CHAPTER I. STAGE LINES AND NAVIGATION
Silas St. John—San Antonio and San Diego Stage Line—James E. Birch—Isaiah C. Woods—First Mail—Wagon Road Opened by Leach and Hutton—First Stage—Butterfield Stage Line, Afterward Overland Mail Line—Massacre of Employees by Mexicans—Butterfield Route Abandoned—Heintzelman and Mowry Mines—Lieutenant J. C. Ives' Exploration up the Colorado—Exploration by Captain Sitgreaves and Lieutenant Whipple—Captain Johnson—Lieutenant Ives' Boat, the "Explorer"—Lieutenant Ives' Report—Captain Johnson's Anticipation of Lieutenant Ives' Exploration—Captain Rodgers—Early Expedition by the Mormons—Jacob Hamblin.
To Mr. Silas St. John, who was connected with the San Antonio and San Diego Line, established in 1857, we are indebted for the following facts in reference to this, the first stage line ever established across Arizona:‘‘
The first mail eastbound was started from San Diego, California, in October, 1857, (about which time a contract for the opening of a wagon road was made by Superintendent James B. Leach and Engineer N. H. Hutton. This, according to Bancroft, corresponded largely with the route taken by Col. P. St. Geo. Cooke in 1846, but led down the San Pedro to the Aravaipa, and thence to the Gila, 21 miles east of the Pima Villages, thus saving 40 miles over the Tucson route, and by improvements about five days for wagons. The work was done by Leach and Hutton from the Rio Grande to the Colorado, between October 25th, and August 1st, 1858.) Although the advertisement in the San Francisco papers noted four horse Concord coaches, it (the mail) was really carried in saddle bags until some months later, when stations were established and stock strung along the line.
The first four horse Concord stage left San Diego at 12 M. sharp, November 15th, 1857. There was a relay twelve miles east, and another fifteen miles east of that; this twenty-seven miles was all the coach work on the first trip. At this point Charley Youmans took saddle, and with two remounts reached Cariso Creek via Warner's Ranch at 8 P. M. Here the mail was taken by Silas St. John, accompanied by Charles Mason, to the next station, Jaeger's Ferry at
A herd of stock was taken during November, 1857, from Yuma to Maricopa Wells for use upon the central section, Silas St. John in charge, assisted by James Laing of Kentucky, and William Cunningham, of Iowa. When they reached a point upon the Gila River where the road from the Ajo mines comes in, they met Poston's trains en route to Yuma with ore, Edward E. Dunbar in charge, who reported a large band of Tontos just above the river, and advised St. John to take the trail south of Antelope Peak to avoid a meeting that might defeat reaching their destination with the herd intact, which advice they followed, although it involved being without water for 36 hours, but it enabled them to escape contact with the savages. A portion of the drive was made in the night. It was quite dark. The pack mule managed to rid himself of his load unseen. For three days ensuing, until Maricopa Wells was reached, the party fasted.
Early in December, 1857, three coach loads of passengers, the first from California bound East, 18 persons in all, reached Maricopa. No attempt was made to put them through on mail time—extra teams were driven loose with the stage, and, as far as practicable, two hour
The company's commissary not having reached the line, Col. E. V. Sumner, in command of the Department, issued a request to the quartermasters of the several military posts on the route to furnish them with supplies. At Fort Davis, the soldiers were short themselves, and before the coaches reached the next post, their food supply was exhausted, and for a few days the passengers had to be fed from the grain sacks of the mules. Being Californians of several years experience, they accepted the situation in good humor.
Arriving at Camp Lancaster where a change of teams was expected to be had, a severe disappointment was experienced. The Comanches had paid the Fort a visit the day previous and driven off all the stock of the stage company and the United States Government, thus giving the worn-out teams 200 more miles of travel, entailing considerable delay. High waters in the Sahanal and Nueces delayed them five days and they arrived at San Antonio ten days behind schedule time. St. John conducted this party through to San Antonio, Texas, without especial incident.’’
