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before the trail entered the Jornada. Records of both these incidents may be found
in Coleccion de documentos ineditos. . de Indias, xvi, 247-8.


informed me that this was the first sermon ever preached in
Dona Ana. I trust it will not be the last.

A Good Land to Be Possessed

Half past 1 P. M., left D. A. The valley for ten miles is
broad and fertile. Wood, water and grass abundant. Drove
fifteen miles and encamped on a beautiful bottom where we
found a new unoccupied house, of which we took peaceable
possession for the night. Much timber here.

Tuesday 25th, started at 7 o'clock. Passed hundreds
and hundreds of acres of choice land which might be culti-
vated but for the Apache Indians who roam over this reg-
ion. 27 At half past 10, passed the famous battle ground
where Col. t)oniphan had a skirmish with some Mexican
lancers. 28 No land under cultivation for forty miles. Passed
Fronteras, or White's Rancho, 9 miles from El Paso. Here
the valley terminates. The road follows a serpentine course
over and among the hills for seven miles. The river is com-
pressed into a narrow passage between high bluffs; and
thus the river literally passes through the mountains hence
the name El Paso or The Pass. Just after emerging from
the hills, passed an American-fashioned stone house the
first I have seen in this country. Near by, Mr. Hart is erect-
ing a stone flouring and saw mill. 29 There is probably no
mill for sawing lumber between this place and Santa Fe, a
distance of nearly 300 miles.


New Mexico Stretching Forth the Hand to God

From Mrs. Alzina A. J. Read, Santa Fe, March 28th [1851]

We feel, dear brother, that we cannot give up this coun-
try, and we feel an increasing confidence that God's own
hand has pointed us, as a denomination, to this portion of
his vineyard, in a manner too signal to be disregarded. And
that this is so, we think none can doubt who remember the
past history of the country ;- the little interest that was felt
for it among Christians of all denominations, who were
sending missionaries to all other parts of the inhabited

27. This is an impression of the famous Mesilla Valley as it was in 1851.

28. The battle of Brazito occurred on Christmas Day, 1846.

29. These were the residence and mill of Judge Simeon Hart, but what Mr. Head
means by "American-fashioned" is not clear. Davis called it "a large Spanish-built
house." (037. cit., 376).


world, and yet not one among them all for benighted New
Mexico. Simultaneously with California it became a part
of our beloved United States, and while the attention of
many was directed towards California, and ministers of
all denominations were inquiring their duty relative to
that field, who, ! who thus felt for New Mexico Whose
heart, fired with love to God and immortal souls, exclaimed,
"Here am I, send me" to preach the unsearchable riches of
Christ to the 100,000 benighted, superstitious, and worse
than Pagans, in that wretched land? And even we who are
here, our friends know, would perchance never have turned
our attention hither, but for the strange and unexpected
providences which diverted us from our anticipated field,
and here detained us in a manner which seemed to say,
"Thus far and no further shalt thou go." And yet our rebel-
lious hearts felt almost to say, "Not so, Lord." California
was our destined home, and there we desired to labor. We
have sometimes felt that for this our trials here were all
deserved : and if so we bless our Father for them, for those
very trials have endeared the country to us, and we rejoice
that though all unworthy, we have been permitted, as we
humbly trust, to do some little for the cause of the Savior
here. We feel ourselves identified with the interests of the
country, but we desire assistance, and need some pious, de-
voted brethren and sisters to come to pur aid. The people
know nothing of the denominational difference existing in
the States, but I am told they have learned that there is a
difference between the three ministers here, 30 and they think
Mr. Read is the most correct because he is a Baptist sup-
posing him to be more particularly a follower of John the
Baptist; and they seem to expect that all other clergymen
and teachers will be the same.

When we first commenced labor here we were told by
Col. Washington, and many others who were, from long resi-
dence in the country able to judge of our prospects of suc-
cess with this people, that our work must be emphatically
"a work of faith," that we must not expect to see immediate
results if ever, but must be content to labor to prepare the
way for others. But after our school had been only nine
months in operation, some of these same people visited it
with Col. Washington, when they remarked that when we

30. The two ministers besides her husband to whom Mrs. Read thus alludes were

the Rev. E. G. Nicholson, Methodist, who came in 1850 and (probably) the Rev.

