Cowboy Shattucks in New Mexico

by Philip Shaddock


The caption on this photograph says "Dolph Shattuck and his pony in the back yard of Downs' Ranch - Dark Canon Farm - Gaudaloupe Mts New Mexico.


When I found the image at the left in the New York public library it upended my mental image of the Shattucks, who I had long viewed as pilgrims, farmers and city dwelling civic leaders in horse drawn carriages and later motor cars.

But in discovering who Dolph Shattuck was and where his family came from I discovered that the saga of the Shattucks in America continued to play out in its farthest reaches, in this case New Mexico in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For me the story always begins in west Somerset in England, jumps across the ocean to the Massachusetts Bay colony, and ends up somewhere else in America. My first thought was: is this a Shattuck wanderer who got lost in the vast extent of the American West?

I was wrong.

I discovered that Dolph had a brother "Ned" who was the local sheriff and judge. A father who was a Civil War veteran, local superintendent of schools and rancher. And he had a grandfather who was a university president, law professor, and the supreme court justice of the state of California. This was no vagabond cowboy blowing in the wind like a tumbleweed. He was descended from solid, educated and socially prominent Shattuck stock. And helped make this very much a Shattuck part of the country.


Captain John Summerfield Shattuck's grave monument.

My search for his identity first took me on a virtual visit to a remote mountain side cemetery. What I found was a tiny cemetery in New Mexico, apparently with only three occupants, including Captain John Summerfield Shattuck (1837-1900), his wife Juliet Pergee "Julia" (Lyons) and his wife's sister Maria H. Lyons. Here is what Richard Wilkinson has written about the cemetery in Eddy County, New Mexico.

"The Shattucks were a well known family in these mountains. Captain Shattuck was the first school Superintendent (in Eddy County?) but for sure in the schools in the mountains. There were two schools, one in Dog Canyon at the El Paso Gap and another in Rocky Arroyo. I assume Shattuck attained his title as Captain from the Civil War. He certainly picked a beautiful place to rest his mortal remains. J.S. Shattuck Captain Oct 1, 1837 to Apr 18, 1900,  Julia P. Shattuck Mar 20, 1834 to Nov 30, 1920 If I had known thou couldst have died, I might have wept for thee, but I forgot wenst by thy side, that couldst mortal be. Mariah H. Lyon Mar 16, 1832 to Dec 28, 1919."

Richard Wilkinson in his notes on the remote graveyard provides the GPS location.

The question for me was "how did these Shattucks find their way to this remote corner of the west?" 

Genealogical research revealed the ancestral trail. Dolph, his father and his brother were descendants of the Shattuck pilgrim founder William Shattuck (1622-1672). I have provided a brief précis of Dolph's ancestors on the page that features the San Francisco Shattucks. Dolph had a solid New England pedigree. His great grandfather was a revolutionary soldier. His second great grandfather had married into a family that came over on the May Flower. And his fourth great grandfather was an entrepreneur businessman and civic leader. 


Captain J. S. Shattuck (1837-1900). The picture was taken in the 1860s when John was in his twenties. He looks a lot like his father, especially in the shape and expression of his eyes.

Dolph's father, Captain John Summerfield Shattuck (1837-1900) was born in Mississippi. His father David Olcott Shattuck (1800-1892) had been a peddlar, construction worker, preacher, elder of the church, lawyer, law professor, president of a College, failed candidate for governor of Mississippi, finally Supreme Court Judge, rancher, vineyard owner and sometime cotton grower in Mexico. Imagine having to grow up in the shadow of that father. 

In 1852, at  the age of 15, John Shattuck had moved from Mississippi to his father's home in Sonoma, California. His father did not want to have his children live in San Francisco, which had boomed during the gold rush, become chaotic and lawless, and now was being tamed by his father in his roles as judge and chief justice. He grew up in beautiful Sonoma. He probably got a great education there as his father was a literate man who had helped design the curriculum at the college he headed. 

Around 1860, when the civil war was brewing, John left for the South with his brother Albert Gallatin Shattuck (1841-1916). He got caught up in the Civil War. He was commissioned as a captain in the cavalry. He joined Power's Regiment Volunteer Calvary. Since the regiment was from Mississippi, I think John and his brother Albert may have returned to the old family home in Mississippi and mustered out of the war in Texas. 

The Internet site acadiansingray.com provides a synopsis of where John's regiment fought in the Civil War:

Colonel Powers began trying to organize a regiment in December, 1863. About March, 1864, six companies of the 18th Louisiana Cavalry Battalion, one independent Louisiana company, and three Mississippi companies were placed under Powers' command. The new regiment is attributed to both Louisiana and the regular Confederate army. Some sources erroneously call the unit the 4th Louisiana Cavalry Regiment. On April 7, [1864], the regiment defeated an enemy force near Port Hudson and captured an artillery piece. The men performed picket and outpost duty between Clinton, Louisiana, and Woodville, Mississippi, during the remainder of the spring. In June, the regiment moved to Jackson, Mississippi, as part of Colonel John Scott's cavalry brigade. The men skirmished with an enemy force moving against the city from Vicksburg, July 5-7, and pursued the enemy on their retreat back to Vicksburg. In late July or early August, the regiment returned to the Clinton area. For the next several months, the men performed picket and outpost duty again. On October 5, they helped drive an enemy force from near Jackson, Louisiana, to St. Francisville. The next day, the regiment moved toward Woodville to oppose another enemy raid. Later in the month, the six Louisiana companies in the regiment were transferred to Gober's Regiment Mounted Infantry. The Mississippi companies went into another command. Powers eventually commanded a Mississippi cavalry regiment that Union sources confused with this mixed unit.


