Thursday, August 31, 2006

Billy the Kid

Still standing in the southeast corner of the Mesilla plaza is the courthouse and jail where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to death by hanging.

The only authentic picture of Billy.

Billy had been captured December 23, 1880 in the Fort Sumner area.

On March 28, 1881, he was transported to Mesilla by train for trial for the murders of Andrew "Buckshot" Roberts and Sheriff William Brady. It was decided he would be tried for each offense separately.

His trial for killing "Buckshot" Roberts began on March 30, 1881. The case against him in this trail was thrown-out on the grounds that the killing took place on private land, not public land, and the government thus had no standing to prosecute.

The trial for the killing of Sheriff Brady began April 8. The judge presiding, Judge Bristol, dismissed Billy's defense attorney from the first trial and appointed John D. Bail and Albert Fountain to represent him. Although he didn't say so, the judge felt that his first attorney had done too good a job.

On April 13. the jury brought in its verdict: guilty. The judge then sentenced Billy to death by hanging, to be carried out on May 13, 1881 in Lincoln, New Mexico.

In an interview later that day in the Mesilla News, Billy said the following:

"Well, I had intended at one time to not say a word in my own behalf, because persons would say, 'Oh, he lied'; Newman gave me a rough deal; has created prejudice against me, and is trying to incite a mob to lynch me. He sent me a paper which shows it; I think it a dirty, mean advantage to take of me considering my situation and knowing I could not defend myself by word or act. But I suppose he thought he would give me a kick down hill. Newman came to see me the other day; I refused to talk to him or tell him anything; but I believe the News is always willing to give its readers both sides of a question."

"If mob law is going to rule, better dismiss judge, sheriff, etc., and let all take chances alike. I expected to be lynched in going to Lincoln. Advise persons never to engage in killing."

Three days later he was taken to Lincoln. It was from the Lincoln courthouse that Billy escaped on April 28, killing two deputies.


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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pecans -- The Cadillac of Nuts

Pecans are a huge agricultural industry around Mesilla. There are an estimated 18,000 acres of pecans in the county (Doña Ana).

Pecans, because of their wonderful flavor, have been called the Cadillac of nuts.

This is a wonderful time of the year to drive through the pecan groves. The trees are lush green and the patterns made by the sunlight, shadows, and rows of trees are dazzling.

The pecans in this area are irrigated primarily with water from the Rio Grande. As a result, there are many irrigation canals feeding the groves.


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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More on Gadsden Purchase

The Gadsden Purchase was signed in Mesilla on November 16, 1854. This is reflected in the Mexican name for the Purchase, the Treaty of Mesilla. A bronze plaque in the Mesilla plaza commemorates this agreement between the two countries.

Following the signing of the treaty, the Mexican flag was lowered and the American flag raised. The people of Mesilla, who had previously been citizens of Mexico, became citizens of the United States. The agreements between Mexico and the inhabitants of the Gadsden Purchase area were respected by the US Government, including all land grants made by Mexico that were eventually adjudicated as valid.

Las Cruces, which today adjoins Mesilla, was just outside the Purchase area, being already part of the United States.


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Saturday, August 26, 2006

San Albino Pictures

Here's a view of the Mesilla plaza at twilight.

Here are two more views of San Albino.


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Mesilla Plaza

The Mesilla plaza. You can see the San Albino Catholic Church at the end of the plaza.


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Mesilla History

Welcome to Mesilla.

It is generally accepted that the town of Mesilla was founded some time in the late 1840s, although it had been visited by various European travelers since the mid-1500s. Of course, Native Americans were familiar with this area and had camped here for thousands of years. They were not pleased to see settlers.

Mesilla means "little tableland."

In 1851, Fort Fillmore was established to protect Mesilla from raids by Apaches.

In 1854, The Gadsden Purchase made Mesilla officially part of the United States. The treaty is named after the person who represented the United States in the negotiations with Mexico, James Gadsden.

With this treaty, Mexico sold the United States approximately 29,000 square miles of land for $10 million.

The map shows the location of the Purchase.




Today Mesilla has a population of about 2400.


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