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64 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

inclosed in high walls and covered with one-story adobe bar-
racks, and the neat residences of the officers. The garrison band
usually plays in the little shaded plaza three times a week, and
is one of the attractions of the town. At the time of our visit
the troops had gone in search of Indians, and the parade and
barracks seemed quite forlorn.

There was a town before Santa Fe was founded, and no one
may know how old it was, and there still exists, six miles from
Santa Fe, the pueblo of Tesuque, in form and construction ex-
actly the same as it was in the days of Cortez. I rode out to it
in company with Dr. Seibor, formerly of Ellsworth, who had
never visited it before, and consequently our inspection was not
as thorough and intelligent as it might have been, though very
pleasant. The road runs over a high ridge, and for much of the
distance in the bed of a long, dried-up river. The scene was
thoroughly New-Mexican. The sun-burnt road, the thousands
of yellow, sun-blistered and serried ridges, covered with a thin
growth of cedars and piiion, and the groups of burros loaded
with wood, and driven by Indians; and occasionally a party of
American prospectors mounted on gaunt horses, with their bur-
ros with sacks of flour and other necessaries, marching on before.
All these men carried arms and looked serious. I think the
solemn mountains and the purple sky have a tendency to make
people quiet and sedate, even without an uncertain tenure to
one's scalp being added. Indians were seen plowing in the fields
by the roadside. They used a plow made of three sticks a big
long one for the beam, a sharp one for the share, and a crooked
one for the handle. The plows ricochetted along at the heels of
diminutive black-and-white oxen. The Indian costume is very
simple: it consists of hair, shirt and leggins. The Pueblo Indian
is the inventor of that capillary mutilation known as the "bang."
His heavy black hair hangs over his forehead, and is cut square
across even with his eyebrows. It is very sweet. In childhood
the hair is cut close to the head, with the exception of a fringe
round the lower border, which curls up like a duck's tail. This
adds a great charm to Pueblo infancy.

A pueblo is a big mud house built around a court. In con-



SOMETHING MOKE ABOUT SANTA F. 65

struction it reverses the principle of a block-house. The upper
story, instead of projecting, is withdrawn. The householder
ascends to the top of a lower story by a ladder, and enters
"up-stairs" by a door. If there were no ladder he could shin
up the lightning rod. A door on the ground floor would hurt
the feelings of the late Montezuma. We entered several apart-
ments, including that of the Governor, who has a T-shaped
opening in the front of his house through which he can look
out and see everything. He was looking when we met him,
assisted by his wife and child. All three just sat and looked.
When spoken to they made no reply, but just looked. In the
course of a year they must see a great deal. Occasionally a
woman or child came out on the upper deck, like a prairie dog,
and took a look. Others were at work cutting wood. In an
apartment we saw a girl, whose costume consisted of two yards
of half-width calico arranged in festoons, grinding meal. A slab
of hard rock is fastened at an incline in a trough, and the corn
is rubbed on this with a stone rolling-pin. The little soft black-
and-white corn is worn up very rapidly. The rooms were swept
very clean, but pervaded with a peculiar and pungent odor.
The Pueblos are ugly, sullen, personally dirty, and very indus-
trious. They are nominally Catholics, but are said to be in fact
heathen, who believe in the second coming of Montezuma.
They seemed to be looking for him when I saw them. The
Tesuque Indians are said to be poorer and less aristocratic than
those of other Pueblos. In the matter of ugliness they cannot
be excelled by any Indians I have seen except our own lost
Kaws. Some Apaches who came into Santa Fe on horseback
looked like noblemen beside the citizens of Tesuque.

