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Captivity of the Oatman Girls
First Night's EncampmentThe first Encampment The Oatman Family Their checkered Allotment up to the Time of their Emigration Mr. Oatman His Ill-health Proposes to join the Party organized to form an American Colony near the Gulf of California, in 1849 The 10th of August Discord in Camp, owing to the religious Prejudices of a few First Danger from Indians The Camanche Band Two Girls taken for " Injins " The Grape Dumpling Mexican Settlements The Hunt for Antelopes, and its tragical End Charles refuses to fight "Injins" with Prayer
More Scarcity of Provisions Discontent and Murmurings Mr. Lane His Death Loss of Animals by the Apaches Mrs. M. in the "Well Santa Cruz and Tukjon Some of the Company remain here Pimole The only traveling Companions of the Oatman Family resolve to remain Mr. Oatman, in Perplexity, resolves to proceed.
THE 9th of August, 1850, was a lovely day. The sun had looked upon the beautiful plains surrounding Independence, Missouri, with a full, unclouded face, for thirteen hours of that day; when, standing about four miles south of westward from the throbbing city of Independence, alive with the influx and efflux of emigrant men and women, the reader, could lie have occupied that stand, might have seen, about one half hour before sunset, an emigrant train slowly approaching him from the city. This train consisted of about twenty wagons, a band of emigrant cattle, and about fifty souls, men, women, and children, Attended by the music of lowing cattle, and the chatter of happy children, it was slowly traversing a few miles, at this late hour of the day, to seek a place of sufficient seclusion to enable them to hold the first and preparatory night's camp away from the bustle and confusion of the town.
Just as the sun was gladdening the clear west, and throwing its golden farewells upon the innumerable peaks that stretched into a forest of mountains gradually rising until they seemed to lean against the sun-clad shoulders of the Rocky Range, imparadising the whole plain and mountain country in its radiant embrace, the shrill horn of the leader and captain suddenly pealed through the moving village, a circle was formed, and the heads of the several families were in presence of the commander, waiting orders for the camping arrangements for the night.
Soon teams were detached from the wagons, and with the cattle (being driven for commencement in a new country) were turned forth upon the grass. Rich and abundant pasturage was stretching from the place of their halt westward, seemingly until it bordered against the foot-hills of the Indian Territory in the distance.
Among the fifty souls that composed that emigrant band, some were total strangers. Independence had been selected as the gathering-place of all who might heed a call that had been published and circulated for months, beating up for volunteers to an emigrant company about seeking a home in the Southwest, It was intended, as the object and destination of this company, to establish an American colony near the mouth of the Gulf of California. Inducements had been held out, that if the region lying about the juncture of the Colorado and Gila Rivers could thus be colonized, every facility should be guaranteed the colonists for making to themselves a comfortable and luxuriant home.
After a frugal meal, served throughout the various divisions of the camp, the evening of the 9th was spent in perfecting regulations for the long and dangerous trip, and in the forming of acquaintances, and the interchange of salutations and gratulations.
Little groups, now larger and now smaller, by the constant moving to and fro of members of the camp, had chatted the evening up to a seasonable bedtime. 'Then, at the call of the "crier," all were collected around one camp-fire for the observance of public worship, which was conducted by a clergyman present. Into that hour of earnest worship were crowded memories of the home-land and friends now forever abandoned for a settlement in the "far-off South west." There flowed and mingled the tear of regret and of hope; there and then rose the earnest prayer for Providential guidance; and at that hour there swelled out upon the soft, clear air of as lovely an evening as ever threw its star-lit curtain upon hill and vale, the song of praise and the shout of triumph, not alone in the prospect of a home by the Colorado of the South, but of glad exultation in the prospect of a home hard by the " River of Life," which rose to view as the final termination of the journeying and toil incident to mortality's pilgrimage.
FIRST NIGHT'S ENCAMPMENT
Now, the hush of sleep's wonted hour has stolen slowly over the entire encampment, and nothing without indicates remaining life, save the occasional growl of the ever-faithful watch-dog, or the outburst of some infant member of that villa-camp, wearied and worn, and over tasked by the hurry and bustle of the previous day.
Reader, we now wish you to go with us into that camp, and receive an introduction to an interesting family consisting of father, mother, and seven children; the oldest of this juvenile group a girl of six teen, the youngest a bright little boy of one year. Silence is here, but to that household sleep has no welcome. The giant undertaking upon which they are now fairly launched is so freighted with interest to themselves and their little domestic kingdom, as to leave no hour during the long night for the senses to yield to the soft dominion of sleep. Besides, this journey now before them has been preceded by lesser ones, and these had been so frequent and of such trivial result as that vanity seemed written upon all the deep and checkered past, with its world of toil and journeying. In a subdued whisper, but with speaking countenances and sparkling eyes, these parents are dwelling upon this many-colored by-gone.
Mr. Oatman is a medium-sized man, about five feet in height, black hair, with a round face, and yet in the very prime of life. Forty-one winters had scarcely been able to plow the first furrow of age upon his manly cheek. Vigorous, healthy, and of a jovial turn of mind, predisposed to look only upon the bright side of everything, he was happy; of a sanguine temperament, he was given to but little fear, and seemed ever drinking from the fresh fountains of a living buoyant hope. From his boyhood he had been of a restless, roving disposition, fond of novelty, and anxious that nothing within all the circuit of habitable earth should be left out of the field of his ever curious and prying vision.
