March 2018

History Lessons

Taking a Look Back column by John McVey Middagh

See also: At the Museum

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns



Step Through Time — “Discover the Historic Treasures of White Sands National Monument” events are 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in the Visitor Center at White Sands National Monument. Admission is free. Information: (575) 479-6124, ext. 236 or (575) 679-2599, ext. 232; or go to
  Visitors will explore the architecture at White Sands National Monument and the construction by New Deal agencies during the 1930’s, followed by a tour of the historic district with a walking tour of the grounds.

Camp Furlong Day and Cabalgata Binacional — The 102nd anniversary of Pancho Villa’s raid in 1916 will be celebrated 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at Pancho Villa State Park, off State Roads 11 and 9, Columbus, N.M., with guest speakers providing historical presentations and slide shows in the park’s exhibit hall. Admission is free to community center complex; state park fee is $5 a carload. Information: Pancho Villa State Park (575) 531-2711 or
• 1 p.m.: Author Michael Archie Hays will talk about Maud Hawk Wright’s abduction from her home in Mexico by Pancho Villa.
• 2 p.m.: Retired U.S. Army historian Dr. Robert Bouilly will reflect on the 100th anniversary of the “Bisbee Deportation”
• 3 p.m.: President of the 1st Aero Squadron Foundation, Ric Lambart, will give a presentation about the use of airplanes in General Pershing’s Punitive Expedition into Mexico.
  The 15th annual Camp Furlong Day is a binational friendship event, commemorating the March 9, 1916 early morning attack on the village of Columbus and the adjacent military camp by Mexican General Francisco “Pancho” Villa and his men. Within days of the raid, General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing began the Punitive Expedition into Mexico.
  The 19th Annual Cabalgata Binacional will be hosted in the Village of Columbus plaza. Cavalcade riders are expected to arrive in Columbus at about 10:30 a.m. followed by festival and entertainment in the village plaza throughout the day. Information: (575) 343-0147 or
  Columbus Historical Society’s annual Memorial Service at the Depot Museum is 10 a.m. Friday, March 9, in remembrance of the Americans whose lives were lost during the 1916 raid on Columbus. Information: (575) 531-2620.

El Paso Genealogy Society — The society meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 7000 Edgemere. Program is “Filling in the Blanks in your Ancestors’ Lives,” presented by Barbara McCarthy. Visitors welcome. Information: 591-2326.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas — The Rio Grande Chapter meets at 11 a.m. Friday, March 9, at Royal Estates, 435 S. Mesa Hills. Program is “Susanna Dickinson of the Alamo,” presented by Dorothy Elder. Anyone interested in Texas history encouraged to attend. RSVP: 760-5775.

Harvey Girls of El Paso — The Harvey Girls of El Paso Texas meet 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, March 12, at Union Depot Passenger Station, 700 San Francisco. Program is “Mary Jane Colter: Architect and Designer for Fred Harvey “by Pres Dehrkoop. Visitors welcome. Admission is free. Information: 591-2326 or

Southwest Chapter of Railway & Locomotive Historical Society — The society meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at Edge of Texas Restaurant, 8690 Edge of Texas. Program is “James Watt Pullman.” Train enthusiasts welcome. Information: 591-2326 or 540-9660.

El Paso Corral of the Westerners — The monthly dinner program is 6 p.m. Friday, March 16, at Holiday Inn El Paso-West (formerly Country Inn & Suites) 900 Sunland Park Drive at I-10. Program is “Battle of the Little Bighorn - The Richard Fox Theory; Victory for the 7th Cavalry,” presented by Albert Burnham, Ph.D. Cost: $20. Visitors welcome, but RSVP needed by March 12: 759-9538.

El Paso Archaeological Society — The society’s monthly meeting is 2 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at El Paso Museum of Archaeology, 4301 Transmountain. Mark Howe presents “Smeltertown Archaeology and History.” Howe will discuss the recent work along the American Canal and the exposure of some of the structures, artifacts and history of the Smeltertown area. Admission is free; the public is invited. Seating is limited. Information: 449-9075 or
  Howe is Cultural Resources Specialist for the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) in El Paso.

Old Fort Bliss — Building 5054, corner of Pershing and Pleasanton Roads, Fort Bliss. The Old West days of the “Soldiers of the Pass” are relived through replicas of the original adobe fort buildings and military artifacts of the Magoffinsville Post, 1854 to 1868. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; by appointment only Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 568-4518 or 588-8482 or on Facebook at Old Fort Bliss.

