November 5, 2017

Brave Woman Fights Off Indians in Granite Dells

It was September, 1867. Lewis A. Stevens must have been anxious about leaving his wife at their ranch in the Granite Dells (then known as Point of Rocks.) He was required to go to Prescott to serve in the 4th Territorial Legislature and Indians had been raiding all around the vicinity recently.

As he passed by Fort Whipple (now the VA,) on the way to Prescott, he hoped that its proximity to his ranch might be a deterrent to an Indian raid.

It would not...

The Steven's ranch house was "situated about 100 yards from an immense pile of rocks, which contain numerous caves and little valleys."

Mr. Lewis had been busy in the legislature for several weeks when Indians, long familiar with the geography, filled these clandestine spots and prepared to attack "with the evident intention of robbing the house, murdering the inmates and stealing the stock," the newspaper stated.

The only other person left on the ranch was a hired hand. Mrs. Stevens and he were busy working outdoors when they noticed movement among the granite outcroppings--it was 20 Indians commencing to attack!

Outnumbered 10 to 1, the two quickly ran for their guns, took cover, and immediately opened fire.

The story of one of the first Indian conflicts in Yavapai county. A group of miners unjustly murder 20 Yavapai Indians for a crime they did not commit.

The Indians also had firearms and "returned the fire for some time, trying every ruse known to savage warfare to get possession of the horses," the paper reported.

Fire rained in from all sides. The beleaguered pair kept a keen eye and a steady fire; turning from side to side to match every incoming round. It was a matter of survival. The minutes must have seemed like hours.

For the Indians, what initially seemed like an easy target was no longer worth the risk. The commotion of gunfire had been prolonged and soon neighboring anglos would be arriving to reinforce the two--perhaps even soldiers from the fort! The Indians withdrew "back to their hiding place without accomplishing the object of their raid."

As it turned out, the garrison at Fort Whipple played no role in the incident whatsoever. General Gregg later admitted that the first word he received of the raid was when he read about it in the newspaper.

Meanwhile, shortly after the Indians withdrew, a posse from the Johnson ranch did indeed arrive and immediately went after the raiders. However, trying to track them over the bare granite outcroppings proved impossible.

The newspaper observed: "Many a man, if placed in the same position as Mrs. Stevens, would have taken to his heels and ran for dear life; but she stood her ground and fought them like a heroine, which she is."

After searching for the Indians, Johnson went ahead to Prescott carrying a note to Lewis Stevens from his wife. It detailed her experience and made only one request of her husband: "--more buckshot, Mr. Stevens!"

"Bully for Mrs. Stevens!" the newspaper exclaimed. "She is our favorite canidate for commander of the District of Arizona."

True story of a 1865 clever ambush in the Indian Wars at "Battle Point" where the Skull Valley, AZ depot is located today.


Tourist Tips:

The Granite Dells are gorgeous!

They are located just north of Prescott on State Route 89 beginning at Watson Lake...
First, there's plenty of recreation at Watson Lake itself:

Then, there are several hiking trails within the Granite Dells that are maintained by the City of Prescott:
Always be sure to bring plenty of water!

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Arizona Miner, 9/21/1867, Pg. 2 Col. 4 
IBID Pg. 3 Col. 1

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