The date, September 11, is seared in American memory. And it was one that perhaps was not forgotten by those who lived in and around Hillsboro in 1879.
In August of that year, the Apache leader Victorio launched a rampage that made its mark in history. Victorio, followed by tens if not hundreds of disenchanted Mimbres and Mescalero Apaches, and probably Comanche Indians too, raided ranches and isolated military outposts in southern New Mexico, west Texas, and northern Chihuahua.
On September 11, a posse of armed citizen from Hillsboro led by the likes of town pioneers, Joe Yankie and Nicholas Galles, confronted Apaches at H.D. McEver's Ranch 15 miles south of Hillsboro. McEver's Ranch would shortly become the first townsite of Lake Valley following a silver strike.
|Nicholas Galles, Hillsboro's first |
postmaster, was at McEver's Ranch
Photo Mark B. Thompson III.
The number of Hillsboro men engaged in the battle vary, as do the number killed--and so does the actual date--depending upon which report you read. A review of the literature reveals that anywhere from a half dozen to 15 men were killed in action. The 1880 Secretary of War's report to Congress offers some insight as to the geographic extent of the Apache depredations. As for those known to have been killed at McEver's Ranch on September 11, 1879, they were: Steve Hanlon, Thomas Hughes, Thorton, Preissier, Green, Dr. Williams, and I. Chavez.
Other documented works by writers Dan Thrapp, Edwin Sweeney, and Joseph Stout make mention of an entire ranch family murdered and mutilated on Jaralosa Creek a mere few miles from McEver's Ranch that same day. The names of those victims are not reported.
The eastern front of the Black Range would see more action between Apaches, citizens of Hillsboro, and the U.S. Army for another seven years. But in the short-term, McEver's Ranch was the site of a heated battle with the 9th Cavalry, the famous Buffalo Soldiers, led by Maj. A.P. Morrow. If the brief New York Times account, you can sense a frustration that dogged the military in the Victorio campaign that lasted until late 1880. In October 1879, the Apaches attacked McEver's Ranch again, and burnt down its buildings. Because of its location--central to Ft. Cummings to the south and Camp Ojo Caliente and Camp Hillsboro/Camp Boyd to the north--McEver's Ranch would be occupied by the U.S. Army for much of the Victorio and the Geronimo Campaign to come in 1885-86. And coincidentally, September 11, 1885 was a significant date for several ranch families who lost kin to Geronimo near Lake Valley--Abeyta, Hollage, Horn, McKinn, Pollock.
You can read about these events and more in Around Hillsboro a new book written by members of the Hillsboro Historical Society. You can find it in local book stores, and the Black Range Museum.