The Yuma, Cocopah and Maricopa Indians

About the year 1760, the Yumas, Cocopahs and Maricopas composed one tribe, known as the Coco Maricopa tribe. They occupied the country about the head of the Gulf of California, and for some distance up the Colorado River. At that time a dispute occurred, and what is now known as the Cocopah tribe split off, and the secessionists were permitted to go in peace. This pacific policy soon afterward induced the party, now known as Maricopas, to secede, also; but ‘this defection incurred the severe displeasure and hostility of the remainder, who now form the Yuma tribe. Many sanguinary conflicts ensued, when the Yumas succeeded in obtaining the aid of the Cocopahs, and, together, they gradually forced the Maricopas up the Colorado, until the Gila was reached. Knowing that the country to the north was occupied by the Amojaves, a large and warlike tribe, the retreating Maricopas turned their steps eastward, and followed the windings of the Gila River, pursued by their relentless enemies, until they reached the Great Gila Bend. Their spies were sent across this desert and returned with the intelligence that they had met a tribe living in well constructed and comfortable houses, cultivating the land, well clothed, and numerous and apparently happy. A council was called and it was agreed to send an embassy to the Pimas, to negotiate a defensive and offensive alliance, and with the request that the Pimas would parcel out to them a suitable amount of land for their occupation. After much delay, and with true Indian circumspection, it was agreed that the Maricopas should inhabit certain lands of the Pimas; out it was made a sine qua non that the newcomers must forever renounce their warlike and hunting propensities, and dedicate themselves to tillage – for, said the Pimas, “We have no hunting grounds; we do not wish to incur the vengeance of the Tontos, the Chimehuevis, the Apaches, and others, by making useless raids against them; they have nothing to lose, and we have, and you must confine yourselves solely to revenging any warlike incursions made either upon us or upon yourselves. You are free to worship after your own manner, and govern yourselves according to your own laws; but you must be ready at all times to furnish a proportionate number of warriors to protect the general weal, and, in the event of taking any booty, there shall be a fair division made by a council of sagamores, composed of equal numbers from each tribe, and their decision must be final.”

These equitable and generous terms were accepted by the Maricopas, who immediately occupied a portion of Pima territory, and imitated them in the construction of their dwellings and the cultivation of the land, being supplied with seed by the Pimas. In this manner the two tribes have continued together for over a hundred years; yet as an instance of the pertinacity with which an Indian will cling to his particular tribe and customs, although many of them have intermarried, and their villages were never more than two miles apart, and in some cases not more than four hundred yards, yet they could not converse with each other unless through an interpreter. The laws, religion, manners, ceremonies, and language of the Maricopas remained quite as distinct as on the day they sought the Pima alliance, and, while they were the warmest of friends, for the period stated, frequently intermarried, were bound together by one common sympathy and one common cause, had the same enemies to contend with, the same evils to deplore, and the same blessings to enjoy, they were no closer at the end of that period than they were at the commencement.

In the year 1857 the Yumas, with their allies, the Apache Mohaves, gathered a force of between three hundred and four hundred warriors to attack the Maricopas and Pimas. By some means the Cocopahs, managed to convey to the Maricopas the news of this intended foray, and when the invading army approached, the Pimas and Maricopas, assisted by the Papagoes, were ready to give them battle, and, in the ensuing fight, almost all the invading party were killed. This ended all attempts on the part of the Yumas and their allies to subjugate the Maricopas. An account of this battle is given in the first volume.

The Pimas, numbering about four hundred, the Maricopas, five hundred, and the Papagos, three hundred, were friendly to the whites and were of great assistance in keeping the hostile Apaches in check. John Walker was Indian Agent for these Indians, residing at Tucson, from 1859 to 1862, when he was succeeded by Abraham Lyons. In 1859 the sum of one thousand dollars was appropriated by Congress for a survey of the Pima and Maricopa lands on the Gila, and ten thousand dollars was also appropriated for gifts in the form of implements and clothes. The survey was made by Colonel A. B. Gray, and the presents were distributed by Sylvester Mowry before the end of the year.

Besides the growing of wheat, pumpkins, melons and other things, the Pimas to some extent cultivated cotton, which they wove in a primitive way into garments. Bartlett, in his Personal Narrative, in 1854, states that he saw cotton raised by the Pimas and Maricopas equal to the best Sea Island Cotton.

In 1857 Captain Bonneville made the first expedition against the Coyoteros and other bands of hostile Apaches. Making the mistake common to all the military at that time, he made a treaty with the Indians, which was disregarded entirely by the savages. From this time on the Apaches went upon the warpath in both the eastern and western portions of Arizona, all except the Chiricahuas under the control of Cochise. The Pinals, Tontos and the Coyoteros in Arizona and the Mimbres and Mescaleros in New Mexico, were especially dangerous. About this time the Mohaves also went on the warpath.

