Dave Farr Oral History: Farr Ranch, East of Horse Springs
Collected by Brenda Wilkinson, BLM Socorro Field Office
From the November/December, 2014 newsletter.
With roots in Germany and Scotland, the Farr family has been in the United States since the early 1800s, and in New Mexico since the late 1800s. George Farr, Dave Farr’s great grandfather, was born in Germany in 1818 and re-ceived American citizenship in Cole County, Missouri in 1854. The family had left Scotland for Germany in the 1600s and trace their roots to a town named Farr in the northern tip of Scotland. Farr’s great grandmother, Ida Murray, was born in Bisbee, Arizona. Her mother was a French Canadian who mi-grated through New Orleans to the mines in Arizona, where Ida was born. Dave Farr’s grandfather (also David Farr) homesteaded at Patterson Cutoff, and his father (also George Farr, with his wife Edith Funk) homesteaded on the Plains of San Agustín, east of Horse Springs, where Dave and Karen Farr still live. They built up the large ranch the family operates today by acquiring additional land over the years. The ranching family tradition continues with Roy Farr, Dave and Karen’s son, who also lives on the ranch with his family, and daughter Amy, who lives on another company ranch near Crownpoint, New Mexico.

The interviews took place at the Farr home east of Horse Springs in February 2008, with clarifications provided in January and February, 2010.

Brenda Wilkinson: When did your family get here (to the ranch)? Dave Farr: Well, 1904. And this is that old ranch in Patterson Cutoff. Sheep. Well, they had sheep and cattle from the very beginning. They added on here; there’s two log rooms, and then they built a rock commissary there. Well, the rock commissary was much later. They just had two log rooms there for quite a few years.

R. C. Patterson, over here, other side of Horse Springs, had the contract to furnish beef for the Cavalry at Warm Springs, Ojo Caliente. So he’d either drive or haul the beef all the way up here, over the Divide. This is Patterson Cutoff, you get over the Divide and go down another canyon. Yeah, went by Paddy’s Hole. Went off here and then probably Patterson cutoff here, and that goes on down to Warm Springs. Then they were in the ranching business other places in New Mexico before here, by the Manzano mountains. My father was born on a ranch there, at a place called Las Moyas, a ranch in the Manzano Mountains. And then they had another ranch by Rosedale…southwest of Magdalena. I don't know the exact place. My grandmother'd tell me, they were a day’s wagon trip out of Magdalena, and everybody’d stop and spend the night, and turn their team loose, same thing going on. They'd buy supplies, and all she did was cook all the time for all these travelers. Yeah, so she didn't like Rosedale.

They gradually acquired more country; here there was nothin'. The homesteads, there was an old V Cross T camp over where Roy lives, a two room adobe house. And then maybe, only other place that I can think of would have been Fullerton Ranch, and they bought that in '27. But I think Fullerton, he built his houses out on the flat. He said that’s so he could see the Indians comin'. So this was back when there was Indian trouble. Did you know that Fuller-ton was the captain of the first mounted police in New Mexico? I've got a book but it's loaned out now. They formed a mounted police and there was only ten, twelve men that eventually turned into the state police. He was the cap-tain for one year. It was a political deal you know, so somebody else was elected and they kicked him out and got somebody else to run it. They were mainly after cattle thieves.

We sheared here and Hubbles sheared here and Fullerton, and Juan Garcia, and it was really an efficient deal. They had an old Fairbanks Morse engine, and then they had ten troughs or ten shearers. And they’d bring the sheep in here to a sweat shed and - I don’t even know, do sheep sweat?

My mother's family owned that hotel and she worked there as the waitress and making up beds and everything. And I think I've told Mark that we'd go to Magdalena and rent a room and my mother would be there, demanding “no rooms over the saloon” (laughter) because she'd seen too many pistol shots through the roof of their saloon. And I don’t think it’s of any importance, see they were all German, and the hotel was named Swastika. And then WWII or WWI started, and they changed the name real quick. Well that’s the two names it had. And they all spoke German among the family at home. So that was the reason they originally used that name, before it was a bad thing, which it really was during the world wars. And you know the Indians used the swastika on their blankets but it was usually made backwards from the way the Germans printed it. My mother and father were married in 1923, and so she was part of the family that run the hotel, so she worked there and then over at the old bank . We had two big snow storms that I can remember here. I think one was in 1968 and the next one was exactly 20 years later. And we had to break trails for the cattle to go up in the mountains and get to the south slope where the snow had melted. The south slopes were melted off. So big snow storms are somethin' we're afraid of. Now there's been more here that I never saw, but they're pretty infrequent, fortunately.