I tried, from the conversation of old residents, to reconstruct
the old-time Santa Fe, but in vain. Contrary to my pre-
vious belief, I found Santa Fe during the days of the old over-
land trade was a quiet town. The traders parked their wagons
on the plaza, and camped themselves on a piece of ground known
as the "United States." Each wagon paid a license of $500.
The principal occupation was gambling, and the most famous
gambler in Santa Fe was a native woman, Gertrudes Barcelone,



66 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

who died rich and was buried with all the honors of the church.
The native people have changed their costume and habits by
almost imperceptible degrees, but enough remains to interest the
traveler. There is an old curiosity shop on San Francisco street
which will tell you more in half an hour than I can in many
letters. The sulky clerk will say nothing to you if you do not
speak to him, and you will be at liberty to examine the collec-
tion at your leisure. Such old swords, such daggers, such books
from mouldy convents, such costumes, Spanish, Mexican and In-
dian, you will not find elsewhere. In that odd place you can
weave your dreams into a continuous web from Cabeza de Vaca
to Governor Sheldon. If you would further call up the spirits
of the past, go, if you are a man and not too scrupulous, into a
saloon or dancing-hall, and ask the Mexican guitarist and his
Italian companions with their violins to play for you " La Fresca
Rosa," or the fine air of "Cinco de Mayo." In hearing it you
will perceive and almost feel for yourself that uncaring and idle
spirit which has enabled these New-Mexicans to live on, unresist-
ing and content, alike under oppression and freedom, amid the
gathering dust of eventless centuries or the noise and stir of
these last progressive years. The tinkle and the tang of the
guitar, a fresh cigarette, the invariable " quien sabe" to every
troublesome question, are enough, and the crazy world may go
on with all its busy madness for all that Jose" or Jesus Maria
cares. You know all this when you hear the music, and you
momentarily adopt the sentiment as your own.

There are a few towns it is a pleasure or a necessity to forget.
You would not remember them if you could; you could not if
you would. But I doubt if I ever lose anything of the impres-
sions of dusty, "dobe" Santa Fe. Possibly the kindness I re-
ceived there would preserve the memory of the old place if there
were nothing else, but the people and the place will serve each
to keep the recollection of the other.

Of Santa Fe as a business point I can say but little, since I
have no weakness for business of any sort, but I know that if I
was dyspeptic, worn out, a-weary of the world, tired of living
and yet afraid of dying, I should come to Santa Fe in the sum-



SOMETHING MORE ABOUT SANTA F. 67

mer-time and take some big, high white washed rooms in a Mexi-
can house, with the fireplace in the corner; and with books at
home and a horse to ride abroad, I believe I could find a new
body and a fresh soul. I would lounge on the plaza and admire
the unique ugliness of the three old crones who have haunted it
from time immemorial, and do nothing with great care and elab-
oration for awhile, and then I would return to the United States
and join the *' march of progress," which is doubtless a great
thing, but which makes many people footsore.

What has been written has been written as the truth. I can
only hope that such of my friends as may visit Santa Fe here-
after may find there as much to cheer and interest them as I did,



ALBUQUERQUE AND ITS NEIGHBORHOOD.



LEAVING Santa Fe in the middle of a bright afternoon (all af-
ternoons are bright now), we arrived without disturbance at
Lainy Junction, and lay around for the passenger train bound
south, which, however, was preceded by an excursion train loaded
with a party from Massachusetts. These excursions are a fea-
ture of the "Santa Fe's" business this season, and have resulted
in bringing more gentlemen with gray side-whiskers and more
ladies with eye-glasses into these western wilds, than were ever-
known before. This party was piloted as several others have
been lately, by my old and valued friend Col. Ed. Hareu, and
it was a sort of satisfaction to know that these Massachusetts
Republicans were under the guidance of an ex-Confederate Mis-
sourian. Too many of a kind is no good.

On Lamy, when the sun was low, the passenger train descended
from the heights of the Glorieta pass, and we journeyed on through
cliffs, boulders, sand plains, mesas, mountains, and the miscella-
neous geology of this country, till in the starlight another famous
river was added to those mine eyes have seen, to wit: the Rio
Grande. It is a cousin to the Missouri, the Platte and the Ar-
kansas. Like the latter, it has low banks and a double bottom
like the Great American Ballot Box used in close districts. It
is extensively used for irrigation purposes, but apparently loses
nothing. If all the water were bailed out of it, plenty more
would rise out of its sands. Rivers of this character are evi-
dently intended for irrigating purposes, and nothing else.

