Mailing Address P O Box 2223 (520) 586-2245 (520) 586-3375 Location Address Telephone Fax City Manager 120 W. 6th St. (520) 586-2245 (520) 586-3375 Animal Control 104 W. Harvest Way (520) 586-3600 (520) 586-2520 Building Department 120 W. 6th St. (520) 586-2245 (520) 586-3375 City Clerk 120 W. 6th St. (520) 586-2245 (520) 586-3375 Community Center 705 W. Union (520) 720-6044 (520) 720-6126 Fire Department 375 E. 7th (520) 586-9832 (520) 586-3375 Parks 435 N. Adams (520) 586-9645 Planning & Zoning 120 W. 6th St. (520) 586-2245 ext 2018 (520) 586-3375 Police Department 360 S. Gila (520) 586-2211 (520) 586-2520 Public Library 300 S. Huachuca St. (520) 586-9535 (520) 586-3224 Public Works 120 W. 6th St. (520) 586-2245 ext 2017 (520) 586-3375 Visitor Center 249 E. 4th St. (520) 586-4293 (520) 586-4295 Utilities 120 W. 6th St. (586) 2245 ext 2010 Gas Emergency Day or Night Call (520) 586-9454 http://www.cityofbenson.com
In 1890, the U.S. government officially declared the American Frontier closed. With this act came the end of an era - the "Wild West" was considered tamed. Only a few years before, however, maps labeled the area west of the Mississippi as "the Great American Desert" - home only to wild animals and wilder tribes of Native Americans. This situation was not to last, as the end of the Civil War ignited a great westward migration. Prospectors, ranchers, farmers, settlers of all types, began filling this "wasteland," transforming it to meet their own needs and bringing with them the means to militarily subjugate the Indian tribes that threatened this advance. The end of the Civil War also brought a new type of military commander to the West. One experienced in the practicalities of war and hardened to the demands of combat. General George Crook epitomized this new breed of Western General. His success in subduing the Indians of the Northwest prompted President Grant in 1871 to order him to the Arizona Territory to deal with the Apache raids on white settlements throughout the region. Atrocities occurred on both sides. Apaches swooped down on isolated farms and small settlements killing all. In retaliation, whites attacked peaceable Apache camps, massacring innocent women and children. General Crook was ordered to end the Apache raids and bring peace to the region. His tactics were simple - relentlessly pursue the hostiles wherever they may flee and provoke battle or surrender. Columns of infantry and cavalry lead by friendly Apache scouts familiar with the land crisscrossed a region until contact with the enemy was made. Crook began his campaign in December 1872. It ended in the spring of 1873 with the surrender of the hostile elements of the Apache and their removal to the Reservation.
Attack On An Apache Fortress Under cover of the cold darkness of the early morning of December 28, 1872, one of Crook's columns approached an Apache stronghold established in a cave etched out of a sheer cliff bordering the Salt River. Captain John G. Bourke led a unit engaged in the assault and recalled his experience 19 years after the event: "We moved onward again for three or four hours until we reached a small grassy glade, where we discovered fifteen Pima ponies, which must have been driven up the mountain by Apache raiders that very night; the sweat was hardly crusted on their flanks, their hoofs were banged against the rocks, and their knees were full of the thorns of the cholla cactus, against which they had been driven in the dark. There was no moon, but the glint of stars gave enough light to show that we were in a country filled with huge rocks and adapted most admirably for defense. There in front, almost within touch of the hand, that line of blackness blacker than all the other blackness about us was the canyon of the Salt River. We looked at it well, since it might be our grave in an hour, for we were now within rifle shot of our quarry. Nantaje (an Apache scout) now asked that a dozen picked men be sent forward with him, to climb down the face of the precipice and get into place in front of the cave in order to open the attack; immediately behind them should come fifty more, who should make no delay in their advance; a strong detachment should hold the edge of the precipice to prevent any of the hostiles from getting above them and killing our people with their rifles. The rest of our force could come down more at leisure, if the movement of the first two detachments secured the key of the field; if not, they could cover the retreat of the survivors up the face of the escarpment. Lieutenant William J. Ross, of the 2ISt Infantry, was assigned to lead the first detachment, which contained the best shots from among the soldiers, packers, and scouts. The second detachment