This column will feature items that relate somehow to Grant County - the name of a street in the case of the first one, and maybe other streets, or the name of a building or whatever catches the fancy of the contributor, Richard Donough. Readers are encouraged to send him topics of interest to them, so he can do the research and write an article.

Ukraine: Short-Lived Independence In Early 20th Century

The Chronicles Of Grant County

Short-Lived Independence
In Early 20th Century

wheat growing in ukraine oleg mityukhin december 12 2020 pixabay 65Ukraine is one of the largest producers of wheat in the world. In 2020, Ukraine harvested 24,912,350 tons of wheat according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (The photograph was provided courtesy of Oleg Mityukhin through Pixabay, December 12, 2020.)

Ukraine has been recognized as an independent nation by approximately 180 countries worldwide since 1991. The United States extended diplomatic recognition of Ukraine in January of 1992; the Russian Federation did the same on Saint Valentine’s Day, 1992.

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Ukraine - New Mexico

The Chronicles Of Grant County

Ukraine - New Mexico

ukraine flag pixabay jorono 2017 50Ukraine is fighting for its continued independence. (The photograph was provided courtesy of jorono through Pixabay, 2017.)

Grant County and New Mexico are worlds apart from Ukraine. Yet the American values in this area are similar to the values Ukrainians are fighting for in the streets of Kyiv, Odessa, and scores of other communities.

At the time this news column is being prepared, Ukraine is still fighting for its survival as an independent nation. It is not the first time that leaders from Russia (and elsewhere) have attempted to subjugate the Ukrainian people.

The people of Ukraine have known heartache before.

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Mules And President George Washington

The Chronicles Of Grant County

Mules And President George Washington

mule mountains usgs 1910 50Mule Mountains, Mule Springs, and Mule Creek are found in northwestern Grant County. (The map was provided courtesy of the United States Geological Survey, 1910.)

This week, most of the United States celebrated Washington's Birthday. New Mexico, though, will officially celebrate this holiday – also known as "Presidents' Day" – on the day after Thanksgiving in November. (Many folks in Grant County, though, celebrate this holiday alongside the rest of the United States.) The man of honor – President George Washington – is credited to have been one of the first prominent farmers to breed and use mules in the United States.

A mule is a combination of a male donkey and a female horse. Mules are used for a variety of purposes, from work in agriculture to the military.

There are a number of geographic features in northwestern Grant County named after the mule. These include Mule Mountains, Mule Creek, and Mule Springs.

While mules were bred in what is now the United States from long before it became an independent nation, mules were not considered to be critical in ag and transport operations according to a number of news reports. Many of these news reports reference how people considered other animals to be more appropriate for transportation and farming purposes.

"Few of the farmers of this country are aware what a debt of gratitude they owe George Washington for the introduction of mules into general use for the purpose of the farm," reported The Norfolk Landmark in a news article on November 26, 1881. "Previous to 1783, there were very few, and those of such inferior order as to prejudice farmers against them as unfit to compete with horses in work upon the road or farm, consequently there were no jacks; and no disposition to increase the stock, but [President] Washington became convinced that the introduction of mules generally among Southern planters would prove to them a blessing, as they are less liable to disease, longer lived, and work upon shorter feed, and are much less liable to be injured than are horses by careless farm hands."

According to this news article, President Washington secured his initial mules from breeding his horses with a jack (a male donkey) and two jennets (female donkeys) from the royal stables of the King of Spain as well as a jack and a jennet from Malta sent to President Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette. (A second jack from the King of Spain, according to other news reports, did not survive the transatlantic trip from Europe.)

Over a period of years, as a farmer, President Washington bred these animals and supplied a number of other farmers with mules.

Beyond the South, mules were utilized by settlers coming to and traveling through the Rocky Mountain region. The National Park Service reported that "New Mexican traders moved locally-produced merchandise across what is now six states to exchange for mules and horses."

Mules have long been part of the development of Silver City and Grant County. On March 7, 1893, the Southwest Sentinel of Silver City detailed new laws passed by the government of New Mexico Territory. One of those new laws was "An act preventing the temporary use of any horse, mule, or other animal without the consent of the owner." This act had been approved in Santa Fe on January 24, 1893.

The same newspaper reported that "An ore hauler from Pinos Altos lost a valuable mule one day last week," in a news article dated February 13, 1894. "A hard pull had just been made when the mule dropped dead in the harness."

New Mexico taxed each mule within its borders. The Eagle of Silver City reported on January 16, 1895, that the Territorial Board of Equalization "…has fixed the rates of assessment in a number of instances…[with] all American mules at $20 per head, all Mexican mules at $6 per head…"

The photograph below highlights that mules were used in Grant County decades before New Mexico was a territory of the United States and long before Grant County even existed. The caption for this photo from 1940 states that it shows the "Largest open pit copper mine in the world at Santa Rita, New Mexico. Copper was discovered here by an officer of the Spanish army in 1800 who sold the same to a wealthy Spanish merchant. Pure native copper was transported by pack mule to Mexico City to enter the royal mint for coinage. In 1900, a young mining engineer became interested in the development and was instrumental in the ultimate success of the Chino Copper Company. The ore is now shipped to Hurley, a short distance to the south, where it is put through a five million dollar smelter [now closed]."

mule packs santa rita mine russell lee library of congress may 1940 65Santa Rita Mine in Grant County. (The photograph was produced by Russell Lee and provided courtesy of the Library of Congress, May of 1940.)

