|Taos County, New Mexico|
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Colorado Weekly Chieftain, July 30, 1868 TAOS ITEMS. - The irrepressible grasshopper has made way with more than one half the crops in the Taos Valley… Dr. R. Scheifman & Bro., of Taos, have leased for a term of years the celebrated hot springs below Taos, and will fit up the buildings pertaining thereto, for the accommodations of invalids and pleasure-seekers… A Mexican boy aged about twenty years, was arrested on the Rio Colorado, on the 16th inst., charged with larceny. He is confined in the jail at Taos. It is suspected that the same boy is the murderer of the three brothers Callen, on the divide last spring. He is about five feet six inches in height, weighs from 125 to 130 pounds, has regular features, is marked with a cross on the forehead in Indian ink, and in like manner on the inside of his left arm, has scars, one on the left thumb, one on the right hand and two on the right elbow. The boy reads, writes and speaks the English language, and says he formerly belonged to the 2nd Colorado cavalry. He is undoubtedly the same boy who was sentenced for larceny at the spring term of the Pueblo court, and afterwards escaped from custody. He then gave his name as Diego Fernandez. He will be kept in jail in Taos long enough for our Territorial authorities to claim him if they wish to do so.
Colorado Weekly Chieftain, July 30, 1868 Hon. Wm. G. Blackwood and Dr. R. Schiffmann, are our authorized agents at Taos, N. M.
Colorado Weekly Chieftain, August 13, 1868 THE PUEBLO INDIANS OF THE TAOS VALLEY. Having recently, in our tour through Southern Colorado and New Mexico, visited the Pueblo Indians of the Taos Valley, we will give to our readers the result of our observations as to their mode of life, their religion, their education, conjugal relations, &e. As in a former number of the CHIEFTAIN we described in detail the manner in which their dwelling place, or "Pueblo" is constructed, it is needless to allude to it again. Their village is situated on their reservation on the Rio Pueblo, three miles north of Fernando de Taos. THEIR RESERVATION, is three miles square. Not content with so small a tract of land, they have bought other lands adjoining their reservation. Having thus by donation and purchase obtained more land than they as yet actually require for agricultural and pastoral purposes, they annually lease a portion of it to Mexicans, living in the vicinity. THE NUMBER of the Pueblo Indians, including men, women and children, is about five hundred. THEIR LANGUAGE. They still cling with wonderful tenacity to their own peculiar, tribal dialect; but many of them - perhaps half - have by associating with the Mexicans, become familiar with the Spanish, which they speak as correctly as a majority of the Mexicans. THEIR EDUCATION. No one of the tribe can read. Their laws are transmitted by tradition, and their accounts are kept with beans or grains of corn, just as many of the Mexicans keep theirs - a white grain a unit, and a red one representing a certain number of white ones. They have a school open one or two months each year, in which the children are taught to memorize a few prayers and songs as they are repeated to them by their teachers. Letters and figures are not taught. THEIR AGRICULTURE. Their agricultural implements are of the rudest kind, such as are generally used by the Mexicans - purely primitive. They are said to be more industrious and better farmers than the Mexicans, and owning a fine body of the most fertile land, they raise abundant supplies of corn, wheat, beans, and vegetables. They have also large numbers of horses, cattle, asses, sheep, goats, poultry, and hogs. THEIR CIVIL GOVERNMENT, is administered by a Gobernador, an alcalde, an aquacil, and senors (these being the Spanish names of their officers). The first three hold their offices for life, and on their demise, their offices descend respectively to their eldest sons. The senors consist of a certain number of the oldest men in the village. If a vacancy among the senors is occasioned by death or otherwise, it is filled by the oldest man of the tribe, not before ranking as a senor. All cases, civil and criminal, are tried before an alcalde; but should a party feel aggrieved by his decision, he has the right to appeal to the Gobernador, whose decision is final. In case either of the parties to a suit should be a Mexican or an Indian not belonging to the Pueblo tribe, he may take his case before a Mexican alcalde. The Indian in such case is obliged to submit to the Mexican alcalde's decision; but where both parties are Indians they are compelled to submit to the authorities of their own tribe. It is also the alcalde's duty each day, but particularly each Sunday morning, to announce the approaching feasts and fasts, and to give the tribe moral advice. The Aquacil performs the constabulary duties, patrols the village, and seeing or hearing on any violation of the laws, or the order of the Gobernador or alcalde, he arrests the offender, and becomes the complaining witness, in the absence of any other before the alcalde. The senors act as advisers to the Gobernador and alcalde, and approve of all new laws, regulations, or orders. The penalties inflicted for the violation of law among the Pueblo Indians, consist of forfeiture of property, servitude, and corporal punishment. Capital punishment is unknown to their laws. A few examples of their trials and punishments may be interesting to our readers, and will go far to show the stage of their civilization. 1st. A short time since a young gentleman was suspected of undue intimacy with a certain lady, who, by the way, was many years his senior. Strict vigilance was instituted, and about ten days ago our hero was detected, and immediately arrested, and taken before the alcalde, who sentenced the young gentleman to marry the female at once. He obstinately refused, and appealed to the Gobernador, who decided that he must either marry the woman or transfer to her a certain amount of land, and give her a blanket and a dress, and in case she should give birth to a child, he must support and educate it. He accepted the alternative offered by the Gobernador, transferred the land, gave her his own blanket, and went in debt - thus exposing himself to the danger of peonage - to buy her a dress. The woman did not entirely escape punishment. She was banished from the village and compelled to live without the village walls, as unfit to associate with respectable ladies. 2d. Two men had been to Fernando de Taos, where, having imbibed "one drink too much aguardiente," they returned to the village in a state of intoxication. They were immediately arrested, shackled with raw-hide cords, confined in a subterranean room, and after the lapse of twenty-four hours were severely whipped. THEIR RELIGION. They have all been converted to Christianity, yet many of them still hold to the traditions of Montezuma. Some of them believe that he is still alive and look faithfully for his return, when, they imagine, he will drive the white race from the country, and make the Pueblo tribe a great nation. They have a church edifice (Catholic) and are very attentive to the wants of their priest, who is a Frenchman. A certain number of young men are detailed every day to keep the priest in wood for his parsonage and the convent, and in grass for his horse. One young man is assigned to the constant duty of feeding, watering, and taking care of his horse. On festive days, they approach the church singing and dancing. The dancing is continued as long as the service lasts. When remonstrated with by the priest, they replied: "What kind of a religion would we have without dancing on festive occasions, when you prohibit us from dancing on days of fasting?" He has, however, succeeded by telling them it would be more pleasant to dance in the open air, in pursuading them to dance outside of the church door, instead of in the church. One day in each year is devoted to the adoration of the sun, a relic of Montezumaism, but an explanation of which they refuse to give. They have also a number of large subterranean rooms, in which they hold secret meetings, the object of, and proceedings in which, they keep to themselves with Masonic fidelity. In one of these rooms there is constantly a fire, which they propose to keep burning till the return of Montezuma. THEIR CONJUGAL RELATIONS. Among the Pueblo Indians the marital relation is held more sacred than it is among a majority of Mexicans - a large portion of whom live in a state of concubinage, and raise families illegitimately. Such a thing is unknown among the Pueblos. All marriage ceremonies are performed by the priest, and none are countenanced unless solemnized in accordance with the Catholic religion. Lewd women are discarded from the society of their more virtuous sisters, and compelled to live outside of the walls surrounding their village. Any man visiting them through impure motives, is fined, and for repeated offences whipped. The Pueblos were among the most stubborn resistants of the United States Government during the Mexican war - linking their destiny with the Mexican Government. At their village a severe battle was fought between the command of Gen. (then Captain) Sterling Price and a Pueblo and Mexican force. The walls of the old church, where the Mexicans and their allies were fortified, are still standing, and the spot in front of them where Capt. Burguin fell, is marked by a little earthen mound. The bullet holes made by Capt. Price's six pound guns, are still plainly visible in the walls of the church.
