The Books

Schedule a historical tour of Catron County New Mexico and beyond today by calling 575.533.6089 – Apache Creek Old West Tours.  The tours consist of touring the lands and trails of the legends represented in the books including cowboys, Apaches, homesteaders, pioneers, ranchers and more.

“The Books”  Here are some of the books the tours are related to.  They are available at various locations including Amazon.

Reading some of these books is suggested in order to get the idea of what the tours consist of in relation to Catron County and the surrounding locations mentioned in the books.

Recollections of a Western Ranchman by Captain William French – He managed the WS Ranch at Alma, NM in the late 1800’s.  He captured history through various locations including Cox Canyon, Tularosa (Aragon), the old mining town of Mogollon, etc. Catron County would not be the same without this book that makes you feel like you were in old Mogollon, Socorro, Las Cruces, Milligan Plaza or wherever his story takes you.  Interesting humor involved and very well written based upon the opinion of many readers. Recollections of a Western Ranchman

Meet Mr. Grizzly by Montague Stevens – History and bear hunts around Horse Springs and Datil areas.  Does have a sad ending involving his hunting dogs.  Set from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.  Montague Stevens was once part owner of the historical WS Ranch at Alma, NM and also the SU Ranch closer to Frisco Plaza.  Wilson was Steven’s partner on the WS Ranch and Upcher was a partner on the SU Ranch.  Both ranches are very historical locations to the area. He also had a ranch at Horse Springs, NM where he had his main residence during the setting of this book.  He was originally from England and managed to hunt with only one arm after an accidental injury from a gun.

Slash Ranch Hounds by Dub Evans begins his Catron County history at Beaverhead in 1919. Beaverhead was the location of the old V Cross T ranch headquarters and his family bought the western half of this very historical ranch.  The eastern half of the ranch became Red River Land and Cattle Company.  The Beaverhead portion of the ranch (named because it’s at the head of Beaver Creek) later became the Slash Ranch.  Mr. Evans tells his history of ranching and hunting black bear, lion, grizzlies and wolves.  You’ll get to know the area from Magdalena NM to Beaverhead NM where Mr. Evans ranched a few years after the Apache Kid made his presence known in this location. You’ll also get acquainted with his high quality hunting hounds.  Together they protected his livestock from predators.  This is the beginning of the guide and outfitting business in what was soon to become Catron County.

Mogollon Mountain Man by Carolyn O’Bagy Davis about the life of Nat Straw (depicted in the illustration below.) This book is about a man that lived in the Gila Wilderness for around 60 years, all four seasons.  He worked for ranchers hunting bear and lion.  The time period is from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. He didn’t move into civilization until he became too old to take care of himself.  Carolyn O’Bagy Davis did a wonderful job.  It is a well researched book.  Cover illustration is by Grem Lee. Visit Carolyn’s site at

Illustration by Grem Lee

Illustration by Grem Lee

Cow Dust and Saddle Leather by Ben Kemp – Lots of local history from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.  This book is sometimes hard to find but well worth looking for.  One of the staples of Catron County history.  You will learn where many canyons, peaks and landmarks obtained their names.  Lots of historical information on Beaver Creek, Magdalena, the Quemado area and all points between.  One of Catron County’s most valuable history books. Click here to see the youtube video of the Ben Kemp Sr. Homestead in Catron County, NM

Black Range Tales by James A. McKenna – Full of history of Kingston, Hillsboro, the Black Range Mountains, Silver City, Cook’s Peak, Deming, etc.  Written by a man that lived in the times of the boom towns and spent time creeping around through the mountains and canyons of the wilderness so as not to alert the Apaches that were on the warpath.  This book is full of historical information especially related to mining and prospecting during the days of Victorio, Geronimo, Nana, Loco and other famed Apaches.

These Also Served by Susan Lee – This is another one that can be hard to find but lots of local history on different families with various location settings throughout Catron County but mostly the Reserve area.  Plenty of photos.

