Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

New Book on Las Cruces History

Screen With A Voice – A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Screen With A Voice - A History of Moving Pictures in Las Cruces
The first projected moving pictures were shown in Las Cruces 110 years ago. Who exhibited those movies? What movies were shown? Since projected moving pictures were invented in 1896, why did it take ten years for the first movie exhibition to reach Las Cruces? Who opened the first theater in town? Where was it located? These questions began the history of moving pictures in Las Cruces, and they are answered in this book. But so are the events and stories that follow.

First movie shown in Las Cruces
First theater in Las Cruces
First talkie shown in Las Cruces
Invention of drive-in theater in Las Cruces
Opening of Rio Grande Theater
Impact of Great Depression on business
Raffle of six-week-old baby girl at Mission Theater
World premiere of first BILLY THE KID movie
Second world premiere of a BILLY THE KID movie
Arrival of Organ, Rocket, Fiesta, and Aggie Drive-Ins
Shooting of Clint Eastwood’s HANG ‘EM HIGH

There have been 21 movie theaters in Las Cruces – all but three or four are forgotten. They are unremembered no longer. And one, especially, the Airdome Theater which opened in 1914, deserves to be known by all movie historians – it was an automobile drive-in theater, the invention of the concept, two decades before movie history declares the drive-in was invented.

To supplement this history are 102 photos and illustrations. These include ephemeral documents such as the 4-page flyer for Las Cruces’ third movie exhibition, at the Rink Theater; historic photos of theaters; aerial photos of drive-ins; and never-before-published photos of the shooting of HANG ‘EM HIGH.

Cover: Depicts the 1930 world premiere of BILLY THE KID, starring John Mack Brown as Billy, at the Rio Grande Theater in Las Cruces.

See also:

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Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

The Arizona Cowboy

The word usage “cowboy” was not widespread in the press until it began to be used to describe the “cowboys” of Arizona. Although the word was always associated with cattle wrangling, during the late 1870s and early 1880s, cattle wranglers who were willing to cross the line to robbery and rustling began to formally self-describe themselves as “cowboys,” which was picked up by the Western press. In Arizona, they often wore red bandanas as an informal mark of membership. Johnny Ringo, before his suicide, was often referred to as the “King of the Cowboys.”

The Arizona Cowboy

“…The cowboy is a cross between a vaquero and a highwayman, which intensifies the worst qualities of each type. He is given to drink and to quarreling. He is hostile, on general principles, to everybody more civilized than himself. He detests ‘boiled shirts’ and ‘plug’ hats, and he will do the incautious wearers of those garments whatever injury he may. He is a thief as well as a murderer, and thinks nothing of stopping stages and stealing cattle.”

“As the cowboys are numerous, it is to be feared that they will oppose a prolonged and measurably successful resistance to the spasmodic raids upon them, and that they will render life on the frontier equally exciting and precarious for some time to come. The status they occupy in the general scheme of American civilization may be shown by an illustration When, in the West Indies, the sugar cane is being cut, it is the practice to leave a patch of cane in the middle of the field. The reason is that as the cutting proceeds all the venomous reptiles that inhabit the cane retire before the hands until they reach the center. Thus, there is a little patch which at last becomes full of them, and that patch is set on fire and burned. Now the cowboys are the venomous creatures which have been driven from both sides towards this patch of country by the advance of civilization, and when their habitat is reached it is naturally found to be very disagreeable. They will have to make way for settlement and honest industry, however, even if the last man among them dies in his boots.”

The Daily Record-Union, June 17, 1881

See Also:

Death of Johnny Ringo – King of the Cowboys
Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today

Filed in: Arizona Cowboy, History | Comments Off on The Arizona Cowboy

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Death of Johnny Ringo – King of the Cowboys

His Body Found in Morse’s Canyon – Probable Suicide

Sunday evening intelligence reached this city of the finding of the dead body of John Ringo near the mouth of Morse’s canyon in the Chiricahua mountains on Friday afternoon.

There was [sic] few men in Cochise county, or Southeastern Arizona better known. He was recognized by friends and foes as a recklessly brave man, who would go any distance, or undergo any hardship to serve a friend or punish an enemy. While undoubtedly reckless, he was far from being a desperado, and we know no murder being laid to his charge. Friends and foes are unanimous in the opinion that he was a strictly honorable man in all his dealings, and that his word was as good as his bond. Many people who were intimately acquainted with him in life have serious doubts that he took his own life, while an equally large number say that he frequently threatened to commit suicide, and that event was expected at any time.

