Dateline: June 9, 2020

Updated: August 5, 2021

New Mexico

Comments on New Mexico?

Cloudcroft, looking toward White Sands.

Lincoln Courthouse.

Joe Bauman, Roswell Rockets

Gil Carter's home run went 650 feet.

Gil Carter

Jal, New Mexico range ride, by sculptor, Brian Norwood.

Dee Harkey's badge

Dee Harkey selling his book

Dee Harkey in front of book store

Dee Harkey and family, 1896

Dee Harkey as a young man, perhaps

Dee Harkey and family, 1919

Dee Harkey's badge

Dee Harkey selling his book

Dee Harkey in front of book store

Dee Harkey and family, 1896

Dee Harkey as a young man, perhaps

Dee Harkey and family, 1919

Dee Harkey in 1943

Dee Harkey in 1909, on the right, maybe

A cartoon of Harkey and Madero

Cowboys working for John Slaughter

John Slaughter, catteleman of Texas and New Mexico

Dave Kemp, Sheriff of Phenix, NM

Last house in Phenix, New Mexico, circa 1940s

Last house in Phenix, New Mexico, 1956

Map of Tunstall Regulators operations, see left

Notorious Jones boys of Seven Rivers

Interior of restored Tunstall Store, Lincoln, NM

Interior of restored Tunstall Store, Lincoln, NM

Interior of restored Tunstall Store, Lincoln, NM

Interior of restored Tunstall Store, Lincoln, NM

Interior of restored Tunstall Store, Lincoln, NM

John Chisum

John Chisum

Sallie Chisum

Sallie Chisum

Cowboys working for John Chisum

Chisum Ranch

Carlsbad, New Mexico, 1890

Seven Rivers Warriors

Dee Harkey as a young man, maybe

Dee Harkey about 1900

Pecos River Flume at Carlsbad

Frank Kindel riding across the flume, no hands.

Pecos River at Puerto de Luna

Charles Eddy

New Mexico is a paramnesic state, enchanted certainly, and often misplaced by cultural amnesia concerning its location and existence. New Mexico Magazine's famous, "One of our Fifty is Missing," (click picture at left) testifies to its El Dorado-ness, but traveling west across the Texas panhandle, or east across the Arizona border, reveals a sagebrush Brigadoon calling itself, "The Land of Enchantment."

The magazine dates its running tretise on geographical dementia to the early seventies, but many remember spotting "One of Our Forty-Eight is Missing" in the fifities. The usual parade of geographic delinquents include postal officials demanding customs forms, and mail order companies refusing service to "foreign countries," but the depths of New Mexico perplexity have never been plumbed.

Several New Mexico meditations muster in the Attic of Gallimaufry, including a look at lawmen (and lawlessness) in southern New Mexico, some recollections about attending school in Carlsbad, and Las Cruces, a radio announcer from Carlsbad, a Vietnam-era chum, a fort, a stadium, and a quaint little town as paramnesiac as New Mexico itself.

Albert Fountain vanished on the White Sands in 1896.
The Pecos Valley hosted the Lincoln County War, and other nastinss.
A life's lesson for Carlsbad's class of 1960. Put the Money on a Horse.
The local cow college used WW II barracks for dorms into the 1960s.
A gentleman from Carlsbad invented the "People News Format." Look it up.
Calvin Maxwell, MIA, settled into the memories of people he never met.
Fort Selden.
The little town most often considered fictional.
Magic in the Desert.

On the rest of this page we have other salty meanders, largely from southern New Mexico, because that's where the really scruffy stuff happens.

The New Mexico Territorial name originated in 1563 when Spanish explorer Francisco de Ibarra headed north looking for the golden city of Copala (Cibola), and announced he'd found a Nuevo Mexico. Juan de Onate, first colonial governor of New Mexico, and comprehensively unpleasant fellow, made the name official in 1598, before fleeing back south.

President Polk's Manifest Destiny war with Mexico brought New Mexico to the United States. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) set the major boundaries, and the Gadsden Purchase (1853) acquired the Gila River area for a southern railroad route.

