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Full text of "The Black Hills, or, The last hunting ground of the Dakotahs : a complete history of the Black Hills of Dakota, from their first invasion in 1874 to the present time, comprising a comprehensive account of how they lost them : of numerous adventures of the early settlers : their heroic struggles for supremacy against the hostile Dakotah Tribes, and their final victory : the opening of the country to white settlement, and it subsequent development"

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O R, 



Of the Black Hills of Dakota from their First invasion in 

1874 to the Present Time, Comprising a Comprehensive 

Account of How They Lost Them; of Niimerous 

Adventures of the Early Settlers; Their Heroic 

Struggles for Supremacy against the Hostile 

Dakotah Tribes, and their Final Victory; 

The Opening of the Country to 

White Settlement, and its 

Subsequent Development./ 







f o5l 

Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1899, by 

In the offlce of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 


To My 


This Work 

Is Respectfully inscribed. 



By some strange influence upon the jjrocesses of the 
human mind, trifling occurrences and incidents in the lives 
of nations, as well as individuals, frequently assume large 
proportions, and grow in interest year by year as they go 
by. "As distance lends enchantment to the view," so 
time throws the glamour of romance over receding events. 
Belief in these bits of proverbial wisdom, and the hope 
that the mellowing influence of nearly a quarter of a century 
may have likewise invested the unwritten chapters of Black 
Hills pioneer history with added interest, together with the 
helpful encouragement of many friends throughout the 
Hills, first induced the author to undertake the task result- 
ing in the production of this little work. It seemed proper, 
too, that the part enacted by those who stood in the front 
ranks, in the thick of the fray, in the sanguinary battle for 
the settlement of the Black Hills, should be placed upon 
record before they " shuflied off the mortal coil," or, ere 
passing years should leave but a shadowy memory of their 
courage and brave endurance, and future generations be 
thus compelled to accept the story of their struggles and 
heroism as a vague and unsatisfactory tradition. 

The original plan and scope of the work did not con- 
template a full and comprehensive history in all its broad 
significance, but a compilation of all information in relation 
to the Black Hills, obtainable without labored research, 



Chapter I. 


The Dakotahs 1 

First Invasion of Black Hills 4 

First Movement Looking Toward Colonization of 

Black Hills in 1872 5 

Adventures on the Border 8 

Chapter H. 

The Custer Black Hills Expedition 13 

Gold E'ound by Indians 17 

Organization of First Expedition 18 

Chapter III. 

Preparations for the Journey 20 

Sioux City Gold Hunters 25 

The First Defection 27 

Chapter IV. 

Crossing the Niobrara 32 

Bill of Fare on the Plains 36 

Sickness in Camp ... 40 

Almost a Tragedy within the Fold 42 

Chapter V. 

Crossing the Bad Lands 45 

A Death in Camp 47 




An Amusing Incident 49 

First Sight of tlie Black Hills 52 

Chapter VI. 

Crossing the Cheyenne River 53 

Indians Discovered 53 

Strike Custer's Trail and Journey through the Black 

Hills — A Revelation 57 

Reach French Creek and find Gold 60 

Christmas Day in the Black Hills in 1874 .... 63 

Chapter VII. 

Building Stockade ^Q 

Life in Stockade during Winter of 1874-5 ... 67 

Messengers carry out the Glad Tidings .... 75 

Two More Leave the Stockade 81 

Stockade Party taken out of the Hills by the Gov- 
ernment 84 

Chapter VIII. 

Riding out of the Hills on a Government Mule . . 87 

Reach Fort Laramie 94 

Terrible Experience of Troops sent after our Expe- 
dition 96 

AStreet Interview with " Wild Bill '^ 100 

Chapter IX. 

The Black Hills — Its Mountains, Forests, Climate, 

Productions, etc 103 

The Black Hills never the Home of the Indians . . Ill 

Some Indian Traditions 112 

ImmJorration to Black Hills in 1875-76 .... 115 


Chapter X. 


The First to Enter the Bhick Hills in 1875 ... 118 

The First Expedition in 1875 120 

Scientific Expedition sent to Black Hills .... 123 

Chapter XI. 

The Cession of the Black Hills 130 

Advent of Gen. Crook in Black Hills 134 

Miners Leave Hills by Order of Gen. Crook . . . 136 

Miners Return to Hills 138 

The Cavalry Force Withdrawn 139 

Custer City in 1875 140 

French Creek the Mecca of Pioneers in 1875 . . . 141 

Chapter XII. 

Some of the Pioneers of 1875, and how they got to 

the Black Hills 143 

The Major Part of the Expedition 158 

Chapter XIII. 

How Some of the Pioneers Fooled Uncle Sam . . 160 

Chapter XIV. 

Firf^t Discovery of Placer Gold in Northern Hills . 171 

First Locations on Deadwood Gulch 176 

First to bring Merchandise to the Black Hills . . 181 

First Gold Dust taken out of Black Hills .... 187 

Chapter XV. 

Early Freight and Passenger Transportation to Black 

Hills r . . . . .' 189 

Early Postal Facilities in the Black Hills .... 193 


Chapter XVI. 


The Yellowstone Expedition or the Indian Campaign 

of 1876 199 

The Custer Column 203 

Chapter XVII. 

News of the Terrible Disaster reaches the Black Hills 222 

The Summer Campaign — Gen. Geo. Crook . . . 227 

Chapter XVIII. 

The Year 1876 in Black Hills 236 

Some of the Expeditions of 1876 236 

Chapter XIX, 

Montana Expeditions 249 

The Centennial Party 259 

Outward-bound Pilgrims 262 

Chapter XX. 

Chapter of First Events 264 

Second Suit in Equity in the Black Hills .... 266 

First Person Killed 268 

Chapter XXI, 

Custer in 1876 287 

Massacre of Metz Family 294 

Hostiles Returning: from Little Big Horn . . , , 295 

Raids on Custer 296 

Scalped a Man Alive 298 



Rapid City iu 1876 • . 803 

Block House Built 314 

Upper Rapid 314 

Location of Ranches in Rapid River Valley in 1876 . 314 


A Trip from Cheyenne to Deadwood in 1876 . . . 316 

A Personal Reminiscence 325 

Chapter XXIV. 

Placer Mining in Deadwood Gulch in 1876 . . . 332 

Placer Mining Processes 336 

Hydraulic Placer Mining 339 

Early Quartz Mining in the Black Hills 341 

Peculiarities of Miners 344 

Chapter XXV. 

Deadwood in 1876 346 

Sunday in Deadwood — Pioneer Days 354 

Deadwood by Lamplight 355 

How We Celebrated Our Natal Day in 1876 ... 356 

Platting of South Deadwood 361 

First Mulder in Northern Hills 362 

Murder of Wild Bill 366 

Chapter XXVI. 

Indian Raid on Montana Herd . 370 

Wolf Mountain Stampede 373 

Telegraph Line Reaches Deadwood 376 

Failure of Bill for Territory of Lincoln . . . . 380 


Chapter XXVII. 


Black Hills opened to Settlement 383 

Judges of the Black Hills District and Circuil Courts 384 

Highway Robbers and Road Agents 385 

How a Deadwood Lady Saved Her Watch .... 389 

Deadwood Famous Treasure Coach 390 

Chapter XXVIII. 

Custer County 395 

The Mines of Custer County 398 

The Mica Mines of Custer County ...... 403 

Custer City 405 

Sylvan Lake 406 

Custer in 1877 408 

Hermosa 415 

Chapter XXIX. 

Pennington County — Its organization . . . . 416 

County Seat 420 

Schools and Churches 422 

Library Association 425 

Secret Orders — Manufacturing 427 

Chlorination Works — Water System of Rapid City. 428 

School of Mines 432 

Rapid City — Incorporated 435 

Rapid City Fire Department and Banking Institutions 438 

Chapter XXX. 

Horse Stealing Around Rapid City in 1877 . . . 443 
Mining Stampedes in Rapid City 444 


Chapter XXXI. 


Hill City 448 

Queen Bee — Sberidan . . 455 

Rochford 458 

Pactola . 462 

Harney 465 

Hayward 466 

Rockerville 467 

Castleton, Sitting Bull, Silver City, and Keystone . 472 

Chapter XXXH. 

Lawrence County . 476 

Deadwood 479 

The Great Fire 486 

Deadwood' s Water System 488 

The Great Flood 490 

Chapter XXXIII. 

New Deadwood 496 

Deadwood's Reduction Works 496 

Deadwood's First Railroad 498 

Banking Institutions 501 

Chapter XXXIV. 

History of Homestake Mines ^ . 508 

Lead City 517 

Emergency Hospital 524 

Hearst Free Library — Newspapers, etc 524 

Chapter XXXV. 

Central City 528 

Churches 530 



Terraville 535 

Crook City 537 

Chapter XXXVI. 

Speai-fish 540 

Chapter XXXVII. 

Horse Thieves and Cattle Rustling on the Northern 

Frontier 559 

Fight with Exelbee Gang — Sequel to the Fight . . 562 

How Spearfish came to be called " The Queen City " 565 

Spearfish Normal School 566 

Organization 571 

Chapter XXXVIII. 

Galena Silver Camp 576 

Terry 579 

Bald Mountain Refractory Ore Deposit 582 

Chapter XXXIX. 

Our Pioneers 592 

Society of Black Hills Pioneers 593 

Black Hills Pioneers and Historical Society of 1877 . 605 

Chapter XL. 

Meade County 607 

Sturgis 612 

Schools, Churches 617 

Banks, Manufactures, and Water System .... 622 

Electric Light System 625 


Chapter XLI. 


Fort Meade 631 

Tilford 635 

Piedmont 636 

Black Hawk 639 

Chapter XLU. 

Fall Kiver County 640 

Thermal Springs 642 

Chapter XLIII. 

Hot Springs of Minnekahta 655 

Public Institutions — Fire Department and Electric 

Light Systems 659 

Cascade, Wind Cave 670 

Edgemont , 672 

Chapter XLIV. 

Butte County 675 

Minnesela 678 

Belle Fourche . 679 

Cattle Shipping Industry 684 

Building Wyoming & Missouri River R. R. ... 684 

Cattle Out6ts of Black Hills 685 

Chapter XLV. 

Organization of Dakota Territory and Subsequent 

Struggle for Statehood 687 

Sioux Treaties 687 

Assessed Valuation of South Dakota 695 

South Dakota Permanent School Fund 696 



Chafter XLVI. 


The Treaty of 1889 for the Great Sioux Reservation 

in Dakota . 697 

The Messiah Craze, etc 700 

The Arrival of a Military Force at Pine Ridge . . 703 
The Advent of Gen. Miles and the Disarmament of 

the Hostiles 708 


-r^ i.- • .... Fiont. 

Stone Showing Record of Early Black Hills History 10 

H. N. Ross ; ' ■ o! 

The Pioneers of 1874 f^ces p. 24 

The Gordon Stockade, 1876 ^^ 

Eaf Witcher, March, 1875 J^J^ 

The Needles near Harney's Peak 

Devil's Tower showing Millions of Tons of Fallen 


Prof. Walter P. Jenny f'^^^s p. 124 

Red Cloud 

Spotted Tail ' ' ' ' J ' ' ^7o 

Wm. Lardner ^«^« P' ^^ 

Fred. T.Evans f-<^«« P- f^ 

H. N. Witcher f^^««« P' ^^^ 

Transportation from Pierre to Deadwood ' ' ' JZ^ 

Sitting Bull ; ■ ■ 919 

Gen. Custer's Last Charge taces p. 212 

Gen. Custer's Last Battle faces p. 220 

^ /-, - . faces p. 22b 

Gen. Custer 988 

Sioux Indians in War Costumes ^6Q 

Attack on Wagon Train en route to Black Hills in 


Black Hills Treasure Coach 

Dr. D.W. Flick tkcesp. 26b 

A. W. Merrick • • • ^^^^^ P' ;J^ 

Porter Warner f^««« P- f„^ 

Col. James M. Wood f^«^^ P- -'^ 

Jack Langrishe ^''^'' P- ^^^ 



Capt. C. V. Gardner faces p. 280 

Milton E. Pinney faces p. 282 

Judge Thomas Hooper faces p. 288 

Custer in 1876 289 

S. M. Booth. . faces p. 292 

Scene at Red Canyon after the Murder of the Metz 

Party 293 

Thomas E. Harvey faces p. 300 

Ellis T. Peiice, Bhick Hills Humorist . . faces p. 302 

John R. Brennan faces p. 306 

Block House at Rapid City — 1876 313 

Capt. Jack Crawford, the Poet Scout 327 

No. 4, above Discovery, on Deadwood 333 

Cabin on Claim No. 2, Deadwood Gulch .... 335 

White Rocks Overlooking Deadwood . ... 347 

Deadwood in 1876 349 

Witcher's Freight Train on the Streets of Deadwood 

in 1876 353 

Gen. A. R. Z. Dawson faces p. 360 

James Halley faces j). 378 

Judge Granville G. Bennett faces p. 383 

Hon. Gideon C. Moody faces p. 385 

Custer City faces p. 404 

Sylvan Lake 407 

Joseph Kubler faces p. 411 

The Start for Harney Peak 413 

A Distant View of Harney's Peak . . . faces p. 418 

Rapid City in 1878 421 

Richard B. Hughes faces p. 424 

Rapid City Chlorination Plant and School of 

Mines faces p. 428 

Beecher's Rocks, near Custer 430 

Rapid City, Looking North, in 1899 . , . faces p. 436 

Judge John W. Nowlin faces p. 442 

Hill City in 1876 449 

Old U. S. Courthouse, Sheridan .... faces p. 456 

Rochford at the Beginning of the Boom, 1878 . . 460 


Stage Coach, Main Street, Deadwood 481 

Deadwood after the Great Flood of 1883 .... 493 
The Deadwood & Delaware Smelter, Deadwood, 

South Dakota faces p. 497 

Sol. Star . faces p. 502 

Frank J. Washabaugh faces p. 504 

Deadwood from Forest Hill faces p. 506 

The Great Homestake Works at Lead . . faces p. 512 
The Homestake Hoisting Works, 2,000 Horse-power 

used. Lead City 516 

Lead City, Black Hills, South Dakota . . faces p. 522 

Central City in 1878 529 

Seth Bullock faces p. 534 

Terraville Gold Mining Camp 536 

Crook City in 1876 538 

Speartish in 1876, with Lookout Mountain in the 

Background 544 

Spearfish Town in 1877 552 

Picture Gallery in Spearfish in 1877 556 

Terry, Mining Center of the Great Refractory Ore 

District of the Black Hills 580 

Golden Reward Gold Mine, Deadwood 585 

Kildonan Chlorination Mine at Pluma, between Dead- 
wood and Lead 589 

Spearfish in 1895 faces p. 572 

Group of Presidents of Society of Black Hills Pio- 
neers faces p. 598 

Building Erected at Lead by P. A. Gushurst, faces p. 601 

Sturgis in 1899 faces p. 609 

Meade County Courthouse 611 

Street Scene in Sturgis, 1898 626 

Rough Riders Leaving Sturgis for Cuba, May, 1898. 629 

Fort Meade, Bear Butte in the Background, faces p. 632 

"Comache" 635 

Horseshoe Curve on the Fort Pierre R. R, between 

Lead and Piedmont 637 

'Col. Wm. Thornby faces p. 647 

XX 11 


Dr. R. D. Jeuniugs faces p. 652 

The First House on the Original Town-site of Hot 

Springs, built by Dr. R. A. Stewart 656 

South Dakota Soldiers Home, Hot Springs . . . 660 

Interior of Plunge Bath, Hot Springs . . faces p. 664 

Hot Springs faces p. 668 

Cowboy Scene in the Black Hills 676 

Cattle Shipping Pen at Belle Fourche 680 

Grand Council Between Friendl}^ and Hostile Chiefs. 704 
Buffalo Bill Holding a Conference with Sitting 

Bull faces p. 707 




The Last Hunting Ground of the Dakotahs. 

C H x\ P T E R I. 


As this book is designed to be only a history of the 
events and incidents connected with the white settlement 
of the Black Hills, as stated in the introduction, it seems 
unnecessary to go back to the races that had occupied this 
portion of the great American continent long centuries ago, 
and of which we have no knowledge save that which is 
based upon vague tradition, nor does it seem necessary to 
more than briefly refer to the mournful history of the tribes 
of the great Sioux Nation, or the Dakotahs, who have 
been driven from the East towards the setting sun until 
their last and most cherished hunting ground was lost 
to them forever. 

The Dakotahs, or Nadowessioux — abbreviated by the 
French explorers and trappers to Sioux — were doubtless a 
valorous people considered from an Indian standpoint, and 
are credited with many deeds of wonderful prowess in their 
numerous conflicts with the hostile tribes to the eastward, 
against whom they maintained their broad possessions for 
at least 200 years undisturbed — and we know not how 
much longer. 



About the middle of the seventeenth century the Dako- 
tahs occupied a vast stretch of territory extending from the 
48° of north hititude to the Missouri river, and stretching 
westward to the main range of the Kocky Mountains. 

In 1837 they ceded to the United States all their land 
lying east of the Mississippi river, since which time they 
have been losing their once wide domain slice by slice until 
at the time of the invasion of the Black Hills in 1874, they 
were confined to the limit prescribed by the treat}^ of 1868, 
which will be referred to farther on. 

My readers need not be told in detail how that once pow- 
erful people were reduced in numbers, by almost constant 
conflicts with other tribes to the eastward of the Great 
Lakes, nor of how, by the numerous French and Indian 
wars, and their consequent defeats, they were finally forced 
to abandon the country, so long occupied by them, around 
the small lakes and headwaters of the Mississippi, and 
driven down and westward onto the plains of the Missouri, 
preceded by the Cheyennes, nor of the various cessions of 
their territory made by them to the general government, 
nor of how they fought the onward march of civilization, 
inch by inch, until all the Western frontiers were marked 
by a trail of the blood of innocent women and children ; or, 
mayhap, by their capture and torture even worse than 
death ; nor of the consequent wars with the United States, 
by which they were almost exterminated, and finally 
driven to the wall. All this is already a matter of common 
histor}^ vfith which most school girls and boys are familiar 
at the present day. 

It is well known that, up to the year 1877, there had 
been almost perpetual hostilities on the part of the Indians, 
on the excuse of broken treaties, etc., the suppression of 
which cost the government many millions of treasure, as 
well as the sacrifice of thousands of human lives, and which 
decimated the Indian tribes, till now there is but a pitiful 
remnant of them left. While it cannot be claimed that 
treaty obligations have not been sometimes violated on the 


part of the government — as in the cases of Colorado and 
Montana, when vast hordes of adventurers and gold-seekers 
crossed and recrossed the Indian domain, despite treaty 
stipulations, frightening and killing the game upon which 
they almost solely depended as means of sustenance. 

The treaty of 1868, guaranteeing to the Indians as a 
permanent reservation, all the territory lying between the 
Missouri river on the east, and the western boundary of 
Dakota on the west, and from the north boundary of the 
State of Nebraska on the south', to the forty-sixth parallel 
of latitude on the north ; also stipulated that the country 
north of the Phitte river in Nebraska, and east of the 
summit of the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming, should be 
held and considered unceded Indian territory, and that no 
white person or persons should be permitted to settle 
upon, or occupy any portion of same, nor to pass through 
without the consent of the Indians; and also conceded the 
right to the Indians to hunt south of the North Platte, as 
far as the Republican Fork of the Smoky Hill river, for a 
terra of years, or, as long as the buffalo might range in 
sufficient numbers to justify the chase, and prohibited 
soldiers from entering the unceded territory, north of the 
Platte. The treaty of 1868 also stipulated that the govern- 
ment should remove all military posts and government 
roads within the limits of their reservation, the right to 
establish which was granted by the treaty of 1851. In 
the following year, 1869, notwithstanding the treaty of 
1868, all Indians found oft' their permanent reservation, 
were considered hostile, and under the jurisdiction of mili- 
tary authority. That the provisions of the above treaty 
were sometimes violated by the Indians there can be no 
doubt, and that its provisions were disregarded by the 
invasion of their reservation in 1874-5-6 is indisputable, 
but, ignoring the ethical side of the question, should such 
treaties as tend to arrest the advance of civilization, and 
retard the development of the rich resources of our country, 
ever have been entered into? This is a question which de- 


mands much thoughtful consideration. Although haviog^ 
deep-seated convictions on this troublesome Indian problem, 
as it is not within the province of this book to give them 
expression, the question may as well be turned over to the 
moralist and political economist for discussion. 


Prior to the year 1874, that portion of the Indian Ter- 
ritory known as the Black Hills, was a part and parcel of 
the happy hunting ground of the red man, and had for 
long centuries lain in an isolation almost complete as 
" Darkest Africa." Up to that year none of the several 
expeditions sent to this Western country for the purpose of 
exploration or subduing the hostilities of the Indians, had 
succeeded individually or collectively in penetrating the 
mountain fastnesses of the Black Hills, with the sole ex- 
ception of Gen. Harney, who, with members of his staff, 
climbed the rugged peak, which was honored with that 
brave officer's name, and on its lofty summit unfurled our 
national emblem for the first time to the mountain breeze, 
and under its sacred folds pledged to it their allegiance and 
undying loyalty in numerous bumpers of sparkling cham- 
pagne, as evidenced by the many empty bottles discovered 
on the spot by the pioneers about two decades later. And 
thereby hangs a romantic tale. 

The first military and scientific expedition sent out for 
the purpose of exploration, known as the Warren Expe- 
dition, failed to consummate the plan of penetrating the 
Black Hills, as will be seen by the following extract from 
the report of Lieutenant Warren to the government. 
He says: " Setting out from Fort Laramie on the 4th of 
September, 1856, we proceeded direct for the Black Hills, 
via Ravv Hide Butte, Old Woman's Creek, the Southern 
Fork of the Cheyenne, and Beaver Creek; up a branch of 
this last stream we entered the Hills (the foot-hills). We 
continued north to the vicinity of Inyan Karce (or the 
peak which makes the mountain), a remarkably high ba- 


saltlc peak, one of the highest of the mountains and so far 
to the north that we had a full view of the prairie beyond. 
Here we were met by a very hirge force of the Dakotahs 
who made such earnest remonstrance and threats against 
our proceeding into their country that I did not think it 
prudent for us as a scientific expedition to venture further 
in this direction. Some of them were for attacking us im- 
mediately, as their numbers would have insured success, 
but the lesson taught them by Gen. Harney, in 1855, made 
them fear they would meet with retribution, and this I 
endeavored to impress upon them. We were at this time 
almost in sight of the place where these Indians had plun- 
dered Sir George Gore, in 1856, for endeavoring to pro- 
ceed through their country." 

The expedition of Capt. Reynolds, sent out in 1859 with 
the object of exploring to the north and west of the Black 
Hills, around the headwaters of the Yellowstone and Mis- 
souri river, its line of march being along the northern 
slope, and on its southward march the western slope of the 
Black Hills, made no attempt to enter the Hills; so I think 
the assertion is justified that no military or scientific expe- 
'dition ever penetrated the interior recesses of the Black 
Hills until the year 1874. 


It is a matter of unwritten history, however, that an 
unsuccessful attempt was made to organize a formidable 
expedition to colonize the Black Hills in 1872, the project 
having its origin in the exceedingly fertile brain of Charlie 
Collins, then editor of the Sioux City Times, Iowa. It 
may not be out of place here to refer back to an earlier 
scheme which, while not pertinent to this history, will 
reveal the peculiar mental bent of this adventurous man. 

His first dream, beginning in 1869, was of a gigantic 
colonization scheme which contemplated the founding, 
somewhere on the banks of the Missouri river, a powerful 


Irish-American empire, whose guiding star would lead 
towards the British dominions on the north. The plan 
devised by himself and his co-operator, John P. Hodnett, 
then U. S. Assessor for Dakota Territory, was to orsran- 
ize, in different parts of the country, colonies of Irish- 
Americans to enter homesteads and settle upon that portion 
of the Sioux (Brule) reservation lying on the east adjacent 
to the river, opposite the mouth of White river, so that — 
as in substance stated by himself — when " England's dif- 
ficulty," and "Ireland's opportunity" should arise, a 
patriotic army of Irish-American colonists could conveni- 
ently, and without interference, invade the British domnin 
and wipe out, root and branch, their long-time oppressors 
from the face of the American continent. 

