Skip to main content

Full text of "Beyond the old frontier : adventures of Indian-fighters, hunters, and fur-traders"

See other formats





Presented to the 


by the 



Digitized by tine Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 


Beyond the Old Frontier. Adventures of Indian 
Fighters, Hunters, and Fur Traders. By Georgk 
Bird Grinnell. 

Missionary Explorers Among the American 
Indians. Edited by Mary Gay Humphreys. 

True Tales of Arctic Heroism in the New 
World. By A. W. Greely. 

The Boy's Catltn. My Life Among the Indians, 
by George Catun. Edited by Mary Gay Hum- 

The Boy's Hakluyt. English Voyages of Advent- 
ure and Discovery, retold from Hakluyt by Edwim 
M. Bacon. 

The Boy's Drake. By Edwin M. Bacon. 

Trails of the Pathfinders. By George Birt- 

Zebulon M. Pike. Edited by Mary Gay Hum- 
Each Volume lUustraied. 12mo. Net $1.50 


















Copyright, 1913, by 

Published September, 1913 

.y "^ 




To-day the vast territory lying between the Mississippi 
River and the Pacific Ocean is occupied by many millions 
of people. Fifty years ago, except on the Pacific slope, it 
had few white inhabitants. Then it was the Far West, be- 
yond the frontier, the Indian country — the unknown. A 
journey into it was believed to be full of peril. In the minds 
of the general public it was as far away as Central China is 

Beyond the great river which bounded it on the east was 
a fringe of settlements. Scattered through the more distant 
country were the trading-posts to which the trapper brought 
his furs. Forts Garry, Benton, Union, Laramie, Bridger, and 
Bent were some of these. There were a few army posts, and 
as time went on others were established. 

Gold had been discovered in California, and a wild rush of 
people anxious to better their condition had started across 
the plains, bound for the distant Eldorado. It was a curi- 
ously mixed population that set out on this long journey. 
Farmers from New England, business men and clerks from 
the Middle States, planters and younger sons from the 
South; on foot and on horseback, carrying their possessions, 
large or scanty, in vehicles drawn by horses, mules, oxen, 
and cows, they struggled westward. They endured enor- 
mous toils; perpetually in fear of attacks by Indians, meeting 


vi Preface 

the dangers, delays, and perplexities of wild men, strange 
surroundings, rough travelling, swollen streams, and ex- 
hausted live-stock. 

For many years the roads over which they had passed 
were marked by the skeletons of animals, by broken-down 
wagons, by furniture and household goods, thrown away to 
lighten the loads dragged by their feeble teams. Along these 
deep-worn roads were the graves of those who had perished 
on the way; sometimes mere mounds of earth, hardly show- 
ing on the level prairie, or perhaps marked by a bit of board 
thrust in the ground, bearing a pencilled name and date, 
which the winter's storms would soon obliterate. 

Gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains. The vil- 
lage of Denver was established, and along the mountain 
streams the prospector worked with pick and shovel and pan, 
and wore away his strength and his courage in hunting for 
the gold that often he did not find. Montana also began to 
yield gold, and Salmon River and Alder Gulch were at the 
beginnings of their fame. Steam-boat traffic on the upper 
Missouri River, at first established for the transportation of 
furs, gave easy access to the Montana mines. Stages were 
running across the continent, and the pony express had been 

Between 1853 and 1863 the plains and mountains of the 
West began to receive a sedentary population and to prepare 
for that startling development which began about a genera- 
tion later. 

To most people who now inhabit the Western country the 
struggles of those early years are still unknown. Industri- 
ous, energetic, fertile in resources, they live their lives without 
a thought of the distant past, without considering the con- 

Preface vii 

ditions which made possible existence as it is to-day. They 
are sturdy Americans absorbed in the diverse problems which 
they have to meet, and, with astonishing success, devoting 
themselves to the solution of those problems. This is as it 
should be, yet it is worth while from time to time to take a 
look backward, and to consider what those endured who went 
before us. To most of us our own life is almost the only 
struggle worth considering, and wrapped up in our personal 
affairs, we do not remember the stupendous difficulties faced 
by our forebears, who conquered this country and made pos- 
sible its development, and the ease and luxury in which we 
to-day have a part. 

Not many years ago a change began to take place in 
the view-point of many Americans. Far-sighted men and 
women came to feel that the history made by their fathers 
and mothers was worth preserving, and they began to write 
and talk about this. What they said fell on sympathetic 
ears, and interest was easily aroused, so that before long in 
many of the Western States historical societies were estab- 
lished, and earnest men gave time and effort to the work of 
inducing the early settlers to set down their recollections — 
to describe the events in which they had taken part. Later 
came the marking of historic spots and trails by monuments. 

To-day the historical societies of many Western States 
issue each year a volume filled with material of great interest 
— matter that will be of enormous value to the historian who 
shall set down the story of the development of the West. 

Since the accounts which appear in the following pages 
have to do with a country then unknown, the explorers who 
penetrated it faced new conditions and met new and primi- 
tive peoples. To subsist in these unknown lands they were 

viii Preface 

forced to hunt its animals, and the purpose which led them 
so far afield was the trading for furs. The book thus deals 
with a number of cognate subjects, with exploration, hunt- 
ing, the taking of fur, and Indians in peace and war; and in 
any or all of these there is excitement and interest enough. 

Let us look back at some of the happenings in this forgotten 
West, which is now again being remembered. 



An Early Fur Trader i 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 39 

When Beaver Skins were Money 125 

George Frederick Ruxton, Hunter 191 

A Boy in Indian Camps 235 

The Solitary Hunter 275 

The Council at Fort Benton 323 

Index 365 


Among the Buffalo Frontispiece 


Astoria 12 


Fort Mackenzie 34 

Black Beaver, Delaware Scout 130 

George Bent 130 

Plan of Bent's Old Fort 134 

General S. W. Kearny 162 

Kit Carson 164 

Indian Signalling "Buffalo Discovered" . . . 222 

Skinning a Buffalo 232 

Buffalo Herd near Lake Jessie, Upper Missouri 

River 244 

A Cheyenne Indian Camp 258 

"Bison and Bull, now in Mortal Combat, Met 
Midway with a Shock that Made the Earth 

Tremble" 294 

Ishmah, the Travois Dog 302 


xii Illustrations 


"Just as He Was Putting a Copper Cap on the 

Nipple the Bear Rose on Her Hind Legs". 316 

William T. Hamilton 326 

A Distribution of Goods to the Gros Ventres . 356 


The Frontier Country 2 






< • .^Vir ^^ 

d frr ; 



^ ^ 

i .--^ --c/H 

\ ^ 

V »\ 

> V " -A 



ONE hundred years ago little more was known of 
the Pacific coast than that the land ended at 
the edge of the wide ocean, already furrowed 
by the keels of explorers, whalers, and traders. 

On the north, Alexander McKenzie had reached the 
salt water, and a dozen years later Lewis and Clark 
had come to the mouth of the Columbia. A few years 
after that came the Astor settlement at Astoria, soon 
— in 1 8 13 — to be handed over to the British, to the 
Northwest Company, which remained in control there 
until its consolidation with the Hudson Bay Company 
in 1821. 

One of the first commercial adventurers to the 
Columbia River, and one of the first men engaged by 
John Jacob Astor for his far western fur-trading expe- 
ditions, was Alexander Ross, a Scotchman, who came 
to Canada in early life, spent more than forty-four 
years in the fur trade, and finally died in the Red River 
settlement in 1856. UnHke most fur traders, he had 
the energy and the interest, in the later years of his 
life, to set down an account of what he had seen and 
done during those early years of anxiety, hard work, 


Beyond the Old Frontier 

and success. His story "is not an arm-chair narrative 
derived from hearsay tales, but the result of practical 
experience on the spot." During most of the time 
while engaged in trading with the savage tribes west 
of the Rocky Mountains he was a leader; and the 
success or failure of his expeditions — often the lives of 
his men and himself — depended on what he thought, 
did, and said. He was a man of high courage, unfail- 
ing energy, and close observation. His was serious 
work, yet he possessed some sense of humor, which, 
however, he allows to appear only now and then in his 
books. As a close observer stationed in the midst of 
things and admirably acquainted with conditions, he 
saw the blunders made by Mr. Astor and criticised 
them freely; yet he was always loyal to his chief, and 
speaks with apparent contempt of those other men of 
the north, hired by Mr. Astor for their great experi- 
ence in the fur trade, who, when the War of 1812 broke 
out and the Northwesters descended on Astoria, seemed 
glad to desert their employer and to renew their alle- 
giance to the company that they had left for Astor's 
higher pay and greater privileges. 

Ross wrote three books which are extraordinarily 
full of information, and most useful as accurate descrip- 
tions of early conditions in the country which is now 
the Northwestern United States. These are Advent- 
ures on the Oregon or Columbia River, Fur Hunters of 
the Far West, and, finally, an account of The Red River 
Settlement, These three books give us in more or less 

An Early Fur Trader 

connected form a history of the Columbia River and 
the region about Old Fort Garry — now Winnipeg — a 
history far better than anything that has ever been set 

The first book deals chiefly with the history of Mr. 
Astor's enterprise from its beginning in 1809 until the 
taking over of the trading-post by the Northwest 
Company, the change of name to Fort George, the 
sale of the property of the Astor Company, and the 
departure on April 3, 18 14, of Mr. Hunt, Astor's rep- 
resentative, and the few men that went with him. 
After this, the Pacific Fur Company now being at an 
end, Ross, Cox, and McLellan entered the service of the 
Northwest Company. 

The American Fur Company, established by Mr. 
Astor, began operations in 1809. One after another, 
other fur-trading companies were absorbed, until Astor 
saw himself at the head of all the fur trade south of 
Canada, with the possible hope of reaching out for the 
trade of the northern country east of the Rocky Moun- 
tains. West of that range was a vast field as yet almost 
untouched. True, the Russians had trading-posts in 
what was then Russian America, and sent the furs 
gathered there direct to China. True, also, that some 
American coasting vessels on the Pacific secured a few 
furs which they took to China, but this hardly touched 
the possibilities of half a continent. Astor clearly saw 
that, if systematized and carefully managed, this desul- 
tory traffic would be enormously profitable, and this led 

Beyond the Old Frontier 

him to organize the Pacific Fur Company, the chief 
station of which was to be at the mouth of the Columbia 
River. That station might be connected with others 
on the Atlantic water-shed by a chain of trading-posts 
across the continent, and such a combination, he be- 
lieved, would control the whole American fur trade. 
Furs could be shipped in either direction — down the 
Missouri, eastward; or to the west, down the Oregon, 
to go to China. 

Understanding the wide experience of the northern 
fur traders, and with a view also to lessening the fric- 
tion which might exist between the British and the 
American governments along the border, Astor engaged 
as field-workers for this far western service a number 
of the retired partners of the Northwest Company. 
Such men as McKay, McKenzie, McDougall, and 
Stuart were glad to become interested with him in the 
enterprise. Astor furnished the capital, amounting to 
two hundred thousand dollars; there were ten partners. 
The agreement was for a period of twenty years, with 
the proviso that if the project proved impractical or 
unprofitable after five years it might be dissolved. 
For these first five years, however, Astor was to bear all 
the expenses and losses, the other partners furnishing 
only their time and labor. The nine partners outside 
of Mr. Astor and Mr. Hunt each held four shares of the 
stock of two thousand dollars each, while Astor held 
fifty, and Hunt, as his representative and chief man- 
ager, five. The remaining shares were reserved for 

An Early Fur Trader 

such clerks as might join the concern as adventurers, 
without other remuneration than their chances of suc- 
cess at the end of five years' trial. As was natural, 
Astor controlled the enterprise. His manager was Wil- 
son Price Hunt, a man wholly without experience in 
the Indian trade, but energetic, active, and persevering. 

Ross learned of the project from Mr. McKay, who 
asked him to go to Montreal to talk about the matter. 
Ross was asked to join the expedition, and was the first 
one to do so, and with Robert Stuart made so good a 
bargain that these two were promised their promotion 
at the end of three years. Soon after the arrangements 
were completed a party under Mr. Hunt started across 
the continent overland, while another party headed by 
McKay sailed, September lo, 1810, for the mouth of 
the Columbia River. 

The sorrows of that voyage have often been described. 
Captain Thorn, in command of the "Tonquin," ap- 
pears to have been a man impossible to get along with. 
They went around the Horn, touched at the Sandwich 
Islands, and at last reached the mouth of the Columbia 
River. There had been continual quarrels between 
the captain, his passengers, and the officers of the ship. 

At last, however, the "Tonquin" was off the mouth 
of the Columbia River, a rough and stormy spot, of 
many sand-bars and high surf, and the weather was 
worse in spring than at any other time of the year. It 
was now March or April. Here there was constant 
mismanagement; boats were sent out to reconnoitre, 

8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

and people were lost; the ship two or three times struck 
the bottom, became unmanageable, and was finally 
carried by the tide into Baker's Bay. There, sheltered 
from the sea, it was safe. 

The fur traders got ashore and began to look for the 
missing boats and men. During this journey Ross 
learned something about the Indians' management of 
their canoes. 

'*We had on this occasion a specimen of Chinooke 
navigation. While crossing the river in an Indian 
canoe, on our way back to the ship, we were suddenly 
overtaken by a storm, and our craft was upset in the 
middle of the passage. The expertness of the natives 
in their favorite element was here put to the test. At 
this time we were upwards of two miles from the shore, 
while eight persons unable to swim were floating in 
every direction; coats, hats, and everything else adrift, 
and all depending on the fidelity of the four Indians 
who undertook to carry us over; yet, notwithstanding 
the roughness of the water, and the wind blowing a gale 
at the time, these poor fellows kept swimming about 
like so many fishes, righted the canoe, and got us all 
into her again, while they themselves staid in the water, 
with one hand on the canoe and the other paddhng. 
In this manner they supported themselves, tossing to 
and fro, till we bailed the water out of our frail craft, and 
got under way again. Here it was that the Indians 
showed the skill and dexterity peculiar to them. The 
instant the canoe rose on the top of a wave, those on the 

An Early Fur Trader 

windward side darted down their long paddles to the 
armpits in the water to prevent her from upsetting; 
while those on the leeside at the same moment pulled 
theirs up, but kept ready as soon as the wave had passed 
under her to thrust them down again in a similar man- 
ner, and thus by their alternate movements they kept 
the canoe steady, so that we got safe to shore without 
another upset, and with the loss of only a few articles 
of clothing; but we suffered severely from wet and cold. 

** During this time the Indians from the village which 
we had left, seeing our critical situation, had manned 
and sent off two canoes to our assistance. One of the 
boats from the ship was also despatched for the same 
purpose; but all would have proved too late had we 
not been fortunate enough of ourselves to weather 
the storm.*' 

A few days after this the long boat was swamped off 
Chinook Point, and ten persons were saved by these 

The fur traders and their property being at last 
ashore, they began to look about for a place where 
their fort should be built. The site selected was a 
knoll about twelve miles from the mouth of the inlet, 
and between Point George on the west and Tonquin 
Point on the east. They went about their work with 
dogged energy, but not cheerfully. They were glad to 
be on shore and free from the tyranny of Captain 
Thorn, but saddened by the misfortunes they had 
met with — the loss of the men in landing. 

lo Beyond the Old Frontier 

Duncan McDougall, an old Northwester, was in 
command. He was a man of great experience, but 
Ross calls him a man of only ordinary capacity and 
unfit to command men. He became famous some years 
later by having the credit of conniving with the North- 
west Company to swindle Mr. Astor out of most of 
his property at Astoria. 

The little company that settled down in a new coun- 
try amid wholly unaccustomed surroundings had before 
it a difficult — almost an impossible — task. 

"The place thus selected for the emporium of the 
west, might challenge the whole continent to produce 
a spot of equal extent presenting more difficulties to 
the settler: studded with gigantic trees of almost 
incredible size, many of them measuring fifty feet in 
girth, and so close together, and intermingled with 
huge rocks, as to make it a work of no ordinary labour 
to level and clear the ground. With this task before 
us, every man, from the highest to the lowest, was 
armed with an axe in one hand and a gun in the other; 
the former for attacking the woods, the latter for de- 
fence against the savage hordes which were constantly 
prowling about. In the garb of labourers, and in the 
sweat of our brow, we now commenced earning our 
bread. In this manner we all kept toiling and tearing 
away, from sunrise till sunset — from Monday till 
Saturday; and during the nights we kept watch with- 
out intermission. . . . 

"Many of the party had never handled an axe be- 

An Early Fur Trader 1 1 

fore, and but few of them knew how to use a gun, but 
necessity, the mother of invention, soon taught us 
both. After placing our guns in some secure place at 
hand, and viewing the height and the breadth of the 
tree to be cut down, the party, with some labour, would 
erect a scaffold round it; this done, four men — for that 
was the number appointed to each of those huge trees — 
would then mount the scaffold, and commence cutting, 
at the height of eight or ten feet from the ground, the 
handles of our axes varying, according to circumstances, 
from two and a half to five feet in length. At every 
other stroke, a look was cast round, to see that all was 
safe; but the least rustling among the bushes caused a 
general stop; more or less time was thus lost in anxious 
suspense. After listening and looking round, the party 
resumed their labour, cutting and looking about alter- 
nately. In this manner the day would be spent, and 
often to little purpose: as night often set in before the 
tree begun with in the morning was half cut down. 
Indeed, it sometimes required two days, or more, to 
fell one tree; but when nearly cut through, it would be 
viewed fifty different times, and from as many different 
positions, to ascertain where it was likely to fall, and 
to warn parties of the danger." 

The labor that they had undertaken was hard and 
unceasing, the climate one of constant rains and fogs, 
the food was merely fish and wild roots; the Indians 
were so troublesome that in two months three of their 
men had been killed by them, others wounded by the 

12 Beyond the Old Frontier 

fall of trees, and one had his hand blown off by gun- 
powder. All this produced discontent — four men de- 
serted and were captured by the Indians, and a Httle 
later six more deserted, but were brought back by a 
friendly Indian. 

Food and shelter were scanty and poor in quality. 
Heretofore all remonstrances to the man in command 
had received no attention, but at last even he realized 
the situation and distributed tents among the sick, and 
made some effort to improve the food. 

As time passed and the white men began to learn 
something of the Chinook nature, it was discovered that 
these people, their immediate neighbors, had been tell- 
ing the more distant Indians that the white men were 
enemies, just as they had been telHng the white people 
that these distant tribes were enemies. The result of 
this was that the Chinooks were purchasing furs from 
the distant tribes and selling them to the traders at a 
handsome profit. As soon as this discovery was made, 
parties were sent out to learn something of these more 
distant tribes, to gain their confidence and to discover 
what they could about the country farther off. These 
parties, though often in danger, finally succeeded in 
estabHshing friendly relations with those other tribes, 
but for a long time the impression given by the Chi- 
nooks did not wear off. 

It was in May that they laid the foundation of their 
first building and named the estabhshment Astoria, 
in honor of the projector of the enterprise. The labor 

An Early Fur Trader 13 

of building was extraordinary, for it was impossible 
for them to use the enormous trees close to the fort, 
and they were obliged to go back into the interior to 
find logs small enough for building. These logs were 
transported on their shoulders, or dragged along over 
the ground, and this last method was so effective that 
in six days eight men harnessed as a team brought to 
the site all the timber required for a building sixty 
feet long by twenty-six feet broad. 

On the first of June the "Tonquin" left Astoria for a 
trading voyage to the north. She carried with her 
most of her cargo, only a little having been landed, the 
captain intending to complete the unloading on his 
return. A little later the ship was captured by the 
Indians and with all on board blown up, and the whole 
crew — among them McKay — were lost, and, of course, 
the cargo destroyed. 

In mid-July the post received a visit from Mr. 
Thompson, a Northwester, who came down the Co- 
lumbia in a light canoe with a crew of men, chiefly from 
Montreal. McDougall received him with great cord- 
iality, somewhat to the astonishment of the former 
Northwesters, who, now in the service of the Pacific 
Fur Company, regarded the Northwesters as rivals, 
and so enemies. Toward the end of July a small ex- 
pedition, fitted out with the view of establishing a trad- 
ing-post in the interior, started up the Columbia River 
in company with the returning Mr. Thompson. Un- 
derstanding very little about navigation and these new 

14 Beyond the Old Frontier 

waters, and as little about the management of the Chi- 
nook canoe, the first day of their travel was one of con- 
stant toil, striving to avoid the dangers of running 
aground on sand-banks and of being thrown on the 
shore. During the next few days they passed Bellevue 
Point and Point Vancouver, and at the foot of the Cas- 
cades they found a great body of Indians waiting for 
them to talk and to smoke. The labor of the portage 
was extreme, and the Indians played all sorts of tricks 
on the white men, evidently trying to see just how far 
they would be allowed to go. Here is an example: 

"Not being accustomed myself to carry, I had of 
course, as well as some others, to stand sentinel; but 
seeing the rest almost wearied to death, I took hold of 
a roll of tobacco, and after adjusting it on my shoulder, 
and holding it fast with one hand, I moved on to ascend 
the first bank; at the top of which, however, I stood 
breathless, and could proceed no farther. In this awk- 
ward pHght, I met an Indian, and made signs to him to 
convey the tobacco across, and that I would give him 
all the buttons on my coat; but he shook his head and 
refused. Thinking the fellow did not understand me, 
I threw the tobacco down, and pointing to the buttons 
one by one, at last he consented, and off he set at a full 
trot, and I after him; but just as we had reached his 
camp at the other end, he pitched it down a precipice of 
two hundred feet in height, and left me to recover it the 
best way I could. Off I started after my tobacco; and if 
I was out of breath after getting up the first bank, I was 

An Early Fur Trader 15 

ten times more so now. During my scrambling among 
the rocks to recover my tobacco, not only the wag that 
played me the trick, but fifty others, indulged in a 
hearty laugh at my expense; but the best of it was, the 
fellow came for his payment, and wished to get not only 
the buttons but the coat along with them. I was for 
giving him — what he richly deserved — buttons of 
another mould; but peace in our present situation was 
deemed the better policy: so the rogue got the buttons, 
and we saw him no more." 

At the end of the month Thompson left them to 
hurry on eastward, and in the first days of August they 
reached a point on the river where they met horse 
Indians in considerable numbers. With these people 
they arranged to have the goods carried over the port- 
age, and the Indians accepted the offer, and were so 
swift to do it that "in less than ten minutes after the 
whole cavalcade, goods and all, disappeared, leaving us 
standing in suspense and amazement." However, at 
the other end of the portage the property was found 
safe and the chiefs were guarding it. Nevertheless, 
that night was passed by the traders in some alarm, but 
the danger, whatever it was, was put ofF when they per- 
suaded the chiefs of the Indians to come and sit within 
their circle, and to harangue to their people during 
the night. 

This portage was nine miles long, and, although their 
goods had been transported, the canoes and the canoe 
tackle, boats, and cooking utensils remained to be car- 

i6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

ried over. Four times daily they had to make this 
journey, heavily loaded, under a burning sun. 

The main camp of the Indians here was fully occu- 
pied only during the salmon season, at which time it 
held about three thousand people, but the constant in- 
habitants did not exceed one hundred persons, whom 
Ross called Wy-am-pams, a tribe of Shahaptin stock. 
These horse Indians were without doubt Nez-Perces or 
their representatives. 

The traders had no choice of roads in getting into 
the country; and in following up the Columbia River 
they followed the course of the salmon, on which the 
Indians depended for food, and came to camp after 
camp of people, many of whom had never before seen 
white men. By August 8 they had trouble. The 
canoes, sailing with a fair wind, were overtaken by a 
squall, and everything was wet. Very incautiously 
they commenced to spread out these wet things to dry 
them, and were at once surrounded by covetous Indians. 
They lost no time in bundHng their stuff together and 
putting it into the canoes, and, *'in order to amuse for a 
moment, and to attract the attention of the crowd, I laid 
hold of an axe, and set it up at the distance of eighty 
yards, then taking up my rifle, drove a ball through 
it." This manoeuvre was successful, and while the 
Indians were staring at the marvel the canoes got off. 
Near the mouth of the Walla Walla the traders dis- 
covered a large body of men coming toward them, 
all armed and painted and preceded by three chiefs. 

An Early Fur Trader 17 

who made elaborate speeches and smoked with them. 
These were various tribes of Shahaptin stock, fine peo- 
ple, well dressed and possessed of many horses, four 
thousand being within sight of the camp. They were 
extremely friendly, and their chief, now and at later 
times, was helpful to the traders. 

The next day they came to the point where the two 
main forks of the Columbia join — Clark's Fork on the 
north and Lewis Fork on the south — and there in the 
midst of the Indian camp stood a British flag, planted by 
Mr. Thompson, who had laid claim to the country north 
of the forks as British territory. He had left with the 
Indians a paper forbidding the subjects of other countries 
to trade north of this point, and the Indians seemed 
disposed to uphold this order. The Astorians wished to 
go up Clark's Fork, and in the afternoon the chiefs held 
a council, at which Ross and Stuart were present, and 
consent to go forward was gained. The people were 
friendly, and Tummatapam, the chief before alluded 
to, was a kindly man and seemed really to Hke the 
fur traders, who treated him very well. 

Journeying up the North Fork, they were overtaken 
after a time by three mounted Walla Walla Indians, 
who gave them a bag of shot which they had left be- 
hind at their encampment of the night before; but on 
this day they saw only a few Indians and set no guard 
at night. The next day they were early afloat. 

"On the 17th, we were paddling along at daylight. 
On putting on shore to breakfast, four Indians on horse- 

1 8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

back joined us. The moment they ahghted, one set 
about hobbling their horses, another to gather small 
sticks, a third to make a fire, and the fourth to catch 
fish. For this purpose, the fisherman cut ofF a bit of 
his leathern shirt, about the size of a small bean; then 
pulling out two or three hairs from his horse's tail for a 
line, tied the bit of leather to one end of it, in place of 
a hook or fly. Thus prepared, he entered the river a 
little way, sat down on a stone and began throwing the 
small fish, three or four inches long, on shore, just as 
fast as he pleased; and while he was thus employed, 
another picked them up and threw them towards the 
fire while the third stuck them up round it in a circle, on 
small sticks; and they were no sooner up than roasted. 
The fellows then sitting down, swallowed them — heads, 
tails, bones, guts, fins, and all, in no time, just as one 
would swallow the yolk of an egg. Now all this was 
but the work of a few minutes; and before our man 
had his kettle ready for the fire, the Indians were 
already eating their breakfast. When the fish had hold 
of the bit of wet leather, or bait, their teeth got en- 
tangled in it, so as to give time to jerk them on 
shore, which was to us a new mode of angling; fire 
produced by the friction of two bits of wood was also 
a novelty; but what surprised us most of all, was the 
regularity with which they proceeded, and the quick- 
ness of the whole process, which actually took them 
less time to perform, than it has taken me to note it 

An Early Fur Trader 19 

A little later in the day came a pathetic example of 
the simplicity of the Indians and their extraordinary 
belief in the powers of the strange white people, when 
their parents brought to the fur-traders two dead chil- 
dren and asked that they restore them to life, for which 
favor a horse was to be given. At Priest Rapids the 
travellers were met by a large throng of Indians who 
were perfectly friendly, smoked with them, and per- 
formed the usual friendly acts of singing and dancing. 
The journey up the river continued to be strenuous, for 
the current was swift and the rapids many. Horses 
were plentiful here and the Indians were eager to sell 
them, but the traders, travelling by canoe, had no pos- 
sible use for them and declined to purchase any more. 
A day or two after passing the Pisscow River, "the ibex, 
the white musk goat, '' is mentioned, one of the early 
references to this species, and speaking of one of its 
striking characters. Now soon they met with Indians 
who had in their possession a gun, tobacco, and some 
other articles which they said had been purchased from 
white people, no doubt a party of Northwesters. 
The first of September had come, and it was now time 
to look out for winter-quarters, if buildings were to be 
erected which could be occupied during the winter. 
The situation chosen was near the mouth of the 
Oakinacken — Okanagan — River at the end of a range of 
high, rocky, wooded hills. Here a small dwelling-house 
was begun, but before it was finished four men were 
sent back to Astoria, and four others set ofF for the 

20 Beyond the Old Frontier 

head-waters of the Okanagan,^ while Ross himself and 
one small dog called Weasel remained to hold the fort. 

We may imagine that his situation was an uncom- 
fortable one, and he fully appreciated its horrors, "alone 
in this unhallowed wilderness, without friend or white 
man within hundreds of miles of me, surrounded by 
savages who had never seen a white man, where every 
day seemed a week, every night a month. I pined, I 
languished, my head turned gray, and in a brief space 
ten years were added to my age. Yet man is born to 
endure, and my only consolation was in my Bible." 

As soon as the others were gone Ross began to patch 
up the house and put the few goods left him into a kind 
of cellar which he made; then he set to work to learn 
the language of the Indians, and wrote vocabulary after 
vocabulary. The task was hard and wearisome, but 
his progress was encouraging. 

A crowd of inquisitive Indians visited the place to 
see this lonely white man. Ross associated with them, 
traded with them, and at last began to talk to them 
and finally to comprehend their speech, but the even- 
ings were long and the winter dreary. Each night he 
primed his gun and pistol and barricaded his door, and 
the kindly Indians always left the house at dusk. On 
the other hand, the Indians themselves feared attacks 
by enemies, and often gave him to understand that 
there was danger. 

"One night I was suddenly awakened out my sleep 

* Variously spelled to-day, Okanagan, Okinagan, and Okanogan. 

An Early Fur Trader 21 

by the unusual noise and continual barking of Weasel, 
running backwards and forwards through the house. 
Half asleep, half awake, I felt greatly agitated and 
alarmed. My faithful gun and pistol were at hand, for 
they lay always at my side in bed; but then all was 
dark, I could see nothing, could hear nothing but 
the barking of Weasel, which was continually growing 
louder and louder. I then thought there must be some- 
body in the house; for I was ready to put the worst 
construction on appearances. In this perplexing di- 
lemma I got my hand, with as little noise as possible, 
to the muzzle of my gun, and gradually drawing out 
the ramrod, tried, with my right arm stretched out, to 
stir up the embers, so that I might see; but here again 
a new danger presented itself; I was exposing myself as 
a mark to a ball or an arrow, without the chance of 
defending myself, for the light would show me to the 
enemy before I could see my object; but there was no 
alternative, and something must be done. Between 
hope and despair I managed to stir up the ashes, so 
that I could see little Weasel running to and fro to the 
cellar-door. I concluded that the enemy must be 
skulking in the cellar. I then, but not without diffi- 
culty, got a candle lighted. Holding the candle in my 
left hand, I laid hold of my pistol. With the lynx-eye 
and wary step of a cat ready to pounce on its prey, I 
advanced rather obliquely, with my right arm stretched 
out at full length holding the cocked pistol, till I got 
to the cellar-door, the little dog all the while making a 

22 Beyond the Old Frontier 

furious noise; when, lo! what was there but a skunk sit- 
ting on a roll of tobacco! The shot blew it almost to 
atoms, and so delicately perfumed everything in the 
house that I was scarcely able to Hve in it for days 
afterwards; but that was not all, the trivial incident 
was productive of very bad consequences. Several 
hundreds of Indians being encamped about the place 
at the time, no sooner did they see the Hght, or hear 
the shot, than they all rushed into the house, thinking 
something serious had happened. So far, however, 
there were no great harm; but when they beheld two 
rolls of tobacco and two small bales of goods, it ap- 
peared such wealth in their eyes that they could 
scarcely recover from the surprise. These tempting 
articles I had endeavored all along to keep as much 
as possible out of their sight, and dealt them out with 
a sparing hand, and as long as the Indians did not see 
them in bulk all went well; but after the overwhelming 
exhibition of so much property there was no satisfying 
them. They became importunate and troublesome for 
some time, and caused me much anxiety. The time 
fixed for Mr. Stuart's return had now arrived, and I 
most anxiously looked for him every hour. Often had 
I reason to curse the intrusion of the skunk into my 
house. After some time, however, things settled down 
again to their usual level, and good order and good 
feelings were again renewed between us." 

Stuart did not come, and the Indians became more 
bold, and loitered about the place. Strange Indians 

An Early Fur Trader 23 

were constantly arriving, and the Indians held fre- 
quent councils. Ross called a feast and gave the In- 
dians a reason for Stuart's absence, suggesting that 
they should go to work and bring in furs, in order that 
when the goods came they might have something with 
which to buy them. Stuart was gone for 188 days, 
and finally returned March 22, 18 12. During his ab- 
sence Ross had secured 1,550 beaver, besides other furs, 
worth in the Canton market 2,250 pounds sterling and 
costing in the merchandise which had been exchanged 
for them only 35 pounds sterling — "a specimen of our 
trade among the Indians !" 

Stuart had gone north to the head of the Okanagan 
and had crossed over to the south branch of the Fraser 
River and met "a powerful nation called the She 
Whaps." There he had been detained by snow and 
had wintered with these people, among whom he had 
arranged to establish a trading-post. From the post 
at the mouth of the river came bad news. The little 
schooner "Dolly," the frame of which had been sent 
out to Astoria in the "Tonquin," was too small to be 
of any particular service, and being manned by peo- 
ple without much knowledge of seamanship was un- 
lucky from the beginning, and was finally abandoned as 
useless for the purpose of getting about. There was 
complaint also of the quality of the trade goods sent 
out by Mr. Astor, but of all the news that came to 
the people up the river the most important was the 
rumor that the "Tonquin" had been destroyed with 

24 Beyond the Old Frontier 

all on board. The story of this destruction, as told 
by Ross Cox, was given in an earlier volume.' Not 
many tears were shed over the death of Captain Thorn 
at Astoria, we may feel sure, but that McKay should 
have been lost was a real sorrow and a genuine mis- 
fortune, for McKay was a man of great experience 
and of extraordinary force. 

In the meantime, Wilson Price Hunt, Astor's chief 
assistant, Donald McKenzie, and later Ramsay Crooks, 
started from St. Louis to make the journey overland 
to the coast. The original purpose was to strike the 
upper reaches of the Columbia River and go down that 
stream in canoes, but, as the courses and character of 
the river were wholly unknown, all sorts of difficulties 
were encountered, and the canoes were at last aban- 
doned; the expedition split up into different parties, 
and a number of men were lost. At last McKenzie 
reached Astoria January lo, 1812, while Hunt's party 
arrived in February. 

At the end of March parties left Astoria, one under 
Mr. Reed for New York overland, another under Mr. 
Farnham to search for the goods left en cache by Hunt 
on his journey, and a third under Robert Stuart to 
Okanagan with supplies for that post. These all 
started together under the command of Mr. Stuart. 
At the Long Narrows they got into difficulties with 
the Indians, and McLellan killed two Indians and the 
others fled. Trouble was threatening, but peace was at 

* Trails of the PatkfinderSf p. 304. 

An Early Fur Trader 25 

last secured by the gift of six blankets and some other 
trifles. In the melee the despatches which Reed was 
taking to New York were lost, and when they were 
lost that expedition was at an end. 

A little later they were hailed in English by some 
one asking them to come on shore, and when they 
reached the bank they found standing, **like two 
spectres," Crooks and John Day, who had been left 
among the Snake Indians by Mr. Hunt the preceding 
autumn. The story told by these two men was pa- 
thetic enough. They were starving most of the time, 
lived largely on roots, had been robbed of rifles, and 
would inevitably have perished had it not been for a 
good old man who treated them like a father — killed 
a horse to make dried meat for them, and was about 
to start them out on the journey to St. Louis that 
very day, when the canoes hove in sight. 
^' Mr. Stuart rewarded the old man to whom these 
men owed their lives, took them along with him 
and returned to Astoria, where they found the com- 
pany's ship "Beaver" just arriving with a supply of 
goods and reinforcements of men. It was now May, 
and a number of the partners being at Astoria it was 
determined that David Stuart should return to Okan- 
agan, work to the north, and establish another post be- 
tween that and New Caledonia, that McKenzie should 
winter on Snake River, that Clark should winter at 
Spokane, that Robert Stuart should go overland to 
St. Louis with despatches for Mr. Astor, and that Mr. 

26 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Hunt should go with the "Beaver" to the Russian set- 
tlements to the north. Sixty-two persons left Astoria 
for the interior on the 29th of June, it having been 
determined that all the land parties should travel to- 
gether as far as the forks of the Columbia, where 
Lewis River and Clark River come together. These 
land parties were under the command of Mr. Clark. 
Nothing happened until they reached the Cascades, 
where a few arrows were shot at them, but at 
the Long Narrows the Indians were numerous and 
threatening. Mr. Clark, although usually a man of 
nerve, seems to have been frightened by this de- 
monstration, and it required the determination of 
McKenzie and David Stuart to induce him to go for- 
ward. They got through the pass without molesta- 
tion or loss. 

In looking about through an Indian camp, McKen- 
zie and Stuart saw in a lodge of one of the chiefs the 
rifle that had been taken away from Mr. Reed when he 
was wounded, and they were determined to have it. 
As soon as the Narrows had been safely passed, Mc- 
Kenzie took eight men and went direct to the chiefs 
lodge. He put four men at the door and with the 
other four entered and asked for the stolen rifle. The 
chief denied that it was in his lodge. McKenzie asked 
for it again and said he was determined to have it, and 
when it was not given up, he took his knife and began 
to turn over and cut up everything that came in his 
way and at last discovered the rifle, and after scolding 

An Early Fur Trader 27 

the chief returned to the canoes. No time was wasted, 
and the Indians, though gathering in crowds, did noth- 
ing. The next day they camped at a point where 
Crooks and John Day had been robbed of their arms. 
The Indians were friendly enough, and among those 
who flocked about the white men was the one who had 
taken John Day's rifle. He was at once captured and 
tied up, but a Httle later was set free. 

At Walla Walla, Robert Stuart purchased ten horses 
from the Nez-Perces and set out for St. Louis with 
five men, including Messrs. Crooks and McLellan, who 
had resigned from the company. David Stuart went 
up the Okanagan, and Ross remained at the post at 
its mouth, a Scotchman and a French Canadian being 
with him. Later, Ross followed Robert Stuart's route 
of the previous winter, got to the She Whaps, and estab- 
lished a good trade. They paid five leaves of tobacco 
for a beaver skin, and at last when their goods were 
exhausted and Ross had only one yard of white cotton 
remaining, one of the chiefs gave him twenty prime 
beaver skins for it. 

This trading station was at what Ross calls Come- 
loups — of course, the Kamloops of our day. 

On his return from this trip, Ross was formally ap- 
pointed to the post of Okanagan, although, as a matter 
of fact, he had been in charge of it since its establish- 
ment. In early December he went to Fort Spokane, 
where he met Mr. Clark, who was in charge of a post 
there, and an opposition post of the Northwest Com- 

28 Beyond the Old Frontier 

pany was close by. The poHtics and secret quarrels 
of the two companies, each striving to get the most 
fur, were constant — and, of course, were not hidden 
from the Indians, who in every way strove to play on 
the traders tricks similar to those played on them. 
Ross left Spokane Fort a few days later, and on his 
way home had one of those experiences that so often 
came to travellers in those old days and that have so 
often proved fatal. 

"In the evening of the 13th, not far from home, as 
we were ascending a very steep hill, at the top of which 
is a vast plain, I and my man had to walk, leaving our 
horses to shift for themselves, and climb up as they 
could; and so steep and intricate were the windings 
that I had to throw off my coat, which, together with 
my gun, I laid on one of the pack-horses. The moment 
we reached the top, and before we could gather our 
horses or look about us, we were overtaken by a tre- 
mendous cold snow storm; the sun became instantly 
obscured, and the wind blew a hurricane. We were 
taken by surprise. I immediately called out to the 
men to shift for themselves, and let the horses do the 
same. Just at this moment I accidentally came in 
contact with one of the loaded horses, for such was 
the darkness that we could not see three feet ahead; 
but, unfortunately, it was not the horse on which I 
had laid my coat and gun. I instantly cut the tyings, 
threw off the load, and mounting on the pack-saddle, 
rode off at full speed through the deep snow, in the 

An Early Fur Trader 29 

hopes of reaching a well-known place of shelter not 
far off; but in the darkness and confusion I missed the 
place, and at last got so benumbed with cold that I 
could ride no farther; and, besides, my horse was 
almost exhausted. In this plight I dismounted and 
took to walking, in order to warm myself. But no 
place of shelter was to be found. Night came on; the 
storm increased in violence; my horse gave up; and I 
myself was so exhausted, wandering through the deep 
snow, that I could go no further. Here I halted, 
unable to decide what to do. My situation appeared 
desperate: without my coat; without my gun; without 
even a fire-steel. In such a situation I must perish. 
At last I resolved on digging a hole in the snow; but 
in trying to do so, I was several times in danger of 
being suffocated with the drift and eddy. In this di- 
lemma I unsaddled my horse, which stood motionless 
as a statue in the snow. I put the saddle under me, 
and the saddle-cloth, about the size of a handkerchief, 
round my shoulders, then squatted down in the dismal 
hole, more Hkely to prove my grave than a shelter. 
On entering the hole I said to myself, * Keep awake and 
live; sleep and die.' I had not been long, however, 
in this dismal burrow before the cold, notwithstanding 
my utmost exertions to keep my feet warm, gained so 
fast upon me that I was obliged to take off my shoes, 
then pull my trousers, by little and little, over my 
feet, till at last I had the waistband round my toes; 
and all would not do. I was now reduced to the last 

30 Beyond the Old Frontier 

shift, and tried to keep my feet warm at the risk of 
freezing my body. At last I had scarcely strength to 
move a limb; the cold was gaining fast upon me; and 
the inclination to sleep almost overcame me. In this 
condition I passed the whole night; nor did the morn- 
ing promise me much reHef; yet I thought it offered me 
a gUmpse of hope, and that hope induced me to en- 
deavour to break out of my snowy prison. I tried, but 
in vain, to put on my frozen shoes; I tried again and 
again before I could succeed. I then dug my saddle 
out of the snow, and after repeated efforts, reached 
the horse and put the saddle on; but could not myself 
get into the saddle. Ten o'clock next day came 
before there was any abatement of the storm, and 
when it did clear up a little I knew not where I was; 
still it was cheering to see the storm abate. I tried 
again to get into the saddle; and when I at last suc- 
ceeded, my half frozen horse refused to carry me, for 
he could scarcely lift a leg. I then ahghted and 
tried to walk; but the storm broke out again with 
redoubled violence. I saw no hope of saving myself 
but to kill the horse, open him, and get into his body, 
and I drew my hunting-knife for the purpose; but 
then it occurred to me that the body would freeze, and 
that I could not, in that case, extricate myself. I 
therefore abandoned the idea, laid my knife by, and 
tried again to walk, and again got into the saddle. 
The storm now abating a Httle, my horse began to 
move; and I kept wandering about through the snow 

An Early Fur Trader 31 

till three o'clock in the afternoon, when the storm 
abated altogether; and the sun coming out, I recog- 
nized my position. I was then not two miles from 
my own house, where I arrived at dusk; and it was 
high time, for I could not have gone much farther; 
and after all it was my poor horse that saved me, for 
had I set out on foot, I should never, in my exhausted 
condition, have reached the house." 

A httle later he made another winter journey of 
great discomfort, suffering much from cold and hun- 
ger. His return to Okanagan was down what Ross 
calls the Sa-mick-a-meigh River,^ a region which 
twenty-five or thirty years ago abounded in mountain 
sheep and was often visited by Eastern sportsmen. 

In his account of the journey of Mr. Clarke and his 
party to Spokane, made the August previous, Ross 
gives an account of the loss and recovery of Ross Cox, 
which that author has himself told in detail in his 
book referred to in a previous volume.^ Ross treats 
the adventure somewhat lightly, although he does re- 
mark that when he was at Spokane in the winter Cox 
had hardly recovered yet. 

It was the next spring that Clarke, an old North- 
wester, who might have known better, committed the 
grave indiscretion of hanging an Indian who had stolen 
a silver goblet but afterward returned it. It was not 
until the deed had been done and the angry Indians 
had disappeared to carry the news in all directions and 

^ Similkameen. * Trails of the Pathfinders ^ p. 313. 

32 Beyond the Old Frontier 

to assemble surrounding tribes to take revenge on the 
white men that Clarke appreciated what he had done. 
Fortunately the people were all packed up ready to 
start, and they hastily loaded their canoes and went on 
down the stream. 

McKenzie, in the meantime, had reached the middle 
of the Nez Perces country and was wintering there, but 
he soon found that he was not in a trapping country. 
The Nez Perces hunted buffalo for food and went to 
war for glory. They did not Hke beaver trapping and 
made a poor trade. Now, McKenzie while on a visit 
to Fort Spokane learned from McTavish, a North- 
wester, of the war between Great Britain and the 
United States. He hurried back to his post there, put 
his goods in cache, and set out for Astoria, which he 
reached in 1813. At Astoria things were not cheer- 
ful. The ship had not returned, and McDougall and 
McKenzie felt that they were Hkely to be pushed out 
of the country by the Northwesters. However, Mc- 
Kenzie turned about and started up the river. When 
he reached his post he found that his cache had been 
raised. The older Indians admitted the robbery, and 
said that it had been done by young men whom they 
could not control. McKenzie was a man of great 
courage, and when the chiefs would not assist him in 
recovering his property he determined to recover it 

"Accordingly next morning, after depositing in a 
safe place the few articles he had brought with him, 

An Early Fur Trader 33 

he and his little band, armed cap-a-pie, set out on foot 
for the camp. On their approach, the Indians, sus- 
pecting something, turned out in groups here and there, 
also armed. But McKenzie, without a moment's hes- 
itation, or giving them time to reflect, ordered Mr. 
Seaton, who commanded the men, to surround the 
first wigwam or lodge reached with charged bayonets, 
while he himself and Mr. Reed entered the lodge, ran- 
sacked it, turning everything topsy-turvy, and with 
their drawn daggers cutting and ripping open every- 
thing that might be supposed to conceal the stolen 
property. In this manner they went from one lodge 
to another till they had searched five or six with vari- 
ous success, when the chiefs demanded a parley, and 
gave McKenzie to understand that if he desisted they 
would do the business themselves, and more effectually. 
McKenzie, after some feigned reluctance, at last agreed 
to the chiefs' proposition. They then asked him to 
withdraw; but this he peremptorily refused, knowing 
from experience that they were least exposed in the 
camp; for Indians are always averse to hostilities tak- 
ing place in their camp, in the midst of their women 
and children. Had the Indians foreseen or been aware 
of the intention of the whites, they would never have 
allowed them within their camp. But they were taken 
by. surprise, and that circumstance saved the whites. 
However, as soon as the chiefs undertook the business, 
McKenzie and his men stood still and looked on. The 
chiefs went from house to house, and after about three 

34 Beyond the Old Frontier 

hours time they returned, bringing with them a large 
portion of the property, and delivered it to McKenzie, 
when he and his men left the camp and returned home, 
bearing off in triumph the fruits of their valour; and 
well pleased with their hairbreadth adventure; an ad- 
venture not to be repeated. And under all circum- 
stances, it was at the time considered the boldest step 
ever taken by the whites on Columbian ground." 

However, the Indians determined to get even with 
McKenzie, and they did this by refusing to sell the 
horses which were absolutely necessary to the fur 
traders, since horses were the only food available, for 
they were not in a position to go out and run buffalo. 
McKenzie later got the best of them by this plan: 
When the whites had nothing to eat, the articles usu- 
ally paid for a horse were tied up in a bundle; this done, 
McKenzie, with ten or twelve of his men, would sally 
forth with their rifles to the grazing ground of the 
horses, shoot the fattest they could find, and carry off 
the flesh to their camp, leaving the price stuck up on 
a pole alongside the head of the dead horse. 

"This manoeuvre succeeded several times, and an- 
noyed the Indians very much; some of them lost their 
best horses by it. Then it was that they combined to 
attack the whites in their camp. This news was brought 
McKenzie by one of his hired spies, and was confirmed 
by the fact of an Indian offering to sell a horse for 
powder and ball only. From various other suspicious 
circumstances there remained but little doubt in the 




J ^-^^g^ 

'* 1. 


, — ^v 

'•^^ '^PW''^*' ^ r ^"^^^^H 

^^Mfa/.^ //^ayif^>^ *jy ^ ^ji '^^HJ^^H 







{^ vHi 


1 C*| 


^i .-. 





An Early Fur Trader 35 

minds of the whites but that there was some dark de- 
sign in agitation. In this critical conjuncture, Mc- 
Kenzie again eluded their grasp by ensconcing himself 
and his party in an island in the middle of the river. 
There they remained, in a manner blockaded by the 
Indians; but not so closely watched but that they ap- 
peared every now and then with their long rifles among 
the Shahaptian horses; so that the Indians grew tired 
of their predatory excursions, and therefore sent a mes- 
senger to McKenzie. A parley ensued between the 
main land and the island; the result of which was, that 
the Indians agreed to sell horses to the whites at the 
usual price — the whites, on their part, to give up their 
marauding practices." 

The trade in horses now went on briskly, although 
McKenzie regarded the Indians with much suspicion. 
He procured food and bought eighty horses, which he 
sent off to Spokane. It was about this time that news 
came to them of Mr. Clark's ill-advised punishment 
of the Indians. There was but one opinion among the 
traders, and they pursued the only possible course: 
took to their canoes, and went down the river to Astoria. 

The journeyings of the party which had started over- 
land to St. Louis the summer before were difficult 
enough. They starved and travelled, and travelled 
and starved; crossed the mountains, and wintered on 
their eastern flanks, and finally reached St. Louis 
April 30. 

Mr. Hunt, after trading along the coast of Russian 

36 Beyond the Old Frontier 

America, went to the Sandwich Islands and then to 
Canton. On his return Mr. Hunt waited for a time 
at the Sandwich Islands, hoping that a ship from New 
York might come to the relief of Astoria. He waited 
in vain, and finally chartering the ship "Albatross" he 
reached Astoria in August. 

The war between Great Britain and the United 
States had led the Northwest Fur Company to believe 
that before long they could get possession of Astoria, 
and thus hold the whole trade on the Pacific coast, 
except that of the Russians. The Northwesters Mc- 
Tavish and Stuart were on their way to the mouth 
of the Columbia to meet the ship "Isaac Tod," which 
was daily expected, and the Astorians had no means 
of defence. They could fight off the Northwesters, of 
course, but if a ship with guns came they would be 
helpless. McDougall seemed to have been quite will- 
ing to give up the post and to sell the furs to the 
Northwesters, and before long this took place. Mc- 
Dougall has generally been charged with secretly agree- 
ing to swindle Mr. Astor by fixing absurdly low prices 
on the furs and goods. At all events, all of the goods 
on hand, wherever stationed, were delivered to the 
Northwest Company at ten per cent on cost and 
charges, while the furs were valued at so much per 
skin. Ross declared that the transaction was con- 
sidered fair and equitable on both sides, but other men 
who were there speak of it in quite a different way. 
The Indians, who for the past year or two had declared 

An Early Fur Trader 37 

themselves the firm friends of the fur traders, still 
wished to defend these friends from the attacks of their 
enemies. Old Come Comly even professed to be anx- 
ious to fight for them, but when the sloop-of-war 
"Raccoon" came into Baker's Bay the Indian chief 
wholly changed his attitude, and declared that he was 
glad that he had Hved long enough to see a great 
ship of his brother King George enter the river. He 
received a drink of wine, a flag, coat, hat, and sword, 
and became wholly British. 

Captain Black, of the "Raccoon," and his ship's 
company had hoped to capture Astoria with all its 
furs — a rich prize — and he was much disappointed 
when he found that all these things had been sold to 
the Northwest Company by amicable agreement. 

In the spring of 1814 Mr. Hunt, accompanied by 
several members of the Astoria party, took their 
final departure from Fort George. A number of those 
who had been Astorians, when freed from their con- 
tracts or agreements by Mr. Hunt, again took service 
with the Northwest Company, most of them receiv- 
ing such work as they were qualified to perform. Ross 
was put in charge of the post at Okanagan, as he had 
been under the Pacific Fur Company. Stationed here 
now for some time, he gives an excellent picture of the 
Hfe, and especially good accounts of the manners, 
ways, and customs of the Indians, and, with an inter- 
esting Chinook vocabulary and a table of weather at 
the mouth of the Columbia, closes the volume. 

38 Beyond the Old Frontier 

As an account of the As tor project to control the 
fur trade of the Pacific coast and of the difficulties of 
establishing a trading post among the Indians of the 
Columbia River, the book is of extreme interest. 





AFTER the downfall of the Pacific Fur Com- 
^ pany, the occupation of Astoria by the North- 
westers, and the change of its name to Fort 
George, Ross took service with the Northwest Com- 
pany. It is life as a fur trader with the Northwest 
Company that he describes in his book The Fur Hunt- 
ers of the Far West. In point of time, these volumes 
precede most of the books on the far western fur 
trade, and they give faithful and interesting accounts 
of the conditions met with at the time. Ross's books, 
in fact, are foundation stones for any history of the 
settlement of the Northwest. Although the books 
were not written until long after the period of which 
they treat — for the preface of this work is dated June i, 
1854, while the book was pubHshed the next year — 
Ross must have kept full diaries of his goings and com- 
ings, for in most of his dates he is exact, and his 
narrative is full of details that would almost cer- 
tainly have slipped from an unaided memory. 

In his new service Ross discovered that matters were 


42 Beyond the Old Frontier 

now in charge of men who knew very Httle about the 
Indians of the Pacific coast, and who Hghtly regarded 
those persons who had been in the service of Mr. 
Astor, whom they called Yankees. The new-comers 
had much to learn. 

One of the first acts of the Northwest Company 
was to despatch an expedition of twenty men, in charge 
of Messrs. Keith and Alexander Stuart, to report to 
Fort WilHam, on Lake Superior, the news of the acqui- 
sition of Astoria by the Northwest Company. On 
reaching the Cascades of the Columbia they were 
attacked by a large number of Indians, and Mr. Stuart 
was wounded. Two Indians were killed, and the expe- 
dition returned to Fort George. The attack caused 
great indignation there, and an extraordinary expedi- 
tion was fitted out to punish the Indians. Eighty-five 
picked men and two Chinook interpreters constituted 
the force; and besides the ordinary arms carried in the 
West they had "two great guns, six swivels, cutlasses, 
hand grenades, and hand knives." 

As the expedition passed along up the river, it struck 
terror to the hearts of the Indians, while it is said that 
"the two Chinook interpreters could neither sleep nor 
eat, so grieved were they at the thoughts of the 
bloody scenes that were to be enacted." 

The people who were to be punished, however — 
the Cath-le-yach-e-yach, a Chinookan tribe Hving be- 
low the Cascades — ^were not all frightened, and when 
they were required to deHver up the property taken 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 43 

from Keith and Stuart, they declared themselves ready 
to do so, but not until after the whites had delivered 
to them those who had killed two of their people. 
They sent off their women and children into the forest 
and prepared to fight. There were multitudinous 
parleys lasting for three or four days, at the end of 
which time the whites, regarding discretion as the 
better part of valor, "without recovering the prop- 
erty, firing a gun, or securing a single prisoner, sounded 
a retreat and returned home on the ninth day, having 
made matters ten times worse than they were before." 

The expedition was much derided by the Indians, 
and the white people who took part in it were extremely 
mortified about it. The situation was really one of 
war, and when a short time afterward the Northwest 
brigade departed for the interior, the Indians at the 
Cascades did not come near to the camp nor in any 
degree interrupt their progress. 

Consulted by McDonald, who was in charge of the 
Columbia trade, Ross had urged on him the impor- 
tance of taking the "usual precautions" in travelHng 
up the river. Nevertheless, no guard was set at night, 
and an alarm taking place, people jumped up and 
began to fire their guns at random and one of the men 
was shot dead. There seems no reason to suppose 
that there were actually any Indians in the camp. 

At Fort Okanagan the expedition passed on, leaving 
Ross behind in charge of the post. He was now in a 
prairie country where horses were absolutely essential 

44 Beyond the Old Frontier 

to travel, and no horses were to be had nearer than 
Eyakema valley, two hundred miles away, where the 
horse Indians, Cayuses, Nez Perces, and other warlike 
tribes encamped each spring, to collect the roots of 
the camas. Here horses were plenty, but, as it was 
a great camp occupied by many different tribes, to 
visit it was to incur some danger. However, Ross 
took a few trade goods and set out with three men, 
young McKay and two French Canadians, these last 
taking with them their Indian wives, to assist in the 
care of the horses. 

It was an anxious time, and the perplexities of the 
journey were not lessened when, on the fourth night 
after leaving Okanagan, the chief of the Pisscows 
tribe, who had learned where Ross was going, sent two 
men to urge him to turn back, declaring that if they 
did not do so they were all dead men. However, Ross 
determined to go on; as he puts it, "I had risked my 
life there for the Americans, I could now do no less 
for the North-West Company; so with deep regret the 
friendly couriers left us and returned, and with no less 
reluctance we proceeded." 

On the sixth day after leaving the fort they reached 
the valley, where they found a great camp, of which 
they could see the beginning, but not the end. It 
must have contained not less than 3,000 men, exclusive 
of women and children, and three times that number of 
horses. Everywhere was seen the active life of these 
primitive people. Councils were being held, women 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 45 

were gathering roots, men were hunting. Horse rac- 
ing, games, singing, dancing, drumming, yelling, and 
a thousand other things were going on. The noise and 
confusion are hardly to be described; but the interest 
and the beauty of the scene could not have been ap- 
preciated by these men, who were carrying their lives 
in their hands and marching into danger. 

"Our reception was cool, the chiefs were hostile and 
sullen, they saluted us in no very flattering accents. 
* These are the men,' said they, *who kill our relations, 
the people who have caused us to mourn.' And here, 
for the first time, I regretted we had not taken advice 
in time, and returned with the couriers, for the general 
aspect of things was against us. It was evident we 
stood on slippery ground; we felt our weakness. In 
all sudden and unexpected rencontres with hostile In- 
dians, the first impulse is generally a tremor or sensa- 
tion of fear, but that soon wears off; it was so with 
myself at this moment, for after a short interval I 
nerved myself to encounter the worst. 

"The moment we dismounted, we were surrounded, 
and the savages, giving two or three war-whoops and 
yells, drove the animals we had ridden out of our sight; 
this of itself was a hostile movement. We had to 
judge from appearances, and be guided by circum- 
stances. My first care was to try and direct their 
attention to something new, and to get rid of the 
temptation there was to dispose of my goods; so with- 
out a moment's delay, I commenced a trade in horses; 

46 Beyond the Old Frontier 

but every horse I bought during that and the follow- 
ing day, as well as those we had brought with us, were 
instantly driven out of sight, in the midst of yelling 
and jeering: nevertheless, I continued to trade while 
an article remained, putting the best face on things I 
could, and taking no notice of their conduct, as no 
insult or violence had as yet been offered to ourselves 
personally. Two days and nights had now elapsed 
since our arrival, without food or sleep; the Indians 
refused us the former, our own anxiety deprived us of 
the latter. 

"During the third day I discovered that the two 
women were to have been either killed or taken from us 
and made slaves. So surrounded were we for miles 
on every side, that we could not stir unobserved; yet 
we had to devise some means for their escape, and to 
get them clear of the camp was a task of no ordinary 
difficulty and danger. In this critical conjuncture, 
however, something had to be done, and that without 
delay. One of them had a child at the breast, which 
increased the difficulty. To attempt sending them 
back by the road they came, would have been sacrific- 
ing them. To attempt an unknown path through the 
rugged mountains, however dojjibtful the issue, appeared 
the only prospect that held out a glimpse of hope; 
therefore, to this mode of escape I directed their atten- 
tion. As soon as it was dark, they set out on their for- 
lorn adventure without food, guide, or protection, to 
make their way home, under a kind Providence ! 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 47 

"'You are to proceed/ said I to them, 'due north, 
cross the mountains, and keep in that direction till 
you fall on the Pisscows River; take the first canoe you 
find, and proceed with all diligence down to the mouth 
of it and there await our arrival. But if we are not 
there on the fourth day, you may proceed to Oakanagan, 
and tell your story.' With these instructions we parted ; 
and with but little hopes of our ever meeting again. 
I had no sooner set about getting the women off, than 
the husbands expressed a wish to accompany them; 
the desire was natural, yet I had to oppose it. This 
state of things distracted my attention: my eyes had 
now to be on my own people as well as on the Indians, 
as I was apprehensive they would desert. 'There is 
no hope for the women by going alone,* said the hus- 
bands, *no hope for us by remaining here: we might 
as well be killed in the attempt to escape, as remain 
to be killed here.* 'No,' said I, 'by remaining here 
we do our duty; by going we should be deserting our 
duty.' To this remonstrance they made no reply. 
The Indians soon perceived that they had been out- 
witted. They turned over our baggage, and searched 
in every hole and corner. Disappointment creates ill 
humor: it was so with the Indians. They took the 
men's guns out of their hands, fired them off at their 
feet, and then, with savage laughter, laid them down 
again; took their hats off their heads, and after strut- 
ting about with these for some time, jeeringly gave 
them back to their owners: all this time, they never 

48 Beyond the Old Frontier 

interfered with me, but I felt that every insult offered 
to my men was an indirect insult offered to myself. 