William G. Kephardt who was commissioned as a Presbyterian missionary for New
Mexico that same year but just when he arrived seems not to be known.


commenced, they did not think that "three years of unre-
mitting toil" would have effected what they there saw, and
yet what they then witnessed was very little compared to
what is now apparent. I mention this to show you that we
are not entirely without hope of accomplishing something
even here. The people are said to be a jealous people; I do
not know but they are, they assuredly have had enough to
make them jealous of Americans, but their confidence once
obtained, they are trusting to a fault; and a wise, judicious
teacher will soon acquire an almost unlimited influence over
them, so that they will readily, nay eagerly, listen to his
instruction and preaching. Now wherever Mr. Read preach-
es they flock to hear him in crowds, and priests often at-
tend also when they expect to be able to understand. At first
they were suspicious of our tracts and books, but now they
seek for them often with great anxiety, and many, very many
are almost daily importuning us to send to you for Bibles.
I say you, because they understand there is such a society
laboring for their benefit. Since my husband has been ab-
sent, or for the last five or six weeks, we have received more
calls by such than during our entire residence in the coun-
try. Saturday is the day for those who live at great distances
to come to town, to remain during the Sabbath and our fine
spring weather permits many to come, and they sometimes
fill my house, asking for Bibles, books and tracts, and de-
siring to converse about our religion; and although many
doubtless are influenced by curiosity, some recently have
evinced a deep interest. Last Saturday morning they com-
menced very early to call, and before 10 a. m. I distributed
more than three dozen Spanish tracts, many of them for the
most distant parts of New Mexico. Seated on the floor, a
motley group, covered by their variegated "serapes," their
heads shaded by their broad brimmed "sombreros," some of
them neat and clean, but many of them filthy in the extreme,
jabbering their barbarous Spanish (their language is so
corrupted as to be hardly understood by good Castilian
scholars.) I could but feel, while looking at them, that they
were as verily heathen as earth contains. And yet they all
have immortal souls, and I doubt not that some of the price-
less jewels that cluster around the Savior's glory, will be
called from among this now degraded people. how this
thought encourages me to lose sight of, or look beyond, their
present wretchedness, and keeping the vision of faith fixed
only on their future redemption and glory, labor only to


promote them. Some came to see if our Bibles, which we told
them some time ago, we hoped to obtain, had arrived, and
when I told them no, they wished me to read some for them
which they could remember, and tell their friends at home.
Yesterday one of the most influential men of the coun-
try, formerly a governor of this place, and long an officer
of rank in the Mexican army, came with another of the same
class 31 to obtain books, and sitting down, he read a tract
aloud, often exclaiming good. He wished to engage five
Bibles to send into the lower country. We are greatly embar-
rassed for want of Bibles. When people come a great dis-
tance for them, we are pained to be obliged to refuse them,
especially at the thought that they will perhaps never come
again, or be willing to receive them. It is so short time since
they have been willing to take them, that we would like to
supply every one "Not knowing which will prosper, this or
that," but praying and hoping that God will bless some. We
do hope that some Bibles will be sent us at the earliest pos-
sible date.


October, 1851

Rev. Mr. Read's Third Tour, No. 3
El Passo

One mile and a half brought us to El Passo. This is a
military post commanded by Major Van Home. 32

Wednesday, 26th. All this day occupied in making ob-
servations and inquiries relative to the establishment of an
Academy and Boarding School at this place. El Passo, on
the American side of the river is called Franklin. Formerly
it was only a single rancho which is now occupied by the
troops. Two or three other small buildings have since been
erected, so that it is but a very small place. But the proprie-
tor informed me that he is now making arrangements to
build extensively this season. 33 He is to lay out a regular

31. Perhaps some reader can suggest the identity of these two gentlemen.

32. Jefferson Van Home was captain, 3rd U. S. Infantry, but brevetted "Major"
for service in the Mexican War. He died Sept. 28, 1857.

33. According to Owen White (Out of the Desert: The Historical Romance of
El Paso, 43), Franklin Coontz was appointed postmaster in 1852 for the stage-station
which had been located at his ranch. He was given the privilege of naming the office
and he modestly gave it his own name "Franklin." But here is evidence that the name
was in use a year earlier, and "the proprietor" was planning to lay out a regular
town !

Mr. Read's account needs some clarifying. Emerging from the gorge, he found


town and offer good inducements for settlers to locate there.
It will doubtless be a place of much importance ere long. By
the recent adjustment of the boundary between Texas and
New Mexico, this place is in Texas. It is a military post, and
probably will long remain so. There are two companies sta-
tioned here. Mrs. Lieut. Wilkins is the only American lady
here. 34 The climate is delightful. Fruit, such as grapes,
pears, peaches, quinces, apples, appricots, and some figs are
abundant. In company with Dr. Stone, visited El Passo, on
the Mexican side of the river. This is a beautiful place. The
town extends several miles, and appears like one continuous,
highly cultivated garden. This is the port of entry from New
Mexico and northern Texas. I called on the priest Ramond
Ortiz, who figured largely during Doniphan's campaign in
this country. 35 He is, as he has been represented an intelli-
gent, shrewd man, and exerts a greater influence than any
other man in the State of Chihuahua. In the afternoon re-
crossed the river and in company with Major Van Home,
called on Mr. McGoffin, to whom I had a letter of introduction,

34. John Darragh Wilkins was 2nd lieut., 3rd U. S. Infantry, brevetted "1st
Lieut." for gallant service in Mexico.

35. Padre Ram6n Ortiz and Manuel Armendariz were the two commissioners
sent by the Mexican government in 1849, after the loss of New Mexico to the United
States, to encourage and aid Mexican citizens to migrate to Old Mexico. Bancroft,
op. cit., 472-3.

himself at Hart's mill. About a mile from there (and where the Mills Building stands
today) was Coontz' Rancho ; and a long half-mile farther was Magoffinville (though
Read does not use this name), the residence and buildings of James W. Magoffin.
Then another mile east (down the valley) was a large ranch belonging to Hugh

In 1848, a detachment of the 1st U. S. Dragoons under Maj. Benjamin Beall
arrived at the Coontz ranch and camped there for some months. Maj. D. B. Sanger
(The Story of Fort Bliss, 8) states that after the War Department created (Sept.
14, 1848) the military post of "El Paso," four companies and regimental headquarters
of the 3rd U. S. Infantry arrived under Maj. Van Home and got temporary quarters
at Magomnville. But J. R. Bartlett, in his Personal Narrative of Explorations, 1850-S,
says that the military post was at the Coontz ranch for about three years under Maj.
Van Home; and in his account the Rev. Mr. Read seems to corroborate this as of
March 1851.

Perhaps Mr. Read thought that the name "Franklin" included both the Magoffin
and the Coontz places, but Owen White (op. cit., 42) remarks: "A man undertaking
to make the trip from Coontz' Rancho to Magoffinville did so at the imminent risk
of losing his scalp in the middle of what is now San Antonio street."

We might add that the name "Franklin" continued in use until 1859 and
survives even today in "Franklin Mountain." The more appropriate "El Paso" gradu-
ally (from 1858) supplanted "Franklin" and in 1873 became the corporate name.


also on Mr. Stevenson. 36 These men are perhaps 50 years of
age, have lived in this country about 25 years, have large
families and are wealthy. They will do much towards aid-
ing our plans.

San Elesario

Thursday, 27th Today went to San Elesario, in Texas,
a distance of 25 miles. This is the most southern station of
the 9th military department. It is commanded by Capt.
Johns. 37 It is situated on an island, about 40 lineal [miles]
long, and averaging 5 or 6 wide. 38 Went down on the Mexi-
can side some 12 miles. Nearly all the way the land is high-
ly cultivated, and produces abundantly. After crossing the
river to the island, found the soil about the same as in Mex-
ico. Passed through the towns of Isleta and Socorro. The
first contains about 200 inhabitants, the other twice as
many. At Socorro, 4 men were recently convicted of murder
and hung all on one tree.

The town of Presidio de San Elesario (Fort of St. Elia-
sor) contains some 500 souls. It is a beautiful place. This
too, appears like a large garden. The same fruits are found
here as at El Passo. Property here is very cheap.

The Banner of the Cross Unfurled
Lord's Day, March 30th Having returned to El Passo

36. Hugh Stephenson was of German descent and his wife was Mexican. He
had been in the country so long that the natives did not regard him as an "American."
His name and that of a son Horace were associated for many years with an old Span-
ish mine in the Organ Mts. east of Las Cruces, best known in mining history as the
"Stephenson," or (after the Civil War) as the "Stephenson-Bennett."