The current boundaries formed gradually. First, Texas' claim to a swath east of the Rio Grande died when Texas became the 28th state in 1845. Later, New Mexico's claim, based on a surveyor's error, to some of Texas' Permian Basin petered out. When the Tucson area seceded in 1862, and joined the Confederacy, Lincoln split New Mexico Territory roughly in half, calling the western side, including the rebellious part, the U. S. Territory of Arizona. Texas tried to claw back its New Mexico Territory during the Civil War, but in 1862 the battle of Glorieta Pass soured them on the notion.

New Mexico ghosts linger on every roadway and butte. Crater, New Mexico has vanished like a dust devil, somewhere west of Las Cruces. Click the image to learn more than we actually know about this elusive used-to-be.

After the war the new boundaries stuck, although Texas still sometimes makes annoying gestures toward Albuquerque.

The Territory of New Mexico lobbied for statehood for decades, but there was little interest. It seemed like a pretty rustic, and violent place (it was), and there was always an opposition of indifference. In the early part of the twentieth century Teddy Roosevelt was against it, but his successor, Taft, broke with him and New Mexico became the 47th state, January 6, 1912, a month and 8 days before Arizona.

The late Pete Hendrickson (1936-2017), NMSU history professor, and all around good fellow, discussed the agonies of New Mexico statehood at the Alamogordo Public Library in 1977. You can listen in nearby.

Although the territorial government never issued automobile license plates, some local authorities required them as early as 1910, two years before statehood. Bill Johnston and Richard Miller, of Organ, New Mexico (see left), share their extensive research into New Mexico license plates on their web site (linked from the picture). You might want to start with a look at the "Quick links" tab.

Eric Taylor shares his extensive research on porcelain license plates at his web site. The picture of a 1920 motorcycle plate (right) links to the New Mexico section of his web site. You'll probably want to check out his other research as well.

By the way, if you're wondering about Organ, New Mexico, no, it's not a local misspelling of Oregon. It has nothing to do with a desert-longing for the Northwest Territory, nor oregano, nor El Orejon, nor ouragan, nor an engraver's error, nor any other disputed origin of our 33rd state's name. It's a tiny town in the San Augustin Pass separating the Organ Mountains from the San Andres Mountains to the north.

The image links to the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument web site.

In 1964 I refilled my radiator at this Organ station before breaking down on my way up to Cloudcroft. It links to a modern-day take on Organ (I never ate at the sandwitch shop).

The Organ Mountains lie on the east side of the Rio Grande Rift Valley, just north of the Franklin Mountains, and are named for their pipe-like flutes that rise above Las Cruces, suggesting an organ. Our old friend Don Juan Onate noted them in his journal when he blazed Spain's Camino Real del Adentro from Mexico City to Santa Fe.

Roadside sign near Pat Garrett murder site. Click for popup about Garrett's death.

The range slightly northwest of the Organs is where one of Onates' band, Pedro Robledo, managed to drown, and it bears his name, but the Organ's seem to have been named by some unknown Europeans in 1682.

Organ, besides being home to the state's foremost license plate archive, gets a footnote as the place Pat Garrett was riding away from when he was shot in the back near Alamedo Arroyo. There's allegedly a plaque at the site, but it's hard to find. Click the link at right to get some immediate information or the one above about Fountain and the Tularosa Basin to learn more about Garrett's last moments.

The image links to a posting on RVdotnet.

To see some southern New Mexico scenery, without traveling, follow along with an RV enthusiast. The first part of his trip is in Texas, so the link (left) skips most of that boring stuff. Scroll down a bit and you'll be in Lincoln, New Mexico.

Our guide visits the courthouse, the Tunstall store, and other Lincoln County War relics. From there he goes to Fort Stanton, finds an early picture of Black Jack Pershing of Pancho Villa/WW I fame, and discovers Fort Stanton was a German Detainee camp during WW II.

Tunstall store Video.

He heads off to White Sands Missile Range, where he sniffs evidence of the atomic bomb and early missile programs, then to Fort Selden (see above link) in the Mesilla Valley, where General Douglas McArthur learned to ride and shoot, on to Percha Dam State Park, Gila National Forest, and back to Trinity Site: the grand tour of things west of the Pecos Valley.

