Chapter Fourteen: Forebach
One evening up at the cow ranch, Huse Ward and myself were cooking our supper, when two men, one a German and the other an American, rode up and asked if they could camp there. I gave them permission to do so. They had a couple of pack horses and a pretty fair camping outfit, but they didn't look like prospectors.
I invited them to eat, and they accepted the invitation. As we had a fresh pot of beans, all we had to do was put a little more water in the coffee, and by the time they were unsaddled, we were ready to sit down to supper. They introduced themselves as one Forebach, who kept a store at Blackwater on the Gila river and on the Pima reservation, the other as a man named Clark, a friend of Forebach's, and a resident of Casa Grande, a little town on the Southern Pacific railroad, about twenty miles from Forebach's store.
As it was quite cold, and looked like a storm, I invited them to bring their beds into the house and sleep there. We sat around the kitchen fire that evening, and Forebach commenced by saying that several years ago he was up through this part of the country and came by the ranch. There was with him another German, whose name I have forgotten, and who worked for him around the store. It was really a trading post, as he took in at least ten dollars in goods to one in cash mostly in wheat; that an Indian known as Watski, but whose name was Wat, meaning in Pima cigarette, whose parents had died when he was about eight years old, and whom he took to raise and help around the store, left and took to himself a squaw. He moved to a farm, and as the squaw was a good worker, he soon had a wickeup and a fence around his little place as well as a ditch to irrigate, and several little cigarettes.
One day he came to the post and said he knew where there was a rich silver mine; that at least, he thought it was silver, and if I would go with him, he would show me the mine. Forebach went with him, and he showed what afterwards was named the Vekol. It was southwest of Blackwater, where the trading post was located. Some prospector had been there and left a monument and notice so they came back to Blackwater without doing anything about it. Some time after that he told Dr. Walker about it and took him down there, and Walker located it.
Wat appeared to fell sorry for Forebach, and told him he thought he knew where there was another silver mine, and that he wanted to show it to him. Forebach took along a German who was visiting him at the store, and located what he called the Owl's Head, from a rock that jutted out above the mine, which looked like an owl's head. They did some work on this mine and sold it for ten thousand dollars, but he had to split with his partner. After deducting cost of work and cost of sale, he did not get much out of it.
Things ran along and competition became very keen, the Indians improving very much as traders. he could see bankruptcy staring him in the face, when Wat came to the store and said, "Forebach, if you will go, I think I can show you the kingpin of all the mines, if it is gold, and I think it is." Then he told Forebach that Antonio, their chief, and a bunch of Pima warriors, went up in the Superstition mountains on the warpath after the Apache Indians. The Superstition mountains was Apache territory up to the base, and all west and south was Pima territory, but every once in a while, the Apaches would make a raid on the desert Pima territory, round up a bunch of horses and flee to the Superstition mountains with them, where on account of the roughness, they felt safe, as the Apaches were much better fighters in the mountains than the Pimas. But let the Pimas get the Apaches out on the desert, and they usually whipped them.
After the Apaches made a raid on the Pima horses, the only redress the Pimas had was to carefully plan an expedition and organize a much stronger force than they expected to encounter, go up in the mountains (not too far back) and administer a good walloping.
The Pimas were very brave, but always careful that they did not attack too strong a part of Apaches, and then they would ride back to their reservation and recite to those they left behind, chilrdren, old people and squaws, their individual acts of bravery. As their chief, Antonio always took charge of all scalps, it was not difficult to string a long bow. What a celebration and feast they would all have.
After all, it was a happy life. If an Indian had a squaw, or squaws, he did not have to work. Just once in a great while, he would go on the warpath but only often enough to make life worth living. Neither the Pimas of the Apaches would go on the front range of the Supersition mountains under any circumstances, not even to fight. I have the legend of the Superstition mountains as told me by old Antonio, and if this work is ever printed, I intend to include it.
Then the white men entered their lives and established agencies on the reservations, preventing them from fighting any more, and threatening them that they must be self-supporting or else the government would cease to issue them any more rations. The whites educated their children so that they were dissatisfied with the tribal life of their parents lived, and the whites would have none of them in their lives.
Now on with Wat's story: That they had jumped some Apaches and defeated them, and the Apaches went up a canyon. The Pimas felt sure they had them blocked as they did not think they could get out of the canyon on account of its being boxed above. To avoid an ambush, Antonio sent Wat and another Indian up on the side of the canyon and told them to keep abreast or just ahead of the main body down in the canyon. Wat said there were no warriors needed on the other side as it was a straight cliff, and it was pretty tough going on the other side.
