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Family History Stories Paraphrased
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The Mormon Church
Mrs. Amelia Church
Mrs. Anna Brazel
Mrs. Annie E. Lesnett
Mrs. Caroline G. Weir

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The Mormon Church
By Muriel Haskell
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: General
Surnames mentioned: Shupe, Carson, McConnell, Baumgartner, Roger, Herrick, Stover

In 1880 when Judge W. K. Shupe was eighteen years old, he broke his right arm and was forced to spend a great deal of time in reading rather than in the active life of a young boy. Among the books which helped to speed recovery was the Autobiography of Kit Carson. Ten years later when a young man of twenty-two, he went to Tres Piedras, New Mexico, from his home in Independence, Virginia, and was employed by the Stewart McConnell sawmill. He was again taken ill and during his convalescence reread the famous Kit Carson autobiography. His first visit into Taos came shortly after his illness and was made particularly to see the old Kit Carson headquarters and his grave. Meanwhile Shupe had thought some of homesteading and that great area south of Tres Piedras and west of the Rio Grande. For eighteen years he investigated the flow of the, flooded ditch arroyo which was a main source of water for the country. He had covered this area thoroughly, roaming it on horseback for hundreds of square miles, finding a suitable spot for his father and uncle who had left Virginia, to also settle in New Mexico. So when the time came for Shupe to settle down it was in 1909 that he decided on the present site of the town of Carson. Shupe had decided that the Spanish names were too difficult to pronounce and since there was the town Kit Carson in Colorado, and Carson City in Nevada, he felt that New Mexico should have one town noted after the famous trapper and scout. The Shupe family were an old Virginia family and through their many contacts, interested two other families in homesteading with them. These were the Roger and Baumgartner families. These three families were the first of a Mormon group. Then arrived the Kling's in the spring of 1910, another family from Virginia. By this time the spot had become known as The Virina Settlement.

The group petitioned for a post office and September 6, 1912, Mr. J. X. Shupe was appointed first post master. They were also assigned a school district and December 1, 1912, school opened for the children of eight or ten families. School was held in a small frame house and Mr. Shupe was the first teacher. Other families came in 1913 and especially during the year 1914 there was an influx of new homesteaders.

This ambitious group began constructing a road across the Rio Grande canyon, the one which is still in use today. Previous to this all wagons or cars came by way of the Arroyo Hondo road over John Dunn's toil bridge. It was during this year of 1914 that it was thought admirable by a group of the Latter Day Saints in the community to organize a branch of the Mormon Church and also a Sunday School. The settlement was visited by Mr. John L. Herrick, resident of the western states with headquarters in Denver. A branch organization was formed and a friend. Shupe was appointed the first residing elder. Mr. C. J. Stover, another early pioneer, was Sunday school superintendent. The church grew and soon after its organization had ninety-eight members including children. It has been the only church organization in Carson.

This little settlement of courageous homesteaders, who year after year, planted suitable dry farming crops and then hoped that they would harvest enough to live on, grew and and prospered until 1920. At that census the precinct showed 243 persons. Then in 1923 high wages were being paid at the sawmill at Piedras and the mica mines nearby were very active. Soon many of the homesteaders, who have been gradually discouraged by the increasing drought each year, left their plows and the town of Carson to earn money in other fields of work. But W. K. Shupe remained and was elected Taos county Probate Judge in 1929 and 1930. By 1930 the population of Carson had dwindled to less than 150 including Taos Junction, some five miles to the west. This was the railway station of the Denver and Rio Grande Western and had been nothing but a railway building while Carson was prospering. However, the railroad had attracted business and a small community had been slowly developing there at  Taos Junction, while Carson had been going downhill.

The year 1933 to 1934 brought the most severe drought and those few farmers who still remained on their homesteads were reduced to bringing water in barrels and tanks loaded on trucks and wagons hauled five miles after being filled from the Rio Grande River itself. This hauled water supply had to take care of both household and stock purposes. This further reduced the population. Later a large land purchase by the government bought land to the south and west of this area which further reduced the population of Carson.

The Carson dam was finally built through the untiring efforts of Shupe and was built to make a reservoir of the natural flow of water through the arroyo aquago. This dam, one of the Government projects, was finished in March, 1938 and has made irrigable land of several thousand sores which were slowly turning into waste land.

Again Carson expects to prosper. Six families have already returned and others have written in inquiring about conditions and are very hopeful of joining the settlement. During this period the Mormon Sunday school had continued. There are at present duly registered. It was necessary to disorganize the church of the Latter Day Saints about 1925. It is hoped, however, by Mr. Shupe and other strong Mormon leaders in the community, that they will again be able to carry on their church affiliations. Source: Mr. W. K. Shupe.

