"Jerome, Arizona. The Early History"
Most of what we know about the ancient
people that inhabited Arizona relies on inference and circumstantial evidence.
Almost everything about them is shrouded in mystery.
There were actually
several different, though related, groups of ancient Indians that left pueblo
and cliff dwelling ruins in the Four Corners area on into southern Arizona and
New Mexico. The most well known of these are the Anasazi (Navajo for
"ancient ones"), who lived in the Four Corners area for about 2000
The first known
people in the Southwest were basketmakers and had no metal, pottery, cotton or
wool; and no draught or pack animals. Sandals from yucca fiber were an
essential garment. They left very little trace, and the facts of their lives in
prehistoric times are obscure.
They utilized wood,
bone, stone, plant fibers, and hair. Basket maker men usually wore their hair
long, while mummies of the women have hair hacked off with a stone
knife to a length of two or three inches, and of varying lengths, suggesting
that they cut their hair as the need for weaving material arose.
The ancient people
produced all that they needed to survive and provided a base from which arose
the high culture that culminated in the great communal dwellings of later
of the Verde Valley were the Hohokam and later the Sinaqua at
Tuzigoot. The Mogollon and Salado
occupied nearby regions of Arizona during much of the same time.
The Sinagua were
pithouse dwellers and dry farmers, dependent on rain for their crops. The
pithouse was constructed with a shallow rectangular, but round-cornered pit
which was covered with a superstructure of poles, brush and clay.
In 1066 Sunset
Crater erupted, covering 800 square miles with black ash, and forcing the
inhabitants to flee the lower slopes of the San Francisco Mountains. The
Sinagua returned to the Verde River along with Hohokam and Pueblo people, each
bringing their own special traits.
The move altered
Sinagua culture in two important ways: they adopted the irrigation system of
the Hohokam, and they began to build above ground masonry dwellings, an idea
they may have borrowed from the Anasazi to the north.
At first, masonry
was used to replace timbers in pit houses, but in a very short time the Sinagua
people began building surface masonry dwellings and multi-roomed pueblos became
the rule. It is believed that originally each home had its own shrine but
eventually the kiva was a separate structure used for religious ceremonial
purposes among the Pueblo Indians.
The ruins and
remains of the early people tell a story of a peaceful race who had plenty of
land and resources, and no need to fight over it. Evidence suggests a
democratic society, with all of the dwellings in the pueblo of equal size and
The Verde Valley is
a crossroad between the Northern Colorado plateau and southwest deserts. The
varied architecture along the Verde River and its tributaries attests to the
styles of the time merging in the central basin. The structure at Tuzigoot uses
the topography and local materials in a way that would impress a Frank Lloyd
Wright enthusiast. The Pueblo crowns a mesa overlooking the Verde River and
harmonizes with the landscape. An advantageous view of the surroundings and the
roof hatchways suggest that the Sinaguans kept a watchful eye out for
constructed of rough blocks of limestone and sandstone plastered with the clay
and sand. Rafters of pinon, juniper, cottonwood and sycamore, occas and pine
rested on roof beams. The roof had a smoke hole and entry hatch with a ladder
leading to the floor inside where there was a storage pit and large pots buried
in the floor. The storage pits were also used for burying the dead. One half of
the burials at Tuzigoot are infants and children.
In the early 1400s,
the Sinagua abandoned the entire valley. No one can say why: perhaps too much
pressure on the land, drought, or conflict with Yavapai, who were living here
when the Spanish entered the valley in 1582. Whatever the reason or reasons,
the survivors were probably absorbed into pueblos to the north. Some may have
moved to the Little Colorado and may be among the ancestors of present Hopi
Indians. Cotton weaving found at Tuzigoot has been compared to the Hopi and the
similarities suggest a connection between the the two cultures.
The first written
record of the inhabitants of the Jerome area comes from the Spanish explorers
that came up from Mexico in search of silver and gold. The name Yavapai
[Yavapai said to be from enyaleva sun and pai, people;
People of the sun.] refers to bands and groups of Yuman-speaking
people who formerly hunted and gathered over a large portion of central
Arizona. Though the Yavapai were not directly connected with the Apache, at
various times they have been erroneously referred to as Apaches.
The early Spanish
explorers distinguished three Yavapai groups. They called the northeast group
cruzados, referring to a cross made of reeds they wore tied to a
lock of hair on their foreheads. Those in the southeast they called
nijoras,and in the west tejunas.
Because of the
practice of doing everything possible to forget the dead, involving cremation
of the body, burning the house and possessions in it, and not mentioning the
dead, it is difficult to obtain information about the Yavapai prior to the time
of the grandparents of the surviving people.
The Yavapai were
nomadic, moving from one area to another in small bands and family groups. They
followed the various wild foods and the locale of the game they hunted. They
made brush shelters called rancherias, small temporary circular
shelters, usually made at each stopping place out of branches, brush and mud.
