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Family History Stories Paraphrased
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Eugene Manlove Rhodes
Mrs. Bella Ostic
Eugene Manlove Rhodes
Mrs. Bella Ostic
Mrs. Pauline Myer

Begin Family Histories:

Eugene Manlove Rhodes
By Janet Smith
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Bernalillo
Surnames mentioned: Rhodes, Hopewell, Cross, Ostic, Blazer, Garrett, Hinckle, Coe, Rossman, Elliott, Fall, Ritos, Dines, Nations, Benson, Goins, Threlhold, Leussler, Houghton, Mifflin

Interviews with Mrs. A. S. Hopewell 
and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hopewell
I'm sorry I never knew Eugene Rhodes, Mrs. Hopewell told me. We did work on my husband's ranch, the John Cross Ranch near Palomas. That was before I was married. I suppose it must have been about 1893 and 1894 that he worked there. I never saw him, but I've heard the other cowboys speak of him. They used to be always laughing about Rhodes for reading all the time. I've heard them tell how he'd be riding along, reading a book and paying no attention to his horse, when suddenly the horse would shy at something and Rhodes would lose his seat. One time they told about his leading a pack animal when the horse jumped and Rhodes flew off and away the went the mule.

My son, Robert, knew him in Santa Fe after he came back to New Mexico from the East. Maybe he could tell you some things. He'll be in in a minute. Would you like to see some pictures of the ranch. Here's one of the outfit, but I guess Rhodes wasn't in that one.

While I was looking at the pictures, Mr. Robert Hopewell and his wife came in. They were interested in Rhodes but had only seen him once or twice. I saw him a few times in Santa Fe after he returned to the West, Mr. Hopewell said, and we had a great time talking over old times and places. He would ask me about different characters down around Engle and Palomas, whether they were still alive, what they were doing now. We had a phenomenal memory. I remember at the time I had just read a story of his in the Post, I can't remember just which one now, in which he described a certain trail I knew very well. He described it perfectly, every turn, every tree and stone you might say. I thought at the time that it must have been many years since he had been over that trail. Nearly thirty years, he said when I asked him about it.

Don't you remember the time we played bridge with them in Santa Fe? young Mrs. Hopewell broke in. How he would bid and then rush around he table and look at his wife's cards and tell her how to bid? She knew a lot more about the game than he did, but he always told her how to bid and she never seemed to mind. She was a great big woman, very New England in appearance, and he was such a little man. And all the time he called her Missie. I don't think we ever did hear him call her anything but Missie, did we?

Mr. Hopewell laughed as he recalled the incident his wife described. I'll tell you, he said. I'm afraid we can't help you very much because we know him so slightly, but I can give you the names of some people who knew him well, and you could write to them, though I doubt if some of those cowboys would sit down and write a letter that would be of much use to you. If you would go down and talk to them that would be the best thing. You could undoubtedly get some good material from Mrs. Jewett Gal Elliott, if you would just write to her. You know John was very much interested in Rhodes. I wouldn't be surprised if he was the person who first encouraged him in his writing. Rhodes lived in a house of his at one time. The others you might not have much luck with unless you could talk to them but I'll give you the names.

Persons in other parts of the state who should be able to give biographical material concerning Eugene Manlove Rhodes, suggested by Mrs. Bella Ostic: By Mr. Almo Blazer; Miss Elizabeth Garrett; Mrs. James Hinckle; Mr. Jap Coe; Mr. Dana Rossman. Persons living in other parts of the State who should be able to give information concerning Eugene Manlove Rhodes suggested by Mr. Robert Hopewell. Mrs. Jewett Fall Elliott; A. Fall; Tres Ritos, Johnny P. Dines; Winston, New Mexico; Lee Nations; Harry Benson; Leonard Goins.
Mr. James Threlhold of the New Mexico book Store suggests writing to the Western Representative of Houghton who, he says, in very much interested in Rhodes, in connection with his early published stories: Harrison Leussler, Houghton Mifflin Company.

Mrs. Bella Ostic
By Janet Smith
Interviews on Eugene Manlove Rhodes
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Bernalillo
Surnames mentioned: Ostic, Rhodes, Sutherland

I've been thinking since you were here the other day about Gene Rhodes, and I thought of a few little things that don't amount to much but I thought I'd tell you anyhow. I found a poem Gene sent to me a long time ago, too. I've had it around so long it got torn, but you can have it if you want it. I wrote to Tucumcari for those others but they don't answer and I shouldn't wonder if my grandsons have gotten into them and destroyed them by this time. Mrs. Ostic rummaged in an old tin box and handed me a tattered piece of paper with some verses on it.

