Tumbleweed carried message to Texas

By Don McAlavy: Local columnist

In the year of 1903 Tom Brown, a young man of about 22 years, boarded a train for New Mexico’s lonely prairies. Now Tom really did not know just where he was going or what he was going for. He had heard of the wild and woolly west, and something seemed to attract him, so he came.

When Tom arrived at Texico, he seemed to think that was far enough west, although it was just inside of New Mexico. Stepping off the train he said to himself: “I must see the roundup grounds (rodeo grounds)”. As he walked along he found in Texico nine saloons, a post office, a dry-goods and grocery store, and a blacksmith shop, where a middle-aged man was working.

“Good morning, sir,” said Tom. “Is this the wild and wooly west I’ve heard of?”

“It’s wild enough for me,” replied the blacksmith. “There’s been from one to two men killed here every Saturday since I’ve been here.”

“Why killed on Saturday?” asked Tom.

“Because that is payday for the cowboys, and they all come to town!”

Tom saw a rodeo and knew he had reached the wild and woolly west. That night he made up his mind to file on a claim and next day bought lumber to build a one-room shack.

When spring came, Tom has some “visitors,” which the folks there called sandstorms. Upon awaking one morning after a sandstorm he found a large tumbling weed against his front gate. He was lonely so he sat down and wrote a letter:

“Whoever you are or where e’er it may lead,
I am sending you a message by a Tumbling Weed.
And if it bring fortune or if it bring fame,
Whatever may happen the weed’s to blame.
This weed you see, and I may tell,
Must run my errand and run it well.
This tumbling weed
about must go,
As my messenger in New Mexico.
For I’m a lonely man of a far off clan,
To cheer me up, please do what you can.”

He put his address on the letter and then wrapped and tied it to the center of the weed, and addressed it “To Whomsoever it may concern,” and tossed the weed over the gate.

Within a few weeks Tom received a letter from a girl by the name of Lucy Reed, of Amarillo, Texas, who wrote him a very cheerful letter.

Tom’s eyes brighten at this. He soon made a trip to see her. Lucy was about the size of the blacksmith’s wife and had red hair, but was far more beautiful and didn’t ask so many foolish questions.

Within a few years Tom had made his farm Star of the West into a summer resort with many beautiful orchards and parks. He built a big reservoir on which they could go boat riding. In the meantime he made many trips to Amarillo for trees and to visit Lucy, whom he wooed and married and brought to his New Mexico mansion.

(This story was originally written by Reuben Boone. In 1920 it appeared in the Clovis High School annual. All the girl students loved it! “It was so romantic,” one of the girls said).

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at: