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Across the Plains in '64 


Incidents of Early Days West of the Missouri River 
— Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat From 
Fort Benton to Omaha — Reminiscences of 
THE Pioneer Period of Galena, Gen- 
eral Grant's Old Home. 










Yielding to the continued solicitation of his friends, after the 
first volume of "Across the Plains in '64" was published, Mr. 
John S. Collins finally decided to add to the volume several of 
the more noteworthy happenings which were a part of his 
remarkably adventurous life in the real west, before railroads 
had made transcontinental travel easy. When most of the 
manuscript had been prepared it was deemed best to incorporate 
the first volume and the latter additions in one volume. Mr. 
Collins' sudden death upset all plans for the production of the 
new volume at the time he had decided to publish it. 

But. acting upon the impulse to carry out the wishes of their 
uncle, just as if he were with them, the nephews and nieces of 
Mr. Collins decided to have the new volume published as a 
memorial to their uncle who had done a pioneer's share in the 
taming of the wilderness. 

The relatives of Mr. Collins who have made it possible that 
this hitherto unwritten history of the west shall remain a lasting 
monument to his memory, are in possession of scores of letters 
from distinguished men and women who received the first volume 
from its author, which commend in unstinted measure their 
pleasure at receiving such a gift. Probably there are few volumes 
which have been so highly commended by "the men of the 
country" for truthfulness and real merit. One of the fore most 
literary journals in America compared the first volume with 
the works of Francis Parkman, which it resembled in many 

The undersigned, who had charge of the editing of Mr- 
Collins' manuscript, has lefi it just as it was written by him, the 
work of editing concerning almost entirely punctuation and 
capitalization. Mr. Collins made no pretense to literary style- 
He had been a business man all his life and he has prepared such 
a volume as a business man who had a remarkable memory 
would write. R. F. G. 

Omaha, Neb., January, 1911. 


Cover Design By Doane Powell 

Frontispiece (Part I) John S. Collins 

Frontispiece (Part II) "Five Terrors of the Wind River Range" 

Three Days' Kill Opposite page 61, Part II 

Bat and the Bear Skins Opposite page 64, Part II 

Indians in Camp Opposite page 64, Part II 

Leaving Fort Fetterman Opposite page 66, Part II 

Bunched Up in the Road Opposite page 66, Part II 

Crossing the Platte Opposite page 66, Part II 

"Antelope Very Cunning" Opposite page 76, Part II 

Ready for the Hunt Opposite page 82, Part II 

"Fussin' " About Camp Opposite page 86, Part II 

Author's Keys Which Went Through San Francisco 

Earthquake and Fire Opposite page 139, Part II 


This little book is dedicated to the memory of James 
McNear, my companion, friend and guide, on my trip Across 
The Plains In '64, and down the Missouri river in an open 
boat from Fort Benton to Omaha, two thousand miles. No 
more loyal man ever lived. His bravery was never ques- 
tioned. He was a true man and a sincere friend. 



At the request of members of my family and inti- 
mate friends, I have briefly sketched some of my 
experiences in the West, before the days of the railroad. 
This little book is intended for private circulation. I 
have made no effort to give the sketches a literary 
dress. I have only attempted to relate from diary and 
memory, in a matter of fact way, a number of inter- 
esting incidents, which, in the hands of an experi- 
enced writer would, in my opinion, furnish material 
for an interesting volume. 

John S. Collins. 

Omaha, Nebraska, 1904. 


Dedication 3 

Preface 5 

Across the Plains in '64 9 

Notes by the Way 36 

A Fresh-Killed Moose 38 

A Rich Clean-Up 39 

Fast Staging 40 

The Gold Miner's Market 41 

A Mountain Sheep Head 41 

Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 44 

A Herd of Mules 59 

About an Army Post Tradership 65 

Hunting Big Game with a Military Escort 69 

If You Don't Pray Before You Eat, You Won't Steal 73 

The Sioux Indian Commission 'j^ 

A Feast with Spotted Tail 84 

Council with the Yanctonais 86 

Burial of the Daughter of American Horse 90 

A Brave Indian 91 

A Hunting Trip with Carl Schurz, Webb C. Hayes, 

AND Artist Gaullier 96 

The Hunter's Paradise 100 

Hunting Big Game with a Pack Train 114 

The Scout 122 

''Crazy Horse" Bones 134 

Vagabonding with a General Manager 136 

Galena, Illinois, General Grant's Old Home 139 

The Mettle of Grant 150 


From My Diary. 


A certain interest zmll ahvays attach to the record 
of that which passed away, never to return." — Francis 

Council Bluffs was a better outfitting point for emi- 
grants in '64 than Omaha. March 23rd I crossed the 
Missouri river on the steam ferry with six two and 
four mule teams, loaded with merchandise for the 
gold mines of Virginia City. At Council Bluffs there 
came to me an honest, rough looking fellow with a 
note from a friend in Dubuque, Iowa. It read: "I 
send you Jim McNear; take him along; he is 'true 
blue' and 'all sand.* " No better recommendation 
could be given a man in those pioneer days. So Jim 
was placed in charge of my tents and cooking. 

Ferriage from Council Bluffs to Omaha was $1.00 
for one wagon and one span, and twenty-five cents 
per head for loose stock. At Omaha I met my father, 
Eli A. Collins, and my brother, Gilbert H. Collins. 

A fine prospect opened here for business, and on 
March 23rd, my brother and myself entered into co- 
partnership under the firm name of G. H. & J. S. Col- 
lins, Gilbert H. going east to purchase a stock of lea- 
ther and saddlery goods. The same day I left Omaha 
for the "west," cutting across lots from Fourteenth and 

10 Across the Plains 

Douglas streets and camping under the "Big Elms" 
at the Military bridge. 

The Mormons on their westward march held regu- 
lar Sunday services under these trees. Twenty-fourth 
and Cuming streets now mark the spot. Johnson's 
army crossed the Military bridge in 1853 to fight the 
Mormons at Great Salt lake. 

We traveled the old Military road from Omaha. 
Snow and rain made the roads heavy, and travel slow, 
March 24th we camped at the Elkhorn river. Ferriage 
was fifty cents per wagon. Loose stock was led and 
driven. Raw Hide creek was our next camp. Paw- 
nee Indians came down on us by the dozen. It was 
their custom to find emigrant camps all along the 
Platte, and beg. They had noses like a pointer dog. 
They manifested no unfriendly disposition, but show- 
ed a fondness for our tin cups, pans, knives and every- 
thing in this line they could pick up and conceal under 
their blankets. From the Raw Hide to Fremont, then a 
village of two to three hundred inhabitants, white 
tail deer were frequently seen in the tall grass. Be- 
tween Fremont and Columbus there was very little 
settlement. There were only a few ranches where hay 
and shelter for animals could be had for fifty cents 
to $1.00 per span over night. 

If you did not patronize these ranches the alterna- 
tive was to camp where you could and wake up in the 
morning to find one or two head of stock gone. This 
necessitated "laying over" a day or two. The stray 
stock was sometimes found in the corral of the ranch- 
man with a charge of $5.00 to $10.00 for recovering 

Across the Plains It 

West of Columbus we crossed the Loup Fork river, 
full of running ice. The ferry boat had sunk and the 
stream was too deep and swift to ford. So all hands 
assisted in raising and pumping out the boat. When 
in running order we paid fifty cents per wagon and 
one span for ferrying us over. The loose stock swam. 
From the Loup to the 


it snowed or rained almost constantly. At every camp 
the Pawnees visited us. They were always hungry. 
They told stories of war parties out after Sioux scalps, 
capturing ponies, robes, furs, etc. We, having no proof 
to the contrary, their stories were allowed to stand. 
While the beggars looked fierce to us, they were as 
helpless as children. When we reached a point op- 
posite Fort Kearney there were over two hundred 
teams in camp, waiting to decide whether they would 
continue their journey on the old California trail of 
"49" on the north side or ford the Platte and go on 
the south side — said to be fifty miles the shorter road. 
Before deciding on our route, we watched the crossing 
of a freight wagon loaded with grain. Twelve yoke 
of oxen with five drivers waded into the swift current, 
and were soon floundering and wallowing in the shift- 
ing quicksand. Three or four of the drivers were 
often up to their necks in the cold water. A rope 
around the waist of each, the other end fastened to an 
ox-yoke, prevented the drivers drifting away. If al- 
lowed to stop, the cattle would steadily sink in the 
shifting quicksands belly deep. To release them the 
quicksand had to be shoveled from below and let the 

12 Across the Plains 

current carry it away. This one team was two hours 
in crossing. The ferriage for one wagon was $6.00. 
After witnessing this sight, our party was not long 
in deciding to take the trail on the north side and 
cross the Platte 200 miles higher up. 

We were now in the country of the hostile Sioux 
Indians, and it was necessary to organize our train, 
consisting of one hundred and six wagons and nearly 
one hundred and fifty men. Thomas Prowse, from 
Galena, Illinois, an old "49-er," was elected cap- 
tain. He was a quiet, level-headed man, stern 
of disposition sound of judgment, and with 
plenty of "sand." Mounting a wagon seat he said: 
"All the men who go with this outfit hand in your 
names, and the kind of transportation you have. This 
will be no picnic, and I want you all to understand that 
every man will do his share of guard duty. Orders 
will be orders, and if there is a man in this crowd not 
willing to obey orders, now is the time for him to drop 
out. The train will 'roll out' at daylight tomorrow 
morning." The next morning promptly at daylight 
every team was numbered and placed in line. "Ev- 
erybody will be expected to keep up and not lag be- 
hind," said the captain; "Indians always go for the 
last teams, and we may see plenty of them." 

There was a call to know if "Jim McNear was in 
the train." "You bet I am here," answered Jim. 
"You'll find me in the Collins outfit in front, on the 
end of this trail, and don't you forget it." One of the 
men named "Chance" volunteered to go over with 
the freight team for mail and to post letters. This 
being the last opportunity we would have until reach- 

Across the Plains 13 

ing Fort Laramie unless the "pony mail" would pick 
up the letters on the way east. "Chance" was to join 
us that night ten miles above. He would wade the 
Platte. Just as the train was ready to "roll," a buxom 
Irish girl, weighing 200 pounds, drove up to Cap- 
tain Prowse in a covered wagon, with a span of good 
American horses and said : "Captain, I want to go wid 
ye. I've me own team and can take care of meself. 

ME name's jane.'' 

"All right," said the captain. "We need one 
woman with 150 men to bake our bread, mend 
our trousers, and sew buttons on." With charcoal, 
her wagon cover was marked "Jane," and she was as- 
signed to a place in the middle of the train. , 

Leaving this camp we bade farewell to civilization 
to enter the country of the hostile Sioux Indians, 
over the dim trail made by the emigrants going to 
California in "Forty-nine." The trail ran over a 
level plain, bordered on the east by sand hills and low 
bluffs where the buffaloes ranged and on the west 
by the North Platte river. The plains were covered 
with dry grass, and there was no fuel for two hundred 
miles. It certainly was not a cheerful outlook for a 
lot of "green pilgrims." A mule strayed from our 
first noon stop and my mustang saddle pony was 
pressed into service where he remained until we 
reached Fort Laramie. The stray mule was not re- 

We camped on Elm creek, where our man "Chance" 
was to join us, but he failed to come that night. We 
remained in camp all next day, and still no tidings 

14 Across the Plains 

of "Chance." Out on the foot-hills a small band of 
buffalo was grazing. We agreed to wait one day 
longer for "Chance" and improve the time by hunt- 
ing buffalo to supply us with fresh meat. 

April 1 2th, at daylight, we still had no tidings of 
our man. With a light wagon and a span of mules, 
five of us, headed by Captain Prowse, and leading 
our saddle horses, started for the bluffs. Our ob- 
ject in taking a wagon served the double purpose of 
keeping our saddle horses fresh and to bring in the 
game. At the foothills the mules were unharnessed 
and tied to the wagon. Mounting our horses, with 
lariat, Winchester rifles and hunting knives, we were 
soon off and rode rapidly to the highest bluff two 
miles away where we tied the horses to sage brush, 
and cautiously ascended the bluffs. With field glasses 
we looked the country over for buffalo. 


A low flat, not a mile away, was alive with antelope. 
A band of several hundred scattered over a mile of 
territory and beyond them was a scattering herd of 
buffalo. It is not often that hunters are disgusted 
with the sight of an over abundance of game. This, 
however, was our predicament. We wanted buft'alo 
and thepe they were less than two miles away. Captain 
Prowse was not long in deciding on a plan. If we 
came in sight of the antelope they would all take to 
their heels, alarm the buffalo, and put an end to our 
chances of getting a shot at them. With the wind in 
our favor we made a detour of five miles, keeping well 
out of sight, stopping occasionally to look over the 

Across the Plains 15 

top of the bluff and locate our game. When we came 
in sight they were feeding through a low sag in the 
hills crossing a ridge. Waiting until they passed out 
of sight we galloped to the foot of the ridge and 
again dismounted and crept on hands and knees to 
look over the bluff. We were almost on top of fully 
a hundred buffalo, quietly feeding, not fifty yards 
away. Returning to our horses it was planned that 
each hunter should put the end of his lariat through 
the bit ring and all lead their horses abreast to the 
firing point. "Now down on your knee, hold fast 
to your horse, every man pick his buffalo and 'blaze 
away.' Stick to your own buffalo until he is down." 
Such were the orders. I obeyed all orders but one. 
The fusilade made all the horses plunge and rear. 
My mustang pulled away and, with lariat dragging, 
started in the direction of the antelope. They scat- 
tered like quail. Not waiting for a report on the first 
round of fire, as it involved a possibility of losing my 
horse entirely and walking ten miles to camp, I fol- 
lowed the mustang. It was not long until I saw the 
hunters headed for the bluffs with the wagon to bring 
in the game. Tired out, and disgusted with my part 
in the hunt, I kept on after my pony. One of the 
hunters came to my relief and soon caught him. My 
revenge on his conduct was to ride him on a dead run 
until there was not much ''go" left in either the pony 
or the rider. 

The result of the hunt was three buffalo and three 
antelope killed on the way home. It was sundown 
when we were well on the way back and the party 
did not reach camp until midnight. Up to the present 

16 Across the Plains 

date I fail to realize any great pleasure or sport in my 
first buffalo hunt. The lost man "Chance" had reached 
camp at noon, footsore, and with hands and face bleed- 
ing from cuts from the sharp blades of grass. He told 
a most pitiful story. The first day he walked until 
dark then lay down on the ground for a long night's 
dread of Indians. The second day, believing the train 
was still ahead, he traveled until noon and then re- 
traced his steps. Seeing our wagon on high ground 
going to the bluflfs, he concluded we were in camp 
somewhere on Elm creek. Here he waded and swam 
the Platte and followed the creek to our camp. He 
had eaten nothing in the two days but a rabbit and a 
prairie dog, killed with rocks. Afraid of Indians he 
did not light a fire and ate them raw. 

April 13th we drove twenty-two miles. There was 
no wood. Our only fuel was buffalo chips. The next 
day we drove thirty miles. A lodge of Indians came 
to us, armed only with bows and arrows. They were 
friendly and hungry, and left us after supper. 

April 15th we started at daylight and discovered a 
dense smoke to the north. It was a prairie fire ten 
miles away. The captain ordered halt, and calling 
all hands around him, he said : "If the wind changes 
and that fire comes this way, we must work fast or we 
are 'goners.' " Half an hour brought us to a marsh 
and a small lake. We made camp between them. It 
was lively work corralling the wagons, "close up," and 
chaining them together. The stock was driven in- 
side, and the entrance was closed up and securely 
chained. Every man took a bucket and a grain sack, 
and under the orders of Captain Prowse began 

Across the Plains 17 

"back firing/' 

by dropping a lighted match in the dry grass, 
and putting out the fire before it got beyond control, 
and then beginning in a new place, repeating the 
operation over and over again, with a bucket of water 
always near by to keep the bag wet. In an hour's 
time several acres were burned over, all around us. 
Even "J^"^" did her share of work, carrying water 
to the men. It was fast and strenuous work and was 
finished none too soon to avoid a most serious disaster. 
Soon the wind changed as the captain predicted. The 
blaze was in sight, coming toward us with a speed of 
a race horse. It was a line of fire a mile long, coming 
like a g^eat wave, at times leaping fifty feet in the air. 
The roar, hissing and cracking of the flames could be 
heard a mile away. Deer, rabbits and prairie dogs 
swept through our camp in great fright. The sight 
was grand and awful. When the flame reached the 
head of the lake north of us a quarter of a mile away, 
we could feel the heat. It was almost stifling. At 
this point the fire stopped. We had "back fired" a 
quarter of a mile along its edge. Fearing that when 
the tall grass in the marsh was reached the falHng em- 
bers would set fire to our wagon covers, McNear fired 
the marsh before the main flame reached it. During 
the excitement the stock bellowed and brayed like wild 
beasts. Soon the two waves of fire met, and the smoke 
was so blinding that we were compelled to throw our- 
selves flat on the ground until it passed over. When 
the fire had passed and gone around us, the men were 
called together to ascertain if everybody was accounted 
for. All stood alongside their wagons and answered 

18 Across the Plains 

to their names. What became of the Indians mattered 
little to us. They are generally equal to such occas- 
ions and may have gone into the river for safety. 

We resumed our march on April 17th. For miles 
and miles the bleached heads and bones of buffalo 
showed plainly on the sea of burnt ground. Many 
snakes and small animals were found partly burned. 
The air was dense with floating ashes. We moved to 
a spot near the Platte where a guard was organ- 
ized of every man in the train. McNear was chosen 
captain of the guard. With nearly 150 men the duty 
of standing guard three hours at night fell upon each 
one lightly. There were three shifts of four men each 
which made guard duty come but once a week. Snow 
and hail fell the entire night. The stock was rest- 
less and kept the guard busy driving picket pins. 
Owing to the many delays we fed half the usual ration 
of grain to our animals. 

In crossing North Bluff creek, the next day, we 
broke two wagons, and the train went into camp near 
the foot of a sand bluff for repairs. Here a lone In- 
dian came to us with jaded ponies, bow and arrows, 
and a hungry look. He was the first Indian we met 
that seemed to have any business except to clean out 
our larder. His story was that twelve Sioux had 
raided a camp of Pawnees south of the Platte; eleven 
were killed, all their stock was taken and he alone had 
escaped. By signs he made us understand that our 
road for a short distance would be level, and then 
leave the river and cross a sand bluff and be "one 
sleep" without wood, water or grass ; then back to the 
river, and in sight of Chimney Rock on the south 

Across the Plains 19 

side. He also gave us the cheerful news that war par- 
ties of Sioux were out and we must look out for our 
stock. After supper he left us. 


Before reaching the sand bluffs we had evidence 
that our Indian guest knew the condition of affairs. 
One of our men, who had gone ahead, came upon the 
body of a white man scalped and with an arrow half 
through his body.* On the trail we found a 
partly burned wagon, parts of harness, empty 
fruit cans, etc., and the remnants of a camp fire. Later 
it was learned that two men and one woman had trav- 
eled alone in this outfit. At this camp they were at- 
tacked at night. The woman was carried off alive by 
the Indians. One man was killed, and the other es- 
caped by hiding in the grass and wading the Platte. 
Going over the sand bluffs our wagons sunk to the 
hub. All day we wallowed through by doubling teams 
on every wagon. We traveled very slowly. Night 
found us still in the sand with no wood, water or 
grass. We tied our stock up to the wagons and they 
gnawed at the wagon bows and covers all night. 

April 19th our route was still over the sand and 
again down along the Platte in sight of Chimney Rock. 
There was no fuel except weeds and buffalo chips. It 
rained and snowed the entire day. The next three 
days we camped in sight of Ancient bluffs. Owing 
to the heavy rain and snow and the howling of wolves 
and coyotes 

♦This arrow is in the author's possession. 

20 Across the Plains 


at night, jerking their picket pins and sending them 
flying through the air, at the end of lariats, spinning 
like tops. "Mustang" and two or three other head were 
always picketed near the tents. The whole herd came 
through the camp like an avalanche. Hearing the 
clatter of hoofs McNear rushed for the mustang, 
pulled up his picket pin and in his night clothes and 
bare feet, mounted him bareback and drifted with the 
herd. ''Long Jim" of the Missouri crowd, and 
''Chance" each caught a mule, mounted, and 
away they went in the midst of the runaway herd. 
The night was as black as ink. 

April 2 1st, when morning came there was not a 
hoof of stock in sight and three men gone. Two or 
three drivers set out on foot to assist in recovering 
the stock. How far or how long the herd would go, 
no one could tell. At noon McNear reported, leading 
half a dozen head, and said the entire herd was com- 
ing on. 

April 23rd we drove to a stockade where a half- 
breed kept a store of blankets and goods for trading 
with the Indians for buffalo robes, otter and beaver 
skins. Twelve lodges of Sioux were camped about 
the stockade. Here we remained two days and sent 
a messenger on to old Fort Laramie with letters to 
mail. This was our first post office since leaving Col- 
umbus, Nebraska, a distance of nearly four hundred 

April 25th we crossed the Platte, at the mouth of 
the Laramie river, two miles from the post. Again 
our man "Chance" distinguished himself. A "devil 

Across the Plains 2i 

may-care" fellow that was always ready to take the 
brunt of anything that offered a spice of danger, into 
the river he plunged and the next moment he and pony 
were floundering in the quicksand. All teams crossed 
without accident. 


April 26th Lieutenant-Colonel Collins, of the nth 
Ohio, was in command at Fort Laramie. The troops 
were known as "galvanized" confederate soldiers, 
captured by the federals and sent west for lack of 
prison room. Here we met Jim Bridger, the scout, 
forty-two years of whose life were spent on the 
plains and in the mountains, and who married a Flat- 
head squaw. Bridger was organizing a train to open 
up a new route to the gold fields via the Big Horn 
mountains. He was continually annoyed by the fool- 
ish questions of the pilgrims. While I was talking to 
him about his new route one of the "Ten strike" "but- 
ted in" with the question, "Mr. Bridger, how long 
have you bin in this kentry?" Pointing to Laramie 
Peak, in the range of mountains forty miles away, 
without cracking a smile or a twinkle in his keen gray 
eyes, he answered : "Stranger, d'ye see that high moun- 
tain over in the range yonder ? Well, when I first kem 
to this kentry, that mountain was a hole in the 

Little did I dream while looking over this, the 
first frontier military post I had ever visited, that it 
would fall my lot to ever set my eyes on it again. In 
1872 I went to this same old post as post-trader, ap- 

22 Across the Plains 

pointed by President Grant, and remained there until 
about 1882. 

Near the crossing one of our pilgrims discovered 
a tent with a sign board daubed in wagon 
grease, "Post Office." "Letters to the states 50 cents." 
Two "Johnnies-come lately" had set up a tent, cut a 
slit in a board large enough to pass a silver dollar, laid 
this across a barrel, into which they dropped half a dol- 
lar for each letter delivered. While waiting to have 
letters checked off and the mail "made up" a rider 
mounted on a cayuse pony would ride up in great 
haste and call for "mail," saying, "Can't wait," "be- 
hind time," etc. He had just come out of the river 
wet to the back. When the bag of mail was handed 
out he was off to ride further down the Platte, dump 
the mail into the river, turn his pony out and wait for 
the arrival of the next train of pilgrims. Sergeant 
Snyder at Fort Laramie said "It was nothing but a 
Mam schwindle,' but dey made a pushel o' money mit 

When we arrived at Fort Laramie an officious young 
lieutenant, by name Pettyjohn, was officer of the day. 
Whether from a sense of duty or natural curiosity, 
he fished out of our wagon an old army musket that 
McNear had been allowed to carry home when dis- 
charged from the army; he arrested Jim and took 
him before the commanding officer for having govern- 
ment property in his possession. Jim's honest face 
and short speech to the officer resulted in the lieuten- 
ant being ordered to return the weapon and, turning 
to Jim, he said : "I hope this old gun may be of good 
service to you in case you need it to fight Indians." 

Across the Plains 23 

Leaving Fort Laramie, April 27th, by mistake 
we followed the road to the government saw 
mill near Laramie Peak and drove as far as Little 
Cottonwood before discovering our error. Captain 
Prowse and McNear with saddle horses followed the 
road a few miles and satisfying themselves that we 
were on the wrong trail returned, and we drove across 
the prairie to the Platte road.* From here the road 
was over rolling hills and our progress was slow. 

May 1st we camped on Labonte creek, where, in 
1886, I established a cattle ranch. 

May 4th we were at Fort Fetterman, where there 
were more ''galvanized" soldiers. The credulous Mc- 
Near gave away all the onions and potatoes in our lar- 
der to soldiers on their plea ''that they would all die 
of scurvy if they did not get some vegetables soon." 


Beyond Fetterman was Poison Springs. The banks 
of the stream were strewn with bones and carcasses 
of animals dead from drinking the alkali water. Dur- 
ing the hot months it was so strong with alkali that 
after boiling coffee it was most disagreeable to taste. 
At this point we saw the stump of a telegraph pole cut 
by the Indians. They had camped here during a 
heavy rain and thunderstorm. To get dry wood to 
start a fire an Indian with his tomahawk went to the 
pole and began chopping off chips. Lightning struck 
the pole and killed the Indian. This is given as a rea- 

♦The writer still has in his possession a jar of stones col- 
lected on this trip including one with the date cut with a pen- 
knife while waiting. 

24 Across the Plains 

son why Indians never after molested a telegraph pole. 
They counted it "bad medicine." 

May 7th we were at the first crossing of the Sweet- 
water near Independence Rock and Devil's Gatd 
Near by were alkali or soda lakes. The banks were 
white as snow and the soda lay inches deep. We used 
it in making bread and found it almost equal to bak- 
ing powder. I waded through the walls of rock be- 
tween which the stream ran, the road running to the 
south and around it. I saw many names painted and 
carved on the rocks — some dating 1847 ^"^ 1849. Here 
a detachment of cavalry came to our camp with orders 
to arrest our train and return it to Fort Laramie. It 
developed that one of the men in our train had p^ur- 
chased government corn from a soldier. To settle it 
the party gave the sergeant a few cans of fruit, sup- 
posing that would be the end. 

May loth we camped at the third crossing of the 
Sweetwater, being detained by rain and snow. Just 
as we were leaving at noon Captain Marshall an of- 
ficer and twenty mounted men, rode into camp, and 
inquired for the captain of our train. When Captain 
Prowse was pointed out the officer said : "I am ordered 
to return Captain Prowse's train to Fort Laramie." 
This was on account of the "corn deal," which it was 
thought, had been settled. After a lot of argument 
and dickering, in which every owner of a team or 
teams took part, McNear addressed the officer : "Cap- 
tain, look here, I just come out of one war, and aint 
looking for another. You can read this paper, (hand- 
ing him his discharge from the United States Army.) 
I don't know nothing about your business, but Mr. Col- 

Across the Plains 25 

lins owns six teams in this train, that is ready to pull 
out, and we are going west. If you have any busi- 
ness with anybody in Captain Prowse's train you bet- 
ter pick out your man. Here's where we leave the 
train." Without further ceremony McNear mounted 
the lead wagon, took the reins and ordered "the Col- 
lins' outfit to come on." By this time the **corn man" 
came to the front and began his story. To hold a con- 
versation privately the captain took him behind a 
bunch of rocks. In less than ten minutes, the captain 
rode out in pompous style, straightened up in his sad- 
dle, and ordered his men to "right wheel, forward 
march," and they rode off like the soldiers who "first 
rode up the hill, then rode down again." The only 
question to the whole affair was : What induced the 
captain to disobey his orders to return the train to 
Fort Laramie? 

May nth we were in sight of snow on the Rocky 
mountains. This was at the fifth crossing of the 
Sweetwater. A detachment of soldiers from Fort 
Laramie had been stationed here to look out for de- 
serters. The day before our arrival all the soldiers, 
including the sergeant, deserted, taking horses, equip- 
ments, guns, ammunition and blankets. 

May 13th we began the ascent to South Pass, and 
at 10 a. m. reached Fort Casper, an abandoned log 
house on the side of the mountain, where a few soldiers 
wintered in 1863. At this point our train divided, part 
going via Fort Bridger and Soda Springs, our part of 
the train going by the way of "Lander's cut-off." The 
ascent to South Pass was so gradual that we scarcely 
knew when the summit was passed. 

26 Across the Plains 

May 15th we camped at the foot of the western 
slope on the Big Sandy. Here we caught our first 
trout. We had some difficulty in going down the west 
slope of the Rocky mountains. All the streams on 
the west slope abounded in trout. 


May i6th we drove to the first fork of Green river. 
The water was deep and the current swift. The "char- 
acter" of our train was ''Qiance," the easy-going 
"devil-may-care" fellow who never shirked. It was 
a precaution to test the current and depths of streams 
always before attempting to cross. After digging away 
ten foot of bank to drive to the water safely, a volun- 
teer was called for. "Give me your mustang," said 
"Chance," "and if I live through it, you fellows come 
on with your wagons." At the first dash "Chance" 
and his pony went out of sight, and came to the surface 
twenty feet below sputtering and spouting like a whale. 
"It's deep there; better come down easy," said 
"Chance." All of the wagon beds were blocked up to 
the top of their side standards and lashed down to 
their running gear. A rope was tied to the rear axle 
of each wagon manned by a dozen men, eased down 
by a like number, and when afloat, to hold it from 
drifting down the current, another rope was attach- 
ed to the tongue and carried between the lead mules, 
handled by a crew of twelve on the opposite shore. 
When the lead mules were out of sight under water, 
with the aid of the rope the men on the west shore 
hauled them to a sand bar where they found footing. 
The leaders towed the wheelers along to the sand bar, 

Across the Plains 27 

and the wagon followed to shore in safety. As I had 
traveled two-thirds of the distance from Omaha on 
foot, it did not occur to me that I would be called upon 
to mount the high seat and drive my four-mule team 
the first through the only dangerous crossing we had 
met. The driver of this team had been called back to 
look after the loose stock and there was no one else to 
drive. When Captain Prowse, in a tone of voice that 
appeared to have a business ring, said, "Get up and 
tackle it, Collins," there was nothing else to do. "Can't 
I ride with you, Mr. Collins? Fm scared of them low 
wagons." This was the voice of "Jane" and she 
climbed upon the seat beside me. The leaders went 
over their heads the first plunge. The men at the rear 
with ropes let the wagon down easy, pushing the 
wheelers in up to their backs. Then came the wagon. 
When it reached five feet of water it floated and top- 
pled with the current. At this point, where all the 
skill of a driver was needed as well as any "grain" of 
"sand" he might possess, "Jane" came over onto me, 
grabbing and scrambling to keep from falling off. We 
landed safely and this same process was used in cross- 
ing every wagon in the train. Few travelers in these 
days would attempt so hazardous a crossing. With 
us it was a ground hog case. Hard work, level heads, 
and good judgment carried every team over safely. 

May 17th we drove eight miles and crossed the 
second fork of Green river with less difficulty than 
the first. 

May 1 8th we drove twelve miles and camped on 
the third fork. Here we caught mountain trout. At 
the fourth fork we camped near a grave. The head- 

28 Across the Plains 

board bore the inscription: "Martin Moran, killed 
by Indians in 1862." (Digger Indians.) This was 
near the foot of Wind River mountains. Driving five 
miles farther we camped in a canyon. It snowed all 


May 2 1 St the snow continued. We were unable to 
travel over three miles this day, the trail being almost 
impassable. During this short drif e we dug out snow 
eight feet deep for fifty feet and camped at Fort Sny- 
der — a log cabin where a few soldiers camped the sum- 
mer previous. One of our party with a saddle-horse 
took the trail ahead and returning reported forty 
teams and a hundred men working their way through 
twenty miles of snow two to three feet deep. This 
was ''Lander's cut-off," and we were five days digging 
our way through snow. Two days we drove our ani- 
mals back five to eight miles to the nearest grass. 
Three days we fed them flour out of our provision sup- 
ply. We had fed out all our grain. 

May 26th we came to the camp where forty teams 
ahead of us had just left. It was a sight. Empty 
wagons, barrels, kegs, boxes, chairs, stoves, and 
everything of weight or bulk that could be dispensed 
with, had been left on the ground and abandoned to 
enable the party to move through the snow and mud. 
All they took with them was packed on their animals, 
and on one loaded wagon. 

May 27th found our train still tugging up the 
mountain side, doubHpg teams, unloading and carry- 
ing on our backs sacks of flour, grain and boxes of 

Across the Plains 29 

canned goods. At times a heavy wagon would have 
forty head of horses and mules and a driver to each 
span moving very slowly. At 7 p. m. the wagons 
were from one-half to three miles apart. There was 
no cooked food and many of us were without tent 
or bed. One of my own teams, just at the top of the 
mountain, was actually buried in eight feet of snow. 
We passed a very uncomfortable night on the mount- 
ain. The snow was crusted over. At 4 a. m.. May 
28th, the wagons were taken over the crust until the 
sun made it soft and then the digging and pulling be- 
gan again. We finally overtook the parties ahead of 
us. They were still overloaded and I purchased sev- 
eral bags of sugar, at forty-five cents per pound, and 
canned peaches at $13.00 per dozen from the owner 
of the wagon. 

"Jane" had a tough time while we were crossing 
over the mountains through the snow. No one paid 
much attention to her after she had been told to remain 
in her wagon and we would see her safely through. 
She was always good natured and through all the 
difficulties sat in her wagon like a statue. 

May 29th was our first day out of the mountains 
and away from the snow in eight days. We camped 
on Salt river, near Salt springs. 

When we nooned before reaching Salt creek a 
spirit of adventure seized upon me and on foot I fol- 
lowed a game trail across a plateau with some mis- 
givings that I might not overtake the train until they 
camped some twelve miles ahead. The road made 
an ox bow over a rough road of boulders and I took 
the short cut to rest from riding. 

30 Across the Plains 

After walking about five miles, I sat down on a 
rock on a barren flat and picked up a copper coin 
dated 1759. I did not overtake the train until they 

I recently came across this copper coin, and think- 
ing of its date and the circumstance of finding it forty 
years ago out in a wild Indian country, entitled it to 
some value; I sent it to a New York expert on 
coins for his judgment. I was not a little surprised 
when he replied, ''It is a Swedish coin and not worth 
a penny."'^ 

May 30th we drove to Blackfoot creek by noon. 
This was at the junction of Sublet cutoflf and the 
Soda Springs road. Several lodges of Blackfoot In- 
dians were camped here fishing. For a tin cup of 
flour they would exchange a string of trout a yard 
long. A cup of sugar would take the catch of half 
a dozen Indian boys who were better fishermen than 
the men. Trout was so abundant that the water was 
in a constant ripple. 


June 3rd we reached Snake river — Harry Richards 
and Massa's Rope Ferry. We paid $3.00 each for 
crossing the wagons. The stock swam. The owners 
of the ferry and their men quietly sat on the bank and 
watched the men in our train do all the work in cross- 
ing. The forty teams ahead of us were taken across 
before our train. All the way from Kearney west, just 
behind my last team, had followed a span of mules, 

•This coin is still in the possession of the author. 

Across the Plains 31 

with a single wagon carrying ten long, lank Missouri 
corn crackers with their beds and provisions. If they 
ever possessed a name, it was not divulged on the 
trip. They were dubbed "Long Jim" and the "Ten 
Strike." The one reason for taking them in at Kear- 
ney was that so many men with only one span of 
mules to look after gave us nine extra men to help 
out in a pinch. 

When the crossing of teams began here the **Ten 
Strike" left their positipn in the train and pulled in 
ahead of my wagon, No. 4. Apparently no attention 
was paid to this, the first breach in our discipline, 
but it did not escape the eagle eye of McNear. It was 
a rainy, drizzly day, and everybody was out of humor. 
After all the wagons were crossed and were safe in 
camp, and our tents up, we were eating supper. It was 
noticed that something was "out of joint" in McNear's 
mind, and he was "wool gathering." He placed his 
tin plate and cup on the ground, stood up and shook 
himself out, then said: "Now, if we'uns want to see 
some fun, come with me." "What's up, Jim?" I 
asked. "Did you see the Ten Strike' pull in ahead of 
our No. 4 in crossing ? I m going over to their tent and 

clean out the whole d d outfit." Jim was as mild 

a mannered man as "ever scuttled ship." He would 
serve one man as faithfully as another, but anything 
that had a semblance of unfairness would not "go 
down" with him. He would fight wild cats if he 
were right. It took no little persuading to keep him 
from his purpose. I finally said to him, "It is less 
than three days to the end of our journey, and we 
have had no 'scraps.' Don't you think it a little late to 

32 Across the Plains 

begin now?" "All right," said Jim, "let it go." That 
ended it. 

On the opposite bank was a camp of Bannock In- 
dians, cooking their mixed meal of flour and water in 
a basket. Stones were heated and placed in the basket, 
and this repeated until the meal was cooked. 

June 6th we drove twenty-nine miles. We halted 
at a dry camp — no wood, water or grass. Animals 
that were tied up at night to the wagon wheels gnawed 
and destroyed what was left of the wagon covers. 
The only fuel was buffalo chips. Here we came onto 
the "49" wagon trail leading to California and also 
to Salt Lake and it was fairly bristling with pack 
animals, twenty-span California mule teams and 
wagons with trails loaded as heavy as twelve thousand 
pounds to a team. The twenty mules were driven by 
one man, riding the "near" wheel mule, and using a 
single "jerk" line running to the bit of the lead mule, 
thus guiding the entire team. One jerk of the line was 
"gee," two jerks "haw," etc. The plains around us 
were strewn with the heads and bleached bones of 
buffalo killed by Indians. 

A few hours' drive carried us through Pleasant 
Valley and over gentle rolling grass-covered hills and 
across the continental divide the second time to the 
eastern slope. From the foot of the eastern slope we 
rumbled along through a rocky canyon, at the mouth 
of which we found a toll gate and a western charac- 
ter, with slouch hat, buckskin trousers and shirts, and 
with the regular "six shooter" and belt of ammunition 
strapped upon him. With these accompaniments he col- 
lected our last toll of $1.50 for each wagon. Our 

Across the Plains . 33 

mounted men drove the loose stock around the gate 
and over a rocky hill, thereby saving toll. With the 
exchange of a few choice western epithets between the 
man at the gate and the men driving stock the latter 
were soon out of sight over the hill and the incident 
was closed. 


June nth we camped on the Stinking Water river — 
so called from the buffalo herds dying there from a 
disease in a severe winter years before — and within a 
short day's drive of Virginia City, the famous gold 
field. We had left the Missouri river eighty-one days 

On the morning of Sunday, June I2th, 1864, we 
were in camp in sight of Virginia City. There being 
no grass or camping grounds nearer than two or three 
miles our stock was turned out on the hills in charge 
of herders. We had reached our last camp. The bal- 
ance of the day was spent in bathing in a stream, wash- 
ing our clothing, baking bread, and a general over- 
hauling of wagons, preparatory to entering the city 
in decent order the next day, and here our train dis- 

I walked over to Virginia City to look at the town. 
All the stores were filled with miners buying their 
week's provisions. Counting freight from the Mis- 
souri river, flour was considered low at $35.00 for a 
bag of 96 pounds ; coal oil, $4.00 to $6.00 a gallon ; 
candles, 50 cents a pound; sugar, 50 cents; coffee, 
$1.00; a hickory axe handle, $3.00; an axe, $2.00; etc. 
The gambling rooms and saloons were running "full 

34 Across the Plains 

blast," bands were playing, men and women were 
running all the gambling devices known to a mining 
camp, to separate the miner, the merchant and the pil- 
grim from his money. Great stacks of gold and sil- 
ver coin lay on every table, and the rooms were filled 
with a motley set of humanity. The streets were 
crowded with people. Half a dozen horse auctions 
were going on. Every counter had its gold scales, 
and every man his buckskin bag of gold dust. There 
was the rough miner in slouch hat, woolen shirt and 
trousers bulged out at the pockets with bags of *'dust." 
His hair and whiskers were long and filled with dirt. 
There was the gambler in broadcloth, a broad rimmed 
black hat, a "boiled shirt," with a diamond as large 
as a hazel nut. There were women gamblers, be- 
rouged and bedecked with paint, diamonds galore, 
dressed in black satin or gay colored silk dresses. 
"Hurdy-Gurdy" dances held sway in the dance halls, 
where any man could engage a partner for half a 
pennyweight in "dust," and pay the barkeeper the 
same for drinks for himself and partner, "one turn." 
Greenbacks passed current for only fifty cents on the 
dollar. The medium was "gold dust" at $18.00 an 
ounce. Two banks bought gold dust at the same rate, 
and paid for it in drafts on New York, for the mer- 
chants and miners were always sending away money. 
Sunday was pay day, when the bosses met all their 
men at their cabins, built of logs, and weighed out the 
bright new dust just out of the ground they had 
worked in. From $5.00 to $8.00 per day was paid to 
laborers, and $10.00 a day to good drifters. 
Earlier in the season occasionally a drunken 
ruffian would ride his horse into a saloon, and begin 

Across the Plains 35 

shooting the heads off the bottles, with a revolver 
(everybody carried a revolver) — and breaking the 
mirrors to "smithereens." The proprietor dare not in- 
terfere, not knowing who the offender's friends might 
be that were in the crowd. It seemed the very off- 
scourings of creation were there. Men were robbed 
and murdered for their money. There was a reign of 
terror that made every man feel that his life was in 

'Vigilance committee." 

Finally in the early spring the best element organ- 
ized a ''vigilance committee" and began rounding up 
the desperadoes. Pickets surrounded the town one 
night and when they closed in dozens of the men 
wanted were in the drag net. The committee sat all 
night behind closed aoors. About daylight the cul- 
prits were brought before them and in less than an 
hour sentences were passed. Many were "banished," 
and many were to be hanged. About daylight that 
morning some of them were dangling from the frames 
of unfinished buildings on Main street. At one point, 
five were hanged at one time. The good work went 
on. The country was scoured for one hundred miles 
around. The men who were guilty were hanged 
wherever found. During the following six months, 
nearly one hundred outlaws had paid the penalty and 
the morals of the community began to improve. The 
only mistakes were made in banishing some who should 
have been hanged. For thieving the penalty was 
forty lashes on the bare back. 

My cabin was half way between Virginia City and 

36 Across the Plains 

the little town of Nevada. Two months after my ar- 
rival imagine my surprise one night on hearing the 
heavy tramp of men near my cabin. Mr. McNear was 
sleeping on the ground near me and could not resist 
an investigation. In a few moments he returned with 
this bit of news; "The vigilantes have got our man 
'Chance, the Mermaid/ tied to the whipping post, and 
are giving him the limit, forty lashes!" 

Poor ''Chance !" He had stolen tools from a miner's 
cabin, and was paying the penalty. He was a better 
man on the plains than in the wild gold camp. On 
the long tedious trip no one had complained of a fault, 
and for the good there was in him he was duly credited. 


The Indians along the Platte, as far as Kearney, 
were Pawnees and had few fire-arms. Bows and ar- 
rows were used in killing buffalo. The Pawnees 
roamed as far south as the Republican river, where 
they frequently met the Sioux, who were always ready 
for war. From Fort Kearney north and west to the 
Sweetwater the Sioux claimed the country. West 
of them was the Shoshone, or Snake tribe, as far as 
Snake river, then came the Blackfeet and Flatheads, 
their country reaching west and north of the Snake. 
After leaving Fort Kearney, it was dangerous to travel 
in small parties until reaching Snake river. The Sioux 
were in an ugly mood. When they came to our camp, 
we scarcely knew whether it was to look us over, ex- 

Across the Plains 37 

pecting to return at daylight and attack us, or not. We 
were afraid to treat them unfriendly and hence we 
submitted to their impudence and impositions. Small 
outfits ahead of us were frequently attacked and 
trains that followed had exciting stories to relate of 
their continual annoyance by the Sioux. When no 
Indians were seen the sign was ominous. While in 
sight it was easy to watch their movements. There 
was always great danger in the country of the Sioux. 

At Fort Laramie we were greatly surprised at the 
number of well dressed squaws about the post. The 
half breed children showed the "early settlement of 
the country by whites." Indians were allowed to trade 
at Fort Laramie then. In these days of the buffalo the 
Indians wore these robes around them. Very little was 
known about ("Mazaska") money. It was barter and 
trade. A dressed buifalo hide was valued at $2.00 to 
$5.00. A pony was worth $25.00 to $50.00 in buffalo 
robes at the above prices. Great stress was laid on 
white buffalo — white on the hump and down on the 
shoulders. On their hunts a party would abandon 
a herd and chase a white buffalo all day in preference. 
It was "great medicine," and a white robe was "trade" 
for twenty-five to fifty ordinary robes. The "beaver" 
or "silk" robes, come from the mountain buffalo, or 
bison, that ranged only in the mountain country. They 
were smaller, the hair being shorter and more even in 
length, and^,were generally killed in their best seasons, 
while the Indians were hunting elk and deer. I saw a 
bison hide freshly killed, dropped from a hunter's pack 
animal. The hunter told me it was a "bison," and 
sometimes called beaver or silk robe. We could "swap" 

38 Across the Plains 

a sack of flour for a pony and the Indian would then 
steal the pony before next daylight. 


In the winter of '65 and '66 I sold goods at Silver 
Bow. Thirty miles southwest, towards Deer Lodge 
river, gold was discovered by a party of German pros- 
pectors and the place was called German Gulch. If 
there is any one thing more than another, that will 
create excitement among miners it is the vague news 
that "new diggins" have been struck. The farther 
away they are the more eagerly miners and others will 
follow them. Curiosity prompted me to ride over and 
look at the situation — only thirty miles away. I made 
the trip and return between "sun and sun." As I rode 
down the mountain side a party of miners gath- 
ered around a fresh killed moose, which had come 
down the mountains in the night, and in passing 
through the camp and crossing a drain ditch, fell in. 
The ditch was too narrow and deep for him to climb 
out, and, being cross timbered, he could neither travel 
up nor down. In the morning when the miners came 
to work they found him cavorting around the narrow 
space. A rope was thrown over his horns and he was 
dragged up to the surface. His first move was to 
"charge" the crowd. The man at the end of the rope 
ran around a tree and the moose followed until he 
wound himself around the tree when he was killed with 

Across the Plains 39 

an axe. I arrived in time to see them take his hide off, 
and, with wooden pegs, pin it on the ground to dry. 


Confederate Gulch was about thirty miles from 
Helena. Shallow placer diggings were discovered 
there in 1865. It was more profitable to "ground 
sluice" with hose ; cut the banks away by a stream of 
water through a hose and nozzle, and carry all the dirt 
through sluice boxes, than by any other process, work- 
ing the bed as well as the side of the gulch. This kept 
two crews of thirty men each working day and night. 
No "clean up" was made until the end of three 
weeks, then all the sluices were cleaned and the 
false bottoms taken up. The flour gold was caught 
with quicksilver, the coarse gold was panned out, and 
put in gold pans set along in a double row on the 
ground. Each pan was filled to the brim, a gold pan 
holding about two gallons. Except for its bright, rich, 
yellow color, the gold resembled corn meal. This was 
the "clean up," and like myself, many others thought 
it of enough consequence to carry a blanket behind 
their saddle, take along some "grub" and ride horse- 
back thirty miles to witness it. One hundred and sev- 
enty-two thousand dollars in clean, bright gold dust 
was the result. Such a sight had never before been 
seen and possibly may never be again. 

40 Across the Plains 


A. J. Oliver ran a daily stage line from Virginia 
City to Helena in '65. I was buying gold dust in the 
banking house of Nowlan & Weary and acted as Mr. 
Oliver's agent. When the stampede to Helena on the 
Prickly Pear gulch began I was sent to Helena to 
open a branch bank. Wells, Fargo & Company also 
ran a stage line to Helena with Concord stages and 
first class equipment. The Oliver line utilized ranches 
along the road for stations for changing horses, about 
every twelve to sixteen miles. The horses, princi- 
pally cayuses, ran loose on the prairie, few of them be- 
ing broken to harness. Six horses was a "change 
team." The wheelers and leaders were partly broken 
to harness and for the "swing" or middle span wild 
cayuses were caught up and put in — that had never 
known a harness. With the wheelers pushing them 
and the leaders dragging them there was nothing 
left for them but to go along. In the early winter of 
'65 I took the Oliver line at Virginia City at 4 a. m., 
and just as the sun went down I was at Helena, 145 
miles away. That night I rented a window space ten 
feet square for $100.00 per month. The next 
morning I took the stage at 4 o'clock and in 
the evening was at Virginia City — 145 miles again. 
That night I gathered an armful of stationery and at 
4 the next morning started for Helena, arriving 
there about sundown, making three trips in three suc- 
cessive days of 145 miles each — ^435 miles. In the three 
days' travel I had slept not to exceed ten hours out of 
the seventy-two. By 10 a. m. the fourth day I was 
ready for business and began buying gold dust. My 

Across the Plains 41 

stationery and gold scales I could carry in an ordinary 

Half a mile out of Helena, on the regular stage 
road, stands a scraggy pine tree called Hangman's 
Tree where half a dozen tough characters were hang- 
ed from time to time by "Vigilantes." 


A meat market in Virginia City made a wonderful 
display on Christmas, 1864. To keep within bounds, 
I can safely say there were half a dozen freshly killed 
buffalo and as many buffalo calves, a dozen mountain 
sheep, a dozen each elk, deer and antelope, half a dozen 
mountain lions, two mountain bison, half a dozen 
grizzly bears, weighing six hundred to a thousand 
pounds each, and as many small black bears, sage, 
grouse and willow or sharp-tail without number. In 
addition to all this there was a larger display of fine 
steer beef than I have ever seen in an Omaha market. 


In February, '66, I loaded one of my four-mule 
teams with provisions and started for Silver Bow to 
''open a store." My stock consisted of a few bags of 
flour, worth $45.00 for 98 pounds, canned goods, ba- 

42 Across the Plains 

con, sugar, coffee, gold pans, picks and shovels, the 
latter selling in Virginia City for "one ounce" ($18.00) 
each. The one wagon load was worth considerable 
''dust." The ground was covered with snow, the 
streams were frozen over and the mercury marked 
twenty-five below zero. One man accompanied me. 
As he had spent the night before in a dance hall his 
services were not of much account. I knew, however, 
that a day out in the cold would sober him up and as 
no one else was available I took him along. We 
crossed the Jefferson, one of the three forks of the 
Missouri river and drove to the foot of the main 
range of the Rocky mountains. The snow increased, 
so did the wind. When we unhitched and tied the 
mules to the wagon at night a regular **blizzard" 
struck us. There was no water and as the only fuel 
in sight was green willows we could not build a fire 
to melt snow or warm by. Under the wagon bows, 
covered by canvas, we lay down on a mattress on top 
of the barrels and boxes after a supper of frozen can- 
ned peaches, cold bacon and crackers and worried 
through until daylight. The divide was so gradual 
in crossing the mountains that we had no trouble on 
this account. The snow had drifted as high as the 
wagon bows and we had to shovel our way through. 
At the top of the mountain a ranchman named Mc- 
Cartey had built a good house of logs and here we 
took shelter. In front of the cabin were two logs set 
in the ground, with a cross log laid on, to hitch horses 
to. In the middle of this top log was the head of a 
mountain sheep. Part of the skull and one horn had 
been grown over so that one horn and part of the skull 

Across the Plains 43 

was all that could be seen. The ranchman told me 
when he found this head it was thirty feet above the 
ground. His theory was that the sheep stood on ten 
or more feet of snow, and in rubbing his head, got one 
horn fast around the tree, and could not free himself. 
There he died. All his bones lay at the foot of the tree, 
and from its growth it was presumed that he got 
caught in this predicament some twenty years before. 
This identical skull and horns, with a part of the tree, 
can at this date, January, 1904, be seen at the Union 
Pacific headquarters in Omaha. Near this ranch I 
found a pair of "locked" deer horns. Two bucks in 
fighting had gotten their horns locked so they could 
not separate and they died there. Their bones were 
lying near the horns. 



In the fall of '66, miners and others who had a 
"home stake" and wanted to carry their gold dust to 
the ''states," found it difficult to get transportation. 
The Indians had run off Wells, Fargo & Company's 
stage horses between Salt Lake and Denver and the 
"road agents" were "busy" holding up stages and rob- 
bing passengers between Virginia City and Salt Lake. 
All the steamboats had left Fort Benton early in July. 
After that water on Deadman's Rapids was so low 
that navigation was practically suspended. The only 
alternative was to embark from Fort Benton in small 
boats. With my father, who had come out the year 
before, we left Virginia City the morning of August 
29th, with our own teams, carrying sixty passengers 
for Fort Benton. The first day on the road a four- 
mule team turned out and passed us on a dead run. 
Besides the driver there were six men, all tough look- 
ing characters, armed with rifles and pistols. They 
all hung their heads as they passed us. With my 
teams were four men, late members of the vigilantes, 
who recognized two of the men the vigilantes had 
banished from Virginia City two years before. It 
was generally believed that every man leaving for the 
"states" at that season of the year carried with him a 
"home stake" of gold dust and this episode aroused 

Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 45 

the suspicion of all my passengers, especially that of 
the four vigilantes. One of two things was cock sure, 
either the strangers followed our party to rob us or 
to kill the vigilantes. Fifty thousand dollars in gold 
dust or the lives of four men was the stake. When 
we drove to Dearborn river we camped in the open, 
near a cut bank and slept with our clothes on. The 
guard was doubled and the order was given to graze 
the stock until dark and then tie every animal to the 
wagon. When the men on guard came in at mid- 
night, they reported seeing four mounted men leading 
two horses saddled, crossing the river, about three 
hundred yards below and stopping in a clump of trees 
near the bank. The strategy of McNear was to at 
once build fires and let them know our camp was 
alive and that they had been discovered. There was 
no more sleep in camp the rest of that night. 

One of our men crept down under the river bank 
within fifty yards of the strangers and saw them dis- 
mount, then suddenly get on their horses, and scurry 
away to the south. Had they been friendly travelers 
they would have ridden into camp and made them- 
selves known. Nothing more was seen of them and 
we arrived at Fort Benton without further incident. 

My father, E. A. Collins, and myself purchased two 
boats, each thirty feet long and six feet wide, named 
respectively "Cora Bray" and "The Hulk." The latter 
because of its unwieldiness. Each boat carried twelve 
passengers. They were built by Bill Bivins, who later 
became a notorious robber and desperado and who 
some years later was balked in trying to rob my store 

46 Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 

at Fort Laramie. He has since served a term in the 
Wyoming penitentiary. 

Jim McNear, than whom no more faithful compan- 
ion ever drew the breath of life, shipped as my 
"skipper." My father was in charge of the second 
boat with ten other passengers and their baggage. We 
were ready to leave Fort Benton on September ist. 
I was custodian of a wooden soap box that contained 
eighty pounds of gold dust and gold nuggets. At 
midnight, before embarking, McNear carried this on 
board and placed it in the bow, which was decked over. 
He slept on board that night. Until reaching Sioux 
City no one knew that this gold dust was on board. 
Our expectation was to float down the river. For 
three days we were in swift water and made good 
headway. Then the river widened out and there was 
no perceptible current. This day one of our htst oars- 
men fell overboard. The second night after he raved 
with mountain fever. The great inconvenience we 
suffered from this incident cannot be imagined or de- 
scribed. There was no physician nearer than Fort 
Berthold, over a hundred miles below at the mouth of 
the Yellowstone. On the fourth day ice froze on the 
edges and not wanting to take chances of being frozen 
in and wintering in that country we landed, and all 
hands set to work making oars out of young ash trees. 
Each oar when finished weighed fifty to sixty pounds. 
A rowing crew was organized. E^ch man rowed ev- 
ery other half hour a day, and when we ran at night, 
three hours for each man every other night was his 
task. Occasionally we passed a military post, which 
would fire a cannon shot and round us into a landing. 

Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 47 

The officer would inform us where hostile Indians were 
camped and not permit us to leave until one hundred 
men were together. Boats were so numerous that one 
day's delay sufficed. Hostile Indians usually camped 
in a sharp bend of the river where the current set near 
the bank on their shore. We made runs past these 
bends in the night. With such precaution, the entire 
trip of twenty-one hundred miles was made without 
being attacked, although boats ahead and behind us 
dodged arrows frequently. 


With our fleet of boats that left the last military 
landing was a small scow with three men and with a 
light load they could easily pull away from us. Two 
of the men would go ashore and hunt across the bends 
and drag their game to the bank beyond, the man with 
the scow would land and pick them up with the game 
they had killed, consisting of elk and deer and occa- 
sionally a buffalo and mountain sheep. They supplied 
our party with fresh game. Buffalo at two dollars for 
a quarter, elk one dollar, deer fifty cents. While the 
fleet of boats remained near each other there was a 
good demand for all the game they killed and they 
would earn two or three dollars a day per man. It was 
rather an amusing sight to see the little craft pull 
along side a boat, unload a quarter of game, weigh out 
the gold dust from the buyer, and go on to the next 
boat. The market supplied us for nearly two weeks 
with fresh game and there was no necessity for us to 
waste time in hunting. 


Some of the bottom lands below the mouth of the 
Musselshell were covered with forests of large cotton- 

4& Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 

wood trees, measuring four to five feet in diameter, 
among them a smaller growth of saplings and under- 
brush. The Indians made their winter camps of large 
villages here, as the snow fall in the timber was three 
to four feet — the only feed for their immense bands 
of ponies was cottonwood bark. The young saplings 
were cut down and left in scattering piles around the 
village and the ponies pealed the bark from these 
young trees and lived on it the entire winter. By the 
time the steamboats arrived at these camping places in 
the spring the Indians had moved away and a sup- 
ply of dry fuel was ready to take on board. Where 
the river ran between two ranges of hills it was nar- 
row and in the month of September we saw large 
cakes of ice lodged seventy and eighty feet above the 
river surface that had been left there when the river 
gorged in the breakup in the spring. This was a 
hundred miles above where steamboats landed and put 
off supplies for the military post, Fort Totten, near 
Devil's lake, a hundred miles east of the landing, and 
the quartermaster's teams hauled them from the river 
to the post. 

When we left the last military landing the wind was 
fair and the current strong. The sail was set and 
in order to take every advantage and make rapid head- 
way, with the six oars, we sped along at eight or nine 
miles an hour. Rounding a sharp bend, late in the day, 
we expected to tie up here and make the run past the 
Indian camp ahead of us when night came on. Imag- 
ine our surprise when several 


half a mile ahead of us. It was too late to check 

Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 49 

our speed and land. We were in the current sweeping 
down the bend close to the bank. Our boats had no 
keel and a flat bottom could not be easily handled in 
the current. We decided to take chances of running 
past the Indian camp. We had on board a man who 
belonged to one of the Indian trading stores down the 
river. He and his companion were on their way down 
in a small skiff. In a high wind their boat was driven 
on rocks in the rapids and was swamped. One of the 
men swam ashore and was rescued by the boat ahead 
of us. The other could not swim, but clung to the 
boat which was carried by the wind onto an island. 
As we approached the island he hailed us and we took 
him aboard. He could talk Sioux and seemed to 
know where all the hostiles were camped along the 
river. He was familiar with the camp we were near- 
ing and believed we could run by it without being no- 
ticed, as no one was visible. Scarcely had we come 
opposite the lodges when a dozen dogs broke loose 
and their continual barking brought some of the 
squaws out. They hallooed to us and motioned for us 
to come on shore. They said the bucks were all out 
hunting a band of buffalo and had fired the prairie 
to drive them towards camp. The squaw man, whom 
we had rescued, told us that was only a trap and the 
sooner we got out of reach the safer we would be, so 
we got away as soon as possible. Before losing sight 
of their camp as many as forty bucks came out of the 
lodges and waved at us. The squaw man informed 
us that the bucks had purposely kept out of sight 
thinking the squaws might induce us to land and we 
would then fall easy victims. We were the first of the 

50 Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 

fleet of boats to pass this camp in daylight and we had 
a narrow escape. 


When we rounded into the great bend of the Mis- 
souri six buffalo jumped from the bank and swam 
across, not two hundred yards ahead of us. While 
watching them scramble up the bank on the opposite 
shore our attention was attracted to a black moving 
mass, less than half a mile from the river bank. So 
dense was the pack it resembled miles of burnt prai- 
rie. It was a mass of buffaloes reaching away to the 
horizon, and extending for miles along the river. Our 
boat was abreast of the herd over one hour. It was 
one of the vast herds that roamed north of the Mis- 
souri river as far as the British possessions. It was 
a sight that few men have seen even in the palmiest 
buffalo days. 

One day our provision supply was reduced to bacon 
and coffee. We landed at a wild plum grove and 
found an abundance of the fruit and also wild cherries 
and bull berries. The next day we replenished our 
provision supply at the trading store of a French 
trader on the bank of the river. I bought several bales 
of buffalo robes to place along the sides of the boat to 
protect our oarsmen from Indian arrows. This 
trader had built a stockade of posts, set on end, and 
inside were log huts and warehouses for storing goods. 
The structure was proof against attack by Indians. In 
trading he received the robes and furs through an 
opening in the stockade and passed out the goods the 
same way. Indians were not allowed inside, except 

Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 51 

perhaps a chief or an Indian who directed the trading-. 
Here we bought dried buffalo tongues at fifty cents 
per dozen. They could be had in quantities of a thou- 
sand or more at a less price. The Indians along the 
upper Missouri, when buffaloes were abundant, used 
the meat to make "pemmican." The lean was cut in 
pieces and the fat heated and poured over it. Bags 
were made of green buffalo hide — the hair side out — 
sewed with green hide strips. The meat and fat were 
sewed up in sacks weighing about one hundred and 
forty pounds each. When cold the package was as 
indestructible as a bag of sand.* 


A tribe of nomads, half French and half Indian, 
lived north of Fort Union, above the mouth of the Yel- 
lowstone. They were called French half-breeds. 
Once a year this picturesque caravan came from near 
the British line to Fort Berthold to trade. Each In- 
dian drove a single ox harnessed with strips of buffalo 
hide to a two-wheeled cart, the entire cart, tires, wheels 
and axles, all being made of wood. Not a nail or piece 
of metal of any kind was used in their construction. 
The screeching of the wheels could be heard for miles. 
The carts were loaded with dressed buffalo hides and a 
part of their return freight was "pemmican." (The 
Dacotah name for this food is "wasna.") From five 

•Later I visited at old Fort Peck when the agent was 
about to move the agrency down to Grand River, Inside 
the stockade was a pile of pemmican about as large as a stem 
wheel steamboat. The trader had traded for it from the 
Upper Missouri Indians. The United States agent in turn 
bought it from the trader for issue back to the Indians for 
winter food in case a hard winter and deep snow prevented 
driving beef cattle in for issue. 

52 Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 

hundred to a thousand composed a train. The carts 
were driven by men — few women and children accom- 
panying them. 

Fort Berthold was the steamboat landing for the 
military post, Fort Totten, near Devil's lake, the dis- 
tance about one hundred miles in the interior. During 
the winter the only communication from Fort Ber- 
thold to Devil's lake and also from Berthold to 
Fort Benton was by dogs and sledges, with half- 
breeds, or Uncpapa Indians for drivers — ^same 
as the method employed in Alaska and the arctic. 
When we reached Fort Berthold my father went to 
headquarters and hunted up the medical officer. From 
him he 


for the sick man. On our arrival at Omaha, he found a 
letter from the doctor saying that "one of the officers 
here had reported to the war department that the medi- 
cal officer was selling whiskey to citizens," and asking, 
"if he would state the circumstance clearly and aid him 
in clearing it up." General Grant was then in Washing- 
ton and my father wrote to him explaining the matter. 
In due course of mail, the General replied that the 
War department would immediately take the matter 
up, and an inquiry be made as to why the officer 
should not appear before a court martial and make the 
charge more definite, or fully establish the facts 

The trader's clerk at Fort Peck was "Club Foot 
George," whose two feet were "clubbed." The winter 
previous he had started for Fort Benton on horseback, 
with one pony, packing his provisions, etc. Several 

Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 53 

miles below Benton his pony left him in a snow storm. 
His only safety lay in walking the distance through a 
foot of snow and passed near an Indian camp in the 
night. The next morning the Indians discovered the 
trail left in the snow by his club feet and not under- 
standing it immediately organized a hunting party to 
follow the trail and kill the strange animal that made 
it. It was lucky for George that he was found in Fort 


Above Grand River, where we landed for plums and 
berries, a short distance from the grove, was a hill 
covered with cactus and soapweed. Petrified stumps 
and trunks of trees, ten to twenty inches in diameter 
covered the hillside. Owing to shallow water 
steamboats could not land near here and very little was 
known of this bed of petrifications. It was "Bad 
Lands" and sand hills and near hostile Indians. One 
hundred miles below the mouth of the Yellowstone 
river, on the east bank of the Missouri, was Fort Ber- 
thold, a cantonment of United States troops, and also 
a trading store and a band of miserable Minneconjou 
Indians. The huts of the Indians were made entirely 
of sod or adobe, shaped cone fashion, like the ice huts 
of the Esquimaux. The Indians were a squalid lot of 
lazy and dirty people. A sun dance was going on when 
we landed to get a supply of provisions. The wind 
was fair for sailing and we lost no time in getting 
away, and saw nothing of the dance. 

A few Indians used bull boats for crossing the river. 
A green buffalo hide stretched over a frame of willows, 
circular in form, about two feet deep, would carry an 

54 Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 

Indian family of about six hundred pounds. One In- 
dian sat near the edge and paddled towards him, other- 
wise the tub would only turn around. 


Two hundred miles above Yankton we ran into 
schools of snags and could make no runs after night. 
It being important to get into civilization again, we 
made a head-light from a lard can and used candles, 
thinking this would enable us to see far enough ahead 
to avoid snags. On the stern of our boat we put out 
a red light to guide the boat behind us. The first night 
we landed and prepared supper on shore, and a light 
supper it was — we had bacon and coffee only. 

An hour after we had pushed away from shore, 
heavy clouds darkened the sky and it became so dark 
we could scarcely distinguish the water from the sky. 
While we "stood by the oars" we let the current carry 
us. Suddenly a school of snags loomed up ahead of 
the light and before the oars could be handled the 
"Cora Bray" drifted onto two snags. We floated over 
the first and onto the second, which stood a foot above 
the water line. The boat swung broadside across the 
current between the two snags. The swift current 
raised the upperside of the boat and the lowerside 
lowered proportionately, so that the entire crew had 
to move to the upperside, to prevent being swamped. 
The water was ten feet deep. We were two hundred 
feet from shore. The "Hulk" lost sight of our light 
and landed, fearing we had swamped. 

We were in a dangerous position. As usual the 
good judgment of McNear pointed out a way of re- 

Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 55 

leasing the boat. (His suggestions were usually fol- 
lowed by his doing the work himself.) With a hand- 
saw he leaned over the side, reached the full length 
of his arm under water and began sawing the snag off 
below the bottom. This occupied about two hours. 
When the snag parted, the boat drifted onto the end 
of the stump, and there it rested in greater peril than 
before. The constant rocking might wear a hole in 
the bottom and scuttle our craft. Then the chance of 
any of us escaping hung by a slender thread. We be- 
gan calHng for the "Hulk." Soon they answered and 
slowly drifted toward us, keeping near the shore. 
When opposite they made fast to a snag. Being at 
close speaking distance we planned that the other 
boat should land, unload, and haul two hundred yards 
up stream; then drift slowly down, throw a rope to 
us, and then by maniiing their oars, pull us off. All 
this occupied over two hours. The first pull moved 
the boat so the stern swung down the current. There 
was a heavy weight in the bow that held us on the 
snag. Again the other boat went ashore, hauled up 
stream and drifted past us. Still our boat hung on 
the bow. No less than a dozen trips were made in 
this way before we were finally released. We landed 
and spent the rest of the night on shore. As I sat on 
a log near" a camp fire McNear sat down beside me. 
He nudged me with his elbow and said : "Wasn't that 
a close shave for the soap box?" 

The next day we passed snags on all sides. When 
night came, we landed alongside a dead tree and built 
a fire to cook our last rations of bacon and coffee. So 
far as we knew we were two hundred miles from 

56 Two Thousana Miles in an Open Boat 

where we could replenish. One of our men strolled 
along the river bank around a sharp bend. Suddenly 
he called out at the top of his voice. We were away 
from the Indian country and could not imagine the 
cause of it, but lost no time in going to him. Long 
rows of lights were seen about a mile below us. 


Returning to camp we hastily loaded on our 
bedding, etc., and with all on board, we again 
swung into the current. All hands were guessing on 
the direction the steamboat was bound. If going down, 
we could not overtake her; if coming up, we would 
be no better off. When discovered she was tied 
up at the bank, and we made our craft fairly "whiz" in 
the current towards her. It was the steamer Enter- 
prise, from Yankton, loaded with supplies for the up- 
river military posts. She had tied up for the night. 
Our landing was made just above her bow, where we 
built a fire. I was sent on board to prospect for pro- 
visions. On the lower deck a watchman directed me 
up to the "Texas" to find the mate, who was on watch. 
It was after midnight. He was alone and smoking a 
pipe. I explained who we were and our condition as to 
provisions, not forgetting to tell him that every man 
of our party of twenty-six people had gold dust to 
pay for anything he would supply us with to carry us 
to Yankton, a two days' run. 

"When did you run short of grub?" he asked. I 
answered promptly: "We are not short of grub; we 
are entirely out." "The h— 11 !" he said, "let's go wake 
up the steward." 

Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 57 

I followed him with the eagerness of a hungry 
poodle down into the cabin and then to the pantry. 
Never before in my life did a steamboat pantry have 
the attraction this one had. The bread and cracker 
drawers were ransacked. An immense fish pan was 
filled from them, two boiled hams, some bacon, two 
large coffee boilers of coffee — as much as the steward 
and myself could carry — ^but it seemed to me I was 
never so strong before and could carry almost my own 
weight in provisions. 

When all was prepared I handed the mate my 
buckskin bag of gold dust and said, "Help yourself, 
captain, as liberally as you have helped us." "Give 
the steward a little nugget for a breastpin, and we will 
be square," said he. The steward got the nugget for 
his scarf pin. The mate was also remembered in a 
substantial way. 

When Sioux City was reached, some of our passen- 
gers left the boat and took the stage for their homes 
in the east, after a journey of two thousand miles in 
an open boat, made in thirty days, without accident, if 
we except the illness of the one man who fell over- 
board, who had suffered from mountain fever for three 

It was frequently necessary for all hands to jump 
into the water waist deep and push the boat off a sand- 
bar. With the exception of high winds and a shower 
one day the weather was the beautiful Indian sum- 
mer from^ beginning to end. 

At the mouth of the Niobrara river, a detachment 
of troops were stationed. They were at target prac- 
tice when we passed and as we heard the shooting, 

58 Two Thousand Miles in an Open Boat 

before coming in sight it caused us no little alarm, we 
thinking it was Indians. 

The wonderful sights of buffalo, elk, mountain 
sheep and deer, together with the almost constant 
spice of danger through the hostile Indian country, 
cause me to look back upon the journey with greater 
pleasure than I do on any other of my varied experi- 
ences of travel by land or sea. 



In February, 1868, the Union Pacific road had 
been completed to Cheyenne, and I went from Omaha 
by train. There I took Gilmer & Salisbury's stage 
via Denver for Salt Lake thence by Wells-Fargo & 
Co.'s stage to Helena, Montana, to arrange for sending 
my herd of nearly a hundred mules, that had been 
freighting there, down along the line of the railroad 
grading, after the grass had started. The snow was 
deep on Laramie plains, and on Rattlesnake moun- 
tains. My only fellow passenger was a Mr. Frothing- 
ham, going to San Francisco, where he owned a line 
of sailing vessels. He told me his occupation was 
trading in ** Coolies" in the southern islands. His 
method of loading them was similar to "pack- 
ing sardines," and for food he gave them plum duff, 
with the plums left out. He was rather ponderous 
of build, with a fresh and tender face and silver gray 
hair and more suited to life on the sea than following 
a stage coach on foot, on snow ten feet deep over the 
mountains. We got along fairly well as far as old 
Fort Bridger. Jack Gilmer, one of the partners, drove 
us from here, and after supper at 10 o'clock at night 
on canned tomatoes, half cooked beans which at that 
altitude could scarcely be cooked tender without the 
addition of soda, we went to bed. The biscuits were of 
tough dark dough with a burned crust around them 
and about as indigestible as a ball of mud. They were 

60 A Herd of Mules 

called "dobies." We went to bed in a station — ^ cabin 
built of logs. All the partitions were of common mus- 
lin cloth. The beds had a tick filled with hay, no sheets, 
and the covers were the cheapest cotton comforts. One 
with its weight would not keep you warm, and two 
would weight you down, so sleep was out of question. 
We had scarcely got warmed up in bed when we were 
called to start again and go over the snow while 
the frozen crust would bear up the stage. We pulled 
ourselves together and again resumed our journey. 
When we reached the spurs of the Wasatch moun- 
tains the moon was full, the night was almost as light 
as day, the temperature far below zero. After day- 
light, when the sun came up, the top crust of the snow 
began to soften and occasionally a mule would sink 
one foot in, or a wheel break through, and the driver 
told us we must get out and lighten up or we would 
get stuck in the snow. He also informed us there 
was a "swing" station five miles ahead with a stove in 
the stable where the stock tender slept and where we 
would change horses — a mild invitation to get out and 
walk. We climbed out and going on ahead, left the 
driver to his fate. Soon we found it necessary to 
blacken our cheeks with charcoal and wear a silk 
handkerchief over our faces to prevent snow blind- 
ness. Before reaching the station we sank in the soft 
snow and wallowed through to the top of a long, steep 
hill and here the crust of snow was getting soft and 
we lay down and rolled over and over to the bottom 
like a barrel — a much easier way of getting down than 
trying to walk. At the station we found a Mormon 
with a span of mules and a wagon loaded with coops 

A Herd of Mules 61 

of live chickens, who had been there four days snow- 
bound. It was nearly noon when the stage arrived. 
Meanwhile we bought some chickens from the Mor- 
mon, dressed them and put them into a camp kettle 
to cook, as there was no food at the station. We ate 
the chickens about half cooked, as the stage must go 
on to a "home" station about sixteen miles away. About 
half of this distance we walked and lifted and tugged 
to help the stage over the bad crossings. My fellow 
passenger became entirely snow blind and was obliged 
to get into the stage and remain there. We spent the 
second night going over the snow crust and reached 
the head of Echo canyon. Here we were transferred 
to a lumber wagon and changed drivers. When we 
arrived at Salt Lake City, my fellow passenger's face, 
neck and ears had become one mass of blisters from the 
reflection of the sun on the snow and when we parted 
at Salt Lake his face resembled a man in the last 
stages of smallpox. He was not able to resume his 
journey for four weeks. 

After resting a day I took the stage north for 
Helena. On this route all the gullies and ravines 
were blown full of snow and at the bottom of them 
ran a stream of melted snow and slush. The driver 
must push on and paid no attention to these obstacles 
and into them he would drive the leaders. At times 
they were belly deep in water and slush and the snow 
up to their backs. \i the ravines were narrow the 
leaders would soon flounder to the bank, dragging the 
wheelers after them. Sometimes the four mules were 
unhitched and taken to the opposite bank. A long 
rope was tied to the doubletrees, the other end being 

62 A Herd of Mules 

attached to the end of the tongue to pull the coach out. 
They could not always move the coach. In this event 
the passengers and driver would mount the harnessed 
mules and ride from one to ten miles, as the case might 
be, to the station ahead and get the company's men to 
ride back with extra men and stock, pull the coach 
out and come on to the station. These instances were 
not rare, especially where the road led through Port- 
neuf canyon. Nothing could be worse than the meals 
served along the route. On account of the snow the 
coach could carry nothing but live freight and all the 
stations were low on provisions. We reached Helena 
safely. Mr. Pat Largey had my mules on pasture at 
his ranch near Helena, also a lot belonging to Mr. 
Edward Creighton, and we arranged to send them all 
in one herd overland, direct to Carbon on the Union 
Pacific railroad, when grass came. The herd was 
placed in charge of *' Billy" Hurlbert and four men, 
one of whom was M. J. Feenan, now living in Omaha. 
It would make little difference by what route they 
drove the mules. The danger was about equal, for 
the Indians were in an ugly humor because of the 
building of the railroad and the immense travel to the 
gold mines by every route from all directions. 

Hbrlbert left Helena about April 15th, 1868. For 
some reason unknown to me a gray mare is always 
chosen for a bell mare for all pack trains and loose 
mule herds while being driven and there was no ex- 
ception in this case. The route from Helena was 
on the Salt Lake trail. Pleasant Valley, Camas 
Prairie, Market lake, fording Snake river at old Fort 
Hall, Montpelier, Soda Springs, Sublet Cut-Off to 

A Herd of Mules 63 

Green River, then up Bitter Creek to Point of Rocks, 
then following the Union Pacific survey to Carbon, 
Wyoming. The drive was made in thirty days with- 
out the loss of an animal and no accident to the men. 
The only incident on the drive was the trouble in hold- 
ing the herd at night, only one man standing guard the 
first half and he was relieved by one man for the latter 
half. Mr. Creighton was at Carbon to re- 
ceive them, and at once began arrange- 
ments to have the mules shod, provide harness and 
put them at work on the grade. The harness was 
delayed en route by the railroad and the herd was sent 
out on the prairie about a mile from camp to graze, 
in charge of Jack Strode. After they had been out 
about two weeks a band of Sioux Indians in broad 
daylight rode into the herd, surrounded it, shook their 
blankets and with their unearthly yells, stampeded 
every animal in Strode's charge, leaving him to find his 
way into camp, luckily escaping with his life. Charles 
H. Rickards, who came down with the herd and was 
with the stock when it ran off, at once went with men 
out on the trail and followed it about sixty miles, think- 
ing the thieves were road agents disguised as Indians 
— a frequent occurrence. They followed the trail all 
night in the direction of Elk mountain and on to the 
Platte river, where they discovered a large camp of 
Indians on the opposite bank and gave up the chase. 
All these adventures had an abrupt termination, for 
not a head of stock was recovered, and the whole 
matter ended there. Only one day before the 
Indians stampeded the stock, M^r. Creighton was 
in Omaha. He dropped into my store in the morning 

64 A Herd of Mules 

and offered me $135 per head spot cash for all of my 
mules. As my father, then at Davenport, Iowa, and 
myself owned them jointly, I referred the offer to him 
by wire. That same afternoon Mr. Creighton called 
at the store again, and handed me a telegram from 
J. H. McShane, who had gone down the road, reading 
as follows : **Just received a message from camp say- 
ing entire herd of mules run off today at i o'clock 
by Indians.'* 

The value of my interest in the herd was $12,000. 
Both that and the mules were irretrievably lost. 

Some time after the events narrated in the preced- 
ing pages I learned that the Sioux Chief, Old-Man- 
Afraid-Of-His-Horses, referred to in the story of the 
Sioux peace commission council at Red Cloud agency, 
on page y6, headed the party which stole our mules. It 
seems apparent that while the old man was afraid of 
his own horses he stood in considerable less fear of 
our mules. 


During General Grant's first presidential term I 
learned that there was a vacancy in the post tradership 
at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and I immediately went 
to Washington, D. C., to apply for it. This being my 
first visit to the capital, and wishing to reach the 
President as soon as possible, I got a letter from Mr. 
Orville L. Grant to General Dent, usher at the White 
House. It was the 19th of December, 1872, when I 
presented my note to General Dent. He took it to the 
President and, returning almost immediately, showed 
me into the executive room. I may have been some- 
what abashed in the presence of a president, but I was 
greeted so cordially that the embarassment soon left 
me. The President, after inquiring after the health 
of my father and family, said, "What can I do for 
you, John ?" I answered "The post tradership at Fort 
Laramie, Wyoming, is vacant, and I came to make 
an application for it. Having no other acquaintance 
in the capital I take the liberty of making my busi- 
ness known to you." "Well," he said, "these matters 
properly belong to the Secretary of War, General Bel- 
knap. I will give you a note to him, and you can 
come back and see me after seeing the Secretary." 
He wrote the letter in my presence and I at once 
called on the Secretary. Mr. Crosby, the chief clerk, 
handed my card in and I was admitted without de- 
lay. The Secretary read the card, looked at me smil- 
ingly and said : "Well, Mr. Collins, this is most com- 
plimentary; it is almost an order for me to give you 
this appointment. I learn Fort Laramie in a busi- 
ness point of view is one of the best posts in the army." 


About an Army Post Tradership 

"Yes," I replied, "that is why I apply for it." The 
Secretary said, "I am going up to the White House 
today, and will see the President. You can call here 
tomorrow morning." 

The next morning I was promptly at the War office. 
When I got audience with the Secretary, he told me 
that I had stirred up quite a strife in the matter of 
this post tradership. "A number of prominent people," 
said he "some of them from >our own state, and several 
senators, also want this post. A complaint has been 
lodged here that you are a democrat." This I did 
not deny, and feeling that I could not say anything 
to the Secretary that would advance my cause I re- 
quested him to leave the matter open until I could again 
see the President who had then gone to Kentucky to 
visit his father who was dangerously ill. On the 28th 
inst. I again called on the President and told him that 
the only opposition to me seemed to be that I was a 
democrat. With the remark, "I think I can explain this 
matter," the President gave me another card of which 
the following is a fac simile: 


4lc^ >v^ '^^x^&.yucL^ 

About an Army Post Tradership 67 

The presentation of this note resulted in my appoint- 
ment the same day. 

The ten years following, myself and my brother, 
Gilbert H. Collins, alternately held the commission of 
post trader. I occasionally visited Washington, and 
always called at the White House to pay my respects 
to President and Mrs. Grant. With one exception, on 
every visit, either the President or Mrs. Grant in- 
vited me to lunch or dinner, which invitations I al- 
ways accepted. 

The exception was the year that all the post traders 
in the United States were summoned to Washington, 
to tell how their appointments were obtained. I went 
before Heister Clymer's committee at the capitol. 

The following explains itself: 
"Washington Correspondence of the New York Sun, 
April ist, 1876. 

"The Committee on Expenditures in the War De- 
partment this morning examined John S. Collins, post 
trader at Fort Laramie. Mr. Collins said he got the 

68 About an Army Post Tradership 

post on the recommendation of the President, whose 
father, Jesse Grant, had been a partner with ColHns* 
father in business. In order to obtain more easy ac- 
cess to the President, he got a letter of introduction 
from Orville Grant to Mr. Dent, usher at the White 
House, and the President gave him a letter to Sec- 
retary Belknap. He never paid a dollar directly or 
indirectly, either to get or to hold the post. The profits 
of the post were from $8,000.00 to $15,000.00 a year. 
ColHns was assessed $100.00 this summer 
for Republican campaign purposes. Mr. Clymer de- 
clared himself satisfied that this was a perfectly proper 
appointment, given by the President out of his high re- 
gard for Collins' father, and said, 'This is the most 
decent post trader I have seen yet.' " 

In the evening I called on the President and told 
him of my having been ordered to Washington by the 
sergeant-at-arms ; also of my statement made in the 
committee room as to how I received my appointment. 
The President said, 'T am glad you obeyed the sum- 
mons. If it were possible for me to appoint to office 
more men of my own selection, such instances might 
not occur." I left Washington the same evening. 

When President R. B. Hayes came to the White 
House, succeeding President Grant, I learned from 
what I deemed reliable information, that President 
Hayes asked Ex-President Grant if there were any 
appointments he had made that he desired to h"ave 
stand. General Grant's answer was : ^'There are two 
appointments I feel an interest in. One is Mr. Kramer, 
the husband of my sister, who is minister at Copen- 
hagen. The other is John Collins, the post trader at 

About an Army Post Tradership 69 

Fort Laramie. If you will see that they each get a 
hearing before anyone is appointed in their place it 
would gratify me." During President Hayes' admin- 
istration of four years, I remained post trader at Fort 
Laramie. When Garfield succeeded him, I then re- 
mained over a year. Then the Council of Administra- 
tion appointed the brother of one of the officers in the 
post and in February following I left Fort Laramie. 
Nothing has called me there since. This being the 
most prominent post in the Northwest, there are many 
historical incidents connected with it in the years 
previous to 1882 that John Morrison, my present as- 
sociate in business and manager of the store at the 
fort, is familiar with which would be of great interest 
could he be induced to make a record of them. 


The fall previous to the beginning of the Sioux 
Indian war of 'y6y General George Crook spent some 
time at Fort Laramie, that being the rendezvous for 
the army. The Indians were in an ugly mood. Travel 
in every direction was regarded as dangerous. Gen- 
eral Crook became restless and suggested a hunt for 
big game in the vicinity of Laramie Peak. A good 
angel seemed to hover over this man and he did not 
hesitate to carry out any plan that suggested itself 
to him or any orders from his superior officers. On 
this occasion, however. Captain "Teddy" Egan was 
ordered to go along with his company of "Grey Horse 

70 Hmfing Big Game 

Cavalry;" also Lieutenant Philo Clark. General 
Crook, Clark and myself made up the hunting party. 
Leaving the post it was a day's march to the foot-hills, 
where Collins Cut-Off entered the mountains and 
came out on Laramie Plains. 

From the first camp we hunted the northeast side 
of the mountain with good success. Besides killing 
elk and deer Clark ran onto a band of mountain 
sheep, climbing up the rocky ledge of the canyon, 
coming away from water. Clark was a good game 
shot and as the sheep climbed the rocks he picked 
the leader off at one hundred yards. Another jumped 
to the lead and Clark picked him off. A third one 
took his place and almost in a breath Clark had all 
three tumbling down towards the creek. General 
Crook, always successful in killing any kind of game 
he hunted, reported elk and deer. I followed the 
"bugle call" of a bull elk, (the most musical note, I 
think, uttered by any living thing in the mountains 
and only heard during the rutting season.) The 
"call" came from up the mountain side. While rest- 
ing from the difficult climb I sat on a rock and began 
looking the country over with a field glass. Just above 
me a ledge of rock projected and my direction led me 
around and over the ledge. Here I discovered a full 


set on the flat surface of the ledge. There 
was no covering on the poles as the place was 
used only as a lookout by the Indians. The view 
covered the valley of the Platte, the Laramie, and 
surrounding country for fifty miles or more. There 
were signs of this lookout having been recently oc- 

Hunting Big Came 71 

cupied. The brush around its approach was tramped 
down, some of the small trees were barked, and a 
bundle of sticks lay inside the poles for fire wood. 
So interested was I in examining the place that I 
scarcely noticed a bull elk as he came thundering 
down the mountain side, crashing through the under- 
brush, with tongue out, foaming and snorting like an 
enraged bull. Catching only a glimpse of him through 
the bushes about forty yards away I took a hasty shot 
and down he fell with a broken shoulder. 

The next morning we broke camp and drove up 
the mountain side. The trail was little used and 
gullies were washed out and boulders exposed and 
we were obliged to bridge an occasional bad crossing, 
to let the wagon and ambulance over. We camped at 
dusk about a mile before getting through the moun- 
tains. Early next morning Captain Eagan with his 
cavalry went ahead to examine the roads. In half an 
hour he came onto a burning camp fire and the head 
and pieces of a freshly killed elk hanging on a tree. 
Near this was a wagon track and tracks of unshod 
ponies and around the fire were moccasin tracks, evi- 
dently not an hour old. The captain rode back to 
warn the hunters not to leave the trail before reaching 
that point. Here we stopped and cooked our break- 
fast over this same camp fire. After hunting one day 
in this vicinity and each of the three hunters having 
seen unmistaken signs of Indians and having killed 
all the game we wanted, we left the following morn- 
ing and drove directly through to Fort Laramie. 

On the previous day's hunt. General Crook followed 
the trail of a bear that led him so far away he could 
not reaeh camp that night. As I was the last of the 

72 Hunting Big Game 

party to have seen him, the next morning I took a sol- 
dier with me and soon found him coming in. Mean- 
while the outfit had broken camp and started for the 
Sybyle river, a fork of the Laramie; at the end of 
their trail we found the party nooning at a spring, 
just at the edge of the timber. Here we compared 
notes. Three of the party having on the previous 
day's hunt found unmistakeable signs of hostile In- 
dians we decided to give up the hunt and return to 
the post at once. To hunt big game that required a 
lot of soldiers to guard you was rather a complex af- 
fair and we lost no time in deciding upon this course. 
Soon after our return the ranchmen living near by 
drifted in. Among them was Johnny Owens, who lived 
at Eagle's Nest, near the Chugwater. From him 
we learned that he had sent two men with a team 
for house logs, who made camp here. The next morn- 
ing one of them built a fire to prepare breakfast, the 
other going after the horses. The latter reported 
''Indian signs," so fresh he could "smell 'em." After 
breakfast they hurried out of the mountains. The 
sequel to all this was that Owens' men lit the fire, 
cooked their breakfast and "lit out." The Indians 
"jumped their claim," and cooked their breakfast by 
the same fire. We followed and used the same fire 
for our breakfast and then we "lit out." All of which 
occurred in less than two hours. 

When in command in Arizona, General George 
Crook took a young Apache Indian with him on a 
deer hunt. The Indian stationed the General on the 
^Vunway" and said, "You stay here, deer sure 

Hunting Big Game 73 

come," while he beat the chapperel to drive the game 
out. The General stood his ground patiently for five 
or six hours, but saw no sign of game. 

When the Indian returned, he found the General 
still waiting on the trail and asked, "Deer no come?" 
"No," said the General, "Deer sure come, he no come 
today, maybe he come tomorrow." 

When our beloved Major General George Crook, 
friend and companion of many royal hunts and happy 
days, died March 21st, 1890, at the Grand Pacific 
hotel in Chicago, it was the sad privilege of Webb 
Hayes and myself to be among the pall bearers, with 
Marshall Field, George M. Pullman, William McKin- 
ley, then congressman ; Colonel T. H. Stanton and 
others, and we accompanied the body to Oakland, Md., 
where the funeral took place. Ex-President Hayes ac- 
companied us and attended the funeral. 

The body of General Crook was afterward removed 
to Arlington cemetery, Washington, District of Colum- 
bia. Mrs. Crook is buried beside him. 

A beautiful and appropriate monument has been 
erected at Arlington by the General's friends, many 
of Omaha's prominent citizens aiding in its construc- 

He H: 4: 


In '75 Spotted Tail, chief of the Brules, came to 
Fort Laramie, where I was post-trader, for the re- 
mains of his daughter, who had died at the post sev- 

74 If You Don't Pray 

eral years before and was placed in a plain box cov- 
ered with Indian cloth. The box was set up on four 
posts, near sand bluffs, west of the garrison. On 
the head end the head of her favorite white pony was 
nailed and its tail was nailed on the other end to 
"travel with her to the Happy Hunting Ground." In 
the box were placed the trinkets and ornaments she 
wore when alive. "Spot" said to me, "My daughter 
was buried here where my Indians lived and many 
of our children were born. We traded here ; the young 
men played their games, raced their ponies and our 
Great Father's people (the soldiers) were good to us. 
Now that has all passed and we want our dead at one 
place. I came to take my daughter to my agency on 
Beaver Creek." Before calling on the commanding 
officer, I took "Spot" to my house to dinner. A 
"squaw man" named Bouchere, his son-in-law, ac- 
companied us as interpreter. At the table I filled 
"Spot's" plate liberally and said to Bouchere, "Tell 
*Spot' to help himself and eat plenty." He replied, 
"Ah Cola, (my friend) you don't pray before you eat." 
He had dined with his Indian agents who always said 
grace. "No," I answered. "My prayers are all 
through the day in my business." His face beamed 
with smiles, as he added, "Then you won't steal. If 
you don't pray before you eat you won't steal." 

There were some interesting features connected 
with preparing the remains of his daughter for trans- 
portation by wagon. The bones and trinkets were 
placed in a new box lined with stars and striped calico, 
covered with Indian cloth, nailed on with brass tacks, 
in all of which the commanding officer and other offi- 
cers, including Post Surgeon Hartsuf, assisted and 

If You Don't Pray 


directed with decorum befitting the occasion. The 
box was placed in the wagon and they drove away to 
the agency. 


When the sub- Sioux commission, consisting of S. 
D. Hinman, Chairman ; A. B. Comingo, W. H. Ashby, 
and myself, Secretary for the full commission, left 
Fort Laramie, they went directly to Red Cloud 
agency, where Crawford, Nebraska, now stands. The 
Indian agent was advised of our coming and notified 
the chiefs and leading men to assemble for a pre- 
liminary council, where the Indians would be informed 
of the object of our visit. Right here began the im- 
portance of the whole affair and it fell on the sub- 
commission to perform the labor of arranging for the 
grand council to be held in the fall. At this council 
Red Cloud,* Old Man Afraid of His Horses,* 
Young Man Afraid, Red Dog, American Horse and 
several other leading men, and young men of less im- 
portance, of the Ogallala band, met the commission. 

The chairman explained the object of our visit in 
a few words, namely, to treat with all the bands of 
the Sioux tribe, both in the interior and along the 
Missouri river, for the relinquishment of their right 
to the Black Hills country, to enable white men to 
go there and mine for gold. Gold had been discovered 
and small parties of white men were then in the hills 
prospecting. Red Cloud was the first to reply to the 
chairman. He said: 

"When the Great Father sends his White Chiefs to 
talk with us we hear them. The Black Hills is our 


The Sioux Indian Commission 77 

bank, and our money is in the ground ; we want it to 
stay there for our children. There are many Indians 
up north who are the same as we are and I cannot 
speak for all, I am the head chief, and when we have 
business we want all our people to hear; then we can 
decide. If you go to Spotted Tail's camp and tell 
him all this news, then he will bring more Indians to- 
gether and we will talk it over, when you come back; 
this is all for today." 

Chairman Hinman then said: "We can't spend so 
much time, we want to go to the Hills at once; we 
want you to send some of your wise young men with 
us; we will ask Spotted Tail to do the same. We 
go to his agency tomorrow, then we will come back 
here and start for the hills, — this is the nearest way. 
When we return we want six of your young men to 
be ready to go with us. They can take their own 
horses and we will carry tents and provision for all. 
When the business is finished in the hills we will go 
to the Missouri river and tell the Indians there, and 
your young men must go to the river also, when the 
business is finished there Inspector Daniels will bring 
your young men back with the teams." 

The next morning the commission left for Spotted 
Tail agency on Beaver creek, arriving about noon. 
Soon after our arrival Spotted Tail stalked in followed 
by a number of his leading men for a "small talk." 
Of all the chiefs and all the leading Indians we met 
after leaving "Spots" agency there were none who 
came to council who exercised the authority over all 
their band as did Spotted Tail over the Brules, and 
he only the appointed chief of an army officer, Gen- 

78 The Sioux Indian Commission 

eral Harney, I believe, because of his friendly influence 
at the Ash Hollow fight on the Platte river. He was 
not an hereditary chief. Always good natured and 
smiling, with a voice as soft and clear as a woman's, 
a wily politician, whose purpose in the interest of his 
tribe, it has been said, could be swerved by money, 
ponies or their value in buffalo robes, for his per- 
sonal interest. I cannot say he was a disinterested 
chief in the interest of his band. He was the chosen 
orator. Tall, majestic, mild of manner, always be- 
ginning with "Ah Cola" (my friend), allowing his 
dark blue Mackinac blanket to fall from his right 
shoulder, to give his arm free play in gesturing, he 
began : 

"I am here to tell you that Red Cloud sent us news 
that you come to take our lands where the gold is, 
that is our bank. We want more people here to hear 
what we say; my people do not Hke to have white 
chiefs sent by the Great Father to make our land 
smaller ; we will come and talk when the sun is there," 
(pointing to the west and indicating about sunset) as 
the day was very warm. 

At that time came the delegation of about fifty In- 
dians, their faces painted and wearing all the para- 
phernalia they usually wore on grand occasions. 

They arranged themselves along the board walk in 
front of the agency building and, according to their 
custom, got out their pipes and tobacco, first invoking 
the Great Spirit by gestures, then they began smok- 
ing. Presently a half dozen of the leaders shook 
hands with the commissioners, sat down on the ground, 
and again passed their pipes around in silence. 

The Sioux Indian Commission 79 

There is an etiquette among Indians in regard to 
speaking, that might be imitated to advantage by some 
white men, viz.: They choose one or more speakers 
in council, no other voice being heard. 

Spotted Tail stood up and said : "My people don't 
want you to go to the Black Hills; if you go I will 
send some young men with you. Some Indians are 
up there hunting and they may steal your horses and 
make trouble. When you go to the Missouri river, our 
young men will tell our people that we are the most 
Indians and that they must come here to hold council. 
The land belongs to us and we have taken care of it. 
They must send some old men that know about the 
country and some young men who can hear. Red 
Cloud and me think Chadron creek the best place for 
a big council. We want you to give the young men 
tents to sleep in and plenty to eat and take care of their 
ponies. Go back and tell Red Cloud and the old 
men that we will go on Chadron creek for the big 
council. That is all." 

While the chiefs and old men were holding council 
to give their lands away or sell them for a price the 
young men showed their opposition to the scheme. 
The council lasted until near dark, then the Indians 
went to their lodges to select the young men to ac- 
company us. The next morning when we were ready 
to start the inspector in charge of the transportation 
informed up that 


and we could not move. This had the appearance of 
an ugly turn in the affair, but after an investigation 
it was discovered that it was only a good natured 

80 The Sioux Indian Commission 

prank, suggested by "Spot" and carried out by some 
of the young men. The ropes were removed by the 
young men accompanying us and our party started on 
their long and tedious journey via. Red Cloud agency 
for the Black Hills, thence to the Missouri river. We 
were detained here two days before leaving for Red 
Cloud. Runners had gone before us and given out 
the news that we were coming and on our arrival there 
six of Red Cloud's young men came to us — this mak- 
ing twelve ambassadors — and we at once started, 
taking a trail east of the pine and chalk bluffs, that are 
directly north of where Crawford, Nebraska, now 
is. The only duty the commission had to perform in 
the hills was to examine the country. General Rich- 
ard I. Dodge was camped on Rapid creek with two 
companies of soldiers, to prevent mining on that creek 
and the adjacent country, until the treaty would per- 
mit. From this camp we followed the stream out of 
the mountains east and on to Elk creek. In places 
pools of alkali water stood, about the color of coffee, 
and we were obliged to camp here, it being late in the 

Near this water hole were as many as ten turtles 
measuring about four feet across and five feet in 
length. They were all petrified and would weigh not 
less than 200 pounds each. The pile had the appear- 
ance that each turtle had tried to climb over the other 
and all lay in a pile when the water receded. This 
point was not far from the lands where Professor 
Marsh visited a few years later to make his collection 
of petrifications. Joseph Merreville was our guide 
and he was one of the old-timers of the Jim Bridger 
type who had spent many years with the traders and 

The Sioux Indian Commission 81 

Indians. He led our teams over to the junction of 
the Belle Fourche where both forks came together and 
formed the Cheyenne river. When we reached the 
Cheyenne it was difficult finding a place our teams 
could drive down into the narrow valley. Joe led us 
into a washout that became deeper and more difficult 
as we descended to the valley. Part of the time the 
wagon wheels were on a steep bank straddling the 
creek bed where the animals could scarcely find foot- 
ing. At one point about twelve feet below the surface 
the skull and bones of a buffalo protruded from the 
cut banks. Bones and skulls were everywhere visible. 
The valley the stream ran through, varied from a 
quarter to half a mile in width. The banks were cut 
walls of black shale from thirty to one hundred feet 
high straight up and down and were thickly dotted 
with white spots that could be seen in the black banks 
fully a mile away. These white spots proved to be 
petrified turtles ranging in size from an egg up to 
ten or twelve inches long and were coated over with 
a white lime substance. There were also hundreds 
of pieces of long, slim, snake-like perifications coated 
over with a shell of iridescent color. These are found 
all through the foothills and are supposed to have 
existed long before the fish age. We traveled two 
days in this valley before finding an outlet where teams 
could get out onto the divide separating the Cheyenne 
from the Moreau river. Merreville told us the trail 
was plain and for fifty or more years had been traveled 
by Indians with travois from the Missouri river to the 
Black Hills to procure lodge poles and for hunting. 
Finally we came to a rough edge of land leading south 
which sloped up to the high plateau and there seemed 

82 The Sioux Indian Commission 

a prospect of getting out of the valley. The bit of 
land or rather a back bone ran to a sharp edge in the 
middle and sloped off abruptly on each side. It was 
necessary to double teams and with the ambulance and 
eight horses led by the guide, a start was made. The 
horses straddled the ridge and the ambulance wheels 
were on either side of it. Soon it became necessary to 
use shovels to cut the top edge away so the axletree 
would not scrape the ground, then all hands excepting 
the Indians (who stuck to their ponies and while all 
the others stopped to begin work they improved their 
time sitting around on the ground smoking their pipes 
and talking) would shovel away the obstructions to the 
wheels, and again make a start. At the very worst 
place on the trail where ropes were required to hold 
the wagon from sliding into a deep gulch dragging the 
mules after, Joe, the guide, became thoroughly dis- 
gusted and with a choice selection of swear words, 
said: "I don't know where dat road gone, he was 
plain wagony trail." "How long ago was that ?" asked 
Comingo. "Twenty-five years," said Joe. 

We were all day getting out of the valley and up on 
the table land. The country was flat and covered with 
a luxurious growth of gramma or buffalo grass. As 
the breeze swayed it it resembled a vast field of oats 
without a weed or shrub for miles. Buffalo skulls 
and bones were everywhere to be seen. Our first 
camp on this high divide was at spring holes and near 
a small lake. On-e of our party killed a large quantity 
of blue wing teal duck on which we had a feast fit for 
a king. They were cooked in a camp kettle over 
an outdoor fire — a few potatoes and bits of bacon 
boiled with them. Two days' travel on this divide and 

The Sioux Indian Commission 83 

we left the gramma grass for the Moreau river, then 
down this river east and camped where the creek 
banks were twenty feet high. During this day's travel, 
being in an antelope country, several of the Indians 
kft the trail to hunt and came in at night with five 
antelope and one of our teamsters brought an antelope 
to our camp. When the Indian hunters came with 
their ponies packed with game, preparations were at 
once made for a feast. In the fine pool of clear 
spring water they first took a bath, after which they 
greased their bodies from head to foot with the mar- 
row from the leg bones of the antelope. The fire was 
started with willows found near by. The antelope 
were skinned and dressed and put over the fire in var- 
ious ways. When Indians kill deer or antelope they 
drink the warm blood and eat the liver raw while it is 
warm with animal heat. The Indians sat around the 
fir€ eating and smoking nearly all night. I walked 
over to their fires before breakfast next morning and 
all that was visible after the night's debauch were two 
front quarters of one antelope. Twelve Indians had 
actually devoured four and one-half antelope (three 
were small) at one continuous meal during the night, 
while our party of about an equal number had dis- 
posed of only one hind quarter of a single antelope. 
The Indians could have traveled three or four days 
without a mouthful of food after this meal. 

Our trail continued through gramma grass along the 
divide and to the Moreau river, then north and 
down this stream to its mouth, arriving at Standing 
Rock where a lot of Winnebago Indians and part of 
a band of Yanctonais drew rations. Arrangements 

84 The Sioux Indian Commission 

were at once begun for holding council at the village 
of the wild Yanctonais. 


While I was with the Sioux commission at Spotted 
Tail Agency, on Beaver creek, Nebraska, in 1875, 
about fifty miles west of where Chadron now is. Spot- 
ted Tail, chief of the Brules, invited S. D. Hinman 
and myself to a feast at his lodge. Mr. Hinman re- 
presented the Episcopal church at Santee Agency on 
the Missouri river and had a most intelligent knowl- 
edge of the language of the Dacotahs and the Indian 
character and was a fine interpreter. 

"Spot" escorted us to his lodge, half a mile from 
the agency. While the feast was being prepared he 
entertained us outside. His lodge was made of dressed 
elk hide, and was decorated with paintings of some 
of his adventures. The poles were hung with "medi- 
cine" bags of red flannel, stuffed with roots and herbs, 
painted eagle feathers, antelope hair being tied 
about them. A squaw came out of the lodge with a 
rope of rawhide in one hand and in the other she had 
a stone attached to a stick covered with rawhide. A 
mongrel dog was running about and after two or three 
"throws" she got the rope over his head, dragged him 
to her and with the war club, beat him on the head 
until dead. Then she dragged him into the lodge. 
Hinman evidently understood the program, and his 
face fairly beamed with smiles as he turned and asked, 
"What do you suppose she will do with that dog?" 
Although I had my suspicions I was not prepared to 

A Feast with Spotted Tail 85 

say. When the feast was announced we crawled 
through an opening in the lodge, the cover to which 
sewed on with rawhide strings held up by a buck- 
skin thong was a beaver skin stretched over a bent 
willow and stitched with strings. When released 
it dropped down and covered the opening. In 
the middle of the lodge a camp kettle hung 
over a fire. Piles of furs and buifalo robes 
lay around the edge. Two or three young bucks 
lounged on the robes. It was plain that we were guests 
of Spotted Tail only. We sat with legs crossed on the 
piles of furs. The squaw with a tin cup dipped out 
to each tin plate four or five pounds from the kettle, 
and it was handed around. By this time I had taken 
in the situation, and, turning to Hinman said, "I am 
not very hungry and don't know 'what the deuce' I 
can do with this plate of dog. Can't you get me out 
of it?" For once in my life I can truthfully say I 
was "up against it." The good humor of Hinman pro- 
voked me. I felt like depriving the Santee Agency 
of one of its valuable representatives. Hinman, while 
enjoying my predicament, said, "If you will do some- 
thing handsome for me I may get you out of this 
scrape." "Anything you ask, I'll do" was my answer, 
"only get quick action for we are delaying the feast." 
Hinman said, "Lay a dollar on the side of that plate 
of dog, and hand it to Spot's nephew. After he has 
eaten his own he will eat yours and you will be square 
with Spotted Tail." Hinman explained to "Spot" that 
I was not hungry and had hired his nephew to eat 
for me. "Spot" said, "How, How," and I was square 
with the chief. 


Above Standing Rock Agency on the Missouri 
river there was a village of one thousand lodges of 
"Yanktonais." News of the coming of the commission 
was brought by Indian runners, two days in advance 
of our arrival at the agency. Some of the Indians met 
us at the agency and asked that the council be held at 
the village, saying that all preparations were made and 
a great many Indians would come to council if it was 
held at the place designated by them. The following 
day, at noon, the commissioners left by ambulance to 
meet the Indians as they had planned. These Indians 
were known as wild, lived on the prairie. They would 
not come to the Agency to draw government rations 
and would go to council only on the prairie. The village 
was located on the open prairie back from the river. 
The lodges were all covered with dressed buffalo and 
elk skins and two thousand ponies were grazing near 
by. An ingenious shelter was arranged. The poles from 
a dozen lodges were placed in an oblong circle and cov- 
ered on two sides with skins from the lodges. These 
were decorated on the outside with pictures represent- 
ing the achievements of the owners in hunting, in war 
and in horse stealing raids. There was no covering 
over the center. Inside the poles were hung with bows 
and quivers of arrows, lance sticks, beaded tobacco 
pouches, painted shields made from the tough and 
wrinkled part of raw buffalo skin, medicine bags filled 
with herbs, painted eagle feathers and tails from ante- 
lope. All the arms of the Indians and war clubs were 
laid aside and everything had the evidence of a peace 
council, showing that the Indians understood the eti- 

Council with the Yanctonais 87 

qiiette due to a council of men sent out by the Great 
Father. The Indians assembled had laid aside their 
blankets and buffalo robes usually worn and were 
dressed principally in shirts and leggings made of deer 
skins fringed and garnished with beads and porcu- 
pine quills. Some wore war bonnets made of eagle 
feathers, streaming from their heads to the ground; 
others wore no headdress but their hair was painted 
red on the scalp and braided with strips of weasel and 
dressed beaver and otter skins and leggings beaded and 
bound below the knee with strings of small bells. Ear- 
rings, brooches of shell and dozens of strings of beads 
ornamented their necks. They also wore beaded moc- 
casins. Some of the middle aged men wore medals 
that had been handed down from their fathers and 
grandfathers, given them in past years by various 
presidents when they had visited Washington. These 
they valued among all else of their possessions. 
I offered one of them $50.00 for a Thomas 
Jefferson medal, made of copper-bronze with the pres- 
ident's bust in relief upon one side, the reverse side 
describing the purpose for which it was given and the 
occasion. One of them showed a map containing all 
the territory north of the Missouri line and extending 
to the British possessions, the eastern boundary being 
the Missouri river, then extending west to the Rocky 
mountains. This entire country was then Nebraska 
Territory. One Campbell, living in St. Louis, Mis- 
souri, was the Indian agent then. This, too, was of; 
great value to the owner as showing the country claim- 
ed by the Indians as "their lands." 

Piles of robes and furs were scattered around for 

88 Council with the Yanctonais 

the commission to sit upon; the Indians sat upon the 
ground in a circle, smoking their pipes and passing 
them among the chiefs, always their custom before be- 
ginning a council. The chief spoke first, then the 
chairman of the commission addressed the Indians and 
explained the object of our coming, viz., to induce 
them to send a large delegation to Chadron creek in 
August to meet the delegations from the other bands of 
Sioux in a grand council, on the business named in 
council held with other bands previous to reaching the 

It was near sunset when the council was ended 
and the golden glow fell on the thousand lodges and 
brought out the dark chestnut color of the tops of 
the lodges and the smoke blackened ends of the lodge 
poles. Young bucks were catching their ponies and 
riding through the village telling of the great council ; 
runners were mounted and dashing in every direction, 
carrying the news to smaller camps located a day's 
ride away. On their arrival fresh riders and fresh 
horses would take up the relay and ride at a furious 
gait to other camps. By this method of conveying news 
Indians camped an hundred miles from the council 
grounds would get the news .carried at a speed of from 
ten to twelve miles an hour. 

Children were playing about with bows and arrows 
and their antics were like monkeys. The lively scene 
of Indians in red, blue and green blankets, moving about 
the lodges, riding and driving ponies in every direc- 
tion, made a beautiful picture. 


An exceptionally interesting feature was the court- 
ing of the young bucks and their sweethearts. Just 

Council with the Yandonais 89 

beyond the lodges was a grass covered mound on which 
were congregated fifty or more couples. They were 
not seated on easy chairs or luxuriant lounges, but all 
stood erect and almost motionless. The young bucks 
wrapped their gay colored blankets of red, blue or 
green around the maidens and stood like statues with 
no effort to conceal the fact that they were courting 
in the most approved Indian fashion. 

When a young Indian has impressed his sweet- 
heart with the fact that he is wooing her in dead earn- 
est the buck creeps cautiously to the lodge of her par- 
ents after dark leading a pony. This he ties to a stake 
and leaves him. On coming out in the morning, if the 
father of the girl does not turn the pony loose it is an 
evidence that the old man is not unfavorable to the 
suitor's intentions, but the bid for his daughter is not 
high enough and more ponies are required. The next 
night one or more ponies are led to the lodge and tied 
in the same place. This is repeated until enough po- 
nies are offered to get the approval of the parent. 
When the horses are sent out with the herd of the own- 
er then the principal part of the courtship and mar- 
riage ceremony is completed. The young man is then 
welcomed to the lodge and treated as one of the family, 
the bride resumes her everyday occupation of herding 
the ponies, carrying wood and water to the family and 
doing the regular camp drudgery. 

It is sometimes the custom of the parent to bestow 
on the bride all the ponies given him by her suitor, to- 
gether with ten or more from his own herd. The ex- 
pression, "ten horses," is more frequently used in any 
and every trade than any other number. For a greater 

90 Council with the Yanctonais 

number than ten it is "ten more," even if the number 
be less than ten. Buffalo robes are usually reckoned 
the same way. The robes counting one "bale" by the 

The original record of the entire proceedings in- 
cluding the speeches of the chairman, the replies of all 
the Indians, together with the names of all the promi- 
nent Indians, is in my possession. 


The day the Sioux commission arrived at Red 
Cloud Agency the place was in mourning. The daugh- 
ter of American Horse had died the evening before. 
"Haranguers" were sent among the Indians to give 
notice of the grief in camp and, according to custom 
when there is a death in the lodge, the lodge and the 
entire family move away from the place. American 
Horse gave away his horses, buffalo robes, and every- 
thing of value, unbraided his hair and let it fall around 
his shoulders, covered his face with mud, and lacerated 
his arms and legs, a custom when a relation dies. I 
had known him personally for some time as a promi- 
nent Indian. When he came into the trading store, 
he recognized me. Through an interpreter he told me 
"his heart was down in the dirt," and when his daugh- 
ter died he gave away everything he had and was 
now poor and wanted me to "give him some red In- 
dian cloth to wrap his daughter in to bury her." Three 
yards of cloth at $2.00 a yard was my donation. 
I strolled down where the lodge was being moved, 
saw the box placed in an agency wagon and driven 

Burial of the Daughter 91 

away to a grassy mound west of the agency, followed 
by women and children only. Among them were two 
or three professional criers who, on such occasions, 
wail and weep more earnestly than do members of 
the family. The next day American Horse went 
around and accumulated about as much plunder as 

he had given away. 

* * * 


In 1875 a council with the Sioux Indians was held 
on Chadron creek, Neb., near old Red Cloud agency, 
the government being represented by the full commis- 
sion consisting of the following: Senator W. B. Alli- 
son, chairman; General Alfred Terry, General E. F. 
Lawrence, Senator E. Howe,* Colonel Comingo and 
Captain W. H. Ashby, with S. D. Hinman, interpreter, 
and J. S. Collins, named by President Grant, as secre- 

To arrange the meeting of the various bands of the 
Sioux at Chadron creek it was necessary to visit all 
their villages, hold councils and induce them to send 
delegations of their chiefs and leading men to Chadron 
in the month of August. This duty was performed by 
Colonel Comingo, Captain Ashby, S. D. Hinman and 
myself, with Joe Merreville as guide and interpreter. 
We traveled by wagons across the country and through 
the Black Hills, thence east to the Missouri river, to 
Mandan village, as far north as Fort Sully, D. T., and 
south to the Santee Agency and to Omaha. 

This journey consumed two months' time, and we 
were accompanied by twelve young men selected by 

•Senator Howe, although appointed a member of the com- 
mission, did not join the other commissioners. 

92 A Brave Indian 

Red Cloud and Spotted Tail as ambassadors to give 
our branch of the commission the proper standing 
among the various bands. It will be remembered that 
away back in '75 the boundary lines of an Indian res- 
ervation were called "dead lines." All the tribes were 
restless and dissatisfied, and this hostility which pre- 
cipitated the great Indian war of 1876, with General 
George Crook at the head and General Terry in com- 
mand of troops embracing Custer's command, was at 
this early day apparent. 

It was known that any proposition made to the Sioux 
leading to the relinquishment of titles to their lands 
would not be kindly received and in their then restless 
mood it was an undertaking not void of danger. The 
greatest caution was necessary in broaching the sub- 
ject in councils to influence them to send large delega- 
tions several hundred miles from their villages, to 
treat for the single purpose of 


in the Black Hills, which, with the full knowledge of 
the Hills being rich in gold, they had learned to regard 
as their "bank." 

The hardships of such a journey, together with the 
constant danger attending it, made the task a serious 
one indeed. All the Indian villages of the Sioux na- 
tion were visited, councils held on the open prairie, 
and after two months' labor promises were obtained 
that all the tribes visited would send large delegations 
to the grand council to be held at Chadron in August. 

The entire commission assembled at Chadron creek 
at the appointed time. Captain Egan (since dead), 
with one company of cavalry from Fort Laramie, ac- 

A Brave Indian 93 

companied the commission, partly to assist in making 
the council an imposing affair and also to afford any 
needed protection. 

A tent was pitched under a lone cottonwood tree, 
and a large canvas placed in front of it to keep off the 
scorching rays of the sun. Under this canvas sat the 
commission with Louis Richards for interpreter. 

For miles around the prairie was dotted with Indian 
lodges, the number of Indians present being estimated 
at 20,000. Great herds of ponies were grazing near by, 
while Indians mounted and on foot were hurrying to 
and fro, and criers were haranguing the people to pre- 
pare for the great council — all tending to lend a wierd 
appearance to the scene. 

It was high noon before there was any visible sign 
of the Indians coming to the site selected for the coun- 
cil, and to an unprejudiced observer the "tout en- 
semble" of the commission presented an insignificant 
appearance compared with that of the 7,000 Indians 
present at the council and their gay and picturesque 
caravan. Presently a cloud of dust was seen in the 
east. Two hundred mounted Indians, decked out in 
paint, feathers and gaily-colored blankets, came charg- 
ing down, all drawn up in line abreast 


Five hundred yards away they halted and fired a 
volley in the air. Then on they came, singing and 
chanting their war songs, and rode twice around the 
tent, firing volley after volley. All this manoeuver- 
ing was new to the members of the commission. The 
interpreter assured them it was the Indian custom on 
such occasions of splendor, notwithstanding the re^ 

94 A Brave Indian 

mark of Senator Allison, that such a terrific display of 
firearms seemed unnecessary at a "peace" council. 
Presently another troop of Indians and another and 
another came, all going through the same performance, 
each band taking its position beside the others, with 
a distinct space between the bands. Fully seven thou- 
sand Indians were formed in a circle around the com- 
missioners, and certainly a more gorgeous array of 
painted and feathered red men was never before seen. 
Fully an hour elapsed after they were all assembled 
before the slightest evidence was manifest that they 
had any business with the commission. Then Spotted 
Tail came out from his band of Brules, followed by 
Red Cloud from the Ogallalas, then Two Kettles of 
the Sans Arcs, and others in their turn until some 
twenty of the oldest chiefs of the tribes formed in an 
oblong circle a hundred yards from the tent. 

Pipes and tobacco were brought out, the Great Spirit 
was invoked, while they all sat in silence around the 
circle with their blankets gathered around them. 

It was interpreted that they were deciding on who 
the orators should be. The fact was, no chief cared 
to broatch the subject. It was afterwards learned that 
threats had been made by the Missouri river Indians 
that if those of the interior dared to offer their lands 
they would be shot down. 

For nearly an hour the situation was unchanged and 
exciting in the extreme. Then came a prancing of 
horses on the south line, the column opened and in 
rode a solitary naked Indian mounted bareback on an 
iron gray horse — a lariat for a rein, rifle in one hand, 
the other filled with loose catridges, otherwise "fly- 

A Brave Indian 95 

ing light" as to the matter of baggage. The intruder 
was Little Big Man, a belligerent little devil from the 
north, who had suddenly appeared on the scene "un- 
heralded and unannounced," and with a voice like the 
roar of a cannon he bellowed out : "I am here 


that wants to take my land away!" With a 
graceful gesture Spotted Tail waved the circle of 
chiefs away, a few Indians gathered around the in- 
truder and he was hastily ejected for his great breach 
of etiquette. 

This episode created a furore among all the bands, 
and in an instant all was confusion. Chairman Allison 
suggested that the whole affair began to assume a 
"business" aspect. 

Until now it had not been noticed that Indians had 
taken possession of the line in the rear of the tent and 
in front of the calvary. Captain Egan pushed his way 
through, and addressing General Terry said: "Gen- 
eral, your party is surrounded and my men are shut 
out. It looks ugly." This incident furnished the first 
excuse for looking about and I shall never forget the 
"bleached" appearance of the faces of the commis- 

The interpreter, addressing the secretary, said: "It 
looks like h — 1 will be to pay here in a few minutes. 
The Indians are all mad, and we'll catch it the first 
ones." No one seemed inclined to dispute this state- 
ment. A wet blanket had fallen over the business in 
hand; the Indians had not addressed a single word to 
the commissioners and they in turn had nothing to 
reply. Suddenly a rush was made to the rear of the 

96 A Brave Indian 

tent and it appeared as if the row had commenced in 
earnest. Thanks to the bravery and wisdom of the 
young Ogallala chief — Young Man Afraid of His 
Horses — it was a beginning to prevent trouble 
Young Man Afraid, seeing the danger, dashed into the 
crowd, summoned his Indian soldiers and placed them 
immediately in front of Captain Egan's soldiers, so the 
Indians' fire would fall upon their own people. It 
was an act of remarkable bravery and he followed it 
up by rushing out into the circle and ordering all the 
Indians to disperse and go to their lodges and not 
come into council "till their heads were cool." Almost 
instantly the Indians began skurrying away to their 
lodges, leaving the commissioners and Captain Egan's 
troops to saunter back to the agency. 

It was three days before another council was called, 
and by this time the Indians had selected their speak- 
ers. The commissioners met them on the same ground, 
and business proceeded without interruption.* 
* 5k * 


Some time after the above incident, Carl Schurz 
then Secretary of the Interior under President Hayes, 
accompanied by Webb C. Hayes and Mr. Gaullier, 
an artist from Switzerland, visited the Indian agencies 
along the Upper Missouri river and came overland 
through the agencies of Spotted Tail and Red Cloud 
to Fort Laramie. On invitation I accompanied the 
party to the Laramie mountains. Two days were 

•This account of the meeting was written by me and pub- 
lished in the Omaha Mercury some years ago. 

A Hunting Trip with Carl Schurz 97 

spent at the post. During a call the party made at my 
house. I related the saying of Spotted Tail "If you 
don't pray," etc. That it made an impression on at least 
one of the party was evidenced by what followed. N. R 
Davis, a business partner of Qarence King, who was 
then at the head of the survey of the Fortieth Parallel, 
came from Cheyenne to escort the secretary and party 
to the mountains on a hunt for big game. Mr. Davis 
brought with him his own teams, tents and supplies. 
With him came Harry Yount, the hunter and guide; 
also, Charpiot, the famous cook, from Denver. 

I was familiar with the trail and the country, and 
Hayes and myself with my span of crack broncos, that 
was at any time capable of seventy-five miles in one 
day and return the next, drove ahead of the teams 
to Point of Rocks, about forty-five miles, expecting 
the party to camp here the first night. They were not 
able to reach this camp and stopped sixteen miles be- 
hind at the foot-hills. We had our beds and a lunch 
in the buggy. Being in a game country and having 
killed an antelope, we were as independent as "a ship 
at sea," and contented as to our personal comfort. We 
laid our bed on the grass and slept "the sleep of the 
just." When the teams arrived the following day, 
the secretary reprimanded us severely for what he 
deemed a "foolhardy thing for two men to do alone 
in an Indian country." From the Point of Rocks we 
drove to the foot of Laramie Peak. Years before, 
the government set aside a timber reserve; a stockade 
was built, inside of which were a saw-mill and build- 
ings for use of the soldiers and the men employed 
in cutting logs. When the saw-mill was moved to 

98 A Hunting Trip with Car! Schurz 

Fort Laramie the place was abandoned. Soon after, 
a plucky cattleman named Frank Prager took pos- 
session, kept his horses inside and occupied one of the 
log buildings for living quarters. A war party of 
Sioux "jumped" him one day and drove him in where 
they kept him corralled for three days. There were 
no settlers nearer than Qiugwater, twenty-five miles. 
Prager had a supply of arms and provisions, and 
"stood the Indians off" until they gave up the job of 
starving him out. 

At the base of this mountain we made camp near 
a beautiful spring. When Webb Hayes and myself 
drove up with the broncos Mr. Davis met us and said, 
"Now we have got you in camp where our cook will 
get a whack at you and he will give you such a din- 
ner that you won't be able to run away from us again." 
This was the first chance Charpiot had to convince 
anyone that he could cook any better than the ordinary 
mountain men. Secretary Schurz got out of his sad- 
dle and lay down on the grass to rest. When Char- 
piot announced "dinner," I remember the big laugh 
of the secretary, when he said, "Who ever expected to 
get clam chowder, fillet of beef and omelet, et ceteras — 
a seventeen course dinner — under the shade of Laramie 

After crossing the Laramie mountains, we skirted 
along the foothills just on the edge of Laramie plains 
and stopped at a fine spring near Duck creek. Here 
we found a rough cabin, with an opening for a door. 
Across this was a rope to keep animals from entering. 
A grizzly bear hide was nailed on the cabin walls. 
On the roof lay two freshly killed mountain sheep. 

A Hunting Trip with Carl Schurz 9Q 

Frank Prager, the ranchman mentioned above, greeted 
us. I asked, "When did you desert the stockade?" 

"Oh," he said, "the d d Indians made it too hot for 

me down there and I moved up here last spring." 
He offered us a saddle of mutton, (mountain sheep) 
and told us that two bears had paid him a visit the 
night before and tried to get at the mountain sheep. 
One of the bears came in the cabin and woke him up, 
and he took a shot at him. Then they left. "I have 
plenty of company up here, but some cf them I don't 
want to have around," he said. 

Our party drove west and up into the mountains, 
where we spent four days hunting elk, deer and moun- 
tain sheep with fair success. 

The following winter I went to Washington, D. C. 
Webb Hayes called at the Ebbit house and took me 
to the White House, where I was a guest four days. 
The unvaried courtesy and kindness shown me by the 
President and his family was most cordial; including 
me in every event and entertainment the other guests 
participated in, which were numerous and most inter- 
esting. The President and Mrs. Hayes occasionally 
joined the party, escorted by Webb Hayes. Webb 
gave me his own private room. The furnishings of 
the room were not modern. They were old fashioned, 
substantial in quality and suitable in design. A long 
plate glass mirror, with gilded frame, reaching to the 
ceiling, rested on a marble base. Across the center 
of the glass Webb had pasted a sheet of letter paper, 
on which was written in his fine Italian hand, " *If you 
don't pray before you eat, you won't steal.' — Spotted 


From about 1878 up to the time of the death of 
Major General George Crook, it was his custom to go 
to the Rocky mountains every October to hunt 
big game and it was my good fortune to accompany 
him on every trip for twelve years, together with a 
number of gentlemen he invited at different times. 
The party did not always include the same people and 
the locality was not always the same. 

On one of these excursions in October, 1880, the 
party consisted of Ex-Governor Romualdo Pacheco of 
California, Webb C. Hayes, Major James P. Lord of 
the U. S. army and his nephew Russell Tracey, A. E. 
Touzalin and myself. 

The Government pack train, stationed at Fort D. 
A. Russell, Wyoming, consisting of about seventy-five 
mules equipped with aparejos, in charge of Thomas 
Moore, chief packer and ten assistants, which together 
with a four-mule ambulance and a saddle mule for each 
of the party, was sent to Rock Creek station on the 
Union Pacific railroad, to carry the party to the hunt- 
ing grounds. 

Excepting Mr. Touzalin, who was to join us later, 
the party left the station about October 5th, camping at 
Medicine Bow creek the first night. The next day we 
traveled northeast to the spur of mountains at the head 
of Deer creek, arriving in time for an early dinner. 

As we drove over the low divide and in sight of 
where camp was to be made, an hundred elk were ly- 
ing down at the spring. They were of course greatly 
surprised at our sudden appearance and jumping to 
their feet sauntered leisurely away. 

The Hunter's Paradise 101 

After the second day at this camp, Webb Hayes 
and myself went by ambulance to Rock Creek to meet 
Mr. Touzalin, leading four extra mules as far as Med- 
incine Bow creek, for a relay on our return trip, to 
enable us to make the drive of sixty miles back to 
camp in one day. 

We found the gentleman in his car waiting for us. 

The next morning we made an early start, Touza- 
lin accompanying us. A few miles out from the sta- 
tion we came on a broad plateau, dotted with scatter- 
ing bands of antelope. The drive before us being a 
long one, we made no stop, but enjoyed the view as 
we drove on. 

Arriving at the relay creek, we ate lunch, changed 
mules and lost no time in getting away. 

A mile from this creek we saw a rare and beautiful 
sight, two young buck 


A dozen does and fawns were lined up looking on 
with seemingly as much interest as would a crowd of 
men watch a pair of pugilists in a prize ring. The 
bucks would rush together, push and jam with all 
their might and, as their position would change, the 
dainty does and fawns would move around to get out 
of the way of the fighters. When the bucks became 
exhausted they would break away, take a breathing 
spell and go at it again. 

We watched this novel and beautiful picture some 
time, then drove on, leaving them with heads still to- 
gether and about to give up the fight from sheer ex- 

After riding a few miles we came in sight of two 

102 The Hunter's Paradise 

veteran buck antelopes out on the level plain settling 
a dispute between themselves. This evidently was the 
fight of their lives, its fierceness equalled that of two 
Texas bulls. With heads and horns together, noses 
almost reaching the ground, tongues hanging out and 
foam dripping from their mouths, they were so earn- 
estly engaged we drove to within a hundred yards, so 
near we could see their glassy eyes bulging out and 
no attention was paid to our presence. Both seemed 
tired and willing to rest, both made frantic rushes at 
the same time, the sound of their horns when they met 
cracked like a pistol shot. It was remarked that we 
could walk within ten feet of the scrapping, and Touz- 
alin thought to kill them both would be an act of 
mercy, but we had a long road ahead of us and no time 
to loiter so we drove away, leaving the fight unfinished. 
The object of this fight, 


stood on an elevation a few hundred yards away 
watching the contest with great interest. We arrived 
at camp in good season. 

When General Crook came in one evening, he told 
us of having seen a band of elk lying down under 
scattering pine trees on a mountain side down near 
Bates' Hole. As the Governor and Mr. Touzalin had 
never seen elk in their native haunts, he was anxious 
they should witness them and he came away without 
disturbing them. The distance was about twelve miles, 
where the last of the pine trees grew and the moun- 
tains gradually sloped off to rolling bluffs and plain. 

The next morning the party, including Mr. Moore 
and the packers leaving only two drivers in camp. 

The Hunter's Paradise 103 

each with a lunch in his saddle pocket, mounted a 
saddle mule and followed the General on a somewhat 
silent march. Occasionally a black tail deer would 
streak across our trail, or a bunch of blue grouse fly 
up from the streams that trickled away from the 
springs, but so eager was the party to come onto the 
sights in prospect, not a shot was fired. Just before 
noon we came to a halt and dismounted behind a cliff 
of rocks. The General looked over all approaches 
to make sure of the game being there before bringing 
the party nearer. When our mules were securely 
tied he led us two hundred yards to a split rock, where 
one side had fallen and opened a seam for twenty feet 
from top to base, the opening wide enough for one 
person to see through. Just at hand was a small spring 
and here we ate our lunch. The General had taken a 
view of surroundings and found the elk were still on 
the ground where he had left them. He said nothing 
as to the exact locality until all had finished lunch, 
then he stepped to the opening in the rock and called 
the Governor to his side. When he retired each in his 
turn took a view of the picture. We were closer than 
three hundred yards and just across a stream was the 
band of 


Some were lying down, a few cows were feeding their 
calves, the bulls sauntered on the outer line of the herd 
prodding the cows with their horns to keep them close 

In every band of elk there is a thrifty young bull 
who lords it over the entire herd. If they rebel, he 
whips them into submission or drives them out. Other 
bulls that remain tamely submit to his lordship's 

104 The Hunter's Paradise 

authority. The peace and quiet of it all and the ro- 
mantic surroundings so impressed us that not a 
shot was fired. After viewing this living picture an hour 
we quietly stole away leaving the elk in the enjoyment 
of their solitude. 


our tents were pitched two miles nearer the mountains 
at the mouth of a deep canyon, where the willows and 
quaking asp trees grew so thick it was impossible to 
walk through them. 

As early as October there occasionally came a snow 
fall. No Indian, guide or hunter, possessed a more 
thorough knowledge, and took better advantage of the 
surroundings, or was able to select the very best spot 
to pitch tents to guard against all possibilities of dis- 
comfort than was our able and genial General. 

When tents were up the sky was overcast, the wind 
in the east, and there were signs of a snow storm. 

*' Moore ! pick out a place near the edge, clear away 
the willows and grub the stubble out for our tents. We 
may get good tracking snow for bear by morning," 
said the General to the chief packer. 

By the time the tents were up and everything 
housed, the wind began to blow and it increased to a 
howling blizzard. Had we been out of the willows and 
in the open, not a vestige of our camp would have re- 
mained, but we were snuggled away and as comfort- 
able as if in a house. 


The next morning a foot of snow lay on the ground, 
and that is the day our General met his big grizzly 

The Hunter's Paradise 105 

that raised on his haunches twenty feet away. When 
he opened his mouth to growl, a bullet went straight 
in his mouth, knocking out his front teeth and break- 
ing his neck. It was also the day that Tom Moore 
killed his two cub bears, and Major Lord with Yeoulle 
and another packer, whose name I do not recall, killed 
a she bear and two cubs. 

I was out a day with one of the packers. We had 
crossed back over the range coming towards camp and 
dropped into a canyon that opened out on the plain. 
After traveling half a mile we found a dead cow elk 
on the trail, and as we followed down the canyon, 
came to another and another until we counted seven- 
teen head, which only a few days before had been killed 
by a party of Englishmen who came over from Eng- 
land to visit some English ranchmen and cattle own- 
ers, and incidentally made a hunt to see how many 
head of game they could kill in America. 


no doubt was one of the bags reported to their friends 
back in England. This is a fair sample of the hunting 
followed by these people for years while the game was 
plenty and easy to kill. Is it any wonder that elk 
are diminishing and that the remaining ones have 
left their old feeding grounds? 

The day of the successful bear hunt Mr. Touzalin 
was tired out and did not go out with the hunters. 
Later he saddled up and rode out alone in the sage 
brush flats after antelope, which was easier than climb- 
ing over the mountain chasing bear. 

At a stream he dismounted to quench his thirst. 
Part of his trail rope was wound around the horn of 
his saddle and a few coils of the knotted end he car- 

106 The Hunter's Paradise 

ried in his hand. When he lay down to drink, frog 
fashion, the mule evidently did not like his ungrace- 
ful attitude. The rope end he held pulled only on the 
saddle horn. The mule started out for the other side. 
Touzalin held on to the rope and was dragged head 
first through the creek. They parted company on the 
opposite bank and the mule started immediately to- 
wards camp. Touzalin's bump of locality was not well 
developed and if the mule left him, the chances were 
he would spend the night on the sage brush plain, an 
experience hunters sometimes have. Major Lord and 
his nephew had a night of this kind on this same trip 
and they both agree that it was the longest night of 
their lives. Touzalin managed to keep in sight of the 
mule and was guided safely in. 

After resting a day he and I rode down beyond 
Bates' Hole and over the grassy hills — a part of 
the country we had not hunted over. Out on the 
ridges the wind was blowing a gale and it was difficult 
getting within range of deer or elk. Trails led in 
every direction. Suddenly we came to an old bull elk 
lying down on the edge of a ravine and out of the 
wind, sound asleep, only ten yards away. We were 
walking and leading our mules. Touzalin took the 
shot and his bullet hit high on the shoulder. This did 
not prevent the elk from jumping to his feet and start- 
ing over the hill. As he ran away I shot and broke 
his hip before he was out of sight. We crossed the 
hill and again came in sight as he hobbled away to- 
w^ards the creek. Here we sat down on a rock and 
fired a dozen cartridges. One of Touzalin's shots 
made him shake his head violently. Half a mile away 
he fell on the bank dead. When dressed and while 

The Hunter's Paradise 107 

examining his fine antlers we found a bullet had gone 
through the trunk of one horn, making a hole as clean 
cut as if made by a gimlet. When butchered we tied 
a handkerchief on one horn to keep the wolves away. 

On our way back we found an enormous mule deer 
under the edge of a bluff feeding. His horns were 
larger than any we had taken. By the time we dis- 
mounted the deer had started from the level down a 
steep hill. A bullet hit the base of one horn, sending 
him headlong with a broken neck. While I was pre- 
paring this fine animal, Touzalin caught sight of some 
packers returning with Major Lord and Tracey with 
carcasses of three elk they had killed the day before. 
They were a mile away. Attracting their attention the 
packers came to us. One of the men was Delany, 
well known throughout the mountains, and as far 
south as Arizona. A veteran packer and hunter. 
Four of the mules were packed with three elk, and to 
carry our big deer, the load on the biggest and strong- 
est mule was distributed on the other three. Four 
packers lifted him to the mule's back. When in place, 
Delany remarked "that's the biggest deer I ever pack- 
ed on a mule,he will weigh over three hundred pounds." 
By appointment two men had come down from camp 
with an ambulance to meet us at a creek and save a 
ride in the saddle for ten miles. While waiting in 
the valley for our return, a poor, wretched cow elk 
came down from the mountain side and in attempting 
to cross the creek, fell down and could not get on her 
feet again. The men killed her with stones. She ev- 
idently had been wounded or crippled and was not able 
to keep up with her band. 

When the packers went after our big elk the follow- 

108 The Hunter's Paradise 

ing day, although the carcass had been carefully dress- 
ed the meat had spoiled. Only the hide and 
antlers were brought in. The big elk horns were sent 
to J. M. Forbes, Boston, Mass., and used for a hat 
rack, and the deer horns accompanied them. 

From the mountain slope behind our camp at times 
could be seen four or five bands of elk with three 
to five hundred in each band. A sweep of the eye over 
the plain would cover as many as two thousand. At 
the spring heads of the streams coming from the 
mountain sides blue grouse were abundant. On the 
sage brush flats were flocks and droves of sage grouse. 
Elk, mule deer and antelope were so numerous we kill- 
ed only the bucks, and a number of fine horns were 
brought home as trophies of the hunt and were from 
time to time presented, to friends of the hunting party. 

Delany was a most persistent hunter. When he came 
in at dark after a tedious and fruitless ride and found 
six bear in camp he told his story of a long ride with 
no results and was as sullen as a Sioux Indian. He 
had seen "plenty sign" but no bear. 

Tracks lead towards a long canyon that headed 
just at the top of the range and scarcely twenty feet 
away a canyon headed on the other side, leaving a 
passage way about the width of a railroad grade. 
Each day one of the party passed over this narrow 
passage and noted the fact that it was a fine prospect 
for bear. A canyon straight away from the creek 
to the summit, and a similar one just on the other slope. 
Delany had crossed this trail on his day's ride. 

After supper he proposed to Mr. Moore that the 
entire party "drive" one of these canyons. All agreed 
and the next day the snow being gone, the entire party 

The Hunter's Paradise 109 

hunters, packers and teamsters made an early start 
for the head of the canyon on the southern slope. The 
plan for driving the gulch was left to Delany. He 
formed the party in a line all abreast and moved to- 
wards the valley, whooping, yelling and making all 
the noise, possible, keeping the line intact to prevent a 
bear going through in case we started one and it 
turned back, instead of going ahead. Bunches of 
brush, willows, tall grass, in fact about every 
foot of the ground that was not open, was gone over 
for a distance of three miles. The plan was well car- 
ried out, the disappointment was that no bear was 
started and we gave up the drive. The locality was 
dubbed ''Bear Gulch" where ''General Crook's party 
drove the canyon," and to this day the name clings to 
it. On our return each followed his own inclination. 
Delany and I crossed the range and rode down the 
other side. When about half way a noise was heard 
like the grunt of a hog, coming from a thick bunch of 
willows. The ground being soft and marshy neither 
cared to venture in as we could not see a foot ahead. 
On one side was a rock about twenty feet high and 
DIelany climbed to the top of it while I went above to 
cross over the creek. Crack went a shot from his 
eighteen pound Sharp's rifle. There was a thrashing 
of the willows and more grunts. He had caught sight 
of a moving black object and without being able to 
distinguish what it was sent a bullet in as a 
messenger. The shot attracted my attention and 
I was soon at his side. A big black object 
lay in the grass and mud groaning and scarcely able 
to move. We sat down on the rock waiting for it to 
die or show some sign of getting away. When all 

110 The Hunter's Paradise 

sign of life was gone we moved with great caution 
towards the object. The bullet had gone in under the 
ear broken the neck bone and passed out on the other 
side. It was a grizzly bear, so fat and clumsy it could 
scarcely drag its unwieldly frame faster than a slow 
walk. A rope was tied around its neck and to the sad- 
dle on a mule, but it was impossible to drag it through 
the willows. With our hunting hatchets a place was 
cleared away and the brute placed in a position for 
skinning where it lay. When the hide was off and the 
carcass rolled back on its belly, it had the appearance 
of a mass of white fat and did not in the least resem- 
ble an animal. With hunting knife, the blade four 
inches long, an incision was made just between the 
shoulders. The blade did not reach the meat. Curious 
to know "upon what meats had this, our Caesar, fed, 
that he had grown so great," we examined the 
intestines and found in the stomach an oblong ball 
of hard clay, weighing at least two pounds. The bear 
was cut in four quarters, hung on trees, and left for 
the packers to bring in next day. Moore and Delany 
were of the opinion that the bear had licked a bank of 
sweet clay. Such places are often seen in the moun- 
tains where elk and deer frequented as they would a 
"salt lick." The bear having taken so much in his 
stomach there was no room for other food and on this 
he had became so fat he could scarcely walk. 
From each quarter a slab of fat was taken two to five 
inches thick. The fat alone weighed nearly one hun- 
dred and fifty pounds. The hair was in fine season, 
jet black and glossy. The tips shone in the sun like 
burnished steel. 

Hair balls are occasionally found in the stomach of 

The Hunter's Paradise 111 

cattle, but the hunters agreed that a mud ball in a bear's 
stomach was a revelation. 


While eating supper Major Lord said, "Collins, 
let's take an early start and go round the horn tomor- 
row." Deer creek broke through the mountains east 
of camp and came out on the plains north, 
running to the Platte river, near Wolcott station on 
the Elkhorn railroad. A game trail led along at the 
foot of the north side of the mountain leading to the 
plain west then crossed over to the south side, where 
General Crook had shown us the elk, thence east to the 
camp. The round trip was about twenty-five miles 
and the trip was called "going round the horn." 

Through the rocky gorge, where Deer creek flowed 
north, was the only favorable ground for mountain 
sheep. Our field glasses were in constant use, but we 
found no sheep. After going through and following 
at the foot of the mountain on the north side about 
half way we met Touzalin and one of the packers. 
They were coming from the opposite direction having 
taken the trail going west from camp to "round the 
horn." Being fifty miles from habitation Touzalin 
soliloquised at our meeting and remarked, "How small 
the world is, let's eat lunch together and commemorate 
the meeting with a big drink of whiskey." The day 
was perfect, the air crisp and the sun behind a cloud. 
The mules were turned loose to graze and we threw 
ourselves on the green grass to rest, eat lunch, 
and enjoy the incident. In an hour we parted com- 
pany, the Major and myself changed our plan and 
went straight up the mountain side through the pines 
to the summit, then down a valley leading to a rocky 

112 The Hunter's Paradise 

canyon, where the trail grew rough and we had to dis- 
mount. While I stopped to tighten the saddle cinch, 
the Major kept on and got out of sight. I whistled 
and he came in sight throwing both hands wildly, and 
waving his hat. He was so excited he could 
scarcely speak. When his breath came to him he tried 
to whisper his explanation, but his voice could be heard 
a hundred yards. ''We've got 'em in a pocket and 
can load the pack train right here and go to the rail- 
road tomorrow." 

We led our mules behind the rocks, and tied them 
within a short distance. We looked through an open 
space in an irregular wall of rock and the sight be- 
fore us caused our hearts to beat double quick. Two 
hundred elk in a pocket and less than two hundred 
yards away! Behind them was a high cliff of rock, 
that had crumbled and broken away and fallen to 
form the ends. The formation in front was a long 
line of boulders and we stood in the only opening — ^a 
space twenty feet wide. The feed in among the rocks 
in the corral was fine. A spring came out of the rocks 
and ran along down through the opening where we 
stood. The elk were completely hemmed in. All 
threw their heads in the air, with eyes and ears pointed 
to us. Instantly they began moving about and real- 
ized there was no chance for escape. We calmly 
looked the herd over. There were cows and calves, 
spike bucks and bucks with every variety of horns, 
such as they were. 

I said, "Major, there is not a fine set of horns in 
the entire bunch. What do you say to letting them 
file out in front of us? We are a long ways from 
camp and you know we agreed to bring in no horns 

The Hunter's Paradise 113 

unless they were good ones." The Major was beside 
himself, "My God ! what a picture, and so easy," he 
said. By this time the elk began milling, ttiat is, going 
around in a circle. We stood aside to let them come 
out. They would make no move in that direction, 
while we were in sight. The elk were not nearly so 
excited as we were and we were puzzled to know 
what to do with them. While we stood in or near the 
opening they would not come that way. Again and 
again we would look them over for fine horns. They 
were mostly young elk. There were a few old veterans 
whose horns were irregular or broken from fighting, 
none being as symetrical as those we had in camp. 
We sat down on a rock and tried to decide on a course 
of action. We had traveled nearly eight hundred 
miles to kill elk. We had hunted the mountain and 
plain over for ten days with only this in view. Here 
were two hundred at our mercy. An hour spent in 
watching them and not a shot fired or an effort made 
to bag the game we were looking for, but we had 
promised the General we would kill only for fine ant- 
lers. There were no fine ones in this bunch. So, 
much against our inclination, and having in mind the 
seventeen head killed by the Englishmen and left on 
the ground, to rot, we preferred to go into camp and 
relate our adventures and act in obedience to the 
wishes of the General that "no game would be slaught- 
ered," rather than wantonly disregard them. As loth 
as we were to leave them we walked through the open- 
ing and around to one side and actually drove them 
out and away from us, without firing a shot. 

The valley leading towards camp narrowed down 
for a distance and then widened out. A bar had form- 

114 The Hunter's Paradise 

ed in the center . covering several acres of loose rock 
and fallen trees, and grown up with small pines and 
underbrush. Our direction led us through this tangled 
wood. When half way thirteen old bull elk jumped 
to their feet and broke through the timber. We could 
see only a forest of horns. Among them some fine 
antlers. It was late in the day and as we were not 
able to get a shot at first sight we did not follow and 
left them for some future time. 

It was a band of outlaws that had been driven out 
from several herds and formed a herd of their own to 
drift along the rocks and trees with no particular aim 
in life and without courage to stand their ground in 
contests with younger bulls, among the cows and 


Early in September, 1879, General Crook invited 
Chief Quartermaster M. I. Ludington, who, during 
the Spanish war, was quartermaster general, (since 
retired). Congressman Thornberg from Tennessee, 
Webb C. Hayes, Captain John G. Bourke and myself, 
to join him on a hunting trip to Battle Creek moun- 
tains and Grand Encampment, Wyoming, fifty miles 
south of old Fort Fred Steele. 

Thomas Moore, chief packmaster, with his assist- 
ants and seventy-five sleek roached and shaved-tail 
mules, had preceded us. On the arrival of the hunt- 
ing party at Fort Steele, by Union Pacific train, we left 
by ambulance and saddle mules for the northeast 
slope of a mountain in the Sierra Madre range, and 

, Hunting with a Pack Train 115 

camped at a fine spring at the edge of the pines with 
plenty of wood, water and grass, the packer's delight. 

The hunting ground was in a belt of dense pine tim- 
ber grown up vnt\\ thick underbrush, and an occa- 
sional spot of windfalls and fallen trees, through 
which it was next to impossible to travel on mules. 
The only semblance of trails were those made by game. 
The hunters prospected nearly two days before getting 
the lay of the country, occasionally con:ing onto scat- 
tering elk or deer. The game was not wild, but the 
forest of trees was so dense and the standing pines so 
thick it required the greatest caution to get a shot. 
A section of the country through which we rode was 
a grove of quaking asp trees that extended north to 
the open prairie. A recent fire had left the trunks 
of the trees standing, but all the underbrush was 
burned away. On leaving camp the hunters separated 
and went in any direction they chose. Our camp was 
within a few miles of the crossing of the main divide 
of the Rocky mountains. Before reaching this we 
crossed Cow and Calf creeks running into the Platte 
river. Immediately over the divide was Battle lake 
on the western slope, and the mountain dropped oflf 
so abruptly that the top of the divide was within rifle 
shot of the lake. 

We hunted around Cow creek and Calf creek and 
found trails of herds of elk and deer, but so thick 
were the trees and underbrush, that we could not travel 
fast enough to come up to the game. Occasionally a 
hunter would come onto a herd of a hundred or more 
elk, or a band of black tail deer, and would get one 
or two shots before they disappeared in the timber. 
When we reached the burnt quaking asp opening we 

116 Hunting with a Pack Train 

found antelope all around us and they were very tame. 
Antelope very seldom go into woods or brush, or 
among- trees, but they were here in abundance and 
could be found at any time, so we decided not to dis- 
turb them until the day before we started for the 
railroad and then kill all we wanted in a few hours. 
Blue grouse were plentiful. We decided also to not 
alarm the bigger game by shooting at them until on the 
last day. Every day the hunters were out they killed 
elk or deer. If near camp the hunter would dress his 
game, leave it and go into camp and have a packer lead 
out two or three mules and pack it in. At times it 
was killed too far to bring it in the same day. In 
that case the hunter would dress the elk or deer, turn 
it back up, tie a handkerchief to a stick and stick 
it in the ground or lay it on the animal and the flutter- 
ing of the flag would keep the wolves and coyotes away. 
One day Tucker, our guide, came in at noon and re- 
ported a band of a hundred or more elk less than two 
miles from camp, lying down on a bench on the moun- 
tainside, among them being a bull with a handsome set 
of antlers. I joined him and we set out at once. When 
within a few hundred yards of the band, Tucker in the 
lead, we approached cautiously to within reasonable 
shooting distance. They were all lying down except 
the bull with the fine horns. He had moved to the op- 
posite side of the herd, and stood quartering with his 
tail toward us, not an easy shot to make sure of bring- 
ing him down at first fire. There was no time to be 
lost, however, and at a hundred yards I brought him 
down. In an instant the entire band were up and into 
the brush and timber and scurrying away, with the 
exception of one calf that made no move to join the 

Hunting with a Pack Train 117 

others, and stood broad side. Tucker dropped him in 
his tracks. With that a cow dehberately stepped out 
into the opening and stood over the calf in a defiant 
attitude. I accepted the challenge and a shot behind 
the shoulder laid her beside the calf. This little ex- 
citement diverted our attention from the bull for the 
moment and when we approached the spot the bull 
had disappeared entirely. After dressing the cow and 
calf, we took up the trail and followed the wounded 
bull for an hour but lost him. Here we ran onto Gen- 
eral Crook, who had just come up from a canyon to 
see what the shooting was about, and here Tucker left 
us to go to camp for a pack mule and bring the game 
in before dark. 