Chamizal National Memorial — 800 S. San Marcial. The National Park Service operates the memorial on land once claimed by Mexico as part of a decades-long dispute over the international boundary. The visitor center has an exhibit on the history of the Chamizal dispute, including a video presentation. Park grounds and picnic area open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for both foot traffic and vehicles; visitor’s center hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 532-7273 or on Facebook at ChamizalNationalMemorial.
  “Tales, Tails and Tots” stories and visits with park mascot Chami are 11 to 11:30 a.m. for ages 3-6 the fourth Saturday of each month.

El Paso History Radio Show — The show runs 10:05 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KTSM AM 690 (and streamed at Documentary filmmaker Jackson Polk hosts the show with reenactor and historian Melissa Sargent. Details of each upcoming show, plus podcasts of previous programs, are at Information: 833-8700.

El Paso Mission Trail Visitor Center — El Paso Mission Trail Association’s center supporting the three historic churches in the Mission Valley — Ysleta Mission, Socorro Mission and San Elizario Chapel — is at 6095 Alameda (at Zaragoza). Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free. Information 790-0661, 851-9997 or

Fort Bliss Historical Association — The group meets at 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Fort Bliss museum complex, 1735 Marshall. Information: 269-4831. Dues are $25 a year ($10 students and junior enlisted soldiers).

Los Portales Museum and Visitor Center — 1521 San Elizario Road. The museum is operated by the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, and is housed in an 1850s Territorial-style building across from the San Elizario church. It offers gifts, family trees, historical artifacts as well as information on the “First Thanksgiving” and the Salt War of 1877. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: 851-1682.

San Elizario Veterans Museum and Memorial Walk — The museum, operated and managed by the non-profit San Elizario Veterans Committee of the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, is at 1501-B Main Street in San Elizario. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: Ann Lara, 345-3741 or Ray Borrego, 383-8529.

San Elizario walking tours — The San Elizario Historic District hosts free guided walking tours of its nationally recognized historic district at noon and 3 p.m. the fourth Sunday of the month starting at Main Street Mercantile, 1501 Main Street. Learn about the 17 historic sites of San Elizario, about the arrival of Don Juan de Onate to the area in 1598 and the First Thanksgiving Celebration, the Presidio de San Elizario and the San Elcear Chapel on the Mission Trail. Information: 851-0093 or
  To get there: Take Loop 375 to Socorro Road then go east seven miles to San Elizario. District is on the right. Look for the brown signs.

Scottish Rite Temple tour — The Downtown El Paso historic landmark, 301 W. Missouri, is open to the public for a free walking tour at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Learn about El Paso’s Masonic history, the design and architecture of the theater. Information: 533-4409.

Fort Bayard tours — Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society host walking tours of the historic fort beginning at 9:30 a.m. selected Saturdays at Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark is six miles east of Silver City, N.M. off U.S. 180. at the 1910 Commanding Officer’s Quarter and museum (House 26). Museum is open 9:15 to 1 p.m. every Saturday. Tour takes about 90 minutes. Admission is free, but donations appreciated. Information, group tours: (575) 956-3294, (575) 574-8779, or (575) 388-4862.
  Fort Bayard served as an army post from 1866 to 1899 and army tuberculosis hospital from 1899 to 1920.

Fort Selden State Monument — The monument, 1280 Fort Selden Road in Radium Springs, 13 miles north of Las Cruces, is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesday). Admission is $3; (ages 16 and under free). Sunday admission for New Mexico residents is $1. Information: (575) 526-8911 or
  Fort Selden was a 19th century adobe fort established to protect early settlers. The monument seeks to preserve the remaining ruins and has a visitor’s center with exhibits of military life at the post. From Las Cruces, take I-25 north to Exit 19.

Fort Stanton — The fort was established and built in 1855 by troopers of the 1st Dragoon Regiment to serve as a base of operations against the Mescalero Apache Indians. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (Hours may be shorter in winter — call for schedule). Admission is free. Information: (575) 354-0341,

History Notes Lecture Series — The monthly program is 1 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Branigan Cultural Center, 501 N. Main, north end of the Downtown Mall in Las Cruces. Admission is free. Information: (575) 541-2154 or

Shakespeare Ghost Town — The small pioneer settlement and mining town on the trail to California is just south of Lordsburg, N.M. A 1½-hour tour at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on the second weekend of the month; call to confirm. Cost is $4 ($3 ages 6-12). Information: (575) 542-9034 or
  To get there: From Lordsburg, take the Main Street exit (Exit 22) from Interstate 10 and turn south. Follow signs to Shakespeare.

