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Family History Stories Paraphrased
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Refugio Grant 
Mary Coe Blevins
Mrs. Belle Adams
Pigeon Ranch
Mr. John H. Phillips

Begin Family Histories: 

Refugio Grant
By Marie Carter
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Dona Ana
Surnames mentioned: Garner, Coleman, Watson, Alvarez, Miller

One of the dearest and most beloved ladies of our community lives all alone on a ranch west of the Rio Grande, in a little white house, with climbing roses and honeysuckle. I had tea with her the other day. After she had cleared the table we sat down in her cozy living room to visit awhile and to chat.  Anthony today, and Anthony of yesterday, are widely different, aren't they? I ventured.

 There is no comparison, was her quick response. When Pat and I came here it was nothing but Bosque. In, fact, he helped to clear quite a bit of it. What year was that? I inquired.  1900. We came from Uvalde, Texas.

 Oh, yes, Uvalde, Vice President Garner's home town. Did you happen to know the Garners? I asked.  Well, I was acquainted with Mrs. Garner, Mrs. Coleman replied.  Her aunt, Alice Watson, was my roommate at college. We attended Ad Ran College, Thorps Sulphur Springs. Where did you live when you fist came to Anthony?

On the old business street west of the Santa Fe tracks, where Charley Miller, Mrs. Story and Mrs. Alvarez lived, Mrs. Story bought the house we occupied so we had to move. Since houses were scarce we decided to move to Chamberino and raise sheep, she said.  I understand sheep raising was a thriving industry of the early days, I observed.

 It was, she assented. We didn't keep our sheep at Chamberino, however, but up in the Franklin mountains, east of Anthony. Sometimes I would go up there and camp with Mr. Coleman. Whenever our supplies ran low I went to Anthony to purchase more, riding a horse and leading a pack burro. One spring we had an early snow and lost our whole herd.

 The what did you do? We bought this place. Our deed calls for almost thirteen acres, but the river stole six. You can't imagine what a source of worry the Rio Grande was in the early days. It was such a tricky old stream. One day it would be so dry that the settlers could cross it on foot. And the very next day it would be so full of water that they would have to resort to skiffs.

 Was this land in the Refugio Grant?  Yes, just a moment and you may see for yourself. As she spoke she opened the top drawer of a heavy oak chest and took out a paper which she gave me to read.

This is what I read:  Abstract No. 3555. The Refugio Grant Colony in Dona Ana County, New Mexico to wit: Beginning December 17, 1869, this being the date of filing of Grant to Refugio Colony, and bringing the title to date. Prepared for Mrs. Clara Coleman, April 20, 1931.

The Spanish and Mexican land grants of New Mexico may be divided into two classes: The Spanish grants made between 1693 and 1821, and the Mexican grants made between 1821 and 1846. A few grants were made after that time in the Mesilla Valley, which Mexico claimed until the dispute was settled by the Gadsden treaty. The Refugio Colony, Dona Ana County, was granted 15,000 acres in 1852, and the grant was confirmed in 1901.

The Rio Grande, which gave the early settlers so much trouble, is the only important river in New Mexico that does not have its source within the state. It enters New Mexico in a deep canyon a short distance to the east of the 106th Meridian.  Mrs. Clara Coleman: Born in Uvalde, Texas, December 3, 1864, came to Anthony, New Mexico in 1900, Attended Ad Ran College at Thorps Sulphur Springs, member of the Crescent Club of Anthony.

Mary Coe Blevins
By Marie Carter
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Dona Ana
Surnames mentioned: Blevins, Mayhill, Coe, Miller, Howser, Carpenter

There is no doubt, that today and not tomorrow, is the propitious time to collect and preserve some of the true stories of this Great Southwest. For there are not many of the early settlers or old timers left. Many, who were the path finders for us, have passed away, leaving no records of the heroic parts they played in the historical drama of our country. Take one old timer for instance, one of the oldest pioneers of our community. Her house is old, too, but it has not withstood the ravage of time near so well as she. When I asked her how long she had lived in Anthony, she laughed and replied:

Gracious, child! Why don't you ask me how long I've lived in New Mexico? Cause if you get any sense out of my story I'll have to start from the beginning over in Lincoln County, where we located before coming to Dona Ana. What year was that?

