SIMS ELY'S BOOK - The Lost Dutchman Mine

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Jim Hatt

SIMS ELY'S BOOK - The Lost Dutchman Mine

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Founded 24 January 1895
MEETING # 1439
4:00 P.M. MARCH 3, 1988

My Father and His Search For
The Lost Dutchman Mine in Arizona
by Northcutt Ely
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library

My Father’s Search for the Lost Dutchman Mine in Arizona, is based on the book, The Lost Dutchman Mine, by Sims Ely, and an unpublished manuscript by James E. Bark, which narrate the search, over a period of several decades, for a fabulous lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains in Central Arizona. Sims Ely's book, published in 1953, went through seven editions in this country and six in England. Some twenty men have lost their lives in attempting to rediscover this mine. It is known to have produced incredibly rich gold ore while owned by a Mexican family, for three generations from 1783 to 1871, until they were driven out by Apache Indians. It was last seen by white men in 1882. It was believed by Sims Ely to have been filled in and covered over by the Apaches in about 1883, to deter further incursions by white miners into the Indians' stronghold, the Superstition Mountains.

Mr. Ely is a graduate of Stanford and Stanford Law School.
His wife is Marica McCann Ely, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Pratt Institute of Art in New York.
They have three sons, all doctors. One is a Redlands resident, Dr. Craig Northcutt. After practicing in California and New York, he became Executive Assistant to Secretary of the Interior, Ray Lyman Wilbur, in the Hoover Administration. He represented Secretary Wilbur in negotiating the Hoover Dam power and water contracts.
After leaving the Interior Department, Mr. Ely practiced law in the District of Columbia for nearly 50 years. He and his wife moved to Redlands in 1981, but he has not retired.

His specialties are international law and natural resources law.
He has argued before the United States Supreme Court seven times. His Supreme Court cases of most interest to a California audience were the representation of California in Arizona v. California, and of Imperial Irrigation District in the 160 acre limitation case.
Mr. Ely’s current cases include the representation of the City of Los Angeles and Southern California Edison Company in the renewal of the Hoover power contracts that he negotiated for the government 54 years ago, advice to Imperial Irrigation District in their water conservation program, and representation of other clients in several international matters. He is a member of the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution at Stanford, and a trustee of the Hoover Foundation.

This is the story of the search carried on by my father, Sims Ely, and his partner, Jim Bark, over a period of four decades, for the fabulous Lost Dutchman gold mine in the Superstition Mountains in central Arizona. Most of what I am about to tell you comes from his book, The Lost Dutchman Mine, published by William Morrow and Company in 1953, and from an unpublished manuscript by Jim Bark, to whom the book is dedicated. The book also recounts a score of earlier episodes which they carefully tracked down and verified, in the course of their own repeated trips into the Superstitions. In the time available today, I can put before you only a few of these.
Before I begin the story, please indulge me in a few nostalgic words about both men.

My father was born in 1862 in Cook County, Tennessee. He liked to say that he struck a blow for the Confederacy at the age of three. Yankee soldiers broke into his home near the end of the war, looking for my grandfather, who had come home wounded. Dad had a little Confederate hat, which he kept on a post by his four-poster bed. A Yankee soldier thrust his bayonet through the hat. Dad kicked him smartly on the shins. This was typical of him; he stood up for his principles all his life. My parents settled in Phoenix in 1895. Dad became editor and finally owner of the Arizona Republican, now the Arizona Republic, and went on into government service. He died in 1954, a year after his book was published.

Jim Bark came out to Arizona Territory in 1879, a penniless orphan, and ultimately became one of its leading men-owner of the Bark ranch (which was the natural gateway to the Superstition Mountains), president of the Arizona Cattlemen Association, member of the upper house of the Territorial Legislature.
The two families became close and lifelong friends. Jim Bark had been involved in the search for several years, and my father soon joined him, whenever his work permitted. They were skeptical investigators, taking little stock in the tall tales that have surfaced over the years.

For example, the Superstition Mountains, in which the mine is located, take their name from an Indian legend that the mountains are guarded by an evil spirit who sleeps only four hours a day, and you must get in and out, with your gold, while he is asleep. But it is a fact that some twenty men have lost their lives in looking for the Lost Dutchman, or immediately after finding it. I shall tell you first, as my fathers book does, about the mysterious murder of Adolph Ruth in 1931, during Ruth's search for the lost mine. It attracted widespread attention in the media. Later on, I had some peripheral contact with this episode myself.

