Memories make history

By Lynn Moncus

Not long ago, J.T. Warren of Arvada, Colo., sent a real treasure trove to this woman from Ima and also to the museum. He included a brief history of the Fisher family who homesteaded in the Plain, Puerto, Norton area in
1906, a family tree, and 227 photographs, most of which were identified in
the accompanying log.

We had met earlier in the summer when he and a number of his family
members came to visit the museum and to place flowers at Plain Cemetery.
We conversed about family members I had known and talked much about the
area. He explained that some of the photos were from glass plate negatives
and that most showed the history of the area, as well as the family
members who lived there in the early days.

The pictures are of particular interest because they portray the life of
the homesteaders and especially the history of farming during those days.
Just viewing the farm equipment lets us know about the changes which have
occurred during these hundred years. We see people at work, at play, and
dressed for special occasions. Although I knew approximately where Plain
was, I hadn’t seen a picture of the settlement until the pictures arrived.
Now, when I pass that way, I can feel very comfortable with the past and
can appreciate our history even more.

Emma Evelyn Fisher began writing her story in 1964 at age 66 and told of
her life in Illinois and Missouri before coming to New Mexico with her
parents, Thomas and Susannah Alice Ambrose Edwards in 1908. Her graphic
descriptions of life in Quay County take the reader into the past to see
the good and bad times the families had. She names many of the people in
the area and talks about a number of the communities, the building of
schools, the digging of dugouts, and life in general.

She met Pirl Fisher in 1914 and mentioned she had known of the Fishers,
who homesteaded in 1906 and who lived only four miles north of her family
but under the caprock. That showed even more that our small communities
had boundaries and that people might know their closest neighbors only but
not know people from nearby communities. At any rate, she and Pirl were
married in 1915. She devotes quite a bit of space to the Dr. William
Lancaster family and their life on the plains before moving to Clovis.

Because Mrs. Lancaster was afraid to stay alone with her children, “she
had a standing arrangement with Mother that when she saw a white rag
hanging in a certain spot, it meant the doctor was off on one of his long
trips, so Mother would send me up to stay with her.” Such wonderful
vignettes appear throughout the story and keep the reader enthralled with
our history, as well as with her story.

If only more people from our area had taken the time to write their
stories, we could have a more complete history of our county, but we can
still capture much of it if we will but take the time to write our own
memories of our lives in these parts. Also, if we have pictures of the
past, we should think of sharing them in order to fill in more of our
history. Quite a few of us are older than Mrs. Fisher was when she began
her project and could provide many details about the post-homestead days.
Words and pictures are priceless!