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The St. Charles herald. [volume] (Hahnville, La.) 1873-1993, June 09, 1917, Image 4

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Story of a Deed That Will Render Johnson Immortal in the Hearts
of the Pueblo Indians—Fights for Boy Deputy Against
Forces of Bad Government Which Ultimately
Cost Him His Official Position.
The case of Juan Cruz, which cre
ated a sensation in the West and was
instrumental in rending the Indian
department asunder, was also the
cause of Johnson's resignation. He
could not have maintained his posi
tion at the cost of letting the boy
hang; he preferred to stand by him
and unite the powerful influence of
New Mexico's politicians against him-.
After the incorporation of the terri
tory into Oklahoma Johnson's activi
ties lay largely among the Indians of
New Mexico and California. As chief
special officer, he had the charge of
protecting the Indian reservations j
against the inroads of the bootleggers
and other vicious characters If John
son had succeeded in obtaining the
unswerving devotion of his white asso
ciates, he was still more blindly
trusted by his Indians. On every res
ervation today Johnson is remembered
with touching faith and child like af
fection. It is no exaggeration to say
that he has done more to put the red
man on his feet and make him self
respecting than anyone else who has
labored for the Indian in the United
States since the days of the first mis
sionaries. More than that, Johnson so
established the Indian's reputation
that his testimony became as valuable
before a jury as that of a white man.
One of his most zealous followers
was a certain Bill Pablo, a man of un
bounded charity and courage, who
maintains a dozen Indian orphans on
bis farm at his own expense and is
working with all his might to improve
the morals of his people. Yet, when
Johnson met him, he was an outlaw,
with four murders to his name. He
was a terror to the whites. Johnson s
Interest in the man was aroused by
bis notorious character.
"One day," said Johnson, "I purpose
ly met him where we could talk alone,
and thpre we bad it out together.
"'Why is it that you are always
lighting the whites?' I asked.
" 'Because they are all liars, thieves,
and whisky peddiers,' he retorted
" 'Are they all liars, thieves, and
whisky peddlers?' I ventured
" 'So near there ain't no difference,'
said Pablo.
" 'Am I a liar and thief and whisky
peddler?' I questioned.
" T believe you are on the square,'
he answered, looking me straight in
the eye.
" 'Then you and I are on the same
job,' I told him. 'You come with me
and we will make sausage of these
white liars and thieves and whisky
peddlers. I'll give you two dollars a
day and expenses, and give you the.
time of your life besides.'
"Bill jammed his boot-heel into the
sand a couple of times, and then grab
bed my hand. And that Indian went
out after the whisky peddlers with
the same zeal that he had displayed
In different directions. In the three
years that followed he had more to do
with the cleaning up of southern Cali
fornia than almost any other man
''Bill's arrival In any hamlet within
signal for the whisky peddlers to take
to the brush. But taking to the brush
did not help them much, for every In
dian was Bill's friend, and would put!
him on the trail."
m hundred miles of his home was the
On one occasion Pablo was detailed
to assist in the raiding of a saloon
near Sasakwa. Bill was no Pussyfoot
in action. Rushing through the door,
lie ordered the proprietor to throw- up
his hands. He failed to notice, how
ever, that a bartender was bending
down behind the bar. His presence
was suddenly brougiit home to Pablo
when a revolver barked and a bullet
nearly carried away one of Bill's ears.
With a roar like a bull Pablo immedi
ately replied with a shot which broke
the bartender's wrist. Then, jumping
over the bar, he picked the man up
and flung him into the middle of the
saloon to his assistant, while, collaring
the proprietor, he walked off w ith him
through the terrified crowd of loafers.
When Johnson took a hand in the
New Mexico situation the lot of the
Indians there was a pitiable one. For
years they had been suffering at the
hands of the crooked politicians who
ran the state. As an instance of this:
about a hundred and fifty years previ
ously the Pueblos of Santa Clara had
purchased from the Spanish govern- i
ment a tract consisting of some ninety j
thousand acres of land, for which they
paid a thousand dollars and a horse, j
The land was transferred to them in j
fee simple, and used by them until a
few years previously, when some land
sharks took the question of ownership
into the courts, with the result that
the Santa Clara purchase dwindled in
size from ninety thousand acres to a ,
narrow strip of less than nine hundred
acres along the Santa Clara river,
known as the Shoestring Grant.
This particular affair came to the
attention of Mr. F. E. Leupp when he
was commissioner of Indian affairs,
and he inferested himself in the mat
ter to the extent of giving the Indians
about thirty thousand more, acres as
an "executive order" Indian reserva
tion, in lieu of what they had lost
through the manipulations in the
courts. Subsequently an attempt was
made to manipulate this new grant
by bestowing it upon other tribes, :
doubtless with no disinterested pur- j
pose in view-. At the same time cat- j
tie were driven upon the Indians' j
lands and pastured there, without any
shade of legality.
But the worst evil with which the
Pueblo Indians had to contend was
the liquor traffic, though its effects,
being more insidious, were less ap
parent. The crooked politicians at
Santa Fe were in close alliance with
the illicit dispensation of whisky
among the red men.
Johnson had plenty of deputies at
his call when, in 1910, he resolved to
clean up conditions among the Pu
eblos. Johnson knows a man when
ho sees one, even If he is less blus
tering but no less courageous than
the redoubtable Bill Pablo. Such a
man was young Juan Cruz of Pablo
San Juan, whom Johnson saved from
legal murder at the cost of his posi
Juan Cruz was a deeply religious
young Indian, devoted to his church,
nessed the evils which the introduc
tion of whisky brought in its train.
He had seen two of his companions
; his young wife Dolorita, and their
baby Jess. He had lived all his life
his reservation, and had wit
shot down in cold blood because after
being plied with drink they refused to
part with their possessions at the
bidding of the liquor peddlers. Cruz
proved to be one of Johnson's best
deputies, and particularly reliable.
When Johnson undertook his clean
ing up campaign he put his first as
sistant, Harold F. Coggeshall, in
charge of the initial work. Thi3 was
accomplished chiefly through the In
dian deputies themselves, who went
at it with true Indian ardor, about in
the same spirit as that with which
they would have gone on a bear hunt.
Their chief enemies were the Mexi
cans, who were invariably opposed to
their efforts. But other enemies were
harder to overcome.
A company of politicians in Santa
Fe had incorporated a liquor selling
concern, which traded with the whites,
according to law, and with the In
dians in defiance of it. It did a busi
ness amounting to $30,000 a year, and
was a political factor which gave it
immunity from prosecution.
The Indians gathered evidence to
show that this company was violating
the law, and went with it before the
grand jury. The grand jury did lit
tle or nothing; the temerity of the
Indians was a matter for ridicule, not
for action. However, the Indian su
perintendent was president of this or
ganization, and the storm of protest
which arose was so great that Assist
ant Commissioner Abbott went down
from Washington to Santa Fe to in
vestigate matters. The superintend
ent was forced to resign the presi
dency, but Mr. Abbott came to the
conclusion that Johnson had been
overzealous in his work and ordered
him to discharge two of his depu
ties, who had been prime movers in
the complaints, one of them being
Miss Clara True, a stanch friend of
the red man.
At this time Commissioner Valen
tine, who was at the head of the de
partment and Johnson's stanch friend,
was away on sick leave.
The company was reorganized, and
the new president was a man who re
cently had been convicted of selling
whisky to Indians. Naturally the es
tablishment continued to run on the
same lines as before. It w-as in the
midst of the continued agitation that
what Is known as the Tragedy of
Chamita occurred.
