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Eugene Middleton
Birth: Feb. 7, 1861
California, USA
Death: Apr. 24, 1929
Globe
Gila County
Arizona, USA

Eugene Middleton.
Born: February 7, 1861
Died: April 24, 1929
Note* Headstone indicates birth in 1860, while the death certificate indicates birth in 1861.
Father: William Middleton
Wife: Elvira Middleton
Death by natural causes
Undertaker: Jones Funeral Home, Globe, Arizona

KELVIN GRADE MASSACRE

Friday, November 1, 1889, dawned cool and overcast. Sheriff Glenn Reynolds appeared at the jail early to pick up the prisoners for the long, two-day haul to Casa Grande where they would then take the train to Yuma. Reynolds collected the prisoners' commitment papers from the county clerk, and $400.00 expense money from the county treasurer for the trip. He had chosen to hire the Middleton Stage Line, a private stage company owned by Eugene Middleton to transport the prisoners. Middleton had recently purchased a new heavy-duty thoroughbrace Concord coach that was considered by the sheriff roomy and sturdy enough for the job. Inside the coach were three wide seats, one had it's back to the driver, the other two faced the front.

There were several stage companies in the area, including the Texas and California Stage Company, and the Idaho Stage Line, but Reynolds seemed comfortable dealing with Eugene Middleton, even though Middleton himself had had a number of disastrous brushes with the Apaches. At first, Middleton was not anxious to take on the job of transporting the Indian prisoners that weekend. As far as he was concerned, the less he had to do with Apaches, the better.

Eugene Middleton was born in California in 1860. The son of William and Meriam Middleton, Eugene was one of the older boys of this large, hard working family. Sometime during the late 1870's the Middletons settled in Pleasant Valley, owning the first herd of blooded cattle to be seen in that section of Arizona. Of the twelve Middleton children, six younger ones still lived at the ranch with their parents, when on September 2, 1881 they were attacked by seven renegade Apaches spoiling for a fight following the Cibecue affair at fort Apache.

Mrs. Middleton gave a loaf of bread to what she thought were friendly Apaches, who had really shown up with an eye on the Middleton horse herd. Two young cowboys named Turner and Moody (Turner was engaged to a Middleton daughter, Hattie) hung around the front porch of the house; they were the first to be shot, dying instantly as the Indians' gunfire raked the yard. The rest of the family locked themselves up in the house. Shooting back, young Henry Middleton, Eugene's little brother, took a bullet in the shoulder through a crack in the log wall.

After three hours, the Indians finally gave up the attack and rode off with seventy-five Middleton horses, after killing Middleton's beautiful black stallion. William Middleton secured one horse left behind, and rode for help. But he returned in the morning with only one neighbor he could find who was willing to face Apaches—a man named Mr. Church carrying a rifle with just one cartridge. The entire Middleton clan had no choice but to start out on foot for Globe, a distance of seventy miles. They were met at a place called Sombrero Butte by their elder son Eugene, who had a job in Globe. He heard there were Indians on the loose and got worried about the family.

After the murder of his sister's fiancé right there on the Middleton front porch, and the wounding of his younger brother, Eugene was sick and tired of bad Indians. Wanting to do something about it, he was quick to join a volunteer civilian group who called themselves the "Globe Rangers," dedicated to ridding the countryside of renegade Apaches. But this group was soon disbanded after the Indians stole their horses. Weary of Indian trouble, the Middletons sold the ranch to George Newton and J.J. Vosburgh and moved to town. The Middletons were probably lucky, since this quite likely saved them from being mixed up in the deadly Pleasant Valley War that was soon to erupt.

This then was Eugene Middleton, scheduled to drive the stagecoach loaded with convicted Apaches to Casa Grande. It was said Eugene Middleton did not want the job at first, but finally gave in to Reynolds because they were good friends. The morning of their departure Middleton handled his restless teams while Sheriff Reynolds, accompanied by William "Hunkydory" Holmes, and Deputies Floyd Blevins and Jerry Ryan, handcuffed the Apaches and marched them out of jail. Besides handcuffs, Kid and the rest of the convicts wore leg irons. After the convicts and Hunkydory Holmes were safely inside the coach, Sheriff Reynolds mounted his horse Tex.

