Before going further one needs to understand two things: 1) That there are essentially two different versions of the Legend; and 2) the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine is not monolithic; that is that unlike most other such legends it is interwoven with other stories of people finding gold in the Superstition Mountains (see: History).
The two basic legends go like this.
Legend One is probably the most popular version of the story. In “a nut shell” it is that Jacob Waltz and a partner named Jacob Weiser meet the Peralta family in Mexico. The year is sometime in the early 1860s. The Peralta family had rich mines in the Superstitions when the Superstitions were part of Mexico, but now that country belongs to America. The Peraltas want to make one last trip, but they are afraid as the last trip to the mines in the 1840s ended with the Apache killing almost everyone on the expedition. The Peraltas decide to take Waltz and Weiser along as Indian fighters.
They go to the mine, get a lot of gold, and return safely. The Peraltas are satisfied and sell the mine to Waltz and Weiser for their share of the gold from the trip. Waltz and Weiser like this deal, as they have seen the mine. They return to the mine, start mining and after a few days Waltz leaves to get more supplies.
When he returns the camp is deserted, and broken up. Apache have raided it; Weiser is gone, probably dead. Waltz takes what gold he can find and flees. He moves to Phoenix and settles in there where people start to talk about the rich ore he occasionally uses to pay for goods.
Eventually as an old man he is caught in a flood in 1891 and after being rescued spends a few months with friend, Julia Thomas, behind her store. There he is cared for by either Julia or Rhinehart Petrasch who works for her. He slowly gets sicker and dies. But, during those last months he tells her about the Peraltas, the mine and Weiser.
There is mush more to this version and it is explored in depth in my book—there are three chapters just on Waltz, another on the Peralta family and their descendants, and another chapter on Julia Thomas and the Petrasches.
Legend Two starts with Waltz on his deathbed where Julia asks two men, Gideon Roberts and Dick Holmes. They sit with Waltz while Julia goes for a doctor. Dying Waltz makes a deathbed confession to Gideon and Dick.
This story is much simpler about the mine. One day traveling from Pinal to the Vulture Mine Waltz is camped on the old government trail one day out of Pinal. Here he is attacked by three Apache. He escapes, but looses all his camp gear, food and mule(s). Wandering through the mountains he finds a small camp.
The camp is deserted, but there is food and he eats. Later three Mexican miners come back to their camp, they hear Waltz’s story about the Apache and sympathize. If he can stay with them for a few days they will be headed out of the mountains. Finding out he is a miner they offer to show him their mine. Waltz sees the rich ore and it is more than he can stand. He must have it.
He kills the Mexicans, turns their animals loose and deserts their camp. Later he starts to work the mine secretly. Over the years he kills three other men that he feels threaten his mine, two soldiers and a prospector.
Now dying he bemoans his conduct. Shortly after Waltz’s death, Gideon Roberts, also elderly, dies. But, Dick Holmes, a much younger man, starts a quest for the mine that will consume both his and his son’s lives.
Which story is true? Are they both true, different versions of the same? Both these versions are examined in the book, including a chapter devoted to the Holmes family and Roberts family. Plus the publication of the story Waltz told his father (including directions to the mine) and Dick and Brownie’s decades of searching in Part II, The Holmes Manuscript.
There is much more, including another lost mine story that sounds very similar, but with different characters. All of these facets along with analysis are found in Part I, The Golden Dream.
Woodcut of Weaver's Needle from an 1895 feature newspaper article on the Lost Dutchman Mine by