Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Lost Family Connection Is Reclaimed

April 20, 2020
   Everything in this world seems to conspire to make us forget, or to disremember, or worse, to abandon all that came before. Here is one small victory against all of that.

L to R: John Guess, Dolce Guess,
Robert Guess (standing in back),
Lorry Pearl Guess, Sadie Arcane Guess
and William Guess.

In the summer of 1905, my grandfather (Bob Guess, above) contracted diphtheria while tending cattle at a remote waterhole and became so sick
he couldn’t remount his horse. A traveling
family found him and helped him onto his horse and he rode home, only to contaminate his two sisters with the deadly plague. The sisters, pictured above, died within days of each other and were hastily buried with a temporary marker in a remote cemetery. 

   Distraught, the Guess family moved on to Red Rock, then Animas Valley (Steins Pass, my mother was born in Lordsburg), then Duncan (technically, York) and ultimately, Kingman, Arizona.

   When I was growing up my grandmother would often tell the story of the two Guess children who died tragically in the wilds of New Mexico, but who never had a proper tombstone. She hoped that someday, someone from our family would go find those graves and put up a proper headstone.

This temporary, misspelled marker, "Guest Children" was all that marked the graves for more than 84 years.

In the summer of 1991 I had a proper memorial marker created and we took off for New Mexico. Left to right: Sadie Pearl Duncan, BBB, Bobbie Guess Bell and Tommy Bell.

   We flew to El Paso, rented a car and drove out eastward towards Dell, City, Texas, with our ultimate destination being just across the border in New Mexico, to the remote Orange Cemetery.

We stopped at the Cornudas Cafe because
of the cool chile sign.

 We knew the general location of the Orange Cemetery from a topo map I bought at Wide World of Maps in Phoenix, but luckily, a waitress working the counter drew us a map of the correct back roads to take to find the graves. In that part of the country every dirt road Ys about three or four times every mile and you have to make a decision, and unless you know which turn to take, you are not only lost, but it compounds with each wrong turn.

The wonderful waitress in Cornudas
who drew a map for my mother
and Sadie Pearl, at left.

   We wouldn't have found the cemetery without her directions.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Sadie Pearl reacts
to finally being able to honor the two Guess girls who she was named for.

The Orange Cemetery is northeast of Dell City, Texas in a remote side canyon just across the border in New Mexico. It is a lonely spot,
but one that is important in our family history.

   In a later development, my aunt Jean, the youngest of the Guess girls had a much larger tombstone made to honor her aunts, and she and her husband Bud Linn drove down from Fort Sumner, where they were living, and placed the new tombstone on the grave site. I have not seen this newest addition and do not know if they obliterated our modest marker.

   Either way, a small, but important part of our past was salvaged and the lost Guess girls finally have a proper tombstone.

"The greatest gift in life is love."
—Old Vaquero Saying

1 comment:

  1. See attached find a grave website for a picture of the stone ://


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