Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Rancho Viejo Land History

Rancho Viejo Land History

“Unparalleled Land Stealing”


Marsha and I now live in Rancho Viejo (“Old Ranch” in Spanish) – a 23,000-acre (39 square mile) parcel of land south of I-25 in Santa Fe County, New Mexico.  Our former hometown of Wethersfield, Connecticut for comparison measured 13.1 square miles including .8 square miles of inlet cove and river water).  Among the current occupants of RV are three HOA communities (Windmill Ridge, Entrada, and The Village (our home)); Santa Fe Community College; Santa Maria de la Paz Roman Catholic Church; the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA); and the Amy Biehl Community School. 

Prior to the Spanish settlement of Santa Fe in the 1600s, the territory in-and-around what is now RV was used for hunting and gathering, and occasionally occupied by what archaeologists call Paleoindians, Archaics, and Puebloans.  (A chapter on “The Earliest Residents” is in progress.)       

The colonizing Spanish divided those open spaces into land grants – the majority of it common land for the general support of the community; some privately owned (“proprietary”) plots awarded to favored subjects and loyalists of the Spanish government, Pueblo communities or families of ten or more, and “sito” or ranch grants ranging in size from one square league (nine square miles) to hundreds of thousands of acres; and royal or vacant lands, which also were used by the general populace. Unfortunately for historians and real estate lawyers, during the Pueblo Rebellion in 1680 – an uprising by the indigenous Pueblo people against their Spanish colonizers – the Palace of the Governors (built in 1610) containing the records of all these early land grants was burned to the ground and the documents destroyed. 

The situation was exacerbated between 1869 and 1871 when New Mexico Governor William Pile was in office.  According to newmexicohistory.org, “A major debacle occurring during Pile’s term concerned the territorial archives. Ira M. Bond, the territorial librarian who was an appointee and friend of the governor, sold and destroyed some of the archives of New Mexico. [Among them some of the land grant documentation.] This action was apparently taken at Pile’s suggestion, who wanted for office use the space occupied by archival material in the Palace of the Governors.  Pile was condemned at public meetings in Santa Fe and Albuquerque for this decision.”

Dr. Richard Melzer of UNM Valencia in a talk at El Rancho de las Golondrinas told his audience that among these documents were more records of the early land grants.  When an effort was made to retrieve them it was found that many of them were used as scraps to start fires, and others in outhouses, and as butcher wrapping paper.

When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821 they continued the land grant laws with the one addition of allowing foreigners to acquire them – something not allowed by the Spanish.

After the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, when the United States took over the New Mexican Territory, the land began to be further divided and titles reassigned –raising interesting questions about how the land came into Anglo ownership after Hispanic proprietorship – and if there were any legal shenanigans involved to transfer the right of possession.  Or as stated in “Windmills and Dreams” (a history of nearby Eldorado at Santa Fe), “unparalleled land stealing in New Mexico.”

Such as, the Native Pueblo Indians might say, had been done to them.

Spanish and Mexican land grants were officially protected under the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo – but this provision was not strictly enforced. 

William P Barrett writes in his online article “Who Owns New Mexico” that the Treaty “protected grant holders who had perfected their titles [all liens or other defects had been removed]. But the U.S. Senate refused to ratify a provision that would have vested grantees merely in the process. Indeed, much of New Mexico's vast federal acreage today is the result of disallowed Mexican or Spanish land grants.  The result was decades of litigation--and fraud, as all kinds of dubious documents surfaced in purported support of these ancient rights.”

Inconsistencies between Anglo and Spanish land laws, indefinite land grant boundaries, and the inability of many claimants to provide proof of title led to legal and political entanglements and occasional violence in territorial New Mexico.  And the “Santa Fe Ring” – a group of powerful attorneys and land speculators (basically all the Republican politicians in the state capital during the late 19th and early 20th centuries – among them the above mentioned William Pile) – amassed a fortune through political corruption and fraudulent land deals.

Ultimately the Office of the United States Surveyor General for New Mexico was created in 1852 to investigate Spanish and Mexican land grants and recommend to the U.S. Congress those claims that had actual proof.

“Even so land grant issues remain vexing in New Mexico owing to the unfulfilled promise of the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo,” wrote Stephen Sayles and Jerry L. Williams in discussion of Land Grants from “New Mexico in Maps” by UNM Press.

