I received the following email from Donna Ikard, someone I Facebook friended last year, because of our common interest in the history of Roswell, and having ancestors who helped to build our town. She joined the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico even though she lives in Texas. She has been a great supporter in so many ways, even from a distance. I would like to thank her and her family for their contributions, both physically and monetarily.
They are great supporters and preservers of Roswell and its history, as were their ancestors, who helped build this area and lived its history.
In addition to what Donna has written below about Sara Lund Bonney, her great-great-great aunt, I would like to add a little trivia that came from Ms. Bonney. In James D. Shinkle’s book, “Reminiscences of Roswell Pioneers,” she wrote a chapter entitled “White Oaks And Early Roswell.” Following are some facts taken from that chapter.
— Jan Dunnahoo
“Old Abe” proved to be the most valuable mine, with $2,900,000 to its credit. This property was “Free Milling” — the deepest dry mine in New Mexico, and many claim in the world. It has had a serious cave-in and a disastrous fire. It is believed that its real value has not been reached.
1880 to 1890 were the great boon days of White Oaks. In 1880, there were 1,500 inhabitants. White Oaks had three churches. The first paper published in Lincoln County was at White Oaks, “The Golden Era.” The first edition was Dec. 18, 1880. The second newspaper was “The Leader,” established Oct. 1, 1882. In 1895, S. M. Wharton became editor of “The White Oaks Eagle.” Later, this paper consolidated with “Capitan News.”
There were social clubs, a literary club and many hotly contested croquet tournaments. Also, many a dance enlivened those early days in the Town Hall, with Sheriffs Pat Garrett and Langston swinging the ladies to the old time music. Billy the Kid, and other notables in his line, slipped over from Lincoln to add luster to these frolics.
When we left, it was a thriving and bustling town. Main Street was lined with business houses. There was Paul Meyer, livery, and Jones, Talliferno, general merchants, who had a two story building, the upper floor of which was occupied with lawyers, doctors, and real estate. On the east was found Weed, Ziegler Co., the Exchange Bank, a saloon, a laundry, Schwartz Dry Goods, Whiteman, Bond, and Stewart Grocery — with a 50-foot glass front and the R. E. Lund Law Office. Also there was a Tumms Ice Plant & Planing Mill, Ridgeway Grocery, a ball park, W. O. Academy — South, Ed Bonnell Insurance and Real Estate, a lumber yard, Paden’s Drug Store and many, many others.
During a number of conversations in the year 1932, Sarah Lund Bonney related her teaching experiences in the Farms School. Mrs. Bonney was the first woman teacher in the Roswell area. This information was told to J. D. Shinkle, at the time principal of Roswell High School, located where the Yucca Recreation Center is now. Some of her reminiscences follow:
By 1884 or 1885, the original school house, built in 1881, was becoming crowded and the facilities inadequate. Early in 1886, time and the natural elements took hold. Repeated storms and the lack of a solid foundation caused the first school house to collapse early in the year 1886. Fortunately, school was not in session at the time the building collapsed.
School terms had always been very irregular, seldom lasting more than four to six months a year, and sometimes the term lasted as little as three months.
There were 43 pupils in attendance. The remainder of the school term of 1895-96 was held in a small adobe building southeast of the (then) present LFD school. This was approximately one half-mile southeast of the site of the original building. The new building was named Farms School.
When the Farms School opened in the fall of 1886, there were 60 people in attendance. Sarah Lund was the only teacher. She taught all subjects from the primary beginners up to some subjects that would now be classified as high school subjects. She taught algebra and some more of the advanced subjects during recess and noon periods.
For a heating plant, the new school had a woodburning stove in which mesquite wood was used as fuel. This was far superior to the old corner fireplace that had been the only method of heating the first school building.
