A 1895 Look at Mormon Settlements in Mexico. Isaac Turley visits.



Edward Stevenson Among Mormon
Settlements in Mexico

Colonia, Pacheco., Mexico, Dec. 14th, 1895

To the Editor:
On Tuesday, the 10th of December, Elder F. M. Lyman, of the council of Apostles, President Anthony Ivins of the Juarez Stake of Zion, and myself, with Elder Isaac Turley, son of our old veteran Theodore Turley, and Peter C. Wood, who volunteered with outfits of horses and carriages, took our departure from Juarez to Pacheco, 25 miles up in the mountains, in the midst of the pine forests, the home of deer and turkeys.

Crossing the river over the mill dam of Patriarch William R. Stowell, we traveled over a rising bench of open country of gravelly ground 12 miles. Abundance of grass was the only object of Interest, except at a distance, are the black looking mountains, not high ones, but very peculiar.

About three years ago I passed through the republic of Mexico, from El Paso, Texas, to the City of Mexico, and now, so far as I have seen the works of nature from Deming to this place, the mountains are of a similar character to those elsewhere in Mexico—broad plains, and mountains most always barren, looming up in the distance. Here is one exception, where timber is to be seen from our very nice roadway.

Our teamster, who has traversed these plains and mountains in Indian and Mexican raids, tells me that down in the valley is much better land, but as is the case with tens of thousands of acres in the entire country, no (aqua, the Mexicans call it) water. In all this I can see a providence, for when the time comes for the remnants of the land to become civilized and favored of God, the land will then be open for their use, heaven will smile upon them, and the former and latter rains will make the land fruitful, as has been the case in Utah.

When the Lord smiles upon Laman this country with its mild climate will become famous, and will furnish homes for a great body of people. I look forward to a time when our colonists will rejoice in the foundation they have laid, and are laying, for a greater work to follow.

After our twelve miles’ ride we come into oak timber, and a canyon, ascending twelve and a half miles to a mesa, where there is a variety of black oak, white oak and pine. The oaks are short, with long arms spreading over a broad surface. The pine timber is tall, is fine saw timber, and very abundant; we also noticed some juniper and ash, but a limited supply.

At the mouth of the gorge, which is called San Diego canyon, there is a stock ranch, one of twenty owned by Louise Terrasaus Bros., who own 1,000,000 head of cattle. Many thousands of them are being sold this season. This year is proverbial for the sale of cattle, which thrive on the millions of acres of plains and hills of Mexico.

The large ranches are known by monuments erected, often by mountain tops, as, for instance, Juarez, one of our largest colonies in this republic, was pointed out as we approached the cozy colony in a large hollow (in Utah we would call it a canyon) our carriage Driver, W. C. Stowell, and one of the leading men who has with so much energy made this place, hard as it has been, to bloom into a garden town, said:

“Well, do you see that high topped mountain?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And also that high point so far away is another direction?”

“Certainly I can; it is so noticeable.”

“Well, that is the line of Juarez; and, over there, and again still on that other prominent point is our bounds.”

“But where is your town?”

“You will see it pretty soon, as we go down that dugway.”

And so we did, and a very pretty little place it is, but too much crowded; there is good reason for being thus crowded up into the canyon. Just below the present town there is a beautiful large plain and old ditches, no one can tell how old they are. They lead from the river on which the town is situated. This large plain was some of it plowed, water taken on to it, a liberty pole erected, but finally the monument line cut this plain off; it is proverbial, however, that the Mormons have made homes a success even of the odds, ends and barren wastes. The Mexicans marvel to see here a fruit cannery, a tannery, grist mill, fruit, lumber, etc. There is hope that this plain will be annexed to this thriving hard earned town. I will predict that it will finally become connected therewith.

Returning again to those pine hills, boundary lines are pointed out on those large ranches as we pass through the woods, and occasionally a small stream and over still another high hill, where we see, over the timber, monumental lines many miles away.

There is a custom in Mexico, that ranchers have to brand their stock, which run at large, and roam miles away often mixing on each other’s ranches. Occasionally there is a roundup, so called. The stock is bunched, or gathered together. Many join in these exciting times and generally generosity is indulged in, each rancher taking his brand. All unmarked stock falls to the ranch on which it is found. Stock until lately has been of but little value. But now prices have raised and round-ups and croves are to be seen on every hand, with money often changing hands.

Our thirty-five mile ride (some of it considered rather dangerous) was concluded. Pachecs is 7,000 feet elevation, subject to heavy rains in July and August. So much so that the wheat sometimes grows in the field, in the stack, and it has been known to sprout while it was still standing unharvested. Frosts sometimes trouble them. Potatoes and corn are generally a success. Advantages of the peculiarities of the country are being studied, and through the blessings of an allwise Creator, success is anticipated. One source of success is the abundance of saw timber.

The little town is in an opening surrounded with millions of pines. It does appear really sublime and picturesque. Going to the meeting place prepared for us in a stockade we passed through a pair of the strongest and highest gate posts I ever saw. They were about 20 inches in diameter and 80 feet high and were deeply and strongly set, just as naturally as they could grow into two great pines of the forest. The meeting house was of fine logs mostly, and 46×21 feet.

We also had meetings in Round Valley, ten miles above, called Colonia Garcia, elevation 7,300 feet and about 1,500 acres of land, clear, rich soil suitable to raise grain, corn and beans. The town is on the east side of a circular valley, skirted by tail pines, and near the continental divide where the waters flow northeast to the Atlantic, and southwest to the Pacific. It is a clear, fine climate, pure water and pine timber seemingly inexhaustible, and so far away from any other settlements that it is perfectly quiet and peaceful. The most excellent meetings were held after which ordinations and blessing some afflicted ones sought, that the outpouring of God’s Spirit followed.

Sleeping at Brother Byran Allred’s and feasting with Alonzo Farnsworth and Patriarch A. F. McDonald on wild turkeys, which abound here, was enjoyable. One man boasts of bringing a horse load of wild turkeys in at one time, fourteen fine, fat turkeys. Forty or fifty are to be seen in a flock in the pine woods. George Lunt told me he killed ten wild deer in twelve shots.

Chuachupa, another town about thirty miles farther on, in the pines, is being settled up by Mormons. Future developments will give us a better history of this beautiful, mild climate, which is much admired.

After our meetings and labors in the ministry, we turned our backs on one of the most admirable round valleys of Mexico. Elder Lyman and President Ivins having gone over a terrible rough road to Senora, a very small branch where Parson Williams resides, about 100 miles away, I remained, holding meetings in these mountain regions and returned to Juarez, where a meeting is to be held and a lecture is to be delivered on “The mission and life of Joseph Smith,” the anniversary of whose birth will be observed at Diaz, at a conference at that place on the 22nd and 23rd of December, 1895. Our brethren who have gone to Sonora will meet there; also Elder George Teasdale.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

Thank you for visiting! I hope you enjoy the things shared here.
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