He had been favored with rare educational ad vantages during his boyhood, in "Western New-York. These advantages he had improved with a promising vigilance until about nineteen years of age. He then became anxious to see, and try his fortune in, the then far away west. The thought of emigrating had not been long cogitated by his quick and ready mind, ere he came to a firm resolution to plant his feet upon one of the wild prairies of Illinois.
He was now of age, and his father and mother, Lyman and Lucy Oatman, had spent scarcely one year keeping hotel in Laharpe, Illinois, ere they were joined by their son Royse.
Soon after going to Illinois, Royse was joined in marriage to Miss Mary Ann Sperry, of Laharpe. Miss Sperry was an intelligent girl of about eighteen, and, by nature and educational advantages, abundantly qualified to make her husband happy and his home an attraction. She was sedate, confiding, and affectionate, and in social accomplishments placed, by her peculiar advantages, above most of those around her. From childhood she had been the pride of fond and wealthy parents; and it was their boast that she had never merited a rebuke for any wrong. The first two years of this happy couple was spent on a farm near Laharpe. During this time some little means had been accumulated by an honest industry and economy, and these means Mr. Oatman collected, and with them embarked in mercantile business in Laharpe.
Honesty, industry, and a number of years of thorough business application, won for him the esteem of those around him, procured a comfortable home for his family, and placed him in possession of a handsome fortune, with every arrangement for its rapid increase. At that time the country was rap idly filling up; farmers were becoming rich, and substantial improvements were taking the place of temporary modes of living which had prevailed as yet.
Paper money became plenty, the products of the soil had found a ready and remunerative market, and many were induced to invest beyond their means in real estate improvements.
The banks chartered about the years 1832 and 1840, had issued bills beyond their charters, presuming upon the continued rapid growth of the country to keep themselves above disaster. But business, especially in times of speculation, like material substance, is of a gravitating tendency, and without a basis soon falls. A severe reverse in the tendency of the markets spread rapidly over the entire West during the year 1842. Prices of produce fell to a low figure. An abundance had been raised, and the market was glutted. Debts of long standing became due, and the demand for their payment became more imperative, as the inability of creditors became more and more apparent and appalling. The merchant found his store empty-his goods having been credited to parties whose sole reliance was the usual ready market for the products of their soil.
Thus, dispossessed of goods and destitute of money, the trading portion of the community was thrown into a panic, and business of all kinds came to a stand still. The producing classes were straitened; their grain would not meet current expenses, for it had no market value; and with many of them mortgages, bearing high interest, were preying like vultures upon their already declining realities.
Specie was scarce. Bills were returned to the banks,' and while a great many of them were yet out the specie was exhausted, and a general crash came upon the banks, while the country was yet flooded with what was appropriately termed "the wild-cat money." The day of reckoning to these spurious money fountains suddenly weighed them in the balances and found them wanting. Mr. Oatman had collected in a large amount of this paper currency, and was about to go South to replenish his mercantile establishment, when lo, the banks began to fail, and in a few weeks he found himself sunk "by the weight of several thousands into utter insolvency.
He was disappointed but not disheartened. To him a reverse was the watchword for a renewal of energy. For two or three years he had been in correspondence with relatives residing in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania, who had been constantly holding up that section of country as one of the most inviting and desirable for new settlers.
In a few weeks he had disposed of the fragments of a suddenly shattered fortune to the greatest possible advantage to his creditors, and resolved upon an immediate removal to that valley. In two months preparations were made, and in three months, with a family of five children, he arrived among his friends in Cumberland Valley, with a view of making that a permanent settlement.
True to the domineering traits of his character, he was still resolute and undaunted. His wife was the same trusting, cheerful companion as when the nuptial vow was plighted, and the sun of prosperity shone full upon and crowned their mutual toils. Retired, patient, and persevering, she was a faithful wife and a fond mother, in whom centered deservingly the love of a growing and interesting juvenile group. She became more and more endeared to her fortune- taunted husband as adverse vicissitudes had developed her real worth, and her full competence to brave and profit by the stern battles of life.
She had seen her husband when prospered, and flattered by those whose attachments had taken root in worldly considerations only; she had stood by him also when the chilling gusts of temporary adversity had blown the cold damps of cruel reserve and fiendish suspicion about his name and character; and
And busy tongues were sporting with his fame,
She solved each doubt, and clear'd each mist away,
And made him radiant in the face of day."
He resolved to retrace his steps, and again to try his hands and skill upon some new and unbroken portion of the State where he had already made and lost. Early in 1845 these parents, with a family of five children, destitute but courageous, landed in Chicago. There, for one year, they supported with toil of head and hand (the father was an experienced school teacher) their growing family.
