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CENTS a day thereafter. It is DUE on the 
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DEC 2 7 19811 

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FEB 5 1991 

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2 ,1993 


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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil 






DURING THE TEARS 1850, '51, '52, AND '53. 










Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern "District of 

New York. 



In submitting to the public an account of my explora- 
tions during the several years that I filled the place 
of Commissioner on the part of the United States, for 
the Survey of the Boundary between the United 
States and Mexico, I have endeavored as far as pos- 
sible to confine myself strictly to what is embraced in 
the title, viz., a Personal Narrative of Explorations 
and Incidents. 

Having this idea constantly before me, I have 
admitted only such digressions as seemed absolutely 
necessary for a full understanding of the subject. 
Short descriptions of the towns visited have been 
given, as well as general remarks on the country from 
time to time. So of the botany and zoology, I have 
endeavored to keep before the reader a correct idea 
of the character of the country throughout which he 


was to follow ine, without lists and descriptions, scien- 
tific or otherwise, of every plant, quadruped, bird, and 
reptile that came in my way. 

As an itinerary giving an accurate description of 
the country from the shores of the Atlantic to the 
Pacific — of every day's journey — of every stream, lake, 
pond, or spring — of all the mountain chains and their 
defiles — of every plain and desert — of the towns, vil- 
lages, houses, ranchos, and farms where the traveller 
may obtain supplies — of spots where he may find grass 
for his animals, and where he can find none — of districts 
destitute of wood and water — I have endeavored to 
make it particular and accurate, in order that my book 
may become a useful guide to emigrants and other 
travellers. A vast deal of suffering may be saved by 
placing in the hands of emigrating parties a guide 
across the country to the golden regions of California, 
whither so many are now annually wending. The 
time is not far distant, either, when crowds as large as 
those now pressing on to California and Australia will 
be "prospecting" among the mountains of Texas, 
New Mexico, Chihuahua, and Sonora, attracted by 
similarly rich mineral deposits, and probably with the 
like splendid success. This will not be the result of 
an accidental discovery, as was the gold in the mill- 
race near the Sacramento ; for the existence of such 
treasures is already known, as well as the localities 
where they are to be found. My journeys through 


Sonora, Chihuahua, aud other Mexican States, are given 
with much detail on the topics mentioned ; which I fear 
will render this itinerary dry to many, although to 
others it will give the book its chief value. 

I have divided my narrative into distinct journeys, 
each complete in itself. The first is from Indianola, 
on the coast of Texas, where the Commission disem- 
barked, via San Antonio and the northern route (not 
now travelled), to El Paso del Norte, about 850 miles. 
A second to the Copper Mines of New Mexico, in the 
Rocky Mountains near the Rio Gila, with a residence 
there of several months. A third to the interior of 
Sonora, and back. A fourth from the Copper Mines 
along the boundary line south of the Gila to the Rio 
San Pedro, and thence through another portion of 
Sonora to Guaymas on the Gulf of California. Fifth, 
a voyage from Guaymas to Mazatlan and Acapulco, 
and thence to San Diego, and San Francisco. Sixth, 
various journeys in California. Seventh, a journey 
from San Diego, by the Colorado and Gila rivers, to 
El Paso del Norte. And lastly, a journey through the 
States of Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, New Leon, 
Tamaulipas, and the south-western corner of Texas, to 
Corpus Christi on the Gulf of Mexico. These several 
journeys embrace an extent of nearly 5,000 miles by 

With reference to the aboriginal tribes, I have 
described with minuteness only those with which I 


remained some time, and whose habits I had a good 
opportunity to study. I have also incidentally spoken 
of the tribes through whose countries I passed, without 
entering into any detail. This subject is so extensive, 
and requires so much study, that it can be done justice 
to only by being treated as a whole. I was so fortunate 
as to obtain vocabularies of more than twenty aborigi- 
nal languages, many of which had never been taken 
down before, and none so fully, as by me. These valu- 
able testimonials of the now fast disappearing red race 
who preceded us in the possession of our country, I 
consider among the most important of my collections, 
and as such, I believe they will be esteemed by the 
learned. They each embrace two hundred words, and, 
with but two or three exceptions, were all taken down 
by myself, with great care, and according to one system. 
My further ethnological collections embrace, por- 
traits of many of these tribes, both male and female, 
showing the characteristic features of each. Sketches 
were also taken which exhibit their manners and cus- 
toms, their arts, husbandry, etc. It is my desire to 
prepare a report on the ethnology of the Indian tribes 
of the extensive region explored by the Boundary 
Commission, should the government feel sufficient 
interest in the subject to authorize it. Without the 
aid of government, I shall be compelled to limit my- 
self to a brief memoir, embracing merely my philologi- 
cal collections. 


From the time of the Commission's landing at 
Indianola, during the whole period of its continuance, 
every opportunity that offered, without interfering 
with the direct. object had in charge, was improved 
for the purpose of making explorations, and forming 
collections in various departments of natural science. 

In the department of Botany four gentlemen were 
employed in making collections. Dr. J. M. Bigelow, 
Surgeon of the Commission, and Mr. George Thurber, 
who was most of the time connected with the Quarter- 
master and Commissary Departments, in addition to 
their other duties, examined the botany of the region 
respectively passed over by them, and made very large 
collections of plants — the latter over a country extend- 
ing from the Gulf of Mexico across the continent to 
the Pacific Ocean. Mr. Thurber, who accompanied 
me in most of my journeys, was indefatigable in his 
exertions to make thorough examinations and complete 
collections of every thing belonging to his department, 
notwithstanding the numerous obstacles he had to 
encounter. He, in addition, formed an extensive 
herbarium, embracing plants, etc., collected in the 
various States of the republic of Mexico visited by us. 
Two other botanists, Dr. C. C. Parry and Mr. Charles 
Wright, have also made large collections. The former 
was connected with the surveying parties under the 
immediate direction of Major Emory, and did not 
accompany me, so that I am unable to speak from per- 


sonal knowledge of his labors; but from his well 
known reputation, as well as that of Mr. Wright, I 
doubt not they have accomplished much. It is to be 
hoped that the government will place a proper estimate 
on the labors of these several gentlemen ; and I feel 
confidence in saying that when they are made known, 
they will reflect great credit upon them, and furnish 
important accessions to science. 

In Zoology our collections are large, and embrace 
many new species. The collectors in this department 
were Mr. J. H. Clark, Mr. Arthur Schott, and Dr. 
Thomas H. Webb. As these collections are unfortu- 
nately scattered, one portion being in the Smithsonian 
Institution and another in Boston, I am unable to speak 
with precision of their extent. Of the first collection 
sent home by Mr. Clark in the spring of 1852, the 
naturalists connected with the Smithsonian Institution, 
Professors Baird and Girard, remark that, " It will be 
perfectly safe to say that one hundred undescribed 
species of North American vertebrate animals have 
been added to our fauna. The entire annals of 
zoological history scarcely present a parallel to this 
case." Since that time other collections have been 
received by the same institution. It is to be hoped 
that this large and valuable accession to the zoology 
of the North American continent may be properly 
appreciated by our government, and that the distin- 
guished naturalists now engaged in describing the 


specimens, may be authorized to present them to the 
scientific world in such a stylp and form as their value 
and interest merit. 

From the peculiar geological features of the coun- 
try passed over, a valuable report on that subject 
might be expected; but I regret that, as Congress 
denied me an appropriation for the purpose, I was 
unable to secure the services of any geologist compe- 
tent to make such investigations as were desirable. 
Several gentlemen who filled responsible places, par- 
ticularly Dr. Webb, Secretary of the Joint Commission, 
contributed their services in collecting such minera- 
logical specimens as circumstances would allow. It 
was highly desirable to institute a continuous series 
of geological and mineralogical researches, and to form 
a cabinet illustrative of the structure and mineral 
resources of the region along the whole course of the 
survey ; but both the scientific corps, and the number of 
soldiers at my disposal for the purpose of escort, were 
too small to admit of this being done. Notwithstand- 
ing, however, every drawback, a large collection of 
minerals was made by Dr. Webb, including silver ores 
from New Mexico and Chihuahua, and other ores from 
various places along the line, which have reached home 
in safety. Among these mineralogical treasures is a 
fine specimen of bituminous coal. In connection with 
this subject I may add, that we visited and explored 
many of the mines in New Mexico, Sonora, Chihuahua, 


and California, of gold, silver, copper, and quicksilver, 
and obtained specimens of the ores ; besides which 
much valuable information was collected in reference 
to the extent, value, and productions of these mines. 

I should do injustice to our accomplished artist and 
draughtsman, Mr. Henry C. Pratt, who accompanied 
me in my journeys to and from California, did I not 
speak of his valuable services. Besides the portraits 
of the Indian tribes and illustrations of their manners 
and customs, Mr. Pratt has made a series of many 
hundred sketches, representing the peculiar character 
of the* country extending from ocean to ocean along 
the boundary line, and in the States contiguous. 
Many of these sketches are panoramic views embracing 
wide districts of country, and convey to the mind a 
better idea of it than the most elaborate description. 
I have, therefore, very reluctantly been compelled to 
omit the most important of them from the present 
work, as it would detract too much from their merits 
to reduce them to the size of an octavo page. 

There is another topic, one too, which possesses a 
deeper interest for the American people and the whole 
civilized world, than those to which I have alluded. 
This is the adaptation of the country explored by the 
Boundary Commission for the "purposes of a railway. 
The descriptions of the country given in our daily 
marches will convey some idea of the advantages pre- 
sented ; but without the large sketches mentioned, 


barometrical profiles, and elaborate maps, I could not 
do justice to the subject. In the extensive journeys 
of the Commission through Texas to the shores of the 
Pacific, by the route south of the river Gila, I was 
enabled, with the assistance of the engineers intrusted 
with the survey of this portion of the line, to collect 
much valuable information on the topography of the 
country, for the purpose of enabling the public to 
judge whether or not it is practicable to construct a 
railway there. It is to be hoped that Congress will see 
fit to lay this information, obtained with so much toil 
and expense, in a suitable manner before the people. 

The maps of the survey, as well as the astronomi- 
cal, magnetic, and meteorological observations, with 
all that strictly appertains to the running and mark- 
ing of the boundary line, were, by the instructions of 
the Secretary of the Interior, placed in charge of the 
surveyor, Brevet Major W. H. Emory, who alone is 
held responsible for the faithful performance of these 
duties. From the high character of that officer as an 
engineer, the public may expect, in proper season, a 
satisfactory account of his labors in these departments. 
Some time must elapse before the maps to illustrate the 
whole Boundary, from one ocean to the other, can be 
completed ; I have therefore been compelled to con- 
struct meanwhile the map prefixed to this work from 
my own itinerary and from the most authentic informa- 
tion that could be obtained. 


The question has been repeatedly asked, and may- 
be asked again, why the account of the doings of the 
Commission embraced in this narrative was not pub- 
lished by the government, alike with other reports of 
explorations made by its officers. In reply J have to 
state that, on my return home, after being superseded 
as Commissioner, I was desirous to submit my report 
to the Secretary of the Interior, for publication under 
his direction. To effect this a resolution was offered 
in the Senate by one of its distinguished members, 
General Houston of Texas, who takes a lively interest 
in the promotion of science, and particularly in the 
investigation of the unexplored regions of our country, 
to authorize me to prepare and publish a full Report 
of the labors of the Commission while under my charge, 
including the Natural History, in which so much had 
been accomplished. The efforts of the learned Senator 
however were unsuccessful, and the resolution was laid 
on the table. This decision, a source of lively regret 
to me, I trust is not to be regarded as final; and I 
cherish the hope that Congress will yet decide to place 
the whole results of the Commission before the public 
in a suitable manner. 






Treaty of Peace between the United States and Mexico — Hon. J. B, Wel- 
ler appointed Commissioner to run the new Boundary Line between 
the two Republics — Determines the initial point on the Pacific and the 
centre of the mouth of the Gila — Col. J. C. Fremont's Appointment and 
Resignation — J. R. Bartlett appointed Commissioner — Fitting out and 
Organization of the Expedition — Embarcation of main body of Commis- 
sion from New- York — Embarcation of Commissioner and others — 
Water-Spouts — Havana — New Orleans — Arrival at Indianola. ... 1 



Preparations for the Start — Breaking mules — La Salle and its early His- 
tory — Prosperity of Indianola — Commencement of Survey — Route to 
Victoria — Shoeing mules — Encampment in grove — Military drilling — 
Flourishing condition of Victoria — Primitive legal proceedings — Diffi- 
culties of navigating Espiritu Santo Bay — Description of surrounding 
country — Mexican ranch o — Observance of the Sabbath — Justice dispen- 
sed in the matter of a calf — Goliad, its early history and ruins — Mas- 
sacre of prisoners after the battle of Perdida Creek — Leave Goliad — 
Murder of a Mexican by a teamster — Arrival at San Antonio — Another 
murder — Preparations for crossing the Plains — Description of San An- 
tonia — Alamo— Mission Churches 10 





Advanced party formed for the journey to El Paso — Arms and equipments 
— Mode of travel — General order — Storm on the Prairie — Guadalupe 
river — Refinement among the German settlers on its banks — Terraced 
hills of Texas — Mormons in the valley of the Piedernales — Fredericks- 
burg 46 



Projected route through the -wilderness — Setting out — Uninviting appear- 
ance of the country — Precarious condition of German settlements on 
the Llano River — Leave the Emigrants' Road — Crossing of the San 
Saba — Community of prairie dogs — Kickapoo Creek — Hints to future 
travellers — The Mezquit — Visit of Lipan Chiefs — Indian dexterity in 
mule catching — Regain the Emigrant Road at Concho River — Horse 
wounded by a rattlesnake — Character of country and vegetation — Mus- 
tang roads — Scarcity of water — Prairie on fire — Deceptive maps — Cas- 
tle Mountains — Stray cattle captured — Pecos River — Chapporal — "In- 
dian sign." 61 



Crossing of the Pecos — Narrow escape from a cold bath — Desolate region 
— Prize oxen — Stray mule — Populous biscuit — Toyah Creek — Travel- 
lers' tokens — Rescue of lost mule — Dreariness and monotony of the 
Pecos — A horse's somerset — Delaware Creek — Snow-storm, sport, and 
Erman's Siberia — Mr. Thurber and others dispatched to El Paso — Let- 
ter to Major Van Home 96 



Difficulty of proceeding — Set out with a small party in advance — View 
of Guadalupe Mountain — Boiling Spring — Deceptive clearness of the 
atmosphere — Guadalupe Pass — Descent to the plain — Meet Mr. Coon's 
train — Hospitality — Mr. Thurber's note — Take leave of the train — 
Cornudos del Alamo — Thome's Well — Ojos del Alamo^Waco Moun- 
tain Pass — Waco Tanks — Meet Messrs. Thurber and Weems on their 
return — Arrival at El Paso — Itinerary of route — Remarks on the coun- 
try traversed — IU adaptability to a public road 115 






Losses of Animals — High price of provisions at El Paso — Excursion up the 
river — Entertainment given to the officers of the Commission by the 
civil authorities — The Bishop of Durango — Pueblo Indians — Meeting 
with General Conde, and commencement of the labors of the Joint Com- 
mission — Arrival and disposition of the main body of the United States 
Commission — Arrival of ox-train, and death of IT. D. Wakeman — De- 
parture of military escort for the Copper Mines — American despera- 
does in New Mexico — Death of E. C. Clarke — Trial and execution of 
Wade, Craig, and Butler — Trial and execution of Young — Dinner and 
ball given under difficulties— Excursion to the Sierra Waco — Indian 
pictures at the Waco Tanks — Initial Point agreed upon, and Survey in 
its vicinity commenced — Depot established at the Copper Mines — Dr. 
Webb's report on the same 143 



Early colonization of Mexico — Position of El Paso — Mode of irrigation — 
Agricultural productions — Vegetables — Fruits — Extensive culture of 
the grape — Wine — Brandy — The Rio Grande — Deficiency of water — 
Uncertainty of crops — Houses — How built — Oriental style preserved 
— Primitive mode of life — Flour mills — Degeneracy of people — Dress 
—Settlement on the American side — Coon's Ranch — Magoffinsville — 
Socorro — San Eleazario — Mountain chains — Plants — Current and sinu- 
osity of the Rio Grande 182 



Observations on the Rio Grande, from El Paso to Dona Ana — Establish- 
ment of the Initial Point, and ceremonies connected therewith — Descrip- 
tion of Dona Ana — Mesilla — Route to Santa Barbara — Visit to ruins — 



Mirage — Route to the River Mimbres — Luxuriant vegetation on its 
banks — "Giant of the Mimbres" — Ojo Caliente — A broken arm — Arri- 
val at the Copper Mines — Description and history of the Mines — Value 
of the timber in the vicinity — Abundance of game — Scarcity of vegeta- 
bles — Visit to Sonora projected 191 




spring at Pachetehu — Ojo de Vaca — Janos road — Col. Cooke's road— - 
Scarcity of water — Dry bed of a lake — Mirage — Desert region — Zoo- 
logy of the plains — Guadalupe Pass — Difficulties — Bears — Discover foot- 
prints of deserters from Copper Mines — Sycamore trees — Canon — Lux- 
uriant vegetation — Descend from the great plateau — Change of climate 
— Ruined hacienda of San Bernardino — Wild cattle — Black "Water 
Creek — Teamster attacked by a bull — Grave of an American deserter. 241 



Leave the California road — Agua Prieta — Send party to look for Fronte- 
ras — Mexican soldiers sent to guide us in — Journey resumed — Strike 
a rich valley — Break a wagon — Reach Fronteras — Description of the 
place — Abandoned by its people andrecolonized — General Carrasco — ■ 
Couriers between the frontier posts — Attack by General Carrasco on 
Apaches at Janos — Campaign against the Apaches— General Carrasco's 
opinion of American officers — The Doctor beset by the sick — Leave 
Fronteras — Coquiarachi — Valley of Barbari— Wild turkeys — Mountain 
Pass — Gold Mine — Bacuachi — Sonora River — Magnificent canon — Chi- 
napi — Curious sandstone formation — Arrival at Arispe 261 





Description ef Arispe — Primitive church service — Scarcity of grain and 
fruit, and abundance of vegetables — Set out on our return — Broken 
down wagon abandoned — Reach Fronteras — A blacksmith's indepen- 
dence — Celebration of a Saint's day — Manufacture of aguardiente — 
Various uses of the Maguay — Doctor's fees — Broken wagon metamor- 
phosed into a cart — Sorry plight of a wild bull— Strike Cooke's road — 
Traces of fire in the Guadalupe Pass — Mexican encampment — Story of 
Americans attacked by Apaches — Reach the Copper Mines — Colonel 
Graham not arrived — Visit General Conde's camp, and consult with 
Lieutenant "Whipple — Return to the Copper Mines 282 



Visit from th^e Apaches — Mangus Colorado — Arrival of Mr. Sanford — 11th 
Article of the Treaty relating to captives — Arrest of New Mexican 
traders — Inez Gonzales, the Mexican captive — Examination of traders — 
Story of the captive girl — Pinalenos Indians — General Cond6 arrives — 
The 11th Article of the Treaty enforced — Friendly intercourse with the 
Indians — Two Mexican boys taken from them — Excitement in conse- 
quence — Conference and dialogue with the Apache chiefs — Amicable 
settlement of difficulties 300 



Intercourse with the Apaches — Mangus Colorado and his new clothes — 
Proper mode of treating Indians — Treachery and massacre of Indians 
by an Englishman — Tribe of Copper Mine Apaches — Their numbers — 
Extent of their incursions — Ethnological position — Inferiority of the 
tribe — Dress — Visit from the Navajos — Their fine blankets — An Apa- 
che shot by a Mexican — Alarm — Arrest and examination of prisoner — 
Death of the Indian — The murderer demanded by the Apaches — Con- 
ference with the Chiefs, and their talk — Restoration of friendship. . .319 



Arrival of Mr. A. B. Gray — Meeting of Joint Commission — Objections of 
Mr. Gray to Initial Point — Mules missing — Arrival of Colonel Graham 



— Mules stolen from Frontera — Descent of the Apaches on the mule 
herd — Organization of parties for the Survey — Application to Colonel 
Sumner for more troops — Hostile attitude of the Indians — Second in- 
cursion of the Indians — Mules taken — Colonel Craig goes in pursuit — 
Arrival of Captain Buford with dragoons to our aid — Indians pursued 
by Colonel Craig and Captain Buford — Third incursion of the Indians 
— Volunteer party go in pursuit — Indians overtaken and cattle recov- 
ered — Apache chief recognised among the robbers — Determine to set 
out for the Gila 340 



Organization of parties for the survey of the Gila — Leave the Copper 
Mines — Pack-mules — Mode of packing — Ojo de Vaca — Camp in the 
Burro Mountains — Ojo de Inez — Grizzly bear — Violent rain — Heavy 
travelling — La Piloncillo, or Sugar-loaf Mountain — Broad plain — Camp 
at El Sauce — Man missing — Camp in the Chiricahui Mountains^-Boggy 
road — "Want of water — Dry lake — Reach the Mexican camp — Meeting 
of the Joint Commission — Mr. Gray's objection to the boundary — March 
resumed — Mules abandoned — Reach San Pedro River — Its character. 355 



The valley of the San Pedro — Decide on going to Santa Cruz for provisions 
and mules — Departure of General Conde — Leave the San Pedro — Take 
the trail of the Mexicans — Deserted Indian village — Leave the trail — 
Wild horses — Santa Rita Mountain — Beautiful valley — Progress arrest- 
ed—Critical situation — Mr. Thurber goes in search of Santa Cruz- 
Arrival of Colonel Graham — Ruined hacienda of Calabasa — Wild 
scenery — On short allowance — Return of Mr. Thurber — Retrace our 
steps towards the San Pedro — Mustangs — Camp on the Babocomori — 
Arrival of Mexican soldiers — General Conde loses his way — Sufferings 
of his party — Mexicans hunting cattle on the San Pedro — The father 
and friends of Inez Gonzales arrive — Set out again for Santa Cruz — 
Meeting of the captive girl and her mother — Arrival at Santa Cruz, . 379 



Account of the missing parties — Description of Santa Cruz, and its popu- 
lation — Departure of Colonel Graham — Set out for La Magdalena — In- 


crease of party — San Lazaro — Cocospera — Its beautiful valley — The 
canon where Inez Gonzales was taken — First sight of the Cereus Gigan- 
teus — Babasaqui — Wild cattle — Imuris — Terrenati — San Ignacio and its 
church — Abundance of pomegranates — Passports demanded — Proceed 
to Magdalena — Summoned before the Alcalde — Legend of the origin of 
the town — Festival of San Francisco — Religious devotees — OiFerings 
to the Saint — Consecration of ribbons — Booths — Gambling — Perpetual 
fandango — Vegetable productions near the town — Fine scenery — Grand 
torchlight procession — Close of the festivities — Description of La Magda- 
lena. • 406 



Leave La Magdalena — Taken ill — Diary breaks off — Sufferings on the road 
— Reach Ures — Poor quarters — Dr. "Webb and rest of party visit Guay- 
mas — Kindness of Dr. Campbell — Description of Ures, the capital of 
Sonora — Theatricals — The Yaqui Indians — The Opate Indians — Visit 
from Tanori, an Opate chief — Other Indian tribes of Sonora — Exports 
— Narrative of an expedition against the Apaches — My party leave me 
and go to the Gila — Taken to Dr. Campbell's — Irruption of the Apaches 
— Imbecility of the Mexicans — Tanori and the Opate Indians go in pur- 
suit — Visit from the Coco-Maricopa Indians of the Gila — Good news 
from Tanori — He defeats the Apaches and recovers the stock — En- 
trance of the victors with the recovered booty into Ures — Death of 
General Garcia Conde — His character — An American held in bondage 
— Arrival of General Flores — Departure for the coast. ...... 438 



Leave Ures — Rich valley — Tapahui — Don Manuel Gandera — His large es- 
tates — Successful farming — Statistics of his haciendas — Silver mine — 
Reach Hermosillo — Governor Aguilar — The Ceris Indians — Obtain 
their language — Account of the tribe — Mode of poisoning their wea- 
pons — Description of Hermosillo — The Sonora River — Productions of 
the valley — Business relations — Sketch of the town — Departure — Meet 
French emigrants — Description of the country — Its barrenness — Busi- 
ness-like mode of milking cows — La Cieneguita — Buena Noche — Reach 
Guaymas — Mr. Robinson, the U. S. Consul — Description of Guaymas 
and its Campo Santo — Its harbor — Commerce — Intense heat — Depart- 
ure 458 





Voyage down the Gulf of California in a pilot boat — Barren coast — Island 
of Carmen — Loreto — Reach Mazatlan — Its picturesque appearance — 
Description of the town — Americans here — Embark for Acapulco — 
Land at San Bias — Visit to Mr. Horn, the Captain of the Port — Ride to 
the old town — Its beautiful position — Ruined condition — Visit an old 
fortress — Leave San Bias — Description of the coast — Volcanoes of Coli- 
ma — Land at Manzanillo Bay — Its unhealthy climate — Laguna — Cargo 
discharged — Stupidity of Custom House official — Leave without papers 
— Reach Acapulco — Chinese hotel — Beautiful harbor — Castle of San 
Carlos — Unhealthiness of the place — Extreme heat — Noxious insects — 
Description of the town — Ancient commerce — Departure for San Diego 
— Crowded state of the steamer — Voyage up the coast — Arrival at 
San Diego — Rejoin the Boundary Commission 482 



No. Page 

1. Mission of San Jose, Texas,.. 42 

2. Mission of Concepcion, Texas, 44 

3. Prairie-Dog Town, Texas, 70 

4. Castle Mountain Pass, Texas, 91 

5. Crossing the Peoos, Texas, ....... 98 

6. Guadalupe Mountain and Pass, Texas, . . . . 118 

7. Waco Mountain and Pass, Texas, 132 

8. Indian Paintings on Kooks, Waco Mountains, Texas, . 171 

9. " " " " " 172 

10. " " " " '.' . 173 

11. Church and Plaza, El Paso, Chihuahua, .... 189 

12. Presidio of San Eleazario, Texas, 194 

13. Approach to Mule Speing and Picacho of the Mimbees, 

New Mexico, 219 

14. Sandstone Eooks, Yallet of the Mimbees, New Mexico, 224 

15. Yallet of the Copper Mines (Fort Webster), New Mexico, . 227 

16. Canon Leading to the Copper Mines, New Mexico, . 232 

17. Presidio at the Copper Mines, New Mexico, . . . 235 

18. Defile in the Guadalupe Pass. Sierra Madre, Sonora, 254 

19. Town of Fronteeas, Sonora, 265 

20. Sandstone Columns, near Arispe, Sonoea, . . . 280 






Town of Akispe, Sonoea, 

Group of Apaches, 

Apache Head-Deess and Boots, .... 

Bueeo Mountains, New Mexico, 

Sugae-Loaf Mountain, -Chihuahua, 

Rocky Oayeen, neae the Boundaey, Chihuahua, 

Punt a de Sauz Cienega, Sonoea, 

Chieicahui Mountains, Sonoea, 

Wigwam of the Papago Indians, Sonoea, . 

Town of Santa Ceuz, Sonoea, .... 

Dooeway of a Chuech, San Ignacio, Sonoea, . 

Town of Santa Magdalena, Sonoea, 

Date-Teee and Field of Sugae-Cane, Uees, Sonoea, 

Manzanillo Bay, Pacific Coast, 

















1. Snow-Stoem on Delawaee Ceeek, neae the Pecos, Texas, 112 

2. Guadalupe Pass on Cooke's Road, Sieeea Madee, Sonoea, 296 

3. Valley Leading to Santa Ceuz, Sonoea, .... 402 

4. City of Heemosillo, Sonoea, 468 

5. City of Mazatlan, Pacific Coast, . . . . . 486 

6. City of Aoapulco, Pacific Coast, 500 





Treaty of Peace between the United States and Mexico — Hon, J. B. Wel- 
ler appointed Commissioner to run the new Boundary Line between 
the two Bepublics — Determines the initial point on the Pacific and the 
centre of the mouth of the Gila — Ool. J. 0. Fremont's Appointment 
and Besignation — J. B. Bartlett appointed Commissioner — Fitting out 
and Organization of the Expedition — Embarcation of main body of 
Commission from New York — Embarcation of Commissioner and others 
— Water-Spouts — Havana — New Orleans — Arrival at Indianola. 

The treaty of peace between the United States and 
the Mexican Republic, dated at Guadalupe Hidalgo, 
on the 2d February, 1848, requires that " the two 
governments shall each appoint a commissioner and sur- 
veyor, who, before the expiration of one year from the 
date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty, 
shall meet at the port of San Diego," and proceed to 
run and mark the boundary between the two countries 
" in its whole length to the mouth of the Rio Bravo 
del Norte." These officers are required to " keep 
journals and make out plans of their operations; and 
the result agreed upon by them shall be deemed a part 


of this treaty, and shall have the same force as if it 
were inserted therein. The two governments will 
amicably agree regarding what may be necessary to 
these persons, and also as to their respective escorts, 
should such be necessary." 

The treaty requires that the starting or initial point 
on the Pacific Ocean shall be " one marine league due 
south of the southernmost point of the port of San Diego, 
according to the plan of said port, made in the year 
1782 by Don Juan Pantoja, second sailing-master of 
the Spanish fleet, and published at Madrid in the year 
1802, in the Atlas to the Voyage of the schooners Sutil 
and Mexicana." From this point the line separating 
Upper from Lower California was to be "a straight line 
to the middle of the Rio Gila, where it unites with the 

The Hon. John B. Weller was appointed the first 
Commissioner, and Andrew B. Gray, Esq., the first Sur- 
veyor under the treaty. They took with them to San 
Diego a corps of engineers and assistants. Major W. 
H. Emory, Captain E. L. F. Hardcastle, and Lieuten- 
ant A. W. Whipple, of the U, S. Topographical Engi- 
neers, the first as chief, and the latter as assistant 
astronomers, were detailed by the government to aid 
the commissioner and surveyor, in carrying out the 
stipulations of the treaty. They assembled at San 
Diego in the month of June, and entered upon their 
duties soon after. 

Without going into any detail of the proceedings 
of this Commission, it will be sufficient for my purpose 
to say, that the two important points referred to, viz., 
the initial point, one marine league south of the Bay 


of San Diego, and the middle of the Bio Gila, where 
it unites with the Colorado, were determined by means 
of an elaborate series of astronomical observations, by 
the Topographical Engineers intrusted with these du- 
ties. A considerable portion of the straight line con- 
necting these points was also run. 

In February, 1850, it was found impracticable to 
advance eastward beyond the mouth of the Gila, and 
towards the frontier of New Mexico, in consequence 
of the difficulties attending the fitting out of large 
parties for the important service to be performed. 
The Commission then adjourned, to meet at El Paso, 
in the State of Chihuahua, on the first Monday of No- 
vember following. 

Soon after the adjournment, Mr. Weller was re- 
moved, and Colonel J. C. Fremont appointed to 
his place; but before the latter gentleman entered 
upon his duties as Commissioner, he was elected by 
the people of California, to represent that State in the 
Senate of the United States. Elected to so distin- 
guished an office, Colonel Fremont did not hesitate to 
resign his place as Commissioner on the Boundary, 
when I was honored by President Taylor with the 
appointment to succeed him. 

I received my letter of appointment in June, 1850, 
when I immediately set to work, to organize such a 
party as would be necessary to carry on the survey, 
and to procure the outfit required for the service. 
Here was a preparatory labor of several months. But, 
as I was required to be at El Paso del Norte, on the 
Rio Grande, on the 1st Monday in November, the day 
on which the joint Commission was to meet, agreeably 


to the adjournment in the preceding February, there 
was little time left me for these preparations ; for, 
making every exertion, I could not expect to reach 
that far-distant place, in less than two months after 
leaving the Gulf of Mexico. This would leave me 
little more than two months, viz., July and August, to 
select my assistants, organize the Commission, procure 
the necessary outfit, and transport the whole to the most 
convenient point on the Gulf of Mexico, from which 
the party could start on its long march for the interior. 

I immediately set to work to complete the arrange- 
ments previously made for wagons, tents, camp equip- 
age, arms and ammunition, instruments, stationery, 
etc., and to purchase provisions, medical stores, and 
such other articles as would be required in a distant 
country, where few of the necessaries of life could be 
procured, and still less of the supplies required by 
surveying parties, except only animals, and the means 
of transportation. 

Twenty-five wagons were contracted for, in New- 
ark, New Jersey, including ambulances, or spring wag- 
ons, for the transportation of surveying and astronomi- 
cal instruments, and other purposes. Four iron boats, 
with their equipments, were constructed, under the 
direction of Lieutenant J. G. Strain, U. S. NaVy. 
Tents for the whole party, camp equipage, harness, 
saddles and bridles, pack saddles, mechanics' tools, 
fire arms, and the other articles named, were purchased 
in New York ; in which duty I had the assistance of 
the same officer, who was indefatigable in his exertions 
to prepare the party for service. 

That no time might be lost in the preparations for 


the field, I first appointed a Quarter- master and a 
Commissary, who immediately entered upon their re- 
spective duties. The former, James Myer, Esq., a 
gentleman from Texas, who had been connected with 
the Quarter-master's department, under General Tay- 
lor, in the late war with Mexico, proceeded at once to 
Texas, with his assistant, Edward Clarke, Esq., for the 
purpose of procuring horses and mules, which were to 
be brought together at our place of landing. I next 
appointed the various engineers, surveyors, and their 
assistants, mechanics, laborers, cooks, servants, etc. ; 
and issued an order to all, to report themselves in 
the City of New York, on board the Steamer Gal- 
veston, on the 3d day of August, 1850, having char- 
tered that vessel to transport the Commission and its 
stores to Indianola, in Texas. 

In organizing the Boundary Commission, I had in 
view other objects, not directly connected with the 
survey. By the sixth article of the treaty of Guada- 
lupe Hidalgo, provision is made for the collection of 
information relative to the construction of a "road, 
canal, or railway, which shall, in whole or in part, run 
upon the river Gila, or upon its right or left bank, 
within the space of a marine league from either mar- 
gin of the river." 

To make these examinations required an additional 
force ; but besides this, my intention was to commence 
the survey with two parties simultaneously, at El Paso, 
and work towards both the Pacific and the Atlantic, 
by which means the work would be brought to a much 
speedier termination, than if a single party of engi- 
neers should take the field and carry on the work, 


from one end of the line to the other. To do all this 
required four full parties, two of them being astro- 
nomical and two surveying. The Commission was 
therefore organized accordingly. Its chief officers, 
when the re-organization took place, after my appoint- 
ment, were as follows: 

John R Bartlett, Commissioner. 

Andrew B. Gray, Surveyor. 

Col. John McClellan, Chief Astronomer. 

Lieut. J. G. Strain, JJ. S. Wavy. 

Lieut. A. W. Whipple, Assistant Astronomer. 

Capt. E. L. F. Hardcastle, do. do. 

The latter officer remained in California, to finish the 
demarcation of the line between the mouth of the 
Rio Gila and the Pacific, and did not join the parties 
which accompanied me. For the programme of the 
Commission, as organized in Washington, in July, 1850, 
see Appendix C. 

On the third of August following, or about six 
weeks after my appointment, the outfit, subsistence, 
etc., were so far ready, that the whole Commission, 
excepting Lieutenant Whipple, Colonel Chandler, one 
of the first assistant engineers, two of the assistants, 
and myself, embarked on board the steamer Galveston, 
at New York, and set sail the same afternoon for New 
Orleans and Indianola, Texas. The whole party, em- 
bracing officers and men, which embarked, numbered 
one hundred and five persons, taking with them pro- 
visions for six months. An escort of United States 
soldiers, under Colonel Craig, consisting of 3d Infant- 


ry, and embracing eighty -five men, accompanied the 

On the 13th of August, having closed up all the 
business of the Commission, and procured some as- 
tronomical instruments which could not be got ready 
sooner, I embarked on board the steamship Georgia, 
Captain Porter, accompanied by the gentlemen before 
referred to, for Havana, where we arrived on the morn- 
ing of the 19th, after a pleasant voyage. With the ex- 
ception of a thunderstorm off Cape Hatteras, and the 
unusual sight of five water-spouts at the same time, from 
a large heavy cloud about two miles to the leeward, 
there were no incidents worth recording. The water- 
spouts were interesting on account of the unusual 
number seen at the same time. One of these, and 
the largest, rose in a direct perpendicular column from 
the surface of the ocean to the cloud, funnel-shaped at 
either end, or like a huge column, its base on the 
ocean, its capital under the cloud. All the others 
were spiral, and connected in the middle by an appa- 
rently small column of water. They soon disap- 
peared, as well as the heavy cloud with which they 
were connected. The turbulent ocean, which had 
lashed the ship's sides for a couple of hours, soon 
became composed, and relapsed into a dead calm. 
This continued until we rounded the Moro Castle, 
and entered the beautiful harbor of Havana. 

In the afternoon of the same day we left the Geor- 
gia, which went no further, and embarked on board the 
steamer Falcon for New Orleans. A striking con- 
trast was presented in these two ships. The former 
was sweet and clean in every part ; while the filth of 


th,e latter, and the stench arising from her cabin and 
hold, resembled that from a hog stye. She had just 
arrived from Chagres with a large number of passen- 
gers from California, many of whom were suffering 
with fever. One poor creature died during the day, 
and was sent on shore for interment. Although we 
felt somewhat apprehensive on finding ourselves in Ha- 
vana at mid-summer, when foreigners generally leave, 
and when all avoid it who can, I suffered no inconve- 
nience from the heat, which was not more oppressive 
than in New York ; still we took the precaution to 
keep very quiet. A gentle breeze drew in from the 
ocean, making it comfortable under the awning. To- 
wards evening, I went on shore with Lieut. Whipple, 
when we took a volante and drove out to the bishop's 
palace, and the neighboring public places of resort. 

Tuesday, August 20th. At two o'clock p. m., sailed 
for New Orleans ; the weather pleasant, and not uncom- 
fortably warm. The boat was not only crowded with 
passengers, but, to increase the discomfort, her decks 
were filled with crates of pine-apples and other fruits, 
so as to leave but little room to move about. When 
I went to retire, I learned that there were two pas- 
sengers on board with the yellow fever ; in fact, I had 
arranged my cot near them before I found out what 
their illness was. Several of the passengers then, my- 
self among the number, thought it more prudent to 
spread our beds upon the deck, where we had the ad- 
vantage of a pure atmosphere. Reached New Orleans 
at midnight on the 23d, and proceeded at once to the 
Saint Charles Hotel, as did nearly all the rest of the 


I here learned that the Galveston had arrived in 
safety, and, after a delay of a couple of days, had pro- 
ceeded to Indianola. One of the officers had been 
taken with a fever, and remained behind ; all the 
others were in good health. 

After remaining at New Orleans two days, we em- 
barked on board the steamer Portland, for Indianola, 
a clean and comfortable vessel, though somewhat 
slow. The surface of the gulf was scarcely ruffled 
by the breeze ; so that no one was sea-sick, and all 
seemed to enjoy the voyage. The fourth day brought 
us to Galveston, where I found three young men be- 
longing to the Commission, who had been left by the 
Galveston steamer. Remained here long enough to 
go to the beach and bathe, which greatly refreshed 
us ; when we continued our voyage, and came to 
anchor the next evening off the town of La Salle, in 
Matagorda Bay. Several officers of the Commission, 
who had been watching the arrival of the steamer, 
came on board late at night, and informed me that all 
had arrived in safety, and that they were encamped 
at Indianola, about six miles distant. 

August 31st A small government steamer came 
off to us early this morning and took us to Indianola, 
which we reached at eleven o'clock. Many of the 
party met me at the landing, when I took an ambu- 
lance and rode to the camp, on the shore of the bay, 
a short distance from the town. 




Preparations for the Start — Breaking mules — La Salle and its early History 
— Prosperity of Indianola — Commencement of Survey — Eoute to Vic- 
toria — Shoeing mules — Encampment in grove — Military drilling — 
Flourishing condition of Victoria — Primitive legal proceedings — Diffi- 
culties of navigating Espiritu Santo Bay — Description of surrounding 
country — Mexican ranch — Observance of the Sabbath — Justice dis- 
pensed in the matter of a calf — Goliad, its early history and ruins — 
Massacre of prisoners after the battle of Perdida Creek — Leave Goliad 
— Murder of a Mexican by a teamster — Arrival at San Antonio — 
Another murder — Preparations for crossing the Plains — Description 
of San Antonio— Alamo — Mission Churches. 

Since the arrival of the Commission, all parties had 
been busily occupied in getting ready to move into 
the interior ; and those only who have had experience 
in fitting out a large train of wagons for a journey 
across the prairies, or to California, can form an ade- 
quate idea of the preparations required. If the route 
were a settled one, or if settlements were to be met 
with, even at distances of a hundred miles apart, 
where supplies could be procured and repairs made, 
much of the labor necessary on setting out, and a vast 
deal that is required on the way, might be dispensed 
with. At this place it was not necessary to complete 


our arrangements for a final start. The town did 
not furnish the facilities for so doing. My intention, 
therefore, was to proceed to San Antonio, the princi- 
pal city of Texas, a hundred and forty miles distant, 
and there complete our outfit for the longer march 
across the prairies and deserts to El Paso del Norte. 

Quarter-master Myer had arrived before the Gal- 
veston, with about one hundred horses and mules ; but 
these were quite inadequate for the wants of the party. 
It was found, too, that the twenty -five wagons brought 
out were insufficient to transport the property of the 
Commission ; in fact, they would little more than 
carry the instruments, personal baggage, tents, and 
camp equipage. The instruments were packed with 
great care, and filled four of the ambulances. It there- 
fore became necessary to procure at once additional 
wagons, mules, and horses for the transportation of 
the provisions, of which we had a six months' supply 
for one hundred men, as well as for the men to ride 
on. But that no time should be lost, it was thought 
best, as fast as the wagons could be got ready, to pro- 
ceed into the interior, as far as the town of Victoria, 
where water, wood, and grass were abundant, and 
where greater facilities were to be found for shoeing 
our animals than at Indianola. Here there was no 
wood, and water could be had only from one or two 
wells, and that of so bad a quality that many of the 
party had been attacked with complaints of the 

The quartermaster and his men occupied them- 
selves in breaking the mules, very few of which had 
ever been in harness before. This was done by mak- 


ing them draw logs about for a few days, when 
they became docile, and could be harnessed to the 
wagons with safety. While this was going on, the 
mechanics were employed in their various duties. 
The blacksmiths and carpenters in making many 
small fixtures to the wagons; amongst other things, 
all had to be provided with feed-troughs, not a single 
one of these necessary appendages being furnished 
with them. All the harness and collars had to be re- 
duced, to adapt them to our Mexican mules, which 
were much smaller than the mules of Kentucky and 
Missouri, used at the north, and for the transportation 
of merchandise for the Santa Fe and New Mexican trade. 
La Salle, the place opposite which we came to an- 
chor in entering Matagorda Bay, is so named in memo- 
ry of one of the most remarkable of the early explo- 
rers of the North American continent. This distin- 
guished Frenchman, with the ardent zeal which charac- 
terized his countrymen in their attempts to penetrate 
to the very heart of the continent, had passed the great 
chain of the northern lakes, pushed his discoveries to 
the head waters of the Mississippi, and traced its course 
to the gulf, before the first English colonist had es- 
tablished himself on the Atlantic coast. Coasting along 
the shores of the gulf in search of a spot whereon he 
might establish a colony, he landed, against his will, at 
or near the spot which now bears his name, where he 
remained nearly a year with a little band of adventu- 
rers, facing all the dangers and undergoing all the hard- 
ships to which they could be exposed in a country sur- 
rounded by hostile Indians. In his attempt to extricate 
his party, he was murdered by one of them. 


This place was selected as the most desirable spot 
for a town, on account of its depth of water, and con- 
venience of approach from the gulf. Vessels drawing 
ten feet of water, are said to have passed in without 
difficulty ; and, to use the words of an enthusiastic ad- 
mirer of its position, who doubtless had some interest 
in its success, "it seems to have been intended by 
nature, to rear and sustain a large commercial city." 

From the several examinations which have been 
made of Matagorda Bay, it appears that the harbors on 
its western shores, the chief of which are La Salle and 
Indianola, possess advantages above those of any ports 
on the Gulf of Mexico, between the mouth of the Mis- 
sissippi and Vera Cruz, with the exception of Galves- 
ton. The whole Texan coast, it is well known, is bor- 
dered by long and shallow lagoons, connected with the 
waters of the gulf by narrow openings, whose position 
is constantly shifting, and which have not always suffi- 
cient depth of water for the passage of large vessels. 
Paso Cavallo, the entrance to Matagorda Bay, is only 
second to that which leads to Galveston Bay. 

In the contest for superiority, Indianola seems to 
have carried away the palm ; for while the highly ap- 
plauded site for the city of La Salle is almost unoccu- 
pied, the former has grown into a large and thriving 
town, second only to Galveston among all the ports of 
Texas. Indianola is now the port for the extensive 
commerce with Western Texas, Chihuahua, and por- 
tions of New Mexico ; a railroad has already been com- 
menced to connect it with San Antonio, the chief city 
of the State, and two lines of steamers plying between 
it and New Orleans will continue to add to its prosperi- 


ty. Should one of the contemplated railroads to the 
Pacific be extended west from San Antonio, with its 
terminus here, Inclianola will rank second only to New 
Orleans among the cities of the gulf in commerce and 

The necessity of giving early employment to the 
large corps of engineers attached to the Commission, 
in the duties which appertained to their profession, 
induced me, among other reasons, to make an examina- 
tion of the country between Indian ola and our place of 
destination on the Rio Grande, in order to ascertain the 
facilities it afforded for a railroad. With this view I 
caused a party to be organized to make a chain and 
compass survey, and to carry a line of levels to deter- 
mine a profile of the route from this point to El Paso 
del Norte. The eyes of the South had long been di- 
rected this way ; for whether there might be a more 
practicable route or not further north, it was a question 
of great importance to the southern section of the 
Union, that all the information possible, should be ob- 
tained with reference to the country we were about to 
traverse, and its practicability for the purpose of a rail- 

The various engineers, surveyors, and assistants, 
were desirous to enter on active duty as soon as possi- 
ble, and received with great satisfaction the order to 
commence their labors in a field comparatively un- 

Lieutenant A. W. Whipple, of the Topographical 
Engineers, was placed at the head of the party, and 
performed the astronomical duties; while Mr. John 
Bull was the principal surveyor, in charge of this de- 


partnient of the work. They selected their assistants, 
and entered upon their operations on the 3d of Septem- 

The preparations on the train, the breaking in of 
the mules, and obtaining the additional transportation 
before alluded to, occupied about a week after my ar- 
rival. I left Indianola on the fifth of September for 
Victoria, distant about thirty miles, a portion of the 
train having preceded me. Immediately on leaving 
the shores of the bay we entered a fine level prairie, un- 
limited by hill or any elevation, and covered with the 
richest grass. Not a tree or shrub interrupted the 
broad expanse that lay before us. Here and there were 
gentle undulations, like the long waves of the ocean 
when, after a severe blow, its agitated waters are sub- 
siding into a calm. The prairie fowl, the great curlew, 
and flocks of quail arose as we moved along ; and be- 
ing in advance of the party, I had an opportunity to 
test the qualities of my double-barrelled gun. When but 
a few miles from the town, we began to observe herds 
of deer a short distance from the road, grazing in 
quietness among the innumerable cattle which dotted 
the plain in every direction, doubtless imagining that 
proximity to their tame companions added to their 
security : though, in fact, it proved directly the reverse ; 
for the cunning hunter would take advantage of their 
presence to approach the nearer to his game. The young 
men who accompanied me, being prepared with rifles, 
dashed off to try their hand at this exciting sport, in 
which they were more or less successful ; so that on 
reaching our place of encampment, they were provided 
with a fine saddle of venison for their dinner. 


The entire distance to Victoria is over the rich 
prairie just described. It is occasionally intersected 
by bayous, lagoons, or small streams, where the land 
is brought into cultivation, giving evidence of its 
inexhaustible richness in the luxuriant growth of cotton 
and sugar-cane which it bears. Near the water are 
clumps of trees ; and such spots are eagerly sought 
after as places of residence. 

On the morning of the 6th, I reached Victoria, 
where I found great activity in the camp. Here one 
of the most important jobs was to be performed, that 
of shoeing the mules. It was believed, that breaking 
them in to the harness at Indian ola, and two days' 
journey with heavily loaded wagons, would render them 
more tractable, when the process of shoeing was to 
be undertaken. But this rough handling seemed to 
have subdued them but little. They were as wild 
and skittish as when roaming at large over the broad 
prairies, and as repugnant to civilized life, and the 
arduous labors attending it, as the untamed mustangs, 
which had never been brought under the control of 
the teamster's lash. 

The first step in this process, was to construct a 
frame-work of timber, called the "stocks," consisting 
of four upright posts, connected by bars on all sides, 
and capable of containing a single mule. Near this was 
placed the blacksmith's forge. 

The next step was to catch the mules, and place 
them in the stocks, a task of infinitely more labor than 
that of putting on the shoes. The mules were first 
driven into a corral or pen. The animal to be shod 
was then selected, and a lasso or rope thrown over his 


head, by which he was drawn from the inclosure. 
Then commenced a series of kickings, and rearings, and 
boltings, a caution to all to keep out of the way, when, 
by the aid of several men, the victim was brought up 
to the stocks. Now came the most difficult part of 
the operation, that of getting him in. A mule is by 
nature timid, even when he has been used for years, 
and subjected to kind treatment; but if, when only 
half tamed, he is violently brought under control, this 
timidity is increased to actual fright, and he does not 
hesitate to ply his heels pretty vigorously. There is no 
species of defence belonging to the horse, no stubborn- 
ness peculiar to the ass, but are concentrated in the 
mule. He possesses the bad qualities of his paternal and 
maternal progenitors, with the good traits of neither. 
The gentleness, docility, and instinct of the horse, are 
not found in the race ; while the capricious obstinacy 
of his paternal ancestor is exhibited to the fullest ex- 
tent. There is one trait of his character, however, 
that should be noticed, and that is his power of endu- 
ring fatigue and privation, which renders him better 
fitted for the long inland journeys, where there is an 
insufficiency of food and a scarcity of water, than the 

The sight of the stocks, as might be supposed, 
would not tend to make a mule more tractable. Then 
begins the tug. The rear kick, the side kick, the for- 
ward plunge, are exhibited to the fullest extent. Seve- 
ral men get hold of the halter, while other ropes are 
passed round his rear, and thus he is finally drawn 
into the stocks. Bandages or straps are placed under 
his body, by which he is raised from his feet. His 

VOL. I. — 2 


head is secured between two wooden bars ; and each 
foot, after a severe tussle, is fastened, by means of iron 
clamps, to the four upright posts or cross-bars. The 
victim is now ready for the shoeing process, which is 
the most expeditious part of the operation. The shoes 
having been previously brought to the size of the small 
hoofs, a blacksmith stands ready at each foot, with a 
shoe, nails, and hammer in hand. He does not then 
pause in order to make a close fit ; but the shoe is put 
on in less time than a city farrier would spend in 
paring a horse's hoof. This part of the job being 
over, the finale of the operation is to haul the animal 
out, which, owing to the spirit of perverseness inherent 
in his nature, is generally attended with as much 
difficulty as that of getting him into the stocks. He 
is now suffered to go at large, unrestrained by the bars 
and rails of the corral. In this maimer, about one 
hundred and fifty mules were shod ; and, as only twelve 
at the most could be got through with in one day, 
about two weeks were necessarily spent in this portion 
of our fitting out for the march. Considerable time 
was also occupied in preparing the shoes, which were 
made in New York ; and being adapted for the larger 
American mules, it was found necessary to reduce them 
all for the smaller and more delicately formed hoofs of 
our Mexican torments. 

Believing it would be more advantageous to the 
members of the Commission whose presence was not 
necessary in the camp where the work alluded to was 
going on, and that it would be conducive to their 
health, I left Victoria on the 13th, with the larger por- 
tion of the Commission, and formed my camp in a 


beautiful grove of live oaks, on the banks of the river 
Colette, a tributary of the Guadalupe, six miles dis- 
tant. We were here away from the vices and mischief 
which invariably attend large parties without employ- 
ment, when encamped in or near a town. We here 
had fine running water, in which we could bathe, a 
practice which greatly tended to promote health. The 
trees afforded us a fine shade ; and, as the heat was still 
great, the mercury rising from 95° to 100° Fahrenheit, 
in the coolest places, we found it more comfortable 
beneath the trees than to remain in our tents. There 
was excellent grass in abundance all around us, where 
our animals could feed, and we quietly awaited the 
arrival of the train, to continue our journey. 

Before setting out from Indianola, it was deemed 
advisable, for the safety of the party, in the long and 
dangerous march of more than eight hundred miles 
through a country infested by hostile Indians, to or- 
ganize the members of the Commission, not engaged 
on surveying or other duties, into two military com- 
panies. This would place them all under the more 
direct control of the officers, and hence lead to a better 
subordination. With this view, the engineers and their 
assistants were formed into a cavalry corps, under the 
command of Lieutenant J. G. Strain, U. S. Navy ; and 
the mechanics and laborers into a rifle corps, under the 
command of Captain Edmund Barry, an officer who 
had served in the army during the Mexican war. All 
were provided with rifles or carbines, and many of the 
cavalry with Colt's revolvers, or six shooters. Lieu- 
tenant Strain, by means of careful drilling at India- 
nola, on the march, and during our stay at Victoria, 


brought his company into such a state of discipline, 
that it made a very respectable appearance. The 
saddles, bridles, and trappings, were the same as those 
of the U. S. Dragoons ; the uniform, blue flannel shirts, 
dark pantaloons, and broad-brimmed white felt hats. 
The dress of the rifles was scarlet flannel shirts, the 
rest of the uniform the same as the cavalry. 

The town of Victoria, which we have just left, is 
one of the most flourishing inland towns in Texas. It 
stands on the banks of the Guadalupe River, and, being 
in the midst of a fertile region, possesses a good trade. 
At the time of our visit, in September, 1850, it had 
three public houses, numerous stores, mechanics' shops 
of various kinds, a weekly newspaper, and a court- 
house. The latter edifice always brings with it, in 
new countries, numerous accessories. The court was 
in session at the time of our visit, and appearances 
indicated that a good deal of law and justice was dis- 
pensed here. The house, being of limited dimensions, 
could scarcely contain those whom business brought 
here, and the numerous idlers who have a propensity 
for hanging round country courts. Many were there- 
fore obliged to spend their time in the shade of the 
fences and trees near by ; and when required as wit- 
nesses, the constables came outside the building and 
called out their names to the full extent of their lungs ; 
a primitive mode of doing business, though attended 
with much more comfort for the witnesses, than if 
obliged to be pent up in a closely confined room for 
hours and days together. How the juries were dis- 
posed of I did not learn ; they could not, at any rate, 
carry them out into the high grass, as was customary 


in some of the new States of the West, when courts 
were first introduced. 

Victoria is a place of recent growth, having been 
settled within ten years. The Guadalupe River, where 
it passes the town, is an insignificant stream ; but its 
high banks bear witness that it is at times one of con- 
siderable magnitude. Attempts have been made to 
navigate it by means of a small steamer, but with 
indifferent success ; and the difficulties attending the 
navigation of Espiritu Santo Bay, into which the river 
empties, will prove a serious obstacle to regular com- 
munication with the seaboard. I directed the quarter- 
master to transport the property of the Commission to 
Victoria by steamer from the coast ; but finding it a 
very uncertain mode, and one which might be attended 
with serious delays, he thought it most prudent to 
make use of wagons, and such of our stores as exceeded 
our own means of conveyance were drawn with hired 
teams. As I did not pass through this place on my 
return, I do not know whether the attempt to navi- 
gate the Guadalupe with steamboats has been success- 
ful or not. 

September 14^. The weather was extremely warm 
to-day, the mercury rising to 102° in the shade. Took 
an early breakfast, in order to examine the country 
around us before the sun was too high. The banks of 
the Colette are overhung with trees, from the branches 
of which hang long festoons of moss, waving grace- 
fully with the breeze. The river is about 150 feet 
wide, and near our camp about five feet deep and quite 
sluggish. Saw many fine fish, among them the kind 
known as the " buffalo fish ;" but it would not take the 


hook. The largest ones seemed fond of lying near the 
surface of the water, which enabled us to shoot them 
with a rifle. They proved excellent eating. 

The vegetation presents more interesting features 
as we proceed inland, — the river bottoms are well 
wooded with oaks, pecan, and huck-berry, — and the 
minor plants are more numerous. The peach and fig 
flourish well in the gardens near Victoria ; but the sea- 
son is so dry, that we have no vegetables except pump- 
kins, — even potatoes have disappeared. 

In our walk Mr. Thurber gathered many plants; 
we also found the first appearance of rock that we had 
seen in Texas, near the banks of the stream. Near by 
was a Mexican ranch, which was then an object of 
curiosity, being the first of the kind we had met with. 
It was built of sticks set upright, the interstices filled 
in with mud. The floor was of the same material. 
The house contained but a single apartment, which was 
occupied by a Mexican, his wife, and several children. 
The pigs were rooting near the door. Several fowls 
were perched upon projecting sticks, or nestling on 
the beds ; and we had ocular proof that they some- 
times deposited their eggs there. Bought out the 
entire stock of eggs, and all the milk that could be 

September I5th, Sunday. Thermometer at 101°. 
Announced that I would read the church service at 9 
o'clock, and invited all to attend. It was a source of 
gratification to find that the whole camp were present 
save the two men on guard. The service took place 
beneath the branches of a large tree, where we were 
sufficiently protected from the sun's rays. The chapter 


read on this occasion was from the 20th Corinthians, 
giving the narrative of St. Paul's voyage and shipwreck, 
which seemed an appropriate one : a hymn was after- 
wards sung, in which the greater portion joined. This 
being over, all returned to their tents, or beneath the 
adjacent trees, and passed the remainder of the day in 
quietness. Much satisfaction was expressed at this 
observance of the Sabbath, and it was hoped that it might 
continue to be thus kept during our long march. 

September 16th. The weather continues hot, the mer- 
cury reaching 99° to day, which of course kept us 
quietly in camp as before. Early in the day I set off 
with my gun in search of game, but was unsuccessful 
in finding any thing but a few quails : the prairie fowls 
which were so abundant on the great plain between 
Victoria and Indianola had disappeared. 

A calf was killed and brought into camp by one of 
the men, who declared that he took it for a deer ; and a 
few hours after several claimants appeared demanding 
pay for the animal. They did not come together, nor 
did either of them know that there were other appli- 
cants besides himself. The first, on my questioning him 
as to the color of the calf, said it was black. The next 
one said it was red, and a very valuable animal, more 
so indeed than a full-grown ox. A third declared it to 
be of some other color. I expressed my willingness 
to pay for the slaughtered innocent if I could know its 
rightful owner, and requested the several applicants to 
call on me again towards evening. In the mean time I 
sent for the skin, which was not found to correspond 
with the description given by either of the claimants, 
whom. I then dismissed. 


The wagons and mules continued to arrive at the 
camp ; but when I was expecting soon to move, I 
learned that Colonel McClellan was seriously ill at his 
quarters in Victoria. So ill was he that many feared 
he would be unable to continue the journey. Dr. 
Bigelow, surgeon of the commission, remained to 
attend him. 

While we lay here waiting for the remainder of the 
party, the wagons were overhauled, reloaded, and some 
additional teams added by purchase. Not being able 
to get all we wanted, a few were hired to aid in trans- 
porting the stores to San Antonio, where the quarter- 
master expected to complete his purchase of wagons 
and mules. 

September 20th. Colonel McClellan having so far 
recovered as to join the camp, I gave orders to move 
to-morrow morning at daylight. Every thing, therefore, 
not absolutely necessary, was stored in the wagons, 
and preparations made for an early start. 

September 21st. The bugle sounded at half past three 
o'clock ; breakfast was dispatched before the sun had 
risen ; and ere the morning mist, which, arising from 
the river, hung over our camp, had disappeared, we 
were on our way. The morning was cool and pleasant, 
and I was desirous to reach our proposed camping 
spot before noon. This was the first day's march of 
the whole party ; and as the wagons were heavily 
laden, I did not think it best to press the animals too 
much at the start. 

Our route was over a country of alternate prairie 
and woodland, with an excellent road. After a march 
of fifteen miles, the main body encamped at Manahuila : 


while I with a small party rode on five miles further to 
Goliad, having some business to transact at that place, 
which I reached at 12 o'clock. Here I found Mr. F. 
Wheaton and Mr. Scott, assistants in the surveying 
party, who had been taken ill and were obliged to remain 

Towards evening Judge Lea, a gentleman of enter- 
prise and a large landholder, called on me and invited 
me to his house at Old Goliad about two miles distant. 
He took a deep interest in the survey we were then 
making from Indianola to San Antonio, and had accom- 
panied the surveying party when it passed through his 
lands a day or two before my arrival. Crossed the river 
in a log canoe, and reached the Judge's residence, a 
venerable and ruined church, just at sunset. Took a 
brief view of the ruins of the ancient town while the 
dim twilight remained. 

The present town of Goliad is about two miles from 
the former town, and at the time of my visit contained 
about two hundred inhabitants. The old place, which 
is now in ruins, is situated upon a hill directly upon 
the west bank of the San Antonio River, at its highest 
navigable point, and formerly contained several thou- 
sand inhabitants. It was originally a Spanish Mission, 
instituted for the purpose of christianizing the Indians, 
and united within one inclosure a church and fort, 
while numerous dwellings were clustered under the 
protection of its guns. The date of its establishment 
is not known with certainty, the accounts varying from 
one to two hundred years. The church is the only 
building in any tolerable preservation, except two or 
three houses which have been restored, provided with 


new roofs, and made into very comfortable dwellings — 
better, indeed, than modern builders would think of 
erecting. The church seems to have been designed for 
the double purpose of a church and a castle. Its mas- 
sive walls on every side, which measure four feet in 
thickness, are cemented with waterlime ; and to its 
great strength is owing its fine state of preservation. 
Its extreme length is 90 feet, its breadth 27 feet. 
Its roof is a single stone arch from wall to wall, sus- 
tained by small buildings or cloisters which project 
from the sides, and which are connected with the main 
edifice ; a parapet rises above the roof, behind which 
cannon were formerly planted. 

In the various domestic wars of Mexico this was an 
important place, and frequently changed hands ; nor 
was its importance lost during the struggle for Texan 
independence, when it was occupied by the Mexican as 
well as the Texan forces. Its original name was La 
Bahia del Espiritu Santo, the Bay Town of Espiritu 
Santo, because it was originally the place for collect- 
ing the revenue of the small ports upon the bay. Hence 
all persons arriving on the bay with merchandise were 
obliged to go forty miles into the interior to find the 
officer of the customs, to whom they had to pay their 
duties. Similar inconveniences exist at the present 
day in Mexico, on the Pacific coast : the collector of the 
port of Manzanillo, for instance, resides at the city of 
Colima, ninety miles in the interior. This name of La 
Bahia was changed by the Spaniards about thirty years 
since, when it began to decay as a religious establish- 
ment, to that of Goliad, on account of its great strength. 

Around the church are some twenty or more ru- 


ined buildings of stone, with nothing but their walls 
standing. One of these extends about 150 feet south- 
ward, and appears, from its small apartments, to have 
been constructed for barracks : its walls, like those of 
the church, are very massive. A high wall seems once 
to have surrounded the church, but much of it now lies 
prostrate. The other buildings, which are detached and 
of various dimensions, were chiefly used as dwellings. 
The whole town is in ruins, and presents a scene of de- 
solation, which to an American is at once novel and 
interesting. Each succeeding capture, of course, im- 
paired the buildings ; and after the decisive battle of 
San Jacinto, the Mexicans evacuated it and destroyed 
it as far as they were able. The material of these build- 
ings is a soft white sandstone, which underlays the 
town, and which appears to become hardened when 
exposed to the air. 

We enjoyed the hospitalities of Judge Lea, who is 
domiciliated in the old church, the interior being in 
good condition. To this gentleman we are indebted 
for many facilities for visiting the ruins, and for much 
information respecting the country adjacent. He had 
partitioned the church with a slight frame-work about 
ten feet high, which was covered with calico or brown 
cotton, the top being open ; making it a very comforta- 
ble place for the greater portion of the year. After tea 
we ascended to the roof, to enjoy the cool breeze of the 
evening, and the beautiful landscape which there opens 
to the view. Situated on an eminence, the country 
can be seen for a great distance around. After the 
moon arose and cast a deep shadow from the ruined 
walls, and the long belt of fire from the burning prairie 


shed its red glare on the few clouds that flitted across 
it, the scene assumed an aspect of peculiar solemnity 
and interest. We lingered long to enjoy the fairy -like 
vision, and until the fatigues of the day warned us that 
it was time to retire. 

The sword has truly given place to the plough- 
share here ; and the inclosure which has been the scene 
of many a bloody fight, is now employed by the Judge 
as an experimental garden, in which he has demonstrat- 
ed the capacity of the soil and climate to produce any 
of the great Southern crops of cotton, corn, and sugar, 
as well as the choicest garden vegetables. The church 
is especially notorious as having been the place where 
Fannin and his men were confined and massacred. We 
were fortunate enough to meet with a gentleman, 
Judge H,, who was one of the prisoners, and whose 
singular escape may be worth relating. 

After the battle of Perdida Creek, between Fannin 
and 275 men on one side, and Urrea with 900 Mexi- 
cans on the other, articles of capitulation were signed, 
according to which, those who surrendered were to 
be treated as prisoners of war, and either released 
on parole or sent to some port upon the bay. The 
articles were drawn up within the Texan lines, and all 
was arranged in good faith. The prisoners were con- 
fined within the fortress of Goliad, where they met 
others of their countrymen, sufficient in number to 
make up four hundred. When Santa Anna was in- 
formed of their capture, he sent orders for them to be 
shot. The officers in command remonstrated, but the 
order was repeated peremptorily. The massacre took 
place upon the 27th March, 1836, eight days after the 


battle. The prisoners were marched out of the fort in 
three divisions, full of high expectations that the time 
of their release had arrived, and were shot down 
almost simultaneously by the Mexican soldiery. The 
gentleman above referred to was in the second divi- 
sion, and owes his escape to the most wonderful pre- 
sence of mind. As his division was marching out, he 
heard the report of the muskets, which were fired upon 
the preceding division. Instantly the truth flashed 
upon his mind, and his course of action was decided. 
As he saw the lips of the Mexican officer move to 
give the order for the soldiers to fire, he fell upon 
his face as if dead. The soldiers stood within six feet 
of the prisoners, and fired with fixed bayonets. As 
soon as they had fired, they rushed upon the victims 
with their bayonets to complete the slaughter. Judge 
H. was pierced through the shoulder, bearing the 
wound without showing signs of life. After the exe- 
cution, the scavengers and camp followers came to rob 
the dead. A Mexican, in cutting away his hunting 
shirt to get at his coat which was beneath, wounded him 
in the neck, at which he let escape some expression of 
pain ; whereupon the Mexican, finding him still alive, 
beat him upon the head with the butt of his escopetto 
until he supposed life extinct, and then went on with his 
robbery. All this time the Judge retained a conscious- 
ness of his situation ; and when all had left the bloody 
scene, he crawled, as well as his remaining strength 
would allow, to some concealment near the river, and 
at dark made his escape. After wandering three days 
without food, he obtained assistance from some kind- 
hearted Mexicans, and finally reached the coast in safety. 


As near as can be ascertained, about 375 Texans 
fell victims to this treachery. They are all buried in 
one common grave, with no other monument than the 
prison's ruined walls. 

The situation of Old Goliad is well chosen, and 
from the top of the old church a view of surpassing 
beauty is obtained. The fertile valley of the San An- 
tonio lies below ; and all around the land stretches 
away in gentle undulations, not densely enough wooded 
to form a wilderness, but bearing here and there 
clumps of trees, disposed so regularly as to give the 
landscape a rural aspect. So closely do the clusters 
of live-oaks resemble orchards, and the recently burnt 
prairies, with the newly-springing grass, meadows, 
that one finds it difficult to convince himself that he 
is not passing through a highly cultivated district. 
Upon the opposite side of the river are the ruins of 
another mission — the Aranama — named from a tribe 
of Indians now extinct. This building, like the 
church before described, was surrounded with the 
ruins of lesser ones. It is of smaller dimensions than 
the one tenanted by Judge H. ; but with restored walls, 
openings for windows, and a modern roof, it has been 
changed into a comfortable dwelling. It is occupied 
by a gentleman from New York, who lives in a style 
of elegance that we were quite unprepared to meet 
with in Western Texas. 

Visited to-day the camp of Mr. Bull, a portion 
of whose party was near Goliad. They had made 
good progress with their survey ; but, though they 
had met with no serious obstacles, had suffered much 
from the intense heat on the open prairies, where 


they could obtain no shelter from the mid-day sun. 
Joined the train, and moved on six or eight miles, to 
the banks of the Cabeza, a small stream, and encamped 
in a grove of trees near by. 

September 22d, Sunday. Remained in camp. The 
grass being excellent, our animals had the advantage 
of good feed. Held service beneath a large tree, which 
was attended by the greater portion of the Commis- 

September 23d. The cooks were called at three 
o'clock, and our breakfast dispatched by the break of 
day. This enabled us to move by five o'clock, and to 
reach our intended place of encampment, known as the 
Ojo de Agua, or Water Eye, before noon. 

September 2Mli. Left at five o'clock, and after 
travelling over an excellent road, reached the Sebilla 
River, a rather diminutive stream to receive the appel- 
lation of river, and encamped upon its banks. Dis- 
tance travelled, twenty-one miles. 

September 25th. Took an early start, as usual. 
More timber appeared, and of a larger growth than 
we had observed towards the coast. The live-oak in 
particular, which had been of a stunted or dwarfish 
appearance, now assumed the stateliness of northern 
latitudes. Our ascent was more perceptible to-day 
than any day since our departure from the coast. 
Reached the San Antonio River at ten o'clock, and 
pitched our tents near a cluster of Mexican ranches. 
Distance travelled, seventeen miles. 

A sad event occurred in camp this afternoon, which 
resulted in the death of one of our Mexican neighbors, 
who had been furnishing us with meat and other arti- 


cles. While sitting in my tent in the afternoon, I 
heard the report of a pistol quite near, and immedi- 
ately after saw a number of men and women running 
towards one of the ranches. I hastened to follow, 
and found a man lying on his back with the mark 
of a gun shot in his breast, which I was told had been 
inflicted by one of our teamsters named Green. The 
wounded man appeared to be about thirty years of 
age, and was surrounded by his father, mother, wife 
and four children. His brothers and sisters were also 
around him. Doctors Bigelow and Webb were in im- 
mediate attendance, and rendered all the aid possible. 
But as they pronounced the wound a mortal one, but 
little could be done for him, and he died in two hours. 

The particulars of the murder were briefly these : 
While Green, the teamster, was gathering wood, he 
attempted to take some portion of a fence ; when the 
deceased, who owned the farm and wood, ordered 
him off, at the same time drawing a jack-knife and 
pointing it towards him. Green dropped a portion of 
the wood, and returned to his fire with the remainder. 
He then took his pistol, a large revolver, and came back 
for the wood he had dropped. The man who had 
ordered him off was still there, and approached Green 
with his knife open. The latter, when within three 
feet of him, leisurely drew his pistol and discharged 
it at the Mexican's breast. The wounded man ran 
towards his ranche, but fell before he had reached the 

I immediately caused Green to be arrested ; though 
I found that during my visit to the ranch, he had 
been to my tent to confess the deed. He came for- 


ward at once, and related the facts as previously stated 
to me. My intention was now to keep a guard over 
the prisoner, and deliver him to the authorities on our 
arrival at San Antonio ; for which purpose he was 
placed in a tent, with two men to guard him. 

I stated to the family that the prisoner should be 
delivered to the authorities for trial, which in a mea- 
sure pacified them. But for this, an attempt would 
doubtless have been made to take his life, word 
having been sent to the neighboring ranches of the 
occurrence. The man, I told them, was not a mem- 
ber of the Commission, but a Texan teamster, hired at 
Indianola. Afterwards, learning the poverty of the 
family, that the deceased was its main stay, and that 
the expense of the funeral would be great, I gave the 
father one hundred dollars. 

During the evening, before the guards had been 
posted, and while our people were moving to and 
fro, the prisoner raised the back of the tent, unseen 
by the guard and others who were sitting near the 
entrance, crept to the outer lines of the camp, leaped 
on a horse which was staked near, and escaped under 
cover of the darkness. No more was heard of either 
horse or rider, though it was believed that some of 
the friends of the teamster had aided him in making 
his escape. 

September 26th. Our march to-day brought us to 
the Cibolo (corrupted by the Texans into Sea- Wil- 
low) River, where we encamped. 

/September 2*1 th. Took an early start, and reached 
the city of San Antonio at two o'clock, distant 
twenty-one miles. Having much to attend to in 


completing the outfit of the party, I took up my 
quarters at the Verandah Hotel, while the rest of the 
Commission encamped on the banks of the river, about 
four miles from the city. Colonel Craig, with the 
escort, had not been with us on the march from Indi- 
anola. As no protection was yet required, he proceed- 
ed, immediately on landing at that place, to his camp 
near San Antonio, where his train was preparing for 

September 28th. Another sad event took place 
to-day. In making up the party for our journey to 
El Paso, it was necessary to procure teamsters in Texas, 
no men having been engaged at the north for such 
duty. When we started from Indianola, four or five- 
persons who had been engaged for other duties under- 
took to drive teams. All the others had to be pro- 
cured there or at Victoria ; and the quartermaster was 
obliged to take such men as he could find, giving in 
all cases the preference to such as had been in the 
government employ, or who could bring good re- 
commendation. But with all his care, several despe- 
rate characters were engaged. One of these, named 
Turner, had had a quarrel with Mr. Tennant, the 
butcher in the employ of the Commission, a very 
worthy man who had accompanied us from Washing- 
ton. In the camp to-day they were seen having high 
words. Turner, it appears, had endeavored on sev- 
eral occasions to get the former into a fight without 
success. To-day Tennant was heard to say that he 
had no fears of Turner, if he would lay aside his knife 
and other weapons, and fight him fairly ; at the same 
time drawing a small knife from its sheath and throw- 


ing it from him. No sooner was this done, than 
Turner drew his long bowie-knife and rushed upon him, 
plunging it into the side of Tennant, and causing his 
death in half an hour. The murderer sheathed his 
knife, and hastened to a horse which stood near. In 
another moment he was mounted, and, riding at full 
speed, he disappeared in the thick chapporal, or thorny 
bushes, near the camp. 

This transaction took place in the very midst of 
the camp ; but as broils and altercations were not 
uncommon among the teamsters, and as no one antici- 
pated what was to follow, Tennant being a very ath- 
letic man, they did not interfere. In fact, from the 
statements made to me, the affair was so sudden that it 
scarcely admitted of any interference. But the blow 
of the murderer, and his subsequent escape, were wit- 
nessed by many. The whole camp was immediately 
in motion ; horses were saddled, and several started 
in pursuit. The chapporal was high and thick ; yet the 
pursuers, regardless of the difficulty and danger of rid- 
ing through its thorny recesses, dashed on, and soon 
caught sight of the object of their pursuit. In a 
short time the two foremost of the party, Mr. Robert 
E. Matthews, and Mr. J. E. Weems, assistants in the 
engineer corps, succeeded in overtaking Turner, when, 
presenting their pistols, they compelled him to sur- 
render. Having been disarmed, and others of the pur- 
suers coming up, the prisoner was carried in safety to 
the camp. Great credit is due to Messrs. Matthews 
and Weems for their activity and courage in captur- 
ing this desperate man. 

A detachment from the engineer corps brought 


their prisoner to me at San Antonio, and I immediately 
placed him in the hands of the sheriff of the county. 
Soon after, I saw him lodged in jail and handcuffed. 

Although this affair did not attract much public 
attention, such things being of frequent occurrence at 
the time, yet, among the class to which the murderer 
belonged, there was much excitement, and threats were 
heard that an attempt might be made during the night to 
effect his release. The prison being an adobe building 
and quite insecure, I deemed it my duty to detail a guard 
of six men from the Commission to the jail for the night. 

The following day an examination took place before 
the mayor, the Hon. J. M. Devine. Many witnesses 
were examined ; and the result was the committal of 
the prisoner, to take his trial for murder. I learnt 
some months after that he was found guilty, and sen- 
tenced to fifteen years imprisonment. He remained in 
prison about two years ; but on my return from the 
survey, I heard that he had made his escape. 

Murders were common in Texas about the time of 
my visit in 1850 ; and it had been too often the case 
that the guilty escaped justice. At this time the laws 
were better executed ; and now (1853) there is as much 
security for life and property as in the older States of 
the Union. Frontier States often contain a bad popula- 
tion, at least such is the case in their early history. At 
the time of the annexation of Texas, large numbers of 
vicious and worthless men, some of whom had commit- 
ted crimes and eluded the hands of justice, had sought 
a home here, where law and order had not then 
been firmly established : life and property were little 
regarded by them. But since the laws have come to be 


more rigidly enforced, these desperadoes have found it 
necessary either to adopt more honest modes of living, 
or to take refuge on the very borders of Texas and New 
Mexico, where they can pursue their old courses with 
impunity, by crossing over when necessary into Mexico. 

My servant who was taken ill on the march up, 
here died of fever : several others were attacked, but 
soon recovered. 

As San Antonio was the last place at which sup- 
plies could be procured, and the train fitted out for the 
long march of nearly 700 miles, it was necessary to 
make it as complete as possible. We yet required a large 
number of mules and many wagons to transport the 
public stores, which had been sent forward in hired 
wagons. The quartermaster therefore found it necessary 
to increase the train to about 56 teams, which included 
sixteen Mexican carts, the latter drawn by three yoke 
of oxen each : some of the wagons, too, were of the 
largest description, and drawn by ten mules or five 
yoke of oxen. These, with some additional riding ani- 
mals, and their equipments of saddles, bridles, etc., com- 
pleted the means of transportation for the Commission 
and its stores. 

We also procured here about a hundred head of 
beef cattle, to be driven with the train, and used on 
the march. The draught oxen I also intended to fat- 
ten after our arrival in the field of operations, for a 
future supply of beef ; so that we were pretty well pro- 
vided in this department of our subsistence. A few 
barrels of pork and some small stores were also added 
to our stock here : some additional arms, ammunition, 
tents, and camp equipage, finished our outfit. 


From the lateness of the season there was an uncer- 
tainty about grass ; furthermore, by the recent arrivals 
from El Paso, I learned that the prairies had been 
burned by the Indians a considerable portion of the 
way, and that it would be absolutely necessary to trans- 
port a considerable quantity of corn to keep the ani- 
mals in good trim, and enable them to cross the desert 
portions of the route. The quartermaster, therefore, 
sent in advance to the military post on the Leona, 90 
miles distant, several wagon-loads of corn, and made 
arrangements to carry as much in the train as pos- 
sible, without overburdening it. In these various pre- 
parations, and the shoeing of the additional animals, 
about two weeks were spent. During this time the 
party remained encamped at the San Pedro Springs, 
about a mile and a half from the town. These springs, 
of which there are several, gush out of crevices in the 
limestone rock ; and their united waters form a small 
river, which runs through the town, and unites with the 
San Antonio three or four miles below it. 

The view of San Antonio from a distance, as it is 
approached by the Victoria road, is exceedingly beau- 
tiful. The place seems to be embowered in trees, 
above which the dome of the church swells with an 
air quite Oriental. But this pleasing impression is 
soon dissipated on entering the town, and making 
one's way among the filthy. buildings of the Mexican 
suburbs to the plaza, or public square. The town is a 
strange mixture of massive old Spanish buildings and 
recent American structures. But upon the plaza the 
modern buildings have for the most part superseded 
the ancient; though some few remain, seeming lost 


and out of place in the company of their smart-looking 
neighbors. The old church still occupies its promi- 
nent position in the plaza. This is a building charac- 
terized rather by solidity than beauty, and has as 
much the appearance of a citadel as of a church. In- 
deed, during one of the battles of the war of Texan 
independence, it was occupied by the Mexican troops, 
and its tower still bears the scars made by the cannon 
balls of the besiegers. 

San Antonio is delightfully situated. The rivers 
San Antonio and San Pedro run through the place. 
The latter is a small stream, and with us would hardly 
be dignified with the title of river. The San Anto- 
nio is much the larger of the two. It rises about 
three miles from the town, from a number of large 
springs, flowing, like those forming the San Pedro, 
from the solid rock. The largest of these is worth a 
visit. The water rises in a cavity some six or eight 
feet in diameter and twelve or fifteen feet deep, and 
rushes out in an immense volume. The water of these 
springs unite with Olmos Creek, forming a river, which, 
in its course towards the sea, receives the Medina, 
Salado, Cibolo, and other tributaries, and finally, 
uniting with the Guadalupe, empties into Espiritu 
Santo Bay. The San Antonio is capable of affording 
immense water power. At present, in its course 
through the town, it turns but one wheel, and that 
simply by the flow of the current. 

San Antonio contains about 6000 inhabitants, of 
which number it is estimated two thirds are Mex- 
icans, Germans, and French. Yet, notwithstanding 
this preponderance of other nations, the town is es- 


sentially American in its character. Mexican indo- 
lence cannot stand by the side of the energy and 
industry of the Americans and Europeans ; and the new 
comers are rapidly elbowing the old settlers to one 
side. Some few of the Mexicans have the good sense 
to fall in with the spirit of progress ; but the great 
majority draw back before it, and live upon the out- 
skirts of the town in the primitive style of their fore- 

Situated in the centre of a rich agricultural region, 

San Antonio is destined to be a place of much impor- 
tance. The necessity of a railroad communication 
with the coast is severely felt, and energetic move- 
ments are making to establish it. At present the sup- 
plies of merchandise are brought from the coast by 
the slow medium of ox carts. These are driven by 
Mexicans, and in a favorable condition of the roads 
make the trip in six days. The business of freighting 
almost entirely supports the Mexican population of 
the city and its vicinity. The American people are 
too much imbued with the spirit of progress to 
engage in any business that partakes of the past. The 
idea of carrying on commerce with ox carts, and 
making 130 miles in six days, over an excellent road, 
might do for the past century, not for this steam and 
lightning age. « 

Large trains frequently leave here for El Paso, 
Eagle Pass, and other points on the Mexican frontier, 
and often penetrate to Chihuahua, Parras, and other 
Mexican cities. Those engaged in the Mexican trade 
are beginning to see the advantages the route through 
Texas possesses over the long one from Missouri, by 


way of Santa Fe ; and doubtless ere long all merchan- 
dise for the northern part of Mexico will pass this 

One of the principal objects of interest to the 
stranger in San Antonio is the Alamo, memorable for 
its brave defence by Travis, Crockett, Bowie, and 
others, who only gave up the contest with their lives. 
The building was originally a mission. It is now 
occupied as a storehouse by the United States Quarter- 
master's Department, and retains but little of its former 
appearance. The principal doorway, ornamented in 
the Moorish style, remains tolerably perfect. 

We saw in the County Clerk's office a large col- 
lection of old Spanish documents, which have been 
accumulating ever since the first settlement of the town. 
Doubtless their careful perusal by some persevering 
antiquary would develope many interesting facts con- 
nected with the early history of the country. It is to 
be hoped, that measures will ere long be taken by the 
enterprising State to which they relate to rescue them 
from oblivion and decay, and cause them to be collated 
and given to the world. The Northern States have 
spent immense sums in sending agents to England, 
France, and Holland, to procure similar papers from 
the State archives to illustrate their Colonial history. 
Texas possesses in her own record offices voluminous 
documents of equal value, in which the scholar and 
historian of every State feels an interest second only 
to that of her own people. 

Near the town and upon the banks of the San An- 
tonio River are the remains of extensive mission esta- 
blishments. We found time to pay a short visit to. 



those of San Jose, San Juan, and Concepcion. There 
is another, La Espeda, which we did not visit. 

A ride of about five miles through a mezquit 
country brought us to the mission of San Jose, situated 
upon the right bank of the river. This was the largest 
and wealthiest mission; and its buildings were con- 
structed with greater display of art, and still remain in 
better preservation, than the others. Entering the in- 

Mission of San Jose, Texas. 

.closure formed by the granary and other out-buildings, 
we alighted in front of the main edifice or church. 
This is constructed of stone, and plastered. The princi- 
pal doorway is surrounded by elaborate carving, which 
extends the whole length of the front, and includes 
numerous figures, among which San Jose, the patron of 


the church, and the Virgin and Child are conspicuous. 
The material of this work has the appearance of stone ; 
but we found on examination that it was a hard kind 
of stucco. The action of the weather has done much 
to destroy the figures ; and the work of ruin has been 
assisted by the numerous military companies near here, 
who, finding in the hands and features of the statues 
convenient marks for rifle and pistol shots, did not fail 
to improve the opportunity for showing at the same 
time their skill in arms and their contempt for the 
Mexican belief. That portion of the front of the church 
not covered with carving, was ornamented with a sort 
of stencilling in colors, chiefly red and blue. But few 
traces of this have withstood the rain. The most per- 
fect portion of the church is an oval window in the 
sacristy, which is surrounded with scrolls and wreath- 
work of exceeding grace and beauty. 

The interior presents but little of interest. The 
dampness has destroyed the frescoes upon the walls, 
and the altar has been stripped of its decorations. It 
is now seldom used for religious purposes ; as the Mexi- 
cans of the neighborhood are poor, and cannot often 
afford the fifty dollars charged by the San Antonio 
priests for officiating. 

The convent in the rear of the church, as that por- 
tion of the building occupied by the fathers is called, 
remains in tolerable preservation, and is at present 
inhabited by an American who cultivates the adjoining 
lands. A fine view of the surrounding country may 
be had by ascending the tower, which is accomplished 
in part by means of a spiral staircase, and in part by 
a rude ladder, consisting of a stick of timber with 



notches cut in its sides. The plan of the building evi- 
dently included two towers ; but only one of them was 
ever completed. 

About two miles below San Jose, and upon the 
opposite side of the river, are the ruins of San Juan. 
This was never a building of much pretensions, and is 
in a more ruinous state than San Jose. The interior 
shows the remains of some exceedingly rude paintings ; 
and we noticed that the earthen floor was broken up in 
several places where graves had recently been made. 

It was late when we reached Concepcion, which is 

Mission of Concepcion, Texas. 

nearer the town than either of the other missions. The 
two towers and dome of the church make quite an 
imposing appearance when seen from a distance ; but 


on approaching it, we found it not only desolated but 
desecrated ; the church portion being used as an in- 
closure for cattle, the filth from which covered the floor 
to the depth of a foot or more. Myriads of bats flitted 
about, which chattered and screamed at our invasion 
of their territory ; and we found nothing of interest 
within the church to repay us for encountering their 
disagreeable presence. 




Advanced party formed for the journey to El Paso — Arms and equipments 
— Mode of travel — General order — Storm on the Prairie — Guadalupe 
river — Refinement among the German settlers on its banks — Terraced 
hills of Texas — Mormons in the valley of the Piedernales — Fredericks- 

The long though necessary delay in getting the train 
ready to move, and the slowness with which it would 
probably proceed, convinced me that it would not be 
possible for it to reach El Paso on the first Monday of 
November, the 4th of the month, the day fixed upon 
for the meeting of the Joint Commission. After 
advising with General Brooke, Colonel Johnston, and 
others, as to the practicability and safety of my pro- 
ceeding in advance with a small party, I came to the 
determination to do so, and announced my intention 
to the members of the Commission, requesting to be 
notified of such as would volunteer to accompany me. 
The whole would willingly have gone, although the 
proposed journey would be attended with severer 
duties and considerable danger, as we should not have 
the advantage of a military escort, which must remain 
with the main body of the Commission and its stores. 



I selected the following gentlemen for the advance 

Thomas H. Webb, 
Robert C. Murphy, 
George Thurber, 
Theodore F. Moss, 
John C. Cremony, 
Edward C. Clark, 

Sec. to the Joint Commission. 

Asst. Secretary and Clerk. 

Botanist and Commissary. 




Robert E. Matthews, Assistants in the Engineer and 

John B. Stewart, " Surveying Corps. 

Thomas Thompson, 

S. P. Sandford, 

J. Thomas McDuffie, 

Thomas Dunn, 

George G. Garner, 

J. E. Weems, Jr., 

Clement Young, 

C. Neville Simms, 

George S. Peirce, 

A. P. Wilbar, 
R. B. Smith, Mason • G. W. Miller, Blacksmith • Wm. 
Garratt, Harness-maker • William Ferguson, Carpen- 
ter • Thomas Briggs, Tailor. These with cooks, serv- 
ants, hunters, and teamsters, making altogether thirty 
persons, constituted the party. 

The main body of the Commission, which did not 
leave until several days later, intended taking the 
Southern route, which had been more travelled and 
was better known than the Northern one, by the way 
of Fredericksburg. But with the advice of those who 
had lately come over the Northern route, I determined 
to take that. The distance was said to be about thirty 


miles less, and there was a prospect of finding better 

October 10th. Although orders had been given to 
have every thing in readiness to start early this morn- 
ing, on going out to the camp on the San Pedro, I 
found the train was not ready. Being determined to 
move if I did not get a mile, and the wagons having at 
last been geared up, we took leave of our friends at 
4 o'clock in the afternoon, and reached a pool of water 
four and half miles distant just before dark. 

My train now consisted of six wagons, each drawn by 
five mules, and my carriage by four : the latter was what 
is called in New York a Rockaway. It was a large 
vehicle with close sides and windows, and so arranged 
that it could in a few minutes be turned into an excel- 
lent sleeping 'place ; it was so occupied by me during the 
whole journey to El Paso. It might also with propriety 
be termed an armory, and did receive that appellation 
from the number of fire-arms contained in it. First, 
there was suspended at the top a double barrelled-gun, 
while to one of the uprights was affixed my rifle, one 
of Sharp's repeaters ; a heavy revolver, one of Colt's 
six-shooters, was strapped to each door; and Dr. Webb 
(who rode with me) and I were both provided with a 
pair of Colt's five shooters. My carriage driver carried 
a pair of Deringer pistols. We were thus enabled, in 
case of necessity, to discharge a round of thirty-seven 
shots without reloading ; besides which, Sharp's rifle 
could be fired at least six times in a minute. I also car- 
ried a spy -glass, barometer, lantern, and a variety of 
tools and other articles which we had constant occasion 
for on the road. The rest of the party were mounted 


on horses or mules, and I occasionally resorted to a 
mule by way of variety ; for it is a dull mode of tra-. 
veiling to be dragged slowly along for eight or ten 
hours a day cramped up in a carriage. I also made it 
a point to walk a few miles every day on starting, which 
practice was followed by others. 

Every man in my party was well armed, the officers 
with Colt's revolvers and a rifle ; the mechanics, la- 
borers, cooks, and servants, with rifles, and the team- 
sters with pistols or rifles. 

We seldom moved at a faster gait than a walk ; as 1 
did not wish to run the risk of fatiguing the mules or 
breaking them down, while the feed was scanty, and 
there were no means of making good any losses of ani- 
mals. By setting out at 7 o'clock, which was as early 
as we could get off on an average, we could make about 
twenty miles by two o'clock, which gave the animals time 
to graze before night, when it was necessary to bring 
them all in. An earlier start might have been made, 
but the animals had to be fed first ; and when there was 
good grazing, they were turned out at daylight for the 

On leaving camp, one half the horsemen took the 
lead as an escort ; for the timid mules are always reluc- 
tant to lead off, and do much better when a horse is in 
advance. I followed with my carriage, when not 
mounted on my mule ; the train.of wagons came next, 
with a few horsemen alongside ; and the cooks, servants, 
etc., brought up the rear. 

On reaching a camping ground, we formed what is 
called on the prairies, and by all overland travellers, 
a corral, or inclosure, to serve as a protection for men 


and animals. When there is a good number of wagons 
in a train, a very large inclosure may be formed, suffi- 
cient to contain the tents and all the animals ; but my 
small train of seven vehicles was too limited for that : 
the wagons were therefore arranged in a semicircle, and 
the tents pitched along the base. After the animals had 
been " corralled" a stout rope was drawn across in 
rear of the tents, to prevent their escaping should any 
get loose. When the ground would admit of a large 
corral, the animals were staked inside, but they were 
generally made fast by halters, or lariats, to the pole 
of the wagons for the night ; and in this position, corn 
was fed to them when we had it. The following order 
was issued on leaving San Antonio : 

" General Order for the government of the Advance Party 

of the U. S. Mexican Boundary Commission, on its 

march from San Antonio to El Paso del Norte. 

"As this portion of the Commission is entering a 
country inhabited by warlike tribes of Indians, where 
no resources can be had beyond what the prairies sup- 
ply, it is absolutely necessary that a rigid observance 
be kept of the following order : 

" The same organization of the cavalry company 
formed at Indianola, will be continued to El Paso. 

" Mr. Geo. S. Peirce, commanding the cavalry, will 
act as master of the camp, detailing for the guard what- 
ever force may be deemed necessary for the safety of 
the train. 

"Every member of the Commission, the teamsters 
and cooks excepted, is expected to do guard duty. 

" The train and escort will keep as close together 


as possible ; and after leaving Fredericksburg, no one 
will be permitted to leave the train beyond a short 

" Mr. Cremony will take charge of the ammunition, 
inspect the arms, and report in what manner every man 
is armed. Economy must be used in the ammunition, 
as the quantity in the train is limited. 

" As there is one Jornada of seventy miles without 
water, and we may suffer inconvenience elsewhere, 
every man who has not already provided himself with 
a canteen or gourd, will do so before leaving Frede- 

" In case of any difficulty or accident to the wagons, 
it is expected that every one will lend all the aid in his 
power to remove it, and hasten the movement of the 

" Mr. E. C. Clark, the acting quartermaster, will 
arrange the encampments and direct the distribution of 
the forage. It is absolutely necessary that there 
should be an equal distribution of corn, and no one 
will be permitted to take more than is assigned or 
delivered to him. On this depends the safety of our 
animals, and consequently our own. A limited quan- 
tity of corn can only be taken, and great economy must 
be used in its distribution. 

" On coming into camp, holes must be dug for the 
fires, which must, when the ground permits, be placed 
in hollows, or beneath a hill, in order to conceal the 
encampment as much as possible. 



In Camp, near San Antonio, October 11, 1853. 



The weather on the first evening was so warm and 
pleasant, that the young men did not pitch their tents, 
but bivouacked for the night. One was afterwards set 
up for the botanist and geologist, who had some labor 
to perform. About midnight, one of those sudden 
storms arose, which are so common in this region : the 
rain fell in torrents, the wind blew with violence, the 
thunder re-echoed from the hills, and the vivid lightning 
showed our tentless party in a very sorry plight. A 
few sought shelter in the only tent that was pitched ; 
but scarcely had they got ensconced within, when a 
stronger gust than usual drew the pins from their 
fastenings and laid the tent flat upon the ground. As 
there was no other shelter near, they had no alternative 
but to lie soaking in their wet blankets till morning. 
I feared that this rude exposure at the outset would 
be attended with unpleasant consequences; but all 
were up early and rea,dy for the march in the morning. 

October \lth. Deferred starting until 9 o'clock, in 
order to give the party time to dry their clothing. 
The road was exceedingly heavy in consequence of 
the rain, which kept falling at intervals during the 
morning. The country, since we left San Antonio, 
consists of low hills, with broad intervening valleys, 
and is covered with rich mezquit grass. Clusters of 
live oak abound in the valleys, while the hills are 
comparatively bare of trees. Left the road with my 
mule and ascended a high conical hill on the left, from 
which I had a fine view of the surrounding landscape. 
Limestone seems to prevail here, and much of it crops 
out of the ground on which the road passes, making it, 
exceedingly rough for the wagons. A very little labor 


would make the road a good one ; but most of the 
roads in Texas are so good naturally, that the idea of 
improving such portions as really need it, seems never 
to have been entertained. Reached a well known 
watering place called the Comanche Spring, over 
which a stone building has lately been erected. Several 
German families reside here, who have brought their 
lands into a fine state of cultivation. 

October 12th. Morning quite foggy. The roads very 
heavy and stony, and the country of the same character 
as that passed over yesterday. Open grassy plains 
occur at intervals, with clumps of live-oak, giving a 
cheerful and picturesque appearance to the landscape. 
Passed the dry bed of a stream, in following which we 
spent an hour waiting for the train to come up. Mr. 
Thurber collected some specimens of plants, among 
them several species of Euphorbia. First noticed the 
Sycamore to-day. The prevailing timber continues to 
be live-oak. Reached Sabine Creek at 3 o'clock, p. m., 
where we encamped after a very hard day's march, our 
mules showing much fatigue. The margins of the creek 
bore cypress trees of large size, and great beauty of 
foliage. This is the last place at which we saw the 
palmetto. The bright flowers of the Lobelia cardinalis 
were abundant. 

October lWi. An express from Quarter-master Myer 
arrived at midnight, informing me that in consequence 
of a further call upon him for horses for the party, and 
to meet other demands, he should require more funds. 
The messenger waited till after breakfast, when he was 
dispatched to the quarter-master with the requisite 


Crossed Sabine Creek, and found both the descent 
and ascent very bad. The banks being high, we had 
to follow the bed of the stream over huge rocks, which 
I feared would disable our wagons. But by dint of 
pushing and lifting, and hitching horses ahead of the 
mules, we succeeded in getting across and on the 
opposite bank without accident. Bits of rolling prairie, 
covered with luxuriant grass, with here and there a 
clump of live-oaks, continued as before. Limestone 
frequently appears above the surface. On reaching 
the Guadalupe River, we stopped at the log houses of a 
small German colony. Among these, I was not a little 
surprised to find one occupied by a gentleman of 
learning and taste, with a choice library of scientific 
books around him. In chemistry and mineralogy, his 
collection was particularly rich ; and even in other 
departments of natural science, as well as in history, 
voyages, and travels, it would have been a very 
respectable one in our large cities, where books are 
easily procured. Some good pictures, including co- 
pies from Murillo, evinced his taste in the fine arts. 
There was no floor or glass windows to this humble 
dwelling, and as much daylight seemed to come through 
the openings in the logs as through the windows. A 
plank table, chairs covered with deer skin, and a rude 
platform, on which was spread a bed filled with corn 
husks, but destitute of bed-clothes, constituted the 
furniture. The walls were covered with books, except 
one spot, where were arranged twelve rifles and fowling 
pieces of various kinds, with other paraphernalia of a 
genuine sportsman; while here and there, jutting out 
from a projecting corner or log, were sundry antlers, 


evidence of the skill of the occupant. For want of 
closets and drawers, these antlers served to hang his 
clothes on. 

On entering this primitive dwelling, we found its 
owner, Mr. Berne, busily engaged upon his meteoro- 
logical table. He received us with kindness and 
suavity of manner ; and we found him, as well as several 
others of his countrymen who had entered, communi- 
cative and intelligent. They had been here two years, 
and formed part of a large colony of Germans, who had 
settled in the vicinity. By invitation, we called at an 
adjoining house, equally primitive with that before 
described.. On the rude walls hung some beautiful 
pictures, while other articles of taste, and a cabinet of 
minerals, had their appropriate places. Here, too, was 
a fine harpsichord, from which we were treated to 
selections from the most popular composers, played 
with an expression and feeling which indicated a 
master's hand. In the yard were some fine merino 
sheep ; and while we were listening to the conversation 
of our friends, a tame peccari thrust his long nose 
against me to receive my caresses, much as a faithful 
dog would. But the propensities of the swinish family, 
to which the peccari is closely allied, were so strongly 
exhibited in this specimen, that I could only gratify 
his affection for me by rubbing his back with a stick, 
which seemed to afford him all the pleasure he desired. 
It is pleasant to meet such emigrants as these Germans, 
who bring with them the tastes of their father-land, and 
the means of further cultivating them. They bring 
cheerfulness and contentment with them, and impart to 
the pioneer population by which they are surrounded 


that love for refined enjoyments in which it is so often 

Fording the Guadalupe River, which is here about 
eighty feet wide and beautifully transparent, we came 
to a more open country, though with patches more 
closely wooded than any yet observed. The prospect 
on every side was broad ; the land appeared rich, and 
presented the traces of long cultivation. Passed 
several fenced inclosures, the first we had seen since 
leaving San Antonio. 

A species of grape (probably Yitis aestivalis) was 
abundant in the bottoms of the rivers ; and at the 
crossing of the Guadalupe we found the vines in great 
profusion, climbing into the tops of lofty trees, and 
filled with fruit, of which some of our young men 
gathered great quantities, and which proved very 

Stopped at the house of Dr. Ernst Kapp, Professor, 
as indicated by his card. There was here the appear- 
ance of comfort and taste, though the house was of logs. 
I was introduced to his wife and daughter, who both 
appeared to be intelligent, and several bright-looking 
children. Waited here a couple of hours for a supply 
of corn, and then drove to a watering place seven 
miles further, where we encamped for the night. 

October lkth. Soon after starting this morning, we 
ascended an elevated hill, the highest yet met with in 
the country. The road had followed up a rich and 
narrow valley, studded at intervals witli oaks, and 
covered with luxuriant grass, when at length it wound 
around the base of the hill, and by a zig-zag course led 
to a point near its summit. Here I left the road and 


walked to the hill-top on the right. It had a conical 
shape, with a level surface, scantily covered with low 
shrubbery, and was about half an acre in size. A 
magnificent prospect here opened to the sight, surpass- 
ing in extent any thing we had seen in Texas. To 
the south, the view extended at least forty miles, losing 
itself in the distant hills, which were scarcely distin- 
guishable from the pale blue sky of the horizon. On 
the east and west were elevated points, inclosing the 
valley through which we had for miles been winding 
our way. The hills around us presented a singular 
appearance, owing to their terraced sides. These 
^terraces are formed by layers or strata of limestone, 
which jut out from the sides of the hills, the rains 
having washed away the soil. This was characteristic, 
more or less, of all the hills then in sight, though we 
afterwards met more striking ones as we journeyed 
westward. This peculiarity of the hills, from the plateau 
of Texas to the Missouri, has been noticed by other 
travellers, and is represented in many of the scenes 
given by Mr. Catlin in his work on the Indians. On 
the north side, whither we were directing our march, 
lay a broad and deep valley, exhibiting, even from the 
distance, a fertility of soil such as we had not before 
seen. This valley, as far as I could judge, appeared 
to be about twenty miles in length ; though I think it 
extended further, its termination being concealed from 
view by the projecting spurs of the mountains. The 
whole was clad in foliage of deep green, so that it 
appeared like a dense ^wood. As we approached, we 
found ourselves in an open forest of live-oaks, without 
any under-growth of shrubs. The grass was nearly 


three feet high, and its strength showed the richness 
of the soil. After riding several miles through this 
beautiful valley, we forded the river Piedernales, there 
about one hundred feet in width, and entered the 
village which glories in the name of Zodiac, a Mormon 
colony of one hundred and fifty persons, under the 
especial care of Elder Wight, as designated by the 
faithful, though among worldly sinners he bore the 
appellation of " Colonel." 

Sending the train forward by a more direct road, 
I drove, with twelve of my party, to the house of the 
Mormon leader. To a request that dinner might be 
served to us, if it was his custom to entertain travel- 
lers, he readily expressed assent, and ordered the 
meal to be prepared. 

Every where around us in this Zodiacal settlement, 
we saw abundant signs of prosperity. Whatever may 
be their theological errors, in secular matters they 
present an example of industry and thrift which the 
people of the State might advantageously imitate. 
They have a tract of land, which they have improved 
for about three years, and which has yielded profitable 
crops. The well built houses, perfect fences, and tidy 
door-yards, gave the place a home-like air, such as we 
had not before seen in Texas. The dinner was a regu- 
lar old-fashioned New England farmer's meal, com- 
prising an abundance of every thing, served with 
faultless neatness. The entire charge here for a din- 
ner for twelve persons, and corn for as many animals, 
was three dollars — a modest demand, which strikingly 
contrasted with the Astor House prices of a Mr. Mc- 
Grew, and some others, between Indianola and Victoria. 


The Colonel said he was the first settler in the 
valley of the Piedernales, and for many miles around. 
In his colony were people of all trades. He told me 
that his crop of corn this year would amount to seven 
thousand bushels, for which he expected to realize 
one dollar and twenty-five cents per bushel. Finding 
that I had not the means to transport the corn I 
should absolutely require for my journey, I struck a 
bargain with Colonel Wight for another team, con- 
sisting of a wagon and four mules, which he agreed to 
deliver to me at Fredericksburg. 

