Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

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November 5, 1871


2007 - Grave of Frederick W. Loring at Wickenburg Massacre

Photo courtesy: Glenda Simmons


Legends of historical events will continue to have varying versions as time goes on. Fact being from the day the event occurred and was written about, there are likely several versions of the same occurrence depending on who was telling the story or who was interviewed.


Current research into Custer’s Last Stand has revealed it wasn’t as the historians would have us believe for more than a decade. Actually it turns out it was Custer’s last Route.


Another invalid point in history; Left Handed Billy the Kid, when someone discovered they processed the negative, it was reversed and Billy the Kid was in fact, right handed. Someone discovered the breach on the Winchester Billy was holding was on the left side of the gun in the picture, when in fact all breaches are on the right hand side. 


Similar to three people seeing the same accident today, they tell three different versions of the same incident. Keeping in mind communication in those days relied on eye witness interpretation. As time goes by, evidence and memories are lost, reality becomes diluted from fact. Most accounts of historical events were pure speculation and Saloon gossip. You’ve heard the expression “Perception is Reality”.


There are recorded documents that can relive a situation, but exactly how accurate is this information?


Wickenburg Saddle Club at Massacre Site



In 1988 members of the Wickenburg Saddle Club placed a plaque at the Wickenburg Massacre Site in remembrance of the tragic event.


Pat Ryland beside three graves at Wickenburg Massacre.

Two graves are male, closest to the camera identified with 7 stones, is a female.

Photo courtesy: Glenda Simmons.


November 5, 1871 at 8:00 AM found a band of eight to ten Apache Mohave Braves under the command of Chief Ochocama attacking the west bound C & A Stage from Wickenburg to Ehrenburg on the Colorado River. Shooting and killing the lead horse and wounding the other lead horse to restrict the stage from advancing farther. Virtually rendering the passengers in the Stage Coach - sitting ducks.


Such is the original Wickenburg Massacre site today. Graves of, Fredrick W. Loring (New England journalist), C.S. Adams, John Lanz, Fred W. Shoholm, W.G. Salmon, P.M. Hamel (found scalped). 


Mr. Kruger and Mollie Sheppard, escaped the massacre but Mollie Sheppard suffered three gun shots, one dangerous and died of her wounds. Mr. Kruger received one gun shot wound through the right armpit, coming out on the shoulder and two shots in his back.


Mr. Loring, the stage driver and Mr. Adams were on the creek side of the coach and were killed on the first volley of shots by the Indians. A second volley of shots rang out from three directions, both sides of the stage and from the rear.


Grave of male passenger on stage that was ambushed West of Wickenburg.

Photo by: Glenda Simmons 2007


Six graves can be identified within a twenty foot radius of the main grave with a wooden cross in a stacking of rocks. Acknowledged to be the grave of Fredrick W. Loring. 


L-R: Bonnie Helten, Pat Ryland, Jennel Breuer, Cindy Enos, Neal Du Shane

Grave of Fredrick W. Loring at Wickenburg Massacre

Photo courtesy: Glenda Simmons - 2007


Interestingly of the six graves there is one woman’s grave. Could this lone female grave be Mollie Sheppard? Some believe this is the case, others say she went on to California and died of her wounds there. Our research leads us to believe her grave is at the Wickenburg Massacre site and not in California.


The graves are laid out in a manner that would suggest they were buried where they fell. There is no pattern to the graves.


We walked about seventy five feet east of the graves of the Massacre victims and found rocks laid out in a straight line. Upon researching this second area we identified the graves of seven more males, two of which are believed to be Indian’s. But where did these graves come from? Was there a community here, was there a stage station, were these grave’s ranch hands?


Area east of Wickenburg Massacre site. Believed to be the road coming from Wickenburg, the stage was traveling west, just before the massacre.

Photo courtesy: Glenda Simmons – Nov. 2007


The land is very flat and ideal for building a ranch home or stage stop in this area with the creek running to the north of this landmark. The creek is ideal for ambush especially when the stage coach was on the south bank.


Photo Courtesy: Glenda Simmons


On the trip to the Wickenburg Massacre site you travel through interesting history, that being an abandoned Ranch. On the first trip to Wickenburg Massacre I noticed what looked to be graves. When we returned going back home we verified 6 or 7 graves we believe were ranch related.


