Education in New Mexico and the Ratón Schoolhouse

Raton Schoolhouse, Las Golondrinas

This interpretation will concentrate upon the development of education in New Mexico from the 18th century through the late 19th century. Education was vital to New Mexico and there was a constant need for educators, Formal education at missions for Native populations.

  • Formal education for Spanish settlers
  • Informal education in Spanish homes

These systems of mission, formal and informal education carried on through the Mexican period and into the American Territorial period. The English language as a subject was being taught by the late 1800s, but Spanish continued to be the primary language of instruction in Hispanic schools into the early 1900s. Overall, formal education for women was limited and the primary focus was upon the training of men.

Mission Education

Priests conducted instruction for Pueblo natives as a means of conversion. The pedagogy was reading, music, tradecrafts, Latin and Christian doctrine. Mission schools existed throughout the colonial period virtually uninterrupted.

Formal Education for Spanish Settlers

Formal education in a traditional school setting was hard to come by before the 1800s. Pedagogy was reading, writing, arithmetic and morals. It appears that reading was taught before writing, meaning that the ability to sign ones name MIGHT imply full literacy in colonial New Mexico.

  • In the 18th century, various attempts were made at presidios (forts), such as Santa Fe, to establish schools, but none appeared to last more than a few years at a time.
  • Concern over the education of Spanish colonists was being discussed as early as 1717 and in 1721 a convention was held in Santa Fe to discuss the establishment of schools in villages.
  • The first evidence of formal education for Spanish Colonists in New Mexico is a reference about Fray Antonio de Acevedo teaching children in Santa Fe how to read, sometime between Reconquest and 1727.
  • Inquisition and suppression of certain reading materials may have contributed to illiteracy in New Mexico as it limited the amount of reading material available.
  • One of the earliest references to a school for Spanish children comes as late as 1776 and was located in Santa Cruz.
  • By 1786 there was a school for the children of soldiers in Santa Fe, with children of various other vecinos (citizens) attending.
  • In the 1790 census only three people are listed as teachers in New Mexico, one in Santa Fe, one at Isleta and one at Los Chávez.
  • During the first decade of the 19th century, presidio documents show that schools are occurring with more frequency and with a semblance of permanence.
  • Between 1808 and 1820 there are consistent reports of the number of children attending school in Santa Fe and what subjects they are enrolled in.
  • An 1812 report from Pedro Bautista Pino confirms that there are also public schools in Albuquerque, Taos, Belén, San Miguel and Santa Cruz.
  • 1813–1816 no reports on schools possibly because of a smallpox outbreak based on an account written in 1816.
  • Approximately one-third of the male population in New Mexico during the Spanish Colonial period was literate based on enlistment records. Santa Fe rates were higher than other areas.
  • Throughout the 19th century both parochial and secular schools sprang up wherever families or villages could afford to pay for teachers. A majority of the teachers were priests, even in public schools, and classes were taught in Spanish and were Roman Catholic in character.
  • In 1891 the Territorial Legislature passed a public education bill for the create of statewide public schools, and in 1898 the United States Congress passed the Ferguson Act firmly establishing a public school system in the New Mexico Territory.

Informal Education

Informal education occurred throughout the colonial period and depended on the education level of ones parents and family. Some documents of the time indicate that those with means were paying others to educate their children. These documents also show that people with books were loaning them to fellow colonists. We can only assume that some of this loaned material was being used to teach others to read. As can be expected, adults were responsible for providing religious instruction for their children and training in the customs and ways of participating in society.

It is important to point out that there were other forms of education and many ways in which education played out in New Mexico from the Spanish Colonial until American Territorial periods. There was vocational training, such as learning how to become a blacksmith, training requiring previous education in reading as well as basic arithmetic. There were also opportunities to pursue higher education outside of New Mexico in other parts of New Spain. Later, young men were sent to the Midwest and Eastern United States, especially to develop English skills, essential for trade and governance.


Raton Schoolhouse, Las Golondrinas

La Escuela de Ratón

The Ratón Schoolhouse

This log schoolhouse was built as a home in 1878 and was brought to Las Golondrinas from Ratón, New Mexico. This small two-room cabin was converted into a private schoolhouse in the early 1880s becoming one of the first in Ratón and operated for only a few years before the Marcy-McCuistion Institute was begun in 1885. Lessons were conducted in English, probably for the children of the newly immigrated railroad workers.

While this building is originally from Ratón, it is interpreted as a typical New Mexican schoolhouse that could have existed in any Hispanic village. In a typical New Mexican schoolhouse, all ages were taught together in Spanish. Later, English was added to the curriculum of New Mexico’s schools and eventually became the primary language of instruction. Most of the students were males as were the maestros (teachers). The second room was lived in by the schoolmaster or later by the schoolmarm.

Of special interest to our interpretation of the schoolhouse is an official school administration document from 1885 that details a school in La Ciénega, believed to be in what is now the visitor’s parking lot of El Rancho de las Golondrinas. This school was characteristic of a majority of schools in New Mexico at the time. In 1885 the teacher (maestro) was Estevan Macías. There were 27 male students and 10 female students (escuelantes). The language of instruction was Spanish and focused on: lectura, gramática, ortografía, escritura, aritmética, moral, doctrina y geografía (reading, grammar, spelling, writing, arithmetic, morals, religious doctrine and geography). It appears that English was not taught at this school in 1885.

Raton Schoolhouse classroom


This room portrays a very well appointed classroom in late 19th century New Mexico. The children in this school have desks imported from the East by rail. At the back of the room, are an 1857 United States map and an 1879 New Mexico Territory map. Images of U.S. Presidents and the Territorial Governor line the wall, probably in an attempt to familiarize students with the United States and their place in the Union, all in preparation for statehood. A shelf with pegs by the front door holds lunch pails and coats. A potbelly stove stands at one side of the room for the winter months and a bookshelf in the corner holds books and primers, mostly in Spanish.

The children would have been taught in groups based on age. When not receiving direct instruction from the teacher, the students would be practicing their lessons. There is not much evidence that corporal punishment was common in Hispanic schools. In fact, there are specific cases in which charges were brought against teachers for harshly punishing students. Based on the records from the school in La Ciénega, the school day was from 8am until 4pm with a 2-hour break in the afternoon. The long break may have allowed some children to go home for lunch and briefly help with chores. If the children were granted a recess they may have played games such as Pitarrilla (New Mexico checkers), Chueco (New Mexico Hockey), Pipis y Gallos (Fighting Cocks), Meca Ceca (Here and There) or Cazoleja (The Sauce Pan/Tops).

Teacher's Room

Teachers Room

This room serves as living quarters for the teacher. It is gender neutral to accommodate the interpretation of a male or female teacher. Personal belongings include the traveling trunk, the nicho with Our Lady of Guadalupe, family photographs and religious images hanging around the room. Furnishings are sparse and were probably donated by the student’s families. A New Mexican made Empire-style daybed is in one corner with a washstand nearby. The table near the wood-burning cook stove serves as both desk and dining table. The crate under the table is filled with food brought by the students as partial payment for their education.

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Sierra Village

Sierra Village, the Mora House

The Sierra (mountain) Village is comprised of buildings that are not original to the ranch and are arranged to show what life was like in the high sierras of Northern New Mexico. This particular group of homes and outbuildings depicts a family plot of land comprised of a young couple with children and their elderly parents.

By the 1800s New Mexicans began to populate the mountain areas as it became safer, after the Comanche treaty of 1786, to settle these lush and fertile regions. Many buildings used logs in their construction since wood was readily available in these areas. Roofs that were pitched in order to accommodate the heavy snowfalls of the mountain regions, sometimes replaced flat roofs common in the construction of adobe homes in the valleys. These peaked roofs also offered storage space in the attic. Many of the log structures at the ranch show the unique Hispanic method of corner timbers with double notch joints. This building type finds its antecedents in Mexico and made its way to the region in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Throughout the Sierra Village the dependence upon access to lumber in all forms is a major factor. The barn, corrals and small animal pens as well as two outstanding small log structures are a testament to the supply of wood in the mountains as well as the roof of the main house. Both the Casa de Abuelita and the Casita Primitiva were donated by the Sandovál and Barela families of Truchas and brought to the site in the 1970s. The log structures with stone foundations were both chinked and covered with mud plaster, as were the interiors. The relocation of the structures to the Sierra Village, along with the many other log buildings at Las Golondrinas was due to the foresight and perseverance of the museum’s founders. As a result, Las Golondrinas has the largest collection of Hispanic made log structures in the United States.

Inside all three of the dwelling structures, the emphasis is upon the life of an extended family in a mountain village after the advent of the railroad in the 1880s. The homes also show a progression of construction beginning with the Casita Primitiva, when the family first came to the high sierras, and ending with the Mora House as the family became more established. All of the living spaces show an eclectic mix of both purchased and handmade items as would have been typical of the times. With the coming of the railroad to New Mexico, large quantities of inexpensive goods became available, even in the little mountain towns dotting the Sangre de Cristo range. This influx of manufactured goods had a great influence on the long-standing culture of New Mexico and had a profound affect on the traditions of the region.

Sierra Village

Casa de Mora

Mora House

Mora is a town on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This long house is typical of homes built after the arrival of the Americans. Its open style signaled the end of the period of raiding and warfare with native tribes so that homes could then be established in previously marginal areas. This structure is based upon homes in the Mora region and may contain some original woodwork but overall it is a re-creation, not a relocated structure. Its primary features include a long front portal and a wooden pitched roof as part of a laterally constructed adobe home.

