Agnes Mender Snyder Interview
Our family left Sherman, Texas Sept. 22,
1879 for Arizona, where
one of my uncles was supposed to be living. We came by Deming where we
were warned that the Indians were out and we had better not go by
Peak, one of the Indians favorite Places of attack. My father never
had any dealing with any Indians, was not afraid of the Indians and
on by the Peak:
luck was apparently with us for a big snow storm
came up, and we
never saw an Indian.
When we got to Silver City the weather was so
that father got a place for us to stay. While in Silver City we heard
my uncle was in the Frisco Valley, area up in the hills mining.
Father took us to the Frisco Valley and settled.
We made the third family in the valley.
Up in the hills Mexican sheep men became angry
settlers were coming into the valley, they told the Apaches that the
settlers would be easily taken as they were new to this country, and as
the Apaches were always ready to attack an easy victim they were ready
to raid the new settlers at once.
In the later part of April 1880 the
Indians under their chief, Victorio,
at the Cooney mine up in the hills. The attack was made just as the men
were quitting work for the day. Three of the men from the mine were
another, Mr. Taylor was shot in the leg the shot breaking his leg. Mr.
Taylor hid out in a near by cave. The rest of the men scattered into
hills. Mother and we children slept in the wagon; as the only house
we had was a lean to. When I went out to the wagon to go to bed I heard
a strange noise up in the hills. I ran into the house and said, "There
is something up in the hills". The entire family came out to listen,
they didn't hear anything they tried to make me believe that it was the
frogs down in the swamp. I had been raised in town, and any unusual
attracted my attention, and I knew the noise I heard was up in the
and wasn't a noise usually heard at night. After the family had gone to
bed I could not sleep, because I kept thinking about the noise in the
hills. I got up and sat on a big trunk in the front of
I heard some loud talking, and soon decided that it was over at the
thought that probably that some of the family was sick
help. I was just ready to wake up mother when I heard a horse coming.
that it was some of the Roberts family I waited to see what the party
wanted. The horse came up on the far side of the leanto. I called "We
on this side
of the house." A man rode around the house and asked
"Where is your
father?" I replied: "In the house asleep".
"Go wake him, and tell him that the Apaches are out,
that he had
better get all of his stock in the corral at once and get ready for an
attack. I haven't the time to awaken him as I must go warn others."
I thanked the man, and ran to
the house to awaken father. The family
soon was busy, father put the stock in the corral and went after my
and uncle that slept in the store across the creek. When the men came
my uncle and oldest brother stayed at the corral to guard the stock.
and I started to molding bullets for our old 44 Winchester.
Mr. Cooney and
another man called Chick came down from the hills,
and told us that they had been hiding in the hills after the attack at
the mine. When night came they began to howl so the dogs would bark and
they could get their bearing, thereby explaining the noise that I had
Mr. Cooney had been
on Indian scout for five years, and said that
we need not that the Indians would raid their cabins and not bother the
settlers we did not worry as we thought that Mr. Cooney knew what the
were likely to do. We laughed and molded bullets the rest of the night.
When morning came
Chick kept wanting to return to the mine. "Mr.
Cooney, the Indians will just raid the cabin, but is not safe to go up
there now as the Indians are still in the country." Chick insisted that
he was going; finally rather than let him go alone Mr. Cooney consented
to go if they could borrow
horses to ride. My father did not have any horses as we drove
mules from Sherman, and he was using them to make his crop.
After several hours
the horses returned riderless with blood on
them. Mr. Potter and Mr. Motsiner jumped on the horses and took off up
mine as it was feared that the men had run into trouble and needed
The men were ambushed by the Indians. Potter's gun was shot from his
the jar of the shot injuring his arm, but
he drew his six-shooter and fought
his way out of the ambush, and rode back to the ranch before the
were able to attack the ranch.
The Indians had
always feared Capt. Cooney, and when they saw that
they killed him they rejoiced. They thought that if they could surprise
Cooney, the settlers were not expecting an attack. The
warriors left the
squaws to mutilate the bodies of Cooney and Chick.
When the horses
returned riderless the Roberts family decided to
send out an alarm. A man rode over to our house and told us to hurry to
the Roberts house.
My father thought
that we should fortify our place as our house
was on a plain and the Roberts house was at the foot of a hill, and the
Indians could shoot down the hill. Mother insisted that we go on over
the Roberts Ranch. My brother said that he would stay with the stock at
the corral. We finally got the two white mules to the wagon and started
for the ranch.
We saw some cattle
standing on a hill, the cattle were watching
something. Mother said "Paw drive faster the Indians are coming the
are watching them." "Oh mother, there is a plenty of time those cattle
are watching us, the Indians aren't near yet." Paw just would not
and mother would urge him to drive faster. Paw would just tease her and
never drive any faster. We were leisure driving along when we came to
top of the hill, and the cattle started to run, and our salute was a
The Indians were coming toward us. I grabbed the old Springfield, which
was a old model being the 1865 model. Paw called: "It isn't loaded. The
shells are in my belt." The belt was a new belt and very stiff. I
but could not get any of the shells out; Paw was driving very fast. And
I was pointing the gun at the Indians in hopes that they would stay
if they saw a gun. If I had been able to load the gun I could never hit
as the gun was bouncing around so; as father was really
making a race for the Roberts ranch now. I screamed to the family to
down in the wagon so the Indians couldn't hit them easily. Bullets were
whizzing all around us. The Indians were getting nearer all the time.
brother was standing at the corral watching the attack, but could not
us, as his gun was not a long range gun. The men at the Roberts Ranch
the trouble that we were in and six of the men rode out to help us;
risking their lives; the party of men rode between us and the Indians.
The Indians began to shoot at the men on the horses; there-fore giving
us a chance to get to the ranch. We were traveling at quite a speed by
the time we reached the ranch. We had to pass by the house, and pulled
up behind a old log shed. Just as we halted one of the white mules fell
dead, the first shot of the Apaches to take effect for they were sure
wild. We got out of the wagon down by the wall. My sister said: "I
seen any Indians." She had been lying down in the
wagon. She decided to peep around the corner to see an Indian, a shot
her head about an inch. To get to the house we were going to have to
a ditch, the men told us soon as there was a slack in the firing to
for the house. The firing ceased, and we knew the Indians were
the place. We made a dash for the house, the children made it across
but we were afraid mother would be unable to make the leap across the
as she was short and weighed about one hundred and sixty-five pounds.
mother came to the
she leaped across that ditch as spry as a deer. She said it
was time to get in a hurry.
The house was a
long house made of logs with a door at each end.
The beds were placed around the wall of the room, and the women and
put in the center of the room for protection. here were thirty-one men
the house besides the six members of the Colter family, five in the
family and six in the Mender family.
My brother couldn't
stand the suspense of not knowing what happened
to us, made a ride for the ranch, and arrived without a scratch. Luck
surely with us for bullets has hit all around us, and not a
injured. The Indians were able to keep up a constant fire as
would drive up and fire; then drop back to reload their guns and
fifteen would take their place thereby keep up a constant fire
were always moving in a circle. There were two-hundred thirteen
surrounded the house some shooting down the hill many
of the shots lodged on the dirt roof, others knocked holes in the wall
making it unsafe to move about as the Indians could see any movement in
the house through the cracks. Late in the afternoon one of the small
was crying for something to eat, and the food was all across the room
the cupboard. My brother was standing on one side of the cupboard, and
I wished to take his place as I knew that he was tired. I asked Mrs.
if the [nild?] was in the
when she said it was I had an excuse to go after the mild
as the children hadn't had anything to eat all day.
I made a dart
across the room safely. I asked, "Brother do you want
me to take your place for a while?"
it is too dangerous as the Indians have nearly hit me several
times through the cracks in the wall."
girls in those days were taught to shoot the same as the boys.
I have spent many hours at target practice with my brothers and father.
Mr. Wilcox was
standing on the other side of the cupboard spoke
up and said "Agnes, when you start back across the room you go as fast
as possible; those Indians are shooting at every thing they see move."
Before I started
back Mr. Wilcox saw his partner out in the yard
trying to get to the house. Mr. Wilcox stepped to the door to aid his
in getting to the house by exposing himself. I darted across the room
as I handed the child
glass of nile Mr. Wilcox cried: "My God, boys I'm shot." He
stood his gun down by the door facing and walked over to the fireplace
and laid down. Before anyone could reach him he was dead.
Early in the fight
an Apache had been shot, the warrior rolled down
the ditch, that we had to jump into the water. We thought that he was
dead, which he probably was; but he disappeared when Mr. Murray tried
get to the house. Mr. Murray had gone into the hills early in the
to round up some cattle, when he heard the firing he knew the Indians
attacked and hid out in the hills. Late in the afternoon he decided
it was time to try to make it to the house, but he tried to come in too
early. The boys sure did have to do some real shooting to make the
stay back in order for Mr. Murray to get to the house. While the boys
were making every effort to get Mr. Murray to the
the Indian in the ditch had disappeared. Whether the Indian
was unjured and saw a chance to get away, or one of the other warriors
slipped down, and carried him away or what happened to him was never
understood the Apache language and signs, he told the
boys that Victorio was trying to get his warriors to rush down to the
as our ammunition was low he cautioned the boys to never shoot unless
were sure of the shot. For if the Apaches ever did get to the house it
off with the settlers, as the warriors could soon capture
the place as they had plenty ammunition. The Indians always had
a Indian scout would always go out with a lot of ammunition when he
he never had any, he would tell his commanding officer that he shot at
rabbits and birds, but he was storing it away for future use as he knew
he would probably be back
the tribe the next year, many times he sent his ammunition to
his tribe. The warriors made several rushes for the house, but the boys
made it too hot to get too close.
The Apaches are
superstitious about fighting after night, and when
dark came the Indians made camp at the present site of Alamo. The
and whooping really came off. They danced and made merry for they had
white settlers penned. Our man soon became tired of their fun making,
sent a few shots over in their direction. The Indians moved a little
away and no more was heard of them, so close to the ranch.
We figured that we
were in for a siege, and had better fill everything
with water. If the Indians were to cut the ditch we would probably have
to give up the fight from thirst. Two men volunteered to try to get
to Silver City for help and immunities. To go to Sliver they must go by
the Indian camp. The men came around and told us all good-bye, they
expected to come back, and I don't suppose anyone in the room ever
to see them again,
God was merciful for they went by the camp safely. At the ranches
along the road they were able to secure fresh mounts. The men arrived
Silver City early the next day and gave the alarm, and rushed over to
Captain Madden had
been out on an Indian scouting trip, and was
just returning to the post with thirty-five of his troops and scouts he
ordered [hissmen?] to turn and march to the Frisco Valley. The men
by Silver City where seventy-five citizens joined the troops. The men
tired but they never let this hinder them in their rush to the settlers.
The morning after
the battle we were surprised that we weren't fired
on, but Mr. Indian had decided that the white settlers weren't to be
so easily, and had sent a runner over to the San Carlos Reservation for
more warriors. The men decided as the Indians weren't bothering to try
to bury Mr.
They constructed a crude wooden coffin and decided to bury
him on the hill behind the house. If the Indians were seen coming a
was to be fired from a pistol.
The men were
carrying the coffin up the hill when a shot was heard.
The men hastily placed the body under a tree and made a run for the
When the men had gathered at the house it was discovered that one of
men had accidently dropped his gun, and made it go off. Many days later
were able to laugh about the incident, but it sure wasn't funny
There was seventeen
head of stock in the Roberts coral when the
fight started, but they were all killed. Our old white mule stood by
old log house all day, and was never hit. The second morning-after the
fight Captain Madden came in sight of the ranch. As soon as he could
the ranch with his field classes he tried to see the condition of the
he cried: "We are early enough for I see white men." The cry of
went up from that group could be heard for many miles.
Mr. Indian had
early in the morning moved on into the hills for
they apparently heard that soldiers were coming. They went by the
where the Mexican sheepherders were and killed thirty-five men. The
were angry because the sheep men had told them that the new settlers
be easily taken, and they hadn't been able to accomplish their victory.
A Mexican taken prisoner by the Indians told us that the Indians told
that the Indians had nine dead warriors with them.
After the soldiers
arrived and found us safe they decided that it
would be foolish to try to follow the Indians, as the men were all
as well as their mounts, also many of the men from Silver City were
When we returned
home we didn't have a thing left. Sheriff White Hill
was in the valley at the time of the attack and came on to the ranch,
father sent us back to Silver City with him.
Sometime after the
fight an Apache scout came into the mining camp
with Chicks coat on, the one he had on the day he was killed. The boys
at once took Mr. Scout prisoner, and took possession of his horse. The
Indian scouts always helped his tribe against the white people.
One morning the
boys told the Indians that he was to follow them.
The Indian asked: "Where are you taking me?"
of the boys answered; "Going to show you the trail."
I know the trail that you will show me, and it will be a long
one." The boys took the scout out and hung him.
My father bargained
with the boys, for the scouts' horse or mule
to make the crop. Sometime after the hanging of the Indian a government
man came by, and demanded the horse from the boys. They told him that
horse had been sold and paid for, and they guessed that he couldn't
agent came to father and demanded the horse. Father
told him; "I don't intend to let you have the horse. The Indians took
I had, and I have bought and paid for this horse, and I intend to keep
it. The agent told father the government couldn't be responsible for
father said; "Turn your damned Indians loose and we sill take
care of them." When father told him this the man went on about his
and was never heard of again.
The families that were in the
valley never did receive anything
for their loss, as the government agent said that the Indians weren't
war with the government. A negro detachment was sent into the valley
they were useless. Father was talking to one of them once and he said;
"We daren't shoot at an Indian. We are just out here to bury the dead."
Mrs. Agnes Mender