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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Pearl Hart

Pearl Hart was a female bandit who had a short career as an outlaw.  Born in the 1870s in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada as Pearl Taylor, she eloped and married Frank Hart when she was a teenager.  She and Hart had an off and on relationship, but had two children over the years.  The couple were living in Chicago during the Columbian Exposition during 1893 and Pearl is said to have become interested in the western lifestyle from watching the Wild West shows that included Annie Oakley.

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José Chávez y Chávez

José Chávez y Chávez lived from about 1851 to 1923.  Little is firmly known about his early life but he is thought to be born in Cebolleta, earlier known as Seboyeta, in western central New Mexico, to an Hispanic father and Apache or Navajo mother.  He appears as a constable and justice of the peace in San Patricio in the middle 1870s.  He was aligned with Tunstall and McSween and a member of the 40 to 50 gunmen hired by them and called the Regulators in accounts of the Lincoln County War in the late 1870s.  Tunstall and McSween had been two of the local challengers to the financial holdings of the Dolan and Murphy families and their associates in the Lincoln, New Mexico area.  The conflicts turned into a shooting war for many months.  Both McSween and Tunstall were killed in separate incidents, as were a number of other individuals on both sides.  The United States Army had an outpost at Fort Stanton, but were accused of standing by and not keeping the peace when McSween and some others died in the burning of McSween’s home.  Chávez is said to have witnessed the McSween incident, supported this account and is reported to have testified against certain Army officers in at least one of the subsequent trials.

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Robert Ford, Killer of Jesse James

Robert Newton Ford has traditionally been acknowledged as the person who killed Jesse James in James’ residence.  Robert and his brother Charles were not known to be connected to most of the James Gang’s crimes, but were nevertheless known to associated with Jesse and the other gang members.  Charles Ford is believed to have participated in at least one robbery, but Robert Ford is not thought to have participated in any.  In early 1882, the gang was inactive and Robert, Dick Liddil (sometimes spelled Liddel) and Wood Hite who was a cousin of the James brothers were residing at the Missouri home of Robert’s sister, a widow named Martha Bolton.  Jesse and his wife had taken a residence elsewhere, also in Missouri, and were living under an alias. They were all fugitives and at least Frank and Jesse had a reward for information leading to their capture offered by the state of Missouri.

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Governor Lew Wallace

Lewis “Lew” Wallace served as Territorial Governor from 1878 to 1881.  After a long career in the United States Army, he had been appointed as Governor in the fall of 1878 by President Rutherford B. Hayes.  Wallace had previously earned a reputation as being an effective leader in both civil and military situations.  He succeeded Samuel Beach Axtell who had been “suspended” over allegations of improper conduct, though Axtell was never tried for any illegal activities and was soon appointed Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court.  The Lincoln County War was also ongoing in the south of of the territory, so Wallace was stepping into several situations that needed attention.

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Rosario Emilio, a Slippery Desperado

On April 3, 1905, Rosario Emilio, son of Italian-born Rocco Emilio, was accused of shooting to death his eighteen year old sweetheart, Antonia Carrillo de Mirabal as she rode with others on the way to Roswell.  Rosario’s father was the operator of the La Paloma Saloon which some accounts say dated back to the days of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War.  Other accounts date the opening of the saloon around 1890, after the Lincoln County War, but Rocco Emilio was well known in the area.  Rosario the son was indicted some eight days later, arrested for murder.  He was then tried, convicted of murder in the first degree on May 3, 1905 (one month after the alleged crime) and sentenced to hang in Lincoln on March 22, 1907.  During the trial, Emilio had claimed innocence.  Although he had testified that he was there, he stated that the deceased had committed suicide, a claim that was disputed by other witnesses.

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The Apache Kid

The Apache Kid Wilderness comprises the heart of the Cibola National Forest in south central New Mexico.  It was named for a legendary Apache named Hskay-bay-nay-natyl.  He is thought to have been born around 1860 in Arizona on the San Carlos Reservation.  Other biographical information indicates that he was captured by Yuma Indians as a young boy, and after being rescued by the U.S. Army, he became a street orphan in army camps.  Some reports had him attending the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, but these are not believed to be accurate though some Apache children were sent to the school.  As a young adult, the Apache Kid served as a scout for the United States Army in the early 1880s under General George Crook and achieved the rank of sergeant.  He was again serving in the mid 1880s in the campaign to capture Geronimo.  He had a reputation of being an excellent scout and tracker.

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Clay Allison

It is hard to describe Clay Allison with just one word, since he was evidently a capable cattleman as well as an gunman.  He could be charming, but could then strike out with violence that was unmatched.  Robert Andrew “Clay” Allison was born September 2, 1840 to a Presbyterian minister named John Allison and his wife Nancy Lemmond Allison.  However, John Allison died when Clay was only five.  Clay remained on the family farm until the outset of the Civil War, while also becoming known for his unpredictable behavior.  In October of 1861, when he was about twenty years old, Allison joined the Tennessee Light Artillery.  A few months later, he was discharged for medical reasons, specifically having to do with his emotional, including maniacal, behavior.

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John Chisum

John Simpson Chisum was born on August 16, 1824 in Hardeman County, Tennessee to Claiborne C. and Lucinda Armstrong Chisum.  John moved to Texas when he was still a youth of 13.  He resided in what is Lamar County in the general vicinity of what is now Paris, Texas.  It is believed that he was living in North Texas near the Cook and Denton County border at least until about the age of 30.  He is thought to have been in the cattle business there, supplying beef to the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  After the end of the war, he moved his operation first to a location on the Concho River.  Some time later, Chisum moved to the New Mexico Territory, near the present town of Roswell, and began a ranching operation utilizing the valuable water of the Pecos River.  It was said that at one time, Chisum’s ranch was one hundred fifty miles wide, but control of the Pecos River Valley was likely its greatest asset.

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Lincoln County War

The Lincoln County War was an armed conflict between two groups of people who were fighting over control of land and business.  The fighting and killing generally took place in and around Lincoln County, as it was configured in 1878.  The County was much larger back then.  Its area approximately included the entire southeastern section of what is now the state of New Mexico.  It is important to remember this, since some of the individuals involved would no longer reside in Lincoln County as it is configured today.

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