The portal provided a shaded workspace as well as an area for resting and relaxing after a hard day’s work. The tall board and batten pitched roof was typical of mountain homes since it would shed the winter snows and provide an attic space for storage. This upper area created by the pitch was primarily used for the storage of food, particularly for the drying of foods rather than as living area. Ladders on the inside or an outside stairway were used to access the gable area. The simply constructed frame rests directly on the adobe parapet and the roofing is of wood. Outside there are two exterior doors, one into the entry way and another into the kitchen. This accommodated the coming and going associated with kitchen related domestic work (cooking, fetching firewood and water, collecting food from the root cellar, taking washed clothes out to dry) without having to walk back and forth through the house. Inside the kitchen is a wood burning cook stove and other tools that would have been the new appliances of the day. Along side this new equipment are traditional components of a New Mexican kitchen including domestic foodstuffs of corn, beans and squash, and greater quantities of industrial milled flour and new affordable luxuries brought over the rail or trail.

Inside, there is no central hallway so each of the rooms is accessed by traveling through one room after the other. The roof, doors, doorways and window frames are a testament to the easy access that the mountain villagers had to milled lumber. Homes in this style can be found in many mountain communities such as San Jose, Ribera, Villanueva, Peñasco, Mora, Trampas, Truchas and Taos.

Mora House parlor area

The separate parlor area is also a reflection of the furniture available to the Hispanic householder as a result of new commerce. Many of the goods found in this home are both modern store purchases and traditional homemade pieces. Such things as curtains and table covers, manufactured tables, books, kerosene lamps, and manufactured chairs are found in a room heated with the ubiquitous corner fireplace typical of the previous generations. Spindle beds, domed trunks, and a manufactured crib in the bedroom further carry this message of a mingling of the new with time-honored traditions of living. The young family living in the house has small children, a large garden to care for, many domesticated animals, and used the resources of the mountain area — especially wood — as part of their livelihood. Typical of Hispanic families of all periods, they were a part of an extended family unit living close together that included the care of and respect for their elders and as a result, the acquisition of knowledge passed down through the generations.

Casa de la Abuelita, Grandmothers House

Casa de la Abuelita

Grandmother’s House

This small log home with pitched roof was the home of Isabel Sandovál Quintana well into the 20th century and was moved here in the 1970s from Truchas, New Mexico. While her specific life history is not interpreted here, we honor her as being the last person to live in this home.

Next door to the young family was the small home of grandma (abuela) living immediately adjacent to her daughter’s home. The elderly were highly honored members of the community and family. As a guardian of traditional domestic skills, grandma was an invaluable resource and here we see her maintaining a traditional way of life in the face of modern imported goods and cultural changes. Abuelita has a wealth of knowledge about the folkways of the past including the medicinal plants and practices of the mountain areas. For the benefit of her family and friends, she prepares herbal remedies (remedios) serving as a curandera (healer). Abuela most often eats with the rest of the family in the Mora House, but here she could work at her sewing, embroidery, spinning and other crafts, passing this knowledge onto her granddaughter with whom she shares this modest home.

Her furniture is sparse and simple but by the late 1800s, she has a nice bed brought in by the railroad and a cast iron heating stove. The manufactured items you see here were all newly introduced when rail transport became the method of bringing an abundance of goods to New Mexico. Note the decorative mica-stenciled (estarcído) walls.

Casa Primitiva, A Simple Home

Casa Primitiva

A Simple Home

This log structure with flat roof is the Casita Primitiva. It was built in 1850 by Juan Augustin Sandoval and was moved here in the 1970s from Truchas, New Mexico.

At the Casita Primitiva the abuelo (grandfather), lives near to his son’s home. Here we see an elderly man who, like abuela, is also devoted to the traditional ways of life. As in the past, he prefers to sleep on a wool mattress on the floor rather than using a raised bedframe. He is devoted to making santos (saints), in this case bultos (wood statue of a religious figure), although sometimes he makes retablos (painting on wood of a religious figure) as well as working with straw inlay. He has a chair and table that he uses as his work area and a box filled with his tools. On the table are his grinding tools for the creation of pigments and examples of his colors, binders, and gesso. He uses religious prints as his models.

A typical small home of the region would have all the necessities and would be dry, warm, and surprisingly comfortable despite its simplicity. With packed earthen floors, mud plaster and a ceiling of vigas and latillas, this home was almost identical to homes of the valley, except it has logs rather than adobe for the walls. As practiced for centuries, the mountain folks used woolen mattresses as furniture for both sleeping and sitting. Cooking took place in the corner fireplace but abuelo most often ate with the rest of the family in the Mora House. Note the decorative stenciled (estarcído) walls.

Corrales, Trochiles y Gallineras

Corrals, Pigpens and Chicken Coops

These structures were brought here from Trampas, New Mexico. Up in the mountain villages pigs, chicken, sheep, goats and cattle were raised in the protected coops, stys, barns and sheds that were constructed from the abundant lumber of the mountain forests. These structures protected the livestock from the harsh weather of the mountain regions.

Dispensa y Soterrano, Storage Building and Root Cellar

Dispensa y Soterrano

Storage Building and Root Cellar

This large peaked roof building is the dispensa, used to store tools, sheep hides, and drying herbs. The log soterrano built into the hillside is the root cellar packed with jars of preserved vegetables and fruits. Some foods, such as squash, carrots, potatoes, apples, and other fruits and vegetables were covered with layers of sand and straw to preserve them. Both buildings were brought here from other locations in the sierras.

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La Tiendita, General Store

La Tiendita, General Store

This little store would have served the needs of both ranch and local residents. After the opening of the Old Santa Fe Trail, residents were able to purchase some of the goods that had been previously absent or difficult to obtain—particularly tools and building materials. With the coming of the railroad to New Mexico in the 1880s, a flood of goods came to the shelves of stores. Items such as kerosene lamps, fresh citrus, printed cottons, clothing patterns, notions, canned goods, dyes and seed packets would fill the shelves of the country store.

Of equal importance was the role that these small stores played in the gathering of raw materials and basic products of the land. In the case of outlying stores like La Tiendita, the goods gathered were wool and wool products. These local products were transported, along with livestock, back to towns like Las Vegas, New Mexico, home of the mercantile empires of the Ilfeld Company, Brown & Manzanares and Otero, Sellers & Company. These companies not only stocked the shelves of little stores but also gathered the products of the ranch that would then be shipped via the railroad back East. As a result the culture rapidly began to change in New Mexico. In the same way we see American goods influence foreign cultures today, for better or worse, the quantities of manufactured goods from the east had a great influence on the New Mexican Territory. This influence is most noticeable in the contrast between the Golondrinas Placita that highlights the colonial era, the Baca House which emphasizes the transition between the colonial era and the opening of the Santa Fe Trail and the coming of the Americans and the Mora House when the influences of the coming of the railroad to the territory and later the state are fully realized.

Even the smallest stores of this period would be packed with both local and imported goods; the demand was great and the railroad made the importation of goods possible. Below are the varieties of goods and their uses:


Medicine and tonics were widely available as represented by the small clear glass jars with original paper labels. These include:

Epsom Salt: Relief of minor sprains & bruises in a bath

Syrup of Ipecac: Causes vomiting

Tincture of Iron: Helps cure anemia

Tincture of Benzoin: Treats damaged skin

Rose Water: Used for skin care and in sweets

Oil of Wintergreen: Reduces headaches, fever & sore throat

Syrup of Squills: Stimulating expectorant

Chloroform Lineament: Helps sore limbs

Compound of Licorice Powder: Treats coughs & ulcers

Sweet Oil: Helps earaches & earwax removal

Food and Food Service

Plates, bowls, cups, coffee pots and spiders (frying pans) were in large supply. Tin products because of their light weight and durability for shipping were available in quantity but there were significant imports of cast iron and later stoneware. Knives, forks and spoons made of wood, tin, steel and cast iron would be available for purchase. At larger stores silverware would also be available.

Non-perishable food made its way out west in the form of tinned and canned fruits and vegetables, salted and jerked meat stored in barrels, coffee, flour, dried beans, and tinned lard. Sugar had always been sought after and here you see it in paper wrapped cones. These could have been imported from the east or from Mexico. American sugar cones would gradually be replaced by granulated sugar in the late 19th century while cones are still produced in Mexico and South America. Wheat would continue to be grown and ground locally but the rail would bring a healthy dose of competition with ground flour and corn meal in the white cloth sacks you see here. While locally grown produce could be found at small stores most people depended on their own gardens and anything found here would typically be surplus including eggs and meat. Wine and brandy had always been a staple in New Mexico and was traded up and down the Camino Real, but the railroad brought an influx of both whiskey and brandy. Wine and spirits would be stored in the glass bottles, jugs, and barrels seen here in the store. Santa Fe Trail merchant inventories show the importation of these spirits from the east as early as the 1830s.

Personal Effects and Household Goods

Items related to personal appearance, luxury goods, trinkets, notions and household tasks are found in La Tiendita. In the small glass case is manufactured lye soap, tin and silver boxes to hold personal goods, mirrors and toys such as marbles and jacks. Pipes are available along with pipe tobacco in the case and twist tobacco hanging from the vigas. Both could be used in pipes or rolled in paper and it was common for men and women to smoke. On the shelves, the glass oil lamps would have been greatly in demand since they provided ample light with a modest amount of fuel consumption. It was common for stores to be stocked with numerous extra glass shades since they were easily broken. Even with this more modern product, candles continued to be sold. Lamps needed fuel and the small tin cans with spouts hold oil.

