Wild West History Association Journal

Gila Country Legend: The Life and Times of Quentin Hulse

James Wright | for Wild West History Association Journal
June 2010

When I first received this book from UNM Press, I wasn’t sure it would be a fit for a WWHA review, that is, would it interest readers of this journal. I laid it down after looking it over, as it deals with the story of Quentin Hulse from the [Mogollon] Mountain region of western New Mexico, a man whose life spanned the last [seven] decades of the twentieth century. Later that evening I picked it up again and look it over a little more closely. After reading sixteen pages, I put on a pot of coffee, knowing it was going to be a book I would read straight through.

Quentin Hulse, a rancher, cowboy, horseman, hunting and fishing guide, Word War II veteran (he fought at Okinawa), as well as local historian and naturalist, was a character right out of the Old West, the type the great Texas historian J. Frank Dobie described as coming “out of the bedrock.” He was related to notorious Barney Riggs, the Texas and Arizona gunfighter, and claimed as his friends many old western New Mexico families. Author Nancy Coggeshall first met Quentin Hulse in a bar in Winston, New Mexico and, over many years, put together his story, from his birth in 1926 until his death in 2002. Despite being from the very non-southwestern state of Rhode Island, she managed to “get the feel” of the rugged area of the Gila in western New Mexico in her descriptions. These were the mountains Quentin Hulse loved.

Read this one folks. It’s one heck of a story about a man that bridged the gap between the Old and the New West. It has an honored spot in my bookshelf as just a plain old time good read, about someone I would love to have known. There’s a little of everything in this book—archaeology, old and new west history, World War II, hunting, fishing, ranching, nature, Texas feuds…and a gunfight or two.