Building a State in Apache Land
Charles D. Poston
Produced by David Starner, Garrett Alley and the Online Distributed
BUILDING A STATE IN APACHE LAND
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From articles of Charles D. Poston in the _Overland Express_
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How the Territory Was Acquired
In San Francisco in the early fifties, there was a house on the
northeast corner of Stockton and Washington, of considerable
architectural pretensions for the period, which was called the
"Government Boarding House."
The cause of this appellation was that the California senators and their
families, a member of Congress and his wife, the United States marshal,
and several lesser dignitaries of the Federal Government, resided there.
In those early days private mansions were few; so the boarding-house
formed the only home of the Argonauts.
After the ladies retired at night, the gentlemen usually assembled in
the spacious parlor, opened a bottle of Sazerac, and discussed politics.
It was known to the senators that the American minister in Mexico had
been instructed to negotiate a new treaty with Mexico for the
acquisition of additional territory; not that there was a pressing
necessity for more land, but for reasons which will be briefly stated:
1st. By the treaty of 1848, usually called Guadaloupe Hidalgo,[A] the
government of the United States had undertaken to protect the Mexicans
from the incursions of Indians within the United States boundary, and as
this proved to be an impractical undertaking, the damages on account of
failure began to assume alarming proportions, and the government of the
United States was naturally anxious to be released from the obligation.
2. The Democratic party was in the plenitude of power, and the Southern
States were dominant in the Administration. It had been the dream of
this element for many years to construct a railroad from the Mississippi
River to the Pacific Ocean, and the additional territory was required
for "a pass". It was not known at that early day that railroads could be
constructed across the Rocky Mountains at a higher latitude, and it was
feared that snow and ice might interfere with traffic in the extremes of
The State of Texas had already given encouragement to the construction
of such a railroad, by a liberal grant of land reaching as far west as
the Rio Grande, and it devolved upon the United States to provide the
means of getting on to the Pacific Ocean. The intervening country
belonged at that time to Mexico, and for the purpose of acquiring this
land the treaty was authorized.
The condition of affairs in Mexico was favorable to a negotiation. Santa
Ana had usurped the powers of the government, and was absolute dictator
under the name of President. There was no Mexican Congress, and none had
been convened since they were herded together at the conclusion of the
Mexican War under protection of American troops.
The condition of affairs in the United States was also extremely
favorable. The treasury was overflowing with California gold, under the
tariff of 1846 business was prosperous, the public debt small, and the
future unclouded. The American Minister to Mexico (General Gadsden of
South Carolina) was authorized to make several propositions:--
1st. Fifty Millions for a boundary line from the mouth of the Rio Grande
west to the Pacific Ocean.
2nd. Twenty millions for a boundary line due east from the mouth of the
Yaqui River in the Gulf of Mexico to the Rio Grande. This was to include
the peninsula of Lower California.
3rd. Ten millions for a boundary line to include the "railroad pass."
A treaty was finally concluded for the smaller boundary, including the
"railroad pass," comprising the land between the Rio Grande and the
Colorado Rivers south of the Gila River, with the boundary line between
the United States and Mexico about the shape of a dog's hind leg. The
price paid for the new territory, which was temporarily called the
"Gadsden Purchase," was ten million dollars.
A check for seven million was given by Mr. Guthrie, Secretary of the
Treasury, on the sub-treasury in New York, to the agent of Santa Ana;
but not a dollar of it ever reached the Mexican treasury, as Santa Ana
fled with the spoil. The remaining three millions were retained to pay
the "lobby" and confirm the treaty. The treaty was signed in Mexico on
the 23d day of December, 1853.
Pending the negotiation of the treaty between the high contracting
parties, in the City of Mexico, the discussion of the subject grew
interesting at the Government Boarding-House in San Francisco, and a new
California was hoped for on the southern boundary. Old Spanish history
was ransacked for information from the voyages of Cortez in the Gulf of
California to the latest dates, and maps of the country were in great
In the mean time an agent of the Iturbide family had arrived in San
Francisco with a "Mexican Grant." After the execution of the Emperor
Iturbide, the Congress of the Mexican Republic voted an indemnity to the
family of one million dollars; but on account of successive revolutions
this sum was never at the disposition of the Mexican treasury, and in
liquidation the Mexican government made the family a grant of land in
California, north of the Bay of San Francisco, but before the land could
be located, the Americans had "acquired" the country, and it was lost.
The heirs then made application to the Mexican government for another
grant of land in lieu of the California concession, and were granted
seven hundred leagues of land, to be located in Sonora, Sinaloa and
Lower California, in such parcels as they might select.
Seven hundred leagues, or 3,000,800 acres, is a large tract of land in a
single body, and the attorney of the heirs considered it more convenient
to locate the land in small tracts of a league or two at a place. The
government of Mexico conceded whatever was required, and the grant was
made in all due form of Mexican law.
In the discussion at the Government Boarding House in San Francisco it
was urged: That the Gulf of California was the Mediterranean of the
Pacific, and its waters full of pearls. That the Peninsula of Lower
California was copper-bound, interspersed with gold and minerals,
illustrated with old Spanish Missions, and fanned by the gentlest
breezes from the South Pacific. That the State of Sonora was one of the
richest of Mexico in silver, copper, gold, coal and other materials,
with highly productive agricultural valleys in the temperate zone. That
the country north of Sonora, called in the Spanish history "Arizunea"
(rocky country) was full of minerals, with fertile valleys washed by
numerous rivers, and covered by forests primeval. That the climate was
all that could be desired, from the level of the Gulf of California, to
an altitude of 15,000 feet in the mountains of the north. That the
Southern Pacific Railroad would soon be built through the new country,
and that a new State would be made as a connecting link between Texas
and California, with the usual quota of governors, senators, and public
It was urged that the Iturbide Grant could be located so as to secure
the best sites for towns and cities in the new State, and the rest
distributed to settlers as an inducement for rapid colonization. The
enthusiasm increased with the glamour of Spanish history and the
generous flow of Sazerac.
It must be admitted that an alluring prospect was opened for a young man
idling away his life over a custom house desk at three hundred dollars a
month; and in the enthusiasm of youth I undertook to make an exploration
of the new territory and to locate the Iturbide Grant. Who could have
foreseen that the attempted location of the Iturbide Grant would upset
the Mexican Republic and set up an empire in Mexico under French
The first thing was to organize a "syndicate" in San Francisco, to
furnish funds for expenses and for the location of the Iturbide Grant.
This was easily accomplished through some enthusiastic French bankers.
The ex-member of Congress was dispatched to the City of Mexico to secure
the approbation of the Mexican government, and I embarked at San
Francisco for Guaymas with a rather tough cargo of humanity. They were
not so bad as reckless; not ungovernable, but independent.
The records of the United States consulate in Guaymas, if they are
preserved, show our registration as American citizens, fourteenth day of
January, 1854. The Mexican officials were polite, but not cordial. They
said Santa Ana had no right to sell the territory, as he was an usurper
and possessed no authority from the Mexican people. As international
tribunals had not then been established to determine these nice points
of international ethics, we did not stop to argue the question, but
pushed on to the newly acquired territory.
We were very much disappointed at its meagerness, and especially that
the boundary did not include a port in the Gulf of California. A larger
territory could have been secured as easily, but the American Minister
had only one idea, and that was to secure "a pass" for a Southern
Pacific Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. The
pass desired was the Guadaloupe Canon, used as a wagon road by General
Cook in his march from New Mexico to California in 1846, and strange to
say, not subsequently occupied as a railroad pass.
The country south of the new boundary line is not of much consequence
to us: it belongs to Mexico.
The country north of the Mexican boundary is the most marvelous in the
United States. After many years of arduous investigation and comparison
with all the other countries of the world, it is still nearly as great
an enigma as when first explored in 1854. The valleys are as fair as the
sun ever shone upon, with soil as productive as the valley of the Nile.
The rigors of winter never disturb agricultural pursuits in the open. In
fact, in the southern portion of the territory there is no winter.
The valleys of Arizona are not surpassed for fertility and beauty by any
that I have seen, and that includes the whole world; but still they are
not occupied. Spanish and Mexican grants have hung over the country like
a cloud, and settlers could not be certain of a clear title. Moreover,
the Apaches have been a continual source of dread and danger. This state
of affairs is, however, now passing away.
There were evidences of a recent Mexican occupation, with the ruins of
towns, missions, presidios, haciendas, and ranches. There were evidences
of former Spanish civilization, with extensive workings in mines. There
were evidences of a still more remote and mysterious civilization by an
aboriginal race, of which we know nothing, and can learn but little by
the vestiges they have left upon earth.
They constructed houses, lived in communities, congregated in cities,
built fortresses, and cultivated the soil by irrigation. No evidence has
been found that they used any domestic animals, no relic of wheeled
vehicles, neither iron, steel, nor copper implements; and yet they built
houses more than five stories high, and cut joists with stone axes.
How they transported timbers for houses is not known. The engineering
for their irrigating canals was as perfect as that practiced on the
Euphrates, the Ganges, or the Nile. The ruins of the great houses (casas
grandes) are precisely with the cardinal points.
Near Florence, on the Gila, is beyond all doubt the oldest and most
unique edifice in the United States. Just when and how it was built
baffles human curiosity. Whether it was erected for a temple, a palace,
or a town hall, cannot be ascertained. The settlement or city
surrounding the ruin must have occupied a radius of quite ten miles,
judging from the ruins and pieces of broken pottery within that space.
An irrigating canal formerly ran from the Gila River to the city or
settlement, for domestic uses and for irrigation.
The Pima Indians have lived in their villages on the Gila River time
immemorial, at least they have no tradition of the time of their coming.
Their tribal organization has many features worthy imitation by more
civilized people. The government rests with a hereditary chief and a
council of sages. The rights of property are protected, as far as they
have any individual property, which is small, as they are in fact
communists. The water from the Gila River to irrigate their lands is
obtained by canals constructed by the common labor of the tribe.
In my intercourse with these Indians for many years they frequently
asked questions which would puzzle, the most profound philosopher to
answer. For instance, they inquired, "Who made the world and everything
I replied, "God."
"Where does he live?"
"In the sky."
"What does he sit on?"
