Tuesday, September 19, 2023

He Built It With His Hands - My Tio Guillermo Padilla

Most of the time I write posts about ancestors who I never had the pleasure of meeting because they lived long ago. Today I am writing about my Tio Guillermo Padilla. AKA Maquela, Maquel, Mac or Max McGee. He had so many nicknames because he was a character. I think Maquel liked flying under the radar, living in Puerto de Luna, however, he wasn't hard to miss. The other day I wrote a poem about him, inspired by a conversation I had with my cousin, Tony Dodge while having lunch with him and his wife Sharon in San Antonio. He described how Maquel built his rock walls. He would place a rock on top of the wall he was building and sit back and light a cigarette and look at it. Then he would ever so slightly move to rock and take another puff off of his cigarette.

Guillermo Padilla
Maquela, Maquel, Mac or Max McGee

Guillermo Padilla was born June 8, 1913 in Puerto de Luna, New Mexico. He died March 10, 1985. He was an eccentric man with many talents. He was a musician, an artist and a rock mason. I didn't like him as a child because I didn't understand him. Now I understand. Now I think he probably would have been described as being neurodivergent because of his social preferences and the fact that he was very talented in certain creative areas. I recognize this because I too am neurodivergent. I am thinking there could be a genetic element.

This is a painting I did of the adobe house in Puerto de Luna
where Guillermo lived most of his life.

Maquel was my mom's older brother. He never married. He lived 12 miles from Santa Rosa in Puerto de Luna most of his life, except when he was in the army. He was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas for basic training, then he went to Egypt and Italy, where he was honorably discharged due to a medical issue. From what I understand, he came back from WWII with what is now known as post traumatic stress disorder. I have a feeling many returned from WWII with PTSD, a very real disorder when one has experienced something as shocking and dangerous as WWII.

The other day after I wrote the poem about Mac, I posted it on Facebook and I was surprised to see the response I got from cousins who had memories of him when they were young. My cousin, Patrick Padilla said that my post brought back fond memories. One summer Patrick's father, Floyd Padilla, forced him to help Tio Maquel build a rock wall around their yard. He said he would never forget driving to Puerto de Luna in his old flatbed truck to get the rock for the job. He said he was amazed at how he knew just where to hit the large sandstones near the river with his pickaxes in order to break off chunks of rock for the wall. He also said he had always wished he could have learned more about masonry from Maquel but it was hard work and he was too young to care. I didn't know until then that Maquel actually quarried his one stones! He quarried sandstone, smooth river granite stones and even petrified wood. He was an amazing mason.Watching him piece together a wall was a beautiful thing. I remembered that we had a pile of petrified wood on the side of our house that my dad was sort of proud of. He would move the pile to mow the grass and carefully please it back in the middle of the side yard. To anyone else, it was just a pile of rocks.

This is my grandson Dylan standing in front of my
parents house in Amarillo, TX in 2010.
This is the only photo I could find of the
rock flower bed Maquel built in front of the porch.

This is one of Maquel's walls at the entrance of Park Lake
in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Guillermo Padilla on the left playing accordion

Guillermo Padilla playing accordion in Puerto de Luna

My dad Felipe Fajardo and Guillermo Padilla

And the beauty of it all was that he wasn't just a rock mason. He was also an artist and a musician. I started painting horses in the early 1990's and it wasn't until my brother Phillip saw one of them and told me it looked like one of Uncle Mac's that I remembered his horsed that drew and mine look just like his.

My daughter Adriane wearing one of my
"Two Ladies on Horses" T-Shirt at an art show in 1993.