Graves in a circle around tree in a wash near abandoned ranch.

L-R: Pat Ryland, Jenell Breuer, Neal Du Shane, Cindy Enos, Kevin Hart

Photo courtesy: Glenda Simmons


Frederick W. Loring and his mule “Evil Merodach”. Expedition of 1871

Photographer T.H. O’Sullivan

Courtesy: The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley


Arizona State Miner Wickenburg, Arizona


Saturday, April 18, 1925, p8


Indian Massacre Mystery of Over Fifty Years Ago


Historic Frontier Murders That Developed Into Indian Feuds and Fights


The following story from the Journal Miner of Prescott of November 11, 1871, relates a bloody affair in which five men were murdered by a band of Indians (or Mexicans dressed as Apaches or whites dressed as Apaches) by ambushing the stage on the old road nine miles northwest of Wickenburg.


"At a point nine miles from Wickenburg, a party of mounted men, either Indians or Mexicans disguised after the fashion of Apache warriors, rushed down upon the stage and as it was passing through a canyon and fired a volley into the passengers killing all but two persons, and slightly wounding these.


"The wounded Mr. Krueger and Miss Sheppard, not being disabled, sprang from the stage and started together towards Culling's station, while one detachment of the blood-thirsty demons surrounded the stage and the other went in pursuit of the fugitives, and kept up a desultory fire, which, being all mounted, was unsteady, so that only a slight wound was received by Miss Sheppard, and neither sustained further injury than the wounds inflicted from the first fire.


"The pursuit was kept up for a distance of nearly half a mile, the pursuers being kept at bay by Krueger, who still retained his revolver and fired upon them when they came too near, causing them to scatter and retreat but only to rally again to the pursuit until finally they withdrew and joined their fellows.


"The fugitives continued on their way toward Culling's Well station, until they hailed the east bound mail a few miles from that station. Here they were picked up by the driver, who retraced his steps to the station, from which point information of the calamity was sent to Wickenburg via the Vulture mine, the bearer fearing to proceed by the direct route.


"The dispatch reached Wickenburg at about midnight when two parties of citizens started for the scene; one of them to bring in the dead bodies and the other under command of George Munroe, to take the trail of the murderers.


"Upon reaching the stage, the most horrible picture was presented to their sight. Five men, Messrs Fredrick W. Loring, C.S. Adams, John Lanz, Fred W. Shoholm, W.G. Salmon, P.M. Hamel. 


Wickenburg Indian Massacre, page 2


the anticipation of soon again greeting friends after a prolonged absence lay side by side rigid in death and drenched in blood; the unavenged acts of a murder as dark and damnable as ever stained the hands of an assassin.


"The mystery which surrounds the identity of the murderers exists in the disposition of the mail and baggage. One mail sack was cut open and its contents scattered over the ground; the other was left untouched. The baggage of the passengers was broken open and while articles of little value were carried away, large sums of money and other valuables remained.


"All this would suggest the work of ignorant savages, but as neither the ammunition nor the animals had been removed, some are of the opinion that the outrage was perpetrated by a band of Mexican bandits from Sonora.


"Mr. Krueger, who really had the best opportunity of deciding this question, states positively that they were Indians, but at all events, the next mail may bring reports which will place the guilt of this terrible crime where it properly belongs, when, we hope, it will not be left to the local authorities to redress the wrong or avenge an outrage.



First Authentic Account from an Eye-Witness

Letter from a Wounded Survivor - How You Loring was Killed – The Attacking Party – A Untied States Officer’s inhumanity

From Our Own Correspondent

Boston, Saturday, Dec. 29, 1871


The relatives of the lamented Fred. W. Loring, the brilliant and promising young journalist, of whose murder, with five others, in the Indian country, last November, may conflicting reports have been printed, have receive a copy of a letter written by one of the two survivors of the party, giving the first connected account of the affair. According to this, the attacking party were certainly Indians, citizens having traced them to their reservation, and the robbery was sudden and frightful: and what is of graver importance at this time, a Untied States officer having control of the Indians charged wit the crime is made guilty for preventing all investigating, and of surprising inhumanity. I have obtained a copy of this letter for prompt publication:


Ehrenburg, Arizona Territory

Dec. 9, 1871

William G. Peckham, Esq., Trinity Building New York:


Dear Sir: In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of Nov. 16, 1871. I am pleased to be able to give you an account of the death of my friend Loring, who was well-known to me and whose untimely death is deeply regretted by me. We left Fort Whipple, near Prescott, Arizona Territory, on Saturday, Nov. 4, in the best of health and spirit. To be sure, the stage was rather crowded, but being all of such good temper we had a real nice time. Loring being the most lively of us all, anticipating a speedy return to his friend East. Well, he retained his inside seat until we reached Wickenburg, on Sunday morning, Nov. 5, 1971, when, after leaving there, he preferred to have an outside seat, to which I most decidedly objected; but he insisted on being outside for a short time. I had two revolvers and he had none; in fact, no arms whatever. He rejected my offer of a revolver, saying at the time, “My dear Kruger, we are now comparatively safe. I have traveled with Lieut. Wheeler for nearly eight months, and have never seen an Indian.” Well, we rolled on until about 11 A.M., when the fatal attack was made. The first warning I had was the warning cry of the driver, who cried “Apaches! Apaches!” At the same moment the Indians, who lay concealed, fired the first volley, killing poor Loring, the driver, and the other outside passenger, a Mr. Adams. They killed also the oft lead horse and wounded the other lead horse. The horses, very much frightened, then ran forward about twenty yards, when they come to a sudden stop. At the same time Loring fell off the stage and so the other passenger. At the same moment the Indians fired the second volley from three sides – the both sides and rear – not more than four of five yards from the stage, Killing Mr. Shoholm, one of the inside passengers, and wounding Miss Shephard (SIC), myself and a Mr. Salmon, of Lieut. Wheeler’s party. The latter one was mortally wounded and fell out of the stage, and crawled away, but was finally captured by the Indians, scalped and otherwise mutilated. The only one not then wounded was Mr. Hammet, of Lieut. Wheeler’s party. Both he and myself commenced immediately firing. Each one fired six shots. Not have any more ammunition I paused firing. The Indians then disappeared behind the bushes.

            For what a terrible spectacle it was to see the six dead bodies in plain sigh! Loring was lying right under my very eyes, not yet dead, but suffering, apparently, terribly. He was shot through the left temple, his right eye and his lungs. He suffer for about four minutes, but I was positive that he died before I made my escape. Knowing that it would be useless to attempt to escape until the Indians would come back to plunder the stage. I remained perfectly quiet, having the encaustic ascertained that Miss Shephard was yet alive, but badly wounded. She succeeded in getting a loaded revolver from one of the killed passengers, which she gave to me. I then told her to keep cool and to be ready to run as soon as I would give the signal. Well, in about six minutes a terrible suspense I saw the Indians slowly creeping toward the stage. I counted and saw plainly fifteen Indians all dressed in blue soldiers’ trousers. When they came within five yards of the stage I jumped up, yelled and fired at them. The woman, at the same time yelled also, and we succeeded adamantly in driving the off for the time being, and got back to leave. Before I left the stage I cried out as loud as I possibly could if any one was left alive, but only Mr. Adams answered; but he was mortally wounded and could not even move his hand or feet, I had to leave him to his fate. He was afterward found with his throat cut, and otherwise mutilate. The Indians afterward followed me for about five miles, and I had a running fight with them until I fell in with the “buck-board”. I had to carry the wounded woman for over two miles in my left arm. I myself received on shot through the right arm-pit, coming out on the shoulder, and two shots in my back. The woman also have three shots, one dangerous.

            How I could escape with my live, and be able to save the live of Miss Shephard, is more than I can account for. That I left my mark with the Indians, there is no doubt, because two Indians died from gun-shot wounds at Camp Date Creek Reservation; but the commanding officer refused to have the thing investigated, for fear he would find sufficient evidence that they were his pets-that is, Camp Date Creek Indians. At all events, there is no doubt whatever that the outrage was committed by Indians and the  by Camp Date Creek Indians, those so-called friendly Indians who Uncle Sam feeds.