I was thinking the other day about how a woman by the name of Mrs. Sutherland, from La Luz she was at the time, told me before I ever met Gene that some day he would be a great writer. She had been visiting at the Rhodes and Mrs. Rhodes like to show off her boys and showed her some of Gene's poetry. I sure thought Mrs. Sutherland had made a mistake when I saw Gene. He was the last person I would ever have expected to make something of himself. I guess I told you everybody used to think Gene was a fool. Even his mother used to say he was a fool, though she was fond of him, too. She always thought his brother, Clarence, would amount to more than Gene ever would.

Another thing I was thinking about was I didn't tell you how he happened to call his horse Docre. Everybody thought that was such a queer name. So one day I asked him where he ever got such a name as that. He said, Well, his real name is Devil. But I thought if I went around calling Devil all the time, people would call me on it, so I named him Docre and I can call him Docre as much as I please. That was the horse that used to throw him so much, and Gene thought the world of him.

Then I was thinking, too, how Gene always kind of fancied him as a private detective. He was always mixing up in things and making up old arguments. Like that article of his in Defense of Pat Garrett. Gene was always mulling over old scraps, thinking he could be the one to discover something about them that nobody else had seen. The last time I ever saw Gene, we went to the railroad station with him and his wife. When he got on the train, he came back out to the platform and bid farewell. He was always doing some sad thing like that. Such things seemed to appeal to him.

Eugene Manlove Rhodes
Interview with Mrs. Bella Ostic
By Janet Smith
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Bernalillo
Surnames mentioned: Rhodes, Ostic, Riley, Fountain, Lummis, Casad, Hesman, Roosa 

My, yes, I know Gene Rhodes well, Mrs. Ostic answered. Guess I hardly ever knew anybody any better than I did Gene. Come in. Sit down. She walked over to a shelf and took down a photograph of a girl. From the back of the frame she removed several pictures, sorted them over, and handed me two of them. One was an old fashioned photograph in bad condition, a picture of a boy with a heavy determined mouth tightly shut, closely cropped hair, direct eyes, a slightly defiant air about him. The other was a snapshot of a man standing in profile beside a horse. He wore riding breeches, and a Stetson hat. His features were clearly outlined against the horse's dark neck, the nose aquiline, the chin definite. He had the slightly protruding sag about the abdomen, unusual in a cowboy, of a man of forty or thereabout.

That old photograph is a picture of Gene when he was nineteen, Mrs. Ostic told me. He got mixed up in some kind of a political scrape, and somebody threw him down a well. His scalp was all torn and lacerated and they had to cut his hair off short. It was just growing out in that picture. What was the scrape about? I asked curiously. I don't remember, and I don't know as they ever did find out who was responsible for throwing him down that well. I know Gene was a Republican but that's all that I can tell about it now.

I knew Gene for a good many years, Mrs. Ostic went on. His father was agent on the Mescalero Indian Reservation, and my father was the blacksmith there. Gene was about seventeen or eighteen when I first knew him. He was born in Nebraska. His father's name was Hinman and he had been a senator from Nebraska. His mother's name was Julia. They had a ranch in the San Andrea's and I believe came to New Mexico two or three years before I knew them. Anyhow, I know Gene was born in Nebraska and so was his little sister Helen, Nellie we called her. She was only a little girl when I first knew them so they couldn't have been in New Mexico many years before that.

When Mrs. Rhodes needed something done she used to send for me to come over and help her. That's how I got to know Gene so well. His mother was a politician, always writing and going to Washington and doing things like that. She was a meddlesome kind of woman, always writing to somebody, telling this and telling that. She was just meddlesome, that's all there is to it, and she usually had her family in hot water of some kind. I liked her, though. She was splendid company.

Mr. Rhodes was a quite, serious man. He was a thoroughly honest man too, Mr. Rhodes was. So was Gene for that matter. I know the ring at Las Cruces was always trying to get Mr. Rhodes. William Riley who died not so long ago, was a cattleman and politician, and he was the head of the ring. They didn't like it because Mr. Rhodes wouldn't accept poor beef from them, and tried to cause him a lot of trouble. Colonel Fountain, the one who was murdered, you remember, and they never found his body, he was an honest man too and was always on Rhode's side. The ring never did succeed in running Mr. Rhodes out though. He stayed there until he was retired on a pension. I believe Gene got along better with his father than his mother. Though his mother was very fond of him, too. She always called him Genie.

Gene couldn't ever talk just right, he had a kind of lisp. I don't know as you would call it a lisp either, but he couldn't pronounce Odes. He would say instead of Rhodes. There were other words he couldn't say too which made it difficult for some people to understand him. Although to me, I understood him perfectly. Gene went to college in San Jose, California. One of his college friends was visiting him one time, and he told me that when the boys asked Gene what his name was he told them Eugene Manlove Odes. They all called him Odes until finally he wrote his name of a piece of paper and handed it to this boy and said, Here, tell these fellows what my name is.

