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Jose Demosthenes Montez
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Taylor Hayes
Date of Interview - 1-1-1981
Interviewed by Gloria Campbell
Gloria C: Is Demosthenes Montez all your name?
Senora M: Jose.
Senor M: Jose Demosthenes Montez.
G. C: And when were you born?
Sr. M: The eleventh of May of 1899 at El Rito de Las Sallinas. (The Creek of the Chickens). I was baptized in Gardner, Colorado, no in Walsenburg, Colorado by Sinforosa Montez and Julian Valdez. My parents were Tomas Aquin Montez and Maria Isidora Cordova. My father was born in San Acacio. His father was from New Mexico. He was raised in New Mexico.
G. C: Do you know in what part?
Sr. M: In Taos, near Taos. And my grandfather, my father's father, my grandfather's name was Jesus Maria Montez. His father's name I do not know but he arrived at the Port of New Orleans in 1812 with the Pirate La Fite. He took part in the battle of New Orleans when the Americans fought the English. The pirate helped the Americans set a blockade on the port so that the English could not come in and harm the Americans with their war weapons there at the coast and in the city of New Orleans. This is all I know about my ancestors on my father's side. My father moved from San Acacio when he was seven years old and my grandfather Jesus Montez established a homestead at El Rito de Las Gallenas. I do not know the dates.
G. C: Which was his place? Where did he homestead? What is the place now?
Sr. M: Oh, today Johnny Bucci lives there. My father also proved a homestead next to that of his father. The two homesteads now belong to Johnny Bucci. I was raised there together with my brothers and sisters, all the members of the family. From there we moved to Vegoso, northwest of Redwing, about six miles northwest of Redwing. This was in 1928. I lived there at El Rito de Las Gallinas until I was 21 years old, then I moved to Vegoso because I established a homestead in Vegoso, and afterwards they all moved there since my father bought another place there next to my homestead. There my father died.
G. C: When did he die?
Sr. M: The twelfth of June, 1939.
G. C: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
Sr. M: The family, we are five brothers and one sister.
G. C: And their names?
Sr. M: The oldest was Eloy Montez followed by Amarante Montez. He was followed by Estanislado Montez and then Demosthenes Montez, after him was Maria Florencia Montez and after Maria comes the youngest, Jesus Maria Montez. At this date Demosthenes, Florencia and Jesus are still living. The other three have passed away. But to follow the history of Gardner, there I started school in the first grade. I passed kindergarten in Walsenburg. I attended that school in Gardner which is where Wright lives now. Is it Mrs. Wright? No.
G. C: Harney!
Sr. M: Yea, Mrs. Harney. There I graduated from the eighth grade.
G. C: Did this school have it's own name?
Sr. M: It was the Gardner Public School-no more. They only taught up to the 8th grade. This was in 1913-1914. In the year 1913-1914 Estanislado and I graduated from the 8th grade and the following year I attended the Huerfano County High School in Walsenburg. At that time the high school was held where the Sears garage is now, across the street from where De Leo's depot is now. They didn't have their own building then for the school. I attended school up to the 9th grade there.
G. C: How did you get to school? Did you stay in Walsenburg or what did you do to attend high school?
Sr. M: Well my brother Eloy had his home in Walsenburg. We stayed with him while we went to high school. At that time there were no such things as buses and things like that. One year that there was small pox in Gardner, they closed the Gardner Public School and since my parents had a farm at El Rito de Las Gallinas, part of the farm was located within the Talpa District, which is now Farisita, so we attended school in Farisita. There we finished the year. There we used to walk to school. We walked about 3 miles from our house to the school, since the farm was about 3 miles west of El Rito de Las Gallinas. Well after that, after we finished the 9th grade we didn't go to these schools anymore. Father sent us to a college, a business college because it was called York Business College in York, Nebraska. There I stayed a year and 4 months but not continually, we went in September and the college closed in June. I stayed June, July and August. I was employed in a small grocery store in York. Estanislado came back to the farm and returned to the college when the semester of the second year started. We started again and I finished my studies in December. I received a diploma in typewriting, stenography, at that time the Brigg Shorthand System was used. I received a diploma in this shorthand system and in Commercial Law and in book research. I returned to the farm and I did not utilize my talents. I stayed at the farm. I never went out to utilize my education until 1940. In 1943, four years after my father's death I went to work for Bill Agnes. Then I went to work for Frank Mauro in a liquor store he had in Gardner at that time. They had a small liquor store there where your place is now, in the house. You've got a school there? No? Not yet? Are they going to have one?
Sr. M: School. No?
G. C: No not that I know of.
Sr. M: The newspaper said that maybe, but I am confusing the story, the newspaper said that maybe they were going to start a school there in the house where he had the store.
G. C: Yea, I don't know anything about that. No no.
Sr. M: I ran the liquor store there for a time.
G. C: Did you like the job?
Sr. M: Oh yes.
G. C: Why did you like it so much?
Sr. M: I liked it because there was a lot of stuff to drink.
G. C: It wasn't because you got to know a lot of people?
Sr. M: Yea. I had many friends there but I discontinued the work because mother was not happy that I was working there. I hired out with Agnes in the store. Agnes had his store where Tony Seran first had his business. I worked for a year but I was deeply in debt and I wasn't making enough money so I decided to look for other jobs but the best I could do was go to Wyoming to herd sheep.
G. C: But how much money were you earning working for Agnes?
Sr. M: Seventy five a month, no more. At that time it wasn't so little, it was a fairly regular salary but it wasn't enough because I was deeply in debt and I could not afford the interest on my debts and to sustain Mother since at that time I was in charge of her. When I went to Wyoming my mother stayed with Florencia. A month after I went to Wyoming my mother passed away. I had to come back to bury her and after her burial I went back to Wyoming where I stayed from July of 1944 until the twentieth of December of 1946. I came home, spent the winter and then in the Spring I went back and that was my routine for five years. I worked in Wyoming nine months and came to Gardner for three months.
G. C: Did you like to herd sheep?
Sr. M: Sheepherder, yes. Or sheepherder and camp tender, but more or less it was the same kind of work.
