Monday, June 28, 2004

Pancho Monroy’s Gold

June 28, 2004 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

There are endless fables about lost and buried treasure in the Superstition Mountain area. Also there are many true stories about events that have led to tales about lost and buried treasure. The following is such a story.

Don Francisco “Pancho” Monroy was born on October 18, 1840, in Altar, Sonora, Mexico. Growing up as a child in Mexico he and his brothers survived a wolf attack. When he was fifteen he survived an attack by a group of renegade Apaches by hiding in a cornfield. He was involved in a Mexican feud between the Gandaristas and the Pesquueiristas. All of this happened to him before he was eighteen years old.

Francisco “Pancho” Monroy first visited the Salt River near Blue Point in 1874. His sister had married W.W. Jones. Jones herded cattle from Sonora to the Salt River and Four Peaks area. Monroy settled on the Blue Point Hacienda about 1884.

It is said Private Sullivan, of Silver King Mine fame, brought rich silver samples to Monroy to examine. It was Monroy who told Sullivan he had discovered a rich deposit of silver ore according to legend. Sullivan wasn’t interested enough in silver to return to the site of his discovery. Sullivan left the Monroy Hacienda on the Salt River and traveled on to California forgetting about his discovery near the Stoneman Grade in the Pinal Mountains. A couple of years later Aaron Mason stumbled onto Sullivan’s discovery and located the famous Silver King Mine in March of 1875. If this story is true then Monroy must have been living in Blue Point as early as 1875.

When Roscoe Wilson interviewed Francisco Monroy in 1925 he was 93 years old. He told Wilson he had lived on his hacienda for more than fifty years at the time. Monroy’s name has appeared in different periodicals over the years, however the one that has linked him to buried treasure appeared in the Arizona Republican in August of 1918. The following account was reported.

“Savoring strongly of the methods in vogue among the bandits in old Mexico, word came to Phoenix yesterday of the robbery of an old, wealthy Mexican cattleman at Blue Point, who was threatened with death by armed and masked men, was forced to disclose the hiding place of his fortune. This netted the desperadoes some $1,500.

“The robbers had ridden into Monroy Hacienda about 8:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. There were six bandits in the group. After beating the old man severely he revealed the hiding place for $900.00. A bandit accidentally moved the stove and beneath it found another $500 in gold.”

Francisco “Pancho” Monroy did not speak English. Monroy was born in 1840, in Northern Sonora. He was one of the earliest, if not the first pioneer to settle along the Rio Salinas (Salt River). Senor Monroy left Northern Sonora, Mexico in the early part [of] 1875 after [the] reign of President Benito Juarez. Many Mexican landowners left Mexico during Juarez’s reign.

Yes, it is probably true Private Sullivan visited Monroy’s Hacienda and showed Pancho the rich specimens of silver ore he had found prior to mustering out of the Army. Sullivan had worked on the Stoneman Grade. It is also believed Monroy didn’t own the Blue Point Ranch at the time, but may have been herding cattle in the area for W.W. Jones.

Yes, Don Francisco “Pablo” Monroy could have hidden a fortune in gold coins somewhere in the vicinity of his hacienda. Monroy was known to stash or cache large amounts of gold coinage.

Bill Cage, an early territorial blacksmith who had worked in Christmas, Arizona, told the following story. This old man named “Lem” who spoke fluent Spanish supposedly worked for Pancho Monroy for several years between 1910-1934. Lem said he helped Monroy dig many holes in the desert looking for gold coins. According to Lem, the only bank Monroy trusted was the desert. The old vaquero had Lem digging holes all over the desert between Salt River and Superstition Mountain. When Lem would inquire as to why he was digging so many holes for no apparent reason the old vaquero replied he had lost something he buried years ago and was trying to find it. Lem felt the old vaquero was losing his memory and had forgotten where he buried the caches. Many old timers used the ground for a bank.

It is quite likely Don Francisco “Pancho” Monroy buried gold coins somewhere in the desert. It is very likely these coins remain buried to this day. The story has been around for a long time and is quite interesting to speculate about. Don Francisco “Pancho” Monroy died at his ranch on December 4, 1935. He was 95 years old.