In their domestic relations they have a system thousands of years older
than the Edmunds Act, which works to suit them, and fills the
requirements of satisfied nationalities. The old men said the marriage
system had given them more trouble than anything else, and they finally
abandoned all laws to the laws of nature. The young people were allowed
to mate by natural selection, and if they were not satisfied they could
In after years, when I was Superintendent of Indian Affairs, I selected
a stalwart Pima named Luis, who was proud of his acquirements in the
English language, and gave him a uniform, sword, and epaulettes about
the size of a saucer, to stand guard in front of my quarters.
One day I came out and found Luis walking with an ununiformed Pima, with
their arms around each other's waists, according to their custom. I
inquired, "Luis, who is that?"
"That is my brother-in-law."
"Did you marry his sister?"
"Did he marry your sister?"
"Then how is he your brother-in-law?"
"We swapped wives."
Among the Pimas there is no incentive to avarice, and the accumulation
of large personal fortunes. When a Pima dies, most of his personal
property, that is, house and household belongings, which he had used
during life, is committed to the flames as a sanitary measure, and
whatever he may have left of personal property is divided among the
The dead are buried in the ground in silence, and you can never get the
Pimas to pronounce the name of a dead man. The Pimas have many customs
resembling the Jews, especially the periodical seclusion of women.
The Apaches have robbed them time immemorial, and they in turn make
frequent campaigns against the Apaches. When they return from such a
campaign, if they have shed blood they paint their faces black, and
seclude themselves from the women. If they have not shed blood they
paint their faces white, and enter the joys of matrimony.
The Pima handiwork in earthenware, horsehair, bridle reins, ropes, and
domestic utensils, is remarkably ingenious. They formerly cultivated
cotton and manufactured cotton cloth of a very strong quality. The men
understood spinning and weaving, and passed the winter in this
Their subsistence is wheat, corn, melons, pumpkins, vegetables, and the
wild fruits. They have herds of cattle, plenty of horses, and great
quantities of poultry.
The Americans are indebted to the Pima Indians for provisions furnished
the California emigration, and for supplies for the early overland
stages, besides their faithful and unwavering friendship.
The habitations of these prehistoric people form the most unique of all
the anomalous dwellings of Arizona, and a more minute investigation than
has hitherto been made will show the earliest habitations of man. There
are similar edifices in Egypt and India, but they are mostly temples.
These Arizona cliff dwellings are the only edifices of the kind that are
known to have been inhabited by mankind. They exist mostly in the
mountains in the northern portion of Arizona. A more ancient race,
still, lived in the excavations on the sides of the mountains, prepared,
no doubt, as a refuge against enemies.
At the time of our first exploration (1854) there was virtually no
civilized population in the recently acquired territory. The old pueblo
of Tucson contained probably three hundred Mexicans, Indians, and half
breeds. The Pima Indians on the Gila River numbered from seven to ten
thousand, and were the only producing population. We could not explore
the country north of the Gila River, because of the Apaches, who then
numbered fully twenty thousand. For three hundred years they have killed
Spaniards, Mexicans, and Americans, which makes about the longest
continuous war on record.
It was impossible to remain with a considerable number of men in a
country destitute of sustenance; so we followed the Gila River down to
its junction with the Colorado, and camped on the bank opposite Fort
Yuma, glad to be again in sight of the American flag. The commanding
officer, Major--afterwards General--Heintzelman, issued the regulation
allowance of emigrant rations, which were very grateful to men who had
been living for some time without what are usually called the
necessaries of life. Fort Yuma was established in 1851, to suppress the
Indians on the Colorado, and to protect emigrants at the crossing.
It was apparent that the junction of the Gila and Colorado must be the
seaport of the new territory.
The Colorado was supposed to be navigable nearly seven hundred miles,
and steamboats were already at Yuma transporting supplies for the post.
By the treaty with Mexico of 1848 the boundary line was established from
the mouth of the Rio Grande northwardly to the headwaters of the Gila
River, thence along the channel of the Gila River to its confluence with
the Colorado. The treaty then says: "From a point at the confluence of
the Gila and Colorado rivers, westerly to a point on the Pacific Ocean
six miles south of the southernmost point of the Bay of San Diego."
As the geography of the country was not well understood at the time, it
was not presumably known to the makers of the treaty that the boundary
line would include both banks of the Colorado River in the American
boundary, but it does. By a curious turn in the Colorado River, after
passing through the gorge between Fort Yuma and the opposite bank, the
boundary line of the United States includes both banks of the River to
the crossing at Pilot Knob, nearly nine miles. When the State of
California was organized in 1850, the constitution adopted the boundary
line of the State, and consequently assumed jurisdiction over the slip
of land on the bank of the Colorado opposite Fort Yuma. When Fort Yuma
was established, the commanding officer established a military
reservation, including both banks of the Colorado River at its junction
with the Gila.
The boundary line between Mexico and the United States, under the treaty
of 1848, was run in 1850, and monuments erected on the southern bank of
the Colorado, to indicate the possession of the United States.
While we were encamped on the banks of the Colorado River, in the hot
month of July, 1854, we concluded to locate a town-site on the slip of
land opposite Fort Yuma, and as we were well provided with treaties,
maps, surveying instruments, and stationery, there was not much
difficulty in making the location. The actual survey showed 936 acres
within the slip, and this was quite large enough for a "town-site." A
town-site is generally the first evidence of American civilization.
After locating the town-site at Yuma there was nothing to do but to
cross the desert from the Colorado River to San Diego. We made the
journey on mules, with extraordinary discomfort. At San Diego we were as
much rejoiced as the followers of Xenophon to see the sea.
The town-site was duly registered in San Diego, which could not have
been done if both banks of the Colorado just below its junction with the
Gila had not been recognized as being within the jurisdiction of the
State of California. The county of San Diego collected taxes there for
many years. After the organization of the Territory of Arizona in 1863,
Arizona assumed jurisdiction over the slip, and built a prison there.
Congress subsequently made a grant of land included in the slip to the
"Village of Yuma," so that it is a mere question of jurisdiction, not
involving the validity of any titles. The question of jurisdiction still
remains unsettled, as it requires both an Act of Congress and Act of the
State Legislature to change the boundaries of a sovereign State.
The town-site of Yuma has grown slowly, but there will be a town there
as long as the two rivers flow. The Southern Pacific Railroad was
completed years ago, and forms the great artery of commerce. Immigration
enterprises of great magnitude have been undertaken with the waters of
the Colorado River. The river washes fully three hundred thousand square
miles, and furnishes a water power in the cataracts of the Grand Canon
only second to Niagara.
"At Yuma, on the Colorado River, the only attempt at irrigation so far
made is by pumping works, which raise the water from the river and
convey it in pipes to the lands to be watered. While thus far only a
limited area is watered by this method, the results are satisfactory,
and the expense no greater than in many of the pipe systems of
"But for the magnitude, scope, and the boldness of its purpose, the
project to irrigate the great Colorado Desert is without a parallel in
the arid West, if in the world.
"This undertaking contemplates the construction of gravity canals from a
point in the Colorado River, several miles above Yuma, and the
conducting of the waters of this river over an arid waste, that, while
forbidding in appearance, is known to be capable of great fertility. One
interesting feature of this plan to reclaim the desert is found in the
character of the water to be utilized. Analysis shows that the water of
the Colorado River carries a larger percentage of sedimentary deposit
than any other river in the world, not excepting the Nile. The same is
true, in a relative degree, of all the other rivers in Arizona. By
constant use of these waters the soil not only receives the reviving
benefits of irrigation, but at the same time a very considerable amount
of fertilizing material.
"The beneficial results thus made possible have already been practically
demonstrated, and what may be achieved by the proposed reclamation of a
vast area, with peculiar advantages of climate and environment, is one
of the most significant suggestions conceivable in connection with the
new era of irrigation.
"The storage of water by reservoirs for irrigation purposes has thus far
been one of the untried problems in Arizona. But the possibilities in
this section are equal to any section of the arid West, and because of
the stability and certainty of this method, it is only a question of
time when it will be carried into practical force."[B]
In the progress of civilization, Fort Yuma has given way to an Indian
school, where the dusky denizens of the Colorado are progressing in
After concluding our business in San Diego, we took the steamer for San
Francisco, and laid the result of the reconnaissance (which was not
much) before the "Syndicate." We had an audience with the commanding
officer of the Pacific, and procured a recommendation to the Secretary
of War for an exploration of the Colorado River. This was subsequently
accomplished with beneficial results,--at least for information. In San
Francisco it was decided that I should proceed to Washington, for the
purpose of soliciting assistance of the Federal Government in opening
the new Territory for settlement, and the voyage was made _via_ Panama.
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[Footnote A: It has been a mystery which I have been asked to explain a
thousand times, why the Gadsden Treaty was made with such a boundary
line. The true inwardness of the treaty is attempted to be explained.
The boundary line at Yuma, on the Colorado, at the junction of the Gila,
is now submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. See Attorney General
[Footnote B: Quoted from a recent article of mine in a local paper. Such
quotations will occur in this series without further credit.--C.D.P.]
Early Mining and Filibustering
In 1855, When I arrived in Washington as an amateur delegate from the
new Territory, the "Gadsden Purchase" did not attract much attention.
They had something else to do. President Pierce, the most affable of
Presidents, was very polite, and asked many questions about the new
acquisition. The Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, promised to order an
exploration of the Colorado River as soon as he could get an
appropriation, and to send troops to the new Territory as soon as they
could be spared.
During the winter General Heintzelman came to Washington, and as the
town was crowded, and he could not find suitable accommodations, I had
an extra bed put in my room at the National, and we messed together. It
was an advantage to have an officer of the Army who had been in command
at Yuma to give information about the country, and the association thus
formed lasted through life.
There was not much to be done in Washington, so I went over to New York,
the seat of "The Texas Pacific Railroad Company." This company had been
organized under a munificent land grant from the State of Texas. The
capital stock was a hundred million dollars. The scheme was to build a
railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean on the proceeds
of land grants and bonds, and make the hundred millions of dollars stock
as profit, less one tenth of one per cent to be paid in for expenses and
promotion money. The President of this company was Robert J. Walker,
Secretary of the Treasury under President Polk; Vice-President, Thomas
Butler King, of Georgia, late Collector of the Port in San Francisco, my
recent superior; Secretary, Samuel Jaudon, late Cashier of the United
States Bank. Mr. Walker, the President of the Company, received me at
dinner at his mansion on Fifth Avenue, and my acquaintance with Thomas
Butler King was renewed over sparkling vintages.
