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town, Alamogordo, sprang up on the plains, the Alamogordo
News leaped into print. Grandma wrote interesting little


items about Otero County and sent them to Manning, the
Editor. He always ran them.

One such item was about a Plymouth Rock hen of Grand-
ma's that forsook the chicken yard and laid ten eggs twelve
feet off the ground in the crotch of a cottonwood, then "set"
on the eggs until they hatched.

Rugged homespun justice tempered by kindness seasoned
Grandma's life on that frontier. From Tularosa down to Ala-
mogordo, from Las Cruces across the White Sands to La Luz
and on up into the Sacramento Mountains as far as the
Mescalero Apache Reservation, people knew and loved
Grandma Findley for her good works. Likewise they admired
her resolute and independent spirit, and they respected her
prowess with her shotgun.

I have seen Grandma shoot coyotes, bob-cats, skunks, and
scads of chicken hawks all the predators that continually
gave her chickens a bad time. Once I watched her blow a four-
foot rattlesnake with maybe fifteen rattles off our stone door-
step where he had insolently coiled himself in the sun. She
gave that rattler both barrels. Indeed, the old lady hardly ever
fired her trusty scattergun without cutting loose with both

Riley Baker, the best sheriff Otero County ever had, al-
ways at war with cattle-rustlers, once said to my Grandma :
"Mrs. Findley, ma'am, you ought to be one of my deputies.
With your shotgun and my six-shooter we could soon clean out
all these cattle thieves."

Occasionally some poor unfortunate in an advanced stage
of tb would be stranded in La Luz, unable to drag on any
farther. Grandma would get him a cot and supply him with
goat's milk and eggs until he died. One such case fooled
Grandma, however. Frank Earle. He got well, well enough
that for years he ran a cigar stand in El Paso.

When Grandma Findley grew quite old and tired, she
moved down to El Paso and lived until her death with Mr. and
Mrs. Samuel Henry Sutherland, both former pioneers of
Otero County. Mrs. Sutherland was her daughter.

Yes, Grandma Findley was a great old girl. To use one
of her own expressions, "I ain't never seen the beat of her."




THERE are two sides to this story, the American and the
New Mexican, and on each side there are several parts.
Johnny Gringo 1 is the central figure on the American side.
He was the so-called "common" soldier of the war with Mex-
ico of 1846-1848 the father, brother, uncle and ancestor of
Johnny Reb and Johnny Doughboy, as well as Billy Yank and
"GI" Joe. His coming brought New Mexico into the United
States, ending one era of New Mexican history and beginning
another. One may obtain an impression of what sort of person
Johnny Gringo was and what experiences he encountered in
New Mexico through his personal letters, diaries and other

The paucity of materials strictly of this nature, however,
forces one to consider also the documents left by officers, mer-
chants and forty-niners, among others. This material often
does not bear directly on Johnny Gringo, but it adds im-
measurably to the other side of the story, that is, what the
old New Mexico was like before its character was changed by
the first substantial influx of Anglo-Americans.

The main outlines of military activity in New Mexico
during the war may properly be summarized here. Stephen
Watts Kearny, commander of the "Army of the West," re-
ceived his promotion to brigadier general shortly before

* Assistant Professor of History, Texas Western College of the University of Texas,
El Paso, Texas.

1. The word gringo did not originate during the war of 1846-1848, various stories
to the contrary notwithstanding; but this was the period when the word became
familiar to Americans. See Will M. Tipton, "Note on Origin of the Word 'Gringo,' "
Old Santa F6 t II, 279. American "common" soldiers were sometimes called "Neds"
by fellow Americans and "God-damn-me's" by Mexicans, the latter apparently a
reflection of the invaders' strong language. Lewis H. Garrard, Wah-to-yah and the Taos
Trail, Ralph P. Bieber, ed. (Glendale, 1938), pp. 199n, 321; "Sr Gonzalez" at Mon-
terrey, Mex., to unnamed person, n. d., in Morelia, Mex., El Federalista, Nov. 15, 1846 ;
and Samuel C. Reid, Jr., The Scouting Expeditions of McCuttoch's Texas Rangers . . .
(Philadelphia, 1847), p. 77.



occupying Santa Fe unopposed on August 18, 1846, with a
force consisting of Missouri Volunteers and a few regular
soldiers. He soon set out for California in accordance with
his orders, taking only a few regulars with him when he
learned from Kit Carson that Mexican authority there had
already been overthrown.

Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan was briefly in command
in New Mexico, his force augmented by the arrival of Colonel
Sterling Price's Second Missouri Mounted Volunteer Regi-
ment in early October. The Mormon Battalion, somewhat less
than five hundred men, hastened through New Mexico at
about the same period, to join Kearny in California. Doni-
phan led his First Missouri Mounted Volunteers on a short
but strenuous campaign to pacify the Navajos before setting
out for an expected rendezvous at Chihuahua with General
John E. Wool's "Central Division." Doniphan fought a small
action on Christmas Day, 1846, at Brazito, just above El Paso,
which he occupied until February 8, 1847.

Price and his successor, Colonel Edward W. B. Newby of
the Fifth or "First Additional" Illinois Volunteer Regiment,
maintained headquarters at Santa Fe, with detachments dis-
persed at various points off and on until the war's end, such
as Taos, Abiquiu, Mora, Las Vegas, Galisteo, Albuquerque,
Cebolleta, Tome, and Socorro. Price's most severe crisis was
in meeting the insurrection which broke out at Taos on Janu-
ary 19, 1847. Despairing of an early end to the war, and
anxious to hasten its end by emulating Doniphan, Price set
out from El Paso for Chihuahua on March 1, 1848, with a
force including the Third Missouri Mounted Volunteers,
Santa Fe Volunteers, Chihuahua Rangers and some First
Dragoons. He met no organized opposition until he moved
into the town of Santa Cruz de Resales, southeast of Chi-
huahua. He won a battle here but in July, the war ended, he
withdrew, his command in much disorder, through El Paso
and Santa Fe instead of marching to Saltillo and the Gulf of
Mexico as Doniphan had done. Doniphan's earlier expedition
against the Navajos was more closely emulated by an expedi-


tion in 1847 and another in 1848, but no lasting benefit was
obtained by any of these efforts. 2

Johnny Gringo and almost all the other invaders of New
Mexico in this period came into New Mexico along the Santa
Fe Trail. They observed individual Mexicans in servile capa-
cities along the Trail, occasionally a party of Mexican traders
or travelers, and in 1846 some scouts or "spies" in Mexican
military uniforms, but these were only tentative contacts. Not
until they arrived at the first settlements did the invaders
begin to get a real impression of the land and its people. Be-
fore they had a fair view of the first village, either Mora or
Las Vegas, the new arrivals were likely to be besieged by New
Mexicans with food and beverages to sell, "like the huxter-
women after a steamboat," as young Susan Shelby Magoffin
wrote. The food included tortillas, mutton, cheese, and a few
fruits and vegetables in season; the beverages were goat's
milk, whiskey and aguardiente (native brandy). Mora and
Las Vegas were both recently settled. The former was very
small; descriptions lead one to suppose only a score or two
of population. American reactions varied widely. "Nothing
could be more discouraging to men fated to remain a whole
year in Mexican territory than the first view of this town,"
wrote a New York volunteer. 3 A Marylander, on the other
hand, held that "The sight was most pleasant to our eyes,
accustomed as they were for forty-four days to a wild
waste." Perhaps he was thinking primarily of the "pretty
Mexican woman, with clean white stockings," mentioned by
Lieutenant W. H. Emory and Private Marcellus B. Edwards,

2. Howard Louis Conard, Uncle Dick Wootton, the Pioneer Frontiersman of the
Rocky Mountain Region., Milo M. Quaife, ed. (Chicago, 1957), pp. 204-218; Averam B.
Bender, "Government Explorations in the Territory of New Mexico, 1846-1859," NEW
MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW, IX, 252-53. There may have been two Navajo expeditions in
1847, one early in the year and another, according to Private Philip G. Ferguson, in
September. Ralph P. Bieber, ed., Marching with the Army of the West, 1846-1848, by
Abraham Robinson Johnston, Marcettus Ball Edwards [and] Philip Gooch Ferguson
(Glendale, 1936), pp. 320-21.

