Elfego Baca Golf Shoot
Elfego Baca in History

At the end of the 19th century, civilization was rapidly consuming the vast American frontier.  However, there were still places where mining booms could transform sleepy towns, overnight, into cities, where cattle ranged over huge parcels of land and the law was as strong as the man enforcing it.

This was true in Socorro County in 1884.  The year when a self-appointed deputy sheriff named Elfego Baca set out to restore order to the small town of Frisco, near present-day Reserve, New Mexico.

Southwestern New Mexico was still untamed, ranching country.  Geronimo would not be captured for another two years and Billy the Kid was killed just three years before.   It was a time and place that cowboys did what they wanted, when they wanted.

Elfego Baca arrested one of these cowboys that were shooting up the town of Frisco.  The cowboy's friends wanted him released.  Something Elfego Baca wasn't going to do.  A standoff ensued when Baca took shelter in  the tiny house of Geronimo Armijo.  The standoff resulted in a furious attack by over 80 cowhands, in which over 4,000 rounds were fired into the house by those outside.  Elfego Baca managed to kill four of his assailants and wounded eight others.  Thirty-six hours after it began, Elfego Baca walked out unharmed and into history, at 19 years of age.

Baca was admitted to the Bar in 1894 at the age of 29.  Later he also became a Deputy United States Marshall, an assistant district attorney, the mayor of Socorro, and among other things, in 1919, became Sheriff of Socorro County.  Elfego Baca died in 1945.

In 1936, nine years prior to his death, he gave an interview to Janet Smith who was doing depression-era interviews as part of the W.P.A. lifehistories project.  Although short, Baca's indominatable spirit comes through.  The interview can be found at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/wpa/20040209.html and the W.P.A. lifehistories project can be found at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/wpaintro/nmcat.html .
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