This company had parcelled the world out among its officers. Robert J.
Walker was to have the financial field of Europe. Samuel Jaudon, the
secretary, was to display his financial ability in New York and the
Atlantic cities. Edgar Conkling, of Cincinnati, was agent for the
Mississippi Valley. Thomas Butler King was allotted the State of Texas,
and I, being the junior, was to have the country between the Rio Grande
and the Colorado.
I told them all I knew about the Territory,--and a great deal more,--and
enlarged upon the advantages that would accrue to the railroad company
by an exploration of the new Territory and a development of its mineral
resources. They inquired how much it would cost to make the exploration.
I replied that I would start with a hundred thousand dollars if there
was a million behind it.
A company was organized with a capital of two million dollars, and
shares sold at an average of fifty dollars. General Heintzelman was
appointed president, and I was appointed "manager and commandant." The
office was located in Cincinnati, for the convenience of General
Heintzelman, who was stationed at Newport Barracks, Ky. William
Wrightson was appointed secretary.
As soon as the necessary arrangements were made I started west on this
arduous undertaking. The arms and equipments had been shipped to San
Antonio, Texas, and I proceeded there to complete the outfit.
San Antonio was the best outfitting place in the Southwest at that time.
Wagons, ambulances, mules, horses, and provisions were abundant, and men
could be found in Texas willing to go anywhere.
At San Antonio I met the famous George Wilkins Kendall, who advised me
to go to New Bramfels, where I could find some educated German miners,
and as he was going to Austin I accompanied him as far as New Bramfels,
and received the benefit of his introduction. There were plenty of
educated German miners about New Bramfels, working on farms and selling
lager beer, and they enlisted joyfully. The rest of the company was made
up of frontiersmen (buckskin boys), who were not afraid of the devil.
We pulled out of San Antonio, Texas, on the first day of May, 1856, and
took the road to El Paso, or Paso del Norte, on the Rio Grande, 762
miles by the itinerary. The plains of Texas were covered with verdure
and flowers, and the mocking birds made the night march a serenade.
I carried recommendations from the War Department to the military
officers of the frontiers for assistance, if necessary. The first
military post on the road was Fort Clark (El Moro), and a beautiful
location. The post was at that time under the command of the famous John
Bankhead Magruder, whom I had known in California.
Magruder had recently returned from Europe, bringing two French cooks;
and as he was a notorious bon vivant, it was not disagreeable to accept
an invitation to dinner.
After breakfast next morning I went to take my leave of the officers,
but Magruder said:--
"Sir, you cannot go. Consider yourself under arrest."
I replied, "General, I am not aware of having violated any of the
regulations of the Army."
"No, sir, but you are violating the rules of hospitality. You shall stay
here three days. Send your train on to the Pecos, and I will send an
escort with you to overtake it."
So I remained at Fort Clark three days in duress, and never had a
prisoner of war more hospitable entertainment. Texas overflows with
abundant provisions, if they only had French cooks.
After a toilsome and dangerous march through Lipans and Commanches we
arrived on the upper Rio Grande, at El Paso, in time to spend the Fourth
of July. El Paso at this time was enjoying an era of commercial
prosperity. The Mexican trade was good. Silver flowed in in a stream.
After recruiting at El Paso we moved up to the crossing of the Rio
Grande at Fort Thorn, and prepared to plunge into Apache land. Camping
the command on the green-fringed Mimbres I took five men, and with
Doctor Steck and his interpreter made a visit to the Apaches in their
stronghold at Santa Rita del Cobre.
There was an old triangular-shaped fort built by the Spaniards which
afforded shelter. There were about three hundred Apaches in
camp,--physically, fine looking fellows who seemed as happy as the day
was long. The agent distributed two wagon loads of corn, from which they
made "tiz-win," an intoxicating drink.
Their principal business, if they have any, is stealing stock in Mexico
and selling it on the Rio Grande. The mule trade was lively. They proved
themselves expert marksmen; but I noticed always cut the bullets out of
the trees, as they are economists in ammunition if nothing else.
Deer and turkeys were plentiful, and we feasted for several days in the
old triangular fort and under the trees. Doctor Steck told the Apaches
that I was "a mighty big man," and they must not steal any of my stock
nor kill any of my men.
The chiefs said they wanted to be friends with the Americans, and would
not molest us if we did not interfere with their "trade with Mexico."
On this basis we made a treaty and the Apaches kept it.
I had a lot of tin-types taken in New York, which I distributed freely
among the chiefs, so they might know me if we should meet again. Many
years afterwards an Apache girl told me they could have killed me often
from ambush, but they remembered the treaty and would not do it. I have
generally found the Indians willing to keep faith with the whites, if
the whites will keep faith with them.
After leaving the camp at the Mimbres, we crossed the Chiricahua
Mountains, and camped for noon on a little stream called the San Simon,
which empties into the Gila River. We had scarcely unlimbered when the
rear guard called out, "Apaches!" and about a hundred came thundering
down the western slope of the mountain, well mounted and well armed.
Their horsemanship was admirable, their horses in good condition, and
many of them caparisoned with silver-mounted saddles and bridles, the
spoil of Mexican foray.
A rope was quickly stretched across the road, the ammunition boxes got
out, and everything prepared for a fight. The chief was a fine-looking
man named Alessandro, and as a fight was the last thing we desired, a
parley was called when they reached the rope.
When asked what they wished, they said they wanted to come into camp and
trade; that they had captives, mules, mescal, and so on. We told them we
were not traders, and had nothing to sell. They were rather insolent at
this, and made some demonstrations against the rope. I told the
interpreter to say that I would shoot the first man that crossed the
rope, and they retired for consultations. Finally they thought better of
it, or did not like the looks of our rifles and pistols, and struck off
for their homes in the north.
I had a stalwart native of Bohemia in the company who was considered
very brave; but when the attack was imminent he was a little slow in
coming forward, and I cried out somewhat angrily, "Anton, why don't you
He replied, "Wait till I light my pipe." And that Dutchman stalked out
with a rifle in his hand, two pistols on his sides, and a great German
pipe in his mouth.
The Apaches did not trouble us any more, and after crossing high
mountains and wide valleys we arrived on the Santa Cruz River, and
camped at the old Mission Church of San Xavier del Bac.
Three leagues north of the Mission Church of San Xavier del Bac (Bac
means water) is located the ancient and honorable pueblo of Tucson. This
is the most ancient pueblo in Arizona, and is first mentioned in Spanish
history in the narrative of Castaneda, in 1540. The Spanish expedition
of Coronado in search of gold stopped here awhile, and washed some gold
from the sands of the Canon del Oro on sheep skins. It is well known
that that expedition drove sheep. The Spaniards, from this experience,
remembering the island of Colchis, named the place Tucson,--Jason in
Spanish. The "ancient and honorable pueblo" has borne this name ever
since, without profound knowledge of its origin.
The patron saint of Tucson is San Augustine, and as it was now the last
of August the fiesta in honor of her patron saint was being celebrated.
As we had a long march and a dry time, the animals were sent out to
graze in charge of the Papago Indians living around the Missions; two
weeks' furlough was given the men to attend the fiesta, confess their
sins, and get acquainted with the Mexican senoritas, who flocked there
in great numbers from the adjoining State of Sonora.
Music and revelry were continued day and night, with very few
interruptions by violence. The only disorder that I observed was caused
by a quarrel among some Americans, and the use of the infernal revolver.
There were not more than a dozen Americans in the pueblo of Tucson when
we arrived, and they were not Methodist preachers. The town has grown
with the country, and now contains a population of nearly ten thousand
people, of many shades of color and many nationalities.
The first question to be settled was the location of a headquarters for
the company. We had come a long way, at considerable risk and expense,
and fortunately without disaster. We were now encamped in view of the
scene of our future operations, and the exploration and settlement of a
territory of considerably over a hundred thousand square miles was
before us, and the destiny of a new State was in embryo. It would not be
prudent to expose the lives of the men and valuable property we had
hauled so far to the cupidity of the natives; and therefore a safe place
for storage and for defense was the first necessity in selecting a
headquarters. We had some hundred and fifty horses and mules, wagons,
ambulances, arms, provisions, merchandise, mining, material,--and
moreover, what we considered of inestimable value, the future,--in our
keeping, and a proper location was a grave consideration.
The Spaniards had located a presidio at the base of the Santa Rita
Mountains on the Santa Cruz River, a stream as large and as beautiful as
the Arno, flowing from the southeast, and watering opulent valleys which
had been formerly occupied and cultivated. The presidio was called
Tu-bac (the water). The Mexican troops had just evacuated the presidio
of Tubac, leaving the quarters in a fair state of preservation, minus
the doors and windows, which they hauled away.
The presidio of Tubac was about ten leagues south of the mission church
of San Xavier del Bac, on the Santa Cruz River, on the high road (camino
real) to Sonora and Mexico; consequently we struck camp at the Mission
San Xavier del Bac, and pulled out for the presidio of Tubac to
establish our headquarters and future home.
There was not a soul in the old presidio. It was like entering the ruins
of Pompeii. Nevertheless we set to work, cleaned out the quarters,
repaired the corrals, and prepared to make ourselves as comfortable as
The first necessity in a new settlement is lumber, and we dispatched
men to the adjacent mountains of Santa Rita to cut pine with whip-saws,
and soon had lumber for doors, windows, tables, chairs, bedsteads, and
the primitive furniture necessary for housekeeping. The quarters could
accommodate about three hundred men, and the corrals were ample for the
animals. The old quartel made a good storehouse, and the tower on the
north, of which three stories remained, was utilized as a lookout. The
beautiful Santa Cruz washed the eastern side of the presidio, and fuel
and grass were abundant in the valley and on the mountain sides. It was
not more than a hundred leagues to Guaymas, the seaport of the Gulf of
California, where European merchandise could be obtained. There were no
frontier custom houses at that time to vex and hinder commerce.
In the autumn of 1856 we had made the headquarters for the company at
Tubac comfortable, laid in a store of provisions for the winter, and
were ready to begin the exploration of the country for mines. When you
look at the Santa Rita Mountains from Tubac, it seems a formidable
undertaking to tunnel and honeycomb them for mines. Nevertheless, we
began to attack with stout hearts and strong arms, full of hope and
enthusiasm. The mines in the Santa Rita Mountains had been previously
worked by the Spaniards and Mexicans, as was evident by the ruins of
arrastres and smelters. Gold could be washed on the mountain sides, and
silver veins could be traced by the discolored grass.
As soon as it was known in Mexico that an American company had arrived
in Tubac, Mexicans from Sonora and the adjacent States came in great
numbers to work, and skillful miners could be employed at from fifteen
to twenty-five dollars a month and rations. Sonora furnished flour,
beef, beans, sugar, barley, corn, and vegetables, at moderate prices.
A few straggling Americans came along now and then on pretense of
seeking employment. When questioned on that delicate subject, they said
they would work for $10 a day and board; that they got that in
California, and would never work for less. After staying a few days at
the company's expense they would reluctantly move on, showing their
gratitude for hospitality by spreading the rumor that "the managers at
Tubac employed foreigners and greasers, and would not give a white man a
chance." They were generally worthless, dissipated, dangerous, low white
Many Mexicans that had been formerly soldiers at the presidio of Tubac
had little holdings of land in the valley, and returned to cultivate
their farms, in many cases accompanied by their families.
By Christmas, 1856, an informal census showed the presence of fully a
thousand souls (such as they were) in the valley of the Santa Cruz in
the vicinity of Tubac. We had no law but love, and no occupation but
labor. No government, no taxes, no public debt, no politics. It was a
community in a perfect state of nature. As "syndic" under New Mexico, I
opened a book of records, performed the marriage ceremony, baptized
children, and granted divorces.
Sonora has always been famous for the beauty and gracefulness of its
senoritas. The civil wars in Mexico, and the exodus of the male
population from Northern Mexico to California, had disturbed the
equilibrium of population, till in some pueblos the disproportion was as
great as a dozen females to one male; and in the genial climate of
Sonora this anomalous condition of society was unendurable. Consequently
the senoritas and grass widows sought the American camp on the Santa
Cruz River. When they could get transportation in wagons hauling
provisions they came in state,--others came on the hurricane deck of
burros, and many came on foot. All were provided for.
The Mexican senoritas really had a refining influence on the frontier
population. Many of them had been educated at convents, and all of them
were good Catholics. They called the American men "Los God-dammes," and
the American women "Las Camisas-Colorados." If there is anything that a
Mexican woman despises it is a red petticoat. They are exceedingly
dainty in their underclothing,--wear the finest linen they can afford;
and spend half their lives over the washing machine. The men of northern
Mexico are far inferior to the women in every respect.
This accretion of female population added very much to the charms of
frontier society. The Mexican women were not by any means useless
appendages in camp. They could keep house, cook some dainty dishes, wash
clothes, sew, dance, and sing,--moreover, they were expert at cards, and
divested many a miner of his week's wages over a game of monte.
As Alcalde of Tubac under the government of New Mexico, I was legally
authorized to celebrate the rites of matrimony, baptize children, grant
divorces, execute criminals, declare war, and perform all the functions
of the ancient El Cadi. The records of this primitive period are on file
in the Recorder's office of the Pueblo of Tucson, Pima County.
Tubac became a kind of Gretna Green for runaway couples from Sonora; as
the priest there charged them twenty-five dollars, and the Alcalde of
Tubac tied the knot gratis, and gave them a treat besides.
I had been marrying people and baptizing children at Tubac for a year or
two, and had a good many godchildren named Carlos or Carlotta according
to gender, and began to feel quite patriarchal, when Bishop Lame sent
down Father Mashboef, (Vicar Apostolic,) of New Mexico, to look after
the spiritual condition of the Arizona people.
It required all the sheets and tablecloths of the establishment to fix
up a confessional room, and we had to wait till noon for the blessing at
breakfast; but worse than all that, my commadres, who used to embrace me
with such affection, went away with their reybosas over their heads
without even a friendly salutation.
It was "muy triste" in Tubac, and I began to feel the effects of the ban
of the Church; when one day after breakfast Father Mashboef took me by
the arm, (a man always takes you by the arm when he has anything
unpleasant to say,) and said:--
"My young friend, I appreciate all you have been trying to do for these
people; but these marriages you have celebrated are not good in the eyes
I knew there would be a riot on the Santa Cruz if this ban could not be
lifted. The women were sulky, and the men commenced cursing and
swearing, and said they thought they were entitled to all the rights of
My strong defense was that I had not charged any of them anything, and
had given them a marriage certificate with a seal on it, made out of a
Mexican dollar; and had given a treat and fired off the anvil. Still,
although the Pope of Rome was beyond the jurisdiction of even the
Alcalde of Tubac, I could not see the way open for a restoration of
At last I arranged with Father Mashboef to give the sanction of the
Church to the marriages and legitimize the little Carloses and Carlottas
with holy water, and it cost the company about $700 to rectify the
matrimonial situation in Santa Cruz.
An idea that it was lonesome at Tubac would be incorrect. One can never
be lonesome who is useful, and its was considered at the time that the
opening of mines which yielded nothing before, the cultivation of land
which lay fallow, the employment of labor which was idle, and the
development of a new country were meritorious undertakings.
The table at Tubac was generously supplied with the best the market
afforded, besides venison, antelope, turkeys, bear, quail, wild ducks,
and other game, and we obtained through Guaymas a reasonable supply of
French wines for Sunday dinners and the celebration of feast days.
It is astonishing how rapidly the development of mines increases
commerce. We had scarcely commenced to make silver bars--"current with
the merchant"--when the plaza at Tubac presented a picturesque scene of
primitive commerce. Pack trains arrived from Mexico, loaded with all
kinds of provisions. The rule was to purchase everything they brought,
whether we wanted it or not. They were quite willing to take in exchange
silver bars or American merchandise. Sometimes they preferred American
merchandise. Whether they paid duties in Mexico was none of our
business. We were essentially free traders.
The winter was mild and charming, very little snow, and only frost
enough to purify the atmosphere. It would be difficult to find in any
country of the world, so near the sea, such prolific valleys fenced in
by mountains teeming with minerals. The natural elements of prosperity
seem concentrated in profusion seldom found. In our primitive simplicity
we reasoned that if we could take ores from the mountains and reduce
them to gold and silver with which to pay for labor and purchase the
productions of the valleys, a community could be established in the
country independent of foreign resources. The result will show the
success or failure of this Utopian scheme.
The usual routine at Tubac, in addition to the regular business of
distributing supplies to the mining camps, was chocolate or strong
coffee the first thing in the morning, breakfast at sunrise, dinner at
noon, and supper at sunset.
Sunday was the day of days at Tubac, as the superintendents came in from
the mining camps to spend the day and take dinner, returning in the
afternoon. One Sunday we had a fat wild turkey weighing about
twenty-five pounds, and one of my engineers asked permission to assist
in the _cocina_. It was done to a charm, and stuffed with pine nuts,
which gave it a fine flavor.
As we had plenty of horses and saddles, a gallop to the old Mission of
San Jose de Turnucacori, one league south on the Santa Cruz River,
afforded exercise and diversion for the ladies, especially of a Sunday
afternoon. The old mission was rapidly going to ruin, but the records
showed that it formerly supported a population of 3,500 people, from
cultivation of the rich lands in the valley, grazing cattle, and working
the silver mines. The Santa Cruz valley had been and could apparently
again be made an earthly paradise. Many fruit trees yet remained in the
gardens of the old mission church, and the "Campo Santo" walls were in
a perfect state of preservation.
The communal system of the Latin races was well adapted to this country
of oases and detached valleys. Caesar knew nearly as much about the
governing machine as the sachem of Tammany Hall, or a governor in
Mexico. At least, he enriched himself. In countries requiring irrigation
the communal system of distributing water has been found to produce the
greatest good for the greatest number. The plan of a government granting
water to corporations, to be sold as a monopoly, is an atrocity against
nature; and no deserving people will for long submit to it. The question
will soon come up whether the government has any more right to sell the
water than the air.
In the spring of 1857, a garden containing about two acres was prepared
at Tubac, and irrigated by a canal from the Santa Cruz River. By the
industry of a German gardener with two Mexican assistants, we soon
produced all vegetables, melons, etc., that we required, and many a
weary traveler remembers, or ought to remember, the hospitalities of
Tubac. We were never a week without some company, and sometimes had more
than we required; but nobody was ever charged anything for
entertainment, horse-shoeing, and fresh supplies for the road.
Hospitality is a savage virtue, and disappears with civilization.
As the ores in the Santa Rita Mountains did not make a satisfactory
yield, we turned our explorations to the west of the Santa Cruz River,
and soon struck a vein of petanque (silver copper glance) that yielded
from the grass roots seven thousand dollars a ton. This mine was named
in honor of the president of the company, "Heintzelman," which in German
mining lore is also the name of the genius who presides over mines.
The silver bullion over expenses, which were about fifty per cent, was
shipped, via Guaymas, to San Francisco, where it brought from 125 to 132
cents per ounce for the Asiatic market.
Silver bars form rather an inconvenient currency, and necessity required
some more convenient medium. We therefore adopted the Mexican system of
"boletas." Engravings were made in New York, and paper money printed on
pasteboard about two inches by three in small denominations, twelve and
one half cents, twenty-five cents, fifty cents, one dollar, five
dollars, ten dollars. Each boleta had a picture, by which the illiterate
could ascertain its denomination, viz: twelve and a half cents, a pig;
twenty-five cents, a calf; fifty cents, a rooster; one dollar, a horse;
five dollars, a bull; ten dollars, a lion. With these "boletas" the
hands were paid off every Saturday, and they were currency at the
stores, and among the merchants of the country and in Mexico. When a run
of silver was made, anyone holding tickets could have them redeemed in
silver bars, or in exchange on San Francisco. This primitive system of
greenbacks worked very well,--everybody holding boletas was interested
in the success of the mines; and the whole community was dependent on
the prosperity of the company. They were all redeemed. Mines form the
bank of Nature, and industry puts the money in circulation, to the
benefit of mankind.
In the autumn of 1857 a detachment from the regiment of First Dragoons
arrived in the Santa Cruz Valley, for the purpose of establishing a
military post, and for the protection of the infant settlements. The
officers were Colonel Blake, Major Stein, and Captain Ewell. The first
military post was established at Calaveras, and the arrival of the
officers made quite an addition to the society on the Santa Cruz.
