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More Books to Read

New Mexico’s 100 Best Books

Bell Ranch, Cattle Ranching in the Southwest, 1824-1947

John Wesley Hardin, Dark Angel of Texas

Southwestern New Mexico Mining Towns


Bell Ranch, Cattle Ranching in the Southwest, 1824-1947
Guest Review by Tom Savage

Bell Ranch, Cattle Ranching in the Southwest, 1824-1947, by David Remley, University of New Mexico Press, 1993.

This is a history of people. The Silver City author names his chapters for people. Bell Ranch allows readers to experience the iconic tradition of cattlemen, and provides excellent archival photos. The book needs only the smell of leather and smoke of the branding iron to put us on the ranch.

Bell Ranch is the product of extensive research, as well as an understanding of the land and its people. There are places where detail becomes thick, but the story offers ample rewards for reading on. There are two types of people in this story and you will recognize both. One is the promoter, to whom the land is a commodity, good only for the accumulation of quick wealth. The other has a sense of place, recognizes the land as home, and seeks a sustainable return, both monetary and spiritual, for work invested in the land.

Once comprised of nearly a million acres, the Bell was carved from two large Spanish land grants, the Pablo Montoya and the Baca Number Two. A promoter named Wilson Waddingham, and New Mexico lawyer, later U. S. Senator, Thomas B. Catron, did the carving. Waddingham raised the capital, mostly from eastern investors; Catron, displaying both legal and political skill, orchestrated the process of patenting the land, bringing it into the ownership of the syndicate. It is likely Catron received as his fee half the lands he patented. He became Waddingham's partner.

Here is a ranch so large it once contained villages of squatters; so large that some of the cowboys ran small herds of their own, in addition to working Bell cattle. The Bell supported a commercial herd, producing calves for finishing or sale, and a breeding herd managed exclusively to improve the commercial herd. There was a horse breeding operation, a large farm and, eventually, a then- unwanted federal dam and large lake on the Canadian River.

The ranch enjoyed numerous associations with outside organizations, including stock buyers, beef packers, cattle feeders and breeders, the railroads, and even the U. S. Army Remount Service. The Remount Service was the Army's effort to build a pool of sound horses from which it could obtain reliable mounts in time of emergency. It supplied horse breeders, including the Bell's, with quality stallions for stud service. Langley, the Remount Service stallion on the Bell, must have been some horse!

Ranch managers, Arthur Tisdall (1893-98), Charles M. O'donel (1898-1933), and Albert Mitchell (1933-46) are the subjects of the most colorful chapters of Bell Ranch. All three were uncommon men, cattlemen to the core, able to assess problems and make critical decisions. They were visionaries, dealing with events that were still in the future. The droughts and depression of the thirties, for instance, made it necessary to ship large herds from the Bell into leased pastures in places as disparate as California, Oklahoma, and old Mexico. The managers had to visit and select reliable lessors, and attend to customs issues in moving thousands of head to Mexico and returning them to the U. S. In one case, an act of both houses of Congress was required to complete the deal. The success of these operations attests to expert and courageous management.

The story of Albert Mitchell's tenure is particularly impressive. During his stay at the Bell, Mitchell was simultaneously managing his family's large cattle ranch, the Tequesquite, also in northeast New Mexico. As if that were not enough, he mounted campaigns for the governorship of New Mexico and the U. S. Senate, and held the chair of several beef producers associations. One gets the impression that Mitchell could have managed an automobile company, an arctic exploration, or an army with equal facility. The story shows the effect of access to money. Under the ownership of the Red River Valley Company (headquarters, New Haven, Conn., ranch managers O'donel and Mitchell enjoyed unqualified confidence and support from principals Julius Day and E. G. Stoddard. When there were crises, cash was forthcoming. Day and Stoddard were obviously exceptional, honest men.

How the contemporary family ranch, without such support, survives has always been a mystery to me. Ranching toughens one against the storms, I guess, and the inexplicable feeling of being "on the land" covers a heap of disappointments.

