Chapter Eighteen: Ned Andrews
A man came to my ranch one evening in the early nineties. He asked me if he could camp at the well overnight, and I told him he could. He had with him five of the best burros I ever saw. All of them were shod, and it was the first time I had even seen shod burros. He had a colored man with him; also, the best all around prospecting outfit I ever saw.
He told me that he was going over into the Superstition mountains and prospect for an old lost Mexican mine, called the Mine del Sombrero, and inquired if I knew where there was a butte called Sombrero Butte. I asked him if he meant the Needle. He said that he did not know it by that name and asked where this needle was. I told him.
Then he told me that he was and for sometime had been in the employ of three graduates of Columbit University, that all three of them had graduated from the same class in law. Two of them were from New York City, the other from Mexico City, where he was intending to return and practice his profession. They made and agreement that their Mexican classmate was to search the records in Mexico City and copy any record of mines located in the Gadsden Purchase, which were not being worked and supposed to be lost, and the title of which went with the purchase to the United States. The two New York lawyers would put up fifteen hundred dollars to hire some good prospector, furnish him with a cop of the records and have him run them down.
He was given a copy of three mines, two of them silver, which were located between where he then was and the Mexican border. He found both of them, but they were of no practical value, as they had both been worked out. He was going now to tackle the third and last record, which was gold and was a sole right to mine given to on Don Miguel Peralta. The four corners of the grant were the four peaks, northeast corner, the southwest corner, a monument of stone laid in mortar ten feet high and eight feet square, built as a pyramid, (mud and mortar are one word in Mexican), the southeast corner.
I was very favorably impressed with my prospector friend, as he seemed a very superior man. I met him a number of times after that while riding the range. He was very affable and always packed in barley to feed his burros, and unheard of thing to do. He told me one day that Ned Andrews, superintendent of the Phoenix water works, was his source of supply, but he had an idea that he was simply acting for the two lawyers.
As I was pretty well acquainted with Ned, it was very easy to prove that guess, which I did. He told me one day that if he could find the monument of stone laid in mortar or mud, he thought he could find the mine, but that he had given a pretty thorough search and could find no sign of it.
A long time afterward, I learned that an old Apache squaw had told George Scholey that the Apache Indians had torn it down and scattered the rocks, as they did not want any miners in there. He told me that if he could not find the mine before he left the mountains, he would give me a copy of the grant, providing I would agree to go fifty-fifty with him, which I agreed to do.
Shortly after that, one of the cowboys working for me saw a prospector friend over the mountains. He had told his cook to explore a certain cave while he was looking the country over above. The negro got pretty well into the cave when a mountain lion came from out of the darkness in the back of the cave, jumped over him and disappeared, and that my friend had lost his cook; that for him to tell Mr. Bark he was going to give up the search for the Mino del Sombrero as soon as he explored a certain canyon.
I shortly after that left the cow ranch and was away for a month. Upon my return, my friend was gone and I have never heard of him since.
There were many rumors from the cowboys that my friend was looking for and searching all the caves in the mountains, which makes me think that their description called for a cave, hole, or crack in the mountains as an entrance to the mine.
I wish to call the attention of the reader, who may be interested, in the historical part of this story to the connection of this with the J. Addison Reavis story in this book.