History as Told by Those Who Lived It
SCHOOL YEAR 1977 - 1978
This booklet was compiled as a
Social Studies project by the students of Bloomfields
current 10th and 11th grade classes. The writings consist of stories told freely about the growth and development
of this area as seen through the eyes of residents.
The only attempt at editing
was to group the events in a time sequence whenever possible. There will be
some overlapping owing to the stories that progress through time. No attempt
was made to change the language flavor of the people who contributed stories.
Occasionally a word was added by the editor for clarification. Such additions
will be noted with (parenthesis).
Anyone wishing to add
information to this booklet may do so by contacting Carol Cloer, Bloomfield High School. We need as many stories as
we can find in order to make the history more complete.
All proceeds from the sale of
this booklet will go to the purchase of Social Studies Audio-Visual
supplemental materials for the Bloomfield School System. Your donations are
greatly appreciated and will be used to improve the quality of education in the
Social Studies department.
We hope you enjoy the readings,
Social Studies Department Head
Bloomfield Secondary Schools
BY: Laverne Eaton
THE LONG WALK
The event of the long walk took
place in 1863. (1864) This is the year when Kit Carson took most of the Navajos
under custody. He rounded up the Navajos from around the area of Canyon de
Chelly, but since the Navajos were spread out all over the country some did not
take part in the long walk. My grandmother says that her parents and
grandparents did not take part since they managed to stay in hiding. They hid
in the bushes and any where they could hide. She gives account of how she was
choked to the point of fainting so she wouldnt cry when she got scared. All
the hiding and running scared her. They had to choke her to keep from crying so
the soldiers couldnt hear her. If they heard her crying they would know where
they were hiding. In this way my grandmother says they didnt take part in the
long walk to Fort
The soldiers had a hard time getting
the Navajos rounded up. So Kit Carson rounded them up by starving them. He
destroyed the livestock and the peach orchards. They destroyed the livestock by
killing them and destroyed the peach orchards by burning them.
The walk from Fort
Defiance down to Albuquerque was very tough for the Navajos.
Eventually many of the old people died going on the walk because they did most
of the walking. The babies died also on the walk. They stayed there for 7 (4)
years. Then they promised they wouldnt raid any more in exchange for their
children to be able to go to school. That is why Im sitting in your class.
In conclusion, on the white peoples
side they said they helped the Navajos by bringing them out of starvation and
would have helped them. But from the Navajos point of view, they were treated
mean. And they believe they would still stay alive. Like my grandmothers
parents and grandparents.
BY: Craig Farhrion
FROM: John Frederick Farhrion
His parents fled from Germany in the
1800s from the Kaiser. Moving to the United
States, they settled in Pittsburg, thats were he was born. When he
was 12 years old he run away to Texas
to become a cowboy. He used the name of Joe Bush so no one could trace him. At
the age of 13-14 he was on some of the first cattle drives up north from (1866)
Approaching winter he came to the area where Aztec is located today. He married
a girl named Farmer. The Farmer Family was one of the original settlers of
Aztec. Later on he moved to Silverton,
Colorado and became Sheriff of
San Miguel County. His wife was the doctor of Silverton. He died in 1946 at the
age of 86.
BY: Maria Ulibarri
FROM: W.P. Hendrickson
THE SAN JUAN COUNTY STORY
PIONEERS OF THE PRESENT ERA
It has been wondered why the San Juan County area was not settled by the early
New Mexico Spanish Colonials. While they got as close as the Grand Valley
to the east, they stopped there. This section was known as the battleground of
the warring Navajos, Apaches and Utes, which discouraged colonial expansion.
The birth of San Juan County
as a domain for settlers occurred on July 4, 1876. At this time the government
threw open the Indian lands to settlement, while the lands were not surveyed
until 1880, the pioneers those first five years were thinly scattered over the
county. They staked out squatters claims, which were later reconciled with
legal survey corners when they were completed.
Many pioneers included prospectors
and miners from Silverton and Parratt City, and stockmen from Animas
City all in Colorado. They came down to enjoy the
comparatively mild winters, the mining men content to sun themselves for the
few months the mines were closed for the winter and the stockmen bringing their
herds down to subsist on the bush grass of that day. Then they squatted on a
piece of land for a future farm home and thats about how we got started.
Among the few letters of that day
still in existence is one written by W.P. Hendrickson to Mrs. America McHenry.
The letter is under the date of August 18, 1892. Hendrickson was living at Olio
(?) which we now call Kirtland. He describes a trip that he and his brother,
Simeon, made on July 18, 1875 from their home at Animas
City into the San Juan County
area a year before the land was opened for settlement.
They rode saddle horses, and stopped
over first at Parratt City above Hesperus then the County seat of La Plata
county, Cob, and the scene of a mining boom, and went on west to Mancos from
there they went south along Mancos creek to the San Juan River west of present
day Shiprock where they turned back upstream toward home. They mentioned
Hogback and camped one night at the mouth of the La Plata,
now in west Farmington.
They continued up the Animas river from Farmington
to their home at Animas City, one of the earliest Anglo scouting parties of
their time to spy out what is now San
Juan County, New Mexico.
During our entire trip we saw no
Indians or fresh signs of them anywhere on the San Juan or lower Animas. They didnt seem to
care for the country till the white man come to it, Hendrickson wrote.
They found tall grass along; the
rivers hero. Then early in 1876 Hendrickson returned with several others from Animas City
It was rumored that the country
would soon be thrown open by the government to settlement. Then in October of
that year word officially reached them that the land had been thrown open to
settlement, wrote Hendrickson.
In October, I think it was, word
came that San Juan County was open for settlement and there was quite a
probability that Animas
City would empty itself
into the country. Five of us, Thomas and Milton Wirden, Albert Pruett, Henry
Woods and the writer left the Animas
City at the end of a day
for the lower country. It proved that we were the first to enter the promised
land. All of our party located claims within a few day, mostly near the
junction of the San Juan
and Animas river. The writer selected the ranch now owned by Sylvester P.
Blake, laying the foundation of the cabin November 12, 1876.
SAN JUAN COUNTY AS TOURIST CENTER
San Juan County
is making great strides toward becoming one of the great tourist centers of the
State. The 40 mile stretch to primitive road between Pennehotso and Kayenta on
the Navajo Indian reservation, to be completed this fall, will afford a paved
road from the Grand Canyon through Kayenta and Monument Valley, and on up
through the country lastly to the great Navajo dam and lake on the San Juan
This new highway will also afford
westbound tourists a paved road via Kayenta to the new Glen
Canyon data on the Colorado
river. The tourist attraction of this county and in the
surrounding Four Corners area are among the
most fascinating in the nation. - In our county and accessible to it are found
the world famous pre-historic dwelling of an ancient civilization that once
densely populated this part of the world.
Aztec, the county seat boosts the Aztec Ruins
National Monument which
is visited by thousands each year as the ruins are adjacent to US Highway 550. Chaco Canyon
is spectacular but is more isolated, but still visited by increasing numbers of
tourists each year.
Up in Colorado
across the State line there is the Mesa Verde Cliff dwellings and in Utah the Hovenweep
ruins. Southwest are the Canyon de Chelly Cliff dwellings. Out west in Arizona in the Kayenta
region are Inscription Houses and other pre-historic cliff dweller ruins.
The Navajo Indian reservation, a
large part of which is in San Juan County, is becoming a vast scenic touring
land, thanks to the many new paved highways through the heat of that land, and
the other service being offered by Navajo Tribal Council to the travelers who
come this way.
Within an hour or so the traveler
can drive into some of the most majestic mountains of the west in Colorado. Campsites,
campgrounds and other facilities attract fishermen on lakes and streams.
Narrative 4: 1880s
BY: Tony Payne
FROM: Ruby Roundy.
Sometime in the 1880s the Jicarilla
Apaches were put on the reservation. There was a route between Bloomfield and
Chama where logs and other
stuff was brought from Chama to Bloomfield.
On the trail there was a halfway
station. It was a small building compared to the ones today.
Around the reservation soldiers were
kept to keep the Indians on it. These soldiers hadnt been paid and the money
was put on a stagecoach to be taken to them. The stagecoach stopped at that
halfway station to get fresh horses and to get some supper for the drivers.
At the halfway station there was a
boy 16years old called a hustler. He cared for the horses and did odd jobs
around the halfway station.
When the people were preparing to
eat, they brought in the gold and set it in front of the fireplace.
Just then the Indians were coming
down Creosote Wash.
When the Indians were attacking the front
f the building the hustler got the gold and dumped it into a big pot.
He grabbed his rifle and ran out the
back door. He stopped behind a sagebrush bush and buried the pot and the rifle.
Years later when he came back he couldnt find the gold.
Narrative 5: 1889
BY: Jacqui Lafferton
FROM: Joe Valdez (Grandpa)
Why he came to this area
He was born here in 1889.
What he remembers most about the Bloomfield area
He remembers that there were no cars
and that people rode around on horses. He said that he owned a ranch and that
there were horse and cow hustlers. He remembers that a man got shot and that
they had to take him to Durango
to the doctor.
Narrative 6: 1890
BY: Diane and Dona Stiles
Franklin Butler Allen married
Augusta Benning and established their home in Bloomfield. He operated a butcher shop in the
early 1800s for a short period of time. Augusta Benning died and he married her
sister Winnie Banning in 1890. He operated the Stage and Mail route from Durango to Farmington.
1891 he moved to Farmington
where he operated a Butcher Shop dad a Livery Stable at this time he also
opened a modern Hotel a Skating rink - Community Dance hall,
filling station and garage.
In 1913 he opened the first Theater.
He also served as a road commissioner and Chairman of School Board.
Narrative 7: 1892
BY: Chrissie Wagoner
FROM: Daily Times, Wed. Aug. 15, 1956
THE DAY THE RECORDS
WERE STOLEN BY AZTEC
Mrs. Edith Fields of Farmington, the
former Edith Jarvis, is the only person living today who was at the dance in
the old Court House building at Junction City, (note: this was located close to
the present Rimrock Motor Inn and Valle Grande Addition) in November 1892, when
the building was burned down by incendiaries and county records stolen end
carried, off to Aztec, where the county seat was established.
In 1892 the county seat was at Farmington, the court house at Junction City, where records were stored.
A feud existed with influential
Aztec resident disturbed that the county seat was not in that place.
Feeling was intense. One night
during the Thanksgiving holidays, a dance was in progress on the floor of the
court house at Junction City.
(About 10 couples were tripping the light fantastic.)? Mrs. Fields was one of the
Suddenly the cry of fire rent the
air as the orchestra broke forth in a lively waltz. Dancers rushed o the stage
platform and descended a steep stairway on the outside of the building, making
an escape. One woman fainted in the rush and was carried out of doors.
Horses broke loose from their
tethers at the rear of the court house and wandered aimlessly. It was several
hours before they were restored to their owners.
The Aztec marauders, after removing
the county records set fire to the court house from the outside. That they
hurried to Aztec where the records were deposited. Aztec was then proclaimed as
county seat of San Juan
Mrs. Fields reca1led the story a few
days ago in conversation with her brother-in-law, John Arrington of Shiprock Highway.
Narrative 8: 1895
BY: Lisa Nobles
FROM: R. Bruce Sullivan
My family settled in the Bloomfield area, south of the San Juan River in 1880 after
This area was later known as Hammond,
I was born in Hammond on November 2, 1893. Hammond
was a small farming-ranching community with a church, school, a store (in the Largo area) and a cemetery (still in use). There were
many orchards and thriving farms in Hammond.
Due to the fact that he farmers had so many problems with the Hammond
Irrigation Ditch, it was abandotec1 and the people who had settled in the area,
left. The Sullivan family, whose income was from ranching stayed on in the
area. The Hammond Ditch has now been rebuilt and farming resumed.
Between 1895 and 1897, the county
schools were organized. San Juan County was divided into 24 School
was, and is, District #6. Directors were P.M. Salmon, Charles Hol1y and Millard
I attended the small, one room
school at Hammond- First thru Eighth grades. There were ten to fifteen
students, with one, teacher for all grades. The teacher would board at the
Sullivan house thru the school months. The school was heated in the winter with
a wood-burning stove.
I cannot remember any particular event,
but I believe some of the most important improvements are roads, transportation
and modern buildings.
The roads were more like trails arid
in very poor condition. In the winter, sometimes impassable. The students
either walked or rode horse-back to school. (Hammond
School was abandoned when the people
There was no bridge at the San Juan River
then. The only way to cross was by ferry-boat or horseback. The ferry-crossing
was where the San Juan River Bridge
is now. Many times we would swim our horses across the river for the mail or
Bloomfield District is now blessed
with wonderful paved roads, excellent transportation and beautiful school
buildings. The Hammond students are bused to Bloomfield to school.
This is a far cry from 78 years ago when the county schools were organized, and
the little one-room school at Hammond,
Narrative 9: 1899-1902
BY: Lori Magee
When William McGee came to Aztec in
1899, he bought forty acres of land from the Hampton homestead, and built an adobe house
on it. Two years later, his son, Jim McGee came to Aztec from Centralia, Oklahoma
in December, 1901. The overland trip was made in a covered wagon with his wife,
Kitty, and one small child. Also in the group traveling by wagon train was his
only brother, Tom and his family, consisting of his wife, Anne, and four
children, three boys and one girl. They went on to California, arriving there in l902. Also with them was a cousin, Bill McGee, with
his two sisters and a younger brother.
Coming over Cumbress Pass,
then a very narrow, unimproved trail and covered with winter snow, was a
hair-raising experience. They cut trees to tie on-to the back of the wagons to
keep them from running over the horses on the downhill slope; and all adults
had to push on the low- side to keep the wagons from sliding off into the
J.R. McGee bought forty acres from
the same Hampton
homestead just south of his fathers and adjoining it. A homestead house had
already been built, but most of the land was still covered with sagebrush.
Clearing the land took several years, but as soon as it was ready for
cultivation, alfalfa and corn were planted; fruit trees were soon producing and
cattle and pigs were raised for home butchering.
Narrative 10: 1900
BY: Darrell Stock
THE HAMMOND CANAL SYSTEM
The Hammond project began many years ago. In
about 1900, some Mormon people settled on the south side of the San Juan River, across from the present site of
Bloomfield and Blanco. Here they endeavored to make their homes and establish a
community. It was a hard task for them because of several sand arroyos,
especially the Largo.
The summer rains would come and cause floods which would wash their flumes and
siphons out and then they would be dry for weeks at a time and the crops would
not mature. They had only horses and slip scrapers no bulldozers and back-hoes
so it would take weeks some times to repair the ditch. For this reason the
people gradually moved away and abandoned their dream of a Mormon settlement.
