Tue, April 07

1865 SETTLEMENT: First Crops Harvested; Prospectors Attacked.

The Settlement began at the confluence of Clear Fork and the Rio Verde in February of 1865. Harvesting crops began in July.

"About this time the harvesting began. The barley was so short that it could not be well cut with a scythe and cradle, so the boys pulled it like flax. The grain was then beaten out with flails, or tramped out with oxen on dirt floors, and the grain separated from the chaff by a man standing on a stool and pouring it slowly on to the ground, thus allowing the wind to blow the chaff and straw away. By repeating this several times the grain was got pretty clean, except for gravel and dirt, more or less of which had unavoidably got into the grain from the roots and the thrashing upon the ground."

"In the latter part of July the settlers were scattered about among their respective crops, Lang, Ramstein and Yates across Clear Fork, where they had been camped for two or three days thrashing their wheat, having two yoke of oxen with them; Whitcomb with the herd between the Fort and the river; Culbertson forty rods to the south of him at work in the field, and the other settlers at work to the east of and about the fort and the cabins."

"About two o'clock in the afternoon rapid firing was heard at the Dutch Camp across Clear Fork, and at almost the same instant the Indians attacked the herder, and attempted to stampede the cattle. Culbertson immediately rushed to the assistance of Whitcomb, who had been hit with two balls at the first attack, but stood obstinately trying to defend himself and protect the cattle. Culbertson's onset caused the savages to seek cover. The cattle, in the meantime, ran to the corral where they were secured."

"That the camp across Clear Fork had been attacked there was no doubt, but a belt of timber between it and the Fort prevented anything from being seen. Half a dozen brave fellows at once volunteered to go to the assistance of the Dutch Camp, nearly a mile distant, and started at the double quick. ... When about half way through the timber, they met Lang and Yates with one yoke of oxen, and the wagon, Ramstein lying in the bottom with a severe bullet wound in the hip." ...

"Determined not to leave the savages in peaceable possession of that side of the creek, it was agreed that the wounded man, accompanied by all but four men, should go on to the Fort. ... C. M. Ralston, Polk James, Boblett, and Swetnam, volunteered for this work, and immediately began a cautious but rapid movement in the direction of the enemy, distant not more than eighty rods. ... When the boys had reached a spot about forty feet from the open ground, they came to a stop, and Swetnam, getting into the bed of a dry ditch, crawled along the edge of the brush. Cautiously raising his head, he saw a dozen or more Indians, some searching the abandoned camp, and others with torches setting fire to the dry and still unthreshed barley and wheat." ...

"It now became evident that the Indians were bent on destruction, and the settlers felt that they had got their harvest ready and that they deserved protection from the government. Earnest appeals were made to that effect to the authorities at Fort Whipple, and fair promises made that were not fulfilled. Peace reigned for nearly a month."

"A party of prospectors left Prescott, nineteen in number, crossing the river about fifteen miles above the settlement, then crossing over to Beaver Creek, near which they were attacked by the Apaches with such vigor and obstinacy, that the party gave up the enterprise, coming into the ... settlement, where they left one man who was severely wounded. Ramstein was lying wounded at the same time, but through the skill of Culbertson, who acted as surgeon and doctor, both men recovered" along with Whitcomb.

(see: History of Arizona; by Thomas Edwin Farrish, Arizona Historian; Volume IV; 1916; Dr. James M. Swetnam Account; pages 234-239.)

More Information: Verde Independent; "Verde Valley's First Settlers;" by Steve Ayers; December 30, 2008.

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