3. Stella M. Drumm, ed., Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico; the Diary of
Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846-1847 (New Haven, 1926), p. 90. Some of the houses were
partly dug-out, exceptionally poor even for New Mexico. Frank S. Edwards, A Cam-
paign in New Mexico with Colonel Doniphan (Philadelphia, 1847), p. 41. See also Josiah
Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, Max. L. Moorhead, ed. (Norman, 1954), p. 146.


as well as of the countryside here as contrasted with the tree-
less plains behind them. "This is a beautiful country of moun-
tains & valleys of Water fine pine & Spruce trees &c,"
commented a Mormon. 4

Las Vegas's population was about three hundred. 5 Here
the simile came into play which was applied by Johnny Gringo
very frequently to towns built of adobes : the town looked like
a large brick-kiln. The area contained fields of corn, wheat,
onions, squash, melons and chile, which were attractive
enough, but the town itself was apparently a disappointment
to all. "A ruinous and dilapidated appearance," said one ; "a
sight not very pleasing to the eye of an American," said an-
other, discussing "the long rows of houses . . . with small
holes for doors and windows, and the dirty streets and goat
pens." 6

But the invaders pressed on for Santa Fe, knowing that
these settlements were on the New Mexican frontier and
therefore cruder than the older regions of New Mexico. They
were no doubt encouraged to find that San Miguel was larger
than any previously-encountered town. Susan Magoffin
thought it was cleaner, too, and she was finding the people
"decidedly polite," and free and easy in their manners, which
pleased her. 7

Santa Fe was much larger, a veritable city of perhaps five
thousand, more or less, according to how much territory the
city was presumed to include. 8 But Johnny Gringo and others
had tended to let their expectations run too high. Private
Daniel Hastings recorded his reaction :

Great indeed was the contrast between the beautiful and mag-
nificent city which my imagination had pictured, and the low

4. William H. Richardson, Journal of Doniphan's Expedition (Columbia, Mo.: re-
printed from The Missouri Historical Review, 1928), p. 35. William H. Emory, Notes of
a Military Reconnaissance . . ., Ross Calvin, ed. (Albuquerque, 1961), p. 46; Bieber,
ed., Marching, pp. 151-52. Robert S. Bliss, "The Journal of Robert S. Bliss, with the
Mormon Battalion," Utah Historical Quarterly, IV, 74.

5. See Notes and Documents on the Population of New Mexico, 1846-1849, below.

6. Bieber, ed., Marching, p. 314.

7. Drumm, ed., Magoffin Diary, p. 98.

8. "A stranger is very apt to imagine it smaller than it really is, extending, as it
does, a considerable distance up and down the creek. . . ." Ralph Paul Bieber, ed.,
Journal of a Soldier under Kearny and Doniphan, 1846-1847, by George Rutledge Gibson
(Glendale, 1935), p. 209. See Notes and Documents on population, below.


dirty and inferior place which I then beheld. . . . perfect
contempt was my predominant impression while beholding
Santa Fe for the first time.

