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NAVAJOLAND TRADING POSTS: Updated January 2011.
Compiled by Klara Kelley and Harris Francis
PO Box 2635, Gallup NM 87305
COPYRIGHT © 2006, 2010, 2011 Klara Kelley and Harris Francis
NOTE: Visitors are not allowed on abandoned store sites on Navajo Nation land without a written permit from the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Dept, Window Rock, AZ. It is also a good idea to check in at the local chapter house (chapters are Navajo local government units). Most defunct store buildings and their archaeological remains are within the land-use areas of local Navajo families, who tend to regard strangers poking around the sites as trespassers.
This list is a work in progress. We have collected information on all the trading posts listed here but have yet to write up information on most of them. We will add information on these stores whenever we can, as well as correcting and updating the information already on this list. Meanwhile, please contact us with corrections, additions, or comments.
Trading posts are defined here as retail stores that offer general merchandise in exchange for commodities or money, at least partly through secured or unsecured credit. The list includes stores in and around Navajoland with significant Navajo clienteles. It excludes stores in major border towns and those established after 1980. Since many trading posts changed names when they changed owners, they are listed mainly by (English/Anglicized) name of the place where they are located, in alphabetical order.
We are trying to incorporate Navajo historical perspectives on individual trading posts, since non-Navajo perspectives dominate the literature. We therefore are researching Navajo names for the stores and traders as well as Navajo experiences with trading posts, particularly experiences in the early days of Navajoland’s trading post system, as reflected in recorded Navajo life histories, previously recorded Navajo oral histories, and our own consultations with Navajo people today. We have particularly tried to foreground Navajo store owners and managers.
Topics ideally covered in each entry:
Navajo name. (Names of places and people appear in either standard orthography for writing the Navajo language developed by Young and Morgan or a modified version of the Young & Morgan orthography in which high-tone vowels are capitalized, nasal vowels are underlined, and voiceless “l” (slash l) is shown as “#”.)
Location. (County, location on regional routes)
Dates. Breakdown by changes in building
Postoffice. Dates PO was in store/not in store; name changes
Owners, managers. Navajo nicknames for traders are given when available. Navajo owners and managers are identified as “Navajo” or “Diné” to call attention to a little-recognized aspect of the Navajoland trading-post system, traders who were themselves Navajos. Other American Indian owners/managers are also identified as such.
Workers. Names of employees are under-reported in the literature and we hope to call attention to this historically significant but neglected group, especially to encourage oral history work with them or their descendants.
Family relationships. For members of the largest, most intricately interrelated trader families, search this document by surname; notes in this topic are mainly relationships of others not tied into those genealogies.
Related enterprises. Though we occasionally note other stores belonging to same owners, we have not done so systematically or exhaustively; for other stores with same owners, search this document by surname. Related enterprises described under this topic are those other than trading posts, such as ranches, tourist businesses, and the like.
Historical notes. Events at TP, TP personnel in leading local families, political office; connections of TP to interesting details of freighting, ranching, commodity flows; observations of store reported by early Navajo clients.
Sources. See bibliography file for full references and explanation of abbreviations. Also indicates listing on State or National Registers of Historic Places.
ALAMO (also includes Puertecito): multiple trading posts Navajo name. T’iis Tsoh
Location. Alamo, NM vicinity. Puertecito, a small settlement in Section 32, T3N R5W, just east of the reservation, had the first store. Later store owned by Nelson Field was evidently in the current village of Alamo, Section 6, T2N R6W. A third store may have been within a mile east of the Field store in Section 5, T2N R6W.
Dates. Puertecito: 1903-1930?; Alamo, west store: 1940s; Alamo, east store: unknown
Owners, managers. Puertecito: probably Hispanic family. Alamo, west store: Nelson A. Field operated a trading post at the Alamo Navajo reservation headquarters in the 1940s as part of a cattle ranch; Field was a New Mexico Land Commissioner. Alamo, east store: AnilI YAzhI (Little Rags), “Small Ragged Mexican”
Related enterprises. Nelson Field had a cattle ranch.
Other historical notes. AnilI YazhI was killed during a robbery of his store.
Sources. Van Valkenburgh 1941 (Puertocito entry); Linford 2000 (Navajo Places); Walt and others 1987, entries Puertecito 56 and 63.
