THE LOST DUTCHMAN
A non fiction book based on a hand drawn map from an old-timer showing the actual location of the famous gold mine, and we learn it is a cache, not a mine. The map will be one of the illustrations.
One of the most authoritative books on the Lost Dutchman gold mine begins on the very first page with this statement. "The mysterious Superstition Mountains of Arizona hold the secret to one of the richest gold mines ever found."
All this means is that you must beware of books about gold mines, for very possibly the Lost Dutchman gold mine, if it exists, is not even in the Superstitions. Nor, very likely, has it ever really been "found."
Another well done, engrossing and entertaining book on the Dutchman states positively that modern-day prospector Adolph Ruth was murdered and then decapitated, dying a horrible death in a lost, scalding canyon. True, his "bullet-shattered" skull was found some distance from the rest of his bones, but I'm convinced there are other reasons for the death and scattering of poor Ruth.
The list goes on. Every book on "lost" gold mines, including this one, makes statements that will help that particular author come to his own distinctive conclusion. Since the Lost Dutchman has not yet been located - in which case it would no longer be "lost" but would rather, I suppose, be the "Found Dutchman" - fiction sometimes replaces fact, and fantasy reigns. Tales of "curses" and agonizing, lingering deaths, and dreadful torture and unimaginable hardship, fill many books about lost gold mines, especially the Lost Dutchman gold mine. You'll find such stories in this book, for they are a part of the legend.
"Home to the Apaches," shouts one book on the Superstition Mountains. The United States Government, and my own research, indicates that the Apaches didn't really care for the Superstition Wilderness. Oh, they'd go in to this wasteland of sweltering canyons and cliffs and great rock slides and dangerous insects and animals for a good massacre, or a tribal festival and mass torture of prisoners, but they preferred the flatlands. Yet another book comes along and insists that the reason the Apaches never approached the Superstitions was because they felt the mountains were cursed.
So who do you believe? If you're a serious student of the Lost Dutchman gold mine, as I am with very good reason, you sift through all the books, including this one with its unique theory on the real location of the mine and certain caches, and you form your own conclusion.
If you are just reading for fun, have fun. Don't become angry with me if I say something with which you disagree.
Before you finish, I probably will.
Instead, student or amateur, beginning prospector or old-timer, drop me a note and when I revise the book, I'll take it into consideration.
Unless my partner and I find the gold we plan to seek in the Fall. Yes, I am a part of the lore of the Lost Dutchman. We have an original map to the Dutchman, hand-drawn by an old-timer who swears he saw the gold with his own eyes, and even removed some of it upon which to live out his last days in comfort. He's dead now, but the map exists, and as you will see later in this book, it's different from any of the "tourist" maps you can buy around the edges of the Superstitions. And it's different from any of the "authentic" maps you see in other books. I gave consideration to the fact that few people will swear that something is true when they are near to meeting their maker, as my old acquantance was.
It'll be a kind of a shame if we do find the Dutchman.
A legend will go away, and so will a multi-million dollar Arizona industry. The industry is the one supported by countless tourists, and students, and hikers, and prospectors, and, yes, authors, interested in the famous Lost Dutchman gold mine.
If we do find the Dutchman, don't write. We'll be too busy spending the money to worry about revising the book. In any case, it was correct, after all, the first time around.
Old Adolph Ruth
Old Adolph Ruth, who died a very unpleasant death deep in searing hot mountains - then somehow lost his head - was a real person.
No doubt about that.
Ruth is listed in uncontestable record books with signature and pictures. An Easterner, he had a wife and two sons, one a government worker like himself and the other a successful veterinarian.
Eventually, later on, Ruth had a very private dream, but most of his life was spent in routine, probably boring civil service work. For most of that very conventional life, Ruth presumably never even thought of the Wild West, intent as he was on the proper supporting of a wife and the affectionate raising of children.
Adolph Ruth, an old man much too daring and much too trusting for his own good, is one of the rare solid facts in a story that has twisted and wrenched and tangled itself into one of the most exciting get-rich-quick fantasies of American history. Everybody has heard of the fabulous gold mine sought by Adolph Ruth and others, sitting within sight, within reach, but few know the details. There is truth somewhere in the jumble, there are facts almost impossible to dig out.
The so-called "most authentic" book on the famous Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, this accolade awarded by lovers of adventure reading and diverse gold-seekers who, like author Sims Ely, have also never found the location, begins with the "murder" and "decapitation" of poor Adolph Ruth.
Not that the details about Ruth, though the fact that he lived and died is on the record, will help illuminate the strange story of the Lost Dutchman mine any more brightly. People who recount stories about gold mines tend to overstate things, perhaps in order to impress a rapt band of tenderfeet around a nighttime campfire, city folk who want a good, gory story, but who never plan to seek out the gold.
It is true, however, recorded and attested to by respected men, that Adolph Ruth's death was doubtless unpleasant, and probably quite instant. Whether or not he was afraid, or suffered before his death, is not known. Several writers tell different stories of hunger and intense thirst and pain and horrible fear during the last moments of the life of brave but foolish Adolph Ruth. Nobody can really know anymore for sure. Ruth was either alone, or with somebody else, but anybody who knows the truth about that is now gone.
Ruth's head, or rather, skull, with fragments of flesh and a large hole in the temple area, was found some distance from the scattered bones of his months-dead body. The hole could have been caused by a bullet. It was certainly caused by a bullet according to one 1930's pathological expert who, with a skill many modern coroners lack, even stated that the bullet was a .44 calibre, and was shot from an old Army pistol. How could he be so sure? Who knows?
But the skull being found well away from the body bones is a fact, attested to by honest lawmen, and that these parts are all that remained of Adolph Ruth is also a fact. Among the bones was the unmistakable, one-of-a-kind silver plate doctors used to repair the leg that had been broken on a previous gold mine expedition in the mountains northeast of San Diego, California.
Adolph Ruth and his veterinarian son were in California because the son had befriended some Mexicans during service as inspector of imported Mexican cattle, and they had described a lost gold mine. The two prospectors, father and son, became separated in the rugged Southern California mountains. The elder Ruth, alone and in trouble, took a bad fall in a rocky canyon, and his leg was shattered. For the rest of his life he needed a walking stick to get about. Why he wanted to go back into the mountains again, in an area far more dangerous than the previous ones, can only be attributed to "gold fever." The old-timers say that when the virus strikes, there is no cure.
So it is a well-accepted, documented fact where Adolph Ruth finally died, and what he was doing there. He died in Arizona's Superstition Mountains. The area is known to be an unpleasant, searing hot, unforgiving tumble of volcanic rocks by day that often, that very same night, can freeze your ears off. Just away from the marked trails, the Superstions can be one step this side of Perdition.
Or the same mountains can be a serene, majestic, beautiful area where folks take their kids on vacation, albeit very carefully.
The Superstitions can be magnificent going in, if you stay on the major trails and do it in the fall or spring. They can be absolute hell coming out, when you do not stay on these relatively major, relatively safe thoroughfares.
If, under the latter circumstances, you come out at all.
Adolph Ruth didn't, until they put him back together in a little box and sent his bones to follow his skull home. That part, the skull, had been sent ahead to be studied by the family dentist and other scientists, and was all of old Adolph the family had over which to hold a rather macabre funeral.
But we know Adolph Ruth existed, and we're pretty sure he died in the Superstitions not that long ago, in June, 1931. That's where his remains were found. Nobody, in spite of all the wild stories about the area, has yet suggested that Ruth was killed, or died, elsewhere, and was then hauled back into the rugged mountains before having his head cut off. If, indeed, his head was cut off. Now that the suggestion that he died elsewhere has been offered, it will probably appear as fact in the next book about the Lost Dutchman. That's how the legend grows, and why it is so difficult to pick out the fact from the fiction.
And why it has been so very difficult to find the mine left by the old Dutchman.
We know that trusting Adolph Ruth carelessly displayed a map given to him by his son, who had been offered the map by Mexican friends in the cattle business. They said it was genuine. Why the cattlemen didn't give up the uncertainty of beef for the mine they insisted was full of easily obtainable gold is not known. We know, and so did many others then and now, that the old map is said to have specifically located the fabulous "Peralta" or Lost Dutchman gold mine. All of this could be true. There was a map. Ruth got it from his son, and showed it to several others who wrote down their reports later, and who worried about handicapped Ruth after he went into the searing mountains to seek the mine.
The map could have been an exact copy of the original Peralta map, if, that is, the Peraltas ever existed as mine owners in the first place. They were Mexicans who gave the map to Ruth's son, if that helps. If the Peraltas never existed, then the map came from sombody else, but most believers in the Dutchman also think the map carried by Ruth was drawn by one of the Peralta descendants, though it was not the map drawn by the original Don Miguel Peralta for Jacob Waltz and Jacob Weiser.
So Ruth could have been murdered and then decapitated deep in the brooding mountains. This could have been done by other jealous miners, wild Indians, or locals who didn't want the mine found by an outsider. Or it could have been done by the ghost of old Waltz himself, the original Dutchman, long since dead but materializing in the sweltering canyon to smash a hole in Ruth's skull with a pointed rock, thus carrying out once again the so-called "curse" of the lost mine.
Ruth, who certainly should not have gone into the Superstitions alone, or at least not in the temporary company of two recent acquantances he carelessly selected as "helpers," was in no physical condition to handle the rigors of one of the most rugged areas in the world. He was old, and lame as a result of the earlier broken leg and the silver plate holding his thigh bone to his hip bone. He got about with the help of a cane, though he was heading into an area that rejects even young, strong mountain men. He could not be dissuaded by his family, though they pleaded with him to send in a younger man. He certainly would not listen to his new western friends, either.