came under my own orders. Our pioneer party slipped down the face of the precipice without accident, following a trail from which an incautious step would have caused them to be dashed to pieces; after a couple of hundred yards this brought them face to face with the cave, and not two hundred feet from it. In front of the cave was the party of raiders, just returned from their successful trip of killing and robbing in the settlements near Florence, on the Gila River. They were dancing to keep themselves warm and to express their joy over their safe return. Half a dozen or more of the squaws had arisen from their slumbers and were bending over a fire and hurriedly preparing refreshments for their valorous kinsmen. The fitful gleam of the glowing flame gave a Macbethian tinge to the weird scene and brought into bold relief the grim outlines of the cliffs between whose steep walls, hundreds of feet below, growled the rushing current of the swift Salado. The Indians, men and women, were in high good humor, and why should they not be? Sheltered in the bosom of these grim precipices only the eagle, the hawk, the turkey buzzard, or the mountain sheep could venture to intrude upon them. But hark! What is that noise? Can it be the breeze of morning which sounds 'Click, click'? You will know in one second more, poor, deluded, red-skinned wretches, when the 'Bang! Boom!' of rifles and carbines, reverberating like the roar of cannon from peak to peak, shall lay six of your number dead in the dust. The cold, gray dawn of that chill December morning was sending its first rays above the horizon and looking down upon one of the worst bands of Apaches in Arizona, caught like wolves in a trap. They rejected with scorn our summons to surrender, and defiantly shrieked that not one of our party should escape from that canyon. We heard their death song chanted, and then out of the cave and over the great pile of rock which protected the entrance like a parapet swarmed the warriors. But we outnumbered them three to one, and poured in lead by the bucketful. The bullets, striking the roof and mouth of the cave, glanced among the savages in the rear of the parapet and wounded some of the women and children, whose wails filled the air. During the heaviest part of the firing a little boy, not more than four years old, absolutely naked, ran out at the side of the parapet and stood dumfounded between the two fires. Nantaje, without a moment's pause, rushed forward, grasped the trembling infant by the arm, and escaped unhurt with him inside our lines. A bullet, probably deflected from the rocks, had struck the boy on the top of the head and plowed round to the back of the neck, leaving a welt an eighth of an inch thick, but not injuring him seriously. Our men suspended their firing to cheer Nantaje and welcome the new arrival: such is the inconsistency of human nature. Again the Apaches were summoned to surrender, or, if they would not do that, to let such of their women and children as so desired pass out between the lines; and again they yelled their defiant refusal. Their end had come. The detachment left by Major Brown at the top of the precipice, to protect our retreat in case of necessity, had worked its way over to a high shelf of rock overlooking the enemy beneath, and began to tumble down great boulders which speedily crushed the greater number of the Apaches. The Indians on the San Carlos reservation still mourn periodically for the seventy-six of their relatives who yielded up the ghost that morning. Every warrior died at his post. The women and children had hidden themselves in the inner recesses of the cave, which was of no great depth, and were captured and taken to Camp McDowell. A number of them had been struck by glancing bullets or fragments of failing rock. As soon as our pack-trains could be brought up we mounted the captives on our horses and mules and started for the nearest military station, the one just named, over fifty miles away."
References: Bourke, John G., General Crook In Indian Country, Century Magazine (1891); Brown, Dee, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (1991).
How To Cite This Article: "Battle With The Apache, 1872," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (1999).
Chiricahua (also Chiricahua Apaches, Chiricagui, Apaches de Chiricahui, Chiricahues, Chilicague, Chilecagez, Chiricagua) (pronounced /ˌtʃɪrɨˈkɑːwə/; AHD: [chĭ-rĭ-kä´-wə]) refers to a group of bands of Apache that formerly lived in the general areas of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona in the United States, and in northern Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico (it is not possible to precisely define the exact boundaries of their territory).
