Posts Tagged With: historic site


The Hubbell trading post,  established in 1876  is the oldest trading post in continuous use since it opened. Hubbell died in 1930. His son took over the post. His wife Dorothy Hubbell turned it over to the Park Service in about 1965 with the stipulation that it still be run as a trading post.  She removed her clothes and some personal effects and left  numberous  treasures that remain in the post. The docent told us there was a whole suitcase of silver conchos under one of the beds.

John Hubbell learned to speak Navajo as a young man while employed as a clerk and Spanish interpreter at forts and trading posts. Travelers, area ranchers and Indians depended on the hundreds of Trading Posts throughout the west to trade their goods and sustain their life on homesteads. Posts  were the only civilized spots for locals to communicate with each other and find out what was going on in the outside world that affected them. The building was small at first, and added onto over the years. Customers still walk through the old wooden door and this is what greets them:

Goods no longer sold hangs from the ceilings as it did then. The old hardwood floors squeak and bend as you walk through. Hubbell  began trading in 1876, a crucial time for the Navajo who were released from their imprisonment at Bosque Redondo. After the Long Walk, which killed about half of the Navajo,  they were allowed to return to their lands, only to find their hogans destroyed, horses , herds and crops long gone and a new life on a reservation. The Long Walk ended in 1868, but  reservation life came with restrictions, missionaries, Indian agents, and teachers all trying to re- aculturate them. It became a new struggle. Hubbell was merchant and liaison for them. Called Don Lorenzo by the Spanish and Nk’ee Sinili by the Navajo,  he didn’t try to change them.  He became a father figure to the Navajo, settling quarrels, explaining government policies. He was father confessor, justice of the peace, judge, jury and defacto mayor of the land.

Navajo’s learned blanket and rug making from the Spanish and quickly became accomplished with their own designs and dyes. Then and now, the post has a huge selection of excellent Navajo Blankets and Jewelry.

As in Hubbell’s time, the Navajo get fair treatment. Here their rugs and jewelry earn them the bulk of the money for their work, while the downtown trading posts like Richardsons and Maizels, the bulk of the money goes to the dealer. However, the in-town posts get more traffic. When you buy a rug and/or jewelry at  Hubbell’s, you are making an investment. We talked to, and photographed  a German woman who paid $1,600 for a bracelet.  Jim just shakes his head.

We took the tour of Hubbell’s home. The roof, the thatch, the huge beams, like those in the post made differently  than others I’ve seen. The house itself had Navajo rugs on every floor, every bed, over the windows and doors to keep out the cold. Blankets softened hard wooden chairs. We took a lot of pictures but technical difficulties have dictated a shortened blog today.

The post outdoor oven put out multiple loaves per day. The oven is still on the site.

The oven though broken down a bit, still stands on the grounds along with remnants of the old corn fields, a chicken coop with a big fat turkey in it.  Horses in the barns. Old equipment, buggies, saddles, leather goods of all types.

Hay in the corn cribs. In the 1800’s the corn  was fenced, the animals ranged free.

Something I’d never seen before in the post kitchen, is a dough riser sitting next to the stove for warmth. You can tell what huge batches of bread they made each day.

The old scarecrow from the 1960’s has a dangling aluminum can to help scare off the ravens.

The guest cottage served as hospitality to President Roosevelt one time.  Numerous guests were welcomed here to paint, rehabilitate or just join the family barbecues out back.

Family and guests  could spend the evenings outdoors next to the huge barbecue pit, by the light of hand-built lanterns that held a fat candle. I expect it gave a romantic light under the stars.

We took a lot of pictures but had difficulties with our signal where we are parked in Canyon De Chelly. As a travel destination, Hubbell Trading Post is an experience you shouldn’t miss. It really makes you feel you have stepped back in time. It isn’t far from the Canyon and worth going out of your way to find.

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To the sound of the bagpipes carried on a cold wind, we walked out of Pancho Villa State Park,  crossed  the highway and entered  the Memorial Garden where the Columbus Historical Society honors those who were killed in Pancho Villa’s infamous raid. March 9th, 1916, at 4:00 a.m. the city was awakened by gunfire.

