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Elizabethtown, New Mexico - Page 2

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Baldy Mountain, New Mexico

Baldy Mountain, Kathy Weiser, September, 2008.

This image available for photographic prints &  editorial  downloads HERE!

 

 

 

 

Baldy Mountain and the surrounding area was crawling with prospectors in the late 1800's.  Imagining all those men digging on the mountain sides and panning the streams is unbelievable today on this quiet mountain.

Many of the prospectors built their cabins right over, or adjacent to, their mines.  Those that lived in E-Town had a long walk through the valley and up to Baldy Mountain.

 

 

Clay Allison, gunfighterThe bleeding Ute Indian woman burst into John Pearson's saloon, where Clay Allison, Davy Crockett (a nephew of the American frontiersman) and others were whiling away the hours. After being helped to a chair, she told the story of how her husband had killed a traveler and their young son. Hysterical, she told the shocking story of how her husband had been luring travelers, perhaps as many as 14, into their cabin and then murdering them. On the day that she fled, she had witnessed another traveler who her husband had enticed inside by offering supper. During the meal, the passerby asked his hosts if there were many Indians around. Her unfortunate son made the fatal mistake of responding, "Can't you smell the one Papa put under the floor?"  At this, Kennedy went into a fury, shot his guest and bashed his son's head against the fireplace. He then threw both bodies into the cellar, locked his wife in the house and drank himself into a stupor. Terrified, the woman waited until her husband passed out, then climbed up through the chimney and escaped to tell her story.

 

Clay Allison, a local rancher, who was known for his gun-fighting skills, and almost always around when anything violent happened, led a group in search of Kennedy, while others were sent to search the house for evidence to support the woman's story. The search provided a number of partially charred human bones still burning in the fire, and two skeletons beneath the house. Later, another skull was found nearby and a witness to one of the murders came forth. Kennedy, still drunk, was quickly found and taken into custody. He was given a pre-trial on October 3, 1870, where the witness appeared, testifying that he had seen Kennedy shoot one of the travelers.

 

The court ordered that Kennedy be held for action by the grand jury, but rumors began circulating that Kennedy's lawyer was going to buy his freedom. Three days later, Allison and his companions snatched Kennedy from the jail, threw a rope around his neck and dragged him by a horse up and down Main Street until long after he was dead. His body was not allowed by the townspeople to be buried in the Catholic cemetery and was interred outside the cemetery boundaries.

 

Elizabethtown__1890_s__New_mexico_Wanderings.jpg (312x208 -- 23370 bytes)The legend of Charles Kennedy continues, which states, in most documents, that Clay Allison decapitated Kennedy, placed his head in a sack, and carried it twenty-nine miles to Cimarron. When he arrived at Cimarron, he demanded that the head be staked on a fence at the front of the Lambert Inn (later the St. James Hotel,) where it stayed until it mummified and finally disappeared one night.

However, during the research for this article it was discovered that Lambert's Inn wasn't even built until 1872 and Fred Lambert was operating a saloon in Elizabethtown at the time of Kennedy's death and continued to do so until 1871. In a discussion with Beni-Jo Fulton, the curator of the E-Town Museum, she speculated that perhaps the story was true, but, that the head was more likely staked in front of a saloon in E-Town rather than Cimarron.

 

 

StagecoachRobbery-1902-DenverPublicLibrary.jpg (273x214 -- 16157 bytes)E-Town was also called home to another bad boy -- "Coal Oil Jimmy" Buckley. Buckley stirred up some excitement in 1871 by leading a group of outlaws in a series of stagecoach holdups on the road to Cimarron. But Jimmy's career was cut short when the town posted a $3,000 "dead or alive" reward.

 

Two of Jimmy's "friends" pretended to join him and his band of outlaws, then waiting for the right moment, shot Jimmy and his chief partner down, returning to E-Town with the dead bodies to collect the reward.

 

For about five years E-Town reigned as one of New Mexico's most important towns, but mining operations began to diminish dramatically. The fever cooled as mining costs started to out-weigh the volume of ore produced.

 

A few minor operations continued, but most of the residents moved on in search of better opportunities. The settlement was reduced to about 100 residents and lost its "county seat" status to Cimarron in 1872.  Cimarron remained the Colfax County seat for ten years, before passing it along to Raton.