"The day after the women went off, I ordered one 
of the men to try and cook something for us; for hitherto 
we had eaten nothing since our arrival, except a few 
raw roots which we managed to get unobserved. But 
the kettle was no sooner on the fire than five or six 
spears bore off, in savage triumph, the contents: they 
even emptied out the water, and threw the kettle on 
one side; and this was no sooner done than thirty or 
forty ill-favored wretches fired a volley in the embers 
before us, which caused a cloud of smoke and ashes 
to ascend, darkening the air around us: a strong hint 
not to put the kettle any more on the fire, and we 
took it. 

"At this time the man who had put the kettle on the 
fire took the knife with which he had cut the venison 
to lay it by, when one of the Indians, called Eyacktana, 
a bold and turbulent chief, snatched it out of his hand; 
the man, in an angry tone, demanded his knife, saying 
to me, *ril have my knife from the villain, Hfe or 
death.' *No,' said I. The chief, seeing the man angry, 
threw down his robe, and grasping the knife in his fist, 
with the point downwards, raised his arm, making a 
motion in advance as if he intended using it. The 
crisis had now arrived! At this moment there was a 
dead silence. The Indians were flocking in from all 
quarters: a dense crowd surrounded us. Not a mo- 
ment was to be lost; delay would be fatal, and nothing 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 49 

now seemed to remain for us but to sell our lives as 
dearly as possible. With this impression, grasping a 
pistol, I advanced a step towards the villain who held 
the knife, with the full determination of putting an 
end to his career before any of us should fall; but while 
in the act of lifting my foot and moving my arm, a 
second idea floated across my mind, admonishing me 
to soothe, and not provoke, the Indians, that Provi- 
dence might yet make a way for us to escape: this 
thought saved the Indian's Hfe, and ours too. Instead 
of drawing the pistol, as I intended, I took a knife from 
my belt, such as travellers generally use in this country, 
and presented it to him, saying, 'Here, my friend, is a 
chiefs knife, I give it to you; that is not a chiefs knife, 
give it back to the man.' Fortunately, he took mine 
in his hand; but, still sullen and savage, he said noth- 
ing. The moment was a critical one; our fate hung as 
by a thread: I shall never forget it! All the bystanders 
had their eyes now fixed on the chief, thoughtful and 
silent as he stood; we also stood motionless, not know- 
ing what a moment might bring forth. At last the 
savage handed the man his knife, and turning mine 
round and round for some time in his hand, turned to 
his people, holding up the knife in his hand, exclaimed, 
*She-augh Me-yokat Waltz' — Look, my friends, at the 
chiefs knife: these words he repeated over and over 
again. He was delighted. The Indians flocked round 
him: all admired the toy, and in the excess of his joy 
he harangued the multitude in our favour. Fickle, in- 

so Beyond the Old Frontier 

deed, are savages! They were now no longer enemies, 
but friends! Several others, following Eyacktana's ex- 
ample, harangued in turn, all in favour of the whites. 
This done, the great men squatted themselves down, 
the pipe of peace was called for, and while it was going 
round and round the smoking circle, I gave each of the 
six principal chiefs a small paper-cased looking-glass 
and a little vermilion, as a present; and in return, they 
presented me with two horses and twelve beavers, 
while the women soon brought us a variety of eatables. 

"This sudden change regulated my movements. 
Indeed, I might say the battle was won. I now made 
a speech to them in turn, and, as many of them under- 
stood the language I spoke, I asked them what I should 
say to the great white chief when I got home, when he 
asks me where are all the horses I bought from you. 
What shall I say to him ? At this question it was easy 
to see that their pride was touched. 'Tell him,* said 
Eyacktana, *that we have but one mouth, and one 
word; all the horses you have bought from us are yours, 
they shall be delivered up.' This was just what I 
wanted. After a Httle counselling among themselves, 
Eyacktana was the first to speak, and he undertook to 
see them collected. 

"By this time it was sun-down. The chief then 
mounted his horse, and desired me to mount mine and 
accompany him, telUng one of his sons to take my men 
and property under his charge till our return. Being 
acquainted with Indian habits, I knew there would be 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 51 

repeated calls upon my purse, so I put some trinkets 
into my pocket, and we started on our nocturnal ad- 
venture; which I considered hazardous but not hopeless. 

"Such a night we had! The chief harangued, trav- 
elled and harangued, the whole night, the people re- 
plied. We visited every street, alley, hole and corner 
of the camp, which we traversed lengthwise, crossway, 
east, west, south, and north, going from group to 
group, and the call was 'Deliver up the horses/ Here 
was gambHng, there scalp-dancing; laughter in one 
place, mourning in another. Crowds were passing to 
and fro, whooping, yelling, dancing, drumming, sing- 
ing. Men, women, and children were huddled to- 
gether; flags flying, horses neighing, dogs howling, 
chained bears, tied wolves, grunting and growHng, all 
pell-mell among the tents; and, to complete the con- 
fusion, the night was dark. At the end of each ha- 
rangue the chief would approach me, and whisper in 
my ear, *She-augh tamtay enim' — I have spoken well 
in your favour — a hint for me to reward his zeal by 
giving him something. This was repeated constantly, 
and I gave him each time a string of beads, or two but- 
tons, or two rings. I often thought he repeated his 
harangues more frequently than necessary; but it an- 
swered his purpose, and I had no choice but to obey 
and pay. 

"At daylight we got back; my people and property 
were safe; and in two hours after my eighty-five horses 
were deHvered up, and in our possession. I was now 

52 Beyond the Old Frontier 

convinced of the chiefs influence, and had got so well 
into his good graces with my beads, buttons, and rings, 
that I hoped we were out of all our troubles. Our 
business being done, I ordered my men to tie up and 
prepare for home, which was glad tidings to them. 
With all this favourable change, we were much em- 
barrassed and annoyed in our preparations to start. 
The savages interrupted us every moment. They 
jeered the men, frightened the horses, and kept han- 
dling, snapping, and firing ofF our guns; asking for this, 
that, and the other thing. The men's hats, pipes, belts, 
and knives were constantly in their hands. They 
wished to see everything, and everything they saw they 
wished to get, even to the buttons on their clothes. 
Their teasing curiosity had no bounds; and every delay 
increased our difficulties. Our patience was put to the 
test a thousand times; but at last we got ready, and my 
men started. To amuse the Indians, however, till 
they could get fairly off*, I invited the chiefs to a parley, 
which I put a stop to as soon as I thought the men 
and horses had got clear of the camp. I then pre- 
pared to follow them, when a new difficulty arose. In 
the hurry and bustle of starting, my people had left a 
restive, awkward brute of a horse for me, wild as a 
deer, and as full of latent tricks as he was wild. I 
mounted and dismounted at least a dozen times; in 
vain I tried to make him advance. He reared, jumped 
and plunged; but refused to walk, trot, or gallop. 
Every trial to make him go was a failure. A young con- 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 53 

ceited fop of an Indian, thinking he could make more 
of him than I could, jumped on his back; the horse 
reared and plunged as before, when, instead of slacken- 
ing the bridle as he reared, he reined it tighter and 
tighter, till the horse fell right over on his back, and 
almost killed the fellow. Here Eyacktana, with a 
frown, called out, *Kap-sheesh she-eam' — the bad 
horse — and gave me another; and for the generous 
act I gave him my belt, the only article I had to spare. 
But although the difficulties I had with the horse were 
galling enough to me, they proved a source of great 
amusement to the Indians, who enjoyed it with roars 
of laughter." 

When Ross got out of the camp he rode hard and 
took a short cut in the effort to overtake his people, 
but could not find them. Presently, however, from the 
top of a ridge, he saw three horsemen coming toward 
him at full tilt. He made preparation for defence, and 
hiding behind a rock awaited the onslaught, but before 
they got close to him he discovered that these were 
the friendly Pisscows, who before had warned him to 
turn back, and with them he went on. At last they 
saw Ross's people, who were driving their horses as 
fast as they could, but when they saw Ross and his 
companions behind them they thought them ene- 
mies, and stopped to fight. All were glad enough to 
get together, and at last, after various adventures, they 
reached the fort at Okanagan. 

54 Beyond the Old Frontier 



A LITTLE later Ross went north to his own post at the 
She-Whaps, where he made a good trade. From here 
he decided to go west to the Pacific coast on foot, be- 
lieving that the distance was not more than two hun- 
dred miles, but before he reached the coast a destructive 
hurricane passed so close to his party that his guide, 
altogether discouraged by fatigue and failure, deserted 
during the night, and Ross was obliged to return. 

One winter, much alarm was caused among the In- 
dians by the depredations of strange wolves, reported 
to be hundreds in number, and as big as buffalo, which 
were coming into the country, and on their march were 
kilHng all the horses. The Indians declared that all 
the horses would be killed, for men could not go near 
these wolves, nor would arrows or balls kill them. 
Shortly after the head chief of the Okanagan Indians 
had told this story to Ross, wolves killed five of the 
traders' horses. Ross took up those left alive, and then 
put out a dozen traps about the carcass of one that 
had been killed. The next morning four of the traps 
were sprung. "One of them held a large white wolf 
by the fore leg, a foot equally large was gnawed off 
and left in another, the third held a fox, and the fourth 
trap had disappeared altogether." Unable to get 
away, the captured wolf was quite ready to fight. It 

Fur Hunters of the Far West S5 

had gnawed the trap until its teeth were broken and its 
head was covered with blood. When killed it was found 
to weigh one hundred and twenty-seven pounds, an 
enormous animal. The one that had carried off the 
trap was at last discovered making the best of its way 
over the country, and pursuit resulted in its capture. 
The animal had dragged a trap and chain weighing 
eight and one-half pounds a distance of twenty-five 
miles, without appearing at all fatigued. Ross wanted 
the skin, but had left his knife behind him. However, 
it was not for nothing that he had been for years asso- 
ciated with Indians, and he took the flint out of his 
gun, skinned the animal, and went home with skin and 

The killing of these two wolves and the crippling 
of the third put an end to the destruction, and not an- 
other horse was killed in that part of the country during 
the season. 

Ross comments interestingly on the methods used 
by wolves in decoying horses. 

"If there is no snow, or but Httle, on the ground, two 
wolves approach in the most playful and caressing 
manner, lying, roHing, and frisking about, until the 
too credulous and unsuspecting victim is completely 
put off his guard by curiosity and famiHarity. During 
this time the gang, squatted on their hind-quarters, 
look on at a distance. After some time spent in this 
way, the two assailants separate, when one approaches 
the horse's head, the other his tail, with a slyness and 

56 Beyond the Old Frontier 

cunning peculiar to themselves. At this stage of the 
attack, their frolicsome approaches become very in- 
teresting — it is in right good earnest; the former is a 
mere decoy, the latter is the real assailant, and keeps 
his eyes steadily fixed on the ham-strings or flank of 
the horse. The critical moment is then watched, and 
the attack is simultaneous; both wolves spring at their 
victim the same instant, one to the throat, the other 
to the flank, and if successful, which they generally 
are, the hind one never lets go his hold till the horse 
is completely disabled. Instead of springing forward 
or kicking to disengage himself, the horse turns round 
and round without attempting a defence. The wolf 
before, then springs behind, to assist the other. The 
sinews are cut, and in half the time I have been describ- 
ing it, the horse is on his side; his struggles are fruit- 
less: the victory is won. At this signal, the lookers-on 
close in at a gallop, but the small fry of followers keep 
at a respectful distance, until their superiors are gorged, 
then they take their turn unmolested. The wolves, 
however, do not always kill to eat; Hke wasteful hunt- 
ers, they often kill for the pleasure of killing, and leave 
the carcases untouched. The helplessness of the horse 
when attacked by wolves is not more singular than its 
timidity and want of action when in danger by fire. 
When assailed by fire, in the plains or elsewhere, their 
strength, swiftness, and sagacity, are of no avail; they 
never attempt to fly, but become bewildered in the 
smoke, turn round and round, stand and tremble, 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 57 

until they are burnt to death: which often happens in 
this country, in a conflagration of the plains/* 

It must be remembered, however, that Ross is speak- 
ing of wolves of the western mountains, animals which 
were not familiar with the buflPalo, and which now, since 
horses had been brought into the country, had been 
supplied with a new food animal. Ross says also, and 
he is almost the only writer who speaks of anything of 
this kind, that wolves sometimes attacked men, and 
instances two men forced to take shelter for several 
hours in a tree by a band of seventeen wolves. 

It was about this time that a change of heart began 
to take place among the authorities of the Northwest 
Company. Since Astoria had become Fort George 
few or no steps had been taken to make the most of 
the possibilities of the country, but those who were on 
the ground dwelt constantly on the poverty of the 
country, the hostihty of the Indians, and the imprac- 
ticability of trade. The people who came over the 
mountains to take the place of the Astorians brought 
with them their habits of the fur country of the east, 
and seemed unable to change them. The traders from 
the east preferred the birch-bark canoe, and spent 
much time in searching for bark. It was even pro- 
vided — lest that of good quality should not be found 
on the waters of the Pacific slope — that a stock of 
bark should be shipped from Montreal to London, and 
thence around Cape Horn to Fort George, in order 
that canoes might be made. 

S8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

In 1816 the Columbia River district was divided 
by the authorities at Fort William into two separate 
departments, each one with a bourgeois at the head. 
Mr. Keith was chosen to preside at Fort George, while 
Mr. McKenzie was given charge of the department of 
the interior. There was much grumbhng at this last 
appointment. Ross was appointed as second in com- 
mand to Mr. Keith. Shortly after this there were 
various troubles at Fort George, one of the most im- 
portant being the desertion of the blacksmith Jacob, 
who fled to a hostile tribe, from which he was taken by 
Ross, who went after him with thirty men. The en- 
terprise was one which required that courage and en- 
durance which Ross so often displayed in times of 
difficulty. The west coast trade was further compli- 
cated by the jealousy which Mr. Keith felt for Mr. 
McKenzie. These difficulties were overcome, and Mc- 
Kenzie again set out for his interior command, accom- 
panied by a force of Iroquois, Abenakis, and Sand- 
wich Islanders. Mr. Keith remained in command at 
Fort George. 

Many of the hunters and trappers at Fort George 
lacked experience in deaHng with the natives, and 
before long there was trouble with the Indians. These 
tried to exact tribute from the fur traders for trapping 
on the tribal land, and the fur traders, far from showing 
patience, were quite ready to quarrel. One or more of 
the hunters were wounded on the Willamette and 
some Indians were killed, Ross was sent out to try to 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 59 

effect a reconciliation, but, as so often is the case where 
Indians have been killed, the people in the camps de- 
clined to smoke and to consider any other course than 
war. It was only by the exercise of great patience and 
forbearance, and finally by the gift of a flag to a chief, 
that the trouble was at last smoothed over, and the 
opposing parties smoked and made long speeches and 
then concluded a treaty — the whites having paid for 
the dead — which greatly pleased Mr. Keith. 

McKenzie on his way up the Columbia did not get 
beyond the Cascades, for here he found the river frozen; 
so he camped and spent the winter among the Indians, 
showing, in his dealings with them, remarkable tact 
and judgment. 

Ross describes with some humor the happenings at 
a feast, such as frequently took place in the camp 
where McKenzie now was: 

"On the score of cheer, we will here gratify the cu- 
riosity of our readers with a brief description of one of 
their entertainments, called an Indian feast. The first 
thing that attracts the attention of a stranger, on 
being invited to a feast in these parts, is, to see seven 
or eight bustling squaws running to and fro with pieces 
of greasy bark, skins of animals, and old mats, to fur- 
nish the banqueting lodge, as receptacles for the deli- 
cate viands: at the door of the lodge is placed, on 
such occasions, a sturdy savage with a club in his 
hand, to keep the dogs at bay, while the preparations 
are going on. 

6o Beyond the Old Frontier 

"The banqueting hall is always of a size suitable to 
the occasion, large and roomy. A fire occupies the 
centre, round which, in circular order, are laid the 
eatables. The guests form a close ring round the 
whole. Every one approaches with a grave and sol- 
emn step. The party being all assembled, the reader 
may picture to himself our friend seated among the 
nobles of the place, his bark platter between his legs, 
filled top-heavy with the most delicious melange of 
bear's grease, dog's flesh, wappatoes, obellies, amutes, 
and a profusion of other viands, roots and berries. 
Round the festive board, placed on terra fir ma^ all the 
nabobs of the place are squatted down in a circle, each 
helping himself out of his platter with his fingers, ob- 
serving every now and then to sleek down the hair by 
way of wiping the hands. Only one knife is used, and 
that is handed round from one to another in quick 
motion. Behind the banqueting circle sit, in anxious 
expectation, groups of the canine tribe, yawning, howl- 
ing, and growling; these can only be kept in the rear 
by a stout cudgel, which each of the guests keeps by 
him, for the purpose of self-defence; yet it not unfre- 
quently happens that some one of the more daring curs 
gets out of patience, breaks through the front rank, 
and carries off his booty; but when a trespass of this 
kind is committed, the unfortunate offender is well 
belaboured in his retreat, for the cudgels come down 
upon him with a terrible vengeance. The poor dog, 
however, has his revenge in turn, for the squabble and 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 6i 

brawl that ensues disturbs all the dormant fleas of the 
domicile. This troop of black assailants jump about 
in all directions, so that a guest, by helping himself 
to the good things before him, keeping the dogs at bay 
behind him, and defending himself from the black 
squadrons that surround him, pays, perhaps, dearer 
for his entertainment at the Columbian Cascades than 
a foreign ambassador does in a London hotel!" 

On leaving this place in the spring, the traders broke 
one of their boats while towing it up the Cascades, and 
there was no room in the other boats to load the cargo 
of the one that had been broken. There were sixty 
packages, of ninety pounds each, and this large and 
valuable cargo McKenzie turned over to a chief, to be 
kept for him until his return. When the brigade re- 
turned six months later the whole cargo was handed 
over safe and untouched to McKenzie. Such care for 
the property of their guests was often given by the 
old-time Indians. 

The next summer when the inland brigade left Fort 
George for the interior, Ross accompanied it, for he 
was starting for his own post at She-Whaps. As usual, 
there were many annoyances — men deserted, others 
fell sick, some of the Iroquois were about to fire on the 
native Indians — and altogether the leaders of the party 
had their hands full in trying to keep peace. 

Ross had with him a little dog which an Indian one 
morning got hold of and carried away. The dog, 
anxious to get back to his master, in its struggles to 

62 Beyond the Old Frontier 

escape happened to scratch one of the children of his 
captor, and presently Ross saw the dog running to him, 
followed by two men with guns in their hands. The 
dog lay down by its master's feet, and one of the In- 
dians cocked his gun to shoot the animal. Ross 
jumped up and took the gun from the Indian, who 
seemed very angry and demanded it again. After a 
time Ross handed it back to him, at the same time 
picking up his own gun and telling the Indian that if 
he attempted to kill the dog he himself would die. 
The man did not shoot the dog, but telling his trouble 
to the other Indians, they gathered about Ross and 
there was every prospect of a pretty quarrel. How- 
ever, Ross and McKenzie, strong in their knowledge 
of Indian character, smoothed things over, made a 
little gift to the child that had been scratched, gave 
the chief some tobacco, and presently went on their 
way with the apparent good-will of the whole camp. 

A day or two later another example was seen of the 
way in which Ross handled the Indians. The chiefs 
and the traders were smoking and talking. 

"While thus engaged, and the crowd thronging 
around us, a fellow more like a baboon than a man, 
with a head full of feathers and a countenance of brass, 
having a fine gun in his hand, called out, *How long 
are the whites to pass here, troubling our waters and 
scaring our fish, without paying us? Look at all these 
bales of goods going to our enemies,' said he; *and look 
at our wives and children naked.' The fellow then 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 63 

made a pause, as if waiting an answer; but, as good 
fortune would have it, the rest of the Indians paid but 
Uttle attention to him. No answer was made; nor 
was it a time to discuss the merits or demerits of such 
a question. Happening, however, to be near the fel- 
low when he spoke, I turned briskly round, *So long,' 
said I, 'as the Indians smoke our tobacco; just so long, 
and no longer, will the whites pass here.' Then I put 
some questions to him in turn. *Who gave you that 
fine gun on your hand?' 'The whites,' answered he. 
'And who gives you tobacco to smoke?' 'The whites,' 
he replied. Continuing the subject, 'Are you fond of 
your gun?' 'Yes.' 'And are you fond of tobacco to 
smoke?' To this question also the reply was 'Yes.' 
'Then,' said I, 'you ought to be fond of the whites who 
supply all your wants.' 'Oh, yes!' rejoined he. The 
nature of the questions and answers set the bystanders 
laughing; and taking no further notice of the rascal, he 
sneaked off among the crowd, and we saw him no more. 
The question put by the feathered baboon amounted 
to nothing in itself; but it proved that the subject of 
tribute had been discussed among the Indians." 

There was constant demand for readiness and quick- 
wittedness, for the whites were very few in number 
and the Indians numerous; moreover, these primitive 
people were altogether disposed to see how far the 
whites would permit them to go, and it was thus ex- 
ceedingly easy to begin a quarrel about some trifling 
matter in which blood might be shed. 

64 Beyond the Old Frontier 

From his post in the She-Whaps Ross soon went east 
toward the Rocky Mountains, having been ordered to 
explore this country and see what it contained. He set 
out on foot with two of his best hands and two Indians. 
Each carried as baggage one-half dozen pairs of mocca- 
sins, a blanket, some ammunition, needles, thread, and 
tobacco, besides a small axe, a knife, a fire steel, and an 
awl. All they had besides was a kettle and a pint pot. 
For subsistence they depended on their guns, and for a 
further supply of shoes and clothing on the animals 
that they might kill by the way. 

The country was extraordinarily rough. Fur-bear- 
ing animals were not plenty, but game was abundant, 
elk and deer being seen in great numbers, and so tame 
as to make it appear that they had never been dis- 

In six days' travel down a stream, which Ross calls 
the Grisly-bear, they shot four elks, twenty-two deer, 
two otters, two beavers, and three black bears, without 
stepping out of the trail. A little later they saw moose, 
and still later is given a curious account of a battle 
between two large birds, both of which were captured. 
One of these was a white-headed eagle which weighed 
eight and three-quarter pounds, and the other "a wild- 
turkey cock, or what we call the Columbia grouse," 
which could only have been a sage grouse. This is 
said to have weighed eleven and one-quarter pounds ! 

During this same summer McKenzie had trouble 
with the Iroquois — seemingly most untrustworthy ser- 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 65 

vants — who tried to kill McKenzie, perhaps with the 
idea of taking all the property of the expedition. How- 
ever, McKenzie*s quickness and readiness enabled him 
to put the Iroquois to flight. 

Soon after his return from his Eastern exploration 
Ross was invited by the Indians to accompany them 
on a bear-hunt, which he describes: 

"The party were all mounted on horseback, to the 
number of seventy-three, and exhibited a fine display 
of horsemanship. After some ten miles* travel, we 
commenced operations. Having reached the hunting- 
ground, the party separated into several divisions. We 
then perambulated the woods, crossed rivers, sur- 
rounded thickets, and scampered over hill and dale, 
with yell and song, for the greater part of two days; 
during which time we killed seven bears, nine wolves, 
and eleven small deer: one of the former I had the good 
luck to shoot myself. In the evening of the third day, 
however, our sport was checked by an accident. One 
of the great men, the chief Pacha of the hunting party, 
named Tu-tack-it, Is-tso-augh-an, or Short Legs, got 
severely wounded by a female bear. 

"The only danger to be apprehended in these savage 
excursions is by following the wounded animal into a 
thicket, or hiding-place; but with the Indians the more 
danger the more honour, and some of them are fool- 
hardy enough to run every hazard in order to strike 
the last fatal blow, (in which the honour lies,) sometimes 
with a lance, tomahawk, or knife, at the risk of their 

66 Beyond the Old Frontier 

lives. No sooner is a bear wounded than it immediately 
flies for refuge to some hiding-place, unless too closely 
pursued; in which case, it turns round in savage fury 
on its pursuers, and woe awaits whoever is in the way. 

"The bear in question had been wounded and took 
shelter in a small coppice. The bush was instantly 
surrounded by the horsemen, when the more bold 
and daring entered it on foot, armed with gun, knife, 
and tomahawk. Among the bushrangers on the pres- 
ent occasion was the chief. Short Legs, who, while 
scrambHng over some fallen timber, happened to stum- 
ble near to where the wounded and enraged bear was 
concealed, but too close to be able to defend himself 
before the vicious animal got hold of him. At that 
moment I was not more than five or six paces from the 
chief, but could not get a chance of shooting, so I 
immediately called out for help, when several mustered 
round the spot. Availing ourselves of the doubtful 
alternative of killing her — even at the risk of killing the 
chief — ^we fired, and as good luck would have it, shot 
the animal and saved the man; then carrying the bear 
and wounded chief out of the bush, we laid both on 
the open ground. The sight of the chief was appalUng: 
the scalp was torn from the crown of his head, down 
over the eyebrows! he was insensible, and for some 
time we all thought him dead; but after a short inter- 
val his pulse began to beat, and he gradually showed 
signs of returning animation. 

"It was a curious and somewhat interesting scene to 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 67 

see the party approach the spot where the accident 
happened. Not being able to get a chance of shooting, 
they threw their guns from them, and could scarcely 
be restrained from rushing on the fierce animal with 
their knives only. The bear all the time kept looking 
first at one, then at another, and casting her fierce and 
flaming eyes around the whole of us, as if ready to 
make a spring at each; yet she never let go her hold 
of the chief; but stood over him. Seeing herself sur- 
rounded by so many enemies, she moved her head 
from one position to another, and these movements 
gave us ultimately an opportunity of killing her. 

"The misfortune produced a loud and clamorous 
scene of mourning among the chiefs relations; we has- 
tened home, carrying our dead bears along with us, and 
arrived at the camp early in the morning of the fourth 
day. The chief remained for three days speechless. 
In cutting oflF the scalp and dressing the wound, we 
found the skull, according to our imperfect knowledge 
of anatomy, fractured in two or three places; and at 
the end of eight days, I extracted a bone measuring 
two inches long, of an oblong form, and another of 
about an inch square, with several smaller pieces, all 
from the crown of the head! The wound, however, 
gradually closed up and healed, except a small spot 
about the size of an English shilling. In fifteen days, 
by the aid of Indian medicine, he was able to walk 
about, and at the end of six weeks from the time he got 
wounded, he was on horseback again at the chace." 

68 Beyond the Old Frontier 

More or less wolf-hunting was done through the win- 
ter, and Ross describes certain methods of catching 
and killing these animals. 

The kiUing of wolves, foxes, and other wild animals 
by the whites was really only a recreation, and the 
traders preferred shooting them to any other mode of 
destruction. The wolves were usually afoot and search- 
ing for food at all hours of the day and night. They 
liked to get up on nearby hills or knolls, to sit and 
look about. It was the practice of the traders to scatter 
food about the places frequented by the wolves, and — 
when there were no wolves there — to practise shooting 
at a mark, watching where the balls hit and learning 
the elevation of the gun required to reach the spot, 
until finally many of them became very expert at this 
long-distance shooting. 

"A band of Indians happening to come to the fort 
one day, and observing a wolf on one of the favourite 
places of resort, several of them prepared to take a 
circuitous turn to have a shot at the animal. Seeing 
them prepare — 'Try,' said I, 'and kill it from where 
you are.' The Indians smiled at my ignorance. *Can 
the whites,' said the chief, 'kill it at that distance?' 
*The whites,' said I, 'do not live by hunting or shoot- 
ing as do the Indians, or they might.' 'There is no 
gun,' continued the chief, 'that could kill at that dis- 
tance.' By this time the wolf had laid hold of a bone, 
or piece of flesh, and was scampering off with it, at full 
speed, to the opposite woods. Taking hold of my gun 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 69 

— 'If we cannot kill it,' said I, 'we shall make it let go 
its prey.' 'My horse against your shot,' called out 
the chief, 'that you do not hit the wolf.' 'Done,' said 
I; but I certainly thought within myself that the chief 
ran no great risk of losing his horse, nor the wolf of 
losing his Hfe. Taking an elevation of some fifteen or 
sixteen feet over it, by chance I shot the animal in 
his flight, to the astonishment of the chief, as well as 
all present, who, clapping their hands to their mouths 
in amazement, measured the distance by five arrow- 
shots: nothing but their wonder could exceed their 
admiration of this effect of fire-arms. 

"When the ball struck the wolf, it was in the act of 
leaping; and we may judge of its speed at the time, 
from the fact that the distance from whence it took 
the last leap to where it was lying stretched, measured 
twenty-four feet! The ball struck the wolf in the left 
thigh, and passing through the body, neck and head, 
it lodged in the lower jaw; I cut it out with my pen- 
knife. The chief, on delivering up his horse, which 
he did cheerfully, asked me for the ball, and that ball 
was the favourite ornament of his neck for years after- 
wards. The horse I returned to its owner. The In- 
dians then asked me for the skin of the dead wolf; 
and to each of the guns belonging to the party was ap- 
pended a piece: the Indians fancying that the skin 
would enable them, in future, to kill animals at a great 

The following summer, McKenzie with Ross and 

70 Beyond the Old Frontier 

ninety-five men went up the river and encamped at 
the site determined on for the new establishment of 
Fort Nez Perces, about one-half mile from the mouth 
of the Walla Walla. This country was occupied by 
Indians of the Shahaptian stock — fierce, good war- 
riors, and impulsive — easily moved in one direction or 
the other. They seemed by no means favorable to 
the coming whites; did not shake hands with them, and 
in fact appeared disposed to boycott the new arrivals. 

The situation was a difficult one, because the con- 
struction of a fort required a dividing of the party into 
many small bands, and also because more Indians were 
constantly coming in, and their actions caused much 
uneasiness. They insisted on receiving pay for the 
timber to be used in building the fort; they forbade 
hunting and fishing; they set the price on all articles 
of trade, and it was difficult to know what the outcome 
of this might be. 

The difficulties threatening the traders caused an 
almost complete suspension of work. They stood on 
their guard, ready for an attack at any time, while 
for five days there was no intercourse between whites 
and Indians; food was short, and one night the party 
went to bed supperless. The Indians continued to 
gather, and the traders thought that they were plot- 
ting and planning — no one knew what. 

A slight enclosure had been put up, behind which the 
traders awaited whatever might happen. After a time, 
the chiefs opened negotiations with the whites and 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 71 

insisted that Hberal presents should be made to all 
the Indians roundabout, in order to gain their favor. 
This was obviously impracticable, since all the property 
of the traders would not have sufficed to make a pres- 
ent to each Indian, and the demand was refused, with 
the result that the firmness of the white men caused 
the Indians to reduce their requests and finally to sub- 
mit to the proposals of the whites, and as soon as this 
was agreed on a brisk trade went on. 

The position chosen for the fort was noteworthy 
among the natives because it was the ground on which, 
some years before, Lewis and Clark had ratified a 
general peace between themselves and the tribes of 
the surrounding country. The situation was com- 
manding. To the west was a spacious view of the 
great river, to the north and east were the wide ex- 
panses of the yellow plains, while to the south lay wild, 
rough hills on either side of the river, overlooked by 
two singular towering rocks on the east side of the 
stream, called by the natives "The Twins." In the 
distance lay the Blue Mountains. 

Presently a large war-party returned to the camp 
with scalps and captives — a great triumph. Now 
came a demand from the Indians that the white traders 
should not give guns or balls to the enemies of these 
Indians, but after much negotiation and many speeches, 
the Indians agreed that peace should be made between 
themselves and the Snakes. 

It was not long after this that a considerable party 

72 Beyond the Old Frontier 

was sent ofF to penetrate the country inhabited by the 
Snakes and other tribes to the south. The traders 
had secured two hundred and eighty horses, enough 
for riding and packing, and the most of these were to 
go off with the Snake expedition, which consisted of 
fifty-five men, nearly two hundred horses, three hun- 
dred beaver-traps, and a considerable stock of trade 
goods. Mr. McKenzie led the expedition, which left 
Fort Nez Perces at the end of September. Ross, with 
the remaining party, stayed at the Fort. 

The neighboring Indians, of whom Ross speaks in 
most cordial terms, treated the traders well and were 
respectful and good-natured, but presently came rumors 
of difficulties between the trading party to the Snakes 
and that tribe, and one of these rumors was confirmed 
by the arrival of a member of that expedition, an Iro- 
quois, who had evidently had a hard time. According 
to his account, the Iroquois after a time separated 
from McKenzie to trap a small river which was well 
stocked with beaver. The Iroquois, according to the 
story, began to exchange their horses, guns, and traps 
with a small party of Snakes, and presently had Httle 
or nothing left. The returned Iroquois man got lost, 
and finally, with great difficulty, without food, blanket, 
or arms, got back to Fort Nez Perces. Other Iro- 
quois returned and told various stories, and finally, 
going back to Fort George, persuaded Mr. Keith to send 
out a party to punish the Indians, who they said had 
injured them. Such a party was sent out to the Cow- 

Fur Hunters of the Far West ^z 

litz River, and the Iroquois getting away from Mr. 
Ogden killed twelve men, women, and children, and 
scalped three of them. This seemed fatal to further 
friendly relations; nevertheless, at last peace was con- 
cluded between the traders and the CowHtz Indians, 
and was sealed by the marriage of the chiefs daughter 
to one of the fur traders. 

There was more sporadic fighting and killing of 
Indians and the murder of five people belonging to Fort 
George, so that things got into a very bad condition, 
which it took a long time to smooth over. 

Late in the season Mr. McKenzie with six men on 
snow-shoes returned from the interior and gave an 
interesting account of the new country through which 
he had passed — a country to him not wholly new, be- 
cause he had been through it in 1811. He reported 
that the Iroquois, instead of trapping and hunting, 
had separated and were scattered all over the country 
by twos and threes, living with the Indians, without 
horses, without traps, without furs, and without cloth- 
ing. He left them as he found them. 

Of the region traversed, Mr McKenzie reported : 

"On our outward journey, the surface was moun- 
tainous and rugged, and still more so on our way back. 
Woods and valleys, rocks and plains, rivers and ra- 
vines, alternately met us; but altogether it is a delight- 
ful country. There animals of every class rove about 
undisturbed; wherever there was a little plain, the red 
deer were seen grazing in herds about the rivers; round 

74 Beyond the Old Frontier 

every other point were clusters of poplar and elder, 
and where there was a sapling, the ingenious and in- 
dustrious beaver was at work. Otters sported in the 
eddies; the wolf and the fox were seen sauntering in 
quest of prey; now and then a few cypresses or stunted 
pines were met with on the rocky parts, and in their 
spreading tops the raccoon sat secure. In the woods, 
the martin and black fox were numerous; the badger 
sat quietly looking from his mound; and in the number- 
less ravines, among bushes laden with fruits, the 
black, the brown, and the grisly bear were seen. The 
mountain sheep, and goat white as snow, browsed on 
the rocks, and ridges; and the big horn species ran 
among the lofty cliffs. Eagles and vultures, of un- 
common size, flew about the rivers. When we ap- 
proached, most of these animals stood motionless; they 
would then move off a Httle distance, but soon came 
anew to satisfy a curiosity that often proved fatal to 

"The report of a gun did not alarm them: they would 
give a frisk at each shot, and stand again; but when 
the flag was unfurled, being of a reddish hue, it was 
with apparent reluctance they would retire beyond the 
pleasing sight. Hordes of wild horses were likewise 
seen on this occasion; and of all the animals seen on 
our journey they were the wildest, for none of them 
could be approached; their scent is exceedingly keen, 
their hearing also; and in their curiosity they were never 
known to come at any time within gun-shot. One 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 75 

band of these contained more than two hundred. 
Some of them were browsing on the face of the hills; 
others were running like deer up and down the steeps; 
and some were galloping backwards and forwards on 
the brows of the sloping mountains, with their flowing 
manes and bushy tails streaming in the wind." 

Mr. McKenzie's successful trip commanded the ad- 
miration of all of the council of the head men at Fort 
George. Those who had formerly been opposed to 
him were now loud in his praises, and the establish- 
ment of Fort Nez Perces and the gaining of a foothold 
in the Snake country were warmly approved. He re- 
mained at Fort Nez Perces only seven days and then 
started back again. His report of the prospects in 
the Snake country was gratifying, but his people were 
giving great trouble. 


Fort Nez Perces was stockaded with an enclosure 
of pickets of sawn timber some twelve or fifteen feet 
high with four towers or bastions. The pickets were 
two and one-half feet broad by six inches thick. Near 
the top of the stockade was a balustrade four feet 
high, and a gallery five feet broad extended all around 
it, while the walls were loopholed. At each angle of 
the fort was a large reservoir holding two hundred gal- 
lons of water, and within the stockade were all the 

"](> Beyond the Old Frontier 

buildings, warehouses, stores, and dwelling-houses. 
These buildings were all loopholed and had sUding 
doors, and the trading-room was arranged with a 
small door in the wall, eighteen inches square, through 
which the Indians passed their furs, receiving from the 
traders on the inside the goods to which they were 
entitled. The outer gate was arranged to open and 
shut by a pulley, and besides this there were two 
double doors. Except on special occasions, the In- 
dians were never invited into the fort. Nevertheless, 
at the gate there was a house for the accommodation 
of the Indians, with fire, tobacco, and a man to look 
after them at all times. The Indians, however, did not 
Hke this arrangement, because it seemed to show sus- 
picion on the part of the white men; they themselves 
were suspicious of some plots. They asked whether 
the traders were afraid of them or afraid that they 
would steal, and while the traders denied that they were 
afraid of anything, they persisted in their plan, and at 
length the Indians accepted the situation. The traders 
were supplied with cannons, swivels, muskets, and bay- 
onets, boarding-pikes and hand-grenades, while above 
the gate stood a small mortar. The position was a 
strong one, and Ross calls it the "Gibraltar of Co- 
lumbia" and speaks of it as "a triumph of British 
energy and enterprise, of civilization over barbarism.'* 
McKenzie, on his return to the interior, had prom- 
ised to be at the river Skam-naugh about the 5th of 
June and had asked that an outfit with supplies for 

Fur Hunters of the Far West ^^ 

his party be sent to meet him there. For this reason 
Ross returned from his annual trip to Fort George 
nearly a month earHer than usual — by the 15th of 
May. A party of fifteen men under a clerk named 
Kittson was sent out to take McKenzie his supplies 
and reinforce him. Kittson was a new man in the 
service, and was full of confidence that he could handle 
and defeat all the Indians on the continent. He had 
good luck until the party got into the debatable land 
in the Snake territory, and here, first, a dozen of his 
horses were stolen, and then, a little later, all of 

Meantime McKenzie had had the usual difficulties 
with his Iroquois trappers, who could not be trusted 
with goods to trade with the Snakes. When the peo- 
ple whom he expected to meet at the river were not 
there, he sent out ten men to look for them. Two 
days after starting, as they were passing through a 
canyon, they met, face to face, the Indians who had 
just taken all of Kittson's horses, and, recognizing the 
animals, charged the three horse-thieves. One was 
killed, another wounded and escaped, and a third was 
taken captive, and the traders turned the herd about 
and drove the horses back to Kittson's camp. 

Kittson now had thirty-six men and joined Mc- 
Kenzie, on the way capturing two more Indian horse- 
thieves, caught at night while cutting loose the horses. 
Kittson handed over his supplies, received McKenzie's 
furs, and set out again for Fort Nez Perces. 

78 Beyond the Old Frontier 

When McKenzie and Kittson separated, the former 
had only three men left with him, for his Iroquois did 
not arrive, as expected. While waiting for them, a 
threatening party of mountain Snakes appeared at his 
camp, who were very importunate, so much so that 
at last McKenzie took from his pile of goods a keg 
of gunpowder and, Hghting a match, threatened, if the 
Indians continued to advance, to blow up the whole 
party. Taken by surprise, they hesitated, and then 
suddenly, without a word, took to flight, not from 
fear of the threats of McKenzie, but because of the 
sudden appearance of a large war-party of Shahaptians 
on the other side of the river. Fortunately, these peo- 
ple could not cross the high and rushing stream, but 
a little later they made an attack on Kittson's party 
and killed two of his men. As soon as the war-party 
had gone McKenzie and his men, with their property, 
crossed the channel of the river to an island, where 
they remained twenty-two days, until the return of 
Kittson. McKenzie and Kittson were now in a situa- 
tion not at all agreeable. On one side were the Nez 
Perces, on the other the Blackfeet, and all about were 
the Snakes. All these tribes were hostile to one an- 
other, and all of them more or less ill-disposed toward 
the whites, so the summer was an anxious one, but Mc- 
Kenzie purposed to winter in the upper country as 
well as he might. Here Ross interjects an interesting 
sketch of trappers' methods. 

*'A safe and secure spot, near wood and water, is first 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 79 

selected for the camp. Here the chief of the party 
resides with the property. It is often exposed to 
danger, or sudden attack, in the absence of the trap- 
pers, and requires a vigilant eye to guard against the 
lurking savages. The camp is called head quarters. 
From hence all the trappers, some on foot, some on 
horseback, according to the distance they have to go, 
start every morning, in small parties, in all directions, 
ranging the distance of some twenty miles around. 
Six traps is the allowance for each hunter; but to guard 
against wear and tear, the complement is more fre- 
quently ten. These he sets every night, and visits 
again in the morning; sometimes oftener, according to 
distance, or other circumstances. The beaver taken 
in the traps are always conveyed to the camp, skinned, 
stretched, dried, folded up with the hair in the inside, 
laid by, and the flesh used for food. No sooner, there- 
fore, has a hunter ^'isited his traps, set them again, and 
looked out for some other place, than he returns to the 
camp, to feast, and enjoy the pleasures of an idle day. 
"There is, however, much anxiety and danger in 
going through the ordinary routine of a trapper's duty. 
For as the enemy is generally lurking about among 
the rocks and hiding-places, watching an opportunity, 
the hunter has to keep a constant lookout; and the 
gun is often in one hand, while the trap is in the other. 
But when several are together, which is often the case 
in suspicious places, one-half set the traps, and the 
other half keep guard over them. Yet notwithstand- 

8o Beyond the Old Frontier 

ing all their precautions, some of them fall victims to 
Indian treachery. 

"The camp remains stationary while two-thirds of 
the trappers find beaver in the vicinity; but whenever 
the beaver becomes scarce, the camp is removed to 
some more favourable spot. In this manner, the party 
keeps moving from place to place, during the whole 
season of hunting. Whenever serious danger is appre- 
hended, all the trappers make for the camp. Were 
we, however, to calculate according to numbers, the 
prospects from such an expedition would be truly 
dazzling: say, seventy-five men, with each six traps, 
to be successfully employed during five months; that 
is, two in the spring, and three in the fall, equal to 
131 working days, the result would be 58,950 beaver! 
Practically, however, the case is very different. The ap- 
prehension of danger, at all times, is so great, that 
three-fourths of their time is lost in the necessary steps 
taken for their own safety. There is also another seri- 
ous drawback unavoidably accompanying every large 
party. The beaver is a timid animal; the least noise, 
therefore, made about its haunt will keep it from com- 
ing out for nights together; and noise is unavoidable 
when the party is large. But when the party is small, 
the hunter has a chance of being more or less success- 
ful. Indeed, were the nature of the ground such as 
to admit of the trappers moving about in safety, at 
all times, and alone, six men, with six traps each, would, 
in the same space of time, and at the same rate, kill 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 8i 

as many beavers — say 4,716 — as the whole seventy- 
five could be expected to do ! And yet the evil is with- 
out a remedy; for no small party can exist in these 
parts. Hence the reason why beavers are so numerous." 

Ross points out also some of the troubles that the 
traders must meet with, which troubles were largely 
due, of course, to the absolute inability of the Indians 
to comprehend the conditions of this new life. The 
Indians asked for everything that they saw and berated 
the traders because their requests were not compUed 
with. They were constantly playing jokes — or what 
they considered jokes — on the white men, which were 
irritating enough; and looked with contempt on the 
whites who were engaged in ordinary labor, which they, 
of course, did not in the least understand. The In- 
dians, with all their freedom, were far from happy, be- 
cause they were in a state of constant anxiety and alarm. 
People who felt themselves injured were likely to make 
war excursions and kill some one belonging to another 
tribe, which, of course, extended the field of the trouble. 

When fighting took place, and people supposedly 
friendly to the whites were injured, the traders were 
blamed, because they sold guns, powder, and balls to 
any one who might wish to trade with them. The 
Hfe of the trader was thus one of anxiety, and to 
handle the Indians successfully called for extraordinary 

Not long before this time some Shahaptians had 
killed two of Kittson's men and several Snakes. The 

82 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Snakes followed them, but before overtaking them 
came upon some Indians belonging to the Walla Walla, 
camped not three miles from Fort Nez Perces, where 
they killed a man, four women, and two children, and 
captured two young women and a man. The next 
day the whole Walla Walla camp moved down to the 
fort, carrying the bodies of the dead. Ross saw the 
disorderly procession coming on with shrieks and lam- 
entations, and at first did not know what to make of 
the advance, but presently the Indians reached the 
gate of the fort, placed their dead upon the ground 
there, and began to gash themselves with knives in 
the oldtime way of mourning. They called to Ross 
to come out to them, and he, while very reluctant, 
had no choice — if he was to retain his influence with 
them — but to obey. 

"Turning round to the sentinel at the door, I told 
him to lock the gate after me, and keep a sharp look 
out. The moment I appeared outside the gate, so 
horrible was the uproar, that it baffles all description. 
Intoxicated with wrath and savage rage, they resembled 
furies more than human beings; and their ghastly, 
wild, and forbidding looks were all directed towards 
mc, as if I had been the cause of their calamity. Tam- 
a-tap-um the chief then coming up to me, and pointing 
to one of the dead bodies, said, 'You see my sister 
there,' then uncovering the body to show the wounds, 
added, 'That is a ball hole.' 'The whites', said he 
again, 'have murdered our wives and our children. 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 83 

They have given guns and balls to our enemies. Those 
very guns and balls have killed our relations.' These 
words were no sooner uttered than they were repeated 
over and over again by the whole frantic crowd; who, 
hearing the chief, believed them to be true. Excite- 
ment was now at its height. Their gestures, their 
passionate exclamations, showed what was working 
within, and I expected every moment to receive a ball 
or an arrow. One word of interruption spoken by me 
at the critical moment, in favour of the whites, might 
have proved fatal to myself. I therefore remained 
silent, watching a favourable opportunity, and also ex- 
amining closely the holes in the garments of the dead 
bodies. The holes I was convinced were made by 
arrows, and not by balls as the chief had asserted; but 
it remained for me to convince others when an oppor- 
tunity offered. 

"Every violent fit of mourning was succeeded, as is 
generally the case among savages, by a momentary 
calm. As soon, therefore, as I perceived the rage of 
the crowd beginning to subside, and nature itself 
beginning to flag, I availed myself of the interval to 
speak in turn; for silence then would have been a tacit 
acknowledgment of our guilt. I therefore advanced, 
and taking the chief by the hand, said in a low tone of 
voice, as if overcome by grief, *My friend, what is all 
this? Give me an explanation. You do not love the 
whites; you have told me nothing yet.' Tam-a-tap-um 
then turning to his people, beckoned to them with the 

84 Beyond the Old Frontier 

hand to be silent; entire silence was not to be expected. 
He then went over the whole affair from beginning to 
end. When the chief ended, and the people were in a 
listening mood, I sympathized with their misfortunes, 
and observed that the whites had been undeservedly 
blamed. 'They are innocent,' said I, 'and that I can 
prove. Look at that,' said I, pointing to an arrow 
wound, which no one could mistake, 'the wounds are 
those of arrows, not balls. Nor were the Snakes 
themselves so much to blame; as we shall be able 
to show.' 

"At these assertions the chief looked angry, and 
there was a buzz of disapprobation, among the crowd; 
but I told the chief to listen patiently until I had done. 
The chief then composed himself, and I proceeded. 
'After your solemn acquiescence in a peace between 
yourselves and the Snakes, through the influence of 
the whites, the Shaw-ha-ap-tens violated the second 
pledge by going again to war, across the Blue Moun- 
tains; and not content with having killed their enemies, 
they killed their friends also. They killed two of the 
whites. The Snakes in the act of retahation have there- 
fore made you all to mourn this day; they have made 
the whites to mourn also. But your loss is less than 
ours; your relations have been killed; but still you 
have their bodies: that consolation is denied us. Our 
friends have been killed, but we know not where their 
bodies lie.' These facts neither the chief nor the 
crowd could gainsay. The chief, with a loud voice, 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 85 

explained what I had said to the listening multitude; 
when they with one voice exclaimed, *It is true, it is 
true!* Leaving the chief, I then entered the fort, and 
taking some red cloth, laid six inches of it on each body, 
as a token of sympathy; then I told them to go and 
bury their dead. A loud fit of lamentation closed the 
scene. The bodies were then taken up, and the crowd 
moved off, in a quiet and orderly manner. 

"But the satisfaction we enjoyed at the departure 
of the savages was of short duration, for they were 
scarcely out of sight, and I scarcely inside the door, 
when another band, related to those who had been 
killed, arrived at the fort gate, and the loud and clam- 
orous scene of mourning was again renewed. 

"Among this second crowd of visitors was a fellow 
dignified by the name of Prince, and brother to one of 
the young women who had been carried off by the 
Snakes. Prince encamped within fifty yards of the 
fort, and his tent was no sooner pitched than he began 
to chant the song of death. When an Indian resorts 
to this mode of mourning, it is a sure sign that, *he has 
thrown his body away,* as the Indians term it, and 
meditates self-destruction. Being told of Prince's 
resolution, I went to his tent to see him, and found him 
standing, with his breast leaning upon the muzzle of 
his gun; his hair was dishevelled, and he was singing 
with great vehemence: he never raised his head to see 
who I was. I knew all was not right, and spoke to 
him; but receiving no answer, I went away, on my re- 

86 Beyond the Old Frontier 

turn to the fort. I had scarcely advanced twenty 
yards from his tent, before I heard the report of a gun 
behind me, and turning back again, I found the unfort- 
unate fellow lying on the ground weltering in his 
blood, his gun partly under him. He was still breath- 
ing. The ball had entered his left breast, below the 
nipple, and came out near the backbone. The wound 
was bleeding freely, and he disgorged great quantities 
of blood. I went to the fort for some assistance, but 
on our return I expected that every moment would 
have been his last; however we dressed his wound, and 
did what we could to allay his suffering. 

"The Indians now assembled in great numbers, and 
were noisy and violent. In the first instance, they 
threw all the blame of the unfortunate affair on the 
whites; but in their rage and violence, they quarrelled 
among themselves, and this new direction in their 
excitement removed the odium in some degree from the 
whites, and diverted the tide of popular fury into an- 
other channel. During the affair, one of those unfort- 
unate wretches called medicine-men happened to be 
sitting at the fort gate, when a brother of the man 
who had just shot himself went up to him, saying, 
'You dog! you have thrown your bad medicine on 
my brother, and he is dead; but you shall not Uve,' 
and in saying so, he shot him dead on the spot. The 
ball, after passing through the man's body, went more 
than three inches into one of the fort palisades. I was 
standing on the gallery at the moment he was shot, 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 87 

and had it been on any other occasion but in the midst 
of a quarrel between the Indians, we certainly should 
have avenged his death on the spot; for the murdered 
man was an excellent Indian, and a sincere friend of 
the whites. 

"The scene now assumed a threatening aspect. 
Guns, bows, arrows, and every missile that could be 
laid hold of, came into requisition; and robes, feathers, 
bells, belts, and trinkets of every description, were 
rattling about in true savage style. The fellow who 
had just shot the medicine-man was shot in his turn, 
and before the chiefs arrived, or could get a hearing, 
three others were shot. The place appeared more Hke 
a field of battle than anything else; for besides the five 
bodies that lay hfeless on the ground, twice that num- 
ber were desperately wounded. 

"As soon as the deadly quarrel began, not knowing 
the intent of the Indians, nor how it might end, I 
shut the gates, and kept as clear of the quarrel as pos- 
sible. In the midst of the confusion, the Indians 
poured in from all quarters, adding fuel to the flame; 
and some of them in approaching the place, thinking 
it was a quarrel between the whites and themselves, 
fired a shot or two at the fort before they were aware 
of the mistake. This made us take to our bastions: 
our matches were Hghted, guns pointed, and we our- 
selves watched the maneuvres of the savages around 
us. One unguarded shot would have involved us in 
the quarrel, which it was our interest to avoid; as it 

88 Beyond the Old Frontier 

would have put an end to all our prospects in the Snake 
as well as the Nez Perces quarter. 

"As soon as the chiefs could get a hearing, peace 
was generally restored; and the five dead bodies were 
removed to the Indian camp, at a distance from the 
fort. Such a scene I should never wish to witness 
again. This affray, happening at our very door, gave 
us much uneasiness; as to keep the balance of good will 
at all times in our favour was a task of more than or- 
dinary diificulty." 

The next day more Indians came in, and soon several 
tribes were represented. The whites were indirectly 
taxed with all the troubles, and there was a vast deal 
of speech-making and many threats. At last, how- 
ever, after a week of counselling, the matter quieted 
down, the different tribes all smoked together, and 
peace was made — to last for a time. 

Ross has much to say about the different tribes of 
Shoshoni stock and their relations to each other. He 
was long with them and studied them carefully. 

The Ban-at-tees, which we call Bannocks, seem to 
have been held by the Snake tribes to the south and 
west as chargeable with most of the disturbances be- 
tween the whites and the Snakes, and after a time it 
developed that the Indians that murdered Mr. Reid 
and his party in the autumn of 1813 were Bannocks. 

During the winter a hunter named Hodgens became 
separated from his party during a violent snow-storm 
and lost his way. A little later, in the same way, 


Fur Hunters of the Far West 89 

he lost his horse; his gun became broken so that he 
could not make a fire, and during two days and two 
nights he was obhged to lie out without fire. 

**0n the fourteenth day, however, while scarcely 
able to crawl, he had the good luck to fall on the main 
camp of the War-are-ree-kas; where recognizing the 
chiefs tent, from the manner in which it was painted, 
he advanced towards it, looking more Hke a ghost than 
a Hving being. On his entering, Ama-ketsa, surprised 
at his unexpected arrival, and still more surprised at 
his emaciated appearance, stared him in the face for 
some time, and could scarcely believe that it was a 
white man; but as soon as he was convinced of the 
reahty, and made acquainted with the wanderer's for- 
lorn state, he ordered one of his wives to put a new 
pair of shoes on his feet, gave him something to eat, 
and was extremely kind to him. Here Hodgens re- 
mained for eleven days in the chiefs tent, nursed with 
all the care and attention of a child of the family, until 
his strength was recovered; and as soon as he was on 
his legs again, Ama-ketsa furnished him with a horse, 
some provisions, and sent one of his own sons to con- 
duct him to the whites. Although Hodgens could give 
the Indians no clue as to where the hunters were en- 
camped, yet on the eighth day they arrived safe and 
sound at their friends', and as straight as if they had 
been led by a line to them; which convinced our 
people that the Indians knew well the place of their 
retreat. . . . 

go Beyond the Old Frontier 

"A party of our people had been out a whole week 
in search of Hodgens, and found his dead horse, but 
despairing of finding him they returned to their camp; 
and all hope of ever finding Hodgens aUve vanished: 
when he did come, their astonishment was equal to 
their delight. The friendly conduct of Ama-ketsa 
towards him was a strong proof of that chiefs good- 
will towards our people. During our friends' stay in 
this place they had several surprises from the Indians, 
but they managed matters so well that no more of 
their horses were stolen." 

There is distinct reference in this volume to the 
Yellowstone National Park, which may very well have 
been visited by Ross or some of his trappers. He 
speaks of "Pilot Knobs" — ^the Three Tetons — salt 
and sulphur springs and of boiling fountains, some of 
them so hot as to boil meat. These allusions do not, 
of course, necessarily refer to Yellowstone Park, for 
there are many other places in the Rocky Mountains 
where such things are found, but the references to the 
Three Tetons and to the source of the Lewis River 
are suggestive enough. 

Ross speaks also of various foods of the country; 
of the use of horse flesh and dog flesh and also of the 
Snake tobacco, which, for a time at least, the Indians 
preferred to that imported by the whites. He credits 
the Snake Indians with extraordinary skill in wood- 
craft, shown especially by the methods they employ 
to avoid possible enemies. 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 91 


The time was now at hand when the Northwest 
Company should be merged into the Hudson Bay Com- 
pany. This consoHdation naturally cast a gloom over 
the retainers of the Northwest Company wherever 
they were situated. The people who had been em- 
ployed by the Northwest Company were uncertain 
where they stood. Those who had been promoted 
prior to the "deed-poll" — March 26, 1821 — ^were pro- 
vided for by the Hudson Bay Company, whereas all 
others were excluded from these benefits. Some of 
them, however, received pecuniary compensation for 
their disappointment, and of these Ross was one, or 
he was told by an officer of the company that five 
hundred pounds sterling had been placed to his credit, 
but of this he never received a penny. 

Ross now entered the service of the Hudson Bay 
Company. He had been for a short time with the 
Pacific Fur Company; had spent seven years with the 
Northwest Company and, except for his experience, 
was about where he had been when he started. 

The servants of the Northwest Company had been 
in the habit of depositing their savings with the firm 
which was its head, and a few years after the consoli- 
dation of the two companies this concern failed and 
all these savings disappeared. 

92 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Toward the end of his first volume, after much in- 
formation about Indians, half-breeds, trading, trap- 
pers, and travel, Ross draws an interesting picture of 
the manner in which the bourgeois — or proprietary- 
partner — ^journeys through the fur country, and the 
absolute loyalty to him and to the company felt by 
the voyageurs, who were, indeed, the backbone of the 
northern fur trade. He says: 

"The bourgeois is carried on board his canoe upon 
the back of some sturdy fellow generally appointed for 
this purpose. He seats himself on a convenient mat- 
tress, somewhat low in the centre of his canoe; his gun 
by his side, his little cherubs fondling around him, and 
his faithful spaniel lying at his feet. No sooner is he 
at his ease, than his pipe is presented by his attendant, 
and he then begins smoking, while his silken banner 
undulates over the stern of his painted vessel. Then 
the bending paddles are pHed, and the fragile craft 
speeds through the currents with a degree of fleetness 
not to be surpassed; — ^yell upon yell from the hearty 
crew proclaiming their prowess and skill. 

"A hundred miles performed, night arrives; the 
hands jump out quickly into the water, and their na- 
bob and his companions are supported to terra firma. 
A roaring fire is kindled and supper is served; his 
honour then retires to enjoy his repose. At dawn of 
day they set out again; the men now and then relax 
their arms, and light their pipes; but no sooner does 
the headway of the canoe die away, than they renew 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 93 

their labours and their chorus: a particular voice being 
ever selected to lead the song. The guide conducts 
the march. 

'*At the hour of breakfast they put ashore on some 
green plot. The tea-kettle is boihng; a variegated mat 
is spread, and a cold collation set out. Twenty min- 
utes — and they start anew. The dinner-hour arrives, 
they put aground again. The Hquor-can accompanies 
the provision-basket; the contents are quickly set forth 
in simple style; and, after a refreshment of twenty 
minutes more, off they set again, until the twilight 
checks their progress. 

"When it is practicable to make way in the dark, 
four hours is the voyageurs' allowance of rest; and at 
times, on boisterous lakes and bold shores, they keep 
for days and nights together on the water, without 
intermission, and without repose. They sing to keep 
time to their paddles; they sing to keep off drowsiness, 
caused by their fatigue; and they sing because the 
bourgeois Hkes it. 

