The Domínguez and Escalante Expedition

Image credit: Albuquerque Journal

Almost 250 years ago, two friars set out from northern New Mexico to find a northern route to a new settlement and the related missions in Monterey, California. The idea of a northern route was to see if there might be a way to avoid the difficulties of the Grand Canyon and the Mojave Desert.

The expedition was organized in Santa Fe. The two Franciscan friars, Father Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Father Francisco Atanasio Domínguez were the leaders of the project. They were unsuccessful in reaching California, turned back and returned to Santa Fe the next year. However, their efforts were significant in many ways, including the fact that their maps and observations of natural landmarks were used to guide other explorers who came later to the Four Corners area.

Domínguez was in charge and organized the expedition, engaging the help of Escalante. They began their journey near the end of July, 1776 with provisions, some weapons and other individuals. They first headed north into what is now Colorado. They soon encountered the Yutas (Utes) and persuaded two of them to join the group as guides. Northwest of what is now Durango, Colorado, the party came across some pueblo ruins later given the names of the Domínguez and Escalante Pueblos. They were excavated many years later and found to date back to the Anasazi period as early as about 1100 AD.

They continued heading northwest until they turned west into what is now Utah when they had reached the southern part of what is now known as the Dinosaur National Monument by about the middle of September. They continued west, again encountering more of the Ute band and engaged one of them to act as a guide. However, their providence was not to last. That far north, winter arrives earlier than in the more southerly climates and their newly engaged guide abandoned the group reportedly after witnessing the mistreatment of one of the servants.

Running low on provisions, facing winter and being without a guide, the party voted and agreed to endeavor to return to Santa Fe, continuing south along the Colorado River. Along the way, they were forced to consume the remainder of their livestock. They also killed and ate many of their horses.

They finally arrived in Santa Fe in early 1777 with the benefit of provisions from the Hopi and other tribes along the way. Artifacts from the expedition include a map by artist and cartographer Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco and Escalante’s journal. Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco is a name that will be familiar to some as he was one of the first people of European descent to reflect Chaco Canyon on a map, which he did in 1774. He was born in 1713 in Spain and died in 1785 in Santa Fe.

Domínguez was born in Mexico City. In 1777 he was recalled to Mexico and served as chaplain of presidios in Nueva Vizcaya. He was at Janos, Sonora, Mexico, in 1800. His exact place of death and date of death, but he died sometime between 1803 and 1805, presumably in Mexico. The Dominguez Pueblo in southwestern Colorado is named for him.

Escalante was born in Spain in 1750 and died in Parral, Mexico, in April 1780, while returning to Mexico City for medical treatment. Escalante namesakes include Escalante Desert, Escalante River, Escalante (town in Utah), Escalante Pueblo (Colorado), Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the Escalante Elementary & High schools (Rio Arriba County, New Mexico).

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Colfax County

The area now known as Colfax County was originally part of Taos County, one of the first nine counties created in 1952, when New Mexico became a territory of the United States. In 1859, Mora County was established out of the eastern section of Taos County and then ten years later in 1869, Colfax County was subdivided from Mora.

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Governor Ezequiel Cabeza de Baca

Governor C. de Baca was the second elected governor of the new state of New Mexico. He was the first Hispano elected governor of any state. According to newspaper account however, a serious illness manifested itself during the campaign in which he was elected. His inauguration took place in a local hospital or sanitarium January 1, 1917 and was attended only by a few people. Accounts said that he had been suffering from pernicious anemia. The governor was then transferred to Los Angeles for more aggressive treatment but it failed to produce favorable results and the newly elected governor died on February 18, 1917.

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The Story of “One Nail” Bob Hale

As told by Inspector Hartman of the Colorado stock growers’ association in the Hastings Daily Gazette-Journal (Hastings, Nebraska), 23 Apr 1884:

“One Nail” Bob referred to a cowboy named Bob Hale, in some accounts called Bob Cole, on the John Chisum ranch near Roswell. The cowboy got the nickname from having one fingernail that was nearly two inches long. Hale was described as a desperate and quarrelsome character. Chisum is said to have warned Hale that he would get himself killed if he did not behave himself, but Hale continued in his ways. Hale is said to have had a penchant for getting drunk. When he was drunk, other cowboys stayed away from him which led him to believe that they were afraid of him. Eventually he stopped taking orders from the ranch foreman.

