CHAPTER XI. EARLY PIONEERS AND SETTLERS (Continued)


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER X. EARLY PIONEERS AND SETTLERS. (Continued.) Next: CHAPTER XII. EARLY PIONEERS AND SETTLERS (Continued)


[page 227]

Captain Thomas Jonathan Jeffords—Made Friends with Cochise—Guides General Howard to Cochise's Camp—Assists Howard in Making Peace with Cochise—Made Indian Agent—Death of Cochise—Indians Kill Rogers and Spence, Who Had Sold Liquor to Them—Death of Jeffords—Charles H. Meyer—Owned First Drugstore in Tucson—City Recorder—Kept Tucson an Orderly City—Meyer Street, Tucson, Named After Him—A. F. Banta—Government Guide—Member of Tenth Territorial Legislature—District Attorney, Apache County—Probate Judge, Apache County—Newspaper Man—Prospector—Walker Party—Captain Joseph R. Walker—Personnel of Company—Enlist Under "Kit" Carson to Fight Indians—Second Expedition—Personnel—Suspected of Trying to Effect Junction With Confederates—Established Settlement Near Present Town of Prescott—Trip to Pima Villages—Discovery of Lynx Creek District—Organization of Mining District—Visited by Part of California Column—Peeples' Party—Guided by Pauline Weaver—Discovery of Rich Hill—Dissolution of Walker Party—Daniel E. Conner


[page 228]

Last Survivor—Other Parties—Military Districts—Fort Whipple Established.

Captain Thomas Jonathan Jeffords was born in Chautauqua County, New York, in 1832. He laid out the road from Leavenworth, Kansas, to Denver, in 1858. In the fall of 1859 he came to Taos, New Mexico, and wintered in Taos. The following spring he went into the San Juan mountains to prospect and mine. In 1862 he carried dispatches from Fort Thorn to General Carleton at Tucson. At that time, he was on the payroll of the United States Government as a scout, and piloted the advance companies of the California Column into New Mexico, to old Fort Thorn near the Rio Grande near Las Cruces. He is said to have taken part in the battle of Val Verde and the other engagements which resulted in the expulsion of the Confederates from New Mexico.

In 1867 Captain Jeffords made the personal acquiantance of Cochise, who had been very active against all Americans and Mexicans. Of this meeting, Captain Jeffords said: ‘‘He had killed twenty-one to my knowledge, fourteen of whom were in my employ. I made up my mind that I wanted to see him. I located one of his Indians and a camp where he came personally. In the meantime, I had acquired a smattering knowledge of the Indian language, having been an Indian trader under a commission from Mr. Parker, Secretary of the Interior. Having been advised that Cochise would be at a certain place at a certain time, I went into his camp alone, fully armed. After meeting him, I told him that I was there to talk with him personally, and that I wished to leave my arms in his possession or in the possession of one of his wives whom he had with him, to be returned to me when I was ready to leave, which would probably be a couple of days. Cochise seemed to be surprised, but finally consented to my proposition, took possession of my arms and I spent two or three days with him, discussing affairs, and sizing him up. I found him to be a man of great natural ability, a splendid specimen of physical manhood, standing about six feet two, with an eye like an eagle. This was the commencement of my friendship with Cochise, and although I was frequently compelled to guide troops against him and his band, it never interfered with our friendship. He respected me and I respected him. He was a man who scorned a liar, was always truthful in all things, his religion was truth and loyalty. My name with Cochise was Chickasaw, or Brother, and among his tribe I was known as Tyazalaton, which means 'Sandy Whiskers.' The following will illustrate a point in Cochise's character: He said to me once, ‘‘Chickasaw, a man should never lie!’’ I replied: ‘‘No, he should not, but a great many do.’’ He said: ‘‘That is true, but they need not do it; if a man asks you or I a question we do not wish to answer, we could simply say: I don't want to talk about that.’’’’

THOMAS JONATHAN JEFFORDS.


[page 229]

‘‘I learned from Cochise, and I think his story bears me out, that up to about the year 1859 when he was betrayed by Lieutenant Bascom, he had always been very friendly to the whites, but since that time he had done them all the harm he could.’’