All at once, he saw where there had been considerable mining work done. He picked up a piece of rock weighing about a pound, and it was full of yellow stuff. He called down to the main bunch in the bottom of the canyon that he had found a rich gold mine. Just then the Apaches began shooting. Wat does not know what he did with the rock. The Apaches got out of the canyon, but none of the Pimas knew how, as they had to go back down. It was about nine o'clock in the morning, or as near that as Wat could guess, and on their way out of the mountain, some of the Pima scouts reported that there were a lot of Apaches asleep on a table mountain just ahead. Antonio placed his warriors, ordered them to go to the top, make some noise, and brain the Apaches with their war clubs which each Pima carried. With Antonio leading, they killed twelve of the Apache warriors without firing a shot or waking an Indian.
"Now, Forbach," said Wat, "if I can find that place and I think I can, but maybe it ain't gold." And Wat took us by this house, then right on up, and we went through a gate in a fence. It was narrow, just wide enough for a horse to go through. Then we took a trail up a canyon to the left until we got to the top. There Wat stopped and said, "You can see that wash down there. Well, go down there and camp. If there is no water in sight, dig in the sand. I want to go up on this hill and get my bearings."
The other German, instead of going with Forebach, went with Wat. They got to the top of the hill, and Wat was looking around when the German spoke up (they all talked Pima) and said, "You say there is a mine in this country. Why, it can't exist here in this formation." He evidently was a formation sharp. Without saying a word, they camped there that night, had breakfast, packed up, and Forebach asked Wat which way. The Indian said, "Home." Forebach said that he thought Wat was going to show him a mine, or at least what he thought was a mine.
Wat replied "He says," pointing to the German, "there can't be any mine in this country, so we go home."
Home they went. Forebach told me shortly after, Wat went up in the Superstitions alone. He told his friends that he was going to get a deer. He went by the Whitlow ranch and took the trail by the house that we were then in and then the trail that we took when I was with him, but he could not find the mine. Whether he was telling the truth about his not being able to find it, Forebach was in doubt, knowing the Indians as he did. That Wat was afraid to go to the mine, Forebach had not doubt, but why he did not know.
Now Wat was headed toward where I had come to the conclusion that the mine must be. I am just as positive now as I was then, that it is there in that small area. Mr. Sims Ely, Sr., who has been interested with me in late years in gathering information as well as hunting for the mine must have arrived at the same conclusion. His address is Phoenix, Arizona.
Forebach wound up his story by asking me if I knew of such a trail as he had described. I told him that I did. He asked me if I would go with them over that trail in the morning. I said we would both go, Huse Ward and I. He thanked me, and as it was getting pretty late to stay up on a cow ranch, we all proceeded to pound our ears on our respective pillows.
The next morning Ward got our pack and horses ready while I was cooking breakfast, and we struck out and finally came to the gate. Forbach was very much surprised and said, "Why, that is the gate that Wat and I went through and we had been traveling five miles to get to it." I supposed all the time that Forebach recognized the country, but a short time after that I really was surprised that he recognized the gate. It is a fact (I have found out since many times) that the bump of location on the average Dutchman's head is a dent. After that, Forbach did not recognize any of the country or trail. When I stopped on the top of the pass and pointed down to where he had camped, he didn't know. When I pointed to the hill that Wat and the German climbed to the top, he didn't know. When we went one mile beyond where they had turned back for home, I suggested that he and Wat had come over this trail, he didn't know, after telling me the night before just where they had camped and where they had burned back.
I had shown him where that was at the time as we were on the trail to the Tortilla ranch, owned and built by Jack Fraser who was running the JF iron. There was a corral there and a small rock house about eight by eight on the inside and built by cow punchers, who evidently were not stone masons. It had a dirt floor and a small fire-places in the end of the room opposite the door which was made of wood. They never had built a fire in the fireplace for the fear of setting fire to the door. The floor in the house was all dug up and occupied by polecats, centipedes, tarantulas, scorpions, etc.