The General and I sauntered along leisurely to- 
wards camp. He had been out since morning and dur- 
ing the whole day had not seen any big game, al- 
though the woods were full of trails. Suddenly a bull 
elk which was lying down near a trickling stream, 
jumped up and stood looking at us, showing a full 
front, only one hundred yards away. The General 
was carrying his telescope rifle and resting the gun on 
the side of a tree, took deliberate aim at the spot just 
above where the hair curls on his breast — hunters call 
it the "sticking place." The bullet went straight to the 
mark and we saw blood spurt from the wound. The 
elk did not fall but showed a violent shock when he 
was hit. So sure was the General that it was a fatal 
wound he did not fire again. The bull went by us 
within fifty yards and disappeared in the woods. Tak- 
ing up his trail we followed it by blood left on the 
bushes and soon found him lying dead across the 
trail. When we dressed him we found the bullet had 

118 Hunting with a Pack Train 

gone clean through his heart and, by estimating the 
distance from where he stood when shot, he had trav- 
elled fully five hundred yards afterwards. It was the 
rutting season and the habits of this game were er- 
ratic. After three days in camp, at the spring 
near the edge of the timber. General Ludington, 
General Crook, Bourke, Hayes and myself, with a 
dozen pack and saddle mules, packers and two soldiers, 
started for Battle Creek lake, twelve miles distant, the 
pack mules carrying our camp equipment. Before 
reaching the lake one of the hunters shot a four months' 
old elk calf dressed it and left it hanging on the limb 
of a tree to carry with us on our return to permanent 
camp. Arriving at the lake, the party caught enough 
trout before supper for the dozen men. 

While making camp, a lone mountain sheep came 
down from an almost perpendicular gorge of rocks, to 
the lake to drink. He stood looking at us over a thou- 
sand yards away, then put his nose to the water and 
satisfying his thirst climbed back up the rocks, and was 
in plain sight for nearly a mile. When evening came, 
the whistling of bull elk was heard. All through the 
night we heard the bawling of a cow elk, evidently the 
mother of the calf we killed on our way over. 

The lake covered a space of about fifteen acres and 
lay on top or immediately over the Continental Divide. 
The water was clear and blue and said to be nearly two 
hundred feet deep. Through the almost transparent 
water hundreds of trout could be seen. At the casting 
of a bait dozens of the little speckled beauties would 
come to the surface with open mouths. Pebbles could 
be seen on the bottom in water twenty feet deep. The 
south shore sloped gradually up fully three-quarters 

Hunting with a Pack Train 119 

of a mile and was of bare, broken and scraggy rocks. 
From the shore of the lake above, half the distance up, 
the timber did not grow and it was thought by our 
party that we had crossed the range at about ten 
thousand feet above sea level, and that the bare rock 
was above timber line — eleven thousand feet, above 
which point no vegetation grows. It appears that all 
elevations above timber line are composed principally 
of rock. From the timber line the mountains broke 
away to the north on either side of the lake and formed 
a deep canyon through which the stream from the lake 
flowed finding its way to the Pacific ocean. There was 
a foot of snow on the ground ?nd the forest of pyramid 
shaped tall fir trees on all sides of us was beautiful 
in its garb of snow covered verdure. 

Near the outlet of the lake stood a small log cabin, 
built the season before by Dr. Graff of Omaha, who 
represented some Omaha parties prospecting the 
mountains for minerals. On the door was inscribed 
in pencil the names of the parties who had visited the 
lake, together with a record of the trout they had 
caught, one item of which was a catch of near fourteen 

The next morning the hunters started in all direc- 
tions for big game and the score of deer and elk made 
by each one was entirely satisfactory. Captain 
Bourke took very little interest in hunting and re- 
mained at the lake to try his luck fishing. 

When the hunters returned to the lake they found 
Captain Bourke up in a quaking asp tree on the bank. 
Bourke took no part in the hunting, and to while 
away the time in camp he borrowed a fish hook and a 

120 Hunting with a Pack Train 

piece of string from one of the packers and cut an alder 
bush pole to try his hand catching trout. The matter 
of a few trees behind the place he selected to fish 
from, made no difference to him, the result being that 
he landed his trout, hook and line in the tree nearly 
every time he pulled a fish out. When we came to 
camp he was unravelling his day's work. 

The following day, to rest from four days' hard 
work, we all remained in camp and, as the inclination 
would strike us, would fish for trout. When a trout 
fly was cast in the water, a dozen or more open mouths 
would come for it. Nothing could exceed their eager- 
ness to take anything thrown in the water. During 
the three days the catch of the entire party 
exceeded thirteen hundred trout, the average 
weight of which did not exceed two and one- 
half ounces, and in the catch there was not a fish that 
weighed four ounces. When we left for our perma- 
ment camp on the edge of the woods we packed the 
trout in two grain bags. Along the trail a small open- 
ing in one bag would let them slip out one at a time, 
and by the time we arrived nearly one-half the con- 
tents of the bag were gone. 

On our way back Webb Hayes killed his first elk 
on Cow creek — a bull with fine horns. 
Each of the hunters made his kill, but the General 
as usual led them all in numbers. We made one day's 
hunt in the burnt woods for antelope and with good 
success, the total result of the hunt being several elk, a 
few deer and a dozen antelopes. The great rivalry was 
in shooting the heads off blue grouse. In this I tied 
the General. The trout caught by the party were all 
eaten before we left the camp at the spring. Two 

Hunting with a Pack Train 121 

days carried us back to Fort Fred Steel, where we 
took the train for Omaha, leaving Mr. Moore and the 
packers to take the packs and wagons overland back 
to Fort Russell. The scene of our then wild hunting 
is near the present site of the great copper mine and 
town of Grand Encampment. The country is now well 
populated and filled with prospectors. 

Buffaloes in their wild state are practically extinct. 
Since their disappearance the grazing grounds were 
occupied by cattle and horses and on these the bears 
and wolves subsisted. Now that the ranges are re- 
duced, the number of cattle and horses are also greatly 
lessened, and the wild animals have migrated to Jack- 
son's Hole, the Tetons and Wind river ranges. There 
are still great number of elk in remote regions where 
the average hunter does not visit. Black tail or mule 
deer will be partly protected by the government forest 
rangers, who are also appointed in some instances, as 
state game wardens. 

The timid antelope is being pushed beyond the pale 
of civilization and will find safety in their increased 

That prince of all Rocky mountain game, the moun- 
tain sheep, has been driven from his old haunts near 
the railroads and has taken refuge in the interior and in 
the higher mountain ranges of the Tetons and Wind 
river. The hunters of large game of to-day and of 
the future in the Rocky mountains, who may read the 
incidents herein related, all of which occurred about 
a quarter of a century ago, cannot help but realize the 

122 Hunting with a Pack Train 

wonderful change in the abundance of game then and 
at the present time. 


In January 1901, at the request of John T. Bell, 
then editor and proprietor of the Omaha Mercury, 
I contributed an article giving some of the char- 
acteristics of Baptiste Gamier, better known as 
Little Bat, the scout. This article when published 
was preluded by Mr. Bell. It also contained some 
illustrations that cannot be here included, hence it 
is a trifle revamped. The changes are by permis- 
sion of Mr. Bell. 

**The late General George Crook was one of the 
most distinguished of the many officers who served 
quietly enduring hardships of the most appalling 
character, suffering great privations and in almost 
constant danger. The American people have no 
adequate idea of the patient endurance, the heroism, 
the suffering which characterized life on the plains 
during an active campaign and when the story is 
put in print — if that day ever arrives — ^by a gifted 
penman, with a soul fired by a proper conception of 
his theme, the hearts of men and women will be 
stirred to the utmost — their love for and pride in the 
American army will be increased. 

"In his latest Indian campaigns — 1875 and 1876 — 
General Crook had in his employ three noted scouts 
— Buffalo Bill, Frank Grouard and Baptiste Gar- 
nier. The latter known from boyhood as "Little 
Bat" was recently killed at Crawford, this state, by 

The Scout 123 

a saloon keeper. From the date of his taking com- 
mand General Crook included in his list of close 
personal friends Mr. John S. Collins of this city and 
during a period of many years they were frequently 
together in Wyoming and Western Nebraska in pur- 
suit of big game. At various times the following 
well known men were included in these parties, A. 
E. Touzalin, Webb Hayes, Major Thornburg, 
Major T. H. Stanton, Ex-Governor Romualdo Pacheco 
of California, Major J. H. Lord and others. Concern- 
ing Gamier Mr. Collins told this story ; 


"In the killing of Baptiste Garnier, better known 
throughout the west as Little Bat, the country 
loses a character not only peculiar in habit and 
method but in many ways useful to the wild western 
country, and one that may never again be seen. 
His antecedents are unknown to me, but he was a 
quarter-blood Sioux Indian raised on the Laramie 
river. When a mere boy some thirty years ago he 
became famous as a stock tender, partly because of 
perseverence and knowledge of cattle and horses, 
but chiefly for his wonderful gift of 


"Never was an Indian born who could with more 
certainty follow the trail of a lost animal with the 
assurance of finding it. In 1875 Bat's home was 
on the Hunton and Bullock ranch near old Fort 
Laramie. When General Crook organized the 1876 
campaign against the Sioux, Frank Grouard and 
Little Bat were selected as principal guides and 

124 The Scout 

couriers. At the end of that war General Crook 
filed with the War Department at Washington a rec- 
ommendation that both Grouard and Bat, on ac- 
count of their valuable services, had earned a life 
position and that they be employed by the govern- 
ment as scouts to the end of their lives, Grouard at 
$150 a month and Little Bat at $100. Frank 
Grouard now residing near Pine Ridge Agency, 
Neb., resigned his position at old Fort McKinney 
near Sheridan, it is said through some misunder- 
standing with the then commanding officer, about 
four years ago. Little Bat remained at Fort Robin- 
son and at the time of his death was in the employ 
of the government. 

"During the year 1878 and later, Bat accompanied 
General Marcy, father-in-law of General McQellan, 
Seward Webb and Dr. Draper, on their many hunts 
for large game in the Rocky mountains. General 
George Crook knowing of Bat's wonderful reputation 
as hunter, trailer and rifle shot, first took him with 
us into Salt creek country for bear (Salt creek ly- 
ing north of Casper, Wyo.) and so skillful did he 
prove, never failing, no matter what the character of 
the country was, to come onto the game and secure 
it — that the General afterwards did not think his 
hunting party complete without Little Bat. He and 
General Crook killed the last (three) mountain sheep 
in the Salt creek country, and Bat the last elk, a 
magnificent bull with fine antlers. 


''When General Brooke came to command the De- 
partment of the Platte, Bat at once became a favor- 

The Scout 125 

ite of that officer and accompanied him in the Pine 
Ridge war of 1890. When Forsyth, in command of 
troops escorted Big Foot and his band on the 
Wounded Knee, halted to listen to the parley of the 
Indians, it was Little Bat who warned Forsyth that 
the halt was asked for only to begin trouble. A 
medicine man 


which was taken as a signal for beginning and in an 
instant the fight was on. During the excitement Bat 
had left his tent and ran with the Indians, "when 
he turned toward the tent he had been occupying he 
saw this same medicine man standing at the opening 
with one of his own rifles in hand and keeping it 
hot as he joined in firing on the soldiers. In a few 
seconds this Indian fell into the tent which was after- 
wards set on fire and Bat found his rifle under the 
medicine man's dead body with the stock partly 
burned. This rifle had been presented to Bat by 
General Edward Hatch, formerly in command of 
Fort Robinson, and was used by him in all his hunting 
trips. Although it is a mooted question as to the 
wisdom of 


western people do not agree, neither do they furnish 
the history that may or may not have justified the 

"In recent years Bat was the mainstay of Seward 
Webb and party on a hunt to Jackson's Hole. In 
the fall of 1899 B^t's record for bear killed by him- 
self alone was eighty-three and as he later recalled 
incidents of his score, in the tent of A. S. Patrick and 

126 The Scout 

myself, on one of our private hunts for big game on 
Salt creek, he remarked, "Now the bear all left this 
country, and gone to Jackson's Hole, maybe I wont 
get the other seventeen," to make a hundred. 

"Frank Grouard in his life speaks of Bat as 
the most wonderful hunter and the best game shot he 
ever knew — capable of running deer down on foot 
and capturing them with a rope without firing a gun. 
On one occasion, while at Casper preparing for a 
start to the Sand Hills with General Brooke, looking 
up towards the Casper mountains, I remarked, 'Bat 
are there any elk left in Casper mountains?'' to which 
he replied, *I guess not. I was up there while ago. 


"I have been out with General Crook and Bat when 
a trail would be taken up by Bat on the baked soil 
of the Bad Lands, so hard that the soft foot of a 
bear would make no impression at all and yet the 
scout would follow a bear's trail over that character 
of country for many miles, his only clue being the 
occasional turning over of a bit of dirt or pebble, 
perhaps no bigger than a nickle, this bit showing up 
just a trifle darker in color on what had been the 
under side than the white surface all around it. 

"On one occasion when out with Bat we start- 
ed a deer. A shot broke its hind leg. A deer with a 
broken leg seems to get out of a hunter's way about 
as fast as if not crippled. We were on horseback and 
followed it two or three miles, then struck a 
rough piece of country where it was slow traveling. 
Bat, who was in my lead, saw we were losing ground, 
and left his horse — ^beckoning to me to bring it 

The Scout 127 

along — and set off on foot after the deer, following 
it up a deep coolie and across a grassy divide and 
into another coolie two or three miles farther on, un- 
til the deer actually fell exhausted. When I came 
up an hour later with the horses, there sat Bat on a 
bank rolling a cigarette, ten feet away from where 
the panting deer was. There's your game, why 
don't you shoot it?' he said. But there was no neces- 
sity for shooting a deer that was only ten feet away, 
when I could lead him by the ears down the 'hill and 
kill him in a more sportsmanlike manner. 


"At one time I shot and disabled a bear 
which was rushing hot foot for Bat, only a 
few feet distant. I soon killed the bear, and 
when I afterward remarked, 'Bat, I think I 
saved your Hfe that time,' the scout replied, 'Oh that 
bear was just putting up a big bluff.' On one oc- 
casion General Crook and Bat killed a bear in a hole 
in a cut bank twenty feet deep. Then it was a prob- 
lem as to how the skin of the game was to be saved, 
which problem the General solved by going half a 
mile to the hills and cutting down and carrying on 
his shoulder a young pine tree with an abundance of 
branches. Of this he made a sort of a ladder by 
which the two descended to the dead bear. Then 
they built a fire of sage brush at the bottom of the 
hole which afforded light for their purpose and when 
they had taken the skin off they tied one end of a 
stout lariat to it and hitched the other end to the sad- 
dle of their riding mule which was above them, and 
thus hauled up the heavy pelt. 

128 The Scout 

"If a few short-comings in business matters were 
charged to Bat they might be attributed to his not 
fully understanding them, as he could neither read 
nor write and his contact with men of affairs was, of 
course, limited. He was thoroughly honest. You 
could trust him with your property and rely on his 
promises. What he pretended to know, he knew, 
and his knowledge need not be questioned. Ask 
Bat, 'Can we do it,' and if he said 'Yes,' then leave 
it to his hands for he was sure to accomplish it. 


"One strong feature in his character stood out 
clean cut above all others — ^his wonderful bump of 
locality. Term it woodcraft, landcraft, or what you 
will, it applied the same. Land him blind-folded in 
a new country and he would go straight to his 
camp in day or night as the needle points to the 
noith. In November, 1882, General Crook and his 
hunting party, accompanied by Bat, had been in camp 
on Salt creek for several days. Not finding large 
game plentiful it was suggested that we move over on 
the head of the Dry Cheyenne. Bat instructed the 
men in charge of the teams to 'follow a blind game 
trail over a strip of Bad Lands to a deep washout, 
cross, then keep along the divide to the head of a 
dry creek, follow it down to a point of rocks, then 
strike for a lone pine tree on the side of a high steep 
bluff, where we will camp.' He and the General 
cut across the country to look for bear. At dark 
they brought up at the spring where they expected 
to find the teams in camp, Mr. Hayes and myself 
with two Indians having already arrived. It was 

The Scout 129 

then dark and no sound or sight of the teams. 'Do 
you think it possible for them to reach this camp to- 
night?' asked the General. 'You bet them drivers 
they lost their heads. I go find them and fetch them 
in all right, maybe near daylight' responded Little 
Bat. The General and party were toasting their, 
shins over a huge fire of a standing pine tree when, 
about midnight we heard the refined and gentle 
voice of the government mule skinners. In a short 
time, led by Bat, the entire outfit was in camp and 
the wagon boss, as he slid the harness off the last 
mule, remarked. That fellow Bat got eyes like a cat, 
see as well at night as in daylight.' 


"When we were in camp on the dry fork of the 
Cheyenne, General Hatch wounded a black tail deer 
carrying enormous horns. He and Bat followed him 
a long time drifting towards camp. Bat could throw 
a rope equal to a cowboy. When the deer was about 
exhausted, he threw his rope over one horn and 
after a little bucking the deer quieted down and drove 
fairly well towards camp. It was slow traveling and 
the deer soon got his second wind. By a dexterous 
use of the rope, Bat threw him to the ground. Here 
he sulked and refused to get up for some time. The 
hunters worried him until he jumped to his feet and 
made a frantic dash for his liberty. Bat knew the 
possibility of the deer making a charge and warned 
General Hatch to be on his guard. When on his feet 
again they tried to start him towards camp, but he 
reared and plunged and refused to be driven. 

''Then he braced himself with all four legs and put 

130 The Scout 

his nose to the ground. Bat knew what was coming 
and called to the General *shoot quick or he will 
charge my horse.' 'Stay with him,' said the Gen- 
eral, who was not slow in getting his work in. At the 
crack of his rifle, the deer reared on his hind legs, 
and fell backwards dead. When they rode into 
camp with the handsome buck strapped on the horse 
ridden by the General's orderly, Bat congratulated 
himself on saving his rope, for to have it carried 
away by a deer would have been an everlasting dis- 


**Back in '75' the country around Fort Laramie fair- 
ly bristled with hostile Indians. Scarcely a week passed 
that ranchmen, herders and wood choppers were not 
alarmed by small war parties raiding the stock herds. 
It was the custom of ranchmen along the Laramie river 
to turn their horses out in charge of a herder during 
the day and at night corral them in a pen built of 
logs, the gates being secured by heavy chains and pad- 
locks. The herders always carried rifle and field glass 
and with the latter occasionally spied an Indian lying 
on top of a bluff scanning the prospects for getting 
away with the bunch of horses in charge of the herd- 
er. The camp to which the Indian belonged might 
be located a dozen miles on the north side of the 
Platte river. At night the war party would visit the 
corrals and if, through the carelessness of the men 
the gates were not securely locked, the entire bunch 
of horses would be taken out within a rod of where 
the men were sleeping, and once out of the corral 
with the stock it was useless to follow the Indians in 
the dark. The next morning the ranchmen would 

The Scout 131 

follow the trial as far as the crossing of the Platte and 
then abandon it through fear that the Indians might 
be reinforced. One of the party would then rush into 
the military post and ask the commanding officer to 
send out a detachment of troops. The request was 
usually promptly complied with, but following a cold 
trail a day or more old amounted to nothing more 
than a long, tedious ride. 

"One night in the month of February 


raided the ranch of Louis Reshaw, a halfbreed, nine 
miles up the river, and ran off his stock. Louis, with 
his brother, Pete, accompanied by the famous half- 
breed scout and hunter. Little Bat, skirmished 
around among their neighbors, borrowed horses and 
started on the trail. A nine mile ride brought them 
to the Platte. The river was frozen over. The In- 
dians had thrown sand on the ice to facilitate cross- 
ing the stock. One of the stolen ponies had given 
out and was abandoned at the crossing. The half- 
breeds were hot on the trail, leading in the direction 
of the Indian agency. From the ponies' tracks it was 
evident that but three Indians were in the party. The 
stolen herd numbered five ponies, their total value 
less than $ioo, being the stock left the owners after 
two or three recent visits made by the red men. 

"Crossing the river the trail led over rocky bluffs and 
on through the canyon where Colonel Babbit, later on, 
erected his smelting works, in the now well known 
copper and silver district. Late in the afternoon the 
trail showed that the Indians were traveling slowly 
and would soon camp. Little Bat knew the 

132 The Scout 

country well and he knew the water hole not far 
ahead. When the Indians want to camp and have fears 
that they are being pursued^ they do not stop on 
reaching water but camp away from it. The 
halfbreeds knew their custom and laid plans to sur- 
prise them. The quick eye of Little Bat soon dis- 
covered smoke curling away from the Indians' tepee, 
a rude affair composed of a few lodge poles covered 
with cotton ticking, evidence enough that the Indians 
belonged at or near the agency. The halfbreeds held 
a council and then divided and approached the camp 


was found seated on a rocky point commanding the 
best view of all approaches looking out, a second 
was gathering wood near the tepee, and the third was 
driving the horses down the ravine to water. 

"The war party and their pursuers were equal in 
numbers and evenly matched and no time was lost 
in deciding the plan of action. Louis would take 
care of the lookout, Pete would have an eye on the 
fellow gathering wood, and Little Bat said, "you 
bet I get the horses." 

"Crawling up within lOO yards of the lookout 
Louis crouched behind a rock and waited for Pete 
to get in position. The lookout was the only Indian 
armed, the other two having left their rifles at the 
tepee. It was agreed that no move should be made 
until sundown and just as the sun disappeared be- 
hind a rocky bluff a 


and the smoke curled away from behind the rock 
where Louis lay. A yell from the lookout and he 

The Scout 133 

scrambled among the rocks to a place of safety — shot 
in the leg. Pete took advantage of the wood gath- 
erer and caught him *away from home.* At the 
crack of Louis' rifle the wood chopper dropped his 
load and scampered to a hiding place among the 
scattering pines. Little Bat, rifle in hand, made a 
charge on the herd but did not shoot for fear of 
scattering the horses. Gathering up the lariat drop- 
ped by the Indian he mounted a pony and at once 
skurried down the creek driving the entire band of 
horses ahead of him. 

"Pete had, as he expressed it, captured the camp 
and fired the village taking the only rifle 
at the tepee, powder horn, cap box, 
lance, jerked beef and medicine bag, (one of 
which trophies Louis gave to the writer the follow- 
ing day) and carried them to the rock where Louis 
was trying to get 


at the lockout. Two or three shots were exchanged 
when the lookout called to Louis in a friendly way in 
Sioux. 'Don't shoot! I know you:' 

" *If you know me, what in h 1 you come and 

steal my horses for?' asked Louis. 

"Pete said, 'Call him up to hold a council and I 
kill the d d Sioux.' 

"Bat had gone on with the herd. The lodge had 
been burned, all the plunder taken, one Indian shot 
in the leg, and the war party left afoot in the hills. 
It was now dark and the victors fifteen miles from 
home. Returning to their horses, Louis and Pete 
hurried on down the valley to overtake Bat, who was 

134 The Scout 

holding the herd waiting for them at the mouth of 
the canyon. It was near midnight when the half- 
breeds reached their ranch with all their own stock, 
and five head belonging to the Indians. 

"Last October the writer joined General E. Hatch's 
hunting party and camped on the south fork of the 
Powder river in Wyoming, and found this same 
Little Bat 'pegging down' a fresh bear skin he had 
taken that day. 

"On this trip the writer took occasion to remind him 
of the incident related above. 'Yes, I see that Injun 
many times over at agency, he lame yet where 
we shot him in leg,' said Little Bat." 


"Mr. Collins:— 

"I want you to help me sell the bones of 'Crazy 
Horse.' They are petrified and are very beautiful. 

"Your friend, 

The above is the substance of a letter in my pos- 
session. Crazy Horse was that troublesome Cheyenne 
Indian who was more active in the Sioux war of 1876 
than Sitting Bull himself. When captured by Gen- 
eral Crook he was taken to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, 
and confined in the guard house there to remain until 
the Indian war was ended and the United States gov- 
ernment decided what disposition would be made of all 
the chiefs and leading Indians who surrendered or 
were captured. There were feverish days at Fort 
Robinson at that time. There were reasons for be- 

Crazy Horse Bones 135 

lieving the Indians were organizing a force to make an 
attack on the guard house and release all Indian pris- 
oners. Crazy Horse attempted to pass the guard and 
escape and in the melee was killed by a bayonet. His 
remains were buried near the garrison.. Some time 
after the burial the grave was robbed of its contents 
which were deposited in a remote place where they, 
no doubt, rest at the present day. This was done 
thinking the government would discover the robbing of 
the grave and offer a large reward for the recovery 
of the body. 

No attention, however, was paid to the desecration 
of the grave and the remains lay hidden until about 
the time the above letter was written. Then the dis- 
covery was made that they had turned to stone — hence 
the letter above noted. Later, I talked with the party 
who could "deliver the goods" and there is no doubt 
but they are a remarkable curiosity. Anyone interest- 
ed in such gruesome relics, by paying a good price 
could, even now, I think, procure the petrifaction. 

As it was not in my line of business, I did not 
make an effort to dispose of them. Major John G. 
Bourke, John Finerty and Frank Grouard, the scout, 
have each written a book on the " '76" Indian war in- 
cluding a correct history of Crazy Horse and his fol- 

I believe this is the first item ever published referring 
to the above facts, which shows the peculiar effect of 
the climate of Wyoming on the dead as well as on the 

In my possession is the German silver finger ring 
worn by Crazy Horse when he was killed. 


When William F. Fitch was general manager of 
the Fremont & Elkhorn railroad, he was personally 
acquainted with nearly every owner of a steer or a 
sheep along the line, as well as a hundred miles away 
from it. He was out on the road for business about 
every week. The "cow men" and "sheep men" had 
the run of his private car, and in return gave him their 
business. There were times, however, when a little 
less company suited his taste better. When out on 
the road for work he dressed in a suit of corduroys, 
top boots, woolen shirt, and a broad rimmed cowboy 
hat with a leather band around it, and there were few 
finer looking men on the line than this kind-hearted 
breezy general manager. During the many years he 
managed the Elkhorn road, the event that he dated 
everything, that occurred "before and after," was a 
"cloud burst" in a sand draw out near Shawnee 
creek, that carried away five hundred feet of an em- 
bankment which was from ten to forty feet high, and 
the track went with it. 

With an engine and his private car, he and Ed- 
mund C. Harris, his division superintendent from 
Chadron, camped at their work and killed antelope 
and sage hens at odd times. In those peaceful, happy 
days I frequently accompanied Mr. Fitch on tours west 
of Chadron and to the Black Hills. An engine and 
his private car was the train and just we two would 
sit out on the rear platform and shoot sage hens, the 
engineer would slow down and back up to bag the 
dead birds. They were so plenty it was easy for us to 
supply our table and have birds to bring back to 

Vagabonding with a General Manager 137 

Omaha. I not only toured the Elkhorn road with 
him, but after he went to Marquette, Michigan, to 
manage the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic road, we 
traveled together from Duluth to the head waters of 
the Mississippi river, to the lakes in Minnesota, Michi- 
gan and Wisconsin, to the Sault Ste. Marie, almost 
as far south as the Gulf of Mexico and to Idaho 
where we shot blue grouse from the peaks of the Saw 
Tooth mountains. He frequently came out to Ne- 
braska to keep in touch with the many friends he left 
on the Elkhorn road in Omaha and to enjoy the fine 
air of his old stamping grounds and always brought 
with him one or two friends to show them what he 
called "God's country." On one occasion Peter 
White, from Marquette, a prominent and well known 
man throughout Michigan, came with him. Mr. 
White's reputation as a story-teller was proverbial, 
and his stories were generally fresh and always intend- 
ed to be new. On this occasion I was also a guest. 
Mr. White was showing his best art in relating a story 
to a cattleman, presuming the narrative was new to 
the country. His listener did not crack a smile and 
was patient to the end ; then he remarked : "Oh, yes, 
I heard that in Washington last winter." White's 
heart was almost broken, and to the end of the trip 
he did not recover from the chagrin of finding that 
a cow man out in wild Wyoming had already heard 
one of his pet stories. On this trip Mr. Fitch and my- 
self went to look up his division superintendent, Mr. 
Harris, at Chadron, and left Mr. White in the car. At 
that time Horace G. Burt, who succeeded Mr. Fitch as 
general manager, was expected down on the Black 

138 Vagabonding with a General Manager 

Hills' train for Omaha. Thinking he would come to 
Fitch's car, Mr. White was admonished that in case 
Mr. Burt called, to see to it that no liqufd refreshment 
was in sight on the car, as Mr. Burt was a strict dis- 
ciplinarian and it might be a serious mistake to even 
mention the subject. We were absent some time. 
Meanwhile the train from the Black Hills pulled in, 
and Mr. Burt immediately went to Mr. Fitch's car to 
look after the comfort of the guest of his road. On 
entering Mr. White explained Mr. Fitch's absence, and 
endeavored to lead the visitor into conversation and 
entertain him. Burt was somewhat restless and walk- 
ed up and down the car nervously. Finally he said, "If 
this is Fitch's car, its the first time I ever saw it with- 
out some sort of liquid refreshments on board. Is 
there nothing to drink on this car?" "Oh, certainly," 
said Mr. White, and having a key to the locker, he 
immediately set out a package, called "Lord's Best 
Boon." When Mr. Fitch returned he found his guest 
waiting for him, and joined in the festivities. 



Pig lead by the acre was stacked on the steamboat 
wharf at Galena, Illinois, where, in 1841, my father, 
Eli A. Collins, and Jesse R. Grant, the father of Gen- 
eral Grant, opened the first leather and saddlery store 
west of Buffalo, in a small frame building on a lot 
where the DeSoto house now stands. 

Jesse R. Grant ran the small tannery at Bethel, 
Ohio, with hides bought in Galena, and shipped by 
stern wheel steamers and barges down Fever river, 
(afterwards changed to Galena river) and the Mis- 
sissippi to Cairo, Illinois, then up the Ohio to the 
Bethel landing, above Cincinnati. 

Chicago was then a village, with old Fort Dear- 
born, a fur trading point, few buildings and less pop- 
ulation than the bustling lead mining town of Galena, 
situated seven miles from the Mississippi river. 

Stern wheel steamboats and barges carried away 
the pig lead and hides to St. Louis and brought in the 
supplies to the metropolis of Galena — for metropolis 
it was, with no competing town, save the small village 
of Dubuque. 

Wagons, with trails drawn by from twelve to 
twenty yoke of oxen, hauled the lead to the steamboat 
landing. Each "pig" was branded on the end with 
a letter indicating its ownership. It was piled "cob 
fashion" as high as a man could conveniently lift the 

140 Gen. Grant's Old Home 

The firm of E. A. Collins & Company bought pig 
lead, shipped it by stern wheel steamboats and barges 
down the Mississippi river to New Orleans, thence by 
sailing vessel to New York, sold it and made drafts 
against the proceeds to pay for purchases. 

The dissolution of the firm of E. A. Collins & 
Company occurred in 1853 when Jesse R. Grant with- 
drew and opened an opposition store in the old stone 
Dowling building, corner of Main and Diagonal 
streets, with Simpson S. Grant, the oldest of the Grant 
brothers in charge. 

While managing the leather store in the Dowling 
building, Simpson S. Grant's health became impaired 
and he was compelled to give up his business. It was 
soon after that Orville L. Grant came to succeed him. 
Later the Grant business was moved to the Coats- 
worth block, on Main street. W. T. Medary went over- 
land with Simpson and drove to Minnesota, hoping 
to restore his health, but failed. Simpson died about 
the summer of 186 1. 

U. S. Grant came to Galena in i860 when his career 
in the store began. When E. A. Collins, my father, 
quit business he sold the building and stock on Main 
street, near Hill, to Orville L. Grant and C. R. Per- 

Henry, Corwith opened the first bank in Galena. 
When he could supply eastern exchange to merchants 
it was in sums of one to five or six hundred dollars 
only, at a premium of five per cent. Occasionally an 
eastern man would drift in with a "one hundred dol- 
lar" bill and sell it to a merchant at the same prem- 
ium. When used as remittance the bill was cut in two 

Gen. Grant's Old Home 141 

pieces, one half being sent by one mail, and the other 
half going a week or two later. Occasionally a mer- 
chant would muster courage and take the stage for 
the long tedious ride of three to four weeks for Buf- 
falo, the western terminus of the New York Central 
Railroad, and thence by cars to New York City, to buy 
goods. When such an event happened, the courageous 
passenger usually carried an extra satchel (carpet 
bag) filled with coin and currency for his fellow mer- 

As the inside of the coach was usually filled, the 
money satchel was sometimes thrown in the "boot" 
with the other baggage. Stage robbers were unknown ; 
the country had not reached the advanced stage of 
"hold-ups" and "road agents." 

The American House, a long two story frame hotel, 
on Main, near Hill street, was the stage office and 
headquarters for Frink & Walker's stage line. The 
eastern terminus was Buffalo, New York. The stage 
arrived twice a week, fairly regular and made every 
effort to arrive oftener with letter mail. Postage was 
twenty-five cents for each letter, and eastern news- 
papers three to four weeks old also cost twenty-five 
cents each. 

So important an event as the arrival of the stage 
caused stores to suspend business and the merchants 
to gather around the hotel to "see the stage come in," 
carrying fifteen to twenty passengers, and the usual 
allotment of forty pound of baggage to each pas- 
senger, and twenty-five cents per pound for overweight. 

The only water system the town boasted of was 
"Swansey," a negro slave owned in Missouri, who 

142 Gen. Grant's Old Home 

drove a platform (two- wheeled) dray carrying three 
water barrels, furnishing the stores with river water, 
at fifteen cents per week for one bucket a day, and by 
his industry earned from $1.25 to $2.00 per day, for 
man, horse and dray. 

In passing along the street it was not unusual to 
see shotbags filled with 5- franc silver coins standing 
against the store doors of W. P. Cubbage, — a most 
unique merchant — to keep them open. Quiet, peace- 
ful days were those, with no robbers or "hold-ups." 

The lumber supply came from out of the Wiscon- 
sin and St. Croix rivers. The loggers and pinery men, 
the "Lumber Jacks" spent the winter in the woods, 
cutting and banking logs. When the ice went out, the 
logs were lashed in long narrow rafts and taken down 
the current to the Mississippi river, there to be pinned 
together to the size of an acre or more. Shelter for 
the rafters was built on the field of logs, where they 
lived. Long "sweeps" were put on the front and rear 
end for "rudders" to steer by, to the number of fifteen 
to twenty on each end. 

Salt pork, flour, coffee and sugar were the usual 
provisions. Thus equipped, the entire winter crew 
embarked for their long run from the pineries to 
the mouth of the Fever river, where the field of logs 
was again put into small sections and slowly worked 
up against the sluggish current of Fever river to "Old 
Town," and delivered to the small steam saw-mills. 
Here the occupation of the loggers ended. 

Lined up in front of one of the levee stores, usual- 
ly a "steamboat supply house," dealing in cable chains 
and ropes, steamboat anchors, block and tackles, steam 

Gen. Grant's Old Home 143 

pipes, etc., two hundred to three hundred of these 
rugged men, who for nearly a year had not been out 
of the woods, found the paymaster, who called off 
their names and handed each one $300.00 to $400.00 
in a lump — a year's wages. 

This was an event of no little importance to every 
merchant and business man in the town. The keys 
to the city were not officially turned over by the mayor. 
That made no difference, for the loggers took posses- 
sion of the town all the same. 

The first thing necessary was to "tog out" in a black 
soft hat; two or three suits of underclothing; red 
woolen overshirts, trousers and red topped boots; 
coats and overcoats were not a part of the wardrobe. 
Dressed in this fashion, restaurants and hotels were the 
next places of resort. After a "square meal" the town 
began to move. There was no war tax on whiskey 
in those days, fifty cents a gallon was the price, and 
five cents a drink. Gallon jugs were in great demand ; 
squads of men were seen everywhere going towards 
the lumber piles along the river bank. Very little 
tim€ was lost in "filling up" and soon the town was in 
a whirl; fights were "on" everywhere in the main 
streets; merchants "put up their shutters" and closed 
their stores to save the window glass. Stones flew 
as thick as hail. The town marshal, Tom O'Leary, 
organized his force of half a dozen constables and 
swore in every idle man he met on the street to aid 
in arresting the ringledders and putting them in the 
"calaboose," which at times was taxed to overflow- 

To arrest a big crowd of money-spending logmen. 

144 Gen. Grant's Old Home 

and in the end retain their good will, so that patronage 
would not be withheld, required a bit of diplomacy. 
The business men were equal to it, and quite frequent- 
ly merchants would go personally and bail the offender 
out. This usually occurred about the time they had 
''sobered up" and there was no further need of their 

It was at such times that Esquire Coombs, the Jus- 
tice of the Peace, would sweep out his office, opposite 
the DeSoto house, where justice was dispensed, finish 
cooking his own meal in the back room, and then be 
ready to ''hold court." The squire was a unique char- 
acter; five feet and four inches tall, weighing nearly 
three hundred pounds and girthing as much as his 
height; eyes inclined to cross; stern of countenance, 
and a trifle surly of disposition. When on the bench, 
he was dignified enough for a judge of the supreme 
court, a "terror to evil doers," but withal most just 
and conscientious. 

Sam Hughlett was a prominent and striking figure 
on the streets of Galena ; six feet and three inches tall ; 
of large frame ; and a most jovial, easy-going, upright 
man; his word was his bond; generous to a fault; 
most unostentatious and quiet of manner; a valued 
friend whose rugged honesty and upright business 
methods were perhaps better known among the miners 
and merchants than any man throughout the lead 
mines. He owned the first smelter of Galena ore, and 
later owned all of the smelters and bought pig lead up 
to the time of his death, which occurred along in the 
early "sixties." He and the Corwiths were the deal- 
ers in lead in early days. 

Cen. Grant's Old Home 145 

Nearly three hundred two- wheeled platform drays 
hauled the merchandise to and from the levee and 
stores, and a more loyal set of employes was never 
known. The drivers were the owners of their drays, 
one to half a dozen of which being regularly employed 
by each merchant and business house. It was a sight 
to be remembered — ^the hurry and bustle of shipping 
and receiving goods on the levee, with at times 
twenty or more ''packet," independent and "opposi- 
tion" side wheel steamers, loading and unloading. He 
was a good driver to keep **in line" in the narrow 
crooked alleys of pig lead and it was a common sight 
for a drayman to get down and assert his rights with 
a dray pin or a black-snake whip in his effort to at- 
tract the attention of the **mud clerk" of the steam- 
boat and have him "receipt for his load" in his turn. 

Owners of the packet lines lived all the way be- 
tween St. Louis and St. Paul. One was the Galena, 
Dubuque, Dunleith and St. Paul line, the other was 
the West Newton Opposition line. 

A steamboat captain was a "king." A pilot was a 
"prince." The latter being known by an immaculate 
white ruffled and embroidered shirt front, a gay neck- 
tie, and a "sunburst" diamond pin, to which was at- 
tached a small gold chain with a plain gold pin to 
stick in the bosom for safety. The pilot's pay was 
$300.00 to $400.00 per month, with one or two as- 
sistants and a "cub," learning the river under him. 
When these distinguished men walked down the gang 
plank and stepped on shore, the ground trembled. 

On the arrival of trains bringing three hundred to 
five hundred men, women and children, the boats 

146 Gen. Grant's Old Home 

would immediately get up steam. Each boat had 
from one to three "runners," soliciting passengers, and 
the cutting and slashing of passenger fares would turn 
the heart of a railroad man of the present age to 
stone; beginning at $12.00 for cabin passage, the 
price of tickets to St. Paul, not a few tail ends were 
carried on **deck" from Galena to St. Paul, for $1.00, 
and many first cabin, including meals, for $3.00 to 
$5.00. It was cheaper to travel on a steamboat than 
to stay at home. 

About 1854-5 the Illinois Central railroad completed 
its road to Galena. Then the emigration to Min- 
nesota began. Twelve to twenty steamboats were 
loading and unloading at the wharves. When the big 
sidewheelers, the Northern Belle, War Eagle, Ocean 
Wave, Menominee and the West Newton landed at 
the wharves, the river was too narrow to turn around 
in and head out, so they had to back out as far down as 
the mouth of the river — seven miles. 

It became necessary to dredge out a crescent 
shaped bank of earth opposite the landing to enable 
steamers to turn around and steam out head first. 
When the Illinois Central railroad was completed to 
Dunleith, the steamboat traffic ceased and from the 
increase of mud and decrease of water in the Galena 
river, that stream became navigable only for light 
draught small boats, skiffs, and the like. 

The genial and warm-hearted young banker, the 
late John E. Corwith, was the possessor of a hand- 
some steam launch, carrying ten to fifteen persons. A 
story is told by Mr. Corwith's friends — the entire truth 
of which I do not vouch for — that when the launch ar- 


Gen. CranVs Old Home 147 

rived at Galena the river was very low, scarcely navi- 
gable for even this small craft. John was popular 
with Galenians and particularly with the congressman 
of the Northern district of Illinois, through whose ef- 
forts and those of M. Y. Johnson and the citizens 
generally the government was induced to put in ''locks" 
at the mouth of the river and back the water up, in- 
creasing its depth, at least to the tonnage of the pleas- 
ure boat. 

It became a common thing among the passengers 
on the Illinois Central railroad, as they looked out of 
the car windows, to enquire: ''There seems to be no 
traffic on this stream from Galena to its mouth; what 
are the locks for:'" "The government put them in to 
make the river navigable for John Cor with *s pleasure 
boat; the only vessel on the river," was the reply. 

This was Galena in early days, where General 
Grant came in March, i860, to make his home. 
Today it is surrounded by railroads on all sides. A 
city built on "seven hills," the pride of the populace, 
and a delightful home for the sons and daughters of 
its pioneers, but in business and population, somewhat 

With the extension and completion of the Illinois 
Central railroad to Dunleith, twenty-five miles west, 
the days of steamboating and the glory of historical 
Galena departed. 

Eli S. Parker, one of General Grant's staff officers 
during the Civil War, was a full blooded Seneca In- 
dian and then chief of the "Six Nations." 
By profession he was an engineer; a man of splendid 
physique, standing six feet high and weighing over two 
hundred pounds. 

148 Gen. Grant's Old Home 

As superintendent of construction for the govern- 
ment, he built the postoffice in Galena in 1857-58. 
During his two years' residence there he was immense- 
ly popular, contributing his valuable experience to all 
the city's public affairs, as well as to all social enter- 
tainments, where he was a great favorite. He was an 
enthusiastic sportsman and a fine field shot. It was 
the writer's good fortune to have spent many a day 
in field and marsh with him, greatly enjoying the com- 
panionship of this gentlemanly and jovial hunter. 

William R. Rowley, on General Grant's staff for a 
short time and a close companion later, left the office 
of county clerk for Joe Davies county, to join the 

John A. Rawlins, Grant's chief of staff, and later 
his Secretary of War, was the law partner of David 
Sheean, Esq., now, as then, one of Galena's most 
honored citizens, and a talented attorney. 

Another Galena citizen and friend of General 
Grant, was General J. E. Smith. Before the war he 
was a business partner of J. W. Safely. General 
Grant's first visit to Galena was about 1853, while tour- 
ing the upper Mississippi. A St. Louis steamer, on 
which he was a passenger, ran into Galena near mid- 
night and the General took this occasion to walk to 
the home of E. A. Collins, my father — the only man 
he knew in town — a distance of three miles. 

The General's first war horse, a chestnut gelding, 
was sent to General Smith after the Donaldson fight; 
later he was turned over to J. A. Packard, and was 
the first horse he used in the war. His bones rest 
somewhere among the "seven hills." 

Gen. Grant's Old Home ^ 149 

General Grant did not live in Galena very long. 
Quiet, unobtrusive, he was a stranger in a strange 
land, entering upon a new life. It was not strange 
that after many months' residence, scarcely a dozen 
families knew of the existence of himself and family. 
One evidence of this was that the retail merchants and 
grocery men did not venture to run a family supply 
account with him. Thomas Gilston, then a retail gro- 
cer on Main street, near Hill, declined to send a bar- 
rel of flour to his home without spot cash or payment 
guaranteed. E. A. Collins guaranteed the bill and 
the flour was sent. After this incident, no guarantee 
was necessary. 

Grant drove a span of black ponies that could step 
along at a lively gait and it was his custom on Sun- 
day to drive with Mrs. Grant and the children for 
Sunday dinner to the home of E. A. Collins. On 
week days scarcely a day passed that he did not visit 
the store of Mr. Collins and he was always smoking. 

Destiny that shapes the ends of all mankind soon 
changed the career of this most modest, quiet man. I 
recall a time after Fort Sumpter was fired on, that E. B. 
Washburn, a republican congressman from Northern 
Illinois, was particularly active. 

The War of the Rebellion was on, politicians were 
straining every point to get "to the front," meetings 
being held every night for the organization of com- 
panies of troops. More especially was it noticed that 
the politicians were patriotic and eager to care for the 
welfare of their country, if they could get a good com- 
mission, running all the way from a captaincy up. 

In this hurry and scurry of patriotism the name of 
U. S. Grant was not mentioned. On leaving the store 

150 Gen. Grant's Old Home 

one day at noon, near Main and Hill streets, I was 
with my father when he met E. B. Washburn. 
There was a wide difference in politics between 
the two men and relations were greatly strained. 
This, however, did not deter Mr. Collins from ap- 
proaching the congressman in this way : "Washburn, 
you and your political friends in all your activity in 
calling meetings, raising troops and appointing offi- 
cers, evidently are not aware of a man in your midst 
that has been educated by the government, and having 
served under Zack Taylor in the Mexican war, 
knows something about practical warfare." "Who is 
this man?" inquired Washburn. "Ulysses S. Grant," 
said Mr. Collins, "whom you all pass on the street 
every day and do not know." "If that is so," said 
Washburn, "I will look him up." At the next meeting 
at the court house for the purpose of enlisting troops, 
Grant was called out of the audience — for he attend- 
ed nearly all the war meetings — and invited to the 
platform. At the end of this meeting, Grant was ap- 
pointed to the distinguished position of drill master 
of newly enlisted men. 

To my certain knowledge this was the beginning of 
General Grant's career in the War of the Rebellion. 

It is astonishing the alacrity with which hundreds 
of Galena people suddenly "knew Grant," and as time 
went on the number increased until almost every man 
in Joe Davies county remembered that they of course, 

"knew him all the time." 

* * * 


F. A. Eastman, for the Chicago Chronicle, in a long 
interview with John H. Alden, in December, 1902, a 

Gen, Grant's Old Home 151 

former resident of Galena, later of St. Paul, Minn., 
referring to E. A. Collins, has this to say : 

"This reminds me of a little circumstance illustrat- 
ing Grant's loyalty to his friends, a trait that never 
deserted him. This was so graceful, so brave, an evi- 
dence to those who were true to him when the days 
were dark, that it deserves mentioning. Now, Mr. 
Collins was a democrat, and what little politics Grant 
gave expression to was in dead opposition to every- 
thing savoring of abolitionism. Mr. Collins liked 
Grant's direct, quiet way of doing things, so he gave 
him what assistance he could, and Grant needed it. 

"During the war Grant made numerous tenders of 
positions to Mr. Collins, but that gentleman would 
accept none of them. All were declined with thanks. 
Immediately after tne election of 1868, President-elect 
Grant wrote to Mr. Collins. 

"I have handled and read that letter, and as near as 
I can recollect it was worded like this: 

" 'Dear Mr. Collins : I have just been elected pres- 
ident of the United States. There is but one office 
that I have thus far pledged myself to bestow upon 
any man and that is the Secretaryship of State to the 
Hon. E. B. Washburn. You may name the man for 
the second office, Your friend, 

" 'U. S. Grant.' " 

Mr. Collins never took advantage ot this tender of 
the new president, either for himself or for a friend." 









Old Fort Laramie 5 

Phillips' Account of the Killing of Powell 12 

Catching Trout Through the Ice 16 

"He Looked Like the Boss of a Mule Train"... 18 

A Cowboy Wedding 21 

How THE Buffalo Disappeared 26 

California Joe — Who Brought in the Mule? 28 

A Man with Nerve 34 

The Killing of Hunton 36 

MosQuiTos 42 

Scalped by the Sioux 44 

The Rattlesnake 45 

How Antelope Kill Snakes 46 

Jim Bridger 46 

Holding Up a U. S. Marshal 47 

HUNTING stories- 
Wild Goose Hunting on the Platte River 51 

Indian Sympathy 61 

Lost Near Camp 65 

In the Sand Dunes 68 

A Waterhaul in the Wind River Range 70 

Antelope Hunting 75 

How to Pack a Bear Trap 79 

Out On the Teapot Bad Lands 81 

Incidents 85 



Working for Wages 89 

Is This Conscience Money? 89 

Hustling 90 

The Squaw Man 90 

Down the Missouri River on a Steamboat 97 

The Pack Train 100 

Wild Buffalo in a Cattle Pen 101 

"Jane" 102 

Side Lights on a Gold Mining Camp 103 

A Miners' Bread Riot 107 

Lively Staging in the West 109 

Guarding a Prisoner 112 

A Nez Perces Squaw 113 

Sixty Thousand Dressed Buffalo Hides 116 

Weighing a Grizzly Bear 119 



A Marine's Story 145 


JULY, 1869 148 



This historic old military post, at the time of 
which I write, had been occupied by United States 
troops over 60 years. Previous to this it was an im- 
portant point for the fur traders of British Colum- 
bia, Western Canada, New Orleans, St. Louis, and, 
in fact of the entire west, and was known as Fort St. 
John. From the time it was occupied by the United 
States military arm, nearly every officer and enlist- 
ed man in the army, from the year 1845 up to 1900, 
both cavalry and infantry, had visited there. The 
Fort was built for six or eight companies and 
later enlarged for a regiment, because of its being 
located in the heart of the great Sioux Indian coun- 
try. It had protected the Mormons on their pil- 
grimage to the Great Salt Lake, the California emi- 
grants of '48 and '49, the various Indian commis- 
sions treating with the Sioux, as well as the travel 
to the Black Hills. It was at Fort Laramie that 
General George Crook, commanding the Depart- 
ment of the Platte, fitted out his great army against 
Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull in 1875-76. The post 
has since been abandoned, the buildings sold, and 
at this writing it has assumed the proportions of a 
small village. 