Thus it will be discerned that the scheme, while desio;netl 
for the betterment of the condition of native and American 
born Irishmen in this country, had the eartnarks of Fenian- 
ism plainly impressed upon its face. The plan was submitted 
to the Fenian Convention held in St. Louis in the fall of 
1869, which resulted in the selection of a committee to 
visit the region referred to and examine its resources, and 
if satisfactory to inaugurate the work of colonization. Its 
projectors even succeeded in securing the passage of a bill 
through Congress, authorizing a colony corporation, for 
the management of affairs — the purchase of land, agri- 
cultural implements, etc., designating for officers such 
names as A. T. Stewart, Jim Fiske, Jr., Ben Butler, 
Wendell Philips, and others whose names were then house- 
hold words. 

So popular became the apparently philanthropic scheme 
that a famous millionaire dry goods merchant offered a 
half million dollars, to aid in furtherance of the project. 
In short, the committee selected to visit and report upon 
the resources of the region of prospective settlement, being, 
for the most part tenderfeet, unaccustomed to the terrible 
hardships of a journey over the untrodden wilds of Dakota, 
returned with a very poor opinion of the Indian domain, 


and submitted a majority report unfavorable to the scheme. 
A minority of the committee, who reported favorably, had 
selected the site where Brule City now stands, as the seat 
of empire, and named it Limerick. The majority report 
however, dealt a vital blow to the project and it collapsed. 
Mr. Collins then turned his attention to the scheme for the 
settlement of the Black Hills as before stated. 

To boom the enterprise and attract public attention, he 
during the spring and summer of 1872, published in the 
Times a series of highly sensational articles which were dis- 
tributed broadcast over the land, announcing that an 
expedition was organizing in Sioux City with the object of 
exploring and revealing to the world the hidden mysteries 
of the Black Hills of Dakota. 

En passant, it should be stated here that Charlie Collins, 
although erratic and visionary to a degree, was a writer of 
no mean ability — a man of generous impulses and liberal 
to a fault, thoroughly westernized in feeling and sentiment, 
and withal a born organizer. With facile pen he por- 
trayed in glowing colors the golden treasure concealed 
within the rock-ribbed hills and the gulches of the land he 
pictuied ; drawing for the most part on his resourceful 
imagination for material, or rather for the immaterial, 
as the existence of gold in the Black Hills was then 
scarcely more than a vague conjecture, based on Indian 
tradition. Albeit these articles had the effect of drawing 
many to Sioux City, to which its enterprising people were, 
naturally, by no means averse. Among those who were 
thus attracted was T. H. Russell, a frontiersman of consid- 
erable experience, having been a pioneer of Colorado, and 
familiar with mining life among the camps of the Rockies. 
Through the Indian wives of some of his mountaineer 
acquaintances he had gained an intimate knowledge of the 
traditions of the existence of gold in the Black Hills, in 
which traditions he was a firm believer. 

On his arrival in Sioux City he was naturally greatly 
disappointed to find that the expedition so glowingly de- 


scribed in the columns of the Times, as yet existed only 
on paper; however, entering into the spirit of the enter- 
prise, Collins and Russell, jointly with others, began at 
once the work of org-anization. 

Prominent among the organizers were Charles S. Soule, 
manager of the Northwestern Transportation Company, 
Dan Scott, editor of the Sioux City Journal; Harnett & 
Howard, and man}' others. Gen A. C. Dawes, general 
passenger agent of the Kansas City & St. Joe Railroad, 
also lent valuable assistance to the project. 

Pamphlets were compiled and published at the Times 
oflSce, setting forth the grand possibilities of the Black 
Hills, their distance from Sioux City, cost of transporta- 
tion, etc. Plentifully supplied with these pamphlets, 
Capt. Russell made a tour of the towns along the Missouri 
river as far down as Kansas City, judiciously distributing 
his literature to such as, in his judgment, were liable to 
join. The success of the trip proved all that could be 
desired, hundreds from the Missouri river towns enrolling 
members of the expedition, which was dated to start 
on September 1, 1872. As, apparently, no care had been 
taken to keep the expedition secret, the movement tinally 
attracted the attention of the military authorities of 
the government, when Gen. Hancock, then in command 
at Fort Snelling, issued the following peremptory order to 
the post commanders on the Missouri river: "That any 
expedition organized for the purpose of penetrating the 
Black Hills, be immediately dispersed, the leaders arrested 
and placed in the nearest military prison." This order 
inflicted the death blow to the projected expedition to 
the Black Hills in 1872. All preparation immediately 
ceased, and the expedition was abandoned, much to the 
disappointment and disgust of the organizers. 


It is claimed upon authority, which we have no good 
reason to dispute, that adventurous parties, at different 


dates, as far back as 1859, and perhaps before, had, despite 
the vigilance and extreme hostility of the Sioux, who 
guarded their domain against encroachment with a jealous 
eye, made some discoveries of the precious metkl in the 
country west of the Black Hills in the Big Horn Mountains ; 
and had also, according to Indian traditions — substantiated 
by tangible evidences discovered by prospectors in 1876-7 — 
ventured around the western and northern bases and a short 
distance into the foothills or spurs of the Black Hills. 

There was a story published years ago, for the authenticity 
of which I am not able to vouch, and which, therefore, must 
be accepted at its face value, that a party of nineteen men 
detached themselves at Fort Laramie from a large party of 
gold hunters en route for California — influenced by cur- 
rent reports of rich gold discoveries in the Black Hills, 
made their way thither, found rich gold deposits, and 
worked claims, and were all massacred by the Indians, save 
one, who shortly after died. 

Prospectors coming into the Hills during the great rush 
of 1876, claim to have found proofs corroborative of the 
above story in the shape of old sluice boxes, gradually 
crumbling into deca}^ corroded mining implements, and 
other evidences that gold hunters had mined in some of the 
gulches along the northern border of the Hills, even as far 
back as 1833. 

Among the private collection of fossils and other curios 
in possession of John Cashner, of Spearfish, St)uth Da- 
kota, there is a simple flat stone, carefully preserved and 
framed, which furnishes material for an exceedingly inter- 
esting bit of early Black Hills history. It is an irregular 
sandstone tablet about twelve inches square and two and 
one half inches thick, bearing an inscription which, if 
genuine, reveals a truly pathetic story. This tablet was 
discovered in March, 1887, in the middle draw of Look- 
out Mountain, by Lewis Thoen, of Spearfiir'h, while quarry- 
ing for builduig stone. It was found concealed under a 
large, flat rock, the crevice between which and the ground 



underneath was filled in by the drifting sands of years 
and overgrown with vegetation, giving the discovery every 
appearance of genuineness. 

Learning of this cold, mute witness of an early Black 
Hills tragedy, the author, partly to gratify a natural curi- 
osity and partly to be enabled to vouch for its existence, 
visited the cabinet of Mr. Cashner and found the stone as 
above described. On the tablet is inscribed, apparently by 
the blade of a pocket knife and in somewhat irregular 
lines, as will be seen by the accom)mni ng cut, the follow- 

ing tragic story. On one side is recorded: "Came to 
these Hills in 1833, seven of us DeLacompt Ezra Kind G. 
W. Wood T Brown R Kent Wm King Indian Crow, all 
ded but me Ezra Kind. Killed by Inds beyond the high 
hill got our gold June 1834." On the reverse side : " Got 
all of the gold we could carry our pony all got by the In- 
dians. I have lost my gun and nothing to eat and Indians 
hunting me." 

This story, besides having in itself many of the elements 
of probability is, as related by old hunters who had spent 
years amongst them, also verified by Indian tradition, 
which tells that upon a time, a band of Sioux hunters in 
quest of game, came upon a stream, muddied, as they sup- 
posed, by beavers, and in following it up, found the small 


party of gold hunters, swooped down upon them, killing 
all but one, who escaped, and appropriated their gold, which 
was afterward sold to the Hudson Bay Company for 
$18,000 (or probably its equivalent in fire water, beads, and 
other glittering gewgaws so dear to the hearts of savages). 
The fact that this tradition tallies with the record on the 
stone tablet, certainly entitles the story to much credence. 

The supposition is, that this gold was mined in the 
vicinity of Gold Run, about twelve miles from Lookout 
mountain, in a direct line. The theory appears to be that 
Ezra Kind, after making his escape from the Indians, went 
into hiding in the middle draw of Lookout mountain, where 
he inscribed his sad story on a piece of sandstone, which he 
concealed under a large rock, where he hoped it might 
some day be found ; then either died from starvation or 
was finally killed by the Indians. 

The spot where the tablet was accidentally discovered, 
which was also visited, seemed well adapted for the cache, 
being some ten or twelve feet below the level of the ground 
about it, two large scrub oaks marking the spot. Back 
towards the mountain about 100 yards, the draw deepens 
to eighteen or twent}' feet and is overhung with large 
bushes, making an admirable place for concealment from 

The publication of the story of the above discovery in 
some of the principal newspapers of the country brought 
letters from parties who claimed to be relatives of some of 
the unfortunate missing men, which tends to strengthen 
somewhat its credibility. 

Father De Smet, the venerable Catholic missionary, often 
visited the Hills with his savage proteges, but how far into 
the interior of the Black Hills proper he ever penetrated, 
is uncertain. 

Let it be borne in mind that what was named the Black 
Hills embraced a large scope of territory extending from 
the I03d meridian of longitude on the east to the Big Horn 
and Wind rivers on the west, and from the Laramie and 


Sweetwater rivers on the south to the Yellowstone on the 
north, so that it is quite easy to believe that portions of 
that territory had been visited and prospected for gold at a 
much earlier date than 1874. 

In speaking of the Black Hills proper, reference is had 
to the main uplift, embraced between the two forks of the 
Cheyenne river. 

It may safely be asserted then, that no adventurous 
spirits ever penetrated very far into the interior of the 
Black Hills previous to the year 1874, and, as we have no 
positive proof of any such exploration, it may be assumed 
that up to that time they had remained a vague mystery. 
However, they were destined to remain a mystery no 
longer. Thenceforth the beautiful pine-clad Black Hills 
were no longer to echo to the shrill war-whoop of the 
Sioux, nor the turf of the fair, smiling valleys lying be- 
tween, respond to their stealthy tread. In 1874 the camp- 
fires of the red man were extinguished in the Black Hills, 
never again to be rekindled. The spirit of adventure and 
aggression was then abroad in the land ; the handwriting 
was on the wall. The gold-ribbed Black Hills were to be 
snatched from the grasp of savages, to whom they were 
uo longer profitable even as a hunting ground, and given 
over to the thrift and enterprise of the hardy pioneer, who 
would develop their wonderful resources and thereby 
advance the interests and add to the wealth of our whole 




On July 2cl, 1874, ao expedition under the command of 
Gen. Geo. A. Custer, left Fort Abraham Lincoln with ten 
companies of cavalry, two of infantry, a detachment of 
white and Indian scouts, interpreters, miners, teamsters, 
etc., in all about 1,000 men, under orders from the Gov- 
ernmental Department, to make a reconnoissance of the 
country from that point to Bear Butte on the north of the 
Hills, and explorations of the country adjacent thereto, on 
the southwest, south, and southeast, and into the interior 
eastward for the purpose presumably of learning some- 
thing of the topography and geological formation of the 
Hills, and also of their general character and possible 
resources. The prime object of the expedition, however, 
would appear to be to ascertain their exact geographical 
position, relative to the military posts, Lincoln and Lara- 
mie, with a view to the establishment of other posts within 
or near the Black Hills, in case future complications with 
the Sioux rendered it necessary. 

The following extract from the report of William Lud- 
low, chief of engineers, Department of Dakota, accompany- 
ing the expedition, will make clear its real object : — 

" In case of any future complication with the Sioux, or 
the needs of bordering civilization should make it neces- 
sary to establish military posts on this reservation, indica- 
tions all point to the Black Hills as the most suitable point, 
both on account of their geographical position, and on the 
abundance of wood, water, and grass to be found there. 
To explain the value of its position, it should be stated 
that the trails from the camp of the hostile Sioux on the 


Yellowstone to the agencies near the Missouri, where live 
the reservation Indians, and where the issues of annuities 
are made, lead by a southeasterly course through the Hills, 
the abundance of game, and ample security of which make 
them a ready refuge in time of war, and. a noble hunting 
orround in time of peace. It was therefore desirable to 
gain positive information regarding them, and to connect 
them as well, by reconnoissance with the posts of Lincohi 
and Laramie. To accomplish these results was the object 
of this expedition." 

In this connection the opinion is ventured that there 
might have been another object underlying the action of 
the government, and one of more vital interest to the peo- 
ple of the countr}^ who were looking with covetous eyes 
towards this rich domain, namely, their ultimate redemp- 
tion from the hands of the Indians, and their consequent 
opening to white settlement, in case the vague rumors that 
had reached the world, of their fabulous richness, should 
be borne out by the facts. 

Be that as it may, a hasty exploration was made — all 
that was possible in the limited time tixed for the work 
(sixty days time), sufficiently extensive, however, to answer 
the purpose for which the expedition was organized, and 
to gain a partial knowledge of the formation of the Hills, 
and their general topographical features. 

The expedition entered the Hills on the west, at a point 
near Inyan-Kara, penetrated southeastward as far as 
Harney's Peak, thence southward across the southern limits 
of the Hills to the south fork of the Cheyenne river. 

From this point, Charlie Reynolds, Custer's chief of 
scouts, was sent alone across the Indian infested country 
with dispatches to Fort Laramie, and it is alleged that the 
famous scout suffered exposure and privations on the jour- 
ne}', from the effects of which he never fully recovered. 

Returning to Harney's Peak the expedition spent a few 
days prospecting in the region of the Peak, then took up 
their march along the Box Elder, and finally after some 


difficulty found its way out of the Hills at a point nearly 
opposite Bear Butte, which embraced all the territory 

But very little prospecting was done, and that principally 
on the heads of the streams draining the area around 
Harney's Peak, where only five days were spent, the longest 
time at any one point, in j)roof of which I will quote from 
General Custer's Report to the War Department, in detail- 
ing the work of the expedition, the following : — 

"It will be understood that within the limits of the 
Black Hills we were almost constantly marching, never 
halting at any one point for a longer time than one day — 
except one, and that was near Harney's Peak, where we 
remained five days; most of the command, however, being 
employed in operations during the halt. From this it will 
be seen that no satisfactory or conclusive examination of 
the country could be made regarding its mineral deposits ; 
enough, however, was determined to establish the fact that 
gold is distributed throughout an extensive area within the 
Black Hills. No discoveries, as far as I am aware, were 
made of gold deposits in quartz, although there is every 
reason to believe that a more thorough and extended search 
would have discovered it. Seeking for gold was not one 
of the objects of the expedition; consequently, we were 
but illy-prepared to institute or successfully prosecute a 
search for it, even after we became aware of its existence 
in the country." 

It will be seen from the above that, although prospects 
of gold were found in the gulches of the streams flowing 
from the region of Harney's Peak, no deposits of gold in 
quartz were discovered. The fact was revealed to the pio- 
neers of 1874 in their search for gold, very shortly after, 
that the prospecting done by the Custer expedition was a 
mere bagatelle; besides, there was such a wide discrepancy 
of statement in the reports of the experts accompanying 
the expedition, in regard to even the existence of gold in 
the Black Hills, that the public mind was thrown into a 



greater degree of uncertainty than before, for, while Gen- 
eral Custer and the mining experts of the expedition 
claimed to have found gold. Prof. Winchell, geologist, was 
equally positive in his claim that he did not see a single one 
of the shining particles. The sequel has demonstrated. 

H. N. ROSS, 

Oue of the Mining Experts of tlie Custer Expedition of 1874. 

however, that the Professor probably did not see the gold 
because he wouldn't. There is an old adage which says : 
" There are none so blind as those who won't see." 

Be that as it may, it was left to the pioneers of 1874 to 
relieve the public mind from the uncertainty into which it 


was thrown by these conflicting reports, and to prove ta 
them beyond any doubt the existence of the precious metal 
in which the people of the country were, at the time, more 
deeply interested than in any other question. In this 
state of uncertainty they awaited, with no little anxiety, a 
report from the pioneers who were already on their peril- 
ous way before the final reports of the Custer expedition 
were made public. 


Such of my readers as are familiar with the history of 
the early missionaries among the Indians, will doubtless 
remember the stories told of the wonderfully rich speci- 
mens of gold, platinum and other precious metals shown 
by the Indians at the mission, and who, when asked where 
they were found, would always point in the direction of 
the Black Hills, but would never consent to conduct any 
white person to the place, they having doubtless been 
warned against the cupidity of the whites by their friends^ 
the missionaries. In view of the recent rich discoveries 
in the Hills it is quite safe to believe that right in or near 
the Black Hills, those wonderful specimens were found. 


The subjoined story has been handed down from those 
missionary days, which the writer is sufficiently credulous 
to believe. In substance the story runs thus: " De Smet, 
in one of his trips among the Sioux Indians, before 
the discovery of gold in California, promised a Sioux 
chief a present of a pistol, the use of which he had been 
at some trouble to explain. Accordingly he procured 
a horse pistol at one of the fur companies' trading 
posts, some powder, and caps. On his return to the 
home of the chief he redeemed his promise, purposely 
neglecting to bring any bullets. The chief overcame the 
difficulty by going away and returning after a brief absence 



with a handful of yellow metal nuggets, which he requested 
be melted into bullets. The missionary, finding that the 
nuggets were gold, cautioned the Indians against making 
known the existence of gold in their country, as the ' pale 
faces ' ^yould undergo untold hardships to possess it." 

So, it will be seen that the region of the Black Hills and 
westward of them was renowned, in the legends of the 
Indians, for their precious metals, and judging from the 
rich specimens obtained by the Jesuit Missionaries, this 
country will prove something more than a mere glittering 


Upon the return of the Custer exploring expedition in 
the summer of 1874, Collins and Russell, deeming the time 
auspicious for such a movement, renewed their efforts to 
organize a Black Hills Expedition. In furtherance of the 
scheme they proceeded at once to Chicago, opened an office 
on Clark street, and began the work of drawing in recruits. 
Their efforts were being rapidly crystallized by the enroll- 
ment of numerous members, but the publicity given the 
enterprise soon attracted the attention of Gen. Sheri- 
dan — then stationed at Chicago, who immediately issued 
orders to the commanders of the frontier posts, similar to 
the one issued by Gen. Hancock two years before, which 
again dealt a vital blow to the project. 

Apparently abandoning the enterprise, they gave up 
their office in Chicago and returned to Sioux City, where 
the following dispatch was sent to the Associated Press by 
Chas. S. Soule: "In view of the recent order of Gen. 
Sheridan, the Collins & Russell expedition has been aban- 
doned for the present." This dispatch was merely a blind 
to put the military authorities off their guard, for right 
upon its heels, hundreds of letters marked " confidential" 
were mailed from the Times office, in reply to those asking 
for information in reference to the expedition — stating 
that the dispatch promulgated was a blind; that the expe- 



dition was a foregone conclusion ; and also, cautioning all 
who contemplated going to keep their own counsel and 
make known their intentions only at the Times Office. 

How many of those numerous correspondents reported 
at headquarters has not been ascertained, but it is a well- 
known fact that despite the gigantic efforts of those indefa- 
tigable workers, the expedition, in point of numbers, did 
not materialize to any great extent, as only twenty-six men, 
all told, had the hardihood to dety the authorities and 
undertake the perilous journey. These few got together, 
made their secret arrangements, purchased their supplies 
and equipments — paying for them in cold cash out of their 
individual pockets, as far as knovvn — and launched secretly 
out for the Black Hills without exciting the slightest sus- 
picion on the part of the Government officials or creating 
a single ripple on the surface of affairs in the pioneer 
outfitting city. 

This first expedition to the Black Hills has been called 
by some the Gordon expedition, in honor of John Gordon, 
the leader of the expedition on its journey into the Hills. 

This appellation, however, appears to be a misnomer, as 
it cannot be ascertained that the guide of the expedition 
was in any direct way sponsor for its organization. 

It appears from reliable data obtained, that Collins and 
Russell, by virtue of their mutual eflbrts to effect an or- 
ganization in conjunction with other prominent citizens of 
Sioux City, as before recorded, are rightfully entitled to 
that distinction. Therefore, by that token, the first expe- 
dition will be recorded on the pages of this history as the 
Collins-Russell Expedition. 




The following account of the secret preparations for and 
the journe}' of the expedition over the plains to the Black 
Hills, with incidents of the trip, partakes somewhat of the 
nature of historical narration, rather than a bare record of 
facts, which it is hoped may render the reading thereof 
less tiresome. 

Sioux City, the scene of the first movement for the 
invasion of the Sioux domain, was, at the time of the open- 
ing of this story, an enterprising and rapidly growing 
young city, not far back from the threshold of the then 
Western frontier — an admirable outfitting point for the 
unsettled regions to the Westward, and favorably located 
geographically for carrying out the enterprise of its bold 
projectors, who were then projecting the secret arrange- 
ments for the perilous journey. 

Almost any day during the latter part of September, 1874, 
there might have been seen small groups of determined 
looking: men standing on the street corners, or in the hotel 
lobbies — engaged in earnest discussion of some apparently 
absorbing topic — an occurrence common enough in any 
well regulated city; the only thing remarkable about these 
gatherings being that their personnel was always the same, 
and whenever closely approached they would immediately 
disperse, a circumstance which might have led a critical 
observer to suspect them of some dark conspiracy, and if 
any curiously inclined person had felt disposed to follow 
their movements, when the shadows began to fall, they 
might perhaps have been found at some pre-appointed 


place in secret conference behind closed doors. Stranf^ers 
they were, for the most part, who had gathered there, 
from widely separated localities — extending from the 
northern lakes to the southern gulf — drawn thither by 
the current rumors that an expedition was about to leave 
that convenient point for the Black Hills. 

Bright, crisp October comes, and if we board a ferry 
boat and cross over to the west bank of the treacherous 
Missouri river with its numerous snags and shifting sands, 
we will find our little party of Black Hills adventurers 
rendezvoused in a grove near by a small village named Cov- 
ington, making active but quiet preparations for break- 
ing camp, and, strangely enough, with them a woman and 
small boy — the former none other than the author of this 
story. Speculation was rife around the little community, 
and many questions were asked as to the destination of the 
outfit, but the men were absolutely non-committal, and it 
was then demonstrated that a woman too, can sometimes 
keep a secret. The necessity for secrecy becomes obvious 
when it is known that the movement was in direct viola- 
tion of the express orders of the United States government, 
whose vigilance the expedition hoped to escape. 

Preparations for the journey were soon completed. 
Tents were hurriedly taken down, carefully folded, and 
with their poles strapped to the sides of the respective 
wagon boxes ; bright, new cooking utensils, coffee pots 
and frying pans predominating, were fastened in artistic 
array along the outside wherever convenience and taste 
dictated. The inevitable water buckets were suspended 
from the wngon reaches underneath, and last but by no 
means least the "grub boxes," were lifted to their places 
at the rear, where they were held in place by an arrange- 
ment similar to that employed for the baggage of passen- 
gers on the early stage coaches, when everything was in 
readiness for moving. 

In the afternoon of that memorable day of October 6th, 


1874, the first expedition to the Black Hills cut loose its 
prairie craft from its moorings on the banks of the " Rig 
Muddy," and followed the " Star of Empire," westward 
right through the heart of the .Sioux reserve. As the train 
filed out of camp on that October day — the new wagons, 
whose white covers bore a " strange device," gleaming 
brightly in the afternoon suii, in the lead, the horsemen 
on the flanks, the pedestrians — among whom I tripped 
jauntily along in the rear — it must have presented an 
imposing pageant to the very few observers. 

The expedition, in its entirety, was composed of twenty- 
six men, one woman, and a boy, six canvas-covered 
wagons, each drawn by two pairs of fat, sleek, and a few 
of them soniewhat frisky cattle — by the way, they were 
neither so fat nor sleek, and not in the least frisky at the 
end of the journey. There were also five saddle horses, 
and two beautiful gre\diounds, whose frequent frantic 
chases after the poor timid antelope and rabbit, proved the 
source of much diversion to the expedition on its long, 
monotonous march across the bleak, treeless plains. Those 
long-limbed, pointed-nosed, fleet hounds — named, respec- 
tively, Dan and Fan, were noble specimens of their kind, of 
indisputable lineage, and the pets of the entire party. 

When a few miles out from the starting point, the train 
halted for the night, when the question, as to who should 
lead the expedition, and pilot the piratical craft safely to 
its destination, came up for consideration. After some 
lively canvassing, as to the best man to intrust with so im- 
portant an undertaking, the choice finally fell upon John 
Gordon, who, claiming to have traveled over the country 
as far as the foot-hills, several years before, was deemed 
the best fitted, by virtue of such knowledge of the route, 
to be our guide and leader. 

