CHAPTER XIV. MORE SETTLEMENTS (Continued).


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER XIII. MORE SETTLEMENTS. Next: CHAPTER XV. SURVEYING LAND IN TERRITORY.


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INTERVIEW WITH JAMES G. H. COLTER-SETTLES IN ROUND VALLEY-LOCATES AT NUTRIOSO-INDIAN TROUBLES - INDUCES HENRY SPRINGER TO LOCATE IN VALLEY AND NAMES SPRINGERVILLE AFTER HIM-EXPERIENCE AS DEPUTY SHERIFF-FIGHT WITH JACK OLNEY-SELLS OUT NUTRIOSO TO MORMONS-FIGHT WITH GERONIMO AND VICTORIO-FRED T. COLTER IN FIGHT.

JAMES G. H. COLTER, father of State Senator Fred Colter from Apache County, contributes the following:

‘‘

"I was born in 1844 in Cumberland County, near Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada. Left home and came to Wisconsin when sixteen years of age, about the year 1860; came to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and then worked for one man lumbering, and, when twenty years old, ran one of his camps. He was a lumber man. I then bought three hundred and twenty acres of pine timber, and went lumbering for myself. This was when I was twenty-one years of age. In 1872 I started to Arizona, and arrived in Colter, Arizona, or where Colter is now, where my sons still live. There were three in our party that came across the plains. We bought some horses at Atchison, Kansas, and brought three two-horse teams to Round Valley, Arizona, that I lumbered with in Wisconsin. I also brought a reaper and mower, my intention being to raise barley for


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Camp Apache. That post was created to get the Indians on the reservation.

"The first Indian trouble I saw, we were coming across the Navajo Reservation, one corner of it, and they, the Indians, about a hundred and fifty of them, rode in front of us and stopped us. They were Navajoes, and we thought we were gone up sure, I was driving the head team, and other teams were following, and when the Indians stopped us, the boys said: ‚We had better fire at them.‚ We had our guns, but I said, ‚No, we better not.‚ We had one wagonload of provisions, flour, bacon, coffee and sugar, a year's provisions, and before they would let us go any further, we had to give them about half our provisions for toll, to get across the reservation, and we were glad to get off that easy. It was in the afternoon that this occurred. We drove all night and the next day until we tired out our horses.

"Then I took up land in Nutrioso, and with Mexican labor took out ditches and opened it up. The next Indian trouble I was at Nutrioso alone, fifteen miles from anybody. I had a log house on the farm and my horses were over there, but the other boys were in another valley. One day I looked down the valley, and saw about two hundred Indians coming up the valley, and I thought surely I was gone up that time. They came up to the house, but didn't seem to be on the warpath. They wanted provisions, and I hadn't very much, and I wouldn't give them any at first. Some of them came into the house. The young bucks were very sassy, but I had my gun and six shooter in my hands. At last the young


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fellows went out of the house and the old fellows, three or four of them, came in, and then they got kind of good and I gave them some provisions. The young fellows were angry, and one young buck, he could talk good English, shook his fist at me, and said: ‚You son of a bitch.‚ At last I gave the old man some provisions and they went on through the valley. I thought they were just going through, and started up to get some more logs for the houses. My nice harness was laying on the ground outside of the cabin, and I thought they would not come back. I went out alone and took my gun and six shooter, and at night when I came back, my fine harness was cut to pieces, and the straps and lines all gone. They had come back and cut the harness up and took all the best pieces, but they didn't take my horses; I had them up in the hills with me.

"I took out ditches and worked Mexicans, and raised a good crop of barley the first year, and threshed with sheep the first year for Camp Apache, furnished the barley to that post, and the next year I sent for a threshing machine to Atchison, Kansas, and it cost more to get it across the plains than the machine cost. Barley was eight and nine dollars a hundred at the time, to feed the cavalry horses.

"The reason I came out from Wisconsin, there was one man by the name of Moore ahead of us, and he sent word that barley was worth eight and nine dollars a hundred to feed the cavalry horses at Camp Apache, fifty-five miles from where I settled. Afterwards I bought a farm, one of the finest farms in the Little Colorado, from McCullough; the next two years I bought that farm


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from him. The country at that time was infested with Indians and desperadoes, who were as bad, if not worse, than the Indians. At that time the whole State was four counties, Apache county being a part of Yavapai. I was the one who had Apache county separated from Yavapai. Everything was very high at that time, and I used to haul my goods from Albuquerque to live on. I was hauling goods one time from Henry Springer's store in Albuquerque, and I told Henry Springer he had better come into Round Valley, as it was called then, and put in a store; that the people were coming in and we would name the postoffice and little village after him, Springerville, and that was old Henry Springer.

