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THE CALL Sunday Edition.
"*" The larjd that Reavis tried "*" ■*" to steal by msens of his "*■ "♦■ forged documents coy- ♦ •♦■ ered a larger area tbarj > ♦■ the States of Verroorjt > •♦- and New ri^r^pshire ■♦• •♦■ corrjbined. It was lo- > + cated partly in Arizona + and partly in New Mexico. + THERE Is a gaunt, white-haired, white-bearded man living in Denver to-day. His shoulders stoop, his clothe? are worn and threadbare. hanging loosely from a bony frame. Often he is seen on the street with a dark-eyed woman of olive complexion who still retains traces of fierce Andalusian beauty. The pair are always accompanied by two children, twins, who have inherited the features and eyes of their mother. The four live in a. lodpinsr-hou'se and at times -they- are hard pressed for the necessities of \ . . . •-. •--» , The man is James A'ddison iPeralta> Reavis and • the, ■ •woman I? Wt •wife. He planned and barely failed of executing the most gigantic, fraud that was ever conceived against this Government. At one time he had a fortune of millions within his grasp. Such famous men as Robert G. In grersoll. Roscoe Conkling. Collis P. Huntingtoh; "William 8. Wood. Reuben H. Lloyd, Phil B. Thompson, John W. Mackay. Ed S: Stokes, Bourke Cockran. Charles Crocker. I. M. C. Curry and H. 1). Money espoused his cause and helped fight hi.= cpse in the cnu>r. In the end. when his scheme was on the verge of success, when he was about to receive title from the Government to 12,500.000 acres of land valued at $100,000,000, the Government succeeded in convicting him of con spiracy to defraud the Government. His scheme was exploded and he was sentenced to serve two years in a New Mexican prison. He served his sentence. A few days ago he wrote a confession of. the entire conspiracy. Ac cording to his statements the Government, although it spent $100,000 in de fending the case, never hit upon the real facts. His conviction, he says, ■was secured upon a mass of false and perjured testimony. He himself, however, tells for the first time how he -conceived and executed the fraud. He tells how he met an Andalu-?lan girl whose parentage was un known, how he man her and lilt about her a mythical lineage proving that she was the descendant of one of the noblest families of Spain and the sole heir to the Poralta [grant of Arizona. He tells how he searched the archives of Spain and forged and stole ancient documents; how he and his wife were received by royal and noble families, and how he built up document by document a title to millions. REAYTS' confessioi I I ai r Scoi dents with ;i U*aditional Spa extraction in the i '••ra tions. Three of my great grand parents fought in . the revolution. I was reared in Henry County. Mo. In May, 1861, at the age of 18, I enlisted in the Confederate army and during my life as a soldier committed my first crime. I forged an order and being successful in this I raised a furlough, and before this expired I surrendered to the Union f<>r< ■ After the war I worked as a street car conductor but subsequently opened a real estate office in St. Louis. I was successful in forging a title to sustain a tax title to Borne valuable land I had bought, not knowing the title was im perfect. But these are incidents in ■which th^re is little interest. However, success in these early evils sowed the 6eed that later sprang forth into the most gigantic fraud of this century. The plan to secure the Peralta grant and defraud the Government out of land valued at $100,000,000 was not con -1 in a day. It was the result of a series of crimes extending over nearly a Kcore of years. At first the stake was small, but it grew and grew in magni tude until even I sometimes -was ap palled at the thought of the possibili ties. I was playing a game which to •win meant greater wealth than that of a Gould or a Vanderbilt. My hand con stantly gaiped strength, noted men pleaded my cause and unlimited capi tal was at my command. My opponent -tvas • rnment and I baffled its agents fit every turn. Gradually I be came absolutely confident of Mirv<--ss. As I nearer! the verge of triumph I was exultant and sure. Until the very mo ment of my downfall I gave no thought to failure. But my sins found me out and as in the twinkle of an eye I saw the millions which had seemed already In my grasp fade away and heard the courts doom me to a prison cell. Now I am growing old and the thing hangs upon me like a nightmare until I am driven to make a clean breast of it all, that I may end my days in peace. The first I ever knew of the Peralta prant was when Dr. George M. Will ing walked Into my real estate office in Ft. Louis and told me that he had a land grant of fabulous proportions in Arizona and wanted me to \ake hold of it. After a number of Interviews I do elded to give my whole time to the mat ter. Just as I wae about to ptart for the West my health gave away completely and I was forced to abandon the trip. For two years I remained an invalid at my father's home in Vernon County, Mo. One night I had a dream that warned me that I should start for Cali fornia. I left immediately with scarce ly any money and without preparations for tho journey. Once in California mv