Ace of Spades
       Belonger Genealogy * True History * The Blonger Gang * Sam's Posse       

The Mark Inside

Search for
The Famous Blonger Bros.


November 2006


Chauncey Smaldone

An article today in the Denver Post details the local history of the Smaldone brothers, following the death in October of the youngest sibling Clarence ("Chauncey").

Out in Boulder, Jeff says the article was front page.

His death closes the book on the Smaldone crime family, whose members oversaw gambling and bookmaking operations in Denver and Adams County and in Central City decades before gambling was legalized in the mountain town.

Author Dick Kreck goes on to say:

The Smaldones weren't the city's first crime syndicate, not by a long shot. At the end of the 19th century, Vaso Chucovich and his partner, "Big Ed" Chase, ran gambling, saloons and the rackets in the city's lower precincts.
They were succeeded by Lou Blonger, one of the most colorful characters in the city's history. Blonger's game was bunco and stock swindles. His gang lurked near Union Station, picking off "marks" as they stepped off trains and steering them to phony stock-market offices downtown.
Blonger was brought down in the early 1920s by crusading District Attorney Philip S. Van Cise as part of an elaborate sting. Convicted on numerous charges, Blonger was sentenced to seven years in the state penitentiary at Cañon City, despite his protests that his health and age (he was 73) wouldn't let him serve out his sentence. He proved right, dying after five months behind bars.



The Forest Queen Strikes Again

Cripple Creek Morning Times, December 1, 1899

From present indications Blonger, Truett and Reardon are on top of a big body of ore in the 100-foot shaft of the Forest Queen on Ironclad Hill, and a plant of machinery is to be put on the property at once to push developments. The Forest Queen vein has been opened in Captain Thatcher's lease on the Arapahoe, and at that point is thirty feet wide. Good assays have been taken from it.

Here's the machinery, what was left of it a few years ago, anyway.

Forest Queen



The Blonger Shaft

Leadville Democrat, January 1, 1881

The Blonger shaft of the Big Pittsburg company was started during the fall by John H. Dunn & Co. The shaft is 425 feet deep and shipments of iron from a very good body exposed in the drift have been made.

What's it mean? Well, it was primarily a lead mine, and a producer. Was it a shaft dug on the Big Pittsburg claim, or just underwritten by the company? And which Blonger are we talking about? Maybe we'll find out this summer...


Nellie Blonger

New stuff from Leadville is coming along consistently at CHNC, including Marvin on jury duty in 1887, and daughter Abbie:

Recitation, A Sum in Arithmetic — Abbie Blonger

And Nellie in 1881, who is noted as one of the "young ladies" attending the 8th anniversary ball of Court Star of Leadville No. 7195, Ancient Order of Foresters of America.

Interesting. Scott, you previously had this to say about Marvin:

Marvin Blonger has so far presented a special problem. His entire family has had to be reconstructed from circumstantial evidence. His son Edward, who appears with Marvin in the 1900 census, is the only child who can be linked by census records.

Okay: Marvin Blonger, son Edward Blonger.

No census lists Marvin Blonger and his wife together, but we do have a few clues as to her identity. An online index lists the marriage of Marian Blonger and Molley Ann Beard in Lincoln County, Missouri (north of St. Louis), on August 7, 1873. The record does clearly read "Marian," but since Marian is not a male name, the assumption is that the person transcribing the marriage into the official record misinterpreted someone's handwriting. 

Marvin Blonger, wife Molley Ann Beard, son Edward Blonger.

The 1900 census lists an Ollie M. Blonger, 9 years old, living with family of Harold Kervin in Summit Co., Utah. Ollie is listed as Harold's "s-in-law", i.e, sister-in-law. Harold's wife, 24-year-old Abbie, and young Ollie both gave their father's birthplace as Vermont and their mother's birthplace as Missouri. And just as importantly, Abbie was born in Illinois and Ollie in Montana, where Marvin lived in 1900. This was the first evidence that linked Marvin to his two daughters, and to a mother born in Missouri — perhaps Molley Ann Beard.