"Through hardships and dangers, wherever he leads, 
they are sure to follow with alacrity and cheerfulness — 
over mountains and hills, along valleys and dales, 
through woods and creeks, across lakes and rivers. 
They look not to the right, nor to the left; they make 
no halt in foul or fair weather. Such is their skill, that 
they venture to sail in the midst of waters like oceans, 
and, with amazing aptitude, they shoot down the most 
frightful rapids; and they generally come off safely. 

94 Beyond the Old Frontier 

"When about to arrive at the place of their destina- 
tion, they dress with neatness, put on their plumes, and 
a chosen song is raised. They push up against the 
beach, as if they meant to dash the canoe into splin- 
ters; but most adroitly back their paddles at the right 
moment; whilst the foreman springs on shore, and, 
seizing the prow, arrests the vessel in its course. On 
this joyful occasion, every person advances to the 
waterside, and great guns are fired to announce the 
bourgeois' arrival. A general shaking of hands takes 
place, as it often happens that people have not met for 
years: even the bourgeois goes through this mode of 
salutation with the meanest. There is, perhaps, no 
country where the ties of affection are more binding 
than here. Each addresses his comrades as his broth- 
ers; and all address themselves to the bourgeois with 
reverence, as if he were their father." 

About this time, Mr. McKenzie retired from the 
fur trade and went to live in northern New York. 
This left without occupation a number of hunters and 
trappers in the country, where Ross was stationed, and 
Ross made up his mind to leave the country and aban- 
don the business which he had so long followed. He 
was still merely a clerk in the service of the great com- 
pany. Finan McDonald, a Northwest veteran, now in 
the service of the Hudson Bay Company, was to be in 
charge of the people in the Snake country, and a little 
later John Warren Dease, a chief trader in the new 
company, reached Fort Nez Perces and told Ross that 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 95 

he had been named to take charge of the fort and the 
country immediately about it, while Ross was to suc- 
ceed McKenzie in charge of the Snake country. 

Nevertheless, Ross was determined to go back to the 
East and had started with his family, but on his way — 
when he reached the Rocky Mountains — he received a 
letter from Governor Simpson, offering him the man- 
agement of the Snake country for three years at a 
Hberal salary. Ross hesitated to accept, but finally 
did so, and went to Spokane House to make up his 
party. McDonald had recently come in there and with 
much grumbhng; for he had had trouble with the Pie- 
gan Blackfeet, in which one of his men had been shot 
by treachery, and in a pitched battle afterward had with 
the same party he lost seven more of his men. 

The account of this battle may properly be inserted 

"One day, when they nad travelled until dark in 
search of water, they found some at the bottom of a 
deep and rocky ravine, down which they went and en- 
camped. They had seen no traces of enemies during 
the day, and being tired, they all went to sleep, without 
keeping watch. In the morning, however, just at the 
dawn of day, they were saluted from the top of the 
ravine before they got up, with a volley of balls about 
their ears; without, however, any being killed or 
wounded : one of them had the stock of his gun pierced 
through with a ball, and another of them his powder- 
horn shivered to pieces; but this was all the injury they 


Beyond the Old Frontier 

sustained from the enemy's discharge. The alarm was 
instantly given, all hands in confusion sprang up and 
went out to see what was the matter; some with one 
shoe on and the other off, others naked, with a gun in 
one hand and their clothes in the other. When they 
perceived the Indians on the top of the rocks, yelHng 
and flourishing their arms, the whites gave a loud 
huzza, and all hands were collected together in an 
instant; but the Indians instead of taking advantage 
of their position, wheeled about and marched oflF with- 
out firing another shot. 

"McDonald, at the head of thirty men, set out to 
pursue them; but finding the ravine too steep and rocky 
to ascend, they were apprehensive that the sudden dis- 
appearance of the Indians was a stratagem to entrap 
them, when they might have been popped off* by the 
enemy from behind stones and trees, without having 
an opportunity of defending themselves. Acting on 
this opinion, they returned, and taking a supply of 
powder and ball with them, they mounted their horses, 
to the number of forty-five, and then pursued the 
enemy, leaving twenty men behind to guard the camp. 
When our people got to the head of the ravine, the 
Indians were about a mile off", and all on foot, having 
no horses, with the exception of five for carrying their 
luggage; and our people, before they could get up 
with them, had to pass another ravine still deeper and 
broader than the one they were encamped in, so that 
before they got down on one side of it the enemy had 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 97 

got up on the other side. And here again the Indians 
did not avail themselves of their advantage, but al- 
lowed our people to follow without firing a shot at 
them, as if encouraging them on; and so bold and con- 
fident were they, that many of them bent themselves 
down in a posture of contempt, by way of bidding 
them defiance. 

"As soon as our people had got over the second 
ravine, they took a sweep, wheeled about, and met the 
Indians in the teeth; then dismounting, the battle 
began, without a word being spoken on either side. 
As soon as the firing commenced, the Indians began 
their frantic gestures, and whooped and yelled with the 
view of intimidating; they fought like demons, one 
fellow all the time waving a scalp on the end of a pole : 
nor did they yield an inch of ground till more than 
twenty of them lay dead; at last, they threw down 
their guns, and held up their hands as a signal of peace. 
By this time our people had lost three men, and not 
thinking they had yet taken ample vengeance for 
their death, they made a rush on the Indians, killed 
the fellow who held the pole, and carried oflF the scalp 
and the five horses. The Indians then made a simul- 
taneous dash on one side, and got into a small coppice 
of wood, leaving their dead on the spot where they fell. 
Our people supposed that they had first laid down their 
arms and next taken to the bush because they were 
short of ammunition, as many of the shots latterly 
were but mere puffs. Unfortunately for the Indians, 


Beyond the Old Frontier 

the scalp taken proved to be none other than poor 
Anderson's, and this double proof of their guilt so 
enraged our people, that to the bush they followed 

"McDonald sent to the camp for buck-shot, and 
then poured volleys into the bush among them, from 
the distance of some twenty or thirty yards, till they 
had expended fifty-six pounds weight; the Indians all 
this time only firing a single shot now and then when 
the folly and imprudence of our people led them too 
near; but they seldom missed their mark, and here 
three more of the whites fell. At this part of the 
conflict, two of our own people, an Iroquois and a 
Canadian, got into a high dispute which was the bravest 
man; when the former challenged the latter to go with 
him into the bush and scalp a Piegan. The Canadian 
accepted the challenge; taking each other by one hand, 
with a scalping knife in the other, savage Hke, they 
entered the bush, and advanced until they were within 
four or five feet of a Piegan, when the Iroquois said, 'I 
will scalp this one, you go and scalp another;' but just 
as the Iroquois was in the act of stretching out his hand 
to lay hold of his victim the Piegan shot him through 
the head, and so bespattered the Canadian with his 
brains that he was almost blind; the latter, however, 
got back again to his comrades, but deferred taking the 

"M'Donald and his men being fatigued with firing, 
thought of another and more effectual plan of destroy- 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 99 

ing the Piegans. It blew a strong gale of wind at the 
time, so they set fire to the bush of dry and decayed 
wood; it burnt with the rapidity of straw, and the 
devouring element laid the whole bush in ashes in a 
very short time. When it was first proposed, the ques- 
tion arose who should go and fire the bush, at the muz- 
zle of the Piegans' guns. 'The oldest man in the 
camp,' said M'Donald; 'and I'll guard him.' The lot 
fell upon Bastony, a superannuated hunter on the 
wrong side of seventy; the poor and wrinkled old man 
took the torch in his hand and advanced, trembHng 
every step with the fear of instant death before him; 
while M'Donald and some others walked at his heels 
with their guns cocked. The bush was fired, the party 
returned, and volleys of buck-shot were again poured 
into the bush to aid the fire in the work of destruction. 
"About one hundred yards from the burning bush, 
was another much larger bush, and while the fire was 
consuming the one, our people advanced and stationed 
themselves at the end of the other, to intercept any of 
the Piegans who might attempt the doubtful alter- 
native of saving themselves by taking refuge in it. To 
ensure success, our people left open the passage from 
the one bush to the other, while they themselves stood 
in two rows, one upon each side, with their guns cocked; 
suddenly the half-roasted Piegans, after uttering a 
scream of despair, burst through the flames and made a 
last and expiring effort to gain the other bush; then 
our people poured in upon each side of them a fatal 

loo Beyond the Old Frontier 

volley of ball and buck-shot, which almost finished 
what the flames had spared. Yet, notwithstanding all 
these sanguinary precautions, a remnant escaped by 
getting into the bush. The wounded victims who 
fell under the last volley, the Iroquois dealt with in their 
own way — ^with the knife. 

"After the massacre was ended, our people col- 
lected their dead and returned to the camp at sunset; 
not we should suppose to rejoice, but rather to mourn. 
We afterwards learned that only seven out of the 
seventy-five which formed the party of the unfortunate 
Piegans, returned home to relate the mournful tale. 
Although our people were drawn into this unfortunate 
affair with justice on their side, yet they persevered in 
it with folly and ended it with cruelty : no wonder, then, 
if they afterwards paid for their cruelty with their 
own blood." 

After a short stay at Spokane House, Ross, who had 
been given — on paper — a force of eighty men, was able 
to get together only forty, a number of whom were 
quite unsatisfactory. At the Flathead River post, at 
the foot of the mountains, he picked up fourteen more, 
making the whole party fifty-five. It was a curious 
mixture of Americans, Canadian Frenchmen, half- 
breeds, Iroquois, natives of eastern Canada, Saulteaux, 
Crees, Spokanes, Kutenais, Flatheads, KaHspels, Pa- 
louse, and one Snake. Of the Canadians, five were 
more than sixty years of age, and two more than 
seventy. The Iroquois were good hunters, but un- 

Fur Hunters of the Far West loi 

trustworthy, while the local Indians were useful chiefly 
in looking after the horses. Twenty-five of the people 
were married, so that in the company there were 
twenty-five women and sixty-four children. They 
carried with them a brass three-pounder cannon, more 
than two hundred beaver-traps, and about four hundred 
horses. It is understood, of course, that they carried 
no provisions, depending wholly on their guns for food, 
and Ross complains that on the day of starting they 
had killed but one deer, a slender repast for one hun- 
dred and thirty-seven hungry mouths. 

Trouble with the Iroquois began almost at once. 
Having received their advances, they thought little 
about the debts that they owed for guns, horses, traps, 
clothing, and ammunition. 

At a defile in Hell's Gate, where the Piegans and Black- 
feet used to cross the mountains on their war journeys, 
they camped for some httle time, and here the hunters, 
to their great satisfaction, killed four wild horses, be- 
sides twenty-seven elk and thirty-two small deer. The 
capture of the horses was a great triumph for the hunt- 
ers, who were more deHghted with their success in this 
Httle adventure than if they had killed a hundred 

Not long after this, two Iroquois deserted and turned 
back, and the leader, having previously lost another 
Iroquois by desertion, felt that this must be stopped. 
He therefore followed the deserters about sixteen 
miles back on the trail and captured them, but they 

I02 Beyond the Old Frontier 

refused to return, and it was necessary to threaten to 
tie one of them to a horse's tail before he would con- 
sent to go. 

They were frequently meeting Indians; Piegans first 
and then Nez Perces, and whenever strangers were met 
with, the Iroquois traded off their property, even to 
their guns, receiving in return what Ross calls "trash." 

The weather was now growing cold, partly, perhaps, 
because they were cHmbing all the time. Beaver were 
plenty and elk, deer, and mountain goats extremely 
abundant. They were now getting close to the head 
of the Flathead River and were fronting great moun- 
tains, largely snow-covered. Six men were sent out to 
try to find a way through the mountains, and at length 
returned reporting that it was quite impracticable to 
cross the mountains here, because after reaching the 
plateau above the timber the snow was five or six feet 
deep for about twelve long miles. Beyond the moun- 
tains, however, they said, was a large open plain where 
the snow was scarcely a foot deep. These scouts had 
killed buffalo and brought in backloads of it. To travel 
with horses for a dozen miles, through snow five or six 
feet deep and crusted, was quite impossible, and Ross 
was bitterly discouraged. Nevertheless, he deter- 
mined that this was the best way to cross the moun- 
tains, and sent the men back to camp, with instructions 
to greatly modify their story for the ears of the people. 
The outcome of it was that, after much counseUing and 
more or less quarrelling, the party started to break a 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 103 

way through this snow-covered plateau. It proved 
much more difficult than even Ross had supposed, 
but by working with horses and men and using wooden 
mallets to break the crust, and shovels to cut the way, 
they at length, thirty-three days from the time they 
reached that camp and after twenty-one days' extraor- 
dinary labor, got through the snow and came out on 
the other side, where there was feed for the horses and 
game for the men. Now, however, they were in the 
enemy's country, for it was here that the Blackfeet 
were constantly travelling about, and just beyond here 
that McDonald had lost seven of his men the year 

Just after they came down out of the mountains, 
they crossed the trail made by Lewis and Clark up the 
middle fork of the Missouri, nearly twenty years before. 

After they had passed beyond the snow, they found 
beaver extraordinarily abundant in certain localities. 
At one place they took ninety-five beaver in a single 
morning and sixty more during the same day. But, 
as they continued to go down the mountains, the 
beaver became more scarce, but the snow was less. 
The young grass had started, and buffalo were enor- 
mously abundant, though at this time not fat. Black- 
feet and Piegan war roads were constantly crossed, 
and fresh tracks of men and horses often seen. These 
signs made Ross more and more vigilant, and pres- 
ently he discovered that his Iroquois were turning out 
their horses to wander among the hills, and although 

I04 Beyond the Old Frontier 

he warned them against repeating this, they paid Httle 
attention to the warning. Under such carelessness it 
was evident that any war-party discovering the trap- 
pers would have no difficulty in running ofF the ani- 
mals. These, though nominally belonging to the in- 
dividuals who used them, had been obtained on credit 
from the company, and if they were stolen, the loss 
would be the company's. Only a day or two later, 
Martin, an Iroquois, was discovered to have turned 
loose six horses, whereupon Ross sent out for the horses, 
took them back into his own charge, gave Martin 
credit for the horses, and proceeded to move camp. 
Martin and his family remained sitting by the fire. 
However, the other Iroquois brought them along on 
some of their horses, and at night old men came to 
Ross to intercede with him, begging him to give back 
the horses to Martin. After much persuasion he did 
so, and the example was not forgotten either by the 
Iroquois or by others of the trappers. 

The party proceeded eastward with disappointing 
results, for they found few beaver. Before long, there- 
fore, they turned back, and, passing over the divide 
between the Salmon and Goddin Rivers, Ross sent off 
eight men to trap it downstream, but made them leave 
their horses behind, in order that they might more 
readily conceal themselves from the enemy, for Piegan 
Blackfeet were thought to be in the country. Mean- 
time, the main party went off to John Day's Valley to 
supply themselves with buffalo meat, for recently 

Fur Hunters of the Far West loj 

game had been scarce and they had been wasteful of 
food when they had passed through a country of 

From a camp in Day's Valley, two men were sent to 
Goddin River to bring back the eight who had been 
trapping there, and these messengers, carelessly ad- 
vancing toward a smoke, which they took to be the 
fire of their own people, walked into the camp of a 
Piegan war-party. Their horses were captured, but 
the men threw themselves into the undergrowth and 
escaped by creeping along the margin of the river under 
its banks, which were overgrown with bushes. In the 
middle of the second night, they reached the camp in 
rags, with moccasins wholly worn out. A party of 
thirty-five started in pursuit of the Piegans. They did 
not overtake them, but found the eight trappers safe. 
They had slept within half a mile of the Piegan camp, 
neither party being aware of the presence of the other. 

Passing over high, rough country, and pestered by 
the Iroquois, who spent most of their time in trying to 
get away from the main party, they reached the 
Riviere aux Malades. Ross now thought it best to 
let the Iroquois go off and hunt by themselves, but not 
all of them wished to go, and two of those who had 
given most trouble — Grey and Martin — preferred to 
remain with the main party. On the Malades River, 
there were good signs of beaver, and in one place they 
counted one hundred and forty-eight poplar trees cut 
down by that animal, in a space less than one hundred 

io6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

yards square. The first night they got fifty-two 
beaver, but were troubled by the rising and the falling 
of the water, caused, of course, by the melting of the 
snows on the mountains. 

One afternoon a Piegan war-party, discovered ap- 
proaching the camp, caused the greatest excitement. 
They did not attack, and presently Ross went out to 
meet them, gave them some tobacco, and told them 
to remain where they were. There were ninety- two 
Indians, and after a time Ross invited them to the 
camp, where they passed the night in smoking, dancing, 
and singing. Ross secured the Piegan arms, ordered 
forty of their horses hobbled and put in with the traders' 
horses, and thus provided against any hostile action. 
These Piegans claimed to be on a peace mission to 
the Shoshoni, and denied all knowledge of the horses 
taken from the two trappers only a few days before. 
Ross believed that they felt themselves too few to at- 
tack his party and planning to give them a fright, he 
seized two of their horses and four of their guns, to 
repay the loss of the horses and traps on Goddin River. 
The Piegans were humble and apologetic and denied 
everything, and finally Ross returned their property 
and gave them a Httle tobacco and ammunition. 
They went off in separate parties, but before they dis- 
appeared in the mountains all gathered together again. 

A little later another Piegan war-party came to the 
camp in Ross's absence; but he returned before they 
had entered the camp. There were one hundred and 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 107 

ten of these, but they were badly armed, having only 
twenty-three guns and little or no ammunition. They 
professed to be friendly, and declared that they were 
not trying to take the property of the whites; for two 
nights before they had come into the camp and gone 
about among the horses, and had left evidences of 
their presence by moving a piece of meat which was 
roasting at the fire, and by rubbing two spots of red 
paint on a riding saddle at one of the tent doors. 
The chief who talked with Ross seemed so honest and 
frank that he was given some ammunition, tobacco, 
and a knife, and the two parties separated in a very 
friendly manner. Only a little later, they came across 
a Snake camp, to which also had come a number of 
Cayuse chiefs, and here were held ceremonial smokes 
and speeches, of a most friendly character. 

Dropping down Reid's River and trapping con- 
stantly, the party at last reached another great Snake 
camp. By this time they had 1,855 beaver. In this 
neighborhood there was more or less trouble. The 
Indians practised all sorts of stratagems to secure the 
horses of the trappers, and did succeed in getting ten 
of them, eight of which were later returned. The na- 
tives also took a number of traps. Moreover, as they 
were not punished for what they did, their boldness 
grew, and at last an Indian picked up a bundle and 
when it was taken from him by force, he strung his 
bow and threatened to shoot the man. Ross gave his 
people much good advice, and pointed out that if they 

io8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

would stick together they were perfectly able to cow 
the Snakes; but they must act together. His plan 
was to capture and hold ten of the Indians' horses as 
security for property that had been taken. They went 
out and caught the horses, and when they returned 
with them to the camp, finding two Indians there, 
they counted out one hundred bullets, and loaded their 
cannon, letting the Indians see what was being done, 
and sent a message to the camp that as soon as the 
stolen traps had been deUvered, they would give up 
the horses. 

"When the two Indians had returned with the mes- 
sage to their camp, I instructed my people to have their 
arms in readiness, in such a position that each man could 
have his eye upon his gun, and could lay hold of it at 
a moment's warning; but to appear as careless as if 
nothing was expected. That if the Indians did come, 
as they certainly would, to claim their horses, and in- 
sisted on taking them, I would reason the matter with 
them; and when that failed, I would give the most for- 
ward of them a blow with my pipe stem, which was 
to be the signal for my people to act. The moment, 
therefore, the signal was given, the men were to shout 
according to Indian custom, seize, and make a demon- 
stration with their arms; but were not to fire, until I 
had first set the example. During this time there 
was a great stir in the Indian camp; people were ob- 
served running to and fro, and we awaited the result 
with anxiety. 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 109 

"Not long after, we saw a procession of some fifty 
or sixty persons, all on foot and unarmed, advancing 
in a very orderly manner towards our camp; in front 
of which was placed our big gun, well loaded, pointed, 
and the match Ht. My men were in the rear, whistling, 
singing, and apparently indifferent. On the Indians 
coming up to me and another man, who stood in front 
to receive them near to where the horses were tied, I 
drew a line of privilege, and made signs for them not 
to pass it. They, however, looked very angry, and 
observed the line with reluctance, so that I had to 
beckon to them several times before I was obeyed, or 
could make them understand. At last they made a 
sort of irregular halt. 

"I then made signs for the Indians to sit down; but 
they shook their heads. I asked where was Ama- 
ketsa; but got no satisfactory reply. One of the fel- 
lows immediately introduced the subject of the horses, 
in very fierce and insolent language; I however, to 
pacify him, and make friends, spoke kindly to them, 
and began to reason the matter, and explain it to them 
as well as I could; but the fellow already noticed, being 
more forward and daring than the rest, sneered at my 
argument, and at once laid hold of one of the horses 
by the halter, and endeavoured to take it away with- 
out further ceremony. I laid hold of the halter, in 
order to prevent him, and the fellow every now and 
then gave a tug to get the halter out of my hand; the 
others kept urging him on, and they were the more 

no Beyond the Old Frontier 

encouraged, seeing my people did not interfere; the 
latter were, however, on the alert, waiting impatiently 
for the signal, without the Indians being in the least 
aware of it. Beginning to get a little out of humour, 
I made signs to the Indian, that if he did not let go, 
I would knock him down; but, prompted no doubt by 
the strong party that backed him, and seeing no one 
with me, he disregarded my threat by giving another 
tug at the halter. I then struck him smartly on the 
side of the head with my pipe stem, and sent him reel- 
ing back among his companions; upon which my men 
sprang up, seized their arms, and gave a loud shout! 
The sudden act, with the terror conveyed by the cock- 
ing of so many guns, so surprised the Indians that they 
lost all presence of mind; throwing their robes, gar- 
ments, and all from them, they plunged headlong into 
the river, and swam with the current till out of dan- 
ger, every now and then popping up their heads and 
diving again, like so many wild fowl! In less than a 
minute's time, there was not a soul of the embassy to 
be seen about our camp! Never was anything more 

"It may be satisfactory to the reader to know what 
kind of pipe stem it was that one could strike a heavy 
blow with. The pipe-bowls generally used, both by 
Indians and Indian traders, are made of stone, and are 
large and heavy; the stems resemble a walking-stick 
more than anything else, and they are generally of 
ash, and from two-and-a-half to three feet long. 

Fur Hunters of the Far West iii 

"We had intended removing camp the same day; 
but after what had happened, I thought it better to 
pass another day where we were, in order to give the 
Snakes as well as ourselves an opportunity of making 
up matters. Not a soul, however, came near us all 
that day afterwards, and we were at a loss to find out 
what was going on in the Snake camp. I therefore got 
about twenty of my men mounted on horseback, to 
take a turn round, in order to observe the movements 
of the Indians, but they having brought me word that 
the women were all employed in their usual duties, I 
felt satisfied. 

"During the following day, ten persons were ob- 
served making for our camp, who, on arrival, spread 
out a buffalo robe, on which was laid all our stolen 
traps! some whole, some broken into several pieces, 
which they had been flattening for knives; the whole 
rendered almost useless to us. Ama-ketsa, who had 
not been present at the affray of the preceding day, 
accompanied this party, and made a long and appar- 
ently earnest apology for the loss of our traps, and the 
misunderstanding that ensued; but he did not forget 
to exculpate his own people from all blame, laying the 
odium of the whole affair on the Banatees. We knew 
the contrary: the War-are-ree-kas were the guilty 
parties, and perhaps Ama-ketsa himself was not alto- 
gether innocent; at least, some of his people said so. 
We, however, accepted the apology, and the traps, as 
they were; and delivering up all the horses, treated the 

112 Beyond the Old Frontier 

chief with due honours, satisfied that the business ended 
so well. 

'*The chief had no sooner returned to his camp with 
the horses, than a brisk trade was opened; the Indians, 
men, women, and children, coming to us with as much 
confidence as if nothing had happened. On the next 
morning, while we were preparing to start, one of my 
men fell from his horse and broke his thigh; we, how- 
ever, got it so set, as not to prevent our removal. 
Although everything wore the appearance of peace, 
yet I thought it necessary to take precautions, in order 
to avoid any trouble with the natives in passing their 
camp. I therefore appointed ten men mounted on 
horseback to go before, the camp followed in order 
after, while myself and twenty men brought up the 
rear; and all was peace and good order." 

After a wide round from here they found them- 
selves again on the Malades River, where thirty-seven 
of the people were poisoned, apparently by beaver 
meat, and it was from this circumstance that the river 
got its name. Just beyond this, they captured a 
Bannock, by whom they were told that the beavers 
with the white flesh — supposedly poisonous — were al- 
ways roasted by the Indians and never boiled; unless 
roasted the meat was bad. 

At a point on the Bear River the travelling party 
observed two animals apparently playing in the water, 
and on approaching the place these were found to be 
black bears, one of which was shot. They found 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 113 

that the bears were apparently hunting a beaver 
which was found concealed in the shoal water, and the 
signs seemed to indicate that this was a hunting-place 
where the bears often came to kill beaver. 

Returning to Canoe Point, they rested for a couple 
of days. Their horses, which, of course, were unshod, 
had become very tender-footed, and they provided 
moccasins — so to speak — for no less than twenty-seven 
head. This, of course, is an old Indian practice. Not 
far from here they found buffalo in great numbers, 
and began to kill and dry meat, and just here Ross 
gives interesting testimony with regard to some char- 
acteristics of the buffalo which is worth repeating in 
these days, when the buffalo are no longer with us: 

"While on the subject of buffalo, we may notice 
that there is perhaps not an animal that roams in this, 
or in the wilds of any other country, more fierce and 
formidable, than a buffalo bull during the rutting sea- 
son: neither the Polar bear, nor the Bengal tiger, sur- 
pass that animal in ferocity. When not mortally 
wounded, buffalo turn upon man or horse; but when 
mortally wounded, they stand fiercely eyeing their 
assailant, until life ebbs away. 

"As we were traveUing one day among a herd, we 
shot at a bull and wounded him severely — so much 
so, that he could neither run after us, nor from us; 
propping himself on his legs, therefore, he stood look- 
ing at us till we had fired ten balls through his body, 
now and then giving a shake of the head. Although 

114 Beyond the Old Frontier 

he was apparently unable to stir, yet we kept at a 
respectful distance from him; for such is the agility of 
body and quickness of eye, and so hideous are the 
looks of buffalo, that we dared not for some time ap- 
proach him: at last, one more bold than the rest went 
up and pushed the beast over; — he was dead! If not 
brought to the ground by the first or second shot, let 
the hunter be on his guard! The old bulls, when 
badly wounded and unable to pursue their assailant, 
prop themselves, as we have seen, and often stand in 
that position till dead; but the head of a wounded 
bull, while in an upright position, is invariably turned 
to his pursuer; so if the hunter be in doubt, let him 
change his position, to see if the bull changes his posi- 
tion also. The surest mark of his being mortally 
wounded and unable to stir, is, when he cannot turn 
his head round to his pursuer; in that case, you may 
safely walk up and throw him down. 

"The wild cow calves generally at one period, and 
that period later by a month than our tame cattle; then 
they all, as if with one accord, withdraw themselves 
from the mountains and rocks, and resort in large 
famihes to the valleys, where there is open ground, 
with small clumps of wood affording shelter and pres- 
ervation; as there they can see the approach of an 
enemy from afar. The cows herd together in the cen- 
tre, and the bulls graze in the distance: all in sight of 
each other. 

*'The calving season is May, when the heat of the 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 115 

sun is sufficiently strong for the preservation of their 
young in the open air; during which time the herd feeds 
round and round the place as if to defend the young 
calves from the approach of an enemy or from wolves. 
The resident Indian tribes seldom hunt or disturb the 
buffalo at this season, or before the first of July. The 
Indians often assured me, that, during the calving sea- 
son, the bulls keep guard; and have been frequently 
known to assemble together, in order to keep at a dis- 
tance any wolves, bears or other enemies, that might 
attempt to approach the cows." 

A party sent after the Iroquois, who had gone off 
to trap by themselves, returned on the 14th of Octo- 
ber, bringing with them not only the ten Iroquois but 
also seven American trappers. The Iroquois had had 
their usual success. They had no beaver, no traps, 
were naked and destitute of almost everything, and 
were in debt to the American trappers for having 
been brought to the Three Tetons. According to 
their story, they had been attacked by a war-party 
and robbed of nine hundred beaver, all their steel 
traps, and twenty-seven horses. Ross had the small 
satisfaction of saying to them, "I told you so," but 
this did not bring back the lost property. On the 
other hand, other stories were told by certain of the 
Iroquois, which suggested that perhaps the Iroquois 
had sold their beaver to the Americans. 

It was not long before another war-party made its 
appearance, causing the usual excitement and alarm. 

ii6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

but these proved to be Nez Perces who had started for 
the Blackfeet to steal horses. Before they got there, 
the Blackfeet discovered and ambushed them, killing 
six of the Nez Perces. 

The newcomers warned Ross that enemies were 
about, and as the trapping party was just about to enter 
a narrow valley, Ross with thirty-five men set out to 
examine it before the main party entered. They had 
looked it partly over, when they saw distant Indians 
hurrying to cover, and pursued them. The strangers 
got into the timber. The trappers asked the Indians 
to come out of the woods and smoke, and the In- 
dians invited them to come into the woods and smoke; 
but neither party accepted the invitation. The In- 
dians claimed to be Crows, but Ross believed they were 
Blackfeet. The traders picked up some robes, arms, 
and moccasins, thrown away in flight, which they left 
near the hiding-place of the Indians, and were just 
about to return, when, as they were mounting, they saw 
what looked like a large party of people coming. They 
made preparations for a fight, and then discovered that 
the approaching body consisted of a large band of 
horses, driven by four men. Ross with fifteen men 
charged toward the horses, whose drivers fled, leaving 
the herd. Among the horses were forty-three which 
belonged in Rosses camp and one of those taken from 
the two trappers sent as messengers to the Goddin 
River party. The trappers overtook and captured 
three of the Indians and took them back to the camp. 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 117 

There a court-martial was held and the three captives 
were condemned to die, but Ross the next morning suc- 
ceeded in letting them escape. 

The return to the Flathead House was devoid of any- 
special events save those of ordinary prairie and moun- 
tain travel. On the way they had to pass through deep 
snows and across frozen rivers where the ice was not 
always safe, and at one such point they lost a horse, 
and two of the men came near sharing its fate. They 
reached there the last of November. 

The results of the trip amounted to five thousand 
beaver, exclusive of other furs — a very successful 

In a note appended to a brief vocabulary of the 
Snake language given by Ross he makes the follow- 
ing interesting prophecy: "I can state with undi- 
minished confidence, that the Snake country towards 
the Rocky Mountains is, and will be, rich in furs for 
some generations to come, and full of interest to men 
of enterprise. Indeed, the dangers by which it was then, 
and still is, in a more or less degree, surrounded, will 
always tend to preserve the furs in that inland quarter." 

Little more than two generations have passed, and 
the fur in what used to be the Snake country has 
absolutely disappeared. The dangers from Indians 
have long been forgotten, though among the Indians 
toward the coast the tradition of the terrible Blackfeet 
yet persists, and they still speak of the Blackfeet as 
"bad people." 

The following spring Governor Simpson wrote to 

ii8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Ross, asking him to try and procure two Indian boys 
to be educated at the Red River Colony. Ross suc- 
ceeded in getting a Kutenai and a Spokane boy, each 
ten or twelve years old. They were given up by the 
Indians with great regret. One of the fathers said: 
"We have given you our hearts — our children are our 
hearts; but bring them back again to us before they 
become white men — we wish to see them once more 
Indians — and after that, you can make them white men, 
if you like." The Kutenai boy died after two or three 
years at school, but some years later the Spokane boy 
returned to his people. He did not turn out very well. 

The next spring Ross started to Spokane House to 
turn in his furs, and then finally to leave the fur trade. 
Here he met Governor Simpson, who promised him a 
situation in Red River Colony until such time as he 
should be able to estabHsh himself. The governor 
started back with the party. The return journey was 
long and laborious. Isolated parties of Indians were 
met, in all of whom Ross took keen interest. He gives 
a graphic description of travel through mountains, and 
draws a picture which gives some idea of the difficulties 
of the journeys made by these early travellers, and of 
the hardihood and endurance of those who performed 

Little does the traveller of the present day, hurrying 
along by train, or by steamboat, comprehend the con- 
stant labor of those early days. 

They were journeying on foot up the course of a 
winding, rushing river: 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 1 19 

"When the current proves too strong or the water 
too deep for one person to attempt [to cross] it alone, the 
whole join hands together, forming a chain, and thus 
cross in an oblique line, to break the strength of the 
current; the tallest always leading the van. By their 
united efforts, when a Hght person is swept off his 
feet, which not unfrequently happens, the party drag 
him along; and the first who reaches the shore always 
lays hold of the branches of some friendly tree or bush 
that may be in the way; the second does the same, and 
so on till all get out of the water. But often they 
are no sooner out than in again; and perhaps several 
traverses will have to be made within the space of a 
hundred yards, and sometimes within a few yards of 
each other; just as the rocks, or other impediments 
bar the way. After crossing several times, I regretted 
that I had not begun sooner to count the number; but 
before night, I had sixty-two traverses marked on 
my walking-stick, which served as my journal through- 
out the day. 

"When not among ice and snow, or in the water, we 
had to walk on a stony beach, or on gravelly flats, 
being constantly in and out of the water: many had 
got their feet bhstered, which was extremely painful. 
The cold made us advance at a quick pace, to keep 
ourselves warm; and despatch was the order of the 
day. The Governor himself, generally at the head, 
made the first plunge into the water, and was not the 
last to get out. His smile encouraged others, and his 

I20 Beyond the Old Frontier 

example checked murmuring. At a crossing-place 
there was seldom a moment's hesitation; all plunged 
in, and had to get out as they could. And we had to 
be Hghtly clad, so as to drag less water. Our general 
course to-day was north-east, but we had at times to 
follow every point of the compass, and might have 
travelled altogether twenty miles, although in a direct 
line we scarcely advanced eight. The ascent appeared 
to be gradual, yet the contrary was indicated by the 
rapidity of the current. After a day of excessive 
fatigue, we halted at dusk, cooked our suppers, dried 
our clothes, smoked our pipes, then, each spreading 
his blanket, we laid ourselves down to rest; and, per- 
haps, of all rest, that enjoyed on the voyage, after a 
hard day's labour, is the sweetest. 

"To give a correct idea of this part of our journey, 
let the reader picture in his own mind a dark, narrow 
defile, skirted on one side by a chain of inaccessible 
mountains, rising to a great height, covered with snow, 
and slippery with ice from their tops down to the 
water's edge. And on the other side, a beach com- 
paratively low, but studded in an irregular manner 
with standing and fallen trees, rocks, and ice, and full 
of drift-wood; over which the torrent everjrwhere 
rushes with such irresistible impetuosity, that very few 
would dare to adventure themselves in the stream. 
Let him again imagine a rapid river descending from 
some great height, fiUing up the whole channel be- 
tween the rocky precipices on the south and the no 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 121 

less dangerous barrier on the north. And lastly, let 
him suppose that we were obliged to make our way 
on foot against such a torrent, by crossing and recross- 
ing it in all its turns and windings from morning till 
night, up to the middle in water, — and he will under- 
stand that we have not exaggerated the difficulties to 
be overcome in crossing the Rocky Mountains." 

At last the party reached the summit of the Rocky 
Mountains, and passing by the Rocky Mountain House, 
took canoes. Here they found Joseph Felix Larocque, 
and from here they went on down the Athabasca in 
canoes to Jasper House and to Fort Assiniboine; and 
there again changing to horses, at last reached Ed- 
monton. This was then the centre of a great trade, 
and was under charge of Mr. Rowan, chief factor of 
the Hudson Bay Company, and earher a partner in the 
Northwest Company. 

The further journey back toward the Red River was 
marked by the meeting, near Lake Bourbon — Cedar 
Lake — ^with Captain Franklin and Dr. Richardson on 
their overland Arctic expedition. 

At Norway House Governor Simpson stopped, while 
Ross was to keep on eastward. Governor Simpson, 
after again trying to persuade Ross to remain in the 
service of the company, made him a free grant of 
one hundred acres of land in the Red River Settle- 
ment, and paid him many compliments on his efficiency 
and success in the Snake country. 

With a party of twenty-seven people, a motley crew 

122 Beyond the Old Frontier 

of incompetents, Ross started from Norway House 
for Red River. He quotes an interestingly boastful 
speech by an ancient French voyageur: 

" *I have now/ said he, 'been forty-two years in this 
country. For twenty-four I was a light canoe-man; I 
required but little sleep, but sometimes got less than 
I required. No portage was too long for me; all port- 
ages were aHke. My end of the canoe never touched 
the ground till I saw the end of it. Fifty songs a 
day were nothing to me. I could carry, paddle, walk, 
and sing with any man I ever saw. During that 
period, I saved the lives of ten bourgeois, and was 
always the favourite, because when others stopped to 
carry at a bad step, and lost time, I pushed on — over 
rapids, over cascades, over chutes; all were the same 
to me. No water, no weather, ever stopped the paddle 
or the song. I have had twelve wives in the country; 
and was once possessed of fifty horses, and six running 
dogs, trimmed in the first style. I was then Hke a 
bourgeois, rich and happy: no bourgeois had better- 
dressed wives than I; no Indian chief finer horses; no 
white man better-harnessed or swifter dogs. I beat 
all Indians at the race, and no white man ever passed 
me in the chase. I wanted for nothing; and I spent 
all my earnings in the enjoyment of pleasure. Five 
hundred pounds, twice told, have passed through my 
hands; although now I have not a spare shirt to my 
back, nor a penny to buy one. Yet, were I young again, 
I should glory in commencing the same career again. 

Fur Hunters of the Far West 123 

I would gladly spend another half-century in the same 
fields of enjoyment. There is no life so happy as a 
voyageur's life; none so independent; no place where 
a man enjoys so much variety and freedom as in the 
Indian country. Huzza! huzza! pour le pays sau- 
vage!' After this cri de joie, he sat down in the boat, 
and we could not help admiring the wild enthusiasm 
of the old Frenchman. He had boasted and excited 
himself, till he was out of breath, and then sighed with 
regret that he could no longer enjoy the scenes of his 
past Hfe." 

On the journey there was excitement enough, storms 
and running aground — usual incidents of canoe travel 
— but at last they reached Red River, and Ross's fur 
trading journeys were over. 





WHENEVER the history of the Southwest 
shall be written, more than one long and in- 
teresting chapter must be devoted to the 
first permanent settlement on its plains and the first 
permanent settler there. In the accounts of that wide 
territory through which the old Santa Fe trail passed, 
William Bent and Bent's Old Fort have frequent 

Who were the Bents and whence did they come? 

Silas Bent was born in the Colony of Massachusetts 
in 1768. His father is said to have been one of those 
who attended the famous "Boston Tea Party." Silas 
was educated for the bar, and came to St. Louis in 
1804 at the time the government of Louisiana was 
turned over to the American authorities. Here he 
served as a judge of the Superior Court, and here he 
resided until his death, in 1827. 

Of his seven sons, John was educated for the bar 
and became a well-known attorney of St. Louis. The 
youngest son, Silas, as flag-lieutenant of the flag-ship 


128 Beyond the Old Frontier 

"Mississippi/* was with Perry in Japan, and wrote a 
report on the Japan current for an American scientific 
society. He dehvered addresses on meteorology in 
St. Louis in 1879, and on climate as affecting cattle- 
breeding in the year 1884. Four other sons — Charles, 
William W., and later George and Robert — were prom- 
inent in the Indian trade on the upper Arkansas and 
elsewhere between 1820 and 1850, and remained trading 
in that region until they died. 

The leading spirit in this family of Indian traders 
was WiUiam W. Bent. Early in Hfe Charles and Wil- 
liam Bent had been up on the Missouri River working 
for the American Fur Company. Colonel Bent stated 
to his son George that he went up there in the year 
1 8 16, when very young.^ Very likely he was then a 
small boy only ten or twelve years old. It was there 
that Charles and WilHam Bent became acquainted 
with Robert Campbell, of St. Louis, who remained a 
firm friend of the brothers throughout his Hfe. Wil- 
liam Bent could speak the Sioux language fluently and 
the Sioux had called him Wa-si'cha-chischiMa, meaning 
Little White Man, a name which confirms the state- 
ment that he entered the trade very young, and seems 
to warrant the belief that his work for the fur com- 
pany was at some post in the Sioux country. 

In his testimony before the joint commission which 
inquired into Indian affairs on the plains in 1865, 

* The history of The Bent Family in America gives the date of William 
Bent's birth as 1809, which can hardly be made to agree with this statement. 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 129 

William Bent stated that he had first come to the 
upper Arkansas and settled near the Purgatoire, just 
below the present city of Pueblo, Colorado, in 1824; 
that is to say, two years before he and his brother 
began to erect their first trading estabHshment on the 
Arkansas. Previous to this time William Bent had 
been trapping in the mountains near there, and may 
very well have done some individual trading with the 

WilHam Bent was undoubtedly the first permanent 
white settler in what is now Colorado, and for a very 
long time he was not only its first settler, but remained 
its most important white citizen. 

By his fair and open dealings, by his fearless conduct, 
and by his love of justice, William Bent soon won the 
respect and confidence of the Indians with whom he 
had to do. Among the rough fraternity of mountain 
trappers he was also very popular, his reputation for 
courage being remarkable even among that class of 
daring men. He was tirelessly active in prosecuting 
the aims of his trade, making frequent trips to the 
camps of the various tribes with which he, and later 
his company, had dealings, and to the Mexican settle- 
ments in the valley of Taos and to Santa Fe. Every 
year, probably from 1824 to 1864, he made at least 
one journey from the fort on the Arkansas, across the 
plains of Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, to the settle- 
ments on the Missouri frontier. 

About 1835 William Bent married Owl Woman, the 

130 Beyond the Old Frontier 

daughter of White Thunder, an important man among 
the Cheyennes, then the keeper of the medicine arrows. 
Bent's Fort was his home, and there his children were 
born, the oldest, Mary, about 1836, Robert in 1839 — 
his own statement made in 1865 says 1841 — George in 
July, 1843, and Julia in 1847. Owl Woman died at the 
fort in 1847 in giving birth to Julia, and her husband 
afterward married her sister. Yellow Woman. Charles 
Bent was the child of his second marriage. 

WilHam Bent appears to have been the first of the 
brothers to go into the Southwestern country to trade 
for fur, but Charles is said to have gone to Santa Fe 
as early as 18 19, and a Httle later must have joined 
William. The two, with Ceran St. Vrain and one of 
the Chouteaus, established the early trading post near 
the Arkansas. After occupying this stockade for two 
years or more, they moved down below Pueblo and 
built another stockade on the Arkansas. Two years 
later they began to build the more ambitious post 
afterward known as Bent's, or Fort William, or Bent's 
Old Fort. George and Robert Bent apparently did 
not come out to the fort until after it was completed — 
perhaps after it had been for some time in operation. 
Benito Vasquez was at one time a partner in the com- 

It was in 1828 that the Bent brothers, with St. Vrain, 
began this large fort, fifteen miles above the mouth of 
Purgatoire River. It was not completed until 1832. 
Four years seems a long time to be spent in the con- 


^hW^' ; ^^] 

y ' 


^HjW'-^, ^ 


./'^ ' ^ 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 131 

struction of such a post, even though it was built of 
adobe brick, but there were reasons for the delay. 
Charles Bent was determined that the fort should be 
built of adobes in order to make it fireproof, so that 
under no circumstances could it be burned by the 
Indians. Besides that, adobes were much more dura- 
ble and more comfortable — cool in summer, warm in 
winter — than logs would have been. When the ques- 
tion of how the fort should be built had been decided, 
Charles Bent went to New Mexico, and from Taos and 
Santa Fe sent over a number of Mexicans to make 
adobe brick. With them he sent some wagon-loads of 
Mexican wool to mix with the clay of the bricks, thus 
greatly lengthening the life of the adobes. 

Only a short time, however, after the laborers had 
reached the intended site of the fort, smallpox broke 
out among them, and it was necessary to send away those 
not attacked. William Bent, St. Vrain, Kit Carson, 
and other white men who were there caught the small- 
pox from the Mexicans, and though none died they 
were so badly marked by it that some of the Indians 
who had known them well in the early years of the 
trading did not recognize them when they met again. 

During the prevalence of the smallpox at the post 
William Bent sent a runner, Francisco, one of his Mex- 
ican herders, north, to warn the Cheyennes not to come 
near the post. Francisco set out for the Black Hills, 
and on his way encountered a large war-party of 
Cheyennes on their way to the fort. He told them of 

132 Beyond the Old Frontier 

what had happened, and warned them to return north 
and not to come near the post until sent for. The 
Cheyennes obeyed, and it was not until some time 
later, when all at Fort WilHam had recovered and 
when the temporary stockade with all the infected 
material that it contained had been burned, that Bent 
and St. Vrain, with a few pack-mules, started north for 
the Black Hills to find the Cheyennes and invite them 
to return to the post. The year of this journey has 
been given me as 1831. Perhaps it may have been a 
year earlier. 

After the smallpox had ceased, more Mexican labor- 
ers were sent for, and work on the fort was resumed. 
Not long before his death. Kit Carson stated that at 
one time more than a hundred and fifty Mexicans were 
at work on the construction of the post. 

Accounts of the dimensions of the fort differ, but on 
certain points all agree: that it was of adobes, set 
square with the points of the compass, and on the north 
bank of the Arkansas River. Garrard says that the 
post was a hundred feet square and the walls thirty 
feet in height. Another account says that the walls 
ran a hundred and fifty feet east and west and a hun- 
dred feet north and south, and that they were seven- 
teen feet high. J. T. Hughes, however, in his Doni- 
phan s Expedition, printed in Cincinnati in 1848, says: 

" Fort Bent is situated on the north bank of the Ar- 
kansas, 650 miles west of Fort Leavenworth, in lati- 
tude 38° 2' north, and longitude 103° 3' west from 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 133 

Greenwich. The exterior walls of this fort, whose fig- 
ure is that of an oblong square, are fifteen feet high 
and four feet thick. It is 180 feet long and 135 feet 
wide and is divided into various compartments, the 
whole built of adobes or sun-dried bricks." 

At the southwest and northeast corners of these walls 
were bastions, or round towers, thirty feet in height 
and ten feet in diameter inside, with loopholes for 
muskets and openings for cannon. Garrard speaks of 
the bastions as hexagonal in form. 

Around the walls in the second stories of the bastions 
hung sabres and great heavy lances with long, sharp 
blades. These were intended for use in case an at- 
tempt were made to take the fort by means of ladders 
put up against the wall. Besides these cutting and 
piercing implements, the walls were hung with flint-lock 
muskets and pistols. 

In the east wall of the fort was a wide gateway 
formed by two immense swinging doors made of heavy 
planks. These doors were studded with heavy nails 
and plated with sheet-iron, so that they could never 
be burned by the Indians. The same was true of the 
gateway which entered the corral, to be described 

Over the main gate of the fort was a square watch 
tower surmounted by a belfry, from the top of which 
rose a flagstaff. The watch tower contained a single 
room with windows on all sides, and in the room was 
an old-fashioned long telescope, or spy-glass, mounted 

134 Beyond the Old Frontier 

on a pivot. Here certain members of the garrison, re- 
Heving each other at stated intervals, were constantly 
on the lookout. There was a chair for the watchman 
to sit in and a bed for his sleeping. If the watchman, 
through his glass, noticed anything unusual — for ex- 
ample, if he saw a great dust rising over the prairie — 
he notified the people below. If a suspicious-looking 
party of Indians was seen approaching, the watchman 
signalled to the herder to bring in the horses, for the 
stock was never turned loose, but was always on herd. 

In the belfry, under a Httle roof which rose above the 
watch tower, hung the bell of the fort, which sounded 
the hours for meals. Two tame white-headed eagles 
kept at the fort were sometimes confined within this 
belfry, or at others were allowed to fly about free, re- 
turning of their own accord to sleep in the belfry. 
One of these eagles finally disappeared, and for a long 
time it was not known what had become of it. Then 
it was learned that it had been killed for its feathers by 
a young Indian at some distance from the fort. 

At the back of the fort over the gate, which opened 
into the corral, was a second-story room rising high 
above the walls, as the watch tower did in front. 
This room — an extraordinary luxury for the time — 
was used as a billiard-room during the later years of 
the post. It was long enough to accommodate a large 
billiard-table, and across one end of the room ran a 
counter, or bar, over which drinkables were served. 
These luxuries were brought out by Robert and George 

*■ to 

, ,LnX, 

a. i: 







^ r 


_j ' 









U " ^^ 1 

. _ 

a: i gr 1 



§ TiiT 1 






When Beaver Skins Were Money 135 

Bent, young men who did not come out to the fort 
until some time after it had been constructed, and 
who, being city-dwellers — for I have no record of their 
having any early experience of frontier life — no doubt 
felt that they required city amusements. 

The watch tower and billiard-room were supported 
on heavy adobe walls running at right angles to the 
main enclosing walls of the fort, and these supporting 
walls formed the ends of the rooms on either side of 
the gates in the outer walls. 

The stores, warehouses, and living-rooms of the post 
were ranged around the walls, and opened into the 
patio, or courtyard — the hollow square within. In 
some of the books deaUng with these old times it is 
said that when the Indians entered the fort to trade, 
cannon were loaded and sentries patrolled the walls 
with loaded guns. This may have been true of the 
early days of the fort, but it was not true of the latter 
part of the decade between 1840 and 1850. At that 
time the Indians, or at least the Cheyenne Indians, 
had free run of the post and were allowed to go up- 
stairs, on the walls, and into the watch tower. The 
various rooms about the courtyard received light and 
air from the doors and windows opening out into this 
courtyard, which was gravelled. The floors of the 
rooms were of beaten clay, as was commonly the case 
in Mexican houses, and the roofs were built in the same 
fashion that long prevailed in the West. Poles were 
laid from the front wall to the rear, slightly inclined 

136 Beyond the Old Frontier 

toward the front. Over these poles twigs or brush 
were laid, and over the brush clay was spread, tramped 
hard, and gravel thrown over this. These roofs were 
used as a promenade by the men of the fort and their 
families in the evenings. The top of the fort walls 
reached about four feet above these roofs, or breast- 
high of a man, and these walls were pierced with loop- 
holes through which to shoot in case of attack. 

Hughes in his Doniphan s Expedition says: "The 
march upon Santa Fe was resumed Aug. 2, 1846, after 
a respite of three days in the neighborhood of Fort 
Bent. As we passed the fort the American flag was 
raised in compliment to our troops and in concert 
with our own streamed most animatingly on the gale 
that swept from the desert, while the tops of the houses 
were crowded with Mexican girls and Indian squaws, 
beholding the American Army." 

On the west side of the fort and outside the walls 
was the horse corral. It was as wide as the fort and 
deep enough to contain a large herd. The walls were 
about eight feet high and three feet thick at the top. 
The gate was on the south side of the corral, and so 
faced the river. It was of wood, but was completely 
plated with sheet-iron. More than that, to prevent 
any one from climbing in by night, the tops of the 
walls had been thickly planted with cactus — a large 
variety which grows about a foot high and has great 
fleshy leaves closely covered with many and sharp 
thorns. This grew so luxuriantly that in some places 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 137 

the leaves hung down over the walls, both within and 
without, and gave most efficient protection against 
any living thing that might wish to surmount the wall. 

Through the west wall of the fort a door was cut, 
leading from the stockade into the corral, permitting 
people to go through and get horses without going 
outside the fort and opening the main gate of the cor- 
ral. This door was wide and arched at the top. It 
was made large enough, so that in case of necessity — 
if by chance an attacking party seemed likely to cap- 
ture the horses and mules in the corral — the door could 
be opened and the herd run inside the main stockade. 

About two hundred yards to the south of the fort, 
and so toward the river bank, on a little mound, stood 
a large ice-house built of adobes or sun-dried bricks. 
In winter when the river was frozen this ice-house 
was filled, and in it during the summer was kept all 
the surplus fresh meat — buffalo tongues, antelope, 
dried meat and tongues — and also all the bacon. At 
times the ice-house was hung thick with flesh food. 

On hot days, with the other little children, young 
George Bent used to go down to the ice-house and 
get in it to cool off, and his father's negro cook used 
to come down and send them away, warning them not 
to go in there from the hot sun, as it was too cold 
and they might get sick. This negro cook, Andrew 
Green by name, a slave owned by Governor Charles 
Bent, was with him when he was killed in Taos, and 
afterward came to the fort and was there for many 

138 Beyond the Old Frontier 

years, but was at last taken back to St. Louis and 
there set free. He had a brother "Dick," often 
mentioned in the old books. 

Besides Bent's Fort, Bent and St. Vrain owned 
Fort St. Vrain, on the South Platte, opposite the 
mouth of St. Vrain's Fork, and Fort Adobe, on the 
Canadian. Both these posts were built of adobe 
brick. Fort St. Vrain was built to trade with the 
Northern Indians; that is, with the Sioux and North- 
ern Cheyennes, who seldom got down south as far 
as the Arkansas River, and so would not often come 
to Fort WilHam. The Fort Adobe on the Canadian 
was built by request of the chiefs of the Kiowa, Co- 
manche, and Apache to trade with these people. The 
chiefs who made this request were To'hau sen (Little 
Mountain) and Eagle-Tail Feathers, speaking for 
the Kiowa, Shaved Head for the Comanche, and 
Poor (Lean) Bear for the Apache. 

These in their day were men of importance. Shaved 
Head was a great friend of the whites and a man of 
much influence with his own people and with neigh- 
boring tribes. He wore the left side of his head shaved 
close, while the hair on the right side was long, hang- 
ing down to his waist or below. His left ear was 
perforated with many holes made by a blunt awl 
heated red-hot, and was adorned with many little 
brass rings. Before peace was made between the 
Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches in the year 1840, the 
last three tribes were more or less afraid to visit Fort 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 139 

William, lest they should there meet a large camp of 
their enemies, and Colonel Bent and the traders were 
also especially anxious to avoid any collision at the 
fort. Each tribe would expect the trader to take its 
part, and this he could not do without incurring the 
enmity of the other tribes. The wish of the trader 
was to be on good terms with all tribes, and this William 
Bent accomplished with singular discretion. Although 
he had a Cheyenne wife, he was on excellent terms, 
and always remained so, with the enemies of the 

Both Fort St. Vrain and Fort Adobe, being built 
of adobes, lasted for a long time, and their ruins have 
been seen until quite recently. Near the ruins of 
Fort Adobe two important fights have taken place, 
to be referred to later. 

In the business of the fort William Bent had the 
direction of the trade with the Indians, while his 
brother Charles seems to have had more to do with 
affairs in the Mexican settlements, until his death 
there, at the hands of the Mexicans and Pueblos, in 
the year 1847. It is not certain when St. Vrain, Lee, 
and Benito Vasquez became partners in the business, 
nor how long they were interested in it. George and 
Robert Bent, who came out from St. Louis, certainly 
later than the two elder brothers, may have been 
partners, but there is nothing to show that they were 
so. Robert died in 1847. 

Some time before this George Bent went to Mexico 

140 Beyond the Old Frontier 

and there married a Mexican girl, by whom he had 
two children, a son and a daughter. The son, Rob- 
ert, went to school in St. Louis. He died at Dodge 
City, Kan., in 1875. George Bent was a great 
friend of Frank P. Blair, whom he appointed guardian 
for his children. He died at the fort about 1848 of 
consumption, and was buried near his brother Robert 
in the graveyard which lay a short distance northeast 
of the northeast bastion of the fort. The old tailor, 
a Frenchman, afterward planted cactus over George 
Bent's grave to protect it from the wolves and coyotes. 
Their remains were later removed to St. Louis. 

After the death of Charles Bent, in 1847, WilHam 
Bent continued his work. Perhaps St. Vrain may 
have remained a partner for a time. Fitzpatrick speaks 
of "Messrs. Bent and St. Vrain's post" in 1850. Bent 
was an active man and interested in many other proj- 
ects besides the fort and trade with the Indians. He 
bought sheep and mules in New Mexico and drove 
them across the plains to the Missouri market. In 
the forties, in company with several other men, he 
secured a large land grant from the Mexican gov- 
ernment in the Arkansas valley above the fort and 
attempted to found a colony there. Mexican settlers 
were established on the lands. The colonists were 
inert, the Indians were hostile, and from these and 
other causes the project proved a failure. In 1847 
WilHam Bent and St. Vrain drove a large herd of 
Mexican cattle to the Arkansas and wintered them 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 141 

in the valley near the fort, thus making the first step 
toward establishing the cattle industry, which many 
years later so flourished on the plains. 

Besides his lands near the fort, Bent had a fine 
farm at Westport (now Kansas City), in Missouri, 
and a ranch south of the Arkansas in the Mexican 
territory. In 1846 he guided Colonel Price's Mis- 
souri regiment across the plains to New Mexico, and 
was so popular among the volunteer officers that they 
gave him the brevet of colonel, a title which stuck 
to him until the day of his death. 



Charles Bent was a close rival to his brother 
WiUiam in the esteem of his fellow traders and the 
trappers and Indians of the Arkansas. He seems 
from the first, however, to have taken the most 
active part in the Santa Fe trade of the company, 
leaving the Indian trade to the other partners. Among 
the traders and teamsters of the Santa Fe caravans 
he was as much Hked as William Bent was among the 
trappers and Indians; indeed, on more than one occa- 
sion, he was elected captain of the caravan and con- 
ducted it safely to Santa Fe. These caravans of 
Missouri traders were richly laden for those days. The 
outfit of 1832 brought back from New Mexico $100,000 
in specie and $90,000 in other property, including large 

142 Beyond the Old Frontier 

numbers of Mexican mules. In 1833 ^^e caravan 
with Bent as captain assembled at Diamond Springs, 
on the Missouri frontier. There were 184 men, with 
ninety-three large wagons loaded with goods. They 
brought back $100,000 in money and much other 

Charles Bent married a Mexican woman and made 
his home at San Fernando,^ a small town in the val- 
ley of Taos. He was popular among his Mexican 
and Pueblo neighbors until he was appointed gov- 
ernor of the territory by General Kearny, who marched 
into New Mexico with his little army in the fall. Hav- 
ing put Governor Bent and his civil government in 
control of affairs, the general left a few troops in and 
about Santa Fe, and with the rest of his forces marched 
for California. Hardly had he gone when rumors of 
a revolt of the Mexican and Indian population against 
American rule began to be heard, and late in Decem- 
ber evidence of such a plot was unearthed. These 
events are set forth in the following letter from Gov- 
ernor Bent to the Hon. James Buchanan, secretary of 

"Santa Fe, N. M., Dec. 26, 1846.— Sir: I have been 
informed indirectly that Col. A. W. Doniphan, who, 
in October last, marched with his regiment against 
the Navajo Indians, has made treaty of peace with 
them. Not having been officially notified of this 
treaty, I am not able to state the terms upon which 

^ This name is spelled in various ways even by Mexicans. 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 143 

It has been concluded; but, so far as I am able to 
learn, I have but little ground to hope that it will 
be permanent. 

"On the 17th inst. I received information from a 
Mexican friendly to our Government that a conspiracy 
was on foot among the native Mexicans, having for 
its object the expulsion of the United States troops 
and the civil authorities from the territory. I im- 
mediately brought into requisition every means in my 
power to ascertain who were the movers in the re- 
bellion, and have succeeded in securing seven of the 
secondary conspirators. The military and civil offi- 
cers are now both in pursuit of the two leaders and 
prime movers of the rebellion; but as several days 
have elapsed, I am apprehensive that they will have 
made their escape from the territory. 

"So far as I am informed this conspiracy is con- 
fined to the four northern counties of the territory, 
and the men considered as leaders in the affair cannot 
be said to be men of much standing. 

"After obtaining the necessary information to desig- 
nate and secure the persons of the participators in 
the conspiracy, I thought it advisable to turn them 
over to the miUtary authorities in order that these 
persons might be dealt with more summarily and 
expeditiously than they could have been by the civil 

"The occurrence of this conspiracy at this early 
period of the occupation of the territory will, I think. 

