Early American Occupation

At the time of which we are writing, 1849, Tucson was a part of Sonera, and the Government maintained only a precarious possession of that town. Continued raiding of the Apaches, driving off their livestock, made life in the Old Pueblo one of constant annoyance and danger. Retaliatory raids by the soldiers became less frequent, and although the Papago allies were somewhat more successful in repelling and pursuing the savages, there was a constant diminution of population. The census report of September, 1848, gave Tucson 760 inhabitants and Tubac 249. In December of that year after an attack in which 9 persons were killed, Tubac and Tumacacori were abandoned, the people transferring their residence to Tucson. “Between this presidio and that of Santa Cruz south of the line” says Bancroft, “it does not clearly appear that a single Mexican establishment of any kind remained, though before 1852, a small garrison had reoccupied Tubac.”

After the discovery of gold in California in 1848, immigrants began to flock through Arizona from Sonora and other Mexican states, and from the eastern United States. The route usually followed was by the Santa Cruz and Gila Valleys, and the Americans reached Tucson from the Rio Grande, for the most part by Cooke’s wagon route of 1846. It was a journey of much hardship and dangerous on account of drought and lack of water and grass for the stock. For this reason, it was not recommended by Kit Carson and other frontiersmen. The Maricopa villages were the last friendly shelter to the emigrants before reaching the Colorado River, where, in the fall of 1849, Lieut. Cave J. Coutts, in command of an escort to the Boundary Surveyors under Whipple, established Camp Calhoun on the California side, and for two months aided the hungry gold seekers, whose arrival was noted almost every day.

On the first of November, 1849, a flatboat, which had made the voyage down the Gila from the Pima villages, with Mr. Howard and family, and two men, a doctor and a clergyman, on board, arrived at the camp. During this voyage a son was born to Mrs. Howard, said to have been the first child born in Arizona of American parentage. The Lieutenant, it is said, purchased the craft, which was used as a ferryboat during the remainder of his stay, and was transported to San Diego where it was used on the bay. “This,” says Bancroft, “was the history of the first Colorado ferry.”

There is some doubt as to the exact year in which Dr. Langdon established his ferry across the Colorado, whether it was late in the year 1849, or early in the year 1850. Bancroft says it is the latter date, but other authorities claim that it was in the previous year, 1849. The money for the establishment of this ferry was furnished by J. P. Brodie, an American gentleman then a resident of Hermosillo, who retained an interest in it. Prior to its establishment the Indians aided the emigrants in crossing with their livestock and other property, having, in some way, secured a scow for this purpose. In disregard of their rights, the Americans occupied the field. They established a stockade on the California side, which they called Fort Defiance, and which became the scene of a massacre by the Yumas the following year. Dr. Langdon, who seems to have had charge of this ferry, associated with himself one John Glanton, or Gallantin, who seems to have been the head of a band of outlaws who had been employed by the Mexican Government to gather Apache scalps at one hundred dollars for each brave, fifty dollars for each woman, and twenty-five dollars for each child. The business seems to have been lucrative, so far as they were concerned, for the Glanton party did not confine itself to gathering the scalps of the Apaches, but took those of the Opatas and Pimas, and sometimes of the Mexicans. This being discovered by the authorities, they were compelled to leave the country.

There seems at this time to have been an opposition ferry. Glanton killed its manager and in this way controlled the business of transportation across the Colorado. He exacted heavy tribute from all immigrants, amounting to extortion, and disregarded in every particular the rights of the Indians, who rose in rebellion and killed all his party, some twenty-five in number, excepting C. O. Brown, who afterwards became prominent as one of the early settlers of Tucson, one Anderson and another whose name is not mentioned. According to Bartlett, the money which the Glanton party had accumulated, somewhere from fifteen thousand to thirty thousand dollars in gold, was taken by the Indians, who used it in purchasing supplies from the immigrants, and, not knowing its value, frequently gave four or five doubloons for a worn-out blanket, and a gold eagle for a tattered shirt.

