Chapter XLII.


Experience at El Valle--We Travel Through a Dangerous Indian

Country--Soldiers on the Move--Visit from an "Old Timer"

AFTER leaving Namaquipe the next place of importance is El Valle. We arrived about noon and halted on the public square. We saw a large crowd collected at a corner store. I took a tin can and told the brethren that if we could not get the privilege of preaching here I would get some lard and we would move on. The crowd was watching us; as I approached them I could see that something special was up. I went into the store and inquired where I could find the Alcalde. A man asked:

"What you want with him?"

"I want to get permission to preaching here."

"I can answer that you cannot; we have all the religion we want. We have held a mass meeting, and the citizens of this place have appointed me to meet you on your arrival and notify you that you can go on. We know who you are and want nothing to do with you."

I made no reply; but turned to the merchant and asked him if he had any lard. At this many of the crowd commenced to laugh and make pleasant remarks, saying that the stranger took it very coolly. The merchant said he was out of lard and did not know of anyone who had any but Don Pedro who had been talking to me. I asked him if he would sell me some.

"Yes, sir, but it is quite a distance from here to my house; if you wish to go so far with me I will let you have what you want."

"All right, I will go with you."

When we started most of the crowd followed. Don Pedro commenced talking in a very earnest manner, telling me that they had just received a letter from the Pope warning all Catholics against false prophets, etc., and that they were all fully prepared beforehand to reject our heresies. He kept up his talk until we arrived at his house.

He now got a pamphlet and commenced reading. This was the printed circular of the Pope. I listened patiently until my opponent finished. The house, a large one, was crowded, nearly a hundred persons present. I now asked permission to answer the Pope's letter and explain our side.

Don Pedro objected. My reply settled him. I told him I had been much in Mexico and mixed among the people a great deal and I had always found them mannerly and polite, especially to strangers and in their own house. That I was now under his roof and protection--a stranger--and appealed to him as a true Mexican gentleman to hear me. At this many of the crowd said, "Let the stranger speak."

Don Pedro now consented, but soon interrupted me. I reminded him that I had listened to him in perfect silence, and unless he did the same I should claim to be more of a gentleman than he was. This made quite a laugh, and the voice was for me to have the floor uninterruptedly.

In brief I will say that I fully satisfied myself; spoke with perfect freedom and handled the priests and Pope without gloves. When I got through Don Pedro said his whole opinion was now changed, asked for a book, saying he would read and study it whether the priests liked it or not. When we left all was friendly.

The district of country we had been passing through appeared to be the most desirable for colonizing. We made diligent enquiries about lands, titles, conflicting water interests and making notes, all of which were reported to Prest. Young on our arrival home.

As we neared the frontier settlements there was great excitement as the Apaches were out on the war path and had killed some men near Fort Bowie. They had had a fight with the soldiers and whipped them, and were now raiding the country in every direction.

Some of the officials at Galiana talked of stopping us from going any further. But we were very anxious to continue on so we told them we would be careful and not run into danger.

After leaving Casas Grandes our road was really lonesome and dangerous. It was some three days' travel to Cow Springs before we would see a ranch. However, we made the trip without accident, traveling the most dangerous parts in the night time.

One night we had our nerves sorely tried. My intention was, if we ever met the Apaches, to approach them alone, believing I could make peace with them the same as I had done before with other Indians.

While traveling alone one night, Brother Ivins and my son riding ahead of the wagon, our little watch dog that had been of great service to us many times, gave notice that someone was approaching in the road.

I called to the boys to stop. I went in got to my son's horse, telling him to go back to the team. Brother Ivins and I rode on a short distance. The night was rather dark, but soon we saw a lot of what appeared to be savage-looking Indians coming. They were on foot and armed. They halted on seeing us.

I told Brother Ivins to go back to the wagon and I would go and meet them, and if they shot me, he and the others must jump into the brush and try and save their lives as best they could.

I got off from my horse and walked up to the Indians, who stood in a group, filling the road. As I approached alone they did not seem to make any move whatever. I spoke, saluting them in Spanish. They answered all right. I offered them my hand and they all shook hands with me. I asked them where they were going. They said down to their homes and asked where I was going.

I told them I was going to my home a long way off in the northern country. Thus we kept asking and answering questions till one asked why we were traveling by night. I told them that my companions were afraid of them, but that I was not for I was a friend to the Indians and did not believe they would ever kill me.

They began to laugh and asked me who I thought they were.

I asked, "Are you not Apaches?"

"No, seƱor, we are not Apaches," they answered, "but like you we are traveling in the night because we are afraid of them."

I now called to my companions who had been waiting in suspense. All my bravery and fortitude were wasted, further than to prove to myself that I was willing to stand the test.

We had a good long talk with these Indians who were of the Opitas, a people similar to the Pimas, and live in the foothills of the Sierra Madre in Sonora.

As we neared the frontier ranches on the American side we found that the Apache war was a reality. We camped at Cow Springs. Much apprehension was felt at Burro Sienega. Here we met Mr. Connor whom we had met on the trip down. His father and brother were killed shortly after at this ranch.

We heard that soldiers were concentrating at Bowie with orders to capture and take all the Apaches to the San Carlos reservation. Apache signal fires could be seen in the mountains south of Bowie. Our route now led through the most perilous part of the country; hundreds of people having been killed along this road in past years, our feelings were to put our trust in God and go on. We arrived at San Simon where a lot of "hard cases" were camped. It was a question whether we were safer with them than alone; but they were afraid and felt better while we were with them. Next day was the "teller." If we could make Bowie all right, our chances would be better from there on as troops were en route to that post from Camps Verde, McDowell and Apache. Our day's travel from San Simon to Bowie was one of anxiety, but we made it in safety.

We decided to take a different route on our return from the one traveled going down. So, on leaving Bowie, instead of taking the main road back to Tucson, we decided to go by the way of Fort Grant, Camp Thomas, Camp Apache and on to the upper Little Colorado. The road from Camp Thomas to Camp Apache was reported to us as almost impassable for wagons, none having attended the trip for some three years past. The troops moved across the mountains with pack animals. However, we concluded to try it.

From Bowie to Camp Grant there was a drive of nearly seventy-five miles without water. We made the most of the distance in the afternoon and night.

On turning out our teams just before day, they were too thirsty to eat the grass, it being somewhat dry. We only had about two gallons of water, which we had kept for drinking and cooking. On seeing the condition of our poor animals we took most of the water and wet up some bran we happened to have, giving a little to each animal. They ate it with a relish, then started for the grass, eating heartily for some time, when we hitched up and made the rest of the distance in good time.

Since this experience, when traveling through desert country I have made it a rule to carry a sack of bran. When water becomes scarce wet a feed of bran with one half gallon of water and it will do as much good on the last end of the hard drive as three times the water without bran.

Troops were being massed at Camp Grant. The orders were for all the Apaches to move to San Carlos, the greater portion being willing to do so. The Chiricahuis had not yet decided to come in. There were a number of scouts camped here. We laid over for a few days as we had a desire to learn something about these Indians and the condition of affairs before going on.

We managed to get acquainted with some of the leaders. They came to our camp and talked most of one night.

As I intend to devote a whole chapter to Apache history, I will then relate our conversation with these Indians, which was very interesting to all of us.

From Camp Grant To Camp Thomas we passed numbers of Indian camps. They would try to look savagely at us, but I could always get a friendly look before quitting them.

We had heard much about the Upper Gila Valley, the country settled now mostly by our people. Before arriving at the river crossing we fell in company with an intelligent Mexican who lived in Pueblo Viejo. He gave us such full and satisfactory information about the country that we concluded to make our report from it and not spend any time exploring.

While in camp on the Gila river, on our return home, we met an old-timer, who related to us some of his personal history. I was so much interested in the story that I have concluded to give it to the readers of this book.

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