Colorado Weekly Chieftain 3-1-1877 Taos, New Mexico On the 6th of this month, ( 6 Feb 1877) Jesus Santistevan brutally murdered his wife. He had been living separated from her and wanted to be divorced so he could marry another woman. His wife had borne him eight children. On the day of the murder he skulked into the house and hid in some part of it and waited until a convenient opportunity occurred for him to perpetrate his foul purpose. He shot her then kicked her in a most brutal manner. She lived for three days after the assault. He escaped and is still at large. It is said that the sheriff went down to his mother's house, where he then was, to arrest him. He was shown the room in which he was but the sister of the murdered, seeing the sheriff, shut the door in his face, and he thereupon returned without his man.
The New York Times, December 10, 1880 - The suit of Frederick Miller against the Allied Insurance Company, of Boston, has been on trial in the United States Circuit court, before Judge Wallace, since Nov. 2, and was closed yesterday. The plaintiff, who was represented by Mr. N.B. Hoxie as counsel, is a resident of Fernando de Taos, New Mexico, and sued to recover the amount of insurance by the company on a mill which he owned at that place, and which was destroyed by fire. The jury rendered a verdict for the full amount claimed, with interest. George W. Parsons appeared as defendants' counsel.
The New York Times, March 17, 1884 - MONUMENT FOR KIT CARSON'S GRAVE.
The Grand Army posts and citizens of New-Mexico have begun a movement for the erection of a fitting monument over the grave of Kit Carson, at Taos. It is expected that all of the Grand Army posts west of the Missouri will take part in the project. Col. W.S. Fletcher, of Carlton Post, Santa Fe, who was appointed a committee on behalf of that post, said the other day that upon his first visit to Taos he was surprised to find that Carson's grave was in such a neglected condition. For this his friends and relatives are perhaps not to be blamed, as on repeated visits it has been suggested by prominent officials that Congress could readily be induced to make the necessary appropriation to erect a monument. This, however, has not been done. Kit Carson died at Fort Lyon, Col., in the Spring of 1868, and in accordance with his dying request his remains were removed to the cemetery in Taos, and were interred in a lot in the American cemetery selected by himself. Carson's grave is surrounded by a picket fence 5 feet by 9 feet, and has over it a wooden semblance of a monument without a visible word or letter upon it. This woodwork is rapidly rotting away and will soon entirely disappear.
The New York Times, May 4, 1888 A FAMOUS OLD SCOUT; THE MAN KILLED BY KIT CARSON'S SON. FORT GARLAND, Col., May 3.--Thomas J. Tobin, who was killed yesterday by Billy Carson, son of the famous Kit Carson, was at one time as well known on the border as Kit. He was a Government scout, renowned for his bravery, but his most famous deed was the capture of the Espinosas brothers, notorious Mexican bandits, who were a terror in New Mexico. The Government and Territory both offered large rewards, and one day, after two of Tobin's had been killed, he started out after the Mexicans. He went alone, and after two months' absence he arrived at Taos, New Mexico, with a gunny sack, out of which he rolled the heads of the two bandits. His story was that he overtook the brothers when alone in camp in a wooded country and shot one of them from ambush. A desperate fight ensued with the remaining brother, which resulted in the death of the bandit. Tobin then cut off the heads with his hunting knife, and put them into the gunny sacks and carried the bloody trophies to Taos, Owing to some trouble Tobin never got the reward. When Kit Carson died, Billy, his son, married Tobin's daughter, and in later years the olds scout has done little but eke out a lazy existence on his ranch. Young Carson, his son-in-law, kept a store in Fort Garland, and Tobin frequently visited the place. Yesterday they engaged in a quarrel, when the old scout under the influence of liquor announced his determination to kill Carson. The son-in-law, knowing that the old man has lost none of his remarkable ability in the use of his rifle, did not give him much latitude, and shot him down.
Oct 25, 1889 Boston Evening Transcript – A Singular Duel – Albuquerque, N.M. – The particulars of a very singular duel recently fought in Taos County have just come to light. An Indian settler named Wankinshee and Juan Verega, a wealthy Mexican cattleman, repaired to a spot about six miles from the town of Taos, just at the break of day, to settle an old grudge. The weapons were butcher knives, and by the method of fighting agreed upon each man was to submit his hand to his opponent and have one finger cut off, the cutting to be done alternately, and the man who first evinced any sign of pain to be stabbed to the heart. The Indian, by toss, secured the first cut, and deliberately taking the hand of his enemy, with a quick stroke severed his forefinger. The Mexican never uttered a sound. The Indian reached out his hand and off came the thumb. This continued in silence the cattle man had lost four fingers and the Indian four. When the Indian reached for his foe's left hand, the latter's second, becoming frightened at the fearful flow of blood, sent a bullet through the Indian's heart. It is thought the cattle man will die.
The New York Times, August 1, 1891 - A CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK.; GERONIMO'S SON PROMISES TO BECOME AS BAD AS HIS FATHER.
El Monitor, a Spanish daily newspaper of Taos, New-Mexico, gives a description of Dudoso, the young son of the famous Apache outlaw, Geronimo. This phenomenally wicked youngster lives with some cowboys at Duncan, Arizona. He was captured when he was nine months old in the Dudoso canon, and war dubbed with its name. Dudoso is described as follows: The boy, who is now six years of age, is as bright as a dollar, and very ugly. When he gets angry he is the most vicious and evil-minded boy on earth. He has a very peculiar physiognomy. His head is the size of a man's, and his ears are of enormous proportion, while his body and limbs are small, but with muscles like steel. When he was only four years old the daughter of the man who adopted him angered him by calling him names. With this provocation the precocious little savage seized a knife and gashed her so severely that she was for some time at the point of death. Dudoso was pitilessly flogged for this deed, and he suffered the punishment without a whimper. About six months later he procured some powder and blew up a stable containing a number of valuable horses. After the explosion he was caught laughing at the tortures of the mangled animals. He chews tobacco, smokes cigarettes, and swears. He is the terror of the children of his own age, and it will be a wonder if he is not a murderer before he is twelve years old. He is the idol of the cowboys, who are educating him in every kind of depravity. They take him to the saloons on Sunday, give him whiskey until he is fighting drunk, and then provoke him. His Indian instincts become clearly defined at such times, and he fights in true Apache style. He pretends to laugh with his tormentors, and apparently forgets the injury which they have done him. But when they are off their guard he will seize a glass or anything which is within reach and hurl it with all his strength at the offender.