The newspapers reported that Ruth, a man in his late sixties, who had just retired from government employment in Washington, D.C., had come out to Arizona to look for the Lost Dutchman Mine. He had last been seen at the Bark Ranch, which by this time was owned by a man named Barkley. As Barkley later recounted it to Jim Bark, Ruth asked if there was a sharp peak anywhere near the ranch, and was told that this must be Weaver' B Needle, a few miles northeast. He said he wanted to camp near that peak. Ruth told why he was going. He had a map that would take him to a last gold mine. He said this, unfortunately, in the presence of two prospectors who were hanging around the camp at the time.

There were always prospectors coming and going. Barkley said he was leaving for a few days, and would pack Ruth into the mountains when ho came back, if he insisted on going, but it was a bad idea to go into the mountains at all in such dry, hot weather, and dangerous to do so alone, at any time. Barkley departed. Shortly thereafter, however, the prospectors struck a bargain with Ruth, and the following morning packed him into the mountains. This was the 14th of June, 1931. The day afterwards, the prospectors returned and reported that they had seen Mr. Ruth comfortably established by a water hole, about two miles from Weaver 'e Needle. They then disappeared.

As soon as Barkley returned and discovered what had happened, he was much concerned, and with one of his cowhands rode out to find the Ruth camp. Ho had a hunch that something was wrong. Indeed there was. Barkley found the equip. Adolph Ruth’s bed was there, and so also, strangely enough, were his boots, that he had bought especially to wear into the mountains. Ruth himself had disappeared, presumably wearing his City shoes.

On the chance that the missing man was nearby, possibly lying injured, Barkley and a cowhand searched for him up and down all the canyons for several hours, shouting his name repeatedly and firing their revolvers at one minute intervals. There was no response .
Returning to the ranch, Barkley telephoned the authorities. There were several search parties in the mountains that summer and fall, all bent on solution of the mystery. Mrs. Ruth offered a reward, and her son, Dr. Erwin Ruth, whom I came to know quite well, spent a number of weeks in Phoenix directing the search. But it was six months before the fate of the missing man became known.

The discovery was a gruesome one. It resulted from an elaborate investigation carried on by the Arizona Republic. In the thick brush overlooking West Boulder Canyon, about a hundred feet above the canyon floor, the search dogs came upon a skull, with particles of flesh still adhering to it. There was no trace of the rest of the body. The skull was sent to Dr. Erwin Ruth, who by that time had returned to Washington. On examination by the family dentist, it was identified as the skull of Adolph Ruth. Dr. Alec Hrdlicka, the anthropologist of the National Museum, examined it and reported that the skull had been pierced by a bullet, fired at such an angle that the victim could not possibly have shot himself.

Some Six months later, after an unexplained delay, a deputy sheriff from Phoenix, accompanied by Barkley, resumed the search for the body. The search was successful. At a distance of a mile or so from the spot where the skull had been discovered, they found a dismembered skeleton, which was easily identified. The newspapers had another field day. My father, who no longer lived in Phoenix, asked me to get hold of Erwin Ruth, who lived in Washington, as I did, and report what he could tell me. Erwin Ruth came to see me, bringing with him the effects found on his fathers body. He told me the following story.

Some years earlier, the younger Ruth, while in government service as a veterinarian on the Mexican border, had come into possession of an old Spanish map and documents describing a mine in the Superstition Mountains which had been owned by a Mexican family named Peralta. He had given these to his father, who had an interest in old documents. The elder Ruth become obsessed with the notion that he could find the mine. Soon after he retired, he arranged, over the family's strong objection, to go to Arizona.

Ruth had taken with him a metal box in which he kept the old Spanish map and various other documents, which described how to reach the mine. This box had been found in Ruth's camp. The map was missing. On the body itself, however, had been found a memorandum book, which Erwin Ruth showed me. It bore, in his father 's handwriting, in ink, directions which covered the last short distance to the mine. It read as follows:

"It lies within an imaginary circle whose diameter is not more than five miles, and whose center is marked by the Weaver Needle, about 2,500 feet high, among a confusion of lesser peaks and mountainous masses of basaltic rock. "The first gorge on the South side from the West end of the range -- they found a monumented trail which led them northward over a lofty ridge, thence downward past Sombrero Butte, into a long canyon running north, and finally to a tributary canyon very deep and rocky and densely wooded with a continuous thicket of scrub oak...