William Riley Milligan and his family as written about in "These Also Served"

William Riley Milligan and his family as written about in “These Also Served”


“From the Top of the Mountain  Pie Town, New Mexico and Neighbors!”  by Kathryn McKee Roberts, who came from Texas at an early age and grew up at Pie Town.
The book is named for the big Alegra Mountain, which means ‘Happy Mountain’.
It is so named because of all the schools, post offices, cemeteries, homesteads, and ranches mentioned in it, they could all be seen “from the top of the mountain”.  It has the history of Pie Town, NM from its very beginnings, as best as she could document it, including the locations of all of the above, and personally written stories by almost one hundred of the homesteaders who came and settled and lived out their lives in that Country.
“From Dust to Dust – Cemeteries in Northern Catron County” by Kathryn McKee Roberts.   This paper-back book contains 288 pages describing 14 cemeteries in the Northern part of Catron County, and includes locations, plus pictures of the entrances of each one. The last chapter contains descriptions of all lone and individuals graves that could be found.  All graves have names, dates, and inscriptions of the deceased, along with what history could be found about each one after writing to members of the family or found on  Kathryn says,” What started out to be a county-wide project was shortened due to time constraints and the fear of finding my own name somewhere!”
Please note:  Kathryn’s books are not available at Amazon. They are available directly from her.  Please call me at 575.533.6089 if you are interested in her books.  Please leave a message.

Pie Town Woman by Joan Myers – Beautiful photos by Russell Lee and a very informative look at the lives of Homesteaders and the hardships they endured in the area of Pie Town, NM.  This book also gives an insight into the hard work that women faced on a daily basis and how they handled life when times were very meager. 

No Life For A Lady by Agnes Morley Cleaveland – A very popular book with the local historians.  This book is an autobiography that takes you over all the cow trails from Datil to Magdalena and many points in between. She even teamed up with Montague Stevens for a bear hunt.  A fabulous look at frontier life.  No Life For A Lady








Indeh, Apache Voices and In the Days Of Victorio by Eve Ball – Indeh is one book, Apache Voices is another and yet Victorio is a third.  The author lived near Ruidoso, NM and interviewed many Native Americans in her day for these three books including the families of some of the very famous Chiefs.  You can tell these books were her passion.  Apache Voices is by Sherry Robinson as told to Eve Ball. In the Days of Victorio has a subtitle, “Recollections of A Warm Springs Apache”.     Indeh

Cowboy Spur Maker – The Story of Ed Blanchard by Jane Pattie and Tom Kelly.  I think this is a well written gem.  Not only do you read about the life of Ed Blanchard from his youth in the Magdalena area but you get a lot of history relating to New Mexico, Magdalena and nearby Kelly, a once thriving mining town named after Blanchard’s kin.  Before Ed Blanchard was a spur maker, he was a fearless cowboy that never turned down taming a bronc or chasing a wild cow.  It seems he preferred the thrill of a range rodeo and maybe sometimes even created one.  He worked on many ranches in western New Mexico. You get a full tour of Water Canyon, the Magdalena Mountains and a look at Kelly, NM just by reading this book.  It’s full of historic photos and many photos of the signature Blanchard spurs that became even more sought after upon Mr. Blanchard ‘s passing.   It was a life of many early years of spur making and cowboying in New Mexico.  Later on he moved to Arizona and became a full time spur maker.


Sadie Orchard







Sadie Orchard – The Time of Her Life by Patsy Crow King.  While this book is full of information about the legendary Sadie Orchard, it also has plenty of history on the mining days surrounding Kingston and Hillsboro, NM.  Sadie was born in Iowa in 1859, but came to Kingston and established her house complete with the charms of her girls.  She later moved her house to Hillsboro where she ran the Ocean Grove and Orchard hotels.  At least some of the time she drove stages over the Black Range to and from points that included the above mentioned mining towns as well as Lake Valley.  Sadie and her girls played the role of nurses when the smallpox epidemic hit the town of Kingston and no one died under their care.  Mrs. Crow did a remarkable amount of research in putting this book together and there’s plenty of photos of the area that will certainly draw your interest and take you back to the mining days and earlier times in the setting of the beautiful Black Range Mountains. There’s plenty of mystery about Sadie including the unknown question of trying to determine where she obtained her English accent.  Mrs. King writes, “Sadie came to Kingston with a false resume.  It has long been an accepted fact that she came from England.  Sadie did her best to imitate the upper class of England but when she opened her mouth it was obvious that her English accent was from much coarser stock.  She had everyone fooled and they remained fooled for fifty some years after her death.”

