Henry Stuart Turrill.

A vanished race of aboriginal founders; an address online

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No. 1 8.



A VANISHED RACE OF
ABORIGINAL FOUNDERS




STEADFAST FOR GOD AND COFXTRV



AN ADDRESS HV

BRIG.-GEXERAL HENRY STUART TURRILL, U.S.A.

Genealogist and Past Councillor-General

DELIVERED BEFORE '

THE NEW YORK SOCIETY

0\ THE

ORDER OF THE FOUNDERS AND
PATRIOTS OF AMERICA

AT THE HOTEL MANHATTAN, NEW YORK



FEBRUARY 14, 1907



Published by the Society.



No. 1 8.



A VANISHED RACE OF
ABORIGINAL FOUNDERS




STEADFAST FOR GOD AND COUNTRY



AN ADDRESS BY

BRIG.-GENERAL HENRY STUART TURRILL, U.S.A.

Genealogist and Past Councillor-General

DELIVERED BEFORE

THE NEW YORK SOCIETY

OF THE

ORDER OF THE FOUNDERS AND
PATRIOTS OF AMERICA

AT THE HOTEL MANHATTAN, NEW YORK



FEBRUARY 14, 1907



Published by the Society.



E^^



Gift
^ Sooiet? '



THE NEW YORK SOCIETY

OF THE

^ Order of the Founders and Patriots of America



■s-



OFFICERS

FOR THE YEAR ENDING APRIL Ig, I907



) — y Governor

° THEODORE FITCH

Deputy Governor

EDWARD HAGAMAN HALL

Chaplain

Rev. EDWARD PAYSON JOHNSON, D.D.

See^rtary

Col. CHARLES HITCHCOCK SHERRILL

Treastirer

MATTHEW HINMAN

State Attorney

EDGAR ABEL TURRELL

Rci^istrar

WINCHESTER FITCH

Genealogist

Brig.-Gen. HENRY STUART TURRILL, U. S. A.

Historian

CLARENCE ETTIENNE LEONARD

Cotuicillors

I 904-190 7

Col. henry WOODWARD SACKETT

THEODORE OILMAN

COLGATE HOYT

1905-1908

CHARLES WATERMAN BENTLEY WILKINSON

Col. RALPH EARL PRIME

WILLIAM ALLEN MARBLE

1906-19C9

Major-Gen. FREDERICK DENT GRANT, U. S. A.

GEORGE CLINTON BATCHELLER

HENRY WICKES GOODRICH



A Vx^NISHED RACE OF ABORIGINAL
FOUNDERS



Mr. Governor^ Ladies and Gentlemen, and Associates of ilie Order of
the Founders and Patriots of America :

If a right-angled triangle were to be erected in New Mexico,
the base along the Rio Grande from Las Cruces to Socoro, the
perpendicular west to near the Arizona line, the hypothenuse
from this apex to the point of departure, Las Cruces, within
this triangle is embraced some of the fairest mountain regions
that it has ever been my fortune to explore. My first visit to
this region was rather exceptional, even for the very varied
duties of an army officer on frontier duty.

Under army supervision several bands of the Apaches had
been gathered together on the eastern slopes of the Membres
Mountains, and had their agency for several years at the little
Mexican pueblo of Canada Alamosa. It was found that this
situation brought the Indians into close contact with the
demoralizing influences of the small Mexican towns along the
Rio Grande. It was, therefore, determined, if a suitable
place more remote from the settled portion of the country could
be found, to establish a reservation and build an agency and an
army post and to remove these Indians to it. A Board consist-
ing of the Commanding Officer of the District of New Mexico,
the Indian Superintendent of New Mexico and Arizona and
myself were appointed to examine and select a proper spot for
such an establishment.

The only road (other than Indian trails) that led into this
region was an old, little used wagon trail that led from Rio
Grande across the Leuerra Plains to the Little Colorado River
in Arizona. The two senior members of the Board were of an
age that rendered travel on horseback over the exceedingly
rough Indian trails of the mountains extremely disagreeable,
if not dangerous. So it was determined that I should go with
the Indians to such places as they were satisfied with, and,
when a spot was found that I should deem suitable for the pur-
pose, find a road to the spot and guide the party to it for a final
consideration of the matter.