"Two Ladies on Horses" T-Shirt painted by Christina Fajardo 1993 

I've been told that the wait staff put a black ribbon around the booth where Mac used to sit and drink coffee at his favorite restaurant in Santa Rosa. I don't know that for a fact because I was living in Austin with 2 children in 1985. It's good to know that your DNA lives on Uncle Mac. My son's nick name was Big Mac for a little while and he wore it proudly and used to make Instagram posts of Mac that were pretty funny.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Bubbles Up! RIP Jimmy Buffett

A week ago today I received the sad news that Jimmy Buffett had passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends. Reading the tributes to him this week has been heart warming and inspiring. I read a post on Facebook that said "Wouldn't you know that Jimmy would go out in pure Jimmy Buffett style at the beginning of the the long Labor Day weekend?"

I don't remember exactly what day it was this week that I was out on my patio watering my plates, cutting back dead leaves and talking on the phone to Christian. I looked up and there was a bright yellow parrot flying around in front of my patio and landed in the tree and sat there for a while. I came back inside and then thought to myself "That was a yellow parrot! OMG was that Jimmy's spirit making his rounds, telling everyone goodbye?

Synchronicities always call my attention to what I am doing in the moment and gives greater meaning to life. On Sunday, September 3, I was preparing food for Adriane's birthday party. I was reminiscing about that hot day in 1977, at the end of the summer, September 3rd. It was 5 days past my due date. What were the chances that I would go into labor on the Labor Day weekend? So on Sunday, as I was preparing food, listening to Spotify, Jimmy Buffett's song "Come Monday" randomly started playing. I was floored since Jimmy passed away just 2 days prior. I have heard that song a million times since its release in 1974, the year my brother, Phillip became Jimmy's drummer. I mindlessly sang along with the song for over 40 years. On Sunday it had a whole new meaning. Still in shock that Jimmy passed away, I heard the lyrics in a whole new light. The song was written on the Labor Day weekend, 3 years before Adriane was born. There I was cooking and I singing along:

Headin' out to San Francisco
For the Labor Day weekend show
I got my Hush Puppies on
I guess I never was meant for glitter rock 'n' roll
And honey,
I didn't know that I'd be missin' you so
Come Monday, it'll be alright
Come Monday, I'll be holdin' you tight
I love the way the Universe gives us gentle little nudges as reminders that we do in fact carry on and remain. I love my life.

Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy built an amazingly successful career with his stellar upbeat, colorful live performances with a devoted fan base of "Parrotheads" equal to the "Grateful Dead's" fan base of "Dead Heads." The nickname originated at a 1985 concert. What does it mean to be a "Parrothead?" It means you are probably a baby boomer, a fan of Jimmy Buffett's music and the laid-back, beachy lifestyle he promoted.He became a billionaire because he recognized something big was happening amongst his fans before, during and after his shows and capitalized on it. Women with coconut bras and men with parrot hats and Hawaiian shirts. He capitalized on it by building a lifestyle brand around the attitude his artistry encompassed. It was genius!

In 1975, Jimmy formed the first Coral Reefer Band. My brother, Phillip was the drummer in that band. This is a video of the first Coral Reefer Band that year.

Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band

My favorite part of this video is at the beginning when Jimmy gets off of the bus and tries to kiss my brother, Phillip. RIP Jimmy.

Jimmy Buffett in Austin 1975

The band was the opening act for the Eagles in August of 1975. The album "Havana Daydreamin'" was released in January 1976. My brother played drums on that album.

In January 1977, "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" was released. It featured his breakthrough hit song "Margaritaville" Jimmy said he wrote most of the song in six minutes.

Jimmy opened his first successful "Margaritaville" retail store in Key West, Florida in 1985. There are now restaurants, vacation clubs, hotels, casinos, restaurant chain, casinos, liquor, a musical and retirement communities with the "Margaritaville" brand. I'm pretty sure I would love living at a "Latitude Margaritaville" retirement community.

