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W. Curry Holden


William Curry Holden, professor emeritus of history at Texas Tech University, was born in 1896. His degrees were in history, but he had an interest in the ethnology and archaeology of his native West Texas. As a result, he was a primary figure in the development of anthropology in West Texas during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and developed the combined History and Anthropology Department at Texas Tech. Although his main interests were West Texas history and prehistory and, later, the Yaqui Indians of Sonora, he was also no stranger to eastern New Mexico where he conducted excavations in the 1930s and 1940s in the Pecos area near Santa Fe. After World War II, his attention turned to southeastern New Mexico when he was shown an archaeological site (the Bonnell site) in the Hondo River Valley near the town of Ruidoso by his good friend Peter Hurd, a world-renowned western artist. It has been reported that in 1950 Holden put into place an archaeological field school in Roswell as an operational base to better supervise and coordinate the excavation of the Bonnell site.

Interestingly enough, Carlos Castaneda, an author of some renown that used Yaqui references in a series of eleven books, starting with THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (University of California Press, 1968) cited in his second book A Separate Reality (1971) that while in Arizona during the late Spring of 1960 "he met with an extremely seasoned anthropologist" that some have suggested might have been Holden. Castaneda even writes of going on a Road Trip with an anthropologist colleague that he some times leaves unnamed and other times calls Bill. However, Holden's daughter Jane Holden Kelley, who traveled with her father a great deal and eventually became an expert in the Yaqui Indians of Sonora and scholar in her own right, writes the following about Castaneda and the credibility of his works in her book YAQUI WOMEN: Contemporary Life Histories (published 1978) which pretty much negates Holden as being Castaneda's road trip colleague --- as well as, it might be said, possibly even negating the potential reality or existence of Castaneda's Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer Don Juan Matus:

"As everyone knows, the books of Carlos Castaneda have had a tremendous impact on a wide audience, and Castaneda's don Juan is a Yaqui. I would assume that every anthropologist who has worked with the Yaquis has been bombarded with inquires about Yaqui drug use, sorcery, and what have you. I have received letters from people wanting an introduction to a Yaqui brujo (witch or sorcerer), and the subject of my Yaqui research is never mentioned without someone asking me if there really is a don Juan. Do I know him or people like him? Or are all Yaquis like don Juan? To such inquiries, I can only say that I have not encountered don Juan or anyone like him, an admission guaranteed to lower my social value on the spot."

A contemporary of Holden, Edward H. Spicer, who, like Holden, had written and published a great deal on both the Yaqui Indians of Arizona and those of Sonora, Mexico told Castaneda, a Peruvian, "that the Indian societies of the Southwest were extremely isolationist, and that foreigners, especially those of Hispanic origin, were distrusted, even abhorred, by those Indians." Interestingly enough, on the use of Sacred Datura as introduced by Castaneda in his early works, Spicer is on record as saying "I know of no information or reference concerning Yaquis using Datura."

Back to Holden himself and in a totally other vein, according to Roswell Incident: Updated, as well as such sources as UFO investigator Thomas J. Carey, on Saturday, July 5, 1947, Holden and some students who were working sites and looking for signs of pre-Contact Indian occupation around Roswell stumbled across the second of the infamous Roswell impact sites where some sort of an object had crashed. It has been said they are the ones who first reported to law enforcement officials the discovery of what they thought was the remains of a wrecked aircraft. Military personnel reportedly had arrived at the crash site that night and cordoned off access to the crash scene. Holden and his students were immediately escorted them out of the area. Holden never really discussed the incident and it was well into his later years before he was actually even inteviewed on the subject.

Regarding the alledged Roswell UFO crash, Jane Holden Kelley is on record as saying that at the time interviews were being conducted, because of his age, her father was easily confused. Memories from his life were jumbled and reordered, and, even though she and her dad were close, he had never mentioned anything to her about the incident. As it is, a number of anthropologists and archaeologists OTHER than Holden have been named in association with the Roswell Crash, ranging from the little known fringe such as amateur rock hound and Pothunter known as Cactus Jack but whose real name was Larry Campbell to the more famous and academically established types such as Holden. For the most part, however, the more credible the credentials, the less likely they are to come forward or admit to any connection.

In December, 1947, a scientist friend of Holden's, a vertebra paleontologist by the name of C. Bertrand Schultz, a Professor of Geology and Paleontology at the University of Nebraska, presented at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association held December 28-31, in Albuquerque. Holden attended the conference as well, putting the two of them together within six months of the alledged crash. In conversation with Holden at the conference Schultz tells him he had tried to meet him over the Fourth of July holiday earlier that year. Coincidently, the mysterious bio-searcher that assisted famed astronomer and meteorite hunter Dr. Lincoln La Paz figure out the object's trajectory by studying the burnt and wilted plants along it's suspected path was at the same conference. He was attending in hopes of hearing his friend Ruth F. Kirk present Aspects of Peyotism Among the Navajo. In that he and Holden knew each other and both had participated peripherally in Roswell events, he became privy to the content of the conversation between Holden and Schultz --- undermining in a sense Jane Holden Kelley's concerns with her father's decreased memory in later interviews. Holden was around 51 years old when he attended the American Anthropological Association meeting and actually a presenter at the conference, seemingly, at least in those days, far from having any problems about any memory impairment, early onset or otherwise.

