Jesse Rayroux (OFF)
I just like to take care of it and get out on my horse and ride fence and, when I’m out riding fence by myself, I feel like that I’m closer to God that way then I am in town or whatever.


Eric Volet (IN)
Delafontaine, Emery, Bengueli, were people from Corseaux, but not Herminjard. Herminjard was from Corsier.
They were small wine growers, very small wine growers, who generally owned a cow, a goat, a hog, but they were very small, very small proprietors.
And that’s how the idea of going abroad came about.

French-Speaking Switzerland 1891
Forceful Reasons

Narrator (OFF)
The year had started badly. After a long, hard winter, a hurricane of unprecedented violence had ravaged the north of the Canton of Vaud. From May to June, hail had ruined the last hopes of the farmers and wine growers.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Switzerland was freeing itself from its landowning origins to the advantage of a small nascent bourgeoisie. A country in mutation, it was opening its borders to foreign products as well as to curious visitors  who came to celebrate, in the land of work, the virtues of idleness.
The development of tourism provoked a rise in the price of land reserved until now for agriculture.
The economic crisis that had profoundly marked Europe was drawing to a close, and the small proprietors, as they awaited the announced recovery, had only the prospect of rising land prices, falling agricultural prices in the face of foreign competition, and the arrival of phylloxera which was at the gates of Geneva. In less than fifty years, the wine growing region of Vaud had diminished by half.
The unchanging values, placed in the context of a luxurious folklore for rich tourists, were condemned to disappear.
For a good many of its inhabitants, Switzerland was a country without a future, and for this population becoming poorer and poorer, as for so many compatriots already in exile, the dream came from America.
At this time, the United States counted about 100’000 Swiss Confederates among the emigrants who had flocked there since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Swiss no longer sold their military expertise: the poverty-stricken who tarnished the idyllic image of the land of shepherds were no longer exported with relief as mercenaries. In the imagination of the farmers, the fallow land of the great American spaces represented the utopian face of the promised land.

Eric Volet (IN)
The first thing, then, is this economic situation without issue. They could have carried on like that all their lives. What’s more, it was the lot of practically the whole population.
So America it was, it was paradise, according to the propaganda they were receiving. Because I myself saw some of those prospectuses they got. And if you’d been here and you ‘d had a family, it would’ve been tempting.
Henri Gaullieur (OFF)
Having often travelled all over the American Far West, I have had occasion to see to what extent precise information can save disappointment, hardship and time for people who leave their country.
The Pecos Valley in New Mexico seems to me to offer, more than any other, a fine future to farmers. When I saw these immense areas of fertile land, I became convinced that Swiss farmers, so little favoured at home by nature and often hampered by high land prices, would be at ease in this region.
I can in fact recommend to any colonist wishing to settle in the Pecos region the excellence and fertility of the soil, the abundance of the harvests, the peaceful character of the American people and the good market prices for all agricultural produce. I can present him with facts and figures; but I cannot guarantee, in a country so different in appearance, that he will not miss the lakes, forests and mountains of Switzerland.
In my opinion, Swiss settlers, that is the only inconvenience you could encounter.
But if you feel that profits, and not old Swiss customs, are what matters, then leave with a light heart. You will make more money in five or six years in the Pecos than you would make in fifty years at home.
Henri Gaullieur, The Pecos Region, July 1891.

Narrator (OFF)
A businessman from Geneva, sensing a good investment, was behind this promotion campaign.
Henri Gaullieur had lived for fifteen years in New York, where he had made a fortune trading tobacco. After his return to Switzerland, he was contacted at his castle in Kiesen by a group of Bernese philanthropists looking for land favourable for Swiss emigration to the United States.
Gaullieur believed he had discovered a rare pearl in New Mexico, where he had been invited by the Pecos Valley Irrigation and Improvement Company.
In July 1891, he published a pamphlet entitled, “The Pecos Region,” which was widely distributed in French-speaking Switzerland.
The impact of this pamphlet was considerable. The idea of the Pecos spread very quickly and aroused the interest of a large band of the population. By October 1891, twenty families, prepared to leave, had already bought land there. In less than three months, Gaullieur had assembled a first contingent of 60 colonists in the eyes of whom he represented the guarantee of fortune.
The party included two of his nephews: Charles de Brémond, 25, and his brother Rodolphe, 23. Their father owned agricultural land, a peat bog and a glass factory at Semsales in the state (Canton) of Fribourg. His businesses were going badly and Gaullieur easily convinced him to entrust his two sons to him. Also in the party, Auguste Rayroux, the gardener of Vufflens castle, widower and father of five children; his dream, to be able to have his own farm one day. He didn’t have the money to buy land in the Pecos so he signed on as a servant.
It was a heterogeneous group. There were farmers, people out of work, craftsmen like Louis Ramuz, a cobbler from Lausanne, but also children from good families like Alfred Necker, great-nephew of Madame de Staël, or the sons of Professor Herzen of the University of Lausanne.
But a group of wine growers from above Vevey formed the bulk of the party. They were led by Gustave Cuénod, a bankrupt wine merchant, and Samuel Emery, the charismatic teacher from Corseaux, who had maintained a long exchange of correspondence with Henri Gaullieur to assure himself of the soundness of the businessman’s promises.
He let himself be persuaded to bring along with him as many of his fellow citizens as possible.

Eric Volet (IN)
All the same, there was Samuel Emery, who was the driving force. It was he who made the contacts, he who persuaded his brothers-in-law to say, “why do you want to continue scraping those tiny parcels of land there, there’s nothing else to do, there’s nothing to do, there’s nothing to be gained.”

