November 2018

History Lessons

Taking a Look Back column by John McVey Middagh

See also: At the Museum

Menu of this month's listings, stories and columns



Fort Bayard Tours — Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society host walking tours of the historic fort beginning at 9:30 a.m. each Saturday in November at Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark, six miles east of Silver City, N.M. off U.S. 180. Tour begins at Commanding Officer’s Quarter and museum (House 26). Museum is open 9:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday. Tour takes about 90 minutes. Admission is free, but donations appreciated. Information, group tours: (575) 956-3294 or (575) 574-8779.
On Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, a service is at 10 a.m. at Fort Bayard National Cemetery; and the museum will be open until 1 p.m.
Fort Bayard served as an army post from 1866 to 1899 and army tuberculosis hospital from 1899 to 1920.
  Related nearby events:
  The free film series, “Comrades in Arms, Companions in Death; the Final Years of WWI” is 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 and 8, at the Santa Clara National Guard Armory, Hwy 180 East. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free; donations welcome.
  Susan Heske of Bosque Farms, N. M., will present “European Battlefields of WWI” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the armory. Refreshments served.

Hall of Honor banquet — El Paso County Historical Society’s 58th annual banquet honoring those who have made lasting contributions to El Paso is 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at El Paso Country Club, 5000 Country Club. Silent auction will be held. Tickets: $100. Proceeds benefit the preservation of the Society’s archives and its 106 year-old headquarters. Information: 533-3603, or on Facebook.
  This year’s honorees are Paul Foster, Pres Dehrkoop, Dr. Maceo Dailey and Telesforo Montes.
  Foster is president of Franklin Mountain Management, LLC. He is the founder and former executive chairman of Western Refining, Inc.
  Dehrkoop has been part of El Paso’s historic preservation community for decades and has served on the boards of the El Paso County Historical Commission, Twelve Travelers and Casa Magoffin Compañeros.
  Dailey (1943-2015) was chair of UTEP’s African American Studies Program and served on numerous boards including the McCall Neighborhood Center, Child Crisis Center of El Paso and the El Paso Symphony Orchestra.
  Telesforo Montes (1820-1887) was elected justice of the peace in 1872 and also served as an El Paso County Judge that year. He organized a Texas Rangers Company in 1874 and fought in the Salt Wars in San Elizario.

History Notes Lecture Series — The monthly program is 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, with “Billy The Kid’s Grave” by David Thomas at the Branigan Cultural Center, 501 N. Main, Las Cruces. Admission is free. Information: (575) 541-2154 or

Daughters of the Republic of Texas — The Rio Grande Chapter meets at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at The Greenery inside Sunland Park Mall. Program is History of the Sisters of Loretto” presented by Eva Ross. Anyone interested in Texas history encouraged to attend. RSVP: 760-5775.

Harvey Girls of El Paso — The Harvey Girls of El Paso Texas meet at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at Union Depot Passenger Station, 700 San Francisco. Program is “Show and Tell of Fred Harvey Company Treasures.” Visitors welcome. Admission is free. Information: 591-2326.

Southwest Chapter of Railway & Locomotive Historical Society — The society meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, at El Sarape Restaurant, 5103 Montana. Program is “Railroad Police History” presented by Woody Bare. All train enthusiasts welcome. Information: 591-2326.

El Paso Corral of the Westerners — The monthly dinner program is 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Holiday Inn El Paso-West 900 Sunland Park Drive at I-10. Program is “Salt Wars of the Old West,” Cost: $20. Visitors welcome, but RSVP needed by Nov. 12: 759-9538.

El Paso Genealogy Society — The society meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 7000 Edgemere. Program is “Immigration Practices and Ports of Entry of our Ancestors,” presented by Barbara McCarthy. Visitors welcome. Information: 591-2326.

Old Fort Bliss — Building 5054, corner of Pershing and Pleasanton Roads, Fort Bliss. The Old West days of the “Soldiers of the Pass” are relived through replicas of the original adobe fort buildings and military artifacts of the Magoffinsville Post, 1854 to 1868. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; by appointment only Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 568-4518 or 588-8482 or on Facebook at Old Fort Bliss.

Chamizal National Memorial — 800 S. San Marcial. The National Park Service operates the memorial on land once claimed by Mexico as part of a decades-long dispute over the international boundary. The visitor center has an exhibit on the history of the Chamizal dispute, including a video presentation. Park grounds and picnic area open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for both foot traffic and vehicles; visitor’s center hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturday. Admission is free. Information: 532-7273 or on Facebook at ChamizalNationalMemorial.
  “Tales, Tails and Tots” stories and visits with park mascot Chami are 11 to 11:30 a.m. for ages 3-6 the fourth Saturday of each month.

