Cowboy Detective, Government Scout, Interpreter
BY TOM HORN
I was born near Memphis, Scotland County, Missouri, Novem-ber 21, 1860, a troublesome time, to be sure; and anyone born in Missouri is bound to see trouble, so says Bill Nye.
Up to the time I left home I suppose I had more trouble than any man or boy in Missouri. We had Sunday schools and church, and as my mother was a good old-fashioned Campbellite, I was supposed to go to church and Sunday school, as did most of the boys and girls in the neighborhood. I had three brothers and four sisters, and there was not one of them but acted as though he really liked to go to those places. I had nothing particular against going, if it had not been for the ‘coon, turkey, quail, rabbits, prairie chickens, ‘possums, skunks and other game of that kind, with once in a season a fat, corn-fed deer; and they were all neglected to such an extent by the rest of the family, that it kept me busy most every Sunday, and many nights through the week, to do what I considered right in trying to keep on proper terms with the game.
I would steal out the gun and take the dog and hunt all day Sunday and many a night through the week, knowing full well that whenever I did show up at home I would get a whipping or a scolding from my mother or a regular thumping from father.
My mother was a tall, powerful woman, and she would whip me and cry, and tell me how much good she was trying to do me by breaking me of my Indian ways, so she called them (though I had never seen an Indian, and did not know what their ways were). Then if a skunk or ‘coon or fox came along and carried off one of her chickens during the night, at daylight she would wake me and give me the gun and tell me to take old Shedrick, the dog, and go and follow up the varmint and kill it.
For a kid, I must have been a very successful hunter, for when our neighbors would complain of losing a chicken (and that was a serious loss to them), mother would tell them that whenever any varmint bothered her hen-roosts, she just sent out Tom and Shed, and when they came back they always brought the pelt of the varmint with them.
To this day, I believe mother thought the dog was of more importance against varmints than I was. But Shedrick and I both understood that I was the better, for I could climb any tree in Missouri, and dig frozen ground with a pick, and follow cold tracks in the mud or snow, and knew more than the dog in a good many ways. Still, I think, even yet, that there never was a better dog. I always thought Shed could whip any dog in Missouri (and at that time I did not know there was any other place than Missouri, except, perhaps, Iowa. I knew of Iowa, because one of our neighbors came from there).
But I had many a hard fight myself to keep up the reputation of old Shed, for as he began to get old and wise, I do believe he thought I would always help him. Once in a while Dad would go to an election or public sale or horse race or something, and Shed would go with him and sometimes the dog would get whipped. When he did get whipped he always came home looking pretty badly used up, and after an occurrence of that kind, Shed would not leave me for days.
I recollect a family of boys named Griggs who had what they always claimed was the best ‘coon dog and the best fighter in the world; (Missouri or our neighborhood was the world to them), and now I think he must have been a good dog and no mistake; but at that time I did certainly hate him.
Whenever the Griggs boys and I ran together, we had a dog fight, and the termination of the meeting was always a fight between Sam Griggs and myself. I also distinctly recollect that on nearly every occasion Shed and I both went home pretty badly used up. Sam Griggs always said I helped Shed and he would try to keep me from doing so; then Sam and I would mix. I guess we fought a hundred times and he always quit when he “had his satisfy” for I never did nor could lick him.
The Griggs dog was named Sandy (because he was yellow, I suppose), and my argument always was that my dog Shed knew more than Sandy. To illustrate, once Sam Griggs was up in a tree to shake off a ‘coon for Sandy to kill. A limb of the tree broke and down came Sam, and Sandy jumped on him and bit his ear and bit him in the arm and shoulder and used Sam up pretty badly before he could get Sandy to understand that he was not a ‘coon or a wild cat. I always claimed that Shed would have had more sense than to jump on me if I had been fool enough to fall out of a tree.
My mother was always anxious to have all the children go to school during the winter months, and I always had to go, or to start anyway; but all the natural influences of the country were against my acquiring much of an education. During the summer we had to work on the farm, and work hard and long hours putting in crops and tending to them. Thus I had little legitimate time to fish and hunt bee trees. So when winter came and the work was all done and the crops all in, I wanted to go and look after the game, but as I was ordered to go to school, I had to go.
