[page 275]

Camp Verde Reservation—The Apache-Mohaves—Report of Rev. David White, Post Chaplain—Arrival at Camp Whipple, General Crook's Headquarters—Refusal to Address Meeting of Citizens—Departure from Territory—Final Statement as to Apaches Coming in.


“Camp Verde, Arizona Territory,

“October 3, 1871.

“We arrived at Camp Verde on the evening of September 30; General Grover and the officers under his command at the post received us kindly. Early in the morning after our arrival, at my request, the General sent out an Indian interpreter to inform the Apache-Mohaves of our arrival, and to request them to meet us at the Springs, twenty-five miles up the valley of the Verde, on the following noon. Arrangements were made to have one thousand pounds of corn, three beef cattle, and a good supply of clothing forwarded to the Springs, and at daybreak October 2, we were up and ready for the journey. General Grover, a lieutenant (former commandant of the post), Mr. Beal, a citizen, Mr. Ward, the interpreter, and an escort of five cavalry, accompanied us. The beef cattle were driven ahead, and the corn and clothing carried on twelve pack mules. We arrived at the Springs about noon. General Grover selected for our camp a clear hilltop a short distance above the Springs, overlooking

[page 276]

the valley. There were no Indians to be seen, though there was smoke burning up a near ravine. The Indian interpreter informed us that he had been to several of their villages, and found many were sick from want of food, but that all who were able had promised to come. General Grover, thinking that the presence of several white men who, returning from a deer hunt, had followed us, might be one of the causes of the absence of the Indians, suggested that they leave us. I agreed with him, and the five Apache-Mohaves arrived. Soulay was so emaciated from sickness and hunger that the General hardly recognized him. He was so weak he lay down on the ground, his head resting under the shade of a sagebrush. There were no trees near. The General thinking that he was suffering from an attack of intermittent fever, I prepared a mixture of quinine and whisky and gave it to him, but he soon asked for food, which we gave him. After an hour or so he recovered his strength and we had a talk. He pointed to the valley of the Verde below, where a white man had erected a cabin the year before, and said, ‘Where that house stands I have always planted corn; I went there this spring to plant corn, and the white man told me to go away or he would shoot me; so I could not plant corn there any more. Many white men hunted for deer over his mountains, like the three men who had just gone down the valley; that if they met any Indians they shot them, and that they killed all the game or frightened them so much the Indians could not get near them with their bows and arrows, and as the white people would not let them

[page 277]

have any ammunition, they could not kill the deer. There were some mesquite beans, mescal, and cactus figs on the mountains, but they could not live on that in the winter, and they did not see what was left for them but to die. If they went to the post to get some food they could not get any, and the general scolded them about their young men stealing and drove them off. The chiefs could not get anything for their people to eat; they were gradually losing their influence over their young men, who, finding themselves starving, would occasionally go on the roads and farms and steal stock to eat; they knew it was wrong, but how could he stop it, or blame them, when they were all dying for food?’ At my request the Indians kindled more fires, and sent out three more runners to bring the Indians in. During the afternoon four parties of three or four each arrived; they were hungry and nearly naked, and confirmed the interpreter's story that numbers of the Indians in the villages from which they came were too sick to come in. We gave them food and clothing. During the night several fires answering our signals were seen on the mountains across the valley, and early the next morning, October 3, a party of thirty men, women and children arrived. After giving them some food and clothing we had a talk. The chiefs repeated nearly all that Soulay said the day before, and together earnestly desired that the valley of the Verde from Camp Verde up to the old Mexican wagon road, about forty-five miles, and for a distance of ten miles on each side of the river, might be set apart for them as an Indian reservation, and they agreed that if the Apache-Mohaves

[page 278]

who were scattered over the middle and western portion of Arizona, who rendezvous about Date Creek, would come in and live with them, they would make room for and welcome them cheerfully upon their reservations. I asked them if they would not be willing to go over to Date Creek and have their home located there. They said there were too many white people around there, and the country did not suit them as well as the valley of the Verde. General Grover and the officers and the citizens I met at the post, all agreed that the valley of the Verde was the best location for a reservation for them. Accordingly, on my return to the post this afternoon, I addressed a letter to General Grover setting apart the valley of the Verde as a reservation for the Apache-Mohave Indians.

