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Family History Stories Paraphrased
Page 14 of 38

RR to Niobrara Nebraska
Hugh M. Wood's Story
Marie Carter Pioneer
Charles Ilfeld
Mrs. Florence Cravens

Begin Family Histories:

How R. R. came to Niobrara Nebraska
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: General
Surnames mentioned: Fry, Lambert, Houston

This is a tale of how a pioneer community fought a mighty railroad and won! Niobrara wanted a railroad in the year 1900, wanted it badly. Verdigre was a town twelve miles south of Niobrara. It was the terminal for the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley RR. They wouldn't come a foot further. So Niobrara resolved to build the railroad herself! The idea is supposed to have originated in a conversation in the early fall of 1900 between a Niobrara attorney, and Ed. A. Fry, a well known pioneer newspaper man, now deceased. These two got in touch with one William Lambert, a well known railroad promoter at Potsville, Pennsylvania. Who had just finished financing the Kansas City Southern RR from Kansas City, Missouri to Port Arthur, Texas. Mr. Lambert agreed to come west and investigate for a hundred dollars. The hat was passed at Niobrara.

Mr. Lambert came soon and was satisfied and agreed to attempt to interest capital in building the proposed railroad. Articles of incorporation were filed in Lincoln in November 1900, and the Niobrara, Missouri River and Black Hills R. R. Co. was a finally on paper.

E. A. Houston and Ed. A. Fry became president and secretary respectively, of the new railroad. On the day that the articles of Incorporation were filed, the business men of Niobrara came forth in buggies at dawn to buy up the right-of-way for Niobrara, Missouri River and Black Hills RR Company between Niobrara and Verdigre.

By nightfall the new railroad had that right-of-way. Meanwhile the officials of the Fremont Elkhorn and Missouri Valley RR had become alarmed. The Niobrara RR in South Dakota directly across the Missouri from Niobrara. Who could say that they were not the ones behind the new railroad which would tap the rich resources of the Country in South Dakota? It is suspected that the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri RR officials fell into something a panic. Quick action followed. On Thanksgiving day, 1900 a large force of Civil Engineers and armed men arrived in Niobrara under command of the General Manger of the Fremont line. They now wanted to build the railroad. The new line for considerable consideration sold the Fremont people their right-of way. And in the spring of 1901 the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley RR reached Niobrara!

It is now part of the Northwestern line extending to South Dakota, a lasting moment to the steel nerve and spirit of the pioneer business men of Niobrara, for there was not at any time money enough in the treasury of the Niobrara, Missouri River and Black Hills, RR Company to lay a single mile of track.

Oh, there is a little city, And we think its rather pretty, In a corner of Nebraska
By the old Missouri's shore, Here the highland joins the lowland, One swift river meets another, Niobrara joins Missouri By the Niobrara shore. And this town of Niobrara At the meeting of the rivers, Could remember, if it chose to, Stirring times of days of years. See in From the muddy river Watch the gurgling water rising, And begin to flood the land!
Hear the shouting and the crying In the darkness of the night, Of the citizens From the icy rivers! See the blazing rising, On the east and on the west, While the Indians talking, And the the cowboys up from Texas, the old Missouri River, Longhorn cattle sadly struggling In the heat of the day. These and other things as thrilling, we could remember, Stirring times, now dim and distant, Of the past's forgotten glory.

Hugh M. Wood's Story
By Mrs. Belle Kilgore
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Curry
Surnames mentioned: Wood, Edeilbrook, Riley, Taylor, Smith, Mandel, Carmack 

Mr. Hugh M. Wood and wife of Clovis, New Mexico, came with a colony of thirty-five families from Ft. Worth, Texas and settled near Melrose and St. Vrain, in Sept 1907. Mr. Wood took up a claim one and one-half mile from St. Vrain. In 1908, Mr. Wood moved his family to Melrose for school purposes. Of course, they had to go back and forth to the claim to hold it. After they proved up they moved to Clovis in 1910.

These families organized a Melworth Club among themselves. They organized the first Sunday School in that part of the country and met at Mr. Wood's home every Sunday, for they had a three room house and a piano. Mrs. Edeilbrook was the pianist, she was a pipe organ player in Forth Worth. Mr. J. C. Riley, Mrs. Wood's father, Superintendent of the Union Sunday School.

Our house would be filled and the yard also, for every one was anxious to talk to their neighbors and hear from 'back home. We never made anything for three years, but if we had we could had have sold it, for there was no market. The first year we came out, I bought feed for a bundle. One year it looked as if we were going to raise a crop. One morning we found our corn white with antelopes, there were about thirty of them in the field. We used the dogs to keep the prairie chickens out of our garden. The rattlesnakes were awful bad, too, we had to carry a stick or a hoe every where we went to protect ourselves. The wolves were so bad that we had to build houses close and tight to keep them away from the chickens. We men would have a bit of fun digging the wolves out of the holes in the ground, said Mr. Wood.