[page 230]

In 1870 General Howard was sent out by the Department in Washington as Indian Commissioner. During that year he took several Indian Chiefs to Washington, and returned in 1871. Cochise's band was still on the warpath, and all white men gave him a wide berth, fearing to enter his camp. Howard was anxious to interview him and see if some terms could not be made by which he would be induced to go on the reservation and quit his murdering and robbery of inoffensive citizens.

At that time Captain Jeffords was acting as a scout for Captain Farnsworth in hunting down these Indians, and was away from Tularosa, which was his headquarters, on a scouting trip with Farnsworth. General Howard made the acquaintance of a man by the name of Milligan, and told him what he wanted. Milligan told him there was but one man who could conduct him into Cochise's camp; that he was the only white man who had ever gone into his camp and returned, and that man was Captain Jeffords. Upon Jeffords' return from the scout, General Howard was at Tularosa, and sent for him, telling him what he wanted to do. Jeffords told him that he could take him to Cochise's camp in seven days but in order to do so he, as general of the army, would have to be under the control and direction of him, Jeffords; that he would guarantee his safe return, but that he would have to go in alone with him, and do as he said. Howard consented to the terms, but some of his officers protested, saying that he would never get out alive and insisted that he should go with a strong military escort. Jeffords said: ‘‘To me it


[page 231]

is immaterial whether you go or not, but if you are going out there with a lot of soldiers, you will need more than 250. If you go with me alone I can take you to his camp, and we can have this interview, and I think you can make peace with him by giving him a reservation in his own country.’’ After considering the matter, Howard told Jeffords in the presence of his officers that he was going, and that Jeffords would be in command of the expedition. Jeffords, telling the story, said: ‘‘I always had a great respect for General Howard after that. Before this time I was prejudiced against him on account of his well known humanitarian ideas, and, to my mind, posing as a Christian soldier. I saw then that he was not only a brave man, and fearless as far as his person was concerned, but was really in earnest about trying to stop the destructive war which Cochise was waging upon my countrymen.’’

Jeffords immediately set himself to work to locate Cochise. He left Howard's camp that night, and found one of the Indians twenty miles away by the name of Chee, and brought him back to the post. This Chee was a son of Mangus Colorado but had been brought up by Cochise. Jeffords then went in another direction, and brought in another Indian, Ponce, a son-in-law of Mangus. He arranged with these Indians to take him and General Howard to Cochise's camp. To perfect all of these arrangements took several days. Jeffords continues: ‘‘Finally we started for Cochise's camp from Fort Bayard, New Mexico. General Howard had requested


[page 232]

me to allow him to take his aide-de-camp, Captain Slayden, with him, which request was granted. I took charge of the expedition, and landed General Howard in Cochise's camp in seven days as had been agreed.’’

Targash, which means 'Gamecock,' was the sub-chief. Five or six Indians and from fifteen to sixteen squaws and children were in the camp. The General and the Captain stayed overnight. The next morning the General said to Captain Jeffords: ‘‘Hadn't we better be going?’’ Jeffords said: ‘‘Where?’’ The General said: ‘‘Why, to hunt Cochise.’’ Jeffords answered: "He will be here in about fifteen or twenty minutes. He will come on horseback, and will have behind him the ugliest Indian you ever saw, by the name of Teese, bearing a lance. Jeffords and his Indians had been signalling all the way out, using smoke, the usual method of telegraphing among Indians. Cochise made his appearance in about fifteen minutes, as Jeffords had said. He looked around, and then embraced Jeffords according to the Mexican and Indian custom. He was introduced to General Howard and Captain Slayden. After a few minutes conversation, Cochise asked Jeffords how long he had known these people. Jeffords said about thirty days. ‘‘Will they do as they say they will?’’ Jeffords replied: ‘‘Well, I don't know; I think they will, but I will see that they do not promise too much.’’ During the trip Jeffords had cautioned Howard against making too great promises, because Indians were very exact, and the slightest violation of any promise made would queer them all the way through. Cochise


