Raphael Pumpelly.

Travels and adventures of Raphael Pumpelly : mining engineer, geologist, archaeologist and explorer online

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nursing, aided by emetics and warm water by the pailful,
and a very bitter bark probably calisaya restored
me, and, leaving a country where the men were mostly
cut-throats and the women angels, I rode toward Arizona.


AT Arivacca I found Colonel Poston impatiently
awaiting the arrival of the agent of Colonel Colt, to whom
he had transferred the lease of the Heintzelman mine.
Being both of us anxious to leave the country, we de-
termined on a journey together through the principal
mining districts, to the City of Mexico, and thence to
Acapulco or Vera Cruz. Before beginning this we vis-
ited Tubac, where we found the population considerably
increased by Americans who had been driven in by the
Apaches from the ranches of the Santa Cruz valley.

In three days we were ready to return to the Heintzel-
man mine, and the morning of the fourth day was fixed
for our final departure from Tubac. But something oc-
curred in the evening which interfered with our plans.
Just before dark a Mexican herdsman galloped into the
plaza, and soon threw the whole community into a state
of intense excitement. He had gone that morning with
William Rhodes, an American ranchero, to Rhodes's
farm, to bring in some horses which had been left on the
abandoned place. The farm lay about eighteen miles
from Tubac, on the road to Tucson, and to reach it they
passed first through the Reventon, a fortified ranch ten
miles distant, and then through the Canoa, an abandoned
stockade station of the Overland Mail, fourteen miles
from Tubac. At this place they found two Americans
cooking dinner ; and telling them they would return in an



hour to dine, they rode on. Having found the horses,
they returned, and, before riding up to the house, secured
the loose animals in the corral, and then turned toward
the stockade. Their attention was at once drawn to a
garment drenched in blood hanging on the gate, and as
they approached this a scene of destruction confronted
them. The Apaches had evidently been at work during
the short hour that had passed. Just as the white men
were on the point of dismounting, they discovered a
large party of Indians lying low on their animals among
the bushes a few hundred yards off the road. Instantly
Rhodes and the Mexican put spurs to their horses, to
escape toward the Reventon, the Apaches broke cover,
and reached the road about one hundred yards behind
the fugitives.

There were not less than a hundred mounted warriors,
and a large number on foot. About a mile from the
stockade Rhodes's horse seemed to be giving out, and he
struck off from the road toward the mountains, followed
by all the mounted Indians. The Mexican had escaped
to the Reventon, and thence to Tubac, but he said that
Rhodes must have been killed soon after they parted

It being too late to do anything by going out that night,
we determined to look up the bodies and bury them the
following day. Early the next morning I rode out with
Colonel Poston and three others to visit the Canoa.

When we came to the Reventon a Mexican was opening
the gate. As I rode in for information a door opened,
and Rhodes, smoking a long cigar, sauntered leisurely
towards me, with his left arm in a sling.

" Hello, Rhodes," I said, " we've come to bury you."

" Well, you've come too soon," he answered, laughing.

He corroborated the story of the Mexican, and told


how he managed his remarkable escape. Finding his
horse failing, and having an arrow through his left arm,
he left the road, hoping to reach a thicket he remembered
having seen. He had about two hundred yards' advan-
tage over the nearest Indians, and as he passed the thicket
he threw himself from the horse, which ran on while he
entered the bush. The thicket was dense, with a very
narrow entrance leading to a small charco or dry mud-
hole in the center. Lying down in this he spread his
revolver, cartridges and caps before him, broke off and
drew out the arrow, and feeling the loss of blood, buried
his wounded elbow in the earth. All this was the work
of a minute, and before he had finished it the Indians
had formed a cordon around his hiding place, and found
the entrance. The steady aim of the old frontiersman
brought down the first Apache who rushed into the nar-
row opening. Each succeeding brave as he tried the en-
trance met the same fate, till six shots had been fired from
Rhodes's revolver, and then the Indians, believing the
weapon empty, charged bodily with a loud yell. But the
cool ranger had loaded after each shot, and a seventh
ball brought down the foremost of the attacking party.
Rhodes dropped thirteen Indians. During all this time
the enemy fired volley after volley of balls and arrows
into the thicket. Then the Indians, who knew Rhodes
well by name, and from many former fights, called out
in Spanish: "Don Guigelmo! Don Guigelmo! Come
out and join us. You're a brave man, and we'll make you
a chief," " Oh, you , you ! I know what you'll do
with me if you get me," he answered. After this Rhodes
heard a loud shout : " Sopori ! Sopori ! " the name of
the ranch of a neighboring mine and the whole attack-
ing party galloped away.

