Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Last Hanging Crime: Duran, New Mexico

Someday I’ll tell you a tale of a town that didn’t owe its very existence to the railroad, whose citizen’s livelihoods weren’t later subject to the capricious placement of state and federal highways, and which didn’t finally find itself cut-off from the travelers that were its lifeblood. But it ain’t gonna be the story of Duran.

In February 1902, the El Paso & Northeastern Railroad finished the “Arrow Route,” a stretch of track between El Paso and Santa Rosa, where a connection to Leadbelly’s Rock Island Line awaited. Blas and Espiridón Durán, two brothers, owned wells in central New Mexico which could provide water to railroad work crews. So, the railroad built repair shops and even a wooden roundhouse in what became Duran. The railroad also turned the town into an important supply point for area ranches virtually overnight. Duran’s population probably peaked shortly afterward at 300 or so.

But the railroad eventually moved its operations south to Carrizozo and the roundhouse came down in 1921. Yet Duran remained important to ranchers and, when two-lane U.S. Highway 54 came right through the heart of town in the 1930’s, the increased flow of north-south traffic gave Duran another boost. This lasted until the 1960’s, when I-25 was constructed about 60 miles west, strangling U.S. 54 of travelers.

Duran is not a true ghost town. It still has residents--probably around 35, in fact--but two of its most interesting buildings are long-abandoned. One, shown below, is a two-story building made of buff-colored sandstone marbled with white. This was a general store and hotel. Badly faded lettering above the doors reads: “dry goods furniture hardware grocery & feed’s”. It’s still a beautiful building whose quaint façade belies a sinister and surprising history.

The building was owned by Anton J. Coury, a man of Lebanese descent, who lived with his wife, Raffa, and children, Fred, Anna, and Emma, in the upstairs hotel. On September 3, 1921, the store was robbed by five men and Mr. Coury was shot and killed while resisting. Raffa was also shot and severely wounded, reportedly surviving only because a potentially lethal bullet struck the metal clasps of her corset and was deflected. Young Freddy then bravely intervened, driving away the thieves by relentlessly pelting them with canned goods when their gun jammed. I don’t know if the store ever opened for business again.

A search for the killers began immediately and Francisco Vaisa, Isodoro Miranda, and Carlos Rentenería were quickly caught. Luis Medrano was apprehended some months later. The fifth man, Eziquel Machucha, was never found and it’s believed he escaped back into Mexico.

The prisoners were sentenced to be hung on July 28. 1922, but Vaisa appealed his conviction and bought himself some time. On the appointed day, in Estancia, about 40 miles northwest, with Mrs. Coury and her children observing, the other three men were brought to the scaffold as the sun rose in the east. Asked for final statements, Rentenería said a few unrecorded words and Medrano said nothing. But Miranda said, “In New Mexico, there is no justice for the poor man. He is led like a helpless lamb through the courts and to his punishment. This is an injustice you are now doing.” Then Sheriff John Block led the men behind a canvas drape, the low sun casting stark silhouettes against the fabric. The day broke in earnest as the men dropped to their deaths.

It didn’t take long for Vaisa’s conviction to be upheld and, on April 6, 1923, he, too, was brought to the gallows in Estancia. With few observers and after offering that he had no final statement to make, John Block adjusted Vaisa’s noose, the trap door opened, and Vaisa fell as the sun again crested the horizon. He was the 75th and last person to be legally hanged in New Mexico.

Here at City of Dust we like to get our facts straight, which is difficult with the internet around. The more commonly cited story of the above attack includes four robbers striking in the dead of night, with three men being hung and the fourth getting the electric chair. Also, the robbery occurred in 1914. Is the devil in the details? Well, the story I recounted is clearly better and, while I wasn’t there, that version is from “Myth of the Hanging Tree: Stories of Crime and Punishment in Territorial New Mexico,” by former New Mexico State Historian Robert J. Torrez. Mr. Torrez cited contemporaneous editions of the Estancia News-Herald and seems pretty reliable to me.

In any case, William Hindi was also from Lebanon and operated a store in Duran, the eye-catching building above and at top, which opened in 1908. It is also constructed of cut stone and its signage still clearly welcomes tourists, but much in the world has moved on while the little store has stood still. At least the graffiti inside, some of which reads, “go hug someone,” “god rox,” and “satan is gay,” would lead one to envision a history far more whimsical than that of the general store. William's brother, Kasim, also operated a store, but his was across the highway from the Coury Merc. Co.

Other buildings around Duran are still in use, including the San Juan Bautista Catholic Church, built in 1910, the red brick school, which closed in 1955 but has been re-purposed as a community center, and the fire station and post office. Thus, unlike some other towns where the trains now whistle right by and motorists are few and far between, Duran persists. It also most certainly sees fewer hanging crimes.

The jumbled tale of the robbery of the Coury family may have originated with a resident of Duran and is retold at To read the more academic version, see Torrez. There is also an odd tale of a boy from the East Coast hitchhiking back to Duran in the 1960’s and starting a life. And that’s everything I could find about Duran. Oh, and the shot of the coffin is from Apacheland Movie Ranch in AZ, not Duran.

