Letters to Myscie is a true story. It reveals to us a “yankee’s” view of the area and the times, and the impact it had on new comers.
Suzanne E. Smith
Sunday P.M. May 30th 1883
San Mateo Mts.
Socorro Co. N.M.
My dear dear Myscie
I have just returned from hunting our horses. I have been out looking for them over two hours and I am quite tired; only found one of them after all either, and Mr. Phillips has just taken that to go over to his ranch and will not return until night. Mr. Walker who went into the Magdalenas yesterday and took the letter I wrote yesterday will return tonight too so I shall only be alone this afternoon. We expect to have some trouble over these ranches and in fact we have had some already, but then we have got the drop on the right side and they can kick just as hard as they please and it will do no good. About two weeks ago the "Terry outfit" as we call them started out to take these ranches by "storm".
There were four of them T.J. Terry brother of the one that claims them. T.E. Walker brother in law of the same and two cowboys. They were armed to the teeth just as if they expected to meet Indians or Rustlers, the blamed cowards that they are. Well before they started out they made the boast that they would run us out (as we have been told since by a party that loaned them his gun). The day they came Clay and two "old timers" who have been out here for years; (stanch friends of Clay's) started out for a bear hunt over in what is called the "Big Rosie Canon" about eight miles from here. (I have a "Desert Claim " of 640 acres of land in that same canon.)
|San Mateo Ranch cowboys|
So I just jumped into my saddle and started off over the mountains to my ranch detemined to hold it in spite of them and to show them that I didn't scare "worth a cent". I expected to find that they had broken in the door and taken posession but they had got there long before I did, had pulled down my notice, whittled it all off and stuck up an other notice. They did not break in. I do not think they dared to. After they had taken lunch which they took on the ground out side, they started off again for the Pine Tree Ranch.
It was here in the mountains just half way between the "Pine Tree" and the "Little Rosie" that I met them face to face right in the woods. It was truly picturesque I know it must have been and quite romantic. I thought of it afterward that night after I got back. To see us five parties riding up onto one another with our guns in hand and six shooters shining in our belts while the sun peeped down between the branches of the big pines to see the fun. I wasn't afraid one bit and I shouldn't have been if there had been 40 instead of four, for I knew I was on the right side. That they were on the "bluff" game and was trying to scare me out of it. I knew there wasn't one of them had the sand to draw his arms on me, for they know as well as we know how tight we have got them, and as far as being safe I would just as soon have met them without my gun or six shooter as to have had them. They are cowards from the word go. I knew the two cowboys and as I drove up they spoke and said that I was Smith and the man he (Terry) wanted to see.
I pulled up my horse side of Mr. Terry so clost that I could touch him and asked
what was wanted. Terry asked me if I was the man who was locating these ranches out here. I told him I was, and then he opened up on me with his threats and warnings etc., talked law, talked force, talked everything that would tend to scare me, said if I placed foot on the Little Rosie Location he would prosicute me to the full extent of the law etc., etc., etc. I let him go on for some time in this way and then I said just as cool as could though I admit I was a little nervous. “ Mr. Terry your ranches have been jumpable for some time. In fact we have jumped some of the, and I for one intend to keep the one I have jumped. As for law, the sooner we go to the law, the sooner you will see where you are getting left, and as far as going on to the Little Rosie claim, there is just where I am going now.” Pointing to my saddle where I had a saw, an axe and a hatchet strapped I said..” there is my axe, hatchet & saw that I am going to do work with over there this afternoon. Furthermore said I, we are both wasting time standing here talking in this way so good day.”
I then turned my horse about and drove past them. They called to me to stop and I stopped and turned around and one of the cowboys whom Terry had to locate the ranch in his (the cowboy's name) said to me, “Smith I warn you before these parties, not to set foot on the Little Rosie Location for it is mine.” “ George” said I “ you heard what I said to Mr. Terry. I don't care to make any more talk with you whatever”, and then I drove on.
But to go back a little way to Jim, he had wandered off towards the Little Rosie and knowing that I would be there soon had lain down side of the cabin to rest and wait for me instead of returning, as I had expected, to Hoyt's, before I left. While he was siting here, down came these four upon him with their guns flashing as he told it, and asked him if he was put in charge of that ranch. He said he was not and had nothing to do with it.
|Unknown group of armed men|
I went to work and worked about two hours when Clay came and we went back to Hoyt's where we are making our head quarters. I told him what I had gone through and what I had said. He said I had done just right and praised me up by saying that he told the other fellows when I started off to come over, that these fellows wouldn't make anything out of Smith, if they did try on their "bluff" game. It is a State Prison offense to destroy or tear down a location notice, as they did mine, and I have almost positive proof that they did. Jim was there all the time but did not see them do it; but I have found over in the bushes the shavings with the writing on that fits into the same board that they have got their notice written on. You see they were not so very smart after all for they just whittled off the side my notice was on and wrote on the other side. I have several witnesses to seeing my notice there first also witnesses to the shavings which I have saved and tried into the same places where they were whittled off. So if they destroy the board, I can proove by witnesses that have seen both board & shavings all about it. I've got them down fire and if they go to kicking too hard I will "squeeze" them a little.
|San Mateo cabin|
To any person or persons who may trespass on these premises to molest or disturb or do harm to any part or portion of property belonging to this location. I do hereby give warning and shall prosicute to the full extent of the law such intrusions.
May 25th '83=Signed Jos E. Smith=Location (Seal)
I guess none of them knew enough to make out one of their own so had to copy. The next day they came over here stoped all day, camped out all night-about 50 yards from the cabin under the trees; posted up their warning and went away the next morning with out disturbing a thing anywhere or making any disturbance. I guess they are finding out the "Bluff" don't count. Our lawyer; Judge Cartwell was out the other night and gave me a few pointers. He says I have done well and to keep a stiff upper lip and we will teach them a few things they don't know yet. We may have some fun yet, but there is plenty of money and the right side of the law to back us so we are all OK. You must be tired of this stuff for here I have written seven or eight pages of it. I did not know I had written so much, but when I get to going I don't know when to sto, so forgive me if I have tired you Myscie. I'll change the subject.
The J.E. Smith Collection is wonderful. However a large number of the photos and the people in them are unidentified. One of the the two ranch photos were validated by Buddy Tigner, as being located within the old Tigner Ranches in the San Mateos. The photo of the “armed” group is odd because some seem to be wearing military uniforms; some casually dressed, and there are a couple of “little fellers” and some dogs. It was possibly a “hunting party”.
Letters to Myscie, a Western Love Story written by Suzanne E. Smith, All rights reserved.