“Since my return to Washington I have received the following letter from Rev. David White, post chaplain, reporting the full success in the coming in of over five hundred Apache-Mohaves at Camp Verde Reservation:


“‘Camp Verde, Arizona Territory,

“‘November 22, 1871’.

“‘Dear Sir: I write congratulating you on the success of your mission to the Indians of this Territory. Since you left, five hundred and eighty Apache-Mohaves have been in and drawn rations. It affords me pleasure to say that the food given out by Captain Hawley (now in command) is given in good faith. The Indians appear well pleased. There is but little danger in travelling anywhere on account of Indians. I have made

[page 279]

the trip alone from here to Prescott. Others have done the same.

“‘Respectfully, your obedient servant,


“‘Chaplain United States Army.


’’ ‘‘

“Camp Whipple, near Prescott, Arizona,

“October 6, 1871.

“We arrived here on the evening of the 4th, and were received quite cordially by General Crook, who insisted upon my making his quarters my home. Indeed, throughout my journey in Arizona and New Mexico, I have been received with the utmost kindness by the officers of the Army, as I have before reported.

“The general and I differed somewhat in opinion as to the best policy to be pursued toward the Apaches, but as these differences were honestly entertained and kindly expressed, it did not lessen the cordiality of our intercourse; and as he desired me to frankly express my opinion if there was anything in his official action which I questioned, and as he had been pleased to do the same with me, much to my satisfaction, I told him I could not help expressing my regrets that he should have felt it to be his duty to censure Major Wm. Nelson for his manly defense of the Indians on the reservation at Camp Grant.

“The following day, with the advice of General Crook and that of Captain Frederick Van Vliet, who commands at Camp Hualapai, we arranged that the Hualapai Indians, who congregate around Beal Springs, a military post, about two hundred miles to the northwest of Prescott,

[page 280]

should be fed at that post, and a temporary reservation be declared one mile around the camp until a more permanent reservation could be selected. The recent discovery of silver mines, and the uncertainty of their precise location, in the country inhabited by the Hualapai Indians, made it impracticable for us to do any more than the above for the present.

“General Crook also thought it not advisable to attempt to move the Apache-Mohaves who range through the country in the neighborhood of Date Creek, this winter, to the reservation at Camp Verde, but that they should be fed at Camp Date Creek until the spring, when they may consent to move. With his advice, we therefore decided to name that post, and for one mile around it, a temporary reservation, and General Crook issued the necessary orders accordingly.

“Mr. Merriam, (Marion), the editor of the ‘Arizona Miner,’ and several other gentlemen, called to invite me to address in public meeting the citizens of Prescott on the Indian question. I read to Mr. Merriam, (Marion) his editorials, published before my arrival, wherein he called me a ‘cold-blooded scoundrel,’ ‘red-handed assassin,’ etc., and said, ‘Colyer will soon be here, * * * We ought, in justice to our murdered dead, to dump the old devil into the shaft of some mine, and pile rocks upon him until he is dead. A rascal who comes here to thwart the efforts of military and citizens to conquer a peace from our savage foe, deserves to be stoned to death, like the treacherous, black-hearted dog that he is,’ etc., and told him that I had no hankering after that kind of ‘mining.’

[page 281]

“The gentleman assured me that they would protect me with their rifles and revolvers; but as my official duties were wholly with the Indians, and the officers of the Government having them in charge, and I was unable to see sufficient reasons for addressing a public meeting in which I should have to be protected with rifles and revolvers, I respectfully declined. Mr. Merriam (Marion), gave me a beautiful specimen of gold quartz, and I thought we had parted pretty good friends, but three days after he published an editorial containing several gross calumnies, and abusing me worse than ever.—V. C.”

’’ ‘‘

“Washington, D. C., December 20, 1871.

“We left Prescott for home Saturday morning, October 7, accompanied with many expressions of goodwill from the officers of the Army stationed at Camp Whipple.

