Journal of Big Bend Studies

Robert J. Mallouf, Series Editor
Kelly S. Garcia, Technical Editor(s)

©1997  Center for Big Bend Studies
166 pages

Out of Print

Table of Contents

Cradles, Cribs, and Mattresses: Prehistoric Sleeping Accommodations in the Chihuahuan Desert
Solveig Turpin

Two dry rockshelters, one in northern Coahuila and one in southwestern Texas, produced well-preserved examples of early bedding. Six radiocarbon dates indicate that the beds range in age from Middle Archaic to Late Prehistoric but all are similar in design and use of readily available fibrous material. Each consists of a base, in all cases overlapping prickly pear pads; a frame of sticks, rocks, or bent agave; and padding, either grass or shredded sotol leaves. The one infant nest was apparently also warmed by heated rocks placed beneath the sotol padding. Variability is in part attributable to differences in resource availability but innovation is credited to the women who were probably responsible for their construction. These features, which were apparently designed to counteract the ever-present ashy dust and inclement weather, are but another example of the expedient efficiency of the regional fiber industry.

Acebuches and Cueva del Águila, Two Pictograph Sites in North-Central Coahuila, Mexico
Terry T. Saythe

Two rock art sites in north-central Coahuila, Mexico, are discussed. La Tinaja de Acebuches is a large historic site about 100 km south of Big Bend National Park. Paintings there include depictions of firearms, horses, wagons, birds, and anthropomorphs. Figures with feathered headdresses indicate a probable Plains Indian connection. The second site, La Cueva del Águila, 200 km farther south, has a single anthropomorph and one aviomorph. It is suggested that the same artist may have painted at both of these localities and possibly at a third site.

Colonel “Winker” Valdés: “El Azote de los Indios”
Ben E. Pingenot

To Mexican citizens in Coahuila and American soldiers on the Texas borderland frontier in the late nineteenth century, Pedro Advíncula Valdés, a Mexican army officer known as Colonel “Winker,” was highly esteemed for his Indian fighting accomplishments on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. During the French intervention in Mexico, Valdés attacked and defeated a much larger French force, for which he was awarded Mexico’s highest decoration. During the 1870s Valdés commanded a cavalry regiment on the frontier of northern Coahuila which brought him into contact and near conflict with U.S. Army troops

The Mays Fight: A Reappraisal of a Neglected Action
Neil C. Mangum

In 1861 a small Confederate detachment from Fort Davis engaged a band of Mescalero Apaches in a brief but deadly confrontation in the Big Bend. A lone non-Indian survivor escaped prior to the battle’s conclusion but could not provide much detail about the encounter. A summary of this poorly documented and enigmatic event is provided, along with inferences concerning the battle location and ultimate fate of the participants’ remains. When viewed in a broader context, this seemingly minor skirmish may have greater historical significance than previously ascribed by scholars.

Mexico 1910-1920: The Lost Revolution
Ruben Osorio

A series of oral interviews and manuscripts provide significant insight into the attitudes of inhabitants of northern Mexico toward General Francisco Villa during and after the Mexican Revolution. Opposing viewpoints held by members of the gentry and peasantry are particularly evident among interviews that address Villa’s assassination in 1923

A Short History of Pecos Spring
Glenn P. Willeford

Pecos Spring in Pecos County near Sheffield, Texas, was a major source of fresh water during prehistoric and historic periods. Located roughly halfway between San Antonio and El Paso, the spring provided welcome relief for travelers along the historic Lower Road, as well as for roving Comanches and other Native American bands who made travel across west Texas a dangerous proposition.

The Development of a City Preservation Plan Based on the Historical Analysis of Urban Settlement Patterns in Laredo, Texas
Nina Nixon-Méndez

The bicultural development of Laredo, from a small Spanish settlement to a bustling metropolitan city, is evident in its urban landscape. Central to the urbanization of Laredo was the development of a grid pattern based on the Spanish plaza settlement system. Another element which strongly influenced the city’s development was the establishment of barrios, or enclaves, fueled by the early twentieth century oil and gas boom coupled with a major migration northward during the Mexican Revolution. The Historic Preservation Plan addresses the regulatory, technical, and financial strategies essential to the preservation of historic commercial and residential areas.

Characteristics of Big Bend Mining Towns, 1885-1920
Paul Wright

Social and economic characteristics of Shafter compared to those of the mercury mining settlements are presented for the period from their inceptions to 1920. This study shows that although there were marked differences in the settlements, they tended to lessen over time. All of the mining settlements differed markedly from nonmining settlements in the Big Bend due to the unique nature of mining in comparison with other occupations.

A Big Bend Christmas Composite: Recollections of Christmas
JoAnn Pospisil

Christmas. A season of traditions that have evolved through the centuries. Traditions of generosity and sharing; family gatherings; special foods, decorations, and music; greeting cards; and magical memories of a jovial Santa Claus. These traditions are held inviolate in theory, but vary widely in practice. It is these variations of common themes that give texture to the Christmas experience and attest to human adaptation, flexibility, and resourcefulness. Memories of Christmases in the Big Bend provide a microcosm of these variances. Interviews with Big Bend residents reveal a colorful, richly diverse, and enchanting Big Bend Christmas composite.

Terlingua Ranch: A History of Land Development in Southern Brewster County, Texas
Carolyn Ohl

The early history of Terlingua Ranch is linked to a number of well-known figures who played important roles in the ranching industry of the Big Bend, including John Gano, Edward and Alfred Gage, James Gillett, Maurice Minchen, and others. Today the 198,000 acre “ranch” is divided among thousands of resident and nonresident owners, has over 1,000 miles of roads, and offers motel and restaurant accommodations to both property owners and tourists. It is home to some and playground for many, but remains somewhat of an enigma to the region’s long-time resident families.

Chiconics: Voice of The Barrio
Abelardo Baeza

A large percentage of Hispanics, whether native or foreign born, learn enough English to survive in American society, but many never really master the language. Hispanic students who learn English as a second language often use a hybrid form of communication, termed Chiconics by linguists, that consists of a mixture of Spanish and English. A recent controversy over Ebonics in California has stirred an introspective look at the role of Chiconics in Hispanic American culture.