Yes, and there was a white Lobo wolf in the country, as well as the brown ones. When they howled it seemed that they just shook the ground, spoke up Mrs. Wood. One morning, early in the spring, a man came to the door, continued Mrs. Wood, and asked if I had seen a cow. No, I said, but I saw her tracks. She has been in my garden.

Well, why did you come out here for? he asked. We came out here to get land of course, I answered. Well, this is my land." he said. Did you turn your cow loose on us? I asked. Yes, I turned her out and I am going to turn some more out, he said, and he walked away and I found out it was Wild Horse Brown. So sure enough a heard of thirty-seven cattle was soon tramping down our crops. But the men drove the cattle off our claim onto the next man's claim and he in turn drove them on to the other man's claim until they had been driven several miles away. They kept them moving until when Mr. Brown found them the could only get about fifteen.

In a few weeks the Melworth Club decided to have a picnic. We went several miles south of Melrose down at Alkali Lake, which was dry and grassy. Soon after we had stopped and got unpacked getting ready for a good time, a man rode up. Hello, he said, you are the woman I talked to once about the cattle, said the rider. Yes, and you are the man who drove his cattle into our crop," said Mrs. Wood.

Well, I live in that big house on top of the hill and you folks just send up there and get all the milk and butter and eggs you want. I'm Will Horse Brown, he said. Won't you stay and eat with us? I asked him. Yes, I'll go and get my wife. He replied. They came back and we had a very pleasant evening. A cloud rising, but as we had not seen a rain since we had been out here we paid no attention to it. You people come up to the house for it is going to rain, requested Mr. Brown.

Well it hasn't rained since we have been out here, so we are not afraid. We told him. All of us women put down the mattresses and slept in the lake. The men were higher up on the sides of the lake, and we were all bedded down for the night, where there was a flood of rain fell and before we could get out of the lake, our mattresses and clothes were floating. As we wore rats in our hair then and took them off at night, these rats were floating around in the water. But at last, we got out of the lake and went to the conveyances and spent the rest of the night the best that we could, and Mrs. Wood had a laughed at their terrible experiences.

We got a good bath for once, said Mr. Wood. Then we moved to Clovis in 1910. But once before going to Clovis, said Mrs. Wood, I went to Melrose to get some feed and take it out to the claim, and the children were with me. The ponies were very small and the wagon light, but we piled it full of grain and food. One of the horses gave out. It was dark and finally some of the children went up to a house about a mile and got another wagon to bring a fresh horse, but the children did not know the road back so the woman took the wrong road, and after an long time the got there and we drove in home away after the middle of the night.

The first school house stood where the Eugene Field School now stands. It was a two room house. Mr. J. F. Taylor was the first to appear. The primary groceries were kept in a tin shed, which had been used as a skating rink. Mr. Wood was black smith for eight years. He was appointed deputy sheriff in 1918 and served four years, when he was elected sheriff which office he held for four years. I asked if he had any trouble much when he was sheriff.

No, nothing to speak of. I collected twenty-three stills. Did they men resent you taking them? How did you do it? I asked. Oh, I'd find, go get them and take them. He said in his crisp way of talking. This town was developing fast. There was a race track down Mitchell Street, at one time.

One morning I went down town town and saw a man sitting down against a building taking on. I asked him what was the matter. I'm sea sick, he said. Sea sick. How is that there is no water in 100 miles of here. I asked. I'm sea sick from riding these waves on the street. Mr. Wood has been caretaker for the Golf course for the last few years. His Son Hugh M. Wood Jr. is manager of Roy Smith Tailor Shop. He lives on Main Street 1213. Mrs. Wallace Carmack also lives on Mitchell Street with his daughter. Mr. Carmack is the manager of Mandel Drygood store. Mr. and Mrs. Wood have a beautiful home at 711 Wallace Street, and he takes great delight in keeping the lawn of this home and the duplex house just south of him.

Marie Carter Pioneer
Old Timers Dictionary in Detail:
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Dona Ana
Surnames mentioned: Casad, Berino, Garcia, Stevens, Generette, Gardner 

As I approached the Humboldt Casad's home, west of Canutillo, I gave the evenly cultivated land an admiring glance, thinking: If I had a rancher I should want the land to look just like that. The Casads were at home and greeted me, as is their custom, in a friendly dignified manner. When I told them my mission they both smiled, and promised to give me the information I sought.

Just what do you wish to know? was Mr. Casad's polite inquiry. Something about the Brazito Grant , I replied. I have been told by an old-timer, Mrs. Gardner of Berino, that your father used to own it.