“In passing through Kirkland Valley, near Date Creek, the stage stopped at a farmer's house and inn toward evening, where we found the family greatly excited over the murder of an Indian. The landlord declined to give me the details of the affair, and I vainly endeavored to obtain them from a corporal and two soldiers who were standing there; they having been sent for from Camp Date Creek to protect the family. The landlord asked for seats in the stage for his wife and daughter to go to Wickenburg, saying he feared an attack upon his house that night by Apache-Mohave Indians, and wished to have his family in a place of safety. As the Apache-Mohaves had been for the last two years at peace, and were not included among those against whom General Crook was conducting his campaign, and, as I

[page 282]

have reported before, are estimated to number over two thousand people, the affair was important. The ladies, who were refined and intelligent persons, were taken in the coach, and from them I learned the following particulars:

“‘The Indian was standing in the front door of the tavern, when three white men came up the road on horseback, and demanded a Henry rifle which the Indian held in his hand. ‘No,’ was the reply, ‘this is my gun,—my property.’ ‘Jump off and take it,’ says one to another; upon which one of the riders dismounted and reached for the rifle. The Indian stepped back. The white man sprang forward and seized the rifle, and with the butt end knocked the Indian down in the door of the tavern. We screamed and begged the party not to murder an Indian fix the house, or his tribe would retaliate by murdering the inmates. The Indian was dragged out and killed and buried there in the yard, when the party mounted and made off with his rifle. The day following a straggling party of the same tribe of Indians—the Apache-Mohaves—was coming up the road, soliciting work from the farmers along the route, as is their custom. When within a mile of the tavern where the Indian was killed, three farmers, who supposed they were coming to attack our house, fired into the Indians—about twenty in number—and wounded and killed several of them, who were carried off by their associates in their rapid retreat.’

“The killing of the first Indian took place while the landlord was absent, or he said he would have prevented it. He had thought it prudent to send his family by stage to Wickenburg

[page 283]

but, with the aid of the soldiers and some neighbors, he intended remaining, and would endeavor to pacify the Indians.

“On our arrival at Camp Date Creek, near midnight, I awoke Captain O'Beirne, the commander, and delivered the orders of General Crook, arranging for the feeding of the Apache-Mohaves at his post. I informed him of the above facts in the hope that he would investigate the affair.

“At Culling's Rancho Way Station (Culling's Well) on the desert, east of Ehrenberg, I found nearly two hundred and fifty ApacheMohave Indians living in temporary wicki-ups, and hanging around begging at the ranches. I called the head men together and inquired why they did not go to the agency on the Colorado, or at Date Creek, and what were their means of obtaining a living. They said that at the Colorado Agency, Iraytabe, the chief, discouraged their coming, drove them off, and threatened them with punishment if they returned. At Date Creek they could get nothing to eat, and ‘it only made the officers mad to see them.’ Mr. Cullings fed them occasionally, but they were half starving and naked. I distributed some wheat among them and gave them a letter to Colonel O'Beirne at Camp Date Creek, requesting him to look into their condition, and if they belonged to the band which usually reported to him, to feed them under the President's order.

“At Ehrenberg I met Dr. J. A. Tonner, agent for the Mohave-Apaches, on the Colorado River, who reported everything peaceable and progressing hopefully at his agency. He said he

[page 284]

would take care of the Indians at Culling's ranch, and remonstrate with Iraytabe at his inhospitality. He earnestly asks for help in the establishment of schools, and reported the children eager to learn.

“Arriving at Los Angeles on the 13th of October, I regretted that my time would not allow me the pleasure of calling upon General Stoneman, at Wilmington, as his position as former commander of the department of Arizona would enable him to give me much information on Indian affairs. I addressed him a note, however, and on my arrival at San Francisco, October 19, I received a very kind reply from the general, accompanied with a copy of his final report on Arizona.


“General Schofield was glad to see me. The many exaggerated reports in the newspapers of the ‘cross-purposes between General Crook and the peace commissioner,’ had made him desirous to learn the truth. When he ascertained that instead of placing the Indians on the reservation which I had selected, ‘under the care of the proper officers of the Indian Department,’ as I had been directed to do in my instructions from the Secretary of the Interior, I had availed myself of the clause which allowed me ‘full power to use my best discretion,’ and I had left the whole business under the supervision of General Crook and the officers of the Army, I believe that he was satisfied that the ‘cross-purposes’ only existed in the imagination of a few worthy people in Arizona, and those whom they have misled.

