CHAPTER IV. THE ARRIVAL OF THE AZTEC MINING COMPANY...


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER III. MY ARRIVAL AT YUMA—DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWN... Next: CHAPTER V. ARIZONA, THE FUTURE COUNTRY OF THE STUDENT AND THE HUSBANDMAN...


[page 56]

THE ARRIVAL OF THE AZTEC MINING COMPANY—THE DENIZENS OF YUMA—WE BREAK OUR FAST—THE EXCITEMENT OVER OUR MULES—THE ‘‘YOSEMITE AND THOROUGH-BRED!’’

ON the 5th of December, 1877, Col. Wm. G. Boyle, President, and Col. J. D. Graham, Secretary of the Aztec Mining Company, arrived at Yuma with the following members of the company, and well known capitalists of the East: Alexander Wilden, Esq., of Philadelphia, Dr. H. R. Allen, of Indianapolis, founder of the great National Surgical Institute of Indianapolis, Indiana; J. K. Wallace and F. Steele of Philadelphia; Col. C. W. Tozer of San Francisco; and Col. R. H. Hinton, of the Evening Post, San Francisco, who was just completing his superb Hand Book to Arizona. In addition to these were several subordinates, such as our cook, two drivers and your humble servant. Yes! and there was another arrival not a little


[page 57]

important to the completion of the company, in the shape of eight large stalwart Kentucky mules. If the reader had been in Yuma, Arizona, at the time of the arrival of these mules he would appreciate the value of this last assertion; for to the population of Yuma this last acquisition was the all interesting one. In these eight mules was more interest to the majority of the inhabitants of this hamlet community, than any event since the arrival of the railroad in September. I venture to way that eight-tenths of the population would have given more for one of these mules than all the other things connected with our outfit, including the members themselves. I must explain here that this eight-tenths portion of the population is composed of Indians and Mexicans; and also that a genuine animal of this kind had never yet trod the virgin soil of Arizona, and considering the weakness of the Indian, and the avarice of the Mexican to possess a fair specimen of the asinine creation, you will not only comprehend the situation with them, but will appreciate our situation in keeping a fatherly eye at night on those particular mules. The excitement on the arrival of our party was as rile as on the occasion of the entrance of the first locomotive into the town. I


[page 58]

saw them both. Steaming across t e Colorado, on the new bridge, which was yet a great object of interest to the Indian and the crude Mexican, the people rushed to the depot to see us. Indians hung to the sections of the bridge, climbed on the cars, peeped in the windows, crouched themselves on the steps and platforms of the cars, and reminded one of monkeys in a ‘‘happy family’’ cage of some museum, surreptitiously at work under the ostentation of play, to find some fleeting opportunity to take advantage of, or play some trick upon their unsuspecting associates. And not only does this subtle, stoic race, with his hanging breech-cloth following after him in the wind, as he leaps from tie to brace on the bridge, or hangs from his body as he clings to a beam, in the performance of some favorite gymnastic feat, look like the monkey; but as stealthily will he play any cunning, or antics upon you at the least opportunity. They will steal a blanket or a horse with as much agility and shrewdness as a monkey will steal your hat.

Next to the Indian, the Mexican drew upon our notice. With his large sombrero, and his serappa thrown over his shoulder a la Italian, you have within you all the sentiment of visiting and being in your


[page 60]

GETTING READY FOR A PROSPECTING TOUR.


[page 61]

sister Republic—Mexico; or of some hamlet in Spain. By the way this class eyed our mules, we concluded they were his particular attention. And by the way we eyed our mules at night, you would have come to the conclusion that he was our particular attention also.

On the morning of the fifth of December then, the long anticipated trip to the Santa Ritas commenced. I had been on many an expedition; had traversed many a mountain range; and had traveled many a so-called desert of our West; but somehow this occasion had inspired me with a new zeal to analyze the country and its resources. I was up at day-break, as I used to be on the memorable Fourth of July in my boyhood. The first object that presented itself to me on coming from my room was the indefatigable Col. Graham kneeling on a roll of blankets forcing a strap to its last hole, and puffing in the attempt. So intent was he upon his important purpose to get each parcel down to its lowest notch, that he hardly noticed me at first, and when he did, it was with a careless ‘‘Oh! Have you just got up?’’ I tell you, this was heaping coals of fire on my head; for I had prided myself on being a lark in all enterprises of travel where punctuality


[page 62]

or vigilance was a necessary requisite. The next instant, turning hastily around, I stumbled against Col. Boyle who, guarding the interests and pleasure of his company, was also ‘‘up and doing;’’ but whether with a ‘‘heart for any fate,’’ or a heart for a particular fate is a question that Arizona herself will some day answer in the progress her mining developments will have made; and it may be said here, that through the earnest efforts of these two gentlemen, it seems to me the mining interest at least, of Arizona will always be identified.

Having brushed around and supplied ourselves, (in addition to perhaps the most complete and extensive commissary outfit that ever left Yuma) with such things as extra ammunition, some cheap whiskey for the Indians, some large brimmed hats a la sombrero style, and some few gew-gaws and what-nots. Then, at nine A.M. came the welcome summons to a sumptuous repast gotten up by our host Mr. Levy. A huge triangle rattled forth its notes of beefsteak and onions, eggs, frejoles and flap-jacks, with a host of other things of greater or less importance. Major Lord from the Fort on the opposite side of the river, and our facetious friend, George Tyng of the Yuma Sentinel


[page 64]

AN INDIAN COME TO TOWN.