Eldorado at Santa Fe, the census-designated place to the west and somewhat south of Rancho Viejo (map pg. 43) has proof of being a part of both the then adjacent Lamy and Canada de Los Alamos Spanish Land Grants – taking up most of the former.  “Lorenzo Marquez was deeded the [Canada de Los Alamos] in 1785.  At that time, and until 1892, the grant was a basically square piece of property containing 13,700 acres.  It was bounded on the north by the main road from Pecos Cerrillos; on the west by a wooded ridge; on the south by Canada de la Tierra including the Colorado Mountains; and on the east the boundary line dropped due south from the junction of Old Las Vegas Highway and U.S. Highway 285 to a few miles north of the present town of Lamy.”  (Windmills and Dreams)

The first owner of record of the Lamy Grant was Diego Antonio Baca who “sometime in 1807 was given the land in exchange for a house and lot to be used for barracks by government troops in the Presidio of Santa Fe.  The grant was described as being bounded: On the North, by the road leading from Santa Fe to Pecos; on the east by Cononcito de los Apaches, including the water of said canon; on the south by the road leading from Galisteo to its junction with the soldier’s bridle path; and on the west by the soldier’s bridle path and Cerro Colorado, including said Cerro.”

The next owner, circa 1817, was Carlos de Herrera, a sheepherder who had 500 consignment sheep stolen from him – and being unable to pay for the purloined ovines, devised a “back door” transfer of the property to the Catholic Church.   However selling land to the church was not allowed under Spanish or Mexican law.  So, “in order to clear up the situation”, in 1856 Bishop (later Archbishop) Jean Baptiste Lamy secured a quitclaim covering the grant from its heir Francisco Herrera.  “Lamy alleged that the will had been lost or misplaced; he also offered no explanations or apologies for his lack of documentation regarding the validity of the original Baca claim.”  (Archbishop Lamy was the subject of Willa Cather’s novel “Death Comes to the Archbishop.”

A map of Spanish and Mexican Land Grants published in “New Mexico in Maps” shows the Lamy and Canada de Los Alamos grants as adjacent gray shapes in Southern Santa Fe Country with white space to the east and west and most of the south except for the relatively small (1,895 acres) San Marcos Pueblo Grant to the southwest, and the San Cristoval Grant attached to the southernmost extremity of the Lamy Grant.  Immediately north of Canada de Los Alamos is the Sebastian de Vargas Grant.

My interpretation of this diagrammatic representation is that the Spanish/Mexican origins of what is now Rancho Viejo lies in the white space to the east and south – indicating to me that the property was never privately granted land or, if it were, that any records of such grants do not exist.  The land may have been communal, Royal, or simply vacant.

Oh well – no Colonialism, in this case Spanish, in our property’s lineage.  But Marsha and I are used to such things being second generation Americans who moved to Santa Fe from Connecticut’s oldest incorporated town (1634) with a rich British Colonial history, and a significant number of residents with direct familial ties to that past.

But, on the plus side, now we don’t need to stay awake nights worrying about the ghost, or heirs, of Archbishop Lamy showing up at our door to reclaim their heritage.  The couple who live next door to us, however, are the Herreras.  Oh well.

Value Unclear, But Hefty

Prior to becoming Rancho Viejo in 1981 RV and the surrounding real estate had been a succession of ranches the sizes and shapes of which ebbed and flowed as a series of buyers purchased entire properties and/or parts thereof.  The current “Old Ranch” is the only one with that name that I have found. 

In the early part of the Twentieth Century the Rancho Viejo land was a part of the Mocho Family Ranch – owned and run by Jean Baptiste (“James”) and John Mocho who were turn-of-the-century immigrants from the Basque Country. 

In 1910 the Mocho brothers purchased a ranch in Encinoso Lincoln County, in the foothills of the Capitan Mountains.  “The initial ranch, formerly the Charles Spence ranch, sat on 160 acres of deeded land, had two good springs and a permit to graze two thousand ewes during summer months on Forest Service Land”, according to Jim’s son Pete.

When New Mexico became a state the once open lands had some new government controls placed upon them, which the Mocho brothers did not know how to negotiate.  “Their lack of knowledge in such matters benefitted from political competition between the Democrats and Republicans who had seen the territory become a state.”  New Mexico’s first Governor was W. “Bill” McDonald, owner of the neighboring Block Ranch – whom the Mochos regarded as a competitor for the open land. 

