N.M. pioneers present for Texico’s start

Don McAlavy

Back in 1943, Ira Taylor and his wife had an auction of their livestock and property near Texico. “Colonel” Dick Dosher conducted the auction that Jan. 6.
It was announced that the Taylors were writing the final chapter for the residents of Texico’s undisputed original pioneer family. They were pulling up stakes after living more than 40 years on the same plot they had homesteaded since shortly after the turn of the century.
The Taylors came to this section of the country in 1899. “I would have gotten here in December of 1898, but I had to stop in Amarillo and help build a railroad, and I was about two weeks late, reaching the townsite where Texico would be built early in January of 1899,” Ira Taylor said.
The first 16 months of their residence in New Mexico, the Taylors lived in Portales, where Taylor worked with his father-in-law, C. M. Dobbs, with a well-drilling outfit. After that, he landed a job with a Santa Fe Railroad section crew.
“Later I was to be promoted to a crew foreman, or ‘ring-snipe,’ Taylor said.
“When we came here this country was not open to homesteaders; it had never been surveyed up to that time and you could only exercise squatter’s rights, which I did. I first squatted on the Texico townsite, but later decided that I had rather have the location six miles southwest of town, and moved out there, where we lived in a half dugout for many years.
“The first settlers began to find their way into what was later to become the city of Texico in 1902, with the building of the Belen Cutoff by the Santa Fe Railroad. Will Roberts of Hereford, Texas, was the first Texico merchant,” Taylor recalled. Roberts had a stock of groceries and his store was about a block south of the Red Cross Pharmacy.
Then a man by the name of Tally (or maybe Talley) opened a similar store.
“The entire plains region was teeming with antelope, and you could count hundreds in one herd. It was no object any time to have all the fresh meat you wanted. But we grew mighty tired of it,” Taylor said.
Mrs. Ira Taylor said their son, Ira Jr., was the first child born in Texico. He arrived on July 8, 1902, when the Taylors were living in the Santa Fe section house in Texico. The building had been moved from Hereford, where it had served as the passenger station.
(The Taylors came here from Johnson County, Texas, two years after they were married. They had the one son before they came to Texico, and they had eight more children after coming to New Mexico.)
“About two or three times a year we would get our mail from some cowboy who happened to be in Dimmitt (Texas) and would bring out the mail for all the settlers. After the railroad was built, the mail came through regularly,” Taylor said.
When asked recently about their plans for the future, Taylor replied, “We’re not burning any bridges behind us. For the next few months we plan to visit with our children who are scattered up and down the west coast from Long Beach to Seattle. If my wife’s health improves, I’ll likely find some light work and stay on the coast. If not, we’ll likely return to Texico for the remainder of our days.”
Another old timer disputes Ira Taylor’s claim as being the first settler in Texico. In a brief history of Texico in 1913, W. M. “Uncle Benny” Franklin said he was the first man to settle on the spot where Texico now stands. He came in March of 1902, saw no one there, went to Portales but came back in May 1902 and built the first house at Texico. That same spring George Probasco and Don O. Neely filed claims just south of Texico. Aaron Ragsdale had a claim north of the town. A Mr. Green reported to the Clovis News in 1913 that “I came prospecting in August of 1902 and located in Texico in November of 1902.” Then there was only one store, a restaurant and a saloon, Green reported.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:
donmcalavy@plateautel.net