Moises Abousleman built this house in 1912. The story is told that when he brought his wife to their new home for the first time, she looked around and asked, “Where is the kitchen?” He then made additional alterations. For more about the Abousleman family, go to Early Settlers.
Moses Abousleman came to America from Lebanon in the early 1890s and first made his way to Santa Fe. Always an entrepreneur, he was a traveling salesman, selling housewares of all kinds from the back of a wagon, according to an article by Linda Vozar Sweet in the New Mexico Magazine of May 1997. (Lebanese are the second largest group of European immigrants in New Mexico after the Italians.) He subsequently operated two trading posts at Jemez Pueblo before moving to Jemez Springs in 1912. His many businesses included a mercantile, livery stable, saloon and bath house. In addition to being a merchant, he owned as many 40,000 sheep, which he grazed throughout the Jemez Mountains. The first Abousleman store (or maybe a saloon) in Jemez Springs burned down in the 1920s. He then built what is now the Los Ojos Saloon, which his sons operated until it was sold in the 1940’s.
Sweet wrote that Moses Abousleman was responsible for many “firsts” in the Jemez Springs: first telephone, first hydro-electric generating plant (which later became the start of Jemez Mountain Electric Cooperative), first house to have indoor running water. Moses died in 1934; Edna the following year. Both are buried in the Jemez Springs Catholic Cemetery.
Moses and Edna’s eight children went on to become prominent citizens in Jemez Springs, Espanola and Bernalillo. Their daughter, Josephine Shepard, served three terms as mayor of Jemez Springs from 1970-78, and she was instrumental in starting the first library, first health clinic, first sewage treatment plant, first fire department, and first public school district. Another daughter, Lillian Sotel, was superintendent of the Jemez Valley Schools. A son, Fred, was manager of the Jemez Mountain Electric Coop.
Son Tom became a building contractor, remained in Jemez Springs and lived in the big white house that Moses built – the house in which he was born — until his death in 2009. He was the youngest of the eight children.
The following photos of their family were first shared at a Storytellers Get-together in 2003 at Jemez Fine Arts Gallery.