Sunday, February 25, 2018

Anton Chico Potatoes

By Cary Culbertson

Thomas Abercrombie migrated from Scotland in 1840, settled in New York City and eventually wound up in the Kansas Territory. His son James M. Abercrombie was born in 1854. He was unsettled as a young man and became a known horse and cattle thief. James Abercrombie associated with a sordid bunch of characters, one of whom was his friend William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. Billy the Kid was reportedly friendly, very polite and well liked by the populace of Anton Chico, New Mexico and the surrounding area. He spent a lot of time in Anton Chico. One story relates that he once hid out in the Abercrombie Store basement when Sherriff Pat Garrett was looking for him in the Anton Chico area.

In 1873 James M. Abercrombie sold a herd of stolen cattle and established the Abercrombie Mercantile Store. This mercantile store has remained in the family, I believe, for three generations. At one time  it was the largest mercantile store between El Paso Texas and Denver Colorado. The store remained a general store until the late 1980’s. Although now vacant, the building is currently owned by Georgia Abercrombie Santa Maria, James M. Abercrombie’s great granddaughter.

At the Abercrombie Store one could buy a very wide range of goods, including but not limited to clothing, dry goods, hardware, ammunition, toiletries, lumber, caskets, tools, plumbing supplies, groceries, alcohol and so on. If they did not have what a customer needed they would get it for them.

W. O. Culbertson and Sons Inc. cattle ranches, headquartered in Dalhart, Texas, owned Park
Springs Ranch 17 Miles east of Anton Chico. So naturally, we traded with the Abercrombie’s. My dad, W. O. Culbertson Jr., establish a grocery account with Abercrombie’s who agreed to run a tab on the grocery purchases which was to be paid in the fall after the calves were sold. Myles family and my family used this account for our groceries. Abercrombie would submit a bill to the Office in Dalhart each month. We had the same arrangement with the Columbia Grocery Store in Las Vegas, New Mexico. There was one difference however: at Abercrombie’s we had an understanding that each time we bought beer or other alcoholic beverages, it was to be marked down as potatoes.

This plan worked out well for several months, until we got a call from Dads brother, Joe Jack, from the office in Dalhart who was wondering “….how in the hell can you people eat so damned many potatoes?”

We had to change the plan and start paying for the alcohol after that.

1 comment:

soapweed said...

And sir....potatoes it shall be, henceforth. Thanks