Ba-keitz-ogie (Yellow Coyote), US Army Scout Led by Cochise and later by Goyaałé (more famously known as Geronimo), this Apache band was the last to resist U.S. government control of the southwest. In 1852, a treaty was signed between the U.S. and the Chiricahuas. During the 1850s, miners and settlers moved into Chiricahua Territory, and the Apache population diminished because of starvation, disease, and attacks. In 1861, the Chiricahuas began fighting the U.S. after Mangas Coloradas was whipped by miners and Cochise’s relatives were killed by the U.S. Army. In 1863, Mangas Coloradas was killed by the U.S. Army when he attempted to sue for peace. The army took him into custody, and he was killed that night. The murder and mutilation of Mangas' body only increased the hostility between Apaches and the United States, with more or less constant war continuing for nearly another 25 years. In 1872, the Chiricahua Apache Reservation was established, which only remained open for 4 years. In 1877, all Apaches were concentrated on one reservation and the others were closed. In 1883, the Chiricahua campaigned into Mexico, returning to the reservation the following year. They finally surrendered in 1886 and were exiled to Florida, Alabama, and Oklahoma. Eventually most were moved to the Fort Sill military reservation in Oklahoma until 1913, when they were allowed to return to what is now Arizona. Many still live in Oklahoma or on the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico. Their last stronghold was the Chiricahua Mountains, in southeastern Arizona, part of which is now inside Chiricahua National Monument.
Chief Cochise of the central Chiricahua Apache was one of the most famous APACHE leaders to resist intrusions by whites into the southwestern United States during the 19th century. Cochise was, at first, not hostile to the American settles in the Area. Instead, he was at war against the MEXICAN army and settlers who were trying to take the apaches tribal lands. At the time, Cochise was considered a help. He protected stagecoaches from attack, gave food and water to them, and taught the AMERICANS to live on the dry, arid, land. He kept peace with the Anglo-Americans until 1861, when he became their mortal FOE because of the blunder of a young U.S. Army officer, LT. GEORGE BASCOM.
Bascom accused Cochise of abducting a 11-year-old boy from a local ranch. Later During the parley Cochise and his fellows were ordered held as hostages by Bascom, but Cochise managed to escape almost immediately by cutting a hole in a tent. Cochise, wanting to assure to safety of the men he had left behind, captured some three Americans and sent Bascom this message: "Treat my people well, and I will do the same for yours, of whom I have three." Bascom, as a show of his POWER, hung the Apache hostages and started to mobilize for war against Cochise. In retaliation for their deaths, Cochise killed the three Americans he had taken hostage. Embittered, Cochise joined forces with MANGAS COLORADAS, the leader of another Chiricahua band.
When GERONIMO'S plight started, he too was included in the new stronger band of Apache, and for a time they fought as one group against the calvary. Bascom went back to Cochise's village, hunted down his younger brother and killed him. For ten years Cochise and his warriors harassed the whites by raiding lonely ranches and attacking stagecoaches and miners. They did not surrender to the troops until 1871. During this turbulent time, Cochise met a man by the name of Thomas Jeffords, the Indian agent for that area. Through Jefford's efforts, Cochise decided to parlay with GENERAL OLIVER HOWARD. Cochise agreed to peace as long as his band were allowed to stay on the current reservation with Jeffords as their agent. General Howard agreed. Cochise made Thomas Jeffords his blood brother and a full member of the tribe.
Even during the years of peace, however, many of Cochise's younger warriors did not agree with him. They broke away and joined with Geronimo to continue the fight.
Following Geronimo's surrender in 1886, the remnants of the Chiricahuas were shipped off to reservations in the east where most of them died. Today there are only a few descendants of the Chiricahua Apaches living in Oklahoma and New Mexico, and there are none at all in this, their own land.
Cochise died on the new Chiricahua reservation in May of 1874, predicting the exact hour one day before. Cochise requested that his braves bury him in an unmarked grave so that the white man would not find his body. According to one account, he and his favorite horse and dog was dropped into a deep crevice in the rocks somewhere in the STRONGHOLD CANYON; another version says that they were buried several miles east of the Stronghold, and that the braves then galloped their horses over the grave so it could not be identified. In any case, to this day no one knows where Cochise lies buried.