SILENTIUM

A preference for human drama over popular sensation can render trivia questions untrivial. Consider this. When Barry Bonds hit homerun number 73 in 2001, whose professional baseball record fell? Right, it wasn't Mark McGuire's unless you read "major league" baseball instead of "professional." The answer is Joe Bauman's mark of 72 homeruns in 1954, when he was playing for the Roswell Rockets. Joe Bauman gets us right inside the multi-threaded human drama.

Joe Bauman hitting a homerun in 1954. The image links to some NY Times journalism. Remember this story if you ever visit the ballpark in Roswell, especially if you're 83.

In those days Roswellians weren't fully woke to their recent invasion by Martians. They were still going about things unaware they'd been elevated to Harvey-House status on the intergalactic highway. The cold war and baseball were their diversions. The Rockets played in the Longhorn league that year.

Jim Waldrip remembering Bauman.

The Rockets red glare was challenged by the Carlsbad Potashers in 1954, and the fertilizer boys were too much for them. The Rockets were second in the Longhorn rodeo, but along the way Joe Bauman grabbed some extra cash by launching 72 homeruns.

Much of what we read about Bauman originates with a former teammate, Jim Waldrip. New Mexico Magazine tagged after him a few years ago and ran the article by Toby Smith linked at right.

Joe was one of those rarities in American celebrity, a man who valued what we redundantly call his "personal life" above the promise of celebrity. There are numerous sources to get the known facts, but if you want a brilliantly written, feel-of-the-season, 1954-centric narrative of Bauman's chase for the record, try Joe Posnanski's article, published on his website at the link below, or the one on Gary Cieradkowski's blog next to it.

Read about Bauman's '54 season.
Gary Cieradkowski's take on Bauman.
Bob Rive's SABR article.
MiLB article
Albuquerque Journal
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
L. M. Sutter's book
Toby Smith's book
Left on Base in the Bush Leagues, Gaylon H White.

Bauman's human drama became personal for me when I discovered a long lost branch of my mother's family, including a relative named Pat Stasey. He managed the Roswell Rockets during Joe's record-setting year. He moved Joe up from cleanup spot to leadoff, giving him more at bats for the year. Stasey's professional baseball career spanned the years 1938 to 1955. He was a fearsome hitter whose best days were at Big Spring, Texas.

He was in and out of Carlsbad playing the local Potashers in the early 1950s, and we moved there in 1955, but we knew nothing about that branch of the family, and Pat may never have visited while we were there anyway. After retiring his bat, he went to the Midland Indians as GM. Pat's picture, below, links to a story about his legacy in the Stasey family. He also appears in the entertaining, "Left on Base in the Bush Leagues," by Gaylon H. White.

He is featured in the book, "Stealing Home," written by his daughter, Patricia Stasey Aylor, another long-lost relative. She wrote about her father's love of the land and his love of baseball. The Stasey family hold an annual family reunion at Stasey Field, near, Chalk Mountain, Texas. She invited Gaylon H White, author of "Left on Base in the Bush Leagues," to the reunion one year to fill him in on her fathers' life.

Stats Crew on 54 Rockets.
Review of Pat Stasey Aylor's book.
Stasey Field.
Pat Stasey.

SILENTIUM

This is the photo Charley Montgomery used to measure Gil Carter's homerun in Carlsbad, NM. It links to an article in Elysian Fields Quarterly.

I've been reminded of another New Mexico baseball phenomenon, this one at Montgomery Field in Carlsbad. On August 11, 1959 Carlbad Potashers outfielder Gil Carter hit a 730 foot homerun off Odessa Dodgers pitcher Wayne Schaper. Carter hit a first-pitch fastball into a peach tree two blocks away.

The homeowner found the ball under her tree among some peaches dislodged by the mighty thwack. Club owner, Charley Montgomery (see name of field, above), used the local sports editor's aerial photograph, and some plat maps (Charley developed the neighborhood near the field) and calculated the distance. The "Carlsbad Current-Argus" documented Mr. Carter's feat, as did "The Sporting News," and "Sports Illustrated" (twenty-one years later). Fearing ridicule, these and other stories arbitrarily reduced the measured distance to 650 feet.