Leaving the Reventon, we rode toward the Canoa. As



we neared it the tracks of a large drove of horses and
cattle, and of many Indians, crossed the road. Soon we
came in sight of the station, and two dogs came running
toward us. With low, incessant whining they repeatedly
came up to us, and then turned toward the entrance, as
if beseeching our attention to something there. When we
entered the gate a scene of destruction indeed met us.
The sides of the house were broken in, and the court was
filled with broken tables and doors, while fragments of
crockery and ironware lay mixed in heaps with grain and
the contents of mattresses. Through the open door of
a small house, on one side of the court, we saw a naked
body, which proved to be the remains of young Tarbox,
who had come from Maine a short time before. As in
the case of many of the settlers, the first Apaches he had
seen were his murderers. Under a tree, beyond a fence
that divided the court, we found the bodies of the other
American and a Papago Indian, who, probably driven in
by the Apaches, had joined in the desperate struggle that
had evidently taken place. These bodies were pierced
by hundreds of lance wounds.

Our small party of five took turns in keeping watch
and digging the graves. Burying in one grave the two
who had fought together, we wrote on a board : " White
man, unknown, and a Papago killed by Apaches." Over
the other grave we wrote : " Tarbox."

We had just finished the burial when a party of Ameri-
cans, escorting two wagons, rode in sight. They were on
their way to Fort Buchanan, where they hoped to discover
the caches in which commissary stores had been hidden
on the abandonment of the country. Happening to ask
them whether Mr. Richmond Jones, superintendent of the
Sopori Company's property, was still in Tucson, I was


told that he had left that town for the Sopori early on
the previous day.

It seemed that Jones might have reached the Canoa in
time to be in danger from the Indians, so we began a
search for his body in the neighborhood, and before long
a call from one of our number brought us to the spot
where it lay. A bullet entering the breast, two large
lances piercing the body from side to side, and a pitch-
fork driven as far as the very forking of the prongs into
the back, told the manner of his death. Wrapping the
body in a blanket, we laid it in one of the wagons and
turned toward Tubac. Finding the spot where Rhodes
had left the road in his flight from the Indians, Poston
and I followed the tracks till we reached the scene of his
desperate fight. The place was exactly as Rhodes had
described it, and the charco was covered with branches
cut loose by the Apache bullets, while the ground at the
entrance was still soaked with blood.

At Tubac we buried Jones. His home had been in
Providence, R. I. Like Grosvenor, a true friend of the
Indians, he fell by them a victim to vengeance for the
treachery of the white man. The cry of Sopori, raised
when the Indians left Rhodes, was now explained. They
knew that in Jones they had killed the superintendent of
that ranch, and they were impatient to reach the place and
drive off its large drove of horses and cattle before the
arrival of any force large enough to resist them. This
they effected by killing the herdsmen.

The next morning, bidding good-by to Tubac, Poston
and I returned to the Heintzelman mine. I was to pass a
week there, for the purpose of examining and reporting
on the property ; but hearing that a wagonload of water-
melons had arrived at Arivacca, and having lived on only


jerked beef and beans for nearly a year, I determined to
go on with Poston and pass a day at the reduction works.
It was arranged that two of the Americans should come
from Arivacca the next morning for letters. But the
letters not being ready, their departure was postponed
till the following morning. About an hour and a half
after these two men had left Arivacca they galloped back,
showing in their faces that something awful had hap-

" What is the matter? " asked Poston.

" There has been an accident at the mine, sir."

*' Nothing serious, I hope ? "

"Well! Yes, it's very serious."

** Is any one injured is my brother hurt?"

" Yes, they're all hurt ; and I am afraid your brother
won't recover."

My friend dared to put no more questions. The men
told me the whole story in two words " all killed."