During my stay of twelve years at the post 
scarcely a day passed that did not reveal some item 
going to make western history. During that time I 

6 Old Fori Laramie 

recall these officers : General John E. Smith, Colonel 
Townsend, General L. P. Bradley, Julius Mason, A. 
W. Evans, Jesse Lee, John Mix, Leonard Hay, 
Sammy Munson, Teddy Egan, Captain Collier, 
Lieutenants Allison, Seaton, and others, who had 
been in command of the post or of various com- 
panies. The post, too, had been visited by the 
Sheridans, the Shermans, General Thomas, General 
Curtis, General G. M. Dodge, and if the names could 
be emblazoned on a monument erected on the old 
parade ground, and the reservation be set aside as a 
government reserve park, commemorative of one 
of the oldest and most important military posts in 
the United States, not a taxpayer in this broad land 
would begrudge his small contribution to the fund. 

But there is too much politics, both in the house 
and senate of the United States to take an interest 
in such a trifling thing. 

I was post trader at Fort Laramie for twelve 
years. The soldiers during my stay were a rough, 
devil-may-care assortment from all states. Many 
of them were refugees from justice, some had been 
former penitentiary convicts, and nearly all were as 
tough a lot of men as could be sifted through the 
mesh. To them no service was a hardship, no order 
too strict to obey; scouting for Indians, sleeping 
without tents in the coldest weather, wading through 
mud knee deep, and frozen streams and snow. When 
the march was over for the day many of them were 
employed by officers to pitch tents, cook, make 
beds, carry wood and water and prepare meals, for 
an additional compensation of $2.00 to $5.00 per 
month over the regular pay of an enlisted man, of 

Old Fort Laramie 7 

$13.00 per month. These were designated by others 
of the company as *'dog robbers." 

Along in 75 and 76 the Indians were at their 
worst. Later came the "road agents," and it was 
an uninteresting day that did not bring some event 
worthy of record. Some of the "bad" men of the 
country found employment at the ranches nearby. 
It seemed beyond the abihty of that stripe of off- 
scourings to lead a fairly respectable life and keep 
their own council, and when payday came around 
it was the rule to come to the post and get glori- 
ously drunk. With a Colt's revolver in one bootleg, 
hunting knife in the other, and carrying a reputa- 
tion as a "bad" man, respectable people were on 
their guard. If the clerks in the trader's store did 
not come in contact with them at the height of their 
rage it was considered a quiet day. To the credit 
of these clerk employes of mine, with good judg- 
ment and plenty of "sand," the very toughest of the 
"bad" men could be wallowed in the mud in front 
of the store for any great breach of conduct. The 
calling of the sergeant of the guard or officer of 
the day sometimes landed the toughest in the guard 
house, and when they sobered up they were usually 
quietly led off the reservation in front of a bayonet 
point never to return. 

One amusing incident was when a tall, slim 
Yanctonai Indian drifted in from the Standing Rock 
agency on the Missouri river. He was togged out 
in a flimsy remnant of a buckskin shirt, leggins, 
badly worn moccasins and brass wire armlets, pre- 
senting the appearance of an aboriginal tramp. He 
at once began a speech in Sioux which no one could 

6 ' Old Fort Laramie 

understand. Baptiste Pourre, generally known as 
**Big Bat" the scout, living six miles up the river, 
was the post interpreter and came down only when 
ordered by the commanding officer, or to the com- 
missary for supplies. The Indian addressed him- 
self to everyone, individually and collectively, about 
the store, talking his gibberish in a loud voice and 
exhibiting apparent distress. General L. P. Bradley, 
commanding the post, chanced to pass the store 
door and hearing the racket came in to see what 
was up. The Indian immediately turned on the 
officer and began a new speech and he held the 
general down to it until he was through. The gen- 
eral at once dispatched a courier for the post inter- 
preter to learn if he could understand what the 
Sioux had on his mind, evidently believing that it 
must be something of a serious nature. It happened 
I was the main victim, having been pointed out as 
the storekeeper. 

The orderly and Bat soon came in together and 
the Indian's parley was begun again. He fairly 
danced with joy when he found someone who could 
understand his language. After a few moment's 
conversation Bat turned to the general and said : 

''This Indian came from the Standing Rock 
agency on the Missouri river. He came alone to see 
the soldiers and the storekeeper and the big white 
chief. He is very poor and hungry and wants to go 
back tonight to Red Cloud's camp. He lived here 
when he was a boy, raced horses and played games, 
and there were many buffalo along the river, and 
his people were as thick in the country almost as 
the blades of grass, and he wants the storekeeper 

Old Fort Laramie 9 

to give him a dress and some beads for his squaw, 
some raisins for his children and tobacco for him- 

Turning to me General Bradley said : 

''Collins, this important business seems to be up 
to you. When you get through with your friend, 
the interpreter will direct him out of the post." 

To this I replied : 

**He need not be detained on my account. Bat 
can take him at once." 

One of the clerks bundled up ten yards of calico, 
some beads, tobacco and raisins. The Indian shook 
hands all around and said "How" to everyone in 
the store and was shown the way down to the bridge 

and across the river. 

* * * 

A few miles above the post on the Platte river, 
just below the canyon and near Whalen's ranch 
was a cataract in the river which was a great fishing 
place. In season I made frequent trips to this point, 
usually meeting with great success, taking from 
twenty-five to one hundred pounds of wall-eyed 
pike weighing from one to five pounds each. Dr. 
Grimes, then contract surgeon at the post, accom- 
panied me on one of these trips. On returning we 
came near the "4-P" ranch, where a high ledge cf 
rocks hung over the road, the highway being in 
reality the old California trail on the north side 
of the river. Wind and rain had cut away the soft 
sand rock on the road level, leaving dark and of en 
spaces or shelters under the ledges. Coyotes made 
their dens there and bones of animals were scattered 
about in profusion. A bundle 'of red blankets at- 

10 Old Fort Laramie 

tracted our attention, and on investigation we found 
a "good Indian" wrapped up and carelessly pushed 
into one of the holes. We called him a ''good In- 
dian" because he was a dead one. The living In- 
dians were then at the very pinnacle of their devil- 
ment, stealing horses and cattle, burning wagons, 
killing every belated teamster or traveler who came 
their way. They were not good Indians. 

From the careless way in which the bundle was 
pushed under the ledge, the body had evidently 
been placed there at night, the fellow having been 
killed in some skirmish with white men who were 
defending their stock, and the body had been carried 
as far as could be by his companions in the raid, 
who, perhaps expected to return and get it the earli- 
est opportunity. A few days later some prospectors 
passed by the spot where the body had been cached 

but saw nothing of it. 

* * * 

When cowmen wore $30.00 Stetson hats, with 
leather bands, high-heeled boots to prevent being 
caught in the stirrup and to dig into the dirt after 
they roped an animal while on foot; leather 
''chapps," as protection for their legs in brush as 
well as for warmth in winter; braided quirt; leath- 
ern cufifs to protect wrists in roping; leathern shirt 
bosom; a No. 130 ''Collins" saddle, or, as more ex- 
travagant taste would require, a saddle costing from 
$75.00 to $100.00; $1.25 bridle; Mexican inlaid silver 
spurs costing $25.00, and a $30.00 bit of the same 
material ; they generally placed them upon a $25.00 
or $30.00 cow horse. This was not the only use for 
an outfit costing all the way from $75.00 to $200.00. 

Old Fort Laramie It 

Anything with the name "Collins" from Cheyenne, 
Omaha, or from our stores along the Northern Pa- 
cific, in Montana, would always pass as current as 
gold coin on the range at more than their cost. 

Even President Roosevelt learned to value such 
articles as the most appropriate for use on the range 
and in handling cattle and horses, and our strenuous 
president did not stop at the range either to find 
out other uses for leather work with the stamp 
''Collins" upon it. When later he went to the 
southern states to join the fashionable riding clubs 
and follow the hounds it was he who suggested the 
cowgirl "Collins" saddle, and in order to show the 
faith he had in it he at once ordered them with 
money from his own purse. Among all the thou- 
sands of customers and cowmen whose names were 
on our books there were none more agreeable to us 
or more appreciated and valued than President 
Roosevelt. Should these pages ever reach his eye 
no doubt they will remind him of the jolly rough- 
and-tumble life of cow camps in the piping days 
when he followed the trail at Medora, Montana, on 
the Little Missouri, of the longhorns from his ranch, 
when he was "one of the men" of that country. 

I have said a "Collins" cowboy outfit costing, 
perhaps, $200.00 would pass as current as would 
gold coin with all cowmen on or off the range. This 
outfit was considered a star "buck" in the favorite 
game of poker, played nightly around a camp fire 
when the last wage check had changed to the 
winner. In fact anything made of leather would go 
at par or at a premium in such a game, such was the 
character of horse equipments made by us — because 

12 Phillips' Account of the Killing of Powell 

the cowmen required the goods and they would pay 
the price. 

There are many ''Collins" equipments still on the 
ranges of Texas, Oregon, the British possessions, 
and other parts of the west, made thirty years ago. 


The following incident shows the good-fellowship, 
loyalty and neighborly interest of the early settlers 
on the Laramie river in the '60's and '70's, when the 
Indians menaced every white settler who came onto 
the Laramie and Platte rivers, for a hundred miles 

The killing of Powell occurred in 1872. Powell 
was a quaker, driving a herd of cattle north to find 
a safe range for winter, and later to make sale of 
his herd. In the fall of 71 a snowstorm caught him 
with his herd near the mouth of the North Laramie 
river, where he built a cabin and corrals and win- 
tered. A man by the name of Frazier and three 
other men made up his party when he made camp. 
Powell and his men were always on the alert in 
watching their herd, because they knew that In- 
dians swarmed about them, killing cattle to eat and 
watching every opportunity to steal horses. The 
vigilance of this party of four men was unabating, 
and this same vigilance led to the death of Powell. 

Leaving his camp after a snow storm in charge 
of the four men, he started out alone on a fine mule 
that was shod to ride through and around the cattle 

Phillips' Account of the Killing of Powell IS 

and see if the storm had scattered them badly, and 
also to see if he could pick up the trail of his stolen 
horses that were taken by the Indians before a snow 
storm of a day or two previous. When evening 
came and he did not return to the ranch, the men 
in camp became uneasy, and Frazier rode down to 
the ranch of F. M. Phillips, one of the early settlers 
who furnished beef to the military post, and wha 
lived at the mouth of the Chugwater on the Lara- 
mie river only a few miles away, to ascertain if 
Powell had been seen in the vicinity, there being 
few other settlers between there and Laramie. 
Phillips was at home, and after hearing the story of 
Frazier, concluded that Powell had been taken in 
by the Indians, for it was only the night before that 
they ran off some of Powell's horse stock. As 
Powell was a sober, industrious and reliable man,. 
Phillips' idea was at once accepted — that the In- 
dians who had run off the horses and held them 
near by, were expecting the owner would follow 
and that they would capture or kill him, take his 
saddle horse, then supply their want of beef, and 
get out of the country before the alarm was given 
and any one could follow them. Phillips immedi- 
ately saddled a horse and rode to Fort Laramie, a 
distance of nearly twenty miles. General John E. 
Smith was in command and Phillips called on him 
at once and told the story of Frazier and asked 
General Smith to send a sergeant and a few men 
and he would go with them and try and learn the 
fate of Powell. It was supposed that the military 
was stationed at Fort Laramie for two reasons only, 
viz.; to protect settlers and to guard the emigrants 

14 Phillips' Account of the Killing of Powell 

going west. One hundred and fifty Indians were 
in the post on that day peacefully trading at the 
store, and General Smith presumed that the incident 
related by Mr. Phillips must be untrue. He wovld 
not believe that any war parties were out, while In- 
dians were peacefully trading at the post^ and flatly 
refused to allow any soldiers to leave the garrison. 
For his error of judgment in this matter the settlers 
blame him to this day. 

"Well," said Phillips to the general, "if you won't 
give us any assistance I will raise what few men I 
can on the river, who I know will not refuse to go, 
and I will go with them and we will try to protect 
ourselves. Perhaps on our return we will show you 
that we are right." 

There were a few cowboys working at the ranches 
along the river, and when Phillips told his story 
four of them volunteered to go and immediately 
saddled their ponies to accompany him. It was 
nearly dark when the party arrived at Phillips' 
ranch, and here they remained all night. 

The next morning at daybreak they were off for 
Powell's camp to see if he was still missing. Having 
no tidings, they took up the trail of the shod mule 
ridden by Powell and followed it in the direction of 
Cottonwood creek. Here they were attracted by a 
bunch of coyotes hiking away from a thick bunch 
of brush, and also a flock of magpies hovering 
around, which led them to the carcass of an old bull 
the Indians had killed and feasted on the day before. 
Here they also found the trail of the loose stock 
Powell had evidently been trailing. The remains 
of a fire, pony and moccasin tracks were numerous. 

Phillips' Account of the Killing of Powell 15 

Powell evidently followed the trail of his lost stock 
to this point, and here the Indians captured both 
him and the mule he rode. There were signs where 
they had made "medicine" by rocks heated and 
covered by a small tepee ; this was to decide whether 
they would carry him away alive or kill him and 
leave no chance for his giving the alarm. 

Trails ran all together, but the five men were ex- 
perienced in the arts and wiles of the Sioux, and 
making a circle around the camp ground, found 
where the shod mule ridden by Powell led out from 
the Cottonwood, with pony tracks of an Indian on 
each side of the mule trail. Evidently the Indians 
were afraid to turn Powell loose lest he give alarm 
before they could get out of the country. The trail 
led to Fish creek, a dry stream bed, and a wide sand 
draw, and out on the bank of boulders. It was evi- 
dent that the Indians had made Powell a prisoner, 
and up to that time had not decided what disposi- 
tion they would make of him. It was evident, also, 
that the Indians left behind had later followed the 
same trail. 

Just across the big Fish creek sand draw, among 
some boulders, Phillips came to the body of Powell., 
lying on his face, with legs and arms extended, 
scalped. Two arrows were sticking in his back, 
and the back of his skull was crushed in as if done 
with a rock. They carried the body on a horse to 
Phillips' ranch, and the next day took it in a wagon 
to the post to get the quartermaster to make a coffin 
to bury it in. Then Phillips went to report the find- 
ing of the body to the commanding officer and told 
him the circumstances and added: "If we had had 

16 Catching Trout Through the Ice 

ten or fifteen soldiers, we could have overtaken and 
captured the Indians before they reached the Platte 
river." Powell's body was buried at the post. The 
number of horses he lost was thirty to thirty-five 
head. Powell's home was in Conconaski, Kansas. 
Sanborn & King, attorneys in Washington, later 
made a claim for the stock for his relatives, but the 
result I do not know. 


A short bow-legged fellow about thirty years old, 
weighing less than one hundred pounds, came to me 
at ''Silver Bow." His story was brief, but had the 
merit of frankness at least. He said : ''I've been a 
sailor eight years before the mast on a cooley ship, 
living on 'duff' until a square meal would surprise 
my stomach. Left the ship at San Francisco, 
walked half the way, fell in with a pack train from 
Walla Walla to Helena. There I saw an old mess- 
mate whom I thought was looking for me, and I 
took to the sage brush. Can you give me a job? 
I am too light of weight to mine." I showed him 
a pile of pitch pine trees hauled up for my winter's 
fire wood, and said: "You will find th** axe at the 
corner of the cabin." When he had spent a week 
on that wood pile it was chopped and piled up in 
ship-shape, with the chips gathered and throv^n 
under a cover of poles he built, and all finished with 
as much care as a hunter would sit down and load 
a thousand cartridges. 

"There's a world of trout down on Dear Lodge 
near Johnnie Grant's place, thirty miles from here," 

Catching Trout Through the Ice 17 

he said to me one day. There were eight inches 
of snow on the ground; the mercury stood at 
10 degrees below zero. The following day was 
Sunday, when all the miners came in to trade. The 
sailor caught up my two pinto ponies and Monday 
before daylight we two, with a lunch in our pockets, 
an axe, fishing tackle and a piece of antelope meat 
for bait, started out. In four hours we were on 
Deer Lodge creek cutting holes through eight inches 
of clear, solid ice. Baiting our hooks with lines to a 
short pole of willow, we dropped them into eight 
feet of water, and at the first throw brought up 
two mountain brook trout that would weigh three- 
quarters of a pound each. As fast as we could bait 
our hooks and get them into the water a trout 
would take it. After landing four or five the. water 
froze on the lines and covered them with nearly an 
inch of ice. After building a fire on the ice and 
eating a very cold lunch we fished another hour, 
and then started back home with nearly a half 
bushel of as handsome trout as it has ever been my 
good fortunte to see. The fish froze stiff in half a 
minute after being out of water. The sailor said: 
"They froze with the 'wiggle' in." Lashing them 
behind the saddle in a grain bag we were back at 
Silver Bow soon after dark and threw the trout in 
a tub of water to thaw them out. In half an hour 
"Shorty" called out : "Bugger my eyes, mate, Tm a 
moose if the flounders ain't going." Sure enough, 
they had thawed out and were wiggling around in 
the shallow water in the tub trying to swim. 

I have related this incident to many experienced 
fishermen and have sometimes noticed they ap- 

18 He Looked Like the Boss of a Mule Train 

peared to regard it as a "fish story" of pretty fair 
proportions, but although among them were several 
naturalists not one of them could give a satisfactory 
answer to the question : How can fish which have 
been frozen stiff come to life? 

During my many fishing trips I have met fisher- 
men of many countries and with all of them I have 
discussed the frozen fish incident, but no one could 
advance a palpable reason why our trout came to life 
after they had been dead to all appearances for sev- 
eral hours, and not only dead, but also frozen. 

For my own part I would say that if fish were 
dead before the water around them thawed out they 
could never revive. Our trout surely froze with the 
"wiggle" on them, as my companion suggested. 


Fort Laramie was headquarters for General Crook 
during his preparations for his Indian war against 
Sitting Bull and the northern Indians, in 1875-76, 
and in anticipation of an Indian war that foreboded 
hardships and sufferings of the troops, wintering in 
the then unsettled Big Horn country, with the usual 
accidents of war added, a number of prominent 
newspapers throughout the country sent corres- 
pondents to Fort Laramie to accompany the army 
on the campaign. Of course no events had oc- 
curred up to that time and it was tedious work for 
the correspondents to stay around the post, where 

He Looked Like the Boss of a Mule Train 19 

no information could be obtained from the "close 
corporation" of General Phil Sheridan, who fre- 
quently visited the post to consult with General 
Crook and other officers who were busy enough 
figuring out the plans of their campaign to be 
carried into effect later. One afternoon the stage 
from Cheyenne drove up to my store and a gentle- 
manly appearing young man, with a tired look, and 
covered with the dust of travel, got out and in- 
quired at the store where General Crook could be 

He was directed to the officers' club rooms ad- 
joining the store, and he started in that direction. 
The general and myself had just returned from up 
the Laramie valley, where we had spent the day 
hunting, and he had not yet gotten out of his well 
worn canvas hunting clothes and he looked like 
anything but a general planning the most important 
Indian war against the northern hostile Indians 
that the United States has ever known. He was 
knocking the billiard balls about waiting for his 
dinner. The new arrival, who proved to be a news- 
paper representative, walked around to the club 
room and looked in on a few young officers, but 
saw not one who had the appearance of a general, so 
he returned to the store for further information. 
The clerk asked : 

"Did you see a large man with a full beard dressed 
in canvas hunting clothes and a slouch hat?" 

"Yes," he replied, "I saw a seedy looking man 
dressed as you describe, but I am looking for Gen- 
eral Crook." 

"That's him," said the clerk. 

20 He Looked Like the Boss of a Mule Train 

*'Well," said the stranger, ''I took that man to be 
one of the bosses of a mule train." 

"The clerk replied, "When you have talked with 
him a few minutes, you will find he has a more im- 
portant job on hand than bossing a mule train." 

Some months after this incident, and after General 
Mills' engagement with the Indians at Slim Butte, 
the general had been with his command enduring all 
the hardships of the noted Indian campaign on 
Tongue river and Rosebud, in which no private or 
officer suffered more privations or hardships than 
did the general himself, the command returned 
from the war, via Deadwood, then a somewhat new 
mining camp, that from its earliest discovery had 
been menaced and harassed by Indians, miners being 
driven in from prospecting, and many of them 
killed. The arrival of troops was to Deadwood and 
every settlement or prospector around it, the 
greatest boon they could possibly wish for. The 
keys of the town were by common consent turned 
over to the army. In the language of the Honor- 
able Peter White of Michigan, the city "filled them 
to their jaw" with the best the town could offer. 
Officers and soldiers were treated alike. The 
gambling houses engaged an extra band, the "hurdy 
gurdy" houses opened with an added vim, and 
everything was free "to Crook and his soldiers." 
The troops were almost in rags from their long and 
arduous service in the field and not an officer or 
soldier among them but what was as well or better 
dressed than the general himself. Out of the mer- 
chants' limited stock of clothing which would be- 
come a brigadier general he was togged out in a 

A Cowboy Wedding 21 

brand new suit, and in this he soon after arrived at 
Fort Laramie by stage to get in communication with 
Washington, D. C, this being the nearest telegraph 
station. On his arrival there I criticized the gen- 
eral's appearance a little, which did not in the least 
disconcert him. He said : "This is the very best the 
Deadwood merchant could supply and I was mighty 
glad to get it." Then the incident of that same 
correspondent who months before had taken the 
general for the ''boss of a mule train," was brought 
out, for this same newspaper man had accompanied 
the general back to the post to send to his paper the 
latest news of the Indian war. As he finished his 
last article in my office and folded the papers to 
take to the telegraph office he said : 

"When I go back east, I'll tell a few of these news- 
paper striplings that out west when you are looking 
for a man, to 'look him in the eye and not at the 
clothes he wears.' " 


If any romance can be attached to incidents of 
mountain life with one to five feet of snow on the 
ground, and the mercury 30 degrees below zero, the 
following is deserving of a place among romances. 

Charles A. Pollard and myself owned a ranch on 
Labonte creek, in Wyoming, beginning at its 
mouth where it empties into the Platte river, and 
extending south up the valley nearly five miles. Mr. 
Pollard had two sons, one named Percy E. All his 
life had been spent on the Laramie river and on La- 

22 A Cowboy Wedding 

bonte creek. Taking naturally to cattle and cow- 
boy life, he became an expert horseman, and one of 
the very best cattle men. He knew every brand on 
the range for a hundred miles around, as well as he 
knew his own name, and was always in demand by 
cattle owners as one of the experts in handling both 
cattle and horses, and attended all the round-ups 
of the season — and yet a mere boy. 

At the head of Horseshoe creek, up near Laramie 
peak, was a little saw mill, which supplied lumber 
to settlers building ranch houses in the vicinity. In 
the course of time the *T. C." ranch built a frame 
house at the crossing of the stream, and Percy, with 
one of the ranch hands, made frequent trips up to 
the mill in the mountains for lumber and logs. The 
mill owner, a Mr. Austin, with his family, lived 
there summer and winter among the pine trees. The 
weather was always severe in winter, but the win- 
ter's snow in many ways facilitated his getting out 
logs and hauling them to the mill to keep it running 
in summer. 

The daughter of the owner of the mill, Miss 
Austin, was a comely mountain girl, endowed with 
industrious habits, good sense, and her share of 
good looks — honest and loyal to the core. It was 
not long until Percy's frequent trips to the mill be- 
came of so much interest to him that rain or shine 
he was always ready to *'pull for the mountains." 
The trip could be made from the ranch in a day, 
with good roads and pleasant weather. Coming 
down with a load of logs or lumber, the wagon 
would not stand up under the load without the brake 
and "rough locking" the wheels. It took nearly 

A Cowboy Wedding 23 

two days to come down with a load. Percy was 
counted a number one hand with a team, and a re- 
sourceful ingenuity enabled him to get out of all 
sorts of scrapes which log hauling occasionally got 
him into. 

When snow came in the mountains, and an occa- 
sional thaw on the Labonte, the roads were icy, and 
even rough-locking the wagon wheels would not 
prevent the wagon slipping on side hills. At times 
the cowboy would stay in the mountain saw mill 
camp over night, awaiting more favorable roads and 
weather. As the days shortened, Percy thought 
that four days was about right for a trip, and he so 
planned that his lay-overs were at the house of the 
sawyer. Winter was now on in earnest and it was 
impossible to haul logs through deep snow. There 
was work to be done at the ranch — fences to fix, 
wood to chop, cattle to be fed. Six days was a long 
week. Every Sunday Percy had a new bronco to 
break, and this took him over the old road to the 
saw mill. Monday morning, however, always found 
him home at the ranch for breakfast. He was known 
by all the cowboys and men of the country and was 
well liked, always lending a hand to every one he 
found in trouble with cattle, horses, etc., and the 
boys were as ready to do him a turn. 

One morning he got out of bed and found a level 
foot of snow on the ground, and the snow still fall- 
ing, and not a shod horse on the place. 

''Carrie, let me ride your bay mare to Douglas — 
I'll be back tonight. She don't ball up or stumble 
like the broncos," Percy called to his sister in the 
next room. 

24 A Cowboy Wedding 

''Not going to town in this storm, are you?" 

"Yep," Percy answered, and with Carrie's con- 
sent he was off to saddle the mare. Before closing 
the door, he called back, "If I bring that preacher 
back with me, can we keep him a couple of days?" 
And he did not wait for an answer. His sister 
watched him swing open and close the big gate 
without getting down, and heard the clatter of hoofs 
as he crossed over the bridge. Then she began 
wondering what the boy had on his mind. 

Late at night he came stamping into the house, 
having fed and bedded the mare down. Then they 
all began firing questions at him until they came 
too close to the "main chance," and he unrolled his 
bed down on the floor near the big wood stove and 
"turned in." As a last answer he said, "I went after 
the preacher and some of the boys to help me pack 
him up to the saw mill." People in that vicinity re- 
member that at that time all the roads were blocked 
with snow drifts, and the ravines filled in places fifty 
feet deep, but Percy had important business on hand 
and a few snow drifts would not stop him. The 
preacher didn't come with Percy, but would come 
to the ranch the following Thursday, if it stopped 
snowing and the trail was open to the ranch. 

The next two or three days were busy times with 
the boy. He visited five or six ranches and got sev- 
eral cowboys to agree to go with him Wednesday 
and bring some lead horses to beat a trail through 
the drifts to the saw mill. Two or three pack horses 
carried the rolls of bedding, and some had no packs, 
and Sister Carrie's bay mare had an empty cowboy 
saddle and carried no load. 


A Cowboy Wedding 25 

Wednesday they all started for the mountains 
Percy having left word at home to keep the preacher 
there until he came back — "and have a big supper 
and some cake." It was hard work walking back 
and forth through the snow-drifts, leading and rid- 
ing the trail until it was made passable. 

At the home of the Austins, the young woman 
and her mother had a table well filled with such 
things to eat as could be found in a house in the 
mountains, which has been snowed in for over two 
weeks. The meal consisted of bacon, bread and 
canned goods, prepared in the very best way. The 
cowboys unrolled their beds and bunked on the floor 
after supper. The next morning the horses were 
brought up, bundles of bedding packed on with 
a few extra bundles the horses had not carried up 
to the mill. Then Percy told the young lady, ''That 
'preacher is a tenderfoot, and we could not get him 
up here, but if he had come I would have lashed 
him on a horse, so we are going to pack you down 
to mother's and be married there, if the preacher 
don't go back on us." It was 30 degrees below zero 
on the mountains. A sharp wind kept the snow 
flying. Everybody was in the saddle. Ropes were 
fastened from the bits to horses' tails to keep them 
in line. The caravan started, Percy bringing up the 
rear, leading behind him the bay mare that carried 
the bride-to-be. 

They all reached the ranch safely, but nearly 
frozen. The preacher had arrived, and the marriage 
ceremony was performed. Then came a square 
meal. The preacher and the boys bunked around 
on the floor for the night. 

26 How the Buffalo Disappeared 

The next morning all pulled out for home, the 
preacher going on horseback to Douglas, ten dollars 
richer than when he came. 

The next day Percy was around at his work as if 
nothing had happened. This young man and wife, 
with their little family of children, are now living up 
in North Dakota on a ranch. Every howling bliz- 
zard that comes up reminds Percy of the day he was 
married on the Labonte. 


You would scarcely accuse the Secretary of the 
Interior or any high officer of the government of 
having any knowledge whatever of the sudden dis- 
appearance of the buffalo. As long as they roamed 
over the plains it was an impossibility for the gov- 
ernment to bring the tribes of wild Indians onto a 
reservation, where they could go every thirty days 
and draw live beef, flour, sugar, calico, etc. While 
no officer of the government is positively known as 
taking part in ridding the country of buffalo or 
winking at the quick destruction, it is patent that 
these buffalo roamed on the reservations and no 
man whether Indian, squaw man, white man, or 
half breed, was ever opposed in going when and 
where he chose to kill them for their hides alone. 
When their hides were taken to the Yellowstone 
river and piled on the banks in piles larger than 
a stern-wheel steamboat, they sold for only $1.00 
per hide. Steamboats carried them to St. Louis 
where they were shipped to the tanneries and tanned 

How the Buffalo Disappeared 27 

principally for collar leather — the very lowest grade 
of leather used. When tanned they brought only 
$2.00 to $3.00 each. A few were sent to Nova Scotia 
in hair and tanned in imitation of the Indian buffalo 
robe. But one lot sufficed. No one but an Indian 
could make a buifalo robe then. 

How were the thousands of buffalo killed and 
their hides taken? A squaw man was usually the 
killer, or some miserable, lazy white man hanging 
around an agency. An excuse of a wagon, three or 
four Indian women, five or six of the very poorest 
riding ponies, and this miserable, lazy white man 
would drive to where a large herd was feeding. 
These herds could be found after the spring grass 
had started in half a day or a day's travel. 

Generally the p^ain was flanked by a range of low 
bluffs, half a mile to a mile away from the herd. The 
squaw man with an eighteen-pound Sharp's rifle, 
sometimes with a telescope on, the cartridges loaded 
with 120 grains of powder and a fifty-calibre bullet, 
fixed amunition, would kill at a mile. The hunter 
would secrete the squaws and wagon. With a 
bucket full of amunition he would crawl to a com- 
manding position on the bluff, hide himself behind 
soapweed, sagebrush, or greasewood, with the wind 
always blowing towards him, and deliberately fire 
away into the herd until his amunition was ex- 
hausted, and being far away the buffalo would hear 
no report. Then the squaws would come np with 
ponies and wagon, kill all the cripples that could not 
get away, and after the slaughter of one or two hun- 
dred animals in a day, three or four days would be 
required to "skin the kill." 

28 California Joe — Who Brought in the Mule? 

This is how the buffalo disappeared so suddenly. 
Only a year or two before they roamed over the 
plains in countless thousands. 

Today there is scarcely an Indian alive, man, wo- 
man, or child, that does not go to an agency on issue 
day and draw all the rations they need and clothing 
for all and the buffalo is scarcely missed, even by 
the Indians. 


While the United States troops stationed along 
the Platte river near Fort Laramie were trying to 
prevent miners from going into the Black Hills be- 
fore the treaty was concluded, a motley crowd of 
pretended miners assembled around Fort Laramie 
and along the Platte river, intending to steal across 
the river and by circuitous routes get into the Hills, 
and hide in the forest until a sufficient number of 
people were there to remain. At this time there 
were hundreds who escaped the vigilance of the 

Among the number a somewhat famous and ec- 
centric fellow called "California Joe" hovered around 
the post for several days, and succeeded in picking 
up an ambulance driver by the name of Gray as a 
partner-^— miners always go in pairs. 

At the trader's store one Saturday night they pur- 
chased a month's supplies, including gold pans, 
picks, shovels, gold scales and quicksilver, and 
loaded them on a pack mule in the enclosure at 

California Joe — Who Brought in the Mule? 29 

the rear of the store. Just about as they were leav- 
ing the officer of the day came up and inquired 
where they were going. "Over on the Platte to trap 
beaver and wait until we can go into the hills," was 
Joe's reply. This being a reasonable answer they 
were permitted to pass the guard and they pulled 
out across the sand hills and went in camp on the 
Platte about two miles from the fort. 

Included in their supplies was a two gallon keg 
of whiskey. California Joe was always supplied 
with money from some source, but he did not show 
the disposition to "blow it in" that the average 
western man does when reaching a point where he 
could spend it. For his personal use he purchased 
two pair of trousers and a pair of California riveted 
overalls, and put them all on, also three woolen 
shirts and put them on over his undershirts. When 
one became soiled he would pull it off and throw it 
away. Then his overshirt appeared clean. As it 
was after dark when they reached the Platte they 
turned the mule out to graze (the mule carried their 
supplies, they expecting to walk) ; they made a hasty 
meal over the camp-fire, unrolled their beds, and 
tumbled in without any ceremony. The next morn- 
ing the mule was brought in and fed grain, then 
picketed out to grass ; the supplies put under cover ; 
the tent put up, and to pass away the time a deck of 
cards was brought out. Later in the day the keg of 
whiskey was tapped. The game of cards went on 
until towards evening, when it was time to stir up 
the fire, make coffee, boil potatoes and fry the bacon. 
The question of bringing in the mule came up. 
Neither of them, in their stupid condition, felt like 

30 California Joe — Who Brought in the Mule? 

doing this, although the mule was only a few hun- 
dred yards away. Joe, the more inebriated of the 
two, insisted on his partner, Gray, performing 
this duty, which Gray refused to do, he having just 
prepared supper. The argument became quite warm 
and ended in a war of words. Joe finally proposed 
to Gray: "I'll tell you how to fix this thing; we'll 
both take the extractor out of our rifles, put in one 
cartridge, step off fifty paces and each fire one shot; 
the one then able to go after the mule will bring 
him in, or leave him out all night." Gray agreed to 
this, for in this way he could find out the disposi- 
tion of his new partner, which he must do sooner or 
later. The rifles were loaded, they stood back to 
back and counted off twenty-five paces in opposite 
directions. At a given signal both wheeled and 
fired a shot. Gray was hit in the arm and fell. Joe 
thinking he was nearly dead and having failed to 
take the extractor from his gun, put in another cart- 
ridge, took a second shot at Gray, and missed. Drop- 
ping his rifle he then went to Gray's assistance. 

At this time a boy from up the Platte river rode 
by on horseback, going to the fort. Joe called to him, 
but the boy at once took in the situation and did not 
feel like going to them. Joe called a second time ; the 
boy not coming up, he picked up his rifle, and firing 
a shot ahead of the boy, he said, "I guess you'll 
come now." The boy immediately rode to the camp 
and asked what was wanted. *'Go over to the fort 
and tell the post trader that California Joe has shot 
his partner and to send a wagon over for him." The 
boy, anxious to get away, rode to the fort in hot 

California Joe — Who Brought in the Mule? 31 

About dark the lad came to my house with the 
message. I had no suitable wagon for this purpose, 
and as it was no affair of the military, I sent the boy 
up the Laramie river three miles to Cuny and 
Coffee's ranch, and they immediately sent a wagon 
after Gray, and took Joe along with them, as Cuny 
had some authority as a deputy sheriff. Joe mount- 
ed the mule and on the road over left the crowd to 
make a short cut, and in that way escaped. 

Gray's wound was not serious, but he was later 
brought down to the post hospital for treatment and 
soon recovered so he could resume his former occu- 
pation as ambulance driver, and accompanied Major 
John Furay's wagon train up in the hills, where later 
these two men met again and immediately thought 
they would settles old scores. This time Gray 
wounded Joe, and when the cause of the shooting 
was known, the Major turned Joe out of camp. The 
next heard of Joe, he was over at Red Cloud agency, 
where he was killed in an affray with one New- 
combe. The cause of this fracas was that Joe had 
been blamed for killing old man Reshaw, and New- 
combe, the only man supposed to know about the 
affair, might later expose him, so he undertook to 
kill Newcombe, who was the quicker of the two, 
and Joe fell dead on the spot. 

California Joe was a hunter, miner and scout of 
some note in the mountain country, but in every 
way unreliable when managing an affair for him- 
self. Colonel W. F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill," knew 
him on the plains for years and frequently got offi- 
cers of some command to employ Joe, for in that 
direction he was quite useful and was usually paid 

32 California Joe — Who Brought in the Mule? 

by the day for his services. He was thoroughly 
loyal to Cody, and was often of great assistance in 
dividing the long tedious scouts in the saddle. Cody 
has some good stories to tell of his good-natured 
lying propensities, and when Cody made his visit 
to Omaha, in 1905, to say farewell before sailing to 
Paris, France, to make his last season in the Wild 
West show, he told me some amusing things about 
California Joe. 

In early days while scouting and guiding army 
troops north to the then unknown wilderness of the 
Big Horn country, he saw a typical mountaineer 
coming towards the command, and went out to meet 
him. When within the sound of each other's voices 
their salute was— "Hello Joe;" "Hello Bill." Joe 
was down on his luck and a picture of poverty, 
clothed in the remnants of buckskin shirt, breeches 
and moccasins, with a well worn slouch hat through 
which his hair protruded. 

"Outo' luck?" asked Cody. 

"No! just striking it," said Joe. 

"Come into the command and I will ask the 
commanding officer to pay you $4.00 a day for your 
knowledge of the country we are going through." 

Like all men who have passed the meridian of life 
prospecting the mountains for gold — when game 
was scarce and provisions short, who find an Indian 
camp and kill buffalo and deer and elk for the sim- 
ple reward of being allowed to live among the In- 
dians under the shelter of a lodge made of dressed 
elk skin — Joe had become "dreamy," talked to him- 
self, and in his own mind thought out ways of lead- 

California Joe — Who Brought in the Mule? 33 

ing the invaders of his domain into illusions of won- 
derful discoveries he had made. 

When the command halted at night, Joe rode in 
with a deer behind his saddle, and as he unlashed 
the carcass and let it fall to the ground, unsaddled 
his pony and turned him loose, he called "Bill" to 
one side and said : 

"We are just over the crossing not half an hour's 
ride off the trail. Bring the Captain and we three 
will ride over when camp's broke." 

"What have you struck?" asked Cody. A grunt 
was the only response and no more information 
could be gotten from him. 

Early next morning Joe in the lead and the Cap- 
tain and Cody following side by side, they turned 
off their course and soon came to a mound cov- 
ered with boulders. Joe dismounted, took off his 
well worn slouch hat and stood silent a few 
minutes. In the earnest reverence the Captain 
broke the silence by saying : 

"Well Joe ! Whose grave is this and what do you 
know about it?" 

"It's a long story, — I just came down from Lost 
Cabin up on the range, 'good pardner,' and he never 

"Now let him alone. Captain; he will break out 
when he is ready, and all h — 1 couldn't get another 
word out of him until he is ready to talk," said Cody. 

So they mounted their horses and rode away to 
overtake the troops then on the march. The Cap- 
tain's curiosity was aroused and he rode alongside 
of Joe, whom the warm sun soon thawed to a talk- 
ing mood. 

34 A Man With Nerve 


The first scramble for government land occurred 
in southeastern Wyoming along the old " '49" 
wagon trail to California and the North Platte river 
west of Fort Laramie. The emigrant team^ were 
numerous on the river road, with "half the people 
going west and the others coming back." As in 
the days of the " '49" gold seekers, many seemed to 
have no particular aim in life other than going and 
coming and following the crowd. As ranches had 
many years before been located in all the valleys 
along Jihe streams, according to the custom of the 
cattlemen in those days all the lands adjacent to 
water had been fenced. Some of these restless peo- 
ple were landseekers and had been told that very 
few entries of land had been made according to law, 
and to secure good claims all they had to do was to 
tear down the fences, camp in the fields, and wait 
for the owners to buy or order them off. My part- 
ner, Mr. Pollard, and myself had taken up under the 
desert act 1,800 acres on Labonte creek. The old 
California trail had passed through out choicest 
grass land. We had several miles of irrigating 
ditches and all our patented lands were under fence 
and the place was widely known as "P. C. Road 
ranch." The many arguments and discussions Mr. 
Pollard had to contend with and settle were exceed- 
ingly annoying, principally growing out of these 
restless people cutting fences and camping in the 
fields. What little hay there was in the country 
was valued at about $100.00 per ton, and these in- 
truders were doing damage to the grass land. 

A Man With Nerve 35 

Pollard was a quiet man with a cast-iron nerve, 
a seeming idle brain, but he never lost a moment's 
time in looking after the company's property. It 
was a dull and uninteresting sunrise that did not 
find him up before the break of day inspecting 
fences, counting his cattle, frequently finding one 
or two short, — killed by these roamers. Riding up 
to the tents of the intruders, he would ask, "Why 
don't you camp outside the fence or go on to 
Wagonhound creek, or to the Laporal where there 
is plenty unfenced land? You are on patented land 
and you better move oflf." Pollard never carried a 
"gun," or made a "bluff." There was something in 
his quiet manner and his big grey eyes that was 
rather convincing, but quarreling was not his tac- 

In the spring time the Labonte was banks full. 
This being the time of travel, it was no small task to 
ford the streams and particularly Labonte creek. A 
pair of black stallions had been pressed into his 
service for fording. The water was from four to six 
feet deep and running like a torrent. When he got 
a good-sized audience, riding one stallion and lead- 
ing the other, right under the eyes of the disturbers, 
Pollard would ride into the stream, slide back over 
the horse's rump, hold on to his tail and be towed 
through the water to the other shore. 

Now the pilgrims saw what they had to en- 
counter. Crossing back Pollard would quietly ride 
to his ranch and leave the pilgrims to find out what 
was to follow. Then half a dozen would follow him 
to the house and begin negotiations for helping 
them over the crossing. Here is where Pollard got 

36 The Killing of Hunton 

in his work. A camper would call out, "Cap, we'll 
move out today if you help us across the stream." 
"I'll cross your wagons for $5.00 apiece. The loose 
stock can swim," Pollard would reply. Then came 
an interval of silence. The men moved off to camp 
with a worried look to hold a counsel as to what 
could be done. Some were in favor of camping in 
the field until the stream would go down. This 
might take days or weeks and would their pro- 
visions hold out? At the Labonte store flour was 
$15.00 a bag, canned goods $1.00 a can. If this 
lasted long they would all be afoot, so that in the 
end Pollard had not been bluffed. But they paid 
him $5.00 each and went away of their own accord, 
instead of his having to pay them. 
The only weapon he used was sand. 


James Hunton was killed by Indians in the 
summer of 1876 on Chugwater creek. Returning 
from the east I left Cheyenne with my span of 
bronco horses to drive to Fort Laramie. The road 
was counted safe as far north as Kelly's ranch on 
Chugwater; beyond Kelly's it was risky to drive to 
Fort Laramie. Colonel Townsend, the officer com- 
manding the fort, left Cheyenne the same morning 
by ambulance and as far as Kelly's we kept in sight 
of each other and all arrived at the ranch about sun- 
down. Kelly's was about half way between 
Cheyenne and Fort Laramie — a drive of forty-six 
to forty-eight miles. The next morning I made an 
early start and soon after daylight came to the ranch 

The Killing of Hunton 37 

kept by the Hunton brothers. Here the Chugwater 
following the main valley turns west and flows into 
the Laramie river, where F. M. Phillips established 
a cattle ranch, about nine miles west. The road to 
the post ran due north. During the night there was 
a shower of rain and the roads were a little muddy. 
As I drove by Hunton's home along the roadside, 
following the custom of the country, when no one is 
in sight, I shouted a greeting. The door opened at 
once and one of the brothers hailed me, and came 
out to my buggy. He said, "Indians came to our 
corral, let down the bars and drove off our horse 
herd, about an hour ago. We were just getting up 
and heard them go by, but thought it was some 
ranchmen with a herd of cow horses. A little later 
we looked out and saw the pasture bars were down, 
you can see the tracks of the whole outfit in the mud 
right here. Jim's saddle horse was in the barn and 
he saddled up and took his pistol and started on the 
trail leading towards Goshen Hole. His horse just- 
came back with the saddle and bridle and I'm afraid 
the Indians have got Jim. When you get to Fort 
Laramie tell the officer in command, and ask him 
to send a sergeant and some soldiers towards 
Charley Coffee's ranch and perhaps he can overtake 
them before they reach the Platte river." 

I told Hunton the commanding officer was just 
behind us, and I would wait until his ambulance 
drove up. In a short time Colonel Townsend drove 
up and heard the news. Turning to me he said: 
"Collins, you can reach the post quicker than we 
can. Give the officer in command my compliments, 
and tell him to send a sergeant and twenty men 

38 The Killing of Hunton 

down near Coffee's ranch, in the Hole, immediately 
and look out for a party of thirteen Indians,and it 
possible pick up the trail before the Indians reach 
the Platte river." It was thirty-one miles to the 
post from Hunton's. My broncos were fresh, and 
in good condition, and with James Smith, a colored 
man who accompanied me, (this same Smith at this 
writing is in charge of one of General Manager 
George W. Holdrege's private cars in Omaha) I 

"Jog 'em kind of slow till we pass Johnny Owen*s 
ranch, then cut 'em loose and we'll make it in two 
hours sure," said Jim. When I pulled up on the 
lines the horses champed the bits, shook their heads 
and started on about a six-mile-an-hour gait. Soon 
their speed increased and they whirled along over 
the road, faster and faster as they limbered up. *'I 
believe them horses know there's something the 
matter," said Jim, and from their actions, you would 
suppose Jim was right. We passed Owen's ranch 
with the usual salute and got no answer. Soon after 
we were over one of the sand spots and on a gravel 
road, as smooth as a turnpike. Jim was in his ele- 
ment and believed no other team in the country 
could match this pair over a smooth road, and that 
was the opinion all the ranchmen along the road 
held. We were now in a somewhat dangerous In- 
dian country ourselves. The roads continued 
smooth, and improved as they dried on the surface. 
"Here's where we make time; we are going like a 
railroad train," said Jim. We passed the six-mile 
ranch. The horses were in a foam of sweat, but the 
further they traveled the easier they seemed to 

The Killing of Hunton 39 

move — they were headed towards home. We plowed 
through a small patch of sand when in sight of the 
fort, passed the "papoose tree," and as we turned in 
to cross the bridge at the post, I looked at my watch ; 
we had made the drive of thirty-one miles in two 
hours flat. 

As we crossed the bridge and drove by the 
quartermaster's warehouses we met the officer of 
the day and told him the news. 

The papoose tree referred to was a big box elder 
that stood three hundred yards from and opposite 
the quarters called "Dobie Row," its branches cover- 
ing a space of at least seventy-five feet in diameter. 
It contained no less than forty bodies of Indian 
children wrapped in skins and robes, and lashed to 
the limbs of the Iree with buffalo thongs, at that 
time the mode of Indian burial.* 

After delivering Colonel Townsend's message to 
the officer of the day, I drove to the headquarters 
and repeated it to the officer in command. 

In half an hour Lieutenant Allison and twenty 
men were galloping across the Laramie river and up 
Cherry creek over the Goshen Hole mesa towards 
the ranch of Charles Coffee, situated about twelve 
miles from the Platte river. Meanwhile Jim 
rubbed the horses down, given them a little water, 
and walked them around to cool off before feeding. 
This thirty-one mile drive in two hours was con- 
sidered the best drive known in the country, over 
that end of the road. 

•As the thongs rotted away the bundle would fall to the 
ground and the coyotes would instantly come from far and 
near and tear them open. Bones, heads and various trinkets 
were scattered on the ground under the tree. 

40 The Killing of Hunton 

Soon after we left Hunton's ranch, Little Bat, 
Charles Coffee, John Sparks, and two or three other 
ranchmen, came to Hunton's, and hearing of their 
fellow ranchmen being in peril, they immediately 
took tip the trail. After following it nine or ten 
miles, they came onto the body of Hunton, dead 
and scalped. About this time Lieutenant Allison 
came up with his men and they soon returned to the 
fort. Little Bat and others carried the body on 
their horse's back to Hunton's ranch and John 
Sparks, now governor of Nevada, and Charles 
Coffee, at this time an extensive cattle owner, and 
president of the First National bank, Chadron, Ne- 
braska, continued on the trail several miles beyond 
where the body was found, to Coffee's ranch. No 
better account of what followed can be given than 
the letter, here printed, from Charles Coffee. This 
letter was in answer to my request of an account of 
the result of the journey of Mr. Sparks and himself, 
alone, following thirteen Indians, after I had left 
the Chugwater. 

The troops sent from Fort Laramie arrived at the 
point where the body was found about the time the 
party from the ranch arrived, and knowing the 
character of the country and that the "dead line" 
or reservation line was the Platte river, upon which 
they had no right to encroach, and believing the In- 
dians would cross the Platte river before they could 
overtake them, returned to Fort Laramie and re- 
ported the result of their scout to Colonel Town- 
send, who by this time had reached the post and 
at once assumed command. 

