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Category: Old Times & Old Timers

by Don Bullis,
New Mexico Author


In late March of 1854, a troop of First United States Army Dragoons from Cantonment Burgwin, about sixty strong, encountered a band of Jicarilla Apaches at Cieneguilla (“little marsh”) near the village of Pilar in Taos County.

Some sources reported that the troops, under the command of Lieutenant John Wynn Davidson, were searching for the Apaches in response to reported horse and cattle thefts from local settlers.… Read the rest


By the time the United States Army of the West occupied New Mexico in 1846, the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri to New Mexico had been in use for about 25 years. It and El Camino Real (The Royal Road), which generally followed the Rio Grande south from Santa Fe to various points in Mexico, were the primary trade routes, and thus the main lines of communication, into and out of New Mexico. Mail service from either direction was often described as irregular, and for a time there were only two mail distribution points in New Mexico, one at Santa Fe and the other at Tomé, south of Albuquerque.Read the rest


by Don Bullis

New Mexico Territorial government did not make an auspicious beginning during its first decade, from 1851 to 1861. The first four governors—James S. Calhoun, William Carr Lane, David Meriwether, and Abraham Rencher—faced formidable challenges and were obliged to function with few resources and little support from Washington City (as Washington, D. C., was called at the time). These were men who had been successful in life before they reached New Mexico: two of them were lawyers, one a medical doctor, and one an army colonel.… Read the rest


by Don Bullis

The affair began at about 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 1, 1930. A 19-year-old named Bonifacio Torres had been declared incorrigible by the court, upon a complaint made by his mother, Mrs. Juan Torres. Valencia County Sheriff Ignacio Aragon, a deputy named Baca and Belen City Marshal Daniel Sanchez went to the home of young Torres’ grandmother, near Jarales, where the boy had been staying. The first encounter between officers and the young man seemed amiable enough, and Torres asked whether he would be sent to reform school or the penitentiary.… Read the rest


by Don Bullis

Milt Yarberry (1849-1883) was born in Arkansas as John Armstrong, according to one source, although he used several aliases over the years. He began his career as a killer and thief at an early age in both Arkansas and Texas and departed from both as a fugitive and settled for a time in Colorado. Two of his better known associates were outlaws Dave (Mysterious Dave) Mather and Dave (Dirty Dave) Rudabaugh, both of whom were associated with Billy the Kid at one time or another.Read the rest


General Stephen Watts Kearny (1794-1848) and his “Army of the West” occupied Santa Fe on August 18, 1846 without firing a shot (although considerable blood was shed only a few months later with the Taos Revolt in January 1847). In December 1846, though, as the United States prosecuted the Mexican War (1846-1848), there was a battle fought in southern New Mexico that the Americans called the Battle of Brazito. (The Mexicans called it La Battalla de los Temascalitos.”)Read the rest


Certainly one of the most intrepid soldiers on New Mexico’s Spanish frontier was Juan Bautista de Anza (1735-1788) who served as colonial Governor from 1778 to 1788.
He was born at Fronteras, Sonora, into a family with at least two generations of military experience, and he carried on that tradition by entering the army in 1752. He advanced through the ranks rapidly. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1755 and Captain by 1760.… Read the rest