144 Beyond the Old Frontier 

conclusively convince our Government of the neces- 
sity of maintaining here, for several years to come, 
an efficient military force." 

Having taken measures for the arrest of the leaders 
of the conspiracy, Governor Bent set out from Santa 
Fe early in January for a few days' visit to his family 
at San Fernando, near the pueblo of Taos, inhabited 
by civilized Pueblo Indians. Three Pueblo thieves 
had been arrested and locked up in the calabozo at 
San Fernando some time before Governor Bent's 
arrival. On the 19th of January a mob of Pueblos 
entered the town and attempted to force the American 
sheriff, Lee, to give up these three prisoners. Lee, 
being helpless to resist the Indians' demands, was 
on the point of releasing his prisoners when the prefect 
of the town. Vigil, a Mexican \yho had taken office 
under the American Government, appeared among 
the Indians and, calling out to them in a fury that 
they were all thieves and scoundrels, ordered Lee 
to hold the three prisoners. Enraged at the prefect's 
harsh words, the Pueblos rushed upon him, killed 
him, cut his body into small pieces, and then, being 
joined by a number of Mexicans, set out to kill every 
American in the settlement. 

Governor Bent's house was the first they visited. 
He was still in bed when aroused by his wife on the 
approach of the mob, and he at once sprang up and 
ran to a window, through which he called to a Mexican 
neighbor to help him get through into his house and 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 145 

conceal him. The Mexican refused his aid and replied 
that he must die. Seeing that all ways of escape 
were blocked, the governor quietly left the window 
and returned to his family. "He withdrew into his 
room," writes Mr. Dunn, "and the Indians began 
tearing up the roof. With all the calmness of a noble 
soul he stood awaiting his doom. His wife brought 
him his pistols and told him to fight, to avenge him- 
self, even if he must die. The Indians were exposed 
to his aim, but he replied, *No, I will not kill any 
one of them; for the sake of you, my wife, and you, 
my children. At present my death is all these people 
wish.' As the savages poured into the room he ap- 
pealed to their manhood and honor, but in vain. 
They laughed at his plea. They told him they were 
about to kill every American in New Mexico and 
would begin with him. An arrow followed the word, 
another and another, but the mode was not swift 
enough. One, more impatient, sent a bullet through 
his heart. As he fell, Tomas, a chief, stepped for- 
ward, snatched one of his pistols, and shot him in 
the face. They took his scalp, stretched it on a board 
with brass nails, and carried it through the streets 
in triumph." 

Garrard, who was at Taos in the days immediately 
following the massacre, tells of Governor Bent's death 
in the following words : 

"While here in Fernandez (San Fernandez) with 
his family he was one morning early aroused from sleep 

146 Beyond the Old Frontier 

by the populace, who, with the aid of the Pueblos 
de Taos, were collected in front of his dwelling, striv- 
ing to gain admittance. While they were effecting 
an entrance, he, with an axe, cut through an adobe 
wall into another house. The wife of the occupant, 
a clever, though thriftless, Canadian, heard him, and 
with all her strength rendered him assistance, though 
she was a Mexican. He retreated to a room, but 
seeing no way of escaping from the infuriated assail- 
ants who fired upon him through a window, he spoke 
to his weeping wife and trembling children clinging 
to him with all the tenacity of love and despair, and 
taking a paper from his pocket endeavored to write, 
but fast losing strength he commended them to God 
and his brothers, and fell pierced by a Pueblo's ball. 
Rushing in and tearing off the gray-haired scalp, 
the Indians bore it away in triumph." 

Among the people killed were Stephen Lee, Nar- 
cisse Beaubien, and others. 

When the news of Governor Bent's death reached 
the plains it created great excitement, for Charles 
Bent was exceedingly popular with white people and 
Indians alike. The Cheyennes proposed to send a 
war-party to Taos and to kill all the Mexicans, but 
William Bent would not permit it. A party from 
Bent's Fort set out for Taos, but on the road were 
met by messengers announcing that Colonel Price 
had marched into Taos at the head of two hundred 
and fifty men and had had a fight with Mexicans and 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 147 

Indians in which two hundred were killed, and had 
then bombarded the town and knocked down its walls. 
A neighboring town was razed and a large amount of 
property destroyed. 

The killing of the people at Turley's Ranch, on the 
Arroyo Hondo, was a costly triumph to the Pueblos. 
Here were shut up men who fought well for their Uves. 

Ruxton tells of the battle in graphic language: 

"The massacre of Turley and his people, and the 
destruction of his mill, were not consummated without 
considerable loss to the barbarous and cowardly assail- 
ants. There were in the house, at the time of the 
attack, eight white men, including Americans, French- 
Canadians, and one or two Englishmen, with plenty of 
arms and ammunition. Turley had been warned of 
the intended insurrection, but had treated the report 
with indifference and neglect, until one morning a 
man named Otterbees, in the employ of Turley, and 
who had been dispatched to Santa Fe with several 
mule-loads of whiskey a few days before, made his 
appearance at the gate on horseback, and hastily 
informing the inmates of the mill that the New Mexi- 
cans had risen and massacred Governor Bent and 
other Americans, galloped off. Even then Turley felt 
assured that he would not be molested, but, at the 
solicitations of his men, agreed to close the gate of 
the yard round which were the buildings of a mill and 
distillery, and make preparations for defence. 

"A few hours after, a large crowd of Mexicans 

148 Beyond the Old Frontier 

and Pueblo Indians made their appearance, all armed 
with guns and bows and arrows, and advancing with 
a white flag summoned Turley to surrender his 
house and the Americans in it, guaranteeing that 
his own life should be saved, but that every other 
American in the valley of Taos had to be destroyed; 
that the Governor and all the Americans at Fernandez 
and the rancho had been killed, and that not one was 
to be left alive in all New Mexico. 

"To this summons Turley answered that he would 
never surrender his house nor his men, and that, if 
they wanted it or them, 'they must take them.' 

"The enemy then drew ofF, and, after a short consul- 
tation, commenced the attack. The first day they 
numbered about 500, but the crowd was hourly aug- 
mented by the arrival of parties of Indians from the 
more distant pueblos, and of New Mexicans from 
Fernandez, La Canada, and other places. 

"The building lay at the foot of a gradual slope 
in the sierra, which was covered with cedar-bushes. 
In front ran the stream of the Arroyo Hondo, about 
twenty yards from one side of the square, and on 
the other side was broken ground, which rose abruptly 
and formed the bank of the ravine. In rear and 
behind the still-house was some garden-ground, inclosed 
by a small fence, and into which a small wicket-gate 
opened from the corral. 

"As soon as the attack was determined upon, the 
assailants broke, and, scattering, concealed themselves 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 149 

under the cover of the rocks and bushes that sur- 
rounded the house. 

"From these they kept up an incessant fire upon 
every exposed portion of the building where they saw 
the Americans preparing for defence. 

"They, on their parts, were not idle; not a man 
but was an old mountaineer, and each had his trusty 
rifle with good store of ammunition. Wherever one 
of the assailants exposed a hand's breadth of his per- 
son there whistled a ball from an unerring barrel. 
The windows had been blockaded, loop-holes being 
left to fire through, and through these a lively fire 
was maintained. Already several of the enemy had 
bitten the dust, and parties were constantly seen bear- 
ing off the wounded up the banks of the Caiiada. 
Darkness came on, and during the night a continual 
fire was kept up on the mill, while its defenders, reserv- 
ing their ammunition, kept their posts with stern 
and silent determination. The night was spent in 
running balls, cutting patches, and completing the 
defences of the building. In the morning the fight 
was renewed, and it was found that the Mexicans had 
eflPected a lodgment in a part of the stables, which 
were separated from the other portions of the build- 
ing, and between which was an open space of a few feet. 
The assailants, during the night, had sought to break 
down the wall, and thus enter the main building, but the 
strength of the adobes and logs of which it was com- 
posed resisted effectually all their attempts. 

150 Beyond the Old Frontier 

"Those in the stable seemed anxious to regain the 
outside, for their position was unavailable as a means 
of annoyance to the besieged, and several had darted 
across the narrow space which divided it from the 
other part of the building, and which slightly pro- 
jected, and behind which they were out of the line of 
fire. As soon, however, as the attention of the defend- 
ers was called to this point, the first man who attempted 
to cross, and who happened to be a Pueblo chief, was 
dropped on the instant and fell dead in the center 
of the intervening space. It appeared an object to 
recover the body, for an Indian immediately dashed 
out to the fallen chief and attempted to drag him 
within the cover of the wall. The rifle which covered 
the spot again poured forth its deadly contents, and 
the Indian, springing into the air, fell over the body 
of his chief, struck to the heart. Another and another 
met with a similar fate, and at last three rushed at 
once to the spot, and, seizing the body by the legs and 
head, had already lifted it from the ground, when 
three pufFs of smoke blew from the barricaded window, 
followed by the sharp cracks of as many rifles, and the 
three daring Indians added their number to the pile of 
corses which now covered the body of the dead chief. 

"As yet the besieged had met with no casualties; 
but after the fall of the seven Indians, in the manner 
above described, the whole body of assailants, with 
a shout of rage, poured in a rattling volley, and two 
of the defenders of the mill fell mortally wounded. 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 151 

One, shot through the loins, suffered great agony, 
and was removed to the still-house, where he was 
laid upon a large pile of grain, as being the softest 
bed to be found. 

"In the middle of the day the assailants renewed 
the attack more fiercely than before, their baffled 
attempts adding to their furious rage. The little garri- 
son bravely stood to the defence of the mill, never 
throwing away a shot, but firing coolly, and only 
when a fair mark was presented to their unerring 
aim. Their ammunition, however, was fast faihng, 
and to add to the danger of their situation the enemy 
set fire to the mill, which blazed fiercely and threat- 
ened destruction to the whole building. Twice they 
succeeded in overcoming the flames, and, taking advan- 
tage of their being thus occupied, the Mexicans and 
Indians charged into the corral, which was full of 
hogs and sheep, and vented their cowardly rage upon 
the animals, spearing and shooting all that came 
in their way. No sooner, however, were the flames 
extinguished in one place, than they broke out more 
fiercely in another; and as a successful defence was 
perfectly hopeless, and the numbers of the assailants 
increased every moment, a council of war was held 
by the survivors of the Httle garrison, when it was 
determined, as soon as night approached, that every- 
one should attempt to escape as best he might, and 
in the meantime the defence of the mill was to be 

1 52 Beyond the Old Frontier ' 

"Just at dusk, Albert and another man ran to the 
wicket-gate, which opened into a kind of inclosed 
space, and in which was a number of armed Mexicans. 
They both rushed out at the same moment, discharging 
their rifles full in the faces of the crowd. Albert in 
the confusion threw himself under the fence, whence 
he saw his companion shot down immediately, and 
heard his cries for mercy, mingled with shrieks of pain 
and anguish, as the cowards pierced him with knives 
and lances. Lying without motion under the fence, 
as soon as it was quite dark he crept over the logs 
and ran up the mountain, traveled day and night, 
and, scarcely stopping or resting, reached the Green- 
horn, almost dead with hunger and fatigue. Turley 
himself succeeded in escaping from the mill and in 
reaching the mountain unseen. Here he met a Mexi- 
can, mounted on a horse, who had been a most inti- 
mate friend of the unfortunate man for many years. 
To this man Turley offered his watch (which was treble 
its worth) for the use of his horse, but was refused. 
The inhuman wretch, however, affected pity and 
commiseration for the fugitive, and advised him to 
go to a certain place where he would bring or send 
him assistance; but on reaching the mill, which was 
now a mass of fire, he immediately informed the Mexi- 
cans of his place of concealment, whither a large party 
instantly proceeded and shot him to death. 

"Two others escaped and reached Santa Fe in 
safety. The mill and Turley's house were sacked 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 153 

and gutted, and all his hard-earned savings, which 
were considerable, and concealed in gold about the 
house, were discovered, and of course, seized upon, 
by the victorious Mexicans. 

"The Indians, however, met a few days after with a 
severe retribution. The troops marched out of Santa 
Fe, attacked their pueblo, and levelled it to the ground, 
kiUing many hundreds of its defenders, and taking 
many prisoners, most of whom were hanged." 

The death of Charles Bent, of his brother Robert 
later in the same year, and of George Bent in 1848, 
left only Colonel William Bent to carry on the business 
of Bent's Fort, and the trade with Mexico, together 
with all the other operations in which he was engaged. 
From this time forth WiUiam Bent worked alone. 

Charles Bent had one son and two daughters. 
Alfred, the son, died some years ago. One of the 
daughters is said to be still living (1909) in Mexico, 
very old. Tom Boggs married the other daughter. 
She had one son, Charles Boggs. He and his mother 
are both beUeved to be dead. 



In its best days Bent's Fort did a business surpassed 
in volume by only one company in the United States 
— John Jacob Astor's great American Fur Company. 
As already stated, besides Bent's Fort the Bent part- 

154 Beyond the Old Frontier 

ners had a post on the South Platte at the mouth of 
St. Vrain's Fork, and one on the Canadian River, 
called the Fort Adobe, for trade with tribes of Indians 
hostile to the Cheyennes — trade which Colonel Bent, 
of course, wished to hold. 

St. Vrain's Fork runs into the South Platte from the 
north and west, a few miles south or southwest of 
Greeley, Colo. 

The site of the fort, known later and now as Adobe 
Walls, was the scene of two hard battles between 
white men and Indians. The first of these took place 
in 1864, and was fought between the Kiowas, Apaches, 
and Comanches, with a few Cheyennes and Arapahoes, 
who were present chiefly as onlookers, and a detach- 
ment of troops under the command of Kit Carson, 
who then bore a commission in the United States army. 
Carson had with him a number of Ute scouts. The 
fight was a severe one, and Carson, after burning one 
of the Kiowa villages, was obliged to retreat. In that 
battle the Indians fought bravely, and one of them pos- 
sessed a cavalry bugle and knew the various calls. 
Carson and his officers generally acknowledged that 
they were beaten by the Indians, and Carson finally 
withdrew, the Indians saving most of their property, 
though they lost a number of men. Among the Kiowas 
killed was a young man who wore a coat of mail. 

At this fight a spring-wagon was found in the posses- 
sion of the Indians, and its presence in the Kiowa 
camp has often been wondered at. At that time 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 155 

wagons were never used by plains Indians, whose only 
vehicle was the travois, which consisted of two long 
poles tied together over the horses' withers, and drag- 
ging on the ground behind. Across these poles, be- 
hind the horses' hocks, was lashed a platform, on which 
a considerable burden might be transported. 

The late Robert M. Peck, of Los Angeles, Cal., who 
was a soldier, serving under Major Sedgwick, then in 
command of troops along the Arkansas, not long before 
his death told the story of an ambulance presented to 
one of the Kiowa chiefs by the quartermaster of the 
troops under Major Sedgwick, which may have been 
this one. Mr. Peck said: 

"That was before the Kiowa war broke out in 1859. 
To' hau sen was always friendly to the whites, and tried 
to keep the Kiowas peaceable. A small party of them, 
his immediate following, kept out of that war. These 
were mostly the old warriors, but the younger men, 
who constituted a majority of the tribe, went on the 
warpath after Lieut. George D. Bayard, of our regi- 
ment killed one of the Kiowa chiefs, called Pawnee, 
near Peacock's ranch, on Walnut Creek. 

"That summer (1859) we had been camping along 
the Arkansas River, moving camp occasionally up or 
down the river, trying to keep Satank and his turbu- 
lent followers from beginning another outbreak. Old 
To' hau sen used frequently to come to our camp. Lieut. 
Mclntyre wanted to get rid of this old ambulance, 
which he had long had on his hands and which in 

IS6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

some of its parts was nearly worn out. After inducing 
Major Sedgwick to have it condemned as unfit for 
service, Lieut. Mclntyre had his blacksmith fix it up 
a little and presented it to the old chief. Mclntyre 
fitted a couple of sets of old harness to a pair of 
To' hau sen's ponies and had some of the soldiers 
break the animals to work in the ambulance. But 
when To' hau sen tried to drive the team, he could not 
learn to handle the lines. He took the reins off the 
harness and had a couple of Indian boys ride the horses, 
and they generally went at a gallop. The old chief 
seemed very proud of the ambulance." 

The second battle of the Adobe Walls took place in 
June, 1874, when the Kiowas, Comanches, and Chey- 
ennes made an attack on some buffalo-hunters, who 
had built themselves houses in the shelter of the Adobe 
Walls. The attack on the buffalo-hunters was made 
in the endeavor to drive these hide-hunters out of the 
buffalo country, in order to save the buffalo for them- 
selves. The hunters finally drove off the Indians 
with much loss, but soon afterward abandoned their 

St. Vrain's Fort and the Adobe Fort were abandoned 
between 1840 and 1850, when the fur business began 
to decline. By this time the beaver had begun to get 
scarce, having been pretty thoroughly trapped out of 
many of the mountain streams, and besides that the 
silk hat had been invented, and was rapidly taking the 
place of the old beaver hat, and the demand for beaver 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 157 

skins was greatly reduced. Now, the mountains were 
full of idle trappers, and a colony of these settled some 
miles above Bent's Fort, on the site of the present city 
of Pueblo, Col., where they did a Httle farming and 
a great deal of smuggling of liquor from Mexico to the 
plains country. The stagnation in the beaver trade, 
of course, affected the business of William Bent, who, 
since the death of his brother Charles, had not lessened 
his activities in trading. At this time his chief busi- 
ness was in buffalo robes and in horses. The establish- 
ment at the fort was now reduced, and in the early 
fifties Bent tried to sell it to the government for a 
military post, but failing to receive what he considered 
a fair price for his property, in 1852 he laid large charges 
of gunpowder in the buildings and blew the old fort 
into the air. 

In the winter of 1852-53 he had two trading houses 
of logs among the Cheyennes at the Big Timbers, and 
in the autumn of 1853 began to build his new fort 
of stone on the north side of the Arkansas River, about 
thirty-eight miles below old Fort William, and finished 
it the same year. This was the winter camp of the 
Cheyennes. At that time the Big Timbers extended 
up the river beyond the fort, and within three miles of 
the mouth of Purgatoire River, but by 1865 practically 
all the timber had been cut down, leaving the fort 
in the midst of a treeless prairie. 

In 1858 gold was discovered in the country north- 
west of the new fort. There was a rush of gold-seekers 

iS8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

to the country the following year, and for some reason 
William Bent decided to lease his post to the War 
Department. This he did. A garrison was sent there. 
It was at first intended to call the new fort Fort Faunt- 
leroy, after the colonel of the old Second Dragoons, 
but finally the place was rechristened Fort Wise, in 
honor of the Governor of Virginia. The following 
summer, i860, the troops built a stockade half a mile 
above Bent's old stone buildings. When the Civil 
War began in 1 861 and Governor Wise joined the Con- 
federates, the post was again renamed; this time Fort 
Lyon, in honor of General Lyon, who had been killed 
not long before at Wilson's Creek, Mo. In 1866 the 
river threatened to carry away the post, and it was 
moved twenty miles up the river. 

Meanwhile WiUiam Bent had built a new stockade 
on the north side of the river, in the valley of Purga- 
toire Creek, and lived there, continuing to trade with 
the Indians. Kit Carson lived on the same side of the 
river, and not far from the Bent stockade. Carson 
died at Fort Lyon, May 23, 1868, and his friend William 
Bent, at his home. May 19, 1869. Ceran St. Vrain 
died October 29, 1870. The last year of his life was 
spent at Taos, N. M., but he died at the home of 
his son Felix, in Mora, N. M. 

In 1839 Mr. Farnham visited Bent's Fort, and met 
two of the Bent brothers, whose names he does not 
give. They were clad like trappers, in splendid deer- 
skin hunting-shirts and leggings, with long fringes on 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 159 

the outer seams of the arms and legs, the shirts deco- 
rated with designs worked in colored porcupine quills, 
and on their feet moccasins covered with quill work 
and beading. 

This great establishment, standing alone in the 
midst of a wilderness, much impressed the traveller, 
who not long before had left a region where men, 
if not crowded together, were at least seen frequently, 
for he had recently come from Peoria, 111. He spoke 
of it as a solitary abode of men seeking wealth in the 
face of hardship and danger, and declared that it 
reared "its towers over the uncultivated wastes of 
nature like an old baronial castle that has withstood 
the wars and desolations of centuries." To him the 
Indian women, walking swiftly about the courtyard 
and on the roofs of the houses, clad in long deerskin 
dresses and bright moccasins, were full of interest; 
while the naked children, with perfect forms and the 
red of the Saxon blood showing through the darker hue 
of the mother race, excited his enthusiasm. He won- 
dered at the novel manners and customs that he saw, 
at the grave bburgeois and their clerks and traders, 
who, in time of leisure, sat cross-legged under a shade, 
smoking the long-stemmed Indian stone pipe, which 
they deliberately passed from hand to hand, until it 
was smoked out; at the simple food — dried buffalo 
meat and bread made from the unbolted wheaten meal 
from Taos, repasts which lacked sweets and condiments. 

Here, as it seemed to him, were gathered people from 

i6o Beyond the Old Frontier 

the ends of the earth: old trappers whose faces were 
lined and leathery from long exposure to the snows of 
winter and the burning heats of summer; Indians, 
some of whom were clad in civilized clothing, but re- 
tained the reserve and silence of their race; Mexican 
servants, hardly more civilized than the Indians; and 
all these seated on the ground, gathered around a 
great dish of dried meat, which constituted their only 
food. The prairie men who talked narrated their ad- 
ventures in the North, the West, the South, and among 
the mountains, while others, less given to conversation, 
nodded or grunted in assent or comment. The talk 
was of where the buffalo had been, or would be; of the 
danger from hostile tribes; of past fights, when men 
had been wounded and killed; and of attacks by In- 
dians on hunters or traders who were passing through 
the country. 

He describes the opening of the gates on the winter's 
morning, the cautious sliding in and out of the Indians, 
whose tents stood around the fort, till the court was 
full of people with long, hanging black locks and 
dark, flashing watchful eyes; the traders and clerks 
busy at their work; the patrols walking the battle- 
ments with loaded muskets; the guards in the bastion, 
standing with burning matches by the carronades; 
and when the sun set, the Indians retiring again to 
their camp outside, to talk over their newly purchased 
blankets and beads, and to sing and drink and dance; 
and finally the night sentinel on the fort that treads 

When Beaver Skins Were Money i6i 

his weary watch away. "This," he says, "presents a 
tolerable view of this post in the season of business.*' 

Soon after the construction of the fort a brass can- 
non had been purchased in St. Louis and brought out 
for the purpose of impressing the Indians. It was used 
there for many years, but in 1846, when General Kearny 
passed by, some enthusiastic employee charged it with 
too great a load of powder, and in saluting the General 
it burst. Some time after that an iron cannon was 
brought from Santa Fe, and during the day always 
stood outside the big gate of the fort, and was often 
fired in honor of some great Indian chief when he came 
into the post with his camp. The old brass cannon lay 
about the post for some time, and is mentioned by 

The passage of General Kearny's little army on its 
march into Mexico made a gala day at Bent's Fort. 
The army had encamped nine miles below the post to 
complete its organization, for it had come straggling 
across the plains from Missouri in small detachments. 
On the morning of August 2 the fort was filled to over- 
flowing with people: soldiers and officers, white trap- 
pers, Indian trappers, Mexicans, Cheyennes, Arapa- 
hoes, Kiowas, and Indian women, the wives of trappers 
from the far away Columbia and St. Lawrence. Every 
one was busy talking — a babel of tongues and jargons. 
The employees, with their wives and children, had 
gathered on the flat roofs to witness the wonderful 
spectacle, while in a securely hidden nook Charles Bent 

i62 Beyond the Old Frontier 

was rejoicing the souls of a few of his army friends 
with the icy contents of "a pitcher covered with the 
dew of promise." 

A cloud of dust moving up the valley "at the rate 
of a horse walking fast" at length announced the ap- 
proach of the troops. At the head of the column rode 
General Kearny, behind him a company of the old 
First United States Dragoons, behind the dragoons a 
regiment of Missouri volunteer cavalry and two bat- 
teries of volunteer artillery, and of infantry but two 
companies. It was an army of 1,700 men, and yet to 
the Indians assembled at the fort it must have seemed 
indeed an army, for perhaps few of them had ever 
dreamed that there were half as many men in the whole 
"white tribe." The column drew near the fort, 
swinging to the left, forded the river to the Mexican 
bank, turned again up the valley, and went on its way, 
a part to the city of Mexico, a part to CaHfornia, and 
a part only to Santa Fe, whence but a few months 
later they would march to avenge the murder of 
Charles Bent, now doHngout mint-juleps to the loiter- 
ing officers in the little room upstairs in the fort. 



There were two or three employees at the fort 
whose labors never ceased. These were the hunt- 
ers who were obliged constantly to provide meat for 


From an original daguerreotype 




When Beaver Skins Were Money 163 

the employees. Though the number of these varied, 
there might be from sixty to a hundred men employed 
at the fort, and many of these had families, so that 
the population was considerable. 

For a number of years the principal hunter for the 
fort was Kit Carson, who was often assisted by a Mex- 
ican or two, though in times when work was slack many 
of the traders, trappers, employees, and teamsters de- 
voted themselves to hunting. Often game could be 
killed within sight of the post, but at other times it 
was necessary for the hunter to take with him a wagon 
or pack-animals, for he might be obliged to go several 
days' journey before securing the necessary food. It 
was the duty of Carson and his assistants to provide 
meat for the whole post. It was here that in 1843 
Carson was married to a Mexican girl. 

Though, as already suggested, difficulties sometimes 
occurred with the Indians, these troubles were very 
rare; yet the vigilance of the garrison, drilled into them 
from earliest times by William Bent, never relaxed. 

The animals belonging to the fort were a constant 
temptation to the Indians. The fort stood on the open 
plain by the riverside, and there was an abundance of 
good grass close at hand, so that the herd could be 
grazed within sight of the walls. Even so, however, 
the Indians occasionally swept off the stock, as in 1839, 
when a party of Comanches hid in the bushes on the 
river-bank, ran off every hoof of stock belonging to the 
post, and killed the Mexican herder. 

164 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Farnham while there heard this account of the event : 
"About the middle of June, 1839, a band of sixty of 
them [Comanches] under cover of night crossed the 
river and concealed themselves among the bushes that 
grow thickly on the bank near the place where the 
animals of the establishment feed during the day. No 
sentinel being on duty at the time, their presence was 
unobserved: and when morning came the Mexican 
horse guard mounted his horse, and with the noise 
and shouting usual with that class of servants when so 
employed, rushed his charge out of the fort; and riding 
rapidly from side to side of the rear of the band, urged 
them on and soon had them nibbling the short dry 
grass in a little vale within grape shot distance of the 
guns of the bastion. It is customary for a guard of 
animals about these trading-posts to take his station 
beyond his charge; and if they stray from each other, 
or attempt to stroll too far, he drives them together, 
and thus keeps them in the best possible situation to be 
driven hastily to the corral, should the Indians, or other 
evil persons, swoop down upon them. And as there is 
constant danger of this, his horse is held by a long rope, 
and grazes around him, that he may be mounted quickly 
at the first alarm for a retreat within the walls. The 
faithful guard at Bent's, on the morning of the disaster 
I am relating, had dismounted after driving out his 
animals, and sat upon the ground, watching with the 
greatest fidelity for every call of duty; when these 50 
or 60 Indians sprang from their hiding places, ran 

from the painting in the Capitol at Denver, Colorado 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 165 

upon the animals, yelling horribly, and attempted to 
drive them across the river. The guard, however, 
nothing daunted, mounted quickly, and drove his horse 
at full speed among them. The mules and horses 
hearing his voice amidst the frightening yells of the 
savages, immediately started at a lively pace for the 
fort; but the Indians were on all sides, and bewildered 
them. The guard still pressed them onward, and 
called for help; and on they rushed, despite the efforts 
of the Indians to the contrary. The battlements were 
covered with men. They shouted encouragement to 
the brave guard — 'Onward, onward,' and the injunc- 
tion was obeyed. He spurred his horse to his greatest 
speed from side to side and whipped the hindermost of 
the band with his leading rope. He had saved every 
animal: he was within 20 yards of the open gate: he 
fell: three arrows from the bows of the Cumanches 
had cloven his heart, and, relieved of him, the lords of 
the quiver gathered their prey, and drove them to the 
borders of Texas, without injury to life or limb. I saw 
this faithful guard's grave: He had been buried a few 
days. The wolves had been digging into it. Thus 
40 or 50 mules and horses and their best servant's 
life were lost to the Messrs. Bents in a single day." 

Long before this, in 1831, when the fort was still 
unfinished, Carson with twelve white employees went 
down the river to the Big Timbers to cut logs for use 
in the construction work. He had all the horses and 
mules belonging to the post with him, and while he 

1 66 Beyond the Old Frontier 

and his men were at work, a party of sixty Crows crept 
up close to them, and coming out of the brush and 
timber drove off the herd. Carson and his men, all 
on foot, followed the Crows across the open prairie. 
With them were two mounted Cheyenne warriors, who 
had been visiting the camp when the Crows made their 
attack, but who luckily had both their ponies by them, 
and thus saved them. The Crows had not gone many 
miles before they halted, and camped in a thicket on the 
margin of a little stream, thinking that a party of 
twelve men would not dare to follow them on foot; 
therefore, when they beheld Carson and his men com- 
ing on their trail they were greatly astonished. They 
left the stolen animals behind them, and came boldly 
out on the open prairie to annihilate the venturesome 
white men, but all of Carson's party had excellent 
rifles and one or two pistols apiece. Carson used to 
tell how surprised those Crows were when they charged 
down upon his men and were met by a stunning volley. 
They turned and made for the thicket, the whites fol- 
lowing them at a run. Into the thicket went the Crows 
and in after them tumbled Carson and his men. Some 
spirited bushwhacking ensued, then out at the far edge 
of the thicket came the Crows, with Carson and his 
men still after them. Meantime, when the Crows had 
come out to charge the whites, the two mounted Chey- 
ennes had quietly slipped round in the rear and run 
oflF all the captured horses, so now Carson's men 
mounted and rode exultingly back to their camp, while 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 167 

the discomfited Crows plodded on homeward, nurs- 
ing their wounds. 

In the years before the great peace was made be- 
tween the Kiowas and Comanches, and the Cheyennes 
and Arapahoes, the home country of the Southern 
Cheyennes lay chiefly between the Arkansas and the 
South Platte Rivers. In August many of them used to 
go east as far as the valley of the Republican, for the 
purpose of gathering winter supplies of choke-cherries 
and plums. In the autumn the Suhtai and the Hill 
people — His'si-o-me'ta-ne — went up west into the foot- 
hills of the mountains to kill mule-deer, which were 
plenty there, and at that season fat. All the different 
bands of Cheyennes used to make annual trips to the 
mountains for the purpose of securing lodge-poles. A 
cedar which grew there was also much employed in the 
manufacture of bows. 

At this time the range of the Kiowas was from the 
Cimarron south to the Red River of Texas, on the 
ridge of the Staked Plains. They kept south in order 
to avoid, so far as possible, the raiding parties of Chey- 
ennes and Arapahoes, who were constantly trying to 
take horses from them. In those days — and still earlier 
— the Kiowas used to make frequent trips north to visit 
their old friends and neighbors, the Crows, but when 
they did this they kept away to the westward, close 
to the mountains, in order to avoid the camps of the 
Cheyennes. Nevertheless, such travelling parties were 
occasionally met by the Cheyennes or Arapahoes, and 

1 68 Beyond the Old Frontier 

fights occurred. It was in such a fight that an old 
woman, now (1912) known as White Cow Woman, or 
the Kiowa Woman, was captured. She was a white 
child, taken from the whites by the Kiowas when two 
or three years of age, and a year or two later captured 
from the Kiowas as stated by the Cheyennes. . She is 
now supposed to be seventy-six or seventy-seven years 
old. The fight when she was captured took place in 
1835, or three years before the great fight on Wolf 

Before the Mexican War the Arkansas was the 
boundary between the United States and Mexico, and 
Bent's Fort was, therefore, on the extreme border of 
the United States. In those days the Indians used to 
make raids into Mexican territory, sweeping off great 
herds of horses and mules. They also captured many 
Mexicans, and many a Comanche and Kiowa warrior 
owned two or three peons, whom he kept to herd his 
horses for him. I 

These peons were often badly treated by their Mex- 
ican masters, and after they had been for a short time 
with the Indians, they liked the new life so well that 
they would not return to their old masters, even if they 
had the opportunity. Many of these men led the war- 
riors in raids into Mexico. They kept in communica- 
tion with peons in the Mexican settlements, and from 
them learned just which places were unguarded, where 
the best herds and most plunder were to be secured, and 
where the Mexican troops were stationed. The peon 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 169 

then led his war-party to the locality selected, and they 
ran off the herds, burned ranches, and carried ofF 
plunder and peon women and men. Some of the peons 
captured became chiefs in the tribes that had taken 
them. In the old days. Colonel Bent sometimes pur- 
chased these Mexican peons from the Kiowas. In 1908 
one of these peons was still living at the Kiowa Agency, 
eighty-two years old. 

Carson was employed by the Bents as hunter for 
many years. Sometimes he remained at the fort, sup- 
plying the table with meat, at other times he went with 
the wagon-train to Missouri, acting as hunter for the 
outfit. The following advertisement from the Missouri 
Intelligencer marked Carson's first appearance on the 
page of history: 

"Notice: To whom it may concern: That Chris- 
topher Carson, a boy about sixteen years, small of his 
age, but thickset, light hair, ran away from the sub- 
scriber, living in Franklin, Howard Co., Mo., to whom 
he had been bound to learn the saddler's trade, on or 
about the first day of September last. He is supposed 
to have made his way toward the upper part of the 
State. All persons are notified not to harbor, support 
or subsist said boy under penalty of the law. One 
cent reward will be given to any person who will bring 
back said boy. 

"David Workman. 

"Franklin, Oct. 6, 1826." 

170 Beyond the Old Frontier 

This runaway boy joined the Santa Fe caravan of 
Charles Bent, and from that time on for a number of 
years was employed by Bent and St. Vrain. From 
1834 to 1842, he was constantly at the fort. He mar- 
ried a daughter of Charles Beaubien, of Taos, who, 
with his son, Narcisse Beaubien, was killed at the time 
of the Pueblo massacre in January, 1847. 

During the Civil War, Carson received a commission 
in the militia of New Mexico or Colorado, and rose to 
the rank of colonel and brevet brigadier-general. 


Bent's Old Fort was a stopping-place for all 
travellers on the Santa Fe trail, and visitors often 
remained there for weeks at a time, for Colonel 
Bent kept open house. On holidays, such as Christ- 
mas and the Fourth of July, if any number of people 
were there, they often had balls or dances, in which 
trappers, travellers, Indians, Indian women, and Mexi- 
can women all took part. Employed about the post 
there was always a Frenchman or two who could 
play the violin and guitar. On one occasion Frank P. 
Blair,^ then twenty-three years old, afterward a gen- 
eral in the Union army, and at one time a vice-presi- 
dential candidate, played the banjo all night at a ball 
at the fort. 

^ Appointed Attorney-general of New Mexico by General Kearny in 
1846. Took an active part on the side of the Union in Missouri in 1 860-1. 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 171 

Just before each Fourth of July, a party was always 
sent up into the mountains on the Purgatoire River to 
gather wild mint for mint-juleps to be drunk in honor 
of the day. For the brewing of these, ice from the ice- 
house was used. In those days this drink was called 
"hail storm." 

The employees at the fort were divided into classes, 
to each of which special duties were assigned. Cer- 
tain men remained always at the post guarding it, 
trading with Indians and trappers, and keeping the 
books. These we may call clerks, or store-keepers, and 
mechanics. Another group took care of the Hve-stock, 
herding and caring for the horses and mules, while still 
others had charge of the wagon-train that hauled the 
furs to the States, and brought back new goods to the 
fort. Other men, led by veteran traders, went to trade 
in the Indian camps at a distance. 

Excepting in summer, when the trains were absent 
on their way to St. Louis, the population of the fort 
was large. There were traders, clerks, trappers, hunt- 
ers, teamsters, herders, and laborers, and these were 
of as many races as there were trades. The clerks, 
traders, and trappers were chiefly Americans, the hunt- 
ers and laborers might be white men, Mexicans, or 
Frenchmen. Some of the Delawares and Shawnees — 
of whom Black Beaver was one of the most famous — 
were hunters and trappers, while others of their race 
were teamsters, and went back and forth with the 
trains between Westport and Fort William. The herd- 

172 Beyond the Old Frontier 

ers were chiefly Mexicans, as were also some of the 
laborers, while the cook of the bourgeois was a negro. 
Almost all these people had taken Indian wives from 
one tribe or another, and the fort was plentifully peo- 
pled with women and children, as well as with men. 

During the summer season matters were often very 
quiet about the fort. In April, just about the time 
that the Indians set out on their summer buiFalo-hunt, 
the train started for St. Louis. It was under the per- 
sonal conduct of Colonel Bent, but in charge of a 
wagon-master, who was responsible for everything. It 
was loaded with robes. With the train went most of 
the teamsters and herders, together with some of the 
laborers. The journey was to last nearly six months. 
Each heavy wagon was drawn by six yoke of oxen, 
driven by a teamster, who might be a white man or a 
Delaware or a Shawnee. With the train went great 
herds of horses to be sold when the settlements were 
reached. Agent Fitzpatrick says that the Cheyennes 
moved with the train as far as Pawnee Fork, and then 
scattered on their hunt. 

Travel was slow, for the teams made but ten or 
twelve miles a day. On each trip they camped at 
about the same places, and to the men who accompanied 
the train the route was as well known as is the main 
street to the people of a small town. When camp was 
reached at night the wagons were corralled, the bulls 
freed from their yokes, and, in charge of the night herd- 
ers, who during the day had been sleeping in the wagons, 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 173 

were driven ofF to the best grass and there fed and 
rested until morning, when they were driven back to 
the corral to be turned over to the teamsters. The 
horse herd was taken off in another direction, and held 
during the night by the horse night herders. Within 
the great corral of wagons the fires were kindled, and 
the mess cooks prepared the simple meal of bread, 
already cooked, and coffee. 

At daylight in the morning the oxen were brought 
in and yoked, the blankets tied up and thrown into the 
wagons, and long before the sun appeared the train 
was in motion. Travel was kept up until ten or eleven 
o'clock, depending on the weather. If it was hot they 
stopped earlier; if cool, they travelled longer. Then 
camp was made, the wagons were again corralled, the 
herds turned out, and the principal meal of the day, 
which might be called breakfast or dinner, was pre- 
pared. Perhaps during the morning the hunters had 
killed buffalo or antelope, and this with bread satisfied 
the keen appetites of the men. If fresh meat had not 
been killed, there was always an abundance of dried 
meat, which every one liked. At two or three o'clock 
the herds were again brought in, and the train was set 
in motion, the journey continuing until dark or after. 
So the quiet routine of the march was kept up until 
the settlements were reached. 

The whole train was in charge of the wagon-master, 
who was its absolute governing head. He fixed the 
length of the march, the time for starting and halting. 

174 Beyond the Old Frontier 

If a difficult stream was to be crossed, he rode ahead 
of the train and directed the crossing of the first team, 
and then of all the others, not leaving the place until 
the difficulty had been wholly overcome. Besides 
looking after a multitude of details, such as the shoeing 
of the oxen, the greasing of the wagons, which took 
place every two or three days, and the condition of the 
animals in the yokes, he also issued rations to the men, 
and was, in fact, the fountain of all authority. With 
the cavalyard ^ were always driven a number of loose 
work-oxen, and if an animal in the yoke was injured, 
or became lame or footsore, it was turned into the herd 
and replaced by a fresh ox. 

When the axles of the wagons were to be greased, 
the wheels were lifted from the ground by a very long 
lever, on the end of which several men threw them- 
selves to raise the wagon, so that the wheel could be 
taken off. If one of the teamsters became sick or dis- 
abled, it was customary for the wagon-master to drive 
the leading team. 

The train often consisted of from twenty to thirty 
wagons, most of them — in later years — laden with bales 
of buffalo robes on the way to the settlements, and re- 
turned full of goods. The front end of the wagon in- 
clined somewhat forward, and about half-way down 
the front was a box, secured by a lock, in which the 
teamster kept the spare keys for his ox-bows, various 

^ Sp. caballada: literally, a herd of horses; more broadly, a herd of horses 
and work-cattle. Also pronounced cdvaya, and spelled in a variety of ways. 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 175 

other tools, and some of his own small personal be- 

Two hunters, one a white man, and the other a Mex- 
ican, or Indian, accompanied the train, and each morn- 
ing, as soon as it was ready to start, they set out to kill 
game, and usually when the train came to the appointed 
camping-place, they were found there resting in the 
shade, with a load of meat. Sometimes, if they killed 
an animal close to the road, they loaded it on a horse 
and brought it back to the trail, so that it could be 
thrown into a wagon when the train passed. 

The Shawnees and Delawares were great hunters, 
and almost always when the train stopped for noon, 
and their cattle had been turned out and the meal 
eaten, these men would be seen striding ofF over the 
prairie, each with a long rifle over his shoulder. 

In the train there were several messes. Colonel Bent 
and any member of his family, or visitor, messed to- 
gether, the white teamsters and the Mexicans also 
messed together, while the Delawares and Shawnees, by 
preference, messed by themselves. Each man had his 
own quart cup and plate, and carried his own knife in 
its sheath. Forks or spoons were not known. Each 
man marked his own plate and cup, usually by rudely 
scratching his initials or mark on it, and when he had 
finished using it, he washed or cleansed it himself. 
Each mess chose its cook from among its members. 
The food eaten by these travellers, though simple, was 
wholesome and abundant. Meat was the staple; but 

176 Beyond the Old Frontier 

they also had bread and abundant coffee, and occa- 
sionally boiled dried apples and rice. Usually there 
was sugar, though sometimes they had to depend on the 
old-fashioned "long sweetening'*; that is, New Orleans 
molasses, which was imported in hogsheads for trade 
with the Indians. 

The train was occasionally attacked by Indians, but 
they were always beaten off. In 1847 the Comanches 
attacked the wagons at Pawnee Fork, but they were 
repulsed, and Red Sleeves, their chief, was killed. The 
fork is called by the Indians Red Sleeves* Creek, in 
remembrance of this affair. Charles Hallock, who 
made the journey with one of these trains, wrote an 
account of an attack by Comanches, which was printed 
in Harper s Magazine, in 1859. 

After the return to the post in autumn, the cattle 
were turned out into the herd, wagons ranged around 
outside of the corral, while the yokes and chains for 
each bull team were cared for by the driver of the team. 
Usually they were carried into the fort and piled up in 
some shady place. The keys for the bows were tied 
to the yokes, and the chains lay close to them. 

Rarely a few ox-bows were lost by being taken away 
by the Indians, who greatly coveted the hickory wood 
for the manufacture of bows. There was no hickory 
nearer than Council Grove, and if an Indian could get 
hold of an ox-bow, he steamed and straightened it, and 
from it made a useful bow. 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 177 

Back at the fort only a few men were left; the clerks, 
a trader or two, and a few laborers and herders. There 
were frequent calls there by Indians, chiefly war-parties 
stopping to secure supplies of arms and ammunition. 
Hunting parties occasionally called to procure ordinary 
goods. Parties of white travellers came and stayed for 
a little while, and then went on again. During this 
time especial precautions were taken against trouble 
with the Indians. At night, the fort was closed early, 
and conditions sometimes arose under which admission 
to the fort might be refused by the trader. This 
watchfulness, which was never relaxed, was not caused 
by any special fear of Indian attacks, but was merely 
the carrying out of those measures of prudence which 
Colonel Bent had always practised, and which he had 
so thoroughly inculcated in his men that they had be- 
come fixed habits. 

Usually the Cheyenne Indians were freely admitted 
to the fort, and were allowed to wander through it, 
more or less at will. They might go up on the roof and 
into the watch-tower, but were warned by the chiefs 
not to touch anything. They might go about and look, 
and, if they wished to, ask questions, but they were not 
to take things in their hands. Toward the close of the 
day, as the sun got low, a chief or principal man went 
through the fort, and said to the young men who were 
lounging here and there: "Now, soon these people will 
wish to close the gates of this house, and you had better 
now go out and return to your camps." When this 

178 Beyond the Old Frontier 

was said the young men always obeyed, for in those 
days the chiefs had control over their young men; 
they listened to what was said to them and obeyed. 

On one occasion a war-party of Shoshoni came down 
from the mountains and visited Bent's Fort, and in- 
sisted on coming in. The trader in charge, probably 
Murray, declined to let them in, and when they en- 
deavored to force their way into the post, he killed 
one of them, when the others went away. The In- 
dian's body was buried at some little distance from the 
fort, and his scalp was afterward given to a war-party 
of Cheyennes and Arapahoes. 

In winter the scenes at the fort were very different. 
Now it harbored a much larger population. All the 
employees were there, except a few traders and team- 
sters and laborers, who might be out visiting the differ- 
ent camps, and who were constantly going and return- 
ing. The greater part of the laborers and teamsters 
had Httle or nothing to do, and spent most of the winter 
in idleness, lounging about the fort, or occasionally 
going out hunting. Besides the regular inhabitants 
there were many visitors, some of whom spent a long 
time at the fort. Hunters and trappers from the 
mountains, often with their families, came in to pur- 
chase goods for the next summer's journey, or to visit, 
and then, having supplied their wants, returned to 
their mountain camps. All visitors were welcome to 
stay as long as they pleased. 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 179 

Though the fort was full of idle men, nevertheless 
time did not hang heavy on their hands. There were 
amusements of various sorts, hunting parties, games, 
and not infrequent dances, in which the moccasined 
trappers, in their fringed, beaded, or porcupine-quilled 
buckskin garments swung merry-faced, laughing In- 
dian women in the rough but hearty dances of the 
frontier. To the employees of the fort liquor was ever 
dealt out with a sparing hand, and there is no memory 
of any trouble among the people who belonged at the 
post. It was a contented and cheerful family that 
dwelt within these four adobe walls. 

Perhaps the most important persons at the fort, 
after the directing head who governed the whole or- 
ganization, were the traders, who dealt out goods to 
the Indians in the post, receiving their furs in payment, 
and who were sent off to distant camps with loads of 
trade goods, to gather from them the robes which they 
had prepared, or to buy horses and mules. 

Of these traders there were seven or eight, of whom 
the following are remembered: Murray, an Irishman 
known to the Indians as Pau-e-sih', Flat Nose; Fisher, 
an American, No-ma-ni', Fish; Hatcher, a Kentuckian, 
He-him'ni-ho-nah', Freckled Hand; Thomas Boggs, a 
Missourian, Wohk' po-hum'. White Horse; John 
Smith, a Missourian, P6-o-om' mats. Gray Blanket; 
Kit Carson, a Kentuckian, Vi-hiu-nis', Little Chief, and 
Charles Davis, a Missourian, Ho-nlh', Wolf. 

L. Maxwell, Wo-wihph' pai-i-slh'. Big Nostrils, was 

i8o Beyond the Old Frontier 

the superintendent or foreman at the fort, but had 
nothing to do with the trading. He looked after the 
herds and laborers and fort matters in general. 

Murray, who was a good hunter and trapper, and a 
brave man, was one of the two more important men 
among the traders. He usually remained at the fort, 
and was almost always left in charge when the train 
went to the States. Hatcher, however, was probably 
the best trader, and the most valued of the seven. 

Each of these traders had especial friendly relations 
with some particular tribe of Indians, and each was 
naturally sent off to the tribe that he knew best. 
Besides this, often when villages of Indians came and 
camped somewhere near the post, the chiefs would re- 
quest that a particular man be sent to their village to 
trade. Sometimes to a very large village two or three 
traders would be sent, the work being more than one 
man could handle in a short period of time. 

When it was determined that a trader should go out, 
he and the chief clerk talked over the trip. The trader 
enumerated the goods required, and these were laid 
out, charged to him, and then packed for transporta- 
tion to the camp. If the journey were over level 
prairie, this transportation was by wagon, but if over 
rough country pack-mules were used. If on arrival 
at the camp the trader found that the trade was going 
to be large, and that he required more goods, he sent 
back his wagon, or some of his animals, to the post for 
additional supplies. When he returned from his trip 

When Beaver Skins Were Money i8i 

and turned in his robes, he was credited with the goods 
that he had received. The trade for robes ended in 
the spring, and during the summer the traders often 
went to different villages to barter for horses and 

A certain proportion of the trade with the Indians 
was for spirits, but this proportion was small. The 
Indians demanded liquor, and though Colonel Bent 
was strongly opposed to giving it to them, he knew 
very well that unless he did something toward satisfy- 
ing their demands, whiskey traders from Santa Fe or 
Taos might come into the territory and gratify the 
Indians' longing for drink, and at the same time take 
away the trade from the fort. Two or three times a 
year, therefore, after many visits from the chiefs, ask- 
ing for liquor, promising to take charge of it and see 
to its distribution, and to be responsible that payment 
should be made for it, a lot of liquor would be sent out 
to a camp, packed in kegs of varying sizes. A trader 
coming into the villages would deposit his load in the 
lodge of the chief. The Indians wishing to trade would 
come to the lodge and offer what they had to trade, 
and each would be assigned a keg of a certain size, 
sufficient to pay for the robes, horses, or mules that he 
sold. Each Indian then tied a piece of cloth or a 
string to his keg, so as to mark it as his, and it remained 
in the chiefs lodge, unopened for the present. When 
the trade had been completed, the trader left the vil- 
lage, and not until he had gone some distance did the 

1 82 Beyond the Old Frontier 

chief permit the Indians to take their kegs of Hquor. 
Sometimes while the traders were in a camp trading 
ordinary goods, a party of men from Taos or Santa Fe 
would come into the camp with whiskey, and then at 
once there would be an end of all legitimate business 
until the Indians had become intoxicated, drunk all the 
spirits, and become sober again. No trader ever wished 
to have whiskey in the camp where he was working. 

We commonly think of the trade at one of these old 
forts as being wholly for furs, but at Bent's Fort this 
was not the case. In later times furs — that is to say, 
buffalo robes — were indeed a chief article of trade, and 
were carried back to the States to be sold there; but a 
great trade also went on in horses and mules, of which 
the Indians possessed great numbers, and of which they 
were always getting more. These horses and mules 
were taken back to the settlements and sold there, but 
they were also sold to any one who would buy them. 
The cavalyard was a part of every train which re- 
turned to the States, the animals being herded by Mexi- 
cans and being in charge of a trader, who disposed of 
them when they reached the settlements. 

The Indians frequently paid for their goods in horses 
and mules, but this was not the only source from which 
horses came. About 1845 WilHam Bent sent his 
brother, George Bent, with Tom Boggs and Hatcher, 
down into Mexico to trade for horses and mules. 
They brought back great herds, and with them a cele- 
brated rider known at the fort, and in later years to 


When Beaver Skins Were Money 183 

all the Cheyennes, as One-eyed Juan, whose sole occu- 
pation was breaking horses, a vocation which he fol- 
lowed until he was too old to get into the saddle. It 
was said of him that when he wished to show off he 
would put a saddle on a wild horse, and placing a 
Mexican dollar in each one of the huge wooden stir- 
rups, would mount the horse, and no matter what the 
horse might do, these dollars were always found under 
the soles of the rider*s feet when the animal stopped 

While the chief market at which the horses and mules 
were sold was St. Louis, yet on at least one occasion 
Hatcher took a herd of horses which had been bought 
wild from the Comanches and broken by the Mexicans 
at the fort over to Taos and Santa Fe, and sold them 
there. Occasionally they sold good broken horses to 
the Indians for robes. 

It must be remembered that a large proportion of 
these horses purchased from the Indians, and especially 
from the Comanches, were wild horses taken by the 
Comanches from the great herds which ran loose on 
the ranches in Mexico. Practically all these horses 
bore Mexican brands. 

After the emigration to CaHfornia began, herds of 
horses and mules were sent up to the emigrant trail on 
the North Platte River, to be sold to emigrants on their 
way to California. On one occasion Hatcher, with a 
force of Mexican herders, was sent up there in charge 
of a great herd of horses and mules, and remained along- 

1 84 Beyond the Old Frontier 

side the trail until he had disposed of all his animals. 
He carried back with him the gold and silver money- 
received for them in leather panniers, packed on the 
backs of animals. 

Before starting on another similar trip, Hatcher said 
to Colonel Bent ; " It is useless to load down our animals 
with sugar, coffee and flour, to carry up there. We will 
take only enough to last us to the trail, and there we 
can buy all we need from the emigrants. Moreover, 
they have great numbers of broken-down horses, and 
it would be a good idea to buy these for little or nothing, 
and then drive them back here and let them get rested 
and fat, and then we can take them up there and sell 
them again." The wisdom of this was at once appar- 
ent, and the suggestion was followed out. 

Important members of the fort household were Chi- 
pita; Andrew Green, the bourgeoises cook; the old 
French tailor, whose name is forgotten, and the car- 
penter and the blacksmith. 

Chipita was the housekeeper and laundress, the 
principal woman at the post, and the one who, on the 
occasion of dances or other festivities, managed these 
affairs. She was a large, very good-natured, and kindly 
woman, and is said to have been half French and half 
Mexican. She spoke French readily. She was mar- 
ried to one of the employees of the fort. 

Andrew Green, the black cook, has already been 
spoken of as having ultimately been set free. 

The old French tailor had come up from New Orleans. 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 185 

He had a shop in one of the rooms of the fort, where he 
used to make and repair clothing for the men. Much 
of this clothing was of buckskin, which he himself 
dressed, for he was a good tanner. 

In winter the teamsters and laborers usually spent 
their evenings in playing cards and checkers in the 
quarters by the Hght of tallow candles, the only lights 
they had to bum. These candles were made at the 
fort, Chipita doing the work. They were moulded 
of buffalo tallow, in old-fashioned tin moulds, perhaps 
a dozen in a set. The work of fixing the wicks in 
the moulds occupied considerable time. The tallow 
was then melted, the refuse skimmed from it, the fluid 
grease poured into the moulds, and the wicks, which 
hung from the top, were cut off with a pair of scissors. 
Then the moulds were dipped in a barrel of water 
standing by, to cool the candles, and presently they 
were quite hard, and could be removed from the moulds, 
ready for use. 

In the winter Chipita would sometimes vary the 
monotony of the life by getting up a candy-pulling 
frolic, in which the laborers and teamsters all took 
part, and which was more or less a jollification. During 
the afternoon and evening the black New Orleans 
molasses, which was used in the Indian trade, was 
boiled, and after supper the people gathered in one of 
the rooms and pulled the candy. Candy such as this 
was a great luxury, and was eagerly eaten by those 
who could get it. 

1 86 Beyond the Old Frontier 

The work of the carpenter and blacksmith, whose 
shops stood at the back of the fort, was chiefly on the 
wagons, which they kept in good order. For them 
winter was the busy season, for it was their duty to 
have everything in good order and ready for the train 
to start out in April. 

In the store of the fort — presumably for sale to 
travellers or for the use of the proprietors — were to be 
found such unusual luxuries as butter-crackers. Bent's 
water-crackers, candies of various sorts, and, most re- 
markable of all, great jars of preserved ginger of the 
kind which fifty or sixty years ago used to be brought 
from China. Elderly people of the present day can 
remember, when they were children, seeing these blue 
china jars, which were carried by Hnes of vegetable 
rope passed around the necks of the jars, and can re- 
member also how delicious this ginger was when they 
were treated to a taste of it. 

At the post were some creatures which greatly as- 
tonished the Indians. On one of his trips to St. Louis 
St. Vrain purchased a pair of goats, intending to have 
them draw a cart for some of the children. On the 
way across the plains, however, one of them was killed, 
but the one that survived Hved at the fort for some years 
and used to clamber all over the walls and buildings. 
The creature was a great curiosity to the plains people, 
who had never before seen such an animal, and they 
never wearied of watching its climbing and its prome- 
nading along the walls of the fort. As it grew older it 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 187 

became cross, and seemed to take pleasure in scattering 
little groups of Indian children and chasing them about. 
The Southern Cheyennes went but little into the moun- 
tains at this time, and but few of them had ever seen 
the mountain sheep. If they had, they would not have 
regarded the domestic goat with so much wonder. 

The post was abundantly supplied with poultry, for 
pigeons, chickens, and turkeys had been brought out 
there, and bred and did well. At one time George 
Bent brought out several peacocks, whose gay plumage 
and harsh voices astonished and more or less alarmed 
the Indians, who called them thunder birds, Nun- 

There was no surgeon at the fort. Colonel Bent doing 
his own doctoring. He possessed an ample medicine- 
chest, which he replenished on his trips to St. Louis. 
He had also a number of medical books, and no doubt 
these and such practical experience as came to him with 
the years made him reasonably skilful in the rough 
medicine and surgery that he practised. With the 
train he carried a small medicine-chest, which occa- 
sionally came into play. 

For many years Bent's Fort was the great and only 
gathering-place for the Indians in the Southwestern 
plains, and at different times there were large companies 
of them present there. 

At one time no less than three hundred and fifty 
lodges of Kiowa Apaches were camping near the fort 
on the south side of the river, and at another, according 

1 88 Beyond the Old Frontier 

to Thomas Boggs, six or seven thousand Cheyennes 
were camped there at one time. When the Kiowas, 
Comanches, and Apaches were camped about the fort 
the number of Indians was very large. It must be 
remembered that prior to 1849 the Indians of the 
Southwest had not been appreciably affected by any of 
the new diseases brought into the country by the whites. 
This was largely due to the forethought of WiUiam 
Bent, who, by his action in 1829, when smallpox was 
raging at his stockade, protected the Cheyennes and 
Arapahoes at least, and very likely other Indians, from 
the attacks of this dread disease. 

Shortly after the great peace between the Cheyennes, 
Arapahoes, Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches, which 
was made in 1840, the two great camps moved up to 
Bent's Fort, the Cheyennes and Arapahoes camping on 
the north side of the river, the Kiowas, Comanches, 
and Apaches on the south. It was a great gathering 
of Indians, and the feasting, singing, dancing, and 
drumming were continuous. Though peace had just 
been made, there was danger that some of the old ill 
feehng that had so long existed between the tribes yet 
remained. Colonel Bent, with his usual wisdom, 
warned his employees that to these camps no spirits 
whatever should be traded. He recognized that if the 
Indians got drunk they would very likely begin to 
quarrel again, and a collision between members of 
tribes formerly hostile might lead to the breaking of 
the newly made peace. This was perhaps the greatest 

When Beaver Skins Were Money 189 

gathering of the Indians that ever collected at Fort 
William. How many were there will never be known. 

Such, briefly, is the story of Bent's Fort, the oldest, 
largest, and most important of the furt rading posts on 
the great plains of the United States. Unless some 
manuscript, the existence of which is now unknown, 
should hereafter be discovered, it is likely to be all 
that we shall ever know of the place that once held an 
important position in the history of our country. 

Bent's Fort long ago fell to ruins, but it has not been 
wholly forgotten. Up to the year 1868 the buildings 
were occupied as a stage station, and a stopping-place 
for travellers, with a bar and eating-house; but soon 
after that, when the railroad came up the Arkansas 
River, and stage travel ceased, the old post was aban- 
doned. From that time on, it rapidly disintegrated 
under the weather. 

In the autumn of 191 2 I stood on this historic spot, 
still bare of grass, and marked on two sides by remains 
of the walls, in some places a mere low mound, and in 
others a wall four feet high, in which the adobe bricks 
were still recognizable. Here and there were seen old 
bits of iron, the fragment of a rusted horseshoe, of a 
rake, and a bit of cast-iron which had been part of a 
stove and bore letters and figures which could be made 
out as portions of the words **St. Louis, 1859." 

The land on which the fort stood was owned by a 
public-spirited citizen, Mr. A. E. Reynolds, of Denver, 
Col., and here within the walls of the old fort he has 

I90 Beyond the Old Frontier 

placed a granite stone to mark its site and to commem- 
orate its history. He has given the land over to the 
care of the Daughters of the American Revolution to 
be used as a public park for the counties of Otero and 
Bent, Colo. 

William Bent, whose life was devoted to the upbuild- 
ing of the Southwest, will always be remembered as the 
one who placed on that fertile and productive empire 
the stamp "settled." 