In 1858 the Butterfield Line was organized to run from Marshall, Texas, to San Diego, California. Its eastern termini were St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, converging at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and the Western terminus was San Francisco, California. Its
The firm of Wells, Butterfield & Co. were contractors, and was composed of the leading express men in the United States. This concern was merged into the Overland Mail Company, and the service increased to a daily line, the compensation being augmented to $1,200,000 a year.‘‘
In August, 1858, under the superintendency of William Buckley of Watertown, New York, Frank de Ruyther, William Brainard, Silas St. John and others, located the line and built the stations between the Rio Grande and Tucson. At Dragoon Springs, a corral of stone, 45x55 feet, was erected. It was constructed especially strong, as this was a passing point for the Apaches going to and coming from Sonora. The walls and gates were completed before the construction corps moved on westwardly to San Pedro, St. John remaining with six assistants to complete the structure, roofing the store-room and residence portion, etc. The assistants were James Hughes of Watertown, New York, the line blacksmith, James Laing and William Cunningham, before noted, and three Mexicans, laborers, Guadalupe and Pablo Ramirez, alias Chino, of Sonora, and Bonifacio Mirando, of Chihuahua. On the night of Wednesday, September
A well directed kick disposed of Chino, the glint of the axe wielded by Bonifacio directed toward St. John's head, shown by the starlight, enabled him to parry the blow with his right hand, which threw the axe-blade into his hip, while a straight from the shoulder blow landed in Bonifacio's face, knocked him out. Guadalupe was at St. John's left striking viciously with the short handled broad axe. The first stroke was caught in parrying by the palm of his hand, the next upon the forearm below the elbow. As St. John reached for his Spark's rifle, which was standing against the wall at the
An express was started for Fort Buchanan by way of Tucson, as the direct route was not deemed safe for two men. They reached the fort on Wednesday following. The doctor, Asst. Surgeon B. J. D. Irwin, started at once with an escort and reached Dragoon on Friday morning—the ninth day after St. John was wounded. The arm was amputated at the socket. Six days
The establishment of the Butterfield route, over which was run a tri-weekly stage for a distance of two thousand miles, through an Indian country, over rough, natural roads, was a triumph that cannot be too highly praised. Through the wild Indian country, particularly the latter portion, which Cochise and Mangus Colorado claimed as their territory, it was extremely hazardous, and was made mostly during the night. Of course there were occasional interruptions in the regular traffic; now and then stages were held up and their occupants killed and the stock driven off, but, considering the hazardous undertaking, the success attending can be considered as little short of marvelous.
The first stage left St. Louis September 15, 1858, being followed by a second the next day; the latter being necessary to handle the accumulation of mail. Both arrived in San Francisco October 10th, twenty-five days out in the one case, twenty-four in the other; thus inaugurating
|1.||Tipton, Mo. to Ft. Smith, Ark.||218 1/2||49|
|2.||Ft. Smith, Ark, to Colbert's Ferry (now Dennison, Texas)…||192||38|
|3.||Colbert's Ferry to Ft. Chadburn…||282 1/2||65 1/2|
|4.||Ft. Chadburn to El Paso…||458||126 1/2|
|5.||El Paso to Tucson…||360||82|
|6.||Tucson to Ft. Yuma…||280||71 3/4|
|7.||Ft. Yuma to Los Angeles…||282||72 1/4|
|8.||Los Angeles to San Francisco||462||80|
This schedule was adhered to with remarkable accuracy. During 18 months the stage arrived at San Francisco late but three times. During the months of January and February, 1859, the two coaches, one from St. Louis, westbound, and the other from San Francisco, eastbound, met at the middle of the route near El Paso within three hundred yards of the same spot. Deducting time lost at stations, in changing horses, feeding passengers, crossing ferries, etc., this schedule required an average rate of five and one-half miles per hour, or one hundred and ten miles a day. The best time ever made from one terminus to the other was twenty-one days, twenty-three hours, the incentive being some specially
The trip was a hard and laborious one and not to be undertaken rashly. It meant twenty odd days confined in a hard-seated and practically springless stage coach, with the constant jar, night and day; at certain portions of the journey being exposed to rain, and at others to the dust and heat from the desert by day, and to the cold by night. For long stretches water had to be hauled to the stations for miles. In Western Texas there was one station where water for both man and beast had to be hauled in casks twenty-two miles during four-fifths of the year. The stock being mostly of the variety known as bronchos, were vicious and unruly. It was not only trying on the nerves but an absolute nuisance with each fresh team, to have to go through the same process, bucking and rearing, followed by a stampede, only brought to an end by exhaustion, during which time the stage would run sometimes on one wheel and then on the other, over rocks and gullies, sometimes on
The through passage cost $150 exclusive of meals, which were from forty cents to a dollar each. The bill of fare, outside of an occasional item of game, was abominable, consisting, according to the records, of chicory coffee, sweetened with molasses or brown sugar; hot, heavy biscuit; fried pork, floating in grease, and corn bread, from the hands of the frontier cook, soggy and unpalatable.
The Indians from Ft. Smith to the Colorado River were a constant menace. The desperadoes of the Southwest, composed largely of Mexicans from Sonora, were even worse than the Apaches. Another bad element was made up of fugitives from justice from the Eastern states and California, it being asserted that Judge Lynch and the San Francisco Vigilantes were Arizona's best emigrant agencies. These regarded the Mexicans with great contempt, and the feeling between the two classes was bitter, resulting in a race war practically all the time.
