The average tourist traversing the State of New Mexico from East to West on the transcontinental division of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway is impressed with the immensity of lands which apparently lie in waste along this route.

Involuntarily he asks, what is this country good for? Is it worth traversing? And whatever induced the railway company to run a line through here? Residents familiar with the soil, however, know full well that these wastes could yield a hundredfold when brought in contact with irrigation, which will develop these sections into the best of agricultural districts. This fact is forcibly demonstrated in what is known as the Pecos valley which owes its prominence to several irrigation systems along the lower branches of the Rio Pecos. This river owes its name to a once very populous tribe of Pueblo Indians, living along the upper branches of the Pecos River. The Pecos pueblo, or Cicuyé lay some 30 miles southeast of Santa Fe and the Pecos people were scattered along the valley of the river over a distance of some 40 miles down to Anton Chico. As the river flows down from Cicuyé (Pecos), or Tsiquite, which in historic times was one of the largest of New Mexican pueblos, it was known as the River of the Pecos (people), with no special attempt at defining its terminal. Spanish chroniclers, therefore, use Cicuyé and Pecos promiscuously to designate the present Pecos River.

The river was well known in those days, because the route along the Pecos was taken by the Indians in going to the buffalo plains in eastern New Mexico and western Texas. Hence it was known to Coronado who crossed it in the vicinity of Puerto de Luna in 1541, and who also returned along its course from the neighborhood of the present Roswell up to Puerto de Luna in the same year. Espejo, in 1583, says he followed the Cicuyé (Pecos) River for about 120 leagues, which brought him further south than the present Roswell to a point from which his guides (Jumano Indians) led him to the Rio Grande in the vicinity of the present El Paso. The Pecos Indians, among whom the Spanish Franciscans had a flourishing mission, belong to the Tano stock and spoke the same language, with dialectic variations, as the Jemez Indians, with whom the remnant of about twenty five Indians now live, Pecos having been abandoned by them.

From the Junction at Clovis, New Mexico, a branch line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway runs down the lower branch of the Pecos River through a valley which, owing to its fertility, has given prominence and distinction to the Pecos Valley. While the railway has facilitated the development of this valley and opened markets for its products, it remains a pleasant fact that the development of the wonderful resources of this valley has been made possible by the enterprising initiative of such communities like Carlsbad, Lakewood, Artesia, Hagerman, Roswell and a score of other towns.

In the year 1903 the Franciscan Fathers of the Cincinnati Province were placed in charge of the Catholic parishes in this valley. Of German parentage, American in spirit, youthful, vigorous, resourceful, beloved in their respective communities, energetic, patient, they are wide awake to the possibilities of both the American and Mexican constituency in their parishes. It is said that patient, painstaking, slow, but in-the-end-effective work is a “tradition” with the Franciscans. The work done in the Pecos Valley among the American and Mexican population verifies this tradition. The communities there are small compared to what these men were accustomed to in the East, and the Spanish-speaking portion presents difficulties which tax the abilities of the Fathers in charge and enlist genuine admiration for the work done among them. However, I leave the description of that part of the “New Kingdom of St. Francis” to better informed and more competent hands.

Index


Notes About the Book:

Source: The Franciscan Missions of the Southwest, Published annually by the Franciscan Fathers at Saint Michaels, Arizona, 1917

Online Publication: The manuscript was scanned and then ocr’d. Minimal editing has been done, and readers can and should expect some errors in the textual output.