Monday, February 23, 2009

Two Soldiers' Lost Mine

September 23, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The tale of the Two Soldiers Lost Mine has been around since the turn of the century and continues to appear in stories about the Lost Dutchman Mine and the Silver King Mine. Sims Ely mentioned the story in depth in his book The Lost Dutchman Mine by William Morrow & Company, New York, N.Y., 1953.

According to Ely and others, the story goes something like this. Two soldiers were mustered out of the Army at Fort McDowell in 1879. The young men decided to hike across the Salt River and through the mountains to the Silver King Mine were they hoped to gain employment. The reason they choose to hike across this country was to save money.

Somewhere south of the Salt River in a rugged canyon that was in view of a tall pointed peak, they found an old Mexican mine and dump. They believed it to be a Mexican mine because of the small tunnels that were only large enough for a man to crawl into on his hands and knees.

The young soldiers, fearing Apaches in the area, spent only enough time to fill their packs with what they thought was high grade gold ore. They then departed the area and hiked up the drainage of Tortilla Creek then down into Randolph Canyon and eventually into what is known as Fraser Canyon today.

They eventually made their way to the southeast, finally arriving at the Silver King Mine. The first person they talked to at the Silver King was Aaron Mason. Mason at the time operated the Silver King Commercial Mercantile Store. They told Mason their story and showed him the samples of gold ore they had. Mason immediately suggested he would grubstake them if they would go back and locate the mine and claim. The two soldiers decided to rest and wait for a while before making any deal with Mason. After a couple of weeks they decided to take Mason up on his deal. They planned on returning to the site of gold ore and staking a claim with all three of their names on it. Mason grubstaked the soldiers and they left town. Mason never heard from them again.

There are many stories as to what happen to the soldiers. Some claim they never found a gold mine and used Mason grubstake to make it to California to prospect for gold along the American and Yuba Rivers. Others believe the soldiers were murdered before they found their way back to the rich old Mexican mine and dump.

Another story that associates itself with the Two Lost Soldier’s Mine occurred just east of the old Bark Ranch (Quarter Circle U Ranch) in Pinal County. Matt Caveness built the old stone house (barn) at the Bark Ranch in 1877. The old stone house had rifle ports because Apaches still raided in those days. Caveness sold the ranch to a man name Marlowe in 1878 or 1879. Marlowe tried to make a living raising a few dairy cows and hauling the milk to the Silver King mine to sell it.

The Marlowe boy was bringing in some milk cows about a half-mile east of the Bark Ranch in 1880 when he found a body along the trail. The man had been shot in the head. The boy said the man was dressed like a soldier. The body was buried where it was found. According to Gus Barkley the grave was dug up in 1907 or 1908. The incident really upset Barkley and he ask Roy Bradford, who was working for him at the time, to rebury the soldier. This was one of the earliest references to the man being a soldier.

Some time in spring of 1954 my father and I were visiting with Gus Barkley at the old Quarter Circle W (Three R’s) just east of Dinosaur Mountain in what is now Gold Canyon. Gus insisted the victim that lay in that grave was a soldier because of military blouse he was wearing and the buttons on it. He further said the Marlowe boy had told him the military buttons were clear indicators of a mustered out military person. Anyone else could be accused of being absent from duty.

Bill Finch, Arizona State Brand Inspector, told several stories about the grave along this trail across Bark’s Basin eastward toward Coffee Flat and Reid’s Water. This was the main trail through the mountains to the Silver King Mine. The entire trail was not suitable for a wagon once you entered Fraser Canyon just beyond Reid’s Water. A team could turn down Whitlow Canyon and make its way out through an area called the Milk Ranch and eventually to the Silver King Road. However, it was a much shorter route up Fraser Canyon and into Hewitt Canyon and eventually over the ridges to the Silver King mine on horseback. Prospectors, miners and horsemen often used this route in the 1880’s.

The story of this grave became a mystery in itself over the years. Eventually the grave returned to nature and was very difficult to recognize. William T. Barkley showed me the grave site in 1959 while we were working cattle in the east pasture of the ranch. I doubt very much I could find site today, but I probably could come within two hundred feet of it.

To this day the missing soldiers are still a story that attracts interest when it comes to tales about the Superstition Mountains and the Lost Dutchman Mine.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Legacy of Superstition Mountain

February 16, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The legacy of Superstition Mountain would be the stories about those individuals involved with the mountain’s early history. This is what Jim Swanson and I have tried to capture in our books. We have been co-authoring books on the history of the Superstition Wilderness and Apache Junction area for the past twenty-eight years.