Julia Olcott Shattock (1871-1929) shown with her first husband Walter Edward Thayer (1853-1915). Ollie inherited her middle name from her great grandmother Dorothy Olcott (1767-1838). Her grandfather Judge David Shattuck had "Olcott" as his middle name. 

The Civil War must have been the major event of John Shattuck's life, as we can well image, because he called himself "Captain J. S. Shattuck" for the rest of his life, and that is the form of his name on his gravestone. After the war he moved to Byrds Store, Texas where he taught school. In 1870 he married another school teacher, Juliet Pergee "Julia" Lyons (1834-1920). They had their three children:

Julia Olcott "Ollie" Shattuck 1871–1929
Edwin Summerfield "Ned" Shattuck 1875–1963
Walter Randolph "Dolph" Shattuck 1877–1950

Byrds Store is 145 miles southwest of Dallas. Sometime before 1875 the family moved to Palestine, Anderson County about 242 miles due east of Byrds Store. John's brother Albert settled in Fort Worth. Dolph Shattuck and his brother Ned were born in Anderson County. John taught school in Palestine.

Around 1895 the Captain Shattuck family, along with their daughter and her husband, and Julia's sister Mariah moved to Dark Canyon in the Gaudaloupe Mountains in New Mexico. Mariah was known as "Aunt Pop" and was apparently very religious. 

This Google Maps location shows the Gaudaloupe Mountains and the landscape where the family now lived.

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Dark+Canyon+Rd,+Carlsbad,+NM+88220,+USA/@32.0051877,-104.5135531,3a,60y,315.87h,87.71t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1srvdQ7p0V2ZGPQ0q1lngO2g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x86e387ad5b2bc38f:0x6426124969cf850c!8m2!3d32.2755329!4d-104.453401?hl=en

In 1893 J.S. was elected as the first County School Superintendent of Eddy County. 

They moved to Seven Rivers where John and Julia taught school until 1897. In 1892 John purchased the Edwards Farm in Rocky Arroyo and five years later sold the farm to William Jones for $1 and moved to the homestead of his son, Dolph, in the Guadalupe Mountains.

Shattuck Ranch

In the book Eddy County, New Mexico to 1981, published by the Southeastern New Mexico Historical Society, Julia Olcott Shattuck's daughter Eula Irene Thayer (1896-1971) provides an account of cowboy life in New Mexico at the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century.

In the early days before I was married I lived on a ranch in the Guadalupe Mountains. I remember some of the good times of my life. Special days were Christmas and Fourth of July. It did not make any difference how cold the December weather was, or how deep the snow, Santa Claus always found our home with toys for each child, and candy, nuts and an orange for every stocking hanging by the fireplace.

On Fourth of July we had a three day celebration either at Westwater or the X Ranch with many games such as tournament races, horse racing, etc., with a platform dance each night. In my family there were two boys and six girls, so some of the older girls could ride with the cowboys. I loved the outdoors so my sister Mabel and I would ride with the cowboys. When I was fifteen years old, my Daddy bought me a shopmade man's saddle, and gave it to me at the Westwater Fourth of July celebration, making me the first girl in the mountains to have a stride saddle. I was very proud of it.

We had dances at some of the ranches once or twice a year with dancing starting about sundown, and lasting all night, with a break about at midnight for a big feed, cakes, pies and coffee, and sometimes a barbeque.

We had a big orchard at the X Ranch with apples, apricots, peaches, pears, grapes, etc., and English and Black walnuts, Almonds and Pecan trees. Mother always had a good garden, and canned fruit and vegetables all summer, and with our beef and pork, we did not have to come to town for food very often. 

Shattuck Ranch

Dolph Shattuck's brother Ned rose to prominence in the county. He became the county sheriff.


Ned Shattuck (white shirt) and his deputy Ben Raten (to his left) in front of the county sheriff's office with a large collection of illegal moonshine during prohibition ca. 1923. The image is from a local history book, photo provided by Gay Hardin Hall.


Judge Ned Shattuck about 1945.

Ned was to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather D.O. Shattuck and his uncle Frank William Shattuck. He became a judge. 

There is probably not a genetic basis for this flowering of the Shattuck judicial legacy in the cowboy country of New Mexico. We must assume it is cultural. 

