Monday, April 9, 2012

Hispanic Buffalo Hunters - History Museum of New Mexico

This morning I spent quite a while doing a presentation on Ciboleros (Buffalo Hunters). Here's a piece of what I wrote for a chapter in Sunshine and Shadows In New Mexico's Past, but follows the presentation I did for the docents. The Historical Society of New Mexico, is publishing a three part series of books that follow each century.

Hides were considered to be valuable commodities as early New Mexico wills denote them as part of the hijuelas (inventories). Salvador Montoya in 1727, noted 55 tanned buckskins, four white buffalo skins and three buffalo skins, all included in his estate.[i] Alonzo Rael de Aguilar in 1745 had as property, 40 buffalo hides, including tanned ones.[ii] Diego Manuel Baca, in 1727, declared that Antonio Montoya owed him two hides with seven bands in a girdle; along with seven other buckskins[iii]. Bartola Hurtado upon her deathbed, noted five hides, and six old ones, valued at $24, skin paintings at $2 and numerous other household items[iv]. The 1780 estate of don Manuel Vigil from Taos shows an inventory of 242 skins of different sizes, 11 which were buffalo hides, 7 white, and 12 thick. The white skins were valued at 12 pesos, 2 reales, 11 hides at 38 pesos, 4 reales and thick hides at 14 pesos, 2 reales. These men and their families likely hunted buffalo in the early 18th century, acquiring them as part of their household inventories. Much of the buffalo were used for home use. The additional hides were sold or traded up and down the Camino Real.

[i] Spanish Archives of New Mexico, Twitchell # 512. [Montoya will and testament. Salvador wed Maria Manuela Garcia de la Riva April 25, 1800, Bernalillo]

[ii] Spanish Archives of New Mexico SANM, (New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe, NM) Twitchell # 31. [Aguilar will and testament. Aguilar had two wives and 10 known children]

[iii] SANM, Twitchell #83. [Baca will and testament. The amount totaling $114. Baca married Maria de la Vega y Coca on August 14, 1719 at Bernalillo]

[iv] SANM, Twitchell # 409. [Hurtado will and testament. She married Bernardo Bustamante and they lived in Santa Fe until her death]

© 2012 Henrietta M. Christmas

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