* Taking leave of our Mormon friends, we rode on 
two miles, to an encampment of Delaware Indians. 
Stopped to see a chief, whom I was advised to employ 
to accompany us to El Paso, where he had been with 
other parties, and who, from his acquaintance and 
influence with the Indian tribes on our route, might 
be of great service. Unfortunately he was absent, 
and not expected to return for a week. This people 
did not present a flattering appearance, and seemed to 
have few more comforts than the wild and unsubdued 
tribes we afterwards met. A mile further brought us 
to the United. States military post, called Fort Martin 
Scott, under the command of Colonel Stannaford. 
This was the most extreme post on the frontier. We 
were kindly received by the officers here, and fur- 
nished by the acting commissary, Lieutenant Blake, 
with such provisions as we stood in need of. After 
an hour's delay, we rode on, about two miles further, 
to Fredricksburg, and pitched our tents on an open 
spot in the centre of the village. 

This is a flourishing German settlement, founded 


about three years before our visit, or in 1847, and has 
a population of about five hundred souls. There were 
but few Americans to be seen. The stores were filled 
with goods adapted to the Indian trade, as the place 
is on the very borders of civilization, and resorted to 
by numbers of the Indian tribes contiguous. 




Projected route through the wilderness — Setting out — Uninviting ap- 
pearance of the country — Precarious condition of German settlements 
on the Llano River — Leave the Emigrants' Eoad — Crossing of the San 
Saha — Community of prairie dogs — Kickapoo Creek — Hints to future 
travellers — The Mezquit — Visit of Lipan Chiefs — Indian dexterity in 
mule catching — Regain the Emigrant Road at Concho River — Horse 
wounded by a rattlesnake — Character of country and vegetation — 
Mustang roads — Scarcity of water — Prairie on fire — Deceptive maps — 
Castle Mountains — Stray cattle captured — Pecos River — Chapporal — 
" Indian sign." 

September 15th. Remained at Fredericksburg to- 
day to procure our supply of corn, and made the 
acquaintance of many of the citizens, among them 
Captain J. L. Ankrim, since appointed Judge of El 
Paso district. I was exceedingly anxious that Judge 
Ankrim should accompany us to El Paso. He had 
been on the road several times, and directed its con- 
struction ; moreover, his intimate acquaintance with 
the country and knowledge of the Indian character 
were such, that I believed he might be of essential 
service. But his engagements were of such a nature 
as not to permit his leaving at the time. I felt much 
disappointed, and a heavy responsibility resting on 
me, in having to conduct such a party across a country 


but little known, a distance of more than six hundred 
miles. Not one of us had any experience in crossing 
the prairies beyond what had been gained in coming 
up from the coast. None had ever encountered any 
hostile Indians, or suffered the hardships which inevi- 
tably attend a journey in the wilderness like that before 
us. I endeavored to procure a guide in San Antonio, 
but was unsuccessful, and, in the last emergency, took 
a man who had driven a team some months previous 
in a train which came to this place from El Paso. 
Judge Ankrim gave me much information about the 
route we proposed taking, and advised me to leave 
the Emigrants' Road, which passes by the old fort on 
the San Saba, and take a more northerly course. He 
said there had been no rain for several months, so 
that the small streams might be dry, and the grass 
poor ; and that to cross the tributaries of the Colo- 
rado nearer their union with that stream would insure 
a greater probability of finding water and grass. 
There was no road or trail along the route he recom- 
mended, until we should strike the Concho ; but he 
marked the courses down on my travelling map, so 
that I anticipated no great difficulty in finding my way. 
We were to continue on the Emigrants' Road for seve- 
ral days, until we crossed the Llano River. About 
two and a half miles from this stream the Judge said 
we would see a mezquit tree close by the road, on 
the right, and a broken limb of another tree sus- 
pended from one of its branches. At this tree we 
must leave the road, which has a westerly direction, 
and strike off to the northwest ; soon after which we 
would cross the San Saba River. Continuing this 


course, we would then meet the south branch of 
Brady's Creek, and next the north branch of the 
same. The latter we must follow to its source, which 
lay in a westerly direction. Here we should find 
some small pools or springs. From this point we 
were to take a course due west, crossing many streams, 
which are laid down on the maps, until we discovered 
two conical hills or mounds. Between these we 
must pass, when we should see the Concho River 
about seven miles distant. Striking that at the nearest 
point, we would find the Emigrants 1 Road once more, 
which we had only to follow to its termination on the 
Rio Grande. 

October lQtJi. As the corn contracted for was not 
delivered until late, the train did not get off before 
twelve o'clock. The first watering place was seven 
miles distant, beyond which I was advised not to go, 
as it was then late, and it was a good day's journey 
from that to Hickory Creek. The road was much 
better than it had been beyond Fredericksburg ; the 
country was covered with grass, and wooded, as it had 
been since we passed the Guadalupe. 

October 1*1 th. Left at 7 o'clock, and a few hours 
after came to an old Indian encampment. The coun- 
try now assumed a different aspect : ledges of granite 
and fragments of quartz appeared, and the entire sur- 
face was much broken ; the oaks were fewer and of less 
size ; mezquit trees were scattered among them, with 
here and there a cactus. It was, on the whole, the 
most interesting country we had seen since leaving San 
Antonio. A reddish sandstone appeared in some 
places, the debris of which imparted its own hue to the 


soil. Weather oppressively hot, the thermometer at 
90° Fahrenheit. Rode eighteen miles and encamped 
on Hickory Creek, a small stream at any time, but now 
dried up. On a closer search, a few water-pools were 
found, which were sufficient for our purpose. 

As according to our maps there was a German set- 
tlement on the Llano about fifteen miles from our road, 
I determined to send a party there to purchase a load 
of corn for our animals. Mr. Thurber and three others 
constituted this party. It was small to enter an Indian 
country ; but being without wagons or other property, 
save their animals, and moreover being well armed, 
there was no danger of an open attack by the Indians. 
A surprise was all they had to fear. 

October ISth. Left camp at 6 o'clock; Mr. Thurber 
and his party at the same time striking off on a trail 
which ran in a northeasterly direction. Thermometer 
stood at 60°, with the wind northeast. The country 
assumed a more agreeable aspect than yesterday. Live- 
oaks prevailed, with a few mezquit ; the former large 
and in thick groups. Passed several valleys more 
thickly wooded. Reached the Llano at 11 o'clock. 

Found two deserted houses, with out-buildings and 
inclosures. Were informed at Fredericksburg that 
the Comanches had attacked this place about six 
months before, killed one man, and driven away the 
rest : it has not since been occupied. I could conceive 
no reason why a few settlers should come so far into 
the midst of an Indian country, when land equally good 
and cheap might have been had near a settlement. The 
situation, it is true, is a very fine one, on the banks of 
a clear and beautiful river, with water power in abun- 


dance and timbered land. But all these, even if given 
to the occupant, are of little value when life and pro- 
perty are unsafe. A number of hogs were running 
about quite wild, of which a couple were killed, to add 
to our stock of fresh meat. 

The Llano is the finest stream we have yet met in 
Texas, the Guadalupe alone excepted. Where we forded 
it, it was two feet deep and one hundred and fifty in 
width. At a short distance was a rapid, with fall enough 
for mills. On the opposite bank we found the traces of a 
large Indian encampment, which, from appearances, 
must have been occupied a long time : it was probably 
the habitation of those who destroyed the settlement 
referred to. Left for Mr. Thurber and his party a note 
affixed to a pole, stating that we had passed on. After 
getting our teams up the opposite bank, which was very 
steep and rocky, and attended with considerable diffi- 
culty, we continued our march nine miles over a fine 
country to Comanche Creek, a small stream then nearly 
dry. Where we encamped, there was no running 
water ; the little that remained stood in pools among the 
rocks in the bed of the stream. It was, however, clear 
and very good. In one of these pools, not exceeding 
sixty feet in length and eighteen inches in depth, I saw 
a number of mullet from ten to fourteen inches long, and 
several gar-pike about two feet in length. There were 
no small fish in the pool, the gars having doubtless 
devoured them. Some of our men got into the water 
with bushes, drove the fish to one end of the pool, and 
caught some of the mullet, which proved to be good 
eating. The water line on the banks of this stream 
showed it to be some six feet below its ordinary height. 

VOL. I. — 5 


At sunset Mr. Thurber and his party rejoined us. 
He reported that he had visited the German settlements 
as instructed. The first one presented a scene of deso- 
lation seldom witnessed, owing to the predatory incur- 
sions of the Comanches, and was on the point of being 
abandoned. The other, called Zastel, contained twenty- 
six houses ; though but nine families remained, and 
the wives and children of most of these had been sent 
away to New Braunfels and other places. These peo- 
ple, living as they do upon the very outposts, are so 
completely at the mercy of the Indians, that it is doubt- 
ful if they succeed in braving it out. Their houses are 
very small, built of squared logs, and furnished with loop- 
holes for rifles. The land is poor ; and there seemed 
no attraction about the place, except the beautiful 
Llano, which is a most picturesque stream, now rushing 
in rapids over a rocky bed, and now spreading into 
broad and quiet lakes. 

On their way back the party met a band of Caddo 
Indians, a small but mischievous tribe, returning from 
a horse-stealing expedition. They spoke some English, 
and had a number of fine animals with them, which they 
said they had taken by way of reprisal from their ene- 
mies the Wacoes. But the knowing look which one of 
them put on when Mr. Thurber expressed a doubt of 
the story, and the fine condition of their horses showed 
pretty plainly that they had been among the settle- 

About midnight a party of Germans reached camp 
with about twenty bushels of corn, which proved a 
valuable accession to our stock, and made up what we 
had been feeding out. 


October 19th. All up before day ; dispatched break- 
fast, struck tents, and were off at 6 o'clock. The morn- 
ing was clear and cold, the mercury standing at 36° 
at sunrise. This low temperature affected us sensibly 
after the very hot weather we had had. The country 
was thinly wooded with live-oak. Passed a range of 
high hills, with two conical ones standing directly in 
our, path, between which we passed. Left my mule 
and walked to the summit, whence there was presented 
a fine view of the surrounding country, consisting of 
an alternation of hills and prairie, with scattering trees, 
chiefly mezquit. Leaving this valley we ascended to 
a plateau, the surface of which was quite level. We 
now looked anxiously for the mark, where Judge 
Ankrim directed us to leave the Emigrants' Road, and 
soon discovered a broken limb suspended from a tree, 
precisely as described to us. Here, with some reluc- 
tance and not a little uneasiness, I left the beaten road 
and struck off into a broad and open prairie in a north- 
westerly direction, with no trail or path, and no guide 
but my compass. The man hired at San Antonio 
proving entirely ignorant of localities and destitute of 
useful information, I sent him to the rear of the train, 
preferring my maps and compass to his doubtful 
suggestions. Had the country presented a pleasant 
aspect, we would have entered the untrodden field with 
more satisfaction ; but, unfortunately, a recent fire had 
burned off all the grass, destroying every green thing 
and leaving only a black stubble, from which slabs of 
limestone protruded. The soil appeared good. 

We had hoped to meet the San Saba River soon 
after leaving the road ; but coming to a small stream 


at 4 o'clock, with water standing in pools, and a little 
patch of grass near, which had escaped the fire, I 
deemed it prudent to go no farther, but encamp, rather 
than continue our march without knowing the exact 
distance to the river. It is always advisable to encamp 
early enough to procure wood and water, and make 
all the necessary arrangements before dark. We gen- 
erally endeavored to get into camp in season to let our 
mules graze two or three hours before nightfall ; but 
in some instances this was impossible, as our daily 
marches were governed by the state of the grass and 
facilities for procuring water. If we struck a spot with 
these important necessaries by two or three o'clock in 
the afternoon, we encamped. In some instances we 
even stopped at twelve o'clock, while in others we kept 
on our way until dark. 

October 20th, Sunday. I would gladly have re- 
mained in camp to-day, agreeably to my original 
intention to rest on Sundays ; but it was of the utmost 
importance that we should push on as fast as possible, 
having barely provisions enough for our journey. 
Besides, there was scarcely grass enough for another 
day's feed on the little spot where we were encamped. 
Early in the morning, therefore, I sent off parties to 
seek the San Saba River, and a place to cross it. We 
were occupied an hour or two in securing some mules 
which had got loose during the night; but by the 
time the animals were hitched up, reports came in that 
the river was within a mile of us, and a fording place 
had been found. We soon after got off, and, crossing 
some steep and rocky hills, reached the ford. The 
horsemen led the way across the stream, which was 


very clear, and flowed over a smooth limestone rock. 
But the opposite bank was found to be impassable for 
wagons. Set all hands at work, some in levelling the 
bank, some in bringing logs, boughs, and stones, while 
a passage through the thick wood which grew along 
the river's margin was opened with axes by others. 
In an hour all was ready. The teams were now 
brought over singly, and by hard pushing and pull- 
ing they were all got safely up the bank. 

Near this crossing, we observed fine burr oaks ; and 
the ground was strewn with their enormous acorns, 
with beautifully fringed cups. A gradual ascent over 
a rocky surface brought us again to the level of the 
table land beyond. We continued our way over 
gentle hills, pretty well covered with mezquit and 
live-oaks, for about six miles, when we reached Camp 
Creek, a small stream, dry in many places. Stopped 
an hour to water our animals and take lunch, as it was 
my determination to reach Brady's Creek, about six- 
teen miles distant. 

The ground ascended gradually from this point for 
several miles, when we struck a more open country, 
on a level plateau, which continued without interrup- 
tion during several hours' march. On this plateau we 
entered a colony of the misnamed "prairie dogs," 
which extended in every direction as far as the eye 
could reach. The ground occupied by this fraternity was 
distinctly marked by the shortness of the grass, which 
these little creatures feed on, as well as by their hillocks, 
some of which contain two or three cart-loads of earth, 
brought up by them from their excavated dwellings. 
We tried in vain to get one of them as a specimen, 


dead or alive. At least twenty shots were fired at 
them, both with pistols and rifles, by several indivi- 
duals of the party, who considered themselves good 
marksmen ; but they either dodged at the flash, or, 
if shot, fell into their holes, at the mouth of which 
they invariably sat. Not one was obtained. On 
examination, drops of blood were seen near the holes, 
which showed that some of the shots took effect. 
In one instance I saw a rattlesnake enter one of the 
habitations ; but whether he belonged there or was 
an interloper it was impossible to tell. Small brown 
owls flitted about, and lit on the little hillocks in 
the midst of the prairie dogs, with which they 
seemed to be upon good terms. For more than three 
hours our march continued through the vast domains 
of this community, or " dog-town," as they are usu- 
ally called, nor did they terminate when we stopped 
for the night. 

The country passed over to-day was very smooth 
and hard, and excellent for wagons in any direc- 
tion. The grass was poor. The only trees seen were 
mezquit, which we here found for the first time in 

The plain suddenly terminated by a steep descent 
of about 150 feet, to another, which extended along its 
base, and through which ran Brady's Creek (south 
fork), where we encamped. Like the other water 
courses we had passed, this was nearly dry, and existed 
only in pools. Quails were abundant here ; and by 
the time my cook had his fire ready, I had a dozen of 
these delicious birds ready for him. Estimated dis- 
tance travelled to-day, twenty-five miles. 


October 21st The night had been quite cold. The 
morning was clear and pleasant. Left at half-past six 
o'clock. The colony of prairie dogs continued the 
whole of this day's march, with scarcely an interrup- 
tion. Our course was more westerly, over a level 
and open country, covered with short mezquit grass, 
and studded with small mezquit trees, uninterrupted 
by either hill, rock, or valley. We kept steadily on 
by the compass until we struck the north fork of 
Brady's Creek, sixteen miles from our last camp. 
Stopped on its banks two hours to water and graze 
the animals, a longer time than was necessary, or 
than could well be spared ; but our mules got frisky, 
and it was difficult to catch them. I determined not 
to make a noon halt again, but to push on until we 
should reach our place for encamping. This course 
is recommended by all experienced men who have 
had charge of trains. A stop cannot be made at 
noon, if the mules are taken from the wagons, without 
consuming two hours, which cannot be spared, unless 
a very long march is to be made, and continued 
during a portion of the night. Then it becomes 
necessary to stop to rest and feed. Reached what I 
supposed to be the head of the creek at half-past three 
o'clock ; at least my guide stated such to be the case, 
and that we should not meet water again for thirteen 
miles. We therefore encamped here, though the 
grass was very poor, having been recently burnt, and 
the new shoots but just appearing above the ground. 

October 22d. Delayed this morning until half- 
past eight o'clock in searching for four mules, which 
got loose during the night and disappeared. Such is 


often the case when the grazing is poor; and parties 
should take particular care on these occasions to see 
that their animals are well secured. Left three or 
four men to continue the search after the mules, as we 
had no animals to spare. Found Brady's Creek did 
not terminate here, as my guide stated, but led 
towards the south-west. Followed it three or four 
miles, then crossed it, and took a course a little north 
of west, and reached a pool of deep water, with excel- 
lent grass on its margin, about four o'clock. Believing 
this to be the head waters of the creek we had been 
following, and having travelled nine hours pretty 
steadily, determined to stop here for the night. The 
country passed over to-day has been very flat, and of 
the same character as that the two days previous. As 
we are now on the high table-land, the trees diminish 
in number and in size. A few mezquit trees, stunted, 
deformed, and decayed, appear on the prairie, and 
occasionally a "mot" of live-oaks. The community 
and domain of the prairie dogs, which we entered 
two days ago, continues. 

The men we left to search for the missing mules 
rejoined us, and, greatly to my disappointment, with- 
out the animals. They had scoured the country for 
miles around; and having seen "Indian sign," as it is 
termed, about a mile from our trail, keeping by us for 
many miles, they believed our mules had been stolen, 
and that a band of Indians were following us. It is 
not necessary that the savage should be seen, to judge 
of his presence. He always leaves marks behind him, 
which are soon understood by the sagacious travellers of 
the prairie, and are as unmistakable as his own red skin. 


October 23d Got off at six o'clock, an early hour 
for the season ; but it is an advantage for travellers in 
this region to push on as far as possible in the early 
part of the day. Even now the heat of the sun at 
mid-day was great, and the shade of a tree refresh- 
ing. To move at six, it was necessary to call the 
cooks at three o'clock, and to take breakfast before 
day. After this the cooks and, servants had to take 
their meal, the cooking utensils were to be washed 
and stowed away, the tents struck, and every thing 
put in its proper place in the wagons. 

Two miles brought us to Kickapoo Creek, and 
three miles more to a small pool, with a river running 
through it, marked on the map as " Potato Spring," 
where we stopped to water our animals. Continued 
our route towards an opening or pass in the elevated 
ridge, which stretched across our path, in a direction 
from north to south, called " the divide." Noticed a 
sudden shelving off on the north side of the highest 
portion of the ridge, directly in our front, where we 
supposed the pass to be. As we approached we could 
discover no opening; and the point towards which 
we had been moving was so rocky as to seem utterly 
impracticable. To the northward the ridge appeared 
less abrupt and rocky, which induced me to deviate 
from the prescribed course. The ascent was gradual, 
but quite rocky. For six miles or more we held our 
way over the dividing ridge, which proved very tire- 
some to our animals. The hills were entirely desti- 
tute of trees and shrubs ; and as the grass had been 
recently burned off, the prospect before us as far as 
we could see was extremely barren. North of us, at 


a distance of two or three miles, the ridge we were 
crossing terminated, and beyond it lay a broad and 
open prairie, extending to the river Concho, the 
course of which could be distinctly traced by a long 
line of dark foliage meandering through the plain. 

I would recommend future travellers who may 
follow my trail, or any other road passing this way, 
to leave the stony ridge we had been crossing to the 
south, and keep on the plain, where the soil is hard 
and smooth. The distance might be increased a 
couple of miles, but it could be accomplished in less 
time, and with less fatigue to the mules, than the toil- 
some passage of six miles, over steep and rocky hills, 
endangering the wagons, and injuring the hoofs of the 

Descending the range of hills, we passed the dry 
bed of a water-course, and reached a stream called 
Antelope Creek, one of the tributaries of the Concho 
River, at five o'clock, where we encamped. 

Our route to-day had been over a level prairie 
country, deficient in wood, save a few scattering mez- 
quit trees of diminutive size, and light grass, indicat- 
ing a poorer soil. We have noticed as we advanced 
westward, and ascended the high table-land of Texas, 
an inferior soil, and, as a necessary consequence, a 
more scanty herbage. The beautiful live-oak, which 
abounds in eastern Texas, and which grows luxuriantly 
in the valleys as far as the north fork of Brady's Creek, 
had now disappeared, save on the immediate banks 
of water-courses. The mezquit, too, which grew large 
and thrifty on good soil, had now either disappeared 
or dwindled into a diminutive tree or mere shrub. 


The niezquit (Algarobia glandulosa) is an important 
tree in this region, and is mentioned by various tra- 
vellers as mezkeet, 'musquit, muckeet, &c; it belongs to 
the same natural family as our locust, which it very 
much resembles in appearance. The foliage is more 
delicate than that of the locust. The wood is hard, 
fine-grained, and susceptible of a high polish; and 
were it not difficult to obtain it sufficiently large and 
straight, it would be much sought after for cabinet 
making purposes. The tree seems to suffer from the 
attacks of insects in a similar manner with the locust. 
The mezquit bears a long and narrow pod, which, 
when ripe, is filled with a highly saccharine pulp. 
Horses and mules are exceedingly fond of these, and 
will often leave their corn for a feed of the mezquit 
beans. Its great value is for fuel, for which purpose 
it is not surpassed by any of our northern woods. 
Where the prairies are frequently burned over, the tree 
is reduced to a shrubby state, a great number of small 
branches proceeding from one root, which goes on 
developing and attains a great size, though the portion 
above ground may not be more than four or five feet 
high. These roots, dug up and dried, are highly 
prized for fire-wood, and form, when thoroughly ignited, 
a bed of lasting coals, much like those from the hickory 
of the North. 

The water of Antelope Creek is clear and sweet. 
Large oaks and pecans grow upon its banks, from the 
latter of which we gathered a quantity of its excellent 
nuts. To the north, saw ranges of mountains far 
beyond the Concho, a broad plain intervening. To 
the south were hills within a few miles, quite barren in 


appearance. Passed several communities of prairie 
dogs, with the same interlopers before noticed, the 
rattlesnake and owl. I also observed rabbits among 
them, which took refuge in their underground dwell- 
ings. Flocks of plover were seen to-day on the barren 
hills. The jackass-rabbit also crossed our path occa- 
sionally; but it sprang up so suddenly, and darted 
through the low chapporal or bushes so rapidly, that I 
could not get a shot at one. Some catfish and trout 
were taken in the stream within a few rods of our 
camp. The men who were out with the mules reported 
that they had seen fresh Indian signs near us, which 
caused us to keep a diligent look-out. 

October 2£th. Just as we were leaving camp this 
morning, in fact after I had myself started, and was 
looking for a place to ford the stream, an Indian 
mounted on a mule suddenly appeared from behind a 
clump of bushes, and the next moment was in the 
midst of the camp. He advanced to the nearest party 
with his hand extended, and was received in a friendly 
manner. As soon as salutations had been exchanged, 
he hastily drew from his pouch a packet, and, after 
undoing sundry wrappings of buckskin and paper, 
drew forth several documents, which proved to be from 
various American officials. The first was from Judge 
Rollins, Indian Agent; the others from our military 
officers, certifying that the bearer was a Lipan chief 
of eminence, named Chi-po-ta, with whom a treaty of 
peace and friendship had recently been made, and 
asking the protection and kind treatment of all Ameri- 
cans who should pass through his country. 

This chief was about sixty years of age, rather 


corpulent, owing to the life of ease which he gave us to 
understand he had been leading, and was mounted on a 
mule so disproportionately small, as to present a most 
ludicrous appearance. He had a pleasant, benevolent 
countenance, and bore so striking a resemblance to 
the portraits of General Cass, that every one noticed 
it. He was well dressed in a suit of deerskin, with his 
bow and arrows slung across his back: these were 
inclosed in a beautiful case made of the skin of the 
American leopard, and he wore a pouch of the same 
material by his side. 

He spoke Spanish tolerably well, Mr. Cremony 
acting as- the interpreter, and was immediately brought 
to me. He said that he had discovered our trail two 
days before, and had since watched us, keeping at a 
short distance. That his people were encamped a few 
miles off, having removed the day before. Chipota 
knew enough of civilization to be aware that when 
distinguished gentlemen meet, it was customary to take 
a drink ; and finding no proffer of such civilities on 
my part, he gave me to understand that he would not 
object to a glass of whiskey. I told him that we were 
Americans who always drank water, and consequently 
were not provided with whiskey, an assertion that 
he seemed to doubt. I added, however, that if he 
would accompany us to our next encampment, I would 
give him a shirt and something to eat. As we intended 
to encamp after a short march, in order to give our 
animals an opportunity to graze, I asked him to take 
a seat in my carriage, an invitation which he accepted 
with a delight that showed itself in spite of his 
endeavors to maintain his gravity. Contrary to the 


custom of his race, he manifested much curiosity- 
respecting all he saw ; for the carriage was well filled 
with a variety of knick-knacks which were new to him. 
The revolvers and other fire-arms interested him 
exceedingly. My Sharp's rifle which loaded at the 
breech and primed itself, surpassed all his previous 
conceptions ; and after that, he was prepared for any 
thing in the shooting line. Taking up my spy-glass, 
which he supposed to be some other contrivance of the 
sort, he wished to be shown how it was fired off. The 
instrument was adjusted, and a distant tree pointed 
out, which he was told to look at with the glass. His 
credulity had been overtasked, and it was hard to 
convince him that it was the same far-off tree. I told 
him that we used that to see the Indians at a distance, 
and could always tell when they were about, or had 
stolen any mules. In mien and conduct the old chief 
was extremely dignified and self-possessed, although 
his Indian gravity was not proof against the jovial 
condact and expressions of our little company, all of 
whom took an interest in this first specimen of the wild 
denizens of the prairie that we had met with. Many 
a blithe smile wreathed around his lips ; and now and 
then a hearty laugh would ring out from the depths of 
the old man's heart, with a right good will. Finding 
that he had mules, I requested him to bring them to 
our camp, and also to let us see his people. 

Five miles over a flat country brought us to the South 
Fork or Boiling Concho. The stream is deep, clear, 
and in many places rapid. Crossed it, after some little 
search, over a ledge of rocks, and stopped to water 
our animals. The flat country continued, with a few 


mezquit and an occasional live-oak. The grass good. 
Passed Dove Creek, a small stream filled with rushes ; 
and a ride of four miles further over a similar country 
to that before described, brought us to Good Spring 
Creek, a stream of clear cold water. It was yet but 
one o'clock ; but as the grass was unusually fine, with 
wood and water in abundance, I determined to rest 
the remainder of the day. 

Our course to-day had been due west towards the 
Green Mounds, the land-marks alluded to by Judge 
Ankrim, the sight of which we all hailed with pleasure, 
as they satisfied us that we were in the right track. 
To the north we had seen the twin mountains, standing 
far and alone in the prairie, which are laid down on 
the map. The stream looked so inviting, that the 
fishing tackle was got out, and some twenty-five black 
bass and catfish taken. These were divided among the 
messes, and made an acceptable meal. A few ducks 
and quails were also shot here. 

An hour or two after we encamped, Chipota returned 
with Chiquita, another chief, and several others of his 
band. This was a man of some consequence too, as he 
gave us to understand ; and such was proved to be the 
fact by the certificates he presented " defining his 
position," which requested kind treatment from all 
Americans. He was about the age of Chipota, and 
similarly dressed. With them were three others, one 
a remarkably fine-looking young man, of athletic form, 
which he took pride in displaying. He wore no gar- 
ment but a breech-cloth and a necklace of bone, and was 
decorated with a few patches of vermilion. At first 
he strutted around the camp, with an evident design 


of making a sensation, and to convince us that lie felt 
it a condescension to associate with us ; but he after- 
wards became quite familiar, particularly with those 
who could hold a conversation with him in Spanish, 
which he understood well, and spoke a little. He 
asked one of our young men if he was married. The 
latter, as such happened not to be the case, was some- 
what confused, not liking to acknowledge the fact, 
as he feared it would lower him in the estimation of 
his savage friend, who moreover might take it into his 
head to offer him one of his red-skinned sisters for a 
spouse, to refuse which would give mortal offence. 
Without replying, therefore, he exhibited a miniature 
of a beautiful woman, which he carried around his neck, 
and which quite enchanted the red-skin. He expressed 
great admiration at the picture, and never seemed tired 
of gazing at its mild countenance, with its bright eyes 
smiling upon him. The next morning before leaving, 
this young Indian made his appearance at the tent 
of the owner of the miniature, and endeavored to 
purchase it, offering in exchange his bow, arrows, tiger 
skin, and finally his horse. Failing to acquire it, the 
young man begged one more sight of the enchanting 
image, which he was permitted to enjoy ; he gave it one 
long and affectionate look, leaped upon his horse, and 
rode off. 

Chipota brought with him one mule, which I bought, 
and would gladly have taken more ; but whether these 
people had them or not, no more could be obtained. 
I also offered them ten dollars each, or goods to that 
amount, if they would bring in the few mules we had 
lost ; but they adhered to their first assertion, that they 


had not seen them. As they showed no inclination to 
leave, we were obliged to give them a supper, after 
which they asked permission to remain all night with 
us. This I felt reluctant to grant, not knowing but 
some treachery or trick might be meditated, such as 
running off our animals during the night. On further 
reflection, however, I consented, on condition that they 
remained by the fires without the encampment — at the 
same time warning them, not to come near us in the 
dark, lest our guard should take them for Comanches 
and shoot them. They obeyed my injunctions, and 
remained quietly by the fires. The night was rather 
cool, and- day had scarcely dawned, when I was 
aroused by a tap at the window of my carriage, in 
which I slept. Rising up, I found old Chipota there 
shivering with cold. On opening, the door, he 
whispered, " Mucho frio — poco de viskey :" Very cold 
— a little whiskey. I was compelled again to deny 
the old man, but compromised the matter soon after by 
giving him a bowl of hot coffee. 

The Lipans are a large and warlike tribe, extending 
from Zacatecas, in Mexico, to the Colorado of Texas. 
In fact, they rove from the Sea-coast to the borders of 
New Mexico, and have as wide a range as the 
Comanches. During the winter, they remain in the 
Bolson de Mapimi, a vast region lying west of the Rio 
Grande, which has few inhabitants, except the untamed 
Comanches and Lipans. The portion of the tribe in 
Texas are at present on friendly terms with the whites, 
but are sworn foes of the Comanches, whom they profess 
to hold in great contempt. The Lipans, in common 
with the Indian tribes of Mexico, and of the States 

VOL. I. 6 


formerly belonging thereto, speak Spanish, some of 
them with tolerable fluency. 

October 25th. One of our mules got loose this 
morning ; and after an hour and a half spent in trying 
to catch him, the teamsters gave up the chase. I then 
offered the young Indian a red shirt, if he would 
perform the job. He leaped on his horse without a 
saddle, took a long lasso or rope in his hand, and 
dashed off at full speed, followed by several of our 
men, after the mule, who, seeing his tormentors 
approach, took alarm and ran with his utmost speed. 
The race was quite exciting, and for a little while, it 
seemed doubtful which side would win. At length 
the Indian got within about forty feet, when, with a 
vigorous effort he threw the lasso over the mule's head, 
and at once brought him to a stand. All seemed to 
enjoy the sport much ; and the Indians, who had each 
received from us presents of shirts and trinkets, parted 
from us, apparently delighted with their visit. 

The creek was five or six feet deep near our camp, 
but after a little search we found a bare rock near a 
fall, where we made an easy passage across. An hour 
after leaving, reached a branch of the stream we had 
left, which we followed in a course to the west-southwest 
for five or six miles, before a fording place could be 
found. The water was deep, and the banks abrupt. 
Crossing this stream, we again pursued a due west 
course until we struck Lipan Camp Creek, which, as 
well as all the other streams we have crossed since 
leaving Brady's Creek, are tributaries of the Concho. 
We now made directly for the Green Mounds, which 
appeared but a few miles from us up a gradual ascent. 


They lay north-east and south-west from each other, 
and the train passed directly between them. While the 
train moved along I ascended the easterly mound, 
accompanied by several others, to see what was the 
character of the country before us. These mounds or 
hills are about five hundred feet high, and had been 
but recently burnt over ; hence their color was far 
from being green. Not a blade of grass was to be 
seen. A few half-burnt bushes and tufts of the yucca 
were all the vegetation that remained. From the 
summit we saw the line of the Concho River running 
in a northeasterly direction, some six or seven miles 
distant. ■ Reached it at five o'clock, when, to our 
great joy, we again struck the Emigrant Road, which we 
had last seen south of the San Saba. Yery few trains 
had passed over it, so that it was not more distinct than 
the roads or paths through a northern meadow. 

We had now been travelling eight days over a 
district one hundred and fifty miles in extent, with no 
other guide than a compass. From the point where 
we left Brady's Creek, we had pursued a course as 
directly west as the nature of the country would admit, 
with no land-mark but the Green Mounds, which 
we had seen about forty miles before reaching them. 
In this march we had frequently crossed a single wagon 
trail, which we took to be that of Major Bryan, of the 
United States Topographical Engineers, who, in June 
and July of the previous year, had passed this way.* 

The character of the country the last three or four 

* Since my return from the survey, I have seen the printed Report 
of the Reconnoissance made by Major Bryan, which convinces me that 
our routes were nearly the same. 


days has varied but little. The soil is poor and the 
grass scanty, except near the water-courses, with but 
few trees. For a wagon road it is admirably adapted, 
and scarcely requires a spade, except at the river 
crossings, which might be improved by a little levelling. 
No animals, except wolves, antelopes, and rabbits, have 
been seen. Along the banks of the streams are pecan 
trees, from which we supplied ourselves with this 
delicious nut. 

An incident occurred to-day which deserves notice. 
Soon after leaving the Green Mounds a rattlesnake 
was seen in the path, and was passed over by my 
carriage. Mr. Cremony, who was riding immediately 
behind, discharged his pistol at it ; and at the same 
moment the snake darted at the hind leg of his horse. 
He dismounted, and on examination discovered by a 
drop of blood the spot where the reptile had inserted 
his poisonous fangs. In less than half an hour after the 
horse began to limp and show the effects of his wound ; 
and his lameness increased until we reached our camp 
an hour later, by which time the leg had greatly 
swollen as far as the thigh. Dr. Webb now got out 
his medicine chest, shaved the hair from the wound, 
and applied some remedy. He also scarified the place 
and used the air-pump, but nothing seemed to check 
the swelling. The horse was now unable to stand, 
and thus he was left till morning. 

October 26th. From our camp the Concho runs 
east for a mile, then north-east for about twenty miles, 
and afterwards in an easterly course again for about one 
hundred and twenty miles, when it empties into the 
Colorado. Near our camp, and for some distance on 


either side, the stream flowed between banks about 
fifteen feet high, and was very muddy and shallow. 
A variety of trees with thick brush grew upon its 
immediate banks. There was no valley or bottom 
land, and the country for miles adjacent was quite 
barren, though it is said that catfish abound here ; but 
our attempts to capture some were unsuccessful. 

Left camp at sunrise and forded the river a few 
miles above. Crossed a branch at the south, and 
another on the north side of the stream, both quite 
small. Passed some deep arroyos, or dry beds of 
streams. Sent scouts ahead to look for the last water, 
where I intended to encamp and give my animals rest 
before attempting the desert that lay beyond. The 
stream continued to grow less as we advanced, finally 
losing itself in marshes or settling into mere pools. It 
also became so salt as to be undrinkable. The scouts on 
their return reported that the water grew Salter ahead, 
and that the banks of the pools were covered with in- 
crustations of salt. With such a prospect before us, I 
thought the more prudent course would be to retrace 
our steps a mile, to a pool where the water, though far 
from being good, was palatable, and where there was 
excellent grass. At half-past two got into camp. 

During the whole day we had seen great quantities 
of wild ducks, of which twenty-five were shot, also two 
large brandt. The whole party feasted on game 
to-day, which we relished much, having tasted no fresh 
meat since leaving Fredericksburg. I procured a 
supply there, which I hoped would last four or five 
days ; but the great heat had rendered it unfit for use 
after the first day. 


The river or rather creek followed to-day, ran 
through a valley quite barren, save on its immediate 
banks, where the grass was good. No trees were seen, 
except here and there a small clump near the water- 
pools. During the whole day's march ranges of barren 
hills lined the valley, which sloped gradually to its 
bottom. Estimated distance travelled to-day by the 
map, twenty-five miles. 

Our wounded horse seemed somewhat improved 
this morning, though his leg was still much swollen. 
He was led, and, as our movement was slow, kept up 
with us without difficulty. On reaching camp, he did 
not appear the worse for his march. 

October 27th. Continued along the valley of the 
Concho for eight or ten miles, and encamped at noon 
near a pool of brackish water, which our scouts reported 
to be the last they could find ; and every appearance 
indicated a cessation of this necessary supply. To the 
west the valley seemed to terminate with the adjacent 
hills, and the open desert or prairie to commence 
immediately beyond. Expecting therefore no water 
until we should reach the Pecos, sixty-five miles distant, 
and knowing that the Jornada which we had to cross 
furnished little grass, I determined to remain here the 
rest of the day, as the grass was very good and abun- 
dant. Our water-kegs were accordingly filled, as well 
as all the canteens, jars, bottles, and flasks that we could 
muster. Food was cooked ; and it was determined 
that there should be no stop beyond an hour or two, 
to let the animals rest and graze, in case grass should 
be found. The wagons were reloaded, so that each 
should carry an equal weight. Many ducks were killed 


in the water-pools. The road from our last camp has 
been good. 

October 2$th. The camp was aroused early ; and 
after taking a cup of coffee, we resumed our journey, 
about an hour and a half before sunrise. Sent four 
men ahead to find the road. The hills extended some 
eight or ten miles towards the desert, when they 
gradually fell off into the plain. The desert was not, 
as I supposed, a level surface, but a succession of slight 
elevations. Every thing bore the appearance of extreme 
barrenness ; not a tree could be seen. Mezquit chappo- 
ral, or bushes from three to five feet in height, were 
thinly scattered over the plain. The wild sage and 
Larrea Mexicana, the prickly pear and other kinds of 
cacti, constituted the vegetation of this desert region. 
Grama grass ( Chrondosium) grew in some spots, and, 
though completely dried up, was eaten with avidity 
by our animals. Antelope were seen in great numbers, 
but so shy, that in the open plain we could not get 
a shot at them. Colonies of prairie dogs were occasion- 
ally observed; and from the numerous burrowing 
places of greater or less size, it was evident that other 
animals found a dwelling among them. A few rabbits 
were also seen bounding over the plain, and disap- 
pearing in their holes or among the bushes. Several 
shots were fired at them without success. These bar- 
ren regions do not furnish many of the feathered tribe : 
a couple of prairie fowls, a flock of large curlews, and 
a few meadow larks and sparrows, were all that were 

About twenty miles from our last camp we passed 
a mud-hole, marked on the map as the "Mustang 


Ponds." It was a slight depression in the prairie. 
Not a particle of water was to be found, nor did there 
appear to have been any for a long time. The earth 
was much trampled by deer and mustangs, which had 
doubtless resorted here in numbers for water. Made 
our breakfast from bits of cold meat and bread which 
we had taken with us, and did not stop the train until 
three o'clock, p. m. Finding a spot where there was 
plenty of dry grass, the train was stopped and the 
animals turned out to graze. The poor creatures 
seemed much fatigued, having been in harness ten 
hours without water or food. They ate the withered 
grass and browsed on the twigs of the mezquit bushes 
with eagerness. Gave each animal one gallon of water. 
They could not have suffered much for want of this, 
as the weather had been quite cool during the day. 
Built fires with the dry bushes, and made coffee. No 
meat was cooked. Our cold pork, and some of the 
ducks that remained from yesterday, with hard bread, 
gave us a luxurious dinner. At least so it seemed to 
us ; for on no day since we commenced our journey 
had we relished a meal more. The cool and bracing 
air of the prairie had given all good appetites. 

Had a narrow escape from one of those accidents 
which, in spite of every precaution, will sometimes 
occur. One of the cooks, contrary to my express 
orders, built his fire near the dry grass without dig- 
ging a hole. The grass took fire, spreading on all 
sides, and advanced with fearful rapidity towards the 
wagons, in the direction of which the wind was blow, 
ing. All hands ran to the rescue with blankets and 
cloths to beat down the fire ; and those who could 


not in the hurry of the moment get any thing else, 
took their coats and hats to battle with the raging 
element. Some ran to the wagons to remove them ; 
but before they could be got out of the way, the 
flames were about the heels of the men and the wagon 
wheels. The slightly-marked road where the grass 
was destroyed, offered a temporary check, and was of 
great help to us in bringing the fire under. Had 
it had one minute more the start, a hundred men 
could not have controlled it ; besides, had it extended 
fifty feet further — which it would have done in half 
a minute — it would have reached our animals, and 
caused a general stampede among them, resulting, 
doubtless, in the loss of many. We should then have 
been in a sad plight, thirty miles from water, and two 
hundred and fifty from the nearest settlement. 

Such accidents have occurred, which have resulted 
in the destruction of trains. During the late war with 
Mexico, several wagons were burned by the grass 
taking fire. 

The place marked "Flat-rock Ponds," where we 
were told water was sometimes found, was quite dry, 
nor were there any indications that there had been 
any there for months. 

October 29th. We had kept in motion the whole 
of the preceding night. A cold wind blew most of 
the time, making it very uncomfortable. It is not a 
desirable piece of exercise at any time to ride on 
horseback all night ; but when a person has been in 
the saddle for thirteen hours the previous day, and 
continues the journey without rest, it becomes deci- 
dedly disagreeable ; and when morning dawned upon 


us, all were pretty well used up. Nor could we now 
stop to rest. There was yet a long stretch before 
us to water, which must be reached at the earliest 
moment. During the night we passed the spot marked 
on the map as the " Wild China Ponds," which, like the 
places before referred to, was destitute of water. 
Great mischief is caused by marking such places on 
the maps ; and had we not been told that it was 
doubtful whether water would be found there, we 
might have been unprepared with a supply, and have 
suffered accordingly.* From the spongy appearance 
of the ground near the water-holes, there is no doubt 
water might be procured by sinking wells, which 
ought to be done if this road is to be traversed. 

Soon after daylight we halted the train, let the 
mules graze for an hour on the parched grass, made 
coffee, and such a breakfast as cold pork and hard 
bread would furnish. It was quickly dispatched, and 

* On ray return from California in 1852, 1 met several parties of 
emigrants from Arkansas and Eastern Texas, who had followed our 
trail from Fredericksburg to El Paso, and who were loud in their denun- 
ciations of those who had advised them to take this road, and more so 
of those who furnished them maps, which deceived them as to the water- 
ing-places. They expected to find water at the localities designated on 
the maps, and took no precautions in case of meeting with none. On 
reaching the so-called "Mustang Ponds," they did not recognise them, 
and sought for them in vain for miles around. At the " Flat Eock" 
and " Wild China Ponds," they were equally disappointed. They 
looked about the desert without success. One party was seventy-two 
hours without tasting water, and came near perishing. Many of their 
mules and cattle died ; and such as had strength remaining hastened 
on to the Pecos. There had been no water at either of the places desig- 
nated during the spring or summer, nor was there any in October or 
November, when we crossed it. 



the few minutes we had to spare before the wagons 
were ready to move were seized to have a little rest. 
Brief as it was, it was a great relief. 


Castle Mountain Pass, Texas. 

Saw a low line of hills far off on our left, and 
immediately in front a range, called the u Castle 
Mountains," of considerable elevation. The road led 
to a gorge through which it was necessary to pass. 
These mountains derive their name from the project- 
ing cliffs of limestone, which sometimes assume the 
appearance of castles. The pass was exceedingly 
steep, and the road tortuous, frequently running 


between rocky walls, so close together as to render 
it impassable for two wagons abreast. These walls 
were covered with immense cacti wherever the almost 
perpendicular surface would afford them a foothold. 
As we entered the pass, we found among the debris 
of the limestone rock numerous fossil shells. It became 
necessary here to lock the wagon wheels and advance 
with great care. We had not proceeded far, when, 
at an abrupt turn, one of the wagon tongues snapped 
off. Two hours were lost in repairing this injury, 
which was effected by lashing two tent-poles to the 
broken tongue. I took advantage of the delay, and 
strolled about on the summit of the mountain. Por- 
tions of this pass are so narrow, that a few Indians 
well armed could keep off a large body of men. In 
exploring some of the recesses of this wild and roman- 
tic spot I noticed many caverns, which, from the quan- 
tity of bones within, were evidently the habitations or 
resort of wild beasts. 

On emerging from these mountains, on the western 
side, several moving objects were discovered. They 
were at first supposed to be Indians ; but on applying 
my telescope, they were discovered to be cattle. 
Several of the men set off in pursuit, and, soon com- 
ing up with them, drove them to our train. They 
proved to be quite fat, and had evidently strayed from 
some herd or train which had preceded us. 

The road here was so excessively sandy, that our 
nearly exhausted animals could scarcely draw the 
wagons through it. The sun beat down with fiery 
force upon us, and we had not a drop of water to 
relieve our thirst, or that of the poor beasts, who 


began to manifest their sufferings in the most piteous 

A march of twelve miles brought us to the river 
Pecos, on the banks of which, near the Horse -head 
Crossing, we encamped. 

This river, which is the largest tributary of the 
Rio Grande, is here about 100 feet in width, and in 
the deepest part has four feet of water. Unlike all 
the other streams we had passed, the Pecos has not a 
single tree or shrub along its banks to mark its course, 
nor has it any valley or bottom land near. It runs 
with a dark rapid current between high perpendicu- 
lar banks, cut through various strata of clay and sand. 
On both sides is a vast open prairie, entirely destitute 
of trees, though scantily covered with mezquit chap- 
poral, and other plants of the desert. The soil is clay 
and sand, but so blended with saline matter that there 
is no vegetation save the plants mentioned. A few 
rushes grow on the margin of the river; but these 
scarcely appear above its banks, which are here from 
six to ten feet above the water. It is charged with 
an earthy substance, of a reddish or brown hue, which 
imparts its tinge to the water. As we approached, 
we looked in vain for the usual indications of a 
stream ; for, owing to the want of trees or bushes, it 
was not seen until we were within a few yards of it. 
The Pecos resembles a great canal rather than a 

During the latter portion of our route we first came 
into the proper chapporal, and met the plants peculiar 
to the flora of Mexico in such quantities as to give a 
character to the landscape. The term " chapporal," 


probably meaning a plantation of live-oak, is applied 
to the growth of shrubbery which forms a striking 
feature of the country. We have no similar growth 
at the North to which it can be compared. One may 
travel for days without seeing a tree higher than one's 
head ; yet the whole country is covered with a thicket 
so dense as to be almost impassable to man or beast. 
The shrubs composing these thickets are, for the 
greater part, excessively ' thorny. The principal are 
shrubby mezquit ; rosin wood, or creosote plant, a 
most disgusting, strong-smelling shrub ; koeblerinia, 
called "junco " by the Mexicans, a plant armed at all 
points, every branchlet or twig being sharpened 
down to a spear ; and various species of yucca. These 
last, particularly the kind known as Spanish bayonet, 
are truly formidable, their stiff sharp-pointed leaves 
being capable of inflicting a dangerous wound. The 
thorny shrubs enumerated, with various species of 
prickly pear and other cacti, make up an alliance 
which one soon learns to treat with proper respect. 

We had no sooner got into camp than one of the 
fattest oxen we had just secured was killed ; and such 
a treat of fresh meat as we had, cannot be appreciated 
but by those who have lived on salt pork for nearly 
three weeks. We made great calculations on having 
fresh beef the remainder of our journey, by driving 
the other two oxen with us; but during the night they 
escaped. We made a diligent search for them the 
following day, but they could not be found. 

I have omitted to notice an incident that occurred 
soon after emerging from the pass in Castle Mountain. 
Anxious to find the Pecos, I sent off men to search for 


it. They returned much alarmed, declaring that they 
had seen "Indian sign," and pointed out to me in the 
midst of the vast plain that lay before us the well-known 
Indian signal of a puff of smoke suddenly rising from 
the earth. This is produced by making a fire in a hole, 
and then smothering it with leaves. The hole is sud- 
denly opened, when the smoke rushes forth in a dense 
body, and rises high in the air in a perpendicular 
column. Such columns are often seen in traversing 
the deserts and plains, and cannot be mistaken. Not 
knowing but Indians were near, our arms were got 
ready, and every bush and rock we passed was care- 
fully scrutinized. No Indians, however, were seen by 
us ; although at the crossing and near our camp there 
were fresh tracks of a large number of mules and horses, 
with a few moccasin prints, which convinced us that a 
party of Indians had crossed within twenty-four hours 
of us. 




Crossing of the Pecos — Narrow escape from a cold bath — Desolate region — 
Prize oxen — Stray mule — Populous biscuit — Toyah Creek — Travellers' 
tokens — Rescue of lost mule — Dreariness and monotony of the Pecos — 
A horse's somerset — Delaware Creek — Snow-storm, sport, and Erman's 
Siberia — Mr. Thurber and others despatched to El Paso — Letter to 
Major Van Home. 

October 30t7i. After our fatiguing march of two 
days and one night without rest, we slept pretty late 
this morning ; even the expectation of a fine beefsteak 
for breakfast could hardly induce either officers or men 
to turn out. After breakfast, I examined the river with 
a view of crossing, intending to devote the day to it, 
and recruit our tired animals. Found the water at the 
Horse-head Crossing, which was a quarter of a mile 
from our encampment, to afford the greatest facilities. 
Here there was a bank about half the height of the 
main bank, to which there was an easy descent, and 
one equally so to the water. It is the place where 
other parties seem to have crossed, and hence rendered 
easy of access. I noticed a long line of horse or mule 
skulls placed along the bank, which probably gave it 
the name it bears. 


On sounding the river to ascertain its depth, we 
found that our ambulances (i. e. wagons mounted on 
springs) would pass over without wetting their con- 
tents. We therefore unloaded all the wagons but those 
on springs ; and placing their contents in the latter, 
we succeeded in passing all our provisions, baggage, 
etc., over with but little trouble. The west bank 
was levelled with our spades, to make the ascent from 
the water easy. I remained with Dr. Webb and Mr. 
Thurber until all were over, except one empty wagon. 
This being quite low, its box would be partly immersed 
in the water ; an ambulance was accordingly sent back 
for us, and for the contents of my carriage. We entered 
the stream, which just touched the bottom of the 
ambulance, but not without some fears, as experience 
had shown that the best and most gentle mules cannot 
always be depended upon. When we had reached 
about two thirds the distance across, or some thirty 
feet from the opposite bank, the mules either lost their 
footing, or were swept by the current into deeper water, 
a little out of the course taken by those which passed 
over before. Unable to contend against the force of 
the water, which was almost on a level with their backs, 
the leaders turned their heads down stream. The 
teamster, who was mounted as usual on one of the 
mules next to the wagon, endeavored in vain to bring 
them to their places with their heads towards the 
shore. The frightened creatures could not maintain 
their footing ; and in struggling to extricate themselves, 
they extended their alarm to the other mules, who 
began to rear and prance in the water. Just at this 
moment the last wagon, which had been behind, 

VOL. i. — 7 


attempted to pass us, the driver thinking the other 
mules would follow his team ; but in the attempt, the 
current swept his wagon, which was half buried in the 
water, against ours. This brought his mules nearly 
abreast of mine, and led to greater confusion and 
alarm. Every moment we expected to be swept away ; 
in which case our lives would have been in great 
danger, as it would have been no easy matter to extri- 
cate ourselves from the close wagon. I could do 
nothing but call for assistance from the party on the 
opposite bank, who stood watching our progress and 
critical situation with breathless suspense. Mr. Cle- 
ment Young, seizing the end of a picket rope which lay 
on the bank, sprang into the river without stopping to 
divest himself of his clothing, and came to our relief. 
With great difficulty he succeeded in attaching the 
rope to the leading* mules. Several other gentlemen 
mounted their horses and sprang into the water at the 
same time, some to urge the mules towards the shore, 
and others to extricate the two wagons. The picket 
rope was now seized by those on the bank, who, pulling 
with all their strength, brought the heads of the leading 
mules towards it. The teamsters then putting on the 
lash, and the horsemen in the water urging our animals 
forward, they relieved us from our perilous situation, 
and we gained the bank in safety. 

My carriage was now brought over by lashing 
beneath it a few empty kegs, with two men in the water 
to keep it steady. A rope was taken ahead, by means 
of which the men on the opposite bank drew it safely 
across. We now pitched our tents, corralled the wagons, 
and, after a hearty supper, turned in for the night. 


October 31st. Struck tents and left camp at 7 o'clock, 
following a northwesterly direction, keeping near the 
Pecos, the course of which we could occasionally trace 
by the rushes which grew on its banks. The country 
continues exceedingly barren and destitute of trees or 
shrubs, except the thorny chapporal, which generally 
grows on desert spots. A short grass appears here and 
there, but is now completely dried up, affording but 
little nourishment to the animals. Beautiful yuccas 
were seen in many places, seeming to thrive in the 
barren soil. Our constant companion, the prickly pear, 
with other varieties of the cactus family, were con- 
tent, too, to flourish in these dreary abodes. 

The only living creatures seen to-day were a few 
blackbirds sitting on the mezquit bushes, so near the 
road that one might have struck them with a cane, 
and a herd of antelopes. The latter bounded before 
us, and were lost to view before our hunters could 
surround them. The ground beneath us seemed 
to afford habitations for various burrowing animals, 
judging from the numerous holes seen by the road 
side ; but we had no time or means to discover what 
they were. I presume however that they were the 
habitations of ground rats and mice, coyotes, polecats, 
moles, rabbits, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and other reptiles. 
As there are no rocky ledges, no thick bushes, or 
decayed logs or stumps in which these animals can 
burrow, they must resort to the earth ; hence the vast 
number of holes which are seen in all such barren and 
desolate regions. Every animal here named I have 
myself seen, at various times, enter or make its exit from 
subterranean abodes. After some difficulty we found 


a spot near the river which afforded tolerable grazing 
for the animals, where we stopped, pitched our tents, 
and formed our corral. The banks of the river being 
high and precipitous, it was with difficulty that 
we watered our animals. One of the horses, in his 
eagerness to reach the stream, fell over the bank, and 
was extricated only by the great exertions of the 
party. A mule, which had exhibited symptoms of 
illness for several days, gave out to-day and was aban- 
doned. It was a serious loss to us, for we had already 
lost four ; and although the weight of our provisions 
was daily growing less, the weakness of the animals 
increased still faster, from their long journeys and 
insufficiency of food. The mercury stood at noon to-day 
at 82° Fahrenheit. 

November 1st. Determined to make an early start 
this morning, for which purpose the camp was called 
at 4 o'clock. Got breakfast and were off at daylight. 
A little rain fell during the night. The wind was north ; 
but the weather was warm, and our fears of a " norther," 
so much dreaded by all prairie travellers, subsided with 
the appearance of a bright sun. 

Our march to-day has been through a region as 
barren and desolate as that of yesterday. Continued 
near the river, avoiding its windings. Noticed large 
spots covered with a saline efflorescence ; in fact, on 
examination, the whole earth seemed impregnated with 
it. The water of the Pecos, which here is quite brack- 
ish, doubtless derives this flavor from the soil through 
which it passes. Patches of dry grass and stunted 
mezquit constitute the chief vegetation. Yuccas 
and cacti are thinly scattered over the plain : the 


former, sometimes appearing in groups, seemed like 
bodies of men ; and many were ready to see an Indian 
in every resemblance to them which our journey 
afforded. Passed the carcasses of five oxen lying about 
the road ; from which we concluded that they had 
belonged to some emigrant train, and had dropped 
down from exhaustion, and perished where they fell. 
Their lank bodies were dried up with the skins still 
adhering to them, showing that even wolves .do not 
attempt to find a subsistence on this desolate plain. The 
remains of wagons were also seen along the road, and 
furnished our cook with fire-wood, an article which he 
had had much difficulty in procuring since leaving the 
Concho River, and particularly since we struck the 
region near the Pecos. Small brushwood and the 
roots of mezquit bushes had been our resort for fire- 
wood for several days. Perhaps it was well for us that 
we had no fine joints of meat or steaks to cook, with 
such fuel ; but to fry a bit of pork, to boil some beans, 
and make coffee, which constituted our chief cooking, 
a little dry brush answered very well. 

We had another windfall to-day in meeting with 
two oxen, which were pursued and taken. They 
proved rather lean ; nevertheless they were an impor- 
tant addition to our stock of provisions. Took only 
their hind quarters, which would last as long as they 
could be preserved. Meat may be kept in this region 
by cutting it into strips and drying it in the sun ; but 
we had not time to do this. 

Stopped to water, and to our surprise found a beau- 
tiful fall in the river, eight or ten feet in height. 
It flowed between high banks of clay, resting on a 


base of conglomerate, over which it clashed with a life 
and beauty which contrasted pleasantly with its usual 
dark and treacherous flow. The banks near the fall 
are high and perpendicular, and expose many thin 
strata of various brightly colored deposits of sand and 
marl, presenting a singularly beautiful ribbon-like 
appearance. A small island or rock, overgrown with 
rushes, divided the fall. On tasting the water, it was 
found to be less brackish than at the Crossing. This 
fall is not noticed on the maps of the country. Passed 
a stray mule, which, looking plump and strong, I felt 
desirous to transfer to our wagons. Two or three 
men went in pursuit of him with lariats ; but he out- 
stripped them all, and disappeared in the chapporal. 
At four o'clock, stopped on the bank of the river, 
near a rapid, where we found the water accessible, 
and excellent grass for our animals. 

Finding our stock of provisions was fast diminish- 
ing, I ordered an account taken of them. There 
proved to be but three hundred and sixty pounds of 
hard bread, or about ten pounds for each man, which 
was accordingly divided in this proportion among all. 
With the usual allowance of a pound a day for each, 
there was bread enough for ten days. As we could 
hardly expect to reach El Paso within that time, each 
man could govern himself accordingly, and save as 
much as possible for an emergency. But scanty as 
was our stock, it was unfit to be eaten, being com- 
pletely riddled with weevils. Hundreds of these insects 
were found in a single biscuit. To remove them was 
out of the question ; and there was no alternative but 
to shut the eyes and munch away. Of salt pork there 


was about a half allowance for ten days. The coffee 
and sugar was all gone. 

November Id. Our route kept on in a westerly 
course, near the river, which we occasionally distin- 
guished on our right by the rushes and other plants 
peculiar to salt marshes, which grew upon its banks. 
The same barrenness continues, with scarcely a living 
object. A few blackbirds and sparrows are all that 
have been seen. Passed five more dried carcasses of 
oxen lying by the road. Fell in with a cow and 
yearling calf, and after a pretty good chase succeeded 
in lassoing the cow. She would not, however, consent 
to be driven with the train, when she was tied behind 
a wagon; but so furious did she become at being 
deprived of her liberty, that it was found necessary to 
shoot her. The calf was then followed a mile or more, 
and shared the same fate. Both proved very fat, and 
a most welcome addition to our supply of food in its 
diminished state. Passed several depressions near the 
river, which appeared to have been filled with water. 
A white efflorescence on their surface showed the extent 
of the saline matter with which the soil was impreg- 
nated. Crossed an arroyo or dry bed of a stream, 
covered with the salty incrustations before alluded to, 
which we took to be the " Toyah Creek " of the maps. 
At four o'clock, encamped on the margin of the Pecos, 
about two miles from the creek. The shrubbery 
to-day exhibits a larger growth than any we have 
seen since we crossed the river. 

November 3 c?, Sunday. I was desirous to rest 
to-day ; and had we been any where except on the 
banks of the Pecos, I certainly would have done so. 


But a due regard for our safety rendered it necessary 
that we should not stop until beyond its waters and 
the miserable barren region near it. Should a rain 
set in, it would make the roads almost impassable for 
loaded wagons, so tenacious is the soil. The grass, 
too, but barely sustained life in our worn-out animals. 
We saw around us evidence of what the road would 
be in wet weather. Some teams seemed to have 
passed over it at such a time, leaving ruts six inches 
deep in the soft, muddy soil. Every day we noticed the 
clouds with fear and trembling, and watched each 
change in the weather. The roads are now hard and 
smooth, and have been so since we struck the river. 

Our route has been over the same flat and desert 
plain before described. Not a living thing has crossed 
our path, beast, bird, or reptile, except two large 
white swans, which were doubtless winging their way 
to more attractive regions. They lit on a marshy 
place, which I endeavored to approach ; but even 
in this out of the way spot, which the human foot sel- 
dom treads, they flew at my approach. Scattering 
patches of dried grass, with low chapporal, and an 
occasional yucca, constituted the vegetation of the 
twenty-two miles passed over to-day. In order to 
find a good spot for our encampment, two or three of 
the party diverged from the road, and succeeded in 
discovering a little nook on the river's bank, where 
there was good grass. Several hours before stopping, 
we got a glimpse of the Guadalupe Mountains, and a 
range of hills through which we must pass, although 
more than 100 miles off in a direct line, in a north-west- 
erly direction. Mounts Diavolo and Carrizo, which 


had been visible to the westward, seventy or eighty- 
miles distant, since crossing the. Pecos, to-day were 
lost to our view. 

Passed the carcasses of four cattle by the road 
side ; and in another place, where there was a slight 
depression in the plain, and where water had at some 
time accumulated after rains, there lay the carcasses 
of five more, which had doubtless mired in endea- 
voring to satiate their thirst. Portions of wagons, 
boxes, and barrels were also noticed along the road. 

November 4:th. Still journeying along the river. 
Barren plains continue, with fewer mezquit than 
before. Dried grass and weeds prevail. Many car- 
casses and skeletons of oxen, and several skeletons of 
mules, marked our route to-day, as well as the remains 
of broken wagons. As the prairie did not furnish us 
fuel to make our fires, we gathered up the fragments 
of the wagons and carried them with us for the pur- 
pose. Noticed along the road recent tracks of Indians, 
horses, and mules ; or, in the language of the country, 
" Indian sign." The tracks of the animals showed 
that they were unshod, which would not have been 
the case if it had been an American party. Next we 
observed prints of moccasins, which are easily distin- 
guished from the American shoe, or from the sandal or 
moccasin of the Mexicans. Then the freshness of the 
foot-prints and of the dung, showed that the party 
could not have preceded us more than a few hours. In 
this belief we were strengthened by seeing large fires 
some fifteen or twenty miles off on the prairie, early in 
the evening. 

Much sagacity is shown by experienced hunters 


and frontier men in detecting "signs" on the prairie, 
when and by whom made, the strength of the parties, 
their direction, etc., whether Indians, Mexicans, or 
Americans. So with the places where there have 
been encampments. These the wary traveller on the 
prairie inspects with care, to see whether friend or 
enemy has preceded him. If Indians, he will find 
poles from their wigwams, fragments of skins, scraps 
of leather ties, beads, etc. ; and a little experience 
will enable him to distinguish the tribe, whether 
Comanches, Lipans, or Apaches. The principal cha- 
racteristic, I believe, is the form of their wigwams. 
One sets up erect poles, another bends them over in 
a circular form, and the third gives them a low oval 
shape. There is also a difference in their moccasins, 
and the foot-prints they make. I know not the precise 
form of the Comanche and Lipan moccasins; but 
the Apaches assured me they could tell the foot- 
prints of the Comanches, the Mescaleros, the Yutas, 
the Coyoteros, or the Navahoes, and pointed out the 
distinctive marks of several. Different tribes of 
Indians have their peculiar fashions as well as civi- 
lized races, which are chiefly shown in their modes of 
dressing their hair and their coverings for the feet. 
American emigrants or travellers leave many marks to 
indicate their nationality and character, such as scraps 
of newspapers, bits of segars, fragments of hard bread, 
pieces of hempen rope, and other things. Mexicans 
would not be likely to have either of the articles 
named, but would be detected by the remains of 
cigarritos (small paper segars), pieces of raw hide, 
which they use instead of rope, etc. Or if they left 


any portion of their camp equipage, or cooking uten- 
sils, they would differ from those of Americans. The 
remains of their food, too, would differ. Tortillas, 
tamaules, frijoles, Chili Colorado, and dried beef would 
appear ; instead of hard bread, fried pork, beef-steak, 
etc.* If a Mexican wears a shoe, it will be very dif- 
ferent in form from an American one. 

The extent of a party is shown by the number of 
foot-prints. This cannot be told while it is in motion, 
as there may be a large number of animals driven in a 
herd with but few riders ; but when the camp fires are 
examined, the number of persons can be detected with 
a considerable degree of certainty. The freshness of 
the foot-prints, the dung of the animals, and other signs 
show how recently a party may have passed ; and there 
are other marks by which its rate of travelling can be 

Many are complaining to-day of illness, from indul- 
ging in fresh meat. It is hard to restrain travellers 
who have been living on salt pork, and but a scanty 
allowance of that, when a superabundance of fine fresh 
beef and veal is placed before them. 

I have omitted to mention an incident that occurred, 
one of those which help to make up the chapter of 
events, and show the difficulties of our mode of travel- 
ling. Soon after we retired, there was a cry from the 
guard of " Turn out all hands, a mule in the river. " The 
men all rushed from their tents, lanterns were lit, and 

% Tortillas are their cakes of corn, or wheaten flour. Tamaules are 
minced meat, rolled up in corn shucks, and baked on coals. Frijoles, 
dark Mexican beans. Chili Colorado, red peppers. 


ropes taken to rescue the animal ; for we could not 
afford to lose another. It appeared that in grazing 
too near the bank, which was here some ten or fifteen 
feet above the river, and very precipitous, he had 
fallen over. Several men descended by the aid of 
ropes, and searched along the bank ; but the poor 
creature could not be found, and it was supposed 
that he had been swept away by the current. When 
about to move this morning, a neighing was heard 
on the opposite side of the river, which proved to 
proceed from our lost mule. One of the men swam 
across with a rope, pursued and captured him and 
forced him over the steep bank, when he was drawn 
across the river. The bank was then levelled, and, 
by hard lifting and pulling, the animal was raised up 
and brought back in safety. 

Encamped at half-past three p. m. after travelling 
hours ; our mules coming in greatly fatigued. 

November 5th. Intended making an early start this 
morning; but when we came to hitch up the poor 
mules, they looked so lank and miserable, that we 
thought it best to turn them out again for a few hours 
to graze. Again we pursued our course along the 
river for a few miles, when we left it in the hope that 
we should not see it again ; but we were doomed to 
disappointment, in coming plump upon it an hour after. 
We had now followed its dreary and monotonous banks 
for six days, and longed for a change of scene. Even 
the Jornada of sixty-five miles presented novelties which 
the Pecos had not. The constant fear of being over- 
taken by a storm, the brackish water, and that always 
difficult to obtain, the miserable grass, and the deficiency 


of wood helped to render this portion of our journey 
most disagreeable; and but for the broken wagons 
that were providentially left in our way, we could not 
have procured wood enough to cook our food. The 
river and adjacent country here present the same aspect 
as below. In width it now varied from fifty to ninety 
feet, with steep banks of clay or sand from twelve to 
twenty feet in height. Its rapidity may be somewhat 
less than at the Horse-head Crossing. 

On stopping to water our animals at the last halt 
made on the everlasting Pecos, one of our Mexican horses 
was suffered to nibble at the scanty grass on the river 
bank, while the party were taking a lunch. His dangerous 
situation was observed by one of the teamsters, who step- 
ped forward to lead him away. Resisting the benevolent 
intention thus manifested towards him, the animal, 
as a matter of course, determined to progress back- 
wards ; and over the bank he went, nearly dragging 
the man after him. The bank was here full twenty 
feet high, one half being perpendicular, and the other, 
formed of the debris, nearly so. We all rushed to 
its edge, expecting to witness the last struggle of the 
poor beast, when, to our surprise, we saw him on his 
feet nearly covered with water. The comical look of 
the animal, as he rolled up his eyes at us, and the pre- 
dicament he had placed himself in by his stubbornness, 
brought forth a hearty laugh from all. A man was let 
down by a rope, who succeeded in bringing him back 
to the camp none the worse for his fall and somerset. 

Leaving the Pecos we took a direction a little north 
of west over a range of hills composed of gravel and 
marl. The road pursued a winding course among the 


hills and across deep ravines. At one place we stop- 
ped to look at some limestone sinks near the road. The 
earth and stone had caved in, or sunk, in spots varying 
from ten to thirty feet in diameter. The ground for 
Borne distance around appeared hollow and cavernous. 
The country since leaving the river was well covered 
with grass, but entirely destitute of trees or shrubs. 
At 4 o'clock reached Delaware or Sabine Creek, sixteen 
miles from the Pecos, and pitched our tents on a spot 
where there appeared to have been a very large 
encampment a few months before. Besides the frag- 
ments, there was one large Pennsylvania wagon nearly 
complete, numerous ox-yokes, boxes, barrels, etc., etc. 
These were collected and carried to our camp for fire- 
wood ; and very acceptable they proved, for the banks 
of the creek did not furnish a bit of wood as large as 
one's finger. As the grass was abundant here and of 
the best description, with excellent water, I determined 
to halt to recruit the animals, and gave orders accord- 
ingly. The poor creatures were much in need of rest, • 
for several had already given out and had to be removed 
from the wagons. Two colonies of prairie dogs were 
seen to-day after leaving the Pecos, the first we had 
noticed since leaving the great Jornada beyond Castle 

November 6th. Was aroused in the night by the 
whistling of the wind. Feeling a great change in the 
temperature, I looked out of my carriage window, and 
to my surprise found the ground covered with snow. 
There was no sleep after this ; and as soon as morning 
dawned, I got up to inspect the condition of the party 
and the animals, and to see what could be done for 


their comfort. The dreaded Norther I had so much 
feared when near the Pecos, had now come upon us 
with all its fury and in its very worst shape, accom- 
panied with snow. But bad as Our condition was, it 
might have been worse. We had escaped the inhospi- 
table region of the Pecos, where the water was unfit to 
drink, scarcely any grazing was to be had for our 
animals, and no wood wherewith to cook our food. 
Here the grass was excellent and abundant, the water 
was pure, and the calamities of others furnished us with 
broken wagons and other articles for fire-wood. But 
our poor animals had no shelter from the pitiless storm, 
there being not a tree to break the force of the keen 
blast which seemed to pierce them to the quick. A few 
isolated bushes grew near the camp, but nothing that 
afforded a covering. During the day, many wandered 
off, probably to seek a shelter ; and at one time, ten 
men were gone in pursuit of them. Some of the horses 
had strayed seven miles before they were taken. 

The only means to add to our comfort were to bank 
the earth around the tents to keep out the snow and 
the cold blasts ; to bring our overcoats and India-rub- 
ber garments into requisition ; and to keep up as large 
fires as the broken wagons and boxes would admit of. 

Finding it very hard to keep warm even by the 
fire, with the cold wind and snow beating on my back, 
I laid aside my heavy blanket, put on my India-rubber 
cloak and long boots, and took my double-barrelled gun 
to see what virtue there was in a little sport by way of 
exercise. The result proved to be better than remain- 
ing still, roasting and freezing alternately by the fire. 
The excitement and exercise restored the circulation, 


and the satisfaction of procuring several brace of 
ducks amply repaid the hardship of facing the storm. 
Removing my India-rubbers I again wrapped my 
blanket around me, seated myself in my carriage 
with Dr. Webb, and there spent the remainder of the 
long day in reading Erman's Travels in Siberia, a 
proper book for the occasion. The young men took it 
very calmly, spending the time at the camp fires or in 
their tents. So passed the day. 

November ^ith. In camp, on Delaware Creek. 
Passed a cold and sleepless night. The sharp wind 
found its way through the openings in the carriage, 
which all the blankets I could pile on would not keep 
out. The young gentlemen crowded themselves in 
their tents, and lay as close as possible ; while the 
teamsters, laborers, etc., stowed themselves in the 
wagons. The morning was sharp and cold ; the snow 
continued to fall, and the wind remained at the north, 
though blowing less than the previous day. 

I was desirous to resume our march ; but the 
teamsters and others, whose experience among mules 
was greater than mine, thought it impracticable. To 
do so they said would result in our discomfort and 
perhaps ruin: for the animals would assuredly give 
out and leave us much worse off than we were at pre- 
sent. I yielded to their representations and determined 
to remain a while longer: for we were in a good 
encampment with grass and water at hand, and the 
flooring of our tents was dry — a consideration of 
great importance. No one had taken cold or shown 
symptoms of illness. Before leaving San Antonio my 
friends told me that at this season of the year we could 


hardly expect to escape the Northers, and advised me 
if overtaken by one not to move, but encamp at once, 
and keep quiet until it had passed. But in determining 
to remain I thought it most prudent to send a small 
party in advance to El Paso, now about one hundred 
and sixty-five miles off, for assistance. 

I ordered another inventory to be made of our 
provisions, and found nothing remaining but a limited 
supply of hard bread and pork ; every thing else was 
gone. If we kept on, we might reach El Paso by 
parching the few remaining bushels of corn and taking 
an occasional mule steak • but if compelled to remain 
here two or three days we should be reduced to a very 
short allowance. Messrs. Thurber, Moss, and Weems 
at once volunteered their services to go to El Paso. 
No time was lost therefore in fitting them out. They 
selected three of the hardiest riding animals ; put 
up four days' provisions, which they put in bags 
and hung to their saddles ; fastened their blankets 
behind them ; and set off in the midst of the storm, 
two hours after it was determined to send them. One 
of the teamsters named Pratt, a very useful and 
energetic man, accompanied them. I gave them the 
following letter to Major Van Home, commanding at 
El Paso : 

"Mexican Boundary Commission in Camp, 

"Delaware Creek, Nov. 7, 1850. 

" Sir : I reached this place on the afternoon of the 
5th instant with a portion of the United States Boundary 
Commission, having left the main body at San Antonio 
to follow immediately. My desire being to reach El 

VOL. I. 8 


Paso as early as possible after the first of November, 
we took provisions but for thirty days. 

"I now find myself overtaken by a Norther and 
severe snow-storm ; my animals are much reduced by 
fatigue, and there is a probability that I shall fall short 
of provisions, in case the storm should continue. 
Under these circumstances I have deemed it prudent 
for the safety of my party to send four of them to 
El Paso, to procure aid to enable me to reach there as 
soon as possible. In the meantime I shall advance as 
soon as the weather will permit, and hope to reach the 
Guadalupe Pass in season to meet the return messenger. 
" I shall be glad if you can send to my aid the 
following, viz. : ten mules, to be returned, in good 
condition ; and bread, pork, sugar, and coffee sufficient 
for my party for five days : for which I will pay you 
on my arrival. 

" I am, very respectfully, 

" Your obedient servant, 
" To Major J. Van Horne, 

El Paso del Norte, Texas." 




Difficulty of proceeding — Set out with a small party in advance — 
View of Guadalupe Mountain — Boiling Spring — Deceptive clearness of 
the atmosphere — Guadalupe Pass — Descent to the plain — Meet Mr. 
Coon's train — Hospitality — Mr. Thurber's note — Take leave of the 
train — Oornudos del Alamo — Thome's Well — Ojos del Alamo — Waco 
Mountain Pass — Waco Tanks — Meet Messrs. Thurher and Weems on 
their return — Arrival at El Paso — Itinerary of route — Remarks on the 
country traversed — Its adaptability to a public road. 

November 8th. Canip on Delaware Creek. With 
great delight I rose from my carriage bed this morning 
at the first peep of day, to find the weather had mode- 
rated. Soon after the sun beamed forth in all his 
splendor, and with it the hope that we should be able 
to resume our journey. After a few hours delay in 
packing the tents, arranging our camp equipage, and 
drying the collars of the mules, the pleasing sound was 
heard from the teamsters of "All ready!" when we 
left camp, and, immediately crossing the creek, emerged 
on the more elevated bank beyond. The dry earth 
and the warm sun soon absorbed or evaporated the 
snow, so that our progress was but little impeded. 
But we had not proceeded many miles before the 
mules showed symptoms of fatigue and suffering from 


the effects of the cold. Several gave out entirely, 
hung their heads, and sank to the ground, or refused 
to move further. These were necessarily removed 
from the teams, so that several of the wagons were 
reduced to two feeble mules. As my carriage mules 
were in better condition, I had got some distance in 
advance, when word was brought me that the animals 
were giving out so fast that it would be necessary for 
us to encamp at the first place where good grass and 
water could be found. A few miles further brought 
us again to Delaware Creek, where, finding good grass 
as well as fuel, we stopped and encamped. Dr. Webb 
and myself walked the entire distance to-day. An 
examination of the mules soon showed that in their 
present condition our progress must be very slow, not 
exceeding twelve or fifteen miles a day ; and that it 
would be absolutely necessary to give them a couple 
of days' rest where there was good grazing. This 
delay would destroy all my plans of reaching my place 
of destination within the period required, and exhaust 
our provisions before the supply sent for could arrive. 
I determined, therefore, as my carriage mules were in 
good order, to push on myself. With this view I made 
up a party consisting of Dr. Webb, Messrs. Murphy, 
Cremony, Matthews, Young, and Thompson; these, 
with my carriage driver and another, made eight 
persons, a party I believed sufficiently strong to go 
through in safety. We selected good animals, and 
made such preparations as were necessary during the 
afternoon and evening, to insure an early start in the 
morning. A sack of our remaining corn was lashed to 
the axle-tree of my carriage for the mules. Some salt 

TO EL PASO. 117 

pork was cooked, which, with hard bread, was stowed 
inside, while the unoccupied space inside and out was 
filled with bedding. A tent could not be taken, as 
the carriage was already too heavily burdened. 

November 9th. Up at four o'clock ; took a hearty 
breakfast, and was ready to move as soon as there 
was sufficient light to see the road. Started at a lively 
pace, intending to make a good march. The road was 
quite tortuous, winding among and over hills, in a 
direction nearly west, towards the bold head of the 
great Guadalupe Mountain, which had been before us 
some eight or ten days. This is a most remarkable 
landmark, rising as it does far above all other objects, 
and terminating abruptly about three thousand feet 
above the surrounding plain. The sierra or mountain 
range which ends with it, comes from the north- 
east. It is a dark, gloomy-looking range, with bold 
and forbidding sides, consisting of huge piles of rocks, 
their debris heaped far above the surrounding hills. 
As it approaches its termination the color changes to a 
pure white, tinted with buff or light orange, presenting 
a beautiful contrast with other portions of the range, 
or with the azure blue of the sky beyond ; for in this 
elevated region the heavens have a remarkable bril- 
liancy and depth of color. 

The low hills we passed are woodless, and sparsely 
covered with grass. Limestone occasionally protrudes 
from the hills, while the soil is hard and gravelly, with 
an occasional patch of sand. Stopped to water the 
animals at the head waters of Delaware Creek, probably 
Walnut Creek, about fifteen miles from camp, when we 
continued our course towards the head of the Guada- 


lupe Mountain, reaching a boiling spring about five 
o'clock. There are here three fine springs, one of 
which tasted strongly of sulphur; the second seemed 
impregnated with salts of soda, while the third 
was very pure. Found good grazing in the valley 
where we stopped, with a little grove of trees, a pretty 
place to have spent a day in, had circumstances 
rendered it proper ; but while our animals were in a 
condition to move, I determined to press them to their 
utmost. Estimated distance travelled to-day, thirty- 
five miles. 

The Guadalupe had been before us the whole day, 
and we all expected to reach it within a couple of 
hours after leaving camp. But hour after hour we 
drove directly towards it, without seeming to approach 
nearer ; and finally, after journeying ten hours, the 
mountain seemed to be as distant as it was in the 
morning. Such is the great clearness of the atmos- 
phere here, that one unused to measuring distances 
in elevated regions is greatly deceived in his cal- 
culations. When this mountain was first discovered 
we were more than one hundred miles off. Even 
then its features stood out boldly against the blue 
sky ; and when the rays of the morning sun were shed 
upon it, it exhibited every outline of its rugged sides 
with as much distinctness as a similar object would in 
the old States at one fifth the distance. Often have I 
gazed at the Katskill Mountains in sailing down the 
Hudson ; and though at a distance of but twelve 
miles, I never saw them as distinctly, as the Guada- 
lupe Mountain appeared sixty miles off. 

For several miles before reaching the springs we 

TO EL PASO. 119 

had in vain tried to pick up wood enough to make a 
fire ; but none could be found, not even roots or brush- 
wood. Still the good fortune which had attended us 
in our journey did not desert us here. A disabled 
wagon, with its large box, lay near the springs. This 
not only furnished us with fuel for a fire, but the box, 
which was whole, served as a sleeping-place for four 
of the party. This was placed on one side of the fire, 
and the carriage drawn up on the other. As we were 
near one of the notorious lurking-places of the Apa- 
ches, a strict guard was kept up, and relieved every 
hour during the night. 

November 10th. Two hours before day my car- 
riage driver was out with the mules to give them an 
early feed, while we managed to make a pot of tea 
from a canister, which I always carried with me for 
such occasions. This, with cold pork and hard bread, 
made our breakfast ; but meagre as it was, it was 
taken with a relish. We then filled our leather water 
tank, and were on our journey before the sun peeped 
over the adjacent hills to our left. No sunrise at sea 
or from the mountain's summit could equal in gran- 
deur that which we now beheld, when the first rays 
struck the snow-clad mountain, which reared its lofty 
head before us. The projecting cliffs of white and 
orange stood out in bold relief against the azure sky, 
while the crevices and gorges, filled with snow, 
showed their inequalities with a wonderful distinctness. 
At the same time the beams of the sun playing on the 
snow produced the most brilliant ' and ever-changing 
iris hues. No painter's art could reproduce, or colors 
imitate, these gorgeous prismatic tints. 


Five or six miles, over a hilly though very hard 
road, brought us to the base of the mountain, where 
we noticed a grove of live-oaks and pines, with water 
near them ; but as it was too early to water our ani- 
mals, we did not stop. At this spring a train was 
attacked a few months before we passed, and four 
men killed. As we now began to descend, I got out 
of the carriage, preferring to go on foot. I could 
thus the more readily lock and unlock the wheels 
when necessary. The road here, after passing through 
long defiles, winds for some distance along the side 
of the mountain. Now it plunges down some deep 
abyss, and then it suddenly rises again upon some 
little castellated spur, so that one almost imagines 
himself to be in a veritable fortress. Again we pass 
along the brink of a deep gorge, whose bottom, 
filled with trees, is concealed from our view, while the 
evergreen cedar juts forth here and there from the 
chasms in its sides. Winding and turning in every 
direction, we followed the intricacies of the Guada- 
lupe Pass for at least six hours; and whenever the 
prospect opened before us, there stood the majestic 
bluff in all its grandeur, solitary and alone. In one place 
the road runs along the mountain on a bare rocky 
shelf not wide enough for two wagons to pass, and 
the next moment passes down through an immense 
gorge, walled by mountains of limestone, regularly 
terraced. As we were descending from this narrow 
ledge, the iron bolt which held the tongue of the car- 
riage broke and let it drop. Nothing but iron would 
do to repair the injury ; and after trying various 
expedients, a substitute for the broken bolt- was 

TO EL PASO. 121 

found in the bail or handle of the tin kettle which 
held our provisions. This, being doubled and driven 
through the hole previously filled by the bolt, kept it 
in its place, while the tongue was supported by cords. 
By careful driving, and relieving the weight of the 
carriage by alighting when going over bad places, 
we got along tolerably well. 

I regretted that we were not able to spend more 
time in this interesting Pass, the grandeur of which 
would, under any other circumstances, have induced 
us to linger ; but we had too much at stake to waste a 
single hour. Many new forms of cacti were seen 
here; and upon emerging from it, we observed in 
quantities the fouquiera (I know no other name for 
it) covering the gravel knolls. This singular shrub 
throws up from just above the surface of the ground 
numerous simple stems, eight or ten feet high, armed 
with sharp hooked thorns. 

On reaching the summit of the line of hills, which 
completely surround the Guadalupe range on the 
western side, we looked down upon a broad plain, 
stretching out as far as the eye could reach. The 
Sacramento Mountains, which are but the continuation 
of the Guadalupe range, extend from east to west for 
a distance of more than a hundred miles, terminating, 
like the latter, in a bold bluff, when another range 
seems to intersect them from the north. Far to the 
north-west we could see the Cornudos del Alamo like 
two great mounds rising from a vast plain, while to 
the south-west the horizon was bounded by a faint blue 
outline of mountains, with jagged tops. The plain 
appeared level from the height at which we viewed it, 


and was interspersed with what looked like silvery 
and tranquil lakes, glittering in the sun, seeming, as it 
were, to tempt the weary traveller to their brink. 
Our young men cried out " Water! " delighted with the 
idea of again enjoying this luxury after a long day's 
ride. But the whole turned out a delusion; what 
appeared to be the glassy surface of a lake or pond, 
being nothing but the saline incrustations of a dried 
up lake. The vast plain, or desert, as it may with 
more propriety be called, as far as the eye could 
reach, was dotted with these saline depressions. 

Before we had got through this pass we came 
upon another broken wagon, and among its iron work 
were so fortunate as to find a bolt precisely the size 
of the one we had broken. The wire was quickly 
knocked out, and the bolt inserted in its place ; after 
which the driver put on his whip, and we rolled over 
the hard and excellent road at a rapid pace. 

The summit of the mountain appears to be covered 
with heavy pine timber ; but its rocky sides exhibit 
no foliage, except in the deep chasms which run from 
it in every direction. At its base, too, we noticed 
large trees of pine, oak, cedar, etc. 

We had now ridden the entire day without water 
for our animals, not discovering a spring which is 
noted on the map as Ojo del Cuerjpo, and at which I 
had proposed stopping. Our leather tank was empty, 
and I began to feel anxious on our own account, as the 
next water laid down on the map is at the Cornudos del 
Alamo, thirty miles distant. The road was now pretty 
good, and we went over it on a fast trot. On the left 
we passed a range of hills of pure white sand, the 

TO EL PASO. 123 

same we saw when the plain first opened to us, and 
which we supposed to be water, and a few miles 
further the dry bed of a lake, with a white surface, 
appearing also like water. It was quite rough and 
hilly here. Clumps of bushes grew in the intervening 
valleys, which I sent parties. to examine, in the hope 
of finding water, but without success. 

While pondering whether to push on or encamp 
where we were, without water, we discovered far off 
in the plain, directly before us, what appeared to be 
a large encampment. Smoke was curling up from 
many fires ; and we descried a long line of white 
objects. Took my spy-glass, and discovered the white 
dots to be so many wagons stretching over the plain ; 
all which assured us we had nothing to fear. The 
pleasant prospect of again meeting with our country- 
men quite raised our drooping spirits. The weary 
animals, who doubtless smelt the water, as mules 
always do, from a great distance, seemed to rouse 
themselves to new exertions. A rapid drive of four 
miles brought us to the encampment, which proved to 
be a train of about sixty large wagons, with govern- 
ment stores, bound for El Paso. It belonged to Mr. 
Coons, and left Indianola, on the coast, in April, and 
San Antonio in June last. After sustaining extensive 
losses of wagons and animals, they arrived here fifty- 
six days before us, and were forced to remain, as 
there was not water between this place and El Paso 
for so large a number of animals as they had with 
them. The distance was said to be about one hun- 
dred miles. Their wagons were mostly drawn by 
oxen, which could not travel more than fifteen miles 


a day, and would therefore require six days to reach 
their place of destination. The train here was in 
charge of Mr. Percy, who, after waiting several weeks 
in the hope that there would be rain, had sent a mes- 
senger to the commanding officer at El Paso, inform- 
ing him of his situation, and requesting assistance. 
Parties were now on their way from the Rio Grande, 
bringing water in barrels, which were to be deposited 
at several points for the use of the animals, to enable 
them to complete their journey. 

On approaching the encampment we were sur- 
rounded by sixty or seventy teamsters, who, ragged, 
dirty, and unshaven, crowded around us; for, with 
the exception of Mr. Thurber and his party, who had 
stopped here the day before, they had seen no one 
from the "States" since their departure from San 
Antonio in June. They had had a long and painful 
journey to this place, and suffered much for the want 
of water. Their animals had given out in many places, 
which had caused hundreds to be left behind; and 
many of their wagons had been disabled or rendered 
useless for want of means to draw them. Besides 
draught animals, a large herd, embracing several hun- 
dred beef cattle, had been driven with the train ; 
and among these there had been great mortality. The 
stray cattle we had seen, and a few of which we had 
secured, were doubtless some which had luckily been 
left near a spot where there was grass and water, 
which enabled them to recover their strength. 

Mr. Percy, the gentleman in charge of the wagons, 
gave us a warm reception, and kindly offered to let me 
have the provisions I was so desirous to procure for the 

TO EL PASO. 125 

relief of the party I had left behind, on my giving a 
receipt for them to the U. S. Quarter-master on my 
arrival at El Paso. Having eaten nothing since day- 
light, we feasted with great relish on our cold pork and 
biscuit. Our generous host ordered supper for us, but 
we were too hungry to wait ; though I believe most of 
the party accepted his invitation, and did full justice to 
a second meal before retiring to their blankets. Mr. 
Percy, who had the only tent in his party, gave places 
to as many as could stow themselves within it. Esti- 
mated the distance travelled to-day to be thirty-eight 

November l\th. In camp at Salt Lake, near Guada- 
lupe Mountains. The lake, or rather pond, near which 
we are encamped, is a small body of water covering 
three or four acres, surrounded on all sides by an open 
prairie or plain, in which there are scattering bushes, 
with patches of pretty good grass : no trees are to be 
seen, nearer than the base of the mountain. The pond 
is resorted to by wild ducks, plover, and other water- 
fowl, in great numbers ; but the continued proximity of 
so large a body of men as Mr. Percy's party, has made 
them less plentiful and quite shy. Still I managed to 
shoot a few before breakfast. 

The following note left here by Mr. Thurber, gives 
the particulars of his journey. It was intended to be 
sent to the spring at the Guadalupe Pass. 

Coon's Camp, near Salt Lake, 
November 9, 1850. 

"Sir: After leaving you at the camp on Dela- 
ware Creek, we made the best progress the storm would 
permit. The snow balled in the feet of our animals so 


badly, that we were forced to halt about 11 o'clock at 
night. We bivouacked in the snow without fire. On 
the morning of yesterday, we were obliged to melt 
snow in order to obtain water for our breakfast. We 
found the road through the mountain, particularly in 
the gorges, much obstructed by snow of such an adhe- 
sive nature, that our animals could work their way but 
slowly, although without their riders. We found but 
little snow in the most difficult portions of the pass. 
Pratt's horse became so completely disabled, that we 
had great difficulty in urging him along, and have been 
much delayed on his account. We did not succeed in 
finding the " Ojo del Cuerpo," which, according to 
Ford and Neighbors, "breaks up in the plain;" but 
we were obliged to encamp without water for our 
animals, and with but a gill for each of ourselves. 
This morning we started very early, and soon came in 
sight of an encampment, which, on reaching it, we found 
to be Coon's train, which left San Antonio on the 10th 
June, with government supplies for El Paso. This is 
the train whose stray cattle and broken wagons have 
so frequently furnished us with food and fuel, since 
crossing the Pecos. We were received with great 
hospitality by Mr. Percy, who is in command in the 
absence of Mr. Coon. 

" I would suggest the propriety of stopping at the 
spring, at the base of the mountain, where there is 
good grazing, and to recruit the animals before 
attempting the pass. I fear we shall be obliged to 
leave Mr. Pratt here, as his horse is utterly unable to 
go on. 

" A party of men are going back as far as the spring 

TO EL PASO. 127 

alluded to above, to herd oxen. I shall send this letter 
and a small supply of sugar and coffee by them. Mr. 
Scallen, the bearer of this, will direct you to watering 
places this side of the pass, which we missed, not 
knowing where to find them. It will be necessary to 
fill up the water kegs here. The water, though smell- 
ing strongly of sulphuretted hydrogen, is not unpala- 
table. All kinds of provisions are very high and scarce 
in El Paso. Flour is $92 a barrel ; coffee, sugar, and 
pork, 50 cents per pound. We are all in good spirits, 
and move from here at noon. 

" Very truly, your obedient servant, 

" George Thurber. 

" John E. Bartlett, Esq. 

After partaking of a hearty breakfast, provided for 
us by Mr. Percy, we made preparations to start, deter- 
mined to press through, believing that we should find 
water enough for our small party at the three springs, or 
watering places, between us and the Rio Grande, which 
was yet about one hundred and eight miles off. But we 
had expectations from another source : as Mr. Daguerre, 
who had just arrived from El Paso, informed me that 
his wagons were on the way to the camp bringing 
water for Mr. Coon's train, which they were depositing 
at certain points on the road; and he most generously 
gave me permission to use it, if we found none at the 
watering places, and should require it for ourselves or 
for our animals. 

While making our preparations to start, Mr. Percy 
filled our kettle with some excellent boiled beef, bread, 


coffee, and sugar, — an acceptable addition to our stock 
of pork and hard bread, which, though very good, 
was not sufficient to carry us to our journey's end. 
In fact, but for this assistance, we must have come 
on short allowance at once. 

After putting up a barrel of pork, with a quantity 
of bread, sugar, coffee, etc., which our host undertook 
to send back immediately to the spring at the foot 
of the mountain, for the party we had left behind, 
we took leave of our good friends, and dashed off in 
fine spirits for Thome's Wells, in the mountain, called 
the " Cornudos del Alamo," or Horns of the Alamo, 
thirty-three miles distant, which I hoped to reach 
before dark. The road was most monotonous for the 
first twenty miles ; the great abundance of yuccas and 
cacti giving a strange and striking air to the vegeta- 
tion. We saw splendid specimens of a large tree-like 
cactus ( Opuntia arborescens). This is a much branched 
species, with clusters of yellow fruit at the ends of its 
long, horrible, spiny arms. Specimens were seen from 
six to ten feet high, and twenty to thirty feet in circum- 
ference. The country is slightly undulating, and not 
a level plain, as it appeared to be from the hills. The 
soil seemed barren, and in many places was covered 
with saline incrustations. Several dog-towns were 
passed. At noon, saw a great cloud of dust rising from 
the plaiD immediately ahead of us ; which, as we drew 
near, was found to proceed from ten large wagons of 
ten mules each, belonging to Mr. Daguerre, on their 
way from El Paso, to relieve the train we had just left. 
At 6 o'clock, reached the Cornudos del Alamo, towards 
which we had been journeying since our start this 

TO EL PASO. 129 

morning ; and being unable at this late hour, it being 
now dark, to find the wells in the clefts of the rocks, 
we encamped without water. This wonderful moun- 
tain, of which it is impossible to convey any adequate 
idea by description, is a pile of red granite boulders 
of gigantic size, thrown up abruptly into the plain. 
The boulders are mostly of an oblong shape, with their 
largest diameter vertical ; they are rounded and often 
highly polished. The interstices between the rocks form 
in many places extensive caverns. On the summit I 
noticed two projecting piles, or masses, which rose 
many feet above the level of the other portions in a 
conical form, resembling horns, whence I suppose 
originated the name " Horns of the Alamo" — the moun- 
tain itself being known as the Alamo. After building 
a fire near a rock (for wood was abundant around us), 
four of the party took a lantern and scrambled about 
among the rocks in search of water. It seemed a bold 
and hopeless undertaking for tiny man, guided by the 
dim light of a candle, to be probing the deep recesses 
of the mountain, and clambering over these gigantic 
boulders, which were piled up to the height of four or 
five hundred feet. But, when urged by his necessities, 
it is hard to say what he cannot accomplish. Within an 
hour, one of the party was so fortunate as to find in a 
cavity of a rock water enough to fill our tea-kettle, 
which had collected from the melting of the snow a 
few days before. After a cup of warm tea and a hearty 
supper, the carriage was drawn near the fire, when all 
bivouacked around it, and were soon lost in sleep. 

November 12th. Being spared the trouble of boiling 
coffee, for want of water to make it withal, we did not 

VOL. I. 9 


wait for breakfast, but set off before daylight. Before 
quitting the mountain, we journeyed along it for some 
distance, close to its base. We thus found a singular 
gorge, or glen, which led some fifty feet into the 
mountain, where it opened to the sky. Within this 
inner cavern-like place was a deep hole, which appeared 
to have contained water, and which we supposed to 
be the " Thome's Well" of which we had been in 
search ; but at this time, it was perfectly dry. Some 
large trees had sprung up in this singular place, and 
the rocky walls were highly polished, as if by the hand 
of man. There were other deep holes near the 
entrance, which we supposed had been dug by Cali- 
fornia emigrants in search for water. All around were 
indications that it had been a camping place for many 
parties. Near the entrance alluded to, were several 
carcasses of oxen, which had perished here before the 
well was duff. 

Resuming our journey we rode ten miles to the 
Ojos del Alamo, or Cotton- wood Springs, on a hard and 
excellent road. Our landmark for this spring was a 
single cotton-wood tree, about five hundred feet up the 
side of a mountain, on our left. As the mountain was 
otherwise bare of foliage, save a few shrubs, the tree 
was easily seen, though from below it looked more like 
a bush ; still its light yellowish green distinguished it 
perfectly from every thing around. Left the carriage at 
the base of the mountain, and clambered up to the 
springs, of which there are seven. The water was 
very good, though but little remained. Upon the 
faces of the rocks near were rude sculptures and paint- 
ings, made by the Indians. We led some of the ani- 

TO EL PASO. 131 

mals up to the springs ; and others, that would not 
make the ascent, were watered from the kegs which 
our friends had deposited at the base. Found a note 
from Mr. Thurber here, stating that his party had pre- 
ceded us two days. 

Turned our animals out to graze, as the grass was 
very good, and took breakfast. The Hueco, or Waco 
Mountains, our next landmark, lay before us here at 
twenty-five miles distance, and for them we now set 
out ; but so clear was the atmosphere that they did not 
appear more than eight or nine miles off. The road, 
which led over a rolling prairie, was excellent. Not a 
tree was seen, and scarcely a bush the entire distance. 
The grass was poor and thin. At 2 o'clock reached 
the mountain, and at once entered the pass. Just be- 
fore reaching it, the road divides, one branch leading 
to the right, the other to the left of the mountain. I 
was advised to take the latter, which was five miles 
shorter than the other, as my carriage could be easily 
lifted over a very steep place in the defile, which was 
impracticable for loaded wagons. The latter invaria- 
bly take the longer route. The descent was gradual 
and easy, and led through a narrow defile along the 
base of the mountain, which lay close on our right. 
The road was very tortuous, with small hills and deep 
ravines to cross, though unattended with difficulties, 
until, after a long descent, we were obliged to follow an 
arroyo, or stony bed of a water-course. Here the way 
was exceedingly rough, so that I feared every moment 
to see the carriage upset or broken in pieces. We 
were finally brought to a stand, where the road or path, 
if entitled to either appellation, led precipitately over 



a ledge of rocks some ten or twelve feet. How any 
wheeled vehicle ever got through here it was difficult 
to imagine. After an examination of the place, it was 
thought most prudent to take out the mules, which were 
led around the side of the defile, or through a chasm 
in the rock. We then took two ropes, and attached 
them to the hind axletree of the carriage. Wells, the 
driver, a stout and athletic man, took the tongue and 
guided the carriage over the precipice, while we let it 
carefully down by the ropes. In this way it was got 

Waco Mountain Pass. 

over m safety, and deposited on the gravelly bed of 
the defile. The mules were now hitched up again T 
and we continued our journey along the same sort of 
road for about a mile. This was an exceedingly grand 
and picturesque spot, differing from any thing we had 
seen on our route. On both sides the gray limestone 

TO EL PASO. 133 

rocks rose perpendicular like walls. From the top 
and in the crevices of these, grew a variety of shrubs. 
A low range of rounded gravelly hills, covered with 
grass, but destitute of trees, bordered the defile ; while 
about half a mile or less beyond, loomed up the great 
mountain, its almost perpendicular sides showing a 
dark brown granite from the base to its very summit. 
So steep is the mountain that it cannot be ascended 
except from the plain above. As we emerged from 
the narrow gorge, the same terraced and castellated 
rocks which we noticed at Castle Mountain appeared 
again, but in more strange and picturesque forms — now 
a fortification, and again some ruined town. These 
terraced hills opened into a plain or amphitheatre about 
three miles across, surrounded by hills and mountains, ex- 
cept on the north. Passing them, we reached the Hueco 
Tanks, and stopped beneath a huge overhanging rock. 
The mountains in which these so-called " Tanks " 
are found, are two rocky piles of a similar character to 
the Cornudos del Alamo before described. The rocks, 
however, are thrown together in still wilder confusion, 
and are of more irregular forms. One mass extends 
about a mile along the amphitheatre above mentioned, 
and is about half a mile in breadth. The other, situated 
to the south, is separated by a narrow pass from that 
described. It, too, extends about a mile from north to 
south ; but in other respects is very irregular, consisting 
of several vast heaps, quite disconnected. Much of 
this is granite in place, while gigantic boulders are 
piled up like pebble stones at its sides and on its sum-' 
mit. These piles are from one hundred to one hundred 
and fifty feet in height. 


After a little search we found water in a great cav- 
ity or natural tank in the rock about twenty feet above 
our heads, containing about fifty barrels, pure and 
sweet. This tank was covered by a huge boulder, 
weighing some hundred tons, the lower surface of 
which was but four or five feet above the water. 
Searching along the base of the mountain we found 
another cavity, where we watered our animals. There 
remained yet another hour before dark ; and as there 
was no grass near, I thought best to push on a few 
miles and stop wherever grass should be found. 

The road leads between the great rocky masses 
described above, when it enters a plain beyond. We 
had scarcely passed the mountain when we met Messrs. 
Thurber and Weems, who were returning from El Paso, 
with ten mules and two men for the assistance of our 
train, which had been promptly furnished by' Major 
Van Home. We bivouacked together, after learning 
that we should find no grass further on. It was poor 
here, and only grew in tufts about the roots of the 
mezquit chapporal ; but with the hope of terminating 
our journey on the morrow, we could rest easy. A 
supper was cooked with the brushwood of the mezquit ; 
and the evening was spent in asking a thousand ques- 
tions of our friends about what they had seen, and how 
civilized people again appeared to them. 

November 13th. Breakfasted and resumed our 
journey before daylight, having twenty-five miles to 
make before its close. About three miles from the 
Hueco Tanks we passed a range of hills, when a broad 
plain opened upon us in every direction. Here we 
first got a glimpse of Mexico, in a range of mountains 

TO EL PASO. 135 

which rises ten miles in the rear of El Paso. North- 
east of them were the El Paso Mountains, on the east- 
ern bank of the river, which unite with the Organ 
Mountains or " Sierra de los Organos," whose pinna- 
cles and jagged summits could be distinctly seen about 
sixty miles to the north-west. To the north, at a great 
distance, Mount Soledad was dimly seen ; while at the 
south the long line of horizon was only broken by low 
hills, on the Mexican side of the river. A road branched 
on just beyond the low hills we had passed, leading to 
the town of Isleta, in a southerly direction. Our 
course now lay south-west, over a sandy and desert' 
plain, covered with low mezquit chapporal. Grama 
grass grew in tufts or little patches here and there ; 
which, though dry and apparently without sustenance, 
is eagerly eaten by mules. The country was exceed- 
ingly monotonous ; and our tired animals could scarcely 
drag their loads through the deep sand, which con- 
tinued the whole way without interruption. We kept 
rising gradually over the undulating table land which 
borders the Rio Grande, until at length we reached 
its highest level. Here the valley of that long looked- 
for river opened upon us. A line of foliage of the 
richest green with occasional patches of bright yellow 
and brown marked its course. The first autumnal 
tinge, which in our northern forests so beautifully indi- 
cates the earliest frost and reminds us of the coming 
winter, is here likewise apparent. But there is not 
that diversity of hue as with us, — no rich crimson, scarlet 
and purple ; which is easily accounted for by the want 
of variety in the Mexican forest. Here the cotton- wood 
alone is found. Soon the houses were seen peeping 


from among the trees; but when the "stars and 
stripes " were discovered curling in the breeze, a thrill 
ran through our veins which must be felt by those 
situated as we were to be understood. I had often 
read of the delight with which mariners, after a long 
absence, greet the sight of their national flag in some 
distant port ; and this delight I now experienced. It 
seemed like a glimpse of home, and reminded us that 
we were approaching not only civilization, but coun- 
trymen and friends. We now descended from the 
plateau to the valley of the Rio Grande, after which a 
ride of half an hour brought us to the military post at 
El Paso del Norte. Here we were kindly received by 
the Commandant, Major Van Home, who assigned such 
quarters for us all as the place afforded. 