Daisy Rouilly (IN)
So my grandfather left, basically, with the idea of making his fortune too, not simply to hoe the land, because he loved the land, he had some at home. Therefore the aim was nonetheless to get rich.
What surprised me, and what has a little surprised all the descendants of this family, is that this very determined, intelligent man, who didn’t allow himself to be influenced by anybody… we haven’t understood how, in a few weeks or months, I don’t know, 2 or 3 months …
decided to leave with a whole family… because he was married, he had a son, a daughter and a wife who was pregnant…

Eric Volet (IN)
The farewell gathering took place in the hall of the Salvation Army, here, a very simple, very ancient hall, but still the whole village was assembled and it was there that my great-grandfather, their father in other words, said to them at the end of the meeting, “I curse you!”

Narrator (OFF)
On the morning of 13th October, the first group of emigrants left Switzerland. On the platform at Vevey station, there were more than forty people from Corseaux and Corsier: Gustave Cuénod and his eight children, Samuel Emery and his family, the Bengueli, Volet, Herminjart, Delafontaine, Magnenat and Fonjallaz families. As for Auguste Reyroux, he was alone: his children were to join him later.
After a long journey by train which took the settlers to Le Havre, they embarked aboard the steamer “La Gascogne.”
In the first class section, Charles and Rodolphe de Brémond were accompanied by their uncle, Henri Gaullieur, who was to report the success of their business venture to his American associates. He was a wise capitalist, not a philanthropist, and he had made a deal with the directors of the American company which managed the development of the Pecos Valley. For each acre of land sold in Switzerland, he was to receive a commission. This agreement was left tacit in order not to fall foul of the Federal Law on Emigration which, passed in 1888, forbade this sort of transaction. Henri Gaullieur had also profited from his many contacts in the Swiss business world to find the considerable investments sought by the Pecos Irrigation Company. Through his intermediary, a group of Genevan bankers had bought more than $500,000 of shares.

During the crossing, Gustave Cuénod wrote an account for a Vevey local newspaper.

Gustave Cuénod (OFF)
Dear Mr. Editor,
You were kind enough to promise me a place in your columns, so here are some details about our journey.
After a cursory visit to the customs, we hurriedly piled into the French carriages, not without some annoyances, some being separated from their family, others not able to find their luggage.
At Le Havre, the embarkation was accomplished immediately, and we took up quarters in steerage.
The beds, composed of a straw mattress, a good blanket and a pillow of straw, are in bunks of two, like the shelves of a huge greengrocer’s, the lower bunks being 30 centimetres above the floor to allow cleaning.
Up to then, we had a most disagreeable crossing. The sea was very rough.
At last, we arrived in New York, where we were received at the Hotel Grütli by fellow countrymen.
Now we have embarked upon a magnificent steamer where we are better installed. The boat has no port of call until Galveston, from where we shall leave as soon as possible by railway.
Such a complete harmony reigns amongst the members of our little colony that it must surely bode well for the future.We talk of home, of the sad wine harvest which must have been completed during the last few days, but most of all, we think with courage of what lies ahead.
Your devoted Gustave Cuénod, October 1891.

Narrator (OFF)
During the long journey which led them towards the small town of Eddy in New Mexico, the emigrants had little idea of what awaited them.
The West was almost completely colonised by this time and land was becoming scarce. Only the arid regions of the great deserts of the South-West still resisted the relentless advance of the pioneers. This part of the country, which was called “the last frontier,” owed its development more to speculation than to pioneer determination.
This land of plenty aroused in Europe a range of fantasies, which overshadowed a reality sometimes less golden. Even if life was difficult at the beginning, even if fortune took its time in coming, America was the land of freedom where the individual could preserve his identity and his independence.
In these vast spaces, the people from Corseaux hoped to resolve a conflict they had with their time.
Did they have any choice other than exile if they wanted to continue as farmers or wine growers, and not become hired workers, as employees or civil servants?
They lived this exile as an escape forward, choosing to avoid confrontation with a reality they wanted to forget.
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” as the Americans say.

Winter 1891-92
The Importance of the Venoge

Marc Cuénod (IN)
I think, that’s always been kind of a mystery, that not only grandpapa would come but that the other families would come without sending a scout, if you will, ahead to look at where they were going, because, they literally would thought that this was a land of milk and honey and I don’t believe that New Mexico at that time was a whole lot different than it is now. If anybody had ever seen it, it was really kind of the pits!

Narrator (OFF)
The first Swiss settlers arrived in Eddy on 5th November 1891. It was barely a town, had about a hundred inhabitants and, promotion required it, two newspapers, a high class hotel with a French chef to receive distinguished guests, and a bank, which served as the base of the Pecos Irrigation Company. The new arrivals were welcomed there. The town hall was an impressive building which rose up in the middle of the desert; the railway line, by which the colonists had arrived, had just been inaugurated.
It was anticipated to extend it one day in the direction of the north, towards the big markets where the produce of the valley would be sold.
The Swiss lands were situated about twenty kilometres away to the south of Eddy, where the construction of a hamlet had begun. The directors of the Irrigation Company had called it “Vaud” in honor of their first customers. Today, this village is called “Loving.”
The building of roads and canals, as well as houses promised to the settlers, had not been completed, the Company saying that they had been pressed for time. The Swiss spent their first nights in tents. Unable to start work immediately, the days were devoted to acquiring the necessary material. On the advice of Henri Gaullieur, the settlers had effectively left with the minimum of baggage, expecting to find, in accordance with what Gaullieur had said, much cheaper equipment on arrival. Unfortunately, they dicovered that not only were the prices in force generally four times higher than in Switzerland, but also the goods were of very poor quality. Nevertheless, the people from Vaud retained their optimism. Gaullieur made a tour of the properties showing off magnificent fruit and vegetables, reputedly harvested from neighbouring lands.

