Sun Dublan
Ancient Inhabitants 
As we have read the Book of Mormon it reminds me of the people that anciently inhabited the Sierra Madre Mountains. Not being satisfied with the theories of the Archeologists I have supplied myself with a theory of my own. You all can provide one probably as close to the correct one as anyone.

I have long been intrigued with the puzzle and the mystery of the ancient inhabitants of the beautiful Sierra Madre Mountains.

Back when our children were growing up we loved to go into the mountains every summer. We would pack up all of the family and even some friends and go for a week's pack trip into the Sierra Madre Mountains. We would make camp in some remote canyon and spend our time fishing and hunting and just riding through the beautiful mountains. When you are riding a surefooted horse or mule it gives you the freedom to see, observe and enjoy all of the interesting surroundings and scenery.

Every where we rode we could see the signs and remains of thousands of ancient terraces. In every canyon we could see where at one time the ancients had beautiful farms and gardens on each side of the stream. Every available space was terraced to make level places for planting their crops and gardens. Every little ravine and draw on the steep side hills were terraced from top to bottom. Many were still intact while others had been washed out and were barely discernable.

Surely these beautiful terraces were not made by the fearful people who dwelt in the remote caves and hidden places. Who only felt safe in their small dark rooms with no windows and the only access a small keyhole door where no one could enter without being invited. To try to solve this puzzle we went to the Book of Mormon.

After the coming of Christ the people multiplied and lived in peace and prosperity and filled the land from the north to the South and from the east sea to the west sea.

"And they had all things common among them; therefore there were no rich or poor, bond and free, but they were all made free and partakers of the heavenly gift".
"And now, I Mormon would that ye should know that the people had multiplied insomuch that they had spread upon all of the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich because of their prosperity in Christ."
...and surely there could not have been a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

After reading of these people we could imagine those happy people toiling in the sunlight building for the future. Toiling to make gardens and little farms. Working together to move huge boulders into place in the walls of their terraces. Planting their gardens and little patches of food crops. Ingeniously providing for the rain to water the gardens without washing away the precious soil. How long were they used perhaps a hundred years or more then the evil of war and contention came into that peaceful land and gathered men women and children out of the remote corners of the mountains. Taking with them their precious food and animals into the protection of the walls of the cities.

There in the walled up city they had to use all of their precious food supply including their goats sheep and cattle. Even their horses and mules and Burros to be eaten one at a time to hold off starvation. The siege from without the walls was sustained by the ferocious enemy until they had used up all of their own food supply and the wild game for miles around and as far as they could forage for anything that would sustain strength and life. For those without there was no time or inclination to plant and nurture the food on the beautiful Terraces. While those within could only remember and dream of some day returning to their happy homes in the mountains.

Near the end after tens of thousands had been hewn down I will quote the words of Mormon that great Nephite General:

"and behold they came to battle against us and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers. And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword and with the bow and with the arrow and with the ax and with all manner of weapons of war. And it came to pass that my men were hewn down, yea even my ten thousand who were with me. And I fell wounded in the midst: and they passed by me and did not put and end to my life. And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty four of us (among whom was by son Moroni) we having survived the dead of our people. Did behold on the morrow, the Lamanites had returned to their camps, did behold from the top of the hill Cumorah the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down being led in the front by me. And we also beheld the ten thousand of my people who were led by my son Moroni".
Mormon continues telling of each general and their ten thousand. They were Lamah, Gilgal, Limhah, Jeneum, Cumenihah, Moronihah, Antionum, Shiblon, Shem, Josh, plus ten more who had fallen with their ten thousand each. These were the fighting men who had fallen with their Women and children.

And Moroni says later:

"and now it came to pass after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold the Nephites that had escaped into the land southward were hunted down by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed. And my father also was killed by them and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people."
"And behold also the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of the land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed, and no one knoweth the end of the war."

After reading these events we could imagine a man gathering his family and kindred and fleeing to the south to seek refuge and protection in the remote caves of the Sierra Madre. There to build their dark rooms with only a keyhole entrance that would be easily protected even with a good club. We have seen many caves that were completely walled up except for one little keyhole door as entrance to the whole big cave filled with dwellings.

