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How Colonel Kate Won Her Spurs
by [?]

Mrs. Harrison Winthrop Coolidge had long been the recognized leader of Santa Fe society. Her husband, who had twice been Governor of New Mexico (this was long before the Territory had put on the garment of Statehood), was the best known and most esteemed man in the Southwest. He was rich, energetic, capable, and popular, and he came of the family of the Massachusetts Coolidges; while his wife, who was just as capable and as popular as he, sprang from the Adams family of the same State. But, notwithstanding all this, to the Unassorted of Santa Fe society she was always “Colonel Kate”; and the Select themselves, in moments of sprightly intimacy, would sometimes refer to her or even address her by that sobriquet.

The occasional new resident and the frequent health-seeker were sure to hear of Colonel Kate before they had spent more than a day or two in the ancient city; and if they had come from the strait-laced East they were likely to be much scandalized when they learned the identity of the lady spoken of thus disrespectfully, and would at once want to know how and why such things could be. Then they would be told that the shocking appellation was only a good-natured and admiring recognition of Mrs. Coolidge’s general efficiency. For it was the universal opinion in Santa Fe that Colonel Kate would always accomplish whatever she started out to do, and that nobody ever could guess what she would start out to do next.

All this was quite true, but it was also true that the Governor’s wife had won her military title by the especial daring and efficiency which she had once displayed on a particular occasion. The facts in the case are known only to some three or four people who have always kept them very quiet. It happened, however, when I asked for information about Mrs. Coolidge’s nickname, that the man with whom I was talking was the very one who had first bestowed it upon her, and he told me the secret truth about it. Mrs. Coolidge had no stancher friend than he, nor any who regarded her with greater respect and admiration, but he rarely spoke of her or addressed her by any other name than “Colonel Kate.”

It all happened a good many years ago, when Harrison Winthrop Coolidge, then a comparatively young man and newly married, had just come out from Massachusetts to be Governor of New Mexico. His wife was a young woman of tall and shapely figure, handsome face, and striking presence, and possessed of such vivacity, vigor, health, and strength as few women enjoy. Her superabundant vitality found many emergencies upon which to expend itself, but the man who told me this story declared that she never found one that was too big for her. She probably never found a bigger or more important one than that which she faced on the night when she won her spurs. Governor and Mrs. Coolidge reached New Mexico in the days of the first coming of the railroad, when the sleepy old Territory woke to a brief season of active and hilarious life. And the Governor, fresh from New England reverence for law and legal forms and accepted methods, was inexpressibly shocked by the low opinion in which such things were held in his new bailiwick. Especially was he horrified by the frequent and brief proceedings which left men who had been too free with their guns or with other people’s property hanging from trees, projecting beams, and other convenient places. The usual rough justice of the affair did not, in his eyes, mitigate the offensiveness of its irregularity.

The Santa Fe Bugle at once interviewed him about his plans and intentions, and Governor Coolidge talked very strongly on the subject of lynch law. He said that it was entirely wrong, unworthy even of barbarians, and was not to be endorsed or palliated in either principle or practice. He deplored the frequency of its operations in New Mexico, and emphatically declared his intention of stamping it out.