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to the sky. To the northward the high peaks were wrapped in
clouds, and although the sun of May was shining, the snow could
be seen falling on those cold and distant heights. Sweeping
around almost in a semi-circle was the great mountain wall 1
have before mentioned, closing in on the east and south; to the
west rose gentle slopes, dark with the forest. It was a lovely yet
lonely spot. The vagrant wind waved the long grass that grew
from the ruins; a great cactus spread its skeleton fingers; a sol-
itary crow, balancing on uneven wing, endeavored to beat up
against the wind.

Here was solitude. The Indian, the Spaniard, and thousands
of later visitors had been here and left their names and gone.
Upon the mountain-side could be seen a little white cloud of
moving vapor from a locomotive, but with a hurried echo linger-
ing behind it, this latest invader came and went. And yet where
we sat and watched the hurrying clouds cast their vanishing
shadows upon the mountain-side and plain, hundreds and thou-
sands of human beings had been born and lived, laughed and wept,
and hoped and loved, and despaired and died. Feeling secure,
doubtless, on their ridge in the midst of the valley, the Indians
had cultivated their fields, perhaps thousands of acres, along the
banks of the Pecos half a mile away, and, as I believe, along the
shores of the stream now dried up which ran beneath their walls.
From their town they went forth in the morning; to it they
returned at eve. According to tradition, so industrious were
they that they collected provision for two or three years in ad-
vance. They had chosen a noble site; these mountains seemed


a shelter for them a barrier against their foes. They proved
neither. The new god, whose temple they reared, in time seemed
as powerless as the old. The fields are now wastes ; the town is
a heap of stones and earth; and the roofless church is a monu-
ment of desolation. Thousands pass it by, but none remain.
The strongest and the wisest must possess the earth. Coronado
passed by the spot in 1542, on his long and fruitless march.
What a savage wilderness lay between him and the sounding
Atlantic ! Seventy-eight years after, a band of shivering Eng-
lish emigrants stood under the bleak December sky and con-
fronted Frenchman and Spaniard and Indian. From that hour
the idea of a great American-European Catholic Empire in
America was made impossible. To-day this ruined church is an
emblem and evidence of that lost dream. This railroad, built
by the lineal descendants of those very Puritan exiles, is the
sign and symbol of the future. The Spaniard brought ruin;
the descendants of the Englishman of the Seventeenth century
will bring restoration. The Indians cannot come back; the fire
of Montezuma which they are said to have kept burning amid
the ruins of Pecos has gone out forever; but as we passed we
saw that the Mexican farmer had discarded the wooden plow,
and was turning over the soil with the bright share of the Amer-
ican. The mines opened by the Spaniards were filled up, but
a few hundred yards from the little station of Levy, Americans
were sinking a shaft, not for gold or silver this time, but for use-
ful copper. All that was good will come back, increased an
hundred fold.

It is very difficult, I may say, to gain accurate information in
regard to distances, etc., in this country. The Mexican does not
understand you ; the American, in many instances, does not know
or does not care. We had been given the distance of the ruin
from the station by half a dozen persons, as varying from half a
mile to three miles. A note of our expedition may help future

We left Las Vegas on the way freight at about nine o'clock ;
we arrived at Levy at half-past one; we visited the ruin and re-
turned to the station in time for the passenger train bound south,


at half-past four. The distance to the church may be safely
called one mile and a half.

The road presents no difficulties that a good walker, lady or
gentleman, cannot surmount. We took dinner with the train-
men at Fulton. Visitors can supply themselves with lunch at
Las Vegas. No traveler from the North should fail to visit the
church. The history of this old country must be gathered in
chapters; by degrees, as it were, and this old ruin is a strange
leaf in the book of time.

The afternoon sun was declining when the passenger train came
along, and we resumed our journey. We passed Glorieta, and
the wild walls of the Apache canon, and, changing cars at Lamy
Junction, turned again to the northward. In the slant sun to the
westward we saw new mountains; true mountains in their out-
line, in color and form, such as we see in great pictures, and in
dreams, "the purple peaks, that tear the drifting clouds of gold."
They rose from the plains, a group by themselves, beautiful and
alone. Looking at them, we forgot all else, and started with
surprise when the brakemau called " Santa Fe!"