In the company of two miners who were taking a break out of the mountains, he went in. With their help, they insisted later, he set up a campsite in a canyon. Then, according to them, they left him to his own devices, to seek out his fortune using his old map. Right away you might wonder why two mountain-hardened miners would walk away from a tenderfoot with detailed map directions to such a fortune in gold, especially when they were later seen driving Ruth's car. Why two mountain-hardened miners of questionable morals would leave a enderfoot with a map worth millions of dollars is just another mystery. Most would have stayed with Ruth, and helped him, for a very tiny percentage of any gold that might be found. After all, a small percentage of a mine said to be worth up to five hundred million dollars or, today, much more, would be acceptable for few days nursemaiding an elderly easterner who didn't understand the mountains.
A few days later, when others went into the mountains to find him, Ruth was gone. His boots were at the campsite, but he was probably wearing the softer shoes he brought along. His remains were finally found many months later, first his skull and the following year his bones, after several diligent searches by sons, friends, and police and newspaper officials.
So ended, in 1931, the life of unlikely prospector Adolph Ruth.
Ruth is one of the very few cold, hard, authenticated facts surrounding the will-o-the-wisp Lost Dutchman legend, and even his story has many inconsistencies. But Adolph Ruth did exist, and did almost certainly die in the Superstition Mountains. Or at least that's where his skull, and later his bones, were found.
The very enjoyable book that opens with Ruth's "murder" was written by a fine old gentleman prospector named Sims Ely, who himself searched for twenty-five years for the very same fabulously rich gold mine. Ely's book, and several others, goes so far as to quote from Mr. Ruth's "notebook," said to have been found among his bones in a rocky crevice not far from his campsite.
"Veni, vidi, vici," Adolph Ruth is reported to have dramatically written, very near the time of his death. That is, according to Sims Ely and folks who understand Latin, "I came, I saw, I conquered." Then, to add to the great mystery of the mine sought by thousands of amateurs and professionals, Ruth apparently quickly scribbled in pencil, when he saw his murderers coming according to Ely and some other writers, "...about 200 feet across from cave."
What did he mean, if he wrote those words? What cave? Beginning where? Who knows? One so-called expert insists that Ruth found the mine and wrote in his book the latin words, perhaps in triumph - though most of us would have been busy chipping out the pure gold said to be there. Then, when he saw he was about to be murdered, he added the later scribblings about the "200 feet" to confuse the ones who were after him.
Still, "The Lost Dutchman Mine," by Sims Ely, is good reading.
In spite of how authoritative Ely sounds, he wasn't there with Ruth any more than any other modern writer, including the author of this book. Many students of the Lost Dutchman now doubt the existence not only of the mine, but of any type of notebook left by Adolph Ruth. Where is that notebook today, they ask? And Adolph Ruth, other than adding yet another gruesome story to what many believe to be a "cursed" mine in a maledictory, tormented, "bad medicine" area, has very little to do with whether the great gold mine does or does not exist. Ruth was only one of thousands of men and women, some with maps and some without, who have searched for hours or days or years for the treasure of the Superstitions.
This is true although for more than a century now, in spite of the fact that the best private and United States government geologists agree that without a doubt there can be no natural gold deposits in the Superstitions, the legend persists and grows. A gold vein in these mountains would be next to impossible, they all agree, because of the geology of the entire area.
There can be NO gold in the Superstitions in natural form according to the best experts.
End of story.
On the other hand, who could doubt the existence of a mine when an intelligent, prominent, successful old gentleman like Ely writes, "Beginning in the middle nineties, we hunted the Lost Dutchman for twenty-five years as a hobby. We began as doubting Thomases, thinking, like many others before and since, that the Lost Dutchman was pure legend, one of those dreams of treasure, and nothing more, that through the ages have lured men to hardship and violent death. Then as we studied the proofs of its existence, which have now been accumulating for seventy years; as we examined and cross-examined the witnesses; as new revelations substantiated old, we became convinced that the Lost Dutchman Mine does exist, that its values are great, that it is there for the finding, somewhere within sight of Weaver's Needle in the awesome Superstitions."
Perhaps Ely's long-time partner and best friend, Jim Bark, who was a successful cattleman and very prominent in Arizona affairs, made more sense when he wrote these words after years of searching the hot, barren mountains. "Hunting the Dutchman is not for old men. Nor for old prospectors who sit on park benches in all our western towns - still filled with hope, exaggeration, specimens and nicotine. They must step aside and let the younger generation hunt the Dutchman, chew their own tobacco, tell their own lies and buy or steal their specimens. Someone, some day will fit the parts together more successfully than we have done. Good luck to him!"
Ely and Bark searched in vain for the source of the gold of strange old Jacob Waltz, or "Waltzer" or "Walzer" or something else, depending upon which "expert" you choose to believe. He, old Jake, is considered by most, but not all, to be the original "Dutchman."
He came as an immigrant from Germany, and wound up in Arizona, looking for gold or working for a gold mining company, and perhaps "high-grading" (stealing) gold from them, depending upon which story you believe. Jake Waltz was, as will be related later in this book, either a tyrant, a gentleman, a murderer, a recluse, a thief, generous to a fault, stingy, cruel, or any combination of these traits and more, depending upon who you believe.
Like Adolph Ruth, Ely and Bark never found Jake's mine, if it exists, or never lived to tell about it. But until their deaths they were good-natured about the matter. They didn't find the mine, but as many of us have found in other endeavors, they found the journey to be as worthwhile as the destination. They found adventure in mountains they loved, and they found a fast and worthwhile friendship that lasted until their final days on earth. They found things that no amount of gold can buy. Ely's book, in fact, is dedicated to his very best friend, a pal who preceded him in death, with the words, "To the memory of Jim Bark, my lifelong partner in the Arizona mountains."
Perhaps the two old pals never found what some have called the richest gold mine in the world because it doesn't exist.
But it could be simpler than that.
Perhaps they never found it because most who have searched believe the aforementioned Weaver's Needle, named after Pauline Weaver, an 1830's mountain man and trapper in the region, is the major landmark of the most prominent maps. Weaver's Needle is an obvious tall rock pinnacle landmark deep in the Superstitions. Because of its shape, it was known to the Indians as "Horse's Pizzle." Weaver's Needle is said to be the site of the mine, as indicated first by Waltz then by Ely and most others. Over the years prospectors have generally bought into the Weaver's Needle yarn, as some of the fantastic stories later in this book will attest. The real "expert" searchers all say the same, that the old Dutchman's mine is within a two and one half mile circle around Weaver's Needle.
Others know of spires like "Miner's Needle" in the southern Superstitions, and suggest that since none of them were specifically identified by name by Waltz, Miner's Needle could be the key one. Still others take a dim view of any needle at all, suggesting that when you are drawing a map down in Mexico, where some of the "good" maps originate with perhaps sound reasons, or drawing a map over in California, or only a hundred or so miles away, distances become distorted. What might be a half mile away, or two hundred feet away, from any given landmark, could appear on a map hand-drawn from memory from far away to be right next door or miles away. So either rocky spire, Weaver's or Miner's, or any one of several others now known and mapped, could be THE one, if a searcher is looking for a skinny, pointed mountain that looks very much like the final plumbing fixture of a horse. The names are different, and this is also confusing. The Indians called them by Indian names. The Spanish and Mexican by Spanish and Mexican names. The early day Americans by American names, notably the names of pals.
But the needles were put there by nature and they remain there almost unchanged not considering erosion and earthquakes over hundreds of centuries.
Many searchers have chosen to believe that old Adolph Ruth was not murdered and decapitated at all. They believe he slipped and fell as he climbed about in search of his mine. They believe he fractured his skull on a sharp rock, and that the resulting puncture only looks like a bullet hole. They ask themselves how a so-called expert pathologist could suggest that a rock could mimic a .44 bullet, or any bullet. They believe animals then scattered his bones and carried off his head.
Of more importance to everybody but Ruth, whatever happened to him apparently happened within sight of Weaver's Needle. From some of his previous boasting, an activity you should avoid if you have a treasure map, his old map did show such a needle-like rock formation.
But, naturally, the map scrawled many years earlier and said to have been given to Ruth's son, Erwin, by the grateful family of Mexican cattlemen for whom he did a favor, has apparently never been found.
Yes, Adolph Ruth had an authentic-looking map with a very important needle landmark according to some eye witnesses, including Erwin Ruth.
The trouble is, some other maps suggesting the location of the famous Lost Dutchman mine do not show such a spire at all.
Ely and Bark believed until the day they died that Jacob Waltz, the original Dutchman, and his partner Jacob Weiser, found a mine being worked high up a mountainside by two dark-skinned, nearly naked men they thought to be Apache Indians. Apache Indians, in those days in the Superstitions, were killed first and questioned later. Without a second thought the two Germans are said to have shot both men to death from across the canyon, and only when they climbed up the other side did they learn they had killed two Mexicans. Waltz and his partner were very sorry for what they had done, according to the records of others who believe this version of the convoluted story, but they buried the bodies and took the mine all the same. It was a mine so rich in gold ore that it took their breath away, according to later tales by Waltz.
What a mine it was!
A chimney of rose quartz and softly gleaming, naked, virgin, beautiful gold fashioned by the violence of nature, vomited up eons ago and only half-hidden in an hour-glass shaped hole near the top of a small mountain. The pure, soft vein over eighteen inches wide runs up, according to Waltz, from deep within the rugged mountain's rocky bowels. The "feces of the Gods" is what early-day Indians were said to have named gold, before they covered it up whenever possible so that white invaders wouldn't find it, and enslave them to dig it out.
There was no way of telling how far down the vein went, assuming it did and does exist, and how many billions of dollars of gold still waits for the tip of a miner's pick into its soft, malleable body, or the growl of a mining company's machinery. In any case, if the mine exists as reported in hundreds of stories, a lone prospector would need only to chip and dig the pure gold out of the vein. If you found it, you wouldn't even need a crusher. It would take almost no time at all and easy digging to become very, very rich. You could dig out a fortune in a few days with a Swiss Army knife!
