The Doña Ana historical marker located on Thorpe Rd. (NM-320, the Doña Ana exit on I-25, see it on the map HERE) is one of 19 "Historic Women Marker Initiative" markers, added in 2005 (see my post about this special series of markers, including the back side of this marker, by clicking the link). Some people are confused as to why there are two "Doña Ana" markers, this one and one about a mile to the east. Well, the reason for that is that the other marker is specifically about the village of Doña Ana, this one is about the woman Doña Ana Robledo.
Doña Ana Robledo died near the modern day village of Doña Ana, located immediately north of Las Cruces on I-25. Legend says that Doña Ana was well known for her acts of charity and kindness. There are other tales of a woman taken by the Apache Indians and never seen again. Considering that this happened in the 17th century, the history isn't clear, and the stories have all been passed down as part of the oral folklore of the Mesilla Valley. Interestingly enough, after her death, she was reportedly buried near Paraje de Robledo (another historical marker that I will visit eventually), the site of her grandfather's (Pablo Robledo) unmarked grave. Her grandfather was the first death of the Don Juan de Oñate expedition, which began in 1598 in modern day El Paso, and ended with the conquest of New Mexico's indigenous people, gaining Oñate the reputation as a murderer and tyrant in the eyes of many local descendants of the conquered natives (more on that when I discover more at those historical markers).
The mountains overlooking the gravesites of Pablo and Doña Ana are known as the Robledo Mountains. This majestic chain of hills sits north of Las Cruces. I have a great view of the Robledo's from my front yard, they really are a great site, especially when it snows or there are low hanging clouds.
Doña Ana is said by some to look over travelers of the area. A few years ago I was on a field trip with my students to the Las Cruces District Court, and saw this wonderful mural by local artist Tony Pennock, famous for painting murals on the water towers around Las Cruces.
Although I couldn't find any confirmation online, I was told by someone there at the courthouse that the mural depicts Doña Ana looking over travelers in the hills outside of Las Cruces. Someone else told me they thought it was Doña Ana looking over Colonel Albert Fountain and his son shortly before their murders. But again, I couldn't find confirmation of this anywhere, so I apologize if I'm way off base here.
I did most of my research for this entry at:
- Cuartocentennial of the Colonization of New Mexico: Information on the death of Pablo Robledo
- Towns and Villages of Doña Ana County: I didn't know there were so many