Jed Howard (IN)
Promotion was always at the heart of what they had in mind. There was no community here pre-dating their scheme, there was not a house on the desert at that time and so, it was a totally created community, a created world. It was up to them to create at least an image that would convey to people that all hopes in the future were here.

Harvey Hicks (IN)
The early promoters who came to the area with the idea of building a lush valley, were impressed with the appearance of the land before it went into cultivation and the amount of water that was available because in the late 1800’s the river was a huge river. Today you can’t believe that because there is not even a river flow in most of the area. It’s completely dry. Dams and the denuding of the forest and the overgrazing have changed the water flow. But these gentlemen who had the vision of a irrigated valley saw all the water and all of the good land and they missed the problems that
were going to arise when the water began to recede, pumping began to lower the water table and the rivers went dry and the springs went dry.


Jed Howard (IN)
The American people are eternally optimistic and eternally reaching for bigger things and better things and they are really unhappy with anybody who’s negative about anything. They value enthusiasm and these were enthusiasts who were here in the valley.

Gustave Cuénod (OFF)
The early times will be hard, it is true, but the work will be handsomely rewarded, as I have been able to judge for myself: all the farms in the neighbourhood of Eddy are flourishing and the farmers delighted. The soil seems excellent. We have a lot of work to do, but we are fully confident of its success.
Gustave Cuénod, Eddy, 8th November 1891.

Narrator (OFF)
Not all the settlers were in agreement with the optimistic remarks that Gustave Cuénod sent to the newspapers in French-speaking Switzerland, but they did not dare to admit this until much later.

The Pecos, Mr. Gaullieur had said to me,
is like the Rhine at Basel.
My first astonishment, on arriving there,
was to discover that it did not have
the importance of the Venoge.
(Anonymous, 1893)

Narrator (OFF)
In effect, the emergence of the dreamed oasis depended on the waters of the Pecos. Upstream of Eddy, the Irrigation Company had finished the construction of a dam and a reservoir, as well as that of a main canal which crossed the river in the form of a gigantic wooden aqueduct. These significant projects had necessitated the importation of a thousand Chinese workers. In its haste, the Company had confided the conception of the network of irrigation canals to specialised railway engineers, who had seen large, and anticipated irrigating more than a million acres over 300 kilometres along the edge of the river.
To the south of “Vaud,” the founding of a second hamlet was in preparation: “Malaga,” after the name of the grapes they were going to grow there; and a third community was about to see the light of day on the Texas border. The grateful directors of the Company proposed to call it “Gaullieurville.”

Jim Ogden (IN)
This is the out area of Vaud. They built laterals of about 110 miles in lenght to serve the various farms and when they had problems such as this, well this was one of the first priorities because land in this area and land accros the Black River were not receiving enough water and this was a way to get to cruise, sort of put together but, all this is just deteriorated from, not from buldozers but from time. It’s a hard thing to keep, concrete, from cracking and deteriorating in the salt conditions of the soil and the salt conditions of the water.
The soils from Carlsbad down just west of Loving were pretty good quality soils and there wasn’t too much leaching or subing from that soil. Although there was a little bit just west of Loving but basically the bigest problem started from Loving to the south and just immediatly west of Loving, where this outcroping of gypsum is severe. And this was one of the things that gave the Irrigation District the greatest amount of problems, was the gypsum and the subing and as a result of the water moving through the soils, well this caused the salt to rise and this, in time, ruined a lot of the farmland and they put in drainage ditches but still the tightness of the soil won’t let them have what you call a good farm. And the people who came and cleared this all out had basically the greatest amount of problems and it just intensified over the years.

Gustave Cuénod (OFF)
All the emigrants are delighted with their new homeland. They are all in agreement that the reports of Mr. Gaullieur rested beneath the truth. We are going to sow oats which produce more than 6,000 francs per concession; corn, expensive and very necessary; sorghum which produces up to 500 francs per acre; not to mention vegetables: cabbages from 10 to 20 kilos, onions 15 centimetres in diameter and 100 kilo squash!
Gustave Cuénod, Vaud, 17th November 1891.

Narrator (OFF)
The Pecos valley is not devoid of history.
For more than four centuries, the Apaches hunted the herds of bison there and defended it against the coming of the White Man.
From 1880, after a long military campaign which terminated in the surrender and deportation of Geronimo, the Apaches Mescaleros were shifted to a reserve far from the fertile lands.
The decimated bison were replaced by the cattle of the ranchers. Adventurers of uncertain origin, these nomads were no choirboys.
There were numerous settlings of scores which attracted such specialists as Pat Garret and Billy the Kid. These fierce rivalries degenerated and a civil war broke out: the Lincoln County War.
At the conclusion of this conflict, one Charles Eddy came to settle in the valley. His ranching hopes were quickly wiped out by a terrible drought which exterminated two thirds of his cattle.
Then, together with some associates, he thought about creating an irrigation network. By Government concession, they obtained several thousand acres for free in 1888. They chased out the Mexican colonies established along the river and looked for finance for their venture.
At this point, a millionaire by the name of John Hagerman intervened and agreed to invest more than a million dollars in the nascent Pecos Valley Irrigation and Improvement Company.
The Pecos was no longer this mythical frontier of civilisation beyond which only guns made the law.

