The Apache have inhabited the Superstition Mountains before 1540, the time the Spanish first arrived here. Calling the Superstitions Sacred, the Apache did not care about the yellow rock, and did not agree with the Spanish/Mexican miners coming into the Superstitions to mine for it. Because of the armed superiority
of the Spanish, the Apache could not keep them out. Some stories suggest a large Apache force finally drove the miners out in 1848, and many of the mines, except The Sombrero/Lost Dutchman, were concealed by them.
Since Spain first entered this part of the New World around 1519, they forced the inhabitants to mine for minerals. For 200 plus years they mined and sent the ore to Mexico City to be smelted, and then shipped to Spain. The amount of ore increased every year. In 1748, a large part of Northern Mexico, which included Arizona, was awarded to the wealthy Mexican family of Don Miguel Peralta, for service to Spain. The land contained several Silver and Gold mines, and for the next 100 years the family and their laborers made trips into the Superstition Mountains mining Gold and Silver from these mine and others discovered around the area. One of the mines was a Gold mine called ‘The Sombrero’ for a hill shaped like a Sombrero on the side of a mountain that overlooked the site. It is believed that sometime around 1848, the miners were aware of an impending Apache attack from a large force, so they loaded their burros with ore and headed for Mexico. They were attacked at Massacre Rock, East of Apache Junction, and the party was wiped out. It is said the party numbered around 400 and there may have been 1 survivor. The devastation of this attack on the Mexican Peralta family was profound, and no further trips were made to these mines. Mexico was also fighting wars at this time so it is possible the miners went to help out. A small group of Mexican miners continued to mine it even after Arizona became US territory in 1863.
Jacob Waltz was born in Germany in 1808. In about 1840 he emigrated to America. He went to California in the 1850s working for several mining companies. Because of his accent he was thought to be Dutch, so he was known as The Dutchman. In 1868 he left California to work in Arizona, taking odd jobs to get by. He also prospected anytime he could get out. There are different versions of how the Dutchman obtained the mine, but it is clear he found an exsisting mine.
Most stories suggests the Dutchman came upon 3 Mexican miners who were working the mine, befriended them, then killed them to work the mine. Being US Territory, the Mexicans would not have a right to be here. The Dutchman worked the mine until about 1878, then, feeling he was getting too old to make trips to the mine, he sealed it and hauled the ore he mined to 3 caches hidden in the mountains. The Dutchman would then make trips to a cache whenever he needed money. In 1891, a flash flood destroyed his farm and stranded him for several days. He caught pneumonia, and a few weeks later, Oct. 25, 1891, Jacob Waltz died. During his illness he was cared for by a friend named Julia Thomas. For her kindness he revealed to her the location of one of his caches. She looked for the cache but never found it. On his deathbed he was asked by a friend about the gold he found…”was this just a rich pocket of ore?”, “No” the Dutchman replied. “There is enough Gold there to make 20 men millionaires”. This was when gold was $20 an ounce. It is estimated that the Dutchman ore weighed out to 9000 ounces to the ton!
John Deering, an out of work cowhand, supposedly found the mine after the Dutchmans Death and removed some of the ore. He marked the site with 4 monuments below the mine, 1 above the mine, and went to Globe to cash in the ore. It was determined that the ore must have come from the Lost Dutchman Mine based on the grade and area he claimed it came from. Deering went to work for a mining company in Globe to acquire the supplies needed to start mining his new found mine and was killed in a cave in, never to reveal the exact location.
There were others that have visited the mine site. 2 soldiers had brought in some rich ore from the Superstitions, describing the mine and a few of the clues at the site. The soldiers went back for more and their mutilated bodies were discovered sometime later.
Several others through the years have claimed to have found the mine, but none have been able to provide enough proof to verify the claim.
A few articles were wrote about the Dutchman and the mine around 1902, but the story faded like many other ‘lost mine’ stories.
Adolph Ruth was a well known retired Government worker who went looking for the Lost Dutchman Mine around 1931. He was 78 and walked with a limp. The story goes that Ruths son had acquired a hand drawn map and clues to the location of the mine for services rendered to a Mexican family, possibly descendants of the Peralta. In June, Adolph Ruth set out into the mountains and in December his skull was found near his campsite. A month later, his body and personal belongings were found some distance away. Although his death was ruled “unknown”, his skull contained 2 holes which were consistent with an entry and exit wound of a large caliber gunshot at close range. There had been many deaths in the Superstitions over the years by those looking for the mine, but Adolph Ruth was well known back East, and the strange circumstances surrounding his death made the front page news. Found with his belongings were the hand drawn map, clues and ‘notes’, wrote by Ruth. One of the notes had the words “Veni, vidi, vici–I came, I saw, I conquered”, which some believed he wrote because he had located the mine. Also, in ink, was a description to the mines location: “It lies in an imaginary circle whose diameter is not more than five miles and whose center is marked by the Weaver’s Needle”….. The clue went on to describe the volcanic terrain of the area. In pencil he had wrote ’200 ft. across from cave’. The clues and the map were later published and the search for the mine was on.