Cleaning products were always needed and the store stocked brooms, washing boards and as previously mentioned lye soap. This particular soap was very harsh and was probably used primarily for laundry as Northern New Mexicans had a long-standing tradition of using yucca root. Almost an entire shelf is devoted to radiant heat irons for pressing clothes. The result of line drying garments demanded the use of an iron. Households had multiple cast-iron clothing irons allowing one to always be heating while others were in use.


Early settlers relied upon woolen, cotton and leather clothing primarily of their own manufacture with the addition of fancy fabrics and articles of clothing brought north on the Camino Real. With greater access to printed fabrics, yard goods, needles, thread and the other tools necessary to make clothing, householders were able to expand their ability to clothe their families. The small display case holds precious needles. Thread was a favored product, especially linen and sinew due to their strength. Durable canvas and yards of calico and other prints were a welcome addition. Ladies were able to join the world of current fashion by following the trends in patterns available and could add buttons, ribbons, beads and other decorations to their creations. Sewing machines were a prized purchase of women in both the east and the west. Such a labor saving device represented an important purchase for any family.


New Mexicans had always been resourceful in creating and repairing their own tools. Even the raw materials for their creation were hard to come by. However, with the introduction of the railroad, readily available manufactured tools and equipment needed for farming, construction, animal husbandry, hunting and trapping were more available. Tools such as axes, shovels and hammers line the wall. Nails were shipped in barrels and sold by the pound.

Horse tack and riding equipment would be a necessity and in this store bridles and spurs are for sale. The rope hanging from the ceiling served a variety of tasks; was sold in lengths and would be made from horsehair or hemp. Hunting, trapping and fishing were a part of everyday life and required specific tools for success. Here you see small game traps hanging on the wall and fishhooks in the small case.

Farming of corn, beans, squash and wheat had always taken place with seed cultivation being done by individual families. But seed packets were a new product offering a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for smaller gardens.

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The Baca Placita

Casa de Manuel Baca y Delgado

The House of Manuel Baca y Delgado

Casa De Manuel Baca y Delgado, Baca Placita

This home is believed to have been built in the early 1800s by the Baca family. Manuel Baca y Delgado, born around 1824, was from a well-to-do family and is believed to have lived in this house. He was involved in the sheep and mercantile business and was an influential figure in Santa Fe. He served as a captain in the 2nd Regiment of the New Mexico Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, fighting at the battle of Valverde in 1862. Later in life he was referred to as Don Manuel, a testament to his standing in the community.

Today it is interpreted as a typical home in 19th century northern New Mexico during the Mexican and American Territorial periods, before the introduction of the railroad. It is characterized by its simple two-room construction with few doors or windows. This home situated in the Baca Placita illustrates the changes that occurred between what the visitor experiences in the 18th century Golondrinas Placita and this 19th century workspace and dwelling. Foremost among these changes was the opening up of the homes and work areas. The gradual lessening of hostilities with nomadic, raiding Indian groups allowed the country dweller to abandon the protective style of the earlier placita arrangement. This home in the Baca Placita shows the transition between life on the Spanish frontier and the gradual changes that occurred once the Santa Fe Trail had opened allowing new goods, ideas and styles to enter the region.

This style of living is directly transplanted from medieval Spain and persisted in other parts of the Spanish colonies. Its important to remember that the plane of existence in colonial and territorial New Mexico was much lower than it is today in that everyday life in even well-to-do homes occurred much lower to the ground. The Spanish were heavily influenced by medieval and Mozarabic customs. These customs prevailed well into the 19th century as a matter of preference and in some instances as a result of cultural isolation. Because of custom and familiarity New Mexicans typically sat, ate and slept on cushions and low stools throughout the 18thand 19th century. This Spanish custom waned in the late 19th and early 20th century because of increasing American influence and affordable mass-produced furniture. Some of these low seating areas or (estrados) were exceptionally lush with soft mattresses, pillows and textiles


Upon entering the home, important tools and supplies would be hung or stored in this convenient protected area. A large grain bin (harinero) greets the visitor. The harinero could be easily accessed by the householders as could firewood needed to fuel the activities of the kitchen. Pegs, nails and shelves would be festooned with tools, horsehair rope, bags, harnesses, animal skins — the many essential tools and supplies needed in this agricultural area.

Baca Bedroom

Like the kitchen area, this sleeping and living space served many purposes. In the winter, as the light of day receded, a householder might spend a few hours working in the light of the fire on their colcha embroidery or spend a few more minutes catching up on their spinning — an easily portable task using the spindle (malacate). Also like the kitchen area, the dwellers worked and lived on a lower plane than we do today. Sleeping was on ground level or in low beds, while small, low worktables would serve multiple purposes. This room with its squared ceiling beams (vigas) and window with glass panes shows the dramatic changes that occurred when new building materials were introduced following the opening of the Santa Fe Trail by 1821. Note that swallows have built mud nests on some of the vigas.


This bedroom would have housed part of the family with others sleeping in the kitchen. The most prominent feature of the room is the Empire-style daybed, indicating influences of French Empire furniture (via Mexico City) had reached the area during the Mexican Period (1821–1846). Even so, beds, camas, were a rarity in the region until well into the 19th century since most of the sleeping was done on loosely made mattresses (colchones) that were then rolled up and placed around the room during the day and used as seating. Here we see a room in transition with both a bed and with the more common bedding. The bedding was made of animal skins and roughly woven, utilitarian textiles of the region described variously in documents as: jerga, sayal, sabanilla.


The most common furniture in both the colonial period and later was the chest (caja) Used to hold precious linens and clothing, the chest was frequently elevated off the level of the floor on legs or on a stand. The two chests in this room illustrate two different furniture styles. The painted, domed chest is in the style sometimes described in documents as a: caja de michoacán. The area of Michoacán in Mexico was famed for making beautiful and highly prized pieces of painted furniture. The larger chest dates from the mid-19th century and shows some of the influences of the Eastern American carpenter. In addition to furniture, many of the household goods were stored by being hung on the walls and ceilings of the room.

Heat and Light

The corner fireplace heated this space and candles placed in sconces or candleholders would have provided modest light, as would the fire. Tinwork not only provided a place to hold candles but also offered a shiny, decorative, reflective surface. Documents describe entire walls in rooms of this era as being filled with mirrors and sconces.

Baca Kitchen

Typical of most homes of this period, no one room served a single function and the kitchen was no exception. Cooking and food preparation were the primary activities but this room would have also been a place for congregating, eating, storage, spinning, sewing, repair of tools and harnesses, and even sleeping. This multipurpose function would have made the most of the space available. This room was constructed earlier and is different from the bedroom. The windows are fitted with wood shutters (contraventana) and bars (rejas) as opposed to double hung glass window sashes. The beams (vigas) are un-hewn and round and the latillas are a rough shake signifying a lack of milled lumber. The walls are constructed of adobe and terrones (peat from the surrounding marshland), then finished with a gypsum plaster. The built-in bench (banco) provided additional seating considering furniture could be scarce and wood was at a premium. Floors throughout the house are dirt and would have been coated with the blood from slaughtered animals taking on a hard, smooth and leather-like finish.


The hooded hearth or shepherds-style hearth is typical of Northern New Mexico homes and a direct descendent of Spanish hooded fireplaces. The hood shelf would have been used to dry vegetables and meat. While not fully smoked or utilizing the antiseptic qualities of smoke, the food hung here would have had a slightly smoky flavor. The built-in charcoal brazier would have been used throughout the seasons even though cooking was usually done outside during the summer. The square metal griddle (comal) would have been used for cooking over the brazier and the extensively used copper pots were a typical sight. Metal was a rare commodity and severely wrinkled and patched cookware was common. Other pots and bowls in use would be close at hand. The bell shaped fireplace (fogón de campana) is a unique feature not commonly found in New Mexico. While various theories exist, the shape most likely served a couple of functions including increased heat reflection, smoke ventilation for the charcoal brazier, and open hearth cooking by allowing meat to be suspended and roasted. The metal trivet provides a stable surface for pots cooking beans.

Food Preparation

The table in the center of the room would have been used as both a workspace and occasional eating surface. Female family members would prepare the food and cook meals. The metate would have been in constant use for grinding corn and wheat if a mill were not nearby. The mortar and pestle would have been used to grind herbs. Baskets, bowls and jars would have been nearby filled with herbs, spices, tallow, vinegar and olive oil if available. The types of foods being prepared would have been similar to what the Pueblo Indians had found to be successful and commonly referred to as the “Three Sisters” consisting of maize, beans and squash. As a matter of custom the Spanish considered ground wheat to be superior to ground maize and it was planted in New Mexico with the first settlement of Don Juan de Oñate in 1598. This perfect combination of protein and starch would have been supplemented with other foods including meat and chiles. Hispanic colonists at this time would have primarily eaten lamb along with buffalo and wild game when available. Preparation would have included meat that was freshly roasted, smoked, salted or dried (carne seca).

Storage and Food Service

A common sight in many households were grain bins (harinero). The bin in this room could have been used for the storage of ground or unground corn and wheat or the storage of fruits and vegetables layered with sand and straw for preservation. The built-in wall cupboard (alacena) served as a pantry keeping various perishables cool. Dishes and other vessels would have included brightly painted majolica from Mexico, Pueblo-made pottery, Chinese ceramics, dried gourds and even glass from both Spain and Mexico. Pieces made from silver and pewter could be found as well, but were much less common. The typical household would have a mix of plates and vessels of various materials as objects were broken or new ones became available. Utensils would be made of iron, silver, wood or dried gourds. The built-in shelves are characteristic and much simpler to produce than a cupboard (trastero).