We love working on material about people, places and events associated with the history of the Superstition Wilderness Area and Apache Junction. Our first book was Superstition Mountain: A Ride Through Time published in 1981. Our second effort was a book titled Circlestone: A Superstition Mountain Mystery published in 1986.

Our third book, The History of Apache Junction was published in 1990. Jim and I talked and worked on another sequel to Superstition Mountain: A Ride Through Time for several years. We finally published our fourth book; that sequel, Superstition Mountain: In the Footsteps of the Dutchman in 2008.

We can’t say it took twentyeight years to do the research and writing because it didn’t, however we were both very busy during these years. Our second part of Superstition Mountain was a continuation of the human history of Superstition Mountain and the Apache Junction area.

We found interesting research and writing when it came to the various individuals we wrote about. These individuals included men like Amos Hawkins, Peter Carney, Ray Howland, Bud Lane, Billy Clark Crader, Robert A. Aiton, George Miller, Abe Reid, Superstition Joe, “Crazy Jake”, Elisha M. Reavis, Charles Kenworthy and many more. Did you know Bud Lane, our local cowboy survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941? Did you know Charles Kenworthy was a close personal friend of John Wayne? Wayne was a treasure hunter like Kenworthy and his partner.

Did you know Elisha Marcus Reavis was a school teacher in El Monti, California and also a Deputy United States Marshal in Arizona Territory 1869-1872?

Did you know “Crazy” Jake (Robert Simpson Jacob) raised close to nine million dollars in his scam about treasure in the Superstition Mountains? Some sources estimate Jacob’s raised closer to thirty million, but we couldn’t find any documentation to support these statements.

The book contains a brief but thorough history of Jacob Waltz’s life from Germany to Arizona. There is a chapter about the military action in the Superstition Mountains during the Indian Wars. This chapter includes quotes from military field notes written by the officers who served in these campaigns.

The original story of Alfred Senner, and his first and only love composes one of the chapters in this book. Senner allegedly high-graded rich ore from the Mammoth Mine and hid it high on the top of Superstition Mountain for his girl friend. We write about Charley Williams and his cave of gold found in the Superstition Mountains in the middle 1930’s. You can read about the phenomenal rescue of James Stevens from being buried alive in the Mammoth Mine for thirteen days in the summer of 1897. No man has ever survived this long trapped underground in a mine. Jim Swanson made actual contact with descendents of James Stevens.

Jim and I have worked together researching and writing books for many years. He took the material and stories I have written down and meticulously put them into their correct prose so we can all understand them better. Jim did a great job making this book very readable and grammatically correct.

Superstition Mountain: In the Footsteps of the Dutchman is available at the Goldfield Museum, Goldfield’s Mother Lode Mercantile Store, & Pro Mac South, ProMack, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, The Book Bank, Globe, AZ, Gila County Historical Society, Globe, AZ, Spring Creek Store, Highway 188, Tonto National Monument, Tortilla Flat, Superstition Mountain and Lost Dutchman Museum, Mining Camp Restaurant, Wide World of Maps, Mesa, AZ, Crazy Horse Saddle & Tack and several other local outlets in the area.

For more information please email or Superstition Mountain Press, P.O. Box 1535, Apache Junction, AZ. 85119

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Building of a Dream

February 9, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Robert F. ‘Bob’ Schoose was born in River Grove, Illinois on August 23, 1947. Bob and his family moved to California when he was four years old. Bob grew up in and around Southern California and has been fascinated with prospecting and mining since childhood. After reading books like Treasure Island, Coronado’s Children, and Yaqui Gold he pursued his dreams. Much of his young adult life was spent around the Mohave Desert looking through old ghost towns, looking for lost treasure and mining gold, silver and tungsten.

Bob made his first trip to the Superstition Mountains in 1966 with his friend Art Dunbar. He fell in love with the mountains and the surrounding desert and planned to return someday. Bob did just that in 1970 when he moved to Mesa, Arizona. Using his own horses he packed supplies into Squaw Box Canyon for the notorious “Crazy” Jake between 1973 and 1974. This was an era when prospectors carried pistols and rifles protecting themselves from others. It was a period of uncertainty in the mountains. One man died of gunshot wounds while Bob packed for Robert Simpson Jacob (Crazy Jake). This and other things convinced Bob there were better things in life. One of those wonderful things was when he married Lou Ann in 1975. Together they have raised two fine sons and a wonderful daughter. They both had a dream to build a ghost town.

Early in the 1970s Bob had dreamed of someday owning his own Ghost Town in the desert. Schoose met “Doc” Rosencrans at his cabin on the Apache Trail one day. Doc mentioned Goldfield; then suggested Bob build a ghost town.