APRIL 2014 UPDATE: I received a very interesting message regarding the Hindi's from Tere O., who has kindly agreed to allow me to post it here. Some of you with roots in Duran might find this of particular interest. Thanks, Tere!:

"Wow, I wish you could have visited with Brahaim Hindi (card above). He lived in Duran and would have been a lot of help with information. Somehow I want to say he has a brother named William but I’m not sure. I’m trying to recover information about Duran for my family that is growing up and they are interested in our history.

"We went to see Brahaim Hindi about a year ago. My mom knows him very well. My Aunt Sara worked for the Hindi’s for years in Duran. She helped raise the children, too. My mom, Agneda, is living with me now but she has dementia and cannot remember much. However, she knew that Brahaim lost his wife and son on the same week and wanted to pay her respects to him so I took her to his house to see him.

"Now he has become quite ill and is living here in Albuquerque with his daughter, or so I hear. I live on the same street as Apolonio S. and his wife, Sandra. He was the postmaster in Duran. I am the granddaughter of Simplicia and Lazaro Montoya. I just posted the coat of arms of the Montoyas on my Facebook page yesterday.

"Hope this info helps you on the journey you have to keep all of us informed."

APRIL 2014 UPDATE: After the update a few days ago from Tere O. we get another, this time from S. Hindi, who clears up the picture of Duran, the Hindi family, and who owned (or owns) what store entirely. We also get a great photo of the Coury Merc Co. Incredibly, that is Anton Coury standing at the side. Here is the story:

"The picture (above) is of the Coury Mercantile/boarding house with Anton Coury out front. My husband, Joseph Hindi, bought this building from Raffa Coury, widow of Anton who was shot inside. I have a lot of info on the shooting.

"Also, the William Hindi building across the street was owned by my husband's uncle, Brahaim. William is Brahaim’s uncle. William and Alex Hindi came from Lebanon. The town, Duran, is named after my husband’s grandmother's family. Alex married Clarita Duran and had Brahaim, Sam, Nabay, Shafie, Ednen, Samia, and Hafiza. Shafie is my husband's father.

"Alex became a rancher/Arabian horse breeder and William had the store. Kasim also had a store and is related. There are lots of Hindi’s from Duran. All related. You need to talk to my husband because I may have some of the connections wrong. I’m trying to write a screenplay on the shooting in Duran."

That's an impressive summary. Many thanks for straightening all that out, S. Hindi! Your contribution is very much appreciated. And I really look forward to hearing more about that screenplay. JM

MAY 2014 UPDATE: W.B. Hindi recently sent me a message adding even further detail to this story, particularly William Hindi's background before he opened his store in Duran. Mr. Hindi kindly agreed to have his recollections posted here for all to read:

"I came across your blog on the internet concerning my grandfather’s store in Duran, N.M. My name is W.B. Hindi. My grandfather’s name was Milhelm Hindi, which he changed to William sometime after he arrived here from Lebanon at the turn of the 20th century. When he first got here he actually sold goods out of a buckboard. He sold them in Northern N.M. and into Southern Colo. He bought them from the grandfather of the Maloofs who at one time owned Coors distributing in Albuquerque N.M. I have a picture of him on horseback in front of the Maloof store in Las Vegas N.M.

"His brother, who people are calling Alex, was actually named Ali. William brought Alex over to become his partner in the sheep and cattle business. Since they settled in Duran, which bordered Lincoln County, shortly after the cattle wars of Billy the Kid fame, this may have been the reason he elected to raise both sheep & cattle. He also started breeding Arabians for ranch work and would often take a few along into northern N.M. to sell. There are books that I believe Brahaim has that trace many Arabians in this country back to their heritage from The Hindi Ranch.

"I am still picking my uncle's brains to get more of our history while I can. I am going to forward your blog to my Uncle Azeez and he may possibly be able to fill in some more gaps."

Those are some great pieces to have added to the picture and we're beginning to learn a lot about the origins of the store at the top of this post. Many thanks to W.B Hindi for being so helpful and generous.

By the way, the Corona-Trading Co. and Du Bois Drug Store, shown at the top of this update, aren't in Duran, but Corona, which you'll find a few miles to the southwest on Highway 54. Established in 1902, six years before the Wm Hindi Store, I imagine the Hindi family would've known the Corona-Trading Co. well (and perhaps still do!).

JULY 2014 UPDATE: I'm sorry to report that the Corona-Trading Co., pictured just above and now shown just below, in operation since 1902, has recently closed. Hopefully, I'll be able to do a full post on Corona, NM someday, but, for now, here's to hoping someone buys the old trading company and starts watering those flowers again soon.

JUNE 2015 UPDATE: I received a great historic photo from W.B. Hindi which, while not specifically of Duran, is certainly Duran-related. I'll let Mr. Hindi explain further (see MAY 2014 UPDATE for more from Mr. Hindi, including a reference to the shot below):

"This is a picture of my grandfather, William (Milhelm) Hindi, loading supplies in 1910 in Las Vegas, NM. He is the gentleman on horseback. I think this is a great photo as it mixes the old (wagon and horses) with the new (motorcycle). I just wish I knew more about it. What is really neat is that Maloof's store was owned by the grandfather of the Maloof's from Albuquerque, whose dad built a small liquor store up into the largest Coors distributorship in the Southwest."