In the early part of the 1960s the
Bureau of Reclamation began construction of the present Hammond Project. This
present system covers much more land than did the original project. The present
system has a main canal and three secondary canals. Cement siphons, headgates
and a permanent cement diversion, dam at the head of the main canal have been
The main canal begins a few miles
down the river from Navajo Dam and runs west through the entire valley, ending
across the river from Farmington.
At Armenta Canyon it divides. One highline canal
runs back east covering the high ground above the main canal. The water is
lifted into it by a natural gas engine. Another highline canal runs west and
covers the high ground above the gravity flow canal. The gravity flow is a
continuation of the main canal, which runs on a natural grade. The main canal
drops about fifty or sixty feet off Armenta canyon, or wash which generates
power through a water turbine to lift the water for the West highline canal.
The water is measured to the farms by second feet, and is quite efficient and
satisfactory. The ground is a sandy loam and requires quite a lot of water, but
by proper management produces a heavy yield of crops suited to this area.
Narrative 11: 1900
BY: Carla Lynch
at the very first was Hammond,
the settlement was South and East of where it is now. It was a small Mormon
community. There are still some signs of it left. The old cemetery is still there.
In later years Hammond, was moved across the river and was renamed Bloomfield.
Mr. Solman was one of the men that
settled at Bloomfield
at that time. There was a ferry crossing the San Juan
There were stills all up and down
the river bottom. One man which some remember was called King of the
was quite a little bustling community.
There was an old stage coach step
down on the end of South First. It was a two story building made of rock with a
large basement used for making
whiskey. There were larger metal bake ovens in the walls. It was torn down in
or about early 60s.
The old Post Office was built of
large poles and stood on the East end of Broadway between two large cotton wood
Back during the Depression, Bloomfield had a Civilian
Conservation Camp South of the river.
On Saturday night Bloomfield became a battle grounds. There
were fights from one end to the other. Really a swinging place.
Our first school was a rock building
located where Farmers Market parking lot is now. It was a 2 room school grades
1st thru 8th. Later there were too many kids so they took an old building that
was across the street from the Post Office and sturdied it up with poles and
moved 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th over there. We had a big coal stove and an outside
bathroom that you could throw a cat through it anywhere in it. It was really a
dandy school. We had a real good time in it.
Later there was a man in Bloomfield that had a wild idea, he thought it was time Bloomfield floated a bond
and built a school. People in town thought we would never need any larger
school then what we had. There was a big argument but he won. They built the
first part of the Central
School. It was no time till it was full and running over.
Back in the early 50s people in Bloomfield
had to use cisterns for water so
during the winter you had
to have water. Which was hard. This same old man put it to the
people that we needed to
incorporate our county and
get us a water system. Well it was
another hassle. But he won so they made
several trips to Santa Fe,
to get this loan. They finally
got the town incorporated it was
the village of Bloomfield. It has grown ever since.
I finally knew this man he was my grandpa. He died in 1962.
BY: Brad Mangum
FROM: Joseph Mangum
Brad Mangums grandparents came from
Arizona in 1901 and settled at Hammond, a small
community south of Bloomfield about 5 miles southeast of Bloomfield, where the
town is now located. They, Joseph and Mamie Mangum, came to San
Juan River country looking
for new land, plenty of water where they could raise their family and run cattle, which at that time was
open range there was no fences and lots of grass. When Joe Mangum came to this
country, he said that the grass out on the open plains country out south of the
San Juan River was plum up to the stirrups on his horse, it was so high he said
you could cut grass with a mowing machine and put up hay almost anywhere, and
this was at that time pretty fine cattle country.
It has since then lots of farming
has went in here. In the early part of the nineteen hundreds they farmed with
water from the San Juan River which was taken out by diversion ditches, no
pumps, it was just taken from the river in ditches and the land was put under
In the early part of the century
they made the Citizens Ditch, on the north side of the San Juan River which
irrigates, from above the little town of Blanco,
about halfway to Farmington from Bloomfield. Then, after
they finished that ditch and put that land under cultivation, they was lot of
talk for many years about putting a ditch in on the south side of the river. In
fact, they was several people started projects on this side, one man almost
tunneled under the Largo Canyon to put in a ditch on this side to water this
country on the south side of the river, but his project stopped for money
reasons or other reasons, not sure which, now. But anyway, there was no farming
to amount to anything, in a big way at least, on the south side of the river
until whats now known as the Hammond Ditch was put in by the government in I
believe it was 1962, when it was finished.
The place where Brad now lives (5 miles southwest of Bloomfield) the land here
surrounding his home has probably the oldest judicated [sic] for 160 acres here
in 1889 and has been farmed off and on since that time. Of course, until pumps
was available to pump water from the river, they was a good many times when the
river would change and the ditch headings would wash away and the canals and
the river bottoms would become deeper where the water was harder to bring out to irrigate the land with.
When I was a boy, until about 1941
through the thirties, there was no irrigation on this place at all, in 1941 we
installed a pump and since then it has off and on been farmed and irrigated
most of the time.
Brad has asked me about some of the
cattle drives we went on. Well, when I was a boy wed join with the Sullivan
family, we run our cattle together in them days, somewhere in the neighborhood
of 3000 to 3500 head of cattle, and we run them on what is known as the Blanco
Canyon around the Huerfano and the Huerfanito, there in the neighborhood of 20
miles southeast of Bloomfield. Wed run them there in the summer time and put
them in on the Gallego country and the Kutz Canyon
in the winter time. Wed gather those cattle in the spring and brand the
calves. Wed all get together and hold brandings, either at Sullivans, or at
our place everywhere wed gather at and wed brand the calves.
Then after the calves were able to
travel, oh, generally about the first of May, we would then gather all the
cattle and drive them from here to the Blanco Canyon, which actually dont seem
like a very long ways now, but if you were riding horseback and driving a
couple thousand head of cattle, you dont make too much mileage a day. At first
wed probably make 8 miles the first day, maybe 10 miles the next day, it would
generally take us 3 days to take them all the way to the Blanco. It is kinda hard
to believe it would take that long to do this, but it did. They would be, oh,
anywhere from 8 to 10 cowboys with these cattle. My dad, that would he Brads
granddad, and Roy Sullivan would be bosses on the drive, the cattle belonged to
them they would tell us boys what to do, when to start, how far to go. I dont
believe that anybody whos ever worked for those two men probably worked for
any nicer people or better men to get along with. They would never ask a hired
man to do anything they wouldnt do their self. Of course they were old timers
and they believed in entering into the work themselves, actually they would
help in the drive mostly, sometimes they would
have other things they needed to do, and come along later on and bring
what we call the chuck wagon, but ordinarily they would have somebody else
drive the chuck wagon and they took part in the drive, helping out with the
Now something else I might mention
here going back a little ways, Brads grandparents settled up the Hammond, it
used to be a little town, a little community built up there in the late
eighteen hundreds, up the San Juan River, southeast of Bloomfield, they lived
there till about 1903. From there they moved back down to the same area Brad
lives in now, and they had a home there, but in 1911 they had a big flood in
this country; the San Juan River flooded then
and washed the home away. I remember my mother telling when she left her home
at midnight and opened the door the water struck her right at the armpits, and
she was carrying a small baby at the time, and she left her home and lost
everything they owned in the flood their home completely washed away.
The ferry boat was the way people
used to cross the river up here, well where the San Juan bridge is now on
highway 44, right above that up by the bluffs they was a ferry boat that used
to carry the people back and forth from one side of the river to the other. If
I remember right George Salomon run the ferry boat, he was an old timer, lived
over at Bloomfield, he run the post office and a grocery store and he had
cattle. I dont remember too much about that, I remember George when he got up
in years. He was a real good community man, he liked people, he liked to do for
people, help people, and didnt always expect
a return for his help, he was the kind of man whod help you and the
only return he ever expected was
when time come and somebody else needed help you would be willing to help them.
Most of these old timers was that way, money was not their goal in life, they
never did seek it, some of them made a lot of it, but they was not seeking it,
they would do things for people without expecting pay of any kind. George was
one of these kind of guys.
I know during the Depression here in
the thirties he had the store, sometimes the people here in the area would have
debts up to 1500 dollars at the store, but he would never turn them down for
groceries and I dont suppose he ever lost a penny I would imagine that
everybody paid him back, he had a belief that if you help people they wouldnt
forget their debts to you, they would come and pay you what they owed you, so I
dont imagine that he ever lost any money out of helping during the depression
What I was saying before about the
ferry boat, when it washed away it lodged right straight north of where Brad
now lives, and when the river went down it was covered with sand and mud, the
ferry boat is still there, to get Co it youd have to dig, it out, but its
been there since I can remember. To get back and forth across the river they
replaced the ferry boat with a one way bridge which was there until 1947 when
they built the present bridge on highway 44. The old one way bridge I remember
well, when you seen a car coming if you couldnt beat it to the bridge you had
to pullover and wait till they crossed.
We used to ship our cattle in this
area here to Denver or Kansas City, and in order to get to the railroad to
shipping point wed have to cross the cattle across this bridge or swim them
and a lot of times in the springtime the river would be so high that wed cross
them across the bridge, and it was so hard to get cattle across a one-way
bridge, that was covered especially and this was a covered bridge, it would
sometimes take us all day to get the cattle across the bridge and on the other
side of the river then wed stay over around Bloomfield in a pasture somewhere
the first night then wed go on to Aztec the next day, and prepare for shipping
on the narrow gauge railroad. It came from Alamosa Colorado
down to Farmington and it turned at Farmington.
Wed load up at Aztec and then at
Alamosa, Colorado theyd transfer them to the wide gauge and then from there
theyd either go to the stock yards in Denver or Kansas City where theyd sell
and most times it would be a community shipment, the ranchers here in this area
would all o together and everyone that had cattle to ship at that time would
put their cattle in the shipment and order cars. I have seen when I was a boy
as many as 35 hundred to 4 thousand head of cattle shipped out of Aztec at one
time to the selling point. Of course the prices were a lot different, today we
get 200 dollars for cows now here at home, and at that time wed ship cattle to
Kansas City and get 16 dollars a head for them, which is quite a difference, of
course times has changed, and these are one of the things thats changed is the
price of cattle and many, many different things in this area.
I can also remember some of the
other cattle drives, getting back, Im kinda jumping around here, but seems like
I remember things that happened and Ill tell about that and then go back to
something I forgot, so youll have to excuse me for this. But I remember cattle
drives when I was a boy, we bought a place in the Gobernador in 1934 and when I was big enough to
make the trips and go on the cattle drives to the Gobernador, we had that place
for about thirty years I guess it was, and wed drive our cattle from home to
the Gobernador for the summer pasture and then wed gather them in the fall an
drive them back.
This country, until the Hammond
Ditch came in on the south side of the river, they were very few people here.
Actually, Brads grandparents and their family and the Sullivan family were the
only people except the Navajo people south of us and west, that lived on the
south side of the river here, at least within a thirty mile radius of the river
here. This country where the Hammond farms and
ditch goes are now was all sage brush and chico
hare country with lots and lots of cattle running on it. At that time when I
was a boy there was no fences in this area at all, in fact it was about 1948
and 1949 when the ranges in this country started to being fenced up, up to that
time there was no fences and the cattle ran free here to the Gallup highway
between Shiprock and Gallup and south as far as the Huerfano and east up into
the Largo Canyon and the Creso and the Blanco Canyon.
This country has seen a lot of
changes, they was no drilling in this country, I think the first drilling that was
done was a well over here in Kutz Canyon about a mile and a half above the Kutz
bridge, I believe it was drilled in the thirties, I dont remember the exact
time, but at the time they it, they hit an artesian well with it and they left
the artesian well and its still flowing there today. The gas well was a
shallow well and I believe it has been abandoned in the last, oh, I dont
remember when it was abandoned, but it has been abandoned. But the water well
itself is still flowing, I dont believe its cut down a bit in the last 40
Of course there was very little
drilling in this area until about the starting
of 1950, from there on theyve drilled and of course this brought an
influx of people. This country has growed population-wise and the town of Farmington has growed to probably 3500 now, and f course Bloomfield, the little
town I remember best of all here has growed too.
Well, the schools growed till they
have an elementary, junior high, and high school here. When I went to school
here at Bloomfield, I graduated from the eighth grade, at that time they held
graduations in the eighth grade, they was five of us kids that graduated from
the little rock school house on the corner where Ted Pennington now has his
store, that was the school yard, they was a little rock school house there and,
if I remember right, there was about thirty-five kids all total at the school
at that time, that was in 1944, when I graduated from the eighth grade. In
1940, I graduated from the high school in Aztec. They was five us that went on
to high school in Aztec.
I used to ride my horse to school,
walk to school, lots of tines wed walk over to school here in Bloomfield and
when we came home at night, why in the thirties they was lots of hoboes and the hoboes would get
after us, I dont know, they never did catch us, I dont know what theyd done
if they had, maybe nothing. We was cautioned to leave them alone, but yet it
was always kind of a challenge to tease them a little or do something to them,
kids is kids, and I was no different from the others and Brads no different
from me. Times has changed, but
kids are still about the same as they was and have been for many, many years.
I dont know that else I could say
here except that I remember things that was told to me, when my dad was telling
about the flood they had here in 1911. This flood left logs laying in front of
the post office in Bloomfield.
Well its actually in the same place today, its in a different building, but its just about one door down, but
there was logs laying there, the water came clear up into the town of
Bloomfield, and of course it
washed a lot of the country away, the river changed and of course this was one
of the reasons irrigation stopped in this country, after that all the ditches
were washed out. They had to completely rebuild everything, and of course
rebuilding everything in those days meant a team of horses and a scraper--not
too many kids today even know what a scraper looks like, and probably very few
of them know even how to hitch up a team, put a harness on them and
drive them, this is s nothing that has
went out, of course this is progress,
the tractors, and the other machinery
has took their place.
Its all good that these things come, but I guess I kinda still miss it, I was raised in a tins they was cattle drive, when it was open country, you could ride for miles and miles and not see a soul.
It was kinda lonely, about all you had to talk to was your horse, and I guess this is something that I talk to Brad and to my
other boys and tell then about
these things and Ive talked to then
so much that when they get to talking
back to me once in a while they ask me what happened in the old days, like it was a long, long time ago.
Things changes fast a4 over a period of forty years theres been a
terrific change here, from the open
country to the farms and the enclosed areas, small areas, and
personally I really miss this type of thing, I was raised
with it, I was raised with the cowboy
and the cowhands. I was raised with
the cattle, with the horses, they was
part of our life. Of course, we
still have a few cattle and we
still have some land and we
still have our horses, and
I try to keep these for the boys,
well, they use them, we rope in the
summer time, team rope, try to kinda keep up a little
of the ole tradition. Its in me and Im trying to leave some of
it with the boys. I dont really know what the future holds, what s
the boys going to do, how the country
will change from now on, or what will happen, but Im sure itll be probably for the good.
