May 16, 2005

Talking to Aimee's Son

Up until now, I've been able to sketch the story of the Ore Terminal and Tramway only in broad strokes, like drawings in a children's coloring book.

Today, I begin filling in the colors.

The letter I sent with photocopies of articles and pictures made it to Aimee's son. He called today. Unfortunately, I had my two small kids in the bath at the time, so I couldn't talk long, but here's what he said:

Aimee's dad, Louis, this gentleman's grandfather, was somehow affiliated with the mining business in St. Louis. So, he goes down to Mexico, probably Mexico City, probably for a Mining Congress. Somehow, he meets Carlos Moser in Mexico and they decide to go into business together and work the mine in Boquillas del Carmen. He mentioned this was around 1904.

Apparently, the rest of the family stayed in St. Louis, so Aimee's mom tells her, "Go down to Boquillas and see what your dad is up to." She does. She meets Moser, they fall in love, they get married.

The son tells me that Aimee was the first person to ride the cable across the river. This must have been sometime between 1908 and 1910. Which means, other people rode the cable as well.

He also descreibed her as a partner, so it was the three of them running the business. As he grew up, she told him he and his son could have owned the mine, but the Mexican government probably took it over for paying taxes. Which means at some point, they lost track of the mine...there's more here to dig into.

He (the son) went to The Register of Mines in Mexico City (I think) sometime as an adult to find out about the mine. He said the clerk couldn't find anything under Boquillas Del Carmen, which made him think that maybe the story his mom told was true. However, the clerk let him look at the records himself and he found a mine called Termopilas. Aimee was a graduate of Washington University and she named the mine "Thermopylae", in honor of Greece ("Termopilas" in Spanish.) Now, what's interesting is that on the map I have of North Coahuila and Brewster county, the straight line of the aerial tramway is clearly marked, but ends at the Rio Grande. Extending it down the appropriate distance south from the Rio Grande in a straight line gets you to a valley. According to all the articles of the time, the tramway was 5(?) miles away from the Puerto Rico mine. So, I assume the beginning of the tramway is somewhere near that valley; there are trails marked on the map leading from the Puerto Rico mine to the valley. Also, the mountain range the tramway would traverse is named Sierra Las Terminas, lending credence to this theory.

If you look on the map to the southwest of where the terminus would be, you'll find a fainter straight line that goes a bit south east. (I don't know what this line is, a road, maybe?) At the end of the line is a mine named Termolipas, clearly the mine Aimee named. According to JA Gregory's MA Thesis from the early 1900's, Report of La Mina Boquillas Del Carmen of Coahuila, Mexico, there were a number of mines discussed.

Now, the son said that the mine no longer produced zinc and in fact, produced flourite and was a rich producer of that mineral. So, I'm thinking, for whatever reason, the Puerto Rico mine wasn't the big mine in his family...maybe Termolipas was the last one Aimee held onto. I know other people mined the Puerto Rico because I've interviewed the mine owner. His dad and his dad's partner worked the Puerto Rico from 1928 to 1945 (or so).

A lot to unravel, but what a great start! I'll be interviewing Aimee's son later this week.

Posted by Joelg at 09:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2005

Talking to Aimee's Nephews

It's been a busy few weeks. The end result is that I've spoken with two of Aimee Moser's nephews today and have a lead on one of her sons!

It all started one lunch when I decided to try a new technique. The problem I had was that I lost Aimee Moser's tracks after Carlos Moser died in 1915. The 1910 census didn't list her and Carlos with a child, so I assumed they didn't have children. Direct descendents are the best because they tend to keep the stories alive more so than neices, nephews,and cousins. Hopefully, she had remarried and had children and I could track them down. Before today, I was doubtful of ever knowing, or of her having children because she was 34 when Carlos died.

I knew her as Aimee Lyon Moser, so I assumed Lyon was her maiden name. But, I didn't know where she was from and no Aimee Lyon showed up when I did a search on any census. Also, on Carlos' death certificate, she gave a hotel's address, implying that she actually lived somewhere else. I assumed she either lived in Marathon, or Boquillas. So, she could have stayed in the US after Moser's death, or gone to Mexico. I simply didn't know.

I had a hunch that she might have been from St. Louis because of two facts: 1) The tramway was designed by a St. Louis company, A. Leschen & Sons, (there were about five tramway manufacturers in the US at that time), and 2) F.C. Morehouse, the president of the International Mining Company, was called back from St. Louis after the Glenn Springs raid. So, St. Louis seemed like the most logical place to find Aimee Lyon. It was a hub for mining equipment and it had a nice sized Jewish community. Two things a Jewish mining engineer would need, even if he spent most of his career in Mexico.

