"Quesada did return, very content,
Saying much good about the land
And that it was abundant in metals,
With beauteous pastures, mountains, springs,
Rivers, and glens, meadows, small camps,
The Flagstaff area has been witness to a cavalcade of human presence, from southwestern prehistory to the historic period our area has been a crossroad for people getting from one place to the next. Springs and water sources can be found within a days travel and if a line is drawn between them on a map we can be sure that other human beings had done the same in the form of trails. A trail is a reflection of our lives as human beings and it can take a turn into the past, the present and perhaps the future. Such as the following story of Marcos Farfan and his fellow adventurers who found a path near our town.
The year was 1598 and the colonization expedition of Onate was already in the present state of New Mexico. Juan de Onate, had previously been given approval to explore and settle the new lands to the north of Mexico to which he was to lay claim for Spain. He was also to investigate rumors of rich mines and other mysteries which were to be carefully documented and reported to the catholic magesty in Spain. The one who was always chosen for the tasks of exploration was Maros Farfan de los Godos, he was the explorer and the reliable eyes for the General Onate, who with his eight companions found trails through the new lands.
In the month of November he was given new orders, the effect of which is best given in verse of the time period by Villagra who was a witness.
"He was ordered to leave a second time In search of certain very famous mines, Because of them, too, we had had Many a tale from many folk. And that all might go well with him There went Quesada, the well-armed, Don Juan Escarramal and Antonio Conde, Marcos Garcia, in a thousand trials strong, And Damiero, well-tried by the same, Hernan Martin, too, with other companions Who quickly set out all together."Marcos Farfan de los Godos, Captain of the Guard, set out for the Hopi villages by order of his lordship in November of 1598, where he was to obtain guides to mines which were rumored to be in that province.
He was well received by the Hopi people and was provided with scouts, they traveled six leagues to the west and arrived at a small spring (possibly Sand Springs or Tolani Lakes) where they stopped for the night with only enough water for the men and not for the horses. On the next days travel to the west they arrived after three leagues of travel to a river which flowed towards the north (Little Colorado River) and after another three leagues arrived at the slopes of a sierra (San Franiciso Mtn Volcanic Field?) where they halted for the night without water. The next day they found water in deep pools after two leagues of travel (Turkey Tanks or Sunset Tanks?) and from here they traveled on another two leagues where they camped on a slope of the sierra where they found a little grass for their weary horses. Their guides wanted to go and bring back some water in gourds from a spring which they said was near this camp, and so Captain Quesada went with them. When they had traveled the distance of two arquebus shots (the arquebus was the firearm of the period, with ignition by burning match, snaphaunce lock or wheellock with a range of about two hundred yards) when they came upon an indian village. They were quickly surrounded by armed men and Captain Quesada began to reassure them through sign language and gifts that he was their friend and that they were only looking for ore rumored to be in that land. Friendship was established and new guides were obtained to take the little expedition to the legendary mines.
On the next day, the Spaniards exchanged gifts for food and started out in their quest. Their guides led them over hills and forests with snow up to their knees and then after six leagues of travel arrived at a low valley free of snow, warm with rich pastures and flowing rivers, todays Verde Valley.
The Spaniards were warmly welcomed by the native americans living in the area, and exchanges of gifts established a friendship and guides to the mines in the valley. In the words of Villagra we have the description in verse.
"And after they had wandered many leagues, Suffering very great trials, Quesada did return, very content, Saying much good about the land And that it was abundant in metals, With beauteous pastures, mauntains, springs, Rivers and Glens, meadows, small camps, and Plains, where they had come upon a quantity Of the wild chickens of the land, Lizards and Spanish Partridges, And pearl shells, for they had been near That land of pearls which mighty god Has wished to be kept in silence. And many people, all of them friendly, Extremely beautiful. Nor was this strange Since there was none of them who did not have Placed in the middle of his head A beauteous cross made of two canes And well attached unto the hair."The men of Farfan were guided to the foot of some hills where a spring of warm water provided a comfortable camp. In the morning they were led up to the mine which was on the side of the hill (todays Jerome area) where ore samples were obtained and fourteen to fifteen claims were made. One being named Saint Francis, one San Gabriel and another Huerfanos.
After a long return trip, the samples were presented to Don Juan de Onate on February 18 of 1599. The ore samples were found to be small as the men only had as tools their knives and daggers, however an assay was conducted and silver was claimed as having been found in rich quantities. This myth of the rich silver has led so many treasure hunters of today to follow in the footsteps of Farfan and his followers, but the mines in reality were never rich in silver and never were worked by the Spanish. It appears that the records were elaborated upon by Onate in order to make Spain invest more interest in his settlements and to make his discoveries comparable to those of Cortez and Pizarro. The mines were in reality rich in copper, eventually to become the mines which made the town of Jerome so famous. Sometimes the best place to hide something is the most obvious location.