The first natural influence of any importance was that the school house was a mile from the house we lived in, and there was always more or less snow on the ground in winter, and on the trail to school I would always be finding fresh rabbit or ‘coon or cat tracks crossing the trail to school. I never could cross a fresh track, for I would see one and the rest of the children would pay no attention to it, so I would follow it a little ways just to see which way it went, and then I would go on a little farther, and then I would say to myself, “I will be late for school and get licked.” Then an overpowering desire to get that rabbit or ‘coon or wild cat, as it happened to be, would overcome me, and I would go back in the orchard behind the house, call the dog and as he would come running to me, the stuff for school was all off, and Shed and I would go hunting. So you see, had the school house been nearer, I could have gotten there a great deal oftener than I did.
I could never keep my mind on my books when I was at school, for if it happened to commence to snow I could not help thinking about how fine it would be to trail ‘coon on the morrow, and I would speculate a good deal more on the skins of the varmints I could catch, and could see far more advantage in having a good string of pelts than in learning to read, write and cipher.
Things were beginning to get rather binding on me about this time any way, as a cousin named Ben Markley came to live with us. He was a son of my mother’s sister, and I guess he was the best boy in the world. Oh, how many hundred times I was whipped or scolded and asked by father, or mother or school teacher, why I did not do as Bennie did.
Ben never forgot to wash or comb his hair. He never swore. He could walk to school and not get his boots muddy. One pair of boots would last him as long as four pairs would me. He never whispered in school; never used tobacco. He never went hunting nor fishing on Sunday, and never wanted to. He never had any fights and he would talk of an evening about what the lesson would be in Sunday school next Sunday. Those were some of his good points, but not all for he was held up as a model of perfection by everybody. Of course my opinion of him was different.
I knew he could not shoot. He could not climb a tree. He did not know a ‘coon track from a cow track. He was afraid of bees when a bee tree was to be robbed. He said ‘coon skins were nasty, and for skunks he could not go at all. He did not know how to bait a hook to fish.
He could not swim, was afraid of horses, and once he struck old Shed-rick with a piece of hoop pole. I had known a long time before this that he was a failure, so far as I estimated boys, so when he struck the sharer of my joys and sorrows, I jumped onto him. I was about 13 and he was about 17, but I had him whipped before my mother and the rest of the family could get me off him. Dad was there but he did not try to help the women pull me off, for I do think Ben was a little too good for him.
Well, after that, Shed and I left him alone and he put in a good deal of his spare time leaving us alone. That row with Bennie made me no favorite with the women folks; something that was of little importance to me.
The climax to my home life came the next spring. Some emigrants were going along the road, and behind the wagons were two boys on one horse, bareheaded, and one of them had an old, single-barreled shot gun. They met Shed and me on the road and stopped to talk to us. I remarked that a man who shot game with a shot gun was no good. The oldest one of the boys asked me if I called myself a man, and the answer that I made him caused them both to get off their old mare, and tie her to the fence. The younger and smaller of the two held the gun and the big one and I started to scrap. Things were looking so unfavorable to the boy I was fighting with that the smaller boy laid his gun down on the ground and was going to help his brother. He gave me a kick in the jaw as a preliminary; but he never smiled again. Old Shed sprang and caught him and threw him down and bit him in the arm and shoulder in doing it.
That stopped the fight between the other boy and me, as I had to let the big one go to take care that Shed did not hurt the small one too much.
Well, I took the dog off and told them they had better get on their old mare and go and get the rest of the family if they wanted to win a fight, and then the big one picked up the gun and helped the small boy on the mare, and he raised the gun and shot poor, old a Shed. Shed whined and I could scarcely believe such a thing had been done. The big boy then got on the mare with the other one and they went off at a gallop. I carried Shed home, which was about a quarter of a mile away, and he died that night.
I believe that was the first and only real sorrow of my life.
Dad got on his horse and went and overtook the emigrant train that night, and I guess there was “something doin,” for he came home that night before Shed died and he was pretty badly done up himself. Dad was called the hardest man to whip in Northwest Missouri, but when he came home that night he looked to me like a man who had had at least what I would have called enough.
