The Chinese Connection

If the Peralta mines produced so much gold, why are there not records of shipments or rumors of large gold shipments from north of New Spain? This is a great mystery, because unless the Peraltas stacked the bars somewhere (much more than is rumored), the incredibly rich mines didn’t exist. Certainly the most-hated bankers of Genoa and Austria would have eventually taken possession of the gold and there would be records?

Not so fast.

A forgotten part of New Spain was the Philippines. The Manila-Acapulco galleon trade began when Spanish navigators Alonso de Arellano and Andrés de Urdaneta discovered the eastward return route from the Philippines in 1565. The trade route was incredibly lucrative, and the ships brought Chinese goods such as porcelain and spices back to Acapulco. The goods were then transferred overland to Veracruz and then to Seville, Spain. A law was passed (monopoly) that allowed only 2 ships to leave each port (Acapulco, Manila) each year, so they kept building larger and larger ships until they could carry up to 2000 tons and 1000 passengers. 

The returning ships took silver and gold from Hispaniola to China!

They were called Manila Galleons or “China Ships”.  They were built in the Philippines, and each would take over 2000 trees to build.


The trade route lasted from 1565 to 1815, 250 years. Immense quantities of gold, silver, and gems were taken from Mexico to the Philippines and then to China. The Manila Galleons were notorious for under-reporting their cargos.

It is suggested that the Peralta gold was taken downstream on the Gila River to the Sea of Cortez, an easy and secure route, maybe taking a week or less. From there it was taken down the coast to Acapulco by sea. This is very simple compared to taking it overland.

It is more than coincidence that the greatest pirate of all time was not in the Caribbean, but in the South China Sea. The pirate was a woman named Ching Shih. She lived from 1775 to 1844 and commanded 20,000 to 40,000 pirates and up to 4000 ships. The gold, silver, and gems had to run quite the gauntlet to make it to Macau.

The more that is read about the subject of the Acapulco-Manila trade it is found more incredulous that so much attention has been paid to the Caribbean, and nothing to the Pacific side. It has been a puzzlement how the Spanish and European bankers had such a stranglehold on the New World when there were were incredibly clever and industrious men that could break the stranglehold. It seems the Spanish didn’t have such a stranglehold after all……….. this is a clip from the Cambridge History of China, Volume 8, the Ming Dynasty.


Spain periodically cleaned up the corruption in Acapulco, but there is no reason why this smuggling hub did not continue well after Mexico gained its independence. China has great deposits of mercury as well. It is thought that the sailors back then (and the Peralta’s) found the 2-ship limit from each port laughable. Here is a another clip from the same book.


China valued silver highly, and it typically brought 50% or more that what it could be sold for in Europe.   Which place would you take your silver?


Bringing the Chinese into the picture ties up a big loose end: where did the Peralta’s get their mercury? On the page on this site, “The Mill Site and Mercury” it was documented that a great amount of mercury can be found in the soil by the satellite First Water ranch. This, coupled with the cart ruts (Ox-Carts thread) leading there is undeniable evidence there was a large mining operation. But how could the Peraltas have pulled it off without being tracked by using Spanish mercury? It turns out that the Chinese had a HUGE quantity of mercury. After all, how could the 1st Emperors tomb have rivers of mercury flowing inside without China having access to a great amount of it?

In the book “Orientalizing New Spain: Perspectives on Asian Influence in Colonial Mexico”, the following is written.

“Mercury from China via the Philippines is an undervalued and mostly ignored contribution to New Spain’s rich mining history. Mexico, especially in the seventeenth century, entered a period where processing an overabundance of silver ore was plagued by a persistent insufficiency of quicksilver with which to extract the metal. As M. F. Lang acutely noted, “[t]he chief reason for the quicksilver shortage was that the Crown relied on the production of Almadén [the oldest mercury mine in the world, located in Spain], almost all of which was reserved for New Spain and that this mine rarely managed to produce the 5,000 quintals per year required.” Some of the slack in supply was met by the Huancavelica mines in Peru, but fearful of promoting inter-colonial trade between Mexico and Peru and lessening their economic dependency on España (in addition to Castilian unease with even more silver flowing to the Orient aboard the naos de China) royal authorities strictly curtailed Peruvian shipments to Acapulco until late in the seventeenth century.”

But could the Chinese sail? Could they have brought the mercury over and avoid using the Manila Galleons? It turns out that the Chinese were the ones that brought the FIRST load of Chinese goods over to Acapulco.

“In 1571, the Spaniards rescued some Chinese sailors whose sampans sunk off the Philippines and helped them get back to China. The next year the grateful Chinese returned the favor in the form of a trading vessel filled with gifts of silk, porcelain and other Chinese goods. This ship was sent eastward and arrived in Mexico in 1573, and its cargo ultimately made it to Spain, where people liked what they saw and a demand for Chinese goods was born.” … -3835.html

After more research, it appears the Chinese “Junks” were better designed and more seaworthy than the Spanish Manila Galleons. After all that has been learned, it would be hard pressed to imagine that major mining could occur in the Superstitions without Chinese help. It appears that a completely independent system could have been run, and the Spanish government did not know a thing about it.

Below is a photo that is also on the web page here, “The Mill Site and Mercury”. This is in First Water Canyon.  The alarm on the mercury vapor detector was sounding off frequently here –  in the open air. 

The modus operandi of the Chinese in the western U.S. was to reprocess placers that the anglos had worked, finding much more gold.  It is suggested that the Chinese have worked this too, but it wasn’t a placer; there was sand from ore that was processed by others without mercury, and the Chinese used mercury to recover all that was lost.  This has their signature on it.

