|GILILLAND FAMILY STORIES
|My Life Story by
Alice Rosetta Gililland Smith
My mother, Ginevra Wood, daughter of Henry and Alice Wood, from the San Adres
Mountains, married Papa, Dick Gililland on March 30, 1911, in Alamogordo. grandpa and
Grandma, William Franklin Gililland and Rosetta Moore Gililland, lived in Alamogordo. Papa
worked for Oliver Lee on his ranch 30 miles south of Alamogordo, by the Sacramento
I was born at Grandpa and Grandma Gililland's house, on the east end of 10th. Street in
Alamogordo, on July 5th., 1912. I was red headed.
Before I was a year old, we moved out to the San Andres Mountains and lived in a tent by an
earth tank build to water the cows. There were no trees on this ranch, and it was very hot in
Papa built us a house and corrals, it took him a long time, because he had to go 30 or 40
miles to get the materials, and it took about 4 days to go to town. There was a wagon yard to
put your wagon and horses in, so Papa would take this bedroll along and sleep in the wagon.
The house got finished just in time for Sam to be born. He was born in 1914. Sam had red
Papa and Mama had some cows, horses and chickens on the ranch. they made do with what
they had. We got flour, corn meal, and salt in big cloth sacks - so Mama would use the
material to make us clothes. Each meal, Mama made sour dough or corn bread, it was not
much but enough. I got pretty good a making sour dough bread. We were poor, but we did
not know it. We had milk, eggs, and bread, what else do you need? Everyone else was in
the same boat. One good thing, they did not have to pay taxes or income tax.
Dixie was born in 1917. By then I was big enough to help with what needed to be done. We
all worked hard. She had brown hair.
Sam and I started school at Bear Den, when I was 7. Bear Den was about 2 miles south of
Grandpa and Grandma Wood's ranch. And ten miles from our ranch. Our first year our
teacher was Mr. Brummett, she had two sons, Max and Charles. Sam and I was anxious to
go to school and did not want to wait for the wagon, so we were walking to school from the
Wood ranch and all of sudden here came a bunch of other kids. I did not know there were
any one else in the whole world - but kinfolk. There came all the Hendersons; Eva, Willie,
Emmett, Andy, Hodges from one family, the there was Bessy, Roy, Finas, Irene and Luther
from another Henderson family. I ran and hid behind the teacher's desk. (A note about
Luther Henderson, he was in the death march and died in World War II). We were assigned
seats. When we had recess, Willie Henderson took my hand and would take me running
around the schoolhouse while playing Annie Over. I got acquainted and had a lot of fun
Papa put a house at Bear Den across the canyon from the schoolhouse for Mama and us
kids to live while going to school.
The second year we had Cleo Browning as our teacher. Uncle Tom, Aunt Grace and Aunt
Dolly started going to school with us a Bear Den. The year before they went to school in
Albuquerque. That year Cleo lived with me and Sam and Mama stayed at the ranch. With
Papa and Dixie.
Uncle Tom was breaking my horse, "Old Tommy", so would ride him to school. I wanted to
ride with him, but he would not let me. So, I was left to walk by myself. As I was walking
along Uncle Tom would get out of sight and start baying like a mean old burro horse
Granddad Wood had. I was afraid; so it did not take me long to catch up with the rest of the
kids. Elizabeth Raley, Aunt Lucy's (Papa's sister) daughter was our teacher the next year.
In about 1922 Jim Smith, Aunt Lucretia's (my dad's sister) son, was staying with us at the
ranch. The water we had was not fit to drink, so we were hauling water to cook with and
drink. Jim dug us a cistern to catch rainwater, if it should rain. That year we had a bad
drought; we spent all our time cutting daggers (yucca) and cacti for the cows to ear. I
thought Jim Smith was the strongest man around.
In 1924 Mama was expecting another baby. She took us three kids and went to San marshal
to have it. Grandma Wood came from Albuquerque to help her. Mama was up tending to
me at night, I was sick with a sore throat. She didn't have anything on her feet; since it was
so cold and wet, she got pneumonia. Nothing Grandma or the doctor would do helped, so
Grandma took Mama and us kids on the train to Albuquerque and put Mama in the hospital.
She almost died. Her fingernails were already black. Mama lost the baby. Sam, Dixie, and I
stayed with Grandma and we went to school there until Mama got well. We finally got back
to the ranch.
In 1925, when I was 13 years old, a school was started over by the Gililland Ranch. They
called it the Rich School. Until they got the schoolhouse built, they had school in the
Gililland ranch house. So our family moved up to the Smith Place, until he wanted to sell to
move to La Luz for his kids to go to school, so my dad bought him out. His kids wee Hattie,
Annie, Bill, Andrew, Lillie and Georgie. Elizabeth was still our teacher, but she had gotten
married and her last name was Posey and had a baby, R.L.