Our journey from San Antonio had taken us thirty- 
three days, six of which we were detained on the 
way, making twenty-seven travelling days in all. 1 
make my estimates from our rate of travelling, and 
from the distances on the map of Ford and Neighbors ; 
but adopt the measurements made by Major Bryan 
with a viameter. Some of his first camps differed from 
mine, though our trails could not have been far apart 
between Fredericksburg and the head of the Concho 
River, where we both struck the Emigrant Road, which 
we followed to the Rio Grande. 


rom San Antonio to Fredericksburg 

. 69-67 


Banon Creek 



Theudgill's Creek 

. 15-14 


Llano River 



Comanche Creek 

. 8-65 


Head of Honey Creek . 




From San Antonio to San Saba River 

" Head of Camp Creek 

South Branch of Brady's Creek 

Brady's Creek 

Head of Brady's Creek 

Kickapoo Creek 

Lipan Creek 

Antelope Creek 

South Concho . 

Dove Creek . 

Good Spring Creek . 

Lipan Camp Creek 

Green Mounds . 

Concho River 

Crossing of Concho . 

Head Springs of Concho 

Castle Mountain 

River Pecos . 

Falls of the Pecos 

Delaware Creek .... 

Independence Spring (three springs) 

Spring at foot of Guadalupe Mountain 

Spring Ojo del Cuerpo 

Cornudos del Alamo 

Ojos del Alamo 

Waco Mountains .... 

Waco Tanks .... 

Rio Grande at El Paso (say) . 





























The distance by Major Bryan's table from San An- 
tonio to Isleta on the Rio Grande is 638'02 miles. It 
is called 28 miles from the Waco Tanks to El Paso, 
which would make the distance from San Antonio to 
that place 635 miles. The distance by the southern 
route, followed by the main body of the Commission, is 
673 miles. 


A few general remarks on the country we have 
passed over seem proper here. From Indianola to 
San Antonio there is an excellent road, with wood, 
water, and grass in abundance, except between India- 
nola and Victoria, where there is but little wood. Par- 
ties should therefore provide themselves with fuel 
before starting. The soil here is admirably adapted 
to agriculture. From San Antonio to Fredericksburg, 
the road is very stony a portion of the way, the 
remainder good. The soil is excellent. Wood, water, 
and grass are always found at convenient distances, 
and in abundance. The soil continues of a good 
quality until the San Saba is reached ; from that river 
to the north fork of Brady's Creek it is not so good. 
The grass is generally light to the latter place, with 
less wood and water, though enough for parties travel- 
ling. We now begin to get on the great table-land 
of Texas, where there is little rain and a poor soil. 
Several small streams emptying into the Colorado or 
the Concho here intersect the road, on the immediate 
banks of which there are a few trees. But the inter- 
mediate country is destitute of timber, save a very few 
small oaks or mezquit. The grass too is poor, except 
near the water courses. On leaving the head waters 
of the Concho, nature assumes a new aspect. Here 
trees and shrubs disappear, except the thorny chapporal 
of the deserts; the water courses all cease, nor does 
any stream intervene until the Rio Grande is reached, 
350 miles distant, except the muddy Pecos, which, 
rising in the Rocky Mountains near Santa Fe, crosses 
the great desert plain west of the Llano Estacado, or 
Staked Plain. From the Rio Grande to the waters of 

TO EL PASO. 139 

the Pacific, pursuing a westerly course along the 32d 
parallel, near El Paso del Norte, there is no stream of 
a higher grade than a small creek. I know of none 
but the San Pedro and the Santa Cruz, the latter but 
a rivulet losing itself in the sands near the Gila, 
the other but a diminutive stream scarcely reaching 
that river. At the head waters of the Concho, 
therefore, begins that great desert region, which, with 
no interruption save a limited valley or bottom land 
along the Rio Grande, and lesser ones near the small 
courses mentioned, extends over a district embracing 
sixteen degrees of longitude, or about a thousand 
miles, and is wholly unfit for agriculture. It is a deso- 
late barren waste, which can never be rendered useful 
for man or beast, save for a public highway. It is 
destitute of forests, except in the defiles and gorges of 
the higher mountains or on their summits. Along the 
valley of the Rio Grande, which is from one and a half 
to two miles in width, there grow large cotton wood 
trees and a few mezquit ; but between this river and 
the north fork of Brady's Creek there is no timbered 

The country is well adapted for a wagon road, and 
equally so for a railway, as all desert regions are, unless 
they are sandy. From Fredericksburg, all the way to 
the Rio Grande, there is a natural road, which as a 
whole is better than half the roads in the United States 
west of the Mississippi. Yery little has been done to 
this road of nearly 600 miles to render it what it is ; 
and a little labor where the streams are crossed, with a 
bridge across the Pecos, which could be constructed 
with great ease and at a small expense, would make the 


whole of it equal to our best turnpikes. Here and 
there I would recommend a slight change in its direc- 
tion ; as for instance, near Kickapoo Creek, to avoid a 
rocky ridge ; and some improvements might be made 
near Fredericksburg : but these are trifles. The most 
important consideration is water, without which this 
route never can be made available as a great public 
highway. There is little doubt that by digging, water 
may be found on the desert between the head of the 
Concho and the Pecos. At the depressions, called 
Mustang Ponds and Wild China Ponds, where, it ap- 
pears, water has sometimes been seen, wells might 
easily be sunk and water be procured. Two watering 
places in this Jornada of sixty-nine miles would be 
quite sufficient. On the western side of the Guadalupe 
Mountain there should be another watering place ; but 
it is evident from the statements made by the party 
which had been so long encamped at the Salt Pond, 
that there exists several springs about the base of the 
mountain. Next come the Cornudos del Alamo and 
the Waco Mountains ; where there are springs, but 
which, from their not being opened, soon dry up or 
disappear. These, being at proper distances for daily 
journeys, would be suitable places to sink wells, or, 
which would be better, to open the springs already 

If it should be determined to make a great high- 
way through Texas to El Paso, and thence to Califor- 
nia, south of the Gila, neither of the present routes to 
El Paso should be adopted until a more complete ex- 
ploration has been made. I was told at El Paso, by 
Mexicans who had traversed the district east of that 

TO EL PASO. 141 

town, that water could be found in the mountains that 
separate El Paso from the Pecos, between the routes 
now taken. Should such be the case, and no impedi- 
ment exist, at least fifty miles of travel might be 
saved; and if water is not now found, it may as 
easily be obtained, by sinking wells, as on the northern 
route. The whole country, after the table-land north 
of San Antonio is reached, is well adapted to a wagon 
road or a railway ; and I doubt whether any district 
of the same extent east of the Mississippi would require 
fewer embankments and excavations than across the 
table-land of Texas. 





Losses of Animals — High price of provisions at El Paso — Excursion up the 
river — Entertainment given to the officers of the Commission by the 
civil authorities — The Bishop of Durango — Pueblo Indians — Meeting 
with General Conde, and commencement of the labors of the Joint Com- 
mission — Arrival and disposition of the main body of the United States 
Commission — Arrival of ox-train, and death of U. D. Wakeman — 
Departure of military escort for the Copper Mines — American despo- 
radoes in New Mexico — Death of E. C. Clarke — Trial and execution 
of Wade, Craig, and Butler — Trial and execution of Young — Dinner and 
ball given under difficulties— Excursion to the Sierra Waco — Indian 
pictures at the Waco Tanks — Initial point agreed upon, and survey in 
its vicinity commenced — Dep6t established at the Copper Mines — Dr. 
Webb's report on the same. 

On reaching El Paso, I feared that the ten mules 
sent out by Major Van Home to my assistance would 
be insufficient, as so many of our animals had suddenly 
given out when I left the train. On making my fears 
known to Mr. Magoffin, an American merchant here, he 
generously ordered four of his own men to take ten of 
his best mules and set off immediately to aid the train 
in getting in ; and, in consequence, it arrived in safety 
five days after. 



I have not mentioned the loss of animals, save 
on two or three occasions, although several other 
instances of this misfortune occurred to us. The fine 
horse which was bitten by a rattlesnake died a few 
days after. On the last day, two horses which had 
been led for several days lay down, and refused to go 
further. They were left within ten miles of our 
journey's end. I sent a man back immediately on my 
arrival with corn and water ; but he was too late, both 
were already dead. But though the losses of this kind 
were few on the march, they were great after we got 
in. There were no sheds or barns in which the animals 
could be placed to protect them from the cold winds 
which prevailed at this season of the year ; and the 
grass was very poor. I procured corn for them at 
once, and sent them to a grove a few miles above the 
town, where they would be better protected than if 
running at large over the open plain. But about a 
week after my arrival a severe norther came on, 
bringing with it the cold blasts from the snowy moun- 
tains, which had such an effect upon the poor crea- 
tures, that twelve or fourteen mules and horses perished. 

Provisions of all kinds were exceedingly high at 
this time : flour, thirty-two dollars a barrel ; pork, 
sugar, and coffee, fifty cents a pound ; and other articles 
in proportion. Corn too, was selling at eight dollars 
a fanega of two and five-eighths bushels. The arrival 
of my party rather tended to increase prices ; for the 
population was so limited, that the addition of forty 
men and sixty animals, with a knowledge that a large 
train with the main body of the Commission and its 
escort would soon arrive, led the owners of such pro- 

EL PASO. 145 

perty to keep up the rates. The Government, how- 
ever, had given me authority, in cases of necessity, to 
call upon the United States Commissaries of Subsist- 
ence for provisions ; and hence the immediate wants 
of my party were provided for by the officers of this 
post. Corn and fodder for the animals, however, had 
to be purchased at the market prices. 

General Garcia Conde, the Mexican Commissioner, 
had not yet reached El Paso, though intelligence had 
been received here that he was at the city of Chihua- 
hua ; word was therefore sent to him at once, that the 
United States Commission had arrived. 

In order to make myself familiar with the country 
in the vicinity of El Paso before the Commission 
should enter upon its duties, I made an excursion, in 
which I was accompanied by Major Yan Home and 
several gentlemen of my party, over the mountain 
ridge which crosses the Rio Grande a few miles above 
the town. We passed up on the Mexican side of the 
river, crossing over to the American side at White's 
Ranch, a course which we followed in returning. About 
a mile above the town is a fall in the river, where a 
dam has been constructed, and the water raised about 
ten feet, for the purpose of irrigating the valley 
below. There are two grist mills here, one on the 
Mexican, the other on the American side of the river.. 
For the distance of eight miles, as it is called, above 
El Paso, there is no bottom land, the river breaking 
its way through the mountains the whole distance. 
The range on the eastern side, called the El Paso 
Mountains, rises to a height of about one thousand five 
hundred feet. It is a continuation of the Sierra de los 

VOL. I. — 10 


Organos, or Organ Mountains, and approaches within 
two miles of the river, where it drops off into spurs 
of about two hundred feet in height. These hills or 
spurs cross the Rio Grande, and unite with another 
range eight or ten miles to the west. It is through 
these spurs or lesser range of limestone hills that the 
river has forced its way. 

November 9 th. In company with the officers of 
the Boundary Commission, I attended to-day a public 
dinner given to us by the civil authorities of El Paso. 
The officers of the United States army, stationed oppo- 
site the town, were among the guests, as well as the 
principal citizens of the place. The dinner was served 
up in true Mexican style, with a great variety of 
dishes; and, with the exception of vegetables, of 
which there is a great deficiency in the country, the 
entertainment would have been creditable even in our 
Atlantic cities. The wine drank on the occasion was 
Champagne, claret, and vino del pais, or wine of the 
country. The latter was an excellent article, the best 
I ever found at El Paso. When the cloth was removed, 
toasts were drunk, and some songs sung. The best 
feeling existed throughout the evening, and the affair 
terminated to the satisfaction of all present. 

November 23d Accompanied by Major Van Home 
and several gentlemen of the Commission, I went to 
pay my respects to the Bishop of Durango, then on 
his return from a visit to New Mexico. He was a 
venerable man of about seventy years, with a counte- 
nance exhibiting great benevolence and intelligence. 
I found him affable and courteous in his manner, fond 
of conversation, and manifesting a deep interest in the 

EL PASO. 147 

welfare of his people in New Mexico and the northern 
states of Old Mexico, all of which are comprised in 
his diocese. From the city of Durango, where he 
resides, he had been about fifteen hundred miles, 
to the north, visiting his churches in the most extreme 
points of New Mexico. He was accompanied by Dr. 
Rubio, his secretary. In his journey north of El Paso, 
when he entered the territories of the United States, 
the Bishop received every attention from the civil 
and military authorities, and was furnished with 
escorts by the latter through such portions of the 
country as could not be traversed in safety without. 
His gratitude for this kindness was warmly expressed. 
He made particular inquiries about the United States 
Boundary Commission, the duties intrusted to it, the 
character of the country it would have to explore, the 
Indian tribes, etc., etc. 

The next day we rode over to El Paso, to attend 
mass, and hear a discourse from the Bishop. His con- 
gregation was large and attentive. Crowds of well 
dressed persons were assembled around the exterior 
of the church, unable to gain admission. This was a 
fine occasion to see the people, as there was a general 
turn out. The women all wore dark rebosos, or scarfs, 
around their heads and shoulders, and in general were 
gaily dressed. The more genteel appeared in black. 
Much attention is paid to costume, and the senoritas 
fully appreciate the effect of particular colors on the 
complexion ; hence, one seldom sees in Mexico those 
delicate lilacs, pinks, and sky-blues which are so much 
worn by, and are so becoming to, the fair Anglo-Sax- 
on. Bright colors are mostly worn, which set off the 


Mexican brunettes to great advantage. After church 
we were invited by Don Guadalupe Miranda to par- 
take of refreshments at his house. Grapes, apples, 
and pears were served up, together with El Paso wine. 
The grapes were as fresh and plump as when gathered. 
In the afternoon, the Bishop, Dr. Rubio, and Padre 
Ortiz, accompanied by several of their friends, called 
on me. I served up a collation of such things as nry 
commissariat could furnish ; though the carte was 
rather limited, as the train which contained our pro- 
visions had not yet arrived. 

November 25th. Crossed the river on horseback to 
make some purchases in the town ; and while there, 
met a party of Pueblo Indians, who were just entering. 
The men were chiefly dressed after the manner of the 
lower class of Mexicans. They wore short jackets, 
decorated with innumerable bell-buttons, and dark 
pantaloons with similar buttons, open at the outside 
from the hip to the ankle, with large white trowsers 
beneath. The women all wore short black dresses, 
reaching just below the knees, with a thin white muslin 
mantle thrown over their shoulders. A bright red 
silk shawl was tied around their waists, and they had 
bunches or bows of gay ribbons in their hair. All 
their faces were painted alike, with a spot of vermilion 
on each cheek, surrounded by a border of small white 
dots. The women held in each hand a large turkey 
feather, which they moved up and down, keeping time 
with their music. The men carried flint muskets, and 
one of them a drum, on which he was beating con- 
stantly. All joined in singing a monotonous tune, and, 
when they reached the church, stopped and commenced 

EL PASO. 149 

dancing. They formed lines similar to those made 
for a contra dance by us, passing through a variety of 
figures and marchings. From the perfect regularity 
with which they went through these figures, they must 
have followed some established forms. The Indians 
belong to the old Piro tribe, and dwell in the same 
village of Sinecu which their ancestors occupied two 
centuries ago. They are now dwindled to about 
eighty souls ; and but few of these are pure stock. 
Their language is retained by them, though less used 
than the Spanish. Another generation will probably 
extinguish the language ; though the mixed race may 
long occupy their present ground, and retain the 
manners and customs of their forefathers. 

November 28tJi. About 8 o'clock in the evening, 
Captain Barry and Mr. C. J. Sheldon arrived from our 
large train, which they left about two hundred miles 
behind, having been sent in advance to procure mules 
and forage. They had, like ourselves, experienced 
very severe weather ; and their animals were so much 
reduced, that it had been feared they could not reach 
the settlements. They also informed me that the wag- 
ons and carts drawn by oxen, being unable to keep up 
with the mule train, had been left behind some weeks 
earlier, with all the provisions not necessary to bring 
the party with the mule train in. I regretted exceed- 
ingly to hear this news, as the military escort under 
Colonel Craig was with Colonel McClellan and the mule 
train, while the ox train, containing much valuable 
property in addition to the provisions, was in charge 
of only a wagon-master and a few men. Word was 
sent me by the Commissary that it would be necessary 


to procure at once some provisions, to be ready on the 
arrival of the mule train ; as the officer in command had 
not taken enough to bring them through, and he had 
been compelled to call upon Colonel Craig for a sup- 
ply already. By the gentleman alluded to, I received 
a mail with important dispatches from the government, 
apprising me that Colonel McClellan, the chief astro- 
nomer of the Commission, was removed, and that Colo- 
nel J. D. Graham would be appointed to fill his place. 

I made arrangements at once, with the United 
States Commissary of Subsistence at El Paso, to furnish 
provisions for the expected party, which were placed 
at San Eleazario, a town about twenty-five miles below, 
where quarters could be procured for them during 
the cold weather, or until they entered the field for 
active duty. The flour being of a very fair quality 
made at El Paso, I contracted for a supply, at ten and 
a half cents a pound, about twenty dollars a barrel. 
For corn, the Quarter-master was compelled to pay 
six dollars and a half a fanega, or about two dollars and 
a half a bushel. 

December 1st. General Pedro Garcia Conde, with 
the other officers of the Mexican Commission, reached 
El Paso to-day. 

December 2d. Received a note this morning from 
General Conde, announcing his presence, and his readi- 
ness to carry out the agreement entered into by the 
Joint Commission in California, on the 15th February 
last. I replied immediately, congratulating him on 
his safe arrival, and stated that I would do myself the 
honor of calling upon him at 12 o'clock. 

At the appointed time I crossed the river, accom- 

EL PASO. 151 

parried by Major Van Home, Lieutenant Wilkins, Dr. 
Webb, Secretary of the Commission, and Mr. J. C. 
Cremony, Interpreter. We met General Conde, with 
his officers and engineers; also Colonel Langberg, a 
Swedish officer in the Mexican army, who was then in 
command of a body of troops just arrived from Chi- 
huahua, for the protection of the frontier against the 
Indians. The interview was an agreeable one, the 
engineers connected with the Mexican Commission 
being gentlemen of education, and graduates of the 
Military School at Chepultepec. The Interpreter was 
Don Felipe de Iturbide, the younger son of the 
late Emperor. 

I expressed a desire to General Conde to proceed 
to business as soon as possible, as we had a large 
number of engineers and other scientific men in our 
party, who were anxious to enter their field of labor. 
The General acquiesced in my wishes, and said he 
would meet me to-morrow at my quarters. 

December 3d. General Conde, with his son Don 
Augustin Conde, who acts as his Secretary, and Don 
Felipe de Iturbide, called by appointment at 10 o'clock, 
A. m., when the first meeting of the Joint Commission to 
run and mark the boundary between the United States 
and the Republic of Mexico, under the treaty of Guada- 
lupe Hidalgo, took place. Two hours and a half were 
spent at this first session, when we adjourned to meet at 
the quarters of General Conde the following day. 

The meetings of the Joint Commission were held 
twice a week after this, though there were interruptions 
at times from the ice in the river, which prevented 
parties from crossing. Great difficulties were pre- 


sented, in consequence of errors in the map to which 
the Commissioners were strictly confined; so that I 
feared we should not be able to agree upon the 
southern boundary of New Mexico. This is a line 
connecting the Rio del Norte with the Gila. Accord- 
ing to the treaty map (which is Disturnell's Map of 
Mexico, of 1847), the point where the Rio Grande or 
Del Norte, strikes the southern boundary of New 
Mexico, is in latitude 32° 22' north. Thence it runs 
westward three degrees to 107° 40' longitude west 
from Greenwich. 

On the 9th of December, the main body of the 
Commission, which I left at San Antonio, reached San 
Eleazario, and went into quarters at that place and at 
Socorro, a town six miles north of it. It was impossible 
to find quarters for all at either place. My official duties 
required me at El Paso, where about a dozen officers 
and laborers were quartered. Quarter-master Myer, 
with the mules, wagons, etc., and Mr. George F. 
Bartlett, Commissary, with the subsistence stores, were 
established at Socorro, while Lieutenant A. W. Whipple, 
who (by order of the Secretary of the Interior) had 
been appointed Chief Astronomer, ad interim, had set 
up his Astronomical Observatory at San Eleazario. 
The officers, mechanics, laborers, etc., were divided 
between the two places where their services were most 

January 8th. There was quite an excitement 
to-day, in consequence of a theft by the Indians of 
forty mules belonging to Mr. Magoffin, while they 
were grazing in charge of four men on the plateau, 
three miles from my quarters (then at Mr. Magoffin's 

EL PASO. 153 

house), and about the same distance from the military 
post. A party of the Commission immediately volun- 
teered to go in pursuit. The best horses to be had 
were procured as soon as possible ; and each man, 
taking a rifle, a six-shooter, and a blanket, was in the 
saddle within two hours after the news of the robbery 
reached us. They soon fell on the robbers' trail, which 
they followed for some distance towards the Waco 
Mountain, when it turned north-west. They continued 
on until the trail struck the Santa Fe road, when they 
gave up the pursuit and returned the next day. 

January 9th. The ox train left behind by Colonel 
McClellan arrived at San Eleazario to-day, having 
suffered severe hardships on the route. It left San 
Antonio, as I have before stated, with the main body 
of the Commission, on the 14th of October, and had 
therefore been nearly three months on the way. On 
the 8th of December a sad event took place, which 
resulted in the death of Mr. U. B. Wakeman, the 
wagon-master in charge of the train. The circum- 
stances as related to me are as follows : With the train 
there was a Captain Dobbins, formerly of the United 
States Army, who had been cashiered for some mis- 
conduct. This individual, being a personal friend of 
Colonel McClellan, induced the latter to give him 
employment as a kind of guide and hunter for his party ; 
to which arrangement, being unacquainted with the 
man's history and character, I consented. On leaving 
the ox train behind, the Colonel directed Dobbins to 
remain with it. On the day alluded to, Mr. Wakeman 
was occupied in hunting up the oxen, and did not 
return till late at night, when he found some parties 


gambling. He ordered it to be stopped, and Dobbins 
refused to obey. High words arose, when Dobbins 
rashed from his tent and discharged his revolver twice 
at Mr. Wakeman, both balls taking effect. He died of 
his wounds ten days after. 

On the arrival of the train, Captain Dobbins surren- 
dered himself to the authorities, underwent an exami- 
nation, and was acquitted on the testimony of some of 
the teamsters, who alleged that he had acted in self- 

January Y%th. Rode to Bona Ana, a small town 
on the eastern branch of the Rio Grande, where we 
have a military post, under the command of Major 
Shepard. The distance, which is 56 miles, was made 
between 9 o'clock, a. m., and 6 o'clock, p. m., in my 
carriage, drawn by four mules. The only intermediate 
town is Las Cruces, eight miles from Dona Ana. 

As Colonel Craig was here with the escort of the 
Commission, which he was about to march to the 
Copper Mines on account of the advantages which he 
believed that region offered as a camping-place, I 
requested Dr. Webb, Mr. George Thurber, and Mr. 
Cremony to avail themselves of the protection of the 
escort, and examine that district of country, and the 
old town there, as to their capabilities with reference 
to water, wood, grass, buildings, etc. I transferred 
my carriage to them, understanding that a good road 

* I derive my information from documents sent to me, which are 
printed in Senate Document No. 119, 32d Congress, 1st session, 
pages 496, 497, and 498. The particulars of the examination which 
took place at San Eleazario, were never furnished me, and I only know 
from hearsay the' grounds on which Captain Dobbins was acquitted. 

EL PASO. 155 

would be found most of the way. In addition to these, 
a train of twenty large wagons, belonging to S. Hart, 
Esq., loaded with corn and provisions for the escort, was 
going at the same time, and would open a road wher- 
ever it was necessary. On the 16th, I set out on my 
return to El Paso, and arrived there the following day. 

During my absence, the Indians made another 
descent upon the inclosure near Mr. Magoffin's house 
in which he kept his mules, and stole thirty. Several 
men were sleeping in the wagons within the corral at 
the same time ; yet so quietly was the robbery com- 
mitted, that the loss was not discovered till morning. 

When the Boundary Commission landed on the 
shores of Texas in August, 1850, it was necessary to 
employ about fifty teamsters, and many laborers, cooks, 
etc. ; and the Quarter-master, whose duty it was to 
engage the former, was obliged to take such as offered 
themselves, giving the preference, of course, to such as 
could produce testimonials of good character. He 
found many who had been in the government employ, 
who had good testimonials ; but there were others who 
possessed no such credentials. Hence several men 
who afterwards turned out to be worthless characters 
obtained menial places in the Commission. On the 
arrival of the several parties at El Paso and San Elea- 
zario, it was necessary to discharge a large number, 
chiefly of the teamsters ; and such as were found to be 
of bad habits or vicious disposition were paid off and 
discharged. There were also many very good men, 
who, having families at San Antonio, engaged only for 
the trip, and who, on being paid off, returned imme- 
diately to that place. 


Other trains which had preceded us, and some that 
arrived about the same time that we did from New 
Mexico, including emigrant trains bound for California, 
were disbanded here, leaving numbers of the outcasts 
of society referred to, with little means of support. 
But means or money were not of much consequence to 
these people : for their habits of gambling were such, 
that those who had money soon got rid of it. 

The discharging of so many worthless and vagabond 
men at Socorro, where the trains usually made it their 
rendezvous, threw upon the peaceful inhabitants of that 
place a set of ruffians, who, by daily increase of 
numbers, had become so formidable, that the life of no 
one was considered safe beyond the walls of his own 
house. And even within them, there was no security ; 
for several of these men had actually forced themselves 
upon the occupants, and compelled them to give them 
a home. Unused to such interlopers, and unable to ' 
obtain redress, several Mexican families abandoned 
their dwellings, and sought refuge on the opposite side 
of the river, or removed to other settlements. 

The first check given to this band of gamblers, 
horse thieves, and murderers, was the arrival of the 
United States Boundary Commission at Socorro. The 
presence of a body of well armed, well disposed, and 
spirited young men, tended to make these ruffians more 
circumspect for a time ; but as the former were grad- 
ually drafted off, to enter upon the duties connected 
with the Survey, the latter became more overbearing 
and insolent in their conduct. Houses were opened for 
the indulgence of every wicked passion ; and each mid- 
night hour heralded new violent and often bloody scenes 

EL PASO. 157 

for the fast filling record of crime. The peaceable 
Mexicans hastened to pack their little store of worldly 
wealth, and, with their wives and children, fled from 
the rapidly depopulating village. Every new outrage 
escaping the notice of those in authority gave addi- 
tional boldness to the desperate gang surrounding us. 
None dared stir from home without being doubly 
armed, and prepared to use their weapons at a 
moment's warning ; for the turning of a corner might 
bring one to the muzzles of a dozen pistols. 

After several murders had been committed, and 
horror and dismay filled the breasts of the orderly 
part of the community, it was resolved to ask for 
assistance from the military post at San Eleazario, 
six miles distant. A note was written by the Quarter- 
master and the engineers, giving a history of what 
had occurred, and representing the alarming condition 
of things at the time. The messenger returned with 
an answer from the commanding officer, declining to 
furnish any assistance, on the ground that the applica- 
tion should first be made to the civil authorities.* 

In the evening, a dancing party was given in the 
place, an almost nightly amusement in all Mexican and 

* I am indebted to a gentleman of high standing connected 
with the Commission for the particulars of the death of Mr. Clarke, 
and the trial and execution of his murderers. He was stationed at 
Socorro when the events transpired, and was often brought in contact 
with the principal actors in them. He attended the trial of all, and 
took down the confession of Young, the man last executed. From 
others equally conspicuous, and who were also residents there at the 
time, I bave received similar accounts. I do not think, therefore, there 
is any exaggeration in the narrative, but believe that what is stated is 
strictly true. 


frontier towns, which, as usual, was attended by quite 
a mixed company. As these dancing parties, called 
" fandangos," are open to all, the vagabonds prowling 
about at the time were numerously represented on the 
occasion referred to, and made themselves conspicu- 
ous by their conduct. Pistols were fired over the 
heads of the females, who, in their alarm, attempted to 
escape from the room ; but this was prevented by 
ruffians stationed at the door. By this time there was 
a great excitement within, and several desperadoes 
commenced using their bowie-knives. Mr. Edward C. 
Clarke, the Assistant Quarter-master of the Commission, 
who was present on the occasion, was the first person 
upon whom the ruffians attempted to satiate their 
thirst for blood. Four attacked him with their knives, 
and he fell near the door dreadfully wounded. He 
was immediately taken to the quarters of Dr. Bigelow, 
the surgeon of the Commission, who, on examination, 
found he had received nine or ten deep wounds, 
inflicted with bowie-knives, in his breast and abdo- 
men. Another man named Gates was also wounded 
by a pistol-shot in the leg. Dr. Bigelow at once pro- 
nounced the wounds of Mr. Clarke mortal, and he 
died the following morning. 

When the startling announcement was made, that 
an officer of the Commission had been foully murdered 
by the wretches whose lawlessness had before gone 
too long unchecked, the question arose, what was to 
be done? Aid from the military had been refused. 
The alcalde of the village, a weak and sickly imbecile, 
had transferred his authority to another even more 
timid and less reliable than himself; yet this person 

EL PASO. 159 

was invested with the powers of a justice of the peace, 
by authority of a commission from the State of Texas, 
and constituted the entire civil authority at Socorro. 

In this alarming condition of affairs, the members 
of the Boundary Commission present were compelled 
to move in the matter, and resolve upon some plan to 
protect not only their own lives and property, but 
also those of the trembling and dismayed population 
about them. Messengers were immediately sent to 
San Eleazario, for assistance from the main body of the 
Commission, there engaged in various duties. The 
call was promptly responded to ; and in about three 
hours a party of Mexicans and Americans were col- 
lected together. They hastily armed themselves, and, 
joined by members of the Commission, proceeded at 
once to Socorro, where many of the citizens were 
already assembled awaiting them. The force was now 
divided into several parties, and a systematic search 
at once commenced to ferret out the murderers. 
Every house was examined, and eight or nine persons 
arrested ; but a man named Young, who had been 
most conspicuous in the affray, was not to be found, 
having, it was said, escaped from the village in the 
morning. The prisoners were immediately conducted 
by an armed guard to the house of Justice Berthold, 
where a court was instituted to suit the emergencies 
of the case. Juries were summoned and sworn, a pro- 
secuting attorney named, and counsel for the defence 
offered to the prisoners, which they declined, treating 
the offer as a jest, and making vulgar and obscene 
remarks upon their position. Nevertheless, an indivi- 
dual tendered his services for the defence, and occa- 


sionally cross-questioned the witnesses. The prisoners 
were evidently under the impression that nothing 
would be done, believing that, by the mutual under- 
standing between them, they could easily swear them- 
selves out of the difficulty. The examinations were 
conducted with propriety, and the prisoners made to 
keep silence by the resolute demeanor of the citizens 

In selecting the jury, six were taken from the 
Mexican citizens of Socorro, and six from the Boun- 
dary Commission, as there were no other Americans 
in the place. The presiding magistrate, Justice, Ber- 
thold, was a highly respectable citizen, long resident 
there, of French origin. 

It is doubtful whether in the whole history of trial 
by jury a more remarkable scene than the one here 
presented was ever exhibited. The trial took place 
in one of the adobe or mud-built houses peculiar to the 
country, which was dimly lighted from a single small 
window. Scarcely an individual was present who had 
not the appearance and garb of men who spend their 
lives on the frontier, far from civilization and its soften- 
ing influences. Surrounded as we had been, and now 
were, by hostile Indians, and constantly mingling with 
half civilized and renegade men, it was necessary to go 
constantly armed. No one ventured half a mile from 
home without first putting on his pistols ; and many 
carried them constantly about them, even when within 
their own domicils. But, on the present occasion, cir- 
cumstances rendered it necessary for safety, as well as 
for the purpose of warning the desperate gang who 
were now about to have their deserts, that all should 

EL PASO. 161 

be doubly armed. In the court room, therefore, where 
one of the most solemn scenes of human experience 
was enacting, all were armed save the prisoners. 
There sat the judge, with a pistol lying on the table 
before him ; the clerks and attorneys wore revolvers 
at their sides; and the jurors were either armed with 
similar weapons, or carried with them the unerring 
rifle. The members of the Commission and citizens, 
who were either guarding the prisoners or protecting 
the court, carried by their sides a revolver, a rifle, or 
a fowling-piece, thus presenting a scene more charac- 
teristic of feudal times than of the nineteenth century. 
The fair but sunburnt complexion of the American 
portion of the jury, with their weapons resting against 
their shoulders, and pipes in their mouths, presented 
a striking contrast to the swarthy features of the 
Mexicans, muffled in checkered serapes, holding their 
broad-brimmed glazed hats in their hands, and delicate 
cigarritos in their lips. The reckless, unconcerned 
appearance of the prisoners, whose unshaven faces and 
dishevelled hair gave them the appearance of Italian 
bandits rather than of Americans or Englishmen; 
the grave and determined bearing of the bench ; the 
varied costume and expression of the spectators and 
members of the Commission, clad in serapes, blankets, 
or overcoats, with their different weapons, and gene- 
rally with long beards, made altogether one of the most 
remarkable groups which ever graced a court room. 

Two days were occupied in the examination and 
trial : for one immediately followed the other. In the 
mean time, a military guard of ten men had been 
promptly sent to our aid by Major Van Home, the 

VOL. I. 1 1 


commanding officer at El Paso, on my requisition : so 
that the open threats which had been made by the 
friends of the prisoners during the first day of the trial, 
were no longer heard ; for they now saw that the 
strong arm of the law would triumph. 

The second day, a member of the Commission who 
manifested a deep interest in the prisoners, was re- 
quested by one of them to act as his counsel ; but his 
efforts to prove an alibi, to impeach the testimony of 
some of the witnesses, and to establish the previous good 
character of the defendant, proved utterly futile. The 
prisoners were then heard in their own defence ; but 
they could advance nothing beyond the mere assertion 
of their innocence. At the close of the testimony, an 
attempt was made by one of the friends of the prison- 
ers to postpone the trial, for the purpose, as he stated, 
of obtaining counsel and evidence from El Paso. But 
the court had been apprised of the existence of a plot 
for attempting a rescue that night, and accordingly 
the request was refused. 

The evidence being closed, a few remarks were 
now made by the prosecuting attorney, followed by 
the charge of the Judge, when the case was given to 
the Jury. In a short time they returned into court 
with a verdict of guilty, against William Craig, Marcus 
Butler, and John Wade; upon whom the Judge then 
pronounced sentence of death. 

The prisoners were now escorted to the little plaza 
or open square in front of the village church ; where 
the priest met them, to give such consolation as his 
holy office would afford. But their conduct, notwith- 
standing the desire on the part of all to afford them 

EL PASO. 163 

every comfort their position was susceptible of, con- 
tinued reckless and indifferent, even to the last moment. 
Butler alone was affected. He wept bitterly, and 
excited much sympathy by his youthful appearance, 
being but 21 years of age. His companions begged 
him " not to cry, as he could die but once ! " 

The sun was setting when they arrived at the place 
of execution. The assembled spectators formed a 
guard around a small alamo, or poplar tree, which had 
been selected for the gallows. It was fast growing 
dark, and the busy movements of a large number of 
the associates of the condemned, dividing and collect- 
ing again in small bodies at different points around 
and outside of the party, and then approaching nearer 
to the centre, proved that an attack was meditated, if 
the slightest opportunity should be given. But the 
sentence of the law was carried into effect. 

The entire proceedings were intensely interesting, 
and the scene of a character which none present desired 
ever again to witness. The calm but determined 
citizens on the one side, and the daring companions 
of the condemned wretches on the other, remained 
throughout keenly on the watch: the first for the 
protection of life, and the support of good order in the 
community, the other with the malicious eyes of dis- 
appointed and infuriated demons, who, to rescue their 
companions, would have been willing to sacrifice a 
hundred additional lives. * 

All three of the criminals had been connected with 
the Boundary Commission. Wade was an Englishman, 
and had driven one of the teams in my small party. 
He was found to be a desperate villain, and I took the 


first opportunity to discharge him on my arrival at El 
Paso. Craig was a cook in the main body of the Com- 
mission, and a Scotchman by birth. Butler was an 
American. He joined the train under Col. McClellan, 
after it had left San Antonio, in some menial capacity, 
and was discharged on arriving at Socorro. He was 
accused of having murdered a Mexican near Eagle 
Pass, and was fleeing when he met the train of the 

Socorro now resumed its previous quiet and good 
order ; for the authorities had directed all persons who 
were unconnected with the Commission, and were 
without any employment, to leave the place within 
twenty -four hours. This, however, was hardly neces- 
sary : for the guilty and vagabond throng had already 
begun to depart, and before the close of another day 
all had left. But there was one other, and he the 
principal actor in all the scenes I have related, who 
was yet to be apprehended and made to pay the 
penalty of his great crimes, before the demands of 
justice were answered. 

Four hundred dollars were subscribed by the 
members of the Commission, and offered as a reward 
for the apprehension of Alexander Young, the ring- 
leader of the gang of desperadoes, and his delivery at 
Socorro. Volunteer parties set out in all directions, 
tempted by the prospect of gaining the large sum 
offered, and at length word was brought that he had 
been arrested at Guadalupe. Thus another unpleasant 
duty immediately presented itself; but it was impossible 
to avoid it. 

The prisoner arrived in the evening, and was placed 

EL PASO. 165 

in confinement, well chained and guarded. During 
the night, he was visited in jail. It was observed that 
the careless, dogged look had left his eye, and was 
replaced by a supplicating glance that told plainly of 
a change within. He was anxious to know if either of 
the three who had been executed had made a confes- 
sion, and said he had given up all hopes of life. Being 
asked if he wished to write to any one, he answered 
that he would like to have a letter written to his 
mother, who had not heard from him for six years past. 
The letter was written, and the prisoner appeared much 
affected. He confessed the truth of the charges against 
him, criminating clearly, and to a still greater extent, 
the three who were hung first, besides many others. 

At 10 o'clock the following morning, February 
12th, the court again met, and a jury was empanelled. 
At the opening of the court, a letter of the prisoner, 
containing his confession, was read publicly, then 
signed by himself, and witnessed by certain members 
of the court and other individuals present. 

With the testimony already before the court, the 
jury could have brought in an immediate verdict : but 
it was deemed advisable to present other evidence, to 
show still further the unmistakable guilt of every one 
who had been punished; especially as one or two 
persons, who passed ■ for honest and honorable men, 
were interested in upholding the character of their 
associates. The prisoner was found guilty, and sen- 
tenced to be hanged. At 4 o'clock, p. m., of the same 
day, he was taken to the church ; where, with penitent 
lips, and on bended knees, he made his final confession, 
received the blessing of the priest, and from thence 


was taken to the spot where he was to be executed. 
His last request for himself was that he might be 
buried as respectably as the circumstances of his case 
would admit. While standing under the tree, with 
the rope around his neck, he begged to be allowed 
to say a few words to those around. He exhorted 
those both younger and older than himself, to take 
warning from his example. They could see what 
gambling, swearing, drinking, and an ungovernable 
temper, with evil associates, had brought him to. He 
had run away from home at the age of fourteen, 
and would never see that home again. With other 
remarks of like character, he concluded. At half past 
4 o'clock, p. m., the law was carried into effect, using 
the same tree where the three others were executed. 
Young was a native of one of the western States. He 
had been several years on the Mexican frontier, and 
was well known in Texas as a most desperate character. 

The well-merited punishment of these four men 
was highly applauded and justified by both the civil 
and military authorities of the frontier. Such an 
example had been needed for some time. The vicinity 
was now rid of gangs of worthless desperadoes ; and 
as a Mexican citizen of the peaceable old town of 
Socorro remarked, " We can now sit in the evening at 
the doors of our houses, and not be obliged, as before, 
to retire »with the sunlight, fix bolts and bars, and 
huddle into corners with fear and trembling." 

February 22d. In return for the civilities extended 
to me and the officers of the Commission by the autho- 
rities of El Paso, I gave a dinner to the Mexican Com- 
mission and the public authorities, which came off y ester- 

EL PASO. 167 

day 5 several officers of the United States army stationed 
here were also among the guests. In the evening, I 
invited the principal citizens of the town to a ball 
and supper, and was honored by the attendance of 
about fifty ladies. Mr. Magoffin, whose house, in 
which I had my quarters, was the most spacious on the 
river, threw the whole open for the occasion, giving 
me thereby ample accommodations for the large party 
which had assembled. But as the greater portion of 
the company lived on the opposite bank of the river, 
it was no easy matter to get them together. I there- 
fore sent my carriage, and others that were kindly 
furnished me, for my guests ; and as it was between 
three and four miles from my quarters to El Paso, 
including the fording of the Rio Grande, it was neces- 
sary to begin fetching them at the unfashionable hour 
of four o'clock in the afternoon. The river had to be 
forded by daylight, in consequence of the frequent 
changes in the channel and the bars.* 

I was quite at a loss for furniture and fittings for 
my entertainment. Chairs were borrowed of the 

* Accidents often happened in fording the river at night. But a 
short time previous a party of Americans, with ladies, in attempting to 
cross when it was quite dark, missed their way, and nearly perished. 
Their carriage remained more than an hour filled with water in the 
middle of the river. They could not land except at the regular fording 
place, as the banks were steep : and they were only rescued by making 
themselves heard by people near the shore. I once got into a similar 
dilemma myself. I and my companions had to get out of the carriage 
windows and stand upon the tops of the wheels, while the driver was 
sent for assistance. Several Mexicans came, and, taking one on each 
of their backs, carried us safely on shore, though a little the worse for 
our immersion. 


neighbors far and near ; but even with these I had not 
half seats enough for the company. This, however, 
proved no great inconvenience ; for the Mexican ladies, 
preferring to sit a la Turk, formed a double row 
around the dancing room. The senoras occupied the 
trunks, chairs, and settees, and the senoritas the 
carpet in front. My friends in the vicinity kindly 
furnished me with tables, lamps, dishes, and such other 
necessaries as the occasion required. To light the 
large hall properly most tried my ingenuity ; but this 
difficulty was overcome by means of a new-fashioned 
chandelier improvised by one of our gentlemen for 
the occasion. Sockets for the candles were first 
required ; and these were constructed out of the tin 
boxes in which sardines had been preserved. Next, 
a hoop from a pork barrel was divested of its bark, 
and wrapped around with binding of a bright scarlet 
hue, which had been brought out to decorate the 
heads of the fair Apaches and Comanches, as well as 
the tails and manes of their animals. Into this hoop 
or frame the tin sockets were fixed, and the whole 
supported by several loops of the same elegant mate- 
rial fastened to a common centre. Such was the style 
and origin of our chandeliers, with their dozen burners 
each ; four of which, suspended from the ceiling, shed 
such a ray of light upon the festal hall, as ren- 
dered the charms of the fair senoritas doubly capti- 
vating. The evening passed off pleasantly; and all 
danger of crossing the river was obviated by the com- 
pany remaining till eight o'clock the following morning. 
After treating all to a cup of coffee, the carriages and 
other vehicles were ordered up, and the company 
conducted safelv to their homes. 

EL PASO. 169 

March 8th. Major Shepard, commanding at Dona 
Ana, gave me information to-day that seven soldiers 
belonging to Colonel Craig's command, had deserted 
from our escort at the Copper Mines, and wished me 
to aid him in having them arrested and brought back. 
With this view, I rode over immediately to the quar- 
ters of General Conde, at El Paso, accompanied by 
Major Van Home, to ask his co-operation. The Gene- 
ral agreed to send a courier at once to the military 
commandant at Chihuahua, three hundred and twenty 
miles distant, requesting him to take such measures as 
would lead to the capture and restoration of the 
deserters, if they should be seen at any of the military 
posts on the frontier. 

March 28th. Made up a little party of nine per- 
sons, besides a cook and servant, for an excursion to 
the Sierra Waco, about thirty miles distant, the last, 
stopping place on our journey from San Antonio. It 
was so interesting a spot, and our stop there was so 
short, that I determined at the time to take an opportu- 
nity to revisit it, in order to make a more thorough ex- 
amination. We left at eight o'clock, a. m., with my 
carriage and one wagon for camp equipage, cooking 
utensils, and provisions, all the gentlemen going on 
horseback or on mules. After a very tedious ride over 
a sandy road, we reached the tanks at four in the 
afternoon, and encamped near a natural cavern in the 
rocks, where we found excellent water. As this was 
a favorite place of resort for the Apaches, we did 
not feel safe until we had climbed the rocks which 
overhung our place of encampment, and searched for 
" Indian sign." We found many traces of visitors, 


such as the marks of mules, on the very summit of the 
rock, but none recent. A party had evidently been 
there some time before us, which, for concealment, 
had taken their animals to the top of the rock in pre- 
ference to leaving them below. 

March 29th. The night had been cold, but to-day 
it was quite warm. Rambled over the great rocky 
mass to see what could be found of interest. Discov- 
ered several pools or tanks of clear and beautiful water, 
where it had collected from rains, or the melting of 
snows. The formation here is granite in place, rising 
from 100 to 150 feet above the surrounding plain, and 
covered with huge boulders piled up in every imagi- 
nary form. Along the sides and base these great 
boulders also lie ; whence the inference seems natural 
that this rocky mass existed before the mountains in 
the vicinity were heaved up, as there are no boulders 
on the adjacent hills. As might be supposed in such 
a heap of gigantic boulders, there are many cavern-like 
recesses which seem to have been the abode of Indians. 
In many places, too, the rock projects or overhangs ; 
and in others frightful chasms, as though rent asunder 
by some violent concussion, appear : all of which seem 
to have been known to the Indians, and in some in- 
stances long used by them as places of habitation. At 
one portion of the southern mass, nearly half a mile 
from the road, there is an overhanging rock extending 
for some distance, the whole surface of which is covered 
with rude paintings and sculptures, representing men, 
animals, birds, snakes, and fantastic figures. The 
colors used are black, red, white, and a brownish 
yellow. The sculptures are mere peckings with a 



sharp instrument, just below the surface of the rock. 
On the shelving portion of the place in question are 
several circular holes in the solid granite from twelve 
to fifteen inches deep, which the Indians have made 
and used as mortars for pounding their corn in ; similar 
ones being found all over the country where the abo- 
rigines have had their habitations. There were other 
places where they had sharpened or ground down their 
arrows and spears. The accompanying engravings 
show the character of the figures, and the taste of the 
designers. Hundreds of similar ones are painted on 
the rocks at this place ; some of them, evidently of great 


age, had been partly defaced to make room for more 
recent devices. 

The overhanging rock beneath which we encamped 
seemed to have been a favorite place of resort for the 
Indians, as it is at the present day for all passing trav- 
ellers. The recess formed by this rock is about fifteen 



feet in length, by ten in width. Its entire surface is 
covered with paintings, one laid on over the other ; so 
that it is difficult to make out those which belong to 

the aborigines. I copied a portion of these figures, 
about which there can be no doubt as to the origin. 
They represent Indians with shields and bows, painted 

with a brownish earth ; horses with their riders ; 
uncouth looking animals ; and a huge rattlesnake. 
Similar devices cover the rock in every part, but are 
much defaced. Over these are figures of late travel- 



lers and emigrants; who have taken this means to 
immortalize their names, and let posterit) r know that 
they were on their way to California. Near this over- 
hanging rock is the largest and finest tank or pool of 
water to be found about here. It is only reached by 
clambering on the hands and knees fifteen or twenty 

feet up a steep rock. Over it projects a gigantic 
boulder, which, resting on or wedged between other 
rocks, leaves a space of about four feet above the sur- 
face of the water. On the under side of this boulder 
are fantastic designs in red paint, which could only 

have been made by persons lying on their backs in 
this cool and sheltered spot. One of these, a singular 


geometric figure, I copied while resting in the same 
position secluded from the burning sun. 

In a deep cleft in the rock, on the south side of the 
road which we followed for one hundred and fifty feet 
into the interior, were many bones of wild beasts. 
Near this the hills expand, forming an amphitheatre, 
which is celebrated from its being the place where the 
Apaches used formerly to hold their councils, and the 
scene of a contest between them and the Mexicans. 
The Indians had been committing some depredations 
and murders in the settlements, and, being pursued, 
were traced to the Waco Mountains. A party' set off 
from El Paso, and surprised them in the narrow space 
or amphitheatre alluded to. The besieged retreated 
as far as possible ; and finding no chance to escape, 
they built a wall across the entrance, which is about 
one hundred feet from one perpendicular mass of rock 
to the other. Here they were kept several days, when 
they were finally overcome, and all, to the number of 
a hundred and fifty, put to death. 

In the afternoon we walked about two miles to the 
centre of the plain, which is bounded on the west by 
the great Waco Mountain, to some singular piles of 
rocks, which attracted our attention when passing 
through here in November, but were too far off the 
road for us to examine them at the time. At the 
distance of half a mile, they appear like the ruined 
walls of some great edifice ; and when first discovered, 
all exclaimed, "Ruins!" On reaching them, we found 
them to be upheaved masses of reddish granite, 
blackened by the weather, so as to present, in their 
detached position in the plain, a strong resemblance 

EL PASO. 175 

to ruined buildings. There were three groups of these 
singular rocks, a few rods apart, entirely disconnected, 
yet of the same general character. Their sides were 
perpendicular, like walls ; their height about sixty feet. 
In the crevices at their base, and on their summits, 
grew a few bushes, which added to their picturesque 
appearance. But the most singular feature about them 
was, that many portions of their exterior surface were 
as smooth and as highly polished as though they had 
been submitted to some artificial process. It was 
probably the effect of exposure for ages to the weather. 
A similar appearance was observed at Thome's Wells, in 
the Cornudos del Alamo, described on our journey from 
San Antonio. I took a sketch of these curious rocks, 
which will convey a better idea of their appearance. 

March 30^. Accompanied by a party of six, well 
armed and mounted on horses and mules, I left camp 
early in the morning to visit the great Waco Mountain. 
The mountain was about five miles distant, and the 
route lay through the very pass which we traversed 
on a former occasion. Stopped at the place where 
we let the carriage down by ropes, of which I 
took a sketch. It was one of the most grand and pic- 
turesque scenes I had witnessed on our journey up. 
There was much more vegetation here now, and Mr. 
Thurber made many additions to his collection of 
plants. It is in the beds of these mountain torrents or 
ravines, that the flora presents the greatest variety. 
Although the plants found here are adapted by their 
nature to these parched and desert regions, they nev- 
ertheless appear to seek the more secluded spots, 
which afford them a little protection from the scorching 


sun. Very few birds were descried. On reaching the 
great plain east of the mountain, we found several 
flocks of quails, of a different kind from those seen 
near the Rio Grande. These latter were all gray, like 
the northern quail ; while those on the opposite side of 
the mountain are the blue or California quail, with a 
top-knot on its head. Got a few as specimens. As 
there was time enough to ascend to the top of the 
mountain, which is accessible from the east, we went 
around and struck the road which passes on the 
opposite side. This is the route taken by wagons. It 
is four or five miles longer; and although very hilly 
and tortuous, the narrow defile and perpendicular 
descent of the opposite route is avoided. Yet I would 
prefer the latter, even for loaded wagons, if the rock 
at the place referred to was cut away, a labor easily 
accomplished. After making a circuit of the mountain, 
and collecting some specimens of insects, reptiles, and 
plants, we reached our camp under the rock at 4 
o'clock, p. m., well pleased with our little jaunt. The 
following day we returned to El Paso. 

This was the only excursion I made from El Paso 
during the winter I was detained there, except visits 
on business to Dona Ana, Socorro, and San Eleazario, 
The Commission was as actively occupied as circum- 
stances would permit. Lieutenant Whipple established 
an astronomical observatory at San Eleazario in Decem- 
ber, and in February at Frontera, a rancho belonging 
to Mr. White, on the banks of the river, about eight 
miles above El Paso. This was intended for the perma- 
nent astronomical observatory and station, until the 
completion of the survey on this portion of the line. 

EI PASO. 177 

As soon as the initial point of the boundary line, 
where the Rio Grande intersects the southern boundary 
of New Mexico, had been agreed upon by the Joint 
Commission, Lieutenant Whipple entered upon his 
duties as Chief Astronomer, to determine the position 
of the point on the Earth's surface, taking with him 
such assistants from the engineers and surveyors, etc., 
as he required. A second party, first under J. H. 
Prioleau, Esq., and subsequently under Thomas Thomp- 
son, Esq., entered the field in January, 1851, and 
commenced the survey of the Rio Grande at San 
Eleazario, which they continued up to the initial point 
at 32° 22' north latitude. I also set a small party at 
work to make a survey of the town of El Paso and 
district adjacent, including the mountains, the pass, 
etc., embraced in a circuit of ten miles. These were 
all the parties I could place upon the survey, until the 
arrival of the chief astronomer, Brevet Lieutenant 
Colonel J. D. Graham, who had been appointed to that 
place in October last, but had not yet arrived. Conse- 
quently a large number of the engineers, with their 
assistants, could not be occupied ; and this I greatly 
regretted, as the best season for field operations was 
now passing away. 

I had given employment, for a few weeks, to John; 
Bull, Esq., one of the first assistant engineers, with his 
party, in making a reconnoissance of the country 
between the Rio Grande and the Gila, via the Copper 
Mines of New Mexico, a district over part of which 
the boundary would run. Mr. Bull explored a new 
and more direct route from Dona Ana to the Copper 
Mines than that usually travelled ; and examined the' 
VOL. i. — 12 


country between them and the Gila, as well as that 
between them and the Mexican frontier post of Janos, 
about one hundred and fifty miles to the south, in the 
State of Chihuahua. 

As it was necessary, in carrying the survey west- 
ward, to establish depots of provisions at accessible 
points, I sent Dr. Webb to the Copper Mines, as I have 
before stated, to see what its advantages were, with a 
view, too, of making it the head-quarters of the Com- 
mission during the progress of the survey in that 
quarter. After an absence of three weeks, that gen- 
tleman returned and made so favorable a report, that I 
instructed Quarter-master Myer to remove thither with 
the wagons, mules, camp equipage, etc., not needed 
by the parties in the field. I also instructed Mr. 
Henry Jacobs, acting Commissary, to deposit there at 
the same time all the subsistence and other stores in 
his department. I annex a brief extract from Dr. 
Webb's report: — 

',' The result at which I have arrived is, that the 
Copper Mines are preferable to any other spot in this 
section for the establishment of a depot of provisions 
and other stores, and for the location of the head- 
quarters of the Boundary Commission ; being nearer 
the region which must be the field of labor the ensuing 
season ; and as both property and person will be as 
secure and free from predatory attacks there as they 
can be elsewhere, provided a suitable military guard 
is furnished for their protection. 

■ ' The essentials of a good situation for the pur- 
poses had in contemplation present themselves at Santa 
Rita (the proper name of the copper mine region), in 

EL PASO. 179 

greater number than can be found combined in any 
other spot within proper limits, of which we have cog- 
nizance. We find there a fine, airy, salubrious spot 
for dwellings, with some adobe houses (abandoned 
at the breaking up of the settlement on a threatened 
excursion of the Indians, in the fall of 1838), which, 
with little labor can be made tenantable ; good tim- 
ber, within a few miles, for building and other pur- 
poses, as also limestone and other useful materials for 
similar objects ; a great plenty of wood near at hand 
for fuel ; abundance of excellent grass for the animals, 
which will materially lessen the expense now neces- 
sarily incurred by furnishing them with grain ; and a 
running stream, affording a supply of pure, fresh water, 
so essential to the comfort of both man and beast. 
The garrison, or fortress, that was erected for the pro- 
tection of the former inhabitants of this place, is of 
ample dimensions to accommodate all the troops that 
will probably at any one time be stationed there, and 
can, without much difficulty, be put in good condition 
for the purpose ; indeed, Colonel Craig is now actively 
engaged in directing its reparation. 

'.- In addition, though secondary to these, I would 
observe, that the soil is good for agricultural and hor- 
ticultural purposes ; as is indicated by the remaining 
vestiges of the garden plats once cultivated, as well as 
by the rank, luxuriant growth of the peach-trees, still 
in bearing condition : and it is said that wild game, 
bears, deer, turkeys, etc., abound in the vicinity. 

" The botanist, there is every reason for supposing, 
will, in that quarter, find a large and almost unex- 
plored field, a suitable examination of which will 


undoubtedly amply repay him for all the time and 
labor devoted to its examination; and the collection 
of specimens I made, even on this flying trip, con- 
vinces me that, by proper explorations and well 
directed research, a geologist might make discoveries, 
and with the industry and perseverance that a true 
love of the science will inspire, might make collec- 
tions, both geological and mineralogical, that will 
prove of interest at home and abroad, and be of per- 
manent value to the country. 

"In conclusion, I would suggest, if the decision be 
to remove to the Copper Mines, it is important to have 
the provisions, etc., sent forward with as little delay 
as possible, inasmuch as it will be necessary to cross 
the Rio del Norte at San Diego ; and this stream is lia- 
ble to be so greatly and so suddenly swollen in the 
spring, that a very little delay might render it ex- 
tremely difficult and dangerous, if not impracticable, 
to ford it with the teams, and thus make it necessary 
to build boats for the transportation of the property 
to the opposite side of the stream." 

I remained at El Paso until the 19th of April, 
unable to place any other parties on the line, greatly 
to the injury of the Commission and the interests of 
the Government. The whole astronomical force in 
the Commission was with the acting chief astronomer, 
Lieutenant Whipple ; and I did not feel justified in 
sending parties to make the survey of either the Rio 
Grande, towards its mouth, or the Gila, until the chief 
astronomer, Colonel Graham, should arrive, with the 
other officers of the topographical corps, which had 
been detailed for duty on the Commission. Six 

EL PASO. 181 

months had now elapsed since his appointment, and I 
had received no letters to explain the cause of this, 

The astronomers of the two Commissions having 
determined the position of the initial point on the Rio 
Grande, as before stated, I departed for the place on 
the 19th of April, for the purpose of signing the docu- 
ments necessary to establish that point, and of attend- 
ing to such ceremonies as the importance of the event 
seemed to demand ; after which I intended to proceed 
at once to the new head-quarters of the Commission, 
at Santa Rita del Cobre, or the Copper Mines. 




Early colonization of Mexico — Position of El Paso — Mode of irrigation — Ag- 
ricultural productions — Vegetables — Fruits — Extensive culture of the 
grape — Wine — Brandy — The Eio Grande — Deficiency of water — Uncer- 
tainty of crops — Houses — How built — Oriental style preserved — Pri- 
mitive mode of life — Flour mills — Degeneracy of people — Dress — Set- 
tlement on the American side — Coon's Rancho — MagoflBnsville — Socorro 
— San Eleazario — Mountain chains — Plants — Current and sinuosity of 
the Rio Grande. 

In a work like the present, which professes to be a 
" personal narrative," it can hardly be expected that 
much space should be devoted to an historical or geo- 
graphical description of the countries visited. Such 
digressions are important only as illustrations of the 
narrative, and must necessarily be limited. It was my 
intention to devote a chapter to these subjects, so far 
as they relate to New Mexico ; but after looking over 
my materials, I find them so ample respecting the 
discovery and colonization of this country and the 
almost unexplored region between it and California, 
that the subject would fill half a volume if I gave it 
the attention it really deserved. There is no portion 
of the early history of this continent, whether it be that 


of the first establishment of the pilgrims in New Eng- 
land, the labors of the zealous Catholics in Canada, or 
the planting of the colonies in Virginia, that can vie 
with the extraordinary adventures and sufferings of 
the pioneers who first traversed the broad prairies and 
deserts of the central portions of our continent. Long- 
before the consecration of Plymouth Kock, the religion 
of Christ had been made known to the Indians of 
New Mexico ; the country of the buffalo was visited ; 
the Rocky Mountains were scaled; and the Gila and 
Colorado Rivers, which in our day are attracting so 
much interest as novelties, were passed again and 
again by the persevering and energetic Spaniard. 
The broad continent, too, to cross which, with all the 
advantages we possess, requires a whole season, was 
traversed from ocean to ocean before Raleigh, Or Smith, 
or the Pilgrim Fathers had touched our shores. The 
topic is too prolific to be crowded into a journal of 
travels ; and requires much study, and a careful examina- 
tion of the numerous Spanish manuscripts and early 
books in which the remarkable adventures alluded to 
are related. 

The geography of New Mexico, and of the other 
countries visited by the Boundary Commission, is also 
a subject of deep interest, and requires more space 
than can possibly be given to it at this time. I shall 
therefore say no more than is necessary to make the 
reader familiar with the prominent features of the par- 
ticular region over which he follows us, and of the 
towns and villages through which we pass. With 
this understanding, I shall give a brief account of El 
Paso, and the adjacent district. 


The town of El Paso del Norte is situated on the 
western bank of the Rio Grande, otherwise known as 
the Rio Bravo del Norte, in the north-eastern corner 
of the State of Chihuahua. It is compactly built for 
the space of half a mile near the plaza ; and from there it 
extends from five to ten miles along the rich bottom 
lands of the river, each house being surrounded by 
orchards, vineyards, and cultivated fields. The valley 
or bottom land is here from one to two miles in width. 
There were regular missionaries here before the year 
1600, who traced the valley far to the north ; the pre- 
cise date of their permanent establishment is not 
known, though I think it may with some certainty be 
placed in 1585. At the time of the advent of the 
Spaniards, the Piro Indians, who occupied the valley 
extending as far north as Taos, had a village called 
Sinecu, which still exists within the space now al- 
lotted to the town ; and it is quite probable that from 
a missionary establishment here, arose the present 
town of El Paso. Its name is not owing to its being 
the pass of the river ; for that is fordable at all points, 
by levelling its muddy banks, except where its current 
is deepened by being contracted within a very narrow 
space. Between two and three miles above the plaza, 
where the river forces its way through the mountains, 
there is a dam, the object of which is to raise the water 
and divert it into the aceqmas, or irrigating canals, 
which conduct it through the bottom lands on both 
sides of the river. The principal of these canals, called 
the acequia madre, is about fifteen feet wide ; from it 
smaller ones branch off in every direction. 

As may readily be supposed, with a rich alluvial 


soil, and water at command, the productiveness of 
this valley is great. The chief cereals cultivated are 
wheat and maize. Oats were first planted the season 
I was here, and the experiment was highly successful ; 
the yield being greater than east of the Mississippi. 
Potatoes do not succeed in the El Paso valley. Many 
attempts have been made to naturalize them by early 
and late planting, as well as varying the quality of 
water ; but all have proved unavailing. It is true I 
have seen very good potatoes raised farther north, in 
the vicinity of Santa Fe ; but the failures have been so 
numerous that they cannot be said to succeed. Onions 
and pumpkins are raised to a great extent, the former 
yielding enormously. Other vegetables are but little 
cultivated ; which I think is more owing to the want of 
attention than to any fault of the soil or climate. The 
fruits are grapes, apples, pears, quinces, peaches, and 
apricots. The quinces are quite equal to our own ; 
but the peaches lack the delicious flavor of the nor- 
thern fruit, and the apples and pears are decidedly 
inferior. The grape is the most extensively cultivated 
of all fruits. It resembles the Hamburgh grape, 
though not quite as large, and is said to have been 
brought from Spain. There are both white and pur- 
ple varieties. Large vineyards of this delicious fruit 
are seen within the town and the district adjacent to- 
El Paso. The vine is never staked or trailed. It is 
trimmed close in the fall ; and in the spring it throws 
out its shoots from the very stump, near which hangs 
the fruit. Each vine is kept separate, and the earth 
around freed from weeds. Careful cultivators cover 
the vines during the winter with straw. With the 


first opening of spring the vineyards are irrigated, or 
rather inundated ; for the water is suffered to flow 
over them, and there to remain until the ground is 
thoroughly saturated. This is generally all the water 
they get. In July, the grapes come to maturity, and 
last full three months. As may be supposed from the 
abundance of this fruit, it is exceedingly cheap, and 
forms a large portion of the food of the inhabitants 
during the season. 

In order to extract the juice of the grapes, they 
are thrown into large vats, and trodden by the naked 
feet of men ; after which they are put into bags or 
sacks of raw ox-hide and pressed. The wine of El 
Paso enjoys a higher reputation in certain parts of the 
United States than it deserves. I have drank little 
ithat was above mediocrity ; and it served me as it 
does most others who are not used to it, causing a 
•severe headache. But I have no doubt that with pro- 
ber attention a superior quality of wine may be pro- 
duced here ; and such is the opinion of those familiar 
with grape countries, who have tasted the El Paso 
wine. Brandy, or aguardiente, is also made from the 
grape. It is of a light color, and is known in New Mex- 
ico as " Pass Whiskey.' 1 Both the wine and brandy 
are transported to various parts of New Mexico and 
Chihuahua ; and some even finds its way to Durango. 

The Eio Grande valley near El Paso, and generally 
in other places, is thickly timbered with cotton-wood. 
The trees sometimes grow to a large size. Mezquit is 
found on the borders between the plateau and the val- 
ley ; on the plateau itself it appears in a shrubby state. 
Gotton-wood and the roots of the mezquit constitute 
.the fuel of Ahe country. 


The river near the town varies in width from 300 
to 600 feet. It is muddy and sluggish except during 
freshets. In no place, between its'source above Santa 
Fe and its mouth, is it spanned by a single bridge. It 
is easily forded at El Paso, and probably for two thirds 
its length, the greatest depth of the water where it is 
crossed being only from two to three feet. Still, there 
are places, even near El Paso, where it is much deeper. 
The ford changes more or less every season. In some 
places there are quicksands ; in which wagons sink so 
deep, that they are extricated with the greatest diffi- 
culty, and are sometimes lost. The freshets that take 
place are owing to the melting of the snows in the 
Rocky Mountains. These are not of yearly occur- 
rence; for during the summers of 1851 and '52, there 
were none. The river not only did not swell or over- 
flow its banks, but in the former year it became quite 
dry near El Paso, all the water being transferred to 
the acequias. 

A mistaken idea prevails in regard to the great 
advantage of artificial irrigation over that of natural 
rains. It is true that where the cultivator can depend 
upon an ample supply of water at all seasons in the 
irrigating canals, he possesses an advantage over him 
who relies exclusively on nature. But the misfortune 
is, that when water is most needed, the supply is the 
scantiest. In February and March there is always 
enough for the first irrigation. In April and May the 
quantity is much diminished ; and if the rise, expected 
to take place the middle of May, fails, there is not 
enough to irrigate properly all the fields prepared for 
it. The consequence is, a partial failure of the crop. 


In 1851 many large tracts of land near El Paso, which 
were planted in the spring, and through which irrigat- 
ing canals were dug at a great cost, produced nothing ; 
and I was told by a gentleman at San Eleazario, 
twenty-five miles below El Paso, that the summer of 
1852 was the first one in five years when there had 
been sufficient to irrigate all the lands of that vicinity 
which had been put under cultivation. The value of 
lands dependent on artificial irrigation is much lessen- 
ed when this fact is known. 

Much has been said of the great value of the Me- 
silla valley on the Mexican bank, some thirty or forty 
miles above El Paso. We have a similar valley on our 
side of the Rio Grande, as well situated and equally 
productive. We have besides more than two thousand 
miles of this river bottom, between the source of the 
Rio Grande and its mouth. Where the hills and 
mountains approach close to the stream, there is of 
course little or no bottom land ; while at other places, 
it varies from a hundred yards to four miles in width. 
But of this fertile land not one tenth part can ever be 
regularly and successfully cultivated, owing to the un- 
certainty of the supply of water. The Rio Grande re- 
ceives no tributary for more than four hundred miles, 
reckoning above and below El Paso ; and if there 
is now found to be not water enough even for the 
limited district near that town, what is to be done 
with the vast tract along the river below in a time of 
scarcity ? 

The houses at El Paso are all of one story, and 
built of adobe, i. e. the mud of the valley formed into 
bricks from twelve to eighteen inches long, and four 



inches thick, and baked in the sun. This material, 
with slight repairs, will endure for centuries. Some- 
times chopped straw and gravel are mixed with it, 
which greatly improves its quality. The houses of the 
better classes are large, and built in the form of a hollow 
square. The walls are from two to three feet in thick- 
ness, and have but few openings. When plastered 
and whitewashed they look very neat, and make com- 
fortable dwellings. All the floors are laid with mud, 
concrete, or brick. Such a thing as a wooden floor is 
unknown in the country. This mode of building, as 
well as the material, is precisely that adopted by the 


HIS #§p 

Chnrch and Plaza, El Paso. 

ancient Assyrians, and practised at the present day on 
the banks of the Euphrates and the Nile. From the 


East the style was introduced into Spain by the Moors, 
and by the Spaniards was taken to Mexico. Moorish 
capitals and ornaments are still visible both in the fine 
dwelling and the humble cottage in northern Mexico. 
There is a venerable looking church here, constructed 
of adobe, which the cura, Ramon Ortiz, informed me 
had been built more than two hundred years. 

Window glass is not used here. The ordinary 
dwellings of the poorer class have no windows. The 
larger ones are entered by a large gateway, and have 
a few barred openings on the street. The other three 
sides present externally an unbroken and prison-like 
appearance. To all other parts of the house the light 
is admitted through windows or doors opening on 
the inner area. As the period is short during which 
the weather requires the houses to be closed, the occu- 
pants make them sufficiently warm by covering the 
opening with muslin or white cotton. Fires are but 
little used, except for cooking ; and although it is cold 
enough at times, the people manage to get along 
somehow through the winter without them. 

Until the advent of the Americans after the Texan 
annexation and the Mexican war, the Pasenos were a 
most primitive people. There was no town of any note 
nearer than Chihuahua, in Mexico, three hundred miles 
distant, and San Antonio, on the eastern side, six 
hundred and seventy miles off. Hence they saw few 
strangers, and enjoyed few of the luxuries of their 
civilized brethren. A metate stone on which to grind 
their corn and wheat, and a few articles of coarse 
pottery, constituted the utensils of the poorer classes 
for eating, drinking, and cooking. At present they 


obtain every thing that can be transported thither 
by wagons, though, of course, at a greatly enhanced 
cost. The price of labor too has doubled, and in 
some cases quadrupled. Day laborers (Mexican) 
receive five reals (sixty-two and a half cents), and find 
themselves. Mechanics, who are chiefly Americans, 
command very high wages. Carpenters and black- 
smiths earn three dollars a day, and when they take 
jobs, much more. Corn (maize), in the winter of 
1850-51, brought from seven to eight dollars a fanega 
of two bushels and five eighths, although the following 
year it fell to five dollars. 

There are now two flour mills at the falls near El 
Paso ; one on the Mexican side, belonging to Ponce de 
Leon, and one on the American side, belonging to 
Mr. E. Hart. The latter is a fine establishment, and 
now supplies the United States troops here with 
flour. In 1850-51 flour was selling here from ten to 
twelve and a half cents per pound. 

There are a few respectable old Spanish families at 
El Paso, Avho possess much intelligence, as well as that 
elegance and dignity of manner which characterized 
their ancestors. Among these may be found many 
names which are illustrious in Spanish history and 
literature. But there is no great middle class, as in 
the United States and England. A vast gulf inter- 
venes between these Castilians and the masses, who 
are a mixed breed, possessing none of the virtues of 
their European ancestors, but all their vices, with those 
of the aborigines superadded. The Indian physiogno- 
my is indelibly stamped upon them ; and it requires 
little sagacity to discriminate between the pure and 


the mixed race. The latter are generally very dark, 
though some are seen of fairer complexion. 

The upper class dress as we do. Among the 
inferior classes, the men wear a short jacket with 
large white cotton drawers, over which are drawn pan- 
taloons, open at the outer side, from the hip down. 
Along this are rows of gilt buttons and other orna- 
ments. Around the waist a red silk sash is generally 
worn. The whole is covered with a serape or blanket 
in cold weather. All the women wear the reboso — a 
scarf thrown over the head and around the shoulders : 
it is made of silk or cotton, and costs from one to. 
thirty dollars. The most respectable ladies generally 
appear in the street in black, but at evening par- 
ties the richest and most gaudy articles are worn. 
Smoking is indulged in by all classes, and by both 
sexes. It is not considered proper, however, for 
young gentlemen or ladies to smoke before their 
parents. I noticed the same respect shown by all 
at an entertainment when the Bishop of Durango 
was present. After dinner cigars were brought in. 
Every gentleman helped himself, and retired to 
another room to smoke, leaving his reverence and 
myself alone. 

El Paso, on the Mexican side of the river, which I 
have been describing, contains about five thousand 
inhabitants ; but the number would be much increased 
by including the many ranchos and haciendas below 
the town, which properly appertain to it. On the 
American side there are but few houses ; and these 
may be divided into three groups or settlements. The 
first is Coons' Rancho. This was the first settlement, and 


was the military post for about three years, under the 
command of Major Van Home. Many of the build- 
ings are now unoccupied. 

About one and a half miles below is the principal 
village, which was established by James W. Magoffin, 
Esq., a gentleman from Missouri, and one of the oldest 
American settlers in the country. This place is called 
Magoffinsville, and was the head-quarters of the Boun- 
dary Commission while in the country. Its enterpris- 
ing proprietor has erected around a large open square 
some of the best buildings in the country, which are 
now occupied as stores and warehouses. This is an 
admirable situation for a town, and will, no doubt, be 
the centre of the American settlements at El Paso.* 
An acequia now runs through the square, and the land 
around is of the finest quality. A mile further east is a 
large rancho belonging to Mr. Stevenson, around which 
is a cluster of smaller dwellings. 

About ten miles below El Paso is an island some 
twenty miles in length ; it is one of the most fertile 
spots in the whole valley, and has been cultivated 
since the first settlement of the country. On this 
island, which belongs to the United States, are the towns 
of Isleta, Socorro, and San Eleazario, chiefly inhabited 
by Mexicans. Of these San Eleazario is the larger, and 
was the old Presidio or military post on the frontier. 
It contains many respectable Spanish families, and some 
few Americans. It is now the seat of the county 

* The exact position of the centre of this plaza or square, as deter- 
mined by Lieut. Whipple, is 31° 46' 05", 5 north latitude, and 1° 5' 
24 // longitude west from Greenwich. The distance due south to the 
centre of the channel of the Rio Grande is 2,226 feet. 

VOL. I. 13 



courts. The church and presidio are in a ruined state ; 
they were, nevertheless, occupied by our troops for a 
couple of years after the Mexican war. 

Presidio of San Eleazario. 

North of the town, after leaving Mr. Hart's mill 
and rancho, which are near the dam, the first building is 
White's Rancho or Frontera, eight miles above. There 
is no valley or bottom land in all this distance, as the 
mountain chain here crosses the river. Frontera was 
used as an astronomical observatory by the Commis- 
sion during its operations in this district. Soon after 
we gave it up it was destroyed by the Apaches. It 
has nothing as a position to recommend it. Above 
this point the valley remains in its natural state. 
Some lands were ploughed and sown in 1851 ; but the 


water failed, and with it the crops. At Fort Fillmore, 
about forty miles above El Paso, is the next settle- 
ment. Between this and Frontera there is a broad 
alluvial bottom of great richness, unsurpassed by the 
Mesilla valley opposite, or any portion of the valley 
of the Rio Grande. 

The mountain chain through which the river has 
here worked a passage, is but a spur of a higher 
range, which, about two miles east of the river, rises 
to the height of 1,500 feet. This range extends in a 
northerly direction, but is not continuous. About 
twenty miles to the north, it gradually drops off", . 
leaving a passage of several miles, when it again rises 
to a greater height, into the Sierra de los Organos, or 
Organ Mountains, so named from their numerous pina- 
cles, which, at a distance, resemble the pipes of an 
organ. Both the Spaniards and the aborigines dis- 
play a much better taste in the appellations given by 
them to mountains, and other objects of natural 
scenery, than is usually exhibited by our people. 
Their names are significant of the appearance which 
the mountain assumes, while ours are christened after 
some military officer or politician, who may have 
made a little noise in his day, but may have never 
been near the locality which bears his name. The 
portion near El Paso is without timber ; but the 
Organ range, which abounds in deep gorges and 
ravines, is covered with heavy pine forests to its very 
summit. The valleys, too, and the rounded hills, 
which are composed of the debris, present many 
groves of oaks. On the opposite side of the river, 
arising from the spurs or lesser chain, which connect 


it with the range on the eastern side, is another ele- 
vated chain, much broken and very rugged. This is 
without timber and quite barren. 

Cactaceous plants abound on these mountain sides, 
and on the spurs leading from them. The yucca, 
Spanish bayonet, mezquit, larrea, and the various 
plants peculiar to desert regions, and the great pla- 
teau are found here. The lower spurs and intervening 
valleys are, in many places, covered with grama grass. 
The bottom lands are not grassy, as many suppose, but 
are entirely bare, save in isolated spots ; hence it 
is necessary to drive mules and cattle to these hills 
and valleys to feed. There are, however, some por- 
tions of the higher valley above Frontera where graz- 
ing is to be found. 

The height of the valley at El Paso was found 
to be 3,800 feet above the level of the sea. At 
Dona Ana, sixty miles above, on the river bottom, 
4,060 feet. At Albuquerque, about two hundred and 
fifty miles above El Paso, Dr. Wislizenus found the 
elevation to be about one thousand feet higher ; and 
supposing the circuitous course of the river through 
this distance to amount to four hundred miles, the fall 
of its water would be on an average two and a half 
feet per mile. But the sinuosities bear a greater pro- 
portion than this to the distance ; for, in a direct line 
of about thirty miles from El Paso to the initial point, 
surveyed by Mr. Radziminski, Principal Assistant Sur- 
veyor of the Commission, the river was found to 
measure a fraction less than ninety miles. 




Observations on the Eio Grande, from El Paso to Dona Ana — Establish- 
ment of the Initial Point, and ceremonies connected therewith — 
Description of Dona Ana — Mesilla — Eoute to Santa Barbara — Visit to 
ruins — Mirage — Route to the River Mimbres — Luxuriant vegetation on 
its banks — " Giant of the Mimbres " — Ojo Caliente — A broken arm — 
Arrival at the Copper Mines — Description and history of the Mines — 
Value of the timber in the vicinity — Abundance of game — Scarcity of 
vegetables — Visit to Sonora projected. 

April 19, 1851. The members of the Commission not 
on duty, the Quarter-master and the Commissary, with 
all that appertained to their departments, had already 
taken their departure and established themselves at 
the Copper Mines. Having made my arrangements to 
move this morning, I took leave of my friends with 
many regrets. I had now been at El Paso five months, 
and departed with the intention of reaching the shores 
of the Pacific before my return. A wild and barren 
region lay before us, destitute of inhabitants save hos- 
tile bands of Indians which roamed over the deserts or 
hid themselves in the fastnesses of the mountains ; where 
water was exceedingly scarce, where there was but lit- 
tle sustenance for our animals, and where we could 
expect no assistance in case our provisions fell short. 

198 EL PASO 

Yet, with these prospects before us, I had every reason 
to believe, if the officers we were waiting for should 
soon present themselves, that by letting the surveying 
parties at once take the field in various sections of the 
work, we should be able to complete the survey of the 
line which constitutes the southern boundary of New 
Mexico, as well as of the River Gila to its junction 
with the Colorado, and return to El Paso before win- 
ter set in. 

Our first stop was for an hour or two, at the astro- 
nomical observatory at Frontera; soon after leaving 
which, one of my mules was attacked with colic, 
probably from eating green grass. This delayed us 
for some time. Various inward remedies were resorted 
to, without apparent effect, when the poor creature 
was rolled and pounded by the ■ merciless teamsters, 
until I thought there was no life in him ; nevertheless, 
this rude treatment seemed to answer : for at length 
we were enabled to drive him along. We continued 
our journey, and encamped in the Alamos, or cotton 
woods, twenty-eight miles from El Paso. After leaving 
that town, the road winds over a wild, rugged, and 
hilly country, for nearly eight miles. These hills are 
the spurs of the mountain ranges, through which the 
Rio Grande forces its passage. They consist chiefly of 
limestone, which often appears above the surface, or 
projects from the hill sides. Many organic remains 
are here found. There is no bottom land for the entire 
distance ; nor is there sufficient space by the river's 
bank even for a road or mule path : consequently the 
way is very difficult and tortuous until the hills are 
passed. The bottom land does not appear for some 


distance beyond the observatory or, White's Rancho. 
The only vegetation on this barren district, is the 
mezquit chapporal, the larrea Mexicana, wild sage, 
yucca, and Spanish bayonet. In some places, are 
patches of grama grass. On the immediate banks of 
the river, are cotton-wood trees, but none elsewhere. 
All Americans who visit this district, express their 
surprise that the Mexicans, when they came out to 
intercept the march of the American army, under 
Colonel Doniphan, did not fortify this pass, and make 
a stand here, instead of facing our troops on the open 
plain at Bracito, a few miles beyond. 

A large piece of bottom land has just been ploughed 
up and put under cultivation, by Mr. Magoffin, about 
twelve miles above Frontera, the only cultivated spot 
between El Paso and Cruces, a distance of nearly fifty 
miles. The first step to be taken in bringing these 
lands under cultivation, is to dig a large ditch from 
the river some distance above, and bring the water 
through the land. This is always kept full, and to 
make it available, the surface of the water should be 
a,bove the level of the ground, and supported by 
embankments. When it is required for irrigating 
purposes, the bank is opened, and the water suffered 
to overflow the land. The necessary canals were here 
dug, the ground ploughed, and the seed put in ; but 
unfortunately (as I afterward heard), the river did 
not rise, the canals and ditches remained dry, no rain 
fell, and the whole crop failed. The place was then 
abandoned. Such is the uncertainty of crops in the^ 
Rio Grande Valley. 

200 EL PASO 

April 20th. Moved from camp at 7 o'clock, and 
continued our journey along the bottom. Whenever 
we approached the river, there were more trees, fine 
groves of large cotton-wood, with occasional mezquit 
marking the valley. The road is excellent, and con- 
tinues so without any repairs, except after rains, when 
it becomes almost impassible. At such times, wagons 
pursue a course lying at a distance from the bottom, 
and over the edge of the gravelly plateau, which is 
never affected by rains. The soil of the whole valley 
or bottom of the Rio Grande, is not surpassed for 
fertility, in the world. One thing alone is lacking to 
render it at all times productive, namely, water. For 
the want of this, a large portion of this rich bottom is 
■destitute of grass, and has but little shrubbery. 

Passed the small town of Cruces, a recently estab- 
lished place, eight miles from Dona Ana, soon after, 
where we soon arrived. As the train was still several 
miles behind, I accepted the invitation of Captain 
Buford of the Dragoons, to take up my quarters with 

April 23d Crossed the Rio Grande to the camp 
of Mr. Salazar, the Astronomer of the Mexican Com- 
mission, to learn if General Conde had arrived. After- 
wards rode to the neighboring hills, across which the 
line would pass, with the view of selecting a conspicu- 
ous spot for a monument. The bank near the river 
not being sufficiently elevated, I determined to place 
a small monument with inscriptions there, and to erect 
a large pyramidal one on a lofty conical-shaped hill, 
which itself .appeared like an artificial structure at a 


distance. The line passed directly over this, and a 
monument upon it would be seen for a great distance 
in every direction. 

April 2<Lth. The day having arrived upon which 
it was agreed that the Initial Point, where the southern 
boundary of New Mexico intersects the Rio Grande, 
should be established, the documents signed, and the 
point marked, it seems proper that I should briefly 
relate the history of this important portion of my duties 
as Commissioner under the 5th Article of the Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo. 

Under the date of December 3d, 1850, 1 spoke of 
the meetings of the Joint Commission, and of the 
difficulties that lay in the way of a speedy agreement 
as to the boundary between the Rio Grande and the 
Gila, in consequence of two gross errors in the map to 
which the Commissioners were confined by the treaty. 
It was discovered that the Rio Grande was laid down 
on this map, more than two degrees too far to the 
eastward — the river, where it is intersected by the 
southern boundary of New Mexico, being really in 
106° 40' west longitude, instead of 104° 40'. The 
other error was in the position of the town of El Paso, 
which appears on this map to be but seven or eight 
minutes below the 3 2d parallel, while its actual distance 
is thirty minutes further south. After several meetings, 
involving much discussion, the Joint Commission agreed 
to fix the Initial Point on the Rio Grande at the latitude 
given by the map, without any reference to its distance 
from El Paso ; and to extend it westward from that 
point three degrees, without reference to where the 
line so prolonged should terminate. This being agreed 

202 EL PASO 

upon, the acting Chief Astronomer, Lieutenant A. W. 
Whipple, on the part of the United States, and Don 
Jose Salazar, the Chief Astronomer on the part of 
Mexico, were directed to "measure, according to 
Disturn ell's Map, edition of 1847, the distance between 
latitude 32° and the point where the Rio Grande strikes 
the Southern Boundary of New Mexico ; and also the 
length of the Southern Boundary line of New Mexico 
from that point to its extreme western termination," 
and to report the result of their examinations to the 
Commissioners at the earliest period practicable. 

At the meeting of the Commission held on the 25th 
day of December, the following report was presented : 

" In accordance with resolutions passed on the 20th 
instant, at an official meeting of the United States and 
Mexican Boundary Commissioners, we, the under- 
signed, have this day met for the purpose therein 

" With a certified copy of the Treaty Map before 
us, we proceeded to make a scale of minutes of latitude, 
by dividing into 120 equal parts, the length of that 
portion of a meridian laid down upon the map between 
the parallels of 32° and 34° of north latitude. 

" In a similar manner we found a scale of minutes 
of longitude for that degree of latitude, which passes 
through points of the Southern Boundary of New 
Mexico, as indicated upon the same map. 

" Then measuring the distance from the point 
where the middle of the Rio Grande strikes the 
Southern Boundary of New Mexico, south to the 
parallel of latitude marked 32°, and applying it to our 
scale of minutes of latitude, we found the length equal 


to 22' of arc. This reduced by Francceur's tables, is 
equal to 40,659 metres = 25£ English miles = 2192 
Geographical miles. 

" Finally, taking the distance from the point afore- 
said to the extreme Western limit of the Southern 
Boundary of New Mexico, and applying this distance 
to our scale of minutes of arc in longitude, we found it 
to be 3° ; which in this latitude, according to tables 
of Francoeur is equal to 2822202 metres = 17528 
English miles = 15414 Geographical miles. 

' ' Therefore, according to this determination, the 
point where the middle of the Rio Grande strikes the 
Southern Boundary of New Mexico, is 22' of arc north 
of the parallel of latitude marked 32° upon the map. 
From the same point thence the Southern Boundary 
of New Mexico extends 3° to its Western termina- 

"Signed, A. W. WHIPPLE, 

" Lieut. U. S. Topographical Engineers, 
Y Larregui. 

'•< Paso del Norte, December 23d, 1850." 

The Astronomers were now directed to determine 
the point referred to by astronomical observation ; and 
as soon as the weather permitted, they entered on the 
performance of their duties. On the 10th of April, 
Lieut. Whipple informed me that Mr. Salazar and him- 
self had agreed upon a point on the Rio Grande, the 
result of nearly five hundred observations on eleven 
stars, which they recommended to the Joint Commis- 

204 EL PASO 

sion, to be adopted as the boundary point, at 32° 22' 
north latitude. 

The Joint Commission therefore met at the place 
referred to, to • ' establish the point where (according 
to the fifth Article of the Treaty), in the Boundary 
between the two Republics, the Rio Bravo or Grande, 
strikes the Southern Boundary of New Mexico." At 
this time the Surveyor, Mr. A. B. Gray, had not arrived, 
although fourteen months since the time of the 
adjournment in California, and five months after the 
time agreed upon for the meeting at El Paso. I then 
proposed to General Conde the Mexican Commissioner, 
that Lieutenant Whipple should officiate, as Principal 
Surveyor until the arrival of Mr. Gray. To this ar- 
rangement General Conde signified his assent ; where- 
upon I addressed the following note to Lieutenant 
Whipple, whose camp was then near mine. 

" In Camp, near the Initial Point, 
April 23, 1851. 

" Dear Sir : The fifth Article of the Treaty of Gua- 
dalupe Hidalgo, requires that the two Governments 
shall each appoint a Commissioner and a Surveyor, to 
run and mark the boundary line between the two Re- 

" The Surveyor in behalf of the United States has 
not arrived ; and having received no advice from him, 
it is impossible to conjecture when he will be here. 
The present is the most propitious period of the year 
for field duty ; every thing is in readiness for continu- 
ing the operations connected with the survey, and the 
Mexican Commissioner is urgent to have the business 
proceeded with. 


" Under these circumstances, being unwilling that 
any blame should attach to the United States, by a de- 
lay in the proceedings of the Joint Commission, I have 
thought proper, by and with the consent of the Mex- 
ican Commissioner, to designate you to act as Surveyor 
during the temporary absence of A. B-. Gray, Esq. 
You are therefore requested to be present at the spot 
fixed upon for the Initial Point, to take part in the 
ceremonies as acting Surveyor. 

" I am very respectfully, 

" Your obedient servant, 


" Commissioner U. S. Mexican Boundary Survey.™ 
" To Lieut. A. W. Whipple, Topog. Engineers, 

" Acting Chief Astronomer, U. S. B. Com'n. 

" In Camp, near Initial Point, New Mexico." 

Lieutenant Whipple immediately complied with 
my request, and the Commission proceeded to the 
place which had been designated by the Astronomers 
as the Initial Point on the Rio Grande, escorted by 
Captain Buford of the 1st Dragoons, with his com- 

We found General Conde with the Mexican Com- 
mission, the civil authorities of El Paso, and a body of 
Lancers already on the ground awaiting our arrival. 
The Joint Commission then held a meeting to agree 
upon the order of ceremonies to be observed on the 
occasion ; after which we assembled around the spot 
which was to be marked, where a post had been 

206 EL PASO 

planted, and a small excavation made. The document, 
of which the following is a copy, confirmatory of these 
proceedings, was read aloud in English and in Spanish, 
by the Secretaries, after which it was signed by the 
Commissioners and Surveyors of the two Commissions, 
and witnessed by the Secretaries and other individuals 
who had been invited to be present for the purpose. 
It was then placed in a bottle, with a list of the mem- 
bers of the Commission, and a fragment of the Wash- 
ington Monument, and was sealed up and deposited at 
the place designated. 


"Be it remembered, that on the twenty-fourth day 
of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight 
hundred and fifty-one, the Commissioners and Survey- 
ors, on behalf of the United States and of Mexico, 
named to run the Boundary Line between the two Re- 
publics in conformity with the Treaty of Peace, dated 
at the city of Guadalupe Hidalgo, on the second day of 
February, one thousand eight hundred and forty-eight, 
and exchanged at the city of Queretaro, on the thirteenth 
day of May of the same year, being fully satisfied with 
the operations made, and the results obtained, by the 
Chief Astronomers of the two Commissions, do estab- 
lish this point, on the right bank of the River Bravo, 
or Grande del Norte, in 32° 22' north latitude, which 
in accordance with the provisions of the fifth Article of 
said Treaty, is ' the point where it [the said river 
Bravo or Grande del Norte] strikes the Southern 
Boundary of New Mexico ' 


" Be it likewise remembered that the distance 
from this point to the centre of the bed where now 
actually runs the River, in the direction of the same 
parallel, is (219 m 4) two hundred and nineteen metres, 
and four tenths, following the line east from said 

" For the greater solemnity of this act, appear as 
witnesses, on the part of the United States, Captain 
Abraham Buford, of the First Dragoons, and Colonel 
Charles A. Hoppin, Aid-de-Camp to His Excellency 
James L. Calhoun, Governor of New Mexico : And on 
the part of Mexico, Mr. B. Juan Jose Sanchez, Politi- 
cal Chief of the Canton of Bravos, in the State of Chi- 
huahua, as first authority of that place. 

"Written in duplicate, in English and Spanish, and 
sealed, at the point established, on the day of the 
month and year aforesaid. 

"Pedro Garcia Conde, Commissioner. 

" John Russell Bartlett, Commissioner. 

" Jose Salazar Y Larregui, Surveyor. 

"A. W. Whipple, Tojpog. Engr. Surveyor 
and Astronomer.'''' 

" Signed in presence of 

" Thomas H. Webb, Secretary. 

" Juan Jose Sanchez. 

"Francisco Jimenez, Secretary. 

" A. Buford, Bvt. Capt. 1st Dragoons. 

"Charles A. Hoppin, Aid-de-Camp to Governor Calhoun of New 

Immediately after the Initial Point had thus been 
established, a plan was submitted by the Chief Astro- 
nomers and Surveyors of the two Commissions to carry 

208 EL PASO 

on the work and mark the line. This was accepted ; 
parties were at once organized, and the survey was 
commenced two days after. 

I have thought it proper, in this my personal nar- 
rative, to relate briefly the principal events which con- 
stituted the main objects of the Commission, and, in 
so doing, to give the particulars connected with the 
establishment of the initial point on the Rio Grande 
and the southern boundary of New Mexico. In so 
doing I have spoken merely of the mode of determin- 
ing this boundary, without, in any manner, going into 
the argument as to its conformity with the treaty. My 
readers can be the judges of this. My defence of the 
point and line established, with the argument of Mr. 
Gray in opposition to them, was presented to the Hon. 
Alexander H. H. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior, on 
the 7th of February, 1853, on my return from the Sur- 
vey, and ordered by the Senate to be printed. This 
forms Senate Executive Document No. 41. 32d Con- 
gress, 2d Session. 

After the establishment of this important point, I 
immediately made known the particulars connected 
with it to the Honorable Secretary of the Interior. 
(See my despatch, No. 15, Senate Document No. 119. 
3 2d Congress, 1st Session, p. 406, which I append.)* 

* (J. R. Bartlett to Mr. Secretary Stuart.) 

Mexican Boundary Commission, 

San Rita del Cobre New Mexico, 
[No. 15.] May 10th, 1851. 

Sir : In my last dispatch, bearing date the 14th ultimo, I had the 
honor of advising you of the movements of Acting Chief Astronomer 


In order to snow the views of the government with 
respect to my proceedings, particularly with reference 
to the appointment of Lieutenant Whipple as Surveyor 

Lieutenant A. W. Whipple, preliminary to the establishment of the 
initial point of the boundary line on the Rio Grande. 

The Chief Astronomers of the two Commissions having mutually 
agreed upon and advised the Commissioners of the spot where, according 
to the results of their united observations, the point should be fixed, the 
joint Commission met at the place on the 24th ultimo, for the purpose 
of examining and ratifying the proceedings of said astronomers, should 
they be satisfied with regard to their accuracy. 

According to the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the presence of the 
Chief Surveyors is required on this occasion. The absence of Mr. A. B. 
Gray placed me in a very delicate position, which was rendered still 
more perplexing by the fact that the same treaty distinctly declares that 
the Chief Surveyor (no less than the Commissioner) shall be appointed 
by the government ; and no provisions are made for contingencies like 
the present one ; nor have I been clothed with power to appoint an 
individual to act temporarily as Surveyor. The difficulty was stated to 
the Mexican Commissioner, who, in reply, observed, that all the neces- 
sary arrangements on his part had been made to go forward with the 
survey at once, and he trusted that it would be proceeded with accord- 
ingly. Being unwilling that any obstacles in my power to remove 
should impede the progress of this important business, I did not 
hesitate to make known my readiness to assume the responsibility of 
designating some one to act in the room of Mr. Gray for the time- 
being, provided the Mexican Commissioner, in behalf of his government,., 
would consent to the course, and thus prevent or obviate any supposed; 
cause of complaint by that Republic hereafter. General Conde assent- 
ing to the proposition, I designated Lieutenant A. W. Whipple as Act- 
ing Chief Surveyor. 

The Commissioner and Surveyor having visited the spot, designated 
and examined the observations made, conferred together, and being, 
satisfied with the proceedings of the astronomers, ratified their decision,,. 
and announced in the presence of the assemblage collected on. the- 
occasion, that they then and there established the Initial Point of that" 
vol. I. — 14 

210 EL PASO 

ad interim, and that the work should not be delayed 
in consequence of Mr. Gray's absence, I also append a 
copy of a letter addressed by Mr. Secretary Stuart to 
the Honorable Daniel Webster on this subject.* 

portion of the boundary between the United States and the Republic 
of Mexico, which at 32° 22' north latitude, is to run westward 3° 
along the whole southern boundary of New Mexico. 

And as a further evidence of the decision made, and arguments 
entered into by the authorities representing and acting in behalf of the 
two Republics, they then deposited at the spot whereon the initial point 
monument is to be erected, a glass vessel containing a copy, in Spanish 
and English, of the accompanying document, duly signed, sealed, and 

I have the honor to be 

Your most obedient servant, 


To the Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuari, 

Secretary of the Interior, 

* [Letter from the Hon. Alex. H.H. Stuart to the Hon. Daniel Webster.) 

Department of the Interior, 

February 11, 1852. 

Sir : I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 
the 2d instant, referring to this Department, a communication addressed 
to you in January, 1852, by Jose Gonzales de la Vega, Charge d Af- 
faires ad interim of the Republic of Mexico, and complaining of the 
delays which have occurred in the progress of the work connected with 
the Mexican Boundary Survey. In reply to the communication of M. 
de la Vega, I have to state, that while it is to be regretted that any delay 
has occurred in the vigorous prosecution of the survey of the boundary 
between the two Republics, every thing has been done by this Depart- 
ment with the view to a prompt, energetic, and harmonious action on 
the part of the officers of the respective governments, in order that the 


Dona Ana is a small town of five or six hundred 
inhabitants, and stands upon a spur of the plateau, 
fifty or sixty feet above the bottom lands, thereby 
commanding a wide prospect of the adjacent country. 

important work upon which they are engaged may be completed with- 
out unnecessary interruption. 

In reference to the appointment of Lieutenant Whipple as Surveyoi 
ad interim on the part of the United States, to which M. de la Vega 
refers, I will remark, that this appointment was necessary on account 
of the protracted and dangerous illness of Mr. A. B. Gray, the Surveyor. 
Lieutenant Whipple was recognized by this government as Surveyor ad 
interim, and his official acts in that capacity were, by directions from 
this Department to Mr. Gray, to be considered as binding on the latter 
officer, who was instructed to perfect, by his signature, any documents 
prepared requiring it. 

The Department relieved Lieutenant Colonel Graham from duty as 
Chief Astronomer of the Commission, and Lieutenant Colonel William 
H. Emory was appointed to succeed him ; and as the interests of this 
government seemed to require a diminution in the number of officers 
on the part of the United States, to prevent, as far as practicable, unne- 
cessary interruption in the progress of the Survey, and to place the 
organization of the American Commission on a permanent footing, the 
President also appointed Lieutenant Colonel Emory the Surveyor on 
the part of the United States, under the 5th article of the Treaty of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo, in the place of A. B. Gray, Esq., with instructions 
to proceed at once to the scene of operations, and report to the Joint 

It is hoped that the Joint Commission will now proceed without 
interruption to the close of their operations on the Survey, and that 
nothing will transpire on either side to cause any delay in the early 
settlement of the boundaries between the two Republics. 
I am, Sir, &c, 


Hon. Daniel Webster, 

Secretary of State. 

[Senate Ex. Document 119. 32d Congress, 1st Session, p. 124.] 

212 EL PASO 

It has been settled but a few years, and was selected 
on account of the broad and rich valley near, and the 
facilities that existed for irrigating it. Its houses are 
mostly of a class called jacals, i. e. built of upright 
sticks, their interstices filled with mud, though a better 
class of adobe buildings have just been erected along the 
main street, for the occupation of the military, and for 
places of business. The central position of Dona Ana, 
and its fine lands, led to its selection for a military 
post. At the time of my visit there were two com- 
panies of United States troops here under the com- 
mand of Major Shepard. 

Six or eight miles below Dona Ana, on the oppo- 
site side of the river, is the town of Mesilla, containing 
between six and seven hundred inhabitants,* a place 
which owes its origin to circumstances growing out of 
the late war with Mexico. These circumstances it 
may be proper to relate, as well as the origin of its 

Mesilla is the diminutive of the Spanish word mesa, 
i. e., table, also table-land, or plateau, and is applied to 
a lesser plateau in the valley of the Rio Grande, beneath 
that of the great mesa or table-land, which extends for 
several hundred miles in all directions from the Rio 
Grande. It is situated on the western side of the Rio 
Grande, about fifty miles above El Paso, in latitude 
about 32 degrees 18 minutes north, and until the 
year 1850 it was without an inhabitant. 

Immediately preceding, and after the war with 

* This was the population in March, 1851, as stated to me by the 
authorities of El Paso. 


Mexico, the Mexican population occupying the eastern 
bank of the Rio Grande in Texas and New Mexico 
were greatly annoyed by the encroachments of the 
Americans, and by their determined efforts to despoil 
them of their landed property. This was done by the 
latter either settling among them, or in some instances 
forcibly occupying their dwellings and cultivated 
spots. In most cases, however, it was done by put- 
ting "Texas head-rights " on their property. These 
head-rights were grants issued by the State of Texas, 
generally embracing 640 acres, or a mile square, 
though they sometimes covered very large tracts. 
They were issued to persons who had served in her 
wars, like our military land warrants, and also to origi- 
nal settlers. Such certificates are still bought and sold 
in Texas. The owner of them may locate his land 
where he pleases, unless previously occupied, or in 
lawful possession of another. 

With these land certificates, or "head-rights," 
many Americans flocked to the valley of the Rio 
Grande, and in repeated instances, located them on 
property which for a century had been in the quiet 
possession of the descendants of the old Spanish colo- 
nists. The latter, to avoid litigation, and sometimes 
in fear for their lives, abandoned their homes, and 
sought a refuge on the Mexican side of the river. 
Dona Ana, a modern town on the eastern bank of the 
Rio Grande, being a desirable place, and moreover se- 
lected by the United States for one of its military posts, 
became an attractive point for speculators, and was in 
consequence pounced upon by them, and covered by 
the Texan land warrants. Whether the Mexican occu- 

214 EL PASO 

pants of the town and lands adjacent were the lawful 
owners or not it is needless to investigate ; it is suffi- 
cient to say that they were the first settlers, and had 
long been in undisturbed possession. They now be- 
came alarmed. Litigations commenced. Some apply- 
ing to the authorities of New Mexico, Texas, or the 
United States, for protection. Failing to obtain it, 
several hundred abandoned their property and homes 
in despair, and sought an asylum in Mexican territory, 
preferring the very uncertain protection they could 
obtain there to remaining as citizens of the United 

With this resolution, a spot was selected on the op- 
posite or western side of the river, six or eight miles 
below Dona Ana, which, it was believed, would be 
within the limits of Mexico. On the 1st March, 1850, 
sixty Mexicans, with Don Rafael Ruelas at their head, 
most of whom had been domiciled at Dona Ana, aban- 
doned their homes on account of their many griev- 
ances, and moved to the lands known as the Mesilla, 
where they established themselves. To increase the 
colony, the government of Mexico offered to give lands 
to other actual settlers, which offer induced large num- 
bers of dissatisfied Mexicans living in New Mexico and 
in the small settlements along the Rio Grande, in 
Texas, to remove there. More than half the popula- 
tion of Dona Ana removed to Mesilla within a year. 

When the boundary line was established in April, 
1851, and it became certain that La Mesilla was south 
of the boundary line, according to the treaty map, 
their fears were removed, and a day was set apart for 
public rejoicing. For the whole population had de- 


termined to abandon the place if the boundary line had 
run south of the village, and thus placed them under 
the jurisdiction of New Mexico. The day came, and 
the event was celebrated by firing of cannon and a 
grand ball, which many from El Paso attended. After 
this, the population continued to increase ; in October, 
1852, the Prefect of El Paso estimated it at 1,900 

Very few Americans ever settled there — in fact, 
none but traders, and it is probable that there never 
were twenty altogether. 

The lands at La Mesilla are of precisely the same 
character as other bottom lands, on the opposite bank 
of the river, near Dona Ana and Cruces ; and in fact, 
as far as the mountain pass above the town of El Paso. 