I had picked up a sort of polyglot language, consisting of
English, Spanish, Apache and Navajo words, with quite a bit of
" sign talk " that rendered communication with the Indians easy;
indeed for a long time my name among these Indians was " Big
Soldier Man that Talks Apache."

And thus alone with more than a hundred of the wildest
Indians of the frontier for weeks I roamed through this beautiful
Indian paradise. I must say for my wild entertainers that never
in all my service have I received such constant care for my per-
sonal safety. Did we come to a difficult bit of the mountain
trails, a stalwart savage was at my pony's head and another had
hold of his tail, and the whole procession was stopped until I
was safely down, for fear that some rock might be detached by
those following and I be injured by its fall, Loco saying "that
I must not be hurt, as it would be laid to the Indians and would
make trouble."

The Mogollion Mountain range, extending along the southwest
side of the triangle, from the northwest to the southeast, and
presenting for almost its entire length a bold, rocky wall, whose
cloud-capped peaks seem like a curtain around the land to cut
it off from the sweltering heat and choking sand storms of the
Gila and San Francisco valleys, and the great sweltering plains
of southwestern New Mexico.

Many a longing look has been cast from the crawling wagon
trains or the ancient overland coach, as they dragged their
weary way day after day across these dreary wastes to the land
beyond those cloud-capped peaks, and visions of flashing rills
and cool shades have surged through the fevered brains of the
thirst-maddened toilers.

At the base of the triangle extending from Socoro to Las
Cruces winds the Rio Grande, an occasional flash of brown
waters, through the broad belt of vivid green of its cottonwood
embowered valley, the brown foothills of the Membres range
gradually rising to the deep green of its pine-clad summit. On
the northern side, or the perpendicular of the triangle, extending
from Socoro to the Arizona line, stand a line of sentinel peaks,
the Sierra Magdalena, the Picacho Mogino, the Sierra Leuerras
and the Sierra Dactil, each guarding a green valley that winds
from the north into this paradise of mountain life. Within this
triangle are three distinct mountain chains, the Mogollion. the



Tularosa and the Membres range, with innumerable detached
peaks and intervening valleys.

In this region three rivers of considerable size have their
origin, the Gila, the San Francisco and the Membres. On the
eastern slope of the Membres range five or six small streams
flow down to the Rio Grande. The fountain head of these rivers
are innumerable little springs and fountains, welling out from
under some moss-covered rock, a little thread of bright water
joining with other threads and winding and twisting in the deep
shade, fretting and foaming over the gray and red rocks, for all
of this region is of the old granite and sienite formation ; then
rippling more sedately through broader valleys, under the shade
of the centuries-old pines, their massive brown columns rising
more than a hundred feet in air and supporting an almost
impenetrable roof of green foliage and affording a most delight-
ful shade for the denizens of the region, man and animal alike.
At intervals these valleys open out into broader savannas, a
billowy sea of waving bent grass, wild rye and oats, and as the
streams enlarge by the joining of many of these mountain brooks
the valleys narrow and are filled with dense groves of the Amer-
ican acacia. The bordering rough granite foothills are covered
with the "tuny," the " mescal " and " yucca" up to their '' piiion"-
covered summits.

The animal life of this region was as varied and abundant as
the vegetable. Through the thickets and over the rough hills
the American " grizzly " (the acknowledged king of the animals
of the western wilds) unmolested took his way, with his little
less formidable cousin, the cinnamon bear, supreme in the animal
kingdom. The elk, the mule or black tailed deer and the red or
fallow deer cropped the sweet mountain " gramma " or wandered
at their own sweet will over the plains or through the close-
covered thickets of those mountain valleys. The large timber
woU, the dreaded " lobo," with the mountain lion, took second
place in control of the region, while the bobcat and ocelot with
the despised coyote took a much lower place, and were only a
terror to the mountain rats and rabbits and the bird life of the
region, and these were not lacking, for the call of the wild
turkey and the drumming of the ruffed grouse was heard from
every thicket, and the blue, the tufted and the mecena quail
literally covered the country, so that the life of these minor



8

marauders was one of ease and plenty. In the mountain meadows
where it was possible the industrious beaver had built his dam
and fashioned his snug house, admitting to a tolerated acquaint-
ance the muskrat, the otter and the mink, and here they lived
in perfect accord with the myriads of brown-spotted trout, at
least did the beaver and muskrat, for it is probable that the otter
and mink dined often upon their finny friends.