Lola was born in August of 1925. Papa was gone when Mama went into labor. She sent Dixie
and me up on the hill to build a fire so Papa would see it and come home. So we built the
fire and stayed up there until it was getting dark - so I thought we had better get down to the
house. We wee staying out by the corrals when Dixie said she heard a baby crying. I said,
"You heard no such thing, get back here". Finally I thought I had better go in the house.
Mama told me to get her the scissors and heat up some water. I did not want to go into the
room with Mama and the baby, so I got the scissors and pitched them in to her - she said "be
a little careful there, now don't go anywhere, I am going to need you in a little while". So I
had to wash Lola and dress her. Uncle John Wood's wife, Aunt Eva and her two year old,
Lorena, came over to help Mama until Papa got home. Papa never saw the fire I built for
him. When Papa came home, he came into the bedroom, hugged Mama and picked Lola up.
Lorena said "Un-un, Uncle Dick, she bita you". She had seen Lola nursing. I sure was glad
Papa was home. I was doing all the milking, feeding chickens, gathering eggs, etc. Sam
probably helped me - but I sure can't remember. By the way, Lola had red hair.
One day Elizabeth Posey and I walked from Bear Den to Grandpa Wood's ranch. As we went
past the corrals we saw that there was someone with Uncle Tom in the corrals, trying to ride
a burro. He was thrown off. I was too bashful to stay around to find out who he was. But, I
had paid enough attention to know what they were doing out there. I learned later it was
Dick Raley (my cousin, Aunt Lucy's son) and Clay worked together at the Diamond A Ranch
just north of Engle. When Dick would come over to our place to see us, he would talk a lot
One day Clay came over looking for some cows. I never gave it a thought that he may be
there to meet me.
Three wagons stopped at our ranch and the guys unhitched the horses and were watering
them. I saw them, so I high-tailed it into the house and sent Sam out to see what they
wanted. Clay was driving one of those wagons. After we were married, Clay told me that the
only think he saw of me was a red streak running around the house.
When I was 16, Mama had another baby. Billy Pete was born in 1928. He had brown hair.
I went to Hot Springs for my freshman year of schooling. I lived with Lola and Doug Crain.
That summer I got to meet Clay. On the 4th. of July he and another guy drove up to our
ranch in a car. I would not go out there, so Clay gave the candy he brought for me to Lola,
and then went on. They wanted me to go to the rodeo in Tularosa with them. Lola and Doug
Crain asked me to go to the rodeo with them, so I went. We stayed over night in a hotel.
Clay came to the hotel to ask me to the dance. As it turned out, Lola and Doug was having
company that night, so they asked me to stay with Dick and Jessie Raley, so after the dance
Clay took me to Dick's house. It was very late, and Dick was worried about me. He knew that
Clay liked to drink and get into trouble. After that Clay wrote to me from ca mp - of course
there was no paper so he wrote on what ever the could find to write on, paper sacks or etc.
Sam and I rented a small place in Hot Springs for our sophomore year of school and were
batching it. Christmas was approaching and Clay had written that he would come to town.
Papa came to get us and Clay had not shown up, so I went on out to the ranch with Papa and
Sam. When I got back to Hot Springs, I learned that Clay had shown up and got on a big
drunk. Elizabeth (his sister) and Ray took him home with them. He had lost all his money, so
he went on back to camp and I did not get to see him a all. I figured our romance was over!
Some girls told me that there was no school that day because of a teacher's meeting, and
asked me to go with them down to the river, so I did. The principal found out about this and
made me stay in after school for two weeks. One day after I got out of detention, as I was
approaching our place, I heard Clay's voice talking to Sam. I sure did not want to go in there
- but there was no other place to go. So I went on in. Clay and I made up. That was the
worse breakup we ever had - THANK GOD.
When I was 18 Mama had another baby. Jess Andrew was born in 1931. He had brown hair.
We went to school in Tularosa for our junior year. Clay had asked me to marry him, and he
wanted to get married as soon as school was out. School let out and we went on back out to
the ranch. I did not know if he was going to show up or not. On May 27, 1932 he, Elizabeth,
Ray, and Lou (his other sister) came on out to the ranch. So Mama, Papa, me and the four of
them went to Alamogordo to get our marriage license and to buy the rings. We bought them
at Sorenson's Jewelry Store. We traded with Sorensons ever since. Mama and Papa had
gotten their wedding rings from Sorensons, also. Then we went on to the preacher's house
just south of Tularosa, and we got married.