Reynolds carried a double barreled shotgun loaded with buckshot, his pistol was a Colt .45. Hunkydory had a lever-action Winchester and a pistol. Middleton carried a pistol. In the cool dawn the coach headed south from Globe to the 66 Ranch where Middleton stopped at the tollgate giving access to the Globe-Pinal summit toll road. Sheriff Reynolds paid $7.00 covering charges for the stagecoach, horses, and twelve people. From there it was the long slow haul to the summit at Pioneer Pass. Through the pine forests, mid-morning stirred with cool fall air and the sounds of the straining horses and lumbering coach. For now, the Apaches remained mostly sullen and silent. At the little camp at Pioneer, the prisoners were off-loaded to have their mid-day meal with Middleton, the sheriff, and Hunkydory. Holsters changed horses and greased the stage. It was remembered later a small crowd of woodcutters gathered around, watching the officers and Apache prisoners with much curiosity.

Shortly after finishing their meal, the Apaches were herded back inside the coach and everybody proceeded on their journey. It must certainly have been on the minds of the convicted men they were seeing their beloved wilderness for perhaps the last time as they headed for dreaded Yuma.

The Yuma Territorial Prison had been in operation since 1875, fourteen years already, and horror stories about the place were easy to come by. Called "Hell-Hole" by inmates, it was located at the top of a gravel road called Prison Hill. In view of both the Colorado and Gila Rivers, the prison was built on solid rock, the cells themselves carved out of the sides of the hill, the doors were iron gates. Hardcore prisoners were kept busy breaking rocks; sunstroke was not uncommon. Guards on the tower with their gatling guns kept most from considering escape.

Ex-Apache convicts (like Nah-deiz-az) who had survived Yuma were full of stories about those who disobeyed being thrown in a ten by ten cell known as the "snake-den," where shackled prisoners slept on the ground, subsisting on bread and water. Here they were not even given a blanket or mattress; prisoners "used" a corner of the cell for sanitary purposes. It is not known if it was really true that sadistic guards dropped snakes through the barred overhead door, but to superstitious Apaches who had not seen much of the outside world, they were quick to believe it.

Temperatures at Yuma soared to 120 degrees in summer day time, and to below freezing in winter. Prisoners had little ventilation except where air passed through grated windows. They were given one blanket and a straw tick for a mattress. Colds quickly developed into pneumonia, and tuberculosis was rampant. To Apaches who had never acquired immunity to tuberculosis through prior exposure, they were especially vulnerable to this deadly disease. Coupled with their emotional trauma of confinement in close quarters, and usual confusion over their sentencing with sudden loss of old freedoms and tribal customs, few Apache prisoners left Yuma alive.

Meanwhile, Hunkydory Holmes took it upon himself to cheer everybody up. While clattering up a two-mile incline known as Chalk Hill, Hunkydory began spouting poetry. While it is not known definitely if he sang his favorite verse to the Apaches at this moment as they traveled steadily toward Yuma territorial prison, the following was sung by him to the tune of Limerick Races around Globe saloons and boarding houses. Written by Hunkydory himself it went like this:

Hunkydory
Oh, I am a jolly miner lad,
Resolved to see some fun sir,
To satisfy my mind
To Phoenix town I came sir
Oh, what a pretty place
And what a charming city
Where the boys are so gay
And the squaws they are so pretty

Chorus
Ma sha ring a ding a da.
Sha ring a ding a dadi oh,
Sha ring a ding a da
And hooray for Hunkydory.

Oh, there are fiddlers playing Jake,
and boys and squaws are dancing,
All strapped upon their fines
Around the rooms are prancing
Some are drinking whiskey punch
Whilst others buck at monte
Hooray for Phoenix town
In Maricopa County!