In the spring of 1846 there might have been seen standing, at about five miles from Fulton, Ill., and about fifteen from New- Albany, alone in the prairie, a temporary, rude cabin. Miles of unimproved land stretched away on either side, save a small spot, rudely fenced, near the cabin, as the commencement of a home. At the door of this tent, in April of 'that year, and about sunset, a wagon drawn by oxen, and driven by the father of a family, a man about thirty-seven, and his son, a lad about ten years, halted. That wagon contained a mother a woman of thirty-three years toil-worn but contented, .with five of her children. The oldest son, Lorenzo, who had been plodding on at the father's side, dragged his weary limbs up to the cabin door, and begged admittance for the night. This was readily and hospitably granted. Soon the family was transported from the movable to the staid habitation. Here they rested their stomachs upon "Johnny cake" and Irish potatoes, and their weary, complaining bodies upon the soft side of a white oak board for the night.
Twenty-four hours had not passed ere the father had staked out a " claim ;" a tent had been erected ; She cattle turned forth, were grazing upon the hitherto trodden prairie land, and preparations made and measures put into vigorous operation for spring sowing. Here, with that same elasticity of mind and prudent energy that had inspired his earliest efforts for self-support, Mr. Oatman commenced to provide himself a home, and to surround his family with all the comforts and conveniences of subsistence. Be fore his energetic and well-directed endeavors, the desert soon began to blossom ; and beauty and fruit- fullness gradually stole upon these hitherto wild and useless regions. He always managed to provide his family with a plain, frugal, and plenteous support.
Four years and over Mr. and Mrs. Oatman toiled early and late, clearing, subduing, and improving. And during this time they readily and cheerfully turned their hands to any laudable calling, manual or intellectual, that gave promise of a just remuneration for their services. Although accustomed, for the most part of their united life, to a competence that had placed them above the necessity of menial service, yet they scorned a dependence upon past position, as also that pride and titter recklessness of principle which can consent to keep up the exterior of opulence, while its expenses must come from un secured and deceived creditors. They contentedly adapted themselves to a manner and style that was intended to give a true index to their real means and resources.
It was this principle of noble self-reliance, and unbending integrity, that won for them the warmest regards of the good, and crowned their checkered allotment with appreciative esteem wherever their stay had been sufficient to make them known.
While the family remained at this place, now called Henly, they toiled early and late, at home or abroad, as opportunity might offer. During much of this time, however, Mr. Oatman was laboring under and battling with a serious bodily infirmity and indisposition.
Early in the second year of their stay at Henly, while lifting a stone, in digging a well for a neighbor, he injured himself, and from the effects of that injury he never fully recovered.
At this time improvements around him had been conducted to a stage of advancement that demanded a strict and vigilant oversight and guidance. And though by these demands, and his unflagging ambition, he was impelled to constant, and at times to severe labors, yet they were labors for which he had been disabled, and from which he should have ceased. Each damp or cold season of the year, after receiving this injury to his back and spine, would place him upon a rack of pain, and at times render life a torture. The winters, always severe in that section of the country, that had blasted and swept away frailer constitutions about him, had as yet left no discernible effects upon his vigorous physical system. But now their return almost disabled him for work, and kindled anew the torturing local inflammation that his injury had brought with it to his system.
He became convinced that if he would live to bless and educate his family, or would enjoy even tolerable health, he must immediately seek a climate free from the sudden and extreme changes so common to the region in which he had spent the last few years.
In the summer of 1849 an effort was made to in duce a party to organize, for the purpose of emigration to that part of the New-Mexican Territory lying about the mouth of the Rio Colorado and Gila Rivers. Considerable excitement extended over the northern and western portions of Illinois concerning it. There were a few men, men of travel and information, who were well acquainted with the state of the country lying along the east side of the northern end of the Gulf of California, and they had received the most flattering inducements to form there a colony of the Anglo-Saxon people.
Accordingly notices were circulated of the number desired and of the intention and destiny of the under taking. The country was represented as of a mild, bland climate, where the extremes of a hot summer and severe winter were unknown. Mr. Oatman, after considerable deliberation upon the state of his health, the necessity for a change of climate, the re liability of the information that had come from this new quarter, and other circumstances having an intimate connection with the welfare of those dependent upon him, sent in his name, as one who, with a family, nine in all, was ready to join the colony; and again he determined to attempt his fortune in a new land.
He felt cheered in the prospect of a location where he might again enjoy the possibility of a recovery of his health. And he hoped that the journey itself might aid the return of his wonted vigor and strength.
After he had proposed a union with this projected colony, and his proposition had been favorably received, he immediately sold out. The sum total of the sales of his earthly possessions amounted to fifteen hundred dollars. With this he purchased an outfit, and was enabled to reserve to himself sufficient, as he hoped, to meet all incidental expenses of the tedious trip.
In the spring of 1850, accompanied by some of his neighbors, who had also thrown their lots into this scheme, he started for Independence, the place selected for the gathering of the scattered members of the colony, preparatory to a united travel for the point of destination. Every precaution had been taken to secure unanimity of feeling, purpose, and intention among those who should propose to cast in their lot with the emigrating colony. All were bound for the same place; all were inspired by the same object; all should enter the band on equality; and it was agreed that every measure of importance to the emigrant army, should be brought to the consideration and consultation of every member of the train.