Mrs. Amelia Church
By Georgia B. Redfield
Paraphrased By C. W. Barnum
Counties: Chaves, Lincoln
Surnames mentioned: Church, Bolton, Doyel, Davidson, Tunstall , Bonney, Coe, Fulton, McSween, Garrett, Brady, Hindman, Stockton, Mathews, Titsworth, Ollinger, Ochanpaugh, Harrison, O'Neil, Horrell, Keith, Tirkin, Chisum, Blandhardt, Hagerman

Mrs. Amelia Bolton Church, the daughter of John Bolton, who was head of the Quartermaster Department stationed with army officers at Fort Stanton, New Mexico, for protection of the early settlers from Indians, and wife of the late J. P. Church, a pioneer builder of Roswell has lived in Southeast New Mexico for sixty-seven years.

Native of Wexford Ireland,  Mrs. Church was born in Wexford Ireland July 3, 1862. In 1871 she came from Ireland to America with her mother, Ella, Doyel Bolton, and a brother and younger sister, who is Mrs. Ella Bolton Davidson. Mrs. Bolton and her children, on landing in New York, traveled by train as far as the railroad was built, and then by army ambulance and covered wagons, guarded by an army escort sent from Fort Stanton, by whom they were conducted safely through hostile Indian infested plains to what was to be their new home in the wild newly settled country of New Mexico: Abode Home at Fort Stanton Mr. Bolton had preceded his wife and children in coming to America. After they joined him at Fort Stanton he built for them a new adobe home. Here Mrs. Church lived happily with her parents and brother and sister the three first of her many continuous years of residence in New Mexico.

In 1873 John Bolton moved his family to the historic old town of Lincoln, New Mexico, where he was made postmaster. Here his daughters, Amelia and Ella grew to young girlhood, constantly surrounded by danger, not only from Indians, of whom they had lived in terror at Fort Stanton, but from the rough element of settlers of the new town, made up of cattle thieves, gamblers and murderers, and the gun battles of the two factions of the bloody feudal conflicts, known as the Lincoln County War. The true stories of some of those battles of which Mrs. Church is one of the few living eye witnesses and the traditions of the many historic places of interest in Lincoln County are desired by the Chaves County Archaeological and Historical Society for preservation in the Roswell Museum.

Lincoln County War:
The killing of John H. Tunstall on February 18, 1878 was the real beginning of the Lincoln County War. Tunstall, who was a popular young Englishman, had established a ranch on the Rio Feliz and stocked it with cattle and horses. William Bonney, who became known afterwards as Billy the Kid, and as a bloodthirsty man killer and outlaw, was employed by Tunstall to assist with the stock on the ranch. They became fast friends. The youthful outlaw made a resolve, while standing over the grave of his friend, that he would never let up until he killed the last man who helped to kill Tunstall. Tunstall was shot down by officials of the law, who were sent to take Tunstall's cattle and property because of his partnership with McSween in the mercantile business in Lincoln. Sheriff Brady was supposed to have been responsible for the attachment. Coe, Garrett's and Fultons versions not quoted Omitted by request Mrs. Church who wants to write a book on this subject. She does not agree on this version any way at all.

Tunstall's property issue, which resulted in his killing.
Killing of Major Brady Spring of 1878.
I knew Major Brady very well. Said Mrs. Church during an interview at her home in Roswell in September, 1938. Omitted He was sheriff of Lincoln County when he was killed. I saw him as he and another man, deputy sheriff George Hindman, lay dead in the street, shot down, as they were passing, by Billy the Kid and his gang, who lay hidden behind an adobe wall. Major Brady was killed instantly. George Hindman fell when he was shot, and Ike Stockton who was standing near, on seeing he was still alive, ran to him and gave him water that he brought from a ditch in his hat. However nothing could revive him for he was mortally wounded and died in a few minutes. The third man, Billy Mathews, who was with Major Brady when the shooting began, made his escape by running into an adobe house near by.

Old Lincoln County Court House Up stairs in the old Court House at Lincoln is the room where Billy the Kid was confined waiting his trial for the killing of Major Brady. There have been many untrue stories told of the Kid's sensational escape after killing his two guards Bell and Ollinger. I remember all the facts in connection with that escape, said Mrs. Church. Billy the Kid, was playing cards with Bell, while Ollinger, his other guard, was at dinner across the street, he saw his chance and grabbed Bell's gun. Bell darted down the inside stairway, but Billy the Kid was too quick for him, fired and Bell fell dead at the bottom of the stairs. Billy the Kid then walked calmly to a window and shot Ollinger down as he came running when he heard the street.

The Kid then threw the gun on Ollinger who lay dying and told Goss, the jail cook, to saddle a horse that was feeding in an alfalfa field near by. The cook helped get the shackles off the Kid's hands but, because they were welded on he couldn't get them off his legs that is why he was thrown from the horse because of having to ride side saddle on account of the shackles. He rode a mile and a half west before they were removed by a Mexican man, who afterwards gave the shackles to George Titsworth, who lived at Capitan, and possessed an interesting collection. The Old Court House is now in process of reconditioning and strengthening. It is to serve as a memorial to the pioneers after its restoration.