SOME time about 1840 George Frederick Ruxton, 
a young Englishman, was serving in Canada as an 
oflBcer in a British regiment. In 1837, when only 
seventeen years of age, he had left Sandhurst to enlist 
as a volunteer in the service of Spain, where he served 
with gallantry and distinction in the civil wars and 
received from Queen Isabella II the cross of the first 
class of the Order of San Fernando. The monotony of 
garrison duty in Canada soon palled on one who had 
taken part in more stirring scenes, and before long he 
resigned his commission in his regiment and sought new 
fields of adventure. 

He was a man fond of action and eager to see new 
things. His earliest project was to cross Africa, and 
this he attempted, but without success. 

He next turned toward Mexico as a field for adven- 
ture, and he has painted a fascinating picture, both of life 
there at the time of the Mexican War and of life in the 
mountains to the north. The two small volumes of his 
writings are now out of print, but they are well worth 
reading by those who desire to learn of the early history 
of a country that is now well known, and which within 
fifty years has changed from a region without popula- 
tion to one which is a teeming hive of industry. 


194 Beyond the Old Frontier 

In Ruxton*s Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky 
Mountains is a singularly vivid account of the author's 
journeyings from England, by way of the Madeira 
Islands, Barbadoes and others of the Antilles, to Cuba, 
and so to Vera Cruz, more fully called the Rich City of 
the True Cross; or as often, and quite aptly — from the 
plague of yellow fever which so constantly ravaged it — 
the City of the Dead. From Vera Cruz he travelled 
north, passing through Mexico, whose coast was then 
blockaded by the gringoes of North America, then 
through the country ravaged by marauding Indians, 
and at last, leaving Chihuahua and crossing by way of 
El Paso into New Mexico, he reached what is now the 
Southwestern United States. Through this country he 
passed — in winter — north through the mountains, meet- 
ing the trappers and mountaineers of those days and the 
Indians as well, crossed the plains, and finally reached 
St. Louis, and from there passed east to New York. 

Although untrained in literature, Ruxton was a keen 
observer, and presented his narrative in most attract- 
ive form. He saw the salient characteristics of the 
places and the people among whom he was thrown, 
and commented on them most interestingly. He gives 
us a peculiarly vivid picture of Mexico as it was during 
its early days of stress and strain, or from the time of its 
independence, for within the last twenty-five years there 
had been not far from two hundred and fifty revolu- 
tions. This state of things, as is well known, con- 
tinued for a dozen years after the Mexican War, or 

George Frederick Ruxton 195 

until the great Indian Juarez became ruler of the 
country and put down lawlessness and revolution with 
a strong hand. From his day until the expulsion of 
his great successor Porfirio Diaz Mexico was fortunate 
in her rulers. 

Just after Ruxton reached Vera Cruz General Santa 
Anna, ex-President of Mexico, reached the city, having 
been summoned to return after his expulsion of a year 
before. Santa Anna was received with some form and 
ceremony, but with no applause; and before he had 
been long ashore was cross-examined by a represent- 
ative of the people in very positive fashion, and sub- 
mitted meekly to the inquisition. 

It is hardly to be supposed that Ruxton, who had 
been a British soldier, would be blind to the extraor- 
dinary appearance and absolute lack of discipline of the 
Mexican troops, and his description of the soldiers, 
their equipment, and the preparations for the reception 
of Santa Anna is interesting. "The crack regiment of 
the Mexican army — el onzey the nth — which happened 
to be in garrison at the time, cut most prodigious capers 
in the great plaza several times a day, disciplinando — 
drilling for the occasion. Nothing can, by any possi- 
bility, be conceived more unlike a soldier than a Mexi- 
can militar. The regular army is composed entirely of 
Indians — miserable-looking pigmies, whose grenadiers 
are five feet high. Vera Cruz, being a show place, and 
jealous of its glory, generally contrives to put decent 
clothing, by subscription, on the regiment detailed to 

196 Beyond the Old Frontier 

garrison the town; otherwise clothing is not consid- 
ered indispensable to the Mexican soldier. The muskets 
of the infantry are (that is, if they have any) condemned 
Tower muskets, turned out of the British service years 
before. I have seen them carrying firelocks without 
locks, and others with locks without hammers, the 
lighted end of a cigar being used as a match to ignite 
the powder in the pan. Discipline they have none. 
Courage a Mexican does not possess; but still they have 
that brutish indifference to death, which could be 
turned to account if they were well led, and officered by 
men of courage and spirit." 

Toward the end of the rainy season Ruxton, with a 
inozOy started for the north. He travelled on horse- 
back, and his way was made difficult by the condition 
of the roads, which were heavy from rain, and by the 
presence in the country of troops on their way to the 
war, which made the accommodations, bad at best, 
still worse. 

Concerning the city of Mexico and its inhabitants of 
the better class he speaks with some enthusiasm, but 
the hotels were villainous, the city unsafe for strangers 
after night, and at that time a blond man — a guero — 
was constantly taken for a Texan or a Yankee, and was 
subject to attack by any of the people. 

In the city of Mexico Ruxton purchased horses from 
a Yankee horse-dealer named Smith, and set out with 
a pack-train for the farther north. His accounts of his 
travels, the difficulties of the way, the inns at which he 

George Frederick Ruxton 197 

stopped, and the cities that he passed through are 
extremely interesting. Of the manufacture of the na- 
tional drink, pulque, the favorite beverage of the Mexi- 
cans, he says: "The maguey, American aloe — Agave 
americana — is cultivated over an extent of country 
embracing 50,000 square miles. In the City of Mexico 
alone the consumption of pulque amounts to the enor- 
mous quantity of 11,000,000 of gallons per annum, and 
a considerable revenue from its sale is derived by Gov- 
ernment. The plant attains maturity in a period vary- 
ing from eight to fourteen years, when it flowers; and it 
is during the stage of inflorescence only that the sac- 
charine juice is extracted. The central stem which in- 
closes the incipient flower is then cut oflF near the bot- 
tom, and a cavity or basin is discovered, over which the 
surrounding leaves are drawn close and tied. Into this 
reservoir the juice distils, which otherwise would have 
risen to nourish and support the flower. It is removed 
three or four times during the twenty-four hours, yield- 
ing a quantity of liquor varying from a quart to a gal- 
lon and a half. 

"The juice is extracted by means of a syphon made 
of a species of gourd called acojote, one end of which is 
placed in the liquor, the other in the mouth of a person, 
who by suction draws up the fluid into the pipe and 
deposits it in the bowls he has with him for the purpose. 
It is then placed in earthen jars and a little old pulque 
— madre de pulque — is added, when it soon ferments, 
and is immediately ready for use. The fermentation 

198 Beyond the Old Frontier 

occupies two or three days, and when it ceases the 
pulque is in fine order. 

"Old pulque has a sHghtly unpleasant odour, which 
heathens have likened to the smell of putrid meat, but, 
when fresh, is brisk and sparkling, and the most cooling, 
refreshing, and delicious drink that ever was invented 
for thirsty mortal; and when gliding down the dust- 
dried throat of a way-worn traveller, who feels the 
grateful Hquor distilling through his veins, is indeed the 
*Hcor divino,' which Mexicans assert, is preferred by the 
angels in heaven to ruby wine." 

Wherever Ruxton passed, his fair hair and complexion 
and his excellent arms were subjects of wonder; the 
first to the women and children, the second to the men. 
His double-barrelled rifles seem especially to have im- 
pressed the men. 

As he passed farther and farther north, he heard 
more and more concerning the raids of the Indians, 
and at the ranch of La Punta, where he stopped to 
witness the sport of tailing the bull, he heard from one 
of the inhabitants an account of the raid of the previous 
year, in which a number of peons were killed and some 
women and children carried away to the north. He 
says: "The ranchero's wife described to me the whole 
scene, and bitterly accused the men of cowardice in not 
defending the place. This woman, with two grown 
daughters and several smaller children, fled from 
the rancho before the Indians approached, and con- 
cealed themselves under a wooden bridge which crossed 

George Frederick Ruxton 


a stream near at hand. Here they remained for some 
hours, half dead with terror: presently some Indians 
approached their place of concealment: a young chief 
stood on the bridge and spoke some words to the others. 
All this time he had his piercing eyes bent upon their 
hiding-place, and had no doubt discovered them, but 
concealed his satisfaction under an appearance of indif- 
ference. He played with his victims. In broken Span- 
ish they heard him express his hope 'that he would be 
able to discover where the women were concealed — 
that he wanted a Mexican wife and some scalps.' 
Suddenly he jumped from the bridge and thrust his 
lance under it with a savage whoop; the blade pierced 
the woman's arm and she shrieked with pain. One by 
one they were drawn from their retreat. 

*' 'Dios de mi alma!' — what a moment was this! — 
said the poor creature. Her children were surrounded 
by the savages, brandishing their tomahawks, and she 
thought their last hour was come. But they all escaped 
with Hfe, and returned to find their houses plundered 
and the corpses of friends and relations strewing the 

" 'Ay de mi!' — ^what a day was this! 'Ylos hombresy* 
she continued, 'qui no son homhres?' — And the men — 
who are not men — where were they? ' Escondidos como 
los ratones* — hidden in holes like the rats. 'Mire!' she 
said suddenly, and with great excitement: 'look at 
these two hundred men, well mounted and armed, who 
are now so brave and fierce, running after the poor 

200 Beyond the Old Frontier 

bulls; if twenty Indians were to make their appearance 
where would they be? Vayal vayal' she exclaimed, 
^ son cohardes^ — they are cowards all of them. 

"The daughter, who sat at her mother's feet during 
the recital, as the scenes of that day were recalled to her 
memory, buried her face in her mother's lap, and wept 
with excitement. 

"To return to the toros. In a large corral, at one 
end of which was a little building, erected for the 
accommodation of the lady spectators, were inclosed 
upwards of a hundred bulls. Round the corral were 
the horsemen, all dressed in the picturesque Mexican 
costume, examining the animals as they were driven to 
and fro in the inclosure, in order to make them wild for 
the sport — alzar el corage. The ranchero himself, and 
his sons, were riding amongst them, armed with long 
lances, separating from the herd, and driving into 
another inclosure, the most active bulls. When all was 
ready, the bars were withdrawn from the entrance of 
the corral, and a bull driven out, who, seeing the wide 
level plain before him, dashed off at the top of his speed. 
With a shout, the horsemen pursued the flying animal, 
who, hearing the uproar behind him, redoubled his 
speed. Each urges his horse to the utmost, and strives 
to take the lead and be first to reach the bull. In such 
a crowd, of course, first-rate horsemanship is required 
to avoid accidents and secure a safe lead. For some 
minutes the troop ran on in a compact mass — a sheet 
could have covered the lot. Enveloped in a cloud of 

George Frederick Ruxton 201 

dust, nothing could be seen but the bull, some hundred 
yards ahead, and the rolling cloud. Presently, with a 
shout, a horseman emerged from the front rank; the 
women cried * Viva!* as, passing close to the stage, he 
was recognized to be the son of the ranchera, a boy of 
twelve years of age, sitting his horse like a bird, and 
swaying from side to side as the bull doubled, and the 
cloud of dust concealed the animal from his view. 
* Viva Pepito! viva!* shouted his mother, as she waved 
her reboso to encourage the boy; and the little fellow 
struck his spurs into his horse and doubled down to his 
work manfully. But now two others are running neck 
and neck with him, and the race for the lead and the 
first throw is most exciting. The men shout, the 
women wave their rebosos and cry out their names: 
^ Aha — Bernardo — por mi amor, Juan Maria — Viva Pe^ 
pitito!* they scream in intense excitement. The boy at 
length loses the lead to a tall, fine-looking Mexican, 
mounted on a fleet and powerful roan stallion, who 
gradually but surely forges ahead. At this moment 
the sharp eyes of little Pepe observed the bull to turn 
at an angle from his former course, which movement 
was hidden by the dust from the leading horseman. In 
an instant the boy took advantage of it, and, wheeling 
his horse at a right angle from his original course, cut 
off the bull. Shouts and vivas rent the air at sight of 
this skillful maneuver, and the boy, urging his horse 
with whip and spur, ranged up to the left quarter of 
the bull, bending down to seize the tail, and secure it 

202 Beyond the Old Frontier 

under his right leg, for the purpose of throwing the 
animal to the ground. But here Pepe's strength failed 
him in a feat which requires great power of muscle, 
and in endeavouring to perform it he was jerked out of 
his saddle and fell violently to the ground, stunned and 
senseless. At least a dozen horsemen were now striving 
hard for the post of honour, but the roan distanced 
them all, and its rider, stronger than Pepe, dashed up 
to the bull, threw his right leg over the tail, which he 
had seized in his right hand, and, wheeling his horse 
suddenly outwards, upset the bull in the midst of his 
career, and the huge animal rolled over and over in 
the dust, bellowing with pain and fright.^* 

Pushing northward through Mexico, Ruxton passed 
into a country with fewer and fewer inhabitants. It 
was the borderland of the Republic, where the Indians, 
constantly raiding, were kilHng people, burning villages, 
and driving off stock. The author's adventures were 
frequent. He was shot at by his mozoy or servant, who 
desired to possess his property. He met wagon-trains 
coming from Santa Fe, owned and manned by Amer- 
icans. He lost his animals, was often close to Indians, 
yet escaped without fighting them, assisted in the 
rescue of a number of American teamsters who had 
endeavored to strike across the country to reach the 
United States, and many of whom had perished from 
hunger and thirst; and finally, while on this good 
errand, was robbed of all his property by thieves in 
the little village where he had left it. His journal of 

George Frederick Ruxton 203 

travel is pleasantly interspersed with traditions of the 
country and accounts of local adventures of the time. 

Reaching Chihuahua, he found the shops stocked 
with goods brought from the United States by way of 
Santa Fe, it being profitable to drive the wagon-trains 
south as far as Chihuahua, rather than to sell their 
loads in Santa Fe. This Santa Fe trade, always sub- 
ject to great risks from attacks by Indians and other 
dangers of the road, was made still more difficult 
from the extraordinary customs duties laid by the 
Mexican officials, who, without reference to the nature 
of the goods carried, assessed a duty of $500 on each 
wagon, no matter what its size or its contents. 

Of Chihuahua as it was in those days Ruxton writes 
with enthusiasm: "In the sierras and mountains," he 
says, "are found two species of bears — the common 
black, or American bear, and the grizly bear of the 
Rocky Mountains. The last are the most numerous, 
and are abundant in the sierras, in the neighbourhood 
of Chihuahua. The carnero cimarron — the big-horn or 
Rocky Mountain sheep — is also common on the Cordil- 
lera. Elk, black-tailed deer, cola-prieta (a large species 
of the fallow deer), the common red deer of America, 
and antelope, abound on all the plains and sierras. Of 
smaller game, peccaries (javali), also called cojamete, 
hares, and rabbits are everywhere numerous; and 
beavers are still found in the Gila, the Pecos, the Del 
Norte, and their tributary streams. Of birds — the 
faisan, commonly called paisano, a species of pheasant: 

204 Beyond the Old Frontier 

the quail, or rather a bird between a quail and a par- 
tridge, is abundant; while every variety of snipe and 
plover is found on the plains, not forgetting the gruya, 
of the crane kind, whose meat is excellent. There are 
also two varieties of wolf — the white, or mountain 
wolf; and the coyote, or small wolf of the plains, whose 
long-continued and melancholy howl is an invariable 
adjunct to a Mexican night encampment." 

At the time that the author passed through Chihua- 
hua that province was in a state of more or less excite- 
ment, expecting the advance of the "Americanos" from 
New Mexico, which province had been occupied by the 
United States forces (Santa Fe having been entered 
Aug. 1 8, 1846, by Gen. S. W. Kearny), and following 
the troops was a caravan of 200 traders' wagons bound 
for Chihuahua. Ruxton was travelling northward, di- 
rectly toward the American troops, and bore despatches 
for the American commander; he was therefore treated 
with extreme courtesy in Chihuahua and went on his 
way. He has something to say about the Mexican 
troops stationed here at Chihuahua, whom Colonel 
Doniphan, two or three months later, with 900 volun- 
teers, defeated with a loss of 300 killed and as many 
wounded, capturing the city of Chihuahua, and without 
"losing one man in the campaign." As a matter of 
fact, one man was killed on the United States side, 
while the Mexican losses were given as 320 killed, 560 
wounded, and 72 prisoners. 

It was in November that the author bade adieu to 

George Frederick Ruxton 


Chihuahua and set out for Santa Fe. Though the 
country through which he journeyed was infested with 
Indians, yet now and then a Mexican village was 
passed, occupied by people who were poor both in 
pocket and in spirit, and satisfied merely to live. When 
the Rio Grande, which in old times was commonly 
called the Del Norte, was passed, Ruxton was in what 
is now the United States. It was then Mexican terri- 
tory, however, and at El Paso there were Mexican 
troops, and also a few American prisoners. From here, 
for some distance northward, Indian "sign" was con- 
stantly seen, chiefly of Apaches, who made it their 
business and their pleasure to ravage the region. 

On the Rio Grande, a few days' journey beyond EI 
Paso, a surveying party under the command of Lieu- 
tenant Abert, of the United States Engineers, was 
met with, and near him was camped a great part of the 
traders' caravan which was on its way to Chihuahua. 
The scene here must have been one of interest. The 
wagons were corralled, making a fort, from which 
Indians or Mexicans could be defied, and the large and 
wild-looking Missourians formed a striking contrast 
to the tiny Mexicans, with whom the author had so 
long been mingling. The American troops in this and 
neighboring camps were volunteers, each one of whom 
thought himself quite as good as his commanding 
officers, and anything like discipline was unknown. 
Ruxton was greatly impressed by this, and commented 
freely on it, declaring that — "the American can never 

2o6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

be made a soldier; his constitution will not bear the 
restraint of discipline; neither will his very mistaken 
notions about liberty allow him to subject himself to 
its necessary control." 

No doubt the troops which conquered Mexico were 
a good deal of a mob, and won their victories in a great 
measure by the force of individual courage, and through 
the timidity and still greater lack of organization of 
the troops opposed to them. On the other hand, 
Ruxton seems to have felt much admiration for the 
officers in command of the regular army. He speaks of 
West Point, and declares that the military education 
received there is one "by which they acquire a practical 
as well as theoretical knowledge of the science of war'*; 
and that, *'as a class, they are probably more distin- 
guished for military knowledge than the officers of any 
European army; uniting with this a high chivalrous 
feeling and a most conspicuous gallantry, they have all 
the essentials of the officer and soldier." 

Ruxton spent some time hunting about this camp. 
One day he had a shot at a large panther which he did 
not kill, and later he found a turkey-roost. After a 
short delay here he started northward again. One of 
his servants had deserted him some time before, and 
now he sent the other back to Mexico because he was 
already suffering from the severity of the climate. The 
author's animals had now been travelling so long 
together that they required little or no attention in 
driving. Of course the operation of packing for a single 

George Frederick Ruxton 207 

man was slow and difficult. Continuing northward, he 
reached Santa Fe, where, however, he did not stop long. 
It was now winter, and the weather cold and 
snowy, but the intrepid traveller had no notion of wait- 
ing for more genial days. He has much to say about 
the Indians in the neighborhood, and especially of the 
Pueblos, whose stone villages and peculiar methods of 
life greatly interested him. He found the Mexicans of 
New Mexico no more attractive than those with whom 
he had had to do farther to the southward, but seems 
to have felt a certain respect, if not admiration, for 
the Canadian and American trappers who had married 
among these people. Some of these men advised him 
strongly against making the effort to reach Fort Leav- 
enworth at this season of the year, but he kept on. 
The journey was difficult, however. His animals, na- 
tives of the low country and of the tropics, were unused 
to mountain travel; each frozen stream that they came 
to was a cause of delay. The work of getting them on 
was very laborious, and every two or three days Ruxton 
froze his hands. He was now approaching the country 
of the Utes, who at that time were constantly raiding 
the settlements of northern New Mexico, killing the 
Mexicans and taking their horses. His purpose was to 
strike the Arkansas River near its head waters, and to 
reach the Bayou Salado, an old rendezvous for trappers 
and a great game country. The cold of the mountain 
country grew more and more bitter, and the constant 
winds made it almost impossible for the men to keep 

2o8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

from freezing. Indeed, sometimes the cold was so 
severe that Ruxton found it necessary to put blankets 
on his animals to keep them from perishing. For days 
at a time snow, wind, and cold were so severe that it 
was impossible to shoot game, as he could not bend 
his stiffened fingers without a long preliminary effort. 

During a part of his journey from Red River north 
he had been constantly followed by a large gray wolf, 
which evidently kept with him for the remains of the 
animals killed, and for bits of food left around camp. 

At length the Huerfano River was passed and a little 
later the Greenhorn, where there was a camp of one 
white trapper and two or three French Canadians. A 
few days later the Arkansas was reached, and then the 
trading-post known as the Pueblo. Here Ruxton 
became a guest of John Hawkins, a well-known moun- 
taineer of the time, and here he spent the remainder of 
the winter hunting on the Fontaine-qui-bouille and in 
the Bayou Salado. 

Ruxton had many hunting adventures, and some 
narrow escapes from Indian fighting. Much of what 
he writes of this period has to do with the animals of 
the region, for at that time the country swarmed with 
game. The rapidity with which wolves will devour an 
animal is well known to those familiar with the olden 
time, but not to the people of to-day. 

"The sagacity of wolves is almost incredible. They 
will remain around a hunting camp and follow the 
hunters the whole day, in bands of three and four, at 

George Frederick Ruxton 209 

less than a hundred yards distance, stopping when 
they stop, and sitting down quietly when game is 
killed, rushing to devour the ofFal when the hunter 
retires, and then following until another feed is offered 
them. If a deer or antelope is wounded, they immedi- 
ately pursue it, and not unfrequently pull the animal 
down in time for the hunter to come up and secure it 
from their ravenous clutches. However, they appear 
to know at once the nature of the wound, for if but 
slightly touched, they never exert themselves to follow 
a deer, chasing those only which have received a mor- 
tal blow. 

"I one day killed an old buck which was so poor 
that I left the carcase on the ground untouched. Six 
coyotes, or small prairie wolves, were my attendants 
that day, and of course, before I had left the deer twenty 
paces, had commenced their work of destruction. Cer- 
tainly not ten minutes after, I looked back and saw 
the same six loping after me, one of them not twenty 
yards behind me, with his nose and face all besmeared 
with blood and his belly swelled almost to bursting. 
Thinking it scarcely possible that they could have 
devoured the whole deer in so short a space, I had the 
curiosity to return, and, to my astonishment, found 
actually nothing left but a pile of bones and hair, the 
flesh being stripped from them as clean as if scraped 
with a knife. Half an hour after I killed a large black- 
tail deer, and as it was also in miserable condition, I 
took merely the fleeces (as the meat on the back and 

2IO Beyond the Old Frontier 

ribs is called), leaving four-fifths of the animal un- 
touched. I then retired a short distance, and, sitting 
down on a rock, lighted my pipe, and watched the oper- 
ations of the wolves. They sat perfectly still until I 
had withdrawn some three-score yards, when they scam- 
pered, with a flourish of their tails, straight to the 
deer. Then commenced such a tugging and snarling 
and biting, all squeaking and swallowing at the same 
moment. A skirmish of tails and flying hair was seen 
for five minutes, when the last of them, with slouching 
tail and evidently ashamed of himself, withdrew, and 
nothing remained on the ground but a well-picked 
skeleton. By sunset, when I returned to camp, they 
had swallowed as much as three entire deer." 

Although Ruxton was no longer travelling, he was 
not yet free from danger from storms, and an extraor- 
dinary night passed in a snow-storm followed the loss of 
his animals on a hunting trip. Horses and mules had 
disappeared one morning, and he and his companion 
had set out to find them. This they did, and when they 
overtook the animals, shortly after noon, he says: "I 
found them quietly feeding . . . and they suffered me to 
catch them without difficulty. As we were now within 
twenty miles of the fort, Morgan (his companion), who 
had had enough of it, determined to return, and I 
agreed to go back with the animals to the cache, and 
bring in the meat and packs. I accordingly tied the 
blanket on a mule's back, and, leading the horse, trotted 
back at once to the grove of cottonwoods where we 

George Frederick Ruxton 211 

had before encamped. The sky had been gradually 
overcast with leaden-coloured clouds, until, when near 
sunset, it was one huge inky mass of rolling darkness: 
the wind had suddenly lulled, and an unnatural calm, 
which so surely heralds a storm in these tempestuous 
regions, succeeded. The ravens were winging their 
way toward the shelter of the timber, and the coyote 
was seen trotting quickly to cover, conscious of the 
coming storm. 

**The black threatening clouds seemed gradually to 
descend until they kissed the earth, and already the 
distant mountains were hidden to their very bases. A 
hollow murmuring swept through the bottom, but as 
yet not a branch was stirred by wind; and the huge 
cottonwoods, with their leafless limbs, loomed like a 
line of ghosts through the heavy gloom. Knowing but 
too well what was coming, I turned my animals toward 
the timber, which was about two miles distant. With 
pointed ears, and actually trembling with fright, they 
were as eager as myself to reach the shelter; but, 
before we had proceeded a third of the distance, with 
a deafening roar, the tempest broke upon us. The 
clouds opened and drove right in our faces a storm of 
freezing sleet, which froze upon us as it fell. The first 
squall of wind carried away my cap, and the enormous 
hailstones beating on my unprotected head and face, 
almost stunned me. In an instant my hunting shirt 
was soaked, and as instantly frozen hard; and my horse 
was a mass of icicles. Jumping oflT my mule — for to 

212 Beyond the Old Frontier 

ride was impossible — I tore off the saddle blanket and 
covered my head. The animals, bUnded with the 
sleet, and their eyes actually coated with ice, turned 
their sterns to the storm, and, blown before it, made 
for the open prairie. All my exertions to drive them 
to the shelter of the timber were useless. It was impos- 
sible to face the hurricane, which now brought with it 
clouds of driving snow; and perfect darkness soon set 
in. Still, the animals kept on, and I determined not to 
leave them, following, or, rather, being blown, after 
them. My blanket, frozen stiff Hke a board, required 
all the strength of my numbed fingers to prevent its 
being blown away, and although it was no protection 
against the intense cold, I knew it would in some degree 
shelter me at night from the snow. In half an hour the 
ground was covered on the bare prairie to the depth of 
two feet, and through this I floundered for a long time 
before the animals stopped. The prairie was as bare 
as a lake; but one Httle tuft of greasewood bushes 
presented itself, and here, turning from the storm, they 
suddenly stopped and remained perfectly still. In vain 
I again attempted to turn them toward the direction 
of the timber; huddled together, they would not move 
an inch; and, exhausted myself, and seeing nothing 
before me but, as I thought, certain death, I sank down 
immediately behind them, and, covering my head with 
the blanket, crouched like a ball in the snow. I would 
have started myself for the timber, but it was pitchy 
dark, the wind drove clouds of frozen snow into my 

George Frederick Ruxton 213 

face, and the animals had so turned about in the 
prairie that it was impossible to know the direction to 
take; and although I had a compass with me, my hands 
were so frozen that I was perfectly unable, after 
repeated attempts, to unscrew the box and consult it. 
Even had I reached the timber, my situation would 
have been scarcely improved, for the trees were scat- 
tered wide about over a narrow space, and, consequently, 
afforded but Httle shelter; and if even I had succeeded 
in getting firewood — by no means an easy matter at 
any time, and still more difficult now that the ground 
was covered with three feet of snow — I was utterly 
unable to use my flint and steel to procure a light, since 
my fingers were like pieces of stone, and entirely with- 
out feeling. 

"The way the wind roared over the prairie that night 
— how the snow drove before it, covering me and 
the poor animals partly — and how I lay there, feeling 
the very blood freezing in my veins, and my bones pet- 
rifying with the icy blasts which seemed to penetrate 
them — how for hours I remained with my head on my 
knees and the snow pressing it down like a weight of 
lead, expecting every instant to drop into a sleep from 
which I knew it was impossible I should ever awake — 
how every now and then the mules would groan aloud 
and fall down upon the snow, and then again struggle 
on their legs — how all night long the piercing howl of 
wolves was borne upon the wind, which never for 
an instant abated its violence during the night,— I would 


214 Beyond the Old Frontier 

not attempt to describe. I have passed many nights 
alone in the wilderness and in a solitary camp — have 
listened to the roarings of the wind and the howling of 
wolves, and felt the rain or snow beating upon me with 
perfect unconcern: but this night threw all my former 
experiences into the shade, and is marked with the 
blackest of stones in the' memoranda of my journeyings. 

**Once, late in the night, by keeping my hands buried 
in the breast of my hunting shirt, I succeeded in restor- 
ing sufficient feeling into them to enable me to strike 
a Ught. Luckily my pipe, which was made out of a 
huge piece of cottonwood bark, and capable of con- 
taining at least twelve ordinary pipefuls, was filled with 
tobacco to the brim; and this I do believe kept me 
alive during the night, for I smoked and smoked until 
the pipe itself caught fire and burned completely to 
the stem. 

"I was just sinking into a dreamy stupor, when the 
mules began to shake themselves and sneeze and snort; 
which haihng as a good sign, and that they were still 
alive, I attempted to Hft my head and take a view of 
the weather. When with great difficulty I raised my 
head, all appeared dark as pitch, and it did not at first 
occur to me that I was buried deep in snow; but when 
I thrust my arm above me, a hole was thus made, 
through which I saw the stars shining in the sky and 
the clouds fast clearing away. Making a sudden at- 
tempt to straighten my almost petrified back and 
limbs, I rose, but, unable to stand, fell forward in 

George Frederick Ruxton 215 

the snow, frightening the animals, which immediately 
started away. When I gained my legs I found that 
day was just breaking, a long gray line of light appear- 
ing over the belt of timber on the creek, and the clouds 
gradually rising from the east, and allowing the stars to 
peep from patches of blue sky. Following the animals 
as soon as I gained the use of my limbs, and taking a 
last look at the perfect cave from which I had just 
risen, I found them in the timber, and, singularly 
enough, under the very tree where we had cached our 
meat. However, I was unable to ascend the tree in my 
present state, and my frost-bitten fingers refused to 
perform their offices; so that I jumped upon my horse, 
and, followed by the mules, galloped back to the Ar- 
kansa, which I reached in the evening, half dead with 
hunger and cold. 

"The hunters had given me up for lost, as such a 
night even the 'oldest inhabitant' had never witnessed. 
My late companion had reached the Arkansa, and was 
safely housed before it broke, blessing his lucky stars 
that he had not gone back with me." 

It was at this time that the news of the Pueblo In- 
dian rising in the valley of Taos was received and that 
Governor Charles Bent and other white men had been 

At this time the fur of the beaver had been supplanted 
by other and cheaper materials, so that beaver fur, 
which formeriy brought eight dollars a pound, now 
brought but one dollar. For this reason many, if not 

2i6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

most, of the trappers had for the time being ceased 
their work, and had settled down on farms in the moun- 
tains, where, though professing to farm, they raised 
little from the ground except corn, but subsisted almost 
entirely on the game, which was enormously abun- 
dant. The author has much to say about the trappers 
and their ways of life, and this is one of the spirited 
pictures of the craft that he paints: 

"On starting for a hunt, the trapper fits himself out 
with the necessary equipment, either from the Indian 
trading-forts, or from some of the petty traders — 
coureurs des bois — ^who frequent the western country. 
This equipment consists usually of two or three horses 
or mules — one for saddle, the others for packs — and 
six traps, which are carried in a bag of leather called 
a trap-sack. Ammunition, a few pounds of tobacco, 
dressed deer-skins for moccasins, &c., are carried in a 
wallet of dressed buffalo-skin, called a possible-sack. 
His 'possibles' and * trap-sack' are generally carried on 
the saddle-mule when hunting, the others being packed 
with the furs. The costume of the trapper is a hunting- 
shirt of dressed buckskin, ornamented with long fringes; 
pantaloons of the same material, and decorated with 
porcupine-quills and long fringes down the outside of 
the leg. A flexible felt hat and moccasins clothe his 
extremities. Over his left shoulder and under his right 
arm hang his powder-horn and bullet-pouch, in which 
he carries his balls, flint and steel, and odds and ends of 
all kinds. Round the waist is a belt, in which is stuck 

George Frederick Ruxton 217 

a large butcher-knife in a sheath of buiFalo-hide, made 
fast to the belt by a chain or guard of steel; which 
also supports a Httle buckskin case containing a whet- 
stone. A tomahawk is also often added; and, of course, 
a long heavy rifle is part and parcel of his equipment. 
I had nearly forgotten the pipe-holder, which hangs 
round his neck, and is generally a gage d'amour, and a 
triumph of squaw workmanship, in shape of a heart, 
garnished with beads and porcupine-quills. 

"Thus provided, and having determined the locality 
of his trapping-ground, he starts to the mountains, 
sometimes alone, sometimes with three or four in com- 
pany, as soon as the breaking up of the ice allows him 
to commence operations. Arrived on his hunting- 
grounds, he follows the creeks and streams, keeping a 
sharp look-out for 'sign.' 

** During the hunt, regardless of Indian vicinity, the 
fearless trapper wanders far and near in search of 
'sign.* His nerves must ever be in a state of tension, 
and his mind ever present at his call. His eagle eye 
sweeps round the country, and in an instant detects 
any foreign appearance. A turned leaf, a blade of 
grass pressed down, the uneasiness of the wild animals, 
the flight of birds, are all paragraphs to him written in 
nature's legible hand and plainest language. All the 
wits of the subtle savage are called into play to gain 
an advantage over the wily woodsman; but with the 
natural instinct of primitive man, the white hunter 
has the advantages of a civilized mind, and, thus pro- 

21 8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

vided, seldom fails to outwit, under equal advantages, 
the cunning savage. 

"Sometimes, following on his trail, the Indian 
watches him set his traps on a shrub-belted stream, 
and, passing up the bed, like Bruce of old, so that he 
may leave no tracks, he Hes in wait in the bushes until 
the hunter comes to examine his carefully-set traps. 
Then, waiting until he approaches his ambushment 
within a few feet, whiz flies the home-drawn arrow, 
never failing at such close quarters to bring the victim 
to the ground. For one white scalp, however, that 
dangles in the smoke of an Indian's lodge, a dozen 
black ones, at the end of the hunt, ornament the camp- 
fires of the rendezvous. 

"At a certain time, when the hunt is over, or they 
have loaded their pack-animals, the trappers proceed 
to the 'rendezvous,' the locality of which has been 
previously agreed upon; and here the traders and 
agents of the fur companies await them, with such 
assortment of goods as their hardy customers may 
require, including generally a fair supply of alcohol. 
The trappers drop in singly and in small bands, bring- 
ing their packs of beaver to this mountain market, not 
unfrequently to the value of a thousand dollars each, 
the produce of one hunt. The dissipation of the 'ren- 
dezvous,' however, soon turns the trapper's pocket in- 
side out. The goods brought by the traders, although 
of the most inferior quality, are sold at enormous 
prices: — Coffee, twenty and thirty shillings a pint-cup, 

George Frederick Ruxton 


which is the usual measure; tobacco fetches ten and 
fifteen shillings a plug; alcohol, from twenty to fifty 
shillings a pint; gunpowder, sixteen shillings a pint- 
cup; and all other articles at proportionately exorbitant 

"A trapper often squanders the produce of his hunt, 
amounting to hundreds of dollars, in a couple of hours; 
and, supplied on credit with another equipment, leaves 
the rendezvous for another expedition, which has the 
same result time after time; although one tolerably 
successful hunt would enable him to return to the 
settlements and civilized life, with an ample sum to 
purchase and stock a farm, and enjoy himself in ease 
and comfort the remainder of his days. 

"An old trapper, a French Canadian, assured me 
that he had received fifteen thousand dollars for beaver 
during a sojourn of twenty years in the mountains. 
Every year he resolved in his mind to return to Can- 
ada and, with this object, always converted his fur 
into cash; but a fortnight at the 'rendezvous' always 
cleaned him out, and, at the end of twenty years, he 
had not even credit sufficient to buy a pound of powder. 

"These annual gatherings are often the scene of 
bloody duels, for over their cups and cards no men are 
more quarrelsome than your mountaineers. Rifles, at 
twenty paces, settle all differences, and, as may be 
imagined, the fall of one or other of the combatants 
is certain, or, as sometimes happens, both fall to the 
word 'fire/ " 

220 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Ruxton made many solitary hunting trips away from 
the fort — Pueblo — and of one of these, to the head of 
the Fontaine-qui-bouille, he paints a pleasing picture: 

"Never was there such a paradise for hunters as 
this lone and solitary spot. The shelving prairie, at the 
bottom of which the springs are situated, is entirely 
surrounded by rugged mountains, and, containing per- 
haps two or three acres of excellent grass, affords a 
safe pasture to their animals, which would hardly care 
to wander from such feeding, and the salitrose rocks 
they love so well to lick. Immediately overhead. Pike's 
Peak, at an elevation of 12,000 feet above the level of 
the sea, towers high into the clouds; whilst from the 
fountain, like a granitic amphitheatre, ridge after ridge, 
clothed with pine and cedar, rises and meets the stu- 
pendous mass of mountains, well called ' Rocky,' which 
stretches far away north and southward, their gigantic 
peaks being visible above the strata of clouds which 
hide their rugged bases. 

"This first day the sun shone out bright and warm, 
and not a breath of wind ruffled the evergreen foliage 
of the cedar groves. Gay-plumaged birds were twitter- 
ing in the shrubs, and ravens and magpies were chatter- 
ing overhead, attracted by the meat I had hung upon 
a tree; the mules, having quickly filled themselves, 
were lying round the spring, basking lazily in the sun; 
and myself, seated on a pack, and pipe in mouth, with 
rifle ready at my side, indolently enjoyed the rays, 
which reverberated (sic) from the white rock on which 

George Frederick Ruxton 221 

I was lying, were deliciously warm and soothing. A 
piece of rock, detached from the mountainside and 
tumbling noisily down, caused me to look up in the 
direction whence it came. Half a dozen big-horns, or 
Rocky Mountain sheep, perched on the pinnacle of a 
rock, were gazing wonderingly upon the prairie, where 
the mules were rolling enveloped in clouds of dust. 
The enormous horns of the mountain sheep appeared 
so disproportionably heavy, that I every moment ex- 
pected to see them lose their balance and topple over 
the giddy height. My motions frightened them, and, 
jumping from rock to rock, they quickly disappeared 
up the steepest part of the mountain. At the same mo- 
ment a herd of blacktail deer crossed the corner of the 
glade within rifle shot of me, but, fearing the vicinity 
of Indians, I refrained from firing before I had recon- 
noitred the vicinity for signs of their recent presence. 

"Immediately over me, on the left bank of the stream, 
and high above the springs, was a small plateau, one of 
many which are seen on the mountainsides. Three 
buffalo bulls were here quietly feeding, and remained 
the whole afternoon undisturbed. I saw from the sign 
that they had very recently drunk at the springs, and 
that the Httle prairie where my animals were feeding 
was a frequent resort of solitary bulls." 

A mountain hunter rather than one of the plains, 
Ruxton nevertheless devotes some space to buiFalo 
hunting. He points out what has so often been writ- 
ten of since his time, that the buffalo was hard to kill. 

222 Beyond the Old Frontier 

not because it had so much vitality, but because the 
inexperienced hunter so seldom shot it in the right 
place. Thus he says: 

"No animal requires so much kilhng as a buffalo. 
Unless shot through the lungs or spine, they invariably 
escape; and, even when thus mortally wounded, or 
even struck through the very heart, they will fre- 
quently run a considerable distance before falling to 
the ground, particularly if they see the hunter after 
the wound is given. If, however, he keeps himself 
concealed after firing, the animal will remain still, if it 
does not immediately fall. It is a most painful sight 
to witness the dying struggles of the huge beast. The 
buffalo invariably evinces the greatest repugnance to 
lie down when mortally wounded, apparently conscious 
that, when once touching mother earth, there is no 
hope left him. A bull, shot through the heart or lungs, 
with blood streaming from his mouth, and protruding 
tongue, his eyes rolling, bloodshot, and glazed with 
death, braces himself on his legs, swaying from side 
to side, stamps impatiently at his growing weakness, 
or lifts his rugged and matted head and helplessly bel- 
lows out his conscious impotence. To the last, how- 
ever, he endeavours to stand upright, and plants his 
Hmbs farther apart, but to no purpose. As the body 
rolls Hke a ship at sea, his head slowly turns from side 
to side, looking about, as it were, for the unseen and 
treacherous enemy who has brought him, the lord of 
the plains, to such a pass. Gouts of purple blood spurt 

George Frederick Ruxton 223 

from his mouth and nostrils, and gradually the failing 
limbs refuse longer to support the ponderous carcase; 
more heavily rolls the body from side to side, until 
suddenly, for a brief instant, it becomes rigid and still; 
a convulsive tremor seizes it, and, with a low, sobbing 
gasp, the huge animal falls over on his side, the limbs 
extended stark and stiff, and the mountain of flesh 
without life or motion. 

"The first attempts of a 'greenhorn* to kill a buffalo 
are invariably unsuccessful. He sees before him a 
mass of flesh, nearly five feet in depth from the top of 
the hump to the brisket, and consequently imagines 
that, by planting his ball midway between these points, 
it must surely reach the vitals. Nothing, however, is 
more erroneous than the impression; for to 'throw a 
buffalo in his tracks,' which is the phrase of making a 
clean shot, he must be struck but a few inches above 
the brisket, behind the shoulder, where alone, unless 
the spine be divided, a death-shot will reach the vitals. 
I once shot a bull, the ball passing directly through the 
very centre of the heart and tearing a hole sufficiently 
large to insert the finger, which ran upwards of half a 
mile before it fell, and yet the ball had passed com- 
pletely through the animal, cutting its heart almost in 
two. I also saw eighteen shots, the half of them mus- 
kets, dehberately fired into an old bull, at six paces, 
and some of them passing through the body, the poor 
animal standing the whole time, and making feeble at- 
tempts to charge. The nineteenth shot, with the 

224 Beyond the Old Frontier 

muzzle touching his body, brought him to the ground. 
The head of the buffalo-bull is so thickly covered with 
coarse matted hair, that a ball fired at half a dozen 
paces will not penetrate the skull through the shaggy 
frontlock. I have frequently attempted this with a 
rifle carrying twenty-five balls to the pound, but never 
once succeeded. 

''Notwithstanding the great and wanton destruction 
of the buffalo, many years must elapse before this lordly 
animal becomes extinct. In spite of their numerous 
enemies, they still exist in countless numbers, and, 
could any steps be taken to protect them, as is done in 
respect of other game, they would ever remain the life 
and ornament of the boundless prairies, and afford 
ample and never-failing provision to the travelers over 
these otherwise desert plains. Some idea of the pro- 
digious slaughter of these animals may be formed, by 
mentioning the fact that upwards of one hundred thou- 
sand buffalo robes find their way annually into the 
United States and Canada; and these are the skins of 
cows alone, the bull's hide being so thick that it is 
never dressed. Besides this, the Indians kill a certain 
number for their own use, exclusive of those whose 
meat they require; and the reckless slaughter of buffalo 
by parties of white men, emigrants to the Columbia, 
CaUfornia, and elsewhere, leaving, as they proceed on 
their journey, thousands of untouched carcases on the 
trail, swells the aggregate of this wholesale destruction 
to an enormous amount." 

George Frederick Ruxton 225 

The keen scent of the buffalo and its apparent poor 
sight were noticed by Ruxton, as they have been by 
so many others. What is perhaps not generally known, 
because it has been forgotten, is that when running, 
the buffalo commonly swings its head from one side 
to the other, apparently in the effort to see what is 
going on on either side and perhaps, to some extent, 
behind it. Other characteristics — its harmlessness, 
and its occasional unconcern in the presence of danger 
— are also shown here. 

"There are two methods of hunting buffalo — one on 
horseback, by chasing them at full speed, and shooting 
when alongside; the other by 'still hunting,' that is, 
'approaching,' or stalking, by taking advantage of the 
wind and any cover the ground affords, and crawling 
to within distance of the feeding herd. The latter 
method exhibits in a higher degree the qualities of the 
hunter, the former those of the horseman. The buf- 
falo's head is so thickly thatched with long, shaggy hair 
that the animal is almost precluded from seeing an 
object directly in its front; and if the wind be against 
the hunter he can approach, with a little caution, a 
buffalo feeding on a prairie as level and bare as a bil- 
liard-table. Their sense of smelling, however, is so 
acute, that it is impossible to get within shot when to 
windward, as, at the distance of nearly half a mile, the 
animal will be seen to snuff the tainted air, and quickly 
satisfy himself of the vicinity of danger. At any other 
than the season of gallantry, when the males are, like 

226 Beyond the Old Frontier 

all other animals, disposed to be pugnacious, the buf- 
falo is a quiet, harmless animal, and will never attack 
unless goaded to madness by wounds, or, if a cow, in 
sometimes defending its calf when pursued by a horse- 
man; but even then it is seldom that they make any 
strong effort to protect their young. 

"When gorged with water, after a long fast, they be- 
come so lethargic that they sometimes are too careless 
to run and avoid danger. One evening, just before 
camping, I was, as usual, in advance of the train, when 
I saw three bulls come out of the river and walk lei- 
surely across the trail, stopping occasionally, and one, 
more indolent than the rest, lying down whenever the 
others halted. Being on my hunting-mule, I rode 
slowly after them, the lazy one stopping behind the 
others, and allowing me to ride within a dozen paces, 
when he would slowly follow the rest. Wishing to see 
how near I could get, I dismounted, and, rifle in hand, 
approached the bull, who at last stopped short, and 
never even looked round, so that I walked up to the 
animal and placed my hand on his quarter. Taking 
no notice of me, the huge beast lay down, and while on 
the ground I shot him dead. On butchering the car- 
case I found the stomach so greatly distended, that 
another pint would have burst it. In other respects 
the animal was perfectly healthy and in good condi- 

Ruxton was not only an earnest hunter and a hardy 
traveller, but he was also a keen observer, and living 

George Frederick Ruxton 


as he did for long periods in the open air and among 
the wild animals, he saw many curious things. 

"The first mountain-sheep I killed, I got within shot 
of in rather a curious manner. I had undertaken sev- 
eral unsuccessful hunts for the purpose of procuring 
a pair of horns of this animal, as well as some skins, 
which are of excellent quality when dressed, but had 
almost given up any hope of approaching them, when 
one day, having killed and butchered a black-tail deer 
in the mountains, I sat down with my back to a small 
rock and fell asleep. On awaking, feeling inclined for 
a smoke, I drew from my pouch a pipe, and flint and 
steel, and began leisurely to cut a charge of tobacco. 
Whilst thus engaged I became sensible of a peculiar 
odour which was wafted right into my face by the 
breeze, and which, on snuflSng it once or twice, I imme- 
diately recognized as that which emanates from sheep 
and goats. Still I never thought that one of the former 
animals could be in the neighbourhood, for my mule 
was picketed on the little plateau where I sat, and was 
leisurely cropping the bufFalo-grass which thickly cov- 
ered it. 

"Looking up carelessly from my work, as a whifF 
stronger than before reached my nose, what was my 
astonishment at seeing five mountain-sheep within ten 
paces, and regarding me with a curious and astonished 
gaze! Without drawing a breath, I put out my hand 
and grasped the rifle, which was lying within reach; 
but the motion, slight as it was, sufficed to alarm them, 

228 Beyond the Old Frontier 

and with a loud bleat the old ram bounded up the 
mountain, followed by the band, and at so rapid a pace 
that all my attempts to * draw a bead ' upon them were 
ineffectual. When, however, they reached a little 
plateau about one hundred and fifty yards from where 
I stood, they suddenly stopped, and, approaching the 
edge, looked down at me, shaking their heads, and 
bleating their displeasure at the intrusion. No sooner 
did I see them stop than my rifle was at my shoulder, 
and covering the broadside of the one nearest to me. 
An instant after and I pulled the trigger, and at the 
report the sheep jumped convulsively from the rock, 
and made one attempt to follow its flying companions; 
but its strength failed, and, circling round once or 
twice at the edge of the plateau, it fell over on its side, 
and, rolling down the steep rock, tumbled dead very 
near me. My prize proved a very fine young male, 
but had not a large pair of horns. It was, however, 
'seal' fat, and afforded me a choice supply of meat, 
which was certainly the best I had eaten in the moun- 
tains, being fat and juicy, and in flavour somewhat par- 
taking both of the domestic sheep and buffalo." 

Among other notes about this species Ruxton speaks 
of several attempts that had been made to secure the 
young of mountain sheep and transport them to the 
States. None of these, however, had been successful. 
Old Bill WilHams even took with him into the moun- 
tains a troop of milch goats, by which to bring up the 
young sheep, but, though capturing a number of lambs. 

George Frederick Ruxton 229 

he did not succeed in reaching the frontier with a 
single one. 

He reports also the superstition of the Canadian 
trappers concerning the carcajou, which we know as 
the wolverene, and tells of a reported battle which an 
old Canadian trapper said that he had had with one 
of these animals, and which lasted upward of two 
hours, during which he fired a pouchful of balls into 
the animal's body, which spat them out as fast as they 
were shot in. Two days later, in company with the 
same man, the author, in looking over a ridge, saw a 
wolverene, and shot at it, as it was running off, without 
effect. For this he was derided by the Canadian, who 
declared that if he had shot fifty balls at the carcajou 
it would not have cared at all. 

One night, when camped on the Platte, the author 
woke up, and looking out of his blanket, saw sitting 
before the fire a huge gray wolf, his eyes closed and 
his head nodding in sheer drowsiness. 

The last day of April, Ruxton set out to cross the 
plains for Fort Leavenworth, intending to return to 
England. Soon afterward they reached Bent's Fort, 
and a Httle later were joined by a number of Fremont's 
men, and by Kit Carson, who were returning from 
California. They passed a Cheyenne camp, and before 
very long were well out on the plains and in the buflFalo 
country. Concerning the abundance of these animals 
Ruxton tells the same extraordinary stories that all 
old-timers relate. He hunted buffalo both by "ap- 

230 Beyond the Old Frontier 

proaching" and by running; and tried many experi- 
ments with these great beasts. One night the camp 
was almost run down by a vast herd of buffalo, but all 
hands being aroused, they managed, by firing their 
guns and making all the noise they could, to spht the 
herd, so that the two branches passed around them. 

At length the party approached Council Grove, and 
the more humid country, where the eastern timber 
was found, which, to Ruxton and to the Missourians 
of the party, looked like old friends. 

Ruxton was a true outdoor man, loving the wilder- 
ness for itself alone, accepting whatever of toil, expo- 
sure, or hardship might come to him, feeling amply 
repaid for these annoyances by the joy of independ- 
ence, of the beauties that surrounded him, and of the 
absolute physical well-being which was a part of this 

The days when an existence such as is pictured in 
his accounts of the Rocky Mountains could be enjoyed 
are long past, yet there are still living some men who 
can absolutely sympathize with the feeling expressed 
in the following paragraphs: 

/'Apart from the feeHng of loneliness which any one 
in my situation must naturally have experienced, sur- 
rounded by stupendous works of nature, which in all 
their solitary grandeur frowned upon me, and sinking 
into utter insignificance the miserable mortal who 
crept beneath their shadow; still there was something 
inexpressibly exhilarating in the sensation of positive 

George Frederick Ruxton 231 

freedom from all worldly care, and a consequent ex- 
pansion of the sinews, as it were, of mind and body, 
which made me feel elastic as a ball of Indian rubber, 
and in a state of such perfect insouciance that no more 
dread of scalping Indians entered my mind than if I 
had been sitting in Broadway, in one of the windows of 
Astor House. A citizen of the world, I never found 
any difficulty in investing my resting-place, wherever 
it might be, with all the attributes of a home; and hailed, 
with delight equal to that which the artificial comforts 
of a civilized home would have caused, the, to me, do- 
mestic appearance of my hobbled animals, as they 
grazed around the camp, when I returned after a hard 
day's hunt. By the way, I may here remark, that my 
sporting feeHng underwent a great change when I was 
necessitated to follow and kill game for the support of 
fife, and as a means of subsistence; and the slaughter 
of deer and buffalo no longer became sport when the 
object was to fill the larder, and the excitement of the 
hunt was occasioned by the alternative of a plentiful 
feast or a banyan; and, although ranking underthe head 
of the most red-hot of sportsmen, I can safely acquit 
myself of ever wantonly destroying a deer or buffalo 
unless I was in need of meat; and such consideration 
for the ferae naturae is common to all the mountaineers 
who look to game alone for their support. Although 
liable to an accusation of barbarism, I must confess that 
the very happiest moments of my life have been spent 
in the wilderness of the far West; and I never recall 

232 Beyond the Old Frontier 

but with pleasure the remembrance of my solitary 
camp in the Bayou Salado, with no friend near me 
more faithful than my rifle, and no companions more 
sociable than my good horse and mules, or the attend- 
ant coyote which nightly serenaded us. With a plenti- 
ful supply of dry pine-logs on the fire, and its cheerful 
blaze streaming far up into the sky, illuminating the 
valley far and near, and exhibiting the animals, with 
well-filled bellies, standing contentedly at rest over 
their picket-pins, I would sit cross-legged enjoying the 
genial warmth, and, pipe in mouth, watch the blue 
smoke as it curled upwards, building castles in its va- 
poury wreaths, and, in the fantastic shapes it assumed, 
peopling the solitude with figures of those far away. 
Scarcely, however, did I ever wish to change such hours 
of freedom for all the luxuries of civilized Hfe, and, un- 
natural and extraordinary as it may appear, yet such 
is the fascination of the life of the mountain hunter, 
that I believe not one instance could be adduced of even 
the most poHshed and civilized of men, who had once 
tasted the sweets of its attendant liberty and freedom 
from every worldly care, not regretting the moment 
when he exchanged it for the monotonous life of the 
settlements, nor sighing, and sighing again, once more 
to partake of its pleasures and allurements. 

''Nothing can be more social and cheering than the 
welcome blaze of the camp fire on a cold winter's night, 
and nothing more amusing or entertaining, if not in- 
structive, than the rough conversation of the single- 



George Frederick Ruxton 233 

minded mountaineers, whose simple daily talk is all of 
exciting adventure, since their whole existence is spent 
in scenes of peril and privation; and consequently the 
narration of their every-day life is a tale of thrilling 
accidents and hairbreadth 'scapes, which, though simple 
matter-of-fact to them, appear a startHng romance to 
those who are not acquainted with the nature of the 
lives led by these men, who, with the sky for a roof 
and their rifles to supply them with food and clothing, 
call no man lord or master, and are free as the game 
they follow." 

Some little time was spent at Fort Leavenworth, 
where Ruxton found the change from the free life of 
prairie and mountain very unpleasant. He suffered 
still more when he reached St. Louis, and was obliged 
to assume the confining garb of civilization, and above 
all, to put his feet into shoes. 

Ruxton's journey from St. Louis to New York was 
uneventful, and in July he left for England, which he 
reached in the middle of August, 1847. 

It was after this that he wrote a series of sketches, 
entitled "Life in the Far West," which were afterward 
published in Blackwood's Magazine, and finally in 
book form in England and America. These sketches 
purport to give the adventures of a trapper. La Bonte, 
during fifteen years' wandering in the mountains, and 
set forth trapper and mountain Hfe of the day. They 
show throughout the greatest familiarity with the old- 
time life. The author's effort to imitate the dialect 

234 Beyond the Old Frontier 

spoken by the trappers makes the conversation not 
always easy to read; but they are most interesting as 
faithful pictures of life in the mountains between 1830 
and 1840 — at the end of the days of the beaver. 




ONE of the most charming books written about 
the eariy plains is Lewis H. Garrard's Wah- 
To'Yah and the Taos Trail, It is the narra- 
tive of a boy, only seventeen years old, who, in 1846, 
travelled westward from St. Louis with a train led by 
Mr. St. Vrain, of the firm of Bent, St. Vrain & Co., and 
after some time spent on the plains and in Cheyenne 
camps, proceeded westward to New Mexico and there 
saw and heard of many of the events just antecedent to 
the Mexican War. 

It is an interesting fact that the book, which, in its 
interest and its fidelity to nature and to early times, 
equals the far more celebrated California and Ore- 
gon Trail of Parkman, tells of the events of the same 
year as Parkman's volume, but deals with a country 
to the south of that traversed by him who was to be- 
come one of the greatest historians of America. The 
charm of each volume lies in its freshness. Neither 


238 Beyond the Old Frontier 

could have been written except by one who saw things 
with the enthusiastic eyes of youth, who entered upon 
each adventure with youth's enthusiasm, and who told 
his story with the frankness and simplicity of one who 
was very young. After all, the greatest charm of any 
literature lies in the simplicity with which the story is 
told, and in both these deKghtful volumes is found this 
attractive quaHty. 

Garrard reached St. Louis on his way to the Rocky 
Mountains in July, 1846, and there became acquainted 
with the firm of Pierre Chouteau, Jr., & Co., so well 
known in the fur trade of the West. Here, too, he 
met Kenneth McKenzie, one of the first traders with 
the Blackfeet Indians, and Mr. St. Vrain. 

To the modern reader it seems odd to see it stated 
in the first two lines of the book that a part of the 
necessary preparations for the trip before him was the 
"laying in a good store of caps, fine glazed powder, 
etc.," but in those days the percussion cap was still a 
new thing, and of the guns used west of the Missouri 
River the great majority still used the flint to strike 
fire to the charge. 

Besides Garrard, there were others in St. Vrain's 
company, who were new to the plains. Of these one 
was Drinker, a Cincinnati editor; another, a Mr. Chad- 
wick. Besides these there were General Lee of St. 
Louis, a friend or two of St. Vrain's, and various em- 
ployees of the traders. 

Bent's train was encamped not far from Westport, 

A Boy in Indian Camps 239 

and here Garrard got his first taste of wild Hfe, sleeping 
on the ground in the open. Here, too, he saw his first 
Indians, the Wyandottes, who, in 1843, had been 
moved westward from their homes in Ohio. Here, of 
course, he met those who for months were to be his 
travelling companions, and he paints us a fresh picture 
of them in these pleasing words: 

"There were eighteen or twenty Canadian French- 
men (principally from St. Louis) composing part of 
our company, as drivers of the teams. As I have ever 
been a lover of sweet, simple music, their beautiful 
and piquant songs in the original language fell most 
harmoniously on the ear, as we lay wrapped in our 

"On the first of September, Mr. St. Vrain's arrival 
infused some life into our proceedings, but nothing 
more worthy of note occurred, except riding and look- 
ing at horses, of which Drinker and I were in need; 
one of which, Frank De Lisle, He maitre de wagouy 
sold me for fifty dollars, whom, from his fanciful color, 
brown and white spots, and white eyes, was designated 
by the descriptive though not euphonious name of, 
^ Paint! He was a noted buffalo chaser, and I antici- 
pated much excitement through his services. 

"The way the mules were broken to wagon harness 
would have astonished the 'full-blooded' animals of 
Kentucky and other horse-raising States exceedingly. 
It was a treatment none but hardy Mexican or scrub 
mules could survive. They first had to be lassoed by 

240 Beyond the Old Frontier 

our expert Mexican, Bias, their heads drawn up to a 
wagon wheel, with scarce two inches of spare rope to 
relax the tight noose on their necks, and starved for 
twenty-four hours to subdue their fiery tempers; then 
harnessed to a heavy wagon, lashed unmercifully when 
they did not pull, whipped still harder when they ran 
into still faster speed, until, after an hour's bewilder- 
ment, and plunging and kicking, they became tract- 
able and broken down — a labor-saving operation, with 
the unflinching motto of * kill or cure.' " 

The pulHng out of the train from near Westport was 
an interesting and exciting event. Teamsters were 
shouting to their newly yoked bulls; the herders were 
driving along the caballada; mounted men were hurry- 
ing back and forth; the leader of the company and his 
wagon-master were constantly passing to and fro from 
one end of the train to the other, seeing how things 
went, and looking for weak spots among the teams and 
the wagons. A few days later came the first rain-storm 
— a dismal occasion to the young traveller on the 
plains. There are few old plainsmen but can still 
recall something of the discomfort of a long day's 
travel in the storm; of the camping at night with clo- 
thing thoroughly wet and bodies thoroughly chilled, 
and the sitting or lying, or perhaps even sleeping in the 
wet clothing. "The wagons being full of goods, and we 
without tents, a cheerless, chilling, soaking, wet night 
was the consequence. As the water penetrated, suc- 
cessively, my blanket, coat, and shirt, and made its 

A Boy in Indian Camps 241 

way down my back, a cold shudder came over me; in 
the gray, foggy morning a more pitiable set of hungry, 
shaking wretches were never seen. Oh ! but it was hard 
on the poor greenhorns!" 