Clay worked at the L/ Ranch just 4 miles from Papa's ranch. Clay and a few guys moved a
little one room house over to the Jack Place on the L/ Ranch for us to live in. We did not
have any furniture, but Clay had his bedroll and a chair he had made out of 2 X 4s. He made
me a chair to match and we used an old table to eat on. I used his tarp for a bedspread.
These chairs were so heavy we had to leave them there when we moved.
We went to Papa's ranch and stayed a little while because I was expecting a baby. We
moved into Hot Springs in February of 1933. I had my baby April 12, 1933. We named him
Richard Nathan, after both his granddads.
Clay found a job on Flat Lake. He was a good cowboy, so he could get a job just about on
any ranch. He broke horses, built fences, fixed windmills, branded calves, built tanks and
what else thee was to do. Wages were low, he only got $28.00 a month, but he enjoyed his
In September 1933, Clay got a job working for the Hatchet Company in Three Rivers. Richard
and I stayed with Papa and Mama at the ranch until Clay could get a roof put on an old adobe
house. Then he moved us. We did not have much, only Richard's high chair, washtub and a
Clay had managed to get a Model T Strip down car. It would only go 15 miles an hour. The
carburetor developed a leak and our car caught on fire. Richard and I got away from the car
and watched Clay throw dirt on it to put the fire out.
I had my horse, Old Tuffy, there. He was a lifesaver. I always knew I would get where I
started to go on him, and I couldn't with a Model T.
Clay only made $30.00 a month working for the Hatchet Company, but we did not need much.
In July 1934, Clay rented Richard and me a room from Mrs. Brisco in Tularosa, as he was
going to be going up north with the Hatchet wagon and did not want us to be out there in
the sand hills by ourselves, in a house that had no screens to keep the flies and snakes
out. Mrs. Brisco and I became very good friends.
November 1934, Papa made an offer to put is ranch up as security to buy three ranches from
the R.D. Champion bank. The bank had foreclosed on these ranches. So Papa went looking
for Clay to let him know about this deal. The goats came with the ranches, so they had to
count them out and Clay had to take them to camp. The three ranches were: Sweetwater,
Grape Vine, and the LW Place. (LW was Lum Wood's brand, Lum was granddad Wood's
brother, he was married to Grandma Wood's sister, Aunt Beckie). Since Clay was gone to
camp with the goats, Roy and Dixie had to help me move, what little we had, to Sweetwater.
We didn't have much, but we were happy and we could live without much expense - it was
the kind of life we loved - Freedom!!
In April we moved to Tularosa. I was expecting another baby any day. On April 23, 1936, I
had a baby girl. We named her Lucy Alice.
In 1936-37 Clay got sick. He was going to every doctor he could find to see what was wrong
with him. His brother, Curtis and his wife Louise, was living in Isileta, Texas and told Clay
their doctor in El Paso could help him. So Clay went on to El Paso to him. His name was Dr.
Gourman. He ex-rayed Clay and found out he had gallbladder trouble. He gave him three
bottles of medicine and the first thing Clay knew, he was well. Clay went on back to herding
At the end of 1937, we moved to Las Palomas. I was expecting my third baby. Dorothy Ann
was born on December 20th. Clay started cutting wood to sell, he worked on the Cabello
Dam, and he worked for a guy he knew that was building a house in Las Palomas. We did not
have any money to spend and had no credit away from Tularosa. Champion owned the
grocery store and the lumber mill, so he set Clay up with credit to be paid off with mohair
from the sheep and goats. We never had any money coming after the mohair was hauled in -
Clay just gave it to Champion, and trusted that if there was ore money coming after the bills
was paid, that he would give it to him.
In 1938 Clay went to Carrizozo to see the banker, Mr. Huntsinger, and told him he needed
money to pay Champion off. Mr. Huntsinger asks, "How much do you need?". So Clay got a
loan and went to Tularosa and paid of all his bills.
Clay had enough money then to buy us a pickup. Which we needed since it was hard to take
three children on horseback.
Clay worked hard on Sweetwater. He built me a washhouse, a chicken house, and piped
water to the house and the washhouse. I think it was the only place out there that had
running water in the house. Besides building the corrals and fences for the horse pastures.