At Wallace, where we stopped for supper, was a mixed multi-
tude. United States people in every variety ; bareheaded Mexican
women smoking cigarettes; and Indians from a neighboring pu-
eblo were standing around in their striped blankets and trying
to sell turquoise and smoked topaz. The town was suffering or
enjoying an Indian scare. Two or three Apaches had come into

(68)



ALBUQUERQUE AND ITS NEIGHBORHOOD. 69

town, so it was said, and it was expected that they would come
back with their friends and relatives. To meet the possible
invaders, a military company had been organized and was march-
ing about in the dusk, the martial music being extracted from a
tin pan. The "tame" Indians paid no attention to these warlike
preparations, and evidently thought that the regular run of the
turquoise business would not be interfered with by the Apaches.

Albuquerque was the next point of interest. This town is
Kansas headquarters, and here the Kansan abroad is at home.
In Albuquerque it is said the justices of the peace are sworn to
support the constitution and laws of the State of Kansas. If
some wandering Kansas politician in search of votes should
straggle over the line into Albuquerque he would never know the
difference.

Albuquerque, like Las Vegas, is two towns, but New Albu-
querque is newer and Old Albuquerque is older than correspond-
ing portions of Las Vegas. Las Vegas has a name signifying
"The Meadows." Albuquerque was named for no less a person
than the great Duke of Albuquerque, Viceroy of Mexico. In
point of age, Albuquerque is one of the "way-up" towns, stand-
ing in the class with Santa Fe.

One of the pleasures of a trip to New Mexico is the opportu-
nity afforded to compare the very new with the very old, and I
have visited no place where this contrast is so sharp as at Albu-
querque. At Las Vegas there is nothing very old, since the
Mexican town was not started until 1835; at Santa Fe the new
and old are somewhat mixed and blended; but at Albuquerque,
taking the two towns together, you have your comparison clear
and distinct. In the new town you see the American settlement
of two years old; in the old town the Spanish settlement of two
: hundred years old. In the new town there is scarcely a Mexican
> house in its original or any other shape; in the old there is
scarcely an American house. The new town is full of stir; the
old full of quietness. The new town has every modern improve-
ment; the old, no change. You take the street cars in the
new town and you go in a few moments from 1882 to 1668. The
people, the avocations, the religion even, of the two places are
5



70 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

all different. Sin is said to be as old as man and time, but even
the vices of the new town are those of young communities. The
new town plays poker with a high hand, and the old sticks to
monte in the shade.

Familiar as I am with the growth of towns in the West, I
have never seen anything so rapid as that of the new town of
Albuquerque. A town of shanties not unfrequently comes into
being inside of a couple of years, but very seldom does a town
spring into existence with daily papers, depots, railroad shops,
big hotels, large wholesale establishments, gas works and a street
railway, within the space of twenty-four months. This is, with-
out exaggeration, what has happened at Albuquerque the younger.
Of course I availed myself of the opportunity to look at both
towns. The new town did not require careful inspection. It is
spread out on broad streets, so much lumber, brick and mortar,
and more coming; but the old town is a different matter. A
curious maze of spreading adobe houses, with long, wooden-pil-
lared porches, is old Albuquerque. It is situated on the banks
of the Rio Grande, and acequias run all around and all over it.
The most prominent feature in all Mexican towns is the ditch.
It has the right of way against everything else. The flowing
water comes suddenly from under an adobe wall and runs across
the road and under another wall and out into a field, where it
divides into a dozen streams, or spreads all around among the
alfalfa or wheat. The pedestrian on the plaza suddenly encoun-
ters a stream running across his path. It is the water let on
above by some unseen party, who is sending the precious fluid to
gladden his garden half a mile off, or to furnish mud for his
adobe-making operations. In driving about the country, you
drive over the all-pervading ditch a dozen times in as many hun-
dred yards, and the power of water on this, to a Kansas man,
wretched-looking soil, red as a bummer's nose and full of young
boulders, is wonderful. The very cottonwood, in this country a
spreading shade tree, takes on a brighter green. At Albuquerque
and all along the valley of the Rio Grande are vineyards, planted
long ago, bearing the Mission grape, introduced by the Francis-
cans, and said to be, by all New-Mexicans, native and adopted,



