Lenora Myers Hanson


Written by Raymond Hanson. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”


Grandmother Lenora Myers Hanson, a native of Newport, Indiana and later “the first white woman living on the North Fork of the Solomon river in Kansas” had early ties to the Trinidad community. After his discharge from the Union army, her husband Morgan Hanson, entered this area as a “buffalo hunter”, temporarily settled here and later encouraged his wife to leave their homestead in Kansas, where the town of Lenora had been named for her, to come to the move into the Trinidad area. The town was, she said, a “mere cluster of adobe huts at that date” Morgan Hanson, member of the 115th Volunteer Infantry regiment of Illinois, and his 17 year old bride had migrated into Kansas from their home in Tower Hill, Ill., then came to the valley of the Purgatory river.

Their first child, Bertha, was born in Kansas and died there of “summer complaint”about 1867-69? Melvin Hanson was born to them in 1870 while on the Solomon, followed by Hattie in 1873, and Charles A. in 1874. It was about this time that the family decided to remove from Kansas permanently and to come to Trinidad, prior to removing into New Mexico.

Morgan, the hunter, wore his hair long as was the prevailing custom among buffalo hunters and frontiersmen of the day. He was referred to by his Kansas neighbors, somewhat irreverently, as a “Long haired Jesus”.

In 1875 he signed a contract with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad to provide wild meat and game for their construction crews meals as that railroad worked on completion of the “Glorieta Cut” near Santa Fe. Shortly thereafter Morgan sent for his wife and family to come to Glorieta where they set up housekeeping and they set up a small store and a saloon in addition to acting as postmaster and an Indian Agent.

Leaving Trinidad was a chore left to his wife,who engaged two covered wagons, loaded them with all her belongings and her three children and headed south, accompanied by a single outrider, Nate Andes, a brother in law from Tower Hill, Ill. A strange tale is told of Nate; while this trip was made in 1875 and Lenora affirms that he accompanied them all the way to Glorieta, historical accounts in Kansas say that Nate was killed by Indians on the Republican river in 1873 and was buried there. This is not the first odd story in the Trinidad region. The trek westward from Kansas was a strenuous one, crossing the plains to the frontier town Trinidad with its assortment of characters, both law abiding and others, was a worrisome event to Lenora and her children.

Within days of leaving Trinidad and heading up the Santa Fe Trail, the difficult task of climbing the pass began. Immediately Lenora began to miss her neighbors and her church e Church of God, a small congregation that she had chosen to supplant her earlier Quaker church from which she had been banned for marrying an unchurched exsoldier.

With her teams well fed and rested, the wagons prepared, wheels greased and all other preparations ahead of time, it seemed that things would go well. But such was not to be the case. Just above Starkville, the going got rougher. Some days later she paid tribute to Uncle Dick Wooten and passed onto his toll road. The sharp upturn in grade and the many large rocks and trees necessitated slow going. She told of several instances of having to dismantle the wagons, removing wheels and cargo, to get around obstacles. Time passed as the scenic trip unwound. The children were exuberant, but Lenora had her moments of doubt. In about ten days they were in Raton, paused briefly to rest, then set out on the dusty, alkaline wagon trail toward Las Vegas and upward into Pecos and finally into Glorieta. What a celebration the reunited family had!

From 1876 until 1899 they lived there. During which time Melvin, the older son, enlisted in the Spanish American war forces and was killed by a sniper’s bullet. Two more children were born. First, Harry Franklin Hanson, born Jan. 1, 1880 followed by Carrie Edith born Jan 24, 1882. She was later to marry Willard Merrill of Hoehne, becoming the mother of one son and five daughters whose descendants are in the area today. After twenty three years in Glorieta, Lenora had to face sad events. That year she learned that her son Melvin had died in action, and near the close of the year her husband Morgan Hanson died of a heart condition; “dropsy” it was called then. Thereafter she removed to Arkansas to live near a brother who had migrated there to Benson county.

But the memories of her happy sojourn in Trinidad lingered, and she and her son Harry and daughter Carrie removed once more, after selling her Arkansas homestead, to Trinidad. Harry Franklin Hanson married in Trinidad to Julia Waren, daughter of William Thomas Waren and his wife Josie Stanfill Waren, in 1916. To them were born five sons; Raymond Hanson, Albert, Ralph, Floyd and Leroi (Jack).