The Minor League Baseball Encyclopedia uses the shorter, baseless, distance for its official citation. At right, is the aerial photo used to measure the length of the drive. It links to the Elysian Fields Quarterly article of 2001 by Jerry Dorbin.

Archie McCoy remembers it this way: "I was the batboy for the Potashers the night Carter hit that homerun. It cleared the alley, the house, and the street , landing in the yard across the street. I don't recall if it was backyard or not. I doubt the physics of hitting a baseball 700 feet is possible without a good roll or bouncing off concrete. The history of baseball on the major league level is high 500's. Gil Carter was a big strong man that could hit the ball a long way."

Carter later remarked, "I haven't hit a ball harder and certainly not that far. I watched it go, and it came down two blocks from the ballpark. I knew it was something special. I could feel it in my bat when I hit it. I just stood there and watched it."

Gil Carter inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Carter played in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Giants and the Memphis Mud Hens before signing with Chicago Cubs scout, and legendary Negro Leagues player, Buck O'Neil. Gil played three years in the Cub's minor league system.

Gil Carter died in 2015 in Topeka Kansas. He has been inducted into the Shawnee County Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame, and received the Pride of Kansas Award from the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

His short professional career ended with the Northern League All-Star team in 1960. He later drove a bus in Wichita, played semi-pro baseball, fast pitch softball, and did extensive work with youth programs in Wichita and Topeka. He helped the Wichita Rapid Transit Dreamliners win championships in 1962 and 1963.

The picture at left links to an article in the July 25, 2015 Wichita Eagle, about Carter's award from the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Below are links to more things Gil Carter, along with a video that features an interview with him late in life.

SILENTIUM

Brian Norwood wrangled this scene onto the grazing land outside Jal, New Mexico. He calls it "The Trail Ahead," and it links to a short version of its story.

Our neighbors up around Santa Fe and Taos sometimes forget there is any enchantment south of Albuquerque. That’s understandable given the rich culture and extravagant beauty of that area. No one could blame them for being provincially enchanted. Driving into the desert, though, will get you to things like this. These cowboys and critters grace the skyline outside Jal in a perpetual range-ride worth seeing. They're the work of artist Brian Norwood, and there is a story (click picture) about his work, "The Trail Ahead." It serves as primer to the little town of Jal, and endnote to the old west. You should note that the Wikipedia entry for Jal misplaces its history by about a century. The Cowden brothers arrived in the late (not the "early") 1800s.

Or you could pause further north (see below), and catch a glimpse of Norwood's "Fortress on the Plains," a WW II B-17 and crew at the old Hobbs Army Airfield (linked to Norwood's web site).

Below the B-17 you see the tunnel between Cloudcroft and Alamogordo. It links to some bikers riding down from High Rolls.

Norwood dedicated this sculpture of a B-17 and crew, called "Fortress on the Plains," on Veterans Day, 2008, at the former Army Airfield, in Hobbs, NM. It links to his website.
This familiar drive for anyone in the area, can be a lesson in patience if going up the mountain behind an 18-wheeler.

Finally, we get to the obligatory video of Carlsbad Caverns, where I was fired from my first job, back in the days when I wasn't quite sure about that "permanent record" business.

If you decide to go to Mudgap, a little north and west of Las Cruces, don't bother with google or your GPS. You won't find it and they will claim to know nothing. The Army also claims to know nothing. It's almost as if they don't want you to know it exists. No end of enchantment.

Who in the world cares about New Mexico?


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Death of Pat Garrett
True West Magazine gives us a synopsis of things, and some neat pictures.
The Friends of Pat Garrett are trying to preserve the old home-made memorial, allegedly made by his son after consultation with a witness.
The History Net gives us some diapassionate (mostly) scholarly language on the subject of Garrett's demise.
True West jumps back in to tie everything southern-New-Mexico into a tidy knot by linking Billy the Kid, Garrett's death, and flying saucers all together, if a little circumstantially.