For unnumbered ages the bright sun warmed this land ; the
gentle showers brought into existence all of this world of green
and gold. The mighty pines, that were the product of centuries,
grown old and riven by some mountain storm, sank to slow
decay, to be replaced by a new creation.

At last into this smiling land came a new factor, Man. The
first rude traces of his occupation are to be found on that won-
derful mesa of southern Colorado and in the cliff dwellings of
Cafion Chelly, these so far in the dark ages of the past that no
estimate of their age can be made. That they lived and toiled
for years, probably for centuries, is all the record that they have
left.

After them another wave of Founders came from the north to
the land, the Aztec. This first great tide swept southward,
leaving little islands of semi-civilization where conditions were
satisfactory and ending in the empire of Mexico. The region
in this land that they chose for their abiding place is on a line
across New Mexico and Arizona to the Pacific, from a point
somewhat north of Las Vegas, and on the south, from the ruins
of the Grand Quivero, near the northern point of the Sierra
Blanca, westward to the Pacific. Within this region they built
many of their many-storied villages, of which some remain to
this day, with all of the customs and the religion of that far-off age.

Again long years must have passed, and while yet in the dark-
ness of pre-historic times came another wave of Founders, this
an entirely primitive man, a thorough and complete savage, the
Apache, inventing nothing, copying little from their more intel-
ligent neighbors ; they are passing away, the most complete
type of savage man. Their numbers were not large, but their
cunning and warlike qualities enabled them to maintain their
existence against their much more numerous and intelligent
neighbors, the Aztecs. They early discovered the Indian para-
dise just described and there they fixed their home. They were



from the first and always have been a mountain Indian, and as
their numbers increased, as with few warlike tribes about them
they were bound to do, the surplus sought other mountains and
established other families. The Mescalero, the Jigarilla, the
White Mountain and the Tonto Apaches thus came to be bands
of the Apache nation, and so the nation came into existence.
But always and as long as they could maintain their hold on it
this favored land was considered their home.

There had been but little effort on the part of the Aztecs to
occupy this part of the country. The ruins of the Corona del
Pueblo, near Socoro, and a small ruined pueblo in one of the
upper valleys of the San Francisco were all the evidences of
Aztec occupation that I have ever seen in the Apache country.
This ruin in the San Francisco valley was of very ancient date.
Standing by the ruin with Loco, a more than ordinarly intelli-
gent chief of the Apaches, I asked him : "Who were these people?"
Waving his hand toward the north, he said : " Montezuma ! long,
long ago my people drove them away."

For long years, probably for centuries, if the traditions of
both people can be trusted, the Apaches lived somewhat in
accord with their Aztec neighbors to the north and south of
them, and their bands spread as far east as the mountains on the
west of the Pecos valley, and west through the mountain region
of Arizona as far as the Colorado, The mutual desire to share
in the rich hunting regions of the buffalo country, from which
they were alike driven by the more numerous and active tribes
of the Indians of the plains, led to an armed neutrality at home
and an active co-operation for war upon the plains and formed
as much of a bond of friendship as could be expected between
two such dissimilar peoples.