Pete Mocho continued, “In Lincoln County, the republicans, under leadership of Mr. Andrew Huspeth, a lawyer, and Mr. Charles Spence, a banker, seized on the opportunity of limiting Governor McDonald’s expansion of his Block Ranch by taking Dad and uncle John to Santa Fe and helping them file on state range land and against Governor McDonald’s expansion of his Block Ranch…[the Mochos] were the only landowners near Governor McDonald who were authorized to claim a commensurate righ to the new state lands.” As a result the Mocho Ranch grew to 160,000 acres of choice land.

Other ranchers came in and settled the land between Mocho Ranch and Block Ranch – among them Thomas Shoemaker whose daughters Nora and Ora married John and Jim Mocho in 1914 and 1916 respectively.  The two families soon outgrew the 1890s u-shaped house on the ranch that they shared – and in a four day period in 1917 Jim and John Mocho “ sold the whole operation on Monday for cash to Pete Etchevery and George Walker.”  The ranch had, by then, grown to 800 head of cattle and 10,000 ewes, which brought $80 a head and $14 each.

James Mocho then purchased the “Bonanza Grant” in Santa Fe, and John joined him in raising sheep and cattle on the family ranch.  According to an article on newmexico.org, “The chain of title is confused, but the lands, sometimes called La Bonanza, Bonanza Creek, Cerrillos Ranch, or old Cerrillos, as well as the recorded grant names, were in the hands of the Padilla and Rio Grande Livestock Company when purchased by the Mochos.”  The combined owned land and leased land that comprised the Mocho sheep and cattle operation at one time apparently totaled 115,000 acres.

The article continues, “Jim Mocho [John’s son] says that his father built many of the fences in the Rancho Viejo area and tried to convince others to do so as well, once buying an entire railroad car full of barbed wire in Albuquerque.”

The Mocho homestead was broken up and sold off in part due the effects of “Great Depression”, and partly due to the decrease in open grazing land caused by public spaces being given over for housing and highway department usage.  In 1951 part (or possibly all) of the Mocho family ranch plus, over time, three other properties – the Dody, Morrow and Calvin holdings became the Jarrett Ranch.

According to the June 2006 “San Marcos District Community Plan” – “The remaining area in the district is residential/agricultural land ranging in lot sizes varying from less than an acre to several hundred acres. The settlement pattern is a result of the breakup and sale of several large ranches over time, the largest of these being the Jarrett Ranch.”

“By the Mid 1970s the isolated ranch house was mostly a thing of the past. While still very rural in nature, the San Marcos district had probably picked up another fifty or sixty families. Subdivision, in all of its guises, was rampant, although building was not. The giant Jarrett ranch was split in two after the death of Mr. Hughes, with Rancho Viejo Partnership purchasing the eastern half of the ranch.  Both halves however, continued to be run as working cattle ranches.”

RV itself was formed from a portion of the 36,000-acre Jarrett Ranch, which was located between Santa Fe and Madrid, south of I 25, east of La Bajada, and west of US 285.   Richard “Jim” Jarrett and his wife Tillie bought the property in 1951 and then Jim died in a traffic accident in 1957 after which the entire spread went to his wife.  Tillie married an Albuquerque Chiropractor named Sam Lord shortly after which she died of cancer leaving the ranch to her sister Sue Hughes who soon after also died of the same disease.  The land then went to Sue’s husband Glen and son Bobby who decided to sell some of the land to pay the inheritance taxes.

Bonanza Creek Ranch – “one of the premiere [move and TV filming] locations in the western United States” and about twelve miles south of our address (as the raven flies) was also part of that large spread. And was also acquired from the Jarrett Ranch in the 1980s.  The film “Cowboy” starring Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon was the first movie filmed here in l958. 1,200 Corriente steers were brought up from up from Mexico to use for the cattle drive scenes.

Rancho Viejo was purchased in 1981 by Adeline Meyer, Larry Meyer, Leland Thompson, William (Bill) Kennedy and Fred Chambers operating as Rancho Viejo Limited Partners.