Chief Cochise was succeeded as chief by his son, Naiche also known as Natchez.
In 1858 John Butterfield of Utica, N.Y. won a government contract of $600,000 a year for six years to carry mail from St Louis to San Francisco twice a week. Butterfield spent more than a million dollars getting the company started. He ran between 100 and 250 coaches, 1000 horses, 500 mules and had about 800 employees. The large, high quality coaches were manufactured in Concord, New Hampshire, weighed about 2,500 pounds and cost $1,300 at that time.The Butterfield Overland Mail Company initially followed a southern route between St. Louis and San Francisco that skirted the Rocky Mountains and avoided the heavy winter mountain snows by traveling through Texas, southern New Mexico Territory and southern California. The trip, about 2,800 miles, was made in twenty-five days and sometimes less. Lack of water and hostile Indians plagued the route throughout its existence.
Though the coaches had the mail as their first priority they also accepted as passengers any hardy souls who were game for the adventure. Passage for the whole route cost $200, and a passenger was allowed twenty-five pounds of baggage, two blankets and a canteen. The coaches traveled at breakneck speed twenty-four hours a day; there were no stops for bed and breakfast--only the hurried intervals at the station houses when they changed horses. Travelers were then offered meals of bread, coffee, cured meat and, on occasion, beans. Mark Twain described the beverage he was offered by one station keeper, who called it slumgullion: "It purported to be tea, but there was too much dish-rag, and sand, and old bacon-rind in it to deceive the intelligent traveler. He had no sugar and no milk--nor even a spoon to stir the ingredients with." (Mark Twain described travel in 1861 on the overland stage in Roughing It. Read an excerpt.)
Coaches passed through southeast Arizona twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays. The route through southeastern Arizona from 1858 to 1861 crossed into what is now Arizona from Mesilla, New Mexico Territory at Stein's Pass, then headed west/southwest to San Simon, through Apache Pass, Ewell Springs, and Dragoon Springs (about twenty miles north of Tombstone). It crossed the San Pedro River just north of the present Benson and then veered slightly north to pass Cienega and head up to Tucson and on to San Francisco via Yuma and Los Angeles. The ruins of the Butterfield Station at Apache Pass are part of the Fort Bowie National Historic Site near Willcox. James Tevis, an employee who helped build the Apache Pass station house describes it as follows: "A stone corral was built with portholes in every stall. Inside, on the southwest corner, were built, in L shape, the kitchen and sleeping rooms. At the west end, on the inside of the carral, space about ten feet wide was apportioned for grain room and storeroom, and here were kept the firearms and ammunition." [Tevis, Arizona in the '50s, p. 94]
An Overland Station: Indians Coming in with the Stage, by Frederic Remington The Butterfield Stage terminated operations along the southern route at the outbreak of the Civil War. When Texas seceded from the Union early in 1861, the Overland Mail abandoned the Southwest. Officials in Washington rewrote the mail contract so that stages would travel through Nebraska and Utah. This was a devastating blow to the settlers in the New Mexico Territory, which included all of present-day Arizona. The change was immediately obvious to the Apaches who must have watched from the mountains as the wagons, horses and mules were gathered up in an ever-growing caravan heading for California. The ominous parade included more than 200 horses, wagons, supplies, and twenty-one stagecoaches, empty except for the driver. The
Overland Mail was moving out "lock, stock, and barrel." Some months before reporter Thompson Turner predicted that the removal of the Overland route would be a "death blow to Arizona."
The prospect of a withdrawal of the Overland Mail from this route has caused a complete stagnation in business and enterprise. "What will we do? Where shall we go?" is in every man's mouth. ... Private letters from Washington state that it is even in contemplation by the new Administration to withdraw the troops from this country. If this should be done, we are ruined and Arizona will lapse into nothingness.**
The old Butterfield Road was later used by both the Confederate and the Union armies. During the Civil War Arizona territory was virtually cut off from adequate communication with the outside world.
