Well, if you want fresh horses, you can get them at my ranch, a piece down the road, said the Texan.

Mr. Baca figured that this was an attempt to throw him off the trail, so as soon as the Texan was out of sight, he struck out east over the mountains for Manzano. Just as he was entering the village he saw two of the gang coming down the hill afoot leading their horses. He placed them under arrest and sent them back to Socorro with his other deputy.

It was about two o'clock in the morning when Mr. Baca passed the Cordova ranch again on his way back. He roused Lazaro Cordova, who had returned from La Jolla by that time, and told him to dress and come with him to Socorro. The old man didn't want to come, said Mr. Baca, and kept asking

What do you want with me anyhow?' I told him that he was under arrest, and on the way to Socorro I told him that unless he and his son-in-law came across with a complete statement about the whole gang, I would hang both of them, for I had the goods on them and knew all right that they were both in on the killing of Contreros. I put him in the same cell with his son-in-law, and told him it was up to him to bring Saiz around. They came through with the statement. I kept on catching the rest of the gang, until I had them all. All but the one who got himself shot before I caught up with him.

If you ever go to Socorro you ask Billy Newcomb, the Sheriff down there now to show you the records. You might see the place on the way down where they buried a cowboy I shot. It's a little way off the main road though.

That was a long time before I was a real Sheriff. In those days I was a self made deputy. I had a badge I made for myself, and if they didn't believe I was a deputy, they'd better believe it, because I made them believe it.

I had gone to Escondida a little way from Socorro to visit my uncle. A couple of Texas cowboys had been shooting up the town of Socorro. They hadn't hurt anybody that time. Only frightened some girls. That's the way they did in those days, ride through a town shooting at dogs and cats and if somebody happened to get in the way, powie! Too bad for him. The Sheriff came to Escondida after them. By that time they were making a couple of Mexicans dance, shooting up the ground around their feet. The Sheriff said to me Baca, if you want to help, come along, but there's going to be shooting.

We rode after them and I shot one of them about three hundred yards away. The other got away, too many cottonwood trees in the way. Somebody asked me what that cowboy's name was. I said I didn't know. He wasn't able to tell me by the time I caught up with him.

I asked what the Sheriff's name was, and when Mr. Baca said it was Pete Simpson, I said, The one you were electioneering for the time of the Frisco affair when you held off about 80 cowboys for over 36 hours. This is the one of Mr. Baca's exploits that has been most frequently written about.

Hell, I wasn't electioneering for him, he said. I don't know where they got that idea. I couldn't have made a speech to save my life. And I didn't wear a Prince Albert coat either. They didn't have such things in this country in those days. Is it true that you ate dinner afterward with French and some other men who had been shooting at you, and talked the affair over, I asked.

I ate dinner with some men afterward but I don't remember who they were now. I don't think that man French was there at all, although he must have been in the neighborhood, as he seemed to know all about it. But I don't remember him. Jim Cook was one that was shooting at me though. He was a pretty tough man, but he came near getting it.

He showed me a photograph which Jim Cook had sent him recently. The picture showed an old man who still looks as though he could not be easily trifled with. It was inscribed To Elfego Baca in memory of that day at Frisco.

Did you see the letter that Englishman wrote to Crichton? He wanted to hang me. Why don't you hang that little Mexican guy? he asked. I said, Why don't you be the one to do it? and then pulled my guns, and then he wasn't so eager. You know I surrendered only on condition that I keep my guns. They placed six guards over me, but they rode twenty-five steps ahead of me all the way to Socorro.  Those were great old days. Everything is very quiet now, isn't it? said Mr. Baca looking up. I think I'll run for something this fall, but I don't know what yet.