In his Memoirs Larry Meyer writes, “Reporter Steve Terrell wrote an article for The New Mexican newspaper when we bought Rancho Viejo.  The title was ‘Three ‘Old Republicans’ Buy the Ranch,’ and in it Terrell implied that we were all Texans.  Leland is from Kansas originally, and I am from California.  In the article, Terrell called us carpetbaggers, despite the fact that, at the time, I think Leland had been here for about 25 years, and I had been here for 30 years!  Fred Chambers indeed was from Texas, but Fred didn’t take part in the day-to-day decisions.  It was more or less Leland and I who managed the operation.”

In Santa Fe Larry Meyer had established and run the L.E. Meyer Company, originally a mechanical contracting firm, and later a real estate development company in 1951.  He and his wife, Adeline, were well known for their generous support of higher education, the Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Garden Club, and other community efforts.

Leland Thompson was named one of “The 25 Richest People in New Mexico” by CROSSWINDS, “New Mexico’s Largest Alternative Newspaper” in October 1996 ­–  “LELAND THOMPSON, Santa Fe. Transplanted Texas oilman owns with partners lots of land around Interstate 25. Value unclear but hefty.”  In Midland Texas Thompson, Chambers and Kennedy were involved in the oil business with George H.W. Bush in the 1950s.  Leland and “HW” were both “wildcatters”, and Thompson reportedly gave a young “W” Bush his first ride in a small airplane.  Leland Thompson was also a founder of Santa Fe Preparatory School, and involved in a major way in the establishment of the Santa Fe campus of St. John’s College.

The San Marcos Plan goes on to say,  “Most of the [Rancho Viejo] holding continued as a 200 to 400 head cattle ranch leased to Mr. Henry McKinley. The partners concentrated their development efforts in the northern sections (outside the San Marcos District).”  Cattle farming ceased as in the mid-1980s as new land use codes were enacted.

Prior to the development of the Rancho Viejo HOAs, RVLP donated the lands for the establishment of Santa Fe Community College, Santa Maria de la Paz Roman Catholic Church, and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) as well as The Turquoise Trail Elementary School and the County Fire Station across from San Marcos Feed Store.

That’s it for now.  But my quest for a history of Rancho Viejo will continue, as, among other things, I attempt to: learn the actual boundaries and size of Rancho Viejo and of the Mocho Ranch (the magnitude of some of these southwestern land holdings boggles my provincial New England mind); find out more about the Jarrett Ranch, including its dimensions; and still possibly trace RV’s chain of ownership back to the original Spanish Land Grant(s).

Recently Marsha and I attended a talk by Abiquiu New Mexico author Lesley Poling-Kempes about her latest non-fiction work “Ladies of the Canyons” – “intrepid women whose lives were transformed in the first decades of the twentieth century by the people and landscape of the American Southwest.”

She talked about the difficulty of researching the history of people who are not famous – like the four main subjects of her book.  Stuff just is not written about them.  But in this case one of the Ladies, Natalie Curtis, was a friend and professional acquaintance of President Theodore Roosevelt and is mentioned in works about him – e.g. introducing him to the Hopi Indian Snake Dance at Walpi Arizona in 1913.

This absence of source material also seems to be the case with looking into the history of the land on which our property sits.  There was no “Battle of Rancho Viejo Hill” with tales of Rough Rider daring-do for historians to recount.  And then, when some documentation is uncovered it sometimes contradicts other accounts of the same thing.  But that is what makes researching fun – even at the amateur level.

As Sir Winston Churchill describes it, “History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.”  

An Additional Note:

A September 2001 Report to Congress “TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO – Definition and List of Community Land Grants in New Mexico reported the following:

“Land grant documents contain no direct reference to “community land grants” nor do Spanish and Mexican laws define or use this term. We did find, however, that some grants refer to lands set aside for general communal use (ejidos) or for specific purposes, including hunting (caza), pasture (pastos), wood gathering (leña), or watering (abrevederos). Scholars, the land grant literature, and popular terminology commonly use the phrase “community land grants” to denote land grants that set aside common lands for the use of the entire community. We adopted this broad definition in determining which Spanish and Mexican land grants can be identified as community land grants.

“We identified 154 community land grants (or approximately 52 percent) out of the total of 295 land grants in New Mexico. We divided these community land grants into three distinct types: 78 of these were grants in which the shared lands formed part of the grant according to the original grant documentation; 53 were grants that scholars, grantee heirs, or others believed to contain common lands; and 23 were grants extended to the indigenous pueblo cultures in New Mexico.”



