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Seligman Stage Coaches NM History Museum

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Seligman Stage Coaches NM History Museum Rear window Franc E. Seligman. Taken atLake Valley train station. ca 1920

Seligman Stage Coaches Revisited

by

Arthur Seligman Scott

 

 

     New Mexico Governor (1931-33) Arthur Seligman was my grandfather. He and my grandmother both died before I was born; however, I remember this photo as a child. It recently came to light once again through a family member. I also have another version taken at the same time and place but with only the woman in the rear window and the gentleman and two women on top of the coach.

    I   remember visiting The Palace of the Governors as a child in the forties, seeing the coach in the center courtyard, and being told “That is the stagecoach your grandmother donated to the museum.” As a child having been raised with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers as heroes and a vivid imagination, my only thought at the time was that I wished I had been born earlier so that I could play “cowboy and Indians” on the coach in my grandparents yard. Little did I know that sixty seven years later this coach would take me on a wonderful ride through history?

   The photo above clearly shows “Mountain Pride” above the door and a painted image of the Apache Chief, Victorio on the door. The stage had been named after the Mountain Pride hotel in Hillsboro. The woman looking out the rear window is my grandmother, Franc E. (Mrs. Arthur) Seligman. I believe the woman in the foreground on top is her daughter and my aunt, Mrs. John March, nee. Richie Seligman. This photo was taken at the Lake Valley, New Mexico train station probably around 1916-18. The stage line had closed and my speculation is that this was when my grandfather purchased this coach.  . I know he dabbled in photography, so I would guess he took this photo. He owned two stage coaches at the time of his death in 1933.

     I learned through the courtesy of Josef Diaz, Curator of the New Mexico History Museum that after my grandfather had died my grandmother donated two stagecoaches to the New Mexico Historical Society (precursor of the Museum) in 1935. One was “the Mountain Pride” shown above. The “Mountain Pride” is a “Concord style coach built by the Abbot-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire. The other was a coach also made by Abbot-Downing but generally referred to as a “mud wagon.” type of coach. It was a cheaper stage coach. and was characterized by a wooden frame covered in canvas and canvas side curtains. However, because of its lighter weight and wide wheels, it was well suited to muddy mountain roads.

    The “Pride” was used to carry passengers and mail on the stage line that ran between the Aitcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe railhead at Lake Valley, New Mexico and the then thriving mining towns of Hillsboro and Kingston. The stage line was founded between 1878 and 1882 by L. W. Orchard to provide service between these towns. Orchard married a notorious prostitute named Sarah Jane Cheech who owned two hotels in Hillsboro and it was said that at times she drove the “Mountain Pride.” This was quite a feat for any woman at the time.

 The following is a map of the Hillsboro stage route and historic photos of the “Mountain Pride” taken from New Mexico Historical Review, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, 1951, “Short-line Staging in New Mexico” By William Swilling Wallace.

 

    Map  from New Mexico Historical Review, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, 1951, “Short-line Staging in New Mexico” By William Swilling Wallace

 

Reining the Mountain Pride out of the Lake Valley corral at full gallop Circa 1896 .

 From Wallace, 1951

 

“Mountain Pride” near Harlosa Springs station, circa 1900, from Lake Valley School Museum collection

 

 

   The stage line was operated by Orchard until 1902 when he sold it to Fred Mister. Mister continued to operate the stage line until 1916 at which time he closed it. The mining had petered out by then, population in Kingston and Hillsboro dropped, and World War I started. I believe the Seligman photo above was taken about this time. I think the Mountain Pride was then sold to Arthur Seligman. After Governor Seligman’s death in 1933, his widow donated the coach to The New Mexico Historical Society in 1935. During my childhood in the forties, the Mountain Pride was exhibited by the Museum Of New Mexico in an alcove in thee center courtyard of the Palace of the Governors. I remember it being in a extreme state of disrepair. Much of the damage could have occurred prior to the donation.

   In 193t Mr. Wayne Mauzy wrote an article for El Palacio magazine detailing the donation to The New Mexico Historical Society by my grandmother, Mrs. Seligman, and the history of the two coaches.  

 

                                      Cover Ell Palacio magazine August 1935

 The Concord stage “Mountain Pride” is shown to the right and a Barlow-Sanderson “Mud Wagon” is shown to the left. In his article, Mr. Mauzy stated,   “Mrs. Arthur Seligman, donor of the coaches, has furnished a card printed as an advertisement of the Seligman Bros. store at Fiesta time, 1921, which gives some valuable information about the former, as well as some interesting sidelights on the growth of the Santa Fe Trail business in the early days. It should be borne in mind that the era of Santa Fe Trail, so far as regular commerce and stage coach days were concerned, was a short one, seeing its heyday between 1850 and 1880. The stage coach days of the west began with the Mexican War and ended with the coming of the railway.  The Seligman notice of 1921 said: “When the picturesque old Barlow-Sanderson stage coach drives up to the main entrance of the Palace of the Governors on Thursday-Santa Fe Trail Day of the Fiesta- there will alight from it historic characters in the costumes of their time”

 

The 1921 card goes on, “As far as known, this is the only Barlow-Sanderson stage coach still in existence. It made its first run from Las Animas, over Raton Pass to Santa Fe, in 1858. Among its drivers were Frank Ensign and Sandy Wardwell, brothers-in-law of Oakley Clifford, of Albuquerque. Charlie Evans, John Forsha, Charlie Dudrow, Charlie Bryant, and old Swope, who was never known to be late, always starting and arriving on time. This coach was in the famous holdup, in the Raton Pass in 1867, when the express messenger and two passengers were shot and killed; $60,000 taken, and the robbers made their escape. ‘Kid Barton’ was afterwards captured and hanged to the bridge on the Rock Island east of Tucumcari, but not, however, until he had shot a Sheriff and two Deputies”.