Elfego Baca II
By Janet Smith
Ina Sizer Cassidy
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln
Surnames mentioned: Baca, Fowler, Coleman, Hannett, Elfego, Leland 

When I went to see Elfego Baca the other day, he told me he had announced himself as candidate for district judge. In the old days, that was a pretty tough job, he said. Ninety per cent of the cases tried were either for murder or assault with the intent to kill or cattle stealing. There was a statute prohibiting any man from carrying a deadly weapon, but it didn't mean much. Any judge knew that the brother or the cousin of a sentenced man might take a shot at him when the court was over. Judge Leland, he took me along for a body guard when he first came out here from Toledo, Ohio.

It was July 1, 1898 when Charles A. Leland was appointed judge of the district which included Socorro, Eddie, Chavez and Lincoln counties. About a week after his arrival at Socorro, it became Judge Leland's unpleasant duty to go to Roswell to hold a term of the district court.

Judge Leland had heard stories of such men as Joe Fowler, who was reputed to have shot 13 men, and everyone of them in the back, and Henry Coleman who at one time had done a fine business in Socorro county by annexing his neighbor's cattle and shooting any who protested. Though Fowler was hung by an outraged mob, no jury ever found Coleman guilty of an unlawful act, and another ambitious young lawyer from Gallup, Arthur T. Hannett by name, had been unable to find an officer of the law who would serve a writ on Coleman.

I fixed him though, said Elfego, when I was Sheriff of Socorro County. I wrote a form letter to all the men who were wanted for arrest. I told them to come into my office and give themselves up, or I would come after them. They knew what that meant. You bet they didn't want me to come after them. Though Mr. Baca is an old man now, his long slanted eyes still narrow into an or else expression when he is speaking of such matters. Even Coleman, he came in and surrendered, but the jury wouldn't convict him. He was a pretty tough man and I guess they were afraid. He got his courage in a saloon. 

Judge Leland who had heard of the effect of even the name of Elfego Baca in dealing with such men, asked Mr. Baca, then a prominent attorney in Socorro, to accompany him to Roswell. He was allowed seven dollars a day for an interpreter. He offered Mr. Baca ten dollars a day from the day he left Socorro till the day he returned to go with him in this capacity. Mr. Baca was not particularly interested in such a trip but he thought it politic to agree to the judge's proposal.

When they reached Roswell Judge Leland engaged one large room with two beds in the hotel. He took Elfego to breakfast, dinner, and supper with him. During the first week he would hardly go to the corner store for a cigar or a newspaper without his interpreter. He intended that the old timers could identify Elfego Baca as his body guard.  

The first time that Elfego was able to get away by himself to a bar, two prosperous looking Anglos, whom he had seen frequently at court, asked him to drink with them. Tell him about it, one of them said after the third whiskey, Maybe he can help us.

One of their sheep herders; an Old Mexico Mexican, had been mixed up in a shooting scrap with   scrape with  another Mexican. The Justice of the Peace placed him under a bond of $2,000, which the tow   two  Texan sheep men had stood good for. The Mexican was to appear at this term of court but they had not seen him for over three weeks. 

Two thousand bucks shot to Hell, one of them said to Baca. The next time I to bail for another dirty bastard! Elfego though   thought  awhile and asked the gentlemen if it would be worth $500 to them to have him settle the case for them. The gentlemen from Texas said it would. When Elfego stipulated that the payment must be in advance and in cash they told him to come around to their hotel room that evening.

The next day Elfego set about earning his $500. He told Judge Leland the story. He took advantage of the law that money for fines as a penalty for carrying deadly weapons or for assault with deadly weapons should go to the school district where the violation of the law was committed, and told the Judge the school was about to close its doors for lack of funds. He asked him to impose a fine of $50 on the guilty Mexican. He neglected to add that the Mexican in question was missing.

The Judge replied that the matter must be taken up with the District Attorney. The District Attorney was new in office and easy to talk to. It was agreed that the defendant was to appear before court at 3 o'clock the next afternoon, when the Judge would impose the minimum fine of $50. Mr. Baca was to act as interpreter.

The next morning Elfego scoured the town. Mexicans from Old Mexico were rare in those days. Elfego searched the streets and inquired in the saloons. Finally he found one chopping wood. Elfego asked the Mexican if he would like a job. I have one job, said the Mexican pointing to the pile of wood.

