University of New Mexico.

New Mexico historical review (Volume 17) online

. (page 12 of 33)
Online LibraryUniversity of New MexicoNew Mexico historical review (Volume 17) → online text (page 12 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to them, as individuals or a Christian denomination, are
their silver and gold, compared with the benefits to them-
selves, to their country, and to the souls of men, which the
religious instruction by a few ministers of the gospel would
be able to impart, by their liberal contributions, for the field
which is now open and inviting their labors of love ; and then
let them quickly encourage the Board, to make all needful
preliminary arrangements for its immediate occupancy.


Americans Leaving New Mexico Indians Requesting


From Rev. H. W. Read, Santa Fe, April 1, 1850

A great number of our American citizens or sojourners
for the time, have left recently, and among them many who
usually attend public worship with us. After they left, there
were so few who attended evening meetings it was thought
best to discontinue them.

Full half of the officers formerly stationed here, with the
troops under their command, have been ordered elsewhere,
so that our congregation on the Sabbath will not average
more than 25 persons. There are now but six or eight


American families in this city, and some of these will leave
in a few days. Indeed, nearly all the Americans now here
intend to leave the country as soon as practicable.

I am anxious to visit other parts of this country, and
particularly some of the friendly tribes of Indians, to
ascertain their wishes relative to measures for their im-
provement and to satisfy myself as to the practicability of
establishing schools among them. A few days since I made
known my wish to the Governor, who readily consented to
give me "leave of absence" and offered to issue his order
for me to make a tour of observation. By this very satis-
factory arrangement, I shall be furnished with a military

I am particularly anxious to visit the Zunians, about
two hundred miles south-west of this. They all live in one
very compact town, numbering, according to various re-
ports, from three to five thousand. They are not a wander-
ing tribe, but stay mostly at home and cultivate their land
which is said to be very productive. Capt. Ker, the com-
mandant of a military post, some 125 miles below this,
visited them recently, and has since been here. He, as well
as others who have visited them, represent them to be a
very superior tribe, and their Governor is said to be a very
remarkable man. He informed Capt. Ker that he was very
anxious to have teachers come among his people, establish
schools for their children, instruct them in mechanic arts
and, in a word, to have them become Americanized. The
Mochins [Moquis] are a similar class of people, living about
100 miles beyond the Zunians, but of them little is known.
My intention is to look out those places where missionaries
are most needed, and where their location is most prac-
ticable. I cannot now tell when I shall start on this tour,
possibly not for two months, but it may be much sooner.


Educational Interests in Santa Fe. The Mexicans

Desire A "Collegio." Teachers Wanted. Females Can be

Very Useful

From Rev. H. W. Read, Santa Fe, Aug. 1, 1850

If you have received my last two letters, you have
observed that they did not speak very encouragingly rel-
ative to the prospects of missionary labor at present in


this country. But I have endeavored to keep you advised
of the state of things and prospects here, as they have ap-
peared to me. At present I feel somewhat encouraged,
principally on account of the greatly increased interest
among the people on the subject of education. I am strongly
solicited to establish an Academy or Boarding School, and
to advertise accordingly. It is believed that such an insti-
tution would be sustained, that it would secure the attend-
ance of those who, otherwise, will go to the States to obtain
an English education. And now I can assure you that many
of the better class of Mexicans and Spaniards exhibit a
commendable pride at the idea of having such a school (or
as they call it, Collegio) in their midst, and at the metropolis
of their country. Some of our American population are
urging me to adopt the measure, and I am not aware of
any who oppose it. I have conversed with but few, com-
paratively, on this subject, owing to the wonderful political
excitement amongst us; 3 but I am fully satisfied that such
a step is feasible and practicable, and ought to be taken at
once. I would not hesitate a moment longer to comply with
the wishes and solicitations of the people, were I situated
so that I could carry them out. In the first place, Mrs. Read's
health is too feeble to justify her in attempting to take even
the oversight of such a household, or to render me the
needed assistance in the school. Secondly, there are no
boarding houses here where students could be accom-
modated ; and if there were, such an arrangement would
not suit their parents, who wish their sons and daughters
to live with my family, justly expecting that in such a case,
they would sooner become acquainted with not only our
language, but our customs generally. Had I any reasonable
expectation of being reinforced during the present summer
and fall, I would not hesitate to commence the desired
Academy at once. I am not certain, however, but I shall

3. In the summer of 1850, Santa Fe was in the throes of an attempt to effect
statehood. It was a difficult time. The military commander, Col. John Munroe, had (as
requested) called a constitutional convention; but when the citizenry proceeded to or-
ganize and operate as a State, Munroe admonished them that they must wait for ap-
proval from Washington. This they refused to do. "Governor" Manuel Alvarez and
others challenged his authority in civil matters ; the congressmen-elect left for Wash-
ington ; the state legislature began its sittings. One of their enactments that summer
was the creating of Socorro County, yet the statehood effort as a whole was a failure.
Under the Compromise Bills worked out that fall in congress, New Mexico was made
a Territory and also her boundaries were fixed. The latter was effected by paying
Texas a good round sum for a quit-claim for her pseudo-title to all of New Mexico
which lay east of the Rio Grande.


go forward, and trust Providence to send others to our aid.
The aid most needed at present in the school is, a pious
well-educated young lady. Who will come? Is there not at
least one sister, who is willing to come even to Santa Fe to
labor in this missionary field ? I trust there are many. Who
will furnish the means? Who is the brother? Or which is
the Sunday-school or the Church who will be instrumental
in blessing benighted souls in New Mexico? The principal
work to be done now is to educate the young ; but with their
education, much moral and spiritual instruction may and
should be imparted. It is an encouraging fact that the
Mexican children are quick to learn. Indeed, they acquire
as readily as American children do, notwithstanding all the
disadvantages under which the former labor. I have at
present in my school, 12 Mexican scholars, varying from
4 to 16 years of age. Some of them commenced about ten
months since with the, alphabet at that time. They could
not speak a word in the English language. During this
period they have read and spelled Webster's spelling book
through twice, learned and recited the "Analysis of Sounds/'
"Directions for Pronouncing words," "Accent, Emphasis,
and Cadence," "The Abbreviations," "Punctuation," also
a good part of the "Multiplication Table," and they have
learned to count and to talk in our language. Some are
reading in History, and are writing beautifully, and will
commence the study of Geography soon. I repeat what I
have stated to you on former occasions, that schools ought
to be established throughout New Mexico, at once. Who
are the men and women, the philanthropists, the Christians
who will engage in this work?

A Successful School Among the Mexicans
August 31st

My school presents the most encouraging of all my
labors in this place. It now numbers twenty scholars,
mostly Mexicans, who are making remarkable progress in
their studies. Four of them have commenced Olney's
Geography; six are writing beautifully; and all are doing
well. As I mentioned to you in my last, I am solicited to
open a boarding school, or rather a boarding house, for the
accommodation of those abroad; but the feeble health of
Mrs. Read prevents it just yet.



General Remarks


New Mexico and Chihuahua, which I consider here
principally, because they fell under my immediate observa-
tion, are neither the richest, nor the poorest States of
Mexico; but both of them have resources that never have
been fully developed.

Agriculture, as we have seen, is the least promising
branch of industry. The want of more water-courses, and
the necessity of irrigation, are the principal causes; but
nevertheless, they raise every year more than sufficient for
their own consumption ; the failure of crops, with starvation
of the people, is less common here than in many other
countries, because the regular system of irrigation itself
prevents it. Besides, there are large tracts in the country
fit for agriculture, but allowing no isolated settlements on
account of the Indians. Another reason, too, why farming
settlements make slow progress, is, the large haciendas."
That independent class of small farmers who occupy the
greatest part of the land in the United States is here but
poorly represented and the large estates cultivate generally
less ground than many smaller but independent farmers.

