The Story of Taos, New Mexico

      Marcia Muth
            Blanche Chloe Grant was born in 1874 in Leavenworth, Kansas. Like many other women of her time, she was from the first an independent spirit. She was interested in the arts and literature and saw a role for women that did not include the usually prescribed domestic life. A graduate of Vassar College, she also studied at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, The Pennsylvania Academy and the Art League in New York City. She soon became known for both her landscape paintings and her career as a magazine illustrator.
            In 1918, she was asked to go to France as head of an art project under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.
            A move to Taos, New Mexico in 1920 brought about dramatic changes in Grantís life. She developed an intense interest in the rich and varied history of the area. She took on the job of editor of the Taos Valley News and began her years of research into the history of Taos and the Southwest. This led then to a series of books, many of which were about Taos and the people who lived there.
            Her art also changed and she painted Native American and Western subjects. Although an active participant in the Taos art scene, she continued to show paintings in New York. Gradually her main interests turned to her writing. Her books included DoŮa Lona, Taos Indians and she edited a biography of Kit Carson based on his notes.
            When Grant moved to Taos it was a small village but she soon found that its history was ďlarge.Ē Through extensive research, she put together the facts of the past. These were augmented and confirmed by residents who had knowledge of first-hand accounts.
            She discovered that the history of Taos stretched back several centuries to the sixteenth century. It was a settlement that some people claim has a Chinese name or perhaps a Mayan one. It is a village that has been under three flags, Spanish, Mexican and finally American. Early on it became a trading center where trappers and explorers stopped as they moved up and down the western trails. By the time of Grantís arrival in Taos it had become a Mecca for artists and writers.
            Taos survived through periods of drought, violence from unfriendly Indians, and religious controversy. It was the home of a brief rebellion against the government of the United States in 1847.
            Two of its most famous early residents were Kit Carson and Padre Martinez. Today, in the twenty-first century, books are still being written about those two men as well as the many artists and writers who later settled in Taos.
            Grantís book is a wonderful introduction to this ancient village and its inhabitants. There is a vibrancy in her writing that brings the past to life.