Mounting my horse, which had already been saddled
to carry me to the mine, I returned quickly with the two
men. We found the bodies of Mr. John Poston and the
two German employees, while the absence of the Mexicans
showed plainly who were the murderers. I heard the
history of the affair afterward in Sonora. A party of
seven Mexicans had come from Sonora for the purpose
of inciting the peons at Arivacca and the mine to kill the
Americans and rob the two places. They reached
Arivacca the same day that Poston and I arrived, and,
finding the white force there too strong, had gone on to
the mine. Here they found no difficulty in gaining over
the entire Mexican force, including a favorite servant
of Mr. Poston. This boy, acting as a spy, gave notice
to the Mexicans when the white men were taking their
siestas. Without giving their victims a chance to resist


they murdered them in cold blood, robbed the place, and
left for Sonora.

They had stabbed Poston's brother and one of the Ger-
mans as they were sleeping in different rooms.

The other German, who had been our cook at the Santa
Rita, and had stood bravely by us to the end, lay rolled
up in blankets for protection from bullets fired through
the window.

Laying the bodies in a wagon just arrived from
Arivacca, we returned to that place. I found that during
my absence the peons had attempted the same thing at
the reduction works, but being detected in time by the
negro cook they were put down. That evening we had
another burial, the saddest of all, for we committed to the
earth of that accursed country the remains not only of a
friend but of the brother of one of our party.

I will add here that the accident which so nearly proved
fatal to Washburn on the desert in all probability saved
his life, since by delaying his return to the Heintzelman
mine, where he made his home, it saved him from the
general assassination.


AFTER the tragic event related in the preceding chapter,
Colonel Poston and I abandoned our proposed journey,
and determined to leave the country by the nearest open
route. The events of the past week, added to all that
had gone before, began to tell on my nerves, and I felt
unequal to the task of making a dangerous summer
journey of over one thousand miles through Mexico.

I was repeatedly urged by the officers at Fort Buchanan
to go East with the regiment as the only way of escaping.

However, the arrival of a Spaniard whom we knew
well decided our route. He brought the news that a
vessel was to arrive at Lobos Bay, on the Gulf of Cali-
fornia, to take in a cargo of copper ore. So we deter-
mined to leave with him for Caborca, on our way to
Lobos Bay. Indeed, the only route open to us lay through
Sonora, as it was out of the question for two men to think
of taking the ordinary routes through Arizona.

The day after the funeral we put our baggage into the
returning wagons of the Spaniard, and following these,
on horseback, left Arivacca. Our own party consisted
of Poston, myself, and the colored cook. Crossing the
Baboquiveri plain we passed around the southern end of
the Baboquiveri range. Here I entered again upon the
great steppe, which, stretching northward through the
Papagoria, and southwestward to the Altar River, had
so lately been the scene of our eventful journey. On the
skirt of this plain we encamped for the night.



The effect of the grand scenery and wonderfully clear
atmosphere of this strange land is to intensify the feel-
ings of pain or pleasure which at the time sway the
traveler's mind. Thus, while under ordinary circum-
stances the surroundings of this our first encampment
would have been engraved on the memory with all the
shading and coloring of a sublime and beautiful night
scene, the events of the past week formed a background
on which the picture of that night remains impressed with
all the unearthly gloom of an inferno. Above us the sky
was clear. Then a densely black cloud hid the mountain
and a storm burst. The heavens resounded with the
crash of thunder. Forked columns of lightning pierced
the darkness revealing the weird rock forms and frown-
ing cliffs of the Arizona Mountains. Then all changed
quickly; the clouds vanished and again the stars shone in
the silent night. I felt that I had left the gate of hell,
that in that half-hour, in that cloud, there had been at
work all the evil spirits that had controlled the minds of
men in the land I was leaving.

Our route lay for two or three days, as far as the Altar
River, over hard gravelly plains, generally bearing grass
and scattered mesquite trees and cacti. The Altar River
was a mere rivulet at nearly all seasons, but along its
course were many places which might become flourishing
ranches, were not all attempts at industry rendered hope-
less by the raids of the Apache. Following the river we
reached Altar, a village built of adobes, containing a
population of about 1,900 souls, including the ranches of
the immediate neighborhood. A solitary date palm was
evidence of an attempt of the early missionaries to intro-
duce fruits adapted to the climate.