Windmills and Dreams: A History of the Eldorado Community and Neighboring Areas

Eldorado Community improvement Association

New Mexico in Maps, University of New Mexico Press

The Memoirs of Larry Myer

June 2006 “San Marcos District Community Plan”

Ladies of the Canyons, Lesley Poling-Kempes, University of Arizona Press

Capitan, New Mexico: From the Coalora Coal Mines to Smokey Bear

By Gary Cozzens (books.google.com/books)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Looie, Looie, Oh, Oh, Me Gotta Go


 Santa Fe’s historic plaza area is looking for a loo.
“City floats plan for public restroom near Plaza,” read the headline in the Santa Fe New Mexican. And that newspaper later editorialized “A Plaza potty? Yes, please” – arguing, among other things, “that Santa Fe has a Margarita Trail, directing people to the best places to enjoy the ubiquitous cocktail. Develop a Potty Trail, so that visitors can check their phones and find what’s available at a glance”.
The search even made news in the Albuquerque media –  “Santa Fe Loo proposal makes a splash” according to KRQE News 13; and “‘Santa Fe Loo’ may be coming to provide relief, “ according to the Albuquerque Journal.
And website Tripadvisor has long criticized Santa Fe as a “Tourist trap without restrooms,”
It is something that Marsha and I have known about for twenty-five years since we first began vacationing in “The City Different”.  On our first visit here in 1992, in order to quickly familiarize ourselves with the history and layout of New Mexico’s capitol city, we went on one of the Tours-by-Locals walks of the downtown area.
And one of the first things that we learned – even before the story behind the unauthorized chiseling away of  “savage Indians” from the Civil War-era memorial statue in the center of the Santa Fe Plaza; or Billy the Kid’s part-time Hotel La Fonda dishwasher job; or the difference between Pueblo and Territorial architecture; or how the Masonic Temple is allowed to be neither; or the spot where the Santa Fe Trail ended – was that (at that time) the place to go, if you had to go (if you know what I mean) was the downtown branch of the Santa Fe Public Library – during open hours. 
This tip was presented to us tourists as an insider’s way to cope with the indelicate situation of a worldwide tourist destination without any public facilities to handle its visitor’s most delicate situations.  To compound the problem, the next piece of info our guide shared was that, because of the 7,500 for high altitude and dry climate, we needed to hydrate much, much more than we were used to.
Public restrooms are things you shouldn’t have to think about – but I remember two in particular.
I think my favorite public men’s room was in the Cape Cod town of Chatham, Massachusetts.  It was during the time when our son was still small, but old enough to be on his own for certain things.  The restroom at Chatham had urinals that extended down to the floor – suitable for users of all heights – facilitating an important male rite of passage
Budapest Hungary, like Santa Fe, had no public restrooms in certain parts of the city and surrounding areas.  A problem they solved by turning the toilets at every restaurant into a pay-for-pee establishment.  A basket was placed on a table by the necessity rooms into which drop-in lavatory “customers” were expected to deposit a coin of a certain amount.  I don’t remember the exact cost.  Hungary’s currency is the Forint (currency code HUF), which then and now exchanges with the dollar at about 250 to one.  Lunch for two could cost 5,000 HUFs.  Relieving yourself was about seventy-five Forints – and worth every penny (or whatever).
After a quarter century of vacations, and nine months of residency, Marsha and I have come up with our own set of workarounds to the Plaza potty problem.  During that time a new convention center with public restrooms opened within a few blocks of the plaza.  Unfortunately its business hours are more limited than the library.  Also the New Mexico History Museum was built right around the corner from the center of the area.  Originally the venue was apparently supposed to have public restrooms.  And it does – sort of.  They are located down the hall to the left, past the gift store.  You do not need to purchase admission to enter.  But there are no signs to tell that to the visitor.  If you gotta go, you just have to know. 
And then there is the La Fonda hotel across the street from southeast corner of the Plaza.  The number of people coming and going in that venue easily allows a desperate intruder to slip in and out of their facilities without notice.
This year’s proposed solution to the situation is what has come to be called the “Santa Fe Loo” – a one person at a time, stand-alone (so to speak) kiosk, which would be placed in a currently unused lot a couple of blocks from the center at a cost of around $130,000.
As reported in the New Mexican: “The loo would come from a Portland, Ore., company, The Portland Loo, which manufactures the stainless steel restrooms and could ship one to Santa Fe intact, the city memo states.
“The loo is lightweight and ‘open,’ according to a schematic from the manufacturer. Louvers, or open slats, ring the 10-foot-tall unit at the top and bottom. The lower slats are angled, the schematic says, to allow law enforcement to observe how many are within the stall without infringing on a user’s privacy.”
No one, at least publicly, seems to like the idea.  None of the five candidates for the March 2018 mayoral election support it.  But nobody seems to have a better idea either.
I myself kind of like what I will call the modified-Budapest solution.  Turn every restaurant into a “pee for a fee” facility.  For those tourists who no longer carry cash develop an app similar to those that allows electronic donations to panhandlers.  I would suggest $1.00 as a reasonable price.  Like the Canadian’s “Loonie” 