It was intended to form a new settlement, remote from the prejudices, pride, arrogance, and caste that obtain in the more opulent and less sympathizing portions of a stern civilization. Many of the number thought they saw in the locality selected many advantages that were peculiar to it alone. They looked upon it as the way by which emigration would principally reach this western gold-land, furnishing for the colony a market for their produce ; that thus remote they could mold, fashion, and direct the education, habits, customs, and progress of the young and growing colony, after a model superior to that under which some of them had been discontentedly raised, and one that should receive tincture, form, and adaptation from the opening and multiplying necessities of the experiment in progress.
As above stated, this colony, composed of more than fifty souls, encamped on the" lovely evening of August 9, 1850, about four miles from Independence.
The following are the names of those who were the most active in projecting the movement, and their names are herein given, because they may be again alluded to in the following pages; besides, many of them are now living,, and this may be the first notice they shall receive of the fate of the unfortunate family, the captivity and sufferings of the only two surviving members of which are the themes of these pages. Mutual perils and mutual adventures have a power to cement worthy hearts that is not found in unmingled prosperity. And it has been the privilege of the author to know, from personal acquaintance, in one instance, of a family to whom the "Oatman Family" were bound by the tie of mutuality of suffering and geniality of spirit.
A. W. Lane and family
E. and John Kelly and their families
Mr. Mutere and family
Mr. Wilder and family
Mr. Brinshall and family
Ere yet twilight had lifted the deepest shades of night from plain and hill-side, on the morning of the 10th of August, 1850, there was stir and bustle, and hurrying to and fro throughout that camp. As beautiful a sunrise as ever mantled the east, or threw its firstly purest glories upon a long and gladdened West, found all things in order, and that itinerant colony arranged, prepared, and in march for the " Big Bend " of the Arkansas River. Their course at first lay due west, toward the Indian Territory. One week passed pleasantly away. Fine weather, vigorous teams, social, cheerful chit-chat, in which the evenings were passed by men, women, and children, who had been thrown into their first acquaintance under circumstances so well calculated to create identity of interest and aim, all contributed to the comfort of this anxious company during the " first week upon the plains," and to render the prospect for the future free from the first tint of evil adversity. At the end of a week, and when they had made about one hundred miles, a' halt was called at a place known as the "Council Grove." This place is on the old Santa Fe road, and is well suited for a place of rest, and for recruiting. Up to this time naught but harmony and good feeling prevailed throughout the ranks of this emigrant company. "While tarrying at this place, owing to the peculiarities in the religious notions and prejudices of a few restless spirits, the first note of discord and jarring element was introduced among them.
Some resolved to return, but the more sober (and such seemed in the majority) persisted in the resolve to accomplish the endeared object of the undertaking. Owing to their wise counsels, and moderate, dignified management, peace and quiet returned; and after a tarry of about one week's duration, they were again upon their journey. From Council Grove the road bore a little south of west, over a beautiful level plain, covered with the richest pasturage; and in the distance bordering on every hand against high, picturesque ranges of mountains, seeming like so many huge blue bulwarks, and forming natural boundaries between the abodes of the respective races, each claiming, separately and apart, the one the mountain, the other the vale.
The weather was beautiful; the evenings, cool and invigorating, furnishing to the jaded band a perfect Elysium for the recruiting of tired nature, at the close of each day's sultry and dusty toil. Good feeling restored, all causes of irritation shut out, joyfully, merrily, hopefully, the pilgrim band moved on to the Big Bend, on the Arkansas River. Nothing as yet had been met to excite fear for personal safety; nothing to darken for a moment the cloudless prospect that had inspired and shone upon their first westward moving.
"It was our custom," says Lorenzo Oatman, " to lay by on the Sabbath, both to rest physical nature, and also, by proper religious services, to keep alive in our minds the remembrance of our obligations to our great and kind Creator and Preserver, and to remind ourselves that we were each travelers upon that great level of time, to a bourne from whence no traveler returns."
One Saturday night the tents were pitched upon the hither bank of the Arkansas River. On the next morning Divine service was conducted in the usual manner, and at the usual hour. Scarcely had the service terminated ere a scene was presented calculated to interrupt the general monotony, as well as awaken some not very agreeable apprehensions for their personal safety. A Mr. Mutere was a short way from the camp, on the other side of the river, looking after the stock. While standing and gazing about him, the sound of crude, wild music broke upon his ear. He soon perceived it proceeded from a band of Indians, whom he espied dancing and singing in the wildest manner in a grove near by. They were making merry, as if in exultation -over some splendid victory. He soon ascertained that they were of the Camanche tribe, and about them were a number of very beautiful American horses and mules. He knew them to be stolen stock, from the saddle and harness marks, yet fresh and plainly to be seen. While Mr. Mutere stood looking at them his eye suddenly fell upon a huge, hideous looking " buck," partly concealed behind 'a tree, out from which he was leveling a gun at himself. He sprang into a run, much frightened, and trusted to leg bail for a safe arrival at camp.