The circumstance of the case hardly leave any room for doubt as to his self destruction. He was about 200 feet from water, and was acquainted with every inch of the country, so that it was almost impossible for him to lose himself. He was found in the midst of a clump of oaks, springing from the same stem, but diverging outward so as to leave an open space in the centre. On top of the main stem and between the spreading boughs was a large stone, and on this pedestal he was found sitting, with his body leaning backward and resting against a tree.

He was found by a man named John Yost, who was acquainted with him for years, both in the Territory and Texas. Yost is working for Sorgum Smith, and was employed hauling wood. He was driving a team in the midst of the clump of trees, apparently asleep. He passed on without further investigation, but on looking back, saw his dog smelling of the man’s face and snorting. This excited curiosity, and he stopped the team, alighted, and proceeded to investigate. He found the lifeless body of John Ringo, with a hole large enough to admit two fingers about half way between the right eye and ear, and a hole correspondingly large on top of his head, doubtless the outlet of the fatal bullet. The revolver was firmly clenched in his hand, which is almost conclusive evidence that death was instantaneous. His rifle rested against a tree and one of his cartridge belts was turned upside down. Yost immediately gave the alarm, and in about fifteen minutes eleven men were on the spot. The subjoined statement made by the eye witnesses to Coroner Matthews:


Statement for the information of the Coroner and Sheriff of Cochise county, Arizona:

There was found by the undersigned, John Yost, the body of a man in a clump of oak trees, about twenty yards north from the road leading to Morse’s mill, and about a quarter of a mile west of the house of B. F. Smith. The undersigned viewed the body and found it in a sitting posture, facing west, the head inclined to the right. There was a bullet hole on the top of the head on the left side. There is, apparently, a part of the scalp gone, including a small portion of the forehead and part of the hair. This looks as if cut out by a knife. These are the only marks of violence on the body.

Several of the undersigned identify the body as that of John Ringo, well known in Tombstone. He was dressed in light hat, blue shirt, vest, pants and drawers. On his feet were a pair of hose and an undershirt torn up so as to protect his feet. He had evidently traveled but a short distance in this foot-gear. His revolver he grasped in his right hand, his rifle resting against the tree close to him. He had on two cartridge belts, the belt for [the] revolver, calibre 45, No. 222, contained five cartridges; 1 Winchester rifle octagon barrel, calibre 45, model 1876, No. 21,896, containing a cartridge in the breech and ten in the magazine; 1 cartridge belt, containing 9 rifle cartridges; 1 cartridge belt, containing 2 revolver cartridges; 1 silver watch old American Watch company, No. 9339, with silver chain attached; two dollars and sixty cents ($2.60) in money; 6 pistol cartridges in pocket; 5 shirt studs; 1 small pocket knife; 1 tobacco pipe; 1 comb; 1 block matches; 1 small piece tobacco. There is also a portion of a letter from Messrs. Hereford & Zabriskie, attorneys-at-law, Tucson, to the deceased, John Ringo. The above property is left in the possession of Frederick Ward, teamster between Morse’s mill and Tombstone.

The body of deceased was buried close to where it was found.

When found deceased had been dead about twenty-four hours.


Thomas White, John Blake, John W. Bradfield, B. F. Smith, A. E. Lewis, A. S. Neighbors, James Morgan, Robert Bolter, Frank McKenney, W. J. Dowelt, J. C. McGray, John Yost, Fred Ward.

From Fred Ward, who arrived in the city on Sunday evening, an EPITAPH reporter learned that the general impression prevailing among people in the Chiricahuas is that his horse wandered off somewhere, and he started off on foot to search for him; that his boots began to hurt him, and he pulled them off and made moccasins of his undershirt. He could not have been suffering for water, as he was within 200 feet of it, and not more than 700 feet from Smith’s house.

Mrs. Morse and Mrs. Young passed by where he was lying Thursday afternoon, but supposed it was some man asleep, and took no further notice of him. The inmates of Smith’s house heard a shot about three o’clock Thursday evening, and it is more than likely that that is the time the rash deed was done. He was on an extended jamboree the last time he was in this city, and only left here ten days ago. He had dinner at Dial’s in the South Pass of the Dragoons one week ago last Sunday, and went from there to Galeyville, where he kept on drinking heavily.