G. C: Did you shear sheep?
Sr. M: No I didn't shear sheep. I only herd sheep, worked as camp tender. I changed the camp sites and cooked for the sheepherders.
G. C: I have heard that many of the men went to Wyoming to shear sheep. You are the first one who says that you went as a sheepherder. Did you like the work?
Sr. M: Yes I liked it, especially the last years I worked there. I liked it more because the pay was better and then we had radios. One was always informed about what was going on in the world. It was lonely at the beginning. It was also that I didn't have a lot of company. I read books and I received newspapers, the Walsen newspaper and The World. I always received The World, the El Clarion and other magazines. I didn't feel lonely or sad. I became use to it because since my youth I herded sheep for my father. My father always was a sheep raiser.
G. C: Did he own a lot of sheep?
Sr. M: No not very many, we had a few. I sheepherded part of the time.
G. C: Did he graze his sheep when everything was open grazing or where did he graze them?
Sr. M: Yes when there was a lot of free government land, he never lacked land to graze even in later years because we stayed within the law by leasing land from the government. Besides, I had a square mile of land, 640 acres. Estanislado had 320 acres and then we bought other property there. It was enough land but when he died we had everything mortgaged. I never could clear the property. I lost it. The bank, the banks took all the properties and I could never redeem them.
G. C: When you made these homesteads, much later did you acquire water rights? Or when did you register them?
Sr. M: There was by now no water to be claimed and there where we took homesteads there was no irrigation land but father bought a place in agricultural land and water rights to water it.
G. C: In what year did he homestead that place in El Rito?
Sr. M: In El Rita he had water rights that he registered in his youth. As f or the dates I can't tell because I don't remember. But he came here when he was 7 years old and I believe he acquired the farms after he became of age to acquire them, 21 years old. This has to be entered in the register. He was born in 1862, a year before the Civil War began and mother was born in 1867, after the Civil War was over. In the time that one and the other was born the Civil War had been fought. She was born at Under Hill, here in Pueblo County, what they now call Broad Acres. She was born where the Huerfano River comes into this county. Her parents came from Taos.
G. C: How did they meet?
Sr. M: I don't know how they met. My mother's parents were
Antonio Cordova and Maria Trujillo. My grandfather Antonio
Cordova was a gambler but he didn't belong to the black hand
(Mano Negra). He was just a gambler. At one time he gambled his
son and he lost him.
G. C: He lost him?
Sr. M: Yes.
G. C: Was he a card gambler?
Sr. M: Yes, playing cards. And then, so that they wouldn't take him away (his son), they fled from Taos and came here and here my grandfather Antonio Cordova died. My mother and a sister of hers and her two brothers moved to El Rita and this grandmother, Maria Trujillo, married Juan Quintana. Not the Juan Quintana that lives here now. It was another Juan Quintana who had been a captive of the indians. This Juan Quintana raised my mother. I knew this Juan Quintana but I didn't know the other one. My grandfather Juan Quintana married Tonita Maes (Antonia) after my grandmother Maria Trujillo, on my mothers side died. This Antonia Maes belonged to a family of Maes who lived in the Colonias and who were called Los Mayates. I don't know how but Ramon Cordova was an uncle of the Maes.
G. C: Was he a relative of his, this Patricio Maes? Or was there another family of Maes?
Sr. M: I don't know. I don't know if he also was a Mayate. Maybe
he is. My father's mother's (my paternal grandmother) name was
Juanita Maes and she was a Mayate and do you know that the
Cordovas were called Goyos.
G. C: Goyos? Did they all have names (nicknames) or what?
Sr. M: Therefore I am a blood relative of the Mayate and the Goyos.
G. C: Well!
Sr. M: Well now I am going to tell you the story of Juan Quintana. Juan Quintana was at the River Mexico north of Albuquerque on a farm when he was young. He and another boy of his age, about 12 years old, were herding a few sheep and goats. The place where they lived was a village of our people, you know, Mexicans. They came from Mexico as we all do. They had built a wall around their village. This wall was made of adobe and they had orders not to wander too far from the wall because at that time the indians were always planning to harm the people. They would steal horses and other livestock and even small children if they could. One day they wandered a little too far from the wall and went close to a hill where there were woods. The sheep and the goats climbed up the hill into the woods. As they went to head them off, the indians caught them. I don't know what tribe of indians they were. Anyway the other boy's name was Candelario Saca. The boys were kept captive for about 4 years. They became very good horsemen, they were good at breaking broncos and grew up to be good jockeys in horse racing. They are small in size and the indians made them break their colts and horses. One day another tribe of indians came and brought race horses to race and make bets. They used all kinds of articles for bets, deerskins, beads, moccasins, and other things they had, maybe even their women. The race track was round. It circled a hill. The indians climbed the hill to watch the race. Indians were all around the hill. The indians mounted Juan Quintana and Candelario Baca on the race horses. The boys planned to run away. They had the fastest horses the indians had. They started the race on the south side of the race track, in the middle of the hill where all the people were. They had to go around the hill, and naturally the one who circled the hill first would win. They started the race but they didn't go around the hill. They raced straight ahead and by the time the indians became aware the boys were way away from the indians. The indians got on their horses and gave chase but they couldn't catch up to them. The terrain had woods and was quite hilly so they could hide and watch their pursuers. They finally decided to separate so that if they were caught they wouldn't catch them both. The indians searched for two or three days but the boys couldn't be found. After the boys separated they never saw each other until they were grown men. My grandfather Juan Quintana got to Taos and from there went to Las Vegas. He went eastward from there but before he reached Cimarron, New Mexico, he came into a cattle drive coming from Texas. He joined the drive and finally ended on the Napeste River. The Napeste River is the Fountain River. It is not the Arkansas River. No? That's right. He ended at the Arkansas River. After he got here he got a job cooking on .a cowboy farm which is in the hills here. His boss's name was Charlie Goodnight. This Charlie Goodnight established residence west of Pueblo and the Arkansas. From there he went to El Rito. Then I guess he married the little old lady because I don't know anymore about him on this. I know he learned to build houses of sun—dried bricks and he learned to make adobes. He worked at the farm as a cook. He did everything he was told to do because at that time there were men who knew how to work. Not like now. And this is the story of Juan Quintana. He was married at El Rita and was married to my
grandmother and he later married Antonia Maes. He raised a family. He is buried at El Rita de Las Gallinas. My father and my mother are buried at Gardner but my grandparents are buried at El Rita de Las Gallinas, except Antonio Cordova who is buried some place on the Huerfano, maybe St. Vrain's or same place. Candelario Baca, his pal (his prisoner partner), I don't know how he got back. What I do know is that they met each other again when they were old men. Candelario Baca is the father or grandfather of Presentacion Baca. You probably don't remember him. He died here in Canon City. But you know….let's see….who? Cornelio….Presentacion….Quintana, they call a Cornelio.