Meals would typically be taken informally while seated on bancos or while sitting on a loosely stuffed mattress of roughly woven wool. Contemporary travel accounts well into the second half of the 19th century attest to this preference among all classes of New Mexicans. The practice of eating family style while seated at a table and discussing your day, so much a part of our modern lives, was not a part of life before the late 19th century in various parts of the world. As was typical of the time, meals were a task, not an event and often taken on the go. There was typically an element of segregation so men, women and children often ate separately or in stages. Meals were simply a means of stocking up on calories to get you through the day and were typically treated with little fanfare.

Living and Work

In addition to cooking, the women of the family or slaves would also be responsible for looking after babies and small children. The hanging crib keeps the child close to the warmth of the fire and their guardian. The bench on the right when entering the room may host a variety of activities throughout the day. Other women of the home may be carding or spinning wool with a spindle (malacate) while seated here. In the evening men may take a seat to repair a harness, or women may finish a few more stitches of their colcha before the sun goes down. The mattresses doubled over and used for seating during the day would be spread out for sleeping at night. The extra space in this room would not be wasted and any good spot for getting some sleep would be used, especially in the winter when another fireplace was available.

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Sorghum Presses and Mills

Presentation Goals

  1. Emphasize the theme of self-reliance among the region’s settlers during the colonial and territorial periods;
  2. Discuss the role of sorghum in the food supply of the ranch;
  3. Discuss (or illustrate and demonstrate) the extraction of juice from sorghum cane;
  4. Discuss the later steps in the preparation of sorghum molasses (aka miel);
  5. Describe the technological changes and their benefits in moving from the equipment of the old presses to the new mill.


Sugar cane made its way west from Europe and Africa, first to the Madeira and Canary Islands groups in the 15th century, then to the Americas. Columbus brought sugar cane to Hispaniola in December 1493, his second voyage. It was introduced into Mexico by Cortes in 1524.

Sorghum culture began in Africa more than 5,000 years ago. It spread geographically in much the same way as did sugar cane. However, it is unclear whether it made its way into the Spanish New World at the same time as sugar cane. Sorghum was not a commercially viable crop in the United States until just prior to the Civil War. It is probable, though not proved, that it made its way into what is now New Mexico from Texas, where it was extensively cultivated. Therefore, we cannot assert that New Mexicans grew and processed sorghum until the mid-19th century.

Prior to that time, New Mexicans had to rely for sweeteners on fruit (perhaps mashed or pressed), honey if available, and imports of processed sugar and honey from lower Mexico and – after the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 – from the United States. Attempts to grow standard sugar cane in Nuevo México were stymied by altitude and climate. Sorghum cane, however, adapted well.

At the Museum, we have examples of two styles of sorghum processing devices: (1) the so-called “mortar-and-pestle” presses, and (2) the roller mill. Of the mortar-and-pestle style (of ancient heritage) we display two variations—a simple hollowed log with pounding stick; and a more elaborate fulcrum-and-lever model, capable of exerting greater pressure on the cane. In both these types, the cane was cut into workable lengths to fit into the receiving bowl.

The roller mill was turned by a horse or burro, hitched to the wooden bar, and driven usually by a boy. Roller mills were relatively expensive, such that a single mill, owned by a fairly well-to-do ranchero or townsman, served an entire community or group of ranches. Those growing sorghum in the surrounding ranches or farms brought their crops in at harvest time, receiving a portion of the resultant miel or molasses. (One contemporary account submits that the mill owner/operator kept one-quarter of the miel.) This was an occasion for feasting, dancing and catching up on local gossip.

Our roller mill was distributed, but not manufactured, by Sears, Roebuck and Company. It carries the Sears name and the date 1895 stamped onto the top of the mill. The origin of our mill is unknown; it was not in place here prior to Las Golondrinas becoming a museum.


Guided tours of the Museum are usually not of sufficient length to permit demonstration of the presses and mills, although the Tour Guide should use his/her judgment. The suggestions below are intended for use mainly during Spanish Colonial Days (SCD), when large school groups find the Sorghum Mill area irresistible.


Las Melaseras Viejas

(Old Sorghum Presses/Mortar & Pestle Presses)


There should be pieces of sorghum cane lying about during harvest season; these may be placed into the receiving bowls (canovas).

Safety Concerns

  • Do not let guests hang on the fulcrum-and-lever arm (you may explain that this was done to add weight)
  • If you have a guest pound with the mazo grande, make sure they do so facing away from all other guests


  • Describe the simpler press first, then the fulcrum-and-lever press.
  • Emphasize that both designs were developed by civilizations and cultures thousands of years ago.
  • The presses could be easily constructed and were inexpensive.
  • If time allows, have one member of the tour group operate the pounding stick (mazo grande), and/or move the lever on the fulcrum-and-lever press up and down.
  • Point out the small hole placed at the bottom of the canovas to permit the extracted juice to flow out.
  • Mention that these devices were not as efficient as the later roller mills. Not as much juice could be extracted from the cane.



Las Melaseras Nueva

(New Sorghum Mill/Roller Mill)



  • Arrive at the station ahead of time. Be sure that there is enough cut sorghum cane to get you through the demonstration period (usually 4 hours for SCD). If not, contact the Curator of Historical Interpretation and request additional cane.
  • At the beginning of the day, it will take a couple of passes pressing the cane before the extracted juice begins making its way out of the mill and into the jar; the docents should do this prior to the arrival of the first visitors.
  • Recommended items to bring to the station:
    • Garden shears, to remove the sorghum cane heads (do this before visitors arrive)
    • work gloves, for use when employing the shears and stripping leaves from the cane
    • a quart (or larger) glass jar or tin can, for collecting the cane juice
    • a rope of sufficient length to demarcate the area swept by the rotating mill arm pegs to secure the corners of the rope – or large rocks for the same purpose

Safety Concerns

  • Guests not assisting in operating the mill, along with their gear, must stay outside the work area (e., outside the roped-off square)
  • No one except a Docent is to place anything in or near the mill mechanism
  • Because the extracted cane juice attracts wasps and bees, guests are not to touch the collection vessel (glass jar or other)


It is highly recommended that the demonstration be conducted by two docents:

  • Docent 1 to supervise the visitors (youngsters) in operating the mill, and
  • Docent 2 to maintain order (have the visitors line up in the order of their arrival, keep them and their belongings behind the rope and out of the mill operating area) and give a brief explanation of what sorghum is and what the mill accomplishes . Docent 2 also is responsible for feeding cane stalks into the mill.
  • Docent 1 invites the visitors to operate the mill. Usually four children may be placed along the wooden bar, tallest toward the end of the bar. You may be able to squeeze five in if the youngsters are small enough. No child should be permitted to participate who cannot comfortably place both hands on the bar and push (exception: you may invite parents or teachers to hold a too-small child up to the bar and walk around with the others – this keeps everybody happy).
  • Docent 1 makes sure the visitors have both hands on the wooden bar, ready to lift and push. Docent 2 feeds cane stalks into the mill. With Docent 1 at the end of the bar, the participants make one pass around the mill, counter-clockwise. Either docent then points out the collecting vessel, into which sorghum juice will be flowing. When the jar or can is almost full, pour it into the weeds away from the mill. The juice attracts insects, including wasps and bees, so should be disposed of away from the operating area.
  • The pressed cane stalks will pile up at the base of the mill. From time to time, remove them to the side of the cooking shed for later removal.
  • The tops, or heads, of the sorghum stalks are popular “show-and-tell” items. There are usually not enough of these to give one to each youngster. Instead, give one to the attending teacher or parent and suggest that it be taken to class for discussion.
  • If time permits, ask the youngsters questions about their experience (see next section).


  • At the end of the day, empty the juice jar.
  • Take any pressed cane stalks to the side of the cooking shed.
  • If it is the final day of Spanish Colonial Days, or any day of an event other than SCD, remove and store the rope.

Questions and Answers

Whether giving a guided tour, or demonstrating the presses/mill during Spanish Colonial days, asking questions of your audience will help reinforce their experience at this station. Whenever possible, cast the questions in such a manner that the visitors are prompted to relate what you have shown or described to them to their own lives. Remember to frame your questions with the audience’s ages in mind.

Q: Name some kinds of sweeteners you use at home. Were these all available to the settlers in this part of New Mexico?

A: White sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, fruit juice, artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are fairly recent introductions to the American food supply. White and brown sugars might have been purchased from merchants bringing these up El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or along the Santa Fe Trail after 1821, but would have been costly. Honey might rarely be found locally. Fruit juice was a ready source, but did not serve all the requirements for an intense sweetener. Molasses could be produced at home.

Q: Why didn’t the early settlers just buy their sugar at a local store?

A: Processed sugar was not generally available. There were no local markets in the early days, although much later general stores might be found serving a village or ranching community.

Q: Did the farmers and ranchers in Northern New Mexico grow sugar cane? If not, why not, and what did they grow instead?

A: They did not grow sugar cane, because that plant did not do well in Northern New Mexico. Instead, they grew sorghum cane, which is related to sugar cane but is hardier at these altitudes and in this climate.

Q: Do you think that miel, or molasses, was a precious item to the folks who lived around here? Why?

A: Yes, since it was an important part of the diet, and was obtained only after a lengthy and labor-intensive process.

Q: What do you bring home from the grocery store that has sweetener in or on it? Where does the sweetener come from?

A: Sugar, candy, syrup, honey, sweetened cereal, among many others. Sources are sugar cane, sugar beets, and corn [as in high-fructose corn syrup, found in many products].

Q: Did the early settlers here invent the Old Melaseras (sorghum presses)?

A: No. Representations of these or similar cane presses can be found among the artifacts of cultures which flourished thousands of years ago (Assyrian, Egyptian).