Cochise, the war chief of the Chiricahuas, and probably the ablest Indian whose name is linked with the early history of Arizona, had been uniformly friendly to the whites up to about the year 1859. He had a contract with the Butterfield Stage Line for supplying their station at Fort Bowie with wood, and there is no doubt but what this fierce and formidable band would have continued in amicable relations with the whites, had it not been for the stupidity of an American officer, the facts of which I now relate. A man by the name of Ward, whom C. D. Poston declares was a castoff from the Vigilance Committee in San Francisco, and who was, in all respects, a worthless character, was living on the Sonoita with his Mexican mistress and her son, whom Ward had adopted, when the Indians came down on his ranch during his absence, drove off his stock, and kidnapped the boy, who afterwards became known as Micky Free, and who was at that time, about seven or eight years old. Ward complained to the officer commanding at Fort Buchanan and asked that the military assist him in recovering his property and the captured boy. Lieutenant Bascom, a West Pointer, was sent in command of twelve men, under Sergeant Reuben F. Barnard, with orders to proceed to Apache Pass in the Chiricahua Range of mountains, which, at that time, was an Overland stage station, and gather all the information he could in regard to the lost boy and the Indians who had kidnapped him. The lieutenant was recently graduated from the military school and had no knowledge whatever of Indian character. This being probably his first important command, he may have felt unduly elated at being placed in charge of this expedition. Upon arriving at the station, he summoned Cochise’s band under a white flag, for a conference, and explained to them the object of his visit. Cochise declared that neither he nor any member of his band was responsible for the depredation, but that if he was given a few days’ time, he would discover what band of Indians had stolen the stock and carried off the boy, and would secure them by purchase, as was then the custom among the Indians, and restore them to the whites. This statement by Cochise was afterwards proven to be absolutely true, but Bascom did not believe it, and told Cochise and the chiefs with him that they were under arrest. Cochise drew his knife and cut a large slit through the tent and escaped to the hills, some say with a bayonet wound in the knee. The other prisoners, variously stated from one to six, among whom was the half brother of Cochise, were held by Bascom and his party. Cochise captured three white men and from nine to ten mules belonging to the Government. One of these prisoners, a man by the name of Wallace, understood the Apache language thoroughly, and, prior to this time, had been the warm personal friend of Cochise. Cochise rallied a large number of his warriors, and offered through Wallace, to exchange his captives for the captive Indians and to restore the stock which he had taken, which was refused. The next day this offer was repeated, Wallace and his companions urging the lieutenant to accede to it, declaring that otherwise their lives would pay the forfeit. Bascom, with unaccountable stubbornness, still refused, and hung the Apache prisoners, when Cochise tortured the white men to death in full view of the troops at the station. It seems then that Cochise attacked the station and Bascom had his hands full in defending himself: and his command until reinforcements arrived a few days later and enabled him to escape from his perilous position. Bascom resigned from the army at the breaking out of the Civil War, and, according to Captain Jeffords, was killed at the battle of Val Verde, while fighting on the side of the Confederates.
From this time forward, Cochise was the sworn enemy of the whites, and for more than twenty years he and his tribe were at war with them. Bascom ‘s stupidity and ignorance probably cost five thousand American lives and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property.

Raphael Pumpelly, who, at the time of the breaking out of the War of Rebellion, was metallurgist at the Santa Rita Mines, in his work entitled “Across America and Asia” gives a very succinct account of the capture of Cochise and his escape, the conditions in that part of Arizona when the Federal troops were withdrawn, and also an account of his escape from the Territory, in which recital Mr. Pumpelly gives an account of some of the Indian outrages and murders that occurred at that time. He says:

“The season was promising to pass without our hacienda being troubled by the Indians, when one morning our whole herd of forty or fifty fine horses and mules was missing. There were no animals left to follow with, and the result of a day’s pursuit was only the finding of an old horse and two jackasses.

“Several times during the remainder of the winter and spring, we were attacked by Apaches, and our mines were the scene of more fighting than any other part of the territory.

“Aside from this, little of note occurred, until news came that the troops were to be recalled, leaving the country without any protection. The excitement was very great among the settlers, who were scattered over the country in such a manner as to be unable to furnish mutual assistance.

“To make the matter worse, the military began an uncalled for war with the Apaches. In the beginning of April, I believe, some Indians, of what tribe was not known, carried off a cow and a child belonging to a Mexican woman, living with an American. Upon the application of the latter, the commandant at Fort Buchanan dispatched a force of seventy-five men to the nearest Apache tribe. The only interpreter to the expedition was the American who was directly interested in the result.

“Arriving at Apache Pass, the home of the tribe, the Lieutenant in command raised a white flag over his tent, under the protection of which six of the principal chiefs, including Cochise, one of the leaders of the Apache nation, came to the camp, and were invited into the tent.

“A demand was made for the child and cow, to which the Indians replied, truly or falsely, that they knew nothing of the matter, and that they had not been stolen by their tribe.

“After a long parley, during which the chiefs protested the innocence of their tribe in the matter, they were seized. One of the number in trying to escape was knocked down and pinned to the ground by a bayonet. Four others were bound, but Cochise, seizing a knife from the ground, cut his way through the canvas, and escaped, but not without receiving, as he afterward told, three bullets fired by the outside guard.

“And this happened under a United States flag of truce. At this time three of the most powerful tribes of the nation were concentrated at Apache Pass, and when Cochise arrived among them, a war of extermination was immediately declared against the whites.
“The next day they killed some prisoners, and in retaliation the five chiefs were hung. Our troops, after being badly beaten, were obliged to return to the fort. i 714345

“In the meantime, orders came for the abandonment of the territory by the soldiers. The country was thrown into consternation. The Apaches began to ride through it roughshod, succeeding in all their attacks. The settlers, mostly farmers, abandoned their crops, and with their families concentrated for mutual protection at Tucson, Tubac and at one or two ranches.

“When, in addition to this, the news came of the beginning of the rebellion in the East, we decided that as it would be impossible to hold our mines, our only course was to remove the portable property of the company to Tubac. We were entirely out of money, owing a considerable force of Mexican workingmen and two or three Americans, and needed means for paying for the transportation of the property, and for getting ourselves out of the country.

“As the Indians had some time before stopped all working of the mines, our stock of ore was too small to furnish the amount of silver needed to meet these demands, and our main hope lay in the possibility of collecting debts due to the company. In pursuance of this plan, I started alone but well armed to visit the Heintzelman mine, one of our principal debtors. The ride of forty miles was accomplished in safety, and I reached the house of the superintendent Mr. J. Poston, in the afternoon. Not being able to obtain money, for no one could afford to part with bullion, even to pay debts, I took payment in ore worth nearly $2,000 per ton, with a little flour and calico. This was dispatched in the course of the afternoon, in charge of two of the most fearless Mexicans of the force at the mine.

