The photo to the right depicts an 1870’s stone walkway from the enlisted barracks to the hospital at the third Fort Union. The walkway has steps that lead into and out of the ruts of the Santa Fe Trail. From the National Park Service website.
These may be ruts in a roadway, and interesting to see, but there are stories behind every turn of the wheels that created them. Descendants of those who made the trip along the Santa Fe Trail will be sharing those stories at the Santa Fe Trail Travelers and Their Descendants Conference scheduled for June 15-18 in Las Vegas, N.M. The event will take place at the historic Ilfeld Auditorium on the campus of New Mexico Highlands University. Receptions and dinners will be held at other historic venues including the SERF Theater Event Center, the Plaza Hotel and Fort Union. For a complete schedule, or for more information, go to lvcchp.org, e-mail email@example.com, or call 505 425-8803. Registration for the conference is open to all.
I asked Doyle Daves, a member of the LVCCHP board of directors, to share more about the conference. Here are his responses.
Q. What is the Santa Fe Trail Travelers and Their Descendants Conference?
A. The conference focuses on the people who traveled the Santa Fe Trail, famous and ordinary.
Q. Is this a new concept or has it been held elsewhere previously?
A. There have been many Santa Fe Trail conferences. This one is different as it focuses on the families of Santa Fe Trail descendants. So far as we know, it is the first of its kind.
Q. What lectures/talks will be featured?
A. Twenty-four talks will be given by descendants, some will be about famous people like Uncle Dick Wooton or Susan Shelby Magoffen. Most talks will be about lesser known trail travelers. Few of the speakers are historians. All will be from a family point of view. There will be more historical talks at Fort Union on Saturday and Sunday, about German soldiers with General Kearny in 1846, the Mormon battalion and early French travelers to the Rocky mountains. Lots of interesting talks.
Q. How did you decide on the program content?
A. Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation celebrates local people and history. No place along the Santa Fe Trail has a richer history of the travelers and the mixing of peoples and cultures. We chose this topic to celebrate this unique history.
Q. Who did CCHP partner with for this event?
A. LVCCHP has long been a good partner with Fort Union National Monument and has recently agreed to become the official Friends of Fort Union group. So it was natural that LVCCHP and Fort Union National Monument joined to present this conference. In addition, the Santa Fe Trail Association, Historical Society of New Mexico and the New Mexico Genealogical Society are cooperating.
Q. What do these different organizations bring to the development of the program?
A. The participating groups have been helpful in announcing the conference to their memberships and beyond.
Q. What most surprised you in putting the conference together?
A. We have been quite pleased with folks contacting us and telling about their ancestors on the trail. Some hoped for an invitation to speak at the conference, but some just wanted to inform us about their ancestral stories.
Q. What distinguishes the lecturers/speakers?
A. We know lots of people who descended from Santa Fe Trail travelers and invited some to speak. However, many of the speakers contacted us and volunteered.
Q. How did you recruit presenters?
A. The speakers are descendants; many are not practiced at speaking in public and a few are doing so for the first time. I think we will hear talks demonstrating family insights and pride that is usually missing from history talks.