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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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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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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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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New Mexico Casualties from the USS Arizona, 12/7/1941

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On a Sunday morning just after 7:00 AM local time on December 7, 1941, two radar installations had picked up large groups of aircraft heading toward Hawaii from the north. A flight of B-17 was due in from the United States and no alarm was sounded. When the first aircraft appeared, it bore the “red sun” insignia of the Japanese navy. The devastating attack on Pearl Harbor followed. The core of the Pacific Fleet, namely five battleships, three destroyers and seven more ships were either sunk or badly damaged, two hundred airplanes were destroyed, about 2,400 Americans were killed and around 1,200 more were wounded. Although the attack on Pearl Harbor is well remembered, Japanese attacks were also carried out elsewhere in the Pacific, including the large installations in the Philippines.

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Juan Patrón

The Las Vegas Gazette carried this article on April 11, 1884:

“Juan B. Patron Murdered.
Information reached the city yesterday that Juan B. Patron, one of the best known Mexican citizens of the territory, had been murdered in cold blood at Puerto de Luna. The information comes by private letter dispatched ot relatives, and is as follows:

Day before yesterday Juan Patron went to a neighboring house to call his brother-in-law, Cresenciano, and requested him to come home. There were other parties in the room, and among them was named Mitchell Mancy.

Cresenciano prepared to leave, and was embraced by Mancy who threw his arms about his neck. Without warning he pulled his revolver, and while yet leaning upon Cresenciano, raised the pistol above his head and fired at Patron, killing him instantly.

He continued firing and wounded another man. The assassin quickly disappeared and left the town. An alarm was promptly given and officers and men entered upon the pursuit. The trail was followed into the canon of Juan de Dias, where Mitchell was taken prisoner.

Those having him in charge started to this city intending to place him in the county jail. Up to the hour of going to press they had not arrived, and the rumor was circulated that the murderer has been lynched.

No cause for the crime is given by the informants. Few men in the territory were better known than the deceased. He was a man of extraordinary ability, was a shrewd business man, and had filled various positions of public trust. He was in his youth a protege of Archbishop Lamy, under whose careful auspices he was educated, both at home and in the east. At the breakout of the Lincoln countywar he took an active part and was made captain of a company.

During the troubles his father was killed and Juan Patron was shot through the body. His recovery was considered remarkable. Later he was elected to the legislature and was chosen speaker of the house of representatives. At Puerto de Luna he had been engaged in general merchandising and was a sub contractor on mail routes. He married a daughter of Lorenzo Labadie, ex-sheriff of San Miguel county. Last week he returned from Santa Fe, where he had been with his father-in-law, stopping in Las Vegas on his way home, where he had a very large circle of friends among both Mexicans and Americans.

The murderer is unknown to any whom the reporter was able to find in this city, and it is safe to suppose from the authority which is given with our information that he had no cause to take the life of one of New Mexico’s best citizens.”

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End of Watch, Officer Philip H. Chacón

The murder of Albuquerque Officer Philip H. Chacón remains unresolved, now just over forty years since the incident. On the night of September 10, 1980, Officer Philip Chacón was volunteering at a shelter for domestic violence when he received word that there was a robbery in progress at a Kinney Shoe Store across the street. He was in plain clothes and reportedly was unarmed. Officer Chacón got on his personal motorcycle and followed the vehicle driven by suspects in the East Central Avenue area. Shortly thereafter, the officer was shot and killed by a person or persons unknown near a donut shop at Central and Wyoming.

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Fort Bascom and the “Bascom Affair”

The remains of old Fort Bascom is located roughly about ten miles north northeast of Tucumcari.  It was situated near a horseshoe bend of the Canadian River and is located near the eastern border of San Miguel County, just north of Quay County.  The fort was established early in the Civil War and was abandoned in 1870.

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End of Watch: Officers Roy Lee Stanley and Andy Begay

The incident in which these officers were killed occurred on the Navajo Reservation near Goulding, Utah roughly about 30-40 miles due west of the Four Corners point.  The Navajo Nation meets at the corners of these four states: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado and includes land in the first three states.  It is the largest reservation in the United States, amounting to just under 28,000 square miles.

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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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