ALLANTOWN: Cronemeyer trading post
NOTE: See also Houck: White Mound
Location. Apache County, AZ, probably along an ancient foot-horse trail from Zuni to Hopi, which seems to have gone down Whitewater Arroyo to cross the Puerco in the vicinity of Houck in NE/4 of Sec. 35, T22N R30E, west of Kiits’iil Spring. In Cronemeyer’s time the route was used by wagons, including those of freighter Sam Day Sr of St Michaels, who hauled wheat from Zuni. The post was about 2 mi S of the AT&SF Railroad.
Dates. c1882-1915; vandalized by 1920.
Owners, managers. The post was built and operated by Curt Cronemeyer, c1882-1915. Curt Cronemeyer built a store at Allantown in the 1880s when the railroad came in (1881-82). He bought supplies in Gallup and freighted his own wool there. Before that, he had traded in the mountains between Gallup and Zuni, perhaps in partnership with Charles Chambers. In 1909, a Navajo woman applied for an allotment that included the parcel where Cronemeyer built his store, evidently intending to sell Cronemeyer the portion with the store. Cronemeyer had two Navajo wives and they were probably related to the allottee, if one was not the allotee herself. Cronemeyer also made homestead entries on two neighboring tracts east and southeast, each of which has a good spring (Keetseel Spring and Goodluck Spring). In 1915, Cronemeyer was robbed and killed at his store, and that was the end of it.
Workers. Charles A. “Red” McDonald (aka Brewer) worked for Cronemeyer briefly in the post’s later years.
Architecture. Remains today (2010) consist of a crude masonry foundation of local white sandstone slabs, 70 ft N-S x 20 ft E-W, with a cellar adjoining the foundation on east, plus a rubble pile, possibly Anasazi, under a tree c 40m E (near quarter-corner mark) with pre-WWI artifacts. Artifacts observed around the foundation and at the rubble pile are all pre-World II and include: cast-iron stove parts; heavy brown and aqua glass (also some purple); aqua AB beer bottle base (1904-1907); brown WF&S beer bottle base (pre WWI); brown beer bottle base embossed BREMEN/HHEYE/HAMBURG; crockery (white and blue); flow-blue ceramics; purple glass medicine bottle with seams obliterated below the lip; and a penny too corroded to read its date.
Family relationships. Son Hoske Cronemeyer (whose mother was Navajo) traded at Chambers and Sanders.
Other historical notes. According to McNitt (see sources below), the robbery-killing happened after Cronemeyer had traded a big load of wool in Gallup and had taken part of the payment in cash to buy cattle from local Navajos. Both Cronemeyer and McDonald were killed. Suspects included local Navajo men, but the murder weapon was eventually linked to a pair of Hispanic men; the disposition of the case is unclear. According to local Navajo residents, Cronemeyer and a “Mexican” man were sitting under a tree when they were killed, and the robbers escaped by hopping a passing train.
Sources. Cushing 1965/1882; McNitt 1962:327-331; Kelley and Francis BLM-HI (AZ) and homestead application records 03496, 03497, 06842; NARA homestead proof files for patents 357869 and 930752; NMBD 1913-14; Van Valkenburgh 1941:76; Weber papers; Thanks also to: Nellie Shirley, 11/3/04, and Andrew Martinez Begay, 8/26/10
ANETH TRADING POST
(1880s-1890s, Riverview (to ca 1895?) and McElmo (changed name to Holyoke in 1897), then Holley’s; later, Aneth)
NOTE. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the area around the junction of McElmo Creek and the San Juan had several different place names and a number of store owners. Identifying the place names and owners with specific locations and buildings is difficult. By about 1890, the history of one store, later called Aneth Trading Post, becomes distinct. Information on the others appears in entries for Aneth: Miscellaneous, Four Corners, and McElmo.
Navajo name. T’áá Bíích’88dii (One Who Can Barely Make It – a trader, probably one of the Tanners)
Location. San Juan County, UT, along San Juan around junction with McElmo Creek, where 1880s road from Mancos Creek down the Mancos River and along San Juan to Bluff joins contemporaneous road from Cortez and McElmo Canyon.
Dates. 1878-1884, building obliterated by flooding; c 1885-present, current location of convenience store.
