October 6, 2014

"A Race for Life"

“Fight Between Gila County Officers and the White Mountain Apaches at Cibicu –  Chief Nan-tan-go-tayz Killed."

“Probably few, if any readers of the item published in last Saturday’s Silver Belt, that an Indian had been killed on Cibieu by cowboys, entertained the least suspicion that the parties referred to as ‘cowboys’ were Deputy Sheriff E. L. Benbrook and posse.  Few, in fact, were aware of his departure from Globe, or of his mission to the Cibieu country.  The facts in regard to that trip, as related by Mr. Benbrook, are about as follows:

The Silver Belt, Globe, Gila Co., AZ
Report of Apache attack at Cibicue Creek
“At the October (1895) term of the District Court of Gila county, two Indians, Tonto C 24 and Tonto O 8, were indicted for burglary committed at the Vosburg ranch, in the vicinity of Pleasant Valley.  The warrant for the arrest of the Indians wanted was delivered to Deputy Benbrook, who left Glove, December 1, for Cibieu to make the arrest.  Arriving at Pleasant Valley, he was joined by Bill Voris, Frank Ketcherside and Huse Kyle.  The party left the Gentry ranch, three miles above Ellison’s, on Thursday morning, December 5, and arrived at Cooley’s camp, (Cooley being head chief of the band of Indians), on Cibicu creek, 30 miles distant, about sundown.

“Nan-tan-go-tayz, the chief then in authority, a brother of Chief Cooley, upon being informed through an interpreter what the officers wanted, consented to the arrest of the two Indians.  Tonto C 24 was identified and placed under arrest, and the officers had started to ride away with their prisoner, when Ketcherside recognized the other buck wanted, Tonto O 8, among the forty or fifty Indians in the camp.  At this juncture Loco Jim hailed the officers and asked what they wanted with the two Indians, and Captain Jack, the interpreter, rode up and said they could not take the Indians away.

“While they were parleying the other Indians began to gather in around the officers, and Nan-tan-go-tayz, the chief, camp up close to Ketcherside’s horse and made a grab at the bridle rein, but missed it, as the horse jerked his head away.  The chief then went up to Voris and with both hands grasped the Winchester hung on the side of the saddle, and attempted to draw the gun from its holster.

“Voris, thereupon, caught the Indian’s wrist with both hands and broke the hold of one hand on the gun, when the Indian, retaining his hold on the gun with one hand, grasped the bridle rein of Voris’ horse with the other.  Just then Tonto C 24, one of the Indians whom the posse went to arrest, fired a shot from a distance of about 20 yards, and Voris, seeing that the situation was desperate and that they chief was getting the better of him, drew his six-shooter and fired at his adversary.  The Indian throw his head back and avoided the bullet, whereupon Voris placed the pistol close to the Indian’s breast and fired again.  Nan-tan-go-tayz fell forward on his face without uttering a sound.  About twenty-five Indians standing on the side of a hill, some sixty yards away, then fired a volley at the officers, which passed over their heads, and the latter returned the fire from their pistols.

“The officers put spurs to their horses and a race for life began, the Indians who were mounted and armed giving chase.  After a hard run of half a mile the trail made an abrupt turn and the Indians in the lead by a flank movement, got ahead of the officers, who, seeing they were cut off, took to the cedar brake to the right of the trail and up the steep side of the mountain.  Here the posse got scattered; Voris was in the lead, and, dusk having fallen, he regained the train, forged ahead alone and reached Ellison’s ranch about 1:30 o’clock on Friday morning.  Benbrook and Kyle soon came together again in the timber.  Benbrook’s pony was winded, and going up the mountain fell and caught the rider’s right knee under the saddle, causing him a painful injury.  Having returned to the trail, they were again headed off by the Indians and forced once more to take to the timber and were joined by Ketcherside.

“Voris, when he reached a narrow defile near Canyon creek, twenty miles from Cibicu, saw a signal fire a short distance from the trail, and when Benbrook, Ketcherside and Kyle passed, the embers of the fire were plainly to be seen.  The Indians who had got ahead of them on the trail had probably made the fire to signal John Dazin’s band of Indians, and he had then gone on to the main crossing of Canyon creek, with the intention of ambushing the officers.  Suspecting this, Voris left the main trail and crossed Canyon creek lower down, and his companions, under the guidance of Ketcherside, took an old trail that crossed the creek higher up, and they arrived at Ellison’s ranch at 3 o’clock Friday morning.

“When the fight commenced at Cibieu, the officers were compelled to abandon their pack mule which was carrying their blankets, sisty rounds of ammunition, provisions and camp utensils.  That any of the men escaped with their lives seems providential, and can be accounted for only by the approach of nightfall, which lent them its kindly protection.

“The officers, when they realized the futility to take the two Indians, tried to get away peaceably, intending to go to Fort Apache and ask the military for assistance, but the Indians, bent on mischief, provoked the fight.  The Indians were the aggressors and the officers when attacked were in the discharge of their duty.

