Franklin Folsom
June and Gene

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A page dedicated to the memory of Franklin Folsom


Mary and "Dank" on one of their many walks.

Let's begin this cyberspace tribute to Franklin with a heartfelt memoir from a fellow writer and explorer.

Memoir in Honor of Franklin Folsom

I first became acquainted with Franklin Folsom's writing skills when I was studying several caves in New Mexico for possible archaeological sites - the Bureau of Land Management had recently named a cave near Ft. Stanton after me. I bought Franklin's book, "Exploring American Caves: History, Geology, Lore and Location," to learn more about cave research.

I met Franklin when we worked together trying to bring George McJunkin out of the realm of folklore into reality in the late 1960s. I had long before decided that McJunkin was a real person, and not a fictional character as some had suggested, and I had visited the Folsom, N.M., area and obtained a number of interviews with people who knew of McJunkin. I later sent this material to Franklin Folsom, who was a well-established historical researcher and writer with a special interest in archaeology.

Our first meeting established a friendship that lasted until his death. He and his wife, Mary Elting, who often collaborated with him, continued my initial work. They spent several years doing research before publishing "The Life and Legend of George McJunkin, Black Cowboy," establishing that McJunkin was the man who found the Folsom site in 1908. We were eager to find as much information on McJunkin as possible - a difficult problem because he died in 1922.

Our association taught me better investigative and interview techniques. I was quickly impressed by Folsom's warm and open personality and his dedication to the work of separating facts from folklore. He was more than a friend; he was my teacher in this type of research. We worked together without any conflict; we shared our information and worked with maximum cooperation.

He was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, and he graduated from the University of Colorado in 1928. For a time he worked as a Rocky Mountain guide, an experience that must have developed his walking skills, for he enjoyed walking. At an advanced age he walked across the United States on the Great Peace March.

He wrote more than eighty books, some of which made the best-seller list. His books were instructive, but more important, they were able to be read by the general reading public. A number of his books were for children.

His books that helped me most in my field of anthropology included "America's Ancient Treasures," "Famous Pioneers," "Red Power in the Rio Grande: The Native American Revolution of 1680" and "Science and the Secret of Man's Past." Books written with his wife included "If You Lived in the Days of the Wild Mammoth," "Hunters," and "The Story of Archaeology of the Americas."

Though now deceased, Franklin will live for generations in the hearts and minds of all who are interested in spelunking or the Indian past of the Southwest. And I will never forget this man or our long association.

George Allen Agogino

The first book we'll look at, just one of many outstanding books Franklin wrote:

"Indian Uprising on the Rio Grande : The Pueblo Revolt of 1680" The School Library Journal says 'A fascinating account of the Pueblo Native American uprising of 1680 against Spanish control in the Southwest.'

This award-winning account of the Pueblo Revolt, originally published in 1973 as "Red Power on the Rio Grande," is told from the point of view of the Native American villagers of the Rio Grande Valley. Folsom equates the Pueblos' desire to control their own destiny to that of the Americans in 1776 and reveals the harshness of Spanish rule.
Not only were the Pueblos taxed and forced to labor for the Spanish, they were frequently sold into slavery and their religion was attacked and suppressed by missionaries. Under the direction of Popé, the Pueblos overcame their traditional reliance on local leadership and joined together in a brilliantly conceived and successful attack on Spanish power. This pivotal time in Pueblo history is powerfully and compelling retold here.

Franklin Folsom (1907-1995) wrote many books on American history. With his wife, Mary Elting Folsom, he coauthored "America's Ancient Treasures" (UNM Press).