Monday, October 06, 2014

In the Shadow of the Buffalo Hunters: Causey, New Mexico

We’re about to start a run of posts featuring towns out on the eastern plains of New Mexico, some not far from the Texas state line. A few of these aren’t absolute ghost towns in the sense that the populations range from perhaps a couple individuals to around 70. But they’re all pretty obscure. So obscure, in fact, that in many cases all I can find on them, historically-speaking, is what Robert Julyan has to say in The Place Names of New Mexico. But, to me, these are fascinating, picturesque, and photogenic places, each persisting as best it can, whether populated or not, on the lonesome, windswept prairie.

Let’s start with Causey, New Mexico, located in Roosevelt County at the crossroads of NM 114 and 321, 35 miles southeast of Portales and about a mile from Texas. Despite some previous conjecture that the moniker was intended to flatter a railroad VP and get a line through Causey, it now seems agreed that the town was named for at least two of the Causey brothers, T.L. “George” and John. The brothers were buffalo hunters, working in the southeastern part of the state and George, in particular, established a reputation for being one of the most successful in the history of the American West. Estimates by outside observers put the number of buffalo he personally killed at around 40,000. One of George’s hunting companions, George Jefferson, known as “Old Jeff,” said “Causey killed more buffaloes in one winter…than Buffalo Bill Cody killed in his entire lifetime.”

The problem with shooting that many buffalo is that eventually you run out. Of course, that’s how it went and, after hunting through the 1870’s, by 1882 Causey had shot the last of the wild buffalo on what is known as the Llano Estacado, or “Staked Plain,” of eastern New Mexico.

While George Causey generally operated to the south, the town of Causey is on the west central part of the Llano Estacado, one of the largest tablelands in North America, the majority of which is in northwest Texas. Coronado had this to say upon stumbling onto the Llano in 1541:

"I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I traveled over them for more than 300 leagues...with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea...there was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by."

To translate for those of us no longer using leagues, Coronado covered more than 1000 miles.

Thus turning to ranching on the Llano, George Causey established himself south of Lovington, maybe 60 miles from present-day Causey. Mr. Causey promoted the suitability of eastern New Mexico for ranching and farming and, as one of the earliest settlers in the area, opened it up for those who followed, not least by being the first to discover the rich supply of groundwater in the region.

In 1902, Causey was thrown from a horse during a mustang round-up, badly injuring his spine. After traveling all over the country depleting his finances in a failed effort to find medical relief for his severe headaches, and increasingly disenchanted with the rapidly changing West, Causey sold his ranch to pay off debt, married his nurse, and moved near Kenna, 30 miles southwest of the town that bears his family name. He shot himself in his bed on May 19, 1903, his body discovered by his nephews, Vivian and Ralph, who’d heard the report of their uncle's gun. I don’t know if the town of Causey had been established by that time or not; the post office didn't open until 1907.

The earliest date I can put on Causey is 1907, when the post office opened. It remains operational to this day. The townsite was actually moved by Ezra Ball sometime after WWI and is now three miles north of where it was first established. These days you will find some well-kept homes and a few residents. The population as of the 2000 census was 52 and I imagine that’s decreased a little. There is also the ruin of a massive WPA-built school which is collapsing and disappearing into the overgrowth. It was surprising to me that such a large school existed in Causey, but F. Stanley reported in “The Causey (New Mexico) Story,” published in 1966, that there were at least 150 students attending the school in 1942. That's more than I would've guessed. Here’s a taste of how things were back then:

"The Causey school has over fifty in high school and over one hundred in grade school, Supt. L. E. O'Hare stated last weekend. The attendance has been good. The school board has not decided when it will dismiss school for crop gathering, but Supt. O'Hare is of the opinion it will be about the first of next month. There have been no resignations of teachers so far." (Sept. 7, 1942) The school is pictured below.

Also, in 1960, the senior class was said to have visited the "Insane Asylum" in Las Vegas, NM as part of a long field trip. I wonder if the kids lobbied to put that on the itinerary.

Stanley himself said of Causey that, “The most surprising thing is the school system and the fire house, worthy of larger cities.” He went on: “Time is unimportant to the teachers. They give so much of it to the school. Many a trip took me through Causey and teachers would be noted at their desks far into the night. There may be a thousand reasons for this; there may be none save that they love their work.”

Next to the school is a massive metal, armory-like structure with a caved-in roof. I've heard this was the school gymnasium and also held the agricultural shops. Someone else told me they’d played basketball inside the school, which would indicate the gym was there. Heck, maybe there were gyms in both places. (UPDATE: There were two gyms! I've been told the bigger was the "New Gym," probably built in the mid-to-late 1960's. However, it may not have been used as such for long because the school closed sometime in 1970-1971.) Inside the armory were a couple bedraggled pick-up trucks and the first abandoned semi tractor I’ve ever seen, now crushed under the huge roof.

F. Stanley noted in 1966 that, “Causey had a long, hard road to travel, but it has made the grade and the future looks good.” It is referred to as “one of the business centers of Roosevelt County,” with a population of 234 as early as 1920. Like so many small towns, the future Stanley spoke of appears to have, in the end, been at least as hard as the past.

Information for this post came from the aforementioned The Place Names of New Mexico, as well as F. Stanley’s long out of print “The Causey (New Mexico) Story.” Some biographical information on George Causey can be found at the Texas State Historical Society and High Plains Yesterdays. Wikipedia will give you demographics. If you get really into George Causey and the Llano, you will want to read Cowboy Life on the Llano Estacado, written by his nephew, V. H. Whitlock aka Ol’ Waddy. Roosevelt County History and Heritage, by Jean M. Burroughs, wife of former NM governor John Burroughs, documents the county, but doesn’t say a whole lot about Causey.

Next time…Pep, NM!


CoastConFan said...

Gads, the story sounds like a collaboration between Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurty with all the tragedy, transience of the west, and decay. I really appreciate your efforts in digging out these facts and taking the photos for your blog. I checked the map and Causey really is close to the state line, but in those days I suppose it really didn’t matter much. The Staked Plains covers a lot of territory geographically and temporally.

Your readers might want to look at the works of novelist Capt. Thomas Mayne Reid, who wrote two books that may be of interest. Reid’s bio on Wikipedia is well worth the read as well.

The Scalp Hunters: A Romance of the Plain available for free download on Project Gutenberg -- I understand Cormac McCarthy may have read this book when researching Blood Meridian.

The Lone Ranch: A Tale of the Staked Plain (1860), sorry I could not find a free download of this book, but it is available in paperback, presuming you don’t want to buy a pricey early edition.

jmhouse said...

CoastConFan, it is my pleasure to provide these posts! A real labor of love, as they say. Thanks for your continued enthusiasm and contributions.

I have not read Captain Thomas Mayne Reid, but I will certainly have a look. (I did manage to find a downloadable version of The Lone Ranch here: Reid was certainly writing early, wasn't he? The 1860's, back when the buffalo were still plentiful!

Your comment prompted me to add Coronado's take on the Llano Estacado to the post, just to put a finer point on the situation. As if that was necessary!

I didn't know that Cormac McCarthy may have read The Scalp Hunters for background while researching Blood Meridian. I do know that he used Samuel Chamberlain's My Confession: Recollections of a Rogue as a springboard, using Chamberlain's last three chapters as his setting and cast of characters. Chamberlain's book is excellent and, while embellished, is not fiction. Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwyne also provides incredible background on the area from the vantage of Comanche conflicts with early settlers.

You probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that Blood Meridian is perhaps my favorite book. Many people say it is too violent, but after reading the historical accounts of Chamberlain and Gwyne I'd say McCarthy might've actually pulled a few punches. It was often indescribably brutal out there on the plains and much ingenuity on all sides seems to have been put toward finding new ways to dispatch people.

Thanks again! JM

CoastConFan said...

My memory has become an attic full of items and I don’t always recall things as well as I should, so I decided to fact check myself (which is often necessary these days) and found that Reid was a source for McCarthy, along with several other books (of which I was unaware) for Blood Meridian. A quote from a good essay:

“Blood Meridian is built upon information found in three primary sources: General Samuel Emery Chamberlain's autobiographical My Confessions: Recollections of a Rogue, gathered together as a manuscript in 1905 and published in book form in 1956; Audubon's Western Journal 1849-1850, (1906) by John Woodhouse Audubon, son of noted naturalist John James Audubon; and Mayne Reid's The Scalphunters (c. 1851).”

It means I can add those others to my “to do” list of reading. Thank you very much for uncovering the other Reid book, The Lone Ranch, as I hate to pay for out-of-copyright books.

BTW, if you like 19th century books about New Mexico, try one of my great favorites, Ten Years a Cowboy (1898 & 1906) by Charles Clement Post, which is about his time cowboying and later ranching in east NM, basically on the edge of the Staked Plains. It was a big seller when it was published and gives a lot of practical information about cowboying in the late 19th century.

The genuine horror of McCarthy’s narrative is how matter-of-fact the general action is depicted; the brutality is mundane and commonplace. On the other hand his narrative voice about the topography and beauty of the scenery is like a benediction, making the contrast very strong.

vickie said...

I enjoyed the information Causey which was, incidentally, my hometown. I was in the last graduating class of Causey High, a class of 12 members! There was a gym in the main building, by the way, but the "New gym" was the one used when I was in high school. I don't remember when it was built, probably in the mid to late sixties. It is very sad to see that the buildings have collapsed; lots of memories there.

SaraBCox said...

Awesome stuff! I hope you plan to do a write up on Rogers and/or Belcher, NM. I grew up on Rogers and my ancestors founded Belcher way back when.

jmhouse said...

I guess I'll also have to add Audubon's Western Journal to my reading list, CoastConFan. But first I have to tackle The Scalp Hunters!

By the way, Chamberlain's My Confession can be a little hard to find, but the 1956 edition turns up on EBAY for about $20-30. The Texas State Historical Society edition is *very* expensive.

I downloaded Ten Years a Cowboy, too. Thanks for the tip!

Indeed, McCarthy's description of the landscape is a benediction! Having spent a lot of time out there myself, I never get tired of the scenery. Nor do I forget that this is the desert and all it takes is a few mistakes or mishaps to get me in real trouble! JM

jmhouse said...

Vickie, thanks very much for your comment! I love to hear form people that lived or grew up in these places. Causey certainly has changed from when you were there, particularly the school grounds. But thanks for clearing up the gymnasium discrepancy. A gym and a "new gym"! That makes sense.

Attendance must've been dropping fast if you had a graduating class of 12 and the school was being closed. Did the building seem kind of empty at that point? I'm still struck by its size. Plus, the "new gym" is just massive.

Anyway, thanks again for stopping by and sharing your memories! JM

jmhouse said...

SaraBCox, I'd love to do a post on Rogers, but I have not visited yet. Hopefully in the near future I'll get there. The next few posts will be: Pep, House, Negra, and Lucy. You might be familiar with Pep, in particular.

As for Belcher, I couldn't find any information at all about it. The only reference I uncovered was to it being in Roosevelt County. Do you have any history on the town? I'm most intrigued!

Thanks for visiting! JM

Rick said...

I lived in Causey from 1979 to 1986 when I graduated high school. By then the school was just something fun to go sneak into and play around in. The high school that all 8 or so of us kids that lived there went to was in Dora, NM, 16 miles away. The school seems to have sunk about halfway down. When I was there it was still upright. The fire house provided me hours of fun with the pool table there. If you ever find yourself there, find an old timer and listen to some great stories of farmers and ranchers that lived and worked in the area. They were nothing if not an interesting bunch.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother, Lizzie Mae Nance, taught at the Causey school and my Mom, Rosemary Nance, attended school there. My grandfather, Charles Nance, homesteaded in Roosevelt County and operated a dairy a few miles from Causey. I grew up about three miles east across the state line at Three-Way, TX.


jmhouse said...

Rick, the school must've really been a lot of fun to explore before the roof caved-in! I wish I would've seen it like that.