However, the expedition had not proceeded far on the 
journey beyond the line of public travel before it became 
apparent that our guide's knowledge of the geography of 


the country was, to say the least, somewhat vague and un- 
certain. He had, doubtless, penetrated the country over 
government roads, used for the transportation of supplies 
for the military posts to the west of the Black Hills, but 
not, it was thought, in the direction of the objective point 
of the expedition. Be that as it muy the train was enabled 
by the aid of a small pocket compass, carried by Lyman 
Lamb, who took daily bearings, to keep the general direc- 
tion, and, although the train may have traversed a good 
deal of unnecessary territory, our leader was indefatigable 
in his efforts to find the most practicable ground over which 
to travel, and finally landed the expedition safely — though 
somewhat the worse for wear, in the Black Hills. It was 
his daily custom to ride out every morning in advance of 
the train to mark out the line of march for the day, by 
virtue of which he was entitled to unbounded credit. 

The expedition was splendidly equipped with munitions 
for its defense — each man having provided himself with 
the most approved Winchester rifie, besides small arms, 
and sufficient ammunition to last by economy for a period 
of eight months. Fidelity to history compels me to record, 
however, that at divers times, some of our men indulged 
in the careless pastime of firing their precious cartridges 
at tarfjets, on which occasions I had orrave misojivings as 
to whether there would be any left to kill Indians with in 
case it became necessary. At times I was strongly tempted 
to expostulate with them on their thoughtless waste of 
ammunition, but I quickly controlled that inclination, con- 
cluding that, perhaps, they knew their own business — at 
least they might think they did and take occasion to remind 
me of that fact. I did, however, venture to approach them 
timidly one day when I thought them uncommonly reck- 
less, and say solemnly : " Boys, don't you think you will 
need all this ammunition that you are virtually throwing 
away when we get out among the Indians?" " Oh, shoot 
the Indians," answered one of the boys, irreverently. 


Now, deeming this a potent unci convincing argument 
against the position I had assumed, and plainly significant, 
I meekly yielded the point and referred no more to the 

Our wagons were packed to the guards with sundry pro- 
visions, chiefly flour, bacon, beans, also sugar, coflee, a 
modicum of tea, a limited quantity of canned goods, butter, 
etc. It was estimated that our supply of the staple articles 
was sufiicient to last, at least, eight months, and, as the 
owners of each outfit purchased their own sup[)lies, the 
luxuries were more or less abundant, according to the 
purses of the purchasers. 

Besides the supply of munitions and provisions, we were 
provided with all the necessary paraphernalia for camping, 
mechanics' tools, and, to complete the outfit, with picks, 
shovels, and gold pans. 

Let it l)e understood that the members of the expedition, 
while arranging for the journey, had been divided into what 
is called, in army parlance, messes, a kind of copartnership 
being entered into, the respective partners pooling their 
resources tor the purchase of supplies and other property 
necessary for transportation, with the understanding that, at 
dissolution, the assets be equally divided among the partners. 

The grouping was as follows: No. 1 being composed 
•of Capt. Tom Russell, Lyman Lamb, Eaf. Witcher, and 
Angus McDonald. No. 2, B. B. Logan, Dan McDonald, 
or Red Dan, Dan McDonald, or Black Dan (the last two, 
bearing the same patronymic, were distinguished by the 
color of the shirts they invariably wore), James Dempster, 
James Powers, J. J. Williams, and Thomas Quiner. 3d, 
John Gordon, J. W. Brockett, Newton Warren, H. Bishop, 
Chas. Long, Chas. Cordeiro and Moses Aarons. 4th, R. 
R. Whitney, Harry Cooper, David Aken, and John Boyle. 
5th, Chas. Blackwell, Thos. McLaren, Henry Thomas, D. 
G. Tallent, Annie D. Tallent, and Robt. E. Tallent, then a 
Jaoy nine years of age, making twenty-eight in all. 

a 03 

H 2; 


Now that we had got safely away from Sioux City, the 
problem was how to escape suspicion. So on the canvas 
covers of the wagons was painted, in large, red letters, 
"O'Neill's Colony;" intended as a misleading device, 
which, however, turned out to be a rather transparent one, 
as very few seemed to be deceived thereby. 

The people of the small towns through which we passed, 
along the route, regarded our train with a good deal of 
justifiable curiosity, and our ears were frequently greeted 
with such questions as: " Hullo, where are you going? " 
" Where are you bound for, strangers? " 

For answer their attention was usually called to the 
painted words on the canvas. 

" Oh, you can't fool me ; " " What are you giving us? " 
and other localisms would be heard in reply. 

If they had only been permitted to have taken a look 
into the hidden recesses of our wagons, and discovered 
the aforesaid picks, shovels, and gold pans, their evident 
suspicions would have been amply verified. No doubt 
vague rumors had reached those people in advance that an 
expedition was on its way to the Black Hills, in reference 
to which the subjoined extracts from Nebraska newspapers 
will show the trend of public opinion. 


The West Point Republican says the following extract 
from the Oakdale Journal refers to the Sioux City party 
under Capt. Russell, a well-known and reliable frontiers- 
man, and adds; " Although attempting a dangerous task, 
we apprehend that every man fully realizes the situation 
and is prepared to face death at any moment." 

Here is what the Oakdale paper says : — 

" We were misinformed last week in regard to the des- 
tination of the supposed emigrant party which passed up 
the valley recently. Instead of being sturdy sons of toil 


destined, in the future, to delve in the rich soil of Holt 
County, their destination was the Eldorado of the North- 
west — the coveted gold fields of the Black Hills. They 
were resolute, determined looking fellows, and one 
scarcely knows which to do first — admire their courage or 
condemn their judgment in thus venturing into an Indian 
country in the present temper of the red men. That they 
will have to fight their way inch by inch, across the Sioux 
territory, is a fact patent to every one conversant with the 
facts in the case. 

" We fear they have counted without their host, for they 
go into a country where dwell Indians enough to surround 
their little party a hundred deep. If they are captured 
they have no reason to expect mere}' at the hands of the 
relentless, bloody Sioux." 

Until we had left the last vestige of civiliztition behind 
us, each day of our journey was very much like the pre- 
ceding one, the same routine of camp duties to perform, 
such as pitching tents, gathering wood, building fires, over 
which our evening meals were cooked at night, and taking 
down and folding tents, preparing our hasty breakfast just 
as the autumn days began to dawn. Each member of the 
party was required to serve his turn in the performance 
of all camp duties, which was really no hardship at that 
stage of journey, as no night patrol to guard the camp was 

Our train traveled r.ather slowly, each day covering an 
average distance of from fifteen to twenty miles, not a bad 
record, when it is considered that cattle are not noted for 
their speed. 

Spots, well supplied with wood and water, and favorable 
for grazing, were selected for camping grounds, usually 
by some one sent out in advance for that purpose. At 
night, upon ariving at the ground selected, no time was 
lost, each man proceeded with alacrity in the perform- 
ance of the duties falling to his share. Supper being 


disposed of and the remnants gathered up — not even one 
very small basketful — a couple of hours were then spent 
in telling stories and singing songs, and, by the way, there 
were some capital story-tellers in our party, and a few 
exceptionally tine singers — notably, young Harry Cooper, 
whose rich tenor voice, as it doated out on the still night 
air, made one think of the New Jerusalem. 

The only drawback to the enjoyment was, that by the 
rules adopted I was required to furnish my share of the 
entertainment by singing a song or telling a story. Story- 
telling being more in my line, I would sometimes rehearse 
a tale calculated to " harrow up the soul, freeze the young 
blood," etc. — usually one in which tomahawks and scalp- 
ing-knives conspicuously figured. At the close of these 
outdoor musicals all would retire to their tents to sleep — 
perchance to dream of home or " the girls they left behind 

I must confess here that I really enjoyed those social 
hours spent around the smouldering camp-tire after our days' 
journeys were ended. Yes, it was truly glorious out under 
heaven's dark canopy, with its myriads of bright stars 
twinkling lovingly down upon us like a very benediction — 
more especially so in that we realized that we were soon to 
become trespassers and outlaws without the pale of civili- 


Soon after we left the little village of Norfolk behind, 
and were slowly nearing the last settlement, one of the 
members of our expedition became suddenly very ill — so 
alarmingly sick that he felt it necessary to at once sever 
his connection with the enterprise, of which he had been 
one of the chief promoters, and speedily return to Sioux 
City. Now, I was uncharitable enough to think, at the 
time, that the poor fellow just became " awfully " home- 
sick, ^.n^\ my opinion has not materially changed since 


then. As it is not essential to this history, and for fear 
that I may have done him a mental injustice, his name shall 
be withheld. Yet, after all, there perhaps was not one of 
us who did not experience occasional twinges of homesick- 
ness as we approached the danger line, and visions of 
exposure, hardships, sickness, and even death rose up be- 
fore us, and the fierce warwhoop of the Sioux was already 
ringing in our ears. The outlook was by no means allur- 
ing, and one could scarcely be blamed for turning his back 
upon such a prospect. Besides, it is certainly no discredit 
to be homesick, but rather a proof that in all the wide 
world there is no place like home. 

This defection left the expedition with only twenty-five 
men to face the perils of the journey over the plains. 
However, we were in a measure compensated for our loss 
by a valuable addition to our number, soon after. 

A little later, one of our members, whom for prudential 
reasons we shall designate as Mr. A., incidentally came 
across a man who was the owner of a very diminutive 
donkey, which he was anxious to sell — otfering him at 
what he represented as a great bargain. Mr. A., being 
of a speculative turn of mind, and thinking -that he 
knew a good thing when he saw it, after carefully diag- 
nosing his small anatom}^ purchased the little equine 
for a reasonable consideration. After a critical examina- 
tion of the property I mentally decided, without prejudice, 
that the expedition had lost but little by the exchange, 
and, in behalf of the donkey, I will say that only on two' 
or three occasions had we reason to be sorry that he joined 
the expedition. 

However, when it was afterwards seen what prodigious 
burdens were loaded upon the docile little creature, and the 
way he was yanked about by the bits — emphasized by an 
occasional vigorous kick, I came to the conclusion that the 
poor little beast had indeed fallen into rather hard lines. 
Ah, me, many were the wordy combats I had with the pur- 


chaser on account of what 1 deemed cruelty to amimals — 
in which, much to ray discomforture, I always came out 
second best. I was on safe ground from a moral stand- 
point, but as he was the owner of the property he had a 
decided practical advantage. I was reminded one day dur- 
ins: active hostilities, that the donkey was his and that he 
felt at liberty to kick him whenever he was in a kicking 
mood without asking leave of any one. 

It is highly amusing now to recall these exciting pas- 
sages on the journey over the plains — and all on account 
of a donkey. 

It is quite remarkable now how a trip over the plains, 
with all its trying discomforts, brings to the surface the 
most unlovely elements of a man's character, or a woman's 
either for that matter. 

Now don't let anyone be led into the belief that our 
comrade was a monster of cruelty — far from it. On the 
other hand, he vvas one of the kindest and best fellows in 
the outfit. He merely wanted to demonstrate to the some- 
times headstrong little creature, that he was master, and 
felt compelled to resort to heroic methods to convince him 
of the fact. 

We had now arrived at our ostensible destination, O'Neill 
settlement, on the western verge, while really, our journey 
had but just begun. All the exposure, the hardships, and 
dangers had yet to be encountered. As there no longer 
seemed to be any great necessity for secrecy, our plans and 
objects were prettv freely discussed with the few settlers 
at this point, with the understanding, however, that no 
information be given regarding our movements. 

The people looked upon our undertaking as foolhardy in 
the extreme, and used all their native eloquence in trying 
to persuade me, at least, to change my mind and return 
before it was too late. But all their well-meant advice 
went for naught. 

Did I ever feel tempted to turn back? No, not at this 


stage of our journey, but later on, when trouble and mis- 
fortune seemed to gather darkly over us, when the pitiless 
storms of winter overtook us, when sickness and death 
entered our midst, and bore away one of our little band — 
then, ah, yes, I would have hailed with glad thankfulness 
any opportunity to return to the comforts and safety, of 
home, but no such opportunity was likely to occur. 

Turning back, after we had penetrated the hostile coun- 
try, was altogether out of the question, even if such a 
course had been permitted, as the exposure and danger 
of a backward journey would have been as great, if not 
even greater, than to advance, so the only way was to keep 
together and press resolutely on to the end. 

After a day spent in the O'Neill settlement for rest, our 
journey westward was resumed, and I now recall, how 
utterly horrified those kind people looked as our train 
pulled out of camp. 

They assured us that we were rushing headlong right 
into the jaws of tleath, and to be candid I was much of the 
same opinion, yet we were not disposed to profit by their 
well-meant advice. 

When about two days out from the last settlement, we 
were met by a party of United States surveyors who had 
been seut out to establish the Nebraska State line, but who, 
on account of the Indians, were forced to return without 
fully completing the work. They urged us not to proceed 
on our journey, saying that the Sioux had on their war 
paint and feathers, and in no mood to permit white men to 
enter their domain. The expedition was not to be intimi- 
dated, but, despite all warnings to the contrary, and fully 
conscious of the perils ahead, proceeded along the valley 
of the Elkhorn river, about on the line now occupied by 
the N. W. & M. V. R. R. to a point about half way 
between O'Neill and Long Pine, not far from old Fort 
Niobrara, where our train diverged to the right, then trav- 
eling in a northwesterly direction to the Niobrara river, 
which was reached on the 31st dav of October. 



Three weeks had now elapsed since leaving camp on the 
bank of the Mississippi river, yet only a very small part of 
our journey had been accomplished. 

The novelty, as well as the poetry of the trip, had by 
this time entirely worn off, and had instead become pain- 
fully realistic and prosaic. A few of our number would 
have willingly turned their backs on the promised land and 
returned had it been possible. Our stock had already 
begun to show the effects of their Ions: march. 




At this point the expedition encountered the first real 
diflSculty of the journey. It was found that ice had already 
formed on both sides of the river, while in the middle of 
the stream the current was very swift. The bed of the 
channel was covered with quicksand and very treacherous, 
hence any attempt to ford the river at that time seemed 
like a hazardous undertaking. After a brief consultation 
on the difficulties of the situation, it was decided to halt, 
and remain for a few days to give the stock time to feed 
and recuperate, or, until, by the melting of the ice on the 
edge of the stream, the crossing might be safely effected. 
We were astir at dawn on the following morning, and 
found, much to our satisfaction, that the ice, the result of 
a higher temperature, was fast losing its hold upon the 
banks, and, piece by piece, floating swiftly down with the 

During: the halt several of our men started out to make a 
reconnoissance of the country ahead of us as fur as the Fort 
Randall road, on the Keya Paha, to ascertain the most 
practicable route, and also to look for any signs of the 
proximity of Indians, returning late with the report that no 
Indians had been seen. 

At 10 o'clock on the morning of the 2d of November, 
preparations were completed for crossing the treacherous 
stream, and by noon we were all landed safely on the 
opposite side, albeit not without a hard struggle, as the 
quicksands on the bed made it extremely difficult for the 
cattle to keep their feet, the shifting sands causing some 
of them to fall several times durins; the crossing. 


Let it be understood that henceforth on our journey, all 
orders from headquarters were to he obeyed to the letter, 
" without asking the reason why or daring to make reply." 

By the wa}^ have my readers ever observed how prone 
some men are, when vested with a " little brief authority," 
to become arbitrary and domineering? I have, and it is 
enough to make the angels weep. Of course, now that we 
were no longer under the protection of the law, the neces- 
sity of having a leader became apparent. It also became 
vitally important that certain regulations and rules of 
discipline be laid down and rigidly enforced. All fully 
realized that if every man was permitted to be a law unto 
himself, it would result in confusion worse confounded. 

From this point our march was continued north and 
west, following for some distance the line of the Nebraska 
State survey, thence in the same direction to the Keya 
Paha river and the Fort Randall Government road. 

While in camp at this point a small detachment of United 
States cavalry, with an ambulance, was seen passing along 
the road to the westward only a short distance away, but 
notwithstanding the fact that our stock was scattered all 
around, feeding in plain view, we were not discovered, 
strangely enough. Their appearance naturally created no 
little excitement in our midst for a short time. I remem- 
ber we were all in mortal fear lest the irrepressible donkey 
might betray us into the hands of the soldiers, it being his 
custom to indulge in the pastime of braying lustily from 
the time he was set free from his burden on reaching 
camp, and all along through the silent watches of the 
night, at short intervals until the dawn of the morning, 
and, although he was Lilliputian as to size, his braying 
was as loud, sonorous and prolonged, as the notes of a 
fog horn on the orreat lakes. However, as good luck 
would have it, he did not bray at that crisis, at least not 
until the soldiers were well out of hearing, and had disap- 
peared from sight beyond an adjacent hill, when we again 
breathed freely. 



Forsooth, that little midget of a donkey was the source 
of a great deal of trouble and inexpressible anxiety to us all 
along the line through the hostile country on account of 
that unfortunate habit of his. While we all felt it neces- 
sary to walk around on tip-toe, so to speak, talk in sub- 
dued whispers and extinguish our fires before dark, he 
would bray away at his own sweet will without let or 
hindrance. Finally we were forced, in sheer self-defense, 
to resort to the expedient of putting a muzzle on him for 
several nights during the most critical part of our journey; 
of course, that had to be discontinued as he must eat if 
he was expected to carry burdens, besides, we felt it was 
not quite democratic to suppress freedom of speech. 

We now began to realize that we were treading on for- 
bidden ground — that we were without the pale of the law 
and cut off from communication with the outside world — 
that henceforth danger would menace us from every 

At any time we were liable to be met or overtaken by 
roving bands of Indians, who we felt sure would look with 
no favor upon our aggressive movements. On the other 
hand, we were still more afraid of the authorities we had 
secretly defied. 

We were in constant expectation of seeing a troop of 
cavalry come upon us from the rear, seize our train, burn 
our wagons and supplies, march us back in disgrace, and 
possibly place us in durance vile. 

To guard against such a contingency, a rather curious 
piece of strategy was resorted to. Every few miles our 
train would move round several times in ever-increasing 
circles, then off in another direction, zigzagging over the 
ground in what I thought a very peculiar manner. At 
first I was greatly surprised and somewhat alarmed at these 
erratic movements, and really thought that the boys had 
suddenly taken leave of their senses, but when it was 
explained to me that it was done to lead possible pursuers 
off our track I was greatly relieved and felt assured that 


the heads of our men were still level. In fact, I regarded 
the maneuvering as a wonderfully brilliant conception. 

It now became necessary that some precautionary meas- 
ures against probable Indian depredation should be adopted ; 
therefore, a code of such rules and regulations as were 
needed for our own personal safety and the protection of 
our stock, was agreed upon, which were in substance as 
follows: — 

All camp duties must be completed, and fires extinguished 
before dusk. No loud talk or other unnecessary noise shall 
be allowed. All members of the expedition owning stock 
shall be required to perform guard duty at night — three 
to patrol the outskirts of the camp until midnight, then 
three others to take their places until morning, or day- 
light — no members shall be exempt from guard duty, 
except in cases of sickness. 

These requirements seemed comparatively light, at first, 
but, as the train advanced into the Indian country, and the 
storms came, and the weather grew colder and colder, the 
thermometer going sometimes to twenty -five or thirty de- 
grees below zero, with no fires to warm by, they became a 
terrible hardship. Not a few murmurings were heard from 
the men who had this hard duty to perform, and as the 
days went by and no trouble came, a spirit of insubordina- 
tion began to manifest itself — in truth, there was for a 
time some talk of a mutiny, which was, however, averted 
by the better judgment of the majority. 

This standing night guard was especially a hardship on 
those who were compelled to leave their warm beds, and 
go out into the bitter cold at midnight to patrol their beats 
until the morning. Their boots became as hard and un- 
manageable as cast iron, with the extreme cold and frost, 
and it was with the greatest difficulty they succeeded in 
pulling them on. As they tugged, pulled, pounded, and 
struggled with their refractory footwear, I could hear from 
my comfortable quarters on the ground floor of my bed- 
room, frequent and rather forcible ejaculations, which 


sounded to me wonderfully like snatches of a prayer, or 
quotations from the "Litany," as they floated in to me 
through the folds of my tent. I suspected at the time, — 
not without good valid grounds, however, that they were 
not intended for either. I felt a great sympathy for the 
boys, and often advised them to go to bed with their boots 
on, but, although they received my suggestion with some 
degree of tolerance, my advice was never followed. 


Perhaps some of my readers may like to know how we 
fared during our long journey over the plains. Well, 
until the settlements were left behind, we lived on the fat 
of the land through which we passed, being able to procure 
from the settlers along the route many articles which we 
were after compelled to do entirely without. 

From that time to the end of our journey, or rather 
until we returned to civilization, the luxuries of milk, eggs, 
vegetables, etc., could not, of course, be had for love or 

Our daily " bill of 'fare," which, in the absence of menu 
cards, was stereotyped on memory's tablets, consisted of 
the following articles, to wit: For breakfast, hot biscuit, 
fried bacon, and black coffee ; for dinner, cold biscuit, cold 
baked beans, and black coffee ; for supper, black coffee, 
hot biscuit, and baked beans warmed over. Occasionally, 
in lieu of hot biscuits, and for the sake of variety, we 
would have what is termed in camp parlance, flapjacks. 
The men did the cooking for the most part, I, the while, 
seated on a log or an inverted water bucket, watching the 
process through the smoke of the camp fire, which, for 
some unexplainable reason, never ceased for a moment to 
blow directly in my face, shift as I might from point to 
point of the compass. I now recall how greatly I was im- 
pressed with the dexterity and skill with which they 
flopped over the flapjacks in the frying-pan. By some 
trick of legerdemain, they would toss up the cake in the 


air, a short distance, where it would turn a partial somer- 
sault, then unfailingly return to the pan the other side up. 
After studying the modus operandi, for some time one day, 
I asked permission to try my skill, which was readily 
granted by the cook, who doubtless anticipated a failure. 
I tossed up the cake as I had seem them do, but much to 
my chagrin, the downcoming was wide of the mark. The 
cake started from the pan all right, but instead of keeping 
the perpendicular, as by the laws of gravitation it should 
have done, it flew off, at a tangent, in a most tantalizing 
manner, and fell to the ground several feet away from the 
pan, much to the amusement of the bo3^s. I came to the 
conclusion that tossing pancakes was not my forte. 

To relieve the monotony of our daily fare, our tables (?) 
were quite frequently provided with game of various kinds, 
such as elk, deer, antelope, grouse, etc., large bands of 
antelope being seen almost daily along the route over the 
plains. Each outfit had their own hunters, who supplied, 
for the most part, their respective messes, with game, but 
Capt. Tom. Russell, who was the real " Nimrod " of the 
party, and a crack shot, bagged much more game than he 
needed, which surplus was distributed among the camps. 
Besides being a good hunter and skillful marksman, Capt. 
Tom Russell ever proved himself a brave and chivalrous 
gentleman, during the long, trying journey, and somehow 
I always felt safer when he was near. 

There were several others in the party, too, who won the 
reputation of being skilled hunters, and judging by the 
marvelous stories told of the great number of deer, elk, 
and other animals killed, which could not be brought into 
camp, they deserved to stand at the head of the profession. 
If there is anything in the wide world, more than another, 
of which the average man feels proud, it is of the quantity 
of game he captures. 

Speaking of game brings to mind an experience, the very 
remembrance of which always causes an uprising and revo- 
lution in the region of the principal organ of digestion. 


Some of the boys, in their very commendable desire to pro- 
vide the camp with game, one day captured an immense 
elk, bringing in the choicest parts for distribution among 
the different messes, and judging from the flavor and 
texture of the flesh of the animal it must have been a 
denizen of the Hills since the time of the great upheaval, 
and to make a bad matter worse, our chef for the day 
conceived the very reprehensible idea of cooking the meat 
by a process called " smothering." 

Having a deap-seated, dyed-in-the-wool antipathy to 
smothered meats of all kinds, 1 employed all the force of 
my native eloquence in trying to persuade him to adopt 
some more civilized method of cooking, but no, he was 
determined to smother it or not cook it at all, as by that 
process, he said, all the flavor of the meat would be re- 
tained, and he continued: "If my way doesn't suit you, 
cook it yourself." Accordingly it was cooked his way 
and brought to the table — the word table is here used 
figuratively — and truth compels me to admit that it looked 
very tempting, so, as I was abnormally hungry that night, 
I conveyed to my mouth, with a zeal and alacrity worthy 
of a better cause, an exceedingly generous morsel of the 
meat ; but, oh, ye shades of my ancestors ! it was speedily 
ejected and then and there I pronounced it the most vil- 
lainous morsel I had ever tasted in all my checkered career, 
and the cook was compelled to concur in that opinion. 
"Ugh!" although more than two decades have passed 
since then, I can taste it yet. The trouble, however, was 
more in the elk than in the cooking. 

