Monday, 25 August 2014 03:33

Agua Fria Village Stories

Contributed by
Rate this item
(2 votes)

William H. Mee, Personal Conversation with Mae Baca Montoya on 8-24-2014:

My grandpa Jose Hilario Baca (1879-1974) would go with Don Sixto Sanchez to the Caja del Rio mesa and cut wood.  Once Don Sixto told him let’s both work together and fill my wagon first and then fill your wagon next and because we are working together as a team we can fill the wagons faster.  So they filled Don Sixto’s wagon and he said let me drive it out of the way and to the top of the hill.  So he drove it to the top of the hill and waved to him and took off home to leave Jose Hilario filling his own wagon by himself. 

So a few days later they were getting wood together again and Don Sixto said he had over loaded his wagon and if Jose Hilario could unhitch his horses and pull his wagon up the biggest hill because his horses were stronger, so Jose Hilario remembering the last wood trip figured either Sixto was up to something or this was his chance to pay him back so he unhitched the two sets of horses and switched his to Don Sixto’s wagon and took them up the hill and kept going and unloaded the bigger load at his house as pay back and then went back to Sixto’s house to switch wagons and said they were even.


William H. Mee, Personal Conversation with Arthur Eugenio Montoya on May 23, 2013:

I was reviewing some death records from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for the San Isidro Mission for the turn of the 20th century with Art Montoya and pointed out that there were four basic types of deaths: 1. children under six years of age where 3 or 4 siblings would perish from childhood diseases in a 3-6 month period; 2. elderly persons 60 to 88 years of age; 3. 25-35 year old mothers dying in childbirth and then their infants passing within the week; and 4. young men 15-20 years old passing in what were probably work-related accidents.  So Art gave me a couple of stories:

Facundo Romero and another teenager from the Village went out to the Mesa to go for Pinion and they didn’t come back and a search party went out for them and they found them frozen to death.  Facundo was Art Montoya’s grandmother’s brother.

Art Montoya’s Grandfather Jose Montoya, at the turn of the 20th century, had a lot on the Camino Real bypass up by the present day State Road 599 and County Road 62 Interchange.  In “wood cutting season” in the fall, after the crops were harvested and the rattlesnakes were hibernating, he would haul wood.  This was mainly sabina, or juniper logs, from the “Mesa”, the Caja del Rio Grant, and he would stack the wood on his lot to dry, or to be cut and split further.  He would leave his wagon there each night because no one would think of stealing it in the Village in those days.  Then he would walk home with the horses and put the bit reins in his mouth and then drape both of the reins under his arms so as to lessen the tension on the bit.  These were some very stout horses and were used for plowing in the spring and were very well mannered and trained.  After he unhitched the wagon and stored away the harness, he walked with them instead of riding one, because the horses were both tired, and it would be unfair to one horse to ride it.  It also built a sense of comradeship with the horses as he was walking with them as an equal.  It also tended to slow the horses down since they couldn’t walk faster than the man (many horses have the habit of trotting or running back to the barn), and it also let them cool off and dry up from any sweat that might have been under the harnesses which had already been removed.  This was something that his dad, Jose Lino Montoya, taught him, and that Jose Lino had learned from his dad.  As they got closer to the present day Agua Fria Street (El Camino Real), a large truck hooted his horn, apparently to warn them about coming onto the roadway in from of him.  Not having much auto traffic on the road, the horses were completely startled by this noise and ran away trapping Jose in the reins and dragging him on the ground.    He was dragged for quite a stretch until either he untangled himself or a neighbor stopped the runaway horses; Jose never really knew what had happened but was probably knocked out cold, and was pretty scratched up when he got up from the ground.   

This was the hazards of the 19th century farming life meeting the 20th century.

Read 2416 times
William Mee

Resident of Agua Fria Village Traditional Historic Community (THC) a place of settlement since 1640, grew up by Cerrillos, N.M.  Went to SFHS, NMSU and College of Santa Fe; and later UNM.  Member of Agua Fria Village Association and Acequia Agua Fria Association.
More in this category: « Cap'n Twylo Los Alamos Wildlife »


  • Comment Link Michael Miller Tuesday, 07 July 2015 17:06 posted by Michael Miller

    Is it possible to POST your excellent article: Agua Fria: History of a Traditional Community, so more people can read it? Keep up the good work. Thanks.

  • Comment Link William Mee Thursday, 18 December 2014 21:22 posted by William Mee

    Michael we did a Historical Records Advisory Board grant and made a final cut for $4,000 of our $8,000 request which we accepted, then a board member said: "since it isn't the full amount, and they might have trouble doing the project, let's just redistribute to everyone else." And in a flash we were out of a funded project. Next round due in February 2015. We did get $1,000 grant from the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area and produced this in 12/12:

  • Comment Link Michael Miller Tuesday, 26 August 2014 19:20 posted by Michael Miller

    W, Check out the NM State Historian website. They are accepting proposals for research projects. M.

  • Comment Link William Mee Tuesday, 26 August 2014 16:27 posted by William Mee

    Michael Miller, no I don't but I think Ramon and Hazel may have done some. Part of the "History Project" our neighborhood association and Acequia Agua Fria have commissioned is to "coral" all these stories in one Archive. There are audio/videotapes of Amarante Romero and Lucy Narvaiz and they are seemingly lost at the College of Santa Fe/Community College and at UNM. For about three years I have been writing grants and have received only $1,000 from the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area. Grants to PNM, LANL, and the N.M. Historical Records Advisory Board have gotten no where and in the meantime my subjects like Herman Montoya (1910-2013), Amarante Romero (1920-2013) have been dropping like flies. Any advice? (I posted a similar appeal to the Facebook site).

  • Comment Link Michael Miller Tuesday, 26 August 2014 01:22 posted by Michael Miller

    Good interviews William. Do you have any interviews with the Romero family? Ramon and Leo's parents? Thanx.

  • Comment Link Arthur Scott Monday, 25 August 2014 15:45 posted by Arthur Scott

    Excellent history! Keep it up, William.

Login to post comments

Additional information