One night, while sleeping in her bedroom in the northwest corner of the west wing, she woke up and sat up in bed. She heard five footsteps at the foot of the bed and felt someone rub her back. As soon as it started, it stopped.
Then the same thing happened again – five kicks and a clockwise rub on his back. This time Joan shouted, “Who are you and what do you want?” Then, thinking better of the answer, she said, “Never mind! I do not want to know ! With that, everything went back to normal.
Another time, Joan’s son Tom, who was sleeping in the dining room, awoke to see the transparent image of a man wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat at the foot of his bed. The apparition rose and walked to a window, where it peered out before disappearing.
Jack Huning later noticed that people frequently heard stomping sounds in the yard. He himself said he would never sleep in the house!
Louis also recalled an experience with the occupying spirit. He and his fiancée, Nancy, were watching a movie on television one evening. One of the characters in the movie told another to turn off the lights, and all the lights in the room where Louis and Nancy were sitting suddenly went out.
Some of the people who work in the store and hacienda have also experienced unexplained phenomena – soda bottles strewn across the floor, alarms that only reset when the employee pleads with the ghost that he or she is his or her friend.
Ruth Ann Huning-Gonzales recalls hearing her father talk about seeing a woman floating in the placita area wearing flowing 19th century clothing.
As an interesting note, one of the first “non-Huning” occupants of the house was Dr. William Wittwer, the first full-time doctor at Los Lunas. Shortly after arriving in the village in 1899, he had his home and office in the Simon Neustadt store, which was opposite the Huning house. However, he moved to the Hunings in 1900, and remained there until he built his new home and office (now Teofilo’s Restaurante) in 1904.
In 2020, Louis’ daughter, Ruth Ann Huning-Gonzales, joined Nancy on Huning’s management team. Louis’ son, Louis Jr., is the museum director of the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts.
The Huning House remains one of the historically significant buildings in Los Lunas and truly reflects the importance of the rise of commercialism during the second half of the 20th century and the critical role played by families such as the Hunings over many generations.
As the eminent New Mexico historian Rico Gonzales says in his seminal work on the Huning family, New Mexico merchant capitalists such as the Huning brothers took root in their communities, gained good reputations, adapted to New Mexican culture, provided economic services and spawned multi-generational family businesses.
(La Historia del Rio Abajo is a regular column on the history of Valencia County written by members of the Valencia County Historical Society. The author of this month’s column is John Taylor, retired engineer of the Sandia National Laboratories and a member of the board of directors of the Valencia County Historical Society.He is the author or co-author of twenty books on the history of New Mexico, including “Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem in the Rio Abajo”, “A River Runs through Us”, “Tragic Trails and Enchanted Journeys”, “Mountains, Mesas, and Memories”, and “Years Gone by in the Rio Abajo”, all co-edited with Dr. Richard Melzer. The opinions expressed in this column and in all columns of La Historia del Rio Abajo are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of the Historical Society of the County of Valencia or any other group or individual.)