At Council Grove, which they reached the last of 
September, the train remained for two days, and as 
this was the last place travelling westward where hard- 
wood could be procured, the men felled hickories and 
oaks for spare axle-trees, and swung the pieces under 
their wagons. Young Garrard was an eager hunter, 
and set out from camp in search of wild turkeys, whose 
cries he could hear, but he got none. 

Here is another picture of that early life which may 
call up in the minds of some readers pleasant memories 
of early days when they, too, were a part of such things : 
"So soon as a faint streak of light appears in the east, 
the cry 'turn out' is given by De Lisle; all rise, and, 
in half an hour, the oxen are yoked, hitched and started. 
For the purpose of bringing everything within a small 
compass, the wagons are corralled; that is, arranged 
in the form of a pen, when camp is made; and as no 
animals in that country are caught without a lasso, they 
are much easier noosed if driven in the corral. There, 
no dependence must be placed in any but one's self; 
and the sooner he rises, when the cry is given, the 
easier can he get his horse. 

"Like all persons on the first trip, I was green in the 
use of the lasso, and Paint was given to all sorts of 
malicious dodging; perhaps I have not worked myself 

242 Beyond the Old Frontier 

into a profuse perspiration with vexation a hundred 
and one times, in vain attempts to trap him. 

"Not being able to catch my horse this morning, I 
hung my saddle on a wagon and walked, talking to the 
loquacious Canadians, whose songs and stories were 
most acceptable. They are a queer mixture, anyhow, 
these Canadians; rain or shine, hungry or satisfied, 
they are the same garrulous, careless fellows; generally 
caroHng in honor of some brunette Vide Poche, or St. 
Louis Creole beauty, or lauding, in the words of their 
ancestry, the soft skies and grateful wine of La Belle 
France, occasionally uttering a sacrey or enfant de garce, 
but suffering no cloud of ill humor to overshadow them 
but for a moment. While walking with a languid step, 
cheering up their slow oxen, a song would burst out 
from one end of the train to the other, producing a 
most charming effect." 

The train was now approaching the buffalo range, 
and before long several buffalo were seen. Now, too, 
they had reached a country where '^bois de vaches" — 
buffalo chips — ^were used for fuel, and the collecting of 
this was a part of the daily work after camp was made. 
More and more buffalo were seen, and before long we 
hear of the plain literally covered with them, and now, 
as buffalo were killed more often, Garrard is introduced 
to a prairie dish which no one will ever eat again. He 
says: "The men ate the liver raw, with a shght dash of 
gall by way of zest, which, served a la Indian, was not 
very tempting to cloyed appetites; but to hungry men. 

A Boy in Indian Camps 243 

not at all squeamish, raw, warm liver, with raw mar- 
row, was quite palatable. 

"It would not do," he continues, "for small hunt- 
ing parties to build fires to cook with; for, in this hos- 
tile Indian country, a smoke would bring inquiring 
friends. Speaking of hostile Indians, reminds me of a 
question related by one of our men: at a party, in a 
Missouri frontier settlement, a lady asked a moun- 
taineer, fresh from the Platte, * if hostile Indians are as 
savage as those who serve on foot!' 

"Returning to camp the prairie was black with the 
herds; and, a good chance presenting itself, I struck 
spurs into Paint, directing him toward fourteen or 
fifteen of the nearest, distant eight or nine hundred 
yards. We (Paint and I) soon neared them, giving me 
a flying view of their unwieldy proportions, and, when 
within fifteen feet of the nearest I raised my rifle half 
way to the face and fired. Reloading, still in hot pur- 
suit (tough work to load on a full run), I followed, 
though without catching up. One feels a delightfully 
wild sensation when in pursuit of a band of buflFalo, 
on a fleet horse, with a good rifle, and without a hat, 
the winds playing around the flushed brow, when with 
hair streaming, the rider nears the frightened herd, 
and, with a shout of exultation, discharges his rifle. I 
returned to the party highly gratified with my first, 
though unsuccessful, chase, but Mr. St. Vrain put a 
slight damper to my ardor, by simply remarking — 

"*The next time you "run meat" don't let the horse 

244 Beyond the Old Frontier 

go in a trot and yourself in a gallop ' (I had, in my eager- 
ness, leaned forward in the saddle, and a stumble of 
the horse would have pitched me over his head); by 
which well-timed and laconic advice, I afterward prof- 

From this time on there was much chasing of buffalo, 
but httle kilHng of them, except by the old hands. The 
young ones, of course, neither knew how to shoot nor 
where to shoot, and our author naively remarks, after 
one of his chases: "To look at a buffalo, one would 
think that they could not run with such rapidity; but, 
let him try to follow with an ordinary horse, and he is 
soon undeceived." 

During the efforts of the greenhorns to kill buffalo 
this incident occurred: "Mr. Chadwick (of St. Louis, 
on his first trip, like several of us, for pleasure), 
seeing a partially blind bull, concluded to 'make meat' 
of him; crawling up close, the buffalo scented him 
and pitched about every way, too blind to travel 
straight or fast. Chad fired; the mad animal, di- 
rected by the rifle report, charged. How they did 
Mick it' over the ground! He pursued, yelHng, half in 
excitement, half in fear, till they were close to the 
wagons, where the pursuer changed tack, only to be 
shot by one of the teamsters with a nor'-west fusil." 
, It is natural enough that the boy author, while 
travelling for the first time through the buffalo range, 
should think and write chiefly about buffalo, yet he 
finds time to tell of the prairie-dog towns through 

A Boy in Indian Camps 245 

which they passed, and of the odd ways of the dogs and 
the curious apparent companionship or at least co- 
habitation of the snakes and the prairie owls with 
them. As they passed through this region north of 
the Arkansas in the hot, dry weather of the early fall, 
they suffered sometimes from thirst. The first grave 
passed by the train aroused melancholy and sympa- 
thetic feelings in the boy's heart. 

One day Garrard went out hunting with Mr. St. 
Vrain and another, and a band of buffalo were dis- 
covered on their way to water. Here Garrard first 
found himself near a wounded bull, and the picture 
that he paints of the monster is a true and a striking 
one. "Mr. St. Vrain, dismounting, took his rifle, and 
soon was on the 'approach,' leaving us cached behind 
a rise of the ground to await the gun report. We laid 
down with our blankets, which we always carried 
strapped to the saddle, and, with backs to the wind, 
talked in a low tone, until hearing Mr. St. Vrain's gun, 
when we remounted. Again and again the rifle was 
heard, in hasty succession, and hastening to him, we 
found a fat cow stretched, and a wounded male limp- 
ing slowly off. The animals were tied to the horns 
of our cow; and, with butcher knives, we divested the 
body of its fine coat; but, finding myself a * green hand,' 
at least not an adept, in the mysteries of prairie butch- 
ering, I mounted Paint for the wounded fellow, who 
had settled himself, with his fore legs doubled under 
him, three hundred yards from us. Mine was a high 

246 Beyond the Old Frontier 

pommeled, Mexican saddle, with wooden stirrups; and, 
when once seated, it was no easy matter to be dis- 
lodged. Paint went up within twenty yards of the 
growHng, wounded, gore-covered bull, and there stood 
trembUng, and imparting some of his fear to myself. 

'*With long, shaggy, dirt-matted, and tangled locks 
falHng over his glaring, diaboHcal eyes, blood stream- 
ing from nose and mouth, he made the most ferocious 
looking object it is possible to conceive; and, if nurses 
could portray to obstinate children in true colors the 
description of a mad buffalo bull, the oft-repeated 
'bugaboo' would soon be an obsolete idea. 

"While looking with considerable trepidation on the 
vanquished monarch of the Pawnee plains, he started 
to his feet; and, with a jump, materially lessened the 
distance between us, which so scared Paint that he 
reared backward, nearly sHding myself and gun over 
his tail; and before the bridle rein could be tightened, 
ran some rods; but, turning his head, and setting the 
rowels of my spurs in his flanks, I dashed up within 
thirty feet of the bull; and at the crack of the gun, the 
'poor buffler' dropped his head, his skin convulsively 
shook, his dark eyes, no longer fired with malignancy, 
rolled back in the sockets, and his spirit departed for 
the region of perpetual verdure and running waters, 
beyond the reach of white man's rifle or the keen lance 
of the prairie warrior." 

And then the picture with which he closes the 
chapter covering the march through the buff'alo range! 

A Boy in Indian Camps 247 

How boyish, and vet how charming and how true 
it is! 

"Good humor reigned triumphant throughout 
camp. Canadian songs of mirth filled the air; and at 
every mess fire, pieces of meat were cooking en appolas; 
that is, on a stick sharpened, with alternate fat and 
lean meat, making a delicious roast. Among others, 
houdins were roasting without any previous culinary 
operation, but the tying of both ends, to prevent the 
fat, as it was liquified, from wasting; and when pro- 
nounced 'good' by the hungry, impatient judges, it 
was taken ofF the hot coals, puffed up with the heat 
and fat, the steam escaping from little punctures, and 
coiled on the ground, or a not particularly clean sad- 
dle blanket, looking for all the world Hke a dead snake. 

"The fortunate owner shouts, *Hyar's the doin's, 
and hyar's the 'coon as savys "poor bull" from "fat 
cow"; freeze into it, boys!' And all fall to, with ready 
knives, cutting off savory pieces of this exquisitely ap- 
petizing prairie production. 

"At our mess fire there was a whole side of ribs 
roasted. When browned thoroughly we handled the 
long bones, and as the generous fat dripped on our 
clothes, we heeded it not, our minds wrapped up with 
the one absorbing thought of satisfying our relentless 
appetites; progressing in the work of demolition, our 
eyes closed with ineffable bliss. Talk of an em- 
peror's table — why, they could imagine nothing half 
so good! The meal ended, the pipe lent its aid to 

248 Beyond the Old Frontier 

complete our happiness, and, at night we retired to 
the comfortable blankets, wanting nothing, caring for 

Late in October the train met with the advance 
guard of a party of Cheyenne warriors, then on the war- 
path for scalps and horses against the Pawnee nation. 
These were the first really wild Indians that Garrard 
had seen, and their picturesqueness and unusual ap- 
pearance greatly interested him. In those days the 
Cheyennes had never been at war with the white peo- 
ple, and they were on terms of especial friendliness 
with Bent and St. Vrain, from whose trading posts 
they obtained their suppHes. A little later, on the 
way to Bent's Fort, they passed a Cheyenne medicine 
lodge, with its sweat-house, and later still Indian 
graves on scaffolds which rested on the horizontal 
limbs of the cottonwood trees. A day or two after 
this they reached Fort William, or Bent's Fort, where 
they met William Bent, in his day one of the best- 
known men of the southern plains. A few days were 
spent there, and then came the most interesting ad- 
venture that the boy had had.. 

Early in November he started for the Cheyenne 
village with John Smith, who, with his wife, his little 
boy Jack, and a Canadian, were setting out for the 
village to trade for robes. 

John Smith is believed to have been the first white 
man ever to learn the Cheyenne language, so as to be 
able to interpret it into English. When he made his 

A Boy in Indian Camps 249 

appearance on the plains we do not know, but he was 
there in the *3o's, and for many years was employed 
by Bent and St. Vrain to follow the Indians about 
and trade with them for robes. Early in his life on the 
plains he had married a Cheyenne woman and estab- 
lished intimate relations with the tribe, among whom 
he remained for many years. He was present in the 
camp of the Cheyennes during the Chivington massacre 
at Sand Creek, in 1864, at which time his son. Jack, 
the child mentioned by Garrard in this volume, was 
killed by the soldiers, being shot in the back by a sol- 
dier who saw his shadow on the lodge skins and fired 
at it. It is said that John Smith himself came very 
near being killed, and had a hard time in talking the 
Colorado soldiers out of killing him. He has a son 
now living at Pine Ridge. 

The small party journeyed on toward the village, 
and while Pierre, the Canadian, drove the wagon, and 
the woman and her child rode in silence. Smith and 
Garrard kept up a lively conversation. Smith was 
anxious to learn all about the ** States" and life there, 
while Garrard replied to him with inquiries about 
Indians and their ways. And so, day after day, they 
journeyed over the plain until the cone-shaped lodges 
of the village came in sight, to be reached a few hours 
later. Riding into the camp, they halted at the lodge 
of one of the principal men, and unsaddling and un- 
packing their animals there, entered it with their goods, 
and according to custom established themselves in the 

250 Beyond the Old Frontier 

back part, which was at once given up to them by the 
host. And now began an entirely new Hfe for Garrard 
— a Hfe into which he threw himself with the whole- 
hearted enthusiasm of a healthy lad, and which he 
thoroughly enjoyed. The days and evenings in the 
camp; the moving from place to place over the prairie; 
the misfortunes which happened to the men unaccus- 
tomed to such life, are all described. Vivid glimpses 
of the marching Indian column are given in the follow- 
ing paragraphs: 

"The young squaws take much care of their dress 
and horse equipments; they dashed furiously past 
on wild steeds, astride of the high-pommeled saddles. 
A fancifully colored cover, worked with beads or 
porcupine quills, making a flashy, striking appearance, 
extended from withers to rump of the horse, while 
the riders evinced an admirable daring, worthy of 
Amazons. Their dresses were made of buckskin, high 
at the neck, short sleeves, or rather none at all, fitting 
loosely, and reaching obHquely to the knee, giving a 
reheved, Diana look to the costume; the edges scalloped, 
worked with beads, and fringed. From the knee, down- 
ward, the limb was encased in a tightly fitting leggin, 
terminating in a neat moccasin — both handsomely 
worked with beads. On the arms were bracelets of 
brass, which ghttered and reflected in the radiant, 
morning sun, adding much to their attractions. In 
their pierced ears, shells from the Pacific shore, were 
pendant; and, to complete the picture of savage taste 

A Boy in Indian Camps 251 

and profusion, their fine complexions were eclipsed by 
a coat of flaming vermillion. 

"Many of the largest dogs were packed with a 
small quantity of meat, or something not easily injured. 
They looked queerly, trotting industriously under their 
burdens; and, judging from a small stock of canine 
physiological information, not a little of the wolf was 
in their composition. These dogs are extremely mus- 
cular and are compactly built. 

"We crossed the river on our way to the new camp. 
The alarm manifested by the ki-kun (children) in the 
lodge-pole drays, as they dipped in the water, was 
amusing; the little fellows, holding their breaths, not 
daring to cry, looked imploringly at their inexorable 
mothers, and were encouraged by words of approba- 
tion from their stern fathers. Regaining the grassy 
bottom, we once more went in a fast walk. 

"The different colored horses, the young Indian 
beaux, the bold, bewildering belles, and the newness 
of the scene were gratifying in the extreme to my un- 
accustomed senses. After a ride of two hours we 
stopped, and the chiefs, fastening their horses, col- 
lected in circles, to smoke the pipe and talk, letting 
their squaws unpack the animals, pitch the lodges, 
build fires, arrange the robes, and, when all was ready, 
these 'lords of creation' dispersed to their several 
homes to wait until their patient and enduring spouses 
prepared some food. I was provoked, nay, angry, to 
see the lazy, overgrown men, do nothing to help their 

25 2 Beyond the Old Frontier 

wives; and, when the young women pulled off their 
bracelets and finery, to chop wood, the cup of my 
wrath was full to overflowing, and, in a fit of honest 
indignation, I pronounced them ungallant and savage 
in the true sense of the word. A wife, here, is, indeed, a 

Bravery, endurance, and hardihood were in those 
days a part of the education of each Indian boy, and 
here is a glimpse of the training received by a baby, 
which should fit him for the hardships that each war- 
rior must endure. This was the grandson of the Vip- 
po-nah, a boy six or seven months old : 

"Every morning, his mother washed him in cold 
water, and sent him out to the air to make him hardy; 
he would come in, perfectly nude, from his airing, about 
half frozen. How he would laugh and brighten up, as 
he felt the warmth of the fire! Being a boy, the par- 
ents have great hopes of him as a brave and chief (the 
acme of Indian greatness); his father dotes upon 
him, holding him in his arms, singing in a low tone, 
and in various ways, showing his extreme affection." 

One of the subjects discussed by Garrard and John 
Smith before they reached the Cheyenne village was 
prairie foods. Smith spoke of the excellence of dog 
meat, while Garrard declared that it must be horrible, 
saying that buflFalo meat was unquestionably the most 
delicate food in this or any other country. Smith 
agreed that buffalo was the best, but that dog meat 
was the next, and offered to bet that he would make 



A Boy in Indian Camps 253 

Garrard eat dog meat in the village and make him 
declare that it was good. How John Smith carried 
out his threat is told in the following paragraphs: 

*'One evening we were in our places — I was lying 
on a pile of outspread robes, watching the blaze, as it 
illumined the lodge, which gave the yellow hue of the 
skins of which it was made, a still brighter tinge; and, 
following with my eye, the thin blue smoke, coursing, in 
fantastic shapes, through the opening at the top of the 
cone; my thoughts carrying me momentarily every- 
where; now home; now enjoying some choice edible, 
or, seated by a pleasant friend, conversing; in short, my 
mind, like the harp in Alexander's feast, the chords of 
which, touched by the magic hand of memory, or flight 
of fancy, alternately depressed, or elevated me in feeling. 
Greenwood and Smith, sitting up, held in 'durance 
vile' the ever present pipe. Their unusual laughter 
attracted my attention, but, not divining the cause I 
joined in the conversation. It was now quite late, and 
feeling hungry, I asked what was on the fire. 

"'Terrapins! ' promptly repHed Smith. 

** 'Terrapins?' echoed I, in surprise, at the name. 
'Terrapins! How do you cook them?' 

"'You know them hard-shell land terrapin?' 


"'Well! the squaws go out to the sand buttes and 
bring the critters in and cook 'em in the shell alive 
— those stewin' thar ar cleaned first. Howsomever, 
they're darned good!' 

254 Beyond the Old Frontier 

"'Yes, hos, an' that's a fact, wagh!' chimed in Green- 

"I listened, of course, with much interest to their 
account of the savage dish, and waited, with impa- 
tience for a taste of that, the recital of whose mer- 
its sharpened my already keen appetite. When the 
squaw transferred the contents of the kettle to a wooden 
bowl, and passed it on to us, our butcher knives were 
in immediate requisition. Taking a piece, with hun- 
gry avidity, which Smith handed me, without thought, 
as to what part of the terrapin it was, I ate it with 
much gusto, calHng ^for more.' It was extremely good, 
and I spoke of the delicacy of the meat, and answered 
all their questions as to its excellency in the affirma- 
tive, even to the extent of a panegyric on the whole 
turtle species. After fully committing myself. Smith 
looked at me a while in silence, the corners of his mouth 
gradually making preparations for a laugh, and asked: 

" 'Well, hos! how do you hke dogmeat?' and then 
such hearty guffaws were never heard. The stupefac- 
tion into which I was thrown by the revolting an- 
nouncement, only increased their merriment, which soon 
was resolved into yells of dehght at my discomfiture. 

"A revulsion of opinion, and dogmeat too, ensued, 
for I could feel the 'pup' crawHng up my throat; but 
saying to myself — ' that it was good under the name of 
terrapin,' 'that a rose under any other name would 
smell as sweet,' and that it would be prejudice to stop, 
I broke the shackles of deep-rooted antipathy to the 

A Boy in Indian Camps 255 

canine breed, and, putting a choice morceau on top of 
that already swallowed, ever after remained a stanch 
defender and admirer of dogmeat. The conversa- 
tion held with Smith, the second day of our acquaint- 
ance, was brought to mind, and I acknowledged that 
'dog' was next in order to buffalo." 

Life in the Cheyenne camp went on interestingly. 
Garrard began to make a vocabulary of the Cheyenne 
language, and soon to speak it in a broken fashion 
which caused his auditors to shriek with laughter. 
He watched them at the sign language, amused them 
with games and the few books which he possessed, 
went to feasts, noted the odd implements and ways of 
his camp mates, and set down all that happened, to- 
gether with his boyish reflections on the incidents. 

The discipline practised by John Smith on his son 
Jack will bear repeating. It seems that the child had 
taken to crying one night, much to the annoyance of 
four or five chiefs who had come to the lodge to talk 
and smoke. "In vain did the mother shake and scold 
him with the severest Cheyenne words, until Smith, 
provoked beyond endurance, took the squalling young- 
ster in hands; he 'shu-ed' and shouted, and swore, but 
Jack had gone too far to be easily pacified. He then 
sent for a bucket of water from the river, and poured 
cupfull after cupfuU on Jack, who stamped and screamed, 
and bit, in his puny rage. Notwithstanding, the icy 
stream slowly descended until the bucket was emp- 
tied, another was sent for, and again and again the 

2S6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

cup was replenished and emptied on the blubbering 
youth. At last, exhausted with exertion, and com- 
pletely cooled down, he received the remaining water 
in silence, and, with a few words of admonition, was de- 
livered over to his mother, in whose arms he stifled 
his sobs, until his heart-breaking grief and cares were 
drowned in sleep. What a devilish mixture Indian and 
American blood is!" 

Garrard was a healthy, natural boy, and with all a 
boy's love of fun. He mingled readily and naturally 
in the sports and amusements of the young people of 
the Cheyenne camp and heartily enjoyed it. In those 
days the white trader in the Indian camp was regarded 
as a great man, and was treated with respect, to re- 
tain which he carried himself with much dignity. 
But Garrard cared nothing for this respect, and made 
no effort to preserve this dignity. He danced and 
sang with the boys and girls, and the women were 
astonished to find a white person so careless of ap- 
pearances, though they Uked him all the better for it. 

On one occasion in the winter there was much ex- 
citement in the Cheyenne camp. A war-party was 
returning, and all the men, women, and children black- 
ened their faces and went out to meet them. The 
returning warriors advanced in triumph, for they had 
three scalps, borne on slender willow wands, and hang- 
ing from each scalp was a single tuft of hair which 
told that they were Pawnees. Now there was great 
rejoicing in the camp, and many dances to celebrate 

A Boy in Indian Camps 257 

the victory and to rejoice over the triumph that the 
tribe had made over its enemies. "The drum, at night, 
sent forth its monotony of hollow sound, and our 
Mexican, Pedro, and I, directed by the booming, en- 
tered a lodge, vacated for the purpose, full of young 
men and squaws, following one another in a contin- 
uous circle, keeping the left knee stiff, and bending 
the right with a half-forward, half-negative step, as if 
they wanted to go on and could not, accompanying it, 
every time the right foot was raised, with an energetic, 
broken song, which, dying away, was again and again 
sounded — hay-a-hay, hay-a-hay, they went — laying 
the emphasis on the first syllable. A drum, similar to, 
though larger than, a tamborine, covered with par- 
fleche, was beat upon with a stick, producing with the 
voices a sound not altogether disagreeable. . . . 

"During the day, the young men, except the dancers, 
piled up dry logs in a level, open space near, for a grand 
demonstration. At night, when it was fired, I folded 
my blanket over my shoulders, comme les sauvagesy and 
went out. The faces of many girls were brilliant with 
Vermillion; others were blacked, their robes, leggins 
and skin dresses, glittering with beads and porcupine 
quill work. Rings and bracelets of shining brass en- 
circled their taper arms and fingers, and shells dangled 
from their ears. Indeed, all the finery collectable was 
piled on in barbarous profusion, though a few, in good 
taste or through poverty, wore a single band, and but 
few rings; and with jetty hair, parted in the middle. 

258 Beyond the Old Frontier 

from the forehead to the neck, terminating in two 
handsome braids. . . . 

*'The girls, numbering two hundred, fell into line 
together, and the men, of whom there were two hun- 
dred and fifty, joining, a circle was formed, which 
'traveled' around with the same shuffling step al- 
ready described. The drummers, and other musicians 
(twenty or twenty-five of them) marched in a contrary 
direction, to, and from, and around the fire, inside 
the large ring; for, at the distance kept by the out- 
siders, the area was one hundred and fifty feet in 
diameter. There Appolonian emulators chanted the 
great deeds performed by the Cheyenne warriors; as 
they ended, the dying strain was caught up by the hun- 
dreds of the outside circle, who, in fast-swelling, loud 
tones, poured out the burden of their song. At this 
juncture, the march was quickened, the scalps of the 
slain were borne aloft and shaken in wild delight, and 
shrill warnotes, rising above the furious din, accel- 
erated the pulsation, and strung high the nerves. Time- 
worn shields, careering in mad holders' hands, clashed, 
and keen lances, once reeking in Pawnee blood, clanged. 
Braves seized one another with an iron grip, in the 
heat of excitement, or chimed more tenderly in the 
chant, enveloped in the same robe with some gentle 
maiden as they approvingly stepped through one of 
their own original polkas. 

"Thirty of the chiefs, and principal men were ranged 
by the pile of blazing logs. By their invitation, I sat 

A Boy in Indian Camps 259 

down near 'Old Bark,' and smoked death and its con- 
comitant train of evils to those audacious tribes, who 
doubt the courage or supremacy of the brave, the 
great, and powerful Cheyenne nation. 

**The pipe was lavishly decorated with beaver strips, 
beads, and porcupine; the mixture of tobacco and 
bark, was prepared with unusual care for this, their 
grand gala night." 

It would be interesting to follow Garrard through 
his life in the Cheyenne camp, but space forbids this. 
He was called away from this interesting life by the 
news which came from the West of the death at the 
hands of the Pueblos of Governor Charles Bent, in 
New Mexico. Fugitives who had escaped the attack 
had come to Fort William and told what had hap- 
pened, and soon after, William Bent, with twenty-three 
men, started for the Mexican settlements. They passed 
far to the southward of Pike's Peak, met a few United 
States soldiers and volunteers, and toward the middle 
of February were joined by Sublette, with two com- 
panions, who reported forty thousand men enHsted 
for Mexico. Toihng through the mountains in true 
winter weather, the party marched on until they came 
to one of Bent's ranches and at last reached Taos. 
From this on, the author's route was much among the 
Mexicans of the various towns until, at last, turning his 
face eastward, he came back across the mountains, 
and once more found himself in the Cheyenne village, 
whence soon afterward he set out for the East. 

26o Beyond the Old Frontier 



Although Garrard had seen plenty of Indians, and 
had been present at more than one skirmish, he had 
not yet taken part in a real Indian fight, though he 
had long wished to do so. On the way back this de- 
sire was gratified, and the boy, with his eighteenth 
birthday only just behind him, paints in one of the 
last chapters of his book a spirited picture of the 
alarms, surprises, narrow escapes, and swift changes 
of an Indian raid on the moving wagon-trains near the 
Pawnee Fork of the Arkansas. His trip on the plains 
ended in an exciting fighting climax, and we can fancy 
that it gave the boy material for talk and for delightful 
recollections during the rest of his life. 

'^We were started early. The wagons traveled in 
double file, so that in case of an attack from the leagued 
Camanches and Arapahoes, whose propinquity was as 
well-known as dreaded, they would not be strung along 
too great a space. The caballada was driven and kept 
between these two lines of the train. 

"Late in the afternoon, when the sun was fast sinking 
to its golden-hued, silver-flecked bed, and the drooping 
ears of the flagging mules betokened weariness, objects 
were seen directly before us in the trace. Keen-eyed 
Barton, in calling our attention to them, uttered his 
opinion in the single significant word, * Injuns!* 


A Boy in Indian Camps 261 

" * Indians, say you, Barton?' inquired the colonel, 
looking in the direction pointed, 'Indians? Upon my 
word I beheve so. Come on, we'll reconnoiter, and 
say nothing to the train until the fact is ascertained — 
indeed, I hope not* — and, striking spurs into his large 
brown California mule, he loped forward, followed by 
some eight or ten of us. We soon ascertained, beyond 
a doubt, enough danger to lessen our party to five — 
the colonel, Barton, Brown, McCarty, and myself, 
who kept on until within less than a quarter of a mile 
of the large party of mounted warriors. That por- 
tion of our men who had put back with all possible 
speed, set the train in a ferment by their prodigious 

"In front, on the opposite rise of ground, was a sight 
to make the stoutest heart among us quail; for the 
Indian force, displayed within long rifleshot, num- 
bered, according to our unanimous estimate, four hun- 
dred strong, glittering with gay pennons, bright lance- 
heads, and savage ornaments. Young braves rode 
their plunging barbs restlessly to and fro. The shrill 
and startling notes of preparation reached us but too 
plainly; and we hurried back to await for the expected 
charge. The train was in almost inextricable confu- 
sion, but the colonel soon restored order. The wag- 
ons, mules, and men advanced to the brow of the hill 
and made a coral: that is, the two front wagons came 
together, and the inside forewheels of those following, 
were made to touch the outside hindwheel of the one 

262 Beyond the Old Frontier 

immediately in front. In this manner, a secure but 
irregular oval pen was formed, into which were driven 
the oxen, the caballada, and the riding animals, thus 
leaving the men free to devote their whole attention 
to the enemy. There was Httle noise, but much alac- 
rity, and considerable trepidation among the poor 
teamsters, thirty of whom were without firearms. 
We had scarcely finished our preparations for de- 
fense, when the Indians, with poised lances, furiously 
charged upon us. For some time they circled around 
our coral with guns unslung, and white shields con- 
tinually shifted to protect their bodies. At last they 
drew rein; and, on each side of our party, commenced 
a lively demonstration, sending their balls singing 
through the air; some overhead, some perforating the 
wagons and wagon-sheets, and some knocking the fur 
from our hide-bound oxen. 

*'We were drawn up in line outside, fronting the 
main body, two hundred and fifty yards distant. We 
gave them several rounds, one-half of us reserving 
fire until the discharged arms were reloaded. The 
Indians scattered after our rather ineffectual volleys, 
and their position became more menacing, their war- 
whoops more dissonant and savage than before. We 
posted ourselves about the wagons, each man to his 
liking. Lieutenant Brown, with five men, took a posi- 
tion on a knoll fifty yards from us, and kept up an in- 
cessant firing, which was warmly reciprocated by the 
foe. It became exciting; the warriors galloping furi- 

A Boy in Indian Camps 263 

ously, bent down, now on this side, now on that, until 
nothing of their person could be seen but the heel and 
part of the leg thrown across the cantle of the saddle. 
From under the horse's neck would issue a smoke- 
cloud, as we heard the sighing of the ball as it cut its 
way overhead, or knocked the dust from the dry plain. 
Sharply-sighted rifles gave ready answer; cheers rang 
out from our exhilarated party, and unfortunate oxen, 
stung by furrowing bullets from lumbering escopetas, 
plunged and horned each other from side to side of the 
crowded coral. 

"A California Indian, belonging to Colonel Russell, 
ran, with gun in hand, far out toward the foiled enemy, 
making the Indian sign of insult and derision; and, in 
Spanish, abusing them most scandalously. He came 
back before long, in no small hurry, with three of the 
outraged foe at his heels, who were in return repelled 
at fullest speed by us. A ball overhead, causes even 
the coolest man to dodge involuntarily, however surely 
he may know that the whistling bullet has already 
missed him. This is especially the case in a desultory 
scattered fire. Many a hearty laugh was had at the 
ludicrous positions into which we found ourselves 
thrown by these badly-aimed missiles. 

"The Indians detained us an hour, and then, re- 
linquishing their coup attempts, moved off toward the 
west, to our extreme gratification. Had the charge 
been made before the coral was formed, they would 
have scalped the whole party, for our force was small, 

264 Beyond the Old Frontier 

and composed for the most part of green teamsters. 
Yoking up, we reached camp, by the river's side, hot, 
thirsty, and irritated at our meager 'satisfaction.' 

"June 19th. The train proceeded with much caution. 
Indian spies watched us in the distance, hanging Hke 
wolves on our rear; the gleam of their lances was often 
seen among the sandbuttes beyond the river. They 
were evidently intending to make another descent, on 
the first fair opportunity. Our flankguards were on 
the alert, and the day ended without a conflict. The 
country was sparsely wooded with cottonwood and 
boxelder, and bois de vaches supersedes substantial fuel 
for several days travel through the region of the ' Coon 

"Our animals were saddled, hitched, and the train 
in motion, after an early cup of coflPee. The air brisk 
and cool, and the sky clear, gave promise of a fair day's 
travel; and even uneasy fears of Camanche attack 
were not sufficient to check our joyous feelings. It was 
the duty of the horsemen to push forward at mealtime, 
select a camp, and wait for the arrival of the train. 
Near noon, we entered a large * bottom,' horseshoe- 
shaped, around which the river made a circuit of three 
miles or more. The wagons kept the trace across the 
neck, and a party, composed of Colonel Russell, Mr. 
Coolidge, and myself, on mules, and three others, on 
horses, followed the course of the stream to gather fuel. 
This I laid across the pommel of the colonel's saddle, 
as I collected it, and he was already loaded with suffi- 

A Boy in Indian Camps 265 

cient to boil our cup of coffee and fry the slice of pork 
for which we were well prepared by several hours' 
fasting, when, all at once, the three horsemen strung 
out in a straight shoot for the wagons, without a word 
to us. 'Hallo!' shouted we, 'what's your hurry?' 
The fast receding men said nothing, but pointed to 
the southwest, in which direction there approached, at 
full speed, a war-party of about forty, endeavoring to 
cut us off from the wagons which were then coralling 
in great confusion. Dusky figures, and light puffs of 
smoke, showed faintly in the distance, the attack on 
the straggling train. No time was to be lost in rejoin- 
ing our company, and back we spurred, to the tune of 
Camanche take the hindmost. The Unes of the In- 
dian attack and our return were convergent, and it 
was a mere question of speed whether we lost our top- 
knots or gained the coral. The pursuers already had 
the advantage. The colonel threw down his wood, and 
I replaced the old cap on my rifle with a fresh one, de- 
termined that one should 'go under' before my 'hair 
was lifted.' I led the retreat, mounted on a small iron- 
gray mule — a native of the California savannas — who 
bounded most gallantly — for a mule — over the prairie. 
Colonel Russell followed in my wake, but Coolidge 
was still behind. Our pace seemed snail-Hke, and we 
jammed our rifle butts into the flanks of the poor 
beasts most unmercifully. 

" 'Come on, Coolidge,' shouted the Colonel to the 
frightened trader, 'come on, we'll soon be safe.' 

266 Beyond the Old Frontier 

"*Yes, yes! but this fool animal isn't worth a cuss 
for running/ and with that, he gave the poor mule an- 
other 'chug' with his sharp riflestock. No exertion 
was spared, no incentive was neglected, to urge our 
dull beasts along; and though there was but small 
chance for escaping a lance thrust, we answered loudly 
their yells. When within three hundred yards of the 
wagon, I looked back, and saw Coolidge far behind, 
with several Indians close upon him, the foremost 
brandishing his lance. I shouted to the colonel that 
Coolidge was gone, and immediately we jerked our 
animals around. The colonel aimed hastily, fired, and 
galloped back to the coral. I spurred on to cover 
Coolidge*s retreat, who came lumbering with the owgh- 
owgh-he-a of his pursuers close to his ear. When I 
drew rein, and placed it between my teeth, my mule, 
contrary to all precedent and custom, stood stock still, 
while I took steady aim, at the nearest savage, who, 
flying along with eager look and harsh yell, was stri- 
ving to make a sure blow. His band followed on his 
track, at distances various as their horses' speed. 
Coolidge, with eyes staring with fright, bent close down 
to his mule's neck. When I first drew bead on the 
Camanche's painted hide, he was approaching in a 
quartering direction to my right; as the gentleman was 
rather fleshy about the umbiHcal region, and tender 
withal, to make a sure shot, I kept the silver bead at 
my rifle point, at that particular spot, until he had 
passed to the left. With the report the yellow devil's 

A Boy in Indian Camps 267 

legs twitched in pain (I was so close to him that I could 
see even his features with disagreeable distinctness), 
and throwing up his horse's head, he galloped off to the 
river. Those who watched, say that he did not come 

" Reloading at full speed, Coolidge and I hurried into 
the coral, which was just being closed. We dis- 
mounted, merely giving each other a look of congratu- 
lation; for the rattling of the guns, and the warwhoops 
and yells of the men, drowned our voices, and left us 
nothing to do but fight. For that work, with a good 
will, and quite systematically, we prepared ourselves. 
The Colonel's party were firing with much earnestness. 
A short distance of the place where we were gathering 
wood, a large force was descending the sand buttes, glit- 
tering with bright gun-barrels, swords, and lances — a 
well-armed band. They crossed the river in a trot, which 
was quickened into a charge as they reached the bank, 
and, at one hundred and fifty yards distance, they 
opened their fire. For a few minutes, rifles, warwhoops, 
escopetas, hurrahs, contended in discordant strife — a 
tumult of wild sounds. But they could not stand our 
well-directed fire, and fell back. They left no dead 
on the field. This is never done, and the only token of 
the effect of our balls was, by the wounded precipi- 
tately leaving the immediate scene of action. To give 
straightout evidence of injury, by show of pain, or 
otherwise, is a breach of their code of honor — an in- 
fringement severely rebuked by the taunts of the tribe 

268 Beyond the Old Frontier 

— a weakness not soon forgotten or forgiven by the old 
chiefs, whose duty and care it is, to sustain, by precept 
and example, the national bravery and hardihood. 
They consider not the death, merely, of an enemy, a 
victory — a coup must be counted. On a horse-steahng 
expedition, this is a horse; in battle, a scalp; and the 
trophies must be shown at home, before the warrior is 
allowed to decorate his robe with the black hand. When 
an Indian falls too far gone to rescue himself, his friends 
rush up and bear him ofF between their fleet steeds. 

**They rallied and again circled around us, with their 
white shields protecting their bodies, tossing their 
spears, and showing off their beautiful horses, and their 
own graceful persons, to the best advantage. Their 
intention was to make a charge on the first vulnerable 
point, but we, being too well guarded, they, after many 
feints, fell back. I sat flat on the ground, my rifle 
resting on the spoke of a wagon-wheel — firing as often 
as an Indian came within range — and, when the 
painted, warwhooping target vamosed for safer quar- 
ters, at the crack of the gun, certainly no other than a 
smile of satisfaction lit up my face. If none fell out- 
right, it was not that any qualms of conscience pre- 
vented my taking cool and sure aim, at those who, after 
chasing a mile, and nearly scaring the life out of us, 
were then keeping us penned in the hot sun without 

"One Indian, who, from his distinguished, though 
scanty, dress, was a * brave' of the first order, came 

A Boy in Indian Camps 269 

close into our lines, throwing himself behind the body 
of his horse, so as to show nothing but a hand and foot; 
but, as he raised himself, one of the colonel's men cut, 
with his rifleball, a neatly-dressed skin, that hung at 
his neck, which we picked up after the fight, as our only 
trophy. They now tossed their balls into us from a long 
distance, by elevating their pieces, being convinced that 
our coral could not be broken without great loss of Hfe. 
Two teamsters, about this time getting scared at the 
whistHng missiles, crept, for security, into an empty 
wagon. They had scarcely made themselves comfort- 
able, when a ball, crashing through both sides of their 
defense, buried itself in the side of a poor steer. The 
terrified Neds tumbled out, greeted by the roars of the 
men around. 

" 'That's what you get for your cussed cowardice,' 
drawled out one of the fellows. 

***Well, I'll be darned, if that wasn't a grazer,' ejac- 
ulated Charley McCarty. *Feel if you haven't got a 
hole in your dogskin — I'd hate to be as bad scared as 
you, by thunder!' 

"We were detained upward of two hours. Our fa- 
tigued and heated oxen were nearly dropping with 
thirst. The savages filed slowly up the sand buttes on 
the other side of the river, and we proceeded to camp, 
each man talking of his own shots. 

"June 22. We expected to reach the Pawnee Fork 
during the morning's march, and as there were bluffs 
near the camp, and several streams intervening, thick- 

270 Beyond the Old Frontier 

set with timber, favorable for ambuscade, the advance 
guard preceded the train a quarter of a mile. We 
were on the alert, our eyes searching every object, our 
guns ready to fire, as with bridle-rein firmly grasped, 
we galloped along in the bright summer morning. Our 
exposed position, and the continual expectation of the 
Camanche yell, kept us excited wildly enough, although 
no foe delayed our march. By noontide, the saddles 
were off — the wagons coralled, and the tent pitched 
once more. Among the remains of the old camps, I 
found the skull and skeleton of an Indian. The sin- 
ews, well gnawed by the wolves, were not yet dry, and 
the skin and hair still graced the head, which, passed 
from hand to hand by the curious, was, at last, tossed 
into the turbulent waters of the flooded Pawnee Fork. 
The Camanche, whose head this was, had been killed 
a few days previous, in an encounter with traders. 
One or two others 'went under' at the same time, but 
their bodies had been rescued. 

'*0n the opposite side of the creek, a train from the 
States was stopped like ourselves by the risen waters. 
I accompanied some of our men over to it. We swam 
across, holding our shirts and buckskins in one hand. 
At the camp we found a government train, some tra- 
ders' wagons, any quantity of gaping men, and a white- 
woman — a real whitewoman! and we gazed upon her 
with great satisfaction and curiosity. After gleaning 
the *news,' we returned in a full run to the creek, and, 
crossing as before, retailed our scanty information. 

A Boy in Indian Camps 271 

"The next day was beautiful, and we waited im- 
patiently for the slow-receding stream to become ford- 
able. The men scattered on both banks, the gra- 
zing cattle and caballadas, with the white wagon-tops 
of the three camps, made a serene and lovely scene. 
About ten o'clock, an immense drove of buffalo was 
seen running in the prairie to the southwest. Some 
of our party set ofF in pursuit on their horses, while 
twenty or thirty of us ran down to intercept them as 
they crossed the creek. A faint cry of Indians! Indi- 
ans! Indians! from the camp reached those nearest the 
muleguard, and by them it was repeated and wafted 
on to us, who, hardly knowing whether to cache in the 
undergrowth, or to run for camp, stood for a moment 
undecided, and then 'streaked it' for the wagons. 
Turning our eyes to the furthest train on the hill, we 
perceived it in great commotion. Fifty Indians were 
charging among them with their lances, recoiling from 
the light volumes of smoke at times, and again swal- 
lowing up the Httle force with their numbers and shut- 
ting them in from our sight. Others were stampeding 
the oxen. After a conflict of several minutes, they re- 
treated, bearing with them a dead warrior, behind the 
bluff hill which jutted boldly from the opposite shore. 

"Our teamsters, during the fight, looked on with 
mouth and eyes open, in wonderment, regardless of 
their own cattle, still feeding in a deeply-fringed sa- 
vanna. Tall Cottonwood timber, overgrown with the 
luxuriant vine and thick-set underbrush, impervious to 

272 Beyond the Old Frontier 

the eye, confined our stock to this secluded spot. The 
creek, half encircling it with a grand sweep, added its 
protection. A lightguard of three men watched the 
grazing herd. We were still congratulating ourselves on 
our escape, when from the guard, we heard the cry that 
the Indians were swimming the creek and driving ofF 
the oxen. More than half the camp started in full 
run to protect them. As we rounded the angle of the 
stream, yells were heard, then the dusky forms of a 
few Indians were seen; and, by the time we were within 
long gunshot, some sixty were among the luckless herd, 
goading them into a lumbering gallop. The colonel's 
party led the van, and would have saved the cattle, 
had the teamsters supported them. But, they hanging 

back, we told them that their oxen might go to . 

Hurrying back to camp. Colonel Russell mounted his 
force and went in pursuit; but, in vain, we tried to re- 
pair the loss that negligence and cowardice had effected. 
Our ride rescued only thirty oxen, and gave us a view 
of the retreating savages, thrusting their lances into 
the remainder. In that unfortunate half hour, the 
train lost one hundred and sixty steers; which, at the 
purchase price — one half less than they were worth on 
the prairie — ^was a damage of four thousand dollars, 
together with a total loss of from five to seven thousand 
more, in the necessary abandonment of the wagons — 
the natural result of sending on the plains a set of green 
men, commanded by as raw a director, poorly and 
scantily armed with government blunderbusses, and 


A Boy in Indian Camps 273 

meagerly furnished with from eight to fifteen rounds 
of cartridges each, which were often wasted on game or 
targets long before reaching the Indian country. And 
this was not the only instance of miserable economy, 
as the official reports show. 

"Our train was in a sad condition; half a yoke to 
each wagon. Mr. Coolidge was really to be pitied — 
nearly four hundred miles from the States, with but 
two oxen to haul four large wagons, heavily loaded with 
robes and peltries. The colonel carried a few packs 
(as many as he was able); he bargained with one of 
the outward-bound trains to take some back to Mann's 
Fort, and the rest he cached. The government peo- 
ple crowded their 'kits' and provision in three wag- 
ons; and, toward evening of the next day, we crossed 
the creek which had now subsided, leaving twenty-six 
wagons and any amount of extras, to the Indians and 
the wolves. Toward sundown, as we were hitching 
up to travel in the night, a party of dragoons, filing 
down the hill, made camp near. Lieutenant J. Love, 
commanding, was informed of the outrage, and prom- 
ised satisfaction. We stopped a moment at the train, 
with which the first fight had occurred. One poor fel- 
low, named Smith, from Van Buren County, Missouri, 
had been lanced seven times through the neck and 
breast. He killed the Indian that fell, while on his 
back and already wounded." 

Garrard's trip on the plains ended in true story- 
book fashion, and, we can fancy, gave the boy material 

274 Beyond the Old Frontier 

for reminiscence and story-telling for many a long 

This book, and many another of the period, mention 
constantly, and in most familiar fashion, names that 
to old-timers in the West are familiar as household 
words — men whom, in their old age, we ourselves per- 
haps knew; men with whose sons and daughters we 
have lived as contemporaries. But the generation that 
knew these old-timers, Carson, Bridger, Jack Robin- 
son, Jim and John Baker, Bent, St. Vrain, Sublette, 
Hugh Monroe, Ike Edwards, Bill Gary, Symonds, 
Beaubien, La Jeunesse, Rowland, and a hundred others 
whose names could be given, has for the most part 
passed away. 

These names belong to the history of the early West. 
Soon they will be historic only, for those who have 
known them will also have crossed the Great Divide, 
and there will be none who can recall their personality. 




IN the year 1847 John Palliser, an Irishman, sailed 
from Liverpool by the good ship "Cambria" for 
an extended trip in America to make acquaint- 
ance with "our Trans-Atlantic brethren, and to ex- 
tend my visit to the regions still inhabited by America's 
aboriginal people — now, indeed, driven far westward 
of their rightful territories and pressed backward into 
that ocean of prairies extending to the foot of the great 
Rocky Mountains." 

Palliser was a young man of good family, the son of 
Colonel Wray Palliser, of Comragh, County Waterford. 
Like so many of his race, he was energetic, quick- 
witted, forceful, and possessed a great fund of humor. 
He seems to have been first of all a hunter, and hke 
all successful hunters to have been a keen and close 
observer. Some time after his return to England he 
wrote a book giving his experiences of adventure in 
the Far West. It is one of the best books of hunting 
adventure ever written — terse, always to the point, 
modest, giving facts and conclusions, and very Uttle 


278 Beyond the Old Frontier 

about his own views of Hfe. The book has long been 
out of print and is now not easily obtained, but it is 
really a model in the picture that it paints of old-time 
conditions and in the self-efFacement of the author. 

Palliser has long been forgotten. Almost equally 
forgotten are two of his shipmates, whose names at 
one time were familiar enough throughout the civilized 
world. These were ''General Tom Thumb" and P. T. 
Barnum, who was bringing Tom Thumb back to the 
United States after a season of exhibition in Europe. 

The "Cambria" touched for coal at HaUfax and then 
came on to Boston and New York, where the traveller 
stopped at the Astor House, which, he says, is "far 
larger than any hotel I ever beheld in the old world." 
From New York he went down to Philadelphia, Balti- 
more, Cumberland, and Wheeling, and from there down 
the Ohio River to the Mississippi and to St. Louis and 
New Orleans. His whole journey, though described 
briefly, is full of effective touches, and his comments 
and criticisms are keen but kindly. To a description 
of New Orleans he gives some space, and speaks with 
cordial warmth of the friendKness and hospitaHty of 
the Creole inhabitants. 

From New Orleans he went up the Mississippi and 
Arkansas (spelled phonetically Arkansor) Rivers, and 
spent some time hunting small game, deer, bear, and, 
by good fortune, killed a fine panther. A more or less 
amusing tale, which Palliser quotes from an experience 
of his brother a year before, is worth repeating. 

The Solitary Hunter 279 

"One day, when comfortably seated with Jackson 
and his family, in the neighbourhood of Lake Jefferson, 
a little nigger come running in, shouting, 'Oh, massa! 
terrible big alUgator; him run at me.' When we got 
him to speak a Httle more coherently, it appeared that 
he had been bathing in the lake, and that an alligator 
had suddenly rushed at him, and when the boy, who 
luckily was not in deep water, had escaped by running 
to land, the brute had actually pursued him for some 
distance along the shore. We instantly loaded our ri- 
fles and started off in quest of the monster, accompanied 
by the boy, who came as guide. After carefully explor- 
ing the bank and reeds, though unsuccessfully, we con- 
cealed ourselves, in hopes of seeing him rise to the 
top of the water when he thought the coast was clear; 
but as we waited a long time without any result, we 
proposed what certainly was a most nefarious project; 
namely, to make the boy strip oflF his clothes and start 
him into the water again as a bait for the alligator. It 
was some time before we could get the boy to come 
round to our view of the matter: his objections to our 
plan were very strong, and his master's threats failed 
completely, as indeed they generally did; for he was 
the kindest-hearted man in the world to his negroes. 
At last I coaxed him with a bright new dollar. This 
inducement prevailed over his fears, and the poor boy 
began to undress, his eyes all the while reverting alter- 
nately from the water to the dollar, and from the dol- 
lar to the water. We told him we did not want him 

28o Beyond the Old Frontier 

to go in so deep as to be obliged to swim. ' By golly, 
then, me go for dollare'; and in he walked, but had 
hardly reached water higher than his knees, when 
crash went the reeds, and the little fellow cut in towards 
our place of concealment at an astonishing pace, pur- 
sued by the alligator. The savage beast, as before, 
came right out on the bank, where we nailed him with 
two capital shots through the head, that effectually 
checked his career. He struggled violently, but use- 
lessly, to regain his congenial element, and, after two 
or three furious lashes of his ponderous tail, sullenly 
expired. The triumph of the boy was complete." 

Palliser next went to Louisville, Ky., and after a 
pause in that State to inspect the Mammoth Cave, re- 
turned to Louisville, where he took the boat for St. 
Louis to make preparations for his Rocky Mountain 
trip. He locates in St. Louis that excellent story which 
has been so often told in the last sixty years about the 
two great talkers who were matched on a bet to see 
which should outtalk the other. 

"Old Mr. Cohen was universally considered a great 
talker, so much so, that he even admitted it himself; 
but this evening a formidable rival appeared against 
him in the person of a strange character from Ken- 
tucky, who fairly met him on his own ground, and after 
supper evinced such unceasing powers of conversation, 
that old Mr. Cohen was unable to get in a word, and 
was fain to claim a hearing. *Let me speak, let me 
speak,' he gasped several times but with no avail; till. 

The Solitary Hunter 281 

at last, the foors argument was resorted to, and a bet 
made which should talk the longest. An umpire was 
chosen to determine which of the two loquacious com- 
batants should be the winner; but, as might naturally 
be supposed, none of us had the patience to sit out the 
contest, so we went off to bed, leaving a plentiful 
supply of brandy, sugar, and iced water. Next morn- 
ing, at a quarter past five, victory was declared for 
Missouri, the umpire returning at that hour and find- 
ing the Kentucky man fast asleep in his arm chair, and 
old Mr. Cohen sitting up close beside him and whisper- 
ing in his ear." 

PaUiser soon started for Independence, Mo., the 
great outfitting point for the fur trade in those days, 
when the plains and mountains were free. At Inde- 
pendence he met Mr. Kipp — ^James Kipp — one of the 
best-known traders of early days and the builder of 
some of the first trading posts far up the river. For 
twenty years before this, it had been James Kipp's 
practice to go down the river in the summer with the 
fur company's flotilla of mackinaw boats, and in the 
autumn to ride north again to the mouth of Yellow- 
stone River, a distance of something Hke fifteen hun- 
dred miles. James Kipp is the bourgeois mentioned 
by Catlin as his host among the Mandans when, in 
1834, he was painting on the upper river. 

The party that set out from Independence on the 
2d of September numbered seventeen or eighteen, 
of whom the greater number were French Creoles and 

282 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Canadians to whom Palliser pays the wholly deserved 
compHment that they were "docile, patient, enduring 
fellows with constitutions like iron, well practiced in 
journeys of this kind and character." Their beds and 
supplies were carried on pack-animals, and they trav- 
elled for some days through a country very thinly 
settled and occupied in part by the Mormons. "The 
last spot where we saw white faces was the Council 
Bluffs, the trading post and the residence of a Govern- 
ment Agent, where we remained a day supplying our- 
selves with coffee, sugar, and biscuit, salt pork, and 
beans, as we did not expect for some time yet to reach 
a good hunting country." 

The camps made after they had passed out of the 
settled region, where they lived at farm-houses, showed 
a method of life wholly new to Palliser, and one which 
to many Americans is as unknown to-day as it was to 
him. "A little before sunset, we unsaddled and un- 
packed our horses, placing the packs and saddle of each 
rider in a separate pile, at equal distances, so as to 
form a circular enclosure about ten paces in diameter; 
and after watering and 'hobling' the horses, i.e. at- 
taching the fore and hind legs on one side together by 
means of an iron chain, with a leathern strap around 
the fetlock, to prevent their straying, we turned them 
loose to graze; not till then considering ourselves at 
liberty to attend to our own comforts. Our first busi- 
ness was, then, to cut and gather wood, and to Hght a 
fire in the centre of the circle, fetching some water in 

The Solitary Hunter 283 

the kettles, and putting the meat on to cook, and ma- 
king our beds of saddle-cloths, blankets, and buffalo 
robes : this done, we roasted our coffee berries, and hav- 
ing wrapped them in a piece of deer or buffalo skin, 
and pounded themin the stump of a tree with the back 
of a hatchet, put them in our coffee pot and boiled 
them; and the meat being cooked by the time this 
process was over, and the coffee made, we fell to with 
great appetite. After supper, we hghted our pipes, 
and then each turned in when he felt inclined, and, 
with his feet to the fire, slept as only travellers in the 
prairie can sleep. Before day we were up again, un- 
hobled and watered our horses, loaded the packs, and 
were all in the saddle by sunrise." The morning halt 
for breakfast was made about eleven o'clock, the horses 
were allowed to graze, and at one the train started 
again, to travel until dark. 

The country through which they were passing had 
been thoroughly hunted by Indians, and the camp was 
out of meat, and had no food except beans. However, 
the fall migration of the wild fowl was on; at least the 
lakes and streams were occupied by plenty of ducks. 
Palliser set out with two of the hunters to try to kill 
some of these, but found that neither of the men could 
shoot on the wing. "It was amusing to see how as- 
tounded they were at my knocking over a fine mallard, 
that came wheeling over our heads; they insisted on 
its being a chance shot, and would not be persuaded 
to the contrary, until I brought down several succes- 

284 Beyond the Old Frontier 

sively; and at last, with a most satisfactory right and 
left, silenced their scepticism completely. They were 
greatly delighted; 'Mais comment diable, monsieur, 
faites'vous cela ? * said one hardy old veteran to me. I 
offered to instruct him, but could not get him to fire 
rapidly enough, as he was afraid of wasting his ammuni- 
tion, which was very expensive." 

On this journey they saw the approach of a prairie 
fire — a splendid and terrible sight — but succeeded in 
cutting it off by back-firing. The old French voya- 
geurs declare that the Indians were travelHng about. 
This experience suggested to PaUiser a description 
given him by a brother sportsman of a fire which he 
had witnessed. "We had seen, during the latter part 
of our day's journey, a remarkable appearance in the 
eastern horizon; and during supper observed a smell of 
burning, and a few Hght cinders fell about the camp, 
and presently we remarked that the luminous appear- 
ance in the east had very much augmented. There 
being a Httle hill in front of us, we could not see dis- 
tinctly what caused it; but having consulted together, 
we agreed that it proceeded from a prairie on fire, which, 
however, was a long way off. About eight o'clock the 
smell of burning and the glare having materially in- 
creased, we walked up to the top of the hill, when a 
spectacle presented itself to us the most grand that 
can well be conceived. The whole horizon, from north 
to south, was one wall of fire, blazing up in some places 
to a great height, at others merely smouldering in the 


The Solitary Hunter 285 

grass. It was, however, at least, eight miles off; but 
the wind seemed to set in our direction, so we instantly 
returned, and took measures to preserve the camp. 
We were in a corner, as it were, on the bank of the 
stream, with a good deal of brushwood running up on 
our left, and the ground sloping up gradually from the 
creek to the top of the hill. Our guides, on looking at 
the fire, said that it would not harm us — ' Ce nest rien 
— le vent change! In short, they would do nothing. 
In about twenty minutes, however, it approached so 
near that there was no time to be lost, and all hands 
were immediately employed in burning a road across 
the face of the hill, so as to stop the fire at that part. 
A more picturesque scene could hardly be imagined. 
The night was very dark, but as far as the eye could 
reach, all across the horizon, about four miles in front 
of us, was a broad, bright, lurid glare of fire, with a 
thick canopy of smoke hanging over it, whose fantastic 
wreaths, as they curled in the breeze, were tinged with 
the red reflection of the flames. Even at that dis- 
tance we could hear the crackling and rushing of the 
fire, which, as it advanced, caused a strong wind, and 
every now and then a brighter flame would shoot high 
up into the black cloud of smoke over the top of the 
hill, illuminating for an instant our tents and waggons 
in the dark hollow, and giving a momentary glimpse of 
the horses which were picketed on the side of the rise, 
on the crest of which the figures of the men engaged in 
lighting the opposition fire (which, as it became too 

286 Beyond the Old Frontier 

extended, they beat down with blankets, only suffering 
it to burn a space about twelve feet broad, right across 
the line of the advancing conflagration), stood out in 
strong relief against the glowing wall of light beyond 
them; and as they ran about, tossing their arms, and 
waving the blankets and Uttle torches of lighted grass, 
they looked in the distance Uke demons rather than 
men. We had no time to look at the picturesque, how- 
ever, for every moment (owing to their previous obsti- 
nacy in neglecting to take precaution in time) became 
more pregnant with danger, and by the time they had 
burned as much as would only about half cover the 
camp, the fire was raging in the bottom at the other 
side of the hill. I ran up for an instant to the top, 
and shall never forget the scene. Although still half 
a mile oflF, the fire seemed close to me, and the heat 
and smoke were almost intolerable, while the dazzling 
brightness of the flames made it painful to look at 
them; they were in three lines nearly parallel, the first 
of which was just below me, burning with a rushing 
noise, and crackUng as it caught the dry grass, that 
gave an idea of total destruction which it is impossi- 
ble to convey, and stretching away over hill and 
dale for twelve or fourteen miles on each side of me, 
lighting up the sides of the hills and the little groves of 
wood far away. The two lines in the rear were not so 
much connected, and seemed rather licking up any 
little spots of grass which had escaped at first. Every 
now and then a prairie hen would flirr past, flying in a 

The Solitary Hunter 287 

wild uncertain manner, as if fear had almost deprived 
it of the use of its wings; while all the songsters of the 
grove were wheeling about among the trees, uttering 
the most expressive cries of alarm, and the melan- 
choly hooting of several owls, and wailing yells of the 
wolves, together with the shouts and cries of the men, 
almost drowned occasionally by the roaring of the 
flames, added to the savage grandeur of the scene, and 
one could have fancied the end of all things was at 
hand. On returning to the camp, I found all hands 
cutting the lassoes and halters of the mules, some of 
which galloped off instantly into the river, where they 
remained standing till the hurricane of flame had 
passed over; the others, seemingly trusting themselves 
instinctively more to man than to their own energies 
in such an emergency, followed us up the space which 
we had burned, and remained quietly there, trembling 
indeed, but without an effort to escape. By the time 
the animals were collected in this spot, the fire was 
blazing on the top of the hill, and we all rushed away 
with blankets to arrest its progress, if possible, at the 
part which we had left unguarded; all our efforts would 
have been in vain, however, and our tents and every- 
thing else must have been consumed, but that, just at 
that weak point, the grass suddenly became thin and 
scanty, with much stony ground, and we had the sat- 
isfaction of seeing the flames stopped there and turned 
oft to the northward along the edge of the brushwood. 
It was really terrific to be, as we were, trying to break 

288 Beyond the Old Frontier 

it down in the very middle of the blaze (which, after 
all, was so narrow that where the flames were not high, 
you could jump across it); we were, indeed, nearly 
suffocated by the smoke and heat. As soon as we per- 
ceived the fire turned oflF, we returned to the camp 
and horses, and all danger was over; but the sight of 
the three lines of fire stretching up the rising grounds 
behind the camp, just like the advance of a vast army, 
was magnificent; and it was still more extraordinary 
to watch the manner in which the fire passed itself on, 
as it were, over the tops of the highest trees, to the 
height of at least forty or fifty feet. The whole scene 
lasted altogether about two hours, and nothing could 
be conceived more awfully grand. The extraordinary 
rushing and crackling sound of the flames was one of 
the most terrific parts of it, and when one considers 
that the grass is nowhere more than five or six feet 
high, it is difficult to imagine how the flame blazes up 
to such a vast height as it did. The contrast pre- 
sented, two hours afterwards, was most striking. In- 
stead of the brilliant glare of the fire, and lurid ap- 
pearance of the sky, there reigned an impenetrable 
darkness, earth and sky being ahke shrouded in a 
black gloom, which could almost be felt; not a star was 
to be seen, and the air retained a suff*ocating, sulphure- 
ous smell, as if Satan himself had passed over the earth. 
We could not distinguish objects at ten paces* dis- 
tance, and were right glad when a fresh breeze came 
gently breathing over the prairie, dissipating the 

The Solitary Hunter 289 

murky vapors still hanging in the atmosphere; and a 
fine starUt sky, with a sharpish frost, at length reheved 
us from the close, choking feeling we had experienced 
for hours before. This prairie fire had travelled at the 
rate of five miles an hour, bringing with it a strong 
gale of wind; for, otherwise, the night was quite calm, 
both before and after it had passed over." 

