March 28, 2012

First Sierra County Assessor makes New York Times

If you own property in Sierra County, you recently received your Notice of Value stating what the county assessor reasons that your property is worth. From that, the county determines what you own in property tax.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.  One of the men responsible for shaping a civilized society from the wilderness at the head of Percha Creek in the early 1880s was James Porter Parker, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War.

The portly Parker, who lies at rest in the Kingston cemetery was covered in a finely wrought New York Times column recently.  The Ronald Coddington story is part of the Disunion series covering the 150th anniversary of the war between the states. For our readers this is a story twice told -- Matti Nunn Harrison told it here a year ago. Parker, a civil engineer, surveyed the Kingston townsite in the autumn of 1882, and was elected as the first Sierra County Assessor in the spring of 1884.

It's great to see the NY Times write about Kingston and Hillsboro and use a historic photo, probably taken by George T. Miller. The original photo exists in the George T. Miller collection in the Black Range Museum. The photo of Parker is crisp and clear, as you would expect from a professional photographer.  The buffalo gourd flower in Parker's vest pocket looks freshly picked. Miller apparently took several photos of Parker that same day.

You can read the New York Times story, by clicking here.

You can see other Parker images and read what Matti Nunn Harrison published last year by clicking here.

Matti Nunn Harrison and twin sister Patti Nunn co-authored a local history that features Parker and others notable men and women in the book Around Hillsboro.  Book royalties go to the Hillsboro Historical Society.  --Craig Springer

NOTE: Comments are open to all, below.

James Porter Parker lies in an unmarked grave, perhaps this one, in the Kingston cemetery. Few prettier places can be found for earthly remains to spend eternity. Photo Patti Nunn.

March 11, 2012

A Poisoning at Hillsboro

By Robert J. Tórrez
Rough on Rats killed Manuel Madrid
One of the most fascinating and tragic incidents of crime and punishment in New Mexico's history unfolded the morning of March 30, 1907 as news of the death of Manuel Madrid spread through the community of Hillsboro. The surprising news of Madrid’s untimely death must have quickly turned to shock when Dr. Frank Given, a Hillsboro physician called to Madrid’s bedside by his brother the morning he died, reported to Sierra County District Attorney H. A. Wolford that the dying man had exhibited obvious signs of arsenic poisoning. A coroner’s jury convened by Wolford quickly implicated Valentina Madrid, the sixteen year old widow, and Alma Lyons, her seventeen year old childhood friend. Both girls quickly confessed they had poisoned Madrid, but also implicated Francisco Baca as the mastermind behind the crime.

Albuquerque Citizen. LOC.
News of the arrests caused a sensation throughout New Mexico. The alleged love affair between Mrs. Madrid and Baca, the girl's age, and the heinous nature of the crime, sparked a storm of public comment and controversy. The trio was brought before District Court Judge Frank Parker at the May 1907 term of Sierra County District Court on charges of first degree murder. Elfego Baca, the famous former lawman from Socorro was appointed special prosecutor to handle the case for the territory. The three entered pleas of not guilty but Judge Parker separated Francisco Baca's case from that of the girls and ordered his trial held over to the next term of court. Baca was transferred to the territorial penitentiary in Santa Fe for “safekeeping.”

Tragically, the files of the girls’ and Baca’s trials have disappeared from the district court records held at the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe, so developments and testimony from the trails has to be pieced together from newspaper reports and correspondence of the time. These documents and stories in Hillsboro’s own Sierra County Advocate show that Manuel Madrid and Valentina had not been married long when Francisco Baca fell "desperately in love" with Valentina.  Both girls testified Baca wanted to get rid of Madrid so he could marry Valentina and laid out a plan to poison Madrid. The girls initially resisted the idea, but Baca allegedly threatened them if they did not cooperate. Caught in a quandary, Valentina and Alma decided they had no alternative but to proceed with the plan, and with fifty cents Baca gave them, Alma purchased an arsenic poison called “Rough on Rats” which Valentina mixed into her husband's coffee every morning. Within a week, Madrid was dead.

Both girls insisted that Baca had urged them on and promised he would stand by them even at the risk of his own neck. Baca's resolve, however, did not last long. Throughout the girl's trial, he maintained his silence, and when his own trial was held in May 1908, he vehemently denied the girls' testimony. Baca's 1908 trial ended in a hung jury, and when he was finally re-tried in 1910, he was acquitted. A newspaper reported that although the jury felt he was an accomplice, they did not feel there was enough evidence for a conviction of first degree murder. 