In the last chapter, the Epilogue, Remley talks about the Bell's fate after 1947. In 1946, the owners began to contemplate selling the Bell. By 1947, it became obvious that the ranch could not easily be sold in its entirety. It was broken into seven pieces totaling nearly 470,000 acres and sold to seven buyers. Interestingly, three of the buyers were women. Today media mogul John Malone owns the original Bell, reassembled to about 300,000 acres.

Bell Ranch will long stand as an important contribution to the written history of New Mexico and the West.


Outlaws Still Draw Readers
Guest REview by Marc Simmons

Recently I was re-reading Leon Metz's John Wesley Hardin, Dark Angel of Texas. It is as gripping and bloody a tale of the old West as you are apt to find.

Metz is best known for his classic life of Sherrif Pat Garrett, slayer of Billy the Kid. His specialty, in fact, is law-and-order books.

John Wesley Hardin was a high profile desperado, ranking with the likes of Jesse James, Billy the Kid, the Daltons, and Butch Cassidy.

A Texas Ranger once declared that "Hardin kills men just to see them kick. He is said to have killed 30 men and is a dead shot." Actually, the exact number of Hardin's victims is unknown. He claimed never to have gunned down "anyone who didn't deerve it."

His own number came up on the night of August 19, 1895 in El Paso's Acme Saloon. While Hardin was rolling dice, Constable John Selman entered behind and shot him in the back of the head.

A curious thing is that less than a year later, Selman got into an argument with U. S. Deputy Marshal George Scarborough. The matter ended in gunplay and Constable Selman died.

Scarborough resigned his marshall's post and moved to southern New Mexico. There he took a lawman's job and went to chasing rustlers.

In a shoot-out on the range, he was hit in the leg and had to be carried to Lordsburg by wagon. From there he was sent by train to Deming for medical treatment, where he died on the operating table on April 5, 1900.

Scarborough's story appears to confirm the old saying that he who lives by the gun will die by the gun. Examples are plentiful.

Sheriff Garrett, after putting the Kid in his grave, was himself slain by Wayne Brazel. Fleeing to South America, Brazel is reported to have died at the hands of the fugitive Butch Cassidy. In 1911, Butch fell in a battle with Bolivian soldiers.

In its day, the New Mexico Territory was considered the most lawless place on the American frontier. As Gov. Miguel Otero explained it, this corner of the Southwest had become a refuge and catch basin for rogues and desperados from elsewhere.

Whenever I read a new book on the subject, I'm led to speculate on our national fascination with outlawry. Hollywood films and western novelists have long taken advantage of that theme for purposes of public entertainment.

Unusual romance is attached to desperados and bandits because, I suppose, the frontier furnished such a theatrical backdrop for their criminal activities.

We may be attracted as well because the majority of gunfighters, or shootists, came to a tragic and pointless end. It is nice to know that a higher justice can be counted on.

* * * * * * *

One of the best known and most highly respected New Mexico historians, Marc Simmons is the author of Massacre on the Lordsburg Road: a Tragedy of the Apache Wars (1997).


Southwestern New Mexico Mining Towns, by Dr. Jane Bardal, Arcadia Publishing (Charleston, South Carolina), 2011, 128 pp, $21.99.

New Mining History

This new book by author Dr. Jane Bardal is the latest in the postcard history series by Arcadia Publishing, and is an important contribution to the history of our region.

(from the book's back cover) ~ Spanish and American prospectors discovered gold, silver and copper mines in southwestern New Mexico in the 1800s. This volume explores the further development of these mining operations into the early 1900s. During this time period, improvements in technology made mining profitable, and eastern corporations invested in New Mexico mines. World War I created a demand for copper, and this era saw the development of paternalistic company towns. Miners faced difficult and dangerous working conditions, but their lives improved compared to previous generations. Many of the towns and the people in southwestern New Mexico owed their livelihood, in whole or in part, to mining. Some of these places have disappeared entirely, some are ghost towns, and others are thriving communities.