Gila Country Legend by Nancy Coggeshall.  This is a book about the beloved Quentin Hulse that lived on the edge of the Gila Wilderness and was friend to everyone.  He passed a few years back but I remember living on the Patterson Ranch and if we had a visitor in the wee hours of the morning, it would be Quentin on his way back home.  He came to town a couple of times a year and stopped to visit all his “neighbors” on the way home.  It was the routine to get up, put on the coffee, supply plenty of sugar and have a good early morning visit, even if it was 3:00 A.M.  As soon as he left to catch the “5:00 A.M. Neighbor” – the first thing  I’d do is sweep up the five pounds of sugar on the floor. This came about as he was quite expressive with his hands when sugaring his coffee on those visits.  Quentin was just entertaining in his very own style, not to mention he’d give you a pleasant gut ache from laughing too hard.  We miss him dearly.  You could count always count on Quentin to come to town to vote on election day.  His customary saying about any attractive woman – “She had eyes that’d shine like a quarters worth of ice”. Thanks to friend Nancy Coggeshall for allowing others to meet Quentin through her wonderful book and friendship with Quentin, he was a true man of the West and truly a legend.   Debbie Milligan Lee  To visit author Nancy Coggeshall’s site click on the link:

Homesteader’s Daughter by Bonnie L. Armstrong.  Bonnie has noted on the back cover of her book.  “I was inspired to write Homesteader’s Daughter for the younger generation to see the change that has transpired in the 75 years of my life.  The technology, communications, transportation, road improvements, and medical science that has come to be.  Since my grandmother died, antibiotics and medical routines have been developed that today would have prevented her early death.  I hope all of you read this and enjoy it as I enjoyed recalling the happy times of the past and writing it.” The first page on the inside has a picture of the “Homestead Well”.  It was drilled in 1941 and is 220 feet deep.  Total cost of the well and casing was $242.00.


Homesteader's Daughter
Homesteader’s Daughter










Woman of the Century  by Frances Minerva Nunnery (also known as Frances Martin 1898-1997) by Cecil Dawkins – This is a wonderful book that I just discovered with history about Magdalena, Datil, Reserve and Luna including the Centerfire Bog area.  Very enjoyable with her own sense of humor in handling situations that adds to her history such as an  incident or two in relation to the ever historical Uncle Bill’s Bar in Reserve.  If you are familiar with the old Navajo Lodge in Datil, then you are half way there as that was once her business.  She worked as hard as any man and paved the way in other places in New Mexico as well.

The Fort Bayard Story by Neta Pope and Andrea Juaquez – Fort Bayard and surrounding history during the Apache wars.  Covers a broad area of history and one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Wonderful research and full of nice photos. Makes a wonderful gift.  Lots of history related to Grant County NM and other locations of Arizona and New Mexico.

I Fought With Geronimo by Jason Betzinez – A wonderful and informative read with so much about the Warm Springs Apaches and other Apache bands.  A first hand account of life after leaving the Warm Springs area and living life on the run from both the Mexican and US Troops.  Nice sketches, drawings and photos.

Billy The Kid by Mary Hudson Brothers and Bell Hudson.  This particular version was taken from a journal of Bell Hudson who was a part of Pat Garrett’s posse which was looking for The Kid in order to bring him to justice.  This story starts where the Lincoln County War leaves off and continues until the death of Billy The Kid.  Personally, I find this the most credible version of what I’ve read thus far, but to each his own.  Some things will always remain a mystery.  The true story of Billy The Kid may be one.   Debbie Milligan Lee

Incredible Elfego Baca by Howard Bryan – This book is by a very experienced writer of southwest history.  He has many books and I’ve never met one that I didn’t like. There are as many stories about what really happened at Milligan Plaza (the upper plaza of the three San Francisco Plaza’s) in late October of 1884 regarding Elfego Baca as you can imagine.  This author has researched all of the official reports/testimonies and brings them to you in one book so that you can decide for yourself which one you find credible. One thing is for sure, it involved a shootout with the local cowboys of the time against Baca (who was holed up in a jacal – some say a subfloor of the plank lumber building is what protected Baca) and that time will not soon be forgotten. Many of the cowboys involved were associated with the VXT Ranch, the SU Ranch and the WS Ranch. Baca was a resident of Socorro at the time as well as a Socorro County Deputy, according to what has been written.  DML

Books I recommend if you love history and western art are below:  Please note they are not related to the local history but to Montana’s history.  Charlie Russell left his mark on the world as far as I’m concerned, so he gets to shine on my website and it’s my honor.

Good Medicine by Charles M. Russell

Charles M. Russell  – The Life and Legend of America’s Cowboy Artist by John Taliaferro

Behind the Man – The Story of Nancy Cooper Russell by Joan Stauffer Trails Plowed Under – By Charles M. Russell

Dedicated To The Memory Of H.B. Birmingham, Beloved Catron County NM Historian (1915-2013).  This Website Relates To The History of Catron County NM and Beyond.  Catron County Recreation at its best!  Educational and fun in the form of a personal historical tour of the area that takes you back to the days of the old west.  Schedule a tour today!  575.533.6089 –  Please see the “tour” page for more information.