The Killing of Hunton 41 

Chadron, Nebraska, Sept. 3, 1904. 
Mr. J. S. Collins, 

Omaha, Neb. 
My dear old friend : — 

Your letter is just at hand and I have also re- 
ceived your book which I know will be interesting. 
You asked some questions about the killing of Jim 
Hunton on the road from Cheyenne to Fort Lara- 
mie. I think it was in 1876 near my ranch on Box 
Elder creek. I had been out hunting the day before 
and discovered Indian signs, so when I went back 
to the ranch, I had all my horses put in corral and 
put up a tent to fool the Indians. The next day 
''Little Bat" came to my ranch and said that Hun- 
ton's horse was close to the ranch, and he thought 
the Indians had killed Hunton. I had come from 
the Laramie road the evening before. John Sparks, 
now the governor of Nevada, was with me at my 
ranch and we two picked out a couple of my best 
saddle horses and went out on the trail and found 
Jim's body within a half mile, and we then took up 
the trail of the Indians, thinking we could catch 
them before they crossed the Platte river, as the 
trail grew fresher and fresher the further we went. 
When we reached the hills I stopped and said to 
Sparks, "What will we do if we catch the Indians? 
There are thirteen of them and only two of us." We 
stopped and held a council and concluded we had 
lost no Indians and went back to the ranch. If we 
had caught up with them. Sparks would not now be 
governor of Nevada, neither would I be running a 

42 Mosquitos 

bank in Chadron. This I think is what you refer 
to and in order to get the information correct I 
looked over some of my old books. If a fellow could 
think of all that happened in those days he could 
make some good reading for these quiet days, but 
no one except the old-timers like you and I would 
believe such things to be true. C. F. COFFEE. 


The steamer "Cora" rounded up to the west bank 
of the Missouri river near the mouth of the Judith 
to take on wood. All the passengers were at supper. 
While the boat was in motion no great incon- 
venience was experienced from mosquitoes. When 
the boat landed the insects came on board by the 
million. Women left the table, rushed to their state 
rooms and put on sunbonnets, veils and gauntlet 
gloves and rushed frantically to get away. There 
was no escaping the mosquitoes, they swarmed on 
board and found their way into every inch of space 
on the boat. The men passengers went on shore to 
the great smudge fires burning around the camp. 
The "mud" clerk hurried ashore with his eight-foot 
measuring stick, laid it along the wood pile and 
shouted back to the mate : 

"Eight cords in this pile, do we want any more?" 
The deck hands hurried ashore and in less than 
half an hour had the eight cords on board. The 
owner of the wood yard meanwhile sauntered into 
a corral with two yoke of cattle, a Springfield rifle 
on his shoulder. As he stepped on the garfg plank 
to collect his pay for the wood I was saluted with : 

Mosquitos 43 

"Hello, Mr. Collins ; what in h — 1 are you doing up 
in this God-forsaken country?" 

The man was about seventy years old; his hair 
hung down over his neck and a greasy and well 
worn over shirt, whiskers a foot long and a mustache 
covered his face. His eyes and mouth, almost con- 
cealed with hair, he was a degenerated looking 
Santa Claus. The corral he put his cattle in was 
built of logs two feet in diameter and forty feet 
long. The bars were secured with heavy log chains. 
Inside this was the cabin where the old man lived 
alone and between the continual and unceasing at- 
tacks by mosquitos and the hourly danger that In- 
dians would come in and raid his cabin he was 
worrying through a miserable existence, seemingly 
not caring whether he lived through it or not. He 
had "gone broke" up in the mines, worked his way 
down on the deck of a steamboat and, with a part- 
ner, stopped at this big cottonwood grove where he 
was daily in sight of and in fear of hostiles. His 
story was : 

"Collins, the d — d Injuns won't kill me as long as 
they know I can get grub from a steamboat and 
divide with them." 

Of course I was curious to know who this grizzled 
old man was that called me by name in one of the 
most uninviting spots I had ever seen. 

He had once driven a dray in Galena for our busi- 
ness house ; hauling goods from our store, ten years 
ago, as he explained it. He shipped at Omaha with 
Captain Tom Townsend for Forf Benton and the 
gold mines. He said to me : " When the grub gives 
out I will try and be out of the country and save my 

44 Scalped by the Sioux 

scalp. God only knows why I should try to save it, 
and perhaps starve later on; for a man over seventy 
with not a dollar, can't expect much in civilization." 


In the summer of 1866 I stood in my store on 
Douglas street, Omaha, and saw one of our then 
well known physicians, long since dead, drive by in 
a buggy. A man beside him was wrapped from heaTi 
to foot in a white sheet. They stopped in front of 
the Hamilton house on Douglas street, a small brick 
hotel, standing where now is the Calumet res- 
taurant. Following a small crowd I saw the man in 
the sheet taken out and assisted into the hotel. He 
carried a bucket of water and in it floated the scalp 
of the man who carried the bucket. Only forty- 
eight hours before, this man, Conductor Crawford, 
was running a freight train on the Union Pacific 
road near Plumb Creek, Nebraska. The Indians, in 
the frenzy of committing all the devilment they 
could, had piled railroad ties on the track at a high 
embankment and the first freight train that came 
along, with Crawford in charge, was thrown down 
the embankment. The engineer and fireman escaped 
in the brush, but Crawford was caught, and left for 
dead. Hearing the whistle of another engine ap- 
proaching, and in their ha^te to get away, the scalp 
was dropped by the Indians. A little later Craw- 
ford regained consciousness and on his way out of 
the brush came onto his own scalp. He picked it up 
and hid in the brush until night came, then found 

The Rattlesnake 45 

his way up to the track where he saw the engine 
that came to inquire the cause of the delay of the 
freight. He was immediately taken to the nearest 
station and there remained until an eastbound train 
came along and brought him to Omaha, carrying 
with him his own scalp, thinking it might be sewed 
back onto his head. At the Omaha depot he was 
met by a doctor and, as above stated, taken up town 
where he remained several days. Being a strong, 
healthy man, his lacerated head soon began to heal, 
but the scalp, of course, could not be replaced. 

At this writing, 1910, this scalp hangs in a glass 
case in the Omaha city library on public exhibition. 
Crawford, the owner of the scalp, was recently 
known to be a conductor of a passenger train in 
the vicinity of Salt Lake City, Utah, in good health, 
following his old business, but always wearing a 
skull cap. 

This is one of the incidents of the building of the 
Union Pacific railroad. The scalp is now owned by 
a physician who is practicing in Omaha today. 


On Broom creek south of Rawhide buttes I was 
following the trail of a blacktail deer one morning 
before breakfast. I saw from my saddle a rattle- 
snake lying along the trail. Midway its length was 
a lump as large as a baseball. I shot the snake in 
two and with a forked stick pushed out a fully 
g^own meadow lark. Its feathers were almost dry 
and the snake had swallowed the bird not more 
than half an hour before my coming. 

46 How Antelope Kill Snakes 


Wherever antelope range there are rattlesnakes. 
I have often seen a dozen or so antelope out on the 
open range cavorting around. They do not take to 
the brush or timber like members of the deer family 
remaining entirely in the open relying upon their 
fleetness and cunning to keep them out of harm's 
way. They bound over gullies twenty feet in width, 
but a wire fence eighteen or twenty inches high 
used to stop them as they do not jump up into the 
air like other quadrupeds. 

One day north of Fort Laramie several miles I 
saw a band of sixteen antelope a mile oflf on the 
plains. They appeared to be bounding upward and 
altogether acting queerly. Riding over to where 
their antics had been carried on I found five dead 
rattlesnakes, all cut to pieces. The antelope had 
killed the snakes by bounding upward like a buck- 
ing horse, bringing their sharp hoofs together and 
so landing on the snakes, which was probably play 
to the antelope but death to the snakes. 


No book bearing on the early history of the west 
within the last fifty years is complete without men- 
tion of the name of "Ji"^" Bridger. No man in the 
west was better able to judge this rough old moun- 
taineer than General G. M. Dodge who, during the 
war of the rebellion, won his spurs and became a 
major general in the United States army. It was 

Holding up a U. S. Marshal 47 

Jim Bridger who showed General Dodge the easy 
way the Union Pacific could cross the continental 
divide. General Dodge was then the ''pathfinder" 
and the chief engineer of the road until reaching the 
mountains. All the old-timers the general con- 
sulted about this difficult task said : ''Send for old 
Jim Bridger. He can show you the only way." And 
that is the way General Dodge came to know 
Bridger so well and he relied upon his judgment 

General Dodge at the old home of Bridger erected 
a monument to his memory paying for it out of his 
private funds. 

Back in 1864 I met and talked with Bridger at 
old Fort Laramie, Wyoming. 


During the early travel between Cheyenne and 
the Black Hills, M. T. and A. S. Patrick ran a star 
route stage line via Fort Laramie to Rawhide buttes, 
Lance and Indian creeks and Red canyon. No 
sooner had the Indians deserted that road, where 
they had for a season held high carnival, killing 
men and women, stealing horses and mules and 
making it the most dangerous route of travel in the 
west than the road agents organized and a reign of 
terror followed that taxed the vigilance of the own- 
ers of the stage line, the military and all the people 
traveling by that road, beyond their ability to cope 
with. Although detectives and messengers were 
constantly on the road and succeeded in capturing, 

48 Holding up a U. 5. Marshal 

killing and hanging a number of the robbers the 
depredations did not cease for many months. A 
United States marshal located at Cheyenne felt it 
his duty to take notice of the frequent robbing of 
the mails. Armed with a new Colt's revolver, an 
abundance of ammunition and a few threats that he 
would put a stop to these high-handed outrages, he 
took passage on the stage from Cheyenne, arriving 
at Fort Laramie the next day. Being so near the 
scene of action he considered he could transact his 
business at the post and there he remained two or 
three days to thoroughly post himself on the situa- 
tion asking no advice and heeding no suggestions 
from either the officers of the post, managers of the 
stage line who suffered more from the robbing of 
passengers and the treasury carried by them than 
did dozens of freight and emigrant wagons, and 
many men of the country. After remaining two or 
three days at Fort Laramie he took the down stage 
back to Cheyenne having accomplished nothing. 
Three miles out was a small swing station with one 
of the stage company men in charge of a stable built 
of log slabs and any lumber that could be had, a 
corral and a hay yard. Just before the stage reached 
this station the driver called out his usual salute 
to the stock tender. There was no answer and as 
it was before daylight he concluded the stock tender 
was asleep. Just before reaching there one of a gang 
of robbers stopped the coach and ordered the driver 
to "hold that team of Jack Rabbits," (six small gray 
mules) or there would be trouble for him. A second 
robber held a revolver on the marshal and the 
passengers in the coach and after taking the mar- 

Holding up a U. S. Marshal 49 

shal's revolver and overcoat away from him, told 
him to shell out his watch and loose change "d — d 
quick," which the marshal proceeded to do without 
remonstrance. All of this was completed in a brief 
space of time and the driver was ordered to "move 
on and not look back." 

It was quite apparent that a United States mar- 
shal could accomplish no more in the Indian coun- 
try where road agents held full sway, than could any 
other ordinary citizen so unfortunate as to be thrown 
in their way, and this bit of adventure furnished 
much amusement to those called **the men of the 
country." A gentleman now living in Omaha may 
recall this incident and no doubt is convinced that 
robbers do not respect the star of the United States 
marshal any more than they do a stray brand of 
whisky that may be found on the road. 

About this time there were other hold-ups, but the 
sufferers were not boasting that they nould under- 
take to regulate the robbers and put an end to all 
troubles, as did the more sanguine marshal, who 
thought he might quickly end the trouble. 

At Fort Laramie I built for the accomodation of 
travelers to the Black Hills, who could not obtain 
meals and lodgings elsewhere at the post, the Rustic 
hotel. There was a very good cook there by the 
name of Morrison, whose chief fault was liquor. At 
the end of two months he concluded to go to Denver 
and visit his children. The stage for Cheyenne 
came along about dusk. Morrison carried his earn- 
ings in his bootleg. Among other passengers in the 
coach were two women. When the stage arrived at 
Eagles' Nest, (a ranch kept by Johnny Owens) and 

50 Holding up a U. S. Marshal 

pulled in to change horses at this swing station, the 
passengers were met by two robbers who poked re- 
volvers under their noses and ordered them to plank 
down their valuables. In addition to this they 
requested the women to take down their hair in 
which they found a few diamonds that had been 
concealed there. When the stage had changed 
horses, Morrison lay over to take the coach going 
back, he having no money with which to proceed to 
Denver, and at daylight he knocked at the door of 
the Rustic and told his tale of woe. 

When the commanding officer heard of the coach 
adventures as usual he ordered out twenty men to 
search for the robbers. They found a trail of two 
unshod horses that had doubled back north to the 
Platte river. They crossed the Platte and in the vi- 
cinity of the "4 P" ranch kept by one Breckenridge, 
they met a party coming west, two Chinamen travel- 
ing with them. The robbers had held up this party 
and gone north. 



When General Crook had finished his Indian cam- 
paign of 76 and returned to Omaha to announce to 
the people that the Big Horn country was then open 
to safe settlement, and told of the nutritious grasses, 
fine mountain streams and its special adaptability 
to the open range for cattle, he was to enjoy his well 
earned rest and to continue in command of the De- 
partment of the Platte, with headquarters at Omaha. 

There were voluminous copies and reports to be 
made to the War Department of his Indian cam- 
paign. Notwithstanding which, while he could not 
go very far away from his headquarters for any 
length of time, he could not overcome his fondness 
for hunting prairie chicken, quail, snipe, curlew, 
wild geese and ducks, squirrels, coyote and wildcats, 
all of which were to be found in abundance near 
Omaha in their season. 

Among his many journeys to the Platte river (the 
half way station for wild geese, where the geese 
came and waited in great numbers in spring and fall, 
between their southern winter quarters and their 
breeding grounds in the alkali lakes of the northern 
country,) one of our hunts for wild geese was in the 
winter of 1881. A late fall and warm Indian summer 
weather had kept the Platte river open until De- 
cember, then came a cold snap that froze it over as 
tight as a drum head, excepting a few air holes and 

32 Wild Goose Hunting on the Platte River 

narrow, swift channels that always remained open 
the entire winter. The ice buckled up and cracked 
in many places and through these cracks the water 
oozed up and spread over the ice, often covering a 
space of half an acre one to four inches deep. On 
this trip. General Crook, John Petty and myself were 
the party, and we took the Union Pacific train for 
Central City, Nebraska. There a team awaited us 
which carried us down near the river to the old log 
cabin of one Tague, who had come out from Iowa 
wild goose hunting twenty-five years before to settle 
and make a new home in Nebraska. The ages of 
himself and wife were near to three score years each, 
when they settled on this homestead claim. They 
had one son who, at the date of our visit, was about 
thirty years old. When the family settled on this 
farm in the Platte valley, the Indians outnumbered 
the white settlers about ten to one, and as the old 
couple recited to us the great tax of trying to feed 
all the Indians who visited them to beg from their 
meager store — and they gave all they could to keep 
on friendly terms — their voices trembled and their 
eyes watered as they told us of their sufferings. The 
cabin was built of logs, hewed on two sides with an 
axe, the inside and outside alike, no finish, only 
chinked and daubed, mud being used instead of lime 
or plaster. There were three home-made bed frames 
covered with well stuffed feather beds, of feathers 
of wild geese and ducks taken along the river. 
These were partitioned off by calico curtains. A big 
cook stove answered for heating the whole house, — 
as there was but one room, — as well as for cooking. 
The fuel was chiefly corn on the ear and corn cobs. 

Wild Goose Hunting' on the Platte River 53 

Out of their attempt to surround the cabin with a 
timber grove, only a few cottonwood trees were 
scattered about the unfenced house lot, — all that 
were left from the numerous prairie fires. 

The son, who at meal time always answered 
.promptly to the name of "J^^k", had come home 
ostensibly to visit, but as a fact to winter on the old 
people. He told us the occupation he had followed 
several years was that of a "buffalo skinner." A 
white man could fall no farther down the ladder 
than this and Jack gave evidence of having reached 
the bottom rung. He was lazy and talkative, to any 
one who would listen to his uninteresting confab. 

The nearest neighbors of the Tagues were three 
to four miles away. At the time of our visit, things 
had considerably ixnproved with them over their 
condition in former years. 

The next morning after our arrival, we carried on 
our backs, bags of sheet iron duck and goose decoys, 
(for immense flocks of mallard ducks remained by 
the river all winter, and fed with the geese in the 
cornfields of the bluffs on either side, roosting on 
the sand bars) — overcoats, hundreds of loaded cart- 
ridges, besides our guns. We reached the river 
bank a mile away and by picking our way, wading 
open channels and avoiding the air holes, we came 
to a sand bar where droves of geese had made their 
roosting place the night before near some tow heads 
about a mile from shore. 

The weather was moderately cool and hazy, and 
had every appearance of being a good goose day. 
We at once began building blinds of drift wood 
found along the bars, and willow switches, carried 

54 Wild Goose Hunting on the Platte River 

from the island. To find a suitable place for goose 
blinds it is necessary to be on the sand bars at day- 
light, in sight of where geese can be seen on the 
bars. Just as the sun begins to show above the hori- 
zon, a signal "honk" is heard and taken up by the 
geese all along the river. At once their flight to the 
feeding ground begins, and in half an hour not a sin- 
gle goose remains on the river. Now is the time to 
locate and build blinds and begin placing decoys. 
An hour or two later the geese begin to fly back 
from the fields to where they had roosted, and if the 
blinds are properly located and completed, the de- 
coys placed, and everything made snug out of sight, 
now is the time the sport begins in earnest. Our 
blinds were just completed, all the decoys properly 
placed and everything appeared favorable for a fine 
day's sport. We were just fully prepared when 
away off in the east a rumbling rolling sound like 
distant thunder was heard. The General was snug 
in one blind and Petty and I in another not one hun- 
dred yards away. 

"General, I don't like that noise," said Petty. "I 
think a blizzard is coming, and we better gather our 
traps and get off the ice right away." The subject 
of a blizzard was discussed for a moment, when the 
swishing of trees was heard in the east, and the roll- 
ing, rumbling sound came nearer and louder. We 
at once began packing up decoys, ammunition, etc., 
to leave for the shore, and this we did in the quickest 
time possible. The air was full of sand blown from 
the bars. The wind suddenly grew colder and by 
the time everything was gathered and loaded on our 
backs a most terrific blizzard and snow storm striick 

Wild Goose Hunting on the Platte River 55 

us and the air was so dense we could not see beyond 
our noses. We had the direction and started for the 
north shore; it was agreed we all three should stay 
together, for if one became separated, there was 
great danger of his being lost in the storm The 
wind shifted to the north after we had made a start 
and it was almost impossible to make headway 
against it on the ice. The General's hunting hat 
blew off and as he turned round to catch it the wind 
caught his big canvas overcoat and in an instant he 
was skated away from us and out of sight. 

We carried our heads down, braced our shoulders 
up against the wind, and thinking the General was 
just behind us, we kept on. Presently Petty asked 
if the General was coming, and said, "I am going to 
holler for him," and he let go two or three yells 
louder than a Comanche Indian. There was no an- 
swer. He yelled again but no answer came. If we 
stopped and turned around the wind would skate us 
over the ice and out of sight in an instant. There 
was nothing to do but brace ourselves against it and 
go on for the north shore, then unload and go back 
and find the General. Just at the edge of the shore 
there was an open channel of water, in we plunged 
and waded through to the bank. In an instant our 
clothing was frozen stiff, but paying no heed to this 
we stripped ourselves of our load and overcoats and 
started on a run to hunt the General. Before reach- 
ing him the wind lulled, the snow ceased, and when 
the air cleared we could see a small black 
speck coming from behind an island towards the op- 
posite shore, a mile away from us. We made all 
haste over the smooth ice, through the slush ice 

56 Wild Goose Hunting on the Platte River 

on top, and open seams, toward it. I was the first 
to reach the object, which proved to be the General. 
He was so benumbed and so dazed he did not know 
us. I took his load and his gun and tried to get his 
great canvas coat off to enable him to walk more 
easily, but it could not be unbuttoned. When he had 
turned to catch his hat and left us, the wind had car- 
ried it into open water nearly six inches deep and as 
the wind caught and carried him over the smooth 
ice into the water he picked his hat up half full of 
water and put it on his head. The water ran down 
and froze on his whiskers and coat collar and the 
front of his coat to his knees in an instant. Petty 
soon met us. The General could not speak. In half 
an hour had he been alone he would have fallen on 
the ice from sheer exhaustion and frozen to death. 
We managed to reach the north shore, when we dis- 
covered that his nose, face and ears were white and 

Petty on one side and I on the other, with slush ice 
and snow we rubbed the frost out, and as the color 
came back to his face he began to realize his situa- 
tion and also recognized both of us. "General," said 
Petty, "our goose shoot is busted for today, — let's 
go up to the log cabin." "All right," said the Gen- 
eral, and with one of us on each side to assist him, 
both loaded to the guards with all of our hunting 
paraphernalia strapped about us, we started on a 
long and tedious walk through the tangled grass 
that in almost every rod of travel one of us would 
fall headlong. "This sporting life is h — 11," said 
Petty. It was near an hour before we reached the 

Wild Goose Hunting on the Platte River 57 

log cabin, and the results of following incident 
guided me in what to do. 

At one time when I sold goods in Silver Bow, 
Montana, a man was brought to my store in the 
middle of a clear moonlight night on a horse led by 
another man. It was in the dead of winter with 
the mercury thirty degrees below zero. When I 
went to the door the man who led the horse 
said, "This man followed the stampede to Kootney 
river mines and turned back with me. We have 
waded streams and rivers, too swift to freeze, and 
we almost perished. He is badly frozen but told 
me, when we turned back, to lead him to John 
Collins' store at Silver Bow." We took him into my 
store, built of logs, that was only chinked and not 
daubed, and took off his wraps. His legs were 
frozen solid to his knees, his arms frozen to his 
elbows, and face and ears frozen ; he was dazed and 
almost unconscious. We cut his boots open to get 
them off, ripped up his coat sleeves, put his feet in 
a tub of cold water, rubbed his hands, arms and 
face with snow until the frost was out; then I 
applied coal oil out of a lamp (at that time coal oil 
was scarce and selling at $5.00 per gallon), cut open 
a bed comfort, picked the cotton out and spent the 
balance of the night in caring for him. We were 
successful in restoring him to life. When the morn- 
ing came I was curious to know who in that far 
away country had admonished his friend that if he 
lived to reach Silver Bow he must be turned over to 
me, as the one and only man he thought would take 
care of him, and this is the brief story he told: 

58 Wild Goose Hunting on the Platte River 

"Don't you remember when I used to drive Cap- 
tain Smith Harris' carriage in Galena? He was the 
captain of the big side wheel steamer 'Northern 
Belle.' " 

I did remember, and was taught a lesson then and 
there, that on the occasion referred to I had saved 
a man's life with coal oil and cotton, so when we 
had the General back to the Tagues' cabin, I imme- 
diately asked for "coal oil and cotton" and we bound 
his entire face and head in coal oil and cotton. 

It was the third day after that that the General 
made his first appearance out of the house, and was 
able to be driven to the depot. 

This is the incident referred to by Major John G. 
Bourke, in his book, "On the Border with Crook," 
page 430. 

The night we returned to the cabin after the 
above incident, when it was time to go to bed, the 
General and myself were assigned to one of the three 
beds. Mr. and Mrs. Tague occupied the second, and 
Petty the third. "Jack" the "buffalo skinner," 
bunked down on the floor near the warm stove with 
plenty of buffalo robes over him, and soon we were 
all asleep. About five in the morning, the old man 
called to Jack and said, "Get up and build the fire ;" 
there was no answer ; he called again and again, and 
no answer; Jack had evidently forgotten his name. 
"Gol darn you Jack, if you don't get up and build 
that 'er fire, I'll get up and build it myself," said 
the old man. I called to Petty ; he was sound asleep. 
I rolled over and nudged the General, he was wide 
awake, and heard all the conversation, which we 
both enjoyed. 

Wild Goose Hunting on the Platre River 59 

As a hunter of wild game on the Platte river I can 
safely say there is no hunting in the west in which 
the hunter encounters more peril than that of prop- 
erly and systematically hunting wild geese on the 
Platte river, with all things to do that will insure 
success. In the spring birds come in great numbers 
when the Platte is still frozen. This is also the 
time of a rush of waters from the mountains. I have 
been on the ice snugly ensconced in a blind with 
hunting companions and heard the signal, a sound 
like the roar of a cannon, when the increasing flood 
would break through the ice and spout water up ten 
feet in the air, and the increasing torrent almost 
equal to a Johnstown flood, would cover the ice 
with from six inches to a foot of water in a short 
space of time. The open channels would raise 
twelve to twenty inches in less than half an hour. 
Then is the time of danger in getting back to shore. 
A goose hunter will take more desperate chances 
than a hunter of any other game — not even except- 
ing a bear hunter. To their credit be it said goose 
hunters on the Platte were generally equal to the 
emergency and few losses of life have been recorded 
to my knowledge. 

One of our successful hunts on the Platte river 
was when General Crook, John Petty and myself 
made a trip southwest of Papillion, with the Gen- 
eral's big spring wagon, four mules and a two-mule 
army wagon with tents, provisions, help and a cook. 
We arrived on the bank of the Platte soon after 
noon. While the men were putting up the tent and 
getting camp in order for supper we three strolled 
along the shore looking for sandbars that could be 

60 Wild Goose Hunting on the Platte River 

reached by wading, we having no boat with us on 
the trip. The bars were entirely bare of birds as the 
geese were all out in the corn fields feeding. It was 
in March and nearly all the ice had gone out of the 
river. The day was fair and no wind. There were 
a few flocks of "Hutchins," with occasionally a flock 
of "White Fronts" flying up and down the river 
warily, but none came down to our decoys. All we 
expected to accomplish was to find the bars the 
geese would come to roost on when they began 
flying in from the fields later in the day and possibly 
get under the flight coming in. The afternoon was 
spent in prospecting. 

We succeeded in locating a bar where great flocks 
of geese came to roost within a mile of where our 
tent was pitched. When morning came, all of our 
decoys made of sheet iron and painted, and mallard 
decoys, had been carried to the bank opposite the 
bar when the geese came to roost. We had a warm 
breakfast an hour before daylight. The wind was 
in the northeast and at the signal "honk" all the 
geese along the river arose and began their flight to 
the cornfields on the south shore. They were as 
plenty as pigeons in the early days. We got no 
shooting from the morning flight out. Now was the 
time to make all preparations for their return from 
morning feeding. As the day became cloudy the 
flight began earlier than it would had the sun shone. 

All hands gathered the guns, ammunition, decoys, 
overcoats and lunch and waded into the river, pick- 
ing our way through the shallow places. Arriving 
at the roosting ground we dropped our loads and 
began gathering pieces of drift wood from the bars 

Indian Sympathy 61 

and bringing in from the tow heads brush and 
willows with which to build "blinds." This being 
finished the goose and duck decoys were then prop- 
erly placed the flat side towards the south. We had 
scarcely got everything in shape and the hunters in 
their blinds than the flocks began appearing in the 
south. The first was a flock of Canadas, that came 
over Petty's blind and were just ready to alight 
among his decoys when two shots from his ten bore 
Parker dropped five of them right among his decoys. 


General Hatch, the commanding officer of Fort 
Robinson, Nebraska, who was in camp near Ante- 
lope Springs, north of Casper, Wyoming, wired 

''Collins : send for your friend Hayes and join me. 
We have Bat and Indian guides, pack and saddle 
mules, and we are in the heart of a good game 

I sent a telegram to Hayes who started immedi- 
ately for Omaha. W. F. Fitch was going up that 
way in his private car to show his successor, Mr. 
Horace G. Burt, over the road and we joined them 
at Omaha. Mr. Fitch took his car up beyond Cas- 
per, the end of the road. The General had sent an 
ambulance from his camp fifty miles to meet us 
and carry us to a landmark called "Teapot," where 
we arrived about dark. 

The day before had been full of adventures for 
the hunters in camp. Two or three grizzly bears 

62 Indian Sympathy 

had been killed, deer and antelope were abundant 
and occasionally a band of elk was seen. The day 
before our arrival Bat had killed a bear and near a 
springy place on the mountain side had seen the 
fresh footprint of a bear of greater size which inter- 
ested him greatly. The next morning a party of 
six of us, including Bat and the Indians Red Bear 
and Red Sack, packed a mule with our supplies and 
bedding and started over the mountain to be out all 
night and sleep in the open air. I was paired with 
Bat and a lively chase I had keeping up with him 
over the mountains and through the canyons. We 
passed the carcas of the bear he had killed the day 
before from which he had taken the hide only. We 
were on foot the principal part of the day and 
towards dusk we climbed to the top of a steep 
mountain where we could 'view the country for 
miles around to see if we could get a glimpse of the 
big bear out feeding. The wind blew a gale on the 
high mountain and we found a shelter behind a 
bunch of rocks where we waited until dark, but saw 
no sign of a bear. It was rough traveling in the 
dark, back over the rocks and through the timber 
to where our mules were tied, but Bat, as usual, 
went straight to the mules. We then had a three- 
mile ride to the camp where we found the party 
with a camp fire. 

The next morning Red Bear and I decided to 
make a tour north among the rocky ledges on our 
return to the main camp. We soon came to a gorge 
fully two thousand feet deep. At the top was a rim 
of rocks projecting over from under which we 
scared out eagles every few hundred yards. A more 

Indian Sympathy 63 

desolate place or one better adapted for that kind of 
a bird to roost or nest could not be imagined. It 
was about noon when we reached the mouth of the 
gorge where we found our way down to a stream 
and unsaddled for lunch. About three hundred 
yards away two deer jumped from their beds just 
across the creek and stood looking at us while we 
got under cover to approach them. At a hundred 
yards I had a fine shot and killed a magnificent fat 
young buck. The interesting part of this kill was to 
see Red Bear "strip" the deer and prepare it for 
easy carrying behind his saddle, for we had a long 
ride to camp. First he cut the head oflf near the 
shoulder, took out the intestines, and then the liver 
which he ate raw, as is the Indian custom, then he 
skinned the deer, stripping the meat from leg bones 
and ribs, saving the loin and in fact all of the meat 
without an ounce of bone left, wrapped all of it in 
the hide, tied it behind his saddle with two buck- 
skin strings and the whole roll as packed would not 
have weighed to exceed thirty pounds, while the 
deer alive would weigh one hundred. 

After dressing the deer and eating lunch we 
turned south over a low divide and dropped into a 
low narrow valley of ''bad lands." There was no 
w^ater on either side, the valley sloped up to high, 
sharp ridges and the narrow dark lines showed the 
eflfect of rain on the ashy earth. The gullies leading 
to larger ones below were from two or three inches 
to three feet wide, some of them so deep a horse 
could be lost in them. Our horses were kept con- 
stantly jumping to clear them and occasionally as 
their hind feet would clear the opposite bank the 

64 Indian Sympathy 

earth would give way and both hind legs would drop 
in. To go lower down the valley the gullies would 
be wider and deeper ; to go higher up they were more 
numerous and would take us out of our course, so the 
Indian chose a middle trail. The further we rode 
towards camp the more difficult it became and more 
care was necessary in clearing chasms. The Indian 
stopped to adjust his pack while I rode on, placing 
me nearly a hundred yards in the lead. The gullies 
kept our horses constantly on the jump. Coming 
to one about three feet wide I spurred my horse and 
he fell on his side and shoulder with my leg under 
him to the* knee and I had no little difficulty in dis- 
mounting and pulling my horse out of the gulley. 
Red Bear came up and with one look of disgust and 
an angry grunt he "heeled" his horse and urging 
him on, rode away as fast as possible, not knowing, 
and what was more not caring, whether or not my 
leg was broken or whether I could get out of this 
dilemma and reach camp. I was then obliged to 
ride at a slow pace. Finally the Indian was out of 
sight, having never looked back. Had the ground 
been hard the least that would have befallen me 
was a broken arm or leg in either case the Indian 
would have given me no assistance. It was dark 
when we reached camp and all the hunters were in, 
some with a deer or antelope behind their saddle 
and some with no game except an eagle killed on 
their way in. 

Lost Near Camp 65 


On one of our fall hunts to the Salt Creek country, 
Captain Patrick Henry Ray was in charge of the 
government transportation train that carried us 
down to where we first struck the creek and there 
we camped two days. Captain Ray was one of the 
sturdy army officers who was sent into the Arctic 
regions in search of General Greely and party, and 
who found them. Later he came to Omaha and was 
judge advocate on General Crook's staff. Besides 
Captain Ray, the other hunters of the party were 
A. S. Patrick, Webb Hayes and myself with Little 
Bat and another halfbreed Sioux, named Alex Mou- 
seau, as guides. On this trip ten colored troopers 
from Fort Robinson were our assistants. 

Some amusing incidents occurred on this trip. 
From our first camp, not finding game plentiful, we 
moved down below to our old land-mark which we 
had named "Pack Saddle Rock," because of its re- 
semblance to a pack saddle. It stood out clear-cut 
away from the other rocks and could be seen from 
almost any direction for a distance of three or four 
miles. As our camp was usually made in the creek 
bottom among the scattering trees, obscured by 
precipitous sheltering bluffs, the hunters returning 
were always on the lookout for this rock. 

Webb Hayes was somewhat handicapped by be- 
ing a little nearsighted and we insisted on some one 
always accompanying him. Alex Mouseau was his 
companion on this day's hunt. With a liberal sup- 
ply of lunch in their saddle pockets, plenty of ammu- 
nition and their rifles, after announcing their route, 
they started out soon after daylight for deer. 

66 Lost Near Camp 

Hayes, depending wholly on his guide, Alex, 
found himself at dark five miles from camp. After 
being in the saddle all day and the guide not being- 
very communicative, about dusk it became a very 
lonely ride. They, however, kept on a course that 
Hayes was willing to go and as dark came on the 
sage brush appearing to grow thicker and more 
difficult to get through, he gave his horse his head 
to follow his guide. A two hours' ride brought 
them in sight of a moving light, then another light, 
the latter being stationary. Alex could not account 
for these lights on the high flat, when he knew the 
camp was down fifty feet under a cut bank, where 
no light could be seen from higher land. They 
stopped and held a council. Hayes could plainly 
see the superstition of the guide who thought the 
moving light was guided by some spirit agency that 
taxed his courage. 

"We are near camp, but we must keep away from 
those lights ; they are what you call 'spooks,' " said 
Alex, and for fully an hour Hayes was compelled 
to follow the superstitious guide. 

Captain Ray had sent half a dozen soldiers with 
all the wood they could carry on their backs, out 
on the sage brush flat above camp to build a signal 
fire. The night was dark and a lantern was neces- 
sary to guide the party so they could select a promi- 
nent place to build a fire that could be seen by be- 
lated hunters. These were the lights seen by Alex 
that he could not account for. Had it not been that 
the men keeping the fire up had fired three signal 
shots they might have wandered about all night half 
a mile from camp. Hayes understood the signal, 


Hunting Big- Game — Leaving Fort Fetterman. 

iluntiny;- iiig Game — '•Bunched uj) " on the liuad. 

Hunting Big Game — Crossing the Platte. 

Lost Near Camp 67 

took the lead and in twenty minutes they were safe 
in camp. 

It was eleven o'clock when they sat down to 
supper in the cook tent and we were all up and 
waiting for an account of their adventures. Alex 
seemed inclined to shirk all responsibility and lay 
the blame on Hayes for being lost within half a mile 
of camp and as they sat at the table recounting the 
adventures of the day and finished up on the delay 
of coming into camp, Alex said : 

"I was all right; if I had somebody along but a 
tenderfoot who couldn't help any we'd have been 
in two hours ago." 

The next night it was necessary to send men on 
the flat again to build a fire and fire signal shots. 
Nine o'clock had come and Captain Ray had not 
come in. This did not greatly concern the party, he 
being an old campaigner who had served years In 
the army besides having journeyed through Alaska, 
the frozen polar seas and about as near to the north 
pole as any living man had approached it, in search 
of Greely's party. So it was natural that we paid 
little heed to the belated captain, except that it was 
a custom that no hunter would turn into his bed 
until everybody was in camp. Darkness came. Nine, 
ten and eleven o'clock. The fire was burning above 
the bank, three volleys of signal shots had been 
fired and yet no answer. It was concluded the cap- 
tain had followed some game he had wounded and 
when night came had picketed his horse out, lying 
down on the pine needles and had gone to sleep — 
the natural thing for a man lost in the mountains 

68 In the Sand Dunes 

to do. When midnight came the soldiers were 
called in and we all went to bed. 

An hour before daylight Captain Ray came into 
camp, brisk and lively and at once recounted his 
wounding a black tail deer that he had followed 
until dark. He frankly acknowledged that as he 
had no idea where camp was when dark came he 
concluded to unsaddle. He picketed out his horse 
and between the trunks of two trees he made a fire 
and lay down between them — less than three miles 
from camp. 


Twenty-five miles north of Casper, Wyoming, is 
Sand Spring in the heart of the sand hills and the 
"sand dunes." Going towards Salt creek we passed 
a dry alkali lake on the high mesa. After a gradual 
ascent our trail led into a low sag that in a few miles 
opened out into a narrow valley carpeted with wet, 
sour grass, indicating water here and there. By 
digging down a foot or two an abundance of alkali 
water could be had which, in a way, supplied 

We followed up this ravine four or five miles and 
found occasional pools of water — being in the sand 
hills there were no running streams. Just south of 
where we camped we passed over a long grade of 
sand running east and west from one bluflf to an- 
other, a distance of over three hundred yards. It was 
as regular in width and as level on top as a railroad 
grade and from twelve to twenty feet high, complete- 

In the Sand Dunes 69 

ly damming the stream. Above it a lake had formed 
of several acres. On its west banks were the sand 
dunes, two to three hundred feet high, bearing not 
a sprig of vegetation and the prevailing winds being 
from the northwest, this loose sand had been blown 
across the valley and formed this monumental freak 
of the elements. There was no other water nearer 
than the Platte river on the south, or Salt creek on 
the west, about equal distances, fully twenty-five 
miles away. The hills around were a great range 
for antelope and morning, noon and night great 
bands were seen on the sand bluffs on all sides of 
the lake, within three hundred yards to one-half 
mile waiting to come to water and evidently wonder- 
ing who was encroaching on their rights to drink at 
this lake. 

On our first trip to the Salt Creek country, Gen- 
eral Crook and myself started ahead of the hunting 
outfit and traveled to the north. Having missed 
the trail, that at a point half way turned sharp west, 
after traveling twelve to fifteen miles following a 
game trail, we lost our bearings. The General said : 

"We had better turn back, follow up this draw, 
find the trail of the party and follow it directly to 

We were following a grassy draw five or six miles 
long and were in the brakes out of the sand hills 
going north, so we immediately turned about. On 
the way out we rode in the bottom of the draw fol- 
lowing a game trail and were at all times in the 
midst of antelope, but as our return to the railroad 
would lead us back to the Springs when our hunt 
was finished, we deferred killing these. The coun- 

70 A Waierhaul in the Wind River Range 

try was rough, broken and the only sign of civiliza- 
tion was the trail of a round-up wagon. Antelope 
were in bands of a hundred or more and black tail 
deer were on all sides of us. At most we could only 
pack one animal behind each saddle and, not know- 
ing how far we must travel, we paid no attention to 
either deer or antelope. Following this draw some six 
miles on the back track at every turn two, three or 
five deer would jump up ten to twenty yards away 
and we counted seventy-two in six miles of travel. 
Finding the trail of our outfit we followed it six 
hours before reaching camp. On the day's ride we 
were forty-five miles in the saddle, arriving after 
dark. The tents were up, a roaring campfire of logs 
made just under a cut bank thirty feet high, above 
the creek bed and a good supper awaited us. 


One November General George Crook, General T. 
H. Stanton, A. E. Touzalin, Webb Hayes and my- 
self made a trip from Rawlins of nearly two hundred 
miles north of the Union Pacific railroad, in an am- 
bulance sent down from Fort Washakie. On our 
arrival there we procured a camp outfit and went 
over to the Wind river, following it up, crossing 
Bull Lake fork, then up the North fork and over on 
the East fork. This carried us into the lofty moun- 
tains south of Jackson Hole. We traveled as far 
as our wagon loaded with grain could go, then left 
it on a high ridge in snow a foot deep, in plain sight 
for full fifty miles on all sides, and with pack and 
saddle mules we pushed on towards the timbered 

A Waterhaul in the Wind River Range 71 

mountains, and went into camp in a basin sur- 
rounded by low, sharp foothills, streaked with 
crooked black lines which we discovered were riv- 
ulets of water from springs and melting snow. The 
weather was intensely cold, sun dogs were visible 
every day in the east and south and the snow was 
eighteen inches deep. There appeared to be no 
other water for miles around, and having no guide 
and with some misgivings, we worked our way to 
the center of these black lines and camped on a 
small running stream. Here we spent five days and 
hunted in all directions as far as we could ride 
through the rough country and return to camp each 

Returning to camp on the fifth day, a storm of 
soft wet snow came up and the old snow began to 
melt. I was alone and as I came through an open- 
ing in a patch of willows there were signs of an 
abandoned Indian camp. Willows were bent over 
and their tops tied together with bark. The bark 
was eaten off from other willows by porcupines and 
by Indian ponies. Piles of small horns and bones 
lay around. I found my saddle horse was walking 
on a soft substance that on investigation, proved to 
be hair from deer, elk and antelope. A party of over 
three hundred Indians, consisting of Chief Red 
Cloud and his band of Ogalallas, had been on a visit 
to Chief Washakie and the Shoshone Indians a 
month before and on their return to Red Cloud 
agency had camped here two weeks and killed about 
all the game in the vicinity. To reduce the weight 
of their packs they had camped on this spot and 
sweated the hair off all the skins. For a space of 

72 A Waterhaul in the Wind River Range 

fifty feet square the hair covered the ground six or 
eight inches deep. As we later learned, their kill 
had been seven hundred antelope, three hundred 
deer and nearly all the elk within twenty miles of 
their camp and they packed the skins away on their 
ponies to Red Cloud agency. 

We had not seen a thing of life, bird or 
animal. I should have excepted the very small 
white snow rabbit called "Conie," smaller than 
a guinea pig, snow white except a chestnut color on 
each side of the neck which we found away up on 
the smooth rolling mountains of snow where there 
was no sign of timber or brush. Away beyond them 
were the timbered mountains of the Wind River 

Webb Hayes and Mr. Touzalin brought out a 
bear trap and packed it over to a bunch of thick 
pines where one of the hunters told of seeing signs 
of a small bear. After setting the trap in a favorable 
place and putting a log twelve feet long through 
the six-inch chain ring to prevent its being carried 
away by any kind of game that might be caught, 
both started back for camp. They separated and 
Mr. Hayes followed along the edge of the timber 
and the two hunters were soon lost to each other. 
Although Mr. Hayes was somewhat handicapped by 
the effect of the snow on his eyes he caught sight of 
a small black object moving aimlessly among the 
big trees and, dismounting, he waded through the 
deep snow, dodging around and behind the trees 
until near enough to make the discovery that the 
object was a small black bear cub which he killed 
and brought in behind his saddle. On account of its 

A Waterhaul in the Wind River Range 73 

size it seemed rather an insignificant specimen of a 
bear and furnished no end to the amusement it gave 
General Crook and the continual chaffing he gave 
Mr. Hayes. This incident whetted the interest in 
the trap the next morning. 

On the fourth day in camp General Stanton, Mr. 
Touzalin and I made an early start to prospect the 
valley leading west. . In an hour a fall of damp 
snow set in, the flakes being nearly as large as a 
hen's e^gg. We were well protected by rubber coats 
and leggins and continued on for seven miles when 
we got off our mules under a fir tree one hundred 
and fifty feet high. Under the shelter of the sloping 
limbs we built a fire and ate our lunch, then started 
for camp, our journey having been uneventful, and 
no game was seen. The great flakes of wet snow 
continued to fall and melt, and we found great diffi- 
culty in traveling, for the feet of our horses, besides 
balling up at every step, found gumbo mud and 
their feet would continually ball with the snow and 
mud making it hard traveling. We were four hours 
on the journey of seven miles to camp where we 
found General Crook and others of the party had al- 
ready arrived. The colored soldiers had spent the 
day in snaking in from the mountain side stumps 
and butts of pine trees and had a pile as large as a 
freight car. Our arrival was a signal for starting 
the fire. In an hour it blazed up fifty feet in the 
air and seemed to light up the whole country for 
miles around. After supper we decided to move 
out of the country the next morning, for we dis- 
covered that while the ground appeared solid when 
we made camp on the frozen snow, when it thawed 

74 A Waterhaul in the Wind River Range 

we were in a bog of bad lands, and in one more day 
of wet weather it would have been next to im- 
possible to get out at all. So we broke camp early 
and after an hour's travel came in sight of our grain 
wagon five miles ahead standing out on the great 
white sheet of snow a picture of abandonment. For 
three days we traveled towards the post and made 
out last camp at Bull Lake fork, where in a swift 
torrent of open water, we caught trout weighing two 
to three pounds each. This is a most picturesque 
spot of waterfall and boulders. 

The next day by noon we were at Fort Washakie 
having been eleven days out without killing a head 
of game except a cub bear and one bear trapped. 
The disappointment of this journey only whetted 
our appetites for another trip before the snow went 
off and the following March we went south and east 
of Rock creek in the Sierra Madre mountains lying 
west of North Park, Colorado, ^nd camped on Sheep 
creek at the foot of the mountains the second day 
out. This was counted the very roughest and most 
difficult of all our mountain trips. We struck 
straight east across the country, rough, rolling 
plains covered with sage brush, cut up with wide 
coolies and ravines, the banks so steep we had to 
*'lariat" down and "double" up the opposite side. 
We found snow at the foot of the mountains and 
an abundance of dead pine trees for fuel, but no 
water and the animals ate snow and pawed it away 
to reach the grass. There were no foothills or 
canyons to cross for the plains gradually sloped up 
to benches and rocky gorges with no timber. Along 
the foothills the deep ravines running away to the 

Antelope Hunting 75 

valley were filled with snow ten to forty feet deep. 
These we crossed early in the day for we could ride 
over the frozen crust, but when the sun came out 
rivulets of water ran under the snow. Our saddle 
animals would plunge into the snow and where they 
would sink they would go belly deep in water and 
slush, the rider dismount and the animal would 
wallow up with his mount dragging after him hold- 
ing on to either the bridle reins or the animal's tail. 
On this trip Major Lord killed five mountain sheep 
one morning and although only two miles from 
camp it took the packers an entire day to pack them 
into camp. General Crook devoted his time with 
Chief Packer Moore to finding evidence of a bear 
being out of his hole, but found no sign. In fact the 
country they hunted over was barren of game and 
the snow very deep. Charles Grosholz of Phila- 
delphia, a relative of (the then Captain) John V. 
Furay (since retired as colonel), depot quartermaster 
at Omaha, was one of our guests and it fell to me 
to see that he was in camp every night. The only 
mountain climbing he had ever done was on a rail- 
road train. My saddle mule was named *7""^P" 
and his "J^"^/' o^^ ^^ account of the uncertainty 
of his gait, and the other we could only conclude 
was because of her amiable disposition, which all 
"Janes" are supposed to have. 


In the sand dunes north of Casper Lieutenant 
(now Colonel) Mathias of the Fifth cavalry, sta- 
tioned at Fort Robinson, was in charge of the gov- 

76 Antelope Hunting 

ernment transportation that took our party over on 
"Salt Creek and the Dry Cheyenne," one of our fa- 
vorite hunting grounds for black tail deer, antelope 
and bear; we camped at Sand Lake the first night 
out from Casper, about 4:30 p. m. in the month of 
November. This was about the time of day the an- 
telope came to water at the lake, there being no 
other water nearer than the Platte river, twenty-five 
miles away. No attention was given the antelope 
for we expected to make camp at the same lake on 
our return, and in a short time *'top out" our load of 
elk, deer and bear, with all our teams could haul 
back to the railroad, with antelope. The next 
morning we made an early start for Salt Creek 
and when well on our way it began snowing. Along 
the trail there was no place to camp where we could 
find water or grass, and we plodded over the divide 
between the Platte and gait Creek through the snow 
and sand and reached Salt Creek in time to put up 
our tents and finish supper before dark. The next 
morning there was good "tracking snow" in the 
valley, and aside from the fact that a dry summer 
had left the uncertain stream with little or no water, 
except in holes and cow tracks and the water was 
strong with alkali and about the color of coffee, by 
digging wells we found plenty of the same kind of 
water, of sweetish taste, the party as well as the ani- 
mals drinking so freely that both men and animals 
were completely upset. The next morning we con- 
cluded to change camp and go over to the "Dry 
Cheyenne," for there was danger of our being 
snowed in where we were, and this was a fortunate 
move, for the trail we came in on was deep in snow 

Antelope Huuteis — "Anielupe Very Cuniun 

Antelope Hunting 77 

on the divide. The General had consulted Bat 
who said, "we can pull up the gulch, climb a long 
sage brush hill, and if the snow is not over a foot 
deep on the divide, we can make camp by sundown." 
We made the drive and reached the spring in due 
time and this was to be our permanent camp. Be- 
sides Bat we had three Indian guides, "Red Bear," 
"Red Sack" and "Short Bull." From this camp we 
hunted a week and killed three bear, three mountain 
sheep, the last of the race on this range, also one 
bull elk, and he was also the last of his kind in the 
vicinity, and a wagonload of black tail deer. 

