Settling in New Mexico
On August 22, 1907, the three friends, Arza Millikan (my Great-grandfather), Elmer Davis and Harry Kincaid got off the train in Nara Visa, New Mexico. They were ready to settle on their homestead land. Each had 160 acres in southern Union county, north of Nara Visa. Their claims were in a row, with Elmer’s farthest West, then Harry’s, then Arza’s, then the Moody family’s claim. It would have been a good day’s trip to go to Nara Visa for supplies from the train.
One of the first things they had to do was put up shelter. My understanding is that the men used some type of “kit” houses with pre-cut lumber. My Grandmother told me that Arza had a Sears-Roebuck house. However, Sears did not sell kit houses in 1907. Other companies had kit houses at that time, but I haven’t been able to find what specific supplier they may have used. Anyway, the supplies would have come by train to Nara Visa, then the men would have taken them by wagon to their claims. I’m sure this wasn’t a quick or easy process. The homes themselves were single-room cabins. It would have taken about a week to build one from the pre-cut kit.
The best picture I have from the homesteaders is of Harry Kincaid in front of his cabin.
I also have a photo of Arza’s cabin. In the background to the right is possibly the Moody cabin.
One thing that was pointed out to me about these cabins is the windows. They didn’t use just a simple single pane window with a hinge and latch. They used sash windows which would have been more expensive. Other than that, the cabins were pretty basic with only boards—no insulation or inside walls. So if there were cracks between boards, the wind would blow through & in the winter, snow would come through the cracks.
My Grandmother said Arza used cow chips for fuel. He did not have a well, so he had to haul water. He used canned milk, dry meat and lots of beans and cornmeal (used for mush, I bet). He also pulled his own teeth, gargled with kerosene and if he needed a doctor, he would travel to Amistad.
I have no idea what kind of crops the men may have planted while proving up their claims. I do know that they had time for a little fun. My Grandmother said the young men went to square dances & spelling matches and other activities at the Amistad school. The pictures she saved show evidence of some of their fun times enjoying the countryside.
They played croquet with the Moody girls. In the background is possibly Mr. Moody’s well-drilling rig.
One final picture shows someone’s sense of humor:
The caption on the back of this picture is “Tail-e-foning”. Note the hat the lady is wearing. When we visited a little museum in Amistad, we saw another picture of several people wearing the same style hat. We were told it was a common hat in Amistad. Remember the Wood’s (from the Hoosier Colony in Amistad)? Mrs. Wood was a milliner. I wonder if she made the hats?
So much for the fun times on the open range. Next time, a visitor from home…
© MJM 2017