Home News Vision Historically speaking: The spirit of a prosperous and united Roswell, part II

Historically speaking: The spirit of a prosperous and united Roswell, part II

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Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico R.H. Kemp of Kemp Lumber, first speaker of the evening — date unknown.

By Janice Dunnahoo

Special to the Daily Record

Last week’s story into the past continues with part II of the Roswell Daily Record’s article, Jan. 22, 1908, 111 years ago.

“The five-minute rule was suspended when Avery Turner, vice president and general manager of the Pecos Valley Railroad, was introduced. He felt that he was entitled to membership in the Old Settlers Club, and remarked that he had been a friend of the late Captain Lea longer than any person present. But Captain James questioned this, and later it was shown that Turner’s acquaintance dated back 45 years, while Captain James’ intimate friendship with ‘the man who blazed the way’ covered 17 years. Mr. Turner said he had been one of the earliest visitors to Roswell, that he had never ceased to be a booster for the Pecos Valley, and never expected to stop being a booster. His talk will receive further attention later. In closing, he remembered that the next time the Pecos Valley had a grievance against the railroad, he would enjoy conferring with the Commercial Club and trying to reach an agreement before the matter was taken to Washington.

“Will Robinson, introduced as ‘The Tenderfoot,’ with reference to the time that a real tenderfoot by the name of Swartz ‘pulled the badger’ in the early days, declared there was no question in his mind about the advancement of the community store in those primitive days. Then only half the people told him how to run his paper, whereas in 1907, nine-tenths of them were able to give expert advice on the subject, and he had no doubt ‘The Other Fellow’s Daily’ had a similar experience. He had secured some brief interviews from leading citizens as to how the Daily should be run, and submitted them without comment. He found every man he approached willing to assist in giving advice. There were some good hints in these imaginary interviews, and in closing, the speaker paid high tribute to the work of the process in general, including the Daily Record as one that will never be found with cold feet when it comes to boosting for public enterprise and good government.

“Postmaster Kellahin, president of the Commercial Club, and perhaps the only other man in town except the mayor, who receives as much good advice as the newspaper men do, talked about the International Irrigation Congress to be held this morning at Albuquerque, and the duty of the Pecos Valley in availing herself of this great opportunity to advertise her products and resources. There is no reason why the Pecos Valley should not have the banner exhibit at this Congress.

“George A. Puckett, after evading as far as possible the subject ‘How to Run the Other Fellows’ Weekly,’ remarked that he did not come to offer advice to anyone, but to listen and to learn, so that in his future editorial work he might voice the wisdom of council. He realized quite keenly the tendency to lose touch with public sentiment on account of being confined closely to office work, and seldom being able physically to mingle with the leading spirits of the town upon such an occasion. He stood for wiping out old scores and suggested that in the interest of wider publicity and to secure greater accuracy to reporting the inner deliberations of the commercial club with the editors of the local things aren’t made honorary members — being doubtful whether an editor could ever accumulate $50 to pay the full membership fee. By the way, Toastmaster Tannehill, introducing the ‘Parson’ suggested that even if every five men in the club did as much boosting as the Daily Record does week in and week out, there is nothing which the Club might not accomplish within the realm of possibility.

Former Governor J.J. Hagerman said that he was glad to see the cordiality manifested at this gathering. He described two classes of men, those who object to everything, and another that is liberal in lip service and wordy patriotism but accomplishes nothing. Then there is a third class, such as the members of the Commercial Club and others present who are willing to work for the community. Chronic kickers and cowards he denounced. There were no such persons present, of course. The men brought together by the spirit of this occasion understood the necessity and power of cooperation. We are not in this for ourselves only, but to prepare for the reception of others coming. When the people of Roswell cooperate, Something Happens. The question of license gambling was brought to a practical conclusion when Roswell took the bull by the horns, and the move spread throughout the territory. High license on saloons is another problem in which Roswell has taken the lead. There was never any practical high license legislation in the territory until Roswell took the lead. This is one community in New Mexico in which merely partisan considerations and peanut politics are not allowed to interfere with cooperation of the people for the betterment of the community.

Col. J.W. Willson, superintendent of the New Mexico Military Institute neatly sidestepped the subject which had been given him as a joke, and appealed to the spirit of the meeting for the burial of the past and forgetfulness. As a booster he would begin with present realities and strike out on the line for future possibilities to build up what we have already in Roswell. The Military school being a subject very near to his heart, he begged pardon if it seemed unbecoming him to boost that institution. Through this school now $60,000, that’s outside money, is brought to Roswell every year and finds its way into all the channels of the local business. This amount, Colonel Wilson said, could be doubled by proper united efforts to secure enlargement of the buildings, etc. as many applicants for cadetships in the school are turned away every year as are accepted. All the school needs to bring 300 students to Roswell is sufficient accommodations to care for them.

“Undeveloped resources was the subject given to Captain W.C. Read and he declared that five hours, instead of five minutes, would be necessary to do this subject justice. The possibilities of development are so great that it would be futile to attempt to point them out briefly. He did not greatly exceed his time, but the Record will reserve a report of his talk for more extensive treatment.

“C.W. DeFreest discussed ‘Leap Year Possibilities,’ and livened the hearers with some electrical shocks of wit and humor. There were some things in his talk so good they will have to go over until tomorrow.

“J.W. Thomas, of the Roswell Hardware Company, talked as a representative of the Commercial Club. He referred to the present excellent condition of the club, with 160 members and thoroughly imbued with practical knowledge and unity in boosting for the upbuilding of the best in town, and in the Southwest. He complemented secretary Graham very highly upon his efficient and untiring work. As a former traveling man Mr. Thomas had come in contact with commercial clubs in various sections of this country, and he said that he had never known a more enthusiastic and more useful club than that in Roswell. The more you attend the meetings the more good you can get out of it. The membership ought to be increased and the motto ‘Investigate Everything’ would be a good one to adopt. The commercial club is the foundation of anything we may do for the country. If you can’t say anything good for the commercial club don’t see anything.

“Introducing J.F. Hinkle, the toastmaster said that he had gone into the office of the mayor four years ago with three bills up his sleeve, one for sidewalks, one for tiling irrigation ditches, and one to prohibit gambling. Two years later, he had learned politics in the third Ward of Roswell — but in the meantime, gambling had been prohibited, sidewalks had been built on every street of the city, and the work of cementing the irrigation ditches, due to his efforts, would be finished in a few days.

“Mr. Hinkle did not discuss his subject, city government, probably figurine a charge of incendiarism, in view of recent complications — or perhaps it was owing to his charitable view of things generally, for he endorsed the efforts of Dr. John W. Smith to organize a charity society in Roswell. However, he warned the Democratic party not to undertake to monopolize the management of the organization lest they run up against the charges of broken pledges and other dangers. He hinted, too, that some eleemosynary institution might be needed for broken down politicians in Roswell.

“W.S. Kilgour’s subject was ‘Other Forms of Irrigation,’ but owing to the fact that this was a ‘water wagon’ banquet, he left out all his speech except some pathetic poetry to which the words gin and lemon tinkled merrily in echo of the tintinnabulation of the ice in one hundred clinking glasses of artesian water.”

Janice Dunnahoo is chief archivist at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or at jdunna@hotmail.com.