The Mimbres People
The Mimbres people were a sub-group of the “Mogollon,” a name archaeologists give to early people who lived in the mountains, deserts, and valleys of southwestern New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico. Initially, they were hunters and gatherers, but transitioned to a more settled lifestyle, becoming farmers and building villages.
About 1000 years ago, a Mimbres pueblo was built at this site on top of an earlier pit-house village. (A pit-house is a building that is partly dug into the ground and covered by a roof.)
During the Classic period, the Mimbres people produced beautiful black-on-white pottery that art historians and archaeologists consider the most distinctive prehistoric pottery in North America. Items recovered from the Mattocks archaeological site are recognized worldwide as some of the finest examples of Classic Mimbres artwork.
Historically, owners of the property have welcomed visiting archaeologists. The Mattocks Site is uniquely accessible, lying one block off NM Hwy 35, has helped it to become a center of extensive research for nearly 100 years. The result has been a greater understanding of these remarkable people and their culture.
The Mattocks Archaeological Site
Beginning with a site visit in 1883 by Adolph Bandelier (one of the 19th century’s most important and influential archaeologists) through the ownership and research of the Mimbres Foundation in the 1970s, the ruin has long attracted the interest of archaeologists. In 1929-30, the first scientific excavation was led by Paul Nesbitt of the Logan Museum of Beloit College in Wisconsin. The sub-surface rights of the site are now managed by Archaeology Southwest of Tucson.
If these walls could talk…
As you visit the MCHS, use your stay as a chance to walk through the past. Imagine what life was like for the people who built pueblo rooms of stone and the homestead houses of adobe.
The Wood House is the older of the two adobe houses on the property and dates to 1881. Built during the Apache Wars, it is one of the few surviving structures of that era in the Mimbres Valley. Dr. Granville N. Wood, a physician, planted an orchard of 150 apple, peach, cherry, pear, apricot and plum trees. The property also included 40 acres of alfalfa, a large vegetable garden and pasture for livestock. Dr. Wood sold his homestead to Robert Floyd in 1887. In 1987 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Robert Floyd died in 1889, leaving the property to his wife Kate. Mrs. Floyd married Benjamin Franklin Gooch at the end of 1889. Gooch quickly became a successful businessman, profiting from the produce of fruit trees, alfalfa fields, garden, and livestock. Gooch moved his family to Silver City in 1901, where he opened a produce and meat market. He leased part of his Mimbres property to J.D. Ross. During a confrontation in 1902 Mr. Gooch shot and killed Mr. Ross. Gooch escaped from the Silver City jail three times! After the first escape and return to Silver City, the judge declared Benjamin insane. Gooch disappeared after his third escape for good in 1917.
The property was sold in 1922 to the Mattocks family. They welcomed visiting archaeologists and permitting some excavation. In time, the site became known as the Mattocks Ruin.
The Imogen F. Wilson Education Foundation acquired the MCHS property from the Silver City Museum in 2011. It now is the site steward of the Mattocks Archaeological Site and owns the two adjoining historical Mimbres Valley ranch houses from the 1880s.
The Gooch House is home to the Mimbres Museum. Exhibit space is dedicated to the Mimbres Culture and to the later settlement and multicultural development of the Mimbres Valley. The museum features a gift shop, has wheelchair access, picnic tables and restroom facilities. Visitors also have the rare opportunity to walk through one of the only Territorial adobe houses of its era left standing and tour the renovated and reproduced doctor's office.
The History of the Houses
There have been many owners of the two territorial homes on the site. We are collecting history on the individuals who lived here. If you have knowledge of any of these people, please share with us.
- Dr. Granville N. Wood and family 1882
- Robert Floyd (Abbie, Kate) 1887
- Benjamin Franklin Gooch
- William F. Moore (Anna)
- John Hale Bragaw
- Charles N. Harris
- Otto Heuchling
- Bert Mattocks 1921
- McAnally 1970s
- Mimbres Foundation 2006
- Silver City Museum Society 2006
- Imogen F Wilson Education Foundation, Maclean Wilson gifted property 2011