ALBUQUERQUE AND ITS NEIGHBORHOOD. 71

the finest grape in the world. The vines are not trained on
walls or trellises, or suffered to run up trees, as in Italy ; they are
cut back till they give up trying to be vines at all, and turn into
scrubby, gnarled and knotty bushes. Each bush can be counted
on for a given number of bunches of grapes.

While John Price, now liveryman of Albuquerque, New Town,
formerly of North Topeka, Kansas, was driving me about, we
visited the Indian school about a mile from the elder Albuquerque.
The school is primarily a mission establishment of the Presbyte-
rian church, but it is also a Government boarding school for young
Indians; the Government of the United States paying $125 per
annum toward the board, clothing and education of each Indian
pupil.

The school has taken possession of a former Mexican farm
house, one of those rambling affairs which extend over a great
acre of ground, with rooms enough for a hotel ; and here we found
about forty "little Injuns" under the principalship of Professor
Shearer, formerly of Concordia, assisted by several ladies ap-
pointed by the Presbyterian Board. The little Indians were
recruited at the different pueblos of New Mexico, it being
thought, perhaps, that the agricultural Indians would take more
kindly to civilized ways than the children of the wild people.
So here they were, forty dusky little Indians of unmixed blood,
for the Pueblos do not intermarry with any other people. They
were dressed in the clumsy clothes which civilization has imposed
on us, and which we make it a duty to impose on other people,
and were being taught the infernal intricacies of English orthog-
raphy. They sang a hymn, and at my especial request, the bold
anthem of "Johnny Schmoker." I thought that barbarous
enough to gratify their native instincts, and make them feel happy-
Prof. Shearer and his assistants are kind and conscientious, and
do, I doubt not, all they can for their copper-colored charges ;
but at the risk of being called a heathen man and a publican, I
will say that the experiment impressed me unfavorably. As a
Kansas man, I have always been warmly in favor of killing
Indians, but I do not like to see anybody tormented, and it seems
to me that is all these Indian-educational experiments amount to.



72 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

These children speak Spanish : what is the use of teaching them
English? If they grow up at their native pueblos they will
plow, and cut wood and sell it, and work after their fashion.
Why put them in the harness in a manual-labor school? They
have Indian names. Why change them? They have Indian
dresses. Why put them into horrid coats and hideous pants?
It is not natural, and I do not believe it is healthful. I am told
that the Indian boys sent to Carlisle cannot endure the climate,
and die off. The same fact is observable elsewhere. I have a
profound respect for everybody's good intentions, but I do wish
there was some way to let the Indians alone. I had rather have
seen one of these little Indian boys dressed in a shirt, or a
liver pad, or a postage stamp, trotting happy and uncon-
cerned around his native adobe, and bearing his own Indian
name, and growing up an Indian, than to see him dressed up
in uncomfortable clothes, with his name changed to Hezekiah
Jones, and that instrument of torture, an English spelling-
book in his hand. This may be what, in the language of the
Pacific-coast humorist, is called a " flowery break," but what
I have seen has sickened me with our whole system of In-
dian management. If the whole business could be settled on the
principle of "you let me alone and I will let you alone," I think
heaven and earth would have reason to rejoice.

