Apr 15, 2021 - Sale 2564

Sale 2564 - Lot 331

Price Realized: $ 562
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 400 - $ 600
(WEST--NEW MEXICO.) A miner describes frontier life in the shadow of the Apaches. Autograph Letter Signed as "Samuel" to siblings John and Sarah. 10 pages on 3 sheets, 8 x 5 inches; folds, minimal wear. With possibly unrelated postal cover bearing a Coldwater, MI postmark. "Camp near Chloride City," NM, 30 October 1881

Additional Details

This letter was written from the silver boom town of Chloride, NM, founded early in 1881 by a British miner who found silver ore in the canyon, but was soon killed by Apaches. The settlement nonetheless quickly grew to more than a thousand people. This letter includes lyrical descriptions of the area's natural beauty, a few cagey references to his mining prospects, and most notably a description of the local Apache fights:

"I can see the top of the San Mateos. These are said to be the most inaccessible mountains in the territory. They are the great stronghold of the Apache Indians. Men who have been in this range say that one hundred men could not be taken in or driven out from this gigantic natural fortress by all the U.S. troops. These are the mts from which the Indians last made their incursion on the settlements. A large body of men from hereabouts drove them back and attempted to follow them into their own country, but were surprised in one of the canyons and those who were not killed only escaped under cover of night."

The author also makes interesting observations about miner society: "There is a kind of open brotherhood between prospectors. If I make a big strike, my neighbor is not envious, but comes over and sees it and takes almost as much interest as if it were his own. If I were in the mountains and came onto somebody's cabin and was hungry, I should not hesitate to go in and take or cook any thing that I could find."

Chloride went into rapid decline after 1893 and is now a virtual ghost town on the eastern edge of the Gila National Wilderness.