Santa Rita Mine in Grant County.
(The photograph was produced by Russell Lee and provided courtesy of the Library of Congress, May of 1940.)

Do you have questions about communities in Grant County?

A street name? A building?

Your questions may be used in a future news column.

Contact Richard McDonough at

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© 2022 Richard McDonough

Georgia Lee Witt Lusk

The Chronicles Of Grant County

georgia lee witt lusk u s house of representativesGeorgia Lee Witt Lusk. (The photograph was provided courtesy of the United States House of Representatives.)

Georgia Lee Witt Lusk was the first woman elected to the United States Congress from New Mexico. She was one of two women who had connections to Grant County – the other was Isabella Selmes Greenway – who each became the first women to represent their state in the U S Congress. Representative Greenway represented the State of Arizona.

Georgia Lee Witt was born to George and Mary Isabel Witt in Carlsbad, New Mexico, in 1893. She attended New Mexico Normal University (today known as "New Mexico Highlands University") in Las Vegas and Colorado State Teachers College (today known as the "University of Northern Colorado") in Greeley before attending and graduating from New Mexico State Teachers College (today known as "Western New Mexico University") in Silver City in 1914.

A year later, she married Dolph Lusk in 1915; he was a rancher in Lea County in the far southeastern section of New Mexico. Together, they had three sons. Mr. Lusk died in 1919. According to her official biography from the U S House of Representatives, Mrs. Lusk managed the family ranch as a widow from 1919 to 1943.

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Isabella Selmes Greenway

The Chronicles Of Grant County

Isabella Selmes Greenway

isabella selmes greenway u s house of representatives 1933Isabella Selmes Greenway. (The photograph was provided courtesy of the United States House of Representatives, 1933.)

Isabella Selmes Greenway. (The photograph was provided courtesy of the United States House of Representatives, 1933.)

Isabella Dinsmore Selmes was the first woman elected to the United States Congress from Arizona. She was one of two women who had connections to Grant County and became the first women to represent their states in the U S Congress.

Born in Boone County, Kentucky, in 1886, she lived in several locales – North Dakota, Minnesota, and New York – before moving to New Mexico. Miss Selmes eventually had three different surnames due to being widowed twice and her marriages to three different men – Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Greenway, and Mr. King.

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The Official Use Of "Squaw" In Grant County

The Chronicles Of Grant County

The Official Use Of "Squaw" In Grant County

squaw creek grant county usgs 1911 green circle copySquaw Creek (in the green circle) is one of the geographic features with this name in Grant County. (This topographical map was provided courtesy of the United States Geological Survey, 1911.)

Grant County includes at least two geographic features with names that have been deemed derogatory by the Federal government. Squaw Creek is a stream located in the far northeast section of Grant County. In the same section is the Squaw Creek Ridge Tank; this feature is located to the west of Route 61, north of Rocky Point. At least two times in the past, in advertisements by the Federal government in 1968 and 1970, "Squaw Unit" was the name for a section of the Gila National Forest.

In other counties in New Mexico, there are at least eleven additional geographic features that include this same five-letter derogatory name. Also, there are at least seven roadways bearing this derogatory name in local communities in the state; none of those streets is in Grant County.

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Negro Canyon In Grant County

The Chronicles Of Grant County

Negro Canyon In Grant County

negro canyon topo map usgs 2019 blue circle 60Negro Canyon is located in the Mangas Valley near Cedar Canyon in Grant County. (The topographical map was provided courtesy of the United States Geological Survey, 2019.)

There was a time in American history when a word that is considered by many to be one of the most derogatory words in the English language was used to designate a number of geographic features. That word – "n****r" – is today often abbreviated in this manner to avoid offending people. In years past, though, the name was fully spelled out in official governmental maps to highlight waterbodies, hills, canyons, and other geographic features. The word was also used as a street name in a number of communities in our country.

Grant County was no different from many other places in the United States. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) database of Geographic Names includes details on "Negro Canyon" in Grant County. The canyon is located north of Mangas Valley Road between Tyrone and Burro Peak; it is listed as being at an elevation of 5,643 feet above sea level.

For years, this geographic feature was once known as "N****r Canyon." Why it received this specific name is unknown. The specific year when the name was changed to "Negro Canyon" is uncertain, but may have taken place in the early 1960s. A map from 1950, shown below, includes the former name for this canyon.

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Franklin D. Roosevelt Visited Grant County

The Chronicles Of Grant County

Franklin Roosevelt Visited Grant County

franklin d. roosevelt mrs. selmes isabella selmes ferguson and robert ferguson in silver city nm. national archives franklin d. roosevelt library two 35Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt are seen to the right in this photograph as they visited Grant County in May of 1912. Mrs. Tilden Selmes and her daughter, Isabella Selmes Ferguson, are seen to the left in the photograph. Robert Ferguson, husband of Isabella Selmes Ferguson, evidently took this photo. (The photograph was provided courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library of The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1912.)

Years before he became President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Grant County on at least two separate occasions. According to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library of The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Franklin and his wife, Eleanor, visited the Ferguson family in the Burro Mountains in 1912; news articles indicated a second visit took place in 1914.

In her autobiography, This Is My Story, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke of one of her visits to Silver City with Isabella Ferguson: "As we wandered down the Silver City streets, I saw my first cowboy...Instead of reading of it in a book, I was seeing it and I was thrilled."

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