Home News Vision Historically Speaking: Memories of Tinnie Mercantile, part I

Historically Speaking: Memories of Tinnie Mercantile, part I

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Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives Raymond Mercantile and Post Office — date unknown.

By Janice Dunnahoo

Special to the Daily

Record

How many of us have driven by Tinnie Mercantile so many times, thinking of how pretty it is? What it was like back in the day? Or you may remember an event like a wedding or a nice dinner we may have experienced there? Of course, Tinnie has lots of history, and it wasn’t always as picturesque as it is now. Though for me, it has always been that beautiful — walking the grounds I often wondered, what was it like in the late 1800s? So, I thought I’d share a bit of that history today.

The original name of Tinnie was Las Cuevas, which means the caves in Spanish. Later, it was known as Cuba until Jose Analla arrived and chose the site to farm. He named it Analla after himself. More settlers moved in and it was known as Analla for some 33 years, until the Raymond family moved there.

There is an interesting story about Analla I found. The article in the Santa Fe New Mexican, dated April 18, 1899 reads as follows:

“‘Found the Hidden Treasure’

“Two weeks ago Jose Analla, reported to be the richest man in Lincoln County, died near White Oaks. During his lifetime it was often reported that he had large sums of money buried, and several unsuccessful attempts were made to rob him. Even when death came Analla would not reveal to his family where his money was hidden. He demanded that his body be wrapped in a sheet without a coffin, and that he be buried barefooted. His wishes were followed. The hiding place of his money was not discovered until last week, when a grandson of Analla accidentally dug up a can filled with shining $20 gold pieces. How much more of the eccentric old man’s wealth is buried is not known, but nearly everyone in the vicinity has turned treasure seeker and is looking for buried wealth in all likely and unlikely places.”

I found more articles on when Tinnie was called Analla.

An article in the Santa Fe New Mexican, dated, June 12, 1903, reads:

“‘Post Office Established’

“A post office has been established at Anaya, Lincoln County. It is about halfway between Picacho and Hondo.”

An article in the Las Vegas Daily Optic, dated December 9, 1896, reads:

“Jose Analla left Lincoln for Las Vegas with a train of wool. It will take him a month or six weeks to make the round trip.”

Another article in the Santa Fe New Mexican, October 11, 1904, reads:

“A letter from Analla, Lincoln County, says:

“There was the biggest flood in the Hondo river known to the oldest inhabitants of this section. Some farmers lost all their crop of corn, beans and alfalfa, and there was other property loss. The new bridge across the Rio Bonito, recently erected by B.F. Daniel of Roswell, was washed away. The estimated property and crop loss in this vicinity is $10-$15,000. Among the people who lost heavily, was Reverend R.P. Pope, a Baptist minister living near the Hondo post office, who lost about all he had.”

According to my research, the Raymond family moved there in 1909 to farm and open a mercantile business and post office. They changed the name yet again, naming it after Steve and Oney Raymond’s oldest daughter, Tinnie — and Tinnie it would remain until today.

This part of history is best described in a wonderful article by John L. Sinclair in the 1984 edition of New Mexico Magazine about his reminisces of the Raymond store — shared with permission of New Mexico Magazine editor Kate Nelson.

“I remember the Raymond store and post office as a rambling piece of authentic frontier architecture, the entrance leading to a country store area with sundry counters and ceiling high shelves. A large front window looked out to the newly graveled Roswell to Carrizozo Highway.

“I remember a single gasoline pump at the Raymond entrance with the price for a gallon in 1929 at exactly 29 cents. But men were saddlemen, then, and the internal combustion engine hadn’t quite put equine drawn transportation out of business.

“Other than the glass case displays of candy or bakery temptations recently up from Roswell, the interior was all dark stained woodwork, with the post office section at the entrance door which gave the place and air of all business and no unnecessary ‘fooferaw’ trimmings. There were a few boxes for the privileged, but mostly the post office served as a general delivery. The cost of first class postage was probably two cents.

“The wall shelves contained candle and package grocery items, they were made for a special customer demand – for the rule Southeastern New Mexico fruit growers and irrigation farmer, cattleman, and sheep rancher with strands of Texas in his blood, and Texan likes and dislikes. The food stuffs sold, other than canned varieties, were staples such as Breakfast Call and Arbuckles coffee, eastern plains and Texas grown soft wheat flour (the kind best for biscuits or sourdough,) cornmeal, pinto beans, dried fruit scoop from wooden boxes — prunes, peaches, apricots, raisins. No fresh meats, but always an ample supply of salt pork and bacon kept cool as best it could under the circumstances, with the nearest refrigeration at Roswell forty-four miles away. From Roswell came baker’s bread, wax paper wrapped, contemptuously called “gun-wadden” by the ranch hands. Whole wheat was something to be fed to the chickens. Cigarette packs were bought, but most popular were the little white bags of Bull Durham or Golden Grain tobacco made to fit a cowboy’s shirt pocket with the tab hanging out for decoration.

“There were barrels and bins of stuff. Somewhere about the premises were things for the horse, the wagon, and the saddle. Good shirts for every day workwear sold for around 89 cents to a dollar, a pair of the popular khaki trousers, snag proof, long wearing, about $1.50 – or a blanket lined, army duck work jacket, somewhere between $6.25 and $6.50, the 25 cent difference comprising a goodly sum in those blessed days of simple living. And for the very best pair of heavy duty shoes for work in the fields and orchards — $2.85.

“Folks down from the high baldies to the east were forced to slow their tin lizzies as they descended Picacho hill en route to Tinnie. Here the elbow curve threatened disaster for any driver reckless enough to gun the Ford to its top speed of 35 miles an hour. And when the floor of the valley was met, the greenery of spreading Cottonwood and weeping willow, spire-like Lombardy poplar, alfalfa and corn, apple, peach, cherry, plum, and pear, pruned and in neat irrigated rows, shared the same blue sky, and the murky benevolent river.

“There were stretches of uncultivated land then bordering the Hondo, now after fifty years given over to orchard, garden, and the damp of saturated fields. The Titsworth company of Capitan maintained a large cabbage growing industry between Tinnie and Hondo. All along the gravel road, homes were passed, those of the Anglos neat and trim, of the Spanish families immaculate. Each Spanish yard seem to have been broom swept and always a delicious aroma thereabouts, such as chili and beans cooking and chimney incense of pinion, cedar, or juniper.

“The sheepmen and their riders who attended the hill pastures came to the Raymond store sometimes on horseback, or aboard the rattly automobiles of the day — complete in cowboy attire. They had cowboy complexions, the sun squinted eyes, and spoke in the Texas drawl. Their stock saddles were cinched to tough little Spanish ponies. There was hardly a trace of difference between men of the mutton herds and those of beef-on-the-hoof.

“Bill Kelsey would come on horseback or by wagon, old Bill, master wolf proof fence contractor and chuckwagon chef, temporarily at home between fields building contracts, a respite from the challenges of stringing the wires, the miles upon miles of netting over hill in canyon, where postholes at times had to be drilled through solid rock. At camp, Bill served fried potatoes and pinto beans with a sort of Delmonico flavor. He also had honey so pure that dead bees had to be extracted before it was spread on biscuits.”

To be continued.

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.