Jed Howard (IN)
The West did not civilized easily. The newspapers record a number of killings, that type of things. And in a little community like this, you would expect every Saturday night to have some cowboys riding through the streets shooting in the air. You would expect to find that cattle were being stolen by someone or another. and you find things happening here, especially in those early years, that you would not have expected to find in the East of the US. The Swiss of course had come in in the midst of other struggles going on in this community at the same time and probably little understood some of the situations they found themselves in. I think it was also difficult for them to the extend that they were not English speaking. That would necessarily pull them within themselves as a group and give them very little access to other people in the area, or much help of other people in the area.

Samuel Emery (OFF)
Already during the first month of our arrival, the thermometer descended well below zero. Then the wind, always this wind, which we named the “Gaullieur breezes,” sweeping along clouds of dust, which dries out the soil as fast as we irrigate it. For as long as it blows, a raging thirst torments the settler. It seems as if the ovens of a factory throw their blazing breath in your face.

During the second half of December, rains the like of which we have never seen arrived. The houses suffered badly, and then we had a real cyclone which completely destroyed Grelet’s house.

Of all the settlers, I was the first to be struck down by fever. Without realising what I had, I saw myself obliged to stay in bed. This sickness takes two forms: sometimes, it is a gradual wasting away, without much suffering, which reduces you almost to nothing and from which it is difficult to get back on your feet. Other times, it is a kind of typhoid fever which puts individuals at the gates of the tomb when it does not cut them down: Bingueli’s wife and two of his daughters, the little Brésard girl and one of Bourquin’s children are all dead from it. Those who were not struck down form a tiny minority, a fifth at most of the population.
How can we survive here under these conditions?
Samuel Emery, Vaud, Winter 1891.

On 2nd January, Elise, the wife of Samuel Emery,
died while giving birth to still-born twins.
Henri Gaullieur (OFF)
My dear Mr. Emery,
I should have written to you a long time ago to tell you how much I sympathised with you in the cruel loss you have experienced. But you will never know what life awaited me on my return. More than 4 or 500 people assailed me, some awaiting my return to leave, others seeking advice, others to reserve land for September, still others to show politeness to me. In short, I have been in Switzerland for 6 weeks and I have not had a moment to myself.
Everybody in French-speaking Switzerland, from the poshest to the most humble, is talking about the Pecos.
Henri Gaullieur, Vevey, 6th March 1892.

Spring 1892
The Truth about the Pecos

Narrator (OFF)
In the United States, the winter had been particularly hard, but the spring sunshine brought with it the hope of the first crops. The village of Vaud counted more than 150 inhabitants and new settlers continued to arrive every day.

Samuel Emery (OFF)
All the vines have hardly risen three inches and are putting out grapes. All the soil is hard, which is caused by the irrigation. When the ground dries, it forms a hard crust on top which prevents the plants from growing. In the spring, the rains were completely absent. The beans look very small, and there is no possibility of having any vegetables. They all disappear as fast as they grow up. The first cut of alfalfa was pretty mediocre; as for barley and oats, they were almost completely lacking.
The sorghum gave quite a large amount of poor quality fodder which the Company bought from us at a price below what had been promised and on condition that we transport it 33 miles from Vaud.
It was during one of these expeditions that Pérusset was killed, crushed, borne down under a wagon of sorghum.
Of the ten acres of alfalfa that I had sown in the spring, I only harvested 23 dollars’ worth. Nobody has been able to tell whether the problem is caused by the water or by the soil. As for the potatoes, they have given absolutely nothing. Luckier than my neighbours, I had some yellow carrots to sell. One day, I gave a sack of them to my neighbour Magnenat who was going to town. He offered the produce around most of the shops without being able to sell a single one.
In conclusion, the crop return has not achieved the tenth of the lowest figures guaranteed by Gaullieur.
Samuel Emery, Spring 1892.

Daisy Rouilly (IN)
He acted as lumberjack and prepared the wood to make coffins for all his little family. And he buried them at a certain place not very far from home, to keep them nearby, but afterwards, later on, before leaving, he still had the courage to disinter them, saying to himself, “I’m going away, and I don’t want to leave them there because it will certainly spread further out, it will perhaps become a town, and I’m going to put them much further away.” So he left on horseback and no one in the family knew where he went. I’m a bit suspicious myself that he went to the Indians.
Because he went there a lot, they were great friends of his, and each time he was feeling down, he went and drank a little something down there, and me… I have the feeling that he went into the reserve with his own, as if to place them under a protection, since he was leaving.

Samuel Bauderaz (IN)
The story of the Pecos, I remember once when I was a little boy, he spoke about it at home in the bedroom, and I only remember one thing, he told us how once they had brought the horses to drink at the edge of the Pecos and that there was a veritable carpet of snakes, me… I believe I dreamt about it that night, that’s all.


Louis Delafontaine (IN)
They went to school in a buggy, as she used to call it, a buggy, I don’t know if it had two wheels or four wheels, I don’t know anything about it. They had a horse, they went to school with his brothers and sisters, and they tied the horse up to… there was the place required to leave this horse, and then they went back home with the horse. She told us there were rattlesnakes, there were rattlesnakes everywhere. Fortunately, they they didn’t need to walk. Everywhere, there were rattlesnakes. They kept hearing them.

Louis Gaillard (IN)
My father said that their stories were just a pack of lies. America wasn’t like that at all, it was wild, backward and my father had clearly noticed this from the first moment he was there. He told us stories about showers of locusts, but everything was destroyed, it was terrible, he used to tell us it was terrible over there, these showers of locusts.

Daisy Rouilly (IN)
Then there were absolute waves of Mexicans who swept down on his lettuces and who carried off everything. Oh me… I laugh about it, but I think that, basically, there, at that time, they didn’t have much to laugh about over there.

