New Mexico. Bureau of Immigration.

Report of Dona Ana County online

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Col fax. County

THOMAS \I. MJCHA i-:i>. Sprir
Dona Ana County

A I.IU.IJT J . FOUNTAIN'. Mesilla.
<;ranf CJ on illy

Lincoln County

.1 AMES .). DoL.-iN. Lincoln .
]T[ora County

A.SiiEi/noN.Governor.ex-otnr-io. W[LLIAM KROENK,. Watrous.

Rio Arrilm County-

Santa Fe County

Sail ITIisruel County -

(;. W. PjUCHAJtT). l^as \'eiras.
Socorro County

MICH A LI. Fis( ULI:. Socorro.
Taos County

THEO. C. CAMI-. Fernandez de Taos
l\rr< < )'j'i-:no. 1'eraliu.


W. (',. HITCH. President.
AL\i;i A:C<> S. OTEHO, Yice J'resident.
L. SriEOELi'.EiK,. Treasurer.
JOHN 11. THOMSON. Se<M - etai> .


Santa Fe. N. M.

MARIAN< S. OTKIIO. Bernalillo.
WM. (J. RiTC'ii, Santa Fe.
TiMMDAD PkOMERo. Las A'egas.
('HAS. W. GISEENE, Santa Fe.
\TCOL AS J'INO. (ialisleo.
G. \V. STONEIIOAD, Cabra Springs.





A strip of table laud, four thousand feet above tin.? sea level,
-some one hundred and fifty miles louo- from east to west, and
one hundred miles wide ft\mi north to south, lyinjr in the south-
east corner of the Territory of New Mexico, forms the county
of Dona Ana. On its eastern border is Lincoln counts'. The
thirty-second parallel of north latitude separates it from tlie
State of Texa> east of the Rio Grande del Norte on the. smith,
and to the we>t of the Rio Grande the State of Chihuahua.
Mexico, forms its southern boundary. Grant county bounds it
on the west, and Socorro and Lincoln counties on the north.
Dona Ana county embnu-es the <rreater part of that portion of
New Mexico acquired from the Republic of Mexico by the
Gadsaen treaty of isr>:-'. Within this portion lies the famed
"Mesilla Valley." which, ere many ye:ir> elapse, will be noted
as the irarden of the continent.

This vast trad of table land is traversed from north to
>V the Rio Grande del \ortc. which has washed out a vallev


something over five miles in width, sinking over two hundred
feet below the level of the plain. This valley has within
Dona Ana county some three hundred square miles of alluvial
soil, unsurpassed in richness, which, when irrigated by the tur-
bid waters of the Rio Grande, which meander through its cen-
ter, produces enormous crops of all cereals, and all kinds of
fruit adapted to a temperate climate. This valley furnishes
homes for nearly or quite eight thousand of the population of
the county ; from fifteen hundred to two thousand more reside
in the mountains and on the plains engaged in agricultural pur-
suits, stock-raising and mining.

Great mountain ranges spring up from the plain to a height
of from two to six thousand feet above its level. These ranges
are from twenty to fifty miles long and seldom exceed ten miles
in width. Their general course is from north to south, and they
are all rich in mineral.

Between these ranges are great plains, from twenty to sixty
miles wide, treeless and almost waterless, but covered with a
growth of rich, nutritious grass, that affords pasturage for
stock at all seasons of the year.

Beyond the valley of the Rio Grande, but a small portion of
the land in the county is susceptible of producing agricultural
crops, owing to the scarcity of water ; artificial irrigation being
absolutely essential in this climate for the production of crops.

The census of 1880 gives Dona Ana county a population of
7,012. The present population of the county is about 10,000 ;
of these over 6,000 are native born and speak the Spanish lan-
guage. As a class they are honest, industrious and hospitable,
and are peaceable, law-abiding citizens. Although the Spanish
speaking or so called Mexican element comprises four-fifths of
the population of the county, yet it is an extraordinary fact
that a majority of the prisoners confined in the county jail,
charged with serious infractions of the laws, are English speak-
ing persons who arc not natives, of the Territory. Were it not
for the crimes committed by strangers the criminal calendar of
our courts would be comparatively small.