On our return to the "Fetterman Switch," where 
we embarked from, we again camped at Sand 
Springs about noon. There were bands of antelope 
scattered about coming in to water and watching 
our tents, teams and animals. While at lunch 
Lieutenant Day said to Bat, "How near can you 
approach one of the bands with two or three of us 
along?" "Well, if we take a little time we can get 
near enough to kill all we want with revolvers," 
said Bat. After lunch while our mules were be- 
ing saddled. Bat looked over the situation and 
we were soon off to try the experiment. Bat led 
the way and we followed along down the valley for 
three miles, then turned west and came north 
against the wind, alarming one or two small bands 
to which we paid no attention for Bat had selected 
a band of about a hundred. We stopped and held a 
council. "They are just over that second ridge, let 
them feed over to the low ground then we will gal- 
lop to the ridge and 'you fellers' stay back while I 
take a look," was Bat's suggestion. Reaching the 

78 Antelope Hunting 

ridge we dismounted and Bat crawled and looked 
over the ground; presently he returned and said, 
"We will wait here a few minutes. They will feed 
over the next ridge and into a draw that runs to 
camp. When we get to the draw we must all come 
up in a bunch, lean over our horses' necks and cross 
twenty feet in plain sight. If their heads are 
down feeding they won't notice us and we can ride 
to the next ridge and get within fifty feet of the 

His directions were followed. We crossed the 
draw without being seen and when we dismounted 
Bat took another look, then dropped back to us 
and said : "Tie your horses to the sage brush and we 
get in fifty feet of the band." All abreast we walked 
carefully to the top and found we were less than 
fifty feet from where the antelope were feeding; 
the band was bunched up like sheep and we 
began firing. Before they got out of shooting 
distance Day had brought down three (Day was 
the crack rifle shot of his regiment), Bat killed 
five, myself and my companion four, and in less 
than five minutes the party had twelve dead ante- 
lope in sight. Each hunter dressed his own kill, all 
except Day having had considerable experience in 
this. In half an hour Bat had dressed his five, 
dragged them up in a pile and from an adjoining 
ridge in sight of camp he signalled for pack mules 
to come out and take the surplus game to camp 
that we could not carry behind our saddles. Day 
was a little loath to acknowledge that he was not 
thoroughly "up" in the art of dressing game, but he 
cut a hole in the side of a small buck, then cut down 

How to Pack a Bear Trap 79 

to the brisket, took out the entrals, then lifted it 
onto his shoulder, in his effort to hang it on the 
saddle horn before rolling it behind his saddle. He 
missed the horn and it fell back over his head, com- 
pletely encasing his hat, head and shoulders in the 
bleeding carcass. One having no experience in load- 
ing a freshly killed deer or antelope on a pack saddle 
cannot imagine the difficulty in handling it, and our 
hunters only deplored Day's misfortunes without 


Preparing for one of our hunting trips up to the 
Wind River mountains. Webb Hayes shipped to 
Omaha a fifty-pound bear trap. At Speigle Grove, 
his home (the fromer home of Ex-President Hayes 
near Fremont, Ohio,) the Hayes farm grew the very 
finest of side pears. Webb put the bear trap in a 
barrel, loose, then filled the barrel with pears — also 
loose. When it reached me at Omaha, the pears 
and bear trap were thoroughly mixed and the ex- 
press agent threatened to throw it in the river un- 
less it was taken from the office at once. The pears, 
of course, did not prove to be in a choice condition, 
but after putting the trap under the garden hose 
for a day, it came out in fair condition and on this 
particular hunt proved an interesting addition to 
our sport. 

A fifty-pound bear trap has a stout chain attached 
at the end of a six-inch, heavy iron ring to slip over 

80 Mow to Pack a Bear Trap 

an eight or ten-foot log to prevent its being carried 
away when a "varmint" was caught. 

From our camp out on the east fork of the north 
fork of Wind river (today this may seem easy sail- 
ing) Mr. Tonzalin, Webb and the Indian, Red Sack, 
carried the trap on saddle over the mountain to a 
low, grassy ravine some five miles from camp. They 
also dragged along in a bag a lot of highly seasoned 
entrails of game. The bait was hung on the limb of 
a pine tree five feet high from the ground and limbs 
of trees piled on each side, so a bear to get to the 
bait, must go in at the open end and climb up the 
tree. Here the trap was placed at the foot of the 
tree. For a day or two the hunters were so busy 
hunting over the high snow-capped mountains in 
search of game no attention was paid to the trap. 
General Stanton remarked one evening in camp : 

"If somebody don't look out for that bear trap, 
something will carry it away." 

The next morning Mr. Tonzalin, Webb and the 
Indians hiked away for the trap, but no trap was to 
be found where it was left. Following the rough 
trail they found it in a grove of fir trees, the ten-foot 
log still fastened in the ring and a fine, young black 
bear caught in it by one forefoot. 

It was impossible for the bear to have dragged 
the trap out of the thick grove of trees where it was 
first placed, so there is no doubt the animal had 
picked up the log and carried it with the other front 
leg to where it was found some fifty feet away, was 
Tom Moore's opinion. 

Out on the Teapot Bad Lands 81 


This hunt for big game was up near the "Tea- 
pot," and the mules, wagons, buck-board and riding 
horses were put in a freight car at the ranch of A. S. 
Patrick at Patrick Siding, six miles northwest of 
Fremont, Neb., on the Chicago & Northwestern 
railroad, and shipped out to Fetterman yards, west 
of Douglas, Wyo. Two days later our party, A. S. 
Patrick, Robt. E. Patrick, John Patrick, Henry Ro- 
man, Little Bat, Race Newcomb, Mr. Rainey, and 
myself started out. There was a young fellow out 
on my ranch on the Labonte creek, who knew 
the country we were going into, and I suggested 
we take him along also, as that would give us three 
guides. Percy Pollard was the youngster, and I 
was quite sure he would hold his end up with any 
man in the crowd, and if he didn't throw the lazy, 
trifling cook out of camp and "fit himself in," he 
would make himself useful to every hunter in the 
party. He said he would go along and "wrangle" 
the horses. 

When our wagons, horses, tents and supplies 
were unloaded at the Fetterman yards, above Doug- 
las, we pulled out for "Teapot," making first camp 
at Sand springs. The next was near the head of 
Salt creek, and after putting up our tents and tying 
our horses for the night, it began snowing. When 
morning came nearly a foot of snow covered the 
ground. Al Patrick, with Little Bat, Homan and 
Percy, saddled up and were off for a pine ridge on 
the south soon after daylight, the rest of the party 
going in other directions, as their fancy dictated. 

82 Out on the Teapot Bad Lands 

By the time we were all starting, we heard a "Yep, 
yep, yep," from Percy, and through the flying snow, 
riding a mule with some objects at the end of his 
lariat, he came, bounding and gliding over the snow 
and sage brush, and this prompted us to halt and 
wait until he came up. The mule was on a stiff- 
legged lope, and Percy made a swing half round the 
tent, in cowboy fashion — and in the most artistic 
fashion — to "unload" in front of us. Less than half 
a mile from camp, Patrick and Bat had killed a fine 
black tail buck and a doe. After discussing how 
they could get the game back to camp without re- 
turning themselves and losing time, Percy re- 
marked, "You fellows go on, I'll get 'em into camp." 
His mule never had been packed, and no one in the 
party wanted to ride him, even with only the saddle 
on. Percy dressed the two deer, passed his rope 
over the heads of them, the other end around his 
saddle horn. 

"Now," he said, "give me a push," and away he 
sailed over the snow on a gallop, dragging the deer 
after him. 

This tallied one good turn to the cowboy's credit. 
Every day he scored, and became a general favorite, 
for he had gumption and knew how to do things. 

Another conspicuous event was on our last day 
before leaving for the railroad. The entire party, 
with Little Bat in the lead, started out together to 
finish our hunt, so if more game was killed than we 
could pack behind our saddles, it would not make it 
necessary for an extra trip to bring it in. We 
traveled all in a bunch, while Percy rode his cow 
pony and led the mule with a saw buck pack saddle 

Out on the Teapot Bad Lands 83 

strapped along to pack game on, but we had learned 
by this time that the cowboy had ways of his own 
of getting out of a dilemma, so chaffing was 
done rather gingerly. Percy said, "This mule has 
got to earn, his grain, and if we kill game enough 
Mr. Mule must do his share of the packing — we 
didn't bring him along just to look at the scenery." 
We had been on the way an hour, when suddenly 
Bat halted and leaned his head down on the horse's 
neck, swinging around to the left. Without any in- 
structions we followed his tactics. Just over th<* 
crest of the hill, in among the rocks, scarcely one 
hundred yards away, he had discovered seven deer. 
The wind whistling through the trees made so 
much noise the game knew nothing of our presence. 
We all dismounted, tying our horses to sage brush, 
and leaving Percy with the mule, we crawled on 
hands and knees, following Bat, until he signaled 
us to raise up and fire. Five deer went down at the 
first fire, and before the other two had run fifty yards 
they fell also, scarcely a minute passed in killing 
the seven deer. In preparing them for packing to 
camp, the heads and legs were taken off and the 
bodies dressed to lighten the loads. Bat loaded the 
largest buck behind his saddle, and Homan took the 
next, leaving five yet to be packed. The other 
saddle horses would not carry, and it was supposed 
Percy's mule was out of business for this work, and 
after all kinds of suggestions by every one of the 
party except himself, the young fellow butted in: 
"This cussed mule has got to carry all five. 
We didn't bring him along to show him the coun- 
try, and if one of you fellows will stay with me to 

84 Out on the Teapot Bad Lands 

help me load and give the mule a push, I'll get them 
to camp all right." That speech silenced every man 
in the party. "If the old shave tail will carry two," 
said Patrick, "we will snake over the other three, 
for our horses won't carry." We were standing in 
six inches of snow. Percy asked Homan to hand 
him his rope. He tied the front and hind legs of 
each deer at the knees; he pushed the mule along 
side a high bank, pulled his .legs from under him 
and threw him to the ground. One deer was put on 
each side of the pack saddle with its back down. 
When made fast, we lifted two and tied them on 
crossways; the fifth deer was laid in the middle, 
and when all were securely lashed, Percy said : "I 
want two strong men here." 

Five of us took hold and lifted the mule to his 
feet ; he staggered about a minute, tried to kick and 
shake off his load; finding this entirely useless, he 
suddenly started away, and so well did the mule 
behave under this big load, — so securely were the 
five deer packed, — but a single stop was made on 
the road to camp to tighten up. So Percy with his 
mule packed with the five deer arrived at camp 
with the rest of us. 

The load was unlashed, the pack saddle taken off, 
and the mule turned loose. He grunted two or 
three times, lay down and rolled over, and was soon 
as docile as a kitten. During all these proceedings 
Bat had made no remark, but as he turned to go to 
the tent he said, — "That boy Percy is a good one, — 
he is no 'sooner.' " 

The next morning we pulled out for Fetterman. 
To prevent waiting at these yards, where there was 

Incidents 85 

only a switch and loading pens for cattle trains, it 
was necessary to inform Mr. C. C. Hughes, that 
princely good fellow, the superintendent of the 
Northwestern Railroad, that he could send his spe- 
cial car and a freight car to load our deer and camp 
equipments for home, and to provide hay and grain 
for the stock on our arrival at the Fetterman yards. 
Again the young cowboy came to the front. Percy 
said, "It's sixty-two miles to Glen Rock ; I can ride 
there tomorrow and have hay and grain at the Fet- 
terman yards the day before you reach there." 

We arrived the next day at three o'clock, and 
found the young fellow waiting with the forage pro- 
vided, having made two or three trips back and 
forth from Fetterman to Glen Rock after his sixty- 
two mile ride the first day. 

The conspicuous references to Percy, — if the 
reader has followed them carefully — will show he 
was capable of making good in other ways than 
wrangling horses for a hunting party. 


The many incidents of these royal hunts are often 
of more real interest than any that are much longer 
reaching a climax. 

Our Indian guide, "Short Bull," who was a hun- 
dred yards ahead of Henry Homan and myself, 
stopped suddenly, and beckoned us to come to him. 
There was good tracking snow on the ground, and 
he pointed to a trail of several deer that had crossed 
the valley during the night, not half a mile from 

86 Incidents 

our camp, going towards a bunch of bad land hills 
to the north. Holding up his hands he indicated 
seven in all, and by holding both open hands over 
his head, it indicated two were bucks with big 
horns; closing one hand tight and jerking it towards 
the ground indicated that we would dismount, and 
pointing his fingers away from his eyes and sweep- 
ing over the country ahead meant that we were to 
remain there until he looked around. 

In five minutes he returned and motioned us to 
get on our horses and follow, for the deer were 
traveling fast. Following the trail, he led us over 
a ridge of bad lands, where the descent was very 
steep and the earth as soft as ashes. Down we 
plunged, my horse planting his four feet firmly in 
the soft earth, and stiflf-legged, slid part of the way 
down, then stumbled, and I went headlong over his 
head, landing squarely on my back, ten feet ahead of 
him — leaving a few tender spots on my shoulder. 
I again mounted and followed on. We were soon 
out of the bad lands and going up a grassy ravine, 
with low hills on each side. 

Between Indians and wild game, I am forced to 
the belief that a great sympathy exists. Suddenly, 
Short Bull stopped, dismounted, threw the reins 
over the pony's head and dropped them on the 
ground. (This is ''tying your horses to the 
ground"). Three or four draws led out of the valley, 
and the Indian was as keen to investigate each scent 
as a pointer dog would be on a covey of quail. 
Looking back, he nodded to us that the game was 
very near. From the trail the}^ had begun feeding, 


'Fussin' " About Camp. 

Incidents 87 

and were as likely to be in one draw as another, so 
we got off our horses and dropped the reins. 

The peculiar antics of Mr. Short Bull were inter- 
esting. Leaving the trail he would crawl to the top 
of one ridge, then back and over the next. Peering 
over a ridge at the head of a draw not forty feet 
from where we stood, he suddenly dropped flat on 
the ground and backed out and joined us. By signs 
he made us understand that the seven deer were 
right "over there" — the two big bucks nearest to us, 
and all with their heads down feeding. Now Ro- 
man was alive and so fidgety he trembled life a leaf. 
He raised his head, put his rifle to his shoulder, 
which the guide and myself also did, and in an in- 
stant three shots rang out. The two bucks and a 
small doe fell in their tracks. But Short Bull was 
not satisfied; mounting his pony, he galloped up 
the ravine, while the four deer ran to his left. 

By the time the guide returned, we had the three 
deer dressed and all tied behind our saddles. The 
remaining four did not go but four or five hundred 
yards away. The older animals will not go far 
away from the younger ones (a mother instinct.) At 
times they will come back to the spot, and a hunter 
knowing this frequently kills a fawn on purpose to 
bring the mother back within shot. 

By the skillful maneuvering of Short Bull we 
again came on to the four deer, and our three shots 
brought down three more of the band — only one 
escaping out of seven. The only credit due to Ro- 
man and myself was that we hit our game, not 
because of any superior knowledge of the habits of 
deer, or our own great skill in coming onto them. 

88 Incidents 

If you want any lessons as to killing large game, 
find such a hunter as "Little Bat," or look up a 
Sioux Indian who knows its habits. The chief thing 
to learn is how to trail a wounded animal over any 
kind of ground. 



When I managed the banking house of Nowlan 
& Weary, at Helena, Montana, being counted an 
expert in judging values of gold dust taken from 
the various gulches, the firm paid me $500.00 per 
month salary in gold. At this time $1.00 in gold 
coin was rated at upwards of $2.50 in United States 
currency. At this rate my salary amounted to 
$1,250.00 per month in United States currency — 
not a bad salary for a young man twenty-four years 
old. In addition to this, the firm presented me with 
a gold quartz nugget worth $125.00 and $75.00 
in cash, the price of steamboat passage from Fort 
Benton to Omaha. The latter luxury I did not 
avail myself of, coming down the Missouri river in 
my own open boat, rowed by hand, twenty-one 
hundred miles. 


Not many years ago, an attorney in San Francisco 
wrote me a letter of which this is the substance: 

"I am directed to send you $200.00, which I will 
do on receipt of a letter from you saying where it 
will reach you. It will be useless to make inquiry; 
the money belongs to you, and on your definite 
reply I will forward it." 

90 Hustling 

I answered the letter promptly and in due course 
of mail received a draft for $200.00. Although it 
came in a draft of a California bank on Chicago and 
was duly honored, no doubt it was sent there to 
conceal the identity of the sender. I took the at- 
torney's advice, accepted the money, and hope it 
relieved the mind of the person causing it to reach 


On my various journeys through the west, before 
the days of railroads west of the Missouri river, I 
crossed the Rocky mountains on foot, on horseback, 
by wagon, and by stage coach, nine times. 


Nick Janice came to Fort Laramie in 1847, and 
engaged in free trapping. Later he was employed 
by one of the fur companies. In the winter of '48- 
'49, he was employed by Captain Stansbury, a gov- 
ernment engineer, who in the spring of 1849 sur- 
veyed the Great Salt Lake and surroundings. Later 
he returned as far as Cheyenne Pass, left the sur- 
veying party, and at once "threw in" with the In- 
dians. In the fall of 1850 he married in Indian 
fashion a Sioux woman, who called herself Red 
Cloud's sister, (John Hunton now at old Fort Lara- 
mie is my authority for the above). Nick at once 


The Squaw Man 91 

began trading and trapping, and accumulated a few 
head of horses. Later he acted as guide and inter- 
preter for the government, and died at or near Pine 
Ridge agency in 1903. His knowledge of the ways 
of the world were limited; he could neither read nor 
write, and coming from near St. Charles, Mo., was 
known as a Missouri Frenchman. His traits of 
character all leaned towards the lazy, idle Indian 

On my arrival at Fort Laramie in 72 Nick was 
preparing to take up a ranch thirty miles from the 
fort at the Big Springs (where now is an extensive 
and well improved ranch owned by Colonel J. H. 
Pratt and the Leiter estate), as soon as the Indian 
agency, then located there, was moved over on 
White river, where the town of Crawford, Nebraska, 
now stands. This occurred a year or two later. At 
this time his family of half-breed boys and girls 
went with him on the ranch. John Reshaw (or 
Richard) in those days a daring, wild and reckless 
character of that country, who floated logs down 
the Platte and built a bridge across the river near 
Fort Fetterman, married Nick's oldest daughter, 
Emily. Reshaw was later killed by Two Bears, an 
Indian, at a camp near Mitchel's bottom on the 
Platte river some forty miles below Fort Laramie, 
and the vengeance that was later wreaked on that 
Indian borders too much on Indian savagery to be 
written in detail here. Suffice it then, that rumor 
was afloat that the wife treasured up this crime, 
and a day came when the slayer of her husband 
was camped only a few miles from her home. Here 
Emily took occasion to visit the camp of this same 

92 The Squaw Man 

Indian. Stories that were afloat in those days gen- 
erally were true, and this was counted one of the 
horrible tragedies of the Platte valley. 

Nick had accumulated a herd of a thousand or 
more cattle and was then quite a prominent cattle 
man. About his ranch there could at all times be 
seen from two to eight lodges of Indians. 

Red Cloud by this time had become quite a 
prominent chief, always disgruntled from that time 
down to the present day, and the most hated Indian 
chief of any tribe. The Indians around the ranch 
were now all Nick's relations for he had married in 
Red Cloud's family and they at all times quartered 
on him, and as he told me, they were a terrible tax 
on his commissary, consuming a "beef" a week, and 
a barrel of sugar and a thousand pounds of flour a 
month. This he pondered over a long time, but saw 
no way of dispensing with these relations and cut- 
ting down expenses. 

When the Black Hills gold excitement broke out 
and Jim Stephenson of Omaha (who, while serving 
as city councilman, was best known as "Modoc 
Jim") put on a stage line from Sidney to the Black 
Hills, then the country became altogether too civil- 
ized, and the Indian families moved back to the 
agency on White river, leaving Nick alone with his 
immediate family, numbering almost a dozen, old 
and young. His ranch was on the main road and 
convenient for a "swing station" where the stage 
made a change of horses daily, no meals being 
served. In those early days no stage was ever run 
very long that did not have "Star Mail Route" and 
it became necessary to establish postoffices and ap- 

The Squaw Man 93 

point postmasters along the Sidney route. Nick's 
ranch was central for a dozen or two ranches five 
to twenty-five miles away, and the cowboys soon 
acquired the habit of riding their cow ponies over 
to get the mail once a week. The only receptacle 
for mail at this office was a wooden box that had 
contained soap. When the stage arrived any one 
who happened to be standing at the door would 
hand in the bag which was opened at once, its con- 
tents were dumped into the wooden soap box and 
and every man in the room would help himself. 
Then the outgoing letters were thrown into a bag 
and handed to the driver and the coach would roll 
away. At the present time this loose way of 
handling Uncle Sam's mail would perhaps not be 
tolerated. I have seen the stage going from 
Cheyenne to Deadwood stop on the broad prairie, 
the driver hand out the mail bag from the front 
boot of the coach to a traveler riding alone in a 
buggy. He would dump the contents of the bag 
out on the ground. If there chanced to be a letter 
addressed to him he would take it out, put the 
letters and papers back in the bag, hand it up to the 
driver and both go on about their business. So 
there was no comparative reason for complaint at 
the way mail was handled at Nick's postoffice. 

When James A. Garfield was nominated for presi- 
dent the National Republican Committee, according 
to custom, sent the usual circulars to all the post- 
masters over the country, asking for financial aid 
to conduct the campaign. Nick was included in the 
list, and he was notified by circular that $100.00 
contributed by him to the fund would be accepted 

94 The Squaw Man 

as his proportion, he being a ''postmaster." This 
was a stunner to him and he at once harnessed his 
team and brought this circular up to Fort Laramie 
for me to read and advise him what he had better 
do in the premises. 

About the same time the postoffice department at 
Washington sent out the usual circulars calling on 
all postmasters to account for the sale of postage 
stamps, also for the box rent of the office. All of 
these coming from Washington about the same 
time Nick got the impression that the United States 
government had a grudge against him, particularly, 
and wanted to break him up in business, as he said. 

On his arrival at the fort the conversation was 
all by him and there was little for me to say. ''Who 
is this man Garfield? I don't know him and I don't 
owe him any money. If he is a poor man and will 
come to my ranch, I will give him a beef and he 
can stay at my house a week, but I don't want his 
d — d postoffice at my ranch any more. Send him 
money for my box rent? Why I bought this box 
full of soap from you, Mr. Collins, and you know I 
paid for it. Send money for stamps? I never had 
any stamps but what I bought from you. I think 
these people in Washington are trying to rob me 
and I won't stand for it." Down at the ranch there 
was a man by the name of Godfrey. Nick said he 
could do "pen writin' " and he was going back to 
throw that postoffice out on the trail and have God- 
frey write Mr. Garfield he didn't want him to send 
any more circulars to his ranch. 

When Nick returned to the ranch, true to his 
word, he put all the letters and papers that were 

The Squaw Man 95 

left over in a canvas sack, tied it with a string, and 
when the stage came along he handed the bag to 
the driver saying, "You can take the postoffice some 
place else, I won't have it at my ranch any longer." 

The civilizing effect of a stage running through 
the Indian country had its educational effects also, 
and there was occasionally talk of schools, teachers, 
etc. Later one Hophoff started a school nine miles 
below Fort Laramie. The settlers employed a 
teacher and it was not long until it was known that 
a school was in full blast down at Hophoff's. He 
being a man of large family, at least two-thirds of 
the pupils were his own children. The teacher, a 
woman, boarded at his home. 

Janice by this time realized that civilization was 
about to encroach upon the wild country, and one 
of his daughters, named Nettie, about sixteen years 
of age, was selected as the proper member of the 
family to go to school. To arrange this properly 
he brought the young girl to my house at the fort 
and asked me to fix her up so she could go to school. 
She was rather neatly dressed and of fairly good 
proportion. Her face was round and full, lips in- 
clined to be thick, complexion more on the order of 
an octoroon than a "half-breed" Indian, which is 
slightly tinged with a copper color; her teeth were 
white and of a shape and regularity to be envied by 
an American belle; black eyes; and hair as black 
and glossy as the color of a raven's wing, hung in 
loose curls over her shoulders. She was very shy, 
having never before been away from her own peo- 
ple, and during the afternoon and the following 
morning that she was at my house, although her 

96 The Squaw Man 

father would talk to her, I did not hear her utter a 
word. That was the Indian of it. I gave Nick a 
letter to Mr. Hophoff and explained that she wanted 
to live with his family and go to school. A week 
passed and I got no report on the new pupil. On 
the tenth day Hophoff came to the fort to report 
the girl missing. She had left his house the after- 
noon before, and nothing had been heard of her 
since, so he came to the fort to ascertain if she had 
come that way. I sent a cowboy on horseback down 
to Janice's ranch thirty miles away to inquire if she 
had reached home and when he returned to the post 
he brought word that the girl was safe at home. 

The next day was Sunday and Nick drove to the 
fort to buy some groceries and the account he gave 
of his daughter was amusing. He said Nettie could 
not talk "United States" and could not understand 
anything that was said to her, and she didn't want 
to go to school anyhow, so she wrapped her clothes 
in a shawl and "hit the trail" for home, wading the 
Platte river at the ford after dark, and arriving home 
about eight o'clock, wet up to her neck. At the 
ford near Nick's ranch the river was over two 
hundred feet wide, and in places was near three feet 
deep, and this is where she waded the river to reach 
her home. 

With Nick's many shortcomings he did not 
neglect his personal appearance. During the many 
years I knew him from 1872, scarcely a month 
passed that I did not see him, and I cannot recall a 
time when he did not wear a black cloth suit, a grey 
felt hat and a white shirt. Among the ranchmen, 
cattlemen, and people traveling through the country, 

Down the Missouri River on a Steamboat 97 

the clothing worn was canvas copper-riveted trous- 
ers, woolen shirts and broad brimmed hats. So 
Nick's black suit always attracted more or less at- 
tention, and stood out conspicuously. Nick having 
married a squaw, he became entitled to draw gov- 
ernment rations, and his children having Indian 
blood, they also were entitled to draw rations, when 
of age. Many of the early white settlers married 
squaws after an Indian fashion, and enjoyed the 
same privileges, and these are known as "squaw 


In 1868, the year after I shipped my mules over- 
land, I made a second trip by stage from Omaha 
to Helena, and returned via Fort Benton on a stern 
wheel steamboat. At Fort Benton the only freight 
coming down was a few beef hides and dressed 
buffalo robes packed in bales of ten each, a bale 
weighing about one hundred pounds. A few hun- 
dred bales were loaded here, but the bulk of the 
cargo was put on further down the river at the va- 
rious Indian trading camps, at Fort Berthold and 
old Fort Peck, and the Indian trading stores. When 
the manifest was complete the clerk of the boat told 
me there were sixty-five thousand buffalo robes on 
board. They were unloaded at Bismarck, Yankton 
and Sioux City. 

Below the mouth of Judith river, our boat com- 
ing down passed an up-bound steamer that had 
snagged and sunk in ten feet of water, about twenty 

98 Down the Missouri River on a Steamboat 

feet from shore. It was in the country of the most 
hostile Indians, and they were incHned to dispute 
the right of any travel, even of a steamboat. In a 
few hours after the boat snagged the Indians 
bobbed up from behind every brush patch and tree 
and rock along the bank. Immediately after sink- 
ing the boat, the crew began preparations for de- 
fence against the Indians. They first hoisted sev- 
eral barrels of coal oil from below deck and got them 
on shore. All the inside cabin berths were stove in, 
the bucket planks taken off the wheel and put on 
the outside of the cabin wall, and the berth mat- 
tresses placed between, to ward off the bullets, for 
the Indians had guns as well as bows and arrows. 
This was completed none too soon ; the barrels con- 
taining coal oil being easily handled were hoisted 
out and rolled on shore over the gang planks. By 
this time no less than five hundred Grosventre In- 
dians had collected on the bank, and believing noth- 
ing but "minnewa-kon" (fire water) or whiskey 
was ever contained in barrels, they were getting 
ready to make a raid on the stuff and have a glo- 
rious time. To make sure of securing the entire lot, 
they had moved their camp down to the river 
bank, and the Indians called out to the officers 
of the boat that they would make a raid on the 
barrels and if they met any opposition they would 
go on board and kill everybody on the boat. 

It was a freight steamer, carrying no passengers, 
and the captain, mate, pilots, cabin boys, "roust- 
abouts," etc., including one chamber-maid (a 
white woman), did not exceed twenty-five all told. 
The boat had hauled in the gang plank, and being 

Down the Missouri River on a Steamboat 99 

fortified as above stated, they had nothing to fear 
against the five hundred Indians on shore. The 
captain had sent a courier on foot some two hun- 
dred miles to Fort Benton to arrange for teams and 
a military escort from Fort Cook to guard the 
teams and come down overland after the cargo, 
which was quite a valuable one, and the captain was 
loath to leave it unprotected, having been in that 
situation already ten days, and no one but the 
chamber-maid (whom we afterward took on board 
our steamer, bound down) caring to desert the un- 
fortunate boat. We tied up along side and visited 
back and forth for two or three hours. The ma- 
rooned crew said they could protect themselves, so 
we cut loose and proceeded on our way down the 
river, leaving the crew on board the sunken steamer 
to their fate. 

I learned later that the cargo was taken off safely 
and delivered by freight teams with a government 
escort at Fort Benton. The officers and crew then 
took passage on a steamer for St. Louis. Much of 
the cargo was only slightly damaged and very little 
was lost. Few people, except the rugged navigators 
of the Missouri in early days, know anything of the 
perils of such a voyage, and such experiences. 

On the sunken boat a night watch was kept. 
Every morning arrows were found on the hurricane 
deck and many were found sticking in the pilot 
house, the Indians no doubt thinking fhe guard 
would always be located there. 

100 The Pack Train 


One of the most picturesque and animated scenes 
witnessed on one of our many mountain hunts was 
the loaded government pack train under Thomas 
Moore, the chief packer and a dozen of his aids, 
coming down the heavily wooded and steep moun- 
tain side of the Sierra Madre mountains on our re- 
turn from Grand Encampment lake. Each animal 
carried from two hundred and fifty to three hundred 
pounds, which included all of our deer, elk and 
antelope. When we reached the mountain top, all 
the mules came to a halt ; the trails down the moun- 
tain side were dim and scattering, being the point 
at which the mules had followed game trails leading 
up on the mountain only a few days before. Each 
mule pricked up its long ears and looked wisely over 
the ground to see what trail it would follow. A 
forest of pine trees and jutting ledges of rocks cov- 
ered the mountain side. Mr. Moore hailed the 
hunters and said: "You hunters pick your way 
ahead of the bell mare and mules, and keep out of 
their way or you will be run over." From our point 
of view, it looked easy for a half dozen mounted 
hunters to keep away from a loaded pack train. 
Moore yelled to the gray bell mare, "Go on, crazy," 
and the caravan started following us. In many 
places the trees grew so close together a naked 
mule could scarcely go between them, a pack some- 
times adding a foot on each side. We heard the 
musical voice of the packers and the slangy 
phrases and cuss words that usually accompany 
their orders to the mules. Every animal picked out 

Wild Buffalo in a Cattle Pen 101 

his own route and started on a lumbering trot. In 
a few minutes they were about to overrun us. A 
pack mule would start between two trees and when 
the narrow space caught his pack on both sides, he 
would back out and look for a wider opening. This 
sometimes delayed the animal, and his eagerness to 
keep in sound of the bell mare would often drive 
him almost wild. Going around the point of a rock, 
if the pack struck the rock on one side, the mule 
would lean over, back out and try it again. This 
he would repeat until he cleared his pack, then go 
on. In the thickest of the forest, where the trees 
stood very close together, the mules became thor- 
oughly tangled, and it required the greatest skill of 
the packers to straighten them out. The shavetails 
whinnied and thrashed around through the under- 
brush as if they were almost mad, and when re- 
leased, would go on a run down the mountain side. 
Apparently their aim was to keep within sound of 
the bell on the bell mare. When this was lost they 
were like a ship at sea without a rudder. For- 
tunately the hunters reached the foot of the moun- 
tain ahead of the mules, and had the opportunity 
of witnessing the skillful way in which each mule 
dodged the trees and the rocks to clear his pack, and 
when the bottom was reached, they all started on a 
stampede to find the bell mare. 


When F. M. Phillips had "cut out " all of his H 
brand of cattle from the main round-up on Fish 
creek, twenty miles above the mouth of the Chug- 

102 "Jane" 

water, and was driving them home to his ranch, he 
discovered a wild buffalo bull in his herd. It was 
not an unusual thing back in the '70's for the cow- 
boys in rounding up cattle to find a stray buffalo 
among the cattle. The only attention paid to this 
was when the owner had "cut out" his brand to 
drive back on his own range, or take them home to 
"cut out the beef" for shipment. With whichever 
herd the stray buffalo happened to follow, it was 
driven along with the cattle, and found its way to 
the branding pen or in with the "beef." Phillips' 
corral was enclosed with logs on three sides, an al- 
most precipitous wall of rock fifty or more feet high 
forming the fourth side of the corral, and it was so 
steep that cattle could not climb out — one would 
imagine that even a mountain sheep could not scale 
the wall. Imagine, then, Mr. PhilHps' surprise in 
looking out of his window one morning to see this 
wild buffalo bull almost to the top of this wall of 
rock, and in a short time it got to the top and 
scampered away over the open plains. 


The many inquiries, "What became of Jane?" the 
buxom Irish woman who came to Thomas Prowse's 
train at Kearney, referred to in the first chapter of 
this book, lead me to believe that the following sen- 
tence was overlooked: "When the train reached 
Virginia City, its destination, it was disbanded, 
every one going his own way." 

A few days after our arrival at Virginia City, I 
met Jane on Wallace street, and in reply to my in- 

Side Lights on a Gold Mining Camp 103 

quiry, — "Have you found a gold mine yet?", she 
said: "Lord bless yon, darlin', I worked a week in 
the Virginia Hotel pnd got $35.00. Then I went to 
washing and I'v got $75.00 in gold dusht in me 
buckskin bag, — 'sure Mike', — and how is it wid ye?" 
Jane "struck it rich" when she invested in a wash- 
board and tub. The last I saw of her, four weeks 
after our arrival at Virginia City, she was working 
like a beaver and had then saved $150.00 in "dusht." 

♦ * * 


Only general reference has been made to the cu- 
rious population of Virginia City, Montana, in the 
year 1864. While "hanging bees," and banishing 
the desperadoes was going on, the moral atmosphere 
of Virginia City was improving each day. Aside 
from this class there were others, for Alder Gulch 
was known to be the richest and most extensive 
placer diggings ever discovered, and it attracted 
people of every calling in life from all over the coun- 
try. Within a year from its discovery it contained 
6,000 people, and its greatest peculiarity was that 
among the number not two dozen women were in 
the town. There were a few heroic wives who had 
borne the hardships of an overland trip, with their 
husbands; aside from these, the remainder, about a 
dozen were adventuresses who gloried in such eu- 
phonious names, as "The Memphis Iron Clad," "The 
Dancing Idiot," "Orum's Pet," "Irish Ann," "Nelly 
the Bilk," "Zulu Twins," "Salt Lake Kate," etc. 
There were also a few of the younger set of that ilk 

104 Side Lights on a Gold Mining Camp 

that were the principal attractions at the dance halls. 
Occasionally a leader of the above named ma- 
jority of women, accompanied by one or two of the 
same set, would take it into her head to fill up to 
the brim on champagne, at $10.00 per bottle, and 
go forth at midnight dressed in her best attire, wear- 
ing diamonds galore to "clean out the dance halls." 
Of course this would always end in a ruction in 
which everybody in the room would take a hand. 
The number of broken heads and black eyes seen 
on the street next day, could be counted in bunches. 
There were too many to single out. Some of the 
upper ten of this class of women had respectable 
balances to their credit in the two banks. I 
was buying gold dust in the bank of Nowlan & 
Weary, and this was one of the first places to get 
the news of the proceedings of the night before. 
Their supply of gold dust gone, diamonds lost, their 
faces swollen, their tempers ruffled, their burdens 
must be told to some. 

Con Orum, a blacksmith from Denver, Colorado, 
and the only professional prize fighter in the town 
at the time referred to, kept a saloon on a principal 
side street. Later came Paddy Ryan and Patsey 
Marley, then Hugh O'Neill, who, as before stated, 
was one of Wells Fargo's men. Each one of these 
celebrities had his friends and backers, and a prize 
fight was arranged between Con Orum and Patsey 
Marley, to come off in an unfinished log enclosure 
with no covering overhead, on the west side of 
Wallace street, below Castner's hotel, some time 
early in January, 1866, with the mercury twenty-five 
degrees below zero. Ninety-seven rounds were 

Side Lights on a Gold Mining Camp 105 

fought to an overflowing house of as rough and 
motley a set of human beings as ever assembled, at 
what is called a "prize ring." 

Omaha's robust late distinguished citizen, Count 
John A. Creighton, was one of the witnesses 
to the affair. There are a few others now living in 
Omaha who were present as well as myself. Amuse- 
ments in those days were bull fights, bull and bear 
fights, dog fights and every kind of a fight that ma- 
terial could be had for. A fight between a Mexican 
bull and a grizzly bear was one of them. I recall 
the time when citizens of that day and in that place 
could stand some pretty hard things, but this occa- 
sion was beyond the limit and not a few citizens, 
who did not care to mix in the motley audience were 
invited by Mr. Creighton to go on the roof of his 
wholesale grocery store, that overlooked the ring 
to witness the affair. 

Paddy Ryan who was a "second" in the prize 
fight, was the same Ryan who led the bread and 
flour riot in Virginia City, when a sack of flour of 
ninety-eight pounds had reached the price of $130.00 
in gold dust. The alloted price being one ounce per 
sack, when flour enough to make a biscuit cost half 
a dollar, the miners would not stand for it. 

Ryan, with an empty flour sack suspended from 
the top of a pole he carried, led a mob into every 
store, cellar, dugout, and residence, followed by 
teams, and made the owners of flour divide. The 
merchants had concealed their flour in every con- 
ceivable place, even under the beds of the miner's 
cabins, in holes in the ground, feeling sure that the 

106 Side Lights on a Cold Mining Camp 

great rise in the price of the staff of life, would be 
met with great opposition and much trouble. 

If a merchant had one hundred bags in his store, 
the levy was not much less than fifty bags. 
If a private dwelling had twenty bags hidden under 
its beds, the tribute was ten of them, and so the 
mob ransacked the town and took the surplus, and 
in less than twenty-four hours the regular price of 
a bag of flour went down from $130.00 to $45.00. 

Professor Dimsdale who was at that time editing 
the only newspaper published in the gold camp, 
''The Montana Post," I think, was there and in his 
serial notes, afterwards compiled in book form as 
"The Vigilants of Montana," makes a somewhat 
meager mention of these conspicuous events. They 
would now seem to be no more than manufac- 
tured stories, but in those strenuous days, it was 
best to be circumspect and avoid the fate the toughs, 
who were later hung or banished, would mete out 
to too much meddling. No doubt there are many 
men living, who think the editing of a newspaper 
sometimes is attended with danger. Compare notes 
with this man Dimsdale and he will be praised for 
the courage of even brief mention. 

Some time after the Orum-Marley prize fight, 
Hugh O'Neill, came up to Virginia City and sly- 
foxed around some months and finally brought about 
a fight between himself and Con Orum. O'Neill was 
a head taller and many pounds heavier than Orum, 
and the match was counted uneven for weight and 
size. Their fight took place in the "Theatre build- 
ing" over on a side street. Ben. H. Barrows, 
who was in Virginia City at that time, and is now 

A Miners' Bread Riot 107 

the collector of customs and in charge of the Omaha 
postoffice building, will bear me out in the state- 
ment that one hundred and twenty-seven rounds 
were fought. Of all sights and scenes attending a 
prize fight, I doubt if this has ever been equalled. 
The crowd was the sight of a life time; the order 
maintained has never been excelled. While the men 
were unevenly matched in weight and size, their 
pluck and staying qualities were evenly balanced. 
The outcome, although a "drawn battle," is of little 
consequence, for it was evidently "fixed." The 
oddity of the affair was the part the women named 
herein took in it. Some half dozen on each side of 
the "ropes." At the end of each round, they fairly 
deluged their favorites with perfumery that was 
used as lavishly as water and cost $10.00, a bottle. 
As for the betting, the entire audience would not 
compare with the planking down by the women of 
from ten to a hundred ounces of gold dust on their 
man, and there was little difference in the number 
of women in each corner besides the ropes, all of 
them as loud and hilarious of manner as the very 
totighest of the men. 


On my reaching Silver Bow to open a store (with 
one wagon load of goods) there were only two build- 
ings in the town, one a store operated by a Mr. 
Dorwin, a man of sixty years, who had married a 
school teacher from Iowa of thirty years and she 
kept house in the rear of his log store. The only 
cast iron cook stove within a range of eighty miles — 

108 A Miners' Bread Riot 

which the miners had repeatedly offered $300 for, 
was owned by Mrs. Dorwin. I started an opposition 
store in a pretentious two-story log building. With- 
in a range of five miles below and five miles above 
and in the small side gulches, were perhaps seventy- 
five miners' cabins containing a population of two 
hundred and fifty people, all men and about one 
hundred of these came to town to trade, usually on 
Sunday. Flour was selling at $50 per bag of ninety- 
eight pounds and Dorwin tried at once to induce me 
to raise the price to $75, as snow on the main range 
would prevent teams from bringing flour over the 
divide until the next June, unless it came by pack 
train, four months hence; but this I refused to do. 
All the flour I had was twenty bags that cost me 
$25.00 per sack in Virginia City, and the hauling in 
dead of winter near a hundred miles and a profit of 
ten per cent was all it would bear. Sunday Mr. 
Dorwin was waited on by two wagon loads of 
miners. They quietly loaded on the two two-horse 
wagons all the flour, beans, rice and crackers the 
horses could haul, paying him about twenty-five 
per cent of his price on the goods taken and drove 
away. These provisions they distributed among the 
miners at cost, informing Mr. Dorwin that at a 
second attempt to raise the price of the "staff of 
life" he might be found at the end of an inch rope 
just on the edge of town. The effect which this 
episode had on my own business was to increase my 
trade, which continued until July, when I disposed 
of my stock and started for Helena to arrange for 
my trip of two thousand miles in an open boat down 
the Missouri river to Omaha. 

Lively Staging in the West 109 


On one of my staging trips to Salt Lake City, 
west of old Fort Bridger, being in haste to get 
through I was transferred from a Concord wagon 
to a lumber wagon carrying only the mail and ex- 
press matter. This filled the wagon and I climbed 
on top of the mail sacks lying flat and holding on 
as best I could. The night was pitch dark and if 
the four horses had not been white I doubt if the 
driver could have seen where the reins held in his 
hands led to. A dare-devil young fellow called 
"Spense" was the driver. Whether he was familiar 
with the crooked and rocky road and the bridges 
made of poles crossing the stream every 200 yards, 
or depended on the horses' knowing the way, I 
could not tell. He raced them down the canyon on 
a full gallop, perhaps for my benefit. I hung on to 
the mail bags. They slipped and slid around and I 
was in constant danger of sliding oflf. If this had 
happened, I doubt it Spense would have known it 
until reaching the next station, for he was very 
busy driving and yelling at the horses. We drove 
into the swing station after fifteen miles at a terrific 
speed and here I laid over to wait for the first 
coach, which came two days later. There being a 
vacant seat I continued my journey. 

For many years I carried it in my mind to ''even 
up" with Spense, if I ever found him in the canyons, 
about Omaha or anywhere else oflF his own beat. 
This is the sequel : 

Many years after this wild, midnight ride, when I 
became post trader at Fort Laramie, the Patrick 

110 Lively Staging in the West 

brothers ran a stage line from Cheyenne to the 
Black Hills by the way of Fort Laramie. It was in 
the palmy days of "road agents" and "hold ups." 
There came a new driver on the line and he was put 
on from Fort Laramie north. I had occasion to ask 
his name before he had made many trips. To my 
great surprise, it proved to be "Spense," the crazy 
driver who took me down Echo canyon years be- 
fore. Here was a morsel of satisfaction to me and 
I soon began planning to even up with Spense, for 
he was the tenderfoot now. I began planning with 
the stage employes to have him taken over on Deer 
creek on a "snipe hunt" by night and lost in the 
woods. When the plan was fairly under way 
Spense drove in from the north one forenoon for 
the mail. He was rattled and nervous and wanted 
to quit his job then and there. I happened to be 
standing in the front door and he told the following 
story, the slangy expressions he used were more 
expressive than even the simplified spelling of to- 
day. He said: 

"I had a jolt last night. I doubled out from 
Lance creek to the first 'red hold-up holler.' Two 
men jumped for the leaders, fired a couple of shots 
and told me to stop. One was a little slim cuss, 
the other a fat red-headed rooster. They told me 
as perlite as a school marm, *if I moved an inch 
they'd drop me off the box full o' holes.' So I 
obeyed orders. Two other fellows told the passen- 
gers to get out, throw down their guns and hold up 
their hands. They made me throw the mail sacks 
out. The treasury box was built in the hind seat 
of the coach and they appeared to know the com- 

Lively Staging in the West 111 

pany's grain wagon was a little ways back and there 
was not much time to finish their job. After they 
got the guns and all the money and jewelry from 
the passengers they got into their saddles and told 
me to 'hit up the trail hard and not look back.' I 
threw the silk into the leaders and there didn't any 
grass grow under their feet into Rawhide station." 

Not two weeks after the hold-up, the stage going 
up contained the "fat red-headed rooster" and *'the 
little slim cuss" in irons, in charge of deputy mar- 
shals going towards Deadwood. It was late in the 
evening when they took supper at the Rustic hotel. 
One of my employes, Dan Fitzgerald, was a 
passenger and got off there. With the usual change 
of horses the stage with four passengers drove on. 
At the Platte ford, two miles away, the stage was 
delayed at the crossing. The next day was Sunday. 
All the cavalry was out in that direction, exercising 
their horses. Along the trail just under a bluff 
one company halted and the sergeant sent an or- 
derly back to report to Colonel A. W. Evans, in 
command. ''Two men hung at the Platte ford." 

With my grey bronchos Colonel Evans and myself 
drove over to the place designated and we found 
the "little slim cuss" tied hands and feet hanging 
to a Cottonwood limb, dead, the "red headed rooster" 
lying on the ground at his feet, he having been hung 
then cut down to make room for hanging the "little 
slim cuss." Being shy of halter rope only one could 
be hung at a time. 

It was soon noised around the garrison that a 
party had met the coach, taken the two road agents 
out and told the driver to "move on." No further 

112 Guarding a Prisoner 

particulars could be obtained. The "hold up of 
Spense" and the robbing of his passengers had been 


When I sold goods in Silver Bow one ''jerky" 
stage with two horses carried passengers and the 
mail from Johnnie Grant's ranch on the Deer Lodge, 
up to Silver Bow, thence over the Pipe jStone 
range, which was the main Rocky Mountain divide, 
to Virginia City. The waters on the west side of 
the low narrow ridge run into the Deer Lodge, 
through Pend Oreille, Hell Gate and Bitter Root 
into the Columbia river and the Pacific ocean. 
Within a stone's throw a spring headed the waters 
flowing to the Jefferson, one of the three forks of 
the Missouri river and into the Gulf of Mexico and 
the Atlantic ocean. 

To replenish my stock of goods, it was necessary 
for me to go to Virginia City occasionally. The 
stage went once a week and passed through Silver 
Bow going west in the afternoon returning at once, 
and arriving at Silver Bow going east again about 
two a. m. It was necessary to engage passage as 
the stage went west to be sure of a seat in the coach 
going east soon after midnight. At two a. m. I was 
called out to take the stage. My only baggage was 
a hundred ounces of Silver Bow gold dust, worth 
in trade $13 an ounce. I climbed into the coach and 
found two fellow passengers. 

A Nez Perces Squaw 113 

"Get on the back seat with me, Collins," was my 
greeting from a Doctor Day, who was either a 
United States or a county marshal, and whose voice 
I recognized. We had rolled along some four miles, 
to the foot of the divide, when I felt a frequent 
nudging and I was not long in understanding the 
meaning of the maneuvers. The doctor handed me 
a Colt's revolver and said : 

"Mr. Collins, I depend on you as my assistant. 
This man is my prisoner from Fort Owen and I de- 
pend on you to assist in guarding him." 

There I was, inside a coach, curtains all buttoned 
down, with a marshal who had a "road agent" in 
irons, both feet and arms shackled and I was ex- 
pected to assist in seeing that he would be safely 
delivered into the hands of the vigilantes in Virginia 
City, perhaps to be hung within an hour of his ar- 

Our duty was performed, and in half an hour after 
our arrival in Virginia City the prisoner was hanged.. 


In my somewhat varied life of travel my business 
west of the Missouri river carried me among over 
forty thousand Indians of the various tribes during 
fourteen or fifteen years and I had an opportunity 
of seeing as much of their mode of living, occupa- 
tion, dress and habits as many of the early trappers 
and traders who had lived among them years be- 

114 A Nez Perces Squaw 

''Indian beauty" is one of the things looked for 
by all people who travel among Indians. As for 
myself, I saw one solitary squaw who could be 
called a beauty. She belonged to the Nez Perces 
tribe, which a long while before began its deviltry 
among the whites with Chief Joseph at its head. 
In time he gathered his entire band from out in 
Oregon and began a raid through the settlements 
east of Hell Gate, Bitter Root, Deer Lodge and 
through Montana, crossing the Missouri above old 
Fort Peck and was, with his entire band, captured 
by United States troops just before reaching the 
British possessions. The whole tribe was sent down 
into the Everglades of Florida to remain prisoners 
until they learned more of the peaceable ways of 
the whites. 

It was many years before this, when I began 
storekeeping with one wagon load of goods in Silver 
Bow, that a dozen lodges of the Nez Perces camped 
on Brown creek, two miles north of Silver Bow, to 
trap beaver and otter. They were well fitted out 
with a band of about a hundred ponies of a mixed 
breed called "piebald," "pinto" and "calico," red 
woolen blankets, fair leathern saddles, etc., and 
were better equipped than any small band I ever 
met. They also had gold coin in $5, $10 and $20 

The band came to my store, two miles from their 
camp, to trade, paying cash for all their purchases. 
They were middle-aged or young men and women. 
The first that came to the store was a baker's dozen 
of as decent an appearing lot of the "copper colored" 
as I have ever seen. There was a tall, well propor- 

A Nez Perces Squaw 115 

tioned, sleek-haired young fellow who acted as in- 
terpreter. He told me he did not belong to the 
tribe. His grandfather was one of the Hudson Bay 
company's French voyagers and he came from the 
French half-breeds at Fort Berthold with a train 
of ox carts, fell in with a war party of Lacotas and 
drifted over among the Pend Oreille Indians, and 
when with his little band in camp on Brown creek, 
he saw a pretty squaw, he had rounded up his herd 
of twenty ponies and had come along with the band 
"to get her." 