“The next morning I started homeward alone, riding a horse I had bought, and driving before me the one that brought me over. I had so much trouble with the loose animal, that night found me several miles from our hacienda.

“Only those who have traveled in a country of hostile Indians, know what it is to journey by night. The uncertain light of the stars, or even of the moon, leaves open the widest field for the imagination to fill. Fancy gives life to the blackened yucca, and transforms the tall stem of the century plant into the lance of the Apache. The ear of the traveler listens anxiously to the breathing of his horse, and his eye, ever on the alert before and behind, must watch the motions of the horse’s ears, and scrutinize the sand for tracks, and every object within fifty yards for the lurking place of an Indian.

“Still, night is the least dangerous time to travel, as one is not easily seen so far as by day. But after a few night journeys, I found the mental tension so unbearable that I always chose the daytime, preferring to run a far greater risk of death to being made the prey of an overstrained imagination. Then, too, in such a state of society as then existed, the traveler in the dead of night approaches a solitary house, perhaps his own, with much anxiety, the often occurring massacres of the whites and Mexicans by Indians, and the as frequent murders of the Americans by their own Mexican workmen, rendering it uncertain whether he may not find only the dead bodies of his friends.

“About three miles from the hacienda, in the most rocky part of the valley, the horse in front stopped short, and both animals began to snort and show signs of fear. There could be little doubt that Indians were in the neighborhood. Both horses started off at a runaway speed, leaving all control over either one out of the question. Fortunately, the free horse, taking the lead, made first a long circuit and then bounded off toward the hacienda, followed by my own. After a breakneck course over stony ground, leaping rocks and cacti, down and up steep hills, and tearing through thorny bushes, with clothing torn and legs pierced by the Spanish bayonet, I reached the house.

“The wagon with the ore, although due that morning, had not arrived, and this was the more remarkable as I had not seen it on the road. When noon came the next day, and the ore still had not arrived, we concluded that the Mexicans who knew well its value, had stolen it, packed it on the mules, and taken the road to Sonora.

“Acting on this supposition, Grosvenor, (H. C, superintendent of the mine), and myself mounted our horses, and, armed and provisioned for a ten days’ absence, started in pursuit.

“We rode about two miles, and descended to the foot of a long hill, making a short cut to avoid the bend of the wagon road, which for lighter grade crossed the dry bed of the stream a few hundred yards higher up.

“We were just crossing the arroyo to climb the opposite hill, when looking up we saw the missing wagon just coming into sight and beginning the descent. One of the Mexicans rode a wheel mule, while the other was walking ahead of the leaders. We had evidently judged our men wrongly, and when Grosvenor proposed that we should go on and come back with them, I objected, on the ground that the Mexicans, seeing us prepared for a long journey, would know at once that we had suspected them. We therefore decided to turn back, but taking another way homeward, we immediately lost sight of the wagon. After riding a few hundred yards we dismounted at a spring, where we rested for a quarter of an hour, and then rode home.

“As the afternoon passed away without the arrival of the wagon, we supposed it had broken down, and at twilight Grosvenor proposed that we should walk out and see what caused the delay. I took down my hat to go, but, being engaged in important work, concluded not to leave it, when my friend said he would go only to a point close by, and come back if he saw nothing. It was soon dark, and the two other Americans and myself sat down to tea. By the time we left the table, Grosvenor had been out about half an hour, and we concluded to go after him.

“Accompanied by Mr. Robinson, the bookkeeper, and leaving the other American to take care of the house, I walked along the Tubac road. We were both well armed, and the full moon, just rising above the horizon behind us, lighted brilliantly the whole country. We had gone about a mile and a half, and were just beginning to ascend a long, barren hill, when, hearing the mewing of our house cat, I stopped, and, as the cat came running toward us, stooped and took her in my arms.

“As I did so, my attention was attracted by her sniffing the air and fixing her eyes on some object ahead of us. Looking in the direction thus indicated, we saw near the roadside on the top of the hill, the crouching figure of a man, his form for a moment clearly denned against the starlit sky, and then disappearing behind a cactus. I dropped the cat, which bounded on ahead of us, and we cocked our pistols and walked briskly up the hill. But when we reached the cactus, the man was gone, though a dark ravine, running parallel with our road showed the direction he had probably taken. Of Grosvenor we saw nothing. Continuing our way at a rapid pace and full of anxiety, we began the long descent toward the arroyo, from which we had seen the wagon at noon. Turning a point of rocks about halfway down, we caught sight of the wagon drawn off from the road on the further side of the arroyo. The deep silence that always reigns in those mountains was unbroken, and neither mules nor men were visible. Observing something very white near the wagon, we at first took it for the reflected light of a campfire, and concluded that the Mexicans were encamped behind some rocks, and that with them we would find our friend. But it was soon evident that what we saw was a heap of flour reflecting the moonlight. Anxiously watching this and the wagon, we had approached within about twenty yards of the latter when we both started back – we had nearly trodden on a man lying in the road. My first thought was that it was a strange place to sleep, but he was naked and lying on his face, with his head downhill. The first idea had barely time to flash through my mind, when another followed – it was not sleep, but death.

“As we stooped down and looked closer, the truth we had both instinctively felt was evident – the murdered man was Grosvenor.

“It would be impossible to describe the intensity of emotion crowded into the minute that followed this discovery. For the first time, I stood an actor in a scene of death, the victim a dear friend, the murderers and the deed itself buried in mystery.