Where was the firehouse? I have a vague recollection of seeing it but can't be sure. I take it that it wasn't an *abandoned* firehouse with a pool table! Although, of course, I'd be very interested in that, too.

I'd love to talk to some old-timers about Causey, but on this visit there wasn't a soul walking around. Maybe next time!

Thanks very much for sharing your recollections! JM

jmhouse said...

Anonymous, did your grandfather operate a dairy to the north of Causey? The picture at the top of this post is of an old dairy barn 5 miles north of the town. Someone told me that their grandfather, Frank Greathouse, and great-grandfather, Braxton Brag Greathouse, built the homestead there, which has since been moved. The farm was active into the 1960's. I wonder if your grandfather was a neighbor!

Anyway, I just had to throw that out there. Thanks for your recollections. I'll have to cross over to Texas and have a look at Three Way next time I'm near. JM

Anonymous said...

Anxious to hear about your Pep article. Remember the dances at the Parrish Hall in the 70's and those good Thanksgiving dinners with that homemade german sausage.

jmhouse said...

Anonymous, where was the Parrish Hall? Do you know if it might still be standing? I'd sure like to get a photo of it if it's there.

Pep coming up in a few days!

Thanks for sharing your memories! JM

Linda said...

My parents established a farm in Lingo, NM, 6 or 7 miles SE of Causey, in the early 40's. My brother and I attended Causey school from 1951 to 1961. Mother, Fay Jeffries taught high school courses at first in Causey then taught 3rd and 4th grades. During that span of years, basketball games for the Causey Tomcats were played in the very old gym along with Fall Carnivals, and other community activities in the building pictured in your blog. The campus extended South of that main building pictured in your blog with other buildings, probably old barracks. One barracks building functioned as the cafeteria and also had classrooms used for Home Economics and other high school classes. Another building functioned as the Agriculture building and another was an auditorium with a stage where school programs, plays, and graduations took place. The main building shown in your blog housed all administrative offices, the old gym and the elementary/high school classrooms surrounded three sides of the building. There was a wonderful playground between the main building and Cafeteria that had the most wonderful old school equipment; Swings, See-saws, and a Merry-go-Round! Housing for teachers, known as teacherages, was East of the main building, and in the area between, the new gym was probably built sometime in the 60's. These are some of the names I can recall who were connected with the school during that time: Bill Smith, George Hughes, the Conway's, Mae Williams, Maureen Farris, Nina Yarbrough, the Grimshaw's, the Widener's, the Bilberry's, the Fuller's and many other wonderful people. There were two churches, a cafe, a grocery store, a service station , many residential homes and yes the post office! We loved this small town of Causey and have hundreds of wonderful memories of it. Thank you for sharing some very interesting history.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard of the ghost town Inez? You might check it out while on your travels- it has a very interesting 100 year old church and a few houses left, but no residents to my knowledge.

jmhouse said...

Thank you for sharing your memories, Linda! It's wonderful to hear from someone that grew up in Causey. I am struck by how many of the buildings around the school which you described are totally gone--cafeteria, teacherages, Home Economics classroom/barracks, etc. There isn't a sign of those anymore, nor the playground. It really must've been quite a place to go to school in Causey's heyday. The school and grounds were even larger than I thought! I would never have suspected that.

Thanks again for your recollections. They are much appreciated! I'm also pleased to have the list of names of people associated with the school attached to this post. JM

jmhouse said...

I have not heard of Inez, NM, Anonymous. A quick check of indicates that there might be nothing left of the original town, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have a look:

I would at least like to see the church. I'll try to make a visit next time I'm out that way.

Thanks for the tip! JM

Carolyn said...

Linda, this is Carolyn "Woolam" Redpath! I am the oldest daughter of Otis Woolam and Fannie Corder and oldest granddaughter of Marvin and Hazel Woolam!!! I knew immediately who you were when you mentioned your mother! It was so great to read your response to this blog as both sides of my family attended Causey and Lingo schools! The Woolam's, Corder's, Bilberry's and Boteler's were all from that area!!

hwf said...