Not all of the Grant, he corrected. My father owned the two upper thirds, or about twenty-one thousand acres. The Brazito Grant dates back to 1836. It was given to Juan Antonio Garcia by Spain for protecting travelers from the Apache and other tribes of Indians. Garcia provided them with armed escorts as far as Dona Ana. My informant was one of the Garcia family. Hugh Stevens married one of the Garcia girls, and we bought our section of the Brazito property from his brothers, Albert and Horace Stevens. In 1854 the land was surveyed by Steven Archer, and in the same year, confirmed by Congress.

How long did your family keep the Brazito Grant? I inquired. Oh, for a number of years, he replied. Then we sold it to Frank Smith and a man by the name of Hadley for $64,000, with one fourth down. The one fourth down was all we ever received; so we foreclosed. And the court adjudged us about $8,000. Then we sold it to Dr. Boyd, the first man interested in the Elephant Butte Dam. He bought it for an English syndicate. Finally it came back to us again, and we sold it for fifty thousand. The last man we sold it to was a fellow by the name of Galaher. As far as Brazito is concerned that let us out. But we had to pay back taxes to the amount of 4,000 dollars.

In what year did your family come west? I asked. We arrived in Old Mesilla December 14, 1874, And It was snowing. Mr. Casad smiled. And almost Christmas, I observed. Yes, and it meant a great deal to me, for I was only six. We had a hard time finding a suitable place to live, but finally found what we wanted, in the house of Jules Generette, a Frenchman. Then, when spring arrived, we moved into our own home.

How long did you live in Old Mesilla? I queried. Thirty-two years. My father, Thomas Casad, established the first flour mill, he explained. It was located at amberino. He also ran a newspaper. Now then, what else? Undaunted by his brusk, but good-natured question, I came right back at him with: Who were the principal merchants?

Well, the stores, were owned by Renolds and Griggs,... Pardon me, I broke in, was the last man you mentioned related to our Historian, George Griggs? His father.

Thanks, go on. Instead of going on, he arose, crossed the room and sat down again, but in a chair intimately close to Mrs. Casad. This chair, he apologized, is more comfortable. I believe you were saying, I prompted. That the stores were owned by Renolds and Griggs, he repeated, Lesinsky brothers, Tolly and Ochoa, Thomas Casad, Hayward and McGroty, Frudenthal brothers, Zaniosky and Company, Thomas Bull, Mariano Barela, Gonzalez brothers and Blame Duran. All of their merchandise was freighted by wagon train from Colorado and other points. The freighters drove ox teams and mules.

How interesting! I exclaimed. Did you have bullfights? Yes. Also cock fights, bowling alleys, fiestas and street fairs. Saloons, of course, gambling houses, billiard halls, and theaters. Those were exciting days. A regular pageant of nondescript people, coming and going, all the time. I have but to close my eyes to live it all over again. The shouting teamsters anxious to be off; the snap of lashing whips on the backs of sleepy animals, the sing-song voices of venders crying, 'tamales, tortillos, dulcies!' And whining beggars squatted on every corner with outstretched hands.

How did the Mexicans dress? I inquired. In a very picturesque manner, he answered. They wore brilliant serapes with more stripes then the rainbow. They knew more about keeping cool in the summer than we did though. At times I actually envied their thin, unbleached; muslin suits. They wore sandals but no socks. Mr. Mexican didn't' mind the sand. In fact I believe he enjoyed wiggling it between his toes; sort of an old Spanish custom.

You forget to mention their sombreros, I observed. Oh, yes, they were quite large, he said. But how large? I persisted. Well, he retorted, his blue eyes twinkling, I should judge their capacity was about five gallon. Following my interview with Humboldt Casad I had occasion to visit Old Mesilla. It was the first day of March, the feast of St. Albans, or Alvino. Mass was over and the visiting Bishop led the procession in which the Santo, or statue of St. Albans, was carried through the streets. The rest of the day was spent in feasting, promenading, music and dancing. In the early days the Santa Fe Chihuahua Trail ran through Old Mesilla, a route which traders began to travel about 1831. At that date the land belonged to Old Mexico. Then the Mexican Government took a notion to colonize, offering each colonist a sum for a residence in the village and fifty-four acres for a rancher. This was known as the Mesilla Civil Colony Grant . And the village which sprang up in its wake was known as Mesilla Chihuahua. When I asked George Griggs, Historian, and a resident of Old Mesilla about the early history of his town, he opened one of his books and said:

See here lady, I have it all written out in my History of the Mesilla Valley. Buy this book and read for yourself lady. See what it says. You read, no I shall tell you, it says the lady that The Mesilla Civil Colony Grant was made to those Mexicans citizens who did not want to become citizens of the United States.