The description was broken off at this point, but lower down on the page, well spaced and standing by themselves, were the enigmatic words "veni, vidi, vici" and then, written in pencil below this, was the notation About 200 feet across from the cave ". The notebook was bloodstained. I was allowed to make a photostatic copy and send it on to my father.

The mystery was never solved. Dr. Ruth was sure that 0a father had found the mine, and had been murdered in consequence of it. Why the body had been decapitated, and why the skull and skeleton were at such a distance from each other, is a puzzle for which no answer has ever suggested itself.

Before I finish this narrative, I will furnish another decapitated body for you, so please don't go away.

Just what is this lost mine, and why is it called the Lost Dutchman?
My father and Jim Bark painstakingly put the facts together.
In 1783 King Charles III of Spain signed a grant to a subject named Peralta, living in Sonora, Mexico, of an exclusive right to mine in a large area in what is now Arizona. It included the Superstition Mountains, and was confirmed by the Mexican government, after independence.

The Peralta family carried on mining operations in the Superstitions for at least three generations, leading large expeditions of peons into Arizona from their base in the town of Arispe, in the State of Sonora. Independent accounts agree that the Peraltas ultimately developed a funnel-shaped pit, some 75 feet across. Peons would carry the ore in sacks slung over their backs, climbing from one terrace to another, using notched poles for ladders.

The ore contained heavy concentrations of gold nuggets, which were easily shaken out. Further down the mountain, a horizontal tunnel was being driven to connect with the ore body, but this was never completed. In 1871, two German-Americans, Jacob Waltz, and Jacob Weiser, showed up, apparently by accident, at the Peraltas' hometown. They had been prospecting in Mexico. As they told it later, the two happened to be onlookers at a gambling game in which Miguel Peralta, then head of the family, became engaged. The game broke up in a violent fight, in which Prelate's life was saved by Weiser. Don Miguel was deeply grateful, and took them to his home. On learning that the two men were ax-Confederate soldiers, he told them that he needed fighting men to go with him to a mine that he owned in Arizona. The Apache Indiana were on the warpath, indeed had killed his father, Don Enrique Peralta. He said if they would go with him and his party of peons, they could have half of the gold that they would bring back with them. They agreed.

The party made an uneventful and Successful trip to the mine, which turned out to be in the Superstition Mountains. They loaded their pack animals with gold ore, and came back to Mexico. The gold was worth about $60,000. On their arrival in Mexico, Peralta said that he had serious gambling debts in Mexico City, and if they would give him their half of the gold, he would cede to them his mining rights for a period of time, and they could take all the gold that they could recover. Waltz and Weiser agreed to this.

On their return to the mine, however, they discovered two brown-skinned men working it. Believing them to be Apache Indians, they shot and killed the claim-jumpers. They happened not to be Apaches, but two of Peralta's peons who were doing a little poaching on their own. Retribution followed swiftly.

After Waltz and Weiser had built up a considerable supply of rich ore, a mule broke into their provisions, at night, and destroyed most of their food. It was decided that one of the men should go with a peek mule to the nearest store, which was in one of the Pima Indian villages on the Gila River, to buy new supplies, while the other stayed at the mine. The Pimas, unlike the Apaches, were friendly Indians. The round trip should require four days.

Jacob Waltz made the trip; Jacob Weiser stayed at the mine.
Waltz' subsequent story was that he was delayed in returning, and when he reached the mine, his partner was missing. Waltz found some of Weiser's clothes, and assumed that the Apaches had captured him and taken him off to torture him to death. To avoid the game fate, he hastily packed up all of the ore that he could carry in trig saddle-bags, hid the rest in three caches, and brought his peek animal back to the Pima villages.

After a time, he moved on, and settled on the outskirts of Phoenix, which had been founded in 1864, and was still only a village. There he remained until he died, in 1891, twenty years later. Jim Bark knew him slightly, and described him as a courteous but melancholy man, secretive, withdrawn from the world, and living in modest circumstances. Apparently, however, he made several tripe back to the ore that he and Weiser had etched.

