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Family History Stories Paraphrased
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Sotorona Baca
Charles Rouark
Frances E. Totty
J. R. Kinyon
Charles B. Kilgore

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Sotorona Baca
By Frances E. Totty
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln
Surnames mentioned: Baca, Brent, McSween, Garrett, 

My grandfather Sotorona Baca and his wife were born in Barcelona, Spain and was considered quite wealthy for those days. They came to America and settled at El Paso, Texas where they lived for some time but the old Spanish Legend was going the rounds at the time that they a settled at El Paso and it wasn't long until he decided that there was something to the story, and invested $10,000.00 in the swindling scheme, which was all lost as the people that he gave the money to were impostors of the early days and the old story of the lost bullion has gone on down the years.

Grandfather after he lost so much money moved to Lincoln and bought a ranch or two as he figured that he was nearly broke and he had to recover some of his losses. He started to raising cattle, horses and mules and hogs. He had been a captain in the army was hired by the government to take supplies to The Fort Stanton Reservation. He never did have any trouble in getting the supplies to the Indians as Murphy was hired by the government to furnish the supplies.

My mother Carolatta Baca Brent was born in Lincoln on Jan. 17, 1865. She has a sister that still lives in Lincoln. Mother was in the middle of the Lincoln and carried messages for both parties. The message was delivered in a bucket of beans. Mother saw Billie the Kid kill Sheriff Brady from the window in the tower. The Spanish and Mexican class of people were friends to Billie the Kid. They often hid him under the floor of their houses and in every way possible warned him of his dangers. My father was a under sheriff of Pat Garrets and was with him when he captured Billie the Kid at Stinking Springs.

Pat Garrett told father after he killed Billie the Kid that a fellow from the east wrote to him and said that he would pay $500.00 for the trigger finger of the boy. I have read many books on the boy, but this is one fact that I have never seen published. Billie the Kid was not a killer but was fighting for cause and father told us that he was an unusually nice boy. He took the part of the McSween clan and fought for them right to the finish. Mr. McSween was a very proper gentlemen and never could believe that the guns should rule as they did, and could never be convinced that the should carry a gun the died in the war with his Bible. Mrs. McSween was a beautiful lady, and understood the ways of the world much better than her husband who was an idealist.

Emerson Huff was living in Lincoln in the early days he worked around the town at any thing that the could get to do. He wanted to save enough money to get to Kansas City. Father as going to take some prisoners to Fort Leavenworth an told Mr. Huff that the would take him that far as a guard. He left father at Leavenworth and drifted into Louisiana and there wrote Mississippi Bubble which brought him a small fortune.

I have at home a spool made into a toy by Pat Garrett that he gave to me when I was a youngster. Pat Garret after killing Billie the Kid always said that he sure hated to kill the boy, but he knew that it was either his life or the boys life, and as he was sent out to bring him back he did the only thing he could do for he realized that Billie would never be taken alive again.

Charles Rouark
By Frances E. Totty
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln
surnames mentioned: Rouark, Garrett, Maxwell, Nicholos, 

I went to Lincoln County in the early days, but was not in the war. The first time I saw Pat Garrett, we had an argument. I had been to Roswell by the usual route when I returned there was a gate wired up in those days we didn't wire up gates. If I had to go around him, I would have had to ride for miles around the fence and came back to the gate to get on the trail again. I cut the gate down and left it down. The next morning Pat Garrett rode up to our camp. He asked me Do you know anything about that gate being down?

I do. I cut it down last night when I came to it, gates aren't supposed to be wired in this country. If you don't want to get into trouble you had better leave that gate alone. Pat replied. The next time I come to that gate and it is wired up I will cut it down, I'll dang sure tell you, and I do not intend to ride around. Young Man, I am a good mind to get down from here and whip you with this quirt, Pat answered.

Pat you have another think coming remember for once you don't have a gun on and I do. You may wear a quirt out on me, but you will never wear me out. I am not afraid of you or the stories they tell, for you don't look like a man eater to me. So you had better think before you get off of that horse. I answered. Pat never answered he turned his horse and rode away. The gate wasn't tied up when I next came to it and I always put it back up after going through it.

The people around Lincoln say Garrett didn't kill Billie the Kid. The Kid said he didn't see the man that Garrett killed. I can take you to the grave in Hells Half Acre, and old government cemetery, where Billie was supposed to be buried and show you the grave.

The cook at Pete Maxwells was always putting flowers on the grave and praying at it. This woman thought a lot of Billie, but after Garrett killed the man at Maxwells home her grandson was never seen again and Billie was seen by Bill Nicholos, an Indian tracker. Bill saw him in old Mexico.

Pat Garrett and Billie had been good friends, and Garrett knew that Billie wasn't yellow or a coward. Billie never killed without a cause. Billie wasn't real mean, he was just quick on the draw and had to practice hours to hit his target. Billie didn't steal, but he might borrow a man’s horse from his corral, but he would always see that it was returned to him.

In the early days everyone was welcome to chuck down and no questions were asked. Anyone was welcome to stay as long as he wished, and his name was ever asked for no one went by their name any way. People were different than today they respected the other fellows rights.

The dances of old were a place to go and enjoy the evening not a place to get drunk. A girl wouldn't dance with a drunk man, and a man that had to much to drink had to much respect for others to go in the room where the women gathered, as a general rule. Billie the Kid was welcome by all at the dances. He was a good dancer with nice manners, and always respected everyone. Billie was a jolly happy go lucky person that seemed to bring laughter with him as well as death to his enemies.

Frances E. Totty
By Louis S. Goforth
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Grant
Surnames mentioned: Goforth, Hayes, Moore, Geronimo

I left Tennessee in 1880 and came to New Mexico in 1881 arriving at Old Town for my first stop in Grant county. Senor Pena was running the store there at the time. I will never forget the fact that he served buttermilk with our meal, and I thought that it was the best milk that I ever drink. I settled in the Mimbres district living on the Membres most of the time. I was living on the Membres when a Mr. Hayes was killed over near Lake Valley in Sierras Co by the Indians. Mr. Moore my nearest neighbor to go over to his place at Lake Valley and wanted me to go with his after Mr. Hayes was killed. We were nearing Mule Springs when I noticed a track. I said Look there are tracks. Mr. Moore replied, Oh, they probably belong to some Mexican.

I soon Cried, Look the large tracks of the Indian. Moore said Lets go, Holy cow, is that fellow in this part of the country? He began to kick and spur his horse and we were really leaving that part of the country. In all of the recent raids there was an unusually large track and when this track was seen it was generally known that some cruelty and destruction had been done in the vicinity and everyone had a horror of meeting the warrior and wanted to get away from the place that he was likely to be round around. We soon caught up with a Chinese man and told him that the Indians were behind us and he said, I saw no Indians. But he soon had his horse in a run when we told him of the large track.

We went on home and near night a follow came by and told us the Indians were near and we were to go the Brown place. We went over to the place and spent the night and the next morning returned home to find that the Indians had taken a large stone and thrown threw the door and had gone into the house and taken all of the best blankets and we had a long handled frying pan which they took and left us a short handled one. They took our violin and laid it tin the floor with the bow across the center.

The Indians were never as bad as they were pictured, but I will admit there was times that none of us wished to see them, not, Geronimo or any of the others, but as a rule, the uprising started over some mistreatment that the Indians received.

J. R. Kinyon
Pat Deene
By Mrs. Frances E. Totty
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Socorro
Surnames mentioned: Kinyon, Deene

Sitting in the relief office making plans for the day I noticed two elderly men giving each other the once over. One spoke up remarked, I know you. The other replied, I know you too, but I can't place you.

I'm Pat Deene. Oh, replied J. R. Kinyon. Don't I know it. You use to push a cart of book's around Ft. Bayard. Oh yes, and you used to peddle eggs around the country in a one horse cart.

Don't I know it, replied Mr. Kinyon, a very small fellow. Weren't those the great old days! Say, do you remember when the railroad went through Silver City with the Station up in the west part of town?

I should say I do, and wasn't that some flood that washed the tracks away? Yes, it sure looked as if the entire town was going. Don't I know when the water started down from Brewer Hill and Silver Heights something really was going to happen.

Yes, but it was a wise thing when the R. R. Company didn't build back but placed their station at the edge of town. Say, do you remember the joke about the high waters around here. No, what was it?

Remember when over one local physician in 1890 got married and he with his bride were going to El Paso for their honeymoon. On the same train was one of our prominent business men who was on his way to El Paso to get married. As you know the railroad was in a canyon as today, and every time it rained the train was delayed for hours.

On this special occasion it rained after the train left town, but soon enough to catch it, before it got high land. That afternoon Dan Cupid must have sure been sore for that train had to back into Silver City and remain until the next day. A wedding had to be postponed for a day, and the couple on their honeymoon had to go through the ordeal of rice and old shoes the second time on their belated honeymoon.