Some of the pupils were in their late teens and early 20s. The boys cut and carried wood for heating the school. They also carried the water and did most of the janitor work. Some of the older girls helped with the smaller children by hearing their lessons and helping them with their heavier clothing when they went outside. Without this help, one person could not have cared for the number of pupils in the school.
The new school had plenty of windows, so their was sufficient light to study inside the school room. There were good smooth blackboards all around the room wherever there were no windows or doors. “I had insisted on these two things,” Mrs. Bonney remarked.
The building was furnished with desk and seats and backs made from smooth plane boards. Each seat and desk would accommodate two pupils. There were recitation benches, with backs, that would seat several pupils. All of the seats and desks were made by local carpenters. The only manufactured furniture in the school was a small table and chair for the use of the teachers. “We had two dictionaries, one was small and the other was somewhat larger,” Mrs. Bonney related. “Of course, the two dictionaries had some pictures in the content. Every Friday afternoon, the pupils took the dictionaries to their homes to read over the weekend. This was really ‘reading the dictionary.’ They were simply starved for reading material.”
Miss Sarah Lund was to receive $60 per month — a good salary for a teacher at that time. In 1887-88, Miss Lund was offered a place in the Roswell school, but she did not take the position. She said that she was well-adjusted of the Farms School and they increased her salary to $70 per month for the nine-month school term.
In December of 1888, Miss Sarah Lund married C. D. Bonney at the home of her family in White Oaks. Pat Garrett was the best man at the wedding.
Mr. and Mrs. Bonney remained in Roswell the remainder of their long and useful lives. They reared a family of two sons and two daughters and both were very active in the social and business development of the community.
A message from
Paving the Way
As family historians, my mother, Aunt Kathy and I always are looking for new ways to record and share our family’s history. This year we have purchased two pavers: One for our great great great grandparents, Robert E. and Saphrona Lund, who lived in Roswell; and one for their daughter, our great-great aunt, Sara Lund Bonney, the first female school teacher in Roswell, New Mexico.
We are pleased to make this contribution to The Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico and to honor Sara with a paver engraved with her name and accomplishments. It means a great deal to us to see towns take interest in the people that lived there so long ago. More importantly, it gives descendants a way to support their historical society.
In Roswell, an actress plays the role of Sara Lund Bonney every October for the traditional South Park Cemetery Walk. Aunt Sara has also been written about in books and newspaper articles. She, herself, wrote many newspaper articles in her lifetime, one of which has been contributed to the collection of history being used to validate the photograph featuring croquet mallets purported to be the second known picture of Billy the Kid. Sara had written about Billy and his gang playing croquet in White Oaks in the late 1800s in an article published in the 1930s. Sara’s story is one we love to share as she was a true pioneer in so many ways.
Sara Bonney was a popular leader in the social life of Roswell. She was a member of the Southwestern History Club and Chaves County Archaeological and Historical Society. Mrs. Bonney was the first person to suggest to Amelia Church the idea of a Roswell Museum, and found that she had similar thoughts at the time.
We are also proud to commemorate Sara’s father, R. E. Lund, a minister and retired gold miner from White Oaks, who in 1912 was recognized as the oldest attorney in Chaves County in 1912. The value of recordkeeping, art preservation and community building was instilled in Sara at an early age. Her grandfather was a major contributor to the schools and museums in Port Perry, Ontario, Canada, and he passed these values down through our family.
There are many ways to participate in recording your family history and we hope you will. Roswell is about so much more than space aliens and famous cowboys; real people built this wonderful city and your historians want to record their stories. We encourage everyone to purchase a paver to commemorate loved ones.
The Historical Society for Southeastern NM is raising money to support the historical museum operations and maintenance of extensive selection of historical archives in their archive building. Heritage bricks will be placed in the historical museum garden. To purchase a paver for the Buy-A-Brick Program, contact The Historical Society for SENM brick campaign at 622-8333, roswellnmhistory.org, or stop by 200 N. Lea Ave.
Janice Dunnahoo is an archive volunteer at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.