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Thread: The Adams Diggings "Famous Saddle Tree"

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  1. #1
    Charter Member
    um
    Dec 2008
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    The Adams Diggings "Famous Saddle Tree"

    I found this in a turn of the century (19th to 20th) book about prospecting and mining. The author suggests a troop of “Buffalo” (Negro) solders (I’m assuming they were cavalry – they well may have been infantry) found and then lost the Lost Adams Diggings.
    Unfortunately, the author uses the “n-word” to name the lost placer. After the turn of the 20th to the 21st century I think we can do better than that.

    What I found particularly interesting is the mention of the “saddle tree.” This is new to me – can anyone else shed some light on Mr. Frazier’s reference?

    “…a fabulously rich hill of gold was found by a company of negro soldiers while pursuing a marauding band of Chief Nana's Apaches in the Black range country. This country was one vast wilderness of quaking asp, rising and falling with the roll of the land like the dark green billows of a stormtossed ocean. The Black range was more than wild —it was full of small bands of murderous Apaches, to whom it was but amusement to fight the ‘buffalo’ soldiers. During the fake skirmishes back and forth on one occasion, the pursuing soldiers lost their bearings in an impenetrable growth of cottonwood in a broken, rolling country, and were forced to camp. The landscape consisted of a series of long rides, flat peaks, and a broad scope of high levels. The greatest similarity of topography—and forest and foliage existed everywhere.



    “It was somewhere on the west side of the Black range, among the numerous tributaries of the Animas, Arroyo Seco and Palomas, which all head in McKnight canon. A squad of soldiers while scouting to the east, down the Animas, found the hill of gold which has since caused such a furor.”

    This is the line that presents something new (at least to me). Describing a later hunt for the Buffalo Soldiers’ Gold, Frazier mentions that a man named Hurste couldn’t find a tree he had previously marked with recovered gold.

    “Like the famous saddle tree of the Adams diggings it would not materialize.”

    Has anyone read about the “famous saddle tree of the Adams diggings?”

    From Secrets of the rocks… by S.M. [Samuel Mulligan] Frazier

    Second Edition, Revised (Denver, Colorado: Hall & Williams, Publishers) 1907

  2. #2

    Mar 2013
    729
    1812 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    OB,

    I believe that the "Saddle Tree" refers to a unique tree that was used as a marker to alleged sites regarding various mines and locations. I have seen it mentioned in some texts referring to the LAD but not in others. Apparently it is/was a large tree - not sure of the type - that was very distinctive as it grew out of the ground a short way vertically and then grew horizontally before shooting up again, hence you could put a "saddle on the tree". It was described as "horseshaped" by some and some accounts say that Adams' party used it to dry their clothes on before making for the final ascent with his group's guide Gotch Ear. In recent searches it has been said that the area described suffered from many a forest fire over the years, so it has been well nigh impossible to try and trace it again.

  3. #3
    Charter Member
    um
    Dec 2008
    3,599
    1939 times
    IPiUK:

    Thank you for your post.

    I've been at this a long time, and it has been a while since I read some of the early LAD accounts. I do not recall reading a reference to a Saddle Tree.

    If you would be so kind - which texts refer to this?

    Thank you!

  4. #4

    Mar 2013
    729
    1812 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by Old Bookaroo View Post
    IPiUK:

    Thank you for your post.

    I've been at this a long time, and it has been a while since I read some of the early LAD accounts. I do not recall reading a reference to a Saddle Tree.

    If you would be so kind - which texts refer to this?

    Thank you!
    OB

    Please note that when I orginally starting researching the southwest, it was in connection with the Apaches. I came across the "Saddle Tree" detail and only noted it mentally because of its peculiarity. I am sorry to say that I did not note the text or relevant details. I am fairly sure that I have seen it mentioned online from some southwestern sites detailing various "Myths & Legends", but again did not note the site info. I can only apologise for this and will endeavour to check my notes to see if I recognise from where I stumbled across this information.

    It may be of small consolation but I will mention it anyway. The Saddle Tree info was something that I read about in 3-4 accounts, but only one was the accepted story of the Adams' legend; that is the group getting together in Arizona, the guide, travelling into New Mexico, the massacre, a German leaving with the supply party etc., the others started with Adams and his party coming from California to hunt/trap in Arizona and then coming across a guide who offered to show them a rich placer. It was also mentioned that the party got gold fever when they heard tales in Arizona and then decided as a group to abandon their orginal goal of hunting/trapping and became all-out prospectors. I am also certain one account suggested that they waylaid a group of miners returning east from the Californian goldfields as the nuggets that Adams had in his possession later were identified as not being of New Mexico or Arizona origin. So much garbled information that the mind boggles in all honesty. The Saddle Tree was also mentioned by a later searcher - very late 19th or very early 20th century I believe, and apparently was well known in the area it was located as it was very close to a good camping spot which was used in years gone by, but after the Indian Wars and the dwindling number of adventurers, explorers, miners and prospectors, it was almost forgotten and the lost after forest fires ravaged the possible site year after year. It was said that Adams may have been able to 'remember' the direction to the lost diggings if he had again come across this particular tree as it was used by the orginal party to dry their clothes and was noted for its shape.

    Going back to my original interest - The Apaches - I am fairly certain that if any ambush took place, it was not Nana and his Chihenne Apaches. This particular old warrior was a great indomitable spirit but at the alleged time - 1860s, even late 1850s, was doing most of his damage down in old Mexico and was under the umberella of Victorio and Loco. I believe that when Nana carried out his legendary raid after the death of Victorio in 1880, his name became prominent in the Press of the time and was simply used to "colour" the story of the LAD. My opinion only. But when his group badly needed supplies and had furtive contact with Mexican ranchers/traders, he actually went down into old Mexico to 'find' some silver bars that his warriors had hidden in a raid in previous years. He had ample opportunity when he was raiding New Mexico to take a sidetrip to any such diggings but took the risk to go back into old Mexico even after the tragedy that had befell Victorio's band. Things simply do not stack-up to any alleged warriors who "massacred" the Adams party being in the control of Nana. The old warrior did not pass away until about 1896 and many tried to trap him and other leading men - Geronimo, Naiche, Loco, Chihuahua etc., into revealing such sites when they were in captivity. Rightly or wrongly they said the "best" mines were located in the Sierra Madres but on the American side were in the Guadalupe mountains.

    Hope the above helps in some small way.

    Greetings to all from the UK

  5. #5

    Dec 2005
    Arizona
    7,478
    4423 times
    OB and IPiUK,

    There is a story of a silver bar being placed in the fork (saddle?) of a tree to mark the location of buried silver nearby in Old Mexico. I believe Perico and other Apache went down there looking for it after they chose to live on a reservation in NM. Believe Eve Ball wrote about the story.

    Joe Ribaudo

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