Author Topic: A different kind of survival story  (Read 1342 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Orbean

  • Water Stone
  • ***
  • Posts: 1126
A different kind of survival story
« on: January 14, 2018, 10:55:14 AM »
This was written by my uncle based on his experiences on winter in 1950

My winter experience at El Rancho Viejo occurred back in 1590 when i was 14 years old and my dad was 42.

El Rancho Viejo is situated in the middle of the Sangre De Christo Mts about 12 miles north of Santa Fe. Back when i was growing up raising cattle was done on an open range. There were no fences. Ranchers all knew their territory and their own cattle by the special brands. At that time it was a common occurrence on most ranches for cattle to stray from the herd and become lost and wild.

One winter while checking on the cattle at our ranch in Buckman (known today as RAncho Las Campanas my father Jose (de la Luz) Ortiz and my uncle Abelino Ortiz, found a cow and a calf that had been missing for some time. It was very cold and starting to get very dark quickly, so they roped the calf and tied it so it would not wander. This assured them that the cow would remain nearby and they could return the following day and find both of them to take them to the farm for the winter. They returned the following day and found that when they tied the calf's foot the calf could not move and the foot froze. As a result the calf lost half a hoof. The took both back to the farm where they remained until spring.

In the spring the cows were again taken to the high sierras to El Rancho Viejo. All the cattle returned to the homestead the following fall except for the rescued cow and calf, who had apparently wandered off. Three years later a forest ranger flying over El Rancho spotted the two, the calf now a bull. Everyone was aware my dad had been looking for those two cows, so when the ranger saw them he notified my dad. My dad decided we should go to the ranch and try to locate them.

Early the next morning, at sunrise, my dad and i saddled the horses and left to go the the ranch. We had to follow an upper trail, since it was very difficult to travel the regular trail along the Nambe river in the winter. The Nambe river had to be crossed several times along the trail and the river was frozen at that time of year.

We rode along the trail we had selected until the snow got so deep we could no longer see the trail. When we finally reached the fence leading into the national forest we could not find the gate. We had to put down the fence to get the horses through. The snow kept getting deeper and was now about four feet deep. The horses started to sink into the snow and could not longer be ridden. We dismounted and led them through the heavy snow. It was at this point that we had to decide whether to continue on or return home. Dad light a cigarette, weighted all our options and tried to make the right decision. He had to have known how much farther the ranch was and how much further we had to walk. Dad had me wait with the horses while he climbed the highest peak in that area. Suddenly i was him running back for the peak. He was very excited because when he climbed to the peak he could see the cabin at the ranch. We continued on to the ranch walking the horses about another mile and a half. When we reached El Canon Del Oso, i saw the most beautiful sight i have ever seen. On the sunny side of the mountain you could see wild animals feeding. There were deer, turkey, quail, and other wild animal. We finally arrive at the cabin at, started a fire, took off our shoes and sock to dry them out and cooked and ate lunch.   

By that time it was 3pm and time to start back home. We took a different route back that would lead us through El Rio Medio. We did however encounter other difficulties along the way. When we reached the river at La Junta, which is where the Nambe river and El Capulin cross the river was frozen and the horses would not cross. We had to scoop up pine needles to make a path so the horses would not be afraid to cross the river.

Once we got the horses to cross we continued on and were half way up the trail when one of the horses, Indio, got his hoof stuck between two rocks. My dad assured me that if we used leverage we could get Indio's hoof out. My dad found a large branch to pry up the rocks and freed Indio's hoof. After the horse was free we proceeded on the trail and the weather kept getting colder and colder. It became so cold that we could no longer ride or we would freeze. we got off the horses and had to trot all the way home. We arrived home at 1am and found my mother looking out the window. She was worried that we had not returned and was thankful we made it back safely. This was a very dangerous experience, one i will  not forget.

Years later, my dad would admit to me that it was one of his most difficult decisions. He had not forseen how dangerous our situation had become nor did he anticipate how long it would take us to get home. Risking our lives was just something that he should not have done.

Yes the cow and calf were found and brought back to the farm. The most fascinating part was when they brought the two back the bull was still nursing from the cow.

This is one of the stories that mu uncle wrote down so it could be passed on the the next generation. My grandfather was the last of the old cowboys and had been an extra in my old west movies that were filmed outside of Santa Fe.  He was in movies with Tom Mix and other famous actors and is something i am proud of today. He was a simple man and a great one.
Nice matters

Offline PetrifiedWood

  • Friction Fire Fellowship
  • Administrator
  • Belt Grinder
  • ******
  • Posts: 11349
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2018, 11:17:51 AM »
Great story! Thanks for sharing that with us.