Mrs. Ostic settled back in her rocking chair. I suppose you want to know more about how he looked than you can see in that photograph. He wasn't a bad looking boy, not good looking either. His forehead was always a little too protruding for his other features. He had blue eyes and light hair and a reddish face. He was a little above medium height, not fleshy, rather slender. I don't remember seeing Gene ever in anything but moccasins. He always wore a brown suit, some coarse brown goods with a big plaid. I never saw him with good clothes. Anything would do. I don't know how many shirts I patched for that boy. I remember, too, I made a harness for him to wear his gun under his shirt. He always seemed to think that people didn't like him, and that somebody was going to shoot him or something.

Gene was always kind of retiring. He lived at the Mescalaro agency for more than eight years, and I don't believe he ever had more than a bowing acquaintance with a few of the girls. He was no good at all as a mixer. He always seemed to feel that people didn't like him. And I guess they didn't very well. He was too far above the people that we had at that time. His mind was too good for our class of people. Except for this wife, I never knew him to have any women friends except the two Casad girls in Messilla Park. I remember once those two girls and a Manlove cousin of his stayed at our house for two weeks and they all went fishing a lot. But except for them I don't think he was friends with any girls. I never heard him speak much of men friends either, except for one fellow, Charles Lummis.

Gene always had a kind of gloomy outlook on life. He hardly ever laughed, and I don't know as I ever did hear him tell a joke. He always liked sad things, sad poetry and sad songs. One thing he loved, and that was to sing. But it was always some kind of a sad song. I remember he used to come over to my house. Maybe we'd be making bread, my sister and I. But Gene would call to my sister, Come on, you and Bella, I want you to sing la Golindrina for me. And nothing would do but we'd have to leave our dough and come into the parlor where the organ was and sing songs. When Gene got a notion to hear something, he was going to have it. The words to that song were not the same as the words they sing to La Golindrina now. It was something about a man who would never see the shores of Spain again. Nunca mas, nunca mas to ve. A very sad song, and Gene loved it.

He was really the strangest boy. He would go from one thing to another, he was just that changeable. We used to ride horseback together, and sometimes Gene would be telling me a story and suddenly burst out crying, for no reason that I could see. Just that changeable. He would come over to our house and sit down by himself and maybe I'd come into the room and there he'd be crying. He'd cry and cry and when I'd ask him what was the matter he'd just say I'm so miserable, so unhappy. But I never knew why. His mother always said it was because she was lonely and sad before he was born. Maybe that was the reason. Anyhow, I never could see any reason for his being that way.

Of course, Gene was always scribbling. While others were talking in a room he was scribbling something most of the time. When I knew him he used to write poetry more than prose. His poems were always about something sad. I remember one, those poems are at home in Tucumcari with some letters from him in a receipt box. I wrote the boys to send them, but they never did. Well, anyhow, I remember the last line of one of them was that death is far more kind than love or life'. All of them were along that line.

Before he left New Mexico Gene had quite a number of things published in a magazine called Out West. I remember he brought that paper over to me and wanted me to subscribe to it, because he said he was going to write or it. I did, but I never had much faith that Gene would ever publish anything much. Gene was usually considered a fool by everybody, poor fellow. I never thought he was a fool but he did seem to be awfully erratic.

He would do the craziest things of any fellow I ever knew. I remember once he wrote me a letter at midnight from the top of a mountain peak. It was the peak where he is buried. They call it Rhodes Peak now. I had asked him to find the words to a verse by Mrs. Hesman for me. He was on his way from Las Cruces to the San Andrea's and was camping for the night on the top of that peak when he sat down and wrote me a letter enclosing the poem I had wanted. I remember he said in that letter that there was not a lonelier man in the world than he was on the top of that mountain peak at midnight, but that nowhere else did he feel so near to God, or Nature, I guess he must have said Nature instead of God. Gene wasn't a Christian. Anyhow I never knew him to go to church.

Another thing about Gene, he was a great gambler. I guess that was the only thing Gene did that I didn't think was just right. I never did see him drink, but they used to say if he sat down to a gambling table, there was no dragging him away. Even in gambling though, he was always honest. A man told me once that he was a good card player, but the reason he didn't make a success at gambling was because he never would do anything the least bit dishonest.

I asked Mrs. Ostic if she knew why Rhodes left New Mexico for the East. He married the school teacher in Tularosa, she answered. She was from New York state and she wanted to go back East.
Didn't he get into trouble of some kind? I persisted.
Mrs. Ostic looked at me sharply. You mean something dishonest? Nobody could make me believe that Gene was not a distinctly honest man. He always was. If he didn't cheat at cards he certainly wouldn't cheat in the cattle business, or in any other way. He was always getting into a fuss over gambling things, debts and things like that, but I know he never did anything dishonest.