The old Blue Point Ranch was located near the present Blue Point Ranger Station and parking lot. So when you visit the Salt River between Stewart Mountain Dam and Granite Reef Dam or float down the Salt River you might think about “Pancho” Monroy’s various gold coin caches in the desert.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Letter From the President

June 21, 2004 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. Read this article here.

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, passed away on June 5, 2004. He was born in Dixon*, Illinois in 1911. He served two terms as Governor of California and two terms as President of the United States. Reagan often corresponded with different people around the world. He shared his time using his pen with many people who would never have had an opportunity or chance to physically meet him and say hello.

Some forty years ago I had an opportunity to [meet] Ronald Reagan when he filled in as host for Death Valley Days shortly after Stanley Andrews, the “Old Ranger,” decided to retire from the program. Barry Stabler wanted Reagan was host for Death Valley Days. Reagan had been the very popular host of the General Electric Theater. Stabler had twenty-six Death Valley Days episodes to film but he wasn’t sure if Reagan could fulfill this task. Reagan had been asked to run for Governor of California at the time.

Apache Land was a very busy movie locale between 1962-1969. Barry Stabler continued shooting his Death Valley Days episodes at Apache Land. Ronald Reagan became a regular on Death Valley Days. It was during his work at Apache Land that I briefly met Ronald Reagan one morning on the set.

Madison Productions, Barry Stabler’s company, moved into Apache Land on June 6, 1966 to do the series. The Apache Land staff was looking for extras for Sadler’s company. Candidates who wanted to work were asked to wear Western clothes that would be appropriate seventy-five years ago when they showed up at the casting office. Horses were being leased and rented for these episodes of Death Valley Days. There was one particular film shoot [where] a few extra horses were needed. The horses were leased from Dallas Adair as I recall. I happened to be visiting at the U Ranch early one morning when there was a call for a couple more horses. I rode down to Apache Land with the cowboy working at the ranch. Once at the movie set we dropped off the horses. While on the set I got to meet Ronald Reagan briefly and talk about the horses and the old ranch. We returned to the old Quarter Circle U Ranch.

The next thing I knew Reagan had been elected Governor of California, then President of the United States in 1980. Late in December 1981, Jim Swanson and I published a book titled Superstition Mountain: A Ride Through Time. Somehow Jim and I thought bringing up the names of the United States presidents that had visited this area would make interesting reading in our book. We thought of Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan. We planned to print a special leather-bound gold-embossed copy of our book for the President of the United States with the Great Seal of Arizona on it. We eventually had the book printed on linen paper and in a slipcover. Fourteen of these books were printed, and one copy was sent to President Reagan.

Arizona’s Attorney General Robert K. Corbin, a friend of mine, carried President Reagan’s copy of our book to Washington D.C. around Christmastime 1981. When Corbin returned from Washington D.C. he told us the President would respond to the book. On April 14, 1981 I received an envelope simply marked “THE WHITE HOUSE.” The letter was addressed to Tom Kollenborn. The letter read as follows:

Dear Mr. Kollenborn:

I’m certainly glad you asked Bob Corbin to bring the handsome copy of your book, Superstition Mountain, for me when he came to Washington. This handsome Collector’s Edition on Apache Junction and some of its interesting residents is a delightful remembrance of your friendship and will also help me relieve many happy days filming the Death Valley series. Many thanks for sharing your work with me. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

With my best wishes,


Ronald Reagan

President Reagan acknowledged Corbin bringing the book to him and he did recall our brief meeting almost twenty years earlier at Apache Land. I would have never dreamed he would become President of the United States on that hot dusty movie set lot that day at Apache Land. I would say, “you never know who you are going to meet and where they will end up.”

As we rode into Apache Land that day we didn’t even know they were shooting Death Valley Days. At the time I was more excited about meeting Barry Sadler, the author and singer of “The Green Berets,” a very popular song out of the Vietnam War.

Ronald Reagan is gone now. He lived a very productive life and had a very devoted wife. History will undoubtedly remember him as the man who ended the Cold War and defeated Communism. I had grown up with the Cold War and the threat of worldwide Communism.

I remembered the McCarthy days and the Committee on Un-American Activities. He remembered the Senator’s attack on Hollywood producers and stars. I find it interesting that Ronald Reagan emerged from this to become President of the United States. When I received this letter it was truly one of the highlights of my life.

* Library note: Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois.