During one of my early stops in El Paso, I came away with the telephone number of a Maria Lujan. See Blog: Reflections Of An Avid Genealogist In time we became great “Telephone Buddies” and I looked forward to accounts of her life in New Mexico, where she was born.
I was “all ears” from the beginning when she told that her mother had worked for Pat Garrett of “Billy The Kid” fame. Maria, or Pearl as known to those close to her, married into the Fountain family of New Mexico. Her father-in-law was Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain, an Indian Fighter and the defense lawyer for Billy The Kid. Fountain was also a newspaper publisher and a Texas Ranger.
It was at her urging that I visited the Gadsden Museum in La Mesilla, New Mexico. Greeted by Mary Alexander and her husband, I spent a most interesting morning.
The museum, in the old family home, contains just about every item ever owned by the Fountains. Rosaries, hair-combs, Santos (Saints), mantillas, etc… abound.
A copy of the Gadsden Purchase, painted from memory by Pearl’s first husband, hangs on the entry wall. The original is in Washington DC. His paintings of Native Americans, done on animal hides, adorn the walls. A vest belonging to Sam Houston is displayed close to a painting of his niece, Sara Houston. (Sarah is the grandmother of Pearl’s second husband Manuel Lujan.). According to Pearl, her husband Manuel, who hated Sam Houston, (she never told my why) donated the vest.
Curious as to how Sara’s father, a Houston, was related to Sam Houston, I set out to investigate and found nothing. I wrote to an editor who had just written an article on Sam Houston for National Geographic. Did he know of Sam Houston brother? He replied in the negative. It turned out that the information was in my camera all along! Mary Alexander had allowed me to photograph pictures, front and back. One was of that of American Council, John Houston… Sam’s brother!
If you are ever in La Messilla, New Mexico make it a point to visit The Gadsden Museum. You can also view the jail cell that held Billy the Kid in the back yard! And, you might eat at La Posta… one of New Mexico’s best. If you try the Red Chile, you will never forget the experience!