Sun, April 05

Verde Heritage -- 1865 DUTCH CAMP, Part 1

A group of 9 men explored the Verde Valley for several days during the early part of January, 1865. One of these men, Jacob "Jake" Ramstein (Remstein), evidently liked what he saw. He returned with a group of 19 men during February to establish a permanent settlement. His friend, John Lang, was also in this group. Jake and John helped 8 other men convert a large old ruin into a stone fort measuring about 60 by 100 feet, with walls 7 to 8 feet high. A log cabin was built in each corner inside this enclosure. Jake Ramstein and John Lang occupied the cabin they built in the southeast corner of what became known as the "Settler's Fort" or "The Settlement."

The next community project was the building of a dam about one and one half miles from the fort and digging an irrigation ditch along the north side of Clear Fork to the fort and fields they would cultivate. "Jake Ramstein and John Lang refused to join in with the main party" working on this project because they were building their own dam and digging an irrigation ditch, also taking water out of Clear Fork. Their ditch on the south side of the creek was less than half a mile long, and would provide water to their 40 cultivated acres where they primarily planted wheat and corn. Their fields and settlement was called Dutch Camp.

During the early part of May, the Indians drove off 3 head of oxen that had been grazing near the stone fort. Joseph Melvin, Clayton Ralston, William Osborn, Henry Morse, and James Swetnam followed the Indians for about 4 miles before Thomas Ruff, riding the only horse, joined them with a supply of food. Later in the day the men caught up with the oxen. The animals were panting for breath with their tongues hanging out, and each had been shot with several arrows, but only one was badly hurt. The men continued to follow the Indians to the top of a nearby mountain. Further pursuit was useless, so they returned to the oxen and began their journey home. Several hours later, at about 6 o'clock, they met John Lang, who owned the oxen with Jake Ramstein.

"John's face was covered with dust, his hat was off, his shirt was open, the sight was knocked from his gun, and the stock was broken."

"'Well, John,' said Joe Melvin, 'did you expect to overtake us?'"

"'Vell, I t'ot I would as you came back,' was his reply."

"Upon questioning him regarding his broken gun, it developed that" John was at work near Dutch Camp and "did not hear of his loss until half an hour after the party had started in pursuit" of the oxen. John started to follow them, against the advice of others. "On his way, he came across an Indian who had evidently been left to watch and report." John Lang got "near enough to shoot, but he did not kill the Indian and this made him so angry that he threw the gun away and charged the Indian with his six-shooter, but the Indian soon disappeared." Then John Lang returned, "picked up his gun, and followed the trail."

"When asked why he threw the gun away, he said, 'The tam gun, is no goot!'"

The men with the horse and oxen returned to The Settlement about 3 o'clock the next morning, having been out 17 hours, and traveled 50 miles."

(History of Arizona; Thomas Edwin Farish; Volume IV; 1916; pages 225-229.)

See: The Verde Independent; "1865 SETTLEMENT: January Exploration of the Rio Verde;" January 19, 2013; "1865 SETTLEMENT: Exploring and Building the Fort;" July 14, 2012; "1865 SETTLEMENT: First Crops and Gardens Planted; New Settlers Arrive;" July 16, 2012; and "Verde Valley's First Settlers;" by Steve Ayers; December 30, 2008.

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