Well you don't remember the train robbery at Stein's Pass in 1887 do you? asked Patty Deene. I should say I do, remarked Mr. Kinyon. I happened to be riding that train. I had gone overland to Safford prospecting. I decided to come home Thanksgiving to be with my family at Silver City. I boarded the train at Wilcox.

There was a large shipment of gold on the train. Just out of Steins Pass we could see a large bon-fire. One of the trainmen remarked, Wonder what the big fire is, I hope we don't run into any trouble.

The bon fire we discovered to our sorrow was on the railroad. Then as today curiosity got the best of some of us so we had to find out why the train came to an abrupt stop, and what the fire was put on the track. We found ourselves looking into the barrel of guns.

The trainmen and guards soon overcame their surprise, and when the fireworks started you should have seen we nosy people scatter for protection. I imagine all of us had learned our lesson to not be so nosy. I know I had my lesson.

One of the bandit's was killed there, and the other's were soon caught and properly taken care of. In those day's when a criminal was caught, he wasn't usually given a long drawn out trial, but quickly dealt with under the old oak tree with a rope where sometimes he was left hanging as a lesson to other people who came into the country and wished to cause trouble. Don't I know those were the good old days.

I should say they were, when I was a kid we smoked grapevine, and corn shucks now look at the young boy's and girls with their tailored cigarettes.

Gee, don't I know it, replied Mr. Kinyon. We would slip out the horse and saddle and ride fifteen or twenty miles to a dance or the entire family would go in the wagon or coach. The Entire country side would start gathering early in the day for a good dance. Boy wouldn't these young punks look funny with a gun strapped on their hips, I'll bet they can't even get in a barn with the door shut and hit the wall.

Don't I know it, interrupted Mr. Kinyon. Oh didn't we used to have some fun at those good old square dances? Don't I know it, how I wish for those days again.

Charles B. Kilgore
by Mrs. Belle Kilgore
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Roosevelt, Chaves, Eddy
Surnames mentioned: Kilgore, Erosby, Manker, Farris, Bowen, Bowen 

In 1902, I sold a paying photo studio located in Grand Saline, Van Zandt County, Texas, and moved to the plains. I left my wife and baby at Plainview, Texas, with her mother and came to New Mexico, in October of that year, to look for a new location.

My first stop was at Texico, on the state line of Texas and New Mexico. There were two or three stores, several saloons and a two-story wooden hotel. I called for a room and the proprietor, a lady, told me that she could let me have a room with another man, although the party was not in just then. She said that he was a nice young man no older than myself. I was twenty-three. I had lived in the west long enough not to expect eastern accommodations, and assured her that that would be okay by me if the other gent did not object. I went out and played pool until about ten o'clock.

When I returned to the hotel there was a glass-eyed sorry looking hombre in the lobby. The landlady introduced him as my roommate. I didn't like his looks, but said nothing. We went to our room which was upstairs. I threw the door open and asked my companion to enter and light up. He grabbed hold of my arm, his eyes shot out like a owl's and made a couple of revolutions, as if he had seen a ghost, and said: For God's sake, don't go in there! There's a dead man in there. Can't you see him?

You're in house, I said and walked into the room and lit the lamp. He entered and without speaking another word, began to undress. I was sore because I thought the man had taken me for a tender foot and expected to have some fun at my expense.

I said: Guy, I don't know who you are but if you pulled that act on purpose to scare me you don’t have any busy wasting your talent way out here on the plains, punching cattle. You ought to be able to draw good money as a vaudeville tragedian. But if it is a natural affliction you should buy a nice padded cell to sleep in.

He paid no attention to my poor joke, lay down turned around two or three times like a dog making his bed and was soon sawing wood. The next day I rode train to Portales arriving there about night. I called for a room at the hotel. The proprietor was a Mrs. Kidd. She said: I can put you with another man. He is a nice fellow. Has a claim near town and comes in pretty often.

Remembering my roommate of last night, I did not think much of the arrangement, yet it was that or nothing. I paid a dollar for the room and she gave me the key. I had already seen enough of the town to know that it would appeal to my romantic and adventurous nature. I walked out to investigate further before I went to bed. There were a lot of restaurants most of them in the back of the saloons. Every saloon had a gambling room in front. When I was a boy I had knocked around Fort Worth, Texas, with my uncle who owned a saloon and a gambling house. I know that a gambler was a migratory breed that usually traveled west. I was not surprised to see a lot of faces that I recognized, although I knew none of them by name.

