W. “Bob” Lewis, an early New Mexico lawman and rancher was interviewed in 1949
by author Howard Bryan. Lewis had participated in the hunt for gold in the Lost
Adam’s diggings but refused to talk about it. Why? Because he was ashamed to admit
he had wasted part of his life hunting for lost treasure.
in his long, adventurous life included stories about when he became friends with
Apache Chief Geronimo. At the time, the chief was being pursued all over the territory
and Mexico for his depredations against white and Spanish settlers.
unknown or ignored in history, some white ranchers were friendly with the wild
bands of Indians. Though countless settlers were raided and killed in the territory,
friends of the Apache were spared. How could Native Americans tell the friendly
settlers? Geronimo told them to wear white hat bands on their hats, and they would
not be bothered.
Later, after Geronimo was captured and placed on a reservation
in Fort Sill, Okla., Bob, a lawman at the time, was sent to the area to bring
back a prisoner for trial in New Mexico. While waiting at the train depot, he
saw Geronimo standing in the shade of a post, approached him and spoke. At first
the old chief ignored him, but when Bob explained who he was and where he was
from and that some of his friends wore white hat bands, the chief shook hands
and asked many questions about his old homeland.
A horse thief once stole
Bob’s favorite mount. He loaded up for bear and took up full pursuit. When he
caught up with the man in camp, they had a big shootout in which both were wounded.
Bob felt himself weakening from loss of blood and, in desperation, shot through
the favorite mount to kill the thief and the horse. While shaking his head about
the sad occasion he stated, “Sure did hate to lose that horse.”
serving as town marshall of Magdelena, N.M., he arrested a cowboy for being drunk
and disorderly and was escorting him handcuffed to the local jail. Another cowboy
was following along behind, jeering and making crude remarks.
stopped and told the marshall, “Sir, if you will allow me to whup this man I promise
I will go to jail peacefully.” Bob, who didn’t like the remarks either, unlocked
the handcuffs and watched as the prisoner “whupped the hell” out of the heckler.
He then held out his skinned knuckles and hands for the handcuffs and smiled on
the way to the jail.
Though never proved, Bob also gave the only answer
to date, of who killed the well-known Col. Albert J. Fountain, a prominent Las
Cruces, N.M., attorney and his young son during the Lincoln County Wars. History
still considers it an unsolved mystery.
said the killer was Black Jack Ketchum. Why? The prominent and successful attorney
was prosecuting and convicting many of Ketchum’s outlaw friends. Later, Ketchum
was wounded, captured, tried and hung at Clayton, N.M., in 1901. But the Fountain
murders are still listed as by “unknown killers.”
Trew - September
25, 2012 column
"It's All Trew"
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at trewblue@centramedia .net.
For books see delberttrew .com.
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