At this the Indian came out, hallooed to Mutere, and made the most vehement professions of friend ship, and of the absence of all evil design toward him. But Mutere chose not to tarry for any reassurance of his kindly interest in his welfare. As soon as Mutere was in camp, several Indians appeared upon the opposite side of the river, hallooing, and asking the privilege of coming into camp, avowing friendliness. After a little their request was granted, and about a score of them came up near the camp. The party soon had occasion to mark their folly in yielding to the request of the Indians, who were not long in their vicinity ere they were observed in secret council a little apart, also* at the same time bending their bows and making ready their arrows, as if upon the eve of some malicious intent. "At this," says L. Oatman," our boys were instantly to their guns, and upon the opposite side of the wagon, preparing them for the emergence. But we took good care to so hide us, as to let our motions plainly appear to the enemy, that they might take warning from our courage and not be apprised of our fears. Our real intention was immediately guessed at, as we could see by the change in the conduct of our new enemy. They, by this time, lowered their bows, and their few guns, and modestly made a request for a cow. This roused our resolution, and the demand was quickly resisted. We plainly saw unmistakable signs of fear, and a suspicion that they were standing a poor show for cow-beef from that quarter. Such was the first abrupt close that religious services had been brought to on our whole route as yet. These evil-designing wretches soon made off, with more dispatch evidently than was agreeable. A few hours after they again appeared upon the opposite bank, with about a score of fine animals, which they drove to water in our sight. As soon as the stock had drank, they raised a whoop, gave us some hearty cheering, and were away to the south at a tremendous speed. On Monday we crossed the river, and toward evening met a government train, who had been out to the fort and were now on their return. "We related to them what we had seen. They told us that they had, a day or two before, come upon the remnant of a government train that were on their way to the fort, that their stock had been taken from them, and they were left in distress, and without means of return. They also informed us that during the next day we would enter upon a desert, where for ninety miles we would be without wood and water. This information, though sad, was timely. "We at once made all possible preparations to traverse this old ' Sahara ' of the Santa Fe road. But these preparations as to water proved unnecessary, for while we were crossing this desolate and verdure less waste, the kindly clouds poured upon us abundance of fresh water, and each day's travel for this ninety miles was as pleasant as any of our trip to us, though to the stock it was severe." While at the camp on the river one very tragical ( ? ) event occurred, which must not be omitted. One Mr. M. A. M., Jun., had stepped down to the river bank, leisurely whistling along his way, in quest of a favorable place to draw upon the Arkansas for a pail of water. Suddenly two small girls, who had been a little absent from camp, with aprons upon their heads, rose above a little mound, and presented themselves to his view. His busy brain must have been preoccupied with "Injins," for he soon came running, puffing, and yelling into camp. As he went headlong over the wagon-tongue, his tin pail as it rolled starting a half-score of dogs to their feet, and setting them upon a yell, he lustily, and at the topmost pitch of voice, cried, "Injins! Injins!" He soon recovered his wits, however, and the pleasant little lasses came into camp with a hearty laugh that they had so unexpectedly been made the occasion of a rich piece of "fun."
From the river bend or crossing, on to Moro, the first settlement we reached in New Mexico, was about five hundred miles. During this time nothing of special interest occurred to break the almost painful monotony of our way, or ruffle the quiet of our sociale, save an occasional family jar, the frequent crossing of pointed opinions, the now-and-then prophecies of "Injins ahead," etc., except one " Grape Dumpling " affair, which must be related by leaving a severe part untold. At one of our camps, on one of those fine water-courses that frequently set upon our way, from the mountains, we suddenly found ourselves near neighbors to a bounteously burdened grape orchard. Of these we ate freely. One of our principal and physically talented matrons, however, like the distrustful Israelites, determined not to trust to to-morrow for to-morrow's manna. She accordingly laid in a more than night's supply. The over-supply was, for safe keeping, done up "brown," in the form of well-prepared and thoroughly-cooked dumplings and these deposited in a cellar-like stern end of the "big wagon." Unfortunate woman! if she had only performed these hiding ceremonies when the lank eye of one of our invalids, (?) Mr. A. P., had been turned the other way, she might have prevented a calamity, kindred to that which befell the ancient emigrants when they sought to lay by more than was demanded by immediate wants.
Now this A. P. had started out sick, and since his restoration had been constantly beleaguered by one of those dubious blessings, common as vultures upon the plains, a voracious appetite, an appetite that, like the grave, was constantly receiving yet never found a place to say, "Enough." Slowly he crawled from his bed, after he was sure that sleep had made Mrs. M. oblivious of her darling dumplings, and the rest of the camp unheedful of his movements, and, standing at the stern of the wagon, he deliberately emptied almost the entire contents of this huge dumpling pan into his ever- craving interior.
It seems that they had been safely stored in the wagon by this provident matron, to furnish a feast for the passengers when their travels might be along some grapeless waste ; and but for the unnatural cravings of the unregulated appetite of A. P., might still have remained for that purpose. It was evident the next day that the invalid had been indulging in undue gluttony. He was "sick again," and, to use his own phrase, "like all backsliders, through worldly or stomach prosperity and repletion."
Madam M. now seized a stake, and thoroughly caned him through the camp, until dumpling strength was low, very low in the market.