[page 285]

“I arrived in Washington on October 27th, and made my verbal report to the President in the presence of the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of War, on the 6th of November. By direction of the President, on the following day I made a brief report in writing to Hon. Secretary of the Interior, giving a description of the reservations selected in New Mexico and Arizona, which was inclosed to the President by the Secretary of the Interior, with an indorsement recommending that ‘in pursuance of the understanding arrived at in our conversation with the Secretary of War on the 6th instant, that the President issue an order authorizing said tracts of country described in Mr. Colyer's letter to be regarded as reservations for the settlement of the Indians until otherwise ordered, I have the honor to suggest that the proper officers of the War Department be directed to notify the various bands of roving Apaches that they are required to locate on reservations immediately, and that upon so doing they will be fully protected and provided for by the Government so long as they remain on said reservations, and preserve peaceable relations with the Government, one another, and the white people, and that unless they comply with the request they will not be thus provided for and protected.’

[page 286]

“Late advices from the agents and Army officers in charge of the Apache Indian reservations established in New Mexico and Arizona, under the President's order, state that the roving Apaches have come in large numbers. There are now reported to be at Cañada Alamosa nineteen hundred; Camp Apache, Arizona Territory, thirteen hundred; Camp Grant, Arizona Territory, nine hundred; Camp Verde, Arizona Territory, five hundred; Camp McDowell, Arizona Territory, one hundred—total, four thousand seven hundred.

“No reports have been received at this office from the feeding stations temporarily established until the reservations can be selected, at Camp Hualapai and Camp Date Creek, where there are probably one thousand more. Without counting these there are more than one-half of all the roving Apaches of these Territories now at peace and within call, reaping the benefit of the ‘peace policy.’

“Of the complaints made by the officials and editors of Arizona of my want of courtesy in not accepting their generous hospitalities, as well as of the threats so freely made to ‘mob,’ ‘lynch me,’ ‘hang me in effigy,’ ‘stone me to death,’ as a ‘thief,’ ‘robber,’ ‘murderer,’ ‘red-handed assassin,’ etc., and abuse generally of the press of Arizona and elsewhere, I have taken little notice, as the business upon which I was sent to Arizona and New Mexico was successfully accomplished, has received the approbation of the administration and I trust to time and the good results which I believe will follow as my vindication.


[page 287]

The foregoing letters of Vincent Colyer, which are embodied in his report to the Secretary of the Interior, are instructive in many particulars. They show conclusively the condition of the Indians at the time of his visit, and bear out the statement heretofore made, that the hostiles were demoralized, both in the east and the west. An unrelenting war had been made upon them, particularly from 1868 up to this time, 1871, a period of three years, during which time the entire Apache country had been surveyed, mapped and outlined. The water holes were known to the whites; the trails were known; roads had been built through that country, and forts established in its very heart, so it is not surprising that the Indians were willing to meet the Commissioner more than halfway. Many of them had been gathered around the forts and were working, employed by the military in chopping wood and furnishing hay, which was paid for in corn, a pint cupfull at a time. The bucks cut the wood and hay; the squaws brought it in on their backs, and yet the Indians furnished it at a rate much lower than the contractors had been getting.

All through his report it is shown that the Indians, even where rations were furnished them, were half starved, and compelled in many instances to rob, steal, or die. The feeling, of course, of the whites, at that time, was bitter against the Indians, because at no time were they safe outside the settlements, unless in large bodies, and wherever an adventurous pioneer attempted to establish a home, the Indians came in and deprived him of his stock and whatever else he had of value to them.

[page 288]

It seems, according to the statements of Colyer, which are unquestionably correct, that there were gathered in over four thousand Indians, which comprised fully one-half of all the tribes which had been at war with the whites; the Coyoteros, a great many of them; the most of the Tontos; many of the Pinalenos; the Apache-Mohaves, and the Apache-Yumas. The warring tribes, those which were still ready to fight to a finish, were the Chiricahua Apaches under Cochise, with a few Mescaleros and Pinalenos; the Apache-Mohaves under Del Shay, with a few of the Tontos, and the Wallapais.

About the time that Colyer was leaving the Territory, occurred what is known as the Wickenburg Massacre, which is referred to in his report, a full account of which is given in the succeeding chapter.


© Arizona Board of Regents