In the page on the San Francisco Shattucks I have excerpted a story that appeared in a Forth Worth, Texas newspaper about Albert Shattuck's attendance at a family reunion in Sonoma, California in 1889. Ned's father would have been 52 years old, Dolph 12 years old, and Ned 14 years old. We cannot be sure they were present at the Sunday dinner with the family gathered around. But Albert says the missing members of the family were in Sonoma shortly afterward. What an impression and inspiration it would have been to meet grandfather Judge D. O. Shattuck. It must have been at the same time a cultural clash between the big city dwellers and the wide open range ranchers.



Ned Shattuck's home on his ranch on Robinson Draw about 1932.


A picture of the family of Dolph's wife Susie. Her father, William Edwin Bass (1854-1925) is seated. Dolph is in the back row. His wife Susie is on his left. Her sister Maggie Bass is on his right. 

Dolph is described as a pioneer rancher in the Queen Area of the Gaudalupe Mountains. He apparently operated his ranch throughout his life. He married Susan Iona "Susie" Bass (1882-1971) in 1900. 

Dolph had a large number of people at his funeral in 1950, making him famous in his own corner of the vast American West. The local newspaper, The Daily Current-Argus, Carlsbad, Eddy County, New Mexico, published this account of his life on its front page. 

"Walter Randolph (Dolph) Shattuck was the son of Captain John Summerfield and Julia Pergee (Mother Shad) Lyons Shattuck.

W.R. (Dolph) Shattuck, 73, who was a pioneer rancher in the Queen area of the Guadalupe Mountains, well known throughout Eddy County and in the state, and a resident of the county for 65 years, died Friday night in a local hospital.

Born Dec. 25, 1877, in Brown County, Tex., he came with his parents as a boy of 8 to this region before the town of Eddy, later Carlsbad, was founded. The family came here in 1885 and settled in the Guadalupes.

He married Susie Bass here on Oct. 3, 1900, and operated a ranch in the Queen area near the ranch of his brother, E.S. Shattuck. He and his wife, also from a pioneer Eddy County family, lived at the ranch until July, 1944, when they moved to a farm one mile west of Otis.

Mr. Shattuck was a member of Otis Baptist Church, and was active in church work there. He also was a member of the Oddfellows.

Surviving are his wife and his brother.

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. today in the chapel of the West Funeral Home. The Rev. Ernest Hollis, former pastor of the Otis Baptist Church and now pastor of the Baptist Church at Loco Hills, will officiate, assisted by the Rev. Wilson Akins of Hillcrest Baptist Church and the Rev. Pearson, pastor of Otis Baptist Church. Burial will be in Carlsbad Cemetery.


The inscription says, "Susie and Dolph." 

Pallbearers will be C.F. Bell, Clyde Putman, Roscoe Morries, Dwight Lee, Hardin Means, and Johnny Clark.

Honorary pallbearers will be Tom Middleton, John Queen, Joe Livington, Xury White, Sam Hughes, John McCollum, Bill Jones, Sam Jones, Frank Jones, Will Fenton, John Lusk, Joe Lusk, Henry Felts, Hill Queen, Denman Lewis, Arthur Mayes, Milton Smith, Ardell Janway, Glen Lewis, George Chandler, Fred Cox, Hamp Lewis, Fred West, O.E. Spurlin, Arch Lewis, Garland Clark, Cicero Stewart, John W. Lewis, R.U. Boyd, Lige Merchant, Richard Westaway, Rude Wilcox, R.N. Thomas, John Plowman, Bill Fuson, Floyd Neeley, John Montgomery, W.C. Smith, Dick Floyd, W.C. Bates, Dick Morrison, Lee Magby, C.F. Montgomery, J.S. Windham and Dr. L.H. Pate.
(Ref: The Daily Current-Argus, Carlsbad, Eddy County, New Mexico, dated for Sunday, August 6, 1950 front page and page 8a.



A final twist in this story about the intersection between Shattucks and Hollywood cowboys is that there actually was a Hollywood cowboy named Shattuck. He played the leading role in the 1957 movie "Duel at Apache Wells."

Known as Durango Kid der Rächer in Austrian and West German territories, the movie is an American western directed by Joseph Kane for Republic Pictures. It was written by Robert Kreighton Williams and stars Anna Maria Alberghetti, Ben Cooper and Jim Davis. The plot: After years of absence, Johnny Shattuck (Ben Cooper) returns home, only to find a gang after his father's ranch and his girlfriend (Anna Maria Alberghetti).

I wonder if the writer knew the John Shattuck family of cowboys in New Mexico?







Apparently the poster is much, much better than the movie. "They fought like beasts...for wealth and women!"


The outdoor scene in the publicity still looks like it could have been shot at the Shattucks ranch.


And now back to our regularly scheduled program, some pictures of the real cowboys and cowgirls of Dark Canyon, New Mexico.

Ned Shattuck. He has that very distinctive D. O. Shattuck brow ridge and eyes. A handsome family.


Susie Bass (who marries Dolph) and her sister Maggie Bass. 


J. R. Plowman (left) and Ned Shattuck, friends and business associates about 1896


Maggie and Susie Bass courtesy Jerry Scott "Find a Grave"



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