I remember especially one big cave that the only access was a little trail along the cliff that led to one little keyhole door. Inside was a spacious cave with dwellings on one side with space for food storage on the other and in the middle was a big rock basin about twenty feet across and about two feet deep that could be filled with water to last for a long time. Along that same cliff back in the corner of the head of the canyon there was another bigger cave that was all walled up except for a little keyhole entrance. This one contained more dwellings and plenty of storage space but no water basin. However there was a constant drip of water coming from above just outside the door.

In our imaginations we could see that after they had settled down in relative peace they began to spread out and build in the open where they could accommodate larger populations. Also they would begin to plant their crops of corn and build places of storage. In many caves we found that they built Olla shaped storage bins with grass and willows plastered on the outside and inside with clay making a smooth surface on the outside so that the rodents could not get into their grain. Most of these storage bins were about 4 or 5 ft. high with the opening on the top being big enough for a man to get in or out and easily put in the corn or take it out.

In the case of the big Olla cave in cave valley the man went bigger with his storage bin. It was about 10 ft. high and about 9 ft. in diameter. He necessarily had to build it with poles through at intervals to provide a ladder to climb in and out of the storage bin. It was plastered very smooth on the outside and inside and shaped to keep out the rodents. A very ingenious method of storage. He didn't make it any higher because it is as high as the cave ceiling would permit and leave just enough space to enter and store the grain.

In cave valley there is also a big mound that once was a big dwelling. It is located on flat area well above the river. This indicates a big population besides the many cave dwellings in that part of the river valley.

Once we were camped over on Black Canyon, one day we climbed up to a big mound that was located on a promontory. We were intrigued with the many evidences of a happy people living there many years ago. Naoma and I counted 29 Metates and quite a few little Molcajetes scattered around the big ruin. We walked over to the east side of the ruin and looked almost straight down to the Herradura and the river. In my minds eye I could see the graceful Indian maidens going down the steep trail with their pitched lined water baskets balanced on the heads. We could almost hear their gay laughter and chatter as they socialized on their way to the river for water.

We could see how the Herradura (horse shoe bend) was formed. As the river anciently wound around the ridges that came down to the river from the high mountains on either side it formed big horseshoe bends along it's path. In this particular ridge their was a low place. When and extra big flood came down it washed through the ridge leaving the big horseshoe bend high and dry. After years of wind and rain the good soil collected in the bend and provided a beautiful horseshoe farm in which to plant excellent crops in the good soil. On one end of the horseshoe we found the graveyard where undoubtedly these people brought their dead to this lovely peaceful place to lay them away. The graves were marked with rocks and were lined up in straight rows presenting a peaceful, cared for place where their loved ones were laid to rest.

Around 1200 A. D. or 1300 A. D. all of these dwellings seemed to have been abandoned. This is the mystery that awakens the imagination. What made them disappear? Was it war again or was it a great drought in the land? Or was it migrating farther south for religious beliefs in following their Priests or leaders? There is no sign of war. There are no arrow heads as there are farther north where the wars raged. Why then would these peace loving people leave their established homes their gardens and their peaceful mountains?

While I was teaching Seminary in the Academia Juarez I checked a book out of the library entitled Pioneer Stories. Among others I read the following story. Written by someone who lived as a boy in Colonia Pacheco.

He wrote as follows: As a boy in Pacheco I went with the other boys down the river with our cows. We ventured farther and farther down river until we came to cave valley. One day while exploring the surrounding country to see if we could find some caves that we had not visited, we went up a little canyon and found a cave that was very well hidden behind brush and trees a little above the canyon floor. We went in and explored each room but were curious about a room in the back that had no door. We pounded on it and it sounded hollow. We then got a sharp pole and proceeded to break a hole in the wall of that room. Finally when they had a hole big enough they decided that I should be the one to go in as I was the littlest and would fit more easily.