The old company was given a year in which to rearrange the route, being allowed the regular pay under their old contract for so much of this time as was required in removing their equipment and stock, and two months' pay as indemnity for damages and losses incurred. Service from St. Louis over the Butterfield route was discontinued April 1st, 1861, and on July 1st of
Notwithstanding overland service had been demanded by the public for a long time, when the service was established, the public was slow to avail themselves of it. During October, 1858, but two thousand five hundred and nine letters were carried; in October, 1859, sixty-four thousand, and in March, 1860, one hundred and twelve thousand, six hundred and forty-five. The total postage paid on mail carried on the route from the start, September 15, 1858, up to March 31, 1860, was $71,378.00, about $3,860.00 per month, while it was costing the Postoffice Department $50,000.00 per month. It had hardly been established before efforts were made in Congress to withdraw it. Efforts to change the service to weekly trips instead of semi-weekly, were attempted. The Butterfield Company, however, stood upon their contract, and no change was made. The agitation was largely
Financially the line was a failure. Its returns from passengers were comparatively small, the mail contract just about paying running expenses. The originators never received any returns from their original investment. The Company was quite willing to part with their entire right, which they did by sale in 1861, to Ben Holiday and the Wells, Fargo & Company Express Company.
Over the Butterfield route was hauled machinery for the betterment of the Heintzelman and the Mowry mines. Prospectors covered that portion of the country, locating mining claims which eventually proved quite valuable. As already stated in this history, Colonel Poston raised the capital necessary for the development of what was known as the Heintzelman Mine, Major Heintzelman, afterwards a Major-General in the Federal Army, being President of the Company. They shipped large quantities of rich ore, some of it going as high as four and five thousand dollars a ton in silver, to the East, which served to throw new light upon the mineral resources of Arizona. Colonel Heintzelman secured a furlough from the Army, and for two years employed himself actively as Superintendent of the mine, up to 1860. Regarding the products of this mine, Poston says that it was yielding a profit of from twelve to fifteen thousand dollars a month, more than one-half of the ore reduced being net profit.
In 1857 the Secretary of War, John B. Floyd, organized an expedition in charge of Lieutenant J. C. Ives, Topographical Engineers to explore the Colorado River, the object being to ascertain how far the river was navigable for steamboats. With his report, which was submitted to the President by the Secretary of War, June 5th, 1860, Lieutenant Ives submitted his daily journal of this expedition, a document of great interest to those interested in the early explorations made by the Government in Arizona. The transportation of supplies across the desert had been attended with such difficulties that in 1850 and 1851 General Smith, commanding the Pacific Division, sent a schooner from San Francisco to the head of the Gulf of California and directed Lieutenant Derby, Topographical Engineers, the author of Phoenixiana, to make a reconnaissance with a view of establishing a route for supplies to Fort Yuma, via the Gulf and the Colorado. The result of the reconnaissance was successful and the route was at once put in operation. The freight carried in sailing vessels to the mouth of the river, was transported to the fort—the distance to which, by the river, is one hundred and fifty miles—at first in lighters, and afterwards in steamboats.
In the Spring of 1854, Lieutenant Whipple, Topographical Engineers, in command of an expedition for the exploration and survey of a railroad route near the 35th parallel, reached the Colorado at the mouth of Bill Williams' Fork, and ascended the river about fifty miles, leaving it at a point not far below where Captain Sitgreaves had first touched it. The expedition was composed of nearly a hundred persons, including the escort. The Mojaves were friendly, furnishing provisions to the party whose supply was nearly exhausted, and sending guides to conduct them by the best route across the desert westward. The river was probably higher than when seen by Captain Sitgreaves, and it was the opinion of Lieutenant Whipple that it would be navigable for steamers of light draught. The course of the Colorado northward could be followed with the eye for only a short distance, on account of mountain spurs that crossed the valley and intercepted the view. A high distant range, through which the river apparently broke, was supposed to be at the mouth of the "Big Cañon" which the Spaniards, in 1540, had visited at a place far above.