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Thomas Tate “Tom” Tobin

The San Luis Valley of Colorado and New Mexico was once part of the Territory of New Mexico in an early configuration of Taos County. Now most of it is in Colorado, but some still extends into New Mexico. As you can see from the map below, except for the headwaters of the Rio Grande, the entire river once flowed through the New Mexico Territory.

Thomas Tate “Tom” Tobin was born in 1823 in St. Louis, Missouri to Bartholomew Tobin and Sarah Autobees Tobin. Tom and his older half brother Charles Autobees are believed to have left St. Louis and headed west while Tom was still a teenager. They are both said to have been associated with Ceran St. Vrain, one of the founders of Bent’s Fort. Not a lot is known about Charles, but the half brothers worked out of Bent’s Fort for a while, scouting and trading. Eventually they each settled and got married. Charles married Sycamore, an Arapaho native and Tom married Maria Pascuala Bernal, of the Taos area.

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A German Spy in Carrizozo?

The United States had officially entered World War I in early April, 1917 with a declaration of war. One week later, the mayor of Carrizozo, Lincoln County, called for a company of Minute Men to be organized from local citizens to aid in the event of any need. Newspaper articles carried accounts of the war and other related articles about how citizens could contribute, even by maximizing food production on their farms. As occurred in other times of world war, there was a considerable amount of unease and suspicion concerning those of other nationalities.

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Butch Cassidy in New Mexico

A New Mexico priest, Father Stanley Crocchiola, was also greatly interested in New Mexico history. His booklets are somewhat difficult to find today, but he wrote dozens of works dealing with the history of various locations all over the state. According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal of August 14, 1960, his booklet called “The Alma, N. M. Story,” Father Crocchiola writing under the pen name F. Stanley said that in the early years of Anglo settlement in Alma, a number of characters at least passed through the area. He mentions the step father of Billy the Kid, William H. Antrim, the Wild Bunch, the Black Jack (Ketchum) Gang, the Hole in the Wall Gang and also the outlaw known as Butch Cassidy. Though the county boundaries have changed over the years, the former community of Alma is currently located in Catron County in southwestern New Mexico, not far from the current New Mexico – Arizona border, and in the Gila Wilderness. New Mexico and Arizona had been united until 1863 when they were divided into two territories of the United States. They remained separate territories until both became states in 1912.

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Girly Chew Hossencofft

Murder victim Girly Chew Hossencofft was born in Malaysia in 1963. She came to America in the 1990s for a vacation during which she met an individual named Daizien Hossencofft while visiting a theme park. Chew and Hossencofft were married in 1993 and located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Girly Chew Hossencofft was working for a local bank. According to various news accounts, Girly Chew had separated from Hossencofft on more than one occasion and recently filed for divorce, making allegations of domestic violence against him. Subsequently, she disappeared in September, 1999 after failing to come to work at Bank of America where she had been a teller. Friends and coworkers reported her missing and her disappearance was investigated by the Albuquerque Police Department. She was 36 years old at the time.

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Junior Ray Halladay

United States Naval Reserve Machinist’s Mate 3c Junior Ray Halladay was lost at sea when his ship, the USS Hull (DD-350), went down in a storm on 18 Dec 1944, almost 76 years ago.  Halladay was 20 years old and is considered as having been killed in action or missing in action with his remains being nonrecoverable.  He had enlisted 9 Aug 1943 in El Paso, Texas.  Halladay had been born on 10 Jul 1924 in Reco City, Michigan to Raymond Bert Halladay and the former Laura H. Gabel. In the 1940 Census, Ray B. Halladay was listed as the head of the household and being the operator of a sawmill at White Mountain, Lincoln County, New Mexico and Junior Ray was the middle child of five siblings. A headstone for MM 3c Halladay was placed at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Ruidoso, Lincoln County, New Mexico.

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