“The head of the murdered man lay in a pool of blood; two lance wounds through the throat had nearly severed it from the body, which was pierced by a dozen other thrusts. A bullet hole in the left breast had probably caused death before he was mutilated with lances. He had not moved since he fell by the shot that took his life; and as the feet were stretched out in stripping the corpse, so they remained stretched out when we found him. The body was still warm, indeed he could not have reached the spot when we left the house.

“I have seen death since, and repeatedly under circumstances almost equally awful, but never with so intense a shock. For a minute, that seemed an age, we were so unnerved that I doubt whether we could have resisted an attack, but fortunately our own situation soon brought us to our senses. We were on foot, two miles from the house, and the murderers, whoever they might be, could not be far off, if indeed the spy we had seen had not already started them after us. Looking toward the wagon, I thought I could discover other bodies, but we knew that every instant of time was of great importance, and without venturing to examine closer, we started homeward.

“There was only one white man at the hacienda, and a large number of peons, and we did not yet know whether the murderers were Indians, or Mexicans who would probably be in collusion with our own workmen.

“If they were Indians, we might escape by reaching the house before they could overtake us, but if they were our Mexicans, we could hardly avoid the fate the employee at the house must already have met with.

“Taking each of us one side of the road, and looking out, one to the left, the other to the right, our revolvers ready, and the cat running before us, we walked quickly homeward, uncertain whether we were going away from or into danger. In this manner we went on until within a half a mile of the house, when we reached the place where the road lay for several hundred yards through a dense thicket – the very spot for an ambush. We had now to decide whether to take this the shorter way, or another, which by detaining us a few minutes longer would lead us over an open plain, where we could in the bright moonlight see every object within a long distance. The idea of being able to defend ourselves tempted us strongly toward the open plain, but the consciousness of the value of every minute caused us to decide quickly, and taking the shorter way, we were soon in the dark, close thicket. As we came out into the open valley, the sensation of relief was like that felt on escaping untouched from a shot you have seen deliberately fired at you. Just before reaching the house, we heard Indian signals given and answered, each time nearer than before, but we gained the door safely, and found all as we had left it, the American unaware of danger was making bread, and the Mexicans were asleep in their quarters. We kept guard all night, but were not attacked.

” Before daylight we dispatched a Mexican courier across the mountains to the fort, and another to Tubac, and then went after Grosvenor’s body. We found it as we had left it, while near the wagon lay the bodies of the two Mexican teamsters.

“We were now able to read the history of the whole of this murderous affair. The wagon must have been attacked within less than five minutes after we had seen it at noon, indeed while we were resting and smoking at the spring not four hundred yards from the spot. A party of Indians, fifteen in number, as we found by the tracks, had sprung upon the Mexicans, who seem unaccountably not to have used their firearms, although the sand showed the marks of a desperate hand to hand struggle. Having killed the men, the Apaches cut the mules loose, emptied the flour, threw out the ore, which was useless to them, and drove the animals to a spot a quarter of a mile distant, where they feasted on one of them, and spent the day and night. A party was left behind to waylay such of us as might come out to meet the team. When Grosvenor neared the spot, he was shot by an Indian, who, crouching behind a cactus about ten feet distant, had left the impression of his gunstock in the sand. Knowing well that their victim would be sought by others, they had left the spy we had seen; and had not the cat directed our attention to him at the time when he was moved stealthily away, thereby causing us to walk rapidly to the scene of the murder, and faster back, we could hardly have escaped the fate of our friend.

“During the day Lieutenant Evans arrived with a force of nineteen soldiers, having with difficulty obtained the consent of his commandant, and soon after Colonel Poston reached the mine with a party of Americans. Graves had been dug, and, after reading the burial service and throwing in the earth, we fired a volley and turned away, no one knowing how soon his time might come.

“I now foresaw a long and dangerous work before us in extracting the silver from our ore. We could indeed have abandoned the mines, and have escaped from the Godforsaken land by accompanying the military, which was to leave in two weeks. But both Mr. Robinson and myself considered that we were in duty bound to place the movable property of the company in safety at Tubac, and to pay in bullion the money owing to men who without it could not escape. To accomplish this would require six weeks’ work at the furnace, crippled as were all operations by the loss of our horses and mules.

“It was of the first importance that we should increase our force of Americans, not only for protection against the Apaches, but more especially against the possible treachery of our Mexican workmen, for at almost every mine in the country a part of all of the whites had been murdered by their peons. One of the party which had come that day from Tubac was engaged on the spot. Partly in the hope of getting a small force of soldiers, who should remain till the abandonment began, and partly to persuade an American who lived on the road to the fort to join us, I resolved to accompany Lieutenant Evans, who was obliged to return the next day. ”Taking with me a young Apache who had been captured while a child, and had no sympathy with his tribe, I rode away with Lieutenant Evans, intending to return the next day. The wagon road lay for ten miles along a tributary of the Sonoita valley, then ascended the Sonoita for twelve miles to the fort, while a bridle path across the hills shortened the distance some two or three miles by leaving the road before the junction of the two valleys. To reach the house of the American whom I wished to see, we would have to follow the wagon road all the way; and as more than a mile of it before the junction of the valleys lay through a narrow and dangerous defile, on an Apache war trail that was constantly frequented by the Indians, Lieutenant Evans would not assume the responsibility of risking the lives of his men in a place where they would be at such disadvantage. While I felt obliged to acknowledge that it would be imprudent to take infantry mounted on mules through the defile, it was of the first necessity that I should see Mr. Elliott Titus, the American living near the junction of the valleys. At the point where the hill trail left the road, bidding goodbye to Lieutenant Evans, who, could he have left his men, would have accompanied me himself, I was soon alone with Juan, my Apache boy. As we neared the gorge, I observed that Juan, who was galloping ahead, stopped suddenly, and hesitated. As I came up, he pointed to the sand, which was covered with fresh foot tracks.