I was about fourteen years old by this time and I wanted to go somewhere. I had heard of California and thought that would be a good place to go. Dad and I had a disagreement one day and he had the trace of a single buggy harness in his hand, and he struck at me with it. I grabbed it and then the fight was on.
Well, I tried to do something, but the old man was too much for me. When I saw I was in for a daisy, I told him to just help himself, as it was his last time, for I was going to leave home.
He helped himself, and when he got through, he said:
“Now, if you are going to leave home, go! and just remember that the last time the old man whipped you, he gave you a good one. Go, “he said, “but ask your mother for a lunch to take with you. You will be back by night if you start in the morning, and if you take a lunch with you, you won’t miss your dinner.”
This happened at the barn. I lay down on the hay and lay there all night. Next morning, mother and the girls carried me to the house and put me in bed where I lay for a week. Dad had done his work well.
As soon as I could get around, I sold my rifle, kissed my mother for the last time in my life, went out and took a look at old Shedrick’s grave, got a lunch and started West.
Horn Becomes Stage Driver, Interpreter, Visits Apaches
I had, of course, heard of the West, California, Texas and Kansas also, but from all the geography I had picked up at school I could not form any idea as to the location or character of these places. I had not the faintest idea, except that I supposed they were West.
There was no railroad there, and as I had no horse nor team, I started on foot. I headed West, and walked and walked day after day, stopping at farm houses to get my grub; and many a good woman would give me a lunch to take with me. I never went hungry, and as it was in July and August, I could sleep anywhere. One woman, named Mrs. Peters, made me stay all day at her house, and wear some of her son’s clothes while she washed mine and started me out into the world again as clean as a new dollar.
When I got to Kansas City I spent the first cent since I left home. I stayed in Kansas City two days and then hired to an employment agency to go to Newton, Kansas, to work on the Santa Fe railroad.
I worked on the railroad at Newton about twenty-six days and got $21.00 for it, and then went with a man named Blades with his two teams on toward Santa Fe. Traveling in this way, and with freighters, I finally reached Santa Fe in the latter part of 1874, just about Christmas time, in fact. Up to the time I left home I had never been five miles away but once, and that was when I went to the County Seat of our County, Memphis, a town of perhaps 7,000.
By the time I got to Santa Fe I was a different boy from what I was when I left home. I was getting wis- dom and gray-backs. In January, 1875, I hired out to Mr. Murray, Superintendent of the Overland Mail Route, that ran from Santa Fe to Prescott, Arizona.
I drove from Santa Fe to Los Pinos for a couple of months for $50.00 a month, and was furnished a rifle to guard the mail and protect the passengers and keep up appearances, I guess. Then I was sent on to drive from Los Pinos to Bacon Springs or Crane’s Ranch. I drove a couple of months there, and in May I was called in to Santa Fe by Mr. Murray, and sent with another man to the Beaver Head Station, close to the Verde River, in Arizona, to take mules to replace some stolen by the Indians.
So within a year from the time I left home I was on the Beaver Head Creek, in the heart of the Indian country, and could speak Mexican fairly well.
My feelings were so different and my life was so different from what it was at home that it seemed to me then as though I had been all my life on a stage line.
I left Beaver Head and went down the river to Camp Verde, a government post, but I was not traveling on foot any more, for I had a good horse, saddle, bridle, and a Winchester rifle.
That Fall I went to work for George Hansen, herding oxen at night for the men hauling wood into Camp Verde. I got $75.00 a month for three months, and five years ago, George Hansen told me I was the best night herder he ever saw. Nearly all the teamsters and choppers were Mexicans, and at Christmas when I left there and went to Prescott, I could speak Mexican as well as a native could. It had taken me just about a year to get from Santa Fe to Prescott, but I had learned more in that year than in all my previous life.
The cavalry horses for the Department of Arizona all came overland from California at that time, and they came in big bunches of about 400 each, so I hired out to the Quartermaster to herd these horses till the different posts sent and got their allowance, Ft. Whipple, right at Prescott, being the Department Headquarters. There were three of us to do the work, and as the other two were Mexicans and I was an American, although only sixteen years old, I was made boss of the Quartermaster’s herd.