Why start a book about a man who has little effect on the outcome? On this, Ely and I agree. For the trouble is, there are very few facts about the Lost Dutchman, and researching material written by people who should know only confuses the matter more. One gold seeker will make a statement as pure, proven fact, as I have done with Mr. Ruth. Then the next expert will come along and make a statement that is quite opposite of the first, and label it as a pure fact as well.
Black is white, and white is black, and red is green, depending upon which story you read about the old Peralta mine, now known as the Lost Dutchman. Many searchers, in fact, refuse to use any type of map at all when seeking the Dutchman. In the big picture, the Superstition Mountains aren't that vast. You can fly over them in short minutes. East and west, they may run for thirty miles or so, north and south perhaps six or eight. Yet within these boundaries is said to be one of the greatest treasures in the history of the world.
But to many, finding that treasure is a little like winning a state lottery. Some use a map, and there are many around, others simply trust to luck. Although the odds are staggering in either case, some folks pick specific numbers in a lottery while others go for the "quick pick" numbers generated by a computer.
Where treasure is concerned, some searchers merely go into the Superstitions and wander about aimlessly, striking a pick here, moving a rock there, hoping to spot the gleam of "color" while they enjoy nature at her most rugged. They feel that since searchers with maps haven't succeeded even after years of searching, only pure luck will win out in the end. So they meander about, hoping for luck to strike them.
And, yes, some of them do not survive.
Since everybody who positively knew the truth is now dead and gone, and God knows the old-timers bent the "truth" to their own fancies and passed it on as fact, there's nobody around to endorse one method or the other.
Somebody, someday, will either seek out and find the Lost Dutchman, or they will stumble across the cache or lode by pure luck. If, that is, either is there.
For example, my map does not show a spire such as Weaver's Needle at all. In fact, it indicates an area to the south, on the edge of the Superstitions and not deep inside, where men die. Yes, I have a map of the location of a fabulous, fifty million dollar gold mine, or gold cache, or river of gold, and the map calls it "The Lost Dutchman."
After all, nobody really knows where old Jake got the nuggets to help his young half-breed woman friend, Julia or Helena Thomas, out of her financial pinch, if that story is true. Oh, there was probably no hanky-panky going on between her and the Dutchman. Records do seem to show that both did exist at the same time and in the same place, and knew each other, and that he did help her with raw gold he found somewhere, or stole from somebody. He was by then in his eighties, she in her forties. On the other hand, men who lived to an older age at all in pioneer times were generally hardy and lusty to the end, so they may have been quite close. For old Jacob's sake, we can only chuckle and hope so.
It doesn't really matter.
That is, if you believe the story of old Waltz in the first place, and his younger part-black or part-Indian friend, Julia, and her German immigrant step-son, Reinhardt "Reiney" Petrasch, about whom much more will be written later. The latter two looked for the old man's mine for years after he was gone, so they must have believed him. But they never found it though he was said to have given them detailed instructions including a warning that he had booby-trapped the area and that they should be extremely careful.
Julia asked him, according to her story later, "Ain't you afraid some cowboy'll find the mine?"
"No!" he is said to have answered, giving yet another hazy clue to the mine's location. "The mine will never be found by any cowboy. You have to go in on foot, and no cowboy's likely to do that if he can help it, and it's hard enough to find even when you know it's there. It's in a rough place, and you can pass within a hundred feet or so without seeing it. The gold's in a pit that the Mexicans started from the top. My partner and I just dug deeper, and it's not very far across."
When they asked him why he didn't just file a claim on the mine location, then he wouldn't have to worry, still another enigma resulted. "I can't file a claim because I ain't a citizen," Waltz is said to have responded to his closest friends, Julia and Reiney. Paperwork disputes him, but there seems to be no reason why.
It is known that Waltz emmigrated to America with some other family members in 1846, at the age of 38. Papers requesting citizenship by the same Jacob Waltz, formerly of Oberschwandorf, Wurttemberg, Germany, a small village in the Black Forest, are on file in the state of Mississippi, in Natchez, dated November 4, 1848. In this signed request, Waltz, "an alien and native born subject of Wurttemberg, Germany," declares to be "bona fide, his intention to become a citizen of the United States of America, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fideltity to every foreign Prince, Power, State or sovereignty, whatever, and particular to William, "King" of Wurttemberg, whereof he was late a citizen and subject." So Jacob Waltz, probably the original Lost Dutchman, did at least ask for citizenship.
Furthermore, papers granting citizenship to Jacob Waltz, signed by him and the other necessary authorities, on July 19, 1861, are on file in the County of Los Angeles, State of California.
So why did he lie, which he did according to his best and last friend, Julia Thomas?
Waltz also told his friends about some ore he had stored, so the Dutchman could be a cache instead of a lode.
My map, whatever its value, is stored in a safe place well away from my home and family. Only one other person, my partner, Tony DaCosta, skilled in traveling in rough country and knowing what native gold looks like, has seen it. Priceless beyond imagination or totally worthless, the map was hand-drawn by an old-timer who was near death. He swore to me that he had seen the gold with his own eyes, and most people, young or old, won't swear to a lie when they are near to meeting their maker. In fact the old man said he had removed some of the gold. He had comfortably lived on the proceeds for years, he said. He didn't want the secret of what he knew as "the Dutchman" to die with him, and he just took a liking to me.
I'm not sure he did me a favor.
More about him, and the map, and why he gave it to me free and clear with no obligations, later on. Suffice it to say that my partner and I are going into the Superstitions, with my map, in a search for the Dutchman's gold.
By my rough calculation, the gold should be worth millions and millions of dollars, perhaps even billions. Also by my rough calculation, the two of us are the 145 thousandth prospectors to head into the Superstitions looking for gold that might not even be there. It may never have been there.
The Lost Dutchman could be the greatest hoax in the history of slickers selling big bridges to visiting yokels. The Dutchman is one of the primary tourist attractions in Arizona. Many commercial maps purporting to locate the Dutchman are openly sold in tourist stores. Legitimate museums dedicate entire wings to the "lost gold" in the Superstitions, as though the gold is a positive fact when the truth is, very, very little gold is known to have come from the moody, often cloud-enshrouded mountains.
One writer from Arizona boasted that when foreign visitors were first asked in New York what they most wanted to see in the United States, it was a toss-up between the Grand Canyon and the relatively nearby Superstition Mountains. Whether or not you find that hard to believe, and where Disneyland and the Indy 500 come in, there is no doubt that the state of Arizona would be vastly poorer without the Dutchman, or if somebody actually found the Dutchman and took the gold away. The legend would die then, and a stirring, blood pumping, exciting legend it has always been.
Yet it could all be a fake.
But we don't think so.
By the end of this book, we may have changed our minds.
On the other hand, I may be relaxing next to my brand new olympic-sized swimming pool with four beautiful-but-very-efficient secretaries taking notes as I ramble on, and then doing the typing for me.
Not many know, or, perhaps, even care, but there is really only one "Superstition Mountain." This austere, conspicuous mountain's stark, rocky face juts up dark and brooding, or sun-washed and baking, in the southwest corner of a rugged area east of Phoenix, Arizona, a vast, forbidding area that has become generally known as "The Superstitions." The hard mountain's front, layered face pushes up from the hot desert like a towering medieval wall, as though shielding and guarding some crazed primordial castle keep on the other side, a keep into which few men have dared venture. In the upper-crust section of wealthy Scottsdale, a prosperous suburb of nearby Phoenix not even imagined when the bulk of this story took place, folks can look out their bedroom or living room windows and see Superstition Mountain lurking in the sweltering, hazy distance.
Most of these people are newcomers living in big, expensive, fully air-conditioned estates. Most of them are more concerned with their immediate lawn, and what to tell their gardeners about how to keep it alive in the searing heat of summer, than they are about the distant, jagged mountain. Most of them already have a great deal of money, and are less interested in what the mountain on the near horizon is said to hide. A few Scottsdale residents occasionally take a moment to reflect on the violent history of the enigmatic wall of rock a few miles off in the distance, and even, with an air of mystery, point it out through their double-paned picture windows to their affluent friends.
The original Superstition Mountain rears its great rocky mass abruptly up from the desert in the angle between U.S. Route 60-89 and winding State Route 88. Route 88 is also known as the "Apache Trail" for reasons that will become obvious later in this book. There is something about the great rocky wall of Superstition Mountain that draws attention even from travelers bored with mountains after seeing so many of them in the region.
It is the sort of jagged, stark-looking upthrust that demands you give it your notice, rising up as it does out there, often with its head in the mist of an Apache thundercloud. You need only look at it to know that this paradoxical precipice creates mystery and illusion and legend of its own. And wild, hair-raising stories as well. Even if you didn't know about the so-called Lost Dutchman gold mine, suggested to be the most fabulously rich mine ever known to man, where you merely chip out solid gold from the beautiful rose quartz holding it, you would pay attention to Superstition Mountain.
It seems to lie out there shimmering and wavering in the intense desert heat waiting for something.
Perhaps for you.
Superstition Mountain proper is only about eight miles long at its longest point, four miles wide at its widest point, and perhaps 4500 feet high at its highest point. On the "front side," the southwestern rampart, the part that tourists see, the escarpment shoves straight up into a forbidding and difficult laminated rock wall. On the back side, the northeastern side, Superstition Mountain blends northward and eastward into what early pioneers began to call "The Superstitions," and into what the U.S. Government calls "Superstition Wilderness" on their maps. One writer who had good reason because he had been there, called the complex area, "the most savage country of the North American Continent."
The jagged, difficult, effectively unpopulated territory of The Superstitions extends north all the way across Pinal County and the Maricopa County line to the Salt River series of dams and lakes. The territory includes the hot, dry, rocky wilderness east of Apache Junction across Pinal County to Gila County, finally blending without change into the Pinal Mountains. The Superstition Wilderness extends almost to Florence, Arizona, as its southern boundary. There are no rest stops behind the mountain, no rescue squads, no campgrounds, and very few other humans. If you do encounter a human back in there, you avoid each other, for he could be after your claim, or you after his. Yesterday and today, by U.S. Government suggestion, you give wide berth to others behind the mountain. You mind your business, hope that they mind their's, and nobody will get hurt.