There is much confusion in regard to the Glanton affair. Cremony and some other authors claim that he and his party were in charge of a large flock of sheep which they had purchased in New Mexico and were driving to California, and were murdered by the Yumas upon their arrival at the Colorado River. All the evidence in reference to the Glanton party is hearsay, but the weight of evidence seems to be that Glanton and his party were not encumbered with any great amount of livestock, and that he engaged with Dr. Langdon in ferrying emigrants across the Colorado as I have stated above.

Shortly thereafter, in July, 1850, Jaeger and Hartshorne headed a party who reestablished the ferry, and built their boat on the ground from wood secured from the cottonwood trees growing there. Major Heintzelman, then in charge of the army post at San Diego, established a military post there and left ten men under Lieutenant Sweeney, and the soldiers and ferrymen all occupied the stockade which had been erected by the Glanton party. Jaeger and Hartshorne did a profitable business for several months. Supplies becoming short, however, Jaeger went to San Diego, and, returning with one Mexican with several mule loads of provisions, was attacked by the Indians within sight of the stockade. The Mexican deserted him and Jaeger applied his spurs to his horse, which dashed into the stockade carrying its rider, who was badly wounded by spears and arrows, remaining unconscious for several days. That night the party deserted the post and carried Jaeger with them into San Diego, where the arrow points were extracted and he, under proper medical treatment, was restored to health.

Within a few days after this occurrence, Dr. Webb, in charge of an exploring party belonging to the Boundary Survey, encountered some Indians, the story of which encounter and the events following are told by Captain Cremony in the following language:

“Early next morning, we resumed our journey down the Gila, and prosecuted it for several days until we reached the Colorado near its junction with the Gila. At that period the whole country was a wilderness, and the place now occupied by large houses and well filled stores, with an American population of six or seven hundred souls, was waste and desolate. The approach to the river was hidden by a dense mass of young willow trees, through which we had to pass in order to reach water, of which ourselves and animals were greatly in need. The thermometer stood at 118 degrees Fahrenheit, in the shade, and we had marched twenty-four miles that day without water. On emerging from the willows on the banks of the broad, red, swift and turbid stream which met our gaze, we discovered, on the opposite side, within easy rifle reach, a large number of Yuma men, women and children, a fact which assured us that our approach had not been known by that tribe. They instantly fled in all directions, thereby proving their fear and suspicions, which would not have been entertained if the two people had been at peace with each other. Having watered our suffering animals, we pursued our way down the Colorado, and encamped upon an open sand beach, with three hundred yards of clear ground in the rear and the river in front. No weapon in possession of the Yumas could reach anything like that distance, while our rifles commanded the whole area. Our animals were drawn up in line on the river side with a careful guard, and were fed with an abundance of young willow tops, which they ate greedily. Our fires were well supplied, and kept blazing brightly, so as to shed light on the surrounding shore and disclose the approach of any enemy. In this manner we passed an anxious night.

“The next day, soon after dawn, an Indian presented himself unarmed, and with reiterated statements of the most cordial friendship for the Americans. He subsequently proved to be Caballo en Pelo, or the ‘Naked Horse,’ the head chief of the Yumas. Our reception was not calculated to excite his hopes, everyone extending his left hand, and keeping a revolver in his right, and it was not long before Caballo en Pelo found that he had committed himself to the tender mercies of men who entertained the deepest suspicion of his professional amity. To test his sincerity, Dr. Webb asked what had become of the soldiers, to which he replied that they had voluntarily withdrawn three months before. This we knew to be a lie, as Gen. Conde had informed us of their presence with a couple of good launches to assist the crossing of immigrants, and we had met the General only twenty days previous, when this information was received from him, who had come directly from the Colorado in eleven days. The report of our Maricopa visitors also disproved the statement of Caballo en Pelo, and we immediately consulted together as to our future course, which was afterward carried into effect, as the reader will discover, and to it I attribute our escape from the treacherous Yumas.