Pat Garrett was one of those larger-than-life characters who rode off into the sunset around the turn of the twentieth century. We're always a little surprised to find such people also did a lot of ordinary things. Garrett made a couple of stabs at being a rancher, as well as an investor. He lived in the Pecos Valley for a while, and had something to do with various irrigation schemes.

Garrett seems to have been especially good at making enemies. We're not talking about a few misbranded strays and courtroom clashes. We mean craw-choking, gristle-hard, bloody claw, death-on-sight enemies. The kind who could reasonably have waited thirty years to get a good shot at their man.

The putative murder site, and actual memorial are a few miles south of Organ on a utility-pole right of way, which will help preserve the spot. Why it's there is speculative, perhaps because the right of way follows the old road (unlikely), or because the old road happened to intersect the modern-day right of way at that propitious point, or, maybe, because the right of way was an easily reached location close enough to the murder site to suit those with some Sakrete, water, and monumental intentions. Old timers tell a different story (see nearby).

Google has made the site official. And it's visited by the camera-carrying curious, but maybe not frequently. It seems to attract the historically minded. But we also see evidence of temporal tourists whose response involves beer bottle caps and, one imagines, squeezing off a few rounds at nearby porcelain insulators. These latter are no doubt kinsmen with the hammer-strike emotional, and hawk-shriek intellectual milieu of Pat Garrett's own time.

Who shot Pat Garrett and why are mysteries for a future age, but the dust is settling pretty thick over the details and motives. On the other hand, if Garrett hadn't claimed to have shot Billy the Kid, and he probably actually did, his death would have been one of hundreds that slipped over the gold-tinged western horizon of frontier New Mexico, without a thought, memory or lingering question.

There are a lot of theories, and some of them are linked under the pictures. Storylines streak away from Garrett like tobacco juice splatters on a drag rider's shirtfront. Oh, by the way, the Coroner for the Garrett murder? W. C. Field. You can't make this stuff up.

We've included this map to help orient you, and you can get in close and inspect the terrain with a Google satellite look. Red dots indicate the roadside memorial, the actual memorial, Organ, and Mesilla where Garrett was headed.

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Crater, New Mexico, the ultimate ghost town
The only known picture of Crater, NM, is found on a remaining fragment of a website about Luna County.

Crater, New Mexico appears in historical lists of Dona Ana Post Offices. It was established on February 9, 1933, and was decommissioned on June 15, 1935. Benjamin Scott was the only Post Master, and he presumably owned the pictured Mobilgas filling station.

The above facts can be found in the "La Posta," the Postal History Journal of May 1976 (see nearby). That issue contained an article by Richard Helbock and Ruth Dolezal about the New Mexico post offices of Dona Ana County. Richard and Ruth also included a map, showing the location of Crater (see below).

The Albuquerque Journal, November 1931, informs us a "Ben Scott" had applied to be the postmaster of Longview, a town in Dona Ana County about 22 miles west of Las Cruces. There is no Longview, NM, and we've found no record of one. Crater, NM was about 22 miles west of Las Cruces.

Here's the Slothful beginning of Crater.

A New Mexico marriage license for Benjamin Scott and Pearl Gladys Eagen, dated August 26, 1935, a few months after the post office was decommissioned, lists their residence as Crater, New Mexico. They are the only known residents of Crater, New Mexico, and he is undoubtedly, by that time, the ex-postmaster. The license tells us Scott was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1873 (age 62 in 1935), and that Pearl was born in San Fransisco (sic), California, in 1898 (age 37). This is our best source for information about the Crater, New Mexico postmaster.

Records from Los Angeles, County, California register the marriage of Sarah Eagan and Benjamin Scott on November 17, 1914. The 1920 census captured our Benjamin Scott living in Antioch, California, with wife Sarah, and step-daughter Pearl, presumably his bride in 1935. At that time Scott was operating a hotel, and the census tells us he arrived in the U. S. in 1897, and was naturalized in 1913.

One certainty: there were many Benjamin Scotts born around 1873, several from Scotland, and more than one living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Sorting them is problematic.

