March 1884



In the February 29, 1884 issue of The Black Range newspaper a
rather disparaging article about John Richard (Adobe) Johnson
noted his death.  As a noted Hillsboro historian noted
“someone thought enough of him to do a headstone.” (at the Hillsboro Cemetery).


Page one of the March 7, 1884 issue of The Black Range newspaper was dedicated to ads and humor/local color type articles.  Page four was dedicated to ads and legal notices.   This is the typical pattern of the newspaper.  The remaining two pages contained the news, legal notices, and ads.  The newspaper entertained as well as informed, and often the information was meant to entertain as well.

In the February 29, 1884 issue of The Black Range an article about the progress of local short-lines (to Nutt and Silver City) was published.  There were always significant ads in the newspaper about rail service, schedules, fares etc..  In this issue, the Hannibal & St. Joe - Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroads provided a nice graphic for their ad, which appeared on page two.

From Page Two

“The Range editor on the occasion of his late visit to Socorro learned that it was useless to think of getting an appropriation from the county to assist in building the desired road across the range direct from Chloride. There is no money in the county treasury and warrants are worth nothing. The county is in a deplorable condition surely.”

News must have been a bit light because most of a column was dedicated to a chamber of commerce type boosterism piece on the mines of the Apache (Chloride) Mining District.

From Page Three

Miss Barnes' school opened last Monday with fifteen scholars...L. Corson donated a bell to the school. The children must now be prepared to get licked if not on time when the bell rings...The whistle at the Concentrator and the ringing of the school bell are two sure harbingers of a better day for Chloride...The ladies of Chloride, through their society, have raised by subscription and through their sociables, the sum of $310 for school purposes...The new school seats, so generously donated to our town by Messrs. Wilson & Haynes, of St. Louis, reached Chloride on Wednesday, by Polk Armstrong's freight team. The end castings on one the seats were broken in the upset of his wagon, but the breakage can be easily repaired.”


“Morrison, McGeary et al have thrown up their contract on the Colossal as a bad job. Took it too low they say, to  make money out of it.”

“The work on the St. Cloud road was completed last Saturday.  Now you will hear of ore coming in to the concentrator from that mine...Jim Wilson has returned from Kingston. Says he has work in motion on the Solitaire and is now ready to push the development work on the St Cloud, vigorously.”

“Saucier's teams left Monday for the Silver Monument ore, for the concentrator the beginning of his hauling contracts of the concentrating ores.”

“Fred Stevens informs the Range that the breast of the drift in the White Signal is looting better than at any time in the past. Came on to the ore last Tuesday, clear across the breast of the drift.”

“The owners of the American Flag mine have received from the land office the receiver's certificate for the  purchase price of the property. The patent will issue in its...from the department at Washington...Mr. A. Yeazel, a banker of Hastings' Nebraska, and secretary and treasurer of the American Flag company came into the range Monday and in company with Mr. Turner went to Palomas on Tuesday. Mr. Turner will go from Palomas to Kingston on business and will return on Saturday or Sunday.”

“M. H. Chamberlin has a most favorable offer to go to Kansas and take charge of working up a railroad project in that state. He says however, that he prefers to stick to the range, and the Midnight. Several parties are now figuring on the purchase of the Midnight, and if it is not soon sold he has agreed to accept the proposition of Mr. Turner his partner, and put up a concentrator for treatment of ores on the ground...Edgar M. Hand, assayer to the concentrator, was over to the Midnight Monday, and says the surface indications for mineral on  that claim exceed anything he has ever seen. He says if capital were circulating in this camp as it is at Black Hawk the property would bring a big cash price, for large bodies of ore of low grade is what capital is looking for.”

“Polk Armstrong's freight team, due here last Saturday,  met with quite a mishap on the road just above Fest's near Cuchillo town. The team was rounding a point, coming down grade, the cut was narrow and the lead horses on a dead pull threw the wagon off the grade and down an  embankment several feet high. The driver was in the saddle on the wheel horse. The wagon carried with it the wheel horses, driver and all. The driver, Mr. Pickerel, had his leg broken just above the ankle.  Some of the merchandize was woefully demoralized, and two cases of giant powder in the load were absolutely crushed. Broken sticks and flattened sticks of giant were picked up and it is almost a miracle that concussion did not explode the giant and annihilate wagon, team, and attendants. Polk Armstrong who came in with the freight Wednesday afternoon is happy in the fact that he looks upon the outcome of the accident as a piece of good fortune.”

A complete copy of this issue may be read at: The Black Range newspaper, issue of March 7, 1884.  The file is 2.5 MB in size.




Silver Bar Mine west of Chloride.


sierra county-filtered

Pages One and Four followed the same general structure in this issue, with the exception that page four had a column of “humor”.