All formality was thrown to the winds at meal time, 
each one helping himself or herself with a liberality and 
abandon, that was truly astonishing and, I might add, 
alarming, in view of the fact that our larders were becom- 
ing rapidly depleted, and that we were completely cut off 
from our base of supplies. Our coffee was drank from tin 
cups and our bacon and beans eaten from tin plates. Yes, 
we had knives and forks — not silver, nor even silver- 


plated, yet we enjoyed our meals, for with appetites 
whetted with much exercise and fresh air we were always 
ravenously hungry, and could eat bacon and beans with 
the keenest relish. 

Strange as it now seems, while journeying over the 
plains I was for the most time blessed, or cursed, with a 
voracious, almost insatiable appetite — in fact, was always 
hungry during my waking hours, and what is most remark- 
able, none of the others were afflicted with the malady. 

At the outset of the journey I had protested strongly 
against the kind of food on which we were being regaled, 
declaring that I never could be tempted to eat such abom- 
inable stuff, and prophesying my own demise from starva- 
tion within a month. Later, however, as I trudged along 
on foot in the rear of the wagon, I would often, between 
meals, stealthily approach the wagon, surreptitiously raise 
the lid of the " grub " box and abstract therefrom a great 
slice of cold bacon and a huge flapjack as large around as 
the periphery of a man's hat — and a sombrero hat, at 
that — and devour them without ever flinching or exhibit- 
insf the slightest disijust. 


As we advanced further into the Indian domain, Capt. 
Russell and our leader Mr. Gordon began to bring back to 
camp startling reports of fresh trails discovered, and moc- 
casin tracks recently made, giving unmistakable evidence 
that the dreaded savages were not far away. " Well, boys, 
we are almost sure to have a moccasin dance to-night, and 
we must be prepared to give the braves a fitting welcome," 
warned the captain. However, as we were not treated to 
an exhibition of their terpsichorean skill, nor molested at 
that time, the conclusion was reached, that these fresh 
trails were made by the Indians returning from their sum- 
mer hunt, to winter quarters at their various agencies. 
All unconscious were they of the near proximity of the 
invaders, who, though brave, were not insensible to the 


perils which at the time surrounded them, and, figuratively 
speaking, slept nightly, on their arms, to be ready for an 
attack at the first warning cry from the faithful sentinels 
on guard. We were in great danger of being discovered 
at any moment, as we Avere crossing their trails every day 
at this sttige of our journey — and frequently their camp 
fires were found yet burning, 


Soon after leaving the settlements, a number of our 
little party, including myself, were stricken with a malady 
which finally culminated in the death of one of our number, 
and in view of the exposure and hardships, and manner of 
living, it seemed a miracle that more did not succumb to 
their dreadful effects. Baked beans, hot biscuits, and 
alkali water, are not conducive to longevity. 

About this time two or three other members of our 
expedition began to show acute symptoms of home-sickness, 
viz. : Charles Blackwell, the sickest on the list; Eaf. 
Witcher,and, to confess the truth, I had had by this time 
several spasms of the disease myself, although I had reso- 
lutely refused to acknowledge it. Eaf, however, having a 
good saddle horse, and therefore, in a sense, independent 
of the train, determined to return to civilization at all 
hazards — which he felt that he was at perfect liberty to do. 

His arrangements were speedily made. The contents of 
his grip, such as needles, thread, buttons, pins, etc., etc., 
were divided among his friends, the pins falling to my lot. 
He bade us all " God speed " on our dangerous journey that 
night, as he was to start on his homeward march before the 
dawn of the following day. But, alas, the " best laid plans 
o' mice and men aft sans; ajjlee." A council was called that 
night (I was never admitted to their conferences), at which 
a preamble and resolutions, something like the following, 
were adopted : — 

Whereas, we, in council assembled, have by sagacity and 
shrewd management, succeeded in eluding the vigilance of 


the powers that be, up to date ; and whereas we believe that 
any direct or indirect comraunication with the outside world 
would be dangerous to the success, and prejudicial to the 
interests of our expedition ; therefore, be it resolved, That 
no member of the expedition shall be permitted to return 
to civilization which we all voluntarily left; and, be it fur- 
ther resolved. That any attempt to return shall be deemed 
treasonable to the expedition, and that the offender shall 
be punished, by being disarmed and placed under guard, 
until the dangerous inclination subsides. 

This seemed an arbitrary proceeding in a democratic 
country like the United States, where every man is guar- 
anteed the liberty of going or coming, according to the 
bent of his own inclinations, provided in so doing he does 
not interfere with the rights of others, but, it must not be 
forgotten that we were at the time a law unto ourselves. 
Eaf. made a vigorous protest against this high-handed 
exercise of power. " Perhaps some of 3'ou think that I 
am afraid of the Indians; but I want you all to understand 
that I am no coward," said he, " I am just heartily sick of 
this whole disagreeable business," he added. That no 
braver fellow ever shouldered a Winchester is believed; 
that he possessed a wonderful amount of pluck, and was 
capable of great physical endurance is shown later. Im- 
pelled by a spirit of true democracy, I ventured a plea for 
individual personal liberty, and got snubbed for my pains. 
The jiowers were inexorable. Eaf. became afterward rec- 
onciled to the situation, — saying to me one day a little 
later : " Well, this is a rather unpleasant experience, but, if 
you are able to endure the fatigue, the exposure, and all 
the other disagreeable things of a journey like this, surely 
I ought not to complain." " I believe," he continued, " if 
you were not here we should become totally demoralized." 
Such an expression was, of course, very comforting to me, 
as I had always felt myself a great incumbrance to the 



Shortly after crossing the South Fork of the White 
river, an occurrence took phice which came very near 
resulting in a terrible tragedy. According to the account 
given by one who was an eye-witness of the unfortunate 
affair, the trouble originated substantially as follows: — 

John Gordon, the leader of our party, who, by some 
curious and illogical process of reasoning had evolved the 
strange idea that he owned the expedition in fee simple 
and in consequence of this foolish delusion, exercised the 
little brief authority conferred upon him with all the arro- 
gance of an autocrat, on the one side, and Charles Cordeiro, 
in whose veins bounded the hot blood of a long line of 
Moorish ancestors, and who was stanch and true to the tra- 
ditions of his race, on the other side, were the prime 
factors in the difficulty. 

The country through which we were traveling at the time 
being broken and very rough, Mr. Gordon in his capacity 
of leader had ordered some work done along the line of 
march to render it more practicable for the passage of our 

Mr. Cordeiro being a little slow in obeying the mandates 
of the august leader, was duly reprimanded for his want of 
alacrity, and a few bitter invectives — more forcible than 
euphonious — were hurled at the delinquent. Mr. Cordeiro 
then, I believe, returned the compliment by inviting his 
opponent to take a journey to the tropical domain presided 
over by Pluto and his fair queen Proserpine. 

Mr. Gordon, not willing to be outdone in politeness, then 
applied to Mr. Cordeiro an epithet or cognomen not recog- 
nized in the nomenclature of our race, which naturally 
aroused the ire of the fiery Moor, who prided himself greatly 
on his ancestry, to such a white heat that he quickly raised 
his gun, leveled it directly at the heart of his traducer, and 
fired, missing his mark. Just before firing, however, he 
heard a cry of: "Hold, don't shoot I " and turning his 


head suddenly to see whence the cry proceeded, he looked 
right into the muzzle of a gun in the hands of Mr. Bishop, 
one of Mr. Gordon's backers ; in so doing his aim became 
unsteady, his gun deflected a little, hence his failure. In 
endeavoring to extricate his revolver from his belt, after 
his gun had missed, he stumbled and fell, when Mr. Gordon 
rushed upon his fallen foe with drawn knife, and in his 
uncontrollable rage would probably have finished his 
victim then and there, had it not been for the prompt and 
brave interference of Lyman Lamb, who opportunely 
rushed upon the scene, seized the hand of the excited 
leader and wrested the knife therefrom. By this time 
others of our party had gathered around the scene or 
conflict and insisted that the disgraceful exhibition be 
brought to a speedy termination. 


Mr. Cordeiro claimed that Mr. Gordon was advancing 
toward him with his hand upon his revolver, at the same 
time saying: " Now, Charley, let's settle this matter right 
here." Gordon, on the other hand, alleging that he did 
not have his hand on his revolver, but simply said; " Now, 
Charley, let's have an understanding." Which version is 
correct is not known. 

Mr. Gordon and his sympathizers were clamorous in their 
demands that summary punishment be meted out to the 
offender, but the level-headed and unprejudiced members, 
who were largely in the majority, said no ; and they would 
have prevented any violence at the risk of their lives. 
Finally after a good deal of argument pro and con, the 
belligerents consented to accept terms of peace, which were, 
that Mr. Cordeiro be dispossessed of his arms for a period 
of ten days, when they were to be restored in case of 
peaceable behavior. A resolution was also passed, making 
it a high crime for any member of the party to threaten 
the life of any other member, under a heavy penalty, the 
nature or extent of which is not now remembered, possi- 


bly, the death penalty. The opposing forces then stacked 
their arms, and sweet peace once more reigned in our 

Which was considered the more guilty party? Well, 
opinion among the members was pretty evenly divided. 
How many of us would be willing to tamely accept 

Human nature manifests itself the same out in the soli- 
tude of the inhospitable prairie, as in more settled com- 
munities, and even the most amiable of our race anywhere, 
will scarcely submit to be trampled upon beyond a certain 
point. And that point is where forbearance ceases to be a 





Long before reaching the White river, water became 
very scare — long stretches of barren arid countrj' were 
being traversed, without finding a drop, either for ourselves 
or stock — snow having to be melted at times for both 
purposes. Upon reaching the White river we were reduced 
to the necessity of loading one of our wagons with blocks 
of ice, cut from the almost solidly frozen stream, which 
was melted from time to time as it became necessary for 
our own use, or for watering our stock. 

The water thus secured was in a high degree offensive 
and nauseating, wholly unfit for man or beast, and not 
until nearly famished with thirst could I be tempted to 
drink a drop of the vile compound. How often in those 
trying days did our minds wander back to an " old moss- 
covered bucket, as it rose dripping from fondly remem- 
bered wells." Oh, the boon of clear, sparkling, cold 
water — more precious by far than the nectar of the gods. 

Thus laden with the unpalatable conglomeration of chalk 
and congealed water — and I know not what other ingre- 
dients, which was to serve us for drink for the two or three 
days following — we continued on our dreary march across 
theMauvaises Terres, or Bad Lands, and language is inade- 
quate to describe the utter desolation of the country 
through which we passed. Long ranges of hills, cut up by 
a perfect labryinth of ravines or gorges into all sorts of 
fantastic shapes, into various architectural forms, resem- 
bling fortresses, castles, and even small villages, confronted 
us on every hand. There was but little vegetation, with 
here and there a solitary pine tree to relieve the barrenness 


in this noted paradise of the scientists. The only sign of 
animal life to be seen while crossing this *' Inferno," was 
a single mountain sheep that stood on the extreme summit 
of one of the white chalky bluffs to our right, making a 
wonderfully attractive picture as with head erect he sur- 
veyed in apparent wonderment our slowly moving train, 
doubtless the first spectacle of the kind he had ever 
witnessed. Was he sole monarch of that entire God-for- 
saken domain? At any rate I felt convinced that no 
human being could long abide in such a place. 

Numerous evidences that we were traveling over a 
region that had at some time in the dead past been the 
bed of an ocean were discovered; pieces of fossil bones, 
and petrified shells of various kinds and large size, lay 
scattered over the surface, some of which we gathered. 
Of course, those things called up interesting reflections, 
but as we were not at the time in search of the fossilized 
remains of animals, large or small, vertebrate or inverte- 
brate, that had existed in prehistoric times, nor very 
scientifically inclined, we paid but little attention to those 
wonderful deposits. I would like to ask, who would be 
scientific, with feverished tongue and parched lips, and 
visions of the scalping knife flourishing over their heads? 
Besides we were nearly suffocated with the alkali dust 
that rose in clouds at every step and every revolution of 
the wheels of our train — notwithstanding it was almost 
winter. The whole aspect of this region of desolation 
suggested the thought, that a Heaven-directed curse had, 
at some time, swept over the land, withering and consum- 
ing everything in its path, both animate and inanimate. It 
must be borne in mind that this region was seen at its 
worst, being the time when all vegetation was cut down by 
the frost. It is asserted that, in many portions of the Bad 
Lands, the grasses grow quite luxuriantly, and frequently 
springs of good water are found. We, however, failed to 
find any such luxury as a spring of water (or water of any 
kind that was fit for drink), and oh, the intolerable thirst! 


I would have been willing to have given my kingdom (had 
I one), not like Richard III. for a horse, but for a single 
draught of the water that comes bubbling up from the 
depths of some cold mountain spring. 


On the morning before our train reached the valley of 
the Bad river (but I am at a loss to understand why it 
is called a river, as there was not a drop of water to be 
found within a radius of several miles of the valley), the 
condition of our sick patient became so serious, that it was 
suggested and urged by some of the more humane of the 
party that the train halt for a few days, or until the suf- 
fering man got better. I think none of us realized that he 
would die. It was decided, however, that, as we were in 
the very heart of the hostile country, delay would be danger- 
ous and unjustifiable, in that the lives of the whole party 
would be jeopardized — and, it was argued, that his bed 
could be so adjusted, that by traveling slowly he would suffer 
no great discomfort. Accordingly, one of the wagons was 
emptied of its contents and a comfortable bed prepared 
upon which the sick man was laid, nevermore to rise. 

All that day I walked along on foot by the side of the 
wagon, withthe lono;ao;onizinoi; wails of thedvino: man ringing 
in my ears; every cry piercing my heart like a two-edged 
sword, he begging to be shot, and thus relieved from his 
terrible suffering. This thought no doubt was suggested to 
his mind by the sight of a gun strapped to the canvas 
above his head, which was very soon removed. About 
one hour before arriving at our camping ground his cries 
ceased, and we all fervently hoped he had fallen asleep. 
Upon reaching camp and looking into the wagon it was 
seen that he, indeed, was peacefully sleeping, the sleep 
that knows no wakening. " Ah, pity 'tis, 'tis true," that 
the poor pilgrim had fought the supreme battle alone, with 
no tender hand to wipe away death's gathering teardrops, 
or smooth his dying pillow — but — yes, did not the pitying 


angels hover above and around hira, even 'neath that 
coarse canvas? 

Gloom, like a dark pall, hung over our little camp on 
the dreary, lonely prairie that night. Death was in our 
midst and every gust of wind that blew adown the valley 
seemed laden with the wails and groans of our departed 

I must record here that everything kinds hands could do, 
with the medicines available, was done for his relief and 

Now, notwithstanding the extreme dangers of the situa- 
tion, it became imperative that we camp for a day in order 
that the last sad rites be [jcrformed for our dead comrade, 
J. J. Williams, a skilled artisan, and a genius in many ways, 
taking charge of the preparations for the burial. 

A coffin of small hewn timber.s, strongly pinned together 
with wooden pins, was constructed, in which the body was 
decently laid, then a cover, also, of hewn timbers was 
pinned down in like manner. Surely no prowling wolves 
or coyotes could ever reach him in his impregnable bed! 
A grave was then dug on a little grassy eminence over- 
looking the lonely valley, then sadly and tenderly his 
comrades lowered him into his final resting-place, there to 
await the call of the last trumpet on resurrection morn. 

A cross, also of small, smooth, hewn timber was erected 
over his grave. On the ))edestal of the cross was written 
the following inscription: " Died on the 27th of Novem- 
ber, 1874, on his way to the Black Hills, Moses Aarons, 
aged 32 years. ' May he rest in peace.' '' 

No audible prayer was uttered; no funeral dirge was 
sung ; each one stood reverently with bowed, uncovered 
head, around the grave until the first earth fell upon his 
rude cofiin, then turned sadly away. I would give much 
to know whether that solitary grave has remained undis- 
turbed, all the long years since then. 

There is a tradition handed down to us, that Indians 
will never disturb a grave surmounted by a cross, as they 


have the greatest veneration for this symbol of Christ's 
death, — hence the erection of the cross. 

At 3 o'clock p. m. November 28th, the simple ceremo- 
nies being over, our train moved on, leaving our late com- 
panion in that desolate spot, far from home and friends, 
where the summer's breeze and winter's blast would wail 
a perpetual requiem athwart his lone grave. 

It all seemed to me peculiarly sad at the time, and I could 
but look back with wet eyes at the slowly receding cross, 
bathed in the pale light of a late November sun, until it 
was finally hidden from my view. Ah, how deeply I felt 
impressed with the inscrutable mysteries of Providence ! 
But it was not for us to understand why a man, more or 
less accustomed to the hardships of life, should be cut down 
in all the glory and strength of his young manhood, while 
a delicate woman, wholly unused to exposure, or any of 
the privations and hardships incident to such a journey, 
should be given strength to endure and overcome all the 
diflSculties of that terrible march. 

Truly " God's ways are mysterious and past finding 


It has been said that there is but a step from the sublime 
to the ridiculous ; so likewise there is but a step from the 
pathetic to the ludicrous ; for, right upon the heels of the 
sad and impressive scene we had just witnessed, followed 
an incident which caused a good deal of amusement in our 
midst, and illustrated how very near laughter and tears are 
together. Mr. Blackwell had the good fortune of captur- 
ing a beautiful silver gray fox, the skin of which is ac- 
counted of great value, and after divesting the beauty of its 
sheeny outer garment he left the carcass to be food for the 
hungry coyotes that were very numerous on the plains. 
However, the ravenous beasts came very near being 
cheated out of the feast intended for them, and by one of 
the hearty pioneers, too, who innocently supposing the flesh 



good for food lingered behind the train for the purpose of 
securing the coveted meat. 

Shortly after reaching camp that night the donkey was 
seen approaching in the reflected rays of the sinking sun 
with the carcass of the fox standing bolt upright, stiff and 
stark on his back (frozen solid), and a more ludicrous 
spectacle could hardly be imagined. When the attention 
of the boys was called to the approaching donkey and his 
nude rider, with the owner marching gaily along beside 
them, the comical looking proposition created no end of 
merriment in the camp. It was perfectly irresistible. 

When told that foxes were considered wholly unfit for 
human food, the poor fellow very reluctantly gave it 
back to the wolves. He did not see why foxes were not 
quite as wholesome and palatable as the opossum, the 
woodchuck, and the squirrel ; neither did I. 

In marching across the Bad Lands we found a great 
scarcity of both fuel and water, and had not the precaution 
been taken of loading wood onto the wagons before leaving 
the White river, the inevitable black coffee and hot bread 
would have been for awhile unknown quantities. 

The diflSculties of the march increased as the days went 
by. The cattle became completely worn out from their 
long journey over the rough, untraveled ground, without 
being allowed suJ9Scient time to feed. Their hoofs became 
worn to the quick, and it looked as if some of them would 
have to be abandoned on the plains to die. To partially 
relieve them, they were provided with leather shoes, divi- 
ded to fit the hoofs, which for a time remedied the diflSculty, 
this, however, affording only temporary relief to the poor, 
emaciated creatures that were becoming day by day less 
able to carry their rapidly diminishing loads. 

Slowly and toilfully we crept along over the hard frozen 
ground, with nothing to relieve the tiresome monotony of 
the march, save the amusement afforded us by the daily 
chases of the greyhounds after some kind of game. If 
the game happened to be a band of antelope, they, with a 


snort of defiance, would scamper away over the prairie 
with almost lightning speed, those not especially singled out 
by the hounds, turning now and then, with heads erect, 
and nostrils distended, to view the situation, and make 
sure that there was really sufficient cause for so much alarm 
on their part ; and it was truly a beautiful sight. The 
hounds, selecting their victims from the band, would (Dan 
in the lead) scud away after them, in a perfect frenzy of ex- 
citement, usually running them to some point beyond our 
reach of vision, so that vve rarely knew the real denouement 
of the exciting chase. If, on the other hand, the game 
chanced to be a rabbit, the chase proved to be a very dis- 
appointing and unsatisfactory affair to both Dan and Fan, 
on account of its shortness, as they were soon run to cover. 
The rabbit, bounding away in great leaps, covering a dis- 
tance of twelve or fifteen feet at a jump, would suddenly 
disappear in its burrow, not far away, the dogs then 
returning, with a wofuliy crestfallen expression on their 
intelligent faces, and their tails dangling down, in a truly 
despondent manner. Nevertheless, we all felt exceedingly 
grateful to them for even this temporary diversion along 
the dreary road. 

Let none of my readers be deluded into the belief that 
there was anything, either very romantic or pleasant con- 
nected with this part of our journey, unless shivering over 
the dying embers of a camp fire, silently watching the day- 
light gradually fade into darkness, until all the surround- 
ing desolation was overspread with the sable wings of night, 
and then creeping, benumbed with cold, into bed, be 
romantic, or unless getting up at the early dawn, partaking 
of a hastily prepared breakfast, none too tempting to the 
appetite, and trudging off through the snow, day after day, 
be considered a pleasure. If any one labors under such a 
foolish delusion, let such individual take a journey under 
like conditions and circumstances, and be disenchanted. 




We bad our first glimpse of the Black Hills about ten 
o'clock a. m., December 31st. The Black Hills! The 
Black Hills ! passed from lip to lip. A glad cry of relief 
went forth at the sight, and every heart sang preans of joy 
and thankfulness, that our destination was so nearly reached. 
We could see plainly, away in the distance, to the left of 
us, the long line of dark shadowy hills, dimly outlined 
against the blue sky, and to the right, Bear Butte, standing 
alone like a huge sentinel guarding the entrance to that 
unknown land. 

Of course, the Hills were yet along distance away, but 
our goal was always after in sight to buoy up our spirits. 

Several days before sighting the Hills some of our poor 
cattle had become so reduced and footsore, that it seemed 
impossible for them to proceed any farther with their 
loads. It appeared as if some would be compelled to 
abandon their wagons and stock of supplies, and make 
their way into the Hills as best they could with such provis- 
ions as they could carry, or adopt the alternative of going 
into winter quarters on the bleak prairie. This terrible alter- 
native, however, was happily averted. The owners of the bet- 
ter conditioned stock acted the part of the good Samaritan, 
by relieving the disabled cattle of a part of their loads, thus 
increasing that of their own already overburdened stock. 
Two or three hundred pounds, more or less, was loaded on 
to the submissive donkey, and thus lightened we were all 
able to proceed together on our journey greatly to our 




On the morning of December 3cl we found our train on the 
crest of a high precipitous bluff, near the point where the 
waters of Elk creek swell the current of the Cheyenne 
river, and in something of a dilemma. 

To descend the almost perpendicular front of the bluff 
with the wagons looked impossible. Descend we must, 
however, or take the alternative of turning back, and trav- 
eling many miles in search of a more practicable point. 
Finally, they hit upon the expedient of letting the wagons 
down the steep incline by means of ropes, with which, for- 
tunately, the party was well supplied. The cattle were 
unhitched, and driven across, and down the vertical bluff 
first, then the wagons, one by one, were lowered by means 
of ropes to the valley below. 


At this time occurred the most exciting episode of the 
entire journey. As the last wagon was being lowered, some 
one discovered moving objects a mile or so down the valley. 
Field glasses being brought to bear revealed that the ani- 
mated objects were nothing more nor less than about two 
score of Indian ponies, feeding along the valley of the 
river, — a convincing evidence that their owners were near 
at hand. " Ah, then there was hurrying to and fro," but 
•* no gathering tears, nor tremblings of distress." Oh, no, 
just a firm compression of the lips, a flashing of the eye, 
then a hurried examination of Winchesters, a buckling on 
of cartridge belts, and the boys were ready for action at the 
first sign of hostility on the part of the Indians. A fight 


seemed inevitable, and there were no cowards in our little 
band of men. 

I was speedily and rather unceremoniously ushered into 
a covered wagon out of sight — under protest, however, 
for I am nothing if not curious, but there was some con- 
solation in the thought that from my point of vantage, 
everything that transpired could be plainly seen. The 
reason assigned for such summary procedure was that the 
presence of a woman might lead the Indians to suspect 
that the party contemplated a longer stay within their 
domain than would be agreeable to them. 

