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Edward Prentiss of Wickenburg, AZ

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Edward Prentiss of Wickenburg, AZ
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Summer 2001 and Revised 9 Dec 2003

Travelers Massacred by Apache Band

We received interesting email from venad@mindspring.com on 25 and 26 May 2001 telling about a book in her possession called "Drenched in Blood" and describing an indian massacre of travelers on a stagecoach. Her emails read, in part, as follows:

    Early on the morning of November 5, 1871 seven passengers [were traveling] toward Ehrenberg, Arizona Territory. One hour west of Wickenburg (see fn. 1) their stagecoach was attacked. The driver and five men were murdered. A seventh man and the only female passenger escaped, though severly wounded...

    Many of [the people mentioned in the book] moved to CA and died there while others traveled through California to San Francisco to board a ship for the East. Some from CA died here... The book is indexed by surname and town. It covers persons involved, not only the passengers, but also persons involved in the solving of these murders...throughout the trial.

    Edward Prentiss was a part of the scouting party [formed] after the massacre. His name appeared in the Arizona Miner newspaper, Prescott, Arizona, November 18th, 1871, and is mentioned only once in the book. It is a lengthy article entitled "A Corrected Account of the Massacre - The Inquest". The inquest took place only a few days after the massacre, and Edward Prentiss, along with the other scouts, is attesting to the validity of the events that took place, as they knew them, to the effect that the massacre was committed by Mojave Apache Indians. I found the book to be very interesting. Here is a brief portion of the article:

    "...The trail shows them to be a party of Indians, some 40 or 50 in number, [and it] was useless for the few citizens then on the trail to follow them further, the Indians having some 20 hours [head] start. (Fn. 2)

    "They returned to Wickenburg where they met Capt. Meinhold with a detachment of troops from Camp Date Creek with orders to use all efforts to find out who the murderers were. Thereupon Mr. Monroe and Mr. John R. Frink immediately returned [to the massacre site] with Capt. Meinhold and his command, again took the trail and followed it until citizens and Soldiers were all thoroughly satisfied [as to the identity] of the perpetrators of this horror. (Fn. 3)

    "We, being the scouting party, subscribe to the above being a true report: being the first on the ground, after the massacre, and of the last who left the trail.

    W. J. Barclay
    Geo. Monroe
    Edward Prentiss
    Geo. Bryan
    Jose M. Salallo"

Who is Edward Prentiss?

We did not find any Edward Prentiss living in AZ in that time frame in our database. Perhaps he was there only a short time. Or perhaps he was part of the participating Army unit but, if so, one would expect to see a military rank mentioned.

It is also unclear whether Edward Prentiss, if a civilian, lived in or near Wickenburg, although he may have lived there since he was among the first to arrive at the scene of the massacre after it was reported in Wickenburg. One would expect that initial group to be comprised of Wickenburg residents.

Fn. 1:  Wickenburg, in southwest Arizona, nestled in the foothills of the Bradshaw mountains at 2100 feet above sea level on the banks of the Hassayampa river, is about 54 miles northwest of Phoenix at the junction of Highways 60 and 89. The city is the oldest Arizona town north of Tucson.

The city is named for Henry Wickenburg who in 1863 discovered the now famous Vulture Mine, the richest gold producing mine in the history of Arizona with over thirty million dollars in ore dug from the ground. Even though the mine played out in the early 1900’s, it is still a popular tourist attraction today with thousand of visitors annually. Located in the Lower Sonoran Desert, the city of Wickenburg was incorporated in 1909 with ranching and tourism replacing gold as the economic base for the community. The landscape is a blend of cacti mesquite trees, palo verde, creosote bush chaparral, oak, and pine. The nights are so clear and crisp that the stars and planets seem to stand out in the blue-black sky.

In the book, there is some indication that the perpetrators were Mexicans rather than Apache, but the weight of the evidence seems to indicate they were Apache.

Fn. 2:  They already knew, before they started, that the Apache had a 20 hour head start. More likely, when the saw the size of the indian band, they decided, correctly, that it would be foolish for the "few citizens" comprising their group to attempt an attack on 40 or 50 armed and murderous Apache.

Fn. 3:  It is unlikely that the initial objective of the armed civilians and soldiers was to satisfy themselves as to the identity of the perpetrators; they already knew who they were from the report of the first scouting party which had identified the perpetrators as a band of 40-50 indians. Instead of their saying, "Yup, it's Apache all right," it's more likely that they decided to return to Wickenburg because they were unable to locate the Apache band.

Correspondence:   If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please send your information to us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email.

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This page is maintained by Joe Dewald.
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