Page Two of this issue had an interesting column section (see right).  The first and second paragraphs had to do with the new county of Sierra.  The first addressing the need for a road north from Hillsboro, or south from Hermosa if you wish.  The second noting the importance of Lake Valley to Dona Ana County.  The third paragraph was Mexican railroad news and the last paragraph had to do with the establishment of the new railroad town of Magdalena.

Page Two also had a follow-up on the great Deming railroad robbery which was the topic of previous editions:  “There were lively times at Silver City last Monday. At nine o'clock in the morning four of the Deming train robbers, viz.: Mitch Lee, G. W. Cleveland, Frank Taggart and Kit Joy, with Carlos Chavez, the murderer of a Chinaman at Fort Bayard, and Charles Spencer, horse thief and murderer, broke jail. A party composed of the chief citizens of the city started in pursuit and in the desperate fight which ensued when the desperadoes were overtaken in the foot hills six miles north of town, a citizen Joseph N. Lafferr was killed as was also Cleveland and Chavez. Lee was wounded and captured and Taggart was captured and both of them were hung within half a mile of where they were taken. Joy the murderer of Lafferr escaped but pursuers were close upon his track and it is not thought possible that he could escape them. Lafferr was a gentleman highly esteemed and his death causes much indignation among his friends and acquaintances.”

From Page Three

“Part of Major Day's complement for the German has arrived the balance is expected shortly when work will be resumed.”

A long article on a horse race in Fairview was followed by the following notice: “On the 17th instant which is next Monday, there will be a pony race on the track at Chloride. The distance will be four hundred yards, the entrance fee ten dollars and the pool will be divided into first and second money.  The race is free to all saddle ponies and the race is  expected to be a good one. The race will be ran shortly after dinner.”

“Billy Taylor and Ed. Steinberg still work the Walking John - Dictator mine for the riyal claimants.”

“Again the luxury of milk is .... Will Riley comes alone with the lache three times a week now.”

“The late shipment of the Equator mine amounted to 1,350 pounds of ore. Only the very best was sent.”

“A meeting of the Socorro county stockmen's association is called for the 25th of March at Socorro.”

“Henry Rickert has purchased of Charley Ridgely a quarter interest in the Aetna location, a south extension of the Adirondack.”

“St. Cloud ore is beginning to find its way to the concentrator. This mine has about a hundred tons on the dump at this time. J. D. Perkins' teams are assisting those of Saucier Brothers in the work of hauling this ore to town.”

The biggest news for several weeks is discussed in the article to the right.  The Royal Arch, noted in previous editions as one of the premier mines of the Black Range is said to close.

“The Colossal has sent to the railroad three hundred and thirty sack of ore; the remainder of the car load will go out with the next teams. It is handsome ore fully the equal of anything that has gone before.”

“The high water in Chloride creek seriously interfered with the progress of the wagons loaded with Silver Monument ore last week, which occupied the whole week making the round trip. Twice a wagon upset owing to the soft, porous condition of the ground.”

“The boys at Ojo Caliente will fence about eight acres of the most arable land adjacent to the springs, as soon as they can do it, and Jim Ryan will plant and cultivate it for them. The rich soil and the warm water for irrigating should enable them to raise mammoth crops.”

“C C. Harris is now at El Paso. Since he left Chloride Mr. Harris has purchased a new photograph outfit complete and has so mastered his art as to be a first-class artist. He has taken charge of a gallery at El Paso already established. His trip has been quite remunerative.”

“Through the kindness of J. D. Perkins the school is now supplied with an organ, which will be a great benefit both to the day school and Sunday school. The instrument is loaned simply, and the right is reserved to take it back again when desired without having ill feeling aroused on the subject.”

“The latest news from the Dreadnought is that the Miller interest yet remains intact in the possession of the heirs of Ira, deceased, with Levi his brother, in charge of the same. Mr. Miller wants to sell at a higher figure than he has yet been offered, but he will not agree to work the property if he does not sell.  This the editor of the Range learned from Levi Miller who was at Socorro last week, and who then expected to be at Grafton ere this.”

“The Black Range hears it stated although by what authority it knows not that the reason why R. G. Ingersoll did not take his contemplated trip into the range was because of threats which came to his ears of violence against him intended by the men who failed to get their full salaries when employed on the ranches last year. If the information was correct it is safe to say that Bob's fears were groundless for he would have been given no more violence than the tongue can inflict and probably not that.”

The complete issue may be read at: The Black Range newspaper, issue of March 14, 1884.  The file is 2.6 MB.




The Phillipsburg Mill, about 1910, by Henry A. Schmidt.