The zeal of Johnson, aided by the
efforts of a white woman, Miss True,
who has been mentioned, had brought
about a reforming spirit among the
Pueblo Indians. So thoroughly was
Miss True identified with the Pueblo
of Santa Clara that she occupied the
position of secretary to the tribal
council. But there came about a
change in the situation, and on Miss
True's return from a visit to Califor
nia, she found that the politicians
were practically in possession of the
Indians' lands, and the bootleggers
had again overrun the reservations.
However, she succeeded in cleaning
up Santa Clara and set to work upon
the neighboring villages.
It was Indians of the type of Juan
Cruz who make one hope that the red
man is not unadaptable to civilization.
He was of a type rare among his peo
ple, gentle and spiritual, with a face
that might have served as a model
for a red Sir Galahad. Although he
was engaged upon Johnsons work,
little notice was paid to him, as ho
had not the forceful aspect of a fight
er, and his efforts were not taken
About this time he was called home
to his pueblo at San Juan by a mes
sage that a son had been born to him
and his girl wife Dolorita. Juan re
fused to supply whisky to his neigh
bors on the occasion of the christen
ing, an act which, breaking complete
ly with the custom of immemorial
ages, brought him into prominent no
tice among his people. After several
months of voluntary service Juan suc
ceeded in cleaning out the bootleggers
- „ Vila own village often at the
cost of assault, and always under per
^Finally he asked and obtained per
mission to do the work of a deputy
at the Mexican village of Chamita. a
peculiarly vicious center, filled with
dives, and inhabited only by Indians
and Mexicans. At one of the numer
ous ''joints" in this settlement it was
known that the vilest spirits were sup
plied to the Indians, in violation of
the territorial laws. The "bad man
of Chamita was a desperado known
as Garcia, who was such a notorious
character that he had been run out
of his own village. Cruz determined
to arrest Garcia and thereby strike a
blow at the traffic. He consulted no
body about his intentions in the mat
ter. Had he been more worldly wise,
says Johnson, he would have asked
for help, and would certainly have ob
tained it. Instead of which, he armed
himself with a revolver, with whose
use he was hardly acquainted, and
went alone at night to Chamita when
he knew Garcia would be there.
He waited outside the dive until he
saw Garcia emerging, and then, ap
proaching him, he wrested the whisky
bottles which Garcia was carrying out
of his hand, with the object of taking
them to headquarters and using them
as evidence against him.
Garcia and his companions, three j
other Indians of the lowest type, at
once set upon Cruz and began beat- j
ing him. His face was cut open with
a stone, he was struck and clubbed re
peatedly. With the blood streaming
down his clothes Juan shouted to the
attackers to desist, announcing his
intention of shooting unless they did
so . Instead of which they flung them
selves upon him and bore him to the
ground, and drew their knives, intent
upon finishing him.
In the darKness Cruz fired into the
air, to scare his assailants. How Cruz
managed to hit anybody, being wholly
unused to firearms, is singular; but
the bullet, guided by chance, pierced
Garcia through the heart, and he fell
dead. His cowardly assistants at once
released their hold upon the boy and
ran at the top of their speed.
Then Cruz, badly mauled, but still
clinging to the bottles which he had
taken from the dead man. mounted
his pony and rode 14 miles to the res
ervation to tell Miss True what had
happened. He was put to bed and
his wounds dressed, and early the fol
lowing morning he was arrested and
taken to Santa Fe to await trial for
murder. Miss True at once commu
nicated with Johnson, who, character
istically loyal to his men, at once
dropped all his other business and
wired an account to Commissioner Ab
bot, with a view to hurrying to the
But the politicians at Santa Fe also
got busy. Cruz had been one of the
Indians who had identified themselves
most prominently in the appeal
against the illicit shebeen at Santa
Fe. There had also been a good deal
of friction between the Indian super
intendent and Johnson's deputies.
There was some doubt as to the exact
status of Juan, and, as a result. Com
missioner Abbott sent the following
telegram to Johnson:
"Your telegram seventh, Cruz shoot
ing. Since Cruz not authorized gov
ernment employe your service, take
no steps regarding his defense. Con
sult Crandall and give him all informa
tion in your possession."