We arrived at Tortilla and made camp as it was getting pretty cloudy. All slept outside, as we had plenty of canvas, and we hobbled our horses and turned them loose. When we awakened in the morning, there was about four inches of snow on the ground. Forebach and I got breakfast, while Ward and Clark went for the horses. In a little while, Clark returned and said he could not find them, but he though Ward had struck their trail. We started to eat breakfast when Ward came in pretty well out of breath, saying that he had struck the horses' trail where they were going down into Fish creek, about two miles above where the Apache trail crosses it, when an old cinnamon bear with two cubs saw him. The old mother bear showed every indication of wanting to fight it out, so Ward concluded he wanted breakfast before he entered into any extended fight hence his arrival without the horses. I will say in defence of Ward that he had no gun of any kind with him.
We went back to the ranch and I asked Forebach if he thought Wat would come up with me and go over the mountains. He said he did not know but was doubtful, because he thought if Wat ever intended to show it to anyone that he himself, would be the one. I then asked Forebach if he would give me a letter to Wat. He said he would gladly.
When we got to the ranch, he wrote a letter to Wat, saying who I was, and said anything he could do for me would be appreciated. While riding toward the ranch Forebach said that Wat had told him that while going into the mountain with the war party, on the trail was a rag and there was a lot of gold in it, and it looked as though it had fallen from a saddle, as the rag was bursted and the gold somewhat scattered; that the party stopped, and the medicine man who always went along when there was a war party, decided that it was dropped by the enemy for the purpose of killing all who rode or walked over it. So they built a trail about it, which took them most of the day, and they all got by safely. Forebach said that Wat pointed to the place where they built the trail around it. I did not know at the time that Forebach had sold his trading station and moved west of the Casa Grande, dug a well and established a cattle ranch.
Well, in two or three days Ward and I hitched up a tream and drove over to Sacaton where the agency had its headquarters. It also had a school. J. Roe Young was the agent. I introduced myself and hold him my object in visiting him, and asked him if he would help me, and he said in any way he could. I told him that I would like to talk with Wat, and asked him if he could give me directions as to the best way to find him. He thought the better way would be for him to send one of his policemen for him. I had intended to go to Forebach's store and ask him to be the interpreter, but I discovered that he was not available. Young sent for Wat and also an interpreter, a schoolboy called John.
Wat verified everything that Forebach had told me; that he, Wat could not find the mine, etc.; that Antonio was the leader of their war party at the time he found the mine; that he would not go over into the Superstition mountains with me even for pay as it would be useless; that if he could find it for anyone, he would have found it for Forebach.
I then drew a map of the mountains and asked him to put the pen on about where he thought it was that he had picked up the rock. After staring at the map quite a while, he shook his head no. I told him that was all, and asked the agent to send for Antonio. The policeman reported that Antonio was away and would not return until late that night; that he had left word for him to come up in the morning.
I forgot to mention that Wat said that the brother of the man who was with him up on the side of the canyon was still alive; that Wat had heard that he said he thought he could find the mine from hearing his brother describe the locality. I asked this Indian's name, and John, the interpreter said he knew where he lived and that he would go with me to his house the next day, as it was too far to go then.
The next day Antonio came and when J. Row Young pointed me out, one would have thought I was a long-lost brother. We immediately went into session. He knew where my cow ranch was and also remembered when the fight took place. He gave me to understand that he was the kingpin warrior of the bunch, and the feats of bravery he performed were too numerous to mention. He tried to give them in detail and I really had almost to use force to head him off. That there were any Apaches still alive one could hardly believe.
I pulled my map of the mountains on him, handed him the pen and asked him to put the mark where Wat picked up the rock. After looking at it a long time, he told me the map was wrong. I asked him to correct it. After talking a long time, he did, and he was correct. But I could not get him to place his mark on the spot where the fight took place. It was getting late and I was pretty well disgusted. I told John to ask him if he would come up in the morning, and he promised he would.
J. Roe Young was much interested, as no matter where we went to talk, J. Roe would appear very shortly. The next morning, Antonio put in his appearance, and as soon as he saw me began talking. The mere fact that we had no interpreter made no difference. I tried to get him to wait until John showed up, but no go. It must have been that at home his squaws had been doing all the talking and this was his first inning for some time. John soon came, and at it we were again until afternoon.
Then I threw up both hands and asked John if we could drive down to see Henry that day, and he said we could. Henry was the name of the Indian who was with Watt upon the side of the mountain. We got along fine with Henry. I asked him if he would come to my ranch, and he wanted to know how much I would pay him. I told him a dollar a day from the time he left home until his return. He said he would come only his horse had no shoes on. I told him I would furnish him with a good shod horse at the ranch; that he could ride his horse to the ranch and there change; that his horse would be fed barley no matter how long we were gone. He did not appear to be at all enthusiastic. His next question was, "How do I know I will get my money?" I solved that by saying that I would leave a twenty dollar gold piece in the hands of J. Roe Young, and when he started for home, I would give him an order on J. Roe for his money.
