Elizabethtown, New Mexico -
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Baldy Mountain, Kathy Weiser, September, 2008.
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prints & editorial downloads
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.
The 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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
in 1872. Cimarron
remained the Colfax County seat for ten years, before passing it along
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,
into New Mexico. Now, ore could be shipped much cheaper and
investment in Elizabethtown area mines once again increased along with 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.
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.
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
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,
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
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:
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
Continued on Next
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.
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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