G. C: Cornelio Quintana?
Sr. M: You know him don't you? Cornelio Quintana. He is the son of Presentacion isn't he?
G. C: I don't know what his name was.
Sr. M: Well I don't know what more to tell you.
G. C: I wanted to ask you something else.
Sr. M: Yes, go ahead.
G. C: I wanted to ask you more about your education. How did it happen that you and your brother went to school more than other Mexicans who would not go to school at that time because they had to work or do other things? How come you did go?
Sr. M: It was because father kept us in school whether we wanted to or not. That's how it happened that we stayed in school. It they had given us a chance we wouldn't have gone either. But it happened that at those times many didn't go to school because they had to go to work in the spring on the farm you see. But we were lucky that this didn't happen to us. We completed the 8th grade in Gardner anyway, the 9th grade at the high school but we did not finish high school. He wanted to give us some college education which he gave us so that we wouldn't work as hard as he did. I don't know if it helped any or not. Mine helped me, the little that I learned has helped me a lot.
G. C: Your father, then, wanted you to receive an education?
Sr. M: Both my father and mother had a lot of interest in that we had schooling.
G. C: Can you tell me more about the stores that existed there in Gardner earlier?
Sr. M: Well the first year that we were going to school there was the Hudson Ingram Mercantile Company. They were the Hudson brothers and Mrs. Ingram who was their sister.
G. C: How, Singer?
Sr. M: Ingram. They had the store where Seran has his store. Further below where Pedro Garcia's house is now, only it is not the same house. On the other side of the little liquor store there was a big house that burned down. There Daniel B. Castelo who built that big hotel where Mrs. Knight lives. After Castelo grew to be quite old, C. G. Brown ran the store that Castelo had. This C. G. Brown had operated a store in Redwing where he went to school in a building next to the hill. You know where? My father had a store there and also my Uncle Juan de Dios. They built their own stores. They were the ones who built that house next to the Crestone in Redwing many years ago. Maybe I was born at that time, I don't know. Amarante was born, anyway. Then Brown's sold the store to the Huerfano Mercantile Company. This company had a store in Walsenburg also.
G. C: Who ran that company?
Sr. M: That company had two or three managers but I don't remember their names.
G. C: Where did this Brown come from?
Sr. M: Brown, by golly, I use to know but now I don't remember. I think it was from Connecticut. He was a bachelor. He never married.
G. C: And your father then always farmed, always, except during the time he ran the store or business?
Sr. M: Yes, he was always a farmer. Afterwards my father, Medardo Espinoza and Joe Martinez ran a store. It was a store in front of where the post office trailer is, only now it is a river. It went, the store was taken by the flood. Medardo Espinoza also had a store there. He was Tony Espinoza's father. Lino Martinez was Conrado's uncle…brother of Manuel Martinez. My father also had a liquor store there, in partnership's with Jack Miller, where they tore down the adobe house where the Post Office is. He had a liquor store there and before that he had one there where Nancy Salazar lives.
G. C: There were many liquor stores, right?
Sr. M: Yes and Don Montez and I had a filling station there one year.
G. C: Filling station? Oh yes, when cars came in. When did you have that station?
Sr. M: Oh, this was later on. There were no blacksmith shops anymore. I was a horse shoer and had a smithy there also. We ran a filling station for three years, 1933, 1934, 1935. In 1933 we started where Nancy lives. We rented from Tim Hudson and when the
year ended Agnes took the store. He rented the store and he sold gasoline and he told Tim that he didn't want him to rent to me any more. He would pay him rent to use the place for the store. Thus, they put us out. We moved here where Tony's liquor store is. We built a lumber slab small house and ran a filling station there for two years. Don ran it two years and I ran it one. We were on a partnership but then I didn't want the business anymore. We broke up and discontinued everything.
G. C: There were a lot of stores, wasn't there?
Sr. M: There were many stores.
G. C: Many liquor stores too. Who ran the Post Office?
Sr. M: Oh yes, would that I could remember about all of them. There were many.
G. C: Very many?
Sr. M: Yes, I went to school there the first time, in 1907. A Tim Wringt was postmaster then. The Post Office was in that house that belonged to Mickey Wyatt. They bought it from Mickey Wyatt-the hippies remember? The one that is on the other side of the church. Then Mike Wyatt became the postmaster, he was Mickey's father. He built a small house for a Post Office where Ambrosia lives now. The Post Office was in one of the adobe rooms. Then he made a big wooden house in the lot that lay next to Ambrosia's place toward where Perrino's is now. This house burned down. Then the Post Office was moved to the adobe house which she later tore down. There was also a liquor store in the big house and a fellow by the name of Holmback.
G. C: A who?
Sr. M: I think his name was Holmback. I don't know, maybe Ethel would have the record. But there was Holmback and there was Mrs. Schumcher. There were also two other men whose names I don't remember. Then there was Charles Knoll and then Arturo and now Ethel Sandoval. How many did I count? About eight. There were eight or nine in the time that I remember. This record you can get from the government and probably the record of the Post Office is there also.
G. C: Were there many Mexicans who had stores or only the Anglo-Americans had them?
Sr. M: No. I don't remember anymore except the late Lino, the late Medano and the late Aquino. I don't remember any others.
G. C: Why was this, do you say (think)?
Sr. M: I think there was a little old man who they called Antonio Martinez y Valdez who had a store. You haven't heard of that old man?