We could call it the “Looie”.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

So What About the Windmill?

“After a day’s work, as I rested on the porch steps in the fading daylight, I could hear the sucker rods of the old wooden windmill lifting water.” (Etchings on the Heart by Susan A. Holland in New mexico Magazine, February 2018)

Rancho Viejo at Santa Fe, where Marsha and I now live, is divided into three Home Owner Associations: Entrada, South Community (“Windmill Ridge”), and North Community (“The Village”).  Even though our home is in North Rancho Viejo the south Community’s windmill is clearly visible to us every day as we walk the desert trails – as a result the first question that we had when we moved here in September 2017 was, “so what about the windmill?”    


In his self-published book “The Memoirs of Larry Meyer” one of the original owners of Rancho Viejo recalls their major problem in developing the land, “First of all there was no water on the property – only several windmills – so if we were going to develop it, we had to find water.” 

Unbeknownst to this city-born-and-raised/suburban adult northeasterner, there were apparently parts of the United States that did not have the luxury of municipally supplied water.  Hence the now landmark symbol of and eponymous name source for our neighboring HOA community to the south.

Actually a form of water pump, windmills in the southwest were once a necessary way of supplying “Adam’s ale” for cattle and crop irrigation, but were largely abandoned when electric and gasoline motors came on the scene.  “Early documents refer to use of windmills…in Persia in 644 A.D.” were they were used to “grind grain” according to the book “Windmills and Dreams”.  They appeared in Europe in the 12th century.

On August 29, 1854, Daniel Halladay a machinist, inventor, and businessman from Connecticut patented the first commercially viable windmill – “Halladay’s Self-Governing Windmill” – after having been approached to work on the design by Ellington, Connecticut businessman, John Burnham. Burnham was in the pump business and realized that with a reliable way to bring ground water to the surface he could significantly increase business.  “Halladay’s Self-Governing Windmill” automatically turned to face the prevailing wind direction, and maintained a uniform speed by changing the pitch of the sails – with no human oversight.  The device would stand still during a storm by turning the edges of its sail wings to face into the wind, and then gradually redeploy them to resume operation when the storm ended.  It successfully drew water from as deep and twenty-five feet and moved it more than 100 feet into a reservoir.   The windmill itself sold for $50.00, with pumps and pipes costing an additional $25.00.  Halladay later moved his business to be closer to his western customer, forming the U.S. Wind Engine and Pipe Company of Batavia, Illinois.

Another highly successful brand of water pumping windmills for the southwest was the “Eclipse” produced by Morse and Company and invented by Leonard Wheeler, a Presbyterian minister who was working among the Ojibwe Indians on the south shore of Lake Superior.  He perfected the device in the privacy of his missionary homestead using it to draw water for his house for nearly two decades.  In 1866 ill health forced him to return to his hometown of Beloit, Wisconsin and seek a different career.  A cousin of his, Samuel Shipman, convinced him to patent the machine (US Patent No, 68674).  The “Eclipse” used a secondary vane, which shifted angles, and was held in position by weights through a series of pulleys to keep the windmill pointed at the optimum angle at all times.  The galvanized steel tower stood thirty feet tall with a six foot in diameter steel wheel.  The original Montgomery Ward Company (1872 – 2001) – a dry goods mail-order business out of Chicago Illinois distributed the machine.