El Torreon: Old Stone Tower
In 1935, Mrs. Church worked untiringly with the Chaves County Archaeological and Historical Society in the securing and restoration of El Torreon the old round stone tower, built by Mexican settlers around 1840 or 1850, at La Placita which was later named Lincoln. The tower was first built to be used as a look out and protection against Indians. It served in later years as a place of refuge from white outlaws and as a refuge during the Lincoln County war.

I was interested in saving the old tower that was fast crumbling into ruins, said Mrs. Church, because we felt safer all through those dangerous years of outlawry just knowing there was always a place of safety to be found behind its protecting walls. It helped keep us brave at times when we needed courage.

My sister Ella and my mother and I were the only white persons of twenty seven, the rest were all Mexicans who spent the night crowded together in El Torreon after we had been warned to seek safety in the tower, for the dreaded Horrell brothers, outlaw murderers, were on their way to wipe out the town. There had been seven of the Horrell brothers. Two had been killed at a dance after the younger one of the brothers had started a quarrel over a Spanish senorita. This threatened invasion was suppose to be for the purpose of carrying out their threat to kill every man, woman, and child in revenge for the shooting of their brothers. We spent the night in fear and trembling, close by the side of our mother, but morning found us quite safe in the old tower. The Horrell's had accepted some kind of a truce offered by a friend. They were notified for the time being and no one at all was harmed.

I know now, said Mrs. Church, that our mother who possessed a brave and dauntless spirit and never complained during those dangerous times must have often longed for the peaceful security of her old home in Ireland.

The First Jail Built in Lincoln:
Mrs. Church remembers the building of the first jail in Lincoln, the first occupant of which was Billy the Kid. Mrs. Church wants to use this in book. I watched the men as they worked on the jail. Said Mrs. Church. They dug a square pit about nine feet deep, then they lowered into it, a rough closet like cell without any doors or windows. On top of the ground, over the cell they built a two room adobe house for the jailer. I saw them lower Billy the Kid through a trap door in the top to the cell below. There was a ditch running full of water close by. I was horrified when I heard one of the men who lowered the Kid inside say: Let's turn the water of that ditch into the cell and drown him like a cat.

Knew Billy the Kid and McSweens:
While many harrowing experiences and murders were indelibly impressed upon the young mind of Mrs. Church. She also remembers many pleasant social occasions during the years she lived in Lincoln. There were musicale parties and dancing. She knew Billy the Kid who sang well and was a good dancer. He was a welcome guest at many of the early social affairs of the town. She often visited in the home of Mr. and Mrs. McSween. Mr. McSween, though he never carried a gun, was one of the faction leaders of the Lincoln County War. She remembers Mrs. McSween as being a woman of refinement and culture. She was a good musician and owned a fine piano of which she was very proud. It was burned in her home, the night her husband was killed in the final battle that practically ended the Lincoln County War which took place in July 1878. Omitted

Married to Joshua P. Church:
Mrs. Church was married July 18, 1891 to Joshua P. Church then of Roswell who had been a resident of Southeast New Mexico since the spring of 1880. Children born to this union were Sophia, Mrs. L. L. Ochanpaugh, who lived in Roswell Joshua, a son, who lives in Deming, New Mexico; Aileen, Mrs. Langford Keith, who lives in Roswell and Elinor, Mrs. Richard M. Harrison, who lives in Nogales, Arizona.

Old Pauly Hotel:
The first home occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Church, after their marriage, was the old Pauly Hotel which was the first real hotel built in Roswell. They purchased the interest and holdings in the building from Mrs. Aileen O'Neal who had conducted the hotel for the first six months after its construction in 1890. After living in the hotel four years Mr. and Mrs. Church built the home where Mrs. Church lives at the present time at what is now 210 South Kentucky Avenue, and where the death of Mr. Church occurred in 1917.

Mrs. Church is one of the popular leaders of the social life of Roswell. She belongs to the Episcopalian Church, and is a member of the Roswell Woman's Club, of the Southwestern History Club, and Chaves County Archaeological and Historical Society, to which she has contributed much of her valuable time in the building of the Roswell Museum and the progress of its cultural development that is proving invaluable to the people of Roswell. The beautiful Pueblo style building designed by Frank Blandhardt Roswell architect. Dedicated to the Founders and Builders of Roswell is the culmination of the ideas of Mrs. C. D. Bonney and Mrs. Church, who first entertained the thoughts of building a suitable place to house the splendid archaeological collection owned by the society. It was completed as a WPA Project in the 1930's.