Elfego explained that this would be a good job, an easy job, over in a few minutes, and it would pay $25. The Mexican looked incredulous, but he smiled and promised to meet Mr. Baca in front of the Court House at a quarter of three. Mr. Baca gave him simple instructions: The Judge will ask  me to read this paper which we call an indictment. After I read it he will ask you guilty or not guilty. You are to say guilty. That's absolutely all you have to do to get that $25. Just say guilty and not another word.

The Mexican understood. He smiled and bowed his head. At a quarter to three they met in front of the court house and Elfego slipped him the $50 to be paid to the clerk after the sentence. The Mexican carried out his instructions perfectly and with evident enjoyment.

Guilty, he smilingly replied to the Judge's question. Gracias, he answered when the Judge pronounced the $50 fine. The Judge was annoyed at this debonair reception of his sentence. I am going to make you Mexicans obey the law in this country, he said sternly, and the next time I find you in my court I am going to send you to the Penitentiary. Do you understand?

Mr. Baca translated: The Judge says that any time you Mexicans are not treated properly by the people in Roswell, you have only to let him know. The Mexican smiled. Gracias, he said again. Tell that Mexican, roared the Judge, Tell him that he has nothing to thank me for. Tell him that I don't like his looks. He looks to me like an outlaw and an imposter. I should presume from his appearance that he has escaped from some other country where he has no doubt committed some crime. Tell him that he would do well to stay out of my court hereafter.

Mr. Baca interpreted: The Judge says that he is very much impressed with your appearance. He also likes your court room manner. He sends his complements to your mother. Gracias, replied the irrepressible Mexican.

Impatiently the Judge dismissed court. The Mexican paid his fine to the clerk. Elfego Baca walked erectly down the aisle, the Mexican following close behind, his mind on the $25 he was to be paid. Directly in front of the Court House stood the two Anglos from Texas, talking in low tones. They called to Elfego and made him walk with them out of hearing of the passers by.

This is not the Mexican for whom we signed the $2,000 bond, one of them whispered in his ear. You made a mistake! What the Hell? said Elfego. What the Hell do you care? The case is settled, isn't it? He turned to the smiling Mexican and paid him his $25.

Eugera Manlow Rhodes
By Janet Smith
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln, Bernalillo
Surnames mentioned: Roosa, Manlove, Rhodes, Ostic

Interview with Howard Roosa
Yes, Mr. Roosa said to me, I am interested in the work of Eugene Manlove Rhodes. I have a copy of each of his books, but only one first edition. It's practically impossible to get first editions of Rhodes work. I know the western representative of Houghton is much interested in Rhodes and he says the first editions seem to have disappeared.

And it seems just as hard to find any real information about the man. As far as I know there are no tales, no legend that has grown up about him, as is the case with so many artists and writers. Perhaps that is because of the long period, twenty years I believe, during which Rhodes was absent from this country. Before he left he was just a cowboy. When he came back he was a writer. And during that long hiatus people had died and things had been forgotten. It may be that there were many things he would have wished to be forgotten. I have the impression that there was something mysterious about his leave taking, although I can't give you any authority for that impression. Anyhow, he was a man who never seemed to care to talk much about himself.

I saw Rhodes only once. The was   way  I met him was almost as curious as the meeting itself. I was staying at La Jolla which is not far from Pacific Beach, California, Rhodes home, you know, during his later years. It seems to me I heard he had to go to the coast for bronchitis. Well, anyway, I used to walk to the post office a distance of two or three miles. One day on the way back a man picked me up in his car. 

He was a nice fellow, a mail carrier, and we got to talking. I told him I was from New Mexico. And he told me that Eugene Manlove Rhodes was on his mail route and offered to show me where he lived. I had been interested in Rhodes and in collecting his work, so several days later I went to see him. I remember there was no one home at first, and I had to wait. Before long he came in with his wife. His wife was a charming woman, a very, well, I can't think of the words I want this morning, life , that's it, she was a very alive sort of person. She entered into the conversation, not to monopolize it you understand, but one was always aware of her presence. I tried to get Rhodes to talk about his work, and himself, but I didn't have much success that way. He talked to me about some woman in Cocorro whose writings about this country interested him. Can't remember her name now. 

