Juan Elías Depredation Claim
In 1892, Juan Elías filed an Indian Depredation Claim against the U.S. government, seeking compensation for the hundreds of animals he had lost in Apache raids in the years after the Gadsden Purchase. Elías claimed a value of $21,650 for his missing stock, but unsympathetic federal judges awarded him only $1,680 in damages. Despite their limited success as legal documents, the extensive depositions taken of Juan Elías and his brothers Jésus María and Tomás in the U.S. Court of Claims represent the most extended testimony currently available from these members of the Elías family.
This site makes two versions of the depositions available. The first is a page-by-page scan of the original typewritten manuscript. The second is a searchable transcription. In producing this transcription, a few minor alterations were made to the punctuation to improve readability. The eccentric spelling of geographic features and Indian names in the original document, however, were preserved as illustrative of both possible pronunciations at the time and of the difficulty that federal officials had in navigating the linguistic terrain of the borderlands.