The fact that he was occasionally shipping small quantities of very rich ore to San Francisco, to be sold there, gradually became known. There may have been a leak from the Express Company Office. At any rate, the rumor spread that this old German owned a hidden goldmine in the Superstition Mountains. This was the origin of the name, the Lost Dutchman.

Before Waltz died, he told trig story, with directions how to get to the mine, to a neighboring woman, Helena Thomas, who had befriended him, and in whose home he died. He left her 8 considerable quantity of gold, and drew a map for her. She and her stepson and the boys two uncles spent many years in a fruitless search for the mine. My father and Jim Bark became well acquainted with all of these people, questioned them repeatedly, and had no difficulty in identifying the places shown on the map, except for the missing mine.

As to Weiser, it turned out that he had not been killed by the Apaches, but that he had been badly wounded by an arrow. He had struggled down to another of the Pima Indian villages, where he was taken to the home of a Dr. Walker, an American physician, whom we would describe as a missionary doctor. His story was that when Waltz did not return to the mine, Weiser assumed that the Apaches had killed him, and that he would be next. As he was riding out from camp, he was indeed attacked by the Apaches, but managed to escape, wounded. Weiser died in Walker's home, but not before describing the route to the mine, and giving Dr. Walker an old map drawn on parchment, and a small sample of the ore.

Dr. Walker's life history is a fascinating chapter of its own, but there is not time enough to tell it today. He had good reasons for keeping out of the hands of the Apaches, and never went looking for the mine. He was a well known man, and a credible witness.

Dr. Walker showed the Weiser map to a man who subsequently became prominent in Arizona affairs, named Tom Weedin. My father knew him well. Weedin's story was that Walker had let him make a copy of the map, and he (Weedin.) had then returned the original map to Walker. The original was lost sight of, but Weedin. thought he had the copy. It turned out he didn't. His wife was opposed to the idea of his going into Apache country, and apparently succeeded in mislaying it. Weedin, who had never been in the Superstitions, drew it from memory for my father. Its identification with features of the Superstitions was apparent at once, but no mine was found at the spot marked on the map.

I told you earlier that Miguel Peralta's father had been killed by the Apaches. This was substantiated many years later by an old Indian known as Apache Jack, who told a man working for Jim Bark that, as a teenager, he had gone along with other Apaches who were answering a smoke signal in the Superstition Mountains, calling for help. It seems that Apache warriors had surrounded a large party of Mexicans, with loaded pack animals, and were engaged in a running fight, as the Mexicans tried to make their way to the desert. The fight lasted three days, and all the Mexicans except two or three were killed. This remnant got away to Mexico, over the Arizona desert. Asked how large a party this was, Apache Jack said that he did not know how many Mexicans there were, but they had at least 300 animals. What had become of the loads on the pack animals? He said they contained stones., and the Apaches had thrown the pack" on the ground. It is a fair inference, from the relative dates, that this was the fight in which Don Enrique Peralta had been killed, probably about 1864.

There is curious circumstantial support for Apache Jack's story. Commencing sometime in the 80's, two men, who obviously knew nothing about mining, put in fourteen years digging holes on the Northern apron of the Superstitions, in an area that was not mineralized at all. Nevertheless, they were able to ship several thousand dollars worth of rich ore. They had apparently discovered the ore that had been spilled from the pack animals during the three-day running fight between the Apaches and Peralta's men. Both men ended up in the lunatic asylum near Phoenix. This, however, was a better end than that which awaited some of the other seekers of the Lost Dutchman mine. Let me backtrack for a moment, before I produce that second headless corpse.

The Waltz-Weiser adventure was not the first probable sighting of the Peralta mine by Americans, nor was it the last. In 1865, Dr. Abraham D. Thorn, then a young doctor attached to the military post at Fort McDowell, across Salt River from the Superstitions, won the gratitude of the Apache Indians who lived near the fort, by treating them, and particularly their children, for an -eye disease which was resulting in blindness. I suppose that it was trachoma, which was endemic among the Indiana when I was a boy.

At any rate, as Thorn told it later, the grateful Apaches, having learned that he was about to be transferred to a distant post, conducted him, on horseback, blindfolded, to a spot in the Superstitions. There he was shown a dump of very rich ore, nearly pure gold. He was allowed to fill a sack with it, and then was blindfolded again, and brought home. As they crossed Salt River, the blindfold slipped, and he could see Weaver's Needle to the east. Dr. Thorn later took his sack of ore to San Francisco, and sold it for six thousand dollars. His story was corroborated by a Lieutenant Fairchild, to whom Thorn gave a lump of the ore.

