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Learn something about history … and Edith too

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Laguna Pueblo native Edith Marmon may not have been the most prominent member of her pioneering family, but the streets of Albuquerque have immortalized her.

It’s for her that the well-traveled Edith Boulevard was named. A block east, Walter Street was named for her half-brother, but has remained primarily a residential road. Walter was married to renowned and revered educator Susie Rayos Marmon, the namesake of an Albuquerque elementary school.

Edith Marmon as a young girl in traditional garb.

Edith Marmon’s father, Robert G. Marmon, named the street in the late 1800s. He was an engineer and surveyor who followed his older brother Walter G. Marmon from Ohio to settle on the Laguna Pueblo. Edith’s father and her uncle Walter were responsible for helping plot out Albuquerque after the arrival of the railroad.

The Marmon brothers assimilated into the Laguna tribe, marrying Laguna women. Robert was the first white man to serve as governor of the Pueblo according to family history. His brother Walter would also become governor. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that Walter G. Marmon was Edith’s father, but family records and newspaper clippings show that Robert G. Marmon sired both Edith and Walter K. Marmon.

Edith was born on the pueblo in 1889 and her mother Agness Analla died two years later. She was raised by her father’s second wife Marie Marmon, whose maiden name was also Analla and was possibly the sister of Agness.bright spot

Records show Edith attended Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for five years, arriving in 1897 at the age of 8. The school was the flagship Indian boarding school from 1879 to 1918 with more than a hundred tribes sending their children there. Boarding schools of that era have since been condemned for trying to mute and sometimes even erase the Native culture of their students.

Edith married John Trevor Evans in 1914, on the Laguna Pueblo. The marriage was announced in a Sept. 18, 1914, article in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

“Miss Marmon formerly lived in Santa Fe where she was stenographer in the office of the attorney general,” the article said. “She is very popular here and an unusually attractive young lady.”

The marital bliss did not last. The two divorced in 1930. A 1932 newspaper notice shows that Edith took her ex-husband to court for failure to pay the $50 a month child support for their three children. He claimed he was unemployed and not able to pay the money.

Edith Boulevard started as a small residential street east of the railroad tracks in what would become the Huning Highland Historic District south of Central and west of Interstate 25. An 1886 map of the city, shows Edith Boulevard spanning from Tijeras Avenue south to Iron Avenue.

The San Ignacio Catholic Church provides a backdrop for the intersection of Edith Boulevard and Kinley Avenue.

Just three years later, a map shows the road was extended even further south.

The Edith Boulevard of today was once a group of disjointed roads, including La Ladera, Camino de la Ladera, Las Lomas, Bernalillo Road and Santa Barbara Road in Martineztown. Some even contend it was part of El Camino Real, a famous road used by merchants and others who were traveling from Mexico City to northern New Mexico.

A sweeping renaming and realigning of Albuquerque streets in 1952 transformed Edith Boulevard, giving it the same name for its entire route. Old homes, some lovingly maintained, still line the road as do industrial and commercial businesses.

Other prominent members of the Marmon family are Edith Marmon’s great-niece novelist and poet Leslie Marmon Silko; and her father (Edith’s nephew) famous photographer Lee Marmon, 94, who still lives on Laguna Pueblo. In a recent phone interview, Lee Marmon recalled his aunt Edith. He said he never discussed the street bearing her name but anytime he travels on the road, he thinks of her.

“I never thought to ask her what she thought having a street named after her,” he said. “She was a wonderful person. … Edith was very smart, very sharp and very kind.”

Kindness, Marmon said, was something his grandfather (Edith’s dad) always stressed.

“It’s too bad Edith didn’t get more publicity,” he said.

Edith worked for more than two decades at the Veterans Administration and spent much of her adult life living in Albuquerque at 1123 Forrester Ave. NW. She faded into obscurity at the end of her life. There doesn’t even seem to be an obituary marking her 1960 death but Edith lives on every time the rubber meets the road.

Curious about how a town, street or building got its name? Email staff writer Elaine Briseño at ebriseno@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3965 as she continues the monthly journey in “What’s in a Name?”

 

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