Chorus
Oh, when a greenhorn comes to town
And into Monte's bank we get him;
No sooner is he there
Than his money he is betting
He loses every time he gets,
And the banker, in his glory,
Cries out very loud
Oh, boy! I'm Hunkydory

Chorus
Oh, the farmers they're all right
Whilst in the water digging,
And the merchants in the shade
The whiskey they are swigging;
but when the crop is off
The merchants in their glory,
For it's then that grain goes up
And they are Hunkydory!

Chorus
Oh, when a man is poor
His relations all but shun him,
And if he owes a bill
His creditors will dun him;
But let him make a strike--
Then it's quite a different story,
For then they'll crowd around
To see him hunkydory.

The Apaches quite likely had a healthy respect for Sheriff Reynolds, but they did not think much of Hunkydory Holmes or his singing. They were quick to notice he carried a bottle of whiskey.

While the singing was going on, Sheriff Reynolds took the opportunity to do a little target practice by drilling holes in prickly pear cactus with his .45. Middleton trotted his horses down the last seven-mile grade, hoping to reach the Gila River since drizzling rain had by now broken into a downpour. Reaching the river's north bank, Middleton and the sheriff decided it was a good idea to hurry across before heavy rains caused the river to rise. They got safely across, finally sloshing along the muddy road to Riverside Station. They were now 40 miles south of Globe, having been on the road since five a.m. that morning.

Located in Pinal County, at an elevation of 1840 feet, the Riverside Stage Station was inaugurated in 1877 at the little town of Kelvin established by the Ray Mining Company. Named by Lord Gordon for Kelvin Grove, Scotland, it was known in the early days as Ray Junction.

The Riverside Stage Station was a hostelry with good well water, food, and a place to stay for overnight guests. According to William "Timberline Bill" Sparks, the Riverside Station also provided alcoholic beverages for weary travelers. Here the Apache convicts were unloaded for the night, while Sheriff Reynolds and Eugene Middleton greeted S.C. (Shorty) Sayler, the driver of the incoming Tucson-to-Globe stagecoach. Sheriff Reynolds assured Sayler his Tucson passengers would not be molested by the Apache prisoners.

It was reported later by Eugene Middleton that he and the Apaches, Reynolds, and Holmes had a good meal of Irish stew, rice pudding, bread and coffee. Afterwards the Apaches were placed counterwise on a bench with their backs to the wall facing their guards, while securely fastened in irons for the night. Any sleep the Apaches got was in a sitting position. Jesus Avott was allowed to sit alone in a chair without being handcuffed. Reynolds and Holmes took turns "watching" throughout the night. They also patronized Riverside Station's well-stocked bar.

Middleton rallied everybody at dawn, hoping to leave by five o'clock if they were to make the four o'clock afternoon train to Casa Grande for Yuma. He was nervous about the upcoming steep climb at Kelvin Grade they would have to negotiate four miles southwest of Riverside on the Gila. This place was also known as "Ripsey Wash." He knew the prisoners would have to get out of the coach and walk in order to lighten the load for the horses. The wet rainy weather meant steep footing for the horses who had trouble hauling a heavy load up this hill even when the roads were dry. It was not unusual for passengers to have to get out and "push" at Kelvin Grade.

After four o'clock breakfast, November 2, 1889, the prisoners were walked outside and loaded onto the stage. Here, for some reason Sheriff Reynolds made another fatal mistake. He decided to leave his horse at Riverside Station. Two Apaches rode up on top with Middleton. Reynolds and Holmes sat inside on the first seat with the Apaches crammed into the other two seats. Jesus Avott rode behind in the boot.

Years later, Eugene Middleton would say that for some reason his four horses were unusually fractious that morning. Bolting down the road, Middleton took some time to get the galloping team under control while the passengers hung on, swaying with the movements of the jostling coach. The landscape between Riverside and Kelvin Grade was wildly beautiful with cholla-studded barrancas blending into slashed-up hills covered with thorn bushes, mesquite, and prickly pear. Legions of brazen saguaro lifting bristled arms aloft stood like silent sentinels against the dawning sky. This was a harsh, lonely land, hot in the summer, cold in the winter, an unforgiving high desert land where men who made mistakes did not live long.

