January 14, 2018

The Battle of the "Pinole Treaty"

PINOLE: A food made of maize, cacao beans, and spices that originated with the Aztecs.

It was January 4th, 1864. A.H. Peeples had just given his friend, William Kirkland, a watchdog with a new litter of puppies.

It was a decision that Peeples would regret the following night.

Peeples, a miner himself, also owned a ranch in the valley now named for him. Other area miners and prospectors would pasture their horses in Peeple's corral at night; providing food, water, and most importantly, an awake, armed guard.

Charles P. Genung described the scene: "There was a man on guard every night and he had a board, a piece of old wagon bed, laid across the the corner of the horse corral."

January 5th, "the sentinel had gotten cold sitting on his high seat, and had gone into the house, which was less than 100 feet away, to warm himself. He had not been in the house but a few minutes when an Indian, who had been lying in the corner directly under the board, stampeded the horses and they broke the corral and were gone." Thirty head were run-off; give or take a few.

"There were several men at the ranch, and the news was carried to Rich Hill where Peeples was gold hunting." Men were gathered from the surrounding area. The party included 26 anglos and a Yavapai Indian named Jack. "A few Pimas and Maricopas also joined the party."

King S Woolsey
Also in the party was King S. Woolsey, a proud, self-proclaimed Native American exterminator. A hero among most anglos in his own day, his reputation has grown controversial as time has passed. Regardless, Woolsey was undoubtably the man with the most experience hunting the "wild Apaches" and was elected leader of the posse.

The party started out on the 7th. "The white men followed the trail of the horses and mules for several days." They travelled as far as the mouth of the Big Canyon on the Salt River.  With provisions being nearly exhausted, it was decided to camp and send to the Pima villages for supplies.  

On January 21st, the party returned with flour and pinole as well as some 45 Maricopa and Pima warriors. They departed on the 22nd and "struck the trail of the stock again at the Mouth of the Big Canyon."

"There all the Pimas backed out declaring that they would not enter the canyon as they never had been up there before," Woolsey reported, "but Captain [Juan] Chivari, the head Chief of the Maricopas--being made of different material--called out his braves and said that he would follow where I would lead."

So with his 28 men, Woolsey added "Cyrus Lennan and GG Fisher of the Pima village and 16 Maricopa braves." They entered the unknown canyon with "but 19 rounds of ammunition for the white men and 7 for the Indians."

They traveled in the canyon all day the 23rd and, near sunrise, discovered "squaw and children tracks." By this time several of Woolsey's men were "worn-out" but he still took what men he could and "were able to double quick it and dashed forward as rapidly as possible until 8 o'clock AM when (they) reached the ranchera."  However, the Apaches spied Woolsey first and quickly fled telling their chief about the posse. The chief decided to meet the anglo party with force.

Meanwhile, all of Woolsey's men had become exhausted and they "selected an open spot for a camp near some small tanks of excellent water.  The remainder of (the) party soon arrived (and they) commenced to prepare for breakfast and obtain a little sleep."

However, they hardly had unpacked their animals when the Apaches "took possession of the bluffs in our rear and in a short time they had entirely surrounded us--none of them coming closer than 600 yards," Woolsey wrote.

"They kept up a most infernal yelling and built tremendous signal smokes as if in honor of our arrival," he continued. "We paid no attention to them until we had satisfied ourselves with bread and pinole and most of the boys had snatched a few hours sleep." Despite this, Woolsey was in trouble.

Completely surrounded and low on ammunition, Woolsey started toward the nearest cliff with one of the Maricopa and the Yavapai Jack. As soon as they came within speaking distance, the Chief of the Apaches, Par-a-muck-a, came out on a point of rocks and told them that he knew that they had followed the Apaches from Weaverville to kill them.  Par-a-muck-a admitted taking the horses and mules and would continue to do so while killing anglos "whenever they could," according to Woolsey. The chief concluded by saying that they had the whites this time. The Apaches then broke into "loud laughing and yells."

After the commotion settled, Woolsey told the chief that he was mistaken. Using Jack to translate, Woolsey stated that they "were great men in our own country and had come out here with the Chiefs of the Pimas and Maricopas and Yumas for the purpose of making a treaty with them and had followed the track of the stolen stock because (they) knew no other road into this country." 

Professional safecrackers, burglary, found treasure, a 40-year-old murder solved, and a work-release program highlighted the police blotter in 1917 in Prescott, AZ.

After talking further, the chief was persuaded to come down to the foot of the cliff within 80 yards of where Woolsey was standing.  The chief, thinking Woolsey was unarmed, raised his gun to shoot, but the sight of the anglo's Sharpes carbine made him relent. Woolsey then told him that if he attempted to ascend the cliff, he would certainly shoot him and that he and his men must come in and have a talk with the posse.

Thirty Indians went with the anglos and were offered flour pinole and tobacco. According to Woolsey, they never touched the pinole, but were happy to take the tobacco.

In fact, Woolsey was stalling in hope of reinforcements. "I detained them some two hours waiting for the arrival of Big Rump, (chief of the Tontos,)...with 40 men, as the runners had reported. (However,) about 4 o'clock p.m. a runner came into camp and reported that Big Rump would not come in until next morning." Woolsey couldn't wait that long.

Woolsey told his men: "Boys, we have got to die or get out of this. Each of you pick out your Indian, and I will shoot the chief for a signal.” The anglos did not wait long when "suddenly Woolsey drew his pistol, leveled it, and shot Par-a-muck-a dead on the spot.  This was the signal for the 'signing of the treaty.' Simultaneously the whole party commenced firing upon the Indians, slaughtering them right and left."

In the mayhem the anglos took the opportunity to escape. Woolsey's losses amounted to one anglo and a horse killed and one Maricopa wounded.

The battle would be labeled with the sardonic monicker of "The Pinole Treaty."

According to principals who were there, "writers have said that Woolsey poisoned the pinole, but that is a mistake." It seems more likely the party had neither the time nor the need to poison the food.

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"The Pinole Treaty" By Chas. P. Genung. Published in the Los Angeles Mining Review 1910-11. Sharlot Hall Museum Archives, Genung Box 1, Folder 1.

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