Dr. Jane Bardal is a professor of psychology at Central New Mexico Community College (Albuquerque) and a history buff. She has compiled more than 200 images from private postcard collections to tell the story of mining in southwestern New Mexico.

Chapters in the book include images from Hillsboro, Santa Rita and Hurley, Silver City and Pinos Altos, Cooney and Mogollon, Leopold and Tyrone, south of Lordsburg and Western Grant County.

This will be a perfect addition to the libraries of anyone interested in the history of Southwest New Mexico.

Copies can be found at Aunt Judy's Attic in Silver City, at 1950 Highway 180. Call to reserve your copy: (575) 388-1620.


New Mexico’s 100 Best Books

New Mexico's 100 Best Books Announced!

As part of the upcoming New Mexico Centennial., the New Mexico Book Co-op wanted to honor the 100 best books in the state. (January 6, 2012 marks the Centennial for the State of New Mexico.)

The major criteria for nomination was that the books must have either been written about New Mexico, by a New Mexican author, or published by a New Mexico company. Starting in January 2009, libraries and bookstores were asked to distribute information to their patrons. Nominations came in from all across the state. Books were voted on by librarians, authors and the public.

After a year of voting, the New Mexico Book Co-op is pleased to announce the 100 Best New Mexico Books. See their website: http://nmbookcoop.com/Projects/Best-Books/Best-Books.html

Leading the list is "Bless Me, Ultima" by Rudolfo Anaya as the #1 Best New Mexico Book. "Bless Me, Ultima" is set in the small village of Guadalupe, New Mexico, during World War II. Through the story the questions about evil, justice, and the nature of God are asked. The book is part of a trilogy with "Heart of Azlan" and "Tortuga" and was published in 1972. Rudolfo Anaya lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Bless Me, Ultima" has been a stage play and was just filmed and set to be released as a movie in 2011. The book has been banned and challenged by schools and libraries. "Bless Me, Ultima" is credited as the first important book in Chicano literature.

The list of 100 Best Books is divided with the Best 10 Books followed by the other 90 Books.

Rounding off the Best 10 Books are: "Milagro Beanfield War" by John Nichols, "A Thief of Time" by Tony Hillerman, "Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather, "Red Sky At Morning" by Richard Bradford, "Lamy of Santa Fe" by Paul Horgan, "House Made of Dawn" by N. Scott Momaday, "Ben Hur" by Lew Wallace, "The Rounders" by Max Evans, and "First Blood" by David Morrell.

The list includes books by Native Americans, Hispanics, cowboys, scholars, historians, women, and men. There are books for children and adults. A former New Mexico Governor, Lew Wallace, wrote "Ben Hur". Pulitzer Prize Winners in Literature from New Mexico are among the list: William duBoys, Alex Harris, N. Scott Momaday, Willa Cather, and Cormac McCarthy.

Two priests wrote books on the list: Thomas J. Steele and Fray Angelico Chavez. A number of books were turned into films. There are classic books on the list as well as relatively new books.

TOP TEN

Bless Me, Ultima - Rudolfo Anaya
A Thief of Time - Tony Hillerman
Ben Hur - Lew Wallace
Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather
First Blood - David Morrell
House Made of Dawn - N. Scott Momaday
Lamy of Santa Fe - Paul Horgan
Milagro Beanfield War - John Nichols
Red Sky at Morning - Richard Bradford
The Rounders - Max Evans

