Pioneers of the Llano Estacado

My family history with Roosevelt County in New Mexico begins in the early 1900s, and I’ve always loved the stories of the pioneers.  But I’ve never known much of the personal history from the late 1800s until very recently when I read the new book by Ruth Burns, “A Man Was a Real Man in Them Days”.   It’s filled with quotes, tales, and photos of the people who came to the Llano Estacado 150 years ago.

Ruth’s mother, Rose, found herself in Portales, surrounded by the people who had been the first settlers here – the ones who had worked the cattle in the days when fences were illegal, Billy the Kid was holing up at Portales Springs, and wagons brought flour in barrels, kegs of molasses and sacks of navy beans.

I’m so grateful she decided to interview them, and write their stories.  I’m equally thankful that her daughter has compiled them into this beautiful book.  If you have a love for this area as I do, this is a must-have book for your collection.  Making the book even more special for me… the author commissioned a painting from my mother.  It’s of longhorn cattle coming into the water at Portales Springs, and this artwork graces the cover.

Wrapping up the stories, just like a grand musical on a stage, is that of the first community Christmas celebration in 1899.  Santa on a donkey, a tree brought in from Tucumcari, bags of candy for every person there… a day “full of hope and joy and goodwill”.

I had heard of this marvelous celebration before, and it’s wonderful to have it on the printed page and in my collection.  I believe I’ll read the Christmas chapter each and every December from now on.


It’s going to be very easy to get your own copy!  Here are some outlets:

Ruth Burns at
ENMU Bookstore
Portales Chamber of Commerce
Clovis Chamber of Commerce
Hastings in Clovis
Coyote Howling in Ruidoso

You might want to mention this to Santa Claus!


3 Responses to “Pioneers of the Llano Estacado”

  1. Betty Williamson says:

    You can also buy signed copies at the Portales Public Library, and a portion of the proceeds benefits the Friends of the Library. Ruth set that up herself, because it’s the kind of person she is. The book is wonderful…highly, highly recommended!

  2. Kim Mann says:

    I sure would like a copy of this for Christmas—-hint hint!!!!!

  3. Jim Standifer says:

    Thanks Sandy for letting me know about this book, gonna get somecopies today! For sure!!

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