As a grazing country, both States are unsurpassed by
any in the Union. Millions of stock can be raised every year
in the prairies of the high table-land and in the mountains.
Cattle, horses, mules, and sheep increase very fast; and if
more attention were paid to the improvement of the stock,
the wool of the sheep alone could be made the exchange
of the greatest part of the present importation. But to
accomplish that, the wild Indians, who chiefly in the last
ten years have crippled all industry in stock raising, have
first to be subdued.

Mining, another main resource of the country, needs to
some degree, also, protection from the Indians, because
valuable mines have sometimes been given up from their
incursions; and other districts, rich in minerals, cannot be
even explored, for the same reason.

The silver mines of the State of Chihuahua, though
worked for centuries, seem to be inexhaustible. The dis-
covery of new mines is but a common occurrence; and at-
tracted by them, the mining population moves generally
from one place to another without exhausting the old ones.


To make the mining more effectual, onerous duties and
partial restrictions ought to be abolished, and sufficient
capital to work them more thoroughly and extensively
would soon flow into the State. New Mexico seems to be as
rich in gold ore as Chihuahua is in silver; but yet, less
capital and greater insecurity have prevented their being
worked to a large extent.

To develop all those resources which nature has be-
stowed upon these two States, another condition of things
is wanted than at present prevails there : a just, stable and
strong government is, before all, needed, that can put down
the hostile Indians, give security of person and property
to all, allow free competition in all branches of industry,
and will not tax the people higher than the absolute wants
of the government require. Under such a government, the
population as well as the produce of the country, would
increase at a rapid rate; new outlets would be opened to
commerce, and the people would not only become richer
and more comfortable, but more enlightened, too, and more

Is there at present any prospect of such a favorable

The Mexicans, since their declaration of independence,
have been involved in an incessant series of local and gen-
eral revolutions throughout the country, which prove that
republican institutions have not taken root amongst them,
and that, although they have thrown off the foreign yoke,
they have not learned yet to govern themselves. It could
hardly be expected, too, that a people composed of two
different races, who have mixed but not assimilated them-
selves, should, after an oppression of three centuries, at
once be fit for a republic. Fanaticism alone may overthrow
an old government, but it wants cool and clear heads to
establish a new one adapted to the people, and a certain
intellect of the whole people to maintain permanently a
republic. But this wide-spread intellect does not exist yet
in the mass of the Mexican populace, or they would not have
been duped, as they have been for twenty years past, by
the long succession of egotistical leaders, whose only aim
and ambition was power and plunder; and during all these
disgraceful internal revolutions, neither the general nor
the local government has done anything to spread more
intellect among the great mass of the people; they had
neither time nor money for it, and it did partly not suit


their ambitious plans to govern a more enlightened people.

Where shall the enlightening of the masses and the
stability of government now come from? I cannot help
thinking that if Mexico, debilitated by the present war,
should afterwards be left to itself, the renewal of its in-
ternal strifes will hurry it to its entire dissolution; and
what the United States may refuse at present to take as
the spoils of the war, will be offered to them in later years
as a boon.

The fate of Mexico is sealed. Unable to govern itself,
it will be governed by some other power; and if it should
not fall into worse hands than those of the United States,
it may congratulate itself, because they would respect at
least its nationality, and guaranty to it what it never had
before, a republican government.

New Mexico

From Rev. H. W. Read, Santa Fe, Nov. 30, 1851 [1850] 4

The time has come now when I must be reinforced, or
our denominational interests 5 will be thrown into the back-
ground. My duties as chaplain are sufficient for one man,
yet all the missionary labor that has been done heretofore
in this country, has been required of me. As my acquaint-
ance extends, my labor constantly increases, and has become
so onerous that I am utterly unable to do all that is im-
peratively demanded at my hands. You are aware that the
Mexicans do not possess the Bible, and indeed very few of
them ever heard of such a book. But all Christians and all
enlightened people know that they ought to be made ac-
quainted with its contents. I have just commenced a system
of reading which I believe will, with the Divine blessing,

4. There are several indications in this short excerpt which show that it must
belong to the year 1850 instead of 1851. Perhaps there was an error in copying it for
publication in the Home Mission Record.