He talked that over with John for some time, and finally agreed to come to the ranch the following Thursday, but he informed me that he would first find if J. Roe had the money, which I said was OK. I wish to say here that if you had been buncoed as often as those Indians have by the white man, you wouldn't trust a white man either, not even a cattleman.
We left then and when I arrived at Sacaton, there was Antonio. He got hold of me and led me to his house, not where h lived, as his home was several miles down the river. Sometime before, an order had gone forth from the Indian department that the Pima Indians should build houses, quit their wickeups and live like the whites. The Indians objected on the ground that it took so much more wood to heat a house than it did a wickeup. The wood was getting scarce, and their poor squaws were already overworked to gather wood for their wickeups, having to pack it on their backs.
Then the bright mind in the Indian department suggested that every Indian who built a house would receive a new wagon and a set of harness. So Mr. Indian would go to the agency and ask for his harness and wagon. He was asked if he had moved into his new house. If he had not, he was told he would have to move in before he could apply for his harness and wagon. He would move in and apply again for his harness and wagon and handed a blank to fill out. Frequently, the first day the Indian got his harness and wagon, he moved back into the wickeup.
This house of Antonio's was what they called a "wagon house." It had one room about twelve feet square, dirt roof and dirt floor. The only advantage it had in cleanliness was that it had dirt, top, bottom, and sides, where the wickeup had only a dirt bottom, but the family could ride to town in state with their new harness and wagon, the envy of all eyes. There was a great building boom on the Pima reservation. Antonio's house had a half window of solid wood. He unlocked the door to this house and motioned for me to enter. As John, the interpreter, started to follow, Antonio stopped him and John stayed outside.
Antonio opened the window, and in the house was a single box. It looked like a seaman's chest. Antonio unlocked the padlock, raised the top, and the chest was very nearly full of herbs. He scraped some of them aside, and below were a whole lot of scalps, Apache scalps, judging from the long black hair. He would hold one up, comb the herbs out of the hair with his fingers and let the herbs drop back into the chest, all the time, of-course, he was telling me how he got this one, and from his actions what weapon he used in getting it. His old eyes would sparkle, and he would carefully put the scalp back in the herb in the chest. There were as many as fifty, perhaps more.
Ward and I went over to the ranch to await Henry. We waited until Sunday, and no Henry, so I suggested that we drive over to Sacaton to find what the trouble was. One of the first Indians I met was our interpreter John. He told me that J. Roe had taken my Indian Henry, sent for him and about a dozen other Indians, his oldest boy Herndon, his secretary, old Cker, and told them and the men and sent them up into the Superstition mountain to look for the mine; that they left Thursday morning and were instructed that if anyone asked, that they were looking for stolen horses. J. Roe did not go with them but was away and not on the reservation.
We drove about a mile above the Agency and made our camp. When we finished supper it was very nearly dark, and I told Ward that I would meander down to the agency, as the party should be getting back soon; that he should hitch up the team as soon as he had finished the dishes, pile everything in the wagon and be ready to start out, as possibly we could drive to Phoenix that night, a distance of about forty miles.
I was sitting on a bench in front of the agency's office thinking thoughts, when I heard yelling and many shots down the lane, which was the road to the agency from the north side of the river. Pretty soon up rode all of the white men who had been out on the expedition. One of them ate in front of the office, and some went on over to the boarding house. Some of their stolen plunder was taken into the office and left there. There was a gunney sack about a quarter full, which I judged to be ore. The rest, bedding, etc., was unloaded at the boarding house, and it also contained a gunney sack partly full.
They all unsaddled their horses except Herndon who turned his horse over to the corral boss, and sat down on the bench with me. It was then about eight thirty, and I immediately took the boy into my confidence until he disclosed where they had camped; that they had brought back some rock; that he couldn't see anything in it, and that it looked just like all the other rock in the neighborhood; that the Indians did not go prospecting with them but told them where to go and get gold.
The Indians all took the Charlebois trail, from Marsh valley to the top of Peters mesa, and said they were going to hunt deer; not a likely story, as they had no guns and they made enough noise to run all the deer out of the country. I got this information little by little and furnished the names in my own mind as soon as I became certain.