Private M. B. Edwards went into more particulars :

... a city known all over the world and what sort of a city do
you suppose it is, Well it is a dirty filthy place built entirely of
mud and flat roofed houses it covers a considerable extent of
ground but chiefly corn fields the city of course has a filthy
appearance from the width of the streets which are very nar-
row and walled in with mud fences the houses of mud and not
whitewashed and the women wetting right in the street in plain
view no diference who is present . . . No people in the world
have been more overrated than this. 9

All accounts lead one to the inescapable conclusion that
Santa Fe was, indeed, a crowded, hectic, unpleasant place in
the early months of Johnny Gringo's invasion, and to some
extent throughout the period here considered. When Johnny
arrived, he and his animals were tired from their long trip,
and often very hungry. The resources of the Santa Fe area
were utterly insufficient to meet the new demand, either in
food or in shelter. "The country around Santa Fe is the most
dreary & desolate that ever caused the eye to ache by gazing
upon," one man wrote. The careless and unclean habits of the
Santa Feans were certainly matched by Johnny Gringo, how-
ever. Private Hastings wrote :

The roads and corrals are strewed with dead animals produc-
ing a most unhealthy and disagreeable stench, so much so that
one can scarcely pass through some of the back streets. Thirty
five mules starved to death in one corral within two days. . . .
Crows are very numerous and tame, devouring the filthy car-
casses within a few yards of the men. 10

9. D. H. Hastings, Personal account: "With Doniphan in Mexico," Justin Harvey
Smith Papers, Vol. 15, Latin American Collection, University of Texas Library, Aug.
20, 1846. M. B. Edwards to brother Joseph, Aug. 23, 1846, Mexican War Envelope,
Missouri Historical Society.

10. Henry B. Judd to unnamed person, Dec. 10, 1848. Thomas Sidney Jesup Papers,
Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress. Hastings, Personal account, n. d. [Aug.-
Sep. 1846]. Over a year later the situation apparently remained little changed. The
Sa/nta F6 Republican newspaper protested against "the filth and dirt about town . . .
the putrid carcasses of animals which are permitted to rot all over it ... the decayed
and decaying matter in all the streets and corrals, and private places. . . ." Nov. 20,


The animals had to be sent away from Santa Fe for pasturage,
and a large number of the soldiers similarly.

When the bitterly cold winter weather came it reduced the
stench, but proved a severe trial to the men in Santa Fe. Un-
heated rooms and poor tents were bad enough; guard and
other duty became intolerable for the ill-equipped men in
some instances. Construction on Fort Marcy was temporarily
halted in December 1846, because of the weather. 11 The mili-
tary routine continued in a general pattern, however. The
Plaza, already a promenade and marketplace, became also an
artillery park and drill field ; the open area north of the Plaza,
beyond the Governor's Palace, became the "General Parade
Ground." Company parades were held at 8 A.M., which coin-
cided with guard-mounting, and at 4 P.M. Tattoo was at 10
P.M. Picket guards one-half mile or more from the Plaza and
a curfew were necessary to maintain any semblance of good
order. 12

One of the few entertainments we have, [wrote Lieutenant
George R. Gibson] is the artillery band at tattoo, who play
several tunes every evening between the calls. To hear the mar-
tial notes of a bugle [on] a clear, calm, lovely evening is always
soul stirring, but to have three or four good musicians . . .
nightly play some old and favorite air ... is certainly a pleasure
of no small consequence. . . .

Gibson was writing in terms of pleasures of a high order, but
these were not the pleasures with which Santa Fe was pri-
marily identified, which were gambling and drinking and the
vices associated therewith. "Each day finds us in a more reck-
less and depraved condition," lamented the high-minded
Hastings, discussing a Christmastime "frolic" in which most
of the officers participated. "Saloons, gambling dens, and
dance halls remained open day and night, seven days in the

11. The fort was already in "a defensible state" on Nov. 6, 1846. See series of
letters of Engineer Lieutenant Jeremy F. Gilmer from Santa Fe, 1846-47, especially
those dated Sep. 23, Nov. 6, 23, and Dec. 9, 1846, in Lenoir Family Papers, No. 2,
Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina. Gilmer superintended
the construction of Fort Marcy in this period.

