Enchanting Stories of New Mexico - Episode 35 - The Other Lincoln County War

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Episode 35 - The Other Lincoln County War

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.

First things first. Did you know that today is World Green and Red Chile Day. World Green and Red Chile Day runs January 1st to December 31st each year. Every Day Yum is the word.

I was talking about the history of New Mexico Governors the other day and someone asked about the two Mechem Governors. Merritt Mechem was the 5th New Mexico Governor and Edwin was the 15th. Were they related? Nope, not at all other than having the same last name and both were Republicans. Edwin was the first Governor of New Mexico who was born in the State of New Mexico. Merritt came to New Mexico at age 32 in 1903 to practice law in Tucumcari which was a bustling area due to the railroad building infrastructure. Merritt was born in Kansas. He was a 7th Judicial District Judge in Socorro, New Mexico and was noted for a fight he had with the editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican. He convicted the editor of criminal contempt for a story about Judge Mechem’s affidavit in a libel case against the newspaper. While the conviction was quickly reversed the libel case was not dismissed as quickly and went to October 1919 before being dismissed.

I have more interest in Edwin for several reasons. First off, he was born in Alamogordo about six months after New Mexico became a state and attended New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts which is now New Mexico State University. I will do a Wednesday Important People to New Mexico podcast on Edwin Mechem soon.

Let’s do some New Mexico history. Everyone, well most everyone interested in New Mexico history has heard about the Lincoln County War in 1878 involving thirty some gunmen and of course Billy the Kid. Nope, I’m going to talk about a different Lincoln County War.

It was a two-state war, both the state of Texas and the Territory of New Mexico. The name most often used is the Horrell War. Here is the story. Coming to Lampasas County Texas in 1848 was a family by the names of Higgins. Born to the family upon arriving was John Calhoun Pinkney “Pink” Higgins. Quite a name and the baby grew up to be one of the leading actors in the bloody feud that followed. In 1857 a family named Horrell settled near the Higgins family. The Horrells had sons Mart, Tom, Merritt, Ben and Sam. As rowdy a bunch of young men as you would ever see in the Old West. In 1873 came their first run-in with the law. You knew there was going to be a run-in, didn’t you?

We will get to their connection to Lincoln, New Mexico in a minute. So, in 1873 Lampasas, Texas was a wild town on the frontier and in the middle were the Horrell brothers who were quick to shoot up the town when they were having fun. Some of the residents hated that so the law was apprised of their lawless actions. As you knew would happen.

With such lawlessness an appeal was made to Texas Governor Ed Davis in February 1873. A proclamation was issued to preclude carrying firearms in Lampasas. Seven Texas State Police members came in March and on March 19th they arrested a Horrell for carrying. Then they made a mistake. They went into Jerry Scott’s Saloon with the Horrell. Inside the Saloon were Horrell brothers and friends who started shooting, leaving four officers dead. More State Police, the Lampasas Sheriff and some Minute Men searched for the Horrell brothers. They were arrested and taken to the Georgetown Texas jail where on May 2nd, some 30 cowboys stormed the jail and released the Horrell brothers. Now we will get to Lincoln, New Mexico.

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.

OK, we are talking about the other Lincoln County War in the 1870s in the Territory of New Mexico. This one didn’t involve Billy the Kid or Pat Garrett. So where we left the Horrell Brothers was that they had just broken out of the Georgetown Texas jail which is just North of Austin, Texas. The Horrell brothers stayed in Texas a couple of months selling cattle, some of which may not have had their brands on them and then they had heard that New Mexico was a good place for lawlessness, specifically Lincoln County. They went to the present-day town of Hondo which is on Hwy 70 in the valley today and there was no highway in 1873.

So what is the chance they would stop their rowdy ways? Zero. They rode into Lincoln, New Mexico ten miles west of Hondo and the trouble began when after drinking in several saloons as was their habit, they started shooting their guns in the air. Lincoln Constable Juan Martinez made them surrender their weapons. But they got more pistols. Five lawmen confronted them again and in the gunfight the Constable was killed. In the fray over several miles Ben Horrell was killed and other Horrell brothers killed several citizens. This quote war escalated to a large shootout in Lincoln where a celebration was stormed, and four men were killed. Warrants were obtained and the remaining brothers decided New Mexico wasn’t fun so they went back to Texas. Almost twenty New Mexicans were killed before they left. Back in Texas the Horrell and Higgins feud started and by 1877 a large gun battle in Lampasas happened. Lots of both sides died and the only remaining Horrell brother, Sam, moved to Oregon and then died in California in 1936. As I have said in other historical podcasts, the gunplay with many deaths was one reason New Mexico didn’t get statehood for decades.

Did you know of the New Mexico town of Dusty. Yes, there is a town called Dusty in Socorro County which is about thirty miles north of Winston New Mexico perhaps fifty miles southeast of Datil. It was a cavalry post at one time, and I would have to venture that with the spring winds in New Mexico, it was how shall I describe it. Oh yes, Dusty. Sounds like quite a few New Mexico towns in the Spring. When the wind kicks up and so does the dust. I was asked one time; Does the wind always blow like this?" A man was holding onto his hat in the fierce wind. Nope, I said, sometimes it comes from the other direction.

Let us do some Rocket history. At this time in 1946 there was the White Sands Proving Grounds which we call White Sands Missile Range today. At this time the first Nike Rocket was fired from Launch Complex 33. The Nike Rocket was designed and built. Not to be confused with Nike Shoes which officially started in 1971 though had a start in 1964.

The United States War Department in 1944 recognized they needed a new air defense for enemy aircraft that were powered by jet engines. Current defenses could not deal with the speed and altitude of the then jet aircraft. Bell Laboratories started Project Nike that competed with General Electric’s Project Thumper. Both produced defense products. For the Nike missile it needed three control radars to have any chance to hit very fast-moving targets.

The subsequent missile was named the Nike Ajax and in November 1951 was able to bring down a B-17 over White Sands range. Don’t worry about the B-17 pilot, it was a drone controlled remotely so when it crashed and burned, the technicians cheered. The Nike was what was called a last-line defense from air attack and were put around cities and military installations. It was first around Fort Meade in Maryland in December 1953 and several hundred were placed in a protective area. It was the first interceptor and over the years as they took them down many ended up as display non-flying missiles often at the entrance of military installations.

Now even as the Nike Ajax was being perfected work was being done on the next iteration of missiles for air defense, the Nike Hercules which improved the speed, range of flight and the accuracy. These were designed to be able to intercept ballistic missiles and protect a much larger area. The Hercules had a flight range of over 100 miles and could fly at over three thousand miles per hour and could attain a total height of about 150 thousand feet. The boost phase of the Hercules had four Nike Ajax boosters fitted together. Also, just as important for reliability, the vacuum tubes previously being used were replaced by more reliable solid state components that could handle the extreme g forces of launch and flight and yet still accurately control the missile.

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.

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.

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.

Speaking of Sun-Dried Hatch Red Chile, it is one of the best tastes of the Fresh Chile Company. If you are making posole, this is what brings out the best taste of New Mexico.

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: michael@freshchileco.com

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.

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