WPA Ambrosio Chavez
Writer: Edith L. Crawford,
Carrizozo, N. Mex.
Narrator: Ambrosio Chavez,
Carrizozo, N. M.
AUG 29 1938
I was born in 1866, in Valencia County, at Manzano, New
Mexico. In 1879 my mother and father moved from
Manzano to Lincoln,
New Mexico. I was thirteen years
old then and I remember that we moved in two wagons drawn by oxen. We had no
trouble with the Indians on the trip. Once when we camped for the night a dog
came around the camp and was trying to get into things and I took my father's
gun and shot the dog. I thought I was a very big boy to shoot my father's gun.
My father farmed at Lincoln and
drove freight wagons from Lincoln and Fort
Stanton to Las Vegas and return. He used oxen to haul
with. It took over twenty days to make the round trip and if the weather was
bad it took longer. The wagons came and went by way of White Oaks and
Nogal. Once when my father was hauling freight we started from Lincoln going across the Patos Mountains
and by way of White Oaks, on our way to Las Vegas. My father was riding horseback and
I was driving one of the freight wagons drawn by oxen. A man named Stevens was
going to Las Vegas for freight too and left Lincoln
about the same time that we did. He was driving mules to his freight wagon and
traveled faster than we did. On account of the Indians the freight wagons
camped together at night when they could. Mr. Stevens told my father that he
would wait for us at a lake that was just across the Patos Mountains on the flats,
and about eight or nine miles from White
Oaks. We had planned to camp
there the first night. Late in the afternoon my father rode on ahead of our
wagons to the lake. When he got there he found that the Indians had killed
Stevens and robbed and burned his wagons and run off all his mules. Father
hurried back to us and told us not to go to the lake and told us what had
happened to Mr. Stevens. We had to make a dry camp that night and keep a sharp
lookout far the Indians but none of them came around our camp. I remember how
scared I was when we passed the lake the next day and saw the remains of the
burned wagon and Mr. Stevens grave. In all of our freighting my father never
had any trouble with the Indians.
We were living in Lincoln
when Billy the Kid was there but I did not know him very well. When he killed
Ollinger and Bell and made his escape I was
working on the Henry Farmer ranch near Lincoln. I
can remember something that happened once when I was on a visit to my cousin,
Martin Chavez in Picacho.
Billy the Kid knew Martin well and
often stayed with him at his house. Some Texas
people were traveling through the country in covered wagons and were camped
near Picacho. They had a fast horse that they wanted to race against a mare
that my cousin Martin had. The Texas
people bet three fat beeves that their horse could out run Martin's mare. They
had the race between the two horses and Martin's mare won the race so far ahead
of the horse that the Texas people had that they got awful mad about it and
would not pay the bet. Soon after the race was run Billy the Kid came by and
stopped at Martins place. Martin told him about the race and that the Texas people would not
pay their bet. Billy asked Martin if he wanted those beeves, and of course
Martin said that he did. Billy said that he would collect the bet for him then.
The women at Martin's ranch just begged Billy not to go to collect the bet as
they were afraid that there would be trouble over it and that Billy might get
killed, but Billy just laughed at them. He wore two guns and had on two belts
of cartridges. He went out to the camp of the Texans and rode into the herd of
cattle that they had with them and shot and killed three of their best beeves
and told Martin to send after his beef. The Texans were so scared when they
found out that he was Billy the Kid that they broke camp and left right away.
I lived at Lincoln
until 1905 and then I moved to Capitan and worked for the Titsworth Company for
twenty-five years. I was married to Cecelia Serna about 1888. We never had any
children of our own but we adopted and raised three children, all of whom live
here in Carrizozo. My wife and I
live here with our children and have for the past five years.
I have lived in Lincoln
for fifty-nine years.
Narrator: Ambrosio Chavez, Carrizozo,
New Mexico, Aged 72 years.
Pasted from <http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?wpa:2:./temp/~ammem_DBXg::>