After crossing the big desert, one day, while traveling, some of our company had their notions of our personal safety suddenly revolutionized under the following circumstances. A Mr. J. Thompson and a young man, C. M., had gone one side of the road some distance, hunting antelope. Among the hills, and when they were some distance in advance of the camp, they came upon a large drove of antelopes. They were ignorant at the time of their whereabouts, and the routed game started directly toward the train; but, to the hunters, the train seemed to be in directly the opposite direction. In the chase the antelopes soon came in sight of the train, and several little girls and boys, seeing them, and seeing their pursuers, ran upon a slight elevation to frighten the antelopes back upon the hunters; whereupon, by some unaccountable mirage deception, these little girls and boys were suddenly transformed into huge Indians to the eyes of the hunters. They were at once forgetful of their anticipated game, and regarding themselves as set upon by a band of some giant race, began to devise for their own escape. Mr. T., thinking that no mortal arm could rescue them, turned at once, and with much perturbation, to the young man, and vehemently cried out: "Charles, let us pray." Said Charles, "No, I'll be d--d if I'll pray; let us run;" and at this he tried the valor of running. All the exhortations of the old man to Charles "to drop his gun" were as fruitless as his entreaties to prayer. But when Mr. T. saw that Charles was making such rapid escape, he dropped his notions of praying, and took to the pursuit of the path left by the running but unpraying Charles. He soon outstripped the young man, and made him beg most lustily of the old man "to wait, and not run away and leave him there with the Injins alone."
The chagrin of the brave hunters, after they had reached camp by a long and circuitous route, may well be imagined, when they found that they had been running from their own children; and that their fright, and the running and fatigue it had cost them, had been well understood by those of the camp who had been the innocent occasion of their chase for antelopes suddenly being changed into a flight from " Injins."
When we came into the Mexican settlements our store of meats was well-nigh exhausted, and we were gratefully surprised to find that at every stopping place abundance of mutton was in market, fresh, and of superior quality, and to be purchased at low rates. This constituted our principal article of subsistence during the time we were traversing several hundred miles in this region.
Slowly, but with unmistakable indications of a melancholy character, disaffection and disorder crept into our camp. Disagreements had occurred among families. Those who had taken the lead in originating the project had fallen under the ban and censure of those who, having passed the novelty of the trip, were beginning to feel the pressure of its dark, unwelcome, and unanticipated realities. And, in some instances, a conduct was exhibited by those whose years and rank, as well as professions made at the outset, created expectation and confidence that in them would be found benefactors and wise counselors, that tended to disgrace their position, expose the unworthiness of their motives, and blast the bright future that seemed to hang over the first steps of our journeyings. As a consequence, feelings of discord were engendered, which gained strength by unwise and injudicious counsels, until their pestilential effects spread throughout the camp.
At Moro we tarried one night. This is a small Mexican town, of about three hundred inhabitants, containing, as the only objects of interest, a Catholic Mission station, now in a dilapidated state ; a Fort, well-garrisoned by Mexican soldiers, and a fine stream of water, that comes, cool and clear, bounding down the mountain side, beautifying and reviving this finely located village.
The next day after leaving this place we came to the Natural, or Santa Fe Pass, and camped that night at the well-known place called the Forks. From this point there is one road leading in a more southerly direction, and frequently selected by emigrants after arriving at the Forks, though the other road is said, by those best acquainted, to possess many advantages. At this place we found that the disaffection, which had appeared for some time before, was growing more and more incurable; and it began to break out into a general storm. Several of our number resolved upon taking the south road; but this resolution was reached only as a means of separating themselves from the remainder of the train; for the intention really was to become detached from the restraints and counsels that they found interfering with their uncontrollable selfishness. There seemed to be no possible method by which these disturbing elements could be quelled, The matter gave rise to an earnest consultation and discussion upon the part of the sober and prudent portion of our little band ; but all means and measures proposed for an amicable adjustment of variances and divisions, seemed powerless when brought in contact with the unmitigated selfishness that, among a certain few, had blotted out from their view the one object and system of regulation that they had been instrumental in throwing around the undertaking at first.
We now saw a sad illustration of the adage that "it is not all gold that glitters." The novelty of the scene, together with every facility for personal comfort and enjoyment, may suffice to spread the glad light of good cheer about the first few days or weeks of an emigrating tour upon these dreary plains ; but let its pathway be found among hostile tribes for a number of weeks ; let a scarcity of provisions be felt; let teams begin to fail, with no time or pasturage to recruit them ; let inclement weather and swollen streams begin to hedge up the way ; these, and more that frequently becomes a dreadful reality, have at once a wonderful power to turn every man into a kingdom by himself, and to develop the real nature of the most hidden motives of his being.
Several of those who had, with unwonted diligence and forbearance, sought to restore quiet and satisfaction, but to no purpose, resolved upon 1 remaining here until the disaffected portion had selected the direction and order of their own movements, and then quietly pursue their way westward by the other route. After some delay, and much disagreeable discussion among themselves, the northern route was selected by the malcontents, and they commenced their travels apart. The remainder of us started upon the south road; and though our animals were greatly reduced, our social condition was greatly improved.
"We journeyed on pleasantly for about one hundred miles, when we reached Socoro, a beautiful and some what thrifty Mexican settlement. Our teams were now considerably jaded, and we found it necessary to make frequent halts and tarrying for the purpose of recruiting them. And this we found it the more difficult to do, as we were reaching a season of the year, and section of country, that furnished a scanty supply of feed. "We spent one week at Socoro, for the purpose of rest to ourselves and teams, as also to replenish, if possible, our fast diminishing store of supplies. We found that food was becoming more scarce among the settlements that lay along our line of travel; that quality and price were likewise serious difficulties, and that our wherewith to purchase even these was well-nigh exhausted.