Many Roswell researchers have Schultz going FROM Nebraska TO Roswell in July, 1947, but in reality his trip through Roswell was just the return portion of a much longer trip. That fact is is made quite clear in ROSWELL ARCHAEOLOGISTS: The Dirt Before The Dig. It is also made quite clear in the same souce that Schultz had been told Holden was going to be participating in field work over the long weekend west of Roswell and since he was on his way TO Nebraska and had the time, thought he would detour through Ruidoso to see what Holden was up to. There he was told Holden had taken a group of students on a field study near Roswell. Unable to find him he continued on to a site called the Arrowhead Ruin, an Indian pueblo dating from circa 1370 to 1450 located south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, between Glorietta and Pecos, then being worked by another colleague, William Pearce. Along the way he observed a series of military cordons blocking all the side roads on the western side of the highway as he headed north out of Roswell. However, since his eventual destination was Nebraska, he wasn't excessively over concerned about roads being blocked toward the west one way or the other. At the most, even though it just happened that weekend, not knowing anything about the Roswell Incident at the time, he attributed the military presence to no more than an exercise of some type. Only in retrospect did any of it take on any meaning.

Schultz's comments to Holden, and overheard as part of the conversation with the biosearcher, was in 1947, only about six months after the crash. As far as Schultz bringing up cordons around the debris field, up to the time of the convention he and Holden attended, none of it had been brought to the public's attention. For Schultz to have known, he must have seen them. It wasn't until nine years later, on the evening of April 28, 1956, when radio broadcaster and UFO advocate Frank Edwards was a featured speaker at a public meeting put on by an organization calling itself The Civilian Saucer Intelligence of New York, that anything remotely close to potential cordons came to light. Edwards was asked if there was any evidence that any of objects had crashed, to which Edwards answered:

"I'm not too sure some of them haven't. Way back in 1947, at Roswell, New Mexico, a farmer reported he saw something strike a mountainside and crash. According to what I was told, they threw troops in a circle all around that place, and would let nobody in for five days."

W. Curry Holden passed away on April 21, 1993, at the age of 96.







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Holden, William Curry, C.C. Seltzer, R.A. Studhalter, C.J. Wagner and W.G. McMillan. Studies of the Yaqui Indians of Sonora, Mexico. Lubbock, Tex.: Texas Technological College, 1936.

Holden, William Curry. A Ranching Saga: The Lives of William Electious Halsell and Ewing Halsell. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1976.

Holden, William Curry. Alkali Trails, or, Social and Economic Movements of the Texas Frontier, 1846-1900. Lubbock, Tex. : Texas Tech University Press, 1998.

Holden, William Curry. Alkali Trails; or, Social and Economic Movements of the Texas Frontier, 1846-1900. Dallas, Tex.: The Southwest Press 1930.

Holden, William Curry. Episode in the Sun. Popular Library ed. New York: Popular Library, 1957. (Originally published under the title: Hill of the Rooster.)

Holden, William Curry. Frontier Problems and Movements in West Texas, 1846-1900. Austin, Tex.: 1928.

Holden, William Curry. Hill of the Rooster. New York: Holt, 1956.

Holden, William Curry. Rollie Burns; or, An Account of the Ranching Industry on the South Plains. Dallas, Tex.: The Southwest Press, 1932.

Holden, William Curry. Rollie Burns; or, An Account of the Ranching Industry on the South Plains. College Station, Tex.: Texas A&M University , 1986.

Holden, William Curry. Teresita. Owings Mills, Md.: Stemmer House Publishers, 1978.

Holden, William Curry. The Espuela Land and Cattle Company; A Study of a Foreign-Owned Ranch in Texas. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1970.

Holden, William Curry. The Spur Ranch; A Study of the Enclosed Ranch Phase of the Cattle Industry in Texas. Boston: The Christopher Publishing House, 1934.

Holden, William Curry. Why use Dobe? Lubbock, Tex.: Texas Technological College.

Hutson, Alton. Alton Hutson: Reminiscences of a South Plains Youth by William Curry Holden. San Antonio, Tex.: Trinity University Press, 1975.

Moisés, Rosalio, Jane Holden Kelley, and William Curry Holden. The Tall Candle; The Personal Chronicle of Yaqui Indian. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971.

Studies of the Yaqui Indians of Sonora, Mexico / by W. C. Holden ... [et al.]. New York: AMS Press, 1979.


[1] IUR, Volume 19, Number 1; January/February 1994
International UFO Reporter, Copyright 1994

J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies
2457 West Peterson Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659


Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society
VOL 23:1952 (pp 78-132)