The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966 Page: 255
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men laid the foundation for the political history of New Mexico
which, the author insists, "has no peer for intrigue, assassination,
cabals, and general conniving."
But this political rivalry was only part of the story. Fall was
closely associated with Oliver Lee, the Alamagordo ranch owner
and suspected cattle thief. Fountain as chief counsel for the Stock
Growers' Association had sent a number of cattle thieves to
prison and had obtained indictments against Lee and others in-
cluding Lee's associates, Jim Gilliland and Billy McNew. In fact,
Colonel Fountain was on his way home to Las Cruces with the
indictments from the grand jury in Lincoln when he and his son
were ambushed and killed at Chalk Hill.
Gibson has written a good book that should find a place among
the epics of Southwestern literature. He tapped hitherto unknown
or unused sources such as the Fountain family papers and the
Pinkerton reports (the Stock Growers' Association hired the
Pinkerton agency to investigate the murders) and in so doing
plugged a number of yawning gaps in the history of the region.
For instance, he points the finger of guilt at Oliver Lee and his
two henchmen, Gilliland and McNew, and calls them murderers.
Previously, writers have only hinted at their guilt. Fall, accord-
ing to Gibson, was not present at the actual killing of Fountain
but he was "a party to this conspiracy." That Fall was not above
murder the author makes clear when he shows Fall participating
in the ambush killing of Ben Williams, a peace officer. Gibson
also advances a new and more acceptable theory regarding the
disposition of the bodies, that they were cremated on Lee's ranch
and not buried at White Sands.
But with all its excellence there are a number of weaknesses in
the book. The author, for instance, confuses El Paso, Texas, with
Paso del Norte (Jiarez). To cite only one example, he states that
there were "three Roman Catholic churches and associated
schools" in El Paso in 1866. As a matter of fact, El Paso did not
have a single church until 1870 and that was St. Clement's Epis-
copal. Furthermore, the author became enamored with Colonel
Fountain and pictures him just a little below the angels. Thus
in the rivalry between Fountain and Fall everything is black or
white; there are no shades, no shadows. Yet Fountain not only
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966, periodical, 1966; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/m1/295/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.