Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Southwestern Reserve Or Why History is Harder to Write than Fictio

 So I am looking for an historical connection between Wethersfield, Connecticut and Santa Fe, New Mexico other than the fact that our son who was born and raised in the former now lives in the latter – and the dream that Mars and I (still living in CT's "most auncient towne") hope also to reside there some day.
Such locational interrelationships with our hometown are not unusual.  Wethersfield residents have been involved in the founding of various other places such as the Western Reserve (the northeast portion of Ohio); our “daughter towns” of Glastonbury, Rocky Hill, Newington; nearby Berlin; downstate Stamford and Stratford CT; Hadley Massachusetts; Holland Patent, New York; Wethersfield (now Kewanee), Illinois; and Brownsville, Texas – plus (according to local historian John C. Willard)“ One family went to Utah, accepted the Mormon Church and provided a governor [Heber Manning Wells (1859 – 1938)] for that state.”
As an AMATEUR researcher at our local historical society I have come to expect that I can always find some new interesting story from my village’s past by simply Googling the word “Wethersfield” in conjunction with just about any other town or state name.
But not either Santa Fe or New Mexico.
My many searches did not turn up a “Southwestern Reserve”.  But I did find mention of “The Land of Enchantment” as a place where local, world-renowned 19th Century botanist Charles Wright (after whom Datura wrightii or Sacred Datura is named) did field work and taught for a while. 
And I came across a reference to Lucius Parmenius Deming, a descendent of John Deming (one of our town’s original ten settlers, and one of the nineteen persons to whom King Charles II granted the Charter of Connecticut in 1662) “practicing law in New Haven [CT], and managing a copper mine in New Mexico.”     

Lucius was attorney and general manager for McAllister and Company in Pinos Altos, NM; and for the Allessandro Copper Mining Company in the Sliver City/Burro Mountain area – “a Connecticut concern” according to “A History of New Mexico” by George B. Anderson.  Anderson also mentions that “In May 1883 the Silver City, Deming & Pacific Railroad was completed to the former place, which event marked the height of prosperity of the silver-producing district around it.”
Lucius Deming lived in Red Rock, NM – to this date, still not a municipal community.  Wethersfield takes great pride in being the first incorporated town in Connecticut – a hankering for which this law-practicing descendent of one of the actual incorporators apparently did not carry with him to the southwest.
He likewise was not involved with the above-mentioned railroad or in the establishment of Deming, New Mexico – the middle part of the railway’s moniker.  That town was founded in 1881 and, per Wikipedia, “named after Mary Ann Deming Crocker, wife of Charles Crocker, one of The Big Four of the railroad industry.”  Mary Ann was the daughter of John Jay Deming, born in Litchfield, Ct. – a different branch of the family from Wethersfield’s founder.
My brief experiences as a lay historian have taught that such research is never-ending.  And that there is always the possibility that sitting on the next shelf in the library is more information that can send your investigation off in another direction – but rarely completes it entirely.  Perhaps when Mars and I move to New Mexico, and I can initiate my inquiries from the southwest side of the equation, I will find that clue. 
I also sometimes write what are called “personal essays”.   Like histories, these compositions also are real-life events woven together into explanatory and (hopefully) entertaining narratives. As I learned in a personal essay writing class I took several years ago that the trick is in knowing when to stop.
So I will – for now anyway.   


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