When all the cavalry horses were issued to the different troops of the Fifth Cavalry, I was out of a job, and Al Sieber, Chief of Scouts, came into Whipple from Tonto Basin and stayed a couple of weeks, and when he was getting ready to go back south he asked me how I would like to go with him as Mexican interpreter at $75.00 a month. He told me I would be with him all the time, and I was tickled to get a chance to go, so in July of ’76 we set out for San Carlos Agency, where we arrived in about ten days.
My work, as I found out, was nothing at all. Sieber just wanted me because I was young and active and could travel with him all day and herd the horses at night, and do the cooking and tend to the packs and clean his gun every night; and all of this was fun for me.
The San Carlos, or Apache Reservation, was sixty miles wide and one hundred and twenty miles long, and Sieber and I, with a few Indian scouts and police, were on the go all the balance of the year around on the reservation. Sieber was keeping an eye on the peace and conduct of the Indians. Sieber spoke Apache and Mexican both, and as there were always Indians with us, I began to learn the language very rapidly.
That was a glorious time for me, as I could hunt deer and turkey to my heart’s content, and if I would leave camp and be gone all night to some Indian camp, Sieber never said a word against it; in fact, he encouraged it, as he saw I was getting onto the Indians’ ways and lan- guage very fast.
Sieber was one of the grandest men in the world in my eyes, and although old and white-headed and a cripple for life now, he is still a nobleman. Up to some time after this I had never seen Sieber’s “mad” and he was always, during our many years of association, as kind as a school ma’am to me, but oh, what a terror he was when he arose in his wrath! You bet there were things doin’ then.
The first time I ever saw him right mad was when we went to where an Indian was making Tis-win (Indian whiskey). The Indian was an old offender, and Sieber began to talk to him in Mexican, which Sieber said the Indian understood perfectly. The Indian, whose name was Chu-ga-de-slon-a (which means “centipede” in Missouri), spoke to Sieber in Apache, and told him that he was always watching around like an old meddlesome squaw. Sieber said: “Yes, I am always watching such men as you, that make devil’s drink.” Chu-ga-de-slon-a said: “I have a notion to kill you, Jon-a-chay,” and that was what made Sieber mad. Jon-a-chay in Apache means “meddler.”
Well, the Indian had picked up his gun as he said this, and Sieber sprang towards him, and I guess must have pulled his knife as he did so, for he caught that Indian by the hair and made one swipe at him with his knife and nearly cut his head off.
The Indian had been fermenting his stuff in a big earthen- ware pot. Sieber slung this Indian to the ground, looked at him a minute, then picked him up and threw him partly into this big pot. The pot would not hold the Indian, or he certainly would have put him entirely in. I am pretty sure that I was scared, anyhow I had a very queer feeling.
Sieber turned to some squaws who were helping make this Tis-win and told them to get their horses, get away from there and go back where the rest of the Indians were on White River and tell the rest of the Indians that they had better leave off making that stuff, as he, Sieber, calculated to stop the biggest part of the making of it some how. And when he caught a man at it the first time he would put him in the calaboose; but when he caught a man at it like the one he had just killed, who was always making Tis-win, that he would just slay him, so he could make no more trouble among the other Indians by making and selling them Tis-win.
We then went into camp close by and stayed a couple of days, and I don’t think Sieber slept a wink for those two days and nights, also he had very little to say and he looked awfully stern and determined. I was very uneasy, myself, as were the Indians with us, but I asked no questions of Sieber and he said nothing to me more than to keep the mules and horses close to camp and never to lay my gun down for one minute.
At the end of two days we broke camp and went over on White River, and camped right in the forks of White and Black Rivers. Our Indians stayed in camp, and Sieber and I went up the river about a mile to the camp of a chief named Pedro, and we had a long talk with the old chief, who spoke Spanish perfectly.
Pedro had always been tolerably friendly towards Sieber, and Sieber told the old chief what he was trying to do. Pedro said he did not want his men either to make or to drink whiskey, and that he would help Sieber at all times. He also told Sieber that all Indians were not bad, but that some of them were as good as any man the Great Spirit put on earth, but that he had six hundred warriors, and some of them were as bad as a bad Apache could be, and that he could not do anything with them. He said that the bad ones never got killed, and they never got good nor old and disabled, but just remained and were always in any and all trouble that came up. “You see, they are part Devil,” said Pedro, “or they would get old or get killed some time.”
