Gila Country Legend

New Mexico Book Co-op 2010 Winner
First Book
Finalist Biography

Honorable Mention for the
New Mexico Press Women’s Award 2012

One of the Tucson-Pima County Library’s
“Notable Books of the Year 2009” for Southwest book lovers!

“Gila Country Legend  is a gem of study and observation. For fans of western individualism it’s a benchmark for how much ground we’ve lost.” – Tom McGuane, author of Gallatin Canyon

“I have now read and totally enjoyed  Gila Country Legend  ….You have revealed [Quentin Hulse] as one of the most interesting complex major characters in New Mexican history to live in the last hundred years.” – Howard R. Lamar, author of Charlie Siringo’s West and editor of The New Encyclopedia of the American West

Gila Country Legend is a true piece of Americana. We follow the life of a remarkable man whose life became inseparable from one of the most extraordinary parts of the West. In this honest and intimate account, Nancy Coggeshall reminds us of how much a single life can teach us about the infinite possibilities of the American experience.” – Elliot West, author of Growing Up with the Country and The Way to the West

“Nancy Coggeshall’s Gila Country Legend is a multi-faceted work: part biography, part  geographical study, part autumnal love story. That the book succeeds at each, knitting together a fascinating portrait of the West and drawing in even readers unfamiliar with its southwestern New Mexico setting, speaks to the knowledge and talent of the author and the powerful draw of her subject, the mercurial cowboy Quentin Hulse.” – Jennifer Howard in The Bloomsbury Review

“Quentin Hulse braided his life so tightly to the Gila country that to read this haunting biography and memoir is to learn an entire history of a remarkable land and one of its most colorful figures.  If you didn’t know him, reading Gila Country Legend will make you wish you had, right before it makes you believe you did.” – Louis Warren, author of  Buffalo Bill’s America and The Hunter’s Game

“Gritty, gripping, and authentic—Gila Country Legend memorably portrays the life of Quentin Hulse in New Mexico’s sprawling Gila country. His story rings true, recounting both his virtues and his flaws. No one else could have told this story as well or in such detail as Nancy Coggeshall.”  – Marc Simmons, historian

“Coggeshall’s work reminds me of Eve Ball’s, C. L. Sonnichsen’s, and J. Frank Dobie’s grass roots histories of the Southwest. I found much of the story engrossing and compelling and anticipate that [Gila Country Legend]…will become a New Mexico classic. There is simply no work of history like it on twentieth-century western New Mexico.”—Durwood Ball, Editor New Mexico Historical Review and author of Army Regulars on the Western Frontier, 1848-1861

“This Quentin ain’t quaint – he’s quintessential.” – Walter Piehl, Jr., Painter of Western Americana

“Coggeshall does a masterful job of weaving the place into the person and the person into the place.” – Tanya Finchum, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“This book is a love story about the very last vestiges of the Old West.” – Jon Shumaker, Tucson Weekly

“A man of the mountains, a throw-back.” – Dutch Salmon, author of Gila Libre!

“The story told is much more than the biography of a cowman.” – Harley Shaw, Journal of Arizona History

“Time may even add [Gila Country Legend] to the short list of classics of the Mogollons and the country thereabout like Jim McKenna’s Black Range Tales, Montague Stevens’ Meet Mr. Grizzly, and Agnes Morley Cleaveland’s No Life for a Lady.” – David Remley, author of The Bell Ranch

The Life and Times of Quentin Hulse

Gila Country LegendA product of New Mexico’s southwest, Quentin Hulse (1926-2002) lived and worked from the bottom of Canyon Creek in the Gila River Country on the northern border of the Gila Wilderness. The force of his character and personality impressed people so deeply that stories about this legendary rancher, packer, guide, and hound man were told even in Tasmania and Baghdad. His photograph appeared on a tourist postcard and souvenir novelty license plate in the 1950s.  The Men’s Channel broadcast footage of a 1962-lion hunt with him on New Year’s Day 2005; boys were named for him; and a song was written about him and recorded in 2003.

Descended from genuine frontier stock, Quentin was raised during raw, woolly times, following his father’s vocational pursuits between ranches, mines, and towns until the family acquired the ranch at Canyon Creek. He witnessed a point-blank shooting when he was ten. As a seaman first class and a member of a beach battalion team on the USS Burleigh (APA-95), an attack transport,  during World War II, he landed on the beach at Okinawa “before a Marine laid a track.” ( And he was shot in a bar near Silver City when he returned from the war. His reputation as a hard-drinking hound man notwithstanding, Hulse was most at home in the Gila Wilderness, where he ranched and guided for more than fifty years. As a prankster, he ranks with the like of Randall Patrick McMurphy, the good soldier Schweik, Yossarian, and Cool Hand Luke.

This compelling biography of a rural ranching family and rancher demonstrates the constant adjustments to modernity into that traditional way of life and brings this unique westerner to life. Nancy Coggeshall has produced a vibrant grass-roots history of twentieth-century southwestern New Mexico, a region generally overlooked by historians.