Q: Would it have been easy work, or hard work, to operate the sorghum presses? Why? Could you use a horse or burro to operate them?

A: Working these presses required strength and a good deal of time. Since both presses require an up-and-down motion of the “mortar” log, horses or burros cannot be used. There must have been plenty of aching muscles at the end of the pressing.

Q: Which is more efficient in producing cane juice, the presses or the roller mill?

A: The roller mill, because less juice is lost or wasted.

Q: Can you list the steps the farmers and ranchers followed to obtain sorghum molasses? What was the very first thing they had to do?

A: To make sorghum molasses, they had to:

  • plant the sorghum seed [from the cane head or tassel]
  • tend the sorghum cane through the summer, weeding and watering
  • harvest the cane, cutting the stalks at the base
  • extract the juice, in either the presses or the roller mill
  • strain the juice to remove impurities (such as BUGS!!)
  • boil the juice in large vats for several hours until it is thick
  • place the molasses in jars or crocks for storage


typical sorghum activities
We see the major sub-activities in the processing of sorghum into molasses, in a photograph taken in West Virginia in 1938.
Sears Champion vertical roller mill
Sears Champion vertical roller mill

El Rancho de las Golondrinas Placita Narrative—Part 1

The Golondrinas Placita, Paraje

The Golondrinas Placita is a partially reconstructed example of an 18th century Spanish colonial home, built as a defensive structure and positioned on the Camino Real as a Rancho and paraje (stopping place). Built in the 1960s, the entire structure is not original. The Chapel and Founders Room are believed to have been constructed between the 18th and 19th century as a private dwelling and later used as a barn until its transformation into a museum exhibit. Partial adobe foundations were present where the Kitchen and Captives Room are now. Their original form and function is unclear and it is not known with certainty who lived in what is now the Chapel and Founders Room.

Ranchos such as these would have been the residence of one family including any extended family plus servants and slaves. Because of its location on the Camino Real a Rancho and its grounds would also serve as a paraje, accommodating traveling military personnel, government emissaries, Franciscan clergy and traders. In 1780, Governor Juan Bautista de Anza led an expedition seeking to establish a new trade route between Santa Fe and Arispe, Mexico. On November 9th of that year the group marched 4 leagues (approximately 10 miles) south from Santa Fe on their first day and camped in La Ciénega at a place described as Las Golondrinas. While its unknown exactly where Anza camped, one can imagine a large expedition force, full of excitement and trepidation about the adventure ahead, setting up somewhere at Las Golondrinas.

The architecture is specifically designed for defense and is of Spanish origin. Construction is of adobes (sun-dried mud bricks) covered with mud plaster. Roofs are flat and covered with earth. The peaked roof of the Chapel is a later addition from the late 19th or early 20th century when tin roofing material was readily available with the advent of the railroad in New Mexico after 1880.

Entry is through one of the two zaguanes (covered entries) leading to the placita (little plaza) with a noria (well) and hornos (earth ovens) where the family and their servants and slaves would have spent a majority of their time working. A puertón/portón (large door) could be opened for wagons, animals and groups of people, while a puerta de zambullo (small door) was used by individuals. The hornos were in constant use. The horno came to Spain from the Moors in North Africa and to New Spain with no change in design. They were used to bake many foods such as pan (bread), dulces (sweet bread), panocha (sprouted wheat and sugar pudding), cajeta de membrillo which is dried quince and sugar. Hornos were also used to steam fresh corn for chicos ( dried corn) and roast green chile.

The rooms, which surround the placita, make up the defensive exterior walls. The rooms are accessible from one another through interior doors and from the placita through exterior doors. Interior windows looking into the placita are large, allowing air and light into the rooms. Exterior windows are small for defensive purposes and are inset with selenite or mica to allow light in. Selenite is a mineral gypsum whose crystals can occur as tabular sheets which have been used as glass panes as early as the ancient Roman empire. Mica is a sheet silicate mineral that can be used for the same purpose but is typically not as translucent. Exterior windows were also covered with animal skins and wood rejas (bars) while interior windows were barred and/or shuttered. Fireplaces are of adobe and typically constructed in corners.

The roofs are supported by vigas (wood beams), which would have been primarily round and are characteristic of adobe construction. Early examples of finely adzed square beams do exist and are displayed here as well. The ceiling is a mix of round latillas (poles) and rajas (rough strips of wood) laid across the vigas, signifying a lack of milled lumber. Doors are hand hewn with an adze giving them a stout and substantial appearance. It was also common for animal hides to be hung and used as interior doors. While on average, 18th century Europeans and their New World counterparts were slightly shorter than we are today, door height was not dictated by this fact. Rather, the doors are small for a number of other practical reasons. They require less material to make, help to maintain heat in a room when opened and high thresholds on exterior doors help keep rain water, snow, mud and leaves from entering the room. Smaller doors also offer some defense by forcing you to both stoop down and step over the threshold when entering a room or building.

This style of living is directly transplanted from medieval Spain and persisted in other parts of the Spanish colonies. It’s important to remember that the plane of existence in colonial and territorial New Mexico was much lower than it is today in that everyday life in even well-to-do homes occurred much lower to the ground. The Spanish colonials were heavily influenced by medieval and Mozarabic customs. These customs prevailed well into the 19th century as a matter of preference and in some instances as a result of cultural isolation. As a matter of custom and familiarity New Mexicans typically sat, ate and slept on cushions and low stools throughout the 18th and 19th century. This Spanish custom waned in the late 19th and early 20th century because of increasing American influence and affordable mass-produced furniture. Some of these low seating areas or estrados were exceptionally lush with soft mattresses, pillows and textiles. The material culture on display will be a mix of fine and utilitarian Spanish goods, native made material, and Spanish colonial material fabricated on the northern frontier.

Capilla y Sala de Fundadores, Chapel and Founders Room, Sala Grande, Formal Living Room

Capilla y Sala de Fundadores

Chapel and Founders Room

Sala Grande

Formal Living Room

This structure is believed to be the oldest building still standing on original foundations at Las Golondrinas. Originally having a traditional flat roof, the peaked roof of the Chapel is a later addition from the late 19th or early 20th century when tin roofing material was readily available with the advent of the railroad after 1880. The original level of vigas is still visible on the building’s exterior. The wood floor was added when the building was transformed into a museum exhibit. Prior to its transformation into a chapel it was being used as a barn. Based on the layout and objects on display the current interpretation is of a Northern New Mexican Hispanic chapel from the late 19th century. This room does not represent a family chapel or serve as an example of a religious space that would have existed at a Rancho from the 1700s. Rather, this chapel serves as a testament of faith and of the enduring role that religion has played in the lives of New Mexicans from the colonial period to today. In 1994, eleven artists working in traditional styles constructed the altar screen. In 1995, fourteen santeros (saint makers) and a tinsmith made the Stations of the Cross. The Founders Room is where the first meeting of the Colonial New Mexico Historical Foundation was held. This group, under the auspices of the Paloheimos, laid the foundation that brought about the existence of the museum. It now serves as a rotating exhibit space. See “The Bultos of the Golondrinas Chapel” in the interpreter handbook for more information on the altar screen and Stations of the Cross.

As a part of a Spanish colonial home this room would be quite different. It would have served as the Sala Grande (Formal Living Room). This large multipurpose room would have seen a variety of activities but primarily been reserved for the family of the Rancho. Family meals would have been taken here or the family room with service coming from the adjacent kitchen. Members of the family may even have slept in this room. Celebrations and fandangos (Spanish dance parties) would have been staged here and large community and political meetings would also have been held in this room. Distinguished guests would have used this room for lodging.

La Cocina, Kitchen

La Cocina

The Spanish Colonial Kitchen was a hub of activity since it provided the fuel to run the Rancho. Basic meals, mostly served on the run, were probably the norm for most of the people who populated the Rancho. The Rancho owner, his honored guests and his immediate family would be served their meals in the family’s quarters while servants, captives, slaves and workers would eat in the kitchen or grab a quick meal as they went about their business. The food served would be a mixture of Spanish and Pueblo dishes as colonization created a culinary fusion. Vessel forms also reflected this cultural mixture and in many cases traditional Spanish forms such as redware soperos (soup plates) were being commissioned by colonists and made by Pueblo Indians. This utilization of native skill is indicative of the early New Mexican local economy. The preparation and storage of food was a constant and required great effort mostly on the part of women, although men hunted, slaughtered and prepared the meat from game or large domesticated animals. The metates and manos (grinding stones) were used to prepare grains; this arduous work was left to young women both in the Pueblos and on the ranch. Eventually grain mills relieved part of this burden. Tortillas of corn and flour, a modest amount of meat, squash, beans and chile were the mainstays with fruits and other vegetables added in season or stored for use. Spices, salt, and special foods such as chocolate or sugar were carefully stored and protected.

Water at this Rancho was easily accessible but still had to be hauled about and stored for the family’s use and for food preparation. Cooking was done in an open fireplace that had a shelf above for storage of tools and food which could also be used as a bunk, known as a shepherds bed, in especially harsh weather. The hooded hearth or shepherds-style hearth was typical of Northern New Mexico homes and a direct descendent of Spanish hooded fireplaces. The fire was simply made on the floor in the corner with the hood and flu directing smoke out of the room. While split wood such as piñon, juniper and cottonwood were used in fireplaces it was more common to use charcoal. Colonists quickly understood the limitations of resources and wood that had been prepared as charcoal was much more efficient, less wasteful, resulted in kitchens that were less smoky and food that had less ash fall into it. It was so important that Franciscans had native boys assigned to its preparation.

