John Daniel Fife married Eliza Jane Stewart of Draper, Salt Lake, Utah, on February 20, 1889 at Ogden, Weber, Utah.
Nine Children of Eliza Jane Stewart and John Fife
An Account of an Indian Attack on John Fife
as recorded by his half-sister, Cynthia Fife Layton:
Submitted by Marlene Kiessig Biesinger
In the year of 1880 my father, mother, three brothers and myself arrived in Arizona from Ogden, Utah and settled in Sulphur Spring Valley at the foot of the Chirichahua Mountains in Oak Grove. We lived for one year in a tent and slep in our wagon boxes. Then father built a frame house which we thought was pretty nice.
At that time the country was full of rustlers who made their living by stealing what they wanted and killing all who opposed them. Within a short time after our arrival the rustlers were all killed. I remember very distinctly when the last five were hanged in Tombstone. That finished their crime wave.
After the rustlers were all killed, then came the dreaded Indians who were of an Apache tribe, who gave us a lot of trouble. One time they were on their way to Mexico, and they came upon a house in the mountains seven miles from us where two old people lived. They began firing and the old man and woman ran to the rocks thinking it would be safer for them there as they were afraid the Indians might burn the house. They hid in the rocks, not knowing but what they would be killed. The old lady had a basque on with a ruffle on the bottom, and when the Indians had gone she found two holes in the ruffle. Upon being able to return to their home uninjured, they were very happy to find that neither had been harmed nor had their home been burned.
Another time my brother John was hauling a timber that was used in the mines in Tombstone. He and two other men went to the mountains to get this timber, when seemingly behind every tree there was an Indian. The Indians began firing, killing the two men who were with brother John. John ran into the hills and through some brush. The Indians kept firing and chasing him. He killed two Indians in a thicket of breush and lay behind them for protections until the other Indians set fire to the brush. He stayed in the thicket until he could stand the smoke no longer, so he offered a prayer that he might be saved, then ran through the fire and smike and was shot three times by the Indians. He was bleeding through these wounds but he managed to get close by a nearby camp where he felt he was safe. He fell from loss of blood before he reached the camp, but was close enought that someone saw him and went after him.
The next day his family and the neighbors went up to the mountains and brought him home. There was a young man at the ranch who had just finished medical school, and with the help of fifteen men to hold him on the table, the bullet was cut out of his groin. He is living today in Salt Lake City, and still thrills at the telling of his experience. He had two spans of mules with him. The Indians killed one span for meat and packed the others with the meat and salt. The mules were not used to being packed and they got away and came home. [A span of mules constitutes as few as two mules harnessed together and as many as can be tied together in one team.]
A Second Account of the Attack on John Fife
as recorded by his half-brother, Orson Pratt Brown:
The next incident in my [Orson Pratt Brown’s] life was in the November of 1880. I started with my mother and stepfather [William Fife] [and their 13 year old daughter, my sister, Cynthia Abigail Fife] to Arizona. We had three wagons and three teams. When we arrived on top of the Buckskin Mountain it snowed and we lost one of our teams, a pair of mules. I returned to a little village by the name of Johnson, in Southern Utah and there found some people who were also traveling to Arizona and they had extra animals and they came on top of Buckskin Mountain and loaned us a pair of horses and we continued our journey crossing the Big Colorado river at Lee’s ferry and while we were at the ferry some people traveling to Arizona overtook us and advised us that our mules would be found at a little village called Pahrea. We borrowed a pony and saddle and I crossed the river to hunt the mules and the company moved south. I arrived at the Pahrea the next day and found that the mules had been taken by the man that found them, north to a village called coming in a dream and said I would be there for New Year’s dinner. She prepared that dinner and sure enough I arrived for New Year’s dinner, at noon, fulfilling the dream of my mother at the place called Willow Springs.
[The family settled in Sulphur Spring Valley, Arizona for a while]
While they were going up the Pinery canyon they were attacked by this band of Indians. They killed Tom Fornay and Lobely and wounded John Fife [19 year old son of Diana Davis Fife and Cynthia's half-brother] in two places but he got away from them, running through the brush, arriving at a little mining camp some four miles from where they were attacked, by the name of Tip Top. A messenger came to our ranch and told of the killing.
There were only two more of us at the ranch and the information having come that probably the whole band of blood thirsty Indians were on their way we took my mother and Diana Fife and the girls and went across the trail to Riggs's ranch that night. It was about six miles distant. And in the morning at daylight with Mr. Thomas Riggs driving a light wagon and myself as a guide we drove up into the Pinery canyon and before we got to the mining camp we met about fifty men on their way, leaving the camp.
