Ms. Karen and I were at the Tucson Presidio Museum in early March 2022 on a Saturday to witness Living History Days which included a presentation by Atanacia Santa Cruz Hughes, the wife of Sam Hughes (1850 to 1934). The Presidio presents Living HIstory Days once a month October – April. This Saturday you can see Living History Days.
The role of Atanacia in this video was played by Mari Martin, a docent at the Presidio in Downtown Tucson.
I was particularly interested in hearing her talk because of her husband’s and her involvement in the Camp Grant Massacre which occurred on April 30, 1871. Atanacia married Sam Hughes when she was only 12 years of age. Sam was 21 years her senior. The marriage took place at Mission San Xavier del Bac, south of Tucson.
[Tucson 1930’s] Late in her long life, Atanacia Hughes (1850-1934), was interviewed in her Tucson home that still stands at the northeast corner of Main & Franklin next to the Corbett House. The Corbett House is part of the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block. You can watch a video of a portion of their Tour of the Corbett House here.
The following is her account of the Camp Grant Massacre.
“The Indians [renegade Apaches] had been bad all winter [of 1870-71] and they got very bold and kept coming closer and closer – right up to our very door. We had a brush fence on the east side of our place and one night Hiram [her brother-in-law] woke up and saw the Indians inside the fence after the cattle.
Well, it was about daylight. He called to Mr. Hughes [her husband Sam] that the Indians were taking the cattle but Mr. Hughes did not get up. He said to let them alone, he was not going after them alone.
The men followed the Indians, not once, but many times, and every time they followed the same road. So they were sure it was the Camp Grant Indians doing the stealing.
They reported to the officer [Lt. Whitman] but he would not believe what the men said. So when things got too bad they told him if he did not take care of the Indians the citizens would. But he didn’t pay any attention to the warning and, of course, when the citizens got ready to go out they did not tell they were going.
Juan Elias was one of the leaders and, of course, Bill Oury was the leader of them all. He had just lost a fine lot of cattle and was anxious to do something. I don’t know how many Americans went but I am sure there were more than six.
No, Mr. Hughes did not go to Camp Grant but he furnished the means to go. He approved the plan and gave ammunition and arms … and grub. Yes they were given out from this very room we are sitting in.
[Then we] went out during the day to a place that had been decided on as a meeting place – out on the Tanque Verde road not far from Camp Lowell.
When the killing was over the news was brought to Mr. Hughes by Jimmie Lee and he said the crowd was on its way back but had no water and nothing to eat. So Mr. Hughes got some help and we filled up a hayrack we had with bread and other things to eat and barrels of water.
Then the wagon of supplies was taken out to what was then called Nine Mile Water Hole. After the crowd had been fed they separated. The Whites and Mexicans came on into Tucson and the Indians [friendly Apaches and Pima] went back over their usual trail to San Xavier.
At the time, Sam was the Adjutant General of the Territory. He was legally in charge of the supplies and arms to be supplied to the state and federal officials, in the course of their duties. He considered it an act of war, against the Apache renegades, and was acting as ordered by the civilian authorities.
History proved that the [Aravaipa] braves had all left the camp (Camp Grant) on a war/hunting party. Over 200 women and children were killed. A federal inquiry was made. Sam was never indicted. The men that were indicted were found to have done no wrongdoing, since it was a legal act of war. The Tucsonans didn’t have any more trouble.
We suffered no qualms … what we had done was right.”
You can read the rest of the story by clicking HERE.
Thanks to the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson for allowing us to present this video to our readers. We hope that this will encourage our readers to become members.