Book Title: In the Great Apache Forest (1920)
Release Date: 2017-05-07
Author: James Willard Schultz
J. W. Schultz (1859–1947) was an author, explorer, and historian known for his historical writings of the Blackfoot Indians in the late 1800s, when he lived among them as a fur trader. In 1907, Schultz published My Life as an Indian, the first of many future writings about the Blackfeet that he would produce over the next thirty years. Schultz lived in Browning, Montana. This Plains veteran's book "In the Great Apache Forest " was published in 1920 and is “real stuff,” vivid and exciting, with the value that comes from firsthand knowledge.
Considered one of the best of Schultz' Indian stories, "In the Great Apache Forest," is the true story of 17-year-old George Crosby who being too young to serve his country in France becomes a member of the forest service in Arizona, where he encounters troublesome outlaws and helps to rout them. This book satisfies the reader's love of a struggle for he is fighting not merely the forest fires but real flesh and blood villains.
The book introduces incidentally considerable interesting information about the Hopi Indians and a plea for fairer treatment of them. It is while at his lookout station high up on a hilltop that Crosby is visited by a group of Hopi Indians. One of these, trained in an American school, tells of the Indian customs. It is with these Indians' help he is able to protect the forest from a group of left-wing "fire bug" activists seeking to burn it down (members of the Industrial Workers of the World). Other antagonists include a giant grizzly and an Army deserter---both intent on causing havoc. A bit of mystery adds to the interest.
The geography on which this adventure unfolds is Apache National Forest which covered most of Greenlee County, Arizona southern Apache County, Arizona, and part of western Catron County, New Mexico. Here is a high country; the altitude of Greer is 8500 feet, and south of it there is a steady rise for eleven miles to the summit of the range, Mount Thomas, 11,460 feet. And here, covering both slopes of the White Mountains, is the largest virgin forest that we have outside of Alaska, the Apache National Forest. It is about a hundred miles wide, and more than that in length, and contains millions of feet of centuries-old Douglas fir, white pine, and spruce. The great forest still harbors an abundance of game animals and birds, and its cold, pure streams are full of trout. Here the sportsman could still find in 1918 grizzly bears, some of them of great size. There were black bears, also, and mule deer and Mexican whitetail deer, and of wild turkeys and blue grouse great numbers. Cougars, wolves, coyotes, and lesser prowlers of the night were quite numerous and in most of the streams the beavers were ever at work upon their dams and lodges.
Of Crosby and his home range, Schultz writes:
"George Crosby was born and has lived all of his seventeen years, in Greer, a settlement of a halfdozen pioneer families located on the Little Colorado River, in the White Mountains, Arizona, The settlers of Greer are a hardy people. Theirs is one continuous struggle with Nature for the necessities of life. It was then, at the opening of the war, that George Crosby considered what he could do for the good cause. Came the summer of 1918, and the Supervisor of the Apache National Forest found himself woefully short of men, and the dreaded fire season coming on. The most of his rangers, fire lookouts, and patrols had gone to the war, and he could not find enough men of the right sort to take their places. . . . With this introduction, I let George tell his story, a story that I found exciting enough. "