WPA Mrs. Mary Burleson
Writer: Edith L. Crawford
Carrizozo, N. Mex.
Narrator: Mrs. Mary Burleson, Carrizozo,
New Mexico, Age 78.
Our family left West Port Mo.,
which is Kansas City, Mo., now, in April 1865, and arrived in Mora, New Mexico,
in September 1865, we came over the Santa Fe, trail in a prairie schooner drawn
by six oxen and our milk cow for this was the only way we had of bringing our
milk cow with us, we were in a Government Train guarded by soldiers, as the
Indians were on the war-path at that time and were always on the look out for
settlers that were moving out to the west.
Mr. Boggs, the Foreman of the
Government train told us that there was a band of Indians just ahead of us and
that they had attacked a wagon train, killed all the people, stole the horses
and food and burned the wagons. The Government train that we were with was
hauling supplies to Fort Union and Fort
Craig. In tho'se days the
Indians used to hold up the stage coaches kill the drivers and all the people
and take the horses. Sometimes they would burn the coaches and mail and then
again they would leave everything and just take the horses.
We came by way of the Raton Pass
and left the Government train there. Mr. Tipton and some friends met us there
and escorted us to Mora, New Mexico, for the
Indians were bad in New Mexico
in those days. We saw many large herds of buffalo on our trip. It rained a lot
that summer and we had no hardships as to feed and water. It took us from April
to September. I remember the great event in our home was the arrival of the St.
Louis Globe Democrat and when it came all the neighbors would come to our house
and my father would read the paper to them by candle-light. We made all our own
candles in those days. Sometimes it happened that we would not get the paper on
time and then we would hear that the Indians had held up a stage coach and
burned the mail. How we would miss the paper. My father took this same paper
for 50 years. There were no schools much in tho'se days. Sometimes a teacher
was hired by private subscription and all the children in a neighborhood would
go to school and often the children would know as much as the teacher.
I was married to Mr. Pete Burleson
July 21, 1878. My husband was sheriff in Colfax County
for four years. He hanged the first man by law in New Mexico in the year of 1878, at Cimarron
Colfax Co., N.Mex. He had the chaplain come from Fort Union
and offer a prayer for the prisoner. He was a negro and was sentenced to be
hung for killing a white man and
his son 12 years old.
We came to Lincoln
in 1890. We lived at the V Ranche where Mr. Burleson was foreman for several
years. Then we moved to Lincoln, New Mexico, where my husband was deputy
sheriff for years. He drove the second spike on the Santa Fe Railroad when it
crossed the line from Colorado into New Mexico.
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