Marvin Blonger, wife Mollie Ann Beard, son Edward Blonger, daughters Abbie and Ollie.

An online index of California deaths provided the next clue. Abbie Kervin and Ollie Mae Buick both died in California, and in both cases their father's surname was reported as Blonger. This made their conection to Marvin virtually certain. (Marvin's death certificate, listing R. W. Buick as the informant, finally made it official.) For the mother's maiden name, Abbie's was given as Penoyer and Ollie's as Penard.

Penard — Beard. Could the same person who mistook Marvin for Marian have also mistaken Penard for Beard? It's not much of a stretch, so we hypothesize that Marvin's wife was actually named Molley Ann Penard.

Marvin Blonger, wife Molley Ann Penard, son Edward Blonger, daughters Abbie and Ollie.

But what happened to Molley? We have one remaining clue. No death certificate is listed in any of the online indexes, but a Rootsweb posting for Fairmount Cemetery in Denver (1890-1906) lists Mary M. Blonger, age 34, buried on April 22, 1893. Mary — Molley. That's a good match. But if her age is right, she would have been 13 when she was married. And was Marvin ever in Denver? He is the only one of the five Western Blongers who has not been found there. And Ollie was born in Montana in 1891. That's a problem, too. But — if Mary M. Blonger isn't Marvin's wife, who is she?

Marvin Blonger, wife Molley Ann Penard, son Edward Blonger, daughters Abbie and Ollie. But who is Denver's Mary M?

Shedding more dark than light on the subject is the 1885 Colorado state census.  That document lists a couple living in Arapahoe County as Edw. Blonger, 30, born in France, and Nellie Blonger, 24, born in Germany.  Is "Edw." really Marvin, whose middle name was Edwin and was 34 years old?  Is "Nellie" actually Molley?  And who thought they were from France and Germany?  Once again, more research is needed.

So. Marvin/Edw. Blonger, married Molley Ann/Mary M./Nellie Beard/Penard, had son Edward, and daughters Abbie and Ollie.

And now the ball. If Nellie was attending a ball in 1881 as a "young lady" — this has to mean unmarried, doesn't it? The "married people" were also listed — then Blonger was her maiden name, no? Even if one assumes that Edward Blonger was from France, and not related at all to our Blongers, would his wife from Germany also be named Blonger in 1881 — presumably unmarried and going to dances unaccompanied? What's going on here?

Then, of course, there's the Mollie Blonger who was arrested in Albuquerque in 1888 for running a house of ill-repute...



Much Ado About Nellie

Mystery solved, one anyway. Scott says that the Nellie participating in the 1881 ball was actually Simon's daughter Laura.


As for the census, I don't know, it's a stretch, but I suppose it could be Marvin (going by his middle name) and his niece Laura, going by her middle name.



News From The Professor

Rick Van Tassel, perhaps relative of the famous Albuquerque bartender and balloonist, comes through with a few new articles found in the course of his own research. Thanks Rick!

Date: 1889-03-05; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

Personal (News Article)
At the Exchange: Jas. Blonger, Glorieta

Date: 1891-11-07; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

Round About Town (News Article)
At the Exchange: James Blonger, Cerrillos;

Date: 1892-06-16; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

Personal (News Article)
At the Exchange: J. Blonger, Cerrillos

Date: 1892-10-24; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

Personal (News Article)
At the Exchange: Joe Blonger, Pecos

Date: 1892-03-28; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

Interesting. By 1889 Joe has been a fixture in the Cerrillos/Santa Fe area for many years. Now we find him up near Glorietta.