I remember three days before he left New Mexico he came to our house for dinner, he and his wife and his mother. Like usual, he had a gloomy look. As I say he always had a gloomy outlook on life, but I'm sure there was nothing special bothering him. If there had been I would have known it. That was the only time I ever saw his wife. She was a big woman rather pretty too. But she was a very proud woman. I remember when Gene came in he kissed me the same as he always did, and he said, Bella, I'm going to leave New Mexico in three days, and I want some of that good tapioca pudding you make, because I may never get any more of it. I told him I didn't have any tapioca in the house, and he said, Well, we'll excuse you to get some then. Gene was always fond of tapioca pudding. He hated green peas. I remember one day Mr. Roosa was reading a book by Rhodes, and he looked up and asked me if I knew any king of food that Eugene Rhodes especially disliked. Right away I said green peas. And it was green peas he had written about in that book. To get back to the last time I saw him though, after dinner we all went for a walk around the sawmill. And all that time and during dinner I don't think his wife ever said a word. I guess she thought he was too free with us poor people and she didn't like it.

That was in 1903 that he left New Mexico and I never did see him again. Some years after that I saw something about him in the paper, and I wrote to him. As I said he had some stories published in Out West before he left and he had the manuscript of that story, Paso For Aqui, but I never did expect him to get much published or amount to anything. When I saw that in the paper I was glad he had made a success, and I wrote him care of his publishers, and told him that there was still somebody in New Mexico who remembered him as dear Gene Rhodes. He answered right back. He told me that his oldest son was named Percy Allen. Percy Allen was the name of a song he was very fond of and we used to sing it together. It was supposed to be sung by a woman who said that if she had been able to marry her true love she would have had a son cradled under the wildwood tree. Her love was named Percy Allen.

Many years later he wrote me again from New York. He said he wanted to have a horse and a cow and live the way he used to in New Mexico, but he couldn't make it work out very well. He told me too that his nerves were all shot, and the reason was that one of his sons had been killed in the war.

The next time I heard from him he was back in New Mexico. He wrote me from La Luz that he had come back to get color for some of his stories. After that he left for California. Mrs. Ostic began rocking again and it seemed that her story was ended. Remembering the introduction to The Trusty Knaves, I asked her if Rhodes liked cats.

She smiled and said that he certainly liked her cat. He was always jumping up from the table to give that cat something to eat. We didn't have a piano in our house, but we had an organ. When Gene would play that organ the cat would come running from wherever he might be and walk up and down in front of the organ dragging his tail on the floor. I always thought that cat believed it was his tail that made the noise. Anyhow, whenever Gene would start pumping the organ, in two minutes the cat would be right there, prancing up and down, and dragging his tail. The cat was called Antonio Joseph. I taught school in Lincoln for awhile, and I took a kitten and a little dog away from some children who were abusing them. I named the cat Antonio Joseph and the dog Catron. They were the two big political figures in the State at the time. Both the cat and the dog seemed too weak and bedraggled to live long, and I said that whichever one died first, the man for whom he was named would be defeated. On election day the little dog Catron died, and Catron was defeated. When I took the cat home and showed him to Rhodes he said, I like the cat all right, but I don't think much of his politics. Rhodes was boarding at our house at the time. It was after his mother and father had left the reservation. One morning I was sleeping late, and Gene woke me calling at the foot of the stairs, Bella, Bella, he called. Hurry and get up. Antonio Joseph is Josie. She's had kittens. That was one of the few times I ever hear him say anything funny, and even then he didn't smile.

Gene had a horse, too, that he was very fond of. Docre was his name and Docre was a mean animal. But Rhodes thought the world of him. Docre would throw him. Rhodes wasn't a good rider, and Docre knew it. That horse would dump him about every day, but Gene would stay with it. I've seen him ride a bronco and be thrown as much as three times, and get up and ride him again.

Mrs. Ostic stopped again, and I asked her if she knew what kind of books Rhodes had been especially interested in. His people didn't have many books, she said. We didn't either. People didn't have so many books in those days. But I do remember that he often told me the stories of Shakespeare's plays. I remarked that I had heard that Rhodes hated the actual task of writing, that he even said he would never touch a pen or pencil again if he could think of any other way to earn a living.

He might have thought that, Mrs. Ostic answered. But he couldn't have kept from writing. He was always writing. When other people in the room would be talking and fooling, Gene would be over in some corner with a pencil, scribbling. I always wondered why he didn't write about the Indian people because he was very much interested in them, and was always taking notes.

I realized suddenly that it was considerably past lunch time and rose to go. As I was pulling on my gloves, Mrs. Ostic said, One thing about Gene Rhodes, he would stop anything anytime to help a person out. Once we had a diphtheria epidemic on the reservation. There was no hospital, no doctor even, and everybody was afraid to go near the people who died of it. And Gene and my father laid out the little body, made the coffin, and lowered it into the grave. The only people at the funeral were Gene and my father and my sister and I. Eight children in one Indian family died, one after the other, and every morning Gene stopped by to bring them water and see if they needed anything. Toward the end of the epidemic the government sent a doctor, a colored man. He was a good doctor and a fine gentleman, and we used to invite him and his wife to our house. But all the other white folks on the reservation would out them. Except Gene, he used to come over to our house often and play cards with them. I guess that's all I can think of to tell you about Gene right now. I didn't know any of the important things about him, but I used to know him pretty well. Maybe if you come back some other day I'll think of some more things.