El Paso History Radio Show — The show runs 10:05 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KTSM AM 690 (and streamed at Documentary filmmaker Jackson Polk hosts the show with reenactor and historian Melissa Sargent. Details of each upcoming show, plus podcasts of previous programs, are at Information: 833-8700.

El Paso Mission Trail Visitor Center — El Paso Mission Trail Association’s center supporting the three historic churches in the Mission Valley — Ysleta Mission, Socorro Mission and San Elizario Chapel — is at 6095 Alameda (at Zaragoza). Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free. Information 790-0661, 851-9997 or

EPCC Archive Collection donations — El Paso Community College will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2019, and is documenting the history of the college by establishing the EPCC Archive Collection. Anyone with memorabilia to donate to the collection such as posters, awards, photographs, brochures, programs, college publications, architectural records, documents on the beginning of the college or more are invited to share. Information: Antonio Rodarte at 831-4052; or Gale Sanchez at 831-4458,
  The community is also invited to share their favorite experiences, funny stories, memories of campuses and colleagues. Information:

Fort Bliss Historical Association — The group meets at 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Fort Bliss museum complex, 1735 Marshall. Information: 269-4831. Dues are $25 a year ($10 students and junior enlisted soldiers).

Los Portales Museum and Visitor Center — 1521 San Elizario Road. The museum is operated by the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, and is housed in an 1850s Territorial-style building across from the San Elizario church. It offers gifts, family trees, historical artifacts as well as information on the “First Thanksgiving” and the Salt War of 1877. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: 851-1682.

Mission Trail — Three historic churches lie within eight miles of each other in El Paso County’s Mission Valley.
• Mission Ysleta — Spanish and Tigua Indian refugees from northern New Mexico founded the community in the 1680s. The first mission was built in 1692 and rebuilt completely in both the 18th and 19th centuries. The current structure was built in 1851. It’s near Zaragoza and Alameda on the Tigua Reservation. Information: 851-9997 (El Paso Mission Trail Association).
• Mission Socorro — The first adobe structure in Socorro was built in 1692, and like nearby Mission Ysleta, was destroyed by floods in later centuries. The current structure dates back to 1843, with additions completed in 1873. It’s off Socorro Road two miles southeast of Ysleta.
• San Elizario Chapel — Established in 1789 as a Spanish presidio, or fort, to protect the Camino Real, San Elizario was the first county seat of El Paso. The church was built in 1877, replacing a church built about 25 years earlier. Technically, San Elizario Chapel is a presidio church, not a mission. It’s on the San Elizario plaza, off Socorro Road, 5.5 miles southeast of Socorro Mission. Nearby is the famous jail that Billy the Kid reportedly broke into to rescue a friend. Group tours are available. For San Elizario tour information, call 851-1682.

San Elizario Veterans Museum and Memorial Walk — The museum, operated and managed by the non-profit San Elizario Veterans Committee of the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, is at 1501-B Main Street in San Elizario. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: Ann Lara, 345-3741 or Ray Borrego, 383-8529.

San Elizario walking tours — The San Elizario Historic District hosts free guided walking tours of its nationally recognized historic district at noon and 3 p.m. the fourth Sunday of the month starting at Main Street Mercantile, 1501 Main Street. Learn about the 17 historic sites of San Elizario, about the arrival of Don Juan de Onate to the area in 1598 and the First Thanksgiving Celebration, the Presidio de San Elizario and the San Elcear Chapel on the Mission Trail. Information: 851-0093 or
  To get there: Take Loop 375 to Socorro Road then go east seven miles to San Elizario. District is on the right. Look for the brown signs.

Scottish Rite Temple tour — The Downtown El Paso historic landmark, 301 W. Missouri, is open to the public for a free walking tour at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Learn about El Paso’s Masonic history, the design and architecture of the theater. Information: 533-4409.

Fort Selden State Monument — The monument, 1280 Fort Selden Road in Radium Springs, 13 miles north of Las Cruces, is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5; (ages 16 and under free). Admission for New Mexico residents with ID is free the first Sunday of each month; and for seniors with ID each Wednesday. Information: (575) 526-8911 or
  Fort Selden was a 19th century adobe fort established to protect early settlers. The monument seeks to preserve the remaining ruins and has a visitor’s center with exhibits of military life at the post. From Las Cruces, take I-25 north to Exit 19.

Fort Stanton — The fort was established and built in 1855 by troopers of the 1st Dragoon Regiment to serve as a base of operations against the Mescalero Apache Indians. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (Hours may be shorter in winter — call for schedule). Admission is free. Information: (575) 354-0341,

Shakespeare Ghost Town — The small pioneer settlement and mining town on the trail to California is just south of Lordsburg, N.M. A 1½-hour tour at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on the second weekend of the month; call to confirm. Cost is $4 ($3 ages 6-12). Information: (575) 542-9034 or
  To get there: From Lordsburg, take the Main Street exit (Exit 22) from Interstate 10 and turn south. Follow signs to Shakespeare.

