Thursday, March 29, 2012

Christmas Greetings From the Southwest

The year 1909 must have been a year of flux for Agnes Tully. Perhaps that was during the time when this young woman toured as a violinist. Or perhaps the interpersonal casualty alluded to in a letter from Dan E. Reilly several months prior has still kept Agnes from returning home to Chicago.

Whatever the reason, when another letter arrives at the Tully household from the southwest, the writer seems perturbed that he is getting no response.

Since the previous letter from this writer had mentioned his new position at the church in Belen, New Mexico, it is somewhat odd to see the letter open with the location listed as East Las Vegas, New Mexico. While there is an East Las Vegas, it is nowhere near New Mexico. There is a Las Vegas in New Mexico, however, but it is nearly one hundred sixty miles from Belen—and rather than being south of Albuquerque, as is Belen, it is east of Santa Fe.

To make matters worse, there is an old advertisement for the St. Anthony Sanatarium showing that address, East Las Vegas in New Mexico, as well as a picture post card of the old facility at that location. Evidently, today’s geography does not neatly align with that of years gone by—in this case, something for which the railroads can be thanked.

Whatever the location, it is unfortunately apparent that this gentleman’s recuperation has not been going well, and he has had to return for treatment.

                                                         St. Anthony’s Sanitarium
                                                         E. Las Vegas
                                                                    N. Mex.
My Dear Ag.
            No doubt you have been saying all sorts of things about me but really I didn’t know where you were and don’t know yet.
            However I’ll take a chance on your being home for Xmas and will send a few lines by way of greeting. I wish for you all a very Merry Christmas and bright new year. May God bless you on that day and always. I will surely remember you all in my three masses on that happy morning. This is my one consolation for Christmas cannot mean much for me away out here in this land of strangers. However I shall not complain as I am getting along so nicely and hope that by this time next year we may be together again. How are all the Tullys? 

It seems an age since any word came from you. Possibly it is my fault + if so accept my apology. I wrote to Alice O’Brien but failed to provoke an answer. When you get time Ag will you spill a little ink in the form of a letter.
            Once more wishing you all the joys of the season I remain.
                                    Devotedly Yours
                                                D. E. Reilly


  1. I found the postmark most interesting. It is for the La Junta (Colorado) and Albuquerque Railroad which tracks are still in use by Amtrak's Southwest Chief train. La Junta is Spanish for junction, and at La Junta, Colorado (about 65 west of Pueblo, CO) the track separates - one to Denver and the other to Kansas and both onwards to Chicago.

    The La Junta (Colorado) and Albuquerque Railroad roughly follows I-25 through Las Vegas, NM to Santa Fe and then on to Albuquerque.

    In the eastern side of Las Vegas, NM (very near the railword tracks and I-25 is the modern day, "Saint Anthonys Hospital Annex" listed in the national register of historical places.

    You can follow the train along the way (and it mentions St. Anthony Sanatorium, and tells us East Las Vegas merged with Las Vegas (before 1946) here:

    Do you suppose he was feeling better? Might he have been "working" at the hospital in some manner?

    1. Your comments are almost as fascinating as Jacqui's posts. The link you provided makes me long for a relative who rode the Santa Fe lines.

  2. Dang, lost my comment. At any rate, I found not one, but two "fatherless" Alice O'Briens living in southern Chicago during 1890-1900. There are too many to tell which one might be "her" that is mentioned. But if it was another father-less girl... it makes you wonder. Did St. Anne's have a young father-less support group or something?

  3. Some days when reading these posts and comments I fell like I am in the throes of a three-part mystery and perhaps a love story.


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