|Santa Fe Trail cut just south of Cimarron, NM, north of Villa Philmont (through the low point of the fence line)|
One reason why I leave out the names of others in my stories when I blog is because I know that two people in the same place at the same time in the same conversation can experience it all so differently. I don't want to bind anyone in to my understandings as honestly as I try to express them as I allow them the freedom to do the same even if differently.
|Tooth of Time Ridge from the Santa Fe Trail above Uracca Creek|
We got in the car and the first question he asked was whether my interest in historic trails is connected to my Mormonism. I conceded that it certainly was, but also that I was born beside the Oregon Trail ruts and lived for a few years in Santa Fe so I just couldn't help but be interested. And I conceded that my interest in the Santa Fe Trail was related to the Mormon Battalion history and we talked a little about that.
The next thing he said I'm sure made my eyes widen a little yet the emotional wave that came over was one of warm, bittersweet charity as he told me that he had ancestors who had lived in Carthage and while there were various versions of the story in his family, whether they did or didn't do certain things, no doubt there was some connection to the tragedy of June 27, 1844 at the jail. He went on to explain that he had some sort of "making right" over the years in his associations with many Mormon friends and the rather odd statement that he felt that he had influenced several people to join the Mormon Church. As of yet, he has not. I jumped in to say that he shouldn't feel guilty for past generations and that many of the instigators or leaders of the mob were actually disaffected Mormons full of resentments and anger. He said he didn't know that but that it made sense in a human nature sort of way. Yes, it certainly does.
|Santa Fe Trail south from NM SR 120 and Ocate Crossing through Cerro Negro on the left and unnamed mesa on the right|
|Santa Fe Trail Main or Cimarron Cut-off Branch T24N, R24E, Sec. 11 near Roads C44 and C45 Colfax Co., NM looking west-southwest|
Ricketts, Norma Baldwin, The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West 1846-1848 (Utah State University Press, Logan, Utah 1996), p. 235.They reached the settlement of Cimarron on October 27, 1846. The Santa Fe Trail turned northeast Toward Raton Pass. Milton Smith died October 27 and was buried the next day near a tributary of the Canadian River. He was wrapped in tall grass and cane before he was buried. His grave was covered with large stones to keep the wolves away.
"Old Town" Cimarron, which I assume would have been the Spanish/Mexican village before the arrival of more Anglos after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, is on the south side of the Cimarron River. As they knew they were in Cimarron, they must have known the the river was the Cimarron and would have referred to it as such. I think it unlikely Bro. Smith would have been buried on the banks of the Cimarron as they referred to an unnamed tributary. Just about a mile past the crossing at Cimmaron, on the other side of what would be "New Town" Cimarron, around a small ridge, is Ponil Creek, also a tributary, eventually, of the Canadian. My hunch is that is where the burial was. I have not been able to confirm any more precise location or any record of the discovery of any such grave. My cursory look on new.familysearch indicates Milton may have only been 21 years old without much family to carry on a legacy. His Temple work appears to have been done.
|Current Highway 64 crossing Ponil Creek near original Santa Fe Trail out of Cimarron going north to Raton|
|Looking north towards Cimarron and Raton from Santa Fe Trail above and to the south of Urraca Creek, August 4, 2011|