by Francisco A. Rios
LETTERS FROM CHIHUAHUA
(Editor’s note: Dr. Rios, a retired professor from the University of Colorado at Denver, spent 805 volunteer hours over a span of one year and seven months cataloging hundreds of letters from the Tabor Collection at the Colorado Historical Society (CHS) onto a computer database. We are reproducing some of these letters as a series with the generous permission of the CHS.)
The letterhead of the Santa Eduwiges mining company, near Jesús María in the state of Chihuahua, lists Horace Tabor as president during 1893-94. Don Juan Hart is one of the directors. Jesús María no longer appears on maps, but Horace mentions Guerrero, a town about 75 miles west of Chihuahua, the state capital. Horace writes to Lizzie on Sept 15 1893 with good news about the mine.
My Darling Darling Wife
I have just wired you as follows “Whole mill running. Hart remains another year, open a bottle Will explore mine tomorrow” We have a very grand mill and it will make us lots of money Just how much we cannot yet tell. The mine I will write you of after I see it tomorrow.
I watch the buckets from tramway dump with great satisfaction I wait to go to the mine until tomorrow so as to let Hart and myself watch the little things and make little changes about the slime tank where the pulp from mill dumps and about getting pans started all right. In starting up any new mill it needs watching Hart has done wonders and no mistake no one can fully realize it until they come over the trail from Guerrero to this place We stood the trip like veterans. Hart had to have two pieces packed with men from Guerrero Just think it took them 20 days the distance is about 100 miles and nearly all up and down and oh the summit of the Sierras is wonderful and thick timber to the top and the scenery above Jesus Maria is by far the grandest I have ever seen but I will tell you about that when in your arms and when you tell me you love me as I know you do I had an awful dream coming in about you and could not sleep after for some time but it was only a dream… do not forget to think of me and love me for without it I would not exist love love the little ones for me
Later the same month, Horace is able to estimate the worth of the mine. On the morning of Sept 24 1893, before breakfast, Horace covered five pages with his large handwriting and gave Lizzie amazing numbers. Several words are undecipherable, but the numbers stand out.
Oh how I do want to see you and have a lot of your love it seems an age since I left you at Depot I do hope you are not worried to death with business complications. I have no idea about our affairs there except by your telegrams which say all of the matters here are wonderfully grand This mine will give us money enough to dispense charity with a liberal hand as long as we may or can live and leave our children with lots of money. I read Petes letter he wrote you last night (Peter McCourt, Lizzie’s brother, working the mine with Horace) his estimate is all right It is now a little after 7 am and such a beautiful Sunday morning the sun does not reach the boarding house until about 9 am and it leaves us about 4-30 on account of such high mountains both sides of the gulch
we had one of the storms that troubles us so much here three days ago and stoped the mill for 36 hours by breaking the flume and filling up some of the ditch oh you ought to see a tropical rain the clouds open and the water drops out by or in terrible quantities this trouble lasts only a period of three months and we will probably have no more for nine months the water raised in the gulch ten feet in 20 minutes and the gulch will average steeper than 13th street from Sherman to Broadway and the bottom is filled with large boulders some as large as a small house. It was a sight to see the muddy water tearing along and we could hear big boulders roll and bump along but enough of this
It is wonderful about the safeness of the trail and road we are safer a thousand times than in the city of Denver never any trouble about looting bullion on its way out Pete told you in his letter about the change we are compelled to make in the management We did not like to do it but were compelled but we will have a man who is as competent as Hart and strictly honest I know him In fact a high up mexican is the soul of honor Again referring to mine I was awfully well pleased to see all of the surface and _____ have about 14 hundred feet of new ground in which is many a bonanza there is as I believe ore enough in sight of good paying value to last our present mill any way 20 years, and immense probabilitys The mill as I wired you is perfection it should give us nett longer than you will live from $50000 to $200,000 per month and never less than the first figures While at Chihuahua Mr Santorini of K-D told me he expected to get two more 100 of the mine at a cost of six or seven thousand dollars I told him to wait them if he could and he said he would it could not be done then nor could it be hurried we will not know this month until clear up first of Oct it is now all in the _____ and _____ all in quick silver It will not be large for with so much new machinery we have had hot bearings and many little stoppages which always happens with a large plant I dream of you almost every night and I love you so hard all the time your letters are so lovely but I know or rather fear that you are terribly annoyed and worried My Dear girl do take care of yourself for you are my all that _____ love do not fear that we have not time and again _____ him how he has overcome all obstacles and done a wonderful thing as he has you only have to come here over the trail and see the country to know love love as we go to breakfast love Kisses
Hug and kiss babies for me
The same day, Horace writes to his first child, Lily, who is now nine years old. The Honeymaid referred to is Silver Dollar, about four years old.
I love you more than tongue can tell and will come home soon now to see and love you I think we will leave for home in about five days I will have lots to tell you about the big mountains we have crossed over your little chickens are out before now I shall be glad to see them wont you be glad to see them tell Honeymaid that I love her more high than tongue can tell and have got her and you a little mexican handkerchief from here
Your papaDr. Francisco A. Rios is a Colorado native who taught Spanish literature, culture, civilization and language for 30 years at the University of Colorado at Denver. He was also Chairman of the Dept. of Modern Languages for ten of those years. He is now a volunteer for the Colorado History Museum and for the Denver Police Department.