 

 

 

By 1875, Elizabethtown was a virtual ghost town but, it was given a second chance in November, 1878 when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad advanced its track from Trinidad, Colorado into New Mexico. Now, ore could be shipped much cheaper and investment in Elizabethtown area mines once again increased along with the population. E-Town was reborn!

 

The money collected from liquor licenses was earmarked for schools. The school's baseball team arranged games with Catskill, Midnight and Trinidad, making their community proud by winning many of the games. Footraces and boxing matches were also common events in the community. Elizabethtown had finally found its share of respectability by becoming, not just a mining town, but a town with families and gentile social events.

 

Saturday-night dances, complete with a fiddle band were so popular that people would travel several miles over mountain roads to attend. When snow covered the roads, sleds replaced wagons and folks danced their cares away. The dances were said to have been "nice" affairs; where participants dressed in their most elegant clothes and everyone was on their best behavior.

 

Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum

Several well-mannered young men, riding good horses, flashing plenty of money, and claiming to be cowboys, arrived at one dance; the floor manager introduced them so all might enjoy the evening. The single women of E-Town were enraptured by their manners. These young men became part of the social life in several of the surrounding towns. Not until later, when they were captured, did townspeople learn these young men were actually members of "Black Jack" Ketchum's outlaw gang. The notorious outlaw gang had terrorized the 4-corner states in the late 1890's, robbing trains, stores, and killing men during their crimes or shoot-outs when they were threatened. Black Jack Ketchum was hanged in Clayton, New Mexico on April 26, 1901 and is buried in the Clayton Cemetery

 

In 1901, the Oro Dredging Company began the work of erecting a monstrous dredge, fondly christened the Eleanor. The enormous piece of equipment, born of the machine era, posed numerous challenges in its transportation through the mountain passes to E-Town. Piece by piece, the dredge was hauled from the railhead at Springer via mountain roads and water.  The dredging company built a dam three miles from E-Town and hauled the biggest pieces on a large boat.  By August, 1901 the dredge began production and handled up to four thousand cubic yards of dirt a day. In its first year of operation, the Eleanor paid for herself and cleared $100,000, mining a remarkable one-quarter of all the gold found in New Mexico that year.


In September 1901 Dr. L. L. Cahill purchased the La Belle drugstore and moved it to E-Town. LaBelle was another mining camp in the area that permanently died in 1901. Mining continued, but, tragedy struck E-Town in 1903 when fire caught in the second story of one of the largest retail establishments, the Remsberg Store. In the dry mountain conditions the flames quickly engulfed the mostly wood buildings, flames spreading throughout the town.  

 

The Raton Range Newspaper reported on September 3, 1903:

 

“A Colfax county gold mining town was almost wiped out by fire Tuesday. Only one business institution is left standing. Remsberg & Co. are the heavy losers. The fire originated from an unknown source possibly from a defective flue. The fire started on Tuesday afternoon about 2:15 p.m. in the hall used for entertainment on the second floor of the Remsberg store building and thirty minutes after the discovery of the fire the building and all it contained except about $700 or $800 worth of dry goods were totally destroyed. H. B. Phelps, the manager of the store, and William Walker, a clerk, with great difficulty and considerable risk to their lives, got the company’s books and money from the safe, and with the assistance of willing hands, were able to salvage dry goods to the amount of several hundreds of dollars. The building was a two‑story structure on the corner of the main business street of the town. The flames spread to the Mutz Hotel, a two‑story building adjoining. From there the fire spread to Harry Brainard’s place, then to Remsberg’s, Gottlieb & Iufelder’s general store. Across the street in the next block the Moreno Hotel caught fire from flying embers and in one hour and fifteen minutes from the time of the discovery of the fire all the buildings mentioned were reduced to ashes. The only mercantile establishment left in town is the store of Herman Froelick.”

 

 

Continued on Next Page

In the 1860's many people were killed by Charles Kennedy, an Old West serial killer, who posed his cabin as a rest stop for weary travelers. After stealing their money, he would either burn or bury their bodies and if his wife hadn't told, he might never have been caught.

 

 

RedBandannaMine7.Weiser.07-03.jpg (296x231 -- 45898 bytes)

The Red Bandanna Mine. The remains of this mine remain intact and unbothered as the mine is on private property. Landlocked by a local ranch, it cannot be accessed by the public. July, 2003, Kathy Weiser.

 

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