In the foggy dawn the stagecoach reached the foot of a high, cactus-covered ridge where the road turned up the steep sandy wash Middleton had been concerned about. The horses would not be able to pull the coach up Kelvin Grade with a full load of passengers.

Leaving Eugene Middleton in the seat to handle his team, Reynolds and Holmes got out, ordering Avott and the handcuffed Apaches out of the coach. Kid and Hos-cal-te, handcuffed individually and both still in leg irons, were considered too dangerous to be allowed out, and were told to stay inside.

Middleton urged his horses forward, and the stagecoach gradually pulled ahead of the line of men straggling behind. Sheriff Reynolds walked in the lead, followed by the prisoners who were handcuffed in pairs; Say-es to El-cahn, Has-ten-tu-du-jay to Bi-the-ja-be-tish-to-ce-an, and Bach-e-on-al to Hale. The morning being cold and wet, Sheriff Reynolds wore gloves and had his heavy overcoat buttoned over his holster and pistol. Reynolds carried his shotgun over his arm. Jesus Avott walked alone near the sheriff, Hunkydory Holmes brought up the rear carrying a rifle.

Edging close to the sheriff, Say-es and El-cahn saw their chance. As the stagecoach pulled out of view, they pounced suddenly on Reynolds, holding him between themselves with their handcuffed arms while they grappled for his shotgun. At the same instant Bach-e-o-nal and Hale whirled on Hunkydory Holmes, knocking him to the ground. Seizing Holmes' rifle, Bach-e-on-al shot Holmes, killing him instantly. Next, he turned the gun on Sheriff Reynolds who was unable to free his pistol from under his buttoned coat.

Meanwhile, the terrified Mexican, Jesus Avott, reasoning if he tried to interfere the sheriff might think he was in on the plot, ran ahead up the hill to try to warn Eugene Middleton. The Apaches were busy stripping Reynolds' and Holmes' bodies of guns, coats, money, watches, and manacle keys. Taking no interest in Sheriff Reynolds' gloves, the Apaches did not realize he was wearing a valuable ring; it was later found still on his hand and returned to Mrs. Reynolds.

Eugene Middleton said later, having heard the shots fired he did not think anything of it because Reynolds had been target practicing since the trip began. When Middleton finally heard the terrifed Jesus Avott calling him, he stopped his horses and looked back not realizing at first what was happening. The Mexican was shouting something about the Apaches having killed Sheriff Reynolds and Hunkydory Holmes. Middleton told him to get into the coach. But Jesus Avott decided it was safer to run into the bushes since it didn't look like the confused Middleton was going anywhere soon, and besides, Avott saw murderous Bach-e-on-al coming up the road with a gun.

The next thing Eugene Middleton knew Bach-e-on-al stood at the side of the coach taking aim with Hunkydory Holmes' rifle. As Middleton ducked, a rifle shot cracked through the air. A bullet plowed through Middleton's mouth and neck, barely missing his teeth and spinal cord, rendering him temporarily paralyzed. He toppled to the ground, but did not lose consciousness throughout the ordeal.

Laying in a pool of blood oozing from the gaping wound in his neck, Eugene Middleton realized the Apaches had gathered around the coach and were seeing Hos-cal-te and Apache Kid free. The Apaches then surrounded Middleton, relieving him of his possessions while El-cahn raised a rock over Middleton's head. Suddenly it was Apache Kid who stopped El-cahn, grabbing his arm and for a few moments the Apaches had an angry discussion before El-cahn dropped the rock. Middleton's life was saved. The Apaches took everything of value and melted rapidly into the wilderness; ten years later a pair of rusted shackles would be found in the rocks a hundred yards from the murder scene. But for now, on this cold and rainy morning in November of 1889, the largest manhunt in the history of Arizona was about to begin.