Finally I went back to my hotel and turned in. My roommate had not yet come in. I locked the door, blew out the light and went to bed. Soon I was fast asleep. I was awakened by a horrible noise. Someone was coming up the stairs drunk. I recognized the familiar tread of high heeled boots, the tinkle of large spur rowels. By the time he reached the top of the stairs, he began to call for room number nine. Of course, I knew it was my roommate, but I did not get up just then to unlock the door.

When he reached my door, he shook it and bellowed his war cry, but it was so dark in the hall he did not see the number nine and before I could rise and find a match to light the lamp, he had gone on down the hall not noticing that I had lit the lamp and was opening the door. I sat down on the bed and waited for him.

He came into the room with a big Colt .45 in his right hand and a quart bottle of whisky in the other. It was then that I realized that to be high jacked in the dark ought to be a blessing to the victim, for he at least is spared the horrid countenance of his assailants features. This man was not only drunk, but was stark mad and raving crazy. He threw his forty-five in my face and cursed me for everything in the world. He handed me the bottle of whisky and said, Drink, curse you. Until this day I am glad that it was not the devil, if it had been, I would have thanked him and drank.

Afterwards, he himself took a drink his delirium changed. It seemed that some one had jumped or attempted to jump his claim. He would make vile denunciation of the claim jumper and throw his gun in my face and cry, Bullets shall pierce their hearts.

Finally he put his bottle of whisky under the pillow, as carefully as if putting the baby to bed, laid down with his spurs and boots on, holding his six-shooter by his side. At least he went to sleep and after making sure that he was sound asleep I went down stairs and sat in the lobby until morning. The next morning after eating breakfast I walked up to town.

I had ordered a photograph outfit sent from Dallas, Texas. I went to the depot and found it had come. My way of ordering stuff from the stock house was one fourth down, the balance sent open. But I found out by having been sent outside of the state of Texas, it had all been sent collect, and as it was about $100 COD. on the equipment, I lacked just $75 having enough to lift it. I went back to town feeling very discouraged. Here I was in a new country in a new town and as far as I knew I didn't know a soul in the territory. I was agreeably surprised when a young man slapped me on the back and said, Hello, Charlie, What are you looking so blue about?

I recognized the fellow as Fred Erosby, a boy who I had gone to school with when we were only kids. Of course, as I had not seen him since we were boys, I had no idea at the time that he could be of any help to me as the main incidents I could remember of him was that we had played hooky together, played keeps with marbles and stole chickens. However, I explained my predicament to him.

Let's got to the bank and get the money. Bank, hell, I says, I didn't come out here to rob a bank. Well, come on don't feel so blue. Maybe so, I can fix it for you.

We went to the bank. Fred walked to the window, introduced me to the cashier as an old friend and said that we had often robbed chicken roosts together. I can't remember the cashier's name, but I can still recall the expression on his face, and the words he used to Fred in reply. Sure, he says, of course, that makes it binding, but what security have you got? Awe, that's all right, Fred said.

In a few minutes I walked out of the bank with a hundred dollars. I remembered that when Fred was a boy that he had a pretty hard time getting by, as his father was a widower with several small children to provide for. How come, I said to him, that you are now able to act good citizen to a broken bum and to address a banker on such familiar terms as that?

Oh, it's just luck, he said, I took up a quarter section right out there and these people built schoolhouses, churches, banks, saloons and gambling houses right on top of it, so through the process of evolution, I find myself in town with a pocket full of rocks. I rented a building and by night, I had a well equipped studio. There was another studio in town run by Reeves Manker of New York and it was known as the Kid Studio. Reeves was a fine fellow, but on account of his eastern polish he didn’t take well with the New Mexicans at this date. However, he and I were good friends as long as he stayed in town. He was, also, operator of the telephone office and was always having trouble with the telephone customers.

One day he came over to my office very much excited and told me a story that was very typical of New Mexico in that day. It seemed that he had got into a dispute with a customer, and this customer came down to the office and slapped him. Reeves reached for his handkerchief to wipe the blood from his face, but his opponent had thrown a gun in his face before he could get his hand out of his pocket and dared him to draw. Of course, Reeves didn’t didn't understand this kind of a customer. I told him that he must remember he advertised as The Studio Kid and by using that name it was like throwing a red flag in the face of a westerner. The only kid these people knew was Billy the Kid, who would not only have expected it, but would have been fully prepared for such a draw.