Thanks for the rare and wonderful photograph, Mr. Hindi!

JULY 2015 UPDATE: Below is another wonderful vintage photograph, this one from N.E. Welch. According to the labels on the picture, it depicts the wedding of Mrs. Dan Kelly (far right; née Nova Simpson), occurring in December 1910. Other women in the photo are Mrs. A.E. Simpson (center, in black), Miss Alia Blair (second from right), and Miss Myrtle Estus (far left). The drug store/post office and Duran Eating House, which the Simpson family operated, were on the north side of the railroad tracks, just west of the Coury Merc Co. One of the Simpson children, William, or "Bill," was sheriff of Luna County when Pancho Villa made his raid on Columbus, NM. Note the snow on the ground. The original photo was donated to the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe by Mr. Welch's older brother.

NOVEMBER 2015 UPDATE: Ian Wheeler of Australia has graciously submitted a couple photos from his trip through Duran in the mid-1990's. The first shot is of the mysterious Kasim's Cash Store in all its still-signed glory, complete with vintage gas pump. William, who owned the general merchandise store at the top of this post, was the brother of Kasim's mother and thus Kasim's uncle. Kasim's Cash Store still stands, but has been painted over and is therefore harder to identify, not to mention less interesting. Now we've got photographic evidence of both stores as they were and the full story of just who owned which. The second photo is obviously of the Coury Mercantile Company, but with its doors and windows in rather more authentic condition.

Many thanks to Mr. Wheeler for digging these out and passing them along!

JANUARY 2016 UPDATE: What we have below is a Tokheim 39 gas pump that was made in November 1946 and was once somewhere in Duran. It was purchased in Alamogordo, NM in 2015 and is now in Germany, believe it or not. As you can see, it still has the original Conoco design. If anyone remembers where this pump used to be located (or perhaps even has a photo of it!), please leave a comment below. Both its current owner and myself would love to know! It's a nice one, eh?

Thanks to Bernd for submitting this little bit of Duran highway history.


Phil_O said...

For what it's worth, Coury/Koury/Khoury/Khouri is a very common surname among Lebanese Christians and shows up a lot in the substantial turn-of-the-century Lebanese immigrant population in the Southwest. So that's not a contradiction between the two versions of the story.

I'm not aware of Hindi being a Lebanese surname, but I suppose it could be.

jmhouse said...

It did occur to me that Coury might also be a Lebanese surname, but I thought it likely that the storyteller also had the owners of the general store and the Wm. Hindi Store mixed up.

From a piece on the Stay Thirsty website:

"Thirty minutes later they drop me off at the general store owned by Kasim Hindi, a small, dark Lebanese man with skin the color of sand."

Anyway, there's no reason that both stores couldn't have been owned by Lebanese men. Perhaps someone will be able to confirm or deny that here eventually.

Thanks for the comment! JM

Robert Wolf said...

In your story you write, "The man of Lebanese descent in the apocryphal story of the robbery may well be Kasim Hindi, perhaps better known as William . . ." Kasim was never known as William.

Kasim was in his late 50s or early 60s when I met him in 1963. He could not be confused with a William Hindi, whoever that might be. The Hindis all had Lebanese first names.

Why doubt that other Lebanese besides the Hindis settled in Duran? Immigrant ethnic peoples naturally like to settle near some of their own.

jmhouse said...

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your comment. I don't doubt that other Lebanese immigrants settled in Duran, I'm only trying to untangle the many inaccuracies in the more widespread version of the robbery story.

In your Stay Thirsty piece, you mentioned that Kasim Hindi owned a general store. Would it have been the store in the first photo in this post? That storefront features the abbreviation "Wm.", which I took to be "William." I have seen the store referred to as the "William Hindi Store" previously and once as the "William Hindi and Brother" store.

Or perhaps Kasim owned the general store where A.J. Coury was killed, shown in the second photo?? JM

Robert Wolf said...

Kasim owned the store in the first picture. Coury would have owned the one in the second photo.

"Wm. Hindi" has me scratching my head. Whoever he was, he was not Kasim, but perhaps an older relative. A story on the Hindi ranch ran in a southwestern magazine; a horse magazine, I believe. My recollection of the article is that the Hindis arrived in New Mexico prior to the First World War.

Kasim had a hatred for T.E. Lawrence and the British, which is understandable in light of what happened in the war. Previous to reading the article, I had thought that the Hindis had left Lebanon as a result of the war, but not so.

Wm. Hindi may have been given the first name of "William" but immigration. That's the most likely idea I can come up with.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for the info, Robert. I think you're right that it's likely "William" was a name picked up somewhere in the immigration process.

I'm intrigued by the story in the horse magazine. I have a friend who's a pretty good sleuth when it comes to this kind of thing, so I might have him see if he can track it down. I'll update this post with any relevant info, assuming the article can be found. Thanks for the tip. JM

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just go ask the existing Hindi men that still live in duran? There are 3 of them.

jmhouse said...

