I talked last time about the Dragoons Culture people, who disappeared from here around 1450 AD and archeologists aren’t really sure why. One theory is a 40 year drought – and, having experienced a 12 year one, which we fervently hope is ending, I can certainly appreciate that. The other theory is that they were driven out of here by the Apaches, who were gradually moving down here from the north.
The Apaches were Athabascan people from Asia, who came to this continent across the land bridge in the Bering Sea during one of the many ice ages the world has seen. They gradually drifted southwards, and arrived in this area a little before the Spanish, who were gradually occupying the land after their conquest of Mexico . When the Spaniards reached this part of the country, they established huge cattle ranches, some of them being royal grants.
A ranch later owned by Texas John Slaughter, famous sheriff of Cochise County , was originally a Spanish Land grant owned by one Ignacio Perez. He tried valiantly to fight the Apaches, but he lost to them in 1830, when he just walked away and abandoned his holdings. The ranch became Apache country for over fifty years, until John Slaughter moved there in 1884, and made his own a territory so vast that he could sit on his verandah, and as far as he could see in every direction, he was looking at his ranch. At some time there was a Dragoons outpost on a hill near his house, and the ruins of the stone fortifications are still there. This outpost was later moved to Camp Rucker in the Chiricahua Mountains , where its remnants can also still be seen. The Slaughter Ranch (originally called the San Bernardino Ranch) is open to visitors. The historical society who owns it now restored the ranch house, outbuildings and grounds to exactly the way they were in Slaughter’s day – a true step into the past. It’s about an hour and a half’s drive from the ranch and well worth the visit!
The Apache depredations were so bad that in 1787 the King of Spain issued a proclamation instructing the colonists to include the Apaches in the presidio system. The presidia were townships garrisoned with troops, and the Apaches were encouraged to settle on the outskirts, were given food and blankets, and for about 30 years relative peace reigned.
And then things changed, as they always change in the affairs of the world – but that’s for another time!