Jimmy was one of the world's richest musicians, with a net worth of about $1 billion. He was also a bestselling author. Over and above his ability to spread the love and show his gratitude, he cared about the environment. He donated funds and time to "Singing for Change," "The Manatee Club," "Last Mango Boatworks" and more. Jimmy Buffett was a true artist, inspiring millions to sing, dance, and take it easy. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Christina's Magic

Today is August 20, 2023. I was pondering the date this morning with my cup of coffee, remembering that 22 years ago today my father passed away. I think of my dad daily. I hear his voice saying his funny little sayings. He is forever with me. On the other end of that spectrum, 32 years ago today I had a beautiful love song written about me called "Christina's Magic." That song had such an impact on me that I named my art business "Christina's Magic."

My niece's husband, Mario, jokingly asked me once if I had a playlist of all the songs that have been written about me. I laughed and replied, "Unfortunately, no." Most of the songs were written before iTunes or Spotify were invented. The bands had split up, some of the song writers have died or they are married and they can't possibly record those love songs written about a woman in their past. You know the story. The box of cassette tapes, lyrics and love letters in a back of my closet that will remain there until the day I die.

I have the original handwritten copy of "Christina's Magic" tucked away in a photo album with a few photos to remind me of a magical time in my life. It was the summer of 1991. I lived in far south Austin, off of Slaughter Lane. August 20 was a Saturday andas usual, I had been on the drag selling my art at the 23rd Street Artist Market all day. 

23rd Street Artist Market

This is a photo of the 23rd Street Artist Market.
I served on the board at the market. I got my job
at the Austin American Statesman in Dec of 1991,
 when I went in to place an ad
for the 
23rd Street Artist Market.

After all of us artists packed up our artwork for the day, one of my fellow artist friends and I walked across the street to the Cactus Cafe to see Jimmy LaFave. During the intermission, I walked outside to sit by the water fountain. A handsome stranger with a leather vest and cowboy hat walked over and sat close by. He had a Chronicle in his hand and said "Hi, I am Daniel, I'm new to Austin and wondering if you could show me some other places in this rag to go hear good music." I moved closer to him and introduced myself. We looked through the Chronicle, I circled a few interesting attractions and we went back inside. I sat next to my friend and I saw Daniel hanging out at the bar. He then walked over, sat next to and asked me if I wanted a drink. He came back with my drink and whispered in my ear "This is going to make a great love song." I said "What is?" He replied "How I am going to steal you away from your boyfriend." I giggled and said "It's not going to be a very long song." After the show he and I went out for coffee at Kerby Lane. I then took him to his hotel and we laid on his bed talking and laughing. It was one of the most romantic nights I had ever had. I went home at sun rise and later that afternoon he called me and told me I had left my earrings on his night stand and wondered if I would be interested in going out that night. He told me later that he was pretty sure I had purposely left them there so he would have to call me. Ha! When I arrived at his room he told me he had written a song about me and then sang it. I was completely floored.

Christina’s Magic

She sent Billy Doss from somewhere near Waco

He gave me a message from the lady Christine

Just like a snake I slipped from my past

Rode down on the back of a gold eagle’s wing

We landed in Austin then out of the shadows

Like a dervish she swirled and danced in my dreams

Christina slips off her synthetic see-through

And takes me to places I’ve never been

We ride on the slipstream, me and Christina

I told her I’ve loved her for lifetimes it seems.

She weaves her magic on a desert mandala

Her cluster of blessings are hidden by pain

Dark angel’s hair rolls down streaked like sunset

Lips sliced like peaches drive me insane

Standing on crystal here at the crossroads 

Waiting for lightening to strike twice again

Christina’s magic is old and it’s ancient  

My mother of mercy brings new life to me

We ride on the slipstream, me and Christina

I told her I loved her for lifetimes it seems

Thunder clouds gather 

Christina’s passion drives tears from heaven 

Down to the sea

The scarlet red dawning dances on trinkets

Treasures Christina has left for me

Christina’s magic is old, very ancient  

My mother of mercy brings new life to me

We ride on the slipstream, me and Christina

I told her I loved her for lifetimes it seems

Written by Daniel Rudick

August 20, 1991, 8:00 am

The crazy thing is that he wrote this song hours after we had met yet it was a prophecy of what was to happen. First of all he mentioned the earrings I left behind "The scarlet red dawning dances on trinkets, treasures Christina has left for me."

