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

•  About Buried Treasure in New Mexico

During the Great Depression from 1936 to 1940 there was a WPA Writers' Project hiring local authors to interview older local citizens and write a report or "manuscript" of each interview. The goal was to collect and preserve oral history's of old-timer pioneer citizens. Georgia B. Redfield of Roswell worked for this Project, and on January 12, 1937, she interviewed Gorgonio Wilson of Roswell. The manuscript she wrote after her interview is now archived at the Library of Congress. Here is her report about buried treasure in New Mexico and about what Mr. Wilson told her.

Mrs. Redfield wrote:

Interest in New Mexico traditions of buried treasure has been greatly revived in the past few months, especially so in the southeast part of the state since the death of a very old Mexican woman of the Chihuahua-Spanish American settlement in she city of Roswell. It was generally known in that district, that the woman was in possession of a secret of fabulous riches buried by her ancestors during the Indians uprisings and stealings. There was excitement and hurrying of many neighbors to the bedside of the old woman who finally died without divulging her secret to any of the eager ones waiting around her, but only a few words came at the last with her frantic pointing west toward the mountains, "Gold!" she said, with her last struggling breath, "much gold, jewels, silver..." That was all but enough to renew frantic searching for the treasure.

Of all legends of the Spanish American people of this district the ones of buried treasure will always be the most thrilling. It is said some of these stories have resulted in hunting and digging to such an extent that many rich fertile fields of the lazy ones, which have long lain waste, have been well prepared for planting by constant spading and are now truly yielding treasure in golden grain, hay, and garden foods.

However there is no doubt about there being buried treasure, in various localities in the state of New Mexico. Some of these will never be found. Money, gold and silver was often buried in the early days, during the establishment of cattle-camps and ranches in this state. There were no banks in those early days, no strong-holds, not even locks on flimsy doors of 'dobe huts or dugout camps, on the barren prairies. Life was always uncertain, with marauding Indians everywhere, and so there are legends handed down through the years of vast treasures buried, some by the "Pale-Face" and others by the "Red-Skin".

The Comanches and Apaches spent days and weeks trailing and watching herds of cattle brought over the waterless dry plains by the first cattle-trail blazers. When the herds were sold they were ready to pounce down and take the hard-earned gold the stock-men had broken their nerves, their health and lost their lives in the end to gain. Scouts were sent ahead of herds, always, and they often rode back to report Indian raiders waiting on the trail. There was then a mad scramble to bury all valuables, even food and water, and the cow-men rode on to meet death in combats, and those treasures still lie safely hidden, useless through long lean years of hardships, depressions, and even famine among the Indians who still hunt treasure buried by their people after looting in New Mexico.

"There is buried treasure in Caballo Mountains (Horse Mountains) thirty-five miles north of Las Cruces", said Gorgonio Wilson, "I know this most certainly, for have I not the map on paper, and the directions all written down, where to go to find the place? There are more gold bars, and heaped up silver, and jewels than can be carted out by truck loads, he said. "The treasure was buried by a spring under the big rocks of Caballo Canyon. It was brought there at different times, by the looting Indians, on loaded mules and horses on many, many trips, after their murdering raids."

"I am going to find that treasure if the Lord pleases," said Gorgonio, "and He will let me, for I now have only three dollars to live on every month, for my old-age pension, and I need it for my brother's girl, Enis Garcia. Since her little muchacho came, she is not right, she wanders in her mind. She stands at her window and gazes out all the time, but she never harms anybody. She is good and kind. She now has three sets of twins, and, God help her, I need the buried treasure bad for her."

"The map comes to me honest. There will always be lying and stealing and murdering to get secrets of treasures buried in different places, in New Mexico and all over the world. It was stealing that got this secret to me, but it is clean now. I got it honest from a Spanish lady. A Mexican man from New Mexico stayed at her house in old Mexico. He told to her the secret of the buried treasure and showed her the map and the writing which told all about where to find this treasure in New Mexico. He displeased her one day, she was bitter with him, and she stole his map and his writing and his instrument made to find the treasure, and she fled with it one night and made her way to New Mexico. She was helpless and didn't know what to do to find her treasure after she was here. I found her in Carrizozo. She seemed to be lost and I was a good friend to her.

"She said to me, 'The secret brings to me only bad luck', (that was because she stole it), so she gave it to me. A thief crept to my house and stole part of my instrument, but he didn't find the map, so it can do him no good. When I have the money and can have my instrument fixed up and can go to Caballo Mountain then everything will be all right and the poor Enis, who wanders in her mind, will have new dresses and good fires to warm herself by, and good food to make her strong.

"When we find that treasure," said Gorgonio, "we will do much good for everybody--whenever we can."

Sources of information--Alderman Louis E. Fay, 1000 E. Bland, Roswell. Story of Treasure in Caballo Mountain given by Gorgonia Wilson, 113 S. Montana Ave., Roswell.

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