Send 'em this way! There wasn't a soul stirring last time I was through. JM

jmhouse said...

I have located the article on the Hindi Ranch in Western Horseman that Mr. Wolf references above. It is an excellent piece and fills in still more background. A William Hindi and Brother general store even gets a mention. The article can be found HERE. JM

hleumas1 said...

Kasim Hindi owned the store that is directly across Hwy 54 from the two-story rock store/hotel building once owned by Mr. Coury. The other store with the broken windows was owned by William Hindi, the brother of Kasim's mother (therefore, Kasim's uncle).

Hindi is a Lebanese surname. The family originated in the Bekaah valley of Lebanon where some of the Hindi relatives still live.

jmhouse said...

Thanks very much for your comment, hleumas1! That clears up one last bit of confusion I still had: Just how many stores were there? I didn't realize that, in addition to William's store, Kasim had a store directly across Hwy 54. I can't picture Kasim's place, so next time I'm through I'll have to be sure to take a look.

Thanks again! JM

SH said...

Kasim's Cash Store used to have a white exterior. It is currently panted a light tan color and the name has been painted over. Next door (south west from the store) is the little post office building, closed but still standing.
Across the side street from the store is a blue building that used to be the bar. It was last run by a gentleman that still lives within eyesight of the building.
Lots of history here in our little town!

jmhouse said...

SH, thanks very much for your comment. I didn't know anything about those buildings and now, of course, I want to see them for myself and get a few photos. Too bad the name on Kasim's Cash Store has been painted over though!

Duran really does have a lot of history and you've certainly given me a couple reasons to return soon.

Thanks again! JM

Troy Duran said...

I am really glad I stumbled across your blog! I'll add this: My great-grandfather Dionicio Duran, I believe, founded the town. His name is my middle name, and also my youngest son's. He was a sheep rancher, and our family is related to the Hindi's and Maloof's as well. My grandfather, Eloy I think was born in Vaughn, as was my dad, Tom. They moved to Albuquerque, where my brother and I were born. All of the info I have relates to stories about my great-grandfather's exploits, and not much to do with the actual town. Reading through these stories though, has fascinated me, and I definitely want to learn more. Thanks VERY much for this!

Troy Duran

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your comment and kind words, Troy! They're much appreciated. It's always great to hear from someone with connections to these towns. Is there any chance Dionicio was also known as Blas or Espiridón? Or perhaps he was their brother?

Robert Julyan's "The Place Names of NM" says this: "Duran was named for two brothers, Blas and Espiridón Durán. They owned the Moreno Wells from whence the EP&SW RR obtained water for work crews."

I'd love to know if Dionicio went by another name or if he was a third brother that has been left out of the story. Or maybe he was the father of Blas and Espiridón? Very interesting. Of course, you should feel free to relate any of Dionicio's exploits, too!

You may have already seen it, but I did a post on Vaughn last year, too:

Thanks again for stopping by! JM

Unknown said...

Alex Hindi (Ali) is my great grand daddy. He married Clarita Duran and they had 5 boys and 2 girls .his daughter Hafiza Hindi Gallegos is my grandmother. Kasem is his father

jmhouse said...

Thanks for the comment, danette medina. The Hindi family history in the Duran area seems to be quite far-reaching indeed!

Thanks again, JM

Anonymous said...

My parents and I visited Duran in May 2013, and we were lucky enough to meet Mr. Brahaim Hindi, and spent several hours with him. He took us through the town and pointed out the old buildings (those still there and those no longer there), and even drew us a map of "old" Duran, as we were there to find out about the Duran of 1909. We met one of his nieces, very kind lady, and Mr. Hindi told us of his wife and son who had recently passed away (all our sincerest condolences). What a kind, wonderful man to show us around the town, and his wonderful ranch and home. We also raise Arabian horses, and very much appreciated seeing the photos of his foundation horses (foundation of his herd) and show photos. What an incredible life he has had. We have tried to send thank you messages to him but I don't think they made it. If anyone on here has contact with Mr. Hindi, could you tell him THANK YOU from the family named "Ong" that visited with him in 2013, and that he kindly rode around with myself, and my Mom and Dad in our truck. He might remember that. THANK YOU!!

jmhouse said...

Aggie Ong, that is a wonderful story. I've never met Brahaim Hindi, despite having his business card included in this post! However, I would certainly love to have the opportunity you had. Perhaps someone that knows Mr. Hindi will read your comment and pass along your thanks. Maybe even Mr. Hindi will read this. You never know. Were you trying to contact him through the address in the business card above?

By the way, do you still have that map of "old" Duran? That sounds very interesting. Were you researching Duran for family reasons?

