Friday, 2 July 2010

Prisoner of the Apaches

In 1929, the Spanish teacher Myrtle Love, from the town of Isleta, New Mexico, west of Texas, who was very interested in old west history, received a phone call from the El Paso sheriff saying that there was a man under arrest with a very interesting story to tell. The man’s name was Race Compton and was arrested when found sleeping in a rail road freight car. He looked like a vagabond. He told Miss Love that he was going to get dynamite and excavation equipment so he could go back to an old cave that had been sealed off by the Indians and presumably inside contained millions of dollars in gold ingots and gold coins.Compton said “in 1859, the stage coaches were hard at work transporting people, mail, promissory notes and some times large sums of gold. Stations for the stage coaches were established along the region of the Trans- Pecos for passengers and conductors to eat. One of these stations was in Eagle Springs, Texas located at the foot of Eagle Mountain, about 15 miles south of Van Horn and 12 miles north east of Indian Hot Springs.Big Foot Wallace was a famous adventurer and Texas Ranger. He was one of the stage coach conductors, along with Joea Peacock who was only 19 but had been involved in several incidents with fugitives and Indians and had killed a few men.During these times, bands of Apaches were very active in their incursions along the Texas territories. Their Chief, Victorio was commanding the major part of these rebel Indians. Even thou it was said that Chief Victorio was white and that he had been kidnapped as a child from Coahuila, Mexico, he had a peculiar hatred towards the white men.During one of the stage coach runs, the Apaches attacked and in some 20 minutes killed two passengers and one of the station attendants. The horses were stolen and Peacock was hurt in the leg by an arrow and taken prisoner by the Indians. The Apaches and their prisoner rode none stop on horse back to the Tres Castillos Mountains in Chihuahua, Mexico. This is about 20 miles south of the Rio Grand River where they felt safe from the Texas Rangers, the Calvary and the Mexican soldiers. The prisoner’s wound was not bad, but it was taken care of by a young Indian woman named Juanita, presumed to be Chief Victorio’s daughter. Victorio tried to kill the prisoner several times but Juanita kept him from it because she had fallen in love with the prisoner.At night the young Indian woman and the white prisoner would get together in secret. She tried to get him to marry her, but he was very cautious for he knew that she was the only reason he was still alive.Finally Peacock said he would marry her only if she would tell him were Chief Victorio had hidden the treasure. He was intrigued by what he saw, the Indians were carrying off gold ingots probably stolen from a train robbery and taking them to Mexico to trade for rifles and ammunition.Juanita told him that the gold was being stored in a cave in the Eagle Mountains, close to were Peacock had been taken prisoner. She told him he could get there by going thru Hot Indian Springs. She also told him that the entrance was well hidden in the rocks and that he had to crawl on all fours to get in because the entrance was very small. Juanita told him that she had gone to the cave many times with her father and that she remembered seeing dozens of gold ingots, many bags with gold coins and chests full of religious artifacts and jewelry stashed away in the back of the cave. Her father had mentioned to her that it would take some 50 mules to transport all that had been stolen and hidden in the cave for years.Afterwards, when Victorio and several of his warriors were taking gold ingots to trade for guns, they were spotted by soldiers on the old Indian path. One Indian woman was hurt and two soldiers died that day.After this, Victorio was afraid that the location and contents of the cave would be investigated and discovered. So they got out what they were going to need and sealed off the small entrance with rocks making it look like part of the same mountain. Even so, Juanita told her lover she could find the entrance to the cave with no problem. That night, Peacock planned his escape thinking that with all that he knew he could find the cave without the help of anyone.Finally, one day, Victorio and his men left on an incursion into Chihuahua, leaving only women, children and the elderly in camp. With Juanita’s help, Peacock got a horse and water. He promised the young Indian he would be back for her as soon as possible. The prisoner left for the mountains and crossed the desert. After several days, he finally arrived at Eagle Springs.It is a long story. Peacock after resting, decided to begin the search with out any luck. Probably because sometimes what one person describes, is not what another person sees. Discouraged, he returned to his old job with the stage coaches while the Indians were being eliminated by the Texas Rangers and the Mexican soldiers. Finally, in the Tres Castillos Mountains, in June of 1880, Victorio, some 60 warriors and 18 women, including Juanita, were killed. All of those who knew of the location of the hidden cave where gone, the enormous treasure was lost.In 1895, Peacock met Peace Compton that was a gold prospector and because of the interest of both of them for gold, the ex Apache prisoner told him of Victorio’s cave. They spent 15 years looking for the treasure. In 1915 Peacock died. Compton kept the ranch they had and continued looking for the cave, although he sometimes had to work to be able to buy dynamite and food.In the end, he told Miss Love that as soon as he got out of jail, he would go back to the mountains to dynamite the cave he had finally found, approximately 5 miles east of Hot Indian Springs and south of the old Indian path. He described the place to be about one day on horse back, south of Sierra Blanca and a half day west of Hot Indian Springs. He added to Love that a torrential rainfall had removed some of the rocks that covered the entrance to the cave and that he only had to dynamite the rocks that were left.Compton was never heard of after leaving jail. An old resident of Sierra Blanca that had met him, said that he had died of a heart attack on his way back to the mountains and that he had been buried in Sierra Blanca.The history of the lost treasure of Victorio is still alive. Everything suggests that the gold ingots, the bags of gold coins and the chests of jewelry are still in the mountains. What you need is a sense of adventure, good research, patience, and last but not least, good detection equipment

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