”Soon after Caballo en Pelo, or the ‘Naked Horse’ entered our camp, he made a signal to his associates, and we soon had an accession of fourteen more, embracing several of the principal men in the Yuma tribe. They were all unarmed, and each one expressed his desire to maintain friendly relations with our people. Dr. Webb, with his usual blunt honesty of character, and total neglect of policy, abruptly asked them – ‘If you mean as you profess, why did you drive away the small body of soldiers left here to assist the Americans in crossing the river and supplying their needs, and, why did you massacre the American party with sheep, who came here on their road to California?’ These unexpected questions discomfited the savages, and threw them ‘all aback,’ as may readily be supposed. Caballo en Pelo, Pasqual, and several other leading men, undertook to deny these charges in toto, but we were too well informed, and their denials only tended to put us more than ever on the qui vive.

“A few words interchanged between the members of our party decided our course of action. In any case we were fully committed, and nothing but perilous measures could decide the result of our desperate surroundings. It was determined to hold all the Yumas present as captives, subject to instant death upon the exhibition of any hostility on the part of that tribe. We felt that our lives were at the mercy of those savages, but also resolved that we should not be sacrificed without a corresponding amount of satisfaction. Their principal men were in our camp unarmed; we had the disposal of their lives in our power, and knew that they could not escape in the event of any hostile act against our small party. These deliberations were fully unfolded to the chiefs, who were informed that no more of their tribe would be admitted into our camp without jeopardizing the safety of those already there. They were also told that having come of their own free will, they would be expected to remain during our pleasure, and, in the meantime, would be fed from our very limited resources. They were furthermore informed that the launch which they had taken from the soldiers would be needed for our conveyance across the Colorado, and as we knew it to be in their possession, it must be forthcoming when required. The first act of Caballo en Pelo was to signalize his people not to approach our camp, which was located on a sand spit, with three hundred yards clear rifle range on all sides not covered by the river. He then went on to disclaim any inimical design, quoting the fact that he and his chief men had sought us unarmed, when they might have overwhelmed our paltry force with hundreds of warriors. He also stated that they had no hostile feeling toward white men coming from the east, but would oppose all from the west, as they had learned that a force from that quarter was being prepared for a campaign against them. They were not at war with Americans generally, but solely with those whom they expected from California with warlike intentions. Caballo en Pelo then asked if he and his companions were to consider themselves prisoners. To this home question, Dr. Webb, who was in charge of our party, directed me to answer – yes, they were; and would be held as such until the launches they had taken from the soldiers were produced for our passage across the Colorado, and they had given satisfactory evidence of their peaceful intentions. This abrupt announcement was not pleasing to our savage guests, who exhibited alarm, mingled with half uttered threats, of vengeance; but the old motto, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound,’ was the only one we could adopt under the circumstances, and our resolution was as unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians.

Dr. Webb furthermore informed the Yumas that they must order their warriors, who were gathering thickly on our side of the river, not to approach within three hundred yards, adding, ‘we suspect your motives, and intend to have the first blood, if any is to be shed. Your chief men are in our power. Your people can kill us, as they are so much more numerous, but we will kill you first, if they do not obey our orders which shall be promulgated through you.’
“This was undoubtedly the ‘tightest fix,’ our visitors were ever in. They were by no means prepared for such a decided stand, and were quite at a loss for expedient. Seeing resolution in each man’s eye, and knowing that it was our determination to put them to death the moment any decidedly hostile step should be taken by their people, they concluded to make the best of a bad bargain, and escape by strategy from the trap they had prepared to spring upon us, but in which they had caught themselves.

“Caballo en Pelo made a few signs to the surrounding and anxious multitude, which then quietly retreated out of sight among the dense willows which grew with remarkable luxuriance about three hundred yards from the river. We then dug two holes about twenty feet apart, parallel to each other, and each about five feet long by one and a half wide and two deep. In these holes we made blazing fires which rose about two or three feet above the surface of the ground, and between these two fires we ordered the Yumas to lie down, side by side, while a sentinel with a cocked six shooter paraded along the line of their heads, and another along the line of their feet. A flank escape was impossible, as it was prevented by a bright and hot fire on each side. Our few remaining animals were drawn up in line on the river side of the camp, with a guard outside of them and within twenty feet of the whole party. We slept but little that night, and at early dawn we were once more afoot, and in discussion with the Yumas, who stoutly denied any hostile motive, and professed indignation at their treatment. We gave them a good breakfast, as we had given them a plentiful supper the evening previous, and then reiterated our demand for the launches, while they as stubbornly denied any knowledge of their existence.