1881. We moved to Anthony in 1897. My first husband had been out in this country before, but as I told you, Lincoln, although, he drove a freight train across the plains from Kansas to Colorado. It was slow travel, too, cause they drove ox teams in them days. Besides, if they wasn't watching for Indians, they was a slowing up to let the buffalo go by. And where were you at that time?

Back in Missouri a waiting, and when he come back home we was married, and started an our honeymoon. After visiting some of his kin folks at Farmington Missouri we bought us a covered wagon for the rest of the trip. That must have been exciting, I said. Yes, it was. The first thing we run into, after passing the Navajo Indian Reservation a little ways, was about three hundred redskins on horseback, and I guess the only reason they didn't scalp us was the fact that they was too drunk to see us. Them that could still drink was a reeling' from side to side, and them that couldn't hold anymore were asleep on their horses' neck. They was the real thing too , feathers, blankets, bare legs and moccasins. Some of them wore little aprons for pants.

What tribe were they? Navajos. Were you afraid? I didn't flinch. And when they passed on my husband patted me on the shoulder. I guess he thought I was pretty brave. You certainly were, I said.

We had to be in them days. And on the upper Penasco, where we first settled, every man and woman faced the same problems. Then we moved a little lower down, to Mayhill, New Mexico, the town my father, Henry Mayhill, homesteaded. I was the first postmaster. Mayhill is in Otero County. So is the Mescalero Indian Reservation. We had lots of Indian scares and never knew what them wild Apaches were going to do next. I hated the old squaws. Sometimes they'd knock at my door, and when I'd open it, there they'd be? be all wrapped up in blankets. They always traveled in pairs. They wanted water but they couldn't understand me, and I couldn't understand them. So they'd grunt away down in their throats, open their mouths, and point at the Mary Coe Blevins was the wife of Jim Coe, a man who knew Billy the Kid and liked him. She gave birth to the second white child on the upper Penasco, a creek, sometimes called a river. The upper and the lower Penasco was separated by a dry basin for about twelve miles. The Coe's moved to Anthony, New Mexico in the year 1897. They homesteaded a ranch Northeast of Anthony, where they lived for forty-five years. It was a stock farm, and they pumped their water with a steam engine, which Mr. Coe ran, while Mr. Coe cut wood to feed it. After their homestead was proved up they moved into town. In 1909 they sold their ranch to the government for a target range. Mary Coe is now Mrs. Blevins, and is seventy-five years old. She was born in Missouri in the year of 1962, June the 1st.

The other day I dropped into our local dry goods store to chat with a friend, and old timer, who has lived in our community since the year of 1901. What, I inquired, did Anthony look like when you located here?

Lordy, me! she exclaimed, I wish you could have seen it. All this business section on the highway was jest a wagon road. We drove horses and buggies in them days, and wagons, of course. It took us a whole day to get anywhere south to El Paso, or to Las Cruces. Excuse me. She opened the stove door to expectorate, then explained, It's snuff. Bin chewing it for twenty years, and ain't got used to it yet. I waited, until my friend had closed the stove door, then resumed my quizzing: Where was the principal business street when you located here?

West of the Santa Fe tracks. Guess how many houses was on that street? I see you can't guess, she added quickly,  so I'll have to tell you. There was five. I ran a little notion store, and Charley Miller run a store next door. He sold whiskey but had to quit, cause the Mexicans would get drunk in his place and start fights. One day he got so mad that he took all his whiskey barrels and dumped them in the street.

I suppose land was cheap, I said. I'll say it was. Good valley land ranged from eight to ten dollars an acre, she said, Twenty-five dollars was a fancy price. The street referred to by this old timer, in 1901, was a mere country lane, with narrow trails branching off in different directions. One trail turned north to the town of Mesquite. A second trail turned west to the Rio Grande and Bosque, or low land.