In this connection I may say that I have been impressed by
the views of Mr. Bandelier, a scientist, who has lived in Indian
villages and studied the inhabitants. He says that the Spanish
in Mexico, after a century or so of persecution and interference,
finally concluded to let the Indians alone, save that they were
obliged to accept the Catholic religion. The Indians took as
much of this religion as they wanted, and let the rest alone. In
other matters the Indians were left to do as they pleased ; govern
themselves in their villages, preserve their customs, their tribal
relations, etc. In time, of themselves, they abandoned their
ancient ways, became citizens, took part in the affairs of the
country, furnished soldiers and generals for the Mexican army,
and Benito Juarez, the greatest man Mexico has produced, was
an Indian of unmixed blood. I do not believe the Mexican



ALBUQUERQUE AND ITS NEIGHBORHOOD. 73

Indians differ much in nature from our Indians, yet how differ-
ent the result in " benighted Mexico," as we are fond of calling
it, and the United States. We began wrong and have followed
along with a mixture of treaties and fights, and Bibles and
whisky, and missionaries and thieves, and fraud and force, and
annuities and starvation, and we have the cheek all the time to
call it an "Indian policy." The result is, that the Indian has
now no fate but death. Put him in school, and he dies of pneu-
monia or consumption; turn him loose, and he kills himself with
whisky; put him on a reservation, and he breaks out and kills
the first man he meets ; and after giving a great deal of trouble,
gets killed himself. This is what the most pious, the most en-
lightened, the cutest, the smartest, the most ingenious Nation on
earth does about Indians.

Among the pleasant incidents of my visit to Albuquerque was
a trip to Bear canon. It may be stated, in the first place, that
every modern New-Mexican town has its own mountains or range
of mountains, and that each mountain or range has its canon or
canons. The distance from town varies from three to eighteen
miles; consequently this is the chosen land of picnics. The
canon always furnishes a resort, and you know it will never rain
till July. A sort of picnic was the gathering in the Bear canon,
twelve miles from Albuquerque.

The party consisted of Mr. W. S. Burke, formerly of the
Leaven worth Times; Capt. George E. Beates, of Junction City,
now employed on Government surveys in Arizona; Mr. Whit-
ney; a driver, name unknown; the writer; and an old prospector,
who, naturally gifted in that direction, has developed by practice
into the most enormous liar in the Territory of New Mexico. It
was up hill all the way across the dry sloping prairie that
stretches to the foot of the Sandias, but I think he gave us a lie
for each revolution of the wagon wheels. Being quite deaf, he
could not hear the glowing falsehoods which were returned him
as a sort of small change for his tremendous fabrications, but he
was very, very happy as it was. His object was to show us in-
dications of mineral he had discovered in the canon, but his
labor was in vain. After our experience on the way up, he might



74 SOUTHWESTERN LETTERS.

have tumbled into a two-foot streak of twenty-dollar gold pieces,
and we would not have believed in him.

The canon, to return to the object of the excursion, was found
a beautiful spot; a winding cleft amid enormous piles of rock
massed in every fantastic shape, and finally solidifying into per-
pendicular cliffs. A mountain stream clear as crystal flowed
over a bed of shining gravel, but utterly disappeared in the
sands within a hundred yards from the mouth of the canon. So
the little stream goes on day and night, year after year, with its
fruitless labors, gathering the melted snow from the mountain-
top gathering from each spring along its way, only to pour its
flood at last upon the evil and unthankful desert of the plain.



SOCORRO.



AT Albuquerque the matter of mining stares you in the face,
and you are obliged to confront the question whether you are a
miner, a prospector, or a mining broker ; whether you have mines
to buy or mines to sell ; in short, to decide whether you have any
past, present or future interests in mines.

For myself, I have no earthly interest in any mine or mines,
and unless the knowledge is acquired on the present journey I
shall never really know anything about mines. This ignorance


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Online LibraryNoble L. (Noble Lovely) PrentisSouth-western letters → online text (page 6 of 11)