”That day we moved down the river about eleven miles and selected a good camp ground early in the afternoon. Again we were surrounded by hundreds of Indians, but the personal fears of our hostages kept them at bay, and they did not approach nearer than three hundred yards. The night passed as the previous one had done, and we perceived that it was the intention of the Yumas to wear us out, and then seize their opportunity; but this scheme was frustrated by the nerve and decision of Dr. Webb, who, next morning, informed Caballo en Pelo and his chief followers, that ‘we were well aware of the existence of the launches by oral as well as written intelligence; that they were absolutely necessary to cross the Colorado; that we knew the Yumas had driven away the small garrison of American soldiers and had the launches in their possession; that we had met the escaped Maricopas, who told us all about the massacre of Gallantin and his party, and the appropriation of the launches by the Yumas; and, finally, that if those launches were not forthcoming by twelve o’clock the next day, we should at once proceed to extremities and kill him and all the Yumas in our camp.

“It may well be supposed that this sort of talk aroused the liveliest alarm among our prisoners, who commenced an excited conversation in their own tongue, which culminated in a request from Caballo en Pelo that one of his young men be permitted to leave our camp and make inquiry if the launches really were in existence, and, if so, to bring them down river to our camp. This was agreed to, and a young lad, about eighteen years of age, the son of Pasqual, selected for the business. He was allowed to depart with the positive assurance that we would keep our words in regard to his father, and the other head men of the Yuma tribe in our camp.

“That night we observed more than the usual precautions, for one half our number were on guard at all times. Next morning no Indians were to be seen, but at ten o’clock A. M. a large launch, capable of holding half our party with their baggage, was seen ai3proaching under the conduct of two Yumas. It was moored in front of our camp, and immediate preparations were made for crossing. Five of us, taking half the Yuma prisoners, immediately embarked with rifles in hand, ready for use, and as we could easily sweep both sides the river, our party was really as strong as ever. Our mules and horses were made to swim across under the lead and direction of two Yumas, who were kept within range of our rifles, and in this manner we succeeded in gaining the western bank of the Colorado, after three most exciting days of detention against overwhelming numbers of hostile savages; but our troubles were not yet ended. We had still to undergo another ordeal, even more perilous, because we had no hostages as securities for our safety from attack.

“Having gained the western bank of the Colorado in peace, the Yumas demanded to be released from captivity, but our safety would not permit such a course, and Dr. Webb informed them that they must remain in camp that night and would be set free next day. The utmost precaution was again observed throughout the night, and at three o’clock next morning we were once more en route toward California, accompanied by the leading Yumas, who were kept closely guarded. That day we penetrated twenty-eight miles into the great Colorado desert, halting about four o’clock P. M., in a place where neither water nor wood existed, and completely surrounded by hills and banks of white sand. With much toil several of our number ascended one or two of the highest hillocks, but as far as the eye could reach nothing was to be seen but one unbroken expanse of sand, white, dazzling under the rays of a burning sun, unrelieved by a single bush or shrub – broken and fretted with countless hillocks, and utterly void of animal life. This part of the Colorado desert is much more frightful than the great Sahara of Africa. The absolute stillness and repose is something awful; it is death in life; it is the most impressive lesson of man’s feebleness, and the most startling reproof against his vanity. In our case these sensations were not mitigated by the knowledge of being surrounded by a fierce, warlike and numerous Indian tribes, thirsting for our blood, and eager to revenge the indignity they had suffered by the captivity of their head chiefs, and the failure of their treacherous schemes.

“As before stated, we halted and made preparations as if to encamp. Dr. Webb then directed Mr. Thurber to ascend the highest sand hill in the neighborhood, examine all around with his field glasses and report if the Indians were upon our trail. In about half an hour Mr. Thurber returned, and assured us that from two to three hundred Yumas were within five miles of our position, and heading toward our camp. There was no time to lose. Caballo en Pelo with his fellow captives were immediately informed that they must take the back trail and return to the river, that our road was toward the west, that we had no more provisions to give them, and that it was indispensable for us to part company with them then and there. To these requirements the wily chief demurred, and stated his desire to go on with us to California. He was overruled, by the strong persuasive force of drawing our pistols, and giving him the sole alternative of obeying or dying. They chose the former, and decamped with haste. So soon as they disappeared around the base of a friendly sand hill, we immediately repacked our wagon, and drove on with all possible speed, hoping to escape in the fast coming darkness.