Notice for Publication
Notice is hereby given that the following-named settler has filed notice of his intention to make final proof in support of his claim, and that said proof will be made before register and receiver at Santa Fe, N.M., on April 20, 1892, viz: Joseph Blonger for the s w 1/4 s w 1/4 sec. 26 n 1/2 n w 1/4 n w 1/4 sec. 35 tp 19 n r 12 e.
He names the following witnesses to prove his continuous residence upon, and cultivation of, said land, viz:
J.H. Bullock, M. M. Winsor, O.C. Knox, H. D. Winsor, Glorieta, N.M.
A. L. Morrison

In case you're wondering, this claim is at about 8800 ft. near the mining area called Terrero. It is in the mountains northeast of Santa Fe, in the same area that we identified as the place where Joe probably met his wife, Carrie Viles. (Macho or El Matcho).

The Winsors mentioned are related to Carrie, obviously (that was her maiden name), but I can't remember the exact relationship.


Date: 1894-03-12; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

The Cochiti Boom (News Article)
Joe Blonger, formerly of Cerrillos, who has been prospecting for a year in Colorado and Nevada, left here for Cochiti this morning.

Here's the first indication Joe was prospecting outside of New Mexico during this period.


Date: 1894-03-10; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

Hotel Arrivals:
At the Exchange, Joe Blonger, Denver.

Date: 1897-12-15; Paper: Santa Fe Daily New Mexican

Minor City Topics (News Article)
Charles Edgerly of Thornton, Martin Windsor from the upper Pecos, Daniel Carter of Glorieta and Joseph Blonger of Bonanza are in town to attend the meeting of Carleton post, G. A. R.

Date: 1900-01-26; Paper: Santa Fe New Mexican

Personal Mention
J. A. Davis and Joseph Blonger started out for Cerrillos on biycycles this morning to work at the Cerrillos smelter.



Date: 1900-12-28; Paper: Santa Fe New Mexican

At the Exchange [hotel]: Joseph Blonger, Cerrillos

J.H. Bullock

What about that guy, noted above as witnessing Joe's claim? A worthy name, with some worthy candidates:


Bullock Portrait
J.H. Bullock, second from right
State Archives of Michigan

Bullock Amalgamator Shoe
Bullock Amalgamator Shoe


Calendars are going fast! Don't miss out.

Some unsolicited testimonials:

Col. Philip S. Van Cise
I have examined the 2007 Blonger Bros. calendar and found it to be acceptably executed, of reasonable quality, marginally informative, and available to the public at the affordable price of only $14.95. Shipping can be had for an additional fee, but handling is apparently unavailable.
Respectfully Yours,
Col. Philip S. Van Cise
United States Army, Ret.
Denver, CO
Bat Masterson
Nice calendar, boys. Almost as good as having a TV show. Not. Tough luck, tinhorns.
Bat Masterson
New York City, NY


New Albuquerque

Sam may have been fourth marshal of New Albuqerque, or fifth, depending on who you count, but he was definitely the last. Sam served as marshal through mid-July of 1882.

Albuquerque Morning Journal, May 27, 1882

That extra, useless word "New" will be dropped from the name of Albuquerque July 1st.



Readers of this column will recall the recent entry highlighting a number of items involving Joe Blonger, the sensitive mining man who spent a number of years digging in the Cerrillos Hills of New Mexico. These items came by way of Rick Van Tassel, one of our "affiliated correspondents." We first met Rick in our search for balloonist Park Van Tassel. Despite the fact that our Lou Blonger once pummeled Park Van Tassel into submission with his revolver, Rick offered to share the tidbits with us, for which we are very grateful.

The information came from a heretofore unknown (to us) newspaper database called, and like ProQuest Historical Newspapers, the Colorado Historical Newspaper Collection,, and Utah Digital Newspapers, it contains searchable clippings from thousands upon thousands of pages that otherwise would be outside the ability of even the most avid researcher to grind through on a microfilm reader. In the case of the Blongers, its special area of expertise is New Mexico. Undeterred by the $19.95 fee for a trial subscription, I paid my money and hit pay dirt immediately.