“The cooking is done with charcoal winter and summer; this makes things much easier for the people…The food is better; the cooks are not troubled and filth does not fall into it [food]”
(Dominguez, “The Missions of New Mexico, 1776”, p.311).

In warm weather cooking would be done in the placita. The hornos adjacent to the kitchen were for baking and roasting. Servants and slaves would sleep in the kitchen or other rooms where they worked — like all of the rooms of the Rancho, the kitchen would serve multiple uses. Although the kitchen is full of tools and equipment, it had little furniture. Trasteros (cupboards) which were used to store trastes (dishes) were uncommon in the 18th century but big chests used to store just about everything and used as work surfaces could be found in a large kitchen such as this. The log harinero (grain chest) is an especially prized storage device. Low stools and benches were used for both sitting and for the preparation of food. The practice of eating family style while seated at a table and discussing your day, so much a part of our modern lives, was not a part of life before the late 19th century in various parts of the world. As was typical of the time, meals were a task, not an event and often taken on the go. There was typically an element of segregation so men, women and children often ate separately or in stages. Meals were simply a means of stocking up on calories to get you through the day and were typically treated with little fanfare. The serving pieces such as tin-glazed earthenware (talavera and majolica), silver plates and eating utensils, glassware and pewter were used to serve the Rancho family while servants might have a shared pot of food and a tortilla on a simple unglazed earthenware plate and cup. Everywhere, metal was highly prized so all vessels and other tools made of metal were especially valuable. Pueblo pottery was also widely used for storage and service.

  • The harinero (grain chest) is made from a hollowed cottonwood log and shows the ingenuity of Spanish colonists. This form is unique, very difficult to make and not typical of the types of grain chests used in 18th century New Mexico.
  • Manos and metates (grinding stones) are on the floor nearby for the daily process of tortilla making.
  • In the hearth are iron, copper and ceramic cooking vessels with trivets, iron skewers, spoons, and other cooking implements. Metal items were either brought in by colonists or made by local Spanish blacksmiths. The pottery is a mix of pueblo and Spanish forms.
  • Paddles and other implements for the hornos are by the doorway.
  • The space above the hearth was multipurpose and would be used to dry food or for general storage. In extreme cold weather it could be used as a sleeping platform/shepherds bed.
  • Near the hearth is a low hanging cradle so the women grinding corn or flour on the floor could easily check on the baby. The small built-in banco (bench) is used for sitting and storage.
  • The repisa (wood shelf) held the special serving pieces for the family such as majolica, pewter, silver and glass.
  • The nicho (niche or recess in wall) with shelves as you enter could hold a variety of culinary objects and household or personal effects including pots of dried food and some of the pots used for food preparation.
  • Hanging about the room are baskets, dried food, herbs and tools.

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El Rancho de las Golondrinas Placita Narrative—Part 2

El Cuarto de Recibo, Reception Room

El Cuarto de Recibo
Reception Room

Located directly adjacent to the large entry zaguán, the Reception Room would have been the realm of the man of the house. The Rancho was far more than a home and served as the center of a business enterprise that included farming, raising livestock, production of wool products including woven textiles, stakes in mining endeavors and the trading of local and imported goods on the Camino Real. There was a need for space to work and for transactions of a wide variety to take place, precious commodities to be sorted and stored, visitors to be received and housed and documents to be prepared and guarded.

Here the Rancho owner, Ranchero, could greet visitors arriving at the paraje from their journey. His honored guests would be offered housing in this room which adjoined the family living quarters — rolled hides and textiles could be spread out for guests or used by the Rancho owner when he wished to have privacy from the rest of his family. Here he might work late into the night going over his accounts or preparing other important documents. From here he might also give his workers their assignments or provide them with their pay in the form of commodities of the realm. Since he might be the only one in the Rancho who was able to read or write, he would have used this space to house precious books or to write upon his escritorio (desk), where he also kept important papers.

Heaped about the room would be special goods that were in transition — either coming from or going to Mexico proper. Since the Rancho produced surplus woolen goods, he was in a position to be involved in the merchant trade by exchanging his surplus for such things as the newly arrived luxury goods or tools — things that could later be sold or bartered to add to the income of the Rancho. In general, this entry room served as the main office, special storage and guest room for the Rancho. The room also buffered the rest of the family from the general comings and goings of non-family members and arriving strangers.

  • Animal hides were used as bedding and floor covering as well as door coverings. In addition, woolen mattress-like bags were commonly used as both bedding and seating.
  • Writing desks were based upon the Spanish vargueño which was a separate chest sitting upon a table. Smaller boxes with drawers and a hinged front writing surface were often referred to as escritorios and could be transported for use by the literate and well-to-do. Even though ink was constantly in short supply, notaries and scribes played an essential role in the documenting of legal affairs in the colony. Often lacking their services, local alcaldes (mayors) or other educated individuals such as our Ranchero would fulfill this role. Especially important documents were sent back to Mexico City to be entered into the Notarial Archives. Documents such as these, as well as ecclesiastical reports, have provided us with information about life on the far frontier of Northern New Spain. Inventories of goods being transported to and from the colony were kept as much for the government — so that goods could be taxed — as for the merchant.
  • As a reception room for the merchant/rancher this room would hold goods either coming or going. The six-board chest was used for transport as well as for storage — it would be raised off the floor. Woven leather chests were made in Mexico proper and in other colonies as well, they were used for both the transport of goods and for storage. A chair for special visitors and for the Rancho owner’s use would represent another example of status and wealth.
  • There are piles of woolen goods being set aside in this room in preparation for trade. Other important trade goods for this Rancho might be trained mules, horses and oxen needed for the journey. These might be traded for something rare to the colony such as iron tools or even chocolate, a book, or a bolt of silk.
  • The owner’s room might also include the luxury goods used to serve such as pewter, silver, or glass.
  • Lighting for his tasks would include precious tallow candles and possibly oil lamps.
  • There was little to no hard currency in circulation in New Mexico during this period. This was further complicated by monedas imaginarias (illusory moneys) invented by dishonest merchants to deceive colonists and natives. This consisted of 4 different kinds of pesos to confuse consumers. Silver pesos were valued at 8 reales, de proyecto (inflated pesos) were valued at 6 reales, old pesos were valued at 4 reales and la tierra (common pesos) valued at 2 reales.

However, colonists had a complex system of barter with a clear understanding of how much something was worth, in terms of silver pesos, and what combination of goods in return for something would be considered sufficient payment. Below are a few examples of values from 1776 in the Santa Fe area:

  • Fanega (100 pounds or 1.5 bushels) of wheat or maize: 4 pesos
  • Fanega of chick peas: 12 pesos
  • Fanega of any other legume: 8 pesos
  • Cow with calf: 25 pesos
  • Cow without calf: 20 pesos
  • Wild bull: 15 pesos
  • Tame bull trained under yoke: 20 pesos
  • Tame ox: 25 pesos
  • Yearling calf: 6 pesos
  • Other livestock (sheep, ewe, goat): 2 pesos
  • Fowl: 4 reales (half of a peso)
  • Mule female: 40 pesos
  • Mule male: 30 pesos
  • Donkey (male and female): 100 pesos or more depending on animal
  • Horse (male and female): 100 pesos or more depending on animal
  • 1 vara of linen: 2 pesos
  • 1 pound of chocolate: 2 pesos
  • 1 pound of sugar: 1 peso
  • 1 pair of shoes: 2 pesos
  • 1 deer skin: 2 pesos
  • 1 fat pig: 12 pesos
  • 20 eggs: 1 peso
  • 1 ristra of chile: 2 pesos in Rio Arriba, 1 peso in Rio Abajo
  • 4 fleeces of wool: 2 pesos in Rio Arriba, 1 peso in Rio Abajo

El Cuarto de Familia, Family Room

El Cuarto de Familia
Family Room

This room was among the most protected locations in the Rancho since it was entered only by passing through the entry cuarto (room) or by the torreón (tower) room. This was the inner sanctum ruled by the lady of the house where she stored her precious things and raised her children. As such, it is characterized by the use of a variety of textiles for warmth, comfort and decoration and would be the spot where women would gather to work and socialize.

Along the walls are adobe bancos (benches) used for both sleeping and seating, as are the large rolls of bedding that are spread out at night. During the day, these comfortable sofa-like rolls were the spot that women could use for seating and lounging as they worked. Some of these low seating areas or estrados were exceptionally lush with soft mattresses, pillows and textiles. Like the entry room, a small fireplace provided heat and could be used for some modest cooking although most of the serious food preparation took place in the kitchen. Servants would serve the family its meals in this room as they sat upon their rolls of bedding or upon low stools.

The chests so ubiquitous to the entire Rancho were not only for storage but could also be used for serving and as work surfaces. Little other furniture graced the room although a chair or two might be reserved for special guests. An altar area in the room was maintained for the family’s private worship. Above a modest table were stacked religious images that mimic the form of the more elaborate altars and altarpieces to be found in the churches in town. Some large Ranchos had their own small chapels that could serve the family and neighboring colonists. Small windows with a form of glazing made of selenite or mica allowed some light to enter while larger windows with shutters faced the interior courtyard.