G. C: No.
Sr. M: I think I've heard that he had a store. But it was over in Redwing or in that area. In Gardner, Mrs. Schumcher had a store in the house that belongs to you and the neighbor across the street from your house had a store (Joe Calistro).
G. C: Why do you think more Mexicans did not have stores?
Sr. M: I don't know. I don't remember, maybe you do but I don't know for sure.
G. C: Why do you think?
Sr. M: I don't know. They didn't try to start a store. I think.
G. C: Was it because they didn't have the money?
Sr. M: Maybe they didn't have money to set up a store. There could have been someone who could have had a store…enough ability. I don't know what they could have lacked, maybe money, maybe desire.
G. C: How did people get along in the days of your father? Did you hear talk about that?
Sr. M: They were very sociable. Much more sociable, usually in those times he who had anything shared it with everybody. Hunger was unknown. We were all poor but, if one had food, everybody had it. Neighbors shared with neighbors and so on. They visited each other much more. If someone was sick, everybody helped him. If there was a death in the family, everybody got together and had a wake. They made chile and bunuelos (deep fried tortillas, often called sopapias). A big meal at midnight. That was the custom, that was the wake. They sang (alabados) hymns all night. They prayed the rosary, and they fed those who were named to dig the grave. Usually these were younger men who were stronger. Some neighbor who was a carpenter had to make the coffin and so on.
G. C: Was there someone who made the coffins most of the time?
Sr. M: Yes, usually the same man. That's what was done in the farms mainly. They were made of lumber. They didn't go to a funeral home. And I heard say that, I never saw it, that before this the dead were just in a sheet of cloth and buried that way. The graves….this I did see….were covered with a large heavy stone. The people use to shovel in the dirt and every two or three feet they put in stones and these packed in until the grave was filled. They don't do that anymore.
We did not know about Automobiles in our youth or anything like that. Bicycles we never had.
G. C: What kinds of amusement did they have?
Sr. M: Well they had dances quite often, family dances you know. Before that they use to play Canute. This was a game that they learned from the Indians. I can not tell you how they played it because I never saw it played.
S. C: From the indians?
Sr. M: They learned it from the indians. They also made bets in this game. They did then like basketball teams do now. The ones from Chama against those from El Rito or those from Walsenburg against those from Aguilar and so on. People came to play Canute with the neighbors and they gambled the chickens, the wheat and the beans. There was a lot of singing. They sang about the game. It was a very amusing game.
G. C: They sang? Poems….verses or what?
Sr. M: They sang poems. Oh that there would have been something like this tape recorder so that all these could have been recorded. Maybe she knows, huh? Yes, maybe you're learning something, maybe you're not. That's all I know.
G. C: Where did you go to the dance? At El Rito or at Gardner?
Sr. M: Yes, oh yes, I was quite a dance goer. I use to go to El Rito. I and Malaquias and Estanislado. We use to dance with Lola and with my sister Flora. I don't remember who the other girls were.
G. C: Only two?
Sr. M: We danced with those two but we also danced Square dances. You've never seen the Square dances?
G. C: No.
Sr. M: Oh, you missed a lot. You should have been born sooner. Then they amused themselves acting out pastores (shepherds….an old play). It is a play like a program. There was another one that they called the lost child (a bible play). I never saw this play but I remember seeing the Pastores once. I believe they had other plays like the matachines, a play similar to the maypole. They wove the ribbon like they do in the maypole. The matachines must have been a good entertainment. I have heard say it was for youngsters. They taught them to dance. They used a drum, when the drum sounded they would all stop. I believe it must have been pretty good. I don't know.
G. C: Where did they do this performance? In the church, in the homes in the community or in the school?
Sr. M: No. Wherever there was a hall big enough. There was a hall next to Malaquias place where Sam Thompson had a hall. There in that hall I learned to jump and move my feet (dance).
G. C: About the church….when did they build that church in Gardner?
Sr. M: The church in Gardner was built in 1912 or 1913 I believe, I am not sure.
G. C: Twelve, do you say?
Sr. M: Twelve or Thirteen (1912 or 1913). At that time more or less. They built it when I was away to college. I didn't return until the years 16 or 17.
G. C: Then you remember Gardner when it didn't have a church?
Sr. M: Well in that house where my dad had a store together with the late Lino and the late Medardo, there is where my father's residence was, a little farther up there was also a hall there where they use to have mass for a long time. Afterwards when the flood swept away the houses they held mass in a log house that was later torn down. This was where the Martinez and Trujillo place is. Also, close to where the hippie crop use to be my dad had a big house where they use to say mass. Long before that they had a church in Chavez Town. Chavez Town was located a little farther than where the house of the late Geullermo Velarde was. This was more or less where Juan Andres Valarde's house use to be, this is where Chavez Town was.
G. C: What happened that this town did not continue?
Sr. M: Well, let me tell you! There was a flood, poor people and it took away the church, the cemetery and the Morada, the altar, etc. It was a big flood.
G. C: All at the same time?
Sr. M: All in one flood. It took the dead people, poor people, it was bad. Oh, Shucks, why do you want to ask me things like that. It happened so long ago. But it is the truth, poor people.
G. C: What did they use to do with the altar?
Sr. M: It was a place where they went to pray. They had a lot of saint statues there. At that time priests came to say mass only once a year, sometimes every two years. So they had a church in Chavez Town and in El Rito. The church at El Rito was made of log like a fort. Didn't Malaquias tell you about this church?
G. C: That they changed it from one side to….
Sr. M: They tore it down. It was where the road comes down this way but it was situated across the river. That building would still be there if it hadn't been torn down. It was made of logs and was as sturdy as a fort. It was plastered with mud and then whitewashed with lime. It had a flat roof.
G. C: They moved it because, he told me that they moved it because Mrs. Zurich wanted the place for pasture land.
Sr. M: I believe so. But they didn't move it, they tore it down. I don't know who bought the used lumber. The other church there was built of adobe.
G. C: And about the politicians. What can you tell me about the politicians of those past times?
Sr. M: Well, as far as I can remember, the first sheriff that existed there was named Jeff Graham. He was sheriff for many years. They went to arrest him and he escaped. This Farr, brother to the sheriff, was a deputy, was behind a tree but the bullet went through the tree and killed him. After that there were other sheriffs.