At Fort Vermilion the Kipp party found a camp of 
Sioux who were dancing in triumph over the scalp of a 
woman. With these Indians they at once established 
friendly relations. The Sioux had a woman captive, 
whom Palliser and Kipp purchased and set free. Here 
some of their best horses were stolen, not perhaps by 
the Indians of this camp, but by others. 

Game was scarce and the white men were requested 
by the Indians who were about to start out on their 
autumn bufFalo-hunt to travel with them, and not to 
move on in advance lest they should frighten the 
game, if any were about. The old-time moving of an 
Indian camp, with its men marching at the head and 
on the flanks and the women with their travois in the 
column, is well described. Scouts had been sent on in 
advance by the Indians to look for buffalo, and orders 
were given that no one should pass far beyond the 

Palliser went out on foot to try to kill some ducks 
along a little stream, and while looking for the birds 
was startled by the sound of a gun just behind and the 
whistle of a bullet passing near his head. The shot 

290 Beyond the Old Frontier 

was fired by an Indian not far from him. Palliser ran 
to him and threatened to shoot him if he tried to re- 
load his gun. Another Indian who came up acted as 
mediator, and explained what had happened. PaUiser 
had not fully understood the order issued by the chiefs, 
and the man who shot at him was no doubt a "soldier," 
trying to make the white man go into camp. 

The next day the Indians turned off toward the 
buffalo and the white men went on, and not very long 
after reached Fort Pierre, the site of the present city 
of Pierre, S. D. Not long after leaving Fort Pierre, 
early in October, they came upon buffalo, which Pal- 
liser is careful to note should be called bison, and on 
the 27th of October reached Fort Union, then the chief 
depot of the American Fur Company's trade through 
the upper Missouri. 



Buffalo were plenty and here PalHser had his first 
run. His views on buffalo-hunting — that extinct sport 
— are quite worth quoting: 

"Buffalo-hunting is a noble sport, the animal being 
swift enough to give a good horse enough to do to close 
with him; wheeHng round with such quickness as to 
baffle both horse and rider for several turns before there 
is any certainty of bringing him down. Added to 
which, there is the danger of being charged by one old 

The Solitary Hunter 291 

bull while in pursuit of another; this, however, they 
will not often do, unless when blown by the awkward- 
ness of a bad hunter, in chasing them too far, when 
they turn and get desperate. 

"The first object in approaching a herd of buffalo 
should be, to get as near as possible before charging 
them; then, rush in with your horse at full speed, sin- 
gle out one animal, and detach him from the herd, 
which you will soon do, and after a turn or two be able 
to get a broadside shot, when you should endeavour to 
strike him behind the fore-shoulder. While reloading, 
slacken your horse's speed to a hand gallop. The 
general method of loading is to empty the charge from 
the horn slung round your neck into the palm of your 
hand, whence you can more easily pour it down the 
barrel; you then take a bullet wet out of your mouth, 
and throw it down upon the powder; by which means 
you avoid the necessity of using the ramrod, a most 
inconvenient process when riding fast on horseback. 
I found it from experience better to dispense with both 
powderhorn, ramrod, and copper caps altogether, and 
use a light self-priming flint gun, carrying the powder 
loose in the skirt pockets of my shooting-coat, and 
thereby having no further delay than to thrust my 
hand in for it and empty it down the barrel of my 
gun; accuracy in quantity at such close quarters being 
of small importance. Taking the bullet from the 
mouth is both the quickest and safest method of load-c 
ing; quicker than fumbUng for it in your pocket, and 

292 Beyond the Old Frontier 

safer, because its being wet causes it to stick for a 
moment without rolling forward on depressing the 
muzzle to take aim; and my brother sportsmen are 
doubtless aware of the danger of leaving an empty 
space in the barrel between the powder and the ball. 
I would not, however, recommend any one to depend 
too much upon the detention of the wet bullet, but to 
fire immediately on lowering the muzzle. I ought 
here to mention, that in running buffalo, you never 
bring the gun to your shoulder in firing, but present it 
across the pummel of the saddle, calculating the angle 
with your eye and steadying yourself momentarily by 
standing in the stirrups as you take aim. This is diffi- 
cult to do at first, and requires considerable practice; 
but the facility once acquired, the ease and unerring 
steadiness with which you can shoot is most satisfac- 
tory, and any one accustomed to this method con- 
demns ever afterward the Hfting of a gun to the 
shoulder whilst riding at speed, as the most awkward 
and unscientific bungling. 

*'We drew up our horses, and proceeded to skin and 
cut up the animals, and were soon joined by the drays 
despatched from the fort for the purpose of taking 
home the meat. What we had killed that day was very 
good and tolerably fat. I have before adverted to the 
excellence of bison beef, and the superiority of its fat 
over that of the domestic ox; but before leaving the 
subject, I will state two instances in which I myself 
saw this superiority fully estabUshed. 

The Solitary Hunter 293 

"Old Mr. Kipp, at Christmas, thinking to give all 
the employes and voyageurs of the Fur Company at 
Fort Union a great treat, had for some time previously 
been fattening up a very nice small-boned heifer cow, 
which was killed in due time, in prime condition. All 
who had been reckoning on the treat this would afford 
them, sat down in high expectation of the ensuing feast; 
but after eating a little while in silence, gradually 
dropped off one by one to the bison meat, which was 
also on the table, and were finally unanimous in con- 
demning the beef, which they said was good enough, 
but nothing remarkable, and the fat sickening. A 
plate-full of it was also given, as ordinary buffalo 
beef, to an Indian woman in another room at the fort, 
on the same occasion: she pronounced it good food, 
but, said she, *it is both coarse and insipid*; and the 
fat, if she were to eat much of it, would make her 

"I mention these circumstances, having been one of 
the very few who have seen the comparative merits 
of the two meats tested by Europeans, Americans, and 
Indians at the same time, and heard the unanimous 
verdict in favour of the wild bison.'* 

It is worth noting that Indians who are old enough to 
have known buffalo all declare that the flesh of domestic 
cattle tastes badly and has an evil smell. This, to be 
sure, may mean no more than that the flesh and fat 
have an unusual taste and smell, which is disagreeable, 
because unusual. Probably, however, no one who has 

294 * Beyond the Old Frontier 

habitually eaten buffalo meat but will acknowledge 
that it is far more tender and delicate than the flesh 
of domestic cattle. 

During the winter hunting was continuous. In- 
dians constantly came to the post to trade or to beg. 
An interesting visitor was old Bill Williams, a famous 
trapper of that day, who had long been believed dead. 
He was one of a party attacked by Blackfeet, when 
all except WilHams had been killed. 

This winter Palliser witnessed a fight between the 
Sioux and the Assiniboines which seems to have re- 
sulted in a draw, though one Sioux was killed. These 
Sioux, by the way, were very troublesome and had shot 
many of the milch cows, and, more serious than all, a 
fine thoroughbred bull which belonged at the post. 

"The loss of this handsome, noble animal was uni- 
versally regretted in the fort, for besides his great 
value as their only means of continuing the breed of 
domestic cattle in that remote region, he proved most 
useful in drawing home many a heavy load of meat, 
and much of the wood for the fuel in the fort; as a 
tribute to his memory, I must here record a single 
combat of his with a bison, which, according to the 
description of his keeper, 'Black Joseph,' must have 
been truly Homeric. 

"About three months previous to my arrival at Fort 
Union, and in the height of the buffalo breeding sea- 
son, when their bulls are sometimes very fierce, Joe 
was taking the Fort Union bull, with a cart, into a 

The Solitary Hunter 295 

point on the river above the fort, in order to draw 
home a load of wood, which had been previously cut 
and piled ready for transportation the day before, 
when a very large old bison bull stood right in the cart 
track, pawing up the earth, and roaring, ready to dis- 
pute the passage with him. On a nearer approach, in- 
stead of flying at the sight of the man that accompanied 
the cart, the bison made a headlong charge. Joe had 
barely time to remove his bull's head-stall and escape 
up a tree, being utterly unable to assist his four-footed 
friend, whom he left to his own resources. Bison and 
bull, now in mortal combat, met midway with a shock 
that made the earth tremble. Our previously docile 
gentle animal suddenly became transformed into a 
furious beast, springing from side to side, whirling 
round as the buflFalo attempted to take him in flank, 
alternately upsetting and righting the cart again, 
which he banged from side to side, and whirled about 
as if it had been a band-box. Joe, safe out of harm's 
way, looked down from the tree at his champion's 
proceedings, at first deploring the apparent disadvan- 
tage he laboured under, from being harnessed to a cart; 
but when the fight had lasted long and furious, and it 
was evident that both combatants had determined 
that one or other of them must fall, his eyes were 
opened to the value of the protection afforded by the 
harness, and especially by the thick strong shafts of 
the cart against the short horns of the bison, who, 
although he bore him over and over again down on his 

296 Beyond the Old Frontier 

haunches, could not wound him severely. On the 
other hand, the long sharp horns of the brave Fort 
Union bull began to tell on the furrowed sides of his 
antagonist, until the final charge brought the bison, 
with a furious bound, dead under our hero's feet, whose 
long fine-drawn horn was deep driven into his adver- 
sary's heart. With a cheer that made the woods ring 
again, down clambered Joe, and while triumphantly 
caressing, also carefully examined his chivalrous com- 
panion, who, although bruised, blown, and covered 
with foam, had escaped uninjured. 

**It required all Joe's nigger eloquence to persuade 
the bull to leave the slain antagonist, over whom he 
long stood watching, evidently expecting him to get up 
again to renew the combat, Joe all the time coaxing 
him forward with, 'Him dear good bull, him go home 
now, and do no more work to-day,' which prospect, 
black Joe, in common with all his sable brethren, con- 
sidered as the acme of sublunary fehcity." 

During this winter the people at Fort Union were 
attacked by an epidemic which laid up many of them. 
Those who were not incapacitated by illness were, 
therefore, obhged to hunt the harder to supply the post 
with food, for in that country and at that time food 
meant meat almost exclusively. Buffalo-running in 
winter is often hard work, and when to the winter 
weather are added the difficulties of deep snow, the 
work becomes not only hard but dangerous. Some in- 
cidents of a winter run are given in PaUiser's account 

The Solitary Hunter 297 

of his killing some meat four or five miles from the post. 
He "had a splendid run, flooring a cow and wounding a 
bull, which I left for the present, and then stretching 
away at full speed, I pursued after another uncom- 
monly fine fat cow. She gave me an awful chase, 
turning and doubhng incessantly. My little horse was 
sorely at a disadvantage in the snow and began to show 
symptoms of distress; but I could not manage to get a 
broadside shot. At last making one more push, I got 
pretty close behind her and raising myself in my stir- 
rups fired down upon her. . . . She dropped at the re- 
port, the bullet breaking her spine. My little horse, 
unable to stop himself, rolled right over her, making a 
complete somersault, and sending me, gun and all, 
flying clean over both of them into a snowdrift. I 
leaped up, ran back to my horse, which I caught with- 
out much difficulty, and was glad to find no more hurt 
than myself. My gun was filled with snow, of course, 
but otherwise uninjured." 

The friendly relations between the domestic cattle 
and the buff*alo caused PalHser much surprise, for he 
was unaware that cattle and buff'alo associate inti- 
mately and sometimes interbreed. 

Cases have been recorded where buff'alo in their 
stampede have carried off* considerable numbers of cat- 
tle, which became as wild as the buff'alo with which 
they associated. Another point new to Palhser, and 
perhaps not well understood by naturalists at present, 
is the fact that buff'alo do not, as a rule, use their 

298 Beyond the Old Frontier 

hoofs to remove the snow from the ground, but push 
the snow aside with the nose. PaUiser says: "I was 
still more astonished, on attentively observing this 
friendly intercourse, to see our Httle calves apparently 
preferring the companionship of the bison, particu- 
larly that of the most colossal bulls, to that of their 
own species. I took an opportunity one morning of 
investigating the reason of this more closely, and avail- 
ing myself of some broken ground, beyond which I 
saw three of our poor Httle half-starved calves in com- 
pany with two gigantic bulls, I crept up very carefully, 
and lay under the brow of a hill, not fifty yards from 
the nearest in order to observe them, and was not long 
in discovering that the bison has the power of removing 
the snow with his admirably-shaped shovel-nose so as 
to obtain the grass underneath it. His Httle compan- 
ions, unaj^e to remove the frozen obstacle for them- 
selves, were thankfully and fearlessly feeding in his 
wake; the Httle heads of two of them visible every now 
and then, contesting an exposed morsel under his very 
beard. It was an interesting sight, and I crept softly 
away again, so as not to disturb them. 

** Although the bison scrapes the snow with his nose, 
I do not think he does so with his hoofs. I have fre- 
quently seen the snow, where buffalo have been feed- 
ing, stained with sHght signs of blood, and after having 
shot them, found the noses of both cow and bull sore 
from the constant shovelling." 

Buffalo-hunting was not without its excitement. On 

The Solitary Hunter 299 

a certain day, for example, with an Indian, he killed 
three bulls, one of which was shot four times, and 
though seeming very weak did not fall, so that Palliser 
determined to finish him. 

"Walking up therefore to within thirty paces of 
him, till I could actually see his eyes rolling, I fired 
for the fourth time directly at the region of the heart, 
as I thought, but to my utter amazement up went his 
tail and down went his head, and with a speed that I 
thought him little capable of, he was upon me in a 
twinkling. I ran hard for it but he rapidly overhauled 
me, and my situation was becoming anything but 
pleasant. Thinking he might, like our own bulls, 
shut the eyes in making a charge, I swerved suddenly 
to one side to escape the shock, but, to my horror, I 
failed in dodging him, for he bolted round quicker than 
I did, and affording me barely time to protect my 
stomach with the stock of my rifle, and to turfUnelf 
sideways as I sustained the charge, in the hopes of 
getting between his horns, he came plump upon me 
with a shock like an earthquake. My rifle-stock was 
shivered to pieces by one horn, my clothes torn by the 
other; I flew into mid-air, scattering my prairie-hens 
and rabbits, which had hitherto hung dangling by 
leathern thongs from my belt, in all directions, till 
landing at last, I fell unhurt in the snow, and almost 
over me — fortunately not quite — rolled my infuriated 
antagonist, and subsided in a snowdrift. I was luckily 
not the least injured, the force of the blow having been 

300 Beyond the Old Frontier 

perfectly deadened by the enormous mass of fur, wool, 
and hair, that clothed his shaggy head-piece." 

It was here that Palliser saw his first elk, which he 
describes with great detail, and whose whistle in the 
breeding season he declares to be the most beautiful 
sound in all the animal creation; it is Hke the sound of 
an enormous soft flute, uttered in a most coaxing tone. 

In his hunting in the buffalo range, where, of course, 
wolves were most abundant, PalHser, as might be sup- 
posed, saw many wolves. He speaks with enthusi- 
asm of the splendid white skins which he secured and 
brought into the post. In several cases he observes 
that wolves will eagerly devour the carcasses of 
their own kind. He notes also that they sometimes 
sleep so soundly that a man may walk up quite close 
to them. This is something that happened occasion- 
ally to all hunters. A hunting companion on one oc- 
casion walked to within a few feet of a sleeping deer, 
and commented in low tones to his companion on the 
soundness of its slumbers. 

During this winter at Fort Union Palliser purchased 
a mongrel hauling, or travois, dog, sired by a white 
wolf. The animal was particularly shy of white men, 
and the old woman who sold it was obliged to catch 
the dog twice and dehver it a second time. Palliser 
wanted the dog to haul his travois on a journey he was 
about to make with two voyageurs. His companions 
had a pair of mules harnessed to a sleigh. He notes that 
the mules, of course, must be fed on cottonwood bark. 

The Solitary Hunter 301 

since the grass was now deeply covered with snow. 
Palliser*s dog — Ishmah by name — Uke his master, had 
to depend for food on the rifle. Shortly after starting, 
Palliser and his two companions separated, he and the 
dog to go up the river to Fort Mackenzie alone. He 
travelled chiefly on the ice, using due care to avoid 
the air-holes which are so frequent and so dangerous, 
and never leaving the river for any great distance. 
In the valley, shelter from the terrible storms of the 
high prairie may always be found. Here the two com- 
panions, who by this time had come thoroughly to 
understand each other, found the journey comfortable 
and very pleasant. 

Ishmah's friendly relation with the wolves was 
sometimes very annoying, for often he ran off and 
played with the young wolves, chasing and being 
chased by them in turn. One afternoon, however, 
Ishmah followed a wolf oflF on the prairie, dragging be- 
hind him the travois loaded with everything that Pal- 
liser then possessed. He followed, shouting, but the 
dog had disappeared, and darkness soon obliged the 
owner to turn back toward the river. He was a long 
way from timber and all about him was a vast barren 
waste of snow. The situation was anything but agree- 
able. "I was about one hundred miles from any known 
habitation, and nearly one hundred and fifty from my 
destination, destitute of robe and blankets, with but 
very little powder in my horn, and only two bullets 
in my pouch. In short, I was in a pretty considerable 

302 Beyond the Old Frontier 

sort of a 'fix,' and had nothing for it but to make 
tracks again with all speed for the timber. Fortu- 
nately, I found my way back to the river without much 
difficulty. It was a beautiful moonlight night, which 
enabled me to collect some fallen wood, and having 
lighted a fire, I seated myself beside it, and began to 
consider the probabilities of my ever reaching a trading- 
post aHve, in the event of Ishmah not returning, and 
how I should economise my ammunition and increase 
my rate of travelling so as to effect this object. My 
prospects were dismal enough, nor did I feel cheered 
as the cold north breeze froze the perspiration which 
had run down my forehead and face, and formed 
icicles in my beard and whiskers, that jingled like 
bells as I shook my head in dismissing from my mind 
one project after another. At last resigning myself 
to my fate I took out my pipe, determined to console 
myself with a smoke, when, alas! on feeling for to- 
bacco I found that was gone too. This was the cli- 
max of my misfortune! I looked to the north star 
and calculated by the position of the Plough that it 
must have been about ten o'clock, the time at which 
in England we have our knees under the mahogany, 
surrounded by friends, discussing a bottle of the best, 
and awaiting the summons to tea in the drawing-room. 
I tried to see a faint similarity to the steam of the tea- 
urn in the smoke from the snow-covered wood on my 
dreary fire, and endeavoured to trace the forms of 
sweet famiHar faces in the embers, till I almost heard 


The Solitary Hunter 303 

the rustling of fresh white crepe dresses round me, 
when, hark! I did hear a rustle — it approaches nearer, 
nearer, and I recognize the scraping of Ishmah's trav- 
ail on the snow; another moment and the panting 
rascal was by my side! I never felt so relieved, and 
laughed out loud from sheer joy, as I noticed the con- 
sciousness he showed by his various cringing move- 
ments of having behaved very badly. I was too well 
pleased, however, at his reappearance to beat him, 
particularly when I found nothing of his harness and 
load either missing or injured in the sHghtest degree. 
Even the portion of meat which I had secured from the 
last deer I shot was untouched; so that I had nothing 
to do but unpack the travail, make my bed, and cook 
our supper.'* 

PalUser was greatly interested in the Indians that 
he saw, and tried to understand something of their 
ways of thought. He quotes a woman whom he called 
to look through a telescope as saying: "The white man 
know of this — here she moved her hand as if writing 
— what happens very far off, and with this — touching 
the telescope — they see what is a long way off; now 
have they invented anything by which they can hear 
what is saying a long way off?" This seems a more 
or less reasonable inquiry for the telephone of modern 

It was at White River Post that Palliser met an 
Indian who later became one of his best friends and of 
whom he had much to say. They hunted together and 

304 Beyond the Old Frontier 

on their first hunt killed a fine wolf which made them 
several meals. Palliser was unwilHng to eat this food 
until he saw the reHsh with which his companion was 
consuming it; but having made the first step and learn- 
ing how toothsome it was, he hesitated no longer. 

Hunting was constantly kept up during the winter, 
for life depended on it. The weather was, as usual, 
uncertain. PalHser, whose stock of copper caps had 
run low, now went from the White River Post to 
Larpenteur's Post on Knife River with a party which 
McKenzie was sending to Fort Union. He wished also 
to visit Mr. Chardon, who was in command at the 
Minitaree Fort. The party set out on a fine sunny 
morning, and the heat was so great that one of them — 
Frederick — ^who was stout, walked in his shirt-sleeves 
puffing and blowing like a grampus. 

At the Grand Detour — the Big Bend — they at- 
tempted to make the cut-ofF, which is only fourteen 
miles across, instead of following the river-bank for 
about forty miles. PalHser tried to persuade his com- 
panions to go the long way, showing them what a bad 
position they would be in if caught in a snow-storm on 
the prairie. However, the Indians believed that spring 
had come, and they started and finally camped on a 
little stream in the bed of which the snow was deeply 

"Night was then coming on, and it began to rain 
slightly; but we brightened up the fire again, little 
knowing what was in store for us. Shortly after dark 

The Solitary Hunter 305 

the wind veered round to the north-east, accompanied 
by snow, and at last it blew so hard as to oblige us to 
put out the fire, especially on account of the gunpow- 
der. Owing to our exposed situation, the wind merci- 
lessly drove sparks, and even lighted brands, whirling 
amongst us, turn which way we would, as the eddies 
of wind drove furiously down the gullies against our 
little encampment from all points of the compass. 
Old Peekay and his wife collected every blanket and 
skin they could muster. I seized my bufFalo-robe and 
blankets, called Ishmah to me, round whom I put my 
arms, and hugging him close to my breast, shivered 
through the night. 

** Never shall I forget the horrible hours of suspense 
I passed, expecting every instant the feeling of sleep to 
overpower me, knowing the fatal consequences and 
fearing an inability to resist it. I found my faithful 
dog an invaluable friend, and really believe he was 
the means of saving my life; for I seemed to feel the 
caloric, as it issued from him, preserve my body from 
turning into stone. Day at last dawned, and the wind 
abated. We contrived to move to a less-exposed situ- 
ation, where we lighted a roaring fire, and warmed 
ourselves, then renewed our journey, reaching the op- 
posite extremity of the Grand Detour by nightfall. 

"Our supper that night was a very scanty one of 
dried bufFalo-meat, the last of the provision with which 
Martin had supplied us. As for the unfortunate dogs 
that accompanied the Indian Peekay and his squaw. 

3o6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

they, poor wretches had not eaten a morsel for weeks; 
and so awful an array of starved spectres never were 

Fortunately, the next day a bull was killed, and, won- 
derfully enough, by an old Indian who that morning 
had made a special prayer for food. The Indian was 
old and infirm and had not fired a gun or killed game 
for many years, but certainly in this case his prayer 
was answered. 

Palliser found Mr. Chardon very ill with a violent 
attack of rheumatism, but extremely glad to receive 
his guest. To this post a little later came Boucharville, 
one of the most celebrated hunters and trappers of the 
region. He was a French Canadian of the best type, 
but had recently suffered great misfortunes, having 
lost his horses through the severity of the winter, had 
his traps stolen by Indians, barely escaped capture 
by a war-party, and finally broken the sight of his rifle. 

This man Palliser engaged to make a trip back to 
Fort Union and thence on horseback up the Yellow- 
stone River, intending at the close of the trip to 
make bull-hide boats and transport their skins and 
other effects back to Fort Union by water. For this 
trip two additional men were hired, a stout Canadian 
named Perey and a half-breed named Paquenode. 
PalHser and Boucharville were to do the hunting; the 
other two were to keep the camp, mind the horses, and 
cook. In the meantime it was early in April and the 
wild-fowl were beginning to arrive from the South. 

The Solitary Hunter 307 

Palliser was keen to shoot some but had no shot. He 
tried to manufacture it and finally did so by beating 
out lead quite flat, cutting it into Httle bars, and again 
cutting these into little cubes an eighth of an inch each 
way. These were put in a small metal boiler in the 
kitchen of the Fort with some smooth stones and 
ashes and the boiler was revolved until the sharp cor- 
ners were worn ofF the cubes and they approached the 
spherical. With this imperfect ammunition, good ex- 
ecution was done, for of course the birds were extremely 

m ^ 


The ice broke up in the Missouri on the 17th of April, 
and as the rising water forced up the ice, the explosion 
was Hke distant thunder. For over thirty hours the 
river rushed by in a furious torrent, carrying enormous 
blocks of ice and roaring with a splendid sound as the 
masses passed along, forcing everything before them. 

Soon after this the party started for Fort Union. 
They had very little food; some dried meat, a little 
bag of biscuits, some coffee, and a quart bottle of 
molasses to sweeten the coffee. During the march 
they had opportunities to secure eggs from the nests 
of the water-fowl, which were already laying, but even 
with this help, on the fifth day they were reduced to 
one biscuit each. 

3o8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

" Early next morning we were passing along the side 
of the river, very hungry, and making a short march 
with the intention of hunting in the afternoon. Perey 
carried a double-barrelled gun loaded with buck-shot, 
and was walking near the pack-horse, Ishmah and his 
travail following me, when we were astonished by the 
sudden appearance of four antelopes climbing up the 
bank close at hand. Owing to the steepness of the 
bank, they did not come in sight of us until they had 
reached the summit; the moment they did so they 
wheeled round, but not before Perey fired and shot one, 
which rolled down the bank into the water, and was 
carried down the stream. Boucharville and I tugged 
at our gun-covers; his he could not remove quickly 
enough; I tore away the thong of mine — ^which had run 
into a knot — ^with my teeth, and cocked my rifle. By 
this time the other three antelopes were swimming 
away in the broad stream; a Httle eddy in the rapid cur- 
rent turned one of them broadside to me; I fired, hit- 
ting the animal between wind and water, behind the 
shoulder, — its head drooped, as, floating dead on the 
surface of the water, it was carried down the stream 
after its companion. Perey then performed a splen- 
did feat; he ran down the side of the river far enough 
to enable him to undress, — ^which he partly did in run- 
ning, — ^jumped into the half-frozen water, along which 
the blocks of ice were still at intervals coursing, stri- 
king out boldly, laid his hand on the first carcass, then 
with great exertion reached the second as it floated by, 

The Solitary Hunter 309 

and brought both into the bank: this was the more 
fortunate, for half a minute more would have swept 
them past the bend into the rapids beyond where the 
scene occurred, and involved not only the loss of our 
game, but a considerable risk to this brave fellow. 

"The two antelopes afforded us quite a sufficiency 
of food to last until our arrival at Fort Union, which 
we reached early on the ninth day after our departure 
from the Minitarees." 

At Fort Union food was scarce. The Indians camped 
there were afraid to venture away from the post to 
hunt, and immediately about the post white hunters 
and Indians had been hunting until all the game had 
been killed or driven away. 

It did not take long to get together such supplies 
as might be had for Palliser's party — saddles, bridles, 
ammunition, a couple of traps, some coffee, sugar, and 
salt. It was necessary to cross the Missouri River 
from north to south below the mouth of the Yellow- 
stone. This done, a few miles would take them into 
a land of plenty, a region where game was abundant; 
but the crossing would be difficult. The river was high 
and the water still cold. While going down the river 
they were fortunate enough to see deer and a little 
later some elk, of which they secured two. Their 
abundance now made them think of the starvation 
back at Fort Union and, packing up their surplus meat, 
they took it back to the fort to exchange for certain 
much needed things. Among these things were fish- 

3IO Beyond the Old Frontier 

hooks, awls, needles, and, most important of all, an 
excellent four-oared skifF. 

With the boat they succeeded in taking their horses 
and party across the Missouri, and this done they 
cached their precious skifF, burying it under the willows 
on the south bank of the Yellowstone, close to its 
junction with the Missouri. 

Almost at once they found themselves in a country 
of abundant game, and of this game the antelope 
chiefly impressed the author. Of them he said : "These 
march in line, sometimes for several miles together, 
and, by imitating the movements of their leader, ex- 
hibit the most striking effects, resembling military evo- 
lutions: they simultaneously whirl round their white 
breasts and red flanks, Kke the * Right face! — Left face!' 
of a regiment on parade. Obedient to the motions of 
their leader, when he stops, all stop: he stamps and 
advances a step, the slight similar impulse waves all 
down along the line; he then gives a right wheel, and 
round go all their heads for one last look; finally, he 
gives the right face about, and away 'their ranks break 
up like clouds before a Biscay gale.' Stately wapiti 
wandered on the plain, feeding not far from the wil- 
lows, to whose friendly shelter in they crashed the 
moment we presented ourselves to their view. And 
as we approached steep frowning cliffs, overhanging 
the river, I saw, for the first time, the wild sheep or 
grosse corne of the Rocky Mountains, balancing them- 
selves, chamois-like, on the tops of most inaccessible 

The Solitary Hunter 311 

crags, whither they had rushed on first catching sight 
of us." He repeats the ancient fable that the sheep 
horns are so large and solid as to enable the animal to 
safely fling himself on his head from considerable 

He made a hiint for this new game and succeeded in 
kiUing a great ram, while Boucharville got two lambs, 
at this season much better food than the ram, for the 
sheep in early spring, feeding largely on the wild leeks, 
often tastes of this so strongly as to be almost uneatable. 

In this land of plenty the party had a pleasant, easy 
time and lived like fighting-cocks. Palliser's clothing 
by this time was falHng to pieces, and he was obHged 
to replace it by a coat made of an elk-skin, and trousers 
of the hides of blacktail deer. While in camp here 
Indians appeared on the other side of the river, but did 
not discover the hunters. However, the half-breed 
Paquenode, who appears to have been a natural cow- 
ard, was frightened nearly to death and even tried 
to seize the best horse in the party in order to run 

It was now late in May, and Palliser determined to 
build some boats and return to Fort Union, and then, 
taking up the skifF buried at the mouth of the Yellow- 
stone, to row down to the Minitaree Fort about two 
hundred and eighty miles. The skeletons of the boats 
were made of willows, and these frames covered with 
bull-hides. After the canoes were loaded, Palliser and 
Boucharville occupied the first boat and towed the 

312 Beyond the Old Frontier 

second. He sent the other men back to Fort Union 
with the horses. 

Late one evening, as they were floating down the 
river, they heard voices, and presently passed an In- 
dian camp unobserved, and landing a Httle below it 
quietly returned to the vicinity and found the party 
to consist of two old men, an old woman, and ten 
young people. After a little observation, the two white 
men walked into the Crow camp, where the terrified 
children ran away screaming. The fears of the In- 
dians were soon allayed, for Boucharville could talk 
Crow, and the relations between the two parties became 
very cordial. 

While at Fort Union Palliser sent his horses by an 
Indian friend down to Fort Berthold, while he, with 
two of his three men, raised the buried skiff and started 
down the river. On their way an attack was threat- 
ened by a war-party of Indians, while the men were 
out looking for mountain sheep. Boucharville and 
PalHser retreated to the camp and there took up a 
position in the timber, and the Indians, after some 
threatening demonstrations, made up their minds that 
the position was too strong to be attacked and moved 
ofF. Later, the travellers came upon two white trap- 
pers whose arms had become useless and who were 
then engaged in making bows and arrows with which 
to kill game. These two, Gardepee and Dauphin, 
were competent young men and made a valuable ad- 
dition to the party. It was only the next day when 

The Solitary Hunter 313 

Palliser, while skinning a deer that he had killed, was 
called by Dauphin, and as he ran toward him and 
passed over a hill he saw a bear standing on his hind legs 
looking about him, while Dauphin, hidden behind a 
rock, was industriously snapping his useless pistol at 
the bear. When he saw Palliser the bear ran, but was 
brought back by Dauphin, who imitated the call of a 
buffalo-calf, so that PaUiser shot at him, but only hit 
him in the flank. 

"The bear clawed at the spot where the ball struck 
him, and charged up to within twenty paces of us, 
while I was reloading; whereupon Dauphin snapped his 
pistol again at him without effect. Fortunately for 
us. Bruin was only a two-year-old, and afraid to rush 
in, though large enough to have smashed both of us, 
defenceless as we were at the moment, and, before I 
could get on my percussion cap, bolted over the brow 
of the hill. I was still so thoroughly blown from my 
run over the rocky ground, that I gave up my heavy 
rifle to Dauphin, who threw down the useless pistol, 
and started in chase, I following him. He soon got a 
shot at the bear, who turned round, clawed at the 
wound, gave a savage growl, and ran into one of those 
little clumps which always mark a watercourse in the 
hilly country. I took the rifle again, loaded, and pur- 
sued the enemy right into the clump, in spite of the 
remonstrances of Dauphin, and, getting a sight of him 
first, gave him a finishing shot between eye and ear. 
Although he was but a young bear, only in his third 

314 Beyond the Old Frontier 

year, it was with great difficulty that we could drag 
him out; he measured five feet four inches from rump 
to the muzzle, and his claws were three inches and 
three-quarters long. Had he been fully grown, and 
possessed of that amount of courage and ferocity with 
which the old grisly bears, both male and female, are 
endowed, it would certainly have fared badly with us 
that day. However, we skinned our prize with great 
satisfaction; and I was exceedingly pleased with the 
pluck and daring of my companion, who had been twice 
charged by the bear, and whose pistol had twice 

A day or two later PalHser and Dauphin had a fine 
bufFalo-chase which led them a long way. They 
started in pursuit of a new-born bufFalo-calf, and this is 
what happened: 

"The cow, of course, went ofF, and at a tolerable 
pace, followed by the calf, at an astonishing rate for 
so young a beast. Dauphin wanted to shoot the 
mother, in order not only to shorten the race, but to 
increase our chance of rearing the calf, by cutting off 
the cow's udder when dead; but that, of course, I would 
not allow, and ended the discussion by knocking up the 
muzzle of the rifle which he was using with the barrel 
of my gun. Then bidding him follow my example, I 
threw down my gun to lighten myself, calling on 
Boucharville to take care of the two; and drawing our 
belts a hole tighter, we dashed off again up hill and 
down dale, till at last we stretched away right out 

The Solitary Hunter 315 

along the prairie for five or six miles. By-and-by the 
Httle calf began to shows symptoms of failing, and the 
cow, allowing her instinct of self-preservation to over- 
come her maternal attachment, made the best of her 
way off, and crossing some inequalities in the ground, 
was lost to the sight of her offspring. The little fellow 
then stopped; whereupon Dauphin, who possessed a 
wonderful facility for imitating the calls of animals, 
immediately began to grunt Uke a buffalo-cow, and 
to our great amusement the little beast turned about, 
cocked up his tail, and came galloping back to us. We 
then turned about, and to our great deUght it frisked 
round us all the way into the camp. I was most anx- 
ious to get it to the fort as early as possible, for I knew 
that if I could do so in time, I might by chance be able 
to rear it on pounded Indian corn and lukewarm water." 

The next day another calf was captured out of a 
herd which was crossing the river, and now Palliser 
had a pair which he hoped he might succeed in getting 
to Europe — as later he did. For the first day or two of 
their captivity these little calves were fed on strong 
broth, but there were domestic cows at the fort and 
these reared the calves. 

Shortly after Palliser's arrival at the fort, Mr. Char- 
don died, having first requested Palliser to write his 
will. Boucharville, when sounded on the question of 
making another hunt, declared that he would go wher- 
ever Palliser wished to; and the next day they took 
the horses across the river with the skifF, intending 

3i6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

to hunt up the Little Missouri River and to look for 
grizzly bears in the Turtle Mountains. On the fourth 
day of their journey from Fort Berthold they reached 
the Turtle Mountains. Here they found a war lodge, 
built by a party of Minitarees the year before, and 
took possession of it. Boucharville, an experienced 
man, did not like to remain in this debatable land, 
which was on the border of the Sioux and Minitaree 
territory, and began at once to figure on when they 
could get away. 

Here bear, antelope, elk, and sheep were extremely 
abundant and food was always plentiful. One day 
while Palliser was beginning to skin an elk, just killed, 
Boucharville, who was about to clean his gun, was 
charged by a grizzly, and escaped her by dashing into 
a clump of rose-bushes. The bear, which had cubs with 
her, charged after Palliser, who was running toward 
his horse, which he feared would be lost if it smelt the 
bear. When he reached the horse he stopped and 
faced the bear, which also stopped and stood up, and 
then turned and ran. Palliser shot at the bear, but 
hit her too far back. She stopped to bite at her wound 
and gave him time to load again. Just as he was put- 
ting a copper cap on the nipple the bear rose on her 
hind legs, and he sent a bullet through her heart. 
Palliser was very lucky in that his horse did not pull 
back or shy, and that there was nothing to disturb his 
aim. When the horse was brought to the bear and the 
skin put upon him, he paid no attention and showed 











The Solitary Hunter 317 

no signs of fear, a very unusual thing, for horses are 
commonly very much afraid even of bear-skins. 

After they reached camp Dauphin started out to 
capture one of the young bears, but as PaUiser thought 
the chances of finding them were very slight he did not 
go with him, but afterward regretted this. Dauphin 
killed one of the little bears and tried to take the other 
alive, but it fought fiercely, tearing his clothes and cut- 
ting him with its claws. Dauphin had armed himself 
with a stout club, but, even so, had done no more than 
make a draw of the battle. They now started back 
toward the Little Missouri and on the way saw a bear, 
which, to Palliser's very great disgust, was lost by the 
eagerness of Dauphin. 

At the Little Missouri Palliser went duck-shooting 
with his smooth-bore gun, but coming on the old car- 
cass of a bull found all about it large bear tracks, some 
of which looked very fresh. He drew his charges of 
shot and rammed down a couple of balls, and followed 
the tracks from the prairie until at last he discovered 
a large bear walking slowly along. *T approached as 
near as I could without his perceiving me, and, lying 
down, tried Dauphin's plan of imitating the lowing of 
a bufFalo-calf. On hearing the sounds, he rose up, dis- 
playing such gigantic proportions as almost made my 
heart fail me; I croaked again, when, perceiving me, 
he came cantering slowly up. I felt that I was in for 
it, and that escape was impossible, even had I declined 
the combat; so cocking both barrels of my Trulock, I 

3i8 Beyond the Old Frontier 

remained kneeling until he approached very near, when 
I suddenly stood up, upon which the bear, with an 
indolent roaring grunt, raised himself once more upon 
his hind-legs, and just at the moment when he was bal- 
ancing himself previously to springing on me, I fired, 
aiming close under his chin: the ball passing through 
his throat, broke the vertebrae of the neck, and down he 
tumbled, floundering like a great fish out of water, till 
at length he reluctantly expired, I drew a long breath 
as I uncocked my left barrel, feeling right glad at 
the successful issue of the combat. I walked round 
and round my huge prize, surveying his proportions 
with great deHght; but as it came on to rain, I was 
obliged to lose no time in skinning him. I got soaked 
through before I succeeded in removing his tremen- 
dous hide, and then found it too heavy for me to take 
away; so I was obliged to return to camp without the 
trophy of my conquest. It was dark when I arrived. 
Boucharville and Dauphin had built a most comfort- 
able little hut of logs and bark, and having laid down 
the skins and spread our beds inside, with the saddles at 
our heads for pillows, and a good roaring fire outside 
at our feet, we fell heartily to our supper of elk meat 
and coffee. 

"At daybreak next morning I repaired on horseback 
to the scene of my conflict with the bear, and found, to 
my great dehght, on my arrival at the spot, that neither 
the skin nor the carcass of the bear had been touched 
by the wolves. This fact confirmed to me the testi- 

The Solitary Hunter 319 

mony of the hunters and trappers of these parts, as 
to the great awe in which the grisly bear is held by the 
wolves and lesser animals of prey. If a bear kills an 
animal, or finds a dead carcass on the prairie, he appro- 
priates it; and though many a hungry prowler passing 
by may look wistfully at the choice morsel, it is like 
the eastern monarch's share,/ taboo'; and even when the 
mountain monarch is absent, the print of his paw is a 
seal sufficient for its security. It cost me considerable 
exertion to place the reeking hide on my saddle; but 
I succeeded at last, and cHmbing on the top of it, lighted 
my pipe and rode back into camp. Riding along, to- 
wards noon we descried another bear, a lean, hungry- 
looking monster, prowling about searching for pommes 
blanches y and, to judge from his appearance, likely to 
afford us a pretty severe fight. In approaching him, 
we did not take any precaution to avoid giving him our 
wind, concluding, from my former experience, that he 
would not dechne the combat; but in this instance I 
was mistaken, for rushing away down a ravine, he was 
soon lost to our view. This result, although it disap- 
pointed me at the time, yet gave me a further insight 
into the disposition and habits of the animal, and agreed 
with the accounts I had heard from many hunters and 
trappers with whom I had previously conversed on the 
subject; namely, that a grisly bear will, in most in- 
stances, run away from a man on getting his wind, 
unless previously wounded, or under such circum- 
stances as to make him think that he cannot escape. 

320 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Old Mr. Kipp, of Fort Union, told me that once, when 
on one of his numerous journeys from the States, he 
was in the Indian country, and had gone out of camp 
with his double-barrelled gun to look for ducks; he 
was seen from a distance by a grisly bear, who came 
cantering towards him. The day was fine, and the 
old gentleman did not know which way the wind blew, 
but had sufficient presence of mind to pluck off some 
of the woolly material of which his blue blanket capote 
was composed, and throw it into the air; and marking 
the direction of the current ran a little distance round, 
till he got full in the line of it, and then stood bolt 
upright facing Bruin, who rose on his hind-legs for a 
moment, surveying the tough old man, and then shuffled 
off, shaking his head as if he considered him meat 
rather too savoury for his palate." 

There were other adventures with grizzly bears and 
Palliser recounts a story told by Boucharville about a 
bear which sprang upon the leading bull of a herd of 
buffalo and killed it. Other accounts have been given 
of such battles where the bull killed the bear. 

The time for Palliser's return was now at hand, and 
loading his skins into boats made of buffalo-hide he 
floated down the river to the Minitaree post, where 
James Dawson the old fur trader was now in charge. 
A little later, boarding the Fur Company's steamer 
"Martha," he took his way with all his trophies down 
the river and at last reached St. Louis, and his prairie 
hunt was over. 

The Solitary Hunter 321 

The pubUcation of his book, The Solitary Hunter^ had 
unexpected results. Some time after its appearance, 
the British Colonial Office chose PaUiser to command 
an expedition to explore British North America and 
to topographically determine the boundary line be- 
tween the British possessions and the United States, 
from Lake Superior west to the Cascade Range. This 
expedition was in the field for three years or more. 
Papers reporting its progress were published by Parlia- 
ment in 1859, and finally, about 1863, the British Gov- 
ernment published PalHser's detailed journal, contain- 
ing reports on the geography, agricultural resources, 
and commercial possibilities of far western America. 
Later Palliser was a magistrate for County Waterford 
and, for a time, served as high sheriff of that county. 




WILLIAM T. HAMILTON, who died in 1908, 
was perhaps the very last survivor of that 
old-time race of trappers whose courage, 
skill, and endurance led to the discovery, exploration, 
and settlement of that vast territory which we now call 
the Empire of the West. He left St. Louis in 1842 
with a company of free trappers led by Bill Williams 
— famous in those days — and for many years thereafter 
led the wild, adventurous, and independent life of the 
mountain man. With the coming of the railroads and 
the settlement of the country that Hfe ended, but in 
1907, at the age of eighty-five, he still lived among 
the mountains of Montana, and still made his annual 
trapping trips, keeping up the habits that he had prac- 
tised for sixty-five years. 

"Uncle" Bill Hamilton, as he was long and affec- 
tionately known, was one of Montana's first citizens, 
and the residents of that State were proud of his long 
experience, his wide knowledge of the life of the early 
days, and his extraordinary skill as a sign talker. A 
good mountain man is, of course, a keen observer, but 
Hamilton possessed also a retentive memory which 
enabled him in his later years to make valuable contri- 


326 Beyond the Old Frontier 

butions to the history of the early West, which have 
been recorded in the proceedings of the Montana His- 
torical Society, in his book My Sixty Years on the 
Plainsy pubUshed in 1905, and in the present account, 
which was published in Forest and Stream in the spring 
of 1907. 

It was in the year 1855 that Governor 1. 1. Stephens, 
called by the Indians "The Short Man," made, at the 
mouth of the Judith River, the first treaty with the 
Indians of northern Montana. The object of this 
treaty was to bring about a general peace among the 
different tribes, which had long been at war with one 
another. Like many efforts of this kind, the treaty 
had no lasting effect. 

This story deals with another attempt to put an end 
to intertribal wars made ten years later, in 1865, by 
General Francis Meagher and other commissioners. 
WiUiam T. Hamilton was sent out to try to induce the 
various tribes to come into Fort Benton and attend 
this council. Some of the tribes were brought in and 
a treaty was made, but it did not last long. The ac- 
count which follows is crowded with the lore of the 
plains — information as to the way in which in old times 
people travelled through a hostile country. Those 
who read it with attention, will learn much about 
the ways of Indians and the ways of those who fought 

This is Bill Hamilton's story of the Council at Fort 


The Council at Fort Benton 327 

The Territory of Montana was organized in 1864. 
\ Green Clay Smith was appointed its first governor, 
and General Francis Meagher became acting governor 
with supervision over all Indians. 

From 1863 to 1865 a chronic state of warfare existed 
between all the Indian tribes in the Territory. In the 
course of this warfare, miners and freighters had sus- 
tained serious losses in stock, and many miners and 
cattle-herders had been killed by the Indians. There 
was no protection for life and property. At the mouth 
of the Judith River, fifty miles east of Benton, was sta- 
tioned one company of soldiers, but they were infantry 
and could render no protection against mounted In- 

In 1864 I sold my place at Missoula, and moved to 
Benton — the head of navigation for the Missouri 
River steam-boats, which carried all the suppHes of 
every description needed by the rapidly increasing 
population, which was rushing into the Territory at- 
tracted by fabulous reports which were constantly being 
circulated of the discovery of rich placer and quartz 

When I arrived at Benton it was almost impossible 
to get anything to eat, and I determined that I would 

I start a hotel. I built a log house, hired a cook, and a 
negro for a waiter, gave fifty dollars for an old stove, 
bought and borrowed all the cups, knives, forks, and 
tin plates that I could get from the Fur Company em- 
ployees, and opened my hotel at one dollar per meal. 

328 Beyond the Old Frontier 

I bought some beef steers and slaughtered one on the 
river bank. Two whiskey barrels on end, with three 
slabs on them, set up by the hotel, formed the counter 
of a butcher shop, the first one opened in Chouteau 
County, Montana Territory. I sold beef at twenty 
cents and twenty-five cents per pound, disposing of 
from one to five beeves daily to boats and freighters. 
Presently I was obHged to hire a butcher and a herder. 

In the spring of 1865 the governor appointed me 
sheriff of Chouteau County, which was about as large as 
the State of New York. I was also appointed deputy 
United States marshal. At this time the population 
was a mixed and motley combination. There were 
some trappers and free traders, good men; but the re- 
mainder were Fur Company employees, in all about 
forty-five men. There were some half-breeds, but none 
of them could be trusted except one, Joe Kipp. The 
Northwest Fur Company had bought out the old Fur 
Company and had put I. G. Baker in charge. Carroll 
and Steele, former clerks of the old company, had 
opened a store in Benton, and T. C. Power afterward 
opened one. 

Through the Territorial delegate, the United States 
Government was asked to protect the inhabitants 
of the Territory against Indians, and the following 
occurrences were a part of the eflPort to secure such 
protection. A commission of three persons was ap- 
pointed to consider this subject. It consisted of Acting 
Governor Meagher, Judge Munson, and E. W. Car- 

The Council at Fort Benton 329 

penter. They arrived at Benton early in September, 
and after holding a council determined that the Pie- 
gans, Bloods, Blackfeet, Gros Ventres, and Crow In- 
dians must be brought into Benton and there induced 
to make a permanent and lasting peace. Runners were 
sent out inviting the Blackfeet tribes to come in, but 
no one could be found who would undertake to hunt 
up and bring in the Crows and Gros Ventres. 

At this season the country between the Missouri 
and Yellowstone Rivers was usually overrun by war 
parties of Sioux, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Blackfeet, 
making travel exceedingly dangerous for any one, even 
for an experienced prairie man. 

While they were trying to find a man to make this 
trip, some one suggested to the commissioners that I 
was accustomed to travelling anywhere, and they might 
get me. They sent, asking me to call on them at the 
agency, which was then at Benton, and when I came, 
the governor said: "Sheriff, we want a man to go and 
get the Crow and Gros Ventres Indians to come to 
Benton and meet us in council. Will you go and get 
them for us? We are informed that you can and do 
travel anywhere on the plains." 

"Yes, I do," I answered, "if I have special business 
of my own to attend to." 

The governor said: "The government is anxious to 
bring about a general peace between these warring 
tribes, and also to put an end to hostihties against the 
white people. In a few days a steamboat load of goods 

330 Beyond the Old Frontier 

will arrive, to be given as presents to all Indians who 
meet us in council. We want you to go and bring in 
these tribes." 

"But," I said to him, "how can I go? I have to 
look after my eating house, the butcher shop, the du- 
ties of sheriff, and of marshal. I have two prisoners on 
hand and no jail in which to confine them." 

But they kept on talking and persuading until I 
saw that, as the Western phrase has it, they were going 
to get me into a jack pot. To cut it short, they pre- 
vailed on me to undertake the mission to bring in the 
two tribes. 

I appointed a deputy to look after my business, and 
informed the commissioners that I must have a certain 
Piegan Indian as companion, and asked them to send 
a runner to Little Dog, the chief, with a paper, asking 
him to send Eagle Eye to Benton as soon as possible. 
In two days Eagle Eye was there. I had christened 
him Jack. I had once saved his life. He was a cool 
and brave man, and would die for me if called on to 
do so. He had been with me on two former trips. 

I was at the agency when Jack arrived, and when I 
told him what was wanted of him, he gave a warwhoop 
that startled the commissioners. I owned two of the 
fastest horses in the country, and got two good horses 
for Jack. I selected one pack-horse, a fast one which 
would follow Hke a dog. I took some tobacco and 
some food with which to feast the Indians, calculating 
to put about seventy-five pounds on the pack-horse. 

The Council at Fort Benton 331 

Brief digression may be interesting, and perhaps use- 
ful. I had a pair of Spanish panniers made of canvas 
or leather fastened together and hung over the pack- 
saddle. At the bottom of the ofF-side pannier was a 
four-inch strap ending in a buckle. On the nigh-side 
pannier a strap was fastened at the bottom, and these 
straps were buckled together under the horse's belly. 
This held both panniers down close to the horse's body. 
The panniers can be made of any size, according to the 
amount one wishes to pack. Mine would carry one 
hundred pounds of assorted goods. In case of emer- 
gency, the animal being saddled, you can place the pan- 
niers on the saddle, cinch, mount, and be off in twenty 

On my best horse I kept day and night an Indian 
pad-saddle as a substitute for a riding-saddle. Its 
weight was ten pounds; the horse wore a hackamore for 
a bridle, and the reins were tied to the horse's mane. 
This was a useful precaution in case of being surprised 
or jumped by Indians and not having time to saddle. 
Such an occurrence may take place notwithstanding all 
your alertness. My other horse I rode with a Cali- 
fornia saddle. Jack was similarly fitted out, except that 
he had two Indian pads. I had bought from Judge E. 
R. Munson the first Henry rifle that ever came into the 
Territory, paying him one hundred and six dollars in 
gold-dust. I had two .45 cahbre Colt's revolvers. 
Jack had a Sharp's rifle, using paper caps that I had 
given to him some time before. I got him two .45 

332 Beyond the Old Frontier 

calibre Remington revolvers. He had also his bow and 

On the second day after Jack's arrival we packed 
up at the agency, a number of persons being present. 
The commissioners could not understand why we were 
so heavily armed, since we were going on a peaceful 
message for the government. Their questions and 
manifest ignorance of Indians brought a smile to the 
faces of many of those present, as if a war party would 
care what business we were engaged in, or, if they did 
care, would stop to ask. After a while we shook hands 
with our friends and started. Many of them said, 
"Look out. Bill, this is Hkely to be your last trip," but 
I felt that, being armed as we were, no small party 
would get the **age" on us. 

Jack had told me that a Piegan war party which had 
returned a few days before had informed him that the 
Crows had been camped at Medicine Springs between 
the Moccasin Mountains, that being about ninety miles 
from Benton as the crow flies, but had moved their 
village some days before. He also told me there were 
three Blackfeet war parties out after Crows and Gros 
Ventres. We should have to look out for them. With 
this information as to where to pick up the trail, it 
would be easy for us to locate the Crow village, unless 
we met hostile war parties. For about half the dis- 
tance to the Medicine Springs the country is very 

We forded the Missouri River and struck across a 

The Council at Fort Benton 333 

rolling country to Arrow Creek, thirty miles from Ben- 
ton, and reached the creek about sixteen miles east of 
Rattling Buttes. These buttes, at the east end of the 
Highwood Mountains, were in a dangerous country. 
It was a famous resort for war parties, and game of 
all kinds was abundant. Here we stood guard turn 
about. Because you see no Indians nor signs of any, 
it does not follow that none are in the neighborhood. 
In a hostile or semi-hostile country never trust to ap- 
pearances, but be as much on the alert as if you knew 
the enemy was in close proximity. Have everything 
ready for action either to defend your position or to 

The next morning before daylight we built a fire out 
of dry willows and made coffee. Our bill of fare was 
pemican and crackers. We had discovered a few 
buffalo feeding over a ridge near camp, and I asked 
Jack to try to get one with an arrow. It was too dan- 
gerous to use a gun to kill this game. If any Indians 
were within hearing, the report would have brought 
them to us in force, and might have caused us annoy- 
ance. Many a party has come to grief from the lack 
of such knowledge. Jack went off, and in a short time 
returned with the tongue, the hump, and one depouilUy 
which we used as a substitute for bread. By this time 
I had the stock ready to start. 

After viewing the surrounding country from a high 
knoll and observing no signs of danger, we started. 
We had to pass over a broken country between Arrow 

334 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Creek and Wolf Creek, a distance of some eighteen 
miles. As we passed over a high ridge far over to our 
right, perhaps seven miles, we discovered about one 
hundred buffalo on a stampede. We left the ridge and 
approached a hill that had some trees upon it, and from 
this point looked over the country in order to learn, if 
possible, what had caused the buffalo to "raise," for 
buffalo seldom stampede unless they are frightened by 
somebody in the vicinity. We discovered nothing, and 
at length went on to Wolf Creek, where, on the south 
side of the stream, we came across foot-tracks where 
seven men had been walking. Jack declared that they 
were Blackfeet. They had passed along that morning. 
Evidently they had tried to find the Crow village, but 
had missed it. I told Jack that this war party would 
go to Deep Creek, and would run off some miners' 
horses, and would also take in a miner if the opportu- 
nity offered. Afterward we learned that some war 
party about this time did kill a miner and run off a 
number of horses. 

We passed on, travelling in draws and hollows as 
much as possible, until we reached Willow Creek. 
The antelope and a few buffalo were feeding quietly; 
a sure sign that no Indians were about, and that there 
had been none before our arrival. The grass was good, 
and we camped and cooked our tongue, enjoying a 
feast fit for the gods of old, as mountain men have it. 

We did not travel fast or far, but kept our horses in 
prime condition, so that, if in case of any emergency 

The Council at Fort Benton 335 

we were forced to make fast time, we could get away 
and keep from being made bald-headed. 

We were not disturbed during the night, and the 
next morning were ofF at daylight. The game still fed 
about us undisturbed. We crossed Plum Creek (Judith 
River) and discovered several pony tracks some days 
old. We concluded that the riders were Crows. 

At length we got to the Medicine Springs between 
the Moccasin Mountains. The Crow village had been 
there, but had gone. We followed their trail until 
dark, and camped at the east end of the Judith Moun- 
tains. The next morning Jack went to the top of a 
high butte, called Black Butte, and swept the surround- 
ing prairie with a powerful field-glass, but discovered no 
sign of village smokes. Now began the dangerous part 
of our trip. A comparatively open country lay before 
us. To follow the lodge-pole trail was dangerous, yet 
that was our only means of finding the Crow village. 
All Indian war parties are Hkely to follow the village 
trail of those they are after. Jack said that there were 
two more Blackfeet war parties out besides the one 
that had gone up Wolf Creek, but these parties we did 
not fear, because they were on foot. The result might 
be different if we came in contact with either Sioux, 
Cheyennes, or Arapahoes, who always go to war 
mounted, and in force. We could easily stand off 
eight or twelve Indians, but fifty or one hundred is a 
different matter. Nevertheless, we had to take the 

336 Beyond the Old Frontier 

Before starting we put everything in prime order. 
If some persons had been present I think they would 
have beHeved that we were preparing for a desperate 
fight or a desperate retreat. 

From our camp in the Judith Mountains the big 
bend of the Musselshell River and the Bull Mountains 
were fifty miles to the southeast. There we expected 
to find the Crow village, unless prevented by hostile 
war parties. 

We travelled on at a five-mile gait, carefully watching 
the trail for fresh tracks, either of men or horses. If 
either should be discovered, we would have to act ac- 
cording to circumstances. In front of us and on either 
flank a few scattered buffalo and antelope were feeding 

About 2 P.M. we reached Flat Willow Creek, just 
above where Box Elder Creek flows into it. Jack 
mounted his best horse and made a circle three-quar- 
ters of a mile in diameter, to see if he could discover 
any Indian signs. I went to the crest of a high ridge, 
and with my glasses thoroughly swept the surrounding 
country without seeing any sign of a village smoke, 
then returned to where I had left the horses. When 
Jack returned I could see by his look that he had dis- 
covered something that troubled him. When I asked 
him what he had found he pointed up the creek and 
said: ** South of that butte are the pony tracks of a 
mounted party of twenty-five going toward the south 
end of the Bull Mountains." If this party was hostile. 

The Council at Fort Benton 337 

it was the scouting party from some larger one, or it 
might be a scouting party of Crows. We had no means 
of knowing which. In any case, we had to do one thing 
first of all, and that was to let our animals refresh them- 
selves. One of us kept a good lookout, while the other 
unsaddled one horse at a time, gave him a bath from 
the stream, dried, and resaddled him; repeating this 
until all the horses had had their bath. Such treat- 
ment refreshes a horse more than anything that you 
can do for him. All mountain men and many Indian 
tribes understand the secret. 