Who was the first governor, or alcalde, of La Mesilla? I asked. Don Rafael, lady. His descendants still live in this community. As I was saying, lady. All of those Mexicans who were not satisfied with the American government flocked from all parts of New Mexico and Southern Colorado to be an native Mexican soil again. See what Mrs. Stoes says about it. Read her article right here in my book. Read lady, no just a minute, I shall tell you:

They came in carts, wagons, carretas, on burros, mules, horses and on foot. Mostly pilgrims, footsore and weary, but rejoicing, lady, to again become Mexican citizens. And La Mesilla, which means seat, lady, became a booming Mexican colony. You will buy my book lady? A little bit soiled, lady, but you may have it for half price.

You have quite a collection in your museum, I observed. Yes, lady. Come look, see lady, here is a bible. This bible, lady, is a thousand years old. See what it says. He rustled the yellow leaves, moistened a finger with his lips, and stamped one of the pages. There, read lady. What does it say?

If I fail to repeat verbatim, I shall blame it on the faded print in the old bible, and the dimming light in the museum. This is what I read: They were without clothes; so they made themselves a cover of fig leaves.

Now this one lady. He rustled the leaven and stamped a second page. Read. They were without clothes; so they made themselves an apron of fig leaves. Rustle, rustle. I waited for the stamp act, then proceeded to read a third page: They were without clothes; so they made themselves breeches of fig leaves. See, lady. All three are different. On one page they made themselves a cover of fig leaves; on the second page they made themselves an apron of fig leaves; on the third page they made themselves breeches of fig leaves.

He spoke rapidly and fingered his pointed beard as he moved restlessly from place to place; pointing out, explaining briefly and leaving my thoughts in a state of confusion. George Griggs is the author of several books. His Billy the Kid Museum is an interesting place with curios from all over the world. The architecture of the old building is strictly Spanish. Swords from Spain, England, France, Africa, Japan, China, Germany, Ireland and other countries adorn the walls. And among his collection is the long slender rapier; the short broad cutlass-American, the blunt foil with button; and the rare Toledo blade. I recall these swords because I am familiar with them. I shall not attempt to name the foreign swords with their peculiar designs, for if I spelled them as they sounded to me, nobody would understand them anyway; so what's the use?

See, lady. Mr. Griggs called my attention to a brace of ugly guns. These are six-shooters, and belonged to the notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid, or William Bonney. He was a bad number, lady. Was he as bad as he was painted? I inquired. Twenty times worse! he exclaimed. Listen lady. It was his ambition to be bad. Over in the plaza is the jail where he was imprisoned. You have seen it, lady? Yes, I replied. At the age of twelve, lady. This boy was an expert poker player and a Carlo Monte dealer.

How did he become a killer? I asked. I will tell you that in a moment. But first, please lady, your entrance fee. Thanks lady. Everything you wish to know is right here in my book. You will buy my book, lady? Yes. Thanks, lady. As I was going to tell you lady. Everything is right here. It begins on page 117. Read for yourself, but no, just a minute, lady--I shall tell you. The Kid's real name was Bonney, William E. Bonney. He went to Georgetown, New Mexico, with his father, mother, and fifteen year old sister.

Where was he born? New York, lady. November 23, 1859. And as I was saying. They went to Georgetown. Shortly after arriving in Georgetown, the Kid's father was killed by Apaches. Billy swore vengeance, lady. And Mrs. Bonney took in boarders. Then a miner made love to the Kid's sister, and persuaded her to run away. Billy followed them and told the miner to marry his sister. But you see lady, it couldn't be done. For the miner had a wife and six children in Texas. That's where the trouble began. Billy bought a six-shooter, and the miner was his first victim.

Old Timer, I said, didn't you used to be a cowpuncher? Yes-um. He spoke slowly, but his cowboy drawl, if he ever had one, must have gone the way of the Old West. I happen to be in the mood for a good cowboy yarn, I said. And I'd hate to disappoint you, he flipped back. Of course you know them ain't my intentions. As soon as I finish my yarn, Tim kin tell you one. When Tim finishes his yarn, Sam kin tell you one. You see, Mrs. us three used to cow punch for the same ranch.

Three yarns instead of one! I exclaimed, This must be my lucky day. Well, to begin, be said, me an Nate Smith was on our way across the Jornada de Muerto, or Journey of Death to help on a round-up. I rode on while Nate detoured to get some water from a spring above us. When I saw him again his face was as white as the wings of an angel.