This entire area is a rugged, essentially impassable 159,000 acre maze that another writer somewhat dramatically called "the heart of the slag dumps of Hell," after a visit.
Within the confines of this savage range are romantic and dramatic sounding places like "Massacre Grounds," "Apache Leap," "Weaver's Needle," and "Paradise Springs." There are more strangely-named lost canyons than you can shake a stick at, a few of them having never felt the tread of man. Somewhere in this rocky, unforgiving, animal and insect-infested jumble of hard rock canyons and sheer cliffs and forbidding caves and dangerous slides is said to be the legendary Lost Dutchman gold mine. Also, perhaps, several other caches of gold and/or hand-selected gold ore ranging from little piles worth a few thousand dollars each and collected by Mexican workers before they were said to have been slaughtered by Apaches, to ready-to-carry-away smelted gold bars worth a breath-taking five hundred million dollars, and probably more.
On the pleasant side, thousands of more or less hardy tourists and many locals, more often than not families with children of all ages, hike up certain trails into the Superstitions "looking for the Lost Dutchman." They look about fearfully as they herd their children, pushing their strollers around jagged rocks and carefully lifting their coolers over slight rifts, with a keen eye out for the incomprehensible danger said to exist in these ranges.
So how bad can it be if kids come in to frolic?
Children do play in the warm sun while moms and dads toss frisbees and beer cans and candy wrappers along the trail's edges. Often Dad packs a gun on his hip to shield his brood from animals and snakes and scorpions and "crazy miners," none of which, or whom, are ever seen in the near, well-populated outer-edge campgrounds. It's all in great fun, something visitors can talk about back home on a cold winter's night. They can tell their neighbors how they "prospected for the Dutchman's gold." These families and men's clubs and youth groups are enjoying "looking for treasure" while they picnic. There is even a grand "treasure hunt" held every year that involves thousands of city-folk, some of whom are riding horses for the first time in their lives. And, none of whom will leave the immediate area.
What a shame it would be, really, if some lucky treasure hunter actually found the Dutchman, and ended once and for all the famous and wonderful - and very profitable, for Arizona - legend. All this fun would end, and the Superstitions would be just another mountain range to be avoided.
On the more difficult side, all of this mild hiking and lively picnicking and treasure hunting is confined to the more hospitable edges of the forbidding Superstitions. It is not even in the area where the Lost Dutchman is suspected to be located. Most of the fun comes to an abrupt end as the first of the difficult canyons are encountered, as folks suddenly realize that the trail is no longer marked with neat government signs and that ahead lies nature at her worst. Within less than a hundred or so yards of these warning-marked trail-ends, real treasure hunters have become lost, and within a half mile or so, some have died of heat, and thirst, and falling, or becoming trapped in a canyon or crevice, or by the bite of an insect or snake or animal. Some of them didn't know that experienced mountain people always travel in threes, so that if one goes down there are two others to help carry him out.
As they died within a half mile or so of a happy Boy Scout encampment, they understood that they might as well be on the far side of the moon where any help is concerned. Although life-saving water might be in a canteen a long stone's throw away, it might as well be on Mars.
The temperature within the Superstitions, on a hot summer day in craggy, waterless lost canyon beneath the searing sun, can soar to 120 degrees. Yet it is possible, on that same night as you bed down in a rugged campsite long after the casual treasure hunters have gone back to their air-conditioned and central-heated homes or motels in Phoenix, that the outside temperature can drop to below freezing.
According to government publications, the earliest known users of this "slag dump" called the Superstition Wilderness were hunting and gathering Indians who made brave forays into the inhospitable mountains from their villages in nearby river valleys to kill for meat. This was happening around 800 A.D. The area was later colonized by agricultural villagers who came to be known as Hohokam Indians. After about 1200 A.D. new forms of architecture and culture were adopted by these groups. This "new" cultural tradition is usually called "Salado" by archaeologists.
Between 1200 and 1400 A.D. the Salado civilization occupied a number of areas within the Superstition Wilderness. The broken terrain and difficult canyons and ridges kept most of their villages and their few cliff dwellings quite small. Signs of these habitations can still be seen today, but they cannot be touched if any officials are around.
By 1400 A.D., with the Dutchman by then millions of years old and still waiting to be found according to some, various economic and political stresses caused the downfall of prehistoric civilizations throughout most of Arizona. For the next century or so, the wilderness was effectively without population. The Pima Indians of the Salt-Gila Basin, who wouldn't have paid attention to the gold in the Dutchman if they had found it, continued to hunt meat within the area. After about 1500 A.D. the southeastern Yavapai Indians moved in. From that time until the arrival of some Americans in the middle 1800's, the mountains of the Superstition Wilderness were almost exclusively Yavapai territory. Although frequent references to the Apaches are heard in this area, this fierce tribe actually made little use of these difficult, rocky ranges.
The first Europeans in the Superstitions were Spanish explorers who traveled through in 1539 and 1540. Among other things, they were looking for gold, but nobody knows for sure whether they found any. After Mexico achieved her independence from Spain in 1821, Arizona was essentially abandoned by Europeans except for occasional military patrols. Americans filtered in after the Spanish were ousted. More Americans followed when the area became U.S. territory following the Mexican-American War in 1848.
The 1870's and 1880's were boom times for central Arizona, with substantial mining activity around the edges of the Superstition volcanic field.
Several ranches established in and around the Superstitions supplied beef to the military and to the mining towns of Silver King and Pinal. Oldtimers agree that the range was fully stocked by about 1890, and so, of course, the U.S Government moved in. The fledgling Forest Service began controlling livestock numbers in 1905 when the area became a "Forest Reserve."
Visitors to the Superstitions may come across evidence of these long-gone times, and the temptation to pick up a souvenir is great. But the government always reminds every tourist that artifacts are protected by federal law, and excavation or removal can bring very serious trouble down upon your head including a heavy fine and, if you persist, incarceration.
So don't mess with the artifacts.
Although it didn't change the appearance of the place at all, the entire area was set aside as wilderness in 1939 in an administrative action by the Chief of the Forest Service. The Chief just said, "OK, guys, this is now wilderness," as if you couldn't tell by looking at it. This area and other Forest Service-established wildernesses gained the protection of law with the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, which certainly tended to back up what the first Chief of the Forest Service said earlier. So the area had official government approval to be a wilderness, though it still didn't change in appearance at all. In August, 1984, the Arizona Wilderness Act added another 35,640 acres to the Superstition Wilderness.
Ask the U.S. Government and they will say there is no natural gold in the Superstitions. There is no Lost Dutchman Gold Mine there. What's even worse, if you have little faith and tend to believe only in "experts," any private geologist worth his salt will quickly agree, and many have quickly agreed, with the government. There is absolutely no possibility under any circumstance other than miraculous, that there is any gold ore worth mining in any section of the Superstition Wilderness.
United States government geologists have explored and studied and charted the violent way the mountains were formed. So have private experts, some of whom are there to disprove the idea of natural gold. This could all be true. There are other explanations for the fact-based stories of men who have brought gold ore out of these mountains, including the Lost Dutchman, himself, if he did bring Superstition ore out, and not ore from some other location.
There is gold in the area. Plenty of gold has been found nearby, in the mountains a few miles north of what became the thriving capital of Arizona, Phoenix.
Oddly, for a reason difficult to understand, a thorough reading of the full 23-page "Arizona" section in the prominent "World Book" encyclopedia, found not a single mention of the word "superstition." Even the otherwise complete map of the state didn't depict the vast Superstition Wilderness east of Phoenix. For some unfathomable reason, the very word superstition, and the vast Superstition Wilderness, which includes a major range of mountains, are studiously ignored. It is perplexing to see these dramatic and romantic places so neglected in a state that, compared to nearby states, offers relatively little more than a warm, dry, healthy climate. Perhaps it was the editor's choice, and not the choice of residents of Arizona. Where the precious metal gold was mentioned at all in the scholarly discussion, it was mentioned only as a mere by-product of copper, another of the state of Arizona's valuable metals. "Most of the state's copper comes from underground or open-pit mines in Cochise, Gila, Greenlee, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, and Yavapai counties," explains the World Book. "Most of the gold, silver, and zinc and all of the molybdenum are recovered as by-products from copper ore." The encyclopedia thus effectively dismisses the millions of dollars in gold and silver that has come from the state, and still comes although in smaller quantities. And although it discusses the beautiful Grand Canyon in some detail, the encyclopedia dismisses as inconsequential another of the state's primary tourist attractions, the legendary Lost Dutchman gold mine.
When the experts say there is no possibility of gold within the boundaries of the Superstitions, they do not mean to say there is no gold anywhere in Arizona. Meanwhile, where there is drama, and danger, and, if you love the Superstition mountains, pure joy at being in one of the most rugged areas ever created by nature, there is NO natural gold there.
The Superstitions were already millions of years old when the Rockies thrust up in the gigantic upheaval that created them. They were millions of years old when the Colorado River began to create the Grand Canyon. Even long before that, soon after the continents of the earth became relatively well-formed, Arizona was covered by a vast, shallow ocean. As the continent's edge plates moved up and down against each other in unimaginably forceful motions, Arizona became alternately wet and dry. Then, perhaps two hundred million years ago, as the seas advanced and retreated, mountains began to rear up, then flatten out again. For a few million years, Arizona was covered by humid forests, and was populated by dinosaurs.
Arizona changed violently during the turbulent Tertiary period. Tremendous explosions rocked the land over a period of thousands of years. The ground heaved up again and again and exploded into great volcanoes. This active flow of lava formed the Superstitions in the general shapes we see today. Finally the volcanoes collapsed into themselves, leaving broken and scattered mountains and sheer cliffs and jagged pillars and rocks. Slow oozings of lava built up mesas on top of the debris while earthquakes and erosion continued to shape and destroy the mountains. The altered lava flows were mostly dacite tuff, ash and agglomerate and were deposited on deeply eroded Pre-Cambrian granite. Some pinal schist can be found that is older than the Pre-Cambrian granite.
