Fri, May 24

Verde Heritage -- 1866: DUTCH CAMP, Part 2.

"Dutch Camp was located in a small valley south of The Settlement and Clear Fork, with the willow and brush timbered banks of the Rio Verde on the western side and a plateau or mesa sloping down from a higher elevation then breaking off abruptly on the eastern edge of the valley. This mesa and the Rio Verde came together at the lower end of the cultivated fields. A slight bend in the river formed an eddy or deep pond. The snappy, gamy fish called the Colorado River salmon, abounded in this pool, which became a favorite fishing place for the settlers. Near this pool the water flowed over a riffle of sand and rocks which extended across the river. This riffle was an easy river crossing for settlers and also for hostile Indians.

The mountain stream called Clear Fork came into the northern end of the valley from the east, flowing into the Rio Verde a mile from the camp. At the upper end of the valley, south of Clear Fork, between the fields and the mesa, a 'cienega' was formed by springs of water, where a lush growth of willows and water grasses furnished an ideal habitat and hiding place for water fowl and game practically at the door of the Dutch Camp settlement. The dense plant growth was also a hiding place where hostile Indians could escape detection before they raided the cornfields and drove off the horses and cattle belonging to the settlers. Raids occurred so often that soldiers were stationed in the area to protect the settlers.

Jacob "Jake" Ramstein and John Lang were joined by John Seiderman [Ceiderman, Sydeman] and 3 other settlers. They built a stone corral with walls 6 feet high, with port holes to view the country on all sides, and log cabins to form part of the enclosure. This fortress was constructed on an elevation or bench overlooking the farming lands, which had grown to several hundred acres spreading over the sloping land down to the banks of the Rio Verde. A dam on Clear Fork above the camp diverted water into the irrigation ditch which supplied water to the inhabitants of Dutch Camp then flowed down to irrigate the fields.

(See: Argonaut Tales; Edmund Wells; pages 390-396.)

Captain Hiram S. Washburn, with Second Lieutenant Manuel Gallegos, and 88 men of Company E, Arizona Volunteers, arrived at Camp Lincoln on January 16, 1866. These recruits were robust, athletic, vigorous young men. Several of the men were Yaqui Indians from Sonora, a few were Apache Indians who were outlaws from their tribes, but most of the men were Mexicans or Caucasians from Arizona. Also stationed at Camp Lincoln since January 3, 1866, when they moved up the river from The Settlement, were 35 men with Second Lieutenant Primitivo Cervantes in Company A, First Arizona Volunteers.

"The activities of Captain H. S. Washburn's company, which was recruited in the lower part of the Territory," were written in a general report to the Adjutant General of the Territory, William H. Garvin, from the Headquarters Camp on Clear Creek on September 20, 1866. Captain Washburn explained that "twelve men had to be kept at the Clear Creek settlement" to protect the settlers.

(History of Arizona; Thomas Edwin Farish; Vol. IV; pages 98, 105.)

During the last part of February, Private Roque Ramirez left camp carrying his fishing pole, rifle and side-arms of a revolver and hunting knife, and went to do some fishing along the Rio Verde. A civilian resident took his fishing pole and followed him through the willows along the river bank then down to the pool. He did not see Private Ramirez along the way. At the pool he sat on the ground under a large cottonwood tree that hung out over the water, and started fishing. He heard water splashing and was surprised to see several armed Indians crossing the Rio Verde at the riffle. The civilian sank his fishing pole in the water, grabbed his rifle, rolled back into the willows, then ran back to Dutch Camp and gave the alarm. The soldiers and settlers gathered the horses and cattle, then prepared for an attack.

Nothing happened that day, during the night, or the next day. Later that day the civilian fisherman and 5 soldiers went to look for Private Roque Ramirez. They located his tracks overlapped by moccasin tracks. They followed the tracks along the river where the soldier had stopped to fish in several small eddies of deep water, then found the body of the murdered soldier partly submerged in the water. The Indians had separated, and hidden by the willows, they were able to surround and attack the surprised fisherman, who had resisted them during a sharp struggle.