The saving of Eugene Middleton's life has turned into one of those intriguing incidents in the events surrounding the outlaw career of Apache Kid. In the telling and re-telling of this part of the story, perhaps Eugene Middleton himself added to the folklore while re-hashing these events to spellbound listeners during his later years. One story told by some writers is that one of the Apaches planned to shoot Middleton when Middleton heard the Kid say, "Don't, he's dead already, save the bullet." Saving the bullet sounds reasonable, but why would the Kid have made the remark in English? Unless he wanted Middleton to know he was saving his life? Another author, Dan Williamson who was a personal friend of Middleton and spoke with him many times about the event, said El-cahn was going to smash Middleton's head with a rock, but Kid, noticing Middleton was still alive did not permit it. Middleton thought because he had shared cigarettes with Kid at Riverside Station the night before, his little act of kindness may have saved his life. Whatever the real truth behind Kid's action might have been, after taking Middleton's coat, gun, and valuables, the Apaches did not harm him further.

Staggering to his feet after the Apaches disappeared, Middleton realized he was too weak to climb up onto the stagecoach. Handling the cumbersome vehicle and four horses back to Riverside Station would be impossible; he decided to walk. Crawling, stumbling, fighting nausea, he came across the bodies of Sheriff Reynolds and Hunkydory Holmes. From here he somehow made it back to Riverside where passengers just departing on the Globe-bound stage saw the stricken man swaying up the road.

Agreeing to take care of the wounded Middleton, the passengers stayed with him at Riverside while the Tucson stage driver, Shorty Sayler, decided he could make better time warning of the fugitive Apaches by riding Reynolds' horse to Globe. He covered the forty mile route over the mountains in record time, changing mounts at Pioneer, arriving in Globe at Noon.

Dan Williamson, telegrapher at San Carlos, said, "I happened to be the receiving operator and hastened to Al Sieber with terrible news, whose comment was, ‘I was afraid of that, and that was my reason for offering the scout escort to Casa Grande.' From his bed, Sieber directed a scout detail of twenty men under Lt. Watson to take the trail from San Carlos." Troop G of the 4th Cavalry, under Lts. Wilder and Hardman, also left for the murder scene, while troops and scouts were rushed from half a dozen other Arizona posts.

Deputy Sheriff Jerry Ryan now taking Reynolds' place as sheriff, first went to Mrs. Reynolds and then to the Middleton family with the tragic news. At that point nobody was sure if Eugene Middleton would live after Saylers vivid descriptions of his wound. The Middleton's hurriedly departed for Riverside with Doctor Largent. Ryan telegraphed Capt. John L. Bullis, at San Carlos and finally Sheriff Jerry Fryer at Florence about the escape. The killings had occurred in Pinal County, now it was Sheriff Fryer who would be in charge of the investigation.

Meanwhile, Jesus Avott was having adventures of his own. Back at Kelvin Grade, he hid in the brush and waited until the Apaches disappeared before approaching the abandoned stagecoach. He found no more of Eugene Middleton than a pool of blood in the road. Cutting one of the stagecoach horses loose, he mounted in hopes of riding to Florence for help. But the horse promptly bucked him off.

At that instant Andronico Lorona, a wrangler herding a dozen horses over the hill from Zellewager Ranch noticed the stalled stagecoach. He drove his herd in close to take a look. Discovering Avott, and hearing the scary news of eight Apache convicts on the loose, Lorona cut out a gentle horse from his remuda and allowed Avott to ride it to Florence. Lorona galloped back to the ranch to report to his foreman what had happened. The foreman sent several cowboys to the murder scene to guard the bodies of Reynolds and Holmes until help arrived. (For his part in all this, Jesus Avott was given a pardon and did not have to serve time at Yuma Prison.)

Back in Globe, Deputy Sheriff Ryan received a telegram from Sheriff Fryer in Florence that a coroner's jury and sheriff's posse were on their way to Riverside. At the same time, Capt. Bullis at San Carlos notified Ryan by wire that his troops would be sent as soon as orders were received. General Miles had already been notified, and shortly thereafter the adjutant General's office at Washington, D.C., received the report two peace officers had been slain by Apache convicts from San Carlos, thus bringing the federal government into the case.

And so it happened at last. Caught up in strange circumstances mostly beyond his control, Kid was now a fugitive. There was no turning back. Sheriff Reynolds and Hunkydory Holmes were dead, and at the moment he had no way of knowing if Middleton would survive. Kid had been in the army long enough to know what was in store for him now. He would be hunted down by scouts, former friends who would show no mercy; Apache scouts as clever and adept at trailing and killing as kid himself was trained to be. The scouts had their duty; there would be no quarter.

