Archive for the ‘Cemeteries’ category

Making Tombstones

October 27, 2017

Here is my tombstone face plate for the Halloween graveyard at the Coltons. It says “relentless until her last breath.” I added a weight to the top. Made this on Monday, but got it to Christina late because of a busy week!

Language as a Weapon

March 21, 2013

•Navajo Code Talkers of WWII•
(Photo courtesy of

Today was special for the Navajo saviors of World War II. The Navajo Code Talkers were rightfully honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution with a new monument here in the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

During World War II the Diné language was used as a weapon. A secret code was created to confuse the Japanese by using over 200 words. Without the language of 400+ awesome Navajo Marines, the war may have been lost.

New Mexico History Buff: Dr. Melzer

March 22, 2012

Dr. Richard Melzer is a Professor of History with the University of New Mexico’s Valencia Campus, and a former President of the Historical Society of New Mexico. Here is page 10 of his acknowledgements in *Buried Treasures: Famous and Unusual Gravesites in New Mexico History. He took the time to thank me for assisting with his research.

Tomorrow night, Dr. Richard Melzer will deliver a lecture in conjunction with the Alamogordo Speaker Series. The presentation will be relative to his book New Mexico: Celebrating the Land of Enchantment. This particular book is part of the New Mexico’s Centennial Project. The lecture will begin at 7:00pm on Friday night, and will take place in the Flickinger Center for Performing Arts. I wish I could make the presentation, as it is sure to be an interesting one. I have assisted Dr. Melzer with his research over several years, and he is always polite and appreciative. He has officially acknowledged me in print on a couple of occasions, which I am proud of. As a Professor of History with the University of New Mexico’s Valencia Campus and former President of the Historical Society of New Mexico, he is always digging up history. One of his more interesting books has been Buried Treasures: Famous and Unusual Gravesites in New Mexico History. Something a Dark Archivist has to love right?  🙂  Good job Dr. Melzer!

For more information on this history buff, you can visit:

A  Special Delivery from Dr. Melzer by Felicia Lujan- posted on October 15, 2011-



Melzer ready to tout N.M. history Friday in Alamo

Originally published online by the Alamogordo Daily News by Bev Eckman-Onyskow on March 21, 2012


“Alamogordo is just great,” Dr. Richard Melzer said. “If I were going on vacation, I’d go to Alamogordo.”

He’s going to be here Friday, but on a working trip, as part of the Alamogordo Speaker Series.

It will be a presentation based on his book “New Mexico: Celebrating the Land of Enchantment.” The book is an official centennial project; the presentation will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Flickinger Center for Performing Arts. Admission is free and the doors open at 6.

“It’s going to be fun — the history of New Mexico in images, set to music,” said Martha Burns, who is co-chairman of the Speaker Series with Amy Rivers. They head a “dedicated committee that works hard on this series,” Burns said.

In a telephone interview Wednesday from his home in Belen, Melzer said he has 120 slides for the presentation.

“There are pictures of Alamogordo in the book, from Prohibition,” he said. “It was a big deal because Alamogordo is on the road coming out of Mexico, and the rum runners used it. There was a famous lawman, Howard Beacham, who did a great job.”

There’s a page in the book titled Prohibition Fiasco, 1920-1933. One photo shows a “Nash coupe with bootleg liquor, Alamogordo, 1931. Ingenious rum runners hid their cargo in every possible compartment É Prohibition agent Howard Beacham arrested a rum runner whose truck contained 972 pints of American whiskey, as well as almost 200 quarts of assorted spirits.”

Melzer said educator and author Dr. David Townsend “is my inspiration because he did so much with Alamogordo history.”

Burns said Michael Shinabery, the master of ceremonies, set the slides to music for each of the decades. First, 1912-1921, is “O Fair New Mexico,” the state song. Others are “Smokey the Bear,” Gene Autry, 1942-1951; “Army Air Corps,” Bing Crosby, 1932-1942; and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Peter, Paul & Mary, 1981-2012.

The Alamogordo Speaker Series is a consortium of the Friends of the Library, the Tularosa Basin Historical Society, New Mexico State University-Alamogordo and the Alamogordo Daily News.

Melzer is a professor of History at the University of New Mexico. Currently, he is teaching New Mexico history and United States history at UNM’s Valencia campus. He was Teacher of the Year at UNM in 1995. He is also past president of the Historical Society of New Mexico.

He lives with wife, Rena, “who takes good care of me,” he said. They have two children and one grandchild.

The genesis of the photo book, he said, was “I’d always been fascinated by New Mexico landscapes and scenery and people, so I thought it would be an ideal time to produce this book for the centennial.”

It was serendipity because publisher Gibbs Smith asked him to do one.

“It isn’t often that authors get the opportunity when their interest coincides with a publisher’s plans,” Melzer said. “The publishers did a beautiful job in designing and printing it. It’s just great.”

Melzer had already written 16 books, ranging from “Fred Harvey Houses of the Southwest” and “Ernie Pyle in the American Southwest” to, with Charlene Reyes, “The New Mexico Journey,” a seventh-grade textbook, and, with Sandra K. Mathews and Robert J. Torrez, “A History of New Mexico Since Statehood,” a ninth-grade textbook.

For this effort, he said he spent much time scouring his personal archives, as well as those of the Museum of New Mexico and the New Mexico State Archives in Santa Fe, the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University. A few he took himself, including one of a Waste Isolation Pilot Project truck “while driving with my left hand and taking pictures with my right. Fortunately, it was an isolated area.”