G. C: I want to know about the politicians from the area of Gardner, Redwing, Chama or El Rito?
Sr. M: Well, many years ago when Colorado became a state, from El Badito the late Juan Pino was representative of the legislature. At that time there were Mexican sheriffs, treasurers, assessors and all that. At that time there were not many whites among us. From the colonies my uncle Juan de Dios Montez served as senator. That was at the beginning. At that time the laws were written in Spanish and in English. Later, they did away with this system. What others? There were some Sanchez who participated for a long time in the county politics.
G. C: Where were they from?
Sr. M: One of them was called Pantaleon.
Sra. M: Gonzales.
Sr. M: Sanchez. And my cousin Pantaleon also was judge there. These were later times. Pantaleon Gonzales like me, he was justice of the peace, no more. Oh but you can pick that history up over there. I don't want to talk about that.
G. C: You don't want to talk about that?
Sra. M: Oh, but I think you should.
Sr. M: You think I should?
Sra. M: Sure.
Sr. M: Are you getting a kick out of this?
Sra. M: You should talk about it.
G. C: I wanted to say something about your diploma that is over there, on the wall.
Sr. M: It's just a certificate of election….is all. Those are very common.
Sra. M: You could say you were a justice of the peace.
Sr. M: I was a Huerfano County judge but I didn't want to serve.
G. C: Why?
Sr. M: Because I didn't want to judge anybody. In the first place I didn't even want to run but they put me in.
G. C: Did they have an election and everything?
Sr. M: Oh yes, regular election. That's when you were already born I guess. Yea, I don't know.
Sra. M: In what year was it?
Sr. M: What year? It's in the thirties, I think.
G. C: I wasn't born yet.
Sr. M: You weren't born in the thirties yet?
G. C: No.
Sr. M: Oh Oh, then in 1940.
G. C: Neither in the 40's. Then you chose not to serve?
Sr. M: I wouldn't qualify. I wouldn't go in. I didn't want to serve.
G. C: You didn't want to serve? Oh, so they had to choose somebody else, or what?
Sr. M: The judge that was serving stayed. I don't even recall who was in, in the 40's. I think it was an American from Cucharas. I don't remember. Afterwards, Barron came in. What was I going to do as judge? What do I know about being a judge?
Sra. M: Then why did you run?
Sr. M: I didn't want to run. Ask me why they made me run or elected me. Better ask that.
G. C: When you lived there in El Rito, how did the people get along there, about water rights? Did they fight for the water?
Sr. M: At first, no. At first we had good rainy years and there was no drouth. Yes, according to history they come in cycles. There is a rainy cycle which lasts for several years and then there is a dry cycle. During the dry cycles, yes, those who had rights had water, those who didn't have water rights, didn't have water. When we left El Rito we were starting to fight for water. I remember once I went and shut off the water and after I shut it off I came down stream to irrigate, the water was cut off up steam, at the head ditch, and they didn't let me water. We never went to court. We never had any cases or court decisions.
G. C: You never had shovel fights? (Hit each other with shovels).
Sr. M: It was never necessary. At the Vegoso we never were bothered about using the water. We were the only ones living there.
G. C: About Holidays and celebrations?
Sr. M: Oh, then we used to shake a leg. We had dances, horse races, etc. We had food stands. They had the food stands at the dances and each courtier asked his damsel to dance, then would take her and treat her at the food stand. He would buy her gum or a bag of candy or something like that. It was a custom at that time. The rest of us had to pay a nickel or a dime to dance and to take our dancing partner to the food treat. If we didn't have money, we just stood around and looked. We had horse races, no rodeos like they have now or bronco busting. Horse races yes. I use to like them. I liked the dances too. We use to play A Las Iglesias, a kind of game played with a home made ball and it was similar to football. We used to play Chuico. They used a hooked stick to hit the ball. Each community had a Chuico team and there was betting. People use to like to make bets. I didn't know they liked making bets so much.
At Las Iglesias they started at a center point and each team had to hit the ball toward his side. The judge tossed the ball up and the battle to hit began. They fought each other all the way. Sometimes their hockey sticks were broken. Sometimes they hit a player who could run very fast with the stick and they would knock him down. Then there was a fight sometimes. Another custom, they use to run the rooster. (Corrergallo) Have you heard about the run of the rooster?
G. C: Yes.
Sr. M: In the run of the rooster they buried the rooster in the ground.
G. C: A live rooster?
Sr. M: Yes, alive. Then a rider on horseback would go by at full speed and try to pick up the rooster. When someone picked it up everybody would charge him and fight for the rooster. By the time the conflict was over the rooster was torn to pieces and the players had blood and often guts on their face. They hit each other with the rooster. They had a lot of fun. People at those times were ornery. They got along very well. They had fights also, just like they do now.
G. C: Men used revolvers until when?
Sr. M: Well, they carried them until they died or were killed. At that time there was no law prohibiting carrying revolvers. Many carried revolvers strapped to their waist. Now a days you can not carry a gun unless it is hidden and if they don't have a license, they get in trouble. Then everyone carried guns and daggers.
G. C: When you operated a liquor store, were there many fights amoung people carrying weapons?
Sr. M: Yes, there were fights all the time but I never saw one, not me. The bar was my friend. I hid under the bar until it was over.
G. C: But there were fights, eh?
Sr. M: Oh yes, then, but not now. The soldiers from the other side use to come over. They liked to drink. That's the reason I quit running the liquor store because mother lived in a little house that used to belong to my brother. I lived there with mother a long time. My mother used to see the fights from there and she was always worried about me.
G. C: Why did the soldiers from the other side come over?
Sr. M: Because it was during the time of the second world war. This was in 42. In 42 a few started coming. I ran the liquor store in 42 and 43. In 44 I went to the store business and in 45 I went to Wyoming and I stayed there until 47.
G. C: Did you go into the service?
Sr. M: No No. I took the examination and they passed me but not for active service. I was placed in the Job of distributing clothes and taking inventories of clothing and of other rations. I was only on call but they never called me. The only soldier in the family was Jesus, the youngest one.
