WPA Mrs. Pinkie Bourne Skinner
Writer: Edith L. Crawford,
Carrizozo, N. Mex.
As told by Mrs. Pinkie Bourne
I was born in Independence, Virginia
in the year 1858. On October 21, 1938, it will be fifty seven years since I
came to Lincoln
County, New Mexico, and I have lived in this county ever since.
My father was L. W. Bourne, and my
mother whose maiden name was Fulton, were born
in Richmond, Virginia. Father was a farmer. He wanted to
go to Texas so he sold out and we left Independence, Virginia
in 1869. My father, mother and their six children, three boys and three girls,
traveled by train to Memphis,
Tennessee and from there we went
by boat. We went down the Mississippi River on a boat named the "The Great
Mississippi" to the Red River where we changed to a boat named "Erie
No. 9" and traveled up the Red River to Shreveport, Louisiana.
From there we went on an old stage coach to Jefferson,
Texas, in the eastern part of Texas, just across the line from Louisiana. While at Jefferson
father met some cotton freighters who were going to Black Jack Grove, Texas,
which was our destination. Father had a brother who lived there. We traveled
with the freighters and had a hard dry trip but we did not have to worry about
the cooking as the men folks did all the work. We traveled in big old freight
wagons drawn by mules.
After arriving in Black Jack Grove
father went into the store business, we stayed there about a year and a half
then moved to Stephenville,
Texas. While living in
Stephenville I met John H. Skinner and married him in December 1873. I was
fifteen years old. We rode horse back out to Squire Johnathan Belcher's house
and he married us while we sat on our horses. Mr. Skinner was living on a farm
when we married. He farmed and also raised a few cattle and horses. Soon after
I married, my father and mother left Stephenville and moved to Oak Creek, Texas, about forty miles east of Big Springs, Texas.
The Texas and Pacific Railroad Company was building through there to Big
Springs and father and my two brothers went there trying to get work, as wages
on the farms in those days were not very much. A married man with a team was
paid fifteen dollars a month and single men only ten dollars, working from sun
up to sun down.
They staid here only a short
while. They heard of the gold strike on the Bonito
River in Lincoln County, New Mexico,
and father, mother, three brothers and two sisters left Oak Creek,
Texas, in the spring of 1881.
They reached the Bonito sometime in May and found plenty of work. They wrote
back for Mr. Skinner and me to come out as they found work plentiful and such a
beautiful country to live in.
When we received this letter we
were living about ten miles east of Colorado City, Texas, on the Jim Ned River,
so we loaded up what few clothes, and bedding, and provisions we had in our
wagon drawn by two horses, and left for New Mexico in September, 1881. We had
one boy and one girl at this time. A young boy by the name of Milburn Mackey
came down to see us the night before we left and wanted to come with us so we
brought him along. Mr. Skinner and Milburn slept on the ground and the two
children and I slept in the wagon as we were afraid of snakes. We made our sour
dough biscuits and cooked them in a dutch oven, using soda as there wasn't any
baking powder in those days. We used buffalo and cow chips to cook with and the
only light we had was the camp fire as we had no candles. Some nights when we
camped where there was a lot of cactus growing we would gather the dried cactus
stalks and burn them.
The first town of any size that we
stopped in was Ballinger, Texas. We stocked up on provisions there. We
crossed the Colorado River at Ballinger at a
ford. The water was so swift we came near getting drowned in making the
crossing. It was a very hot dry trip from there to San
Angelo, Texas, where we struck the
Concho River and laid over a day to rest. After
leaving the Concho River we struck the plains country and it was so dry and hot
that we drove late into the night to get to water for our horses. We carried
our drinking water in kegs tied to the out side of the wagon and always had
plenty from one watering place to the next. The only fresh meat that we had on
the trip was wild ducks that we killed in the rivers and fresh fish that the men
caught when we camped on the Concho and Pecos Rivers.
We saw quite a few buffalo and antelope but they were always too far away for
us to shoot at. We were always on the lookout for Indians and robbers for we
had been warned on leaving San Angleo that there was a lot of Indians on the
plains. When we got to the Netherlan Rancho they told us to look out for
robbers up the Seven Rivers country and we were scared to death. We didn't have
a bit of trouble though and didn't see an Indian until we reached the Bonito,
in New Mexico.
We crossed the Pecos River
at Pecos City. It was up so high that we crossed
on a ferry boat pulled across by a rope. We left Pecos and traveled almost due
north, we passed Roswell, New Mexico to the north and came by the Netherlan Rancho,
which was just below the Cottonwoods and also by Seven Rivers, New Mexico. All
of theses places were in Lincoln County
in those days. After leaving Pecos City, Texas, the road was nothing more than a cow trail all the
way to the Bonito
River. We crossed the Hondo River
just below the Border Hill and when we came down the Border Hill, Mr. Skinner
and the boy who was with us had to stand on the upper side of the wagon to keep
it from turning over and I had to drive the wagon down the hill. I was so scared
and I wondered what kind of a country we were coming to. We came on up the
Hondo River to what is now the town of Hondo, New Mexico, where we
struck the Rio Bonito and on up to Lincoln,
New Mexico, where we saw our first adobe houses.
The Lincoln County War
had not been over very long and Billy the Kid had been killed only about three
months before. We went through Fort Stanton, which was a military post in tho'se days,
passed by the old Brewery, which was between Fort
Stanton and Angus, and on to a mining
settlement which was later called Bonito
City. I was so glad to
get to where my mother and father were. When we landed on the Bonito Mr.
Skinner had only thirty-five cents in his pocket and that was every cent we
had. The first job he got after arriving there was hauling some supplies for
some miners. The miners had gone to White
Oaks for supplies with a burro
team and on the way back the burros got away from them and they were left a
foot so they came for Mr. Skinner to haul their supplies about ten miles and
they gave him five dollars. We thought that was a lot of money for a little
There was plenty of work in the
mines and lots of miners coming in every day. It soon grew to be a big camp and
they named it Bonito
City. we got
our mail at White Oaks, New Mexico, about once a month. Later on we
got our mail at Fort
Stanton and got it
oftener. One of the miners would ride horse back to the Fort and get the mail
for the whole camp. My mother, one other woman, (I have forgotten her name) and
myself were the only women in camp the first winter we were there. Just before
Christmas in 1881, father, my two brothers and Mr. Skinner went hunting and
killed fifteen wild turkeys and took them to Fort Stanton
and sold them for twenty five dollars, we had such a happy Christmas.
We lived in a little old log cabin
on the Bonito and it was chinked up with mud. When the mud dried some of it
fell out and left holes between the logs. One day while I was cooking dinner I
felt some one looking at me through one of these holes, when I went over to
investigate, I found several Indians had been peeping through the holes at me.
They never did molest anyone around the camp, but we were always afraid of them
for we didn't know when they would go on the war-path. Soon after landing on
the Bonito River we took up a homestead near the
camp, proved up on it and got our patent. We lived on this homestead until 1906
when we sold out to the Railroad Company and moved to [Carrisoso?], New Mexico. Mr.
Skinner died in [Carrisoso?] in 1925 at the age of 72 years. I am now living
with my daughter, Mrs. A.B. [Sumwalt?] at Nogal, New Mexico. I have thirty five grandchildren
and thirty eight great grandchildren now living. Counting the in-law and all we
have over a hundred members in our family.
NARRATOR: Mrs. Pinkie Bourne
Skinner, Nogal, New Mexico,
Pasted from <http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?wpa:10:./temp/~ammem_DBXg::>