April 27. Left Dona Ana at nine 9 a. m., accom- 
panied by all the assistants, and others attached to the 
Commission, except those whose aid was required by 
Lieutenant Whipple in the duty he was about to enter 
upon. My train consisted of twelve wagons, drawn 
by five or six mules each, and my travelling carriage 
with four mules. The assistants rode on horses or 
mules. We continued on our course towards the 
north, and soon struck the great Jornada del Muerto* 
(Deadman's Journey), on the Santa Fe road, which we 
followed for nine miles, when we turned off to San 
Diego, the old fording place. There is no village nor 

* Jornada, literally, means a day's journey ; but it does not seem to 
be used, except there is a long reach, of desert country without water. 
It therefore is applied to one or two days' journey. The Jornada del 
Muerto is 90 miles across, without water, and of the most desert-like 

216 EL PASO. 

even a rancho here, although marked on the map as a 
town. A great reddish bluff, composed of a conglo- 
merate of jasper, quite detached from the adjacent 
hills, lay on our left. As we descended into the val- 
ley our eyes were gratified with the sight of trees and 
shrubbery, and more grass than we had seen since 
leaving El Paso. In fording the river, one of the 
wagons, in consequence of diverging a little from the 
proper course, got into a quicksand, and was near 
being lost. Continued our course eight miles up the 
stream, and encamped at half-past 5 p. m., in a beauti- 
ful grove of cotton-woods, having made twenty-six 
miles. There was excellent grass here, and in great 
abundance. The wagons did not all get up until an 
hour after, in consequence of the delay at the ford. A 
train of wagons belonging to the Commission, in at- 
tempting to cross a few weeks after, when the water 
was somewhat higher, got into the quicksand. The 
mules in struggling to free themselves, sank deeper ; 
and before they could be extricated, all six were 

April 28. Moved from camp at 7 a. m., the road 
continuing along the river bottom, close to a low range 
of gravel hills, when we diverged to the north-west. 
Thick groves of cotton-woods occurred at intervals, 
and the whole valley was more or less wooded. The 
young grass, and the deep foliage of the trees, were 
refreshing to our eyes, which for five months had 
gazed on little more than stunted mezquit bushes, and 
the thorny cactus. From the water marks on the 
trees, the river rises about four feet above its banks, 
inundating the bottom lands to the base of the hills 


which border them, and rendering the valley impassa- 
ble. There does not seem sufficient space to cany a 
road over the hills, although there may be a practicable 
route within, which was not visible to us. At 11 
o'clock we reached a new settlement on the river's 
bank, called Santa Barbara, where, finding excellent 
grass, I determined to encamp. The road had been 
quite sandy and rough the fourteen miles we had 
come, and as the next water at the mule spring was 
twenty miles distant, I thought it prudent to go no 
farther. The settlement consisted of a few jacal or 
stick houses, part of which were in the process of erec- 
tion. A deep acequia was already opened, and large 
fields of wheat and corn were now undergoing the 
process of immersion. Acres were covered with 
water ; and the soil is of so spongy a nature that we 
found it impossible to cross these overflowed places 
with the wagons, so deeply did the wheels sink into it. 
Herds of cattle and goats ; half-naked Mexicans with 
their hoes, peons hooting and yelling as they urged 
on their oxen with their long-pointed poles ; and the 
primitive wooden ploughs, turning up the virgin soil, 
exhibited a scene of industry, *such as I had not before 
witnessed in the valley of the Rio Grande. 

We pitched our tents in a thick grove of large 
cotton-woods, near which passed the acequia; while 
on the opposite side was a pond or laguna, extending 
a mile or more. As this body of water was not wider 
than the river, and presented many sinuosities, I think 
it must have been formerly the channel of the Rio 
Grande ; for, like the Mississippi and other rivers 
which flow through an alluvial soil, it is continually 

218 EL PASO 

changing its bed, where great bends occur. The 
laguna is now supplied by overflows from the river. 
There were many wild fowl in it ; but its banks were 
so open, that we could not approach the game. 

April 29. Hearing that there were traces of an 
ancient Indian settlement about half a mile distant, 
Dr. Webb went over to examine it, while we were 
getting ready to move. He found a good deal of 
broken pottery, all of a fine texture. Some of it bore 
traces of red, black, and brown colors. He also found 
a stone mortar about eight inches in diameter. I have 
since understood that this was the seat of one of the 
earliest Spanish missions ; but it was abandoned more 
than a century ago, and no traces remain but a few 
heaps of crumbling adobes, which mark the site of its 

Our course on leaving camp, was south of west. 
After following the valley a couple of miles, we began 
to ascend a range of high hills, over and through which, 
the road wound for about twelve miles, before we 
reached the highest level. In descending, the road 
was hard and smooth as a turnpike, and so continued 
until we reached our camping ground, at the foot of 
the hills. To the south, at some fifty or sixty miles 
distant, rose a high mountain, the intervening plain 
presenting the most beautiful mirage I ever witnessed. 
It seemed like the surface of a broad lake, the mountain 
peaks standing detached, like so many islands rising 
from the bed of its placid waters. If I had not known 
that the region before me was a barren desert, I would 
certainly have been deceived. 

Reached Mule Spring at one o'clock. Estimated 



distance travelled to-day, twenty-three miles. This 
spring is in an arroyo or ravine, and contains but a few 
barrels of water. Some ash and cotton-wood trees 
mark its course from the mountains where it rises. 
Colonel Craig, when he passed here with his command 
a few months before, opened the spring and sunk a 
barrel in it. The water is very good. In the rainy 
season, this arroyo is probably filled with water, as the 
trees and banks exhibit the marks of it. 

Approach to Mule Spring. Picacho de Mimbres. 

April 30th. On leaving Mule Spring, we turned 
nearly south, with a range of mountains on our right. 
This was directly out of the general course of our route, 
which was to the north-west ; but there was no other 
way to pass the mountains. The road was excellent, 
and we traversed it rapidly, reaching Cooke's Spring, 
twelve miles distant, at 11 o'clock, where we stopped 

220 EL PASO 

to water. This spring forms a pool, some fifty feet 
across, surrounded by rushes. The water is a little 
brackish, but the grass in the vicinity is excellent. 
Ascended a hill on the south, which was strewn with 
fragments of chalcedony, of which some fine specimens 
were collected. From this hill the Organ Mountains 
were plainly seen, bearing a little south of east. 

After waiting an hour to let the mules have the 
benefit of the grass, we hitched up and passed through 
the canon or mountain defile, in a south-westerly direc- 
tion, for three miles. This pass was quite hilly and 
stony, with some steep ravines to cross, but otherwise 
attended with no difficulties for wagons. After passing 
these mountains, our course was north-west for eight 
miles, when we reached the summit of a high table-land 
that lay before us. Here a wide view opened. The 
east was bounded by the long range of mountains 
which we had followed on the opposite side and crossed 
in the morning, while on the west, the broad undula- 
ting prairie was only here and there interrupted by 
low conical-shaped hills. At the south and south-west, 
detached mountains appeared abruptly springing from 
the plain, with jagged and picturesque summits, some 
of which must have been fifteen hundred feet in height. 
In the clear blue atmosphere of this elevated plateau, 
every object appeared with great distinctness, so that 
mountains could be seen at a distance of more than a 
hundred miles. 

From the plateau we were traversing, we could 
discern, far in the distance, a streak of dark green, 
resembling a huge serpent. Far as the eye could 
reach, this dark streak wound its way, now expanding 


into the plain, and again contracting its dimensions 
among the hills, until it finally lost itself in a high 
range of mountains to the north. This was the long- 
talked-of River Mimbres, the third stream we had seen 
since passing the small water-courses which empty into 
the Colorado, in our journey from San Antonio to El 
Paso, the Pecos and the Rio Grande being the other 
two. As we were now on the descent, with a smooth 
road, my mules dashed off at full speed in advance of 
the train, followed by the young men on horseback ; 
for all were pretty well tired of the desert, and 
longed to feast their eyes on running water again ; 
and the ten miles which separated us from the bank 
above the valley were soon passed over. 

When we reached the verge of the hills which bound 
the valley of the river, a sight truly refreshing present- 
ed itself. The bottom for nearly a mile in width was 
covered with verdure, such as we had not seen since 
leaving the rich valleys near Fredericksburg, in Texas. 
As we rode rapidly forward, we noticed a herd of 
about twenty black-tailed deer quietly grazing on the 
luxuriant grass of the valley. Disturbed in their soli- 
tude by the rattling of the carriage and the tramping 
of the horsemen, they dashed away over the plain in 
single file, led by a large buck. We traced their 
course for some distance, as they bounded over the 
hills, until lost in the mountain ravines. Nearer the 
river, other deer of the same species were seen brows- 
ing upon the willows, which, in like manner, darted 
off at our approach. 

We pitched our tents beneath a grove of cotton- 
wood trees, at a short distance from the river, when 

222 EL PASO 

all hastened to taste its waters, and plunge into its cool 
depths. Great was our disappointment, after the anti- 
cipations we had indulged in, at finding nothing but a 
diminutive stream from ten to twenty feet in width, 
and in some places even less, which, east of the Mis- 
sissippi, would hardly be designated with the name of 
"creek." Nevertheless, it was welcomed by us as 
heartily as the Ohio or Hudson would be by travel- 
lers in more favored regions ; for it answered all our 
wants. Its water was soft and delightful to the taste, 
surpassing that of the Rio Grande. This stream has 
never been traced to either of its terminations. It 
rises in the mountains north-east of the Copper Mines, 
and when full, empties into Lake Guzman, about one 
hundred and thirty miles to the south ; but for several 
months in the year it exists only in pools, or dries up 
entirely after reaching the plains. When the survey- 
ing parties crossed it six weeks later, about fifteen 
miles lower down, they found it entirely dry. Another 
feature, which is common to other streams in Mexico, 
was noticed in the Mimbres, namely, its sudden disap- 
pearance or sinking into the desert, and its re-appear- 
ance some distance beyond. 

May 1st In camp on the Mimbres. As our ani- 
mals had been poorly fed since leaving El Paso, I deter- 
mined to remain here to-day to give them the benefit 
of the fine young grass. All the party seemed to 
enjoy the relaxation ; and they sallied out after break- 
fast, some in search of game, others of the picturesque. 
For my part, I took the two together; for when I 
went to the hills in search of game I carried my 
sketch book with me, as it was only among the wooded 


hills, the defiles, and the thick groves along the river 
bottom, that game was to be found ; and there, too, 
was the most picturesque landscape scenery, and the 
best field for the exercise of my pencil. 

I first walked down the stream about two miles to, 
a thick grove of large cotton-woods. The bottom was 
much contracted here ; nevertheless, it was thickly 
wooded and forest-like. Ash and oaks were inter- 
spersed among the cotton-woods. Saw many signs of 
turkeys, but shot none myself. Some of the party 
were more fortunate and brought in several. About 
five miles north of our camp the river enters the hills, 
and a little further up, is closely hemmed in by lofty 
mountains. Noticed wild roses in great profusion, 
also wild hops, and the Missouri currant. These, in 
some portions of the valley, were so closely entangled 
together that it was impossible for one to work his way 
through. Found several old Indian encampments, 
with their wigwams standing, and about them frag- 
ments of pottery. Many well-marked Indian trails 
followed the river on both sides, showing that it had 
been, and probably is now, a great thoroughfare and 
place of resort for the Apaches. 

In the afternoon, Mr. Bausman, one of our most 
indefatigable sportsmen, came in from a hunt, and 
reported that he had seen-some remarkable rocks about 
five miles up the river, to the north of our camp, which 
were worth visiting. I immediately had my mule 
saddled, buckled on my pistols, attached my rifle to 
the pummel of the saddle, and taking my sketch book, 
accompanied him to the place referred to, which was 
about half a mile from the river on the western side. 



Arriving at the place, I found some singular masses of 
sandstone standing detached from the adjacent hills, 
one of them bearing a curious resemblance to a man. 
My timid mule was much alarmed at the gigantic 
object which stood before it, trembling from head to 
foot. We therefore stopped a short distance from it 
and hitched our animals to an oak which hid from view 
the source of their terror. Around us stood these 
singular isolated rocks, some appearing like castles, 
others like single pedestals and columns. The one 
resembling a human figure, which is shown in the 
accompanying sketch, and which I christened the 
" Giant of the Mimbres," measured but three feet in 
its narrowest part near the ground ; while its upper 

Sandstone rocks. Rio Mimbres. 

portion must have been at least twelve feet through, 
and its height about fifty. Others of equal height 
stood near. All are disintegrated near the earth, and 


are gradually crumbling away, several having already 
fallen. When I had completed my sketch, we mounted 
our mules, and hastened back to camp, which we did 
not reach until some time after dark, my long absence 
meanwhile causing much uneasiness. Several turkeys 
were seen during our ride, and a couple shot. A 
number of fish of the trout species were taken here. 

May 2d. Crossed the Mimbres, and soon after 
reached the level of the table-land, gradually ascend- 
ing toward the high mountainous region wherein the 
Copper Mines are situated. Having heard of the Ojo 
caliente, a remarkable hot spring two miles from the 
road, I determined to visit it, and accordingly struck 
off the wagon road, accompanied by all who were 
mounted. A ride of three or four miles brought us to 
the spot. This spring lies within a crater-like opening, 
twenty feet in diameter, on the top of a mound of tufa 
about six hundred feet in circumference at its base, 
and about thirty feet high, all of which seems to con- 
sist of the deposits made by its waters. The tempera- 
ture of the water was 125° Fahrenheit. Its surface was 
some six or seven feet below the rim of the basin ; 
and its depth I judged to be about the same. Dr. 
Webb collected the gas which bubbled up from the 
bottom, and found it to be neither hydrogen nor car- 
bonic acid gas. He consequently judged it to be 
atmospheric air. The water was not unpleasant to the 
taste, and would be palatable if cooled. Lower down, 
upon one side of the hill, a small spring burst out, and 
at a short distance, where it collected in a pool, the 
water was cool enough to bathe in ; but even there I 
found it literally a hot bath. Mr. Thurber discovered 

VOL. I. 15 

226 EL PASO 

fresh water plants [algae] and insects flourishing in 
water at this elevated temperature. 

Just at the base of the hillock where the water 
accumulates, is a cotton-wood tree and a few bushes, 
where I hitched my mule before going up to the spring. 
On returning to take her, I had loosened the lariat, 
and was in the act of mounting, when the mule took 
fright at something and rushed into the bushes. I 
either fell or was dragged off, and at the same 
time, the malicious beast struck out her hind legs, 
and hit me on my left shoulder. Several rushed to 
my aid, and my left arm was found to be injured. 
After lying upon the ground a short time, I managed, 
with assistance, to walk about two miles to the road, 
where my carriage took me up. We were now about 
eighteen miles from the Copper Mines, and the jolting 
of the carriage pained me exceedingly ; but as no re- 
lief could be got until we reached there, I pushed on 
as fast as possible. We reached the Copper Mines at 
3 o'clock, p. m. Colonel Craig gave me a warm wel- 
come, and took me at once to his quarters, when I 
immediately retired to my cot. 

The following day my arm was examined by Doc- 
tors Bigelow and Webb of the Commission, and Dr. 
White of the army, who decided that there was a frac- 
ture near the shoulder. The arm was much swollen 
and discolored 

I remained. an invalid, confined to my cot or chair 
for two weeks, taking a little air towards the end of 
the second week. During this time my excellent and 
lamented friend, Colonel Craig, paid me great atten- 
tion. He watched me with the care of a mother, get- 



ting up frequently" at night to turn me in my bed, 
which for the first week I was unable to accomplish 
without assistance. This he preferred doing to my 
having a servant in the room with us. 

May 5th. General Conde, with the Mexican Commis- 
sion, arrived to-day. After remaining three days, he 
removed his camp to the banks of the Mimbres, where 
he believed he would find sufficient grass for his animals. 

Santa Rita del Cobre, as this place is called by the 
Mexicans, was for about forty years an active mining 
town. The workings were commenced in the year 
1804, and proving very profitable, a population of 
about 600 souls gathered around them in the small 

Valley of the Copper Mines from the South. 

open space which here exists encircled by lofty 
mountains. The valley is so narrow here, as to afford 

228 EL PASO 

only a plot of about a couple of acres for cultivation, 
and that seems to have been used as a garden. The 
hills around furnish excellent grazing for any number 
of animals ; but for agricultural productions, the popu- 
lation depended upon the cultivated districts at the 
south, in the valley of the San Miguel or Casas 
G-randes, from which they received regular supplies of 
corn, flour, beans and other articles of subsistence. 
These provisions and merchandise were taken to the 
mines by large trains of wagons, either on private 
account or on account of the establishment. There was 
also a considerable trade carried on with the frontier 
towns in Sonora. The nearest settlement was the Pre- 
sidio of Janos, a frontier military post on the San Mi- 
guel river, 150 miles off; though the trains with their 
chief supplies were sent from the city of Chihuahua, 
situated at a distance of 400 miles. The return trains 
took back copper ore : this was afterwards sent to the 
city of Mexico, where, owing to the superior quality of 
the metal, it was used chiefly for coinage. It is said 
that the owner had a contract with government to 
deliver the copper there at 65 cents a pound, and that 
sufficient gold was found in it to pay all the cost of 
transportation. I do not doubt the truth of this state- 
ment, as Mr. Courcier, who first worked the mine to 
advantage, amassed a large fortune from it, and Mr. 
McKnight, his successor, also found it very profitable. 
In 1838, a large train from Chihuahua, with sup- 
plies, was attacked and overcome by the Apaches in 
the canon leading to the mines. Such of the contents 
of the wagons as the savages wanted they took, as 
well as the mules and horses, first giving each man 


who accompanied the train a mule to carry him away. 
At the same time they sent word to the inhabitants at 
the Copper Mines, that they would allow no further 
supplies to reach them, and, furthermore, would de- 
stroy them whenever an opportunity offered. Thus 
cut off from the means of support, and surrounded by 
large warlike tribes, the people determined to abandon 
the place. It had consequently remained unoccupied 
ever since, until taken possession of by the Boundary 
Commission in the present year, 1851. 

Several deep shafts were sunk by the Mexicans in 
the adjoining hills ; which, with the vast heaps and ex- 
tensive excavations about them, show that an immense 
deal of labor has been performed here. One of the largest 
shafts has been filled up in consequence of the earth's 
caving in ; as I was told by a Mexican in the employ 
of the Commission, who said he had lived here when 
the mines were worked. Others are obstructed by 
water, which has accumulated near their entrances. 
Some of the excavations are still accessible, and have 
been explored by many. If it should again become 
an object to work the mines, they might be cleared 
without much labor. The rock is mostly felspar, and 
the red oxide of copper, intermixed with native metal. 
Large quantities of ore are deposited near the smelting- 

On entering these excavations, one sees the bright 
veins of the sulphuret of copper penetrating the rock 
in all directions, with here and there small masses of 
native copper ; and it is evident that all the hills in 
the vicinity are quite as rich as those which have been 
opened, for the same indications appear on the surface. 


But until there is some other mode of transporting the 
copper to market, than by wagons for a distance of 
nearly a thousand miles, it will hardly pay to work 
them. There is no longer a market in the city of Mex- 
ico, as other mines have been found much nearer. It 
now costs twenty cents a pound to transport goods 
from the coast at Indianola ; but as the wagons go 
down empty, the owners would, no doubt, be glad to 
carry the copper at half price. Labor is cheap and 
abundant in Mexico. At El Paso, Mexican laborers 
could be had for 62^ cents a day, they finding them- 
selves ; but men could doubtless be procured at even 
a less price. They require only the most simple food ; 
flour, beans, and a very little meat will satisfy their 

The district about the Copper Mines might be 
made to produce all the food needed for a mining 
population. There is no valley or arable land close 
to the mines; but eight miles to the eastward the 
Mimbres winds its way through the mountains, and 
has in many places a broad valley or bottom, which 
could be easily irrigated, and made to produce large 
crops. Hither we sent our cattle and mules, and in 
the driest time found an abundance of grass and 
water. Within two or three miles there are fine 
valleys, where, I doubt not, corn might be grown 
without irrigation, as is the case in some of the moun- 
tainous districts of Mexico; for it often rains here, 
when the plains below, but ten or fifteen miles distant, 
are parched with drought. We were not prepared 
to try the experiment ; but, from the appearance of 
the soil, the richness of the grass, and general exube- 


ranee of the vegetation, together with the moisture 
which prevails in such mountainous regions, I have no 
doubt the experiment would be successful. 

We reached this district on the 2d of May. Vege- 
tation was then forward, though there had been no 
rain. But it must be remembered that during the 
winter there is snow, and hence a good deal of 
moisture in the earth when the spring opens. The 
months of May and June were moderately warm. 
On the third of July the first rain fell. It then came in 
torrents, accompanied by hail, and lasted three or 
four hours. Many of our adobe houses were deluged 
with water, and the mountain sides exhibited cataracts 
in every direction. The arroyo, which passes through 
the village, and which furnishes barely water enough 
for our party and the animals, became so much swol- 
len as to render it difficult to cross; and by the time 
it had received the numerous mountain torrents which 
fall into it within a mile from our camp, it became 
impassable for wagons, or even mules. The dry 
gullies became rapid streams, five or six feet deep, and 
sometimes fifty feet or more across. On this day, a 
party in coming to the Copper Mines from the plain 
below, where there had been no rain, found them- 
selves suddenly in a region overflowing with water ; 
so that their progress was arrested, and they were 
obliged to wait until the flood had subsided. After 
this we had occasional showers, during the months of 
July and August. 

The weather was not uncomfortably warm any day 
while I was here ; indeed, on several occasions, directly 
after rains, I found a fire quite agreeable. The party 



I left informed me, that early in October it became so 
cold that fires were necessary every day. The height 
of the little valley where the mines are was found to 
be six thousand two hundred and fifty feet above the 
level of the sea; and the height of the mountain, 
which rises abruptly from it, and to which the name 
of Ben Moore has been given, is eight thousand feet. 
This mountain is the beginning of a range of bold, 
rocky bluffs of trap, of a grayish hue, which extend 
some twenty miles to the south, and gradually drop 
off into the plain. On one side of this bluff, a portion 

Canon leading to the Copper Mines, from the South. 

of the rock is separated from the mountain, and stands 
detached from it like a column. This mountain is a 


perfect barrier to a direct road, or even a mule path, 
across to Mule Spring, making a difference of thirty 
miles in the distance to Dofia Ana. Below the mines 
the columnar masses crown the summit of the hills 
and mountains, often appearing like elevated castles. 
The sides of these mountains are well wooded, as are 
also the intervening valleys. 

Gold is said to have been found here when the 
mines were worked; and many stories are told of 
large quantities that were buried when the place was 
abandoned. About four miles distant, a deep shaft 
had been sunk, where it was said a skin containing 
more than five thousand dollars worth of gold had 
been buried. Several men took their discharge here 
for the purpose of clearing out the shaft and getting 
the buried treasure. After several weeks labor, they 
reached the bottom, and even dug some feet below ; 
but their search was not rewarded with success. This 
shaft was sunk about seventy feet below the surface. 
Veins of gold were found, but not sufficient to pay the 
cost of working ; and the spot was abandoned. I saw 
many fine specimens of lead, and one of silver ore, 
which were found in the vicinity ; but I did not visit 
the localities. The Mexicans who had formerly 
resided here assured me that the existence of silver 
was known to many at the time ; but being in the 
very heart of the Apache country, it could not be 
worked. The Indian Chiefs also said they would show 
me where there was plenty of gold, if I would accom- 
pany them, but that they would not disclose the secret 
to others. I told them we did not come to their coun- 
try for gold, and declined their offer. Whether they 

234 EL PASO 

really knew of any or not (and it is my belief that 
they did), I thought it best not to put myself in their 
hands, but to maintain the position I had taken from 
the commencement ; namely, that our object was to 
survey the boundary between the United States and 
Mexico, the meaning of which they had been made 
to fully comprehend. 

But the great value of the Copper Mine region, 
which extends from the Gila eastward about fifty 
miles towards the Rio Grande, is in its fine forests of 
timber. The principal trees are two species of ever- 
green oaks; two cedars, one like our red cedar, the 
other with a berry much larger, and several pines, 
among them the Pinus edulis, or pinon pine. This 
bears an edible nut, which is a favorite article of food 
with the Indians. It is quite pleasant to the taste, 
but is rather small and troublesome to eat. So rich a 
timbered country does not exist between the Missis- 
sippi valley and the Pacific, except in the mountainous 
district of Upper California. Should a railway be con- 
structed across the country south of the Gila, its timber 
must be procured from this quarter. The value of 
pine timber in this region can be appreciated when 
I state, that there is not a single floor made of boards 
or plank in the town of El Paso ; nor have I ever seen 
one in any part of New Mexico, Chihuahua, or Sonora. 
In El Paso, I was obliged to purchase a few hundred 
feet for doors, tables, and various fittings, for which I 
paid one hundred and seventy-five dollars a thousand. 
For building purposes, therefore, this timber would 
prove immensely valuable. 

The buildings at the Copper Mines consist of a 



u Presidio " or fort, which commands the approach 
from the canon below. It is of a triangular form, each 
side presenting a front of about 200 feet, with circular 
towers on the corners. It is built of adobe, with 

Presidio at the Copper Mines. 

walls from three to four feet in thickness, and a single 
opening on the eastern side. This building was in so 
good a state of preservation on the arrival of Colonel 
Craig, that in a few weeks he built up such walls as 
had fallen, restored the roof, and made the whole ten- 
antable for himself and his command, furnishing be- 
sides store-rooms for all his provisions. There were 
also some fifty or more adobe buildings, some of them 
in good preservation, except the roofs, and others in a 
state of complete ruin. The adobes were therefore 

236 EL PASO 

taken from those in the worst condition to complete 
the others, roofs were added, and comfortable habita- 
tions made for the officers of the commission. 

The hills and valleys abound in wild animals and 
game of various kinds. The black-tail deer (Cervus 
lewisii) and the ordinary species ((7. virginianus) are 
very common. On the plains below are antelopes. Bears 
are more numerous than in any region we have yet 
been in. The grizzly, black, and brown varieties are 
all found here ; and there was scarcely a day when 
bear-meat was not served up at some of the messes. 
The grizzly and brown are the largest, some having 
been killed which weighed from seven to eight hun- 
dred pounds. These are dangerous animals to ap- 
proach, unless there are several persons in the party 
well armed; and even then, it is well to have a place 
of retreat in case of emergency. I have known a 
grizzly bear to receive twelve rifle or pistol balls 
before he fell ; though in one instance a huge animal 
was brought down by a single shot from a well- 
directed rifle, which passing though his entire length, 
killed him instantly. Turkeys abound in this region 
of a very large size. Quails too are found here ; but 
they prefer the plains and valleys. While we re- 
mained, our men employed in herding the mules and 
cattle near the Mimbres, often brought us the fine trout 
of that stream, so that our fare might be called sumptu- 
ous in some respects. But it requires something more 
than meat and game to satisfy the appetite and pre- 
serve health and vigor, and we would willingly have 
exchanged either or all of these luxuries for a few 
vegetables. We had not tasted a potato for a year, 


nor any other vegetables except a little wild asparagus 
at El Paso. The want of this necessary article of food 
was therefore sensibly felt, and some of the men 
began to exhibit symptoms of scurvy. Among the 
members of the Commission the cases were few and the 
attacks slight ; but the soldiers exhibited twelve or 
fifteen cases, since leaving the coast, some of them 
very bad ones. We were well provided with such 
anti-scorbutics as citric acid, vinegar, pickles, and 
dried apples ; but they did not have the desired effect 
upon the worst cases, though they doubtless prevented 
the spread of the disease. Some plants were found by 
Mr. Thurber, which proved very palatable, and were 
eaten as long as they lasted with very good effect. 
Doctor Bigelow, the Surgeon of the Commission, ad- 
dressed me a letter on the subject of the scurvy, 
urging upon me the necessity of procuring potatoes. 
In consequence of this, Colonel Craig and myself sent 
to Santa Fe, a distance of three hundred miles, for 
them; but they were not to be had there. With the 
exception of this disease, the best health was enjoyed 
by every member of the Commission, during our stay 
in the region of the Copper Mines. The surveying 
party on duty on the plain, or desert, as it may with 
more propriety be called, suffered more on account of 
the intense heat to which they were exposed, and the 
frequent want of water. In another respect they were 
badly off, as it was impossible to take fresh meat with 
them. My intention was to provide them with sheep, 
which could obtain a subsistence on the short grass of 
the plains or near the watering-places; but it was 
necessary to send to New Mexico for them, and they 
were not delivered in season. 

238 EL PASO 

Unable to send any more parties into the field, in 
consequence of the non-arrival of Colonel Graham, I 
determined to make the most of my time by visiting 
the frontiers of the State of Sonora. In this trip my 
object was fourfold, viz. : 

1. To ascertain from personal examination the con- 
dition of the route known as " Cooke's road," from the 
Rio Grande to the Pacific, and particularly that por- 
tion of it leading to the River Gila ; in order to deter- 
mine whether it was practicable to transport by it the 
provisions needed for the parties engaged in surveying 
this river. 

2. To learn if any, and to what extent, supplies of 
corn, flour, cattle, sheep, vegetables, &c, could be 
furnished to the Commission ; and on what terms they 
could be delivered here, or to the engineering parties 
on the Gila. 

3. To induce the people of that State to renew the 
trade formerly carried on with the Copper Mines. 

4. To obtain a supply of anti-scorbutics — i. <?., 
vegetables and fruits, fresh or dry. 

The protracted sojourn on the Gila, which the 
surveying parties must necessarily make, would re- 
quire so large a supply of provisions, and the risk and 
expense of transportation by pack-mules would be so 
great, that I believe it would tend greatly to the ad- 
vantage of the Commission to convey the supplies as 
far as possible by wagons. There is no road near 
the Gila along its whole course, and that point of 
Cooke's road where it strikes the river (midway be- 
tween the Copper Mines and its junction with the 
Colorado) would furnish a good and central location 
for a depot of provisions. 


Colonel Craig was as desirous as myself to ascer- 
tain these facts, and to do all in his power to promote 
the health and comfort of his men. We accordingly- 
made arrangements to set out on this journey on Fri- 
day the 16th May, I having so far recovered as to be 
able to ride in my carriage, although my wounded 
arm was still kept in bandages and firmly fastened to 
my side. 





Spring at Pachetehu — Ojo de Vaca — Janos road — Col. Cooke's road — 
Scarcity of water — Dry bed of a lake — Mirage — Desert region — Zool- 
ogy of the plains — Guadalupe Pass — Difficulties — Bears — Discover foot- 
prints of deserters from Copper Mines — Sycamore trees — Canon — 
Luxuriant vegetation — Descend from the great plateau — Change of 
climate — Ruined hacienda of San Bernardino — Wild cattle — Black 
"Water Creek — Teamster attacked by a bull — Grave of an American 

May \§ih. The party for the journey to Sonora con- 
sisted of Colonel Craig, with two teams of six mules ; 
Dr. Webb, Messrs. Thurber, Moss, Cremony, Steele, 
Bausman, Weems, Stewart and myself, also with two 
teams of six mules. The wagons were nearly empty, 
containing merely our tents, camp equipage, and pro- 
visions. All were mounted on horses or mules except 
myself; and I would have much preferred the same 
mode of travelling, but my lame arm forbade it. Even 
in the carriage the attempt seemed rather hazardous, 
not knowing what the roads were, or indeed whether 

VOL. I. 16 


such things existed at all in the interior parts of 

We did not get off until noon, as it was my inten- 
tion to go only as far as the first watering-place, called 
Pachetehu* whither I had sent the wagons in advance 
to await our arrival. We passed down the canon in 
fine spirits, all being glad to get away from the dull 
monotony of a stationary camp. The country was 
much parched ; for no rain had yet fallen. After 
leaving the canon we diverged towards the right, and 
struck the old road leading to Janos, which had not 
been passed by a wagon or any train for nearly four- 
teen years. Yet the ruts were quite distinct on the 
plain. In fact, some portions of it, where the water 
had run, were washed out into deep gullies, rendering 
it impassable for teams. At three o'clock reached 
Pachetehu, a depression in the plain which, in addition 
to a spring, received the waters after rains. I traced 
the course of the waters for a couple of miles, marked 
by rushes and little patches of willows, when it disap- 
peared in the plain. The grass is abundant for some 
fifteen or twenty rods on each side of this spring and 
water-course; but there is no wood. Parties must 
supply themselves with this before leaving the wooded 
district. Distance from the Copper Mines, thirteen 

May 17th Passed an uncomfortable night from the 
effects of the jolting on my arm. Roused the cooks 
at three o'clock ; got our breakfast before day ; and 
by the time it was light enough to see, we had re- 

* Pronounced Pa-che-te-hu, the last syllable strongly accented. 


sumed our journey. Our course continued due south 
on the Janos* road, over a bare and open plain. Not 
a tree or shrub was to be seen in any direction ; a- few 
straggling yuccas and cacti alone broke the monotony 
of the plain. Grama grass was abundant, and, though 
quite dry, and apparently not containing any nourish- 
ment, was eagerly eaten by our animals. The country 
consisted of an undulating prairie, with here and there 
a solitary hill of a conical form rising from it. In the 
far distance were visible short and isolated ridges of 
mountains, with abrupt sides and jagged summits. 
Passed a yucca of larger size than any we had seen. 
Its trunk was about ten feet high ; from which arose 
four stems of equal height, all crowned with clusters 
of white flowers. Reached Ojode Vaca (Cow Spring), 
at half past nine o'clock, distant from our camp nine- 
teen miles ; where we turned out the animals to graze. 
This spring is but a depression in the plain surrounded 
by a couple of acres of grass, resembling an oasis in a 
desert. Several holes had been dug here by passing 
emigrants, in which the water had accumulated ; 
though in some of them it had a disagreeable sulphu- 
rous taste. Nevertheless, not knowing how soon 
another opportunity would present itself, it was 
thought best to fill our kegs. To the east of this 
spring are three hills, of which the most easterly one 
is the highest. The westerly one is crowned with 
masses of granite. After waiting three hours for the 
train to come up and the mules to graze, we proceeded 
on our journey. 

* Pronounced Ha-nos, the first syllable strongly accented. It is 
sometimes spelt Yanos. 


At this spring, Colonel Cooke's road enters from 
the east; it then takes a southwesterly course, which 
we are to follow. The road we have pursued from the 
Copper Mines continues south to Janos, and thence to 
Chihuahua. It is the one taken by the California emi- 
grants who come by the way of Santa Fe. It was 
first opened by Colonel Cooke in his march with his 
battalion, and train of wagons to California, in the fall 
of 1846. He took this route by the advice of his 
guides, though much out of his direct course, in 
order to strike the old Spanish trail which leads from 
Janos across a spur of the Sierra Madre, to the frontier 
settlements in Sonora; because it was known that 
water was to be found there, at convenient distances. 
But the more direct route due west from Ojo de Vaca 
was unexplored ; and Leroux, the guide of Colonel 
Cooke, did not know whether water could be found on 
it or not. Not wishing, therefore, to hazard the lives 
of a large body of men by venturing upon an unknown 
desert, he took the wiser course of striking the old 
Janos road at the Guadalupe Pass. 

Travelling rapidly over an excellent hard road, we 
reached a pass in a range of hills shortly before sunset, 
where Colonel Cooke marks down a small watercourse. 
We were not more fortunate than he was, although 
there were indications of water in the clumps of bushes, 
and the numerous doves that were flitting about. 
Several of the party searched for it up and down for a 
mile on both sides of the road, but without success. 
We then passed the hills and encamped on the plain 
beyond. Passed the grave of a man whom we sup- 
posed to be a California emigrant. His name was cut 


with a knife on a rude board, supported by a heap of 
stones. Antelopes were descried in abundance to-day 
bounding over the plain. Of the feathered tribe, we 
saw blackbirds, crows, hawks, the Carolina dove, quails, 
meadow-larks, and a flock of what appeared to be black 
plover ; but as they did not alight, and flew beyond 
reach of my gun, I was unable to obtain a specimen. 

May 18th. We routed the cooks at two o'clock, 
breakfasted by moonlight, and were on the move be- 
fore the first dawn of day. There being an uncer- 
tainty about water, it was thought best to get over as 
much ground as possible before the heat of the day. 
As the road passed over an open plain, with short 
grama grass and no bushes, and moreover led to a de- 
pression in the mountain range, there was no difficulty 
in keeping it. We continued rapidly down a gradual 
descent of about twenty miles, with scarcely an undu- 
lation. Not a tree or shrub was seen. After passing 
to the west of a low range of hills, and crossing another 
plain of about five miles, we entered the defile or 
canon, when we reached a spot marked by Colonel 
Cooke, where he found water for 50 animals. This 
was a hole in a rock, a few feet to the left of the road, 
where we found a few buckets of stagnant and brackish 
water, so bad that most of the animals refused to drink 
it. The poor creatures having travelled some thirty-six 
miles since starting, made repeated trials to drink from 
the uninviting pool before them, and as often turned 
away in disgust. We rambled over the rocks, and 
explored the ravines in this defile, where there were 
many indications of running water, but none could be 


Again we pushed on, having yet about fifteen 
miles between us and the first place where there was a 
certainty of finding water. Continuing a few miles 
through this defile, which presented no difficulty for 
our wagons, we emerged on the opposite plain, where 
our eyes were greeted with the sight of a long white 
streak, which we would have taken for a lake, had it 
not been designated by Colonel Cooke, as Las Playas, 
or the dry bed of a lake. Keeping on the same south- 
easterly course, we still descended ; and as the road 
was very smooth, we set the mules on a trot and rolled 
over it at a pretty good pace, considering the long 
distance we had come. At three o'clock we struck 
the playas, which seemed to have an extent of twenty- 
five or thirty miles from the north-west to the south- 
east, the general course of the mountain ranges and 
valleys in this region. The surface of this dry bed 
was an indurated clay, so hard that the wheels of our 
wagons scarcely made an impression. Its color was 
nearly white. After rains, this basin, being surrounded 
by high mountains, receives a large amount of water, 
which seems to evaporate before vegetation gets a 
foothold. From indications along its margin, and 
from what I afterwards saw in other places, it never 
could have contained more than two or three inches of 
water in its deepest place. The width, where we 
crossed, was about a mile and a half. As we were 
midway across, a beautiful mirage suddenly presented 
itself towards the south, which led us to believe that 
the further end of the dry surface we were rolling 
over, was in reality a body of water. Little clumps of 
bushes arose from it like islands ; and the very grass 


that grew on its banks was reflected from its imaginary 
surface.* Some of our party could not be convinced 
of the illusion, and rode off at full speed to quench 
the thirst of their panting animals. We hardly knew 
what course to take here ; but seeing some bright 
green patches amid the vast plain of gray and parched 
grass, we made directly for it ; and great was our joy 
at finding several large holes, dug by parties who had 
preceded us, which were filled to the brim with the 
most delicious water. Near these we encamped. 

The country passed over in the last three days is 
barren and uninteresting in the extreme. As we 
toiled across these sterile plains, where no tree offered 
its friendly shade, the sun glowing fiercely, and the 
wind hot from the parched earth, cracking the lips 
and burning the eyes, the thought would keep sug- 
gesting itself, Is this the land which we have pur- 
chased, and are to survey and keep at such a cost? 
As far as the eye can reach stretches one unbroken 
waste, barren, wild, and worthless. For fifty-two long 

* The well-known phenomenon of the mirage is called in Sanscrit 
" the thirst of the gazelle." All objects appear to float in the air, while 
their forms are reflected in the lower stratum of the atmosphere. At 
such times the whole desert resembles a vast lake, whose surface undu- 
lates like waves. Palm-trees, cattle, and camels sometimes appear invert- 
ed in the horizon. In the French expedition to Egypt, this optical 
illusion often nearly drove the faint and parched soldiers to distraction. 
This phenomenon has been observed in all quarters of the world. The 
ancients were also acquainted with the remarkable refraction of the 
rays of light in the Libyan Desert. We find mention made in Diodorus 
Siculus of strange illusive appearances, an African Fata Morgana, toge- 
ther with still more extravagant explanations of the conglomeration of 
the particles of air. Humboldt. Views of Nature, p. 137. 


miles we have traversed it without finding a drop of 
water that our suffering beasts would drink ; nor has 
there been grass enough since we left the copper mine 
region for more than a small number of animals, such 
as our own. 

The few animals noticed seem to have partaken of 
the wildness of the country they inhabit. An occa- 
sional herd of antelopes is seen galloping in the dis- 
tance, unapproachable by the hunter for the want of a 
tree or shrub behind which he may advance. Lizards 
of various hues and graceful shapes glide about with 
inconceivable swiftness. A startled hare throws up 
its long ears and bounds out of sight. The prairie 
dog gives a shrill cry of warning to its fellows, and 
drops into its burrow. The only things that do not 
seem terror-stricken are the so-called horned frogs. 
They, as if conscious of the security afforded by their 
own hideous ugliness, sullenly remove themselves out 
of the way of the horses' hoofs, and regard the passer 
with malicious eye. The vegetable presents scarcely 
more of interest than the animal world. The flowers 
are almost entirely of that most unbecoming of all hues, 
yellow — varying from sulphur color to orange — and 
glaring in the bright sunlight. One becomes sickened 
and disgusted with the ever-recurring sameness of 
plain and mountain, plant and living thing. But if 
the day's travel is tedious, it is almost compensated 
by the glory of the night. In this clear dry atmos- 
phere, without cloud or haze, moonlight and starlight 
have a splendor of which dwellers upon the sea-side 
cannot conceive. 

Due north from our camp I noticed a range of lofty 


mountains, eighty or a hundred miles distant, extend- 
ing towards the west, which I suppose to be a continu- 
ation of the copper mine range along the Gila. West 
of this arose another and less distant range. To the 
south was an uninterrupted plain, with no mountains, 
or even a hill, visible. 

May ldtli. The weather was very cold this morn- 
ing ; ice was found in our camp buckets, and we 
were all glad to wrap our blankets around us. After 
following the edge of the dry lake for a mile, we 
came to more springs and water holes, near which the 
grass was excellent. From here our course was south- 
west, directly for a pass in the mountains, known as 
the Sierra de los Animos, about seven miles distant. 
The road was good, the pass presented no difficulties, 
and we soon reached the plain beyond, where we 
turned more to the south. Three or four miles brought 
us to the dry bed of a stream, where we stopped the 
train, and traced its banks on both sides of the road 
for more than a mile, without finding water. Before us 
lay a broad valley, bounded on the west by a range 
of high mountains ; and at some eight or ten miles dis- 
tance I noticed a dark line of trees, with similar lines 
intersecting it. This indicated a stream ; and four or 
five miles more brought us to one of its tributaries. 
But, alas ! it was but a dry bed, though fine, large 
trees, with thick shrubbery, grew along its banks, 
marking its course for miles. Again we stopped. 
Dr. Webb took the rocky bed, determined to follow 
it up, while I, with some others, struck across to a 
clump of trees near the base of a mountain, the luxu- 
riance of which gave promise of water. In this we 


were not disappointed : a walk of a mile brought us 
to a fine spring, from which a rapid brook dashed 
over the rocks, dispensing a refreshing coolness, 
though it entirely disappeared within four hundred 
yards. The grass being good here, we turned the 
animals loose, and made a halt of three hours. 

On resuming our journey, our course lay across a 
plain, gradually descending towards a valley inter- 
sected by several deep gullies, which led to the dry 
bed of a stream. We followed this for some distance, 
but found no water. Crossed two other beds of 
streams also dry. On our right was a large grove of 
oaks, which is noted on Colonel Cooke's map; and 
about four miles after passing this, we struck the 
source of the stream we had noticed so long on our 
right, where we found the water standing in large pools. 
Here we pitched our tents, and encamped for the 
night, after a journey of thirty -two miles. 

May 20th. Another cold morning, with ice in our 
water buckets. Fires to warm ourselves were quite out 
of the question, as not a particle of wood was to be 
seen. For cooking purposes, we generally collected 
a little where it could be found, and put it into the 
wagons. Our course to-day was nearly south, over a 
broad valley, from eight to ten miles across, hemmed 
in on both sides by high ranges of mountains. So 
level was this valley, and so luxuriant the grass, that 
it resembled a vast meadow ; yet all its rich verdure 
seemed wasted, for no animals appeared, except a few 
antelopes and several dog-towns. In every other 
instance where the prairie dogs were congregated, it 
was on the most barren spots, far from water, where 


the grass was short, and the soil hard and gravelly. 
Here the soil was a rich black loam, as it appeared 
where the little creatures had thrown it up, and the 
grass was nibbled down to its roots. 

After passing a small stream (where we caught 
some curious water insects), our course lay direct for 
the mountains, which gradually closed in upon us, until 
we arrived by an easy ascent at the summit. Here we 
struck the old road, leading in a southeasterly course 
to Janos ; and here our real difficulties seemed to 
begin. We had reached what appeared from the plain 
below to be the apex of the ridge ; but we found our- 
selves all at once surrounded by steep hills, steeper 
and higher mountains, ravines, gullies, and frightful 
canons. A wide and discouraging prospect was open 
before us. First came an ocean of mountain peaks, if 
I may so term them ; for, from the eminence on which 
we stood, we overtopped the whole, looking down 
upon them as in a birds-eye view. Beyond these, 
looking to the west, arose other mountains, which gra- 
dually receded from the view, until in the dim dis- 
tance the horizon was bounded by a faint blue outline 
of some range a hundred miles distant. Colonel 
Cooke deserves great credit for this bold and successful 
undertaking, which has not been sufficiently appreci- 
ated by his countrymen. Here his whole command 
was employed in opening this trail, and making it 
passable. But, with all his labor, it is still a most diffi- 
cult pass, and dangerous for loaded wagons. Although 
ours were light, it required great caution to get 
through. The first descent is down a long hill, where 
the wheels have to be locked. Next the road passes 


down a chalky cliff, whose yielding surface crumbles 
beneath the hoofs of the animals, making it necessary 
not only to lock, but also to restrain the wagons with 
ropes. After this it winds over peaks, the declivity 
always greater than the ascent, until at length the 
valley is reached. Our progress was slow and toil- 
some. We were constantly obliged to assist the 
wagons, by pushing them when going up, or hold- 
ing back in their descent ; but the most dangerous 
portions were when we had a sideling inclination to 
contend with ; for here the wagons had to be supported 
on one side, as well as held back. According to Colonel 
Cooke the descent here is a thousand feet. A percepti- 
ble change of climate was indicated by the vegetation : 
besides the greater abundance of plants peculiar to a 
warm country, a marked difference was observable in 
the same species. Those plants which we saw on the 
table-land just in bud, were, in the course of the 
descent, seen in flower, and further down with matur- 
ing fruit. 

Two bears were observed to-day after entering the 
defile ; they were so large as to be taken at first for 
mules. When their real nature was discovered, seve- 
ral of the horsemen gave chase, but without success ; 
for Bruin gained on them at every leap, and soon dis- 
appeared. All the hills and valleys are covered with 
trees, chiefly live-oak and cedar ; and in every open 
space there is excellent grass. 

After four or five hours' hard tugging we reached 
a small stream, where the road took a sudden turn to 
the south, leading to a frightful canon. Here we came 
to a stand, and waited for the wagons to come up. I 


had walked the whole distance through this defile, 
which is known as the Guadalupe Pass, reaching this 
point in advance. When all had come up, both men and 
animals were glad to hear the order to unhitch the 
mules and encamp for the night, which we did near a 
small rivulet, though our day's journey could hardly 
have exceeded twelve miles. 

For the last three days we have noticed the tracks 
of several mules, all of which were shod, accompanied 
by one man on foot. They appear to have been made 
several months ago, at a time when the ground was 
wet ; and as there has been no rain, it must have been 
during the winter after a slight fall of snow. As the 
Mexicans do not shoe their mules, we believed the 
party to have been Americans ; and a close inspection 
of the print made by the man on foot convinced Colonel 
Craig that it was a soldier's shoe, and that the party 
consisted of the seven deserters from his command who 
left in February. They took with them but six mules, 
so that the seventh had to go on foot. We had learned 
that they had not reached Chihuahua ; and as they had 
not been seen at the settlements on the Rio Grande, the 
inference was, that they had set out for California. 
These foot prints therefore were objects of interest to 
us as we watched them from day to day. 

The canon where we are now encamped, is filled 
with walnut, oak, ash, and sycamore trees. The last 
mentioned, is quite a different tree from that known by 
the same name in the United States, and, if it would 
bear our nothern winters, would make a fine addition 
to our ornamental trees. Its leaves have a graceful 
droop, the bark is almost pure white, very clear and 


smooth, and contrasts strongly with the foliage. The 
fruit instead of being a solitary head, or " button ball," 
like ours, is borne in large clusters of three or five, 
strung upon a slender stem. The banks which over- 
hang this defile are steep and rugged, and present as 
great a variety of plants of the cactus family, as the 
valley does of trees and shrubs. Besides the various 
kinds seen on the plains, new ones were noticed here, 
nearly all of them in flower. The beautiful yucca raised 
its tall stems of white flowers, while the agave towering 
above all, with its brilliant yellow blossoms, completed 
the floral array of this wild and romantic pass. Fa- 
tigued as I was with my hard day's walk, and my arm 
still bound to my side, I did not wait for dinner, but 
clambered up the bank, and seating myself beneath the 
shade of a cedar, took two sketches of the place, one 
of which looking south exhibits a singularly capped 
rock, standing detached in the canon. 

May 21st. A great change in the temperature of 
the air, has accompanied our descent from the high 
plains. The little stream on which we are encamped 
flows west ; so that it is now evident we have crossed 
the great dividing ridge, or central plateau which ex- 
tends from north to south across the whole continent 
of North America. 

Closely hemmed in on both sides by overhanging 
rocks, our route continued along the canon for five or 
six miles, directly in, or near the bed of the stream, 
each turn presenting some new scene of beauty and 
grandeur. Tall sycamores filled the narrow space 
between the walls of the defile, while flowering shrubs 
shooting their slender branches from the recesses where 


a little earth had given them a hold, formed a complete 
canopy over our heads. The various cacti, the agave, 
and the yucca also abounded, each nourishing in perfec- 
tion, and, as it were, striving for the ascendency. To 
these must be added the fouquiera, with its tall leafless 
stems and its brilliant scarlet flowers, which shot forth 
from every rocky crevice. 

On emerging from the canon our road led up a high 
hill where there was a level plateau, of a desert-like 
character, about eight miles across, with an excellent 
road, which brought us to the rich valley of San Ber- 
nardino. Here was stretched out before us a level 
patch of green, resembling a luxuriant meadow, some 
eight or ten miles long, by one broad ; and directly 
beyond, on a little spur of the plateau, lay the ruins of 
the hacienda of San Bernardino. Crossing this valley 
we stopped on the banks of a little stream, a tributary, 
or one of the sources of the Huaqui, which passes within 
a few rods of the ruins. As we approached, a flock of 
herons arose from the water, alarmed at the unusual 
invasion of their quiet haunt. One of them, whom 
curiosity had prompted to leave his companions and 
take a closer inspection of the intruders, fell a victim 
to his boldness, and was added to our ornithological 

San Bernardino is a collection of adobe buildings 
in a ruined state, of which nothing but the walls re- 
main. One of these buildings was about one hundred 
feet square, with a court in the centre ; and adjoining 
it were others with small apartments. The latter were 
doubtless the dwellings of the peons and herdsmen. 
The whole extending over a space of about two acres, 


was inclosed with a high wall of adobe, with regular 
bastions for defence. Being elevated some twenty or 
thirty feet above the valley, this hacienda commands a 
fine view of the country around. Vast herds of cattle 
were formerly raised here, but the frequent attacks of 
the Apaches led to the abandonment of the place. 
Some cattle which had strayed away and were not reco- 
vered at the time, have greatly multiplied since, and 
now roam over the plains and in the valleys, as wild and 
more fierce than the buffalo. Colonel Cooke, in his 
march to California, supplied his whole command with 
beef from these herds ; and the passing emigrants des- 
tined for that country, replenish their stores from the 
same source. I saw a number of these cattle when 
riding in advance of the party, but having only my 
double-barrelled gun and my revolvers with me, did 
not dare to shoot at them. These herds were small, 
not more than six in each, led by a stately bull. A 
wounded bull would be a serious antagonist, more so, I 
have been told than a buffalo. This establishment was 
abandoned about twenty years ago; since which time, 
no attempt has been made to reoccupy it. Such seems 
to be the case with all deserted places here ; a fatality 
or superstitious dread hangs over them, and when they 
have been left two or three years, they are not again 

After watering our animals, and giving them a 
couple of hours to feed on the rich grass here, we re- 
sumed our journey, taking a westerly direction. The 
road first entered a thick chapporal of mezquit through 
which it continued four or five miles ; when we struck 
for three mountains, in a line with each other from 


east to west ; the last of a conical form, crowned by a 
perpendicular mass of reddish rock, covered with 
green and yellow moss. Here the country was ex- 
ceedingly hilly and barren. For two or three miles 
the vegetation was limited to a perfect forest of the 
fouquieras j some of which grow to the height of 
twenty feet, their leafless stems crowned with scarlet 
flowers. I would have remained at San Bernardino 
for the night, but expected to find water at the base 
of these hills, as indicated by Colonel Cooke. We saw 
many places where there had been water, and even a 
running stream ; but all was dried up, and there was 
no alternative but to push on some twelve or fourteen 
miles to Black Water Creek, the Agua Prieta of the 
Mexicans. Emerging from the hills we came upon an 
open plain with an excellent road down a gradual de- 
scent for about ten miles; and seeing before us the 
bottom of the valley, with a line of bushes which I sup- 
posed to mark the stream we were in search of, I hur- 
ried on in advance of the wagons, in order to select a 
good place for an encampment. A couple of hours 
brought me to the spot, where to my great disappoint- 
ment, I found only a dry ravine without a drop of 
water; nor did it appear that there had been any 
there for months. Rank grass and weeds had sprung 
up in the bed where water had run, had come to ma- 
turity, and shrunk away for the want of further nou- 
rishment. Not a tree was near us, and every thing 
around had a most forbidding aspect. For a mile be- 
fore reaching this watercourse, we had noticed many 
well-beaten trails of wild cattle, some of which were 
quite fresh, and directed towards a common centre. 
VOL. i. — 17 


A few miles in advance, following the road, I also per- 
ceived a line of large cotton- woods. I hastened for- 
ward in advance of the party, and when I reached the 
spot, I directed Wells, my carriage driver, to look 
around among the trees and bushes, whose luxuriance 
indicated, their proximity to water. He had got but a 
few rods when I heard him halloa, and soon after take 
to a tree. His red flannel shirt had excited the ire of 
a bull, which, with a herd of wild cattle, was browsing 
among the bushes. But my party coming up at this 
juncture, they all took to their heels in single file, the 
bull leading the van, and were soon lost in the high 
chapporal. We were again doomed to disappoint- 
ment. No water was found. I now hastened back 
with all speed to Black Water Creek, where the train 
with the rest of the party had arrived. They were 
pondering what to do in the dilemma. Their disap- 
pointment being not less than my own. We had now 
come about twenty-two miles from the last water, and 
nearly forty from our last camping place in the Guada- 
lupe Pass. So confident had we been on leaving San 
Bernardino that we should find water at this place, if 
not at two intermediate stations, that we had not taken 
the trouble to fill our kegs. We always avoided carry- 
ing kegs of water when not absolutely necessary, on 
account of the weight, and the appearance of a river 
on the map was a sufficient excuse for omitting to do 
so at this time. For the same reason we had collected 
no wood. The place where we had stopped was also 
entirely destitute of grass, so that we had but a poor 
prospect of a meal before us. Two of us had a little 
water in our canteens ; we put this together, made a 


fire with some buffalo chips, t. e., dried cattle dung, 
and made a pot of coffee. It was now quite dark, and 
too late to look further for water. The mules were, 
therefore, fastened to the wagon wheels, and tongues, 
without food ; when we, all fatigued and supperless ; 
threw our blankets around us, and without pitching 
our tents, crept beneath the wagons, and tried to for- 
get our unpleasant situation in sleep. The bellowing 
of bulls and the incessant yelping of the wolves occa- 
sionally disturbed our slumbers ; nevertheless, we 
obtained a refreshing night's repose. 

Among the incidents of the day, the following 
deserves mention. Shortly before we stopped the atten- 
tion of the party was attracted by a glittering object, 
a few rods from the road. On examination it proved 
to be a highly polished bayonet ; and Colonel Craig 
immediately recognized it as belonging to a U. S. army 
musket. Further search disclosed a grave, which ap- 
peared to have been scratched open by the wolves, and 
the body carried off. A pair of soldier's pantaloons, 
and part of a cotton sheet were also found near. There 
was every reason to believe, therefore, that this was 
the grave of an American soldier, and probably of one 
of those who had deserted from the Copper Mines. 

While jogging along to-day, a wolf passed by, 
which I shot from my carriage door. Many antelopes 
were also seen, but we were in too great a hurry to go 
in pursuit of them. For the same reason none of the 
wild cattle were shot. 

May 22d. As soon as it was light, Colonel Craig, 
Mr. Thurber, and others set offin search of water. They 
took one of the fresh cattle trails ; and, after following 


it about two miles, they struck a fine spring, which we 
afterwards learned was known to the Mexicans by the 
name of Agua Prieta, or Black Water. To this place 
we immediately moved the wagons, and encamped for 
the day. 




Leave the California road — Agua Prieta — Send party to look for Fronteras 
— Mexican soldiers sent to guide us in — Journey resumed — Strike 
a rich valley — Break a wagon — Reach Fronteras — Description of the 
place — Abandoned by its people and recolonized — General Oarrasco — 
Couriers between the frontier posts — Attack by General Carrasco on 
Apaches at Janos — Campaign against the Apaches — General Carrasco's 
opinion of American officers — The Doctor beset by the sick — Leave 
Fronteras — Coquiarachi — Valley of Barbari — Wild turkeys — Moun- 
tain Pass — Gold Mine — Bacuachi — Sonora River — Magnificent canon 
— Chinapi — Curious sandstone formation — Arrival at Arispe. 

We had now reached the farthest point to which we 
could follow the California road ; our destination being 
Fronteras, the nearest town in Sonora, which is laid 
down on Cooke's map as about fourteen miles to the 
south, we must leave it here. But as no wagon road 
or trail could be discovered in that direction, I did 
not think it prudent to set off with our wagons with- 
out knowing more about the country. Colonel Cooke 
does not speak positively as to the distance of this 
place, having obtained his information from an Indian. 
I therefore despatched Messrs. Thurber, Cremony, and 
Stewart to find the place, and ascertain if the country 
between it and our camp was practicable for wagons. 
They took with them as guide a Mexican, named 


Jesus, one of our teamsters, who had visited the place 
some years before by another route, and knew the 
landmarks. This name is so common among Mexicans, 
particularly the lower classes, that one can seldom get 
half a dozen of them together without finding a Jesus 
in the company. We had two of the name in the 
Commission for a year ; both of whom, I am sorry to 
say, proved entirely unworthy of it. 

Remained quietly in our tents during the day, the 
mules and horses feeding on the grass near by. Par- 
ties went out in search of wild cattle, many having 
been seen at daylight; but they all returned unsuc- 
cessful. For lack of better sport, therefore, we amused 
ourselves in firing at wolves which constantly ap- 
proached the spring during the day ; only one how- 
ever was killed. During the night heard the bellowing 
of bulls in all directions. Several of our men were on 
the alert, but the cattle doubtless scented the danger, 
and would not approach. 

May 23d At 6 o'clock this morning we espied 
four strange looking figures dressed in white, ap- 
proaching the camp on a run, which my glass showed 
to be Mexicans. They proved to be a party from 
Fronteras, sent by General Carrasco, the officer in 
command ; they had left the night before at 8 o'clock, 
and brought letters from the General and from Mr. 
Thurber, who, with his party had reached there in 
safety. General C. extended the hospitalities of the 
place to us, and sent the four soldiers to be our guides. 
Mr. Thurber wrote that his party had taken a southerly 
direction across arroyos and through a dense chappo- 
ral, starting up numbers of wild cattle, until near sun- 

ARISPE. 263 

set, when they came in sight of the town. On drawing 
near they observed the greatest commotion in the 
place ; people were crowding in front of the church, 
and upon the house tops, and the steep street which 
led to the plaza, was thronged with women and chil- 
dren. Their approach had been observed by the sen- 
tinel on guard. He, supposing them to be Apaches, 
gave the alarm ; and the consequence was, a general 
turn out to repel the supposed attack. When the 
mistake was corrected, their fear of the Apaches gave 
place to wonder at los Americanos, these being the 
first specimens of the Yankee nation that many of the 
people had ever seen. 

We now hurried in the mules, and, rapidly com- 
pleting our preparation for the start, were off by 10 
o'clock. Our course lay south towards the western 
point of a high mountain. Our guides led us along a 
valley through which ran the stream called Black 
Water Creek, — that is to say, when there was water 
enough in it to run. We found it here and there in 
pools. The country was fiat, and covered with luxuriant 
grass, resembling a meadow. Our course was slow, 
being much impeded by deep gullies, some of which 
had to be cut down to let the wagons cross. In pass- 
ing one, where the bank was short and steep, the 
hounds of one of Colonel Craig's wagons were broken 
off. It was feared that we should be obliged to aban- 
don the vehicle ; but thanks to the ingenuity of my 
carriage driver, who spliced it with a crotched tree, we 
were able to proceed after a couple of hours' delay. 
These short and sudden plunges are more dangerous 
than long or even steep hills, and require the utmost 


care in passing them. The tongues and hounds are 
liable to snap off; and nothing so completely disables 
a wagon as an accident of this kind. As we pro- 
ceeded, the valley became more picturesque, being 
covered at intervals with mezquit trees, larger than 
any we had seen. In the afternoon we were again 
brought to a stand, and on turning to ascertain the 
cause, found that one of the tires of Colonel Craig's 
wagon had fallen off. This was repaired in half an 
hour by lashing it on with halter chains. As we 
approached the mountain, we found ourselves in a 
valley still more luxuriant, having a beautiful stream 
winding through it, overhung with walnut, ash, and 
cotton-wood trees. Finding it imposible after our 
delay to reach Fronteras to-day, we stopped at five 
o'clock near a fine grove, on the banks of the stream, 
where there was excellent water and an abundance of 
grass, and there pitched our tents for the night. 

May 24:th. At six o' clock we were off, keeping in 
the valley and following the stream which led around 
the western extremity of the mountain called Covayan. 
Our course still continuing south, we struck across an 
elevation, and entered the valley beyond, here covered 
with large cotton-wood trees. The road now continued 
level ; and after a ride of four hours, we reached Fron- 
teras. As we approached, men, women, and children 
came out to meet us, ours being the first American 
wagons that had ever been seen in the place. General 
Carrasco met me as I alighted from my carriage, and 
took me to his quarters. 

Fronteras was formerly a town of considerable im- 
portance. It was established about eighty years ago 



as a presidio, or garrison, and at one time contained 
two thousand inhabitants. The view of this town from 
a distance is pleasing. It stands upon a point of table 
land, which juts out into the valley like a promontory 

Fronteras, Sonora, 

in the sea. The church forms the prominent object in 
the landscape, and its style is quite picturesque ; its 
effect also is heightened by its somewhat ruined con- 
dition. Along the steep sides of the hill, the houses 
are placed, rising one above another, which makes the 
place appear much larger than it really is. Once within 
the town, one's ideas of the picturesque are soon dissi- 
pated by the sight of its ruined adobe buildings ; though 
he soon forgets the desolation around him in looking; 


upon the green fertile valley spread at his feet. Fron- 
teras, like most of the military colonies, fell into decay, 
chiefly from the neglect of the central government to 
properly provide for the soldiery, in consequence of 
which, the inhabitants were left without protection 
from the attacks of the savages. To such an extent did 
the place suffer from the incursions of the Apaches, 
who killed off the herdsmen, drove the cultivators from 
the fields, and took captive the women and children, 
that about three years ago it was entirely abandoned. 
Within six months General Carrasco has re-established 
the colony, a new population, including many of its 
former inhabitants, have taken possession, and in many 
respects it appears like an old settled town. Acequias 
have also been opened, large fields of wheat and corn 
cover the beautiful valley, numerous cattle graze on 
the meadows, and the importance which the place 
once enjoyed seems about to return. 

Fronteras is supported by a valley two miles in 
width, which we entered about six miles from the town. 
This space of arable land, limited as it is, is said to be 
one of the largest and best in Sonora. The soil is ex- 
ceedingly rich, and is capable of producing abundant 
crops of maize and wheat (the only cereals cultivated), 
fruits of various sorts, and, with pains, every kind of 
vegetables. But here, as in all other parts of Mexico 
that I have seen, this species of culture is but little 
attended to. Beans, pumpkins, and onions are raised, 
it is true, but all other vegetables are unknown. 

A small stream passes by Fronteras, which, although 
called a river, would scarcely be characterized as a 
creek in the United States ; but all the streams here are 

ARISPB. 267 

very small. This river winds its way through moun- 
tains, and occasionally expands, forming a valley or 
bottom covered with rank grass and luxuriant foliage. 
It is here called Fronteras River, and like many other 
streams in the country, changes its name with the towns 
it passes. Lower down it is called the -Sonora River, 
by which name I shall speak of it in future. 

General Carrasco is at present in command of all the 
troops on this frontier. He has increased the number 
of posts, and keeps up a weekly communication between 
them all by means of couriers, two of which, armed with 
musket and lance, traverse the broad deserts, eluding 
the Apaches, who are lying in wait for all small parties 
of travellers. They perform most of their journeys at 
night, and generally go on a trot, by which means they 
accomplish nearly as much in a given time as a horse. 
War in the field does not succeed against Indians, for 
unless they feel strong enough to overcome their foe at 
once, and with little loss, they retire and are not to be 
found. The General has determined to carry the war 
into their very fastnesses, and to make it one of exter- 
mination. If his troops were equal to their commander, 
the Apaches might have cause of fear. He lately made 
a successful descent upon the Indians at Janos. This 
place is in the State of Chihuahua, which is at peace 
with the Indians, and whose government serves them 
with rations. Taking advantage of this, they carry 
their predatory excursions into the State of Sonora, 
and run off large numbers of mules and horses, which 
they take to the frontier towns of Chihuahua and sell. 
General Carrasco, being informed of this, disregarded 
the State limits, and came suddenly upon the town of 


Janos, near which he found a body of Indians, whom 
he attacked and routed. Some twenty men were killed, 
and fifty or sixty, chiefly women and children, were 
taken prisoners. These were sent into the interior, and 
there distributed among the haciendas and ranchos as 
servants, too far off ever to reach their homes again. 
The military commander, Colonel Medina, was much 
enraged at the proceedings of the Sonorian General in 
invading his territory, and reported the case to the 
central government, which, however, approved of Car- 
rasco's course. 

When we entered the town, the General was just 
preparing to set out on a campaign against the 
Indians on the Gila; and his troops, nearly four hun- 
dred in all, were assembling in front of the town. 
There were three companies of infantry and one of 
horse. Some were dressed in blue great coats and 
high caps, and others in short jackets, while all wore 
the common loose white cotton drawers and shirts of 
the country. Many sported broad-brimmed glazed 
hats, with a white band, while the hats of others were 
of straw ; but in all cases these coverings were stuck 
on the top of the head, and tied under the chin. 
Every variety of costume seemed admissible ; and the 
only point in which they all agreed was in being 
exceedingly dirty. There was scarcely a pair of shoes 
among them, the substitute being sandals of raw hide, 
fastened with thongs of the same material. The offi- 
cers in this corps, several of whom I learned were from 
the city of Mexico, appeared to be intelligent men. 
They were well dressed, and exhibited a striking 
contrast with the privates. I also noticed among 

ARISPB. 269 

the non-commissioned officers a sergeant, who was an 
Apache Indian. This man had long been in the Mexi- 
can service, where he was well treated. He exhibited 
much intelligence, and being familiar with the haunts 
of his people, was to guide the Mexican soldiers in 
their campaign. 

The camp equipage and simple fare of these sol- 
diers presents a striking contrast with what an Ame- 
rican brigade would deem necessary. Each man, be- 
sides his musket, forty rounds of ammunition, and a 
blanket, carries rations for six days, the daily ration 
consisting of two pounds of pinole (coarse wheat or 
Indiana meal) ; half a pound of dried beef, and half a 
pound of panoche, the coarse brown sugar of the coun- 
try. The beef is cooked on the coals before starting, 
and the pinole requires no other preparation than stir- 
ring with water, and sweetening with panoche. Cook- 
ing utensils are, therefore, unnecessary, and a tin or 
coarse earthen cup is all that is required. Every man 
carries a sheath or jack-knife ; and even this may be 
dispensed with, for the meat is dried in long strips, 
and pulled to pieces with the teeth and fingers. Be- 
sides what these soldiers carried, there were some sixty 
pack mules, laden with camp equipage for the officers, 
tents, ammunition, provisions, and corn, a very small 
train for a body of four hundred men, about to traverse 
a desert country, where no supplies could be procured. 

The inhabitants just now are very poor, as they 
have not yet begun to realize any thing from their 
crops. Estimating their returns at the usual rate, 
they expect to obtain about twelve thousand bushels 
of corn and wheat the coming harvest. For their pre- 


sent subsistence they rely entirely upon dried meat 
from the wild cattle, and pinole. Not a particle of 
coffee, chocolate, or rice was to be obtained in the 
place. On my making known to General Carrasco 
that I wished to purchase some beef and corn, he 
ordered an ox to be killed and sent to our camp in 
the morning, together with a bale containing a hun- 
dred pounds of dried beef, and eight or ten bags of 
corn, for none of which would he receive any pay. 
During the hour or two spent at his quarters he 
entered into a warm discussion with Colonel Craig on 
the battles in which the Mexican and American armies 
had been engaged in the late war, in several of which 
he had participated, and respecting all of which he 
was very well informed. He seemed to understand 
well the qualities of our general officers, and expressed 
the most unbounded admiration for several, particu- 
larly the Commander-in-Chief. He did not approve of 
the plan of making General Scott President ; but said 
the United States should present him with three mil- 
lions of dollars, and give him the mission to England 
or France. 

Our camp was below the hill, about a quarter of a 
mile from the town, beneath the branches of a gigan- 
tic cotton-wood. Here we were detained four days, 
to make the necessary repairs on Colonel Craig's 
wagons. The first day little was done. The next 
being Sunday, the mechanics would not work at all, 
even with promises of large pay ; yet they sang, and 
danced, and drank aguardiente all the afternoon and 
evening. On Monday our men took hold of the job, 
and by Tuesday night the wagons were in readiness 

ARISPE. 271 

to move. The people of the place, for want of other 
employment, hung about our camp from morning to 
night, though the cooking department seemed to pos- 
sess the greatest attraction for them. Men, women, 
and children crowded around the presiding function- 
ary, for the double purpose of cultivating a knowledge 
of the culinary art and of picking up such scraps as he 
thought proper to bestow upon them. Their own 
cooking is all done in earthen vessels ; and the abun- 
dance of iron utensils with which we were furnished 
seemed to impress them with the idea of our great 
wealth. The doctor, too, was beset by these people. 
Their complaints were chiefly diseases of the eyes, and 
such others as result from improper food and unclean 
habits. The doctor accompanied his medicine with a 
lecture on that virtue which ranks next to godliness, 
and the necessity of employing their time in industrial 
pursuits, and of obtaining by their own energies the 
comforts they so much need. He prescribed and gave 
a small quantity of rice to a sick woman, and soon 
found that nearly all her sisterhood in the place stood 
in need of similar aliment. 

I found many of these people quite desirous to 
emigrate to the Copper Mines ; and they earnestly 
begged permission to accompany me back. Some 
fourteen years before, when the mines were worked, 
a considerable trade between here aud that place 
was carried on, which, if we maintained a post there, 
would probably be resumed. 

It is difficult to make the people of this place 
believe that we are not a party of traders ; and every 
hour in the day we have calls to sell needles, thread, 


and a hundred little articles. They seem different in 
many respects from those of the towns on the Rio 
Grande, where contact with the Americans has had 
its effect (would that I could say for good) upon the 
Mexicans. Their manners and habits of living are 
more simple, and their hospitality more warm and 
generous, though with much less means for its display. 
We observe that the olla, or earthen pot, which is 
almost their only domestic utensil, is different and 
better finished than that of El Paso. They are also 
borne differently when used as water-jars ; those of El 
Paso being carried on the shoulder, and supported by 
one hand, while the women here, without exception, 
walk with a firm step and erect figure, with these frail 
vessels, frequently containing four or five gallons of 
water, balanced upon their heads. 

The morning before we left, a wild bull was 
brought to us. These animals are pursued by the 
Mexicans on horseback, caught by a lariat, and 
thrown. They are then secured by the horns, the 
tips of which are first sawed off, to a domesticated 
animal ; and thus tied, they come along quietly 
enough. We selected such portions of this animal 
as we wanted; and the remainder, including the head 
and offal, was eagerly seized upon by the people, who 
had been watching the process of butchering with as 
much delight as the starving wolf or buzzard does a 
perishing mule. 

May 28th. Took our departure at seven o'clock, 
and at a short distance passed the first way-side cross. 
Though we met them frequently enough afterwards, 
we saw none as striking as this. It was about ten 

ARISPE. 273 

feet high., covered with evergreen, and supported at 
the base by a large mound of loose stones. Usually, 
these crosses are simply two rough sticks bound 
together in the form of the sacred emblem ; though 
some we saw were constructed with more care, and 
had inscriptions carved on them. They mark the 
places where travellers have been murdered by the 

About six miles from Fronteras we passed a small 
stream running through a little valley, on the opposite 
side of which, on the edge of the plateau, stood the 
deserted village of Gocuidrachi. The fields that 
skirted the roads, the rows of pomegranate trees in 
full bloom, and the orchards of peach, pear, and mul- 
berry, all betokened a high state of cultivation. We 
halted a few moments at the place, and entered 
many of its tenantless houses, which are fast falling to 
ruin. The church was in good condition ; for the 
savages, though they often burn and destroy the habi- 
tations of the people, always spare their places of 
worship. It was indeed sad to see such desolation, 
where but a few years before there had been so much 
happiness. On leaving this place we ascended a long 
and very steep hill, to accomplish which we had to* 
double our teams. Continuing on the plateau for six 
or eight miles, we again descended into a pleasant 
valley, called Barbabi, thickly covered with oaks. As 
we were moving along through these, a flock of wild 
turkeys flew up, from which one of the party dropped 
a fine large one with a pistol shot. Having now made 
twenty miles, and finding ourselves in one of the most 

romantic spots we had yet seen, with fine grass and 
VOL. i. — 18 


water at hand, we pitched our tents beneath some 
oaks and rested for the night. We were in a com- 
plete amphitheatre of low rounded hills, all covered 
with trees, with a high and rugged mountain on the 
south. Taking it altogether, I had seen nothing that 
reminded me so strongly of the scenery of Vermont 
and New Hampshire. Near the little brook where we 
encamped were some wild currant bushes, from which 
we gathered an abundance of fine fruit. These made 
into a sauce, and added to our turkey, furnished us 
such a supper as does not often fall to the lot of travel- 
lers. A deer, too, was killed, which was laid aside for 
the morrow. This valley, owing to its seclusion, is 
considered one of the most dangerous places in the 
country, a hundred persons having been murdered 
here within the last two years. 

May 29th. Owing to the great heat during the 
middle of the day, I determined to set off early. By 
daybreak, therefore, we were under way, and soon 
after entered a mountain pass or canon, which proved 
to be exceedingly difficult for our animals. So long 
and steep were the ascents, that at each of them we 
were obliged to double the teams, and at every descent 
to chain the wheels. The valleys and mountain sides 
were covered with oaks, while the summits, as far as I 
could judge, were covered with pines. The whole 
country during the night had been on fire, including 
the mountain ; so that every thing around us was now 
black and gloomy. One of Colonel Craig's wagons 
again broke in this defile, causing a delay of several 
hours. These mountains are said to contain gold, and 
we were told that " lumps," in comparison with which 

ARISPE. 275 

those of California are but gravel stones, could be had 
for the picking up. Our Mexican guide told us that 
he had obtained a thousand dollars there in one week ; 
and we afterwards learned that the placers had really 
been worked with great results, but the frequent in- 
roads of the Apaches had caused them to be abandoned. 
After leaving the canon, our course lay south-east 
over a pleasant and well-wooded country of oak, ash, 
and mezquit. The latter increases much in size as we 
proceed south. Reached a small running stream, when 
a beautiful valley a mile in width opened upon us, with 
luxuriant fields of wheat, corn, and pease. It was inter- 
sected by a broad acequia, the course of which was 
marked for a mile or more by a line of cotton-woods 
and willows. At the western extremity of this valley, 
on a spur of the plateau, stood the village of Bacuachi. 
This is a peculiarity of all Mexican towns on the fron- 
tier. Farmers do not build their ranchos or houses on 
their arable lands, but congregate on the desert table- 
land, elevated from thirty to a hundred feet above 
the adjacent valley from which they derive their 
subsistence. The great end of security is thus at- 
tained at the sacrifice of all comfort and convenience ; 
no trees or shrubbery grow about the houses, nor is a 
blade of grass to be seen, but a glaring reflection from 
the light, gravelly soil strikes the eye, which is doubt- 
less one cause of so many diseases of that organ. A 
house surrounded by foliage with a grassy lawn, which 
makes a country residence so attractive, even though 
it be but a humble cottage, is unknown here. Indeed 
these people at present know not what comfort is ; but 
with their rich soil and the advantages of irrigation, a 


few years only of peace and safety would be required 
to make these beautiful valleys the most charming 
abodes imaginable. 

We did not stop in the village, but drove on to the 
banks of the stream which ran at the foot of the hill 
beyond, and there encamped. The inhabitants, who 
had been in great consternation, came rushing down 
the hill towards our camp, greatly relieved at ascer- 
taining our peaceable character. 

After arranging the camp we strolled up to the 
village, which turned out to be a truly miserable place. 
Though once prosperous, it is now nearly depopulated. 
It is surrounded by an adobe wall about five feet in 
height, intended doubtless as an inclosure for cattle, 
rather than as a work of defence. The houses were 
mostly in a dilapidated state, and the church itself was 
roofless, though a few branches of trees had been laid 
from wall to wall to keep the sun from the heads of the 
devout. But if the church was suffered to become a 
ruin, the good people had taken care of certain noisy 
appendages, without which they could not realize that 
they worshipped their Creator. Near their church they 
had suspended from a beam by thongs of raw hide, 
resting on two forked sticks, three fine old Spanish 
bells, one of them bearing the date of 1695, the other 
of 1721. 

Our visit attracted much attention, and we were 
soon surrounded by groups of the inhabitants, eager to 
know who we were and what had brought us to this 
secluded spot. I inquired for the alcalde, and on 
being conducted to him, exhibited my letters from 
Generals Conde and Carrasco, which quieted all fears. 

ARISPE. 277 

We were invited to take a seat upon an adobe projec- 
tion, a cool though rather hard substitute for a settee, 
whereupon we entered into conversation with the 
alcalde, and groups of inquisitive followers. Indian 
depredations formed the sole topic of our conversation ; 
and much surprise was expressed at our boldness in 
venturing so far with so small a party. In such con- 
stant fear do these people live, that I found it impossi- 
ble to hire two men to take out our mules to a meadow 
half a mile from the village. At length I addressed 
to the authorities a formal demand for two herdsmen ; 
this was complied with, and two men soon after ap- 
peared, armed to the teeth. But by this time we had 
made arrangements to have some green wheat cut and 
brought to the camp, which enabled us to dispense 
with the grazing. By scouring the town we succeeded 
in purchasing three dozen eggs, the entire stock on 
hand. American coin would not pass. We offered in 
pay both half dollars and gold half eagles; but they 
shook their heads. To my question, " Is it not good 
gold and silver ? " I received the universal reply of 
" Quien sabe f " Who knows ? Fortunately we had a 
few Mexican dollars, which we were obliged to change 
for the joles, or copper coin of the State, 128 of which 
make a dollar. 

On returning to camp, we found it full of people ; 
and it was with difficulty that the cooks could prepare 
our meal for the crowd of wondering spectators that 
surrounded the fires. I thought I had seen human 
wretchedness in its worst state, but here was a lower 
depth. A more degraded, filthy, destitute population 
than this, can hardly exist. Their number is about 


one thousand. Distance travelled to-day, twenty-one 

May 30th. Soon after leaving Bacuachi, we turned 
from the valley and took the bed of the Sonora River. 
The mountains here approach so close together that 
the river has barely washed its passage through, and 
no valley or bottom is again seen for many miles. We 
entered this canon by the bed of the river, which is 
but a few inches deep, crossing and recrossing it a 
hundred times during the day's journey. Sometimes 
for miles we were so closely hemmed in by the perpen- 
dicular sides of this extraordinary defile, which rose six 
or eight hundred feet above on either hand, that we 
could not see a hundred yards before or behind us; 
and at other places, the dense foliage which sprung up 
from little islands, hung like a canopy over our heads. 
The whole course of the river through this canon 
affords a series of most delightful scenes; and the first 
few miles of the ride through it will long be remem- 
bered by those who enjoyed it, as the most beautiful 
portion of our route. The rocks through which the 
stream has forced its way, exhibited the most pictu- 
resque and fantastic forms. Columns, turrets, towers 
and pyramids, as nature made them, decked with bril- 
liant flowers or bearing strange cacti, appeared at 
every turn. From projecting ledges sprung the yucca 
and agave, where there seemed scarcely soil enough to 
give them a foothold. The air was filled with a deli- 
cious perfume from the grape and mellilot ; and birds 
of brilliant plumage and sweetest song flitted across 
our path. 

It will hardly be necessary for me to remark, that 

ARISPE. 279 

there is no wagon road here, nor have we seen one 
since we left the California road at Agua prieta. The 
country admits of nothing but mule paths; and what little 
transportation there is, is carried on the backs of mules. 
Yet, with a guide, we managed to push our way with 
my carriage and six mule wagons through this defile, 
by cutting away the bushes and following the bed of 
the stream. Had there been any falls in this perpen- 
dicular canon, we should have been in a sad predica- 
ment ; but fortunately the descent of the river was very 
gentle, creating only a slight ripple here and there. 
Deer and turkeys were frequently seen, but there were 
so many places of concealment, that on the first alarm 
they eluded our search, and none were killed. After 
leaving the canon a valley opened upon us, still hem- 
med in by mountains ; this we followed about nine 
miles, and encamped near a cluster of adobe houses, 
which bears the name of Chinapi. Distance travelled 
about twenty-two miles. 

Just before reaching this place we met some Mexi- 
cans, from whom we inquired the distance. Wishing 
also to obtain some information relative to the products 
and population of the country, we asked, " How many 
people are there in Chinapi ?" The reply was, " Bas- 
tante" Enough. "How many are enough?" u Quien 
sabe f " Who knows ? In my intercourse and jour- 
neyings with the lower class of Mexicans, these same 
replies have been given to me a hundred times. Had 
I asked if the place contained five hundred people, the 
answer would probably have been, " Quisas" Perhaps. 
But when they don't know what to answer, the universal 
reply is, " Quien sabe" The proper expression, "iVbse," 



I do not know, is rarely heard, even among intelli- 
gent people, so habituated have they all become to the 
other form. 

One of the sandstone formations which lay directly 
by our path, after we had left the canon and were 
journeying along the valley, presented so singular an 
appearance, that I made a hasty sketch of it as I passed. 
The three columnar masses are about fifty feet in 
height. A small stream flows directly at their base, 
where there is a dam to raise the water and direct it 
into an acequia which irrigates the valley around. 

Columnar Rocks near Arispe. 

May Slst. Our route continued along the bed of 
the river for about ten miles, the valley widening as 
we advanced and becoming more cultivated, when at 



length we reached Arispe and encamped in the Ala- 
meda, a beautiful park about a thousand feet in length. 
As soon as our tents were pitched, Colonel Craig and 
Mr. Cremony took my letters, and went up into the 
town to pay their respects to Colonel Garcia the com- 
manding officer. Several officers soon after called on 

Arispe, Sonora. 

, me and invited myself and party to dinner at 5 o'clock. 
The invitation was accepted by Colonel Craig, four 
gentlemen of the Commission and myself. The Padre 
and several prominent citizens were present, and an 
elegant dinner was set before us, particularly rich in 
fruit and vegetables, for which we felt a great craving. 




Description of Arispe — Primitive church service — Scarcity of grain and 
fruit and abundance of vegetables — Set out on our return — Broken down 
wagon abandoned — Reach Fronteras — A blacksmith's independence — 
Celebration of a Saint's day — Manufacture of aguardiente — Various 
uses of the Maguay — Doctor's fees — Broken wagon metamorphosed into 
a cart — Sorry plight of a wild bull — Strike Cooke's road — Traces of fire 
in the Guadalupe Pass — Mexican encampment — Story of Americans 
attacked by Apaches — Reach the Copper Mines — Colonel Graham not 
arrived— Visit General Conde's camp and consult with Lieutenant 
Whipple — Return to the Copper Mines. 

Arispe was formerly the capital of the State of Sonora ; 
but becoming involved in the civil wars which distracted 
that State in 1828, the seat of government was in 1832 
removed to Ures, where it now remains. In the time 
of its prosperity, it is said to have contained a popula- 
tion of five thousand inhabitants ; but the civil discords 
and the encroachments of the Indians have reduced it 
to less than fifteen hundred. The buildings are far 
superior to any we have seen among the Mexicans, 
and particularly to those of El Paso. The majority 
are built of adobe, though there are many of stone. 
They are all higher than any we have observed else- 
where, and are capped with a projection of brick, 


besides having a variety of architectural ornaments 
sufficient to impress one with the former wealth of the 
place and taste of its people. It is indeed melancholy, 
to walk through its deserted streets, and see its dilapi- 
dated tenements, neglected courts, and closed stores. 
The only building of particular interest is the church, 
which was once a fine edifice, but is now fast falling 
to decay. Its interior is of unpleasing proportions, its 
length, as in most churches of the frontier where large 
timber cannot be procured, being too great for its 
breadth. It contains some fine pictures among the 
hundred or more that are suspended from its walls. 
They are all in beautifully carved frames richly gilt; 
but both pictures and frames are suffering from neglect. 
The altar is covered with massive plates of embossed 
silver, and there is a profusion of this metal displayed 
in the shape of massive flower vases, chandeliers, cen- 
sers, etc. We attended mass, and found the church 
filled almost exclusively with women. The music was 
performed by a band in which clarionets predominated, 
and we recognized among the tunes several of our 
popular Ethiopian airs, such as "Dearest May." The 
singing was performed by two girls, who seemed to 
have perfected themselves in the art under the tuition 
of the Chinese. 

We find the same scarcity of provisions here as in 
the other towns we have stopped at, and that it will 
be impossible to procure any fruits, or vegetables with 
which to load our teams ; at least there are none that 
admit of transportation. It is not the season for 
oranges, lemons, pomegranates, or grapes, and we find 
that there is no dried fruit of any kind. The more sub- 


stantial articles of food are also scarce and high. Corn 
is nine dollars the fanega of two and a half bushels, 
wheat seven dollars, and other articles proportionably 
high. The reason given for the scarcity is, that for 
two years past such numbers have emigrated to Cali- 
fornia that scarcely enough was raised for the consump- 
tion of the people. This year they are returning to 
their senses and their homes, and there is every pros- 
pect of an abundance in the fall. The few stores in 
the place are miserably furnished, their stocks being 
chiefly dry goods suited to the Mexican market. The 
only redeeming feature of the place is its gardens; 
these were evidently established in days of prosperity, 
and some few are still in tolerable keeping. We 
passed several hours in strolling through them. Lofty 
palms lift up their heads of fan-like leaves above the 
groves of pomegranates, oranges, and lemons. We 
found apricots in perfection, and the apple, pear, peach, 
and quince trees full of promise. The quince is said 
to be the best known in the world, and eatable with- 
out cooking. We enjoy here what we have been so 
long strangers to — fresh vegetables ; and from the 
quantity of peas, beans, etc., consumed by our little 
party, one would suppose they were storing up a pre- 
ventive against the scurvy for a year to come. Water 
is carried about the streets in bags of raw hide. These 
have a hole at the bottom, and into it a horn is inserted 
point downwards, which acts as a valve. Two of these 
bags are slung upon the back of a donkey. 

During our stay of three days at this place we 
received much attention from the officers as well as 
from several of the citizens. The better class of Mexi- 


cans, particularly those of pure Castilian blood, are 
every where noted for their courteous manners and 
hospitality. All foreign tourists in Mexico say that 
they never tasted good chocolate till they drank it 
here ; an assertion in which we fully agreed. It is 
usually prepared in families from the cocoa-nut, and 
one accustomed to the Yankee compound of that name 
would hardly recognize it as the same article. The 
same curiosity in regard to our culinary and other 
operations was manifested here as elsewhere by the 
crowds around our tents. The use of the tooth-brush 
was looked upon as something very droll, and the 
taking of a seidlitz powder, a phenomenon in the way 
of drinking which they could not comprehend. We 
were again beset here by would-be purchasers, who 
could hardly be persuaded that we did not come to 
trade. Like the people of the other towns we had 
passed, they were in constant fear of the Apaches, 
and we were told that no one dared venture into the 
Alameda after dark. 

June 3d Set off this morning on our return, in 
advance of the wagons, which required some slight 
repairs. We followed as before the bed of the Sonora 
river, which, in our day's journey of seventeen miles, 
we crossed and re-crossed fifty-one times. At 12 
o'clock, having struck a pleasant spot where there was 
fine grass, with other necessaries for an encampment, 
we stopped, believing that it would be quite as far as 
the teams could come owing to the difficulties of the 
road. At 5 o'clock the wagons joined us, the mules 
showing great fatigue. 

June 4:th. Resumed our journey this morning 


at half-past five, our route being through the great 
canon. Having less cutting to do than before, and 
being acquainted with the road, we accomplished 
our task in nine hours, and drove on two miles 
beyond Bacuachi, where we encamped. In passing 
the town we endeavored to replenish our stock of 
eggs ; but a single dozen was all the place afforded. 
The wagons stopped in the canon, to rest and feed 
the mules ; which prevented their reaching camp till 
5 o'clock. Distance travelled fifteen miles. 

June 5th. Remained in camp till noon, to repair 
one of Colonel Craig's wagons, which had received 
some damage in the canon. We then set off and 
pushed on rapidly, over a pretty level and easy road 
for twelve or fifteen miles, which brought us to the 
foot of the mountains. Before attempting the passage 
of the defile, which would be more difficult than it 
was in coming through, it being now chiefly on the 
ascent, we doubled the teams at once, putting ten 
mules to each wagon. All went on very well until we 
came to a steep hill with a sidelong slant. The car- 
riage led the way ; but with all the care of my driver, 
the mules unable to maintain their position slid on their 
haunches, and on coming to a narrow turn the tongue 
snapped off, and the carriage was with great difficulty 
saved from upsetting. The first wagon that followed 
was one of my own, driven by Jesus. On coming to 
the same treacherous place, in spite of all our efforts 
to prevent it, the wagon slid down, bringing the for- 
ward wheel suddenly against a rock, and crushing it 
almost into atoms ; the wagon turned bottom upwards, 
rolling down the ravine, and scattering its contents as 


it went. Before the other wagons were suffered to 
descend, we filled up the lower side of the road as 
well as we could with stones ; then placing a man at 
the head of each mule, with others to hold back the 
wagons, let them gradually down in safety. 

It was nearly dark, and we were in a narrow gorge 
of the mountains where there was barely room for the 
wagons to pass. The whole earth had lately been 
burned over to the very mountain tops, which were 
even now throwing up columns of flame and smoke ; 
not a blade of grass was to be seen, no water was 
near, and there was not a level space sufficient to pitch 
our tents. To remain here would have been injudi- 
cious, and the only alternative was to leave the broken 
wagon with its contents, which was chiefly corn, and 
push on to the place where we had encamped on our 
journey down. By this time Wells, with his usual 
ingenuity, had managed to splice the tongue of the 
carriage with his chains and halter ropes. Such arti- 
cles of value as we did not wish to leave exposed, were 
placed in the other wagons, and the corn was piled up 
by the road side. All being ready, Dr. Webb and 
myself set off on foot, unwilling to burden the carriage 
in its weak state, as the road continued bad ; besides, 
I felt safer in having my movements under my own 
control than in threading my way in a wheeled vehicle, 
through such a defile as we were now passing after 
dark. The horsemen followed us, and the carriage 
and wagons came after. In this manner we worked 
our way slowly along by the dim starlight that glim- 
mered through the forest ; for the canon was thickly 
overgrown with trees. It was nearly 10 o'clock before 


we came upon the opening where we had stopped 
before, and half an hour more brought us to our old 
camping ground. Few were disposed, after the fa- 
tigues of the day, to wait for supper ; for my own 
part, I had walked not less than twelve miles over 
rugged mountains, and felt that rest would do me 
more good than eating. The tents were pitched ; and 
after a refreshing cup of tea, which our cook had 
hastily prepared, we wrapped ourselves in our blan- 
kets, and were soon lost in sleep. 

June Qth. We lay by to-day to repair damages. 
The first thing done was to send a man back some fif- 
teen miles, with a mule for the forewheel of a broken 
wagon which we had noticed in passing ; and to dis- 
patch others to the scene of our disaster in the canon, 
to bring the wreck of the wagon and its contents to 
our camp. 

I have before spoken of the picturesque spot where 
we were now encamped, it being the same in which 
we passed the night of the 27th May; and as we were 
obliged to stop for a day, we were most fortunate in 
having reached so desirable a place. I spent the day 
in wandering about the hills with my gun and sketch 
book ; others who went in pursuit of game got a deer 
and a turkey. When fatigued with our rambles, we 
returned and spent a few hours in gathering wild cur- 
rants which abounded within twenty feet of our tents. 
Believing we could not make a better use of our 
panoche (sugar) than in preserving the currants, the 
cook appropriated a large portion of our stock to this 

In the afternoon Jesus arrived with the wheel, 


which, unfortunately, would not fit our axle. Hoping 
to repair our damage at Fronteras, now twenty miles 
distant, we put the corn into the other wagons, and 
trussed the broken one up in a way that would enable 
us to get there with it. 

June *Ith. No event of interest occurred to-day : 
the broken wagon was brought along very well, and 
we reached Fronteras early in the afternoon. 

June 8th. I applied to a blacksmith the first thing 
this morning to repair our broken wheel ; but as it 
was some Saint's day, nothing could induce him to 
work, and he even expressed some doubts about under- 
taking it on the morrow. In the afternoon the fellow 
came to my tent, and had the impudence to ask for a 
couple of dollars to spend at a fandango in the even- 
ing, in which case I should have his services on the 
wheel the next day — of course by paying for them. 
I was so completely in the fellow's power, for the order 
of the commandante had no effect upon him, that I 
gave him the two dollars, and took the risk of getting 
the work done. 

The day was one of great jollity among the whole 
population; and as they had been for a day or two 
engaged in distilling mezcal, or aguardiente, from the' 
agave, they succeeded in getting gloriously drunk.. 
But there is a wonderful difference between a Mex- 
ican and an Irishman in this predicament. The latter- 
when intoxicated, however mild his natural disposi- 
tion, becomes frantic and is ready for a fight or any 
kind of violence. The Mexican, on the contrary, 
though boisterous, is seldom vicious or troublesome. 
His desire is then for fun and frolic ; and nothing cam 
VOL. i. — 19 


restrain him from indulging in these as long as he re- 
mains under the influence of liquor. Towards night 
we heard noises approaching, which we finally decided 
were intended for music. A rabble at length reached 
our camp, headed by two fellows, sawing lustily upon 
violins of domestic manufacture. They performed 
several pieces, among which I noticed " Oh, Susannah," 
" Dan Tucker," and other popular airs which had pro- 
bably been introduced by the Sonorians, who had 
returned from California. Having entertained us suf- 
ficiently, one of them stepped forward, and informed 
us that there was to be a fandango in the evening, and 
that we were invited to attend. They then gave a 
few more morceaux and left us. 

Mezcal, or aguardiente, is a spirituous liquor of 
great strength, much more so than our strongest whis- 
key. It is obtained from the bulb or root of the 
maguay or agave mexicana, and is the common alcoholic 
drink throughout the country. The process of making 
this liquor is as follows : A hole is first dug some ten 
or twelve feet in diameter, and about three deep, and 
is lined with stones. Upon this a fire is built and 
kept up until the stones are thoroughly heated. A 
layer of moist grass is then thrown upon the stones, 
and on this are piled the bulbs of the maguay, which 
vary in size, from one's head to a half bushel measure, 
resembling huge onions. These are again covered 
with a thicker layer of grass ; and the whole is al- 
lowed to remain until they are thoroughly baked.* 
They are then removed to large leathern bags, and 

* My readers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts will notice a strong 


water is poured on them to produce fermentation. At 
the end of a week the bags are emptied of the maguay 
and its liquor, which, after undergoing the process of 
distillation, is ready for use. 

But the mezcal is the least important of the uses 
to which the maguay is applied. When its stem is 
tapped there flows from it a juice which, on being 
fermented, produces the pulque, a favorite beverage in 
Central and Lower Mexico, though little known in the 
Northern States. From the fibres of its massive leaves, 
which grow to five or six feet in length, and two 
inches in thickness, is spun a stout thread, which is 
again doubled, and twisted into ropes. Next, a heavy 
bagging is made of it, similar to that in which our 
coffee comes to market. Again, the more delicate 
leaves are rolled up into balls, and these, on being 
pounded, form a lather which answers the purpose 
of soap. It is likewise used to a great extent as a 
thatch. The younger leaves are eagerly eaten by cat- 
tle ; and it is said that the minute particles of silica in 
its stem render it, when cut longitudinally into strips, 
an excellent substitute for a razor strop. But there is 
yet another use to which it is applied, viz., as an article 
of food. For this purpose the bulbs or roots are baked 
in the ashes, or in the same manner as for making 
aguardiente, and the outer skin stripped off. It is then 
sweet, and rather pleasant to the taste, and is exten- 
sively used by the Indians on the Gila as well as by 

resemblance to their manner of baking clams ; tbe only difference being 
that for the clams, they use the wet sea-weed, when the Mexicans use 
the green grass. 


the Mexicans on the Rio Grande, who are too lazy to 
cultivate the soil and raise corn. The engineers 
attached to the Commission told me that the entire 
Mexican population at Presidio del Norte, consisting 
of a thousand souls, had no other food for more than 
six months.* 

June 9 th. In camp at Fronteras. The people 
crowded around us as on the previous visit, some to 
see the doctor, and others the cook. The doctor 
found the bread he had cast upon the waters return- 
ing ; bottles of aguardiente, cakes of sugar, and piles 
of tortillas, came to him at the hands of the senoras 
and senoritas in such profusion as to excite the envy 
of the young gentlemen of the party, many of whom 
applied for the office of hospital steward with the hope 
of sharing some of the perquisites. But how shocked 
were the good people when they saw to what base 
purposes their precious aguardiente was converted. 
The doctor, although he received the liquor readily 
enough, had no idea of applying it to the purposes 
intended by the donors, but used it for preserving his 
beloved lizards, frogs, fishes, and other specimens in 
natural history. As it would have been useless to 
attempt explaining to his patrons his object in collect- 
ing and preserving these ill-favored reptiles, they were 
permitted to rest in the belief that he was making of 
them some decoction for medicinal purposes. 

June lOtJi. In Fronteras. A wild bull was sent 
to us to-day by Captain Gomez, which furnished us 

* I afterwards saw the agave used as food by the Apaches, the 
Pimos, the Coco Maricopas, and the Diegenos, on the shores of the 


with all the fresh meat we required to carry us home. 
It is true we had on hand a stock of dried beef; but 
nothing short of dire necessity could induce us to 
touch it. The wheel being at length completed, 
though in a very bungling manner, we made prepara- 
tions to resume our journey in the morning. 

June 11th. Took an early start, and moved rapidly 
over the first portion of the road, which was quite 
smooth, and arrived at the mountain called Cavoyan, 
around the eastern end of which we had to pass to 
reach the valley of the Agua Prieta. On examining 
the damaged wheel, I found it in a dubious condition, 
the spokes having all worked loose. We strengthened 
it as well as possible, by inserting new ashen spokes, 
and lashing all together with raw hide ; and then 
pushed on, driving over the hills as carefully as possi- 
ble. We had scarcely proceeded a mile, however, 
when, on coming to an uneven place, the wheel 
crushed down, splitting spokes and hub to pieces, and 
overturning the wagon, which deposited its contents 
on the ground in all directions. As the little stream 
which takes its rise at the Agua Prieta was but a few 
rods from us at the time, we selected a spot in a grove 
of cotton-woods, and stopped there for the night. 

A further examination of the wheel showed that it 
was impossible to mend it, and that it must be con- 
demned and abandoned. In order to make the most 
of the wreck, we took off the hind wheels and put 
them on the forward axle ; then, by sawing the box in 
two, the vehicle was converted into a cart. On this 
we placed the corn, and distributed the rest of the 
load among the other wagons. 


We passed many wild cattle to-day. In one place 
a large bull was seen mired by his hind legs, which 
were sunk deep in the mud, while his free legs were 
on hard ground. The poor creature had evidently 
been in this situation several days; and the crows, 
buzzards, and wolves had already marked him as their 
prey. As we approached him the wolves scampered 
off. The buzzards had actually commenced work on 
his flanks, which they had dreadfully lacerated, so that 
the blood was trickling down his haunches. To end 
the misery of the suffering animal, a ball was put 
through his heart by one of the party. About half 
the night was spent in getting our new vehicle ready. 

June 12th. Got an early start, and retracing our 
steps up the valley of the Agua Prieta, reached that 
spring, ten miles distant, at eight o'clock, where we 
stopped to water. Found a wild bull here, which 
appeared to have been wounded in his hind quarters. 
He seemed quite disposed to give us battle ; and fear- 
ing he might charge upon the train, and stampede the 
mules, I thought it the wisest course to give him 
room. Soon after, we struck Cooke's California 
road, which presented a striking contrast with the 
rough and trackless region we had been traversing 
for more than a hundred miles. It was here perfectly 
smooth ; and from our late gait of a slow walk, we 
were enabled to move off on a trot, thus reaching San 
Bernardino at two o'clock, four and a half hours from 
Agua Prieta. 

June 13th. Starting fresh, we hastened over the 
plateau, and soon entered the canon in the Guadalupe 
Pass, which had so charmed us by its luxuriant vege- 


tation and picturesque beauty. But what a change 
had taken place ! A fire had passed over it, destroy- 
ing all the grass and shrubbery, and turning the green 
leaves of the sycamores into brown and yellow. The 
surface of the earth was covered with black ashes, and 
we scarcely recognized it as the enchanting place of 
our former visit. At first we feared that this devasta- 
tion had been caused by our own neglect ; but on 
reaching the spot where we had encamped, which was 
separated from the surrounding hills by the rocky bed 
of the stream, we found the dry grass still around the 
place, which alone had escaped the fire. A little 
further on we came to a camp of two hundred Mexi- 
can soldiers, a portion of the brigade of General Car- 
rasco. They told me that General Carrasco had been 
to Janos; and hearing that a party of Americans 
bound for California had been attacked on the road 
leading from Janos to Guadalupe Pass, he divided his 
force with the view of intercepting the marauders. 
He himself had taken the Babispe route, to the south 
of us. The party we met had with them a large num- 
ber of pack mules, transporting arms and ammunition 
from Janos to Fronteras and Arispe, having been 
sent to the former place by wagons from the city of 

The particulars of the attack, as related to me by 
these men, were, that a party of ten Americans, with 
two wagons, was fired upon by a band of Apaches 
lying in ambush; that one was killed and three 
wounded, when the remainder cut loose the mules 
(each mounting one), abandoned their wagons, and 
escaped to Janos. They said the wagons were still 


there, as well as some of their contents. They showed 
ns some salt pork which they had taken themselves — 
an article which forms no part of a soldier's rations 
in. Mexico.* 

We gave the Mexican officers a quarter of our 
fresh beef. It was evident now how the fire which I 
have mentioned originated. A portion of the brigade 
had passed the canon a few days after us ; and their 
twenty or thirty camp fires had, no doubt, communi- 
cated the flames to the grass, which had afterwards 
extended over the whole mountain. 

At two o'clock we reached the worst portion of the 
Guadalupe Pass, where the great and sudden rise takes 
place. We attempted to double the teams, but found 
that no more than four mules could be used to advan- 
tage, owing to the short turns in the road. The get- 
ting up these hills proved a very difficult task, and it 
was only by every one putting a shoulder to the wheels 
and chocking them at every five or six feet, that they 
could be surmounted. It was dark when we reached 
the small stream seven miles beyond, which, though full 
when we passed, now furnished scarcely water sufficient 
for our mules. 

June 14dh. The road being good, we completed our 
day's journey by 2 o'clock, p. m., and encamped on the 
banks of the arroyo where we had nooned before. 

* This statement was found to be true on our return to the Copper 
Mines, where news had been sent from Janos ; and on leaving for Cali- 
fornia, two months later, I took with me a man who had been in the 
affray, and substantiated what had been related to us by the Mexican 
soldiers. On returning from California a year later we saw on the spot 
where this affair took place the skeleton of a man. 


The stream was now dry, but water was found in the 
spring near at hand. 

June 1 5th. In crossing the ridge of hills which sepa- 
rated us from Las Playas, the cart took a side lurch 
and broke down, every spoke giving way and the wheel 
crushing to pieces. As the accident was past remedy, 
the contents of the cart were distributed among the 
wagons, and we hastened on, reaching Las Playas at 
noon. Here the grass and water was so good that we 
remained until 4 o'clock, when we pushed on in order 
to accomplish that night as much as possible of the 
long distance of fifty-two miles that lay before us with- 
out water. Kept on till 10 o'clock, p. m., when we 
encamped on the arid plain. 