“It was evident that a considerable party of Indians had been here within half an hour, and had dispersed suddenly toward the hills in different directions. Our safest course seemed to be to press forward and reach Titus’ house, now about two miles off. We were on good horses, and these animals, not less alarmed than ourselves, soon brought us through the defile to the Sonoita creek. To slip our horses’ bridles without dismounting, and refresh the animals with one long swallow, was the work of a minute, and we were again tearing along at a runaway speed. We had barely left the creek when we passed the full length impression of a man’s form in the sand with a pool of blood, and at the same instant an unearthly yell from the hills behind us showed that the Apaches, although not visible, were after us, and felt sure of bringing us down. Our horses, however, fearing nothing so much as an Indian, almost flew over the ground and soon brought us in sight of Titus’ hacienda. This lay about two hundred yards off from the road in a broad valley shaded by magnificent live oaks.

“As we rode rapidly towards the houses, I was struck with the quietness of a place generally full of life, and said so to Juan.
“It’s all right!’ he said, ‘I saw three men just now near the house. ‘

“But as we passed the first building, a smith’s shop, both horses shied, and as we came to the principal house, a scene of destruction met our eyes.

“The doors had been forced in, and the whole contents of the house lay on the ground outside, in heaps of broken rubbish. Not far from the door stood a pile made of wool, corn, beans and flour, and capping the whole a gold watch hung from a stock driven into the heap. Stooping from the saddle, I took the watch, and found it still going.

“As I started to dismount to look for the bodies of the Americans, Juan begged of me not to stop.

“They are all killed,’ he said, ‘and we shall have hardly time to reach the road before the Indians come up. Promise me,’ he continued, ‘that you will fight when the devils close with us; if not, I will save myself now.’

“Assuring the boy, whom I knew to be brave, that I had no idea of being scalped and burned without a struggle, I put spurs to my restless horse, and we were soon on the main road, but not a moment too soon, for a large party of Apaches, fortunately for us on foot, were just coming down the hill and entered the trail close behind us. A volley of arrows flew by our heads, but our horses carried us in a few seconds beyond the reach of these missiles, and the enemy turned back. Slackening our speed, we were nearing a point where the road crossed a low spur of the valley terrace, when suddenly several heads were visible for an instant over the brow of the hill and as quickly disappeared. Guessing instantly that we were cut off by another band of Indians, and knowing that our only course was to run the gauntlet, we rode slowly to near the top of the hill to rest our animals, and then spurred the terrified horses onward, determined if possible to break the ambush. We were on the point of firing into a party of men who came in full view directly as we galloped over the brow of the hill, when a second glance assured us that instead of Apaches they were Americans and Mexicans, burying an American who had been killed that morning. It was the impression of this man’s body which we had seen near the creek. He had been to the fort to give notice of the massacre of a family living further down the river, and on his return had met the same fate, about an hour before we passed the spot. An arrow, shot from above, had entered his left shoulder and penetrated to the ribs of the other side, and in pulling this shaft out a terrible feature of these weapons was illustrated. The flinthead, fastened to the shaft with a thong of deer sinew, remains firmly attached while the binding is dry; but as soon as it is moistened by the blood, the head becomes loose and remains in the body after the arrow is withdrawn. The Apaches have several ways of producing terrible wounds; among others, by firing bullets chipped from the half oxidized matte of old furnace heaps, containing copper and lead combined with sulphur and arsenic. But perhaps the worst at short range are produced by bullets made from the fibre of the aloe root, which are almost always fatal, since it is impossible to clear the wound.

“On reaching the fort and seeing the commandant, I was told by that officer that he could not take the responsibility of weakening his force, and that the most he could do would be to give me an escort back to the Santa Rita. As the troops from Fort Breckenridge were expected in a few days I was led to expect that after their arrival I might obtain a small number of soldiers. But when, after several days had passed without bringing these troops, the commandant told me that not only would it be impossible to give us any protection at the Santa Rita, but that he could no longer give me an escort thither, I resolved to return immediately with only the boy Juan. In the meantime a rumor reached the fort that a large body of Apaches had passed through the Santa Rita Valley, and probably massacred our people, and were preparing to attack Tubac. I was certainly never under a stronger temptation than I felt then to accept the warmly pressed invitation of the officers to leave the country with the military, and give up all idea of returning to what they represented as certain death. But I felt constrained to go back, and Juan and myself mounted our horses. I had hardly bid the officers goodbye when an old frontiersman, Mr. Robert Ward, joined us, and declared his intention of trying to reach his wife, who was in Tubac. As we left the fort a fine pointer belonging to the commandant followed us, and as he had become attached to me, we had no difficulty and few scruples in enticing him away to swell our party. We took the hill trail, it being both shorter and safer, and had reached a point within three miles of the Santa Rita without meeting any fresh signs of Indians, when the dog, which kept always on the trail ahead of us, after disappearing in the brush by an arroyo, came back growling and with his tail between his legs. We were then two or three hundred yards from the thicket, and spurring our horses, we left the trail and quickly crossed the arroyo a hundred yards or more above the ambush, for such the fresh Indian tracks in the dry creek had shown it to be.

“We reached our mines safely, and found that although almost constantly surrounded by Apaches, who had cut off all communication with Tubac, there had been no direct attack. Our entire Mexican force was well armed with breach loading rifles, a fact which, while it kept off the Indians, rendered it necessary that our guard over our peons should never cease for an instant. Nor did we once during the long weeks that followed, place ourselves in a position to be caught at a disadvantage. Under penalty of death no Mexican was allowed to pass certain limits, and in turn our party of four kept an unceasing guard, while our revolvers day and night were never out of our hands.