12. Orders No. 63, Headquarters Army of New Mexico, Oct. 28, 1846, Adjutant
General's Office Manuscript Orders, National Archives.


week," in the fall of 1846, a New Mexican recalled matter-of-
factly. 13

There was not much at Santa Fe, aside from the commer-
cial diversions, for the occupation of Johnny Gringo's idle
hours. The heart of town, the Plaza, could be surveyed
quickly : cottonwood trees along the outer edge of the side-
walk, sustained by a small ditch running from the river;
portales supported by rough poles along the front of the one-
story buildings on every side ; very tall flagpole in the center
with a very large United States flag waving from it, "silk
probably 30 by 15 feet, in 1846" ; and many, many nondescript
dogs. On the north side of the Plaza lay the Governor's Palace,
partly in a bad state of decay, including barracks and jail and
former custom-house, with thick adobe walls and "as few
doors and windows as possible," the windows "glazed," or
equipped with isinglass. On the south side were the military
chapel, or oratory, no longer in use ; opposite, shops and resi-
dences and a large room which Josiah Gregg called the "Casa,
Consistorial of the Alcaldes." Away from the Plaza the streets
were, of course, irregular, and the houses interspersed with
fields. San Francisco Street was considered the main street,
probably because it led to the parochial church, the most im-
portant of the city's five churches. 14

This was likely the church in whose "mud steeple" Robert
S. Bliss counted five bells. It did not impress Johnny Gringo
favorably, outside or inside, but perhaps it is not fair that the
most detailed description of the interior at this period is
through the very critical eye of an artist, Alfred S. Waugh,

13. Bieber, ed., Gibson Journal, p. 256. Hastings, Personal account, Dec. 26, 1846.
W. H. H. Allison, "Santa Fe in 1846 ; Recollections of Col. F. Perea," Old Santa Fe,
II, 397.

14. See especially : J. W. Abert, Report of Lieutenant J. W. Abert, of His Exami-
nation of New Mexico, in the If ears 1846-47, H. Ex. Doc. No. 41, 30 Cong., 1 Sess, pp.
455-56 ; Allison, "Santa Fe," 393-95 ; Bieber, ed., Gibson Journal, pp. 213, 255 ; Bliss,
"Journal," 75 ; H. Bailey Carroll and J. Villasana Haggard, trans., Three New Mexico
Chronicles: the "Exposicion" of Don Pedro Bautista Pino, 1812; the "Ojeada" of Lie.
Antonio Barreiro, 1832; and the Additions by Don Jose Agustin de Escudero, 1849
(Albuquerque, 1942), pp. 85-86; Edwards, Campaign, pp. 45-47; Gregg, Commerce;
and John F. McDermott, ed., Travels in Search of the Elephant: the Wanderings of
Alfred S. Waugh, Artist, in Louisiana, Missouri, and Santa Fe, in 1845-6 (St. Louis,
1951). p. 120.


who preceded the Army of the West into Santa Fe. The floor
plan was in the form of a cross, he wrote, and it contained

statues of some ecclesiastics painted to resemble the life, as
no doubt the artist supposed. The great altar was bedizened
with a multitude of very paltry pictures and a profusion of
the commonest looking-glasses such as you can buy in the
States for a few dimes, and the drapery was extremely shabby.
Another altar on the great aisle resembled the first in tinsel
splendor; and nearly opposite, was an enclosed seat of con-
siderable length, terminated by another of more ample pro-
portions and covered with crimson cloth. [Here the priest] put
on vestments. . . , 15

Fort Marcy, and the burial-ground for Americans which
rapidly grew on the hillside under its walls, 16 completed
the list of points of interest for Johnny Gringo. Susan
Magoffin was conducted to visit "the Gloriatta, an inclosed
public walk," but she found that, "being planted altogether
in indifferent looking Cotton-woods, it is quite susceptible of
improvement," and one suspects that her gallant escorts were
seeking every possible excuse to lengthen their pleasant ex-
cursion about town with the winsome teen-age bride. 17

Some changes were wrought in the city as time passed,
and there was no greater booster for Santa Fe's improve-
ment than the newspaper, the Santa Fe Republican, which
two young printers, one a volunteer, commenced issuing on
September 10, 1847. In their issue of September 17, they
boasted :

When Genl. KEARNEY [sic] one year ago entered Santa Fe,
at that time there was but one Public House in the place, and
it was so badly kept and supplied that but few paid it a second
visit now we have several, the Missouri House, the Santa Fe
House, Beck & Redmans Hotel and the German Hotel, also
several Private Boarding Houses, the Tables of which are well
supplied and on which our vegetable Potatoes only will be
missed. The Merchant [s] have fitted up large and convenient

15. McDermott, ed., Waugh's Travels, p. 124. See also Bieber, ed., Gibson Journal,
p. 227.

16. Gregg mentioned that American "heretics" were buried on a hill to the north
overlooking Santa Fe, years before the Mexican War. Gregg, Commerce, p. 185.

17. Drumm, ed., Magoffin Diary, pp. 141-42.


rooms in place of the small and crowded ones, and the doors,
windows and other marks of improvement that strike the eye
every where indicates a most rapid improvement. . . . Not a
street in the place presents the appearance it did, this time one
year ago, and if things continue in one year more the whole
appearance of the city will be changed. 18

Santa Fe's improvement did not bring so rapid a trans-
formation, however, that Lieutenant Henry B. Judd would
fail to write, when he arrived there late in 1848, that he was
at "the Siberia of America, the Texas of Texas and the
Gomorrah of the Modern World." 19 The forty-niners saw
several two-story buildings on the Plaza, the Castrense re-
modeled into a warehouse, the leading Exchange Hotel on
the southeast corner commonly called "La Fonda Ameri-
cana," and a substantial proportion of American residents
but still there came the old refrain: "The inhabitants
comprise the lowest and vilest characters, whose time is
mainly occupied in gambling, drunken fandangoes and
debaucheries." 20

Johnny Gringo ranged far and wide over New Mexico.
More's the pity that he left generally scanty records of what
he saw. Perhaps he exhausted his descriptive powers at Santa
Fe and furthermore assumed, with a tourist's typical super-
ficiality, that when he had seen the capital he had "seen it all."
More questions than answers appear when one considers New
Mexico in the period 1846-1849. Where were New Mexico's
boundaries ? Johnny Gringo was quite uncertain, but of course
the United States was too, for several years. It mattered not to
Johnny Gringo, east, north or west, but it should be noted
that the southern boundary under Mexican administration,

18. Bieber, ed., Marching, pp. 320-22. Santa Fe Republican, Sep. 17, 1847. For two
views of accommodations at Santa Fe hotels see the St. Louis Weekly Reveille, Sep. 28,
1846, cited in Bieber, ed., Gibson Journal, p. 215n ; and George D. Brewerton, Overland
with Kit Carson, a Narrative of the Old Spanish Trail in '48 . . . (New York, 1930),
pp. 177-183, 199-200.

19. Judd to "My dear Major," Dec. 10, 1848, Jesup Papers.

20. Lorenzo D. Aldrich, A Journal of the Overland Route to California and the
Gold Mines . . . with Notes by Glen Dawson (Los Angeles, 1950), p. 34. Allison,
"Santa Fe," 401-02. "A member of the Little Rock Company," Arkansas State Demo-
crat, Aug. 31, 1849, cited in Ralph P. Bieber, ed., Southern Trails to California in 1849
(Glendale, 1937), pp. 309-310.


after 1824, did not include El Paso or the not-then-established
settlement of Dona Ana. 21

What was the second city of New Mexico ? The candidates
would have been Albuquerque and Taos, if rivalry had existed.
Apparently Taos was the center of a larger population

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