Occasionally this pretty young woman would 
come to my store without him and with four or five 
women. She was the only one among them who 
could by signs make me understand their wants. 
She was of medium size, not stout, with but a slight 
tinge of copper in her complexion, a clear, chiseled 
face with eyes like diamonds, lips clean cut, a pretty 
mouth, and teeth so white and perfect that a white 
beauty of any "four-hundred" might envy them ; her 
hair was fine, soft and glossy and fell in loose waves 
over her shoulders; her ears thin and almost trans- 
parent; she wore no other ornaments than a string 
of large blue beads around her neck and a coil of 
German silver around one wrist. She was dressed 
in a striped calico skirt, black broadcloth leggings 
embroidered in silk, deer-skin shirt and moccasins, 
a bright plaid shawl over her shoulders and her 
tout en semble was topped off with a wide-brimmed, 
mouse-colored soft hat with a string under her chin 
to hold it in place on the back of her head. She rode 
a handsome little bay mare and when mounted 
astride hers was a picturesque figure. But riding 

116 Sixty Thousand Dressed Buffalo Hides 

was not her proper stunt and did not show her 
charms to the best advantage. 

One moonlight night, after midnight, the half- 
breed awakened me and said this girl was sick and 
he came for a bottle of "Red Jacket bitters." I got 
out of my bunk, gave him the bitters and he said, 
"she pay" and rode off. 

In a few days another bunch came to the store 
and brought me a string of trout and the young girl 
accompanying them, did not offer to liquidate for 
the bitters, but handed me a smoked buckskin gold 
dust bag, nicely embroidered in colored silk. 

This bag I have retained all these years, and now 
it holds some small nuggets and specimens of gold 
I picked up in various mining camps. 


After arranging for the driving of the herd of 
mules to Carbon on the Union Pacific railroad, which 
the Indians took possession of soon after their ar- 
rival, I took the Wells, Fargo company's stage for 
Salt Lake City to make inquiry for several loads of 
saddlery goods started from Omaha by team over- 
land late in the summer previous and snowed in in 
the mountains east of Salt Lake City, where they 
remained until early spring. When the spring thaw 
came the owner of the train, to whom I paid $25.00 
per thousand pounds freight, finally brought his 
train into Salt Lake with the merchandise in good 
order. I sold out the entire lot to Eldridge, Clawson 
& Company of the Zion co-operative store, and re- 

Sixty Thousand Dressed Buffalo Hides 117 

turned to Helena by stage where I again spent 
some time waiting for the arrival of the first steam- 
boat from St. Louis, that would leave Fort Benton 
for down river after unloading its cargo and try to 
make a second trip up the Missouri the same season. 
The first boat to arrive and unload was the big 
stern-wheeler, "Cora." I went by team from Helena 
to Fort Benton and embarked for Omaha. While 
these commonplace events may not thus far interest 
the reader it is necessary to relate them in order to 
bring forward the following facts. 

There was little or no freight going down the 
river except dressed buflfalo hides, worth at whole- 
sale $2.50 each, packed in bales of ten. The Cora 
took on board all that were ready for shipment and 
started immediately on the down trip. Both the 
cabin and deck carried a full quota of returning 
miners, every one of them with gold dust in buck- 
skin bags. Half an hour after leaving Fort Benton 
the bell announced that dinner was ready. The 
cabin on each side of the table was lined with the 
rough and burly miners, (at least double in number 
what the boat registered to carry) who, by occupy- 
ing a chair would be sure of a seat at the first table, 
so they stood holding on to it until the second bell 
would ring. To understand the determination of 
these passengers to be first at the table, a stranger 
needed but to try to edge in and get in advance of 
one of these men. All of the passengers wore re- 
volvers strapped to their waists and the sight of 
these articles was enough to show that they were 
carried for a purpose. As soon as the table cloth 
was spread the miners gradually edged up towards 

118 Sixty Thousand Dressed Buffalo Hides 

it and before dinner was announced, every chair 
along the wall of the cabin was occupied. When 
dinner was ready the occupant of each chair pushed 
it up in front of a plate and stood by with his re- 
volver and his belt of cartridges convenient. Not 
more than one-fourth of the passengers could be 
seated at one table. When they finished, a second 
table was set and the same process of getting pos- 
session of a chair was gone through with again. It 
required four separate tables at each meal to serve 
the cabin passengers. Setting twelve tables a day 
took from four o'clock in the morning until ten 
o'clock at night. The cabin was actually overrun. 
Every passenger not having a berth had a bundle 
of bedding which was thrown on deck outside of 
the cabin along the guards. 

Passengers fortunate enough to have secured 
berths, (each berth containing two single bunks) 
were not allowed to occupy them alone. Six people 
would be the allotment and they were occupied six 
hours by each occupant, in relays. The table was 
very poorly supplied and by the time the boat had 
reached a trading post below Milk river provisions 
began to run very low. At an Indian agency I 
bought a bag full of dried buffalo tongues and for 
the following ten days the supply of provisions 
was bread and crackers, beans and rice, coffee and 
buffalo tongue. When ten o'clock at night came, 
the miners placed all the chairs out on the guards 
and bunked down on the floor and from the bow to 
the stern of the cabin, there was not a foot of space 
unoccupied. The most difficult task for the miners 
was to secrete the bags of dust they carried on their 

Weighing a Grizzly Bear 119 

persons and all lay down not only with their clothes 
on, but with their revolvers and cartridges also. We 
were twenty days making the voyage. 

At all the trading posts along the river, bales of 
buffalo robes were taken on board. The largest 
number being from Fort Union, at the mouth of the 
Yellowstone; Fort Berthold and old Fort Peck. 
When the cargo was all on I asked the clerk how 
many bales he had on board. After carefully cal- 
culating the lots from each landing he handed me 
the manifest. The "Cora" carried sixty thousand 
robes, almost equaling in weight its entire tonnage. 
At Yankton and at Sioux City the largest part of 
the cargo was unloaded, the balance going to St. 


''Cap, I want you to weigh a bear." These words 
were said to me by a grizzled, weather-worn, ragged, 
old hunter with so much hair on his face and neck 
he might have passed for the wild man of the woods. 
His head was bandaged in rags, one arm cut out of 
his coat sleeve and if I ever saw a white man who 
looked the picture of distress he was the man. A 
crowd at once gathered around his wagon and it 
was easy to get men to "lend a hand" and drag the 
big bear to the scales inside the store. Thirteen 
hundred and sixty-five pounds was the actual weight. 
When the bear was loaded back into the wagon with 
bison, elk, moose and deer, the disfigured hunter 
told the following story : 

120 Weighing a Grizzly Bear 

*'It was this way. You see, Cap, Dan and me (Dan 
is my pardner, see?) were camped over in the Galla- 
tin valley hunting for market, see? The cussed var- 
mints were so bad we built a corral of fallen pine 
logs to store our game in until we had a full load for 
market. The next day we were going to "pull our 
freight" for Virginia City and top out the load with 
black tail deer that we could kill anywhere on the 
road in any quantity. I was coming to the corral 
from the west leading my horse with a young moun- 
tain lion behind the saddle, when this here big brute 
made a pass at jumping out of the corral where he 
had been feeding on our game. Hearing my partner 
coming from the east it was trying to escape not 
having seen or heard me. Then it turned and ran 
back and Dan and the brute came together. By the 
time I could run around the fence they were mixed, 
tearing through the underbrush. When the bear 
left Dan it came for me and with one paw raked me 
down from head to waist and before it could get its 
mouth on me Dan's 45 bullet broke his neck. It was 
a close shave for me. I had about an even chance 
of being killed by the shot or chawed up by the bear. 
The next morning we loaded up for town. That 
was three days ago." 


In the spring of 1895, with Charles Turner of 
Omaha, I visited the lakes and woods of Wisconsin. 
Mr. Turner had been a woodsman in early life, — 
being a surveyor by profession, — and the part of 
Wisconsin which we visited was his old stamping 
ground. He told me that as I was not familiar with 
the timber country, there would be something new 
and interesting in the trip, — very different from 
plains and mountain life. — and, as we shall see, his 
predictions were true. 

J. B. Mann was the proprietor of a fishing lodge 
on lower Trout lake, in the region known as "Toma- 
hawk Group" in the Wisconsin woods. Before 
reaching the town of Tomahawk, not far from 
Minneacqua, we came to a logging camp. At the 
station a burly lot of Finlanders got aboard the 
train. These men had been in the woods all winter 
engaged in logging and had just received their pay, 
and were on their way to Tomahawk to spend their 
earnings. "Bootleggers" and vendors of cheap 
liquor had located near the logging station and all 
of the Finns were more or less under the influence 
of liquor. The conductor had a disagreeable time 
getting the men loaded on the cars. They staggered 
into the train and down the isles as only drunken 
men could do, dropping into seats and sprawling 
about. They were dressed in the clothing of all 
lumbermen — suits of striped kersey blanket cloth, 
heavy cowhide shoes, the soles filled with spikes 

122 Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 

half an inch long. The crowd was a little too rough 
for the other passengers, who, with Mr. Turner and 
myself, went into the baggage car. 

A few hours brought us to Tomahawk station 
where all the Finns got off. 

About the station and in the town the big trees 
had been cut down, the stumps still standing and the 
buildings were of unplaned boards running up and 
down and battened. Some outside walls were 
shingled but there was no paint on any building, — 
the latter omission being of little consequence, how- 
ever, as the Finns immediately started in to ''paint 
the town." 

At the station before reaching Tomahawk the 
operator had told the conductor to look out for a 
forest fire that might cross the track. We were not 
long in running into the clouds of smoke and floa- 
ting embers. Ahead of us was a narrow streak of 
light where a strip of the timber had been cut 
through and on a clear day one could see miles 
ahead. The trees cut by the railroad along the right- 
of-way were piled up as cord wood near the track 
fully ten feet high and three or four hundred feet 
long and near enough to the track to be handed to 
the fireman on the tender. After we left the station 
and reached the smoke from the fire, the train came 
to a stop, the crew climbed out and met the con- 
ductor, and the passengers were then called in con- 
sultation to size up the situation. The engineer 
said: *Tf the ties ahead of us are not burning I do 
not think the rails are hot enough to warp and we 
can make it if we can 'take a run at it.' There is 
not water enough in the tank to carry us to the next 

Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 123 

station back and we have got to make it, or lay up 
and send back for water, and by that time the rails 
will be hot and warped and we can't go ahead. We 
must decide quickly what we will do." 

It was decided to run slowly through the smoke 
until we reached the fire, and then be governed by 
circumstances. The conductor cried ''All aboard" 
and we started. 

We soon reached the burning trees and piles of 
wood which were on fire on both sides of the track, — 
a mass of flames and red coals. The ties were all 
right as far as could be seen. "Shall we try it?" 
asked the engineer, consulting the passengers. It 
was decided we should, and all the car windows and 
doors were tightly closed. With a prolonged whistle 
we backed down a half mile; another long whistle 
and we started ahead. The puffing of the engine 
was slow at first, then faster and faster. We were 
running through a blaze of flames all about us 
Faster and faster the train flew. The heat came 
through the glass windows so that we were com- 
pelled to huddle in the aisles. There appeared a 
streak of fire on both sides of the car and the smoke 
coming through the cracks of the doors and win- 
dows nearly stifled us. Five minutes of this and we 
should be lying in the aisles suffocated. The en- 
gineer could not see the smoke stack. 

Our speed was terrific — a mile a minute and 
even faster. "Will we make it?" asked the passen- 
gers. The answer came : "We will die in our tracks 
if we do not." 

Presently there came a long shrill whistle, — a 
signal that we were out of the woods and safe. 

124 Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 

The train stopped and all hands got out, took a 
long breath, and looked to see what damage had 
been done to the cars. ''God, it was hot," said the 
engineer as he almost fell out of the engine cab. 
Look at the blisters on the coaches," said the con- 
ductor; "but we are all right. All aboard," and in a 
few minutes we were at Minoqua, the last station 
on the line. 

I reminded Mr. Turner that he had told me I 
would see some new things on the trip and asked 
if he counted this as one of them. *'Yes," he 
answered, ''the Finns was one and this is number 
two, and we are not yet at the fishing grounds." 

The next morning a spring wagon took us to 
Mann's lodge, over a new road where the trees had 
recently been cut to open a new trail. Mann's lodge 
is a log cabin, with partitions of rough-sawed, un- 
planed boards, with its porches housed in with wire 
netting, for mosquitos were there by the million. 
Fully twenty-five fishermen had arrived ahead of us 
and were preparing their tackle for the next morn- 
ing. Half a dozen Chippewa Indians were on hand 
to act as guides, at from $3.00 to $3.50 per day, the 
use of a birch bark canoe being 50 cents extra, and 
a clinker-built boat was $1.00 extra. 

We engaged a six-foot, two hundred pound, raw- 
boned "Kanuck" and an Indian named John Cat- 
fish to row our boats, carry packs and make port- 
ages. A Chippewa Indian will carry a pack of one 
hundred pounds on his back, and on his head and 
shoulders above this he will add a birch bark canoe, 
carrying the load one or two miles without resting, 

Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 125 

and at a pace that will worry an ordinary white man 
to keep up with. 

In much of the timbered country in Wisconsin 
there is more water than land, — lakes and swamps 
where horses cannot travel, with but few trails and 
roads. The Indians traveling through this country 
carry their birch bark canoes, blankets and provi- 
sions over portages leading from one lake to an- 
other on their route. It is a time-honored custom to- 
leave a tin can or plate with pitch gathered from 
the Norway pine trees and mixed with charcoal to 
repair leaks in the canoes at a portage. When a 
leak has to be mended a fire is built and by the aid 
of a lighted torch a flame is blown into the pitch 
until it is melted and then poured onto the damaged 
boat until the break it covered. When the pitch is 
cold the work is ended. If it is a puncture a piece 
of cloth is laid on covering the hole and the hot 
pitch is then applied. To resume the journey the 
boatman lashes the paddle from one cross-piece ta 
another and a stick of the same length is made fast 
to the cross piece also, forming a yoke. The canoe 
is turned bottom up, the boatman walks under and 
it is balanced upon his shoulders. 

Our first day's excursion was in the nature of a 
prospecting trip to upper Trout lake. When our 
party was nearing the head of the lake Mr. Turner 
said: "Pull over to the point where the hemlock 
tree stands," and as we landed on the beach, Mr. 
Turner continued: "When I surveyed in this coun- 
try forty years ago carrying my tripod, compass and 
what little provisions and blankets I could add, I 
camped alone under this tree. Then it was about 

J.26 Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 

four inches in diameter; now it will measure nearly 

We made a fire under the hemlock and took lunch. 

I wish it were possible to describe the joy and 
real satisfaction that this event gave Mr. Turner. 
Grown men often remember some particular spot 
where, in their younger days, some of their pleasant- 
est moments were spent, and nothing gives them 
more pleasure than to visit that spot at some later 
day in their lives. This point was Mr. Turner's 
haven. Loitering here a few hours and drifting 
leisurely back to camp we reached the lodge about 
dark with a dozen or more lake trout, weighing 
from two to four pounds each. All the fishermen 
had come in before us and the most exuberant and 
breezy of the lot was a Mr. Lawrence of the Grand 
Pacific hotel, Chicago, who visited Mann's lodge 
every spring during fishing season. He seemed 
more interested in the catches of the others than he 
did in his own success, and he was generally the 
first man on the beach to meet an incoming party 
and ascertain its catch. 

Mr. Turner knew something of the possibilities of 
the lakes of the region around us, and after consult- 
ing Mr. Mann and John Catfish we decided on an 
early start next morning for Sand lake, six miles 

At daylight we loaded our camp outfits into two 
bark canoes, (Mr. Turner with a big, strong Cana- 
dian woodsman for his boatman and I with the In- 
dian, John Catfish. From the landing at the head 
of the lake there was a portage of three miles to 
Sand lake through the timber. Mr. Catfish's atten- 

Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 127 

tion seemed to be drawn to a distant cloud of smoke 
in the south, evidently from a forest fire, and we 
asked him if it were possible that the fire could cross 
our trail before we returned to the lodge. "Maybe 
so; wind change, come sure in two days; no wind 
no change, fire no come dis way," replied the Indian. 
After a light lunch the boatmen lashed their paddles 
to the canoes, then, with blankets and provisions for 
the whole party lashed to their backs, they turned 
the canoes bottom side up, walked to their center, 
balanced them on their shoulders, and started off 
on the trail. Mr. Turner and myself, carrying only 
our rods, found it difficult to keep up with their fast 
gait, although each boatman carried about one hun- 
dred and twenty-five pounds. Only three times 
the boatmen stopped to rest one end of the canoe on 
a leaning tree or backed up against a fallen log for 
six minutes, and then they were oflf again. When- 
ever we passed through the open timber Catfish kept 
his eye out for the cloud of smoke in the south, — to 
me it seemed at least ten miles away. 

We passed through a clearing where underbrush 
grew. The wintergreen berries were red, the blue- 
l)erries were just coming out in blossom, and that 
princely and sweetest scented of all wild flowers of 
the woods, the trailing arbutus, peeped out from the 
edge of snow banks left from the winter — not yet 
quite gone. 

It was afternoon when we reached the lake, and, 
after unloading their packs, the guides cut jack 
pine trees and made a slanting shelter, gathered pine 
boughs to lay under our blankets, built a fire and 

128 Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 

cooked a lunch of coffee, bacon and potatoes, and 
we were ready for the lake. 

''Collins, you and Catfish go over to the north, 
and we will go the other way. I think the channel's 
good for muskallonge over there," said Mr. Turner, 
and he pushed off from the shore. He had not been 
gone ten minutes before he hooked a muskallonge 
and our canoe was beating back and across the 
inlet. A dash was made at my big skinner spoon 
and the water swirled as if a big boulder had been 
dropped near the boat. "Big Muskie," said Catfish, 
"we go back, he come again." Putting the canoe 
about, the Indian paddled back over our track and 
near the spot another dash was made at my bait, 
and this time with the hook set well in its mouth 
the fish jumped its full length out of the lake, then 
made a dash for deep water. 

"Hold tight line; I take you place not so deep," 
said my boatman. I followed his suggestion all 
right, but when the canoe was turned towards the 
shore the fish made a straight dash for it, making 
another leap clear out of the water and it was pretty 
lively work to take in the slack of the line hand over 
hand to keep up with its pace as it came right at us. 
Ninety feet of line were out when it ran under the 
boat. In this rush the reel was too slow. 

Catfish was a star hand with the paddle. The 
skillful manner in which he handled the canoe, al- 
ways giving me its broadside toward the fish^ 
showed that he was an expert boatman. The fish 
again started toward the boat and again I pulled 
in the slack, hand over hand. As it came within six 
feet of the boat Catfish reached for it with the gaif 

Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 129 

hook, but missed. Then it turned its head on one 
side and scudded away Hke a driving horse pulling 
on one line. The Indian actually had it towing the 
canoe. "Forty-pound muskie," said Catfish. But I 
was too busy to make an estimate of its length or 
weight, for it was gradually getting up greater 
speed, and following it closely, I took in the line, 
and when we drew alongside, the guide sank the 
gaff hook into its side and lifted the fish into the 
canoe where its floundering nearly upset the frail 
craft. Catfish put his moccasined foot on the handle 
of the gaff hook and held the fish down, then, with 
two or three hard raps over the head with a club, it 
trembled a moment and then lay still, dead. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Turner had seen us cavorting 
about and came over to watch our fun. He had 
caught three or four muskallonge weighing eight, 
nine and sixteen pounds, but I had the prize fish. 

We all went ashore, gathered some moss from 
the north side of the trees in a tamarack swamp, and 
laid our fish on some ice we found under the moss, 
which can often be found that early in the spring 
at the foot of trees. 

The big *'muskie" weighed twenty-six pounds and 
measured forty-four inches long. After lunch we 
started out again, catching as many fish as we could 
possibly eat and carry back over the portage to the 
lodge, returning early to camp and at dusk turned 
in on our beds of pine boughs. 

Next morning the guides were up at daylight pre- 
paring breakfast. After watching the smoke from 
the fire in the woods, Catfish returned to camp and 

130 Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 

said: "No fishing more; wind change and fire will 
cross our trail ; must go quick." 

The camp was gotten together quickly, and, with 
the fish divided into two packs, and the canoes, with 
all our camp outfit, on the shoulders of the boatmen, 
we started over the back trail. Before we reached 
the clearing the fire had crept along the tamarack 
swamp on our left, and the wind had drifted the 
smoke across our trail and the brush was already 
burning within one hundred yards of us. The south 
wind blew it directly across our trail and the opening 
was not a quarter of a mile across. The smoke was 
so dense that we were obliged to get down on our 
hands and knees and crawl through it. We suc- 
ceeded in reaching the landing safely, not knowing, 
however, what had become of our guides with their 
heavy loads. But they came in a few minutes be- 
hind us. 

We ate a lunch at the landing on Trout lake, load- 
ed our packs into the boats and started for the lodge. 
All the load was put in Catfish's canoe, and Mr. 
Turner, myself and the other boatman got into the 
other boat. The wind blew a stiff gale from the 
south. Catfish started for the other shore to get 
into still water. Our boat was going through white- 
capped waves, and as we rounded a point and looked 
back we saw Catfish quietly paddling along in still 
water, smoking his pipe, a mile behind us. 

It was toward evening when we reached the lodge. 
The fishermen had all come in and stood upon the 
shore watching our arrival. Mr. Lawrence had 
caught forty odd muskallonge from the Manitowisb 
river, weighing from two to eight pounds each. One 

Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 131 

of the party had hooked near the boat landing a 
sixteen-pound trout. The others had fair catches of 
bass and other fish. But our big "muskie" tipped 
the beam at more pounds than any three taken 
by the other fishermen, and was in reality the largest 
caught that whole season. 

After another day on the lakes with fair success 
we packed our traps and drove to the railroad sta- 
tion. When we reached the place of our wild ride 
through the burning timber, the fire had crossed the 
track and had drifted away to the north. 

Upon our arrival at Omaha, the big muskallonge 
was sent to the Omaha club and served for a full 
dinner to all the club members. 

The spring following we went to Gordon, Wis- 
consin, southwest of Duluth, Minnesota. Here we 
met the somewhat famous "Steve" Gheen. He had 
the reputation of being the best lumber camp fore- 
man, and the best man in a log jam, and was an all 
around woodsman, earning $5.00 a day, while the 
ordinary wages were from $2.00 to $3.00 per day. 
He was a quarter-blood Chippewa Indian, a clean- 
cut, dandy sort of a fellow, always gentlemanly, and 
there was not his match in handling a canoe or bir- 
ling a log in that vicinity. We employed him as our 
boatman. The first day he carried a canoe to White 
Fish and other lakes, among them being Red lake, 
where, in one day, Mr. Turner and I caught ninety- 
four big-mouth bass, besides a lot of catfish and 
pickerel. The bass weighed from two to four 
pounds each. 

We had made a short portage to a camp and when 
we counted our fish we found we had ninety-four, 

132 Lakes and Woods of Wisconsin 

it was suggested that we make another trip across 
the lake and make the amount a full hundred. In 
half an hour we were back to camp with sixteen 
more bass, making one hundred and ten bass in the 

Out on a long point we found a loon's nest, half 
floating in the water. It was built of rushes and 
contained three eggs. I carried one of them to camp. 
The hen bird had watched me robbing its nest and 
kept up its wild call. It would visit its nest, then 
sail away over our camp. It kept up its mournful 
cry all night long as it hovered over the camp. 


All the public clocks in the city of San Francisco 
were stopped at 5:15 a. m. April 18, 1906, by the 

I was asleep on the ninth floor of the steel and 
stone apartment house, The Alexander, on Geary 
street, half a block from the St. Francis hotel. My 
first impression upon awakening was that I was in 
a railroad wreck. I had been thrown almost out of 
bed by the first shock and the second threw me back 
again. I sat up, but was again thrown back into the 
bed. Then I put my feet out and stood upon the 
floor and realize4 that I was in San Francisco and in 
an earthquake. 

The building shook and trembled like a tree in a 
tornado while I staggered to a window where my 
clothes lay upon a chair. Two more shocks fol- 
lowed, not so violent as the others, and, as I looked 
from the window, I saw the building adjoining crash 
down. I learned afterward that twelve people had 
been buried beneath its walls. I saw puflfs of smoke 
around the horizon and realized that a great con- 
flagration was imminent. With satchel in hand I 
started down eight flights of stairs, not knowing 
what obstacle I might meet to cut me oflf and leave 
me beyond all possibility of escape. But the only 
impediment I encountered was falling plaster, and 
the farther down I went the more the plaster had 

134 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 

fallen. It was my determination to get out of the 
building if possible and over onto Union square, 
where the Dewey mounment stood, where I would 
not be killed by falling roofs or walls. I reached 
the street and climbed over piles of stones which 
had fallen from the building adjoining and I saw 
that what had a few moments before been small 
puffs of smoke had increased to great clouds and at 
that early hour it seemed to me the city was doomed 
to destruction by fire. Live wires were dancing about 
and snapping like firecrackers, but the current of 
electricity was soon shut off. Water pipes had 
parted five miles out of the city and all power and 
light of every description was out of service. 

I reached the park safely and at once resolved 
that no roof, unless it be a canvas tent, should again 
cover my head if I could get out of the city and over 
to Oakland across the bay. Scarcely fifty people 
had reached the park when I arrived there. The 
guests of the St. Francis were pouring out — men 
and women with a sheet or a blanket wrapped about 
them, women with a single gown, barefooted and 
with hair flying. I saw one young woman, maybe 
a bride of a few weeks, barefooted, her hair flying, 
clothed in an elegant party dress, her fingers cov- 
ered with diamond rings. 

When the men had brought the women and chil- 
dren into the park and had gotten courage to go 
back to their rooms and get their clothing, there was 
no one left there but the women and a few children. 
There were no hysterics, no crying or moaning 
among the women, only a look of resignation. They 
all seemed resigned to their fate, — what happens us 

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 135 

will happen them, what happens them will happen 
to us, and no one can prevent it. It was not long 
until people from the surrounding buildings began 
arriving. To get away from the crowd I moved 
over towards Post street, where I could watch the 

While I stood wondering how it would be possi- 
ble for me to get away from all of these scenes of 
misery and horror and over to Oakland and away 
to the east, I heard a voice saying: **Mr. Collins, 
how would you like to be in Omaha today?". The 
speaker was Harry Cartan of Omaha. 

The only road to the ferry house that I knew was 
down Market street. By this time dozens of blocks 
of buildings were in flames, cutting off that route 
completely and Mr. Cartan's voice seemed to solve 
the problem of some other way out of the burning 
city. For two hours we walked together about the 
streets, viewing the destruction and damage the 
earthquake had wrought. The sun in the east be- 
yond the clouds of smoke and glare of the fire looked 
like a great lump of red hot iron. The heat seemed 
to have formed a draft straight up into the sky, a 
mile above. Sparks and cinders floated about in the 
sky until a current of air would carry them out over 
the bay. No new fires seemed to have been caused 
from floating cinders or sparks. The sky was a 
brilliant sight to behold. 

To undertake a meagre description of all that fell 
under my eye would be a great tax on memory, and 
ability to describe it quite beyond me. We walked 
down to the Call building, the Palace hotel and over 
to the Chronicle building to the Postal Telegraph 

136 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 

office, to send telegrams. The office was jammed 
with people. The clerks overtaxed and so driven 
with work they had strength only to hold out their 
hands and take messages and the money. The ques- 
tion of their ever being able to even get the dis- 
patches started on the wire was of minor considera- 
tion. From my experience I know many dispatches 
were sent by mail by the company. 

We walked over to the banking district, where 
every business building v/as vacated, doors closed, 
and a watchman standing guard at the door. Piles 
of stone and brick — the fire had not reached that 
quarter — that the earthquake had thrown to the 
sidewalk, blockading them completely. With tot- 
tering walls on all sides it was only safe to walk 
in the middle of the street. In places whole blocks 
of buildings had sunken a foot or more below the 
street, paving and curbing were warped out of shape 
and left above the street level. Cracks in the street 
were everywhere, from the width of your hand to 
eighteen inches and more. A grotesque sight were 
the show windows of the great dry goods houses, 
where cloaks, handsome dresses and elegant bonnets 
were displayed on figures. These figures were tum- 
bled about in all shapes, some standing on their 
heads, others fallen in heaps, bonnets, opera coats, 
lace dresses, alt in confusion. We continued our 
walk to keep watch of the progress of the fire and 
every inch of the way the earthquake had left its 
destructive path. On all sides where standing walls 
were shaken and the sidewalks obstructed, the space 
was roped oflf to keep travel in the middle of the 
street and at times it was necessary to go entirely 

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 137 

around a block. We spent three hours in walking 
about the city, before the fire had reached as far as 
Third and Market streets, but at the right and the 
left of it it seemed like an unbroken blaze away to 
the bay. 

All kinds of rumors were afloat: "The ferry 
building had gone down and boats could not land." 
"Chicago stood in nine feet of water." "New York 
had had a tidal wave," etc. These attracted little at- 
tention because of our own surroundings. We 
walked back to the St. Francis hotel and in the grill 
room got a cup of coflfee and rolls and again went 
out on the street. 

By this time the terror-stricken people filled every 
inch of space in the park. Geary, Powell and Post 
streets were thronged. 

Now the military had arrived from the Presidio 
and the city was placed under martial law. Sol- 
diers and policemen were stationed everywhere to 
protect private property and to guard the people 
against travel in dangerous places. Before 9 a. m. 
this famous proclamation of the mayor was issued: 


The Federal troops, the members of the reg- 
ular police force and all special police officers 
have been authorized to kill any and all per- 
sons found engaged in looting or in the com- 
mission of any other crime. 

I have directed all the Gas and Electric Light- 
ing companies not to turn on gas or electricity 
until I order them to do so, you may therefore 

138 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 

expect the city to remain in darkness for an in- 
definite time. 

I request all citizens to remain at home from 
darkness until daylight of every night until 
order is restored. 

I warn all citizens of the danger of fire from 
damaged or destroyed chimneys, broken or leak- 
ing gas pipes or fixtures, or any like cause. 

E. E. SCHMITZ, Mayor.. 
Altaver Print. Mission and 22nd Streets. 

The city water wagons began hauling water into- 
Dewey park for drinking purposes. Loaves of bread 
and crackers were brought and given to all who 
asked for them. Dairy wagons loaded with milk 
cans arrived on Geary street and milk was given out 
freely. Down among the small saloons, liquor was 
sold so lavishly and drunkenness became so general 
that the saloons were ordered gutted and the liquors 
poured out on the streets. It was not an infrequent 
sound to hear the crack of a soldier's or policeman's 
rifle or pistol ending somebody's career at an at- 
tempt at some crime. In the great crowd Mr. Car- 
tan and I became separated — an unfortunate circum- 
stance for me, because I knew no easy way I could 
get out of the city on account of being a stranger, 
and among all the thousands of people I did not 
know where to look for an acquaintance whom I 
could reach. So I stood in places where I could see 
the fire blazing its way up Market street. From 
near Union square I watched the smoke pour out of 
the upper tier of windows of the Call building; then 
the next, the Palace hotel, and on down to the 

The author's keys, which went through the San 
Francisco fire. (The keys were found by workmen in 
the debris of the hotel and returned to Mr. Collins 
several months after his arrival home.) 

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 139 

ground floor. By the time the smoke had reached 
the ground floor, the flames were coming out of these 
buildings. I watched them until the blaze came out 
of every window and opening in the buildings — a 
grand and awful sight. I saw the glare of light 
through the yet unbroken glass, fronting on Market 
street, of the Palace hotel. This was also a beautiful 
sight, soon followed by smoke and flames. 

In all parts of the city automobiles were hurrying 
about, containing the governor, the mayor of the 
city, the commanding general and army and munic- 
ipal officers. To check the flames dynamite was 
brought from the garrison. As each block of build- 
ings caught fire on the corner a few stores away, a 
hundred or two pounds of dynamite were used to 
check the flames. Still the fire raged and two blocks 
away they would fire dynamite until finally build- 
ings were blown up three blocks ahead of the flames 
to check the fire. All the streets were thronged with 
people. A fair example of what was transpiring all 
over the city could be seen in Union square where 
the Dewey monument stood. Men, women and chil- 
dren carrying baskets, bundles of clothing, satchels, 
blankets, children with bird cages in one hand car- 
rying their dolls by the leg or arm and to these little 
tots it all seemed great fun. Parrots were perched 
on the shoulders of men, pet dogs carried by women, 
trunks of clothing with a rope at one end, scraping 
and rasping over the asphalt pavement. Young 
women carrying typewriters, young men carrying 
books and stationery and every conceivable thing 
was lugged along to a resting place until they could 
go no further. As the fire progressed great crowds 

140 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 

of people nearly wore their lives out carrying and 
dragging after them the only articles they could save 
from their homes, stores and offices, and hundreds 
would fall on the street through sheer exhaustion 
and in the end abandon their loads and go on. i 
saw one couple, at least seventy years of age, 
with a rope around a piano, the man pulling and the 
woman pushing and to steady it from toppling over 
the woman would hold back about as much as the 
man would pull. 

All over the city the booming of dynamite could 
be heard every few minutes, exploded ahead of the 
fire line. I walked over to the Union League club. 
They were taking down their oil paintings and cart- 
ing them away to a place of safety. There were also 
heavy express wagons loaded with treasure from 
the banks, each guarded by a dozen armed men, 
going to safety deposit vaults. To give an idea of 
the value the use of any kind of wagon or transpor- 
tation, one incident is mentioned: An officer of one 
of the banks stood on a corner stopping an express 
wagon to engage it to take his bank's specie away. 
"I am engaged and I can't do it," answered the cart 
man. *T'll pay you any price," said the banker, "or 
I'll buy your team. How much for it?" "I'll give 
it to you for $500.00." "Come in and get your 
money." The banker paid $500.00 in gold for the 
outfit and the clerks began carrying the money out 
to load in the wagon. The fire was approaching 
upon that block and they did not wait to gather up 
a thousand dollars of loose silver change left scat- 
tered about the drawers and on the counters. Auto- 
mobiles were whirling about the city in every direc- 

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 141 

tion. Occasionally a soldier with a musket would 
stop the auto, the driver and occupants would be or- 
dered out, the name of the owner of the machine 
taken, its number, the owner's address, and the offi- 
cers needing it in the emergency would press it into 

It requires a more vivid pen than mine to describe 
the incidents around me and the horrors cover- 
ing every portion of the city. I watched them 
all day. At 9 o'clock at night I stood in front 
of the Alexander hotel where my trunk had been 
left the night before on the ninth floor. It had been 
useless to attempt getting it down. Twenty-five to 
$50.00 for each floor was time and again refused by 
porters. The only vehicle drivers on the street 
charged $25.00 to $100.00 for taking a family to the 
ferry landing. Automobiles for hire cleared from 
$100.00 to $200.00 for the same service. At nine 
o'clock at night all the people in Union square were 
ordered to move away, as the fire would be on them 
in half an hour. So loath were they to leave, it re- 
quired soldiers with fixed bayonets to move them. 

The St. Francis hotel and the Alexander were or- 
dered vacated at 9:30 o'clock at night. When this 
order came in company with three others I started 
for the Presidio, nine miles away, thinking we might 
find shelter in the military post. All day long the 
great crowds had been drifting into Golden Gate 
park and it was now estimated that a hundred thou- 
sand people were there. Almost a panic was cre- 
ated by the rumor that a tidal wave from the ocean 
would flood the park. This, of course, was without 

142 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 

foundation, but it served the purpose of prolonging 
the exciting misery. 

Our route was up Geary in the middle of the 
street. After walking an hour we were halted by 
soldiers and turned off of Geary street two or three 
blocks west, continuing on towards Van Ness street, 
which we reached just at midnight and on a piece of 
vacant ground adjoining the street, ten or fifteen 
thousand people were crowded. 

In our travels we had heard that a final attempt 
would be made to stop the fire over at the east end 
of Van Ness street and we concluded to rest where 
we were until morning. Almost every inch of space 
was occupied. There was no drinking water. 
Women and children were famishing from thirst. 
It was rumored someone was selling water and that 
they had been shot down immediately. Along this 
route we saw great fissures in the street. I lay on a 
carpenter's bench with my satchel under my head, 
all that I had saved of my baggage. In half an hour 
I had quite enough of that kind of rest, and waking 
up my companions we again started for the Presidio, 
still three miles away. There came along two or 
three persons who greeted my companions. They 
said the ferry was running and they were going to 
Oakland. That being my direction, I immediately 
joined them and went down Van Ness street west 
to the ocean shore. 

The condition of the people and the sights and 
scenes along the route up the ocean and bay shore 
were like those we had passed. A one-horse express 
wagon was hailed by a woman who asked the driver 
his price for carrying her to the ferry. Turning to 

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 143 

one or two acquaintances she gave out that she car- 
ried $105.00 and turning to the expressman for his 
answer he said : 'I'll carry you for $100.00." Four 
soldiers with muskets, just off of duty, were passing 
and hearing the argument they ordered the express- 
man to put the woman's bundles in his wagon and 
carry them to the ferry without delay. Two soldiers 
accompanied them. When at the ferry house the 
driver was ordered to carry the bundles into the 
waiting room and he was told, "Now you can go." 
*'But who pays me?" asked the driver. "You get 
nothing," said one of the soldiers, "Go !" 

We had followed along the shore the long tedious 
miles to the ferry. On all sides there were men, 
women and children, Chinamen, — in fact people of 
all nationalities and in every condition of life, many 
had lugged along their loads until they could go no 
further. We carried our satchels, which by this 
time began to get very heavy, making it necessary 
to put them down every two hundred yards or so and 
rest and I may add that many was the time I would 
look at my satchel on the ground and wonder if I 
had not carried it long enough. Then the thought 
would come to me, "It may be weeks and perhaps I 
may be in the bread line before I can get any more 
clothing," so I clung to the satchel. Many men, 
women and children, some of them bare-footed, car- 
ried no bundles, all their worldly possessions con- 
sisting of what they wore. It is difficult to tell 
whether their condition was as deplorable as the 
many who had attempted to carry away what they 
had saved. 

144 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire 

We began our walk the second time for the i^rvy 
half an hour after midnight and reached the ferry 
house at 8 :30 a. m., after almost twelve hours steady 
walking. The glare of the fire lighted up the streets 
so that it was by no means dark. It was pitiful to 
pass the droves of Chinamen, women and children,. 
Japanese and all manner of yellow-skinned people. 
The Chinese way of carrying their loads was with a, 
pole resting on their shoulder between two men, the 
load often weighing two hundred and fifty pounds. 
The Chinese have always been much dishked in San 
Francisco. This made no difference. When it came 
to the bread line no favor was shown that the Chi- 
nese did not share, but in all cases each man and 
woman took care of his and her belongings. 

A mother lying on a bundle not twenty feet away 
got up every few minutes and raised a lace curtain 
that had been thrown over a baby carriage in which 
a child was sleeping. She did not disturb it and lay 
down again on her bundle. She and the baby had 
been separated from the husband and father. 

When we started again at one o'clock I realized 
what the thirty hours had carried me through. Had 
I known the sights and scenes of misery I would en- 
counter in reaching a place of safety and rest I might 
have hesitated and said : "Not another block." With 
still ten or fifteen miles ahead of us, we walked on 
and came in sight of the towers of the ferry house. 
It seemed we could never reach it through the 
throngs of people of all ages, sexes, colors and con- 
ditions of life. 

Many were lying flat on their backs in the dirt 
with a wrap thrown over their faces, whether dead 

The Marine's Story 145 

or alive we could not tell. As we neared the ferry 
house these scenes increased. People were tugging 
at fallen and burned buildings along the way to res- 
cue the dead or injured. There was no noise. Every 
soul depended upon himself and every one had a 
serious task to take care of himself or herself and 
their children. 

Down towards the Golden Gate there were many 
government tugs, launches and private boats. These 
were seized upon early in the day. Like many an- 
other not acquainted with the city and its outlets I 
had no such easy way of reaching Oakland across 
the bay or the islands. I had lost Mr. Cartan and 
all the acquaintances I had in the great crowd. Busi- 
ness of all kinds was suspended by nine a. m. Peo- 
ple generally felt that the city was doomed and all 
that could be saved must be carried on their backs. 


One arm was buttoned under his overcoat. A 
handsome, intelligent looking chap, came over to 
me at the station in Oakland, where I was waiting 
to take the train for the east, and said: "Ain't we 
in luck to have plenty of good grub before us?" 

"Tell me, what accident befell you?" I asked. 

"I was on duty," said the marine, "between the 
Grand and Palace hotels. A squad of marines just 
arrived and I was to be relieved when somebody 
said : 'Look at the Httle girl up in the window.' Three 
stories above in the Palace hotel, the glare of fire 
had already begun to show through the glass of 

146 The Marine's Story 

every window. The boys bunched up and made a 
ladder and put me on top, because I was going off 
duty. I kicked the window glass in, gathered all the 
bed clothing I could, wrapped it about the young 
girl and started back. Just then 300 pounds of dyna- 
mite was exploded a block east and we were blown 
out of the window and fell on the tangled telephone 
and telegraph wires. Someone carried the girl away, 
uninjured. In the fall, my shoulder blade was broken 
and this arm broken twice. I just now came from 
the hospital and have thirty days off and came to 
see a chum going east." 

The entire depot was in possession of the Relief 
committee. Girls, young and old, mothers and the 
best of humanity were there to offer every living 
human being, who would ask for it, coffee and sand- 
wiches. They were offered to me a dozen times, but 
notwithstanding my being short of money I was not 
penniless, and not likely to get into the "bread line." 

In Oakland, money was money. A letter of credit, 
drafts on banks or anything usually recognized as 
money would not get you one penny, or buy a meal. 
I had agreed to pay the fare of a young man who 
had helped to "pull me through" the long night's 
walk to Oakland, as far as Omaha. 

"If I could get New York drafts cashed, at the 
ticket office," I said to the agent, "I have a New 
York draft for $100.00. Give me a ticket to Omaha 
(the price of which was about $80.00), and the bal- 
ance in currency." 

"Nothing but cash will buy a ticket of any kind 
for any distance. This is our order," said the agent. 

The Marine's Story 147 

As I turned away a gentleman tapped me on the 
arm and said : 

''My friend, I heard all of the common sense you 
told that agent, I'll cash your draft." 

"Then come up town with me and let me convince 
you that you are taking no risk, and I will be glad 
to accept the kindness," I replied. 

John T. Bell, who recently published The Omaha 
Mercury, was the only man I knew in Oakland and 
to him and to his most estimable wife, who was a 
Miss McClandish, brought up in Omaha, I am ever- 
lastingly grateful, for their kind hospitality and the 
efforts of Mr. Bell to help me "pull through." Mr, 
Bell was in his real estate office and to the stranger 
accompanying me said all the things necessary to 
convince anyone of the truth of my "tale of woe." 
Meanwhile the stranger counted out five twenty- 
dollar gold pieces and asked me to endorse the draft. 
"I am satisfied," he said. 

This gentleman positively refused to accept one 
cent for exchange or any pay whatever for. his kind- 
ness in helping me out of a serious dilemma. His 

name and address is 

and if he ever travels my way I 

will try and convince him that his great kindness 
to me, under circumstances that seldom befall a man 
in a lifetime, is not forgotten. 


After the battle of Beaver creek, the command 
was marched to Fort Wallace, Kansas, where it re- 
mained for several days refitting and organizing 
pack trains preparatory to operations during the 
coming winter in accordance with orders from Ma- 
jor General P. H. Sheridan, commanding the de- 
partment of the Missouri, who planned this cam- 
paign, which was carried out under his personal di- 
rection. It included columns from three different 
points, the Seventh cavalry commanded by Brevet 
Major General George A. Custer to operate from 
Camp Supply, Indian Territory; the Third cavalry 
under Major Evans to operate from Fort Bascom, 
New Mexico; the Fifth cavalry under Brevet Major 
General E. A. Carr from Fort Lyon, Colorado, and 
a flying column under Brevet Brigadier General 
Penrose, Captain Third infantry, also from Fort 
Lyon. These columns were expected to converge 
toward a point known as "the Antelope hills" near 
the Washita river, the object being to close in on the 
hostile Commanches, Kiowas, Arapahoes and Chey- 
ennes known to be in fbrce on the Washita river 
and its tributaries north of Texas, in vvhat is norw 

(Note — The above graphic story was written for this 
volume by Brlgkdler General Hayes, an old and closb friend 
of the ailthor, at hid .earnest solicitation, Hayes county, 
Nebraska;, 'was nataed for General ("Captain Jack") Hayes, 
in alppr^cikUpn of, his ^erVlfces in ,!riddlns the We^erti l^afi^ df 
Kfebi'aW^ frbni hb'jstlle Inaiatt^.'— k r. 6.) 

The Battle of Summit Springs, Neb. 149 

known as Oklahoma. General Carr's command 
reached Fort Lyon late in December, 1868, and 
after a few days' rest there, followed on the trail of 
the flying column under General Penrose. This 
column had preceded General Carr's command about 
ten days or two weeks, but, through the inexperi- 
ence of his scouts and trailers, had become lost and 
failing to communicate with headquarters caused 
grave concern. The trail made by General Penrose 
was erratic and over exceedingly rough country, al- 
most impassable for wagons, his supplies being car- 
ried on pack mules. 

The weather was cold and fuel scarce on this 
march and much suffering was caused thereby. 
General Penrose's trail at times being so indistinct 
that it was hard to follow, but after much difficulty 
his command was overtaken in camp where it had 
been for several days so broken down as to be unfit 
for service and unable to move and practically out 
of rations. After furnishing the needed supplies, 
the combined command under General Carr was 
marched south to the Canadian river, which was 
reached in a heavy snow storm Here was dis- 
covered the trail of Major Evans' command follow- 
ing the river in an easterly course in the direction 
of Antelope hills where we later learned he had 
struck the Indians and gained a brilliant victory. 
General Custer with his column also struck the In- 
dians further east and fought and Won the historic 
battle of the Wishita. General Carres command, 
hoWeVer, failed to comfe in cbnt'att with any Indians 
and after Spending th^ wintW Scouling returned to 
Fdr't Lydn, Cbrdralfdi fe'ariy in the fepring b\ 1869. 

150 The Battle of Summit Springs, Neb. 

From there I took advantage of a leave of absence 
to visit my family, and rejoined the regiment at 
Fort McPherson, Nebraska, May, 1869. During my 
absence, the regiment had been transferred from 
the department of the Missouri to the Department 
of the Platte, and en route to join its new station. 
Fort McPherson, Nebraska, had a successful en- 
counter with a hostile band of Sioux Indians not far 
from the fort. 

Early in June, 1869, the Republican river expedi- 
dition under Brevet Major General Carr — of whicli 
I was its acting quartermaster and commissary — 
consisting of seven troops of the Fifth cavalry and 
a batallion of friendly Pawnee Indians — the latter 
under Major Frank North, an experienced Indian 
fighter — left Fort McPherson to operate against 
renegade Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians, 
known as "Dog Soldiers," and led by the fierce and 
savage chief. Tall Bull, who had been creating terror 
and dismay amongst the settlers living in the ex- 
posed counties of Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado, 
and was the scourge of that whole territory, cap- 
turing and killing women and children and in many 
instances torturing them in the most fiendish man- 
ner. General Carr, who was selected to follow and 
chastise these Indians, was a noted Indian fighter, 
with a thorough knowledge of Indian character and 
methods. He had served against Indians for many 
years prior to and subsequent to the civil war. No 
better commander could have been chosen. 

The trail of the Indians was picked up in a few 
dayfe .and Was. follbVeii. persistently and with ex* 
cellent judgBient liniil the Indians' fears Were par- 

The Battle of Summit Springs, Neb. 151 

tially allayed and they became careless in their 
watchfulness. This resulted in giving General Carr 
his opportunity, when cutting loose from his wagon 
trains, by forced marches night and day, he sur- 
prised their main camp at Summit Springs, Ne- 
braska, in broad daylight, July 11, 1869, — something 
almost unprecedented in Indian warfare, especially 
on the plains. This result was due in a great 
measure to the daring and guidance of Colonel Wil- 
liam F. Cody— ''Buffalo Bill"— chief of scouts, who 
discovered the village and led the troops to the po- 
sition they were to occupy in the attack without the 
knowledge of the Indians. This was considered the 
greatest of the many achievements of this wonderful 
scout. In the unexpected charge on them which fol- 
lowed, the Indians became more or less scattered and 
in consequence the fighting was of the "hand to 
hand" order and continued for some time in the 
village and over the prairie, ending in a complete vic- 
tory for the troops, the death of Tall Bull and sixty- 
five or seventy of his chief warriors, the destruction 
of the village and capture of the squaws and children 
and hundreds of ponies, etc., and also the rescue of 
two white women captives who had been toma- 
hawked by the squaws. One soon died, but the other 
ultimately recovered. The command remained a 
day on the battlefield and then proceeded with the 
captured prisoners and animals to the nearest mili- 
tary post on the line of the Union Pacific railroad 
for further instructions and additional supplies. 

Summit Springs, the scene of this engagement, 
was a noted camping ground for immigrant and gov- 
ernment teams on the overland trail to California, 

152 The Battle of Summit Springs, Neb. 

and was located near the Platte river on the west 
boundary line between Colorado and Nebraska, the 
conformation being basin-shaped with a high rim 
surrounding which concealed the spring from ob- 

This campaign and engagement resulted in ridding 
the frontier borders of these states of hostile Indians 
and bringing peace to the distracted settlers. 

Brigadier General U. S. A.