Sunday, September 02, 2007

NM Methodist Heritage - 2

Saturday morning we headed 25 miles east to Cimarron, a town celebrating its 150th anniversary this very day. Here's Susie, at a site overlooking Eagle Nest Lake along the way. This was a favorite vacation locale when she was a youth in northern NM. We really love the plains and mountains of northeast NM.

At the Cimarron UMC , Rev. Matt Gary presented a vivid and riveting history of the Methodist church in this area, centering on the Rev. Franklin Tolby, who became pastor for the Cimarron and E-town churches in 1874 and who was murdered in 1875. This presentation was attended by many in the Cimarron community as well as by us Heritage caravaners. Tolby's murder was never solved, but suspicion focused on supporters of the owners of the Maxwell Land Grant. Tolby sided with the settlers and Indians who lived on the Land Grant -- people whom the owners wanted to evict. The violence escalated and came to be known as the Colfax County War.

After a church-provided lunch -- more good Methodist food -- we held a re-enactment of the Tolby memorial service. Rev. Larry Costillo-Wilson, from Albq, who has done a lot of Harwood research, played the role of Harwood and gave a eulogy. We then processed, following a riderless horse led by a local cowboy, to the cemetery where a new stone has been placed on Tolby's grave. Masonic gravesite rites were performed. That was impressive. Gave us all a chance to re-live history.

The final heritage installment was a visit to the Aztec Mill, now a museum that captures a lot of area and era-history. Of Methodist interest is the tale of Rev. Harwood performing a secret wedding of the land baron's daughter, Virginia Maxwell, to an Army officer stationed in Cimarron. It was after word of his role in this marriage, strongly opposed by the bride's parents, got out that Harwood was threatened. Thomas Harwood, shown below, visited us on the top floor of the mill where the ceremony took place and told us that tale.

That completed the day. Had a nice drive home, great scenery, ample clouds, some rain.


Rob and Susie

NM Methodist Heritage-1

We took a "Caravan Heritage Tour" in northern NM on Friday and Saturday. A brief report. (We didn't take careful notes, so some of the history herein is a bit approximate.)

A total of twelve of us from various Methodist churches showed up for the start of the caravan in Espanola, at the McCurdy School and the adjacent Santa Cruz United Methodist Church. Here is where the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which merged with the Methodists in 1968, started a mission school in 1912. First HS graduating class was in 1926 - six students, all of whom went to college. The 2006 class had 26 students, all of whom are currently in college. We were told many teachers in the Espanola and vicinity schools are McCurdy grads, so continue to have a positive effect on youth in the Espanola Valley.

Some campus pictures:

the first campus building

first chapel, now the art building

Next stop was Alcalde UMC, the second EUB school and church started in the area.

A few more miles up the Rio Grande valley our next stop was the Velarde UMC. A church and school were built here by the Baptist Church in 1903. The history is not clear, but there may have been a killing that led to the site being sold to the EUB Church as a church and school. It provided a second McCurdy campus -- when they separated boys and girls. We had a great lunch here of posole, beans, and red chile.

Next was about a 1.5 hr. drive to the Vietnam Memorial near Angel Fire. This is a very moving and somber memorial, started as a memorial to one young man from NM who died in Vietnam, now more of a national shrine. It just recently became a NM state park and the ranger in charge obviously feels very deeply about his and the state's responsibility. Said some Vietnam vets on motorcycles made it clear that "You'd better not mess it up, or ... ."

Last stop of the day was the ghost town of Elizabethtown. The group got separated so those of us without our leaders -- who went miles beyond E-town before realizing they'd missed it -- didn't get quite the intended experience. This was a gold rush town right after the Civil War. All that remains is the walls of a hotel (picture below is from website). It's important in Methodist heritage because the first Methodist church in NM was built here in 1870, by Rev. Thomas Harwood, who led the Methodist effort, primarily among the Spanish-speaking population for about 40 years.

Because of some hard feelings soon after, the source of which are described later, Harwood was warned not to come to E-town. He resolved to, anyhow (saying, in his history of this era, approximately, "I fought with Sherman. ... Why should I cower before this bunch of lowlifes?"). A soldier friend gave him a revolver to carry and he made his next and subsequent visits safely.

Most of us spent the night in nearby Eagle Nest, and all had a nice dinner together at Texas Red's.

Saturday -- part 2


Rob and Susie