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Chapter Twenty One:
Pete Smith

Pete Smith, renegade mestizo out of Sonora and other places wherein vultures gather, came into the Lost Dutchman picture along about the time Capt. P.G. Carnet started a tunnel through the Superstition Mountains in the hope of tapping the Peralta lead. Somewhere along the trail he annexed Cua Contreras and from that time on they raveled tandem until he, and a few of his cut-trp at henchmen bushwhacked a bunch of school kids in Devil's Canyon, a few miles north of Ray, at which time he met his Waterloo like Hitler met his Moscow. Smith and several of his followers were short down like dogs by a rescue posse sent out from R Ray by the sheriff's office after one of the boys had reported the killing of his campmates who were on a week end outing. The rest were either hung at Florence or escaped to Mexico and joined their old campanero, Pancho Villa. This latter was particularly true in that case of one who on making his get-away warned Cuca that he would return and kill her if she ever told of his part in the want murder of the school boys or revealed his whereabouts.

No doubt there was the reason Cuca was silent as to what they had discovered, deep in the mountains, North of the Quarter Circle U ranch. Even a man by the name of Busboy, who lived in the big sand wash north of Hewetts ranch, was afraid to tell of the things he had heard Smith say to Cuca when he and his crowd returned from their last trip into the Superstition Mountains in search of the much-touted Peralta mines. His knowledge of Smith's affairs in connection with the mine was given me after I had assured him that Antonio and the others had been killed in the Columbus raid. Even then he hesitated to tell me the conversation he had overheard between Pete and Cuca after Pete had made his bombastic appearance, overjoyed, and with several hundred pounds of coal-black ore, literally covered with splotches of gold, so closely matted in the rock that it would be impossible to touch the rock with a fingertip without touching virgin gold.

When Cuca asked Smith where he had found it he told her they had found the mine at the picacho and that it was very rich and that they were headed for the reduction plant at Ray to sell the ore, which they did, and proceeded to get drunk, which had everything to do with the deplorable tragedy of Devil's Canyon, but not before he had taken Cuca to the place, or at least told her the exact locality of their find.

All this happened around 1913, but right after that, Tom Rice came into the picture with a story which he told to me about Cuca wanting to tell him where the mine was. She was afraid to go with him because of the inherent superstition of her race. Hadn't her man died because he had found this forbidden gold--would not she too die if she went there, and with the perversity of a women's nature she had told Tom all about it and had given him minute directions whereby he could make the grand traverse into the forbidden hills and get himself killed.

Tom at that time was breaking horses on the Dwight B. Heard ranch, south of Phoenix and indecently, Cuca and her current spouse were working at the ranch also, so they were thrown into close association for quite a while, and, during all those months she had filled Thomas full of weird tales of hardship and adventure that she has undergone in company with Pete Smith and his campaneros until Tom was ready for most anything if he could get a partner and being available at that time, and ready for most anything that would lead me to the lost el dorado I took on like a bull pup to a root and Tom Rice and I made a two weeks trip into the Superstitions in the heat of July, but of course, came out empty handed but a lot wiser.

1811 give you the most important details of a letter I have here, written to my by Cuca Contreras in answer to one that I wrote her after she had left the Heard ranch to live in the city of Angele.

"Go to the Weavers Needle" she instructs, "then go about a mile and a half east, then look to the south in the head of a canyon that leads past Barkley's house." Sounds easy does it not? But believe me its not easy for there's a helluv lot of canyons that lead into the canyon that runs past Barkleys house; in fact it takes in the whole ridge for about three miles and there are several dozen canyons that head in that ridge and empty into the canyon that runs past the old Quarter Circle U.

The last time Tom Rice talked to her, she was in a buggy, riding with her current man and Tom tried to get more definite information out of her, and how well he succeeded you may judge for this is what she said:

"Go to the Rancho Barkley, Thomas, then go over the mountain to a little, old brush corral. From there it is not so far, but on the way there is a great falls where one must crawl out to the side and its very dangerous Thomas, be careful you do not break the neck, and Thomas, the brush she is so thick one can hardly push through, but keep going until you come to three big rocks. Yes, on the right side there beside the trail. Then go on a little more far, maybe a half mile, maybe less until you come to a stone monument in the thick brush then you Buska for she is right there, and the rock, Thomas, she is so black like coal and when you break heem she look like painter has splapped a brush full of gold onto the rock she is so full of gold, but don't go Thomas amigo, you die, sure like hell you die and me, I'm to blame."

There you are. Simple is it not? I thought so too and for months on end I wore those mountains don looking those three black rocks. Did I find them? Sure, and I found the black lead of andesite that was, as Cuca said, an offshoot from the Carney dike, but gold? No. Yet, I believe she told the truth.

I do know, however that Cuca had some black andesitic rocks, probably of the telluride family which were lousy with gold and, I have no reason to disbelieve the gal for she was very earnest about the whole thing and was so afraid that her amigo, Thomas would die should he venture into those hills after the lost mine of the Peralta's.

I did find a piece of grayish black rhyolite on that trail that could have come from Smith's find, and it was lousy with fine gold and I found it close to the only three big rocks standing alongside any trail in the whole Superstition range. So what? I'm satisfied its there if some one had brains enough to find it, but not too much knowledge about formations and such, for its been said that no prospector would find this mine that knew his rocks, but some hunter, who knew nothing about rocks would stumble onto it some day while choosing through the brush after game. I wore out a pair of cowhide chaps trying so I turn the job over to somebody else, with my blessing and good will.

The rocks in question, as near as I can figure are three big pinnacles at the edge of the flat sand wash that trembles along the south side of Bluff Springs Mountain. One can easily find them for they are right in the trail and widely packed burro must be lead around them for there is not room to pass between if pack is too wide, and remember, its only about a quarter or half mile farther on, and the corral was at Bluff Springs at the east end of Bluff Springs Mountain alongside the little trickle of a stream that leads to the bigger creek from the springs at the base of the mountains. Easy?

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