I searched the 1890 and 1900 Census for Lyon in St. Louis and reviewed them one by one. It didn't take me long to find her and the best news was, she had two sisters and a brother! Turns out, she was never indexed the census, which is why she never showed up.

I kept looking, but I lost the brother and his family after the 1920 census. They were in LA. Ditto her one sister. I was hoping I could find a living nephew or niece who could talk about their Aunt Aimee.

But her youngest sister, Estell was in the 1930 Census in El Paso, and she had eight children! Surely, I was going to find someone who knew something. I felt as if I was ascending from a night dive in the ocean. You're in a dark world and you only see a little bit of this fascinating place. As you ascend and return to your normal life at the surface (or in this case, the present), you feel more bouyant and familiar.

On a lark, I typed the youngest son's name into Google, with the words "El Paso" and found an article about him! He's 73 and a baseball manager of a minor league team on the east coast. So I emailed him. He wrote back hours later saying he didn't know much about Carlos and Aimee, other than he heard talk about Carlos in the family and that Aimee had married a man named Mayer after Carlos died. He directed me to his 93 year old brother in LA.

So this was great. This was the first time I had any contact with any one who knew Carlos Moser. For a year, I have been trying to track the man down and all I had was a few facts. I had no picture, no family stories, no history books, nothing. Now, he was becoming real. I feel like I've known him for a year, but all I could do was ad my imagination to a few facts. But now, I'm beginning to really know him through the eyes of people who knew him.

Also, using familysearch.org, the Mormon's genealogy web site, I had found an Aimee Lyon married to a Max Mayer but that was sometime around 1906. This was confusing, as that would have been before Carlos, yet she listed her marriage to Carlos as her first marriage, according to other research I had done. So, I tracked down all the Max Mayer's in the 1920 census and found one married to an Aimee, but the handwriting looked like it could have been "Annie". I dismissed the record from familysearch.org as a dead end, a transcription record. But, this one email from a gentleman who said he didn't know anything, really helped. He confirmed she in fact did marry a Max Mayer and it was the same Aimee Lyon who had married Carlos Moser. It put an important piece into place for me.

So, I called the oldest brother, Aimee Moser's nephew. As with so many calls, he said he didn't know much. And...how can you press someone who's 93. So it's always a delicate dance of getting them to talk and not asking too many questions, even though I've waited a year for this opportunity. Stuff that they think are inconsequential are vitally important to the story. So the thing to do is to get them to talk.

He was a young child at the time of Moser's death. But, he remebered Moser as kindly, a loving man, and liking children. Even though the nephew graduated from UT El Paso (or the Texas School of Mines as it was called during the time), he knew nothing of Moser, nor of Morehouse, nor of McQuatters.

He did say Aimee remarried, had children, and was well known in the community under her new married name, Aimee Mayer. So now, I've got a whole bunch of leads: first, the son, and second, Aimee's married name. She was active in the community, someone may have interveiwed her!

A great day!

Posted by Joelg at 09:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Talking to Dr. Homer Power's Descendent

Dr. Homer Powers was a physician who was working at the Puerto Rico mine when he was kindapped during the Glenn Springs raid.

I had the pleasure of speaking to his grand daughter recently, from Ft. Stockton Texas. She said she didn't know much, because she was a small child when her grandmother lived with her, but here's what she did remember:

Dr. Homer Powers decided to work for the mining company in order to make some money. He was from Rankin Texas and was only working for about six months at the mine when he got kindapped, so I assumed he worked for the International or Alvarado Mining company, and not the Del Carmen Company as the Glenn Springs Raid was in May, 1916, and Carlos Moser had died in March 1915.

Dr. Powers knew the farther he was taken south into Mexico, the more likely he would be killed. One of his captors had a bullet wound, which is probably why they were keeping him alive. Powers' granddaughter said the other captor, "was useless," saying how they were going to die. So, it sounds like Dr. Powers planned their escape.

She said that her grandmother told a story that during the time Powers was held hostage, all the Mexican families near Rankin camped out around their house, presumably to show solidarity with the Powers. Her grandmother felt comforted by that.

Dr. Powers and the others escaped by faking engine trouble in the truck they were driving. The had their captors push the truck, through into reverse, knocked them down, and took their guns.

Dr. Powers returned to Rankin and at one point, became judge in Pecos County. There is (or at least was) a picture of him in the Pecos County Courthouse.