Narrator (OFF)
In the spring, some of the settlers left to look for better conditions in other regions of America. For the first time, disappointment became apparent. Vengeful letters accusing Henri Gaullieur began arriving in Switzerland.

Colonist (OFF)
Why have we been committed to buying land in this cursed Pecos when we could find some at the gates of New York at the same price and for the same conditions of payment ?

Narrator (OFF)
The Federal authorities came out of their silence. They mistrusted Gaullieur, accused him of disseminating propaganda in favour of emigration, which was forbidden, and refused him the right to represent the Pecos Company officially in Switzerland.

Authorities (OFF)
Mr. Gaullieur is one of the principal shareholders of the Pecos Irrigation Company and all the philanthropy of which he makes such a show may well be just interested propaganda.

Narrator (OFF)
Henri Gaullieur denied these accusations.

Henri Gaullieur (OFF)
Not only does the Irrigation Company not make any propaganda, but it has notified the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs that, in view of the incompetence and the ungracious tone of the Federal Emigration Commission, it no longer wishes to have any representation in Switzerland; and that, in view of the malevolence of that office, it would no longer offer any of the advantages that I had obtained from it.

Narrator (OFF)
To defend his honor, Gaullieur asked the Swiss colonists to send him a letter of support. Only Gustave Cuénod obliged.

Gustave Cuénod (OFF)
That we miss our beautiful lake is undeniable. Every resident around the Lake of Geneva transported to another country misses it, and that’s very understandable. But the various reasons that brought us here are forceful enough to make us forget many things.
Gustave Cuénod, April 1892.
Summer – Autumn 1892
Growth and Prosperity

Narrator (OFF)
During the summer of 1892, the future of the Pecos was decided at Valleyres-sous-Rance. This little village at the foot of the Jura counted amongst its inhabitants a rich philanthropist called William Barbey, who owned most of the agricultural and wine-growing land. He had been approached by Henri Gaullieur, and the two men were preparing to send out to the Pecos some 60 people from the region of Orbe. Nevertheless, William Barbey remained attentive to the negative echoes amongst the contradictory information which began to filter back from the distant colony.
He decided to send out an observer, and asked Paul Lambercy, a farmer in whom he had confidence, for a detailed report on the situation.

Samuel Bauderaz (IN)
When my grandfather came back from the Pecos… so following on from the conditions Mr. Barbey had imposed on him… it certainly didn’t make him light at heart because he wasn’t a man who liked to talk in public, but he was committed to speaking about everything he had seen out there. He gave a conference for everyone who wanted to come, everybody, there were quite a lot of farmers from the region who came, precisely in this building which is the Sunday School building, and it was here that it took place, this conference which was finally crucial in the options that the farmers of the period took.

Paul Lambercy (OFF)
When we were able to approach the settlers, our first question was naturally: “How are things going?”
“It’s not going too well, we were told, the crops won’t grow.”
“But then why have you been writing such favourable reports? That everything was going well and that you were very happy?”
“It was only at the beginning that everything went well. It was only later that things went wrong, when we saw such scraggy little plants and the shoots drying up almost as soon as they got above ground!”
You can imagine after that, and I’m telling you the things just as I saw them, in all honesty, how happy I was that I went out there without my family. When I came back home, I said to myself:
“Ah, what a beautiful country, long live Switzerland.”
Believe me, if we sometimes have difficulty living in our country, it is because we live too well here. If you could see the Pecos farmers! The richest of them live in cabins and are wretchedly dressed. I’m not saying that it’s necessary to go without everything, but if we knew how to live like some Americans, we wouldn’t need to go to America.
Paul Lambercy, The Truth about the Pecos, 16th June 1892.

Narrator (OFF)
This conference had a bombshell effect on a public opinion still largely favourable to Pecos.
William Barbey cancelled his plans and the Press seized on the affair, the stakes of which became political.
For more than a year, a polemic divided those who defended Gaullieur and those who denounced what can be considered, from a certain point of view, as an enormous scandal.
Close to the Genevan business world, the “Feuille d’Avis de Vevey,” the “Gazette de Lausanne” and the “Journal de Genève” strongly disapproved of the campaign of denigration against Pecos led by newspapers such as the “Genevois,” the “Nouvelliste vaudois,” the “Revue” or the “Neuchâtelois.”
For this more socialist press, the Pecos undertaking was a total failure for which Henri Gaullieur was alone responsible.
Gaullieur defended himself. In an interview given to the “Journal de Genève,” he called the settlers who had failed, “idiots, layabouts and drunks.”
The arrival of a new pamphlet added to the fierceness of the arguments. Written by Alexandre Herzen and published in October 1892 by Payot Editions, it corroborated the accounts of Paul Lambercy.
Alexandre Herzen and Paul Lambercy were violently criticised, notably by settlers such as Charles de Brémond or Gustave Cuénod who, in spite of the numerous defections, retained their hopes and their dream of an oasis.

Gustave Cuénod (OFF)
Mr. Lambercy feels compassion for our lot and why? Look, we have just left the table after a supper of farm eggs, meat at 4 and a half sous a pound, green salad from the garden, all washed down with a bottle of Californian wine at 65 centimes a litre and certainly every bit as good as the wine from Valeyres. Does Mr. Lambercy dine at home more copiously or cheaply? In this case, our congratulations. He would have liked to find in the Pecos Swiss farms surrounded by cool shade, paved sheds full of fat cows, lofts overflowing with grain, and in comparing the fertile farms at the foot of the Jura to our wooden or earth houses, he is disappointed.
But for how long have the farms of Valeyres been under cultivation? Six months ago, there was only mesquite on our land. Wait therefore; leave us time to draw breath, to find our way, to drive the plow into our lands, to learn when we must sow, how we must irrigate… then come back in three years. If God allows us life, we promise you a dinner of produce from the Pecos that we’re sure you’ll like. That there are grumpy malcontents here, there’s nothing to be surprised about. Where aren’t there? So let the malcontents go and settle down somewhere else, the world is still large. We find it difficult to understand why they came here, if they were so content at home. Where one is content, one stays!
Gustave Cuénod, Vaud, July 1892.