Anyway, I wasn't much interested. We also talked about a number of books in which he was interested. I wish now I had had the foresight to make a list because it would have thrown light upon his reading interests. But I didn't and I can't remember one of them, all current works at the time and none of the things that particularly interested me. At that time a man in Los Angeles was planning to get out a ten volume edition of Rhodes work for fifty dollars. We talked about that and Rhodes agreed with me that The Little Rascal should have the ending used in the Saturday Evening Post version rather than the one he gave it in book form. He gave me the manuscript of In Defense of Pat Garrett. I don't have a very clear recollection of what Rhodes looked like. It was about ten years ago except that he was a little man, and he called me Misser, just  Misser, not Mister.

I don't believe his books ever achieved the popularity that they deserved. They were too sophisticated for the reader of wild western tales, and the more sophisticated reader has a prejudice against westerns and cowboy tales. But the cowboys liked his stories. You can't find a real old time cowboy who doesn't swear by Rhodes. They laugh at the average western tale, but Rhodes is the cowboy's author. I remember Charles Giringo saying that Rhodes stories were the real thing.

From something I've read of him, I can't recall just where I have the impression that Rhodes hated the task of composing. He was always very reluctant to get down to the actual writing. I had a housekeeper who claimed to have known him very well. She said he wrote lots of poetry. You know he always signed his poetry Gene Rhodes. I believe that his first interest in writing was in poetry, and that it was some time before he realized that fiction was more his medium. His poems seem to me jut versifying really, but there is poetry in his novels. Now you take that introduction to The Trusty Knaves about the cats, you remember.

I remember my housekeeper saying too that he was always reading. But that wouldn't have been unusual for a cowboy in the old days. They were all much more literate than people know. I believe it was Rhodes himself who told how they would got real literature from the soap companies, or maybe it was the coffee companies. Anyhow, some of these companies put out coupons which could be redeemed for paper covered copies of the classics Dickens, Shakespeare, and so on. It was these paper covered classics that furnished most of the cowboys' reading material in the old days.

I'm sorry that I can't give you more information about Rhodes, but I think that if you would go to see that old housekeeper of mine, Mrs. Ostic, and get her to talk to you, you might got some very interesting material. Interview with Howard Roosa, known as a collector of New Mexican.

Jose Garcia Trujillo
By Janet Smith
Ina Sizer Cassidy, State Director
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln, Socorro
Surnames mentioned: Trujillo, Chavez, Kid, Garrett, Garcia, Yrissari, Maxwell, Beaubien, Hipolyte, Trotier, Sieur de Beaubien, Armijo 

Jose Garcia y Trujillo doesn't believe that Billy The Kid was ever shot. He feels sure he got away to South America. He wouldn't be surprised if he is alive somewhere today, an old man with many memories and a quick mind, like himself. When I showed him a book by the man who killed Billy The Kid, he was unconvinced.
(Paraphrase's note: I have lived near Spanish people for many years, but I have never heard any of them speak as reported below. Many of these WPA stories must be considered suspect as to their factual reality. Further, many of the stories about Billy The Kid seems like they came from a comic book.)
No senora, and he shook his forefinger back and forth before his face. You think Billy The Keed let himself be shot in the dark like that? No Senora, Billy The Keed, never. I see Billy The Keed with these eyes. Many times, with these eyes. That Billy, tenia un' agilesa en su mente, en su menta aqui. He pointed to his forehead. Mr. Garcia could speak but little English, and I knew almost no Spanish, but I understood that he meant that Billy The Kid had an extraordinary quickness of mind.

