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East Mountain Historical Society Honored for Oral History Project

The East Mountain Historical Society has received the Oral History Project of 2012 award for its "Great People, Great Stories" interviews conducted 2011-12 among East Mountain residents.

The award was presented to Kris Thacher, oral history project coordinator, and Denise Tessier, EMHS president, by noted oral historian Rose Diaz of Origins and Legacies Historical Services. The honor came during a three-hour celebration June 3 honoring the 15 East Mountain-area residents who had shared their life stories through the "Great People, Great Stories" oral history pilot project. The event was held at the historic church in Tijeras and adjacent Luis Garcia Park.

During that event, visitors were overflowing out the church door as each of those interviewed received a binder from EMHS containing a recognition certificate, honorary membership in the East Mountain Historical Society, a DVD of each person's oral history interview and two copies of a full-color booklet produced by EMHS. The booklet featured two pages of photos and a summary of the lives of each of the 15 interview subjects. The participants were also featured in a slide show by EMHS.

Before the presentation, the honorees heard a short talk from Diaz, who in turn honored the East Mountain Historical Society by announcing that "Great People, Great Stories" had been named project of the year.

The project also was noted the following week by the Bernalillo County Commission, when Tessier was recognized for preserving history as a writer and lecturer, including service as president of EMHS, which is celebrating its 20th year, and for helping to launch the oral history project with Thacher.

The oral history project was made possible via a grant from the county's Neighborhood Association Outreach Grant Program, which was used to train 10 community historians, purchase recording equipment and create the binder, booklet and DVDs. The East Mountain Area Coalition of Neighborhoods agreed to act as sponsor so that EMHS could conduct the project using the grant.

The commemorative booklet "Great People, Great Stories" was created for the interview subjects and their families, and features Mike Anaya and Rita Anaya Davis of Moriarty, Juan Candelaria of Cedar Crest / San Antonito, Lois Cavasos of Stanley, Marie Herrera Dresser of Carnuel, Andy Gonzales of San Antonio, Ciria Gonzales of La Madera, Angie Gutierrez of Chilili, Jim Hanlon of Sandia Park, Eloy Jaramillo of Carnuel, Lillian Lincoln of Tijeras, Lewis McComb, from the easternmost edge of Bernalillo County, Rachel Maldonado of Juan Tomas/Yrissari, Fidel Padilla of Abo and Rita Loy Horton Simmons of Edgewood.

Oral history committee members who conducted the interviews and wrote summaries for the booklet included Thacher, Tessier, Nancy Carpenter, Anabel Sanchez, Beverly Neville, Christine Smith, Jim Hanlon, Danita Luker, and Carol Frederick. Carpenter created the slide show and some of the still photographs for the booklet, which was edited and designed by Melissa Howard and printed by Kathy Rich, all members of EMHS.

Eventually, these oral histories will be made public and archived at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico as additions to the East Mountain Historical Society collection. First, however, they must be transcribed, and although the pilot project grant period is ended, EMHS intends to continue conducting oral histories. For more information and for photos about the June 3 event, visit our newsletters page.

About the East Mountain Historical Society

The East Mountain Historical Society (EMHS) is a group dedicated to preserving and documenting history in the Sandia, Manzano, and Manzanita Mountain towns and villages east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, including portions of Route 66 and the historic Turquoise Trail.

As reflected in our logo, we also are dedicated to preserving “la cultura de las montañas” – the culture of the mountains.

This area of interest includes the villages of Tijeras, Carnuel, San Antonio, San Antonito, Cañoncito, Sedillo, Cedro, Juan Tomas, Yrisarri, Escobosa, and Chilili, as well as surrounding areas that have family or historic ties to these towns and villages.

Established in 1992, the goals of the East Mountain Historical Society are to:

  • Collect historical data pertaining to the East Mountains.
  • Conserve, preserve, and protect historic buildings, archaeological sites, and historically significant landscapes.
  • Enhance public appreciation and understanding of East Mountain history and culture.

Our Members

EMHS is a volunteer organization made up of dues-paying members, plus honorary members who pay no dues and have lived in the area 50 years or more. Its financing is derived mostly through membership dues and donations. It is a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization.

Our Collections

The society collects historical data through interviews with older residents, copying old photographs and documents, and researching information in state libraries and archives.

Our Events

EMHS holds or participates in at least four free events a year to share historic information with the public. These events include public talks by old time residents and other experts, as well as musical events that have included dance lessons and concerts by musicians playing traditional songs and instruments. These gatherings are taped and archived.

Our Accomplishments

In 1993, the Society helped initiate and support completion of a historic building survey of the East Mountain area by University of New Mexico professor Chris Wilson. The survey included several places considered eligible for the Historic Register or for Historic District Status. Copies of this report are available for purchase at EMHS public events.

In 1995, with a $1,000 grant from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, the Society copied about 200 old photographs loaned by members of 23 East Mountain families as part of a preservation campaign and future historical exhibit.

In 1996, the Society secured a $4,000 grant from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities to print photographs and create a 12-panel exhibit describing East Mountain history and culture. This portable exhibit has been displayed in the old Santo Niño Church in Tijeras, the Cañon de Carnue Land Grant Hall, local community centers, the Tijeras Library, and in schools and other community sites.

In 1997, the Society, in cooperation with the Village of Tijeras, applied for and secured a grant for transportation enhancement funding under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The $32,000 grant was used to structurally renovate the Tijeras Historical Church (Santo Niño). EMHS had used Santo Niño in the early 1990s for historical and cultural exhibits, and EMHS volunteers participated in cleaning and repairing the old church.

In 2012, New Mexico's Centennial year, the Society's Great People, Great Stories was named Oral History Project of 2012 by Origins and Legacies Historical Services.

The Society and its members have been involved in the preservation and protection of archaeological ruins located on or near the Sandia Mountains, including those at Paa-Ko. Significantly, the Society was part of a coalition, led by member Louise Waldron, which worked tirelessly for the preservation of Open Space acreage at Tres Pistolas in Tijeras Canyon. Ongoing efforts are directed now at the Selva Ruin Site, also in Tijeras Canyon. Most recently, the Society actively served as part of the coalition that helped convince state and local representatives to purchase 420 acres of private land near Cedar Crest, which more than doubled Gutierrez Canyon (Milne) Open Space, an area of historic interest.

Our Awards

Outstanding Volunteer Organization, 1996 (Albuquerque Conservation Association)

Our Goals

Our immediate primary goal is to secure a space that would serve as a permanent repository for East Mountain history collections, photos, and historical documents, and which would serve as a museum, visitor’s center, and EMHS home so we may:

  • Continue collecting photos/oral histories/historical documents.
  • Share these collections with the public for the purpose of research.
  • Research and preserve documents on land grants and homesteads.
  • Document and preserve genealogies of families in the East Mountains.
  • Exhibit photos, oral histories, and historical documents.
  • Host special programs/speakers.
  • Have a space for regular EMHS board meetings.

Membership Benefits

  • Quarterly newsletter
  • Advance notice of public events
  • Members-only field trips to historic local sites


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