Today, the ranch land known as the Dairy Farm, commands a top price, but in 1901 it was bought by a Mr. Howser for six dollars an acre. Mr. Howser leveled the land and sold it to C.F. Carpenter for twelve dollars an acre. Mr. Carpenter made some improvements and sold it to the El Paso Dairy Farm Company. This company bought the ranch to raise alfalfa and grain to feed their cattle. At the present time the principal crops are cotton and sugar beet seed. The seed is shipped to Colorado to grow sugar beets. In the early days of this town the chief amusements were picnics and barbecues. The men usually barbecued the beef. Sometimes they remained up all night preparing, cooking, basting, and turning it on the spit. As one old timer commented, ye can't hurry barbecue.

Mrs. Belle Adams
By Marie Carter
Sarah Belle Adams
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Dona Ana
Surnames mentioned: Adams, Taft, Jackman, Alvarez, Alvarez, Lauson, Harkey,  Gardner

Mrs. Belle Adams, who lives on the family ranch northeast of Anthony , is a jolly little white haired lady with a contagious laugh. When I ask her to narrate how she and her family factored in the early days of Anthony, she settled back in her blue tapestry armchair and began: Before coming to Anthony we lived in Ohio. That's where I was born. In the town of Rome, Rome, Ohio, she explained. The year was 1860, and the month was September, September 21st. Bob and I came to Anthony in a covered wagon in the year of 1903. There were only a few white folks here when we came and most of them were homesteaders like ourselves. We homesteaded right here on this ranch where we live today. It wasn't much of a ranch in the early days though. Bob and I worked hard and made it what it is. We homesteaded a 154 acres, and when we proved up our deed was signed by ex-president Taft.

Were there very many white people living here when you came to Anthony? I inquired. No indeed, my dear. Let me see, Mrs. Story and Mrs. Coleman were here. Mr. and Mrs. Royal Jackman, Mr. Jackman was the station agent. By the way, you must get Mr. Jackman to tell you something about the early days, Well, as I was saying, another old timer was Mrs. Alvarez, Cecilia Richards Alvarez. She was a fine woman. She moved to La Union. Dr. and Mrs. Lauson were here, too. There is another lady I used to know by the name of Harkey. Her daughter, Mrs. Gardner, lives in Berino. Mrs. Harkey taught school in the early days.

Where did you get your water, did you have a well? I asked. At first we dug a temporary well. That is, it wasn't very deep. The reason we didn't dig it deeper was because there was so much talk about highline canal. But gracious, me, we got sick and tired waiting for it, so Bob and I had two deep wells drilled, and we had plenty of water for irrigating. We put out some fruit trees and when they began to bear we had some of the best fruit in Anthony. Peaches, pears, plums, apples and several other kinds of fruit. We had grapes, too. Then the World War came along, and oil went sky high and we couldn't afford to use it for pumping any more, so most of our fruit trees died. Finally we built a lot of chicken houses and went into the poultry business.

I suppose farming was a difficult problem in those days, I observed. Indeed it was. The ranch folks west of the Santa Fe tracks had more to contend with than folks east of the tracks. For the spring floods were a yearly occurrence, and the Rio Grande a menace to their crops. I suppose you've heard this before, but then, it won't do any harm for me to tell it again.

It's about the rafts we made out of rough logs to carry us across the river. Some of the ranchers had skiffs, but most of them forded across. Finally, when we did get a bridge that would stay put, it was better then a Christmas tree. Once in awhile we'd have a community picnic. Then the ladies had a chance to show off their cooking, good or bad. We never went to a picnic, barbecue, or party without taking plenty of good things to eat, she said.

Mrs. Adams, I quizzed, how was Charley Miller related to you? Why didn't you know he was my son-in-law? she exclaimed. Charley married one of my daughters. He was a fine man, too. Charley came here from Texas, long before the railroad, and when they hauled everything in wagons. He owned lots of land in the early days. Anthony didn't have much of a school house when we first came, either, but after awhile they got busy and built one east of town. You, know, the building the Masons occupy now, they bought it when the present school house was built.