Meanwhile, the girl's own trial concluded the evening of May 9, 1907. It took the jury less than an hour to return a verdict of guilty in the first degree. The following morning, both girls stood before Judge Parker to hear him impose the only sentence allowed by law - Valentina and Alma were to hang together on June 7, 1907. 

Teenage convicted murderers Alma Lyons (l) and Valentina Madrid were hours away from hanging from a rope outside the Sierra County Courthouse in Hillsboro in 1907. Dept of Corrections, Penitentiary of New Mexico, New Mexico State Records Center and Archives.

Albuquerque Citizen, June 4, 1907. LOC.
The sentences drew an outpouring of sympathy for the girls, as dozens of letters and petitions poured into Acting Governor James W. Raynolds' office at Santa Fe. Many were sympathetic and urged Raynolds to exercise his privilege of executive clemency and commute their death sentences to life imprisonment. Others insisted that justice demanded the sentence of the court should be carried out. Finally, reasoning that their execution would eliminate the territory's principal witnesses against Baca, Raynolds issued the commutation on June 4, three days before the scheduled executions. On June 7, 1907, the day they had been scheduled to hang, Valentina and Alma were transferred to the penitentiary in Santa Fe to begin serving their life terms. When Baca ended up being acquitted, the girls alone had to suffer any penalty for the murder of Manuel Madrid. 

Controversy, however, continued to swirl around the girls. In prison, Alma was assigned to do domestic work in Warden John B. McManus' quarters. While there, she developed an intimate relationship with a prison trustee, and soon found herself pregnant. When the situation became public, it took some quick action by prison officials to avoid a major scandal for the administration of Governor William McDonald. Slowly, however, public indignation died down, and early in 1914 Alma was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital, where she delivered an apparently healthy boy who was adopted by a local family. Both girls were pardoned by Governor Octaviano Larrazolo in 1920 on the condition they not leave New Mexico, stay out of Sierra County and find “honorable employment.” The exact date Valentina and Alma exited the state penitentiary is unclear but they presumably walked out of the prison gates into a life of freedom quite different from the naïve young girls that entered those same gates thirteen years earlier.

You can read other news of the day on the Manuel Madrid murder and the tribulations of these two young women on this Library of Congress web site, Chronicling America. 
Robert J. Tórrez is the former State Historian of New Mexico. He is the author of The Myth of the Hanging Tree: Stories of Crime and Punishment in Territorial New Mexico.

Sadie Orchard Poisoned?

As the murder of Manuel Madrid by rat poising had quieted in late 1907, another fixture in Hillsboro, former prostitute and hotel owner Sadie Orchard, claimed that she had been poisoned. Mrs. H. Kubale was arrested, but later released we presume for lack of evidence of a crime. --Craig Springer

Albuquerque Citizen, November 22, 1907. LOC

An Unmarked Grave in Hillsboro, New Mexico: A lesser know Kimball Story

By Mark B. Thompson III

Richard Kimball is one of those early “immigrants” beloved by genealogists—not such an early arrival so as to make the “elite” but early enough to be interesting; not famous but with enough history and descendants to make it worth the effort to chronicle the Kimball family. For example, the 1287 page “History of the Kimball Family In America” was first published in Boston in 1897. With the recent genealogy boom and the growth of the internet, you will find one online genealogy tracing the family back to a Thomas Kimball, spelling of the surname disputed, born in Suffolk in 1370. Moving forward, one of his descendants, Heber C. Kimball, was Brigham Young’s “right hand man.” Heber Kimball is buried under an attractive monument in a downtown Salt Lake City cemetery. The resting place in Hillsboro, New Mexico for Heber’s second cousin once removed is not so impressive. 
Kimball cousins: Ninette Stocker Miller (l) with a lady believed to be her mother, Tamezin Kimball Stocker Dodge, on the east porch of the Miller home in Hillsboro, NM ca. 1905. George Miller Collection, Black Range Museum.