Nate, says I, what in the world ails you? Gawd! is all he said, as he mopped his forehead with the back of his hand. What the hell is it? I shouted, shoving my flask into his hand. He took a big gulp of the whiskey, cleared his throat, and said: Pardner, I thought my time had come. After I left you and struck the trail to the spring, I saw shod tracks. As I started to dismount to examine them I heard some hombre whistle between his teeth. My hand swept to my colts, but I didn't draw. He had me covered. My eyes streaked the length of his rifle and stopped, where his face was framed, in the grease bush above. I couldn't see his eyes, they were shaded with his hat. Part of his face was hidden, too, by a curtain of black cloth.

Turn around and go back?, he said. Nothing up here you want. Nate finished his story I looked at him an' said: Nate what caliber gun did that hombre aim at you? I dunno for shore, he drawled. At first I thought it was a 30-30, but before I could get my horse turned around damn if I didn't think I could crawl through it. As the first cowboy finished his yarn the second cowboy, or Tim, rolled a cud of tobacco out of his mouth into his hand, dropped it into his coat pocket and began:

(Editor's note: It's too silly to edit next paragraph. I was born in New Mexico  and never heard anyone talk like this.)
Ah had t' cross th' Hornady ounc't me-sef. Hit shore was a lonesome desert. Ah wasn't goin' t' no round-up nuther. Ah was sarchin fer a stolen hoss. Ah heerd he wus up at Goldenberg Springs; so ah headed that way. Hit wus 'bout eleven when ah got thar, an' ah wus plum' tuckered out. Wall, ah sarched everywhar fer thet dim-blistered hoss. An' ask several o' th cowpunchers at th' rancher ef they'd saw my hoss, but nary one o' th' lot hed." Then what did you do? I quizzed. Who, me? Wall, ah'll tell yuh. Ah figured th' thief would fotch th' stolen hoss t' th' spring fer a drink; so ah got down on my hands an' knees an' clared th' sand till hit wus tolable smooth." What was the big idea? Shod tracks, mam. When summer comes along th' rancher ponies are turned out on th' range 'thout shoes. At thet time th' country was full o' outlaws an' hoss thieves. Thet's th' way we trailed 'em. Ez ah wus sayin' ah brushed th' sand aroun' th' spring an' left. When ah got back th' fust thing ah noticed wus fresh shod tracks. Arter ah hed trailed them thar tracks fer 'bout two hundred foot, ah halted, dead cold, with chills playin' tag up an' down my spine. Ah'd bin watched. Hit whoren't no hunch, nuther. Ah jes knowed ah'd bin watched. Fer [that?] on th' groun' wus th' circumstantial evidentials." "What was it--what did you find?" I eagerly inquired. Cigarette stumps, 'bout ten o' 'em. An' a bullet--a bullet from a six-gun." "What did you do?" My voice had sunk to a whisper. "What any sensible cowboy would hev did--ah dropped th' trail." "And here's where ole man Sam picks it up; cigarettes, shod tracks, six-gun bullets and all. Every body bleets about th' Jornada de Muerto, or Journey of Death," said the third cowboy. So I guess I'll sell yuh my lament." It sho was a waterless stretch of territory to cross, and a hell of a trip in th' summer time. But if a fellow knowed his onions he could make it in a day. The first well ever dug in that part of the country was at a place called 'Detroit.' Folks didn' have very good drilling tools in them days; so they never drilled more then fifty or sixty feet." "Shucks, that ain't no yarn. I think you'd better take lessons from Tim," was the first cowboy's suggestion. "He's jes gettin' his second wind," said Tim, with a chuckle.

Sam paid no attention to their raillery, but rolled a cigarette, licked it, placed it between his concaved lips, and squatted cowboy fashion. "Now," he said, here goes. One day the boss sent me across the Jornada with some cattle for another rancher. They had butchered that day and were just hanging up their beefs when I arrived. That same night, from the bunk house where I slept, I heard a big commotion outside. Getting, up, I went to the door and looked out. It was moonlight and clear as day. What kid you see, Tim chuckled, a real live ghost? No, three bad hombres stealing meat. When I ask them what they were doing the short fat one retorted; Helping ourselves to a mess of beef. You'd better go on back to bed where you belong.

What did you do? I inquired. I went. And damn pronto, came from the chuckling Tim. What the hell do you know about it? Sam demanded. I was just one of three hombres that took the beef that was stole from our herds.

Charles Ilfeld
Pioneer Story
By Edith E. Crawford,
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Santa Fe, Valencia
Surnames mentioned: Ilfeld, Rosenwall, Pfluegen, Beljean, Prager, Michales, Berg, Speath, Brunero, Nordhouse 

I left Ratisbon Germany either the 15th or the 16th of January, 1881, on the steamer Wertha, and landed in New York City the 3rd day of February, 1881. I stayed in New York City about ten days. I went from there by train to Trinidad Colorado, where I got a job as clerk in a general store owned by Rosenwall Brothers. I worked for them a couple of years. I quit this job to go to work for a Polish Jew by the name of Cohen. I did not stay with him very long as he wanted me to go out on the streets and pull the customers into the store and make them buy.

