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Episode 33 - From Trigonometry to Territorial Turmoil
Michael Swickard here. Welcome to Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Our award-winning Hatch Green and Red Chile is brought to you from locally owned farms in Hatch, NM, The Chile Capital of the World.
Often when something smells good in a kitchen the cook is asked, “What’s cooking?” One thing I know for sure is that having a good recipe is wonderful and the Fresh Chile Company has a Chile cookbook in two forms: paper or as an eBook. It is called Fresh Chile Cookin Cookbook with Hatch Chile Recipes. We have a private group called Fresh Chile Cooking on Facebook and we post pictures and description of what our customers are doing with our products. We have over 20,000 members in that private group who love Hatch Chile and share their creations. You too can join. And on the freshchileco.com website you can purchase our Chile products and the cookbook. Just wanted to share that with you.
One of my favorite western writers was Eugene Cunningham. He wrote several action novels with names like Whistling lead, and Outlaw justice and Quick triggers. But I remember him for a non-fiction book, Triggernometry. Not the mathematical area of study of relationships between angles and ratios of lengths. I must tell this story before I get back to Billy the Kid and the Eugene Cunningham book called Triggernometry with a focus on Old West Triggers.
My uncle Eugene McKim was at the White Sands Missile Range from 1950 to 1992 in the radar research areas. He was a radar technician in the Navy in World War Two and graduated from New Mexico State University in Electrical Engineering. He told me one time that when the range first opened a group of mathematicians were hired to create a book of angles and cosines for artillery and missile launches. A group, sat for three years working out every possible angle and landing. Three years. When he told me this in about 1990, he said his desktop computer with a simple program could work all the data out in a couple hours and the whole project could have been done in a day. They did it with slide rules which is interesting.
OK, on to Billy the Kid, real name Henry McCarty, was in the Hargrove Saloon in Fort Sumner in 1880. He was told that a heavy drinking gunman by the name of Joe Grant intended to kill him. As an example of Triggernometry Billy walks up and asks to see Joe Grant’s fancy Ivory Handled six shooter. While looking at the pistol he made sure it would not fire without Joe Grant noticing. You see he moved the cylinder forward five times. Back then you only loaded five bullets and left the pistol hammer sitting on an empty chamber or an already fired cartridge so if it was bumped it would not accidentally go off. But now it was sitting on a live bullet, but the next chamber would not fire. Billy handed the pistol back and Joe Grant decided to force a gunfight. Much to his surprise his own pistol went click while Billy shot him down. Joe drew first so it was clearly self-defense in the eyes of the law, but it was, as author Eugene Cunningham describes, Triggernometry at work.
Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these podcasts. Also, if you have friends who like Hatch Valley Chile stories and Old West history you can share these podcasts with them by copying the link and emailing it to them.
At this time in 1869, yes, a long time ago, President Ulysses Grant was intending to appoint William Anderson Pile as Ambassador to Venezuela and Brazil, but there was trouble in the New Mexico Territory, so the appointment was withdrawn by President Grant and Pile a former general in the Union Army under General Grant during the Civil War was appointed Territorial Governor of New Mexico.
A former Methodist Minister, U. S. Congressman and Civil War General, his first year in Santa Fe was quiet. There was the usual problems with the Census in New Mexico which had to be done on horseback for the most part but otherwise quiet. Then it happened.
It seems one day in the spring of 1870 Territorial Governor William Pile decided to do some Spring Cleaning. He ordered his cluttered Governor’s Office to be cleaned out of old papers that were just sitting around. He didn’t take time to figure out what the old papers were. Turns out many of them were from the territorial archives. They were documents dating back to the time of the Spanish rulers. Whoops. Most of the papers that were cleaned out were given away as wrapping paper which in those days was a good thing to have. Santa Fe residents picked up stacks of the discarded papers from the Governor to use in wrapping presents.
When the error was noted, many people in Santa Fe and around New Mexico were angry at their heritage being thrown away. At first Governor Pile said that no papers were lost from the archives. A good thing to say, however, not true. Then the librarian in charge of the archives ran an advertisement in the Santa Fre newspaper asking anyone with any of the old papers that they had gotten from the governor’s office to bring them back, please. If it hadn’t been for this incident Pile would probably have been governor for many years since he otherwise did the job well. Instead, he was forced several months later to resign because of the incident. Historians claim many valuable papers were lost because of the carelessness of Governor Pile who upon returning to Washington was made Ambassador to Venezuela.