They advised us that they had left six men behind to guard and protect John Fife until we came. His wounds were of such a nature that it was impossible for him to ride on a horse. We lifted him on the wagon on a mattress we had taken and at Riggs's ranch he soon received medical aid. In the afternoon we formed a small posse of five and went up the canyon to bury the bodies of Fornay and Lobeley. As I knew the country well I was in the lead and about a mile before we got to the dead bodies it had sprinkled on us. Just then I saw in the road tracks of 3 Indians who had crossed the road leaving their tracks fresh on the trail. I stopped and said to the men:
"There are their tracks, fresh on the trail; they are going to lay for us."
I suggested to them that we separate; three going up the road and two on each side flanking the road, looking out for the Indians. This whole country was covered with oak brush; in places so thick you could hardly get through it. So one of the boys went on one side of the canyon and I went on the other and the other three men went along and up the road. They found the two bodies. One was about one hundred yards from the other. They carried the one to where the other was, dug a grave and placed the bodies in the grave while we too were standing guard on each side of the canyon. And when the burial was finished. I suggested to the boys that these fellows were going to be laying for us and we had better cross into a divide in the next canyon instead of going down the canyon the way we had come. We decided to do this. It will be remembered that a lot of these Apache Indians had received an education in government schools and could speak English. Undoubtedly some of these understood English for when we went over the top of the Divide I saw some fresh signs. The five of us were riding about twenty...five steps apart and I hollered back,
"Here they are! Here are the fresh signs again!"
I was the only one who had a pistol. All at once an Indian rose up from behind a stump and we fired simultaneously and just at my left another Indian raised to fire at the man who was following me, and I fired at him, he not being more than ten steps from me. The second one jumped up, throwing his rifle over his head and yelling like a wild animal fell over backwards. I yelled to my companions who were the farthest away to come, and I fired the rest of the cartridges. I rode down the canyon and stopped to wait for my companions and I felt a trickle of blood down my left breast and stuck my hand into my shirt and pulled out a bullet. The wound was directly over my heart; the bullet was flattened and we wondered how it was that it had not penetrated and passed through my body.
We returned to the Riggs's ranch where we had a consultation and remained there over night. We got two more men to accompany us and started back on the trail after these Indians at daylight the next morning. On arriving at the point where we had the skirmish we found blood stains where these two Indians had lain. The mules had been taken from the wagon but the trail was easy to follow.
We crossed the canyon, following the trail, and went up over some cliffs where there were some small caves and found that they had deposited the two bodies in one of these crevices and piled in rock tight so that the animals could not get into them. We took out these rocks and took out the bodies and found one of them had been shot just under the left eye, the bullet coming out at the base of his brain; the other was shot just below the arm pit, bullet coming out just above the hip bone. We saw the Indian signal fires and following them until about two o'clock we arrived at a small saw mill about five miles from where the first encounter had been. We got some more men and left our horses there. We climbed a steep mountain that night to attack the camp in the early morning but when we arrived we found that the Indians had set fire to the whole mountain country. We made our way back to where our horses were and that night went back to the Riggs's ranch, making two days of very hard work.
Oak Grove Ranch located northeast part of map, see arrow.
Again proving the law of retribution to those who willfully take lives, in September of this same year, 1883, I was living on a little ranch that I had taken up about four miles from where the family lived. My aunt Diana Fife, the wife of William Fife, who was my stepfather, had come from Utah. My mother and [16year old] sister, Cynthia, had gone with my uncle, Edward Bunker and family to do work in the Saint George Temple and while aunt Diana and Agnes were on the [Oak Grove] ranch [Cochise County, Arizona] hired man (my uncle William having gone to Wilcox, Arizona for provisions) a Mexican who had deserted the Mexican army in Sonora came to the house and asked for a watermelon. They gave him a watermelon and his dinner.
He seemed to be acquainted with the Mexican who was working on the ranch; and while aunt Diana was ironing in the center room he pulled out a pistol and shot her, the bullet passing through the cords of the arm just above the wrist, then passed through her stomach just above her hip bone. Her daughter Agnes was in the kitchen, and on hearing the shot ran out of the back door. At this the man who was working ran to the door and this man that had the pistol shot at him, missing. Then the hired Mexican grabbed hold of the other and wrestled for the pistol. Both became bloody from the blood of aunt Diana.
