Another View of Old New Mexico

KitCarson-1Land of Enchantment: Memoirs of Marian Russell Along the Santa Fe Trail offers one of the few first hand accounts of life on the trail from the perspective of a woman. The book was originally published in 1954 but in limited edition. A 1981 edition includes notes and an index plus an Afterward by Marc Simmons.

In one chapter, Ms. Russell recalls a visit with Kit CarsonĀ  when she was about 15 years old. “Colonel Kit Carson came to see us in a new beaded buck-skin jacket. He let us finger it and exclaim over its beauty. The Indian women had woven porcupine quills cleverly among the red beads. It was gorgeous. Many strange figures and designs were on the jacket, each an Indian symbol. The trousers were deeply fringed all down the outer legs and made him look like a chieftain. He came and sat on the settee by mother. They laughed together about the hold the land of the coyote and Indians had upon them. ‘It is rough I know, and may be dangerous,’ said Mother, ‘but I love it.'”

The book jacket description ends with this line. “Marian Russell’s love of travel, her fascination with the people she met, and her ability to recall details imbue her reminiscences with a lyrical quality, and create a song in prose that is a tribute to a vanished era.” Another good summer read if you find a copy.

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