I grew up in Causey and went to school from the first grade through 12th. My Mom drove a bus and taught in the elementary. My Dad also drove a bus as long until his health got too bad. I remember Ms Mae Williams who was my first and second grade teacher. She taught generations there and when the state retired she went across the line to Three Way and taught. I am sure several hundred boys including me remember her BOLO paddle. I played in the old gym before there was the new gym. When I was growing up there were three Church buildings two grocerys a hardware and a blacksmith shop. Causey was a great place to grow up in and the folks had a lot of influence in my life.

jmhouse said...

hwf, many thanks for posting your memories! I'm really happy to be getting all this information on Causey documented here at City of Dust. Clearly, folks that grew up in Causey feel a lot of fondness for the town.

I do have to ask though: What was the BOLO paddle? I've got a good guess as to how it was used, but I'm curious as to whether BOLO was perhaps an acronym.

Also, I should mention that if people want to get in touch with others, such as Carolyn and Linda above, you can always leave your e-mail in a comment, but I would recommend coding it as: myemail(at)somewhere(dot)com to prevent spam. You can also send me a message directly at the address shown in my Blogger profile and I'll try to make connections. However, I often don't have contact info for people that have left comments.

Keep the Causey memories coming! JM

thesharp1 said...

I grew in Causey. My parents grand parents and great grandparents farmed there. One set of my great grandparents ran the general store/ gas station way back in the day. I have many fond memories of the community pot lucks, the school, the cafe, the store /post office the feed and seed and the little baptist church there. I was back that way about a month ago. I love taking g that drive out to Pep, Garrison, Causey , Inez, and Rogers . I attended the Inez church when I dated one of the Great house boys. Does anyone know the story behind the grave marker in the Inez cemetary marked "Mexican Baby" 1934? Found it last spring, but could not find it this last trip, as I'm sure it's covered with dirt and growth. Causey was a great little community to grow up in and its sad to watch its decline.

jmhouse said...

Thanks, thesharp1! From your description, it sounds like a lot of Causey is gone. I don't recall seeing any buildings that resembled general stores or cafes. Perhaps I just missed them?

I have not been to Inez so I can't even begin to say anything about the grave you mention. Maybe someone will read this and have some information to contribute. A commenter above suggested I visit Inez, so it's now on my list. I'll be sure to look for the grave.

Driving around the region is really fascinating. My piece on Pep is coming right up! With luck, it'll be posted tomorrow.

Thanks again! JM

bob Farris said...

I was born in Morton, TX in 1951 and moved to southeast of Causey three days later. A Texan by birth and New Mexican by choice (my parents). We at the time lived on "Nigger Hill." We were movers and moved anywhere dad could find work.

Mom and dad ran the store and post office in Lingo circa 1954. Later Mom cooked at the Causey school where my aunt Mrs. Farris taught 3rd and 4th grades.

I remember with fondness, the Church of Christ, general store (NW corner of 114 and 321), feed store (NE corner I think). The cafe was on the SW corner with the school being SE. The fire house is N of the crossroads and as I remember had a croquet court either on the property or next to it.

We lived in a small house in Causey for a while before moving to a house that had been moved to my uncles farm SE of town where we lived until dad's health forced a move to Denver, CO around 1962. I hated to move and have always missed Causey and area.

I plan on taking my wife on a day trip to the area as she has never been to "my home town."

bob Farris said...

By the way, I remember Mrs. Williams paddle as being purple.

jmhouse said...

bob Farris, thanks so much for sharing your recollections. It's always a pleasure to hear from someone that lived in Causey and has fond memories of it, as every resident seems to, actually.

This would be a good time to say a few words about "Nigger Hill." In July 1877, a group of buffalo hunters, who jokingly referred to themselves as the Forlorn Hope, were following a band of Comanches who had earlier killed one of their number. They joined a company of African-American soldiers who were tracking the same Comanches. However, after two days without water, the hunters and soldiers arrived at the hill in question and quit their search for the Comanches in favor of finding something to drink. This hill was afterward known as the place where the African-American soldiers (and Forlorn Hope) "yielded to incredible suffering and gave up the trail." Hence the name in the vernacular of the time. Incidentally, it took another 38 hours to find water, the entire party having been forced to go 86 hours without refreshment.