"We journeyed from Socoro to the Rio Grande amid many and disheartening embarrassments and troubles. Sections of the country were almost barren; teams were failing, and indications of hostility among the tribes of Indians (representatives of whom frequently gave us the most unwelcome greetings) were becoming more frequent and alarming.
Just before reaching the Rio Grande, two fm-e* horses were stolen from Mr. Oatman. We afterward; learned that they had been soon after seen among the Mexicans, though by them the theft was attributed to- unfriendly neighboring tribes; and it was asserted that horses, stolen from trains of emigrants, were frequently brought into Mexican settlements- and offered for sale. It is proper here to apprise the reader, that the project of a settlement in New Mexico had now been entirely abandoned since the division mentioned above, and that, California had become the place where we looked for a termination of our travel, and the land where we hoped soon to reach and find a home. At the Rio Grande we rested our teams one week, as a matter of necessary mercy, for every day we tarried was only increasing the probability of the exhaustion of our provisions, ere we could reach a place of permanent supply. "We took from this point the "Cook and Kearney" route, and found the grass for our teams for a while more plentiful than for hundreds of miles previous. Our train now consisted of eight wagons and twenty persons. We now came into a mountainous country, and we found the frequent and severe ascents and declivities wearing upon our teams beyond any of our previous travel. We often consumed whole days in making less than one quarter of the usual day's advance. A few days after leaving the Rio Grande, one Mr. Lane died of the mountain fever. He was a man highly esteemed among the members of the train, and we felt his loss severely. We dug a grave upon one of the foot hills, and with appropriate funeral obsequies we lowered his remains into the same. Some of the female members of our company planted a flower upon the mound that lifted itself over his lonely grave. A rude stake, with his name and date of his death inscribed upon it, was all we left to mark the spot of his last resting-place. One morning, after spending a cool night in a bleak and barren place, we awoke with several inches of snow lying about us upon the hills in the distance. "We had spent the night and a part of the previous day without water. Our stock were scattered during the night, and our first object, after looking them up, was to find some friendly place where we might slake our thirst.
The morning was cold, with a fierce bleak wind setting in from the north. Added to the pains of thirst, was the severity of the cold. "We found that the weather is subject, in this region, to sudden changes, from one to the other extreme. While in this distressed condition some of our party espied in the distance a streak of timber letting down from the mountains, indicative of running living water. To go to this timber we immediately made preparation, with the greatest possible dispatch, as our only resort. And our half-wavering expectations were more than realized; for after a most fatiguing trip of nearly a day, during which many of us were suffering severely from thirst, we reached the place, and found not only timber and water in abundance, but a plentiful sup ply of game. Turkeys, deer, antelope, and wild sheep were dancing through every part of the beautiful woodland that lured us from our bleak mountain camp. As the weather continued extremely cold we must have suffered severely, if we had not lost our lives, even, by the severity of the weather, as there was not a particle of anything with which to kindle a fire, unless we had used our wagon timber for that purpose, had we not sought the shelter of this friendly grove. We soon resolved upon at least one week's rest in this place, and arrangements were made accordingly. During the week we feasted upon the most excellent wild meat, and spent most of our time in hunting and fishing. Excepting the fear we constantly entertained concerning the Indians of the neighborhood, we spent the week here very pleasantly. One morning three large, fierce-looking Apaches came into camp at an early hour. They put on all possible pretensions of friendship; but from the first their movements were suspicious. They for a time surveyed narrowly our wagon and teams, and, so far as allowed to do so, our articles of food, clothing, guns, etc. Suspecting their intentions we bade them -be off, upon which they reluctantly left our retreat. That night the dogs kept up a barking nearly the whole night and at seasons of the night would run to their masters, and then a short distance into the wood, as if to warn us of the nearness of danger. We put out our fires, and each man, with his arms, kept vigilant guard. There is no doubt that by this means our lives were preserved. Tracts of a large number of Indians were seen near the camp next morning; and on going out we found that twenty head of stock had been driven away, some of which belonged to the teams. By this several of our teams were so reduced that we found extreme difficulty in getting along. Some of our wagons and baggage were left at a short distance from this in consequence of what we here lost. "We traced the animals some distance, until we found the trail leading into the wild, difficult mountain fastnesses, where it was dangerous and useless to follow.
We were soon gathered up, and en route again for "Ta Bac," another Mexican settlement, of which we had learned as presenting inducements for a short recruiting halt.
We found ourselves again traveling through a rich pasturage country, abounding with the most enchanting, charming scenery that had greeted us since we had left the "Big Bend." We came into "Ta Bac" with better spirits, and more vigorous teams, than was allowed us during the last few hundred miles.
At this place one of -our number became the unwilling subject of a most remarkable and dampening transaction. Mrs. M., of "grape dumpling" notoriety, while bearing her two hundred and forty of avoirdupois about the camp at rather a too rapid rate, suddenly came in sight of a well that had been dug years before by the Mexican settlers.