The men used ash and willows to make a litter, then carried the body back to the soldiers' camp. Private Ramirez was buried on an elevated point overlooking Dutch Camp and the valley he had faithfully protected and guarded during the last months of his life.

During the investigation by Second Lieutenant Gallegos, from the description of the Indians, the moccasin tracks, and the arrows in the body, guide Pauline Weaver identified the murderers as a group of Pinal Apaches. Evidently, as they traveled northward, they had evaded detection by soldiers who were scouting at that time in the Tonto and Pinal country.

(See: Argonaut Tales; Edmund Wells; pages 390-396.)

Captain Hiram S. Washburn wrote that on February 26, "Private Roque Ramirez had permission to go hunting, and after his return at roll call, went out fishing, and next morning was found dead in the river about one mile below the post. He was killed by Indians, and his arms, clothing and ammunition all taken." (History of Arizona; Thomas Edwin Farish; Vol. IV; p. 104.)

Private Roque Ramirez, a native of Magdalena, Sonora, had worked as a miner before he enlisted in the First Arizona Volunteer Infantry at Tubac on August 3, 1865. Private Ramirez was 33 years old when he was killed. He had married Maria Antonio Rosetto, who was with him in the Verde Valley at the time of his death. She married her second husband, Loreto Hernandez, who was also a soldier, in Prescott on May 1, 1866. Private John Broderick, age 35, was killed while he was fishing along the Verde River on April 20, 1866. These 2 soldiers were the first to be buried near the Verde River. Both received religious and secular ceremonies. A military salute was fired over their graves. Rocks were piled over the burials to mark the place and keep wild animals away. (Arizona Miner; May 9, 1866; and Palmer Papers; "Two Soldiers Killed by Apaches.")

Dr. Edward Palmer, an army contract surgeon who had been assigned to the Verde on October 20, 1865, wrote that the summer of 1866 "was very wet and produced rank vegetation." He was able to be up a "little at a time when 60" soldiers became stricken "with intermittent fever in 1 day. ... It was a relief to me when 2 days later, those whose time had expired had left. ... It was fortunate for me that their term of service had expired as I was taken down with fever myself. The slim party at the Post was required to stand guard by turns irregardless of rank or condition. For some time this was done until all but 1 was prostrated with fever. ... Finally, as no relief came as was expected, and having to send all the animals belonging to the Post to Ft. Whipple, having no one to herd and guard them, thus left without transportation, we had to send to the settlers in the lower part of the valley some 7 miles and ask the men to come with their teams to move us and the more valuable of

the government property. They came and in our wretched condition we gladly left the Post and on arriving at The Settlement pitched tents to remain until some relief came or we could get away. One of the settlers, Mr. Ramstein, kindly shared his cabin with me, in consequence of the delicate condition of my health." Dr. Palmer left the Verde Valley during the early part of October, then recuperated at Ft. Whipple until January of 1867. (Palmer Papers; "Summer 1866.")

Captain Hiram S. Washburn explained in his report: "On the 29th of August, the command at Camp Lincoln was reduced to an aggregate of 5 enlisted men, all of whom were more or less sick. ... On the 30th and 31st, by the assistance of the settlers at Clear Creek, all the movable government stores were temporarily transferred 6 miles below to a place of greater security." On September 29, "Capt. Downie, 14th U. S. Infantry arrived and took command." (History of Arizona; Thomas Edwin Farish; Vol. IV; p. 109.)

During the summer of 1867, Verde Valley farmers, "John 'Long,' Jacob Ramstein, Joseph Melvin, John Norwood, S. O. Fredericks, N. Marsh, Mr. Foster, Thomas S. Ruff, and Munn" together had "about 200 acres under cultivation, chiefly in corn and barley." (Arizona Miner; July 13, 1867.)

August 1867: "Jacob Ramstein, a worthy farmer, died on his ranch on the Verde, near Camp Lincoln, a few days since. There is much illness at the Verde settlement this year." (Arizona Miner; August 31, 1867.)