Posted by Joelg at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2005

More Tidbits on the Glenn Springs Raid, from the Dallas Morning News

Continuing my quest to find stories of the mine and tramway by looking at important events of the day, I continued my research into the Glenn Springs raid starting with the May 8, 1916 Dallas Morning News.

May 8, 1916. Pg 2. Col. 3
"...A.J. McQuaters, president of a mining company which operates zinc mines about seven miles south of Boquillas, in Chihuahua, expresses concern for the safety of six Americans at the International Mining Company..."

Well, the writer got the Mexican state wrong. Boquillas is in Coahuila, not Chihuahua. But the mine is roughly seven miles south east of Boquillas, so they're talking about the same mine. McQuatters is a new person in the story. Where's F.C. Morehouse in this scenario? The El Paso Herald said he was the president of the International Mining Company, which owned the mines and tramway, so what's McQuatter's relation to Morehouse?

Here's more about McQuatters:

May 8, 1916. Pg 2. Col. 5
"Owns Mines at Boquillas. A.J. McQuatters, Former Dallas Man Heads Syndicate Operating at Scene of Raids."

"El Paso, Texas, May 7--The International Mining Company, which owns the mines at Boquillas, where the raids took place Saturday morning following the Glenn Springs raid, is composed of a local syndicate headed by A.J. McQuatters, a former Dallas man, who has been taking a prominent part in the peace conference here between General Scott and General Obregon. Boquillas is where the tramway touches the American side of the Rio Grande from Boquillas del Carmen, on the Mexican side, the location of a rich zinc and copper and lead mine."

So there it is...confirmation of a new player. He was rather important, being part of the talks between the US and Mexico at the time that Pershing was pursing Villa south of the border. Hopefully, he'll be easier to track down than most because of his importance in the talks. Also, they say the syndicate is local, meaning El Paso. More of a reason to look in El Paso for the rest of the story.

Other interesting tidbits:

May 13, Pg. 1

"Langhorne Probably Across Rio Grande"

"...R.R. Hasbrouck, an assayer, formerly employeed by a Boquillas mining concern and now a Government scout, arrived here today with messages for Captain John S. Chambers at Marathon. He is said to have told personal friends that Colonel Frederick W. Sibley, in command of the Big Bend expeditionary force, would order Major Langhorne to recross into Mexico, as it was believed the negotiations for an exchange of prisoners between Langhorne and the bandits had fallen through..."

Recross? Langhorne went across once and came back? No other story talks about this. Not sure this is true. Funny how many reporters got little details wrong about the mine and the raid. My favorite is the story that places the mine on the US side. So, every detail needs to be checked with another source, if it's to be included in the final story.

Hasbrouck was one of the men captured at the mine. He must know the back country fairly well if he's a now a scout for Langhorne. I'd imagine he'd have to have worked in the area for a while, to understand the lay of the land. Could be he was a long time employee, maybe even hired by Moser. Very interesting...

More:

May 12, Pg. 1
"Americans Cross at Boquillas and Arrest Fourteen Mexicans. Military Automobile Target for Bandits.

"Marathon, Texas, May 11 -- Mexican bandits yesterday evening fired on a military automobile conveying a message from Major Langhorne to Colonel Sibley at a point eighteen miles north of Boquillas on the Marathon-Boquillas road. Five shots were fired at the driver, who escaped unhurt, according to J.M. Henderson, who was folllowing in another machine several miles back and who arrived here late tonight from Boquillas."

Aside from the writer's quaint use of "machine" for "automobile" or "truck", what's interesting about this is confirmation that Mexican bandits were probably as far north as McKinney Springs on what's know known as the Old Ore road and what was then known at the Marathon - Boquillas road. The El Paso news is the only paper that reported the Ore Terminal itself was attacked after the Glenn Springs raid. The Dallas Morning News is the only newspaper that reports a car was attacked in much the same area; and the San Antonio Express is the only paper that reported on cowboys at McKinney Springs being attacked around the same time.

Is La Noria 18 miles north of Boquillas?

From Boquillas to the Ore Terminal to McKinney Springs is a lot of distance and it's pretty desolate, so it must have felt at the time like the whole area was under attack.

Today, you can't go very fast on the Old Ore road, even in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. I imagine back then, the cars didn't go much slower as they today on rough road like that (but they probably got better gas milleage--25mpg, from one estimate). I estimate it'd take 90 to 120 minutes to go from Boquillas to McKinney Springs by car. Probably a half hour to an hour from La Noria to the Ore Terminal back then (the road's closed today, although I'd love to hike it.) Kind of puts things in some perspective.

Finally this:
May 14, Col 6.