Incident to the arrival of the military on the Santa Cruz was a
citizens' train of wagons laden with supplies,--twelve wagons of twelve
mules each,--belonging to Santiago Hubbell, of New Mexico. While he was
encamped at Tubac I inquired the price of freight, and learned it was
fifteen cents a pound from Kansas City. I inquired what he would charge
to take back a freight of ores, and he agreed to haul them from the
Heintzelman mine to Kansas City and a steamboat for twelve and a half
cents a pound, and I loaded his wagons with ores in rawhide bags,--a ton
to the wagon. This was the first shipment of ores, and a pretty "long
Upon the arrival of these ores in the States they were distributed to
different cities for examination and assay, and gave the country its
first reputation as a producer of minerals. The average yield in silver
was not enormous, as the ores contained a great deal of copper, but the
silver yield was about fifteen hundred dollars to the ton.
In December, 1856, I purchased for the company the estate of "La
Aribac," or Arivaca, as it is called by Americans. This place is a
beautiful valley encompassed by mountains, and containing only a few
leagues of land. It was settled by Augustine Ortiz, a Spaniard, in 1802,
and title obtained from the Spanish government. The ownership and
occupation descended to his two sons, Tomas and Ignacio Ortiz, who
obtained additional title from the Mexican Republic in 1833, and
maintained continuous occupation until 1856, when they sold to the
company for a valuable consideration.
The validity of the title has been denied by the United States,
notwithstanding the obligations of the treaty, and is now pending before
the United States Land Court, with the prospect of an appeal to the
United States Supreme Court, with a fair prospect of the ultimate loss
of the property. The company conveyed the property with all mines and
claims in Arizona to the writer, on the 2nd January, 1870,--a woful
In the early months of 1857, everything was going well in the Santa Cruz
valley. The mines were yielding silver bullion by the most primitive
methods of reduction. The farmers were planting with every prospect of a
good crop. Emigrants were coming into the country and taking up farms.
Merchants were busy in search of the Almighty Dollar or its
The only disturbing element in the vicinity was a little guerilla war,
going on in Sonora between two factions for the control of the State
government. Gaudara was the actual governor, and had been so for many
years, during which time he had accumulated a handsome fortune in lands,
mills, mines, merchandise, live stock, and fincas. He was a sedate and
dignified man, much respected by the natives, and especially polite and
hospitable to foreigners. Pesquiera was an educated savage, without
property or position, and naturally coveted his neighbor's goods.
Consequently a revolution was commenced to obtain control of the
governorship of the State; and just the same as when King David sought
refuge in the cave of Adullam, all who were in debt, all who were
refugees, all who were thieves, and all who were distressed, joined
Pesquiera to rob Guadara. This is all there was,--or ever is, to Mexican
On the discovery of gold in California, many Mexicans went from Sonora
to California and remained there. Among these was one Ainsa, of Manila
descent, married to a native of Sonora, who migrated to California with
a large family of girls and boys in 1850, and had a Bank and Mexican
Agency on the northwest corner of Clay and Montgomery streets, where
there was the usual sign,--
SE COMPRA ORO
The girls of the Ainsa family grew to womanhood, and carried the beauty
and graces of Sonora to a good market. They all married Americans, and
As Helen of Sparta caused the Trojan War, and many eminent women have
caused many eminent wars, there was no reason why the Ainsa women should
not take part in the little revolution going on in their native State
(Sonora). Their husbands could then become eminent men, annex the State
of Sonora to the United States, and become governors and senators. It
was a laudable ambition on the part of the Ainsa women, and their
husbands were eminently deserving,--in fact, their husbands were already
the foremost men in California in political position. One of them had
been a prominent candidate for the United States Senate, and the others
had occupied high position in Federal and State service, and were highly
respected among their fellow citizens. In this state of affairs the
eldest brother,--Augustine, was despatched to Sonora to see what
arrangements could be made with Pesquiera if the Americans would come
from California and help him oust Gaudara.
Pesquiera was in desperate straits, and agreed to whatever was
necessary; the substance of which was that the Americans should come
with five hundred men, well armed, and assist him in ousting Guadara and
establishing himself as governor of Sonora. After that the Americans
could name whatever they wanted in money or political offices, even to
the annexation of the State, which was at that time semi-independent of
Augustine, the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary,
returned to California with the agreement in writing; and the Americans
immediately began to drum up for recruits; but the prosperity of
California was so great that but a few could be persuaded to leave a
certainty for an uncertainty. The Americans in California actually
started for Sonora with less than fifty men, with vague promises of
recruits by sea. The records of the ferryman on the Colorado River show
that they crossed the river with only forty-two men and a boy.
With this meager force these infatuated and misguided men pushed one
hundred and thirty-two miles across a barren desert to the boundary line
of Mexico at the Sonoita (Clover Creek), where there is a little stream
of water struggling for existence in the sands. At the Sonoita the
invaders were met by a proclamation from Pesquiera, forwarded through
Redondo, the Prefect of Altar, warning them not to enter the State of
Sonora. When men have resolved on destruction, reason is useless, and
they paid no attention to the order, and crossed the boundary line of
Mexico with arms and in hostile array. When they reached the vicinity of
Altar they diverged from the main road to the west, and took the road to
The only possible reason for this movement is that they may have
expected reinforcements by sea, as Caborca is the nearest settlement to
a little port called Libertad, where small ships could land. Be this as
it may, no reinforcements ever came: and this little handful of
Americans soon found themselves hemmed in at the little town of Caborca
without hope or succor. They were the very first gentlemen of the
States, mostly of good families, good education, and good prospects in
California. What inhuman demon ever induced them to place themselves in
such position, God only knows. Many of them left their wives and
families in California, and all of them had warm friends there.
Pesquiera issued a bloodthirsty proclamation, in the usual grandiloquent
language of Spain, calling all patriotic Mexicans to arms, to
exterminate the invaders and to preserve their homes. The roads fairly
swarmed with Mexicans. Those who had no guns carried lances, those who
had no horses went on foot. Caborca was soon surrounded by Mexicans, and
the forty-two Americans and one little boy took refuge in the church on
the east side of the plaza.
This proved only a temporary refuge. An Indian shot a lighted arrow into
the church and set it on fire. The Americans stacked arms and
surrendered. My God! had they lost their senses? These forty-two
American gentlemen, who had left their wives, children, and friends in
California a month or two before under a contract with Pesquiera were
butchered like hogs in the streets of Caborca, and neither God nor man
raised hand to stop the inhuman slaughter.
They had not come within two hundred miles of my place, and nobody could
have turned them from their purpose if they had. Many of them were old
friends and acquaintances in California, and their massacre cast a gloom
over the country.
There was only one redeeming act that ever came to my knowledge, and I
know it to be true. When Pesquiera's order to massacre the invaders were
read, Gabilonda, second in command, swore he would have nothing to do
with it, and mounting his horse swung the little boy Evans behind him
and galloped away to Altar. Gabilonda carried him to Guaymas, from where
he was afterwards sent to California.
It has been stated that the corpses were left in the streets for the
hogs to eat, but the cure of Caborca assured me that he had a trench dug
and gave them Christian interment. I never saw nor conversed with any of
the leaders, but a detachment came up the Gila River to Tucson and
Tubac, enlisting recruits, but could only raise twenty-five or thirty
men. The invasion was generally discouraged by the settlers on the Santa
Cruz. When they passed by Sopori on their way to join the main body, I
remember very well the advice of old Colonel Douglas, a veteran in
Mexican revolutions. He said,--
"Boys, unless you can carry men enough to whip both sides, never cross
the Mexican line."
I was at Arivaca when the Santa Cruz contingent returned, badly
demoralized, wounded, naked, and starving. The place was converted into
a hospital for their relief, with such accommodations as could be
afforded. Pesquiera was well aware of the adage that "dead men tell no
tales." Crabb was beheaded, and his head carried in triumph to
Pesquiera, preserved in a keg of Mescal, with the savage barbarity of
the days of Herod. The contracts which would have compromised Pesquiera
with the Mexican government were destroyed by fire. So ended the Crabb
Expedition, one of the most ill-fated and melancholy of any in the
bloody annals of Mexico.
The result of this expedition, commonly called "Crabb's," was that the
Mexican government laid an embargo upon all trade with this side of the
line, and business of all kinds was paralyzed.
Under these circumstances I crossed the desert on mule-back to Los
Angeles, with only one companion, and went to San Francisco to take a
War-Time in Arizona
The invasion of Sonora in the summer of 1857 by filibusters from
California, generally called the "Crabb Expedition," caused the pall of
death to fall on the boundary line of Mexico. Forty-two Americans had
been massacred at Caborca, and many Mexicans had been killed. The
abrasion was so serious that Americans were not safe over the Mexican
boundary, and Mexicans were in danger in the boundaries of the United
Gabilonda, who was the only Mexican officer who protested against the
massacre, came very near being mobbed by Americans in Tucson, although
he was perfectly innocent of any crime,--on the contrary, deserved
credit for his humanity in rescuing the boy Evans. Gabilonda was
subsequently tried by a Mexican court martial organized by Pesquiera,
the Governor of Sonora, and acquitted. He lived to a green old age as
Collector of Mexican customs on the boundary line, and died honored and
When I returned from San Francisco to the mines, in the winter of 1857,
the country was paralyzed; but by the talisman of silver bars the mines
were put in operation again, and miners induced to come in from Mexico.
Christmas week the usual festival was given at Arivaca, and all the
neighbors within a hundred miles invited.
In 1858 the business of the Territory resumed its former prosperity, and
the sad events of the "Crabb Expedition" were smoothed over as far as
possible. The government had subsidized an overland mail service at
nearly a million a year, called the Butterfield line, with daily mails
from St. Louis to San Francisco, running through Arizona. The mail
service of the West has done a great deal to build up the country; and
population came flocking into the Territory with high hopes of its
General Heintzelman obtained a furlough, and came out to superintend the
mines. Colonel Samuel Colt, of revolver fame, succeeded him as president
of the company, as he had contributed about two hundred and fifty
thousand dollars in money and arms to its resources, with the intention
of enlisting as much capital as might be required from New England.
Machinery was constructed on the Atlantic seaboard, and hauled overland
from the Gulf of Mexico to the mines,--1350 miles.