WITH the exception of Savannah,yith its shady streets of greeo
and gloom, its old houses with iron-barred lower windows ; its
Spanish and Huguenot names, I have never seen an American
city which so impressed and won me as Santa Fe. Between the
two cities there is scarcely a point of resemblance. One is al-
most on a level with the sea, the other is 7,000 feet above it;
one is surrounded by low pine woods and rice swamps and reedy
marshes, the other looks from the lap of mountains which rise
to the realms of sterility and snow. In fact they have nothing
in common, save that both remind one of Spain, and both are
very old.

In traveling usually one soon^wearies of a place and longs to
hurry on to another, but I find myself lingering here and reluc-
tant to go. I discover that I am more than usually reluctant to
do anything "on time," and disposed to lounge around the plaza
or walk about the narrow streets and talk to the Kansas fellows
who live here, and who seem coming into town as if to a meeting
of the Republican Central Committee or State Convention. The
first evening of my arrival, I met Prof. George F. Gaumer, whom
I had known as a student in the University at Lawrence, who
has since traveled all over Cuba and Yucatan as a naturalist,
and is now living here with his pretty Kansas wife, teaching
Spanish, (how is that for Kansas?) and acting as professor in
the University of New Mexico. Then there is Ed. L. Bartlett,
formerly of Wyandotte, and Mrs. Bartlett, the society of either,
to say nothing of both, being sufficient to induce a Kansas man
to stay in Santa Fe a year; and last, but not least by any means,
is my rotund old friend, of all my years in Kansas, Father Def-
ouri, now the Padre of the Church of Our Lady of Guadaloupe,
an edifice which he is overhauling in a manner calculated to
astonish the bones of the ancient Mexicans buried under and



around it. Going along the plaza I met, day before yesterday,
Gov. Harvey, "bearded like the pard," just in from his survey-
ing labors. The first morning of ray stay Dr. Seibor, formerly
of Ellsworth, drove up, and yesterday I rode out with him to
the Indian village of Tesuque.

In Kansas by this time it must be warming up, but here there
is the sun of May with a darker blue in the cloudless sky than
I have noticed elsewhere, and yet there is snow on the mountains
and a touch of early winter or late fall in the air. They say it
never goes above 85 in the summer. The cottonwoods and the
alfalfa in the little plaza are bright and green, but the irrigated
gardens, shut in by breast-high adobe walls, are hardly begin-
ning to show color. And, speaking of the plaza, brings me
back to Kansas or Kansans again. The soldiers' monument in
the center of the plaza, which commemorates the valor of the
heroes of New Mexico who fought Indians and those whom the
monument in uncompromising language on unyielding marble
calls " rebels," was erected at the instance of Gen. Bob Mitchell,
of Kansas, who, poor fellow, passed the other day, amid the
shadows of poverty, to his grave. In front of a store facing the
plaza, Richard Weightmau, once a familiar figure in Atchison,
stabbed and killed, in self-defense, Felix Aubrey, the famous
rider ; and in the Exchange Hotel, at a corner of the plaza, Col.
John P. Slough was murdered. Both Weightman and Slough
are very kindly spoken of here by men who knew them inti-
mately. In the old "Palace" on the plaza, W. F. M. Arny
served five years as Secretary of the Territory, and Capt. John
Pratt a still longer time as United States Marshal. A Kansas
man ought to feel at home here.

To get down to a semblance of business, Santa Fe is a town
of nine thousand inhabitants, of whom two-thirds are natives.
It claims to be the oldest town in the United States, but nothing
can be told of its age by its appearance. An adobe house takes
"no note of time." It looks as old in a week as it will after
ten thousand years of existence. For all one can see, Santa Fe
may have been built ten years ago, or Adam may have irrigated
the Garden of Eden from the little Rio Santa Fe. There is no