We have not heard of his whereabouts after leaving Galeyville, but it is more than likely he went to Morse’s canyon. He was subject of frequent fits of melancholy and had an abnormal fear of being killed. Two weeks ago last Sunday in conversing with the writer, he said he was as certain of being killed, as he was of being living then. He said he might run along for a couple of years more, and may not last two days.

He was born in Texas and is very respectably connected. He removed to San Jose, California, when about sixteen years old, and Col. Coleman Younger, one of the leading citizens of that town is his grandfather. Ringo was a second cousin to the famous Younger brothers now in Minnesota penitentiary, for their partnership with the James boys. He has three sisters in San Jose, of whom he was passionately fond. He was about thirty-eight years old, though looking much younger, and was fine specimen of physical manhood. Many friends will mourn him, and many others will take secret delight in learning of his death.

Tombstone Weekly Epitaph, July 22, 1882.

See Also:

The Arizona Cowboy
Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today

Filed in: Arizona Cowboy, History | Comments Off on Death of Johnny Ringo – King of the Cowboys

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today

The renowned shootout at the O. K. Corral, the subject of innumerable books and movies, the source of Wyatt Earp’s and his brothers’ enduring fame, occurred 133 years ago. An excellent, eye-witness account of the gunfight was printed in the San Francisco Chronicle several days latter, and republished in newspapers across the country, including in the local Las Cruces paper, the Rio Grande Republican. Here is that account:


Three Cowboys Killed in a Battle in Tombstone

A Tombstone, Arizona, special to the San Francisco Chronicle of the 27th ult., gives the following graphic account of the fight between cowboys and the authorities of the town:

The liveliest street battle that ever occurred in Tombstone took place at 2:30 P. M. to day, resulting in the death of three persons and the wounding of two others, one probably fatally. For some time past several cowboys have been in town, and the fight was between City Marshal Virgil Earp, his two brothers, Morgan and Wyatt Earp, and Dock (sic) Holliday on one side, and Ike and Billy Clinton and Frank and Tom McLowery on the other. The Clanton and McLowery brothers are known as cowboys, and Ike has been in town for the past week drinking pretty freely, and was arrested this morning for carrying concealed weapons, he having appeared on the street with a Winchester rifle and six-shooter on. After paying his fine he is reported to have made threats against Marshal Earp and his brothers, and it is known that bad blood has existed between them for some time. About 2:30 o’clock the Marshal requested his brothers, Morgan and Wyatt, and Dock Holliday to accompany him to aid in disarming the cowboys, as trouble was feared in the evening. They started down toward the O. K. Corral on Fremont street, and a few doors below the Nugget office saw the two Clantons and the McLowery brothers talking to Sheriff Beban, who had requested them to disarm. The Marshal called out, “Boys, throw up your hands; I want you to give up your shooters.”


At this Frank McLowery attempted to draw his pistol, when Wyatt Earp immediately shot him, the ball entering just about the waist. Dock Holliday then let go at Tom McLowery with a shotgun, filling him full of buckshot under the right arm. Billy Clanton then blazed away at Marshal Earp, and Ike Clanton, who it is claimed was unarmed, started and ran off through the corral to Allen street. The firing then became general, and some thirty shots were fired, all in such rapid succession that the fight was over in less than a minute. When the smoke cleared away it was found that Frank McLowery had been killed outright, with one ball through the intestines, one in the left breast, and one in the right temple, the latter two wounds being received at the same instant. Tom McLowery lay dead around the corner of Third street, a few feet from Fremont’s, the load of buckshot fired by Holliday killing him instantly. Billy Clanton lay on the side of the street, with one shot in the right waist and another in the right side, near the wrist, and the third in the left nipple. He was taken into a house and lived about half an hour in great agony.