Taking a Look Back column by John McVey Middagh

Bassett served with famed Dodge lawmen


Lots happened in Dodge City, Kansas where Charlie Bassett was marshal at the same time Wyatt Earp, Bat and Jim Masterson were lawmen. It was a lawless town. Wyatt was assistant marshal, Jim Masterson was a city policeman, and older brother Bat was county sheriff. During the years of 1873-1879 they all reported to Charlie Bassett at one time or another, and he merits more recognition than has been shown him by history.
Bassett was born Oct. 30, 1847, in Massachusetts. When his parents separated, he chose to live with his father until he joined the Union Army in February 1865, two months before the end of the war between the states. He enlisted as a volunteer for a $100 bounty and served only nine months.
From 1865 to 1873 he drifted around the West working as a miner, bartender and buffalo hunter, winding up in Dodge City. Charlie opened the original Long Branch Saloon in 1872 with a partner, running it until they sold to Luke Short. Short’s ownership in the Long Branch would become a pivotal point in Bassett’s life later.
Bassett was elected sheriff of Ford County, serving two terms with Bat Masterson as his assistant. By law Bassett could not run for a third term, so some role-reversal took place. Bat Masterson was elected sheriff and one of the first acts he preformed was to appoint Charlie Bassett his under-sheriff.
While serving as under-sheriff, Bassett also was assistant-marshal to then City Marshal Ed Masterson. Bassett was paid a nice compliment by Mayor Kelly: “Charlie Bassett has had thorough training and is a good man for Dodge City.”
A typical Dodge City incident occurred one hot steamy evening in July 1887, causing Jim Masterson and Wyatt Earp to dash to the scene. A couple of Texas cowboys were leaving the saloon late one evening, returning to their camp just outside of town. After strapping on their six-shooters they decided to depart with a bang. They rode the street horseback, firing their pistols every which way, bringing the two lawmen out into the street. A gun battle ensued causing the cowboys to turn tail and ride out.
As they dashed across a bridge one of the lawmen wounded George Hoy. Nobody else was hurt. The only other damage done was a few lights that were shot out and some bullet holes were added through the walls of the Lady Gay Saloon. The bullets caused all the patrons to flatten out on the floor in haste. At the time Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday were immersed in a game of Spanish monte.
Young Hoy died of his wound days later. He was laid to rest in the finest of fashion by his cowboy brothers. The residents of Dodge thought he’d received his just dues, but still were deeply saddened to hear that he’d passed away, “George was nothing but a poor cowboy,” reported the Ford County Globe.
In November 1879 Bassett resigned his law job in Dodge City and left to roam the West panning for gold. Never successful in that pursuit, he wandered into New Mexico and Texas. Maybe he spent some time in El Paso on his way to San Antonio in 1881. He remained in Texas for two years, then moved to Missouri to manage the Webster and Hughes Marble Hall Saloon. The Kansas City Journal welcomed him by reporting that the “Hon. C. E. Bassett, a well-known cattleman of Kansas and Texas, returned yesterday, after a brief stay in Dodge City. He will remain here for some time.”
In 1883 Bassett was summoned back to Dodge City by Short, who still owned the Long Branch Saloon. The mayor of Dodge had run Short out of town in an effort to clean up the town, closing all the bars and sporting houses. Short put out a call for help, and his friends started showing up, gunmen all, including Bat Masterson, Earp and Bassett.
The town’s businessmen were afraid the crackdown would hurt their businesses when cowboys from Texas arrived at the end of their cattle drive, causing Mayor Deger to recant, and allowing Short and the others to re-open. That ended the possibility of violence. There was not a shot fired. The entire incident still became known as the “Dodge City War.”
All the participants faded back from wherever they had come. Bassett returned to Kansas, opening his own saloon that didn’t last long, then going to work as a bartender for others. By that time he was suffering from inflammatory rheumatism. He traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in hopes that the healing waters there would help. He died Jan. 5, 1896 at age 48.
There is a famous photo out there of some of Short’s friends, who were called the “Dodge City Peace Commission.” Bassett is the only one with a clean-shaven face and has the look of a true bartender.

John McVey Middagh is a former
saddle shop owner. You can reach
him at

El Paso Scene MONTHLY
This month's listings, stories and columns

Feature story
Here's the Ticket
Program Notes
On Stage
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
History Lessons
Film Scene
Keep on Bookin'
Liner Notes
Stage Talk
Gallery Talk


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