He didn't know that I made hand made dream catchers to sell at the artist market yet he wrote "She weaves her magic on a desert mandala." I wondered how this man from Vancouver Island knew me, how we could feel each other's souls just by touching hands. It was magical.

Daniel and Christina, South Congress Ave., 1991

Christina, South Congress Ave., 1991

Daniel at Las Manitas Avenue Cafe 

Christina and Daniel, 1991

Maybe a month after we had met, he was staying at my house and we walked to the corner store one evening to get a "Clearly Canadian" to drink. On the walk home, it started to rain and thunder. He said he had never seen rain drops that big. We were standing on the street corner waiting for the light to change and lightning struck twice and the thunder was so loud it shook us. In his song, he wrote "Standing on crystal here at the crossroads, waiting for lightening to strike twice again" Again, the synchronicities were truly magical. How had he seen into our future?

Daniel writing a song on the stairway at my house.
We are both left handed and Taurus

Daniel at the Broken Spoke on South Lamar

I can't even remember how long Daniel's stay in Austin was. It seemed like a lifetime. As he had even written in the song "I've told her I've loved her for lifetimes, it seems." Maybe a week or so after his arrival he asked me if I could take him to the train station to pick up his friend, Billy Doss, who he had met on the train on the way from Canada to Texas. Billy had gotten off of the train in Waco to see his mother. We picked him up and took him to his cool little house on the east side of IH35 at Woodward. He lived in the coolest little house. Looking back, it seems that the three of us spent a century in Billy's front yard drinking coffee and writing songs. 

Billy Doss and Daniel Rudick 1991

Daniel had to go back to Canada with plans to return. He called me one week to the minute after he left and reminded me that he had been gone a week. He did that for a while, always starting the conversation with how long he had been gone and how much he missed me. Life got in the way and he never returned yet Billy and I remained life long friends. Years later Daniel called and told me he that his new band, "Jack N Lefty" had recorded "Christina's Magic" He sent me a copy of it. Needless to say, I was distraught to realize his band was a duo and more importantly, that he had changed the lyrics to my love song. I asked him why he had changed it and he simply said "poetic license." We never spoke again.

Click here to listen to the updated version he recorded.

The magic died in this version of the song. I was perplexed to realize that when he returned to Canada he had once again, just like a snake, slipped from his past. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Lucien Bonaparte (Luciano) Maxwell - Sept 14, 1818 - July 25,1875

The other day I was discussing my ancestry with a friend and they asked if I knew anything about Lucien Maxwell. I thought to myself, "Where do I begin?" Lucien Maxwell's life read like an old western story, because it was one of the best. 

Lucien Bonaparte (Luciano) Maxwell 

Lucien Bonaparte (Luciano) Maxwell was born on Sept 14, 1818, in Kaskaskia, Illinois, just south of St Louis and just west of the Mississippi River. He was the son of Hugh Maxwell, an Irish immigrant and Odile Menard, a French Canadian. 

Lucien's grandfather, Pierre Menard, was the first Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois. Lucien's parents were from neighboring towns of Kaskaskia, Illinois and Ste Genevieve, Missouri. I have always taken notice of ancestors who came from this area because my son his two children live St Louis and we have visited Ste Genevieve. It is the oldest permanent European settlement in Missouri.

Lucien's father and grandfather had trading businesses so it was only natural that the skills of fur trade were instilled in him. His father died at age 43 and Lucien went to St. Mary’s of the Barrens School for 2 years. At the age of 17, he left school and moved west. He was employed by the American Fur Company which had been purchased by a relative, Auguste Chouteau. While trapping in the Rockies Luciano met Kit Carson. They became friends for life. 

