Saturday, May 04, 2024

More Tantalizing Information On That Long Stage Ride by Doc Holliday

 May 4, 2024

   Turns out there is more tantalizing information on Doc Holliday's stagecoach ride back to Las Vegas, New Mexico from Prescott in the early part of 1880. Thanks to Mark Lee Gardner, who, as I mentioned yesterday, is writing a book on Doc and Wyatt, forwarded me the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper ad for the Star-Line Stage & Transportation Company which ran a Capital to Capital coach from Santa Fe to Prescott, AT. In addition to learning that it cost $70 for a one-way ticket and that it took 86.5 hours (four days and four nights of continuous travel) to make the journey.

Typical Stagecoach that Doc Would Be On

   I know what you're thinking: a Lunger made that trip? Well, one possible explanation is the dry air of Arizona may have actually tamped down Doc's TB symptoms. As you may know, in the 1920s many tuberculosis patients were sent to Arizona because the climate seemed to help with their recovery. 

   So, our next query is what is the exact route they took? And, thanks again to Mark, here is the itinerary from the same newspaper ad:

   The Jemez Hot Springs is still a going concern in northern New Mexico, spelled here with the anglo s and not the Spanish z, and it is probably prominent in this itinerary because it's a paid advertisement.

   Fort Wingate, Saint Johns, Fort Defiance and Camp Apache (later Fort Apache) all make sense on modern maps. Not so sure about "Brigham City, Round Valley, Mormon Settlement, on Little Colorado River."

   Do they mean Safford for Mormon Settlement? That seems an awful long way south. Or, perhaps they are referring to what became Show Low or Springerville for "Mormon Settlement"? Camp Verde makes total sense, and then Cherry Creek Mining District is near I-17 and the Dewey cutoff to Prescott.

   Here is how my historian friend Vince Murray translates it going the other way: "Based on the advertisement, here’s one of the routes suggested. Beginning in Prescott, Ft. Whipple,  Cherry, Camp Verde, Tonto Basin, Camp Apache, Round Valley (Springerville), St. Johns, Zuni (which isn’t mentioned), Ft. Wingate (Gallup) and east to Albuquerque.  It’s pretty much the same as the post route, Gen. Crook Trail., or whatever. Especially if you skip dropping down into Tonto Basin and stayed on the Rim."

   All fascinating and any way you slice it, this is a very crazy, long trip to be making in the era and neighborhood of Geronimo and a few of his closest friends.

   Which brings us to another issue: we have this outspoken critic who trolls the True West Facebook page, often criticizing our "hero worshipping the killers of Native Americans" and, at the same time gasping at our insensitivity for using the phrase, "depredations by Indians," wondering aloud, "Is there anyone at the magazine born after 1950?" Well, to be truthful, not many, but to answer the main accusation: is it still accurate in this day and age, to say "Indian depredations"? Here is how one of our contributing editors puts it: "Depredations was a formal legal term used to adjudicate claims made by citizens of the US against the government for not protecting them from thefts, rapes, and murders by the wards  (Indians) of the government. Usually if these claims were allowed then the money would be taken out of annuities owed the Indians. Mexico also made depredations claims against the US for raids by US Indians into Mexico. Perfectly good word."

—Paul Andrew Hutton

   And, here is someone who was born quite a bit after 1950: "Let's be honest. The Comanches were fond of slavery and gang rape. Apaches stole children and women etc, and killed people regardless of age (even babies). Lakota, Cheyenne, and pretty much all war-like Native tribes could be brutal and downright ruthless on the war trail, regardless of sex or age. To us, in our present day, that is a big deal, but to a primitive people in primitive times, it was Tuesday. So, yes, there were Indian depredations, same as there were white depredations, or Mexican depredations, that's just the reality of history. I can read about Victorio and find things to admire in him. I can also read about an Apache warrior smashing an infant's skull to pieces or selling kidnapped women across the border and wince. One thing I've noticed, is that this topic seems to go back and forth between extremes. You have reactionary conservatives who go too far one way, basically whitewashing the depredations inflicted upon Native Americans. And, you have oversensitive liberals who go too far the opposite direction, pretending that Indian depredations didn't exist, or were always excusable. For me, history is history, and it's often ugly."

—James B. Mills

   And, finally, here is someone who is in between.

“Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen.”
― Mort Sahl 


  1. Mundo con Queso6:02 PM

    I posted a comment on my post of Fort Bowie. Finally just turned off comments.

    1. Anonymous8:14 AM

      Send us the link.Please


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