J. Ross Browne described the lack of communications in the territory as follows: We soon had the pleasure of meeting the wagon and escort, by which we anxiously expected food both for body and mind. Only those who have been, as we were, nearly two months without a word of news from home, can appreciate the eagerness with which we crowded around the Sergeant and asked for the letters and newspapers; and only such can appreciate our disappointment, when we found that we had neither news nor newspapers of a later date than that of our departure from Tucson. Private letters there were for some of our party, but nothing that threw the least light upon the progress of the war. For all the information we had, we might as well have been in Timbuctoo or China. I could not but marvel that there existed within the limits of the United States a spot so completely isolated from the civilized world. Military expresses are all that now serve the purposes of communication in Arizona. So far as they go they are a great convenience; but it is hard for private citizens engaged in business to be dependent upon such precarious means of intercourse with the outside world. At this moment Arizona is, practically, more distant from San Francisco and New York than either of those cities is from China or Norway. I made the trip from Germany to Iceland and back much more easily, and with much less expense and loss of time, than from San Francisco to Sonora and back. Now that the Governor and his staff have located the capital, and put the wheels of the Territorial Government in operation, it is to be hoped that this great desideratum will attract the attention of Congress. Without mails and newspapers Arizona will never be a thriving country. (J. Ross Browne, Adventures in the Apache Country, Chapter XXV)
The next public mail to reach Tucson came from California on horseback September 1, 1865. The first through mail from the east arrived August 25, 1866, but it was not until the coming of the miners and the railroads in the 1870s and 1880s that regular contact with the States was restored.
To go to the Fort Bowie National Historic Site:From Willcox drive southeast for 20 miles on State #186 to the Fort Bowie turn off, then drive another eight miles on the unpaved Apache Pass Road to the Fort Bowie Trailhead and parking lot. There is a walk of three miles round trip to the ruins and back to your car. Handicap access is available if you call in advance and make the necessary arrangements. There is no camping at the site.From the town of Bowie, the trailhead is located on Apache Pass Road, 13 miles south. Fort Bowie National Historic Site is open year round 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily except Christmas Day.
Mark Twain described travel in 1861 on the overland stage in Roughing It. Read an excerpt. Adventures in the Apache Country will soon be available as a free e-book.
** Altshuler, Constance Wynn. Latest from Arizona! The Hesperian Letters, 1859-1861. Tucson: Arizona Pioneers' Historical Society, 1969
When the Butterfield Overland Stage Company was running its southern route through Texas and the New Mexico Territory, the station house at the crossing of the San Pedro River was one mile north of the present city of Benson. This set the tone for much of Benson's history as a transportation hub and a link between the east and both California and Mexico. Copper and silver from Bisbee and Tombstone were shipped out from the Southern Pacific Railroad station in Benson. In 1881 Benson became the terminus for the Sonoran Railroad from Guaymas, Mexico, allowing goods to be shipped via the Pacific Ocean rather then overland from the west coast.
In 1897, the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad linked Benson to Phoenix, and Benson continued as a major terminus until mining declined and the railroading was moved to Tucson. At this point Benson might have become a ghost town like many others, but the ranchers held on and the opening of the Apache Powder Company gave the economy a boost. Today Benson enjoys the benefits of being directly on an interstate highway and offers services and accommodations to many travelers as well as having a large winter population of retired people who enjoy the moderate climate and the friendly small town atmosphere.
"When the S.P.R.R. (Southern Pacific Railroad) came through southern Arizona in 1880, the town of Benson was founded. The new town, at a somewhat different location for that of the earlier stage station (see Ohnersorgen Stage Station) was the rail shipping point for the booming new town of Tombstone to the south. Benson was named for Judge William B. Benson of California, a friend of Charles Crocker, president of the railroad. Judge Benson spent many years in the mining regions of the West."
P.O. Est. July 26, 1880.
Barnes, Will C.; Granger, Byrd (ed.) Arizona Place Names University of Arizona Press. 1960. p. 30
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Our company is owned by J. Mahlon and Margene MacKenzie, a Benson couple who’s local roots grow deep in the community. The MacKenzies have operated this realty office since 1983 and affiliated with Long Realty in 1997. They continue to thrive in the day to day operations, Mahlon as the Designated Broker and Margene as the Office Manager.
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