[page 233]

studied a while and said: ‘‘I am going to send him to Bowie and see how much of a friend of the Indian he is.’’ He said to Howard: ‘‘My people are out making a living. If they come across any whites, they will kill them, and it may be that some of my people will be killed. If my people are killed, I will take care of them, and if my people kill any whites I don't want to be held accountable for it, for they are out making a living. I want you to go to Bowie to-night.’’ The General said to Captain Jeffords: ‘‘I am very tired and I don't know how to get there.’’ Jeffords replied: ‘‘The Indians will show you a new route, and you can make a sulphur spring, about twelve miles from here tonight, sleep there, and go to Bowie tomorrow, and return in about three days.’’ Howard did as requested and returned in three days.

In the meantime some of Cochise's Indians came in and reported that they had killed five whites. Cochise said: ‘‘I do not think the troops can follow the trail of my Indians, but if they do, they will be in here to-night, and we will have a fight.’’ Jeffords explained to Slayden the condition of affairs, and told him if the troops followed the trail and fought with the Indians, they would be beaten. He told him that if he wanted to leave, he had better go right away, and an Indian would conduct him to General Howard. Slayden said: ‘‘What are you going to do?’’ Jeffords answered: ‘‘I am going to stay here, but you are an officer of the army, and it might complicate matters if the soldiers found you here.’’ Slayden studied for a while, and said: ‘‘If you are going to stay, I will stay too.’’


[page 234]

Cochise moved his camp up among the rocks, and the Indians made a nice bed for Slayden and Jeffords. It was all planned by Cochise that if the soldiers came in upon them, the women and children would be taken out of the camp beyond possible danger. The braves, in the meantime, were placed in position to resist any attack. When General Howard returned, he looked over Cochise's defensive arrangement, and said that no general in the Army of the United States could have made a better disposition of his men to resist an attack from a superior force. Consultations then began in reference to peace. The sub-chiefs came in from all over Cochise's stamping grounds. After a few days, they had a general powwow. General Howard wished to attend, but Captain Jeffords said: ‘‘No, we will stay here. They will let us know whether they want to make peace or not.’’ By and by, through certain noises in their camp, Jeffords knew that it was all right, and that the council had decided for peace, and so told the General. Cochise then came up and informed the General that they were ready to make terms of peace. The terms were that they should have a reservation in the Sulphur Spring Valley within the boundaries of Stein's Pass Mountains, Chiricahua Mountains, and the Dragoon Mountains, and that Captain Jeffords should be the Indian Agent. Jeffords said he did not wish the position; that the Government owed him $3,000 which he would forfeit if he accepted the position of Indian Agent, and, besides, he did not wish to be mixed up in it. If he was agent he


[page 235]

would be called upon for political assessments every time a president was to be elected, or a delegate in his territory elected; that he was an old time Democrat, and did not feel like assisting any Republican in any position. Howard replied: ‘‘I will tell General Grant about it and I think it would be better. In the meantime, Captain, I cannot make peace unless you consent to act as Indian Agent.’’ Jeffords considered the matter, and being anxious to stop a war which was killing off so many of his friends, finally consented, with the understanding that he was to be absolute boss upon the reservation, admitting no one on the reservation unless with his consent, and taking absolute control and authority over the Indians. This authority was given him by the President. Thereafter no soldier or civilian, or official of any kind came upon the reservation without Jefford's consent, and for the four years that he was Indian Agent, there was never any trouble with the Chiricahua Apaches. The White Mountain Indians sent several delegations into the reservation to get assistance from Cochise's Indians, but never received it. Further, all the horses and other stock in the hands of Cochise at the time this treaty was made, were restored to the owners. There was trouble with the White Mountain Indians at times, but Cochise sat always at the right hand of Jeffords, and enforced whatever order he made, with the result as above stated. It was charged that these Chiricahua Indians went upon different raids into Mexico, and that a part of the treaty made with Howard was that they should have that privilege, all of which was untrue.


[page 236]

During the time that Jeffords was agent, Cochise died upon the reservation. It can be said that every promise which he made to Howard was religiously kept as long as he lived, and he advised his Indians never to go on the warpath against the whites again.