June lQth. The road being excellent, an early 
start and fast driving brought us to Ojo de Vaca, by 
2 o'clock, p. m. There was scarcely grass enough here 
to give our animals a feed, which was accounted for by 
one of our trains having stopped here on its way from 
the Copper Mines to Janos. 

June 17th. Left at 3 a. m. and rode to Pachetehu, 
nineteen miles, where we gave the animals a little rest, 
and took breakfast. Resuming our journey, we pushed 
forward and reached the Copper Mines before noon, 
finding our party much alarmed at our long absence. 

A mail had arrived in the mean time, bringing a 
large budget of letters and newspapers ; but to my 
great disappointment, nothing was heard of Colonel 
Graham. The engineers, with their assistants, were 
still waiting, and could not enter the field until he ar- 

June 20th. Deeming it necessary that some steps 


should be taken in consequence of the continued ab- 
sence of Colonel Graham, without whom, or his assist- 
ants, I could not send another astronomical party into 
the field, I determined to visit the camp of Lieutenant 
Whipple, who I had been informed had reached the 
Mimbres with his advanced parties, to consult with 
him as to future operations. I accordingly left this 
morning, accompanied by Lieutenant Green, and 
Messrs. Cremony, White, and Jones. Reaching the 
Mimbres, we followed it down about twenty-eight 
miles below the Copper Mines, when at evening we 
arrived at the camp of General Conde and the Mexican 
Commission. ' There I learned that Lieutenant Whip- 
ple was encamped on the plain near Cooke's Spring, 
eighteen miles distant ; so I concluded to go no further, 
but send for him to join us at General Conde's camp. 

June 21st Lieutenant Green and Mr. Cremony set 
off this morning after Lieutenant Whipple. I remained 
in camp under a bower of bushes, keeping as quiet as 
possible during the day, as the heat was too intense to 
admit of stirring about. The general and his party had 
found these bowers so much more comfortable than 
their tents, that they had constructed several, in which 
they remained during the day, resorting to their tents 
only at night, or at meal times. The river near where 
the party was encamped was entirely dry, and water 
could be procured only by digging in its bed. A little 
pool remained, where the animals were watered. In 
the evening Lieutenant Whipple, accompanied by Mr. 
Salazar, the Mexican chief astronomer and surveyor, 
Lieut. Green, and Mr. Cremony, arrived. 

June 2 2d We held a consultation to-day relative 


to the parties for the survey of the Gila, which General 
Conde was most anxious to commence at once. Our sur- 
veying parties had long been organized, and were ready ; 
but we had no astronomical corps to send with them, 
without which, it would not be proper to undertake so 
important a work. Lieutenant Whipple was making- 
rapid progress with his survey of the line west from 
the Rio Grande ; and he believed it best, as we had 
now waited so long, to defer further action until Colo- 
nel Graham should arrive. 

June 23c?. To avoid the heat of the day, we set 
out on our return at 2 o'clock, a. m., and reached the 
Copper Mines at nine. 




Visit from the Apaches — Mangus Colorado — Arrival of Mr. Sanford — 11th 
Article of the treaty relating to captives — Arrest of New Mexican 
traders — Inez Gonzales the Mexican captive — Examination of traders 
— Story of the captive girl — Pinalenos Indians — General Oonde ar- 
rives — The 11th Article of the treaty enforced — Friendly intercourse 
with the Indians — Two Mexican boys taken from them — Excitement in 

consequence Conference and dialogue with the Apache chiefs — 

Amicable settlement of difficulties. 

On the day of my return from Sonora, the first Apache 
Indians we had seen paid us a visit, headed by their 
head chief, Mangus Colorado, or Red Sleeve. He 
was accompanied by twelve or fifteen of his tribe, and 
said he had followed us for several days ; that his 
people had seen us when we went down to Sonora, and 
were several times near our encampments on the jour- 
ney. He said they knew my carriage, and that we 
belonged here. He thought we ran a great risk in 
going so far with so small a party ; as there were many 
bad Indians prone to theft and murder in the country 
through which he passed, and whom he could not 
control. He said he was a friend of the Americans, 
and that his people desired to be at peace with us. He 
remembered General Kearney and Colonel Cooke, when 


they passed through this country a few years before. 
I explained to him the war between the United States 
and Mexico, and its results, all of which he pretty well 
understood already. I told him that we had now come 
out to see this country, and mark the line that sepa- 
rated the territory of Mexico from that acquired by the 
United States ; that all the Indians who lived on our 
side of the border, would have our protection as long 
as they conducted themselves properly and committed 
no thefts or murders ; but that if they stole any mules 
or cattle belonging to the Americans, we should pursue 
and punish them ; and by our treaty with Mexico, we 
were bound to extend to her people the same protec- 
tion. Our protection of the Mexicans he did not seem 
to relish ; and could not comprehend why we should 
aid them in any way after we had conquered them, or 
what business it was to the Americans if the Apaches 
chose to steal their mules, as they had always done, or 
to make wives of their Mexican women, or prisoners 
of their children. I told them the Americans were 
bound to do so and could not break their word ; and if 
they (the Apaches) committed any farther depreda- 
tions on Mexico, we should not shield them from the 
consequences. Mangus Colorado denied that he had 
ever injured the Americans ; and when I told him I 
had learned that some of his people had lately attacked 
a party of our countrymen on their way to California, 
and killed one man, he pretended to know nothing 
about it On a subsequent interview I brought this 
affair again to his notice, when it appeared that he was 
acquainted with it, but said it was done by some bad 
people living in a certain mountain range, over whom 


he had no authority. He promised that his people 
should not trouble us or the Mexican Commission, and 
that he would send back any mules or cattle that might 
be taken by his young men ; and furthermore, if any 
strayed away, he would have them caught and sent back 
to us. I then informed him and the other chiefs, that 
to show our good feelings towards them, I would make 
them some presents, and accordingly directed the Com- 
missary to distribute among them some shirts, cotton 
cloth, beads, and other articles, which pleased them 
much. They asked for whiskey, which I positively 
refused, denying that I had any. Although this was 
the simple truth, they did not believe it, not being 
able to imagine how a party of Americans could be 
without that indispensable article.* They were con- 
stantly on the look-out for it, and when they saw a 
bottle they asked if it did not contain the coveted 
liquor. I one day handed them a bottle of catsup and 
another of vinegar, and told them to ascertain for them- 
selves. A taste put a stop to their investigations, and 
they were afterwards less inquisitive. On one occa- 
sion a party of Indians were found to be drunk shortly 
after coming in, which induced me to believe they had 
obtained liquor somewhere about our camp; but of 
whom, or where, I could not ascertain, as all denied 
having given it to them I communicated the fact to 
Colonel Craig, who was equally determined with my- 
self to put a stop to the practice. He believed he 

* In all my intercourse with the Indians, during the two and a half 
years I was in their country, I never gave one of them a drop of ardent 
spirits. I also prohibited others from doing so ; but on a few occasions, 
had reason to suspect that my orders were disobeyed. 


could trace it to the sutler's shop ; and finding a bar- 
rel of whiskey there, he took possession of it and had 
it transferred to the Commissary's depot. 

On the 24th June, Mr. S. P. Sanford, bearer of 
dispatches, arrived from Washington, and brought me 
the pleasing news that Colonel Graham, for whom we 
had so long been waiting, had probably reached El 
Paso on that day, accompanied by several officers.* 
Great joy was felt by all at this prospective termina- 
tion to our inactive state. Many of the engineers and 
assistants had now been attached to the Commission 
ready for duty seven months, without having yet taken 
the field. 

On the 27th June an incident occurred, which will 
long be remembered by every one connected with the 
Boundary Commission. It was such as to awaken the 
finest sympathies of our nature ; and by its happy 
result afforded a full recompense for the trials and 
hardships attending our sojourn in this inhospitable 

On the evening of the day alluded to, a party of 
New Mexicans came in for the purpose of procuring 
provisions, &o, having with them a young female and 
a number of horses and mules. By what dropped 
from them in the course of conversation, it was ascer- 
tained that the female and animals had been obtained 
from the Indians ; and that they were taking the girl 
to some part of New Mexico, to sell or make such dis- 
position of her as would realize the most money. As 

* On the 30th June 'I received a note from Colonel Graham, an- 
nouncing his arrival at El Paso on the 24th. 


all traffic of this kind, whether in mules or captives, 
was strictly prohibited by the treaty with Mexico, I 
deemed it my duty, as the nearest and highest repre- 
sentative of the government of the United States in 
this region, to interfere in the matter. My authority 
for so doing is contained in the second and third sec- 
tions of the eleventh article of the treaty of Guadalupe 
Hidalgo referred to, where it is declared that — 

" It shall not be lawful, under any pretext what- 
ever, for any inhabitant of the United States to pur- 
chase or acquire any Mexican, or any foreigner resid- 
ing in Mexico, who may have been captured by 
Indians inhabiting the territory of either of the two 
Republics, nor to purchase or acquire horses, mules, 
cattle, or property of any kind, stolen within Mexican 
territory by such Indians. 

" And in the event of any person or persons, cap- 
tured within Mexican territory by Indians, being car- 
ried into the territory of the United States, the govern- 
ment of the latter engages and binds itself, in the most 
solemn manner, so soon as it shall know of such captives 
being within its territory, and shall be able to do so 
through the faithful exercise of its influence and power, 
to rescue them and return them to their country, or 
deliver them to the agent or representative of the Mex- 
ican government. The Mexican authorities will, as far 
as practicable, give to the government of the United 
States notice of such captures ; and its agent shall pay 
the expenses incurred in the maintenance and trans- 
mission of the rescued captives, who, in the mean time, 
shall be treated with the utmost hospitality by the 
American authorities at the place where they may be. 


But if the government of the United States, before 
receiving such notice from Mexico, should obtain intel- 
ligence through any other channel of the existence of 
Mexican captives within its territory, it will proceed 
forthwith to effect their release and delivery to the 
Mexican agents, as above stipulated." 

With this authority before me I addressed a note 
to Lieut. Colonel Craig, commander of the escort, 
requesting him to demand the surrender of the female, 
and to prohibit the men, who intended departing at 
early dawn, from leaving their encampment until 
further orders. This request, which was made late in 
the evening, was promptly complied with under the 
immediate directions of Lieutenant D. C. Green. 

The ensuing day the three principal traders of the 
party were brought up to the fort, and separately 
examined, in reference to the manner in which they 
had obtained, and the right they had to the possession 
of, the captive girl and the animals. These three per- 
sons were Peter Blacklaws, a trader in Santa Fe, 
Pedro Archeveque, a laborer of Algodones, and Jose 
Faustin Valdez, a laborer of Santa Fe. 

Their evidence was somewhat conflicting — more 
particularly with respect to the female. It appeared 
there was a party of about fifty men who had been 
trading with the Indians north of the Gila ; a portion 
of them still remained there, whilst another portion 
(about twenty) were here, on their way back to Santa 
Fe. The whole had been trading under one and the 
same license, although it was acknowledged that the 
name of none of them, save Peter Blacklaws, was 
inserted in it; he, however, declared that he was 
vol. I.--20 


authorized — which is hardly probable — to add to his 
party as many as he chose. This license was called 
for, but not produced, it being, as was stated, in the 
possession of the other portion of the party. They 
seemed to consider themselves fully authorized, by 
virtue of the license, to purchase any species of pro- 
perty held by the Indians, and this without any regard 
to the manner in which the latter obtained it. They 
seemed surprised that I should question their rights 
on the strength of a treaty, the stipulations of which 
they knew nothing about. 

As respects the captive girl, who it was acknow- 
ledged was bought of the Pinal Indians, even placing 
their conduct in the most favorable light, it is quite 
apparent that she was purchased, like any other article 
of merchandise, as a matter of speculation. According 
to part of the testimony, the expedition was fitted out 
for the express purpose of buying her ; while others 
declared that the purchase was an incidental matter. 
It appeared that her apprehensions at being taken by 
these men still further from her home, instead of being 
restored to her natural protectors, had been quieted 
by assurances that her purchaser was acquainted with 
relatives of hers in Santa Fe ; although his testimony 
showed, as might have been anticipated, that he had 
no such acquaintances at all. 

The girl herself was quite young, artless, and inter- 
esting in appearance, prepossessing in manners, and 
by her deportment gave evidence that she had been 
carefully brought up. The purchaser belonged to a 
people with whom the system of peonage prevails, 
and among whom, as a general thing, females are not 


estimated as with us, especially in a moral point of 
view. The fate that threatened her under these cir- 
cumstances, being too apparent, I felt under no neces- 
sity of regarding the protestations of Blacklaws, as to 
the honesty of his intentions, inasmuch as the treaty 
prohibits purchases of this kind " under any pretext 
whatever.' 1 '' I therefore deemed it to be my duty — and 
a pleasant one it certainly was, to extend over her the 
protection of the laws of the United States, and to see 
that, until delivered in safety to her parents, she 
should be " treated with the utmost hospitality " that 
our position would allow. 

The substance of the following brief statement was 
furnished by this young captive : 

Her name is Inez Gonzales, daughter of Jesus 
Gonzales, of Santa Cruz, a small frontier town, near the 
River San Pedro, in the State of Sonora. She was 
then in the fifteenth year of her age. In the Septem- 
ber preceding she had left her home, in company with 
her uncle, her aunt, another female, and a boy, on a 
visit to the fair of San Francisco, in the town of Made- 
lena, about 75 miles distant. They were escorted by 
a guard of ten soldiers, under the command of an 
ensign named Limon. When one day's journey out, 
viz., on the 30th of September, 1850, they were at- 
tacked by a band of Pinol Indians, who lay in ambush 
in a narrow wooded canon or pass. Her uncle wa,s 
killed, and all the guard, save three persons, who 
made their escape. She with her two female com- 
panions, and the boy, Francisco Pascheco, were carried 
away into captivity. She has been with the Indians 
ever since. The other captives she understands were 


purchased and taken to the north by a party of New 
Mexicans who made the Indians a visit last winter. No 
improper freedom was taken with her person ; but she 
was robbed of her clothing, save a skirt and under 
linen, and was made to work very hard. She spent 
the whole period of her captivity at two of the regular 
rallying spots or planting grounds of the Pinols. 

This tribe is also known as the Pinal, or Pinalenos. 
embraces about five hundred souls, and ranges over 
an extensive circuit between the Sierra Pinal and 
the Sierra Blanca, both of which mountains are near the 
Upper San Francisco River, about five days' journey 
north of the Gila.* Within this space the young girl 
knew of at least twelve female captives, besides nume- 
rous males. Generally, the Indians are very willing 
to sell, that being their object in making the captures. 
The men spend their time in hunting and depredating ; 
and the women are required to do all the work in their 
wigwams and generally in the field. All females in 
this respect being treated alike, their own faring no 
better than captives. Their food consists almost exclu- 
sively of the root of the maguay, baked as I have 
before described. 

I never saw any of the Pinal Indians, though a 
band was met by one of the surveying parties on the 
Gila. They were described to me as a fine looking 
people. At first they were shy ; but when they disco- 
vered that our party were Americans, and were well 

* There are two streams by this name on Emory's map, which 
empty into the Gila ; I refer to the eastern one. The western one is 
known on the Spanish maps as the Rio Verde, or Ascencion. 


disposed towards them, they became quite friendly. 
On inquiring of the Apache Chiefs concerning them, I 
learned that they belong to the same great tribe, but 
seldom have any intercourse with the Apaches proper, 
being separated from them by broad deserts and lofty 

General Garcia Conde, the Mexican Commissioner, 
being encamped about twenty-six miles off, I dis- 
patched a messenger to him requesting his presence, 
to advise and co-operate with me in this matter. He 
accordingly visited me, and, upon inquiring, found 
that he was acquainted with the released captives's 
father, a respectable citizen of Santa Cruz. He ap- 
proved warmly of my course, evincing, as it would, to 
his government a determination on the part of the 
United States to solemnly and faithfully fulfil its treaty 
stipulations. He also particularly solicited that the 
young woman should be kept under my protection 
until such time as she could be restored in safety to 
her home. 

The fair captive was of course taken care of by the 
Commission. She was well clad with such materials 
as the sutler of the escort and the commissary of the 
Commission could furnish ; and besides the more sub- 
stantial articles of clothing provided for her, she 
received many presents from the gentlemen of the 
Commission, all of whom manifested a deep interest in 
her welfare, and seemed desirous to make her comfort- 
able and happy. But with all the attentions extended 
to her, her situation was far from enviable in a camp 
of over a hundred men, without a single female with 
whom she could hold any intercourse. She found. 


employment enough in making her own garments, 
being quite expert at her needle, and occasionally 
spent an hour in reading the few Spanish books in our 

Another incident upon which the 11th article of 
the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo has a direct bearing, 
occurred on the day succeeding that of the event just 

Ever since my return from Sonora, the Apaches, 
with their chiefs, women, and children, had been daily 
visitors to the Copper Mines, and to our several 
encampments. The most friendly feelings had been 
manifested by them ; and in return, we had not failed 
to let them know that it was for their interest to be at 
peace with us, and, as far as lay in their power, to 
restore to us any mules or cattle that strayed away. 
An additional evidence that there was a sincerity at 
the time in our Apache friends was the freedom with 
which their women and children visited our camps and 
quarters. They had themselves encamped about four 
miles from us, and had with them large herds of 
horses and mules. 

On the day referred to, when a large party of the 
Apaches were in, two Mexican boys suddenly rushed 
into the tent of Mr. Cremony, which was pitched in 
the outskirts of the place, and sought his protection 
from their Indian captors. He at once brought them 
to my quarters ; and, on being questioned, they stated 
that they had been stolen from their homes by the Apa- 
ches. One, named Saverro Aredia, and about thirteen 
years old, had been taken from the town of Bacuachi, 
in the State of Sonora, six months before ; the other, 


Jose Trinfan, ten or twelve years of age, belonged to 
Fronteras, in the same State, and had been held a pri- 
soner six years. Believing, from what they had heard 
the Indians say, who had visited the Copper Mines, 
that they would find protection with us, they sought 
our camp. They were both intelligent looking boys ; 
their hair was cropped short, and they were entirely 

When these youths were brought to me, Mangus 
Colorado and Delgadito, two prominent chiefs of the 
Apaches, and a number of their tribe, were present ; 
they already knew of the escape of the prisoners, and 
at once proposed that I should purchase them. I 
declined, telling them that the Americans did not buy 
captives; and furthermore, that having sought my 
protection, I should not deliver them up. In vain I 
endeavored to make the chiefs comprehend our treaty 
with Mexico, and the principles of justice and huma- 
nity on which it was based. They did not, or would 
not, understand, and left our camp evidently much 
offended. I requested Mangus Colorado to come to 
me on the following day, when I would endeavor to 
satisfy him. The day arrived, but Mangus did not 
appear ; and I began to be fearful that the friendly 
feeling which existed between the Commission and 
the Indians would be terminated by this event. I 
received intimations that the boys were not safe, and 
that an attempt would probably be made to recapture 
them the first opportunity. Determined, not to be 
thwarted in this way, I sent them off at night, well 
clothed, in charge of four resolute men, with direc- 
tions to take them to the camp of General Conde and 
deliver them into his hands. 


After the lapse of several days, the chiefs with their 
people, including the owner of one of the boys, again 
made their appearance. The matter was again talked 
over, but nothing was decided, and they returned to 
their camps. After several fruitless conferences of this 
sort, the affair was at length so arranged that the cap- 
tives should be retained by us, and our friendly rela- 
tions not be impaired. As this last discussion was one 
of much interest, it was taken down by one of the gen- 
tlemen present. I give it therefore at length, as the 
arguments used by my opponents display to good 
advantage their natural shrewdness of character. It 
was commenced by Mangus Colorado, who thus ad- 
dressed me : 

Mangus Colorado. — Why did you take our captives 
from us ? 

Commissioner. — Your captives came to us and 
demanded our protection. 

Mangus Colorado. — You came to our country. 
You were well received by us. Your lives, your pro- 
perty, your animals, were safe. You passed by ones, 
by twos, and by threes, through our country ; you 
went and came in peace. Your strayed animals were 
always brought home to you again. Our wives, our 
children, and women, came here and visited your 
houses. We were friends! We were brothers! Be- 
lieving this, we came amongst you and brought our 
captives, relying on it that we were brothers, and that 
you would feel as we feel. We concealed nothing. 
We came not here secretly or in the night. We came 
in open day and before your faces, and we showed our 
captives to you. We believed your assurances of 


friendship, and we trusted them. Why did you take 
our captives from us ? 

Commissioner. — What we have said to you is true 
and reliable. We do not tell lies. The greatness and 
dignity of our nation forbids our doing so mean a 
thing. What our great brother has said is true, and 
good also. I will now tell him why we took his cap- 
tives from him. Four years ago,' we, too, were at war 
with Mexico. We know that the Apaches make a 
distinction between Chihuahua and Sonora. They are 
at peace with Chihuahua, but always fighting against 
Sonora. We in our war did not make that distinction. 
The Mexicans, whether living in one or the other 
State, are all one nation, and we fought them as a 
nation. Well, when the war was over, in which we 
conquered, we made peace with them. They are now 
our friends, and by the terms of the peace we are bound 
to protect them. We told you this when we came to 
this place, and we requested you to cease your hostili- 
ties against Mexico. Well, time passed, and we grew 
very friendly ; every thing went well. You came in 
here with your captives. Who were these captives? 
Mexicans — the very people we told you we were bound 
to protect. We took them from you and sent them 
to General Garcia Conde, who will set them at liberty 
in their own country. We mean to show you that we 
cannot lie. We promised protection to the Mexicans, 
and we gave it to them. We promise friendship and 
protection to you, and we will give it to you. If we 
had not done so to Mexico, you could not have 
believed us with regard to yourselves. We cannot 


Ponce, — Yes, but you took our captives from us 
without beforehand cautioning us. We were ignorant 
of this promise to restore captives. They were made 
prisoners in lawful warfare. They belong to us. They 
are our property. Our people have also been made 
captives by the Mexicans. If we had known of this 
thing, we should not have come here. We should not 
have placed that confidence in you. 

Commissioner. — 'Our brother speaks angrily, and 
without due reflection. Boys and women lose their 
temper, but men reflect and argue ; and he who has 
reason and justice on his side, wins. I have no doubt 
but that you have suffered much by the Mexicans. 
This is a question in which it is impossible for us to 
tell who is right, or who is wrong. You and the 
Mexicans accuse each other of being the aggressors. 
Our duty is to fulfil our promise to both. This 
opportunity enables us to show to Mexico that we 
mean what we say ; and when the time comes, we will 
be ready and prompt to prove the good faith of our 
promises to you. 

Ponce. — I am neither a boy nor a squaw. I am a 
man and a brave. I speak with reflection. I know 
what I say. I speak of the wrongs we have suffered 
and those you now do us. (Very much excited.) 
You must not speak any more. Let some one else 
speak (addressing himself to Mr. Cremony, the inter- 

Commissioner. — I want you to understand that /am 
the very one to speak; the only one here who can 
speak (peremptorily). Now do you sit down. I will 
hold no more talk with you, but will select a man 


(beckoning to Dalgadito). Do you come here and 
speak for your nation. 

Dalgadito. — Let my brother declare the mind of 
his people. 

Commissioner. — I wish to explain to our Apache 
brethren the reasons that have actuated us in this thing, 
and what we can do for the master of these captives. 
We know that you have not done this thing secretly, 
or in the dark. You came as braves in open day, 
and brought your captives amongst us. We are 
obliged to obey the orders of our great chief in Wash- 
ington as much as you warriors are obliged to obey 
your commanders. The great chief of our nation says : 
"You must take all Mexican captives that you meet 
among the Apaches, and set them at liberty." Now 
this you must know we cannot disobey. For this reason 
we have taken your captives from you. 

Dalgadito. — We do not doubt the word of our 
brave white brethren. The Americans are braves, we 
know it j and we believe a brave scorns to lie. But 
the owner of these captives is a poor man ; he cannot 
lose his captives, who were obtained at the risk of his 
life, and purchased by the blood of his relatives. He 
justly demands his captives. We are his friends, and 
we wish to see this demand complied with. It is just, 
and as justice we demand it. 

Commissioner. — I will now tell my Apache brethren 
what can be done for them. The captives cannot be 
restored. The Commissioner cannot buy them, neither 
can any American buy them ; but there is here in our 
employ a Mexican who is anxious to buy them, and 
restore them to their homes. We have no objection 


that this Mexican should do so ; and if he is not rich 
enough, some of us will lend him the means. 

Dalgadito. — The owner does not wish to sell ; he 
wants his captives. 

Commissioner. — I have already told my brother 
that this cannot be. I speak not with two tongues. 
Make up your minds. 

Dalgadito. — The owner wauts twenty horses for 

Commissioner. — The Apache laughs at his white 
brother ! He thinks him a squaw, and that he can 
play with him as with an arrow ! Let the Apache say 

Dalgadito. — The brave who owns these captives 
does not wish to sell. He has had one of those (two) 
boys six years. He grew up under him. His heart- 
strings are bound around him. He is as a son to his 
old age. He speaks our language, and he cannot sell 
him. Money cannot buy affection. His heart cannot 
be sold. He taught him to string and shoot the bow, 
and to wield the lance. He loves the boy, and cannot 
sell him. 

Commissioner. — We are sorry that this thing should 
be. We feel for our Apache brother, and would like 
to lighten his heart. But it is not our fault. Our 
brother has fixed his affections on the child of his 
enemy. It is very noble. But our duty is stern. We 
cannot avoid it. It wounds our hearts to hurt our 
friends ; but if it were our own children, and the duty 
and the law said, "Part with them," part with them 
we should. Let our Apache brother reflect, and name 
his price. 


Dalgadoto. — What will you give ? 

Commissioner. — If my brethren will come with me 
I will show them. 

Here the council dissolved and repaired to the com- 
missary's stores, attended by the Mexican purchaser, 
where goods to the amount of two hundred and fifty 
dollars were laid out, which they accepted, and thus 
the business was concluded.* 

Under no other circumstances would I have been 
instrumental in remunerating these Indians for their 
captives : but in the present state of the Boundary 
Survey, this affair, had it not been amicably adjusted, 
might have proved a most serious obstacle to the pros- 
ecution of our duties. 

The Indians remained encamped on both sides of 
us in large force. Mangus Colorado with his band, 
being on the west about four miles off, and Dalgadito 
at the distance of eight miles near the Mimbres, where, 
on account of the superior grass in the valley of that 
stream, the greater portion of our horses and mules 
were kept. It was therefore completely in the power 
of the Indians to drive them all off, if they were so 
disposed. In promising them our friendship, I told 
them that they must deserve it by protecting our 
animals ; and if unfriendly Indians should attempt to 
steal them, they must restore them to us. This they 
promised to do, and they faithfully adhered to their 
undertaking. Once, some of our animals were stolen, 

* These boys were not detained a moment at the camp of the Mexi- 
can Commissioner, but sent to Janos, the nearest military post in 
Mexico, from whence they were taken to their families. 


and on several occasions they strayed away ; but in 
every instance the Indians brought thern back, and 
sometimes at the expense of much labor and trouble 
to themselves. 




Intercourse with the Apaches — Mangus Colorado and his new clothes — 
Proper mode of treating Indians — Treachery and Massacre of Indians, 
by an Englishman — Tribe of Copper Mine Apaches — Their numbers — 
Extent of their incursions — Ethnological Position— Inferiority of the 
Tribe — Dress — Visit from the Navajos — Their Fine Blankets — Ad 
Apache shot by a Mexican — Alarm — Arrest and Examination of Prison- 
er — Death of the Indian — The Murderer demanded by the Apaches — 
Conference with the Chiefs, and their Talk — Restoration of Friend- 

After the pleasant termination of our difficulty with 
the Apaches relative to the captive boys, they con- 
tinued their daily visits as before, and were subject to 
no restraint. They always made their first calls on 
Colonel Craig, who treated them with the greatest 
kindness, or myself; after which they strolled about 
visiting the quarters or tents of the others, or watch- 
ing the several mechanics in their labors. I had a 
full suit of blue broadcloth, made for Mangus Colo- 
rado, and gave all his family clothing besides. Some 
of his children, of which, I think he had nine, gen- 
erally accompanied him, and always received some 
little knick-knacks to take back with them. Mangus 
was mightily pleased with his suit, which consisted of 


a frock coat lined with scarlet and ornamented with 
gilt buttons. His pantaloons, at his request, were 
open from the knee downwards, after the fashion of 
the Mexicans, with a row of small fancy buttons on 
one side, and a broad strip of scarlet cloth on the 
outer side from the hip downwards. A white shirt 
and red silk sash completed his dress. While the 
tailor had it in hand, he visited him daily to watch its 
progress, and a child might have envied him his de- 
light. But in putting them on, his Indian character 
was most strikingly displayed. He insisted on wear- 
ing his shirt outside of his pantaloons; and all my 
efforts to induce him to reverse the arrangement were 
without effect. The reluctance of all Indians to con- 
form to our customs with regard to dress is well 
known ; and it is only after many years of constant 
intercourse that the men will wear their shirts as we 
do. The women adhere with equal tenacity to some 
of their customs. They prefer the leggin and blanket 
to any other dress ; and even after they have become 
completely domiciliated among us, as is the case with 
the Iroquois tribes in the State of New-York, they 
refuse to give up their broad-brimmed hats and fea- 

I often invited the chiefs, and in particular Mangus 
Colorado, to dine with me. On these occasions their 
conduct was marked with as much decorum as though 
they had been used to civilized society all their lives ; 
though it is true, they sometimes exhibited a curiosity 
to understand the nature of the dishes that were placed 
before them, and generally wished to have a taste of 
every thing. After a little while they showed a dis- 


position to take more liberties ; and when my guest 
had finished his meal, he managed to leave his plate 
pretty well filled, and beckoned to another to take his 
seat. This was submitted to once or twice ; after 
which, finding it encroached too much on my supply, 
I no longer invited any to my table. I was willing to 
give a place to a chief occasionally ; but to have half 
a dozen hungry fellows standing outside waiting to 
take their turn, was more than I was able or willing 
to put up with. They knew that we had killed seve- 
ral bears, and that we ate their flesh. They always 
asked if we had bear on the table, for they wished to 
avoid it, but, with our cooking, could not tell it from 
beef. I never deceived them, nor urged them to eat 
bear's meat. I found they had some superstitious 
prejudice against it, but could never prevail on them 
to tell me what it was. 

During this time the members of the Commission 
went about freely in small parties or alone, for twenty 
or thirty miles around our camp, and were on no occa- 
sion molested. They also visited the Apache camps, 
where they were well received. Our wagons with 
stores, went unprotected to and from the Surveyors, 
and their attendants, who were scattered in small par- 
ties for fifty miles along the line, where the escort 
could afford them but little protection. Hence the 
great importance {.0 the success of the Commission in 
maintaining friendly relations with these Indians. 

My experience established the truth of the opinion 
I had always entertained, that kind treatment, a rigid 
adherence to what is right, and a prompt and invaria- 
ble fulfilment of all promises, would secure the friend- 
VOL. i. — 21 


ship of the Apaches, a tribe of Indians which has the 
reputation of being the most hostile and treacherous 
to the whites of any between the Rio Grande and the 
Pacific. It is the conduct of unprincipled traders and 
emigrants, who sow the seeds of intemperance and 
vice among them, which has created most of the diffi- 
culties before experienced. These men defraud them 
of their property, and, on the slightest pretence, take 
their lives. That the Indians feel the deepest hatred 
towards the Mexicans is true, and they certainly have 
reason for entertaining a strong antipathy to that peo- 
ple. Acts of treachery of the grossest and cruelest 
description have been practised by the Mexicans to- 
wards them ; and, though years have passed away since 
these events occurred, they are not forgotten by the 
Apaches. The desire of revenge, or as we should 
term it in our own case, of retributive justice, seems, 
instead of diminishing, to acquire increased intensity, 
with the lapse of time. But bad as the conduct of the 
Mexicans may have been towards these Indians, they 
never were guilty of a more fiendish act than one per- 
petrated on them by an Englishman, some twelve or 
fourteen years ago, in the northern part of Sonora. 
The particulars as related to me are briefly these : and 
having heard them both at El Paso, and at Arispe, I 
have no doubt of their correctness. It seems that in 
consequence of the depredations of the Indians, the 
State of Sonora offered a premium of one hundred dol- 
lars for each Apache scalp. A disgrace to his nation, 
named Johnson, actuated by the reward, induced a 
large party of Apaches, men, women and children, to 
assemble around a quantity of goods, which he had 


brought among them ostensibly for the purpose of 
trade. He had concealed beneath some saddles and flour 
bags, a cannon heavily loaded with shot and a piece of 
chain, near which was stationed a man, pretending to 
smoke. At a signal given by Johnson, this man sud- 
denly uncovered the breech of the gun and touched it 
off, the rest of his party at the same time discharging 
their small-arms among the terrified Indians, who fell 
on every side. When the survivors had collected 
their senses, and saw the Americans preparing for 
another volley, they rallied, and being the larger 
party, put Johnson and his crew to flight. A skir- 
mish afterwards took place, in which the Indians met 
with further loss. After so base and villainous an act, 
it is not suprising that the Apaches look upon all 
white men as their enemies, whether Mexicans or 

The Copper Mine Apaches occupy the country on 
both sides of the Rio Grande, and extend west to the 
country of the Goyoteros and Pinalenos, near the 
eastern San Francisco River. This may be called their 
proper home, though their incursions extend far into 
the States of Chihuahua and Sonora, where, during 
portions of the year, they reside. A favorite place of 
resort for them is near Lake Guzman, to the west of 
El Paso. They do not extend more than four or five 
days 1 journey north of the Gila. From the best infor- 
mation I can gain, their numbers have been greatly 
reduced within the last five years. Omitting those east 
of the Rio Grande, it is believed that they cannot muster 
two hundred warriors. My information is derived 
from General Conde, and from Mexicans who had long 


lived, on the frontier, having frequent intercourse with 
them at Janos, and who knew all their chiefs. Ameri- 
can authority places their numbers much higher, esti- 
mating them by thousands, instead of hundreds. But 
notwithstanding their depredations, they have from 
time to time been at peace with the Mexicans, receiv- 
ing from the military authorities at Janos monthly 
supplies of corn and other articles of food. Hence the 
latter have had a better opportunity to judge of their 
numbers than we have. 

Between the Sacramento Mountains and the Pecos 
are other Apache tribes more numerous than those in 
question, from whom they are separated by an unin- 
habited desert region between eighty and one hundred 
miles in width, extending from the Sacramento Moun- 
tains to the Rio Grande. The country which they 
occupy is believed to be one of the richest portions of 
New Mexico. It has not yet been explored ; but I 
have been told by Mexicans who have crossed it at 
various places, that it has an excellent soil, is well 
watered and timbered. They keep up a show of 
friendship with the settlements by sending their old 
women to trade and beg; but the warriors rarely 
show themselves. It is not my intention to dwell 
largely on the Indian tribes in the present work, but 
merely to speak of them as we met them, to point out 
their localities, and to relate such occurrences as took 
place between us. There is much to be said relative 
to them all, which the limits of this work will not 
admit of, nor does it seem proper in a " personal narra- 
tive " of incidents, to enter into the broad field of eth- 
nological investigation which presents itself west of the 


Rocky Mountains. My materials in this department 
are copious, and will constitute the subject of a future 

The Apache nation as a whole is one of the most 
widely disseminated on the North American Continent, 
and embraces a great many tribes which are as yet 
only known to us by name. Nor are we even able to 
say with certainty whether all the tribes said to be of 
the Apache stock belong to it or not. It is only by a 
comparison of their languages that their ethnological 
position can be accurately determined, In general 
terms, they may be said to extend from the Pecos on 
the east to the desert bordering on the Gulf of Califor- 
nia (the limit of which is the valley of the Santa Cruz, 
south of the Gila), and to the Colorado, north of that 
river ; or from the 103d degree of longitude west from 
Greenwich to the 114th. From north to south they 
extend from the country of the Utahs (Yutas), in lati- 
tude 38° north to about the 30th parallel. Beyond 
this they have no fixed habitations, though they range 
about two degrees farther south in their predatory 
incursions in the States of Chihuahua and Sonora. On 
the Colorado River of California are many tribes only 
known by name ; but whether they are allied to the 
Apache nation or to some of the California families is 
not known. The great Navajo (pronounced Navaho) 
tribe, the most populous of any west of the Rocky 
Mountains, in the district named, belongs to the 
Apache family ; and I have no doubt that when an 
examination is made of the languages and other means 
of comparison, tribes still further to the north will be 
found to belong to the same stock. In fact, from 



analogies already selected, such has been found to be 
the case.* 

The Apaches with which we had intercourse must 
rank below the Indian tribes east of the Rocky Moun- 
tains, dwelling on the tributaries of the Mississippi 
and Missouri Rivers. They are without that dignified 

Group of Apaches. 

bearing, and those noble traits of character, which 
characterize the latter ; and as they perform no labor, 

* In an essay read before the American Ethnological Society by 
my friend, Professor Wm, W. Turner, he has shown that a close ana- 
logy exists between the languages of the Apaches and the Athapascans, 
a tribe on the confines of the Polar Sea. 


not even that of hunting, their physical developments 
are greatly inferior. Mangus Colorado, and a few 
other prominent chiefs, who live pretty well, and have 
the lion's share of their plunder, are rather good look- 
ing ; and a finer set of children than those of Mangus, 
of Dalgadito, and Ponce, are not often seen. But 
beyond these few exceptions, the Apaches are an ill- 
formed, emaciated, and miserable looking race. As 
those we saw did not cultivate the earth, they depend 
upon what they can steal from the Mexicans and Ame- 
ricans on the frontier for a subsistence. The supply thus 
obtained consists almost exclusively of mules ; and 
when this fails they resort to the bulb of the maguay. 
In fact, this may be said to constitute at all times the 
food of the majority ; for the chiefs take good care 
that they at least shall have mule meat when there is 

In saying that certain individuals w.ere fine look- 
ing, I speak of mere physical development. I do not 
think I ever saw a mild or amiable face among them ; 
on the contrary, they had all a treacherous, fiendish 
look, which well expressed their true character. They 
are in general poorly clothed, a majority wearing deer 
skins tied about them, without any attempt to fashion 
them into garments. If a man could get a shirt, he 
seemed quite content without any other garment. Many, 
and I should think most of them, wore long deer-skin 
boots, with stout soles, turned up at the toes, the legs 
being either fastened around the loins or turned over 
at the knees. These were well made, and exhibited 
more taste and care than any other garment about 
them. It is not, however, on account of their beauty 


that they wear these fine long boots, but from neces- 
sity ; as they require them to protect their legs when 
riding among the thorny chapporal of the plains, as 
well as from the venomous reptiles which abound 
there. The Apaches have their dandies as well as 
their civilized brethren ; in fact I have found among 
every tribe of Indians men of this class, whose minds 
seem to dwell more on their personal appearance than 
on any thing else. They are fond of remaining at 
home, associate more than others with the women, 
and never accompany war parties. They are looked 
upon as drones by the braves. Those whom we saw 
among the Apaches, were generally dressed in some 
tawdry manner, and their faces covered with paint. 
Some, with a truer sense of savage beauty, and who 
have fine manly forms, wore nothing but a breech 
cloth and boots. These, mounted on fine animals, and 
armed with a- lance or bow, sometimes made their ap- 
pearance among the ragged and motley groups which 
visited our camps. A helmet-shaped cap of deer skin, 
fitting close to the head, and covered on the top with 
a bunch of feathers, is worn by many ; while others have 
straw hats, taken from the heads of Mexicans whom 
they have killed. Another and very picturesque orna- 
ment which the hatless and capless have recourse to, is 
a wreath of grass or leaves, twined around their heads 
and projecting well over their eyes, to protect them 
from the sun. The Mexican serape is also worn by 
those who have become the possessors of such a useful 
article of dress by murdering its former owner. The 
women wear jackets or tunics of deer skin, more or 
less ornamented, a profusion of beads, when they can 



get them, and deer-skin leggins. Most of them wear 
unbleached cotton or calico shirts, which they obtain 
of the Indian traders or at the settlements. 

Apacho Head-dress and 

On one occasion our camp was visited by a band 
of Navajo Indians, four hundred of whom were 
encamped on the banks of the Gila. This is a formida- 
ble, warlike, and treacherous tribe, which descend from 
their strongholds in the canons west of Santa Fe, and 
rob the inhabitants of New Mexico of their cattle and 
sheep. They had heard of our party, and had taken 
advantage of the friendly manner in which the 
Apaches came to us, to accompany them. With the 
exception of a different style in their boots, and in the 
manner of arranging their hair, their dress appeared 
the same. Their bows, arrows, and lances were the 
same, and the helmet-shaped head-dress did not mate- 
rially differ. The Navajos had a very fine description 
of woollen blanket of their own manufacture, which 
they use to cover their bodies when it is cold, as well 


as for saddle cloths. These blankets are superior to 
any native fabric I have ever seen ; in fact, they are 
quite equal to the best English blankets, except that 
they are without any nap. I have been told that 
they spin and dye the wool, which they raise them- 
selves; though others assert that the richer colors are 
obtained by unravelling fine scarlet blankets of Eng- 
lish manufacture, the threads of which are then used 
in the weaving of their own. Whether this is true or 
not I am unable to state. At any rate, even if true, 
this forms but a very small portion of the fabric, the 
remainder of which is undoubtedly spun and woven 
by themselves. 

We had some little bartering with these people, 
giving them shirts and other articles of wearing 
apparel for their bows and arrows, and caps, and 
some of our party were so fortunate as to obtain some 
fine specimens of their blankets. I got a small one of 
inferior quality, but sufficient to show the style of their 

Many believed that the Navajos who visited us on 
the occasion referred to, were but spies to learn our 
numbers, and see whether any thing could be gained 
by attacking us; a belief in which I participated, and 
which subsequent events strengthened. We never 
saw them after. 

July 5th. One of the cooks disappeared last night, 
taking with him a fine horse, one of Colt's large revolv- 
ers, and sundry articles of clothing. He was pursued 
by Mr. White and another, who overtook him on 
the plains two days after, recovered the horse and 
pistol, and left him to find his way to the settlements 
as he could. 


On the 6th July, another incident of a more serious 
nature occurred, which bade fair to break up the 
friendly intercourse with our Indian friends, and bring 
us to open warfare. About one o'clock word was 
brought to me, that an Indian had been shot by Jesus 
Lopez, the Mexican teamster to whom I have before 
alluded. I at once ran to my door, and saw the 
greatest consternation in the place. The Indians, of 
which there were many about us at the time, were 
screaming and running in all directions, as though 
fearful of a general rising and massacre of their people. 
Our own party too were in great alarm, and every 
man ran for his arms, not knowing but that the Indians, 
who had so often been treacherously dealt with by the 
whites, might at once attack us, to be revenged for 
the loss of their companion. Mangus Colorado, Delga- 
dito and Coletto Amarillo,* who were in our camp, 
seized their arms, and, mounting animals, retreated to 
a small hill a few hundred yards from the fort, where 
they stopped to see what was to follow, and make 
their escape in case of necessity. Many of their peo- 
ple crowded around them for protection and guidance. 
Some remained many minutes beckoning to them to 
come back ; and assuring them that they would not 
be hurt. They remained quiet until Colonel Craig, 
with the courage and resolution which he exhibited 
in every trying scene, advanced alone towards them, 
told them he' and all of us were still their friends, and 

* These it will be perceived are all Spanish names : Mangus Colo-, 
rado, meaning Bed Sleeve ; Delgadito, slender ; and Coletto Amarillo, 


invited them to the garrison where the man who had 
shot one of their people should be brought before 
them. They at once came forward ; and while we all 
stood on the parade ground in front of the garrison, 
the prisoner was brought up with his feet in chains, 
by a file of soldiers. We then passed in to the quar- 
ters of Colonel Craig, for an examination of the case. 
On questioning the prisoner why he had shot the 
Indian, he made no reply, except to say on returning 
from the Mimbres, some Indians whom he met had 
threatened to kill him ; although he did not pretend 
to say that the man he had shot was the one. 

It appeared on examination, that Gordon, a cook, 
was the only person who witnessed the affair. He 
states that there was some dispute between Jesus and 
the Indian, about a whip belonging to the latter, and 
which the former wished to buy. Jesus had the whip 
under his arm, and on failing to agree about it, the 
Indian attempted to pull it from him. The Mexican, 
becoming enraged, first picked up a stone, and then 
seized his rifle. He levelled it at the Indian, when 
scarcely beyond the reach of the muzzle, and delibe- 
rately shot him down, the ball passing through his 
body just above the heart. Jesus ran to the Indian's 
horse which stood near the tent, intending to make 
his escape. Mr. J. B. Stewart, who was not far off, 
and heard the report levelled his rifle, threatening to 
shoot him if he stirred. The fellow stopped, and the 
next moment was a prisoner. When these facts were 
•made known to Mangus Colorado, and the other 
chiefs present they were satisfied that the Americans 
were in no way implicated in the affair, and that it was 


a private quarrel between a Mexican and an Indian. 
They were equally satisfied when assured that the 
prisoner should be kept in chains, and punished if the 
man died ; and the conference ended in good feel- 
ing. The chief, Ponce, made a long speech on the 
occasion, and said they "all believed it the work of 
one bad man, and that the Commission had nothing to 
do with it." "If the man died, they should require 
the punishment of the murderer. If he lived, the 
Mexican should be compelled to labor, and the pro- 
ceeds of it be given to the family of the wounded man, 
as a remuneration for the loss of his services." 

The wounded man was taken to the hospital where 
he was attended by the surgeons of the Commission 
and the escort, and the best possible care taken of 
him. His wife and mother were in constant attend- 
ance, and his friends had access to him at all times. 
The chiefs were in daily, and expressed their satisfac- 
tion with my course. The poor man lingered for a 
month when he died. I ordered a coffin made for 
him, and intended having him decently buried; but 
his friends, refusing both the coffin and burial, laid 
him across a mule and carried him to their camp for 
interment, according to their own customs. 

The Indians now waited upon us in considerable 
numbers, accompanied by their chiefs, and demanded 
that the prisoner should at once be delivered into 
their hands. I told them that as the offence was com- 
mitted in our territory, the man must be punished 
according to our laws. Most of the chiefs were assem- 
bled on this occasion, and presented a strange and 
picturesque appearance, as they were distributed about 


my quarters in various attitudes. Some standing, 
others sitting on benches, while the larger number 
adopted the common Indian position of sitting on their 
haunches with their knees drawn up before them, 
clasped by their hands. Had there been room to lie 
down, that posture would have been preferred. They 
came professedly as advocates of the woman's cause, 
and would listen to nothing but the unconditional 
delivery of the murderer, preferring their demand 
with considerable eloquence. Three or four would 
start upon the same point together, and he who could 
talk the fastest would be allowed to go on with the 
subject. As in the former controversy with these peo- 
ple, the arguments between the chiefs and myself were 
taken down. I began by addressing them through 
Mr. John C. Cremony, the interpreter of the Commis- 
sion, as follows : 

" I feel sad, as well as all the Americans here, and 
sympathize with our Apache brothers for the death of 
one of their braves. We were all friends. The dead 
man was our friend, and we regret his loss. I know 
that he had committed no offence ; that he even did 
not provoke the attack upon him. But our Apache 
brethren must remember that it was not by the hand 
of an American that his death was caused. It was by a 
Mexican, though a man in the employ of the Commis- 
sion. For this reason it is my duty to see justice done 
you, and the murderer punished. 

" I am here, as I have told you, in command of the 
party engaged in making the dividing line between 
the United States, the country of the. Americans, and 
Mexico. I have explained this to you fully before, 


which you now understand. Beyond this I have no 
powers. The great chief of the American people lives 
far, very far, towards the rising sun. From him I 
received my orders, and those orders I must obey. I 
cannot interfere in punishing any man, whether an 
Indian, a Mexican, or an American. There is another 
great chief who lives at Santa Fe. He is the governor 
of all New Mexico. This great chief administers the 
laws of the Americans. He holds a court wherein all 
persons charged with crimes are judged. He alone 
can inflict punishment when a man has been found 
guilty. To this great chief, this governor, I will send 
the murderer of our Apache brother. He will try 
him, and, if found guilty, will have him punished 
according to American laws. Such is all that I can 
do. Such is the disposition I will make of this man. 
It is all that I have a right to do." 

Ponce. " This is all very good. The Apaches know 
that the Americans are their friends. The Apaches 
believe what the Americans say is true. They know 
that the Americans do not speak with two tongues. 
They know that you have never told them a lie. They 
know that you will do what you say. But the Apaches 
will not be satisfied to know that the murderer is pun- 
ished in Santa Fe. They want him punished here, at 
the Copper Mines, where the band of the dead brave 
may see him put to death — where all the Apaches 
may see him put to death (making the sign of being 
suspended by the neck). Then the Apaches will see 
and know that their American brothers will do justice 
to them." 

Commissioner. — " I will propose another plan to 


the chiefs and captains of the Apaches. This plan is 
to keep the murderer in chains, as you now see 
him ; to make him work, and to give all he earns to the 
wife and family of your dead brave. This I will see 
paid in blankets, in cotton, in beads, in corn, in money, 
or in any thing the family may want. I will give them 
all that is now due to this man, and at the end of every 
month, I will give them twenty dollars more in money, 
or in goods. When the cold season arrives, these 
women and children will then come in and receive 
their blankets and cloth to keep them warm, and corn 
to satisfy their hunger." 

Ponce. — "You speak well. Your promises are 
fair. But money will not satisfy an Apache for the 
murder of a brave ! No ! thousands will not drown 
the grief of this poor woman for the loss of her son. 
Would money satisfy an American for the murder of 
his people ? Would money pay you, Senor Commis- 
sioner, for the loss of your child ? No ! money will 
not bury your grief. It will not bury ours. The 
mother of this brave demands the life of the mur- 
derer. Nothing else will satisfy her. She wants no 
money. She wants no goods. She wants no corn. 
Would money satisfy me, Ponce (at the same time 
striking his breast), for the death of my son ? No ! I 
would demand the blood of the murderer. Then I 
would be satisfied. Then would I be willing to die 
myself. I would not wish to live and bear the grief 
which the loss of my son would cause me."* 

* This son of Ponce was the finest looking man we saw at the 
Copper Mines, and the greatest rascal. In an attempt some months 


Commissioner. — " Your words are good and true. 
You speak with a heart full of feeling. I feel as you 
do. All the Americans feel as you do. Our hearts 
are sad at your loss. We mourn with this poor woman. 
We will do all that we can to assist her and her family. 
I know that neither money nor goods will pay for their 
loss. I do not want the Apache chiefs, my brothers, 
so to consider it. What I propose is for the good of 
this family. My wish is to make them comfortable. 
I desire to give them the aid of which they are de- 
prived by the loss of their protector. If the prisoner's 
life is taken, your desire for revenge is satisfied. Law 
and justice are satisfied. But this poor woman and 
her family get nothing. They remain poor. They 
have no one to labor for them. Will it not be better 
to provide for their wants ?" 

The chiefs now exchanged views with each other, 
all having more or less to say ; when Ponce, their prin- 
cipal speaker, said they had all agreed to leave the 
matter entirely with the mother of the deceased, and 
that by her decision they would abide. She evidently 
desired the life of the prisoner. Her desire for revenge 
or justice, was more to her than money or goods. The 
discussion was resumed. 

Ponce. — ■'- If an Apache should take the life of an 
American, would you not make war on us and take 
many Apache lives ?" 

Commissioner. — " No ; I would demand the arrest 
of the murderer, and would be satisfied to have him 

later to run off some mules, he received a rifle ball in his thigh, which 
or a while checked his thievish propensities. 
vol. i. — 22 


punished, as the Apaches punish those who commit 
murder. Did not a band of Apaches attack a small 
party of Americans, my countrymen, very lately on 
the Janos road? Did they not kill one of them, and 
pierce three others with their arrows ? And did they 
not take from them all their property ? Yes ; you all 
know it to be true, and I know it to be true. I passed 
near the spot where it took place, three days after. 
The Apaches did not even bury their victim ; they left 
him lying by the road-side, food for the wolves and 
crows. Why do not the Americans revenge them- 
selves on you for this act ? They are strong enough 
to do it. They have many soldiers, and in a few days 
can bring a thousand more here. But there would be 
no justice in that. The Americans believe this murder 
was committed by your bad men ; by cowards. The 
Apaches have bad men among them; but you who are 
now with us are our friends, and we will not demand 
redress of you. Yet, as I told you before, you must 
endeavor to find the men who killed our brother, and 
punish them. Our animals feed in your valleys ; some 
of your bad men might steal them, as they have already 
done ; but the Americans would not make war on you 
for this. We hold you responsible, and shall call on 
you to find them and bring them back, as you have 
done. While the Apaches continue to do this, the 
Americans will be their friends and brothers. But if 
the Apaches take their property and you do not restore 
it, you can no longer be the friends of the Americans. 
War will then follow ; thousands of soldiers will take 
possession of your best lands, your grass valleys, and 
your watering-places. They will destroy every Apache 


they find, and take your women and children cap- 

The discussion continued in this manner for two 
hours, the chiefs showing much sagacity in arguing 
their point. The matter was finally settled very much 
to my satisfaction, and apparently to that of the In- 
dians, by my paying to the mother of the deceased 
thirty dollars in money, that being the amount due 
the prisoner. I furthermore agreed to pay her twenty 
dollars a month, hereafter, the amount of the prisoner's 
wages. Thus was terminated this unfortunate affair, 
which, at one time, seemed about to destroy the good 
understanding which had existed between the members 
of the Commission and our Indian friends. 




Arrival of Mr. A. B. Gray — Meeting of Joint Commission — Objections of 
Mr. Gray to initial point — Mules missing — Arrival of Colonel Graham 
— Mules stolen from Fronteras — Descent of the Apaches on the Mule 
herd — Organization of parties for the Survey — Application to Colonel 
Sumner for more troops — Hostile attitude of the Indians — Second in- 
cursion of the Indians — Mules taken — Colonel Craig goes in pursuit — 
Arrival of Captain Buford with dragoons to our aid — Indians pursued 
by Colonel Craig and Captain Buford — Third incursion of the Indians 
— Volunteer party go in pursuit — Indians overtaken and cattle re- 
covered — Apache chief recognized among the robbers — Determine to 
set out for the Gila. 

On the 19 th July, Mr. A. B. Gray, United States Sur- 
veyor, Mr. Charles Radziminski, his principal assistant, 
and Lieutenant Burnside, U. S. Army, Quarter- master 
and Commissary, arrived. These gentlemen had come 
in the same party with Colonel Graham, whom they left 
at El Paso, and I felt greatly disappointed at the non- 
arrival of that officer, for whom more than two thirds 
of the Commission had so long been waiting to enter 
upon their duties. General Conde, the Mexican Com- 
missioner, with some of his party, arrived at the same 
time, in order to make arrangements for going on with 
the Gila Survey, which had been so long delayed. 

Mr. Gray presented his instructions from the Secre- 
tary of the Interior, and made known his readiness to 


go on with his work. I therefore instructed him to 
organize a party for the linear Survey of the Gila, 
and to make the necessary arrangements for wagons, 
mules, horses, camp-equipage, subsistence, etc., which 
would be furnished him by the Quarter-master and 
Commissary, of the Commission. He lost no time in 
complying with my instructions, but at once selected 
his assistants, and prepared to take the field. 

The day after the arrival of Mr. Surveyor Gray and 
General Conde, a meeting of the Joint Commission 
took place, when arrangements were entered into to 
commence the survey of the Gila, the General and 
his assistants, on the part of the Mexican Commission, 
undertaking the astronomical portion, while Mr. Gray, 
with his corps of engineers and surveyors, was to 
make the linear survey. We now only required the 
arrival of Colonel Graham to organize an astronomical 
force on the part of the United States. 

On the 25th of July, Mr. Gray addressed me a let- 
ter objecting to the Initial Point agreed upon by the 
Joint Commission, at 32° 22' north latitude on the Rio 
Grande, which had been established and marked on 
the 24th of April preceding, and from which the line 
had been extended west by Lieutenant Whipple. He 
advised a suspension of the work. 

I replied to Mr. Gray, that on a further examina- 
tion I was satisfied that the Initial Point on the Rio 
Grande had been established according to the treaty, 
and that I should adhere to the agreement entered 
into relating to it. I soon after, on the 8th of August, 
advised the Secretary of the Interior of Mr. Gray's 


On the receipt of my letter and the objections of Mr. 
Gray to the proceedings of the Joint Commission and 
the Initial Point as established at 32° 22', the Secre- 
tary of the Interior, the Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuart, 
requested Mr. Gray " to remove the only obstacle 
which now exists to the completion of this branch of 
the work, by affixing his signature to the requisite 
papers." As this and other official documents are 
important for a clear understanding of this question, 
and as they are inaccessible to the large mass of 
readers, I have thought it best to append them at this 
place in the form of notes, without entering into any 
argument on the subject. The official acts establishing 
the Initial Point have been before given, and would 
be incomplete without the following letters, all of 
which have been printed in the documents of the 
United States Senate." 

* Mr. Gray's letter of July 25th, 1851, containing his objections to 
the Initial Point may be found in Senate Document No. 119, 3 2d Con- 
gress, 1st Session, p. 279. My letter to Mr. Secretary Stuart, relating 
to the Initial Point, is contained in the same document, p. 145. 

Secretary Stuart to Surveyor Gray. 

Department of the Interior, 
October 31, 1851. 

Sir : In relation to the temporary suspension of the work connected 
with the Mexican Boundary Survey, growing out of your refusal to affix 
your signature to the necessary papers establishing the Initial Point for 
the demarkation of the line at 32° 22 ; , you are informed, that inasmuch 
as the Commissioners appointed by their respective governments to 
run and mark the boundary line between the United States and Mexico 
were not necessarily constrained to suspend all operations connected 
with the Survey during your absence, and until your recovery from the 


On the 28th July, several mules belonging to Colo- 
nel Craig, disappeared and could not be found ; and as 
he believed the Apaches had been instrumental in 
driving them off, he determined to go in search of 

indisposition with -which you were afflicted, those officers progressed 
with the work intrusted to them, and fixed the Initial Point of said line 
on the meridian of latitude referred to. 

As the Commissioners coincide in opinion respecting the correct- 
ness of their operations and their results, and are satisfied that the 
Initial Point has been accurately ascertained and determined, it is very 
desirable that the official documents necessary to the settlement of this 
important point should be at once perfected ; you are requested, there- 
fore, to remove the only obstacle which now exists to the completion 
of this branch of the work, by affixing your signature to the requisite 

I am, &c, 


A. B. Gray, Esq., 

U. S. Surveyor, &c. 

Secretary Stuart to Major Emory. 

Department of the Interior, 

November 4, 1851. 

Sir: I transmit herewith your commission as Surveyor, under 
the 5th article of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, to run and mark 
the boundary line between the United States and Mexico, also a copy 
of a letter this day addressed to John R. Bartlett, Esq., United States 
Commissioner, containing explanations respecting your position and 

I also inclose a copy of my letter of the 31st ultimo, to A. B. Gray, 
Esq., late Surveyor ; and in the event of his persisting in his refusal to 
affix his signature to the necessary papers for the establishment of the 
Initial Point for the demarkation of the boundary line as ascertained 
and agreed upon by the Commissioners of the two Governments, I have 


them at once. On the morning of the 29th, he set off 
with thirty soldiers for the Apache Camp, on the Mim- 
bres. On the appearance of a military force among 
them, the Indians became much alarmed, and assured 

to request you will sign the official documents which have been pre- 
pared for the purpose, and which only require the signature of the Sur- 
veyor to settle this important point. 
I am, &c, 

Brevet Major Wm. H. Emory, 

United States Surveyor, &c. 



Mr. Gray having been removed before he had an opportunity to affix 
his signature to the boundary document as directed ; Major Emory 
obeyed the instructions of the Secretary of the Interior, as appears by 
his letter to that officer, which may be found in Senate Doc. No. 6, 
Special Session, 1853. 

Extract from Major Emory's Letter. 

Camp near Fort Duncan, 

October 1, 1852. 

* * * On my reaching the ground to take charge of the Survey, 
November, 1851, I found that Mr. Bartlett and the assistant Surveyor 
had agreed upon the Initial Point, 32° 22 ; , and that a great stone monu- 
ment had been erected, marking the point, and having the usual inscrip- 
tions, and the names of the American and Mexican Commissioners, 
Astronomers, and Surveyors. 

The Surveyor (Mr. Gray) came out long after the Initial Point was 
agreed upon, and the monument erected and the line begun, relieving 
the acting Surveyor (Lieutenant Whipple), and protested against the 
point. With the protest and the views of the Commission before him, 
both sides, it is presumed fairly stated, the Hon. Secretary instructed 
the Surveyor to sign the maps ; but before the instructions reached him 
he was relieved, and I was appointed in his place, with the same instruc- 

I therefore considered the matter as settled, and the action of the 


the Colonel they had not been instrumental in stealing 
his mules, nor did they know any thing about them. 
Upon their promise to go in search of them, and if 
found to bring them in, Colonel Craig returned to the 

Government as final. The official documents which have been prepared 
for the purpose, referred to in my letter of appointment and instructions, 
never having been presented, no action has been taken in the matter defi- 
nitely and finally to " settle this important point." I quote from my 
instructions, for as I shall presently show, it has, by the views taken of 
the subject by both sides, ceased to be an important point. 

But I have done this in compliance with the letter and spirit of 
my instructions. Mr. Salazar, the Mexican Commissioner and Sur- 
veyor, met me at the Presidio del Norte, Aug'ust 1st, to sign the maps of the 
Rio Grand — forming the boundary. Neither party had the maps pro- 
perly prepared, nor was Mr. Salazar at all prepared in money or means 
to go on with the work at the rate I was progressing. I had already 
signed, conjointly with him, as astronomer and surveyor, the only maps 
fit for signature ; but he remained pressing me to sign other maps which 
involve incidentally the Initial Point agreed upon by Mr. Bartlett, Mr. 
Conde, Mr. Salazar, and Mr. Whipple, from which Col. Graham had 
started his survey of the river. / therefore, on the 28th of August, 
signed the maps according to my instructions, with the reservation con- 
tained in the paper, a copy of which is herewith sent, marked A., signed 
conjointly by Mr. Salazar and myself, and the statement therein refer- 
red to, setting forth on the face of the maps that it was the " boundary'''' 
agreed upon by the two Commissioners, April 20, 1851." 

I presume it was never intended I should give my certificate, as 
Astronomer and Surveyor, to the correctness of the determination of a 
point which had been determined by the observation of others, and with- 
out consultation or advice of mine. On the other hand, I do not for a 
moment doubt the power of the Government to instruct me on the subject, 
or hesitate as to my duty to obey its mandates, which I understand as 
requiring me only to authenticate the Initial Point agreed upon by the 
Commissioners of the two Governments. 

In reference to the importance of the point, I think it as well to 


On the 2d August, Colonel Graham, Principal As- 
tronomer, Lieutenants Whipple and Smith, and several 
other gentlemen arrived, and encamped near the fort. 

On the 7th August, word was brought me that 
eight or ten of our mules which were kept at the As- 
tronomical Observatory at Frontera, near El Paso, had 
been stolen by the Indians; and the following day 
Lieutenant Green set off with a file of soldiers for So- 
corro, in order to intercept the robbers. 

Four days after this, our camps were aroused with 
the news that the Indians had made a descent upon the 
mules belonging to Colonel Craig's command, which 
were grazing, in charge of three or four men, about a 
mile from the fort, and had run off about twenty-five 
together with some valuable horses. As soon as a party 
could be got ready they set off in pursuit, but after a 
few hours returned unsuccessful. One of the men who 

state that the line agreed upon by the Commissioners, April, 1851, is 
about thirty-three minutes north of the line contended for as that laid 
down on Disturnell's map, but reached about sixteen minutes of an 
arc further west ; and as both lines run three degrees of longitude west, 
the difference of territory is three degrees of longitude, multiplied by 
thirty-three minutes of latitude, minus sixteen minutes of longitude, mul- 
tiplied by about forty minutes of latitude, each having a middle lati- 
tude that may for the purpose of computation be assumed at thirty-two 
degrees. Neither line gives us the road to California, and the country 
embraced in the area of difference, with the exception of a strip along the 
Rio Grande about nine miles long and from one to two wide, is barren, 
and will not produce wheat, corn, grapes, trees, or any thing useful as 
food for man or for clothing. 

Neither line will give a channel of communication for posts along 
the frontier, without which it is impracticable to comply with the elev- 
enth article of the treaty, which engages the United States to keep the 
Indians out of Mexico. 


was left with the mules was missing ; but whether he 
was killed or taken away prisoner, is not known. He 
was never seen or heard of after. 

The manner in which the theft was accomplished, 
was thus related to me by one of the herders: The 
animals were grazing in a little valley, surrounded by 
low pine trees and scrub oaks, when on a sudden a 
party of Indians who had approached unperceived 
among the trees, which were here very thick, rushed 
among the herd, set up a whoop that frightened the 
timid mules, and drove them off. The Indians were 
all mounted ; and before the herdsmen could gain 
their saddles, they had the mules and horses on the 
full run before them. The herdsmen had no resource 
but to collect such animals as were left, and hastened 
with them to our camp. 

On the arrival of Colonel Graham, as mentioned 
above, arrangements were entered into as soon as pos- 
sible for going on with the work which had been so 
long delayed in consequence of his absence, and that 
of Mr. Gray. One astronomical and two surveying 
parties were organized for the survey of the Rio Grande, 
all of which were to be under the direction of Colonel 
Graham. The work was to be commenced at the 
Initial Point, and carried to the mouth of that river. 
The astronomical party for the survey of the Gila was 
placed in charge of Lieutenant A. W. Whipple ; while 
that for the linear survey remained under the principal 
Surveyor, A. B. Gray, Esq.* With this organization 

* Although. I have embraced in this narrative the particulars relat- 
ing to the establishment of the Initial Point, I do not think it proper to 


we hastened to get our wagons, mules, tents, camp 
equipage, provisions, etc., ready in order to take the 
field as soon as possible. 

While these arrangements were in progress, I sent 
a messenger to Santa Fe, with a letter to Colonel Sum- 
ner, commanding the troops in that military division, 
with a request that another company might be fur- 
nished me for an additional escort. This, on consul- 
tation with the army officers, was deemed actually 
necessary. Our present escort had been greatly 
reduced by desertions and sickness, so that there were 
less than forty effective men. We were now about to 

enter into the particulars of the serious difficulties which took place 
between the Principal Astronomer, Colonel Graham, and myself, imme- 
diately on his arrival, growing out of his extraordinary and inexcusable 
delay of more than nine months from his appointment, in reaching the 
field of oj>erations, and of his assumption afterwards. Never, in the 
whole course of my life, have I been placed in so trying a position. But 
such were my instructions, and such my responsibilities as head of the 
Commission, that I must either maintain this position, or, in succumbing 
to the demands of Colonel Graham, make myself and the Chief Surveyor, 
Mr. Gray, subordinate to him, resign all power and control on the mem- 
bers of the Commission, and become a mere nullity. I preferred 
the former alternative ; and in order to lay the matter before the 
Government, and abide its approval or disapproval, I sent Mr. Charles 
Radziminski, the Principal Assistant Engineer, to Washington with my 
dispatches. These unfortunate difficulties with Colonel Graham, most 
of which was owing to contention for rank and position between Mr. 
Gray and himself, greatly retarded the progress of the Survey, and caused 
much suffering to the parties engaged on the Gila portion of the work. 
The Government sustained me in my position, and removed Colonel 
Graham, appointing Major W. H. Emory in his place. The Correspon- 
dence on this subject maybe found in Senate Document No. 119, 32d 
Congress, 1st Session — and particularly in my Dispatch to the Hon. Sec- 
retary of the Interior, No. 21, page 433 of the same document. 


enter a field in the midst of hostile Indians, where we 
should be divided necessarily, into several small par- 
ties, thereby subjecting ourselves to the danger of 
losing our animals' as well as of being attacked una- 
wares. Before leaving Washington, the Secretary of 
War directed the Commanding Officer at El Paso, to 
detail an additional company for the escort, in case the 
Indians " have assumed a more hostile attitude towards 
the Americans, in the region through which the lines 
of the Survey are to be made." I now believed that 
such an exigency had occurred ; for more robberies 
had been committed on the frontier than for some 
time previous, and the Commission, as well as its 
escort had met with losses within a few days, which 
showed that either the Apaches or some other tribes 
entertained inimical designs towards us. But my 
request was not complied with. 

Since the visit of Colonel Craig to their camp in 
search of his mules, the Indians had been more 
reserved, and for a week previous to the 17th August, 
none had visited us. On the afternoon of that day a 
man who had been herding the mules and cattle about 
six miles from the Copper Mines, suddenly rode in 
with the news, that a descent had just been made upon 
them by a band of Indians, and that about fifty of the 
best mules had been driven off. Our men fortunately 
secured between seventy and eighty, by driving them 
into a corral or inclosure as soon as they discovered 
the enemy. But the rest were past recovery; for had 
the men attempted to pursue them, they would have 
been overpowered, and have lost the remainder of the 


As may be supposed, this news produced a great 
excitement in our camp. Immediate preparations 
were made to pursue the robbers, and Colonel Craig 
with his usual promptness set off at midnight, with 
between twenty and thirty men, which were all that 
we could mount. Unfortunately we possessed few 
good horses, and there was no alternative but to 
mount the soldiers on mules. My only hope was that 
the Indians would not go far, finding they were 
not at once pursued, which would enable Colonel 
Craig to overtake them, or surprise them in the 
camp. He soon struck the trail of the robbers, to 
which he was guided by Tucker, one of the herders 
who had followed them for several miles. About 
thirty miles beyond the Gila, the Colonel surprised 
two camps ; but discovering his approach, the Indians 
made off, and, by scattering in every direction, as is 
usual in such cases, eluded further pursuit. Their 
fires were still burning, with mule meat and corn half 
roasted about them. His men also found some blan- 
kets such as are made by the Navajos, which caused 
him to attribute the robbery to that tribe. The Nava- 
jos were known to be in force to the amount of about 
four hundred near the Gila, and I believed the Colo- 
nel's inference to be correct. 

On the day this robbery took place, I sent a mes- 
senger to Major Shepard, commanding at Dona Ana, 
advising him of the depredation of the Indians, and 
soliciting such aid as it might be in his power to 
extend to us in the emergency. He promptly attended 
to my request, and on the 2 2d instant Captain Buford 
arrived with his company of forty Dragoons. 


The following day Colonel Craig again set out with 
some eight or ten men, being all that he could mount, 
together with Captain Buford and his command. A 
few civilians joined the party as volunteers. All were 
well mounted and armed, and carried their provisions 
and camp equipage on pack mules. They took no 
tents, and as little baggage as possible. 
I The loss of so many animals at this particular junc- 
•ture was a most serious additional impediment to the 
movements of the Commission. We had had no more 
than were absolutely necessary, and now some of the* 
parties must necessarily be delayed until others could 
be procured. Nevertheless, I was determined to get 
off, if we had any means of going, and the necessary 
preparations for the journey proceeded. That General 
Conde might not be disappointed by my not meeting 
him at the Burro Mountains according to agreement, I 
despatched Mr. James Steele and Mr. Scott, assistants 
in the Surveying corps, to his camp to make known to 
him our losses by the Indians, which might delay us a 
few days beyond the time. But we had not yet got 
through our troubles. 

On the morning of the 24th August, the alarming 
intelligence was brought us, that the Indians had 
entered the valley where the animals were grazing, 
about half a mile from the fort, and had run off all the 
mules and horses belonging to Colonel Craig, together 
with the eighteen mules used by Captain Buford, to 
transport his wagons from Dona Ana. Great conster- 
nation was caused by this news, particularly as it was 
followed by a report that the Indians were endeavor- 
ing to drive off our cattle, of which we had nearly a 


hundred head. We seized our arms, and ran to the 
hills near the canon, where we discovered the cattle 
urged on by the herdsmen, and making through the 
trees and bushes for our camp, where we soon had the 
satisfaction of seeing them safely inclosed. An hour 
later we heard that a descent had also been made upon 
the horses and cattle belonging to Mr. Hay, who with 
a small party, was engaged in working the gold mines, 
four miles distant ; and soon after the family of this 
gentleman, arrived with all their effects, corroborating 
what we had heard. They informed us that all Mr. 
Hay's cattle had been run off, and that he and his 
people had armed themselves and gone in pursuit. A 
volunteer party from the Commission soon joined 
them, embracing some fifteen or twenty persons, and 
among them Lieutenant Whipple. They pressed the 
Indians so hard that they overtook them just at dark, 
after a flight of thirty miles. As in the former instance, 
they abandoned the cattle, and scattered in all direc- 
tions. The cattle of Mr. Hay, twenty -two in number, 
were recovered ; and a horse and mule belonging to 
the Indians were also taken. The party with the 
mules having two hours the start, could not be over- 

Our place was now in a state of siege. The camps 
of the several surveying parties, which had been scat- 
tered through the valley, were brought into the neigh- 
borhood of the fort ; picket guards were stationed 
upon the commanding eminences ; arms were cleaned, 
and ammunition distributed ; and every precaution 
taken to repel an attack ; for it was thought that the 
Indians, who are ever on the alert, seeing so large a 


force leave the place, might suppose it defenceless, 
and make a descent upon those who remained. 

There could be no doubt as to who the depreda- 
tors were in this case, as Mr. Hay was present when 
his cattle were taken, and had a parley with the well- 
known chief, Delgadito, who stood at a distance beyond 
the reach of his rifle. These robberies were, there- 
fore, committed by the very Indians who had been 
fed by us, and had received every kindness at our 
hands. We had the charity, however, to believe that 
they were set on by the Navajos, as it was predicted 
that the appearance of this tribe boded no good. 

About one hundred and fifty animals had been 
stolen, a part of them almost within sight of the fort ; 
showing, if it needed any demonstration, the utter use- 
lessness and inefficiency of our infantry escort for such 
a service. Had my last application for a company of 
dragoons been complied with we should have saved 
these animals; as my messenger had returned from 
Santa Fe before any robberies had been committed, 
except that of the few mules lost by Colonel Craig in 

In consequence of our last loss, Lieutenant Green 
informed me that it would be impossible to furnish 
the escort required for the protection of the Gila party, 
as he was deprived of all means to transport their pro- 
visions and camp equipage, even though the men 
should walk. After the return of Colonel Craig,. 
who might be absent two weeks, it would be neces- 
sary for Lieutenant Green to go to the towns on the 
Rio Grande to purchase a new outfit of mules and. 

horses. In this state of things, it was evident that if 
vol. i. — 23 


I waited for the escort I must delay my departure at 
least a month, thereby deranging the plans of the 
Mexican Commission by failing to keep my engage- 
ment with them, and retarding our own work to so 
laie a period that it might be impossible to complete 
the survey of the Gila before winter set in. 

In the midst of all these difficulties, I determined 
to push forward with the work, and notified Mr. Gray 
and Lieute.nant Whipple, the chiefs of the parties that 
were to accompany me, to be in readiness to leave on 
the 27th instant. Colonel Graham, whose parties had 
also been organized for the survey of the Rio Grande, 
and were then awaiting his orders to enter the field, 
informed me that he wouid accompany me to the camp 
of General Conde, in order "to pay his respects" to 
that officer, and to his friend Mr. .Salazar. 

At this time our supply of provisions at the Cop- 
per Mines was very limited ; but as a train of wagons 
sent to our depot near El Paso for provisions was 
expected in three or four days, with an ample .supply, 
I determined to start with only about ten days' rations 
of flour, sugar, coffee, pork, etc., leaving orders for 
the remainder to be sent forward immediately on its 
arrival. Of fresh meat we had an abundant supply, 
taking with us twenty-five head of beef cattle, and one 
hundred and eighty sheep. 




Organization of parties for the Survey of the Gila — Leave the Copper 
Mines — Pack-mules — Mode of Packing — Ojo de Vaca — Camp in the 
Burro Mountains — Ojo de Inez — Grizzly Bear — Violent rain — Heavy 
travelling — La Piloncillo, or Sugar-loaf Mountain — Broad plain — Camp 
at El Sauce — Man missing — Camp in the Chiricahui Mountains — 
Boggy road — Want of water — Dry lake — Beach the Mexican Camp — 
Meeting of the Joint Commission — Mr. Gray's objection to the Boun- 
dary — March resumed — Mules abandoned — Reach San Pedro Biver — 
Its character. 

The journey we were now about to undertake was 
entirely different from any we had yet made. Since 
leaving the coast in Texas we had, except for eight 
days, followed a well marked and beaten road, practi- 
cable for wagons, and which was constantly followed 
by trains of emigrants passing to California. Now we 
had first to traverse a broad tract of country between 
us and the Gila, where there was no road, or even a 
trail ; ignorant as to the existence of water or grass, 
or even whether it would be possible to reach our 
place of destination with the wagons. It was neces- 
sary to strike the Gila near the point where it is inter- 
sected by the western boundary of New Mexico, or in 
longitude 109° 47' west from Greenwich. It was 
known that this river had its rise in lofty mountains, 
through which it ran for nearly two hundred miles of 



the portion to be surveyed; and hence our uncertainty 
as to the best mode to be adopted for conveying our 
equipage and supplies. As the Copper Mines are at 
an elevation of six thousand two hundred and fifty 
feet above the level of the sea, there must necessarily 
be great descents before reaching the lower plains. 
But the great advantage which wagons possess over 
every other means of transportation, where it is possi- 
ble to get through with them, induced me to use them 
as far as possible, at the same time keeping well pro- 
vided with pack-mules in case of emergency. 

The parties for the survey of the Gila were organ- 
ized as follows : 

1st Assistants. 

2d Assistants. 

Andrew B. Gray, U. S. Surveyor in charge of 
party for the Linear Survey. 

John Bull, 

J. H. Prioleau, 

Malcolm Seaton, 

James Steel, 

James T. Scott, 

Wm. A. Taylor, 
William Bausman, Clerk and Assistant. 
Eight laborers and servants; two stonecutters; one 
blacksmith ; one carpenter ; two cooks ; three arrieros, 
and one teamster. 

Lieut. A. W. Whipple, Topog. Engrs. in charge of 
the Astronomical and Topographical party. 

Henry C. Force, 

Frank Wheaton, 

Hugh Campbell, 

John O'Donoghue, d 

■ Assistants. 


Three instrument carriers ; five laborers and servants ; 
two cooks ; three arrieros and herders ; one teamster. 
To drive the twenty -five head of cattle and one hun- 
dred and eighty sheep, three men were employed. 

My immediate party consisted of the following : 

Thomas H. Webb, Secretary of the Joint Commis- 
sion, Surgeon, and Mineralogist. 

John C. Cremony, Interpreter. 

Henry C. Pratt, Draughtsman. 

George Thurber, Quarter-master, Commissary, and 

John J. Pbatt, Assistant (afterwards transferred 
to Lieutenant Whipple). 

One cook; two laborers and servants ; three arrieros. 

The whole party, including myself, made fifty- 
seven persons, to which I must add the captive girl, 
Inez Gonzales, whom I meant to send to her family at 
Santa Cruz when we should be near that place. My 
original intention had been to take the larger portion 
of the military escort with me ; and Colonel Craig had 
made his arrangements accordingly, and intended to 
accompany it himself, leaving Lieutenant Green with a 
small detachment for the parties on the Rio Grande, 
with the hope that additions would be made to it as 
soon as the recruits came out. But his plans, as well 
as my own, were frustrated by the depredations of the 
Indians. To have waited until Colonel Craig could 
make good his losses would have deferred the expedi- 
tion for a month at least. I therefore thought it best 
to hasten on and fulfil my engagements with the Mexi- 
can Commission, and then proceed to the Gila and 
commence the survey. I requested Colonel Craig with 


his escort to accompany the train of provisions, which 
was to follow by the California road under the charge 
of Captain Barry, and to join the surveying parties at 
or near the Pimo Villages, on the Gila. This would 
enable him to send to the settlements and get his 
mules before our train would leave ; and the surveying 
parties would merely be deprived of his protection 
until they should reach that point. 

On the morning of the 27th of August, every thing 
was in commotion in our several camps, each party 
making their own arrangements for departing. A 
full day's march was not contemplated ; to leave our 
camp and quarters, to get our wagons, mules, tents 
and camp equipage together, and get a start, was all 
that we expected to accomplish the first day. 

We had not before used pack mules ; so that this 
portion of our train and its preparation was a novelty 
to us.* The mules are first driven up, brought into a 
line, and tied. The packs for each are arranged, so 
that each may carry the same weight, and such articles 
are selected to accompany each other as will ride best 
together. Thus two trunks or panniers of equal weight 
are placed together for one animal — cooking utensils 
in hampers for another — tents, poles and bedding for 
a third — provisions according to their bulk and weight 
for others, and so on. These are arranged with much 
care, and the arriero or muleteer, endeavors to pre- 
serve the same load for each mule as long as he can. 

* Pack mules are not used in Texas, in the northern portions of 
Chihuahua, and but little in New Mexico, as the country can be every 
where traversed with wagons. The poor farmers, however, use them as 
well as jackasses to carry wood, and for transporting small loads. 


This saves much time in packing, and avoids confu- 
sion. The aparejo or pack-saddle, is a heavy, clumsy 
affair, stuffed with hay so as to form a large pad on 
each side of the animal, to protect him from his heavy 
burden, and weighing from thirty to forty pounds. 
When all is ready, a blinder is slipped over the eyes 
of the mule, which renders him perfectly docile. The 
cumbrous saddle is then thrown over his back, and 
bound with lashings so firmly, that the body of the 
beast is brought into the shape of an hour-glass ; after 
which the load is laid on and secured by a mysterious 
combination of cords, which none but an arriero can 
comprehend. These are tightened by the united 
efforts of two men, who, with one foot against the sad- 
dle, pull away with their utmost strength. The groans 
and grunts of the animals as the cords tighten upon 
them, the jokes and shouts of the arrieros, and occa- 
sionally the antics of a beast that for a moment has 
regained its liberty, form a scene which is ever novel 
and amusing. Now and then, after every thing has 
been arranged, and a mule has been suffered to walk 
off with his load, he will lie down and roll, displacing 
his pack, and putting every thing in disorder. All 
has then to be taken off, and the process repeated de 
novo. The arrieros, who are all Mexicans, form a 
peculiar class, who differ as much from their country- 
men, as sailors with us do from landsmen. 

Soon after 12 o'clock I left the Copper Mines, in 
advance with my immediate party, intending to stop 
at some convenient watering place for the rest. We 
were ail mounted, including the captive girl, who was 
placed on a very gentle mule. All the baggage, camp 


equipage, and a portion of our subsistence was carried 
on the mules. I also had with me a Mexican lancer, 
whom General Conde had sent to direct us to his 
camp and to the watering places on the route. When 
about six miles out I received word from Mr. Gray- 
that, owing to the heavy load in his wagon, he should 
be unable to go as far as we had intended, and wished 
me to encamp soon ; besides which, one of his team- 
sters had refused to proceed. As it was impossible to 
send him a man, I ordered that the prisoner Jesus 
should be set at liberty, and should join Mr. Gray. I 
felt no longer bound to keep this man in chains and at 
work, for the benefit of the Indians, who by their rob- 
beries had forfeited all claim on me. Nor could I send 
him to Santa Fe for trial. He had behaved himself 
well ever since ; and as our post at the Copper Mines 
would soon be broken up, I thought it best to take 
him with us. 

Being near a spot where there was water and grass, 
we made our first encampment. Lieutenant Whip- 
ple and Mr. Gray, with their parties, joined us in the 
evening. One of Lieutenant W.'s pack mules had 
started off from the train during the march and disap- 
peared among the hills. Parties were sent in search 
but he could not be found. His pack contained the 
clothing of some of the party, and was a serious loss 
to them. We had much trouble with our own mules, 
which kept constantly breaking away ; but they were 
all finally brought in and secured. 

August 28th. After much time spent in refitting 
the packs to our mules, which were not yet fairly 
broken in, we again set out. We were now all toge- 


ther, including Colonel Graham's party, which added 
considerably to our number. This officer had two 
wagons and an ambulance, several assistants, a corps 
of laborers, servants, cooks, and a military escort. The 
train now stretched out for a long distance, as the pack 
mules followed each other in a single file. The offi- 
cers and men generally rode side by side; and as the 
whole party embraced upwards of seventy persons, 
our cavalcade made quite a respectable appearance. 
We stopped for an hour at PacJieteju to water our ani- 
mals, and then pushed on to Ojo cle Vaca, where we 
encamped. The plains to-day presented a very differ- 
ent appearance from what they did when we crossed 
them in May and June before the rains. They were 
now covered with a rich coat of verdure, and resem- 
bled the green hills and grassy plains of the North. 

August 2d th. From this place four roads diverge. 
To the north is the road to the Copper Mines, we had 
just traversed ; eastward is the one taken by emigrants 
from New Mexico, and first opened to this place by 
Colonel Cooke, which continues south-westwardly to 
the Guadalupe Pass ; and southward runs the road to 
Janos. Our course lay westward near the boundary 
line to a mountain range about fifty miles distant, 
where General Conde was encamped with the Mexican 
Commission awaiting my arrival. Leaving Ojo de 
Vaca, we struck across the open plain due west, to 
pass a spur of the Burro Mountains. Twelve miles 
brought us to this mountain, when the Mexican lancer 
said that by turning up a canon or defile to the north- 
ward, we r should find an excellent spring of water, and 
that none would be met with again for about forty 


miles. We accordingly left the trail and followed 
him. In a short time we entered a narrow and pictu- 
resque defile thickly wooded with scrub-oaks. This 
we followed for about five miles, when it opened upon 
a beautiful grassy meadow about three hundred yards 
wide, in which were many fine springs. Here we 
encamped, near the base of the hills, and about three 
miles north of the line where the Mexican Astrono- 
mers had had their observing camp. After dinner I 
followed the valley up for a mile. The flat meadow- 
like appearance continued as far as I could trace it 
from the tops of the hills, hemmed in on both sides by 
mountains. This valley I am inclined to think extends 
to the Gila, and during heavy rains is covered with 
water. There is land enough here to support a few 
families, with excellent water and some wood ; and it 
would be a good point for a station, in case a wagon 
road or railway should be constructed across this 

The weather to-day was extremely warm, so that 
our captive girl has suffered much from the exposure 
to the sun. Named this spring Ojo de Inez, or Inez's 
Spring, after her. I believe it is known to the Mexi- 
cans as Ojo de Gavilan or Hawk Spring. 

In the hope that we might be able to find a pas- 
sage across the mountains, without retracing our steps 
through the defile by which we had entered, and 
thereby save some six or seven miles of a very bad 
road, I sent a small party out to search for a practica- 
ble route. Towards evening they returned and 
reported that they had found one. 

August 30th. The defile through which we were 


to pass, was about half a mile south of our camp. I 
rode in advance accompanied by several to reconnoitre, 
and followed by the pack mules. This enabled us to 
select the best route for the wagons, which brought up 
the rear. The course was very tortuous, but without 
a hill that required us to lock our wagon wheels. 

As we emerged from the mountains I rode up to 
the top of a hill with two gentlemen, in order to 
obtain a better view of the country. While seated on 
a rock enjoying the prospect before us, we were 
startled by the appearance of a huge grizzly bear, about 
fifteen rods distant, advancing in our direction. He 
discovered us at the same moment we did him, and 
seemed quite as much alarmed, for he suddenly sheered 
and made his escape at full speed along the base of the 
hill. We ran for our arms, which we had left with our 
horses a few yards below ; but before we could get 
them he was too far off for a shot. He crossed 
directly in the rear of the train, when he made for the 
hills, followed by several of the party. Coming to a 
steep ascent, he ran up it with as much ease apparently 
as he did over level ground, and soon disappeared. 
The bear has a great advantage over his pursuers in 
this respect, as his large and pliable feet, and huge 
claws, enable him to climb up the steepest acclivity with 
the same facility as a cat. The color of this animal 
was of a silvery gray, with a darker or a black stripe 
down his back. 

On entering the plain, our course was west to the 
southern point of a short mountain range. The coun- 
try was quite rough and intersected with deep gulleys. 
On passing this mountain we descended by an easy 



and gradual slope to a vast open plain, uninterrupted 
by hills, and bounded on the west by a high range of 
mountains about twenty-five miles distant. North and 
south there were no mountains to obstruct the view. 
Our guide here pointed out to us El Peloncillo, or 

Barro Mountains. 

Sugar Loaf, a mountain of this form in the high range 
alluded to, with an opening near it, where he said 
General Conde was encamped. He told us we should 
find no water until we reached there, which it seemed 
impossible to do before dark. At 3 o'clock in the 
afternoon we encountered a violent shower of rain. A 
few of the party had been so prudent as to have their 
india-rubber coats behind their saddles ; but many 
had left theirs in the wagons which were a mile behind, 


and were consequently drenched to the skin. The rain 
had now made the plain so muddy, that we could 
evidently not reach General Conde's camp before 
night; yet Mr. Gray with some of the party who were 
in advance pushed on with that intention. About 
7 o'clock, as we were plodding slowly along, we heard 
the report of a musket from the wagons in the rear ; 
and taking it for a signal of trouble, we rode back to 
learn the cause. On arriving, we found that the mules 
had given out, that the wagons were fast in the mud, 
and that it was impossible to proceed farther at pre- 
sent. It still continued to rain ; but there was no 
shelter at hand and no alternative but to. encamp where 
we were. The tents were accordingly got out and 
pitched on the open plain, where at every step the 
foot sunk three or four inches in the mud. It was 
with great difficulty that the tents could be kept up, 
as the ground was so soft that the pins would not hold. 
But the more serious question was how to make a fire, 
with no fuel but wet bushes ; for not a particle of wood 
could be found. Nevertheless this was accomplished 
after much perseverance ; and the cup of hot coffee 
which was the result had a wonderful effect in reviving 
our spirits. We retired in the midst of the storm, 
expecting every moment that our tents would fall 
upon us, but they kept their position, and with the 
exception of being a little wet, we passed the night 
more comfortably than could be expected under the 

August 31st. Every thing having been drenched 
with the rain, we did not get off till after 9 o'clock. 
The travelling continued exceedingly heavy and the 



mules showed signs of fatigue and the want of water. 
Our course still lay west for the "Sugar Loaf." We 
entered the defile by an easy and almost imperceptible 
ascent ; and after winding along the valley, and cross- 
ing an arroyo, we reached the camping ground of 
General Conde. The camp, however, had been 

Approach to Sugar Loaf Mountain. 

deserted, apparently within twenty-four hours of our 
arrival. On looking around, we found attached to a 
pole a note from Mr. Steele, the gentleman I had sent 
from the Copper Mines to apprise the Mexican Com- 
missioner of the cause of my delay. Mr. Steele stated 
that in consequence of the limited supply of water, 
which could only be obtained by digging in the arroyo, 
General Conde feared there would not be sufficient for 
us all, and accordingly had removed his camp to El 
Sauce, about twenty miles to the south. Thither he 


wished me to follow him, believing there would be 
found an abundance of water and grass at that place. 
We pitched our tents here for the night. Latitude 
of the Sugar Loaf Mountain 32° 20' 21"— Longitude 
W. from Greenwich 109° 01'. 

September 31s£. As our animals were greatly 
fatigued by the two last days' march without water, 
and with but little feed, it was thought best to remain 
here to-day to recruit them. Our bedding, being 
quite wet, was spread out to dry. To employ our 
time to the best advantage, Lieutenant Whipple was 
occupied in making astronomical and magnetic obser- 
vations near the camp and on the summit of a high 
mountain about three miles to the north. This moun- 
tain was found to be 1750 feet above our camp and 
2050 above the plain ; the party was seven hours in 
ascending and returning. It presented a picturesque 
appearance, from the columnar and basalt-like position 
of the dark and light strata of which it is composed. 
I employed myself in examining the hills near, and in 
making a few sketches. There were but few trees 
here, and these mostly live oak standing in the valleys. 
The hills were quite bare. While engaged in sketch- 
ing, halfway up the mountain, I was overtaken by a 
shower, from which I took shelter in a large natural 
opening in the side of a rock on the summit of one of 
the mountain spurs. The rocks here presented many 
fantastic forms. Among the crevices grew the fou- 
quiera, with an occasional cedar, while the Spanish 
bayonet and yucca sprang up on all sides. In the 
distance, on the right, rose the Sugar Loaf Hill, near 
the base of which was our camp. 



We found water by digging in the arroyo near our 
camp, though the supply was but limited. In my 
rambles among the hills I discovered several springs 
of running water ; with a little labor therefore I have 
no doubt an abundance might be procured. In order 
to apprise General Conde that I was near, and should 
join him next day, Dr. Webb, with Messrs. Cremony 
and Thurber, rode forward to his camp. 

Rocky Cavern, near Sugar Loaf Mountain. 

September 2d. Mr. Steele and a Mexican soldier 
arrived this morning from General Conde's camp, 



bringing ine word that the General had again removed 
about twenty -five miles farther to the west, in order 
that he might be nearer the settlements ; as he was 
getting short of provisions, and should be compelled 
to go himself or send there very soon for a supply. 
We left camp at 9 o'clock; Lieut. Whipple, with the 
wagons, retraced his steps about two miles, when he 
found an easy passage through the mountains. Mr. 
Gray and myself took the pack-mules, and, with the 
assistance of the Mexican guide, followed a shorter 
cut directly through the defile, where it was impossi- 
ble for wagons to pass. Our route was tortuous and 

Chiricahui Mountains. 

hilly, hemmed in on all sides by lofty mountains. 
Two or three miles brought us to the opposite side of 

vol. i. — 24 



the mountains, when a broad open plain appeared 
before us about twenty-five miles across, bounded by 
a lofty and continuons range known as the Sierra 
Chiricahui. Its course, like that of all the other long 
ranges we had seen, was from the northwest to the 
southeast, with an irregular and jagged summit, often 
exhibiting picturesque and fantastic forms. The plain 
that lay between us and the mountains was unbroken 
by a hill or a tree. At the northwest the view was 
limited by a very high mountain apparently seventy 
or eighty miles distant, which I supposed to be near 
the Gila. Both east and west of this mountain the 
country was open. In a southerly direction mountains 

La Punta do Sauz Cienega. 

were visible at a great distance. We entered the val- 
ley by a gradual descent. About one third the distance 


across the plain, we struck a dry ravine. Following 
this some eight or ten miles, we reached El Sauce, or 
the Willow Marsh ; which seemed to be the basin 
where the waters collected from the adjoining moun- 
tains and slopes. Here was a great abundance of 
water, which, from the rushes that grew on its margin, 
I suppose to be permanent. Grass was also plenty 
here. Lieut. Whipple by observation found the lati- 
tude to be 32° 05' 09", longitude 109° 02' 06'. 

September 3d. There was much alarm in camp 
this morning in consequence of the absence of John 
O'Donoghue, one of the computers, who left the track 
yesterday, and did not rejoin us. It had rained heavily 
during the night, with thunder and lightning, giving 
us a pretty thorough drenching, as our tents were in 
a low and unprotected spot. Sent three men and the 
Mexican soldier back to our last camp in search of 
O'Donoghue. The road was now very heavy ; and 
so deep did the wheels sink into the earth, that it was 
with the greatest difficulty the wagons could be got 
along. Many times they became so deeply imbedded 
as to require the aid of several men to relieve them. 
The pack-mules also had to struggle hard to make 
their way over the miry soil. Our perplexities were 
increased by the many small ravines now partially 
filled with water from the late rains, where the wheels 
sunk almost to their hubs, rendering it necessary to 
double the teams in order to extricate them. After 
journeying in this manner for six hours, and making 
but twelve miles, we were obliged to stop and en- 
camp without water. We had expected to reach the 
mountains, now but a few miles off, and did not take 


the precaution to fill our water kegs. Fortunately we 
extracted enough from our canteens to make our cof- 
fee. One of the wagons got so completely bogged 
that it could not be extricated ; so that I was obliged 
to send back some pack-mules to take the load, and 
let the wagon come in empty. Short as this day's 
journey had been, it was a very severe one on the mules. 
Latitude of this camp 32° 08' 33", longitude 109° 11' 
32" ; course north-west. 

September 4dh. This morning the party sent in 
search of O'Donogkue retured. They had discovered 
his track, and traced him to the camp which General 
Conde had just left, where they found a note announc- 
ing his safe arrival there, and that he had kept on 
with the General and his party. 

Continued our journey along the base of the 
mountains ; the road still heavy, with frequent arroyos. 
These, when the banks are steep, are difficult to pass ; 
and in crossing one of them a tongue of one of Colonel 
Graham's wagons was broken. The day was quite 
hot, and the poor mules seemed to suffer much from 
thirst. As we drew near to the mountains we disco- 
vered water gushing from their side. We therefore 
halted ; and as the spring was at some distance above 
the valley, we had to take the mules from the wagons 
and with much labor lead them up to drink. This 
was so difficult that a portion of the party kept on, 
hoping soon to find a place where the precious beverage 
was more accessible. I observed one of the gentlemen 
clamber up the rocks and fill his leather cup with 
water, which he brought several times down the steep 
hill to give to his suffering horse. At one o'clock, we 


turned short to the left, and entered a narrow defile 
with perpendicular sides, and soon after found our- 
selves in a beautiful amphitheatre among the moun- 
tains. Here we found the spot where the Mexican 
Commission had been encamped, and a note from Mr. 
Thurber, stating that in consequence of the limited 
supply of water they had still gone forward. I was 
greatly disappointed at this news, as there was every 
indication of the proximity of water in the many sur- 
rounding gorges and ravines. All were set about 
searching for it at once ; and after some time thus 
spent, one of the men happily struck a trail, which he 
followed half a mile up a ravine, and there discovered 
a spring and fine pool of crystal water. No time was 
lost in driving up the mules, horses, cattle, and sheep, 
and we gladly pitched our tents near a beautiful grove 
of oaks. I regretted much that General Conde had 
not discovered this fine spring, the vicinity of which 
afforded the most eligible camping ground we had yet 
met with. Lieutenant Whipple observed here, and 
found the latitude to be 32° 08' 43", longitude 109° 
24' 33". 

September 5th. After a few hours' detention to 
repair Colonel Graham's wagon, we moved forward, 
and found the mountains more difficult to pass than 
any we had encountered before, consisting as they did 
of continuous hills, which required much care on the 
part of the teamsters; yet, with locking the wheels 
two or three times, and a little assistance by hand, we 
soon got through. The length of the pass, with all the 
sinuosities of our route, did not exceed three miles. 

On emerging from the opposite side a broad plain 


again opened to our view as before, with a range of 
mountains bordering its western side, about thirty-five 
miles distant, and running parallel with those we had 
just left. 

This plain appeared, as it subsequently proved to 
be, destitute of shrubbery or trees, and covered with 
grass. It was without a hill, and extended in both 
directions from sixty to eighty miles. A dry lake 
appeared about midway in the plain ; and a closer 
examination made by some of the party showed that 
there was water in some portions about two inches 
deep, but so brackish and muddy that even the cattle 
would not drink it. From our present elevation above 
the lower plain, we had a most extended prospect. At 
the south-west we saw a long line of trees marking a 
water course or arroyo, which we at first believed to be 
the San Pedro, though we afterwards found it was not 
the case. The plain being hard and smooth, with a 
slight descent, we pushed rapidly forward, and late in 
the afternoon perceived with our glasses the camp of 
General Conde, yet a great distance from us. Those 
who were mounted hurried on in advance of the 
wagons, and at six o'clock reached the camp, having 
been in the saddle eleven hours, without taking food, 
and exposed to a broiling sun. The wagons could not 
get in, but stopped about five miles back, when they 
were overtaken by the darkness of the night. The 
mules too were greatly fatigued. 

The water here, which was taken from pools a mile 
from the camp, was found to be very bad. Not a 
shrub was to be' seen; the grass was poor; rounded 
heaps of white sand, or patches of bare clay, appeared 


in all directions. On the whole, we had not before 
been encamped in so miserable a place. The General 
had been led here by the report of the existence of a 
large lake, which turned out to be the dry bed I have 
mentioned. Finding it impossible to stop there, his 
men in searching further discovered the pools near 
which we were now encamped. 

General Conde gave us all a warm reception, and 
invited the officers to his tent, where refreshments 
were served to us. Mr. Salazar, the Chief Astronomer 
of the Mexican Commission, arrived here to-day, 
having finished running the line of the southern boun- 
dary of New Mexico through its entire length of three 
degrees, as agreed upon by the Joint Commission. 

September 6th. We were all glad to have a day 
of rest after our fatiguing journey, even in so desolate 
a spot. The weather was quite warm, and we felt the 
heat more than when moving. Our cooks had the 
greatest cause for complaints; as no fuel could be 
found but dried grass and stalks of the yucca. These 
would answer for nothing but to boil a pot ; to bake 
bread was impossible. 

General Conde had with him the whole Mexican 
Commission, consisting of seventy men, besides his 
officers. This included his military escort, who per- 
formed the duty of laborers, and assisted the engineers 
in the field. He informed us that he had been 
attacked by the Apaches when encamped at the 
Sugar Loaf Mountain. They approached, unperceiv- 
ed, within a quarter of a mile of his tent, and drove 
off his saddle-horses. Another party on the opposite 
side made a dash at his mule herd, which they 


attempted to stampede ; but the herders were so fortu- 
nate as to get the start of them, and succeeded in 
driving the animals safely into camp. On hearing of 
our loss at the Copper Mines the General had increased 
the guard over the mules, but for which he would have 
lost the whole. 

A meeting of the Joint Commission was held 
to-day, at which all the members were present. On 
this occasion Mr. Gray first made known his dissent 
from the agreement entered into relative to the south- 
ern boundary of New Mexico, stating, moreover, that 
" his reasons, and his interpretation based upon them, 
had been referred to the Government, in pursuance of 
the 21st article of the treaty." General Conde re- 
marked, that "this course did not agree with the 
stipulations of the 5th article of the treaty ; and that 
the Initial Point had been determined, and the deci- 
sion could not be reversed." 

September 7t7i. The Joint Commission met again 
in my tent ; but in consequence of Mr. Gray's illness, 
adjourned to his, where he and Mr. Salazar presented 
a plan for continuing the survey. This was adopted, 
and it was determined to enter upon the duty at once. 
Mr. Gray and Lieutenant Whipple, with their parties, 
were to run the Gila portion of the work on the part 
of the United States ; while the Chief Astronomer was 
to have the entire charge of the Rio Grande survey on 
the part of the same. Mr. Salazar was to operate with 
the latter, and General Conde and his officers with the 

The Mexican Commissioner announced his inten- 
tion to proceed at once to Santa Cruz, the nearest set- 


tlenient in Sonora, for the purpose of obtaining a supply 
of provisions before he could go on with the work. As 
the American Commission was in a similar destitute 
predicament, and there was nothing here but brackish 
water, no wood, and very poor grass, it was determined 
to proceed without delay to the San Pedro River, one 
day's journey distant, and there await the arrival of 
the provisions which were to follow us from the Copper 
Mines ; or, if supplies could sooner be got from Santa 
Cruz, to obtain them and then go to the Gila. The lati- 
tude of this place is 32° 02' 38", longitude 109° 48' 54". 
September 8th. The backs of two of the pack-mules 
so much galled that they were abandoned here ; and 
General Conde kindly loaned me two of his, to carry 
their packs. At 8 o'clock a. m. we again set off in a 
westerly direction, ascending very gradually to a gap 
in the mountain range, about fourteen miles distant, 
through which we hoped to find an easy passage. The 
opening did not disappoint us, as it was very level ; 
but it was an arroyo deeply cut by mountain torrents 
rather than a defile, and consequently presented a con- 
tinuous bed of sand and gravel for nearly twelve miles. 
Its precipitous banks excluded the air, so that the jour- 
ney was a most disagreeable one. On emerging from 
the arroyo, we entered a plain, thickly overgrown with 
large mezquit bushes, but destitute of grass. We 
looked in vain for a line of trees, or of luxuriant vege- 
tation to mark the course of the San Pedro, and began 
to fear that we might have still another mountain ridge 
and another plain to cross before reaching it, when all 
of a sudden we found ourselves upon its banks. The 
stream which resembled the Pecos in appearance,. 


though much smaller, was here about twenty feet 
across, about two feet deep, and quite rapid. The 
water, though muddy, was pleasant to the taste. We 
were all exceedingly fatigued with this day's march, 
having been eleven and a half hours in the saddle and 
travelled upwards of thirty miles. The latitude of this 
place by observation was 31° 54' 31"; longitude, west 
from Greenwich 110° 11' 41". 