Offline wolfy

  • Supporting Member
  • Belt Grinder
  • *****
  • Posts: 18269
  • "You want a toe? I can get you a toe." -Sobchak
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2018, 11:24:38 AM »
What a great story, Orbean....I like reading things like that. :thumbsup:   Good ol' boys and family history are important to me, too.  You're fortunate, in that your uncle & Dad took the time to get an early account of 'everyday' family history down on paper before it was lost to the mists of time! :hail: :hail:   

Thank you for relating it to us here on the forum. :cheers:    Do you know the names of any of the movies that your grandfather appeared in, and if they are archived somewhere?  :popcorn:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline Orbean

  • Water Stone
  • ***
  • Posts: 1126
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2018, 11:36:31 AM »
What a great story, Orbean....I like reading things like that. :thumbsup:   Good ol' boys and family history are important to me, too.  You're fortunate, in that your uncle & Dad took the time to get an early account of 'everyday' family history down on paper before it was lost to the mists of time! :hail: :hail:   

Thank you for relating it to us here on the forum. :cheers:    Do you know the names of any of the movies that your grandfather appeared in, and if they are archived somewhere?  :popcorn:
I don't, have asked but nobody seems to know. My grandpa was a quiet man and anything that seem like bragging would have been against his nature. I am afraid it is lost to history. I should start looking into movies that were filmed in and around santa fe. These were movies that were made in the twenties and thirties, but there are family stories about Tom Mix and how nice a man he was.
Nice matters

Offline Old Philosopher

  • Belt Grinder
  • *****
  • Posts: 16129
  • "I have an opinion about that...."
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2018, 12:23:52 PM »
Great share! Thanks!
My Grandfather kept a journal that spanned 4 notebooks.  He was born in 1886, and grew up along the Cedar River (in a suburb of Maple Valley) in Washington. His stories go all the way back to taking the horse and wagon on supply trips into Renton. It was an over-night trip. Now it's a 15 minute drive.

He wrote down every hunting trip he was on, into his 70's. I was always planning to transcribe his notebooks and putting them on CD for his heirs, but I fear I'm running out of time.
I only do what the voices in my wife's head tell her to tell me to do.

Offline hunter63

  • Water Stone
  • ***
  • Posts: 2210
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2018, 12:33:41 PM »
Cool....Great story...Thanks for posting....
Bring back many good memories.....that kind of stuck....LOL

Too bad I didn't write down some of the stories MF, GF and Uncles would reliving and retellings.... at family get togethers.

Of course I was probably too young to know how to write...but would listen from the dining room army cots...where the older kids slept during overnight visits.

They would be in the kitchen, drinking a few cold ones...smoking, laughing and retelling those stories....and I and my cousins drifted off to sleep.....
Those started with, There we were up on the ridge...or on the lake....or those woods over at Old Man Jackson's place...

Women would in the living room gossiping about  relatives that were not there....

Biggest thing I can remember of those women's stories... they kinda all started with ..."Did you know the Johnson boy has taken up with that italian girl....Bla Bla...
Things haven't changed much....LOL 
Geezer Squad, Evoking the 50 year old rule..First 50 years, worried about the small stuff, second 50 years....Not so much

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 8447
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2018, 12:34:30 PM »
I don't, have asked but nobody seems to know. My grandpa was a quiet man and anything that seem like bragging would have been against his nature. I am afraid it is lost to history. I should start looking into movies that were filmed in and around santa fe. These were movies that were made in the twenties and thirties, but there are family stories about Tom Mix and how nice a man he was.

Great story Orbean, it is good to have those kind of memories written down.

As to movies your grandfather was in what was his full name? 
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline Orbean

  • Water Stone
  • ***
  • Posts: 1126
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2018, 12:58:37 PM »
I don't, have asked but nobody seems to know. My grandpa was a quiet man and anything that seem like bragging would have been against his nature. I am afraid it is lost to history. I should start looking into movies that were filmed in and around santa fe. These were movies that were made in the twenties and thirties, but there are family stories about Tom Mix and how nice a man he was.

Great story Orbean, it is good to have those kind of memories written down.

As to movies your grandfather was in what was his full name?

Jose De La Luz Ortiz
Nice matters

Offline kanukkarhu

  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 5898
  • Canadian Woods Loafer & Certified Nobody
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2018, 04:39:59 PM »
Very cool story. Family history like that is important to hold on to, for sure.
What if you woke up today, with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

Offline Phaedrus

  • Whetstone
  • **
  • Posts: 91
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2018, 03:24:17 AM »
A great story!

Offline Unknown

  • Water Stone
  • ***
  • Posts: 3077
  • Alcholocost of Gibberish
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2018, 04:12:25 AM »
A good story. The tale written in his own hand will surely become a greater treasure to each new generation. That is really nice. For posterity it would be cool if there was a map, some photos of the area and such. And of course, why not add some tales of your own. :cheers:

It also occurs to me- have you made the trip described, except on a warm sunny day?
It is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war

Offline wolfy

  • Supporting Member
  • Belt Grinder
  • *****
  • Posts: 18269
  • "You want a toe? I can get you a toe." -Sobchak
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2018, 10:21:26 AM »
WARNING: LONG WOLFY STORY!

