The Apache Kid

The Aravapai Canyon

The Aravaipa Canyon is a wilderness area managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  It consists of a little more than 19,000 square acres in the southeast section of Arizona.  The canyon area was the birthplace of an Apache Indian named Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl — believed to have been born in 1860.  His family belonged to the Tsee Zhinnee (Dark Horse) clan, a subgroup of the Western Apache nation.  He is better known to history as the Apache Kid.

There was nothing “Disney Land” about the old west.  As we have seen in countless other stories at Old West Tales, life was hard on the American frontier — it didn’t matter whether one was white, black, red, or brown.  Life was much the same for Haskay.  When he was still a boy, Yuma Indians attacked Haskay’s village and took him captive.  He remained with the Yuma for several years until rescued by a cavalry unit.  Afterward, Haskay lived as a homeless person within or close to army camps and trading posts.  In the mid-1870s, Haskay fell under the influence and care of Al Sieber, Chief of the Army Scouts.

Albert Sieber (1843-1907) was a German-born Union veteran of the American Civil War.  After his father died in 1845, his mother, Katharina, migrated with her eight children to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  In 1862, the Sieber family lived in Minnesota.  Nine-year-old Albert joined the Minnesota Volunteer Infantry.  During his service, Sieber fought at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.  During the Battle of Gettysburg, he received grievous wounds at Cemetery Ridge.  After the war, between 1868-71, Sieber managed a ranch in Arizona.  In July 1871, General George Stoneman hired Sieber to serve as Chief of Scouts during Apache Wars.[1]

Haskay enlisted in the U. S. Army Scouts in 1881.  Haskay excelled in his duty assignments; in 1862, the Army promoted him to sergeant.  In this capacity, he accompanied Crook into the Sierra Madre Occidental and worked in both Arizona and New Mexico.  In 1885, Sergeant Haskay became involved in a melee while intoxicated.  To prevent Mexican authorities from hanging him, Sieber sent him back to the United States.

Sometime later, Haskay married into an important Apache family, becoming the son-in-law of Chief Eskiminzin (roughly meaning “Angry men stand in line for him).”  Eskiminzin (1828-1894) was a Pinal Apache and became their chief through marriage into the Aravaipa clan.  He was a firm believer that Indians and whites could live peacefully with one another and accepted the U. S. government’s offer of land near Fort Grant.  When Mexican and American civilians assaulted the settlement, known as the Fort Grant Massacre, they killed 144 peaceful Apaches, mostly women, and children.  Eskiminzin survived the assault but lived as a broken man until his death.  

In May 1887, Chief Scout Sieber accompanied other post officers on a trip lasting several days.  Sieber placed Sergeant Haskay in charge of the Indian Scouts in his absence.  One or more of the scouts thought it would be fun to throw a party — a drinking party.[2]  Two inebriated Indians got into a fight, and one of them ended up dead.  The dead Indian happened to be Haskay’s father, Togo-de-Chuz.  Naturally, Togo’s murder demanded retribution, so friends of Haskay killed Togo’s murderer, Gon-Zizzie.  Then, to keep matters from escalating, Haskay killed Gon-Zizzie’s brother, Rip.

Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl

On 1 June 1887, Sieber and Lieutenant John Pierce confronted the scouts involved in the altercation and ordered them to disarm and submit to arrest until the army could conduct a proper investigation.  Haskay complied with the order, but a crowd gathered to watch and, perhaps, agitate during the arrest proceeding.  From within the group of on-lookers, someone fired a shot.  Several more gunshots followed, one of the bullets striking Sieber in his ankle.  Confusion ensued, and Haskay and several other scouts fled the scene.

It looked as though Haskay, and his scouts were attempting to escape justice to army investigators, and if the truth were known, they were doing precisely that.  The army reacted by sending two troops of the 4th Cavalry in pursuit.  Sympathetic Apache gave the fleeing Indians aid and comfort.  Haskay did contact the army to negotiate his surrender.  If the army withdrew their troops from Apache land, he would turn himself in.  The Army agreed.

On 25 June 1887, Haskay and four others submitted to a court-martial.  The court found all four guilty of mutiny and desertion and sentenced them to death by firing squad.  The sentence, upon review, was commuted to life in prison, and the supervisory authority, General Nelson A. Miles, further reduced the sentence to ten years in prison.  In compliance with Miles’ order, the Army escorted the five Apache convicts to Alcatraz Prison in California.  The following year, a higher court overturned the court-martial conviction, and the prisoners were set free.

After their release from prison, the relatives of the murdered Gon-Zizzie and Rip claimed that they had been denied justice.  They put up such a fuss that the army issued new arrest warrants, this time alleging murder.  Once more, Haskay (now called the Apache Kid) went on the run; he was again captured, stood trial, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.  Initially, Territorial authorities ordered Haskay, and his cohorts, confined in Globe, Arizona, but later directed their transfer to the Arizona Territorial Prison.

During this transfer, on the morning of 2 November 1889, nine prisoners (including Haskay) escaped by overpowering two guards and a stagecoach driver.  Pas-Lau-Tau shot and killed Sheriff Glenn Reynolds, William Holmes suffered a heart attack and died, and Eugene Middleton, the stage driver, survived although shot in the head.  In Middleton’s later testimony, he stated that had it not been for Haskay’s intervention, the other escapees would have murdered him outright.

All prisoners escaped into the desert.  State militia, bounty hunters, and army patrols conducted extensive manhunts for the escapees.  One of the men who participated in the search, as a member of the 7th Cavalry, was a future book writer by the name of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Authorities eventually recaptured the escaped prisoners.  Well, all except one: the Apache Kid.

Between 1890 and 1899, numerous sources claimed to have seen or suspected Haskay’s presence in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Still, none of these reports was ever confirmed, and Haskay, the Apache Kid, disappeared from the historical record.

For example, settlers in Southeast Arizona accused Haskay of vicious crimes over several years, even though there was never any evidence that he committed those crimes.  During an 1890 shootout between Apache renegades and Mexican soldiers, one of the dead Apaches was found with Glenn Reynold’s pistol and his timepiece.  The dead Apache was too old to be Haskay.  Then, in 1894, over in the San Mateo Mountains, rancher Charlie Anderson and a few of his boys killed an Apache caught rustling his cattle.  Anderson claimed that the dead Indian was Haskay, but the Indian’s identity was never confirmed.

In 1896, famed lawman Texas John Slaughter claimed to have killed the Apache Kid in the Chihuahua Mountains.[3]  In 1899, El Colonel Emilio Kosterlitzky of the Mexican Rurales sent word to the American authorities that Haskay was living among the Apache of Sierra Madre Occidental — a claim never confirmed.

Finally, in 1968, authors Ben W. Kemp and J. C. Dykes related their knowledge of the last days of the Apache Kid.  Kemp wrote that in 1907, as a 17-year old cowhand working in Chloride, New Mexico, he saw Billy Keene (a former member of a posse looking for Haskay) in possession of a human head that Keene claimed was that of the Apache Kid.  Whether true, one must wonder what kind of person carries a human charge around with him for bragging rights.

Sources:

  1. De la Garza, P.  The Apache Kid.  Westernlore Press, 1995.
  2. Forrest, E. R., and E. B. Hill.  Lone War Trail of Apache Kid.  Trails End Publishing, 1947.
  3. Kemp, B. W., and J. C. Dykes.  Cow Dust and Saddle Leather.  University of Oklahoma Press, 1968.
  4. McKana, C. V.  The Court-Martial of the Apache Kid: Renegade of Renegades.  Texas Tech University Press, 2009.

Endnotes:

[1] The Apache Wars didn’t end until 1924; Sieber passed away in 1907.

[2] Indians and most East Asians are alcohol intolerant.  

[3] John Horton Slaughter, known as Texas John Slaughter, was a noted Indian fighter and old west lawman, gambler, and New Mexico rancher.  


About Mustang

US Marine (Retired), historian, writer.
This entry was posted in American Frontier, American Indians, American Southwest, Apache Indians, Arizona Territory, History, Indian Territory, Indian War. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Apache Kid

  1. Andy says:

    Haskay didn’t seem to conform to the stereotypical Indian in many ways. Hard-working, honest, and reliable, Haskay presents a different picture of an Apache. Sadly, alcohol was the cause of his downfall and, in this regard, he proved himself to be a Native American.

    Liked by 2 people

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