Im glad that I could live at the time when I could tell my boys and
relate the stories my dad told me about how the country looked and how
it was when he came here and
all these things I think has been
good for the boys to know, its been good for them,
its kind of a heritage they have because their granddad was a pioneer
in this country, and his dad was a pioneer. He came from Utah to Arizona
and settled there and pioneered that country, and his dad, that would be my great-granddad, came from Nauvoo, Illinois across
the plains and settled in Salt Lake
City with Brigham Young when the Mormon
Pioneers came across the plains.
Brads grandmother, my mother, came
from Kerrville County, Texas,
settled on the Blue in Arizona,
she came there in a covered wagon in 1893. Then in turn, her and Brad s
grandpa was married in Silver City, New Mexico, and then they came to this San
Juan River country to build their home to make their future and, like I said,
to raise their family, and they had 11 children and raised them here right in
this area. In fact, were living in the same home I was born in, part of this
home was built and moved here, it was built in another spot here on the place
in l879 and its still part of the home. So I feel that this part of the
countrys been good for us, good for my boys,
good for my girl, and good far the family.
The town of Hammond and the Hammond
Ditch, of course the Hammond Ditch was named after the town of Hammond, the
little village that used to be up the river, and the town was named after a man
named Hammond that settled in this country back in the 1800s, probably one of
the first settlers in this area. This man was killed, he had been to Salt Lake City to visit some of the leaders of the
Mormon Church. On his way back from Salt Lake, his team, well he was in a buggy
at the time, his team run away with to buggy
and he was killed at this time, nobody knows how it happened, why it
happened, but this is the man that the Hammond Ditch and the town of Hammond
was named after.
The town of Hammond went out of
existence, I guess due to the fact that the Citizens Ditch was built at
Bloomfield in the Bloomfield area, and most of the people that werent ranchers
or running cattle moved across the river and built their homes there and around
that area, they were the McDaniels, the Adairs, some of the old timers here,
the Hipplers, and they all settled on that side of the river and had farms for
many, many years. Most of them
have passed away now, but theys a few of them still here.
Of course, then Hammond became a ghost town and. it was
finally torn plum down, the buildings were moved or torn down. Since the Hammond Ditch went in this south side
of the river is starting to build back up, as we se it today. Of course, the
Navajo Dam was built, starting in the late fifties and finished in the early
sixties, and it is going to water a good deal of the land for the tribe, this is something else that is coming into
this country, a development that is going on here. Theyll probably he
somewhere in the neighborhood of 110 thousand acres once this project is
completed. I would imagine it would be many years before this done, its getting
higher and more expensive to build, so it may be many, many years before this
complete project is in cultivation, but this remains to be seen.
Something else that I kinda forgot
to mention was the fact that the highway was a graveled road, from here to
Albuquerque and it came across up the old bridge up by the bluff, came down the
river about a mile and then went south, just east of where now the Thriftway
gasoline plant is over in Kutz. Then in 1947, when they completed the new
bridge across San Juan River, they went straight on south and built the highway
and put a new bridge in Kutz, then they oiled the highway from here to
Albuquerque or part of it may have been completed sometime before then, but
this was the major part of it from here that was oiled at that time.
Theys been a good deal of development
here, this whole area the roads in this country, of course you can travel
almost anywhere in a car. Twenty-five years ago they was very few roads, and
the ones there were, were not very good. If you went anywhere away from this
area, out on the ranges, you generally had to ride a horse, because the roads
were such that they were just barely able to travel them with a wagon. But now,
theres roads to the gas wells and projects and the different things thats
going on here, had roads built nearly all over the country.
Theres something else I like to
mention here, that I forgot to, is the fact that back in the thirties when I
was a boy here, the San Juan River used to
freeze solid, freeze over in the summertime. My dad and the boys used to hitch
up the team here to the wagon and haul coal up the river on the ice from down
at Waterflow at the old coal mine. The ice was hard enough to hold up the wagon
and the team, they go right down there on the ice and pick up the coal and
bring it back. At that time when they done that theyd have to shoe their work
horses and take the corks on the shoes and sharpen them down till they was
sharp so the horses could go on the ice. I doubt that well probably ever see
this river freeze up like that again due to the Navajo Dams the water comes out
there warm and itll have to get awful cold to ever freeze this river up at
least close to the dam, it might on down below Shiprock, down in there
somewhere sometime might freeze it up, but in around Bloomfield and Farmington
I doubt that thisll happen. I can remember when it did this, we would haul hay
from across the river, my dad would buy hay from some of the farmers over there
across the river in the winter time wed have to haul it over to feed the
cattle and wed just cross on the ice, the ice was so hard it would hold up a
load of hay, we could do this anywhere from two and a half to three months a
year we could cross on the ice until probably, wed start thawing out here in
February and then it was unsafe to cross the river on ice.
Narrative 13: 1902
BY: Susie Beloat
FROM: Mrs. McDaniel
When and Why did
you come to Bloomfield?
In 1902. My mother, two younger
brothers, three sisters, and I came by train to Moab,
Utah from Fairview, Utah.
There we waited on my father and three brothers who were coming by wagon, from
there we came to Hammond.
We came up here because my father had a lung disease.
We lived in Hammond,
across the San Juan River. There was not any
stores or a post office, just a lot of sage brush. e went to Bloomfield for our nail and groceries. The
post office today is in the same spot it was then. Back then the post office
was in the store. The Solmans [sic]owned the store and the post office.
There was a school in Hammond and in Bloomfield.
school was a 1 room school house. It stood to the right side a little ways from
Farmers Market, but it was torn down a while back.
In Hammond, alfalfa and corn was raised. There
was a little bit of water in a ditch. They tried to put a flume in up at Largo, but every time
they did, a big rain would come and wash it away. People cou1 not live there,
so most everyone moved. My father stayed here and dry-farmed.
During the summer my father and
brothers went to work. Momma and us girls were left alone. We had no way to get
for our groceries except walk. Two times a flood came and the bridge was washed
away. But there was a man, 7 miles down the road, who had a little boat. He
would row us across the river so that we could get to the store.
There was not a doctor in Bloomfield
or Aztec, but there was one in Farmington.
There was a dance every Friday
night. The fiddle was played and everyone danced the waltz, 2 step, or square
dance. The boys were real bad about fighting over the girls. If one guy danced
too much with another guys girl, they fought over that. Sometimes the dances
would last all night. Mexican dances were being held in Blanco.
BY: Tim Hare
FROM: William L. Hare
In the year of 1902, I attended the Bloomfield school, Miss
Elmer was the teacher. There were about 20 students attended. To this date only
three are still living. Lois Salmon Giacomelli, Harvey Salmon and myself. The
school house was located about ¾ mile west of the place now owned and occupied
by Tony Perez.
We only had two month school here at
Bloomfield, and the same teacher then went to Hammond on the south side
of the river and taught two months there. All grades including the 8th was
In the year 1910, the school was
moved to a room in the old Swire house, which at that time was located near
what is now the rodeo grounds. In 1912, a one room stone building was built
close to where the Pennington Grocery now stands. In 1914 the school district
was divided. The east part was called Rio Vista and Pearl James, now Mrs. Alex
Hare, was teacher, she had 13 pupils and all grades from first to eight, except
In 1912 McClure and James built a store above Bloomfield
at the crossroads of 64 and 44. James soon bought McClures interest and
continued to do business for many years. There was a small store in Bloomfield, also a post
office operated by Mr. & Mrs. George Salmon. Later Miss Pearl James became
post mistress and the post office was moved to the James store.
About 1913 a small church was built
about ¾ mile north of the store on the west side of the road on what is now
known as the Alex Hare place. It was for the community, as it was the first and
only church for several years.
A big orchard was planted where the Bloomfield school now
stands. It was planted by some company trying to promote the sale of land. It
was rented out to the farmers who would care for it. Usually corn would be
planted between the tree rows.
In 1920 and 21, some of the farmers
started to plant pinto beans, they soon proved to be a good crop to plant, and
many acres was planted, but there was very little machinery to care for that
kind of crops. Soon thrashers were bought, and any and all machinery needed to
care for them. In a few years beans were being planted on all available acres,
the next thing was how to handle them after they were ready. Two or three
thrashing machines were bought, and William Hare put in a bean cleaner, across
the railroad track, east of the depot in Aztec, where he cleaned and shipped
many carloads of pinto beans to different states and Mexico. For years beans was the
main crop grown in the San Juan
There were also many sheep grown
here in the summers and wintered here and out on the mesas south of Bloomfield. Each year
there was thousands of pounds of wool shipped from the station of the D.R.G.
railroad at Aztec.
The Citizens Ditch was built during
the years of 1907 to 1911, which was one of the most important things that was
ever built in our valley.
BY: Deanna Fine
FROM: Jim and Fay Fine
THE CONSTRUCTION OF
THE CITIZENS DITCH
When the Bloomfield area was first settled, there was
no means for irrigating the farmland. In some cases, the water need was met by
landowners digging individual irrigation ditch to the San
Juan River. This system, however, proved to be quite undependable
because of the rise and fall of the water line; over and over the ditches were
completely washed out by the flooding San Juan, making successful crop raising
a hit and miss situation.
In the year 1909 the irrigation
problem was solved. Construction of a Citizens Ditch began. It was under
contract to a firm named Skidmore & Lofotis, whom in turn subcontracted to
several individual Bloomfield and Blanco citizens. The ditch runs seventeen
miles, from origin at the San Juan River several miles northeast of Blanco,
down through Bloomfield Canyon, to Crawford Mesa, eight miles west of Bloomfield.
The construction of this ditch was
back-breaking labor. Blasting was done to build tunnels through countless
hillsides and under numerous sand arroyos. But the open area was dug out with
men driving horse teams pulling scrapers. The Citizens Ditch was completed in
1960. Each landowner under this ditch was a stock holder, and water was
designated according to land acreage.
The completion of this ditch opened
up the development of Bloomfield.
BY: Vanessa Baca
FROM: Mrs. Pauline G. Malehorn.
FLOOD OF 1911
It was early October, 1911, when the
rains came. Up in the mountains of Colorado an
innocent gathering of mist twined into showers which followed, developing into
curtains of water leaving heavily downstream toward New Mexico. Both the Animas and San Juan Rivers overflowed.
Warning telephone messages were relayed
from Pagosa Springs, Colorado
to the lower San Juan
Valley. The mission was
apprised of the threatening situation over telephone wires only recently
installed. Great concern was felt for the Methodist establishment, located
vulnerably near the south bank of the churning San Juan,
flooded again and again by increasing discharges from the Animas and La Plata rivers.
Cloudbursts continued to lash the San
Juan basin for several days.
Word came one violent night that the
water in the main street of Durango
had reached up to the sides of horses; the children at the mission, and the
women workers, were evacuated to Mrs. Eldridges cottage hospital, situated
safely to the south on higher ground.
Mr. Frank Tice and Mr. Weston,
caretakers at the mission, returned from delivering the children to the
Eldridge hospital and remained on the mission premises until awakened in the
early morning by the splashing of water against the wall of the building where
Also in the building with them was Superintendent
Simmons. The men in their sleeping quarters were unable to communicate with
each other above the roar of the spreading deluge.
Mr. Weston, the first to awaken,
called vainly to Tice and Simmons. When he received no answer, he assumed they
had managed to get out. With great difficulty, wading and then swimming, he
attained shore and the safety of the Eldridge cottage. When Supt. Simmons was
awakened by the same splashing, he too called to the others and received no
reply. First, he clutched boards from the dissolving building, then a floating
staircase, and finally an uprooted tree, tossing wildly down the river. Simmons
and his tree were lodged on an island from which he was rescued the next day.
Mr. Tice, unable to swim, climbed to
the roof of a disintegrating laundry room. Finally all of the structure had
been washed away, save its floor which formed for Tice a sort of raft. On this
watery barge with the faithful mission dog, Tice managed to ride downstream for
a short distance. Crowds of people, John among them, watched helplessly from a
rock ledge on the higher north bank of the river as Mr. Tice lost his footing
and perished in the raging water. The dog swam safely to shore.
Describing the disaster, Mrs.
Pauline G. Malehorn recorded:
It had been an unprecedented flood.
At its crest, the river was one-half mile wide at the site of the bridge, and
the main channel was forty feet deep. The spread of the water covered the
bottom land from bluff to bluff. Along the San Juan Valley,
one hundred and fifty miles of bottom land was devastated. Twenty-five miles of
railroad and fifty homes were washed out. The bridge across the Animas at
Aztec, fifteen miles east of Farmington,
was the only one left in the county. The total loss to the county was estimated
at half a million dollars.
The flood coincided with the Navajo
Fair at Shiprock. Sightseers from Durango had
flocked down on the train over the tracks of the Denver
and Rio Grande railroad spur which had been
completed to Farmington
in 1905. When the rails washed out John rented a surrey with fringe on top
and transported marooned passengers back to Colorado.
The mission was a total loss.
However, because of its catastrophic destruction, public sympathy was aroused.
When a new location was selected by the bureau secretary of the Missionary
Society, all Farmington
joined the Methodist group in raising funds for a reconstructed mission at its
present site. This has expanded into an enterprise with skilled instruction for
Navajo boys and girls through the 12th grade. Brick buildings are set back from
tree-lined avenues on spacious lawns, resembling a university campus.
records through the years indicate recognition from all religious persuasions.
Commemorating addresses have been delivered by Mormon bishops; medical
assistance for many years was provided by Catholic Dr. Michael D. Moran;
additional aid has often been granted from a variety of Protestant
The October visions of two strong
women in 1891 have grown beyond their most avid fantasies. Their pioneering
spirit helped mightily to weld the cultures of Anglo and Navajo.
BY: Cheryl Lee
FROM: Mr. Don Lee (father)
This story was told to me by my dad.
He did not know the mans name but its a true story. The man was about 70 or 75.
When this man was about 10, he and
his father were traveling through Largo
in horse and wagon. They came up to two men hanging in a tree. A little farther
down the road some other men came up to them and started making conversation,
asking if they seen anything strange or interesting. The guys father told the
men no, and one of the guys said, theyre o.k., let em go. And they left.
BY: David Truby
FROM: Stella Truby Pawley
We didnt have anyone in school
then, so did not move for that purpose. The people were all very friendly,
everyone knew everyone; there were no strangers then.
We lived in Bloomfield in the winter of l9l5 and 1916,
moved there on November 18, 1915. The reason was to feed our cattle and sheep,
as we couldnt farm in Largo
Canyon. We rented from a
Mr. Hall and lived in a little cabin. It was a nice winter and all went well
and we moved back to Largo
Canyon in the spring.
Left there March 16. At that time there wasnt a bridge at Bloomfield, but there was a ferry boat, which
was about where the bridge is now.