Joe Beakley said...

I was born about 4 miles east of Lingo and still live there after an absence of about 40 years. My grandparents were Tiny and Ada Leavitt. My mother and dad were deaf mutes. I had two brothers Benny and Buddy Beakley.
Lingo still exists but only two families live there now in 2015.

I graduated Causey High School in 1953. There were 9 in my class. I started school at Lingo and we were consolidated with Causey in about 1947, Played basketball in the old gym and we were county champions in 1952. Those were some great years.
Thanks for posting this site. I accidently discovered it on Memories Causey Facebook page.

jmhouse said...

Joe Beakley, many thanks for your comment. That is some very intriguing family history. It sounds like you would've had a really interesting childhood.

If you're 4 miles east of Lingo you must have one foot in New Mexico and one in Texas!

Again, thanks! I always love to hear from people that have a lifetime of knowledge about the places I write about. JM

bob Farris said...

Grandad Leavitt (actually my great uncle) when asked what time it was would always respond "New Mexico time or real time?" Tiny and Ada's place was about a mile closer to TX than Grandad Leavitt's farm (I think).

Adrian Lopez said...

I am 15 now almost 16 but i do remember causey.. i lived across the street from the school but i atteneded 1st in Dora boy i get nostalgic about causey i miss it

jmhouse said...

Thank you for your comment, Adrian Lopez! It's always great to hear from someone that lived in Causey. I think I know right where your old house is if you were across from the school. We parked right alongside on our visit.

There really is a special, peaceful feeling in Causey, and I can see why you miss it!

Thanks again! JM

Keiko Alvarez said...

The types of pictures you have here are the ones that haunt me. How could someone simply walk away from a home and leave, for example, their TVs behind?

Our GPS somehow got messed up, perhaps from the storms that we encountered, and we actually passed by Causey. There is a LOT of nothingness in this particular area.

Great blog entry!

jmhouse said...

I'm glad you liked this post on Causey, Keiko Alvarez! Causey is on the Llano Estacado, which I'm kind of fascinated by. Although, admittedly, the landscape was so wide-open that early explorers became easily lost in the absence of visible landmarks. I wrote a little more about the Llano Estacado in this piece on Causey's neighbor, Pep, NM.

I find the eastern plains of New Mexico quite evocative and certainly tinged with a bit of melancholy, I must confess.

Thanks for your comment! JM

J.L. Gentry/jengentrysbooks said...

Having grown up in Portales, New Mexico the seat of Roosevelt County I am very familiar with the story of Causey and the surrounding area. I could still drive right to most of the buildings pictured here. The sad thing is that the entire county is still struggling now under the weight of severely depleted groundwater. The rumors abound about how much longer before it will be completely drained. The county is a rural farming and ranching community and the locals are wondering if they can sustain the area as farmers and ranchers are digging deeper and deep wells hoping to hit water. Most of my family has moved from the area as jobs are getting scarce and it is getting increasing difficult to live there while the future of the county hangs in the balance of will we have water or not.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your comment, J.L. Gentry/jengentrysbooks. I wasn't aware of quite how dire the water situation is in Roosevelt County. Certainly, water scarcity is a growing problem throughout New Mexico, with Magdalena's wells going dry for a time in 2013. Magdalena has received some groundwater recharge and also cut water use by 50%, but the town has been referred to as the canary in the coalmine as far as future problems in the state. Where water isn't already a serious issue in the Southwest, it probably will be soon, and solutions seem difficult at best, as your comment points out. JM

Mary said...

