Trementina, New Mexico

by Henrietta Martinez Christmas 

The evolution of Trementina is somewhat complex in that various obstacles kept stepping in the way to the people who eventually settled here.  The water was being contaminated by the wool-washing and the pickling of railroad ties in the Las Vegas area. Water was unfit to drink and scum was left on plants which were affected after irrigation.  The usage of communal land was being fenced off and the land grants were being sold to outsiders.  Making a living became quite difficult as they could not grow enough crops nor raise their sheep and cattle on such little land.   Their conversion to Presbyterianism was also a roadblock to their happiness at Los Valles de San Agustin.

Trementina sits on what would be considered public domain. So when these settlers from Los Valles couldn’t make a living there, they drove their sheep east following the river and started grazing in this area.  As this practice continued year after year, the men started bringing their families, and soon a village emerged.  The earliest homestead is dated about 1875 and almost all the people who migrated had a role in using the homestead law to gain land that would be titled in their name.

In the meantime, in the village of La Aguila, a Miss Blake and Evangelist Teofilo Tafaya would come during Christmas.  Miss Blake taught at La Aguila, but that would soon end. In July 1901, she opened the first Trementina school.  She was not alone as these pioneers had come from Los Valles de San Agustin and had built a school there.  Four of the founding members had been ordained in Los Valles in 1887; they were Pablo Madrid, Noberto Jaramillo, Abran Salzar and Romulo Blea.   All four lived long lives and were the mainstays of their families.  Miss Blake felt they strengthened the Protestant movement.  Later a younger member, Cecilio Valverde made a difference in this community.