Bob took Rosecran’s comment seriously. He remembered stories about an old ghost town that use to stand near Superstition Mountain. When he finally found his way out to the site one day all that remained was a few concrete foundations, a rickety water tower, a rambling old shack used for a living quarters, and a small metal building. Bob found out Hub McErachan owned an old five-acre mill site that most of the territorial camp of Goldfield was located on in the mid-1890s.

Early in 1984 Bob and Lou Ann purchased the Goldfield mill site from Hub McErachan and started to build their dream, a living ghost town.

Hub McErachan owned and operated the Feed Bag Restaurant and the Long Horn Saloon in Apache Junction. Hub and Bob got together one day at the Feed Bag Restaurant and made the deal. When Bob told people what he had planned for the site, some said he was just a dreamer and his dream would never happen. If you know Bob Schoose, you soon found out he is a very determined man. Once he makes up his mind to do something he usually doesn’t change it.

His first construction project on his newly acquired acreage was the building of a mine tunnel from scratch. He started the project in 1985. He did not go underground with his tunnel because of insurance restraints. His entire tunnel and mine were actually created above the ground, but made to appear below ground; an illusion if you like. His reconstructed mine cage, tunnel, and stope appeared as real as reality itself.

While constructing the miner’s cage, tunnel and stope he also worked on his first snack bar. The mine tunnel and knack bar opened for business in December of 1988. Then construction soon began on the photo shop, Blue Nugget, General Store, Mammoth Saloon and the Goldfield Museum. The Blue Nugget and the Mammoth Saloon and Steak House opened in 1990, the general store in 1991.

The first major event held at the Mammoth Saloon and Steak House was a D.A.R.E. Charity Night. Officer Steve Greb and members of the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce worked with Bob Schoose to make this event a big success.

Bob Schoose has always been community minded even in the beginning. One of Apache Junction’s most honored citizen’s lived on his property until his death. Bob provided a place for his trailer and helped Grady Haskins on many, many occasions. Grady was Apache Junction’s first constable and a combat veteran of World War II. Most old old timers will remember Grady for his kilts and the bagpipes he generously played for community events and funerals of fallen comrades.

Bob and Lou Ann continued to help their adopted community. Such charity organizations as the Goldfield Ghost Riders are based out of Goldfield. Their Ben Johnson Poker Ride for charity is a legend. The Schooses have long been a proud sponsor and supporter of this organization.

There is another story about Bob and Lou Ann that needs to be told. I suppose I am the best one to tell.

Early in 1980 the Superstition Mountain Historical Society was incorporated. Between 1980-1984 the society worked at trying to organize a strong and effective board of directors. I was a member of the museum. I contacted Bob Schoose and ask him about a site for our museum at Goldfield. When he first explained the deal we were convinced we could not accept his offer. Under Bob’s terms we had to build our own building. The historical society had no funds at the time and could not undertake such a task.

Early in 1989 Schoose started construction of the Goldfield Museum building as planned. Larry Hedrick and I went back and talked to Schoose about the museum. Finally a deal was hammered out between Schoose and the Museum board. Schoose decided to go ahead and build the building from Kollenborn, A-4 for the historical society. The museum would be required to complete the interior and maintain the building. Our rent would be a percentage of the admission tickets we sold. It was a wonderful deal for our fledging new museum. It amounted to almost a donation of the building to the museum’s board of directors. We finally had a building thanks to Bob and Lou Ann Schoose. This again revealed the generosity and community spirit the Schoose’s had. It also revealed their love for the history and legend of Superstition Mountain, Goldfield, the Lost Dutchman Mine, and Arizona. Their interest in preserving historical mining equipment and the way life was one- hundred and thirty years ago in old mining towns.

Bob Schoose accomplished the publishing of a pictorial history book on the history of Goldfield in 2008. This excellent book is available at the Goldfield Museum in Goldfield.

Goldfield Ghost Town has certainly led the way in preserving the history of mining and ghost towns in Southwest, Arizona and the Superstition Mountains. The efforts and cost the Schooses’ have made to haul mining equipment and machinery from all over the Arizona and the Southwest to Goldfield to help preserve the history of mining for future generations of Americans to enjoy is certainly meritorious. Bob says, “The building of Goldfield Ghost Town has been a family project since the beginning.”

Bob Schoose was recently named the Heritage Award recipient for 2009 on January 22nd at the Lost Dutchman Days Kick-Off Dinner. Schoose’s contributions and involvement in community affairs certainly merited this award. Gary Mulholland, chairman of the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo Committee made the presentation.