We are told (Maude McFie, op. cit.) that Stephenson acquired a two-thirds in-
terest in the Bracito Grant, he taking the part lying to the north. It would be inter-
esting to know what it cost him, for in 1851 he leased a square mile of it to the
federal government for twenty years for the astonishing sum of $200,000.00! (ibid.)
This was for the establishing of Fort Fillmore, mentioned in a previous note.

After the Civil War, the federal authorities tried, through the New Mexico courts,
to confiscate the properties of a number of ex-Confederates. Suit was instituted in
1865 against Stephenson for his Bracito property and mines in the Organ Mts. But,
like Simeon Hart, he was a resident of El Paso and such confiscations were later
(1868) reversed by the U. S. Supreme Court, (v. Tittmann, in 2V. M. Hist. Rev., IV.

37. William Brooke Johns, capt. 3rd U. S. Infantry, distinguished himself in the
Mexican War. His name was dropped at the outbreak of the Civil War.

38. The missing word seems to be "miles." Old San Elceario (modern Elizario)
was located on the south side of the river, but through the centuries and even dec-
ades the changing stream-bed has changed the local geography for many a town.

J. R. Bartlett gave the length of the island as twenty miles ; and said that on it
also were the towns of Isleta and Socorro.


a day or two since, Major Van Home made arrangements
for public service on the military plaza, (there being no
house large enough,) and I gladly embraced the opportunity
of unfurling the banner of the cross for the first time in this
place. The assembly was large, and consisted of all the offi-
cers, soldiers, (two companies,) American and Mexican
citizens from both sides of the river. It was an interesting,
and I trust a profitable season.

The Homeward Journey

The object of my visit to this part of the country is now
accomplished, and I feel anxious to return to my home as
soon as practicable, to relieve my faithful and feeble wife
of the onerous duties which devolve upon her in my absence.

Wednesday, April 2nd Left El Paso 31st, at 9 A. M.,
and reached Dona Ana at 3 P. M., which place we again left
at 9 A. M. Went to the river, 8 miles, and halted for the day
previous to entering upon the Jornada. At 4 P. M., again
entered the desert, passed the point of rocks in safety,
though long after dark. Traveled until 1 o'clock, and en-
camped, having made about 50 miles.

Thursday, 3d Started at 7. Saw a large flock of ante-
lopes, and during the day, saw several droves, but all very
wild. Reached Fra Cristobal at 4 P. M., and encamped. Thus
have we twice passed the Jornada in safety.

Saturday, 5th Arrived at Socorro at 11, A. M.

Labors of Another Sabbath

Lord's Day, 6th Had an opportunity to preach to a
large audience. Many Mexicans present. All paid good at-

Monday, 7th Left Socorro at half -past 10 A. M. Trav-
eled about 25 miles and encamped in a grove opposite La
Jolla. This is considered one of the most dangerous places on
the road.

Wednesday,^ 9th Reached Albuquerque at noon
Leaving my traveling companions here, at half -past six, in
the evening, I resumed my journey alone. Rode to Algodonis,
25 miles, and after an hour's search, found some corn for
my horse, a piece of bread for myself, and staid until day-

Thursday, Wth Today I ascended an almost impas-


sable mountain, even for goats, 39 and finally, after a ride of
40 miles reached home at 5 P. M. grateful, I trust, to find my
dear wife in usual health. I have been absent 38 days, trav-
eled 960 miles, and I trust have laid the foundation for much
good to the people of New Mexico.


November, 1851

Rev. H. W. Read

A letter has reached us from Rev. H. W. Read, our
missionary to New Mexico, dated Council Grove, I. T., Oct.
19th. He is returning with Mrs. Read, the state of whose
health requires a few months residence in some Eastern
State. She suffered much during the journey from Santa
Fe, and Mr. Read also was quite ill for several days. It was
Mr. Read's intention, at the time of writing, to spend a day
or two at the Shawnee Mission station, then proceed directly
to St. Louis and from thence, as soon as consistent, to this
city. He will, probably, remain in New York a few weeks, and
spend the winter in visiting the churches in the Atlantic

On the 14th October, Mr. Read had the happiness of
meeting our missionaries, Rev. J. M. Shaw, 40 and wife, near
Fort Mackey, on the Arkansas river, traveling in company
with an ox train. They had been a month on the road, and
expected it would require about another month to reach
Santa Fe. They were in good health. A young lady, who
left the State of New York, to accompany them as a teacher,
was compelled on account of sickness, to abandon the
journey, and intended to remain during the winter, at the
Shawnee Mission Station.