While guiding her steps so as to shun this huge-looking hole, suddenly she felt old earth giving way beneath her. It proved that a well of more ancient date than the one she was seeking to shun had been dug directly in her way, but had accumulated a fine covering of grass during the lapse of years. The members of the camp, who were lazily whiling away the hours on the down hill-side of the well's mouth, were soon apprised of the fact that some momentous cause had interfered with nature's laws, and opened some new and hitherto unseen fountains in her bosom. "With the sudden disappearance of Mrs. M., there came a large current of clear cold water flowing through the camp, greatly dampening our joys, and starting us upon the alert to inquire into the cause of this strange phenomenon. Mrs. M. we soon found safely lodged in the old well, but perfectly secure, as the water, on the principle that two bodies can not occupy the same space at the same time, had leaped out as Mrs. M.'s mammoth proportions had suddenly laid an imperative possessory injunction upon the entire dimensions of the "hole in the ground."
We found, after leaving Ta Bac, the road uneven; the rains had set in; the nights were cold; and evidences of the constant nearness and evil designs of savage tribes were manifested every few miles that we passed over. Several once rich, but now evacuated, Mexican towns were passed, from which the rightful owners of the soil had been driven by the Apaches. At "Santa Cruz ".we found a Mexican settlement of about one hundred inhabitants, friendly, and rejoiced to see us come among them, as they were living constantly in fear of the implacable Apaches, whose depredations were frequent and of most daring and outrageous character. Almost every day bands of these miscreant wretches were in sight upon the surrounding hills waiting favorable opportunities for the perpetration of deeds of plunder and death. They would at times appear near to the Mexican herdsmen, and tauntingly command them "to herd and take care of those cattle for the Apaches." "We found the country rich and desirable, but for its being infested by these desperadoes."We learned, both from the Mexicans and the conduct of the Indians themselves, that one American placed them under more dread and fear than a score of Mexicans. If along this road we were furnished with a fair representation, these Mexicans are an imbecile, frail, cowardly, and fast declining race. By the friendliness and generosity of the settlers at this point, we made a fine recruit while tarrying there. For a while we entertained the project of remaining for a year. Probably, had it not been for the prowling savages, whose thieving, murdering banditti infest field and woodland, we might have entered into negotiations with the Mexicans to this effect; but we were now en route for the Eureka of the Pacific Slope, and we thought we had no time to waste between us and the realization of our golden dreams. Every inducement that fear and generosity could invent, and that was in the power of these Mexicans to control, was, however, presented and urged in favor of our taking up a residence among them. But we had no certainty that our small number, though of the race most their dread, would be sufficient to warrant us in the successful cultivation of the rich and improved soil that was proffered us. Nothing but a constant guard of the most vigilant kind could promise any safety to fields of grain, or herds of cattle.
"We next, and at about eighty miles from Santa Cruz, came to Tukjon, another larger town than Santa Cruz, and more pleasantly, as well as more securely situated. Here again the same propositions were renewed as had been plied so vehemently at the last stopping-place. Such were the advantages that our hosts held out for the raising of a crop of grain, and fattening our, cattle, that some of our party immediately resolved upon at least one year's stay. The whole train halted here one month. During that time, those of our party who could not be prevailed upon to proceed, had arrangements made and operations commenced for a year of agricultural and farming employment.
At the end of one month the family of "Wilders, Kellys, and ourselves, started."We urged on amid multiplying difficulties for several days. Our provisions had been but poorly replenished at the last place, as the whole of their crops had been destroyed by their one common and relentless foe, during the year. "With all their generosity, it was out of their power to aid us as much as they would have done. Frequently after this, for several nights, we were waked to arm ourselves against the approaching Apaches, who hung in front and rear of our camp for nights and clays.
"Wearied, heart-sick, and nearly destitute, we arrived at the Pimo Village, on or about the 16th of February, 1851. Here we found a settlement of Indians, who were in open hostility to the Apaches, and by whose skill and disciplined strength they were kept from pushing their depredations further in that direction. But so long had open and active hostilities been kept up, that they were short of pro visions and in nearly a destitute situation. They had been wont to turn their attention and energies considerably to farming, but during the last two years, their habits in this respect had been greatly interfered with. We found the ninety miles that divides Tukjon from Pimole to be the most dismal, desolate, and unfruitful of all the regions over which our way had led us as yet. "We could find nothing that could, to a sound judgment, furnish matter of contention, such as had been raging between the rival claimants of its blighted peaks and crags.
Poor and desolate as were the war-hunted Pimoles, and unpromising as seemed every project surveyed by our anxious eyes for relief, and a supply ,of our almost drained stores of provisions, yet it was soon apparent to our family, that if we would proceed further we must venture the journey alone. Soon, and after a brief consultation, a full resolution was reached by the "Wilders and Kellys to remain, and stake their existence upon traffic with the Pimoles, or upon a sufficient tarrying to produce for themselves; until from government or friends, they might be supplied with sufficient to reach Fort Yuma.
To Mr. Oatman this resolution brought a trial of a darker hue than any that had cast its shadows upon him as yet. He believed that starvation, or the hand of the treacherous savage, would soon bring them to an awful fate if they tarried; and with much reluctance he resolved to proceed, with no attendants or companions save his exposed and depressed family.
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