It seems the Armstrong Account, often featured in these pages as the essential overview to the life of the Blonger Bros., especially Joe, has proven accurate once again. The following passage confirms yet another incident from the account that had to be taken with a grain of salt until it could be verified by a primary source.

Santa Fe New Mexican, August 25, 1897

Last Evening at Dusk Joseph Blonger Shot and Killed Allan at the Bottom Dollar Mine.
Blonger Surrenders Himself and is Lodged in Jail—The Story of the Tragedy
Last night between 12 and 1 o'clock, Joseph Blonger knocked at Sheriff Kinsell's door and when Mr. Kinsell answered the summons said that he had killed Alex Allan, and surrendered himself to the law.
Mr. Blonger was lodged in jail and about 5 o'clock this morning Mr. Kinsell left for the Bottom Dollar mine, where the tragedy occurred, to get the remains of the dead man.
This forenoon Mr. Blonger was seen in the jail, and to a representative of the NEW MEXICAN told the following story of the killing:
"For over a month past, Alex Allan, Cyrus Smith and myself have worked and camped together at the Bottom Dollar mine. Everything had been pleasant among us, and while Smith and myself were working for Mr. Allan, no contract for any special length of time had been made, we were on good terms and no trouble of any kind had come up. Several days ago Mr. Allan run out of lumber and none could be gotten except from Chicago. Smith and myself wanted to come to Santa Fe until the lumber came, but to this Mr. Allan objected as he would then be left alone. We consented to stay until last Monday. On Saturday Mr. Allan came to Santa Fe and remained until Tuesday morning, when he came back to the mine, reaching there about 10 o'clock."
"Mr. Allan and Smith then walked to Cerrillos to attend to some business and I stayed to watch the camp. They came back just before dark. I had supper ready for them, and we sat down and ate. Just as we had finished Mr. Allan asked me what I was thinking and I told him I was going over to the Bonanza mine to get a team to take me into Santa Fe, and Smith said he would go along. This seemed to anger Allan and he said we were nice fellows to leave him all alone. To this Smith replied: 'We have to look after ourselves and if we want to go away you can't help yourself.' Allan jumped up from the table and drew his gun and covered us with it and said he would see if he could not keep us there. At this time Ed Andrews came up to spend the evening at the camp. Allan lowered the revolver for a moment and then threw it at Smith. It fell near me and I picked it up. Allan clinched with Smith and threw him to the ground. Allan picked up a rock and as he held it over Smith's head said: 'I'll brain you right here.' I don't know how it happened, but I fired at Allan and the bullet struck him either in the chin or just below. Allan sprang up and ran in circles, falling as he ran. In less than five minutes after I shot him he was dead. Before he died, I went to him and told him I was sorry, very sorry that the shooting had happened. He tried to answer me, but his breathing was so difficult and the blood was rushing from the wound so rapidly that I could not understand what he said."
"So soon as I saw he was dead, I got on a horse and went over to the Bandana mine and hitched to a wagon and drove to town, and gave myself up to Sheriff Kinsell. That is all there is to it."
From the manner in which Mr. Blonger tells as to how the killing occurred it is plain to be seen that at the time it happened he was so excited that he did not know what he was doing. He is very despondent over the matter and feels that in defending Smith he has committed a crime he can never atone for. It is certainly a sad case. It all happened in a moment of time, and in the excitement Mr. Blonger lost his judgment and reasoning powers.
This morning, about 11:30, Sheriff Kinsell arrived in the city with the remains of the dead man, which were immediately taken to Gable's undertaking rooms and prepared for burial. A view of the body disclosed the fact that two shots were fired at Mr. Allan in the excitement of the moment by Mr. Blonger, both of them taking effect. One ball struck just at the left corner of the mouth, cutting out all the upper teeth, the other hit the point of the right shoulder and ranged upward and passed through the neck, cutting the juggler vein.
Alex. Allan was well known in Santa Fe and up to a short time ago was deputy sheriff under Sheriff Kinsell, proving himself an efficient officer. About six weeks ago he left that position to work the Bottom Dollar mine in southern Santa Fe county, and was making good progress in developing the property when the unfortunate and deplorable affair of last night happened. He leaves a wife and one child to mourn his death.
Joseph Blonger, now in jail to await a hearing on the charge of murder, is a resident of the city, and is well and favorably known by many of the citizens. He enlisted in Company H, Twenty-fifth Michigan infantry, as a private in March, 1862, and served through the war, and was mustered out of the service on June 5, 1865, as a corporal. He joined Carleton post, G. A. R., of Santa Fe, August 15, 1889, and is still a member in good standing.