1899 The New Mexican Dec. 5, 1899: An old burro with his four legs pointing skyward has been lying on Don Gaspar Avenue near the Capitol grounds for some time. The carcass should be removed.
1899 The New Mexican Dec. 5, 1899: "Jeff," the fine watchdog belonging to J.V. Conway of the Bon Ton restaurant, was poisoned night before last and died this morning.
1899 The New Mexican Dec. 5, 1899: In addition to the two sheep herders from Taos frozen to death in the recent blizzard in Colfax County, three herders were killed in a snowslide on the Sierra Grande.
1900 January 1, 1900: Frank Becker, the jovial Santa Cruz merchant, is in the capital on a business visit.
Carrizozo Outlook December 22 1904 Martinez Death
A Santa Fe dispatch of December 7th says: Owing to the isolated location of Llano, Taos county, news just reached this city this evening telling of the gruesome murder of Jose Martinez, aged 74 years. He was found dead in his doorway, four miles from Picuris pueblo. His son, Gabino Martinez arrived today to lay the facts before District Attorney E. C. Abbott. The head of the murdered man was terribly mangled. An eye was torn out of its socket, there was an ugly cleft in his forehead and his skull was crushed. Three stones covered with blood were found near the body. No arrest has been made.
Carrizozo Outlook June 8 1905 Liebert Death
A Santa Fe dispatch of May 24th says: Word was received today that Aloys Liebert, one of the best known Americans in Northern New Mexico, died at noon at Taos, where he was engaged in business. A widow and several children survive him.
Carrizozo Outlook June 8 1905 Sanchez Death
A Santa Fe dispatch of May 23rd says: Word was received today that Pedro Sanchez known as the Friend of the Poor and a prominent character in New Mexico for fifty years had died at the age of 74 at Taos. A native of Valencia county, but when 7 years old removed to Taos. In 1861 he raised a company of volunteers that served under General Camby and was known as the Antelope Hunters. The company distinguished itself at Valverda for which Sanchez was breveted a major for gallant and meritorious service. He served as speaker of the legislature and as president of the legislative council, having served 6 legislative terms. For three terms he was probate judge of Taos county, was supervisor of the census for New Mexico in 1890 and in 1900 and 1893 was agent for the Jicarilla and Pueblo indians, besides serving in other financial positions. Sanchez gained the title "Friend of the Poor" by raising 25 orphan children and endowing them with land and stock. Major Sanchez was an eloquent speaker in Spanish. He was married twice.
Carrizozo Outlook October 12 1905 Former Deputy Sheriff's Murder Trial
The trial at Sante Fe of John Conley, a former deputy sheriff and police officer at Denver for the killing of James P. Redding and Charles Purdy near Questa in Taos county last January ended September 28th in the finding of a verdict of murder in the first degree. John H. Young gave the most damaging testimony. He and Conley made a trip to Taos several months before the killing. During the trip, Conley carried a revolver despite the remonstrances of Young. Conley said he needed the weapon and said that if young Redding ever stuck his nose into his business, he would blow the top of his head off, Young said. "you ought to be ashamed to lay hands on a boy who is so slight that you could knock him over with your hand and he would never cry" Conley answered: "I will give the ----no more a chance that a snake". J. M. Phipps, deputy at Red River, testified that Conley, upon returning to Red River after the killing, had sent Phillps for a bottle of whiskey. Upon his return with the whiskey, Phipps told Conley, that two Mexicans had just arrived from Questa. Thereupon Conley exhibited signs of nervousness. Phillps then asked him: Did you kill Purdy? Conley replied "Some Mexicans killed Purdy and fired five or six shots after me". Later, however, Conley acknowledged three times to Phipps that he had killed Redding and Purdy. "I'm up against it and I will make the best of it" he said. Henry J. Cook a merchant at Cerro and Questa testied that Conley is a drinking man and that the evening before the murder, had imbibed freely in whiskey. In the afternoon Conley, Charles Purdy, one of the victims and Young had been together in the store at Questa. Purdy reiterated again and again that he was out of money. Shortly after noon Conley returned to Young's store and bought a box of cartridges saying that he had two or three deer down the canyon. Conley seemed serious and excited but was sober. Young testified that Charles Purdy was apparently seventy years old, short, stockily built and weighed about 175 pounds. He also said that he had never seen James Redding drunk.
John Conley, the defendant was put on the stand occupying it all day. He testified that he was a resident of Denver from 1882 to 1897 in which year he went to Red River, Taos county. In Colorado he followed the occupation of prospector, miner and politician. He was elected constable in Denver and served two years. For seven months he did special duty on the Denver police force and for several years was deputy sheriff. He was active in Republican politics.
Conley rose in the chair and with animated gestures related the incident of the quarrel which led Redding and Purdy to attack him with axes.
Redding was only a few feet away, when Conley fired, killing him. The third shot was fired at Purdy who was further away. This shot shattered Purdy's cheekbone and carried away part of his ear. Conley then shouted to Purdy to drop the axe, but Purdy made for the tent. Conley gave him the idea of giving him assistance, but as he drew aside the flaps of the tent, he saw Purdy standing with uplifted axe. It was too late to draw back, and Conley could only save himself by shooting Purdy in the throat and killing him. The jury evidently disbelieved Conley's statement for they unanimously agreed upon a verdict of murder in the first degree, the penalty for which is hanging.
Carrizozo Outlook October 12 1905 Conley To Hang
At Santa Fe on the second, John Conley, formerly of Denver was sentenced to hang at Taos on October 27th. Judge John R McFle, who overruled the motion for a new trial pronounced sentence. Conley's attorneys immediately gave notice of an appeal. This will act as stay of execution of sentence.
Carrizozo Outlook November 30 1905 Vargas Killed
Antonio Maria Vargas, the soothsayer, medicine man and historian of the ancient Pueblo Picuris, Taos County, forty miles north of Santa Fe was accidently killed at a fiesta to celebrate the bountiful crops this year. In accordance with the ancient custom, there was a liberal use of firearms and a stray bullet from the gun of Antonio Martines, a sheep herder who recently graduatged from the Carlisle Indian school, struck Vargas in the thigh, severing an artery, death resulted in a few minutes.
The entire village immediately went into mourning, the bucks and squaws loosing their hair and continuing their lamentations day and night.
Albuquerque Morning Journal July 16 1910 Runaway Team
Friday evening last F.C. Barker's team ran away and a miraculous escape from severe injury or even death resulted. Mr. and Mrs. Barker and Junior were in the vehicle, when below Las Cordovas the team became frightened and started to run. They had gone but a short distance when Mr. Barker was thrown out by a sudden swerve of the wagon and the team sped frantically on with Mrs. Barker and Junior clinging to the seat. At the second turn in the road both were pitched out, Mrs. Barker being thrown close to a barbed wire fence, her ankles striking the wire and resulting in very painful lacerations, but not serious injury. Junior, as is the habit of boys lit in comparative safety and suffered no damages.
