Sat, July 20

1873: TRIP TO THE VERDE, April 1; Part 1.


"General George Crook, commanding department of Arizona, Gen. M. P. Small, chief of subsistence, Dr. H. Bendell, superintendent of Indian affairs for Arizona, Dr. Williams, agent for Verde Indian reservation, Mr. Bromley, of Fort Whipple, and ourself, started Tuesday, April first, on a business visit to the Rio Verde, and a very profitable trip it was for us, in so far as gaining new knowledge of that section of the country, its white and red people, is concerned."

"The evening of that day found us at Bowers' Agua Fria ranch, where we were soon after joined by Mr. H. Bowers, who brought word from Fort Whipple that Captain A. H. Nickerson, General Crook's able A. A. A. G., was taken quite ill and could not join us that night."

"The best fare was provided for us by Mr. and Mrs. John Rees, a recently spliced couple who were, just then, enjoying their honeymoon."

"The country between this place and Whipple has been so often described in these columns that it is needless for us to say more, just now, than that it is very pretty country, made up of timbered hills, high tableland and charming valleys, all covered with rich grasses --- principally white and black gamma."

"Mr. Rees had a fine herd of cattle and other animals. He, D. J. Marr and other farmers had several plows running, preparing their land for corn, etc."

"Early Wednesday morning, we were on our way to the Verde, watching the beautiful scenery, and now and then, scanning piles of rocks that stood by the wayside at points where Indians had killed one or more white men."

"One o'clock found us at Camp Verde, where we met a hearty welcome from soldiers and citizens. It was our first visit since 1870, and many were the changes noted. The military post of those days is abandoned and is being used by the Indian Department. The present post is on the point of a high mesa, about one-half mile below the old post, on the west bank of the river. The parade ground is the largest and best kept of any in the Territory; the soldiers are comfortably housed, in frame buildings; some of the officers have their quarters in the Mansard-roofed buildings started in Gen. Stoneman's time. One of these is, as yet, unfinished, so that a few of the officers are living in tents."

"Col. Coppinger, commanding the post, is one of the most gentlemanly officers we have ever met --- every inch a soldier and, of course, a favorite with all who knew him. As a successful post commander, he cannot be overshadowed. He has, with the labor of the troops, constructed a ditch for irrigating purposes, which ditch is four miles in length, and will irrigate a great deal of land, from which the garrison will be supplied with vegetables. Beside Col. Coppinger, the officers of the post are: Capt. C. C. C. Carr, 1st Cavalry, who has a good record of over four years in our Territory; First Lieutenants L. Hammond, A. E. Woodson, and A. A. Grant; Second Lieutenants Geo. B. McDermott, Otto L. Heim; A. A. Surgeons Matthews and Sanderson, all good men, who vied with each other to make our stay as agreeable as possible, as did the excellent wife of Lieutenant Woodson, who, with her husband, is now on her way out of the Territory."

"With an engine to raise water from the river bottom to the post, Verde would soon be a magnificent place, and in view of the hot sun that in summer makes things red-hot there, we hope that the prayers of the officers for an engine, will be speedily granted."

"There are normally three companies at the post; stables for cavalry horses are badly needed, there being at present only brush shelter for all of the animals."

"The hospital building is of wood, and well adapted for the purposes for which it is used. Formerly Verde was an unhealthy post, but its present elevation above the influence of miasmatic vapors will, no doubt, give it a very different character."

"The post trader's establishment, where we found Mr. C. P. Head and G. W. Hance, hard at work attending to the wants of customers, is a fine adobe building, crammed with goods of every kind."

"Col Nelson, of the pay department, had just deposited about $25,000, and trade was very lively."

"Below the post, are the excellent farms of Judge M. K. Lerty and other citizens, who have barley, aflalfa, etc., growing."

"The day after our arrival, Capt. Nickerson, Lieutenant Ross and Mr. Henry Hewett, arrived from Prescott."

"The following named officers and their commands arrived from their fields of labor before and after our arrival: Major Brown, Captains Taylor, Hamilton and Randall; Lieutenants Rockwell, Brodie, Michler, Schuyler, Babcock, Watts, Almy and Bourke, all of whom have done good service for their country and civilization."

"PECK'S LAKE: Leaving the post Thursday morning, Gens. Crook and Small, Drs. Bendell and Williams, two Date Creek Apache-Yuma Indians, and three or four other persons, besides ourself, started up the river to examine the valleys and thereby gain some idea of adaptability of the country for an Indian reservation. Ascending for about 17 miles, we encamped for the night, in the neighborhood of Peck's lake, and congratulated each other upon the advantages of this section for a home for the three tribes of this vicinity --- advantages which may be summed up under the heads; plenty of rich bottom land; miles after miles of good grass; abundance of water, timber, fish, game; isolation from white settlements; and a mild climate. To this place the Date Creek Indians will soon be removed; here will the Verde Indians, the Indians of the Tonto Basin and McDowell be domiciled, in bands and families along the river, which is the prettiest stream of water yet seen by us in Arizona. High mountains rise upon either side of this stream, from whose tops and sides flow many streams of crystal water. Fearing ague, the Indians will be made to live on the high land overlooking the valleys, and everything possible will be done to make them happy and content. That such efforts as we know will be made may prove entirely successful is our most earnest wish."

(The Weekly Arizona Miner; Prescott; April 12, 1873; page 2.)