Mr. Charley Miller, the son-in-law of Mrs. Belle Adams, was highly respected in the Anthony community, and is often mentioned by the rest of the old timers. He ran the first Valley Mercantile store and the first flour mill. He was a friend to the poor homesteaders, whom he often carried on his books from five to seven years. Then, when they had proved up on their property they would reimburse Mr. Miller with land. Hence he became one of the largest land holders in this district. Following his death Anthonians were surprised to learn that he had willed them the present cemetery site, east of town, at the foot of the mountains he loved.

Robert Collins Adams, the husband of Sarah Belle Adams, lovingly called Uncle Bob, is another old timer who has passed on, leaving a clean path for his worthy sons, fine daughters and grandchildren to proudly follow. Mrs. Adams is the mother of Clark Adams, manager of the Dairy Farm, west of Anthony. Mrs. C. G. Allison of Berino, a former school teacher of Dona Ana County, and a graduate of the New Mexico College of agriculture and Mechanic Arts at Mesilla Park. Mrs. Charley Miller of El Paso, Texas, school teacher and also a graduate of the New Mexico A. M. College. Robert E. Adams of Soringer, New Mexico, 2nd Lieutenant with the Civil Engineers in France, during the World War.

Mrs. Adams is the grandmother of Robert Adams, son of Clark Adams of Anthony. Robert is a teacher in the Anthony Grade school and a graduate of the same college from which his two Aunts were graduated, the New Mexico A. M. Robert's brother Charley and sister Mary Helen are also attending the A. M. College. Peggy Jean, Clark's youngest daughter, whom grandma Adams calls her darling, is making a pretty good start, with the A. M. College her goal. For at the present time she is a pupil, in the Anthony Grade School, where big brother Robert is a teacher.

Justice Calvin Adams, son of Robert E. Adams of Springer, New Mexico, is also a grandson of Mrs. Sarah Belle Adams. Fanny Adams, who before her marriage was Fanny Ploughman, is the wife of Clark Adams of Anthony, and the proud mother of Robert, Charley, Mary Helen and Peggy Jean Adams. Mrs. Sarah Belle Adams, wife of Robert Collins Adams, was born September 21, 1860 in the town of Rome, Adams County, Ohio, came to Anthony in the year 1903, homesteaded on a ranch about a mile east of Anthony, where she still lives and is proud to tell the world that she does all of her own house work.

Old Well on Pigeon Ranch now owned by Tom Greer
By B. A. Reuter
Old Well on Pigeon
Sources: Octaviano Segura of Pecos, N. M.
Teodosio Ortiz Pecos, N. M.
Charles Erickson, Pecos, N. M.
Paraphrased by C. W. Barnum
Counties: Santa Fe
Surnames mentioned: Greer, Roybal, Ortiz, Gabaldon, Moya, Alexander, Valle, Erickson, Williams

The well about a mile east of the town of Glorieta, close to and on the south side of highway 85 and situated on, what was once known as the Pigeon Ranch is the subject under consideration. This well, advertised by the present owner, Mr. Tom Greer, as the Most Historical, Indian, Spanish, American Well, had drawn much comment from the local inhabitants, in and around Glorieta and Pecos. This well attracted no special attention, more than that it was one of the early wells of this section, until Mr. Greer became its possessor and acclaimed it as being of great antiquity.

Fortunately for Mr. Greer most of the old men whose memories hark back to the time when the well was dug have passed from the scene and their direct testimony can no longer be had. Some of the descendants of these old men of the past can remember hearing their fathers tell about the digging of the well and the man who owned the property at the time and had the work done but such testimony is too far removed to establish the case as a historical fact. Whatever may be said of this handed down testimony from mouth to ear as the Indians call it, it is so well believed in all their section that all of the old timers, smile in derision at Mr. Greer's claims that the well is of great antiquity. 

