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Chapter Twenty: Barney Alexander

Barney Alexander of Phoenix, Arizona succeeded J. Roe Young as Indian agent at Sacaton. Shortly after his appointment, he met me one day in Phoenix, and knowing my cattle ranch was located in the Superstition Mountains, said, "Jim, I have an old Pima Indian over at the agency who says that he knows of an old gold mine in the Superstition Mountains, a mine that has been worked by the Mexicans for a long time, and he thinks it is very rich."

That made me listen. I asked Barney if the Indian would show it to him and me. He said he thought they would. I then asked him if he, Barney, would go with me. He said, "Yes." I then told Barney to make any arrangements he saw fit and I would remain in Phoenix until I heard from him, but for him not to waste any time, as I would have to leave Phoenix shortly. I also told him that I had a partner in hunting for the Lost Dutchman mine, Sims Ely, Sr., and that we would cut the expenses three ways.

Barney said that would be all right. I then asked him if his Indian could speak or understand any English. He said, "Not a word." As I had employed a Pima boy who was attending school at Sacaton, whose name was John, as an interpreter and he had proven very satisfactory, I advised Barney to get him; that while in my employ I had given him two dollars a day and grub, and for him to mention to John that that would be his wage. I told Barney to hire a team and spring wagon for four, bring the Indians over to Phoenix, pick me up, and I would have the grub and cooking outfit ready to lead it.

Barney arrived in due course of time, having been delayed a couple of days as the Gila and Salt Rivers were at flood stage. There were no bridges at that time, and they had considerable difficulties in crossing.

We got started next morning all OK. I wish to state here that the Pima Indian children are named when young after some peculiar habit or trait they have formed. I asked John what our friend's name was, and he and John had a regular pow-wow back and forth. Finally John said that his name in English was Kissum. Now, that isn't just exactly the way John pronounced it, but it sounded very much like it. So from now on, we will call him Kissum.

We drove up the Apache trail, through Goldfield, by Mormon Flat, and camped that evening at Tortilla Flat. After supper, I told John to ask Kissum if we were to go down into Fish Creek. After considerable crossfire, back and forth, John said, "Yes." I then asked him if we camped in Fish Creek. I took a short nap, and John awakened me and said, "Yes." I asked him if we would leave camp, go to the mine, and get back the same day. Just before we retired, John reported that we could, but Kissum said it would be some trip.

I told Barney that we were very apt to lose old Kissum during the night as several Indians had faded out on me in that way. But, much to my surprise, old Kissum was on hand for breakfast. We hitched up and struck out for Fish Creek. When we came in sight of the forty-one mile post, on the Apache Trail and just on top of the mountain before starting down the trail into Fish Creek, old Kissum wanted to know if that was the road he could see ahead about three miles. I said it was. Old Kissum then said that when he was a young man, they, the Pimas, had a fight with the Apaches down in those brakes between where we were and the forty-one mile post, and it certainly is one rough country. (That must have been at least fifty or more years ago) In the fight, he had killed an Apache in a cave down there and that there was a pretty nice Apache olla; that he had picked it up and set it on a shelf in the cave, and that he and John would strike out afoot and see if it was still there if we would wait for them where he could see the road. I said, "All right, go ahead."

They got out and we drove on, and when we got within sight of the forty-one mile post, again they were waiting for us, and old Kissum certainly had a very handsome Apache olla. (I cite the olla episode as an unusual feat in memory).

We drove on just a short distance, when John said, "Drive up in there--" a small rincon, and where the Tortilla Ranch trail joined the Apache Trail road, and the only place for quite a distance where one could drive off the road. I then said, "Now what?" Kissum said, "Unhitch." We did not go down into Fish Creek at all. I asked, "Which way now?" Kissum pointed up the mountain, along the Tortilla Ranch trail. There we were, with our horses tied to a double seated carriage, alongside a public road.

We knew nothing about our horses. If they got to pulling back, away would go our carriage, horses and all. There was nothing else in sight to tie them to. Everything we needed at that time was in the carriage.

I then asked John a second time, "Do we go down in Fish Creek or any further along the Apache Trail?" Kissum said, "No." Something had got hay wire with our interpreter or with Kissum, and I don't know to this day which it was.

(I am now trying to create an alibi for my future action)

So we all started up the hill on the Tortilla Ranch trail, and when we arrived on the top, I then asked Kissum which way, and he pointed up the hill. I asked him how far, and he said five or six miles.

I said, "The Tortilla Ranch is up there about four miles." Kissum shook his head, "Yes." I then asked him how far beyond the ranch the mine was. He said, "About two miles." I asked him in what direction, and he said "Beyond." That meant a walk of at least ten or twelve miles.

It was then about ten o'clock in the morning, and what time would be get back. Altogether, it was very disappointing to me, as I had ridden over that Tortilla country many times, and there was no sign of any veins, mineral or otherwise, in that whole country, and so I told Kissum. He said nothing. I said, "Barney, let's get back home." "All right, Jim, I guess we have been buncoed."
 

We then hitched up our team and that night we stayed at Mesa and put out team in Phil Netz's livery barn. As we were walking out of the barn, Phil spied the olla in the carriage. He picked it up, examined it, and said, "Who's olla is this?" I replied that it belonged to the old Indian. "Tell him that I will give him five dollars for it."

I said, "No use, Phil, I offered him that for it." I regret to say that the next morning the olla was gone. Phil was a very enthusiastic collector of Indian relics and pottery.

Oh, many times since then, have I wished that I had gone on with old Kissum, but at that time, I was perfectly sure that I was going to find the mine very shortly.

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