A tale of the Valley, or ...
“How the Valley got its name - believe it or not”
( For your convenience, a map is provided so that you may follow the story. )
This is a mythical tale that tries to explain how the Mesilla Valley was founded in a different way
"Do you know how the Mesilla Valley was named? Years ago people were saying that the Indian, Geronimo, was sitting on a mesa with his friend, and he was looking down over the valley. He cupped his hand over his forehead to shade his eyes, and he said, "Me see a valley."
And that's what people are saying. But that's not true. It was a Mexican family coming up from Mexico who actually named the entire Mesilla Valley.
Well, the saying goes that, one day during the time of Pancho Villa, a family decided to leave their town because Villa and his men were coming and they were killing, thieving and marauding - you name it. So the father says to one of the kids, "We need to get out of here. Pack up everything into the wagon and let's go. Put all the family in there." So they loaded up the furniture and the kids and they loaded the wagon and left.
Then they got to a river, and everyone looked at the father and said, "How are we going to cross?" And he looks to the left of the river and to the right of the river, and finally he looked to the center. And he said, "Look! El Paso!" And so they named that place El Paso. So they cross over and he hits the horses because they knew that Pancho Villa was after them and they took off.
So, all the family’s in the wagon, but the uncle falls out. And the kids scream, "Cayó tio, cayó tio!" And that's how that place is named Canutillo.
Well, they all get in and dad says, "We better hurry or Pancho Villa is going to catch us. So, he hits the horse and they take off.
Mamá at this time begins to count all the cabacitas to make sure that everybody is in the wagon. And she screams at the top of her lungs, "Anthony! Anthony!"
Well, Papá has to turn the horses around and go back to Canutillo to pick up Anthony and bring him back to Anthony. Papá says, "Pancho Villa is going to catch us. We better take a turn here”. So they turn to the left.
On down the way, there was a big boulder in the road, and a wheel of the wagon hit it, and a piece of furniture falls out. The kids scream, "La mesa, la mesa!" And that's how that place called La Mesa was named.
So they loaded up the mesa, and Papá says, "Pancho Villa's going to catch us. He's going to kill us for sure. Let's make another turn”. So they go to the right this time.
On down the way, they're all fearful. So he says, "We better hide." And his wife says to him, "Where?" And he looks forward, and he says, 'Look, there is some mesquite!" So they hid there for a little while in the place that is now called Mesquite.
Finally he says, "Lets get going." So they load up into the wagon, and he hits the horses. And he remembers that in Canutillo, uncle fell out of the wagon. Mom looks at him, and he's all banged up. She says, "We've got to repair your brazito, and they repair it and bandage it in Brazito, New Mexico."
Papá is saying, "Pancho Villa going to catch us. We better take another turn." Again to the left they went. And the same thing happened. Another boulder, another wheel. A piece of furniture falls out again. This time, Mamá screams at the top of her lungs, "Mi silla vale!" Which means, "My chair is valuable."
In turn, Geronimo, the Indian who's sitting up there, and he can't hear so well, which is why he cupped his eyes. And he heard her say, "Mi silla vale." So, it was a Mexican family that named the Mesilla Valley.
Well, Papá says, "We better get out of here." So they loaded up the chair, and they take off.
Now remember, poor canó tio, he's old, he's just gotten banged up and they've been riding so fast and he just can't take any more of this. And he dies, right there in the wagon.
The kids start crying and tears are rolling down and they yank on Mamá's dress and they say, " Mamá”. And she says, "What's the matter?" And they say, "Cano tío is dead!" So she starts waving and crying and so forth, and hanging onto her husband. And she says, "What are we going to do?" And the father says, "We're going to bury him." She is crying and she says, "Where?" And he says, "Look! Ahead of us! Las Cruces!" And they buried him there. When they finish having the funeral, and the crying stops, Papá says, "We've got to hurry. Pancho Villa’s going to catch us." So they load up into the wagon and they start going down the jornada del muerto. Now, the jornada is a journey of death, and the Journey of Death is nothing but dust and weeds and dirt. And the wheels of the wagon are kicking up dust, and the feet of the horses are kicking up dust, and remember, this takes one day.
Finally, Papá says, "I'm tired. If Pancho Villa catches us, that's all right. I'm just so tired." So he gets down off the wagon, and he climbs down and pulls out his handkerchief, and he sneezes. "Achoo! Achoo!”
So now you know, it was really a Mexican family running from Pancho Villa who named this valley.
( Source: The Bulletin, Newcomers Guide 2001, Las Cruces, NM )