Postoffice. Daughtery 1881/82 (Riverview?); By 1960s (Aneth)
Owners, managers. Since 1878 traders had been in the Aneth vicinity, but which ones occupied the site of the present Aneth Trading Post is uncertain. In 1878 Henry L. Mitchell came to Aneth to homestead and soon opened a store. In 1882 DH Saylor had a store. In 1883 traders were Henry Mitchell in partnership with his son-in-law, Joseph Daughtery, with another trader, Peter Tracy, nearby. In 1884, Mitchell was still at Aneth and another Mitchell in-law, Spencer, was 4 miles upriver from Mitchell. A flood in 1884 destroyed the Mitchell post.
OE or EO Noland, another Mitchell in-law, who had just built a post at Four Corners, also established a trading post at Riverview (Aneth) shortly thereafter along with his father-in-law, Stanley or Henry Mitchell. In 1885, Peter Guillet from Mancos was managing the store and with his brother Herman bought the store in 1886.
There was a store at Aneth in 1890-91. In 1892 brothers Pete and Herman Guillet (who also had a store in Cortez around this time) were still at their Aneth store, which they sold to their half-brother Sterl Thomas, who freighted from Cortez for them. In 1893, Daughtery and Hyde seem to have been the only ones at Aneth. In 1894-1895, except for Noland at Four Corners, the other stores for miles along the San Juan had closed because of great destitution among the Navajos. Sterl Thomas sold to Arthur J. (Butch) Ames and Jesse West. Reportedly Ames and West owned Aneth when they also owned Four Corners, which they bought in 1896-97. In 1899, James M. Holley bought the trading post at Aneth, which photos show to be the same building as the earlier Ames and West store and the store later called the Aneth Trading Post, which is now (2005) part of the current Red Mesa convenience store.
Around 1900, Left-handed and his older brother, Nephew of Who Has Land, went from the Carrizo Mountains to the Aneth trading post with money and orders also from several relatives. This description is one of the earliest recorded Navajo observations of a new trading post (see also Keams Canyon). They chose Aneth rather than Round Rock because things might be cheaper at Aneth. When they arrived, the trader, whom they named “Round” (probably Dííl), invited them in.
We took the things off our horses, and the trader picked up the skins and hides Nephew Of Who Had Land had brought along, and we went inside after him. He weighed [brother’s] the skins and hides, then he threw them back into the other room. ... Then [brother] started trading. He got two sacks of flour, some coffee and sugar, baking powder and salt, some calico and little things. When he finished I started in. I got two sacks of flour and baking powder with it, coffee and sugar. I only bought a little grub for myself ... Then I bought some calico for my mother with the three dollars I gave her, and a pair of overalls, shirt, and red scarf for the boy. ... After we got our things fixed up we took them outside where our horses were standing. Then I thought about the .44 cartridges, but I didn’t have anything to buy them with, only [my] saddle blanket ... I laid the saddle blanket on the counter. .. He weighed it... threw it back in the other room, and gave me a dollar for it. I asked him, how much is a box of cartridges?” “A dollar a box....” So he gave me a box and I went out, put my things on the horse tied them to the saddle, and we started back. (Lefthanded 1980:371).
After Holley’s tenure, 1899-1904, owners were as follows. Joseph Heffernan owned the store from 1904 to at least 1908, while Holley served as the San Juan School (Shiprock) Agency extension farmer with a house under the hill below the store built by local Navajo men working off the payment for tools the agency had given them. Heffernan sold to Charles Brown in 1910. In 1912, Holley bought the store back, then sold to Tom Dustin, who sold it around 1915-1918 to John Hunt. In 1919, a photo of the former Holley store identifies it as Hunt’s trading post. From 1921-1926, Richard Simpson of Farmington and Gallegos Canyon owned the store and sold it to Bob Smith (another source says the Hunts sold to Smith), who sold it to Art Tanner in 1935, followed by Ruel (“Chunky”) Tanner (whose wife’s mother was a Hunt) and his brother Ralph into the 1950s (Ruel sold his share to Ralph in 1945). In 1953 Ralph Tanner took Elijah Blair as partner (Roscoe McGee also a partner by 1955), with Bruce Burnham, a cousin of Roscoe McGee, to manage it, 1961-64. Around 1964 Elijah Blair sold the store to Roscoe McGee, who continued trading there at least through the 1970s. Roscoe McGee’s son-in-law Claude Petty operated the store, 1965-1971, followed by Dwight McGee, 1971-1979. In 1979, Thriftway Corporation bought the store and made it into a convenience store. Red Mesa Express took over in 2001 and was still operating the store in 2005.
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