Pioneer Story of William E. Kimbrell

During the Great Depression from 1936 to 1940 there was a WPA Writers' Project which paid local authors to interview older local citizens and then write up a report (called a "manuscript") of each interview so that oral histories of pioneers would be collected and preserved.

Edith L. Crawford of Carrizozo worked for this Project, and on August 9, 1936 she interviewed William E. Kimbrell of Carrizozo. The manuscript she wrote after her interview is now archived at the Library of Congress. Here is her report of what Mr. Kimbrell (who was 61 years old in 1936) told her.

I was born at Picacho, Lincoln County, New Mexico, on July 16, 1877, and have lived all of my life in Lincoln County. I attended the public schools near home and for one term of nine months I went to the New Mexico Military Institute, at Roswell.

I was the youngest son of George and Paulita (Romero) Kimbrell. My father was born in Huntsville, Arkansas, March 31, 1842. He went to Colorado with the Pike's Peak Crowd in 1859, with two of his friends. They traveled by freight wagons, and paid for their board and transportation by doing odd jobs for the freighters. He got sick while working in Colorado and in 1860 he left there to come to New Mexico. He came on an ox train and landed in Las Vegas.

He did any kind of work he was able to do there until he regained his health. He left there in 1863 and came to Fort Stanton and worked there for a while as a government scout. In 1864 he squatted on a place on the Chaves Flats, about twelve miles east of Lincoln where he farmed and raised cattle. He raised lots of corn and freighted it to Fort Stanton by ox team and sold it for ten dollars a "fanega" (which was one hundred and fifty pounds).

The Indians stole all his cattle but his oxen and he had to do all of his farm work and plowing with his oxen. He married my mother in 1864. My mother's people came from Manzano, but I do not remember the date. My father and mother lived on the Chaves Flats until 1877 when they moved to Picacho, and homesteaded on one hundred and sixty acres. He lived on this place until he died on March 25, 1924.

He had lived in Lincoln County sixty-one years at the time of his death. He served as Justice of the Peace in his precinct for a great many years. He was elected sheriff of Lincoln County and took oath of office on January 1, 1879 and served until December 31, 1880. He succeeded George W. Peppin, who was appointed by the County Commissioners in 1878 to fill out the unexpired term of William Brady, who was killed by Billy the Kid.

The Lincoln County War was just about over when Father went in office, but it was during his term that Billy the Kid came in and surrendered. Father never took sides with either faction during the war. He ran against Pat Garrett for sheriff in November, 1880 and Pat Garrett defeated him by one hundred and forty votes. There were only five hundred votes cast in this election.

I was married to Virginia Romero on January 1, 1904. We have nine children, six girls and three boys, all living in Lincoln County at this time.

I have been County Clerk of Lincoln County, serving for two terms (eight years) from January 1, 1905 to December 31, 1908. I was Probate Judge for two terms, from January 1, 1915 to December 31, 1919, and was County Assessor for two terms, from January 1, 1931 to December 31, 1934. I have served as Deputy County Assessor for the past four years. I still own the old homestead at Picacho that my father filed on in 1877, and call it home, as I live there when I am not working in the county seat of Lincoln County.

To read more manuscripts, point your browser to:

http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/wpaintro/nmcat.html

and for more about the history of little-known and lesser-known places

in New Mexico, visit:

http://www.huntel.com/~artpike/