"Bowers was sheriff of Yavapai County, and I was his deputy in that part of the county; it was about three hundred and fifty miles from Prescott, and I had to assess property and collect as far as Clifton, which was the first mining camp opened up. I had to travel through Indian country all the way; it was all Indians that day, you know. I always travelled in the night; mostly on horseback with pack animals; we would make fires to cook a little coffee, etc., and then I would put them out and move camp. When I laid down I would lay down in another place from where I had had my fire.

"Julius Becker had a little store at Springerville, and the desperadoes used to come in every two or three months, and tell him to go out of the store, and they would take all the tobacco and clothes, and drink all the whiskey they wanted, and dance and have a good time, and keep the store about a day and a night, and then send


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word to Becker that he could come back and take charge of their store. He had a few goods and a barrel of whiskey setting there. One time they got to fighting in Springer's store, and shot two of themselves. At one time they took possession of the country, and I went to Camp Apache and the officer in command gave me three companies of soldiers, and came himself; the officer in command at Camp Apache and three companies of soldiers came out and restored order after a fight in which several of the desperadoes were killed.

"At another time I was threshing in Springerville Valley with my machine, the boys started over the valley, and I went over to a little Mexican town to get some things. I had neither six shooter nor gun. I was horseback and when I got up to the little store they told me that there was a man there that I had a warrant for, a desperado, and that he was in another room; that he had given up his arms, six shooter and guns, to them. I was not armed then either, and, foolishly, I went to arrest him. I went up to him and told him I had a warrant for his arrest. At that time they wore their pants inside their boots, and as I went up to him, he pulled a long dirk knife out of his bootleg and struck at me. The knife went straight between my eyes, then he kept following me back across the room with his knife and gave me five wounds in the body, near the heart, each time striking a rib, before I knocked him down and, with the assistance of others who had run in, overpowered him. I was cut up pretty bad. He got up after I knocked him down and came at me again. A fellow by


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the name of Stanley rushed in and grabbed the knife, and cut his hand.

"Once I had a narrow escape; a desperado came in who had killed five men. He and his gang had killed the sheriff and five men who were following them in Colorado. The party, in two divisions, came into the valley the fall that I lived in Springerville. There was a reward of two thousand dollars for him and his companions. They had ambushed the posse that was following them, the sheriff and five men, and killed them all. Anyway they came into Round Valley and he rented a farm from a pretty hard case there who was going to leave the country. I threshed his grain, and when I got through threshing, he wouldn't pay me. He said he would pay me when he got ready, and it was close to Becker's little store, and he had two six shooters on him; he was sitting, on his horse and I told him that I would take the barley and give him the price that he would get for it. He wouldn't do it, and I asked old Julius Becker to come up and take hold of the scales with me and we would carry them over and weigh the barley, so we took the scales and weighed out the barley, and this hard case just stood there. That night I went over to the house. I intended to go over to Nutrioso to the other ranch where my family lived, and I had my horse saddled down by the house after we had supper; there was three of us in the cabin. As I came out of the door-there was a bunch of bushes a little distance from the cabin,-and as I stepped outside I looked around and this same man was alongside this bunch of bushes. He fired at me and


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cut the coat I had on, right in front of my breast. I was standing with the light behind me. I fell back into the house, and I guess he thought he had killed me. I didn't go out of the house that night any more.

"At one time I was going over to Nutrioso-Jack Olney was a hard case who kept a saloon at Springerville, and he was in the habit of beating up men over the head with a six shooter, and one time he beat up one of my men, a man by the name of Pearson, he came out to the ranch all beaten up. I made the remark then that if Olney ever tackled me, he would get the worst of it. A short time after that I went into Springerville; had my six shooter in the front of my trousers as we used to carry them those days when we didn't have a belt on. I went into Henry Springer's store, and there was no one there but the bookkeeper. Olney had seen me coming into Springerville, and with two of his boys he sneaked into the store behind me, and walked right up behind me and putting a six shooter to my head, said: ‚I heard you said that if I tackled you I would get the worst of it.‚ I said, ‚Yes, I did,‚ for I knew that he would not shoot; if he had been going to shoot he never would have stopped to talk about it, and I said to him that if he would put his guns off and come outside, I would give him the beating of his life. He did this, and by this time two of my friends had come up, one of them being Murray who had come from Wisconsin with me; we all went outside and put off our guns and started in. He didn't know the first thing about boxing or fighting with his hands, and I was pretty good at it those days, having been in


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the lumber camps in Wisconsin and holding my own there pretty well. He would come at me and try to grab me by the feet and ankles and try to throw me, and then I started to kick him when he tried to fight foul. I kicked him so bad that he ran over to one of his men to get his gun, but my two friends stood by me and told the other fellows that if they gave him a gun they would shoot them, so he didn't get the gun, but came back at me for more, and I gave him such a beating up that he was in bed for four weeks. After that he quit being a bully, anyone could lick him.