About three or four years ago I began interviewing some of the older men in the Pecos district to see if I could find any definite evidence about the old well, however, I was was unable to get any more than, that it was the talk of their fathers that the well was the product of a Frenchman by the name of Alexander Valle. At that time I only interviewed such men as occasion presented itself and made no notes of their testimony. I did at that time, however, find one man who gave me such a clear line of facts, as given to him, by Alexander Valle and one of the men who had a hand in digging the well that I was convinced that the story he told actually revealed the facts. This man was Octaviano Segura, who unfortunately died about a year after I last talked to him on the subject.

Mr. Segura told me that he could not give the date of the digging of the well or any personal testimony concerning it, but that he had it directly from Mr. Valle that he, Alexander Valle who was at that time the owner of the ranch on which the well was located, had the well dug to obtain clean water for his people at that ranch, because his herds of cattle and sheep were polluting the little stream close to the well, on which they previously had to depend for water. Mr. Segura also told me that he had talked to one of the men who helped dig the well. In the course of our conversation he said it was, unfortunate that Mr. Greer did not start his advertising ten years earlier while Antonio Roybal was still alive for, he had once heard Antonio say that he remembered seeing the actual digging of the well. Mr. Segura was an outstanding man in this community and was respected by all for his intelligence and integrity. I have every reason to believe that Mr. Segura gave me a faithful account of what he had heard from participants in the digging of the well and from the eye witness who saw it in the making.

Since I have been asked to write a manuscript on the subject I have looked around in search of some one who could furnish additional reliable data on the subject of this old well. The difficulty is that before Mr. Greer, for reasons of his own, saw fit to paint the Hoary head of antiquity on it, it was just a well on the old Pigeon Ranch by the side of a cross country road. I had almost despaired of getting any first hand positive facts about the origin and time of the digging of the well, when a friend of mine asked me if I had talked to Teodosio Ortiz.

When I was asked if I had talked to Teodosio, as we call him, I felt like a simpleton, for I have known him for nearly seventeen years. I have known all about his worth as an intelligent and reliable citizen and neighbor, and that his word is never questioned but somehow I had so far overlooked him as a possibility for the information I was seeking. My friend who called my attention to him, said that, Teodosio in his earlier years lived not far from the old well and if he did have any information on it I could rely on it as being correct. I, however, needed no proof of Teodosio's manhood, intelligence and integrity for I have heard naught but praise of this man's virtues in these respects and I know enough about him personally to warrant my complete confidence in him. He is well known in this section for his prodigious memory and accuracy of statements.

This man, Teodosio Ortiz, is now eighty-six years of age, and though the long years of toil have slowed down his bodily movements his fertile mind is still active and dependable. I have during the last ten days, had several interviews with him, and in these I have subjected him to considerable cross examination. The result of my talks with Teodosio have been that he can tell only what he knows and that he tells what he personally knows with accuracy and assurance. 

When I first asked Mr. Teodosio Ortiz what he thought of Mr. Greer's claims about the age of the well that he is so elaborately advertising, his reply, of what he thought about Mr. Greer's claims, need not be repeated here, but when I asked him how he knew that Mr. Greer was advertising false claims about the history of the well, his answer was very direct, as follows: Because I remember seeing the final work on the well and I knew the very men who dug it and the man for whom it was dug and the reasons why the owner of the ranch had the well dug. The names of the three men who dug the well were: Luis Moya, Rafael Lucero and Antonio Gabaldon. The ranch on which the well was dug was owned by a Frenchman, Mr. Alexander Valle. This Frenchman spoke a peculiarly accented English which they called Pigeon English and so the ranch got to be called the Pigeon Ranch.

Mr. Ortiz, how old were you when you saw this well being finished? I was five years of age at the time, but the memory of it stands as clear in my mind as any other event of my younger years. I do not only have the memory of the work itself but throughout my growing years I was much in association with the men who did the work and I remember on several occasions hearing these men tell the whole story about the well.

