Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Lost Adams - Part Two: The Apaches Attack

(Blogger’s Note: Given the response to the articles on Snake Island and Oak Island, I thought this tale, from New Mexico, might excite those interested in treasure. Given the numbers of those who have read it, and the lack of response, it seems that I was wrong about that. However, for those of you who like a good story, one that seems based in fact, though those facts might not be what you think, I’ll continue with this to the very end.)

The malpais north of the canyon of gold. Photo
copyright by Kevin Randle
Eight days after the provisioning party had left, they were expected to return, but they didn’t. On the ninth day Adams, and his bunk mate, sometimes identified as Dutch Davis but most often as Jack Davidson, decided to ride out to meet them. As they neared the entrance to the canyon, they heard shooting. As they crept closer, they saw that the Apaches had attacked the provisioning party and they were all dead, the supplies scattered.

Or, according in other versions, when he and Davidson arrived at the entrance to the canyon, they found the supply party had been killed, the supplies either stolen or dumped out on the ground. For some reason, Adams would claim they hid the five bodies before heading back to the camp. They didn’t find the body of Brewer, however.

That finished, Adams raced back to warn the other but before he could get there, the miners were attacked. Adams, along with Davidson, hid among the rocks and trees, watching as the remaining prospectors fought to save themselves. One of them broke from the defense and tried to reach the cabin, but the Apaches caught him far short of it. There were a few in the cabin, but the Apaches set it on fire.

As the fighting tapered, Adams knew there was nothing he could do to save the few miners remaining. If he and Davidson stayed where they were, they might survive. They could hear the Apaches, in the distance, celebrating their victory.

In one of those other versions, Adams and Davidson were again too late. The other miners had been killed. Now the Apaches, which included both warriors and women, were celebrating the victory. They were dancing around the smoking remains of the cabin with the heads of the miners on poles.

Adams knew the Apaches weren’t stupid and it was clear that they had been watching the prospectors from the moment they arrived in the canyon. They knew how many men had entered and how many had left for supplies and they would soon discover that at least two of the men had slipped away to hide somewhere. The German, Snively was either hiding as well, or had left before the attack. The point was that the Apaches should have known that three or four men had somehow gotten away.

Adams and Davidson remained where they were, through the heat of the day, trying to ignore the celebration near the cabin. Once it was dark and there were no more signs of any Apaches, he and Davidson sneaked back to the cabin. Under the hearth, was a container filled with gold nuggets. Adams thought it held about a hundred thousand dollars, and that it was worth the risk to recover it.

Adams would tell those who listened to his stories that after midnight, “The first thing we did was make our way back to the cabin. I thought we might be able to get the gold hidden there.” But the cabin still smoldered and it was too hot to get close enough to recover the gold. Instead, they filled their canteens from the stream, and as they were getting ready to leave, Adams remembered that he had hidden a couple of nuggets in a tree stump on the first day of prospecting. He thought he could find them without additional risk.

They escaped from the mine, worked along the zigzag canyon, climbed down to the plateau with the pumpkin patch and crossed it. By that time, it was beginning to lighten and Adams didn’t want to travel in the daylight. They found a place to hide and attempted to remove any traces of their passage. Adams would later say that one group of Apaches had passed close to them, but didn’t find them. Late in the afternoon, another group passed them, and again failed to find them.

When it was dark, Adams and Davidson left the plateau, worked their way down to the dry stream bed and finally came out in the open desert. As the sun began to rise, Adams seemed to be convinced they had eluded the Apaches and decided they should keep going. Adams now believed that it was important to reach civilization as quickly as possible. They didn’t have any food, limited water, and the area was alive with now hostile Apaches.

For the next week they traveled, resting in the heat of the afternoon, eating wild grass, acorns and weeds. They found enough water to survive. Twice more they dodged Apache scouting parties. On the seventh day, they were spotted by a third, but Adams was too tired, too hungry and too discouraged to care. They just kept moving but these Indians were friendly. As darkness fell, they entered the friendly camp.

Adams remained in the friendly village for weeks, regaining his strength and when he felt up to it, he returned to Los Angeles. There he told his story to anyone who would listen to him, drew maps for those who asked, but didn’t seem interested in returning to New Mexico himself.

In a slightly different version of the tale, Adams and Davidson stumbled through the New Mexico desert for a week or ten days. When their horses collapsed, the men shot them, boiling the meat for something to eat. They walked until the soles of their boots wore out. The found the wagon trail that had been pointed out and that would take them to Fort Wingate, but Adams didn’t know which direction to take. Apparently, he picked the wrong one but eventually saw horsemen in the distance which was a roving cavalry patrol from Fort Apache.

After recuperating, Adams showed the doctor who had cared for him one of the nuggets he had picked up. He shared with the doctor all the information he had about the canyon, the landmarks and the massacre. The doctor said that he might try to find the gold himself someday. That was the thing about Adams. He was always ready to supply directions to those who thought them might want to find the gold. Of course, he said that he was going to return for it as well, but it would be years before that happened.

Next we’ll look at the Lost Baxter.

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