Very soon two mounted braves came dashing up the 
valley toward us, being very careful, however, not to come 
within gunshot of our train ; then after a hasty survey of 
the situation, with a shrill warwhoop, they rode back at full 
speed to report the number of pale faces and their apparent 

Orders were then given to cross the river and halt for 
dinner, although an hour earlier than the usual time for our 
noonday meal. Soon after going into camp, five mounted 
Indians rode into our midst, and remained until the train 
was ready to pull out. The Indians improved the time 
by trying to barter away their ponies for ammunition and 
guns ; and no doubt they would have given several 
of their ponies for one of the Winchesters, with which our 
party was equipped, and which they examined with a great 
deal of interest. Of course we had neither guns nor ammu- 
nition to barter away for ponies nor money. 

These Indians seemed quite friendly, and to do them 
justice, they were really quite respectable looking Indians, 
as Indians go, but like all their race, the most inveterate of 
beggars. They were fitted out with a goodly supply of 
flour, bacon, sugar, and tobacco — yes, we had tobacco, 
and pipes too. 

From my safe retreat 'neath the canvas, through a con- 
venient aperture, I had a " bird's-eye " view of the whole 
procedure and to tell the truth, I felt much uneasiness on 


seeing the liberality with which the boys were doling out 
their precious stock of provisions to the graceless savages. 
In truth, I could scarcely refrain from uttering a warning 
cry from my hiding-place, from which I hoped soon to 
emerge, but I remembered the ammunition episode in the 
early part of the journey, and heroically closed my lips. 

When the train received its marching orders the Indians, 
laden with the generous contributions, returned to their 
camp, a short distance below. These Indians, who proved 
to be a band of Cheyennes returning from a summer hunt 
to winter quarters — are reputed to be less warlike than 
many of the other tribes, — at all events, they gave us no 
farther trouble. Perhaps they stood in wholesome terror 
of the formidable equipments of our expedition and 
thought discretion the better part of valor. Had we en- 
countered an equal number of the fierce and bloodthirsty 
Sioux, doubtless I should have a far different story to 
relate, or, perchance, there might not have been one left 
to tell the tale. I am of the opinion, however, that our 
plucky little band would have proved more than a match 
for the sneaking savages, as they were on the constant 
lookout, and always prepared for a surprise. 

After this encounter, and, in view of a possible attempt 
to run off the stock of the train, a double guard was placed 
to patrol the outskirts of the camp, to watch the cattle, for 
several nights thereafter, when, as we were not molested, 
the force was reduced to its original number. 

Two days after leaving the Cheyenne river, one of our 
cattle gave up the struggle, unable to proceed a step far- 
ther. The worn-out beast was unhitched from the wagon, 
the yoke removed from his galled shoulders, and he was 
turned out on the prairie to die, and the last we saw of the 
poor bovine he was lying exhausted on the ground, but, 
true to his instincts, chewing his " cud" vigorously. 

As we approached the Hills, they began to assume a 
more definite shape. Instead of the great banks of vapory 
clouds as at first sight, there rose up, bold, rugged, abrupt 


mountains, all along their eastern limits, and the striking 
resemblance of Bear Butte to a huge bear, as outlined from 
our point of view, became easily discernible, growing more 
and more clearly outlined, as the train drew near. 

Two days before reaching the point of entrance, it ap- 
peared that in a few hours, at most, we could reach the 
Hills, and I was greatly surprised when told that they 
were yet forty miles away.. The next morning, they were 
so very near that I felt an impulse to reach out my hand 
and pluck a twig from the evergreens on the hillsides, — 
so deceptive is distance, in the rare atmosphere of the Black 
Hills, — especially to the unaccustomed eye. The delusion 
is not near so great when one becomes accustomed to the 
climate, the philosophy of which I do not understand. 

At length on the 9th day of December our feet fir?t 
pressed Black Hills' soil, at a point about four miles below 
Sturgis, where we took dinner in the midst of a howl- 
ing snowstorm. Here we found a well-defined wagon 
road made by the heavy supply train, accompanying the 
Custer expedition on its exit from the Hills in the preced- 
ing August. On reaching the foothills at this point, to 
guard against an ambushed foe it was deemed advisable to 
press into service a day guard, an advance and rear guard, 
and also two flank guards, whose duty it was to patrol the 
ridges along each side of the moving train to apprise the 
party of any threatened danger, and it was no easy duty. 
We expected to find Indians galore in the Hills, skulking 
behind the bushes and trees, and I now recall how I mag- 
nified every bush and shrub along the top of the ridges, 
into the tufted heads of so many redskins, peering over the 
crests of the hills at our train. However, as no apparent 
danger seemed to threaten us, and as no evidence of the 
presence of Indians had been found, after two days the 
extra guard was released from dut}'. 

Our first camp within the limits of the Hills was made in 
a canyon about two miles below where Piedmont now is, 
on the night of December 9th, wherefrom the train 


marched in a southerly direction up over the hill and down 
into the Box Elder Valley at a point not far from the 
mouth of Jim creek, then following up the Box Elder to 
the north fork of that stream and over the divide to Little 
Rapid creek, thence almost due south across Castle, 
Slate, and Spring creeks to our destination, two and one- 
half miles below Custer. 

When we first struck the Custer wagon trail, we found 
along the way, horseshoes, kernels of corn, and other 
evidences that civilized people had but recently traveled 
over the ground, which so reminded me of home, or, I 
might as well confess the truth, I became for the first time 
so utterly homesick that — what did I do? Well, 1 sought 
the most convenient log, sat down npon it, and proceeded 
to shed a torrent of unavailing tears — and they were no 
crocodile tears, either. Would not some of my readers 
have been equally weak, I wonder? 

Through the mystic influence of associations, very small 
things are, under circumstances, wonderfully potent in their 
appeal to the human heart. So in this case even a few 
grains of corn, scattered along the wild mountain trail, had 
the power to burst open the flood-gates and let the current 
of tears rush forth. 

On the first night spent within the limits of the Hills, 
we all had a pretty bad Indian scare, which caused some- 
thing of a panic in the camp. Long after the camp fires 
were extinguished and the guards posted on the outskirts, 
the inmates of the camp were suddenly aroused by the low 
warning cry of: " Boys, for God's sake, get up quick and 
get your guns, the camp is surrounded by Indians ! We're 
in for it this time, sure." The boys sprang up, pulled on 
their cast iron boots, grabbed their guns and rushed forth 
to meet the foe. I sat bolt upright in my lowly bed, and 
listened — my heart beating a rapid tattoo, meanwhile — 
but could hear nothing but the dismal howling of the hun- 
gry timber wolves, which, it finally turned out, two of the 
guards had magnified into the blood-curdling warwhoop of 


the Sioux. A few of the boys had never heard an Indian 
warwhoop; hence the mistake. 

As our route was taken through some of the wildest por- 
tions of the Hills, the journey through them proved a de- 
lightful revelation — one continuous poem, replete with all 
that is grand, sublime and beautiful. We found the Black 
Hills a profound solitude, with peace, like a guardian angel, 
reigning over the whole wide expanse, and without a single 
vestige of civilization; and as we marched along under the 
shadows of the lofty hills, I remember how greatly I was 
impressed with their vastness, and our own comparative 
insignificance and littleness. Up and down over the rough 
divides our jaded cattle laboriously made their way. Down 
steep and dangerous declivities, into dark canyons, where 
the sun never shone save at midday, and where it seemed 
so awfully hushed, as to be almost oppressive, we pursued 
our course. 

All along the route could be seen in places, on one hand, 
huge rocks piled high one upon the other, with almost 
mechanical regularity and precision, as if placed there by 
the hand of a master workman — a great wall of natural 
masonry; on the other the everlasting hills, covered with 
majestic pines, that looked like stately sentinels guarding 
the valleys below, towering far, far up above our heads ; 
then anon low lying ranges of hills, clothed with dense for- 
ests of pine, and away in the hazy distance, other ranges 
rising up like great banks of clouds against the horizon. 
For myself, 1 confess that I had then no knowledge of the 
geography of the country we were traversing, but as I 
remember the localities, it was on the divide between Rapid 
and Spring creeks that we first saw Harney's Peak, tower- 
ing up in rocky grandeur, to the left of our line of march. 

A noticeable feature of the country through which we 
passed, as we neared our objective point, was the many 
beautiful glades, with their scattered bunches of pines and 
hemlocks — a vivid picture of which I have in my mind as 
they appeared to me then, with the bright winter's sun 


shining down through their branches, fleckino; the brown 
earth beneath, with patches of burnished gold — spots 
where one might expect to see fairies dancing and skipping 
about on moonlight nights. A tit abode it seemed for 
our first parents, — in the days of their primeval inno- 
cencj, — ere woman tempted (?) man to sin. 

In passing through some of the deepest, darkest canyons 
of the Hills, my imagination would run riot at times, and I 
could not help glancing furtively from side to side of the 
ravines to see whether there were any gnomes or hobgob- 
lins peering out at us from between the crevices of the 
great rocks, where these irrational creatures are supposed 
to hold high carnival, and I confess that I always felt a 
trifle relieved when we emerged from those uncanny 

Altogether the journey through the Hills was a rare treat 
to one who had never before been among the mountains. 
The entire landscape was one well calculated to impress the 
beholder with awe, and incline him, if aught earthly could, 
to fall prostrate at the footstool of the Great Unseen behind 
all its wonderful majesty and beauty ; and to make the scene 
still more impressive, an awful silence — a silence which 
only primeval forests know — hung over all. No sound was 
to be heard amid the solitude, save our own voices, which 
sounded strange and unnatural; the rumbling of the 
wagons over the rough trail, and the cracking of the drivers' 
whips, which reverberated from hill to hill and through the 
corridors of the woods in the most romantic manner. By 
the way, the drivers seemed to delight in cracking their 
whips and hallooing to the cattle, simply, I suspected, to 
hear the delightfully romantic effect. 

Lyman Lamb was one of the Jehus of the party, and he 
showed himself quite as expert in that capacity as he has 
since in keeping county records. He did not, however, 
like the scriptural Jehu, ride in a chariot, drawn by fiery 
steeds, but on the contrary, drove his own cattle, walking 
by their side from the start to the finish, and the wonder- 


ful skill and dexterity with which he wielded his prodigious 
whip, and cracked its long lash, would have made a pro- 
fessional *' whacker " green with envy, and excited my 
most profound and lasting admiration. 

In all the vicissitudes of that long, trying journey Mr. 
Lamb proved himself one of Nature's noblemen — fearless 
and intrepid, and one upon whom it is always safe to rely. 

Our march through the Hills was necessarily slow, 
owing to the weak condition of the cattle, it taking just 
two weeks from the time we entered the Hills to reach 
French creek. At last, after a hard journey full of bitter 
experiences, we arrived at our objective point, about two 
and one-half miles below Custer, on December 23d, 1874, 
having been seventy-eight days en route. 

As soon as the train came to a halt, some of the boys 
rushed to the wagons for shovels and gold pans, and hast- 
ened to Hnd the place where the miners of Custer's expedi- 
tion claimed to have found the gold. Soon they were seen 
returning to camp waving their hats aloft in a very excited 
manner, myself joining them, by frantically waving my 
much traveled and weather-beaten hood in genuine sympa- 
thy. Eureka! They had found particles of gold in the 
bottom of each gold pan, and my readers may be assured 
that there was great rejoicing in our camp on French creek 
that winter's night. 

Our poor emaciated cattle were unyoked for the last 
time, and turned out to subsist as best they could for the 
winter. Our tents were pitched, suppers prepared and eaten 
with the usual informality, and we then sat around our 
blazing camplires in the heart of the wilderness, not singing 
songs and rehearsing tales, as of yore, when we yet reposed 
under the folds of the American flag, but talking of and 
thinking out the difiicult problem that confronted us; 
some, perchance, indulging in waking dreams of the piles 
of gold that were almost within their grasp. 

Ah, if we could only have lifted the curtain, and taken a 
glance into the future, at the long years of weary waiting, our 


bright hopes would have given phice to dark despair. In 
mercy, " Heaven from all creatures hides the Book of Fate." 
I often wonder if any of the little band of pioneers, who 
sat dreaming around that camp fire on French creek that 
night, have ever yet realized their hopes, or are they still 
chasing the illusive phantom, that somehow always man- 
ages to elude their grasp. I am quite clear on one point, 
and that is, that the author of this story has been reaching 
out for more than two decades after that delusive " will-o'- 
the-wisp," and is still employed in the same fruitless 

Now that our journey was ended for a few months at 
least, our camp arrangements must be of a more permanent 
character, so we pitched our tents on the hill slope north 
of French creek near a copious spring and proceeded to 
make our surroundings as comfortable as was possible 
under the circumstances and limitations. 

A wearied and worn, tattered and torn combination we 
were, to be sure, on reaching French creek on that 23d day 
of December, 1874. How could it be otherwise? I was 
painfully aware that I, at least, was in a very sorry 
plight. My shoes, especially, were in a sadly demoralized 
condition — a thin apology for shoes, although the second 
pair since leaving the haunts of man. What did I do for 
shoes? Why, I made a pair of moccasins of a deer skin 
that had been tanned and prepared by one of the boys for 
the purpose, and very comfortable moccasins they were, 
too. Did I walk much of the way on the journey? Oh, 
yes, all of the way after leaving the settlements, except dur- 
ing a week of sickness, and a few short rides on the back 
of the little burro. 

Now some may regard such a feat as something quite 
wonderful, but there was really nothing remarkable about 
it, when it is remembered that the distance traveled was 
only from ten to fifteen miles a day, and the gait exceed- 
ingly slow — a mere pleasure walk. Anyhow, who would 
ride in a heavily loaded wagon drawn by worn-out, footsore 


cattle? Not I, indeed. Of course the ground traversed 
was very rough, and sometimes covered with snow, hence 
the deplorable state of my footwear. 

Had it not been for certain precautions taken by us 
pedestrians on our way'into the Hills, some would have 
been barefoot in all likelihood, long before reaching the 
end of the journey. 

When there was snow on the ground we '* packed " our 
feet to protect them against the loose snow, as well as the 
cold. Now I venture to assert that some of my readers 
do not even know what packing the feet means. I didn't 
know before I started to the Black Hills, and took a regular 
course in the art. Well, it means simply to bind a gunny- 
sack — now don't pretend not to know what a gunnysack 
is — snugly around the feet and ankles, then bind it on 
with a stout cord to keep it in place. There is nothing 
equal to it as a protection to the feet, and I regard the 
man or woman who originated the idea, as a genius and a 
benefactor of the pioneers. Try it when you cross the 
plains on foot in the winter. 

The next day, December 24th, was wash day, and day of 
general repairs in camp, and a formidable undertaking it 
was, as may be easily imagined. We had tubs, wash- 
boards, and plenty of soap in the outfit, but we were 
obliged to take turns in washing as there were not quite 
enough tubs to go round. When the garments were 
washed, they were spread on the bushes to dry, and when 
dry were ready to wear, as they were never ironed, every- 
thing being done after the most primitive fashion. It is 
needless to say that the boys did their own washing and 
mending. Lest some might think that we had ignored the 
laws of hygiene while en route, I want to state that frequent 
short halts had been made for washing and bathing pur- 
poses, notwithstanding the danger, for although branded 
as outlaws, we were not barbarians. 



Yule-tide had come, and it was hardly to be expected 
that the children's patron saint would think of running the 
gauntlet of the Indians to visit our obscure camp among 
the wilds, so, inspired by the spirit of " Peace on earth and 
good will towards men," and feeling that something should 
be done to keep the festive season green in our memories, 
I bethought me of a Christmas tree, without the genial 
saint. There were plenty of evergreens that could easily 
vie with the time-honored holly and mistletoe on every 
side, and beautiful Christmas trees near at hand in the 
valleys, but what was the good of a tree with nothing to 
put on it — no books, no toys, no confections, nothing 
but picks, shovels, gold pans, and an ox chain for orna- 
mentation, and these would hardly be appropriate. The 
fondly remembered Christmas stocking was thought of, but 
here the same difficulty occurred. The whole category of 
supplies from baked beans down failed to furnish anything 
suitable for a Christmas gift, and so my great mental 
struggle to make the " eve " seem like Christmas went for 

Christmas morn dawned upon us, and at no time since 
our journey began did we realize so keenly how far re- 
moved, both by distance and environments, we were from 
home and all that it implies. Completely cut off from the 
whole Christian world with its precious privileges ; no 
Merry Christmas greeting from the loved ones away back 
towards the rising sun; no sweet chimes of Christmas bells 
fell upon our ears; no grand organ notes, pealing forth 
the glad Hosannas, reached us among the mountain fast- 
nesses ; no church privileges — but, wait — was not the 
whole visible expanse a church, grander by far than any 
cathedral ever built by human hands? Was there not a 
powerful sermon in the beautiful quartz that lay scattered 
about on the hillsides, and a great moral lesson in every 


tree and bush that grew upon their lofty crests? Were not 
the mournful cadences of the wind, as it whispered through 
the pine branches above our tents, more touching than the 
sweetest song; and the awful silence that brooded over 
each hill, valley, and beautiful glade, more potent to lift 
the thoughts Heavenward, than the grandest choral music 
ever chanted by human voices? These were the thoughts 
that rose up in my mind, as I sat musing at the opening 
of my tent, on that Christmas day, nearly a quarter of a 
century ago. 

What of our material comfort? Did we have a Christmas 
dinner? Alas, no. Roast turkey with cranberry sauce, 
plum puddings, and mince pies were not much in evidence 
on our tables that day — nothing but our coarse evcry-day 
fare, and no doubt the thoughts of every one of our little 
band went back over the dreary intervening waste, to the 
good cheer of the dear old homes. 

The day after Christmas the storm clouds gathered, and 
soon snow began to fall, — coming down in great feathery 
flakes until the whole landscape was covered to a depth of 
two or more feet, on a dead level, and our tents were al- 
most literally snowed under. Then the wind rose and 
blew a terridc gale — driving the loose snow before it, and 
piling it in great banks in the valley below, and the cold 
became intense. 

Being on the southern slope of the hill we did not feel 
the cold much, but the cattle suffered terribly, both from 
cold and hunger, especially the latter, as they could not 
reach the cured grasses, — so abundant in the snow- 
covered vallev. At niofht great fires were built of pitch 
pine logs, piled high, which threw out light and heat in 
every direction. The poor cattle, attracted by the grateful 
warmth, would come into camp and stand in a long line on 
each side of the fire, until somewhat thawed out, when they 
would wander back, one by one, into the darkness and 
fierce storm. 



Was it reason or iastinct that guided those dumb brutes 
in, systematically arranging themselves in rows, near the 
fire, and then leaving their comfortable positions without 
any compulsion, just as if they felt themselves intruders. 

In less than a week the great storm was over and the 
weather became as warm and balmy as a June day. 




The time had now come when we must look the situation 
squarely in the face. We were in the Black Hills, but how 
long we would be permitted to remain was a problem which 
the future alone could solve. But whether our stay was to 
be long or short, the exigencies of the situ:ition demanded 
that safer and more comfortable quarters be at once pro- 
vided. The storms of midwinter were upon us, and 
danger, for ausfht we knew, might be even then lurking 
behind each bush and tree. Therefore, to guard against 
exposure and possible danger, the plan for building a place 
of defense was matured and speedily executed. Skillful 
and willing hands were soon at work, and despite the fact 
that the work began in the midst of the worst snowstorm 
of the winter, in about two weeks the formidable structure, 
commonly known as the Gordon stockade, was completed 
and ready for occupancy. 

For the benefit of those who have never seen that early 
stronghold, I will give a description of the structure, as I 
remember it after the lapse of nearly a quarter of a cen- 
tury, and, in view of the memorable winter spent within its 
gloomy walls, I am not likely to forget a single feature, 
from the top to the base, or from the great wooden gate to 
the opposite wall. 

The walls of the stockade were built of heavy pine 
timber, thirteen feet in length, set close together in an 
upright position, three feet in the ground, forming an 
inclosure eighty feet square. Along the line of contact, 
between the timbers, other smaller timber were pinned 
with heavy wooden pins. At each of the four corners of 


this iuclosure were bastions, standing out six feet from the 
main structure, — each provided with four embrasures, and 
alono; the two sides and one end, at intervals of about eight 
feet, were portholes. A large double gate twelve feet 
wide, built of hewn timber strongly riveted together with 
wooden pins, completed the structure, this gate being the 
only entrance to that impregnable fortress of the Hills. 
It has been pronounced by those who are good judges of 
defensive works the strongest fortification of the kind ever 
built in the West. Capt. Mix, in his description of our 
stronghold to Gen. Bradley, on his return with the pris- 
oners to Fort Laramie said: " Why, if they had resisted I 
should have been obliged to return to the fort for artillery 
to dislodge them." At any rate, once within its strong 
walls we felt that we could defy the Indians as long as our 
ammunition lasted or until we were starved out. But 
would our ammunition last; would our provisions hold 
out until relief came? That was the problem. 

Within the walls of the stockade were built seven log 
cabins, three on each side and one opposite the gate, with 
a space of about six feet intervening between them and the 
walls, designed for the sharpshooters at the portholes, and 
the bastions, leaving a large area in the center of the in- 
closure. In one of these log cabins the author spent the 
never to be forgotten w^inter of 1874-5. It is much to be 
regretted that ruthless hands were permitted to destroy 
that great early landmark of the Black Hills, which 
might have been preserved as a memorial to the pluck and 
perseverance of the men who built it. It is said that not 
a single stick is left to mark the spot where it stood. 


The seven cabins within the walls of the stockade, in 
which we were doomed to drag out the weary monotonous 
days of winter, were more or less pretentious, according to 
the taste and skill of the builders. 

The first cabin on the right was conspicuous because of 



the peculiar construction of the roof, which consisted of 
small hewn timbers with a groove chiseled out in the center 
of each to carry off the water. As a substitute for shino^les 
it was an ingenious contrivance. This same cabin had a 


floor of hewn logs, a door of hand-sawed boards, a chim- 
ney, a fire-place, and an opening for a window, but no 
sash. This model cabin was built by what was known on 
our journey as the " Logan " outfit — each wagon with all 
its accessories and appurtenances, being called, while en 
route, an " ontfit." Well, this Logan aggregation consisted 
of a half-dozen fine muscular fellows from the pineries of 


Wisconsin, who were not afraid of work, and not very 
much afraid of Indians. Some of them, as their names 
indicated, were brave Scotsmen, whose ancestors, at least, 
came f rae the hills o' bonnie Scotland. 

The second on the right belonged to the " Whitney " pro- 
position, the personnel of which was R. Whitney, D. Aken, 
John Boyle, and Harney Cooper, the young artist who 
charmed us all by his glorious voice while journeying over 
the plains. 

The third on the same side, which compared favorably with 
the tirst, though of a somewhat different style of architect- 
ure, was constructed by Lyman Lamb, T. H. Russell, and 
Angus McDonald, who, poor fellow, was crushed to death 
by the falling of a tree, a few years ago, near Deadwood. 
This cabin was planned by Lyman Lamb, who also drew 
the plan for the great stockade. 

The cabin opposite the gate, a well-built and substantial 
structure, was occupied by John Gordon, the leader of the 
expedition, H. Bishop, the owner of the aforementioned 
greyhounds, Chas. Long, and N. Warren, dubbed "Uncle 
Nute," and the best-natured man in the expedition. " Uncle 
Nute," by the way, was a master of the art of song. His 
voice could be heard blithely and joyously singing from 
early morn to dewy eve without cessation, in fact he sang 
always except when asleep, and his constant refrain was 
somethino; about beins; "Down in the coal mines under- 
neath the ground, and digging dusty diamonds all the 
season round." 

The next cabin to the right in the circuit, and the most 
unpretentious of the seven, was our house, a low square 
structure without gables, consisting of one room which 
served the purposes of kitchen, dining room, bed room, 
and parlor. Like the others it was built of logs, not hewn 
but round as nature formed them, with not a single mark 
of ax or adz to mar their symmetry. The roof which slanted 
at an angle of about forty-two and a half degrees was 
constructed of poles covered over with alternate layers of 


hemlock boughs and mother earth. I think the poles were 
of the quaking asp variety, at least I thought so, when the 
wintry winds swept through the great open gate. It had a 
chimney, too, a sort of a nondescript affair, and a wide fire- 
place with a large flat stone in front of it, and several 
stones of lesser magnitude, arrayed with an eye to artistic 
effect, in a circle on the outside, otherwise our cabin was 
guiltless of floor or carpet. There was an opening front- 
ing the area for a door, over which was hung a large coffee 
sack for a portiere, and a small square opening just opposite 
for a window, over which was tacked a piece of cloth bear- 
ing in large red letters the following legend, " XXX Extra 
Superfine," which completed the main part of the edifice. 