The first and last page of this issue held true to the recent norm, being dedicated to “humor”, ads, and legal notices - all pretty much the same.

From Page Two

The new concentrator at Chloride is up and running, and advertising (with an orientation different from everyone else).  An aside from Page Three: “The bins at the concentrator are full and running over with ore and handsome ore it is...The concentrator started up for continuous business yesterday. Mr. Castle in charge. The working of the machinery is a success and when the concentrating qualities of the several ores of the camps round about are thoroughly assured by tests there is not the least doubt of there being plenty of ore to keep it running constantly.”

“A large proportion of the bills passed by the New Mexico legislature are put through under a suspension of the rules. This inclines one to the opinion that the rules, the bills or the legislature were wrong in some way and ought to be changed.”

“A combined rise in the Gila and Colorado rivers swept away a good portion of the town of Yuma, Arizona, last week. A hundred dwellings were washed away and many people were rendered homeless but fortunately the  weather permits of their living out of doors without inconvenience.”

Sam Ferree

“The bill for the new county of Sierra which passed the lower house of the New Mexico assembly so unanimously appears to have lost itself in the council.  Petitions going up to Santa Fe from Socorro and Dona Ana counties against its passage appear to have been too much for it and it has died for lack of animation. At least it seems so...The new county bill forming Sierra, ere it passed the house had attached to it a portion of the debt of Socorro county. This was an outrage. The Black range is under no obligations in the world to pay a cent of the debt of this county for the reason that it has never had a cent's worth of benefit from its connection with said county.  It has paid taxes promptly on property nontaxable and never a dollar has it been able to get from the county treasury for any purpose. It is too far from the county seat for the county officials to benefit it in the least. The sheriff comes to see us only when election or tax collecting times draw near and if we had any criminals we would ask no favors of him. But we have no lawlessness and  consequently the county has paid nothing for our protection.  The connection with the county has been entirely a one sided affair with the county the gainer. It was only by the hardest kind of fighting that we were enabled to got an order for the organization of it school district and there is hardly the ghost of a chance of our ever getting a dollar of the school money due us; at least for this year.  We asked for a small contribution to assist us to build a much needed road across the range but were told that there was no money in the treasury and warrants were of no value, consequently we could have nothing. The Black range is the only portion of the county where any attempt has been made by the citizens to build public roads by private means but we have had to do it all and no thanks to the county. Is it any wonder that we wish to get away from a connection of so little benefit. The contemplated county of Sierra was not our choice had we been given one but as an alternative against Socorro county it was hailed as must desirable. It could not be worse and it might be better. This section will come up again at the next session of the New Mexico legislature with the bill defeated this time and it will keep working for a separation until it either gets that or justice from Socorro.”

From Page Three

“Some of the finest ore ever taken from the Silver Monument mine was placed on the dump lately.”

american flag

“The Saucier brothers traded their horse and buggy for two hundred and fifty head of sheep. They are going into the stock business...Frank Saucier met with quite a serious injury Tuesday from the horn of his oxen. He was putting the animal into the frame preparatory to shoeing and the rope fastening its head became loose enough to allow it to flounder. He made an attempt to fasten the rope and inadvertently got his face so close to the struggling ox that a horn caught him under the chin and tore a frightful gash in his face. The doctors sewed and patched up the wound but Frank is scared for life.”

“Ferree & Pfotenbaus’ Silver Bell at the head South Fork has a good sized dump of fine ore and a nice show ing at the bottom of a sixty-foot shaft.”  (See also, article upper right.)

“Eugen Knapp's Columbus at the head of Chloride creek has a four inch streak of very rich ore bearing great resemblance to the Silver Monument product.”

“L. P. Johnson is fixing up a building adjoining his residence which he will occupy as a soda factory. He has his fountain and bottling apparatus on the way and will soon be ready for business.”

“A portion of the Colossal force is now at work sinking the shaft of the Dorsey, an adjacent property on which a bond of some kind has been obtained. The Dorsey has a fine showing of ore.”

“Jas. Wert the Engle railroad agent asks people who ask questions of him requiring answers by mail to send postage stamps for reply. The railroad company furnishes none and it is unkind to ask him to pay for accommodating the public.”

“The present work on the Equator mine in the Iron Reef district consists of running a drift east across the ore body at about twenty-five feet depth.  The value of the ore shipped to Denver is not made public but suffice it to say the returns greatly exceeded Mr. Foster's anticipations. When ore is richer than the owners expect it to be it is doing well enough...The Range was wrongly informed in regard to the amount of ore sent out at the late shipment of the Equator mine. There was in reality some eight tons shipped, and it was ore such as never before was loaded at Engle. Had the Equator been disposed to send all the ore running over one hundred ounces per ton silver it could have loaded a good many cars.”