I then asked Teodosio to tell me all he knew about it. The well was begun and partially dug in 1851, two years before I was born, but for some reason Mr. Valle suspended work on the well for seven years. My birth was in 1853, and it was not until 1858, when I was five years old that he again put his men to work on it and finished it. The unknown reasons of the interim of seven years between the beginning and the finishing of the well furnished his food for fireside chats and helped keep the subject alive for a time. It was on such occasions and others that I heard the three men who dug the well tell the whole story about it. These three man I have named as the diggers of the well were regular employees of Alexander Valle over a long period and thus I saw much of them during my early years.

Mr. Valle was at that time the owner of the present Valley Ranch. He also had several outlying ranches, of which the Pigeon Ranch on which this well was dug, was one. He was the owner of many cattle, sheep and goats and herds in the Glorieta region were polluting the little stream from which his ranch house had to be supplied with water. Mr. Valle was a very fine man and much concerned about the welfare of the people who worked for him and when he saw the filthy condition of the little brook he decided to dig a well to furnish clean water for his ranch.

I have often wondered why the present well was of such great diameter. All kinds of stories have circulated from every quarter since Mr. Greer started his flashy advertising of its great antiquity. Some people have told that told that the well was out of use for many years and got filled up with silt and has of recent years been dug out anew. I have run down several of such tales only to find them without foundation. The reason that the well is of such great diameter is a simple tale. I have the story from both Teodosio Ortiz and Charles Erickson of Pecos.

The years of 1903 and 1904 were very dry years in this state and the water from Canyonsito that supplies the Santa Fe Railroad, at Lamy, was giving out. Mr. M. R. Williams who had charge of the water supply for the road on this division made arrangements with the then owners of the well to enlarge it and sink it deeper, in the hope of finding an adequate supply to splice out their needs. Mr. Williams took over a crew of men and enlarged the hole but for some reason abandoned the enterprise. This work was done in 1904. In the latter part of that season generous rains came to this section and replenished their supply and this may have been the cause for the suspension of the work.

I have, so far, not found a man who has ever seen the little stream that flows close by the well, without running water. Teodosio Ortiz in his 86 years has never seen it dry. It is therefore out of the question that Indians dug a well high on a dry bank close to a running brook, and more, when the perennial springs that feed it are not far away. Even with the absence of historical evidence to the contrary, the claim of Indian origin for this well would be utterly ridiculous.

It may be questioned by some people that the testimony of a man about an affair when he was five years of age, could be held as reliable. My parents emigrated from Europe when I was a month under three years of age. On the voyage across the Atlantic a school of porpoise in their over and under motion in almost uniform arrangement, moved by our ship. It was a great sight to me and the picture it presented has never faded from my memory.

In connection with the memory, of the digging, of the old well by Mr. Ortiz, it was perhaps the first well digging the child ever witnessed and having a marvelous memory, the affair has never faded from his mind. We must also remember that he grew up in the association of the men who did the work and their occasional conversations about it assisted in getting all the facts and fixing the event for good upon his memory. The further fact that the well was dug for the outstanding man of the little world in which the boy then lived had its weight in making it an outstanding affair.

When we take into consideration this testimony of Teodosio Ortiz as it parallels the testimony gathered by Mr. Segura as he delivered it to me, I feel that it is needless to look for more testimony unless there is somewhere a man who was an eye witness to the digging like Mr. Ortiz. In the light of the testimony I have presented, and the fact that all the rumbling of the echoes of the past generation, are against the idea of ascribing a great age for the Pigeon Ranch. Well, I am satisfied that the well was the product of Alexander Valle and dug for the purpose of having clean water for his people. According to the evidences I have presented, the wall is now 81 years old and does not go back into remote times as is claimed by Mr. Tom Greer.

I think we should have a law in this state, making it mandatory for a person wishing to commercialize a historical landmark, to submit a brief in support of the historicity of his claims, and that such recital of historical matter should receive special investigation by a proper committee. If such a committee finds that the contentions in the brief have proper historical support the applicant should be granted a license, upon paying a proper fee, to advertise such a landmark and exploit it under certain legal provisions, however, his advertising should not embrace contentions beyond the established facts of history. If on the other hand the claims of the brief do not have the proper historical support, then no license should be granted.