Morgan Earp was shot through both shoulders, the ball creasing the skin. Marshal Earp was shot through the fleshy part of the right leg. Wyatt Earp and Dock Holiday escaped unhurt. The shooting created great excitement, and the street was immediately filled with people. Ike Clayton was captured and taken to jail, where he now remains. The jail is guarded by a number of citizens to prevent lynching, of which there is no apparent danger. The three dead bodies were removed to the Morgue, where they now lie. It is reported that several thousand dollars were found on the bodies. The feeling of the better class of citizens is that the Marshal and his posse acted solely in the right in attempting to disarm the cowboys, and it was a case of kill or get killed. Clayton’s father was killed with four others a few months ago in New Mexico by the Mexicans while driving a band of cattle up to this market. The town is fairly quiet, and the authorities are fully able to maintain order.

Rio Grande Republican, November 5, 1881.

See Also:

The Arizona Cowboy
Death of Johnny Ringo – King of the Cowboys

Filed in: Arizona Cowboy, Billy the Kid, History, Las Cruces | Comments Off on Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

New Book on the Hermit of La Cueva

Giovanni Maria de Agostini, Wonder Of The Century — The Astonishing World Traveler Who Was A Hermit

Giovanni Maria de Agostini Book
This book is about a remarkable man, Giovanni Maria de Agostini, born in Italy in 1801, who combined two seemingly contradictory aspirations: a fervent desire to devote his whole life to “perfect solitude” and an astonishing urge to travel incessantly.

As his decisions and actions emerge from the lightless silence – the time-covered past – a unifying purpose becomes evident.

Following extensive travel in Europe, Agostini takes vows revocable only by formal dispensation from the Pope. He immediately leaves forever his “beloved Italy” for South America. Twenty-one years he spends traversing that, at the time, greatly unexplored continent, visiting Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile – and so doing multiple times. During this spectacular solo Odyssey, he survives a trip down the Amazon River by canoe, crosses the Alps by foot several times, walks vast distances, and endures living alone in scalding deserts and subzero mountains. In spite of oppressive and infuriating obstacles, including death threats, unjust arrest, deportation, jail, and forced confinement in a mental asylum, Agostini persists undeterred in the solemn goal he set for himself when he left Europe.

Seeking change and another continent, Agostini leaves South America for Mexico, passing through Panama and Guatemala, and then Mexico for North America, passing through Cuba. In Cuba, he is hailed as an extraordinary adventurer, his photograph is taken, and he is proclaimed “The Wonder of Our Century.” After arrival in New York, he walks to Canada, where he spends almost a year, then “goes west,” eventually reaching, in the midst of the American Civil War, the Territory of New Mexico, where he meets his merciless fate.

Agostini is remembered in many places — in South America as Monge João Maria, in North America as Ermitaño Don Juan Agostini; however his life story is encrusted with myth and false fact. As the veritable events of his life are unveiled, a man of fascinating originality, prodigious endurance, intelligence, self-discipline, and self-sufficiency, infused with an indomitable spirit of adventure, emerges.

Today in Argentina, as many as 15,000 people participate in a yearly festival initiated by Agostini at Cerro Monje, “Monk’s Hill.” In Brazil, at Cerro Campestre, “Campestre Hill,” and Santo Cerro do Botucaraí, “Holy Hill of Botucaraí,” over 10,000 people celebrate annual events founded by Agostini. In Lapa, Brazil, a national park protects the pilgrimage route to Gruta do Monge, “Monk’s Grotto.” At Araçoiaba Hill, near Sorocaba, Brazil, the Trilha da Pedra Santa, “Trail of the Holy Rock,” is climbed annually by thousands of people desiring to pay respect to the memory of the Monge do Ipanema, the “Monk of Ipanema.”

These are just a few examples of Agostini’s cultural legacy, 145 years after his death.

“David G. Thomas has finally pulled back the veil of obscurity that long shrouded one of the most enduring mysteries in New Mexico’s long history to reveal the true story of the Hermit, Giovanni Maria de Agostini. Tracking Agostini from Italy throughout South and North America to his final resting place in Mesilla, Thomas has once again proven himself a master history detective. Of particular interest is the information about the Hermit’s life in Brazil, which closely parallels his remarkable experience in New Mexico, and required extensive research in Portuguese sources. Thomas’s efforts make it possible to understand this deeply religious man.” — Rick Hendricks, New Mexico State Historian

20 maps and 65 photos, including 2 rare photos of Agostini, one taken in 1857 and one taken in 1861.

Table of Contents here.
E-Book here

See also:
La Cueva – Hermit’s Cave

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