In 1880, two young men walked into the town of Pinal, which is on the other side of the Superstitions from Fort McDowell. They were looking for work in the nearby Silver Ring mine. They were interviewed by the manager, a man named Mason, and by the mining superintendent, a man named Bowen. As Mason and Bowen subsequently told it, the strangers were soldiers, who, on their discharge at Fort McDowell, had set off across country to the Silver Ring. En route, in very difficult country, they had stumbled onto an old mine. They had taken some of the ore from the dump, and asked Mason'8 opinion. He had it assayed and paid them $800 for it in gold coin. He advised them to go back to the mine and post location notices to establish title under the mining laws. They were sure they could find their way.

And so, instead of taking a job at the Silver Ring, the two young men bought horses, camping equipment and guns and started back into the Superstitions, to make the necessary location monuments. They had about $400 in gold coin. Mason told them that he would expect them back in Pinal in ten days. When two weeks had gone by, Mason sent out some twenty armed men, seasoned pioneers, to look for the youngsters.

Their bodies were found. They had been shot and robbed.
In the summer of 1881, a man named Joe Dearing, who had been at the Silver King at the time that the two soldiers told their story, reappeared there. He told friends that he had discovered the lost mine. He had done so by following the directions given by the two soldiers to Mason and Bowen, of which he had somehow learned. Like others, he described the mine as a pit, shaped like a funnel. It had been partly filled in with debris. There was a dump of rich ore on the surface. On the hillside below the pit was a portal to a tunnel which had been walled up with rocks.

But, as it happened, Dearing died in an accident before he could make the return journey from the Silver Ring to the Lost Dutchman. Soon afterward, Mason was killed in a runaway in Los Angeles before he could go looking for the mine himself. The evil spirit of the Superstition Mountains apparently has extraterritorial jurisdiction.
My father and Jim Bark discovered plenty of tantalizing clues themselves over the years. These included a trail, three feet wide, worn so deeply into the rock that it must have been made by a great many heavily loaded animals over a long period of time; a cave in which were stored several hundred sandals, of the sort worn by Mexicans, but not Apache Indians; numerous picks and axes; a place where some forty acres of hardwood mesquite trees had been cut down with axes, which the Apaches did not have, for no apparent purpose other than to make mining props (as green mesquite will not burn); a spring, that had been converted into a deep well by careful masonry work, located where it could not possibly be needed by transient visitors; and so on. And, of course, they questioned a great many people who claimed to know something about the mine. Some of these, such as old Indiana, said they had been there in the 1860`s and the 1870's. Other people had heard Waltz, Weiser, or Dearing give their first-hand descriptions. Dearing, for example, claimed to have cut a cross in a tree to mark the trail on his way back from the mine. Jim Bark found the tree, cut it down, and took the significant part of it back to his ranch, to keep the information in the family, so to speak. Apparently, however, neither my father nor Jim Bark ever came close enough to finding the mine to enrage its guardian spirit, and for this I am thankful.

I promised you another headless corpse. It was that of James A. Cravey, who disappeared in the Superstition Mountains in the spring of 1947. He had told friends that he knew exactly where a phenomenally rich gold mine had been covered over, and that he had tried to reach the location with pack animals, but had been defeated by the rugged terrain.

In the spring of 1947, Cravey contracted with Edwin W. Montgomery, President of Southern Arizona Airways, which operated helicopters out of Tucson and Phoenix, to carry him and his equipment to that spot.
The subsequent story, as told to us by Mr. Montgomery and his wife, was this: A small but steady source of income to the helicopter company was flying people into the Superstition Mountains to look for the Lost Dutchman mine. Each of the passengers swore him to secrecy, but they all wanted to be landed in approximately the same place. The chopper would come back at a specified time, usually after a week or ten days, pick them up and fly them out, disappointed.

Cravey's arrangement with Montgomery followed this same pattern. Montgomery pilot flew Cravey to a point in a canyon that Cravey identified with complete assurance. It was several miles from the spot where Ruth had camped. After unloading Carvey's equipment, the pilot returned to the point of take-off. When the helicopter returned to Cravey's camp after the agreed period of ten days, Cravey was not in camp. The pilot flew up and down all the canyon" in the area, but Cravey was nowhere to be found.

