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Bloomfield History

Compiled Personal Histories

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"Bloomfield History As Told by Those Who Lived It" was a Bloomfield schools project in 1977-78, spearheaded by Dr. Carol Cloer. Students collected and compiled personal stories of Bloomfield residents. 
The collection is posted here with permission of Dr. Cloer.
Grammar and spelling is the students'.
 
(The index is under construction.)

Subject
 
Narrative(s)
Farming
 
1
Ranching
 
1
School
 
1
Transportation
 
1
Fun & Games
 
1

SCHOOL YEAR 1977 1978

Bloomfields History as Told by Those Who Lived It

 

Introduction

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,

Carol Cloer
Social Studies Department Head
Bloomfield Secondary Schools

 

 

Narrative 1: 1864

BY: Laverne Eaton
FROM: _______________

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 Sumner.

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.

 

Narrative 2: 1880s

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) Texas. 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.

 

Narrative 3: 1876

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 and wrote:

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 River.

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.

The End

 

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
FROM: ____________________

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 dancers.

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 County.

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 leaving Missouri. This area was later known as Hammond, New Mexico.

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 Districts. Bloomfield was, and is, District #6. Directors were P.M. Salmon, Charles Hol1y and Millard Green.

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 left Hammond). 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 other supplies.

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, N.M.

 

Narrative 9: 1899-1902

BY: Lori Magee
FROM: ___________

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 canyons.

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
FROM: ______________

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 constructed.

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
FROM: ______________

Bloomfield 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 River.

There were stills all up and down the river bottom. One man which some remember was called King of the Bootleggers. Bloomfield 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 trees.

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.

Narrative 12: 1900

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 cultivation.

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 cattle.

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 years.

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 years.

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. The 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 to Bloomfield 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.

 

Narrative 14: 1902-1920

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 taught.

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 the seventh.

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 Valley.

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.

 

Narrative 15: 1909

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.

 

Narrative 16: 1911

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 they slept.

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.

Mission 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 denominations

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.

 

Narrative 17: 1915

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.

 

Narrative 18: 1915

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.

 

Narrative 20: l9l7

BY: Terry Fortney
FROM: Floyd Post

OLD STORY

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 Lindrith, N.M. 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 away.

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.

 

Narrative 21:

BY: Tim Chavez
FROM.

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. (San Mateo?) 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 time.

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.

 

Narrative 22: 1918, Las Vegas, N.M.

BY: Dana Payne

RUDY RANCH

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 ranch.

 

Narrative 23: 1918

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.

 

Narrative 24: 1920

BY: James Cartwright
FROM: Mrs. Pau1Manum

When and why did you come

Born in Durango, but came to Bloomfield when she was little. (1920)

Events

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 there).

 

Narrative 25: l920s

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 time.

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 married.

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 business.

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 waiter wouldnt serve him so he told him that he could buy the place and fire him, and he did.

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 lived Martinez.

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.

 

Narrative 27: 1920

BY: Dale Schneider
FROM: Joe Schneider

SHORT STORY OF MY LIFE

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.

 

Narrative 28: 1925

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.

 

Narrative 29: 1930

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 Chavez.

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.

 

Narrative 30: 1936

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 junk.

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 moved here.

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.

 

Narrative 31: 1936-l940s

BY: Angie Armenta

BLOOMFIELD

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.

 

Narrative 32: 1943

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 Aztec.

 

Narrative 33: 1944

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.

 

Narrative 34: 1946

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, 1945.

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.

 

Narrative 35: 1946

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.

 

Narrative 36: 1947

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.

 

Narrative 37: 1947

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 Juan County since 1940.

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 to Cuba. 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.

 

Narrative 38: 1948

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.

Narrative 39: 1952

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 situation.

 

Narrative 40: 1950

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 School.

The school system has grown from four teachers and one janitor to near one hundred working for the school district.

 

Narrative 41: 1950s

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. 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.

 

Narrative 42: l950s

BY: Ginger Breenwood

OLD STORY

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 was lit.

 

Narrative 43: 1950

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

BY: Donna Paul
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 constructed (Farmington) and can remember watching its construction. It was indeed a special happening

 

Narrative 45: 1951

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.

 

Narrative 46: 1951-5

BY: Julie Williams

Bloomfield Eighth Grade in 1951-52

The Bloomfield 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 cheerleaders.

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.

 

Narrative 47: 1948

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 storage room.

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.

 

Narrative 48: 1952-53

BY: John Wooten

My dad told me that he remembered when Bloomfield 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.

 

Narrative 49: 1953

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.

 

Narrative 50: 1954

BY: Tami Batchelor
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Granville Batchelor

We came to Chaco Canyon and Kimbeto area south and east of Bloomfield 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 Mission Christian School. Before that I taught in the Kentucky Mt. School 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 and change.

Narrative 52: 1957

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.