Pedro ordered his women to feed us, which they did, giving us roast venison straight, but it was well roasted, and we ate heartily. Pedro asked Sieber where he got me, and if I was not a Mexican half-breed, but Sieber said I was a pure American. Pedro said: “Well, I hear him speaking Mexican to my men and boys and that is the reason I thought he was a half-breed.” Sieber said: “He is learning Apache very fast, too.”
Pedro then commenced to talk to me in Apache. I was very much embarrassed at first, for Pedro, the great Chief, Warrior, Friend of the Whites, Counsellor and Orator, was to me a great personage; but when once I got to talking Apache to him he made me feel at home. Pedro asked me to stay and visit with him a few days and go hunting with his young men, and I told him I would like to do so but that I had to go away when Sieber went. Sieber was away at some distance talking to some old women and Pedro and I walked over, and Pedro asked Sieber to let me stay and visit with him for a while. He asked Sieber also to stay but Sieber said it was not con- venient for him to do so.
While we were talking of this visit some soldiers came into the forks, and Indian runners came running and told us of it. It caused some little excitement, which Pedro immediately proceeded to quiet.
Life Among the Apache
It proved to be Lieutenant Wheeler, of the Fifth Cavalry, with about twenty men. A rumor had gone into San Carlos to the effect that we were held by the Indians, and Wheeler had come out to see.
Wheeler was led by the famous Micky Free. I will here give a little sketch of the pedigree and disposition of this still noted character. Micky Free was born in 1855, on the Sonoita River, close to the Mexican and Arizona line. His father was an Irishman named Hughes, and his mother was a Mexican woman. His father and mother were killed in 1862 by the Indians, and he and his sister were carried off into captivity. Micky was then about seven and his sister about nine years old. He now spoke both Mexican and Apache like a professor, and was the wildest dare-devil in the world at this time. He had long, fiery red hair and one blue eye, the other having been hooked out by a wounded deer when he was twelve years old. He had a small, red mustache, and a “mug” that looked like the original map of Ireland.
He was about twenty-one or twenty-two years old at the time of which I am writing, and had been working for the Government for several years. Always considered an invaluable man by the Government, he was thoroughly qualified for a typical scout and guide in every sense, except the fact that he never had any regard for his own life, and would, with a smile on his face, have led Wheeler and his handful of men against old Pedro and his 600 warriors, knowing that Pedro could be reinforced by 1,000 more men in four hours, and by 2,500 in ten hours. Such was Micky Free. He is now living on the White Mountain part of the Reservation, and has a large Indian family, and is wealthy in “horses, cattle, squaws and dogs,” as he himself puts it.
Well, to resume: Sieber and I went back down to the forks and met Wheeler, and Sieber and he had a long talk.
They then sent a squad of soldiers back to San Carlos to report everything O.K., and Sieber and his party safe and sound.
Micky Free had a sweetheart in Pedro’s band, and as soon as Wheeler made camp and Sieber and I showed up all right, Micky went off with his girl, and we did not see anything more of him until midnight, when I heard him challenged by the soldier guard, and shortly after I heard a hum of voices in the dark and I knew Micky and Sieber and Lieutenant Wheeler were holding a council of some kind. I could hear Wheeler and Sieber talk to Micky in Spanish, and then I could hear them talk to one another in English, and I knew there was something in the wind. I knew, also, when Wheeler and Sieber talked English they did so because they did not want Micky to understand them. I could not hear what they were talking about, and neither could I go to sleep.
Presently a voice said to me, in Apache: “Are you the ‘Talking Boy?'” I was scared for an instant, for I was fully awake, though I had heard no one move. There sat Micky by the head of my bed. Micky saw me start when he spoke to me, and he gave a low laugh as though he were tickled.
I told him I was the “Talking Boy” (as the Apaches called me), and he said that the Soldier Captain and Sieber would speak with me, and that they awaited me. I got up and took my gun and went over to where Sieber and Wheeler were. They asked me how I would like to live there with Chief Pedro for a while by myself that is, with no other soldiers or scouts. When it came to the question of living there a while, I felt a little timid; and then old Sieber gave me a long, fatherly talk. He said, in substance: “Tom, do you like this kind of life, and do you calculate to follow it? That is what I want to know first.” I told him I did like it, and calculated to follow it if I was made of the right kind of stuff.
