La Mesilla, New Mexico — the last 100 years

La Mesilla, New Mexico, has changed little since Billy the Kid and Jesse Evans died at the end of its lusty frontier atmosphere. Thick-walled adobe buildings erected by the remarkable men who trekked the heels of Don Rafael Rules from the heart of Old Mexico to settle in the spawning Rio Grande Valley are much the same as they were when 10-year-old Mary Maxwell, the daughter of one of La Mesilla’s forthright citizens, was carted off by a hungry mountain [...] Read more »

Bob Orlinger — New Mexico’s killer deputy

Bob Orlinger. Photo from author’s collection Hero-worshiping gunslingers of the 1880s were on both sides of the law. John Wesley Hardin was the undisputed killer of the West, but most towns had their own monarchs; Wild Bill Hickok ruled over Deadwood, Wyatt Earp controlled Tombstone, Dallas Stoudenmire tamed El Paso, Long-haired Jim Courtright dominated Fort Worth, and in California Joaquin Murietta killed anybody that looked at him crossways. Bob Olinger’s place in New Mexico history roughly parallels Billy the Kid’s, [...] Read more »

The Lincoln County War (1878-79) — Competition Wasn’t Welcome

Gov. Lew Wallace issued amnesty for participants on both sides of the fracas. Photo courtesy State Historical Society of New Mexico   Nomad Indians dominated Lincoln County’s population, but it had also been inhabited for hundreds of years along the Rio Grande and its branch by casual settlers. For many years, New Mexico was looked upon by politicians in Washington as an abandoned puppy among the states and territories. In 1874, General Tecumseh Sherman, testifying before the senate committee, thundered [...] Read more »