Saturday, June 08, 2013

La Posta – From the Founding of Mesilla, to Corn Exchange Hotel, to Billy the Kid Museum, to Famous Landmark

La Posta – From the Founding of Mesilla, to Corn Exchange Hotel, to Billy the Kid Museum, to Famous LandmarkThe story of a building, its people, and its place.
The building sits on a lot next to the plaza. The lot is a "terreno de solar," a grant to a Mexican citizen by the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, on which to build a house. By the terms of the grant, the grantee is obliged to own a horse and a gun. Within a year or so the grantee - and his lot - are no longer in Mexico - they are both in the United States. A merchant buys the home, and opens a store. He sells to a partner, who opens Samuel Bean & Co. The Civil War begins and the town is occupied by Confederates. The Confederates are driven out by the Union. Bean is denounced as a "Johnny Reb," and a U. S. Marshal confiscates his store. It is sold for almost nothing on the town plaza. After a fast series of buyers make quick profits, Lola Bennett buys it and builds her dream home. She trades it to John Davis, who establishes the most famous hotel in New Mexico Territory, the Corn Exchange. Davis dies. His widow runs the Corn Exchange as long as she is able. She dies and the church inherits it. The church sells it to the town priest. The priest sells to George Griggs, the impresario of the Billy the Kid Museum. Griggs sells to "Katy" Griggs for $1, who opens the most famous eating place in southern New Mexico - La Posta.
The Corn Exchange hosts guest from as far away as London and Hong Kong, and cities like San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, New York, and Washington D. C. Ulysses Simpson Grant, Jr., son of the president, stays at the Exchange. As does John S. Chisum, "Cattle King of the West," just two days after being robbed of $100 and a gold watch in a Silver City stage holdup.
Virtually all of the significant people in Billy the Kid's life stay at the Exchange: Sheriff Harvey H. Whitehill, who arrests Billy for his first crime; "Doc" Scurlock, Charles Bowdre, and Richard Brewer, Billy's best friends; Attorneys Albert J. Fountain and John D. Bail, who defend Billy in his trial for murder; William Rynerson, the District Attorney who relentlessly pursues Billy; Simon Newcomb, the prosecuting DA in Billy's trial; and Judge Warren Bristol, who sentences Billy to "be hanged by the neck until his body be dead." Even Billy's implacable enemies James Dolan and John Riley stay at the Exchange.
Did Billy stay at the Exchange? Someone signed his name. Was it he?

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Domain For Blog!

now has its own domain!

For the lastest news - history - photos, just click:

History of Picacho, New Mexico... founded in 1855

... it’s almost impossible to determine where reality ends and reflection begins ...

... which is done by hand for most varieties ...

... on Feb 5, 1879 ...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mesilla Museum Display

The opened this evening with a dedication ceremony featuring the Mayor of Mesilla and many Mesilla citizens. A welcome part of the opening ceremony was a display of some of the materials being collected for the Mesilla Museum, which will emphasize the history of Mesilla, including it's role in the saga.

was tried in the courthouse on the Mesilla plaza in April, 1881 for two killings. He was acquitted of the killing of Andrew A. "Buckshot" Roberts, which occurred on April 4, 1878. He was convicted of the killing of Sheriff William Brady, which happened a few days before, on April 1, 1878.

The sentence for the killing of Sheriff Brady was death by hanging, to be carried out May 13, 1881. That didn't happen, of course, because Billy the Kid escaped from the Lincoln jail 15 days before he was to be hung. The hanging was to be carried out in because that's where the killing of Sheriff Brady had occurred.

The most intriguing item on display this evening was the barber chair where Billy the Kid was given a haircut before his trial. The chair is privately owned and was being displayed only for the ceremony.

The chair was manufactured in the early 1870s. It was re-covered in the 1980s, before the current owner acquired it. The reupholstering covered up several bullet holes that were in the chair, of unknown origin.

The permanent display in the center includes numerous historical Mesilla photos.

Here's a photo of the original San Albino church, which was torn down when the current church was constructed in 1908:

Here's a photo of the consecration of the new San Albino church in 1908:

Here's a picture of the Mesilla plaza in 1900. The first San Albino can be seen in the distance.

Here's a picture of the Fountain Theatre taken about 1930.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Billy the Kid Display -- Mesilla

The Town of Mesilla is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the J. Paul Taylor Visitor Center Thursday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m.

As part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony there will be display inside the Visitor Center. The display will feature historical photos, information and artifacts pertaining to Mesilla’s past. The subject is the historic period of April 1881, when Billy the Kid was a prisoner in Mesilla and tried and convicted of murder. A team of volunteers has collected names and items for the display. One of the items is the barber chair – built c1870 – in which Billy the Kid had his hair cut before the trial. The chair was once in the Billy the Kid Museum, owned by Dr. George Griggs in the 1930s, which is now La Posta Restaurant. The chair is currently in a private collection. An open house of the museum display will take place from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The visitor center is an extension of the current Mesilla Town Hall, located at 2231 Avenida de Mesilla.

For more information about the ceremony, call Kristie Medina at (575) 524-3262 ext. 116.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

130th Anniversary of Incorporation

Today appears to be the 130th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Mesilla. Yet there is no celebration, no mention by the village government.

Perhaps this is explained by the fact the no one appears to know the correct date of . The history of Mesilla on the official gives 1861 as the year of incorporation. Other dates are given by other sites.

I present here evidence of the official incorporation of Mesilla that appears to be definitive. This is the text of the official Act of the Territory of New Mexico that incorporates the Town of Mesilla, as printed in the Mesilla Valley Independent newspaper, dated May 4, 1878. The Act is given as passed by the Territorial Legislature on February 15, 1878. That makes today the 130th anniversary of that act.

