March 8, 2020

The Indian Uprising of 1872

The ruins of Camp Date Creek
From February through June, 1872, Native Americans launched raiding attacks around and surprisingly close to Prescott. The newspapers were filled with accounts of Indian depredations during this time and the citizenry was both frightened and filled with consternation.

Orders came from Washington to change the practice of largely shooting Indians on sight to one of feeding and educating them instead. Initially, however,  the Indians, many of whom were starving, became emboldened and started to attack.
"Officers and soldiers chafe because their hands are tied by orders from Washington;" the paper explained, "citizens rave and talk of abandoning the country if something is not done to check the bloody career of the savages; patriots curse the Indians...and maudlin fools of the East; the administration and Congress are charged with being the authors of the murders and robberies, and a feeling akin to despair and desperation has taken possession of all our citizens,” the paper described. “The Country adjoining Prescott, on every hand, is alive with them; they know that the military are under orders to not pursue or molest them and knowing this, reason that the government is afraid of them. So they go on, reveling in American blood and feasting upon the carcasses of animals stolen from Americans.” 

Hostilities started in mid-February with the killing of some cattle belonging to Campbell and Baker at a point on the upper Verde River, not far from Chino Valley. Later in April, when the livestock was rounded up after grazing about Mint Valley, it was discovered that the Indians were harvesting them to eat. Nearly 100 cattle were missing and many butchered bones were later found in the hills near the range.

More raids occurred west of Prescott. In February, a Mr. Davis was in the forest hunting turkeys when a frightened deer bolted past. “The thought of Indians being near flashed across his mind when, nearby, an Indian arose and was shot down by Davis,” the paper reported.  Soon “20 Indians were seen rushing in every direction, apparently not knowing the direction the shot came from. Mr. Davis then raised his shotgun, took aim and shot another” before he hastily retreated. In May another ranch west of town had its last 2 horses taken, robbing it of being able to make a living.

In April, a stage heading for California was passing Granite Mountain when the driver spotted a party of Indians waiting in ambush. Everyone on board, including the passengers, opened fire and drove them away. That same day, some Indians again raided the ranch of Campbell and Baker, killing several head of cattle, and packing the meat away.  Ironically, one of the passengers on the stage was Campbell himself. Earlier that day, a government pack train “came very near (to) falling into the clutches of the Indians” near the same spot.

In early May, “a party of Indians came within a mile or two of Prescott and stole six head of cows, four of which belong(ed) to VA Stephens” and one each from Wm. Kelly and Joseph Ehle. Ehle and another man tracked the loss up to a Granite Mountain gorge, but reluctantly decided to withdraw, fearing for their lives. The paper reported that Granite Mountain was “a favorite Indian retreat and stronghold.”

Joseph and Morris Goldwater were also attacked near Granite Mountain in June. While traveling to Ehrenberg, a half-mile beyond Granite Mountain, “bullet after bullet flew at them, from guns in the hands of Apaches." One bullet passed through Morris’ hat while Joseph, in a second wagon, was shot twice in the back. They retreated, pursued by the Indians, until Skull Valley was safely reached. There they received an escort of two soldiers and Joseph received care at Ft. Whipple. He later recovered.

Story and history of the Goldwater store in Prescott, AZ. Also included: the founding of Ehrenberg, AZ.

Burnt Ranch, which today lies within the city limits, was also struck twice. In mid-April a prize horse was taken and eaten. In June, three more “fine horses” belonging to Thomas Stonehouse were stolen. 

In May, the Lovejoy ranch, located 8 miles east of Prescott on Lynx Creek suffered the paralyzing blow of losing every single one of its animals. Earlier in March a Mr. Poland was robbed of several animals on Lynx Creek much closer to Prescott.

It was reported in April that “plenty of Indian fires were visible at night in the mountains between Camp Verde and Prescott.” Then word arrived which “the bare recital…causes a chill to stop the heart of the hearers for a moment,” the paper observed, when it was learned that two respected anglo pioneers were found dead on the Aqua Fria river.

The Hassayampa River was the scene of much Indian activity. In February, a large party of warriors purloined 5 animals. However, two Indians were killed and one wounded. The animals belonged to three different men including Robert Groom and C Davis. Several days later a freight train was attacked wounding one anglo before the Indians were driven off. 

Later in June, Davis lost an additional 4 head of work cattle. He and another man followed the trail as far as the head of the Grapevine Creek when they saw signs of many Indian tracks. They decided to back away and soon were chased away by 40 Indians. Indeed, the reason why the Hassayampa area was raided frequently was most likely because the Native Americans were camped nearby. Earlier in April, another man stumbled upon a large group of Indians there and barely escaped with his life.

Beside their Granite Mountain stronghold, Indians were also camped in the mountains between Prescott and Skull Valley. As a result, Williamson Valley also suffered several raids. On March 11-12, several ranches in the valley were raided and 12 horses and mules driven away.

In April, a farmer from Williamson Valley left Prescott but did not return home at the expected time. A search ensued and his dead body was discovered about 1 mile north of Mint Valley. He was shot twice in the chest and once between the eyes. Later that month, another man was killed and the mail wagon barely escaped attack there. In May, the Indians returned and successfully drove off another 6-8 head of cattle.