In the selection of Mrs. Church, by the committee of the society, as one of the four outstanding pioneer builders of Southwest New Mexico, of whom a bust was to be sculptured for the Roswell Museum, she was justly honored, above all the women contributors to the building and advancement of what was an undeveloped new section of the territory not so many years ago.

The life like heads modeled of Mrs. Church, John Chisum, Captain Joseph C. Lea and James J. Hagerman, the work of John Raymond Tirkin a Santa Fe sculptor, were done under the W. P. A. Federal Art Project of New Mexico. They have been placed in a room especially designed for them built, shrine like, in the four corners of the foyer of the museum. Here they will be safe and serve to perpetuate the memory of, not only Mrs. Church, but all the pioneer wives and mothers for whom she stands, and not only of the three pioneer men, associated with Mrs. Church as builders, but all those pioneers for whom their sculptured heads stand as symbols, who were contributors in the development and cultural advancement of a new civilization in the country of Southeast New Mexico.

Mrs. Church has ever been interested in, the welfare of the poorer class of people and has worked ceaselessly through the years to improve and broaden the lives of those less fortunate in educational advantages and beautiful surroundings. Gardening is her hobby. She is widely known because of her civic pride and achievements in developing beauty spots, in which trees and lovely lawns and flowers now flourish, where in the early days she saw only salt grass, mesquite and weeds grow in profusion. Mrs. Church and her family are appreciated and stand high in the regard of the Roswell people.

Mrs. Anna Brazel
By Edith L. Crawford
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Lincoln
Surnames mentioned: Brazel, Garrett

I was twelve years old when we left Murfreeboro, Tennessee, and seventeen when we arrived in New Mexico. We spent five years in the state of Texas, on our way to New Mexico, on account of my mothers health and the awful stories we heard about the Indians and the terrible deeds they were committing out in this part of the country.

I have lived in the state of New Mexico, forty seven years and most of the time in Lincoln County. I was married to William W. Brazel, July 19, 1894, five children were born to this union, three girls and two boys four of them are living in Lincoln County and the oldest boy in Tularosa, Otero County, New Mexico.

Little Creek, New Mexico was never a town just a settlement of farmers and stock men, our post office was Bonito City, New Mexico, eight miles west of Little Creek, we rode horse back to the post office about once a week for our mail. In later years there was a big saw mill located on the head of Little Creek, New Mexico.

Little Creek, New Mexico is located twenty four miles southeast of Carrizozo, New Mexico, and eleven miles east of Ruidoso, New Mexico My fathers farm on Little Creek, New Mexico, joined Pat Garrett's ranch home on the North, this is the old home place of Pat Garrett, where Miss Lizzie Garrett was born.

The X I T Ranch was in Texas between Plainview, Texas and the extreme west line of New Mexico, on the staked plains. The Long S Ranch was in Texas southwest of Canon City, Texas. The night my father reached the Long S Ranch in Texas come of the cowboys had found a white man wandering around in a circle they first thought he was crazy, but on riding up to him found he was about dead for water his tongue was swollen out of his mouth, the cowboys were giving him a couple of table spoons full of water at a time until he got so he could talk, he told the cowboys that he was trying to make it to the Long S Ranch and had become lost on the plains, had run out of water for himself and horse the horse had died from thirst, and he started to walk he knew not where looking for water.

Father said he would of have died in a few hours from thirst if they hadn't found him when they did. This happened when father was on his horseback trip to Boswell, New Mexico. One night while we were crossing the plains somewhere between Plainview, Texas, and Roswell, New Mexico, I do not remember just where it was, we heard an awful commotion. At first it scared us for we were afraid it was Indians, but Father soon detected it was a herd of cattle stampeding. We could not go back to sleep and just as it was breaking day Father got up and built a fire. In a short time two cowboys rode up and wanted to know if they could get a cup of coffee, said they were worn out from riding after the stampeding cattle the night before. Father made some coffee and cooked some meat and bread for them. They ate their breakfast and were soon on their way looking for their stampeding herd. The trail we traveled from Plainview, Texas to Roswell, New Mexico was the Butterfield Trail. It crossed the Mal Pais at Oscuro, New Mexico, now called the Mocking Bird Gap crossing, and went on over to Fort Selden, New Mexico.

Father and Mother sold their farm on Little Creek, New Mexico in 1894. They went back to Bowie, Texas and bought them a small farm. Mother only lived two years after they went to Bowie, dying in December, 1896. Father continued to live there for fifteen years. He sold his farm at Bowie and moved to Corpus Christie, Texas and went in for raising onions on a big scale. He did well with his onion farm. He died in Corpus Christie in October 1925 and was buried at Alpine, Texas. Source: Mrs. Anna Brazel.