The Apaches had not up to this time given any trouble; but on the
contrary, passed within sight of our herds, going hundreds of miles into
Mexico on their forays rather than break their treaty with the
Americans. They could have easily carried off our stock by killing the
few vaqueros kept with them on the range, but refrained from doing so
from motives well understood on the frontiers. There is an unwritten law
among ranchmen as old as the treaty between Abraham and Lot.
In 1857 a company of lumbermen from Maine, under a captain named Tarbox,
established a camp in the Santa Rita Mountains to whipsaw lumber at one
hundred and fifty dollars per thousand feet, and were doing well, as the
company bought all they could saw. 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. This wayside inn formed a very convenient stopping
place for travelers on the road. One day twenty-five or thirty Mexicans
rode into Tubac, and said the Apaches had made a raid on their ranches,
and were carrying off some hundred head of horses and mules over the
Babaquivera plain, intending to cross the Santa Cruz River between the
Canoa and Tucson. The Mexicans wanted us to join them in a cortada (cut
off), and rescue the animals, offering to divide them with us for our
assistance; but remembering our treaty with the Apaches, and how
faithfully they had kept it, we declined. They went on to the Canoa,
where the lumbermen were in camp, and made the same proposition, which
they accepted, as they were new in the country and needed horses and
mules. The lumbermen joined the Mexicans, and as they could easily
discern the course of the Apaches by the clouds of dust, 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.
The Mexicans made a fair division, and the mule trade was lively with
the lumbermen and the merchants in Tucson. With the proceeds of their
adventure the lumbermen added many comforts and luxuries to their camp
at the Canoa on the Santa Cruz, and travelers reveled in crystal and
About the next full moon after this event, we had been passing the usual
quiet Sunday in Tubac, when a Mexican vaquero came galloping furiously
into the plaza, crying out: "Apaches! Apaches! Apaches!" As soon as he
had recovered sufficiently to talk, we learned that the Apaches had made
an attack on Canoa, and killed all the settlers.
It was late in the day; the men had nearly all gone to the mines, and we
could only muster about a dozen men and horses; so we did not start
until early next morning, as the Mexican said there were "Muchos
When we reached the Canoa, a little after sunrise, the place looked as
if it had been struck by a hurricane. The doors and windows were
smashed, and the house a smoking ruin. The former inmates were lying
around dead, and three of them had been thrown into the well, head
foremost. We buried seven men in a row, in front of the burnt houses.
As well as could be ascertained by the tracks, there must have been
fully eighty Apaches on horseback. They carried off on this raid 280
head of animals from the Canoa and the adjoining ranches.
There were some companies of the First Dragoons eating beef at Fort
Buchanan. The commanding officer was notified, and sent some troops in
pursuit, but the Apaches were in their strongholds long before the
dragoons saddled their horses.
The pursuit of Apaches is exceedingly dangerous, as they are very
skillful in forming ambuscades, and never give a fair fight in an open
field. Their horsemanship is far superior to American troops, who are
for the most part foreigners, and exceedingly awkward.
The second serious trouble with the Apaches was brought about by a far
more foolish cause than the first, and it was much more disastrous.
In the winter of 1857 a somber colored son of Erin came along on foot to
the presidio of Tubac, and solicited the rights of hospitality, food and
a fire. Whether he had been run out of California by the Vigilance
Committee, as many of our "guests" had been, or was escaping legitimate
justice, was not in question; the imperative cravings of the stomach
admit of very scant ceremony; so I took John Ward in to dinner, and
provided him with all the comforts of home.
At bed-time he asked me if he might sleep in the front room by the
fire; to which I reluctantly consented, taking good care to lock and bar
the door between us.
The next morning after breakfast I gave John Ward some grub, and advised
him to push on to Fort Buchanan, on the Sonoita, where he could probably
get some employment.
He went on to the Sonoita and took up a ranch, forming a temporary
partnership with a Mexican woman, according to the customs of the
country at that time.
She had a little boy who also appeared to be partly of Celtic descent,
as he had a red head, and was nicknamed "Micky Free." This probably
formed the only matrimonial tie between John Ward and the Mexican woman.
In the course of time John Ward got a hay contract, a wagon, and a few
yoke of oxen, and appeared to be thriving at Uncle Sam's expense. Fort
Buchanan was garrisoned by a portion of the First Regiment of dragoons.
The most of the men were Germans, and could not mount a horse without a
In the early part of 1858 John Ward got drunk, and beat his step-son
Micky Free until he ran away to Sonora. Ward became so blind drunk that
he could not find his oxen; so he went to the Fort and complained to
Major Stein, the commanding officer, that the Apaches had stolen his
oxen and carried off the woman's boy.
Major Stein was a very good man, and very capable of running a saw-mill
in Missouri, where he came from. He listened to John Ward's tale of woe,
and ordered out a detachment of the First Dragoons, under Lieutenant
Bascomb, to pursue the Apaches and recover Micky Free and the oxen.
Bascomb was a fine-looking young fellow, a Kentuckian, a West Pointer,
and of course a gentleman; but he was unfortunately a fool; although his
uncle, Preacher Bascomb, of Lexington, was accounted a very eminent
clergyman of the Presbyterian Church. This is a very different family
from Bascomb of the Confederate X roads.
Lieutenant Bascomb's command pursued some Apaches, who had been raiding
in Sonora, into the Whetstone Mountains, where they called a parley. The
Apaches were summoned to camp _under a white flag_; and feeling
perfectly innocent of having committed a crime against the Americans,
fearlessly presented themselves before Lieutenant Bascomb and his boys
in blue. They positively denied having seen the boy or stolen the oxen;
and they told the truth, as was well known afterward; but the Lieutenant
was not satisfied, and ordered them seized and executed.
Four Apache chiefs were seized and tied. Cochise (in the Apache dialect
Wood) managed to get hold of a knife, which he had concealed, cut his
bonds, and escape. He was a very brave leader, and after having wreaked
a terrible vengeance for the treachery of American troops to the
Apaches, died in peace at the Indian Agency in the Chiricahua Mountains,
The war thus inaugurated by this Apache chieftain lasted fourteen years,
and has scarcely any parallel in the horrors of Indian warfare. 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. I am on very friendly terms with him and all his family, and
would not write a word in derogation of his character, or of his
step-father, John Ward, but to vindicate history.
The Vigilance Committee of San Francisco sent a considerable number of
unsavory immigrants to Arizona, who with the refugees from Mexico, Texas
and Arkansas, rendered mule property rather insecure in the early days.
Gambling has been an industrial pursuit since the first settlement of
the country, and the saloon business flourishes with the prosperity of
the times. Strange to say, amidst this heterogeneous population there
has never been a vigilance committee.
The Company and the country (synonymous terms) continued to improve,
with occasional interruptions by the Apaches, until the beginning of
1861, when the reverberations of the gun fired at Sumter were heard in
the Arizona mountains. A newspaper had been started by the company at
Tubac, called _The Arizonian_. Our mail came overland by Butterfield
coaches, at the rate of a hundred miles a day, but at last we waited for
"the mail that never came." In the spring of 1861 a coach was started
out from the Rio Grande with thirteen of the bravest buckskin boys of
the West, and ten or twelve thousand dollars in gold, to pay off the
line and withdraw the service; but the Apaches waylaid the coach in
Stein's Pass, killed all of the men, and captured the gold.
In the month of June the machinery was running smoothly at Arivaca, the
mines were yielding handsomely, and two hundred and fifty employees were
working for good wages, which were paid punctually every Saturday
One day an orderly from Fort Buchanan rode up to headquarters and
handed me a note from Lieutenant Chapin, enclosing a copy of an order
from the commanding officer of the Military Department:--
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 army.
March out with your guns loaded, and do not
permit any citizen within fifteen miles of your lines.
(Signed) Major General Lynde
A council of the principal employees was called, and the order laid
before them. The wisest said we could not hold the country after the
troops abandoned it,--that the Apaches would come down upon us by the
hundred, and the Mexicans would cut our throats. It was concluded to
reduce the ore we had mined, which was yielding about a thousand dollars
a day, pay off the hands, and prepare for the worst.
About a week afterwards the Apaches came down by stealth, and carried
off out of the corral one hundred and forty-six horses and mules.
The Apaches are very adroit in stealing stock, and no doubt inherit the
skill of many generations in theft. The corrals are generally built of
adobe, with a gate or bars at the entrance. It was a customary practice
for the Apaches to saw an entrance through an adobe wall with their
horsehair ropes (cabrestas).
The corral at Arivaca was constructed of adobes, with a layer of cactus
poles (ocquitillo) lengthwise between each layer of adobes. The Apaches
tried their rope saw, 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 scrapes around the chain, to
prevent the noise alarming the watchman. The steam engine was running
day and night, and the watchman 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 Mining
Hacienda, and the eastern side of the Santa Cruz River had to be
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 on
but the ground.
The women and children were escorted to the old pueblo of Tucson, where
the few people remaining in the Territory were concentrated; and they
remained there in a miserable condition until the troops arrived from
California under General James A. Carlton, United States Army, commonly
called "Carlton's Column."
General Carlton, upon arriving in the Territory, issued an order
declaring martial law between the Colorado and the Rio Grande. These
troops garrisoned the country between the rivers, and drove out the
rebel troops, who had come in from Texas under the Confederate
After the abandonment of the Territory by the United States troops armed
Mexicans in considerable numbers crossed the boundary line, declaring
that the American government was broken up, and they had come to take
their country back again. Even the few Americans left in the country
were not at peace among themselves,--the chances were that if you met in
the road it was to draw arms, and declare whether you were for the North
or the South.
The Mexicans at the mines assassinated all the white men there when they
were asleep, looted the place, and fled across the boundary to Mexico.
The smoke of burning wheat-fields could be seen up and down the Santa
Cruz valley, where the troops were in retreat, destroying everything
before and behind them. The government of the United States abandoned
the first settlers of Arizona to the merciless Apaches. It was
impossible to remain in the country and continue the business without
animals for transportation, so there was nothing to be done but to pack
our portable property on the few animals we kept in stables, and strike
out across the deserts for California.
With only one companion, Professor Pumpelly, and a faithful negro and
some friendly Indians for packers, we made the journey to Yuma by the
fourth of July, where we first heard of the battle of Bull Run. Another
journey took us across the Colorado Desert to Los Angeles, and thence we
went by steamer to San Francisco, and thence via Panama to New York.