Thanks again! JM

Anonymous said...

jmhouse - yes, we were researching 1908 (not 1909, sorry, my mistake earlier) Duran for a chapter in a book my Mom and I are writing about my Dad's family from Texas. There was a gunfight in Duran in 1908 that involved one of my g-uncles. Mr. Hindi took us around and told us what life would have been like in Duran at that time, and where the gunfight took place. And Mr. Hindi had an AMAZING memory, even naming the railroad workers and bosses and pointing out where they had lived. He showed us where a couple of brothels had been, and talked of finding a pair of brass knuckles in the wall of one of the brothels when they tore it down. He also told us about a man with a paint horse that rode to town every week to drink, and made the horse stand out in the hot sun all day until several people couldn't take it anymore and, I guess, "taught him a lesson". After that, the man tied the horse in the shade. lol What a great story!~

jmhouse said...

Wow, those are some great stories, Aggie Ong! Thank you very much for passing them along. How did your great-uncle get in a gunfight?! I can guess at how the brass knuckles got into the brothel. You know, I think *I* need to meet Mr. Hindi! Next time I'm wandering around Duran I will definitely keep my eyes open for him.

Thanks again! JM

Anonymous said...

JM - My great-uncle, Smokey Joe Miller (no joke, that was his name), was a RR detective, and he would get on in Oklahoma and ride the train clear through into Mexico, and back. While in Duran, a bartender there was drunk (supposedly the local bully) and was threatening people. Joe was a big man, about 6'2", I believe, and pistol whipped the guy and started to drag him off to jail, but the bartender pulled a hide-away pistol and shot Joe twice, once in the shoulder and once in the hip. Joe pulled his pistol while falling and shot the bartender 4 times in the chest, killing him. Joe survived, and never forgot to check for hide-aways again! lol Joe lived to be an old man and died in CA, but not before helping his neighbors there round up some cattle that had gotten out into the foothills and heavy brush. They didn't know how to "round up" wild cattle, so Joe broke out his old Texas gear, borrowed a horse, and busted a couple of head to show the others how to do it. (He roped the steers and tied them to trees ... it calmed them down so they could be herded/driven, and then the other cattle would follow "the leaders".) I guess he told the other men then that they could do the rest, unsaddled his horse and never got on a horse again. He was in his 80's when he did that, and died a short time later. What an interesting family, and still are living these kinds of stories.

jmhouse said...

Smokey Joe sounds like quite a guy! I'm glad he made it out of Duran. I guess one should always check for the hide-away pistol as a matter of course. I hadn't heard that fantastic story before and am thrilled to have it recorded here. I'll certainly think of Smokey Joe and his shoot-out next time I'm through Duran.

Thanks for all the great history! JM

Unknown said...

Hello! Thank you for writing on this subject. I randomly became interested in the Duran/Corona region from driving from El Paso to Colorado. Not sure what it is but I find the area enchanting. It's neat to finally learn some history on the places I've seen.

jmhouse said...

Needless to say, I also find the area enchanting, Unknown! There is just something about it. Glad you found City of Dust to be of use! Thanks for stopping by. JM

Ian E Wheeler said...

As an Australian traveller in the early 1990s I was driving North from Alamogordo to Los Alamos while preferring to not use the Interstate but to see more of the area. Thus I was on Route 54 and stopped to take the occasional Print/Negative photo. Of these I have 2 of Duran which have been in my photo album marked as 'nowhere'. One of the photos is of the 'Kasim Cash Store' still painted in white with faded black lettering visible. There is a disused fuel pump outside. I have just scanned it into digital and can send you a copy if advised how.

jmhouse said...

That's very interesting, Ian E Wheeler! I'd love to get those pictures of the Kasim Cash Store and perhaps even post them here, if you didn't mind. I've never photographed the store myself, but a commentator above said that it's still standing. However, now it's apparently light tan with the signage painted over. It would be great to see shots with the lettering still visible, not too mention the disused fuel pump in the scene. I'm pretty sure that pump is now gone.

Anyway, you can send the photos directly to me at: jmhouse(at)cityofdust(dot)com. Or, I can be reached through the City of Dust Facebook page, where I attempt to post a photograph a day and usually pull it off. You can find that HERE.

Thanks! I hope we'll be in touch soon. JM

Anonymous said...

I lived in Tularosa, NM from 2012 - 2015. Shortly before I left that area I bought a gas pump from a guy in Alamogordo. He told me that this gas pump was from Duran, NM. This piece of New Mexican history lives in my man's cave in Germany now. It is a Tokheim 39 that was made in November 1946. It still has the original Conoco design.

jmhouse said...

Hey, that's very interesting, Anonymous! I wonder where in Duran the pump came from. Could've been any one of a few places, I suppose. Sounds like a beauty. I'm very impressed that it's in Germany now. You never know where things are going to end up!

Thanks for your comment! JM

Bernd said...

It would be awesome to know where exactly the gas pump came from and to have a picture of that place. I can take a picture of that 'beauty' and send it via Facebook if you want.

jmhouse said...

Bernd, I'd love to see a picture of that gas pump! I could also add it to this post and maybe someone will identify it. It most likely won't be me! But, to start, you'll find City of Dust on Facebook right HERE. You can attach the shot in a PM to me there.

Thanks very much! JM

Bethany Kiefer Sessions said...