Herndon did not know the names of any points in that country. The only name he had was Goldfield, which was and is on the Apache trail about twenty-five miles east of Mesa. We were enjoying ourselves, smoking my good cigars when the secretary came along. He never said "hello" or recognized me in any way but told the boy it was time for him to go to bed and to keep his mouth shut. (Even I kept mine shut, and have felt proud of it ever since."
The boy made no move to go but stood in front of us. He told Herndon to come as he was not going to wait much longer; so the boy got up and followed him over to the boarding house, none of us saying a word. I sat there a little while, and everything was as quiet as death, not a soul in sight and the moon shining brightly. I had already made up my mind to see the ore in that sack. I waited about fifteen minutes, got up and tried all the doors and windows on the secretary's office, and they were locked or fastened. I then strolled slowly over to the blacksmith's shop, and in the scrap pile I picked up a bar of iron that had a sharp point, went back to the office, got the point under the lower sash, put a small rock under the bar and on the window sill. I succeeded in breaking a window pane. It made in my ears enough noise to awaken the whole agency, but no one showed up. I raised the sash and crawled through the window and struck several matches before I located the sack. I lifted it up and it contained nothing but tin cups, knives and forks; so the ore must have been taken into the boarding house in the other gunny sack. I walked around the boarding house and then went up to camp and we started for Phoenix. I think the outfit heard me when I was getting into the office.
We arrived in Phoenix about noon. Next day we changed the horses from the spring wagon to saddles, got another horse to pack and took the road to Goldfield. We camped that night on the highland ditch, and we had no trouble in sleeping. As evidence, Ward shot a coyote that was trying to steal our grub, and I didn't even hear it.
The next morning we got under way and struck our Indian trail just beyond Goldfield, and sure enough the natives believed that the men were looking for our stolen horses. We camped that night on Boulder creek, a tributary of LeBarge creek, and it rained a nice shower. The next morning, we took up the trail and found their camp in Marsh valley, and also, that there had been a man ahead of use that morning, presumably a prospector, as he wore hobnail shoes, and also a moccasin track that, upon examination, we decided belonged to the Apache Kid.
We knew the Kid was in that country and that he always wore a peculiarly constructed moccasin. The legislature had passed a bill authorizing the governor whose name was Oaks Murphy, to offer a reward of five thousand dollars for the capture of the Kid, dead or alive.
The hobnail track went up LeBarge and the moccasin trail was following him. our J. Roe Young's trail led down LeBarge, and they were the ones who were doing the prospecting. I told Huse Ward to trail the party until he found where they had broken rock and bring some of the rock back; that I did not think he would have far to go, and that I would follow the Kid and see what he was up to. So we each struck out in opposite directions.
I had gone only about two hundred yards, crossing the creek, when there ceased to be moccasin tracks, but the hobnail continued on up the trail. I followed up about four miles and came within sight of LeBarge spring, and there was old Pete and Herman, his oldest boy. They were eating a meal. I told them what brought my up there and for them to keep an eye open. They thanked me and invited me to eat, which I refused as I felt certain that Huse would be waiting for me with a meal.
I started back and soon found that the Kid had been following me; that in crossing the creek, he stepped on the boulders only. He evidently did not want to kill me as he had all kinds of an opportunity. I arrived in our camp, and as I thought, Huse had dinner ready. We ate, then saddled up and struck out for the home ranch. I first went with Ward and he showed me where the J. Roe party had broken their rock, and it did not amount to anything. I did not go to the reservation to see J. Roe, neither did I write him, but I did learn that he did not pay my Indian Henry or any of the other Indians anything for the trip.
One morning, about seven, he drove up in front of Kelly's saloon on Washington Street, Phoenix, in the agency's carriage. His wife was with him, and I think his daughter. he got out and went into the saloon, and I was there by the time he came out. He started to get into the carriage, when I said, "Just a moment, please." He turned and said, "Why, that is you, Mr. Bark, so pleased to see you. By the way, I inteded to mail you a check for that twenty dollars I got from you, but first one thing and then another came up, and I did not get around to it, but I am on my way to the Agency, and as soon as I get there I will mail it to you." I pulled out my watch and said, "J. Roe, I will give you just five minutes to get me that twenty dollars." He went into Kelly's saloon and came out with a twenty-dollar gold piece and handed it to me. Mrs. Young said, "Why, this is a holdup," and J. Roe requested her to keep quiet. That was the last I ever saw J. Roe Young, and by the way, I learned that Kelly never got his twenty.