I remember on March 12, we crossed
the river on the boat and the river was so high it lapped over the boat and the
floor on bottom was covered with water. That same time the fruit trees were all
in bloom, but a late frost killed everything, there wasnt even an apple left.
I only remember one school house--up
next to the hill. This was before the oil boom, the country was all farms--hay and fruit and gourds.
We lived across the river and had to
ford the river or cross the boat to get to town or the Post office.
I remember a black and white billy
goat we had, we called him Happy Hooligan and he came to the door every morning
and begged for a pancake, then he would go back to the feed pen and didnt
loiter around till the next morning.
Also, there was a bumper crop of
Jack Rabbits there that winter. They fed on the hay stacks, ate big holes in it
till the calves would have room to lie down in there and get out of the sun or
wind or whatever.
BY: Terry Fortney
FROM: Floyd Post
My name is Floyd Post and I came to New Mexico with my
parents in a three wagon caravan in 1917. We started from Durham,
Oklahoma, in Rogers Mill
County. We came across the
prairies of Texas into to Clayton, N.M.,
then into Springer.
We drove into Springer in the late
afternoon and parked our wagons on the side of the road near the grocery store.
We had 5 or 6 loose horses following us. When we stopped, my Dad and the other
two men Clyde Hanna, and Bill Cheatham went to the store for supplies. They
were gone 10-20 minutes and when they returned, the loose horses were gone. Clyde saddled his horse and went in search of these
horses. He went back about a mile but could find no tracks. He thought maybe
they had been frightened by a car, which was a strange machine in those days.
He finally found the tracks going down a lane that branched off of the main
road. He followed the tracks and came to shed behind which wire was stretched.
Behind this wire stood the horses. A he started to take the wire down he heard
someone tell him not to touch the wire. He told the man he just wanted to get
his horses and at this time was informed they were in the city pound. He went
ahead and took the wire down and returned to our wagons with the horses. He had
just gotten back when three officers arrived to arrest him for taking the
horses out of the pound. They were going to take Clyde
off of his horse, but he got down himself, and as he did they started to beat
him with a billy club. At this time Bill Cheatham ran out and shouted for them
not to beat Clyde, at this they hit Bill over
the head, splitting it open. By then my Dad had joined in and more men supposed
to be officers came. After a few minutes nine men took our three men to jail. I
believe by this time they were all pretty well beaten up.
The way I understand it, the jail
was a building 6 by feet, and had a q small hole in one wall with bars but no
glass. There was a bed with a mattress but no. blankets. It rained all, night
and the wind was from the side where the window was and the men in the jail
were soaked. As this was in early May the nights were still pretty cold. So
being too cold and wet to sleep, they sat on the mattress and talked.. Bill was
a small man but he got so mad he would cuss for an hour, and then cry for an
hour. My Dad and Clyde got so tickled they
started to laugh at him, so then he laughed for art hour. This is the way they
spent the night.
When the officers took the men to
jail, the women knew it would be up to them to take care of the wagons for the
night. Mama and my aunt and Bills wife drove the wagons out of town and
proceeded to get set up. They backed Bills wagon right up tight to the fence
and unhitched the team. Then backed Clydes
wagon up to the front of Bills and then ours up to that one. This put the
wagons in a half circle. They then tied all the horses to the fence, stringing
them out from the fence to beyond the front of the first wagon. This way nobody
could steal the horses without being heard. The last horse out was Old
Shortie, he was strictly a one man horse. If a stranger had come around him
that night he would have snorted till you could have heard him for a mile. Mama
had the back plugged with a wagon and the front plugged with Shortie. Bills
wife was in the rear wagon, my aunt in the middle one and Mama was riding herd
in the front wagon with a 12 gauge shot gun in her hands, so she was very
confident that no one would get her horses that night.
Sometime the next morning after the
three men had paid fifteen dollars in fines, our caravan got underway again.
We arrived at the old homestead near
on May 17, 1917. My Dad homesteaded 520 acres. My brother and I still own this
land, which is about five miles north of Lindrith.
I went to my first school when I was
5 years old. It was just a little log cabin and a private home. At this time
there were only 14 pupils. My brother and I walked three and a half miles to
school and at this time we had seven months of school a year. Also, you could
only go to the 8th grade, as there were no high schools. Today two of my school
chums live in Farmington
and one in Aztec.
In those days there were many wild
horses, or mustangs, running loose on the range. It was a great pastime for the
young men to catch them. It as also a necessity, as there werent many horses
and very little money to buy them even if you could find them for sale. These
faithful little horses were used for saddle horses and also work horses to farm
our big fields of 8-10 acres.
Our fields and some of the other
fields might have reminded some people of Abraham Lincoln. We didnt have rail
fences, but ones made with poles.
We always tried to keep up-to-date
with our mail, as this was the only way we had of getting news. Someone would
go to the post office at least once every two weeks and get the mail for
everyone in the whole community. This would take about two days on horseback to
make the round trip. The post office was in Cuba, N.M., about thirty-five miles
On one occasion my mother drove a
team of mules to Cuba.
These mules were about 20 years old. One of them had a wire cut foot that was 3
or 4 times the normal size and needed the
attention of a vet. However, at this time they were fat and slick and very
beautiful. One of the merchants in Cuba saw the animals and decided he
had to have them. Mama told him he didnt want them, but he insisted that he
did He asked her how old they were, she told him that they were ten and eleven.
He insisted she sell them to him, but she declined, saying he would have no way
to get her wagon home. The merchant wanted a promise that she would bring the
mules back, but I dont think she gave that promise. However, in a few days she
was back in Cuba
with the mules and the merchant saw them and still insisted he must have them.
At this time, considering their age and physical condition, they were probably
worth about fifty dollars. Mama, not really wanting to sell the mu1es, set a
price. I dont recall exactly what it was, but I think it was around four
hundred and fifty dollars. The merchant, wanting the team, quickly accepted.
She let him have the collars with the mules, as it was more or less customary
at this time to let the collars go with the animals if they had one. She
managed to get a team someplace and hurried and hitched up and left for home. A
group of men who were in the store and heard about the deal asked the merchant,
what in the heck are you going to do with those mules? They are 20 years old or
older, they will have to be fed during the winter, and one has a foot as big as
a water bucket.
About a month later my dad was in Cuba and the
merchant jumped him, saying he wanted his money back. My dad informed him that
he didnt sell the mules to him, to which the merchant replied, your wife did
and she lied to me. She said they were 10 and 11 years old, but my neighbors
tell me they are 20-25 years. My Dad quickly told him 10 & 11 are 21 and if
I had let a woman beat me in a horse deal, would keep my mouth shut and not let
anyone know about it. The next time the merchant spoke to my mother was in 1937
some twenty years later.
In those days a mans word was as
good as a bond, he didnt need a note. You could buy a six months supply of
groceries with a twenty dollar bill. Now, if you arent careful, you wont have
enough for supper out of that twenty dollar bill.
Since that time, in order to make a
living, I have gathered piñons, punched cows, hunted rabbits for meat and the
skins, and trapped coyotes for the fur. Drove truck, worked in earth moving
construction, building construction. I have been an auto and heavy equipment
mechanic, traveled the Western U.S. as a
salesman. Worked the wheat harvest in North
Dakota and put in 31 years as fireman and engineer on
the Santa Fe Railroad. Now Im on a new work week plan. I have seven days off a
week with pay. All I need is a raise.
In 1918 my great grand parents
rolled into Farmington
from Samotaio. (San Mateo?)
They moved here because they liked the rich soil and the orchards, mainly
because of farming though. It took them about a week to get here from Samotaio.
They came on a wagon pulled by a team of horses. It is said that my great-grandparents
were the first Spanish people ever to move into Farmington and live there for any length of
There is one incident the family
recalls as being pretty comical. It so happened that when they moved to Farmington they moved
next door to an Anglo family. So when the little boy of the Anglo family found
out that someone moved next door he went and told his mom, Mom, you know that
family that moved next door? There is something very strange about them, they
talk and talk, but yet say nothing. But what the little boy didnt know was
that they were speaking Spanish.
1918, Las Vegas, N.M.
BY: Dana Payne
There is an old farm in Las Vegas, New
Mexico that belongs to one of my aunts. It dates back
to about 1918 or as late as 1808.. There they have an old church, a Catholic
church. Old pictures are in the church. It also has an old pump organ that
still works. There is also an old stove that they used in 1908 that burned
wood. The church is built like they used to build them with log beams. It is
still standing there the way they built it a long time ago. It has a big cross
in front of the church, also on the farm there is an old store that has ledgers
dating back to 1808. The ledger shows that people bought coffee for 5 cents and
bacon 20 cents. And clothes for one dollar. The store is still standing there.
There are a lot of old graves, most
of them are children that died there. Some of the graves were old or young
people that died there too. They have an old bridge that was built in 1918. It
is still there and it has water running under it. That is all about my aunts
BY: Tim Maloy
There was a young prospector panning
for gold up in Kutz
Canyon. One day he was panning
for gold up the canyon quite a ways when he stumbled up on a cave. He walked in
the cave and found that it was full of gold. So he filled up his bags went out
of the cave and found his bearings and went to Farmington. Before he could go back to the
cave, he was drafted into the army and he went to France. When he got back he
couldnt find it. He has died and never has found it.
BY: James Cartwright
FROM: Mrs. Pau1Manum
When and why did
Born in Durango,
but came to Bloomfield
when she was little. (1920)
Her mother lived at the old Solman
house and she was married in the old shack behind the Solman house. That was in
1916. Then her mother moved to Durango
and had Mrs. Mangum. Then they moved back to Bloomfield.
Mrs. Mangums children used to go to
school where Farmers Market is. It was a two room brick building.
When her husband and she were young,
they rode horses to school. They had to ford the river (the bridge wasnt
BY: Julian Martinez
FROM: Grandma Rose Rodriguez
BLOOMFIELD 50 YEARS AGO
There were only a few homes here,
most of them have lasted. The post office was run by the James family of the
big families at the time. The post office location was where the turn off to Aztec
comes in from Blanco. The James family also had a big store.
Seitzingers, Hares, Sategnas,
Giacomellis, Crawfords, Faverinos, Mottos, and descendants of these families
were all that composed Bloomfield
at that time.
Mr. Crawford homesteaded on the Crawford
Mesa. His family were almost all boys. Pearl and
Losmie James were the dames of Bloomfield.
They both married the Hare boys, Alex and Willie. The Hare family raised a lot
of hay and employed a lot of people stacking and putting up hay by hand. Grandma
Sategna lived back of the present Rudy Ferrari home. They came from Italy and
settled here. One of the Giacomelli boys, who also came from a large family,
played the accordion wonderfully well and furnished music for the dances at the
The area where so many homes are now
located south of Harrys, the small store going towards Blanco, was all chico country which
furnished good pasture for wintering stock.
No paved roads were available. Dirt
roads were the fad and there were no developments of gas wells so everyone
burned coal and wood.
There was a big talk about building
the Navajo Dam, but this was the first big planning. The Hammond Ditch started
and the Largo Canyon would wash it away so it came to
be thing of the past. Also Mr. Hartman from Aztec spent a lot of money trying
to get the ditch across the Largo,
but his efforts were in vain.
P.M. Solomon lived on what is now
the Solomon Ruins. He had a home built of posts, but beautifully landscaped on
the outside. People would drive to Farmington
by horse drawn buggies and most of them used the Solmans as a stopover.
I can still remember one cowboy that
was there; he was rather quiet, and dressed quite dressy with wrist cuffs3
beautiful chaps, a six-gun on one side and all; he made quite an impression on
me and my Dad told me he had been in trouble of some kind.
At about this time we had moved the
family to another ranch about 12 miles west of the home ranch and only 7 miles
last of Bayfield. We remained there until I was 13 years old. I shall never
forget my happy childhood living on this ranch--helping put up hay, riding
after the milk cows and range cows, helping milk and brand cattle, going hiking
out in those sweet smelling woods with my brothers and sisters, going swimming
in the little creek that ran by our house and in the winter sled riding over 4
foot of crusted snow. Many times have I been carrying wood into the hours in
the evening and heard many coyotes howling in the near by forests and an
occasional deep throated howl that I was sure was a wolf.
In those days the roads were all
dirt roads and so it wasnt uncommon for us to have company quite often in bad
weather by someone who couldnt make it - any farther in the mud. At times we
had some interesting characters stay all night with us and one I remember in
particular was a candy and gum salesman who left with us, the next morning, two
big boxes of gum and candy. I remember another one quite well also who stopped
in-in good weather and ordered my mother too cook him some dinner; he was known
as 2-Gun Jimmy, and my mother knew him by his dress without asking him
his-name. He was quite impressive with his two guns strapped on his hips and
his all leather outfit-chaps, spurs, boots and all, but us kids kept our
distance from him as we had heard that he forced his 16 year old wife to watch
while he chopped a mans head off with an ax. However, he was also polite with
women and after he ate, he thanked my mother for the meal and left and we never
heard of him again.
There was two bachelors that ranched
about ten miles on up the road east of us that we kids thought a lot of. Their
name was Bob and Ray Muskovitch -- mostly German, I believe, but they liked
kids so we were always glad when they come to see us. They loved the light
bread my mother baked, and many times they had us kids snitch light rolls out
of the kitchen when my mother went outside, she would always let them take a
loaf or two home with them and we never had to swipe it out of the kitchen but
they got a big kick out of us kids doing that for them.
They could tell some of the darndest
stories you ever heard. After supper was over we would gather around the
cleared table with them and my mother and dad and they would start in. Ill
never forget one night Bob was telling one quite scary and mysterious when
something blew the kerosene light out--the windows were shut, the door was
closed; so Ill never know what blew the light out but I do know that it sure
added emphasis to his story. I was about 7 years old at that time.
When I was about ten or eleven my
dad decided to buy a sawmill to go along with his cattle business and it was at
this sawmill camp that I got my first taste of fried porcupine meat. I really
enjoyed it I thought it was really good.
These sawmillers lived simple but
most interesting lives. I remember their cabins never had no glass in their
windows, they first tacked white cloth over their sliding windows.
My mother and dad went to town about
once every two weeks and left most of us kids at home since there were ten of
us at this time; so while they were away, w took advantage of them and rode the
foxier o higher lived horses that we were not allowed to ride when they were
home. We were lucky not to get hurt by one of them as I cam remember one in
particular that would have drug us to death had we got our foot stuck in the
stirrup or tangled in the rope with him as he was still just a bronc and acted
as though he would never trust man.
When I was about eleven or twelve
years bid, a drought hit this country and it became drier and drier; this was
in the early thirties (1931) and depression also hit the country at about this
time, grasshoppers swarmed our ranch and destroyed most of our wheat and hay.