   The “Mountain Pride” was mentioned in a 1919 article describing the Fiesta and which included a photograph in The Santa Fe Railroad magazine.

   From The Santa Fe Magazine November 1919 (An in-house publication of the Santa Fe Railroad for its 75,000 employees)::

 

“Santa Fe Celebrates Re-Conquest of New Mexico

 

More than a Thousand years of History Re-Enacted in a Great Three-Day Fiesta

 

 

   Since then there has been annually a religious procession the Sunday, after the Corpus Christi Sunday, from the Cathedral of St. Francis to Rosario Ch apel, beautifully commemorating the heroic deeds of De Vargas and the Conquistadores.

 This year for the first time in more than a century, the great patriotic fiesta proclaimed by the Marquis de la Peralta was revived by the. secular population and made an occasion  of general historic interest. (Author’s Note:  De Vargas pageants depicting the re-conquest were held at both the 1911 and 1912 Fourth of July celebrations.)

 

   ...With dusk (of the second day) another epoch was ushered in. The Santa Fe Lodge of Elks staged the coming of the fur traders and the Santa Fe trailers.  Old stage coaches

rumbled up to the Plaza over the trail. From them stepped old-timers who came to New Mexico before the building of the railroads and even before the days of General Kearny. There were wild gambling scenes. Th'e historic killing of Chief Justice John P. Slough, at the Fonda, by Colonel William Rynerson was re-enacted. This was followed by an old-timers ball. The patio of the Palace of the Governors was tuned into a Spanish garden where refreshments were served by girls in Spanish costume..

   On the evening of the second day thousands of people saw the “Mountain Pride" stage coach which decades ago ran from Mountain Pride Hotel  at Kingston, Sierra County, to Lake Valley N. M., make another trip. Hair Trigger Thorpe had charge of stage coach festivities which were carried out with a good deal of dash, color and a real accident.

 

...As the stage crossed Marcy Street a band of Indians dashed out and held it up. They wore headgear more stunning than driver, for their feathers were of many colors and their faces were painted gorgeously and fiercely. With a mighty war whoop, which thrilled the closely packed crowed, the Indians cavorted around in their moccasins and finally dragged the unlucky express messenger to the stake south of the city hall and prepared to bum him. But four and twenty dashing cowpunchers now arrived on the scene. They engaged in a spirited pistol duel with the Indians, defeating them and rescuing the helpless passengers.” 

  

Photo from Santa Fe Magazine, Santa Fe Railroad, November, 1919

 

        Since my grandmother’s 1935 donation of these stagecoaches to the New Mexico Historical Society, they have been lovingly and beautifully restored and are currently on display by the New Mexico Historical Museum. The Mudwagon-Style Stagecoach seen below is on display at The Palace of The Governors in Santa Fe. And it is described as “A product of the Abbot-Downing Company, Concord, New Hampshire. The term designates various types of passenger wagons being a somewhat inferior class of stagecoach.” Probably because it was basically a wooden frame work covered by canvas.

Seligman Mudwagon at the Palace of The Governors, , 2011. Photo courtesy f Josef Diaz, Curator of Southwest and Mexican

Colonial Art and History Collections, New Mexico History Museum

 

 

Seligman “Mountain Pride” stagecoach at Lincoln County Courthouse State Monument, 2011. Photo courtesy Josef Diaz, Curator of Southwest and Mexican Colonial Art and History Collections, New Mexico History Museum

   The ‘Mountain Pride” Concord stagecoach described as “A.K.A. MAIL COACH, CONCORD COACH, this coach was a product of the Abbot-Downing Company, Concord, New Hampshire. Its last run was between Lake Valley and Kingston, New Mexico.” As seen above, it is currently on display at the Lincoln County Courthouse State Monument. These beautiful coaches are prime examples of the value of preservation and restoration of the cultural artifacts of our past. This is the only way we will be able to seek out and find the cultural identities from our past history which will enrich our lives today.

 

Sources Used

 

Diaz, Josef, 2010, Personal Communication

Wallace, William Swilling, 1951, Sort-Line Staging in New Mexico, New Mexico    Historical Review, Vol. XXVI, No.2

Mauzy, Wayne, 1935, Western Stage Coach Days, El Palacio Magazine, Museum of New Mexico, Vol. XXXIX, Nos. 7-8-9.

The Santa Fe Magazine, 1919, Santa Fe Celebrates Re-Conquest of New Mexico, Santa Fe Railroad Exchange, Vol. XIII, No. 12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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