"All this time I was engaged in farming and stock raising, and contracting with the Government, and about the year 1879, I sold out my place and moved to New Mexico; sold out the Nutrioso farm to the first Mormon that ever came into that part of the country; bought more cattle and moved down to the San Francisco river in New Mexico, over the line, sixty-five miles above Clifton, Arizona, and the ranch is known as the ‚W. S. Ranch‚ to this day. Then I moved five thousand head of cattle over on the San Francisco river, and put a butchershop in Deming, N. M. At the time the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific met in Deming, I had butchershops at Deming, Silver City, in the mines, and the beef contract for Fort Bayard, nine miles out of Silver City.

"About the year 1882 I had ‚dobe houses on the ranch, and about that time the Indians bothered me some. Where I had settled on the San Francisco river was right in between San Carlos and the Agua Caliente, the Hot Springs, where


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they moved Geronimo and Victorio with the Apaches of their tribes; they moved them to the San Carlos reservation. They broke away and raided west of us, and then went down into Old Mexico, about six or seven hundred warriors, and we stayed there through all the time that they were still in Old Mexico. About the 28th day of April I said to a foreman I had by the name of Elliott,-I had twenty-eight head of horses running out to the spring between Mineral Creek and Deep Creek, where I used to water and feed them, five miles from the river,-I said to Elliott, ‚I'm going out to get those horses, and we'll begin to-morrow to round up and brand cattle.‚ Some of the cattle, a thousand head that I got from the Mormons from Utah, had nothing but a road brand, and they were beginning to go back. I got on my horse and put my six shooter and Winchester on, and started out. About two o'clock in the afternoon I got up to this spring, took the field glasses which I carried under my arm, and got on high ground and looked around, but no horses, and I looked around everywhere, and then looked over in the mines. There was a mining camp there, about eleven miners working. It was called the Kinney District; Kinney discovered it. They had cabins down there, and I looked over down on them. It was down in a canyon and they were prospecting for quartz. I looked all around, and about three o'clock I looked over there, and at last I got on my horses' trail. They were going up what was called Deep Creek, about four miles or five, from Mineral Creek. This spring where my horses watered was fine, open country, and I got on the trail and


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was following the horses, thinking they had just strayed off. Everything was quiet and though we had had some trouble the year before with a bunch of Indians, killing seven of them, they were quiet most of the time then, and when I was following my horses they seemed to be going right over the Mogollons towards the Hot Springs, the home of these Indians where they had been moved from, and at last it came dark on me; I could trail them no longer, and I started home and got to my ranch about twelve o'clock. When I got to my ranch there was Kinney and Chickering, two of the prospectors. They told me the Indians, between sundown and dark, coming from the Mogollons on the trail, had tackled their camp; that the Indians thought they had killed all of them, the prospectors, but Kinney and Chickering crawled off when they were shooting at them, and got away after it became real dark, and got to my ranch. I said that I would bet they had got my horses; that they must have come over the Mogollons in the forenoon and taken the horses that I was trailing, and that it must have been Geronimo and Victorio. My foreman said he believed the same, but this Kinney was an Indian guide, and he said he did not think so; that it was a bunch of Indians travelling through the country. That night, however, we got ready; we had plenty of guns and five or six hundred rounds of ammunition for each gun. We had portholes in the ‚dobe house so we could fire out in every direction; we had built the house that way knowing we were in an Indian country. I had two fine corral horses which I always kept in the corral,


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never turned them out, and Kinney asked me to give him and Chickering these two horses next morning and they would go up and see what the Indians were doing. I told them they had better not go as I was sure it was Geronimo and Victorio, and that they would catch them and kill them. My old foreman told me to give them the horses if they wanted to go, and I gave them the horses, but told them to go up on the bank, and not to go up the road in the brush. They didn't take my advice though, but rode up the road in the brush, and it wasn't but a half an hour until the horses came back on the run without their riders, and ran into the corral. The Indians could have killed the horses easy enough, but they thought they would come and take my ranch and take the horses, and they followed these horses right down, we could see them across the river; there seemed to be two or three hundred of them right out in the open ground some distance away, and we knew then that it was Geronimo and Victorio. I had fifteen men and we were all standing in the open in front of the house. We fired at the Indians, thinking they didn't have as good guns as we had, because we had as good guns as that day could produce, but when they fired at us a rain of bullets came like hail. I was shot through the leg, a flesh wound, and Murray, who came over the plains with me, was shot through the left arm, and Wilcox, who was standing in the door, fell dead. I hollered to my men to fall down and we did, and crawled into the house, they still firing at us, and we got into the house and there were protected. They surrounded the house, but we kept firing at them