One man, GW Barnard, was traveling to Prescott with the Miller Bros. freight train but separated from them when they reached Skull Valley. The freight was headed toward Williamson Valley and Barnard was uneasy of traveling through the area where so many recent raids had occurred. So he decided to travel alone and take the little used “upper trail” to Prescott. As he crossed over the summit, his horse became panicky and bolted off the trail. After a great deal of calming and coaxing, he finally got his ride back on the trail and soon learned why his horse was so anxious—an Indian campfire lay ahead just off the trail. By trying to avoid where the Indians were raiding, he unwittingly stumbled upon where they were camping.

Choices were few and Barnard decided to apply his spurs to his horse and make a run for it. The trail was steep and the ride harrowing and after reaching the relative safety of the timber at the foot of the hill, he heard the unnerving yips and yells of the Indians behind and above him. The Miller team arrived in Prescott unmolested. The paper reminded its readers that the area where Barnard had his encounter was “always dangerous when Indians are in this section.”

As early as March, troubling rumors began to circulate among the anglos. “Citizens who arrived here during the week from Woolsey Valley have informed us that the trail of a large war party…was observed, heading in the direction of Prescott,” the paper reported. Some intelligence was reported suggesting that the Apache-Mojaves were gathering around the settlement at Camp Verde and intended to “attack and capture the post.” Neither of these concerns materialized, however, as the Indians stuck to their strategy of guerrilla raiding.

Perhaps most shocking to Prescott residents were the raids on LA Stevens and Levi Bashford's sheep herd, located only 2 miles from Ft. Whipple. On May 21, Indians killed the sheep herder and chased off 2,000 sheep. The herder’s body was found naked with 8 arrows shot into it “and the head most horribly mashed with rocks,” the paper reported. 

There was no report of how many sheep were recovered, but 2 weeks later, George Bower was hired to herd the flock. Within a few weeks the Indians attempted another raid by surrounding Bower. He tried to make a break to the ranch house, but was cut-off. He then turned and headed toward Ft. Whipple. He ran long enough to think that he had escaped, but the Indians were still in pursuit and fired several slugs hitting Bower’s arm. He returned fire and eventually got to the fort hospital where he was treated and survived. “Indeed, he is the first man that to our knowledge, has ever got away from the Apaches under similar circumstances,” the paper noted.

The story of the first heavy use road to run from Kirkland to Wickenburg before there was a White Spar Road (Hwy. 89). It was built by Charles Genung in 1871.

It wasn’t only ranches that were raided, but several mines also suffered. Evidence points to the Indians having a camp in the vicinity of Bradshaw as well. In mid-February they “stole nearly all the animals in and around Bradshaw, and one from Walnut Grove.”

Then in April, Apaches struck the Bradshaw Mountains again and drove away 11 mules owned by William Simmons. “This is the second time within a year that they have robbed Mr. Simmons, and he is now ‘down to the bedrock,’” the paper reported. Since his was the only remaining pack-train in the district, the Tiger Mining Co. was unable to ship any ore.

The following day a man who was searching for the mules instead discovered a party of 40 Indians. Firing over a dozen shots, he was able to make his escape despite being wounded in the left arm. 

A February skirmish took place “where the old trail from Prescott to Turkey Creek forks, not far from the Bully Bueno Mine,” the paper reported. This time it was thought to be Tontos. Mr. McCloud and Mr. Sanders were returning from a successful hunting trip when the Indians attacked. One Indian was wounded by Saunders while McCloud killed one and wounded another. Both anglos were unharmed.

In May, several houses in the town of Bradshaw were rifled and robbed by Native Americans.

At a skirmish near the Vulture mine in February, an anglo was wounded.

In May, at the Del Pasco mine, 25 miles south of Prescott, Indians stole 5 head of work cattle, “robbed the buildings near the mine, and left an immense arrow as a token of defiance.”

Seven miles south of Prescott, the Cornucopia mine lost a number of horses in June.

Despite its military presence, Camp Date Creek was another hot spot. In February, the stage station located “just a few miles below the military post” was attacked, killing the proprietor and a customer. The Indians then ran off several head of stock. The stagecoach driver, who arrived later, “examined the station where the men were killed, and found the house plundered; and the walls and floors, etc., smeared with blood,” the paper described. He further related “that there must have been hundreds of hostile Indians in the mountains around Date Creek” and they “dared the go out and fight them.” The driver believed that the Indians were still there and “he (would) not return without a large escort.”A few weeks later, 2 more prized horses were lost from the same stage station and the mail driver suffered a narrow escape.

During this time some desperate Native Americans accepted the offer of coming to the military posts for food, clothing, and blankets. Many came to Camp Date Creek, but did not stay long. Exasperating the situation was the report that Capt. RF O’Beirne was “whipping and starving” the Indians there. Many of them left only to join the fight with their fellow Native Americans. Indeed, less than a week later they drove the mail carrier’s 6 horses into the mountains and later, 40 head of James Baker’s cattle were stolen.

But come July the uprising ceased. Although the raids were generally successful, it was clear the anglos were never going to leave and many Native Americans were now desperate for food. Around 500 came into the government’s care at Camp Verde and another 400-500 went to Camp Date Creek that month.

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All from the Weekly Arizona Miner, Feb.-Jul. 1872:
4/13/1872; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
2/24/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 1.
4/27/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 1.
5/11/1922; Pg. 2, Col. 2.
4/13/1872; Pg. 3, Col. 1.
5/4/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 2.
6/15/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 1.
6/22/1872 ; Pg. 2, Cols. 1-2.
5/18/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 1.
4/27/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 2.
5/25/1872; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
3/30/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 5.
3/23/1872; Pg. 3, Col. 2.
6/1/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 4.
7/6/1872; Pg. 2, Col. 2.

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