If anyone knows differently, please post it as a comment.

An Act to Incorporate "The Incorporation of Mesilla"

Be it enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of New Mexico:

SECTION 1. All owners and holders of real estate situated within the limits of Mesilla Grant in Dona Ana county who are actual residents within said limits, be, and they are hereby created a body politic and corporate under the name and style of the Incorporation of Mesilla and by that name may sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded; may hold real estate and have a common seal.

SEC. 2. That the officers of said incorporation shall consist of three commissioners each one of whom shall be a qualified voter under this act. Said commissioners shall have authority to take control of all real estate held in common by said Incorporation, and shall make such rules for the government of the same as they may deem just and proper, and shall have the power to lease or rent, and with the consent of two thirds of the voters under this act to convey and dispose of such real estate, and to make deeds of conveyance therefore.

Sec. 3. The said commissioners shall be elected at an election to be held on the first Monday of January of each year. Each owner and holder of real estate within the limits of said incorporation who is an actual resident therein shall be entitled to one vote for each terreno of land he may own or hold within said limits, and one vote for each separate portion of terreno; the three persons receiving the highest number of votes cast shall be declared elected, and shall respectively hold office for one year, and until their successors are elected and qualified. The commissioners elect shall take the same oath that is required by justices of the peace.

SEC. 4. The commissioners shall elect one of their number as President, one as Secretary, and one as Treasurer. The President shall call meetings of the board whenever the business of the incorporation shall require, or whenever petitioned to do so by twenty qualified voters. Whenever the said commissioners shall deem it necessary or proper to sell or lease any real estate, belonging in common to said corporation they shall call a meeting of all the members of said corporation, by giving five days public notice of the same, and shall present the project fully to the meeting who shall take a vote theron, and if two thirds of the votes cast are in favor of the project, then the said commissioners shall have full power to sell or lease the lands voted on, and in case of an absolute sale, the signature of the president of said commissioners, attested by the signatures of the secretary and the seal of the incorporation, shall be sufficient to convey all the title of the said corporation to said land.

SEC. 5. That until the first election under this act, the Governor shall appoint three commissioners, who shall have all the powers that are by this act granted to commissioners elected under its provisions.

SEC 6. This act shall be in force and effect from and effect from and after its passage and approval.

Approved Feb'y 15th, 1878
Quoted in the Mesilla Valley Independent, May 4, 1878.

Not surprisingly, only land owners could vote. They received one vote for each "terreno" and each portion of a torreno, so, obviously, one person could have multiple votes.

But what is a "terreno?" I haven't found any definition on the internet or elsewhere.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

School Window

Who's daydreaming now?



Saturday, June 09, 2007

Vandalized Cacti Healing

It seems there's something about cacti that's almost fetishistic.

Protected species are constantly being stolen* in the desert areas around Mesilla. They have a compelling attraction for many people.

** is also fairly common.

It may be something of a challenge to stomp a barrel cactus.

There is no challenge to stomping a spineless cactus.

. Here's a photo of the damage:

The plant has begun to recover, as you can see here:

You can see the necrotic tissue here:

and here:

The new growth is producing blossoms:

*"" -- an euphemism for a criminal enterprise that yields millions of dollars according to some sources.

**Is there a psychoanalytic term for this? ? ? ? ?

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mesilla Plaza - No Smoking

The Mesilla Plaza is a smoke free zone.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

2 Gates

The normal state for a gate is closed. Here's a gate doing its duty.

This gate is gate in memory only. Most of the adobe wall it once served is gone.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spineless Cactus

If you look around many of the older homes in the Mesilla Valley, you'll see an odd-looking prickly pear. It's thornless.

Alien mutation?

Nope -- the non-prickly prickly pear is the creation of the eclectic Luther Burbank, "The Plant Wizard."

Burbank was born in 1849 and had no schooling beyond 6th grade, but he did have an intense fascination with plant breeding. He is credited with creating over 800 strains and varieties of plants, including the "impossible" , which he called "a cross which man said could never be made."

The 12 volumes of his 1914 magnum opus, "" is available online, includes wonderful color photos, and still makes interesting and enjoyable reading. His self-promotion, however, sometimes leads him to sound like a cross between a used car salesman and P. T. Barnum.

He says of this effort, "the work through which this result was achieved constituted in some respects the most arduous and soul-testing experience that I have ever undergone."

Here's a picture from the book showing Burbank examining cactus seedlings:

It may look like a loving relationship, but...

"For five years or more the cactus blooming season was a period of torment to me both day and night. Time and again I have declared from the bottom of my heart that I wished I had never touched the cactus to attempt to remove its spines. Looking back on the experience now, I feel that I would not have courage to renew the experiments were it necessary to go through the same ordeal again.

Not only would the little spicules find lodgement everywhere in my skin, but my clothing became filled with them, and the little barbs would gradually work their way through the cloth and into my flesh, causing intense irritation."

The spines on the prickly pear (and other cacti) evolved from leaves on its ancestral parent. These leaves, over time, became sharp spines and acquired the capacity to detach easily when touched, a very effective defense against being eaten.

What Burbank succeeded in doing with his selection and cross-breeding was to produce a plant that grew only rudimentary spines and then dropped them voluntarily. In this photo from his book you can see the vestigial leaves with the spines gone.

Burbank's hopes for millions of acres of desert growing spineless cactus as animal feed was never realized, but for a while the un-prickly pear was quite popular as a landscape plant around homes in arid areas like Southern New Mexico.

Here's a planting around an old Adobe home in Mesilla:

A planting in Las Cruces:

A planting in Organ:

A planting next to an abandoned, decaying Adobe in Doña Ana:

A cactus without spines is defenseless. The photo below was taken about 2 months after the one above:

Someone, in an act of pure vandalism, has stomped the plant.

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