A Benjamin Scott made application for citizenship in 1918. He said he was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1871, and came to this country as a Marine Fireman and Wiper on board the SS Cancelor (see application linked from nearby picture). If he was our Crater, New Mexico, Scott, then there are discrepancies in birth years and citizenship years.

This enlarged detail of the above picture links to the May, 1976 publication of "La Posta," a publication on post office history that has information about Crater, New Mexico.
It's too bad this is not our Benjamin Scott. If it were we'd have a picture of him.

Another Benjamin Scott arrived in 1919 claiming to be from Aberdeen, and announcing the profession of "Roofing Contractor."

From the 1940 census, five years after the demise of the Crater PO, we learn Benjamin, Pearl and 4-year-old daughter Amy, 1-year-old daughter Margaret, and a lodger, Harry Roberts, were living in rural San Diego County, California. Ben was employed as a cook in a local restaurant.

To make the Benjamin Scott story a little more convoluted, consider that there are two Ben F. Scotts buried in the old Las Cruces IOOF cemetery, Ben F. Sr. who died in 1923, and his son, Ben F. Jr., deceased in 1907. These could well be the Scotts associated with the Las Cruces news articles, below, and the postmaster Benjamin Scott, very likely has nothing to do with them. The IOOF Ben Scotts were well known in Las Cruces, the elder Scott was a civil war veteran (born 1837), and some of their history is captured in an Internet accessible "Genealogy of the Scott and Galloway Families."

A Las Cruces news account of May, 1908 tells us the wife of Benjamin F. Scott, together with John S. Hundley, purchased a tract of land for $1100.

Another newspaper article from December 1921, tells us "Benjamin F. Scott" purchased the home of Lee Reeves in Las Cruces, and from yet another Las Cruces, New Mexico, newspaper article (Rio Grand Republic) of December 7, 1922, we learn Benjamin Scott, of the Las Cruces Scott Hardware Company, suffered a paralyzing stroke. Another Las Cruces newspaper advertisement, August 1922, contains a testament to "Doan's Kidney Pills" from "P. F. Scott, prop. Hardware store, 101 Main Street". Given the vagaries of typesetting, this could be B. F. Scott. Yet another Las Cruces news article mentions "W. W. Scott, the hardware merchant," getting over a cold.

One other resident of Crater, NM has been identified: C. V. Stephens. He's mentioned in the wedding announcement of his son, Clifford O. Stephens, to Eileen Flake in Weatherford, Texas, near Fort Worth, in 1935. The news item says the elder Stephens lives in "Crater, NM."

The Stephens are as hard to find among the historical records as Benjamin Scott. No definite instances of any of them are found beyond the wedding announcement, although some hints are found in Fort Worth. C. V. Stephens may have been a railroad worker, which could have explained his presence in Crater.

That's about all we know, and some of what we know to be irrelevant, about the Crater, New Mexico population and its postmaster.

The unnamed crater south of "Crater, NM," can be seen on this satellite map. Click to enlarge.

Crater, the town, was situated north of a complex of volcanic craters and other geologic artifacts southwest of Las Cruces. Google Maps, Satellite view, shows an unnamed crater about a mile south of the putative location of Crater, NM, down county road C001A from New Mexico 549. That is probably the "Crater" for which Crater is named. The railroad is about another mile further south, and the main cluster of craters is a few more miles further south and east.

Aden Crater is the most prominent of the area's deep holes, and it became famous in 1928 following the discovery of a remarkably preserved Shasta Ground Sloth. We now know the Sloth was around 11,000 years old, but at the time estimates ranged between 500,000 and a million years. There was national publicity at the time, and notoriety (a college student from El Paso fell into the pit and was nearly killed). The Sloth has moved on to Yale, but its longtime resting place has been institutionalized by the Bureau of Land Management, and remains a popular destination for the hardier sort of amateur-explorer tourism.

Perhaps tourism was Benjamin Scott's hope for the future of Crater, NM. Something caused the federal government to authorize him posting mail from there. In the early 1930s the New Deal was plunking infrastructure down like gumdrops, but if there was CCC activity in the area, it has not been discovered.