Narrator (OFF)
In the autumn, Samuel Emery, discouraged, threw in the towel and brought back with him those who wished to return home.

Daisy Rouilly (IN)
Some of them talked of plans as they just passed the evening together. And some spoke nonetheless of going somewhere else, since they had already left in any case. Since we’re already away, let’s go and look at somewhere else. For them, somewhere else could have been anywhere. But my grandfather who would have been the first, I’m sure, to say, “Ok, we’ll go away, we’ll start again, but somewhere else….”   He would have been the first to agree, but I think that, unfortunately, the fact that he no longer had his wife, the fact that all the same he would be dragging three children into adventures which were not easy, meant that he took the decision of the reasonable man, of the responsible father. It is that and that alone which made him come back home.

Eric Volet (IN)
Old Delafontaine always said that he… he was the only one who had lost nothing. But he didn’t want to stay over there alone with his wife and daughter… he had a daughter… he didn’t want to stay on alone, and so, when the others really decided to go away, he followed them. But he asserted that it was possible to manage… and perhaps they were in too much of a hurry to get out, but you know how it is when things are going badly, you’re not at home, you haven’t sold your produce, it was mostly wheats they grew out there, and there we are! Their nerves cracked!

Louis Delafontaine (IN)
My grandfather said at that moment, “I’m going home too, I’m not staying here. If you’re going back, I’m going back with you.” It was our mother who told us that. Since Samuel Emery was going back home, well, I… we’re going back too… and that meant they sold off everything and came back home!

Eric Volet (IN)
Oh, it was all done with the utmost discretion. They came back stealthily, very quietly and suddenly it was said in the village like a powder trail, “They’ve come back!”
Louis Delafontaine (IN)
They didn’t want to talk about it, they didn’t want to talk about it… in other words, they didn’t talk about it at all. What could you do! They didn’t talk about it. Once, my mother said to us, “There, I went to the Pecos.” She spoke, she knew how to count in German, in English, and we were astonished, and it was then that it started, the story that she spoke in English, she counted in English, we said, “There we are.” And then it started from there, “I went to the Pecos, we were on a ship, on a liner,” all that.

Daisy Rouilly (IN)
They weren’t all very happy, I don’t think so, but they never said, “It’s a pity that Samuel Emery took it on himself to get us into such a business,” never. He was lucky about that.

Eric Volet (IN)
They thought that the agent had tricked them and that Samuel Emery had left with his head much too down, because he was a leader, Samuel Emery, I knew him, and, well, he was a driving force. That was how he succeeded in convincing his brothers-in-law, who bore a grudge against him a tiny little bit, but all the same not particularly, because Samuel Emery, he was a personality and one didn’t go against personalities.

Harvey Hicks (IN)
Many of the people who did not realize their dreams when they came sold their land, if they could, or, if they had enough assets, they just left and turned the land back to the Company. They Hispanic population, who had practically no assets, most of us from Texas, and Oklahoma and Arkansa, our ancestors, were in the same position with practically no assets. The choice of going back someplace was not ours, or our ancestors, therefore the people stayed and went through the bad periods. And the bad periods did not last that long.

Narrator (OFF)
The Pecos Irrigation Company reacted vigorously to the attacks coming from Switzerland. It organised exhibitions of fruit and vegetables, displaying huge bunches of grapes supposedly harvested by the Swiss settlers who had, in fact, left the region several months previously.

Jed Howard (IN)
As far as most of the community was concerned, you should be saying the right thing, and the right thing was that this was going to be a major metropolis of the West. Everyone was going to prosper, majorly on magnificent farmland and great produce. I don’t see any reason to blame the Swiss for anything. I’m sorry that they were promised so much, that turned out not to be possible, but I would suspect that the people making those promises were promising it to themselves as well and were convinced that this might happen. In America if it might happen, it’s gonna happen, so you move forward on that assumption.

Everything grows and prospers around us.
Gustave Cuénod, Vaud, December 1892

August 1893
The Passage of the Pecos

Narrator (OFF)
A year and a half after its foundation, there remained, in spite of the departure of the group from Corseaux, about a hundred residents in the Swiss colony of the Pecos. The second winter was milder. The colony got its breath back and hopes were reborn. Nevertheless, day to day life remained very hard: typhoid fever and diptheria took their toll and accidents were frequent.

The Swiss community were divided over what attitude to adopt towards the Irrigation Company, which had not kept all its promises and which now demanded from the settlers the payment of water rights which it had promised would be free until the estates became profitable.
The Swiss became tense: Alfred Necker and the son of Louis Ramuz were arrested for cattle-stealing; Guillon attacked Secrétan; and Bernard adopted customs of a local color by shooting at two English walkers whom he took for Mexicans.

On the morning of 5th August, after two days of violent rains following a long period of drought, the Pecos Valley was flooded by a genuine tidal wave which took with it the dam, the aqueduct, the Eddy power station and a major section of railway.