Villanistas went directly to Ravel’s store, a man who sold guns across the border. A new government degree made it against the law to sell guns across the border. Ravel kept the money and didn’t deliver the guns, so the story goes. Some think that may have been the cause of the raid. Seventeen year old Arthur Ravel was dragged from under his bed in his underwear. His father was in El Paso at the dentist.  Arthur lived to tell his story.

Above picture from the Historical Society Museum shows Pancho at a friendlier time. Susan Parks, a 19-year-old telephone operator heard noises outside her living quarters at a Columbus Print Shop. Peering out the window she saw Villa’s men lurking nearby. She scooped up her sleeping daughter and crept toward the town’s switchboard to summon aid. She lit a match to see the keys and a volley of gunfire exploded the shop’s window. Glass splinters tore into her face, neck, arms and into the face of her daughter. She stashed Gwen under the bed and when it got light enough, she carefully crept back to the switchboard and sent word to Fort Bliss that a group of Mexicans was shooting up the town.These, are just a couple personal stories that the historical society has in their museum, along with many pictures and a clock that was struck with a bullet registering the time of the raid.

Members of the Border Patrol on horse back raised and held the colors for the hour ceremony.

Pictures and a biography of those killed hang at the base of the review stand for all to see and read. This year, for the first time, the Society invited Dr. Robert H. Bouilly, a Historian at Fort Bliss to make a presentation at the Memorial. He pointed out how many of them were not U.S. Citizens, like Fred Green, the first of the soldiers to die. Serving in the army was a path to citizenship then. Three units of Villanistas attacked  Fort Furlong, where Green was on guard near the stables. The rest of the encampment, was unarmed. They had to break open the armory to get weapons. The Villanistas were after the horses and Green was actually trampled to death after being wounded.

Struggling with the cold wind trying to blow his notes away and carry his voice off with them, Dr. Bouilly gave an in depth  account of some of those killed in the raid, and an account of victims of the raid that are not included in the official count of those lost. He spoke of a Mexican businessman who came to town and was in the hotel. The Villanistas had hauled the men out to the street outside and the women, after taking their jewelry and valuables, into the lobby. He was planning to kill them all. The business man who spoke excellent Spanish, convinced the, “…we are all Mexicans.”  He took each woman under a dim light and showed them they were all Mexicans, which they were not. The Villanistas  let them live. His body was found two days later over the border. He was never listed as one of those who died in the raid.

Nor was Yarbrough, a man who was seemingly only slightly wounded. He died from complications with gangrene three years later. Or, the wife of John Walker, who never got over his death and had several mental breakdowns after the horrific killings she witnessed.

James Todd Dean died in the raid. His cousin, Tom Dean was present at the ceremony and has a remarkable likeness to the picture above with his hat and sunglasses removed.

Dean called out the names of those Military dead. In the background someone struck a bell at each name.

And then he laid the wreath at the foot of the Memorial. Another man did the same for the civilian casualties.  While some relatives are bitter about the park being named after Pancho Villa, Dean is one of those who is not.  The whole review was interesting and informative and we were glad we braved the chill.

We revisited the State Park Museum, as well, and looked once more at this 1915 Dodge, full of holes. The driver was wounded, his wife took the wheel and with a good lead, the family of three escaped. In a similar chase in another vehicle, the husband  was killed and his wife and kids got out and lay by his body and pretended to be dead. They lived to to tell the tale.

The Museum has other things in it besides an account of the raid. This was the first airbase and a Jenny is mounted to the ceiling. The instructions say, “Do not inspect the Jenny, or you will never want to fly her.”  The reason being, the skin is made of cloth.

Because of the heat, soldiers at one time were housed in two-man adobe “tents”.

We hiked into town and had delicious Mexican food at a hole-in-the-wall family owned Mexican restaurant. The owner had to attend the store next door, and then come back to cook for us. No adjoining door.

Get ready now, federales,
Be prepared for very hard rides,
For Villa and his soldiers
Will soon take off your hides!

A good profile of the Robin Hood of Mexico, Pancho Villa, hated by thousands, loved by millions at the following link.

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