That portion of the county included in the valley of the Rio
Grande is unequalled for fruit growing by any other portion of
the Union. Apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, quinces,
and indeed all fruits adapted to a southern temperate climate,


grow in profusion and to perfection. Fruit growers are troubled
with no diseases of tree or fruit, no damaging insects, no "off
years," in fact with none of the ills incident to horticulture in
' other localities. Grape culture is the great specialty. A vine-
yard that has reached the age of three years and upwards will
produce 16,000 pounds of grapes, equal to 800 gallons of wine,
to the acre. From seven hundred to eight hundred vines are
set out to the acre. They are planted in rows from six to seven
feet apart, are pruned to the stump each spring, and the vine is
usually covered with earth, or mulched, during the winter. A
vine will produce from twenty to thirty pounds of grapes, ac-
cording t<> its age. Small fruits, especially strawberries, do as
well here as anywhere else, and better than in most places.

With proper cultivation forty bushels of wheat or eighty
bushels of corn can be made to the acre. It is not unusual to
sow wheat in the winter, harvest the crop in June, and then
plant the same land in corn, which is harvested in October or
November of the same year.

Fertilizers are but seldom u<ed, as each irrigation leaves a
slimy deposit on the land, which renews the soil, and is, in fact,
the best fertilizer that could be used.

Each town or settlement has its own irrigating ditch or canal
which is the property of the community. All persons owning
or holding lands that can be watered by the ditch are required
by law to contribute their ;>ro rata' of labor to keep the canal in
proper working order, and they are entitled to the use of the
water, subject to the regulations adopted by the community in
conformity with the Territorial laws. A u mayordomo" or
superintendent is elected each year by the community, whose
duty it is made by law to superintend the work on the ditch and
attend to the partition of the water. He is allowed a small sal-
ary for his services, which is usually paid in produce. The
principal irrigating canals in the valley are from six to ^ fifteen
miles long :md from eight to ten feet wide at the mouth *; these
are the main arteries from which smaller ditches or "contra ace-
quias" take the water and distribute it over the land. The pres-
ent system of irrigation is susceptible of great improvement.


Nothing strikes the new comer to the Mesilla valley more for-
cibly or agreeably than its perfect adaptability to fruit raising,
and the advantages offered by a climate where fruit trees can be
"kept growing for nine months in the year. In no branch of in-


(lustry is the reputation of the Mesilla valley more n'rmly estab-
lished than in regard to fruit culture.


Its grapes and quinces have for many years been noted feu*
their excellence, but it is scarcely a decade of years since the
improved varieties of pears, plums, peaches and apples have
been cultivated, and yet within that short time, although isolated
and without railroad communication, the fame of its excellent
fruits has spread far and wide. The first orchards of improved
varieties of apples and pears were planted in 1807. in Mesilla.
Koot grafts were procured through the mails and they prove- ;
thrifty and commenced bearing the fourth year. The tree.- are
now quite large and healthy ar.d produce enormously
i/<-<f /-. The diseases to which fruit trees are liable in the eastern
States, are here absolutely unknown. The preparation and
exportation of dried fruits of all kinds is destined to become
one of the most important industries of the Mesilla valley.


The principal variety of grape grown in the Mesilla valley is
the Mission" grape ; it was probably introduced by the Span-
ish missionary priests between two and three centuries ago. It
is very sweet, has little acid or astrlngeney and is entire!}' de-
void of the "foxy' 1 taste found in eastern grapes. It is very
fruitful and has an abundance of juice. The wine made from
this grape is of considerable -alcoholic strength, and is made pure
and simple without adulteration of any kind. Many person?
when they first use the Mesilla valley wine believe that it has
been artificial I y sweetened. This is owing to the tact that so much
sugar is contained in the grape that after reaching the maximum
alcoholic strength attainable by fermentation the wine still re-
tains a very perceptible amount of unchanged sugar. Foreign
varieties have been tried; not for wine manufacture, however.
They do quite well, but solar have proven inferior to the native
grape* for table use. Brandy making has nor been neglected.
A very high quality of brandy, said by experts to be fully equal
to the best imported French brandy is being manufactured trom
the lees of the wine after it has been racked off. Peach and
apple brandy of a very superior quality is manufactured at
Mesilla. None of the vine pests, such as the /$////'
Oidium. have yet troubled i.ho viivs in the Mesilla valley
<;:ic reason why fr.ivign varieties of grapos have n
u" ',:D: 'rally intro;luvr,l, is psriiaps ovvin^ to the n
rhat toreicfri dise^c.-; miii'ht be introduced with them.