5. This denominational apprehension was doubtless occasioned by the arrival
earlier this year of a Methodist missionary, the Rev. E. G. Nicholson and his family.
Until he returned east sometime in 1852 because of his wife's health. Mr. Nicholson
seems to have found his congregation (as had Mr. Read) among the Anglos, civilian
and military. Later (Nov. 10, 1853) Mr. Nicholson returned to New Mexico with two
assistants who were to help in expanding the Methodist work to the Spanish-speaking
population. (Harwood, Thos., History of New Mexico Spanish and English Missions
of the M. E. Church, 1850-1910, pp. 17-49.)


result in good. My plan is this: I take my Spanish Bible
and go to a house, tell the family what a choice book I have,
and ask them if they would like to have me read a little of
it to them. Their consent being readily obtained I proceed
to read two or three chapters, and then go to another house,
and so on as long as time will permit. This is the only way
by which the great mass of this people can become ac-
quainted with the Scriptures, as it is now well known here,
that not more than one in two hundred can either write,
read, or tell their own age. To me this kind of labor seems
to be of the first importance, and there is enough of it to be
done in this city alone, to occupy all the time of half a dozen
devoted missionaries. Judge Houghton first suggested this
kind of labor to me, and strongly recommended it. I have
conversed with other intelligent gentlemen on the subject
and they also approve of it.


New Mexico

Earnest Desire of the People For the Scriptures.
From Rev. H. W. Read, Santa Fe, Feb. 14, 1851.

My last Spanish Testament is gone. Some months ago
I had given away all but two copies, (one for Mrs. Read
and one for my own reading,) but being urged to furnish
copy for a Mexican living 40 miles distant, I sent my copy
to him. A few days since an intelligent American physician
called to get a Testament for a poor Mexican living some 45
miles distant. The poor man sent me word that he had no
money to pay for one, but that he would come all the way
to Santa Fe to work for me. Who could resist such an
appeal? Mrs. Read sent her Testament (the last we had)
to him. The doctor assured me that so great was this man's
anxiety to read the Bible, that he had often traveled a con-
siderable distance to where there was a single though much
worn copy of the Testament, and would read it for many
hours together.

We are greatly encouraged by seeing an increasing
desire among the people for the Scriptures. Do not fail
to send me a liberal supply of the Scriptures in the Spanish
language by the first possible opportunity. Also a very
large quantity of tracts in Spanish, English, German, and
some in French. I should also be glad of other religious
books in Spanish.



May, 1851

Missionary Tour in New Mexico
Journal of Rev. H. W. Read, (continued from our last) 6

[Taos'], Wednesday, [January] 8th. This morning the
military officers and several other gentlemen called. During
the day I visited the priest 7 and several other prominent per-
sons, to all of whom I made known the object of my visit, and
all seemed highly gratified, and promised to aid in establish-
ing an Academy that will be both creditable and beneficial.

Thursday, 9th. Today rode through the valley south of
the town, and truly it is beautiful and productive beyond
any other part of New Mexico that I have yet seen. Called
on two Americans, who have lived in this country for many
years; they are wealthy, and will patronize the school lib-
erally. Visited a new flouring mill, also a saw mill, ob-
jects of great interest, and sources of great wealth in this

Friday, 10th. This morning, in company with Judge
Houghton, 8 Esq. Gary, and Dr. McGruder, started to visit
Arroyo Hondo, 12 miles north of Taos. On our way called
to see the celebrated Indian Pueblo of Taos. Rode up to the
house of the Governor, alighted, secured our horses, and
ascended a ladder to the second story, where we were
warmly greeted by his Excellency. He formerly belonged
to the tribe of Kiowas, and when a child was taken prisoner
by the Pueblos, with whom he has lived ever since. For
many years he was their chief, but since he has become old,
his people have very wisely changed his commission, and
made him their governor. He has a fine intelligent counten-
ance, and is popular with his people. By my request he took
us to visit one of the Estufas, of which there are seven in
the place. These are rooms under ground, used for Council

6. Evidently there was a first installment of this tour (from Santa Fe to Taos),
published in the April issue of the Home Mission Record, which we do not have. That
the tour was made in January 1851 we deduce from the dates here given and those
of the third tour.