The valley of the San Pedro - Decide on going to Santa Cruz for provisions 
and mules — Departure of General Conde — Leave the San Pedro — Take 
the trail of the Mexicans — Deserted Indian village — Leave the trail — 
"Wild horses — Santa Rita Mountain — Beautiful valley — Progress ar- 
rested — Critical situation — Mr. Thurber goes in search of Santa Cruz — 
Arrival of Colonel Graham — Ruined hacienda of Calabasa — "Wild 
scenery — On short allowance — Return of Mr. Thurber — Retrace our 
steps towards the San Pedro — Mustangs— Camp on the Babocomori — 
Arrival of Mexican soldiers — General Conde loses his way — Sufferings 
of his party — Mexicans hunting cattle on the San Pedro — The father 
and friends of Inez Gonzales arrive — Set out again for Santa Cruz — 
Meeting of the captive girl and her mother — Arrival at Santa Cruz. 

September 9th. The valley of the San Pedro River 
near our camp was any thing but luxuriant. It con- 
sists of a loam, which if irrigated might be productive ; 
but as the banks are not less than eight or ten feet 
high, irrigation is impracticable, except by digging a 
canal a very long distance. The grass of the vicinity 
is miserably thin and poor, growing merely in tufts 
beneath the mezquit bushes which constitute the only 
shrubbery, and in some instances attain a height of ten 
or twelve feet. Low hills approached within a mile of 
the river on the east side, and on the west within a 
quarter of a mile of that distance. Finding it impossi- 


ble to graze our animals here, I sent men up and down 
the stream in search of better grass, which tney suc- 
ceeded in discovering about three miles further south, 
with springs of water near. I therefore directed the 
camp to be removed there the next day. 

General Conde called, and said he was about to leave 
with five men for Santa Cruz. In consequence of his 
offers of service, I requested him to engage for me some 
flour and beans, both of which I had been informed could 
be procured there ; also to get me twelve mules, as I 
had just learned that four more of ours had proved unfit 
for use. General Conde said he had an officer with him 
who had resided in Santa Cruz some years before, and 
was well acquainted with the country ; that we were 
not more than twenty -five miles off; and that he should 
reach there before night. I told him that I would fol- 
low him in the afternoon. 

Having now decided to proceed myself to Santa 
Cruz for provisions and mules for the surveying par- 
ties, I directed the camp to be removed to the springs, 
three miles above, and there await my return, which at 
the farthest I believed would be in a week. This 
journey, too, would enable me to deliver to her parents 
the captive girl, who was yet with us. I took leave 
of Lieutenant Whipple, Mr. Gray, and Colonel Graham, 
when the latter informed me that he should strike 
Cooke's California road, which we believed came within 
a short distance from our camp, and return to the Cop- 
per Mines that way. At his request I furnished him 
with some sheep for his journey. 

That no time might be lost, I directed the mules 
to be hitched up at once, intending to take one wagon 


for the flour, and a few pack-mules to carry our tents, 
cooking utensils, and baggage. I hoped to overtake 
General Conde, but a shower came up, which made it 
necessary to delay our departure for a few hours. In 
order to cross the river, it was necessary to level the 
banks on both sides, and let the wagon down by hand. 
Our baggage, tents, &c, were all carried over on mules, 
so that it was live o'clock in the afternoon before we 
got off. Soon after, it commenced raining, rendering 
it very difficult for the wagon to get along. Our route 
lay along the valley due south, through a thick mezquit 
chapporal. There was no road ; but the trail of Gene- 
ral Conde's train was a sufficient guide. We had now 
a gloomy prospect before us ; the rain was pouring 
down in torrents, the travelling was becoming more 
and more heavy, and the whole surface of the valley 
was completely deluged with water. Towards even- 
ing, finding a little gravelly knoll just large enough to 
pitch a couple of tents upon, we encamped. Ditches 
were now dug to lead off the water, and earth was re- 
moved to within the tents so as to make them tolerably 
dry. During the night it rained very hard. 

September 10th. Mr. Salazar arrived in camp during 
the night, and remained with us. He was on his way 
to Santa Cruz. Resumed our journey at 8 o'clock. 
My party now consisted of Dr. Webb, Messrs. George 
Thurber, J. C. Cremony, Henry C. Pratt, John J. Pratt, 
Inez Gonzales, the captive girl, and myself. We had 
also one servant, one cook, one laborer, one teamster, 
and three Mexican arrieros, making altogether four- 
teen persons. Our course continued due south through 
thick mezquit chapporal, following the trail of General 


Conde's party. After marching about eighteen miles 
the trail turned abruptly to the west, along the base of 
some high detached hills ; these we followed about 
five miles, when we encamped near a water hole. 
.There was here a collection of twenty or thirty wig- 
wams, made of poles, bent over in a circular form and 
well thatched with straw, the whole so completely done 
that they must have been a permanent abode for their 

Indian Wigwam. 

occupants. From all appearances the place had been 
deserted a year or more. In the midst of these wig- 
wams was a circular pit lined with stones, where the 
distilling of mezcal had been carried on, on a large 
scale. Inez said she had never seen such wigwams 
among the Apaches, and that it must have been a vil- 
lage of the Papagos Indians. There were many frag- 
ments of pottery scattered about. * Dr. Webb rode 
ahead with Mr. Salazar this morning, and did not re- 
join us. He, doubtless reached General Conde's 

* I afterwards learned that this was a place where Papagos Indians 
resorted annually to collect the Maguay, and distil the liquor ; and 
that about a year before our visit, they were surprised by the Apaches 
and some fifty men, women and children, killed or taken prisoners. 


September 11th. We followed the wagon trail for 
several miles, till at length it turned off in a north- 
westerly course. At this I became uneasy, knowing 
that Santa Cruz, whither we were bound, lay to the 
south. Not knowing but General Conde might have 
gone that way to avoid some deep ravine, although I 
could see none, I came to a halt, and sent Mr. Cremo- 
ny ahead for a mile or two to see whither the trail 
we were following led. He reported that it kept the 
same north-westerly-course, and seemed to be follow- 
ing a well-marked Indian trail. I now became satisfied 
that General Conde's party had mistaken their route, 
and that by following it, they must reach Tucson, a 
military post towards the Gila. I had now come, since 
I changed my course yesterday, about eight miles out of 
the way. I determined therefore to leave the trail and 
go south over an open plain, towards a high mountain ; 
and this direction we pursued until four o'clock, when 
we encamped near a little pool of water. The whole 
face of the country had changed to-day, in fact since 
we had left the valley of the San Pedro. From that 
river we had ascended to a plateau of an undulating 
character, similar to the western prairies. It was 
covered with short grass ; and in the depressions, 
some of which were fifty or a hundred feet lower than 
the plain, we found pools of water, more luxuriant 
grass, and groves of small oaks. 

We saw for the first time to-day a herd of mus- 
tangs, or wild horses. They at first caused us much 
alarm, as we took them for a party of Indians ; but a 
,close examination with a spy-glass disclosed what they 
were. When within half a mile of them they dis- 


covered us, and soon disappeared from view. Many 
deer and antelope were also seen. 

On our right, about ten or twelve miles distant, a 
lofty range of mountains, one of which, towering far 
above the others, terminated in a peak. We after- 
wards learned that this was called the Santa Rita 
Mountain. It was altogether the most magnificent 
that we had seen. Spurs extend from it five or six 
miles towards the plateau, and its sides are deeply 
furrowed with gorges and ravines. At sunset, when a 
deep shadow was thrown over it, its appearance was 
truly grand. We all went up on the plateau to enjoy 
the scene, and Mr. Pratt devoted the daylight that 
remained to taking a sketch of it. 

September 12th. On setting out we ascended the 
plateau again from our encampment, but dropped 
down soon after into a valley which extended several 
miles towards the south, its banks studded with oaks. 
The grass continued rich and abundant, with frequent 
pools of water from the washings of the adjacent hills. 
Six miles brought us to a hill some five or six hundred 
feet high, which lay directly across our path. In 
every direction, except around the western base of the 
hill on which we stood, arose higher hills and lofty 
mountains intersecting each other, and presenting an 
impassable barrier to our progress. After three hours' 
detention spent in search of a passage, we retraced 
our steps for a short distance, and by surmounting 
several low, though very steep hills, crossing many 
ravines, over which it was necessary for every man to 
put his shoulder to the wagon, and wading through a 
swamp, where the rank grass reached above our heads, 


we succeeded in rounding the hill before referred to 
on its western side, and in dropping into the valley 
beyond. Here we found a small stream of clear and 
sweet water running through the valley. Pursuing 
still a course nearly south for about ten miles, we 
approached the base of the high and isolated moun- 
tain, when the stream and valley turned suddenly to 
the west. Continuing along it for a mile, we encamp- 
ed near a grove of large cotton-woods, in the midst of 
tall grass, within a little nook protected on three sides 
by steep hills. Here we were admirably concealed 
from an enemy, except in front, where lay the valley 
and stream. The latter, increased by rains from 
the adjoining mountains, had now become a rapid 
stream, and was closely hemmed in by willows, which 
rendered it difficult of approach. The valley for the 
last ten miles of our march resembled an old and 
highly cultivated place, from which the people and 
their habitations had suddenly disappeared. Large 
cotton-wood trees and willow bushes lined the stream, 
while here and there in little groves were beautiful 
oaks and large mezquit trees ; for the latter, although 
adapted to every soil, becomes a large tree in a rich 
soil like this. It seemed that each grove, as we ap- 
proached it, must conceal some dwelling place and 
cultivated grounds ; but in reality all was solitude, 
and there was no evidence that a furrow had ever 
turned the virgin soil, or a seed had even been sown 

September 13th Believing that by following the 
stream we should strike a road or path: that would 
guide us to our place of destination, we continued our 

vol. i. — 25 


course along the base of the low hills which bound the 
valley, but were very soon arrested in our progress. The 
valley gradually became contracted as the two great 
mountain ranges approached each other, leaving only 
a defile, about a quarter of a mile in breadth, 
through which the water had burst a passage. This 
defile was filled with gigantic cotton-woods, with an 
undergrowth of rank grass, weeds, and jungle, rising 
above our heads even when on horseback. Among 
them grew a vine, binding all together ; so that it was 
impossible to force a passage through. Farther pro- 
gress here was therefore at an end. But perceiving 
on the elevated ground of the side of the valley, a 
cluster of deserted adobe buildings, I sent a party 
across to see if there was any egress in that direction ; 
while I went with Mr. Cremony and Mr. Pratt over 
the hills, and along the valley ahead. A few hundred 
yards before us a perpendicular wall of rock rose 
directly from the valley, or rather from the stream 
which ran at its base. The hills on all sides were 
steep, high, rocky, full of the most frightful chasms, and 
utterly impassable for a wagon. For the half mile that 
I went I had to lead my horse ; and I doubted whe- 
ther an animal under a heavy pack would be able to 
clamber the steep and rocky crags that lay in our way. 
The valley too, where I depended chiefly on finding a 
passage, had become an impenetrable swamp. From a 
high hill, which I ascended, it could be traced for a 
long distance by the bright green hue of its vegeta- 
tion ; but the rugged mountains hemmed it closely in, 
their summits, from the bird's-eye view I had of them, 
appearing like the huge waves of a tempestuous ocean, 
suddenly turned to stone. Frightful chasms where 


mighty convulsions had rent the mountain asunder, 
and deep ravines worn by the torrents of centuries, 
appeared on every side. Bare rocks projected here 
and there, gray and mossy with age, and appearing 
like ruined castles. But amid all this sterile grandeur 
there was a rich and varied vegetation. The graceful 
agave thrust up its tall and slender stem from among 
the rocks ; the yucca and Spanish bayonet monopo- 
lized as usual every spot where there was a few inches 
of earth or gravel ; while the fouquiera with its thorny 
stems was well represented. Cedar and stunted oaks 
jutted from many little depressions where there was 
sufficient soil to give them a foothold. 

Mr. Thurber, who went to examine the opposite 
side of the valley, reported that a passage for mules 
might be found in that direction by following an old 
Indian trail which passed the ruined hacienda; but 
for a wagon no egress could be discovered. No alter- 
native now remained but to retrace our steps with the 
wagon, or to transfer its contents to the banks of the 
mules and abandon it. I decided on the latter 
course. Being without pack-saddles, we took as sub- 
stitutes our tents and wagon cover, which were folded 
in a convenient form and laid over the mules 1 backs. 
Our blankets were converted to the same use ; and 
then five mules were prepared for their loads. The 
contents of the wagon were then put upon the mules 
and fastened as securely as possible. The next thiug 
to be done was to cut a passage through the jungle with 
axes, to enable us to cross the stream and valley. This 
- being accomplished, we moved off, leaving the wagon, 
harness, tables, camp-stools, and such other articles as 
we could dispense with without serious inconvenience. 


On reaching the stream, one of the men led the 
way, followed by one of the pack-mules. The crea- 
ture sank deep into the mud ; but with a good deal 
of struggling on its part, and urging on that of the 
arrieros, it got safely across, the pack turning as soon 
as the mule reached the bank. The next two fell in 
the middle of the stream, and became fast in its soft 
and muddy bottom, their packs falling over into the 
water. After unavailing efforts to get them along, 
and fearing they would drown themselves in their 
struggles, the packs were cut loose . and taken off ; 
and then, with several men in the water lifting, and 
others on the bank pulling, the mules were released 
from their miry beds and brought back to the firm soil. 
My own baggage and papers got drenched as well as 
most of the blankets and bedding of the party. Some 
of the horsemen in attempting to cross, also mired; 
and as we had six more pack-mules to get over, I 
abandoned my efforts ; not so much from the difficulty 
of passing the stream, as of keeping the packs on the 
mules without ropes. The straps and rigging of two 
mules had been ruined in our exertions to save the 
animals. We now returned to our abandoned wagon ; 
and finding it impossible to proceed, I determined to 
send a party by the trail discovered near the old haci- 
enda, to Santa Cruz, for a guide, and such aid as would 
enable us all to reach there. I believed that this place 
was now within ten or twelve miles of us, and that a 
party going south, must strike the emigrant road to 
California, which passes through it. 

Mr. George Thurber at once volunteered on this 
duty, in which he was joined by Mr. J. J. Pratt. A 


Mexican arriero accompanied them to take care of 
their animals, and render such aid as they might stand 
in need of. Within an hour after this had been deter- 
mined on the party were off; and as they believed 
they could reach Santa Cruz before night, they took 
with them merely a supply of bread for a couple of 
days. When they had left, we removed from the dense 
thicket around us, and retraced our steps about half a 
mile ; we then pitched our tents between two spurs of 
the mountain, where we could not be discovered, 
except from the front. The cotton-wood trees in the 
spot where our march was arrested were the largest 
we had ever seen. I measured the girth of one, about 
five feet above the ground, and found it twenty-eight 
feet. Its limbs spread full forty feet on every side, 
and a large party might have encamped beneath its 
ample shade. 

In the afternoon we were surprised by the 
appearance of a man on horseback coming at full 
speed towards our camp. He proved to be Guada- 
lupe, one of Colonel Graham's servants, who, greatly 
to my surprise, informed me that the Colonel was fol- 
lowing my trail on the way to Santa Cruz ; that he 
was very short of provisions ; and that he (Guadalupe) 
had hoped to reach there in advance and obtain some, 
in case I could not furnish them. 

September lith. We now found ourselves very 
short of provisions ; for, relying on the Mexican's 
assurances on the San Pedro that we were within 
twenty-five miles of Santa Cruz, I had provided myself 
with only five days' supply of flour, and three of meat, 
with other necessaries for a week. As soon as I dis- 


covered that we should not reach there as soon as 
anticipated I cut down the daily allowance of flour 
one half. Our meat being fresh, was soon exhausted ; 
so that by this time our supply of every thing was 
very scanty. Several of us set out in search of game ; 
but although deer were seen, we were not fortunate 
enough to kill any. I perceived the traces of turkeys 
among the cotton- wood, and watched for hours beneath 
them ; but they came not. Mr. Pratt rigged up a fish- 
ing line to try what he could find in the brook. His 
labors were attended with success; and our dinner 
table was served with a plentiful supply of trout, 
which, though small, were a welcome addition to our 
bill of fare. We also found near the camp an abun- 
dance of purslain (portulacca). This was collected and 
boiled, and formed our chief food. In the absence of 
vegetables, which we had not tasted for a long time, 
we all relished it very much. 

September \5th. Colonel Graham and his party 
joined us this morning. He came a few hours in 
advance, with Messrs. Wright and Clarke, in conse- 
quence of the sad tale brought back by Guadalupe, 
who told him we were " half starved and living on 
roots." The Colonel brought us his haversack filled 
with bread and meat, and a bottle of wine. He him- 
self was quite short of provisions, though much better 
off than we were ; and having killed a bear in his 
journey, he had had an abundant supply of fresh meat. 
This kind of meat, however, will not keep, and is not 
good after the second day, except in cold weather. 

I took my rifle and went out again in search of 
game, following a deep ravine far up towards the 


Santa Rita Mountain, and was so fortunate as to get a 
shot at a turkey, which I brought down. He proved 
to be a very large one, and a pretty good load to 
trudge over the hill and rocks with. This gave us all 
a fine dinner. Sent all hands out towards evening after 
game, but none was found. 

September IQth. On examining his provisions, Col. 
Graham found he had sufficient to give all half allow- 
ance of flour for six days, which was accordingly dis- 
tributed, and proved very acceptable. He also had a 
little salt pork, but no sugar, tea, or coffee. These 
things we had not tasted for many days. But with 
half an allowance of flour, and as much purslain as we 
could eat, we did not suffer much. Our fare to be 
sure was humble enough ; but I am sure we relished 
it infinitely more, and felt more thankful for it too, 
than those whose tables are loaded with every luxury, 
and still have to resort to artificial means to increase 
the appetite. My mess was now reduced to four, viz., 
Mr. Cremony, Mr. Pratt, the fair captive, Inez, and 

Colonel Graham set off this morning to reconnoitre 
the country a few miles to the south, while Mr. Pratt 
and myself crossed the stream, and ascended the moun- 
tain on the opposite side. We also examined the 
ruined hacienda, before spoken of, which seemed to 
have been abandoned many years before, as much of its 
adobe walls was washed away.* Our reports coin- 
cided as to the utter imposibility of forcing our way 

*We afterwards learned that this was a noted cattle hacienda, 
known as Calabasa, i. e., the pumpkin or gourd. Why so named, I 
know not, except from the quantity that grow wild in the valley near. 


through the mountains, except with pack-mules. Mr. 
Pratt made some sketches of the wild and picturesque 
scenery around us. No game was seen to-day. 

September 17th. Began to feel much anxiety for 
the return of Mr. Thurber and his party, as they took 
but a small supply of bread with them. I did not 
think it proper to move until they rejoined us ; for in 
case they had not succeeded in procuring aid, they 
would be in a sad strait for food. 

About ten o'clock they were discovered slowly 
wending their way among the hills, and were soon after 
among us. Their journey had been unsuccessful. 
They had traversed the country, as they estimated, 
some thirty miles west and north-west, till they struck 
a well-beaten wagon road ; and had visited many de- 
serted ranchos, and two depopulated towns, in both of 
which were churches. They had suffered much for 
want of food, having subsisted chiefly upon peaches, 
which they found in abundance in the orchards of the 
deserted towns, and upon the fruit of the prickly pear 
and yucca. In returning they followed the road some 
twenty miles in the opposite direction, but found not 
a living soul. 

No time was now to be lost. Our provisions, even 
on half allowance, were fast diminishing ; and the only 
alternative was to retrace our steps as fast as possible 
to our camp on the San Pedro. The wagon and pack- 
mules were at once got in readiness ; and by noon we 
bade adieu to our "lost camp." Made about fifteen 
miles, and encamped in a fine oak grove, with wood, 
grass, and water. 

September 18th. Got an earlv start ; and instead 


of following the roundabout way we had come, I deter- 
mined to make a short cut across the prairie, which 
seemed quite open to the base of a conical hill, thereby 
saving eight or ten miles. Found the country undu- 
lating and quite smooth ; and the grass, though green, 
was short, presenting no obstruction to the wagon. 
Small oaks appeared in every depression ; with a few 
on the plain. At noon we struck the sources of a small 
stream running eastward, bounded by a broad and beau- 
tiful valley, into which we descended. This proved to 
be the Rio Babocomori, a tributary of the San Pedro. 
We followed it until three o'clock, when we encamped 
near the ruins of a large hacienda, which stood imme- 
diately on its banks. 

I would have gone further, but Colonel Graham, 
with his party, instead of taking the shorter cut with 
us, had followed the trail which he took out, thus 
lengthening the distance considerably. As we were 
in a very good place, with water, wood, and grass, 
near at hand, I sent the arrieros across the hills, to 
intercept the Colonel when he came along, and direct 
him to our camp. At six o'clock he arrived. 

When passing the stream to-day, we were startled 
by a singular cry from the top of a cotton-wood tree, 
which overhung our path. It was found to proceed 
from a young panther ; when a well-directed shot by 
Mr. Cremony, brought the animal down. It proved to 
be not much larger than a cat, and of light brown, or 
tawny colour. Another incident, was the meeting 
with a herd of about a dozen wild horses. They gazed 
on us for some time, with heads and tails erect ; they 
finally got our wind, when they bounded gracefully 


over the prairie in a single file, led by a large bladk 
stud. Before we had our tents pitched, Mr. Pratt got 
out his fishing-tackle to see what the stream could 
furnish ; and his industry was rewarded with a good 
mess of fish, which helped to eke out our scanty din- 

September YQih. Deeming it advisable still to go 
to Santa Cruz, to deliver up our fair captive, as well as 
to procure some mules and provisions, in case those 
expected from the Copper Mines had not arrived, I 
sent two men off this morning before day -light with a 
note to Mr. Gray at the camp, on the San Pedro, which 
I judged to be from twenty to twenty-five miles dis- 
tant. Informed him of our situation, and requested that 
he would send us four sheep, and some sugar, coffee 
and biscuit, from my private stores, all of which they 
could bring upon their mules. 

Soon after breakfast two Mexican soldiers came in 
on the run, and presented me a letter. It was address- 
ed " To any person connected with the Mexican or the 
American Boundary Commission," and proved to be 
from General Conde. The General stated that, after 
eight days wandering among the mountains and on the 
plains, he had reached Santa Cruz ; and not having 
seen or heard of the Mexican or American Commission 
since he left the camp on the San Pedro, he had sent 
couriers to trace them out, inform them of his safe 
arrival, and guide them to Santa Cruz. He and his 
party, consisting of four of his officers, had left in ad- 
vance of the main body, and failing to reach their 
place of destination, had slept in the mountains. Ex- 
pecting to reach Santa Cruz before night, they had 


supplied themselves with but two days' provisions and 
one blanket ; and hence had suffered greatly for the 
want both of food and covering. The first day and 
night it had rained hard, as will be remembered. It 
seems that they crossed the Santa Rita mountains some- 
where, and reached the deserted ranchos and towns 
where Mr. Thurber had been. Taking the California 
road,* they followed it southwardly, and first fell in 
with a settled place at Imuriz, a town about seventy- 
five miles south of Santa Cruz. They had subsisted 
meanwhile on peaches, which they found in the deserted 
villages and ranchos, and upon the bean of the mezquit. 
These couriers had left Santa Cruz but the day 
before, and soon after they fell upon a trail which 
proved to be ours. They told us that we had been 
only some ten or twelve miles from that place ; and 
that had Mr. Thurber pushed his search to the left of 
the mountain, instead of following the stream to the 
right, he would in three or four miles have struck a 
valley and trail leading to his place of destination. I 
now began to feel anxious on account of Dr. Webb 
and Mr. Salazar, but hoped they had joined the main 
body of the Mexican party, which I still believed had 
gone to Tucson. 

* I have before stated that the California road goes through Santa 
Cruz. The direct road it appears passed the mountains three miles 
north of the town, thereby saving a detour of about ten miles. The 
emigrants however that traverse this road, generally visit the town ; but 
as few had gone this way the present season, the turn off to Santa Cruz, 
which is at San Lazaro, had become almost obliterated, and General 
Conde overlooked it, keeping along the main road, which continues to 
Imuriz, and Santa Madelena. 


I proposed to Colonel Graham, to send one of his 
men to the San Pedro camp, advising Lieutenant Whip- 
ple and Mr. Gray of the information we had received ; 
and in case any of the Mexican Commission had found 
its way back, to apprise them of General Conde's arri- 
val in Santa Cruz, and direct them to our camp, where 
they would find the couriers and guides. As the Colo- 
nel required a supply of fresh meat to carry him back 
to the Copper Mines, I sent, at the same time, for eight 
sheep for him and his party. Colonel Graham accord- 
ingly dispatched one of his soldiers to the San Pedro 

A few fish were taken to-day ; and fortunately we 
found near the old hacienda, a plentiful supply of purs- 
lain, so that with the little flour we had, we got along 
very well and without much complaint from the men. 
I felt quite ill myself from the exposure to the sun and 
insufficient food : and lay most of the day in the shade 
beneath the bushes which grew on the river's bank. 

The valley of the Babocomori, is here from a quar- 
ter to half a mile in breadth, and covered with a luxu- 
riant growth of grass. The stream, which is about 
twenty feet wide, and in some places two feet deep, 
winds through this valley, with willows, and large cot- 
ton-wood trees growing along its margin. Some of our 
men followed it about seven miles, to its junction with 
the San Pedro. This hacienda, as I afterwards learned, 
was one of the largest cattle establishments in the State 
of Sonora. The cattle roamed along the entire length 
of the valley ; and at the time it was abandoned, there 
were not less than forty thousand head of them, besides 
a large number of horses and mules. The same cause 


which led to the abandonment of so many other ram 
chos, haciendas, and villages, in the State, had been 
the ruin of this. The Apaches encroached upon them, 
drove off their animals and murdered the herdsmen ; 
when the owners, to save the rest, drove them further 
into the interior, and left the place. Many of the cattle, 
however, remained and spread themselves over the hills 
and valleys near ; from these, numerous herds have 
sprung, which now range along the entire length of 
the San Pedro, and its tributaries. 

September 20th. The soldier, whom Colonel Gra- 
ham had sent to the San Pedro camp yesterday after- 
noon, returned this morning, and reported that when 
he had got within a short distance of the camp, he dis- 
covered a party of thirty or forty Indians, and in order 
to avoid them, he had concealed himself in a ravine, 
where he had passed the night. From this place he 
had made his way back to our camp, without reaching 
Lieutenant Whipple. I questioned this man as to the 
certainty of the people whom he saw, being Indians. 
He said tliey were a mile off' but seeing feathers in 
their hair, the peculiarities of their dress, and their 
galloping with speed over the plain, he felt sure they 
were such. Colonel Graham manifested much uneasi- 
ness, and now proposed that we should all proceed to the 
camp on the San Pedro, return with Messrs. Whipple 
and Gray to the Copper Mines to refit, and take a new 
start ; or that all should go to Santa Cruz for the same 
purpose. I did not believe the people seen were In- 
dians ; and as the engineering parties were but two or 
three days' journey from the point where they would 
begin their survey, I could see no advantage in retrac- 


ing our steps to the Copper Mines. We had no time 
to lose ; and if our supplies were not sent us, I believed 
that we could get flour and such articles as were abso- 
lutely necessary at Santa Cruz, or some other place in 
Sonora, so as to enable us in a few days to proceed to 
the Gila. Mr. Cremony, who doubted the soldier's 
story, volunteered to go to the San Pedro camp with a 
single man, if I would permit him. On my accepting 
his services, he selected a trusty and courageous Mexi- 
can named Leonidas, and started at once on his errand. 
Mr. Cremony had scarcely left, when Antonio and 
Carroll, the two men I had sent off early yesterday 
morning for the sheep, returned. They had followed 
the San Pedro to the mouth of the Babocomori, think- 
ing we should move our camp that way; and had 
fallen in with a party of thirty or forty Mexicans, who 
had a camp and a corral near the San Pedro, and were 
engaged in hunting wild cattle. They told the Mexi- 
cans who we were, and of our desire to get to Santa 
Cruz ; for when they left us, the couriers had not 
arrived from General Conde. They also informed them 
that we had with us a captive girl named Inez Gon- 
zales, whom we were about restoring to her family. 
The Mexican party were all from Santa Cruz ; and, 
singularly enough, the father, uncle, and many of the 
friends of Inez, were among them ; in fact, there was 
scarcely one of the number to whom she was not known. 
This was the first intimation that they had received 
that the poor girl was living, and had been rescued 
from her savage captors. They required no urging, 
but to a man left their hunting ground, and accom- 
panied Carroll to our camp. 


The joy of the father and friends in again behold- 
ing the face of her whom they supposed was forever 
lost from them, was unbounded. Each in turn (rough 
and half naked as many of them were), embraced her 
after the Spanish custom ; and it was long ere one 
could utter a word. Tears of joy burst from all ; and 
the sun-burnt and brawny men, in whom the finer feel- 
ings of our nature are wrongly supposed not to exist, 
wept like children, as they looked with astonishment 
on the rescued girl. She was not less overcome than 
they ; and it was long before she could utter the name 
of her mother, and ask if she and her little brothers 
yet lived. The members of the Commission who wit- 
nessed this affectionate and joyful scene, could not but 
participate in the feelings of the poor child and her 
friends ; and the big tears as they rolled down their 
weather-beaten and bearded faces, showed how fully 
they sympathized with the feelings of our Mexican 

The captain or leader of the party was Don Ilarion 
Garcia, a gentleman of intelligence, from whom we 
obtained much interesting information about the coun- 
try. He was a merchant and government contractor ; 
had been in California ; and was well acquainted with 
Colonel Fremont, and the pioneers of that State. He 
told us of mines in Sonora that produced ores of gold, 
silver, cinnabar, and copper, in several of which he pos- 
sessed an interest. 

After leaving our Mexican friends awhile to them- 
selves, I returned to my tent, to learn the news. They 
all assured me that the restoration of a young female 
to her family, after being carried off by the Indians, 


was an event unknown to them. Boys occasionally 
escape from their captors, and find their way again to 
their homes ; but young women are generally forced 
to marry, and when they become mothers, they have 
no desire to return. It was gratifying to the fair cap- 
tive to learn that her mother, brothers and sisters, were 
well ; though her mother still pined for the loss of her 
daughter, under such painful circumstances. 

Two of the party dined with me on the scanty fare 
I could offer them ; after which they all returned to 
their camp, except the father and uncle of Inez, who 
remained to accompany us to Santa Cruz. Finding 
that we were short of provisions, they sent us a fine 
quarter of beef. 

Mr. Cremony returned at nine o'clock in the even- 
ing, and reported that all were well at Lieut. Whip- 
ple's camp. Mr. Gray, with two or three others, had 
left several days before for Santa Cruz. We felt con- 
siderable anxiety on their account ; for as they had not 
reached there when the couriers left, it was pretty cer- 
tain, that, like the rest of us, they had missed their way. 

September 21st It rained all day, making it impos- 
sible to move. More of the hunting party on the San 
Pedro, visited our camp, to see the captive girl. The 
men who were unprovided with tents, and the cook, 
took up their quarters in the old hacienda, where they 
were sheltered from the rain. 

September 22d. Set off once more for Santa Cruz, 
recrossing the stream, and passing around the north- 
western extremity of the Sierra. Our course was then 
due south to a range of hills, through the valleys of 
which we pursued our way among scattering live oaks, 


which greatly impeded travel. There was a well- 
marked trail here, but no wagon road. We were often 
brought to a stand by the overhanging limbs of the 
trees, which it was necessary to cut away ; and in 
spite of all our precautions, the wagon bows were 
broken. Met a party in a thicket engaged in drying 
beef, who invited us to help ourselves to as much meat 
as we wanted from a bull they had just killed ; a per- 
mission of which we thankfully availed ourselves. At 
5 o'clock, encamped among the hills in a thick wood r 
near a small rivulet. 

September 23d Resumed our march at 8 o'clock,, 
our course still south, through a wood quite difficult 
for the wagons. A few miles brought us to thepuerta, 
or gate in the mountain ; passing which, we emerged 
into a very broad and open plain of remarkable beauty. 
From the elevation where we first saw this valley, the 
prospect was exceedingly picturesque. Around us grew 
the maguay, the yucca, and various kinds of cacti, toge- 
ther with small oaks ; while beneath us, the valley spread 
out from six to eight miles in width, and some twelve 
or fifteen in length. Unlike the desolate and barren 
plains between the mountain ridges, which we had 
crossed between the Rio Grande and the San Pedro, 
this valley was covered with the most luxuriant herb- 
age, and thickly studded with live oaks ; not like a 
forest, but rather resembling a cultivated park. While 
the train was passing down the mountain, I stopped 
with Mr. Pratt to enjoy the scene, which he hastily 
transferred to his sketch-book. Opposite from where 
. we stood, and not more than five miles distant, were 
the mountain and gorge, where we had been encamped 
vol. i. — 26 


for five days, endeavoring to find a passage through. 
At the further end of the valley into which we were 
descending, lay Santa Cruz. I now saw that if I had 
continued my course due south, as I first intended on 
leaving the San Pedro camp, I should have struck this 
valley the second day ; but by following the trail of 
the Mexican Commission, I was led about eight miles 
too far west. This brought us on the opposite side of 
the Sierra, and led us into the gorge from which there 
was no egress. In passing down the valley, we met 
Mr. Salazar and Mr. Henry C. Force, with a small 
party from Santa Cruz bound for the camp on the San 
Pedro, and the Gila. They informed us of the safe 
.arrival at Santa Cruz of the Mexican Commission, Dr. 
Webb and Mr. Gray. 

Before setting out this morning, two men started 
in advance to advise the mother of Inez of our ap- 
proach, and when within two miles of the town, we 
saw a small party approaching, partly on mules and 
partly on foot, among whom were the fair captive's 
■mother, brothers, and uncle. As we drew nearer, Mr. 
Cremony helped Inez from the saddle, when in perfect 
ecstacy she rushed to her mother's arms. Words can- 
not express the joy manifested on this happy occasion. 
Their screams were painful to hear. The mother 
could scarcely believe what she saw ; and after every 
embrace and gush of tears, she withdrew her arms to 
gaze on the face of her child. I have witnessed many 
scenes on the stage, of the meeting of friends after a 
long separation, and have read highly-wrought narra- 
tives of similar interviews, but none of them approached 



in pathos the spontaneous burst of feeling exhibited 
by the mother and daughter on this occasion. Thanks 
to the Almighty rose above all other sounds, while 
they remained clasped in each other's arms, for the 
deliverance from captivity, and the restoration of the 
beloved daughter to her home and friends. Although 
a joyful scene, it was a painfully affecting one to the 
spectators, not one of whom, could restrain his tears. 
After several minutes of silence, the fond parent em- 
braced me, and the other gentlemen of the party, in 
succession, as we were pointed out by her daughter ; 
a ceremony which was followed by her uncle, and the 
others, who had by this time joined us. We then re- 
mounted our animals and proceeded towards the town 
in silence ; and it was long before either party could 
compose themselves sufficiently to speak. 

As we journeyed on, we met other-villagers coming 
out to meet us, and among them two little boys from 
eight to twelve years of age. They were the brothers 
of Inez ; and when they saw their sister, they sprung 
upon the saddle with her, clasping their little arms 
around her, and like their mother, bursting into tears. 
Eeleasing their embrace, Inez pointed to us, when the 
little fellows ran up to our horses and eagerly grasped 
our hands, trotting along by our sides, while the tears 
rolled down their cheeks. A little further, we were 
met by another lad about twelve years of age. He too, 
embraced the returning captive, and like the others, 
burst into tears. But those tears were excited by feel- 
ings very different from those awakened in the other 
boys, the brothers of Inez. They were tears of des- 


pair — of long cherished hope checked in the bud ; — 
of disappointment — of pain — of misery ! This poor 
boy was the child of the woman who was made a cap- 
tive by the Apaches, at the same time with Inez. She 
and Inez had left their homes together, one year ago 
this very day, for the fair of Madelena, where their party 
was when attacked by the Apaches, and all but three 
killed or taken prisoners. Of the three who were made 
captives, no news had ever been heard ; and the poor 
girl now returning, was the first intelligence that either 
was in existence. The little orphan wrung his hands 
with despair as he raised his eyes first to the compan- 
ion of his mother, and then to us, thinking perhaps that 
we might have regained his parent, as well as her. I 
was much affected when Inez told me who this lad was, 
and resolved that I would make an effort for her resto- 
ration too, as soon as I could communicate the particu- 
lars to the government, as she is the person who was 
bought by the New-Mexican traders, and taken to 
Santa Fe, a short time before the purchase of Inez. 

As we drew near the town, numbers of the inhabi- 
tants came out to meet us, and welcome back the re- 
stored captive. When about half a mile distant, Inez 
wished to dismount and walk thence to the church, 
that she might first offer up her prayers for her deliv- 
erance from captivity, before going to her home. Ac- 
cordingly we all dismounted and accompanied her to 
the door of the church ; and there she was met by 
many more of her friends, when they all passed for- 
ward and knelt down before the altar. We left them 
engaged in prayer, and waited outside the church until 
their devotions were concluded. They then passed 


out, and escorted Inez, her parents, brothers and sister, 
to their home.* 

We pitched our tents just beyond the walls of the 
town, preferring them to the adobe houses which Gen- 
eral Conde had kindly placed at my disposition. 

* I have spoken of the father of Inez Gonzales. He was in fact, her 
step-father, and named Jesus Ortis. He seemed ardently attached to 
her, and told me he loved her as his own. 




Account of the missing parties — Description of Santa Cruz, and its popu- 
lation — Departure of Colonel Graham — Set out for La Magdalena — In- 
crease of party — San Lazero — Cocospera — Its beautiful Valley — The 
canon where Inez Gonzales was taken — First sight of the Cereus Gigan- 
teus — Babasaqui — Wild cattle — Iinuris — Terrenati — San Ignacio — Its 
church — Abundance of Pomegranates — Passports demanded — Proceed 
to Magdalena— Summoned before the Alcalde — Legend of the origin of 
the town — Festival of San Francisco — Religious Devotees — Offerings 
to the Saint — Consecration of ribbons — Booths — Gambling — Perpetual 
fandango — Vegetable productions near the town — Fine scenery— 'Grand 
torchlight procession — Close of the Festivities — Description of La 

September 24th. General Conde informed me that he 
had engaged for me fifteen hundred pounds of flour, 
but that no other provisions could be obtained, so 
great was the dearth caused by the frequent incursions 
of the Apaches. I called on Captain Barragan, the 
Commanding officer, to procure a portion of this flour 
at once, to send to Lieut. Whipple and the party on 
the San Pedro. There was a small grist-mill here 
under the charge of the Commandante ; but there was 
no stock of flour on hand, and he was then grinding 
some for the Mexican Commission. Consequently he 
could only spare me a small quantity for the parties in 


Santa Cruz, but promised that he would let me have 
some the following day. 

Some account of the several missing parties may 
not be improper in this place. The Mexican Com- 
mission, on whose trail I depended, and which led me 
out of my proper course, followed an Indian trail the 
second day after leaving the San Pedro, which led them 
to the town of Tucson, a military post ninety miles 
from the Gila and about one hundred from Santa Cruz. 
They met with great difficulties in crossing the Santa 
Rita mountains, and were compelled to abandon their 
wagon. From there they took the road to Santa Cruz, 
which they reached in five days. Doctor Webb and 
Mr. Salazar, who proceeded in advance the day after 
we left the San Pedro, overtook the main body of the 
Mexican Commission, as we had supposed, and con- 
tinued with it. Mr. Gray, in his attempt to reach 
Santa Cruz, followed the same trail, and also brought 
up at Tucson, from which he took a new start and 
arrived at the former place. 

Santa Cruz is one of the nine presidios or military 
posts on the frontier of the State of Sonora, the others 
being Tucson, Fronteras, Babispe, Bacuachi, Tubac, 
Altar, San Carlos, and Hermosillo. It was formerly a 
place of considerable importance, with about fifteen 
hundred inhabitants ; but at present its population 
does not exceed three hundred. It possesses a fine 
valley and bottom land of the richest soil, and is irri- 
gated by a small stream bearing its own name, which 
has its rise in springs about ten miles to the north, in 
the beautiful valley through which we entered the 
place. It is admirably adapted for the raising of 



cattle and horses, as well as for all kinds of grain. 
Wheat, in particular, does' remarkably well here. The 
Chili Colorado (red pepper), of which such quantities 
are consumed in Mexico, grows here in perfection, 
and is said to be preferred on account of its superior 
piquancy to any raised in Sonora. The climate is 
milder than in either the southern or northern parts 
of the State. In the winter it is subject to severe 

Santa Cruz, Sonora. 

frosts, so that the river freezes and snow often lies on 
the ground for several days. It is, however, a very 
sickly place, the inhabitants suffering from bilious 
fevers, in consequence of the proximity of a large 
marsh three miles west of the town. Many were ill 
at the time of my visit, and I was desirous to get away 
as soon as possible. 


This place has suffered more than any other on the 
frontier from the inroads of -the Apaches, it being on 
the principal route of communication with the interior 
from the north, as well as with the settlements of the 
civilized Indians. The place had become much re- 
duced and impoverished by the frequent incursions of 
the Apaches, which prevented the inhabitants from 
cultivating the soil, except in the immediate vicinity 
of the town. If they suffered their cattle to stray two 
miles off, a band of skulking savages would emerge 
from some thicket where they lay in ambush, and 
drive them off. If but two or three men were tending 
them, they were either murdered or compelled to seek 
safety in flight. In such a miserable state of existence 
were these people, that they could scarcely venture be- 
yond the walls of their town, except in parties of six 
or eight, who must then be well armed ; and if they 
wanted to go any considerable distance, it was neces- 
sary to form large parties for mutual protection. It 
was in September, 1850, when the party with Inez 
were cut off about twenty miles from Santa Cruz, 
which led to the complete abandonment of the place. 
A few months, however, before our arrival, a brigade 
was raised by General Carrasco, for the protection of 
the frontier. The presidios were then strengthened; and 
Fronteras, Santa Cruz, and others, which had been 
abandoned, were again occupied by their poor and 
wretched inhabitants. 

I was detained here until the 29th, waiting for the 
flour and pinole for the Gila parties. A portion had 
been procured and sent forward several days before, 
and Mr. Gray remained behind for the remainder. But 


two mules could be obtained here, for which I paid 
seventy -five dollars each. I also procured some flour 
for Colonel Graham. On the 28th, he took his depar- 
ture for the Copper Mines, where his engineers and 
the party for the survey of the Rio Grande, were still 
awaiting his return. 

During our stay here, Dr. Webb was engaged three 
quarters of his time in attending the sick ; for in addi- 
tion to the many that were suffering with fever, there 
were cases of a more complicated nature, which re- 
quired the performance of surgical operations. For 
his services he made no charge. One would suppose 
that after attentions of this kind, and the restoration of 
one of their number from captivity, some little grati- 
tude would have been shown us by the people of this 
place ; instead of which, however, depredations were 
nightly committed in our camp. Meat was stolen from 
the pot in which it was cooking ; blankets were taken 
from the men while asleep ; and all the ropes and iron 
stake-pins that secured our animals were carried off. 
These last were a serious loss to us, and could not 
be replaced. We were finally compelled to keep the 
people away from our camp ; and I felt it my duty to 
complain to the Ciira of the pilfering propensities of 
his flock. He was fully aware of their thievish dispo- 
sition, but was unable to restrain them. Many wanted 
to be employed as arrieros ; but after the examples we 
had of their dishonesty, I thought it prudent to have as 
little to do with them as possible. I engaged, how- 
ever, Jesus Ortis, the father-in-law of Inez, to be our 
guide to Magdalena, and further if necessary. 

September 2dth. Being unable to procure any thing 


at Santa Cruz but flour, I determined to go to Magda- 
lena, a town seventy-five miles further south, where I 
was told I could find mules, and such articles of pro- 
visions as I required. The annual fair of San Fran- 
cisco was to take place in a few days ; and there, it was 
believed, would be a supply of every thing, particu- 
larly mules, of which I was most in need. I believed 
I could get back in ten days, and immediately after 
join the parties on the Gila. 

When we came to get the mules in, we found that 
one was missing. I suspected that some of our dishonest 
friends had concealed it until after we should leave, 
and requested Captain Barragan to secure it, if it should 
be seen. 

My journey to Magdalena was taken advantage of 
by many of the people of Santa Cruz, who wished to 
go to the fair ; so that when my party was ready to 
move, I found it increased by fifteen men and two 
women, all mounted on horses, or mules, like ourselves, 
making altogether a cavalcade of thirty-one persons, 
besides our pack-mules. The Mexicans were all clad 
in their holiday dresses, and presented quite a pictu- 
resque appearance. The men wore chiefly roundabout 
jackets, with pantaloons open at the sides, showing 
their large white cotton drawers beneath. Some of 
their pantaloons were lined with pink or sky-blue ; and 
in every case they were decorated with a row of bell- 
buttons, or clasps, extending from the hip to the ankle. 
Suspenders they never wear, a red silk sash being 
generally used to keep the pantaloons in their place. 
" Every man also carries with him a serajoe, or blanket, 
which in the cool of the morning and evening is thrown 


gracefully over his shoulders, and at night is used to 
cover his body. During the heat of the day, it is 
folded up and laid across his saddle, or fastened on 
behind. The women always wear the reboso, a scarf 
which covers the head and neck. In other respects, 
there is nothing peculiar in their dress, except that 
they prefer very gaudy colors. 

Our road was said to be infested with Apaches, 
who were wont to conceal themselves in a canon 
some ten miles in length, where they attacked small 
parties. Every man, therefore, took the precaution 
to be well armed. We did not get away until three 
o'clock in the afternoon, when a ride of six miles to the 
south-west brought us to San Lazaro, a large ruined 
hacienda, on the banks of the Santa Cruz River, where 
an extensive soap manufactory was formerly carried 
on. The buildings were beautifully situated in the 
valley, amid a grove of large cotton-woods, with an 
extensive orchard of peach and quince trees ; but the 
fruit had all been gathered by parties who had passed 
before us, or by the Indians. I walked through the 
tenantless chambers of the hacienda, which seemed to 
have been built with a view to comfort and conve- 
nience unusual in the country. It had been deserted 
for six years ; and in this short period, the rain had 
washed away some of its walls, and portions of the 
roof had fallen in. An adobe building will last many 
years with care ; but it must be closely watched 
during the rainy season : for when once the water has 
found its way through a wall, it very soon makes for 
itself a wider passage ; next the timber in the roof gives 
way ; and in a short time, the whole building becomes 


a ruin. The stream here takes a short turn towards 
the north, passing through Tubac and Tucson ; soon 
after which it loses itself in the desert, without reach- 
ing the Gila. Since leaving Santa Cruz, our course had 
been along the banks of this stream, in many places 
thickly overgrown with willows and cotton-woods, and 
hemmed in on both sides with mountains. Many de- 
serted and ruined ranchos were seen in the valley, for 
it had not a single inhabitant beyond the walls of Santa 
Cruz. Rode about six miles further south and encamped. 
September 2>0th. Eight miles from camp, brought 
us to Cocospera* an old mission at the head of the kjj^n 
Miguel River, which was abandoned about six years 
before in consequence of the inroads of the Apaches. 
Here, rising from a spur of the plateau, and overlook- 
ing the valley, stands a church, a building which pre- 
sents quite an imposing appearance, with its towers 
and dome still in a good state of preservation. It is 
surrounded by houses or stalls with fronts open towards 
the church, which were probably occupied by those 
who came from a distance to worship ; or they may 
have been intended for the Indians, many of whom 
were formerly connected with all these frontier mis- 
sions, and employed as laborers upon the lands belong- 
ing to them. The interior of this church must have 
been very beautiful in its time, when its numerous 
niches were filled with statues, and its walls covered 
with paintings. The gilded and painted ornaments 

* This place has since become somewhat notorious from its hav- 
ing been colonized anew by the party of Frenchmen from California, 
who subsequently attempted to set up a government of their own, 
and for a while gave the authorities much trouble. 


upon the walls and ceiling still remained, consisting 
of crucifixes, doves, and other sacred emblems, sur- 
rounded by inscriptions, scrolls, and flowers, which 
displayed more taste than we had before seen in such 
buildings. Several wooden figures still stood about 
the altar ; but the pictures were all gone. Bats were 
already in full possession of the edifice, and hung from 
the projecting walls and corners, like so many black 
ornaments; while the swallows which were flitting 
about us had also taken up their abode here, and 
added their mud-built nests to its interior decorations. 
Tigs was one of the richest missions in Sonora ; and 
its property in cattle was so extensive, that (as we were 
afterwards told) the increase of a single year amount- 
ed to ten thousand head. In the valley below and im- 
mediately adjoining the building, stood the orchard ; 
well stocked with apples, pomegranates, peaches, and 
quinces. These last we found in the greatest profu- 
sion, the trees still bending with their loads of fruit. 
There are two varieties of the quince here, one hard 
and tart like our own, the other sweet and eatable 
in its raw state, yet preserving the rich flavor of the 
former. The Mexicans gathered and ate them like 
apples ; but I found them still too hard for my diges- 
tive organs. We gathered a few, which we afterwards 
stewed ; they were then very palatable, and in a meas- 
ure supplied the place of vegetables. The valley here 
is more than half a mile wide, and seems once to have 
been well cultivated. 

Proceeding down the valley, we noticed many 
ruined ranchos, corrals, and other remains of a civil- 
ized community, now overgrown with tall grass and 


shrubbery. Cotton-wood trees and sycamores of a 
large size grew along the margin of the stream, and 
at intervals were found in groups. The grass every 
where was rich and abundant. It was really sad to 
see so beautiful a region reverting to the condition of a 
wilderness in consequence of the attacks of ruthless 
marauders. We now approached the dreaded canon, 
where our fair captive, Inez Gonzales, had been taken 
and her companions murdered, one year and seven 
days before. Our Mexican companions had been talk- 
ing of it all the morning ; and as we drew nearer and 
were about to enter the defile, they huddled more 
closely together, each fearful of taking the lead, or of 
being ten feet from the rest. They were going to the 
same fair as before ; and it was believed that the Apa- 
ches, knowing of the large numbers that annually col- 
lected at Magdalena, were on the watch for their victims 
in all the mountain passes, where they could lie in ambush 
and throw their lances or arrows at the passing travel- 
ler. We soon came to a spot where, in a dense thicket 
of forest and shrubbery, our attention was directed to 
a rude cross. Here was the fatal spot where, on the 
occasion above referred to, the savages rushed from 
their ambuscade, shooting several of the Mexicans with 
their muskets, and piercing others with their long 
lances, before they could recover themselves and act 
on the defensive. Within twenty feet of the path ran 
the stream, whose mysterious murmuring beneath the 
dense foliage seemed a fit appendage to such a deed 
of blood. The mountains here on either side of the 
defile approached within a hundred feet of the path ; 
though in some places they are much nearer, and rise 


from five to eight hundred feet, either abruptly or with 
steep-sloping banks. 

We saw here, for the first time, the giant Cereus 
( Cereus giganteus), or petahaya, of the Mexicans. This 
monster of the cactus family assumes various forms ; 
sometimes rising in a single fluted column to the height 
of thirty or forty -feet ; sometimes, at eight or ten feet 
from the ground, it divides into two or more branches, 
which turn upwards like the prongs of an inverted 
fork ; others again throw off four or more arms, dis- 
posed with great symmetry, and having the appearance 
of gigantic candelabra. These covered the rocks on 
both sides for miles ; and among them grew numerous 
humbler species of the same family, some loaded with 
rich red fruit, and others trailing their snaky branches 
over the ground, altogether forming a striking and 
peculiar vegetation, unlike any thing we had before 

After winding our way about ten miles through 
this defile, we again emerged into a plain or broad 
valley, through which still coursed the beautiful little 
stream which we first met at Cocospera ; though by 
what name to call it, I hardly know. Like many of 
the largest streams which wind among the mountains 
and across the plains of Mexico, this bears several 
names, according to the towns which stand upon its 
bank. Cocospera, Imuriz, San Ignacio,and San Miguel, 
have been applied to it in turn ; and I cannot find, from 
the maps which I have consulted, that it bears any 
general name. It forms the western branch of the 
Sonora River, one of the principal streams in the State. 

When we again found ourselves in the open coun- 


try and beyond the dreaded canon, our Mexican 
friends showed themselves less desirous of keeping 
as close to us as they had done. Soon after they 
told us they wished to reach Imuriz before night, 
when we took leave of them; and having already 
come thirty miles, we thought best to stop near the 
little town of Babasaqui. Our general course during 
the day had been south south-west We passed many 
deserted ranchos with fine orchards near them; but 
not a living being had been seen until we reached 
this settlement. In the orchards we found more fruit 
than we had seen before — from the fact, probably, that 
there were but few travellers this way, and people did 
not dare venture so far from their homes for the luxury. 
We gathered a supply of delicious peaches, with which 
we filled our haversacks and pockets. Many wild cat- 
tle were seen to-day, some of which crossed our path 
quite near us. A bull gave chase to Mr. Thurber, and 
pursued him until he regained our camp. 

After the tents were pitched, we strolled up to the 
village, where we found an uncle of Inez. He had not 
before heard of the restoration of his niece, and express- 
ed a thousand thanks to us all. In the evening, he r 
with several others, came to our camp, bringing milk, 
cheese, tortillas, and peaches, which they begged us to 
accept. It was all they had to give except their 
thanks, and they seemed much pleased at our accept- 
ing them. The people here seemed very quiet and 
well disposed, with well cultivated fields, which showed 
that they devoted a portion of their time, at least, to 
labor. A man living here who had a contract to furnish 
the government with five hundred head of cattle, told 
vol. i. — 27 


us that so abundant were they in this valley and the ad- 
jacent plains, that he had not yet begun to collect them, 
although all were to be delivered on the 10th of October. 
His mode of catching them was that before alluded to, 
viz., to lasso them by the head or horns, then fasten 
them to the heads of domesticated cattle, and drive them 
to a corral or pen. During the night, we heard the 
bellowing of the wild bulls quite near us, and felt some 
apprehension that they might make a charge upon us, 
and stampede our mules, if they did no other mischief. 

October 1st. A south-easterly course of three miles 
brought us to Imuriz, a miserable looking village. 
There was an improvement which I noticed in the 
adobe houses here ; they were all capped with brick 
or tiles, which gave them an air of finish and durability 
above those that are simply capped with mud. Here 
we rounded a mountain, and then followed a valley in 
the same direction. Every thing now around us indi- 
cated an approach to a civilized, or rather, I should 
say, a settled, country. Ranchos with cultivated 
grounds, fields of wheat and corn, orchards teeming 
with peaches and pomegranates, met us with every 
expansion of the valley. The contracted foot-path, or 
mule trail, however, still showed that we had not yet 
reached the country of wheeled vehicles, all the trans- 
portation being carried on by means of pack-mules. 
We met many people to-day passing from one village 
or rancho to another; and not a little curiosity was 
manifested at seeing such a group of white faces with 
long beards wending our way among them. 

Riding up to the church, which appeared quite 
new, we dismounted and hitched our animals, to take 



a brief inspection of it. Like the other buildings of 
the country, it was constructed of adobe, but had 
neither steeple nor tower. Three bells were sus- 
pended from a frame in front, on one of which, I 
noticed the date 1680. There was nothing of interest 
here; so we journeyed on to Terrenati, a village of 
three or four hundred souls, two miles distant. Con- 
tinuing our ride six or eight miles further still, and 
following the same stream that we first met at Coco- 
pera, we reached San Ignacio. We rode into the plaza 
facing the church, and, dismounting, applied at an ad- 
joining house for admission into the sacred edifice. 

Door-way of the Church, San Ignacio. 

We were received with much politeness, and con- 
ducted by a young woman through an entrance near 
the altar into the church, which did not meet my ex- 
pectations, as it was by no means in keeping with the 
exterior of the building. There were but few pictures 


on the walls; and the statues, which are of wood, 
and from two to four feet high, were quite ordinary. 
Among the latter, 1 noticed two Chinese figures, 
intended doubtless for mandarins, but here metamor- 
phosed into saints. These images reminded me at 
once of our proximity to the Pacific, with its opposite 
shore formed by the Celestial Empire, between which 
and Mexico, there was formerly a flourishing com- 
merce. I asked the attendant if those figures were 
not from China ; to which I received the usual and 
unsatisfactory reply of " Quien sabef I suppose she 
knew as little of China as of the topography of the 
moon ; and as to the personages they originally repre- 
sented, it was a matter of perfect indifference to her 
and the people who worshipped there. The church is 
built entirely of brick, being the first edifice of that 
material we had seen. It has two towers, and is on 
the whole a picturesque looking structure. This was 
one of the earliest missions established in Sonora, and 
was founded about the year 1687. Though the mis- 
sion has been abandoned for many years, the results of 
Jesuit industry are still apparent in the shape of some 
pomegranate orchards. 

We had heard much of the superiority of the pome- 
granates of this place, for they are famed in all the 
region round about; and for once in this country we 
met with something that really came up to our expec- 
tations. They were delicious beyond comparison. 
Some specimens measured sixteen inches in circum- 
ference, and they were sold at from one to two dozen 
the real (twelve and a half cents). Immediately over 
the wall where we stood, was a large orchard with long 


lines of these trees bending under their luscious burden ; 
the deep brilliant green of their foliage presenting a 
striking contrast with the bright yellow of the fruit. 
Great quantities are used in the distillation of a strong 
and fiery species of aguardiente. The man through 
whose house we entered the church was quite polite 
to us, and invited us to drink of this liquor, and to help 
ourselves from heaps of the fruit and of peaches like- 

The place is quite neat for a Mexican town, and we 
left it with a very favorable impression, which how- 
ever was somewhat weakened ere long. After we had 
proceeded a mile upon the road, I received an invita- 
tion from the Alcalde to return. Expecting some 
civilities from the head man of the place, I somewhat 
reluctantly obeyed ; for I was desirous to reach Magda- 
lena before nightfall, and would willingly have dis- 
pensed with these hospitalities. I found, however, that 
his object was to ascertain who we were, and to see 
our passports. I informed him who I was, and added 
that by virtue of my office, I claimed a right to go any 
where in pursuance of objects connected with my 
duties. The gentlemen with me, I told him, were at- 
tached to the Commission; and if he desired to be 
satisfied of the truth of my statement, he must send to 
Magdalena, whither we were going ; as my papers were 
now with my baggage on the pack-mules several miles 
in advance. The little, fat, puffy official, was not at 
all satisfied ; he seemed to distrust my statement, and 
wished us to go before the Prefect, to which I deci- 
dedly objected. I again politely told him that I should 
be in Magdalena a couple of days, and would there 


satisfy his doubts. Continuing our journey, a ride of 
six miles through a richly cultivated valley brought 
us to La Magdalena, or rather within half a mile of it, 
where we encamped. I did not wish to go nearer the 
town, on account of the large number of people that 
would be assembled there. 

October 2d. Before I was out of my bed, (and I 
rose before the sun,) a messenger came to my tent and 
asked for the "Commandante." I heard him making 
inquiry of the cook, and, springing from my cot, went 
to the tent-door and asked his business. He said the 
Alcalde desired to see me as soon as possible. I told 
him I did not make calls at that hour, but would see 
him after breakfast. Accordingly, about nine o'clock, 
I waited upon that dignitary, accompanied by Dr. 
Webb, Mr. Cremony, and Mr. Thurber. He proved 
to be a shop-keeper of the third class, occupying a 
filthy little place, with a stock in trade, I should think, 
worth some twenty-five dollars. I told him that agree- 
ably to his orders I had called upon him, and desired 
to know his commands. He presented me a letter 
which he had just received from the Prefect of San 
Ignacio. It stated that a party of Americans had 
passed through that place, who, on being called upon 
to show their passports, had said they would do so at 
La Magdalena. That he wished us to be examined and 
detained until he came, which would be to-day. Mr. 
Cremony then introduced me as the Commissioner of 
the United States, explaining my duties and those of 
the gentlemen attached to my party. I first stated to 
him briefly the object of my visit to La Magdalena, viz., 
to purchase provisions and mules for our surveying 


parties at the Gila ; and then showed him my commis- 
sion, with the great seal of the United States and the 
bold signature of Zachary Taylor affixed to it, toge- 
ther with letters from General Conde and Carrasco, 
requesting the civil and military authorities to extend 
to me every aid in their power. Whether it was the 
name of the hero of Buena Vista or the number and 
character of my letters that produced the effect, I do 
not know ; but he expressed himself perfectly satisfied 
before I had got half through, and said that he was 
only acting by order of the Prefect of San Ignacio. I 
told him that the Prefect had not treated us well ; that 
I had stopped in the public square with my party, and 
had been for more than an hour in the church, or in 
the dwelling house of one of the citizens, when a 
hundred of the people were around us, and knew our 
history ; that instead of asking me then, he had per- 
mitted me to resume my journey, and after getting a 
mile from the town, had ordered us back. After many 
apologies, the Alcalde told us to go where we pleased, 
and very politely tendered his services. 

I did not really blame the authorities alluded to 
except for compelling us to retrace our steps. The 
quiet people here have been so much annoyed by 
the conduct of California emigrants who have passed 
through the country, as to make them shy of all Ameri- 
cans. These reckless adventurers often set at defiance 
all law and propriety, and we had many accounts of 
their shameful and brutal conduct. The fields in this 
country are seldom fenced, and it is no uncommon 
thing for a party of these men to encamp and turn 
their animals into a field of corn, on which the help- 


less ranchero and his family are probably depending 
for their chief support. They will enter a house, pistol 
in hand, demanding whatever it affords ; frequently 
they help themselves, without the ceremony of paying 
for what they take ; and commit other outrages which 
make one who has any national pride blush to hear 

This affair being ended, we walked around the 
plaza, or public square, where crowds of people were 
busily occupied in setting up their booths for the 
approaching fiesta of San Francisco. These were 
chiefly constructed with boughs of trees lashed to- 
gether, and covered with the same. A few had 
begun to display their wares. We next went into 
the church. 

Although San Franciscos are as common in Mexico, 
as Washingtons, Jeffersons, and Franklins are with us, 
and churches dedicated to that saint are to be found all 
over the country ; yet this of La Magdalena is the most 
celebrated and potent of all, inasmuch as it contains a 
celebrated figure of San Francisco, which, among other 
miracles, performed that of selecting the place of its 
abode. A party of San Franciscans, as the legend 
goes, were travelling in search of a proper spot to 
found an establishment, and had among their other 
effects this sainted figure packed upon a mule. On 
arriving at this place, the animal carrying the precious 
burden became obstinate, and refused to budge. This 
the worthy fathers interpreted as indicating the Saint's 
pleasure to stop here. So here they built the church. 
The original building, with the exception of the tower, 
is in ruins ; but a new one has been erected within a 


few years, which, is quite an imposing edifice, with two 
fine towers and a large dome, beneath which the Saint 

For several days previous to the 4th of October, 
which is the Saint's day, preparations for its celebra- 
tion begin ; so that the devotions and offerings, with 
their accompanying festivities, are in full blast a day or 
two in advance. La Magdalena and the Church of 
San Francisco are the Mecca of devout Mexican Catho- 
lics. From the borders of Sinaloa on the south to the 
furthest outpost near the Gila, and from the Gulf of 
California to the Sierra Madre, they flock in by thou- 
sands, to offer their devotions at this shrine. It is not 
unusual for very great sinners to bring their burden 
of guilt a distance of four or five hundred miles ; a 
journey in this country of greater difficulty, and requir- 
ing more time, than one from New Orleans to Quebec. 
The poorer classes often come a hundred miles on 
foot, begging by the way. The more penitent, like 
the idolaters before the temple of Juggernaut, or the 
devout Mohammedan at the shrine of his prophet, pros- 
trate themselves, and, with their hands crossed on their 
breasts, advance on their knees a hundred feet or 
more to the church. Both men and women are thus 
seen toiling over the dusty street and brick pavement 
of the church to the presence of the Saint, who is laid 
out beneath the dome and in front of the altar. When 
the votaries reach the bier, they cross themselves, and 
with outstretched arms repeat their prayers. They 
then rise to their feet, and, drawing nearer, present 
"their offerings. 

The body of San Francisco, or rather its image, lies 


upon a platform or bier clothed in rich vestments, and 
covered with a piece of satin damask of the most gor- 
geous colors. The head, hands, and feet are alone ex- 
posed. These are made of wood, colored to represent 
flesh ; and I was informed by a Mexican gentleman, 
that these constituted the whole statue. The body, he 
told me, was merely a frame-work, stuffed with rags 
and cloths to give it a form, over which the drapery 
was disposed. The offerings consist of money and 
candles ; and as wax is quite expensive here, the poorer 
class present candles of tallow. There was a continual 
jingling of money ; in fact, so constant was the drop- 
ping of silver dollars into the receptacle placed for 
them, that no other sound was heard. What was sin- 
gular in all this mummery was, that no priest was 
present. The men who took the money were ordina- 
rily dressed, having on nothing to distinguish them 
from the crowd around. There may have been a priest 
behind the altar or somewhere not visible to the 
devotees ; but while I stood by the side of the image . 
and witnessed the proceedings on two occasions, I 
could perceive none. An estimate may be formed of 
the crowds here present, when I state that the receipts 
this year, although the attendance was less than usual, 
were about twelve thousand dollars ; while on some 
former occasions, the amount of money voluntarily 
given had reached the sum of eighteen thousand. To 
the question what become of all this money, I received 
the usual reply of " Quien sale f" A gentleman, how- 
ever, told me that it went to the city of Mexico, and 
that neither the poor of Magdalena nor the church 
there derived any benefit from it. 


In the evening I visited the church again, when I 
witnessed the ceremony of consecrating ribbons. The 
space around the image was crowded as in the morn- 
ing with devotees, each provided with a piece of rib- 
bon. The mode of consecrating it depended upon the 
ailment of the applicant. If he or she had a pain in 
the head, the ribbon was passed several times across 
the forehead of the figure by the officiating Franciscans. 
If blind, the ribbon was passed across the eyes ; if 
lame, or afflicted with rheumatism, it was passed over 
the arms or legs ; and in many instances I saw it 
drawn between the toes of the Saint. Had some of 
our turtle-fed aldermen been the applicants for the 
latter process, one might have believed it to be for 
the gout ; but I fancy that a diet of frijoles and tortil- 
las does not often engender that disease in Mexico. 
Some of the worshippers were provided with long 
pieces of ribbon, which they applied in turn to every 
part, a knot being tied after each application, making, 
probably, as one of the gentlemen observed, " a sort 
of family medicine chest." The faith of the people in 
this thing of wood and paint is astonishing. An old 
man told us with the utmost seriousness, that last May, 
when the cholera visited the place, and was cutting 
off twenty a day, they had only to bring the image 
into the street, and the disease at once disappeared. 
He was asked what he would have thought if the dis- 
ease continued. He replied, "That it was the will of 
the Saint, and we must submit." 

In our rambles, we dropped into an attractive- 
looking shop to make inquiries about such provisions 
as we required. The proprietor, Senor Gonzales, was 


a native Castilian, which we soon perceived by the 
purity of his language. He at once recognized us as 
Americans ; and after answering our inquiries, invited 
us into an inner apartment, furnished very handsomely, 
and in good taste. One of the first things I noticed 
here was an American rocking chair — an article of 
luxury better adapted, one would suppose, to the quiet 
habits of the Mexicans, with their fondness for a siesta 
during the heat of the day, than to those of rest- 
less Yankees. Wine and other refreshments were 
offered us; and an hour was agreeably spent in con- 
versation with our new acquaintance. He gave us 
much information about the country, and the ceremo- 
nies we had just witnessed. While there, several 
strangers, also gentlemen of education and respecta- 
bility, came in ; and rinding who we were, and of what 
we were in pursuit, they gave us such information as 
we required, and tendered us their services. I regret- 
ted to learn that we could ndt procure the provisions 
we needed ; but it was expected that the fair would 
bring many mules into market, so that in a few days 
we could obtain all that we wanted. 

In the evening we walked about the town, and 
among the booths, which were arranged on every side 
of the plaza, and along the principal streets. They 
seemed much like those which it was customary to 
erect in New- York on the Fourth of July. Cakes of 
various kinds, tortillas, fruits, and aguardiente, were 
the staple articles ; but while there were booths 
entirely appropriated to the sale of this intoxicating 
liquor, I do not remember to have seen a single 
drunken man. In the midst of these booths was a large 


inclosure. covered with the boughs of trees, beneath 
which some hundreds were assembled, and engaged in 
dancing. An enormous bass drum, which was heard 
above all other sounds, a couple of violins, and a cla- 
rionet, ground out waltzes and polkas, while the beaux 
were swinging round the senoritas in a manner that 
would astonish our dancing community. Notwith- 
standing the crowd here assembled, most of whom 
were strangers to each other, the most perfect order 
was kept. The Mexican people are ardently devoted 
to dancing ; and when they once enter into it, they 
do not cease until the sun appears the following day. 
Some of our party who were given to this amusement 
thought they would like to take a few turns. So, 
casting a glance along the line of dark-eyed damsels 
who occupied the benches, and selecting the most 
attractive, they advanced without any introduction, 
led them into the arena, and at once joined in the 
merry whirl. A perpetual fandango was thus kept up 
day and night ; where people of all sorts, sizes, and 
conditions might be seen twirling to the slow measure 
of the Spanish reel, or the more active waltz and 
polka. But gambling, after all, seemed to predomi- 
nate. Whole ranges of booths were devoted to this 
exciting amusement; and crowds of every age, sex, 
and class were assembled about them. Boys and girls 
of six and eight years of age laid down their coppers, 
and men their reals and dollars ; while at other tables 
the more wealthy and aristocratic ventured their 
ounces. Some of the tables were attended by women, 
selected, not on account of their personal beauty, but 
for their expertness in shuffling the cards. 


October 3d. Accompanied Mr. Pratt to the hills 
opposite our camp, to take some sketches. The hills 
were separated from the camp by the river, on the 
banks of which were some hundreds of men and 
women bathing or washing. A few cotton-wood 
trees grew along the valley ; and the margin of the 
stream was lined with willow-bushes. The hills here 
are about five hundred feet high ; and from them we 
had a fine view of the town and adjacent plain, which 
was inclosed towards the south by a high range of 
mountains. The hill where we stood was literally 
covered with cacti of every variety that we had seen, 
from tiny plants not longer than one's thumb, just 
projecting from some crevice, to the giant cereus, that 
shot up to the height of fifty feet. The agave, yucca, 
fouquiera, Spanish bayonet, mezquit, and other plants, 
alike grew in profusion around us. 

In the evening we again visited the church, where 
the same scenes were going on as before described. It 
was now brilliantly illuminated, and a procession was 
marching through the crowd, each individual in it 
holding a lighted candle in his hand. The music was 
performed by a circus band, from Hermosillo, which 
played the same pieces for the interludes of the service 
as it did for the performances of evening. Some 
of our popular Ethiopian melodies occasionally greeted 
the ear. 

October Ath. Finding it impossible to obtain pro- 
visions here, I determined to go to Ures, the Capital 
of the State of Sonora, about ninety miles distant, for 
the purpose of procuring what we needed, and of nego- 
tiating my drafts on the government, which I could 

\, l: 


I ■ .villi:! 

fi|:i ! ii:ii : ' 


not do here. Senor Gonzales agreed to furnish the 
mules I wanted, but could not do so under a week or 
ten days. I accordingly gave him an order to procure 
for me ten pack and four riding mules, sundry pack- 
saddles, etc., which were to be delivered me on my 
return from Ures. 

In the afternoon, services were performed over the 
figure of San Francisco, preparatory to its being car- 
ried through the streets in grand procession. As soon 
as the sun had set, the eight bells commenced a merry 
peal, the church was illuminated, and the procession 
formed. The figure was brought forth on a platform, 
or bier, over which was a canopy of crimson satin; 
and two lines were formed extending across the plaza, 
each individual bearing a lighted wax-candle in his 
hand. I estimated the number in the procession car- 
rying these candles at twelve hundred. A band of 
music led the way, followed by boys and men swing- 
ing censers of incense. Next came the Saint immedi- 
ately preceded by a priest ; and a crowd of women 
carrying lighted candles followed, constituting the 
main body of the procession. Innumerable small 
rockets were thrown up by the populace, which flew 
about in all directions, and fell among the crowd. 
Muskets too were fired by such as had them from the 
streets and the house-tops, as the procession passed 
along. On the whole, the noise and confusion re- 
minded us of the celebration of the 4th of July, and 
seemed to exhibit quite as little devotional feeling as 
that day brings forth among us. It was one continual 
scene of amusement and hilarity from the begining to 
the end. After marching across the plaza and through 


one of the streets, the whole distance not exceeding 
a quarter of a mile, the image was carried back to 
the church and laid on the shelf until the next year ; 
and so the grand fiesta ended. 

We dined to-day with our Castilian friend, Senor 
Gonzales ; and at his house we met several Mexican 
gentlemen, among them Don Ilarion Garcia, whom we 
saw at our camp on the San Pedro. 

La Magdalena is the best built town we had yet 
seen ; the houses are chiefly of adobe, though some 
are of brick, and nearly all are stuccoed and white- 
washed. Many are colored yellow and otherwise 
ornamented, in a manner exhibiting considerable taste. 
The permanent population does not exceed fifteen 
hundred souls, which number, during the days of the 
festival of San Francisco, is swelled to ten or twelve 




Leave La Magdalena — Taken ill — Diary breaks of — Sufferings on the road 
— Reach ITres— Poor quarters — Dr. "Webb and rest of party visit Guay- 
mas — Kindness of Dr. Campbell — Description of Ures, the capital of 
Sonora — Theatricals — The Yaqui Indians — The Opate Indians — Visit 
from Tanori, an Opate chief — Other Indian tribes of Sonora — Exports 
— Narrative of an expedition against the Apaches — My party leave me 
and go to the Gila — Taken to Dr. Campbell's — Irruption of the Apaches 
— Imbecility of the Mexicans — Tanori and the Opate Indians go in pur- 
suit — Visit from the Coco-Maricopa Indians of the Gila — Good news 
from Tanori — He defeats the Apaches and recovers the stock — En- 
trance of the victors with the recovered booty into Ures — Death of 
General Garcia Conde — His character — -An American held in bondage 
— Arrival of General Flores — Departure for the coast. 

October 6th. We left La Magdalena in the afternoon, 
taking a south-easterly course across a plain covered 
with grass and mezquit bushes. There was no wagon 
road, wheeled vehicles not yet being used. We fol- 
lowed a large and well beaten road, which, though 
traversed by thousands of animals and pedestrians, was 
in many places, where it wound over the hills, no more 
than a narrow path twelve or eighteen inches in width. 
Crowds of people returning to their homes lined the 
road ; so that we had no lack of company. We are 
still in a country infested by bands of Apaches, who 

vol. i.— 28 



prowl among the mountains and pounce upon any- 
small and unprotected party that may fall in their way. 
We journeyed but twelve miles when we encamped. 

With the above, my diary breaks off. The follow- 
ing day, I felt quite ill, and when we encamped, early 
in the afternoon, was unable to record what had passed 
or to make any notices of the country. The day after, 
my illness continued, and my appetite left me entirely. 
I still kept in my saddle, and, by stopping every hour 
or so and lying down, was enabled to reach a camp-/ 
ing place early in the day. Ranchos and villages 
being at short distances apart, we found no difficulty 
in halting where it suited our convenience. On the 
sixth day after leaving Magdalena we reached Tires, 
passing through the villages of Cucurpe, Tuape, Opo- 
depe, and Rayon, a distance of forty leagues. It was 
a most painful journey to me. I was obliged to keep 
on horseback, there being no other means of convey- 
ance. During the day, between the hours of ten and 
four 5 the sun was intensely hot, and the rays from 
the light colored soil gave me a severe pain in my 
head. I used an umbrella when the wind did not 
blow, which gave me some relief; nevertheless, I 
was compelled to make frequent stops, and avail my- 
self of a bushy tree or shrub that afforded a shade, 
where I could lie down and rest. I would wil- 
lingly have stopped; but the miserable little places 
we passed afforded no comforts, and my companions 
agreed with me that it was best to push on for Ures. 
As the nights were cold, requiring two or three blank- 


ets, it was necessary that I should go into quarters and 
keep as quiet as possible. Two of the party therefore 
rode on in advance, taking with them my letters to 
Governor Aguilar. We reached the borders of the 
town before they rejoined us ; and I was glad to throw 
myself on a tent cloth in the shade of a mezquit tree, 
and there await the return of my friends. Soon after 
they came, but had only succeeded after much search 
in obtaining a room in the rear of an unoccupied shop, 
of which I at once took possession. The walls were 
of uncolored adobe, and the floor of brick, while the 
light was admitted from a small barred window resem- 
bling that of a prison, which opened into a court yard. 
My furniture consisted of my portable cot, a leather 
pannier which contained a small portion of my clothes, 
and a camp stool. The morning after I arrived, the 
Governor, Don Jose de Aguilar, called on me and 
kindly offered his services ; but I was too ill to say 
much, or even listen with attention. An American 
physician, Doctor Campbell, who had long resided in 
the place and had been a resident of the State for some 
twenty -five years, hearing of my arrival, came at once 
to see me ; and from what he said, I found that my 
illness was a serious one, and that I should not be able 
to leave for a long time. Doctor Webb remained with 
me ; and my servant, a faithful Irishman named William 
Turner, also occupied a corner of the room. After 
being here about two weeks, I was carried to other 
and somewhat more comfortable quarters. 

My new room was about twenty-five feet square, 
with a brick floor and colored walls ; and as is gener- 
ally the case with the smaller apartments in large 


houses, there was no window, the light being admitted 
from the door. But the greatest deprivation was the 
want of a fire-place, of which I afterwards learned 
there was but one in the whole town, and that was in 
the house of Doctor Campbell. This gentleman sent 
me a table and a couple of chairs ; so that in the mat- 
ter of furniture I now considered myself well off. 

About this time, finding my fever was of such a 
nature that it would be weeks, if not months, before I 
should be able to resume my journey, I thought it best 
to send Doctor Webb, Mr. Thurber, and Mr. Cremony 
to Guaymas, on the Gulf of California, for the purpose 
of negotiating my drafts, to enable me to pay for the 
provisions and mules I had purchased. They accord- 
ingly left for that place, Mr. Pratt and his son remain- 
ing and occupying an apartment next to mine. 

Doctor Campbell, to whom I shall ever feel under 
the deepest obligation for his kindness and constant 
attention, visited me daily, and often called two or 
three times during the twenty-four hours. I had occa- 
sional visits too from Dr. Wallace, an English physician 
who had formerly been in practice at Ures, but had 
lately abandoned the profession, and was then en- 
gaged in working a silver mine, about twenty miles 

off. There was also a German physician, Dr. — , 

of Hermosillo, who made me several calls ; so that on 
the whole, although my comforts were few, I was well 
provided with medical attendance. I felt the want of 
a fire the most, for I never slept with less than four 
heavy blankets over me. These, it is true, kept me 
comfortable at night ; but during the day, in the months 
of November and December, when I wished to sit up, 


I felt much inconvenience from the cold. The lowest 
point at which I noticed the thermometer was 40° 
Fahrenheit ; which for a sick man, with no fire, and 
the door open to admit light, cannot be said to be com- 
fortable. Nevertheless, thanks to an all-protecting 
Providence, and the excellent attendance I enjoyed, 
the privations I was subject to did not prevent my re- 
covery ; and by the middle of December, I was able, 
with the assistance of my friends, to walk out. 

Dr. Webb and his party reached Guaymas in safety ; 
but there he was taken ill with a fever, which detained 
him two weeks beyond the time allotted for his journey. 
The others also had slight attacks. On their return, I 
was still very weak, though convalescent. Dr. Camp- 
bell, who had had much experience in the fevers of the 
country, said it would not be possible for me in my 
enfeebled state to make the long journey to the Gila, 
where our surveying parties were, and thence to Cali- 
fornia. Both he and Doctor Webb advised that I 
should remain in Ures until my strength was sufficient- 
ly restored to enable me to proceed to Guaymas, and 
should then embark in some sailing vessel for Mazat- 
lan, from which place I could take passage for San 
Diego, in California, where the engineering parties 
would meet me. As soon as I determined on this step, 
I considered it best that the party which had accompa- 
nied me should retrace their steps to Santa Cruz, and 
from that place rejoin the parties on the Gila. 

On the fifteenth of December, the party took leave 
of me and set off, accompanied by eight Mexicans, 
whom Governor Cubillas had kindly provided to escort 
them as far as Santa Cruz ; there they hoped to find 


General Conde or some of the Mexican Commission, 
from whom a further escort could be procured to the 
Gila. Our journey to Ures through the unfrequented 
parts of the State, although unattended by any attacks 
from the Indians, had not been without danger ; and 
as it was known that bands of Apaches were prowl- 
ing about, and had committed many depredations in 
the vicinity of the town, the authorities did not think 
it safe for our small party to return without protection. 
Being now left alone with my faithful attendant, 
William Turner, who did duty in the triple capacity of 
servant, nurse, and cook, my excellent friend, Dr. 
Campbell, insisted on my taking up my quarters in his 
house, where I should be better provided for, and 
where he could more easily attend upon me. On the 
sixteenth of December, I removed to the Doctor's, 
where, among other things, I had the luxury of sitting 
by a fire, and of receiving many attentions from his 
kind and amiable lady, such as can be appreciated 
only by those, who, having a family and a home, are 
taken sick among strangers in a foreign land. Dr. 
James W. Campbell is a native of Virginia. His father 
was connected with Lewis and Clarke, the pioneers in 
the exploration of the Rocky Mountains, and was an 
agent of the United States in some negotiations with 
the Indian tribes west of the Mississippi. This led his 
son, the Doctor, to New Mexico, and thence to Chihua- 
hua and Sonora. He married in the latter State, and 
entered into the practice of medicine, for which he had 
been educated. Every American who comes to the 
place where the Doctor resides, is certain to find in 
him a sincere friend. 


Ures (pronounced Oo-ress) was originally a mission- 
ary establishment, and among the earliest in the State. 
Not many years before the expulsion of the Jesuits, 
they commenced here the erection of one of the largest 
churches in the country ; and when that event took 
place, the walls had been raised about half their in- 
tended height. The thirty years' neglect, however, 
which it has suffered since that time, has reduced it to 
a mass of crumbling ruins. Adjoining it are the re- 
mains of a smaller edifice, which is now being rebuilt. 
A prison, or house of correction, a plain adobe struc- 
ture, is as yet the only public building in the place. 
About a mile from the town an Alameda, or public 
park, has lately been laid out and planted with trees ; 
but so primitive is its appearance, that one would 
hardly recognise it as any thing more than an ordinary 
field and garden. 

During my residence here, Governor Aguilar resign- 
ed his office, and his successor, Don Francisco Cubillas, 
was installed into his place. Like his predecessor, 
Governor Cubillas is an accomplished gentleman. He 
has spent many years in Europe and the United States, 
has a highly cultivated mind, and speaks the English 
language with fluency. He manifested much interest 
in the objects of our commission, particularly in the 
scientific investigations, which I told him we were mak- 
ing. During my illness, he extended to me many at- 
tentions, for which I shall ever hold him in kind remem- 
brance. To get my party off, and support myself, 
while at Ures, of course required considerable money. 
This he kindly proffered to me to any amount, although 
I could see no way of repaying him under many months. 



The Legislative Hall is a plain adobe building, dis- 
tinguished from others only by a flag-staff. The As- 
sembly consists of but eight members ; and one would 
suppose that so small a body would be remarkable for 
the harmony of its proceedings. Yet I was told that 
a large portion of its last session was spent, in disputes 
about the qualifications of three of its members, and 
that it had adjourned without transacting any public 
business. A newspaper called the Sonoriense, the only 
one in the State of Sonora, is issued here weekly, and 
is chiefly devoted to the publication of laws, the pro- 
ceedings of the State Legislature and general Congress 
of Mexico, and other matters of an official character. 

The town is regularly laid out in squares, a large 
church and accompanying plaza occupying the centre. 
The church is a plain, substantial edifice, with a tower 
and dome, corresponding in general appearance with 
others throughout the country. The houses are well 
built and in general spacious, better, in fact, than any 
we had seen, except a few at La Magdalena. Although 
but of one story, they are about eighteen feet in the 
clear. As brick is used for cornices and other exterior 
ornaments, and as many of the houses are plastered 
and colored, the town has a pleasant appearance. Its 
streets, too, unlike most Mexican towns, are quite clean. 

Hard by runs the Sonora River, the bottom land of 
which, extending for more than a mile on either side, 
is exceedingly fertile. Its use, however, is almost 
wholly confined to the production of corn, wheat, 
beans, pumpkins, and chili. Vegetables, which one 
would expect to form a large part of the subsistence 
of the people, are scarcely cultivated here, and 



during iny residence of three months I saw none. 
Oranges, lemons, quinces, pomegranates, and peaches, 
abound. There is, too, a solitary date-tree within the 

'^~IcslK s " 

Date Tree, Ures. 

limits of the town ; but I could hear of no others near, 
and presume this to be an exotic. The sugar cane 
grows remarkably well in the bottom lands, and is cul- 
tivated in sufficient quantities to supply a small sugar 
mill. Nothing, however, is made but the common 
pilonce, an article inferior to the most ordinary brown 
sugar of commerce. Cotton of a superior quality, I 
was told, is raised here, though not to any extent. 



The plain on which the town stands is intersected with 
many arroyos, or dry water-courses, which, after heavy 
rains, become filled, inundate the country, and endanger 
the town. Several extensive haciendas are situated in 
the vicinity ; among which are those of Santa Rita, El 
Molino, Guadalupe, and Tapahui. 

A theatrical company from Mazatlan was perform- 
ing while I was a resident here ; but, either from want 
of patronage or indolence in the actors, the represen- 
tations took place only once or twice a week. Each 
entertainment was publicly announced by a troop with 
a band of music parading through the town. The 
theatre was a court yard in the open air, and the stage 
a rude frame work filled with earth ; the spectator 
being at liberty to look before or behind the scenes, as 
best suited his taste. Seats were not furnished, each 
person bringing his own, or standing during the per- 
formance. The prompter was ensconced in a sort of 
well in the front part of the stage, his head covered with 
a tin-plate screen, which strongly resembled a patent 
Dutch oven. He read the entire play in an under 
tone, and the actors repeated it after him. The whole 
affair was tedious, and a poor apology for an evening's 

The laborers of Ures and of other towns in the 
central and lower parts of Sonora are the Yaqui Indians. 
They fill the same place and perform the same duties 
as the lower class of Irish do in the United States. I 
was told that they are invariably honest, faithful, and 
industrious, traits of character which cannot be said to 
belong to the lower order of Mexicans. I saw these 
men at work in a broiling sun, with no garment save 


a bit of cloth around their loins, and a straw hat upon 
their heads, making the adobes or sun-baked brick, 
and laying them in the walls. Others were laboring 
in the fields ; and, in fact, the hard work whatever it 
was, seemed to be performed by these men. They 
are also the fishermen and the famous pearl divers of 
the Gulf of California. These Indians were in the 
early history of the country extremely warlike ; but 
on being converted to Christianity, their savage nature 
was completely subdued, and they became the most 
docile and tractable of people. In the civil wars of 
the State, some thirty years since, they took part with 
one of the factions ; and when this strife had passed 
away, it was not easy to subdue again the dormant 
propensities for war which had thus been aroused. 
They are now very populous in the southern part of 

The Yaquis were among the first to be converted 
by the Jesuits ; who used them as it is said the Egyp- 
tians did the Israelites, making them perform all the 
manual labor of the missions. They became excellent 
mechanics, and built the churches and missionary estab- 
lishments of the country, as well as the presidios, ox 
garrisons. In addition to the tithes, they were also 
made to pay tribute, either in labor or the products of 
the soil. When their old masters were banished the 
country, " the name of Jesuit was converted into that 
of cura, and slavery was by the same ingenious artifice 
changed to servitude. Priests, who from bad charac- 
ters were suffered to reside no where else, obtained 
their living from a Yaqui congregation ; and it was as 
common in Mexico to banish a friar to a Yaqui eccle- 


siastical establishment, as any other culprit to the fron- 
tier presidios." 

Being desirous to obtain a portrait characteristic of 
this large and once powerful tribe, I made my wish 
known to Governor Cubillas, who sent a man to me for 
the purpose. He had a mild expression of counte- 
nance and was considered a good specimen. Mr. 
Pratt obtained an excellent likeness of him*; though 
the fellow became so alarmed at seeing himself trans- 
ferred to canvas, that he would not return to have it 
completed. On expressing my desire to possess a full 
vocabulary of their language, I was told that Padre 
Encinas, the learned and venerable priest attached to 
the church here, was so familiar with it, as to be able 
to write and preach in it. I accordingly called on him 
with a friend ; when he readily complied with my re- 
quest, and furnished the corresponding Yaqui for the 
two hundred words in my vocabulary. 

Another large tribe of Indians in this State is that 
known as the Opate. They are found in the central 
parts of the State, and are chiefly devoted to agricul- 
ture. They live in villages, and are in general a quiet 
and well disposed people. Between La Magdalena and 
Ures we passed several villages of Opates, who in dress 
and appearance were quite as respectable as their 
Mexican compatriots. These people, however, are 
most noted for their bravery, being the only ones who 
have successfully contended with the savage Apaches. 
On many occasions they have been called out 'under 
their leader Tanori, who receives regular pay from the 
government, and always holds himself in readiness 
when he knows the common enemy is among them. 


Ever since the conquest of the country, the Opate 
tribe has manifested a frank and docile character, sym- 
pathizing in all things with the whites. They early be- 
came converts to Christianity, and have ever remained 
faithful to their religion. Of their attachment to 
law, order, and peace, they have given the most une- 
quivocal proofs. j» 

Three companies of infantry formed from them, were 
stationed at the frontier towns of Bacuachi, Tubac, and 
Babispe ; and there, it is said, for a series of years, 
they performed many acts of extraordinary valor, one 
of them having often been known to contend success- 
fully against eight or ten Apaches. In the civil wars 
of the State, they also took conspicuous part. Their 
sense of propriety is manifested in always being well 
clothed with a clean white shirt and pantaloons, while 
their Yaqui brethren prefer going naked, or nearly so. 
Besides soldiers, they are excellent couriers, and are 
often employed to carry messages long distances on 
foot, running the greater portion of the way. In twenty- 
four hours, they have been known to run from forty to 
fiftv leagues.* 

While I was confined to my room, I endeavored to 
collect such information as was within my reach relat- 
ing to the Indian tribes of the State ; and as I wished to 
obtain a portrait of an Opate, Governor Cubillas was so 
kind as to send for Tanori, the head chief of the nation, 
(to whom I have before alluded), who lived thirty 
leagues distant. A few days after, the Chief promptly 
reported himself at my quarters, accompanied by his 

* Velasco. Noticias del Estado de Sonora. 


wife He was indeed a fine specimen of a man, being 
full six feet high and well proportioned, with a light 
complexion for an Indian ; large piercing eyes, promi- 
nent and high cheek-bones, and a most determined ex- 
pression of countenance. He often smiled, when his face 
wore an expression full of benignity. He was delight- 
ed when L told him that his portrait would be sent to 
Washington, where the President of the American 
people lived, and there hung upon the walls of a great 
room with those of other celebrated chiefs of the Indian 
tribes within the borders of the United States. 

Mr. Pratt, the artist of the Commission, was ready 
when the Chief appeared, and at once proceeded to 
transfer the faces and busts of himself and wife to can- 
vas. Thev remained in town for a week, and were 
promptly on the spot when required for their sittings. 
Tanori wore a large serape of dark blue broadcloth ; 
the opening in the centre for the head being surround- 
ed by a broad band of green velvet, bound with heavy 
gold lace. His garments beneath this were simply a 
shirt and pantaloons. His wife, who always accompa- 
nied him, was quite small, with a delicate complexion 
for an Indian, though strongly marked with the cha- 
racteristics of her race. Tanori was greatly pleased 
with his wife's portrait, and expressed a strong desire 
to possess it. I promised him that if it should ever be 
published, I would send him a copy. From this chief 
I also obtained a full vocabulary of his language. 

The other tribes of Indians in Sonora, are the Mayos 
who reside in the southern part of the State ; the Tara- 
humaras or Taraumaras, who occupy the western por- 
tion adjacent to the Sierra Madre ; the Yumas and 


Cocopas of the Colorado ; the Papagos of the interior ; 
the Pimos, and Coco-Maricopas, of the Gila ; the Ceres 
of the Gulf of California ; and the Apaches. Of 
each of them I shall speak hereafter, in their proper 

The exports from Sonora are chiefly wheat and 
flour. Copper was formerly exported in considerable 
quantities ; that is now no longer the case. There was 
also an extensive trade in pearls, which were collected 
by the Indians of the Gulf; but I could not learn that 
much is now done in it. Silver and gold are among 
the exports ; but even of these the amount is less than 
in former times. 

Scarcely a week passed during my stay at Ures, that 
I did not hear of murders and robberies by small bands 
of Apaches in the neighborhood. On one occasion, 
sixteen valuable horses were stolen from a single ha- 
cienda, and a boy was carried away captive. Another 
time, several mules were taken from a rancho within a 
mile of the town, and the owner killed. Yet not an 
arm was raised in defence, nor were any steps taken to 
hunt out the thieves and murderers. I cannot refrain 
from relating here an incident that took place near one 
of the frontier towns, which affords a good illustration 
of Mexican pusillanimity. 

A band of Apaches, venturing into the interior of 
the State, stole a large number of horses and mules, 
which they were driving off. No efforts had been made 
to check them, until at length a party of some forty- 
five men armed with muskets, united for the purpose. 
One of their number was an American, who took a 
prominent part in the expedition. They soon fell into 



the trail of the robbers ; and about midnight, on reach- 
ing the top of a hill which overlooked a valley, they 
discovered the enemy below them, lying asleep around 
their camp fires ; while at a short distance, their herd 
of stolen animals were grazing. A small party sent 
down the hill to reconnoitre ascertained that the Indi- 
ans were but twelve in number. It was then proposed 
by the American, that he, with such others as would 
venture with him, should approach as near as possible, 
and each pick off his man ; which should be a signal 
for the rest to rush forward and overwhelm them. The 
plan was agreed to, but only two Mexicans and one 
Opate boy, would venture to accompany the Ameri- 

The four crept quietly to within fifteen paces of the 
Indian camp, and took their position behind some 
bushes for concealment. Just as they were preparing 
to fire, a tremendous shout was heard, with a confused 
discharge of fire-arms from the party left on the hill. 
The Indians sprang at once to their feet and ran some 
paces back, leaving their bows and lances ; but finding 
they were not pursued, they soon ran back and secured 
them. The small party of four, who were thus placed 
in an awkward predicament, endeavored to make good 
their retreat, dodging behind rocks and bushes, and 
occasionally discharging their guns at their pursuers, 
who were armed only with bows, arrows, and lances. 
On reaching the summit of the hill, their surprise was 
great to find that the cowardly crew left there, had 
abandoned their post and were in full retreat, driving 
some of the stolen animals, which they had managed to 
secure, before them. 


After the Opate boy had been killed by the arrows 
of his enraged pursuers, his three companions succeed- 
ed in regaining their horses, and pushing on after the 
main body of the party. The Indians, meanwhile, had 
got before them, and, riding fearlessly up to the re- 
treating Mexican horsemen, plunged their lances into 
their backs. Not one attempted to defend himself, 
or to discharge his gun. Quietly they submitted to 
be transfixed by the enemy's lances, until seven were 
killed. The American fearing all would be cut 
off, told them they must adopt one of two alterna- 
tives, as the only means of saving their lives ; namely, 
either make a stand and defend themselves, or abandon 
the recaptured animals. The latter course was pur- 
sued. The animals were left ; and the Apaches, having 
again secured their stolen property, retired. 

This narrative exhibits the poltroonery of the Mexi- 
cans in no stronger light than do incidents continually 
taking place. I have been told by many Mexican gen- 
tlemen and military officers, that ten Apaches will put 
a hundred of the lower class of their countrymen 
to flight. They become panic-stricken ; and if forced 
to discharge their guns, they do so at random, turning 
their faces and generally closing their eyes. In 
Chihuahua I heard of several stratagems used by 
the Mexicans, by which they had overpowered their 
adversaries ; but in open fights, which are very rare, 
the Apaches are generally the victors. We often hear 
of the effect of fear upon a single mule, which will 
stampede a large herd, without their knowing the cause 
of the alarm. The Mexicans seem to be possessed of 
similar fears, which produce similar results. 
vol. i. — 29 


On the 15th of December, I had so far recovered 
from my illness as to sit up the greater part of the day, 
and to walk out without assistance, although still 
very weak. I sometimes felt my strength failing me 
entirely, and my limbs becoming almost destitute 
of sensation. On this day, I resumed my diary, 
which had been suddenly broken off on the 5th of Oc- 

The gentlemen of the Commission who had accom- 
panied me to this place took leave of me to-day, to re- 
trace their steps to Santa Cruz, and thence proceed to 
rejoin the surveying parties on the Gila. The party con- 
sisted of Dr. Webb, Mr. Geo. Thurber, Mr. H. C. 
Pratt, Mr. J. J. Pratt, and their attendants. They 
were kindly provided with an escort, as I have already 
mentioned, by Governor Cubillas. Not having any 
troops at his disposal, he gave me an order on the Al- 
calde of each town through which Dr. Webb and his 
party should pass, who were required to furnish him 
with eight mounted and armed men to the next town, 
and so on, to the place of his destination. 

December IQth. News was brought in to-day that a 
large band of Apaches were ravaging the country to 
the west ; and that after attacking and robbing several 
haciendas, they had proceeded southward towards 

December 19th. The town was thrown into a state 
of alarm, by the news of a fight between a body of 
Mexicans and the Apaches before referred to, in which 
the former were completely cut to pieces. It seems 
that an effort had been made to arouse the inhabitants of 
Hermosillo to their danger, and induce them to send 


out a force to expel the invaders. But strange as it 
may appear, this town, with a population of thirteen or 
fourteen thousand souls, could muster only forty hired 
men to send against a party of about one hundred In- 
dians, who were ravaging the richest portion of the 
State, murdering its inhabitants, destroying their crops, 
and robbing the haciendas and ranchos of their most 
valuable stock. These men were armed and mounted, 
and sent in pursuit under the command of an officer. 
They came up with the enemy about five leagues from 
Ures ; but what was the result ? The Indians imme- 
diately made a desperate charge upon the Mexicans, 
putting the whole body to flight, and killing about 
thirty of their number. The officer and a few others, 
who succeeded, after being hotly pursued, in making 
their escape to Ures, reported themselves to be all 
that survived ; but a few stragglers subsequently turn- 
ed up. The officer's own excuse was, that his men all 
fled ; and it being useless for him to attempt to cope 
with the enemy single handed, he was obliged to run 
with the rest to save his life. I saw a gentleman a 
few days after, who visited the spot where the fight 
took place. The Mexicans were all lanced in the hack, 
and their muskets, which were found lying by their 
sides, had not teen discharged. The Apaches care lit- 
tle for fire-arms themselves : they can neither keep them 
in order nor obtain ammunition ; and as long as they 
have nothing but Mexicans to contend with, their 
bows, arrows, and lances, are quite sufficient. 

December 20th. A band of fifty Indians of the Coco- 
Mar icopa tribe, from the river Gila, arrived in town 
this morning. The object of their visit was to com- 


plain to the Governor of the attacks made on them by 
the Yumas of the Colorado and the Apaches, and to 
beg that they might be furnished with fire-arms to de- 
fend themselves against the common enemy. These 
Indians had a totally different appearance from any I 
had seen. They were entirely destitute of clothing 
save a breech-cloth of coarse stuff' of their own manu- 
facture. They wore no covering on their heads, and 
were without any protection to their feet. Their hair 
seemed never to have been cut, but was clubbed up in 
a great bundle, and hung about half-way down their 
backs. In front, it was cut off straight across the 
eye-brows, while the earlocks were suffered to fall 
down by the side of their faces. On being informed 
by Governor Cubillas, that there was one among them 
who spoke Spanish well, and acted as the iuterpreter 
of the band, I requested that he would do me the favor 
to send the man to me. He readily complied with my 
request, and in the after part of the day the Indian, 
with several of his naked companions, presented him- 
self at my quarters. I kept them a couple of hours, 
taking down a vocabulary of their language ; at the 
end of which time, they exhibited much drowsiness, 
and said they were hungry. I sent out for some bread, 
but asked them to wait until I got through before eat- 
ing it. They could not be restrained, however ; and 
finding it no easy matter to take down their words 
while they were munching their food, I was obliged to 
give up the task, with a request that they would call 
on me again in the morning. These men readily an- 
swered all my questions about the Gila ; and I learned 
from them that, a short time before, a party of Ameri- 


cans had passed through their villages, which, from 
their account, I believed to be the engineers of the 
Boundary Commission. One of them had several notes 
from Americans who had passed through their country, 
certifying to their friendly disposition, and requestiug 
kind treatment for them in return. 

December 21st My Indian friends were at my quar- 
ters by eight o'clock, accompanied by several of their 
companions, three of whom, claimed to be "capitans," 
or chiefs. Whether they were or not, I cannot say, 
but believe they styled themselves such, in order that 
they might with more propriety claim some presents 
from me, and particularly some recommendations. 
These certificates they prize very highly, on account of 
the favors they procure from emigrating parties pass- 
ing through their country. I gave testimonials to the 
three who called themselves chiefs, stating that they 
were friends of the Americans, and requesting my coun- 
trymen to treat them kindly and deal fairly with them. 
I attached to each note a large red seal and a piece 
of red ribbon, which decorations pleased them much. 
These acquisitions were carefully enveloped in several 
wrappers, and then put into a deer-skin pouch, which 
was fastened around their waists. Having completed 
my vocabulary, I presented them all with some bread, 
and also several yards of heavy cotton cloth, which they 
expressed a desire to have above every thing else. 
They gave me their names as, She-pan-wa-ma-ki, JSum- 
su-il-lya, and Ghe-ma-dul-ka-keo. 

The pleasing news arrived by courier that Tanori, 
the Opate chief, who went in pursuit of the Apaches 
before mentioned, had given them battle this morning 


and completely routed them, killing many of their num- 
ber and recapturing the animals which they were driv- 
ing off. 

December 23d This morning, when walking near the 
town, I perceived a cloud of dust on the plain, which I 
soon discovered to proceed from an immense drove of 
animals approaching. As they drew nearer, I saw that 
they were escorted by a body of armed men on horse- 
back and on foot, who seemed to be in high glee, and 
who were saluted and cheered as they passed by the 
crowds who met them. They proved to be the horses 
and mules recaptured by Tanori from the Apaches, 
which were now being brought to Ures, to be reclaimed 
by their respective owners. I was subsequently in- 
formed by the Governor, that there were eight hun- 
dred and sixty animals altogether, and that among them 
were some hundreds of the finest stock in the State. 
They were placed in the plaza, where the owners on 
identifying them, and paying three dollars each, were 
permitted to take their property. This charge was to 
defray the expense of driving them in, and for sub- 
sisting them. 

An incident connected with the expedition of Ta- 
nori, deserves to be mentioned here. At the first fire 
of his men six Apaches were killed, and one was left 
by his companions mortally wounded. This man sat 
alone on the plain near a tall petahaya, the blood trick- 
ling from his wound and gasping for breath ; but at the 
same time, clenching in his death-grasp his full drawn 
bow. His pursuers were thus kept at bay, knowing 
the certainty with which an Apache warrior marks his 
victim. The Opates were all armed with muskets or 


escopettes ; and they discharged no less than ten shots 
at the dying Indian, not one of which took effect. At 
length an Opate lad of sixteen boldly advanced with 
his gun to within a short distance of the wounded man. 
The quick eye of the Apache was fixed on his antago- 
nist as he approached him. The young Opate levelled 
his gun and quickly pulled the trigger. The Apache 
at the same instant let fly the never-failing and deadly 
arrow, which, skimming over the plain, buried itself 
deeply in the neck of the warrior boy, and laid him 
dead on the spot. The ball of the Opate was equally 
sure. Both were slain. 