All in all, we lost both cattle ranches and saved only the sawmill and our
personal belongings. At this time we moved to Flora Vista, NM, I was 13 years
old. After living in the mountains all my life, I thought that NM was the most
desolate and barren country I had ever seen; nevertheless, after a year or so,
I learned to like it and have ever since, but not as much, I dont believe, as
I did the mountains.
For the next four years I spent
clerking in my Dads lumber yard and the next four years were spent getting my
high school education after which I enjoyed going one year to college. Perhaps,
one reason I enjoyed going this one year to college so much was because there
were only 54 students all
together and 36 of these were girls. I had just started going with girls so it
made it pretty nice to have two girls for every boy.
After one year of college and when I
was 21 years old, I worked in a defense plant for about 3 months and then moved
to Pruitt, NM on my own with a job in a gasoline
refinery as a fireman firing boilers for the refining of crude oil. During the
next year and a half I spent working and chasing girls. I never became too
interested in any of them or too involved, but I did have a lot of fun at the
dances and on dates. I especially remember when a ranchers son and I went to
the Las Vegas Cowboys reunion following a carload of five girls. We stayed
three days for the rodeo and a dance every night.
In November of this same year,
(1912) I. attended a country dance back in my home town of Aztec and while
there become acquainted with and made a date with a cute little girl that
interested no more than any girl I ever gone with. It went on from there and I
quit the refinery job because they wouldnt let me off to go see her. I then
got a job with the State Highway Dept. as time-keeper which I had when we were
I bought a 16 trailer-house and she
helped me fix it up. We then moved it over to a place called the
Top-of-the-World where we stayed all summer and enjoyed the job and work very
much and also the friends we made with the Dept.
In November of that year (1942) we
moved back to Aztec and rented a farm where our first child was born. That was
a hard year for us as we had little money from the farm, a new baby, a hospital
and doctor bill on the baby because she became very sick when only 3 months
old; and we could borrow but very little on the farming operation. We had to go
without a car, so we did a lot of walking; many times we borrowed the neighbors
burrow and cart to take the eggs into the country store to trade for more
chicken feed and groceries. About August of that year a flood washed two-thirds
of our total bean crop away leaving about $2,000.00 worth of bean to harvest.
We felt lucky to come but of this flood with that may beans at that.
We stayed until December of 1947 on
the farm end then I decided to go back. To work in the gas business--a line of
work I have always liked better than any other type of job; only this time I
was to work in the field, I liked this better when in the refinery and the year
we spent but taking care of these wells was more like being on a pension.
Besides we had bought a car and we could leave any time we wanted to.
At the end of a year this job was
about to play out so I had always wanted to be a bookkeeper. Therefore, we
moved to Tucumcari where I pursued the vocation for six months and decided I
definitely did not care for bookkeeping. We then moved back to the Farmington area and back
into the gas fields where we were again happy with ourselves and our work. We
stayed on this job for 13 years when we decided to rely completely on our egg
enterprise for our means of support, having 2,000 layers at this time. All went
well for one year when outside competition from other states forced us out of
During this one year, however, I was
changing my mind about liking to work with chickens. A steady diet of working
with them taught me how miserable it is to work with them every day. So after a
year and a half with them; we sold them and I went to work as a sporting goods
salesman at Gibson Discount Store in Farmington
while waiting for a job to open up back in the gas fields. After 6 months as
salesman, I again obtained a job back with the same company in the gas field as
a meter inspector. I intend to stay with the company this time until I am 65.
Narrative 26: 1920
BY: Joyce Warden
FROM: Fred Bixler
In the middle of the l920 s there
were five schools within the boundaries of the original Gobernador Gas field
(Before the Northwest changed over). Most everyone farmed and had a few livestock. The Post office was at
the Horn place next to the church. The
Horns also ran a small store. The supplies had to be brought in by wagon and horses from
either Dulce or
Arboles, Colorado. The roads were very bad, and a trip to either place with a team and wagon took
at least four clays.
There was a big trading post at
Dulce operated by Emmett West. Things were very high priced there. It was
impossible to buy them except to resell at a profit. Emmett West claimed to
operate on a 2% profit but admitted he didnt really understand percent. All he knew was if he paid a
dollar for an item it was resold for
two dollars. Actually he was as sharp as a tack and was only kidding
about not knowing figures. But he was not necessarily kidding about the amount
of profit he made. The story goes that he was in Denver and went into the Brown Palace Hotel without a coat and tie, etc. The
serve him so he told him that he could buy the place and fire him, and
The mail came twice a week from
Arboles from the 1920s until the late 1940s. Never in all of this time was it
carried by a motor vehicle. There were a number of different carriers during
this time and they used all kinds of vehicles. One of the most practical was
small plywood cornered wagon with a wood-burning stove inside. Of course, they
could pick up wood anywhere along the way. It always looked so warm and
comfortable to see the wagon go by with the smoke streaming out behind.
Especially to a person outside in the freezing cold. The mail always came through
regardless if it was 20 degrees below zero or hot summer weather.
The schools were taken very
seriously and attending them was considered a privilege because there was never
a guarantee there would be a school there the next year. The schools provided a
good part of the social life and entertainment of the community. A typical
example (maybe not typical but true) was a school program at one of these
schools for Christmas in 1926. The teacher was a young man teacher from Texas. He had a terrific
education but a number of peculiarities in his way of doing things. They
started the program by singing through a small song book from cover to cover.
One of the fourth graders had three large typewritten pages of poetry to
recite, plus everyone in the school had some kind of a speech to give. It all
added up to two and a half hours without a break. But they ended the program
with refreshments and some of the parents were still glad they had driven for
miles through a foot of snow to get there.
There were 14 pupils at that time
but it gradually dwindled down to two as the snow melted and the mud got deeper
and also some of the parents got mad at the teacher. The two remaining students
belonged to the family that the teacher boarded with but they still had to walk
or ride 3 ½ miles to the school hours
each day. The contractor said that the teacher was to spend a specified number
of hours at school each day.
Some of the more prominent owners of
that day were the Gomez family, Trujillos, Sanchezs, and the Smiths. Also the Arnolds ran a few
cattle. These ranchers ran a lot more cattle than they do today. The range was
not nearly so good for grazing either.
The Bixlers moved to the present
place in 1925. They farmed at the time. Corn and potatoes were the main crop
besides wheat and oats. Horses were run on the forest and to gather the horses,
the boys had to walk a mile or two just to catch the horses. It was considered
an easy ride to come from Allison,
Colorado to the Bixlers ranch in
a day on horseback. Even in a pickup now days it takes 5-6 hours.
The Vaqueros Ranger Station was
going strong in the l920s Rangers didnt stay long, usually a year or so.
Cordovas lived just below the ranger station. Lynches and a number of other
homesteaders lived about five miles from the Bixlers. Just south of the Bixlers
Where the Buster Webbs live and much
of the country around there was owned by Willy Lobato. North and west of
Gobernador Camp lived Bill Smith then Porter Smith and then the Gomez family.
Horns owned all the area around the school. Tom Martinez owned the area just
before you get to Buster Webbs.
BY: Dale Schneider
FROM: Joe Schneider
SHORT STORY OF MY
I was born Nov. 16, 1920 in the heart
of the Rocky Mountains of La Plata County, Colorado--Pagosa Springs being the
closest town, about 20 miles away. My birth certificate records Bayfield, CO
as the closest doctor came out from Bayfield when I was born. I was born a blue
baby with possible heart defects and had several hard sicknesses, such as
pneumonia and whooping cough, while still a baby. At approximately a year old I
had infantile paralysis and because my mother never gave up rubbing my
withering legs and hips every day with olive oil, I was able to learn to walk
again at the age of two years old.
The youngest I can remember was
being pleasantly awakened in the mornings by the cries of the saucy top-capped
blue jays who were nearly always present in the big pine trees around our house
and listening to the sigh of the wind through their needles as I took my nap.
At about the age of two or three,
abouts, I remember standing at the window on tip-toe and watching my daddy feed
the cattle hay with a big team and sled. Every once in a while he would holler
whoa at them, so for several
years after that all horses were whoas-whoas to me.
I was fortunate to have been born
and raised up to 13 years of age on a cattle ranch in these beautiful mountains
since it did give me and my brothers and sisters a lot of pleasures and a lot
to do. Some was hard work but we enjoyed it.
I remember at the age of 3 or 4
years I went to stay with my Dad up on what we called the upper ranch to do
some work with the cattle. I felt quite proud because my Dad put me on a horse
and he and another man watched while I went down out of a bunch of 200 head of
cattle and cut a cow out of the herd and brought her up to the corrals. At
mealtimes, I ate my Dads cooking and listened to the conversations of the
other cowboys who were staying with us.
The population was only about ¼ of what it is now. Schools were few
and scanty buildings were much like the Little Red School House in the
childrens storybooks. There was only one teacher to teach the first eight
grades. The high schoolers were bused to Aztec. The outbreak of development has
come from gas wells in later years. These natural potentials have really made
an enormous change for Bloomfield,
as in the Navajo Dam, with construction getting underway in 1958.
BY: Tessie Webb
A. KITTELL AND THE
FIRST OIL REFINERY
Arthur Kittell came to Bloomfield in 1925 on
account of oil. Mr. Kittell built the first oil refinery in San Juan County.
He manufactured white gasoline, kerosene, and distillate, which is now made
into diesel. Mr. Kittell later started making diesel fuel in his own refinery.
There were three oil wells in the San Juan County in 1925. Mr. Kittell bought the crude oil from these wells. In
1926, there were more crude oil wells drilled. Mr. Kittell also bought crude
oil from these wells.
The wholesale price of gasoline in
1925 was $.20 a gallon. Kerosene and distillate was about $.15 a gallon. There
is a great difference in the price in 1925 to the price in 1976.
In 1925, there were only three kinds
of cars. There were Model T Fords, Dodges, and Buicks. Mr. Kittell had a Buick.
Arthur Kittell made and took special
aviation fuel to the private planes in Farmington.
The planes couldnt use ordinary gasoline in their engines.
Mr. Kittells first plant took in 25
barrels of crude oil a day. In 1927, he started taking in 100 barrels a day. In
1930, Mr. Kittells plant started taking in 250 barrels a day.
Arthur Kittell sold his refinery in
1952. He and Mrs. Kittell are now living in a very nice house. Mrs. Kittell has
lived in and around Bloomfield
most of her life.
BY: Viola Sanchez
FROM: Jose and Margarita Archibeque
Jose and Margarita Archibeque were
married in 1930.
They decided to apply for some land.
They could homestead the land on these conditions: the land had to be fixed
(leveled, fenced etc.), a house and a corral had to be built. The land would
have to be kept for three years before they could acquire a title.
They went to apply for it in the old
Aztec courthouse. In order to do so, they would have to have four witnesses.
These witnesses were Frank Gonzales, Frank Armenta, John Thomas and Sabino
It would cost eight dollars to
record the papers at the courthouse. For these eight dollars they received
forty acres of land.
The house they built to acquire the
title is still standing.
BY: Anthony Gohlke
FROM: Ella Havens Bearden
My maiden name was Ella Havens. My father
was a Baptist Minister. In 1936, Forrest and I were married at Leedey, Oklahoma.
We went to Malin, Oregon. In 1939, we came to Aztec, New Mexico. Then in 1944
we moved to Bloomfield.
We were driving a 1935 Chevrolet pickup. We had two children, Dale and Mary.
There were no paved roads here at
that time. They were very rough and full of chuck holes. We bought 40 acres
three miles east of Bloomfield.
This is still our home. The house was one l4x14 room with two side-rooms built
on. One side was divided into two room&, kitchen and bedroom. Forrest
always said that it came a wind storm and blew some boards with nails in them
up there and they stuck together and this was called a house.
Most of the buildings were old and
small compared to our houses today. Some of them were adobe. We still have one
building that was built of adobe. We still use it for storage or mostly for
Bloomfield wasnt very much business-wise
when we moved over here. There was a post office, two stores, one service
station, a blacksmith shop, a garage end a bar. The blacksmith shop, garage,
and the bar were all in one building. This belonged to the Faverinos. The post
office and one grocery store were in the building that is now Mrs. Louise
Sategnas home. The other store was where the Western Auto store is now.
We had some bad winters but I think
the worst was the winter of 61-62. It started snowing on the 7th of December
and there was snow on the ground through March and the temperature got to 34
degrees below zero during this time. That was the winter that we lost our peach
orchard. It was winter killed.
Only the Catholics had a church
building in Bloomfield
at the time we moved here. The Mormons built their first building soon after we
Both of these buildings are still
standing. There was a non-denominational Sunday School meeting in the Rio Vista
School. I went to it some
but wasnt satisfied with it, so I drove to Aztec to church and Sunday School.
There were two schools when we moved
here; Rio Vista and the Bloomfield
School. Bloomfield School
was a two room rock building that stood on the lot where Farmers Market is now.
Rio Vista was about 2½ miles east of Bloomfield,
It is now being torn down. This is where Dale started to school. There was only
one teacher, so some of the older students helped the teachers with the younger
children. We moved down closer to Bloomfield.
There was a big apple orchard where
the High School is now. We took care of that orchard for 3 years. It was while
we were there that the two schools were consolidated and the Bloomfield Central
School was built.
By this time, cars and trucks were
well-known and most everybody owned a car or pickup. There were still a few
wagons still in use.
There were four in our family when
we moved here. Two of our children were born here. They all four went to the Bloomfield School. Mary, Richard and Marjorie went
the whole twelve years here. Dale went to high school in Aztec from Bloomfield.
The main crops here were hay and
pinto beans. All kinds of vegetables were raised. Apples and peaches were
raised along with other fruits.
BY: Angie Armenta
When my mother moved to Bloomfield there was only
one house down by where the baseball field is today. She went to school in an
old rock building which was where the Farmers Market stands now.
There were only two rooms and. two
teachers that taught 1st grade through 8th grade. And after that she had to
ride a bus to Aztec the High. School there because Bloomfield did not have one.
The post office and the store were
part of the Sategnas house where the post office is now. The Jehovahs hall
was straight across from the post office and was used as a dance hall for
several years. And just west of it was the bar and the only bar and station.
In 1956 my mother and father moved on Bergen Lane and the Mesa Alta Junior High
had not been built yet and was part of an old alfalfa field until 1963.
BY: Howard Cluff
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Grant Cluff
I moved to Bloomfield in 1943. My father bought a farm
east of Bloomfield.
I attended a two room rock school
house that was located where the Farmers Market parking lot is now. Hot lunches
were served from an addition to the back of this building. My mother was cook. The
average 8th grade graduation class was about 4 or 5 children. We attended High
School in Aztec. One small bus was needed to transport all the students to
BY: Joi Dennard
FROM: Mrs. Forest Bearden
I came to the Bloomfield School District
area in 1944. Because my husband and I bought a farm down here.