When Richard Kimball and his family sailed from Ipswich in Suffolk on The Elizabeth in April of 1634, England was already feeling the tension which would lead to civil war and regicide.  By requiring adults leaving England to sign an Oath of Allegiance to the crown and acknowledgment of the Supremacy of the Church of England, today’s genealogists were provided with a public record documenting the departure.  The 1897 history does get to the generation of Heber Kimball, and his second cousin, Russell Freeman Kimball, both born early in the 19th Century. They were a part of that generation which grew up feeling the tug of the American West, and while that makes for interesting stories, it also makes more detective work. Heber Kimball first went from his home in Vermont to New York.  Russell Kimball left his New Hampshire home for Illinois. Heber’s journey to Salt Lake City is well documented; Russell’s story, and that of his daughter, Tamezin, has not, for obvious reasons, received much attention.

Heber Kimball's final resting place, Salt Lake City, UT.
The Kimball family history only followed Russell Freeman Kimball through his marriage to Eliza Ann Austin in Elgin, Illinois in 1839. Land records show he owned property in rural Kane County, west of Elgin, in 1843. (Just in case you were wondering, the Illinois town where Joseph Smith met his death is a few counties to the southwest of Kane County and we have no evidence that Russell knew his second cousin, Heber.) I will try not to belabor the “detective story” but, again, genealogist will recognize the effort to “corroborate” a family story. Following the peripatetic Russell Kimball, both geographically and in the public record, raised as many questions as answers. 
The 1850 federal census for Brooklyn, McHenry County, Illinois, north of Kane County, includes a “Russel Kimble,” birthplace New Hampshire and occupation “Gold Seeker,” married to Eliza, with a child born in Illinois about 1842, the presumed birth year of daughter Tamezin. But the census did not have a full name for that child, only a “T” and, even worse, it indicated the child was a male. (Name experts believe that the name Tamezin, with several possible spellings, was a female version of Thomas.) It turns out that Eliza gave him his occupation title, perhaps with no lack of sarcasm, and a Russell F. Kimball, birthplace New Hampshire, occupation “carpenter,” is also enumerated in 1850 in a “boarding house” in Coloma, El Dorado County, California. Gold Seeker indeed! By the time of the 1860 census, Russell and Eliza had moved on to Goodhue County, Minnesota, southeast of St. Paul. They are listed with four children, but no “T” or Tamezin. Eliza died before the 1865 Minnesota census, and Russell would eventually move with son Artemus to Denver in Rock County, Minnesota, in the southwest part of the state.
This dapper fellow is believed to by H.D. Stocker, lawyer, mine owner, and father of Ninette Stocker and Harriett Galles. This photo was taken on the Miller porch ca. 1895. George Miller Collection, Black Range Museum.
According to her application for a Veterans Widow’s pension, Tamezin had married Henry D. Stocker of McHenry County, Illinois in November of 1859 in Lake City, Minnesota, which probably indicates that she had moved with her parents to Minnesota in the late 1850s. We find Henry and Tamezin enumerated in June of 1860 in the federal census for McHenry, McHenry County, Illinois. She is indexed online as 18 year old “Tenason Sticker” born in Illinois but fortunately she and Henry “Sticker” were joined by a Sarah Kimball, probably a cousin, to give us confidence in concluding that it  was “our” Stockers. Their first child, Harriett (“Hattie”), was born in May of 1861 in McHenry. Henry joined the Illinois volunteers and was commissioned a First Lt. with the 16th Cavalry in May of 1863. He was wounded and then captured at the battle of Jonesville, Virginia in January of 1864. He eventually escaped and was mustered out in October of 1864.
Although Henry Stocker had started practicing law in McHenry before the war, the Stockers are found in the June 1865 Minnesota census in Lake City, Minnesota, again as “Sticker,” something like “Thomas” for Tamizen, but also with “Hattie.”  Their second daughter, Ninette (“Nettie”), who would become a fixture in Hillsboro, New Mexico, was born in Minnesota in 1866,  but, shortly thereafter, things apparently got “interesting” because Henry eventually left Tamezin, Harriett and Ninette and married the widow, Hepzibah “Heppie” (Jackson) Grant. The 1870 federal census shows Tamezin and Henry with separate households in Lake City, Minnesota.  Henry and Heppie’s household included both Hattie and a five year old Franklin Grant. The “Tamison” Stocker household also included a Hattie Stocker as well as Nettie Stocker and a Nellie Kimball. Tamezin had no evidence of a divorce from Henry, which turned out to be both bad news and good news. It meant she may have been a bigamist by virtue of a second marriage, but, as we shall see, she was still potentially eligible for a Civil War widow’s pension.  