Mrs. Bella Ostic
Janet Smith, Field Worker
Interview with Mrs. Clara Fergusson
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Bernalillo
Surnames mentioned: Ostic, Fergusson, Huning, McGarnigal, Franke, Convent, Brown, McGarnigal 

When I asked Mrs. Fergusson to tell me of her pioneer life in New Mexico, she answered, I'm not a pioneer in the exact sense of the word. I'm a native born New Mexican. I have spent most of my life here, and all four of my children were born her in New Mexico. Mrs. Fergusson's father, Franz Huning, came to New Mexico over the old Santa Fe Trail, by ox team in 1849. Her husband, Harvey B. Fergusson, was the first New Mexican Congressman.

Two of her children have loved and understood New Mexico so well that they have been able to describe and interpret the country and its people in several widely read volumes. Harvey Fergusson has written a number of novels, among them Blood of the Conquerors, Wolf Song, and Footloose McGarnigal, in which he has dealt with various types of New Mexicans and periods of New Mexican life, the Spanish American in his relation to a superimposed Anglo civilization, the mountain men in contact with the old Spanish culture, glimpses of Indian life, and somewhat caustic descriptions of the comparatively recent art colonies. Always the background, the feel of the country, is splendidly and convincingly done. Rio Grande, with the Rio Grande basin for its central scene, is, in the words of the author, an attempt to portray a region and to comprehend the present in terms of the forces that made it. 

His most recent book Modern Man, a profound and mature work, is concerned with modern behavior in the entire western world. In contrasting primitive with modern man, Mr. Fergusson makes use of his knowledge of the southwestern Indian, explaining his serenity and lack of the conflict so apparent in modern man, but his complete reliance upon the taboos of tribal custom. Erna Fergusson's first book was Dancing Gods, describing and explaining the dances and ceremonies of the Pueblo, Navjo, Zuni, and Hopi Indians. Fiesta in Mexico is a varied picture of Old Mexico seen through her fiestas. Hargey and Erna Fergusson are among the very few writers who have been able to give the feeling of New Mexico, including its beauty and strangeness, without falling into the lush and picturesque language. Perhaps their realness of approach is due in some part to the fact that they were born and grew up here.

I asked Mrs. Fergusson how she accounted for this quality in their writing, and she smiled and said that she was sure at any rate that all of their writing was well substantiated and authenticated, that neither of them spared any effort to add a significant detail or track down a source.

Mrs. Fergusson is a charming white haired woman. She has a keen way of looking at one, and smiles unexpectedly with her eyes. We sat talking on the porch of her modern adobe house at the Orchard Road. Orchard Road was one street that has been allowed to lag a bit in Albuquerque's effort for an efficient, eastern air. A huge old cottonwood stands not far from the middle of the unpaved road. At the side of Mrs. Fergusson's home are three old cottonwoods. I think it was the trees that drew me to the place, she said fondly.

Mrs. Fergusson told me that her father came to America from Germany in 1848. The port of New York was closed at the time, so he landed at New Orleans and went up the Mississippi to St Louis. In 1849 he went west and lived for some time in Santa Fe. He learned Spanish and interpreted for the soldiers, who had come with the American occupation of New Mexico. I believe he always liked languages better than business, Mrs. Fergusson said. In 1863 he located at Albuquerque where he ser set up a general merchandise store. Ten years later he brought to Albuquerque his bride, Ernestina Franke. She too had come from Germany to St Louis by way of New Orleans.

Mrs. Fergusson talked a little about her childhood which was spent in an adobe house in Old Town. The house, now known as the Calkins House stands on the north side of West Central Avenue at 1801. It is separated from the street by a high adobe wall, and approached through a wooden agate gate and a pathway arched by trees. Seen from the front the house is long and low and beautifully proportioned. An open portal extends entirely across it. Upon entering one discovers that the house is built completely around a large square patio. In the center of the patio is a cottonwood, so large and old that it is now supported by massive chains. The rooms are long and narrow and the walls are over two feet thick. The windows are small and the fireplaces huge. Of course, there was no grass in the patio or in front of the house in those days, Mrs. Fergusson explained, but one can easily imagine that it must have been a delightful place for a child to grow up in.

Mrs. Fergusson remembered two Mexican girls passing by dressed in bright calico and of straw slat sunbonnets, the some kind the covered wagon women wore. Their mothers were always wrapped in black shawls. She remembers hearing her father tell of seeing the Penitents whipping themselves with cactus whips, in the Old Town plaza, though she herself never saw them until years later, and then with more difficulty, in an out of the way Mexican village.