In the last sickness of Cochise, Jeffords was with him and gave him the best medical attention to be had, but was called away from Cochise's wickiup to issue rations to the Indians. Before leaving, however, Cochise told Jeffords that when he died, he wanted him to take care of his particular tribe, which numbered about three hundred and twenty, and keep a supervision over them. Jeffords said: ‘‘I am only one, and they are over three hundred, and they won't do what I ask them to do unless they want to.’’ Cochise said: ‘‘We will fix that.’’ He called in the head chiefs of his particular division, and then and there selected his oldest son as his successor, and they agreed with Cochise that they would do whatever Jeffords wanted them to do. On the removal of the Chiricahua Indians to the San Carlos Reservation, Jeffords took charge of this branch of the tribe, and it was the only band that went voluntarily to the San Carlos. Jeffords then left to issue rations to the rest of the Indians. In saying good-bye, Cochise said: ‘‘Chickasaw, do you think you will ever see me alive again?’’ Jeffords replied: ‘‘I do not know; I don't think I will, for you have been failing very rapidly in the last three days, and I think that by tomorrow night you will be dead.’’ Cochise said: ‘‘I think so too, about tomorrow morning, at ten o'clock, I will pass out, but do you think we will ever meet


[page 237]

again?’’ Jeffords replied: ‘‘I don't know. What do you think about it?’’ ‘‘Well,’’ said Cochise, ‘‘I have been giving it a good deal of thought since I have been sick here, and I think we will.’’ ‘‘Where?’’ asked Jeffords. ‘‘I don't know, somewhere up yonder,’’ pointing to the skies. He died the next morning as he said he would, from inflammation of the bowels. He never feared death, but rather courted it.

While Slayden was in the camp, Jeffords asked Cochise if they could not have some fresh meat. ‘‘Well,’’ Cochise said, ‘‘what I can give you is good enough for you and I, but I don't know about the other fellow.’’ ‘‘All right,’’ said Jeffords, ‘‘you have it cooked up, and I will vouch for him.’’ So they had meat boiled in large quantities set before them, and Slayden ate like a pig. After the meal was over, Jeffords asked him how he liked the meat. ‘‘I never tasted anything so good in my life. I ate three portions of it, and would have called for more had I not been ashamed to. What kind of meat was it, elk?’’ Jeffords said: ‘‘Well, you saw them kill that colt over there. That was horse meat.’’ Slayden answered: ‘‘Well, if I had known it, I suppose I wouldn't have touched it, but I still say it was the best meat I ever tasted.’’

During Captain Jefford's administration there was only one outbreak, if indeed it can be so characterized. ‘‘Rogers and Spence were living by permission of the Government and myself, as agent, at Sulphur Springs. They were instructed by me not to keep any whiskey or liquors, and above all not to let the Indians have


[page 238]

any because if they did, in one of their drunken sprees, they will murder you, and I will be obliged to order you off the reservation, which I do not wish to do. This was understood between us. Two Indians, Pioncenay and Piarhel went down to their camp, and Rogers and Spence sold them whiskey at $10.00 per bottle. The Indians became drunk, and in a fit of intoxication, killed both white men, when they would not sell them more liquor. I received the news at ten o'clock at night, they having been killed that morning about an hour after sunrise. I immediately went to Major McClelland, who was in charge of the military forces, and informed him of this murder, and told him that I wanted him to send an officer with me to Rogers and Spence's camp the next morning. He sent Lieutenant Hendley with twenty-eight soldiers. We went to the camp. I knocked open the head of a keg of whiskey, and in the bottom found several plugs of tobacco cut up, and a lot of chile, a decoction that would make any man crazy. The next thing was to capture the Indians who committed the murder. I was informed by my Indians where they were, but a brother of one of the Indians had a few of his followers with him, and their efforts were to get the murderers away into Sonora, which they succeeded in doing. The two Indians returned to the reservation in about twenty days, from Sonora, and I was informed of it. I called up Tarjay, the son of Cochise, and the head chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, and told him that I wanted those Indians. My object was to take them and send them to Tucson for trial by the civil authorities.