Again he pointed to his forehead and then with a quick motion to the sky. Una funcion electrica, he said. Something that worked like lightning. When I stopped to see Mr. Garcia he was sitting on the ground under the cottonwood tree that shades the cracked adobe walls of his long narrow house. His hat was pulled down over his eyes and he seemed to be sleeping. As I stopped the motor of my car, however, he raised his head and pushed back his hat with one motion. He squinted at me, and then pulled himself to his feet.

Como le va, Senora. Mr. Garcia placed the one chair in the shade for me. He found a box behind a heap of wagon wheels and car fenders and sat down beside me. He squinted his long blue eyes and asked in Spanish, What's new?

I patted the black kitten stretched on a bench at my elbow. Beside it perched a cock and two hens. Two little brown dogs nosed at my shoes, and a big shaggy fellow laid his head against my arm. The flies buzzed. A thin dark old woman stepped over the little goat sleeping just inside the doorway of the house, its head resting on the doorstep. She gathered up some green chili from a table in the yard, giving me an intent look as she stood there, and went back into the house without saying a word. Mr. Garcia asked me again, What's new? You bring me those history books of Billy The Keed?

I showed him the picture of Pat Garrett who shot Billy The Kid. I don't want to dispute against you Senora, but in my mind which is the picture of my soul, I know it is not true. Maybe Pat Garrett, he give Billy The Keed money to go to South America and write that story for the looks. Maybe he kill somebody else in Billy's place. Everybody like Billy The Keed, su vista penetraba el corazon de toda la gentel, his face went to everybody's heart.

Mrs. Garcia came out again and sat on a bench beside her husband. Her skin looked dark and deeply wrinkled under the white towel she had wrapped about her head. She rolled a brown paper cigarette from some loose tobacco in a tin box. As her husband talked she listened intently, puffing on her cigarette. From time to time she would nod her head at me, her eyes dark and sombre. 

What did Billy The Kid look like? I asked. Chopito, a short man, but wide in shoulders and strong. His forehead was big. His eyes were blue. He wore Indian shoes with beads on his feet. His clothes, muy desareglado.

Desareglado? I asked. Like yours, he said, pointing to my blue denim skirt and shirt. Any old way. Muy generoso hombre, Billy The Keed, a very generous man. All the Mexican people, they like him. He give money, horses, drinks, what he have. To whom was good to Billy The Keed, he was good to them. Siempre muy caballero, muy senor, always very polite, very much of a gentleman.

Once lots of mens, they go together after Billy The Keed to shoot him. They pay us, we go, sure. But we don't want to shoot Billy. We always glad he too smart for us. In broken English, mixed with Spanish phrases, Mr. Garcia told me how he went in a posse of thirty-five or more men to capture Billy The Kid. He didn't know the Sheriff's name, but the description sounded like Pat Garrett himself. Muy, muy alto, very, very tall, and Pat Garrett was six feet, four and a half. Jose Garcia was working at the time as sheepherder on the ranch of Jacobo Yrissari, about ninety miles southeast of Albuquerque. The tall sheriff came by one day with a band of men, and offered him five dollars a day and food for himself and his horse to join the posse in search of Billy The Kid. He said he didn't think there was any danger of their getting Billy, and five dollars was a lot of money. The plan was to surround the Maxwell Ranch on the Pecos River, where Billy the Kid was known to spend much time. 

This ranch belonged to Lucien Maxwell. Un hombre muy grande, un millionairio, said Jose Garcia. Lucien Maxwell was indeed one of the most striking figures of the early mountain frontier. Every trader and plainsman in the Rocky Mountain Region knew him. He came to New Mexico from Illinois when the country was still a part of Old Mexico. There he married Luz Beaubien, daughter of a French Canadian, Charles Hipolyte Trotier, Sieur de Beaubien, and a Spanish woman. With Guadalupe Miranda, Beaubien had received from the Mexican Government during the Administration of Governor Manuel Armijo a huge grant of land as a reward for pioneer services. Beaubien bought Miranda's share, and at Beaubien's death, Lucien Maxwell, his son-in-law, purchased all the land from the heirs and became sole owner of more than a million acres. He made huge sums of money selling sheep, cattle and grain to the Government, and built a great house at Cimarron. There he lived in as much magnificence as the times and the country could afford. His guests included cattle kings, Governors, Army Officers, and later when he moved to the ranch near Fort Sumner, Billy The Kid. Nearly every day his table was set for more than two dozen, and it is reputed that they ate on plates of silver and drank from goblets of gold. Jose Garcia said he didn't