“Eleven years afterward, Pasqual himself told me that they met about three hundred of their warriors half an hour after being expelled from our camp, and the whole band came in pursuit of us, but as the Indian never risks life when he thinks the same end can be accomplished by strategy, and as time is of no moment to them, it was agreed to fall foul of us just before daylight the next morning, and by a rapid and combined assault massacre our little party with comparative ease and impunity. Acting on that policy, they approached our abandoned camp with extreme caution, and commenced a survey from surrounding hillocks. They were not surprised to see no fire, as they knew there was no wood in that part of the desert, and they remained quiescent until nearly morning, when their scouts gave them the unwelcome information that we were gone.

“Our flight was continued all night and part of the next day, until, overtaken by one of those dreadful sandstorms which prevail on the Colorado desert. The day was intensely hot, and the most impressive silence seemed to reign absolute. Suddenly a dark, dense and singular looking cloud arose in the west and moved toward us with incredible velocity. Great masses of heavy sand were lifted as if they were so many feathers, and carried high into the air with extreme violence. The places formerly occupied by huge hillocks containing many thousand tons of sand, were swept clean as if by magic in a few moments, and the vast banks removed to other localities in the twinkling of an eye. Our mules fell flat upon their bellies and thrust their noses close to the ground, our horses followed their example – none of us could stand against the force and might of the storm – and we, too, laid down flat, hauling a tent over us. In a few moments the tent was so deeply covered with sand as to retain its position, and every now and then we were compelled to remove the swiftly gathering mass, to avoid being absolutely buried alive. Amidst the distress, the horrible sensations, and the suffocating feelings occasioned by this sirocco, we entertained the grateful sense of protection from our savage pursuers, who were quite as incapable of facing that terrific storm as we were. For forty-eight hours we had not tasted food, and were more than a day without water in the hottest climate known to man, and our distress heightened by the intense craving for water invariably attendant on those scorching blasts of the desert. These sensations were not alleviated by the fact of knowing that we had yet a journey of forty miles before we could find water.

“About three o’clock P. M., the storm passed off, and we instantly resumed our way without cooking food, for eating could only add to our terrible thirst. All that night our weary feet trod that infernal desert until the glowing morning sun shone upon us like a plate of molten brass, but we had arrived at a fine camp ground, thickly supplied with shady mesquite trees and abounding with excellent grass for our worn-out animals, which had dwindled down to less than one half the number we boasted before crossing the Colorado. About an hour after camping, the stepfather of Inez (Inez Gonzales, whose rescue from Apaches has been noted), who served us as guide, reported that he saw an alamo (cottonwood), tree a short distance off, and he believed that there must be water in its neighborhood. Several of us proceeded to the spot and in a short time discovered a small pool containing about twenty gallons of water deposited in a hollow by a former copious rain, and sheltered from the sun by friendly brush. The joyful news was soon made known to the rest of our comrades, and our raging thirst slaked, after which the remainder of the water was equally divided among our famished stock. As Carisso creek was then within a day ‘s march, no thought was taken for the morrow, and after a most refreshing night’s rest, we recommenced our journey at early dawn, reaching Carisso creek about five o’clock on the afternoon of the same day. At this place we felt ourselves wholly safe from the Yumas. There was abundance of pasture, and water and wood, and we would have remained for a day or two to obtain much needed rest, but our provisions had entirely given out, and we had still one hundred miles of travel before us without an ounce of food, unless such as might possibly be procured in the way of game.

”With sad hearts, and weakened frames, we pushed forward until we reached Vallecito, where we found an American garrison consisting of a company of infantry and three officers.