[page 239]

Nacheis, the youngest son of Cochise, urged me to let him deal with Esquinay, the war chief of the Chiricahuas, who was Nacheis' father-in-law, and who was protecting these two Indians. After some debate, I consented, and when resistance was made, Nacheis killed his father-in-law, and three or four Indians, when I had told them that they were prisoners, and they attempted to resist, the fight commencing, and Nacheis killing his father-in-law, as above stated, and four others. Pioncenay was shot through the lungs. This ended the trouble. Clum, who was my successor, turned him over to Charlie Shibell, Sheriff of Pima County, and the Indian escaped.’’

During all the time that Jeffords was in control of the Indians, he had their confidence and could induce them to do almost anything that he desired. He saw that they were protected at all times as far as possible in their rights, and dealt with them humanely, justly and friendly, thus commanding their respect and confidence. When his successor was appointed, his accounts were audited in Washington, and his bondsmen were released within three months, something unheard of in the history of the administration of Indian affairs in Arizona. Most of the Indian agents were under bond for $10,000. Jeffords was under bond for $50,000. He made all his reports to the Interior Department direct, and had, as before stated, the entire control of the reservation given to him by President Grant.

Captain Jeffords was superintendent of the mail from Mesilla to Tucson, in 1866–67, during which time a number of his men were killed


[page 240]

by Cochise's band, which led Jeffords to hunt up Cochise in person, as stated above.

The later years of Captain Jeffords' life were spent at Owl's Head, a mining camp in Pinal County, about fifteen miles from Red Rock Station, on the Southern Pacific, where he was interested in some mining property. He died on February 19th, 1914, and was buried in Tucson.

Charles H. Meyer was a German, and settled in Tucson in 1854. From 1875 he served several times as City Recorder. His court was unique; every man, when first brought before him for any misdemeanor, he would treat leniently, sometimes giving him a lecture, but for the second offense, he usually imposed a heavy fine, and in addition, would send the offender to the chain gang. If the prisoner demurred to the sentence, the judge would generally double the time on the chain gang, saying: ‘‘Vell, I gifs you thirty days more on the chain gang for contempt of de court.’’ By this method he kept Tucson an orderly city during his terms in office. He had the first drug store in Tucson, which he conducted for many years. One of the principal streets of the city, Meyer Street, is named for him. He died in Tucson September 7th, 1903, having been a resident of that town for forty-seven years.

A. F. Banta was born in Indiana in 1846, and came to the Territory in 1863. He was one of the chief Government guides and scouts, with headquarters at Fort Whipple, from 1865 to 1871. He was a member of the 10th Legislature, and introduced and passed a bill organizing the county of Apache, of which he became District Attorney, holding the office two terms, 1879–80 and 1889–90. He was Probate Judge of the same county in 1881–82; a member of the Legislature in 1883–84; Justice of the Peace at St. John in 1876; at Springerville in 1877–78, and County Assessor in 1880. He was the chief guide of the Wheeler Exploration Expedition, and also the 100th Meridian Expedition in 1873. He served as United States Marshal and Deputy Sheriff in the 80's. He was the first postmaster at Springerville during President Hayes' administration. At various times he has been an editor. His last adventure of this kind was editing the "Observer" at St. Johns, Apache County. His personal adventures would fill a volume. In the enjoyment of all his faculties, and in perfect health for one of his age, he is still scouring the country and prospecting. The writer saw him a few weeks ago when he was organizing an expedition to find what is known as the "Lost Dutchman Mine."

CHARLES H. MEYER.


