SALLIE LUCY CHISUM

53372030_127593492503Sallie Lucy Chisum (1858-1934)
The Hostess with the Mostess

In her words: 
Beware
Beware of flatteries soothing act tho lips are warm but color the heart

In others’ words: “Sallie was a blond, blue eyed charmer who was the apple of every cowpoke’s eye from eastern Texas to the New Mexico/Arizona territory.”

Bio: Sallie Lucy Chisum was born into a family of cattle magnates and ranchers, with land in both Texas and New Mexico. In 1875, Chisum’s mother and sister died and her father became embroiled in a family dispute. Eventually James’ brother John, another successful rancher, convinced him to move to New Mexico to help manage his ranch there. Just before Christmas in 1877, Chisum’s father, James Thomas Chisum, packed up Chisum, her two younger brothers, and a small herd of cattle and they made the trek to John’s ranch in South Spring, New Mexico. When they finally arrived, a conflict between various cattle magnets was finally coming to a head; this was to be called the Lincoln County War.

Soon after settling into life on the ranch, Chisum became the hostess on the property and stayed in that position until John died. It was the custom of the day to provide food and board to any person passing through the area, though without inquiring too much about what the person had been involved in. The hospitality was the most important part. It was because of this custom that Chisum because acquainted with some infamous folk, such as Billy the Kid and accused murderers Billy Morton and Frank Baker. Through Chisum’s detailed diary, we know that she was friendly with Billy the Kid (he supposedly would work for her uncle on occasion); it is actually through her personal diary that we get most of our information and knowledge about Billy the Kid. While there is speculation that Chisum and the Kid’s relationship may have been more than just friends, there is no evidence that anything actually happened. If anything, we can deduce that the Kid may have wanted a relationship with Chisum, but she turned him down. We don’t know exactly when the friends parted ways.

In 1880, Chisum married her first husband, with whom she would have two sons, and divorced in 1895, potentially because he mishandled her uncle’s books. Chisum married her second husband sometime after this, but eventually divorced him as well. The town where she resided had been called Stegman (after her second husband), but was renamed Artesia after the first Artesian well was drilled on Chisum’s land. In addition to coming into a large inheritance upon her uncle’s death in 1885, Chisum was a successful cattlewoman, the first postmistress of Artesia, and sponsored over 30 orphaned children.