December 24zth. Dr. Vassbinder, a physician from 
Canada, attached to the Mexican army, arrived to-day 
from Arispe, bringing the painful news that General 
Garcia Conde, the Mexican Commissioner, had died at 
that place on the 19th instant. I learned from him that 
the General, whom I left at Santa Cruz on the 29th of 
September, was taken ill a few days after, and lay for 
somet ime at the point of death. On getting somewhat 
better, he was with much difficulty carried to Arispe, 
where he could have the benefit of a physician, besides 
having more comforts than in such a filthy, miserable, 
and unhealthy place as Santa Cruz. But the journey 
was too much for him : he suffered a relapse which baf- 
fled his attendant's skill, and died on the 19th instant. 
It was a singular coincidence that the General, who had 
left Arispe when quite young, had not visited it again 
until he was taken there to die ; and that this event 
should occur in the very house in which he drew his 
first breath. General Conde was but 47 years of age. 
He was an accomplished engineer, and a most amiable 


and estimable gentleman. Our intercourse had been 
of the most friendly and agreeable character ; and he 
had ever shown himself ready to aid the American 
Commission, while we were within the jurisdiction of 
Mexico, in any way that lay in his power. He had 
filled many important positions under his government, 
among which I may mention those of Secretary of War 
and the Navy, Director of the Military College, and Dep- 
uty from the State of Sonora to the Mexican Congress. 

I received a letter to-day from Dr. Webb, announc- 
ing the safe arrival of his party at Magdalena. He gave 
me an account of an American named English, whom 
he had found at the village of Rayon, where he was 
kept in bondage by a Mexican. This man, who pro- 
fessed to be of a respectable family, had found his way 
into this country during the war, and had been taken 
into custody by the man he was still with. He stated 
that he was not permitted to communicate with his 
friends, and had no means of escaping. I made the 
facts known at once to Governor Cubillas, and request- 
ed him to investigate the matter, which he assured me 
he would do immediately. 

December 25th. General Flores, Commander of the 
military forces in Sonora, Colonel Garcia, a gentleman 
whom I had before seen in Arispe, and Captain Morfi, 
arrived from Arispe and called on me in the evening. 
From them I learned additional particulars of General 
Conde's illness and death. 

December 26th. Time was now hanging heavily on 
my hands. I felt extremely anxious to get off, but was 
still unable to sit upon a horse. The usual mode of 
travelling through Sonora is on horseback, while pack- 


mules do the transportation of goods. There are a few 
wheeled vehicles here, and among them some very 
fine private carriages, which are used between this and 
Hermosillo, where the road is good ; but they cannot 
be employed except with difficulty in traversing other 
parts of the country, owing to continuous mountain 
chains which intersect the State on the north, east and 
south. Governor Cubillas had interested himself much 
for me, and promised to apprise me of the first oppor- 
tunity that offered to go to G-uaytaas, or even to Her- 
mosillo. To-day he called with the pleasing news that 
in three days I should have a conveyance. 

It did not take me long to prepare for my journey ; 
for when I left my party on the San Pedro in Septem- 
ber I expected to be back in eight or ten days, and 
consequently made but small provision for my trip. My 
wardrobe therefore was very meagre. A portable cot, 
bedding, and a single camp stool, with my fire-arms, 
constituted all my other effects. I now found it ne- 
cessary, to procure some cooking utensils, and a few 
articles for a camp chest, as there are no hotels in the 
country, or any public places of entertainment. Besides 
these, I had to get an animal for my servant to ride, 
and two pack-mules, for transporting the luggage, and 
an arriero to attend to them. 

458 URES TO 



Leave Ures — Rich valley — Tapahui — Don Manuel Gandera — His large es- 
tates — Successful farming — Statistics of his haciendas — Silver mine — 
Reach Hermosillo — Governor Aguilar — The Oeris Indians — Ohtain 
their language — Account of the tribe — Mode of poisoning their wea- 
pons — Description of Hermosillo — The Sonora River — Productions of 
the valley — Business relations — Sketch of the town — Departure — Meet 
French emigrants — Description of the country — Its barrenness — 
Business-like mode of milking cows — La Oieneguita — Buena Noche — 
Reach Guaymas — Mr. Robinson, the U. S. Consul — Description of Guay- 
mas and its Oampo Santo — Its harbor — Commerce — Intense heat — 

December 2Wi. The carriage which my excellent 
friend Governor Cubillas had -secured for me, was at 
my door in good season this morning. It was a small 
Scotch built vehicle, of an antiquated form, with two 
wheels, and very comfortable. Taking leave, there- 
fore, of my kind and attentive physician, Dr. Camp- 
bell, and his amiable wife and family, to all of whom I 
shall ever feel grateful, I was helped into my chaise 
and bade adieu to Ures, where I had been confined 
eighty days. I still felt very weak ; but my appetite 
was good, and I hoped the exercise of riding would 
be beneficial. 


The road from Ures is excellent for several miles, 
extending along the bottom land of the Sonora River, 
which is one continuous cornfield, to the village of 
Guadalupe, six miles distant ; after that, still keeping 
in or near the valley, and often crossing the stream, 
the road becomes more hilly, and in many places there 
are bad gulleys. It is then hard and smooth to Tapa- 
hui, twenty-seven miles from Ures. 

I reached this place, the residence of Don Manuel 
Gandera, the former governor of Sonora, at 4 p. m. 
Having a letter of introduction from Governor Cu- 
billas, I drove at once to his hacienda. I was kindly 
received by Mr. Rohnstadt, a German, the head mana- 
ger of the extensive estate of Don Manuel, who 
was absent, having a few days before gone to Guay- 

The whole village of Tapahui belongs to Senor 
Gandera, who is reputed to be the richest man in the 
State. He cultivates with great success many miles of 
the luxuriant bottom lands of the Sonora River, which 
runs directly through his estates, and from which they 
are irrigated. The houses are of adobe, well built and 
spacious. They stand chiefly around or immediately 
adjacent to a large plaza, and are exclusively occupied 
by the overseers and employees of the owner. 

Mr. Rohnstadt accompanied me over the place, 
and cheerfully answered all my inquiries. And on 
my expressing a desire to know the statistics of the 
estate, which showed the most successful farming I had 
yet seen in Mexico, he invited me into his office. 
Requesting me to be seated, he took down the farm 
book, and turned to the result or balance of the pre- 

460 URES TO 

vious year, from, which he permitted me to make the 
following extract : 

8000 fanegas (about 21000 bushels) of wheat, 
2000 " ( " 5250 " ) of corn, 
500 " ( " 1050 " ) of beans [frijoles], 
250 " ( " 656 " ) of barley, 

100 " ( " 262 " ) of pease, 

70 wagon loads of sugar cane, 
From 60 to 80 loads of soap, worth $30, each. 

In addition to the above there was raised a variety 
of vegetables, which were furnished to his laborers, 
and never sent to market. Such were the agricultu- 
ral products of the estate. 

Don Manuel, besides being an agriculturist, is one of 
the most extensive raisers of stock in the country, as 
the following list of animals now on his farms will show : 

16,000 sheep, 
700 mules, 
108 stud horses, 
1620 breeding mares, 
348 cow calves, 
355 bull calves, 

62 young mules, "j 
269 mare colts, y product of last six months. 
165 stud colts, ) 

The wool gathered from the sheep is manufactured 
into serapes, or blankets. Of these there were made 
by hand during the year nearly fifteen hundred, vary- 


ing in value from four to eighty dollars each. Mr. 
Rohnstadt showed me piles and bales of these articles 
ready for market, many of them of brilliant colors 
and fine texture. The serape is the principal garment 
of the Mexicans. It serves them as a covering at 
night, and is alike worn to protect them from the cold 
and from the rain. A considerable demand therefore 
exists for the inferior qualities among the hands on the 

One would suppose that the cultivation of such 
large farms, and the raising of so many horses, mules, 
and cattle, would be sufficient for one man to attend to 
successfully ; but Don Manuel does not stop here. He 
is the owner and successful operator of a large cotton 
mill near Tapahui, which I had not time to visit, and 
of a silver mine. 

The books of this gentleman were admirably kept, 
exhibiting a correctness of system which would be 
creditable in the counting-room of one of our New- 
York merchants. Mr. Rohnstadt kindly permitted me 
to make the following abstract of the list of employees 
on his establishment. 

414 laborers, 
52 muleteers, 
19 mechanics, 
23 herdsmen, 
16 shepherds. 

This list embraces those only who were employed 
on the farms. 

He possesses also a silver mine, which had been 

462 URES TO 

worked for only five months. In it are employed 
eighty-five men, who receive from six to twelve dollars 
a month and their subsistence. The last monthly pay- 
ment for wages and rations amounted to thirteen hun- 
dred and fifty-nine dollars. ($1,359.) The produce 
of this mine the first five months after it was opened, 
amounted to fifteen thousand nine hundred and fifty- 
six dollars. ($15,946.) 

The comforts and conveniences about the house, I 
cannot say were in keeping with the magnificent scale 
of the establishment. But this is excusable in a place 
situated so far in the interior, when even on the coast 
at the port of Guaymas, the luxuries which wealth 
usually commands are not to be obtained. The enjoy- 
ment of these must be left for the next generation. 

December 30th. Left Tapahui after breakfast. The 
natural road continued down the valley, hard and 
smooth, and was quite equal to a well made turnpike. 
Passed several haciendas and ranchos, with extensive 
and highly cultivated grounds. The chief products 
seemed to be wheat, with a limited proportion of corn 
(maize) and beans. Little attention seemed to be paid 
to the cultivation of other cereals, fruit, or vegetables. 
The heat was very oppressive, there being no top to 
the chaise ; but as the road continued good, I hurried 
on, and at 4 o'clock reached Hermosillo, distant twen- 
ty-seven miles. I drove at once to Senor Majocci's, an 
Italian, to whom I had a note from Mr. Thurber. Mr. 
M. gave me an excellent room in his house, to which 
I had my baggage transferred and my cot set up, and 
furnished me with other conveniences to render me as 
comfortable as possible. 

. GUAYMAS. 463 

December Zlst Mr. John P. Brodie, a Scotch gen- 
tleman, called on me early this morning. Mr. Brodie 
has been in Mexico thirty years, during which time he 
has resided chiefly in Sonora. He is a gentleman of 
intelligence, of thorough business habits, and is much 
respected by the Mexicans, as well as by all who come 
in contact with him. Mr. B. like many foreigners 
who come here, married a Mexican lady ; and by her he 
has had nine children, most of whom are living. Don 
Jose Aguilar, who was Governor of the State, and re- 
sided in Ures'whenI arrived there, also called this 
morning. He informed me that on the Monday follow- 
ing, he should set out for Guaymas, and politely offered 
me a seat in his carriage. This was as pleasing as it 
was unexpected ; for the conveyance I had had was 
only to this place, and I had to take my chance of get- 
ting to Guaymas the best way I could. I should else 
probably not have got off under a week or ten days, 
nor would the means offered have been so well suited 
to my feeble condition. I had now only to obtain 
pack mules to carry my baggage, and arrieros to take 
charge of them. But to relieve me of all trouble, 
Senior Aguilar kindly offered to make arrangements for 
these also. 

Desiring to employ my time to some advantage 
during my stay here, I requested the aid of Governor 
Aguilar in procuring an Indian of the Certs tribe from 
whom I could obtain a vocabulary of his language. 
This he had promised me to do when I met him at 
Ures ; and at once he despatched a messenger to a 
pueblo or village of these Indians near Hermosillo. 
The person sent for made his appearance in a few 

464 URES TO 


hours, accompanied by several young Mexican gentle- 
men of education, who remained during the interview, 
manifesting much interest in my undertaking, and as- 
sisting me in obtaining the words correctly. The native 
was a good looking man, about thirty years of age. 
His complexion was fair, and resembled that of an 
Asiatic rather than an American Indian. His cheek- 
bones were high, and his head round and well formed, 
though the anterior portion was somewhat angular and 
prominent. His hair was short, straight, and black. He 
was a full-blooded Ceris, and came originally from the 
island of Tiburon. In about three hours I completed 
the vocabulary quite satisfactorily to myself, and some- 
what to the surprise of my Mexican friends when they 
heard the Indian so readily recognise each word as I 
read it off in his native tongue, and then give me the 
Spanish equivalent. I found it an extremely harsh 
language, very difficult to express with our letters, and 
totally different from any aboriginal tongue I had heard 

The Ceris tribe of Indians, with the exception of 
those which are christianized and reside in the village 
near Hermosillo, occupy the island of Tiburon in the 
Gulf of California, north of Guaymas. Although be- 
lieved not to number over one hundred warriors, they 
have long been the dread of the Mexicans between 
Guaymas and Hermosillo, as well as the country to the 
north, on account of their continual depredations and 
murders. Their practice is to lie in wait near the tra- 
velled roads, and there surprise small and unprotected 
parties. Their place of abode being on an island 
or the shores adjacent, and their subsistence being 


chiefly gained by fishing, they have no desire to steal 
animals, which would be of no use to them ; nor do they 
take any prisoners. To murder and plunder small par- 
ties of Mexicans, seems to be their only aim, and every 
arrow or lance thrown by the Ceris that pierces the 
skin, causes death, as all are poisoned.* Many expe- 
ditions, fitted out at a great expense, have been sent 
against them ; but, though commanded by competent 
officers, all have failed. The number being so small, 
they manage when pursued to conceal themselves where 
they cannot be found. The island of Tiburon, as well 
as the main land adjacent, is exceedingly barren and 
destitute of water ; hence parties have suffered greatly 
in the campaigns against them, without accomplishing 
any thing. I was told that the government had al- 
ready expended more than a thousand dollars for every 
male of the tribe. The last serious attack of these peo- 
ple was made upon a gentleman travelling to Guaymas 
in his carriage with his family and attendants, embrac- 
ing sixteen persons. They were surprised in an unfre- 
quented place and every soul put to death. 

* I was told that the Ceris tipped their arrows with poison ; but 
how it was effected I could never learn. Lieutenant Hardy, who made 
a voyage up the Gulf in 1826, visited Tiburon, and had some intercourse 
with this people, thus describes; the process : " They first kill a cow, and' 
take from it its liver ; they then collect rattle-snakes, scorpions, eenti- 
pedes, and tarantulas, which they confine in a hole with the liver.. The 
next process is, to beat them with sticks, in order to enrage them ;: and 
being thus infuriated, they fasten their fangs and exhaust their venom 
upon each other, and upon the liver. When the whole mass is in a state 
i)f corruption, the women take the arrows and pass their points through 
it ; they are then allowed to dry in the shade." — Travels in Mexico.. 
London, 1829. p. 298. 
vol, i. — 30 

466 URES TO 

My attentive friends here, particularly Don Fran- 
cisco Velasco, to whom. I feel under great obligations, 
were quite desirous to know my opinion respecting 
the Ceris tribe and their language ; but it was impos- 
sible for me, without a close philological comparison 
with other Indian languages, to arrive at any correct 
conclusion as to whether this people are allied or not 
to other aboriginal tribes. This curiosity arose from a 
.notion, which I found to prevail in many parts of So- 
nora, that the Ceris were of Asiatic origin, in proof of 
which, some statements were made too improbable to 
repeat. This idea seems to have originated from the 
resemblance between their name and that given by the 
ancients to the Chinese. 

Hermosillo is the modern name for the old presidio 
of Pitic, which belonged to the company of Horcasi- 
tas. It is thirty leagues distant from the nearest point 
of the shores of the Californian gulf, and thirty-six 
leagues from the port of Guaymas, which lies nearly 
south. It is by far the largest and finest city in the 
State. In 1840, its population was 13,665, including 
about 2000 Yaqui Indians, who are the laborers of the 
town and dependent upon it. It was believed to con- 
tain 4000 more in 1845, when the essay was written 
from which I have obtained these facts.* It has a large 
trade with Guaymas ; from there it receives all its 
goods, which are distributed from Hermosillo through- 
out the State ; and in return, the products of the State 
are chiefly concentrated here for transportation to that 

* Noticias estadisticas del Estado de Sonora, par Jos6 Francisco 
Velasco. Mexico, 1850. 


place. The climate is dry and exceedingly hot, the 
thermometer ranging during the day from 95 to 98° 
Fahrenheit, and often exceeding 100°. Notwithstand- 
ing this intense heat, the place is considered healthy, 
it being free from the epidemics which too often 
accompany such high temperatures. This may, in some 
respect, be owing to a westerly breeze, which springs 
up in the evening, as at San Francisco and other places 
on the Californian coast, and brings with it the cool air 
from the ocean. This sudden change of temperature 
doubtless arises from the intense heat on the desert 
during the day, when the air in a rarified state passes 
upwards into the higher regions. As the sun descends, 
the air rushes in from the ocean to fill up the vacuum. 
This will account for the prevalence of the south-west- 
erly winds at certain seasons throughout the country 
between the Gila and the Californian gulf, and the mois- 
ture they bring with them. The winter is moderate and 
the temperature variable, sometimes reaching 90 de- 
grees. The weather to-day, 31st December, would be 
called hot in New- York ; and I noticed that even the 
inhabitants sought the shady side of the street. 

The town lies in a valley almost ten miles in 
length by four in width. It is closely hemmed in on 
the east by a mountain or rugged pile of rocks com- 
posed of crystallized carbonate of lime, of a beautiful 
texture, in which white and cream color predominate, 
relieved by dark and deep indentations. It is 
called La Sierra de la Campana, or the Bell Moun- 
tain, from the fact that the sonorous material of 
which it is composed emits a sound when struck. Se- 
veral small ranges of mountains, known as the Colorado 

468 URES TO 

and Chanati sierras, encompass the valley, through 
which flows the Sonora River, furnishing sufficient 
water to irrigate the lands adjacent. This river, which 
rises near Cocospera, has two great branches; the 
eastern or Ures branch generally bears the name of 
Sonora River. The western branch has several appel- 
lations, but it is usually called the San Miguel. They 
unite near Hermosillo, and, after flowing half way to 
the gulf, lose themselves in a cienega, or swamp. Along 
the margin of the city runs a large acequia, which is 
intersected by others in various parts, furnishing an 
abundant supply of water, and receiving in return an 
immense amount of dirt and offal. It is surprising to a 
stranger to behold the diverse uses to which these 
acequias are applied. They are in one place a public 
bathing tub ; at another half a dozen women may be 
seen washing ; a little further on an animal is being 
butchered ; and at the next house the people are 
taking up water for cooking. 

Taken as a whole, Hermosillo is the best built 
town I had seen in Sonora. Some of the private dwell- 
ings are large and substantial, with pleasant and tasty 
exteriors, and handsomely furnished. No houses show- 
ing the bare mud walls are seen in the principal 
streets, as is usually the case in El Paso del Norte, but 
all are colored, and often ornamented with columns 
and pilasters in good taste. The court-yards are filled 
with orange trees and flowering shrubs. The Alame- 
da, or public walk, which extends along the margin of 
the town, is not yet remarkable for its beauty ; time, 
however, is only wanted to render it a place of great 
attraction. It is well filled with trees, among which 


is the beautiful palm. This park possesses an histori- 
cal interest, having been the scene of a bloody action 
during the civil war between Urrea and Gandera. 

The valley produces annually about 25,000 fanegas 
(65,600 bushels) of wheat; 10,000 fanegas (26,250 
bushels) of maize, and about 5000 fanegas of other 
cereals. Vegetables are not cultivated to any con- 
siderable extent ; onions, sweet potatoes, chili, and 
pumpkins constituting the entire supply. It is true 
there may be some others cultivated, but they are not 
common. Cacahuates (pea-nuts) are also raised here. 
Of fruits there is a great abundance, including grapes, 
melons, figs, oranges, limes, lemons, citron, peaches, 
and pomegranates. The figs are very fine; but the 
people do not know how to preserve them. The 
guava and plantain have lately been introduced, and 
are found to succeed. But the vine is most exten- 
sively cultivated; not less than 1500 barrels of brandy, 
of 125 cuartillos each, are annually made. Of the 
quantity of wine made I have no knowledge ; but that 
it is superior to that of the Rio Grande there is no 
question. Cotton was formerly cultivated, and found 
to be of an excellent quality ; but the plants became 
diseased, and it is not now raised to any extent. The 
sugar cane does not flourish here ; nevertheless, the 
Ceris Indians of the Pueblo cultivate enough to sup- 
ply themselves with panoche (sugar) ; and it has lately 
been tried near the coast with so much better success 
that it is believed it may yet be produced in a suffi- 
cient quantity to supply the State, if not for exporta- 
tion. There is an extraordinary fertility in the bottom- 
lands of Sonora ; though I do not know that they sur- 

470 URES TO 


pass in this respect similar lands in California, the pro- 
ducts of which astonish the agricultural world. It is 
stated by Velasco, in his statistical account of Sonora, 
before alluded to, that the product of wheat at the 
hacienda of the Senores Astiaseranes of Horcasitas is 
from two hundred and fifty to three hundred to one ; 
and that the haciendas at Tapahui, of which I have 
before given the details, are equally productive. 

Hermosillo is a place of extensive business rela- 
tions with all parts of the State, and has some large 
wholesale establishments for the sale of dry goods. 
There are scarcely any American goods sold here, 
though admitted to be of a superior quality. Yet I 
saw in the warehouses here, as well as in Ures, various 
cotton goods of British manufacture, bearing the stamp 
of the Blackstone and Lowell mills. French manufac- 
tures, too, are common. In fact, the entire market of 
Sonora seems to be supplied by England and France. 

Some little is done here in the mechanic arts, more, 
indeed, than in any place we had yet visited. The 
working of leather is one of the most important 
branches of manufacture in the country. It is made 
up into saddle covers, leggins, and other articles, 
which are figured, inlaid,, and embroidered with much 
taste and skill. A fine saddle cover, consisting of a 
piece of leather covering the entire saddle, and hang- 
ing down nearly to the stirrups, often costs a hun- 
dred dollars. 

The old mission church still remains in good pre- 
servation, but its adornments are without much beauty 
or interest. A new one, at the opposite end of the 
town, that of Nuestra Sefiora del Carmen, is quite neat 


and beautiful, both in its exterior and in its internal 

January 1st, 1852. All the shops were open to- 
day, the same as on other days of the week. Several 
of the young gentlemen with whom I had become 
acquainted called on me this morning; and hearing 
me express a desire to take a sketch of the town, one 
of them procured a carriage and took me to the 
nearest elevation. I went to several parts of the town, 
but could not obtain a good view of the place and the 
picturesque scenery around it at the same time. I 
finally selected a spot facing the Sierra de la Campana, 
which gave a tolerable view of the town as a whole, 
and the rugged mountain at its side. The Alameda 
extends for a good distance along the front of the 
town, concealing, to a great extent, its finest houses. 
It is impossible to represent in one view any of those 
Mexican towns built upon plains, as they usually are. 
The streets being narrow, and compactly built, and 
the houses generally of one story, there is presented 
to the eye, when seen from an elevation, an unbroken 
mass of flat roofs, with few picturesque objects to 
break the monotony. Every town, it is true, has its 
church, which is crowned by towers and a dome. 
These I have always endeavored to introduce in my 

In the evening I dined with my obliging friend 
Mr. Brodie, who cashed my draft on the government, 
thus enabling me to repay Governor Cubillas for his 
advances. He also procured for me both Mexican 
and American gold ; so that I should not be troubled 
as to money in whatever territory I should find myself. 

472 URES TO 

January 2d. Left Hermosillo at two, p. m., with 
Senor Don Jos6 de Aguilar and his brother, in a com- 
fortable covered carriage, affording a good protection 
from the heat of the sun, which was very great. Pack 
mules and arrieros, with our baggage, and extra mules 
for the carriage, accompanied us. Soon after leaving, 
we met a party of one hundred and fifty Frenchmen, 
who were emigrating from California, and destined, as 
I afterwards learned, for Cocospera, with the design 
of establishing a colony there, as well as of working 
some mines. They were a rather hard-looking and 
determined set of men, with long beards and sunburnt 
faces. Each one carried a musket or rifle, besides 
which many had pistols.* 

The country, after leaving the immediate vicinity 
of the river, is miserably poor. The road, however, is 
excellent ; and though it has been travelled for two 
centuries without a day's labor being expended on it, 
it is still smooth, level, and hard, the soil being a fine 
gravel. No continuous range of mountains intervenes 
between here and the coast. Detached and short 
ranges of moderate elevation rise here and there, all 
of which are avoided. It may with more propriety 
be termed a desert plain than a mountainous region. No 
streams exist in the thirty-six or thirty-seven leagues 
between Hermosillo and Guaymas, and the only water to 
be found is procured from wells ; hence there is no 
village or settlement on the route, and but few 

* This is the same party which subsequently had a difficulty with the 
government, set the laws at defiance, and closed by taking possession for 
a while of Hermosillo. Their leader afterwards committed suicide. 


ranchos. The following itinerary embraces all the 
ranchos along the road, which are the common stop- 
ping places for passing travellers and trains of mer- 
chandise : 

Hermosillo to El Pozo (the well), a rancho, 7 leagues, 
El Pozo to La Palma (the palm), a rancho, 6 " 

La Palma to El Pozito (the little well), 4 " 

El Pozito to La Cieneguita (little marsh), 4 " 

La Cieneguita to Noche Buena (goodnight), 7 " 

Noche Buena to La Palmita (little palm), 3 " 

(now abandoned for want of water) ; 
La Palmita to Jesus Maria, . .3 " 

Jesus Maria to Guaymas, . 3 " 

37 leagues. 

We halted at El Pozo, a well, with an ordinary 
rancho, being unable to proceed further, as our extra 
mules had not come up. At this place we made our 
supper with what we brought with us ; after which we 
spread our blankets within the walls of the rancho, and 
there passed a comfortable night. The transportation 
of goods between Guaymas and the interior, is almost 
entirely upon pack mules. We met many atajos, or 
trains, loaded with various sorts of merchandise, des- 
tined for the inland towns, or bound for the port with 
loads of flour. 

January 3d We had intended taking an early start, 
so as to finish the day's march early ; but the arrieros 
were slow, and in spite of all our efforts, we did not 
get off till after 8 o'clock, when the heat of the sun was 
already uncomfortable. The road was as good as yes- 

474 URES TO 


terday, and the country as barren and uninteresting. 
The road sides were covered with various kinds of stunt- 
ed trees and thorny shrubs, interspersed with numer- 
ous varieties of the larger kinds of cacti, some of which 
we had not before seen. Passed the ranchos of La Pal- 
ma and El Pozito, and stopped at that of La Cieneguita 
for the night, fourteen leagues from our starting-place. 
The ranchos are ordinary farm houses of adobe, though 
pretty large. Each has a well, and supports more or 
less cattle and mules, according to the facilities for 
grazing and obtaining a supply of water. These estab- 
lishments seem to be planted in the most forlorn-look- 
ing situations, where there is not a shade tree or a foot 
of cultivable ground. The whole business being the 
raising of cattle, their position is fixed solely with re- 
ference to grazing, which the cattle are said to find 
in plenty among the distant hills ; though a passer along 
the road is at a loss to conceive where an animal can 
find wherewithal to sustain life. The cattle came up 
to the rancho for water, which is generally furnished 
from wells, and is raised by the bucket and sweep, or 
by the still more primitive apparatus of a raw-hide 
bag and rope, which is worked by hand, without the 
assistance of any mechanical power whatever. 

Nothing could be obtained at these places but milk, 
and that only in the morning : I inquired for eggs 
and chickens in vain. Senor Aguilar, being well ac- 
quainted with the people from his frequent journeys 
between the two towns, was always well received and 
supplied with the best the rancho could furnish ; yet 
tortillas and milk were all that could be got even under 
these circumstances. 


The milch cows are managed by the women, and 
a peep into the corral at, milking time would highly 
amuse our Yankee dairy people. The calves, being in 
an adjoining corral, are let in among the cows one or 
two at a time. These of course run for their mothers. 
The women then tie together the hinder legs of the 
cow thus designated, and while one holds a gourd 
shell, the other divides her time between drawing the 
milk and beating away the calf, which, not liking this 
appropriation of his breakfast, charges repeatedly upon 
the invaders and renders the process any thing but a 
quiet one. The cows are milked but once a day, and 
give not more than a quarter as much as our well-fed 
cows at each milking. Very little butter is made in 
the country, the milk being mostly manufactured into 
a sour and most indigestible article of the consistence 
of gutta percha, which is dignified with the name 
of cheese. Generally nothing is cultivated at these 
ranchos, the corn and flour consumed about them being 
brought from a distance. 

January Mk. We did not get off any earlier than 
yesterday. Passed the rancho of Noche Buena with- 
out stopping. The next rancho, La Palmita, had been 
abandoned, its well having dried up. We had there- 
fore to continue our journey to that of Jesus Maria, 
making altogether about thirty-nine miles. Here we 
watered. Soon after we arrived, my servant came in 
with the unpleasant news that my pack mule had given 
out at Noche Buena, and that it would be necessary 
to procure and send back a fresh one to bring in my 
baggage. A Mexican was immediately sent back with 
another animal ; but as the distance was six leagues, 

476 URES TO 

and it was already three o'clock, I feared that my bag- 
gage would not reach Guaymas till very late, if at all, 
that night. We now proceeded on our journey, the 
face of the country continuing as before described ; 
and soon after we experienced the most delightful sen- 
sation of inhaling the fresh and balmy air from the 
ocean, to which we were now drawing near. None 
but those who, like myself, have spent a year and a 
half on the parched and barren wastes of the interior 
of our continent, or similar arid plains in Asia or 
Africa, can form any idea of the delight with which 
one first breathes the moist and invigorating ocean 

A range of low mountains runs along the coast, the 
summit of which assume most fantastic shapes. The 
most conspicuous of these peaks are the Tetas de Cobra 
(Goats' teats), two elongated cones rising side by side. 
Passing this range, we came in sight of the great wa- 
ters of the Gulf of California, and riding a few miles 
further, we entered Guaymas. 

Wishing to avail myself of the first vessel to Mazat- 
lan, I immediately visited Mr. J. A. Robinson, the U. S. 
Consul, to ascertain whether any were soon to sail for 
that port. Mr. R. informed me that he had a schooner 
which had just cleared, and then lay aground in the 
harbor ; that she would probably get oft* with the rise 
of the tide, about 9 o'clock in the evening. I told him 
the situation of my baggage, when he kindly offered 
to detain his vessel till morning, if necessary. Mr. Ro- 
binson then invited me to his house to dine, an invita- 
tion which I accepted; after which he provided me 
with a room and bed, to which I soon retired, and 


passed a most refreshing night after the fatigues of the 

Guaymas stands on the eastern shore of the Gulf 
of California, in 28° north latitude, and 110° 40' long, 
west of Greenwich. It is completely shut in from the 
sea as well as from the winds. Mountains protect it 
on the main, while islands with elevated hills surround 
it by sea. Next to Acapulco, it is the best port on the 
Mexican coast. The entrance from south to north is 
formed by the island of Pajaros on the east, and by the 
islands of San Vicente and Pitayas and the main land 
on the west. There is another entrance, called Boca 
Chica, from the south-east, having the island of Pajaros 
on the south and the shore of Cochori on the north, 
which terminates at the Motto Ingles, or English Ham- 
mock. From the principal mouth to the mole is about 
four miles, and the bay is of about the same extent. 
The bottom is so muddy, that ships which are obliged 
to remain some time, find it necessary to raise their an- 
chors every week or so, to prevent their becoming too 
deeply imbedded to be extricated. The soundings 
commence with seven fathoms, and diminish gradually 
to two, at the side of the mole. 

The bay abounds in fish of a great variety and deli- 
cacy ; also with shrimps, crabs, lobsters, and oysters. 
But plentiful as these are, they are not easily purchas- 
ed, and the market has no regular supply. The Yaqui 
Indians, who are the chief fishermen, after catching a 
lot, live and gamble upon the proceeds until the last 
avo (a small copper coin) is spent ; when they are too 
often obliged to pawn their blankets for the means of 
hiring a boat to go and catch more. 

478 URES TO 

The town stands close on the margin of the bay, 
occupying a narrow strip about a mile in length and 
- not exceeding a quarter of a mile in width, when the 
mountains rise and hem it closely in. It is entered 
from the north by a single avenue, which forms its 
main street ; and this is intersected by short lateral 
ones leading to the bay. The houses are built of stone, 
brick, and adobe. Those in the best parts of the town 
are plastered, which gives them a respectable appear- 
ance. There are several families of wealth here, whose 
houses are handsomely furnished, and who enjoy the 
luxuries of a residence near the coast. The streets are 
lighted at night, a convenience not noticed elsewhere. 
The place is supplied with water from wells in the 
suburbs, which is brought through the streets in leath- 
ern bags on the backs of donkeys. It is somewhat 
brackish, and at first unpleasant to the taste ; but it is 
considered wholesome, and one soon becomes accus- 
tomed to it.* Below the town is the only neat ceme- 
tery we had seen in the country. The Campo Santo 
is generally a small inclosure in which bodies are al- 
lowed to moulder without any thing to mark the graves, 
the bones of former tenants being thrown out to make 
room for the new comers. Here are a number of neat 
monuments, and the ground is kept with some show of 
order. On the " feast of the dead" the bells toll day 
and night ; and in the evening, the graves and monu- 
ments are surrounded with lighted candles, and visited 

* For the facts relating to Guaymas and Hermosillo, not derived from 
personal observation during rny brief stay in these places, 1 am indebted 
to Velasco's " Noticias Estadisticas del Estado de ScHiora." 


by the friends of the departed. These kneel by the 
graves, while the priest, with a choir of singers, goes 
from one to the other, singing as many prayers for the 
souls of the departed as the survivors choose to pay 

Although Guaymas has one of the finest ports in 
the world, and is a key to the interior of Sonora, it 
never enjoyed much trade until within a few years. 
The recent settlement of California, has doubtless given 
to its commerce a new impulse. Several ships and brigs 
were at anchor in the harbor, while others lay at the 
wharves ; and the British steamer Driver, which is kept 
on the Pacific coast to facilitate and protect British 
commerce, makes monthly visits to this port. In 1845, 
there were exported from here only 8000 cargas of flour, 
of 300 pounds each. There are now many large and 
well filled warehouses of goods, such as would make a 
respectable appearance in one of our great commercial 
cities. Some of the retail dry -goods stores, too, are 
elegantly fitted up, and exhibit piles of the richest 
silks, satins, linens, and embroideries. I was shown by 
its owner through one of the largest establishments, and 
regretted that there was scarcely an article of American 
manufacture in the entire stock. Every thing was either 
English or French. I saw many articles which we can 
produce of equal or better quality, and quite as low ; 
but it seems that our commerce has not yet found its 
way up the California Gulf. The market is so much 
better at San Francisco, that every thing rushes there. 

As the soil in the vicinity is dry and stony, there 
are no gardens or cultivated spots in or near the town. 
Every thing comes from the interior. Maize, beans, 

480 URES TO 

and vegetables are brought from San Antonio and San- 
ta Rosa, about ten leagues distant ; while from the 
Yaqui River are procured sheep, fowls, and some grains. 
Shut in as Guaymas is from the sea, and on every side 
encompassed by hills or mountains, the heat is intense. 
In the summer the mercury often rises to 104° Fahren- 
heit in the shade, and from June to September it is sel- 
dom below 96°. During this season, when the wind 
blows from the desert plains of the north, it is so dry 
and parched as to be almost intolerable, destroying 
furniture and every thing else of wood. Scarcely a 
soul is then seen in the streets, every one remaining 
quietly within doors, and passing his time with as little 
exertion as possible. The place was formerly consid- 
ered healthy ; but of late, it has suffered terribly from 
epidemics, one following the other, until the town, 
in the brief space of two years immediately preceding 
my visit, lost one third of its population. Cholera and 
bilious fevers have been the chief epidemics. 

In order to ensure the arrival of my baggage, which 
had not yet made its appearance, and about which I 
began to feel much uneasiness, Mr. Robinson kindly 
sent his most trusty servant on a fast horse back to meet 
the arrieros, and hurry them forward. I was desirous, 
while the man was absent, to go back to the hills and 
take a sketch of the place, but was afraid to expose 
myself to the sun, besides not wishing to delay the 
vessel any longer, should my baggage happen to ar- 
rive. At half-past three o'clock, Mr. Robinson's mes- 
senger returned. He had actually ridden back nearly 
to Noche Buena, where my mule gave out, when he 
met the lazy arrieros smoking their cigarritos and 


moving along at a snail's pace. They had been dozing 
away the morning, and, if left to their own devices, 
would not have arrived in two days. 

After taking farewell of Mr. Robinson's family and 
my kind friend Senor Aguilar, to whom I shall ever 
feel under many obligations, I went on board the 
Maria, a mere pilot boat of fifty-seven tons burden, and 
we immediately put to sea with a fair wind. 

VOL. I. 31 




Voyage down the Gulf of California in a pilot boat — Barren coast — Island 
of Carmen — Loreto — Reach Mazatlan — Its picturesque appearance — 
Description of the town — Americans here — Embark for Acapulco — Land 
at San Bias — Visit to Mr. Horn, the Captain of the Port — Ride to the 
old town — Its beautiful position — Ruined condition — Visit an old for- 
tress — Leave San Bias — Description of the coast — Volcanoes of Colima 
— Land at Manzanillo Bay — Its unhealthy climate — Laguna — Cargo 
discharged — Stupidity of Custom House official — Leave without papers 
— Reach Acapulco — Chinese hotel — Beautiful harbor — Castle of San 
Carlos — Unhealthiness of the place — Extreme heat — Noxious insects — 
Description of the town — Ancient commerce — Departure for San Diego 
— Crowded state of the steamer — Voyage up the coast — Arrival at San 
Diego — Rejoin the Boundary Commission. 

January 6th. Our little vessel was much crowded 
with passengers, and I was compelled to put up with 
very uncomfortable accommodations. But my anxiety 
to reach San Diego, made me willingly submit to any 
inconveniences, not absolutely injurious to health, to 
accomplish my purpose. The wind was fresh from the 
north-west ; and all the passengers, fourteen in num- 
ber, were sick, except myself and an old voyager. 
I spent the day very pleasantly in reading some New- 
York papers kindly furnished me by Mr. Robinson. 
These were a delightful treat; for I had not heard 
from my family or the government, or seen an Ameri- 


can paper for more than six months ; and the latest 
intelligence I had had was of the date of May, 1851, 
or eight months previous. 

January 7th. The north-west wind continuing, 
we made rapid headway under a close-reefed mainsail 
and foresail. Our little craft, which had seen rough 
weather in the harbor of New- York, scudded beauti- 
fully before the fresh breeze, half the time covered 
with water. The shores of the gulf were occasionally 
seen in the dim distance, rising abruptly from the sea, 
barren and desolate. In some places sandy beaches 
and desert plains intervened between the sea and the 
mountains. Saw the islands of Carmen and Catalina 
on our right. Behind the former lies the town of Lo- 
reto, the principal place on the Californian peninsula. 
As little has ever been written about this part of the 
world, I append a brief account of this town and its 
adjacent country, which will convey a correct idea of 
the peninsula.* 

"Loreto stands in a vallev of about two or three 
thousand feet wide, surrounded by wild and sterile 
mountains, of which that called " La Giganta " is the 
highest and least picturesque. There are two gardens 
in the place, in which the vine, peach, fig, quince, and 
date are cultivated. A considerable quantity of wine 
is annually made. Peaches and pears are dried as well 
as figs : the dates are preserved. 

" The situation of Loreto being in a valley of very 
limited extent, in which there is only space for the 
town and two gardens, and there being no possibility 

* Hardy's Travels in Mexico. London, 1829, p. 244. 


of raising either wheat or maize, the inhabitants are 
obliged to depend upon Sonora almost for subsistence. 
Another circumstance renders the tenure upon which 
they exist very precarious. The hills which surround 
the town are chiefly composed of primitive rock, 
granite, and sandstone intermingled, with scarcely any 
soil upon them. They thus absorb but little mois- 
ture ; and during the heavy rains, which happily do 
not occur more than once in five or six years, the rush 
of water through every part of the town, as it comes 
down the ravine, is so great, that instances have been 
known of some of the houses having been actually 
carried away. 

" To prevent the occurrence of this danger, the 
former Franciscan friars, many years ago, erected a 
stone wall, to break the force of the water, and give 
it a new direction towards the sea. In successive 
years the rains washed this barrier away. Another 
was built, which shared the same fate ; and at present 
there is but a slight trace that it ever existed. 

The inhabitants of Loreto are of a dingy, opaque, 
olive green, which shows there is no friendly mixture in 
the blood of the Spaniard and the Indian. They appear 
to be the same squalid, flabby, mixed race, which is 
observed in almost every part of the Mexican coasts. 
The population does not exceed two hundred and fifty 
souls. The annual importation of corn from Sonora, 
is from 800 to 1000 fanegas. The exportations consist 
of soap, preserved fruits, wines, spirits, pearls, tortoise- 
shell and salt ; the latter being obtained in a lake on 
the Island of Carmen. • 

January 8th. Our hopes of reaching Mazatlan to- 


day, were frustrated by a calm. Our little craft was 
tossed about by the dead swell much more than when 
ploughing the waves in a gale. Our Mexican passen- 
gers called on San Antonio to send us a breeze, but he 
heeded not their invocations. We now stood in towards 
the shore, and thus caught the land breeze, which wafted 
us onward with speed. 

January 9th. Came to anchor in the harbor ofMa- 
zatlan at 8 o'clock ; soon after which, we were boarded 
by the captain of the port. This gentleman, after look- 
ing over the list of passengers, gave us permission to 
land. I lost no time, therefore, in making my way to 
the shore, accompanied by Colonel Moreno, of the 
Mexican army, who was a fellow passenger. This gen- 
tleman, who was educated in the United States, and 
speaks English like a native, was of great service to me, 
being well acquainted at all places on the coast. Be- 
sides, his position gives him influence wherever he 
goes. The Colonel took me to a hotel kept by a Chi- 
naman, where we took rooms. The bill of fare here 
displayed would compare favorably with that of our 
American hotels, and the cooking was excellent. No- 
ticing several Chinamen about, attending to menial 
duties, I inquired of the landlord, if his cook was a 
countryman of his ; but was told in reply that he was a 
German, to whom he said he paid $40 a month, which, 
in his estimation, was a very high price. The area or 
inclosure of the hotel had been converted into a cock- 
pit, in which were some thirty or forty game cocks, 
each fastened by the leg to a small stake. It was well 
fitted up and protected by an awning. 

Mazatlan has a very picturesque appearance, whe- 


ther approached from the sea, or by land. On the 
north side of the bay or roadstead is a long neck, or 
narrow range of rocky and fantastic looking hills, their 
sides exhibiting projecting crags and deep indenta- 
tions, which the ocean has been lashing for ages. The 
extreme end of this promontory, which it should more 
properly be termed, is higher than the other portion, 
and of a sugar loaf form. Beneath these hills on the 
verge of the sea, the houses are thickly crowded toge- 
ther. But the best portion of the town lies on more 
level ground, and directly facing the roadstead. On 
the south are rocky islands defending the harbor in 
that direction ; but there is no protection from the west 
and south-west. Here the harbor is open to the broad 
Pacific ; and when the wind is from that quarter, the 
sea rolls in with great force, from which ships can find 
no security. Serious disasters have happened here 
during south-westerly gales. 

The town contains from ten to twelve thousand 
inhabitants. Its streets, though narrow, are well laid 
out, and lined with large and well built houses. More 
taste and luxury are looked for in commercial towns 
than in those of the interior, and accordingly we found 
Mazatlan to be considerably in advance of any town 
we had yet seen. The houses are more substantial and 
elegant, though unfortunately, in consequence of its 
narrow streets, they show but to little advantage. The 
style is wholly that of the old Castilian, with short 
columns, Moorish capitals, and ornaments. Many houses 
present long lines of colonnades. There are many fine 
and well filled shops. Those containing drygoods are 
neatly fitted up ; and, in the richness of their goods, 


vie with the fashionable stores of New York. The 
Spanish ladies are fond of dress ; and I have no doubt 
the manufacturers of Lyons sell as rich silks in Mexico 
as they do in Paris or London. 

In the afternoon I walked out to the suburbs for 
the purpose of making the accompanying sketch. I 
chose for my site an old burial place. In the fore- 
ground, are a number of small houses built of sticks 
and adobe, with pointed roofs, thatched with palm 
leaves. In the middle of the picture, less distinct, is 
the best portion of the town ; while the harbor and 
northern promontory are seen beyond. 

I found a number of Americans here, some of whom 
had been waiting a month for a steamer for San Fran- 
cisco. Three days before my arrival, the regular mail 
steamer reached the offing, and sent a boat on shore 
for the mail, but refused to receive any passengers, on 
the ground that she was full. These people were 
greatly disappointed, and complained bitterly. Many 
had expended their last cent, and were now in great 

January 10th. Called on Mr. Gatton, the U. S. Con- 
sul, who received me kindly and extended many civili- 
ties to me. Mr. G., who is from Virginia, informed 
me that the income of his office was five hundred dol- 
lars less than his expenses. Board, office rent, postages, 
&c, were very high. He remained solely for the benefit 
of his health. 

As the chances were against my getting a steamer 
for San Diego, I was advised to take a sailing vessel for 
Acapulco. At that place all the Californian steamers 
stop for coal ; and as they arrive every week, I should 


not, at the farthest, be detained many days. To take a 
sailing vessel direct for San Diego or San Francisco, 
would require a voyage at this season, when north- 
westerly winds prevail, of thirty or forty days. I there- 
fore determined to make the long voyage of some six 
hundred miles directly out of my way, as the quickest 
route to my place of destination, and at once inquired 
for a vessel. Fortunately for me, there was one to 
leave in the evening, and I lost no time in securing 
a passage. 

Early in the evening I went to the place of embarka- 
tion on the beach ; from which, as the tide was low, each 
passenger had to be taken in the arms of the Mexican 
boatmen, some forty or fifty yards to the boat. The 
vessel was more than a mile from the shore, and we 
were not a little puzzled how to find her among the 
number that lay in the offing. After much inquiry, 
however, we succeeded. Her name was the Miguel ; 
and, though sailing under the Mexican flag, she was 
commanded by Captain Nye, a very clever navigator, 
hailing from New Bedford, Massachusetts. 

Knowing the thievish propensities of the lower class 
of Mexicans, I directed my servant to keep a sharp 
look out for my baggage, while I stepped to the cabin 
to secure a berth. Soon after he was ordered to bring 
me my desk ; and though absent less than a minute, 
he found on his return, that the boat which had brought 
us had pushed off, and a portion of my baggage was 
gone. The moment my servant had left them, they 
took what they could lay their hands on, jumped into 
their boat, and disappeared in the dark. Pursuit was 
useless. The articles lost were not of much value ; but 


it was provoking, notwithstanding all my care, to be 
robbed by this rascally people wherever I went. 
While speaking of my misfortune, one of the passen- 
gers said his silk handkerchief had been taken from his 
coat pocket by the man who brought him in his arms 
to the boat. Two other passengers, on examining their 
pockets, found that they had sustained a similar loss. 
I could not help laughing, informing them that I had 
taken the precaution to secure a fine silk handkerchief 
I had just bought, by putting a couple of oranges in 
my pocket above it. "You had better look," said 
my friends, "and see what your precautions amount 
to." I did so, and found I had been operated upon 
as effectually as the rest. 

January 11th — l?>tli. These days were spent at sea, 
bound for San Bias,, distance one hundred and twenty 
miles. We had expected to reach there in one day, 
but were retarded by light winds and calms. No inci- 
dent occurred worthy of notice. We had some ten or 
twelve passengers, all Mexicans but three. Of these, 
one was a German, Mr. Mejer, a merchant of Colima, 
Mr. Augustus Harcourt,* a Scotchman, and myself. Mr. 
Harcourt had just arrived at Mazatlan from El Paso 
del Norte, by way of the city of Chihuahua, and gave 
me information from that place to a late date. 

January lWi. This morning we entered the har- 

* This Mr. Harcourt was the same person who was formerly con- 
nected with the United States Quarter-master's office at Santa Fe, New 
Mexico, where he was guilty of some irregularities, such as placing the 
name of the Quarter-master to drafts on the government, to the serious 
loss of sundry merchants who cashed them, as well as to the Quarter- 
master himself. 


bor of San Bias, at seven o'clock, and before we came 
to anchor were boarded by Mr. Horn, the captain of the 
port. Had that officer been a Mexican, he would not 
have visited us in an hour. All the passengers but 
three left us here. 

Went on shore at ten o'clock, and met a fellow 
passenger coming out to our ship to invite me to 
breakfast with Mr. Horn at twelve o'clock. I accepted 
the invitation, and soon after paid my respects to this 
gentlemanly and accomplished officer. Mr. H. is by 
birth a Swede, and is married to a Mexican lady. Both 
are quite young. Their house is built of poles, after 
the manner of the country ; the intermediate spaces 
are filled up with mud, which is plastered and white- 
washed. The foundation is of stone, very thick, and 
rising about three feet above ground. On this rest 
the poles. These support a very tall and pointed roof 
of the same material, covered with cocoa-nut leaves 
and grass, closely bound together, so as to be imper- 
vious to water. The whole is open from the floor to 
the apex of the roof. This species of roof and thatching 
is universally adopted here, as well as at other places on 
the coast ; and by giving a large space for the free cir- 
culation of air, it renders the house cool and comfort- 
able. Mr. Horn's house is elegantly fitted up with well 
selected engravings, a variety of books in the Swed- 
ish, English, French, and Spanish languages, and fur- 
niture adapted to the climate. I have nowhere seen 
more taste and better arrangements for comfort in a 
hot climate than here. 

After a sumptuous breakfast, Mr. Horn ordered 
three horses to the door, and accompanied Captain 


Nye and myself to the old town of San Bias, three quar- 
ters of a mile distant, on the summit of an isolated 
rock from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet 
high. This rock, which rises abruptly from a low, 
swampy, and partly wooded plain, is inaccessible on 
three sides. The northern side, where we ascended, 
has been cut away ; and a winding path, of easy ascent, 
leads to the top. This road is closely lined with a 
dense forest of cocoa, banana, plantain, and other tro- 
pical trees, together with a thick undergrowth of 
flowering plants and vines, which are closely bound 
together, and prevent all ingress. The bold, rocky 
mass presents a most picturesque appearance. Portions 
of it exhibit a bare perpendicular front, while others are 
covered with a most luxuriant vegetation. The sum- 
mit, which is about five hundred yards square, was 
formerly occupied by the town ; but, owing to the 
unheal thiness of the situation, it has been deserted and 
suffered to fall to decay. The business of the town 
has long been transacted at the Play a, or shore, where 
we landed ; but the custom-house has lately been 
removed to the spacious and commodious buildings on 
the rock, and the ruined tenements around seem 
about to become the abodes of men once more. 

On reaching the summit of the rock, one first 
enters a large and elegant building of stone, with a 
colonnade around its inner side, and stuccoed with a 
snowy-white cement. On the outer side is a redoubt, 
built on the very verge of the rock, which is here per- 
pendicular. Cannon of large calibre are arranged in 
the ports. This building, which seems to have been 
abandoned for a long time, is now undergoing repairs, 


and is used as a public warehouse, and for offices of 
the customs. 

At the other end of the rock is a fine old church, 
built of dark gray stone, with some six or eight bells 
suspended in its ruined towers. The roof of the edi- 
fice has fallen in, and nothing now remains but its bare 
walls, which, owing to the solid manner in which they 
were built, are in good preservation. In front of the 
church is the plaza, which is completely inclosed by 
substantial stone buildings, some with tasty colonnades. 
Many of these buildings are in good preservation, while 
others are in a more or less ruined state. I noticed 
that some were undergoing repairs. 

The custom-house was for many years at Tepic, 
twenty-five miles distant, of which San Bias is the port. 
It remained there on account of the unhealthiness of 
San Bias, which in former years suffered greatly from 
epidemics. The plain of which I have spoken is often 
under water ; and the exhalations from it cause malig- 
nant fevers, besides giving birth to myriads of mos- 
quitoes and sand-flies. During the rainy season, from 
June to November, the place is uninhabitable, owing 
to the torrents of rain, which destroy the houses, and 
perfectly insulate the rock. San Bias affords meat, 
various kinds of fruit, and vegetables, of which our 
captain laid in a supply. A stream comes in at the 
plaza, which affords a good boat harbor ; but outside, 
ships are obliged to anchor in the open roadstead, 
where they are exposed to westerly gales. 

Returning from this beautiful spot, Mr. Horn placed 
at my disposal the government barge, for the purpose 
of crossing the bay to an old ruined fort, from which 


I wished to take a view of the town. There had been 
a large fortress here, with bastions; but it was now, 
and seemed long to have been, in a ruinous condition. 
Cannon of large calibre lay near the ports, where they 
were originally placed, just discoverable beneath the 
dense shrubbery and weeds which filled the inclosure. 
Their heavy carriages had entirely rotted way. I 
seated myself on an old gun, but had no sooner com- 
menced my sketch than I was enveloped with a cloud 
of sand-flies and mosquitoes. In vain did I endeavor to 
beat them off, my friends lending me their assistance. 
My face, hands, and paper were literally covered with 
the pests. I submitted with as good a grace as I 
could, until the smarting pain of their bite compelled 
me to relinquish my task without obtaining the object 
for which I came. I returned to the house of my 
courteous friend, with whom I took tea, and at ten 
o'clock returned to the ship. The present population 
of San Bias is two thousand. 

January 15th. At sea, having sailed during the 
night. Found our brig far more comfortable, in con- 
sequence of the reduced number of passengers. 

January 17th. At sea, with a light wind off shore. 
In the afternoon found ourselves off the volcanoes of 
Colima, bearing east. Near the shore was a large and 
remarkably white rock, rising abruptly from the sea 
as high as the mast head. By this our captain was 
enabled to find the opening to the bay of Manzanillo, 
to which place we were now destined. There is a great 
uniformity in the thousand miles of Pacific coast which 
I have traced. A chain of mountains extends the entire 
length, and often rises abruptly from the shore. Even 


when a few miles intervene between it and the coast, 
the appearance from the sea is the same. Hence the 
openings of the various ports and harbors are difficult 
to detect, except where some bold promontory juts 
out into the ocean, or some island or rock is found 
near. The opening of Manzanillo Bay would not be 
observed by a passing vessel. But the bearings of the 
volcanoes, two well defined and lofty peaks, some forty 
miles in the interior, and the rocky island alluded to, 
conduct the mariner to the spot. We reached the 
entrance just at dusk ; but as there was no chart of 
the bay, and several bold rocks showed themselves, 
the captain thought it prudent to stand off till morn- 

January 18th. The morning found us becalmed 
some ten miles from shore. This was provoking, but 
there was no help. Fortunately in the afternoon a 
light breeze sprang up, and at five o'clock we came to 
anchor in the Bay of Manzanillo. 

January 19th. The custom-house officer would not 
permit the cargo to be discharged until the ship's 
papers were sent to Colima, where the collector resides. 
When this was intimated last evening to Mr. Mejer, 
the owner, he procured mules and set off at once to 
attend to the matter personally. Colima lies on the 
opposite side of a low range of mountains which cannot 
be crossed ; so that though but thirty miles distant in 
a direct line, it is between ninety and a hundred by 
the mule path, which is the only route to it. The day 
was exceedingly hot, so that I did not leave the vessel. 

January 20th. To-day, although it continued very 
hot, I went on shore ; the place consists of some twenty 


houses built of poles, with high pointed roofs, and 
thatched with cocoa and plantain leaves. These houses 
are ranged in a line along the beach, and are occupied 
by a cadaverous-looking people, who seem to have 
scarcely energy enough left to keep body and soul to- 
gether. Found a German here, the commercial agent 
of Mr. Mejer, who spoke English well. I saw also two 
custom-house officials, who appear to be gentlemanly 
men. Beside these three, the whole population con- 
sists of the lowest class. 

The Bay of Manzanillo, though little known, is one 
of the finest on the coast, being equally well protected 
against all winds. The place has no direct trade, and is 
merely resorted to as the port of Colima, which can be 
approached from the sea only through this bay. There 
is no arable land near save small garden spots about the 
houses, the hills rising directly from the sea and from 
the bay. Hence its admirable harbor, which is far 
superior to those of San Bias and Mazatlan, cannot be 
taken advantage of. Within a quarter of a mile is a 
lagoon and morass about two miles in width, and sixty 
miles in length. During the dry season this lagoon 
becomes nearly empty of water, when a pestilential 
effluvia arises which renders it extremely dangerous to 
all who live on the bay, and even to the crews of the 
ships which stop there. This, of course, will prevent 
any considerable settlement from ever being made 
here. Instances have occurred where every soul on 
board a ship has been taken sick and half of them have 
died, while stopping here a few days to discharge a 
cargo. My German friend cautioned me not to eat 
any fruit while here, even an orange, and to avoid the 



night air. The plantains, bananas, and oranges laid in 
by me at San Bias, have therefore been put aside to 
rot or be thrown overboard. The cheapness of these 
fruits on this coast is such, that a single dollar will buy 
enough for a voyage to San Francisco, allowing for a 
daily supply as much as one could eat. 

Manzanillo Bay. 

January list A courier arrived very unexpect- 
edly from Colima, with the ship's papers and permission 
to discharge the cargo. This news was received with 
much joy. A lighter was soon alongside, with a host of 
half-naked Mexicans, and all hands at once set to work. 

This morning I took my gun and returned to the 
laguna, to see if there was any game. I found a log 
canoe, and coasted along its banks for a mile or more. 


There was a great abundance of ducks, pelicans, cranes, 
and other water fowl ; but I was so much exposed, 
that I could not get a shot. I now landed to try my 
chance from among the mangrove trees and jangle 
which grew on the banks. But here the difficulty of 
walking was so great, that it was at the hazard of my 
life that I attempted to penetrate the thicket ; and I 
was glad to get out as quick as possible, reach the 
higher and dry ground, and retrace my way to the 
village. Besides I felt that there was some danger in 
exposing myself in so unhealthy a spot during the 
intense heat of noonday. This laguna had a most 
enchanting appearance. The exuberance of the nu- 
merous tropical plants which grew upon its shores, 
with the hills rising on every side, made it seem like a 
vast amphitheatre. 

I noticed on the rugged hills at the entrance of the 
bay a number of the petahaya, or giant cereus, differing 
from the specimens of that remarkable plant which I 
had seen in Sonora, and which I therefore supposed to 
be another variety. These grew to about twenty or 
twenty-five feet in height, and had numerous and more 
slender branches. The rocks were so steep, and so 
thickly covered with cacti and dense shrubbery, that I 
made no attempt to approach nearer than to take a 
sketch of a perfect specimen, of which I had a fine view. 

January 2 2d Towards evening when the sun had 
got behind the hills, I went to some rocke at the end of 
the village and took a sketch. The cargo having now 
all been taken out, the captain went on shore for his 
papers, leaving orders to get the vessel ready for sea, 
when another difficulty occurred. The officer affirmed 
vol. i. — 32 


that the papers required the signature of the " Captain 
of the Port," who was at Colima, and positively refused 
to give them or sign them himself. A messenger was 
accordingly dispatched to that place again, and ordered 
to ride all night. A strong fair wind which was now 
blowing made this unexpected delay the more annoy- 
ing ; but we had no alternative and must quietly submit. 

This Colima, which so long detained us, is the capi- 
tal of a small state of the same name. It is said to 
contain 30,000 inhabitants, or half the population of 
the State. The city is remarkable in a historical point 
of view, having been founded by the " Great Captain" 
or conqueror of Mexico, Cortez himself, between the 
years 1522 and 1524, after his return from Spain. The 
town of Zacatula, twenty -five leagues to the south on 
the coast, was also founded by Cortez. This is a place 
of little importance, containing only about two thou- 
sand inhabitants. 

January 25th. In the afternoon the messenger 
returned from Colima, bringing the papers for which we 
had been detained. The captain went on shore to get 
them, when it appeared that the stupid officer, by mis- 
take had sent the passenger roll instead of the manifest 
and clearance papers to the collector. He was for dis- 
patching the messenger again with the proper papers ; 
but the patience of Captain Nye, as well as of the pas- 
sengers, was now exhausted, and the captain declared 
that he would dance attendance no longer. We had 
been here a week, when a single day would have suf- 
ficed to discharge the portion of the cargo that was to 
be left at the place. The captain returned at once to 
the ship, and soon after got under weigh. 


January '61st Our voyage of six days had been 
attended with no incident. Calms and light winds 
prevailed, while the heat was extreme. The coast was 
mountainous and barren, presenting the same general 
features as before described. At 4 o'clock, p. m., we 
reached Acapulco. I lost no time in getting on shore ; 
and instead of being attracted to a public house styled 
the American Hotel, where I saw large numbers of my 
countrymen, I went with my fellow-passenger to the 
Canton Hotel, kept by Quanahu, a native Chinese. This 
was the very perfection of neatness. The house, like 
all others in the place, was of a single story, with a large 
court in the centre. The floors and courts were all 
laid with brick or cement, and the walls were either 
colored or whitewashed. The landlord had long lived 
on the coast, and spoke Spanish well. Of English he 
knew nothing. His attendants, who were all Chinese, 
wore their native costume. Mr. Quanahu, like most 
foreigners who settle in the country, had taken to him- 
self a Mexican wife, a genteel pretty -looking woman. 
During the evening, this lady, with a number of her 
young female friends, took their seats at one of the 
refreshment tables, and seemed to enjoy themselves 
mightily over their wine, cakes, ice-cream, and dulces ; 
while Mr. Quanahu and his Chinese waiters supplied 
their wants as carefully as those of any of his guests. 

February 1st. Acapulco has one of the finest har- 
bors in the world. It is perfectly land-locked, and may 
be entered with ease by two passes. The most direct 
is by the Boca Chica, between the points of Pilar and 
Grifo, and is from 250 to 280 yards in width. The 
other is between the Isla de la Roqueta and the Pun- 


ta de la Bruxa, a mile and a half in width. The hills 
which encompass the bay, rise abruptly; hence the 
water is very deep, and ships of the largest burden 
may approach within a few yards of the shore. A 
thousand vessels might lie within the harbor, and be 
amply protected against any wind. A stranger ap- 
proaching the town by land, except just opposite the 
entrance, would imagine that he saw before him a 
placid mountain lake, rather than an arm of the sea. 
So completely inclosed is the town with high hills 
immediately behind it, that it enjoys little benefit from 
its proximity to the sea. On the western sMe, the bay 
is separated from the ocean by a narrow isthmus, about 
four hundred yards in width, where, it is said, nature 
intended forming a third entrance, but this has never 
been accomplished. One of the enterprising governors 
of Acapulco conceiving the idea of completing what 
nature had begun, actually caused an opening to be 
made through the mountain, which, as it answers the 
purpose of admitting the air, is acknowledged to be of 
essential service. This opening is called " U Abra de 
San Nicolas. 

At the extreme point of the town commanding the 
entrance to the bay, is the Castle of San Carlos, a for- 
midable looking fortress. It is built of large blocks of 
stone, and is surrounded by a deep trench redoubt, 
but, like every thing else in the country, is much out 
of repair. The walls have been rent in several places 
from top to bottom by earthquakes ; and where large 
portions had fallen entirely, the stones had simply been 
piled up again. Around this fortification I saw hun- 
dreds of well dressed people taking an afternoon walk, 


balf in width. The hills 
bay, rise abruptly; hence the 
■ arid ships of '. Cretan 

within a few yards of the shore. A 
jssels might lie the harbor, 

[j protected against any wind. A £ . ap- 

proaching the -town by land, except just o the 

. would that he saw before him a 

:•. a i of the 1 

rilh high 
its proximity 

can by a narrow isthmus, about 
I yards it is said, nal 

third en this has m 

plished. One g govei 


tused an opening to be 
rough t - the 

aowledgedto 1 
: called " L Ahra de 

he town comm the 

-tie of San Carlos, a for- 
rge bloc: 
trench redoubt, 
is much out 
:pair. 1 n rent in s< : aces 

q top to o ; and 

tons had. fallen e le stones ha 

d this fortii hun- 





to enjoy the fresh sea air which a westerly breeze 
brought in. East of this, a bay makes up, and adjoin- 
ing it is a marsh, where large numbers of small fish are 
left ; these, becoming putrid under a tropical sun, help 
to engender the fevers which at certain seasons prevail 
here. Bilious cholera morbus is also common ; and the 
Mexicans from the interior, as well as the numerous 
Americans who now stop here on their way to Califor- 
nia, fall victims to these diseases. But these are not 
all the troubles of the Acapulcans : earthquakes and 
hurricanes often occur ; the dry and burning atmos- 
phere is almost insupportable ; while noxious insects 
and reptiles infest dwellings or assail the inhabitants 
wherever they go. Baron Humboldt, who spent some 
time at Acapulco, and who has investigated the cli- 
matic influences of tropical America more than any 
other writer, does not hesitate to give his opinion, as 
the result of a comparison, that " the heat is more op- 
pressive, the air more stagnant, and the existence of 
man more painful at Acapulco, than at Yera Cruz."* 

The town stands on a narrow strip of land less than 
half a mile in width, on which there is but little soil. 
The houses are built of stone as well as of adobe, and 
covered with red tiles. Those of the better class, are 
whitewashed, and have a neat appearance ; many have 
little niches in their walls, in which is placed a crucifix 
or image, in honor of some saint. I noticed many 
houses in a state of dilapidation : there is also an old 
ruined church, its walls and tower still standing, which 
-is said to have been destroyed by an earthquake. A 

* Political Essay on New Spain. Vol. IV. p. 145. 


new and much finer edifice has since, been built. In 
the skirts of the town, and partly on the mountain's 
side, is a class of houses built of poles, and having high 
pointed roofs thatched with palm and cocoa-nut leaves, 
that there may be a freer circulation of air ; some of 
them are not inclosed, a few posts supporting the roof. 
It was near one of these primitive dwellings, a little 
elevated above the town, that I selected a spot from 
which to take a sketch of the place. I had here a good 
view of the whole town, its fine harbor, and the Castle 
of San Carlos, in the distance. A rank tropical vege- 
tation concealed a considerable portion of the town, 
and extended nearly to the water's edge ; among the 
varied foliage, the graceful cocoa-nut tree is most pro- 
minent ; the palm, plantain, and banana, too, are thick- 
ly dispersed throughout it. 

The market is open every morning from daylight 
until ten o'clock, in a corner of the Plaza. Fruits and 
vegetables of every variety are spread out ; and the nu- 
merous passengers from the Californian steamers, usual- 
ly rush to the market to lay in a stock of the delicious 
fruits there offered for sale. Change being scarce, 
small cakes of soap are used instead, as in other parts 
of Mexico. 

It is surprising that this town has not become mo- 
dernized, by the immense number of Americans and 
others, who stop here on their way to California. Every 
steamer remains for a couple of days to take in coal, 
when the passengers generally land and endeavor to 
spend some of their money, few as are the inducements 
to do so. There are a number of hotels, one of which, 
called the American, is kept by a German, and is any 


thing but what its name imports, both in appearance 
and the character of its company. The name attracts 
thousands, although the house kept by the Chinaman, 
called the Canton Hotel, is altogether superior in ac- 
commodations. One reason why the place does not 
improve, is, that no encouragement is given to foreign- 
ers to settle here, but quite the contrary. The gov- 
ernment is jealous of them ; and from what I heard and 
saw of the conduct of my countrymen, I fear it had too 
good cause to be so. 

Acapulco owed its former importance to its com- 
merce with the East Indies through the Phillippine 
Islands. This commerce was limited to a single ship 
of large burden, whose cargo was estimated to be 
worth from £300,000 to £400,000 sterling. When 
the news reached Mexico that she was off the coast, 
the merchants crowded to Acapulco from all parts. 
The exports from Mexico consisted of silver, cochineal, 
cocoa, wine, oil, and Spanish wool. The imports were 
chiefly China silks, India muslins and cottons, spices 
and aromatics, jewelry, and other articles of luxury 
and taste. 

February 2d. The mail steamer "Oregon" and 
the propeller " Monumental City " arrived this morn- 
ing from Panama for San Francisco. The former had 
four hundred and seventy-two passengers, the latter 
four hundred and fifty. After examining the latter, 
and finding her very crowded and filthy, I took a boat 
and boarded the Oregon. She too was crowded, but 
was clean and in excellent order. Captain Pierson, on 
my stating to him my position as a government officer 
charged with important duties, consented to take me, 


if I would put up with such accommodations as he had 
to offer. Every place was filled, even to the tables 
and floors of the cabins. The decks, too, had been 
monopolized ; and the only place he could give me to 
sleep in was a hammock suspended in the rigging 
eight or ten feet above the deck. As the weather was 
exceedingly hot, I gladly accepted the accommodation. 
Returning to the shore, I hastily packed up my lug- 
gage, and was again on board the steamer at 3 o'clock 
p. m. At four we put to sea with a light wind. 

February 3d-8th. At sea. Moderate winds from 
the north, continued during these six days. When off 
Cape St. Lucas, the weather suddenly changed, becom- 
ing so cool that I was obliged to give up my aerSil 
sleeping place. By close stowing, room was made for 
me on the floor of the lower cabin, where I remained 
the rest of the voyage. I was also obliged to change 
all my clothing, and substitute thick flannels and an 
overcoat ; noth withstanding which, I had an attack of 
fever and ague. There was a good deal of sickness 
on board, chiefly fevers. Some had contracted disease 
from exposure when crossing the Isthmus of Panama, 
others by imprudence in eating fruit. A passenger 
from Cornwall, England, died and was launched into 
the sea, the burial service being first read by a Metho- 
dist minister. Passed a whaleman, the ship Carlton 
from New Bedford, sixteen months out. She sent her 
boat to us with a present of a large turtle, and requested 
some newspapers in return. A lot was accordingly 
contributed by the passengers, and sent to her. This 
is considered a good whaling ground, and we noticed 
many of these monsters of the deep sporting around us. 


The character of the coast, whenever we were near 
enough to see it, was much the same as that from 
Mazatlan to Acapulco. Barren and rugged mountains 
rose abruptly from the sea, exhibiting a most dreary 
and forbidding aspect. 

February 9th. We entered the bay of San Diego 
last night, about 11 o'clock. I was landed by a boat 
at the Playa, and took lodgings at a small house near 
the beach. This place is situated just within Point 
Loma, and is about a mile from the sea. The steamers 
merely run in and leave the mail. Sometimes they are 
obliged to take in a supply of coal to enable them to 
reach San Francisco, still nearly six hundred miles dis- 
tant. I had now made a sea voyage of 1300 miles from 
Guaymas to Acapulco, and of 2000 miles from the lat- 
ter place to San Diego. The first trip occupied twenty- 
six days including stops ; the latter but five days. 

After breakfast I procured a wagon to take me and 
my baggage to the town of San Diego, five miles up 
the bay. Here I learned that the surveying parties 
from the Gila had preceded me, and were three miles 
farther up at a small settlement. Continuing my ride, 
I reached the village at 10 o'clock, where I was first 
met by my excellent friend Colonel Craig, commander 
of our escort. He informed me that they had felt much 
anxiety on my account, as nothing had been heard 
from me after I left Santa Cruz about the 1st October; 
and fears were entertained that we had all been cut 
off by the Indians. No word had been heard from 
Dr. Webb and his party, which left me at Ures on the 
16th December. The parties under Mr. Gray and 
Lieutenant Whipple had arrived on the 10th of January. 


They were compelled to suspend the survey of the 
Gila about sixty miles from its mouth, in consequence 
of shortness of provisions. They then hurried through 
to the Colorado, and thence across the desert to San 
Diego. All were in good health, though they had 
suffered some hardships like the rest of us. Thomas 
Harper, one of Lieutenant Whipple's party, was 
drowned in the Colorado. 







Arrival of Dr. Webb and his party — Dr. Webb's report of his journey — 
State of the Survey — Reduction of the Commission — Advance of wages 
— Diegeno Indians — H'hana Indians — Leave for San Francisco — Its fine 
harbor — Extensive commerce — Great activity and enterprise of its peo- 
ple — Origin of its name — Contrast between the wants of the Californians 
in 1170 and 1850 — Trip to the Geysers — Benicia — Application to Gen. 
Hitchcock for an escort to the Commission on its journey back — Yal- 
lejo — Napa village — Napa valley — Its beauty and fertility — Mr. Yaunt 
— His history — Red-wood trees — Their great height — Enormous yield 
of vegetables — Thermal springs 



Mount Helena — Eussian inscription — Digger Indians — Dwellings — Mode 
of fishing — Dress — Pass the mountains — Meet bear hunters — Mode of 
cooking without utensils — Pluton River — The Geysers — Description of 



these phenomena — Effect of the water on wood — Extent of volcanic 
action — Return to camp — Abundance of grizzly bears — Recross the 
mountains — Return through Napa valley — Visit to the Obsidian hills 
— Extensive use of this material by the Indians — Return to San Fran- 
cisco. . • 27 



Leave San Francisco — San Jose valley — Fertility of the soil — Mission of 
Santa Clara — San Jose — New Almaden — Quicksilver mine — Mode of 
extracting the ore — Large tanks of quicksilver — Account of the quick- 
silver mines of Spain — Production of this metal in all parts of the 
world — Situation of the New Almaden mine — Descent into it — How 
worked — Laborers — Extent of the mine— Effect of the mercury on 
laborers — History of the mine — Return to San Francisco — Captain Sut- 
ter — His history 53 



Leave San Francisco — Monterey — Its harbor — Society — Californian ladies 
— Father Juniper Serro's account of Monterey in 1770 — Visit to the 
Mission of San Carlos at Carmel — Father Garces' visit in 1777 — Leave 
Monterey — Point Conception — San Pedro — Visit to Los Angeles — Rich 
prairies — Large herds of cattle — Vineyards and wines — Indians of the 
Missions — Mission of San Gabriel — Return to San Pedro — Craw fish — 
Arrival at San Diego — Preparations for return to El Paso — Engage Mr. 
Leroux as guide — Trip to Los Coronados — Description of these islands 
— Sea lions — Climate of San Diego — Visit to the Mission of San Luis 
Rey — Extensive buildings — Fine valley — Kechi Indians — History of 
Father Peyri — Description of the harbor of San Diego — Viscaino's ac- 
count of San Diego in 1602 — Father Juniper Serro's account in 1769 — 
Mission of San Diego — Picturesque situation — Fine lands — Olive trees 
Society of San Diego — Initial Point and monument on the Pacific. . . 71 






Preparations for the journey to El Paso — Leave San Diego — Accident to 
"wagon — Snook's rancho — San Pasqual — Gen. Kearney's battle at this 
place — Indian village — San Pasqual mountain — Difficult ascent — Reach 
camp at Santa Isabel — Deficiency of transportation — Leroux despatched 
for another wagon — Indians of Santa Isabel — A Mormon arrives with 
a wagon — List of return party — Journey resumed — Luxuriant valley — 
San Felipe — Indians — Their mode of life — Narrow mountain pass — 
Vallecita — Desert appearance — Carrizo creek — Increased barrenness — 
Intense heat — Mules run away — Skeletons and carcasses of animals — 
Immense destruction of sheep — Utter desolation — Wagon upset — Sack- 
et's well — Dig for water— ^-Meet Lieut. Sweeney in pursuit of deserters 
from Fort Yuma — Arrival of bearer of despatches — Alamo Mucho. . . 109 



The Desert — Dry basin — " New River " — Alarming news from the Train — 
Colonel Craig's encounter with the deserters from Fort Yuma — Report 
of Sergeant Quin — Dr. "Webb returns in search of Colonel Craig and 
Sergeant Bale — Loss of wagons on the desert — Great heat — Return of 
party with the body of Colonel Craig — Sergeant Bale's return — Farther 
particulars of the encounter with the deserters — Burial of Colonel Craig 
Word sent to San Diego — Prompt action of Colonel Magruder — Arrest 
of the murderers by Indians, and their execution — Colonel Craig's char- 
acter and services — March resumed — Cooke's well — Colorado river — 
Banks washed away — A passage cut through the woods — Arrival at 
Fort Yuma — Depredations by the Yuma Indians on the camp at night 
— Unsuccessful pursuit — Lieut. Whipple commences crossing the Colo- 
rado 13? 





Crossing of the Colorado continued — Description of Fort Yuma — The Colo- 
rado and Gila rivers — The adjacent country — Rich alluvial bottoms — 
Facility of irrigation — Ruins of the old Spanish Missions — Difficulty of 
supplying Fort Yuma — Plan for surveying the head waters of the Gulf 
of California — Frustrated by Colonel Graham— Discovery of the Colo- 
rado in 1540 by Alarchon — Later voyages — Difficulties in navigating 
the Colorado — Attempt of a steamer to ascend the river — Its velocity 
and height — Fort Defiance — Massacre of Dr. Langdon and his party by 
the Yumas — Indians of the Colorado — Early tribes not identified — The 
Yumas — Cocopas — Mohavis — Extent of Alarchon's voyage in 1542 — 
Fathers Kino, Font, and Garces 156 



Leave Fort Yuma — Absence of grass along the Gila — Petahaya or Giant 
Cereus — Gila trout — Meet the surveying party — Inscribed rocks — Ex- 
cessive heat — Night marches — Wagons found — How caches are made — 
Particulars of the murder of Mr. Oatman and his wife — Basin of the 
Gila — More sculptured rocks — Cross the Jornada — Great bend of the 
river — Another desert — Toilsome march — Reach the Coco-Maricopa 
villages 185 



Visit from the Coco-Maricopa Indians — Camp removed to the banks of the 
Gila — The river dry, and no grass — War party — Return to our first 
camp — Traffic with these Indians — Farther accounts of the Oatman 
family — Francisco, the Maricopa interpreter — Feeding the tribe — Visit 
from the Pimos — Religious notions of these tribes — Their manners and 
customs — Agriculture — Art of spinning and weaving — Manufactures of 
cotton — Pottery — Basket-work — Dress — Their attempts at collecting 
zoological specimens — Villages — Houses and mode of building — Store 
houses — Horses and cattle 213 





Journey to the river Salinas — Its rich bottom-lands — Large stream — Pimo 
Indians — Ruined buildings — Mounds — Broken pottery — Traces of irri- 
gating canals — Ancient population probably large — Return towards 
the Pimo villages — Are taken for Apaches — Arrival at camp — Arrival 
of Lieutenant "Whipple — Survey of the Gila completed — Trade re- 
opened with the Coco-Maricopas — Presents — Tribe of Cawenas — Re- 
move to the Pimo villages — Cola Azul and the Pimos — Traffic with 
them — Conference — Giving presents — Arrival of Mexican traders — 
Return of Lieutenant Paige with the escort — Leave the villages. . . 239 



History of the Coco-Maricopas and Pimos — Origin of their semi-civilization 
— Difference of languages — Their number — Physical peculiarities — 
Deserving the attention of Christians and philanthropists — Early ac- 
counts of these Indians — First described by Father Kino in 1697 — ; 
Sedelmayer's visit to them in 1*744 — Father Font's in 1*775 — Visit to the 
Casas Grandes of the Gila — Description of these ruins — Evidences of a 
former large population — Irrigating canals — Broken pottery — Father 
Font's description of these buildings — Singular error in relation to their 
dimensions — Kino and Mangi's visit to them in 1694 — Notion of the 
Aztec origin of these buildings not well founded — Excessive heat. . . 261 



Leave the Gila — Terrific storm on the desert — Encounter a party of Ameri- 
cans at midnight — Stopped by the darkness — Unpleasant situation — 
Pack mules and cattle missing — Picacho mountain — Vegetation of the 
desert — Second night's march — Arrival at Tucson — General Blanco — 
Arrival of Mexican troops — Campaign against the Apaches — Meet Mr. 
Coons with 14,000 sheep — His disasters — Visit from General Blanco 



and his officers — Repairs on wagons — Tucson and its valley — Meteorite 
San Xavier del Bac — Beautiful church — Spanish and Anglo-Saxon colo- 
nization — Incessant rains — Presidio of Tubac — Meet Inez Gonzales the 
captive girl — Her sad fate — Uncertainty of irrigated lands — California 
emigrants — Calabasa — Picturesque valley — Tumacacori — San Lazaro 
— More emigrants — Reach Santa Cruz 285 



Shoeing mules and repairing wagons at Santa Cruz — Standing guard — Sad 
fate of Inez Gonzales — Sickness of the town — Boldness of the Apaches 
and their constant inroads — Wretched state of the people — Leave Santa 
Cruz — Country assumes a new aspect — Rio San Pedro — Enter the 
mountains — Agua Prieta — Prepare for a fight — False alarm — Meet 
Colonel Garcia with Mexican troops — Enter Guadalupe Pass — "Wagon 
upset — Description of the country — A better route suggested — Take 
the Janos road — More emigrants and their encounter with a bear — Two 
human bodies found — Open country — Reach Janos 314 



Janos, an old military post — Its decline — Aid a party of American emi- 
grants — A Thomsonian doctor — Difficulty in fording the Casas Grandes 
river — Arrival at Correlitos — Smelting works — Unhealthiness of the 
people — Barranca Colorado — Visit to the town of Casas Grandes — Ex- 
tensive ruins — Resemblance to those on the Gila — Fertile valley — The 
river and its tributaries — Modern town — Return to Correlitos. . . . 339 



Leave Correlitos — Visit the silver mines of Messrs. Flotte and Zuloaga — 
Attempt of a peon to escape — Rio Santa Maria— Recent fight of Ameri- 



cans with the Apaches here — Broad open plains — Continued rain — The 
Salado — The Medanos or Sand Hills — Painful night's march — Samala- 
yuca — Arrival at El Paso del Norte 366 




Preparations for completing the Survey of the southern boundary of New 
Mexico — Withdrawal of the military from El Paso — Importance of El 
Paso as a military post — Its business — Encroachments of the Apaches 
— Depredations of the Comanches — Suggestions for a better protection 
of the frontier — Colonel Langberg — Visit to Fort Fillmore — The Me- 
silla valley — Visit to the Organ mountains — Silver mines — Grand 
scenery — Return — Bracito and its battle-field — Preparations for leaving 
El Paso — Mail party attacked by the Comanches — Decide to go by way 
of Chihuahua — Laxity of the Mexican custom house — Departure of 
Lieutenant Whipple and party for the Gila — Organization of parties. 381 



Departure from El Paso — Accident at the start — Farewell to friends — San 
Eleazario — Fording the Rio Grande — Wagon upset — Guadalupe — As- 
cend the table-land — Grassy plains, and open country — Ojo de Lucero 
— Laguna de los Patos — Country overflowed — Wagon mired — More 
accidents — Carrizal — Ojo Caliente — Rio Carmen — Encounter with the 
Apaches — A man killed — Animals lost — Ojo de Callejo — Mexican sol- 
diers — Precautions to avoid a surprise — Laguna de Encinillas — El 
Penol — El Sauz — Rio Sacramento — Battlefield — Notice of the battle 
— Arrival at Chihuahua 401 





Repairs on wagons — Mr. Flotte and his persecutions — The road infected by 
Comanche Indians — Guard hired — General Trias — Governor Cordero 
— A dinner and ball — Ladies of Chihuahua — Dinner to General Trias 
— Obtain important documents relating to the boundary — Description 
of Chihuahua — Causes of its decline — Its mines — The expulsion of the 
Spaniards — Labors of the Jesuits — Aqueduct — The Cathedral — Mine of 
Santa Eulalia — Casa de Moneda — Commerce — How carried on — Agri- 
cultural products — Alfalfa and its value — Heaps of scoria — Grazing 
lands — The plateau — Immense herds of cattle — -Height of the table 
land — Climate — Diminutive dogs 424 



Departure from Chihuahua — Additional escort — Mr. Flotte with his family 
join us — Bachimba — Santa Cruz — Grist mill — Smelting works — Saucil- 
lo — Attack of the Comanches — La Cruz; — Las Garz;as — Ford the Con- 
chas — Santa Rosalia — Its defences erected against the Americans dur- 
ing the war — Ramada — Rio Florido — Guajuquilla — Fertile valley — 
Monument to our Lady of Guadalupe — Search for meteorites — Hacien- 
da — Blanca — Wagon upset in an acequia — Hacienda de Concepcion — 
Curious mass of meteoric iron — Account of meteorites in the vicinity — 
Hacienda del Rio Florido 442 



A mule kidnapped — La Noria — Cerro Gordo — Enter the State of Durango 
— Another escort — Miserable condition of the Mexican soldiers — Recent 
battle here with the Comanches — La Zarca — Vast herds of cattle and 
horses — Scarcity of wood — Droves of horses — San Pedro del Gallo — 
Rio Nasas — Fertile valley — Culture of cotton — Corn-fields without irri- 
gation — La Noria de Pedrecina — Silver mines — Cuencame — Another 



escort of civilians — La Noria Curena — Rio Buenaval — Pozo Calvo — 
Depredations of the Comanches — Alamo de Parras — Viesca mines — 
La Pen a — Break down — Cold weather — El Pozo — Recent incursion of 
Indians — Reach Parras. 465 



Parras — Its vineyards — Numerous springs — Orchards — Plantations of the 
Agave — Extent of its cultivation — Pulque — Hacienda Arriba — Its ex- 
tensive wine vaults and granaries — Visit to the churches — The Alame- 
da — Departure from Parras — The Hacienda Abajo — Don Manuel de 
Ibarra and General "Wool — Cienega Grande — Ceguin — Vequeria — 
Gigantic Yuccas — Hacienda de Patos — Don Jacobo Sanchez — His large 
estates — Claims for indemnification on the United States — Village of 
Peons — Encantada — Arrival of a courier with despatches from Wash- 
ington — Buena Vista — The Barrancas — Ramble over the battlefield — 
Relics found — Reach Saltillo — No work on a feast day — Fine church — 
Cotton factories — Dr. Hewison — Economical use of water 482 



Leave Saltillo — Accident at the start — Enter the Rinconada Pass — A uight 
in the defile — Los Muertos — Ampudia's redoubt — Magnificent scenery 
— Hacienda of the Rinconada — Sierra Mitra — Santa Catarina — Suburbs 
of Monterey — Loma de Independencia— Arrival at Monterey — Pronun- 
ciamentos — Visit the Bishop's palace — Beautiful valley — The citadel — 
Prosperity of the city — Its climate — Elevation — Departure — Marin — 
Ramos — Carrizitos — Dense chapporal — Miss the road — Cerralvo — Pun- 
tiagudo — Bad road — Mier — Trade for serapes — Texan Mier expedition 
— Character of the Rio Grande above Mier — Ascent of a steamboat to 
Loredo — Ancient oyster beds — Rio San Juan — Mexican brigade — Ca- 
margo — Cross the Rio Grande — Arrival at Ringgold barracks. . . . 499 



Rio Grande surveying parties — State of the Survey — Despatches from 
Washington — Proviso affixed by Congress to the appropriation for 



the Commission — Letter of the Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuart, Secretary of 
the Interior — Money withheld — Compelled to disband the Commission 
and return home — Unfortunate situation of the party — Send the 
train and government property to San Antonio — Leave for the coast 
— The grassy prairies of Texas — San Colorado — Wells at Santa Teresa 
— Ravages of the Comanches — Night alarm from mustangs — Abun- 
dance of deer and antelope — Los Olmos — Immense drove of mustangs 
— Exciting race over the prairie — Horse lost — The prairie on fire — Rio 
San Francisco — Agua Dulce — Arrival at Corpus Christi 513 



Corpus Christi — Its fine position — Geographical features of the country — 
Nueces bay and river — A norther — Its effects on the fish in the lagu- 
nas — Leave Corpus Christi in an open boat — Shallow bays and lagunas 
of the Gulf — Vast numbers of water fowl — Bays of Aransas and Espiri- 
tu Santo — Reach Decrow's Point — Matagorda bay and its commerce — 
Embark for New Orleans — Galveston — Arrival at New Orleans — Voy- 
age up the Mississippi, and by way of Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, 
Buffalo, and Albany to Providence — Arrival at home — Proceed to "Wash- 
ington • 52S 

Results of the Labors of the Boundary Commission. 539 


The Natural history of the regions traversed — Animal life on the deserts 
— Quadrupeds — Reptiles, their great variety and number — Peculiar 
vegetation of the deserts — The "prairie dog" and its habits — The an- 
telope, etc 555 


Brief remarks on the geography of the countries traversed by the Boun- 
dary Commission, and upon its adaptation for a railroad connecting the 
Atlantic with the Pacific 565 




Remarks on the introduction of Camels as a means of transportation on 
the prairies and deserts of the interior . 5*76 

Appendices 585 

Index. 607 



No. Page 

1. Interior of Hut of California Indians, . . . .30 

2. Summer Huts of the " " .... 31 

3. Figure cut in Wood, 32 

4. California Indians catching Salmon, . . . . 33 

5. " " Men, 34 

6. " " Women, 34 

7. Geysers, Pluton Eiver, California, 42 

8. Golden Gate. Entrance to San Francisco, . . . 54 

9. Quicksilver Furnaces, New Almaden, California, . . 58 

10. Monterey, California, 72 

11. Mission of San. Luis Eey, California, 90 

12. San Diego, California, 95 

13. Mission of San Diego, California, 103 

14. Monument. Initial Point on the Pacific, .. . . 105 

15. Well at Alamo Mucho, on the Desert, . . . .134 

16. Junction of the Gila and Colorado Eivers, . . . 158 

17. Pagoda Mountain, North of the Eiver Gila, . . . 188 

18. Petahaya, or Giant Cereus, 189 

19. Inscribed Eooks. Eiver Gila, 196 

20. " " " 196 

21. " " " 196 


No. Page 

22. Basin of the Bivee Gila, 205 

23. Inscribed Books. Bivee Gila, 206 

24. " " " 206 

25. " " " ...... 206 

26. Bimo Flute and Bunch of Deees' Hoofs, . . . 223 

27. Bimo Indian Weaving, 225 

28. Baskets and Botteet of the Bimos and Ooco-Maeioopas, 227 

29. Skin Bough, 228 

30. Mode of Consteuoting "Wigwams, 234 

31. Village of the Coco-Maeicopa Indians, .... 235 

32. Inteeioe of a Stoee-House. Bimo and Coco-Maeicopa, . 236 

33. Indian Amusements, Shooting at the Betahata, . . 238 

34. Bimo Man and Woman, 238 

35. Buins on the Salinas, 246 

36. Cultivated Fields and Villages of the Bimo Indians, . 248 

37. Bimo and Coco-Maeicopa Women, 253 

38. Feagments of Ancient Botteet. Bivees Gila and Salinas, 255 

39. Hieeogltphio on Wall of Casas Geandes, . . . 273 

40. Elevation of the Casas Geandes, Bivee Gila, . . . 276 

41. Geound Blan of " " 276 

42. Bioaoho on the Tucson Deseet, 290 

43. Meteoeite seen at Tucson, 298 

44. " " the Hacienda de Conception, . . 298 

45. Beesidio of Janos, Chihuahua, 340 

46. Buins at Casas Geandes, Chihuahua, 348 

47. " " " .... 348 

48. Baet of Geound Blan of Casas Geandes, Chihuahua, . 357 

49. Geound Blan of one of the Buined Buildings at Casas 

Geandes, 359 

50. Feagments of Ancient Fotteey feom Casas Geandes, Chi- 

huahua, . . 360 

51. " " " 360 

52. Belics found at Casas Geandes, Chihuahua, . . . 362 

53. Deseet Blain, View feom the Salado, Chihuahua, . . 372 

54. Militaet Bost, El Baso, Texas, 383 

55. Oegan Mountains, seen feom the Bio Geande, . . . 393 


No. Page 

56. Apache Indians Attacking the Teain and Paety, . 412 

57. Caebying "Wood to Maeket, Chihuahua . . . . 422 

58. Aqueduct and Church op Santa Eita, Chihuahua, . 4-tl 

59. Gigantic Yucca Teee, Paeeas, 491 

60. Stampede by "Wild Hoeses on the Plains of Texas, . 523 



1. Ruins at Casas Geandes, Chihuahua, (to face title-page.) 

2. Geysees, Pluton Eivee, Califoenia, .... 40 

3. " " " 40 

4. Napa Valley feom the Obsidian Hills, Califoenia, . 50 

5. Ascent to the Quioksilveb Mine, New Almaden, . . 62 

6. View on the Rivee Gila, Big Hoen Mountain, . . 198 

7. Casas Geandes, Rivee Gila, 274 

8. Ruins at Casas Geandes, Chihuahua, .... 364 

9. Oegan Mountains, New Mexico, 392 

10. Foet Yuma, Junction of the Glla and Coloeado Rivees, 

(to face title-page, vol. 1.) 

S - 






Arrival of Dr. "Webb and his party — Dr. "Webb's report of bis journey — 
State of tbe survey — Reduction of the Commission — Advance of wages 
— Diegeno Indians — H'hana Indians — Leave for San Francisco — Its fine 
harbor — Extensive commerce — Great activity and enterprise of its peo- 
ple — Origin of its name — Contrast between the wants of the Californi- 
ans in 1770 and 1850 — Trip to the Geysers — Benicia — Application to 
Gen. Hitchcock for an escort to the Commission on its journey back — 
Vallejo — Napa village — Napa valley — Its beauty and fertility — Mr 
Yaunt — His history — Eed-wood trees — Their great height — Enormous 
yield of vegetables — Thermal springs. 

On the 11th February, Dr. Webb, with his party, 
reached San Diego, most of them on foot. They 
had experienced great privations, and had lost the 
larger portion of their animals by famine. The 
following letter from Dr. Webb shows the character 
of his journey. 

"San Diego, California, February 14, 1852. 

" Sir : I have the honor to announce that I arrived 
here with the little party under my direction on the 

VOL. II. — 1 


11th instant, all in good health and spirits, notwith- 
standing we had to encounter numerous difficulties, 
undergo some hardships, endure some privations — to 
be exposed to the hostile attacks and depredations of 
Indians, and subjected to the loss of most of our ani- 
mals and much of our clothing, &c, and were necessa- 
rily placed on short allowance — compelled to walk a 
large portion of the distance, and be our own escort 
and night guard. 

" The mail closes so very soon, that it is impossible 
for me to render, in detail, a report of the trip at this 
time. I can only state, in brief, that the party con- 
sisted of twelve individuals and twenty-seven riding 
and pack-mules. 

" The animals, which were mostly feeble at the 
outset, and consequently not suited for such a journey, 
soon gave convincing proofs that they could not hold 
out, and daily, after leaving the Pimo villages, be- 
came reduced in number — sinking under the combined 
influence of excessive heat, deficiency of grazing, and 
destitution of water. Of the twenty-seven, but three 
were in a suitable condition to be brought in ; five 
more I left at Williams's rancho, about fifty miles dis- 
tant, to recruit ; and the remainder sank under their 
loads at various places on the desert, and were necessa- 
rily abandoned to their fate ; which was either to fall 
into the hands of roving Indians, who, like so many 
hungry vultures, were continually hovering around, 
anxiously awaiting an opportunity to avail themselves 
of any accident or misfortune that might occur, 
whereby they could gain possession of any of our pro- 
perty ; or should they elude the Indians, their fate most 


inevitably was, in their enfeebled state, to become an 
easy prey to the hungry wolves, which in great num- 
bers were constantly prowling about, making night 
hideous with their howlings ; and not unfrequently so 
impatient were they to seize upon the poor animals, 
that they could be seen skulking close to our camp in 
broad daylight. 

''■ The loss of pack-mules of course occasioned a 
sacrifice of much other property, as we had no relief 
mules with us. Most of our cooking utensils were 
dropped from time to time, at various places on the 
route. We had also to cache all of our camp stools 
and other furniture, some of our bedding, much cloth- 
ing, books, papers, etc. Eventually, we were compelled 
to abandon our tents : so that rain or shine, wet or 
dry, we had to stop at the end of our day's journey in 
the open air, without any means of protection by day 
from the scorching heat of the sun ; and at night we 
stretched out upon the ground, unsheltered from the 
inclemency of the weather, and the cold searching 
blasts and chilly atmosphere, though at mid-day the 
dry, brain-burning heat, was almost too much to bear. 
Soon after sunset, an icy feeling, nearly as intolerable, 
would pervade us ; the variations between night and 
day often amounting to sixty and seventy degrees of 

" Twelve days of the journey I walked, having 
relinquished my animal for pack-mule purposes before 
we reached the junction of the Gila and Colorado 
Rivers. Subsequently, others followed the example ; 
until at length but two retained possession of ani- 


"We had no escort; and therefore, after walking 
all day, we were obliged to take our turns at standing 
guard at night. Our provisions became so diminished 
in quantity as to compel me to put the whole party on 
short allowance. We lived principally on meat, mush, 
and. mutton, without any vegetables. But one sheep 
(long, lank, raw-boned animals) was allowed to 
twelve men for four days, and even then our last meat 
was consumed a week before our arrival ; and we were 
forced to deprive ourselves of a portion of our mush 
to furnish food to our animals, owing to the entire 
absence, for several days on our route, of all grass, 
shrubs, and trees. 

"Much is said by travellers respecting the desert 
of Sahara ; but, in barrenness of verdure, destitution of 
water, tremendous storms of sand, etc., etc., it is 
doubtful if any tract of land can surpass the Jornada 
which we crossed. Indeed much of this country, that 
by those residing at a distance is imagined to be a 
perfect paradise, is a sterile waste, utterly worthless 
for any purpose than to constitute a barrier or natural 
line of demarcation between two neighboring nations. 

" Notwithstanding our many perils, privations, and 
suffering, mostly attributable, when traced to the true 
source, to our imperfect outfit at the Copper Mines, 
from the negligence, wilfulness, or some other unjusti- 
fiable cause on the part of those whose duty it was to 
attend to the business ; notwithstanding the many 
additional obstacles thrown in the way ; notwithstand- 
ing the continued succession of disappointments which 
we encountered in numerous shapes, and of varied 
hue, where the doing or neglecting to do, depended 


upon the will of man ; thanks to the protecting care of 
a divine and overruling Providence, we escaped un- 
harmed from the many dangers with which we were 
surrounded, and the difficulties in which we were 
involved, and have brought in our little party in the 
enjoyment, as already observed, of good health and 

"I remain, sir, very respectfully, yours, 

(Signed) THOMAS H. WEBB, 

Eecretanj to Boundary Commission. 

"Hon. J. R. Baetlett, 
" Commissioner, etc. 11 

The animals brought in by the several parties were 
greatly reduced by their long and painful journey, 
owing chiefly to their poor and scanty food along the 
Gila, and from that river to the coast. They were now 
placed in a grassy valley near the mission, some five or 
six miles distant, where the feed was pretty good ; but 
they were so completely broken down, that many 
weeks would be necessary to recruit them. The sur- 
veying parties during this time were engaged in re- 
ducing their observations and in plotting their maps. 

Although the entire boundary along the river Gila 
was not completed, it was a source of peculiar satisfac- 
tion to me that we had accomplished so much. It is 
more than the most sanguine in the Commission 
expected to perform in so short a space of time, sur- 
rounded, as the operating parties were, with so many 
serious impediments. To cross a wilderness, such as 
it may in truth be called, from the Rio Grande to the 


Pacific Ocean, a distance of more than eight hundred 
miles, would at any time be a labor of difficulty. But 
when this whole line is through a desolate region, with 
a scanty supply of grass for the animals ; with large 
tracts destitute of water, and no means of procuring 
provisions; and furthermore, when nearly the entire 
distance is invested by hostile Indians, the work is one 
for the near completion of which we could not be too 
thankful. The whole came through in good health, 
and with the loss of but one man, Thomas Harper, an 
attendant on instruments in Lieutenant Whipple's 
party, who was unfortunately drowned whilst bathing 
in the Colorado. The amount of public property lost 
or abandoned on the journey was not large, and could 
easily be replaced in this country. 

During my short stay at San Diego, I was busily 
occupied in paying off and reducing the Commission. 
Several of the assistants desired to leave here, and the 
larger portion of the mechanics and laborers. In fact, 
I found it difficult to keep such as were necessary to 
take care of the animals and other property, as well as 
the cooks and servants needed to attend the several 
messes. Wages were exceedingly high, and I was 
compelled to advance the pay of all that remained to 
the California rates, which were from fifty to eighty 
dollars a month for servants, cooks, teamsters, and 
herdsmen. After reducing the parties, and placing 
those who remained in comfortable quarters (for the 
weather was cold and wet), I made my arrangements 
to go to San Francisco, in order to procure a new out- 
fit of tents and camp equipage ; to have the instruments 
repaired and put in order ; to lay in provisions for our 


return ; and to negotiate my drafts on the government 
to meet these several expenditures, as well as to pay 
the officers and men attached to the Commission. 

No event that is worthy of mention occurred here, 
except a visit from a band of Diegeno Indians. A 
chief and several of his tribe were sent to me at my 
request by a Californian gentleman. They were a mis- 
erable, ill-looking set, with dark brown complexions 
and emaciated bodies; and though the weather was 
cold, they were but slightly clad. Articles of old and 
cast-off clothing, such as a tattered shirt and panta- 
loons, were all that the best could boast of. One, I 
think the chief, had a piece of a horse blanket around 
his cadaverous-looking body. I managed to get from 
them a vocabulary of their language ; though I must 
confess that, with the exception of the Apache, I never 
found one so difficult to express, in consequence of the 
gutturals and nasals with which it abounded. I finally 
got the words so correct, that the Indians could recog- 
nise them, and give me the Spanish equivalents. I 
tried to write down some short sentences, but was 
obliged to give up the attempt as unsuccessful. I could 
not combine the words so as to be understood, in a 
single instance. These Indians occupy the coast for 
some fifty miles above, and about the same distance 
below, San Diego, and extend about a hundred miles 
into the interior. They are the same who were known 
to the first settlers as the Comeya tribe. 

I also found an Indian here from the Upper Sacra- 
mento River. He had been taken prisoner by the 
American troops about three years before, and was now 
living with some of the officers. He was quick and 


intelligent, and answered promptly my questions rela- 
tive to his tribe and country. I could not, however, 
ascertain the precise locality of his people, which he 
called the ECliana tribe — the iZ"a deep guttural. I got 
from him a complete vocabulary of his language. 

On the 24th of February, I embarked with several 
officers of the Commission in the steamer Sea Bird, for 
San Francisco. The boat stopped on the way at the 
several ports of San Pedro, Santa Barbara, and Mon- 
terey ; but as the weather was boisterous and attended 
with rain, I did not land. On the evening of the 27th 
we reached San Francisco. 

To give an account of this wonderful city Avhich 
has sprung into existence in the last four years, and 
whose rapid growth and extraordinary prosperity have 
astonished the world, is not my intention. No city on 
the face of the globe has ever attained the position that 
San Francisco has in the same period ; and it is yet 
progressing. It is now almost the first in population 
on the western coast of the American continent ; and 
but a few years will elapse before it will surpass all the 
rest. In point of commerce, the great ports of Europe 
and on the Atlantic coast of the United States alone, 
can vie with it. As the outlet of the principal and 
almost only rivers of California, it will continue to 
bear the same relation to the interior as New Orleans 
and New York do to the United States east of the Rocky 
Mountains. The harbor of San Francisco is one of the 
most spacious in the world, easy of access, of a conve- 
nient depth for anchorage, and protected from storms. 
The city itself now presents a strange medley of build- 
ings, from the rudest hovel and canvas tent to the ele- 


gant mansion and the most substantial warehouses. 
The former, however, are rapidly giving way to the 
latter ; and now that bricks of a superior quality are 
made here, and excellent building stone is found near 
at hand, no one will think of putting up wooden build- 
ings within the city. In the streets of San Francisco all is 
bustle and confusion. Crowds are constantly passing and 
repassing. The wharves are thickly lined with magnifi- 
cent ships from every quarter of the globe, pouring in 
their thousands of immigrants, and discharging their 
valuable cargoes. The ocean steamers, each bearing from 
five hundred to one thousand passengers, are weekly 
arriving ; while the river boats, which take their daily 
departure for the interior every morning and evening, 
present the same moving crowds going and coming as 
the Hudson River boats at New York. All go full ; and. 
one is as much puzzled to find a spare seat or stool on 
which to rest his weary limbs, as on board the excur- 
sion boats from our Atlantic cities. The stages and 
other means of conveyance are equally crowded. The 
throng moves to and fro, from the city to the mines 
and the interior, and thence back again to the city. 
Go to the business streets, and the auctioneer's hammer 
is heard at every turn, knocking off to the anxious 
bidder every article of commerce. Stocks, gold mines, 
ships, whole cargoes of merchandise, are bought and 
sold with the same freedom as in the Royal Exchange 
of London, the Bourse of Paris, or in Wall-street, New 
York. There are customers for every thing, and an 
^abundance of gold to meet any purchase however large. 
There is no project too great for the Californian of the 
present day. He is ready for any undertaking, whether 


it be to make a railroad to tlie Atlantic, to swallow up 
Mexico, or invade the empire of Japan. New York is 
now the first city on the American continent, and San 
Francisco is destined ere long to be second. 

San Francisco is said to have obtained its name in 
the following manner: " When Father Juniper Serra 
received his orders from the Visitant-general respecting 
the names which he was to give to the new missions in 
California, he observed that the name of the founder 
of their order was not among them, and called the at- 
tention of his superior to the fact, exclaiming, "Is 
not our Father San Francisco to have a mission ? " to 
which the Visitant-general replied, u If San Francisco 
-desires a mission, let him show you a port, and he shall 
have it." In the year 1769 an expedition was dis- 
patched from San Diego, for the purpose of settling 
Monterey. The expedition missed the port, but dis- 
covered a much larger and finer bay further to the 
•north, which had been till then unknown. The com- 
mander of the expedition and his religious associates 
•decided that this discovery must be the work of St. 
Francis, and accordingly they gave his name to the 
place, setting up a cross, and taking possession after the 
usual manner.* 

To show the striking contrast between the wants 
of the zealous priests who colonized California in the 
year 1770 and the Americans of 1850, I give another 
quotation from a letter written by the same excellent 
man to Father Palou. " As May made a year since I 
received a letter from any Christian country, your Re- 

* Palou. Vicla del Padre Fray Junipero Serra, Mexico, 1*787, p. 88. 


verence will imagine how deficient we are in news : but 
for all that, I only ask you and your companions, when 
you can get an opportunity, to inform me what our 
most holy Father the reigning Pope is called, that I 
majr put his name in the canon of the mass ; also to 
say if the canonization of the beatified Joseph Cuper- 
tino, and Serafino de Asculi has taken place ; and if 
there is any other beatified one, or saint, in order that 
I may put them in the calendar, and pray to them ; 
we having, it would appear, taken our leave of all 
printed calendars. Tell me also, if it is true, that the 
Indians have killed Father Joseph Soler in Sonora, and 
how it happened ; and if there are any other friends 
defunct, in order that I may commend them to God ; 
with any thing else your Reverence may think fit to 
communicate to a few poor hermits separated from 
human society. We proceed to-morrow to celebrate 
the feast of Corpus Christi (although in a very poor 
manner), in order to scare away whatever imps there 
possibly may be in this land." * 

The Californians of our day, instead of asking for 
information about beatified men or saints, in order to 
put them on the calendar and pray to them, would 
feel a much deeper interest in knowing the state of 
political parties in the Atlantic States, or the prices of 
stocks, of sugar, and whiskey ; and where one would 
care to hear about the Pope of Rome, a hundred would 
prefer news respecting the Emperor of China, f 

* Palou. Vida de Fray Junipero Serra, p. 102. 
f I have reference now to the interest felt in the present contest in 
China between the rebel Tien-teh and the Tartar sovereign. 


For three weeks after I arrived in San Francisco 
it rained incessantly, confining me most of the time to 
the house. The result was a great rise in the rivers, 
so that the mining regions were laid under water, and 
became impassable. The Sacramento was so swollen 
as to inundate the city of the same name. This state 
of things prevented me from visiting the interior, and 
particularly the gold region. Having a couple of 
weeks still to spare before our camp equipage would 
be ready, I determined to avail myself of this brief 
space in visiting some of. the many interesting objects 
in which California abounds. To examine the gold 
mines in so short a time with any satisfaction, seemed 
impracticable. I therefore concluded to visit some 
localities which were less known, and which would be 
a greater novelty than the gold region, with which I 
already felt pretty well acquainted through the daily 
accounts of them in the newspapers. I had heard an 
interesting description of some geysers and a volcanic 
region at the head of Napa Valley, which I determined 
to visit as soon as the travelling would permit. 

Accordingly I left San Francisco on the 17th of 
March, accompanied by Dr. Webb and Mr. Thurber, 
for Benicia, where we arrived in two hours. Our 
steamer was crowded with passengers, chiefly bound 
for the mines, among whom were a number of Chinese. 
These men were dressed in their native costume, and 
each carried with him a huge pair of boots, showing 
plainly to what region he was destined. 

Benicia was for a while the rival of San Francisco ; 
though I cannot see why such aspirations should have 
been indulged in for a moment. It is situated on the 


Straits of Carquinez, about thirty miles from San Fran- 
cisco, on a gentle slope, which becomes almost a plain 
as it approaches the water's edge. It contained at the 
time of my visit about 1500 inhabitants, including the 
soldiers now stationed here. Its buildings are mostly 
of wood, and among these are several hotels. The best 
of them is the "American," a neat and well-kept house, 
where we stopped. It was then the Head-quarters of 
the Pacific division of the U. S. Army. The large 
deposit of Quarter-master's and Commissary's stores had 
been recently removed hither, and efforts were making 
to have the Navy yard here also. The Pacific Mail 
Steam Ship Company had its depot here, and next to 
the Navy yard was the most valuable accession it could 
possibly enjoy. The steamers all lie here until a few 
days before sailing, when they move down to San 
Francisco. This company furnished much business to 
the place with its large coal depot, ship yard, and 
various workshops, where several hundred men were 
constantly employed. The military post is about a 
mile from the town, and consists of a few wooden build- 

I called on General Hitchcock, commanding the 
Pacific division of the IT. S. Army, for the purpose of 
obtaining an escort for the Commission from San Diego 
to the Pimo villages on the Gila. This seemed neces- 
sary, as the command of Colonel Craig amounting to 
twenty-five men, which accompanied the surveying 
parties down the Gila, had all deserted but five, on 
their arrival at San Diego ; and of these, three were 
non-commissioned officers. General Hitchcock, with 
the promptness and liberality which have ever distin- 


guished him, at once acceded to my request, and gave 
me an order on the commanding officers at San Diego 
and Fort Yuma to furnish me with such a force as they 
deemed necessary. 

It was from Benicia that we were to take the road 
to Napa Valley. On making known to General Hitch- 
cock my desire to visit the Geysers, he kindly furnished 
me with horses and a pack-mule for the purpose. To 
Major Allen, the Quarter-master, I am also indebted 
for his promptness in facilitating the wishes of myself 
and party in our proposed trip, and for sending me a 
trusty man. 

March 19 th. Our horses, mule, and attendant were 
promptly at the door by 7 o'clock ; and after break- 
fast we took our departure. Proceeding along the 
shores of the bay, we passed the great projected city 
of Vallejo, the once intended capital of the State. It 
now stands naked and alone, its large houses tenant- 
less. As the capital of California it might have become 
a place of importance ; but without such factitious aid 
there is nothing to build it. 

Here we entered Napa Valley. The hills on both 
sides as well as the valley were covered with a luxu- 
riant growth of wild oats, and immense herds of cattle 
were roaming about feasting on them. Wild flowers 
of varied hues were thickly scattered around, and every 
thing showed that the heavy and continued rains had 
given new life to vegetation. Our course was now a 
northerly one, directly up the valley. Napa Creek, 
which we saw at a distance, makes up it, and affords 
sufficient water for small vessels, several of which we 
saw gliding up. The valley soon became perfectly 


level, without a hill or depression. In many places 
ploughmen were at work turning up the soil, which 
was of the richest description. Barley appeared to be 
the principal grain sowed, this being in more general 
use for horses than oats, and found to give a better 
yield. In one place I noticed a hill, the whole of which 
had been sowed with barley, presenting a field of more 
than a hundred acres. The soil here was loose ; and 
as the water had run off, the ground was in a fit state 
for cultivation. The valley below was still very wet, 
and would not be in a fit state to plough for weeks 
yet. On this account, the declivities possess an advan- 
tage for early planting, over the level plains. 

At 2 o'clock reached the village of Napa, where 
we dined. Distance travelled, twenty miles. The 
road was excellent, except in two places, where the 
valley was still wet, and where our horses sank deep 
in the mud. Napa Creek is navigable to this point, 
even for vessels of a large burden, should it be neces- 
sary to bring them here, which will hardly be the case. 
Near the town is the hulk of a ship. It was bought 
by a gentleman in San Francisco for a trifle and brought 
here, where it is used as a storeship, as well as for 
the residence of the owner and his family. She cost 
much less than it would have done to erect a small 
dwelling, and the owner has besides the advantage of 
a large warehouse. She lay close by the river's bank ; 
and with a doorway cut in her side, the entrance was 
made quite easy. A steamboat now runs to San Fran- 
cisco, which will tend to populate rapidly this beautiful 
valley, and render the town of Napa the centre of one 
of the richest agricultural districts in the State. After 


dinner we rode five miles, to the house of Joseph W. 
Osborne, Esq., a merchant of San Francisco, who had 
invited me to make him a visit. Mr. 0. had pre- 
ceded us a couple of days, and met us at his gate, 
giving us a warm reception. 

Mr. Osborne's place was the most beautiful and 
picturesque I had seen in the valley. In fact, it was 
the only house wherein there was any attempt at taste 
and comfort ; for the country was too new to expect 
much in this way yet. But even his was a small and 
unpretending cottage after the New England fashion. 
The valley here is about four miles in width. Where 
it opens on St. Pablo Bay it is about six miles, but it 
gradually contracts towards the north. At the entrance 
it is an open plain, destitute of trees, and covered with 
luxuriant grass; but here it assumes a new aspect, 
such a one, too, as I had not before seen in the coun- 
try. It is now studded with gigantic oaks, some of 
them evergreen, though not so close together as to 
render it necessary to cut any away to prepare the 
land for cultivation. These magnificent oaks are found 
sometimes in long lines, and again in clusters of twenty 
or thirty, forming beautiful groves ; then again a space 
of ten or twenty acres will occur without a single tree. 
If this romantic valley were transferred to the older 
countries of Europe, it would be taken for the domain 
of a prince or a nobleman. It answers to the idea one 
has of the old and highly cultivated parks of England, 
where taste and money have been lavished with an 
unsparing hand, through many generations. As one 
emerges from or enters each grove, he involuntarily 
expects some venerable castle or mansion to appear ; 


or to find himself among some secluded villages. But 
in the entire length of the valley there are no houses 
to be found within a less distance than five miles of 
each other, and these too of the most humble and 
unpretending character. What is singular, and to me 
unaccountable in these groves of large trees is, that 
there are no young ones, none but the venerable and 
full-grown oaks, which, doubtless, for centuries have 
held exclusive sway over this wide-spread and beauti- 
ful domain. Nor is there any undergrowth of other 
trees and shrubs. I can only account for this defi- 
ciency by attributing it to fires since the occupation of 
the country by the Spaniards ; or, by supposing that 
the immense herds of cattle, which for a century past 
have occupied the valley, have browsed upon the 
shrubs and young trees, until they destroyed them, 
and afterwards kept down the shoots as they sprang 

The valley is hemmed in on both sides by ranges 
of low mountains, running north and south, which are 
generally covered to their very summits with forest 
trees. Here and there bold rocks jut out, presenting 
the most fantastic outlines ; while between the valley 
and the mountains runs a lower range of rounded 
hills, dotted with small bushy oaks and pines, which 
present a fine contrast with the more sombre hues of 
the mountain foliage. Occasionally the gigantic palo 
Colorado (red wood) raises its tall head far above every 
other object, making even the huge oaks appear 

In the midst of the valley winds a small stream, 
called Napa Creek, its course marked by the graceful 


willows that grow along its margin. This creek is chiefly 
supplied by springs near the head of the valley ; but 
during the rainy season several mountain torrents 
empty their waters into it — indeed, some of them I 
was told contribute a portion during the whole year. 

The larger portion of Napa Valley was still in the 
state in which nature had left it, but had all been 
taken up by recent settlers, and was fast being brought 
into cultivation. A road had just been laid out 
through its centre, and every farmer was occupied in 
marking out his land and dividing it into lots inclosed 
by substantial rail fences. Ploughs were cutting up 
the virgin sward in all directions ; and in one place I 
saw a ditching machine in operation. It answered 
the double purpose of making a ditch four or five feet 
wide, with an embankment of sufficient height to 
answer for a fence or wall. This machine was worked 
by two or three oxen and a windlass. It is a rapid 
method of accomplishing two most important objects ; 
and the mound is said to keep the cattle out as well as 
.a high fence. 

Mr. Osborne's men were all New England farmers, 
several of them from Rhode Island ; and it is astonish- 
ing to see how much more work one of these men 
will perform than a Mexican or Californian. He pays 
them seventy-five dollars a month, and finds them, 
which pays him better than employing ordinary hands 
at half the price. Mr. 0. has owned this property but 
one year ; and a furrow was never turned on it or a 
seed sown, until he came into possession. He has now 
more than a hundred acres under cultivation, a con- 
siderable portion of which is protected by a post and 


rail fence of red wood. Many fruit trees, grape vines, 
flowering shrubs, etc., are in a flourishing condition 
around his house. In no part of the Atlantic States or 
Mississippi Valley could such improvements be shown 
in the same time, except on prairie land. 

March 20th. This morning we called on Mr. 
Yaunt, a Missourian, and one of the oldest settlers in 
the valley. Mr. Y. came here some twelve or fifteen 
years ago, and obtained a large grant of land from 
the Government ; he, however, has cultivated very 
little of it, but has used it, like the other great land- 
holders of the country, for a cattle range. The other 
original grantees of land in Napa Valley were Mr. 
Fowler, Dr. Bale, an Englishman, and Don Salvador 
Vallejo. The usual measure of land in this country, 
as well as in Mexico, is the square league, containing 
about five thousand acres. Senor Vallejo, who was 
the largest proprietor here, owned six square leagues, 
or thirty thousand acres. It is well for the country 
that these large estates are now being divided and 
brought into market. They will, doubtless, ere long 
be eagerly sought after, on account of their extraordi- 
nary fertility and beautiful situation, by gentlemen who 
wish to get away from the bustle of a great city, and 
enjoy the retirement of a country life.* 

I was desirous to have Mr. Yaunt accompany us 

* In an agreeable work by Lieutenant Revere, I find the following 
history of Mr. Yaunt : " This old man had led an adventurous and 
checkered life ; in the course of which he had fought under Jackson at 
New Orleans, and in the Seminole war had been taken prisoner by the 
Indians, and actually bound to the stake. He had been a hunter and 
a trapper, and Indian fighter at large, in the heart of the continent, until 


to the Geysers, and he readily promised to go ; but as 
he did not appear at the time appointed, we waited 
for him till twelve o'clock, and then determined to 
proceed without him. Mr. Osborne now joined our 
party, and we resumed our journey. 

The valley continued as before, level, and without 

his combative propensities were gratified — and he finally found himself 
one day at the " jumping-off place," and made his first attempt at ocean 
navigation on the bosom of the broad Pacific. In the unpretending 
skiff of an otter hunter, often unaccompanied save by his trusty rifle, he 
coasted the shores and islands of California in search of the pelt of his 
valuable prey. "While employed one day (in the year 1836) in his 
regular pursuit, he chanced to steer his skiff into the navigable creek or 
estuary of Napa, rightly judging it a place of resort for his furry friends. 
The valley was then inhabited by none but Indians ; and he made his 
way up to a beautiful spot, a few miles from his boat, which had been 
selected for a rancheria by a tribe called the " Caymas." Here he sat 
down to rest; when suddenly there flashed upon his mind, like a gleam 
of light, a long-forgotten prophecy of an old fortune teller in his native 
State. He declares that the sibyl had predicted the spot of his future 
residence in terms exactly answering to the description of this valley, in- 
cluding all the accessories of grove, plain, mountain, river, and even " me- 
dicine water," as the Indians call the springs. The old man pondered 
over this prophecy, counted his gains, which had been considerable, and 
philosophized over the vicissitudes of human life, not forgetting, how- 
ever, to examine the valley more carefully. On his next visit to 
Monterey, he became a citizen of California, and obtained a grant of 
land, embracing the charmed spot indicated by the Western witch. 
He then came and settled it, purchasing cattle with his gains in the 
" lower country." But the happy valley then swarmed with Indians, 
jealous of white men, and constantly fighting among themselves ; so that 
this elysium was turned into a pandemonium by their screams and war- 
whoops. He quitted his skiff, formed an alliance offensive and defen- 
sive, with the rancheria of Caymas, erected a log house, after the man- 
ner of his ancestors in the days of Daniel Boone, and with his faithful 
rifle — the only fire-arm in the valley — not only stood and repelled the 


a hill or an undulation. A luxuriant growth of 
grass, studded with brilliant wild flowers, lined our 
path. As we continued north, the adjacent hills 
became more thickly wooded, particularly with pines 
and firs ; the red- wood, a species of cypress, still more 
conspicuous, raising its tall stem far above the others.* 

attacks of the rival rancherias, but attacking in turn, exterminated the 
unruly, sustained the wavering, and, single-handed, bullied the whole 
valley into submission. Many a weary, and anxious, and watchful night 
did he spend ere this result was achieved ; but once accomplished, his 
sovereignty remained undisputed ; the conquered became his servants ; 
and the allies of Caymus remain to this day his laborers and his farm 
hands." — Tour in California, p. 95. 

* This tree is remarkable for the great height which it attains. I have 
been told by credible persons that specimens are now growing which are 
three hundred feet in height ; and I have seen persons who have mea- 
sured fallen trunks two hundred and sixty-six feet in length. It is one of 
the most important vegetable productions of California ; and besides the 
various uses to which it is applied when sawed into boards, it is exten- 
sively employed for fencing purposes, the grain being so straight that it 
splits with the greatest ease ; indeed, before the introduction of saw- 
mills, it was usual to split logs of the red wood into planks. 

It is also said to be very durable. Colonel Fremont saw posts which 
had been in the ground three fourths of a century, without traces of 
decay. The houses built by the Russians at Bodega many years since, 
are of this timber, with posts sunk in the ground, into which the 
horizontal pieces are mortised. The planks upon the sides are about 
three inches thick, and had been but little smoothed off after being split. 
No signs of decay could be detected even in the posts. At this place, 
Captain Smith erected a steam, grist, and saw-mill, in 1845, being the 
first structure of the kind in the country. He states that they could not 
saw logs much over four feet in diameter, and never cut any less than 
eighteen inches ; and yet the average number of cuts or logs, each of 
-sixteen feet in length from a single tree, was between eight and ten.* 

* Report of P. T. Tyson to the Secretary of War, on the Geology and Topography of Califor- 


Passed the farm of Mr. Yaunt, and soon after that 
of Senora Bale, the widow of an English physician, 

Fremont describes the largest red-wood measured by him to be fif- 
teen feet in diameter, and 275 feet in height. Lieut. Sloneman, U. S. 
Army, speaks of another of about the same height, and twenty-one feet 
in diameter. The largest tree seen by Mr. Tyson (quoted above) was in 
the forests near Bodega : it had been cut down and a portion removed ; 
the stump was twelve and a quarter feet in diameter, clear of the very 
thick baric. He saw many trees of nine or ten feet, and those of six 
and eight feet, were very common. 

After examining these forests to some extent, Mr. Tyson says he 
" measured off a space equal to one seventh of an acre, which was esti- 
mated to contain about an average of the forests of that region, and 
found within it three trees about one hundred feet high and eighteen 
inches thick, and twelve others varying between four and eight feet in 
diameter, and from 180 to 230 feet high." It is difficult to form an 
idea of the product of timber upon an acre containing the proportion 
within the fractional part above noted, without an arithmetical calcula- 
tion, when it will be found to produce about one million feet of boards, 
one inch thick, besides five hundred cords of wood from the tops and 

Captain Smith thinks he alone has seen ten thousand acres of such 
forest, and Mr. Tyson saw many acres which would yield considerably 
more in proportion than the measured space. 

Judge Thornton speaks of pines which " measured, at a height of be- 
tween six and a dozen feet above the ground, forty feet in circumference, 
their bark nearly a foot thick, and between two and three hundred feet 
high." Between Paget Sound and Fort Harrison, some of the fallen 
trees have been found to be 265 feet in length. "These trees are per- 
fectly straight and without branches for a distance of 150 feet. In many 
places where these trees have fallen, they present barriers to the vision 
even when the traveller is on horseback." — Oregon and California, Vol. 
I. p. 350. 

Mr. Walter Hitchcock gives the following account of forest monsters 
which fell under his observation : 

"The big trees (for there are 131 of them over ten feet in diameter 
standing on the limits of a few acres) stand in Mammoth Tree Valley, 


who settled and died here. This lady has a large 
estate, which contains more improvements than any 

about thirty miles north of Sonora, in Calaveras county. The mam- 
moth tree which has been felled, was bored down with long augers, and 
took four men twenty-two days to get it down. The stump stands about 
six feet above the level of the ground, and its top has been made level 
and smooth, which required sixteen days work. I measured it from the 
inside of the bark across to the inside of the bark, and it measured twen- 
ty-five feet, and is perfectly sound clear to the heart. The bark, to the 
height of 52 feet, has been taken from the trunk in sections, and sent to 
the fair at New- York. If the top half of the tree were taken off, so as to 
make a level surface, a stage coach with four horses might be driven on 
it, from the butt towards the tip, a distance of 166 feet, it being at this 
length ten feet in diameter. At the length of 280 feet, it is four feet in 
diameter. At this j)oint it was broken off in falling, and the tip was 
broken into fragments so fine I could not measure them ; but its height 
had been taken before it was felled, and set down at 300 feet. It is 
called arbor vitce; but it is not fully decided to what variety it belongs. 
It is a little curious that no other trees of the same kind can be found 
less than seven feet in diameter, and this tree is estimated by a scientific 
gentleman from San Francisco to be 3,100 years old. 

"There are many others still standing, of the same kind, which are 
monsters ; some even larger than this, but not sound. One, called Un- 
cle Tom's Cabin, has a more commodious room in it than many miners' 
cabins. There are some large ones blown down, and one I must not 
fail to describe. It was evidently decayed before it fell, and in its fall 
broke off sixty feet from the roots. This part is hollow ; and I cannot 
give you a better idea of its size, than by telling you that I rode my 
horse through it from end to end. At the end where it is broken off, 
the shell is very thin, and as I sat on the horse, I could not reach my 
hand to the inner surface, over my head ; but half-way through, the 
shell was as much as three feet thick over my head, and more than that 
under the horse's feet, and here it was necessary to lean forward. But 
this is not the largest. There is another one blown down, which meas- 
ures 110 feet in circumference and 410 feet in length. This, too, is hollow ; 
and if the hollow were enlarged a little, it would make a very good rope- 


other farm in the valley. In her orchard I noticed 
pear and peach trees, and grape vines in abundance ; 
while around the house were rose bushes and other 
flowering shrubs. The lady was at work in her gar- 
den, in which she seemed to take a deep interest ; 
while frolicking around her were six beautiful chil- 
dren, whose light hair and fair complexion indicated 
their Anglo-Saxon parentage. Passed other farms, 
some of which, particularly Mr. Keller's, bore the 
marks of an old settlement, from the extent of its 
fences, its barns, saw-mill, and other improvements. 
Here was a large orchard of peach trees in full bloom ; 
which trees, I was told, were brought round Cape 
Horn from the Atlantic States. Every thing here 
was in a flourishing condition ; although in the form 
and arrangement of the buildings a sad deficiency of 
taste was visible. 

A ride of three miles further brought us to Mr. 
Kilburn's, a Missourian, with a Californian wife. We 
stopped here for the night, and were disappointed in 
not finding Mr. K. at home. He is another old resi- 
dent, having been some seven years in the valley. As 
this gentleman was familiar with the district we were 
about to visit, we had relied on his accompanying us ; 
or, failing to do so, we had hoped to obtain such infor- 
mation from him as would enable us to find the objects 
of which we were in search. Mrs. Kilburn received 
us kindly, although we were all strangers to her; 
nevertheless she seemed a little flustered when we told 
her we had come to pass the night there. She is quite 
young, good-looking, and has an interesting family of 
little ones around her, who, like the children before 


mentioned, exhibit their Anglo-Saxon descent. A fine 
supper was soon prepared for us ; after partaking of 
which, we were directed to our beds in the chamber 
above, all clean and comfortable. 

The valley for the last few miles had diminished 
much in width, being not more than a mile at Mr. Kil- 
burn's farm. The soil, too, had changed from a black 
loam to clay and gravel. Nevertheless, vegetation 
seemed quite as luxuriant, and the valley presented a 
greater variety of trees. The oak, which, as I have 
stated, monopolizes the valley below, here gives way 
to the lofty pine, spruce, red-wood, cedar, &c. 

I had heard at San Francisco of the large yield of 
vegetables on this farm, and made inquiry as to its 
truth. I found the statement to be correct ; and that 
from two acres of onions planted near the house, Mr. 
Kilburn had realized last year, in the market of San 
Francisco, eight thousand dollars in cash. He also 
raised an immense number of cabbages and other vege- 
tables. In explanation of this, I ought to mention that, 
onions are considered the most valuable of all vege- 
tables among the gold miners, on account of their anti- 
scorbutic properties. They grow here to an enormous 
size, and give an immense yield. My own experience 
convinces me of the great value of onions where there 
is a predisposition to scurvy, and there is no vegetable 
which one craves more than this. Many have I bought 
at twelve and a half cents a piece, and eaten with more 
relish than I ever did an orange. 

In our ride to-day, we crossed the valley to examine 
some thermal springs, which are somewhat celebrated 
here. They are in a plain near the base of a small hill 


of conglomerate rock ; but owing to the wet and boggy- 
condition of the valley, we were unable to approach 
within thirty feet of them. Columns of steam were 
rising from them on all sides. These springs had been 
visited by Professor Shepard the year before, and some 
account of them given by him to the public* The 
temperature is said to be constantly changing. Pro- 
fessor S. heard that there was a place near the foot of 
Mount Helena, where the hot waters formerly flowed, 
but which had now ceased. This report induced him 
to visit the spot. " Externally," he says, " there was 
no uncommon appearance to indicate the locality. 
Neither a surplus or a scarcity of vegetation, and no 
appearance of scoria, tufa or travertine, as might have 
been expected." In one place, however, he found it 
slightly warm on the surface ; and on excavating to 
the depth of two feet, it became so hot that he could 
not bear his hand in the mud and clay. He inserted 
the bulb of his thermometer, and the mercury at once 
rose to one hundred and twenty degrees. The tem- 
perature of the springs we visited, varied from 105 to 
169 degrees. 

* See Silliman's Journal, Nov. 1851, p. 154. 




Mount Helena — Eussian inscription — Digger Indians — Dwellings — Mode 
of fishing — Dress — Pass the mountains — Meet bear hunters — Mode of 
cooking without utensils — Pluton River — The Geysers — Description of 
these phenomena — Effect of the water on wood — Extent of volcanic 
action — Return to Camp — Abundance of grizzly bears — Eecross the 
mountains — Return through Napa Valley — Visit to the Obsidian hills 
— Extensive use of this material by the Indians — Return to San Fran- 

March 21st Resumed our journey after breakfast ; 
and at Mr. Fowler's, three or four miles distant, met a 
man who manifested much curiosity in our researches, 
when he found us inquiring about mines and the vol- 
canic region. He showed Dr. Webb a specimen of 
ore, which, he said, was from that vicinity. The doc- 
tor at once pronounced it zinc, and expressed a doubt 
about its being found in the state in which it was 
exhibited to him. But the man insisted that his 
account of its origin was correct, and furthermore 
offered to conduct us to the spot ; whereupon we set 
off together under his guidance. Crossing the valley 
to the opposite side, he led us up a deep ravine, where 
he leaped from his horse and pointed out the rock from 


which he said the specimen was taken. An examina- 
tion showed it to be nothing but serpentine. He led 
the doctor to several ledges at some distance, but their 
character was the same. He had evidently been im- 
posed upon, for he acknowledged afterwards that he 
did not find the specimen himself. Many tricks of 
this kind are practised on the ignorant, and they even 
sometimes lead scientific men astray. 

While this man was hunting up his imaginary trea- 
sures, I ascended a small hill and took a sketch of the 
beautiful scenery around. Directly before me on the 
eastern side of the valley loomed up Mount Helena or 
Moyacino of the Russians. This is the highest moun- 
tain for a great distance around, none within seventy 
or eighty miles having as great an altitude. On its 
summit is an inscription in Russian characters on a 
plate of copper, giving the latitude and longitude of 
the place. We met several persons who had seen the 
tablet. The Russians had a settlement called Fort 
Rosse on Bodega Bay, opposite this mountain ; and 
the tablet was doubtless placed there to show the line 
of boundary which Russia claimed. 

The view here exhibited the finest alpine scenery 
I had yet seen in California, and showed that we were 
advancing northward as well as reaching a higher 

Reached Mr. Knight's, twelve miles from Kilburn's, 
at noon. Here the valley grew quite narrow, or rather 
terminated, it being intersected by a range of hills. 
At this place, another valley opened some two or three 
miles in width, and extended about ten miles farther 
to the north. 


Mr. Knight is a young man from Vermont, who 
came across the continent about seven years before our 
visit, with the first emigrants to Oregon. As the 
country did not suit him, he pushed his way south- 
ward, until he struck this valley. He owns a large 
tract of land here ; but in consequence of his distance 
from market, he has, very wisely, turned his attention 
from cultivating the soil, to that of raising stock. His 
isolated position, and the hills of grass and wild oats 
which surround him on every side, render it a most 
advantageous one for this purpose. Although sur- 
rounded by wild beasts and warlike Indians, and with 
no neighbor within twelve miles of him, he had not 
forgotten all the enjoyments that belong to civilized 
communities, as was evinced by a piano-forte and a 
case well filled with books. 

An Indian village stood a few hundred yards from 
the house ; and at my request Mr. Knight went out 
and brought me three of the most intelligent among 
them, from whom I obtained a full vocabulary of their 
language. Like many other tribes of the country, and 
of this region in particular, they appeared to have no 
name for themselves as a people. By the white peo- 
ple, these and all other Indians between the Sacra- 
mento and the coast, and thence through the central 
parts of the State, are called "Diggers," or "Digger 
Indians," from, the fact that they live chiefly on roots, 
which they collect by digging. I therefore set them 
down as Indians of Napa Valley. We had met with 
-several small bands, and passed a few villages on our 
way up ; but from none could I learn that they had 
any name for their tribe. This fact will account for 


the great diversity in the names of the California 
Indians as given by travellers. In examining the 
various books on this country and articles in scientific 
journals, I find tribes mentioned by names which are 
not elsewhere to be found; and in my own inquiries 
I have found tribes who called themselves by names 
which I never heard of before. This has induced me 
to believe that the small tribes or bands, which abound 
here more than in any other part of North America, 
when asked to what tribe they belong, give the name 
of their chief, which is misunderstood by the inquirer 
to be that of the tribe itself. 

Their houses are circular, and from twelve to 
thirty feet in diameter, the interior usually excavated 
about three feet below the surface of the ground. 
Within this circle posts are planted, forked at the top, 
upon which rest poles reaching from one to the other. 
The spaces between the posts are filled in with sticks 
or tules, against which the earth is firmly banked up 
outside. The roofs are dome-shaped, and, in the 
smaller houses, supported by a single post in the cen- 
tre, on the forked top of which rest two main rafters, 
with their outer ends planted in the ground. From 
these are stretched stout poles, about a foot apart and 
thatched with sticks and tules, or rushes closely inter- 
woven, and covered with a solidly pressed layer of 
earth about a foot thick, making a roof completely 
water proof in the heaviest rains. In some villages 
the houses have but one aperture, which is on the top 
of the roof, and serves for both door and chimney. 
This is entered by a sort of rude ladder, or by notches 
cut in the centre-post. Others have an ojDening at the 



side, so small as not to be entered except by crawling 
on the hands and knees. Around the sides of the 
interior are wide shelves, formed of poles and rushes 
resting on forked posts, which serve for beds. 

Summer huts of California Indians. 

In the view of the interior of one of their dwell- 
ings is seen a number of decoy ducks which they use 
to good advantage. Although the California tribes 
exhibit much skill in fishing and in trapping game, 
and the erection of their dwellings, they show little in- 
genuity in the arts of design. The accompanying rude 
figure in wood, of a woman and child, which was 


found on the coast, is all that I have seen of their carv- 

The Indians dwelling near the great rivers of Cali- 
fornia make much dependence upon the salmon and 
sturgeon which they can take. For this purpose they 
use both nets and spears. When the river is wide, 
the nets are stretched by means of booms projecting 
from the banks, sometimes a hundred feet into the 
stream. These booms are made of the trunks of trees, 
fastened together at the ends, and kept at a right angle 
with the shore by stays of grape, vine stretching from 
the boom to trees or stakes. Beneath the outer end 
of the boom is a float or raft of tule, upon which is 
stuck a branch gaily trimmed with feathers and other 
ornaments, as a charm to secure success. Other charms, 
usually made of bunches of feathers raised upon poles, 
are displayed along the bank, where are also one or 
two huts for the party in attendance. One of the 
party holds constantly in his hand a line attached to 
the net, by means of which he can feel when a large 



fish is entangled, whereupon the net is hauled in and 
the prize secured. 

California Indians catching salmon. 

When a sturgeon is caught, the spinal marrow, 
which is considered a delicacy, is drawn out whole, 
through a cut made in the back, and devoured raw, 
with a rapidity quite startling to one not aware of the 
strength of an Indian's stomach. 

The spear is a very ingenious and effective con- 
trivance. When thrown into a fish, the head., which 
is of bone with a line attached towards the point, 
detaches itself from the pole, which serves as a drag 
to weary out the fish. As soon ns the pole can be 
seized, nothing remains but to haul the prey in. 

The men either go naked or wear a simple breech- 
cloth. The women wear a cloth or strips of leather 
around their loins. A basket pointed at the lower 


end, is in universal use among theni, for gathering the 
roots and seeds which form their chief subsistence. 
This is carried on their backs, supported by a band 
across the forehead. Their arms of defence are bows 
and arrows. Some tribes, however, make use of the 
spear or lance. In one respect the California Indians 
differ from all others. I allude to their beards, which 
are generally permitted to grow. It is true they are 
not as thick and bushy as in the white race, but short, 
thin, and stiff. I have never seen them extend beyond 
the upper lip and the chin. The hair of all the Cali- 
fornia Indians I have seen is cut short. 

After partaking of an excellent dinner, we took 
leave of our host. For several miles our journey ex- 
tended over a plain hemmed in on all sides, on which 
large herds of cattle were grazing ; then came ranges 
of low hills, all covered with wild oats or clover. The 
cattle truly luxuriated here. A ride of twelve miles, 
alternately over low hills and valleys, and winding 
through clusters of trees and shrubbery, brought us to 
the establishment of MacDonald, the last settler in this 
part of the country, towards Oregon. We received a 
cordial welcome from Mr. MacDonald and his wife, — 
a young woman of twenty, who must have some cou- 
rage to settle down in this lonely spot. On making 
known' my intention to visit the volcanic region, Mr. 
MacDonald consented to be our guide, although busily 
engaged in putting in his crops. 

Having an hour or two to spare before dark, I 
took a sketch of the valley and adjoining mountains, 
all of which presented a most picturesque appearance. 
The valley is here very limited, being confined to 


patches of from twenty to fifty acres, but all connected 
by a small and never-failing stream of excellent water. 
The object of our friend in settling here was to secure 
to himself a large tract of land without encroachment. 
Thus he has a section of good tillable land of one hun- 
dred and sixty to two hundred acres, and on the low 
hills around it about four thousand acres excellent for 
grazing purposes. Having secured all the valley, no 
one would take up land on the hills. His section 
would, therefore, give him the use of the large tract 
adjacent, which was all he required. 

March lid. Took an early breakfast, and started 
at seven o'clock. MacDonald led the way, and we 
followed him in Indian file. We had now no more 
beautiful valleys or grassy plains to traverse. Nothing 
but a succession of lofty and rugged mountains lay 
before us, through the intricacies of which we had to 
wind our way. There was no road, nor even a trail, 
save those made by wild animals, of which there was 
an abundance in these parts. Our guide often directed 
our attention to the huge tracks of the grizzly and 
brown bear, and again to those of the elk, which con- 
stantly crossed and recrossed our path. He had been 
several times to the place we were going, and knew 
the country well ; yet so wild and rugged was it, so 
dense the forest, and with such a succession of ascents 
and descents, that he sometimes seemed at a loss which 
way to go. The general direction was well known ; 
but among such a number of deep gorges and ravines, 
mountains, hills, and valleys, it was no easy task to 
select the right one ; and a mistake in the mazes of such 
a place would leads us into inextricable difficulties. 


At noon, having been five hours in the saddle, we 
stopped to rest ourselves, as well as our animals, on 
one of the elevated spurs, from which we had a grand 
view of a vast stretch of country towards the coast. 
Some ten or fifteen miles distant lay Russian River, 
winding its way along a beautiful valley, bounded by a 
succession of hills ; and beyond this rose the coast range 
of mountains. While the animals were grazing, I took 
a sketch of this enchanting spot. 

Pursuing our journey still over hills and through 
ravines ; forcing our way among the thorny chapporal 
and thickets ; — now winding along the side of a steep 
hill, where a single misstep would throw horse and 
rider some hundred feet below, and now leading our 
frightened animals up some precipitous ascent where 
it was unsafe to ride them, we at length reached the 
summit of the mountain beyond. From this elevated 
point the view was grand beyond description. On the 
east, far in the distance, the horizon was bounded by 
the snow-capped summits of the Sierra Nevada, form- 
ing a well marked line with the deep blue of the ho- 
rizon. Nearer, and on every side, lay mountains 
of every variety of form ; some rugged and bare, 
others covered with a deep Alpine foliage, while 
others again of less height, from their yellow hue, 
seemed clothed with the rich verdure of wild oats. 
Four or five miles distant, in an opening surrounded 
by rugged mountains, lay Clear Lake. 

After following the summit we were now on, for 
a couple of miles, we began to descend again into the 
deep gorge, through which runs Pluton River, on whose 
banks are the volcanic phenomena and geysers of 


which we were in search. The descent was here so 
steep that we were obliged to dismount from our ani- 
mals and lead them down. Our progress was now 
necessarily rapid, and we soon reached the base of the 
mountain. Here we suddenly came upon four men, 
who had come out a few days before us from MacDo- 
nald's to amuse themselves in hunting the grizzly bear. 
We reached this place at four o'clock, a distance of 
but sixteen miles, after a most fatiguing journey ; 
although the beauty and variety of the scenery well 
repaid us for the effort. As there was still a descent 
of five hundred feet to the stream, and a mile to the 
geysers, we determined to leave their examination till 
morning, and devote the remainder of the day to rest 
and the preparation of our dinner. 

As the hunters had nothing but bear's meat in 
store, three of them took their rifles and went out to 
procure a deer for dinner. In less than an hour all 
returned, each bringing with him the hind quarters of 
a fine deer, having been equally successful in their 
short hunt. While they were absent, our servant had 
made a fire, and got a kettle of boiling water ready 
for making coffee. In ten minutes after their return, 
the venison and bear's meat were roasting before the 
fire, and emitting the most appetizing odors. 

The method of preparing a fine game dinner with- 
out a single cooking utensil deserves to be mentioned. 
First, a number of sticks are cut about two feet in 
length, the size of one's finger, divested of their bark, 
and sharpened at one end. These correspond to the 
spits in civilized roast-ovens. The meat is now cut up 
into pieces about three quarters of an inch in thickness 


and half the size of one's hand, with a hole in the cen- 
tre. Through these the sharpened stick is thrust, and 
its lower end planted in the ground before the fire. 
As our fare consisted of venison and bear's meat, suc- 
cessive layers of each were put upon the sticks, the fat 
of the latter, as it dripped down, basting and furnish- 
ing an excellent gravy to the former. In fifteen 
minutes, with occasional turning, the dinner was pro- 
nounced ready to be served up. 

Being unprovided with the luxury of a table, we 
seated ourselves on the grass, beneath the wide-spread- 
ing boughs of a tree, and a few yards from the fire, in 
order to be near the kitchen, and to have our meats 
and coffee warm. Before each person was stuck in the 
ground a stick of the roasted meat. A bag of hard 
bread (pilot bread), some sugar, salt, and pepper, 
were placed near, and each man was provided with a 
tin cup filled with coffee. Thus furnished, and with 
sharp appetites, we fell to, and never was a feast more 
heartily appreciated. Our coffee and bread were 
excellent ; and those who were not satisfied with one 
stick of meat, found another ready at the fire when 
the first was gone. 

By the time we had finished our dinner, it was 
dark. We then sat for an hour or two listening to the 
feats and adventures related to us by the hunters before 
referred to, all of which were exciting and full of 
interest ; after which, one by one, we rolled ourselves 
in our blankets, and dropped asleep, dreaming of grizzly 
bears, elk, venison, and the wild scenery we had been 
enjoying during the day. 

March 23d Was up by sunrise, after an excellent 


night's rest ; and took a bath in the waters of a little 
stream that tumbled down within twenty feet of our 
camp-fire, by which time our breakfast was ready. 
This was a counterpart of yesterday's dinner, viz., 
bear's meat, venison, hard-bread, and coffee. Having 
dispatched it, we set off for the geysers : Dr. Webb, 
with his hammer and leather bags for minerals, and 
with boxes and bottles for small zoological specimens ; 
Mr. Thurber, with his portfolio for plants ; and I, with 
my sketch-book. We were all provided with pistols or 
rifles besides. It would have been easier and attended 
with less risk, to make the descent on foot; but we 
were obliged to go on horseback, on account of having 
to ford the stream. The river or creek was from thirty 
to forty feet wide where we crossed it, about half up 
the horse's middle, and very rapid. On either side, 
the banks were rocky and steep, rendering it some- 
what difficult, though with steady animals not a dan- 
gerous passage. About a quarter of a mile from the 
opposite bank we dismounted, unsaddled our animals, 
and staked them out to feast themselves on the rich 
clover which there abounded, and then completed our 
journey on foot. A few hundred yards brought us to 
the first of the geysers, or " volcanoes," as they were 
called by our guide. I should not forget to remark, that 
we saw in several ravines, as we passed along, traces of 
former volcanic action. The rocks were bare, and in a 
decomposed state, showing the effects of heat or fire, 
although no heat was then perceptible. 

At the first place we stopped, there was a show of 
about half an acre of decomposed granite, and other 
rocks, from cavities in which issued fumes of sulphur 


and small quantities of steam. At these places were 
beds of crystallized sulphur; and in others, sulphur 
was exposed on turning up with a stick the exterior 
crust. There was every appearance around us that the 
rocks had been subjected to an intense heat, which was 
now gradually abating. After collecting specimens of 
the sulphur and adjacent rocks, _ we continued further 

Another quarter of a mile, over steep hills and across 
deep ravines, brought us to the principal "geysers." 
Here was truly a grand prospect, and difficult to de- 
scribe by one unacquainted with such scenes ; for to 
speak with scientific precision of such a remarkable spot 
as this, the writer should be familiar with volcanic regions 
and know something of similar phenomena. The action 
here was confined within a narrow ravine, in the moun- 
tain side, running nearly at right angles with Pluton 
River, which we had crossed. The banks were from 
one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and fifty 
feet in height, breaking in from the mountain, which 
rose up from ten to fifteen hundred feet above, and 
were wholly composed of decomposed rocks. In the 
chasm beneath us, columns of steam were spouting out 
on every side ; while deep at the bottom, ran a small 
rivulet. Vegetation of luxuriant growth crowded close 
upon the crumbling rocks, consisting of various kinds 
of shrubbery, pines, oaks, firs, &c. 

We clambered down to the spot where the scoria 
or burnt rock first appeared, and seated ourselves 
sunder the shade of a pine tree. From this point I 
ttook a sketch looking down the gorge. On each side 
of where we sat, some twenty or thirty feet below, a 


small stream came tumbling down, concealed from view 
by dense foliage, and united at the base of a jutting 
mass of rocks, as seen in the sketch. I thrust a staff, 
which I carried with me, some three or four feet into 
the crumbled granite beneath ; which led us to think 
it not quite safe to remain where we were. From this 
place, we got down with some difficulty to the bottom 
of the gorge, where the main stream ran. The water 
was here cold and pure, exhibiting no unpleasant taste. 
A few yards further brought us into the midst of the 
puffing geysers, or steam-jets ; for I knew not by what 
other name to call them. Fumes of sulphur here met 
our nostrils at every step, while the rustling steam, as 
it spouted from a hundred cavities, completely envel- 
oped us. The latter did not issue in one continuous 
column, but at short intervals, as from the pipe of a 
high pressure engine. It was with some difficulty that 
we could breathe here among the fumes of sulphur and 
the steam; and we crouched low in the bed of the 
rocky stream to avoid them. In cavities along both 
banks, and near the running brook, was boiling water, 
which rose and fell, accompanied by a loud gurgling 
noise, resembling that of a gigantic steam condeilser. 
In one of these cavities, stones as large as an egg 
were in a state of commotion, presenting a curious 
resemblance to a pot of boiling potatoes. I held my 
hand fifteen inches above this boiling pot, at which 
distance the water scalded it, From this cavity to the 
running stream, was just the width of my hand ; though 
"the surface of the boiling water in the cavity, was about 
a foot above the running water. The whole of this 
violent commotion was accompanied by a tremendous 


noise beneath the earth's surface, quite equal to and 
resembling, .that made by several ocean steamers, letting 
off their steam through their large pipes, loud, deep, 
and harsh. There was no cessation to this awful roar, 
but one continued noise, as though a vast workshop 
beneath was in full operation. 

The banks of the gorge were now too steep to 
attempt to ascend, nor would it have been safe to do so 
among so many jets of steam,boiling caldrons, and fumes 
of sulphur ; so we made our way down the gorge in the 
very bed of the stream, jumping from rock to rock, first 
on one side and then on the other, and occasionally, where 
the stream took a leap, letting ourselves down in the best 
way we could. Thus we worked our way along for 
about an hour, filled with admiration and wonder at 
the mysterious workings of nature around us. The 
water, as we advanced, grew warmer, in consequence 
of accessions from the boiling cavities along its mar- 
gin, until the stream became quite hot. We had here 
an opportunity to select a bath of any temperature, 
from one of icy coldness to that of one hundred and 
fifty degrees ; and we did not fail to improve it in some 
of the deeper basins of the stream, which seemed pre- 
pared by nature for such a purpose. 

Having thus refreshed ourselves, we clambered up 
the opposite bank ; and as we had now passed through 
that portion of the gorge which had been affected by 
the heat, we lay down awhile under the shade of a tree 
on the bank of Pluton River. Looking up here, we 
saw before us, at the distance of a few hundred yards, 
another of these volcanic wonders. This was directly 
on the north-east bank of the stream, and was marked 

Mm '' ' 




by a patch of decomposed rock of a whitish cast, cover- 
ing about an acre. Here also jets of steam issued 
forth, but not in so many places, nor with as much force 
as within the gorge just described. Dr. Webb and Mr. 
Thurber examined it, and afterwards visited several 
others, further up the river ; but none of them were 
found to equal the first in grandeur. I remained be- 
hind with Mr. Osborne, to take a sketch from the bank 
where we stood, showing these last named geysers, 
and the deep mountain gorge through which Pluton 
River runs. The scenery here was truly grand. Im- 
mense pines grew on the mountain sides and tops, 
while oaks and smaller trees filled the narrow valleys 
and ravines, which the rains had made. Just below us 
ran the river, dashing over rocks in its steep descent, 
and often concealed by the thick foliage which over- 
hung it. 

Mr. Osborne and myself then returned and crossed 
the foot of the gorge where the great geysers are, with 
the iritention of getting a view of the chasm looking 
up towards the point from which I had taken my first 
sketch. To reach this point was easier said than done, 
and proved the most difficult and only dangerous 
adventure of the day. However, by lying flat on our 
breasts and working a resting-place or notch with our 
feet in the crumbling rocks, and occasionally laying 
hold of a projecting root, we succeeded in reaching 
the desired point. Here, on a projecting cliff, grew a 
few shrubs of the manacita, beneath which I crept on 
my hands and knees ; and having reached the point, 
sat down and took a sketch, while my companion re- 
freshed himself beneath the shade. 


From this point is a fine view of the chasm or 
gorge, with the little stream at the bottom, and the 
jets of steam spouting from its sides. The projecting 
rock, near which I took the first sketch, is seen at the 
head of the gorge, and in the centre of the picture. 
Close upon the decomposed rock appears the luxuriant 
vegetation ; while the mountain, towering far above all, 
forms the background. 

The decomposed rocks, of which I have so often 
spoken, are in general of a whitish cast, curiously 
interspersed with spots of every hue. I noticed many 
patches of deep red, and some of light yellow and 
green ; while here and there were others of black, 
brown, and slate color. 

Having completed my sketches, we hastened back 
to the place where we had left our animals. Here we 
threw ourselves on the grass in a deep grove near the 
bank of the mountain torrent, to await the return of 
Dr. Webb, Mr. Thurber, and MacDonald. At the 
same time I sent my' servant ahead to our place of 
encampment to build a fire, put on a kettle of water, 
and make other preparations for dinner. Within half 
an hour our friends made their appearance, when we 
mounted our nags, recrossed the river, and, after a 
little hard tugging up the mountain, reached our 
camp fire in safety, delighted with the adventures of 
the day. 

I am not aware that this interesting spot has been 
visited by any man of science, except Professor Shep- 
herd, of Western Reserve College, Ohio ; and as 
his experience and profession better fitted him for 
investigations in such phenomena than mine, I quote a 


portion of his remarks, which will convey a fuller and 
clearer idea than rny feeble description. My time 
while there was short, and mostly spent in making 
sketches, and in collecting a few specimens of sulphur 
and of the contiguous rocks ; nor had I the means 
of testing; or examining the waters. 

" You may here find sulphur water," says Professor 
Shepherd,* " precisely similar to the celebrated Wliite 
Sulphur of Green Brier County, Virginia, except its icy 
coldness. Also red, blue, and even black sulphur 
water, both cold and hot. Also pure limpid hot water, 
without any sulphur or chlorine salts ; calcareous hot 
waters, magnesian, chalybeate, etc., in almost endless 
variety. Every natural facility is afforded for either 
vapor, shower, or plunging baths. Where the heated 
sulphuretted hydrogen gas is evolved, water appears 
to be suddenly formed, beautiful crystals of sulphur 
deposited (not sublimated as by fire), and more or less 
sulphuric acid generated. In some places the acid 
was found so strong as to turn black kid gloves almost 
immediately to a deep red. * * * From nume- 
rous experiments made here and in the mountains of 
Virginia, I am confident that all sulphur springs possess 
a high temperature, after descending below the cold 
surface water. Notwithstanding the rocks are so hot 
as to burn your feet through the soles of your boots, 
there is no appearance of a volcano in this extraordi- 
nary spot. There is no appearance of lava. You find 
yourself standing not in a solfatara, nor one of the 
salses described by the illustrious Humboldt. The rocks 

* Silliman's Journal for November, 1851, p. 156. 


around you are rapidly dissolving under the powerful 
metaniorpliic action going on. Porphyry and jasper 
are transformed into a kind of potter's clay. Pseudo- 
trappean rocks are consumed much like wood in a slow 
fire, and go to form sulphate of magnesia and other 
products. Granite is rendered so soft that you may 
crush it between your fingers, and cut it as easily as 
unbaked bread. The feldspar appears to be converted 
partly into alum. In the mean time the boulders and 
angular fragments brought down the ravines and river 
by floods are being cemented into a firm conglomerate ; 
so that it is difficult to dislodge even a small pebble, 
the pebble itself breaking before the conglomerate 

"The thermal action on wood in this place is also 
highly interesting. In one mound I discovered the 
stump of a large tree silicified ; in another, a log 
changed to lignite or brown coal. Other fragments 
appeared midway between petrifaction and carboniza- 
tion. In this connection, finding some drops of a very 
dense fluid, and also highly refractive, I was led to 
believe that pure carbon might, under such circum- 
stances, crystallize and form the diamond. Unfortu- 
nately for me, however, I lost the precious drop in 
attempting to secure it. 

" A green tree cut down and obliquely inserted in 
one of the conical mounds, was so changed in thirty- 
six hours that its species would not have been recog- 
nised except from the portion projecting outside, 
around which beautiful crystals of sulphur had already 

According to the statement of MacDonald, our 


guide, who had made several visits to the geysers, 
their activity has greatly diminished, or we saw them 
under less favorable auspices than usual. He said that 
when last here the water spouted up from five to ten 
feet in height ; that the jets of steam were much larger 
and more steady ; and furthermore, that a day often ex- 
hibited a material difference. That the action has les- 
sened, and nearly ceased, is certain as respects the first 
one we visited ; for it now appears like an expiring fire. 

When Professor Shepherd visited this place, a year 
before us, he says that within the space of half a mile 
square he "discovered from one to two hundred open- 
ings, through which the steam issued with violence, 
sending up columns of steam to the height of one hun- 
dred and fifty to two hundred feet," * * * and again, 
" throwing out jets or volumes of hot scalding water 
some twenty or thirty feet, endangering the lives of 
those who stood near. In some places the steam and 
water came in contact, so as to produce a constant jet 
cVeau, or spouting fountain, with a dense cloud above 
the spray, affording vivid prismatic hues in the sun- 
shine." With such jets of water and steam as these, 
the grandeur of this extraordinary spot would be 
greatly enhanced. 

Our dinner was soon ready, and we seated our- 
selves on the grass again, with appetites sharpened by 
a long fast and a laborious tramp of nearly ten hours. 
Sticks of the same delicious bear's meat, and veni- 
son were placed before us, with a second course, on 
smaller sticks, of some fine grouse which MacDonald 
had shot. This was a bird I had not before seen. It 
was larger than the ordinary prairie fowl, and proved 


delicious eating. A bath followed our repast, after 
which we rolled ourselves up in our blankets and lay 
down for the night. The novelties of the day occupied 
our attention for an hour, when we quietly dropped off, 
and slept as soundly under the protection of the 
spreading oak as beneath a tent or in the most luxurious 
chamber. These were the first nights I spent in the 
open air, on the bare ground, since I was taken sick near 
Ures ; and I felt a little uneasiness at being so exposed. 
But I neither took cold nor suffered any other incon- 
venience from it, although in the month of March. 
One soon becomes habituated to this mode of life, and 
is less liable to colds and illness than when sleeping 
under a roof with the addition of comfortable fires. 

I learned from the hunters who were with us the 
first night that this region abounds in game, particu- 
larly bears, elk, and deer. They had been here but 
three days before our arrival, and in that time they 
had seen no less than thirty-two bears, most of them 
of the grizzly species ; the others of the brown and 
black varieties. Of these they had killed and obtained 
two ; three they had wounded and lost. Of deer they 
had also killed many. The bear's sense of smelling is 
so good, that they soon found out our proximity, and 
gave us a wide berth. Deer were seen all around us. 

March 24$h. Our excellent guide and hunter, 
MacDonald, called us to breakfast at daylight; soon 
after taking which we mounted our animals and began 
the ascent of the mountain, whose summit we speedily 
attained. On looking at the valley beyond, we found 
it completely buried in a fog, the tops of the moun- 
tains alone being visible. These appeared like islands 


and long necks of land in the midst of a vast body of 
water. While we were on the crest of the high range, 
a dense fog so completely enveloped us that we could 
see nothing but the point on which we stood. We 
made our way back much more rapidly than we came, 
it being earlier in the day and much cooler ; so that 
by twelve o'clock we were at MacDonald's place, 
where we dined and allowed our animals to feed and 

At half-past two we bade farewell to our kind and 
hospitable hosts, Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald, and resum- 
ed our journey. Stopped for fifteen minutes at Mr. 
Knight's, when we again pushed on, and reached Mr. 
Kilburn's at sunset. This gentleman was now at 
home, and gave us a warm reception. We learned 
many particulars from him corroborating the statements 
we had heard of the extraordinary fertility of the soil 
in Napa Valley, as well as the great yield of vegeta- 
bles on his own land, of which I have before spoken. 

March 25th. Took an early start, first making 
inquiries of Mr. Kilburn about the locality of some 
hills of " black flint" which we had heard of. We had 
occasionally picked up along the road small pieces of 
obsidian, and were extremely desirous to find whence 
they came. After many inquiries we were directed 
to the farm of Mr. Kelly, who has a small mill on Napa 
Creek, a short distance from the road. We found Mr. 
Kelly at home ; and on making known our wishes to 
examine the place referred to, he took a spade and 
-accompanied us to the spot, about half a mile distant, 
on the eastern side of the valley. We found it to be 
a spur of the mountain ridge, about* eighty feet in 


height, projecting quite out into the plain. The whole 
seemed full of obsidian, covered with a layer of earth, 
on which is a thick growth of trees and shrubbery, 
save on the summit, where there is less soil. Here in 
many places the surface was covered, from six to 
twelve inches in depth, with broken pieces and small 
boulders of this volcanic substance, resembling a 
newly made macadamized road. 

Taking the spade, I scraped away the fragments 
and loose pieces to reach the mass below. This we 
found existing in a conglomerate state. The mass in 
which the obsidian is imbedded is quite soft and friable 
towards the surface ; so that it was difficult to detach 
it with the obsidian adhering to it, except in very 
small pieces. The largest of the specimens obtained 
was about the size and shape of an ostrich's egg^ from 
which they diminished to that of a pea. Many pre- 
sented sharp angles, where they had come in contact 
and been broken. The substance in which the obsi- 
dian is imbedded resembles a coarse mortar of lime, 
sand, and gravel. I took a sketch of Napa Valley 
from these hills, showing Mount Diabolo in the dis- 
tance, which is plainly seen from San Francisco and 

Obsidian is used by the Indians for their arrow- 
heads in all parts of North America west of the 
Rocky Mountains. It is found too among many tribes 
to the east of this range. The ancient Mexicans made 
of it the knives which they used in their sacrifices. 
We found small fragments of it along the Gila, wher- 
ever there had been any Indian villages; and also 
among the ruins of the Casas Grandes, in Chihuahua, 


as well as those of the Gila and Salinas Rivers. The 
Apaches had arrows pointed with the same material. 
Yet I know of no other locality where obsidian is 
found in place in any of the regions visited by the 
Boundary Commission except this. All the specimens 
we saw were black, occasionally with a smoky or 
brownish tint.* 

We now continued our journey, and reached Mr. 
Osborne's at two o'clock. After dinner we rambled 
over the adjacent hills to obtain a better view of this 
delightful valley, which lost none of its beauties from 
whatever point it was observed. 

On the opposite side of the mountains which 
bound Napa Valley on the west, is Sonoma Valley. 
This is similarly situated, running north and south 
between ranges of low mountains. It likewise pos- 
sesses great fertility, but has not the picturesque 
beauty of Napa. The same may be said of the valleys 
of Petaluma, Novato, and San Rafael. 

March 2Qth. Took an early breakfast and bade 
adieu to our kind and gentlemanly host, who intended 
to follow us in a few hours. We did not wait for him, 
as he wished to stop on the way, and I was desirous to 
pay my respects to General Hitchcock and the other 
officers at Benicia before returning to San Francisco. 

* Obsidian is said by Pliny (Nat. Hist, xxxvi. 26) to have been 
first found in Ethiopia by a person named Obsidius, from whom it de- 
rives its name. It occurs also in various parts of Europe, Asia, and 
America, and in the vicinity of most volcanoes. Pliny says that gems. 
" and sometimes whole statues, were made of it. He also speaks of four 
elephants of obsidian, which were dedicated by Augustus in the temple 
of Concord. 


As it was quite cool, we were enabled to ride fast and 
reach Benicia by two o'clock. Took dinner, and 
afterwards walked out to the military post, when I made 
my calls upon the officers there. Mr. Osborne joined 
us at five o'clock, and at seven we took the steamboat 
for San Francisco, where we arrived at nine. 




Leave San Francisco — San Jose Valley — Fertility of the soil — Mission of 
Santa Clara — San Jose — New Almaden — Quicksilver mine — Mode of 
extracting the ore — Large tanks of quicksilver — Account of the quick- 
silver mines of Spain — Production of this metal in all parts of the 
"world — Situation of the New Almaden mine — Descent into it — How 
worked — Laborers — Extent of the mine — Effect of the mercury on 
laborers — History of the mine — Eeturn to San Francisco — Captain Sut- 
ter — His history. 

I remained in San Francisco until the 2d of April, to 
close up my business there before returning to San 
Diego. To make the most of my time while in Cali- 
fornia, I determined to undertake the journey to Mon- 
terey by land, first sending forward our outfit and 

No event of interest happened while here except a 
trip which, in company with a small party, we at- 
tempted to make in the steamer Active, Capt. Alden, 
attached to the U. S. Coast Survey, to the Faralones. 
These are some small rocky islands, which lie twenty- 
five or thirty miles off the entrance to the Bay of San 
Francisco. The party, however, were so late in 
assembling, that after getting outside the entrance or 
Golden Gate, it was found we could not reach the 


islands before nightfall.; in consequence of which the 
voyage was abandoned. 

April 2d. Left San Francisco at 8 o'clock in the 
stage for San Jose, forty miles distant. We were 
accompanied by Doctor A. Randall, a gentleman of 
science long resident in the country, and familiar with 
its localities of interest. Our course was south through 
the San Jose valley, which in many respects resembles 
the beautiful valley of Napa. It is entirely flat, with 
scarcely an undulation. Like the former, it is filled 
in many places with large wide-spreading oaks. There 
are also spaces for miles destitute of trees or shrubs, 
resembling the broad grassy plains of lower Texas ; 
while again appear beautiful groves and clusters of 
oaks, cypresses, and sycamores, as picturesquely dis- 
posed as if planted by the hand of a skilful landscape 
gardener. The soil is rich, and was covered with a 
luxuriant growth of wild clover and grass. This val- 
ley extends for more than a hundred miles towards 
Monterey, being separated from the coast by a range 
of low mountains. Its width for a long distance after 
leaving San Francisco is not less than fifteen miles, 
though it diminishes as we approach San Jose. Yet 
this entire valley has all been taken up, and covered 
with claims upon claims; so that for many years to 
come the lawyers will doubtless derive the largest 
income from it. As yet there are few settlers upon it, 
and but little land under cultivation. When we take 
into consideration the extraordinary fertility of the 
soil in California, it will be seen that such an immense 
tract as this San Jose valley is capable of producing a 
vast deal towards supplying the State with food. Its 

tin is 

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value is justly appreciated by the people ; as is shown 
by the readiness with which the stock for a railroad to 
connect San Jose with San Francisco was taken up. 

The road is excellent for the entire distance, and 
the stage rolled rapidly over it. Three miles from San 
Jose we passed the mission of Santa Clara, a collection 
of old buildings with a church. Here the land seemed 
to have been long under cultivation, judging from the 
long rows of venerable and gigantic overgrown oaks 
which border the road. There were also some fine 
large orchards and vineyards here, which belong to the 
mission. But the stage did not stop ; and we had no 
time to examine it. At half-past four, we reached 
San Jose.* 

* I cannot refrain from quoting a passage from Vancouver, one of 
the most reliable of the early voyagers to California, giving an account 
of his journey from Monterey to Santa Clara. The reader will be struck 
with the resemblance between this district as described by him and the 
beautiful valley I visited north of San Francisco. 

" We considered our route to be parallel to the sea-coast ; between 
which and out path, the ridge of mountains extended to the south-east- 
ward ; and as we advanced, their sides and summits exhibited a high 
degree of luxuriant fertility, interspersed with copses of various forms 
and magnitude, and verdant open spaces enriched with stately fruit- 
trees of different descriptions.. About noon we arrived at a very pleasant 
and enchanting lawn, situated amidst a grove of trees at the foot of a 
small hill, by which flowed a very fine stream of excellent water. We 
had not proceeded far from this delightful spot, when we entered a 
country I little expected to find in these regions. For about twenty 
miles, it could only be compared to a park which had originally been 
planted with the true old English oak ; the underwood that had pro- 
bably attained its early growth, had the appearance of having been clear- 
ed away, and had left the stately lords of the forest in complete posses- 
sion of the soil, which was covered with luxuriant herbage, and beauti- 


Santa Clara was but recently occupied by a priest ; 
it has now shared the fate of all the other missions of 
the State, which have either been abandoned or have 
fallen into the hands of speculators. 

April 3d After breakfast, walked about the town, 
but found nothing of interest. The pueblo of San Jose, 
is an old place ; its admirable situation, at the head of 
the rich and beautiful valley I have described, attract- 
ed the attention of the Americans soon after the subju- 
gation of the country, and it was selected as the capitol 
of the State. This gave to it an impetus, and brought 
it at once into notice. Many hotels and other build- 
ings soon sprang up, a large city was laid out, and, as 
is usual in such cases, much money was made and lost. 
But its growth was as suddenly checked by the subse- 
quent selection of another place for the future capitol. 
It is situated about five miles from the southern extremi- 
ty of the Bay of San Francisco ; and being in the centre 
of one, of the most fertile districts in the State, it will 
yet become its first agricultural town. 

On inquiring for Indians here, I learnt that there 
was a woman of the San Luis Obispo tribe, living in 
the place. I lost no time in calling upon her, and found 
she was married to an American. She proved, as I had 
heard, to be quite an intelligent person, about 35 years 
of age, living in a comfortable house with her family 
around her. On my requesting to know the principal 

fully diversified with pleasing eminences and valleys ; which, with the 
lofty range of mountains that bounded the prospect, required only to be 
adorned with the neat habitations of an industrious people, to produce 
a scene not inferior to the most studied effect of taste in the disposal of 
grounds." — Vancouver 's Voyages, vol. ii. p. 16. 


words of her language, she readily complied ; and in a 
few hours, I obtained a most satisfactory vocabulary. 

In the afternoon, we took the stage for New Alma- 
den, thirteen miles distant. Our route lay through a 
valley of unequalled beauty, the entire distance being 
dotted with large oaks and sycamores, with an occasional 
clump of firs and red-woods, the latter towering high 
above all others. There are some clusters of these red- 
woods of enormous size between here and Monterey, 
of which we heard much, and regretted that we had no 
time to visit them. On reaching the town, I drove at 
once to the house of Mr. Young, the superintendent 
of the quicksilver mines, to whom I had a letter of 
introduction from Captain Hallock, U. S. A. of San Fran- 
cisco, one of the officers of the Company. 

April 4tth. New Almaden consists exclusively of 
the buildings belonging to the company which owns 
the quicksilver mine. It embraces furnaces, store- 
houses, dwelling-houses for the officers and laborers, 
offices, mechanics' shops, &c. Many of them are of 
wood ; but a large and fine range of substantial brick 
buildings is now in the process of erection, to take the 
place of the wooden ones. The novelty of the business 
of extracting the quicksilver from the cinnabar, required 
a number of experiments, involving a very heavy ex- 
penditure ; for there was but one other mine in the 
world, that of Almaden in Spain, where the operation 
was carried on on a large scale, and it could not be 
expected that a rival company like this, whose opera- 
tions would effectually destroy the monopoly the latter 
had for ages enjoyed, would be permitted to derive- 
■ any information from their long experience. Machine- 


ry of various kinds was therefore imported from Eng- 
land and the United States at enormous cost, much of 
which has since been rejected, either on account of the 
great expense of running it, or its inadequacy to per- 
form the service required. Six furnaces are now in 
operation reducing the ore, all of which seem to be 
alike, and of the most simple construction. On these 
furnaces the ore is heaped. A steady, though not very 
strong fire, is then applied. As the ore becomes heat- 
ed, the quicksilver is sublimed ; and then being con- 
densed, it falls by its own weight, and is conducted by 
pipes which lead along the bottom of the furnace to 
small pots or reservoirs imbedded in the earth, each 
containing from one to two gallons of the ore. The 
furnaces are kept going night and day, while large 
drops or minute streams of the pure metal are constantly 
trickling down into the receptacles. From these it is 
carried to the store-house, and deposited in large cast- 
iron tanks, or vats. These are of various shapes and 
-sizes, and are fixed in solid beds of stone and mortar. 
'The largest, a square vat between four and five feet 
across, contained twenty tons of pure quicksilver. By 
way of illustrating the great specific gravity of this 
metal, a board was placed on it, upon which I sat, thus 
floating upon a bed of quicksilver ; yet my weight did 
not sink the board to the depth of a quarter of an inch. 
On thrusting my bare arm into this vat, a most singu- 
lar and chilling sensation was produced. I then took 
a stick of light and porous wood, which I immersed for 
about a minute ; and when I withdrew it, the metal had 
penetrated through every portion of it, so that in 
weight it was little less than the quicksilver itself. 


In the warehouse the metal is prepared for market. 
This is done by putting it into wrought iron flasks or 
canisters holding 75 pounds each. It is dipped up 
with ladles, and poured into the flasks through an ordi- 
nary tin funnel. The opening or neck of the flask 
(which in form is something like a junk bottle) is 
then stopped with a close-fitting screw, put in with a 
vice, so as to make it tight as possible. These flasks, 
which weigh twenty-five pounds each, are all made in 
England, where I suppose they can be furnished much 
cheaper than in the United States. From the ware- 
house the flasks are transported by ox-carts to tide- 
water, about twenty miles distant, whence they are 
shipped to San Francisco. The present (1852) price of 
the metal there is sixty cents a pound, a very great 
reduction from that which the quicksilver from Spain 
has commanded, though of equal quality. A shipment 
of a thousand flasks was lately made to Canton, by way 
of an experiment. In China it is chiefly used in the 
manufacture of vermilion and other articles of com- 

* As this is the only quicksilver mine yet known in the United 
States, and is only second in the world to that of Almaden, in Spain, a 
few words on the latter, and of other quicksilver mines, do not seem inap- 

Quicksilver, or mercury, has been known from the earliest ages, but 
is found nowhere in large quantities, except in Spain and California- 
Almaden has long been famed for its mines of this metal, which, accord- 
ing to Bowles, are the richest in their produce, the most instructive as 
to the mode of working them, the most curious for their natural history, 
and the most ancient in the world. We find them mentioned in Theo- 
phrastus, three hundred years before Christ, and Vitruvius also speaks 
of them. Pliny places Cisapona, or as it is sometimes written Sisapona, 


I did not learn what quantity was produced at the 
time of my visit here, but have since seen it stated to 
be about one thousand flasks per month, or nearly a 
million pounds a year. According to Dumas, the an- 

in Bsetica, and says that this mine was kept sealed with the greatest 
care, and was only opened to take the quantity of cinnabar necessary 
for the consumption of Rome. (Nat. Hist, xxxiii. 7.) The Romans con- 
sidered this mineral poisonous ; but notwithstanding this, their matrons 
painted their faces with it, and their painters employed it as a pigment. 
The Romans certainly worked this mine, but no traces remain of their 
labors. The Moors, perhaps owing to some prejudice, did not work it. 

" The country about Almaden abounds in iron mines ; and what is 
more surprising, in the same mine we find iron, mercury, and sulphur, 
mixed so as to form one mass. The neighboring hills are found of the 
same stone, and on all of them the same species of plants grow ; from 
which we may infer that the mercury does not possess any poisonous 
qualities, as is generally supposed, injurious to vegetation. 

" The brothers Mark and Christopher Fugger, of Germany, undertook 
to work this mine, and contracted to give the government four thousand 
five hundred quintals (of 100 lbs. each) of mercury, annually; but not 
being able to fulfil their promise, they abandoned it in 1635, together 
with the silver mine of Gualcanal, which they also had. While con- 
nected with these mines, however, their riches became proverbial in 
Spain, and their descendants live at present in Germany, with the rank 
of princes. A branch of this family afterwards took the mine, and worked 
it till 1645. In the following year, the government undertook the man- 
agement of it. Don Juan Bustamente established the furnaces, and also 
troughs for cooling the mineral. These furnaces are twelve, and are 
called by the names of the twelve apostles. Each is capable of contain- 
ing ten tons weight of stone. The furnace is kept burning for three days 
and the same period is required for cooling." — Introduction a la Geo- 
grafica Fisica y la Historia Natural de Espana. 

The other quicksilver mines worthy of notice, are one at Huancave- 
lica, in Peru ; at Idria in Carniola ; in Hungary, Transylvania, and the 
district of Deux Ponts in Germany. There is a mine of cinnabar near 
Alicante, and another' not far from San Felipe in Spain. Mercury has 


nual product of the Spanish mine at Almaden is about 
three millions of pounds. 

April 4dh. After breakfast we set out on foot for 
the mine, which is situated near the top of a mountain 
immediately adjoining the works. The ascent begins 
directly in the rear of the store-houses, by a well con- 
also been found in China and Japan : and though the amount of the 
produce is unknown, it is believed to be considerable. 

Le Play, a French geologist, who visited Almaden in 1833, describes 
the mines as being richer than at any former period, furnishing anually 
nearly 2, 244,000 pounds of mercury. About seven hundred workmen 
are employed under ground, and two hundred in the operations con- 
nected with extraction of the metal from the ore at the surface. 

According to Dumas, the following mines yield annually, the annex- 
ed number of quintals of mercury (a quintal is 108 lbs. avoirdupois, 
nearly) : 

Almaden (Spain) 25,000 to 32,000. 










Deux Ponts 












At present, it is understood that Messrs. Rothschild, of London, have 
the control of the Almaden mines. 

During the year 1853, the total exports of quicksilver from San Fran- 
cisco, amounted to 18,800 flasks, valued at $683,189. All this, together 
with the large amount used in California, was the produet of the New 
Almaden mine. The following shows to what points the quicksilver was 
exported: " Hongkong, 5,642 flasks, valued at $180,272 ; Shanghae, 
812,131,199; Canton, 366, $14,125 ; Whampoa, 300, $11,500; Cal- 
cutta, 50, $1,875 ; Mazatlan, 2,811, $96,250 ; Mazatlan and San Bias, 
255, $10,000; San Bias, 1,942, $72,463 ; Callao, 1,800, $66,500 ; Val- 
paraiso, 1,977, $71,875 ; New-York, 1,845, $77,180 ; Philadelphia, 
1,000, $50,000." 


structed road of gradual and easy ascent, which the 
Company has been engaged in making for the last six 
months. It is a mile in length, and is now only used 
by mules ; but it is intended to use carts and wagons 
on it. It winds the whole way along the side of the 
mountain, rising twenty-five feet in every hundred 
until you reach the mouth of the mine, at an elevation 
of a little less than one thousand feet above the com- 
mencement of the ascent. 

About one hundred and fifty feet, in a direct line 
below the opening, they were digging a tunnel for the 
purpose of intersecting the main shaft. This tunnel, 
which is cut entirely through the solid rock, had 
already pierced the mountain seven or eight hundred 
feet, and will, when completed, be not much short of 
one thousand feet. It is about eight feet high, and 
between eight and ten feet wide. This will prove a 
vast saving in labor ; for the ore up to the time of our 
visit was transported on the backs of men in leather 
sacks from the bottom of the shafts to the entrance to 
the mine, a distance of from two hundred and fifty to 
three hundred feet. It is not the cinnabar alone that 
has to be thus carried from the bottom of the mine, 
but the refuse rock, which forms a greater bulk than 
the ore itself. It cannot be separated in the mine, 
but has all to be brought to the surface. 

We waited for Mr. Bester, the engineer, to join us 
before entering the mine ; and as he had not returned 
from San Jose, where we left him, we determined to 
forego the examination of its interior to-day, and con- 
tent ourselves with what we could see on the sur- 


The mountain rises one hundred and sixty feet 
above the entrance to the mine, terminating in a cone. 
On a level with the entrance, a quarter of a mile dis- 
tant, is the village, perched on the very summit of a 
rock, in which the miners live with their families. 
This mountain, as well as the others adjoining it, is 
covered with grass, and dotted with small oaks to its 
summit. There is nothing to distinguish the mountain 
in which the mine is worked from the others ; hence 
it is reasonable to suppose that they may also contain 
veins of cinnabar. The intervening valleys are well 
wooded, and have a thick undergrowth. 

April 5th. Set out this morning for the mine, ac- 
companied by Mr. Bester, on mules, as the journey up 
was fatiguing, and we wished to preserve our strength 
for the exploration of the various shafts. On reach- 
ing the entrance, we found all actively employed; — 
the laborers emerging every minute from the mines, 
bent under the weight of their loads, which they 
deposited under a shed about eighty feet from the 
opening. Here the ore was separated, the refuse being- 
thrown down the hill, and the rest laid aside to be 
sent to the furnaces. At the same time the mulada, or 
collection of some eighty or a hundred mules, was 
being loaded with the ore. This was put into sacks 
or panniers of raw hide, which hung across their 
backs like saddle-bags, each mule carrying on an 
average a carga, or three hundred pounds. Men stood 
by with a balance, in which every mule load was 
weighed, so that the exact quantity of ore sent to the 
furnaces is known. The weighing is also necessary ; 
as the company pays so much a carga for bringing it 


from the bottom to the surface, and for transporting it 
from the mine to the furnaces. This plan is preferred 
by the proprietors to that of employing the laborers 
directly themselves. The work is wholly performed 
by native Mexicans or Californians, the overseers and 
contractors who employ them being their countrymen, 
though of a better class. These men understand the 
management of their countrymen better than Ameri- 
cans do ; and the Mexican laborers are better arrieros, 
and understand all that appertains to the mule better 
than Americans. 

The laborers wore no clothing, save a breech- 
cloth, and a handkerchief around their heads. The 
arrieros had on but little more; a fancy colored 
calico shirt being the extent of their additional cos- 
tume. The laborers who bring up the ore to the sur- 
face make from forty to fifty trips a day. The mules 
make but two journeys from the mine to the furnaces, 
completing their day's labor by one o'clock. They are 
then turned out to feed in the valley or on the moun- 
tain side, where the grass is good. With so little 
labor, they are always in fine condition. About two 
hundred men are employed in the various operations 
carried on here. 

After being provided with torches, consisting of a 
candle fastened to the end of a stick, we commenced 
the descent of the mine, Mr. Bester, the engineer, 
taking the lead. We first advanced some sixty 
feet in a horizontal direction, after which the shaft 
takes a turn downwards, and soon after becomes perpen- 
dicular. In such places the descent is made on a single 
notched log, which is preferred by the miners to the 


common ladder ; and although very awkward at first, 
we soon got used to it. With one hand you take hold 
of the ladder, and with the other the torch. These lad- 
ders, although almost perpendicular, are seldom more 
than twelve or fifteen feet long, being separated by 
intervals, where the descent is more gradual, with 
steps cut in the rock. In this way we passed down 
through various shafts or veins to the bottom of the 
mine, two hundred feet below the entrance. Passa- 
ges following the veins of ore extend in every direc- 
tion, sometimes horizontal, then perpendicular, and 
again at every inclination. Their whole extent now 
exceeds seven thousand feet. When a vein is struck, 
it is followed as far as it can be with safety, what- 
ever may be its course. The engineer, who keeps 
before him a map of the mine, is obliged to have an 
eye to the support of the superincumbent mass. Some 
of the veins are five feet in diameter, others half that 
size. Some are also richer than others. 

In each of the veins is a single miner ; for not more 
than one can work to advantage in these narrow re- 
cesses. Picks, drills, and crowbars are the tools used. 
The miners are paid in different ways ; some at a stipu- 
lated price for each foot of the rock excavated, and 
others at a certain rate per carga (three hundred 
pounds) of ore carried to the surface. On reaching 
the greatest depth, where the ore is very rich, I took 
a pick and knocked off some fine specimens. We now 
retraced our steps, and reached the open air in safety.. 

It is an evidence of the admirable system pursued: 
here, and the watchful care exercised by the company 
over their employees, that no accident has yet happened. 

VOL. II. — 5 


to any miner or carrier engaged in these subterranean 
labors. The workmen, nevertheless, are not without 
their fears, and have taken their own method to secure 
* themselves from harm, by placing in a niche just with- 
in the entrance to the mine, an image of their saint, 
very prettily decorated with muslin and gaudy silks. 
Before this every man falls on his knees, and says his 
prayers, invoking the protection of the saint during the 
day. I have never seen a more happy and contented 
set of laborers than these. 

Knowing the effects of mercury on the system, the 
question will naturally arise in the mind of the reader 
as to whether those employed in the mine or about the 
furnaces suffer from their close contact with the ore or 
the quicksilver. The miners, and those who merely 
handle the cinnabar, are not injured thereby ; but those 
who work about the furnaces, and inhale the fumes of 
'the metal, are seriously affected. Salivation is common ; 
and the attendants on the furnaces are compelled to 
desist from their labor every three or four weeks, when 
a fresh set of hands is put on. The horses and mules 
are also salivated ; and from twenty to thirty of them 
die every year from the effects of the mercury. 

The ore, after it is deposited near the furnaces, is 
separated according to its quality. The larger masses 
are first broken up, and then all is piled up under 
sheds near the furnace doors. Seven or eight days are 
required to fill the furnaces, extract the quicksilver, 
and remove the residuum, the latter being the most 
dangerous part of the process. All is done as much 
in the open air as possible, the furnaces being merely 
protected by a roof. 


I took several sketches of the village of New Al- 
rnaden, as well as of the exterior of the mine, and the 
picturesque scenery in the vicinity. The company 
possess a large tract of land here, including mountain, 
hill, and valley. Much of it is well timbered. A fine 
stream of water runs directly through the village ; and 
on its very margin is a natural soda spring, which may 
yet make this spot doubly attractive. 

This mine was long known to the Indians, who 
resorted hither for the vermillion which they could col- 
lect from the cinnabar. They had dug some thirty or 
forty feet into the mountain ; but it does not appear 
ever to have been worked by the Spaniards. In recent 
times, its commercial value was first discovered by 
Senor Castillero, who became its legal owner. Don 
Jose Castro, who subsequently became proprietor of 
it, sold out his interest to Barron & Forbes, an Eng- 
lish house doing business in Mexico. Another partner 
js Mr. Walkinshaw, an English gentleman long resident 
in Mexico, and well skilled in mining. This gentle- 
man now resides about a mile from New Almaden, on 
one of the natural parks which I have before described, 
and which he is rendering still more beautiful by the 
introduction of fruit-trees, vines, flowering shrubs, etc. 
To this gentleman, to Mr. Young, the superintendent, 
and Mr. Bester, the engineer, I feel under many obli- 
gations for the civilities extended to me and the gen- 
tlemen who were with me, in our visit to New Alma- 
den and its mine. After a sumptuous dinner, we took 
the stage and returned to San Jose. 

April 6th. In coming to San Jose, I had the double 
object in view of visiting the quicksilver mine, and of 


continuing on by land to Monterey ; but I here learned 
that it would be impossible to proceed further by land, 
as the heavy rains and freshets a few weeks before, had 
carried away the bridges, and rendered the streams im- 
passable, except by swimming the horses. This I did 
not feel disposed to do : so the only alternative was to 
return to San Francisco, and go to San Diego by water. 
We accordingly took the stage at 8 o'clock, with twen- 
ty-one passengers inside and out; and reached San 
Francisco at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. 

I remained in San Francisco six days, waiting for a 
steamer to San Diego ; and during this time I had the 
pleasure of meeting with Captain Sutter, whose name 
is well known to all who have heard or read of the 
recent history of California. The history of his early 
adventures has been on several occasions presented to 
the public by letter-writers ; so that it will be super- 
fluous at this time to relate them, excepting the follow- 
ing anecdote, which I have not seen in print. 

" While in Oregon, whither he had come from the 
United States, Captain Sutter met with a party who 
gave such a glowing account of California and particu- 
larly of the valley of the Sacramento, that he determin- 
ed to visit it, believing it to be precisely the rich coun- 
try and salubrious climate of which he was in search. But 
to get there was not so easy, there being then no com- 
munication from Oregon by sea. He therefore shaped 
his course for the Sandwich Islands, and from thence 
to Mexico. At San Bias or Mazatlan, he found a vessel 
about sailing for Monterey ; he embarked in her, and 
afterwards reached the Bay of San Francisco, nearly 
twelve months after leaving Oregon. But the country 


he was in search of was a perfect terra incognita even 
to the people who then composed the settlement at 
Yerba Buena ; nor could he gain any information re- 
specting the river which led to it, or even as to where 
it entered the bay. His scheme of settling in the inte- 
rior among the wild Indians, was considered a danger- 
ous one, and efforts were made to dissuade him from it ; 
but he had made up his mind to go, and accordingly 
got a small boat and set off with a few men to find the 
Sacramento River. They coasted along the bay in vain 
for several days, and were about to abandon their 
search, when one night as they were moving slowly 
along by moonlight, Captain Sutter himself discovered 
an opening which proved to be the mouth of that river. 
He passed up it, and selected the spot where he built 
his fort, and of which he afterwards obtained a grant 
from the Mexican government." 

When we hear of the pioneers of the West, we 
imagine them to be such as our Daniel Boon, who led 
the life of a hunter, trapper, and Indian fighter, until 
his home was surrounded by settlers, when he again 
moved farther off, desiring always to be beyond the 
pale of civilization. Captain Sutter was not of this class ; 
although he has had his share in fighting the battles 
of Europe, as well as encountering the Indian on the 
prairie. He has the manners of an intelligent and cour- 
teous gentleman, accustomed to move in polished socie- 
ty. He speaks several languages with fluency. He is 
kind, hospitable, and generous to a fault ; as very many 
Americans know who have lived on his bounty. Had 
he been permitted to retain his immense estate on the 
Sacramento, and dispose of it as wanted by actual set- 


tiers, lie would have been one of the richest men in 
America ; but speculators took advantage of his easy 
disposition, led him into wild speculations, induced him 
to lend his name to a large amount, and thus extorted 
from him or compelled him to give up all of his valu- 
able property, but the Hock farm, where he now re- 
sides. He still seems cheerful, and endeavors to make 
the most of his misfortunes. When I saw him, he told 
me he had not visited San Francisco for a year.* 

* Captain Sutter is a native of Switzerland, from 55 to 60 years 
of age, and of fine personal appearance. He was one of the officers of 
the Swiss Guard in the Revolution of July, during the reign of Charles X. 
After this he emigrated to the United States, became naturalized, and 
resided several years in Missouri. From thence he went overland to 
Oregon, and in 1839 reached California. He bought out the Russian 
establishment at Fort Ross and Bodega, when the Russians abandoned 
their settlement in California. His fort on the Sacramento was a large 
inclosure, five hundred feet in length by one hundred and fifty in breadth, 
where he had under his control a body of Indians, whom he employed 
in cultivating the soil. After obtaining his large grant from Mexico, 
that government made him military commander of the frontier. 




Leave San Francisco — Monterey — Its harbor — Society — Californian ladies 
— Father Juniper Serro's account of Monterey in 1770 — Visit to the Mis- 
sion of San Carlos at Oarmel — Father Garces' visit in 1777 — Leave 
Monterey — Point Conception — San Pedro — Visit to Los Angeles — Eich 
prairies — Large herds of cattle — Vineyards and wines — Indians of the 
Missions — Mission of San Gabriel — Return to San Pedro — Craw fish — 
Arrival at San Diego — Preparations for return to El Paso — Engage 
Mr. Leroux as guide — Trip to Los Coronados — Description of these 
islands — Sea Lions — Climate of San Diego — Visit to the Mission of San 
Luis Rey — Extensive buildings — Fine Valley — Kechi Indians — History 
of Father Peyri — Description of the harbor of San Diego — Viscaino's 
account of San Diego in 1602 — Father Juniper Serro's account in 
1769 — Mission of San Diego — Picturesque situation — Fine lands — Olive 
trees — Society of San Diego — Initial Point and monument on the Pa- 

On the 14th of April I embarked in the steamer Ohio 
for Monterey, at which place I intended availing my- 
self of a polite invitation given me by Captain Ottin- 
ger. of the United States revenue cutter Frolic, to take 
passage with him for San Diego. His duties required 
him to stop at the various ports between the two 
places, which would give me a better opportunity to 
see the country than by remaining on board the 
steamer. We went to sea at five p. m. with a large 
number of passengers,, and, having but little wind,, 


shot rapidly through the " Golden Gate." Outside 
it was so calm, that the broad surface of the Pacific 
resembled an ocean of glass. 

April 15th. Reached Monterey at eleven, a. m. 5 
where I found Captain Otti-nger with his beautiful 
little craft. 

The coast between San Francisco and Monterey 
presents nothing but low sandy hills, covered with 
chapporal or scanty verdure. Large quantities of sand 
are blown up from the sea, and in many places overtop 
the vegetation. 

On coming to this place from San Francisco, one 
is struck with its remarkable dulness; yet until the 
discovery of gold in the country, it was the chief 
place on the coast, and the capital of California. 
Many of its houses are now deserted, or in a dilapi- 
dated state, and the grass may be seen growing in 
its streets. 

The town is prettily situated on a gentle slope of 
land, facing the north, about two miles from Point 
Pinos, which forms the southern extremity of the har- 
bor or roadstead. The harbor is not a good one, 
being exposed to the prevailing north-westerly winds, 
and exhibiting a long beach, with as troublesome a surf 
as the open sea. From the southwesters it is well pro- 
tected by Point Pinos. On the east is a succession of 
small hills, rising one above the other directly from the 
slope on which the town stands, and covered chiefly 
with pines. Behind, and immediately contiguous to 
these, rises the coast range of mountains. On the 
north, the bay makes a broad semi-circular sweep some 
fifteen or twenty miles distant, terminating at a point 


on the ocean opposite to, though far outside of, Point 
Pinos, and not visible from the town. The houses are 
of two classes ; first, those of adobe, belonging to the 
old town. These are large and well built, many being 
of two stories, with projecting eaves to protect them 
from the sun. Those of wood are of recent erection, 
and have not the substantial appearance of the adobe 
buildings ; these latter have very thick walls as a secu- 
rity from the earthquakes, which, though not severe, 
are quite common here. An old church stands alone 
upon the plain east of the town, which appeared to be 
in a ruinous condition. Beyond this is a lagoon, said to 
have been formerly connected with the bay, but now 
separated from it by a sandy beach, and a grassy mea- 
dow, about a quarter of a mile in width. The old pre- 
sidio, or garrison, is on an elevation back of the town, 
towards Point Pinos, and is now occupied by United 
States troops. 

Monterey has always been noted for its excellent 
society; and although the Americans have monopo- 
lized every other town in the State, it still preserves 
much of its original character. The old Californian or 
Castilian families are still in the ascendancy ; but the 
young Americans and other foreigners are making ter- 
rible inroads upon them, and carrying off their fair 
daughters. Many officers of the United States army 
have married in California; and from what I heard, 
here and at other places, others intend following their 
example. The young seiloritas certainly possess many 
attractions ; and although shut up in this secluded 
part of the world, without the advantages of a good 
education, or of intercourse with refined society, they 


need not fear a comparison with our own ladies. In 
deportment they are exceeding gentle and ladylike, 
with all the natural grace and dignity which belong to 
the Castilian nation. Their complexion is generally as 
fair as the Anglo-Saxon, particularly along the sea coast, 
with large black eyes and hair. In this respect they 
differ much from the Mexican ladies of the interior, 
who are generally brunettes. In form too they differ 
from their Mexican sisters. The latter are too often 
short and stout, while the Californian ladies are as 
slender and delicate in form as those of our Atlantic 
States. I was struck too with the elegance and purity 
of their language, which presented a marked contrast 
with the corrupt dialect spoken in Mexico. 

The Californians as a people appear superior to the 
Mexicans, which may be attributed to two causes. 
Both countries, it is true, were colonized by the same 
race ; but I think a superior class of men came to Cali- 
fornia, who have preserved their Castilian blood from 
all admixture with that of the aborigines. There were, 
doubtless, fewer of the poorer class too who came 
here, owing to the greater length and cost of the jour- 
ney, and the increase by immigration has been trifling 
since. The original colonists possessed large tracts of 
lands, and have ever since continued in an isolated 
state, marrying among themselves, and enjoying a life 
of luxury and ease. The climate, unlike that of Mex- 
ico, is healthy and invigorating; while the humid 
atmosphere of the coast gives a fairness and brilliancy 
to the complexion unknown to the dry and burning 
plains of Mexico. 

Although San Francisco will always rank first in 


the scale of Californian cities, by reason of its superior 
harbor and great commercial facilities, Monterey will 
become the residence of gentlemen of fortune, on 
account of its more genial climate and its distance from 
the noise and bustle of a great city. It will be to San 
Francisco what Newport is now to New York. 

The following account of Monterey was written by 
the Reverend president of the California missions, F. Ju- 
nipero Serra, to his biographer, Father Palou, in a letter 
announcing his arrival at this place. It appears that 
an expedition sent by land to Monterey failed to reach 
it, but found San Francisco ; and that subsequently 
two other expeditions, one by land the other by water, 
were sent in search of it. In the latter of these was 
Father Junipero. He thus writes :* 

" Long live Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! 

" Reverend Father, Professor, and President, Fr. 
Francisco Palou : 

"My dearest Friend and Sir: — On the 31st of May, 
by the favor of God, after a painful voyage of a month 
and a half, the packet San Antonio, commanded by 
Don Juan Peres, arrived and anchored in this horrible 
port of Monterey, which is the same, unaltered in 
appearance and condition, that it was when visited 
by the expedition of Don Sebastian Viscayno, in the 
year 1603. It gave me great satisfaction to learn that 
eight days previous the land expedition had arrived, 
and with it Father Juan, and that all were in good 
health. When the holy day of Pentecost arrived, 

* Relacion Historica de la Viola y apostolicas Tareas del padre Fray 
Junipero Serra, por Fr. Francisco Palou, p. 101. Mexico, 1 787. 


which was on the 3d of June, the whole of the officers, 
naval as well as military, and all the people, assembled 
together in a small ravine, where the Fathers caused 
an altar to be erected, and the bells to be rung. They 
then chanted the Vent Creator, blessed the water, 
erected and blessed a grand cross and the royal stand- 
ards, and chanted the first mass that was ever per- 
formed in this place. We afterwards sung the Salve 
to our Lady, before an image of the most illustrious 
Virgin, which occupied the altar, and then I preached 
a sermon. We concluded the festival with a Te Deum. 
After this the officers took possession of the coun- 
try in the name of our Lord the King, whom God pre- 
serve. We all dined together in a shady place on the 
beach ; the whole ceremony being accompanied by 
many volleys and salutes, on the land as well as from 
the vessels. To God alone be the honor and glory! 

"With regard to the former expedition, its not 
finding the port of which it was in search, and having 
asserted that it did not exist, I will express no opinion, 
and will not judge of their motives. It is enough to 
say, that it has been found, and the duty performed, 
although rather late. This I desire may be made 
known to the Visitor General, and to all those who feel 
an interest in this spiritual conquest. 

"Mission of San Carlos de Monterey. June, the 
day of San Antonio Padua, 1770. 

"I kiss your hands, etc. 


April Iftth. This morning I got a horse and rode 
out to the Mission of San Carlos, on the river Carmel, 


four miles from Monterey. The ride was a delightful 
one over gentle hills, and through valleys with beauti- 
ful grassy slopes, thickly wooded with pine, fir, and oak 
trees. The whole country about Monterey presents 
a most pleasing prospect to the eye, after seeing the 
parched and barren hills along the coast. 

The Mission establishment, which consists of a church 
and the usual accompaniments of a large inclosure with 
ranges of small buildings, stands upon a little elevation 
between the hills and the sea, from which it is distant only 
a few hundred yards. The church which is built of stone, 
has two towers, containing six bells ; its walls are very 
thick, with an arched roof, and supported by heavy but- 
tresses. The towers, as usual, differ. The adobe build- 
ings near, were all in a state of ruin, and tenantless ; 
not a human being was to be seen near, while the rank 
grass and weeds which monopolized the ground, showed 
that even curiosity did not often tempt visitors to its 
deserted precincts. One corner of the church began to 
show the ravages of time : its cornice had fallen, and 
weeds had already taken root among its opening crevices. 
The remains of an orchard and vineyard, are still seen 
near, in a decaying state. Small pine trees cover the 
hills within a short distance of the church ; and on its 
other side, the ocean rolls up its waves with a dull mo- 
notonous sound, which adds to the solitary feeling of 
the place. 

Near by, the river Carmel, a diminutive stream, to 
which the appellation of brook would be more appro- 
priate, emerges from a valley between two high ranges 
of grass-covered hills, and falls into the sea. Up this 
valley I noticed ploughed fields and ranchos ; beyond 


it higher mountains arise, completely shutting in the 
river on the East. 

This Mission was for some time the residence of the 
Fathers Juniper Serra, and Francisco Palou, two of the 
most distinguished of the early Catholic missionaries in 
California. When Father P. Font arrived in Monterey, 
in 1777, from Sonora, in Mexico, with a body of men to 
strengthen the Colony at that place, he says the " Fa- 
ther President, F. Junipero Serra, with four other priests, 
came from the mission of San Carlos to welcome us, 
and we chanted mass in thanksgiving for our safe 
arrival ;" and it " was determined that we should go to 
the mission of Carmel, as there were no lodgings for us 
here."*. . He states that there were seven priests 
at the mission, that it was "an excellent spot, and the 
land very fertile." 

April 17 th. Set sail from Monterey in the U. S. 
revenue cutter Frolic, Captain Ottinger. The wind 
was ahead and light ; so that by dark we were scarcely 
beyond Point Pinos, so named from the pines which 
grow upon it, and which distinguish it from the barren 
head-lands on the Californian coast. 

April IStJi. At sea. With a fresh breeze from the 
north-west, we scudded along finely. It is necessary 
to keep at a distance from the land, as there are no 
light-houses on the coast. 

April ISth. Hailed the Pacific mail-steamer North-* 
erner as she passed us, and put letters on board for the 
United States, as we should be too late for the mail at 
San Diego. Towards evening the winds died away, 

* Manuscript Relation, in the possession o f the author. 


leaving us within a quarter of a mile of Point Concep- 
tion. This is a plateau extending a couple of miles 
beyond the coast range of mountains. Saw two or three 
ranchos, surrounded by clusters of trees, and large num- 
bers of cattle grazing upon the declivities of the moun- 
tains and upon the plain, which, to judge from its bril- 
liant green hue, was covered with rich grass. In the 
night, the wind came around from the north-east with 
a thick fog. 

April 20th. The northern point of the island of 
Santa Rosa, bore south six miles. Light winds and 
calms during the day. At 2 p. m. the steamer Active, 
of the Coast Survey, passed us. At nine, saw a light 
ahead and pursued it for an hour or more, thinking the- 
vessel it was in might prove a smuggler. Finally came- 
up with and hailed her ; when she was found to be a, 
small craft bound to the islands in search of sea-lions, 
which abound there, and are taken for the oil they 

April 21st. Light winds during the day, with fog 
and haze. Could discover no current. Reached San 
Pedro at 9 p. m.,, and came to anchor. The wind blew 
quite fresh from the north-west during the night. 

April 22d. San Pedro is an open bay or roadstead, 
about fifteen miles across from the two points which 
bound it, and scarcely deserves the name of a harbor. 
It is exposed to the prevailing winds, and affords no 
protection save on the east and north. When caught 
with a southerly gale, vessels are obliged to stand across 
to the islands of Catalina, twelve miles distant, for safe- 
ty. It is the Port of Los Angeles, twenty-nine miles 
distant, and contains but two houses. These are quite 


large, being used as warehouses for merchandise, as 
well as for dwellings. Vessels stop here for water, 
which has to be carted from a distance of three miles. 
Many also provide themselves here with beef, which 
is furnished at a less rate than at other places. 

I was desirous to visit Los Angeles for the purpose 
of buying mules, which were scarce and high at San 
Diego. Soon after breakfast I went on shore with 
Captain Ottinger, and we both took the stage then 
about to start for Los Angeles. There were twelve 
passengers to go, who filled two ordinary lumber wag- 
ons, each drawn by four mules. On leaving the 
coast, the road was somewhat hilly for a few miles. 
Passed several lagoons about three miles from San 
Pedro, in which were large numbers of ducks, plover, 
curlew, and snipe, embracing varieties which I had 
not before seen ; on leaving these, we entered upon a 
broad plain, which extended as far as the eye could 
reach, unbroken by hill or tree. This plain, the surface 
of which was slightly undulating, was covered with 
luxuriant grass and clover ; and sometimes a patch of 
yellow mustard, growing to the height of five or six 
feet, filled a space of a mile or two. Flowers of bril- 
liant hues were thickly scattered over the plain, giving 
it here and there a tingle of purple, orange, or yellow. 
In every direction, the eye fell upon large herds of 
cattle and horses luxuriating on the rich grass ; so 
numerous were they, that at one time there could not 
have been less than ten thousand head in sight. 

It was here that a skirmish took place between Com- 
modore Stockton, or a party sent by him, and the Cali- 
fornians ; but from what I could learn, it was little 


more than a running fight, in which no great harm was 
done by either party. 

We reached " La Ciudad de los Angeles," the City 
of Angels, at 4 o'clock, and put up at the "Bella 
Union," a very indifferent hotel. At the most misera- 
ble tavern in the back woods, I have found better 
accommodations than at this place. 

After dinner, I called at the office of the " Los An- 
geles Star," to obtain a file of the paper, which contains 
a series of articles on the Californian Indians. Mr. 
Rand, one of the editors, cheerfully complied with my 
request, and gave me the papers I desired. I also met 
Mr. Hayes here, a gentleman connected with the bar, 
who, with Mr. Rand, manifested much interest in the 
objects of my inquiry; and Mr. Hayes kindly offered 
to accompany me to the mission of San Gabriel, twelve 
miles distant, where resided Mr. Hugo Reid, the author 
of these papers. These gentlemen informed me that 
Mr. Reid was better acquainted with the Indians of that 
portion of the State than any other person. With the 
hope therefore of obtaining more information on this 
subject, I gladly accepted the proposal of Mr. Hayes ; 
and we agreed to set off for the Mission as soon as 
horses could be procured. 

After waiting two hours, the horses promised Mr. 
Rand were still not forthcoming ; we were therefore 
compelled to give up our ride this afternoon, and post- 
pone it until morning. I regretted this, as I had in- 
tended to pass the evening at the Mission, and return 
in the morning in time to take the stage back to San 
Pedro. The horses were promised to be saddled and 
at the door by 5 o'clock in the morning. 

VOL. II. — 6 


Spent the hour that remained before dark in walk- 
ing oyer the hills with Mr. Hayes. Los Angeles is situ- 
ated in one of the finest agricultural districts in the 
State. It has at various times contained from fifteen 
hundred to two thousand inhabitants, and was formerly 
a place of much wealth. There are many large haci- 
endas and ranchos in the valley, which is in a high state 
of cultivation, abounding in orchards and vineyards. 
Judging of the wine I saw, and the imperfect mode fol- 
lowed in producing it, there is no doubt that an article 
of superior quality might be made here in abundance. 

I saw more Indians about this place than in any 

part of California I had yet visited. They were chiefly 

" Mission Indians," i. e. those who had been connected 

with the missions, and derived their support from them 

until the suppression of those establishments. They 

are a miserable squalid-looking set, squatting or lying 

about the corners of the streets, without occupation. 

They have now no means of obtaining a living, as their 

lands are all taken from them ; and the missions for 

which they labored, and which provided after a sort 

for many thousands of them, are abolished. No care 

:seems to be taken of them by the Americans; on the 

contrary, the effort seems to be, to exterminate them 

.as soon as possible. One of the most intelligent of 

-them, who was brought to me by the kindness of my 

friends here, was unacquainted with the name of the 

tribe to which he belonged, and only knew that it had 

been attached to certain missions. I obtained from 

him a vocabulary, which I found on examination, to be 

the Diegeno language, with some words different from 

that obtained at San Diego. * 


April 3d. Up at daylight, to reach the Mission of 
San Gabriel by breakfast- time ; but the horses were 
not ready, as promised. After waiting three hours, 
we concluded to breakfast here. The horses at last 
were brought, the only excuse for the delay being that 
they could not be caught before. It now began to rain ; 
but hoping that it would not continue, we set off, 
Mr. Rand accompanying me. But after we had got 
about three miles, the prospect for fair weather grew 
less encouraging ; and as we were already pretty wet, 
we thought it best to give up the jaunt and return, 
much to my regret. Being thus disappointed in seeing 
the Mission, I was kindly furnished by the editors of 
the "Los Angeles Star" with the following brief 
account of it, which had appeared in their paper a few 
days before : 

"Situated in the midst of a fertile valley, surround- 
ed with abundant timber, and supplied by a thousand 
springs, with an inexhaustible flow of water, the 
Mission of San Gabriel flourished and became exceed- 
ingly rich. Authentic records are said to exist which 
show that at one time the mission branded fifty thousand 
calves, manufactured three thousand barrels of wine, 
and harvested one hundred thousand fanegas (two hun- 
dred and sixty-two thousand bushels) of grain a year. 
The timber for a brigantine was cut, sawed, and fitted 
at the mission, and then transported to and launched at 
San Pedro. Five thousand Indians were at one time col- 
lected and attached to the mission. They are repre- 
sented to have been sober and industrious, well clothed 
and fed ; and seem to have experienced as high a state 
of happiness as they are adapted by nature to receive. 


" These five thousand Indians constituted a large 
family, of which the Padres were the social, religious, 
and we might almost say political, heads. 

" Living thus, this vile and degraded race began to 
learn some of the fundamental principles of civilized 
life. The institution of marriage began to be re- 
spected, and, blessed by the rites of religion, grew to 
be so much considered that deviations from its duties 
were somewhat unfrequent occurrences. The girls, on 
their arrival at the age of puberty, were separated 
from the rest of the population, and taught the useful 
arts of sewing, weaving, carding, etc., and were only 
permitted to mingle with the population when they 
had assumed the characters of wives. 

" When at present we look around and behold the 
state of the Indians of this country — when we see 
their women degraded into a scale of life too menial 
to be even domestics — when we behold their men 
brutalized by drink, incapable of work, and following 
a system of petty thievery for a living, humanity can- 
not refrain from wishing that the