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Editorials: Roswell Local
By Dennis Balthaser
Little Known Facts About Roswell, New Mexico
Moving to Roswell New Mexico from Texas in 1996 to continue my interest in Ufology, provided me with a good base for doing that research, and also gave me the opportunity to learn a lot more about my new home state, and particularly the town of Roswell and Chaves County. With the help of many “locals”, and particularly information I’ve gathered from Elvis E. Fleming, Chief Archivist of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico, Inc. www.hssnm.net I will try to share some information with you that perhaps you’ve not read or heard about before concerning the area of New Mexico where the 1947 UFO crash occurred.
Pre-history for the Roswell area began during the Paleo-Indian Period, who lived in the area around 12,000B.C. – 6,000 B.C. Archaeological dig-sites in the area known as Bloom Mound, Henderson Site, Rocky Arroyo and Fox Place have revealed a sedimentary culture that occupied Southeast New Mexico from about the 9th century until the 14th century, known as the “Jornada-Mogollon”. Other Mogollon cultures in the area included the Anasazi of the Four Corners region and the Hohokam of Arizona. Sometime later the Jornada-Mogollon were replaced by the Mescalero Apaches. The Pioneer Period for Roswell and Chaves County began about 1866 to about 1890.
Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving blazed the Goodnight-Loving Trail in 1866. John Chisum also settled in the Pecos Valley and by 1870 had become the “Cattle King of the Pecos”, being the largest cattle-producer in the United States with tens of thousands of cattle on the ranges along the Pecos River from Ft. Sumner south to the Texas line. In the late 1870s with the Lincoln County War going on, (adjacent to what is now Chaves County), Roswell-area resident Pat Garrett (pictured left) became sheriff of Lincoln County in an attempt to put and end to the violence, and hunt down Billy the Kid. The Army sent the now-famous “Buffalo Soldiers” to protect the town from outlaws in the aftermath of the war.
The Buffalo Soldiers
Chaves County was created in 1889 and organized in 1891. Today it covers an area of 6,095 square miles (4th largest county in New Mexico). The town of Roswell had a population of 343 in 1890. Ten years later Roswell had grown to 2049. In 1947 the population of Roswell was about 22,000, and Chaves County was 35,600. Today the city of Roswell is approaching 50,000. New Mexico Military Institute (pictured left) was established in 1891, and by 1947 had an enrollment of 600 boys. Today NMMI is co-ed and has an enrollment of approximately 1000. The only newspaper today is the Roswell Daily Record, which was started in 1891. In 1947 Roswell had 2 newspapers---the Roswell Daily Record and the Roswell Morning Dispatch. Telephone service failed in 1894 but was successful in 1899. In 1947 most telephone numbers consisted of only 2 or 3 numbers, unlike the 7 digit numbers we have today. Roswell Seed Co. was started in the late 1890s and is still in business today. The railroad also arrived in Roswell in the 1890s. Electricity lit up Roswell for the first time in 1901. KGFL and KSWS were the only two radio stations in Roswell in 1947. KGFL, prominent in the Roswell Incident of 1947, went on the air in 1931. In 1947, postage rates were a little lower than they are today. 1st class letters were 3 cents per ounce; post cards were 1 cent and airmail was 5 cents to anywhere in the United States. Roswell had 25 churches of various denominations in 1947, and 2 banks, First National Bank and Roswell State Bank.
Robert Goddard, (pictured left) the “Father of Modern Rocketry” moved to Roswell in the 1930’s, where he made man’s first attempt to explore outer space. Well known artist Peter Hurd was born in Roswell in 1904. Several other locals achieved national fame in sports over the years, including Tom Brookshier, Pete Jaquess and Chick Smith. Roswell’s All-Stars became Little League World Champions in 1956. Roger Staubach former Dallas Cowboy quarterback, attended New Mexico Military Institute for a year in the 1960’s before attending the Naval Academy. Women’s PGA golfer Nancy Lopez is from Roswell and “Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.” was born in Roswell in 1943 at St. Mary’s hospital (established in 1906). You know “Deutschendorf” better as the famous entertainer “John Denver”. Denver’s dad was stationed at Roswell Army Air Field as a pilot-instructor in the early 1940s. Movie superstar Demi Moore attended school in Roswell before becoming a Hollywood actress.
The Mayor of Roswell in 1947 was Thomas J. Hall. The Governor of New Mexico was Thomas J. Mabry and the Lt. Governor was Joe M. Montoya, who according to some researchers had witnessed the bodies in the hangar in 1947. New Mexico Legislature representatives for Chaves County in 1947 were State Senator Clarence E. Hinkle, while A. B. Carpenter, Ellis Whitney and Wayne W. Adams represented Chaves County in the New Mexico House of Representatives. George Wilcox was the Sheriff of Chaves County, who Mack Brazel contacted when he arrived in Roswell from his ranch, with debris he had recovered on the ranch a few days earlier in July 1947.
The Military Period for Roswell was from 1940 until 1967, which will put us in the time period of the July 1947 UFO crash. Military presence at Roswell began with the installation of a military flying school, which later became Roswell Army Air Field and when the Army and Air Force became separate entities in 1948, the name of the base was changed to Walker Air Force Base. During WW II, Camp Roswell was a large prisoner-of-war camp at Orchard Park, housing 4800 German prisoners. During the 1960s, the federal government built Atlas missile sites and Nike missile installations within a twenty-five mile radius of the Air Force base, which were only operational for a few years. Walker Air Force Base was closed in 1967 and was converted into the Roswell International Air Center, as it remains today.
After WWII, Roswell Army Air Field became the home of the only atomic warfare group, the 509th Composite Bomb Group, who helped end the war by dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The “Enola Gay” B-29 bomber (pictured left) was part of that group and stationed here.
In July 1947, something occurred on a ranch northwest of Roswell, near Corona New Mexico, that warranted a press release by then LT. Walter Haut (Public Information Officer of the 509th pictured left), under orders of the base commander Colonel William Blanchard, stating “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region”. That article was distributed to both newspapers and both radio stations on July 8, 1947 by Haut, and from then on the world knew about the Roswell Incident of July 1947.
In 1991 the International UFO Museum and Research Center was founded by Walter Haut, local Mortician in 1947 Glenn Dennis, and local business man Max Littell. The museum is now in it’s third location since being incorporated and annually draws 200,000 visitors to Roswell.
Present day Roswell is world known for the UFO crash of 1947, and several of us researchers continue to search for answers to this incident that occurred here 57 years ago. Many of the structures at the old base and in town have been demolished or replaced, but the UFO Incident will not go away. The Dairy industry, farming and ranching also continue to thrive on the high plains of southeast New Mexico, making Roswell and Chaves County a unique location with a vast history from Pioneer life to the mysteries of the universe.
Pat Garrett, The Historical Museum Archives for Southeast New Mexico.
Walter Haut, Copyright © Balthaser, 2001
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