December 14, 2010

Ninette Miller: Hillsboro Artist

Artist Ninette Stocker Miller smokes a cigarette as she looks on at a Bengal tiger that she painted in her Hillsboro home. Ninette studied drawing at the New England Conservatory in Boston in 1887, before she moved to Hillsboro.

You can still see the creation at the General Store Cafe on main street. It's on the west wall, near the back of the cafe. This image was taken by her husband, George T. Miller before he died in 1909. She owned the store until her death in 1949.

Ninette Stocker Miller, artist, druggist, Hillsboro postmistress. Photo Black Range Museum
Here's a younger Ninette, taking aim, taken near her home in Minnesota. Like nearly all early Hillsboro residents, mining brought George T. and Ninette Stocker-Miller out west. George was employed by his father-in-law, Henry Davis Stocker, VP of Standard Gold Mining Company, based in Minneapolis.

Ninette Stocker lays a side-by-side over a tree stump, probably taken in Minnesota. Photo courtesy Pam Thompson

November 23, 2010

Baseball in Hillsboro

Hillsboro fielded teams over the years, going by the Sierra Browns and later, the Hillsboro Grays. Teams visited from Albuquerque, Roswell, and Silver City.  Even the New Mexico State University Aggies (then called State College) visited in March 1908.The school paper, The Round Up, in some fine sports reporting by a student, chronicled the train ride to Lake Valley, and the stage coach ride the last 15 miles to Hillsboro. The Sierra Browns traveled to Las Cruces, or should we say, College Station, to play a second game in April. The Aggies won both games. The Round Up archives are searchable, here, offering a wonderful look at college life in years past.

The Sierra Browns, as they may have looked when the NMSU Aggies visited in 1908, by stage coach. Black Range Museum

There's no color barrier on this 1931 Hillsboro Grays team. These guys were champs, so says the back of the photo, taken at Hurley, NM. Black Range Museum

Who's who, on the 1931 Hillsboro Grays championship team. Black Range Museum

This is what's left of the Hillsboro home field in 2010. The backstop's steel poles rust on the mesa south of Hillsboro, with the Black Range rising in the west. Craig Springer photo.

November 7, 2010

Court House Post Card

Today you'd email the news, text it, or make a phone call.  In March of 1909, George T. Miller wrote this card to Hillsboro politico, Mr. Disinger, then in San Diego, informing him that the Sierra County seat was moving to Cutter, on the Santa Fe Railroad.  But George Miller had it wrong! Territorial governor (and future Kingston resident) George Curry wouldn't go for it. In Curry's autobiography, he cites that the elected representative, Julian Chaves, had marshaled the bill through the territorial legislature without support of the people, citing a strong desire by a select few to sell town lots at Cutter as the motivation for the bill. Cutter was also associated with a mining fraud, and perhaps at most was populated by 25 people. Hillsboro still had about 1,000 residents. Despite George Miller's assertion, it did not become law. This card has more to say, beneath its black ink. The photo was taken by George T. Miller, and the postcard probably sold in his drug store. He would die just a few months after writing this card, leaving wife Ninette Miller to run the drugstore and take over as postmistress. Representative Chaves would move from his house next door to the Union Church (Miller lived on the other side of the church), to Albuquerque and pass away in five years. Courtesy Black Range Museum.

October 29, 2010

Election Day -- 100 Years Ago

These election delegates posed for this photograph in Hillsboro in 1910.  Missing are the smiles. The men look stern, serious. Elections were and are serious, and the citizens around Hillsboro participated in their share of elections, and produced politicos that shaped the state, like Nicholas Galles and Edward Tittmann. Note the 46-star flag. The New Mexico and Arizona territories were about to enter the Union.  Though not a home-grown Sierra County resident, William "Bull" Andrews, who lived at Andrews, New Mexico, a few miles northeast of Hillsboro, was New Mexico's territorial delegate to Congress in 1910. Andrews was "bullish" in pushing statehood with his Pennsylvanian connections to Senator Matt Quay, for whom Quay County is named.

October 19, 2010

Happy Hillsboro Halloween

People paid money to see this movie, filmed in Hillsboro in 1970. You can almost taste buttery popcorn and hear the tinny sound coming from the speaker hanging in the car window at the drive-in. Remember those?

We'll leave the movie reviews to others. But know this: the film has some historic value. You'll get glimpses of what Hillsboro looked like 40 years ago. Today's General Store and Country Cafe was the sheriff's office in the flick. You get long looks of the old high school, Union Church, Miller house, and Nunn house, and the courthouse ruin.

And there's a mad man with axe from front of today's Percha Creek Traders' when the place was a hotel. Incidentally someone really was murdered on the street some years ago in front of the place. Bullets and beer didn't mix.

Maybe you'll recognize the home where this scene was filmed. Note the double doors and transom.

Students at New Mexico State University spoofed bits of the movie in 2008. There's a few town and landscape shots that you might recognize.

And if you are so inclined, for $2.99 you can watch the entire movie online. Incidentally, the Hillsboro area would come to host a few other films and TV commercials in the years that followed, and they too will someday have historic value.

July 28, 2010

Camp Boyd ca 1885

Here's another look at Camp Boyd (aka Camp Hillsboro) taken between 1885 and 1886. The military were stationed at Hillsboro to protect the town from depredation by Apaches. Photo courtest Matti Nunn

June 25, 2010

The 8th Cavalry or ROTC?