[page 241]

Up to 1862, beyond the explorations made by Lieutenant Beale, Felix Aubrey, and others, along the Beale road, nothing was known of Central Arizona, its mines, its forests, and its agricultural possibilities. It was the home of the Apache, the most treacherous and dangerous of all the Indian tribes. The first expedition to explore this section of the country was known as the "Walker Party." Captain Joseph R. Walker, who commanded the expedition, was an old hunter and trapper. In 1837, and 1838, in company with Jack Ralston, who later died, he discovered in this part of the country a metal which, years afterwards when visiting San


[page 242]

Francisco, he found to be gold. In 1861, Walker desiring to explore this country for the yellow metal, organized in Kernville, Kern County, California, a company for that purpose. The following are the names of the members of that company; Captain Joseph R. Walker, Joseph R. Walker, Jr., John Walker, John H. Dickson, George Lount, George Cutler, --- Tarsith, --- Clothier, John I. Miller, J. L. Miller, Samuel C. Miller, George Blasser, Col. Harding, Phelix Buxton, Albert Dunn, Martin Lewis, Jacob Lynn and Luther Paine. Their objective point was the country in and around Prescott and the Little Colorado. After crossing the Colorado, they were continually harassed by Indians, which prevented them from exploring the country to the south as they had intended. The San Francisco Mountain was their landmark and passing around its base, they followed up the Little Colorado, but failing to find gold, they pursued their journey eastward, and reached New Mexico that same year. Upon reaching New Mexico, the party maintained its existence and enlisted under "Kit" Carson against the Indians. Captain Walker retained his rank and the original number of fighting men under him. In 1862, the party went to Colorado, and in the Fall of that year, another expedition was set on foot with the Hassayampa as the objective point. Thirty-four hardy and intrepid men signed the muster-roll, with a full determination to blaze the trail for others to follow. The names and nativity of the men composing this expedition are as follows:


[page 243]

Captain Joseph R. Walker, Tennessee; Joseph R. Walker, Jr., Tennessee; Martin Lewis, Missouri; Jacob Lynn, Missouri; Charles Noble, Missouri; Henry Miller, Missouri; Thomas Johnson, Missouri; George Blasser, Pennsylvania; Alfred Shupp, Pennsylvania; John J. Miller, North Carolina; Jacob Miller, Illinois; Sam. C. Miller, Illinois; Solomon Shoup, Illinois; Hiram Cummings, New Hampshire; Hiram Mealman, New Hampshire; Wm. Wheelhouse, New York; George Coulter, New York; John "Bull," England; George Lount, Canada; Rhoderic McKinney, Canada; Bill Williams, Massachusetts; A. C. Benedict, Connecticut; A. French, Vermont; Jacob Schneider, Germany; John Dixon, Mississippi; Frank Finney, Louisiana; John Young, Kansas; Jackson McCracken, South Carolina; John W. Swilling, Georgia; ---- Chase, Ohio; Felix Buxton, France; Chas. Taylor, Sailor; F. G. Gilliland, Kentucky; Daniel E. Conner, Kentucky.

In September, 1862, the company left Pueblo, Colorado, and being regarded with some suspicion, the authorities thinking they might be seeking to effect a junction with the Confederates, General Carleton employed A. C. Benedict to accompany the expedition for the purpose of watching its movements and reporting the same. The party went south to what afterwards became known as Fort West, and stopped a short time, at that place, during the Winter of 1862–63, where Jack Swilling and Jackson McCracken joined them. Jack Swilling, as we have seen, had served under Captain Hunter when the Confederates captured Tucson, and


[page 244]

commanded the little detachment that killed Lieutenant Barrett of the Federal army, in the engagement near the Picacho. While at Fort West, the party served the Government under the command of Captain McCleve. Leaving this place, they followed the old Butterfield trail for some distance but branched off from it to explore the unknown wilderness in the north, from one hundred and fifty miles to two hundred miles distant.

This was the first invasion of Arizona by any organized body of white men, and was the beginning of the end of Apache dominion in that section of the Territory of Arizona. Crossing the great Gila Desert from Sacaton Station, now known as Oatman Flat, on the River Gila below the Pima Indian Villages, the Walker party reached the wooded territory in and around Prescott, and there made a final stand for a new base of operations. They felled the trees and built a corral in a hollow square that the savages could not break through, in which their sixty head of mules were kept during the night. For nearly a year previously, six men were required to guard the stock constantly, day and night; it only required one man to guard the corral. This change, inaugurated by Captain Walker, was very satisfactory, but the party were here stored away, or rather, secreted in a nook in the wilderness, unknown to any of their race, and it became necessary to notify the outside world where they were located, so it was decided to make a flying trip to the Pima Villages on the River Gila. A hole was dug into which all their supplies and equipage was cached, and the party went south