1. The schools have grown immensely
and improved in many ways.
2. The churches have grown, for
instance, before the Baptist church building was built we held services in my house.
BY: Letha Masterson
Thirty years ago
Expansion and modernization of
educational facilities for the Navajo Indians was urged by Dr George A. Boyce,
Window Rock, Director of Education for the Navajo and Hopi Indians, Monday
evening at a meeting of the Farmington Lions Club, at which he and Principal
George Barrett of Shiprock schools were invited guests.
The Farmington Town Board in lengthy
session Tuesday night declined the request of the Southern Union Gas Company
for a twenty five year extension of the present franchise expire August 14,
Before a thousand screaming fans,
packed in the bleachers, on the stage, and on the playing floor, the Farmington
High School Scorpions Saturday night upset the bucket by deflating the Mission
Eagles for the Championship in the District light tournament.
BY: Gayla Chapman
FROM: Otanm Louis Chapman
Came here in 1946. Came here because
Odie traded for 3400 acres of land for 180 heads of horses which were his. As
he was out here, he couldnt make a living, so he started a store. He started
it with $250 dollars and there was no building.
Odie got here and started a business
and started a living. He started a store with only $250 dollars and no building but gradually began a great life.
He made a beautiful store in a mesa, in a hole. But the highway decided to run
a highway through the store. So Odie rebuilt a store lower. It turned out to be
a well turned out trading post.
BY: Manuel Atencio
FROM: Mrs. J.B. Atencio
We were both born and raised here. I
attended one room school at
Navajo Dam. My husband attended Blanco school and Rio Vista when it was a one
room school. The building is being torn down now.
I think one of the most important development was the addition of a high school in 1955. I was in the first graduating class in the Bloomfield district, 59. I felt that since
then our school has improved rapidly.
BY: Randy Crockett
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Myron Crockett
We came to Bloomfield School District
in Oct. 1951 because my father was transferred there by Southern Union Gas
Company. However, I have lived in San
One of the events I remember was: in
1942 we attended a barbecue between Bloomfield and Aztec to celebrate the
completion of the paving of highway 44 from Aztec to Bloomfield
The barbecue was prepared by Dan Sullivan. The entertainment was done by Alice
Sullivan, who did an acrobatic routine, and Mrs. Shelby Armstrong did the
singing. The paving of this road was important to the development of Bloomfield.
BY: Yevette Hayes
FROM: Bonnie Hayes
(Father) Came here in 1957 just out
of high. school. He was going to work for awhile then go back to enter college.
But after going to work for El Paso Natural Gas Co. in December of that year,
decided to stay.
(Mother) Was born in Aztec. Her
mother was born in Bloomfield,
and her mother came here at the age of five in the year 1904. She married a man
from this area. So that is 4 generations from this area.
In the 1st through 4th grade mother
went to school in a two room plus kitchen and bath. It was located where the
parking lot of Farmers Market is now. First and second grade went to one room.
Third and fourth went in the other room. The sixth and seventh and eighth grade
went to a school building on the Blanco
Highway which is now being torn down.
Then they built a large new school
which took care of six grades. That large building is now known as the old
section of Central. Later the rest of Central was built.
The high school was added a year at
a time until it had a full 4 year high school. That was accomplished in 1959.
Several large additions have been added since that time.
When the High School was first
completed there was the Academic building, Main Office, lunch room attached to
gym. Home Ec. and Science building.
BY: Susan Bachart
FROM: Earl & Dorothe Bachart
October 1963. We are Missionaries
and were transferred here at that time.
The opening of the new Government BIA school near us.
Not sure of the date, 69? This is a 500-pupil school with about half the
children living in the dorm and the rest day students. It was built of course
just for Indian students. One of the problems is the many people desiring to
have their children in a dorm situation even though the parents live in town
and have other schools available to them.
The mission school here started in
1952 as a day school. Later it was made into a dorm situation. We have present
42 students in the elementary grades (pre-first through eight). At the
beginning, most of our students were children who lived in the nearby area but
were off the bus routes and their parent wanted them here rather than going to
far-away BIA schools.
A boarding school was started by the
Brethren in Christ mission late in the 40s. They at present have grades
pre-first, first, second, third fourth, fifth. They also have students going to
Junior High staying on their station and living with their staff. In a home
BY: Hal Schofield
FROM: Edward W. Maloy
I came to Bloomfield in the spring of 1950. I was a
farmer and was attracted to this locality by the abundance of water that flowed
down the San Juan River. It looked good to me.
The man I brought out here, Mr. Ed
McCarty, mentioned to me that they had just built a new thirty thousand dollar
grade school building that would take care of my schooling needs as long as I
had children to go to school. In three or four years they doubled the size of
the school and built a gym room to it since then they have doubled the class
rooms again, and added the Rio Vista grade school, the Jr. High, and the High
The school system has grown from
four teachers and one janitor to near one hundred working for the school
BY: Danny Kellenaers
Transportation up in the middle and
late 30s was still crude. Some of the people, especially the Navajo Indians,
drove horses and wagons to town.
Up until around the 1950s there
were no paved roads in Farmington
except Main Street.
was only paved because it was a highway, the only one around. Even Broadway was
just a dirt road.
The main way of transporting most
goods in San Juan
County was by railroad.
The railroad, which was discontinued in the early 60s, transported cattle,
cars, fruits, farm goods and various other products. It ran from Farmington to Durango.
The railroad brought many jobs to this area.
It gave jobs to people who worked at
the cattle stockyards and bottling. After trucks came into wider use people
stopped using the railroad.
There were a variety of stores in Farmington. In the
Farmington Drug Store were found a soda fountain, and bicycles were sold there too.
There was a blacksmiths shop. There was a saddle shop in Farmington where all kinds of leather goods
were made. Muskrat skins that were trapped in the San Juan
River were sold to that store.
BY: Ginger Breenwood
In the football season of 1950 to
60, it was decided through the
Booster Club that for Homecoming game it would be nice to light the B on B
Hill. Ronnie Greenwood, Ron Wyley, Harry Johnson and a couple others were
elected to light the B. On Thursday night they were going to light the B
for the Snake Dance. It was real still, no wind or nothing. They poured
gasoline all the way around the B and threw a match at one end and it lit up
real nice and pretty. So that worked so good they decided to do it for Homecoming
night, at halftime. They were going to light it just about the time they
crowned the Queen. Coach Morgan was the Announcer that night. All the time the
game was going on he was telling the people about what a big surprise they were
going to have at half time. He was just really building it up.
Just a little time before halftime,
Ron G., Ron Wyley and Harrey left to go and light it again. So they poured the
gasoline over the B and threw a match at one end and it just lit and went a
few feet. It was kinda windy that night too. So they decided that the only way
to get it going was to pour lots of gas and throw a match and get it going good
and Ron Greenwood would slosh the gas in front of the fire. He got started a
little ways and the can caught on fire. So he dropped it and it started rolling
down the hill, rolling, bang splash and fire going everywhere and Ronnie trying
to catch up with it to get it. Well he fell down. The can was rolling straight
for the church at the bottom. So back at the game coach Morgan was saying,
Well, I guess that looks like a B. And this was the very first time the B
BY: Bobby Verguer
When Mom and Dad first came to Farmington, Bloomfield
was hardly even a wide spot in the road. There was no pavement at all between
Blanco and Bloomfield. The only church in Bloomfield
is the one they are tearing down by Farmers.
There wasnt any school, they were
busing the kids to Farmington.
On Sundays if you wanted to eat, you better have brought your lunch because
every thing closed on Sundays. The high school was just fixing to open about 25
years ago when they moved here.
Narrative 44: 1950s
FROM: Jo Anne Paul
We moved to Bloomfield because we wanted to raise our
family in a smaller community.
We were here before Navajo Dam was
and can remember watching its construction. It was indeed a special happening
BY: Pam B
FROM: Joe Schneider
Joseph Schneider was at his job,
working on a well. There was a gas leak in the gas line and the vapor got over
by the heat. And it blew up! Joe caught on fire his clothes and body was
burning. So he quickly jumped out and rolled in the dirt to put it out. There
was a guy with him who was caught in the fire. The man was caught in some
cables. Joe tried to get through the fire to help. But couldnt. Soon the man
got free. And with 2nd and 3rd degree burns Joe drove the man to a friends
house. Who then drove them both to the hospital.
BY: Julie Williams
Bloomfield Eighth Grade in 1951-52
School system consisted of one
building, the oldest part of Central
Elementary School (four
rooms and a cafeteria) which was new that year and the beginning of rapid
expansion for the school district.
There were two classes to a room.
The 7th grade had eleven students, six boys and five girls. Seventh and 8th
same room-150 approximately.
We spent a great deal of time doing leathercraft
and doing sewing, playing ping pong and softball (our boys softball team beat
Farmingtons only 8th grade team once) and basketball--all the girls were
Discipline--well it was a belt line.
When someone got in trouble, everyone lined up, took off their belts, and the
mischievous one ran through the belt line.
At that time we graduated from the
eighth grade here and then went to high school in Aztec (the class of 1959 was
the first to graduate in Bloomfield
High School). The eight
grade graduation class got to take a trip to Chaco Canyon.
BY: Yevett Hayes
FROM: Charles Mulnix
Early fiftys there was only 1 store
connected with first post office. 1 station (gas) and bar connected, Mays
store, 66 station blacksmith shop, Dance Hall, there was a school where Farmers
Market parking lot is now. The school was 2 roomed and a restroom. (1952)
School was an old Cafe. (Mays built a new store) 1 Catholic church (still
standing) Mormon church (still standing). A new cafe in east part of Farmers
The gas boom began in 1948 the
biggest part of the boom was in 54-56.
People moved here from everywhere. Built the Black-gold Lodge in 56.
Trailer parks were everywhere when the boom hit. Orchards were torn down for
the trailer parks.
For entertainment the kids had
wiener and marshmallow roasts. Bon-fires, melon busts, tubing in the river
during flood stages. Rode horses and donkeys when they crossed river. (even
broke some of Sullivans)
In 1958-62 period Navajo Dam was
built. Common place thing was the teams and wagons brought by Navajos. Started
new High School in around 1957. (No longer went to school in Aztec)
Everything is more or less
completely different from 30 period.
BY: John Wooten
My dad told me that he remembered
had only one school. That school was Central Elementary. He said that the high
school kids had to go to Aztec.
He said that the cooks would go to
the store and get a bus load of food for the cafeteria. Then go to the school
and a bunch of kids would come out and carry the food into the cafeteria (which
was real small at the time). This was about 1952 or 53.
At that time there was no gymnasium.
There wasnt a very big store in Bloomfield
at that time. Just a couple of small ones. He said that the road from Bloomfield to Blanco was
paved and then it ended at the bridge at Blanco, on down the rest of the way
was dirt. He said that it was a logging road.
BY: Mike Gathings
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Lee Gathings
We came here to find a house to live
in and work. Left to live in Aztec 1955--moved back in 1972 because of the
school system. When first started in 7th grade there were only 8 grades in one
building. Students were bussed to Aztec to High School from B1oomfie1d, 9th
through 12th they had eighth grade graduations then. Twelve students graduated
that following year.
BY: Tami Batchelor
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Granville Batchelor
We came to Chaco
Canyon and Kimbeto area south and east
in 1954 to go into the trading post business. There was no busing at that time
and our one school age boy stayed with his grandparents in Albuquerque. In 1958 we moved to Bloomfield, commuting to
the post, and since that time our 4 children have attended Bloomfield Schools.
During our early year in the area
our Navajo neighbors came to our post, almost solely in horse drawn wagons or
on horseback. Navajo school age children were shipped to boarding schools in
towns and states far from home. We all looked forward each year to their return
at schools end. The busses came closer and we, at first, drove children in the
back of a pickup to meet the bus. Now the large yellow busses travel close to
the Navajos homes and bring them to public schools for their education, where
they share in school activities knowing theyll be with their family at night.
The biggest change weve seen is
that the Indian children have become so fashion conscious. Theyve donned the
mod attire of the public schools, and, in exchange their Indian jewelry and
design has become a popular trevel [sic].
When we moved to the remote Chao Canyon
area near Bloomfield
in 1954, we had sunlight, moonlight and occasional electricity when our small
generator would cooperate. Our Navajo neighbors used kerosene lamps.
What a change the electricity has
made in our country. We still marvel at the sight of these electric lights
scattered and spaced like stars on the ground when we drive at night. The
sprinkling of Christmas lights at Christmas way out in the open spaces and the
appearance of television antennas shooting upward assures us that progress and
its convenience have found the roads that lead o us.
Narrative 51: 1955
BY: Susan Bachert
FROM: Miss M. K. Bates
Twenty years ago this coming January
I came to Huerfano to teach in the Buean
School. Before that I
taught in the Kentucky
at the Salilean Childrens Home.
I have seen much change these twenty
years in this district. I visited the pre-first class room in Bloomfield the
first week or so and was much impressed with the work done with non-English
speaking children, challenging me to help the Navajo especially in this regard,
and have further been so thankful for the godly tone in musical program, etc.,
through the years. May this be the continuing attitude, in spite of development
BY: Kristy Herring
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Frank Herring
Frank came to Bloomfield in 1957 when he was discharged
from the Army. He went to work for El
Paso and we married later that year and moved into
Blanco camp a week later.
The first graduating class in Bloomfield was in 1958.
The men from Blanco plant installed the first light on the football field
around 1958. Navajo Dam was started in 1957. The worlds largest crane worked
on the dam and President John Kennedy came to the dedication in 60 or 61.
BY: David Truby
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Harold Truby
I have lived in the Large Canyon
area all my life. My family came here in about 1961. Ive never had any real
desires to live anywhere else.
I attended school in Aztec, as did the high school pupils
While I was in the service BHS was established. The growth from that point on
is amazing. I didnt see how a community of that size could be competitive,
much less survive.
BY: Ron Cox
FROM: Mrs. Valentine Archuleta
I have lived in Blanco all my life
and it has been a very good and prosperous district. Have graduated all my
children in Bloomfield
High School two of them
going on to finish college on account of good grade and high schools.
The most interesting event was when
Blanco and Bloomfield consolidated giving our children more opportunities for a
better education from laboratory experiments to sports, and to compete with
other children of their class. The most interesting is the growth and advanced
methods of teaching.
Narrative 55: 1957
BY: Kim Schafer
FROM: John Turner
I came to the Bloomfield School District
in 1957. I moved here with my parents while still in the elementary school
grades. We moved to this area because my father was transferred to Chaco Plant
while working for El Paso Natural Gas Co.
The development of the natural pas
fields in this area has shown a marked relation with the development of our
school system. As the gas fields have grown, so has the school system.