By these warm hearted and gallant gentlemen we were received with the greatest courtesy and kindliness and entertained by them with a warmth of hospitality which has found an abiding place among my most grateful recollections. Some time had elapsed since supplies were received from San Diego, and they were themselves on ‘ short commons, ‘ and unable to furnish us with the provisions needed to complete our journey; but gave us freely to the extent of their power. It would have been gross ingratitude to remain there, living upon the very diminished stores of our kind entertainers, and we again pushed forward the next day. Our course lay over the Volcan Mountain, and upon its magnificent height we found a rancho owned and inhabited by a big hearted gentleman, who ministered to our wants and furnished us with two fresh mules. Next day we resumed our march, and soon after passing the old battle ground of San Pasqual, met Col. Heintzelman, in command of three hundred troops, on his way to chastise the Yuma Indians for their many murders and robberies. The officers were surprised to meet us coming from the river, and asked many questions, which we were delighted to answer, giving valuable information.

“Col. Heintzelman ‘s force was subsequently increased to five hundred men, and after two years active warfare he succeeded in reducing the Yumas, who have never since presumed to contend against our power. Since then Fort Yuma has become a noted frontier fortification, surrounded by many hundreds of American citizens, who live, for the most part, on the eastern bank of the river, and carry on a lucrative trade with the interior of Arizona and the Yumas, Cocopahs, Cuchans, Amojaves and other tribes. The waters of the Colorado are now plowed by half a dozen steamers, and my old enemies, the Yumas, do the ‘chores’ and menial offices for the whites. The next day after meeting Col. Heintzelman, we reached San Diego, devoutly thankful to Providence for our many and almost miraculous escapes from the tomahawks and scalping knives of the Indian tribes through which we had passed for the distance of two thousand eight hundred miles.”

In the spring of 1852, after the Jaeger party had been driven out of Yuma, Major Heintzelman, in command of six companies of United States soldiers, reestablished the post at Fort Yuma, and waged an incessant war upon the Indians, who sued for peace the year following, and have ever since remained at peace with the whites. Jaeger returned with these troops and reestablished his ferry. From that time on he was a prominent resident of Yuma, and figured largely in the subsequent history of Arizona for many years.

About the time of the reestablishment of Fort Yuma and the ferry, or, to be more exact, in 1851, Captain Wilcox reached the mouth of the Colorado in a sailing vessel, the schooner “Invincible,” with troops and supplies from San Francisco. The troops were commanded by Lieutenant Derby, who under the name of “John Phoenix,” contributed largely to the humorous literature of that day, and who was ordered to explore the Colorado River from its mouth up.
The schooner drew from eight to nine feet of water, and only ascended the river some twenty-five miles, to about latitude 30° 50 but Derby, in a boat, went some sixty miles further up the river, meeting Heintzelman and a party from Fort Yuma.

Of the navigation of the Colorado, Bancroft says: “It appears that also in the spring of 1851, George A. Johnson arrived at the river’s mouth on the schooner Sierra Nevada with supplies for the fort, and lumber from which were built flatboats for the trip up the Colorado.”

“In 1852,” I again quote from Bancroft, “the first steamer, the ‘Uncle Sam’ was brought by Captain Turnbull on a schooner to the head of the Gulf, and there put together for the river trip. She reached Fort Yuma at the beginning of December, but had been obliged to land her cargo of supplies some distance below. After running on the river for a year or two, the’ Uncle Sam’ grounded and sunk, being replaced in January, 1854, by the ‘General Jesup,’ under Captain Johnson, the new contractor, but exploded in August. The ‘Colorado,’ a stern wheeler 120 feet long, was put on the route in the autumn of 1855, and from this time the steam navigation, with an occasional opposition line, seems to have been continuous.”

Upon the reestablishment of the ferry by Jaeger, the tide of immigration again turned to the Colorado river under the protection of the fort. The village of Colorado City, on the California side, arose. It was afterwards called Arizona City, and its name subsequently changed to that of Yuma. The present site of Yuma was not included within the limits of the United States until the Gadsden purchase in 1854. Colorado City was formally surveyed on the Arizona side in 1854, prior to which time there was no American settlement in Arizona.