Lucien and Kit were in Taos for an annual fur trade fair. Lucien met a French Canadian merchant named Carlos Hippolito Trottier Beaubien. Carlos was married to Maria Paula Lovato. She was from a wealthy Hispanic family in Taos (she was my cousin on both sides of her family) Her parents were Buenaventura de Jesus Valdez (my 2nd cousin 6 generations ago) and Maria Juana Catarina Lovato my 2nd cousin 4 generations ago)

Luciano occasionally worked at Beaubien’s store and while working there, he met Beaubien’s daughter, María de la Luz Beaubien. At about the same time, his friend Kit Carson met Josefa Jaramillo, the daughter of a prominent, well-respected merchant father, Francisco Jaramillo and her mother, Maria Apolonia Vigil, who owned many acres in the Rio Grande area.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
Taos, NM

On March 27, 1842, Luciano and Kit had a double wedding at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church next to Taos Plaza. Luciano married the beautiful, young, dark haired, hazel eyed Luz Beaubien and Kit married the beautiful, young, dark haired Josefa Jaramillo. The event was hosted by Josefa's older sister Ignacia and her husband, Charles Bent.

Both girls just happened to be from my large, prosperous Hispanic family. 

Maria de la Luz Beaubien’s 3rd great grandfather, Jose Luis Valdez was my 7th great grandfather. 

Josefa Jaramillo was related to me on both sides of her family. Her maternal great great grandfather, Domingo Montes Vigil was my 5th great grandfather. Her father, Francisco Estevan Jaramillo was my 2nd cousin 4x removed.

As a wedding gift, Luz's parents gave the couple 15,000 acres of the Miranda-Beaubien Land Grant which consisted in part the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

Charles Beaubien died in 1864. He left his share of the grant to his six children. However, Lucien and Luz bought out the other five heirs for amounts ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 dollars over the next five years, paying a total of $35,245 for 1,714,765 acres. They became the largest landowners in the world. They renamed the property "The Maxwell Land Grant" with headquarters in Cimarron.

Land grants have been an ongoing controversy in New Mexico for centuries. This one was no exception. The land was inhabited. In the 1800s, northern New Mexico and southern Colorado was the territory of the Apache and Ute Indians, later the Comanche. Development involved displacement and provoked violent confrontations between settlers and the native inhabitants.

It was such a crazy time in this continent's history. Soon after their weddings, Luciano and Kit Carson signed up with John C. Fremont for western expeditions. Fremont's explorations of the West in the 1840s were undertaken with the sponsorship of the United States government to expand the boundaries of the country, to make maps for Americans who wanted to settle in the area, and to notify Great Britain and Mexico that the U.S intended to expand its borders. Carson served as guide and Maxwell as chief hunter. 

Meanwhile, back home in Taos, Kit's brother-in-law, Charles Bent had been appointed Governor of the New Mexico territory during the Mexican-American War by the Americans. An Anglo American government rule came as a culture shock to the Native Americans who had lived on the land for centuries and then coexisted with Hispanic people during the Spanish colonization and then possession by Mexico. In January, 1847, protesting of the American's possession of the territory, the Taos Revolt broke out and an angry mob mob attacked the home of Charles Bent. They murdered his guards, and then assassinated and scalped Charles Bent, dragging Bent’s mangled body through the streets of Taos. The mob called for a full-scale rebellion against the American occupation and by the end of the evening, 15 others had been killed including Josefa's brother, Pablo Jaramillo and  Luz Beaubien’s 13 year old brother, Narcisco Beaubien. Ignacia and Josefa begged the mob to not kill them. Luz’s grandfather, Buenaventura de Jesus Valdez entered the Bent house too late to save Charles Bent but he intervened and saved the women and children. The attackers left, leaving the family in a state of shock. They went to stay with Luz’s grandparents, Maria Juana Catarina Lovato and Buenaventura De Jesus Valdez for three days until they could escaped to Santa Fe. Luciano returned to New Mexico, just as the Taos Revolt ended. 

