Hunting for a Homestead

In 1897, Reubin Garrett Wells, was about 16 at the time, and Luther McLendon, a family friend, left San Angelo, TX, for a trek through west Texas, New Mexico and southeast Arizona, hunting for a possible new homestead. They’d already moved once for Grandmother Sarah’s health [from Grimes County where his parents had lived 16 – 17 years]. The family moved to San Angelo, Texas where they lived for 11-12 years. Grandmother’s health improved while living there but not enough. The doctor’s said she needed to live in a drier climate.

On their trip, the boys encountered flood-high rivers and renegade Indians, some hiding and sneaking off reservations, especially Mescalero Apaches fleeing south into the high mountains of northern Mexico. (Painting “Rivers up, Where Do We Cross ‘Em“)

In New Mexico, the boy’s horses got into some weeds, that made them act loco, delaying them several days. They earned money at ranches, breaking horses as they went and “worked a spell in El Paso.” At one point their food ran out and they had to learn how to survive on native foods. They traveled one entire month without seeing a single human being. They circled back home through the Big Bend country after being gone for 2 years. After hearing their tales and descriptions of the lands they’d seen, Grandmother chose Sulphur Spring Valley because of its “rich horse-belly-high grasslands, water and mountain pine forests.