In the middle of the plaza stood an octagonal adobe house. In it dwelt the barber, a big fat man named Brown. Barber Brown was also the town's one dentist. Whenever anyone suffered from toothache, the barber called and pulled the tooth. On top of the octagonal house was a flag pole, and in the yard a cannon. It was the barber's duty to raise the flag and shoot off the cannon every Fourth of July.

The funereal funeral processions of children are among the strangest of Mrs. Fergusson's remembrances of this period. The box containing the small body was always placed in the middle of the wagon. It was covered with a piece of gay pink cambric. Around it sat the relatives, and in their midst a fiddler played bright and carefree tunes. The child's death was considered an occasion for rejoicing as the soul of a child who had not yet been touched by sin would surely go straight to heaven, thus escaping the trouble and sorrow of a longer earthly life.

She remembers two processions of Mexicans carrying the virgin through the fields and around the plaza, praying for rain. Later they would sit up all night in their houses praying and singing for the rain to come. The problem of securing a variety of food was a real one in those days. The Huning family did its own slaughtering. Her father built an ice house, and ice was hauled from the river. Water too was brought from the river every morning on a wagon loaded with big barrels. It was then poured into other barrels and allowed to settle. There were no oranges or lemons, and lemonade was made from a canned preparation. Terrible stuff, Mrs. Fergusson said, but we thought it was good. Her mother learned from the Mexican women how to dry and preserve the native fruits. Everybody made wine. Mr. Huning built the first steam flour mill, and the natives would come in with their wheat and corn in exchange for flour. Very little money was used, Mrs. Fergusson told me. It was mostly a matter of trading. The people brought what they had raised to the store and received things that they could not produce themselves in return. A general merchandise store in those days had everything. Twice a year my father went to St Louis over the Santa Fe Trail, with ten or twelve wagons drawn by mule teams and returned with all kinds of merchandise. There is in one of the rooms of Castle Huning now a Steinway piano my father brought out by mule team.

I asked Mrs. Fergusson about her early schooling. She replied that the Brothers had schools for the boys, but it was evidently not thought worth while to teach a girl in those days. When she was nine her father sent her to Santa Fe, an overnight trip by stage, to spend a year at Loretto Convent. Her greatest treat there was to be allowed to go into the garden of ArchBishop Lamy. She remembers him as a tall, handsome man with a kind smile. She does not think that Willa Cather portrayed the real archbishop at all. Later Mrs. Fergusson's father brought her a governess from St Louis, and still later she was sent there to school.

Mrs. Fergusson remembers the time the Rio Grande flooded over its banks, she believes it was in 1874 or 1875. The water came down as far as the point that later became Twelfth Street. The people in Old Town, which was then all there was of Albuquerque, withdrew to the sand hills, where they lived in tents until the water subsided. It was the railroad, Mrs. Fergusson said, which finally changed Albuquerque and the pattern of life here. She remembers when the first train came in 1881. Everybody turned out for a big celebration, speeches and a dance in the evening.

Soon after that I went to Germany for two years, Mrs. Fergusson told me. When I left there was only the railway station about a mile from the houses in Old Town and a dusty lonely road stretching between. A man named Cromwell built a track between the two towns and a mule pulled the car. Later the line was electrified. When I returned from Germany the single street reaching toward old Town was built up as far as Sixth Street. Another street ran along by the tracks. New Town was shaped like a big cross.

The new town was different from the old. Instead of quiet, low adobe houses shaded by cottonwoods, it was built of wood. There were stores, some of them with two story fronts, and nearly every other building was a saloon or a gambling house. The sidewalks were rickety board walks. There was a sense of high excitement and feverishness and noise. Before the coming of the railroad, Mrs. Fergusson said, there was nothing very effective in the way of law or law enforcement. There was a great deal of stealing, especially horse thieving, and sometimes shooting. People had to take the law into their own hands, and thieves were strung up on the tree nearest to the place where they were caught more often than not.

After the coming of the railroad there was even more lawlessness for awhile, but within a few years things quieted down here, and the outlaws moved on to wilder places. With the railroad come sober solid business men, interested first of all in making money. They intended to have safe respectable homes for their wives and children, and an environment that would appeal to home builders, and before many years Albuquerque had become a comparatively peaceful place.

Sometime before the first train came, men had started work on the great, white house, surrounded with tress add coolness, known as Castle Huning. In a country where the houses were sprawling and earth colored and were  casually built, a white house with a tower and plumb lines, that took three years to build must have been a cause for conversation. The walls of the house were made of terrons, cut from the sod, and larger than adobe bricks. Cement imported for the foundation was imported from England. Lumber was brought in from Illinois. The house was patterned from houses which Franz Huning remembered in Hanover Germany, and it was named Castle Huning. In 1883 it was finished. Apart from the slow Spanish life of the Old Town, it stood equally remote from the wooden shanties and hectic life which was rapidly gathering about the railroad station to the east. In its solemn interior one of the rooms is today preserved in the style in which it was originally furnished and heavy draperies, a patterned carpet on the floor, gilt framed enclosing serious faced family portraits, be-tasseled furniture.