On the helicopters return to Phoenix, the sheriffs of Maricopa and Pinel County were notified, and Montgomery's people took off on their own. They get the helicopter down by the site of Cravey's camp. It was intact. No more than two days' supply of food and water had been used. Missing were Cravey's mining pick, his rifle, his canteen and shovel. They again flew up and down all the nearby canyons at low lover, but found no trace of Cravey at all. Neither did the sheriffs' ground parties.

The Cravey puzzle stood in this posture for- some nine months. But then the Arizona Republic published the following dispatch:
"Mesa, February 21, 1948. Discovery of James A. Cravey, 62year old retired photographer, 1014 W. Polk St., Phoenix, who disappeared in the rugged Superstition Mountains last June, while seeking the legendary Lost Dutchman mine, was reported tonight by two Arizona visitors. They are Capt. R. F. Perrin, U.S. Army Retired, and Lt. Commander William F. Clements, of Chicago, guests of Sunset Trail Ranch, eleven miles east of here. The two men reported finding the skeleton of a man minus the skull, late this afternoon, 2 1/2 miles south of Weavers Needle, while on an all-day hike in the area. Because of the hour, they did not search for the skull, but brought the manes wallet back to Sunset Trail Ranch. Identification was made through papers in the wallet. Sheriff Cal Boles was notified in Phoenix. Boles said Sheriff Lynn Early of Final County will organize a party to pick up the skeleton tomorrow morning. Cravey is the twentieth person known to have lost his life while looking for the fabled lost mine in the Superstitions.

My father, when he saw the dispatch, wrote the sheriff of Pinal County, asking him to describe the place where the Cravey skeleton was found. He replied on March 17, 1948:
"Dear Mr. Ely: The Cravey skeleton was found one day by two men on a prospecting tour. Together with them and two other men, I went into the mountains the next day and found the skull, which was not found the day before. The find was made at the head of a canyon, probably due east of Weaver's Needle. Trusting this is the information which you wish, I am. etc. This was several miles from Cravey's camp, and also from the spot where Dr. Ruth's body had been found.

No one has discovered who killed Mr. Cravey, or why his body, like that of Dr. Ruth, was beheaded. The search for the Lost Dutchman has not ended. Literally scores of people have combed the Superstition Mountains during the last hundred years, looking for the Lost Dutchman, and many are still doing so.

My father's book asks a pertinent question: How is it that there is no credible report of the rediscovery of the Lost Dutchman mine since 1883, at least by white men, notwithstanding the fact that in earlier years Peralta's Mexicans had no trouble in finding it, in repeated expeditions; Waltz and Weiser were easily able to retrace their steps to the mine in 1871; the two soldiers saw it in 1880; and Dearing was able to find the mine in 1881 by following the directions given by the two soldiers?

The book suggests that Apache Jack supplied the answer. He said that in the early 80,a the Apaches, growing increasingly concerned about the incursions of would-be miners into their stronghold, the Superstitions, decided that gold mines were shad medicine.. And so, as Apache Jack told it, the squaws worked all one winter to fill the pit and cover over the entrance to the tunnel, so thoroughly that no one could ever find them, even from a distance of a few feet. Moreover, there was a sharp local earthquake in 1883, which may have completed the job.

I will leave you with the benediction given in Jim Bark's manuscript:
"Hunting the Dutchman is not for old men, nor for old prospectors who sit on park benches in our Western towns - still filled with hope, exaggeration, specimens, and nicotine. They must step aside and let the younger generation hunt the Dutchman, chew their own tobacco, tell their own lies, and buy or steal their own specimens. Someone, some day, will fit the parts together more successfully than we have done. Good luck to him.."
Don't let this discourage you.

The town of Ely, Nevada not far from the Hoover Dam was named after Sims Ely.

"In October 1931, the government hired Sims Ely to run Boulder City. Ely was a tough-minded, no-nonsense man who ran a very tight ship. He ruled Boulder City as he saw fit, enforcing the government's rules and regulations. Opinions about Ely varied depending upon how you saw him.

Here are three opinions of Sims Ely:

Pat Lappin:
He was a small, kind of dried up person. He was in his 60s or 70s when he came here to govern the town. He was sure he was right. Always he was sure he was right. Some people hated him with a passion.