From the journal of an expedition from San Diego, California, to the Rio Colorado in 1849, by Lieutenant A. W. Whipple, of the United States Topographical Engineers, I make the following extracts with reference to the Yuma Indians, or, as they were called at that time, the Cuchans. Of his first meeting with them, on September 29th, 1849, he says:

“Santiago, their chief, wore a blue greatcoat, and a fancy cotton handkerchief bound his head; his legs and feet were bare. Others were clad in the simple breechcloth. All were mounted on spirited horses. The road up the bank, to the left, is the emigrant trail over the deep, drifting sand of the desert. Taking the more circuitous route to the right, we were escorted by the Indians a short distance to their village in the Canada, luxuriant with maize and melons. We were at once surrounded by great numbers of Indian men and women, evincing friendliness, curiosity and intelligence. The women are generally fat, and their dress consists of a fringe, made of strips of bark, bound about the hips, and hanging loosely to the middle of the thighs. The men are large, muscular and well formed. Their countenances are pleasing, and seem lighted by intelligence. I doubt whether America can boast a finer race of Indians. Their warriors wear the white breechcloth, and their hair, hanging in plaits to the middle of their backs, is adorned with eagle’s feathers and the rattle of a rattlesnake. They are exquisite horsemen, and carry their bow and lance with inimitable grace. A dozen of these warriors conducted us beyond their village three miles, through fields of maize and groves of alamo and willow, to the Rio Colorado, where we encamped, twelve miles below where the Rio Gila unites its ‘sea-green waters’ with the rightly named Colorado.”

Again: “October 7, 1849- Took a walk into the villages to see how the Indians live. They all knew me, and received me kindly enough into their family circle, composed of about a dozen men, women and children, sitting or lying upon the ground, under the shade of a flat roof of branches of trees supported by posts at the four corners. The women, dressed in girdles of bark, stripped into thongs, and partially braided, hanging in a fringe to the thighs, and ornamented with many strings of shells or glass beads, were making a mush of zandias (watermelons), or grinding grass seed into flour. The men, with breech cloths, or perhaps a shirt cast off by the emigrants, were ornamented with rings in their noses and eagles’ feathers in their hair. The children wore no covering except what nature gave them, but were decked with beads upon their necks, and small strings of the same were inserted through their ears.
”The laborious part of their toilet – that in which all their taste and skill are put in requisition – consists in painting. Warriors dye their faces jet black, with a stripe of red from the forehead down to the nose and across the chin.

“Women and young men usually paint with red, and ornament their chins with dots or stripes of blue or black. Around their eyes are circles of black. Their bodies are generally of a dark red, and polished with an oily substance, so as to resemble well cleaned mahogany. The face and body are sometimes fancifully striped with black. Of their hair they are quite proud, and take great care in dressing and trimming it. It falls naturally from the crown of the head, and is neatly and squarely trimmed in front to reach the eyebrows; the rest is matted into plaits, and falls upon the neck, reaching nearly to the ground.

“Strings of broken shells, called ‘pook’ are highly valued among them. They consist of circular pieces of seashells, with holes very nicely drilled in the center. They are very ancient, and were formerly used as money. A string is now worth a horse. An Indian dandy is never dressed without them, and the number of strings worn indicates the wealth of the possessor. The figure of the young dandy, though large, is so faultless in its proportions that, when I have seen him dressed in his clean white breechcloth, with no other covering to his carefully painted person, except the graceful plume upon his head, and the white bracelet of leather, with buckskin fringe and bright brass buttons, which serve as mirrors, upon his left arm, I could but applaud the scorn with which he looked upon European dress, and the resolute firmness with which he refused the proffered gift of pants.

”The Yumas (or, as those near the mouth of the Gila call themselves, Cuchans) appear to be skilled in none of the arts. They have neither sheep, cattle nor poultry. Horses and a few pet lapdogs are the only domestic animals found at their ranches. The men are warriors, and occasionally fish and hunt. The women not only attend to their household duties, but also cultivate fields of maize and melons, and collect grass seed, which they pound to flour for bread.’

Notes About Book:

Source: History Of Arizona Volume 1, By Thomas Edwin Farish, 1915, Printed and Published by Direction of the Second Legislature of the State of Arizona, A. D.

Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr’d and heavily edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow better online presentation.

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