 

Narrative 53: 1955

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 from Bloomfield. 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.

 

Narrative 54: 1950s

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.

 

Narrative 56: 1957

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 important.

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.

 

Narrative 58: 1959

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.

 

Narrative 59: 1960

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 Schools.

The Navajo Indian irrigation project and the gas and oil company.

Narrative 60: 1962

BY: Lynette Bassing

FROM: Mr. & Mrs. E. L. Bassing

We came in 1962. We came because of a transfer with El Paso Natural Gas.

The Navajo Irrigation Project.

 

Narrative 61: 1961

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 smaller school.

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 growth.

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 had.

 

Narrative 62: 1962

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, 1962.

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 Limits.

As we traveled down U.S. 64, which was then New Mexico l7, there were very few homes. Rio Vista Elementary 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.

 Bloomfields 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.

Narrative 63:

BY: Brian Snow

Old Story

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.

 

Narrative 64: 1963

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.

Narrative 65: l964

BY: Robin Bowers
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.

 

Narrative 66: 1963

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 scattered around.

We used to know a man who had a little oil refinery here and that was the beginning of the oil development in this area.

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 Flyer.

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 friends?

 

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 school grades.

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.

Narrative 68: 1965

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

BY: Tracie McNallen
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. Thomas.

Narrative 70: 1965, Lybrook

BY: Gayla Chapman
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Al Chapman

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.

 

Narrative 71: 1966

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 production.

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 the schools.

 

Narrative 72: 1966

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 Thanksgiving.

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.

 

Narrative 73: 1966

BY: Troy Nevins
FROM: Lamar Cravens

Before I became a teacher, I visited the Farmington Aztec area and liked it very much. Navajo Lake was being 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 electric company.

The Navajo Indian irrigation Project has caused many new people to locate here and much more money.

Narrative 74: 1966

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.

 

Narrative 75: 1967

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 eighth grade.

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

BY: Kim Schafer
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.

Narrative 76: 1966

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.

 

Narrative 77: 1966

BY: Vicki Miller
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.

Narrative 78: 1966

BY: Joyce Barnes
FROM: Ollis Anderson

Came here in November, 1966, because of employment.

            The building of the gym at Mesa Alta. Also the auditorium and swimming pool at Bloomfield High School, new lunchroom, new football stadium.

 

Narrative 79: 1969

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.

 

Narrative 80: 1970s

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.

 

Narrative 81: 1973

BY: Karen Bachert
FROM: Mrs. Robert Foster

NIGHT VISITORS

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 living-room.

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 Dakota.

Narrative 82: 1970s

BY: Rena Benny--Navajo

Old Story

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.

 

Narrative 83: 1977

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 to Bloomfield, 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 orchards too.

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.

 

Narrative 84: 1977

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.

 

Narrative 85: 1977

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.

 

 

Narrative 86: 1977

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 times.

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.

 

Narrative 87: 1977

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 kids.

 

Narrative 88: 1977

BY: James Cartwright
FROM: Mr. & Mrs. Don Cartwright

Moved here in 1971, because of job. (Changed Churches)

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.

 

Narrative 89: 1977

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.

 

Narrative 90: 1977

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 chose Bloomfield, 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 small-town. .

 

Narrative 91: 1977

BY: Stacey Gatling
FROM: Mr.& Mrs. Muriel Gatling

One month ago we came to Bloomfield and the better school system.

1. I believe in more discipline in school.

2. More school activities.

3. Less dope traffic.

4. Dress codesincluding limited hair length.

5. Less parent intervention in discipline matters of schools concern.

6. Achieving grade lever on merit, not age.

 

Narrative 92: 1977

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 in Bloomfield are concerts, programs, sports, talent shows, summer activities, the baseball and softball leagues.

 

Narrative 93: 1977

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.

 

Narrative 94: 1977

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 state tournament.

 

Narrative 95: 1977

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.

 

Narrative 96: 1977

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!

 

Narrative 97: 1977

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 last summer.

 

Narrative 98: 1977

BY: Gene Potter

Largo Wash

Largo Wash 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 ago. (l973)

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 Juan River.

Cows always get stuck and always die in the wash.

 

Narrative 99: 1977

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 High School. Then we moved, to Bloomfield. I like Mesa Alta the best of all because the students are the nicest of all.

 

Narrative 100: 1976

BY: Marty Mangum

Changes in the San Juan Basin (1970s)

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 restaurants.

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 and Bloomfield, 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.

 

 

Narrative 101: 1976

BY: Myron Jacquez
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 and Cortez.

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 without medicine.

During the time I knew Farmington, the streets of Farmington were around two blocks long.  From there you have no idea the change of this country.

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.

 

 

Narrative 102: 1976

BY Sherry Cogburn

Story of a Civil War Family

My story is a retelling of stories that my grandmothers tell me when I visit them. It is about my great-great-grandparents.

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.

 

More personal histories on the way.