Going back in time. I am the youngest daughter of Cicero and Sarah Bilberry. My dad owned school buses at Lingo and my mother, Sarah Creighton Bilberry taught two years in Lingo 1936-1938--before my parents were married. They moved from the small farm/ranch place south of Lingo in 1947. They found "temporary" housing in the upstairs of the bus shop on one acre they purchased from Mr. Hudson. The "temporary" house provided shelter until 1956 when they had a house build just north of the "shop". I remember going to a "chicken fry" at the Jefferies home in the early 1950's. Fay taught me typing and I always considered her a great teacher and a wonderful friend. I remember the Woolam's and my grandmother Bilberry's maiden name was Corder--but I do not remember if they were related. I remember a great uncle who lived southwest of Lingo and I think his wife's name was Olive--his might have been Finis. He died in the 1950's of liver cancer and I can remember the extended family being at his home for what seemed like "days" before his death. His services were at the Baptist church in Lingo. I attended Vacation Bible School at Lingo for several years after we moved to Causey. My mother started teaching at Causey in 1956 and once Causey was consolidated she taught at Dora until 1979. My dad died suddenly in January of 1963 and mother assumed the contract on the buses and sold the buses in 1979 when she retired and moved to Portales.

jmhouse said...

Mary, thank you for sharing your family history. That's a lovely addition to this post. I feel like an oral history of the area is developing here. Perhaps some other people from the vicinity will read your comment, recognize some names, and also chime in.

Unfortunately, I have not visited Lingo. But I should! I didn't go farther south on Highway 114 than Causey on my most recent visit. Had I gone a few more miles, I would've been in Lingo, obviously. Hopefully I'll get there soon! I'm very interested...

Thanks again! JM

Anonymous said...

The school is so large because every town on the eastern plains had a school. When this school was built, Roosevelt county had consolidated most of the small town schools to save money. Small town children had to go to causey or school from Pep, Ragland and Kenna to name a few. Not to mention anyone that lived outside of town on a homestead. ThEse two factors can bring the miners up high.

Anonymous said...



jmhouse said...

What a fantastic connection to make going back over 75 years, Anonymous. Thanks for your comment! Your mention of Lingo is timely as I'm hoping to visit there in December, when I return to Pep. Of course, if I get a chance to photograph the place, a post will be forthcoming and any history you might provide much welcomed.

Thanks again! JM

Anonymous said...

My husband's family are Inez people. All that is left is the church and graveyard. The church was last a methodist church for many years. We still do a community Christmas service every year at the church. The graveyard is also where the family still gets buried to this day. We are the Tollett family.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your message, Tollett family! I'd like to get some photos of that old church sometime, and maybe the graveyard, too. I'll add Inez to the list for next time I'm out that way. It shouldn't be too long!

Best, JM

casey squyres said...

I am 42, and I have LOVED reading about Causey and have loved each response. I am going tontry and get my mom Joy Casey Nelson to post here. She was born and raised there and attended Causey schools until she graduated in 1968... Validitorian I believe of a class of 6! She had three sisters and her daddy O.T. had a cotton farm there. My siblings and I have grown up hearing story after charming delightful story of the school, ,classmates, clubs, home economics department, bus drivers, and so much more. She paints a beautiful picture of that era of Causey's caring adults who treated all of the children as their own and helped each other when they were down, -as well as celebrated each others victories! The yearbooks from those years that she has are FANTASTIC! Nothing was done half-way. Thanks for writing about Causey.

bob Farris said...

Casey Squires, Please tell your mom, Joy, that Robert Farris says hi.
Joy was one class ahead of me. We moved to Denver, CO when I was in fourth grade.

jmhouse said...

casey squyres, it's always a treat to hear from someone with a connection to Causey! Those are wonderful recollections and I'm very pleased to have them included with the other fond memories people have shared. Thank you for passing your family's history along!

Of course, it would be fantastic to hear from your mother, as well. First-person accounts of Causey's heyday are not very numerous, to say the least. And perhaps she would also like to say hello to bob Farris! JM

p Strother said...

I started first grade in Causey New Mexico in 1962. My oldest brother "Jet" as they called him, graduated high school from Causey. My brother's played basketball in the new gym which was completed when we lived there.

We lived about a mile southwest of Lingo New Mexico, down the road from the Griffin or Griffiths. We moved away in about 1964.

This past Summer my brother, sister-in-law, husband, and myself made a day trip to Causey. The School looks the same as the picture posted here.