39. He was heading back to Santa Fe by the most direct route. Evidently there
was an old trail up that stiff climb where, years later, a roadway was dug out
known to history as Old La Bajada.

40. Probably the Rev. Mr. Shaw went directly to Socorro, although Davis did
not mention him there in 1855. He was living in Socorro in 1873, and stated that
at the outbreak of the Civil War all Baptist missionaries had been withdrawn from
New Mexico. Also in 1880 he sold to the Presbyterians in Socorro the church edifice
which was built on his land. Possibly he was the "John M. Shaw" who served as an
Indian agent at the Southern Apache Agency in 1874-76.


December, 1851
Rev. H. W. Read

We are much gratified in being able to announce the
arrival in the city, of Rev. H. W. Read, our missionary to
New Mexico. He is accompanied by Mrs. Read, whose health
we are happy to say, is much improved by the journey.
They will remain a few weeks in this city, and then extend
their visits as far as possible among the churches of the
Eastern States, till Spring, when, after a tour at the West,
they will probably return to their field, accompanied, we
hope, by several missionaries and teachers.

Mrs. Read has consented to address assemblies of
ladies, when consistent with her health, on the moral and
social character and condition of the females of New Mexico.
From the statements already communicated by Mr. and
Mrs. Read, we presume that a visit from them will be
appreciated by the churches generally.

Efficient operations in favor of that interesting field
are demanded of us immediately. As a denomination, we
are solemnly responsible for the moral and religious char-
acter that may be given to the New Mexicans. Such a
character they will doubtless speedily receive from ^some
source, and in the exercise of which, as our fellow citizens,
(for such now they are,) there are interests at stake which
should excite our utmost Christian charity and zeal, and
prompt us to exertions that may, with God's blessing, prove
a real blessing to them and to our country.


January, 1852
Mr. and Mrs. Read's Visit

Everybody knows that we have expressed deep interest
in the moral and religious interests of New Mexico ever
since it became territory of the United States. We saw it
lying in wickedness, and gross darkness covering the people.
We saw them groping, stumbling, falling, dying amidst that
darkness, and longed for their deliverance. We caught the
glimmer of the single ray of light shot by Divine providence
among them from the Sun of righteousness, and we allowed


ourselves to hope. As other rays have fallen we have thanked
God and taken courage. The visit of Brother and Sister
Read has strengthened us, and diffused hope and courage
in reference to that people among our churches in this city.
The statements made by Bro. Read to the churches, and
those of Sister Read to the females who have thronged to
hear her, concerning the social, moral and religious con-
dition of our fellow-citizens of New Mexico, have awakened
an interest for them which we think must be productive
of their future benefit.

We are glad of the coming of these friends among us,
and are glad that they will have an opportunity to extend
their visit to other cities. We need not bespeak the attention
of churches on whom they may call; that will naturally
follow where they speak. But as it will be impossible for
them to visit all, we shall sincerely congratulate all who may
enjoy an opportunity to listen to them.

Rev. H. W. Read, returned missionary from New
Mexico, will proceed in a few days to Philadelphia, for the
purpose of addressing the churches of that city, upon the
subject of missions in his adopted Territory. He will be
accompanied by his wife, who will also address assemblies
of ladies, on the same subject, undoubtedly, much to their
edification and profit.

Rev. J. S. Ladd, our Collecting Agent, will also accom-
pany them, and remain a few weeks, for the purpose of
making the annual collections, for our Society, usual in
that city, at this time of the year.



THE TERRITORY of New Mexico was formed under an act
of congress passed September 9th, 1850, and included
in its boundaries part of the lands transferred by Mexico
to the United States after the Mexican War and part of
the territory ceded by Texas in 1850. Its northern boundary
was described as running west from the 103rd degree of

Online LibraryUniversity of New MexicoNew Mexico historical review (Volume 17) → online text (page 14 of 33)