- SJ

After a short trial, the jury was instructed to return a verdict of not guilty, and Joe was free to go.

I don't know how to feel. On the one hand, Joe, who may be my favorite Blonger, is revealed as a killer — the incident recounted in his own words! He left Allan's wife a widow, his son without a father, a simple, bloody kind of tragedy common to the Wild West. Perhaps Joe was irreparably scarred.

On the other hand, the news is an exciting revelation. This is the first killing attributable to a Blonger, a grisly form of currency in the world of Wild West history — and it wasn't Sam or Lou. Sam was said, by Joe in 1927, to have killed several Native Americans while working as a scout in the 1860s. This is probably unverifiable. It was insinuated that Lou, at the height of his power, could, and did, order a man's murder, but we have found no evidence. Both were tough as nails, more than willing to face a gun or hand out a thrashing, experienced lawmen and detectives, colleagues of the Earps and Holliday, and especially Masterson, barmen, gamblers, cheaters and con men. Likely killer candidates.

But Joe was the solitary soul, Joe Straight Tongue, friend to Indian and white man alike. We thought we had become familiar with Joe during his time in the Santa Fe area. Upstanding mountaineer, hard worker, trustworthy. And so he was, apparently. This incident seems to have faded from communal memory as quickly as it arisen, and may never have been mentioned thereafter — save once, perhaps, as Scott said, in the Armstrong Account:

The most adventurous of all the Belonger men was Joe. Joe, a quiet, soft-spoken man who bothered no one, was a dangerous man to rile up. Joe shot and killed two men who tried to kill him. One was a hard-boiled desperado, and the other a close relative of Chief Cochise, the famous Apache leader.

Now, of course, Alexander Allan, as described above, hardly rates as a "desperado," though he may have been hard-boiled. It doesn't appear there was a deadly shootout so much as an unintentional shooting — based on the testimony.

In fact, the incident is not unlike Kitty Blonger's predicament in 1888 in Peach Springs, Arizona. When, in her room at the back of Somerset's saloon, a scuffle broke out between her "paramour" Dayton Fay and an unwelcome Charles Hill, Kitty shot Hill in the head. She walked on that charge as Joe walked on his.

Joe lived in the Santa Fe area for several more years.



Never Mind the Bullock...

I'm reviewing the Albuquerque clippings and a name popped out at me:

Albuquerque Evening Review, Aug. 15, 1882

J.H. Bullock, one of the Dawson House lodgers, was sweetly sleeping last night when a thief entered his room and strole his pantaloons, containing among other articles ten dollars in cash and a $100 check. The theft was discovered when Bullock began to dress himself. Payment on the check has been stopped. Bullock keeps a lunch counter on Railroad avenue.

Regarding which Bullock is the real J.H. Bullock (see the 11/17 entry), we find that the 1880 census places a Jno. H. Bullock, age 30, birthplace uncertain, an employee for a tie contractor at "Tie Camp" in the city of Sapello, San Miguel County, N.M. This is only about 30 miles from Terrero, the location of Joe's newly discovered claim.

That evidence would seem to eliminate, unfortunately, all of the choices, unless his age is off by a few years. And that is always possible.


An acquaintance of all three, Joe, Lou and Sam, perhaps? Interesting.