On the fourth day of our journey we reached Caborca,
a village containing about 800 inhabitants. It was in the


fine old mission church at this place that the filibustering
party under Crabbe met their fate.

Here we were welcomed by an acquaintance, Don
Marino Molino, who offered us the hospitality of his
house. Much to our disappointment we learned that the
coming of the expected vessel to Lobos Bay had been
postponed for several months, and it became necessary to
choose another way out of the country. Our choice of
routes was limited to two: the one leading to Guaymas,
about 200 miles distant, and the other to Fort Yuma,
nearly as far to the northwest, on the Colorado River.

While we were in Caborca some of the former peons
of the Heintzelman mine, who had been of the assassinat-
ing party, were seen walking in conscious security
through the streets. We heard that they not only boasted
openly of their part in the murder, but that they had
formed a party of twelve desperadoes to follow and way-
lay Poston and myself, for the sake of the large quantity
of silver we were supposed to have in our baggage. Our
friends warned us of the danger, and advised us to in-
crease our force before continuing the journey. At the
same time a report was brought in by a Mexican coming
from California that Fort Yuma was to have been al-
ready abandoned, and that owing to two successive rain-
less seasons many of the usual watering places on the
desert route to the Colorado were dry. There was one
distance, he said, of 120 miles without water, and on this
some of the party to which he belonged had died from

We decided, however, on this route, as, besides leading
directly to California, it exposed us mainly to the dangers
of the desert and not of Indians. One thing caused us
much uneasiness : this was the question as to how we
should cross the Colorado River, supposing the fort were


really abandoned. That river is deep and broad, and the
current rapid; and the abandonment of the fort would,
considering the hostile character of the Yuma Indians,
necessarily cause the abandonment of the ferry also.

There was in Caborca an American, named Williams,
who had been found some weeks before, dying from
hunger and thirst, on the shore at Lobos Bay. Brought
into Caborca, and kindly treated by an old lady of that
place, he had already recovered, and was seeking an op-
portunity to leave the country. According to Williams's
story, he had formed one of a party of three who had
built a boat on the Colorado River, intending to coast
along the Gulf of California to Cedros Island, on a
" prospecting " expedition for supposed hidden treasure.
Arriving at Lobos Bay, he said, they had been wrecked ;
but he was unable to account for the subsequent move-
ments of his companions. We believed his story, and,
liking the appearance of the man, engaged him to go with
us to California, giving him as compensation an outfit
consisting of a horse, saddle, rifle, and revolver. As
soon as we had engaged a Mexican, with several pack-
mules, we were ready for our journey. Our party now
consisted of four well-armed men, not counting the Mexi-
can muleteer.

Several friends escorted us as far as our first encamp-
ment, which we reached in the night, and left us the
following morning, but not without repeatedly warning us
to keep an unceasing watch for the party that was sure
to follow us.

The first inhabited place we passed was the Coyote gold
placer, near which are the ancient Sales and Tajitos gold
and silver mines, and, in the neighboring Vasura Moun-
tains, the Coyote copper mine.

The next settlement in which we encamped was Quit-


ovac, a place which had some celebrity for its gold placers
before the discovery of that metal in California. It had
been our intention to take the route to the Colorado River,
leading through the Sonoita gold district, in preference to
passing through San Domingo. These routes, diverging
at a point a few miles beyond Quitovac, continue parallel
to each other, but separated by mountains, till their re-
union on the Gila River. When asked at Quitovac which
route we proposed taking, we had given that by Sonoita
as our choice. But as soon as we took the road in the
morning it became evident that a party of horsemen had
passed through Quitovac during the night, stopping for
only a short time. The tracks showed them to be twelve
in number, and when on reaching the fork of the trails
we found that, after evident hesitation, they had taken the
Sonoita route, we changed our plan and turned into that
leading to San Domingo, which place we reached in a
few hours. In this settlement, containing two or three
houses, the last habitations before reaching the Gila
River, we found Don Remigo Rivera, a revolutionary
Sonoranian general. Don Remigo had withdrawn with
his small force to the United States boundary, where he
was awaiting a favorable oportunity for action. Leaving
his men at Sonoita, he had come to pass a few days at
San Domingo. As this gentleman had frequently been a
guest at the Santa Rita, and at Colonel Poston's house,
we received from him a cordial reception, and dismounted
to breakfast on pinole and watermelons. While thus en-
gaged a courier rode up at full speed, and was closeted
for a few minutes with our host. This man, Don
Remigo informed us, brought news of the arrival, in the
neighborhood of Sonoita, of twelve men, whose names he
gave. It was supposed by his friends that they had come
to assassinate the general.


