Bullets, ballots and bloodshed continued

Photo courtesy John M. Motter, Margaret Daugaard
Jose Donaciano Archuleta.

We are describing the battle between whites and Hispanics for political control of Archuleta County following creation of the county in 1885.

Last week, we quoted from the memoirs of a man named John Taylor describing his involvement in the bullets, ballots and bloodshed days of our county history. Continuing from last week with Taylor’s narrative:

“When the next election came E.T. Walker and I were sent to Conejos. We helped to defeat the Archuleta candidate for the legislature and I put in nomination Billy Adams for his [Motter: The incumbent was A.D. Archuleta] office and he was elected. The fight in Archuleta County was fierce and hot. Maurice Brown and I on that election went to the Archuleta precinct and challenged 334 votes that lived over the line in New Mexico. Marcelone (Marcelino) Archuleta accepted them all as legal. Sheriff Dyke had deputized me to bring the box to Pagosa. To reach there we had to ford the San Juan. My horse lost his footing and in this way the ballot box was lost. It never reached Pagosa and we elected all officers except that of County Clerk E.M. Taylor, good fellow and an unbeatable politician.

“This was the election of 1886, Robert Chambers was elected County Commissioner; John Loflene (Laughlin), Treasurer; Charles Loucks, Assessor; Barzillai Price, Country Judge; Judd Hallett, Sheriff; E.M.Taylor, Clerk and Recorder.

“Previous to this, when the Commissioners were in session, 100 of us led by E.T. Walker, who carried a hat box with a rope in it, forced the commissioners to resign. The governor reappointed them. At their next meeting Benedito Martinez led a hundred armed Mexicans to the old soldier’s barracks, about the same number of us were at the courthouse armed, it looked as though blood would be shed but the bravery of Sheriff Dyke led to a settlement of our differences and Pagosa has ever since been an orderly town.”

Also involved in this conflict at this time was Charles A. Siringo, a detective for the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

In his book, “A Cowboy Detective,” he says Pagosa Springs was his first assignment by the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He says he rode the train into Durango, where he rented a horse that he rode to Pagosa Springs, where he used an assumed name to investigate what was going on in Pagosa Springs.

Next week, I’ll quote from Siringo’s book. There is a street in Albuquerque called Siringo Street. There is more, much more, to come.