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THE GRINGO AND GREASER

Last December, in a list of odd newspaper names, we mentioned The Gringo and Greaser, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1883/4). Now Kelley Pounds, a talented New Mexico writer, has kindly told us about that newspaper and its owner.

"It was actually published in Manzano, NM, about 80 miles south of Santa Fe," she wrote. "Manzano is an old Spanish land grant town which was then in Valencia County, New Mexico Territory. Mr. Kusz was postmaster in Manzano, owned a mercantile, an inn called the Miner's Rest, an assay office, and a cattle ranch. He was a Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration for Valencia County, a surveyor, a notary public, and also started a business digging water wells.

"He was shot through his window and killed while eating supper on March 27, 1884. Despite the title of his paper, with its slur against both whites and Hispanics - not very politically correct by today's standards - Mr. Kusz was probably less racially prejudiced than most of his day.

"He had an acidic sense of humor and wrote scathing editorials about the dishonest politicians in Santa Fe, many of whom were involved in land grant thefts perpetrated against the Hispanic families who had been here for centuries."

[Like several other smalltown editors of his era, Kucz was so outspoken that he was murdered. Two other examples of 19th century editors being penalised for their candor were recounted in a previous story, Newspapers' Eccentric Names: In the Topeka (Kansas)  Capital-Journal in 1999, Gene Smith told of the sad end of Arthur Aull, once owner-publisher of the Lamar [Missouri] Unterrified Democrat, who, he said, "died of lingering head injuries caused by an umbrella handle wielded by an irate woman reader."

In Colorado, a local historian records that Colonel David Day, a Medal of Honor winner for heroism at Vicksburg, "had the distinction of having 42 libel suits pending at the same time [1900] for his raw and bitter articles in The Solid Muldoon newspaper of Ouray and Durango." Day, known nationwide for his caustic wit, honesty and bitter sarcasm, proved that his pen was as mighty as his sword. His fame even spread to England, where Queen Victoria was said to have read his paper for many years.]

* Now take a look at Kelley Pounds' attractive home page (and portrait)  and particularly "The Canine Pied Piper of Pinos Wells". If her books have that same entertaining style, they should become best-sellers.

Copyright 2002

Eric Shackle

Story first posted November 2002

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