Mrs. Annie E. Lesnett
By Edith L. Crawford
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Couties: Chaves, Lincoln
Surnames mentioned: Cauanauch, Lesnett, Dowlin, Raymond, Hoeradle, Dow, Dalton, Geronomo , Cree, Lesnett

I have lived in the State of New Mexico for sixty-one years. I came to New Mexico in March 1877, Maiden name Annie E. Cauanauch. I was born July 3, 1855 in Chicago, Illinois. I lived in Roswell, Chaves County, for twenty-five years and in Lincoln county for thirty-six years. I met my husband, Frank Lesnett, in Chicago, Illinois, when I was sixteen years old. He was born in the State of Ohio. He joined the regular army at Fort Seldon Ohio, in 1870, for a period of five years and was sent to Fort Stanton, New Mexico, to serve his enlistment, fighting the Indians. He was discharged in 1875 at Fort Stanton.

He came beck to Chicago Illinois, and we were married July 19, 1876., My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Caranaugh, lived in Chicago, Ill. We lived in Chicago for awhile but Frank was never satisfied, for he loved the west and wanted to come back to Lincoln County New Mexico, so he left me in Chicago with my people and he came back to Ruidoso New Mexico, and purchased about a half interest in the Dowlin's Mill. This mill was owned by Paul and Will Dowlin at the time. Frank stayed, in Ruidoso, New Mexico here and sent for me and our baby son, Irvin., In March 1877 I came by train from Chicago to La Junta Colorado, and from La Junta to Fort Stanton, New Mexico on Numa Raymond's stage coach, drawn by four horses.

Raymond and his bride, who was from St. Louis Missouri, were passengers on the stage with me. I do not remember any of the places that we stopped except Jerry Hoeradle's place, where we stayed all night and changed teams. We had a very pleasant trip, no scares from Indians or desperadoes, although I was very much afraid of the Indians. My husband had told me so much about them and how they would go on the war path, but at that time they were supposed to stay on the Mescalero Reservation.

My husband met me at Fort Stanton. He was driving two big bay horses to a Studebaker wagon. The horses were named Bill Johnson, and Bill Dowlin. How happy I was when my husband met me and we drove up the beautiful canyon toward the White mountains. It was in May 1877. We went by way of the Pat Garrett Ranch, which was located on Little Creek, is 24 miles Southeast of Carrizozo, New Mexico and eleven miles East of Ruidoso, New Mexico and on by the Alto and down Gavalan Canyon to the Ruidoso. Once he brought me a big wild turkey and another time he gave me a nice Indian basket. I gave the basket to Mrs. Hiram Dow, of Roswell, New Mexico and she still has it. When we arrived at Dowlin's Mill I saw some blood in the front yard. Frank told me that a man named Jerry Dalton had shot and killed Paul Dowlin the day before. Dalton left the country and was never heard of again.

My new home was four room log house, with a big fireplace in the front room, which we called the parlor. We used kerosene lamps and candles for lights. A man by the name of Johnnie Patton cooked for us. We boarded several of the men who worked in the mills and helped on the farms. We raised hogs and sold them to Fort Stanton. We raised our own feed to fatten the hogs and in the fall of the year the farm hands would butcher about a hundred hogs at a time. I would get some of the neighbor women to come and help render out the lard. We used a big iron pot and rendered up the lard out in the yard. I raised lots of turkeys and chickens and sold them at Fort Stanton.

I was always so afraid of the wild beasts that roamed around in the hills. I remember one time, my husband and the cook had to go to Lincoln to court, and left a Mrs. Johnson with me and my three children, to stay alone at night. One night after we had all gone to bed, Mrs. Johnson and I heard something prowling around the house. We lay real still and listened, for we did not know whether it was Indians or wild beasts. We did not have to wait long to know, for it was a mountain lion and when he got up real near the house he let out a roar. We all most died of fright for we were afraid that he would break the windows and come in after us. We moved all the furniture and barricaded the doors and windows. The lion kept walking around the house and roaring. After a while he left and went down to the cow pen and killed one of our milk pen calves. I told my husband when he came home the next day, that I would never stay home with just women folks again, and I never did while we lived on the ranch.

The Mescalero Indians from the Mescalero Reservation used to come to our place end trade. My husband had a small store and was post master at Ruidoso. I saw four buck Indians have a fight in front of our store one time. They pulled each other's hair out and fought with quirts. They fought for about an hour. I was in the store and was afraid to go to our house, although the Indians never did bother us. I was awfully afraid of them, especially when I first came to the Ruidoso. I was always good to the Indians. I gave them doughnuts and cookies when they came to the Mill and it was not long until all the Indians were my friends. Geronomo used to come to our place quite often. Once he brought me a big wild turkey and another time he gave me a nice Indian basket. I gave the basket to Mrs. Hiram Dow and she still has it.