Then how about August 17, 1889, where the Aspen Weekly Times notes that John Bullock, "one of Aspen's old-timers," has returned after a long absence?

Cyrus Smith

And what about Cyrus Smith, Joe's fellow miner, the man who scuffled with Allan before Allan was shot by Joe?

Cyrus Smith was not an uncommon name. That said, the Montezuma Millrun of July 22, 1882 mentions a Cyrus Smith taking mineral samples from the Errikson mine in Summit County. In August of 1897, the Fairplay Flume calls Cyrus Smith and J.P. Nichols "Cripple Creek capitalists" looking over the camp at Fairplay.

Coincidentally, the same article has Dick Ballinger, connected to Simon through the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy, and the "Misses" coming to town from Como to attend a ball.



Who Was Alexander Allan?

Not just nobody, as it turns out. In fact, when Joe unleashed the fatal shot at the Bottom Dollar mine, he may have inadvertently put an end to a feud that went back 13 years.

In the past couple of days I've been able to gather some interesting information from historical newspaper sources and from Bill Baxter, expert on all matters concerning mining and miners in the Cerrillos Hills.

Alex Allan was one of four Allans who came from Illinois to the Cerrillos Hills in the early 1880s, a little after Joe settled there. Although several news reports state that James M., John D., Alexander H., and Clarence N. were brothers, the census record is not so clear. When Clarence died of typhoid in 1890, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that he was from Morris, Ill., that his father's name was William, and that his elder brother Alex would accompany the body back home. But instead of showing the four boys growing up in the same family, records from Grundy County indicate that Alexander had a father named David, and James and John were sons of Thomas. More research is needed in the Morris area to solve this, but it certainly appears that except for James and John, the Allans were cousins, at best.

According to Bill, "Their greatest significance in NM is that the Allans, together with C.G. Storey, were the major players in the beginnings of the US turquoise boom of the 1890s. Turquoise fell from fashion in the early 1900s and didn't return until the 1950s, which love affair we are still experiencing."

None of that matters to the feud, though. That appears to have started in 1884, according to the following story that appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Watch carefully for the name of the individual who threatened the Allan family.

Chicago Tribune, Aug. 15, 1884

Alleged Conspiracy to Murder the Entire Family of a Former Chicagoan.
SANTA FE, N.M., Aug. 14. - [Special] - Santa Fé is enjoying a lively sensation today founded on an alleged conspiracy to murder the entire family of John D. Allan, of smelter fame. It is charged by Allan that Cyrus Smith was at the head of the alleged plot, aided by two strangers who game the names of John Martin and William Sill, and possibly one or two others whose names are not made public. Smith began the erection of the Santa Fé smelter about eighteen months ago, and, before it was completed, sold his interest to Allan, who came here from Chicago early last year. The sale took place last August, when Allan made a small payment down and gave his note for $5,000, which has not been paid. Smith has been living in Silver City, and came to Santa Fé three weeks ago for the purpose of effecting a settle with Allan, and it is charged that he took up his rifle and said: "I intent to have money or blood. I don't care to live much longer anyway, and I am willing to risk my life in getting satisfaction if I have to murder the whole Allan family." Although Smith did not approach Allan and demand a settlement at this time, still the latter became fearful of his life and remained at home, and his residence has been in a state of siege the last ten days. Smith failing to find Allan on the streets, it is charged that he had arranged with his pals to make an attack upon the house last night, murder J.D. Allan and his brother Alexander and Mrs. Allan, and carry off the children and hold them till a ransom was forthcoming from Mrs. Allan's brothers. It is alleged that Smith had a secret interview with Jack Bearinger at 8 last night; that he produced the two two-ounce vials of chloroform and gave them to Jack with directions to chloroform the family and give a signal when all was ready, at which Smith and his pals were ready to come in, do their bloody work, and carry off the children. Jack, being a detective in disguise, told the foregoing story, and Allan was prepared with a posse to receive visitors. The attack was not made, but Smith and the others were arrested early this morning and are now in jail. Smith, it is alleged, admits having shadowed Allan's house, says he feared Allan was going away, and that the wanted to force a settlement. He emphatically denies all charges of threats to murder, and says Allan is scheming to cheat him out of the amount due him. He also freely charges Allan with having burned the smelter to obtain insurance on it. Public opinion is much against Smith for his impudent talk and actions, but it is generally believed that his intention was only to force a settlement. Smith is about 55 years old and formerly lived in Joplin, Mo., and Neutral City, Kas. A preliminary examination of the case is set for Monday next.