Albuquerque Morning Journal August 11 1910 Young Man Dragged At End Of Rope By Horse
Catching his foot in a slip noose of a rope which was also tied about the neck of a horse, Forest Remsburg , a young man living in the Moreno valley in Taos county was dragged for a considerable distance before the eyes of some twenty guests who were unable to help him. The party was on a camping trip and it was while trying to harness the horse, Remsburg became entangled in the rope. A member of the party ran for a rifle intending to kill the horse, but for some reason the animal stopped before it was shot and Remsburg was released. Despite his severe experience he was not seriously injured and suffered only bad bruises. He almost collapsed after the experience was over however.
Albuquerque Morning Journal August 12 1910 George Custer Committed Suicide
That General Custer, the hero of Custer's massacre, believed to have been scalped and killed by the Sioux on the battlefield, was not murdered by the Indians, but died as the result of a gunshot wound fired by his own hand is the startling addition offered to history by Robert Jackson of Costilla, Taos county NM. Jackson for nine and a half years was a scout and guide for the U.S soldiers, his service beginning in 1874 and ending in 1883. Jackson served under General Otis, General Reno, Colonel Bentine, General Miles, General Custer and General Hazen. At the time of the battle in which General Custer met his death, Jackson was serving on the sixth US Infantry, carrying dispatches to General Otis, then in command of the 22nd infantry. Jackson was with the first company to reach the battlefield after the massacre and gives in detail the scene as it presented itself to him. Jackson says that an examination of Custer's body showed that the wound which caused his death was fired at close range, the powder burns indicating plainly that the pistol was held against the head. Jackson was commanded by General Reno to talk with the Indians after they had been subdued by the US troops in the hopes of finding out how Custer was killed. The Indians told Jackson that General Custer was the last man to fall in battle. They wanted to take him alive, believing that with him as a prisoner they could force the government to terms. Realizing this fact, Jackson says the Indians told him that Custer placed a gun to his head and fired. According to Jackson, the Indians all loved Custer and called him The Long Haired Chief. Jackson is a picturesque character and although he was in long and dangerous service is not receving a pension from the government because he was not a regularly enlisted soldier. Friends in Taos county are interesting themselves in his behalf and hope to receive aid for him from the government to compensate him for valuable services rendered. Jackson acted as scout for General Otis when he went to the relief of General Miles then being on a detail along the Yellowstone river. Jackson also scouted for General Miles when he was running down Lame Deer and his band. Jackson shot and killed Lame Deer, scalped him and afterwards gave it to General Miles. After the Indians had been driven into Canada, Jackson acted as a guide when General Miles burned a large territory along the northern boundary of the US and drove south the buffalo so that the Indians were forced to surrender the following winter.
Albuquerque Morning Journal August 23 1910 Juan Aguilar Drowned
Juan Jesus Aguilar, aged eighteen was drowned in the Rio Grande today. Aguilar lived in Cosilla but was engaged with a companion named Barela in herding sheep near the base of Ute mountain. He and Barela went to the river to bathe. The water is very low but there are a number of deep holes, into one of which Aguilar accidently stepped. He at once went in over his head and when he failed to reappear his frightened companion ran for help. A party from Costilla twelve miles away, at once started for the river and recovered the body.
Albuquerque Morning Journal September 8 1910 Old Scout Dies
The recently published article in the Morning Journal about Robert Jackson of Costilla, this county, in which a brief sketch of the life of the old Indian scout was first made public, had serious and unexpected consequences. After reading the article several times the old man took the paper and carried it from house to house showing it to his friends with the greatest satisfaction. The old man took to drinking and after a long spree died Saturday afternoon from the effects. Just before his death, Jackson stated that the article was correct excepting that he did not give the scalp of the Indian chief to General Nelson A. Miles but to another officer.
Jackson's mother was a half-breed Navajo Indian. For some years he traveled with a bunch of Indians selling patent medicines and for several years had been practicing medicine in Taos county. He had no license and was accordingly very careful in his practice, refusing to take cases of a serious nature unless he was under the influence of liquor. He was twice married, his first wife, being an Indian and his two children live as wards of the government in Oklahoma. With his death the west loses one of its most picturesque and interesting characters of the old days. There was a movement on foot to have the government give him a pension for he had done valuable services as a scout and the part taken in the government service by Jackson at the time of Custer's death was of more than ordinary merit.
Albuquerque Morning Journal September 24 1910 Feared Woman Has Been Slain By Bear
That Mrs. Rael, mother of four brothers who are well known ranchers in this county, has been killed by some of the bears which are unusually numerous here this year is the fear of the sons of the missing woman who have in vain searched the whole district for a trace of the woman.
The Rael brothers have ranches on a level plateau in the mountains east of here. Thse young men have business interests in Questa and divide their time between that town and the ranches. On account of the heay rainfall they cut large crops of hay and thus kept their large herds of cattle through the winteer as the ranches are snowbound for several months.
The mother, who is a widow, has been in the habit of staying on one of the four ranches. Monday of this week accompanied by a dog, she went out into the National forest which surrounds this isolated place to drive in some stray cattle. For two days and nights her sons have been hunting her all over the country but not the slightest trace of her has been found, inspite of the fact that the sons have been aided in the search by a party of friends from Questa.
Albuquerque Morning Journal September 27 1910 Lost Woman Found
Mrs. Rael, mother of four well known ranchmen in this county who disappeared from one of the ranches of her sons a few days ago and of whom no trace could be found by a large searching party, has turned up at Pino, twenty four mile north of her home after losing herself in the mountains and wandering aimlessly seeking food and shelter. The woman who is suffering greatly from the exposure of two nights and two days wandering in the hills will recover although in an exhausted condition. She lost her way while seeking some stray cattle and losing her sense of direction, wandered north instead of south. Her son, Solomon Rael offered a reward fo $200 to anyone who would find her. It was feared she had been attacked and killed by one of the bears which are unusually numerous in this section this summer.
Capitan Mountaineer August 9 1916 Kit Carson Home To Be Restored
A press dispatch from Taos, the old town where Kit Carson lived and died, says that the old Pioneer's home is to be restored. The matter has been taken in charge by the Masonic order of Taos and the contract let for building and restoring, as near as possible, the home to its earliest appearance. That it is the intention of local ladies to make the house a rest room and museum. This more is a credit to the people of Taos who have inaugarated it; it honors New Mexico and keeps fresh in memory the name of its greatest citizen. It will be a spot where tourists in all future time coming into the state will make pilgrimages. There is no greater pioneer character in American history than Kit Carson and New Mexico in particular should perpetuate his name and deeds in every way possible.