mistake, however, about its being very old. Mr. Ellison, the
old Acting Territorial Librarian, "has the papers" on that.
There was, from the dawn of time, an Indian village here, and
"the Santa Fe Town Company," as I presume it was called,
began operations in 1597. Archbishop Lamy, who has known
the town since 1850, says it changes very little in its general ap-
pearance. It was a town of five thousand inhabitants at the time
of the American occupation, and what has been done since, until
the railroad came, has been done on the old plan. The United
States Government in its buildings adopted the adobe, and
Americans generally did the same. Even now, in the construc-
tion of brick residences, the old one-story, roomy house, with its
placita, or court, is followed as a model. The Exchange Hotel,
where this letter is written, is one of the large hotels of the
town, and it is but an extension of an old Mexican house, a one-
story adobe, with two little court-yards, into which the sun
shines without let or hindrance; a rambling, irregular, curious
old place, with big bed-rooms, each with a back door and a front,
opening into the placita and the street, and no ceiling overhead
just the bare joists. A queer and comfortable place, better a
thousand times, to my taste at least, than a box and bell-cord in
the sixth story of an American hotel.

The town is an aggregate of such houses, and smaller ones,
with some modern brick and frame houses already built, and
others coming. The first royal Governor, the Hon. Pedro de Pe-
ralta, appears to have said in first arranging the town, "Here we
will have a little square plaza, and on this side of it the Gover-
nor's palace shall be built, and around it we will have business
houses; and for the rest, you can build where you like, only do
not take up too much room with your streets." Then the inhab-
itants went to work, with a spider web for a model, and located
streets and alleys, and built long lines of adobe houses on each
side, with originally no windows on the street side, and with but
a large gate opening from the street into the placita. On the
street front they erected porches running from house to house,
for hundreds of feet, so that in Santa Fe you may walk long
distances without stepping into the sun, or the rain when it


falls. The Rio Santa Fe, a little stream from the mountains,
runs through a wide rocky bed in the midst of the town, separat-
ing it into two portions; and on this stream the women of both
towns met and discussed the hired-girl question, and washed their

This is a rough outline of what appears to be the general plan
of Santa Fe. Going up on the hill which overlooks the town,
you may, from the earthwork called Fort Marcy, see all over
Santa Fe as it is now, and in your mind you can reconstruct it
as it was. You see large squares which look like dried-up ponds:
they are the flat roofs of the adobe houses. This flat surface was
originally broken only by occasional trees and the higher walls
of the churches.

The Spaniards, on their occupation of a country, build at
once a fort and a church. Santa Fe has, consequently, some
very old churches which are the first objects of interest visited
by strangers. The oldest of these is San Miguel, St. Michael
being greatly venerated in these parts. The original church was
built, no one knows exactly when, but it is said in 1640. The
Pueblo Indians destroyed it in the revolt of 1680, and it was re-
built in 1710. On a beam under the gallery it is stated that it
was built by the Marquis de Penuela. His whole name was
"The Admiral Don Jose Chacon Medina Salazar Villasenor,
Knight of the Order of Santiago, Governor and Captain General
of this Kingdom of New Mexico;" but he did not sign his name
in full because there was not room enough on the beam. San
Miguel on the outside looks like an immense and badly con-
structed sod-house. The inside is long, narrow and high, with a
little gallery supported by a cross-beam and the great name of
the Marquis de Penuela. There are a number of pictures, age
unknown perhaps painted in Spain, perhaps in old Mexico.
They are very ugly, as is San Miguel itself. What is true of San
Miguel is true of San Francisco. This church is at present cu-
riously situated. The great stone church, which has been four-
teen years in building, completely incloses it, and shuts out the
sun in a great degree, causing some of the strangest effects of
light and shadow imaginable. Through the open doors comes a


bit of bright sunshine; daylight from some source falls on the
high altar; between them is dim shadow, made more strange and
ghastly by the Mexican women, closely covered by their black
shawls, who kneel in silence before a little altar in an alcove.