First Water Canyon-with high mercury (cleaned-out)

Before the construction of Coolidge dam, The Gila was a navigable river. Large riverboats could make it up close to Phoenix, and smaller craft could make it almost to New Mexico.  In the page “Chichilticale” it is described how it just wasn’t that difficult getting here via the Gila and Salt River.


Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, one of the more famous Jesuits, has been highly suspected to have been involved with the lost mining district,

Kino dearly wanted to be missionary in China, but he was given a mission on the California peninsula instead, after 8 years of petitioning his superiors. Kino had studied mathematics, astronomy and other natural sciences at several Universities for 12 years. This guy was smart. So that begs the question: Why would the Jesuits send a top hand to the barren rock of the California peninsula? Many had failed, including Cortez, to establish a colony there. The barren rock and poor soil had no redeeming qualities. But wait a minute…….

From the following “A Biographical Note on Isidro de Antondo y Antillón: Admiral of the Californias” By Michael Mathes the following is written:

“The failure to discover new land and the problems of supply from Sinaloa resulted in the abandonment of San Bruno in May, 1685. Kino continued exploration of the coast; and Atondo, under the terms of his commission, searched for pearl beds at Isla del Carmen and La Paz. The coming of October storms forced the return of both parties to Matanchen on the Nayarit Coast; and, while Kino jour¬neyed to Mexico to seek Viceregal aid for San Bruno, Atondo sailed to the Pacific Coast of Baja California and escorted the Manila Galleon to Acapulco. Upon Atondo’s return, he joined Kino in December, 1685, at hearings held to determine the future of San Bruno. Both requested further aid for the settlement of California and estimated the annual cost at 30,000 pesos. Despite this testimony and the expenditures already incurred, a Royal Order was issued on December 22 suspending the colonization of California due to the problems of Indian revolt in Durango and New Mexico”.

This is a direct link of Kino to the Manila Galleons!

Kino ran as least 3 of his expeditions by the Casa Grande ruins and on the Gila, in 1994, 1697, and 1699. Considering his penchant for climbing mountains, it is highly likely he climbed Flatiron just to see the view.

The following is from the Kino Heritage Society website:

“He was usually well equipped with horses and mules from his own ranches, for he took at different times as many as fifty, sixty, eighty, ninety, one hundred and five, and even one hundred and thirty head. A Kino cavalcade was a familiar sight in Pima Land.”

Could Kino have been hand chosen by the Jesuits to streamline the whole system of running gold and mercury to and from the Superstitions? He is directly linked to the Manila Galleons and he had the wherewithal to move gold and mercury at will, but likely he was just showing an example for others to follow.

Here is more of the Manila Galleons:

From the works of Hubert Howe Bancroft: History of the northwest coast. 1886:

“Sea otter skins to the number of several thousand collected on the coast of California are sent by the Spanish missionaries to China each year by way of Manila. The Spaniards within these two years have imported the sea-otter to China: they collect their skins near their settlements of Monterey and San Francisco….The Padres are the principal conductors of this traffic. In 1787 they imported about 200 skins, and at the beginning of this year 1500. They are sent to Acapulco, and thence by the annual galleon to Manila.”

Here we are 100 years after Kino, and it sounds like the Spanish colonial version of the UPS was carrying goods from points on the Pacific coast down to Acapulco to the Manila Galleons. The priests are still running the business. Why not a pickup point on the coast of the Sea of Cortez,  near the mouth of the Colorado River also?

In the “History of Arizona and New Mexico 1530-1888”, page 401, Bancroft says, “Records at San Juan Capistrano Mission and San Javier del Bac say “Annual Expeditions in the olden time to a wonderfully productive mine 200 leagues north of the Gila.”  200 leagues is 600 miles. This is really, really odd. Why would BOTH of these far-flung missions have these records? Why is the Gila the reference point? 600 miles? No way.

Back to the Chinese:

In the “History of Arizona”, by Thomas Edwin Farish, 1918, Volume VII. says:
“… The Tartar Chinese speak the dialect of the Apaches. The Apaches bear a striking resemblance to the Tartar. In about the year 1885, W. B. Horton, who had served as County Superintendent of Schools, at Tucson, was appointed Post Trader at Camp Apache, and went to San Francisco to purchase his stock, where he hired a Chinese cook. His kitchen adjoined his sleeping apartment, and one evening while in his room he heard in the kitchen some Indians talking. Wondering what they were doing there at that hour of the night, he opened the door and found his cook conversing with an Apache. He asked his cook where he had acquired the Indian language. The cook said: “He speak all same me. I Tartar Chinese; he speak same me, little different, not much.” At Williams, in Navajo County, is another Tartar Chinaman, Gee Jim, who converses freely with the Apaches in his native language. From these facts it would seem that the Apache is of Tartar origin. From the fact that the Apache language was practically the same as that of the Tartar Chinese, colour is given to the theory advanced by Bancroft in his “Native Races,” Volume 5, p. 33, et seq., that Western America was “originally peopled by the Chinese, or, at least, that the greater part of the new world civilization may be attributed to these people…” Reference Source: The University of Arizona Library “Books of the South West” Chapter 1, Indians of Arizona: … div.1.html

I personally met two Apaches while doing field work near Camp Verde about 8 years ago. They had the exact features of the Chinese, only darker. I remember my great surprise about seeing their features back then. The over-10,000 years statement is a two-edged sword. How could a select few of the Apaches still have these features after 10,000 years?