March 16, 2003
Texas fires back at New Mexico

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The pressure of New Mexico's recent legislative goofiness was too much for our own elected officials to bear. Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson was the first to break when he proposed resolving the border dispute between Texas and New Mexico the old-fashioned way: with a duel. Once more, I quote in full:

SANTA FE - A 144-year-old dispute over a strip of land along the New Mexico-Texas border will be settled with an old-fashioned duel, if the land commissioners of both state's have any say in the matter.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson issued a challenge Friday to New Mexico Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons. The duel would take place on the New Mexico-Texas border with traditional dueling pistols, Patterson said.

"Since Pat's the only statewide elected Republican in New Mexico, you can trust me - I won't shoot to kill," Patterson said in a humorous written challenge. "I think I'll just wing him."

"Anytime, anywhere," Lyons said as he accepted the challenge. "We'll settle this once and for all 'cause I never miss a shot."

The dispute centers on 603,485 acres in west Texas.

In 1859, a surveyor established the nation's 103rd meridian as the border between Texas and New Mexico. But he then set the actual boundary too far west - 2.29 miles in some places, 3.77 miles in others, according to New Mexico officials.

Today, the Texas towns of Farwell, Texline, Bledsoe and Bronco lie within the strip, along with a lot of empty oil and grazing land.

New Mexico's territorial officials protested the error in a 1910 draft constitution for statehood. Federal officials then redid the survey and ruled that the 1859 version had indeed botched it.

But Texas fought back. In 1911, the feds essentially told New Mexico to give up the land claim or forget about statehood.

In 1912, New Mexico became a state - minus 603,485 acres.

Despite quips from Lyons and Patterson, the land commissioners duel is not likely to involve real bullets, said Kristin Haase, spokeswoman for the Lyons.

"It's a joke...If they do it, I'm sure they will use blanks or take every precaution to ensure the safety of the two land commissioners," Haase said Saturday.

I can't resist the urge to say that if a statewide referendum were to be held on this issue, I'd expect "live ammunition" to win by at least a 2-1 margin in both states. Who cares about land commissioners, anyway? Hell, I can already see the Fox executives scrambling to build a reality show around the concept.

It's also unlikely the duel would legally resolve the issue, she said.

The New Mexico Senate approved a measure Monday to instruct the attorney general's office to sue Texas over the land and for compensation for "subsurface mineral rights, oil and gas royalties and income, property taxes and grazing privileges.

The measure has been sent to the House for consideration.

Lyons said Friday the time and exact place for the duel hasn't been determined.

Patterson said it made sense that he and Lyons would settle a dispute with a duel since both, as state senators, authored legislation allowing citizens to lawfully carry concealed handguns.

In the spirit of those concealed-carry laws, I think each dueller should start with his gun in whatever holster he wears under his clothes. Tough luck if it's an ankle holster.

Thanks to the permalinkless Stoutdem for the tip.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 16, 2003 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack

Pat is a cousin,but I am a Texan. Sorry Pat, I will lend Patterson my vest (bullet proof)

Posted by: Eugene Lyons on March 20, 2004 12:29 AM

In the fifties, we kids who lived in Brownfield, Texas, in a dry county, used to drive 30 miles to New Mexico, where just over the state line, was the town of Bronco, consisting mostly of a filling station a package store and a couple of bars. I've since told this story and, in an effort to prove how Bronco, New Mexico, was just inches over the state line, have found that it's now in Texas. I'd just say, Wow, that just shows how close on the state line it was - - now it's in Texas. If New Mexico lost this land to Texas in 1911, how did we make these trips to wet Bronco? My old pals and I would love to know.

Posted by: Carolyn Weathers on November 27, 2004 7:09 PM