Mickey Free was a half-breed Apache Indian who was one of the principal U.S. Army Scouts employed during the Apache Wars in this area. His skills as a scout were legendary. He often worked in company with Al Sieber, but Sieber did not always have confidence in his truthfulness, although he respected Free's abilities. Free was quite unusual because he was trilingual, speaking Apache, Spanish, and English. The reason for this ability was that he was kidnapped by Apaches when he was about fourteen.

Mickey Free was born in Santa Cruz, Sonora, about 1847, the son of Jesusa Martínez and Santiago Tellez. Tellez was reputed to be Irish, or part Irish. Tellez died when Mickey was just a child, and Jesusa lived with John Ward in the Sonoita Valley of Arizona. On 27 January 1861 Mickey was stolen by Pinal Apaches, and as a result, a series of tragic events occurred. When Carleton's California Volunteers arrived in Arizona they learned of the capture of Mickey, and it was decided that they should try to retrieve him. Second Lieutenant George Bascom was in charge of the unit to carry this out. The Chiricahua Apache chief Cochise was blamed for the incident, and he was captured. Nevertheless, Cochise escaped, and this precipitated the killing of some of Cochise's men. Of course, Cochise became angry and, basically, a war resulted between Americans and Cochise. In the meantime, Mickey was freed and adopted by Nayundiie, a Western White Mountain Apache at San Carlos. Mickey's foster brother was the same man who was known as the famous Indian Scout, John Rope. John Rope in his old age was one of the principal informants of the anthropologist Grenville Goodwin. (There are many descendants of Rope today living on the San Carlos Reservation.)

In 1872 Mickey became a sergeant among the scouts. He served until July 1893, often participating in expeditions against Geronimo. He was particular effective in General Crook's 1883 expedition into the Sierra Madre. Mickey was greatly feared by many, and he was often considered to be a man who enjoyed killing. Dan Thrapp, famous southwestern historian, however, believes that Mickey was never actually known to have killed anyone. Nevertheless, after his days as a scout Mickey retired to the White Mountain Reservation, where he married and had children (many of his descendants still live on that reservation). Mickey died in the summer of 1915 among his people near Whiteriver.

An interesting book to read about Mickey Free is: Mickey Free: Manhunter by A. Kinney Griffith. It must be understood, however, that Griffith makes numerous errors, and also makes bogus claims in his book. Nevertheless, the final portion of Griffith's book does have some interesting, accurate information. As a child Griffith became acquainted with Mickey and was greatly impressed with him. It is unfortunate that Griffith's book is badly flawed about the early life of Mickey.

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