There was usually a crowd of young people at the Mill and we used to ride horseback fifteen and twenty miles to a dance, and never think anything of it. In 1882 my husband bought out the interest of the Dowlin Brothers and he was sole owner of the Mill. We then moved into the two story building which still stands, with the old water wheel, about two miles from the town of Ruidoso. At that time we had a grist mill and a saw mill. All the surrounding country brought their grain to our mill to be ground. We used oxen to haul our logs for the saw mill.

I went back to Chicago Illinois on a visit to my people in 1879, but I did not stay very long as I was anxious to get back to my western home that I loved so well. I remember the Chicago fire well. I was sixteen years old, and when our mother woke us up that night and told us to get up quick get dressed because our house was about to catch on fire. We all got dressed and were gathering up the things that we wanted to save and when I got outside all I had in my hands was the bird cage, with the bird in it. Our home burned that night. That was in 1871.

In 1887 we sold our ranch and cattle on the Ruidoso to the Crees, who owned the V V outfit. We moved to Lincoln New Mexico, where we could have better schools for our children. We lived on the Ruidoso all during the Lincoln County War but my husband never took sides with either faction. I did give Billy the Kid several meals when he would come to our place, but my husband never knew anything about it, for he had warned we not to feed any of the men from either side, but I did it anyway as I felt so sorry for them when they said they were hungry.

Lincoln County was a wild country when I first came here and at first I used to get so homesick for my people in Chicago, but after I had been here a few years I liked it and never cared to go back to Chicago to live. Five of my children were born on the Ruidoso, one in Chicago, and one in Lincoln. We lived in Lincoln until 1890 and then moved to Roswell, New Mexico, and lived there for three years and moved back to Lincoln in 1893. I have lived in Carrizozo for the past ten years. Two of my children live with me. I am content and happy to spend the rest of my days here in Lincoln County.
Source: Mrs. Annie E. Lesnett.

Mrs. Caroline G. Weir
By Marie Carter
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Dona Ana
Surnames mentioned: Weir, Geck, Ynojas, Barrio, William, Meekins, Smith , Fink, Frank, Triviz, Esterly, Meekins, Kellogg, Bennett, Scoggins, Riddle, Allen, Lee,  Foster, Dukeminier, Latham

Mrs. Caroline Geck Weir lives in the family home of the Gecks at old Dona Ana . This house, she explained, dates back to 1839 or to the first colonists. My father, Lewis William Geck, who was a private soldier, settled on this land after the Mesilla Civil Colony Grant was established. In that year, which was 1850, half of the population of Dona Ana County moved to La Mesilla, Chihuahua. Some of our family seem to think that Lewis William Geck was a German, but he was not. He came from Poland, a stowaway, aboard a ship at the age of eleven. Here is part of a letter I received regarding his military record.

The letter proffered by Mrs. Weir was from Washington and read: Lewis William Geck was assigned to Co. H,1st Dragoons from which he was honorably discharged at Dragoon Camp near Evensville, Arkansas, on January 12, 1846 by reason of term of service as private he reenlisted at St. Louis, Mo., for five years Feb. 6, 1846 and was assigned to Co. H, 1st Dragoons from which he was honorably discharged Feb. 6, 1851 by reason of expiration of term of service as a private he was stationed at Dona Ana, N. M. This soldier was born in Poland and was 23 years of age at first enlistment.

Resuming her narration of the family history Mrs. Weir explained: My father, Lewis William Geck, was married three times. He was born in 1919 and died at the age of seventy-two. If you'll look out that east window you will see the graveyard, less than two hundred feet away from the house, where Lewis is buried between wife number one and wife number two. He reserved the center grave for himself and requested to be buried in it. Since I am a child by his third marriage it will be necessary to explain about wife number one and wife number two. There to a tragedy too, but I'll tell you about that later.

Mrs. Weir went to an old trunk fished out the family bible and said: Read what it says for yourself. I read: Lewis William Geck was born on the 4th of June 1818 in the city of Warsaw, Kingdom of Poland. Got married on the 24th of April 1851 in the town of Mesilla, Mexico by Padre Ynojas. My wife was born at El Paso, Mexico on the 21st of February 1838, and died on the 12th of July 1853 at one O'clock in the morning with a child in bed. Her name was Margarita Severiana de Jeasus Barrio. Her father's name was Francisco Barrio. Her mother was Dolores Contreras.

My child Jesusita Geck was born on the 12th of July 1853 on Thursday morning at I o'clock, when in a few minutes the mother expired. Closing the bible Mrs. Weir explained: Lewis William had to have someone to take care of little Jesusita so he decided to marry again. His second wife was Beatrice Aguirre whom he married in 1854. Lewis William was a trader and a merchant and the front of this house used for a storeroom. One night, while Beatrice and Lewis William were asleep, twelve robbers drilled a square block out of the wall and entered through the opening. They were so quiet about their work that the sleeping couple didn't hear them; not even when they emptied the money out of the cash box. After looting the store the twelve robbers boldly entered the bedroom. Lewis William, who was awakened by his wife's screams, started to get up but was dealt such a staggering blow that he fell back unconscious. Then binding and gagging their victim the robbers threw him on the floor. If they had known what a dangerous man they were dealing with, they'd have killed Lewis William, then and there. 