"Langhorne's Column 50 Miles in Mexico"

"Deputy Sheriff James Shoemaker of Marathon arrived here tonight from Boquillas, bringing with him under a guard of four soldiers, Macario Alvaraez and Rigino Gareta, the bandits who guarding seven American Mining men after the Boquillas raid, were in turn made prisoners by their captives."

So, now we have the name of the bandits that the mining company men over ran. I don't think any other source mentions them. I wonder what happened to them?

Posted by Joelg at 11:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

More Research from the Glenn Springs Raid

While I received copies of articles from the May, 1916 El Paso Herald from the public library (because no library in Austin has this edition), I wanted to read more. I figured since most of the articles were from the AP and the Glenn Springs raid was big news, I'd find the story in other Texas Newspapers. First up, the San Antonio Express.

From the May 8th, 1916 Edition. Pg. 4,

"The officials of the International Mines Company have placed all of their equipment, which consists of more than one hundred mule teams and several motor trucks, at the disposal of General Funston."

Two things:

1) We now have an idea of how large an operation this was. 100 mule teams? That's one team less than every mile (The ore terminal is roughly 80 miles away from Marathon). This gives a good idea of how much traffic went up what's now known as the Old Ore Road. Driving on the Old Ore Road today, it's hard to believe there was ever a store near the Ernst Tinaja, but with that kind of traffic, I can begin to see that this place was much busier than it now is.

2) Note the name: International Mines Company, not the International Mining Company. I don't know if this is significant, but I assume the reporter got the name wrong. He got other things wrong in this article, like the location of the mines (on the US side, according to him).


From the May 9, 1916 San Antonio Express, Pg. 1

"An old tramway employee known as "Nick" escaped and after wandering forty miles afoot, was brought into Marathon at midnight by Lloyd Wade, a border rancher.

"'Nick' says the bandits declared they would take their prisoners to Laguan to see "Villa." Presumably they meant the Laguna on the Mexican central above Chihuahua."

"...Forty American troopers and cowboys crossed the river into Mexico at noon today at Boquilla [sic]. Among them are Sheriff Watson and Customs Inspector Ryan. They are hurrying to the aid of seven American employees of the Puerto Rico Zink [sic] mine, fourteen miles below Boquilla [sic]. At Boquilla [sic] the raiders said they were going in the mines to kill every "gringo" there."


So, "Nick" is most likely Nick Postrius, who's story appears in the El Paso Herald. 40 miles is a tough hike in this terrain, he probably went up the Old Ore Road and made it halfway to Marathon before he got picked up.

Additional information: Customs Inspector Ryan is a new name and may have worked at the Ore Terminal. Also, the writer, Joseph Timmons of the International News Service, can't spell.

Posted by Joelg at 08:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 15, 2004

New articles, pictures

Got the software problems fixed and I've uploaded some great, first hand accounts of the oreterminal, aerial tramway, and Puerto Rico mine!

First, pictures of Farmer Jennings and his road crew building the road from the cable terminal to Marathon. These are the first contruction pictures I've ever seen. Many thanks to Mrs. Eleanor Eilenberger, Farmer Jennings daughter, for giving me permission to publish these.

Next, a great article on the tramway, The Del Carmen Zinc Mine from February, 1911. To me, it looks like a PR piece from the A. Leschen Bros. company about the tramway. These are the first photos I've seen of the cable terminal on the Mexican side.

And finally, the piece de resistance. An article from 1911 by Carlos Moser! Boquillas Zinc Deposts is the first writing, story, or anything, really, that I've found on or by Moser. He describes the Puerto Rico mine and answers why he's there. Wonderful, simply wonderful.

Enjoy!

Posted by Joelg at 03:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 26, 2004

Article by Carlos Moser

Another great find...looking through the index for Mines and Minerals from 1910-1911, I found an article about the Puerto Rico mine written by Carlos Moser himself! There's a little history of the mine, physical description, economic conditions, and that he built the tramway. Pictures of the mine, too!

This is really exciting. I'm finally getting the story of the mine. The first article looks like it was written by Leschen brothers, who built the tramway. The second is from the main man himself. This is really great.

Posting coming soon!

Posted by Joelg at 09:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 21, 2004

An Article About the Del Carmen Mine

Just a quick post because I'm excited about this: I've dug up a citation to the Del Carmen Mine and the three ways they haul the ore over land, written in 1911.

I'll post the article when I finally dig it up; it's in a bound volume in Library storage. This is the first article I've found about the mine and tramway from the time period of its operation.

Posted by Joelg at 08:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack