by Herbert L. Traylor
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I met Mr. Traylor in Capitan by accident many years ago. I was fascinated with his telling of stories about my relatives who lived in early Lincoln County. Herbert was without a doubt the most knowledgeable person I've ever known concerning Lincoln County history and genealogy. He authored The Saga of the Sierra Blanca with L. C. Runnels in 1986. That book has served as the Bible of Lincoln County genealogy and history since that time.

Another book he wrote was the Bear's Den. It was also about history but on the lighter side of life. I have taken one story from that book and presented it here in honor of his memory. Kick back and enjoy it!


Tom Bragg called her Rhodee. She was a brownish black female mule with a light muzzle or nose, weighing eight hundred fifty pounds. Her origin is unknown. It is rumored Tom Bragg acquired the mule when she was two years old, broke her to work as a draft animal to wagons, buggies, and later as a saddle animal. She was exceptionally speedy for a mule. Tom raced her against horses, taught her to approach calves, goats, horses, and cows while being ridden for roping.

He taught her to hold what is known as a tight rope. This was after he had roped the animal. It was by that method she became noted for assisting Tom in catching wild cows and steers that had strayed to Nogal peak, Barber Ridge, Turkey and Argentina Canyons, and the upper Bonito areas from the Hatchets on the Three Rivers ranch.

After World War I, the Braggs were living on a homestead above "Old Bonita City" (what is now Bonito Lake). Tom's livestock --cows and horses, ranged on the open range at that time. Rhodee came up missing one day. Tom rode the entire Sierra Blanca country searching for her, but to no avail. He eventually consoled himself that she had been struck by lightening. About two years later he was on his way with a neighbor to El Paso. Somewhere--the author is not sure where, between Carrizozo and El Paso, mesquite root haulers were hauling roots to El Paso to sell as wood. 

They passed several wagons and as they passed one, Tom noticed one of the  animals was larger than the others and there was something familiar about the animal. He had the driver stop and back up to the wagon. He got out, took off his belt, put it around Rhodee's neck and unhitched her from the wagon. Then he got on her bare back and proceeded to take her to safekeeping until he could take her home. It was told, neither he nor the wood hauler uttered a word during the transaction.

--The End--

Typist note: Thomas Bragg was known in Lincoln County as a "Mountain Man". He was a large person with huge fists, but he had quiet and polite manners. He bred, raced and traded mules. He was a mule-skinner by profession making the long trip to El Paso via mule train to buy supplies to sell in the Lincoln County hill country.