Mrs. Weir paused then continued: Now, I wonder why my father's hair didn't turn white or how he kept from going mad, as the robbers assaulted his wife and left her in a dying condition. Early the next morning a customer came to the store and knocked. On receiving no response the man became alarmed and called some of the neighbors. They tried to break the lock but finding that impossible combined their strength and forced the door. Upon entering, however, they were somewhat puzzled, for there wasn't a soul in sight. Then suddenly they heard a faint moan from the direction of the front bedroom, Fearing, the saints only knew what, and preparing themselves for a sudden attack, they all picked up articles that would serve for weapons as they slowly advanced toward the closed door.

With a quick motion of her hands Mrs. Weir assured me: The neighbors were shocked speechless when they found Lewis William and his wife. While the men hastened to unbind my father, the women gave their attention to Beatrice. You, see, she was expecting a baby and everything would have taken its natural course, but that awful experience had shattered her nervous system; so the child was born to soon. The baby was a boy, and as be came into this world, the poor little mother closed her eyes and passed on to the next. And Lewis William, towering above the bed where his young wife lay in death, raised his right hand to God, took an oath of vengeance and vowed: For one dead body twelve will swing from the limbs of trees and be picked by a million crows.

Mrs. Weir commented on how fast news spread in a small place. Why in less than an hour, she said, the whole valley had heard about the tragedy and a lynching party was searching for the twelve robbers. Eight of them escaped. The other four, who were found at La Mesilla, were taken to Clarion Ranch between Dona Ana and Las Cruces, where they were hung before the eyes of a cheering mob.

In referring to the baby of Beatrice and Lewis William Geck, Mrs. Weir said: That baby lived to be a grandfather. He always signed himself W.C.P. Geck, but he was christened, William Cidronio Pedro Geck. The name William was for his father. Cidronio was the saint's day upon which he was born, and Pedro was for his grandfather on his mother's side W.C.P. Geck, as he was known all through life, was my half brother. He moved to Anthony, New Mexico in 1902 where he built a home in which he lived until his death. W.C.P, served Anthony as Justice of the Peace for fifteen years. His children and grandchildren are residents of Anthony at the present time.

At the age of thirty-seven, Lewis William Geck, soldier, merchant and trader, had a third romance. The future bride, Mrs. Weir explained, was Sarah Aguirre, first cousin to his second wife, Beatrice Aguirre. But Sarah was very young, a mere child of fifteen. Lewis William had a noble character though, and did something that very few men would have done. He married Sarah, but following the wedding, sent her with the daughter by his first wife, to the Sacred Heart Institute at S. Charles, Missouri, where she remained for three years. Then, when she was eighteen, he brought her back to Dona Ana.

Following an interval of silence Mrs. Weir resumed: Sarah was my mother. She brought eight children into the world: Beatrice, Sam, Marion, Carolina, Mrs. Weir Mary, Wilhelmina, Lillian #1 and Lillian #2. Lillian the first died, and when another girl was born, she was named Lillian for her dead sister. Unusual but true. Our family had two girls by the same name.

Calling my attention to an old organ Mrs. Weir explained: It was made by S.D. and H. W. Smith of Boston eighty-seven years ago, and was given by Lewis William to Sarah, my mother. The history of one man and three wives is very confusing so I shall repeat: Lewis William Geck's first wife, whom he married in 1851, was Margarita Severiana de Jeasus Barrio. His second wife, whom he married in 1854, was Beatrice Aguirre, And his third wife, whom he married in 1860, was Sarah Aguirre, first cousin to his second wife. Every one of my mother's children were baptized in the old Mission church across the road.

In speaking of her early childhood Mrs. Weir said, I started to school in this town and went through all the grades, they only had three. Then I went to Las Cruces and lived with some relatives while I attended school. My next schooling was in El Paso, Texas. I was a pupil in the first high school which was located where the Elk's building stands. I received a medal for perfect attendance five consecutive years, and I'm just as proud of it this moment as I was the day I received it. During her conversation Mrs. Weir mentioned some of her teachers. When I attended the old El Paso High, she said Prof. Calvin Esterly was Superintendent of schools. Miss Ella B. Meekins was one of my teachers, and Laura Fink, who became Mrs. C.B. Kellogg, was another. In 1892 I returned to Dona Ana to teach school. I taught from 1893 to 1894. My nephew, Charley Geck senior of Anthony, New Mexico, was one of my first pupils. Dick Triviz, who was sheriff of Las Cruces from 1930 to 1934, was another one of my pupils. In 1896 I taught at La Union. 