health improved and after two more years I returned to my father's home for my wife. She refused «yen to see me and to appease my conscience I placed what means I had accumulated CONFESSION OF DERALTA-REAVIS, THE KING OF FORGERS at her disposal and returned to St. Louis. Four years had elapsed since I had talked with Willing. About this tim*> I received a letter from Mrs. Willing: reciting the death of her husband and proposing that I resume the grant matter. I entered into a contract with her and returned to California. Here my money ran out and I went to work on the Los An geles Daily Star. Subsequently I work- Ed on daily papers in Ran Francisco and all the prominent extreme West ern papers. During these months the land grant was in my memory but I did not have the means to examine further Into the matter. The contest between Jay Gfcoull acd. the Southern Pacific railroad was then at its height. - The Southern Pacific right of way. as surveyed ran through the Peralta grant. I went to Hunting ton, Stanford and Crocker with the Willing 'title and they advance. j-^o rno^gy f i-i tT ji'«V'Bilil'i^Bi" " ll |""' <l " : tv. I went immediately tb Arizona and there, after much patient research and a trip to Mexico, learned that the Willing: title was purely mythical. The way of it was this: October 20, 1864, In Black Canyon, Yavapai County*. Ari zona, there existed a mining camp, the principal persons of the camp being Dr. George M. Willing of St. Louis, Don Antonio Pablo Peralta, his son Miguel Peralta, Don Jose Ybarra, M. Bernatto Guiness, Don Rafael Ma chado, Don Manuel Ramon and Charles Lovejoy, a friend of Willing. Among these originated the idea of the Peralta grant. Another mythical per son executed a deed of this parole grant to Dr. Willing, the paper recit ine: that the grant had been ceded to the father of the maker of the deed by tho King of Spain for military serv ices in 1158 and that he had been forc ed to abandon it on account of hostile Indians. It embraced 300 square leagues of land located along the Gila River, thirty leagues from east to west by ten leagues wide, resting its western border upon the eastern line of the Pima reservation. One of the alleged witnesses, M. Bernatto Guineas, was a Frenchman who afterward located in business in I.os Angeles, Cal.. but died before he explained. Ms part in the matter, as SAN FRANCISCO, SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 1899. flld also Don Antonio Pablo Peralta, The only other Mexican, Don Rafael MachadO of Rosario, Lower California, affirmed that a Spaniard named Miguel Peralta made the deed. The writing was more that of Don Pablo, and he suited the hero of Willing's tale bet ter Than Miguel Peralta. Willing represented that he had given a^ pack train of sixteen mule?, valued at $22,000, for the land. This re cites in a nutshell all I could determine about the grant. Becoming certain that Pinalto. the name given as the maker of the deed, was a myth, I forged the documents necessary to shift the title into the Pe ralta family. Immediately the Peraltas became so numerous that I realized that a title in their names would never do. After considering the matter sev eral months I decided to again shift the title into pome noble family of Spain that had become extinct. In the meantime I traveled much In the towns where I could gain informa tion concerning the men who might be interested In this title. I talked with old residents and stored my mind with many incidents that proved of great value in later years. But I will pass quickly over this period and come down to the time when the great fraud as it was presented to the Government be par. to.- take shape in my r-ind. .During, .these travels, I met a young Spanish- • girl. Her features rather in clined-to the Jewish type;,her eyes were laFge and of darkest .hazel : : a profusion . of black and silken hair hung in a great ' mass below her waist; the delicate lines of .her body and her exquisite grace and fascination told of noble-Spanish ances try "She.was of splendid physique. elas . lic-'step.^nd a superb, dancer. She was * a t 'home in th« water or'on a hrvr?e and was an adept with rod, gun. or lariat. .-. I inquired • into the j history of this child of nature and found-, that she had been reared from ,her earliest recollec- 1 tion in the fastness, of -the mountains remote from civilization. No one knew the history of her birth. Investigation only threw a deeper mystery about her parentage. From a baby she had only Indian children for playmates, having: been raised by a ranchero's family who sold her into bondage to John W. Snowball and wife. "Those who might have known her history had died, and the ranchero. claimed that the child was an Indian waif whose parentage was unknown. . I became Infatuated with her ■ ana also saw. in her a possible heir to the Peralta grant. I Induced her to accom pany me and returned to San Fran cisco. I made a satisfactory showing of a partial title (which I had forged with the aid of the Willing title) and John "W. Mackay stood sponsor for me to go to Spain for the purpose of com pleting the title and determining of what lands the grant actually con sisted. I had a guarantee of $500 per. (Continued on Page Thirty-Two.)