W. F. Kuchenbecker McKinley County, New Mexico

W. F. Kuchenbecker one of the oldest living pioneer residents of that portion of the Territory now included within the limits of McKinley County has, since 1885, been engaged in mercantile pursuits in Gallup. The career of Mr. Kuchenbecker is of more than passing interest. Born in Hesse Cassel, Germany, in 1851, he came to America in 1867, and for the first six months of his stay in the new world was employed in a lumber yard in Chicago. Going thence to Cairo, Illinois, he became a salesman in a wholesale grocery house, remaining there until a short time prior to his enlistment in the United States army at St. Louis, Missouri, August 27, 1875. A few weeks later his command was sent west, traveling by train as far as Granada, Colorado, and thence on foot by way of Raton Pass and the old Santa Fe Trail to Fort Union, where he was assigned to Company K, Fifteenth United States Infantry. He was ordered to Fort Wingate, garrisoned by four companies under Major William Redwood Price. In 1878 he participated in guarding a town of about four hundred Warm Springs Apaches under the noted chief, Victorio, and Geronimo and Nana were members of the Party. In 1879 he was ordered north to the San Juan River and the Pine River agency to help quell the Ute uprising of that year at the time of the Meeker massacre. He remained there from October, 1879, until March, 1880, and at Pagosa Springs until May 31, 1880. On the latter day he was ordered to proceed to the La Plata to assist in the erection of a new post headquarters under the direction of General George P. Buel, but at Animas City, while in route, a courier overtook his command with orders that they should proceed as quickly as possible to Fort Wingate as a serious Navajo uprising was feared. By forced marches the little company made the trip in three days and two nights, but the threatened uprising did not materialize. Mr. Kuchenbecker relates many other exciting experiences of the frontier days.

On the 27th of August, 1880, after five years' service, Mr. Kuchenbecker received his discharge, and within an hour thereafter he was behind the counter in the post trading store of Lambert N. Hopkins at Fort Wingate, in whose employ he remained about a year. In 1882 William S. Woodside became the trader and Air. Kuchenbecker remained with him until March, 1885, when he came to Gallup, and in partnership with his brother-in-law, Worth Keene, established a general store. Two years later the partnership was dissolved and Mr. Kuchenbecker continued the business until 1891, when he sold out and established a wholesale ice and beer business. Since 1898 he has conducted a trade in hardware and furniture, and also has in connection therewith an undertaking establishment.

Mr. Kuchenbecker has taken an active interest in public affairs ever since locating in Gallup. As the nominee of the Republican Party he was elected to the legislature in 1886 and again on the fusion ticket in 1892. Upon the incorporation of the town of Gallup he was elected its first mayor.

He was married, April 14, 1882, at Fort Wingate, to Angelina Young, of Daviess County, Missouri, who died in Los Angeles, California, December 11, 1905. Mr. Kuchenbecker has one son, Louis F., who assists his father in business.

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Source: History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Co., 1907.

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Created 1996 by Charles Barnum & 2016 by Judy White

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