I got detoured last week in doing another piece for New Mexico News Service (some of my past columns are here if you’re interested). Now that’s done I want to try to take the next couple days to respond to some of the questions & comments I got subsequent to my presentation at the Historical Society NM Conference.
Q: I AM INTERESTED IN FINDING INFORMATION ABOUT THE FIGHTING AROUND COOKE’s PEAK DURING THE 1800s. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
A: Depending on how broadly you define “around Cooke’s Peak” that covers a lot of bloody ground over nearly a century. I can only recall one description of a fight in Cooke’s Canyon, and that one I find doubtful. In speaking to Eve Ball years later, James Kaywaykla recounted an encounter with buffalo soldiers and another with miners when he was passing through the canyon with his mother in the winter or early spring of 1881. But I can’t fit his story around the geography of the canyon today, and I’ve seen no other reports of the incident. He was a very little boy at the time, and I suspect he may have conflated Cooke’s Canyon with another in the Candelaria Mountains in northern Mexico.
I include an account of the attacks on a wagon and a stagecoach in the Goodsight Mountains in Tracking Nana, and the final chapter (not posted yet) covers the attack on woodcutters at Mule Spring, which is in the general area of Cooke’s Peak.
Most general accounts of the Apache Wars include at least some mention of Cooke’s Peak, Fort Cummings, and the risks travelers encountered on the Butterfield Trail. I believe it’s certainly true that soldiers from the fort gathered up a number of graves along in the trail in the canyon and relocated the remains to the fort cemetery.
Histories of the Butterfield Trail, the buffalo soldiers, frontier forts, or back issues of True West or Wild West magazines may have more specifics on attacks near Cooke’s Peak but I can’t say I’ve found any. Most of my research has been focused specifically on Nana’s Raid, however, so I certainly missed some.
The Geronimo Springs Museum in TorC has a cache of old newspapers only very partially sorted and indexed, and that might be helpful.