What all of this means is that the Superstition Range is composed of heavily weathered tuff, ash, and lavas usually exposed at higher elevations. This gives rise to a thin, fine-textured, easily eroded soil. In the southeast portion of the wilderness, the volcanic crystalline and metamorphic formation embody acid lavas, granites and shales that yield thin, rocky and gravelly soils.
Geologically, the entire area has a low potential for mineralization. In fact, the government says, "despite legends of lost gold mines and buried treasure, no mines were ever developed within the Superstitions themselves." But the government goes on to explain that "the most famous tales revolve around mines developed by the Peralta family of Sonora, Mexico, that were rediscovered by a German immigrant and itinerant mine laborer known as Jacob Waltz."
It is true that no experienced gold hunter will look very carefully at lightweight lava rock, of which the Superstitions are made. After a detailed study of the entire area, the U.S Bureau of Mines flatly stated that the Superstitions are a "non mineralized area."
However, even the United States government will probably agree that there is nowhere on earth that gold does not exist in some quantity in one of its two forms, either placer ("plasser") or a vein deposit. You could probably go to the edges of any river or stream in the world, including streams in the Superstitions, and "pan" for placer gold. You could scoop up dirt and water and swirl it around in a pan, and if you do this enough times over a long enough period, you will eventually, sooner or later, find a flake or a speck of the precious metal that remains in the pan after the lighter materials have been washed away.
This is how many of the old prospectors collected gold. They even advanced the pan technique into other much larger "riffling" devices that handled much more gold-bearing dirt, resulting in more gold flakes to help "make their pile" so they could go home at last. They would find an area where gold washed down and collected in ridges along the bottom of a river, or around the roots of a tree, or in the backwater of a mountain stream. There they would stake their claim, often protecting it with their life. Occasionally a lucky prospector would stumble across a larger nugget or even a "glory hole" where a small fortune in the heavy metal had collected together thousands of years before.
When a vein deposit of gold is found, such as what the Lost Dutchman is suggested to be, the gold is merely chipped or dug away with a pick in its raw form, or crushed out of the rich ore. The gold can be seen. The vein can be measured. It can be followed along its entire beautiful, shimmering length, and this can be feet, yards or a mile. Since gold is a softer metal, it can be carved out of a rich vein in practically pure form with a pocket knife.
Though few know it, the first "gold rush" in America was not in the western United States, but rather in the state of Georgia, in 1828. So Jacob Waltz and Jacob Weiser were immigrants who knew what they were doing when they headed south into the Confederacy to seek their fortune.
But of all the gold that was found in Georgia, and later in the west, the largest gold strike in the United States was not during the "gold rushes" of the earlier 1900's. The largest one ever was near Carlin, Nevada, in the early 1960's. An open pit gold mine finally began operating there in 1965, and the Carlin mine added a full 10 percent of the annual gold production of the United States.
Wherever it is found, and each specific gold mine can be identified very accurately by experts studying samples of the ore from that mine, possession of the bright yellow metal known as "gold" (chemical symbol, Au) has been a mark of wealth for thousands of years. This is because gold is so scarce, and anything scarce is usually made valuable by man. Early cave men knew of gold. Ancient Egyptians knew how to hammer gold into leaves so thin that it took 367,000 leaves to make a pile one inch high. Light easily passed through these Egyptian leaves of gold that resemble the modern coating of gold placed on the face shield of astronauts, to protect their eyes from the harsh rays of the sun in the near vacuum of space.
During the middle ages, a whole new science called "alchemy" was born as the most highly skilled scientists of the day tried to make gold by artificial methods, by mixing other chemicals and metals. These early day scientists failed. Modern scientists have learned how to extract the gold known to be in every drop of seawater, although not enough to make the operation profitable. The modern atom-smasher has also succeeded where the old alchemists failed, by making real gold from lead and mercury. This, also, costs too much to be profitable. The atom smasher can also make an unstable form of gold from platinum and iridium, but both of these latter products are far more valuable than the gold that results, so, once again, there is no profit in such operations. So far, to this day, all the gold produced commercially, the gold you have in your ring or wristwatch, comes from the earth. It is possible that some of it came from the Superstition Wilderness, even from the Lost Dutchman, but geologists don't think so.
The old prospectors knew that the softness of gold made it easy to work with, just as the Indians knew that gold was worthless as a weapon because of the same softness. It was a metal, but it wouldn't hold a keen edge. Modern science calls gold "ductile" because it can be drawn out into fine wire, and "malleable" because it can be hammered into thin sheets, such as what the ancient Egyptians once did. Gold can be shaped into any form desired, and it will resist rust and most other chemicals. Gold will not, however, resist certain mixtures of hydrochloric and nitric acid, called "aqua regia," certain alkaline cyanide solutions, a hot solution of ferric chloride, a thiosulfate solution, mercury, and nascent chlorine. Some of these long-named substances are used in the retrieval of gold from ore, so here's a word of warning. If you're wearing a gold ring, don't put your hands in any of these substances, and if you have gold in your teeth, don't drink any of the stuff, which you probably wouldn't anyhow. Otherwise, gold will not dissolve and will not tarnish, and has been found in perfect shape in old galleons that have been underwater for centuries.
To hold its shape, to be made into a hard object like jewelry that must resist ordinary wear, or fillings for teeth that also must resist hard use, gold is combined with other metals. Such a metal is called an "alloy." Gold alloys are measured by "carats." One carat is equal to one/twenty-fourth part, so 24 carat gold is nearly pure gold. Eighteen carat gold is 18 parts pure gold to 6 parts of an alloy like silver or some other harder metal, and 10 carat gold is ten parts of pure gold to 14 parts of alloy. Ten carat gold is one of the least expensive gold products, but it is still very valuable.
The major gold-producing countries of the world today are, in order of amount of production, South Africa, Russia, Canada and the United States. The richest gold field in the world is the Witwatersrand mine in the Transvaal Province of South Africa. The Homestake Mine in Lead, SD, is the largest gold mine in the Western Hemisphere today.
But the largest single gold nugget ever found was kicked up by a lucky man with a sore toe in Australia. This nugget, known as the "Welcome Nugget," weighed 2,217 troy ounces, or a breathtaking 185 pounds. If it were melted, alloyed and manufactured into other items, the Welcome Nugget would be worth well over one million dollars on today's market. Such a massive nugget is worth even more in its natural state as a museum artifact.
In the United States, the Mother Lode fields of California for many years supplied the most gold. Nevada now leads the United States in total gold production. Other states leading in the production of gold are Arizona, but not the Superstition Mountain area, South Dakota, and Utah. Ontario, Canada, ranks as North America's greatest source of gold. British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and Quebec are also important gold producing areas in Canada. Other places in the world important in the production of gold are Australia, where the huge Welcome Nugget was found, and the Philippines, which recently became an important gold source.
Although gold is used in jewelry, in dentistry, in electronics (gold carries electricity with very little resistance) and in other more decorative ways such as gold leaf, the chief use of gold today is still as a standard value for money. The United States abandoned the "gold standard" in l933, and stopped making gold coins, but gold is still used as a general mark of the value of money. Since 1937, the United States has stored a vast amount of the yellow metal in underground vaults at Fort Knox, Kentucky, supposedly to back up the paper money issued by the government. It is no secret, though, that far more paper money has been issued than can be backed by the vaults full of tons of pure gold bars at Fort Knox. Don't worry about that. Nobody else does.
There is gold throughout the world, and around the Superstitions, but no natural gold in the Superstition Wilderness according to the experts. Lava rock has no minerals. The Forest Supervisor of the Tonto National Forest, which includes the Superstitions, says, "The Superstition Wilderness has been found to be exceedingly rich - rich in lore and legend about lost gold mines. Fortunes and lifetimes have been spent in futile searches for treasure. 'Gold Fever' is a common sickness here; however, little gold has actually been discovered in this area."
In case you don't buy this - as so many thousands of adventurers and casual seekers have not - the office goes on to state, "This wilderness is now closed to mining except on valid mining claims. It is important to note that searching for any type of treasure is not covered by the mining regulations. A treasure trove permit must be obtained before a substantial search is undertaken."
A treasure trove permit? Does Ohio, or Florida, or New Hampshire, feel it necessary to have such paperwork? So there could be gold in the Superstitions, otherwise, why the need for such a permit?
The Lost Dutchman mine, whether it exists or not (and later in this book you will find that caches may be as important as mines), is always described as a "chimney" lode. It is said to be a vertical vein, surrounded and softly embraced, according to legend, by beautiful rose quartz. It is a "plug" of quartz and raw gold meandering up through the lava rock from deep within the earth.
Not very likely, you say?
You'd be right. But such a plug is not at all impossible, either. The entire Superstition region is even today sitting on top of submerged, inactive volcanoes. The area under the crust which supports the Superstition range is still hot enough to melt rock. This melted rock could have, earlier in history, squirted jets of the heaviest magma up through the land mass above. It is not at all impossible that gold could have been melted together from widely separate areas, perhaps even miles away, then shot upward by volcanic action to harden into a vertical vein of concentrated, pure gold. The gold could have come from far away and been carried under the Superstitions by the lateral movement of melted lava, so that an area normally considered, on the surface, to be devoid of minerals could be mineral rich only a few miles down.
If this mineral were then spit upward thousands of years ago through one of the final vents before volcanic activity stopped, as might have happened in your own backyard if you have a bothersome rock that seems to have no bottom, a Lost Dutchman vertical vein is possible after all. In the Superstitions, or in your backyard.
Many thousands of casual and more serious gold hunters in Arizona believe this to be true, and have searched for hours, days, weeks, even a lifetime, to prove it.
They have, perhaps, searched in vain, in the wrong places, and for the wrong end product. Their maps could have been wrong, or their wanderings in the wrong place. But they have diligently searched all the same.