The entire issue may be read at: The Black Range newspaper, issue of March 21, 1884.  The file is 2.6 MB in size.



The U.S. Treasury headframe by Henry A. Schmidt.


Sometimes things are not as bad as they seem at first glance.  The Black Range Newspaper issue of March 28, 1884 proves that point.  At first glance it appears that much of the news is lost - and some is, but most of it is there.  There is a portion of a column removed from page 2 (and thus from page 1, as well) and the right hand side of page three is missing (and the left hand side of page four).  But most of the local news generally appears on the left hand side of page three.  The right hand side of page three and all of page four are typically dedicated to ads, legal notices, and (recently) a humor column.  Rather than despair at the “loss of history” our understanding of the paper as it has changed allows a more accurate assessment of what may be missing.

To reinforce the above assessment, page one is dedicated to ads and humor pieces.  Page Two is typically dedicated to regional and national news, here are a few tidbits from that page (all are direct quotes - except our comments as Ed. Notes):

“There In no danger of contagious disease reaching this remote region.  Even the small-pox which has ravaged the territory annually has never made its way into this section of the Black Range.”  (Ed. Note - Apparently the Black Range Newspaper editor has a short memory, having reported on small pox in the area previously.  And like most boosters he wants to have it both ways, either the Black Range is the center of the universe or it is a remote region - has to be one or the other.)

“Kit Joy one of the train robbing, jail breaking murderers, of Grant County was captured near Slayboy’s place on the upper Gila last Friday.  Joy was armed only with a shot gun and three ranchmen with long range rifles shot him on the run effected his capture. He was taken to Silver City.”

“The artes (sic - ed: “rates”) from El Paso to the City of Mexico via the Mexican Central railroad as established are: first class, $59.25; second class $39.55; emigrant $29.55.  This is in Mexican Silver, American money is at fifteen cents premium. The distance is 1,224 miles and the time consumed on the trip is four and a half days.” (Ed. Note: Several things of note in this fare schedule.  The exchange rate between the U.S. and Mexico is pretty much the same (15% premium for U.S.) and is most likely based on the silver content of the relative coinage.  Secondly, the reduced emigrant rate reflects an international attitude quite different from that which exists today.  And, lastly, 4.5 days from El Paso to Mexico City, in relative comfort is pretty good travel time for 1884.  The current bus rate for the journey is from $107 to $140 USD depending on the day of the week.)

“The Apache Indians who engineered the last ‘war’ in Arizona have returned to the San Carlos agency and no Charley McComas is with them.  They say that the boy was lost at the battle in the Sierra Madres mountains with General Crook and the statement is generally credited.  The Indians brought back with them 125 head of cattle which were undoubtedly stolen and an attempt of the custom house authorities to collected duty or take the animals as smuggled property met with the antagonism of both the Indians and the United States military.  Evidently the red man has rights that the white has not, beside the free license to rob and murder without being held accountable to anybody.”  

“The treaty between the United States and Mexico which was arranged by Gen. Grant has been reconsidered by the United States Senate and passed by a vote of forty-one to twenty. The raw products of Mexico which are admitted duty free under this treaty are nearly all on the free list already, the exceptions being hemp, low-grade sugar and leaf tobacco. We shall now be able, however, to export machinery, agricultural implements, rail way equipments, steam engines, road vehicles, pumps, tools, water pipes, bricks, tiles, petroleum, clocks, and quicksilver, on all of which important duties and state charges are removed. Under the generous provisions of this treaty, our trade with Mexico, which is now only about $16,000,000 in exports and $8,000,000 in imports, should very largely increase.”

“The county of Sierra made up of slices from Grant, Dona Ana, and Socorro counties with Hillsboro as the count seat, passed the house bust is lodged in the council against petitions from Dona Ana and Socorro counties, and is likely to remain there.”

From Page Three

“The Buffom ore concentrates twelve tons into one...The Buffom is taking a temporary rest.”

“The Silver Monument ore concentrates fifteen tons into one.”

“The Monte Christo mine has ceased operations for the present.  The stoppage is expected to but temporary.”

“The force on the American Flag has been doubled and eight men are now engaged in taking out ore on this remarkable property.”

“Major Day has a Joplin whim on the way hither from Carthage, Missouri, to put upon the German mine, and when it arrives active operations, will be resumed on this property.  Every body will rejoice to see it.”

“The St. Cloud mine is sending to the concentrator seven or eight tons of ore daily, and not hurrying itself either.  If the ore continues to come in as it is now the concentrator will either have to run faster or build additional ore bins.  The indications are that the ore supply will increase rather than diminish as time rolls on.”

Portions of the remaining items of interest are missing.

© Robert Barnes 2018-2023