            After the news reached Wickenburg, we were brought to Wickenburg after sixteen hours of terrible suffering and agony. I stopped at the place of attack and closed the eyes of all my poor traveling companions. Loring, poor boy, was not mutilate, but looked calm and peaceful, excepting his fearful wound through the head. He wore “soldiers’ clothing.” His hat is in my possession now; if you wish it you can have it. Loring and four of his companions in fate were decently buried the next day, Monday, Nov. 8 1877, in nice coffins. I saw them buried. The other man who got scalped was buried on the road. Mr. Sexton, of the Vulture Mine, at Wickenburg, attended to the funeral. Rest assured that our friend Loring has a decent funeral. Peace be with his ashes. I forwarded everything belonging to Loring to Lieut. Wheeler, excepting his hat, which you can have should you desire it. There are four bullet-holes through the same. What Loring lost I don’t profess to know. I know I lost everything but my life. The Indians got, to my certain knowledge, about twenty-five thousand dollars – nine thousand dollars belonging to me and Miss Shephard.

            There is not a particle of doubt in my mind that the attacking party were Indians. I have known Indians since the last five years, and cannot be mistaken; besides, all indications show that they were Indians. Every citizen here will swear to it, because those citizens tracked the Indians from place of outrage to Camp Date Creek. But the commanding officer, Capt. O’Beirne, Twenty-first Infantry, not only allowed the Indians to go unpunished, but also refused me, Miss Shephard, the two surviving cripples, shelter. Yes, Sir; he ordered us off his reservation, and I wish to heaven you would publish this ace of inhumanity in your New-Your papers. Please show this letter to Mr. Loring, Boston, Mass., who wrote to me the same time you did.

I am, Sir, very truly yours.


William Kruger

Chief Clerk to Capt. C.W. Foster, A.S.M.

United States Army, Ehrenburg, Arizona Territory


 November 5, 2008

Research Project - Update

A vast amount of research has been underway for the past two years by various coordinators within APCRP, in an attempt to clarify history. Evidence has come to light that the actual victims of  the massacre were never loaded on wagons and returned to Wickenburg nor were they ever buried in Wickenburg. APCRP has identified all six victims graves of the persons interred  in the individual graves at the massacre site. Buried where they apparently died as there is no formal alignment of the graves rather a random configuration. It is becoming apparent in the old days it was a custom to bury people exactly where they died. Expedience was the primary consideration.

Now for a new twist in the Massacre. It is well known Mollie Shepard and William Kruger escaped with their lives that fateful day. Although wounded, they were interviewed in San Francisco some time later. How is it that Mollie Shepard's grave is here making the grave victims now number seven? History often creates more questions than it answers. Many theories abound as to the way the massacre happened, who performed the massacre ranging from Indians, whites/mexican's dressed as Indians, it was a set up by Kruger and Shepard. Between them it is arguably stated they carried $20,000 to $30,000 a considerable wealth in those days. No mention of the money has ever been mentioned other that a few dollars were trying to be exchanged by some Indians at a date following the massacre. Very likely these dollars were the money the victims had on their person when they were massacred and the Indians cleaned out their pockets.

After APCRP extensive research it is our belief that in an attempt to avoid being killed themselves, Kruger and Shepard dispatched the valuables they were carrying to lighten their load. Possibly under a tree root, rock or brush along the creek as they headed west toward Culling's Well in their escape route. It has been arguably stated that Kruger was carrying military funds and the massacre may have been a cover-up to make off with the funds. We are not here to stand in judgment of who had what, rather they hid the valuables as they were escaping simply to lighten their loads. Reasoning you would not take time to bury this treasure with people chasing you, trying to kill you.

That said, and given they had time to gain their strength after the massacre. Kruger and Shepard traveled on horseback back to the massacre site avoiding main roads. Once they were in the vicinity of the Massacre Site and they recovered their treasure, a dispute occurred between Kruger and Shepard and she was stabbed, died and was buried at the site. It is also believed others were involved that knew Mollie and they killed her not Kruger.

Attached is the actual graves of the victims, we believe at the Wickenburg Massacre Site.



Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project

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