As we plan to do.
The whole "modern" story of the Lost Dutchman gold mine, a fascinating, convoluted weaving of fact and fantasy, is based upon a rather shaky foundation. The story could be entirely true, or it could be entirely false. More likely, parts of it are true, and other parts false. But a story about a gold mine must begin somewhere, and the account of this mine begins with the interesting yarn about the Peralta clan in Sonora, Mexico. The great rich gold mine is sometimes even called "The Peralta Mine," instead of the Lost Dutchman.
None of this is to be confused, however, with the earlier Peraltas in the region. The original Pedro de Peralta came to the Arizona territory to take over leadership of the Spanish conquistador explorers in 1607 from Juan de Onate. Onate, the previous leader of the expedition, had a very checkered career, so you would think Pedro de Peralta might have made a greater impact on history. Onate, for example, failed to domesticate the buffalo roaming the flatlands around the mountains, failed to find the Northwest passage, and failed to calm the constant fights between the soldiers and priests over treatment of the Indians, and other matters. Onate also declared Calfornia to be an island, and he lost the first significant battle between whites and Indians in the west, in Kansas.
But Juan Onate wasn't a complete failure by any means. He gave Spain a legitimate claim to an immense new region that included Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, a claim that lasted for centuries and still influences the area today. Pedro Peralta, his successor, simply faded into history, perhaps because he didn't fail at anything.
From the very beginning remember that the name "Peralta" is a name as familiar as Lopez in Mexico, or Smith or Jones in the United States. Pedro de Peralta did exist, along with thousands of other Peraltas in the early history of the west. Pedro Peralta did take over from Onate, a succession of command still on ancient records, though it was Father Eusebio Kino who finally proved that California was firmly attached to the territory.
Pedro Peralta did, however, arrive in history long before the Peralta family said to be involved with the Lost Dutchman, and the legendary land grant that gave them ownership of the entire area. There is also a General Peralta mentioned in the history of the area, and certain sites carry that name. But the later land grant branch of the Peralta family, and the grant itself, are either complete fakes or perhaps competely factual, but with certain critical details lost in history. Where the Peraltas are concerned, the original, until now hidden map to be discussed later in this book, and to be followed into the Superstitions by the author and his partner, lists one new landmark with the name "Peralta." Most maps list "Peralta Canyon" as a landmark, a canyon that even today is visited by amateur treasure hunters. So the Peralta name is prominent in the history of the region, sometimes on record and sometimes in legend.
The Peralta family in whom treasure hunters are interested appears in history in the middle 1700's, suggesting that the earlier, known Peraltas could be ancestors of the later ones. According to legal, believable records, Mexican mule trains, some of which belonged to a Peralta family, were regularly seen in early-day Tucson, Phoenix and other Arizona cities, and on the edges of the Superstition Mountains.
With these mule trains being a fact, there could have been latter-day Peraltas in the region of the Superstitions looking for gold before and after the Mexican-American war. It is also possible that these mule trains could have been in the area for other reasons. Records indicate that the trains carried fresh fruit, vegetables, raw sugar and other produce into regions where these commodities were scarce. Real profits could be made by enterprising Mexican farmers bringing fresh produce to the silver and gold mines and small frontier towns and ranches in the area.
It's amusing to consider, but in fact a few melons and other vegetables could be the entire basis for the story of the Lost Dutchman, and could account for the Peralta family being in middle 1800 Arizona territory in the first place.
According to ancient documents, real or fake, Don Miguel Nemecio Silva de Peralta de la Cordoba was the son of Don Jose Gaston Silva y Carrillo de Peralta de las Falces de Mendoza and the Dona Francisca Maria de Garcia de la Cordoba y Munis de Perez. To the great pride of his father and mother, young Don Miguel served with distinction in the Spanish army as a Lieutenant of Dragoons. He was bright and sharp, and King Ferdinand VI noticed him and in 1748, according to the documents, decided to send the young lieutenant to "New Spain" (Mexico) as a personal "Inspector for the Crown." Peralta was decreed to be Baron of Arizonaca, Knight of the Golden Fleece, and a member of the Order of the Montesa. These were weighty titles indeed, and young Peralta was treated, according to a decree the King signed and stamped and gave him, "as one who represents my person," and "if you should do otherwise, it will be very much to my Royal displeasure." Then the king did even more.
He awarded Don Miguel Peralta the famous, or infamous, "Peralta Land Grant," along with a promotion to Captain of Dragoons. King Fernando is also said to have conferred the title Baron of the Colorados on Captain Peralta as a part of the grant. The royal land grant, a vast 7500 square mile, 12 million acre plot of desert and wilderness, centered on the Gila River Valley in the middle of what eventually became the State of Arizona and a big chunk of the State of New Mexico. The king, who personally owned all of New Spain, simply gave the land to Peralta, according to documents still in existence.
It is possible, in spite of this grand history and notwithstanding an unquestionably marvelous name that most of us would jump at, that this particular Peralta, and, of course, his distinguished parents as well, existed only in the mind of a land-grabbing American slicker by the name of James A. Reavis. It is possible that the ancient scrolls and weathered documents denoting this wonderful history were specifically created by Reavis, who was known to be a forger and con man of majestic proportions. All that can be vaguely verified is that in the middle 1700's, "Don Miguel Peralta" (or at least some Peralta) made some real money in mining silver in and around Sonora, Mexico, possibly after distinguished military service in Spain.
It is a splendid, swash-buckling story of the success of a young Spanish soldier, and some of the documents are probably genuine. Only those helping to make the more modern point of view of Reavis, and his claim of the land grant, might be forged.
So what? The fact is, a small, rather insignificant, rocky and forbidding part of the vast land grant was, and is, the Superstition Wilderness of Arizona.
As the story goes, when Charles III succeeded Ferdinand as King of Spain fifteen years later, Don Miguel, who hadn't really paid much attention to his northern holdings, reapplied for the grant and title. Everything moved slower in those days. After eight years Charles said "yes." So the Don remained the Baron of the Colorados, and continued his ownership of the grant of rugged, rocky, mountainous land in the territory to the north, though he apparently had no desire to live there, or even visit the remote region of Mexico. Mexico, much larger at that time, extended west to what became California, and all the way north to Wyoming.
At least a couple of generations later, a subsequent Don Miguel Peralta, either a grandson or great grandson of the original Don, still considered himself to be the holder of the title and the owner of the land. But, like his grandfather, he paid little attention to his vast northern holdings because he was doing well enough at home. The Peralta family had always been in mining metals, especially silver, and things were going just fine at home, thank you.
Then the silver around Sonora began to play out, and this, coupled with the deteriorating political situation in Mexico, persuaded the latest Don to turn his attention north. Since he had always made his comfortable living by taking metal from the ground, and since the territory to the north wouldn't really support farming anyhow, he gathered his three sons together and told them he was sending them into the area to seek whatever they could find. Perhaps silver, perhaps gold, but they were to investigate this land grant that had been in the family so many years to see if it was worth anything at all.
The sons came north in a long, well-equipped train of mules, panning for gold here and there in the land grant whenever the mood struck them, looking for the telltale signs of silver, with which they were very familiar. Finally, according to the Peralta story, they began to see real "color" in their pans. They decided to seek out the mother lode, and while one son remained with the original party, the other two took smaller groups and explored up canyons.
All of this was supposed to have happened, and may well have happened, in the Superstition Mountains area of the Superstition Wilderness, although gold was known to exist further north and to the west.
In what must be one of the easiest major finds in all of gold mining history, Enrico Peralta stumbled across what became known eventually as The Lost Dutchman gold mine. He simply followed the trail of placer gold into the hills above the canyons, though no amateur or professional gold miner has ever been proven to have found the same mine since. Young Peralta's breath caught in his throat as he beheld for the first time the soft glow from the eighteen inch thick vein of pure gold in the chimney formation. The wonderful, soft, twisted vein of precious metal was held lovingly in the grasp of a thicker vein of rose quartz.
It was beautiful to see, if we are to believe this most accepted version of the story.
The problem, as we all know, is that a story told by one person after another often changes drastically. There is a basis of truth, generally, but the details frequently blend and change and merge into an entirely different story. Try it sometime. Get a group together, place them side by side or in a circle, then tell the one next to you a story in a whisper. Make it an elementary, easy-to-remember story, with very simple details. Be sure everybody understands that the story is not to be changed in the slightest detail as that person relates it, also in a whisper to the next one, and so on around the circle or down the line.
Everyone who played the game will be astounded when the last person in line tells the rudimentary story aloud. Very often it is an entirely different story, and almost certainly many of the "simple" details will be different. Black hair will be blonde and blue eyes will be brown.
Remember, this is a story that everybody is trying hard to relate with specific details. Imagine how it is when a story has been passed down from generation to generation, through hundreds of people, with many of them embellishing, changing, adding or subtracting, and generally making up details that will help to match their version of the account.
As, perhaps, will occur in this book. For example, it is possible that the Peralta sons found a mine, but perhaps not within the Superstitions.
In any case, in this most accepted story about the Lost Dutchman, the jubilant sons headed back to their father in Mexico, their mules staggering under the heavy load of a fortune in gold ore.
It is important, I believe, to keep in mind that the mule trains were carrying ore, and not smelted gold. A new theory will be revealed in this book that will help tie all the loose ends together, and this fact is important.
The sons returned on other occasions to dig out more of the precious high grade ore, possibly using mule trains carrying fresh fruits and vegetables and sugar to cover up their real activities. They would come up the trail past Tucson and as they passed the lower reaches of the Superstitions, they would drop off part of their group. This group would go into the mountains and chip out gold.
The rest of the train would proceed on to sell and trade their wares. On the way back, the two groups would join up once again, the gold that had been mined would be loaded, and the sons would make their way back to Sonora.