"The most stately building in the Territory," as the old Sierra County Courthouse was once called, stands on the hill behind this military encampment. That dates this photo as post-1892, when courthouse was built. Is this an ROTC camp from New Mexico A&M (present-day NMSU) 70 miles to the south, or is this U.S. Cavalry? The Apache Indian threat was much reduced by the 1890s.  George Albion Miller, who was born in the home behind the tree near the courthouse in 1905, was an engineering student at A&M,was in ROTC, and did own a camera, we know. Photo courtesy Matti and Patti Nunn

June 22, 2010

Camp Boyd aka Camp Hillsboro 1885

U.S. Cavalry were encamped at Hillsboro for about a year, from 1885 to 1886. This image shows men in formation, near the present site of the Cunningham ranch in Percha Creek. Photo courtesy Matti Nunn.

Correspondence conducted at Camp Boyd are housed at the National Archives and Records Center.

June 4, 2010

Nana the Apache

Nana, pronounced Naw-Nay, a Warm Spring Apache leader took the U.S. Cavalry on a circuitous route that went through Hillsboro in 1881.  Nana, an arthritic 75-year-old and his band of about 40 men alluded hundreds of soldiers, killing an estimated for 40 to 80 people.

Nana blasted through Gold Dust, a tent camp northeast of Hillsboro, then skirted Hillsboro. He was pursued by citizens and soldiers, led by Lt. George Smith from Ft. Cummings and mining engineer, George Daly near the site of Lake Valley.  Both were killed by the Apaches in Gavilan Canyon, Smith's body grossly mutilated.  Lake Valley was originally called Daly, later called Sierra City before the name it's known by today.  Nana's band continued on, making their way into Mexico.

"Nana's Raid" a book by anthropologist Stephen Lekson is a well-documented read about the historic event.

Photo National Archives and Records Administration.

May 28, 2010

Jailhouse door

Valentina Madrid and Alma Lyons no doubt heard the thud of hammers on planks, as men built the gallows outside this jail cell. The two gals were sentenced to hang by Judge Frank W. Parker for the premeditated murder of Valentina's husband, Manuel Madrid. Manuel's demise, and the eventual outcome of the sentencing are well documented in Robert Torrez' book Myth of the Hanging Tree: Stories of Crime and Punishment in Territorial New Mexico.

The Hillsboro Historical Society seeks to purchase and preserve this building and the attending courthouse ruin. Photo courtesy Craig Springer

Sierra County Jail

The Sierra County jail house, as it appeared in 1966. The jail was home to a few bad guys and gals like, Oliver Lee, Jim Gilliland, "Kit" Joy, Valentina Madrid, and Alma Lyons. Photo courtesy Patti Nunn.

Historic Sierra County Courthouse in 2010

The courthouse east entrance, from the inside looking north. With the safe still in the courthouse ruin, it gives the sense of a hasty departure. Photo courtesy Craig Springer

Historic Sierra County Courthouse in 1976

The Sierra County Courthouse was sold, and fell into ruin. This is how it looked in 1976, taken by Ohio State University in a Historic American Buildings Survey.

The Hillsboro Historical Society seeks to purchase and stabilize the historic ruin, and its attending jail house. Photo American Memory Project, Library of Congress.

Albert Fall outside Sierra County Courthouse

Defense attorney, Albert Bacon Fall, looks smugly to the right. Oliver Lee stands immediately behind him, and Jim Gilliland with hand on lapel, looks to the camera.

This image was taken at the east door of the Sierra County Courthouse in 1899. Lee and Gilliland were tried and acquitted for the murder of 8-year-old Henry Fountain of Mesilla, NM. His father, Judge Albert Jennings Fountain, was also murdered. Judge Fountain was Fall's chief political rival. The bodies of the boy and dad were never located.

Fall went on to serve as a U.S. Senator, and Secretary of the Interior under President Harding. Fall became embroiled in the Teapot Dome scandal with another former Sierra County resident, Ed Doheny. Fall was convicted of accepting bribes and went to prison. He died poor in 1944 in El Paso.

Lee and Gilliland were never tried for another crime, the killing a deputy of sheriff Pat Garrett's while trying to avoid arrest for the Fountain murders. The two men ranched in the Tularosa basin, Lee serving in the state legislature. Oliver Lee State Park encompasses part of his old ranch. Photo courtesy Patti Nunn.

May 24, 2010

Courthouse de-construction

A worker on the roof is tearing down the Sierra County Courthouse, after voters chose to move the county seat to Hot Springs (now Truth or Consequences) New Mexico. But it didn't happen without resistance.

Gov. George Curry thwarted a previous attempt to move the seat from Hillsboro to Cutter, so that a few folks could sell land, as he put it, in his autobiography.

Photo UNM Center for Southwest Research, William Kelehler Collection

May 23, 2010

Historic Sierra County Courthouse

This stately building was the site of the infamous Henry Fountain murder trial, 1899, involving prominent citizens of New Mexico, some of whom would later rise to national prominence.

The Hillsboro Historical Society seeks to buy the courthouse ruin to stabilize the effects of gravity, and potentially restore what's left.