There were a lot of coal miners from Starkville and Angleville Colorado who came into Trinidad to do their buying. I left this job and went to work for the Circle Diamond Cattle Company of Thatcher, Colorado, as a cowboy. I only staid through one round up, as I knew nothing about cattle and riding. I sold my saddle, bridle, spurs and bed to the round up cook and borrowed a horse and rode him bareback forty miles to Thatcher. I met a friend of mine, John Pfluegen, who now lives at Santa Fe, New Mexico. John and I were going to seek our fortunes in Old Mexico. We got as far as Albuquerque and both found jobs. John went to work for Ilfeld Brothers, and I for Spitz and Schuster. I stayed with them for awhile and then went to work for E. J. Post and Company of Albuquerque, the largest hardware firm in the southwest. The next year I went to Santa Fe to work for better wages for Speigle Berg Company. They were in the retail and wholesale mercantile business. I stayed with them until they sold out and went to New York. In March 1886 I met R. Michales in Santa Fe, who had a store in Carthage New Mexico. He offered me the job of helping him move his store from Carthage to Roswell New Mexico. He had two wagon loads of goods drawn by a span of black mules and a span of gray horses. We camped out at night and took turns guarding the wagons and horses, as there was lots of stealing going on in those days. When we got as far as Lincoln the prospects looked good so Michales rented a building next to the old Courthouse and opened up a general merchandise store. I stayed with him until I saved up some money and I bought out Charlie Beljean's interest in the Jaffa Prager Company who handled merchandise and live stock.

I took care of the live stock and of the business. I sold my interest to Jaffa Prager Company and went into the sheep business for myself. I made good money while in the sheep business. I went back to Ratisbon Germany in 1890 to see my mother. I had been in the army in Germany and had a two year leave of absence when I came to New Mexico in 1881 and as I had stayed nine years instead of the two, I was a deserter. When I got back there I went to see my mother but did not stay at home for fear some one would recognize me and report me to the military authorities.

I saw one girl when I got off the train that I had gone to school with and I always thought that she had reported me for the authorities found out that I was back there on a visit. After staying with my mother for a few days I went to Munich Bavaria to see Miss Mathilda Speath. We became engaged and gave a big party to announce our engagement and set the date for our wedding. About twelve o'clock the night of the party, my brother in law, John Brunero, told me to leave the country at once as the authorities at Ratisbon had found out that I was in the country and were looking for me for deserting the army. I went at once to the home of my girl's father and told him just what had happened. It was very embarrassing for me to have to do this but it was the only way out for me. I asked him for his consent for us to be married in Switzerland.

He gave it and I went to Rahrchach Switzerland to make arrangements for our wedding but on my arrival in Rahrchach I looked up the Mayor and told him that I wanted to get a marriage license, that I was an American citizen and my girl was a Bavarian. He informed me that we could not marry in Switzerland as we more not subjects of Switzerland. When I returned to the hotel I met an Englishmen who told me I might be able to get married at the American Consulate at Zurich Switzerland. When I got there I was told that there had been a law many years ago where an American citizen could be married at the Consulate but that the law had been abolished, and that it would be impossible for us to be married in Switzerland. I set down and wrote my girl how things were and told her that I was going to leave at once for Paris France. I found out when I got to Paris that I would have to go through so much red tape that it would be et least six weeks before I could get a marriage license so I gave up that idea. 

I wrote my girl that I wanted her father to bring her to South Hampton England and that we could get married there. Her father was afraid to cross the English Channel so that ended our trying to get married in the old country. I wrote her that I was leaving Paris on the Normandy, for the United States. When I got back to Albuquerque New Mexico, I wrote my girl that if she still wanted to marry me she would have to come to the United States. I bought a store at Cerrillos, New Mexico. I wrote my girl that if she would come to New York that I would meet her there and we could be married at once on her arrival. She wired me when she left Germany for New York, but when the time came for me to leave to go meet her my clerk quit and I had no one to leave with my store. I wired a friend of mine by the name of Fletcher to meet my girl and show her the city and when she was ready, to put her on a through train for Las Vegas, New Mexico. I met her on her arrival at Las Vegas and we were married in the parlors of the Plaza Hotel, by Chief Justice O'Brien, in August, 1890.
Charles Ilfeld, Max Nordhouse and some of the sales ladies of the Ilfeld.