“Now,” said he, “I want you to do what I am going to tell you. In the morning take your horses (I had three head) and go up and live with Pedro. Pedro is a good man, and he has taken a fancy to you, and you are picking up the Apache language very fast; in six months you will speak the language like a native. You are naturally born for a life of this kind, and are just the right age to begin. You are an excellent shot, a good hunter, and after a few years of this kind of life you will become a good and valuable man in the Indian wars which will continue for many years to come. Now, I will take you up to Pedro’s camp in the morning and leave you there, for Pedro sent Micky down here to ask for you, as he likes you personally, and wants very much to have a Government representative in his camp.”
I told Sieber I would try it, and we then made arrangements about my pay and grub, and the next morning Sieber, Wheeler, Micky and I went up to Pedro’s camp, and I turned my extra horses loose with the old chief’s band that were herded and looked after by the Indian boys and girls, and I saw Sieber, Wheeler and Micky ride down the river without me.
I was watching them, and wondering where I would get off at, when old Pedro said: “Well, my son, you are an Apache, now.”
Pedro then gave me a lot of good advice, and called his son (or one of them, for he had about forty children); but he called one named Kamon, and told me there was a brother for me, and for me always to call him Chi-kis-in (brother). He told Kamon to treat me as a brother.
“And now,” ended Pedro, “my camp is your camp, and my lodge will be your lodge till you set up one for yourself. There are many fine girls here, and I know several that are waiting now to get a chance to throw a stick at you.” (The custom of Apache girls is to throw a stick to you if she likes you. You can then court her after their fashion.)
So, here I was, in the latter part of ’76, a full-fledged Indian, living in Pedro’s camp as a Government agent, though receiving $75.00 a month as interpreter. I got along well, considering everything; hunted to my heart’s content, and game was plentiful.
I made frequent trips to San Carlos and Fort Apache. On one of my trips to San Carlos we met a herd of horses that had just come up from Sonora to be sold to the Indians; stolen in Mexico, so Sieber said. They were selling at from $12.00 to $20.00 a head, and I bought eight head of them; also bought two fine Mexican saddles and bridles for $80.00. I gave four of the horses and a sad- dle and bridle to my new Indian brother, and we went back to Pedro’s camp rich and respectable. I also gave one of the Mexicans $5.00 for a fine Mexican blanket, which I gave to Chief Pedro, and I do believe he thought more of that blanket than he did of any squaw he had; and he was sure rich in squaws.
This was only a short time before Christmas of ’76.
The following morning, after my new brother and I got back to Pedro’s camp, we were summoned before the chief, and he made us a long, fatherly talk, and told us how well fixed we were, and said it was time we had a lodge of our own, as it would look as though we could not make our own way, living so long as we were in one of his lodges. We were advised to buy each of us a wife and set up a house of our own. This was given to us in the privacy of his council lodge. We were then dismissed.
That day my brother and I took a long ride; in fact, we went to Fort Apache to show off our new saddles and bridles. At Fort Apache my brother (whom I will call Chi-kis-in from now on) met one of his sisters, or rather a half sister, and she had just lost her buck; another Indian had killed him, and she was going to Pedro’s camp to live. She had four horses and three kids, the oldest about nine years and the youngest about six years old, and she had also five dogs. It was ration day in Fort Apache, and hundreds of Indians were there drawing their rations, which every Indian drew once a week (every Friday). Well, Chi-kis-in and I concluded this was the chance to get a housekeeper, for it was a sure thing Pedro wanted us to have a lodge of our own. A word of advice, I may add, was the same as a command from Pedro.
This woman, who was called Sawn, said she would be our housekeeper if we would keep grub in camp. Keeping house in an Indian camp meant to do our washing, cooking, to tan our buckskins, make our moccasins, herd our horses, and, in fact, do everything there was to be done. In those days an Apache buck did nothing but hunt.
In a week’s time we had a fine lodge and were the proudest “Injins” in camp.