G. C: Did he go to the World War, World War II?
Sr. M: No. He went to fight against the Japanese but he died not seeing action.
G. C: Did people use banks when you were young?
Sr. M: No, wait now, I remember a bank was started in Walsen.
G. C: But did people from around there go to the banks? (had a brake in tape)
Sr. M: He had his small farms mortgaged. He was one that signed for the bank. There were several Mexicans who signed for the bank. You know, when it was organized as shareholders. They didn't know, I think, what they did. I believe they cheated them with all that. It happened that way with the First National Bank, you bet.
G. C: How did the Americans (whites) get along with the Mexicans?
Sr. M: How they get along?
G. C: Uh….huh.
Sr. M: Well, the same as now. If a Mexican had money or property then they loaned him money. They had to sign a note of course.
G. C: I mean how….?
Sr. M: Oh you mean socially?
G. C: Yes.
Sr. M: Well, more or less as they do today. A banker favored people he knew well or those who were well to do. That's how it was done.
G. C: And the people of Gardner and El Rito, how did they get along with the Americans, with the whites?
Sr. M: Well, there at El Rito there was no other white man than the late Willburn for many years. This man was a wise fellow. They opened two schools and he managed the district's money while he was there year after year. All his sons and daughters, most of them were teachers. The sons married the teachers and finally when the Mexicans woke up they kicked him out. You know what he use to do? He made up the ballot and then gave it to them to mail. He was always either the treasurer or the president or whatever, but anyway he handled the money and everything was done as he said in that district. This did not happen in the other districts. There were other districts there which had Mexicans as directors (board of directors). There it was different. Things ran well. I still think that Willburn ran illegally, taking advantage. I remember in one of the meetings of the directors there was an old man whose name was …., what was the name of that old man? His last name was Ortibez. By golly if Malaquias Valdez were here he would tell you his name because he used to mimic him. This man once gave a report of the money and you know many times they had many small items that they called miscellaneous, right? There never was any money left when the report was given. Any money left was entered in miscellaneous. Narciso Ortibez was the name of the little old man.
G. C: How?
Sr. M: Narciso. One day Narciso asked what miscelina meant. He asked Tomas Martinez, another Mexican who was there and who later became commissioner. He asked Tomas Martinez, “Listen Tomas, what does miscelina mean?” He was trying to say miscellaneous. He didn't know what it meant. So you are a student. Are you still there?
G. C: No.
Sr. M: Not anymore? Did you quit?
G. C: Well, I am there in Alamosa.
Sr. M: Oh, so you are in Alamosa. You are at Adams State! I am glad to hear that. By golly, you should have done that long ago.
G. C: I have one more year to go.
Sr. M: I am glad to hear that.
G. C: Were there any members of your family miners?
Sr. M: What?
G. C: Were any in your family miners?
Sr. M: Yes. My brother Toby owned a mine. He was the brother of Eloy Montez.
G. C: What kind of mine?
Sr. M: A coal mine. It was south of Walsenburg. Estanislado worked some in the mine, not much. My brother Amarante, he was lost. He left. He abandoned the family and left. We never saw him again. He worked in the mine.
G. C: Was there anyone in the strike of 1913? The big strike there in Walsen?
Sr. M: At that time Amarante was working at the mine in Rouse. An uncle of mine, Jose Aragon, was a guard. That was the strike when there was that mess there in Ludlow. Here in Walsenburg the unionists were in control of the trench and they would not let the people in Walsenburg come in or go out. They would stop everyone and question them because they didn't want them going in or out. The dry farmers were called scabs because some worked as dry farmers. The unionists would not let them work. At that time the union started to gain strength. I remember once there was Alyandro Eames, he was a Riteno (from El Rito) and was a musician, nephew of Tomas Trujillo. He was raised there in the farm where Sam Thompson is. He was young then and walked with a limp. He had a bum leg and always limped, like my cousin Ursula-Ursulita (Medina). You know. He was coming in his buggy from Walsenburg to the farm. He had somebody with him but his friends stayed behind. The unionists caught him there in the trench, at the hog back. They questioned him, asked him if he was union or scab. He told them he was neither, that he was a Mexican and he escaped. They let him go. He was just a kid you know. They fooled around with him but he saved himself by saying he was Mexican.
G. C: Let me see what else, about the depression, during the time
of want, what effect did that have there?
Sr. M: The depression….well, here there was no depression for me. We were always in a depression. I was raised in a depression. For me there was no difference.
G. C: There wasn't?
Sr. M: Work became scarce. There were no jobs for the men. People had to get help to make a living. That was when Franklin and Eleonor Roosevelt started the government jobs, like the C.C. and Works Progress Administration and the National Recovery Administration. All that legislation was passed to help the people during the depression. The government provided the money to carry on the programs. It was hard for many people. I didn't feel it. I never had money in my life. I had enough work, we always worked for other people. We just kept working that was all.
G. C: Then you never worked on these (government) programs?
Sr. M: No never. I was always at the farm taking care of the sheep or putting up alfalfa or irrigating or doing other kinds of work.
G. C: When you lived at El Rito, could you say that people were clannish or united?
Sr. M: Yes and no. The people of El Rito were united, as I already told you that when one had something, everyone had it there too. But there were few people there. There was only Malaquias and Lula, but they are still clannish. If one had something they all had it. The rest are new there. They are the only old couple there. Down below are the old Montanos. They are united. They were born and raised there. They had a little old man there who died a while ago. His name was Daniel.
G. C: Yes.
Sr. M: That's the way they were. They were sociable, very sociable, united. Even after they left there when anyone needed anything they helped each other.