[page 245]

with their mules to get a full supply of pinole and other foodstuffs from the friendly Pimas, with whom they left letters to go eastwardly and westwardly by any stray party of soldiers that might pass through the Villages during the next six months. These letters described the locality and situation in the previously unknown woodland, in which the party had decided to make their final stand. The return trip was made without accident, the party arriving at their new home after an absence of twenty days. Preparing to do business with the Apaches, they strengthened their corral, and constructed a large log cabin, or fort, beside it for protection against their Apache foes, and for shelter from the storms, as the rainy season had begun in earnest. This corral and log cabin were built on the Hassayampa about five miles from the present location of the city of Prescott. From this point, parties went out in all directions prospecting. Early in May, 1863, Sam Miller and four others went up Lynx Creek. Here while some of the party went hunting, Miller went over to a bank nearby, and washed a pan of dirt, from which he got $4.80. Word was sent to the main camp on the Hassaympa of the rich find. The party broke camp and moved on to Lynx Creek, where they worked successfully in placer mining and trapping.

A miner's meeting was organized, and Thomas Johnson was selected for president, after Captain Walker had declined, and William Wheelhouse for recorder. This was the first mining district ever organized in Central Arizona, and it was located about five miles south of the present


[page 246]

city of Prescott on the north bank of the Hassayampa, and these were the first white men to locate in this part of the country, and with the abundance of gold they washed out, and the number of Indians they killed, they experienced, says Mr. Fish, what some termed "booming times." From this encampment, the party explored the surrounding country as far east as the Agua Fria, and north or northwesterly to the Chino Valley on the Verde River, and Bill Williams' Fork, Bill Williams' Mountain, and other localities. Only one trip was made to Bill Williams' Mountain, north of the corral, as it was a stronghold of the Apaches, and the party venturing into it had two of its members wounded. From the signal smoke, and occasional contact with Indian pickets, the party was convinced that the savages were increasing their number by orderly concentration, and that at any time they were caught off guard, the whole party would be massacred. About six months had elapsed when they were surprised by the sudden appearance of a company of soldiers under the command of Captain M. J. Pishon and accompanied by Surveyor-General Clark of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The soldiers came over the old Beale road, and passed through the pretty woodland to its south edge, discovered the recently abandoned corral, passed out of the headwaters of the Hassayampa to Lynx Creek and found the party in temporary encampment there. There they remained for about three days, and when they started on their return, they abandoned five covered wagons in the northern plain, which were subsequently utilized to transport provisions from Los Angeles,


[page 247]

California, to Prescott. General Clark stated that he had been searching for this locality for three months before finding the party. The route which he had travelled was estimated by the military to have been about five hundred and twenty-five miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Prescott, Arizona.

The next party to enter this new region came in response to the letters left with the Pimas, and consisted of what was known as the "Peeples' Party" This party was organized by A. H. Peeples in May, 1863, and entered Arizona from California, by way of Yuma, where they met Pauline Weaver, who had come by appointment, Peeples having written him from California. The party, with Weaver as guide, followed up the Colorado River to La Paz, where the Mexicans had been placer mining for some time. They went east across the Plomosa Range and up the Cullen Valley. On nearing the mountains, some antelope were discovered, and Peeples followed them and succeeded in killing five. From this he named the stream Antelope Creek, and the mountain which rose from its northern bank, Antelope Peak. The party camped nearby, and before sundown had panned out some gold, on what they named Weaver Creek, in honor of the guide. The next day, four Mexicans, who had joined the party at Yuma, started off after their horses which had strayed during the night. In the evening, they came in with their stock, and, taking Peeples aside, exhibited a large quantity of gold nuggets which they had picked up on top of the mountain. They could have kept the secret to themselves,


[page 248]

but they gathered a large amount of gold and then rode safely into Mexico. The next morning, the party went to the top of the hill where innumerable chunks and nuggets of gold were found in a sort of sloping basin. In about a month, all the surface gold was gathered and the party scattered, some remaining to work the gravel bars of Weaver Creek. It is estimated that during the first month a quarter of a million dollars in gold was gathered. The mountain was named Rich Hill, and has yielded many thousands of dollars since that time.