The Huntsville Daily Times, March 18 1930, Extortion and Intimidation - Manby, Now Dead Is Accused of Being Head Of Sub Rosa Society - Taos, N. M., March 18 (AP) – The mysterious cloud surrounding the strange life and death of Arthur R. Manby was partly lifted today following the charge that Manby was a leader in the Sub Rosa “United State secret service society,” an alleged scheme for extortion and intimidation. Manby’s decapitated body was found in his home here last July 3. After a jury decided that the man died from natural causes and that his police dog, found in the room, had chewed the head from the body, a further investigation by state and federal officers was started. The society has been revealed as nothing more than a confidence game. Dissolution of the United States secret civil service society mystery is believed to explain also the fabulous sums which were alleged in Manby’s private papers to have been due Terecita Ferguson, known as “Princess,” including one of $827,000,000. Manby spent nearly a half century dickering for old Spanish land grants. One was a claim for Terecita of a $40,000,000 land grant in Southeastern Missouri. Terecita, together with her common law husband, Carmel Duran and her nephew, George Ferguson, have been charged with a series of robberies in Taos, among which was the looting and burning of the studio home of Mr. and Mrs. John Younghunter, of New York. Valuable household articles identified by the Younghunters as their property were found buried in the back yard of Terecita’s residence near Taos.
1949 Dec. 5, 1949: Plans for the erection of 52 new houses in Santa Fe were announced today by Santa Fe Housing Co., an associate of New Mexico Housing Co.
1949 Dec. 5, 1949:The Santa Fe Community Hospital, Inc., unanimously approved the tentative proposals recently made to expand hospital facilities when the regular meeting was held Friday night.
1950 January 1, 1950: Census Supervisor Pedro Sanchez is still confined to his bed at Taos from injuries received in the railroad wreck on the Chama river. He is, however, reported to be slightly improved.
1950 January 1, 1950: Ignacio Trujillo, a well known and respected citizen of this city, died suddenly yesterday afternoon in his little store on College Street.
1950 January 1, 1950: Manuel Armijo of Santa Fe, state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and an officer of the state department of public welfare, resigned both positions Friday in favor of taking the job in the Philippines with Georgia Lusk's federal War Claims Commission. Another Santa Fean named for a job in the War Claims work is Paul Roessler, a Bataan veteran who recently won a master's degree at Georgetown University. Georgia Lusk, member of the commission, said he had been assigned to field work in the northeastern United States.
2000 February 10: DURAN, Margarito & Margarita "Maggie" - Still sweethearts Every day is
Valentine's Day for Durans
By Cara Lopez Lee, The Taos News, February 10, 2000
The introductions can be confusing, when you meet Maggie and her husband,
Maggie. After 62 years together, people still call them Los Dos Maggies, The
Two Maggies. "And we have never been separated. We've
always been together," said Margarita Duran. Even though
she's been at the Taos Living Center since her stroke three years ago, her
husband visits her every day. "When she don't see me, she starts giving
them hell. When is he coming, what is he doing?" said Margarito Duran. A
pair of flowers sit next to his wife's bedside, pink Annabels, a gift from
him. In the summertime he brings her flowers that he grows himself in their
garden at home in Talpa. The flowers sit next to the Valentine card she made
for him. Even though she doesn't quite remember decorating the glittery
purple heart or writing the words, "I love you, dear," she still remembers
how handsome her Valentine was when she first met him. They were both born
in Talpa. He said she was about 12 and he was about 14 when they met. "I
used to give her a ride on the little palomino horse," he said. Shortly
after that, the teen-age boy went traveling around the states. It was the
Depression, and he followed the jobs to Wyoming, Minnesota, New York,
Maryland, Philadelphia, Illinois and Colorado. He walked and
hitchhiked from New York to Baltimore. He picked tomatoes, picked peaches,
thinned beets, broke horses. He did the bronco breaking at a ranch in
Aurora, Colo., where he made 75 cents a day. "I gathered enough money to
marry her," he said. Then he went home. He hadn't seen Maggie for about
three years. "When I came back she was still waiting for me," Margarito
Duran said. They went to a dance, and that was that. "At that time you
couldn't even take a look at a girl, because then you have to marry them,"
Duran said. He looked. They were married. The groom was 19, the bride 17.
Maggie married Maggie in 1937 at San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos.
Another couple was married at the same church on the same day, Tino and
Tina. "They used to kid us," Margarito Duran said in Spanish. "A Tino
married a Tina, and a Margarito married a Margara." He said his wife was
always happy and willing to go with him anywhere. They were stationed in
California when he was in the Navy during World War II. Back then, he loved
taking her to the fun house at the carnival in Oakland. "There was a fat
lady who would come in. And they'd turn the wind on and put the dress up
over her head. She used to like to watch it." Duran said his wife laughed a
lot. The only Valentine's Day he could remember was the one when he didn't
make it home on time. He was a day late coming back to their home in
southern Colorado because he was hauling a heavy load of molasses and got
stuck in a snowstorm. It was a rare time apart. But she wasn't angry. "They
were worried about me," he said. The couple has five children, three sons
and two daughters. How many grandchildren? Oh ... I've got a bunch of
them," Duran said, waving his hand as if there were just too many to keep
track of. He said he's not sure what it takes to make a marriage last.
"You can marry someone and you wouldn't last a day, or you can marry
someone and it can last a lifetime. I don't know how I did it with Maggie.
She gets pretty cranky," Duran laughed. Kidding aside, for a couple like
the Durans, it seems that every day is Valentine's Day. Duran put it this
way: "A special day ... has been for 62 years, every day." Contributed by Patricia Keenan.
2000 February 10: THE FECHIN FAMILY; Life centered around Russian-born artist whose multiple
talents earned acclaim; By Virginia L. Clark, For The Taos News
When 12-year-old Eya Fechin saw Taos for the first time, she felt more at
home in those few weeks than she had in four years on the East Coast. That
was in the summer of 1926, when she accompanied her famous father, the
Russian-born artist Nicolai Fechin, and her mother, Alexandra, to Taos to
visit English artist Jack Young-Hunter and his wife, Eve.
Now in her 87th year and still living in the Fechin Institute studio her
father built, Eya said her life in Taos centered around her father.
"My experience of Taos entirely had to do with my father. (He) was a famous
painter, much more famous than any of the other painters. (And he had) a
Russian education, which is very different from American academics, which
were pretty good at the time."
In October 1982, Eya published "Fechin: The Builder," a brief but thorough
catalogue and history of Fechin's multifaceted career as an artist. In that
book, she explains that to earn the title of "artist" from the Art Academy
in Leningrad, the candidate first had to take an architect's diploma, and to
be as fully intimate with body structure as a human anatomist.
"The same thoroughness applied to the study of theater design and
chemistry," Eya wrote, that the Russians consider architecture and theater
to contain all the other arts. Such exhaustive study partially explains
Fechin's reputation as a Renaissance Man, a master of many disciplines.
"Home" for the Fechins had originally been Kazan, Russia, where Fechin was a
widely renowned national treasure. Born in Kazan in 1881, Fechin died in
Santa Monica, Calif., in 1955, at the age of 74. During the 1970s, Eya
returned to Russia a number of times and even now she said, "I can go and
say (I'm Fechin's daughter) in Russia and have no restrictions. Everything
of the best is given to me because of my father's name. Once you're a
treasure in the arts, that's the way you're treated."