In the meantime Agnes had run around the house into the front room and got her mother by the shoulder and dragged her into the front room. The hired man had taken the pistol and thrown it to one side and asked Agnes for a rope but she fearing treachery did not give him one. There the Mexican murderer got away; the other picked up a pistol and fired a shot but missed. The Mexican laborer went around to the window and asked Agnes what she wanted. She wrote a note to a ranch about six miles distant. The Mexican got on a horse and rode to the ranch with the note. This was the White Ranch. Mr. White, the president, immediately sent a man back with the Mexican and he himself, rode to Tombstone to where one of the county commissioners stayed and there started a search for the murderer. About ten o'clock that night Charles [David Brown] who had been employed in the hayfields at the ranch came to my little cabin and told me what had happened. I got up and saddled my horse and we immediately started searching, going to the north. [Charles David Brown, 27 years old at this time, was Orson's half brother through Captain James Brown and his 8th wife Cecelia Henrietta Cornu.]
The night was very dark and as we passed a ranch known as "Italian Joe's ranch" we found that the Mexican had been there and got his supper. He had gone on his way toward a ranch north near Fort Bowie. On the way our horses became frightened and shied and I said to my brother Charles that I believed the fellow would be along here somewhere. The country was a prairie country so we rode up to the Pass and waited for daylight. We guarded the pass to see whether the man would come through. But just at daylight we saw what appeared to be, in the distance, Italian Joe coming with his horse and buggy taking vegetables, as was his custom, to Fort Bowie. We decided we had better go down toward camp as the Mexican might have gone through the pass before we had arrived there. We searched out a little camp near there and then went to a mining camp called
Dos Cabezas where we met Deputy Sheriff Ward with another man. They had come from Wilcox Arizona in obedience to a telegram sent them asking them to help in the search for the murderer. Together we returned to the ranch to be present at the burial of my aunt. These two rode directly towards the ranch but I went around by Italian Joe's and he told me that they had caught the murderer and had taken him to the home ranch. Just before I got to the home ranch I saw hanging from a big oak tree the murderer of my aunt. I rode down to the ranch and encountered the Deputy sheriff Ward and his companion. They asked me if I had seen or heard anything. I said yes. That I had heard something and had seen the biggest acorn I had ever seen hanging from an oak tree.
We went back to the ranch and held the funeral of my aunt. It was a very sad affair. Little Agnes was inconsolable. She was only thirteen hears old. Then I heard from the Mexican who had defended Agnes what the murderer had proposed to him; that they rob the house, take the horses and girl and escape to Sonora. I heard from Agnes how much the Mexican had done in defending her life.
By this time a great many frontiersmen had gathered and we proceeded up the valley to where the murderer was hanging. The mob spirit took hold of the crowd and they wanted the hired Mexican hanged too. This was seconded by all with a shout. I was the only one who was there horseback; I pulled my rifle from the scabbard and backed the Mexican up against a tree. I told them if there was going to be any hanging done they would have to hang me first; that I would put a bullet through the first man who laid hands on the Mexican. I stated the injustice of hanging the man just because he was a Mexican. The mob spirit immediately vanished. We buried the other Mexican and in three days the coyotes had dug him up and gnawed the flesh off his bones; another incident where the law of retribution was brought to pass….
In the fall of 1884 I was working as a cowboy for the 3C Cattle Co. in Sulphur Springs Valley and while engaged in this work it was the custom for the ranch.
In the spring of 1885 we were visited by Apostle Lyman and John Henry Smith; and the president of the seven presidents of the Seventy's, Seymour B. Young. And while we held a fine meeting at Safford, my brother Charley and William Nelson and the two Wright brothers after the meeting had a fine talk at about twelve o'clock at night. And previous to our talk the two brothers and myself were ordained as Seventies, my brother and Nelson not desiring to take upon them the obligation.
About two in the morning a bunch of Apache Indians rode through the outskirts of Safford driving off a number of horses. The two Wright brothers, together with Robert Welker followed the Indians. The Indians fired on them, killing the two Wright brothers and Robert Welker, but his companions were saved and they returned to Safford. We went out and brought the bodies home and it was one of the saddest funerals I have ever witnessed. The husbands and fathers of two small families being dead at the same time. Apostle Lyman, Smith and Young advised us not to follow them further. My real work and experience in the Gospel began here.
PAF - Archer files = Captain James Brown + (7) Phebe Abbott > Orson Pratt Brown
(2) Phebe Abbott Brown + (2) William Nicol Fife ; William Nicol Fife + (1) Diana Davis > John Daniel Fife.
Photos and information from :
Much of the Fife family information in my database-- http://members.aol.com/chersfmly/ came form a "Descendants of John and William Fife, 1721-1890". In it is listed about seven of the first American generations of my Fife ancestors and cousins, all descended from two brothers who emigrated from Fifeshire, Scotland via County Tyrone, Ireland in the 1700's and settled in what is now Upper St. Clair Twp in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Any Fifes from western Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio in your family? Drop her a line! email@example.com
Additions, bold, [bracketed], some photos, etc., added by Lucy Brown Archer
Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org