This catastrophe wiped out the last seeds of optimism.
The Swiss colonists who would stay on, or who would not have the means to leave, would see difficult years ahead.
For the major investors of the Pecos Irrigation Company, the Flood of 1893 was a brutal awakening. A conflict broke out between John Hagerman and Charles Eddy, who was invited to retire and left the town which bore his name. John Hagerman was accused of bad management by the shareholders of the Company, of which the majority were Swiss bankers.
Nevertheless, he invested the rest of his fortune in the reconstruction of the irrigation system and the extension of the railway line northwards. However, his efforts were not sufficient to attract new settlers and his bankruptcy, in 1898, entailed that of the Company.

Still, the Swiss bankers would recover part of their investments in 1952, when Texaco, scenting the presence of oil, bought from them the mineral rights on the land they still owned.

By the dawn of the new century, most of the Swiss residents of Pecos had left the area.

As for Henri Gaullieur, he remained convinced of the future of New Mexico. He invested money in the development of the town of Roswell, situated about a hundred kilometres away to the north, before embarking upon a discreet and peaceful retirement in his castle at Kiesen. He was never to be disturbed by the Swiss courts: the complaints lodged against him by several colonists on their return home were never followed up. According to him, the failure of the Swiss colonists was due to their mentality. In his pamphlet of 1891, he had already advised against committing the same errors as other Swiss colonies.

Henri Gaullieur (OFF)
In Switzerland, we have never sufficiently concerned ourselves in general with the conditions necessary to the success of an emigrant; that is a mistake. The idea that the Swiss emigrant can conserve his customs, his ideas, his methods of work when he leaves with other compatriots to found what is called a “Swiss colony,” is a false one. The people who wanted to found these colonies did not know the United States, otherwise they would have understood that the colonist must inevitably change his habits, that he cannot take his country with him, even if he is accompagnied by a hundred or two hundred compatriots.
Henri Gaullieur, “The Pecos Region,” July 1891

Jed Howard (IN)
It has always intrigued me that the Italian families who came in as farmworkers as part of the Swiss arrangement, did tend to stay, tend to remain here and are still here in the valley. It is my guess that they had come from harder situations at home than the Swiss and saw nothing to go back to.

Harvey Hicks (IN)
The people who came here were pioneers, they were individualists, they lived by themselves, they did not depend on other people at all. When they had a problem they either solved it or it got them. Where as the group that we’re talking about of Swiss, is an entirely different situation. They were all working together, they had, an identity I think is a good way to describe what was holding them together, and if they decided that it wasn’t gonna work, then if some of them left, then probably all of them felt that they had to leave.

Jed Howard (IN)
I would be inclined to think that the people who left were wiser than the people who stayed, but of course, it can vary from one individual to another and what the situation was.
Harvey Hicks (IN)
I think it was probably a need to stay together and I don’t believe they had the pioneer spirit that was required to come to this area and make a go of it. Probably the ones that were less affluent would be the only ones who had what was required and that would be the people that didn’t have the choices. If they had a choice, they went back.

Narrator (OFF)
Charles de Brémond, the aristocrat and nephew of Gaullieur, was to look for ground more favourable to the realisation of his ambitions. A present from John Hagerman, he bought for one dollar a large agricultural property to the north of the valley.
But it was thanks to his military qualities that he entered into the history of New Mexico. Founder of an artillery battery at Roswell, he distinguished himself, while commanding the same, when Pancho Villa tried to infiltrate the South of the United States. At the time of the First World War, he was one of the heros of the Battle of Château Thierry.
He died at Roswell, where he still personifies today one of those successes of which the Americans celebrate the memory.

Unlike his fellow countrymen, Charles de Brémond knew how to adapt. He modified the terms of his utopian plan and knew how to create a ground fruitful to the expression of his personal qualities. He understood that no farmer could “Swissify” the nature of Pecos and he preferred to redirect the path of his success. In that, he proved he had the pioneering spirit which perhaps the people from Lavaux lacked.
They had left to recreate a familiar universe and if they dreamed, it was not of an exotic Eldorado, but of a country which had to resemble the picturesque one they had left not without regrets.
Their emigration was not a real break with the past and their integration in a very different country was not made easy as a result. Of course, bad luck and grave unforeseen events contributed to their giving up. All the same, the community values of the Swiss colonists coincided badly with the requirements dictated by a “state of survival” favouring individualism. Lacking in colonial traditions and ethnocentric feelings, these values were not those which called for the enterprising spirit which is the real foundation of the American mentality. In adversity, these community values manifested themselves in a way which was more gregarious than cohesive, and particularly in the relationship the Home country maintained with the colony. More than bad intentions, one must see in that a naïvety or incompetence concerning the subject of emigration. This does not alter the fact that the settlers in Pecos received little support from their fellow countrymen, notably the public authorities. The State position towards Henri Gaullieur always remained very hazy, which hardly helped to make him, or his co-investors, aware of their responsibilities towards the Pecos colony.
Left to itself, the community found itself up against a problem identical to the one which had motivated its exodus: the need for an inescapable evolution.

Two radically different attitudes demonstrated the awareness of such a necessity:
Samuel Emery testified to a rapid resignation inexorably confirming the desire to return home.
Gustave Cuénod, on the other hand, expressed a long obstinate denial which transformed itself little by little into bitter disappointment. He was one of the last Swiss to abandon his farm, which had not brought him the fortune he had hoped for.
He left the valley, roamed to Texas with his 13 children and ended up settling down in Galveston where he finished his existence in a modest situation as an employee.