From this period, newcomers came from all directions, settling down with the Walker pioneers, in and around what afterwards became Prescott. The Walker party was dissolved in 1864, and some of its members afterwards became identified with the early history of the Territory of Arizona.

The history of this expedition has been written by Daniel E. Conner, the last survivor of the party, and I hope the State of Arizona will secure it, as it gives a succinct and continuous narrative of the expedition of the Walker party, which was the first to enter Central Arizona, the vanguard of that army of pioneers which subsequently reclaimed this rich and fertile country from savage dominion. The success of these pioneers is largely to be attributed to Captain Walker; he understood the Indian character well, and while his policy toward them was never brutal, but humane, yet he was always ready to meet them in battle, when such a policy was necessary and could not be avoided. Patient and prudent, conservative, and cautious, enjoying the


[page 249]

full confidence of his followers, the campaign, in every way, was a successful one.

The reports spread by the members of the command of Captain Pishon upon their return, of the rich gold mines in the vicinity of the Hassayampa, and Lynx Creek, and around the headwaters of the streams in that vicinity, did much to attract attention to that region. Several parties were hurriedly organized to prospect in the new El Dorado. Jim Shelby, of Santa Fe, fitted out five teams loaded with provisions, groceries, etc., and left Santa Fe for the gold fields in October, 1863. There were with him Frank Shaffer, Louis St. James, Billy Foster, Frank Riggs, John Justice, Tom Barnum and others. In a short time there was a second party on the way, which consisted of Rufus E. Farrington, W. C. Collins, Lew Alters, Ed. G. Peck, and Lon Thrift.

Among these early pioneers may be mentioned T. Lambertson, who was one of the first settlers in Walnut Grove; Gus Swain also an early settler at the same place; Theo. Boggs, who staked out a home on Big Bug, in 1863; John Townsend, who located a ranch on the Agua Fria in 1863. Townsend was a half blood Cherokee, cunning and brave, and had an undying hatred of the Indians and hunted them to the death. Several of his relatives had been killed by the Comanches in Texas and it is said that in revenge he had sent twenty-seven Indians to their happy hunting grounds, but, like many others in Arizona, the Indians got him at last. While out hunting in the year 1873, he came upon a small band of Indians at Dripping Springs, and was shot by


[page 250]

one of them. His body was found a few days later. He had exchanged a few shots with the Indians, and had received his death wound unknown to them.

In January, 1863, the military District of Western Arizona, which, up to that time, had belonged to the Department of the Pacific, was attached to the Department of New Mexico, and, by order of General Carleton, issued in October, 1863, all of the Territory of Arizona, lying north of the Gila River, and west of the Colorado, except that portion occupied by Fort Mohave, was created into a Military District. General Carleton decided to establish a post in the Chino Valley and two companies of troops were ordered to accomplish this work. Captains Hargraves and Benson were selected, and the expedition was put under the immediate command of Major Willis of the First Regiment of Infantry, California Volunteers. This expedition, with Captain Pishon as guide, left Fort Wingate on November 7th, 1863, following the old Beale route to Antelope Springs where they diverged. After leaving the Beale trail, they found the road extremely rough and many of their wagons were broken. The main portion of the command reached Chino Valley on December 23rd, and here was located Fort Whipple, so named in honor of Brigadier-General A. W. Whipple, who fell in the battle of Chancellorsville, and who, as a lieutenant of the U. S. Topographical Engineers, had, before the Civil War, explored New Mexico and Arizona. This location was about twenty-two miles from the present town of Prescott, and in May, 1864, the location was changed and the present post established.

Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER X. EARLY PIONEERS AND SETTLERS. (Continued.) Next: CHAPTER XII. EARLY PIONEERS AND SETTLERS (Continued)




© Arizona Board of Regents