It is only fair to the commissioner
to state that it was not intended to
leave Cruz to his fate, but merely to
leave his defense in the hands of the
Indian superintendent, as he was not
a regularly authorized government em
ploye. However, Johnson believed
that the boy was being railroaded to
the gallows. Inasmuch as the sole
witnesses to the killing of Garcia were
the three remaining assailants of Cruz,
who swore in the preliminary Inquiry
that the killing was entirely unpro
voked and deliberate, the chances
were strong that Cruz would expiate
the crime with his life. Commissioner
Abbott's telegram effectively muzzled
But there were plenty of othersanx^
icus to come forward in b^hali of
Cruz. 'The Women's Christian Tem
;c c
Juan free—upon a technicality, true,
flung itself into
ployed to de- i
perance union at once flung itself into
the battle. They formed a Juan
Cruz defense committee, composed of
Mrs. H H. Byrd, Mrs. Katherine B.
Patterson, Miss Clara True, Miss Mary
T. Bryan, and vowed Cruz should not
hang. A public appeal for funds was
sent out. The newspapers took up
the matter. Mr. J. B. Crist, one of
the most brilliant criminal lawyers in
New- Mexico, was em
fend the young Indian.
The widespread interest in the de
fense of Cruz attracted the notice of !
Commissioner Robert G. Valentine, j
head of the Indian department, who j
was, as has been said, a stanch friend j
of Pussyfoot, and who had been away j
on sick leave. Valentine had once !
received a communication from John- I
son when the sleuth was in prison
upon some trumped-up charge or oth-j
and had wired back:
"As you know, I am with you to
the limit, in prison or out."
Mr. Valentine now interested him
self in the matter by not only imme
diately reversing the order cf Assist
. .. . .. ,
ant Commissioner Abbott but in send
ing Johnson instructions to do every- i
thing in his power to help the boy. j
Johnson had done that already. He |
had written to the defense commit- |
tee to the following effect: |
"Referring to our conversation of
the other day in the matter of Jean i |
Cruz, I must repeat that, under in
structions from Assistant Commis
sioner Abbott, I cannot take part in
his defense. This of course does not
bar me from contributing personally
to the fund raised for employment of
counsel for his defense. I therefore
enclose my personal check for $50
toward the fund.
"The thing lies heavily upon my
heart For six month Juan gave
splendid aid to my officers in sup
pressing the liquor traffic among the
Paeblos, of whom he is one. And
when our appropriation ran low this
boy became one of a band of the finest
Indians I ever saw to work for the
rescue of their fellow-Indians, at their
own expense.
"Cruz is one of the finest type of
young Indian men I have ever known.
Father Camillo Snex, his pastor,
speaks in the highest terms of Juan;
so do the merchants in the vicinity;
so does my good friend Father Hoel
tennan, who knows every Indian in
that valley, and who has lived with
them, worked with them, prayed with
them and fought with them for a doz
en years."
On receipt of Commissioner \al-!.
entine's orders abrogating those of
Assistant Commissioner Abbott, John
son hurried to Santa Fe and took up
the defense with all his might. Never
was a defense more vigorously con
ducted. In the court room, beside
Mr. Crist, for the defense, sat David
U. Leahy of Las Cruces, the United
States attorney who had been de
tailed, at Johnson's request, to assist
him. Juan's young wife Dolorita. and
his baby, Jose, were in a corner of
the court room. Adjoining the judge's
bench and opposite the jury was a
delegation of ladies from Santa Fe,
and a score of the most prominent
women of northern New Mexico. On
the front bench sat the veteran Fran
cisco Naranjo, the president of the
federation of 0,000 Pueblo Indians,
and a veteran fighter and reformer
on behalf of his people.
"We know it will all come right,"
said the Indian. "1 know that Mr.