At times some
groups took shelter in natural caves. Crops were occasionally planted in moist
bottomland to supplement their wild diet, but they did not store food in
any large quantity. After planting, the Yavapai continued their migration and
returned in fall to harvest their crops.
were ground pinon nuts, crops of maize, mescal (agave), prickly pears and
juniper berries. The women gathered the wild plants. For meat the men hunted
deer, mountain sheep and small animals, including rabbits and rats. They moved
generally on foot with few belongings and ranged from 20 to 30 miles per day
depending on the circumstances. They wove baskets for their utilitarian needs
and probably cooked in pottery vessels. The character of the land encouraged
this manner of living and made large areas of land necessary to sustain small
numbers of people.
In 1582 Diego Perez
de Luxan, a Spanish explorer, recorded the first evidence of a Yavapai
settlement. This region, wrote Luxan, is inhabited by
mountainous people, because it is a temperate land. During this night some of
them came to our horses and fled when they heard them as they found the sound
unfamiliar. The next day the explorers came to a rancheria
where the people who had fled had built a hut of branches.
bread made of mescal and pinon nuts. The Indians gave the explorers metals as a
sign of peace and led them to the mines. The explorers considered the mine
poor, as it was of copper and not silver, so returned to their camp.
In 1583, Antonio de
Espejo gives a differing account of metals found in the same location. He
wrote, I extracted the ore, said by those who know to be very rich and to
contain much silver. The region where these mines are is for the most part
mountainous, as is also the road leading to them, describing present day
Farfan, who was
travelling with Juan de Onate, described the mines as an old shaft eighteen
feet deep with brown, yellow, blue and green ores, from which the Indians
obtained the metals for daubing themselves and painting their blankets . . .
The vein was very wide and rich and extended over many ridges, all containing
ores. It extended along the hill that had been discovered, across from another
hill opposite to it.
The first mention
of the Sierra Azul is in a memorial which stated that Penalesca (governor from
1661-1664) planned an expedition to Sierra del Azul, which appears to be in the
Verde Valley. The site of the sierra coincides with the locale of the visits of
the earlier Spanish to the mines in the Verde Valley, in the vicinity of
present day Jerome.
In 1686 Posadas
wrote that the Sierra Azul is 100 leagues southwest of Santa Fe and 50 north of
Sonora. In 1691 Vargas checked reports on Sierra Azul while at El Paso and said
that the Indians had not worked it very much, having merely dug out a cave-like
pit. This would describe the pit, some 16 feet deep that Farfan reported at the
mines in 1598.
Mange, in 1699,
stated that the Indians told him the Verde River was so named because it passed
by a mountain containing veins of green, blue and other colored minerals. In
May 1744 Fray Carlos Delgado stated that, This sierra is called
Azul because the land, rocks and the whole thing in fact is blue
with green, red, yellow and purple veins. It runs from south to north, where it
terminates in a flat, barren summit, on top of which is a stone two varas long
and a vara and a half wide that is transparent and has the same luster as
Explorers came to
the Verde Valley from time to time, lured by the Sierra Azul, but their
attention was to the east in Spanish settlements like El Paso and Santa Fe.
Aside from the brief visits of Espejo, Farfan and Onate, between 1583 and 1605
the Yavapai had extremely rare contact with the Spanish or Anglo-Americans
prior to 1860.
After 1821 when the
United States - Mexican boundary was settled, Americans penetrated the
Southwest. When the Mexican-American war ended in 1848, Yavapai territory
passed to the United States.
Before the Yavapai
came under the influence of the United States troops and Indian Agents, the
aboriginal Yavapai chiefs, or headmen, were leaders of Yavapai family units and
bands. No political organization existed above the bands. This loose political
organization changed under the pressures of the arriving miners, settlers and
troops. Bands then formed which sought shelter and protection from encroaching
began to mine the area around Jerome and Prescott in the 1850s. Ranchers
and homesteaders settled the land and cut off the food supply for the
Prior to 1860
contact between the US Government and the Yavapai were very limited. When the
miners and settlers entered this area shortly after 1860, hostilities broke out
between the Yavapai and the miners, settlers and the US military forces. The
hostilities continued until the Yavapai were completely defeated by General
Crook in the fall and winter of 1872-1873.
Most of the three
groups of Yavapai were placed on the Camp Verde Reservation where they remained
until 1875. The government treated the three groups as a single unit in
military campaigns against them and when placing them as a group on the Camp
Verde Reservation. Removed from the hunting and gathering that had occupied
most of their time, the Yavapai had little to do. There they greatly reduced in
numbers and lost courage and self-reliance and fell into a state of dependence.
The population, about two thousand in 1860, dwindled.
In 1875 the
Yavapai were moved from the Camp Verde Reservation to the San Carlos
Reservation. In 1900 most of the tribe drifted from the San Carlos Reservation
and settled in part of their old home on the Rio Verde. By 1903 those were said
to number between 500 and 600. In 1905 the ravages of tuberculosis were
reported to be largely responsible for a great mortality, with deaths exceeding
births four to one.
More about the Yavapai