  • Hanging blankets and examples of New Mexican weaving, which would be brought down at night for warmth and hung during the day for safekeeping.
  • Woolen mattress, made from jerga (utilitarian weaving) and stuffed with wool fleece are throughout the room and used for sleeping and sitting.
  • Altar area with retablos (painting on wood of a religious figure), bultos (wood statue of religious figure) and other personal religious paraphernalia being used as a private devotional area which has a fine colcha embroidered altar cloth covering the table (colcha means bed covering but in this case colcha refers to New Mexican embroidery, which utilizes a couching stitch called the colcha stitch). Retablos are stacked and placed in a manner that reflects the arrangements of larger altar screens. Saints depicted would have been from the pantheon of Franciscan saints as well as those that might be personal to the family. Colonial New Mexico did not have an official Patron Saint but a few of the many religious figures commonly prayed to by Spanish colonists were San Francisco de Asis (Saint Francis of Assisi), San Pablo (Saint Paul), San Isidro (Saint Isidore), Santo Niño de Atocha (Holy Child of Atocha) and various avocations of the Blessed Virgin including Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario (Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary).
  • Women’s fine clothing, such as rebozos (shawls), would be stored in chests.
  • In front of the fireplace women would gather to do their work — a malacate (spindle) and embroidery in process can be seen.
  • A small table is being used in the general hearth area and the family would have had a number of woolen mattresses being used as seating by the ladies of the house.
  • Clay candle holders with tallow candles provide light for the work being done.

Torreón y Zaguán al Torreón
Tower and Tower Entrance Room

Torreones were a common sight throughout Northern New Mexico during the Spanish Colonial period. Colonists were responsible for defending themselves, as the soldiers of the presidio (fort) could not be notified in time to protect their fellow citizens. These towers provided a place for the Spanish to retreat while under attack.

These multipurpose structures were also used for storing food, water, tack and weapons used in the defense of the Rancho. This particular torreón is built into the Rancho complex but many were also constructed as stand-alone towers in a strategically defensible position offering expansive views. On the upper level, a sentinel stood watch and was ready to warn others of approaching danger by any means available including blowing a horn, beating a drum, shouting or ringing a bell. Field workers would run to the protection of the walled placita while others would enter the Torreón to fight off the enemy. Raiding was typically done by both the Spanish and native tribes in order to obtain needed supplies, animals and captives but not as a matter of absolute extermination. Attacks were usually over as quickly as they started and may have resulted in injury, death or captivity.

One such attack is documented as taking place in La Ciénega in the writings of Franciscan priest, Fray Francisco Atanasio Dominguez. On Thursday June 20th 1776, a party of Comanche warriors attacked ranchos in La Ciénega killing nine men and boys and taking two young children captive. Antonio Sandovál, the owner of El Rancho de las Golondrinas, lost his 19 year old son Jose Sandovál and nephew Santiago Mascareñas, who were killed as they tended crops. Scenes such as this were typical on the northern frontier as uneasy relations resulted in tragedies on both sides.

  • Weapons stored in the torreón included escopetas (Spanish muskets), lances, swords and bows. Colonists would use whatever they had at their disposal to defend themselves. Gunpowder was constantly in short supply from Mexico and the Spanish often used bows, arrows and lances. Barrels contained what little gunpowder the Rancho possessed.
  • Horse tack was stored here as well. Saddles, bridles and blankets hang on the walls. Straps, rope, and cinches were often made from horsehair, which produced superior reins as well.
  • An aparejo is stored here. Aparejos are pack pad saddles that go over the backs of donkeys and mules to form the base of the packing system and protect the animal from injury. Large atajos (caravans) of pack mules and donkeys would travel the Camino Real carrying goods and in the 19th century would travel west to California and north as far as Wyoming. Arrieros (muleteers) were responsible for packing and taking care of the animals. This entire system of packing was passed on to the Spanish from the Moors of North Africa and was a guild-controlled profession in Spain.

La Despensa/Dispensa, Pantry

La Despensa/Dispensa

Infrequent wagon trains from Mexico, drought and raids made it imperative to take rigorous measures to store and stock provisions. Starvation was a very real possibility and times of famine would stalk the fledgling colony. Wild game was an indispensable source of protein. Large flocks of sheep were important for survival and f or revenue. Corn, beans and squash provided the most important foodstuffs and these were stored in great abundance by the colonist and guarded in the Despensa (pantry) from both pests and humans alike. Preservation of food was limited to salting, smoking and drying — canning was to come much later. Seed storage was another significant use for the Despensa. Colonists in New Mexico would look to their Pueblo neighbors when they had failed to adequately harvest sufficient quantities of food. These supplies were either acquired through the encomienda system (mandatory tribute and labor) or taken by outright force, which often resulted in starvation for the Pueblos.

  • Dried food such as chile and corn are stored here. They are both hanging as ristras and piled into sacks.
  • Containers of seeds are stored here and used for planting in the spring. Seed saving was an important aspect of Spanish Colonial agriculture. The finest specimens of vegetables would have been selected, dried and the seeds removed.
  • This room also serves as the storage space for agricultural implements of the field such as rakes, digging sticks, hoes, and sifters for grain.
  • Measuring containers for grains: fanega, almud and cuartilla. A fanega constituted the standard Spanish volumetric unit for dry measurement. A fanega of dry corn was equivalent to approximately 100 pounds of grain or 1.5 bushels. An almud is one-quarter of a fanega. The cuartilla is 1/12th of an almud and 1/48th of a fanega.
  • Barrels are in this room for food storage such as dried grains and salted meat. The baskets would have been used for gathering fruits and harvesting vegetables.
  • Dried fruits and vegetables could include apricots, peaches, apples raisins, peas, beans, onions and garlic, also melon and squash—such as watermelon, and pumpkin.
  • Fresh vegetables include tomatoes, cabbage, onion, lettuce, radishes.
  • Dried grains—corn and wheat are stored in the harineros (grain chests or bins).
  • Glass and pottery vessels are for the storage of oils, wine, brandy, vinegar, and tallow.
  • Luxury goods and foodstuffs such as olives, chocolate, sugar and tobacco would be stored here for safe keeping.
  • Dried and curing meats such as venison, sheep and buffalo would hang from the vigas.
  • Dried herbs hang from poles and materials for food preservation such as salt are kept dry here.

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El Rancho de las Golondrinas Placita Narrative—Part 3

Talleres de Hilar y Tejer
Weaving and Spinning Rooms

In 1540, the first sheep were brought to New Mexico with Francisco Vasquez Coronado’s expedition. They were driven along with the expedition and used tofeed the soldiers during their two-year exploration of the Southwest. With the Spanish colonization of New Mexico in 1598, sheep were utilized as more than just food. Herds of churro sheep were brought north from Mexico and raised on the plains of the northern frontier for their wool. Weavers knowledgeable in treadle looms and dyeing produced finished products that sustained the colony. By 1638, weaving appears to have developed beyond local consumption as New Mexico Governor Luis de Rosa was producing woolen goods in Santa Fe workshops for trade with the rest of New Spain for much needed goods.

Pueblo Indians already had a tradition of growing, spinning and weaving cotton. In the early 17th century, Pueblos learned how to use wool from the Spanish while still using their traditional upright looms. Wool quickly became integral to Pueblo weaving traditions that was later passed on to the Navajo. As flocks grew the sheep themselves, which flourished on the New Mexico plains, were driven south for barter and sale. Flocks continued to grow in the following centuries, as did the production of wool and woolen goods. Authorities in New Spain recognized the importance of the sheep trade and wool production to New Mexico’s economy. The market was greatly expanded with Mexican Independence in 1821 and the opening of the Santa Fe Trail that same year. By 1840, it was reported that 20,000 Rio Grande blankets were sold in Mexico.

Trade with California offered an even greater boost as wool, woven goods and sheep made their way from New Mexico to the West Coast. In 1853, Kit Carson drove 6,500 sheep from Taos to Sacramento. By the early 20th century, the sheep and wool industry had declined greatly because of cheap goods brought by the railroad, overgrazing and the loss of grazing lands. Despite this, woven goods figure prominently in New Mexico’s cultural and artistic heritage today.

These three rooms show how the Spanish colonists carded, spun and wove wool to make rugs for the floor, blankets for the bed and horses and clothing including serapes (blankets or shawls worn by men) and rebozos (shawls worn by women). Wool, woven goods and sheep were the most important commodity and export from New Mexico besides slaves. Wool could be left as its natural color or prepared with natural dyes. Dye stuffs were typically grown on the ranch but brilliant blues such as indigo and rich reds such as cochineal were imported from Mexico on the Camino Real.

  • The looms are all contemporary or reproductions and only the large four-harness beam loom is an accurate reproduction of a Rio Grande loom. These looms were multiple harness “walking” beam looms, meaning that the weaver stood while weaving and operating the treadles, essentially “walking” on the treadles.
  • Spinning was almost exclusively done by malacate (spindle). The weights or whorls for these spindles were often fashioned from broken pottery. A variety of spinning techniques were employed including the drop method which could be done while walking or standing, the thigh method which was done while sitting and also the method of using a bowl to support the spindle which was also done while seated. There was a certain practicality to using malacates in that they were easily transportable and could be used anywhere. It is interesting to note that carding and spinning was typically done by women and captives, while weaving was predominantly done by men.
  • There were ruecas (spinning wheels) but these were much less common due to their expense, size and the material and tools required to make them. The rueca seen in the Spinning Room is a contemporary descendents of the Spanish colonial rueca and is still used in Mexico today. Characteristic traits of this type of rueca are a horizontal bench and small wheel turned by a handle attached to its center. This was quite different from the Scottish walking wheels that have a steeply angled bench and a large wheel as tall as the operator.
  • Other tools of the weaver include weaving battens to separate the warp shed and facilitate adding yarn to the weft pattern. Shuttles which hold yard and are shaped to easily slide through the sheds of yarn when operating a treadle loom. Carding combs used to separate wool fibers in preparation for spinning. Skein winders used for preparing and measuring spun wool in preparation for weaving of sale.