The government decided they needed all of the ranches out from Tularosa west to Engle
and from Tularosa north to Oscura for a proving ground (bombing and missile range). So in
October of 1941, Mr. Savage came out to appraise the ranches and improvements. We
received notice in December to move off. There wasn't any place to go with our goats as
they were taking all the ranches out there, so Clay had to sell all the goats for what he could
get for them. And, we moved to Tularosa in the summer of 1942 and rented a house. We
had a few cows and horses that the government let us keep out at the ranch. We could go
out there on weekends to tend to them. There was not any work, anyway...the kind of work
Clay had done all his life. We used up all the goat money. Clay had a life insurance policy
we could not even pay on. We sure missed the ranches, anyone could go out there and find
work - besides it was a good place to raise your kids, to teach them what hard work was and
it was good exercise. One good thing, the bank was paid off before we moved. The
ranches wee free of debt.
Clay got a job with the Soil Conservation down on Crow Flat - but that only lasted a couple
months. We had not received any money from the government, so this came in handy while
it lasted. We rented a house in Tularosa.
In 1945, we finally received a check fro the government, so we bought a small house down
the road from the school in Tularosa. It was not enough money to even think about buying
another ranch. Papa used to get Clay to go look at ranches to buy - but what was we to use
for down payment. We got $400 every three months!!
The land around our house had a big peach orchard. So each year we picked peaches and
sold some. Clay built a fence around the front yard and made sidewalks. Richard, Lucy and
Dorothy have their footprints in the concrete. He also made a barn and a washhouse out
behind the house. Lucy and Dorothy enjoyed putting on shows using the doors from the
washhouse and barn for the entrance to the stage.
The base opened up - so Clay went to work out there for the fire department. The base
closed down after a couple years, so Clay was working for a carpenter here in Alamogordo.
Mr. Matteson owned the construction business. Clay was also water boss for a year or so.
While we were living in Tularosa, Lola came and stayed with us to go to high school. Pete
and Jess also stayed with us for a while.
We went to the Baptist Church and made a lot of good friends. Allice Murell and Maynard
Lewis, Vi and Chester Webb and their son Troy, Mr. and Mrs. Simpson and their sons,
Ernest, Dee, and Jesse. Allice was our Sunday School teacher. Vi operated a beauty shop.
Mr. and Mrs. Simpson ran a farm. We spent a lot of time with these people. We played
dynamos and card games a lot. Besides going on picnics and etc.
Then some good news - I had another baby girl. Born on May 2, 1947, Viola Murell.
Clay went to Morenci, Arizona to work in the copper mines. So, we traded our house and
orchard in Tularosa for a place with 20 acres and a house in Alamogordo, and we moved to
Arizona, September 1947. I still own the place in Alamogordo, 905 Canyon Road, which is
about two miles from down town.
While living in Morenci, we learned that Allice and Maynard had gotten a divorce and Allice
married Ernest Simpson. They came out to Morenci and lived with us until they found a
place of their own. They did not live there long - they moved on to California.
Sam was water boss in Tularosa and he had his daughter, Carolyn with him while he checked
the ditches. he left her in the pickup and when he got back, she had gotten out of and fell
into a ditch full of water and was drown. I went back to Tularosa for the funeral.
We decided we had to move back to Alamogordo. There was a house that needed some
work on it before it fell down, and we still had some stock that was still out on the ranch that
needed some attention. The kids and I moved back to Alamogordo as soon as school was
out in 1949. Clay came back in July, and got a job at a filling station, Firestone, until the base
opened back up. Then he started working out there again on the fire department. He
worked thee until he retired in 1970 after 23 years. He was captain of the station.
In 1953, the government told us we had to get all the stock off the bombing range. So Clay
leased some grazing land up by Mescalero for the cows for a little while. Then, later leased
land from Jack Prather on the flats between Alamogordo and El Paso. Clay kept this lease
for 12 or 13 years when it became necessary to sell them, because the government
tightened the rules on grazing rights. Fewer cows could be kept on an acre of land. He
sure hated to give them up, but he knew he had to.
Clay found out he had cancer in 1974. Clay passed away in 1977 from cancer of the colon,
lungs, and head.
Our son, Richard went to college for a year or two, before joining the Navy. In 1957 he got
out of the Navy, he then worked for Mountain Bell Telephone Company. Richard married
Eva Cooper from Philadelphia in June 1971. Eva had three boys by a former marriage, Tom,
Dick and Scott. In February 1980 Eva passed away.