Moreover, ourhouse had a wing — a right wing, whose sole 
occupant was Chas. Cordeiro, the Moor. Now, although 
this annex was, architecturally si>eaking, a part and parcel 
of the main building, there was no communication between 
the two parts, save a small square opening cut through the 
log partition, for the mutual accommodation of the dwellers 
on each side, and through which reciprocal courtesies were 
daily interchanged. For instance, among our scanty sup- 
ply of cooking utensils was a small iron kettle — perhaps 
the only one in the expedition, which our near neighbor 
took occasion to borrow, whenever he had a pot of beans, 
or a leg of venison to cook, — on the other hand, he had a 
sharp two-edged axe, which he always kept whetted to the 
keenness of a razor, to which we were ever made welcome, 
on demand. As these articles were being passed back and 
forth through this convenient aperture, our neighbor, when 
looking through from his little dingy room with his super- 
naturally intense black eyes, made a very suggestive picture, 
to me suggestive of a prisoner peering through the barred 
windows of a prison cell. 

The next cabin on the left of the entrance was occupied 
by Eaf Witcher and Henry Thomas, and the last in the 
circuit belonged to Chas. Blackwell and Thos. McLaren, 
our former copartners, — the firm having dissolved by 


mutual consent, just before moving into tlie stockade. 
The inside furnishingrs of these cabins were of the crudest 
kind, all being cut or hewn from the pine trees hard by. 
Not a very attractive home, my readers may think. No, 
but the best that could be provided with the facilities at 

Now, all this may be very dry and uninteresting to the 
reader, and may not mean much, as viewed through the 
mist of over twenty intervening years, but it meant a great 
deal to those early pioneers — it meant untold hardships 
and deprivation of the comforts of life, and in giving these 
small details, it has been the desire of the author to present 
a true picture of the comfortless homes that afforded them 
shelter and place of refuge at that trying time, as by these 
glimpses into the past, something is shown of how, by 
brave endurance and self-sacrifice, the way was made clear 
for the civilization which followed. 


That life in camp on French creek, pending the building 
of the stockade, was not wholly barren of exciting incidents, 
will be shown by the following somewhat dramatic events, 
in which myself and the donkey enacted the leading parts. 

Among our camping equipments was a gorgeous red, 
white and blue striped tent, — a thing of beauty and of 
pride, patterned after the stripes of our national flag, rep- 
resentino^ the thirteen original colonies now embraced in 
our Union of States, and in which the various members of 
our firm were mutually interested. 

Well, one day when alone in camp, while indulging in 
my usual post-prandial nap, with my head uneasily reclin- 
ing on a huge roll of bedding within the tent, I felt a sort 
of dreamy sensation of abnormal warmth creeping over me, 
which grew hot, and still hotter, until the superlative of 
heat was reached, when I suddenly awoke to find myself 
almost completely enveloped in flame and smoke. 

At a glance I saw that the entire front of the tent was in 


a blaze, which was spreading above and around me with 
lightning rapidity. Springing up, I hastily tore the op- 
posite end of the tent free from its fastenings and scram- 
bled out, dragging, by the strength of sheer desperation, 
the roll of bedding after me. 

Just at this critical moment, when I had given up the 
tent as doomed to utter destruction, one of the men, oppor- 
tunely, came into camp for some mechanical tool, and, 
seeing my dilemma, he quickly severed the guy ropes, thus 
letting the burning tent to the ground, when, by some vig- 
orous tramping, the fire was soon smothered, but leaving 
only a few smoke-blackened fragments of the once beauti- 
ful canvas, that had protected us from the wind and rain, 
snow and sleet, for so many dreary nights in crossing the 
plains. Ah ! I could have wept. 

When the stockade builders returned from their work 
that night, I lost no time in revealing to those affected, 
the story of our irreparable loss — hiying much stress upon 
the lamentable fact that we were then left without even a 
shelter over our devoted heads, and told them how it hap- 
pened. No, I didn't tell them that I was asleep when the 
cause of the disaster originated. I explained to them how 
a small stream of flame had stolen out from the camp fire 
near by, and crept slowly and stealthily tentward, until it 
communicated with the canvas, and — 

'* Well, where were you all the time, while the fire was 
cr-e-e-ping up to the tent?" interrupted one of the boys, 

" Where was I? Why, I was in the tent, of course." 1 
answered, guiltily. 

"And you didn't see the fire a-coming, eh?" he re- 

" Well, no, not until it was too late," I meekly replied. 

"That's rather strange," he said, with just a hint of 
suspicion in his tone. 

He then plainly intimated that, in his opinion, the catas- 
trophe was altogether the result of criminal carelessness on 


my part. I silently stood accused, with not a word to 
offer in iny own defense. 

" Well, now, Tom, what's the use of crying over spilled 
milk? " chimed in another of the boys. 

Now that the ordeal was over, impelled by a spirit of 
conciliation, I brought forth the charred remnants and laid 
them, as a peace offering, at their feet, with the suggestion 
that they apportion them, per capita, among them. 

" Great Scott," said Tom, " what can we do with these 
rags? You might as well throw them in the tire and let 
them burn like the balance." 

" Oh no, I won't do that," I said. "You nia}^ need 
thera to patch your pants with when the flour sacks 
are all gone." 

"That's what," said another. 

So the gaudy pieces were put away and portions of them 
were finally used for the above mentioned purpose. 


While the stockade was in process of construction, I was, 
of necessity, left the sole guardian of the camp properties, 
supplies, etc., and therefore felt morally responsible for 
their safety. 

I was not alone, however ; my only companion was the 
donkey, who spent his time for the most part within the 
precincts of the camp, prowling around and gazing with 
pleading eyes and ears erect in at the opening of each 
tent — probably to spy out the lay of the land. That don- 
key of ours, since his advent into the Black Hills, had sub- 
sisted chiefly on mountain scenery and the choice tid-bits 
of bacon rinds and gunny sacks that had been thrown out 
by the campers. 

Well, one day he took it into his long, wise head to treat 
himself for once to a good square meal, so, protruding his 
head and shoulders into one of the tents he seized about a 
half side of bacon, which was carefully wrapped in a piece 
of canvas, then, backing out with his ill-gotten booty, pro- 


ceeded to masticate it at his leisure. I think he knew 
beforehand just where to find it. 

Observing the whole daring procedure from a distance, 
and keenly realizing that I would be called upon to give an 
account of my stewardship, I immediately rushed to the 
rescue of the pillaged property. With that end in view, I 
approached the head of the little gourmand and was about to 
grasp the canvas that hung suspended from his mouth 
when he turned his heels upon me like a flash, and kicked 
as only that branch of the equine race can kick. But, skill- 
fully dodging his vicious heels I escaped the contact. 
Several like attempts to rescue the property were made 
with similar results. 

Having an unbounded regard for the heels of the mule 
race, and deeming '* prudence the better part of valor," I 
then stood at a respectful distance and watched the bacon, 
canvas and all, disappearing down the burro's throat. 

It was with feelings of no little trepidation that I ap- 
proached the owners of the pillaged tent that night and in- 
formed them of what had happened during their absence, 
and of my heroic eff'ort to save their property. After tell- 
ing them how the donkey bad eaten the entire proposition, 
one of them queried: "Did he fry the bacon, or eat it 
raw?" "No," I replied. " He didn't wait to cooi? it; 
he seemed to prefer it raw." To my great relief the boys 
regarded the whole affair as exceedingly comical, but for 
the life of me I couldn't see where the fun came in. 

The 16th of January found us all settled in our respective 
quarters within the walla of the stockade. Every night at 
sundown the huge gate was closed and securely barred, 
after which there was no egress. Yet, even within those 
formidable walls, with the gate strongly barred, I did not 
feel that we were any too safe. Having no sentinels posted 
out, how easy for Indians to stealthily approach the stock- 
ade in the night or early morning, while its unguarded 
inmates were profoundly sleeping, scale its walls and mas- 
sacre every one. Visions of such a possibility often came 


up before me, while I lay awake at night, listening to the 
midnight howlinors of the wolves and the occasional scream 
of the wild cat, which sounded so like the human voice, 
that I sometimes felt absolutely sure that the savages must 
be right upon ns. I could almost sec the sheen of their 
brandishing scalping knives in the dark. However, such 
visions were soon banished — giving way to a more healthy 
condition of mind. 

Now that we were safely entrenched and domiciled for the 
present, what of the future? Everything for which the 
expedition was undertaken had now been accomplished. 
The long hard journey with its varied vicissitudes had been 
made, and gold, the prime object, had been found. What 
next was to be done? Evidently it would not do to remain 
inactive in our safe retreat until our store of provisions 
was exhausted, or until our ammunition was all gone. 
Plainly, communication must be opened with the outside 
world at all hazards, and at once, before the Indians should 
start on the warpath, thirsting lor vengeance on the tres- 
passers on their rightful domain, and before the govern- 
ment should take extreme measures to prevent reinforce- 
ments from reaching us. 


We all felt satisfied that as soon as the people were as- 
sured of our success, immigration would at once begin, but 
to accomplish this some one must undertake the dangerous 
journey back to civilization. Who would have the hardi- 
hood to undertake such a ride over the bleak prairie in the 
depth of winter? 

No difficulty was experienced on that score, as Gordon 
and Witcher were not only willing, but anxious to bear out 
the glad tidings, and both having good saddle horses, they 
were of course conceded the honor. 

As the intelligence to be sent out must be accompanied 
by actual gold as an indisputable voucher, much had to 
be done in the way of making preparations for the journey. 


A rude rocker was constructed out of one of the wagon 
boxes, when several days were spent in rocking out gold 
from the bed of French creek, resulting in the production 
of a sufficient quantity of the glittering scales to prove its 
existence in paying quantities, beyond dispute. 

Many letters, too, had to be written to our respective 
friends, for not since the day we left the settlements had a 
single word been communicated to those left behind. Be- 
sides, on the day we left camp on the banks of the " Big 
Muddy," the irrepressible Charlie Collins, who was present 
to bid the expedition Godspeed on its dangerous journey, 
exacted a ))romise from several members of the party, 
myself among them, to send back, at the first opportunity, 
letters for publication in the Sioux City Times, of which he 
was then editor, and as fortunately we were supplied with 
material the promise was faithfully kept. 

On the 6th day of February, 1875, a pack horse was 
loaded with the necessary supplies, blankets, ammunition, 
etc., when the two plucky men, John Gordon and Eaf 
Witcher, mounted their horses and started away from the 
stockade with the gold, and numerous messages to friends, 
on their winter's journey, across the untraveled, snow-cov- 
ered plains ; civilization, home, and friends before, and an 
uncertain fate behind for Sioux City. Many doubts were 
expressed as they rode away and disappeared in the timber 
as to the probability of their ever reaching their destination. 
For twenty-three days they braved the storms and keen 
cutting winds of the prairie, subsisting on poorly prepared 
food, frequently being unable to procure the necessary 
fuel to boil a cup of coffee. For twenty-three nights they 
wrapped their blankets about them and laid down on the 
frozen ground or in a hole excavated in a snow drift, and 
during much of that time their horses had to paw away the 
snow to reach the grass which afforded them but a bare 
sustenance. Poor brutes ! 

The route taken by them was in a southeasterly direction 
to the Niobrara river, thence along the valley of that stream 




Taken March 1, 1875, on his return from the Black Hills 
to Sioux City. 


to Yankton, thence down the Missouri river to Sioux City. 
Three days before reaching Yankton their supplies became 
so nearly exhausted that they were reduced to quarter 
rations, and the horses had almost reached the point of 
starvation. When about a day's journey distant from 
Yankton, Mr. Gordon's horse gave out and he was 
obliged to halt a day to let him recuperate. Meanwhile 
Eaf, who it is alleged gave Mr. Gordon the slip, was 
ridino- awav on his more powerful American horse post- 
haste to Sioux City, reaching that point twenty-four hours 
in advance of his comrade. When Gordon arrived next 
day with the gold Eaf was having a gala time indeed. He 
was being feted and banqueted, and I don't know but that 
he was carried around the streets upon the shoulders of 
some of its citizens. As to that tradition is silent. Be 
that as it may, when poor Mr. Gordon arrived on the 
scene, the enthusiasm of the people had reached its zenith. 

The people of Sioux City naturally felt much gratified 
and elated at the success of the first expedition, as it was 
at that post it had equipped only a few months before. 

When the letters, with glaring headlines, appeared in the 
daily papers on the following morning, there was a perfect 
furore of the wildest excitement, which however was not 
long confined to Sioux City alone. The story soon spread 
to the remotest bounds of our country, and became the al- 
most universal topic of conversation. 

From that time government lines were drawn closer 
around the Sioux domain, and hundreds soon began to 
gather along the borders, seeking for some loophole to 
slip through; many succeeded, some failed, as we know. 

When our messengers left the stockade the mutual 
understanding was, that they would immediately proceed to 
organize another expedition, steal a march on the govern- 
ment, and return to our relief with reinforcements and 
additional supplies. 

Now some may come to the conclusion, from this scheme, 
that the pioneers of 1874 were regular fillibusters; but no, 


they were neither fillibusters, freebooters, nor pirates, but 
peaceable, law-abiding citizens of the United States — how- 
ever, '* with keen eyes to the main chance." 

Mr. Gordon, in accordance with the plan formulated, 
lost no time in organizing another expedition, which man- 
aged somehow to elude the vigilance of the government, 
and get pretty well on its way to the Hdls, when it was in- 
tercepted by a military force, the wagons and supplies 
burned, and Gordon, the leader, placed under military 

The twenty-two men, now left in the stockade, spent the 
long, weary weeks of waiting, according to their various 
inclinations ; some rocked gold on French creek, when the 
weather was favorable, others spent their time in prospect- 
ing and hunting during the day, and — well, I hardly know 
how they did spent the long winter evenings. It is 
thought, however, that some of them played whist and the old- 
fashioned game of euchre, or an occasional friendly game of 
draw poker for pastime, as such terms as "Honors are 
easy," '' I pass," etc., could frequently be heard from the 
neighboring cabins. Why, what else could they do, in the 
absence of newspapers and books, to occupy the mind? 
By the way, I did manage to smuggle in "Milton's 
Paradise Lost," and a funny romance, entitled "The 
English Orphans," on leaving civilization, which were 
read, re-read and read again, until every word from Alpha 
to Omega was printed in ever-living characters upon the 
tablets of my memory. So imbued did I become with the 
spirit and sentiment of those works, that I felt at times, as 
if paradise was indeed lost to me, — never to be regained, 
while at other times I felt myself growing very much like 
"Sal. Furbish" in the English Orphans. Didn't I enjoy 
life in the stockade? Oh, that mine enemy might be con- 
demned to spend a winter under like circumstances and 
conditions, — but no, I could not wish that even my 
deadliest foe be so cruelly punished. 

Imagine yourself imprisoned within the gloomy walls of 


an inclosure, and more closely confined within the still 
gloomier walls of a cell-like cabin, with no work for mind 
or hand to do, and with an uncertain fate hanging over your 
head, and you may be able to form a faint conception of 
the misery of life in the old stockade during the memo- 
rable winter of 1874-5. The very remembrance causes 
ague chills to creep rapidly along the spinal column. 
Sooner by far would I take my chances with the Sioux 
Indians out on the open plain. This gloomy picture of life 
in the stockade, let it be understood, its but a reflex of my 
own individual experience, and not of my companions, who 
perhaps took a more optimistic view of the situation. Yet, 
it is certain that time hung heavily on the hands of every 
one within the walls of the stockade. 

When vigilance began to relax and the warm days of 
early spring came I frequently ventured out to wander 
about on the sunny slopes of the adjacent hills, incidentally 
looking for gold which I expected to find scattered about 
quite plentifully along the hillsides and in the gulches. 
No, I didn't find any worth speaking of. I was pre-emi- 
nently a tender-foot then, since, however, I have had numer- 
ous object lessons, which have made me a wiser if not 
better woman. In taking these long rambles I was very 
careful not to lose sight of the stockade, as despite its 
gloom it afforded a haven of safety in case of danger. 

These pleasant excursions were brought, by. an amusing 
incident, to an abrupt termination. One day while seated 
on a large boulder of quartz on the top of a low hill drink- 
ing the wonderful beauty of the surrounding landscape, 
my eyes chanced to glance down the valley below, when 
they became riveted by a sort of fascination on a clump of 
bushes, among which I detected a slight unnatural move- 
ment. While looking, lo, the bushes became violently 
agitated, swaying back and forth in a very suspicious 
manner as if an Indian was lurking among its branches. 

I hesitated no longer. Over boulders and jagged rocks 
I went down the slope, but 1 have never been quite able to 


understand just how I readied the bottom of that hill. All 
I know is that I got there and didn't stand on the order of 
my going. Along up the valley I ran with the fleetness of 
a professional sprinter, through the bushes, over fallen 
trees, clearing every obstruction with a bound. I fairly 
flew, fear adding speed to my wings, until reaching within 
a short distance of the stockade, when I was forced to 
make a slight detour to avoid the bullets that were coming 
directly towards me on my line of flight. The boys were 
shooting at a mark blazed on a tree a little below the stock- 
ade, where I stopped to look back to see how many Indians 
were following on my trail, and I must confess to a feel- 
ing of no little disappointment that I was not being pur- 
sued by a band of Sioux, in war paint. Such a splendid 
chance to become the heroine of a thrilling adventure and 
a hair-breadth escape was lost. 

I arrived at the stockade breathless and excited, and 
when questioned as to the cause of my perturbation, I an- 
swered, evasively, "Oh, nothing much. It was probably 
nothing more than a mountain lion, or wild cat, or per- 
chance an innocent rabbit." It is needless to say that from 
that time I kept religiously behind the entrenchments. 


Shortly after Messrs. Gordon and Witcher left for Sioux 
City with the gold, two more of our number began to 
devise ways and means for returning to civilization. To 
accomplish their purpose, they by their combined ingen- 
uity, planned a small vehicle to transport their supplies, 
blankets, and other belongings to Fort Laramie. The 
affair was to be a kind of dual combination of part cart and 
part sled, and really showed a good deal of foresight on 
the part of the designers, who shrewdly reasoned that 
while there was deep snow in the hills there might be 
none outside. No, they were not intending to draw the 
very peculiar rig themselves, although if their going out had 
hinged upon that alternative, they would not for a moment 



have hesitated to hitch themselves? to the car, but fortune 
smiled upon the two homesick tender feet for once, at least. 
Blackwell and McLaren were providentially the owners of 
a single ox — free from all incumbrance, that was to be used 
as the motor power, and for which a kind of harness was 
made of skins and such other material as was available. 
This one emaciated ox was all that was left to the poor 
fellows of their original investment in the expedition. 

On the morning of the 14th day of Februar}^ their 
unique contrivance being complete, the vehicle was loaded 
with provisions, blankets, etc., the motive power attached, 
and the fragile-looking outfit was ready to pull out on its 
terribly perilous journey to Fort Laramie. 

It would indeed be difficult to imagine anything more 
grotesquely ludicrous than the spectacle they presented, 
as they marched away from the stockade. Of course, we 
all felt sad to see them go, but we could not help laughing 
at the little outfit as it started away from the stockade. 
The poor, bony, half-starved ox trigged out in his motley 
harness, hitched to the Liliputian vehicle — not much 
larger than a good-sized hand sled, piled up high with its 
load of supplies, blankets, etc., and the wheels of the con- 
trivance strapped on top, venturing out in the winter, on a 
journey of two hundred miles through a hostile country, 
was a sight — the very pathos of which made it irresistibly 
funny. It scarcely seemed possible that they would ever 
reach Fort Laramie alive. 

As night approached, the wrecked craft returned. Some- 
thing had given out or weakened, obliging them to put 
back to the stockade for repairs. The next morning they 
started away again, and the poor fellows were seen no 

Blackwell and McLaren never returned to the Hills, for, 
according to their own declaration, they had had enough of 
them to last the balance of their lives, and would have 
turned back long before reaching the Hills, had it been 
possible. Mr. Blackwell especially was homesick from 


the day be left the last settlement. A brave fellow 
he was, nevertheless. " Well," he said one day, while 
en route, " this is the worst pill I was ever compelled to 
swallow," and as I have swallowed a good many doses of 
the same kind of pills, I am prepared to vouch for the 
probable correctness of his assertion. 

The infection spread, for about three weeks later, or on 
the 6th of March, four others of our already small band 
marched away from the stockade for Fort Laramie, viz., 
Newton Warren (happy Uncle Nute), D. McDonald (Red 
Dan), J. J. Williams, and Henry Thomas, — but, ah, I for- 
got, there were five of them — the donkey left the Black 
Hills at the same time for good, and never after did his 
musical notes echo through the picturesque hills of the 
great Golconda. Two of the deserters, having saddle 
horses, rode away with blankets strapped onto their saddles 
behind, and guns across the pommels in front ; another had 
the donkey, but tradition is silent as to whether he rode 
him out or packed him with his belongings and walked by 
his side, — that must be left to conjecture. J. J. Williams, 
with gun across his shoulder, and pack on his back, walked 
out, and through the deep snow of the trackless forest it was 
no easy task, methinks. Our force was now reduced to 
eighteen men. 

Six weeks had elapsed since our messengers had left us, 
and grave doubts began to arise in our minds as to the 
probability of reinforcements ever reaching us. Perhaps 
by this time the strong arm of the government had inter- 
vened to prevent any farther trespass on the Sioux 
domain. Still we looked anxiously from day to day for 
some tidings from the men, who had carried the proof of 
our safety and success to the world. 

Our situation, nothwithstanding the strength of our 
position, was neither an enviable, nor a pleasant one; 
realizing, as we did, that the Indians would soon be leav- 
ing (if they had not already left), the agencies on their 
mission of revenge. In view of this, well knowing the 


modes of the iDclians, every precaution was taken to guard 
against their depredations, or an attack. All combustible 
substances, such as fragments of pine, brush, etc., were 
gathered into piles and burned; even the grass for some 
distance around the stockade was burned to the roots. 
Every one familiar with the methods of the Indians knows, 
that burning the enemy out is their sure resort, when all 
other means fail. 

During the month of March, 1875, the pioneers of 1874 
surveyed and platted the first town site in the Black Hills, 
on French creek, in that little dimple in the hills where 
stood the stockade. By the aid of a picket, rope, and a 
small pocket compass, the site was laid out into blocks and 
streets and christened Harney City in honor of the great 
Indian fighter, Gen. Harney. Log.. foundations were laid 
on the corner lots of the principal streets by the fortunate 
ones who drew them. It is now amusing to recall how 
anxious I was to draw a desirable or central corner lot, 
in what was confidently prophesied was destined to 
become the metropolis of the coming golden empire. 

April was finally ushered in with one of the blinding 
snow storms so common in Dakota during that month. 
The wind blew fierce and cold, piling up the snow in drifts 
all throuf^h the nooks and crannies of the Hills, and scatter- 
ino- our poor cattle in every direction — anywhere to find 
shelter from the driving storm. 


One evening during this storm, just as the great gate 
was about to be closed and barred for the night, four men, 
unheralded and unbidden, rode boldly right into our 
stronghold, causing no little consternation and excitement 
in our usually quiet little community. At first sight they 
were thought to be the vanguard of our expected reinforce- 
ments, but upon a second look it was seen that two of our 
visitors were in military uniform, while, in the other two 


we recognized the familiar faces of our quondam comrades, 
J. J. Williams and Dan McDonald, who, as emissaries o/ 
Uncle Sam, had also donned soldier's clothes. The blue 
coats and brass buttons betrayed their mission. It devel- 
oped then that the four men who had left the stockade on 
the 6th of March, had after a hard journey of eight days 
reached Fort Laramie in safety, though not without en- 
countering Indians. As the little party were crossing the 
head of Red Canyon, they were confronted by two well- 
armed mounted braves riding directly towards them. Na- 
turally the boys were slightly alarmed at the prospect of 
an encounter with the two burly savages, but they immedi- 
ately leveled their guns at the approaching Indians, who 
by frantic gesticulations made it known that they were not 
hostile, but " good Injuns." They also encountered a 
large band of Indians and squaws with papooses, on the 
Cheyenne river, who made no hostile demonstrations. 