7. The priest alluded to here and twice below was the Rev. Antonio Jose Mar-
tinez. He was at that time in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church, con-
tinuing to serve as curate at Taos until May 1856.

8. From 1846 to 1851 Joab Houghton was chief justice of the territorial supreme
court, and therefore judge of the First (or northern) District. After the Civil War,
he was to serve again but in the Third District (1865-69).


chambers. The entrance is by a small trap door a per-
pendicular ladder. The chamber is about seven feet deep,
circular, and some twenty feet in diameter. Here, for the
first time, I saw the fire of Montezuma, which, as tradition
says, he required his people to keep constantly burning until
he returns again. It is a slow, smouldering fire, covered
with ashes, kept in a small pit three feet square, curbed
with flat stones. I asked the Governor how long it had been
burning in this place; to which he replied, that he did not
know, but long, long before he was born. I observed a
quantity of pine wood, dry as tinder, which is kept on hand,
so that in case the fire should chance to get low it can be
readily revived. The greatest calamity that could befall the
Pueblo would be to have the sacred fire extinguished. The
men watch and tend it alternately, relieving each other daily.
I am informed that whenever this fire, at any Pueblo, by any
means becomes extinguished, the place is at once and for-
ever deserted. 9

This village contains four hundred or five hundred
souls, nearly all of whom live in two enormously large
houses. They are seven stories high, running back like
terraces. Some of these people, on a former occasion, 10
solicited me to establish a school among them. At this time
I said nothing to them on the subject, neither did I make
myself known to them. In the revolution of 1846, a severe
battle was fought here. The warriors collected in a large
adobe church, whence they could not be expelled, until our
troops succeeded in getting a shell among them, the effect
of which was as anticipated. One tower and one wall of
the church still remain as a memorial of the dreadful
massacre of the lamented Governor Bent, and fourteen of
his associates. These Indians cultivate considerable land,
and appear to be well supplied with the necessaries of life.
Proceeded to Arroyo Hondo, passing over some good un-
cultivated lands, and through a small new village, the name
of which I do not know. Arroyo Hondo, which signifies
Low River, is aptly named. It is a small rapid stream,

9. This old yarn of Montezuma's fire makes a pretty tale and it was faithfully
retold to every newcomer in New Mexico. Josiah Gregg wove it into his Commerce
of the Prairies (1844) and countless others have followed suit. It is safe to say that
the Pueblo Indian never heard of Montezuma except from the white man, and he is
perfectly willing that the latter believe the tale if said white man will leave Baid
Indian unmolested in his secret and sacred rites.

10. This is the only reference in these fragmentary records to what was perhaps
Mr. Read's first tour in New Mexico.


running through a narrow valley, several hundred feet
below the table land and other streams in the vicinity. Two
miles below the outlet of the stream from the mountains,
resides a Mr. Quinn, an intelligent and enterprising
American. Our destination was to this place. He has a
huge pile of Adobes, comprising an extensive distillery, a
flouring mill, blacksmith-shop, dwelling-houses, store,
&c. He thinks he can secure a dozen scholars for the
Academy, from his neighborhood. Returned to Taos in the

Saturday, llth. Today visited several families, all of
whom are anxious to have a school established here. The
priest, who by the way, is one of the most influential men
in New Mexico, called on me to enquire more particularly
about the school I propose to establish. He was very solici-
tous to know if it was the intention to teach the Protestant
religion in the school. I informed him that the object in
establishing an institution of learning here was to educate
the children and youth of both sexes; that the course of
instruction would be similar to that pursued in similar
institutions in the United States. He said he was satisfied,
and again promised to render me and the school all the
assistance in his power. He said he would invite me to
preach in his church, but their ecclesiastical regulations

Online LibraryUniversity of New MexicoNew Mexico historical review (Volume 17) → online text (page 12 of 33)