It was sad to leave the country that had cost so much money and blood in
ruins, but it seemed to be inevitable. The plant of the Company at this
time in machinery, materials, tools, provisions, animals, wagons, etc.,
amounted to considerably over a million dollars, but the greatest blow
was the destruction of our hopes,--not so much of making money as of
making a country. Of all the lonesome sounds that I remember (and it
seems ludicrous now), most distinct is the crowing of cocks on the
deserted ranches. The very chickens seemed to know that they were
We were followed all the way to Yuma by a band of Mexican robbers, as it
was supposed we carried a great amount of treasure, and the fatigue of
the journey by day and standing guard all night was trying on the
strongest constitution in the hot summer month of June.
An account of the breaking up of Arizona and our journey across the
deserts to California has been given by Professor Pumpelly, in his book,
"Across America and Asia." The subject is so repugnant that the
harrowing scenes preceding the abandonment of the country are only
The Civil War was in full blast upon my arrival in New York, and the
change of venue from Apache Land was not peaceful. The little balance to
my credit from the silver mines was with William T. Coleman & Co., 88
Wall Street, and I put it up as margin on gold at $132 and sold for
After resting a while in New York I went down to Washington, and found
my old friend General Heintzelman in command of what was technically
called "The Defenses of Washington." The capital of the nation was
The Civil War and its results set Arizona back about twenty years.
The location of the Iturbide Grant had been continued in Sonora and
Lower California, under direction of Captain--afterwards General--Stone,
an officer for the United States Army, of engineering ability. I had
first become acquainted with him when he was quartermaster at Benicia
Barracks, in California, and met him the last time when he was chief of
staff to the Khedive of Egypt at Grand Cairo, on the Nile.
Pesquiera, the governor of Sonora, held the state in quasi-independence
of Mexico, and drove the surveying party under Stone out of Mexico by
force of arms.
The funds for the location and survey of the Iturbide Grant had been
furnished by French bankers in San Francisco, and obtained by them
through their correspondent in Paris. A large portion of the money had
been contributed by the entourage of the Second Empire under Napoleon,
as the French were desirous of getting a foothold in Mexico. The
expulsion of Stone's locating and surveying party was considered an
affront to France, as the survey and location were undertaken under a
valid grant of land made by the Mexican government, and the French were
not satisfied to lose the many millions of francs they had invested in
the enterprise. The influence of the shareholders in the Iturbide land
location finally caused the intervention of the French government.
It will be remembered that the first intervention was a joint occupation
of Vera Cruz by French, English and Spanish; but the English and Spanish
soon withdrew, and left the French to pull their own chestnut out of
The time was not ripe for the French intervention in Mexico until we
were in the midst of the Civil War, when Napoleon seized the opportunity
to set up Maximilian of Austria, as Emperor of Mexico, protected by
French forces under Bazaine.
No doubt but Napoleon and the officials of the Second Empire sympathized
with the government of the Confederate States, and would have given them
substantial aid if they had dared; but the Russian Czar sent a fleet to
New York as a warning,--and the French had had enough of Russians on
It was expressly stipulated in France, upon the founding of the
Maximilian Empire, that the obligations given for funds to carry on the
survey and location of the Iturbide Grant should be inscribed and
recognized as a public debt of the Empire, and such will be found a
matter of record and history. Many Frenchmen, no doubt, keep them as
companion souvenirs to the obligations of the Panama Canal. The Grant
has never been located, and the Mexican government yet owes the heirs,
in equity, the original million dollars.
The French, under Maximilian, occupied Mexico up to the American
boundary line, and many Mexicans took refuge in the United
States,--among them Pesquiera, the governor of Sonora. His camp was at
the old Mission of Tumucacori, in the Santa Cruz Valley and his wife is
President Juarez, of Mexico, was a refugee at El Paso del Norte during
the reign of Maximilian, in destitute circumstances, when I was enabled
to furnish him with a hundred thousand dollars in gold on a concession
of Lower California. The circumstances were recently related for the
Examiner of San Francisco, by Senor Romero, the Mexican minister in
During the brief existence of the Maximilian Empire in Mexico, many
Americans flocked to the capital for adventures, as sympathizers with
the government of the Confederate States, and consequently with the
occupation of Mexico.
The late Senator Gwin of California was the acknowledged leader of the
Americans, and it was rumored that he was to be created Duke of Sonora,
but I never believed that the sterling old Democrat would have accepted
a title of nobility.
The battle of Gettysburg sealed the fate of the Maximilian Empire, as
well as the fate of the empire of the United States. The Mexican Empire
and the French Empire have both passed away like dreams, but the Empire
of the People grows stronger every year.
Arizona a Territory at Last
When the Civil War was nearly over, General Heintzelman accompanied me
on a call at the executive mansion, to solicit the organization of a
territorial government for Arizona.
President Lincoln listened to my tale of woe like a martyr, and finally
said, "Well, you must see Ben Wade about that."
I subsequently called upon Senator Wade of Ohio, the chairman of the
Committee on Territories, and repeated my story of Arizona.
The bluff old Senator said, "O, yes, I have heard of that country,--it
is just like hell--all it lacks is water and good society."
He finally consented to attend a meeting at the President's, to discuss
Ashley of Ohio was chairman of the Committee on Territories in the
House, and readily agreed to favor the organization of a territorial
government. In a few days President Lincoln appointed an evening, to
hear the Delegation in favor of Arizona from 8 to 12. The chairmen of
the committees on Territories attended, and General Heintzelman and some
other friends were present. I presented the maps, historical data, some
specimens of minerals and Indian relics, and after a long conference and
some interesting stories by the President, the organization of a
territorial government for Arizona was agreed upon.
The country was at that time under martial law,--General Carlton. If any
system of government is repellent to Americans it is martial law.
Whatever may be the expense of juries, lawyers, witnesses, and courts,
they form the only means civilized society has yet devised for the
settlement of disputes. It is true that a territorial form of government
was never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, as no
provision was made for such a form of government; but this omission is
covered by the general welfare clause, which gives Congress the power to
"provide for the general welfare."
The formula adopted in an Act of Congress organizing a Territory, is "An
Act to provide a provisional government, etc., etc., etc." In course of
time, no doubt, all the Territories will be admitted as States, as the
territorial form of government is not provided for as a permanency by
the Constitution, and is moreover anomalous in the American system. The
people residing in the Territories are to a considerable extent
disfranchised politically, and are not, in fact, full-fledged American
citizens. The idea of taxation without representation is irritating to
their sense of justice, and for many other cogent reasons Congress will
be forced by public opinion to admit the Territories to all the rights
of sovereign States.
The delegate from New Mexico and myself sat at a table, and drew up a
bill dividing New Mexico into nearly equal parts by the hundred and
eleventh degree of longitude west; and providing for the organization of
"The Territory of Arizona" from the western half. The bill soon became
an Act of Congress, and was approved by President Lincoln on the
twenty-third of February, 1863.
The offices were divided out among the supporters of the measure at an
oyster supper, and as I was apparently to get nothing but the shells, I
fortified myself with a drink, and exclaimed, "Well, gentlemen, what is
to become of me?"
They seemed not to have thought about that, and the Governor-elect said:
"O, we will give you charge of the Indians, you are acquainted with
So I was appointed "Superintendent of Indian Affairs." The salary of the
office was two thousand dollars a year, payable in greenbacks worth
about thirty-three cents on the dollar in the currency of Arizona.
Arrangements were made for the transportation of my new colleagues
across the plains at government expense; but I took Ben Holladay's coach
at Kansas City, and crossed the continent to Sacramento, and thence by
river steamer to San Francisco. The Indian goods had been shipped to
In San Francisco I met my old friend, J. Ross Browne, who had just
returned from Europe, and invited him to accompany me through Arizona at
my expense. He afterwards wrote an account of the journey, "Wanderings
in the Apache Country," published by Harpers.
Archbishop Alemany, whom I had known as a parish priest in Kentucky,
called upon me in San Francisco, and asked if I would take a couple of
priests down to Arizona, to restore the service among the Indians at
the old Mission of San Xavier del Bac on the Santa Cruz, to which I
assented with great pleasure.
After a voyage by sea from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I presented my
orders from the Secretary of War to the commanding officer at Drumm
Barracks for an escort of cavalry and transportation to Arizona; and
prepared for the journey across the Colorado Desert.
We arrived at Yuma just before Christmas, and during Christmas week
regaled the Yumas, Cocopas, and neighboring tribes of Indians with their
first presents from Uncle Sam. After distributing the Indian goods at
Yuma, we proceeded upon the Gila River some two hundred miles to the
Pima village, where my old friends, the Pima Indians, gave a warm
welcome, not entirely on account of the Indian goods.
At the Pima villages one Sunday, I requested the priests to celebrate
the mass, and tell the Indians something about God,--remembering my own
failure in teaching theology. The troops were drawn up, the Indians
assembled, and Father Bosco through my interpreter preached the first
sermon the Pima Indians ever heard.
At dinner, the good Father took me by the ear, and said, "What for you
make me preach to these savages?--they squat on the ground, and laugh
at me like monkeys."
The next place for the distribution of Indian goods was at the Mission
of San Xavier del Bac, three leagues south of Tucson, among the Papagos,
a christianized branch of the great Pima tribe. The Papago chiefs were
my old friends and acquaintances, and received the priests with
fireworks and illuminations. They knew of our coming, and had swept the
church and grounds clean, and ornamented the altar with mistletoe.
The Indians had been expecting the priests for many years,----
For the Jesuits told them long ago
As sure as the water continued to flow,
The sun to shine, and the grass to grow,
They would come again to the Papago.
I installed the priests in the old Mission buildings, and turned over
the goods intended for the Papagos for distribution at their
I met an old friend at the Mission called "Buckskin Alick," who had
lived there all through the war without reading a newspaper or changing
his clothes. As nails were scarce, Buckskin Alick had constructed a mill
held together by rawhides, and was grinding wheat for the Papagos. In
the meantime he had taken up with a Papago girl, to the scandal of the
tribe. The priests told him he must marry the girl or leave. He
appealed to me for protection, but I told him I had resigned my
sacerdotal functions to the priest. He married the girl, and kept the
In 1863 a considerable number of prospectors had come into Arizona,
mostly from the California side, on account of discoveries of gold on
the Hassayamp. Old Pauline Weaver was the discoverer, as he had been a
trapper and pioneer since 1836. His name is carved on the walls of the
Casa Grande with that date.