(According to clips provided by Bill Baxter, the newly completed works of the Chicago & Santa Fe Smelting Company were destroyed by arson on April 1, 1884.)

So, Cyrus Smith, the man whom Alexander Allan hired to work in his Bottom Dollar mine, the man whom Alexander Allan covered with a pistol and threatened to brain with a rock, had previously threatened to kill not only Alexander Allan, but also his brother and brother's family.

But can we make that assumption? Could Cyrus Smith, smelter owner, have fallen so far and so fast that he was forced, at the advanced age of 68 or so, to work in a god-forsaken mine for a man he once threatened with death? Or could there be two Cyrus Smiths?

Unfortunately (for dramatic purposes), it's the latter. Actually, the man involved in the Blonger shooting incident was not Cyrus Smith, but Silas Smith, a point that is hinted at in the next day's clipping, which lists "S. W. Smith" as a witness at the coroner's inquest. Further research reveals that Silas W. Smith sued James Allen in 1898 for unpaid wages at the Bottom Mine. Case closed.

One thing that is certain is that Alexander Allan had friends in high places, including one whose name is very familiar to readers of the BlongerBlog. That would be his hunting and fishing buddy, Page Otero, brother of Miguel Otero, who became governor of New Mexico Territory the same year Joe Blonger shot Alex Allan, and who later authored the disputed Otero Letter. Several newspaper items report on extended trips into the mountains made by Alex Allan, Page Otero and others.


The Bottom Dollar

There are a couple of interesting things to say about the scene of Alex Allan's murder, the Bottom Dollar.

As it happens, one of the very first Blonger references we found online was this tidbit from the New Mexican:

The New Mexican, April 21, 1883

Discovery of Old Workings, Stone Hammers and Chisels.
Messrs. Blonger and Whalen, who have the contract of sinking a shaft in the Bottom Dollar mine, near Cerrillos, made an interesting discovery on Monday last. While working at a depth of 110 feet they dropped into an old tunnel made by the Spaniards no less than 200 years ago and out of the debris they took a number of stone hammers, chisels and picks and found every evidence that this mine belongs to the same class of sliver producing mines as does the Mina del Tiro property, which is the most perfect Spanish mine yet discovered in this part of the country. These stone tools were left in the mine by the Pueblo Indians, and have lain there since the revolt of 1680, at which time the Indians filled up the mines with rubbish to hide them and prevent the Spaniards from discovering and working them. The owners of this mine, who are in Santa Fe, are very much gratified of this evidence of the former value of the Bottom Dollar property. Messrs. Blonger and Whalen will resume work to-day and will bring these old chisels and hammers to Santa Fe to-morrow or the day following.

Evidently, Joe was laboring once more in this mine fourteen years later in 1897. Joe was fifty years old by then.

What's more, Bill Baxter informs us:

The Bottom Dollar, under its earlier name of Santa Rosa, is the oldest New Mexico heartland mine on which we have any documentation. 1709. It was a lead-silver mine. That it was among the first and was still being worked among the last mines is pretty remarkable. About 15 years ago the State filled the old hole to eliminate it as a hazard.

-Bill Baxter

What's more, the Allan's and the Bottom Dollar were important players in the tourquoise craze, fueled by Tiffany and others, that began in the late 1880s.