“We had now to cut wood for charcoal and haul it in, stick by stick, not having enough animals to draw the six horse wagons. This and burning the charcoal kept us nearly three weeks before we could begin to smelt. Our furnaces stood in the open air about one hundred yards from the main house, and on a tongue of high land at the junction of two ravines. The brilliant light illuminating every object near the furnace exposed the workmen every night, and all night, to the aim of the Apache. In order to obtain timely notice of the approach of the Indians, we picketed our watch dogs at points within a hundred yards of the works; and these faithful guards, which the enemy never succeeded in killing, more than once saved us from a general massacre. The whole Mexican force slept on their arms around the furnace, taking turns at working, sleeping and patrolling, receiving rations of diluted alcohol, sufficient to increase their courage without making them drunk.

“More than one attempt was made by the Apaches to attack us, but being always discovered in time, and failing to surprise us, they contented themselves with firing into the force at the furnace from a distance. In the condition to which we all, and especially myself, had been brought by weeks of sleepless anxiety, nothing could sound more awful than the sudden discharge of a volley of rifles, accompanied by unearthly yells, that at times broke in upon the silence of the night. Before daylight one morning, our chief smelter man was shot while tending the furnace; it then became necessary for me to perform this duty myself, uninterruptedly, till I could teach the art to one of the Americans and a Mexican.

“I foresaw that the greatest danger from the Mexicans was to be anticipated when the silver should be refined, and made arrangements to concentrate this work into the last two or three days, and leave the mine immediately after it was finished.

“Dispatching a messenger, who succeeded in reaching Tubac, I engaged a number of wagons and men, and on their arrival, everything that could be spared was loaded and sent off. The train was attacked and the mules stolen, but the owner and men escaped, and bringing fresh animals, succeeded in carrying the property to Tubac.

“At last, the result of six weeks’ smelting lay before me in a pile of lead planches containing the silver, and there only remained the separating of these metals to be gone through with. During this process, which I was obliged to conduct myself, and which lasted some fifty or sixty hours, I scarcely closed my eyes, and the three other Americans, revolver in hand, kept an unceasing guard over the Mexicans, whose manner showed plainly their thoughts. Before the silver was cool, we loaded it. We had the remaining property of the company, even to the wooden machine for working the blast, in the returned wagons, and were on the way to Tubac, which we reached the same day, the 15th of June. Here, while the last wagon was being unloaded, a rifle was accidentally discharged, and the ball passing through my hair above the ear, deafened me for the whole afternoon.

“Thus ended my experience of eight months of mining operations in an Apache stronghold.”

As one of the results of the withdrawal of the troops from the Territory, the following, taken from J. Ross Browne’s “Adventures in the Apache Country” gives a vivid description of the desolation of the country around Tubac and also of one of the fights had with the Indians by the settlers:

“Three years ago (about 1858) this beautiful valley, (the Santa Cruz) was well settled by an enterprising set of frontiersmen as far up as the Calabasas ranch, fifteen miles beyond Tubac. At the breaking out of the rebellion, when the Overland Stage Line was withdrawn, the whole Territory as stated in a previous chapter, went to ruin with a rapidity almost unparalleled. The Apaches, supposing they had created a panic among the whites, became more bold and vigorous in their forays than ever. Ranch after ranch was desolated by fire, robbery and murder. No white man’s life was secure beyond Tucson; and even there the few inhabitants lived in a state of terror.

“I saw on the road between San Xavier and Tubac, a distance of forty miles, almost as many graves of the white men murdered by the Apaches within the last few years. Literally the roadside was marked with the burial places of these unfortunate settlers. There is not now a single living soul to enliven the solitude. All is silent and deathlike; yet strangely calm and beautiful in its desolation. Here were fields with torn down fences; houses burned or racked to pieces by violence, the walls cast about in heaps over the once pleasant homes; everywhere ruin, grim and ghastly with associations of sudden death. I have rarely travelled through a country more richly favored, yet more depressing in its associations with the past. Day and night the common subject of conversation was murder; and wherever our attention was attracted by the beauty of the country, or the richness of the soil, a stone covered grave marked the foreground.

”The history of Bill Rhodes, at whose ranch we camped, was an example. In the full tide of success, this daring frontiersman returned to his home one evening, and found his comrades murdered and himself surrounded by a large band of Apaches. By some means, he managed to break through their lines; but his horse being jaded, it soon became apparent that escape was impossible. Just as the pursuing Indians were upon him, he flung himself into a willow thicket and there made battle. A circle was made around him by the bloodstained and yelling devils, who numbered at least thirty; but he was too cool a man to be intimidated by their infernal demonstrations. For three hours, he kept them at bay with his revolver; although they poured into the thicket an almost continuous volley of rifle shots and arrows. A ball struck him in the left arm, near the elbow, and nearly disabled him from loss of blood. He buried the wounded part in the sand and continued the fight till the Indians, exasperated at his stubborn resistance, rushed up in a body, determined to put an end to him at once. He had but two shots left. With one of these he killed the first Indian that approached, when the rest whirled about and stood off. They then addressed him in Spanish, calling him by name, and telling him he was a brave man, and if he would come out, they would spare his life. ” ‘No,’ said he, ‘D__n you, I’ll kill the last one of you before you shall take me !’ He had given such good evidence of his ability in that way that they held a parley and concluded he was about right; so they retired and left him master of the field. Bill Rhodes’ Apache fight is now one of the standard incidents in the history of Arizona.”