The most interesting church to me was that of Our Lady of
Guadaloupe. This church has been turned over to the Rev.
James H. Defouri, formerly of Kansas, for the use of the English*
speaking Catholics of Santa Fe. It is probably nearly as old as
San Francisco; but what a change, my countrymen! Father
Defouri found the church, like all old churches, without seats or
a fire. He has introduced pews and a stove. I understand that
the latter was considered a frightful innovation, the faithful hav-
ing relied for ages on their piety to keep them warm, but the
pews were a distinguished success. On the first Sunday they
were opened to the public they were filled with natives, delighted
to worship in comfort. A Kansas man may be considered the
reformer of New-Mexican church interiors. Many tourists will
doubtless feel shocked by the lack of reverence for the antique
shown in putting a new roof on this church; it may be a comfort
to such to know that on the other hand to Father Defouri is due
the preservation of the remarkable altar-piece, perhaps the finest
specimen of Spanish-American art in New Mexico. It was
painted in Mexico by Josephus Alzibar, in 1683, and on account
of its size was brought to Santa Fe in three pieces. It portrays
in four tableaux the old Mexican legend of Juan, the Pueblo, to
whom the Virgin appeared thrice, and left as a proof of the
reality of her visit her full-length portrait on his mantle. Show-
ing this to the Bishop, who had been before incredulous, a church
of Our Lady of Guadaloupe was erected on the spot designated
by her in her first meeting with the Indian. The three figures at
the top of the picture, representing the Trinity, are beautifully
drawn; and the whole design is spirited. This picture was being
destroyed by leaking rain, and its base was nearly hidden by a
pile of dirt. It has now been inclosed in a frame, and is to be
more perfectly restored. Kansas people will not fail to visit the
Guadaloupe church, to see the painting and listen to the expla-
nation by their former fellow-citizen. In the sacristy was pru-


dently concealed a hideous picture taken from the'churcb, and
the worthy Father was kind enough not to dispute the writer's
expressed belief that the artist is now in purgatory.

There are other churches, but those mentioned are the most

In another letter, other points of interest will be mentioned.
This letter is addressed confidentially to Kansaus at home, to tell
them the "lay of the land." They should visit Santa Fe, if
they propose to do so, at once. They will find friends here in the
shape of former acquaintances, and will make more after they
get here. In particular, they will meet a pleasant welcome from
Governor Sheldon, to whom the writer is indebted for many
courtesies. They will find now many things which a few years
later will have disappeared. It is but forty-eight hours' ride
from Atchison to Santa Fe, and in that distance you seem to have
passed from one world to another. Leaving things modern and
familiar, you can be surrounded here by strange faces, strange
houses, strange churches, and all around a frame of mountains
as charming as the Delectable Mountains which rose before the
delighted vision of Bunyan's Pilgrim. And so, u more anon."


SANTA FE is the historical center of New Mexico, and its civil,
ecclesiastical and military capital. The seat of the first is, as it
has been for two hundred years continuously, the long adobe
building which forms one side of the plaza, and which is the
only building in the United States called, of right, a "palace."
Gov. Lionel A. Sheldon sits literally in the place of the royal
governors, and the Mexican Republican Governors and political
chiefs who have ruled in all sorts of fashions this queer old
country. He wears the mantle of the brave Otermin, the lofty
Marquis de Penuela, he of the many titles; of the unfortunate
Perez, of Margales, last of the Spanish rulers, and so on down.
The palace is a long, low, shadowy building, with a wide porch,
and if all the varied characters who for two centuries or more
have walked under that porch and have entered those deep-set
doors, could at one time "revisit the glimpses of the moon" for
the benefit of the present incumbent, he could a tale unfold more
wonderful than Hamlet, or Macbeth, or the guilty Richard.
Proud Grandee of Spain, from the streets of Seville or the banks
of the Guadalquiver; long-robed Franciscan; fierce and wily In-
dian ; aspiring Mexican chieftain ; American soldier ; Kit Carson,
and all the famous men of the plain and mountain, have walked
under the portal of the old palace. In one room, piled in dusty
heaps, breast high, are papers and parchments which may yet
prove a mine more precious than gold to the patient historian.
Beginning with the story of the re-conquest of the country, by
Diego del Vargas, written in 1693, these papers cover all of life
in New Mexico until the day when a new and strange flag waved
above the Palace, and Governors speaking a new language
reigned within its walls. Somewhere in these heaps is a paper of
great interest to the writer. It is a detailed statement of the
expenses incurred in the arrest and detention of Captain Zebulon



M. Pike, a hero whose Dame and fame there is an humble effort
to preserve in the sketch, "Pike, of Pike's Peak." The custo-
dian of the archives is Mr. Ellison, the Territorial Librarian,
who looks nearly as old as his charge.

