CHAPTER XVII. EARLY MINES AND MINING.
Arizona Mining and Trading Company—Ajo Copper Mine—Planchas de la Plata—Copper Mine Near Tucson—Silver Mine Near San Xavier—Herman Ehrenberg Forms Sonora Exploring and Mining Company—Major Heintzelman, President—C. D. Poston, Manager—Locate at Tubac—Conditions at Tubac—Establishment of Fort Buchanan—First Mining Machinery in Arizona—Description of Heintzelman Mine by Sylvester Mowry—Breaking Out of Civil War—Withdrawal of Troops—Raids upon Mining Camps by Outlaws and Indians—Abandonment of Mines—Patagonia (Mowry) Mine—Acquired by Sylvester Mowry—Confiscation by General Carleton—First Placer Mining—Gold Placers on Gila Discovered by Jacob Sniveley—Discovery of Placers at La Paz by Pauline Weaver—Discovery of Weaver Diggings—The Walker Party—Henry Wickenburg Discovers the Vulture Mine.
Exploring parties sent out by the Government, particularly those along the southern part of what is now Arizona, gave some attention in a casual way to the mineral resources of the country, and these reports reaching San Francisco, probably much magnified, gave rise to the organization of the first exploring party sent into
In 1856 a Mexican from San Francisco organized an outfit to work the mines near Tucson. He first worked a copper mine about thirty-five miles west from there, and then a silver mine near San Xavier del Bac. The entire party, after much delay, arrived at Yuma, and was afterwards lost with man and beast, in the territory between Maricopa Wells and the copper mine. Only one, a man by the name of Cook, escaped. This crippled the enterprise so that it came to a standstill.
About this time, Mr. Herman Ehrenberg, whose name is linked with the early history of Arizona, and who had been, for some time, prospecting along the Gila and in Sonora, formed in New York the Sonora Exploring and Mining
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 main road to Sonora and Mexico. The forests of the Santa Rita Mountains were invaded and pine lumber sawed out with whip saws, to furnish material for doors, windows, tables, chairs, bedsteads, and such other necessary articles of furniture as might be required in their bachelor housekeeping quarters. The quarters would accommodate about three hundred men, and the corrals were sufficient for all the animals necessary for the settlement. The old quartel was used as a storehouse, and the tower, of which three stories remained, was used as a lookout. The Santa Cruz River rolled by the eastern side of the Presidio, and fuel and grass were abundant throughout the valley and on the mountain sides. It was about a hundred leagues to Guaymas, the seaport on the Gulf of California, where
The headquarters of the company, in the autumn of 1856, were made comfortable, a store of provisions was laid in for the winter, and the exploration of the company for mines was ready to begin. ‘‘The mines in the Santa Rita mountains had,’’ says Col. Poston, ‘‘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.’’
When it became known in Mexico that an American company had arrived in Tubac, Mexicans came in great numbers to find employment, and skilled miners were obtained at from fifteen to twenty-five dollars a month and rations. Flour, beef, beans, sugar, barley, corn and vegetables, were imported from Sonora at moderate prices. Many Mexicans, formerly soldiers of the Presidio of Tubac, had holdings of land in the valley and returned with their families to cultivate their "milpas." By the first of January following, an unofficial census of the valley of the Santa Cruz, in the vicinity of Tubac, showed a population of about a thousand souls. Col. Poston says:‘‘
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 in on the hurricane decks 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.
CHARLES D. POSTON.
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 sort 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 patriarchial, when Bishop Lane 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 until noon for the blessing at breakfast; but worse than all that, my comrades, who used to embrace me with such affection, went away with their rebosas over their heads without even a friendly salute.
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:
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 matrimony.
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 happiness.
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 on the Santa Cruz.
An idea that it was lonesome at Tubac would be incorrect. One can never be lonesome who is useful, and it 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 of 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 ore from the mountains and reduce it 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.
As we had plenty of horses and saddles, a gallop to the old mission of San Jose de Tumacacori, 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 'Camp 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 government 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 the vegetables, melons, etc., that we required, and many a weary traveler remembers, or ought to remember, the hospitality 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.’’
The ore in the Santa Rita Mountains proved to be too low grade to be profitably worked at that time, so the explorers turned their attention to the west side of the Santa Cruz River, and soon a vein of silver copper glance, called by the Mexicans "petanque" was discovered that yielded from the grass roots seven thousand dollars a ton. This mine was afterwards named in honor of the president of the company, "Heintzelman," which, in German mining lore, is said to be the name of the genius who presides over mines.
The products of the mine, after smelting, which contained about fifty per cent of silver, were shipped to San Francisco, via Guaymas, where the silver was sold at from 125 to 132 cents per ounce for the Asiatic market.
Silver bullion being rather too weighty for purposes of exchange, the company 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
In the autumn of 1857 a detachment of the First Dragoons arrived in the Santa Cruz Valley, and established Fort Buchanan. The officers were Colonel Blake, Major Stein and Captain Ewell. Coincident with the arrival of the military on the Santa Cruz was the arrival of a citizens' train of wagons laden with supplies—twelve wagons with twelve mules each—belonging to Santiago Hubbell, of New Mexico. These wagons took back a return freight of ores from the Heintzelman mine to the steamboat landing at Kansas City, for which they were paid twelve and a half cents a pound. The ores were in rawhide bags, and a ton to the wagon. This was the first shipment of ore from this part of what
The reduction works of the Heintzelman mine were located on the Arivaca ranch, eight miles distant from the mine, and connected with it by an excellent road. The process used was the European barrel amalgamation for argentiferous
Besides these there were many other mines and prospects being worked in that vicinity. Tubac became one of the most prosperous towns in the territory, with a mixed population of four or five hundred, with handsome residences, storerooms, gardens and fields, and other evidences of civilized life. At Santa Rita, Sopori, and Arivaca, reduction works were employed, and a great deal of bullion was taken out. The ores were rich, easily reduced, and notwithstanding the frequent raids of the Apaches, the work of development went steadily forward until the breaking out of the civil war, when the garrisons
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 line 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 Apache. It was impossible to remain in the country and continue the business without animals for transportation, so there was nothing
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, material, 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 seem to know they were abandoned.’’
Another of the early famous mines located in what is now the State of Arizona was the Patagonia, afterwards called the Mowry mine. It was located in the southern spurs of the Patagonia Mountains, seventy-five miles from Tucson, and three or four miles north of the Sonora line. It was discovered in 1857 by a Mexican herder, who sold it to Captain Ewell (afterwards General Ewell of the Confederate Army) and Messrs. Brevoort, Douglass, and Johnson, who gave the Mexican a pony and some other traps for the location. In 1859 Colonel Titus and
While in the possession of the property, Lieutenant Mowry developed and worked it quite extensively, expending about $200,000 in the work, and, although the process used by him was not the most economical, or the one best suited to the treatment of the ore, the prices obtained by him showed a net profit of over $100 per ton.
It is significant that although Lieutenant Mowry was arrested and confined in Fort Yuma for a period of some four months, he was never brought to trial, and no evidence was adduced against him, and at the end of his confinement in Fort Yuma he was unconditionally released. His property was not, however, immediately restored to him, and there may be some truth in his charges, made in an open letter to the New York World, and published April 25th, 1864, which are as follows:‘‘
Nearly two years ago the Mowry Silver Mines in Arizona were seized by a Brigadier-General, whose name shall not disgrace this letter, and a marshal of the United States, in the name of the United States. The mines were then producing about $700 per day; in a few weeks they would have been producing $1500 per day, and by the close of the year double that sum.
By a nice little arrangement between the brigadier-general and the marshal aforesaid, the mines were leased to a third party in the name of the government for $100 per month. Net result to the government: $100 per month, paid by the mine, and charged by the marshal for traveling expenses. Result to the brigadier-general and marshal: several thousand dollars per month. The worst of the matter is yet to come. No improvements have been made at the mines to increase their product; and instead of their producing, as they can and ought, $5,000 per day, they produce no more than they did two years ago; and this will always be the case if the government attempts to work the mines on its own account.’’
Bancroft says the Mission Fathers never did any mining in Arizona. Hamilton and others claim to the contrary. The following, in reference to the first placer mining in the State of Arizona is taken from Elliott's History of Arizona, 1884:‘‘But there is evidence of still earlier discoveries and extensive workings. * * * To the north of the Quijotoa Mountains about six miles, there is an area of about three miles square, more or less, of placer ground, which has been extensively worked (from the most reliable authority) as early as 1774, by Padre Lopez, a Castilian priest, and up to 1849, when the gold excitement of California caused many to leave for the north, the remainder returning to Lower California, whence they had come. The workings of the placer are remarkable. The most of the ground is a perfect honeycomb of working shafts from five to twenty feet deep, covering the gold field—so close together that it is almost impossible to ride over the ground without danger. These shafts or pits are connected by underground workings, from which the gold was evidently taken. The deepest shafts are those furthest removed from the base of the mountain. Some of the dumps of the deep workings are very large, and have been found rich enough to work with profit, as the methods used by ancient gold miners of that region were so crude and
Gold placers were discovered on the Gila at what was called Gila City, in 1858, by Jacob Sniveley. Sniveley was Sam Houston's secretary when Houston was President of the Lone Star Republic; and commanded a force of two or three hundred men which Texas sent out to operate against the Mexicans on the Santa Fe Trail. This force was captured by the American military authorities and disbanded. Sniveley came to Arizona somewhere about the year 1857. He was a Pennsylvanian by birth, and was killed by the Indians, as will be seen later in this history.
Pauline Weaver, the old guide and frontiersman, discovered the placers at La Paz, on the Colorado River, about the year 1861. He washed out a little of the dirt in a pan, and, not knowing what it was, took it to Yuma and showed it to Jose M. Redondo, who declared it to be gold. Soon thereafter a thriving settlement was established there, with, Hamilton says, a population of about two thousand souls. These placers have long been worked out.
In 1862, Pauline Weaver, Peeples and Jack Swilling discovered what is known as Weaver Diggings, near Stanton, which was found only by an accident. On the top of a high mountain, flat on the surface, were discovered the richest placers ever found in the State. One of the parties having lost an animal, which had strayed upon this table mountain, went in search of it, and discovered coarse gold. The ground was immediately staked out and worked, and yielded, it is said, within a small area, something over a million dollars. Weaver Creek is still worked to some extent.
In 1861 the Walker party was organized in California for mining explorations in Arizona; after a long and severe trip they arrived in Prescott, and began placer mining on Granite Creek and other creeks adjacent to the present town of Prescott. The area of these placers was quite extensive, extending to Turkey Creek and to the Big Bug District. There was a great deal of gold taken from these placers. The full account of this expedition will be given farther along in this history.
Henry Wickenburg discovered what is known as the Vulture Mine in 1863, and probably the most authentic account of this discovery is given in the Prescott Miner of June 6, 1868. This account was written by a correspondent of the Florida Press at Wickenburg from the story as told by Henry Wickenburg himself, and is as follows:‘‘He (Wickenburg) came in with Bloomfield in 1863, and with another companion. He left that gold seeker in a few weeks. The two men spent long months hunting for gold through the mountains. Wickenburg's companion at length became sick and weary and stayed in camp while Wickenburg prospected the hills. One hot day Wickenburg, weary and faint, sat down on a hill 15 miles from the Hassayampa, the nearest water. His spirits were all but broken and his money spent. He was attracted by the appearance of the country, and on examining it, he found his resting-place to be the croppings of a gold-bearing quartz lode, unequaled in these mountains famous for their mines. Wickenburg returned to his companion, who would not credit
Reports concerning these discoveries of gold in Arizona which were, no doubt, greatly magnified and exaggerated the farther they were carried, probably induced Congress to organize the Territory of Arizona, as the Government, at that time, was much in need of gold.