G. C: And of this idea of the compadrazco, many were compadres and comadres. That united the people alot didn't it?
Sr. M: Yes, they use to become compadres. Compadres were almost like brothers, something in that order because the padrenos that baptized a hijado (a child), parents and padrinos became compadres and the hijado became like a son (or daughter) to the padrinos. They were hijados. Well I always considered my padrinos (the couple who baptized me) as my daddy and mommy. (To the visitors: Why don't you stay until we finish? Aren't you having a lot of fun? I am going to get started going good now.) There at El Rito when anybody butchered a hog the neighbors came to help and everyone was given a piece of meat. They also took some chicharrones (fried lard left overs) or something else. They had a good time. This compadrazco contributed toward great social relations. One compadre must not have any bad feeling against his compadre, no matter what happened. We had a man there, for example, who was a drunkard. I won't tell you his name because he was a cousin of mine. He use to get drunk and insult people. He had a compadre there and he use to tell him off at the time but his compadre never became angry at him, never, never. Other people would kick his butt or throw him in jail, but not his compadre.
G. C: It wasn't like this at that time?
Sr. M: No, not then. At first, where the Tangney is, Sam Thompson. There a man named El Guero Apodaca (blond Apodaca) settled. This man brought goats when he came. He came from New Mexico. This was before the homestead act was passed. He settled a town of Mexicans who came with him and later others who came from other places. This was a little ways above where Malaquias Valdez lives. This man started a flour mill there. It was water powered. He had millstones which I think he made himself. I once saw the millstones. They called this man El Guero (blond) Apodaca.
G. C: Was he blond?
Sr. M: Yes, and he had good farmland there. He registered his farmland. I believe these were the first that were registered. What happened was that the late Ramon Trujillo, the father of Tomas Trujillo, took the farm. But this man was the ruler there. He drove the others out. They had to leave because this was his land. It was like socialism. They gathered the crops and everybody shared. He had the mill. Another thing they built was a molasses factory. They made it out of a certain kind of cane that they raised there. It was similar to the sugar cane raised in tropical climates. It was like corn stalks but was very sweet. This they used to make molasses.
G C: Oh, that's interesting.
Sr. M: Yeah, that's something now. This people use to make tubs from trees. They would cut the trees and used hatchets or other tools to hack out the wood. They used the tubs to make the molasses. They made a contraption, also of .wood, to grind the cane. After the cane was ground in the tubs they would take out the pulp and the juice that was left was molasses. Another thing they had was tobacco seed. They used to raise a kind of tobacco called Mexican Tobacco (Punche Mejicano). This tobacco seed finally was lost.
G. C: Where did they raise that?
Sr. M: They used to plant it. For years they had tobacco seeds to plant and make mexican tobacco (punche mejicano). My grandma-my mother's mother, Dona Juanita Jaramillo, use to make punche mejicano and sell it, or trade it for wheat, beans, chicharrones, chickens or what ever she could. She made it a business.
G. C: Where did they get the seed?
Sr. M: Syrup from outside came in, sugar also. After that they did not try to make it. (talking about molasses) They did not plant Mexican Tobacco anymore. I don't know why. They didn't have the seed. Those pioneers were smart people. They learned to live where there wasn't much to live from, these ancestors of ours. There was no better settler than the one who came from Spain and was mixed with indian blood, which made us the creoles, because we, I don't know what we are. I know I am Goyo and Mayate (these were types of mixture of different social groups). I think I am indian and Spanish because my paternal grandfather, the one who came with the pirate to New Orleans, was a Spaniard. So I was half spaniard and half, I don't know what, indian probably.
Sra. M: Tell about the pirate.
Sr. M: About the pirate? Yea, he came over to the west and arrived in New Mexico, I believe in Santa Fe. He got married there and raised three daughters. The daughters were the ones who came to this country. My father Jesus's mother came to Taos. He (my father) was born there. That's the way they came. There's no history of these old settlements. Like the little town of Chavez nor of the settlement of El Guero Apodaca in El Rito. These were very old but there is no history of them now. There's not much of these settlements left. Too bad.
G. C: This is why we want to talk to the people, so that no more of this history is forgotten.
Sr. M: I'd like to refer to somebody but all the old people are gone. We are the only ones left.
Sra. M: We're going…slow but sure.
Sr. M: I know some pretty nice stories about captives but we won't have time to refer to them. In the past there were many captives amoung us. There at El Rito there was a little old lady who was a captive. She was kidnapped by indians in Arizona….in Sonora.
G. C: Was that Marieta?
Sr. M: Yes, that Marieta. Did you hear about her?
G. C: A little, not very much.
Sr. M: She had a very pretty history, but….
G. C: Do you know it?
Sr. M: Not all of it.
G. C: But a little?
Sr. M: A little yes. I don't even remember her name.
G. C: This man Eames. Why did he have the name Eames? Was that Mexican?
Sr. M: Tomas Trujillo's mother lived with this Eames, E-A-M-E-S.
I believe he was Scotch, I don't know, but he wasn't American.
This women had children from this Eames. She had a son whose name
was Everett. This Alejandro was the son of that Everett.
G. C: Did he farm?
Sr. M: This Everett? Oh yes. He was a beef worker and was a farmer. This Alejandro had a lot of schooling in music. He was a good musician. He died in Denver.
G. C: Did you know of the soldiers who came from Ft. Garland to this area? Did they marry mexican women?
Sr. M: Yes, but I don't remember any case in particular but I know it happened.
G. C: Did you hear anything about a Captain Deus?
Sr. M: I heard him mentioned a lot but I didn't know him. He came from there (Ft. Garland) and he was responsible for helping many El Rito people getting their pensions. Malaquias's father was a soldier and with the help of the list that he (Deus) had he was able to get his pension. Also, that women Marieta, the one who was a captive, married a soldier. This must have been during the Civil War. These soldiers were from the Civil War. Marieta received a government pension because of her husband. Malaquias's mother, also, received a federal pension until her death. Of these soldiers there was a little old man from Pass Creek whose name was Marquez. Remember him?
G. C: No I don't.
Sr. M: He raised Benino Vigil.
G. C: I believe that his name was mentioned.
Sr. M: That little old man was a soldier also. He was bugler.
G. C: Bugler?
Sr. M: Yes, bugler. He was the father of Esteban Vigil, deceased. He was a soldier and deserted. Some soldiers were looking for him but he hid under a stack of hay. The soldiers tracked him to the stack but then they left. They didn't want to catch him. He never went back in the service but he got his pension even though he deserted.