“The apathy and apparent unwillingness of the military at Apache, on former occasions, to assist civil officers in the apprehension of Indian malefactors is sufficient excuse for Deputy Benbrook not going first to the post, to request a military escort to aid and protect him in the discharge of his duty.  It was in August, 1890, that Sheriff J. H. Thompson went to Fort Apache to secure the arrest of Guadalupe and other Indians who murdered young Baker in the Sierra Ancha.  Colonel Hunt, then in command at Apache, made no effort to arrest the Indians for whom the Sheriff held Warrants, further than that, after two or three days’ delay, two scouts went out, as alleged, to get Guadalupe, but returned without him.  A few days after Guadalupe came in and on the insistence of Sheriff Thompson was placed in the guard house.  The Sheriff then requested an escort to San Carlos, which Colonel Hunt refused him, and, after remaining about ten days at Apache, the Sheriff too Guadalupe from the guard house at 3 o’clock in the morning and, by a forced ride of 90 miles, reached San Carlos safely with his prisoner.

“The White Mountain Apaches, living on Cibieu creek, are the most warlike and treacherous Indians on the reservation.  While ostensibly under the surveillance of the commanding officer at Fort Apache, practically they are under no restraint whatever.  They continue in their pristine savagery, enjoying the largest liberty, and retaining their hatred of the whites.  They kill cattle and loot ranches when opportunity offers, and are not averse to taking human life.

“These Indians, living forty-six miles from Fort Apache, can not be kept in subjection.  They roam at pleasure, and may be off the reservation for weeks at a time without the knowledge of the commanding officer at Apache.  They are a continual menace to the peace of Eastern Arizona, and it is high time that the Government remove them to the Indian Territory, or elsewhere, where they could be kept under strict surveillance.

“In order to show the character of these Indians we will relate a little history.  In 1881, some 500 Indians were living on Cibieu creek, whom the Government had found it impractical to remove to San Carlos, as the Indians objected, and were too strong in numbers and warlike in spirit for the authorities to attempt compulsion.  Nock-a-del-kleny, a medicine man, by incantations and prophecies that he would bring the dear warriors to life, incited the Indians to rebellion, and to prevent the threatened outbreak[,] Colonel Carr, with a detachment of soldiers and scouts from Fort Apache, went to Cibieu to arrest the medicine man.  The Indians resisted and were joined by Carr’s scouts, who opened fire on the soldiers, killing Captain Hentig and ten soldiers, and followed the command to Apache and fired on the post.  Nock-a-del-kleny, the medicine man, was killed in the engagement at Cibicu.

“Proceedings were instituted before U. S. District Court Commissioner Kinney, on Thursday, and warrants issued for the arrest of the Indians, to the number of twenty or more, who fired upon Deputy Benbrook and posse, December 5, on Cibieu.  The warrants were placed in the hands of Deputy U. S. Marshall J. H. Thompson, who, accompanied by Messrs. Benbrook, Ketcherside, Voris and Kyle, left Thursday noon for San Carlos to join Lieutenant Fenton’s command and accompany them to Fort Apache, where Deputy Marshal Thompson will apply to Colonel Powell, the commanding officer, for assistance to the effect the arrest of the Indians.”

Next:  Troops from Apache

NB:  Cibieu is Cibecue Creek; Nock-a-del-kleny was Nock-ay-det-Klinne who began holding ceremonies that became known as “Ghost Dances” at the village on Cibecue.
Col. Carr was Eugene Asa Carr.
William Voris was the husband of Pearl Virginia Coffee, a daughter of Robert Marion and Emma Gaines Reynolds Coffee.  Pearl was a descendant of Chesley through Joel (Martha Stepp); James (Eliz. Coffey, d/o Nathan & Mary Saunders Coffey); Logan McMillon (Mary E. Ragland), parents of Robert Marion.  The marriage was announced in the Daily Arizona Silver Belt on Dec. 22, 1898, Page 2, Col. 3:  "J. W. Voris and bride, nee Pearl Coffey, who were married December 23, at Albany, Texas, are expected to arrive tomorrow night. Mr. Voris, who is a well known resident of Globe, will receive hearty congratulations from his many friends. Mr. Voris will serve as deputy to Sheriff-elect W. T. Armstrong." [Note that publish date was a day before the wedding occurred.  One or the other is obviously incorrect.]

Cibecue is NW and a meandering 45 miles, or thereabouts, from Fort Apache.  Today, it will take about an hour to drive that distance in an automobile.  Riding a horse at a walk would probably take 10 to 12 hours, including rest stops for man and horse.  Riding at a lope would be faster but the horse would tire quicker.

Source:  Arizona Silver Belt. (Globe City, Pinal County, Ariz.), 14 Dec. 1895, Page 3, Col. 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84021913/1895-12-14/ed-1/seq-3/>

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