" That is not likely to be their object," said Don Remigo,
" since though they are cut-throats, they belong to my
party, and have served under me. It is more probable,"
he continued, " that they are following you, as I have
heard of a plot to waylay you."

Our suspicions of the morning were thus confirmed, and
the necessity of being prepared for an attack became more


SAN DOMINGO lies on the boundary, and the trail leav-
ing the ranch keeps for a few miles south of the line, and
then enters the United States territory. To this point
Don Remigo accompanied us, to show us the last water-
ing place before entering upon the desert. As we re-
turned from this spring to the road two men were seen,
who, having passed us unnoticed, were traveling north.
They proved to be two Americans, on their way to Fort
Yuma, and they readily joined us. Our party now num-
bered six well-armed men, and we felt ourselves able to
cope with fifty Mexicans. The size of our force now
rendered it possible to keep a watch without much fatigue
to any member of the party ; but our greatest danger lay
in the exposure of our animals, and consequently of our-
selves, to death from thirst. Soon we would have to
enter upon the broad, waterless region, and the bones of
animals already bordering our trail warned us of the suf-
ferings of past years.

One night, as we were skirting the desert along the
base of a barren sierra, Williams and I had fallen behind
the caravan, when my companion, from overuse of our
Spanish brandy, began to talk freely to himself. We
were just approaching a bold, high spur of the sierra,
while immediately before us the trail wound between im-
mense fragments of rock fallen from the mountains



above. Williams stopped his horse, and looking at the
rocks, said, half -aloud:

" Here's where the d d greasers overtook us, and

we whipped them."

As the man had said that he had never been over the
road before, I thought it at first only the talk of a drunken

" I thought you had never been this way before, Wil-
liams," I said to him.

" Maybe I haven't ; maybe I dreamt it ; but when you
get by that spur you'll see two peaks on the top of the
sierra. Them's the ' two sisters.' "

We soon passed the point of the spur, when, looking
toward the top of the mountain, I saw two tall rocks rising
from the crest. My interest in this man was now excited,
indeed I had already had a suspicion that he was not
what we had taken him to be. Determined to learn more,
I passed him my flask. We rode on together talking
about Sonora, though not very coherently on Williams's
part. After riding a few miles we came near some
thickets of mesquite and palo-verde trees, and I observed
that my companion had become attentive to the surround-
ings. In answer to my questions he replied :

" I'm looking for an opening on the left side of the
trail. There's a square opening with a big mesquite at
each corner, and a long branch goes from one corner
across to the other. Under the branch there's a mound,
I guess."

He rode ahead, and soon turned out of the trail.

Following him, I entered by a narrow path and found
myself with him in a square opening as he described.
The clear moonlight shone into the spot and cast our
shadows over the mound.

" He's rotten now I reckon," my companion muttered.


" I told him I'd spit more than o'nce on his grave and by
G d I've done it."

" What was his name, Williams ? " I asked, passing the
flask again.

" Charley Johnson."

'* What did you kill the poor devil for, in this out-of-
the-way place ? "

"An old grudge, about a Mexican woman, when we
were with Fremont. I told him I'd spit on his grave, and
now I've done it. We had a split here about a scarf
and I got the scarf, that's all."

" Who kept the priest's robes ? " I asked, looking him
full in the face.

At these words Williams started, and made a motion
toward his pistol; but seeing that I had the advantage,

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Online LibraryRaphael PumpellyTravels and adventures of Raphael Pumpelly : mining engineer, geologist, archaeologist and explorer → online text (page 11 of 23)