Taking a Look Back column by John McVey Middagh

Martyred priest was
ordained in El Paso


Although St. Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero spent nearly all his life in Mexico, El Paso can claim him as one of their own and this year celebrates the 100th anniversary of his ordination.
Born in Chihuahua City, Mexico in 1892, Maldonado entered seminary at age 17. He was ordained a priest in 1918 in St. Patrick Cathedral by El Paso’s first bishop, Anthony Joseph Schuler.
Father Maldonado returned to Chihuahua, serving first in San Nicolás de Carretas, then in 1924 became the parish priest in San Isabel, Chihuahua. There he placed his focus on teaching the faith to the children. He started Sunday school classes, sometimes using song and dramas to reinforce his message, becoming a popular and respected priest.
But throughout Mexico these were difficult times for the Catholic Church. The 1917 Constitution had placed heavy restrictions on the Church. The Church could not own property, convents, monasteries, or schools. The government allowed only a certain number of priests and the Church had few if any legal rights. It got so bad that anyone caught wearing religious items or worshiping could be beaten or even shot.
Mexican Catholics went underground or moved to El Paso and other parts of the Southwest for fear of being murdered. But, some 50,000 of the faithful took up arms defending their rights for religious freedom crying, “Viva Cristo Rey,” and what became known as the “Cristero War” that started in 1926 and lasted about three years.
The U.S. Ambassador helped with negotiations between the government of Mexican President Plutarco Elias Calles and the Catholic Church. In 1929 the government allowed the churches to return to celebrating Mass openly. But, even with this agreement some violence continued against the Catholic laity and priests. It was not until 1992 that the full legal stature of the Church was restored.
Many of the 1929 agreements were not honored and persecution of the Church continued, with the situation worsening in Chihuahua in the early 1930s.
In 1934 Father Maldonado was deported to El Paso, but he quickly returned to his parish in Mexico, in hiding on a ranch outside of San Isabel. On Ash Wednesday 1937, he was captured by a group of police and others while conducting his church duties. He was struck in the head with a pistol, falling to the ground severely injured. A communion host that he had in his pyx (pouch) around his neck fell out. Seeing this, one of the attackers picked it up, forcing it into the priest’s mouth before he lost consciousness. It was his last communion before dying the next day, Feb. 11, 1937, the 19th anniversary of when he celebrated his first Mass.
On May 21, 2000, Father Maldonado and 24 other martyrs of the Cristero War were canonized as saints by Pope John Paul II.
* * *
The ordination of Father Maldonado came just a couple of months after the dedication of St. Patrick Cathedral, which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary. Although it is the first and only cathedral (the seat of the diocese’s bishop), it was not the first Catholic church in El Paso . That distinction goes to St. Mary Chapel built in 1882 by the Jesuits, who celebrated their first Mass there on Christmas Day of that year. St. Mary later became Holy Family Catholic Church.
In 1914 Pope Pius X announced the formation of the Diocese of El Paso, naming Shuler its first bishop. Two of the main churches back then were Holy Family and Immaculate Conception. Neither was large enough to accommodate the growing population of El Paso, so Bishop Schuler informed his parishioners that he would build a new church and fundraising began. A $10,000 donation was given by Delia Lane to start things off. When it came time to pick a name for the new cathedral, Lane allowed the Daughters of Erin to choose the name, and they chose St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, where their order was founded. The location chosen for the new cathedral was at the corner of Mesa and Arizona streets, and was purchased for $20,000 in February 1914.
Bishop Schuler blessed and dedicated the new cathedral on Thanksgiving Day, 1917. The next day he baptized a baby named Patrick Anthony Enjady. the son of a Mescalero Apache family. Private James O’Brien and Mary Hinton were the first to be married at the Cathedral in December, a hurried wedding because the groom was being shipped off to the war in Europe. Shuler served as Bishop of El Paso diocese until 1941.
St. Patrick Cathedral has now served the community for over some 100 years. The area the diocese covers is large: 10 counties, 26,686 square miles, 55 parishes, 20 missions, and 17 ministries. The diocese is home to the first Catholic mission in Texas, first Mass celebrated in Texas, the first Thanksgiving and the first hospital in El Paso.

John McVey Middagh is a former
saddle shop owner. You can reach
him at

El Paso Scene MONTHLY
This month's listings, stories and columns

Feature story
Here's the Ticket
Program Notes
On Stage
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
History Lessons
Film Scene
Keep on Bookin'
Liner Notes
Stage Talk
Gallery Talk


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