Drag the green button to fade from Crater, NM, Map to----
Modern Google Map

Progression:

Two maps of the Las Cruces, NM area are displayed, one overlaying the other. The green slider, above, will fade from the old map showing Crater, NM, to a modern Google Map, allowing us to gauge the approximate postion of the now disappeared "town."
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Brian Norwood and "The Trail Ahead"
Brian Norwood's "The Trail Ahead." The second rider from the left is Henry Scott, legendary JAL cowboy. The others are composites of contemporary cowboys. Click picture to enlarge.
Monument Draw, in southeastern New Mexico, and western Texas, was home to the JAL Ranch. The link is to an interactive topographical map of the area. Can you find the Scott Windmill?

The town of Jal, New Mexico is named for the JAL ranch that, between 1885 and the Great War, ran as many as 40, 000 head of cattle around Monument Draw. Norwood's sculpture, "The Trail Ahead," is a direct reference to the JAL ranch, featuring one of its cowboys, Henry Scott, as one of the rider silhouettes.

In 1882 three of the five Cowden brothers bought the JAL brand, and about 100 head of cattle, near Stephenville, Texas in Palo Pinto County. The origin of the JAL brand is speculative, and includes three different local ranchers with the right initials, John Allen Lee, James A. Lawrence, and John A. Lynch.

The brand was applied as three separate letters on the animal's left side: J on the shoulder, A without the cross bar on the side, and L on the hip. It sounds odd to those of us learned in drugstore Cowboyism, but multi-iron branding was not unusual. We hope someone will contact the Attic of Gallimaufry with a picture of the brand.

Click to enlarge this 1880 map of the Cowden brothers' migration from Stephensville, TX to Jal, NM.

The Cowdens ran their cattle on the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River, see map, for a while, and then trailed westward to the new town of Midland (near the Mustang Water Holes), the halfway point between Fort Worth and El Paso on the Texas and Pacific Railroad. Their cattle grazed over a vast range bounded by Horsehead Crossing, Midland, and the Monahans Sandhills.

They continued running the business out of Midland, Texas, the nearest rail shipping point, but in 1885, collected their herd near Monument Draw, New Mexico.

They dug wells, installed windmills, and built a ranch house. Charles Justis started a store nearby, and in 1913 established the first Jal post office. A 1916 drought convinced Justis to move to the Cowden's Muleshoe Wells area, and that's where you'll find Jal today, at the junction of New Mexico Highways 18 and 128.

Henry Scott was one of the longest-lived, and best known, of the JAL Ranch hands. Henry was born in 1877 near Stephenville, TX, and that might be how he came to know the Cowdens.

He went to California, but, around 1900, moved back and began working for the JAL. A young man, and eventual art critic of about 16, worked with Scott for a while. Scott must have been a memorable guy. One news account called him legendary, and his obituary says he was a Permian Basin cowboy and bronc buster for 60 years.

The Odessa American ran a story about Norwood and his range riders in 2006. Click to read.
"That second feller there, was that Henry Scott?" asked the old timer. Picture links to local Jal author Jerry Phillips' history of the sculpture.

Another man who remembered Scott was Tom Linebery of the Frying Pan Ranch, and an early donor to Brian Norwood's sculpture. Linebery asked Norwood to fashion one of the sculpted riders in Henry Scott's image. We've not found any pictures of Scott, but apparently Norwood got hold of one.

The above-mentioned 16-year-old, as an old timer, became Norwood's most effective art critic. We don't know his name, but according to New Mexico Magazine, he approached Norwood shortly after "The Trail Ahead" went onto the Jal skyline. He asked, "That second feller there, was that Henry Scott?" Apparently Norwood got a good likeness of Scott, and says of the old-timer's question, "That's the greatest compliment I will ever receive as an artist."

When you drive through Jal, as you certainly will after hearing about this time-elusive, moseying sculpture, you'll find the long-go scene on the ridge north of town, projected through the years in proxy substance, a tangible poem.

This 1895 picture of some JAL Ranch hands gathered at the chuck wagon probably doesn't include Henry Scott, since he arrived later. Picrure links to a history of the JAL Ranch.