Pedro’s Surprising Advise to the U.S. Cavalry
Shortly after this, which was early in ’77, I was called to San Carlos by Major Chaffee, (who is now General Chaffee of world-wide fame). Major Chaffee had come to Arizona in the fall of ’76, and early in ’77 was selected by the Government as Indian Agent. The first Military Indian Agency was thus established at San Carlos, all previous agents had been Civilian Agents. Indians, newspapers and merchants all over the country said the Civilian Agents could, would and did sell grub, such as flour, sugar, coffee, soap, baking powder and beans, a great deal cheaper than the merchants could afford to.
I, myself, have seen grub by the twelve-mule-team-load haul-ed away. Rations were supposed to be issued to 12,000 Indians every week, and for years not more than 5,000 of them would come in for their rations, and it was claimed that the Civilian Agents sold the extra grub; issued the rations on paper for all the 12,000 Indians, and did a big business in competition with the local merchants.
Major Chaffee called Chief Pedro and myself down to explain to Pedro the change in affairs, and to get Pedro to use his influence to have all the Indians do as he, Pedro, was doing, that is, come in and draw their rations once a week and be counted, and to stop, if it could be done, all the raiding, stealing and killing around in the country.
The council and big talk lasted for several days and nothing much came of it. Pedro said he could and did control his band of close to 600 warriors and their families, but that there were hundreds of Indians no one could control. He advised Major Chaffee to take his soldiers and go and kill off all the bad, turbulent Indians, and he offered Major Chaffee 200 good warriors to help him do it. Major Chaffee then asked Pedro how it would do to send me out to talk to the bad Indians and to live with them; maybe they could be controlled in that way.
Pedro was a grand and very impressive orator for an Indian, and he always stood up while talking, and when Major Chaffee proposed to send me to the Cibicu country, where the bad Indians lived (and of which I will write later) to try to pacify them, the old Chief said, “No, he must not and shall not go unless you allow me to send at least 100 warriors with him. Soldier Captain, you know soldiers. I am an Indian Chief, as was my father and my father’s father, and I have more influence with the Indians than any man on earth, and I know the Apaches as you know your soldiers. But the day you send this boy to the Cibicu country alone, will be the day he dies, for to you, I, Chief Pedro, do say no white man can go among them and return. They will burn him at the stake and send an old Indian woman in and tell you to keep your flour and sugar and send on some more warriors for them to burn.”
Of course, when Major Chaffee saw the old Chief talk so long and earnestly and passionately, and after I had told him what the old Chief said, then, and for the first time, did Major Chaffee understand what kind of people he had to deal with, and I was not sent to the Cibicu country.
Pedro told Major Chaffee that the Aqua Caliente and Chiricahuas were even worse than the Cibicus, as they lived in Mexico and raided up into Arizona and then went back across the Mexico line, and the American troops could not follow them; that so long as there was Aqua Caliente and Chiricahua Indians, just so long would there be Indian wars. The old man knew what he was talking about, for the war with those Indians continued for exactly ten years longer.
There were many different branches of the Apache tribe, named as follows: Tonto Apaches, San Carlos Apaches, White Mountain Apaches, Cibicus, Aqua Caliente (or warm spring), and last and worst of all, the Chiricahuas. These Indians all spoke the same language, but were divided acording to their dispositions. Thus a bad Tonto would leave the Tontos and go to the Cibicus or to the Chiricahuas, and a timid Chiricahua would go to the Tontos, so at the time of which I am writing you could find a good Indian or a bad one by knowing to what tribe he belonged. They all wore their hair different, and to one accustomed to them, they could be told apart as far as you could see them.
Well, at the end of this talk which lasted several days, we all went back to the White Mountains and I stayed there till the middle of May and was then sent for to go to San Carlos and there I was told by the Quartermaster that there was no more money in the Department to pay me so I would have to be discharged until another appropriation was made. All the rest of the scouts and packers were in the same fix.
We were consequently discharged, and Major Chaffee told us that he had understood there had been a good many irregularities around the Agency and that one of the strictest requirements of the Interior Department was that no white man not in the employ of the Government would be allowed to live on the Reservation, and we were given to understand that we must “git up and git out.”
…To be continued
(Next issue: Tom Horn meets Geronimo)