In recalling her term as postmaster of Dona Ana Mrs. Weir stated: I received my commission as postmaster on April 12, 1894, which office I held for one year. I didn't want it a second year, for I had an experience that disgusted me with post office work for the rest of my life. And it was all through the mistake of a man by the name of A. M. Holland, a Spiritualist, who started a colony here in 1892. Resuming her story Mrs. Weir Explained: Mr. Holland was in the habit of ordering large bills of merchandise from Sigel Cooper in Chicago and had always received his goods on time. One day he came to the office with a three hundred dollar order which he gave to me to register. A few days later be came back and ask me if his merchandise had arrived. When I told him it had not had time he was peeved. So finally he got worried and wrote to Sigel Cooper asking them why he had not received it. They wrote back and told him that they had received the order but no money. Well, be came to me and wanted to know what I had done with the money. When I asked him what money, he flew into a rage and accused me of stealing his three hundred dollars. I thought the man was mad, and ask my mother, who was my assistant, if she had accepted that amount of money from Mr. Holland. Her reply was the same as mine, but he didn't believe either one of us and left the office vowing to make trouble.

Mrs. Weir and her mother spent their evenings praying that the lost money would turn up. I never was so worried in all my life, she said, for I had always been honest to a penny and to be accused of theft almost killed me. Several days passed then the worst happened; Mr. Holland walked into the office followed by a post office inspector. He was very considerate however, and told me to go ahead and explain and not to be afraid because he knew I wasn't a thief. I tried to explain, but during my explanation I was crying so hard that I don't believe he understood a word I said. But he left telling me not to worry.

Mrs. Weir did worry, for she could think of nothing but the lost money. It was constantly on my mind, she said, some nights I couldn't sleep at all and would spend the night sitting up in bed hoping and praying for a solution to the mystery of the lost money. In the meantime I had grown so thin and white that everybody thought I was going to be ill. I thought so myself for I couldn't eat. Then I received a surprise. The Inspector, closely followed by Mr. Holland, walked into the office. Mr. Holland had lost some of his swagger, and there was something about the way be hung his head that reminded me of a coyote. Then the Inspector smiled and told me my worries were at an end for he had located to money, and if I wanted to take legal action I could get a thousand dollars out of the man who had done his best to send me to jail.

Mrs. Weir told the Inspector that she didn't want Holland's money or anything he had. Then Holland began to whine and to beg my pardon, she said, but I shut him up by telling him to write a letter to the Postmaster General and tell him how he'd accused an innocent girl of being a lowdown thief. I think the old follow was fully punished though, for when the townsmen heard what had been done with the money they razzed him for three months. The money, which was found in the dead letter office, was traced back to the sender, who turned out to be Holland. And instead of directing it to Sigel Cooper, Chicago, he had absently directed it to Sigel Cooper, El Paso, Texas.

Mrs. Caroline Geck Weir to the mother of seven children: Cecilia Weir, who is now Mrs. Ralph Scoggins of El Paso, Texas; Lucile Weir wife of C.R. Riddle of Los Angeles, California; William Weir of Kermit, Texas, whose wife is the former Lucille Allen of Kermit; Lee Weir married and living in Los Angeles, California. Lee is a salesman whose wife is the former Kathryn Foster of Los Angeles; David Weir is unmarried and a skilled mechanic of El Paso, Texas; Lillian Weir is the wife of Ray Dukeminier of Silver City, where he is employed by the telephone company; they have two sons, Roy and Bobby; Jessie Weir is married and studying law at the University of Austin, Texas; his wife is the former Jerry Latham of El Paso, Texas. The Lathams have one son Billy. All of Mrs. Weir's children have finished high school.

Note: When the military posts at Dona Ana and El Paso were abandoned, Fort Fillmore was established September 23, 1851, having been chosen as a better defense position than the two abandoned first. At the time of its establishment the post was occupied by Company H, 1st Dragoons and Companies E and K 3rd Infantry. Lewis William Geck was assigned to Company H, 1st Dragoons twice. From which be was honorably discharged both times. On January 12, 1846, he was discharged at Dragoon Camp near Evensville, Ark. He reenlisted at St. Louis, Missouri for five years Feb. 6, 1846 and was assigned to the same company. He was honorably discharged from Company H, 1st Dragoons Feb. 6, 1851 by reason of expiration of term of service as private. When he received his second and last discharge he was stationed at Dona Ana, New Mexico. This soldier, who sleeps in the Dona Ana graveyard, less than two hundred feet east of the old homestead, is the father of Caroline Geck Weir, who staunchly declares: It is up to me to hold the fort. The letter from Washington regarding Levis William Geck's military record was signed: Frank C. Bennett Brigadier General Acting Adjutant General.