[page 65]

were invited guests for the occasion. They were ‘‘on time;’’ and it is useless to say, in this climate, with appetites as keen and bracing as the atmosphere itself. At ten o'clock we were ready for a start. A conglomeration of individuals which suggested that this place would one day be the leading cosmopolitan city of the Union, had gathered around us with curious stare. There were half naked Indians; Heathen Chinese; primitive Mexicans; Turk, Swede, Italian, German, Jew, Gentile and Pagan; and a host of those who were nothing at all—who embodied all the characteristics of that class of people, so thoroughly identified with Americo-Mexican towns, who have nothing in view, have left nothing behind; who have always lived as they are living now— ‘‘waiting for something to turn up,’’ or until they are turned down, and harbored safely in their last resting place, where neither mortal cares nor scriptural scares, would ever trouble them more. Such was the scene that bid us an adieu from Yuma, and which was only a forerunner of scores of similar ones that awaited us throughout our journey. The Indians, on this occasion however, had a double interest. They were the Yumas, which are to-day, perhaps, one of the most


[page 66]

primitive of our nomadic tribes. Even further into the interior of the State, civilized decorum seems to be more in vogue. The men here were in the most part nude; having nothing on but a handkerchief, known as the breech-cloth, tied about the loins. While the women paid the same scant observance to the ancient doctrine of the fig-leaf, by a little skirt made of straw or calico, reaching half way down to their knees from their waists. The scene was a unique one to those of our party unaccustomed to the primitive American race. But with faculties sensitive to the force of education one soon becomes a careless observer, and passes these scenes as one of the many conditions it takes to make up a world. Such scenes as these, however, are becoming more rare every day, and Arizona is the last section of our country which offers to the curious sight-seer the nearest approach to the crude American Indian. Arizona in many interests in fact is, what Col. Graham once said to me in regard to her mining resources, ‘‘It is the American's last chance.’’ He said this with a twinkle in his eye that put a heavy weight to his meaning, which I proved to myself after, and which will be shown in the course of our travels.


[page 67]

Many scenes which are alike suggestive and interesting will have shortly passed away under the rapid stride of the railroad, of the miner's pick, and the farmer's plow and reaper.

One little incident before parting, suggestive of the prospector and his life. Two young men who had evidently got Arizona on the brain, bad, for their good, were preparing for a prospecting trip through the Territory. They were contracting for a jack (commonly known in this country as a buro) to be used as a pack animal, to carry superfluous luggage. A Spaniard had him for sale. He was drawn up before the mart. He was ‘‘an unexceptional ass,’’ the owner said, and finally parted with him for sixteen pesos. One of the young men handed the Spaniard the sixteen dollars. As the Spaniard turned to leave, I never saw a more affectionate parting between man and beast in my life. The animal was about the size of a very small Shetland pony, or that of a large, New Foundland dog. His ears would flap back and lie on his neck like a pair of oars. At his docile look toward his parting owner, as the latter patted him on the back an affectionate farewell, there was a heart-softening in all observers. The poor jack turned to follow


[page 68]

his former master, and found he was tied. His eyes rolled like two orbs on pivots, and reminded me of the agony of a bull whose head had been drawn down to the floor for the slayer's axe. He finally got his head over the rope, and watched his master as far as he could and then he bowed his head in grief. He did not rant and toss, and his sorrow seemed all the more intense for its quiet submission. O! this quiet, unostentatious grief! How it penetrates! How it forces out the human sympathies. Here on the frontier border of the desert, on the verge of the wild man's country; away from friends and home, this scene was strongly in keeping with its surroundings, and had its effect upon us. It reminded me of the parting of many a son or a husband, on an uncertain pilgrimage for fortune in our great West. Many a scalding tear have I seen trickle down a wife's cheek as a husband full of suppressed grief, would, like an Enoch Arden, muster some word of cheer for that wife—some to suffer a like fate, and some to give as great a cheer in a subsequent return, as they had caused sorrow in parting.

Finally a crack of the whip, and the promiscuous crowd around us signified that we were positively


[page 69]

off. Our coaches consisted of the two well-known style of wagons ‘‘Thorough-Bred’’ and ‘‘Yosemite.’’ Each coach was mounted with an American flag waving its stars and stripes to the breeze. Amid a clatter of voices in the Mexican, Chiuese, Indian-negro, and a mixing of tongues that suggested to me a modern Babel, and a shout of good cheer we rattled off over the sand bottom of the grand old Colorado River, for the Santa Rita Mountains some four hundred miles away. The undertaking was a ponderous one. The eight mules had been purchased in, and brought all the way from Kentucky to San Francisco, and from thence the mules, wagons, ammunition and stores had been transported by the Southern Pacific Railroad to Yuma, a distance of seven hundred miles more.

Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER III. MY ARRIVAL AT YUMA—DESCRIPTION OF THE TOWN... Next: CHAPTER V. ARIZONA, THE FUTURE COUNTRY OF THE STUDENT AND THE HUSBANDMAN...




© Arizona Board of Regents