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Borderlands: Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004-2005)

A unique resource of faculty edited college student articles on the history and culture of the El Paso, Juárez, and Southern New Mexico regions.

From the Editors 23

First published in Vol. 23 (2004-2005)

by Ruth E. Vise Faculty Advisor & Editor  

Volume 23 coverThis year's cover reflects the old postcards that today are collectors' items. The photos and drawings are ours, however, and represent just a few of the stories that we hope you will read and enjoy. We feature articles about Solomon Schutz , prominent merchant, who served as mayor the year the railroad came to El Paso, and James B. Gillett, an ex-Texas Ranger and El Paso marshal, who became a legend.

Several students researched Jim White , the first white man to explore Carlsbad Caverns and promote it as a tourist site. Other students studied Aldo Leopold, an early environmentalist, and Ben Lilly , who lived the life of a mountain man in the Gila Forest in the 20th century

Our center spread features the work of students who discovered Hueco Tanks State Park and its history. Some of them had never been to the park that attracts visitors and researchers from all over the world. They took pictures and notes and discovered that field research can be fun.

Other students researched two local World War I heroes, Marcelino Serna and Sam Dreben. We conclude the issue with stories on the manufacturing empire built by the Farah family in the 1920s and on council 638 of the Knights of Columbus in El Paso, the first in Texas.

The students who produce the papers on which these articles are based are freshmen at El Paso Community College. Because students in my English research and critical writing classes explore local history topics, they must visit area libraries, do field research, examine old newspaper articles on microfilm, interview local historians and other authorities, in addition to surfing the Internet and finding other sources. Some students illustrate their papers with photographs or original art. No easy research papers for them!

Time constraints limit what students who are learning the research process can do. Student editors and I must conduct further research while we are turning these research papers into feature articles for Borderlands. Editors must search for historical photos in family collections and at area libraries and the El Paso County Historical Society. Getting to the print shop is a major accomplishment, where much more work lies ahead.

I thank this year's editor, Stella Perry, for stepping in after another editor had to bow out. Stella, you did a great job without any training other than your excellent writing and research skills. Next year will be easier, I promise!

I also thank my colleagues, Joe Old and Martha Lou Broaddus, who volunteered to edit our articles and to share their expertise as teachers of writing without expecting any reward other than our gratitude. Joe, special thanks to you for giving us your time when you were editing your own book.

Thanks also to Monica Wong, Joe Old and Rachel Murphree, Borderlands has been on the Web for three years. Thirteen issues are now online, and we invite you to access our site by going to

Gretchen, your hard work, persistence, grace and generosity have helped me through many rough moments and remind me why I teach. Thank you for your big heart, your sunny smile and your enthusiasm for Borderlands.

Happy 21st birthday to my daughter April, who was only seven when I became advisor of Borderlands, and whose photo is used on the cover. Stella, Gretchen and I hope that you, our readers, enjoy this issue.









Image caption: Ruth Vise,  Faculty Editor

By Stella Perry and Gretchen Dickey

""Image caption: 2004 Borderland Staff, from left to right: Gretchen Dickey, Consulting Editor; Ruth E. Vise, Faculty Editor and Advisor; Stella Perry, Editor. Not pictured: Sean Perry, artist. Photo by Kim Prieto.

As a first-time editor for this year's Borderlands, I want to thank Ms. Vise for her encouragement and support. She gave sound criticism and insight into this project. Had it not been for her research and critical writing class, the works of Aldo Leopold would have remained a diamond in the rough, a treasure lost to me. What started as a research paper has now morphed into an article detailing one man's effort in providing this country with a "breath of fresh air."

I also found myself reading a book that really burrowed into my soul. A Sand County Almanac approaches land ethics with both a tenderness and seriousness that are timeless. My goal to bring that message to a bigger audience is achieved in this issue. Thank you.

Gretchen was fun to work with and offered good advice on the art of research. I also found a great resource with the El Paso County Historical Society . Lynn, fellow researchers, and friends: you have been so kind and welcoming. I will see you for next year's issue. Many thanks to John Moses, Escontrias Elementary School, EPCC Library staff, "Buddy" Huffaker, Teresa Searock, and Erika Gerhardt at the Aldo Leopold Foundation.  The website ( supports ongoing land conservation efforts.

The biggest help of all came from home. My brother Sean helped me with the cover design and provided his talents as an artist. My brother Lane was a tremendous help as I agonized over Adobe Photoshop. My father always has helped me with any project I've had and brought out his extensive stamp collection for our cover. My mother, a fellow writer, has always been there to proofread and offer criticism. Thanks, Ryan, brother and confidante. And Daniel, my wonderful partner, thanks for always helping me find my way around town.

Stella Perry, Editor

It is my pleasure to serve as consulting editor for Borderlands this year. Working with such a remarkable and talented woman as Mrs. Vise is an honor for me. I thank her for inviting me again to work on such a vital publication that examines the area's rich history and allows us to be part of the preservation process.

This is an especially fulfilling year because we completed a story about Solomon C. Schutz, first begun by student Sara Flores. For two years we further researched this El Paso pioneer, whose greatest wish was to bring forth some semblance of law and order to a wild town.

Because both Solomon Schutz and his uncle Samuel had first names beginning with "S," and many historical documents merely referred to an "S. Schutz," it became difficult to attribute events and identities to the correct man. Both men operated general merchandise stores downtown, and each had a brother for a partner, an especially important fact in documents describing the Salt War.

Several historians identified the location of Luis Cardis' death as Solomon's store, S. Schutz and Bro. Although Cardis was killed in S. Schutz & Bro., it was not Solomon's store but one owned by Samuel and his brother Joseph. Masonic records helped us to establish that Solomon and Albert owned a mercantile named S. & A. Schutz. The research on Solomon Schutz made it evident that preserving past documents is paramount to safeguarding our historical facts. Every once in a while, we learn something new by exploring previously hidden treasures.

I want to thank my friends and family and especially my husband and children for understanding how important Borderlands is to me and for giving me the time to fulfill my obligation. I could not have done this without your support. I love you all.

Gretchen Dickey, Consulting Editor


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