Wheeler’s windmill was initially manufactured by L.H. Wheeler and Sons and was exhibited at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, the first official World's Fair in the United States, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania along with Halladay’s Self-Governing Windmill, and two other companies.  Charles Morse later purchased an interest in the company and merged it with Fairbanks Company to form Fairbanks, Morse & Co.  Morse asserted the reasons for the machine’s success as:

1.     “windmills could be shipped in pieces and yet assembled and erected with simple tools by people of ordinary ability;

2.     their parts were interchangeable, and thus repair were simple;

3.     windmills were made from durable materials; proper wood painted for protection and steel which had been protected by galvanizing;

4.     a minimum amount of material was used, cost of raw materials, transportation, and erection was kept at an economical level;

5.     lubrication problems were solved after the introduction of the self-principle early in this century; and;

6.     finally, and perhaps most importantly, the American were self-governing.”

These windmills allowed ranchers in New Mexico to graze their cattle over many square miles of the arid high desert land.  In the Santa Fe area cattle farms such as the old Lamy/Simpson Ranch and others used the technology – dotting the landscape with the tall, gawky, feathered water pumps.  Several of these machines survive today: to the west of Casa del Oro; near the old Pueblo Indian sites on the Simpson property; near Lamy; in the vicinity of St. Vincent Hospital; close to the Wheelwright Museum; going north on I-25 to the southwest; visible in the distance on the drive along The Turquoise Trail; behind the Guadalupe Credit Union on Mimbres lane off of Rodeo Road; and on the grounds of the San Marcos Seed Store and Café on Route 14; and one, believed to be an Eclipse, that is still operating in Eldorado just outside the second entrance and across U.S. Highway 285 from Avenida Vista Grande.

In a 1997 interview for the book “Windmills and Dreams – A History of the Eldorado Community and Neighboring Areas” Robert Dobyn recalled his summers visiting at the Lamy Ranch on the property that is now Eldorado.

“Water was always a problem here….you know where they have the Old Ranch Road and the art barns of U.S. 285, right behind the dump – there are two wells back there…We used to have windmills on that.  When you had windmills and you were running cattle, back in ’72, you were allotted commercial water rights, and that’s where AMREP [the initial Eldorado developer] got their water.  They consolidated all the windmills, and obviously they weren’t going to use the windmills…

 “Where my parents lived in downtown Santa Fe, we had a windmill.  It’s still [1997] there.  Windmills were real common.  There’s a ton of them.  This one is on Old Santa Fe Trail by Kaune’s [Market], where I was raised…The windmill operates on the suction principle.  Basically it’s a piece of pipe with what you call “leathers”, and the leathers swell and suction around the pipe.  The leathers wear out and you have to replace them.  That means you have to pull the pipes out, and that a lot of work, and we’d have to do that (on the ranch).  That’s how the cattle depended on water.  We’d build natural holding tanks in the arroyos (as well).”

The Rancho Viejo windmill is located at the corner of Saddleback Mesa and Mineral Hill, and was manufactured by the Aeromotor Windmill Company of Chicago, Illinois.  The company is still in business, now located in San Angelo, Texas. 

The Aeromotor was first developed in 1883 by a mechanical and civil engineer named Thomas O. Perry who (according to the company’s website) “had previously worked for U.S. Wind Engine Company, of Batavia, Illinois, and had conducted over 5,000 scientific tests on 61 different experimental wind wheels. These tests had been meticulously conducted indoors under controlled conditions, by mounting 5 ft. diameter steel test wheels on a steam driven arm, which provided constant artificial wind. His best test wheel was 87% more efficient than the common wood wheels in use at the time.” The U. S. Wind Engine Company however showed no interest in utilizing Perry’s discoveries. But LaVerne Noyes, a Chicago manufacturer of dictionary stands and farm equipment, recognized the potential and encouraged Perry to develop this “truly scientific steel windmill.”

Derisively called the “mathematical windmill” by its competitors Aeromotor sold only twenty-four windmills in 1888, its first year.  In 1892 they sold 20,000 of the machines, and “Aermotor was on its way to becoming the world’s dominant windmill.”

Because in most cases these devices shipped to rural locations in the southwest where they were assembled and put into operation by their owners, the manufacturers do not have detailed records of their locations.  Thus, I have not been able to find any other information about the Windmill Ridge landmark.