We were now in the most dangerous part of the coun- 
try from the Pan Handle of Texas to the British line. 
As an expert scout would say, "you must see all around 
you; must have eyes in every part of your head.'' 

Dick, my best horse, was possessed of almost human 
intelligence. I had trained him to come to me on a run 
at a whistle, as almost any horse can be trained with a 
little patience. I mounted Dick, leaving Jack with the 
outfit. I went up the stream and picked up the trail 
that he had described and followed it. As Jack had 
said, it led toward the south end of Bull Mountains. 
When I reached a ridge on which were some trees, a 
plateau lay before me about one mile in extent and 
ending in a broken country with scattering trees. I 
could see that the trail led directly through a cluster 
of pines. I got into a draw, or low place, which ran 
down toward the Musselshell River and followed it 
down, hoping or expecting to come across the trail of 

338 Beyond the Old Frontier 

the village. I followed the draw until within half a 
mile of the river, and then rode back across the country 
to Jack, without discovering anything. 

Flat Willow Creek rises in the southeast end of the 
Big Snowy Mountains. A large war-party could ren- 
dezvous there and send out small scouting parties, 
learn if any enemies were in the vicinity, return, and 
report. To a war party all human beings are considered 
enemies, except the members of their own party. 

I asked Jack what he thought of this party, whose 
trail he had found. The trail was not over a day old. 
He repHed it was either a scouting war party, or a 
scouting party sent out by the Crow chief to find out 
if any enemies were in the country. I had come to this 
same conclusion, for in years past I had been out with 
many such parties on different occasions. At all 
events, if this party were enemies of the Crows, they 
had not as yet struck either the village or the lodge- 
pole trail, where the village had passed along. One 
thing was noticeable in this section. It was in the 
centre of the buffalo grazing ground at this season of 
the year, and yet as far as a powerful glass could view 
the surrounding country no buffalo were to be seen; 
though there was abundant sign where they had been 
not many days before. On the other hand, we could 
discover no signs where a run had been made. If any- 
body had been chasing the buffalo many carcasses 
would be in evidence on every side. A few antelope 
were to be seen, but they were shy and constantly on 

The Council at Fort Benton 339 

the watch, a sure sign that Indians had passed over 
the country. 

It would be very instructive to writers of Indian lore 
if they could travel with an expert scout or with an 
Indian war party and observe their actions — their cau- 
tion and the care taken to avoid being seen by their 
enemies and to circumvent them. . They learn by the 
actions of animals and by the flight of birds if enemies 
are near, or of the people who have passed through, 
or who may yet be hidden in, some section of the coun- 
try. Jack was an expert in observations of this kind. 
Not the flight of a bird escaped his eagle eye. 

We remained here about two and a half hours. The 
horses had eaten, and were refreshed and in prime con- 
dition. When we started, we followed the trail and 
crossed the creek, the trail leading down the creek on 
the south side to the forks of the Musselshell River. 
Here the Crow village had remained only one night. 
They had made a long drive the day they got to this 
camp. Jack said that the Crows were frightened and 
were getting out of the country. It had been several 
days since they were in this camp. As it was sundown 
when we reached there, we camped, and the night 
passed without our being disturbed. Breakfast was 
over before daylight next morning. We expected that 
the trail would follow up the river, but instead of that 
it went southeast, toward the divide of the Yellowstone 
River, and when we reached the divide the trail turned 
east. Jack was well acquainted with this section of 

340 Beyond the Old Frontier 

the country, having been here with Piegan war parties 
many times. The east end of the Bull Mountains was 
now some five miles south of us. Like the Big Snowies, 
this is a great rendezvous for war parties. We followed 
the trail, and about one o'clock in the day Jack turned 
north half a mile to a spring of water of which he knew 
at the head of the draw. 

That night we remained there, keeping a careful 
lookout. Nothing happened in the night, and by day- 
light we were ofF again. Jack announced that he 
thought that the Crows would be camped either on 
upper or lower Porcupine Creek. As we went along 
we saw a few buffalo and antelope feeding quietly, good 
evidence that they had not been disturbed recently. 
As Jack was the most expert trailer, I placed him in 
the lead, directing him to keep his eye on the trail, 
while I would keep a general lookout over the country 
for any sign of danger. 

We had travelled some five miles when, like a flash. 
Jack dismounted. He followed on the trail on foot 
for a short distance, and returning held up five fingers 
and made the sign for the Blackfeet Indian. They had 
come up from the Musselshell River. We looked at 
the tracks carefully and found them fresh. The ground 
was sandy in places, and where an Indian's foot had 
been, we discovered grains of sand still active, unsettled, 
dropping down from the sides of the track, a sure sign 
that they had been made recently. The same sign holds 
good with horse tracks, and this sign can be read by 


The Council at Fort Benton 341 

any person with a quick eye. Let him put his foot on 
some sand and then carefully and patiently watch how 
long it takes for the sand to become inactive. All such 
signs are carefully studied by mountaineers and In- 
dians. It was plain enough to us. We went on, keep- 
ing a sharp lookout. Some three-quarters of a mile 
before us, we could see some timbered buttes, and the 
trail led directly toward these trees. There was a pos- 
sibility that those five Indians might be there, and we 
put our tools in condition for instant use. We got 
within three hundred yards of the buttes, wheeled to 
the right, and putting our horses on a run, passed be- 
tween two small hills and got beyond the first butte. 
Nothing was discovered. When we reached the trail, 
Jack dismounted, looked at it carefully, followed it a 
short distance and returned, saying: "The Indians are 
running here." In front of us were other buttes with 
trees on them, and we were now satisfied that the 
Blackfeet had discovered us and were at this moment 
planning a coup by which they could take us without 
loss to themselves. To avoid being ambushed, we bore 
to the left, keeping a long rifle shot from the timber 
and a keen lookout. We had passed perhaps one 
hundred and fifty yards beyond the first butte, when 
two rifle shots were fired, the bullets going wide of the 
mark. We wheeled to the left, rode behind a small 
knoll and dismounted. Before we got there, three more 
shots were fired, the bullets coming unpleasantly close, 
but doing no harm. 

342 Beyond the Old Frontier 

We had no sooner dismounted than five Indians 
charged us with a yell, for they made sure they had us. 
Our outfit was a tempting bait for them. There were 
five good horses, to say nothing of arms and other 
property. If they had succeeded in taking us in, they 
could have returned to their people as great warriors, 
and would have been allowed to paint their spouses' 
faces to their hearts' content, and these would have 
been envied by all the other women in the village, who 
would not have been permitted to take part in the scalp 
dance that would follow. 

We let the Indians come within sixty yards, and then 
we showed ourselves and ducked. The Indians, fool- 
like, all fired; and, before they could reload or draw 
bows and arrows, the Sharp and the Henry got to work, 
and in less time than it takes to write this, five Black- 
feet were on their way to their happy hunting-ground. 
We got five Hudson's Bay flintlock guns, bows and 
arrows, and other plunder. Jack scalped two of the 
Indians. I took a fancy war bonnet. 

When we got back. Jack told the circumstances to 
his friends in the Piegan camp. They blamed us for 
killing these people, saying that as we were mounted 
we should have run away. If we had run, the Black- 
feet would have been on our trail Hke a wolf on the 
trail of a wounded deer. They are hard to shake free 
from or to throw ofF the trail. Jack justified our acts, 
saying that they fired upon and charged us. If they 
had succeeded in getting us they would have scalped us 

The Council at Fort Benton 343 

both, they knowing him to be a Piegan. He added 
that any Indian, whether Blackfoot, Blood, or Piegan 
that shot at him and missed, must expect to be scalped. 
He was asked if he were not afraid that some of the 
friends of those we had put to sleep would revenge 
themselves by putting him to sleep. I could not but 
admire Jack when he answered them, his eyes sparkling 
like fire: **No! if any one or more want to try that, 
they all know when and where to find me." As it was, 
we would not be annoyed any more by this war party. 
Jack told me that West Porcupine Creek took its 
rise a short distance from here. Passing by this tim- 
bered country, we came to one that was open, where a 
few buffalo were in sight. Here the trail bore to the 
right, going south, and followed a ridge. Jack said 
that this ridge lay between East and West Porcupine 
Creeks. We travelled some twelve miles and, when we 
passed over a ridge, discovered the smoke of a village 
on the lower or easternmost stream. It seemed to be 
about eight miles distant. We moved toward it at a 
Hvely gait, but when we were about a mile from the 
village, we could discern a great commotion beyond or 
south of it. Horsemen were galloping back and forth 
in every direction as if in a sham battle. Jack said 
that he heard shots and that he believed a fight 
was on. We pushed ahead and got to the village, and 
found, sure enough, that the Sioux had attacked it, 
trying to run off the Crow ponies. They had been dis- 
covered by the young Crow herders and the alarm was 

344 Beyond the Old Frontier 

given; and, since Indians always keep their best horses 
close to the village, the warriors soon mounted and 
rushed out to protect their herds. Nothing is more 
disastrous to a camp than to lose its horses, and they 
will fight as desperately for them as for their famihes. 

Bull Goes Hunting, the chief, met us, and, as he did 
so, put his hand over his mouth, signifying his aston- 
ishment at seeing us. He was an old acquaintance, a 
friend, and we went to his lodge. I left Jack and our 
outfit in the care of the chief, while I mounted Dick 
to go out and see the fight. Jack wished to go, but I 
would not allow it, for he might do some desperate act, 
such as to charge through the Sioux and might go under. 
At this time, he was too valuable a man to lose. A few 
young warriors went with me, and we soon got to the 
battlefield. The first man we met was Spotted Horse, 
a war chief. There were not over two hundred Sioux, 
and fully three hundred Crows. We joined in the half 
fight half runaway that was going on; though they had 
been fighting some time, not over six on either side had 
been placed hors de combat, A few were wounded, and 
a few ponies put out of action. Neither of the oppos- 
ing forces showed any generalship. 

Without underrating the Indian, or overrating the 
paleface, I may say that I have been with white men 
on the plains where forty of them would have made 
short work of either of these contending forces. By 
some poetical writers, the Indian is credited with pos- 
sessing Spartan bravery; but, with a few exceptions, 

The Council at Fort Benton 345 

the reverse is true. There are but few mountain men 
who cannot outgeneral an Indian. 

After a while the Crow chiefs got together for a 
council, and the result was more like the work of school- 
boys than of warriors and chiefs. I sat in the council. 
They spoke in their own tongue, half of which I under- 
stood. They also made signs for every word spoken, 
and each sign was as a, b, c, to me, as of course they 
knew. They wished me to understand every word 
that they spoke. They asked my opinion of the fight 
and what they should do. I advised them to call off 
their warriors, to form three equal bodies of men, and 
to charge the Sioux on both flanks and at the front at 
the same time. Then the fight would end, and the 
Sioux would retreat. The Indians gave a grunt and 
said nothing. 

We all joined again in what one might call playful 
fighting. I could see that the Sioux were growing dis- 
couraged, but a desultory fighting continued for a short 
time, when some fifty of the bravest Crow warriors 
charged the right flank of the Sioux and emptied a few 
saddles, but were checked by a stand made by a few 
Sioux. This stand was made in order to give some of 
their wounded an opportunity to leave the field. As 
the Sioux were better mounted than the Crows, they 
outstripped us on the retreat. We followed them about 
a mile, forcing them to abandon some thirty tired 
ponies, which the Crows captured. They scalped and 
mutilated a few Sioux and collected all the plunder 


Beyond the Old Frontier 

on the field. All the wounded Sioux had retired before 
the fight was over. Indians will remove the slain to 
keep the enemies from scalping them. Whites do the 

We returned to the village. The chiefs now asked my 
object in coming to their village. We were now sitting 
in the lodge, where our things were, and I got out 
the large envelope containing my letter. It was sealed 
with wax, and had an eagle stamped on it as large as 
a dollar. All this show had a moral effect on the In- 
dians, and when they saw it they believed that I was a 
messenger from the Great Father. After smoking the 
medicine-pipe, as is customary before a council, I in- 
terpreted the contents of the letter in condensed form, 
the substance of which I have already given. I urged 
the Crows to go to Benton, telHng them that it would 
be to their advantage to do so. They would receive 
many presents, and besides would make peace with 
their ancient enemies. They listened to me attentively, 
and then gave reply in the negative, saying that their 
ponies' feet were getting tender and the animals thin 
in flesh, that there were no buffalo between where we 
were and Fort Benton, and that they must remain 
where they were in order to secure meat for their fam- 
ilies. All this was common sense from their point of 
view, and left me no ground for argument. A Crow 
party had recently been to Fort Union, and had been 
informed by the traders there that the next moon some 
white chiefs would be there to meet the Crows in 

The Council at Fort Benton 347 

council. This proved to be the fact, as we afterward 
learned. The Crows could go to Fort Union by easy- 
stages and be among buffalo all the way, provided 
their enemies did not run the game out of the country. 

Jack gave the Crows the two scalps, the guns, and 
other things that he had taken, and they gave him 
a good mule and complimented him on being a great 
warrior. We told them that another Blackfeet war 
party was out, said to be looking for Crows, but that 
we did not know where they were. We got the women 
to cut some bunch-grass for our stock, in order that 
they might be in good condition to make an early 
start next morning. During the night Jack and I stood 
guard turn about, and many young Crows did the 
same. By daylight we had breakfasted. The chiefs 
had assembled to see us off, and I asked them if they 
knew where we might find the Gros Ventres. They 
replied that we would find them either south or east 
of, and near to, the Bear Paw Mountains. I told them 
that we should try to get them to go to Benton if we 
could do so. It was amusing to Jack and to me to 
listen to the chiefs as they gave us advice about travel- 
ling, just as if neither of us had had any experience. 
Though it was not needed, we took their advice in 
good part. We paid the women for the grass and 

When we left the village, the war-dance was in 
progress in one part, and in another persons who had 
lost relations were mutilating themselves, cutting ofF 

348 Beyond the Old Frontier 

their fingers or puncturing their legs and heads with 
the point of a knife, making the blood flow freely, and, 
as they did this, wailing and mourning the loss of 
friends and relatives in the fight. Jack, whose horses 
were good to lead, had saddled his mule. When we 
started on the back track, we kept east of our old trail. 
We apprehended little danger of meeting Sioux, Chey- 
ennes, or Arapahoes, and we did not at all regard the 
other Blackfeet war parties. 

We made a bee-line for the mouth of the Musselshell 
River, and got there at 9 a. m. next day, for Jack knew 
every foot of the country. No Indian signs were vis- 
ible. We collected some dry poles, bound them to- 
gether with willow twigs, put all our property on the 
raft, tied riatas to the end of it, and, mounting, drove 
the stock across the river, keeping hold of the ends of 
the ropes. The horses were good swimmers, and we 
soon had the raft across. After the horses had been 
rubbed down, saddled, and packed, we mounted and 
were off. Not many minutes were occupied in accom- 
plishing the crossing. We had no time to waste, for 
the Indians might be upon us at any moment. 

We now made a bee-Hne for the Little Rocky Moun- 
tains, and when we came to a creek called Poshett,^ 
which rises on the south side of the Rockies, we began 
to see carcasses of the buffalo in different places. The 
meat had been taken off, and a careful inspection 
showed that the buffalo had not been slain more than 

* Fourchette Creek, southeast of Little Rocky Mountains. 

The Council at Fort Benton 349 

five or six days. As we followed up the creek there 
were more signs that a run had recently been made. 

We had travelled fast that day, and when we reached 
a cluster of box-elder trees, with good grass, we deter- 
mined to remain there that night, unless some hos- 
tiles should come and veto our intention. Before un- 
packing we looked over the surrounding country for 
signs of village smoke, and, discovering nothing, we 
cooked, feasted, and kept our live-stock on the best of 
grass, all the while keeping a good lookout. 

We had breakfast before daylight next morning, 
packed up, and were ofF. Following up the creek, we 
struck a lodge-pole trail going east, between the two 
Little Rockies. After it had passed the buttes, the 
trail bore to the left, going north, and now we saw 
fresh pony-tracks, a sure sign that the village was not 
far ofF. Before us lay a plateau, and beyond that was 
Beaver Creek, where we found the Gros Ventres vil- 
lage. We had been discovered before we got near it, 
being met outside the village by Famasi, the head 
chief, an old acquaintance, who escorted us to his lodge. 

After feasting and smoking, a council of all the chiefs 
was held, and the object of our visit was stated to them. 
They consulted among themselves for some time, the 
result of the council being that they agreed to go to 
Benton, and they asked me when they would be wanted 
there. I told them that the commissioners were now 
waiting for them, and that they had better start the 
village for Benton to-morrow, for it would take them 

3 so Beyond the Old Frontier 

two and a half or three days to get there. It was sixty 
miles as the crow flies to Benton, but I expected to be 
there the following night. I told the chief that he 
had better send two or three of his men with us, and he 
agreed to do so. 

I got six women to cut an abundance of grass for our 
stock. They also built a small corral for us. Before 
daylight the Indians turned out their ponies to graze, 
and by daylight breakfast was over, the lodges were 
down, and the women were getting everything ready 
for packing. The ponies were now brought in. Bear 
Wolf and Star Robe, two sub-chiefs, were selected to 
accompany us. Here Jack traded his mule for eight 
fine garnished robes. He wanted me to take seven of 
them, but I selected four. He packed the robes on 
one of his horses, and by seven o'clock we started, ta- 
king the best and most direct route to Benton, passing on 
the south side of the Bear Paw Mountains. We nooned 
at Eagle Creek, about half-way. Small bands of buffalo 
were seen, and we killed two fat ones. Selecting the 
choicest parts, we feasted as no mortals ever feasted, 
unless they have feasted on fat cow buffalo. 

Our camp was about one and a half miles from the 
mountains. Star Robe, with my glass, was looking 
the mountain over, and when he returned to camp he 
said that seven Indians were coming down the stream 
afoot. Jack said: "Blackfeet! I will stop them from 
coming here!" He stripped down to his breech-clout, 
mounted his best horse, and took the ridge. I had Dick 

The Council at Fort Benton 351 

ready for emergency, in case something should happen 
to Jack. About half a mile up the stream Jack halted. 
Some two hundred yards beyond him the seven 
Indians came up on the ridge. I was watching every 
move made. One of the Indians approached Jack. 
After a short time he returned to the other Indian, 
and they all went back to the mountain. Jack in- 
formed us that he had told the Indians not to come 
nigh us, as they would get shot, but to go to Benton, 
where all the Indians were going to meet the white 
chiefs in council. 

Those Indians did go to Benton, and Jack, knowing 
them, introduced me to them. They laughed at the 
idea of the two of us being able to put all of them to 
sleep; that nettled Jack, and he asked me to show them 
what I could do with my "medicine gun," as he called 
my Henry rifle. At this place the Missouri River is 
about two hundred and fifty yards wide, and on the 
farther, or south, side near the water there stood a 
stone about one foot in diameter. There were about 
one hundred and fifty Indians present at the time. 
I had practised at that rock more than once. I fired 
seven shots at it in rapid succession, and each shot 
would have hit an Indian. All the Indians put their 
hands over their mouths — a sign of astonishment. 
They wished to examine the rifle, but I refused to let 
them touch it, let alone examine it. I was deter- 
mined to keep them mystified about the Henry rifle 
as long as I could. I was oflFered four times the price 

3S2 Beyond the Old Frontier 

I paid for it — one hundred and six dollars, as already 

When I reported to the commissioners, they were 
somewhat disappointed that the Crows were not com- 
ing to the council. I notified the commissioners that 
the Gros Ventres would be here in two days, and that 
two of their chiefs had come here with us. The com- 
missioners requested me to take care of these chiefs 
until the village arrived. I did so, charging the com- 
missioners one dollar a meal for each Indian, the same 
price that I charged the white men; but I ought to 
have had two dollars, as one of these Indians could 
get away with as much grub as two white men. 

Some northern Indians were now beginning to come 
in. Three days after our return the steamboat got 
to Benton. Two days after the arrival of that boat 
fully thirty-five hundred Indians were in camp on 
Benton Bottom. The Piegans and the Bloods had 
about three hundred and fifty lodges. Father-of- 
all-Children,^ the Blackfeet chief, had fifty lodges, 
but doubled up; that is to say, two famiHes in one 
lodge. The total number of Indians, big and little, 
was about four thousand, and more parties were 
constantly arriving, swelling the number. The other 
Blackfeet Indians were too far away to attend the 
council, and besides that, they had no right to be 
there to receive presents from the United States, as 

* MSn h t6' kds, literally, All are his children, but commonly spoken of 
as Father of all children. 

The Council at Fort Benton 353 

they belonged to Canada. The people from the north 
pitched their lodges mostly on the upper end of the 
Bottom, but the Gros Ventres pitched theirs on the 
lower end, some three hundred yards east of the old 
fort. Formerly they had been friends with the Piegans 
and the Bloods, but for the last four years they had 
been at war, and there was the bitterest hatred between 
them. Hence this wide separation of their lodges. 
The council-chamber had been put in order. The 
American flag was handsomely displayed, with other 
decorations. The steamboat had been unloaded and 
the goods stored. This was about the 20th of Septem- 
ber, 1865. 

As stated in the earlier part of this narrative, I had 
been appointed deputy marshal, though I knew noth- 
ing about the duties of the oflice. I asked General 
Meagher what was expected of me as marshal, and he 
replied: "Keep order, see that the chiefs are seated in 
their allotted places, and that the interpreters are or- 
dered to bring all chiefs and principal warriors to the 

At the appointed time, all had come except the Gros 
Ventres. Tunica, the interpreter, returned from the 
camp, saying that the Gros Ventres chiefs were 
afraid to come. The commissioners commanded me, 
as sergeant-at-arms, to bring the chiefs and headmen 
of the tribe to the council. I was armed at all points. 
Dick was saddled, and I went to the village. I got six 
of the leading chiefs, who wanted to bring their arms 


Beyond the Old Frontier 

with them, but I gave them to understand that this 
would not be permitted by the white chiefs in council, 
that no one could enter the council-chamber armed, 
except myself. I gave them assurance that no harm 
would come to them in council, and soon returned with 
the chiefs, and placed them on the left of the Piegans. 
They had been acquainted with each other before the 
war, and had been good friends. 

It was one P. m. when the clerk produced a roll of 
closely written sheets of paper. It looked to me to be 
two quires, the treaty which came from the Indian Com- 
missioner at Washington. The clerk began reading it 
by sections, and then waited to have it interpreted. The 
Piegans, Bloods, and Blackfeet needed but one inter- 
preter, but the Gros Ventres had to have their own in- 
terpreter. It took fifteen to twenty minutes to get 
through with one sentence, and even then neither in- 
terpreter nor Indians understood one-tenth of its mean- 
ing. I saw that it would take forty days to get through 
if a change was not brought about. Little Dog, the 
Piegan chief, told his interpreter to inform the commis- 
sioners that the council would be adjourned until next 
day in order to consult on the mode of procedure to 
be used thereafter and the language to be employed in 
carrying through a treaty with a wild, untamed lot of 
Indians, ninety per cent of whom had no desire to mix 
with or deal with any whites, except to trade for cer- 
tain commodities which they stood in need of. The 
commissioners knew as little of how to proceed to make 

The Council at Fort Benton 355 

those Indians understand their meaning as an Apache 
would know of Latin. 

My eating-house now did a rushing business, for that 
evening I was asked to give supper to all the chiefs. 
It would have been amusing to any one with a knowl- 
edge of Indian character to see the warriors who, when 
they heard I was going to give all the chiefs their supper, 
came to me and claimed to be chiefs. We did feed 
perhaps a dozen leading warriors besides the chiefs. 
I notified the cook to be prepared to feed about forty 
Indians. We had plenty to eat, but no fancy dishes. 
The cook was well up in his business. 

After supper, the commissioners called the inter- 
preter and me to council with them, for they saw that 
some change must be made in the proceedings. We 
told them that they must condense, must leave out 
"party of the first part," "party of the second part," 
"for and in consideration of, etc.," and must state in as 
few words as possible what they desired of the In- 
dians. The clerk got to work, and in half an hour had 
the forty closely written sheets of paper condensed to 
less than one, which contained the meaning of the 

At nine o'clock next morning the council met again, 
all the chiefs being in their seats. The Small Robe 
band of Piegans claimed the land on the south side of 
the Missouri River as far as Musselshell River. They 
ceded in the treaty all their rights to this territory. 
Other Piegans and the Blood Indians claimed territory 

3S6 Beyond the Old Frontier 

along the summit of the Rocky Mountains south to 
the Little Blackfoot River, and thence southeast to the 
Missouri River. In the treaty they ceded all the ter- 
ritory from the mouth of the Marias River up the 
Marias to the Teton River, following the middle of 
the stream to its source, for a stipulated sum to be 
given them for twenty years. The Gros Ventres had 
no land to cede. The Blackfeet also had no land to 
cede, and according to the views of many they had no 
business in this treaty, because they lived in, and claimed 
to belong to, what they called Red Coat Land, namely, 
that belonging to King George. Some of them wore 
King George's medals, and showed that they felt proud 
of them. All the country east of the Teton River was 
set apart for a Piegan and Blood reserve. The treaty 
was concluded by five p. m. All the Indians understood 
what was wanted of them, and the preliminaries were 
thus shortened by at least thirty-nine days. The treaty 
was not satisfactory to all the Indians, but they had 
to abide by it. Without the influence of some of the 
mountaineers — ^who never received any credit for the 
part they took in bringing it about — that treaty would 
not have been made at that time. 

The next day began the distributing of the goods. 
It would take the pen of a Mark Twain to describe the 
scenes that took place. Two days were required to get 
through this distribution, and the goods that remained 
and were to be issued to half-breeds were put in my 
charge, for distribution when the breeds had all arrived. 

The Council at Fort Benton 357 

The next morning the commissioners paid me out of 
the Indian goods for feeding the Indians and for my 
trip across the country, and I had Jack paid for 
his time, also from the goods. The commissioners 
then left for Helena with Agent Gad. E. Upson. He 
knew as much about an Indian as I did about the in- 
habitants of Jupiter. 

About ten a. m., one hour after the commissioners 
had left, Little Dog, chief of the South Piegans, came 
into town and found us. This man was one of the 
noblest and bravest chiefs living at that day. He was a 
friend to the whites, and had killed four of the under 
chiefs of his tribe for warring against the whites. He 
could muster about two hundred and fifty warriors. 
When he found me, he told me that the North Piegans, 
under Mountain Chief, the Bloods, and the Blackfeet, 
had secured some whiskey and were getting ugly and 
singing their war-songs. Little Dog advised the whites 
to remain in their houses. He believed that these 
northern people would attack the Gros Ventres camp, 
and might also shoot at the whites. Some Indian 
women had warned us of the situation just before 
Little Dog came in. Now the agent had a twelve- 
pound brass cannon. We put this in a "doby" 
building which was used as a warehouse, and through 
the wall knocked a hole about twelve inches in 
diameter for the muzzle, as well as several port- 
holes for rifles. There was no one present who knew 
much about cannons, but we loaded the piece with 

358 Beyond the Old Frontier 

six pounds of powder rammed tight, twenty pounds 
of one-ounce balls, and some smaller bullets, for we 
were determined to have it double-shotted. J. V. 
Cochran, who lives in Billings, Montana, had charge of 
the cannon. He was, and is, as game as a war eagle, 
and if called upon, would have fired the cannon if it 
had burst in a thousand pieces. 

We had rifle-pits dug at different points of vantage, 
and there were forty-five white men to defend them. 
At the fort, the Northwest Fur Company had twelve 
men, all of them in the fort, with the gates locked. No 
assistance could be expected from them. 

I mounted Dick and, with Little Dog and Jack, paid 
a visit to the Gros Ventres. They had already been 
warned, had their lodges pitched in a circle, their ponies 
corralled, and rifle-pits dug all around the village. All 
the warriors were stripped to the breech-clout, and 
many of them were painted as demons are supposed to 
paint. Famasi and Star Robe, the chiefs, met us out- 
side. Little Dog informed them that he would try to 
prevent the hostiles from attacking them, and advised 
them not to shoot first if the hostiles came. He de- 
clared that he and his people would be their friends, 
and bidding them good-by, we returned. After looking 
over the ground and seeing that everything was in or- 
der for defence in the town, I went with Little Dog and 
Jack to the village of the South Piegans. The young 
men were busy putting their arms in order for action, 
for they expected a fight. It must be remembered that 

The Council at Fort Benton 359 

at this time bad blood existed between many of the 
North Piegans and the South Piegans, and though 
things were outwardly peaceful enough, a war between 
them could easily have been precipitated. Leaving 
the South Piegans, I rode around to the other villages 
and notified all the chiefs that they must control their 
young men, must not permit them to commit any 
overt act, and must keep them away from the Gros 
Ventres village, or half of their warriors would be 
killed. Jack confirmed my assertion, adding much 
more to it. The chiefs used their utmost endeavor to 
control their young men, and they partially succeeded 
with many. 

The day after the Indians left the boys joked me 
about forty-five men going to kill half of fifteen hundred 
warriors, saying: "Bill had more gall than the devil, 
and could out-blufF six." 

About eleven o'clock five hundred naked warriors 
in their war regalia, painted and mounted on their 
best ponies, which were also painted, went down the 
bottom toward the Gros Ventres village, yelling and 
uttering their war-cries. The ground fairly trembled 
under the horses' feet. Every one expected that the 
fight was on. Little Dog had sixty warriors at the 
upper end of the town. I remained with him, and 
we carefully watched the proceedings below, expect- 
ing every moment to hear shots. The Indians rode 
around the Gros Ventres camp, some two hundred 
yards distant from it. If one shot had been fired 

360 Beyond the Old Frontier 

by either party, a bloody fight would have followed, 
as those Indians who were now held back by their 
chiefs would then have joined their friends. The 
whites could not have left the town to give assistance 
to the Gros Ventres, nor could the Gros Ventres leave 
their village to help the whites. I think that if it had 
come to the point. Little Dog would have joined the 
whites. It was believed by many experienced Indian 
men present that our visit to the Gros Ventres village 
prevented what might have been a massacre, or at 
least would have been a hard fight. There were many 
hot-headed and brave young Gros Ventres, and it may 
have been that our warning kept them from some rash 

Little Dog notified all the hostile bands that if they 
attacked the whites they would have him to fight. 
They were all of them afraid of him, and I know that 
his stand had a moral eflFect. 

The hostiles rode around the Gros Ventres village 
many times, yelling, calling names, and sending forth 
challenges to the Gros Ventres to come out and fight; 
but the Gros Ventres remained quiet in their rifle-pits. 
I learned afterward that it was all their chiefs could 
do to keep their young men from accepting the hostiles' 
challenges to fight. After a great deal of this verbal 
defiance, the hostiles rode back to their camp on a run, 
firing ofF their guns in the air. When opposite the town 
they halted and formed a half circle and began to sing 
their war-songs. After the songs a few approached 

The Council at Fort Benton 361 

within two hundred yards of the agency building, call- 
ing the whites dogs and women, names which were 
understood. The interpreters were directed to tell the 
Indians to stop their talk or we would kill them, and 
presently they rode back to their company, gave a yell 
of defiance, and left for their villages. 

This lull gave us all an opportunity to eat dinner. 
I took Little Dog, Jack, and three other chiefs with me 
to dinner, and just as we had finished eating a fearful 
yell was heard. The chiefs jumped up and mounted 
quickly, making signs to the whites to remain in the 
houses. I mounted Dick and went with the chiefs, 
though many of the men called out to me: ** Don't go, 
sheriff." I had decided what I should do in case of 
a fight. If the hostiles attacked the town, and Little 
Dog attacked the hostiles, I would remain with him, 
for there I would be of more benefit to the town 
than I would be in the building. If, on the other 
hand, Little Dog failed to act, I could return to the 

The yell was given by some one thousand two 
hundred painted savages, each of whom had tied 
from five to twenty yards of calico to his horse's tail 
and started out on a run all over the bottom. CaHco 
of many colors was flying in all directions, and each 
Indian was trying to make his pony step on the calico 
tied to the horse next in advance. They were yelling 
and firing off their guns in every direction. It was a 
wild orgy, such as neither I nor any one else had 

362 Beyond the Old Frontier 

ever beheld, and we had witnessed many a wild 
scene. It was something for a Rembrandt or a Rem- 
ington to paint; the first scene of the kind, and, I 
beHeve, the last, ever seen in the United States. 

[A scene somewhat similar to the one described took 
place in southern Nebraska in the year 1867 when the 
Cheyennes ditched a freight train on the railroad then 
being constructed across the continent. The Indians 
who took part in the wrecking of this train have told 
me how the freight cars were broken open, the goods 
taken from them and scattered over the prairie, and 
how the young men in sport knotted the ends of 
bolts of calico to their horses' tails and then gal- 
loped wildly in all directions, the cloth streaming be- 
hind them in the wind.] 

That night the Gros Ventres, like the Arabs, silently 
moved their village, without being discovered by their 
enemies. The next morning all the Indians except 
Little Dog's band left for the north, to go to their own 
country. Before they left two war parties had been 
organized to raid upon the miners and ranchmen in 
different sections of the Territory. Such was the re- 
sult of this great treaty. 

Before they moved out a few of us visited the Indian 
villages. As many Indians were dissatisfied with the 
treaty, they looked on us with distrust, and hatred was 
plainly visible in their faces and their actions. We 
assumed the authority to notify the chiefs that they 
must control their young men and keep them from steal- 

The Council at Fort Benton 363 

ing from the whites, or war on them by the whites 
would continue. In part the treaty was successful. 
As a whole it was a failure, for a chronic state of warfare 
continued for years. 



Abenakis, 58. 

Abert, Lt., 205. 

A Boy in Indian Camps, 235, 237. 

Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky 
Mountains, 194. 

Adventures on thi Oregon or Colum- 
bia River, 4. 

Agave Americana, 197. 

"Albatross," 36. 

Ama-ketsa, 89, 90, ill. 

American Fur Co., 5, 153. 

Antelope, habits of, 3 10. 

Apache, 138, 154, 188. 

Arapahoes, 154, 161, 188, 260, 329, 

Arkansas River, 128, 129, 130, 189. 
Arkansor River, 278. 
Arrow Creek, 333. 
A rroyo Hondo, 1 47. 
Assiniboine, Fort, 121. 
Astor Company, 5. 
As tor House, 278. 
Astor, John Jacob, 3, et seq. 
Astor project, 38. 
Astoria, 3, 12, 42. 
Astoria, building of, 10. 

Bait for alligator, 279, 

Baker, I. G., 328. 

Baker's Bay, 8, 37. 

Ban-at-tees, 88, iii. 

Bannocks, 88. 

Barbadoes, 194. 

Battle of bulls, 294. 

Battles at Adobe Walls, 154, et seq. 

Battle with Piegans, 95. 

Bay, Baker's, 8, 37. 

Bayard, Lt. Geo. D., 155. 

Bayou Salado, 207, 208, 230. 

Bear hunting, 65, 313, 317. 

Bear Paw Mountains, 346, 350. 

Bear River, 11 a. 

Bear Wolf, 350. 

Beaubien, Charles, 170. 

Beaubien, Narcisse, 170. 

"Beaver," 25, 26. 

Beaver Creek, 349. 

Beaver trap, 79. 

Bellevue Point, 14. 

Bent, Charles, 128, 137, 141, 142, 

162, 215. 
Bent, Charles (the younger), 130. 
Bent, Colonel {See Wm. W. Bent). 
Bent County (Colo.), 190. 
Bent, George, 128, 130, 139. 
Bent, George (the younger), 130. 
Bent, Governor (death of), I44' 
Bent, John, 127. 
Bent, Julia, 130. 
Bent, Mary, 130. 
Bent, Robert, 128, 130, 139. 
Bent, Robert (the younger), 130. 
Bent, St. Vrain & Co., 237. 
Bent, Silas, 127. 
Bent, Silas (the younger), 127. 
Bent, Wm. W., 127, 128, 139, 141; 

(death oO, 158. 
Bent & St. Vrain, 132. 
Benton, 326. 
Bent's Fort, 127, 130, 248. 

(Farnham's description), 158. 
Bent's Old Fort (described), 132. 





Big Bend, 304. 

Big Snowy Mountains, 338, 340. 

Big Timbers, 157. 

Birch bark, 57. 

Birch-bark canoes, 57. 

Black Beaver, 171. 

Black Butte, 335. 

Black, Captain, 37. 

Black Hills, 132. 

Blackfeet, loi, 103, 104, 116, 329, 

335, 352- 
Blair, Frank P., 140, 170. 
Bloods, 329, 352. 
Boast of voyageur, 122. 
Boggs, Charles, 153. 
Boggs, Tom, 153, 179, 182, 188. 
Bois de vaches, 242. 
Boucharville, 306, 311, 312, 316, 

Bourgeois, 92. 
Box Elder Creek, 336. 
Breakfast, Indian, 17. 
Breaking mules, 239. 
Buchanan, Honorable James, 142. 
Buffalo bull, adventure with, 299. 
Buffalo habit, 113. 
BuflFalo hunting, 222. 
Buffalo running, 290, 296. 
Building of Astoria, 10. 
Bull Goes Hunting, 344. 
Bull Mountains, 336, 337, 340. 

California and Oregon Trails 237. 
Calispels, 100. 
Camp on the march, 250. 
Camp on the prairie, 282. 
Campbell, Robert, 128. 
Canadian River, 138. 
Candles, tallow, 185. 
Candy-pulling, 185. 
Canoe management, 8. 
Canoe Point, 113. 
Captain Black, 37. 
Captain Thorn, 7, 9, 24. 
Carcajou, 229. 

Carpenter, E. W., 328, 

Carroll & Steele, 328. 

Carson, Kit, 131, 132, 154, 162, 163, 

169, 170, 179; (death of), 158. 
Cascades, 26, 59. 
Cath-le-yach-e-yach, 42. 
Catlin, 281. 
Cayuse, 44. 
Cedar Lake, 121. 
Chadwick, Mr., 238, 244. 
Chardon, Mr., 304, 306, 315. 
Cheyennes, 131, 154, 157, 161, 188, 

329, 335- 
Chihuahua, 194, 203. 
Chihuahua, game of, 203. 
Chinooke, 8. 
Chinook Point, 9. 
Chinooks, 9. 
Chipita, 184, 185. 
Chouteau County (Mont.), 328. 
Chouteau, Jr. & Co., Pierre, 238. 
Chouteaus, 130. 
Cimarron River, 167. 
Clarke, John, 35. 
Clark's Fork, 17. 
Cochran, J. V., 358. 
Columbia, Forks of, 26. 
Columbia River, 3, et seq. 
Comanches, attack by, 260. 
Comanches, 138, 154, 163, 176, 188, 

Come Comly, 37. 
Comelops, 27. 

Coolidge, Mr., 264, 266, 267. 
Council at Fort Benton, The, 323, 

Council Bluffs, 282. 
Council Grove, Kan., 241. 
Cowlitz River, 72. 
Cox, Ross, 5, 24. 
Creeks {see River). 
Crees, 100. 

Crooks, Ramsey, 24, 25, 27. 
Crows, 116, 312, 329, 332, 335. 
Cuba, 194. 



Daughters of the American Revolu- 
tion, 190. 
Davis, Charles, 179. 
Dawson, James, 320. 
Day, John, 25, 27. 
Day's, John, Valley, 104, 105. 
Dease, J. W., 94. 
Deep Creek, 334. 
Delawares, 171, 175. 
De Lisle, Frank, 239. 
Diamond Springs, 142. 
Diaz, Porfirio, 195. 
Dog flesh as food, 253. 
"Dolly" (schooner), 23. 
Doniphan, Colonel A. W., 142, 204. 
Doniphan*s Expedition^ 132, 136. 
Drinker, Mr., 238. 

Eagle Creek, 350. 
Eagle Eye, 330. 
Eagle Tail Feathers, 138. 
Edmonton, 121. 
El Paso, 194, 205. 
Emigrant trail, 183. 
Eyacktana, 48, 50. 
Eyakema Valley, 44. 

Famasi, 349, 358. 
Farnham, R., 24. 
Farnham, Thos. J., 158. 
Father of all Children, 352. 
Feast, Indian, 60. 
Fernandez, 145. 
Fight at Arroyo Hondo, 147. 
Fight with Blackfeet, 341. 
Fisher, 179. 

Fitzpatrick, Thos., 140, 172. 
Flathead House, 117. 
Flathead River, 102. 
Flathead River Post, ico. 
Flatheads, 100. 
Flat Willow Creek, 336, 338. 
Fontaine-qui-bouille, 208. 
Forest and Streamy 326. 

Fort Adobe, 138, 139, 153. 

Assiniboine, I2i. 

Bent, 127, 130, 248. 

Benton, 326. 

Berthold, 316. 

Fauntleroy, 158. 

Flathead River Post, 100. 

Garry, 5. 

George, 5, 42. 

Jasper House, 121. 

Larpenteur's Post, 304. 

Leavenworth, 132. 

Lyon, 158. 

McKenzie, 301. 

Minitaree, 304. 

Minitaree Post, 320. 

Nez Perces, 71, 72, 75, 94. 

Okanagan, 43, 53. 

Pierre, 290. 

Rocky Mountain House, 121. 

St. Vrain, 138, 139, 153. 

Spokane, 27, 28, 32. 

Spokane House, 95, 100. 

Union, 290, 306, 307, 309, 320, 

Vermilion, 289. 

White River Post, 303, 304. 

William (Bent's), 130, 171, 248. 

William (N. W. Co.), 42. 

Wise, 158. 
Fourchette Creek, 348. 
Francisco, 131. 
Franklin, Captain John, 121. 
Eraser River, 23. 
Fur Hunters of the Far West^ 4, 41. 

Game of Chihuahua, 203. 
Garrard, Lewis H., 132, 145, 237. 
Garry, Fort, 5. 
George, Fort, 5, 42. 
"Gibraltar of Columbia," 76. 
Goat, white, 19. 
Goddin River, 104, 105, 116. 
Governor Charles Bent, 141, 259. 
Grand Detour, 304. 



Greeley, Colo., 154. 
Green, Andrew, 137, 184. 
Green, Dick, 138. 
Greenhorn River, 152, 208. 
Grizzly bear, 64. 

Gros Ventres, 329, 332, 349, 352, 

Hallock, Charles, 176. 
Hamilton, Wm. T., 325. 
Hatcher, 179, 180, 182, 184. 
Hawkins, John, 208. 
H5-him'ni-ho-nah', Freckled Hand, 

Hell's Gate, loi. 
High wood Mountains, 333. 
His'si-o-me'ta-ne, 167. 
Hodgens, 88, 89, 90. 
Ho-nih, Wolf, 179. 
Horses recovered from Crows, 165. 
Horse-taking by Comanches, 164. 
Hudson Bay Company, 3, et seq. 
Hudson Bay Company, With the, 91. 
Huerfano River, 208. 
Hughes, J. T., 132. 
Hunt, Wilson Price, 5, 24, 35. 

Independence, Mo., 281. 

Indian feast, 60. 

Indian tribes: Abenakis, 58; Apache, 
138, 154, 188; Arapahoes, 154, 161, 
188, 260, 329, 33 s; Ban-at-tees, 
88, III; Bannocks, 88; Blackfeet, 
loi, 103, 104, 116, 329, 335, 352; 
Bloods, 329, 352; Calispels, 100; 
Cath-le-yach-e-yach, 42; Cayuse, 
44; Cheyennes, 131, 154, 157, 161, 
188, 329, 335, 362; Chinooke or 
Chinooks, 9; Comanches, 138, 154, 
163, 176, 188, 260; Crees, 100; 
Crows, 116, 312, 329, 332, 335; 
Delawares, 171, 175; Flatheads, 
100; Gros Ventres, 329, 332, 349, 
352» 353; Iroquois, 58, 65, 72, 73, 
100, loi, lis; Kiowas, 138, 154, 

155, 161, 188; Kutenais, 100; 
Minitarees, 309; Navajo, 142; 
Nez Perces, 16, 27, 32, 44, 88, 102, 
116; Okanagan, 54; Palouse, 100; 
Piegans, 95, 98, 99, 100, loi, 104, 
105, 106, 329, 352, 355; Pisscows, 
44> S3; Saulteaux, 100; Shahap- 
tin; 16, 17; Shaw-ha-ap-tens {See 
Shahaptin); Shawnees, 171, 175; 
She-Whaps, 23, 27, 61, 64; Sho- 
shoni, 88, 178; Sioux, 329, 335; 
Snakes, 25, 72, 81, 84, 85, 88, 90, 
100; Spokanes, 100; Suhtai, 167; 
Walla Walla, 17, 82; War-are-ree- 
kas (Shoshoni), 89, iii; Wy-am- 
pams, 16; Wyandottes, 239. 

Indians and Their Battles, 75. 

International boundary, 321. 

Iroquois, 58, 65, 72, 73, 100, lOI, 

Ishmah, 301, 308. 

Jack, 330, 358. 

Jasper House, 121. 

Juarez, 195. 

Judith Mountains, 335, 336. 

Judith River, 326, 327, 335. 

Kamloops, 27. 

Kansas City, Mo., 141. 

Kearny, General S. W., 142, 161, 

162, 204. 
Keith, James, 42, 43, 58. 
Kiowas, 138, 154, 161, 188. 
Kiowa woman, 168. 
Kipp, James, 281, 289, 320. 
Kipp, Joe, 328. 
Kittson, Mr., 77, 78, 81. 
Knife River, 304. 
Kutenais, 100. 

La Bonte, 233. 
La Canada, 148. 
Lake Bourbon, 121. 
Larocque, Joseph Felix, 121. 



Larpenteur's Post, 304. 

Leavenworth, Fort, 132. 

Lee, General, 238. 

Lewis and Clark, 71, 103. 

Lewis Fork, 17, 90. 

Life at Bent's Fort, 170. 

Little Blackfoot River, 356. 

Little Dog, 330, ft seq. 

Little Missouri River, 316, 317. 

Little Mountain, 138. 

Little Rocky Mountains, 348, 349. 

Little White Man, 128. 

Long Narrows, 24, 26. 

Madeira Islands, 194. 

Maguey, 197, 

Malades River, 105, 112. 

Mammoth Cave, Ky., 280. 

Marias River, 356. 

"Martha," 320. 

Maxwell, L., 179. 

McDonald, Finan, 94, 98, 99, 103. 

McDonald, John (Bras Croche), 43. 

McDougall, Duncan, 6, 10, 36. 

McKay, Alexander, 6, 24. 

McKay, young, 44. 

McKenzie, Alexander, 3. 

McKenzie, Donald, 24, 25, 26, 33, 

58, 69, 73, 78. 
McKenzie, Kenneth, 238. 
McLellan, Donald, 5, 24. 
McTavish, J. G., 32. 
Meagher, General Francis, 326, 327, 

328, 353- 
Medicine Springs, 332, 335. 
Men-gs-t6'-k5s, 352. 
Minitaree Fort, 304. 
Minitaree Post, 320. 
Minitarees, 309. 
Missoula, Mont., 327. 
Missouri River, 332. 
Moccasin Mountains, 332, 
Mora, N. M., 158. 
Mormons, 282. 
Mountain Chief, 357. 

Mountain sheep, 221. 

Mountains: Bear Paw, 346, 350; Big 
Snowy, 338, 340; Bull, 336, 337, 
340; Highwood, 333; Judith, 335, 
336; Little Rocky, 348, 349; Moc- 
casin, 332; Turtle, 316. 

Mourning, Indian, 82, 347. 

Munson, Judge, 328. 

Murray, 178, 179, 180. 

Musselshell River, 336, 337, 339, 

348, 357- 
My Sixty Years on the Plains, 326. 

Navajo Indians, 142. 

New Caledonia, 25. 

Nez Perces, 16, 27, 32, 44, 88, 102, 

Nez Perces Fort, 71, 72, 75, 94. 
No-ma-nih', Fish, 179. 
North Platte River, 183. 
Northwest Company, 3, ei seq. 
Northwesters, 4, et seq. 
Northwest Fur Co., 41. 
Norway House, 121, 122. 

Oakinacken River, 19. 
Ogden, Peter, 73. 
Okanagan, Fort, 43, 53. 
Okanagan Indians, 54. 
Okanagan River, 19, et seq, 
Okanogan, 20. 
Okinagan, 20. 
"Old Bark," 259. 
One-eyed Juan, 183. 
Otero Co. (Colo.), 190. 
Outfit for prairie travel, 330. 
Owl Woman, 129. 

Pacific Fur Co., 5, et seq. 

Paint, 239. 

Palliser, Colonel Wray, 277. 

Palliser, John, 277. 

Pa louse, 100. 

Paquenode, 306. 

Parkman, 237. 



Pau-e-sih', Flat Nose, 179. 

Pawnee Fork, 176, 260. 

"Pawnee" (Kiowa chief), ISS- 

Payette River, 107. 

Peacock's Ranch, 155. 

Peck, R. M., 154. 

Perey, 306, 308. 

Piegans, 98, 99, 100, loi, 104, 105, 

106, 329, 352. 
Piegans, battle with, 95. 
Pierre, Fort, 290. 
Pierre, S. D., 290. 
"Pilot Knobs," 90. 
Pisscow River, 19. 
Pisscows, 44, 53- 
Plum Creek, 335. 
Point Canoe, 113. 
Point Chinook, 9. 
Point George, 9. 
Point Vancouver, 14. 
PS-o-om'mats, Gray Blanket, 179. 
Poor (Lean) Bear, 138. 
Porcupine Creek, 340, 343. 
Poshett Creek, 348. 
Power, T. C, 328. 
Prairie fire, 284. 
Prairie traveller, 277. 
Priest Rapids, 19. 
Prince, 85. 

Pueblo, Colo., 129, 130, 157. 
Pulque, 197. 
Purgatoire River, 129, 130, 157, 


Quarrel, Indian, 86. 

"Raccoon," 37. 

Raids by Indians, 198. 

Rattling Buttes, 335. 

Red Coat Land, 356. 

Red River (of North,) 121, 122, 123. 

Red River (of Texas), 167. 

Red River settlement, 4. 

Red Sleeves, 176. 

Red Sleeves Creek, 176. 

Reed, John, 33. 

Reid {Sef Reed, J.), 88. 

Reid's River (see Payette River, 

Reynolds, A. E., 189. 

Richardson, Dr., 121. 

Rio del Norte, 205. 

Rio Grande, 205. 

Rivers: Arkansas, 128, 129, 130, 189; 
Arkansor, 278; Arrow, 333; Bear, 
112; Beaver, 349; Box Elder, 336; 
Canadian, 138; Cimarron, 167; 
Clark's Fork, 17; Columbia, 3, et 
seq.; Columbia, Forks of, 26; Cow- 
litz, 72; Deep, 334; Eagle, 350; 
Flathead, 102; Flat Willow, 336, 
338; Fontaine-qui-bouille, 208; 
Fourchette, 348; Eraser, 23; God- 
din, 104, 105, 116; Greenhorn, 
152, 208; Huerfano, 208; Judith, 
326, 327, 335; Knife, 304; Lewis 
Fork, 17, 90; Little Blackfoot, 356; 
Little Missouri, 3 16, 317; Malades, 
105, 112; Marias, 356; Missouri, 
332; Musselshell, 336, 337, 339, 
348, 357; North Platte, 183; Oak- 
inacken, 19; Okanagan, 19, et seq.; 
Oregon, 4; Pawnee Fork, 176, 260; 
Payette, 107; Pisscow, 19; Plum, 
335; Porcupine, 340, 343; Poshett, 
348; Purgatoire, 129, 130, 157, 
171; Red (of North), 121, 122, 123; 
Red (of Texas), 167; Red Sleeves, 
176; Reid's {See Payette), 107; 
Rio del Norte, 205; Rio Grande, 
205; Riviere aux Malades, 105, 
112; Saint Vrain's Fork, 138; 
Salmon, 104; Sa-mick-a-meigh, 31; 
Skam-naugh, 76'y Smilkameen, 31; 
Snake, 25; Teton, 356; Walnut, 
155; Willamette, 58; Willow, 334; 
Wolf, 334; Yellowstone, 281, 306. 

Riviere aux Malades, 105, 112. 

Rocky Mountain House, 121. 

Ross, Alexander, 3, et passim. 



Rowan, Mr., 121. 

Running down a calf, 314. 

Russell, Colonel, 264. 

Russian America, 5. 

Ruxton, George Frederick, 191, 193. 

Sagacity of wolves, 208. 
Sage grouse, 64. 
St. Louis, 194. 
St. Vrain, Ceran, 130. 
St. Vrain (death of C), 158. 
St. Vrain, Felix, 158. 
St. Vrain's Fork, 138. 
Salmon River, 104. 
Sa-mick-a-meigh River, 31, 
Sand Creek massacre, 249. 
Sandwich Islanders, 58. 
Sandwich Islands, 7. 
San Fernandez, 145. 
San Fernando, 142. 
Santa Anna, General, 195. 
Santa Fe, 129, et seq. 
Santa Fe trail, 127. 
Saulteaux, 100. 
Scalp dance, 256. 
Seaton, Alfred, 33. 
Sedgwick, Major, 155, 
Shahaptin, 16, 17. 
Shaved Head, 138. 
Shaw-ha-ap-tens {see Shahaptin). 
Shawnees, 171, 175. 
She-Whaps, 23, 27, 61, 64. 
"Short Man, The," 326. 
Shoshoni, 88, 178. 
Simplicity of Indians, 19. 
Simpson, Governor, 95, 117, 121. 
Sioux, 329, 335. 
Skam-naugh River, 76. 
Skunk, adventure with, 20. 
Small Robe band (Piegan), 355. 
Smallpox at Bent's Fort, 131. 
Smilkameen River, 31. 
Smith, Green Clay, 327. 
Smith, John, 179, 248, 252, 253, 254, 

Snake Indians, 25, 72, 81, 84, 85, 88, 

90, 100. 
Snake River, 25. 
Solitary Hunter, The, 275, 277, 

Spokane House, 95, 100. 
Spokanes, 100. 
Spotted Horse, 344. 
Staked Plains, 167. 
Star Robe, 350, 358. 
Stevens, Governor I. I., 326. 
Stuart, Alexander, 42, 43. 
Stuart, David, 6, 22, 25, 26, 27. 
Stuart, Robert, 24, 25, 27. 
Suhtai, 167. 

Tailing the bull, 200. 

Taos, 129, 137, 145. 

Teton River, 356. 

Thompson, David, 13, 15, 17. 

Thorn, Captain, 7, 9, 24. 

Three Tetons, 90, 115. 

Thunder Birds, 187. 

"Tod Issac," 36. 

To'hau-sen, 138, 155. 

"Tonquin," 7, 13, 23. 

Tonquin Point, 9. 

Trade for horses, 182. 

Trade for liquor, 181. 

Trade for robes, 182. 

Trade, winter's, 23. 

Trails of the Pathfinders, 24, 31. 

Train-wrecking by Cheyennes, 362. 

Trapper's earnings, 219. 

Trappers' methods, 79. 

Trapper's outfit, 216. 

Traps stolen, 107. 

Travel by ox train, 172. 

Travois dog, 300. 

Tummatapam, 17. 

Tunica, 353. 

Turley, I47. 

Turley's Ranch, 147. 

Turtle Mountains, 316. 

"Twins, The," 71. 



Union, Fort, 290, 306, 307, 309, 320, 

Upson, Gad. E., 357. 

Valley, John Day's, 104, 105. 

Vasquez, Benito, 130. 

Vera Cruz, 194. 

Vermilion, Fort, 289. 

Vide Poche, 242. 

Vigil, 144. 

Vi-hiu-nis, Little Chief, 179. 

Wah-To'Yah and the Taos Trail , 

Walla Walla, 27. 
Walla Walla Indians, 17, 82. 
Walnut Creek, 155. 
War-are-ree-kas, 89, iii. 
War of 1812, 36. 
Wa-si' cha-chischi'-la, 128. 
Westport, Mo., 141, 171, 238. 
White Cow Woman, 168. 
White goat, 19. 
White River Post, 303, 304. 
White Thunder, 130. 

Willamette River, 58. 

William, Fort (Bent's), 130, 171, 

William, Fort (N. W. Co.), 42. 
Williams, Bill, 228, 294, 325. 
Willow Creek, 334. 
Winnipeg, 5. 
Winter storm, 211. 
Wohk'po-hum', White Horse, 179. 
Wolf Creek, 334. 
Wolf-shooting, 68. 
Wolverine, 229. 
Wolves, sagacity of, 208. 
Wolves, sleeping, 300. 
Wolves, ways of, 54. 
Work of a fur trader, 54. 
Wounded bull, 246. 
Wo-wihph'pai-i-sih', Big Nostrils, 

Wy-am-pams, 16. 
Wyandottes, 239. 

Yellow Woman, 130. 
Yellowstone National Park, 90. 
Yellowstone River, 281, 306. 


Beyond the Old Frontier 

Adventures of Indian Fighters, Hunters, and 

Fur Traders 


A series of personal narratives of hunting, Indian 
fighting, and exploration in the early pioneer days. 

Missionary Explorers Among the 
American Indians 


The stories of the first and greatest of American 
missionaries to the American Indians, told largely in 
their own words. 

True Tales of Arctic Heroism in 
the New World 


The true stories of the most heroic adventures on 
the Arctic expeditions from the earliest explorers to 
our own day. 

The Boy's Story of Zebulon M. Pike 

Explorer of the Great Southwest 


"A brilliant story of adventure and achievement." 

— Washington Star, 

Each Illustrated, 12mo. SI. 50 net 


Trails of the Pathfinders 


Accounts taken from the journals of Henry, Lewis 
and Clark, Pike, Fremont, and others. 

The Boy's Catlin 

My Life Among the Indians 

Edited with Biographical Introduction by 


"As interesting a story of Indians as was ever writ- 
ten and has the merit of being true." — JVew York Sun, 

The Boy's Drake 


" Much of the story is told in the words of old 
records, and interesting old maps and pictures make 
it still more valuable." — TTie Bookman, 

The Boy's Hakluyt 


The voyages of Hawkins, Drake, Gilbert, and 
others, retold from Hakluyt's chronicles. 

Each Illustrated, 12mo. S1.50 net 

The Adventures of 
James Capen Adams 

Mountaineer and Grizzly Bear 
Hunter of California 

Illustrated. $1.50 net. Postpaid. $1.65 

The story of the life and thrilling adventures of one 
of the most famous of American hunters and one of 
the first great tamers of wild animals. 

The narrative is given just as it first appeared in the 
simple, direct language in which " Grizzly " Adams told 
it to Mr. Hittell — a style that bears all the marks of 
absolute truth. 

The Grizzly Bear 

Illustrated from Photographs by the Author and 
J. B. Kerfoot. $1.50 net 

" Full of the atmosphere of the big game woods and 
vibrant with hazards of the chase." — Boston Globe. 

" The very spirit of the grizzly is in subtle fashion 
brought near us. The book will long hold a high place 
in the literature of sport."— New York Tribune. 

The Black Bear 


Illustrated from Photographs by the Author and 

J. B. Kerfoot. $1.00 net. Postpaid $1.10 

" Finely illustrated, informing, and entertaining." 

— Philadelphia Inquirer. 


The Boy's King Arthur 

Being Sir Thomas Malory's History of King Arthur 
and His Knights of the Round Table 

Edited by Sidney Lanier 

Illustrated. $2.00 
" Unconsciously as he reads of the brave deeds, the 
boy's heart is thrilled and his higher nature throbs with 
knightly longings." — Philadelphia Times. 

The Boyd's Percy 

Edited by S\.6x\sy Lanier 

Illustrated. $2.00 
" He who walks in the way these following ballads point 
will be manful in necessary fight, fa'r in trade, loyal in 
love, tender in the household, plain in speech, simple in 
behavior, and honest in all things." 

— From Mr. Lanier's Introduction. 

The Boy's Froissart 

Being Sir John Froissart*s Chronicles of Adventure, 
Battle, and Custom in England, France, Spain, etc. 

Edited by Sidney Lanier 

Illustrated, $2.00 
"It is quite the beau ideal of a book for a present to 
an intelligent boy or girl." — Baltimore Gazette. 

The Knightly Legends of 

Or the Boy*s Mabinogion 

Edited by Sidney Lanier 

I I lustra ted. $2. 00 
"Amid all the strange and fanciful scenery of these 
stories, character and the ideals of character remain at 
the simplest and purest." — The Independent. 








F Grinnell, George Bird 

591 Beyond the old frontier