The event of added federal funding
to the system in the 60s made
changes in the system. Before this there were no teacher aides and the number
of programs for the pupils were very limited.
BY: Susie Beloat
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Bill Beloat
We came August 28th, 1957 to go to
work for El Paso Natural Gas.
Weve seen 2 new schools built, a new
grade school, and additions to the High School. Some of the teachers that were
here in 1957 are still in our school system. Two of our children have graduated
here in Bloomfield and weve also seen many
others raised here in Bloomfield.
Narrative 57: 1957
BY: Susan Hawkins
FROM: LeRoy Dugger
I first came to Bloomfield
in November, 1957. The reason I
moved here was that I was living with my parents and my father was employed by
El Paso Natural Gas Co.
When we moved here in 1957 there was
only one school here. That school was Central Elementary. Bloomfield High School
as under construction at this time. Those students that were in the 7th-l2th
grade went to Aztec
High School. Bloomfield High School was first used in 1958 and
the first graduating class was in 1959. Bloomfield High School
took 7th-l2th grades for two years. Mesa Alta Jr. High was then built and was
first used in 1960-61 school year.
One of the first schools built in Bloomfield was not
Central Elementary, although. The first school was built in about 1920. It is
being torn down right now but it or was located about 2 miles west from the
High School on Blanco Highway.
Narrative 58: 1958
BY: Laurie Mauldin
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Woodron Mauldin
We moved from Farmington
to Bloomfield about
16 years ago. Mr. Mauldin was working out at the Navajo Dam that was being
built at that time. It was closer to his work at that time.
I felt the building of the Navajo
Dam was very important at the time it was built but now the Navajo Irrigation
Project is another interesting development.
It seems having plenty of water for
livestock, gardens, home use, trees, flowers, and land development is so
When you have to haul all the water
you use, even each cup you drink its very interesting to see water moving out
to all locations in this area.
The added buildings to the Junior
High (Mesa Alta) and the High School have also been interesting and important.
We have more trees and flowers in Bloomfield than we had 16
years ago. I would like to see many more trees and flowers and make this area
real beautiful, especially as it is the gateway to the Navajo Dam.
BY: Taira Jordan
FROM: Emilia Burns
1959-- My husband came to manage an abstract company and to
start his law practice--during the time of the oil boom.
My first year of teaching all of the
7-8-9-10-ll-l2 grades were down in the High School and we were so crowded that
the Home Ec. Department had to be shared with a math class.
BY: Tami Deinlein
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. William Deinlein
They came here in August 1960. Dad
was transferred to Farmington and they wanted to
buy some land around here, so they bought it in Bloomfield, because they liked the Bloomfield
The Navajo Indian irrigation project
and the gas and oil company.
BY: Lynette Bassing
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. E. L. Bassing
We came in 1962. We came because of a transfer with El Paso Natural
The Navajo Irrigation Project.
BY: Cindy Fox
FROM: Red Pennington
Came in 1961 for two reasons. I
owned a business here. Because I had teenage children I wanted to attend a
I had heard of Bloomfield School Districts
good reputation. Bloomfield
had strong leadership when Mr. Thomas served as superintendent. He was
criticized by many as being too tight with the funds, but history proved that
he developed a master plan and followed it very well--this is one reason we have had such orderly
Supt. Scott has contributed to this
since he is such a capable and fair administrator. I believe we have had good
boards, but our quality of the system lies in the good administrators we have
BY: Gwen Wood
FROM: Mrs. Edward D. Wood
The land of Enchantment and in
particular the Bloomfield, New Mexico area became my home on March 11,
Bloomfield was anything but what I had
expected. There were two grocery stores at that time. One was Mays Grocery
Store located where the D&C Hardware and Feed Store is now housed. The other
was Boys Thrifty, which later became the old Farmers Market. It is located
across the driveway from Larrys Barber Shop and presently is closed.
A couple of cafes served our town at
that time. Many a cup of coffee was served at these two places as old timers
and working men gathered to catch up on the news. One of these cafes was
located where Farmers Market is now. The other was located approximately where
the feed store presently has its office now.
I never saw a small town with so many service stations. There were 13
at the time. (1962)
By the way, just to set the record
straight it was the Village
of Bloomfield. You came
into the Village Limits, not City
As we traveled down U.S. 64, which
was then New Mexico
l7, there were very few homes. Rio
School hadnt been built. Your Junior High School
has changed a lot since then. A new gym has been added. Our 14 year-old spent
many an hour playing on the patio that is now surrounded by buildings at the
Jr. High School. At that time there was a beautiful green lawn where the east
section of the Jr. High building is now located.
Sad to say Bloomfields streets are still unpaved. There
were very few, if any street signs.
post office at that time was very out-dated. It was housed in the building to
the left of its present location. It was a grey building. There was one little
window where you picked up your mail if you received it General De1ivery.
There were less than 100 post office
boxes with numbers.
Im glad to have been a part of the Bloomfield area. Its a good place to live. I
enjoy living here.
BY: Brian Snow
My great-grandmother was born in London, England.
When she was five years old, her family immigrated to the U.S.
She lived in Santa Barbara, California.
When she was about twenty and she got a letter from Queen Victoria, I dont know why.
She was married and had four
children, they moved to Phoenix,
Arizona. One of the children died
at the age of 22. She died at the age of about 62 or 63.
BY: Jolene Jackson
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Duane Jackson
We came to Farmington in July of 1962 where my husband
became an officer with the State Police. We moved to Bloomfield in March of 1963 when we purchased our home.
A four lane highway was built
between Farmington and Bloomfield.
Our school was able build an
Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool.
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Bowers
Came here in August, 1964. Came to
work in the school district.
The growth of the school system has
been interesting. When we came here, Mr. E. L. Thomas was superintendent--there
were no other administrators, other than the building principals, and no administration building. Mr. Thomas office was
at the high school.
BY: Melody Cobb
FROM: Karl & Lois Horn
We came to Bloomfield in 1963--but we had always lived
near here. We loved the wide open spaces here and the many little farms
We used to know a man who had a
little oil refinery here and that was the beginning of the oil development in
Then also there were many pounds of
pinto beans raised here and the fruit was an item too.
They had the train, which was about
9 miles away, for them to ship their produce. They called it the Red Apple
Now the fruit and beans are a thing
of the past. We have many big refineries now. I think all of this helped in the
development of this area.
We like the people here. They are
friendly and always willing to help each other. What is a place without
Narrative 67: 1965
BY: Eric Reevs
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Gorden Reevs
In 1965, we moved to Bloomfield, from the
Gobernador school district, because we felt that they, our children, would have
better learning advantages here. Also Gobernador schools did not have high
I think possibly one of the main
events leading to the development of the Bloomfield
school district area was the big gas boom, which brought so many people into
this area. This bringing so many new school children into the area called for
the building of the many new and beautiful school buildings which we now have.
BY: Lisa Nobles
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. William Nobles
Came here in 1965 for the climate.
Taking out orchards and farmlands
for houses and trailers, Navajo Dam for irrigation and recreation an flooding.
Navajo irrigation project.
Narrative 69: 1965
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Mike McNallen
We moved to Bloomfield in August of 1965 to accept the
position of band director with the public schools. The main attractions had to
do with job-related opportunities and the recreational advantages of this area.
Also, I know that as a teacher, I would soon be rich and famous!
In my estimation, Mr. E.L. Thomas,
past superintendent of the Bloomfield Schools, actually set the stage for the
orderly development and progress of our school district. Remember the cow that
was presented to. Mr. Thomas by the faculty at his retirement dinner? I believe
that Mr. Thomas, with his conservative and wise guidance, will always be
remembered in a special way by those who worked during his administration.
Certainly, no historical review would be complete without due credit to Mr.
BY: Gayla Chapman
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Al
About l0 years ago.
Because Grandad wanted us to come
out here and help with the old store. He thought we would be happier here.
BY: Layne Waresback
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Jim Waresback
Came to the Bloomfield School District
in November 1966. Jim was transferred by E.P.N.G. to this area.
Operation Gasbuggy-Fracturing gas
wells with nuclear energy to see what effect it would have on increasing gas
Navajo Dam and Navajo Irrigation
Project. The building of Navajo Dam and the recreation area has been
interesting and enjoyable for fishermen, boaters, campers and kiers. It will be
interesting to see the irrigation project completed and see what difference it
will make on the Navajo reservation. Also, the water going over the spillway
was unusual and interesting.
Power Plants-The construction and
maintenance of the power plants in the area have had a definite effect on the
school district by bringing additional families to the area and children into
BY: Marty Whitaker
FROM: Mr.& Mrs. Billy Whitaker
I came to Bloomfield
because I got a transfer to come here from
down in Kermit, Texas. We came about 9 years ago in 1966 on
The most impressing event was when
they were going to build the Navajo Irrigation project. We lived at Chaco so the new dam they were planning on building was
going to be almost at our back door.
Another was the construction of the
addition of the Bloomfield
High School. My children
told me that the ninth graders would go to the high school.
FROM: Lamar Cravens
Before I became a teacher, I visited
the Farmington Aztec area and liked it very much. Navajo Lake
built, and I liked the idea of living near such a nice large lake. After
becoming a teacher, I decided I would move here and try to get a job in Aztec.
I didnt get one in Aztec, but in Bloomfield,
and am very lucky it turned out that way. This happened in 1966.
The energy crisis became severe
recently and caused much more exploration in this area along with the huge
The Navajo Indian irrigation Project
has caused many new people to locate here and much more money.
BY: Darrell Whitaker
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Billy Whitaker
We moved her in November of 1966. We
came to the Bloomfield
School District because
Dad had a good job offered to him so we moved up here.
Job opportunities and bringing in
people to help the irrigation project and everything.
BY: Pam Payne
FROM: Paul L. Payne
We started sending our children to
the Bloomfield Schools in 1972 when our oldest child was promoted to the ninth
grade. At that time the Largo
School went through the
We moved to the Largo
district in 1967 to work for El Paso Natural Gas Co., after having been
employed by the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.
After having lived here for so few
years I dont feel very well qualified but as I recall three years ago was the
first time busing was used to transport children from this area to Bloomfield. Before that,
if people wanted their children to attend school in Bloomfield, or any other schools they would
have to furnish their own transportation.
Narrative 76: 1966
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. David Schafer
We came in 1966 because of health reasons.
1. Increase explosion of gas and oil brought
more people and more jobs.
2. Appropriation of money for expanding the Navajo Indian Irrigation project.
3 The need for economical energy and the discovery of coal.
4. Need of entertainment, thus the Auditorium and Natatorium were built
5. Navajos change in schooling ideas.
BY: Anita Valdez
My story is about the largest
earthquake in New Mexico.
The epicenter was Lumberton
and Dulce. The magnitude was 6.8. It happened at night about 8:00 in March.
Dishes fell, wall cracked, two by fours broke, all our china fell,
silverware came out and doors swung open
from cabinets. There were tremors happening two or three time s day,
they werent big but they could be felt. St. Francis Church in Lumberton has big cracks in the ceiling which
was caused by this earthquake.
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Jimmy Miller
We came in here in 1.966 to work on
the Navajo Dam with Shea Contractor.
The first post office was built
where the rodeo grounds are. There was a shoe maker shop one block from the
rodeo grounds. Where the Solman Ruins are was originally the Solman Homestead.
The Creamers and Solmans originally settled Bloomfield. Judge Peacock was a woman, her
house still stands at 217 West Main. Floura Utah was a contractor on
the Navajo Dam Irrigation Project. They used a laser beam on the mole. They set
the worlds boring record on a tunnel no. 3 in June of 1972. Where the Big A Well and Drill Service on Highway
44, used to be a trading post. Then it became a service station.
BY: Joyce Barnes
FROM: Ollis Anderson
Came here in November, 1966, because
building of the gym at Mesa Alta. Also the auditorium and swimming pool at
Bloomfield High School, new lunchroom, new football stadium.
BY: Julie Williams
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Williams
We came to the area in 69 because
of my job.
We were impressed that Bloomfield had a
wholesome environment--less discipline problems, drugs in the school and other
problems found in more populated area. We like it here after 5 years.
BY: Donna Paul
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Dale Paul
1968--worked for Farmington School District.
Later, in 1972, worked for Bloomfi1d District.
In the past few years the Thrift-Way
Refinery has had two fires and explosions, of which the Bloomfield Volunteer
Fire Department served. Several of the firemen were injured and hospitalized.
The Navajo Irrigation Project has
provided jobs to men in this area. Also, it is building a highway across the
reservation with bridges and roads which will aid the Navajo people.
BY: Karen Bachert
FROM: Mrs. Robert Foster
At about 11:30 one night in May,
1973, there was a knock at the door. May I have some gas? asked the tall
well-dressed Indian standing at the door.
Since Im with the American Indian
Movement and Im helping the
Indians, I shouldnt have to pay for this gas. Stated the Indian as the second
vehicle was being filled. Weve been here for seventeen years helping the
Indians and we have to pay for it, so Ill have to ask you to pay for it, answered
my husband in a matter-of-fact tone. After paying for the gas, the man turned
to a companion and said, These are white folks and they wont let us come in
and get warm. Come on in, Bob said, We have Indians in our house every
day. Hey, fellas, come on in, shouted the man toward the two vehicles parked
near the gas pumps. Fellows and girls
tumbled out of the van and pickup. Twenty-one youths trooped into our spacious
We havent eaten for two days,
stated one of the younger ones. Turning to me, Bob said, Go to the cellar and
bring some eggs. Well give these kids an early breakfast. While feasting on
fried eggs, toast and coffee, the Indian youths bantered back and forth Hows
the toast-master? They chided the fellow tending the toaster.
What tribe are you? Bob asked one
after another. Im Cherokee. Im Aruka. My wife is Navajo but Im Souix.
And so went the list until every person had identified his tribe.
Whose turn is it to do dishes this time? Asked the leader. Its
mine, spoke two girls simultaneously.
While they washed the dishes and
cleaned up the kitchen, the leader called the rest into the living-room. Since
we are a religious group and so are you, why dont you preach to us?
Taking the Bible, Bob spoke to them
about Gods plan for peace. Peace I leave with you, my peace I gave unto you:
not as the world giveth, give I unto you. If you believe in God believe also in
me. Jesus said.
About 1:30 a.m. these friendly
Indians piled back into their vehicles and drove away. Their destination? Wounded Knee, South
BY: Rena Benny--Navajo
Ever since we moved here, we dont
have as much trouble and dont waste as much money now.
First of all, my mother works, and
when we used to live way out in the reservation, she used to get out of work at
10:00 p.m. and get home at about 12:21 a.m. When she went to work, which was at
2:00 p.m., she used to leave at 12:05 p.m. Now she works at Holiday Inn and it
only takes her 32 minutes to get there and get home.
