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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : blogsold : verde heritage May 26, 2016

Verde Heritage
By Glenda Farley, Cottonwood, AZ
Local historian Glenda Farley guides us on a journey back in time to discover fascinating moments that make up our Verde heritage and history.
Monday, October 7, 2013

1871: THE PEACE COMMISSION; October 6.

Verde Heritage

LETTER WRITTEN BY COMMISSIONER VINCENT COLYER:

"Camp Whipple, near Prescott, Arizona, October 6, 1871."

"We arrived here on the evening of the 4th, and were received quite cordially by General Crook, who insisted upon my making his quarters my home. Indeed, throughout my journey in Arizona and New Mexico, I have been received with the utmost kindness by the officers of the Army, as I have before reported."

"The general and I differed in opinion as to the best policy to be pursued toward the Apaches, but as these differences were honestly entertained and kindly expressed, it did not lessen the cordiality of our intercourse; and as he desired me to frankly express my opinion if there was anything in his official action which I questioned, and as he had been pleased to do the same with me, much to my satisfaction, I told him I could not help expressing my regrets that he should have felt it to be his duty to censure Major Wm. Nelson for his manly defense of the Indians on the reservation at Camp Grant."

"The following day, with the advice of General Crook and that of Captain Frederick Van Vliet, who commands at Camp Hualapai, who congregate around Beal Springs, a military post, about two hundred miles northwest of Prescott, should be fed at that post, and a temporary reservation be declared one mile around the camp until a more permanent reservation could be selected. The recent discovery of silver mines, and the uncertainty of their precise location, in the country inhabited by the Hualapai Indians, made it impracticable for us to do any more than the above for the present."

"General Crook also thought it not advisable to attempt to move the Apache-Mohaves who range through the country in the neighborhood of Date Creek, this winter, to the reservation at Camp Verde, but that they should be fed at Camp Date Creek until the spring, when they may consent to move. With his advice, we therefore decided to name that post, and for one mile around it, a temporary reservation, and General Crook issued the necessary orders accordingly."

"Mr. Merriam, the editor of the 'Arizona Miner,' and several other gentlemen, called to invite me to address in a public meeting the citizens of Prescott on the Indian question. I read Mr. Merriam his editorials, published before my arrival, wherein he called me a 'cold-blooded scoundrel,' 'red-handed assassin,' etc., and said, 'Colyer will soon be here, ... We ought, in justice to our murdered dead, to dump the old devil into the shaft of some mine, and pile rocks upon him until he is dead. A reascal who comes here to thwart the efforts of military and citizens to conquer a peace from our savage foe, deserves to be stoned to death, like the treacherous, black-hearted dog that he is,' etc., and told him that I had no hankering after that kind of 'mining.'"

"The gentlemen assured me that they would protect me with their rifles and revolvers; but as my official duties were wholly with the Indians, and the officers of the Government having them in charge, and I was unable to see sufficient reasons for addressing a public meeting in which I should have to be protected with rifles and revolvers, I respectfully declined. Mr. Merriam gave me a beautiful specimen of gold quartz, and I thought we had parted pretty good friends, but three days after, he published an editorial containing several gross calumnies, and abusing me worse than ever. --- V. C."

("History of Arizona;" by Thomas Edwin Farish, Arizona Historian; Volume VIII; 1918; Chapter XIV; "The Peace Commission;" pages 279-281.)

Vincent Colyer is considered to be a great landscape artist. As a member of the Board of Indian Commissioners under President Ulysses S. Grant, Vincent Colyer traveled extensively in the American West and Alaska. Vincent Colyer's drawings and paintings from that journey are considered to be some of the best nineteenth century images of the western United States. He made watercolor sketches of forts, settlements and Indian villages creating an important visual and artistic record. More than 200 of these watercolor sketches, most created between 1868 and 1872, are found in collections. When Vincent Colyer returned to the east, he established his studio where, between 1872 and 1875, he created a small group of oil paintings based on his western experiences.




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