Monday, September 10, 2007

History Lesson

I headed north on Sunday after church to receive my Patriarchal Blessing (absolutely amazing experience, can’t wait to read it again and take it all in, ask me about the truly marvelous thing DJ experienced while I was receiving my blessing). It was a beautiful drive with my mom and hubby. We talked and enjoyed the beautiful desert scenery. The drive took us next to no time so we were very early and decided to just drive a little further out for fun. We passed by this rock monument on the side of the road and being that the three of us are huge history buffs we pulled over and read what it had to say.
It was a monument to those killed in the Wickenburg Massacre. This peaked my interest and I thought I’d research a little bit. Here’s what I found out about what happened.
(most of the following is cited directly from the text of HISTORY OF ARIZONA. Volume VIII published by U of A.)
On November 5, 1871 eight passengers, 7 men and 1 woman, boarded a stagecoach at Wickenburg A. T. (Arizona territory) westbound for Enrenburg. When 9 miles from town, at 8:00 a.m., they were attacked by approximately fifteen Yavapai Indians (sometimes mistakenly called Apache-Mohave Indians) from the Date Creek reservation. Six men, including the driver, were murdered. One male passenger and the only female passenger escaped, though wounded. The surviving female Miss. Shepard died later as a result of her injuries sustained that day. Shortly after the attack and ever since then speculation has been raised that the attack was not the work of Native Indians but that of Mexican bandits, or even Arizonians themselves. Over the two years that followed the massacre General George Crook conducted an investigation into the attack, and finally identified what he believed to be all the participants.

The survivors, Kruger and Miss Sheppard, were confident that the murderers were Apache-Mohaves from the Camp Date Creek Reservation. They had on the blue pants worn by the Reservation Indians and had the gait, appearance and bearing of Apaches during the whole time they were under observation. In addition to this, Captain Meinholdt, of the 3d Cavalry, who had been detailed to find out, if possible, who they were, followed the tracks in the direction of Camp Date Creek. The footprints were round toed, after the manner of the Apaches. On the trail a reservation hunting bag was picked up, and a pack of cards, with the corners cut off, Such as were used by the Apache-Mohaves. He declared in his report to his superior that it was his firm conviction that the murderers were Camp Date Creek Apaches. Furthermore, subsequent to the committal of the murder, two of the Reservation Indians died of gunshot wounds, but whites were not permitted to see them.

The suspicion that had at first been expressed by a few—that the crime might have been committed by Mexican bandits—furnished sufficient grounds for the starting of such a rumor. Thereupon, interested, so-called friends of the Indians, here and elsewhere, seized upon this flaw in some people's judgment for the purpose of making capital out of it, but a number of well-known Wickenburg citizens, who had examined and buried the bodies, as well as followed the trail of the murderers, published over their signatures a letter containing the best of proofs and reasons for asserting that Indians had committed the deed.

The best known and most prominent victim of this deplorable tragedy was Fred W. Loring, who was twenty-two years of age and a native of Boston, Massachusetts. He had graduated from Harvard in 1870, and immediately engaged in the business of journalism in his native city. Early in 1871 he had joined the ‘Wheeler Expedition,’ which he accompanied throughout all its rambles, finally reaching Prescott on his way home. Although a boy in years, Mr. Loring was a mature man in mind, whose name had already become familiar throughout the nation as an author and ‘contributor’ of rare merit. His untimely death created a great sensation in the East and at once the press of New York and New England wheeled into line, and concluded that ‘the Apache must be treated with less Bible, and more sword.’

To this day the massacre at Wickenburg was the largest murder of white settlers in Arizona history.

I found this to be a fascinating bit of history. I invite you to learn more through two resources; one being an online book from the University of Arizona (the last two chapters are devoted to this event and contain both newspaper articles from the time and letters from those who conducted the investigations. Warning this is in textbook format) and the second being a book written just recently by a writer who stumbled on the topic while visiting Wickenburg for a gold rush days event.

4 comments:

Natalie said...

This was completely fascinating to me! I'm so glad you posted and researched this! I love history lessons!

Amie said...

Wow...You know what? I grew up 90 minutes northwest of Wickenburg so it was our closest big town. I've seen that Historical marker and passed it literally hundreds and hundreds of times and never thought to find out what it was for! Thanks for sharing! I guess I didn't hear about DJ's experience (did I?)

Amie said...

Ooh, your meez is so pretty! Love those eyes!

Mom, wife, scrapaholic... said...

I myself a history buff, found this fascinating! Thanks for sharing! Sadly I have lived here(west valley) my entire life and haven't been out to see this stuff or even the Grand Canyon. But, thanks for sharing!