Joe's Trial

Santa Fe New Mexican, August 26, 1897

Joseph Blonger Held in the Action of the Grand Jury and Gives Bonds in the Sum of $2,500.
This afternoon at 2:30 o'clock the preliminary hearing of Joseph Blonger, charged with killing Alex. Allan, was heard before Justice Garcia. Three witnesses were called, Ed. Andrews, S. W. Smith and Dr. Massie.
Dr. Massie was first placed on the stand and testified that he had examined the body; that two were found, and he described the nature and character of them; that the ball which cut the jugular vein caused the death; but could not tell which one was fired first.
The testimony of Andrews and Smith corroborated the story of the killing as told by Blonger and printed in the NEW MEXICAN yesterday.
Mr. Blonger then waived examination, and was placed under bonds in the sum of $2,500 to await the action of the grand jury.
At 4 o'clock Mr. Blonger was released, having filed a bond in the sum named, by John Andrews, C. A. Schenrich, and and J. H. Blain.

Santa Fe New Mexican, December 28, 1898

Jury in Blonger Murder Case Instructed to Return Verdict of Not Guilty — Editor Gould Fined for Criminal Libel — Other Matters.
In the Santa Fe county district court, late last evening, the trial of case No. 2934, Territory of New Mexico vs. Joseph Blonger, murder, was finished and the judge instructed the jury to bring in a verdict of not guilty. C. A. Spiess for the plaintiff. A. B. Renchan and R. C. Gortner for the defendant


A Word about Digitized Newspapers

A series of Albuquerque newspapers from 1882 and 1883 (among other years) have recently been added to the subscription service I searched these issues on microfilm a couple of years ago, but now it appears they are migrating to the Web, which is great news! Here is the current lineup:

Albuquerque Daily Journal, daily, from 1882-01-31 to 1882-02-02 (4 pages each)

Albuquerque Morning Journal, The, daily, from 1882-02-04 to 08, 1882-02-15, 1882-03-01 to 05, 1882-04-05, 07, 09, 13, 14, 19, 1882-05-04, 06, 10, 11, 12, 19 (4 pages)

Albuquerque Weekly Journal 1882-12-01

Albuquerque Daily Journal, weekly, from 1882-12-03 to 1883-04-15 (8 pages)

Albuquerque Journal, weekly, 1883-01-21, 1883-01-29, and 1883-04-08 (8 pages)

Albuquerque Morning Journal, daily, from 1882-10-04 and well beyond (4 pages)

The bad news, for anyone who reads this blog and depends, as we do, on digitization to provide essential clues, is that in this entire corpus, the database lists exactly ONE reference to “Blonger,” despite the fact that there are literally hundreds. We know there are, because we’ve already found them on microfilm. The microfilm prints of these Albuquerque papers are in bad shape and difficult for any OCR program (the line it managed to find is digitized as “V I Bbal Blonger. A pas, was procured to the aft.-r button with oi, whieh i- for)”, but it’s still kind of depressing to think of all those lost references in other newspapers that we will never find.


...After further investigation: The digitized copies of the Albuquerque Journal are execrable -- much worse than the ones I reviewed on microfilm and printed copies of, and pretty much worthless as a research tool, unfortunately.



More from the Professor

A couple more tidbits from Rick Van Tassel:

Santa Fe Daily New Mexican, October 3, 1889

Joseph Blanger, miner at Tesuque, is in the city buying supplies.

Santa Fe Daily New Mexican, October 8, 1895

Round About Town
Bert Easley and a surveying party, which includes Tom Goodwin and the mountaineer, Joe Blonger, left to-day for a three weeks' trip to the Picuris and Las Truchas regions in Taos county. They go on government survey work, but for fear of encountering a bear Tom Goodwin took his rifle.

Joe Blonger, Mountaineer

November 2006



Genealogy - History - Gang - Posse - Evening Review
The Grafters Club - Novelty Emporium - Blonger Bros. Fake Restaurant