They put me through the hole with some difficulty and as I came down to the floor and the light came through the hole, I saw a girl sitting there. I had trouble getting in but I surely didn't have any trouble getting out. My appearance and hasty retreat frightened the other boys as I yelled there is a dead girl in there. We all hastily gathered up our cows and drove them home. About a month later a professor from some university came to town asking about caves and dwellings. Of course the story spread about what I had seen. The professor came to see me and offered me a whole dollar if I would take him to the cave that we had found. The offer of the dollar decided the matter and we went to cave valley and I took him to the cave. He proceeded to make a bigger hole with the tools he had brought with him. Once inside he found a mummified girl sitting just where I had seen her. She had long blonde hair and blue eyes and had on a blue velvet dress that was beautifully decorated with beads and designs. She had necklaces around her neck and rings on her fingers but the ends of her fingers were worn off where she had tried to claw her way out of her dark prison. By her side were two beautiful ollas, one still had a few squash seed in it but the other was empty. It had probably contained water. The professor carefully wrapped the precious mummy and took me home and left town hurriedly.

Now the questions. Who was this beautiful girl? Was she a princess or something? Was she a prisoner or was she walled up for protection and was intended to be rescued? What was happening that would bring on such drastic measures? Who could be so cruel or so concerned for her protection? Was she different from the others of her people? Well your answers are as good as mine or even as good as the professor that took her as far as that goes. I guess about the only way to find out is to ask them if we happen to meet them some day.

I some times wonder if those ancient people still inhabit their ancient dwellings or do they just come back occasionally. What do you think?

Yagui our cowboy on the ranch for many years told us the following story in all earnestness and truth. He was a very honest and truthful man and had no reason to lie or cause a sensation. He told us as follows:

I was working on the roundup for Emilio Perez and two other cowboys and I came down into the Segundo de Mayo canyon and camped on the bank of the steam near a cave dwelling that we had known for years. After supper we were lounging around the campfire resting from the hard days ride. All was quiet and peaceful and we had all been raised as cowboys in the mountains and were doing what we loved to do. We heard some horses approaching and heard voices and we thought that some of the other cowboys were coming to camp with us. Instead of coming to our camp we heard them go up to the dwelling and could hear them talking in low voices. Yagui said to his friends, "Lets go see who they are and what they are doing". Both of his companions refused saying that they didn't want to have anything to do with those Animas (spirits). Yagui continued: I sure didn't want to go up there alone it just didn't seem right. After a while and considerable talking in low voices that we could not understand we heard the horses leaving and were all relieved and went to bed. I couldn't sleep for a long time for thinking of what we had heard. The next morning we went up to the dwelling and examined the ground all around and even down where we had heard the horses cross the creek and could not find any tracks Yet our tracks were plain to see everywhere we walked.

Don Panchito Peña spent nearly all of his life in the mountains. As a boy he herded goats alone in the rugged mountains south of the Rio Aros. As a young man he had his own pack train of 30 mules and freighted supplies and machinery to the mines in those rugged mountains where there were no roads only very rugged trails. He always lined out his mules early and made camp about 3:00 in the afternoon. He spent his afternoons making his own Teguas or Saddles and Aparejos.

After marrying Don Cirilo Perez' sister he went to work for him taking care of the cattle on the old General's ranch. He was a man that could braid a beautiful Riata from a cow hide or take an ax and build a cabin in 5 days with a shingled roof and all. He told us the following story:

I was camped on the beautiful mesa up on the bluff on the west of the Black Canyon River. I was milking cows and making cheese, this was to help tame the cows and make a little extra money with the cheese. After the milking was done and the cheese all in the press I would sit in the shade of a big tree in my camp and sew the leather goods that I always made to keep me occupied. As soon as I would sit down to sew I began to hear voices talking. At first I would get up and go try to find out who was talking but soon decided that it must be the people that used to live there in the many mounds of ruins that dotted the mesa. At first I would listen and try to understand what they were saying but could never understand any of the words just the voices talking in low pleasant tones. Soon I came to like to hear their pleasant voices and it kept me company. I was never afraid for I knew they were good people and probably visiting each other in their old home.

Well enough of the unsolved mysteries of the Sierra Madre Mountains. For this time. Maybe you can give me some of the answers.

3/6/2003 Webmaster: Troy Bowman