I grew up in Corona and knew some Hindi children, one in particular was named Brahaim and taught school in Corona and Mountainair when he was grown. I assume he is the one referenced by Mr. Hindi Sr. as his son who passed away. The Brahaim I knew is deceased. I remember on Corona Festival Days or School Homecoming Days we would have a parade down Main Street and the Hindi's from Duran would dress in traditional Arabian garb and ride their horses in the parade. I was always entraced by the beauty of the outfits as well as the prancing Arabian horses! My mother lived in Corona until 2014 and was good friends with some of the family. I was a frequent vistor to the DuBois Drug Store and Corona Trading Post in my youth, both very much missed! Thank you for your thorough stories of our history in these towns. I very much look forward to your story of Corona and it's beginnings. Thanks for the very enjoyable look back on our history!

jmhouse said...

Thank you for sharing your memories, Bethany Kiefer Sessions. I had not heard about the Hindi's riding their Arabian horses in parades! That must've been quite a sight. And I think you're right that the Hindi you knew was Brahaim, Jr., who, if that is the same person, sadly died in the same week as his mother. The last I heard Brahaim Hindi, Sr. was rather ill and living in Albuquerque, but that's been over two years now.

Thanks for the kind words, too. I'm very glad you enjoy City of Dust. I'll try to get a post on Corona done somewhere down the road, but it's been hard to find the time to do these histories properly lately. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up a bit on them eventually! JM

Allison P. said...

I read the story of Duran on your blog before I drove through today on my way from Alamogordo to Albuquerque. I wanted to take a road less traveled and that led me to Duran and NM 3. I got a picture of the Duran and Hindi stores as well as the fire department(I'm a Virginia paramedics). When I got to my destination i wanted to see what else I could find out about the area and came across another vlog post. The reason I'm writing you is because that vlog has a picture of the Anton J Coury store, but it's an entirely different place.I don't doubt that the place in Duran was the Coury store, i just wonder what the other place was and where.

jmhouse said...

Thank you for your comment, Allison P. You've opened up quite a mystery here! I've never seen that shot of another Anton J. Coury store. It's a wonderful photo. Upon closer inspection, it appears to be a wooden structure, so perhaps this is an earlier building that was replaced by the stone store. In the April 2014 update from S. Hindi it is confirmed that the stone store is where Anton was shot, the Hindi family having bought the building directly from Raffa Coury, Anton's widow. Maybe with a bit of luck someone will be able to provide some information on that other store. I am most intrigued!

Thanks again! I'm very happy you passed that article along. I might have to pay a visit to the Estancia cemetery someday now, too. JM

Anonymous said...

My grandparents and my mom were born in a birthing house there in Duran, right behind my great grandmother's house. It still stands.
Growing up we would spend summer's at my Grandma Grace and Granpo Manuel (who worked on and retired from the Santa Fe Railroad).my brother and I couldn't wait to get there to run behinds Kasim's store and buy candy. My Grandma's house also still stands and is exactly rite behind the general store. I'm almost positive it was Kasim. I'll ask my mom. She still lives in Duran.

Unknown said...

Hello JM. This is Jerry from Encino. First of all I want to thank you again for your blogs about our little towns.
You do a great job.
It seems like all of our elders from the earlier time period have mostly died off taking with them the rich histories of these small.communities. unfortunately most of us never got around to giving them a chance to tell their life story. So what you are doing is more than a hobby. You are making a great effort to fill in the missing pages of our history. So thanks and keep up the good work you are doing.
Now to offer another little bit of info on the duran store. Might be true, might not. Anyway long ago I heard somewhere that the bar or counter that was in use at the time of the murder ended up with a Bullet hole in it. It is said that it ended up in Encino in the bar that was owned by a man named Bias Garcia. Again I don't know if that was true or not. Just thought I'd throw that out and see if anyone could add to the accuracy or lack of I'm this rumor. Thanks. Jerry harrison.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your comment, Anonymous. I did not know about the birthing house in Duran. Whereabouts in town would it be? Does your great-grandmother's home also remain? As for the location of your grandma's house, that may well be Kasim's old store you are thinking of if it wasn't William's. Please let us know what you learn from your mom.

Thanks again! JM

jmhouse said...

Jerry Harrison, thank you for your comments and kind words. I appreciate them very much. Of course, you're right about this small town history being largely undocumented and disappearing fast. What's been left just in the comments section of this blog could probably fill a history book. Sometimes I get afraid that blogspot might suddenly disappear and then what will happen to all these recollections? I'm not sure what to do about that possibility.

As for the bar or counter from Coury's store ending up in Blas Garcia's bar (once called The U&I Bar, I believe), I haven't heard that before. However, it is a *very* tantalizing story. There is nothing left of the Garcia's establishment (it would've been to the right of the shell of their house in THIS shot) and I couldn't being to say where that bar ended up. But I'd sure like to know now! I'll cross my fingers that somebody will eventually be able to tell us more.

Again, thanks for your comment! JM

Marty Rivera said...