Now before I say anything else, I want to say the life of a town to me is like the life of an individual, it has its childhood, its youth and its mature stage. If the individual ever amounts to anything it depends on its early train of its parents So it is with a town. When I first visited Portales it was in its youth, it had been a wild child and was a big handful for its city dads, who fortunately never let it out of control although they sometimes had to use peculiar methods. Roswell was the court of authority and as that was before the coming of the automobile the citizens did not always feel it necessary to spend their time and money to worry the court with minor affairs.

I recall one incident of this kind. A vagabond stole $30 from a table. He was not sent to jail, nor was he fined, but he was strapped over a barrel and was given 30 lashes and told to leave town. This had the desired effect. There was no more shop lifting in Portales. As I remember, the first real court I ever saw in Portales was when Club Foot killed Billy Farris. Of course, Club Foot had another name, but I have forgotten what it was. However, as I attended the trial, I know that he came, and was adjudged innocent by the court.

I remember this case on account of the Cowboy connected with it. The Cowboy was a girl, Of course, it is nothing unusual now to see a girl with short hair, dressed in men's clothes, wearing boots and spurs and sombrero, but remember this was in 1902. It was said that the cow outfit that she had rode in with picked her up some place along the Texas line and she had made such a good cowhand that none of them recognized her as a girl until they reached town.

Anyway, it was not long after that when her man was shot. Judge Evans was the territorial judge at that time. He lived at Roswell and an other reason why I remember the case so well, the Judge was a friend of mine. I had known him since I was a little boy. He was county judge in Coleman county, Texas, where I was born. I also recall a little innocent joke they used to tell on the judge in Texas. He was a quail hunter and used a single barrel muzzle-loading shotgun. The tube was loose on his gun so he seldom got but one shot at a time for when he shot the tube always blew off his gun and by the time he found it the birds would have all flown away. He would be looking around in the woods, muttering to himself: Where is it at and where has it gone?

Before I find it, the birds will be gone. Anyhow, Judge Evans was conducting the case. Cowboy was called to the witness stand, and the judge asked: What do you know about this case? I was living with Billy Farris. Were You there when the shooting came off?

I was in the restaurant after Billy's breakfast. I got the breakfast on a platter and went back to give it to him and he was lying on the floor and Club Foot was beating him with his gun.

Do you know if Billy's gun was loaded when you left the room? No, it was not loaded. Why do you know it was not loaded? Billy and I walked down the railroad track late yesterday evening and Billy shot all his shells practicing at a target. Why were you and Billy so thick? We were planning to go in business together. What kind of business? The highway robbery business.

I was in Portales some months ago and I noticed a few old timers still there that probably remember the Cowboy, but they have been voting the prohibition ticket so long, I doubt if the would admit it. However if you should look over the territorial files of Judge Evans in the last of 1902 or the first of 1903, I am sure that you will find this to be a recorded fact. Shortly after opening up my studio, a young man by the name of Henry Watkins came from my home town. He worked at the drug store and I let him room with me. It was one of the coldest winters I have ever known on the plains and to make matters worse we had a real coal famine and Henry got down with the measles and there was no place to move him. Of course, it was practically the same as closing my business as the children were two-thirds of the pictures taken. The worst of it we got cold and there was no fuel to buy. By providence or mistake or some unknown reason, the Santa Fe side tracked a car of coal. It was billed for some other town, but the next day the car was carried out empty and people were warm and happy. The next day was Sunday and I went to church. I expected the text to be, The way of the Lord is mysterious and past finding out, but it wasn't.

The telephone company operators. Reeves Manker of New York was succeeded by Alonzo Bowen of Albany, Texas. He was quite a contrast to Reeves. Lonzo was a big vaunting bully with a habit of making this good. When he first came to town, he came looking for a scrap.

One day he told me that he believed that he would have to go to Reno to get someone to fight him. I told him that there were plenty of men in Portales that could lick him. His eyes lit up like a lover's that just recognized the object of his affection and asked, Sure, you don't mean that you will attempt it? With pleasure, I said.

We went all over town trying to get gloves and a house to fight in. We found a pair of cheap gloves but had to fight the bout in the street. We had no referees. We just fought until we were both give out. I was still on my feet, but my right lamp was out, however, I saved my friend Lonzo the fare to Reno.

2005