Frank Carroll:
Frank Crowe brought him in to run the town. They needed a city administrator and someone who could keep everybody in line and act as kind of a city judge and keep the employees straight and operate the town as they needed somebody who could control things. He was sort of a mayor without the title, he was also a judge. He was in charge of the police department.

Floyd Jenne:
There was no doubt Sims was (the) boss. He decided whether we took them to court or he'd handle it. He couldn't fine them. He couldn't put 'em in jail. But he could kick them out of town for a week, two weeks, 30 days, whatever. And he exercised that authority and actually it was better for the people involved because if we put the man in jail he'd have lost his job. His family would have lost the house, had to move out. By telling the guy to get out of town, his family kept the house but he had to move to Vegas, find a place to live, back and forth, and so on. I've had people say "Take me before the judge, I don't want to talk to Sims. "

The full stories that the above quotes were taken from can be found at:

As you can see above. Mr. Ely was a very independent man of impeccable character, who told it like it was, and didn’t really care if you chose to like it or lump it.

He spent his golden years working on his book, and reminiscing about the old days on trail, in the superstition Mountains, with his friend and Partner Jim Bark, in search of a lost bonanza, that they both whole heatedly believed existed, somewhere. Somewhere… out there, in the twisted and tangled maze of towering peaks and deep canyons, known as the Superstition Mountains.

His book, in my opinion, is the single most accurate work on the Lost Dutchman Mine ever printed. The information in his book, in many case came directly from the lips of people who had known Jacob Waltz (The Dutchman) or who had themselves been to some location in the Superstitions where they had participated in the extraction of rich ore, or nuggets right from the ground. In other cases he was likewise only one step removed from talking to the original sources of the stories in his book.

I have at least one copy of nearly every book ever written on the subject of the Lost Dutchman Mine. Not a one of which published after 1953, when Mr. Ely’s book came out, that does not quote something from his book or use him as a reference, whether they gave him credit for it or not.

Over the years, there have been many attempts to discredit his book, and create doubt in the minds of Dutch Hunters about the accuracy of his statements, and the creditability of his stories. In some cases, I believe this was done with self-serving motives.

That full story can be found at:


Chapter 8 Page 98 of Ely's Book:

The mine and cache are in those mountains you see over there to the east, the Superstition Mountains. My partner and I took the gold out of the mine, as I've told you, and we made three caches-two of them small, one large. Before leaving the place, after I saw my partner was gone, I removed the gold from one small cache. And I went back once-long after the Apaches killed my partner-and brought the gold away from the other small cache. But the large cache is still there.

Chapter 8 Page 101

The peons did the work mostly.The ore was in a pit. It was wonderfully rich and easy to take out of the rock

Chapter 8 Page 102
The mine was a round pit, shaped like a funnel with the large end up. Shelves had been made in the wall as the miners went deeper, and on each shelf stood upright timbers with notches in them for the miners to use in climbing out of the pit with sacks of ore on their backs. The pit was sloping to a point because the workers shaped it that way...

Don Miguel's father had started a tunnel in the hillside down below. It pointed straight toward where the ore would lie, deeper down. But Don Miguel himself didn't do any work on the tunnel, and Weiser and I weren't interested either. We knew we could take out enough gold for ourselves without bothering with that.

Chapter 8 Page 108/109

No, the mine will never be found by any cowboy. You have to go on foot, and no cowboy's likely to do that if he can help it, and it's hard enough to find even when you know it's there... It's in a rough place and you can pass within a hundred feet or so without seeing it.

The gold's in a pit that the Mexicans started from the top. My partner and I just dug it deeper, and it's not very far across.

(Here Waltz is referring to his last trip to the mine)
I stayed there only a little while-just long enough to build a rock wall at the mouth of the tunnel that Peralta's father had started. I threw some dirt against the wall to hide the rocks, and then I came away... I went to just one of the caches-the small one. I brought the gold away from there, but the big caches is still there, I'm sure, and in the spring we'll go and get it together.