After the American takeover of New Mexico, Kit Carson and 
Luciano moved their families to Rayado, on the southern portion of the land grant. They built a trading post and supply station for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. 

Lucien Maxwell House in Rayado, New Mexico

In 1848 they were doing a very prosperous business as a merchant and contractor for the troops. A small army post existed at Rayado from 1847 to 1850. The other grantee of the land grant, Guadalupe Miranda sought refuge near El Paso after the American invasion and didn't return to New Mexico, eventually selling his portion of the grant to Maxwell. When Luciano's father-in-law, Carlos Beaubien died, Lucien bought out the rest of the family and became sole owner of the Maxwell Land Grant. It took two acts of Congress to validate his ownership.

Luciano and Luz's first child, Peter, was born in 1848, followed by siblings Virginia, Emilia, Sofia, Paulita, Odile. By 1851, about 20 families had settled at Rayado. 

I have extremely mixed emotions about this chapter of my family history, as I do most chapters. Simply because I had ancestors on both sides of the aisle. However, it's an informative history lesson and considering our county's current state of affairs with Mexico, it's a history lesson worth knowing. I really do believe that memories are carried in our DNA and I believe our purpose is to learn from mistakes and whatever we don't learn is carried on for generations. That is why I do ancestry research. I want to know what I am working with. I have spent years reading about my family history. What I know to be true is that Wikipedia gives a very white washed version, yet when I read Native American websites the story is very different, graphic and real. For instance, the Native websites brought to my attention that official permission to enter the New Mexico Territory to set up trade would have had to come from Mexico City, 1600 miles away. The opening of the Santa Fe Trail not only allowed American traders set up shop illegally, it very conveniently opened up the west to be invaded by the United States from the east. It's obviously that I had family members on both sides of the aisle just as and I have family members on both sides of the aisle today. 

My thoughts .... Greed is ugly and expecting everyone to think like you and share your beliefs is shallow, selfish and ignorant. 

... back to the story...

A decade after the founding of Rayado, the Maxwells moved to a new town, Cimarron at the spot where the Santa Fe Trail forded the Cimarron River, on a 22-square-mile tract they purchased from Luz’s parents. The Maxwells invited other families to settle on their land, but only rarely transferred ownership. Eventually, up to 500, mostly Hispanic, families lived and worked the land.

When Carlos Beaubien died in 1864, his six children inherited his share of the grant. Over the next 5 years Luciano and Luz bought out the other 5 heirs. The Maxwells now owned it in its entirety. They ran some 20,000 sheep, 1,500 cattle, and 400 horses and mules. A gristmill was completed in 1864. They ran a store in Cimarron and bought the Kitchen Brothers Hotel in Las Vegas. They owned a spacious home, with one room reserved for Luciano’s favorite diversion, poker. The Maxwell home in Cimarron was a meeting place for all sorts of people, from sheep herders to Native Americans, from wagon drivers to wealthy lawyers. They prospered, especially during the Civil War, because Maxwell furnished supplies to U.S. Army forces and grain and beef to the Fort Sumner Reservation while Navajos and Mescalero Apaches were interred there. Luciano also served as Indian agent at Cimarron for the Jicarilla Apaches and Utes who lived on and around the grant.

Life on the Maxwell Land Grant might have continued placidly with only moderate changes as the years passed, but it didn't. In 1868 there were signs of gold and a rush was on. The Maxwell-owned Aztec Mine opened. The Aztec produced about a million dollars in gold during its first year of operation. The Maxwell's income in 1868 was about $50,000, a fortune at the time.

In addition to a surge in income, discovery of gold on the grant meant an unprecedented influx of people. Elizabethtown and Red River sprang from nothing to a total population of about 10,000 people almost overnight. Maxwell leased claims to miners, sold them goods at a handsome profit, put up smelters, opened new ditches, built roads and sawmills. But life on the ranch was forever changed. 

