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The speaker is a 70-year-old White woman with a high school education from Las Vegas, New Mexico; she was recorded in 1966.



County: San Miguel
State: NM

Commentary:
Established in 1835, Las Vegas, New Mexico, was an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail. The arrival of the railroad brought rapid growth to the area, which became notorious for the many outlaws (including Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, and Doc Holliday) who passed through and inhabited the city in the late 1800s. In this segment the speaker talks about her family history and the outlaws who used to frequent the area. She mentions the White Caps (also known as Silva???s White Caps or Las Gorras Blancas), led by Vicente Silva. The White Caps opposed the buying and fencing of large tracts that had previously been regarded as public grazing land. They got their name from the white robes and pointed caps they wore while dismantling fences at night.
Inf: My father-in-law, uh, came West, uh, with one of the first cov-, covered wagon trains out of West Port, Missouri. He first, uh, he was only thirteen years old when he shipped out, but he had a, a stepfather who taught him the blacksmith and carriage factory bus-, uh, carriage manufacturing business. He went up through the Cheyenne country, and then, of course, went back to West Port and shipped out down along the Santa Fe Trails. So he came West, um, he came through here, I think, when he was about fifteen. And then at seventeen he came through again, and he stayed up at Fort Union; he had a little business up there. And then, uh, Las Vegas was, um, quite a, an important point on the Santa Fe Trail, and he moved his business down here. He thought it was more, was, uh, better business. And it was a marvelous range country then. They had all c-, uh, there was, uh, a lot of wealth there, and Pop established the first bla-, blacksmith shop and carriage factory in the Southwest. Now we have a silver medal there that was given to him for the best, uh, carriage, um, uh, um, showing in, at the state fair in Albuquerque in 1887.

So my fa-, uh, father and my father-in-law were old-timers here. That is, they, uh, they came at different times. ???Course my father-in-law or my, who we referred to as Papa, came much earlier than my father did. And they were here through much of the building of the Southwest. And, uh, some of it???s very, uh, exciting times. ???Course, they, they knew all about, uh, the, uh, White Caps, which was a band of, of, uh, marauders [pronc: mar-AY-ders] and fence cutters. The White Caps, uh, apparently were not so bad at the beginning; they just, uh, resented the ranges being fenced, and they used to ride the, the ranges and cut the fences. But later on they we-, they became a very, um, uh, bloodthirsty group, and it was nothing to go across the bridge there, from between the old town and the new town, and see from one to five bodies strung up to the bridge. We had, uh, at that time, one of those little steel beam bridges, you know, the, the overhead beams, and there???s where they would hang and in-, the men, the people that they???d wanted to get rid of.

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