Introduction: Old Concho
The history and folklore written in this book (Old Concho, History and Folklore) have been passed down from generation to generation. In Old Concho History and Folklore, the author has complied a collection of these stories. Some are based on factual events while others are interesting stories that have survived the telling from parent to children to grandchildren.
We hope the reader will find interesting the everyday life experiences of the early arrivals to Old Concho, the first patron saint, the ritual of the Penitentes, and the arrival of Father Badilla.
Stories of saints performing miracles, a devil obstructing passage over a bridge, ghosts seen in the dark of night and of LaLlorna roaming the hills at night calling for her lost children all make for fascinating reading.
The courage of Hipolito, captured at an early age by Indians, and the perseverance of thirteen-year-old Elana whose entire family, traveling in a covered wagon on their way to Arizona, died in San Antonio of Smallpox are two of the many interesting stories in old Concho History and Folklore.
The brief biographies of some of the early village keepers make for a better understanding of the past culture and the effect that this culture has had on the current generation.
The stories in this book are written about what is now called “Old Concho” and the surrounding area. At one time Concho was a small busy very important and powerful village. It still stands as one of the oldest villages in Arizona. The exact date of the settlement in Concho is unknown, but historians place the date between 1856 and 1860.
Most of the original houses have eroded away. In the late eighteen hundreds the Village of Concho had an estimated population of 3,000 people. The early settlers were mostly sheepherders and at one time the sheep population numbered 100,000. The wool from the sheep made Concho the sheep kingdom of Arizona. The village consisted of three general merchandise stores, a post office, two schools, a Catholic Church, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a candy store and a combination pool hall-dance hall. The first bank in Apache County as well as in the Northeast Arizona Territory was opened in Concho in 1902. A second bank established in 1913 was destroyed by fire a few years after opening. The village even had a “lover’s lane”. There was no railroad, but there was a dirt road that ran through the center of the town.
Many of the houses were constructed of rock and adobe, materials that were readily available in the area. There were some beautiful homes in Concho and today some are still standing. Even the smaller homes were quite comfortable. They were warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Most of the homes had dirt floors; and to give the appearance of a rug, designs were drawn in the dirt of the living room floor. The ceilings were made of cloth stretched across the rafters, or sometimes held in place by slats. For screen doors a piece of cloth was draped across a slat. When the cloth swayed in the breeze, it would help keep out insects………………
The young ladies of Concho never attended any public function alone; they had to have a mother, a father, brother or chaperon with them. They were never permitted to be alone with a young man, especially if they were attracted to the young man. Without a chaperone they would be considered “not proper” and would be ostracized.
The parents arranged marriage when families had young ladies and young men of marriageable age. When the arrangements were made, sometimes the parents would select the wrong girl or the wrong boy which made for a flow of tears for a while. Still there were no ifs or ands; the young people did as their parents bid them.
I remember Prudencia Mirabal telling the story of the Candelaria family taking their three sons from Concho, Arizona to San Rafeal, New Mexico to ask for the hands of the three Mirabal daughters in marriage. The girls were sent upstairs to their rooms and instructed not to come down until the Candelarias had left. The Mirabal house was very large with eight or ten bedrooms upstairs. The girls, in order to get a look at the young men they were to marry, went to the one room that overlooked the front of the house to watch the arrivals. They saw the Candelarias arrive, but had no idea which young man would be chosen for them. They were not supposed to see them until the day of their wedding. After they were betrothed, they were not allowed to attend any public function, with the exception of church, until the were married.
With the customary festivities the three Candelaria brothers did marry the three Mirabal Sisters, and they stayed married until death did them part. The Candelaria brothers brought their new brides from San Rafael, New Mexico to Concho, Arizona to live; and there they lived until their children were almost grown.