I believe it can be fairly said that the self-governing windmill was a major factor in how the west was won.  Although the mill at Rancho Viejo no longer pumps water – the sound of the sucker rod’s up-and-down motion and rotating metal blades can still be heard, reminding us of the role these devices played in Rancho Viejo’s, and New Mexico’s, history.

Photos by Marsha

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Starting to Feel at Home

When you have been vacationing in an area for a quarter century, and then you relocate there, it can be really difficult to wrap your mind around the fact that this time it is not just a sabbatical from which you have to return.  But Marsha and I are getting there.
When we first arrived this May, we rented Airbnbs in South Capitol, then in Upper Canyon Road – two of the prime areas in town for tourists to stay at because of the “easy walk into the Plaza” with all of its museums, restaurants and other activities.  And while we were there we took full advantage of the downtown proximity to enjoy some much-needed R and R.
But we soon discovered when we began house hunting – which was the only non-leisure activity we actually had to do – that, other than our son and daughter-in-law’s neighborhood; we really didn’t know any spots that weren’t sightseer sections of town.  Anything that wasn’t in those spots seemed to be, to our small-town east-coast way of thinking, too far from the “real” Santa Fe.  A belief that we fostered on a daily basis by trekking into town and playing tourist.  But we gradually began to disabuse ourselves of that notion at realtor open houses that brought us to a rural area south of Santa Fe that we had not even known existed – and is now the place that we now call home.
On our more recent visits during the past fifteen years we have stayed either in a home at which we “dog sat” for friends of Monica and Bram – or in a rented small house (casita) to the northwest of the Plaza, and like our Airbnbs within downtown walking distance.   The canine-watching gig was situated in the hills northeast of town with numerous empty acres of desert between large houses that were only reachable via multiple unimproved roads.  It is often said of Santa Fe that the worse the road, the pricier the house– ergo, that was not a viable prospect for our residential pursuits.  As for the casita area, it is ninety-five percent rental properties – a nice place to visit…
But both of these locations did force us to experience some of the parts of everyday life that most vacationers may not need to encounter – such as basic grocery shopping.  Before we moved out here a fellow health club member with no clearly no knowledge of where we were going asked me, “Do they, like, have grocery stores out there?” 
I assured him that they did indeed – as well as roads, although as mentioned previously the more prestigious ones are dry dirt with more ruts than stones.  Shopping at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods at least once a month is mandatory in Santa Fe.  (There actually might be an ordinance.)  Plus there are two grocery chains – Albertson’s and Smith’s – for more ordinary folks.  And another one named Sprouts, which, like Marsha and I, occupies the middle ground between the two retail food extremes.
Another result of our history of temporary living conditions, which also makes it harder to realize that we are no longer just on vacation here, is that we seem to have become quick adapters at making ourselves at home in stranger’s houses. 
As a result we seem to quickly overcome many of the telltale tests that indicate temporary residency, such as: an inability to fetch and put away the dinnerware without thinking which section of the drawer the property owner decided they should be in; and continually hitting your hit your head on the same bedroom ceiling light fixture   (unique to 600 square foot rental casitas with six-and-one-half foot ceilings).
I personally find our rapid adaptability to temporary housing pretty impressive considering that before moving to Santa Fe we lived in the same Wethersfield Connecticut home for forty years and basically only made one change when we remodeled the kitchen about half way through our tenure there.
However one thing we had not done previously out here – or actually any place other than our home base – was to get haircuts.  Needing a quick fix we discovered a chain called “Great Clips”, one of which was located a few blocks from our first Airbnb.  And which also, it turns out, has another shop a short drive from our new adobe abode.  Although in Connecticut we had a series of regular hair stylists (first Patty who retired, then Donna who retired, then Kelly), at Great Clips it is the luck of the draw.  And this less personalized approach (sometimes Maria, sometimes Yolanda) seems to be working just fine – even though each time they say it is “nice to meet you.”  This is not so surprising for me who on their computer data base “clip notes” is listed as a “all over [machine cut with the blade set] at 4.”  Less expectedly for Marsha whose cut requires more nuance and attention, and who has actively worked for years with the aforementioned “CT Three” to get it just right.
It turns out that in order to feel at home somewhere, you actually don’t need to be where everybody knows your name.