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