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Re: Sims Ely's book

Post by roward »

Hi, Jim,
I'm looking at Ely's book now, and he does have extensive conversations between Helena (Julia?) Thomas and Rhiney, which he says resulted from rigorous cross examinations by himself and Jim Bark. So I guess that's the answer to my question. He probably took a little artistic license to dramatize the conversations a little, but it is essentially what they both told him and Bark. By the way, are the Bark Notes available anywhere in their entirety?
Bob Ward
Jim Hatt

Re: Sims Ely's book

Post by Jim Hatt »

Mornin' Bob,

re: The Bark Notes. I have a thread with that title reserved and will be opening a discussion on that subject very soon. I will email you a copy of the Bark Notes that has been circulation for 50 + years, and is what everyone refers to when talking about the Bark Notes. But... I make no claim about how accurate it is as a representation of what Jim Bark actually wrote.

The copy I will be sending you is full of typos and misspellings, but perfectly readable.

Jim Hatt
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Re: SIMS ELY'S BOOK - The Lost Dutchman Mine

Post by roward »

What do you think of Ely's statement that he believed the dutchman was a "physical coward"?
Jim Hatt

Re: SIMS ELY'S BOOK - The Lost Dutchman Mine

Post by Jim Hatt »

Hi Bob,

Ely gives his reasoning for forming that conclusion. The more you research Ely, and understand what kind of a man he was. The more you can understand how he would come to that conclusion.

I am not sure that everyone using the same information that Ely had, would come to that same conclusion.

Most people use themselves ,as a standard by which they make judgments about other people. Ely's bar would have been set pretty high, and I have a feeling that he saw a lot of people that he knew as "physical cowards".
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Re: SIMS ELY'S BOOK - The Lost Dutchman Mine

Post by i-tsarl-tsu- i »


I have had great luck by using AbeBooks and Alibris. Type in "rare books" in your search engine, and then go to either of those book sites. You can type "Lost Dutchman Mine" in "keywords" and they will bring up everything they have on that topic.

The main problem with those sites, is that they can easily make you "book poor".
They will start out showing you the least expensive, but you can reverse that and start with the most expensive. You will find Sims Ely high on that list, but the prices on his book are all over the scale.

Good luck and good reading,

i-tsarl-tsu- i
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Re: SIMS ELY'S BOOK - The Lost Dutchman Mine

Post by i-tsarl-tsu- i »

Forgot to mention.......I agree completely with everything Jim said about Sims Ely and his book. My first book on the LDM was Barry Storm's. My sister then bought me Sims Ely's for Christmas. That's the book that really hooked me.

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Where to Find Out of Print Books

Post by Roger »

The below web site is the best I have found to locate out of print books. It is a meta search engine that sits on top of about two dozen web book stores including Alibris and AbeBooks.

You can also click on the In Print link and look for books still in print.

The Superstition Mountain Museum carries a fair number of LDM books - some new and many reprints of old books and manusacripts that are no longer copyrighted. They show a few on their web site, but many are not listed and you would have to call on them. Their web site is:

Happy book hunting!

Jim Hatt

Re: SIMS ELY'S BOOK - The Lost Dutchman Mine

Post by Jim Hatt »

Nice site for finding books Roger! I didn't know about that one.
Thanks for posting it!

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Re: SIMS ELY'S BOOK - The Lost Dutchman Mine

Post by lighthouse »

Hello group:
I don't want to add a discordant note here, but check out page 96 of Ely's book. Here he is offering a runup to the story Julia told him... "The event took place at Waltz's adobe home, and on the basis of Jim Bark's and my subsequent rigorous cross-examination of both Helena and Reiney, IT CAN BE ASSUMED THAT IT HAPPENED JUST ABOUT LIKE THIS: (I've capitalized the pertinent item)....

By Ely's own words he is telling us that what he heard from Julia, was what he could remember she said, but NOT in every instance, what she ACTUALLY said. Remember this was coming from a man in his early/mid 80's, about an event that occured at least 50+ years previously. I'm not knocking Ely, just that you have to take this into consideration when you read his classic book.

Ely undoubtedly believed what he reported was the truth (and probably so), but it was through his own interpretation of what Julia said, plus the 50+ year gap between when he heard it and he wrote it down. So by Ely's own words, he must have filled in the gaps in his memory with what he assumed Julia said, and how she said it.

This doesn't detract from the historical importance of Ely's book, just that when you read it, be aware of the probable constraints Ely was operating under when he wrote his book, and what impact that could have had on the accuracy and completeness of what he did have to say...... Lighthouse
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