WPA Charles C. Roberts and I were
Writer: Edith L.Crawford
MAR 7 1938
Narrator: Mrs. Alice Roberts
Charles C. Roberts and I were
married in Mason Texas, September 2, 1875. Mr. Roberts was a farmer when I
married him. He was also a minute man, one who helped the rangers fight the
Indians. In 1873 or 74 he helped in one of the last fights with the Indians. It
took place on Pack Saddle Mountain,
about 12 miles from Llano Texas, on the Llano River.
They killed most of the Indians and got some of their bows and arrows and a lot
of Indian trinkets. We left Llano Texas
in May 1880, with our three children, in a covered wagon drawn by two horses.
We had all of our provisions with us. There were four other families and six
single man in our crowd. Each family had a covered wagon. We camped out at
night and when we made camp the men always made a circle with the wagons and
put our horses inside the circle and the men took turns standing guard. All the
men always wore six shooters and some of then wore two guns. Each man had a
rifle that always hung on the back of the wagon seat where they could reach it
in a hurry if they needed to, for we were always expecting the Indians to
attack us at any time. We had heard so many stories about the Indians killing
the white people who were coming
west, and we were scared to death all the way out here.
The women did all the cooking. We
made sour dough biscuit and corn meal dodgers and baked them in dutch ovens. We
used what wood we could find but most of the time we used cow chips to cook
with. The only fresh meat we had on our trip was what we killed on the way,
cotton tail rabbits and antelope mostly. Once in a while we would buy a piece
of fresh meat from some of the big ranchers. When we struck the Horse Head
Crossing in the Pecos
River the men caught some
cat fish. We were almost starved for water when we sighted the Pecos River,
but when we got to the bank of the river and saw the water was as red as blood,
what a disappointed bunch we were. He had to let the water settle before we
could drink it and then it was awful tasting and we did not like it. We had to
be awful saving with our drinking water an it was a dry year and there was not
many watering places. We carried our water in kegs tied to the side of the
wagons. Mr. Roberts had the man who carried the mail in a buck board from
Government Springs Texas to Fort Stocton Texas, to bring us a keg of drinking
water each trip while we were camped on the Pecos resting up.
All the soldiers at Government
Springs were negroes. Every time we came to good water we would lay over and
rest for a day or so. The women would wash and clean things all up and the men
would hunt. We did not see any buffalo or Indians on our trip. We had cow hides
swung under our wagons where we carried all our pots, pans, shovels and tongs.
I still have one of the rawhide bottom straight chairs that I brought with me
on that trip to this country in 1860.
One day while crossing the plains
we could see some travelers coming behind us. When they got close enough for us
to see them it was a bunch of Mexicans, driving burros to two wheeled carts
with canvas tops. We were all scared to death until they stopped and some of
the men folks went back to see what they wanted. They had a very sick man and
they did not know what to do with or for him. My husband stepped up to the cart
and saw that the man had cramp colic, so he came back to our wagon and asked me
if I had any medicine that I could give this man to relieve the pain. I had a
bottle of Jamaica
ginger, so I fixed him up a dose of that and Mr. Roberts gave it to him and it
releived him in just a little while. They were all so grateful to us and just
could not thank us enough for what we had done for their sick friend.
From our stay on the Pecos our
next stop was at Roswell New Mexico. Roswell consisted of one family, a commissary
blacksmith shop. There were five big cotton wood trees. It was noon when we got
there and that night there was the hardest rain that I ever saw fall. The
thunder and lightning was terrible and we were all scared to death. The water
rose to the hubs of our wagon wheels and we thought we would be washed away at
any minute. The next stop was at the Casey Ranch on the Hondo River.
We bought butter and eggs from them and they gave us a lot of milk. We traveled
on up the Bonito River, which was a beautiful sight to
us. We passed thro' Lincoln
and Fort Stanton
and on over to Nogal
Canyon. We stayed here
two months and the men prospected for gold. While we were here a baby girl was
born to Mrs. Irwin, one of the women in our crowd. We fixed her a bed under a
big pine tree, of pine needles. We put her feather bed and some quilts on the
pine needles and she was very comfortable. She named the little girl "New Mexico".
We went from Nogal
Canyon to Lake
Valley which was not very far from Silver City.
It was a mining town but we did not do any good there so we went on to Georgetown New
Mexico, which was on the [Membres?] River. We did not
stay there very long and came on back to White Oaks, New Mexico, which was a
small mining town at that time. We stayed there until April 1881 and Mr.
Roberts decided to send the children and me back to Llano Texas while he scouted around looking for a
place to locate. An old man by the name of John Duncan (we called him
"Uncle Johnny" ) took us back to Texas in a covered wagon. We passed through Lincoln
New Mexico the day Billy the Kid
killed his guards and escaped. We went through there in the morning and he
killed them at noon.
We made our own candles out of
beef tallow and wicks out of spun cotton thread. We had our own moulds. Our
candles gave out before we reached New
Mexico so we tore up old cotton rags and made what we
called grease lamps by putting the rags in a tin can and pouring lard over
them. They made a good light for one wagon and we depended on our camp fires
for light before going to bed.
I brought my Bible along with as
and at night I would read my Bible and we all would sing sacred hymns.
Sometimes the men would sing cowboy songs. Mr. Roberts went back to Lake Valley New Mexico,
after he sent us back to Texas
and staked out a mining claim and did his assessment work on the claim and
waited around for awhile to see if he could sell his claim for big money. He
got homesick and sold his claim for ten dollars and started out horseback for Texas. He made the
entire trip to Llano Texas
by horseback. We stayed in Texas
for five years. When we returned to New Mexico
at the end of that time we found that the claim Mr. Roberts had sold for ten
dollars, turned out to be one of the richest which was struck at Lake Valley.
Narrator: Mrs. Alice Roberts, Aged
78 years. Carrizozo New Mexico.
Pasted from <http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?wpa:29:./temp/~ammem_DBXg::>