The grant, and the mine, passed down to Don Enrico Peralta according to stories, and he took gold from the vein in the Superstitions regularly in the early 1860's. Until then, everything seemed calm. It is even possible that Spanish priests may have had knowledge of a stupendous gold mine, or this particular gold mine, much earlier. It is possible that the Indians in the area, including the Apaches for whom many landmarks are named (though the government says they had little to do with the mountains) could have taken the priests to the mine as a gesture of friendship, knowing how the visitors valued the yellow metal.
The Indians had no use for gold since it was too soft to use for weapons or cutting edges, or anything else useful. They didn't understand, but they didn't seem to mind that their white friends were quite taken with the yellow metal and wanted to collect it and carry it away. The Indians even helped their friends in the earlier days. It is possible that the warlike Apaches, who were eventually feared and hated by the whites and who devised fiendish tortures for their prisoners including skinning them alive before they died, helped the priests and others collect gold. It is even possible that the church kept the mine a secret until the Peralta sons discovered it.
Jacob Waltz, about whom will be revealed much more in following chapters, is said to have referred to a "church grant" when speaking of his mine later in life.
The Spanish Conquistadors, and after them the Encomienderos, were not laborers, they were conquerors. They needed somebody to do the manual work, and the natives were the logical choice. So they were enslaved by the Spanish, who were much stronger in arms and religious belief. Before long the Indians, forced to work long hours in the fields and the mines, were broken in spirit and in body by whippings, enforced religious dogma, and Spanish laws that were totally different from their own. The Indians realized that their newfound "friends" were enslaving them and forcing them to dig out the precious golden metal the whites coveted, but they couldn't do much about it. Spanish priests would use the Indian men and boys as miners, in effect holding the women and children hostage. Or they would convert the simple Indians to their hard-fisted, no nonsense, no fun religion, then promise the innocent, childlike converts eternal hot hell and fiery damnation if they didn't devote their lives to digging in holes for their white pals, the ones who had saved their eternal souls.
There are variations, and some of them seem close to the truth even though Jacob Waltz and Jacob Weiser did not come into the picture until much later.
Don Enrico Peralta, the next son, took gold regularly from "his" mine in the territory that had been passed down to him from his father. But finally the calm was shattered and mining began to heat up. The Indians, who were no longer helping the Mexicans but who, on the other hand, did little to hinder them, had until then merely watched from a distance. They found more profit in stealing into Mexican miner's camps at night and taking what they could get their hands on, including food and mules. Both of which they ate. They weren't interested in the gold bearing ore the Mexicans were digging out and packing into bags for transport back home. A status-quo had been reached, with everybody more or less getting what they wanted. After all, the Mexicans weren't permanent visitors, so the Indians could handle them briefly. And the Mexicans, though they lost a mule or some supplies from time to time, were taking out vast fortunes in gold.
If it weren't for wars, and man's greed, and one Mexican peon's criminal passion, nothing may have changed. The delicate balance between the two forces might have remained. But on what turned out to be his final visit to the mine in 1864, accompanied by his usual labor force of Mexican peons, Don Enrico faced a difficult situation. One of his peons is said to have molested an Apache woman.
This was more than the angry Indians could take.
They immediately attacked the Mexican column, only then heading back to Sonora. A three-day battle ensued, with the Mexican group retreating out of the mountains, or, perhaps, into the mountains according to a new theory, with their mules and gold. The Mexicans under the command of Don Enrico held their own for some time, killing as many Indians as they were losing from their own party, moving gradually toward or away from the main trail, fighting from canyon to canyon and rock to rock. The Indians had the advantage of numbers and knowledge of every crevice and every cave, but the Mexicans had the firepower.
Gradually, though, the Indians began to prevail. They were driven by the fact that the Mexican had disgraced their woman. They knew they had to torture and kill every last Mexican in the group.
And, finally, they did.
At what is now a famous locale in the western section of the mountains for tourists rugged enough to get there and see, the Indians trapped the final few Mexicans and killed them. A young Indian who was later known by the name of Apache Jack, was present during the final massacre. Jack, about whom more will be reported later, didn't care one way or the other as many years later he told the story of the mass killing. The Indians reveled in torturing the remaining Mexicans to death one by one in yet another bloody chapter in western history, and yet another example of man's inhumanity to man. Unfortunately, Apache Jack didn't remember the exact direction the Mexicans were traveling before the battle began.
This could be very important as the final, yet to be written chapters of this book will reveal. Were the Mexicans trying to fight their way from the Weaver's Needle area or some other "needle" area of the Superstition interior to the Goldfield area and the main trail north of Phoenix as some stories insist? Or were they fighting their way in the opposite direction, from the Goldfield area toward Mexico, and only passing by the outer reaches of the Superstitions. Records, and they are vague, suggest the gold train was leaving the Superstitions, but the opposite could be just as true.
If the Mexican party was trying to make its way south, toward home, they may have mined their gold where gold is known to exist and known to have been mined for many years. This is the area north and west of Phoenix, and not the area in the mountains around Weaver's Needle east of Phoenix. This, of course, would cast doubt on the entire Peralta story about finding the magnificent mine with its chimney of gold within the Superstitions. This could mean that all of the gold returned to Mexico came from mines still known today in the Goldfield area of Arizona. This could mean there is nothing at all to the great legend of the Lost Dutchman gold mine within the Superstitions.
This could mean that even Jacob Waltz, himself, the original "lost dutchman," was in the final analysis nothing but a low down, sneaky, side-winding high-grader of gold, and that there is no gold in the Superstitions, as geologists insist.
This could mean that our map, about which you will read and see, is correct and absolutely logical, and not a map to a mine, but rather a map to acache of gold.
This would make many of the stories about the location of the mine more believable, more of the expert testimony acceptable, and much of the legend more factual.
On the other hand, if the Mexican mining party, among whom was the peon who committed the crime against the Apache woman - unless he had by then been shot full of arrows by the angry Apaches or killed by the angry Mexicans - were moving in the other direction, all bets are off.
And certain other stories become more logical. If the Mexicans were moving from Weaver's Needle to the edges of the mountains, hoping to get to the trail heading south to Sonora or merely taking the random direction the fierce fight dictated, the mine within the mountains could exist. The fight went on for three days from canyon to canyon and gradually the Mexican force was decimated. As Mexicans fell, the Indians moved on past them. As Mexican mules escaped or fell, the Indians merely cut away the packs of ore on their backs and each ore-laden pack fell to the ground. If dead, the mule was eaten very soon, if alive it was taken back to camp to be eaten later.
The ore in the packs meant nothing except to the Mexicans, and they were all dying or dead.
As Apache Jack testified years later, and there is no reason to doubt him, every last Mexican, including expedition leader Don Enrico Peralta, was massacred. Thus was created, on the spot in the western Superstitions where it happened, the foreboding name "Massacre Ground."
As it turns out, every single last Mexican was not killed. One or two, or perhaps three according to some stories, made it back to Mexico, torn and battered and wounded, to tell the story. For several years after, the Peralta clan lost interest in mining in the Arizona territory and confined their ventures to the more immediate area around home.
The eye-witness report of the massacre from the young Apache the whites eventually called Jack, though that was certainly not his Indian name, is difficult to challenge. He was there, he should know, and he had little reason to lie. But if we are to accept Apache Jack's story about the massacre, then what should we do with the story Jack told about the Apache women hiding the mine once and for all. You'll read that one later. Jack told that story with equal vigor, and it says the mine is in the Superstitions. Is the first story true, and not the second? Are both false? What did Apache Jack have to gain in either case?
Consider one alternative. The medicine men promised that any Indian, at any time forevermore, for whatever the reason, who revealed the location of the mine, would certainly go to Indian "hell." Perhaps Jack made minor changes in the story, moving the general location of the mine away from where it really is and into the Superstitions, to protect his immortal soul.
Meanwhile, could Dr. Abraham D. Thorne, about whom you will read in the next chapter, have been led blindfolded many months later by friendly Indians to one of the heaps of gold ore left over after the massacre of the Peralta party? It makes sense. Others have, according to written and authenticated records, brought rich gold ore out of these mountains that have no gold. Their stories are also fascinating, as you will find, and could be the result of stumbling across a pile of high grade ore left after the Peralta massacre. Almost certainly two well-remembered old prospectors, Malm (sometimes called "Goldlock" in some books and records) and Silverlock, got their stake from gold left after the massacre.
Most important of all, could Jacob Waltz have merely stumbled across one of these many heaps of hand-selected ore during his prospecting? Could this be ore that was taken not from the Superstitions, but from known, less rich gold fields to the northwest by Mexican prospectors? Could these forgotten piles of relatively rich gold ore left behind as worthless by angry Indians be the source of whatever gold Waltz had, and not mere high-grading, nor a fabulous chimney of pure gold deep within the mountains?
Is it possible that the unthinkable is true, that Jacob Waltz fabricated the story of a great vein of beautiful, pure gold in the Superstition Mountains near Weaver's Needle?
Many hope not.
We hope so.
In any case, a war had occurred and the entire territory had changed hands. The land of the Superstition Mountains no longer belonged to Mexico, but to the United States of America. Ulysses S. Grant called the Mexican War of 1846-47 "one of the most unjust (wars) ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation." The war was as unpopular with many Americans as the recent Vietnam War, and is remembered bitterly to this day in Mexico. Mexico's army during that time was commanded by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the officer who had earlier served as president of Mexico, and who later would serve again as president. It was the same Santa Anna whose troops stormed and finally wiped out to the man the gallant Americans at the Alamo in Mexican-owned Texas. But the delaying tactic at the Alamo worked, and Santa Anna was ultimately defeated by General Sam Houston, who, due to the sacrifice at the Alamo, gained enough time to put together an army. Mexico lost two-fifths of all her territory as a result of the conflict. The war won for the United States, under the settlement Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, all of California, Nevada, Utah and most of Arizona and New Mexico, as well as part of Colorado and Wyoming. The border between Texas and Mexico was set at the Rio Grande river. This vast new United States territory included the rather small and insignificant Superstition Mountain and the mountains around it, located east of what has become Phoenix, Arizona, but few really cared except, of course, for the Peraltas.