Nearly four hundred years ago there came to this land, to the
Aztec and Apache alike, a most wonderful happening. The
Apache from his mountain fastness and the Aztec from the top
of his many-storied stone house saw slowly winding up the
valley of the Rio Grande a glittering train, that wound like a
great serpent into their land. It would have been impossible to
have flashed a greater wonder upon these people. Here was a
band of beings who controlled and produced at will the thunder
and lightning, that so much dreaded natural element, the wrath
of an offended God, to the savage mind ; who, clad in shining



raiment, flashing like the sun, were carried with the speed of the
wind upon creatures the like of which their wildest imagination
had never conceived. No wonder that the Apache believed
that the Montezuma of the " stone house people " had come out
of the sun to his faithful followers and that certain destruction
awaited them, the Ishmael of the land.

This certainly was a most memorable meeting, the crudest of
the stone age, the obsidian arrow head, lance point and knife,
matched against the steel-clad warrior on his barbed charger,
the flash of his gleaming lance mingling with the duller but
more sinister gleam of his Toledo blade. It is no wonder that
after a few encounters with the mailclad followers of Alvara
Munez (Cabreza de Vaca), when, in 1536, they first swept over
the country, that the Apache quickly fled to the shelter of his
mountains and left his Aztec neighbor to the mercy of his God.

In the succeeding invasions of Juan Vasquez de Coronado, in
1539 and 1540, and of Juan de Onate, in 1598 and 1599, all of the
Aztec villages were brought under Spanish rule. The Apache
in his mountain strongholds alone remained unsubdued. Evi-
dence is not wanting that in some of their encounters with the
Conquistadors the Apache came off with the honors of war. I
have on one or two occasions found among them genuine old
Toledo blades, used as lance heads, and on one of them, even
after the lapse of centuries, could be traced among the blue
wavy lines of the genuine Toledo, in quaint old Spanish text,
the inscription, " Draw me not without cause, sheath me not
without honor." This old blade was the pride of its Indian
possessor and treasured as evidence of his family's valor in the
" old times."

After a few attempts at conquest by the soldiers, and of con-
version by the priests, and finding that neither gold nor souls
were to be won, these hardy warriors were left in comparative
peace in their mountain strongholds. In the old manuscripts of
the mission period of New Mexico and Arizona the soldiers seem
o have regarded him as a good fighting man, the conquest of
whom might afford some credit to his arms. To the priest,
however, he was ever an object of the greatest abhorrence, and
the kindest names that could be found for him in their descrip-
tion were " the mountain devils," "children of the devil," with-



IJ

out souls, and fully akin to their great captain, the North
American grizzly.

Through the entire time of the Spanish occupation of the
country the Apaches seem to have held their mountain homes,
with only occasional encounters with the soldiers of Spain. A
rather interesting document exists among the very early records
of the church at El Paso, Mexico. It is an order by the Span-
isli commander (at the request of the head of the Church) to a
commandante in the Spanish service to take two hundred and
fifty soldiers and to go to the great pine forests on the " Rio
Bravo" and to there cut and prepare the "vegas"for the church
then being built at El Paso. This order was dated September,
1627. At the bottom of this order is the report of the com-
mandante, saying that he had gone up the "Rio Bravo " a great
distance, more than sixty leagues, to the pine country, where he
fixed his camp and cut and prepared the timber for the next
high water in the river; that, owing to the many alarms and at-
tacks from the wild men of the mountains, it was the Spring
rise of 1629 before he was able to complete his task and bring
the timber to El Paso. This camp must have been about the
mouth of the Cuchillo Negro. On the head waters of this river
had long been the principal village of the Apaches, and this
document furnishes the evidence that at this early date these
mountain warriors had to be taken into account, even by the
veterans of Spain. I would say that those same vegas still sup-
port the roof of the church in El Paso.

After the establishment of the Republic of Mexico and the
departure of the Spanish soldiers the Apaches seem to have been
much more a power for evil. The new government seems not
to have held them in check as had the Spanish. Here came to
front an Indian family that has, I think, no parallel in our In-
dian history. We have records of the lives of many illus-
trious Indians, nature's great men; but these rarely are great
for more than one generation, of much less consequence in the
second and disappearing in the third. During the period from
the establishment of the Republic of Mexico and the close of the
Mexican War, when the country passed to the control of the
United States, the deeds of an Apache chief spread terror along
the settlements of the Rio Grande from El Paso to Santa Fe.



