Thursday, February 12, 2015

Early Settlers Versus The Apache Indians

I discovered a big difference of opinion on this excursion to Fort Verde Historic Park.

Indian's version:  The white man invaded our territory so we can't hunt the areas where we can get food.  We are starving!!  And so we take YOUR food!

White man's version:  Those darn Indians keep raiding our stock, stealing our food and killing us!!  We need the Army here for protection ...  just move them all OUT!!

The truth of the matter is that the Apache stole from everyone ... that was their tradition so to speak.  When the white man arrived, they stole from them just as they did the other tribes.  If someone came and took all the food from MY supermarket, I think I'd try to steal it back too!  The difference being that the white man had many more soldiers and lots of guns.  In the end, the Indians lost out and were removed to reservations where there still wasn't enough food ... the raids continued.  When gold, silver and copper were discovered on THOSE reservations, they were moved out to even worse territory.
When I arrived at Fort Verde, there was a beautiful young girl at the counter speaking French to a couple of tourists.  I understand a little, but was so surprised to find someone HERE that spoke the language.  When she heard I was an RV lady, she came running up to speak with me.  Her parents, brother and one large dog are staying at the Thousand Trails RV Park.  They are from England ... came to the U.S., bought an RV and have been traveling around the States ever since.  What a great way to get an education!!  She has been a docent at several places, learning all she can about the history of the area.  

This is a look at the parade grounds.  Originally 256 buildings, only four adobe remain, along with a couple of outbuildings, all kept in immaculate condition.  Since recently being allowed to open 7 days a week, I was able to go inside each building.  The fort was a base for General Crook in the 1870's and 80's, sent to keep the settlers safe.
The main building in the first image was where all orders went out and supplies came in.  Officers lived on one side of the parade grounds with enlisted men .. privates .. on the other.  Your accommodations depended on your rank and years of service, so when a new Lieutenant was assigned to the fort, everyone's accommodations got knocked down a notch.  Private's wives, who were few and far between, became laundresses in order to make enough money to keep from starving.
The lower walls in these buildings were made with a different type of adobe ... this is called pice ... adobe material poured in huge 2' x 2' x 2' blocks for stability.  Further up the walls, the regular adobe bricks were used, all covered with a concrete type material.  To differentiate the Commanding Officers quarters, his adobe house was then covered with wood planking, held on with square nails ... visible today.
In those days, Indian Scouts were recruited to help in the capture of the "bad Indians".  Buffalo soldiers were stationed here ... named by the Apache Indians because their curly hair reminded them of the buffalo ... or so I was told!!
I was interested in the construction of these Indian moccasins, having worked with leather a lot over the ages ... it's just one long piece with a thick sole sewn on one end, then folded up with side seams.  I thought they would be a little more fitted.  Apparently these last about 100 miles before the soles wear out, so they always carried extra soles with them for repairs.
The leader and recruiter of the Indian Scouts at this fort is on the left.  The pay and food were enough to turn these scouts against their fellow Indians.  
This is Martha Summerhayes.  Martha married at 17 years of age to an officer in the U.S. Army.  Being from the East and having spent time in Germany, she was enamored with the glitz and glamor of the men in uniform.  Her view changed dramatically when her Lieutenant husband of six months was transferred to Arizona, where she lived a good part of her life in destitute conditions, moving from one Army Post to another.  In much later years, her children nagged her until she wrote her story in a book called Vanishing Arizona, Recollections of My Army Life.  It's an amazing story to say the least, and a must read if you are interested in the history of this area and what the Army wives (and their husbands) had to endure!!
This is the Commanding Officers quarters in 1881 .....  many rooms for entertaining, a big kitchen and lots of servants ... none of which were women.  If no cooks were available, the officers would hire lower rank men for an additional $5.00 a month.
This is it today, restored to a most interesting building that you can enter, even climb the stairs to see the Striker's room.   Strikers were hired by the officers to take care of the children.  You wouldn't think any Army guys would qualify for THAT position, but they did the best they could keeping the children entertained and educated, such as it was.  When Martha had her first child with no doctor available, she had no idea how to feed and care for the boy.  That was all handled by servants where she came from.  She and the boy almost died before finally landing at a post with a physician ... of sorts!!
According to Martha, the Commanding Office had a parlor, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms.   Her accommodations consisted of one room to live and sleep in, with one small room only accessible from outside, to cook in.  Not that she could cook ... kind of like me ... but eventually she did learn from the male cook she hired.  She was always searching for a female nanny for the kids ... but very few fit the bill, or even spoke English!!
This was a mansion according to Martha ... the Commanders wife even had a bathtub in her room.  Martha bathed in the muddy red Colorado River water, when they lived close enough.  With temperatures from 108 to 122, it was the only time she was able to cool off.  
Lieutenants and other officers had to share quarters.  They might have a separate bedroom, but everything else was done in complete togetherness.  Bedrooms didn't even matter that much.  It was so hot that sleeping indoors was impossible, so most of her nights were spent outside on cots alongside the parade grounds ... with the ants and snakes and wild cats!!
This is the bachelors quarters ... full of equipment used on the post for building and repairing anything that broke.  
If not out chasing Indians, afternoons were spent relaxing on the porch and sometimes horseback riding, depending on the heat.  Martha and her husband traveled all over the Southwest after receiving orders to other Forts, orders which they never questioned.  They packed everything they owned in three chests, one of which was lost crossing the Colorado, causing her to be stuck with one regular dress and one "dancing" dress for three months while she waited for something to be sent by stage.  Trouble was, they spent all their money moving from place to place, which made dress money in short supply.
Most every post had a surgeon which was allotted an entire house to himself and his family.  He needed the extra room to house the sick and wounded soldiers.
Instead of a dining room, he had a surgery table, surrounded by tools of the trade and every kind of medicine imaginable.  Most had SOME kind of schooling, allowing Martha and her son to survive when the Doctor told her how to feed and care for the baby, as well as get her back on her feet.  It's interesting to note that wives were not required to cook or take care of the children.  They WERE required to entertain their husbands and other Officers and their families, regardless of whether they had food and drink in the kitchen or not!!
This is the good Dr. Mearns on the left ... the one with the foot long beard.   When time allowed, most Doctors pursued other interests, such as archeology.  In the pictures of Dr. Mearns, there are many mecates (grinding stones) on his porch and in his office.  The pottery in this picture shows how the Sinagua buried their pots in the ground to keep water cool.
After many hair-raising adventures, Martha finally took her child to live in San Francisco until her husband joined her, at which time he got a promotion.  Things finally began to look up for her and her now two children as they lived on Angel Island in California, in Nebraska and in Santa Fe New Mexico.  In the end however, she truly missed the desert and the hardships she had to overcome in Arizona.  She loved the native people and hated the coming of the railroad, even though it made her travel easier.  

It's a great book ... and Fort Verde is a great place to visit with lots more history than I can account for here.  In fact, I had a meeting with the Manager who says they are trying to get a few RV spaces set up for volunteers ... and I'm now on her list.  Now to drag out all those vintage dresses I have!!

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