The Peralta family still considered a great rectangle of the land Mexico lost to be their's. One part of the settlement of the dispute between Mexico and the United States was for the United States to recognize and honor all legitimate land titles and grants theretofore recognized in that area.
Meanwhile, there was some doubt about the western most part of the boundary between the two countries after the Mexican War, so the later Gadsen Purchase in 1853 brought more land south of the Gila River in Southern Arizona and added land in New Mexico into the United States. The money was needed by Santa Anna, who was again President of Mexico, but there was great opposition to the sale. So great, in fact, that Santa Anna, his popularity at an all time low, was forced into exile in 1855. He is said to have taken the first payment of seven million and moved to the United States, though he returned once again to Mexico in 1874, to die in poverty in the same Mexico City he had defended so often as leader of the Mexican army. The Mexican people got only the last three million of the Gadsen Purchase money, which is about the value of one year's production from Tombstone's silver mines during their peak years, an area that would have belonged to Mexico if not for Santa Anna and the Gadsen Purchase. It's easy to see why Mexicans were angry enough to toss out their sometimes president, sometimes general, always politician, and why they still feel resentment today.
The Peralta family, meanwhile, was saddened by the death of the father, Don Enrico, at the hands of blood-thirsty savages up in the rugged northern grant. The mission to pick up more gold should have been routine. No trouble had been anticipated. True, the Indians hadn't been friendly in recent years, but they had never been really threatening. A theft here and there, the loss of some supplies or food, an occasional death of a miner, these were the only prices the Peraltas had been required to pay for the fortune they were bringing out. They had to be aware of the Indians, and keep an eye on them, and they certainly had to maintain their distance, and put sentries outside their camps at night, but that was about all.
Now the entire party, but for a couple, had been horribly killed. Don Enrico, as difficult as it was to believe, had been killed. He would never come home again. Never would the rest of the family, especially the son, Don Miguel Peralta (named after his great grandfather), enjoy the laughter of the happy leader of the clan.
Misfortune continued. By 1871, under the leadership of Don Miguel, the family was facing severe financial difficulties. Pressure was increasing on the Don to do something, anything, to save the clan. Gambling wasn't expected to solve the problem, but Don Miguel enjoyed cards and it gave him time to think about what to do. He was the leader now. The responsibility was his. He had to do something to save the family from poverty.
These were no doubt his thoughts as he gambled one evening in a Sonora cantina with a professional from up north. At first the Don didn't pay much attention to the two Americano gringos leaning against the bar, enjoying a drink. Miguel was deeply involved in his card game. The two at the bar were watching the game closely, and they saw something wrong. The pleasant, obviously well-liked Peralta was being cheated!
Still, they only watched from the whiskey-stained bar as the game progressed in the dusty little cantina. In those days, in those places, you didn't interfere. You didn't mind somebody else's business, only your own.
Finally, Don Miguel realized he was being cheated by the card shark, who was taking what little money he had left. Standing, he loudly accused the gambler, and suddenly the bar fell silent. The two at the bar watched carefully. They found themselves in agreement with the Mexican, but they still watched.
This chance happening in a nondescript, untidy little bar in Sonora, Mexico, is the event that brings out the other possibility in the fabulous Lost Dutchman story. This happening makes it seem very possible, though we hope not, that a great chimney of gold does exist in the Superstitions, in fact, near Weaver's Needle.
Instantly the gambler reached to his belt, snatched out a long knife, and plunged it into the body of the Mexican who was accusing him, rightfully, he knew, of cheating. It was him or the Mexican, and he had to strike first. He meant to kill the Mexican, but his aim was off, and the knife stabbed into the Mexican's shoulder. Before the dishonest gambler had a chance to strike the surprised Mexican a second time, one of the men at the bar whipped out his gun and brought it down hard across the head of the gambler.
With little more than a sigh, the slicker fell to the dirt floor in a heap. The others in the bar, friends of Don Miguel who had been transfixed until that instant, cheered.
What happened to the cheating gambler when he awoke, or even before he awoke, can only be imagined, since Don Miguel was a well-respected member of the Sonora community even if he was having some financial difficulties. The two men at the bar helped the injured Peralta back to his home where servants patched the wound. The grateful Mexican insisted that the two Americanos stay with him. He was living alone, without immediate family, and he enjoyed the company of the two men.
As it turned out, the gun-toting strangers who hit the gambler over the head and rescued Peralta were not Americanos after all. They were German immigrants, itinerant miners looking for a job or a stake after having left the Confederate Army.
That didn't matter to Peralta. He invited them home with him since they didn't have enough money for a Sonora hotel room. Peralta befriended them, and they became his willing house guests. Eventually he told them the story of his grandfather, and how he, himself, had finally inherited a vast tract of land, and a fabulous gold mine, up in what had become United States territory.
He had no way of knowing that in only a few years, a man would challenge the family's ownership of the tract of land. Nor did San Francisco publisher Hubert Howe Bancroft realize, when he wrote and published beginning in 1880, a history of the entire West from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, that he might be using worthless documents as part of his research. By 1889 Bancroft had written 39 volumes, of which the 27th was a history of Arizona and New Mexico. In this book Bancroft very casually mentioned the "Peralta Land Grant" in Arizona, about which Peralta was even then telling his new friends. But Bancroft based his conjecture on "ancient Spanish documents" as his sole evidence.
These "documents" were probably the property of, and were perhaps even created by, "The Baron of Arizona," James A. Reavis, a smooth, fast-talking, honest-looking man who until then had been a horse-car driver in St. Louis.
Among several other jobs, that is. For Reavis tended to move from job to job, and from one money-making scheme to another. In his grandest scheme yet, Reavis decided to claim the great, wild "Peralta grant" as his own on the basis of the Hidalgo Treaty recognizing such grants and his own odd accumulation of papers, "collected" over years of research. These were, incidentally, the papers eventually used by Bancroft in his history.
The papers, proved, according to Reavis in 1885, that he alone had been deeded by marriage and thus owned the great Peralta grant more than 230 miles long and 75 miles wide in Arizona. The grant was larger than Vermont and New Hampshire together. The papers, said to be from Mexican and Spanish archives, looked legitimate.
This concerned and alarmed, and even angered, Arizonans since the grant took in the entire Salt and Gila River valleys and included Phoenix and Florence. Every person who legitimately owned land there, or water rights, or mining rights, would be a trespasser who would have to leave or re-obtain the property, from Reavis, of course. Some suggested, in these early frontier days, that a quick hanging from the nearest stout oak would end the problem once and for all. Perhaps for that reason, and although it has been said that Reavis lived majestically in a great Phoenix home and with a solid black coach and team of stunning black horses, he really spent only five months in Arizona out of the several years during the hearings on the grant. After all, he'd heard the lynching stories as well.
The Southern Pacific Railroad, worried that the grant was legal, even paid an undisclosed amount of money to Reavis to hang onto railroad rights through the contested land. The Silver King Mine, near Superior, also paid Reavis to keep its mineral rights. Famous and distinguished experts examined Reavis' claim, and labeled it genuine.
Reavis, who was caught trying to slip some modern papers he'd written into the Crown's Archives of the Indies in Spain, eventually was convicted of trying to defraud the United States Government and he fled the country. He was finally sent to prison in July, 1896, under a six year sentence. He served two years and died in poverty in Denver in 1914.
There was a 1940 Hollywood motion picture called "The Baron of Arizona," starring Vincent Price, on this great hoax.
Many questions remain on the Peralta story of the Lost Dutchman. Parts of the story could be true and parts false, but Peralta related the story as he knew it to his two new friends, the men who had saved him from the cheating gambler in the downtown bar. The story, by now embellished almost to soap opera status, insisted then and still insists today that the descendants of the original Don Miguel Peralta de Cordoba found the rich gold mine while searching about the family-owned land grant. The story has been handed from writer and historian to writer and historian until it is by now accepted as the truth.
But there is real doubt that the grant ever existed except in the plans of James Reavis. Reavis is known to have forged many of the documents used by careless historians today.
As he related the story of the mine to his two gun-toting German friends, Don Miguel Peralta had only just learned their names.
They were Jacob Waltz and Jacob Weiser.
Jacob Weiser was later attacked by Indians, possibly at the Lost Dutchman mine in the mountains, and according to the eye-witness account of his doctor, died from the wounds.
Jacob Waltz eventually became the old prospector we all know as "The Dutchman." He is said to be the man who found, with Peralta's help, the mine that was once the Peralta Mine, but which came to be known as The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.
For Don Miguel Peralta, if the story is true, attempted to make a deal with the two ex-soldiers. He wanted them to serve as companions and bodyguards on a trip into the northern wilderness of Arizona territory. He even drew them a map of his rich gold mine to seal the bargain. Today that map is known as the "Peralta Map," and copies of it can be purchased in tourist stores in the area of the Superstitions. For the sake of this most accepted version of the story of the Lost Dutchman, in spite of what you are about to read, let's assume a Peralta existed, and was in contact with Jacob Waltz. After all, there were many Peraltas in New Spain, possibly even a dashing young soldier who became a favorite of the King.
But the records show that the United States Court of Private Land Claims, sitting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, found for the United States in a written verdict submitted on Wednesday, June 26, 1895, at the end of the trial to determine if James A. Peralta-Reavis was entitled to sole ownership of the vast "Peralta Grant," if that grant even existed. Due to more than 200 forgeries, blatant changes of ancient documents, additions of modern papers into old files, and other irregularities, the court found that Reavis had no legitimate claim to the vast and priceless range of land that he insisted had been handed down to him through a complex series of purchases, marriages, and other matters. Reavis was promptly arrested and soon sent to jail. The court also hinted in its verdict that there never was a Peralta Land Grant, and was quoted in records still existing today that "the Court further finds that no such person as Don Miguel Nemecio Silva de Peralta de la Cordoba ever existed."
More to follow, including an illustration of our map