Johnson will bring Juan back to me,"
said Dolorita, the wife of the ac
cused boy. "It doesn't matter. The
whole thing is in God's hands. I am
merely doing his work, said Juan him
self to a charitable woman, who, when
the future looked very dark indeed,
went to the cell in which he was con
fined and began talking to him in an
endeavor to prepare him for the
The lawyers for the defense talked
all around the prosecution, and the
decision, which occupied the better
part of an hour in the delivery, set
Juan free—upon a technicality, true,
but still free.
! In Oklahoma Johnson had downed
his enemies. In New Mexico they
I •got" him. Refused deputies, help
less to prosecute his work further,
i he laid down his office. 'T refused to
be chloroformed," he wrote, explain
ing his resignation, "but these men
finally got me so bottled up that I
i could do but little except to mark time
and draw my salary. I saw no other
wav to maintain my self-respect ex
! cept to resign." .
j One of Johnson s most sensa 10
j exploits was his digging up s0 ™, " f
j forgotten Indian treaties by " ' J>
j which he drove the liquor
! the reservations in Minneso a. ^
I man prohibition campaign
tracted wide notice to
which at
him. During
his five years of se! Tj?® J^^his
a national character. His courage, ms
his sense of humor, the
strong humanity
of the man. com
binecTto make him an original and pic
turesque figure wherever he goes.
This country cannot well spare such
f rom her public services while
f inspires the viola
i the gre h
j tion of its ffiws
| (i r '" ' J _
| innocent Bystanders,
| j nn ,, ( .,.,it bystanders probably work
j( liv j nt , ]|ke other honest people,
i | u( . )ll0V s[H , n< ] lots of time hanging
, iroum ] street riots and gun fights.
An inru
ten take
cent bystander will very of
two hours off at lunch time
up a fight or fire to hang
Every innocent bystander
knows that someday his turn will come
and he is never able to kiss his wife
and children good-bye as he marches
away. Innoeent bystanders are the
real heroes of daily life and a day of
the year should be set aside for their
celebration. Schoolchildren should be
made to march through the streets in
parade escorting a barge whereon is
depicted in tableau an Innocent by
stander's death by a stray brick. The
boys in the fifth reader could do the
riot scene with spirit. An innoeent
bystander not long ago, painfully
though not seriously injured by a mis
directed ck.V howled with hideous
curses. Which shows that innoeent
bystanders are not always so Innocent.
—Detroit Journal.
Fires That Put Themselves Out.
There are numerous instances on
record in which a fire has been the
means of extinguishing Itself. These
samples of spontaneous incombustion
ir( > n() (. infrequent, even apart from
j continuous
j steam from
those cases in which It occurs through
the agency of automatic sprinklers.
A fire in a church in Boston, caused
by "spontaneous ignition" in a store
room, melted the lead water pipes, and
the water issuing from them extin
guished, the fire.
Not very long ago some waste left
upon the top of a steam pump at
Watertown. N. Y.. blazed from "spon
taneous ignition." and this in turn set
fire to the lagging round the steam
cylinders and the feed pipe, where It
melted the soldered attachments of a
autoinutic oiler. The
the feed pipe was dis
charged through the small tubes lead
inf , to the oller an(J extinguished
ßre> «nguisned Mf
Autun, according to the " aT-'h ö
i..- .. April Poj
recommended f or tpl T"' "
; languishing ffu . f ' In ttUi
Linseed Oil for Dying Trees
A curious method of reviving lan
guishing or dying trees was reported
recently to the French Academy of
Agriculture, after being tested suc
cessfully in experimental gardens at
lar Mechanics Magazine. The earth
was first removed so as to lav bare'
the larger root branches, in'which
kenfTo nal K UtS WeFe th ™ cut and
Wept open by wedges. These cut
were wen rubbed with Unseen oil.
nftir a while numerous
small root?
theTee« f0nninK a Sort "f 'fur. ..ml
• w M S ? m ' ute ' 1 rapidly gained
no " !ll, ' "nd vigor. Tim - * ■

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