Pioneer History
from the WPA Writers' Project, 1936 to 1940

•  The Indian Story of Mrs. Mary E. Burleson, as told in 1937

Manuscript of an oral history interview conducted by Edith L. Crawford, Carrizozo, who interviewed Mary E. Burleson for a second time on March 7, 1937 for the WPA Writers Project. The manuscript is now archived at the Library of Congress.

Mrs. Burleson said:

"I had to take some money to my Uncle Shafer, who lived on a ranch about thirty miles from Cimarron, New Mexico.

"My brother who was younger than I, and my girl chum, Annie Crocker, went with me. In those days we rode side saddles. We stayed all night at my Uncle's ranch. The next morning when we were getting ready to leave we found my brother's horse was lame and he couldn't go back with us. So my girl chum and I started out alone for home.

"When we got on top of Riado hill we looked back and saw Indians riding fast towards us, and it scared us nearly to death. So we started out to gallop our horses, and the Indians would ride faster.

"So we ran our horses just an fast as they could go the rest of the way home. Mother came to the door when we arrived, and said 'girls, what on earth is the matter, just look at your horses?' The horses were covered with sweat and lather from riding them so hard. But we out rode the Indians.

"When my mother helped me down from my horse, I could not stand on my right leg. I had gripped the horn of my side saddle so hard in my ride for my life, so I thought at the time, that in some way I injured my leg and have been a cripple since that day.

"I had to give up dancing and I did love to dance."

Narrator of this Indian Story was Mrs. Mary E. Burleson, age 78 in 1937, of Carrizozo, New Mexico.

New Mexico Wanderings

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