Eya's insistence on focusing on her father, at the expense of her own
impressions as a teenager in Taos, was, thankfully, obviated 20 years ago
when she published a partial memoir titled, "Teenage Memories of Taos," in
the "American West" journal (Nov.-Dec. 1984).
The first Native American Eya ever saw was Tony Luhan, husband of Mabel
Dodge Luhan. She described him visiting a party in New York City as,
"dressed in a black topcoat with velvet lapels, his long hair neatly bound
with ribbon (Taos style) hanging down from under a black hat and,
incredibly, spats on his shoes. He changed clothes," Eya continued, "and
there he was, beating on a drum, a striped blanket around him, moccasins on
his feet, singing Taos Indian songs. He was so still and silent ... He was
like a piece of a mountain come to life. I was smitten."
The Fechins were given one of Mabel Luhan's guest houses for the summer and
proceeded to fall in love with the countryside that reminded them so much of
their motherland and the rare collection of people who called Taos home.
Travel from Lamy (just outside of Santa Fe) to Embudo Station via a "tiny
narrow-gauge train" is still clear in Eya's mind. "At Embudo, they had
limousines," she said, "with well-dressed chauffeurs, and they knew their
history. They would drive you around where there were accessible roads."
In her teenage memoirs she writes about Long John Dunn of the Dunn House
fame. " ... a big, black Ford with the outstanding Western character, John
Dunn, at the wheel. Long John was, to me, immensely tall and skinny. He
talked caustically through his nose, and you were more concerned with John's
good opinion of you rather than the fright of the drive up the canyon."
Long John Dunn and young Doc Martin figured largely in the town, she said,
"after an adventurous period in a gold-mining village, Elizabethtown near
Red River, where Dunn ran a saloon and did very well with gambling. A young
Eastern physician, Doc Martin, was there patching up bulletholes. When the
gold gave out in Elizabethtown, they gravitated here, that was the next
Molybdenum mining was the other industry of note in Taos at that time, Eya
"There were only two moly mines in existence in all of the United States.
They needed that stuff for hardening steel. But then it kind of fell out of
favor. [The market] didn't want it. But Molycorp kept the library alive in
town by donating money. Otherwise they were going to have to close it."
Long John and Doc Martin used to sit outside Martin's place. Eya remembers
that Martin's primary medical "advice was always a slug of whiskey. And they
had what they called Taos Lightning. It was a knock-out home whiskey."
In her memoir, she recalls that Dunn set up his now-legendary livery
business in which he carried passengers into Taos "from 1902 to 1928 and
U.S. mail from 1906 to 1938 ... He was in control of all gambling in
northern New Mexico, and no one in his care was ever robbed, killed or
She said that those first few weeks she spent in the summer of 1926 passed
all too quickly for her. And while she was used to her father's celebrity,
it seemed everything was more intensified in Taos' mountain setting "where
the air was so clear that everyone's foibles or beauty, cruel gossip and
back-biting, as well as radiant originality, stood out vividly."
In regard to the tone of 1920s Taos, she said, "There were the Hispanics,
staying in their own culture -- the Indians, distinctly in their own
community -- and the Anglo-American rugged individuals, the original
hippies, who lived as they chose and dressed to suit their style, but never
in groups, with no community feeling."
While not reclusive, Taos artists in the 1920s were not very social, Eya
"The artists worked hard in those days and mostly kept to themselves. They
did not try to "sell themselves,' and were too busy to socialize much. They
did not paint to impress art dealers or only for big money. They loved their
work, and art was for art's sake."
Wit, however, was never in short supply, it seemed.
"At the weekly silent movies, the main part of the show was Walter Ufer and
"Blumy" (Ernest Blumenshein) sitting at opposite sides of the theater,
entertaining us with a vivacious commentary throughout the movie. Leon
Gaspard was a lovable storyteller who never expected his stories to be
believed, only enjoyed."
The life of an artist was not completely all work and no play. She wrote
that her Taos group used Don Fernando Hotel almost as a club. "It had a
restaurant and a curio shop and a spacious lobby where many artists hung
their paintings. Since very few people had bathrooms, we would rent a room
for a few hours and take baths."
Eya remembers the famous Arthur Manby as mysterious.
"Manby on a black horse with a long rifle by the saddle, a huge police dog
following ... was an Englishman who settled in Taos, had a big house and
considerable land near our place, and gained fame by being murdered."
A hint of her father's artistic irascibility peaks through in a small entry
by noted Southwestern author Frank Waters, in his memoir, "Of Time and
Change." Waters reports a scene where Fechin's wife, Alexandra, interrupts
the great artist with the news that someone is shooting at the studio.
Fechin replies, "Get out of here! Can't you see I'm working and can't be
bothered? Go to the sheriff or somebody else!"
In 1933 Fechin and Eya left Taos to accommodate her mother's request for a
divorce. Eya wrote that Alexandra wanted to write, and also that her mother
was interested in a relationship with writer Spud Johnson. Apparently, that
relationship never did blossom as Alexandra had hoped. A couple years later,
her father returned to Taos briefly and wrote to his daughter about the
current state of Taos society and the spruce trees he had carried from the
mountains and planted around the Fechin House. He wrote, "The trees provided
me with great joy -- they have grown so much during two years. Only they, it
seems, remembered me and tried to grow for my sake ... After having been
away from here, the whole Taos 'aristocracy' seems fiercely egotistical.
All, like small children, indulge themselves ad nauseum."
Eya bore one child, Nikki Branham Donner, who married Mark Donner. They have
two children -- 13-year-old Kayla and 10-year-old Rachel. The Donners now
live at the Donner Ranch, where they hold Fechin Institute art workshops.
The ranch is located in San Cristobal, 18 miles north of Taos.
In her article, Eya wrote she could reminisce endlessly about her teen years
in Taos and the variety of people who affected her. Hopefully, she will and,
hopefully, someone will be there to record her stories. Contributed by Patricia Keenan.
GONZALES, Carmen Cisneros Family, love of history served 92-year-old El
By Kathy Cordova, For The Taos News
EL PRADO -- The eight-room house of Carmen Cisneros Gonzales is filled with
photos of her family -- school photos, family groups, weddings, First Holy
Communions, graduations and other occasions.
A complete "photo wall" occupies a sitting room. An area in her living room
includes several photo albums, complete with newspaper clippings of
grandchildren in basketball games, obituary announcements, student news and
other notes of family history. The albums serve to chronicle several
generations of the Cisneros and Gonzales families.
At times, youngsters glance through the books and learn something about the
family that they did not know. Carmen has painstakingly labeled the areas
around the photos with dates, places, names and other pertinent facts.
Matriarch Carmen Gonzales was born March 22, 1909, to the late Melissia
Garcia Cisneros and the late Nerio Cisneros. Ironically, her current home
also served as her birthplace 92 years ago. Her late husband's grandfather,
then owner of the property, rented the home to the Cisneros family. The
grandfather later left the home to his grandson and wife as an inheritance.
Childhood included life with siblings Cristobal Cisneros, Emma Jeantete and
Julia Romero. A tragedy that changed their lives struck when the children
were young. Mother Melissia became paralyzed and died. Other siblings passed
away as children during times of high-infant mortality -- Don (8 years),
Eutilia (12 years) and Eloy (16 years). Dad Nerio worked as a sheepherder in
the camps in Wyoming, so his lifestyle wasn't conducive to remaining in Taos
with his children, or for them to travel with him.
"In those days, if a death like that occurred, relatives stepped in and
helped to raise the children," Carmen said, speaking in her native Spanish
Melissia's sister, Genoveva Garcia, helped to raise the children and the
youngsters received periodic visits from their father.
Carmen refers to her late aunt as her mother, or "Mi Veva." The extended
family included the two Garcia sons (Carmen calls them her brothers) and the
remaining Cisneros children. Since she was older, Carmen helped take care of
the younger children.
The Garcia family spent extended periods of time tending sheep on their
Tienditas property. The family also farmed -- mainly corn and beans. Carmen
beams as she recalls the naming of the Tienditas property.
"Garcia Park was named after my grandfather, Preciliano Garcia. He and four
or five uncles (his brothers) owned it. Eventually, the children and
grandchildren inherited portions and some of the family sold theirs."
Carmen shared her portion of the property with her children.
From grades one through seven, Carmen attended "sister school" (Catholic
"We helped the Sisters clean and they gave us credit for our tuition," she
recalled. Two instructors, Sister Ursulita and Sister Angelica, stand out in
Then, for two years, Carmen attended the public schools. She considers
herself a fortunate student, for many females of the day did not receive the
opportunity to attend school as far as the ninth grade. For the years
following formal schooling, she busied herself helping the family.
At age 20, Carmen married Nazario (Nick) following a prearranged agreement
between both families.
"That's the way things were done in those days," explained son Lee Gonzales.
The marriage took place May 5, 1930, at the home parish of Our Lady of
Guadalupe. Shortly after the marriage, her younger sister, Julia, came to
live with the couple. Carmen's recollection of what followed makes her grin.
"My husband was a very strict man with my little sister. When Julian
(Julia's eventual husband) came to call on Julia, Nick expected him to come
in and ask permission. 'I don't want him out there honking for you,' he'd
say to Julia."
The 52-year marriage of Carmen and Nick produced 11 children, plus 10
spouses, 34 grandchildren with 21 spouses, four great-grandchildren with
three spouses, and three great-great grandchildren. The extended Gonzales
family consists of 125 members and crosses five generations.
The Gonzales children are: Eloy (Juanita) Gonzales; Teddie (Alfonso)
Martinez; Alice (Arturo) Romero; Juan I., deceased, (Beatriz) Gonzales;
Ernesto (Edna) Gonzales; Dolores (Joseph) Rael; Simon (Rosalie) Gonzales;
Patsy Gonzales; Telesfor (Carmen) Gonzales; Lee (Adelita) Gonzales; and
Joann (Leroy) Trujillo.
Being the mother of such a large family meant that Carmen spent her time
cooking, doing laundry and cleaning the small El Prado home of her birth.
She also assisted her husband with his fledgling business, hauling coal in a
large dump truck from Walsenburg, Colo., to Taos. Then, he sold the
fuel-producing material to his neighbors.
In 1955, Nick founded Nick Gonzales and Sons Sand and Gravel Products. By
1959, he added ready-mix concrete to the list of products and formed a
partnership with his son, Juan I. Gonzales. From 1961 until the '70s, the
partners used the name Gonzales Sand and Gravel. When the senior Gonzales
decided to retire, Juan took over the business. Beatriz, Juan Gonzales'
widow, eventually sold the business in later years.
Another enterprise, the Casa Loma Night Club, opened in 1964. Carmen became
even more active in the business. She collected cover charges at the door
and supervised the cleaning activities. The younger children helped pick up
glasses and bottles left at the tables. Members of the community rented the
facility for weddings, showers and benefits.
The proprietors sponsored dances. Grandson Dale Romero and his band members,
Nick Branchal, Sammy Montoya, Carlos Romero and Jerry Mondragon, enjoyed a
frequent guest spot on the stage. A private party after New Year's Eve
remained a favorite. Aunts, uncles, neighbors, compadres, other family
members and employees and their families received the special invitations
for the event. For about 10 years the routine continued until the license
reverted to son Telesfor as El Prado Liquors.
Father-in-law Francisco ("Chicho") lived with the family. He and all the
others loved to eat Carmen's beans, chili with meat, bread and oatmeal
cookies. The former justice of the peace solved disputes and performed
marriage ceremonies. He also loaned money to area residents.
Grandpa Gonzales wasn't the only politician in the family, however. His son,
Nick, loved to campaign with the likes of Manuel Lujan Jr. The family
recalls when the patriarch ran for county commissioner. Weekends included
driving around the county in a vehicle equipped with a musical recording
announcing Nick's candidacy.
In September 1982, tragedy struck. Carmen's husband of 52 years passed away.
The widow continued to devote herself to her family. Activities include
gardening in the summer and knitting and crocheting in the winter. She also
began to travel more.
A 1972 trip to Mexico City -- Leon (Guanajuato) and Tehuacan (Puebla) --
whetted her appetite to see more of the world. She visited Our Lady of
Guadalupe Basilica, the pyramids and the anthropology museum.
A 1985 20-day trip to Disney World and the East Coast never tired her.
Highlights include stops in Nashville, Loretta Lynn's mansion, the White
House, the Capitol and various Washington memorials. The Arlington National
Cemetery, Vietnam Memorial and the special Challenger exhibit at the
Smithsonian piqued her interest. When a granddaughter, Cathy, lived in
Austin, Texas, Carmen visited and enjoyed the LBJ Library. Several gambling
trips to Las Vegas, Nev., provided entertainment for the matriarch and her
Another bit of entertainment included watching soap operas. Gonzales lists
"The Young and the Restless" as her favorite soap opera in English. When
daughter Teddie Martinez worked for R.C. Gorman, Gonzales benefited in a fun
way. She attended parties at the Gorman home and met two of her favorite
soap-opera stars -- Jeanne Cooper (Kay Chancellor) and Terry Lester (Jack
Abbott). Her memoirs include an autographed photo of Cooper, which bears the
inscription, "Dearest Carmen -- May God sleep on your pillow always -- Mrs.
Chancellor." Another favorite memory includes a photo of Carmen with Lester.
Before her death (Sept. 13), Carmen seldom left home. Her caretaker tended
to her needs as she struggled with minor eye and ear problems. A walker
helped her move easier. However, a sharp, alert mind enabled her to recall
tidbits of family history and enjoy Spanish telenovelas (soap operas or,
loosely translated, novels for television) and religious programming.
She received the Holy Family in her home and reads prayer books and stories
about the saints.
In the past, Carmen helped to raise several other children besides her own.
These children and many others fill her days with joy and are among the
frequent visitors to her home.
On March 22 of this year, Rev. George Salazar presented the anciana with a
special blessing for her 92nd birthday. The special gesture offered the best
wishes to one of the most elderly residents of El Prado. It also included a
wish that Carmen's work ethic and love of family and history transcend to
the younger people with whom she came in contact.
JENKINS, Nancy Jenkins; We trusted her with our most precious gift, our
children, and she met to challenge; By Jerry A. Padilla, The Taos News
It has been said that dynamite comes in small packages. That adage is often
used to describe a person who is short in physical stature, but really
outstanding, or big, when it comes to making a difference.
Ask many of her students and former students and you'll quickly understand
why they think Nancy Jenkins "is the greatest!"
You're likely to hear such responses as: "She's my favorite." "Her classes
are cool." "She doesn't cut us any slack, but she brings out the best on
stage." "She's strict, but fair." "You can talk about anything with her,"
and the often-heard, "She's like my second mom."
The Taos High English and drama teacher has certainly made a difference for
countless Taoseño teens. Her name is synonymous with Taos theater.
Born in Long Beach, Calif., Nancy grew up in Los Angeles. The daughter of
the late Edna and Tommy Mason, she attended Burbank High. She has one
brother, Jamie Mason, a juvenile probation officer in Riverside, Calif.
"I went to Cal State-Northridge, the one that was so damaged in the
earthquake," Nancy explained. "It's still being rebuilt, and, you know, my
transcripts are still buried under the rubble."
On her first visit to Taos, Nancy admits she and her husband had come for
just a day but never really left again. She had a friend in a commune in
Guadalupita whom they dropped off. The Jenkinses wanted to come to see Taos.
Checking into the Taos Inn as newlyweds, and spending a little time at La
Cocina in the plaza, was all it took.
"We spent three weeks here and knew we couldn't leave. We were taken by the
land, the people, the history and got to know Dave Nesbitt, Levi Gonzales,
Spencer Sanders, Ralph Suazo, Jeri and Bernadette Track, and R. C. Gorman,
They returned to Los Angeles, quit their jobs, and moved to Taos the summer
Speaking with Nancy, it is obvious why she is so beloved by her students.
Her dignified, yet relaxed, manner puts one at ease; her presence is
captivating as one hangs on to her every word. A teacher 33 years, with
plans to continue, Nancy and her husband, Ken, who is also a retired English
teacher, started their careers in Los Angeles.
"Ken and I got married in 1968, and I still adore him," Nancy confided.
"We've been married as long as I've been teaching -- 33 years. It was always
my dream to be an English teacher, and by the way, it's Ken who was the
drama person. I learned it all from him."
Nancy explained that Ken had worked extensively in theater and acting for 19
years in California, and that she didn't actually do any theater with
students until 1972.
"He was my mentor, and it was both of us when we first started teaching
drama in Taos," she said. "The first production we worked on with students
was 'Our Town,' at the Taos Community Auditorium. We had 150 students try
out. We didn't have any sets, but between students, parents and volunteers,
we did it all. Nat Simmons had done a play here with someone else, and the
interest started. The students asked Ken if we could do a play, and we
thought it was worth a try."
Some of the students who were in that first school production were Carmen
Ledoux, Yost Burlingame and Kathleen Gutierrez.
The next year, the Jenkinses started a drama class. "Off and on, since 1972,
Ken would help direct after school, and I'd work with students in class.
Judy Fritz did the class for two to three years. After 10 years," Nancy
said, "I continued on my own."
Much of the credit of her success goes to Ken.
"When I first started, Ken would come and watch, and if I needed help, he'd
show me what I needed to do. If something needed attention, he'd would fix
it. He'd did this until he felt I knew what I was doing," she said.
Very proud of her students, Nancy is quick to acknowledge many who took
drama, or English, with her and continued in the performing arts. Her face
glowed as she ticked off the names of those she knows are still involved in
theater -- Katalina Fernandez, who does flamenco in Spain and the U.S.; Maya
Chaffe, also flamenco in New York; Noel Kalom, theater in New York; Louise
Mingenbach, a costume designer in Hollywood who worked recently on "X Men"
and "Usual Suspects"; Dominica Cameron Scorsese, who does film; Garland
Cunningham, a stage manager in Las Vegas, Nev.; Collette Chiodo, who is
doing film in Los Angeles; Marcos Martinez, who is very involved with stage,
was with La Compañía in Albuquerque and is head of the drama department at
U.C.-San Marcos; Timmy Trujillo, acting in Austin, Texas; Sandra Bouche, got
her master's at Temple University and is at UNM; Estelle Miffrin; Steve
Espinosa, who worked at Universal Studios as a film tech; Augusta Allen
Jones, who was doing Broadway; and Adrian Des Georges, who recently
graduated from a very prestigious performing arts program in Los Angeles.
"I'm so proud of my kids," Nancy said animatedly. "Dillon Kennon has worked
in Los Angeles and at the Edinburgh Theater Festival. Lisa De Caro went into
film in Los Angeles and now teaches lawyers how to be dramatic in court in
Colorado. Megan Davis works in Louisville, at one of the most prestigious
theaters, and in Singapore. Holly Davis works at the Mayo Clinic and is
learning to be a surgeon in dance medicine. Gabrielle Schreiber Stokes has
done well. And Robert Mirabal was in my English class."
Taking a book from a shelf, Nancy started telling about one of her drama
students, Goldberry Long, wrote "Juniper Tree Burning," an acclaimed novel.
"These kids have gone on to do amazing things,. Oh, there's Amritta Bessin
in New York acting and dancing; Lynn Del Margo is our new librarian at Taos
High School, and do you remember Tammy and Bethany Del Margo? They're
What were her inspirations growing up in Los Angeles? Nancy said her
teachers and college professors inspired her the most.
"I think about them every day, and all they taught me, when I pass on the
knowledge to someone who becomes a teacher," she said.
Her father, a pilot, was also a significant inspiration.
"My father gave me books. He gave me 'Don Quixote,' and I think that book
was his favorite. Writers were my heroes when I was a little kid ...
Cervantes, Hemingway, poets. I read a lot of poetry. My dad made me learn
Spanish. He knew; he was a pilot and had traveled extensively and taught me
that it was a very functional language. And it's true, if you know both
Spanish and English, you can go anywhere in the world and find someone who
will understand you."
One of the saddest things in Taos she's seen come about is that many
residents no longer seem to think being able to speak Spanish is important.
The loss of bilingual skills and certain survival skills among area youth
trouble her. She worries that the number of teens now who can still make
adobes, skin and dress a deer, grow things in a garden, or find and identify
herbal remedies, edible plants, and fruits is dwindling.
As for why she became a teacher, Nancy said: "As a teacher, it is a
rewarding experience reading a former student's book; it's so beautiful and
serious. Part of it is being in a small town, to watch young people grow up,
fall in love, raise their children, and then, get to teach their children
too. It's been the greatest to teach two generations of Taos children. It
has been my greatest gift, other than Ken, to be a part of this community,
watching kids grow, be their teacher and then teach their kids.
"The community is so welcoming, so open and has shared its kids with me,"
Nancy continued. "I got to play here and educate the community's children. I
can't imagine anything more precious but to have a community trust you with
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