Story of two pioneering families covered in San Juan County Historical Society talk

Barbara Hill is descendant of Hood and McCoy families

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • Hill's presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 at the Farmington Civic Center.
  • The meeting is free and open to the public, but everyone in attendance is asked to wear a mask.
  • Hill will be sharing various documents and family photos.
Barbara Hill displays a family photo that will be featured in her presentation on the Hood and McCoy pioneer families on Wednesday, Oct. 13 for the San Juan County Historical Society.

FARMINGTON — The history of two of San Juan County's pioneering families will be examined this week when Barbara Hill — a descendant of the Hood and McCoy families — delivers a presentation during a meeting of the San Juan County Historical Society.

Hill's presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. The meeting is free and open to the public, but everyone in attendance is asked to wear a mask.

Hill said chronicling her family history has taken many years, and she indicated her presentation before the historical society could be the end of that work.

"At my age, I'm about done," she said.

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She said much of her research consisted of combing through publications produced by the historical society and by going through old issues of The Farmington Times Hustler. She was disappointed to note that her family members were not a better source of information.

"It was something the family never talked about, so I really struggled to find out (details)," she said.

But after decades of digging, Hill said she thinks she has come up with a good amount of information on both the Hoods and the McCoys — probably enough to fill a book, although she has no intention of writing one.

"Not really," she said. "I keep thinking I'll do it, but I really haven't. When this is all said and done, I think I'll have a pretty good history."

One side of Hill's family, the Hoods, was so prominent it had its own community. Hood Settlement consisted of a post office, a school and a homestead. It was named after Hill's great-grandfather, George Silvens Hood, who homesteaded there in 1888.

Hill said the original homestead consisted of 155 acres, but an additional 5 acres was added to the property later. Hill said she made that discovery while going through back issues of the Times Hustler and finding an advertisement for the property when it was placed up for sale.

The Hood Settlement was located where the Highland View subdivision and Animas Valley Mall are situated today. Hood himself served as the first postmaster for the community, and his home served as the first post office in 1898.

Flora Vista residents James Allen McCoy and his wife Lucy are pictured in this family portrait belonging to Barbara Hill, their great-granddaughter, who will discuss her ancestors in a presentation for the San Juan County Historical Society.

The other side of Hill's family, the McCoys, has its own claim to local fame. The family arrived in San Juan County even before the Hoods, arriving in the Cedar Hill area in 1878. That put them squarely in the path of the county's most notorious outlaws, Porter and Ike Stockton, and three members of the McCoy clan — Charles, George William and Harvey — took part in the Durango, Colorado, shootout in which Ike was mortally wounded.

Hill said that part of her family history is pretty well known, but she said her research yielded some surprises. Her favorite story was a tale she discovered in an old issue of the Times Hustler that chronicled the rescue of a young family member after the boy had fallen into a cistern.

"It could have been a disaster," she said.

But the boy was saved when rescuers hitched a rope to a team of horses and lowered an adult into the cistern to fish the child out.

"It was quite a surprise to us," Hill said of the reaction of the rest of her family when she related the tale to them after reading it in the newspaper. "My grandmother never said anything about it, which I don't understand."

The two families were joined in 1899 when Augustus Lee "Gus" Hood married Grace Almertha McCoy in Flora Vista at the home of her parents, James and Lucy McCoy.

Hill has been one of the organizers of the annual Dining with the Dead fundraiser for the past few years, so her handle on local history extends well beyond that of her family. She said she plans on speaking about the Hoods and McCoys for approximately an hour, then finishing up the evening by fielding questions.

She also will have various documents and family photos to share during her presentation, including the original deed George S. Hood, her great-grandfather, received from the territorial government in Santa Fe for his 155-acre homestead.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-64-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.