Lincoln County, New Mexico, Tells Its Stories, edited by Marilyn Burchett, Lincoln County Historical Society Publications, Lincoln, N.M., 2012, $60
Say "Lincoln County" and most Wild West aficionados will think war and Billy the Kid, not necessarily in that order. But the New Mexico county naturally has many other stories—perhaps not as dramatic or violent or newsworthy but still interesting. Some 400 Lincoln County family history narratives appear here, along with more than 850 photographs. The Lincoln County Historical Society compiled the stories and images, but that was just the start. Many of the stories were 3,000 words instead of the requested 1,000, and contributors had submitted more than 5,000 photos. That didn’t discourage hardworking editor Marilyn Burchett from saying in the introduction that she is looking for more stories for a second volume.
Some of the stories in this first volume previously appeared in the Lincoln County News. One such tale involves Arthur J. Rolland (1880–1950), former Carrizozo mayor and Lincoln County clerk, remembered as a good guy: “Back in the days of mining at White Oaks and Nogal, more than one strapped prospector was the benefit of Art’s generosity and willingness to make a bet.” The book does profile figures from the Lincoln County War, many of the entries—Sheriff William Brady, Sheriff Pat Garrett, Alexander McSween, L.G. Murphy, etc.—drawn from the New Mexico tourism website. George W. Coe, a Regulator like Billy the Kid, later wrote Frontier Fighter: The Autobiography of George Coe (1934). But his entry here, by Janice Perry Loving, insists he was otherwise a peaceful farmer/rancher who was proud of his wife and eight children, planted the first apple trees in the Hondo Valley and lived to be 86: “He loved to sit under the trees at his store by Highway 70 and visit with his grandchildren, friends and the many visitors who came by.” Makes you wonder what Billy the Kid would have done had he lived to be an old man in Lincoln County.