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through the portholes, and they tried to rush us all day, but when they would come near the house we would fire and we killed and wounded a large number of them. We fought from eight o'clock in the morning until ten at night, when they quit and went off aways and made fires and cooked their supper. They shot lots of my cattle for spite; my cattle were all around in the valleys and hills. I counted afterwards over six hundred of my cattle killed; fine American cattle. After everything quieted down my foreman took another man, John Foster, who afterwards died in the Soldier's Home in California, and they got them two horses and wrapped old sacks around their hoofs, and run the horses twenty-five miles to Duck Creek, where there was a ranch, and got other horses and rode into Silver City that night, and then the men of Silver City, everybody in Silver City, started out to help us; got wagons, horses and anything, and started out. The next morning, however, the Indians didn't tackle us again, and we thought it strange that we couldn't see any dead Indians lying around, but they took their dead away. It seems that they went over to Eagle Creek, where a man by the name of Stevens had married a squaw, and there was a lot of Indians there, adjoining the San Carlos Reservation, to get more ammunition from Stevens' Indians, but they wouldn't give them any, and they got into a fight there. Captain Kramer, with four companies of the 6th Cavalry was coming from Fort Apache; he heard the Indians was down in our country and he ran into this band of Geronimo and Victorio, had a fight with them, and lost twelve of his soldiers.


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This was the reason they didn't tackle us again. I guess they couldn't get ammunition. Captain Kramer came over to the ranch that afternoon and I was never so glad to see anyone as I was to see him and his soldiers. They were the first to get there; the Silver City people didn't get in for quite a spell. The Indians ran away and went up the river, and at Los Lentes they swung around and killed all the people in Los Lentes, thirty-six families; never left a chick nor child. They went marauding and never spared anybody, killed people everywhere.

"Fred, my son, was a boy of perhaps three or four years of age, and he was with me in that fight. Both he and his mother were with me in that fight, and, speaking of Fred, I remember so often that when we thought him not old enough to think of such things he would say: ‚Papa, when I get big I am going to be a good man and a great man,‚ and that has been typical of his actions, for he has developed a big country at Colter and spent much time and money for public welfare. He was County Supervisor of Apache County for five years, a Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and is now serving his second term in the State Senate (1918). He is also a Democratic National Committeeman and, although only thirty-nine years of age, I look forward to a great future for him. After this fight I took my family to Silver City, and kept them there all summer in the Hotel.

"I sold that ranch two years afterwards to an English company headed by Lord Woolsey's son; sold out my butcher shops in Deming, Silver


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City, etc., and then went up the river sixty-five miles further, and bought four thousand cattle and a big ranch, and sixteen thousand sheep from a rich Spaniard, Don Luis Baca. I kept that ranch for three years, and sold that to another English company; that ranch was known as the ‚S. U. Ranch.‚ Then I went to Kansas and stayed there to educate my children; kept a feeding ranch and raised fine cattle there for several years.

"I came back to Arizona along in the early nineties to where I had first settled. Fred was born right in the Nutrioso valley. I engaged in the stock business in the same place; my boys went into the same business and I have been travelling in California and all over for the last few years. I never worked very much after my boys grew up. I have three sons and one girl. The girl married Tom Phelps and she is living up there too. I was married in Springerville in 1875 to a southern girl by the name of Rosa Rudd, the daughter of Dr. Wm. Rudd, one of the first pioneers of that country.

"When I left Wisconsin for Arizona, we first came down in the boat from Eau Claire on the Chippewa river, run on a boat and come to Davenport, Iowa, and there I chartered cars and came to the end of the Santa Fe Railroad at Atchison, Kansas, and then started in the wagons. I drove one wagon; we had one wagon with grub, one with the reaper and mower, and one with tools, etc. One of the boys, Murray, was a blacksmith, and he made puzzle hobbles which we put on the horses at night. No one could take them off but ourselves and we drove


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our horses clear through to Springerville, which was then Round Valley. We would take turns guarding them at night and we never lost a horse. We were the three Jims, Jim Colter, Jim Murray, and Jim Powell, the latter a Canadian who came out with us.

"The way we came to start was that this man Moore whom I spoke of, wrote to a man named Lamb; I didn't know Moore myself, but Lamb told us about it. Lamb had a little pair of mules, and he wanted to go to Arizona. I had good, heavy wagons, and he said he was going to take Moore's family, and when we got down to start on the boat, a drive of about fifty miles, he was there with his little pair of mules and the Moore family of five children. Lamb came to me and said that he was out of money, and wanted to know if he could come along anyhow. It provoked me to have him start off without telling me first that he was short, but I told him to come on anyhow, and we brought the whole bunch through with us. He was an old man and we didn't even have him stand guard at night, but took care of the whole bunch. I had to furnish them with grub and paid all their expenses."

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