The year after the coming of the railroad Harvey B. Fergusson, a young attorney from Wheeling, West Virginia, came to New Mexico as attorney for the North Homestake Mining Company. He decided to remain permanently in the territory, locating at Albuquerque. In 1887 Harvey Fergusson and Clara Huning were married. For awhile Mr. and Mrs. Fergusson lived in the Castle, and their first child, Lina, was born there. Later they moved to the beautiful old adobe house in old Town where Mrs. Fergusson had spent her childhood. There three other children Harvey, Francis, and Erna were born.

Most people don't know I have more than two children, Mrs. Fergusson said, because Lina and Francis left Albuquerque when they were rather young and don't come back very frequently. Lina is married and lives in California, and Francis is head of the dramatic department at Bennington College . I am going there to visit him and his family this month. I asked Mrs. Fergusson if she would tell me a little about the two children who are so well known for their portrayals of the New Mexican scene.

Harvey, she said, was always a dreamy, imaginative child, too much so to suit his teachers. They used to say he was forever gazing out of the window instead of paying attention to his lessons. He was never very interested in competitive sports, football or even tennis, but he loved to go away by himself, hunting or just wandering with his dog and his horse, still does in fact. His father wanted him to study law, but Harvey wasn't interested. He studied at the University of New Mexico, where he majored in English. During the summers he worked in the Forestry Service. He used that material in parts of Footloose McGarnigal years later. 

I think Harvey always had the idea that he wanted to write. Later he continued studying at Washington and Lee, his father's university. I guess his father decided finally that there was no use trying to push him into the law business, and Harvey took a job in a newspaper office in Washington when his father was in Congress there. Later he was connected with the Haskins Syndicate. He gave up steady positions to try fiction, and he has been writing books ever since.

Erna graduated from the University of New Mexico and got her MA at Columbia. She used to write a little for the newspapers in Albuquerque, going about talking to people about old times and writing up their stories. Harvey always encouraged her to write, but she was not very sure she could do it until she had her first book published.

I asked Mrs. Fergusson whether Harvey and Erna Fergusson were at present working on books. Harvey, she said, agreed to write two books on the Guggenheim fellowship, one non-fiction, which was Modern Man, and the other, fiction. He is engaged on the novel now. Erna is writing a book on Guatemala. There, she finished with a smile, don't you think that's enough about the Fergusson family?

Mrs. Pauline Myer
Janet Smith, Field Worker
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Bernalillo
Surnames mentioned: Myer, Meyer

Soon after she was married in 1875, Pauline Myer traveled from her home in San Francisco to join her husband in New Mexico. He had gone on ahead so that he might investigate the country. He wrote to her saying that it was a rough place, and so, she says, she found it. But her husband had good prospects in the wool business there, and she was eager to see a new country. She took the train from San Francisco to Ogden, Utah. After a short wait she took another train for Cheyenne, Wyoming. There she had to stay over a day before she could make connections south to Denver. In Denver she changed again for Pueblo which was as far south as the train went.

Her husband, Bernard Meyer met her in Pueblo with an ambulance, as covered wagons more called in New Mexico. It was a fine ambulance, Mrs. Myer said, with a leather covering. He had a fine pair of horses too. But the journey to Rio Puerco, New Mexico, she hardly likes to talk about. It was so full of hardships and discomforts. It rained and the adobe roads were inches deep in mud. They changed horses frequently. Usually the change was from bad to worse. The country seemed like a foreign land to her. In the houses where they stopped for the night, the women could not understand her, and they had strange ways of cooking. They patted lumps of dough into sticky, round, and  thin cake-like objects called tortillas. When her husband asked for directions, the men seemed too indolent even to point. They pursed their lips, and lifted their chins in the general direction they wished to indicate and said hello in Spanish. It was only occasionally that she saw an American face, and then she says she was tickled.

After a journey of about two weeks, she reached her new home in  Rio Rancho, a little Mexican settlement about twenty-five miles south west of Albuquerque in Bernalillo County. Mr. Meyer had a general merchandise store there. He sold the natives sugar and coffee and yards of calico for shirts and dresses, shoes and nails and kerosene oil. When Mr. Meyer was away buying sheep, Mrs. Meyer had to tend the store. At first she couldn't understand a thing the people said to bar but she very soon learned the names of most of the articles in the store and how to use simple greetings buenas dias and come la va!. Even after she was able to speak Spanish fairly easily, their brown faces seemed strange to her. I suppose it would be right in style now, she said, but in those days I thought I'd never seen anything like those women sitting around the store with cigarettes in their mouths, always laughing and happy.

