History Library


El Molino

By Sam Sanchez, Sr.


Since 1862, The property of any man who fought for the south had been subject to forfeiture and sale. Almost as soon as the California Column reached New Mexico in 1862, the indictments for treason began. Joab Houghton, District Attorney at Santa Fe and U.S. Marshall Abraham Cutler were eager to bring charges. Among those libeled in 1862, were Samuel Mcgoffin, Simeon Hart, Joseph Crosby, John and Henry Gillett, and James Wiley Mcgoffin - all of El Paso. Property involved in the proceedings was located all the way from Canutillo to Fort Quitman and included the valuable assets of Simeon Hart’s mill.

Actual confiscation began when cases were called in the Third Judicial District Court of New Mexico against individuals in “armed rebellion” against the United States. Unites States District Attorney Theodore D. Wheaton brought the suit. Judge Joab Houghton ordered United States Marshall Abraham Cutler to attach the property and notify the owners that the court would hear them on November 6, 1865. Cutler advertised the confiscation proceedings, for two weeks, in El Paso, San Elizario, Las Cruces and Mesilla. These formalities having been duly completed, he proceeded to the actual selling. On December 18, 19 and 20, 1865, he stood at the Plaza in El Paso and conducted a public auction. Among the individuals from San Elizario, who were there for the bidding, were Luis Cardis and Charles E. Ellis. He, Ellis, bought parts of Hart’s mill and set up his milling business in San Elizario. By 1867, his grist and roller mill was in full operation. He married Teodora Alarcon of San Elizario and involved himself in local politics. He served as Tax Assessor and Collector in 1866, County Treasurer in 1870 and Sheriff in 1871. In 1870, he was also a member of Captain Gregorio Garcia’s Texas Rangers. His wife Teodora ran their businesses during Charles’ long departures. By the early 1870’s they were considered wealthy and lived in a large house initially owned by Jose Ignacio Ronquillo, First Commander of the Presidio during the Mexican period ( 1821-1848 ) and “Jefe Politico” of San Elizario.

“El Molino, as the town folk called the Grist and Roller Mill, flourished. Farming people from San Elizario and other communities would load their wagons with wheat and corn, deliver it to “El Molino”, where it was ground and sacked for a fee or sold directly to the mill for private labeling.

The salt controversy of 1877 left a bitter taste on the residents of San Elizario. Charles Ellis became one of the victims. Teodora, his widow, managed to work “El Molino” for a few years afterwards.

In later years, Don Gaspar Giron, a prominent San Elizario resident, owned and operated El Molino. He was a shrewd businessman, selling stock in his company to finance the expansion of his operation. He produced several brands of flour, but the most popular seller was “La Harina Del Aguila” (The Eagle Brand)

The completion of Elephant Butte dam and reservoir in 1916, ushered in the invasion of cotton to the fields of El Paso’s upper and lower valley. The fields of corn and wheat gave way to a new era of agriculture and El Molino’s rollers became idle. With the lack of attention, El Molino succumbed to the effects of time. Now all you can see of El Molino is this old relic of a time gone by.

To the people of San Elizario it is a long standing monument. To the tourists who happen to stop and marvel at the old relic, it is still another manifestation of an era long gone.






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