Their son was Hugh McKeen, born
in Palo Pinto, Texas, March 8, 1863. He married
“Our younger brother, Leon, was killed
in a car accident just before his 21 st birthday,” Don
said. “One of four young men had a brand-new
Olds 88. They went to Lordsburg, Deming and
back to see how fast they could go. On the
way back, almost to Hurley, the car left the
ground, and all four flew out of the vehicle
“It happened right after my wife Marti
and I got married,” Don said.
Don has done a lot of genealogy on his family
and has found the Trammells back to 1617 and
the Hawkins back to the 1600s.
“The Trammells went from Germany to France
to England,” Don said. “Thomas Trammell — I
think he was a Hugenot.”
“On my mom’s side, Ben Hawkins
was in Virginia in the 1600s,” he said. “Both
families came before the Pilgrims, I think.
I’m pretty sure about the Trammells.”
He said the first Trammell came over as an
indentured servant. He sued because he wasn’t
released on time. He won, so there’s a
record of his being in America.
“Genealogy is habit-forming,” Don
He believes that the name Trammell in Germany
was likely Treimel. The Hawkins side of the
family is consistently English. Ancestors included
John and Dora McMillin Trammell and Samuel Robert
and Antonia Davenport Hawkins.
“I grew up in Buckhorn on the banks of
Duck Creek,” Don said. “In Buckhorn,
I had 35 or so cousins. The Browns and the
Crumbleys were large families.”
Grandma Crumbley was the matriarch, he said.
Her daughter Nancy married a Brown — one
to George and one to Wilson. Double cousins
Don’s uncle Frank Trammell married Aunt
Mary Hawkins, which made their children Don’s
“My father was killed when I was six
years old,” Don said. “He was working
with the highway department and was killed
on the job.
“Mom became the Postmaster of the Buckhorn
Post Office,” he said. “She spent
26 ½ years as postmaster.”
Buckhorn was a fourth-class post office. It
would be open a couple of hours a day for her
to post mail and give people a chance to pick
up their mail.
“I went to school at Cliff and graduated
from Cliff High School in 1950,” Don said. “I
started working on ranches. I got my first
job when I was 10 years old. Slats Farrar owned
the Buckhorn Store. After he was injured in
a mine accident, I would get off the school
bus at the store and help sell candy and transfer
things from the warehouse to the store. Gertrude
would price and shelf them.”
When he was about 11 or 12 years old, Don helped
Slats cook for a roundup and then for the older
During the summer when Don was 14, he did chores
at the Moon Ranch.
“I would paint tanks or roll wire,” Don
said. “My freshman year in high school,
I went to work for the McCauley Brothers. That
summer it was Tom McCauley and then Hap McCauley.
I did chores and on weekends would truck bales.
I didn’t live at home, but in the bunkhouse
at Hap’s until I graduated.”
On April 1, 1948, when he was a sophomore,
a couple of his buddies talked to everyone
about ditching. Several agreed, but “only
three of us spent the day on the river. It was
hot, and we had no water except for what was
in the river. We caught a fish and cooked it.”
“We went back to school after the buses
had left, so we walked to one of the kid’s
houses,” Don said. “Ken Grahan and
Billy Henry were the other two.
“The next morning, Fred Foster, the principal,
met us at the door. He wanted to know if we
had a good time. Of course, we did, we told
him,” Don said. “He said to come
into his office. ‘OK, you will memorize
the preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg
Address, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution
and the Declaration of Independence’ he
“He gave us a week,” Don said. “I
didn’t waste any time learning them, and
I can still quote them almost verbatim.”
He said he still thinks that memorization teaches
He graduated in a class of 13 and went to the
University of New Mexico where the freshman
class was 2,300.
“I figured I was as smart as I would
ever be, so after the first semester, I went
back to working for Hap, doing dozer work for
a few months. Then I went to the smelter in
Hurley and worked as a car dumper. It was there
that I learned I wasn’t near as smart
as I thought I was.
“Every time I would apply for a job,
they would ask what education I had,” Don
said, “so I went back to Western.”
Slats had opened a service station by that
time, so Don worked for him for almost four
“I worked there until my senior year,
when I starting driving a laundry truck for
Whiteway Laundry, owned by Bob and Katie White,” Don
said. “Their son Robert E. White went
to Boys State and Boys Nation in 1954-55.”
“I was tired of school, so I volunteered
for the draft and went into the Army in 1955
and got out in 1957, two days after I married
Marti on Jan. 5,” Don said. “I met
her at a honky-tonk, the Riverbank Clubhouse
in California, while I was in the service.”
They returned to Silver City, and Don finished
his bachelor’s degree in elementary education
“I taught for a year in Silver, a class
of 32 kids,” Don said. “In April,
there was a strike at Kennecott, and the number
of students dropped to 23 or so. Last hired
was first fired.”
Marti had worked in a county’s school
office in California, so she got a contract
instead of an application.
“Back we went to California,” Don
said. “We spent 10 years in Ceres, south
of Modesto. I got one of the best educations
one could get. I taught sixth grade for two
years, then I was the head teacher for three
years. I spent five years in administration
as the supervisor of child welfare and attendance
and registrar and director of pupil personnel
The district unified and Don decided he needed
a master’s degree.
“It was because I couldn’t stand
the superintendent who came in,” Don smiled.
So it was back to Western, where he got his
“I started looking for a job again,” Don
said. “I became principal of the elementary
lab school on 12 th Street and then they asked
me to be the supervising teacher, which I did
for two years.”
His next stint was as a counselor at Silver
High School, where he spent 25 years.
“At Silver High School, one of my responsibilities
was the lockers,” Don said. “A bunch
would all of a sudden puff. I opened one and
it had wadded up paper inside with sugar and
a paper about saltpeter. I went to the chemistry
teacher. She said if the two are compressed
together they spontaneously combust.
“There was a Rexall stub with the saltpeter,
and I knew which pharmacist had a daughter in
high school,” Don smiled, “so I
confronted her, and she went pale. I never
had any more locker fires from spontaneous combustion.”
“With my two years of military, I retired
with 37 years of experience,” Don said.
Now he and his wife Marti work with Faith Community
to try to bring an assisted-living facility
to Silver City.
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