Mrs. Florence Cravens
By E. L. Crawford
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln
Surnames mentioned: Cravens, Watson, Walker, Johnson, Reeves, Gomez, Bell, Geronimo 

I was born in Austin Texas, in 1874, and lived there until I was twelve years old, I have lived in the state of New Mexico, for fifty one years, and in Lincoln County thirty three years. My father, W. M. Watson, my mother, one sister, two brothers and myself, left Austin Texas, in October 1886 in an immigrant train consisting of seven covered wagons. Each wagon was drawn by four horses. There was the Johnson family, father, mother and six children, the Reeves family, father, mother and eight children.

One wagon hauled nothing but provisions, the other six wagons were for the families and their clothing and bedding. Each family had their own chuck box on the back of their wagon and each family did their own cooking. Mother and I did the cooking for our family. I was the oldest girl and Mother was in very poor health which is the reason that we left Texas. Father had owned a farm on the Colorado river just below Austin, where we raised chickens, ducks, geese, hogs, cattle and some horses. We raised all kind of feed for our stock and lots of garden stuff. Before we sold out the farm to come west we canned a lot of stuff from our garden, cured up a lot of hog meat and made lots of candles out of beef tallow and cotton string for our trip to the west. Mother had her own candle moulds and brought them with her. We ground our own corn meal before leaving the farm so we had enough provisions to do us until we reached Silver City New Mexico, so we thought. On the trip we made sour dough biscuits and corn pones and baked them in Dutch ovens. We had a cow hide stretched underneath our wagon to carry the cooking utensils in as they were too black to go inside the wagon. We used wood to cook with until we reached the staked plains in west Texas and then we had to use Buffalo and cow chips as there was no wood on the plains. What a happy bunch we were. 

The first night we camped out somewhere between Austin and Llano Texas, on some river, I can't remember the name of it. The trip was such a lark for we children until we reached the staked plains, and there the coyotes and wolves would howl at night and scare we kids nearly to death. The men folks hunted for antelope and deer all the way along and that was the only fresh meat we had until we got to Pecos, Texas. All the children in the crows were so afraid of the Indians for we had heard the older folks tell about the horrible things the Indians did to the white people coming to the west. We would be riding along and would see the tall daggers in the distance and we just knew it was a band of Indians waiting to attack us when we got near enough. I wanted to see a body of water so bad while crossing the plains that when I saw my first mirage I just knew that we were coming to a lake of water soon, but we never got to the lake. I was raised on the Colorado river in Texas and had always been used to lots of water. One day while traveling on the plains we ran short of water for drinking and cooking. We had to travel late into the night until we came to some lakes northwest of San Angelo Texas. We struck the Concho River just below San Angelo Texas and camped in a big pecan grove on the river. We camped there for several days and gathered pecans. While traveling across the plains we always tried to make it from one camp ground to another. 

One night we were late making the camp ground and by the time we had our suppers and fixed the horses for the night it was dark. We all went to bed and were just about asleep when we heard the coyotes and wolves howling and snarling some distance from our camp and they kept it up all night. We could not make out what they were after for we knew that they were not after our horses. Early the next morning father got up and walked out in the direction from where we had heard the wolves and coyotes and found that they bad been digging in a new made grave. He called to the other men to come and help him fill in the grave as the wolves and coyotes had dug down to the coffin. The coffin had been made of pine boxes and what small pieces of wood they had had with them. 

There was a small board with the name, Lillie Walker, Age 16 years, which they put at the head, of the grave. We left the camp on our way and overtook an immigrant train and we all camped together the next night and they told us about Lillie walker taking sick and dying on the plains and that her father and mother were in the immigrant train and how broken hearted they were because they had to leave their child all alone out on the plains. She had died one night and they had to bury her the next morning as they were short of water for their stock and had to keep on their way. This made a deep impression on me and I have never forgotten it. I was so sorry for the girl's father and mother. We traveled with these people until we got to Pecos Texas and they went on to White Oaks New Mexico to the gold fields. It took us about two mouths to make the trip from Austin to Pecos Texas. We had traveled slow and when we came to a nice place where there was nice grass for our horses and wood and water we would lay over several days to let the horses rest and the families wash.

I shall never forget when we first came in sight of the Pecos River. We were so glad to see so much water but when we reached the river it was way up and such dirty red water. We had to dip it up in buckets and barrels and let it settle before we could use it. We crossed the river on the Texas and Pacific Railroad bridge between Pecos and Barstow Texas. When we got to Pecos Mother was feeling so bad we had to lay over there until she was able to travel again. The rest of our party went on into Lincoln County New Mexico. We never heard from them after they left us. Mother was so bad while we were in Pecos that I had to take all the responsibility of the family and raised the two smaller children, for my Mother died in the fall of 1887.