A couple of years ago I read a book consisting of translated letters, written by a German-speaking surveyor with the Fremont Expedition, to his wife back home on the East coast.  It gave insights into the personalities of some of the more famous mountain men that were hired as guides by Fremont, the camping conditions, hardships and Fremont's stubborn & extreme quirkiness.  If those letters had been lost, we would never have known a lot about those guys and how they interacted on a day-to-day basis.  The author was constantly complaining about camp conditions, Fremont himself, the guide's route-picking decisions, etc., so many of the incidents he wrote about were downright  hilarious to read. :lol:

A couple of years ago when we were visiting The Museum of The Fur Trade in Chadron, I found a book that I would have purchased that day if I hadn't already been paying a small fortune for the ones had already selected.  When I was deep in a brain-picking session with Dr. James Hanson in his office at the museum, Heather clandestinely slipped back into the book section and bought it for me for a Christmas present.  She is a GOOD wife! 

I just ran across it a couple of days ago and, since I had not yet had the chance to read it, read the preface again and re-discovered why I wanted it in the first place. ???     The title is THIS FAR-OFF LAND.....The Upper Missouri Letters of Andrew Dawson by Lesley Wischmann and Dawson's descendent, Andrew Erskine Dawson.  Andrew Dawson was a Scot, as were many of the American Fur Company fort factors and fur company clerks and bookkeepers of that period.  He left his mother and siblings back home in Scotland, but wrote long, hand-to-hand-carried letters to his mother with the intent that they should be passed on to his brothers to read, also.  They are written in 'cross-hatch' style, which was common then.  He would write until the page was full, turn the paper 90 degrees and then write over it until the page was full again.  It must have been a real nightmare to translate!

All of the surviving letters were written over a period of several years when he was stationed at Forts Berthold, Clark and Benton in Montana on the upper Missouri as the Mackinaw boats were being replaced by shallow-draft steamboats.  He was a very descriptive writer, so his mother saved all of his letters in cubbyhole in an old writing desk. 

Long story, I know, but the gist of it is that the letters lay undiscovered in that old desk through four generations and three trips across the Atlantic before they came to light!  If his direct descendant, Andrew Erskine Dawson had not recognized there historical worth, we would have lost that very interesting, educational and valuable facet of American history! :hail:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 8447
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2018, 11:09:19 AM »
Fremont was a bit of a glory seeker and it got him in a lot of trouble.  In his expedition through the southern Rockies into the San Juan mountains in the winter of 1848 he pushed on into the snow filled mountains with Old Bill Williams as a guide.  Williams may have told him it was folly and the expedition wound up being rescued after losing most of their stock and ten men and abandoning a lot of gear.  Some of their artifacts and sleds were found back in the thirties at their camp (Camp Hope) and are in a museum in Southern Colorado.  Your book sounds like a good one Wolfy. 
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline wolfy

  • Supporting Member
  • Belt Grinder
  • *****
  • Posts: 18269
  • "You want a toe? I can get you a toe." -Sobchak
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2018, 01:16:35 PM »
The German surveyor/author of that fascinating collection of translated letters to his wife was Charles Ludwig Preuss.  He talks extensively of Bill Williams and his warnings & reluctance to guide Fremont and the rest of the party in that ill-fated trip.  Fremont was wrong and it cost many of the men their lives.  :P

OH BOY!!......another fur trade-related museum to explore! :banana:

Heather will be thrilled. :rolleyes: :lol:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 8447
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2018, 03:18:02 PM »
I don't know which of the museums has the stuff but this link will give you some idea..........

http://www.museumtrail.org/museums.html

You can hit the Sand Dunes while you are there too.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)

Offline xj35s

  • Water Stone
  • ***
  • Posts: 2022
  • If I go missing, carladerby at gmail for info.
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2018, 04:13:25 PM »
Growing up my neighbors house burned. In one of the walls they found a diary and it had info on a slave being hung in a tree in my front yard.

I asked the Mom about it a couple years ago and she had no idea what happened to it. Her two son's don't know either.

The interesting part of this story is My parents bedroom. It had a walk in closet 6' wide and 12' deep. In the far right corner near the ceiling was a 20"x20" square opening. A piece of wood that slid open and closed. Behind that was another room 6'x12' with no other opening than that 20" square.

I truly believe now that our house was a part of the underground railroad. I wish I took more interest in these facts as a kid. Harriet Tubman's house is in Auburn, now a museum. Maybe this summer I'll do some serious investigating and introduce the thought to the new owners.

It is important to keep old documents. Little windows into the past that can add up to a story of facts.
 
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline wsdstan

  • Supporting Member
  • Diamond Stone
  • ****
  • Posts: 8447
Re: A different kind of survival story
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2018, 05:32:39 PM »
It would be interesting to pursue that.  The UR operated from about 1831 to 1861 and escaped slaves were taken as far as Canada so if your folks house is in an area that they used it is possible. 

Here is a list of the houses that were part of the UR and there are a few in New York. 

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/states.htm
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)