'The native onion is justly famous for its si/e, beauty and
mild flavor. These onions will average? from nine to eighteen
inches in circumference, weighing from one to three pound-.
Thirty thousand onions can be produced to the acre, averaging
over one pound each. The writer has had the benetit of a large
experience on this subject, andean say, from actual experiment,
that with careful cultivation, ."><>. nun pounds of onions can be
produced to the acre //* '/><','. These onions far surpass the'
famed Bermuda onion in every respect : they are larger, better
flavored, milder, and better shaped, and would command a much
higher price in the eastern markets. They can be marketed on
the ground where raised at three Cftfifa />>?r i>'in<i . Every acre
of land in the Mcsiila valley, under cultivation, can b mado to
produce at least one thousand dollars annually if planted in
onions and well cared 1 for. An acre of onions will require the
exclusive labor of one m.'ii for six month- in Uui year Four
men could attend to ten acres, including the preparation of the
beds and the work on the irrigating canal>.


The seed is sown broadcast in heds in January , or Febr-.wry.
In April or May the youn^' plant is about one-fourth of an inch
in diameter, -and is ready to transplant. For tr insplantiiiiT,
the land is laid pffinto beds of convenient si/e for irri ja'inu:, is
ploughed, leveled and irrigated: when drv eiMim'h 'to Work, the
sets are planted in rows eiirhtren inches apart, and from eight
to ten inches apa*'t in the rows ; to transplant, a sharpened
stick is thrust about three inches into the ground and with-
drawn, the youn.i 1 onion is dropped into the hole, the bed is
immediately irrigated which fixes the set firmly in the ground.
It immediately commences to mow. When tin- onion is ab >ut
an inch in diameter, and the buib begins to form, all the earth
should be carefully removed from the bulb leaving it resting 1 o-n
t<>j> of f//r * '..// with no portion Imf. f/i" font* in the rounc7. It
will then grow very rapidly, and if irrigated every ten days,
and hoed between each irrigation, it will reach from one to three
pounds in weight ii. October and berfeady for market.

With ihe exception of the Irish potato, all kinds of vegetables
_T.;W to perfection and can be raised at all s<jas >ns of the year.
S'.veet notatoes, tomtttoes, cabbage, turnips, beets, pumpkins,
peanuts, etc.. etc.. do as well here and are as sure crops as in
nv other localit v.



Undoubtedly the most valuable of forage crops adapted to
the climate of the Mesilla valley is the alfalfa, a variety of
Lucerne. Stock not only eat it with avidity, but thrive and
fatten upon it. It attains a height of from twenty-four to thirty
inches, and five cuts of forage, aggregating to something like
eighteen to twenty tons of hay per acre, have frequently been
made in a season. It is difficult to overestimate the impor-
tance of alfalfa to agriculture in this valley. It is the most
available green forage during summer, and as an adjunct to dairy
and stock farming is invaluable.

There is no such thing as a dairy farm in Dona Ana county !
This is very remarkable when we consider that fresh butter
of fair quality can always find a ready market at sixty cents
per pound ; (eastern butter of a poor quality sells for fifty-
cents), and forty acres of alfalfa would be sufficient to keep
forty good cows. I know of no investment that would, if
judiciously managed, prove more remunerative for the amount
of capital invested than a small dairy and poultry farm in this
valley. Eggs sell at from thirty cents per dozen in the spring
and summer to fifty cents in the fall and winter. Fowls can-
not often be bought at less than seventy-five cents. There are
no special difficulties to be overcome in dairy farming or poul-
try raising in the Mesilla valley.

APICULTURE is a new industry, one that has been recently
introduced in this valley, and I am informed by Mr. Shirfey,
the Register of the United States Land Office ~at Mesilla, an
experienced and practical apiculturist who has for the past three
or four years had the control and management of the first colony
of honey-bees brought to this valley, that nowhere is the pro-
duct of the bee of finer flavor or can it be marketed in a more
attractive form than in the Mesilla valley. The experiment
made with these bees has satisfactorily demonstrated that api-
culture will soon demand a place as one of the important indus-
tries of Dona Ana county. The imported bees take kindly to
the climate and food. The Artemisia, Mesquit and other wild
plants afford unlimited pasture throu h three-fourths of the
year. Alfalfa, when in blossom, from May to September,
affords the best of pasturage not only for stock and swine but
or the h oney-bee.



On the great table lands of Dona Ana county, and in the in-
numerable canons leading from the table lands to river bot-
toms, there grows spontaneously and in pro fusion a plant known
as the u canaigre." The top has some resemblance to a beet top,
the root resembles a sweet potato, is from six to eighteen inches
long; each plant has from three to six pounds of root. This root
contains 23.45 per cent, of rheo-tannic acid, and is very valuable
for its tannin. The Commissioner of Agriculture, in his report
for 1878, speaking of this plant, says :

u The examination of the canaigre, for tannin, shows the ex-
istence of a very abundant source of this important material,
and gives reason for the belief that the latter at least may soon
afford a cheap supply to the arts. Thus far only a preliminary
examination has been made, but the investigation is being con-
tinued, and will, it is hoped, have reached definite conclusions
before the publication of the annual report, of which this will be
a part. The importance of a new and cheap source from
which tannin may be readily attained can scarcely be over esti-
mated, and the most diligent prosecution of this search in va-
rious directions will be continued until success is assured. The
amount of barks and other substances, valued for their tannin,
reaches many millions of dollars yearly, and, if the canaigre
root answers our expectations, the world's supply may be easily
grown by our own people."

Subsequently an analysis of the canaigre root was made yb
the chemist of the Bureau of Agriculture with the following
result :


The roots are from four to six or eight inches long by about
one inch in diameter, deeply corrugated, of a dark brown color
externally, a 'leepred brown color internally, and of a peculiar-
odor like madder. In fine powder it is of a light red-brown

The fresh roots received from the same locality were smooth
in outline, and much resembled sweet potatoes in form, but
were dark-brown in color. In transverse section they were of a
bright lemon-yellow color, which rapidly changed to red-
brown by exposure to the air. They lost water very rapidly,
becoming shrivelled like the r.)ots previously received.

Both the fresh and the dry roots have a very astringent taste.



In the fresh root, containing ( >8.0T per cent, of moisture, the
tannin equalled 8.51 per cent., or *2<.J.(>2 per cent, when ca!
lated to water- free substance.

The air-dry roots, containing' 11.17 per cent, of moisr
contain ^o.-4-o per cent, of tannic acid, equivalent to ^tJ.30 per
cent, of tannin in strictly dry root. From the close agreement
in the tannin estimations in the fresh and dry roots it would
seem as if the tannin was not affected by long-keeping.

This tannic acid is of the variety known as rheo-tannic
and is identical with that existing in rhub in>. In m-.uiy re-,
spects cafiaigre root resembled rhubarb, and the folio wing anal-
ysis has been made with a view to 'etermine, if possible, the
value of cariaigre root either as a t-inninu material or a-
icina! substance.

The following are the pinveiitair !|1 d by s

the aii - dry root, which contained 11.17 percent, of moist U

Cold vvati-T

Alcohol, OS percent

Alcohol, N5 per cent

Petroleum ether

Chloroform ; ''-

Carbon ciisulphide

Ether extracts vary in amounts- according to the -
allowed to act. It will fee .observed that petroleum ether, chlo-
roform, and carbon disulphide extract nearly the same a mounts.
The extract thus obtained was a yellow, soft-solid substance,
freely soluble in alcohol, ether,- benzole, carbon -iisuiphide. and
chloroform : insoluble in water. Its solutions have a faintly
acid reaction. It is soluble, in greater part, in alkai'
drates, with a beautiful pink to carmine color. Its fair-
alkaline ainmoniacal solution precipitates acetate f lead pink,
and reduces potassium permanganate in the cold, am:
rently i educes silver nitrate. This substance ha*
yellow i't$'in in this analysis, although it may contain irace.-> of
oil, chrysoplianic acid, and emodin (Quar. Jour. Ch. Soc., x,
300). Alcohol extracts the above ///7/w resin and a red brown
substance in some particulars resembling the erythror
Scl]l(>ssberger and Dopping (Ann. ('h. Pharm. /. L'l'J).

This substance, when dried, "s a uri' oro\v - a -

'ble on the wator-bath, sol:;biei;i alcohol and diluted ;
iii^-'l'.ible in wal^r, ami near \ ins ,i:;b!e in ether, chl^rofo
benzole, petroleum, ether, carbon d. sulphide. \Vilh
hydrates it dissolves to a beautiful pnrp'-


of acid re-precipitates the substance^ Alcohol, also extract.- the
rheo-tannic acid already- mentioned, together with some sugar
and a red-substance soluble in water.

