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Estancia, NM 87016

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The Gringo & Greaser

When New Mexico became a U.S. Territory, county lines were drawn and county seats named. Changes were made just about every time the legislature met, but Estancia remained part of Valencia County until 1903, when Torrance County was created with Estancia as its seat. Los Lunas was the seat of Valencia County, and the biggest village on this side of the mountains was Manzano.

When the AT&SF railroad entered New Mexico, in 1879, it put an end to the sleepy isolation of past centuries. Lots of people came here to seek their fortunes. Around the beginning of 1880, a thirty-something young man from Albany, New York, with a small letterpress, a font of miniscule italic type, and some fancy capitals and dingbats, arrived in Manzano. His name, in the abbreviated style of the time, was Chas. L. Kusz, Jr.

He came with a sharp intellect, a satirical sense of humor, and dreams of empire. He was the first representative of the Fourth Estate to meddle in the affairs of the local citizenry in this valley, and he did it up fine and gave them all seconds without extra charge. He managed to survive for four years before someone shot and killed him, but that’s another story.

He apparently decided to ruffle everyone’s feathers at once when he chose the name for his newspaper. He called it “The Gringo & Greaser,” highly insulting terms Anglos and Hispanics used to describe each other, and he published a four-page edition, t

“There is more money invested outside of Manzano than in any other City in the Territory, or perhaps in the world,” he wrote. That’s still true today, as is another comment he made: “It is famous for its weather, hardly ever being without a spell.”

On August 18, 1883, Editor Kusz published an “Extra Edition” of his paper, thus leaving us a contemporary account of the “War” that had taken place the day before.

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