After a few days for rest and recuperation two of the 
party proceeded on their journey homeward, while the 
other two were detained to guide the soldiers back to the 
quarters of the pioneers in the Hills. And that is how we 
were at last found. 

The four mounted men who rode, unannounced, into our 
midst on the evening of the 4th of April, proved to be J. 
J. Williams, Dan McDonald, and two lieutenants in the Sec- 
ond United States Cavalry, detailed from their camp twelve 
miles below, bearing orders to our party to make imme- 
diate preparations for leaving the Black Hills. The entire 
force sent to remove the trespassers, consisted of a troop 
of cavalry, about twenty-five pack mules and a large train 
of wagons, to carry rations and forage, and an ambulance 
for the use of the female trespasser, all under the com- 
mand of Capt. Mix, of the Second United States Cavalry. 

We were proclaimed prisoners, although no formal 
arrests were made, and given just twenty-four hours to 
hunt our scattered stock and make other needful prepara- 
tions for leaving the stockade. Instructions were given, 



that nothing but the necessary articles of clothing, blank- 
ets, etc., and enough provisions to serve until reaching 
Fort Laramie, could be transported. 

The next day was a busy one — a day spent in preparing 
to give up all that we had risked our lives to attain. Some 
started out in search of the stock, that had been scattered 
to the four winds by the storm, while others were putting" 
together such few articles as could be taken, and caching 
or hiding such property as must be left behind. All 
mining implements, mechanics' tools, chains, etc., had to 
be left. 

The writer of this story cached a trunk containing all 
her worldly goods, and although she has been searching 
diligently for more than two decades, her eyes have never 
yet been gladdened by a sight of the trunk, or a single 
article of its contents. 

The limited time allowed us for preparations had ex- 
pired. The search for the stock had proved, in part, 
fruitless — only about half having been found; our goods 
and chattels had been cached and our little bundles tied 
up, and we were ready to be marched out of the land of 
promise, to that from which we came. 




I woiulcr if any of my fair readers ever rode a govern- 
ment mule, or any kind of a mule for that matter, for a 
mule is a mule the world over. If not, they, of course, 
know nothing of the exhilaration, the real keen enjoyment 
such a ride affords, and have lost much of earth's pleasures. 
I have had that delectable experience, and it furnished me 
more genuine amusement to the square inch than I ever 
had either before or since, and this is how it happened. 
The troops ordered in to take us out of the Black Hills, sup- 
posing it impracticable to reach the stockade through the 
rugged hills with their wagons, went into camp, about 
twelve miles below, thus making it necessary to send in 
pack mules to carry out our belongings. 

About 9.30 o'clock on the morning of the sixth of April, 
a troop of cavalry with their high stepping, glossy steeds, 
and about twenty-five pack mules, put in their appearance 
at the stockade, and, as everything was in readiness, it 
took but a short time to load and strap our goods on to the 
pack saddles. That being accomplished, it developed that 
there was one more mule than was needed for packing pur- 
poses. Now, to this extra pack mule — whether by pre- 
vious design or otherwise is a matter for conjecture — was 
assigned the honor ( ?) of carrying out the first white 
woman to enter the Black Hills. 

The boys, or most of them, having no saddle horses, of 
course had to walk to the camp below, so started a little 
in advance driving the few cattle that were found before 
them; but — what was 1 to do? 

Just as I was revolving this vital question in my mind, one 


of the men having charjre of the mules — or a muleteer — 
appeared at the door of our cabin, where I stood in a some- 
what uncertain state of mind, and inquired: " Well, mum, 
what are you a goin' to do? Kide or walk? " Fully appre- 
ciating his generosity in thus allowing me the choice of two 
alternatives, I told him with some asperity, that I had walked 
into the Black Hills, and, if necessary, could easily walk 
out, but, I added, "as the snow is pretty deep, I would 
prefer to ride if there is a way provided." 

'* Did you ever ride much on horseback?" he asked. I 
very modestly informed him that I was a skilled horse- 
woman, and was perfectly at home on the saddle, as I had 
ridden more or less from childhood up. 

'* Oh, well, I think we can fix it all right. The command 
is ready to march, and we had better be a startin'," he said. 

Thus urged I donned my hood and wraps and followed 
him out through the wide gate, with a throb in my heart, 
and a tear in each eye — I felt it was for the last time — 
and there, before my astonished vision, stood the prancing, 
dancing steed I had been expecting to ride, transformed into 
an old, scarred mule, several hands higher than any mule I 
had ever seen before; with head bowed down with the 
weight of accumulated years, and a long apprenticeship in 
military service, and the full modicum of " cheek " of the 
traditional government mule, and, to cap the climax, a 
masculine saddle on his back. I stood aghast. 

" Jupiter, Olympus," I cried, " you don't expect me to 
ride that beast to camp, a distance of twelve miles, do 
you?" " I guess you'll have to, or walk," he answered. 
After making a careful mental estimate of the distance 
from the saddle to the ground, 1 concluded it would be an 
extremely hazardous undertaking, so I pleaded; " No, 1 
can't do it. If I should be thrown, it would be almost 
certain death." "All right, you're the doctor," he 
answered nochalantly. 

Now, if I had been modeled after the pattern of the "new 
woman," or if I had been a little less conservative, thedif- 



ficulty, in part, might have been overcome. However, I 
finally concluded to accept the situation, so asked the 
muleteer to tighten up the saddle girth a little and I would 
try it. Did you ever know of a woman venturing on a 
saddle, without first making sure that the girth was safely 


My attendant signified his willingness to humor my 
whim, so unbuckling the strap, he gave it a vigorous pull, 
when the mule, in physical protest against the proceedings, 
besan to increase, by inflation and expansion, his already 
abnormal circumference ; and, in further protest, uttered 
a series of such alarming groans or grunts, at the same 
lime looking back with appealing eyes, moist with unshed 
tears," as much as to say, ''Please, don't," that I was 
moved to relent, thinking that the poor brute was in the 
last throes of dissolution. So I told the man to leave the 
girth as it was, and I would take my chances. 

At that moment, the inspiring bugle notes gave the 
sit^nal" mount," when the whole command simultaneously 
vaulted into their saddles — that is, all but the muleteer 
and I. Another bugle signal of " Forward, march ! " was 
sounded, and the column marched on in double file. I 
was struck at the time by the beauty and perfection of 
ihe discipline maintained in the regular army. 

" Now, just put your foot in my hand, and I'll help you 
onto the mule," said my attendant. I did as directed, 
and with an agile spring that would have done credit to an 
acrobat, I was landed safely into the saddle. 

" There you are," said he, and sure enough, there I 
was, perched on the back of a " government mule." He 
placed my foot in the stirrup, carefully arranged my some- 
what abbreviated riding skirt, then after one long, lingering 
look at the old stockade and its environments, to get a last 
impression of the place where I had spent so many weary, 
anxious days and nights, we started off down the valley at 
a tolerably brisk pace, soon overtaking and joining the 
calvacade which was a little in advance. Just at this junc- 


ture we came to a point where French creek crossed the 
gulch, and do you suppose that mule could be induced by 
any peaceable measures to wade the stream? No, not a 
bit of it, I urged and coaxed and patted and thrust my 
heel vigorously into his side (I had no spurs), but without- 
avail. Forced to resort to heroic methods, I threatened a 
while (no, I didn't punctuate my threats with any very 
strong adjectives) and finally dealt him a sudden blow with 
my whip (a willow rod cut from the bushes bordering 
French creek), whereupon the mule suddenly reared, and 
made a flying leap across, landing on the opposite side on 
all fours. Of course I was greatly astonished at such an 
eccentric feat on the part of the mule — especially so, as I 
had considered him old enough to be more dignified, but 
was not in the least disconcerted. I managed somehow to 
maintain my equilibrium on the saddle, notwithstanding 
the fact that I was taken completely off my guard. 
'• Be careful now and hold fast to the saddle or he will 
throw you in to the middle of next week," cried my escort 
in apparent alarm. So as I had no ambition to be precip- 
itated into the future in such an unceremonious man- 
ner, I did afterward hold on to the saddle with such a 
grip that no natural forces — not even an earthquake, could 
have unseated me. 

At each of the crossings of that crooked, meandering 
stream, the mule resolutely refused to go into the water, 
always leaping across after his own fashion. However, 
after several crossings were successfully made I had 
learned to adapt myself to the motions of the mule, and 
had gained so much confidence in my own skill that I soon 
loosened my vice-like grip on the saddle altogether. 

At one of the crossings, while I was fiercely struggling to 
obtain the mastery over the stubborn proclivities of the 
mule, a dashing young lieutenant suddenly wheeled out of 
his position on the flank of the column, rode back, and 
politely off'ered to exchange mounts with me. What im- 
pelled him to such an act of gallantry was, and is, largely 


conjectural ; however, as I had a pretty well-grounded sus- 
picion that some of the troopers, both privates and officers, 
were having a good deal of amusement at our expense — 
that is, at mine and the mule's — I positively but courte- 
ously declined the proffer. Did they select that mule for 
my use with " malice prepense?" or did they not? That 
was the question. With this suspicion uppermost in my 
mind I assured him that I was well satisfied with my mount 
and was getting along splendidly. I was determined to 
ride that mule to camp despite his eccentricities, or die in 
the attempt; besides, to be candid, I would not have dared 
to venture on the back of the splendid, high-mettled animal 
rode by the dashing, debonnair young lieutenant. 

After about two hours' ride we came in sight of the mil- 
itary camp dotted over with numerous white tents, and the 
blue-coated soldiers, who had already reached camp, mov- 
ing about under the scattered trees. A little removed from 
the others was noticed a smaller group of tents, the head- 
quarters of Capt. Mix and his staff — a distinction always 
observable in military camps, I have learned since then. 

Anxious to avoid making any further display of equestri- 
enneship, I decided to dismount at this point and walk into 
camp, a distance of a quarter of a mile or such a matter, so 
I slid down from the saddle — as gracefully as could be 
expected from such a lofty position, but instead of stand- 
ing on my feet as I naturally expected to do, I fell to the 
ground in a helpless heap, benumbed in every limb, utterly 
paralyzed. The muleteer, who had kept faithfully at my 
side since leaving the stockade, quickly dismounting, very 
compassionately offered to assist me to my feet, but I per- 
emptorily ordered him away and told him to hasten with 
all possible speed into camp, with my mule, and tell the 
boys that a woman was lying helpless, perchance dying, 
back on the trail, desiring immediate spiritual consolation. 
The obedient muleteer had not proceded far towards camp, 
however, before a peculiar sensation, like the puncture of 
a million needles, began to creep over me, and when upon 


essaying to rise, I found that I could stand on my feet ; the 
blood went coursing through my cramped members and 
soon I was briskly wending my way into camp, none the 
worse for my twelve miles' ride on a government mule. 

On my arrival at camp I was escorted to a comfortable 
tent, that had been provided for my accommodation, 
where I was directly visited by Capt. Mix, whom I had 
not before seen. Very soon the captain's aid appeared at 
the entrance and handed in a sumptuous lunch — a lunch 
that would have tempted the appetite of the most dainty 
epicure — with the compliments of Capt. Mix, and to 
which my readers may be assured ample justice was done. 
Enjoy it? Well, rather; I had become very tired of bacon 
and beans straight. 

Here we were told by Capt. Mix that we had been in 
far greater peril than we dreamed of, for, he said, on 
reaching a high point about fifty miles from the Hills, with 
his command, the signal fires kindled by the Indians who 
had already surrounded the Hills could plainly be seen, 
and also that forced marches had been ordered that our 
imperiled little party might be reached before being mas- 
sacred by the incensed savages. It was found on reaching 
camp, that an ambulance had been provided to convey the 
female prisoner from the Black Hills, much to said pris- 
oner's gratification. 

The next day, April 7th, at the customary bugle signal, 
the march was resumed towards Foit Laramie, nothing of 
special importance occurring until nearing Red Cloud 
Agency. When a few miles distant from that point 
the train was met by a Frenchman, named Baptiste, 
bearing a message from the agent in charge at the post, 
warning Capt. Mix of the hostile attitude of the Indians, 
who were, he said, making threats of saguinary vengeance 
on the invaders as soon as they showed their faces at the 
agency, and advising the captain to conceal all the Black 
Hillers under the canvas of the wagons of the train. 
Capt. Mix told the boys of the fate in store for them, and 


advised them all to get to cover as quickly as possible; 
the boys, however, resented the proposition with much 
scorn. They were not made of the kind of material im- 
plied in such a course. Not only did they not hide under 
the canvas covers, but on reaching the agency they cir- 
culated freely among the Indians who were gathered there 
in large number awaiting their arrival — of course their 
guns were well in band, and no doubt their very boldness 
disarmed the savages — but instead of proceeding to wreak 
vengeance on the real culprits, they seemed to vent their 
entire displeasure on the only innocent member of the 
party. The ambulance in which I was seated was imme- 
diately surrrounded by about a dozen of the most diabolical 
looking specimens of the human form it had ever been mv 
misfortune to see. They surveyed me with such malio-Qaut 
curiosity from every possible point of view, expressing their 
entire disapproval of meby numerous suggestivegestures and 
grunts, that I really became greatly alarmed for mv own 
pei'sonal safety, and ordered the curtains of the ambulance 
closed that I might be hidden from their vindictive gaze. 
Even then their hideous faces could be seen peerino- in at 
me through every nperture, causing a sensation to creep 
over me, as if pierced by a dozen sharp-pointed arrows. 

I don't know why, but those mistaken and misguided 
savages seemed to regard me as the arch-trespasser of the 
party — the very head and front of the whole offending; 
and I feel sure that had it not been for the presence 
of the troops, I would have been speedily disposed of then 
and there, and my scalp would have graced the belt of one of 
those inhuman savages. We were afterward informed that 
the military force had some difficulty in preventing an out- 
break, so wrought up were the Indians over such a wanton 
breach of their treaty rights. 

Our stay at the agency was not a prolonged one, and 
greatly was I relieved when the welcome bugle notes 
sounded the signal to " march !" 

Although prisoners, we were treated with the utmost 


consideration by both oflScers and men on our march to 
Fort Laramie. Every day a carefully prepared lunch was 
sent to our tent with the compliments of the gallant cap- 
tain. Whether this was done as a mere act of common 
courtesy, or prompted by a feeling of commiseration for 
my truly forlorn appearance, and my "lean and hungry 
look " was, and is still, an open question. I am afraid the 
latter is the correct interpretation thereof. 


In about ten days from the time we left camp in the Hills, 
we came in sight of Fort Laramie, and the American flag 
floatino' proudly above the government buildings, the sight 
of which caused the fires of patriotism, that had been 
smouldering within us for the six months previous, to burn 
up with renewed intensity, for, be it understood, we were 
all patriotic Americans to the core, and, like the prodigal 
son, were returning to the paternal arms of Uncle Sam. 

When about two miles from the fort, a gay cavalcade of 
ladies, on horseback, were seen approaching the train, pre- 
sumablv to meet their returning husbands and friends, and 
incidentally to get a glimpse of the prisoners, whom they 
regarded with excusable curiosity. 

They brought the alarming information that the Platte 
River was swollen nearly out of its banks, and so rapidly 
rising, that in less than an hour it would be impossible to 
ford the stream. There was no bridge at that time. The 
train pushed on with all possible speed, soon reaching the 
banks of the turbulent Platte. On the surface of the 
stream, logs, roots of trees, and even some whole trees, 
roots and branches, and all manner of debris went rushing 
alono" with the dreadful swish of the current towards the 
Missouri. There was no time to be lost, so the horses with 
their heavy wagons plunged in, heading up stream and 
almost floating on the bosom of the powerful current, and 
reached the opposite shore in safety. 

The ladies on horseback, the troop of cavalry, and the 


pack mules, including my friend, forged ttirough the angry 
waters; the ladies with skirts sweeping the stream, accom- 
plishing the daring undertaking first. 

We were then marched to the fort where we were 
detained two days, enjoying its hospitality, when the party 
was released, without parole, and given full transportation 
to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where we arrived with neither flour 
in our sacks, nor scrip in our purses. 

Here the members of the first expedition to penetrate the 
Black Hills separated, the author and family remaining in 
Cheyenne during the summer of 1875 awaiting develop- 
ments in the Sioux problem ; the rest of the party, after a 
short delay, boarding a train for Sioux City, the point from 
which the expedition had embarked in early October of the 
preceding year, where they were received right royally by 
its citizens. 

When our returning expedition had reached to a distance 
of about ten miles from Cheyenne, it was met by that 
stanch friend and abettor of the enterprise, Charlie Collins, 
who had traveled all the way from Sioux City to bid the 
pioneers welcome home. 

Yes, we were back again within th. pale of civilization 
and the law, after an absence of nearly seven months. 
Thus ended the memorable journey in and out of the 
Black Hills, with its dangers and hardships, of the first 
expedition, the members of which gained nothing save a 
very dearly-bought experience. 

The way had been opened, however, for the mad rush 
which speedily followed — in fact, it had already begun ere 
we reached Fort Laramie, for, as was afterward learned, a 
party of men were hanging about Red Cloud Agency, wait- 
ing to slip into the Hills as soon as the troops having the 
prisoners in charge had fairly passed out of sight. 

Some of the members of the first expedition returned to 
the Hills during the summer of 1875, others in the early 
spring of 1876 — to whom reference will be made further 
on — while a few never returned, preferring not to face the 


perils and hardships of a second journey to the new Eldo- 
rado. Not all the gold of Ophir, nor the wealth of India, 
would have tempted some of those few to repeat their first 


It was then learned that as soon as it became known to 
the military authorities that an expedition had really been 
organized iind was already on its way to the Black Hills, 
troops were immediately ordered out from Fort Kobinson, 
and other military posts, to overtake or intercept the expedi- 
tion and bring it back to suffer the penalty for disregard 
of government orders. The expedition was not to be 
found, however, by any of the parties sent out, as the 
sequel has shown, owing, in part, no doubt, to the skillful 
maneuvering and the bewildering gyrations of our train 
along the line. 

The troops ordered out from Fort Robinson had a ter- 
rible experience in their fruitless search after our party, 
which was at the time safely encamped on French creek. 
The command consisting of Troop D., Third Cavalry, 
under the captaincy of Brevet Brig. -Gen. Guy V. Henry, 
and about fifteen men of the Ninth Infantry under 
Lieut. Carpenter, with wagons, rations, etc., for thirty 
days, started from Camp (now Fort) Robinson, the 
26th of December on their winter's maich toward the 
Black Hills. By the time the Cheyenne river was 
reached, the weather became so intensely cold — the 
thermometer going down to forty degrees below zero — 
that the hands of both officers and men were terribly 
frozen. They entered the Hills a short distance, but find- 
ing no trail started back on their homeward journey 
braving the keen cutting wind from the north and barely 
escaping being frozen to death. The story of their fearful 
suffering during their homeward ride, is best told in the 
language of the captain in command, in his graphic and 


interesting published account of his experience, a short 
time since. He says: "The cold was so intense that it 
was impossible to ride. Dismounting, we led our horses, 
as they, poor brutes, in their suffering, struggled to escape 
from their riders, Avho, in their frozen condition, had 
trouble to prevent. Our trail was lost or obliterated by 
the snow; our eyes were absolutely sightless from the 
constant pelting of the frozen particles, and thus we 
struggled on. A clump of trees or a hill for shelter from 
the killing, life-sapping wind, would have indeed been a 
sweet haven. 

" With frozen hands and faces, men becoming weaker 
and weaker, many bleeding from the nose and ears, the 
weakest lying down, and refusing to move, — a precursor 
of death ; with them the painful, stinging bite of the frost, 
had been succeeded by the more solid freezing, which 
drives the blood rapidly to the center and produces that 
warm, delightful, dreamy sensation, the forerunner of 
danger and death. They had to be threatened and strapped 
to their saddles, for if left behind death would follow, and 
an officer's duty is to save his men. Ours now was a 
struggle for life; to halt was to freeze to death, to advance 
our only hope, as Red Cloud could not be far awav, and 
some of us might be able to reach camp with life, thouo-h 
with frozen limbs. 

" Weakened, till we could no longer walk, in despera- 
tion, the command, ' Mount,' was given. Stiffened and 
frozen, we clambered into our saddles. Forward, gallop, 
and we all knew this was a race for life. We were power- 
less. Brain nor eye could no longerlielp us. The instinct 
of our horses, would alone save those who could hold out. 
So, on we rushed, life and home in front, death behind. 
Suddenly, turning the curve of a hill, we came upon a 
ranch, inhabited by a white man and his squaw, and we 
were saved. Had the sun burst forth with the heat of 
summer, our surprise and joy could not have been greater 
than they were, to find this place of refuge and safety in 


the wilderness, and to be saved from the jaws of death by 
a 'squaw ranch!' I have since passed this ranch, and 
nothing has ever awakened stronger feelings of gratitude 
than the sight of that hovel. The horses were put in the 
corral. Those that were running wild with their .power- 
less riders were caught. Men were put under shelter, and 
the process of thawing out frozen parts commenced, with 
its attendant pain and suffering. 

" Every oflBcer and man was frozen; some suffered more 
than others; and to this day many are suffering from the 
effects of this march by the loss of members. Even where 
there is no physical disability freezing leaves a nervous 
prostration, from which one never recovers. We found 
ourselves about fifteen miles from our post, and so great 
was the cold, that we could not persuade an Indian to carry 
a message to Red Cloud asking that wagons and ambu- 
lances be sent to our assistance. 

" The next day we received medical attention, and the 
helpless were carried to the post. 

" There could not have been a greater contrast between 
our departure and return. Entering my own quarters, I 
was not recognized, owing to my blackened swollen face. 
All my fingers were frozen to their second joints ; the flesh 
sloughed off, exposing the bones. Other flesh gradually 
grew afterward, except on one flnger, the first joint of 
which had to be amputated, while the joints of ray left 
hand are so stiffened by freezing and extraneous deposits, 
that 1 am unable to bend or close my fingers." 

The above narrative shows what many other officers and 
soldiers in the past have had to undergo on the plains in 
the performance of duty, and not a winter but has its 
maimed and suffering victims, who have borne their share 
in the battle of civilization, rendering victory possible 
through the protection of settlers, the building and exten- 
sion of railroads, and the peopling of the Great West. 

It is very easy indeed, for us, pioneers, to believe that 
the above tale of fearful suffering is not in the least exag- 


ge rated, when we recall that, at the very time our pursuers 
were struggling in the icy embrace of a veritable blizzard, 
right in the teeth of a genuine Norther, that cuts like a 
razor, we were piling up great log fires to ward off the 
intense cold, even though protected from the piercing wind 
by the surrounding hills. It is more difficult, however, to 
understand why they should turn on their homeward ride, 
in the face of such a storm, with the thermometer forty 
degrees below, instead of remaining in the shelter of the 
Hills until the cold abated, having plenty of rations, forage, 
etc., with them. 

It appears that Gen. Henry, erroneously supposing that 
our expedition had entered the Hills at some point on 
their southern limits, expected to either overtake us or 
strike the trail that would lead directly to our camp in the 
Hills, when in fact we had entered at a point almost dia- 
metrically opposite. Manifestly we had a very narrow 
escape from capture, as it could not have exceeded thirty 
miles from the point reached by the troops to our camp 
on French creek. 

It was learned, too, that a detachment of soldiers had 
also been dispatched on our trail from Fort Randall on the 
Missouri river. It transpired that as soon as the band of 
Cheyenne Indians, encountered by our expedition at the 
Cheyenne river crossing, had reached their agency, they 
gave information of having met a large party of white 
men traveling towards the Black Hills, when the military 
authorities at the above named post immediately sent a 
company of mounted infantry in hot pursuit. This com- 
pany succeeded in finding our wagon trail which was fol- 
lowed into the Hills to some point on the Box Elder 
creek, when, their rations becoming exhausted, it was 
forced to give up the pursuit and return to the post. 
Soldiers attached to that company afterwards told that our 
train could not have been more than a day's journey in 
advance of them, as they had spent the night before turn- 
ing back near our recently abandoned camp fires. From 


this, it appears that the company were not at all anxious to 
overtake and capture the expedition when so near its 
journey's end. 