While we were living in Pecos waiting for Mother to get strong enough for us to travel, Father worked for the Texas and Pacific Railroad Company. We four children dug mesquite roots and sold them for fire wood and also traded them to an old Dutchman for vegetables. About the time we were ready to leave Pecos Texas for Silver City New Mexico there was a family by the name of Henderson living in Pecos. One of their small boys picked up a silk handkerchief along the railroad track and took it home to his Mother. In a few days the whole family took down with smallpox. The mother and six children died, leaving the father and one four year old boy. The people of Pecos had rushed to the Henderson family when they first became ill and before they knew what was the matter with them, and every one that went to the Henderson home took smallpox and lots of them died. Our being new comers and not knowing very many people is all that saved us from having this dreadful disease. They traced the source of the disease back to the silk handkerchief which was supposed to have been thrown from a passenger train as there was no smallpox at Pecos at that time.

Another sad thing happened at Pecos while we were there that impressed me. I have forgotten the name of the family. The husband was the foremen of a big cattle company that had several cattle ranches near Pecos. He had to go to Pecos each month to get the money to pay off the ranch hands. This particular time he had quite a sum of money. When he got home he put the money under the head of his bed as he was not to pay off until the next day. He always kept a loaded six shooter at the head of the bed. Late in the evening he came to his wife he had to go to one of the other ranchers and that he would not be back that night. He told her to be sure and lock the house up good and be careful of the money. After her husband left she went into the bedroom to see that the money was all right, and to be sure that the gun was where she could get it real quick if she had occasion to use it. She found that every cartridge had been taken from the gun and she could not understand that as it was always loaded. She looked up some more shells and loaded the gun and went to bed and to sleep.

Some time in the night she was awakened by some one in the room. She reached under her pillow and got the gun and asked "Who's there?" The man did not answer but kept on walking toward the bed. She fired point blank at him and he fell. She waited a few minutes and got up and lit a lamp and found that she had killed her own husband. Then she realized why the gun had been unloaded. Everybody decided that the man had decided to get the money himself. My father sat on the Coroner's jury who held the inquest for the dead man. I was about twelve years old when this happened but I have never forgotten it.

We left Pecos Texas in February 1887, for Silver City New Mexico. My Mother's father, A. F. Bell, and her mother and five brothers lived on a cattle ranch there. There were eight wagons in this immigrant train, some going to New Mexico and some to Arizona. Mr. Henderson, the man who had lost his family from smallpox, and his little four year old boy traveled with us in this train. He stopped at Lordsburg New Mexico. The trip from Pecos to El Paso Texas was an awfully hard one on us as my Mother felt so badly and it was such cold weather. We stopped in El Paso Texas for several days and camped where Washington Park is now located. I saw my first adobe houses in El Paso and we ate our first frijole beans. The immigrant train split up at Lordsburg New Mexico, most of them going on into Arizona. My father was anxious to go to Arizona too but my mother was feeling so bad that she wanted to go to Silver City where her people were so that she could be near her mother. We stayed in Lordsburg until June and then started for Silver City by way of the Burro Mountains. 

We children were anxious to see the place where Geronimo killed Judge Gomez and his wife and had taken their five year old son away with them. The soldiers from Fort Bayard New Mexico and the Scouts went after Geronimo and his band of Indians. They trailed them to the line of Old Mexico where they met a band of squaws who told the soldiers and scouts that the little boy's brains had been dashed out against a tree. Mr. Cravens, the men I afterwards married was one of the Scouts who trailed Geronimo then. Mr. Cravens ran a livery stable in Silver City at that time and Judge Gomez and his wife and small son were on their way to Lordsburg, in a buggy rented from Mr. Cravens, when they were attacked by Geronimo and his band of Indians. They shot one of the horses to stop the buggy and took the other horse away with them. After I was married to Mr. Cravens we were down in Mexico in 1902 and we were told that the Gomez boy had not been killed, that he was the chief of a band of Indians.

After we got to Silver City the people there told us such horrible things about what the Indians did to the white people around there. I remember one of the stories they told was that the Indians had taken a little white girl and hanged her on a meat hook. When we got to Silver City father took up a claim west of the town on the Gila river. We had some cattle and a small farm. Mother died in the fall of 1887. That was the first year of the Cattle Men's war in Grant County.

I met Mr. Cravens in Silver City and we were married in 1898. We had no children. My father died in 1902. Mr. Cravens and I came to Lincoln County New Mexico in 1905. We bought a ranch at the foot of Nogal Peak, eight miles south east of Carrizozo, where we raised cattle and Mr. Cravens did some prospecting for gold. Mr. Cravens died in Carrizozo, New Mexico, May 1, 1936. Mrs. Florence Cravens. Aged 63 years.