G. C: Yes, what luck, no? And about the penitentes? Were you a penitente?
Sr. M: No. I did not belong to the morada (the penitente house). There were many moradas here. There were two in El Rito that I remember. There were moradas all over. My father Jesus was a penitente (men who belonged to the morada). My uncle Simon was a penitente. My uncle Juan de Dios was a penitente. My dad never did join. He was afraid to whip himself. My baptismal godfather was a penitente and he often asked me. “Why don't you join with us in the morada?” But I was like dad, I was scared. I never did want to join.
G. C: Why do you think almost no one wants? (to join)
Sr. M: Well, during the early years almost everybody belonged. There was hardly a family who didn't have a penitente. Afterwards they became wary of the morada. The youth of today, like those of your age, from that age to the present no one joins. It ended. It was a good thing, I think. It was (the morada) began in Espanola. I don't remember, what year and then it spread out here. They used to call it the Company of Jesus.
G. C: And those who were penitentes, were they the men who were leaders, what they said went? They, these penitentes, were the leaders of the community?
Sr. M: I believe so. The Hermano Mayor (head of the morada) was a counselor. When there was trouble between the wife and the husband the hermano mayor talked to them and kept them together. The idea was to serve God and punish themselves for their sins. This was established by a priest. He was a friar. In the first years after Columbus it was spread all over the settlers. Columbus planted the cross in Santo Domingo when he landed there in 1492. The Queen Isabella was a Catholic and she financed Columbus's voyages, thus religion was established everywhere. From Mexico the missionaries came here. Many priests came here and to California. They went everywhere. But the penitentes did not come from Mexico. They started in New Mexico, in Espanola.
G. C. These penitentes, like the ones in El Rito, did they have laws which guided their living? As you said about that Hermano Mayor who use to counsel the wife and husband?
Sr. M: They had rules and by-laws, yes.
G. C: Rules guiding their way of life, that they didn't need other laws or sheriffs?
Sr. M: Surely, at those times laws weren't needed. There were no laws. Catholicism was the law, more or less. Religion was the law. To love God was the law. In the moradas they were guided by the rules and by-laws, which they drew out. If a member separated from his wife, he was kicked out and could not go back until he was reconciled. If a member lived with a woman who was not his wife, he was kicked out. This was a society which enforced morality. What wasn't right was their way of penance. The church soon condemned that idea. The rest of the rules and laws and by-laws were approved by the church. It was foolishness to hang a man on a cross. He wasn't nailed to the cross but he was tied to it. That kind of punishment was not necessary. There was no moderation in the way they carried their on business. But they did rule the community. At El Rito, at the beginning the priests did not come to the community more than once a year. The moradas maintained the people in the religion. They met at the morada to communicate and pray, to pray the stations and do other exercises that they practiced, such as las tenebrae. Have you ever been to the tenebrae? (This tenebrae was the ritual performed where everything was dark).
G. C: Me? Yes.
Sr. M: All their rituals had a meaning either in the church or in the Bible. For example, the tenebrae signified the death of the Lord when the sun was eclipsed and it became dark and the mountains opened up and the stones parted. Those are the noises that they made there.
In Gardner I spent a lot of time with business and without business. I received my mail there the last years I was there, from 42 until I came to Pueblo. And from my birth until about 1921, the years in between 21 and 42 I received my mail in Redwing because I had my homestead there and I ran my business here in Gardner. I ran a smithy close to where the co-op was. I had the blacksmith shop. I use to wear a black hat and use to heat iron and weld them. My clothes were black by the time I came home. I use to fix plows and make horseshoes and shod horses. I did work of that kind. I got tired by the end of the day. It was hard work.
G. C: When did you marry your wife? You want to mention your wife. I believe so, don't you?
Sr. M: We were married on November 7, 1970.
G. C: I thought you had said 1917.
Sr. M: In 1917 I didn't even know how to make a tortilla. That's another thing, you know. At that time they ground the flour with the motate and the mano. (grindstone and pestle). The first settlers that came here had many hardships. The women worked hard. They used to make their own yarn out of wool. My mother knew how to make yarn.
G. C: Why did they come from New Mexico over here?
Sr. M: Because they settled there first and they extended to this place toward the north. They followed the course of the Rio Grande, you know. From Taos they came to San Luis. My relatives, my grandfather came first to San Acacio. My father was born there and from there they came over to El Rito because there was free land and they were looking for a place to make a living. Those times were different from today where you have to carry water in pipes and have electricity. Then they just built a bower of tree branches and there they lived until they could build a shack. Then they tried to plant even if it was only with a spade. They sometimes had burros, oxen or horses if they were lucky. All pioneers were poor people. They had to go out and get food. From El Rito they used to come buffalo hunting over to the plains. These places east of Pueblo and around there used to be called the plains. People used to come from as far as Chicago and Missouri to hunt buffalo. Often they would spend a whole year in buffalo hunts. They brought wagons and wherever they caught or found a buffalo herd they would kill as many as they could. All together they skinned and dressed them, then they dried the meat. They dried the meat and made jerky (sesinas). They would load the meat on their wagon and they would press it down after it was dried. They had a two or three year supply of meat. They would return to the settlements. Once, from El Rito some uncles of my dad went on a buffalo hunt. The hunter organized a company like soldiers. They elected a captain who commanded everyone in the company. They left on their wagons. From El Rito came the Maeses. They were brothers and related to my grandfather Jesus, the ones I told you were Mayates. They organized their hunting party and they went from here and they stayed away more than a year before returning. They had a mule team that belonged to my dad Jesus, because the late Jesus was always watching toward El Badito to see if they came over with his mule team. But they got lost and ended up at the Llano Estacado in Texas. That's where they ended. They didn't know where they were. They stayed over a year. When they returned they had a lot of meat. They were following buffalo herds and they lost their sense of direction.
G. C: Well, with that ….
Sr. M: They were jerky-making champions. They could sure make jerky. They brought back the hides and the meat. They left the bones behind.
G. C: They did not use the bones?
Sr. M: They left them there. Afterwards the whites (Americans) gathered them to sell them to the Jews.
G. C: Thank you very much. I appreciate everything you have told me.
Sr. M: Maybe they were all lies.
END OF INTERVIEW.
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