The overall result was more than 400 photographs spread through 336 pages.

The Loss of a Devoted Lover of New Mexico History: Gerald Gonzáles (1943-2011)

November 2, 2011

“Colleagues remember attorney as ‘brilliant,’ ‘eclectic’ and ‘fun,’ with a passion for his state.” SFNM

Today I was so sad to learn that New Mexico has lost a devoted lover of history. Gerald González passed away on Tuesday. Gerald had pancreatic cancer, which is the same cancer which recently took the life of Steve Jobs. Gerald has been a long-time patron and friend. I heard from him through email a few months ago when he emailed me about my web site. He said he enjoyed reading my posts, and had read my post on the desecration of a sacred burial site dating back to New Mexico’s Territorial Period. Vandals had demolished several headstones in Las Vegas, New Mexico. This included headstones in the Masonic and Montefiore Cemeteries. Most of the destruction had occurred in the westside of the cemetery, which is the final resting place of many people from the Jewish community, and included pioneer merchants of the area.

Gerald Gonzáles (1943-2011)

When he would come into the archives to research, he was always in a good mood, smiling, and frequently would wear little hats. He was always joking with Gail and I. It is refreshing to meet distinguished people who are not arrogant, are genuine, and who are down to earth. For over a decade, I watched as he pined away on his family history and historical research. Today the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Albuquerque Journal both ran articles about Gerald, but these features did not recognize the side of this man that I am familiar with. Though he was professionally accomplished, he had gained a matching reputation in scholarly circles. I remember finding a photograph of Dr. Stan Hordes and Gerald González in a book I purchased a few years ago (New Mexico’s Crypto-Jews: Image and Memory by Cary Herz- University of New Mexico Press, 2008). At that time, Gerald and I had a discussion about his trip to Spain and Portugal, Sephardic Jews, whispers, symbols, genealogy, the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, and the importance of oral histories.

The articles I read about González today, failed to mention that he was also under the Board of Directors and Officers with the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society (NMJHS). This post is an attempt to acquaint people with the side of Gerald González that he was likely most proud of. The side of Gerald which made him an unbending lover of New Mexico History. If he had some books and extractions, historical records, microfilm, his notebook and a pencil, he would have probably been more than content to have the rest just fall away because doing what we love makes us happy…

Some Recent Historical Contributions
Santa Fe celebrates storied past with historic conference-

Tales of Treasure, Lost and Found-
New Mexico’s hidden past, part one, Buried among unexplained customs and tradition lies an inescapable truth-
Society for Crypto Judaic Studies-

Professional Career
Gerald Gonzáles, 1943-2011: Lawyer who held top government position known to ‘fight for underdog’-–1943-2011-Top-lawyer-known-to–fight-for-under
Udall Praises Former Chief of Staff-

Cemetery Destruction: So Very Saddening

July 4, 2011

New Mexico scholars, historians, genealogists, and archivists are infuriated by the recent desecration of a sacred burial site dating back to New Mexico’s Territorial Period. Vandals have demolished several headstones in Las Vegas, New Mexico. This included the Masonic and Montefiore Cemeteries, which were vandalized last week. Apparently, the majority of the destruction occurred in the westside of the cemetery, which is the final resting place of many people from the Jewish community, and includes pioneer merchants of that area. This is a saddening and disgusting act.

The Ancient Roman Poet Horace once said, “I shall not wholly die, and a great part of me will escape the grave.” May the person or people responsible for this act realize the latter, and hope that those they have disturbed will forgive them. Apparently the caretaker, Ted Herberger is offering a $500 reward for any information regarding the incident. The New Mexico Jewish Historical Society (NMJHS) is a very active organization. These people truly care about history, preservation, and conservation. Every year, the NMJHS sponsors a spring cleanup of the cemeteries. This community outreach “serves not only to keep the cemetery in good condition, but to foster awareness of Jewish history in northern New Mexico and ensure the continuity of the Jewish presence in Las Vegas.” The last time this was done was on May 2, 2010.

One person interred there is the famous Charles Ilfeld. Sophia Truneh wrote a historical paper about the Ilfeld Family [Southwest Jewish History, Volume 3, Number 2, Winter 1995] titled The Ilfelds: A Family Story of Jewish Pioneers in New Mexico. Truneh says “the Ilfelds, like other Jewish pioneer merchants, ranchers, wool and livestock traders, played a major role in the social and economic development of nineteenth century New Mexico. Charles Ilfeld, the patriarch of this family, was a hardworking and noble man, whose values led him to financial success and social prominence. Charles Ilfeld never limited himself to the role of a leading territorial merchant, sheep rancher and land owner. He took an active role in a variety of local, Jewish and Hispanic community affairs. Later in life, he was affectionately referred to by the locals as “Tio Carlos” or “Tio Charlie.” (Tio means uncle in Spanish which is a sign of respect).” Maybe whom ever is responsible for this disgraceful act, needs a lesson in respect.

Vandals topple, destroy cemetery headstones

New Mexico Jewish Historical Society

Surname Index of Burials in the Masonic, Odd Fellows, Montefiore Cemeteries

Grave Markers in Three Las Vegas Cemeteries

Pioneer Merchants of Las Vegas

The Ilfelds: A Family Story of Jewish Pioneers in New Mexico

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