In reference to the Cochise war, Chas. D. Poston says: “The men, women and children killed; the property destroyed, and the detriment to the settlement of Arizona cannot be computed. The cost of the war against Cochise would have purchased John Ward a string of yokes of oxen reaching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and as for his woman’s son, Micky Free, he afterwards became an Indian scout and interpreter, and about as infamous a scoundrel as those who generally adorn that profession.”

A little prior to this time a company of Maine lumbermen under a captain named Tarbox, established a camp in the Santa Eita Mountains to whipsaw lumber at one hundred and fifty dollars per thousand feet, and were doing well. The Heintzelman mine bought all they could produce. They built a house and corral on the south side of the Santa Cruz River, on the road from Tucson to Tubac, called the Canoa, which became a convenient stopping place for travellers on the road. Poston, who had charge of the mine, had made a treaty with the Indians, by which the Indians were to leave them undisturbed in the working of their properties, and they, in turn, were not to interfere with the Indians in their frequent raids into Mexico. One day, twenty-five or thirty Mexicans rode into Tubac and said the Apaches had made a raid on their ranches and carried off all their horses and mules over the Babaquivera plain, intending to cross the Santa Cruz River between the Canoa and Tucson. The Mexicans wanted the men at the mine to join them in a cortada (cutoff) and rescue the animals, offering to divide them equally for their assistance. This was declined because the Apaches had faithfully kept their treaty with the whites at the mine and the whites felt it was their duty in good faith to do the same. The Mexicans went to Canoa and made the same proposition to the lumbermen, who accepted it. They succeeded in forming an ambuscade and fired on the Apaches when they reached the river. The Apaches fled at the fire, leaving the stolen stock behind them. The Mexicans made a fair division and from the sales of the mules to merchants in Tucson, the lumbermen were enabled to add many comforts to their camp at the Canoa on the Santa Cruz.

Within a month thereafter, when the inhabitants of Tubac were passing a quiet Sunday, a Mexican vaquero came riding furiously into the plaza, crying out: “Apaches! Apaches! Apaches!” When he had recovered sufficiently to speak intelligently, he gave the information that the Apaches had made an attack on the Canoa and killed all the settlers. It was late in the day and nearly all the men had gone to the mine, but about a dozen horses and men were mustered. Early the next morning, they started for the Canoa, and when they reached that place a little after sunrise, it looked as if it had been struck by a hurricane; doors and windows were smashed and the house was left a smoking ruin. The former inmates were lying around, dead; three of them had been thrown into the well head foremost. Seven men were buried in a row in front of the burned house. By the tracks it was thought that there was not less than eighty mounted Apaches in this raid, and they carried off 280 head of animals from the Canoa and the adjoining ranches.

Lieutenant Ives in his exploration in 1857 notes the change of attitude of the Mohave Indians towards the command and attributes it to the machinations of the Mormons who persuaded the Indians that it was the intention of the Americans to divest them of their lands. This was the statement made to the Lieutenant by one of the head chiefs of the Mohaves, and his personal friend.

Emigrants to California continued to pass over the Beale trail, oftentimes suffering the loss of their stock, and sometimes being murdered outright by the Mohaves, Cocopahs, and Tontos. In 1857 and 1858, the Mojaves were brought under subjugation by Colonel Hoffman, which was greatly aided by the establishment of Fort Mohave in 1858, and in 1859 Fort Breckenridge was established for the protection of the Overland Stage route.

In regard to conditions in this part of Arizona, at that time, Van Tramp, in his work entitled, “Our Southwestern Empire” says:

“From 1857 to 1860, a large amount of capital was expended in transporting and erecting machinery, and developing the silver mines south of Tucson; but in consequence of the inaccessible nature of the country, and the high rates of duties levied upon all importations through Sonora, these enterprises were carried on at great expense and under extraordinary difficulties. Boilers weighing six thousand pounds and heavy engines had to be transported in wagons from Lavaca, in Texas, to the Rio Grande, and thence across the continent to the silver regions, a distance of twelve hundred miles. The roads were almost as nature had made them, rough and rocky, abounding in ruts, pitfalls, and heavy sands, and every mile of the way from the Rio Grande was beset with dangers. Fierce and barbarous Indians lurked behind the rocks and in the deep arroyos, ever on the alert to plunder and murder the’ little bands of white men who toiled wearily through the inhospitable desert. The sufferings of these hardy adventurers were almost without parallel in the history of human 1 enterprise. Hunger and thirst and burning suns and chilling nights, were among the least of the trials to which they were subject, sudden death from hidden foes or cruel and prolonged torture, stared them in the face at every step. The wayside w T as lined with the bleached bones of unfortunate men who had preceded them, straggling parties who had fallen victims to the various perils of the journey.

“When after weary months of toil and suffering, the jaded teamsters arrived in Arizona with their precious freight – now literally worth its weight in silver – they found no established homes, no prosperous communities of families to greet them, but a country as wild as that through which they had passed, almost desolated by the ravages of the Apaches. For three centuries these Bedouins of the desert had continued their depredations upon stock, robbing the ranches, killing the rancheros, and harassing emigrant parties. No industry could prosper under their malign influence. The whole state of Sonora was devastated and the inhabitants in a starving condition. Arizona possessed at least the pretense of military protection. It soon became infested with the refuse population of Sonora; the most faithless and abandoned race, perhaps, on the face of the earth. What the Apaches left undone, in the way of murder and robbery, they seldom failed to complete, and, indeed, were regarded with more distrust by respectable citizens than even the barbarous Indians.