Lenora and two of her children are buried in the Masonic cemetery, as are several grandchildren including Albert Hanson. Ray Hanson is a retired high school Principal in Bloomington, Mn.; Ralph lives in Loveland, and Floyd and Leroi are residents of Chanute, Kansas. What does a paperboy recall about after 59 years absence? The memories of a Chronicle carrier named Raymon Hanson in the year 1929. Fourteen carriers gathered each evening across from the Chronicle office to play while waiting for Domenic Ozzello, Chester Chambers and Wally Asdel to get the old high wheeled flat bed press going and to print the paper.

The game was to roll or toss a small ball toward a lineup of caps, each owned by a single carrier and turned upside down. When the ball nested itself in a cap, the owner was entitled to retrieve the ball and to hurl it at any other participant with all his might. On occasion the objective of this missile bore a round bruise for several days duration.

Many a time the game was witnessed by a “big time” circulation manager with the nickname “Casey.” Casey was the envy of most Trinidad teen agers. He was a classy upscale yuppie of the day who drove the fanciest car in town, a shiny, beautiful Ford convertible. The editor was an old gentleman who lived in the house alongside the postoffice; he was to later be succeeded by the then sports editor of the day, John O’Connor. And about five p.m. daily the upstairs Spanish language editor finished his work and came down the stairs to head home. This man provided the first experience of this writer with a real Spanish gentleman; whether at work or at his home, he was always dressed to the hilt in a white long sleeved shirt with a dark necktie.

My route was along Linden avenue which was reached by passing the Trinidad Creamery and down the tracks. The creamery loading dock was dominated by a large well built young man named Dominic who awed the kids with his muscular body and good looks. And while speaking of good looks, even a twelve year old couldn’t resist a look at Mary Michellza, the prettiest young woman who ever supervised I.L. Jacobson’s butter wrapping department; her beauty surpassed by far that of any popular movie actress of the day. And then who can forget the largesse of the proprietor with his offerings of soft ice cream for school kid visitors and for his offering of several varieties of aluminum kitchen cooking vessels for the repeated purchaser of “Trinidad Gold” butter. In many a Trinidad kitchen these were the first of many cooking appliances selected by the householder.

From the creamery across the steel truss railroad bridge which was used by the C & S railroad and which sat on large concrete piers. Against one of these piers the currents washed, providing the only deep swimming hole in the town. This was, for years, the city’s only free and unofficial swimming pool with exception of that located at Starkville.

Then down “River street” where there was a lesson in race relations. Near the bridge on Linden lived a black couple. Quiet , avid gardeners, they were always pleasant persons. There weren’t many blacks in town those days. In a Dallas vs. Trinidad high football game, held in Dallas, the star fullback of the Miners team was forbidden to play because of color. And the venerable Santa Fe grade school, Miss Caldwell, personally assured the writer and his companions that “there were people who were black outside, but worse still, there were those who were black inside”. A lesson well learned and well remembered.

Down Linden to Charlie Davis’ “Square Deal Grocery” with its steady supply of penny candy sometimes sold two for a penny to select customers, that is if you were a special person. From Charlie’s paper to the C& S dispatcher, cross the tracks,the irrigation ditch, the concrete fabricating factory and to the Santa Fe switching yards to wave to Engineer “Tippy”. Next was Gurule’s grocery where there were sold for 5¢ the Three Musketeers candy bar, which was three times the current size, one bar chocolate, one strawberry and one vanilla. And this was topped off with one of Mr. Gurule’s tales of the strange markings found on a large rock on his ranch. Were the marks directions to hidden treasure? Then to Devine’s grocery for a repeat performance. It was behind Devines that we smoked our first cigarette in the outhouse; not so great an experience! On past Dudgenons, Sissons, Wrights, Sandovals, Snyders and Makloski’s homes. At blocks end Barber Raimondi and Printer Risley’s. And to the Banker Stone’s place; I recall that I lost $13.00 in the failure of the local Savings and Loan in the crash of 1929. And with an experience in economics, the policeman at the end of the block still owes me 80¢; long dead, he was even sworn to uphold the law.

And then to “Old” Mrs. Callahans, member of a former southern slave holding family, who had an inexhaustible supply of pulp magazines, free on loan to the poor boy’s library. Finally to the Santa Fe tower, where Harold Kock was king, holding sway over a vast array of switches. Harold was also a folk hero. He owned and drove a racing car at the fair grounds. And now, home to mother Julia, dad Frank and four brothers.

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