WPA Alice J. VanWinkel
Edith L. Crawford,
Carrizozo, N. Mex.
Date: September 15, 1938
Subject: Pioneer Story
Source of Information:Mrs. Alice J. VanWinkel.
I was born in
My mother was Mary Whitney. She
was married to my father, John Collins, about the year 1855, in Carlinville
My husband worked on the farm
while we lived there. He took the corn and wheat to Litchfield
We made our own candles in those days. I made mine out of mutton tallow and twisted twine string, and moulded them myself. I had my own moulds. Nobody had kerosene lamps in those days.
My grandfather Whitney had some sheep on the farm and my grandmother Whitney washed the wool from the sheep, card and spun it, and would weave it into cloth to make our clothes. I never saw a calico dress until I was ten years old.
My husband and I lived on this
farm for about two years. We then took a notion to go to
My husband drove one wagon and I
drove one. We had our chuck box in the back of one of the wagons and kept our
dishes and supplies in it. We had our own flour, corn meal and meat and bought
the rest of our supplies. I did the cooking. I used a Dutch oven for baking and
made hot biscuit and corn bread. We used
We slept in one of the wagons. We had a pair of bed springs in the bottom of the wagon with our beds on that. We burned candles that I had made on the farm before we left.
We had our drinking water in water kegs tied on the side of one of the wagons. We always tried to drive to water each day for the horses.
We enjoyed camping out. We saw lots of antelope and coyotes. We did not have any trouble at all on the trip. I do not remember the names of any of the towns we passed through. We had good weather and the country was beautiful all the way.
We were on the road just two
months when we reached
We rented a two roomed lumber house in Weatherford, and my husband got a job plowing up prairie land. He used three horses to a fourteen inch plow. He made good money plowing for other people.
While we were living in
Weatherford our first child, Minnie Irene, was born on June 6, 1879. We
continued to live on in Weatherford
We started out with enough provisions to last us on the trip, except for fresh meat. My husband would kill a nice fat antelope and we would have plenty of meat for awhile. It was cold weather and the meat would keep for several days. We had lovely weather and no trouble on our trip.
At that time all there was to the
The rest of the trip to
While crossing the plains we had to burn buffalo and cow chips altogether for fuel. When we came to a place where there were lots of chips we would gather them up, several tow-sacks full, and put them in the wagons, so that if we came to a place where there was no fuel, we would have something to burn.
When we got to the
We traveled almost due north, up
We arrived in
We stayed in Roswell for about three days and then my husband got a job as a ranch hand on the Phelps White ranch, on the Bosque Grande, about forty miles east of Roswell. We stayed on this ranch about two months.
We moved from this White ranch to
In the spring of 1882 my husband
rented a small place in the
In November, 1884, I went to
One night while I was alone with my two children, I heard the dogs barking about midnight. I got up and got the six shooter and looked out the window and could see three dark objects prowling around the house. I went to the doors and windows to make sure they were all fastened tight. My husband had fixed our doors with two by four bars across them, when we first moved to this place because I was afraid to stay at night by myself. Pretty soon I heard somebody knock at the door, but I kept quiet and just let them knock. When I did not answer who ever it was tried to break down the door. That frightened me so badly that I asked what they wanted. A voice asked for some person that I had never heard of and I said there was nobody of that name there. Instead of going away they kept on trying to get in. I told them that the first person that came through the door would certainly get shot. After finding that they could not get in they finally went away. I was very much frightened.
My husband thought that it was some one trying to rob us as he had sold some cattle just a few days before and as there were no banks we kept the money in the house and we thought they were after this money. When they rode awry I could see that they were three men but whether they were Mexican, Indian or Americans we never knew.
We had a pet deer while living on this place and one morning the deer and the children were playing out in the yard. All at once the deer came bounding into the house and jumped up on the bed. I knew at once that the deer was scared by something unusual so I stepped to the door to see where the children were. To my horror I saw five Indians all dressed up in their blankets and war paint, coming towards the house. I stepped out in the yard to meet them for the children and I were all alone. The Indians knew that I was afraid of them for one of the Indians said to me: "Indians no hurt white squaw she give Indians something to eat." I was baking light bread that day so I went into the kitchen and got two loaves of bread and gave to them but they still wanted something. We had a half of mutton hanging up out in the [shed?] room and I decided I would give them a piece of it so they would leave. I went and got the butcher knife and went to the shed room to cut a piece of the mutton and when the Buck saw that I was going to give them just a piece of the meat, he grabbed the knife and if I had not turned it loose he would have pulled it through my hand and cut my hand open. He laid the knife down and picked up the whole piece of meat and walked away. I did not say anything for I was only too glad to get rid of them.
In 1886 I went to
We lived on the place in the Sacramento
mountains until the year 1890, and then moved back to
We moved to
My oldest daughter, Minnie, had been married before we went to Arizona, (I do not remember the exact date) and after my husband died I came back to Tinnie, New Mexico, to stay with my daughter, Minnie, and her husband, West [Purcells?], who lived at Tinnie on a ranch.
My son William Marlin Shears, married and he and his wife and little girl lived near there. One morning my son left home and we have never seen or heard of him since. That was in 1908, about thirty years ago. After he went away I took his little girl and raised her as my own.
In August, 1912, I was married to
Jess Van Winkel. He owned a ranch on the east side of the
My daughter Minnie, who married
West [Purcells?], had fifteen children, eleven of whom are still living. They
still live at
My youngest daughter, Carrie,
married Sanford Backus, and they live at
NARRATOR: Mrs. Alice J. Van Winkel, Aged 82 years. Lincoln, N. Mex.