The gold washers there were doing very well, and ranches began to be
established on the river. But the Apaches were not inclined to leave the
settlers in peace when they had some fine horses and mules, and some fat
cattle. So the Tonto Apaches made a raid on the Hassayamp, and carried
off nearly all the stock.
King Woolsey had come into the country then, and was a prominent man
among the settlers, and undoubtedly a very brave one; so he raised a
company to go after the Tontos. (As every one knows, "tonto" means
There were not more than twenty-five men, including some friendly
Maricopas. They were well armed, but their commisariat consisted
principally of panole and jerkey.
They followed the Indians across the Verde to a place about half way
between Globe and the Silver King, where they came to a parley. The
tanks there are surrounded by rough ledges of basalt rocks, and the
country in the vicinity is covered by scoriae, as though a volcano had
vomited the refuse of the subterranean world to disfigure nature.
The Indians came in slowly for a talk, but were insolent and defiant.
Delshay, the Tonto chief, demanded a blanket and some coffee and whisky.
The Americans had neither coffee nor whisky for their own use, and he
was quite put out about it, but partook of panole and jerked beef.
The parley was very unsatisfactory, as the Indians were surly, and made
demands which it was impossible to grant. There were about twenty-five
Indians at the council, and fifty or more on the surrounding ledges. As
the Indians became more hostile the situation became more serious, and
it was evident to the Americans that they were surrounded, and in
imminent danger of massacre.
Woolsey was not only a brave but a very intelligent man, and he saw at
once that either the Americans or the Indians were to be slaughtered, so
he said: "Boys, we have got to die or get out of this. Each of you pick
out your Indian, and I will shoot the chief for a signal."
The fusillade commenced, and all the Indians that could run stampeded.
The only American killed was Lennon, a half brother of Ammi White, my
Indian agent at the Pima villages.
Lennon had picked out his Indian and sent a bullet to his heart; but the
Indian in the agonies of death made a lunge at Lennon with his spear and
transfixed him. They both fell at the Bloody Tanks in the embrace of
The Americans rescued Lennon's body, and having strapped it over a pack
mule, carried it away to the next camp, where it was buried with
Christian services at the foot of an aspen tree.
The Americans brought away twenty-four scalps.
After the Bloody Tanks affair some of the men engaged in it came into
the Pima villages, where I was in camp. J. Ross Browne, who was with me,
took down the account in short hand, and I made a list of the Americans
engaged in the expedition. I remember, when Browne got through with his
stenography, he asked one of the men if he had any Indian relics. The
man replied, "Yes, I have got some jerked years," and he presented
Browne about a dozen "jerked years" strung on buckskin.
I concluded to make a scout up country and see what was going on among
the Indians, and as there were no troops at my command I organized a
company of Pimas and Maricopas as scouts. They had recently received
arms and ammunition from the government, and I had uniforms and swords
enough for the officers. They soon learned to drill, and already knew
how to shoot.
The commissariat was not quite up to military regulations, but we set
out all the same, following along the Hassayamp to Antelope Peak, when
we turned east by Walnut Creek to the Verde over an infernal trail.
The way down the Verde was not much better, as the Black Canon has never
been considered strewn with roses; but we hunted and fished to the
junction of the Verde and Salt River without seeing any Apaches.
The only "sign" we saw was cut on a tree,--twenty-four Americans and
twenty-four arrows pointed at them, which the Pimas interpreted to me as
the number of Americans the Apaches threatened to kill in retaliation.
There was not a soul on the Verde, and not a white man nor a house on
the Salt River, from the junction of the Verde to its confluence with
the Gila. We camped at the "Hole-in-the-Rock," and next morning crossed
Salt River at the peak about Tempe, and crossed over to the Pima
villages, glad enough to get to that haven of rest. It was 100 miles to
Tucson, and 280 miles to Yuma, and not a soul nor any provisions
between the two places.
There was no great inducement to stay in the Territory at that time,
except for people who had an insane ambition for orchestral fame on the
golden harps of New Jerusalem. Many of the people had read about the
government of the United States, in school books; and perhaps had
enjoyed the felicity of hearing a Fourth of July oration in youth; but
these were myths of antiquity in Arizona. There was no government of any
consequence, and even what there was was conducted on the Democratic
principle, not for protection but for revenue only.
I anticipated the fourteenth amendment, and distributed the Indian goods
without regard to race, color or former condition of servitude. Anybody
that came along in need of blankets or tobacco was freely supplied. I
wound up the Indian service with loss of about $5,000 out of my own
At camp on the Hassayamp, Henry Wickenburg came in with some specimens
of gold quartz he had found out to the west, at a place subsequently
called Vulture, and wanted me to buy the find. I said, "Henry, I don't
want to buy your mine, but I will give you twenty-five dollars' worth
of grub and a meerschaum pipe if you will go away and leave me alone."
I was also importuned to purchase Miguel Peralta's title from the King
of Spain for the Salt River Valley; but my experience with Spanish
grants in Texas, California and Arizona, did not incline me to invest,
even if the grant had been made by the Pope of Rome, and guaranteed by
the Continental Congress.
The only members of the Woolsey Expedition remaining in Arizona that I
know of are Peeples of Phoenix, Chase of Antelope, and Blair at
The government of the United States can never recompense the people of
Arizona for the atrocities committed by the Apaches. It will never do to
make the plea that a government so vain-glorious and boastful could not
have conquered this tribe of savages, if the will to do so had existed.
Now, after forty years of devastation, the government pays the Apaches
one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year in goods to maintain a
quasi peace. The settlers are not at any time secure against an Apache
outbreak, and there are at the present time some Apaches on the
war-path, which the government acknowledges its impotency to capture. "A
Century of Dishonor" was a well written book, and contains many
In the meantime, while I was delivering the Indian goods, my colleagues
in the territorial government had crossed the plains, and established
the capital at a remote place in the northern mountains, which they
called "Prescott," in honor of the Mexican historian. Just as was
supposed, they quarreled all the way across the plains about who should
be the first delegate to Congress from a Territory they had never seen.
Upon my arrival at Prescott they were perfectly disgusted to learn that
I had already been declared a candidate, and was likely to get the votes
of the people. The political machine had not then been organized, and
the people had some say in the elections.
The election was held in due time, and I was elected the first delegate
to Congress from Arizona.
The "carpet baggers" worked the Territory for all it was worth, as is
evidenced by the public debt, which is three times as great as any State
or Territory in the Union, _per capita_. The Capital was moved from town
to town, as a political factor in the election of delegates, but now
rests at Phoenix, in the Salt River Valley, where it will permanently
remain, as no other place in the Territory can ever rival Phoenix in the
abundance of all that contributes to the comfort and happiness of life.
The soil is fertile, the climate healthful, and with water storage in
reservoirs a city will grow equal to any on the Nile.
At this time there was not an inhabitant on Salt River where Phoenix now
stands, and the Salt River Valley was a desolate and abandoned waste. It
had been occupied some thousands of years ago by a race who cultivated
the land by irrigation, and built houses and cities which have gone to
ruin. The most diligent search has developed but few evidences of the
extent of their civilization. They had not advanced very far, as they
left no relics of either iron, copper, or steel. The land in cultivation
would have supported a population of from fifty to a hundred thousand
It is an excusable ambition for a man, especially in the Western
country, to desire the honor of representing his State or Territory in
It was necessary to cross the deserts to San Francisco, and thence via
Panama to New York and Washington.
I had scarcely taken my seat, when a distinguished-looking gentleman
(Roscoe Conkling) came up and introduced himself, saying in a very
"I observe you have drawn a front seat,--and as I presume you do not
wish to debate, I shall feel very much obliged if you will have the
courtesy to exchange seats with me."
I replied, "With the greatest pleasure, sir," and took a back seat, more
becoming to my station.
In a few days the chairman of the Committee on Mileage came around to my
seat, and said, "Poston, how is this?--your mileage is $7,200, and mine
is only $300."
I replied, "Frank, what is the price of whisky in your district?"
He said, "About two dollars and a half per gallon."
"Well," I said, "it is fifteen dollars a gallon in Arizona--that
equalizes the mileage."
He certified the account, and never said another word.
The salary was $5,000 a year, which added to the mileage, made
$12,200;--but it all went, and a great deal more, in entertainment and
presents at Washington. It was esteemed an honor to represent the
Territory for which so many sacrifices had been made, and such severe
hardships endured, and money was not spared to bring it to public notice
on every suitable occasion.
The members of Congress usually manifest courtesy to delegates, as they
are considered in a political sense orphans of the Republic, not having
any vote nor in any other way being recognized as equals. They were not
obliged at that time to serve on committees, nor expected to answer the
roll-call. It was an easy berth for an indolent man without ambition or
The Thirty-eighth Congress was considered a very able assembly. The
Civil War had brought the most illustrious men of the nation to the
surface, and their acquaintance leaves a pleasant memory. When I look
over their photographs, now it is like shuffling an old pack of cards
which have been played out,--they have nearly all gone to the Upper
Chamber,--in this world or the next. Grow and Holman are the only ones
in the House now. Thaddeus Stevens was the leader of the House, and
treated me with the most distinguished consideration,--even to the
compliment of dining at my house,--which was unprecedented in his long
public career. The old sinner said the exception was made because my
wife was a Baptist.
I made but one speech, and that was on the subject of Indian affairs. An
appropriation of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars was obtained for
the construction of irrigating canals, to enable the Indians of Arizona
to become self-supporting. This was the first instance in which
irrigation was brought to the notice of the government.
President Lincoln was always accessible amid his heavy cares. As my
family lived in the neighborhood where the President had been reared,
my little girl made him a satchel of corn shucks from the field where he
had hoed corn barefooted in the briars, thinking he might appreciate a
souvenir from his old home. One afternoon I escorted my daughter to the
executive mansion to deliver my present. The President received it
graciously, and made many enquiries about the old neighbors.
The 38th Congress passed the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution,
and as the delegates could not vote they were requested to sign a paper
giving their adhesion. I signed for Arizona; but it was a bitter pill.
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