Golondrinas Placita, El Cuarto de los Cautivos y los Criado, The Captives’ and Servants’ Room

El Cuarto de los Cautivos y los Criados

The Captives’ and Servants’ Room

The history of slavery, captivity, peonage and servitude in New Mexico is a long and difficult story. The earliest years of the colony’s history involved a system called encomienda, a demand for tribute goods and labor used throughout the colonial world. Given the especially harsh conditions of life on the far northern frontier of New Mexico, the encomienda along with disease and other abuses led to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The encomienda system was eventually abandoned after the return of Spanish colonists under Don Diego de Vargas, however some aspects of the tribute system continued. Against this backdrop, there was also the widespread practice of raiding and stealing of humans — especially women and children — being practiced by many tribal groups and the colonists.

The great value of this human capital can be parsed from trade reports citing slaves sold in Mexico proper and those sold were high priced commodities. One of the terms given for those who were separated from their tribes was gení zaro (detribalized Native Americans). By some estimates almost one-third of the population of the area consisted of people with some form of mixed ancestry and/or separation from their original people through captivity, slavery and peonage.

In our prosperous Rancho it is likely that captives were purchased through barter and then “rescued” in a fictive form of salvation called rescate where captives were baptized by the church and “saved” by their owners thus avoiding the laws that forbade slavery. The lives of these individuals were very much dependent on the luck of the draw — they could be used harshly or brought into the family in a modest way but still their labor and care was at the discretion of their owners. Even though the colony was far from centers of power, this was a highly stratified society where servants and slaves had few rights while vecinos (citizens) and the highest levels—the Dons and Doñas (honorific titles) — were given access to legal and economic benefits.

Unlike the chattel system of slavery in the American South, the children of this colony’s slaves could make their way in the world and extraordinary individuals were known to have bartered their abilities to become prosperous and well-regarded. In time, through avenues such as the rescate and other kinship alliances, tribal and mixed heritage individuals became part of the overall population and their past hidden — in similar fashion to crypto Jews. Few of the slaves or peons of this colony were of African heritage. In terms of marriage, “Captives had limited opportunities to achieve socially approved marriages…theoretically, a captive gained freedom by marrying. This naturally gave owners strong motivation for preventing marriage. In fact the small number of marriages that occurred shows how successful owners were at preventing marriage. What formal control owners had in this matter is not known, but whatever pressures they brought to bear were effective. Social attitudes were perhaps of importance and the stigma of marrying a captive may have been enough to discourage these marriages.” (Brugge, “Navajos in the Catholic Church Records of New Mexico 1694-1875”, p. 117, 125).

Servants and peons could be fellow Spanish colonists. Men serving in the militia, with no other option, often resorted to selling their children into peonage in order to afford to equip themselves for the required term of service. As late as 1868, the United States government formally freed well over 300 individuals from peonage and slavery in New Mexico. Human trafficking in New Mexico was intense, went on for centuries, and had a profound effect upon all levels of the population.

At the Rancho, the servants and slaves would have likely slept in the kitchen or in their working quarters. In the captives room you see that a woman of Navajo origins is using her knowledge of weaving to make textiles that could be bartered for other goods. Other women and children would share this room with her. Their sleeping/working quarters are not markedly different from those of the rest of the family but all that you see would have belonged to the owner family and not to the peon or slave. In general this room has few objects of comfort and value indicating the status of the individuals who reside here.

The large basket-like crates along the back wall are holding raw wool to be carded or spun. These types of crates were common in New Spain and would have come up the Camino Real to New Mexico loaded with goods on a caravan. Instead of disposing of them the colonists would have repurposed them as you see here. Other work that may be done in this room is the carding and spinning of wool. Grinding would have been done using the mano and metate with corn or wheat coming from the harinero. The Rancho would need as many metates going as possible and the prepared grain would be added to what was already ground in the kitchen.

  • Open basket-like boxes or crates are used to store the raw materials of the weaver.
  • Like other rooms, the servants or slaves have a rolled jerga mattress that is used for both sleeping and sitting.
  • The textile on the upright loom is being made using the techniques and designs of early Navajo weavings. This type of vertical loom is a native design. Even smaller looms of similar design were portable and are known as back-strap looms.
  • Navajo rugs and Hispanic weavings are displayed on hanging poles. These would be pulled down at night for bedding or used during the day for seating.
  • A small fireplace provides warmth and light.
  • A mano and metate in the room would be used by the captive or other servants, spending much of their time preparing corn meal or wheat flour.
  • Storage of grain adjacent in the harinero was a convenience for the woman working at the metate.
  • The only light source for the workers would have been daylight through the open door or the light of the fire at night. Precious tallow candles or oil lamps would have been reserved for the use of the Rancho owner’s family.

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Where Buildings Came From

Golondrinas Volunteer Corp

Country Store

This building from Las Trampas, NM was acquired from Mr. Jose Martinez of Vallecito, NM in 1969. At one point in the early 1900s it was a store/post office (a common feature in rural New Mexico) run by Jose Medina. He sold the store to two brothers, Jose C. Romero and Benito Romero. In 1908 Benito sold his share to Jose and moved to Vadito where he opened his own store/post office in 1916. He died in 1938 but his family ran the store for at least 40 more years. Jose continued to operate the store in Las Trampas until 1940. Mr. Paloheimo bought 3 counters and a glass display box from Romero that he had used in his store. Jose died in August 1968 and Mr. Paloheimo took up correspondence with his son and daughter and bought more items for the museum, including a couple of barns and some old doors.

As with many of the other buildings brought in from around the state, all the logs are marked with round metal numbers so that when they were brought to Las Golondrinas workers could reassemble the buildings exactly as they were originally built.

The sheep barn in the Baca Placita was also bought from Jose Romero. The barn was located behind his store in Las Trampas.

Leatherworking Shop

In the early 1970s Mr. Paloheimo had considered contracting Elias Sena to build a tannery at the ranch. Sena quit working at the ranch in early 1972 and the plans fell through. In 2000 the current hide tanning exhibit was built here at the museum.

Wheelwright Shop

The building that houses the Wheelwright Shop was originally a mill located just outside of Truchas. It was bought from Mrs. Bonifacio Dominguez in 1969. The equipment inside belonged to Miguel Casias, a third generation blacksmith.

Woodworkers/Carpenters Shop

Constructed in 2007 using new lumber and logs from an older building from the museum.

Talpa Mill

Built in the early 1800s, this mill is from Talpa, NM.

Old Golondrinas Mill

Purchased in the late 1960s from the Padilla Family of Truchas, NM. Rebuilt on site of original mill, which is mentioned in old wills.

Truchas Mill

Built by Jose de la Luz Barela in 1873 this mill was used until 1940. It was purchased in 1968 by the Paloheimos from members of the Barela family. In 1991 the mill was completely restored to working condition. There are only about ten Spanish Colonial style, horizontal water wheel powered grist mills left standing in the United States, three of them are at Las Golondrinas. The only one that is still operational is the Truchas Mill.

Blacksmith Shop

This building was originally a part of a small semi-ruined barn from a small village called El Guique, near San Juan Pueblo. It was bought from Max Martinez. The contents of the shop where bought from Manuel Apodaca in 1971. Apodaca was born in 1893 in Santa Fe and started working as a blacksmith helper at the age of 15. After serving in World War I he worked on Upper Canyon Road from 1928–1974. He died in 1977 at age 84.

Raton Schoolhouse, Las Golondrinas


There is conflicting research on the exact dates but the school house was built sometime around 1878 in Raton, NM as a private home. Tuition fees were paid by the parents because there were no public funds. Two years later the public school was built and the Raton Schoolhouse was abandoned. “It was later occupied as a residence by Mr. Leopold Biddle, a promoter and mining man of Elizabeth Town, with his daughter and son in law, Harvey Applegate. At this time additions were built to the house and it has ever since been used as a residence and is now the property of Mrs. Ida Atwater.” (1934 letter) It was donated to the ranch by Delores Noel of Tesuque in memory of her mother Ida Atwater. It was rebuilt at the ranch in 1980.


This Morada is a 2/3s replica of the south morada in Abiquiu, NM. It was built in 1972 by Elias Sena, the ranch foreman. 2,640 adobe bricks at 25¢ each were brought in to make the Morada. Sena was paid $6,900 for the work. Fourteen Penitente Hermanos from Arroyo Seco were present at the dedication of the morada at Fall Festival 1973. It is dedicated to Our Lady of Peace, La Conquistadora.

The crosses from the cemetery where collected by the State Department when they where building roads in northern New Mexico. No humans are interred at the site, however, Kitty Grey, a ranch cat is buried there.

Madrid House

Built in 1978 by 20th Century Fox for the filming of the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: The Early Years.

Shepherds Cabin

Donated by Betty Caldwell in 1984. This building was originally built in Colorado and Betty’s father, Jimmy Caldwell moved it to downtown Santa Fe in the 1950s. It was located behind 131–135 E. DeVargas St. by the river.

Sierra Village, the Mora House Mora House

The Mora house was constructed in 1971. It represents the architecture of Mora, NM.

Casa de la Abuelita, Grandmothers House

Grandmother’s House

It was Isabelita Sandoval Quintana’s house. She was the Grandmother of Suzie Barela who sold the Paloheimo’s the building along with Casita Primitiva.

Casita Primitiva (Grandfather’s House)

This was built in Truchas in 1850 by Juan Augustin Sandoval the great grandfather of Suzie Barela who sold the building (along with Grandmother’s House) to the Museum in 1971. Juan’s son Jose Demecio Sandoval was the last one to live in the cabin.

The sheep pens were bought in Trampas from the Lopez family.

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