Arizona Sketches

Arizona Sketches


The excitement of running cattle or hunting game on the open range in those days was mild in comparison to the panicky feeling which prevailed during every Indian outbreak. The experience of many years had taught the people of Arizona what to expect at such a time and the utter diabolical wickedness of the Apaches when out on the warpath. During the early eighties many such raids occurred which were accompanied by all the usual horrors of brutality and outrage of which the Apaches are capable.

When it became known in the fall of 1885 that Geronimo was again off the reservation and out on another one of his bloody raids the people became panic-stricken. Some left the Territory until such time when the Indian question would be settled and the Government could guarantee freedom from Indian depredations.

Those who remained either fled to some near town or fort for protection, or prepared to defend themselves in their own homes as best they could.

What else could the settlers in a new country do? They had everything invested in either mines or cattle and could not afford to leave their property without making some effort to save it even if it had to be done at the risk of their own lives.

They had no means of knowing when or where the stealthy Apaches would strike and could only wait for the time in uncertainty and suspense. Many who were in this uncomfortable predicament managed to escape any harm, but others fell victims to savage hatred whose death knell was sounded in the crack of the deadly rifle.

Some personal experiences may help to illustrate this feeling of panic, as I happened to be at the ranch during the time and know how it was myself.

One day in the month of October, 1885, while Geronimo was making his raid through southern Arizona, my brother and I rode through Railroad Pass from Pinaleno ranch to the Lorentz Place, a distance of fifteen miles. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon that we ascended to the top of a hill to take observations and see if anything was happening out of the ordinary. We saw nothing unusual until we were about to leave when we noticed somewhat of a commotion on the old Willcox and Bowie wagon road which parallels the Southern Pacific track. The distance was too great to see distinctly with the naked eye, but looking through our field glasses, which we always carried when out riding, we could plainly see three loaded wagons standing in the road. The drivers had evidently unhitched their teams and, mounted upon the horses' backs, were riding furiously in a cloud of dust down the road towards Bowie.

I asked the judge, who was a resident and supposed to be familiar with the customs of the country while I was only a tenderfoot, what their actions meant. He admitted that he did not understand their conduct unless it was that they had concluded that they could not make Willcox on that day and were returning to some favorable camp ground which they had passed on their way up, to spend the night; but the manner of their going was certainly peculiar. After watching them disappear down the road we rode on and reached our destination in safety.