His home was on the upper waters of one of the small rivers
that flow to the Rio Grande from the eastern slopes of the Mem-
bres Mountains. His name, Cuchillo Negro, signifying Black
Knife, carried terror through all the Mexican and Indian pueblos
in all the surrounding countr}^ He was the most advanced in
the rude civilization of the country of any Apache chieftain that
had preceded him. Recognizing the added comforts that the
crude agriculture of the country gave to even the hunting In-
dian, and not wishing to have the trouble of wresting the scanty
crops from his surrounding neighbors, with his hardy warriors
he would sweep down on some Mexican hamlet and carry the
entire population off to his mountain stronghold, and there hold
them as slaves, compelling them to dig asequias and cultivate
for his use the crops common to the country. The evidences of
this cultivation still existed in and about his village at the time
that I first saw his country. He was living at the time of
General Harney's conquest of the country in 1848, but was said
to have been a very old man at that date and to have died about
1853 I was never able to learn much of him, as the old Mexi-
cans always spoke of him with " bated breath " as "muy malo,"
and the old trappers and plainsman like Kit Carson, St. Vrain
and Frank de Lisle (the two last I knew intimately) never ven-
tured into his country. He was ever known as the most terrible
scourge that the country had ever known. The Indians and
Mexicans both claimed that he came of a long line of chieftains,
the Indians saying that his family had always been the head of
the Apache nation. At his death he left two sons. The eldest,
Mangus Colorado, succeeded to the chieftainship of the tribe,
while the second son (whose name I was never able to learn) was in
command of a band of considerable strength. Mangus Colorado
had one son, Castile, who on Mangus' murder in the guardhouse
at Fort Bayard in 1864 became the head of the tribe. Castile
was killed in an engagement with the Eighth U. S. Cavalry in
1868, leaving the chieftainship of the tribe to his cousin Cochise,
who was the head of the tribe until his death in 1882-3. He was
succeeded by his son, known to us as "young Cochise"; what
other name he had we never knew. He was killed by renegade
Indians within the first year of his accession to the head of the
tribe, which had then shrunk to a sm.all band of old men and a
few women and children.



J3

Thus in thirty-six years of American rule every member but
two of this family that for many years, perhaps more than a cen-
tury, had ruled this tribe had met a violent death at the hands
of the Americans.

With the discovery of gold in California, a route of travel to
the Pacific Coast, the Old Southern Overland, was quickly es-
tablished, and the crawling wagon trains and the primitive over-
land coaches were dragging their weary way over these arid
plains to the land of gold. From the first, quite amicable rela-
tions were maintained between these wayfarers and the Indian
inhabitants of the country, particularly with the Overland stage
line. A w^ell-authenticated story is told of an encounter between
a station keeper at one of the company's stations and Cochise.
This station keeper had long had very friendly relations with
Cochise, and the exchange of game for tobacco and ammunition
had long been the custom between them. On one occasion the
station man found an Indian stealing corn from the company's
storehouse. He drove him off, administering a sound kick as he
went, which much accelerated his departure. The next day
Cochise appeared with a number of his father's band and made
complaint of the bad treatment of his follower. The station
keeper acknowledged the violence used, but said that the man
was a thief, and that instead of shooting him, as he had a right
to do by Indian law, he had kicked him out of camp. If he was
not satisfied with his treatment, he would do as they did in his
country when one had struck another a blow. They would stand
up and fight it out. Cochise should put his man up at a dis-
tance of fifteen paces, giving him whatever arms he wanted, and
at the v/ord, to be given by Cochise, they should commence to
fight in any way that they wished until one or the other was
killed. To this Cochise assented as perfectly fair and they pro-
ceeded to do so. The Indian, when he saw how the thing was
going, concluded that his honor could be better soothed by a
present of tobacco. To this Cochise would not agree, telling
the Indian that he was a thief, had lied about it, and now was a


1 3

Online LibraryHenry Stuart TurrillA vanished race of aboriginal founders; an address → online text (page 1 of 3)