Mr. Mulhouse and Mr. Harrison, Marty Rivera here, was just reading the posts about Duran and came across the comments about my grandpa Blas and his bar. I don't remember hearing exactly where the bar came from, that was one of those things that I never asked Grandpa. I do know that it had been cut down just a bit to make fit in his bar like he wanted. I never saw bullet holes so it could have been in the part that was cut off. When Grandpa and Grandma sold the property to the Penas' it was as we remembered it and they remodeled the house, store, and bar some. The entrance door to the house was redone by Abe of Abe's Doors just north of Belen very shortly after he started his business. Grandpa and my uncle Fidel Sandoval had leased a ranch outside of Duran for many years and we were always going out there to work on the ranch too. The ranch was wsw of Duran about six to ten miles from Duran going towards Corona. My Grandma Garcia had two brothers in Duran, Sabino and Susanno Madrid, they were both ranchers around Duran for many years. My Great Uncle Susanno was Bataan Death March Survivor. I have to agree with Mr. Harrison, your blog helps keep our minds refreshed with the tidbits of history of our little towns. Mr. Mulhouse, you were correct in the name of the bar was The U and I Bar. Again thanking you for keeping the those little bergs alive!!!!!! Marty Rivera

Marty Rivera said...

Mr. Mulhouse, let me correct myself, I said Abe from Abe's Doors that should actually be Toby from Toby's Doors, He did the door and the side windows and he did the whole job himself as he had just started his business. I remember meeting some of the Hindi's as we would stop sometimes to get a refreshment and for a Grandpa Blas to visit and politic he loved his politics. Duran was always kinda busy cause of highway 54. Highway 3 from Encino to Duran was dirt back then, and could be a long road when the rain or snows came. Again sorry for the brain freeze and thanks for the work in keeping up the world of little old places. Marty Rivera

jmhouse said...

Thank you for your comments and recollections, Marty Rivera! It's wonderful to have them recorded here. Coincidentally, just a couple days ago I received a photograph taken inside the U & I Bar. The picture includes your grandparents, Blas and Ursula Garcia, as well as the bar in question itself.

You have probably seen the photo--it was sent to me by a Ms. Martinez, who I'll bet you know!--but, if perhaps not, you can find it on the City of Dust Facebook page HERE. It's really a fascinating snapshot of a time in Encino that is bygone indeed. It's also the only picture I've ever seen from inside the U & I Bar!

Thanks again! JM

Marty Rivera said...

Mr. Mulhouse, just saw that photo and yes I have seen it before, the Mrs. Martinez who sent the photo to you is my sister, Elaine. The other person behind the bar kinda blurred is my Uncle Christoval Garcia, he lives in Santa Fe and was named after my Grandma Ursula's dad, Christoval Madrid, he too was a politico of his time. Some of the others in the photo are politicos but I don't recall who, I will ask and let you know later. Thanks again, Marty Rivera

jmhouse said...

I knew Elaine had to be either your sister or cousin to have the same grandparents! Interesting that there are so many politicians in the photo. Do you think they were in Encino because of Governor Dillon?

I believe that photo may soon appear on the "history wall" of the Encino Firehouse-Mercantile and Deli!

Many thanks for the additional info! JM

Sites said...

Is it possible to post a photo here? I have a google earth pic with some labels I put on it of the old Duran, NM depot area and street (businesses), as was told to me by the elder Mr. Hindi when I visited there in 2013. I will post it, if you're interested.

jmhouse said...

Sites, I don't think you can post a picture directly to comments. However, if you e-mail me at jmhouse(at)cityofdust(dot)com I will add it directly to the post. I'd sure like to see it, and I bet others would, too!

Thanks very much! JM

Anonymous said...

My name is Dona Griffin Hamar; I and my sister and brother were born in Duran NM. I was born in 1934 at home. I think My father bought our land from the Hendi people. I did go to First grade there, my teachers name was Mrs Hornsbery. My sister and I was the only anglos attending school in the in the first grade. After several attempts to drill for water with no luck, daddy sold out and we moved to Portales, NM. My mother was Nettie Luceil Maize She lived with Joe and Chairty Maize at Duran in 1920s. I enjoyed reading the comments about Duran.
Dona Griffin Hamar

jmhouse said...

Thank you for your comment, Dona Griffin Hamar. It's always a pleasure to hear from someone with a connection to Duran. I greatly appreciate you sharing your recollections and adding some more local names. That is too bad about the water. Sadly, eastern New Mexico is now having serious trouble with groundwater, too.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks again! JM

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this interesting history lesson. My sister has lived in Southeastern Colorado since 1955 and we have traveled Hwy 54 from El Paso, TX ever since. Today as we were driving through, I Googled Duran and found your blog. Maybe next time we can stop and look around. - Marylin

jmhouse said...

Thanks for stopping by City of Dust, Marylin! I can verify that Duran is definitely worth a look around if you get a chance next time you're through. Highway 54 is pretty interesting all-around.

Coincidentally, I was just in El Paso myself and spent some time in Juárez. Today I finished part one of a two-part post on my visit. If you're interested you can find it HERE.

Best Regards, JM

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am Archie Sartin and worked in the Morning copper mines. While there I met Archie Duran sr and Jr. They told stories of being from Duran. I left the mines 32 yrs ago but have often wondered if anyone there knows them.

jmhouse said...