Thank you so much for posting this story.

jmhouse said...

p Strother, I'm always thrilled to have people's memories of Causey recorded here at City of Dust. So thank you very much!

You may have already seen it, but one of the most recent City of Dust posts features LINGO. Sadly, the old post office burned down not long ago.

Thanks again! JM

p Strother said...

I started first grade in Causey, sept 1962 My oldest brother Lynn (Jet) graduated from Causey, 1963. The new gym was built if
I am not mistake that year. My brothers Loyd and Jerry played Basketball in the new gym. It is sad to see it as it is now.

Bud Smith said...

Lots of great memories of Causey. My grandfather farmed south at Lingo and my mother drove the bus and cooked in the “lunchroom” from ‘51-‘56 when we moved all the way to Griffith so I had to attend school in Moerton but most of my friends went to Causey. I have always loved that place.

Donna "Merrick" (maiden name) said...

My family moved to Causey in 1947 when I was almost two years old. I had two older brothers, Jack and Joe. We all graduated from Causey. We were "town kids" and lived about 1/4 mi. north of the school. We walked to school, which I thought was torturous. We were neighbors to the Bilberrys, and I spent many hours at their house. Mrs. Bilberry was my high school business teacher, and a good one. I also had Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Farris as teachers. Mrs. Bilberry actually taught in elementary at that time, and I had Mrs. Jeffries, also. At the time I was growing up, there were actually 4 places that had gas pumps, one being a tiny station between us and the Bilberrys, where I ruined my teeth because the man who owned it gave me way too much free bubble gum. As said, there was a hardware store, a grocery store, feed store, blacksmith shop, croquet court, and for a while, a hamburger stand beside it, a laundromat with wringer washers, and 3 churches (one of which was north of our house). I remember playing croquet on summer nights after the town got electricity. I rode my bicycle freely all over town and several miles out of town to visit friends.

Donna "Merrick" (maiden name) said...

(to continue) Odd story-I was sort of responsible for the fire department. When I was about five, I was playing with matches hiding from my mom behind some organza curtains, which went up in flames quickly. My mom grabbed me and ran. Someone saw the smoke, and the men playing dominoes jumped in the back of a pickup truck, came and put out the fire. Thank the Lord for them. Afterward, they painted "Causey Fire Department" on the side of that truck. Then, through the years, thanks to revenue sharing in the state of NM, Causey was able to maintain a fire station with trucks and ambulances that would rival most much larger towns. My dad, Howell, was the mayor for many years, but so were many other fine men. My mom, Flo, had Flo's Cafe for many years that was due west of the school. Kids would be allowed once a week to go buy candy at recess there. Many truckers made it a point to eat there. She was a great cook, and her steaks and hamburgers were second to none. Many of the townspeople, mainly women, worked there through the years. She sponsored a women's volleyball team that would travel around the county competing. She had a lot of fun with it, and the women were great players and could spike the ball fiercely! Mary Lee Terral, Jimmy Nunnally, Geneva Judah were some of the women. There are many other really good ones that I can't remember. Jo Ann Blakey was another.

Donna "Merrick" (maiden name) said...

(to continue) It is depressing to me to go back now as my homeplace and the school are so rundown. I can recall the smell of the polished wood floors at the school readily. My folks kept a large orchard on the north side of our home, and our yard was a place of beauty. Most of us kids were members of the 4-H club or FFA and showed animals, did craft projects and went to state competitions. Mrs. Bilberry took us to state competitions in business. The whole town acted as our parents, and loved and disciplined (gently) us. It was a peaceful, quiet, safe place to grow up. Oh, that children could have such a place now! I loved it then, dearly, and I love the memories now. I graduated in 1963, and there were 9 in my class, so some of the later classes actually had more kids than we did. I didn't know it then, but our superintendent, Bill Smith, had actually served as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. What an honor! Our school couldn't offer as much as larger schools as far as science, etc., but when I went to college, I never found my education lacking. By the way, the cafeteria ladies sure could cook! Thank you for focusing on Causey and giving us a chance to add memories.