Luciano Maxwell

Luciano and Luz realized how valuable the grant had become, and decided to sell and move. In April 1869, they were approached by a group headed by Senator Jerome Chaffee of Colorado seeking to buy the grant. Before Luciano was aware of what happened, he was no longer owner of the grant…receiving only $650,000 for the 1.75 million acres.

Luciano and Luz purchased the abandoned buildings and property of Fort Sumner and moved there. They remodeled the adobe officers’ quarters, creating a luxurious 20-room home, with corrals, storehouses and stables. Accompanying the Maxwells to Fort Sumner were a loyal group of employees, 25-30 Hispanic and Native American families from Cimarron. They established a cattle ranch and built an irrigation system five miles north of the post, including a dam. The 12-foot-wide acequia is more than six miles long with 15 miles of secondary ditches. 

Among his visitors at the new home were such legendary figures as Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight and New Mexico cattle baron John Chisum. But it was a legendary old west outlaw who left his mark most permanently on Maxwell’s home, Billy the Kid.

After the move to Fort Sumner, Lucien turned over most of his business affairs to his only son, Peter. His semi-retirement didn’t last long. He died unexpectedly on July 25, 1875 at the age of 56 of kidney failure. He didn’t leave a will. Luz outlived her husband by 25 years. She was a partner in the Maxwell and Brazil Cattle Company that ran 2,000 cattle on the Fort Union Reservation. Both she and Luciano were buried at Fort Sumner.

Lucien Maxwell's grave
In Old Fort Sumner Cemetery

After Luciano's death, his Fort Sumner mansion became the home of his son, Peter. He continued managing the family's cattle and sheep ranching and was responsible for many employees, but he mostly lived quietly in the shadow of his famous father.

Peter "Pedro" Menard Maxwell

Billy the Kid had long been taken in my the Hispanic families in and around Ft Sumner and Puerto de Luna and “The Kid” and Peter Maxwell were friends. More importantly, Billy knew Pete's sister, Paulita, even better. She is thought to have probably been the main reason Billy stayed so close to Fort Sumner even when he knew that Sheriff Pat Garrett was on his trail.

Paulita Maxwell

Billy the Kid was born on the east side of New York City, in 1859, as Henry McCarty. He moved west with his mother and stepfather, reaching New Mexico in 1873. By 1877, using the name William Bonney, he had killed his first man and launched his brief but colorful career as an outlaw. Over the next 4 years, he became one of the most notorious of the Old West’s outlaws. 

Billy the Kid

There are those who say Pat Garrett didn't kill Billy the Kid. I hope he didn't, however, the movie of 1973 "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" not only had my all time favorite soundtrack but Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge and Bob Dylan starred in the movie. So as the story goes... if you are a believer.... One night July 14, 1881, Garrett burst into Peter Maxwell’s home in Fort Sumner looking for Billy the Kid. He woke Peter and asked him if Billy was around. Just as he was asking, “The Kid,” who was visiting Paulita, sleepily stumbled into Pete’s bedroom and asked "Quien es? Quien es?"  Sheriff Pat Garrett spun around, fired his gun, and killed Billy the Kid on the spot.

The Maxwell House
Ft Sumner, NM

The Maxwell’s house in Fort Sumner would have been significant enough for just having been the final home of the West’s largest land baron, however it gained far greater attention as the place where one of the old west’s most famous outlaws was gunned down.

Legends persist that Billy the Kid was not killed that night, and that Garrett staged it all so the Kid could escape the law. Most people in the area, including my family still see Billy the Kid as a favorite son.

That is my very abbreviated version of how the Maxwells became part of my extended family. It's a story that has been repeated time and time again in my personal  written history for over 500 years ...... A cowboy rides into town, marries into the large, prosperous Hispanic family .... The End.