Gustave Cuénod (OFF)
We persevered for longer than the other Swiss but finished by giving up as well. After a number of years and when the colony had dispersed itself in all directions of the compass, not only of the United States but of the world, the facts came to render them a belated justice. Unfortunately, the human lives sacrificed, the time wasted, the good healths ruined and the money thrown away cannot be regained.
Gustave Cuénod, Galveston, 1900
Loving 1992
The Land of Enchantment

Narrator (OFF)
The story of the Pecos is one which reveals Western culture’s need to subjugate its environment and dominate it according to rules which take less into consideration its specificity than pre-established moral precepts. The European colonists never studied the way of life of the Apaches in the desert. The meeting between Indian and Western pioneer therefore resulted in no real exchange.

Johnny Reid, Farmer (IN)
Some of these wells in this area are producing as much as 140 barils a day. At 20 dollars a baril, you can multiplie that out… that’s 2’800 dollars a day.

Woman (IN)
I don’t think there’s any Swiss, no…

Narrator (OFF)
The history of the valley has been punctuated by a succession of wagers: agricultural, then geological. Neither of them has ever really achieved the desired profitability. Today, agriculture is of secondary importance and profits a few privileged people who can also count on the mineral rights of the soil. Potash represents only a tiny part of the income and the deposits of oil have never been sufficient to provide a great number of jobs.

Teatcher (IN)
– We want to educate our kids so they can go out into the big cities and live out there, and survive out there.
– We don’t want them to stay here!

Narrator (OFF)
The modern Pecos has no real cultural identity. Few settlers are rooted there. It’s a land of transit, a region without memory where the population fluctuates according to new ventures. At Loving, various communities live together without any great reasons for meeting: Indians, Anglo-Saxons and Mexicans, who form the majority of the population.

Woman (IN)
– It used to be called Veto or something.
– Vaud !
– Wooo ?
– Vaud !
– Vaud !

Narrator (OFF)
No event celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the town; almost all of the inhabitants are ignorant of its original name, and the relationship they maintain with this earth is very different from the one the farmer or wine grower from Vaud desired, in his search for land.

The Rayroux family, descended from the gardener of Vufflens, is an exception. The only Swiss family to have founded a line in the valley represents a possibility of living in harmony with the natural environment.

Thanks to a small employment pension, Jesse Rayroux was able, on his retirement, to acquire the ranch he had dreamed about. He raises a small amount of livestock which, without exhausting the soil’s resources, and together with his pension, allows him to lead a way of life, modest certainly, but in keeping with his ecological aspirations.


Jesse Rayroux (IN)
Well it’s just something I always wanted to do ever since I was a little kid, was work a ranch and raise cattle and be able to take care of them and just that way of life. Something about it that I always wanted to do.

Narrator (OFF)
The Rayroux show a desire to rectify compared to the damage committed by colonisation.
They are against the excessive expansion of the oil wells and run a sort of clinic for wild animals, victims of modernisation.
The Rayroux have integrated themselves into the natural balance of the valley.
Their younger daughter, Sammie, will soon be the last native to bear a Swiss name, but with regard to her life, and the attachment she shows towards this region, she may be considered as the direct descendant of the Swiss colonists, whose roots are deeply embedded. Thus the initiatory relationship that she has established with Evelyn Martinez, one of the last keepers of the Indian traditions, is particularly symbolic. The old woman teaches the young girl knowledge that is condemned to disappear, and this attempt to get back to the depths of the Apache culture is the mark of an intense loyalty towards this region.

Sammie Rayroux (IN)
Evelyn is the traditional counselor for the Apache Mescalero Indian tribe, out of Ruidoso. Her family came from the Guadalupe mountains, her father was the last Apache killed in the mountains and she remembers when she was young leaving in tipis, until about 1936.
In a way she’s kind of like part of our family now, she’s like another grandmother to me. She teaches me a lot, like some of the things they do with plants, some of that knowledge, the basic knowledge, she has told me just when we were walking around gathering the Mescal. Things like that. And some of the stories, when she was growing up, some of that she has passed on. But as far as any of the traditional knowledge, I don’t think that this would ever be passed on to me. I’m an outsider. But that I understand and I respect.
That’s their way of life and I don’t want to intrude. Now if there ever was the chance that anything should be passed on to me, I would feel that responsability, you know, to keep that information. Well to never forget it. And then to pass that information on.
I’ve got all kinds of backgrounds, you know. And Switzerland, it means a lot to me, knowing that there are more Rayroux over there. That there are very few here but over there, you know, there’s a bunch of them and, like I said, I would like to go over there and meet them. Meet my relatives and just get to know them. I would like to learn more about my background, about that part of my life, find out where I came from and what it was like.
This will always be my home, no matter where I go, and it’s very likely that I will come back to that same valley, to the same area.

Narrator (OFF)
The relationship between Evelyn and Sammie is not merely a link between past and present; it is also the symbol of a missed appointment, of an impossible meeting between two cultures which observed each other from a distance in the twilight of the last century.

In Switzerland at first, the return from this untameable Far West profoundly marked the imagination. In the Twenties, the Pecos evoked a mythical place, defined a hazy frontier, between Heaven and Hell, which entered into popular speech: it is said of a woman that she is the most beautiful west of the Pecos. Its name was given to squalid neighbourhoods or alleys of disrepute, and then the memory of it blurred as Switzerland prospered.
But the desire for a better elsewhere remained inveterate for a long time. So when, a number of years later, the boat of Henri, the son of Samuel Emery, was found washed up on the shore of the Lake of Geneva, the police rapidly concluded that it was suicide. But the people from Corseaux knew that Henri was the best swimmer along the coast, and as his body was never found, a legend goes that he went back to try his fortune in America, further this time, in California, West of the Pecos.

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