Cupid's cavorting, 1891: The Miller's would come to Hillsboro two years later.
In about 1875, Tamezin married Wesley O. Dodge and in the 1880 census she is found with Wesley and 14 year old “Nettie” in Red Wing, Minnesota, which is just up the road from Lake City in Goodhue County. (By 1880, her father Russell Kimball and her brother Artemus had moved from Goodhue County to Rock County in southwestern Minnesota. I believe Russell Kimball died in the 1880s.) We know little about Wesley Dodge, but the census of 1880 lists his occupation as “bookkeeper.” The Dodges are enumerated in the June 1885 Minnesota census in Red Wing, along with 19 year old “Nettie.” On Friday, June 28, 1891, The St. Paul Daily Globe reported that the wedding of Ninette Stocker and George T. Miller had taken place on Wednesday at the home of W.O. Dodge and wife on Clinton Avenue in Minneapolis. Henry Stocker and (second) family had also moved to Minneapolis, probably about 1887, and they lived on Nicollet Ave. At least by the 1895 Minnesota census, “Hattie” along with husband Nicholas Galles, had a home on Harriet Ave. in Minneapolis.  All of these homes were in close proximity to each other in an area east of Lake Harriet in the south part of Minneapolis.

Geroge T. and Ninette Stocker Miller on the back porch of the Hillsboro home ca 1905. George Miller Collection, Black Range Museum.
Once again things get “interesting” for Tamezin (Kimball) (Stocker) Dodge. In the federal census of 1900 she is found in the Nicholas Galles household on Harriet Street in Minneapolis.  She indicates that she is married, and has been for 25 years, whereas Wesley is enumerated at a separate address in Minneapolis and indicates that he is “single.” Just before the June 1900 enumeration of the federal census, Henry Stocker has been laid to rest in the Hillside Cemetery in Minneapolis, having died on May 23, 1900, in Prescott, Arizona. Although the Minneapolis newspapers said he had spent the “past two winters” in Prescott, we know that in fact he was practicing law in Prescott, having apparently left his second wife, “Heppie,” in Minneapolis. Although obituaries for Stocker mention his son Henry Jr. and his son-in-law, Nicholas Galles, there is no mention of either of his wives, both of whom were then living in Minneapolis.  
In 1902, Nicholas and Harriett Galles moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, leaving Minneapolis and ending whatever presence they still had in Hillsboro, New Mexico. Ninette and George T. Miller had followed the Galles to Hillsboro in the early 1890s, having built the “Miller House” now featured in Linda Harris’s “Houses in Time: A Tour Through New Mexico History.” Although we know she spent some time with daughter Harriett in Las Cruces, for example, having been confirmed in the Episcopal Church of St. James, Mesilla Park in 1916, apparently Tamezin would live out her life with daughter Ninette in Hillsboro. Those twenty something years in Hillsboro appear to be the most stable of her eighty plus years on this earth.
Death Certificate: Tamezin Kimball Stocker Dodge.
Tamezin would, however, suffer one more indignity resulting from her “checkered” marital experiences. In 1910 she began the process of an application for a pension as the widow of Civil War veteran, Henry D. Stocker. You can imagine the twists and turns this application process took over approximately 15 years. She had no documentary evidence of her marriage to Henry, having to rely on an affidavit of a friend in McHenry, Illinois that the friend “knew them as husband and wife.” As it turned out, there was no evidence of a divorce, so, but for her second marriage, she could claim that she was Stocker’s widow at his death in 1900. What about the marriage to Wesley Dodge? She indicated in one statement that he had walked out on her in 1891, even before Ninette’s marriage in Minneapolis. The government’s response:  but are you not still married to Dodge? She then was able to prove by the affidavit of the attending physician that Wesley Dodge had died in Minneapolis on June 24, 1923.  Hmm.  The government kept asking for more information, undoubtedly because these things did not tie together neatly. 

Final resting place: Tamezin Kimball Stocker Dodge lies in the Hillsboro Community Cemetery in an unmarked grave. Photo Patti Nunn
In 1926 she abandoned the quest for a pension.  Tamezin died on January 8, 1927, in Hillsboro.  The official death certificate indicates a burial in Hillsboro, but there is no physical evidence of such at the Hillsboro Community Cemetery.