Some months ago I wrote about a group that met at the Territorial House here in Corrales and mentioned that the T-House, as it was often called, and later the Rancho de Corrales Restaurant, stood on storied and sometimes bloody ground. The Ex Novo Brewery stands there now.
That history begins at the end of the nineteenth century. The Albuquerque Daily Citizen reported in November 1890 that a Louis Imbert bought “wild and uncultivated” Corrales land in 1883 for $1500 from the Sandoval family and proceeded to build a house and plant fruit trees.
By 1890 Imbert had married Louisa Michel, a French emigrant who had come west from New York for her health and met Louis in Santa Fe. They had a son, Louis Jr., and eventually owned many acres in Corrales, all under cultivation. Fruits grown there included apples, peaches, pears, cherries, plums, and 47 varieties of grapes. An 1892 newspaper account reported that Imbert owned land from the Rio Grande to the Ceja of the Rio Puerco, of which three square miles were cultivated “under ditch.”
The Imberts' lives were later marked by violence and tragedy. Varying accounts—and here are many, including some on the restaurant menus of the T-House and Rancho de Corrales—exist of the presumably accidental killing of a servant, Lola Gallardo de Griego, by 10-year-old Louis Jr., and its violent aftermath.
One story says that Lola was hanging grapes in the large front hall of the building. Lola asked Louis Jr. to remove shells from a Winchester rifle he was pointing at her; they thought all the shells had been removed, but one was left in the chamber; he pulled the trigger and killed her. They had been alone in the house; Louis Jr.’s parents, accompanied by Louisa’s son by a previous marriage, John Michel (some accounts called him her lover), were in Albuquerque at the time.
The Imberts offered to pay for the funeral and hoped that Lola’s relatives would not want revenge for the killing. However, The Citizen reported that the Imberts had informed the paper that the relatives did not accept what was offered, “desiring,” they stated, “to be appeased only by the sight of the boy’s blood.” Louis Jr. was sent to board at Menaul School in Albuquerque.
Mrs. Imbert was said to be a big strapping woman and Mr. Imbert was reportedly little and mean. The affair with their son strained their relationship and in 1896 Louisa Imbert is reported in The Citizen as filing a complaint against her husband for wife-beating. The story goes that they separated and lived in separate parts of the house, but Louis continued to harass his wife so she wore a gun day and night. Louis moved out and rented his half of the house to the Palladini family.
Descendants of the Palladinis have chronicled the rest of the story. It seemed as if things were quieting down and Louisa took to hanging her gun up in the zaguan (vestibule) of the home, but in December 1898 (another account says April) Imbert told Leandro Garcia that he was going to kill his wife. Garcia ran to warn her, but she scoffed at his warning. Later that evening when Louisa’s son John Michel (who had moved in to protect her) was gone, Imbert came to the house and shot her; she had been unable to get to her gun. No one came to help her and she slowly bled to death. Imbert hid out back and waited to see what would happen. When John Michel got home, Mrs. Palladini took him to his mother’s body.
The next day, after a night spent in heavy drinking, Imbert barricaded himself in a nearby house. Bernalillo County Sheriff Tom Hubbell was summoned. Before he arrived shots were fired between Imbert and men set to watch his movements. Hubbell told Imbert to come out, which Imbert did, firing at the sheriff and missing him. But a Navajo sharpshooter named José de la Cruz (some accounts say a “one-eyed” sharpshooter) shot Imbert in the forehead, killing him.
Both Louis and Louisa were denied burial in the Corrales cemetery and were said to have been buried some 500 feet west of their home in unmarked graves. Their son Louis Jr. eventually left for the East and reportedly later became a professor of Romance languages at Columbia University.
There’s more violence and tragedy to come in the history of the Imbert property, but that’s for another article.
Information provided by Corrales Historical Society (CHS) Archives Committee. Want to learn more? Visit www.CorralesHistory.org for all the exciting things the Historical Society has to offer. New CHS members are always welcome.
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