But on the other hand, Kid had already served his timein the guardhouse at San Carlos and at Alacatraz Island—sixteen months of his life in captivity for some vague reasons he did not entirely understand. And he had just spent several weeks in the Globe jail., followed by another unfair trial. He had been deceived by his old friend Sieber, and was now faced with a long stretch at Yuma, a place he would not likely survive. The most curious thing about Sieber's relationship with Apache Kid was Sieber's about-face after their long friendship. While it is true Sieber was seriously wounded during the scout mutiny at San Carlos, everyone agreed, including Sieber himself, that Kid was innocent of the actual shooting. Kid's feelings of having been betrayed by Sieber before, during and after the trial at Globe no doubt caused him a great deal of bitterness, yet, as far as it is known Kid never tried to get even.

Well, it was done. Kid was involved in murder. From here on he turned his actions and thoughts to his own survival; nothing more. Leaving Kelvin Grade, Kid and the Apaches felt the stinging November ice-rain turning into snow; swirling white powder soon covered their tracks. In twenty-four hours a posse would arrive on the scene, but few white men would ever lay eyes on Apache Kid again.

The Globe Silver Belt announced on November 4, 1889:

The bodies of Reynolds and Holmes were brought to Globe yesterday afternoon. Reynolds was shot in the face and head with his own shotgun loaded with buckshot, and is disfigured almost beyond recognition. Holmes was shot through the heart. Middleton was taken to Florence and will probably recover. The funerals of Reynolds and Holmes will be held this afternoon.

The double funeral took place. Both men were buried in the Globe cemetery. Sheriff Reynolds was laid to rest alongside his infant son, George in the Masonic plot. Holmes' grave was not marked.

Military and civilian authorities launched a colossal manhunt for the escapees. By the summer of 1890, all the fugitives had been killed or captured—all except the Apache Kid. By 1892, the State of Arizona offered a $6,000 reward for the Kid, and several officers were given roving commands to bring in the Kid, dead or alive. No one ever claimed the reward.

Eugene Middleton survived his face wounds and ran the Riverside stage station for several years before moving to Globe where he owned a successful apartment building. He died in 1929 of natural causes. He was 68.

Some historians believe that the Kid escaped into the Sierra Madre Mountains in Old Mexico where he lived out his life.

In 1937, a Norwegian explorer and anthropologist, Helge Ingstad, heard that renegade Apaches still lived in Mexico. Traveling deep into the Sierra Madres, Ingstad claimed he found a woman, Lupe, who was thought to be the daughter of the Apache Kid.

(Information above obtained from: The Apache Kid, by: Phyllis de la Garza and True West Magazine.) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  William Middleton (1827 - 1891)
  Nancy Miriam Tittsworth Middleton (1832 - 1920)
 
 Spouse:
  Elvira Middleton (1864 - 1953)*
 
 Siblings:
  William Henry Middleton (1858 - 1938)*
  Ella Middleton Shute (1859 - 1936)*
  Eugene Middleton (1861 - 1929)
  Hattie M Allison (1865 - 1947)*
  Idella Middleton McNelly (1871 - 1937)*
  Clifton Charles Middleton (1876 - 1949)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Inscription:
Eugene Middleton 1860 - 1929
 
Burial:
Globe Cemetery
Globe
Gila County
Arizona, USA
Plot: GPS: 33.39395 N. 110.79480 W.
 
Created by: C. Fahey
Record added: Mar 25, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 18619703
Eugene Middleton
Added by: C.C.
 
Eugene Middleton
Added by: C. Fahey
 
Eugene Middleton
Added by: C. Fahey
 
 
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- Arizonagraver
 Added: Aug. 4, 2012

- C.C.
 Added: Jan. 27, 2009
Rest in peace brother, you were a tough old son of a gun.
- C. Fahey
 Added: Mar. 25, 2007
 
This page is sponsored by: Richard S. Mickle

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