Mrs. Meyer and her husband lived in a big adobe house, the best in town, she said. It was built around a placita, a kind of courtyard, she explained, with the building all around it. She rather liked her house for it was always cool in summer, and though it was not always warm in winter the fireplaces in one corner of almost every room were nice. It was hard for her to get used to the idea of having mud floors, but Neal, who came to work for her knew how to sprinkle them and sweep them with little straw brooms, so that they were hard and almost smooth.

In about a year her first baby was born and there was no time to get a doctor from Albuquerque which was twenty-five miles away. Whenever the baby was sick they had to write to the doctor describing his symptoms and the doctor would sent back instructions and medicine. That took a long time and the mail service was unreliable. If the people at the post office felt like it they gave you your letters and if they didn't they said there weren't any. The safest way was to send somebody on horseback he twenty five miles to Albuquerque with a note. One or twice there was an epidemic, smallpox and whooping cough. The time of the smallpox epidemic Mrs. Myer said that she worried for fear the baby would get it and her husband worried about her and the baby too. But it stopped at the house on one side of us, passed over our house, and stopped again at the one on the other side. Of course there was no such thing as quarantine. Mr. Meyer ordered the people to stay out of the store but they would come in laughing at him for being afraid of them. They just visited around from one to another and spread the disease. They never seemed to be at all afraid of it, but some of them died just the same. Then there would be a gathering, and we could hear them singing all night long. They would come to the store and buy up lots of food and spend the night praying and eating and singing around the dead one.

There were no amusements and Mrs. Myer was far from her family and friends, but she never had time to be lonely. Later when she and her husband moved to Old Town in Albuquerque, there was occasional dances given by the Mexicans. At first her husband used to take her if he thought the dance would be any way un-respectful, but it almost always ended in a fight. Usually somebody would shoot the lights out and the women would scream, and her husband would hustle he out the back door as fast as he could. What they fought about she didn't know, some little thing, or maybe nothing. But it was rare dance that ended without a fight, and after awhile her husband decided not to take her. She guessed she wasn't missing much. While she was in Rio Rancho there weren't even dances to go to, but sometimes there was excitement of a little different kind.

Mrs. Myer remembers one bitter cold night when she was awakened by a loud knocking at the gate. It was all hours of the night, she said. It must have been midnight at the least, and I heard a great commotion outside. She awakened her husband. Ben, get up, there's someone knocking at the door. Ben rolled over. Letem knock. In a minute she shook him again. Ben, they're still knocking. Who could it be at this time of night Whoever it is, I'm not moving on a bitter cold night like this. They can go on. But they heard people scrambling over the high wall, and in a minute the knocks began again at the door of the house.

Who's there? Mr. Myer called out. Open the door, was the answer. Not until I know who's there, her husband called back. You open that door, if you know what's good for you, was the reply. Mr. Myer got out of his warm bed then, and opened the door. Three tough looking men came in with the blast of cold air. Mrs. Myer said they were as frightful a looking set of men as you could want to see, armed to the teeth with guns and knives. He had a regular artillery.

One of them spoke very good English. He demanded food and hot coffee and a warm bed to sleep in. There was nothing that Mrs. Myer to do but get up too and fix them a meal. There was only one bed in the house besides the baby's cradle, so she and her husband were forced to go to the store for a new mattress and some blankets which they put on the dining room floor, and the three men went to sleep in their warm bed. They demanded to be called early in the morning and ordered a warm breakfast.

Mrs. Meyer said her husband woke her before daybreak and she hurried to prepare breakfast as they were both anxious to get the men out of the house. The three men ate in a hurry. Before riding away, they stopped at the store. Mr. Meyer had a  new saddle. He had paid sixty dollars for it and was very proud of it. One of the men wanted it. Not that saddle,  Mr. Myer said. You can have anything else, but not that saddle. However, as Mrs. Myer said, there was no use arguing with that kind of people. They rode away with the saddle. Both Mrs. Myer and her husband were glad to see them go. an hour or two later Mrs. Meyer looked out the window and saw a cloud of dust coming down the road. She knew that meant more men on horseback. She ran to the store to warn her husband, but he was already standing in the doorway watching it.

As the cloud came nearer they could distinguish one man riding in the lead and ten or so behind. In another minute they saw that it was the sheriff with a posse. They were heavily armed and pulled up their horses to ask Mr. Myer if he had seen three men on horseback. He told them the story of the pervious night and pointed to the northwest which was the direction the men had taken.

Several days later Mrs. Meyer and her husband heard that the sheriff and his men had overtaken the three men an had taken them to Bernalillo by another route. There they hanged all three at once from the same huge cottonwood tree. Their names she couldn't remember but she knew they had robbed and killed before coming to her house.

Mrs. Meyer lived with her son in Albuquerque. She is a pretty little old lady with high pink cheeks and blue eyes. She is friendly and willing to talk about the old days though she says it has been so long and things are so different now that it is hard for her to remember much. At that though she says her memory is better than any of her children.