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“Soldier Hill, Grant County”

by Burt Snyder

In 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President, US citizens were suffering from the bad times known as the Great Depression. Under the new president, Congress passed laws aimed at speeding up economic recovery and helping people in need. One of these acts created the Works Progress Administration, or WPA. The WPA gave people jobs building highways, streets, bridges, and parks. It also hired writers, actors, and musicians to create and perform new works. Nationwide, about 8.5 million people found jobs through the WPA.

Between 1936 and 1942, writers working with the New Mexico Federal Writers’ Project, a department of the WPA, fanned out across New Mexico. They gathered information and wrote several thousand pages describing the state’s landscape and people, reporting on social and economic conditions, and recording folklore and oral histories. Many of these WPA files, including the one below, ended up at the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe, where anyone can go in and read them.

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Soldier Hill is located in the northwest part of Grant County, a mile or so from the Catron County line, on Big Creek.

An Apache sub-chief Trivoli ambushed an army party lead by Scout McKenney who committed suicide several years ago in Mogollon. The Indian scouts from the reservation disappeared just before the party started up the hill; this could be usually said of the Indian guides when trouble came up with the red men.

There was a captain, doctor, sergeant, and four privates in the detachment who went up the hill. To go up the hill near the top of the trail took a sharp turn by a bluff. When this turn was made, anyone would be exposed with a bluff to their back, thereby making a good target. The Apache Indians laid in wait for the men at this point. McKenney was in the lead. His horse either saw the Indians or sensed the Indians and threw up his head and was killed, thereby saving his rider’s life. The rest of the party was killed.

McKenney came to Silver City for aid, but the Indians had gotten back to the San Carlos Reservation and nothing was ever done about the attack as it seemed was usually the fact. This hill ever since has been called Soldier Hill.