“Nor was this all. The most desperate class of renegades from Sonora and California found Arizona a safe asylum from arrest under the laws. The Vigilance Committee of San Francisco did more to populate the territory than the silver mines. Tucson became the headquarters of vice, dissipation, and crime. It was probably the nearest approach to Pandemonium on the North American continent. Murderers, thieves, cutthroats, and gamblers formed the mass of the population. Every man went around armed to the teeth, and scenes of bloodshed were of everyday occurrence in the public streets. There was neither government, law, nor military protection. The garrison of Tucson confined itself to its legitimate business of getting drunk or doing nothing. Arizona was, perhaps, the only part of the world under the protecting aegis of a civilized government, in which every man administered justice to suit himself, and where all assumed the right to gratify the basest passions of their nature without restraint. It was literally a paradise of devils. Under such circumstances, it is not a matter of surprise that the progress of the country was slow. It was not a place for honest workingmen or for families. Good people feared to go there. The newspapers were filled with accounts of bloody affrays, robberies, and Apache raids. Yet, despite of all these drawbacks, men of enterprise began to learn the great natural resources of the Territory. The silver mines of Santa Rita and Cerro Colorado attracted attention as they became developed, and in 1860 Arizona seemed in a fair way of receiving a rapid increase of population, and obtaining through Congress what it had long needed – a territorial form of government.”

The most notable fight with Indians which occurred about this time was in the spring of 1861, when six men, known as the Free Thompson party, the names of all of whom I have been unable to learn, were attacked by Cochise and Mangus Colorado at Stein’s Pass. The men were well armed with improved rifles and two thousand rounds of ammunition, besides side arms. They were attacked by four or five hundred warriors under Cochise and Mangus Colorado; they drove the stage off the road to a little mound where the fight occurred, which lasted, according to the Indian accounts, for three days. Cochise did not have more than one-third of the warriors Mangus Colorado commanded at this battle. The whites were unable to get water, and the little food they had was soon exhausted. The Indians finally killed them, but at a loss of something like a hundred and thirty-five or forty men. Cochise, himself, admitted that he lost out of his band forty-five men.

This party was on its way from the Mesilla Valley to California; were old frontiersmen, everyone a dead shot, and they fought to the last until every man was killed. Cochise expressed his admiration for their fortitude, and endurance, saying they were the bravest men he ever knew or heard of, that if all his band were equal in bravery and endurance to the six men who defended themselves from behind the little stone breastwork that they had thrown up on the brow of the hill against such overwhelming odds, that he would own Arizona, New Mexico and Sonora.

Charles O. Brown of Tucson, one of the party who buried the bodies of these men, said that the last one killed was badly wounded, and they could trace his course on and around the hill by the blood which flowed from his body.

The withdrawal of the Federal troops from Arizona began in the latter part of the year 1860, and was continued in 1861. Colonel Poston says that in the month of June, 1861, the machinery at Arivaca was running smoothly and the mine was yielding handsomely and two hundred and fifty employees were working for good wages, which were paid punctually every Saturday afternoon. One day he was handed a note from Lieutenant Chapin by an orderly from Fort Buchanan, enclosing a copy of an order from the commanding officer of the military department, as follows:

“Santa Fe, June, 1861.” Commanding Officer, Fort Buchanan,

On receipt of this, you will abandon and destroy your Post, burn your Commissary and Quartermasters stores, and everything between the Colorado and Rio Grande that will feed an enemy.

March out with your guns loaded, and do not permit any citizen within three miles of your lines.
(Signed) Major General Lynde.”

At a council of a number of employees of the mine, it was decided that they could not hold the country against the Apaches after the troops had been withdrawn, for not only would they have to fight the Apaches, but they would have to defend themselves against the Mexican cutthroats as well. It was concluded to reduce the ore they had mined, which was yielding about a thousand dollars a day, pay off the hands and prepare for the worst. The Indians, thinking that the withdrawal of the troops meant that they had conquered the whites and driven these enemies from the territory, became very aggressive and, about a week after the above decision was made, they made a descent upon the Heintzelman mine and carried off a hundred and forty-six horses and mules. Concerning the stealing of this stock and the destruction of the headquarters of the company at Tubac, and also the abandonment of the Santa Rita hacienda, Colonel Poston says:

“The corral at Arivaca was constructed of adobes, with a layer of cactus poles (ocotillo) lengthwise between each layer of adobe. The Apaches tried their rope saws, but the cactus parted the rope. The bars were up, and a log chain wound around each bar and locked to the post; but they removed the bars quietly by wrapping their serapes around the chain, to prevent the noise alarming the watchman. The steam engine was running day and night, and the watchmen had orders to go the rounds of the place every hour during the night; but the Apaches were so skillful, and secretive in their movements that not the least intimation of their presence on the place was observed – not even by the watchdogs, which generally have a keen scent for Indians.

“At the break of day the Apaches gave a whoop and disappeared with the entire herd before the astonished gaze of five watchmen who were sleeping under a porch within thirty yards. A pursuit was organized as soon as possible; but the pursuers soon ran into an ambuscade prepared by the retreating Apaches, when three were killed and two wounded. The rest returned without recovering any of the stock.

“This loss of stock made very lonesome times at Arivaca, as it could not be replaced in the country, and we had no animals to haul ores, fuel or provisions; only a few riding and ambulance animals, which had to be kept in stables and fed on grain.

“About the same time the Apaches made an attack on the Santa Rita Hacienda, and the eastern side of the Santa Cruz River had to be abandoned.

“At Tubac, the headquarters of the company, where the old Mexican cuartel furnished ample room for storage, about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of merchandise, machinery, and supplies were stored. The Apaches, to the number of nearly a hundred, surrounded the town and compelled its evacuation. The plunder and destruction of property was complete. We had scarcely a safe place to sleep, and nothing to sleep upon but the ground.”

Notes About Book:

Source: History Of Arizona Volume 2, 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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top