know anything about that for he had never been inside of the house, but he thought it quite likely. He had been by the place at Cimarron several times when he was working for some people by the name of Martinez who had a ranch north of Las Vegas. The Maxwell house was una grande mancion. But it was to the Maxwell House on the Pecos near Fort Sumner that he went in search of Billy The Kid. Maxwell retired to his place at Fort Sumner after losing much of his wealth. His son Pete later became the richest sheep man in that part of the country. It was Pete who was a friend of Billy The Kid. Jose Garcia said he and the other men surrounded the house for two weeks but they never got so much as a glimpse of Billy The Kid. 

Mr. Garcia said he knew a good friend of Billy The Kid, Jose Chavez y Chavez. When he was herding sheep on the Yrissari Ranch, which was not far from Santa Rosa on the Pecos River, Jose Chavez y Chavez was sheep herder on a nearby ranch. One day the two of them were sitting under a tree smoking when a pack train on the way to Arizona came along on the other side of the Pecos. Just opposite the tree where the two sheepherders were sitting they tried to ford the stream. But the water was swift and the horses floundered. Jose Garcia and Jose Chavez pulled off their clothes, jumped in and guided the horses to the bank. After the pack train went on, Jose Chavez showed Mr. Garcia the twenty-one bullet scars on his body. He had an innocent face didn't look as though he could break a dish, but he was bad with a gun. Que hombre!

Did they try to get Jose Chavez to go with the posse after Billy? I asked.
Jose Chavez y Chavez, he corrected me. No, senora, he had left the country at that time.

According to Walter Noble Burns it was this Jose Chavez y Chavez who was responsible for the friendship between Billy The Kid and the wealthy Maxwell's. Billy The Kid had ridden over to Fort Sumner from Lincoln with several of his men, among whom was Jose Chavez y Chavez. The fiancÚ of one of the Maxwell girls was drunk and met Jose Chavez y Chavez on the street back of the Maxwell House. The two men quarreled and Jose Chavez pulled his gun. Mrs. Maxwell ran out of the house and tried to pull her future son-in-law away, begging Chavez not to shoot him as he was drunk and didn't know what he was doing. Chavez replied that drunk or sober he was going to kill him, and he was going to do it immediately. Just then a young man walked rapidly across the road, touched his sombrero to Mrs. Maxwell, said something in Spanish to Chavez and led him away. It was the Kid. From that time until his death, he made Fort Sumner his headquarters, and was a frequent visitor at the Maxwell home. It was in Pete Maxwell's room that Pat Garrett shot him.

Mr. Garcia asked me if there were any books in Spanish about Billy The Kid. My wife, he said, she taught me to read. I didn't know the letters when I married her. She didn't know the words but she knew the letters and she taught me. I taught myself how the words went, but I never could teach her to read, ni con carinoes ni alebanzes, neither by coaxing nor praising, she never could learn anything more than the letters.

Mrs. Garcia shook her head. Nunca, nunca, nunca, she said. Never had she been able to learn more than the letters. I promised to look for a Spanish book about Billy The Kid. I sat for a minute longer watching some pigeons perched on a water barrel. They pecked at the water. The ripples reflected on their green and lavender breasts. The little goat came out of the house and sniffed the dirt around my chair. As I rose to go, Mr. Garcia stood up and took off his hat. Muchas felicidades y buena salud, Senora, he said, with a little bow. Much happiness and good health to you. Mrs. Garcia put out her hand. Her dark eyes were always sombre. Adios, she said, Que Dios vaya con usted. Goodbye, I can only say God be with you. Vuelva, they called after me as I drove away. Come back.