Thanks for your comment, Archie Sartin. I haven't come across the names Archie Duran, Sr. or Jr. myself, but perhaps somebody else will be able to give you some information. I hope so!

Best of Luck! JM

Anonymous said...

Brahaim Hindi
04-26-1918 - 03-24-2018
From the Albuquerque Journal
Obituaries - 03/28/2018

"Brahaim passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness. The immediate family will have a private graveside service. Full obituary will appear shortly. Big party in Duran April 26th for his 100th birthday. We hope everyone will come celebrate Brahaim on this earth for 100 years.
Published Albuquerque Journal on March 27, 2018

A friend of mine is from Vaughn/Ft. Sumner and she told me all about the church in Duran, the Hindi's and much more. The history on this blog speaks for itself. So many stories to pass on. Keep them coming! Mr. Hindi, Rest in God's Peace and Love

jmhouse said...

Thank you for letting us know that Brahaim Hindi died, Anonymous. That is sad news. It's clear that Mr. Hindi was dearly loved by all who knew him and he was blessed with a long and well-lived life. I am glad that he is being celebrated this month and only wish I could have met him.

Rest in peace, Mr. Hindi. JM

DSMRossi said...

Incredible blog. I can’t get over the comments on here and how many connections you’ve made. We passed by the store driving from Ruidosa to Santa Fe maybe a few hours ago and I found it interesting and looked up Duran history. This page came up. Fantastic work!

jmhouse said...

Hi DSMRossi,

Thanks so much for your kind words! They're much appreciated! I'm pretty amazed myself at how many people have generously shared their recollections and family histories here. It's quite an honor!

Thanks again, and I trust you enjoyed your drive!

Best Regards, JM

Geoffsdad said...

Yes, we're Lebanese, my Sita (grandmother) and Jida (grandfather) emigrated here in the early 1900s. Theirs were the only two Muslim families in Zahle, Lebanon which was predominantly Christian at the time.

Geoffsdad said...

All three stores were owned by Lebanese families, my grandfather William's, his cousin Kasim's and the Coury's. I was born in Albuquerque but when I was young we would visit Duran and I would bounce between Jida's (grandfather's) store and cousin Kasim's and they would try to outdo one another in filling bags of candy and treats for me. My Jida was living in Albuquerque due to illness and he passed when I was six. He's buried in our cemetery there. We didn't visit Duran as much after that.

Geoffsdad said...

William Hindi was my grandfather, Kasim was his cousin and was probably in his 70s in 1963 when my grandfather passed away. My grandfather was the first Hindi to settle in Duran, he later went back to bring his brother Alex along with some Arabian horses here. William then traveled back for my grandmother, Rasmia. There's was an arranged marriage which is typical for Muslims in the middle east.

Geoffsdad said...

The first store was my grandfather's (William), Kasim had his own store which was not the Coury's that was in the first floor of their hotel. I know, looking at Duran now it's hard to believe it could possibly support three successful stores but at the time the railroad was new and the town blew up. "William Hindi and 'Brother'" referred to his brother Alex.

Geoffsdad said...

The Arabic version of William is Wilhelm which was Jida's real name. I used to be pissed at my dad for giving me such an American name when my uncles had cool names like Ficel, Shawkeet and Azeez.

Anonymous said...

My Great-Grandmother is buried in the cemetary in Duran. Her husband worked on the rail road. Do you know if anyone might have information on any of the workers? Her name was Willie Mae Sherrell and his was George Samuel Sherrell.

jmhouse said...

Thank you for your comment, Anonymous. It's always great to hear from someone with family ties to Duran. I have not come across any information on the railroad workers that lived in or around the town, nor the Sherrell family. But perhaps someone will read this and be able to add something! Fingers crossed!

Sorry I can't be of more help! JM

Unknown said...

I'm trying to locate people who lived in the Duran area (or eastern Torrance County) in 1945 and who are still alive, remember the Trinity atomic bomb test near Carrizozo that year, and have suffered health problems that may relate to that (cancers, especially of the thyroid).

I'm an author, working on a book on the health impacts of the Trinity test. If you know anybody, please contact me at Thanks, Blake.

jmhouse said...

Thank you for your comment, Blake Gumprecht. This is an important issue, and I'm glad you're working on a book about the effects of the Trinity Test. I have heard from people that have been impacted, and I addressed this topic more directly on a piece I wrote about Claunch, NM, which was 40 miles northeast of the blast. It was also in the fallout path given prevailing winds on that day.

You can find my original post, along with subsequent comments, at this City of Dust page.

It was also re-posted on the El Chuqueño blog out of El Paso. That can be found HERE, also with comments.

Finally, I imagine you've come across the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, but their page is HERE.

Just let me know if I can provide any further information. Again, there's a real tragedy here, so keep up the good work and please, if you can, keep us posted here at City of Dust.

Best Regards, JM

bootherizer said...

I just want to say, I can’t really recommend this town for exploring. Someone pulled a gun on me there because I wandered onto their driveway thinking everything was abandoned.

Nadim said...

Khoury is actually a mid east wide popular family name. There are christian, Jewish and Moslem khourys, and stretch from turkey, to the Emirates and all in between.