Let us do some more history. At this time in 1914 the college in El Paso opened its doors as El Paso State School of Mines and Metallurgy. Today it is the University of Texas at El Paso. When the news of the new college just forty miles south of Las Cruces was announced the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts decided to add an Engineering Department to the College as competition with the folks in El Paso. Ralph Willis Goddard was hired to assist Dean Barnes in getting the focus on Engineering started. When you see KRWG as in FM or TV, the RWG honors the legacy of Ralph Willis Goddard who might be a cousin of Robert Goddard of the rocket fame. Came from the same town.
Let us talk about Hatch. Which one? The name Hatch is tied to New Mexico. I am going to connect two places where Hatch means something. There is the Chile Capital of the World, Hatch, New Mexico, named for Edward Hatch who was a general in the Civil War commanding a cavalry division in the Army of the Tennessee under General Ulysses Grant. After the war he was in the regular Army as a Colonel commanding the 9th U. S. Cavalry Regiment and then was commander of the District of New Mexico which was the New Mexico Territory. Now the quaint village of Hatch, Chile Capital of the World was originally settled as Santa Barbara in 1851 but was abandoned on and off for a number of years. In 1875 under the protection of Colonel Hatch, it was reestablished permanently and called Hatch.
Then there was the Hatch Act of 1887 which created the system of Agricultural Experiment Station in Land-Grant Colleges that had been founded under the Morrill Act of 1862. No, it is not the same Hatch, the Colonel, the sponsor of the legislation to which it was named was William Hatch who was the Chair of the House Committee of Agriculture. Hatch, Missouri is named for him and its claim to fame is the Hatch Act that started the Agricultural Experiment Stations in Land-Grant Colleges. The other Hatch, Colonel Hatch was not related to the Congressman and in fact they fought on opposite sides during the Civil War, Edward was under General Grant and William was a Confederate Soldier.
So Michael, how do these two men named Hatch come together? I’m glad you asked. What has made Hatch New Mexico the Chile Capital of the world is the experiment station at what is now New Mexico State University, and the driving force of the Experiment Station was Fabian Garcia, the father of the Chile industry in Southern New Mexico along with the Onion Industry, The Pecan Industry and several other crops. There is Garcia Hall, the student residence building and Garcia Hall an administration building and importantly, The Fabian Garcia Science Center which is part of the New Mexico State University Agricultural Experiment Station. Located just west of Main Street, on University Avenue, the Complex houses the Landscape Demonstration Garden and facilities for cotton, onion, pecan and Chile research. It is the reason that these crops are commercially viable, the research from the Ag Experiment Station. Fabian Garcia was employed by the Agricultural Experiment Station starting in 1906 and was named director in 1913. He was station director until his retirement in 1945. And all this ties together with the Cooperative Extension Services from the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 where the research done from the Hatch Act is provided to the people of New Mexico in any role they play, ranchers, farmers, citizens with gardens. Each of the 33 New Mexico counties has an Extension Office and people to help. Me, on a ranch just south of Carrizozo had a problem with Skunks and the Extension Agent schooled me on how to deal with that problem. It was wonderful to find some information on making skunks decide that my house should not be a home. The Extension Agent was also there when my garden at the ranch had just a little problem. The Hatch Act is something I really appreciate.
Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these podcasts.
There is a Local Honey with Hatch Red Chile that is great. Hatch Hot Honey - Sweet & Spicy We make this product by infusing real Sun-Dried Hatch Red Chile into 100% local (Mesilla Valley) honey from Clayshulte farms. It's the same wonderful honey you have bought from us in the past. Only now we have infused this honey with our wonderful Hatch Red Chile. This Hot Honey is thick and rich with just enough heat to make everything you put it on better! Me, I like it best on sourdough homemade biscuits.
One thing that happens when people live in Las Cruces or is in our slice of paradise. They can come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop. There is a big sign over the entrance saying The Fresh Chile Company.
This is Michael Swickard with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico brought to you by The Fresh Chile Company. Thank you for your time today. We will have lots of News and stories about New Mexico for you on these Podcasts, If you have something or someone you want me to talk about, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great rest of your day. Oh yes and eat plenty of that good Hatch Valley Chile. Like I always say, “Some Chile is good, more is better as long as it is Hatch Valley Chile.” Bye for now.