Alburquerque - Rudolfo Anaya
All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy
The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid - Pat Garrett
Black Mesa Poems - Jimmy Santiago Baca
Black Range Tales - James A. McKenna
The Blessing Way - Tony Hillerman
Blood and Thunder - Hampton Sides
Bloodville - Don Bullis
Bluefeather Fellini - Max Evans
Brothers of Light, Brothers of Blood - Marta Weigle
But Time and Chance - Fray Angelico Chávez
The Centuries of Santa Fe - Paul Horgan
Ceremony - Leslie Marmon Silko
Chaco Banyon: Sheriff of Lordsburg - Fred Schmidt
Chaco Canyon - Robert Hill Lister
Charlie Carrillio: Tradition & Soul - Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts
Coronado, Knight of Pueblos and Plains - Eugene Bolton
Cuentos - Rudolfo Anaya
Curse of the ChupaCabra - Rudolfo Anaya
Dance Hall of the Dead - Tony Hillerman
The Day It Snowed Tortillas - Joe Hayes
Delight Makers - Aldolph Bandelier
Ditch Rider - Judith Van Gieson
The Education of Little Tree - Forrest Carter
Eight Rattles and a Button - Merle Blinn Brown
El Gringo: New Mexico & Her People - William W. H. Davis
Face of an Angel - Denise Chavez
Fire on the Mountain - Edward Abbey
Forgotten People - George I. Sánchez
Great River - Paul Horgan
Hatchet - Gary Paulsen
Homesteading on Grasshopper Flats - Etta Rose Knox
The House at Otowi Bridge - Peggy Pond Church
I Fought with Geronimo - Jason Betzinez & Wilbur Sturtevant
An Illustrated History of New Mexico - Thomas Chavez
In the Days of Victorio - Eve Ball
Jemez Spring - Rudolfo Anaya
John Gaw Meem - Bainbridge Bunting
Journeys of Faith - Lee Priestley
Kiva, Cross, & Crown - John Kessell
History of La Mesilla & Her Mesilleros - Lionel Cajen Frietze
Land of Poco Tiempo - Charles Lummis
Las Cruces - Linda G. Harris
The Last Conquistador - Marc Simmons
The Leading Facts of New Mexican History - Ralph Emerson Twitchell
The Legend of La Llorona - Rudolfo Anaya
Lottie Deno - J. Marvin Hunter
Maria - Alice Marriott
Mayordomo - Stanley Crawford
Mimbres Painted Pottery - J.J. Brody
The Missions of New Mexico, 1776 - Fray Francisco Dominguez, edited by Adams & Chávez
My Penitente Land - Fray Angelico Chavez
New Mexico: A Pageant of Three Peoples - Erna Fergusson
New Mexico Biographical Dictionary, 1540-2000 - Don Bullis
New Mexico Style - Nancy Hunter Warren
New Mexico Tinwork - Lane Coulter
No Life for a Lady - Agnes Morley Cleaveland
Nobody's Horses - Don Hoglund
Origins of New Mexico Families - Fray Angelico Chavez
People of the Valley - Frank Waters
The Place Names of New Mexico - Robert Julyan
Popular Arts of Spanish New Mexico - E Boyd
Pueblo Nations - Joe Sando
Riders to Cibola - Norman Zollinger
Rio Grande Fall - Rudolfo Anaya
River of Traps - William duBoys & Alex Harris
Roadside Geology of New Mexico - Halka Chronic
Sabino's Map - Donald Usner
Saints of the Pueblos - Charles M. Carrillo
Santa Fe Design - Elmo Baca
Santa Fe on Foot - Elaine Pinkerton Coleman
Santa Fe Style - Christine Mather
Santos & Saints - Thomas J. Steele, S.J
Scavengers - Steven Havill
Shaman Winter - Rudolfo Anaya
Slash Ranch Hounds - Dub Evans
Stolen Gods - Jake Page
Tularosa - Michael McGarrity
Villages of Hispanic New Mexico - Nancy Hunter Warren
Visions Underground - Lois Manno
When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away - Ramon Gutierrez
The Whole Damned World - Martha Shipman Andrews
Wind Leaves No Shadow - Ruth Laughlin
Winter in Taos - Mabel Dodge Luhan
The Wolf Path - Judith Van Gieson
The Woman at Otowi Crossing - Frank Waters
Works on Paper - Georgia O'Keeffe & Barbara Haskell
Zia Summer - Rudolfo Anaya
Zuni Pottery - Marian Rodee
   
   


 

         
 

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