My brothers and I didnt have a
chance to go out for sports because it takes too long to go there and to come
here and it wastes too much gas, and it wears out the tires easily. So we never joined anything.
But now we could join anything we want.
When we used to live over there, we
hardly ever ate breakfast, because the bus used to come early. Now we have
breakfast, but I never eat breakfast, just the other members of my family.
Dad and Mom never used to have money
because they bought gas and oil with it. And before the week was over there
would be no more money. Now we have more money because we dont waste as much
money on gas and oil. We just check our cows every Saturday. Good thing we
dont have trouble with cows being stolen.
BY: Debbie Spencer
When I Moved To Bloomfield Four Years Ago
I moved to Bloomfield
from Aneth, Utah. We lived in Aneth four years. We moved
in October of 1971. I was in the fourth grade. My teacher was a man by the name
of Mr. Penny.
It was hard to adjust to the Bloomfield school system.
In Aneth we were just learning to write in cursive handwriting. When we moved
I had to start right off writing cursive the best I knew how to. All the friends
I had were 250 miles away except for ones DeDe Paul, She moved here before I
did. After I lived here a while I had a new friend, Vanessa Baca.
Bloomfield was a small town, There was a
junky little store called Farmers Market. There was a Bloomfield Feed
Store, Mauzys and a few other small stores around. There were apple
Bloomfield has grown quite a bit since then.
Farmers Market is now a nice store with a good sized parking lot. All of the
apple orchards now are trailer courts. Bloomfield
is now a lot more modern too.
BY: Sherry Miller
When Joe Sullivan was a little boy
he lived in the Solman Ruins. When he got older he owned almost all of Bloomfield. Then he
started selling his land. Most of the land he sold, Cramer bought. Now in Bloomfield, Mosley,
Sullivan, Mulnix, Henderson, and Cramer own the most of the land.
In the past 10 years Bloomfield has grown
quite a bit. Bloomfield
has built 4 new baseball fields, 2 new tennis courts, 1 new football stadium, a
new Farmers Market, a new Lota-Burger. They have rebuilt Johnnys Dairy Mart. They have added on to the High
School. They have put in a Continental Trailways bus stop and they have turned
the old motel into a camping stop.
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Roy Jordan
We came to Bloomfield School District
March 1, 1973. We came because of his job location.
The oil boom of the 1950s brought
a great influx of people into the San Juan
County and Bloomfield School District.
The population had tapered off until the last couple years and it is rising
again for a large school growth.
BY: Andy Johnson
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. James Johnson
We bought our land in 1971 and moved
out to live year-round in 1973. The reason we came to Bloomfield was because the land was
reasonably priced. Since that time, the value of the land has increased 5 to 6
When we first came here, there were
not a many people living in the Bloomfield
area. This was also one of the attractions of Bloomfield, that it was a small town. Since
that time, it has really grown, both in town and out where we live. Families
are moving in all the time.
BY: Billy Hobaugh
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. John Hobaugh
We came to the Bloomfield area in Sept. of 1974. We were
living in Albuquerque.
We moved here because Albuquerque
was getting too big and congested. We like a rather small town. Also the
schools are better up here.
We havent lived here long enough to
know much about Bloomfield.
Its a nice town and the people are friendly. The only thing I know about is
the new Farmers Market and the new Laundromat. I do feel that we could use a
few more stores and a show or bowling alley. We need something to entertain the
BY: James Cartwright
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Don Cartwright
Moved here in 1971, because of job.
An interesting thing is the big
Navajo irrigation ditch that is almost completed. The pipes for this ditch are
the largest pipes in the world. The trick they used to maneuver these is a
tremendously large truck. These big pipes are laid in a big ditch that runs
from Navajo Lake to the Navajo reservation. They
will pump water to the reservation for farming.
BY: Bobbie Chokie
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Chokie
We came to Bloomfield in l97l. We had heard the schools
were some of the best, which were proven to be true.
One of the developments of the Bloomfield School District is the school system in
itself. The student standards are good, sports activities, and many other
opportunities for the student who is willing to try to get all advantage he or
she can out of school education.
BY: Dana Meathenia .
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Meathenia
October, 1972. Our job brought us to this area. We
could have lived in Aztec or Farmington, but we
I felt my children would be better off in Bloomfield Schools.
In matter if you live twenty miles
or two blocks from school, Bloomfield
has a bus for you to ride. Ive never seen so many school buses for such a
BY: Stacey Gatling
FROM: Mr.& Mrs. Muriel Gatling
One month ago we came to Bloomfield and the better
1. I believe in more discipline in
2. More school activities.
3. Less dope traffic.
4. Dress codesincluding limited
5. Less parent intervention in
discipline matters of schools concern.
6. Achieving grade lever on merit,
BY: Jenifer McKinney
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Jimmie McKinney
We moved here December 1973. The first chance my husband had to be
transferred here, he took it, as we sure preferred this part of the country a lot better than any we have been and also
we found out that the Bloomfield Schools were one of the best.
Some of the interesting activities
are concerts, programs, sports, talent shows, summer activities, the baseball
and softball leagues.
BY: Connie Matthews
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Bill Matthews
I came to Bloomfield School District
in August of 1975. We bought a trailer and my dad and mom decided to live in Bloomfield. The schools
are better and we knew the owner of the trailer park.
There are more available courses you
can take at the High School. And a boy being able to take Home Ec. Its a great
step for learning.
BY: Louise Smith
Three years ago this summer the
Bloomfield Wildcats softball team went to Las
Cruces for the state tournament.
The wildcats were sponsored by El Paso
Natural Gas Co. in any. The wildcats were Animas Champions with only one loss
throughout the season. The team we lost to was the Farmington Racers by the
score of one point. But we called a rematch and won it.
Another of our games was the
Bloomfield Mighty Mites. We won that game with the score of 53-2.
The state tournament started August
9 and lasted through the 12th and was in Las
Cruces, New Mexico.
All of the winning softball teams in the state.
When we went to Las Cruces we stayed in the Coach Light Inn.
Besides having a whole lot of fun we came back home with a second place in the
BY: Karen Cloer
In the summer of 1973 there was an
invasion of worms. The worms were eating all the hay crops in the San Juan County and other counties. People were
really worried. They were buying
chemicals to kill the worms so fast that a lot of people didnt get any
chemicals for their field.
We tried to spread the chemicals by
the tractor, but we had to mix the chemicals with water and it took so long. We
had to find an easier way to spray worms. We got a lot of people on our road to
help us pay for a man to come and fly over our fields and spray.
When the man came to spray he took a
lot of chances with his life. He went through telephone wires and fences. He
waited to the last minute to go over the house.
The worms would eat a leaf in about
one minute. Some would eat the stems, and some would eat the roots and leaves.
They would dig or something like that and make holes. About twenty five would
get in a hole and escape the heat. They would eat in the mornings and in the
evenings, because they couldnt stand the heat to eat in the middle of the day.
We finally had to spray the worms or
lose our hay crop.
BY: Sylvia Valdez
Bloomfield Old Story
Bloomfield, a small town in New Mexico, has a
population of one thousand five hundred and seventy four (1574) or more. Its
elevation is five thousand four hundred feet (5400).
Bloomfield is the home of the Bobcats.
I have lived in Bloomfield all my life--l3 years. My had has
also lived his 40 years in Bloomfield.
I think Bloomfield is a place of interest for many people, mostly
people finding a good place to live
because it is one of the smallest towns in New Mexico
and the drug rate is no as high as in other large cities like Albuquerque.
One of the inconveniences it holds
is not being a very big town is that it does not have many shopping centers,
for example it does not have a drugstore that I know of.
Anyway, I like Bloomfield nevertheless, because I have
always lived here and maybe always will!
BY: Brian Donisthorpe
Some Changes in San Juan Basin
I have noticed many changes in the San Juan Basin in the past few years. Farmington has grown in
any fields of work. There have also been a few new buildings erected, most of
which have been finished in the last five years, such as K-Mart, San Juan Plaza, Gibsons, Chinese restaurant and
many other restaurants. The Navajo
Indian Irrigation Project is also new in this area; located about eight wiles
southwest of Bloomfield.
This project is to teach Indians (those who are willing to learn) how to farm, irrigate, and harvest different
kinds of crops.
The project consists of about 300
acres of land. (110,000 acres) In Bloomfield
a new swimming pool has been built. Farmers Market has moved from over by the
High School to over by the 44 Bar. Blakes
Lotta-Burger came to Bloomfield
BY: Gene Potter
is one of the 1argest washes in America. I dont think nothing of it because
I live right by it. It goes from Largo Camp to the San Juan River. It is also a real wide wash. It hasnt run since the big flood 3 years
The trucks that are going across can not go on the bridge because they are too heavy. They have to go on the around and some of
the time they get stuck.
There are mountains all around the
wash so it could not flood any place but towards the San
Cows always get stuck and
always die in the wash.
BY: Mike Meadows
Schools are different in different
areas. The schools in the bigger cities do not have as good of athletic program
as the little towns. The little schools, like Bloomfield, have nicer teachers, students and
much nicer books. The faculty of the schools is nicer.
Comparing the schools in Albuquerque
to the schools in Bloomfield, the kids (students) are sort of mean, rude at the
big school where I went at Albuquerque for 4 ½ months, than I went so a school
that was a smaller school than Mesa Alta Jr, High. It was so small that they had Pre-School
through 12th all at one campus. The campus was about the size
of the Bloomfield
Then we moved, to Bloomfield. I like Mesa Alta the best of all because the students are the nicest of all.
Changes in the San Juan Basin
I have noticed many changes in the San Juan Basin
in the past five years. Farmington
has grown in many fields of work. I have also noticed the new buildings most of
which have been constructed in the past year (1975). These include: K-Mart, San Juan Plaza, Gibsens, and many new
The Navajo Indian Irrigation Project is also new to the area. It is
located about 8 miles southwest of Bloomfield.
It will help the Navajos to farm several hundred (thousand) acres of land. Many
changes have occurred where I live, 5 miles southwest from Bloomfield. Many people have moved in and
some have left.
The San Juan River has changed some between Farmington
the trees and shrubs need to be thinned out in some places. In some places
people have been clearing out and farming it. Ill bet that in the future there
will be many more changes.
FROM: Mario Jacquez
Jose Vicente Jacquez by name. J.V.
Jacquez are my initials. I am grandson of Solome Jacquez. He was the first man
that came to El Rio de San Juan; was captured by the Indians and after
independence (liberty) he returned to Huerfano, Colorado where ho was born.
After liberty was granted, he returned and brought cattle, sheep, etc., and
lived between what is now La Plata
In 1911 in October we had a flood
that the whole San Juan
Valley was covered with
water--the whole river basin was covered with water.
The Aztec ruins, when I saw them for
the first tine, were nothing but piles of dirt. After indications of the Aztec Ruins were found--the Aztec Ruins
were found of what they are today.
And the caves here in the canyons were
many little pueblos where the Indians lived.
During my boyhood, everything in Bloomfield was nothing
but juniper, prairie dogs and wild donkeys. The deceased Mr. Solman had this as
a range where he pastured about 2,000 goats
and angora goats.
In about 1910, I cant remember very
well, they dug the Citizens Ditch where Bloomfield
started to be settled an now it is one of the best known towns along the ditch.
The first priest was Father Mario
Grone that came to Blanco. After they changed him, and since then, the fathers
have been constant residents in Blanco.
In 1922 a person came through here in
which he was representing a person of God. He resembled God, and cured the sick
During the time I knew Farmington, the streets of Farmington were around two blocks long. From there you have no idea the change of
With this I finish (terminate) as
far as I can remember what happened in El Rio de San Juan. Gilbert just walked in with a
turtle in his hand, trying to scare us.
Now in 1975, they are going to
celebrate the 75th year anniversary of Blancos Parrish, and they
are going to celebrate the 28, 29, 30th (Thursday) which is Santa Rosas Day.
BY Sherry Cogburn
Story of a Civil
My story is a retelling of stories
that my grandmothers tell me when I visit them. It is about my
My great-great-grandmother was eight
years and my great-great-grandfather was twelve years old during the Civil War
in 1860 through 1865. They lived in South Alabama.
My great-great-grandparents were not
married then or even knew each other.
My great-great-grandparent remembered the bad things about the
hard times and the sorrow of the war. The only food that anyone had was what
they raised. If it rained too much and ruined crops or if there was
no rain, people would suffer. There was no money to buy anything. Sometimes
they could trade buckets of syrup for potatoes and meat from neighbors.
The trouble with meat; it would not keep without salt. During this time, the North had
a blockade or the river and no salt could get to all the families.
Grandmother told me that they just starved for meat. They had to
turn their fat hogs loose in the woods, cause it did no good to kill them without salt. Quinine was another big
factor in the surrender of the South. It was a medicine used for fever and so
many many people died because the North held the quinine.
One of the things my grandmother
remembered so well was how her
mother would hide under the bed to eat a baked sweet potato for her supper. For years she said they were glad to have a sweet
potato for supper. They had a large family and it was very hard for
white people in the South that did not own slaves. Our family did not believe in slavery and they suffered very
much because of the people that did
believe in it.
Great-great grandmothers brothers
refused to fight for the south and the militiamen rode out to get them. One of
them told them he would not go and fight to keep a Negro in bondage. When he
turned his back to walk away, they shot him in the back and killed him in front
of his parents.
The other brother went on but
escaped to the north. He was later captured and died of pneumonia in Andersonville prison. They had to sleep o the ground in a
corral with a blanket. The ground was so saturated with seep water that they
could dig a hole with their spoon and it would immediately fill with water.
They had fleas, lice and diseases of all kinds. Grandmother said that her
grandmother worried over that poor brother worse than the one who died in front
of her. They never saw his grave or knew if he was treated well at all.
My grandmother said her grandmother
would sing the song Glory, Glory Hallelujah; hang Jess Davis to a sour apple
tree. Jefferson Davis was her cousin, but they had no use for each other. She
called him a secession man.
Grandpa, she said, lived close
enough to Shiloh to hear the guns of the big
battle. His brother was with the fighting men below Vicksburg.
My grandmother said there was a
little troop resting one night and it was dark, cold and misty. They tried to
drink some of the water out of the river. It tasted awful, they couldnt even
drink it. The next morning they found out why. It was red with blood from man
and horses. It was at least 20 miles up the river to the place of the battle
where it was still flowing with blood.
My grandmothers father, or
grandfather remembered helping neighbors that all the men were at war. She said
he had better memories as they had more to eat and lived in a more prosperous
part of the state. He said they all lived on cornbread three times a day,
sorghum syrup, eggs and milk from their cow. He said if your milk cow should
die that would be nearly as bad as loosing a crop,
My grandmother said she hoped there
would be none of that kind of thing happening again.