While no adequate appropriation has ever been made to have
the papers arranged, classified and preserved, Mr. Ellison has
regarded their care as a labor of love. During eight months
that he was a sufferer from a broken limb, he solaced with these
old documents the weary hours. He showed me some of the
oldest records. They are on fine Italian paper, the writing
covering only the right half of the page, leaving room for re-
marks and annotations. The handwriting is clear and the ink
scarcely faded. Those old Spaniards did some things very well.
It is noticeable that the older the records the more care is dis-
played in their preparation.

A thoughtful person seeing these papers longs to penetrate the
mysteries of the early history of New Mexico, but really very
little has been drawn from this source. Judge Rich, who is to
New Mexico what Judge Frank Adams is to Kansas, has col-
lected many books on the history of Mexico and New Mexico,
but there is nothing which can be called a history of the latter.
Of the modern books, " El Gringo," by a Pennsylvanian named
Davis, who was Attorney General of the Territory twenty-five
years ago, is as good as any. Davis appears to have been a one-
horse politician, entirely destitute of imagination, quite com-
monplace, and troubled with a clumsy and elephantine humor ;
but his story is a straight one, and has the merit of brevity.

The history of New Mexico will be found an uneventful one.
From the days of the Spanish conquest but two serious revolu-
tions have occurred, that of 1680, when the Spaniards were
driven out by the Indians, and that of 1837, when Gov. Perez
was murdered. The Indians had been nominally Christianized
in 1837, and yet behaved with more ferocity than in 1680. An
attempt at insurrection against the United States, shortly after
the occupation by the Americans, was easily suppressed by Col.
Price, afterwards Gen. Sterling Price, of the Confederate army.

The truth is, New Mexico was until recently a far-away coun-


l.ry. Shut in by mountains or immense plains, i|, was a land
apart The Mexican revolution, which lor ten years preceding
IS'.'O delii-ed Old Mexico with blood, was scarcely heard ol' in
Ne\v Mexico, and the country submitted to the Americans with
hardly a show ol K i lance. Whether it was Spanish (iovernor
(jeueral, Mexican political cliiel, or American ( Joyernor ap
pointed at Washington, Santa. I'V has always been the capital,
and all the varym;- forms of sovereignty have been accepted
with about e(|iial resignation. The vigorous and arbitrary rule
ol' the Spanish is, however, best, remembered, and occasionally
(iov. Sheldon is appealed to by some simple Mexican in a way
(hat indicates bebel' in his absolute power to do what he likes
a liuiferin^ relic ol the elleet ot' old time I'ule.

Santa I'V is the capital of a province not limited by the
boundaries ol New Mexico, hut embracing Colorado and a. vast
stretch of mountain country, and the head of that '-Teat spirit
nal empire is the Archbishop <d' Santa I'V. His lace is reco;-
ni/cd and In ; authority exercised over a larj-cr rej-Mon, probably,
than owns the sway ol any oilier Archbishop in the ('atholic
church; and in town or country, in civili/.ed city or Indian
pueblo, from Oregon to the boundary ol Mexico, all aloiu-; the
l)ackbone of I he continent, the bt^st-known name is that of the

Rt. Rev. John B. Lamy. Civil Governors oome and go, but

(In tall, slender, elderly Franco American remains with un-
chaiiLMn^ and unbroken power. I'ndcr his rule and through
his energy Santa I'V is becoming one ol (he j*;rcat seats ol
( 1 atholic education and influence, with a cathedral, a hospital
and schools, all projected on a scale which may be termed vast,
and which will preserve his name for unknown time to come.

The llishop's (Jardcn is one of ihe sijdils of Santa, I'V. (<om-
in;' early into possession of a plat of ground containing Ji spring
sullicienl to irrigate the whole city of Santa l ( \'-. lie has created
such a spot of j'Tccnery as must surprise the barren mountain-
peaks which look down upon it. Within thai lii:;h adobe wall
^rows every fruit tree which will exist in the climate and alii
tude. and although the Archbishop has passed nearly all his life
in this country, there is a reminiscence of K ranee in the formal

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Online LibraryNoble L. (Noble Lovely) PrentisSouth-western letters → online text (page 5 of 11)