Water extracts this red coloring matter, a brownish coloring
matter insoluble in alcohol, ether, etc., together with gum, pectin
and sugar.

Dilute potassium hydrate, used after the substance lias been
thoroughly extracted by alcohol and water, was colored dark
purplish red. When acidified the solution precipitated flocks
of a deep red-brown substance, much resembling the red
substance extracted by alcohol, but differing from it in being
insoluble in alcoh( 1.

In all these particulars this substance exactly corresponds
with aj>oi'<-'tin* and.' accordingly, it has been so designated in
this analysis.

The root contained considerable starch ; the starch-grains
were medium-sized, round and ovate. The staich was < -on vert-
ed into glucose by dilute sulphuric acid, and estimate. I from the
glucose formed.

Albuminoids were calculated from the total nitrogen, by com-
bustion with soda-lime.

Cellulose was determined in the residue after the extrac-
tion of all the above-named substances.

Moisture was determined from loss of weight at 1 K> c to
C. : ash. by simple combustion.

The figures given are for ash-free substances, and direct esti-
mations were made in every case, except for suu'ar and red
substance soluble in water." Oxalic and malic acids were not

>. lin ? Triir

Yellow ivsin bit- in alcohol.

Keel sut sta !:cc. si.iubie in alcohol

bstance, ,-oluble in water < 10. U


Rheo-ra mile acid ^5.45 -Soiubl

(linn, pectin, brown color ( \

Ablbuminoids .I -2 1

A pore! in 4.7*

btarch S.4IU

Cellulose -. 4.52

Ash-"- .... 4 :>

Moist ;iv... . ;i 17

terniiiied by actual experlmen ta-


tion. The result of the analysis fails to show the presence of
any substances that would prove injurious to leather, and the
large proportion of tannic acid is certainly a favorable indica-
tion. In many particulars this root resembles rhubarb, and it
seems probable that it may be used to advantage in place of rhu-
barb, where a more astringent medicine is indicated.

The rapid change of the fresh root from yellow to brown
may be due to the change of yellow resin into the less soluble
red-brown substances."

The result of a long experience in the use of canaigre for
tanning purposes by our native tanners has been to remove all
doubt as to the reat value of this root in the manufacture of
leather. That it contains nothing injurious to the leather has
been demonstrated by long use. Its great abundance, the facil-
ity with which it can be gathered, and its value as "a new and
cheep source from which tannin may be readily obtained." will
all contribute to make its gathering, shipment, and perhaps its
culture, anew and important industry in Dona Ana county.


On the great plain lying eavSt of the Organ and San Andreas
ranges of mountains is a deposit of crude pulverized gypsum.
The deposit is about forty miles long and thirty miles wide.
The powdered gypsum resembles huge snow drifts from twenty
to fifty feet in height. A shovel full of this gypsum when held
over the camp fire for a few minutes becomes pure pl<n<t> /
parts. Thj projected railroad from El Paso, Texas, to White
Oaks, will, when completed, pass in close proximity to these
gypsum beds, and afford a means for shipping this valuable fer-
tilizer to the wheat fields of the east.

There are but four land grants in Dona Ana county. One of
these is a private grant of three leagues kvhich has been con-
firmed by Congress. The others are colony grants, with well
defined limits.

Agricultural land of the best quality suitable for fruit and
wine raising can be purchased at from five to ten dollars per
acre with good title. An acre of land containing eight hundred
bearing vines is worth one thousand dollars.

If properly cultivated and cared for the produce of a single
acre should sell each year for :

Ifgrapes, $800 00

If fruit, sucli as apples, ueaclies. pear-, etc., 500 00

If small fruit, such as strawberries, etc., 1,000 00

If onions, 1,00000


The adobe, or sun-dried brick, is the material usually employ-
ed for building purposes, long experience having proven that
it is the best, most durable, comfortable and economical in this
climate. The bricks are made of the alluvial soil of the vallev
which is simply mixed with water to the consistency of thick
mud. Chopped straw is mixed in, and the bricks are moulded
in wooden frames, twenty-two inches long, eleven inches wide
and three inches deep ; and are then left to dry in the sun.
Four men should make and mould one thousand adobes per day.

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Online LibraryNew Mexico. Bureau of ImmigrationReport of Dona Ana County → online text (page 1 of 4)