Richard then married Patricia Van Brunt. Pat had four girls by a former marriage, Tami,
Cyndie, Jan and Leslie. Richard was the best "Pop" to both Eva and Pat's children, and a
very good grandpa. Tami was born in 1960, went to secretarial school and runs a daycare
business. She married Wayne Wallis. They had a daughter, Brandi. Tami and Wayne
divorced, later Tami married Pat Kelly and they have two sons, Sean and Kristopher. Brandi
married Clinton Flock and has a baby daughter, Katherine. Cyndie was born in 1962, went to
college in Silver City and Albuquerque, married Mike Dalton and have two children, Dustin
and Lacey. Cyndie works in the office of Image Ideas. Jan was born in 1967, married Greg
Gallegos, they had one son, Gabriel. Jan and Greg divorced. Jan teaches at Las Cruces
High School. Leslie was born in 1969 and has two sons, Daniel and Nicholas. Leslie married
and divorced Dean Moffett, they have a daughter, Sierra. Leslie works in Tularosa in a
Richard worked for Mountain Bell for 27 years, then for AT&T for 3 years, retiring from there
in 1986. He then went to work for Southwest Telephone Systems (from Santa Fe). He
serviced the whole Southern part of New Mexico, plus began his own contracting business,
RNS Telecommunications. He retired the second time in 2002.
Our daughter, Lucy also went to college for a year or so, then went to work on the base. she
met Paul Sauerman, whom she married on May 26, 1956. They moved to Philadelphia and
had two sons, Robert Paul in 1957 and Richard Charles in 1958.
Lucy and Paul moved back to Alamogordo and Paul opened the Spud Nut Shop. Lucy worked
as a dental hygienist. Lucy passed away in September 1979 of breast cancer. Bob married
Jacki Starek and they have three children, Bryan Robert, Melanie Lucille, and Claire Alyse.
They live in Albuquerque. Rick married Mary Deltona and had one daughter, Stephanie.
Rick has his own business, New Mexico Dry Wall. Rick and Mary later divorced, and Rick
married Tammy Butcher. They live in Alamogordo.
Our daughter, Dorothy, did not go to college; she went to work at the base as soon as she
graduated from high school. She married Paul Hess on August 4, 1956 and moved to
Wisconsin. They had six children: Annette, Lois, Linda, Carol, Gary and Arlene. Annette was
born in 1957. Annette earned her business degree, then married Mike Langen. They have
two daughters, Erica and Sarah. Lois was born in 1958. She became a medical doctor, then
married Pat Connolly. They have two children: Megan and Branden. Linda was born in
1959. She became a Certified Accountant and married Todd Jones. They are the best
grandparents to two of Todd's grandchildren, David and Angela.
In July 1963 Dorothy was expecting a baby when the family moved back to Alamogordo.
Carol was born in November 1963. She got a degree as a medical secretary, then married
Tom Saxton, and they have three children: Miranda, Samantha, and Jeffrey.
Paul was transferred to Gila Bend, Arizona in 1964 then Gary was born in 1965. After high
school Gary joined the Navy Reserves and then went to a technical school for engineering.
He married Mary Jo Antony. He started his own business in consulting for electrical wiring
and plumbing, called Galileo Consultants.
Dorothy and Paul returned to Wisconsin. Arlene was born in 1966. She became a nurse and
works at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She married Jeff VanGalder, and they had four children:
Hannah, Alex, Charlie, and Aaron. They later divorced, and Arlene married Jamie Hodenfield.
Dorothy worked as a secretary for a moving company until she retired after 24 years.
our daughter, Viola did not go to college or work right away. She took the test to work for
the telephone company, but when they gave her the physical she failed it. They told her if
she would loose weight, they would hire her. She weighed 180 pounds at the time. She lost
to 135, and while waiting for the call to go to work at the telephone company, she met Mike
Hobbs. They wee married March 19, 1966. They moved that day to Homestead AFB, Florida,
and the first of many bases. They had two daughters: Janis and Sheryl. Janis was born in
1970. She married Mike Richardson. They have one daughter, Elise. Even though Janis did
not go to college, she has a promising career with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas. Sheryl
was born on Clay's birthday, February 1, 1974. Sheryl earned a psychology degree. She
married Jim Borgelt. She and Jim are raising Jim's daughter Kaitlyn and are looking forward
to having more children.
After Viola raised her kids and quit moving around, she graduated from college on February
12, 2000 with a degree in Management and Organizational Development.
I moved out of my home in December 2001. I moved into the Aristocrat Assisted Living, here
I turned 90 on July 5, 2002. My children got a big party together for me on July 4th. I did not
know I had so many friends and family. They all showed up to help me celebrate.
On August 22nd., 2002, I was hit by a motorized wheel chair. It knocked me down and broke
my right hip. I went into surgery that night and Dr. Dodson put a steel plate in to secure the
bone. I was in the Casa Arena Nursing Home until November 22, 2002.
I turned 91 on July 5, 2003. My children could not be here with me so, I had my sister, Lola's
family, Paul Sauerman, Bob Sauerman and his daughter Melanie, Rick and Tammy Sauerman
and their daughter, Stephanie all come for dinner and cake with me.