Lieutenant Ives' expedition was to explore the Colorado and to run a line to the Zuni villages. The members of the expedition were assembled in San Francisco in the middle of October, and received great assistance from General Clarke commanding the department of the Pacific, and the officers of his staff. The party divided into
At this time there was a company under the direction of Captain Johnson, which was carrying freight from the head of the Gulf of California to Fort Yuma, and they, being unable, according to Lieutenant Ives, to furnish a boat for the use of the expedition at any reasonable rate of compensation, a steamboat of suitable construction, adapted to the enterprise, was built on the Atlantic coast and transported to San Francisco. This steamboat was also conveyed to the head of the Gulf on the same schooner upon which Lieutenant Ives and his companions made the trip, arriving there at a time when it was thought that the survey could
In this narrative it is not necessary to go into detail. The party had the usual difficulties attendant upon such explorations. The steamboat was finally assembled and named the "Explorer" but could not be launched until flood tide. When the anticipated flood came, the engines were put in motion and Lieutenant Ives had the satisfaction of seeing the little vessel, under the bright moonlight, slowly back out of the pit which had been her cradle, into the whirling, seething, current. During a squall, the next day, the boat shipped water alarmingly, but the journey was continued over the gliding torrent. This was on the 30th of December. J. H. Robinson was engaged as pilot, and on the 11th of January, 1858, the "Explorer" left Fort Yuma upon her mission concerning which Lieutenant Ives, in his letter to his superior officer, Captain A. A. Humphreys, topographical engineers, says:
The main object of the work being to ascertain the navigability of the Colorado, detailed information upon that point was also forwarded as the examination proceeded. It was my desire, in the communications referred to, rather to lay stress upon than to undervalue the difficulties encountered. At the same time the opinion was expressed that the delays and obstacles met with in the first experiment might, in a great measure, be avoided upon a new trial, conducted with the provisions that experience had suggested.
This view has since received ample confirmation. The outbreak among the Mojave Indians, and the consequent movement of troops into their territory, caused the navigability of the Colorado, at different seasons of the year, to be thoroughly tested. The result has been beyond my most sanguine estimate. The round trip between the head of the Gulf and the Mojave villages—which are 425 miles from the mouth of the Colorado, and but 75 miles from the point which I think should be regarded as the practical head of navigation—has been made in eight days.
I would again state my belief that the Colorado would be found an economical avenue for the transportation of supplies to various military posts in New Mexico and Utah. It may be instanced that the amount of land transportation saved by adopting this route would be; to the Great Salt Lake, 700 miles; to Fort Defiance, 600 miles, and to Fort Buchanan, 1,100 miles. The estimate contained in the hydrographic report, of the cost attending the river service, is, I think, a liberal one. The first organization of
The region explored after leaving the navigable portion of the Colorado—though, in a scientific point of view, of the highest interest, and presenting natural features whose strange sublimity is perhaps unparalled in any part of the world—is not of much value. Most of it is uninhabitable, and a great deal of it is impassable. A brief statement could comprise the whole of what might be called the practical result of the land explorations. The country along the Colorado, however, with the exception of a few places, has been almost a terra incognita. Concerning the character and value of the portions previously explored, great differences of opinion existed. Between the mouth and the highest point attained are many localities unique and surpassingly beautiful. Some of the Indian tribes, of whom little has been known, are subjects for curious speculation; and it being doubtful whether any party will ever again pursue the same line of travel, I have thought it would be better in place of condensing into a few lines, the prominent facts noticed, to transmit the journal kept during the expedition.
On March 12th, 1858, Lieutenant Ives reached the foot of Black Canyon in the "Explorer," and from thence he went to the head of Black Canyon in a small boat. Returning from this point to the Mojave villages, he sent the boat down to the fort, and with part of his scientific corps, being joined also by Lieutenant Tipton with an escort of twenty men, he started eastward by land. His route was north of that followed by earlier explorers, including the cañons of the Colorado Chiquito and other streams, and also, for the first time since the American occupation, the Moqui pueblos. He reached Fort Defiance in May. He visited the Grand Canyon at the mouth of Diamond Creek, the Havasupai Canyon, and other places.
Early in January, 1858, Captain Johnson, in his steamer, the "General Jesup," went up from Yuma to ferry Lieutenant Beale across the river on his return from California. Before meeting Beale, Johnson pushed his steamer experimentally
In 1866, Captain Rodgers took the steamer "Esmeralda," ninety-seven feet long, drawing three and a half feet of water, up to Callville, not far below the mouth of the Virgin River, but this probably was accomplished when the river was at a high stage, sometime during the months of June or July.
The Mormons, who may be regarded as the pioneer explorers of the great West, were the first to explore the northwestern part of Arizona. In reference to their early activities, Dellenbaugh furnishes the following:‘‘The Mormons were desirous of opening a road to communicate with the region east and south of the Colorado, especially that the 'Lamanites' might be able to come from there and receive endowments in the temple of St. George according to prophecy. Brigham Young directed Jacob Hamblin to undertake this journey, and in the Autumn of 1857, he went with a party under the guidance of a native to the Ute Ford, or Crossing of the Fathers, where Escalante had broken the way eighty-one years before. Successfully traversing this difficult passage, possible only at a very low stage of