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The Little Chapel in the Woods

by MARGARET BRISBIN, Contributing Writer

Back in the days before “No Trespassing” signs were common in the area now known as the Gallagher Addition of Idlewild, the residents enjoyed walking in the area surrounding them. A hike or a picnic to 6 mile creek was a regular occurrence. Logging roads provided easy access when hiking to the top of Taos Cone. And the land bordering the Gallagher Addition was part of the Gallagher ranch. None of the cabins were fenced because the cattle had free range.

In 1953 John and Lula Belle McMillen built their cabin with a view of what was to become the Angel Fire ski slopes. The cabin passed to their daughter, Margaret Brisbin, in 1970. A couple of years later, she and her husband, Win, brought several of their Christian Community up for a month in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Upon one of their hikes they discovered an almost flat area in the woods and decided it needed a cross made from dead branches. One of the projects of the young men in the group was to replace the worn porch on the cabin. The old timber and a few logs from the firewood pile were cut to make benches and placed in a semi-circle around the cross. This became the spot for the community to worship. Others from the neighborhood who came across the little chapel in the woods would re-set or reinforce the Cross and put the benches back together. Each time we visited the cabin, we would go to see if it was still there. Pets have been buried under the rocks around the cross and there are reports that others have found it a place to stop and pray or just enjoy the peace.

Imagine our surprise when we discovered a memorial stone for William Bailey in the trees near the chapel. We inquired about his identity and learned that he was a cowboy for the Gallaghers and had requested that he be buried there. He, too, had found it a blessed place. This summer, the gravestone was so covered with pine needles and other forest debris, that it was very difficult to find. Deciding that we needed a marker I went to Angels Attic and started looking for something. When I spoke to one of the volunteers and told her what I needed, she said, “Let me tell the people in the back what you are looking for so they can watch for a cross.” She also noted that she had not seen anything appropriate there before. Within 20 minutes a cross was dropped off, and she had it in her hands. It certainly seemed like a Devine provision. Plus, we had a mutual friend who volunteered to help us put the small wooden cross made of 2” x 4” pieces of wood into the ground. When we met to go out into the meadow and woods, we discovered our task would be performed in pouring rain. That did not stop the Senior volunteers and they got the job done. Now William G. Bailey’s grave can be found for the next 50 years –Thanks to an unknown contributer, volunteers at Angel’s Attic and Wanda White, Margaret Brisbin and Stan Keeney.

Many of the members of the Christian Community have gone on to be with the Lord. Two were Episcopal Priests, another was an author of children’s books. A bank accountant still lives in Weatherford, TX. Win and Margaret spent several years traveling to Scotland, Europe and Kenya training Christian Counselors. One of the two 5 year old girls in the Community, with her husband, established a YWAM (Youth With a Mission) base in Tokyo – learning the Japanese language and raising her children there. The other 5 year old is now the Publisher/Editor of your Enchanted Circle News.

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