People on the Trail – Point of Rocks


“The Santa Fe Trail – Its History, Legends, and Lore”

David Dary

A caravan belonging to James Brown of Pettis County Missouri was more fortunate than James White’s. Brown’s twenty wagons filled with new merchandise heft Independence for Santa Fe in September, and it had no difficulties until it reached a point about forty miles beyond the Arkansas River in mid-November. There a severe three-day snowstorm stranded the wagons thirty miles from any timber for firewood. The oxen died. Ten men were left in charge of the wagons while the others started walking back to Missouri to purchase new oxen. They got to Independence in January and began to organize a relief train with provisions and fresh oxen, which did not heave Missouri until early March but reached the stranded men before the month was over. They also found another stranded Santa Fe trader, Moses Goldstein of Independence, and seven of his men. The relief party learned that the stranded men had had to burn two wagons while waiting for help.’’

In mid-September 1849, Francis X. Aubry organized a large caravan in the town of Kansas, Missouri, and set out for Santa Fe. In addition to Aubry’s own vehicles there were ten wagons belonging to another trading firm and thirteen wagons belonging to James M. White, who had opened commission and forwarding houses in El Paso and Santa Fe the previous year. White was taking his family and a few servants to Santa Fe. About October 23, following a snowstorm and very cold weather, and only about seven days out of Santa Fe, White decided to rush ahead with his family in two carriages. He left his wagons with Aubry and headed toward Santa Fe. About two days later, near Point of Rocks, nearly a hundred Jicarilla Apaches attacked the two carriages and killed six men in the party, including White. The Indians took captive Mrs. White, her daughter, and a black woman servant. Aubry and his caravan reached Santa Fe a day after news of the massacre arrived. He sent word to friends in Las Vegas, Taos, and other nearby villages to send out Pueblo Indians and Mexicans to negotiate the return of the captives, and a reward of more than a thousand dollars was offered for Mrs. White’s safe return. Aubry and others contributed substantially to the reward. Numerous rescue parties tried unsuccessfully to locate the Apaches. Kit Carson reportedly rode with one party, but no trace of the missing woman was found until an army search party in November tracked and found the Apaches and Mrs. White. Before the soldiers could rescue the woman, the Apaches killed her in sight of the troops with an arrow through the heart. Then they fled. The black woman servant and White’s daughter were nowhere to be found, but two years later a girl matching the description of the daughter was seen living with Comanches. There was much speculation that die girl had survived and been sold to the Comanches, but her fate was never determined.

“The Santa Fe Trail – It’s History, Legends and Lore”
By David Dary
Alfred A. Knopf; Borzoi Book  – New York, 2001

ISBN 0-375-40361-2