One day during the summer of 1875, while walking along 
one of the principal streets of Cheyenne with a friend, 
there appeared sauntering leisurely towards us from the 
opposite direction a tall, straight, and rather heavily built 
individual in ordinary citizen's clothes, sans revolver and 
knives ; sans buckskin leggins and spurs, and sans every- 
thing that would betoken the real character of the man, save 
that he wore a broad-brimmed sombrero hat, and a profusion 
of light brown hair hanging down over his broad shoulders. 
A nearer view betrayed the fact that he also wore a care- 
fully cultivated mustache of a still lighter shade, which 
curled up saucily at each corner of his somewhat sinister 
looking mouth, while on his chin grew a small hirsute tuft 
of the same shade, and, barring the two latter appendages, he 
might easily have been taken for a Quaker minister. When 
within a few feet of us, he hesitated a moment as if unde- 
cided, then, stepping to one side, suddenly stopped, at the 
same time doffing his sombrero and addressed me in good 
respectable Anglo-Saxon vernacular substantially as fol- 
lows : — 

" Madam, I hope you will pardon my seeming boldness, 
but knowing that you have recently returned from the 
Black Hills, I take the liberty of asking a few questions 
in regard to the country, as I expect to go there myself 
soon. ' My name is Hickoc' " I bowed low in ac- 
knowledgment of the supposed honor, but I must confess, 
that his next announcement somewhat startled me. 

" I am called Wild Bill," he continued, " and you have, 
no doubt, heard of me, — although," he added, " I sup- 
pose you have heard nothing good of me." 

" Yes," I candidly answered, " I have often heard of 
Wild Bill, and his reputation at least is not at all creditable 


to him." " Bat," I hastened to add, " perhaps he is not 
so black as he is painted." 

" Well, as to that," he replied, " I suppose I am called 
a red-handed murderer, which I deny. That I have 
killed men I admit, but never unless in absolute self- 
defense, or in the performance of an official duty. I never, 
in my life, took any mean advantage of an enemy. Yet, 
understand," he added, with a dangerous gleam in his eye, 
" I never allowed a man to get the drop on me. But per- 
haps I may yet die with my boots on," he said, his face 
softening a little. Ah, was this a premonition of the tragic 
fate that awaited him? 

After making a few queries relative to the Black Hills, 
which were politely answered, Wild Bill with a gracious 
bow, that would have done credit to a Chesterfield, 
passed on down the street out of sight, and I neither saw 
nor heard more of him until one day early in August, 1876, 
when the excited cry of " Wild Bill is shot," was carried 
along the main street of Dead wood. 

During our brief conversation he incidentally remarked 
that he thought I possessed a good deal of " sand " to 
undertake so h)ng and dangerous a journey into the 
Black Hills. Now, while Wild Bill, no doubt, intended 
that sentiment as a great compliment — it being his 
ideal of " pluck," — would you believe I did not at first 
quite like the imputation. You see I was not as well 
versed in Western phraseology then, as I have since 

It was a rather startling experience to be " held up " in 
the main thoroughfare of a large, busy town, in broad day- 
light, by a noted desperado, yet Wild Bill performed that 
daring exploit with a single wave of his swift unerring 
right hand. No reflection is meant on his memory when 
it is hinted that perhaps he was not well up in street 
etiquette. Be that as it may, I have been strongly im- 
pressed ever since with the thought that Wild Bill was by 
no means all bad. It is hard to tell what environments 



may have conspired to mould his life into the desperate 
character he is said to have been. 

Before coming to Black Hills in 1876, Will Bill was at one 
time sheriff somewhere in the State of Kansas — in which 
capacity he is reputed to have been a holy terror to law- 
breakers. He was also for many years notable as a gov- 
ernment scout, having acted in that capacity during the 
Civil War. The greater part of his life had been spent on 
the plains, among the lawless element of the Western 
border, where, as an officer of the law, he was brought in 
frequent conflict with all such desperate characters as usu- 
ally infest the frontier setllements; murderers, horse- 
thieves, road-agents, and other criminals, who seem to 
believe that the world owes them a living which they are 
bound to have at any cost. Wild Bill was in consequence 
mixed up in many a desperate encounter, in which the first to 
press the trigger came off victor, and he was usually the first. 

Perhaps the most remarkable peculiarity in the make-up 
of Wild Bill, was his wonderful nerve, and marvelous 
swiftness as a shot — his aim being steady, and his shot 
like a flash of light, it is easy to believe that he never 
allowed a man to get the drop on him. 

Whether he possessed any redeeming traits is a dis- 
puted question ; that he had numerous ardent admirers is 
an admitted fact. 

This bold dashing frontiersnian, who met his fate in 
the Black Hills, upon a time, met a daring and accom- 
plished equestrienne of the circus ring, called Madame 
Agnes Lake, and mutually admiring each other's dashing 
characteristics, they finally loved and were married in 
Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1874. The widow survives her 
murdered husband and now lives somewhere in the State 
of Kansas. 




The Black Hills, apparently an upheaval from the bed 
of a vast ocean, having its existence away back in the 
misty past, or, at some prehistoric period, comprising an 
area of about 6,000 square miles, are situated in South- 
western Dakota, and Eastern Wyoming, the greater part, or 
about two-thirds of the entire area, lying in South Dakota 
and embraced between the north and south forks of the 
Big Cheyenne river, ^vhich encircles them on three sides, 
north, east, and south. Along their entire eastern limits, 
rise up bold, rugged, and lofty ranges of hills, trending 
northeast and southwest, and extending several miles into 
the interior, giving them the appearance of almost com- 
plete inaccessibility, as seen at a distance by one approach- 
ing them from the east. A nearer approach and explora- 
tion, however, will discover the fact that such is by no 
means the case, as along any of the numerous streams that 
gather their waters in the hollows of the jagged granite 
peaks and flow eastward to the plains, will be found practi- 
cable avenues of entrance to the interior. 

The highest point of this wonderful uplift is Harney's 
Peak, in the granite region of the southern Hills, which 
extends its giant naked crest above its surrounding sister 
peaks, to an elevation variously estimated at from 7,500 to 
8,200 feet above the level of the sea. From the summit 
of this dominant peak, one may behold, spread out, a 
glorious panorama of pine-clad hills, luxuriant valleys, and 
far-reaching undulating plains, — which look, in the dis- 
tance, like the billows of old ocean, and perhaps no more 
enchantinor scene ever greeted the human vision. 



This peak was named in honor of Gen. W. S. Harney, 
one of the first Peace Commissioners who were sent out by 
the Government and succeeded in effecting a treaty with 
the Sioux in 1865. 




The second highest point is Crook's Tower, — to the 
northwest of Harney's Peak, which rises up to an altitude 
of 7,140 feet above the plane of the sea. Terry's Peak, in 
the northern Hills, claims a height of 7,076 feet above the 
ocean level, and Inyan Kara, west of the Hills, aspires to 
an altitude of 6,063 feet above the plane of the sea. This 


peculiar formation stands alone in the midst of a plain 
just west of the Hills proper, and bears the appearance, 
as its name signifies, of having been thrown up from the 
center of an earlier upheaval leaving the rim of the earlier 
uplift intact. The name Inyan Kara interpreted from 
the Indian tongue, signifies, " A mountain within a moun- 
tain," — as appropriate as the name is musical. 

Bear Butte, north of the main uplift and distant there- 
from about eight miles, rises up in solitary grandeur, 
4,400 feet above the plane of the sea and 1,200 feet above 
the surrounding plains. The dim outlines of this lone 
mountain, about which cling many interesting Indian tra- 
ditions, could be seen by the longing eyes of the travel- 
worn pioneers for days before reaching their ultima (hide, 
and perhaps never " since the morning stars sang to- 
gether " was the sight of a mere inanimate object hailed 
with greater thankfulness. Bear Butte is entitled to be- 
come historic — to be remembered in song and story as in 
the past in Indian tradition, in that it served as a conspicu- 
ous landmark to the early explorers to the west and north- 
ward, and later to the pioneer, guiding him from afar to the 
golden gate, which it overlooks, and where it will forever 
keep its lonely vigil. 

The most unique geological elevation in the region sur- 
rounding the Black Hills is the " Devil's Tower," which 
rises up from the valley of the Belle Fourche river like a 
hnge fossil tree trunk, 800 feet high and a mile in circum- 
ference at its base. This structure, which is believed by 
those who have examined its formation to have once formed 
the pith of a volcanic cone, is gradually disintegrating and 
falling away, and will doubtless eventually crumble to a con- 
fused pile of broken rocks. 

The mountainous region of the Black Hills includes the 
Harney range of granite peaks and ridges, which extends 
in an almost complete circle from the Buckhorn spurs north 
of Custer City, around to the castellated and massive pile 
known as Calamity Peak, about two miles east of that city ; 


the limestone region in the west, and the volcanic uplifts, 
viz. : Terry's Peak, Crow's Peak, Bear Butte, Inyan Kara, 
Bear Lodge, and Devil's Tower, in the northwest. 

The elevation of some of the principal points in and near 
the Black Hills, as ascertained by the observations and cal- 
culations of Samuel Scott, mining engineer of Custer City, 
is as follows: — (Above the ocean.) 

Harney's Peak 7,403 ft. Inyan Kara 6,063 ft. 

Crook's Tower 7,140 ft. Sundance Mt 6,023 ft. 

Terry's Peak 7,070 ft. Crow's Peak 5,772 ft. 

Bear Lodge 6,828 ft. Black Buttes 5,650 ft. 

Custer's Peak 6,812 ft. 

The most attractive features of the Black Hills region to 
the pioneers were the magnificent forests of pine covering 
the lower ranges and extending far up the lofty mountain 
slopes; and the beautiful groves of spruce and fir trees that 
grew along through the canyons of the Hills, stretching up 
their graceful heads, oftentimes 100 feet toward the top of 
the vertical walls on either side — always strongly sug- 
gestive of the thought that they were reaching up to greet 
the light of the sun's rays, whenever that orb deigned for 
a brief time to shed its beams down into their dark recesses; 
also the many charming natural parks afterwards found 
throughout the Hills, sometimes, strangely enough, right in 
the heart of the heavily timbered region, surrounded by 
lofty mountains and well watered by copious springs. 
Notably among the productive watered parks found hidden 
among the mountains in the depths of the forest is what is 
called Boulder Park, lying about six miles northeast of Dead- 
wood, containing approximately a thousand acres of land. 

Groves of ash, oak, elm and a few other varieties of 
deciduous trees were found to exist on the northern slopes 
of the Hills, and to a limited extent on their eastern and 
southern basis, while the many streams flowing therefrom, 
were found fringed with an abundant growth of cotton- 
wood, box elder, birch, willow, etc. 



The forests of the Black Hills are not to-day what the}' 
were twenty years ago. Those remorseless civilizers, the 
ax and the saw, have shorn them of much of their primitive 
luxuriance and beauty — denuding large areas of their most 

devil's tower, showing millions of tons of fallkn rock. 

valuable timber, leaving in their places nothing but unsightly 
stumps. Despite the stringent laws enacted for the pro- 
tection of Black Hills forests a great deal of wanton 
destruction of valuable timber is carried on year by year. 


Another active agent, that has made sad havoc in the 
forests of the Bhick Hills is the extensive timber fires that 
almost yearly sweep over the Hills, through the most 
heavily wooded territory, leaving in their pathway charred 
trees divested of all beauty. The timber of the Black Hills 
is, for the most part, pine of an excellent quality and of 
suitable dimensions for being sawed into lumber for build- 
ing and various other purposes — in short the forests of 
the Hills are among the many of their valuable resources, 
and upon which, by reason of ever-increasing industries, 
there will be in the future extraordinary demand. 

The area of the Black Hills covered by an excellent 
quality of pine timber is estimated at 3,000 square miles, 
which will produce an adequate supply for all local 
demands for generations yet to come. 


Between the successive mountain ranges of the Black 
Hills are rich, fertile valleys covered with a luxuriant 
growth of grass and susceptible of a high condition of 
cultivation. Agriculture is carried on extensively in the 
numerous valle3^s interspersed throughout the Hills, im- 
mense crops of cereals, also potatoes and other tubers, in 
fact all kinds of vegetables being raised with wonderful 
success. Wild fruits, such as plums, grapes, cherries, 
currants, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, and june- 
berries are found in great abundance, and of large size and 
excellent quallity, pronounced by experts to be equal if 
not superior in flavor to the cultivated fruits of the same 

Although no extensive attention has yet been given to 
fruit culture, experiment has proven that many varieties of 
apples and pears can be successfully cultivated. System- 
atic efforts have been made by nursery men near the east- 
ern slopes of the Hills towards fruit culture, and several 
kinds of fruit, not indigenous to the Black Hills, have 
been grown with the most gratifying results. Perhaps 


the most extensive and successful fruit culturist in the 
Black Hills is C. Thompson, whose nursery is located a few 
miles out from Rapid City and upon whom was bestowed 
the award for the size and quality of fruit exhibited at 
the Dakota State fair. 

The soil of the valleys and plains surrounding the Black 
Hills is also exceedingly productive in the cereals, and 
all vegetables suitable to that latitude, the extensive beds 
of gypsum surrounding the Hills furnishing an inex- 
haustible source of fertilization to the lands lying adjacent 
thereto. The entire region outside of the timbered area 
is covered with an abundant growth of buffalo grass, which 
to-day furnishes grazing for thousands of cattle, horses 
and sheep, without other sustenance throughout the entire 
year. This "bunch grass," which principally grows in 
the valleys and on the bench lands, makes its appearance 
early in the spring, reaches maturity in June, and cures 
where it stands, retaining all its nutritive qualities, thus 
constituting the best autumn and winter food for stock 
that nature has provided. 


The climate of the Black Hills though in many respects 
peculiar to itself, depends, — like all mountainous region, 
greatly upon locality. Through the dry season, extending 
from May to October, comparatively little rain falls on the 
surrounding plains, while through the mountainous region 
rainfalls are frequent and copious, and the more heavily, 
timbered the region the more frequent the showers. The 
mountains serve as condensers, gathering and precipitating 
the moisture, with which the atmosphere is charged, by 
evaporation from remote localities, while the plains may 
be dry and parched by long continued drouth. 

Dark thunder clouds, heavily charged with electricity, 
frequently hover over the mountain tops, and, after dis- 
charging their abundant moisture over the forest region, 
break and fade away before reaching the edge of the plains. 


Doubtless, the more extensive culture of timber areas on 
the treeless portions of the Hills region, will result in a 
corresponding increase of precipitation. 

No great depth of snow falls save in the limestone 
ranges of the Hills where it remains the greater part of 
the season from December to May. Much more snow falls 
in the northern than in the southern Hills, or on the val- 
leys outside, and it remains longer. The heaviest snow 
falls in the months of March and April, and sometimes 
even in May. The great flood of 1883, which wrought 
such destruction in the northern Hills, was occasioned by a 
heavy fall of snow in early May, followed by a warm rain. 

The temperature of the Black Hills varies with elevation 
and topography. In exceptional cases in the history of the 
Hills, the thermometer has been known to indicate a range of 
122 degrees, from twenty-five degrees below to ninety-seven 
above, seldom, however, reaching more than ninety-four 
degrees above to twenty degrees below zero, the main tem- 
perature varying according to location from eight to ten 
degrees. Owing to the dryness of the climate, in this 
favored region, the extremes of heat and cold are not felt 
as in the humid atmosphere of eastern localities in the same 


In the drainage system of the Black Hills the principal 
streams are the Belle Fourche, or north fork, and the south 
fork of the Big Cheynne river, the Red water, Sand, Spear- 
fish, Whitewood, False Bottom, Alkali, Bear Butte, Elk, 
Box Elder, Rapid, Spring, Battle, French, Beaver, Red 
Canyon, and Fall River. Of these. Sand, Spearfish and 
False Bottom creeks, empty their waters into the Red- 
water, a tributary of the Belle Fourche, while all the other 
above named streams discharge into the South Fork of the 
Big Cheyenne river. A notable feature of the drainage 
system is that a number of the streams flowing eastward 
from the Hills, sink and find a subterranean channel as they 
approach the foothills, the water rising again to the surface, 


a short distance below, but sometimes carrying no surface 
water to the streams of which they are tributaries. As a 
matter of fact, the only streams of the system which 
unfailingly discharge their waters into the main 
rivers, throughout the year, are the Red water, Spearfish, 
Rapid and Fall River creeks, the first three of which, 
furnish ample power for manufacturing and milling, besides 
a large surplus for irrigation purposes. Numerous springs 
producing an abundant supply of pure, soft water, are 
found in every part of the Black Hills. 


The most notable characteristic of the Black Hills reofion 
is the abundance and wonderful variety of its mineral pro- 
ductions. Although young in point of development, they 
have already in operation some of the most productive gold 
mines in the world, and they are known to contain silver, 
iron, copper, galena, tin, nickel, plumbago, cobalt, mica, 
asbestes, antimony, salt, arsenic, and almost every other 
known metal. The oft repeated assertion that the Black 
Hills are the richest mineral region of equal area in the 
world is no doubt true. 


No evidence that Indians had at any time made the Black 
Hills their home was found by the first pioneers, which, to 
them, was a matter of no little surprise, because contrary 
to all preconceived ideas on that point. The romantic 
mental picture drawn of the Black Hills, as the Indians' 
elysium, whither they hied them from the heat and fatigue 
of the summer hunt, to rest under the grateful shades of 
their beautiful groves, and smoke the pipe of peace or war, 
according to their mood, while the squaws gathered the 
wood, built the fires, and cooked the meals, the dusky 
maidens and boys meanwhile disporting themselves, ac- 
cording to their savage fancies, such as target practice with 
the bow and arrow, running, jumping, etc., sports of which 


the young braves are excessively fond; and the war dances, 
the ghost, and other dances, in the deep ravines, where the 
warwhoop would be sure to ring out with the most telling- 
effect, was completely dissolved. It seems plain enough 
that the tastes and proclivities of savages cannot be gauged 
from a civilized standpoint, for, as it appeared, the Black 
Hills with all their varied attractiveness possessed no charms 
for the red men, while to white men they would have been 
a veritable paradise. 

Ample evidences were afterwards found that they fre- 
quently visited the foothills, for the purpose of supplying 
themselves with lodge poles, rarely, however, venturing 
very far into the interior. The reason for this avoidance 
of the Hills is believed by many to be their superstitious 
fear of the terrible thunder storms, which frequently occur 
in the Hills, when the lightning, doubtless attracted by 
the mineral, sometimes plays fantastic freaks, that would 
make even the most philosophical pale-face quail. It has 
been asserted by those familiar with the habits of the 
Indian, that, when caught in the Hills by a threatened 
thnnder-storm they would fly with a piercing shriek and in 
the wildest terror, out towards the plains, at the first flash 
of lightning, and the first low rumblings of thunder. 


Of the many curions Indian traditions and legends handed 
down from the dead centuries, none, perhaps, are more in- 
teresting to us than the superstitions of the Dakotahs in 
regard to the Black Hills — superstitions having their 
origin in the fertile imaginations of these simple-minded 
people, living so close to the heart of nature, which they 
are wholly unable to comprehend. Owing to their com- 
plete ignorance of the infallible laws governing the great 
forces of nature, they are led to invest everything that is 
awe-inspiring and grand, all the magnificent, and, to 
them, incomprehensible objects in nature, with human 
or superhuman powers. Everything that moves, such as 


the sun, moon, wiod, clouds, etc., they clothe with attri- 
butes of a god or man, in proportion to the power with 
which they are impressed. 

Accord ini>: to Indian folk-lore, thev believe that the Great 
Spirit sits enthroned, under some one of the lofty peaks 
of the Black Hills who, in his angry moods, shoots forth 
tongues of forked lightning, and hurls out forged thunder- 
bolts from his abiding place, sometimes accompanied by 
violent wind, which, they claim, is kept stored in great 
tanks for such occasions, all of which they regard as direct 
manifestations of his dire displeasure, — and the terrible 
-electrical storms that occasionally sweep over the Hills, 
twisting, splintering, and tearing up by the roots the great 
giants of the woods, leaving them lying in bewildering 
confusion along the mountain slopes, they regard as an 
exhibition of his still more wrathy paroxysms. It is not 
surprising, then, in view of this belief, that the Indians 
should have given the Black Hills an extremely wide berth. 
They, evidently, had no desire to approach or spend much 
time around the throne of an incensed deity. 

Another superstition of theirs was, that the evil spirit 
had his realm in the dark ravines and gorges of the Hills, 
whose malign influence caused the sun to refuse to shine 
down into their dark recesses, Avhile others of their numer- 
ous deities had their abodes somewhere among the moun- 
tain ranges. Still another story, — one of much significance 
current among the Sioux, w\as that a white man was kept 
confined, under one of the lofty mountains of the Hills, 
doomed to perpetual imprisonment, as a warning to tres- 
passers upon their happy hunting ground. As the story 
goes, this prisoner, who, inconsistent as it may seem, is 
allowed to sally forth occasionally for a constitutional, is 
a person of colossal proportions, and is reputed to leave, 
in his perambulations, footprints twenty feet long,/^ Which 
one of the Indian deities is his custodian, or to what na- 
tionality the prisoner belongs, tradition saith not. More- 
over, there are other strange legends, which are told and 


accepted by them, with the same blind, unreasoning cred- 
ulity, that has characterized, to a more or less extent, all 
the primitive and uncivilized nations of the world. 

The year 1874, beginning the first epoch in the pioneer 
history of the Black Hills, and the two subsequent years 
of 1875-6, forming as they do, the era comprehended 
between their invasion by the first expedition, and their 
legitimate occupancy in the early part of 1877, were truly 
momentous ones, a period pregnant with exciting and 
tragic events, not unmixed with incidents both pathetic 
and ludicrous, mau}^ of which occurred under the author's 
own observation, and in a few of which she participated. 

Although those early pages, as a result of the then crude 
conditions, have to record a few cases of high crimes, and 
some of lesser magnitude, it may safely be asserted, that 
far less lawlessness prevailed during their chaotic period, 
than in any other mining region of which we have informa- 
tion. The stains upon the white pages of our history are 
comparatively few^ though not far between. 

All through the summer of 1875, the United States 
troops were kept exceedingly busy in an unsuccessful 
attempt to keep back the hordes of gold seekers, who were 
continually making their way into the Hills, from every 
point of the compass, and in driving out those who had 
succeeded in eluding their vigilance. Vain effort ! Expe- 
rience has show'n that adventurers or hunters after the 
yellow metal will not and cannot be stayed; — as well 
attempt to stop the swollen current of the Father of 
Waters at its flood tide, in its resistless rush to the Gulf, — 
throw obstacles across its course, and it will remorselessly 
sweep them out of its path, or overflow, and cut a new 
channel for its mighty volume of waters to speed on its 
way to the sea. Miners, methinks, when determined to 
reach a region where gold is reputed to exist, are quite as 
slippery as the proverbial eel, that slips through the hand, 
despite the firmness of the grasp. The case of the Black 
Hills furnishes an exemplification of the aptness of the 


above comparison, for even had a cordon of soldiers with 
extended bayonets, in close contact, been placed around 
the Hills, doubtless some loophole would have been found 
to slip through. 


Immediately upon the removal of the first expedition 
from the stockade in 1875, adventurers began to make their 
way into the Hills, but not until late in the fall of 1875 
and the spring of 1876 did the great rush of immigration 
take place, when, over every practicable route to theHills,^ 
representatives of every trade and profession under the 
sun came rushing along, figuratively, tumbling over each 
other in their headlong haste to be the first to reach 
the New Eldorado, each individual sanguine of realizing 
fabulous wealth on reaching the end of his journey. 

Some were in companies, varying in size, with wagons 
well loaded with supplies, and munitions of war; others 
on horseback, with blankets and guns strapped on 
their saddles, their waists encircled with cartridge belts 
and bristling with revolvers, knives, etc., — veritable mov- 
ing arsenals — while many were on foot, with all their 
equipments swung on a stick over their shoulders, some- 
times traveling by day and hiding by night, resorting to 
various devices to cover up their trials, thus hoping to 
escape the vengeance of the marauding Sioux, who were, 
in the spring of 1876, on the warpath, fierce for the scalps 
of any poor pilgrim who might be found treading with 
sacrilegious feet on their cherished hunting ground. Yet, 
alas ! many of them met their death at the hands of 
the ambushed foe, — how many can never be known. 
However, the numerous new-made graves, seen along the 
various highways into the Hills, marking the scenes of the 
dark tragedies enacted near by, revealed in mute but elo- 
quent language, the sad fate of not a few, — graves of the 
poor victims, whose mutilated bodies were oftentimes found 
and hastily buried by other pilgrims following in their 


wake — graves with only a small piece of pine board to 
serve as a monument to mark the spot, and with no other 
epitaph than the one simple word — " Unknown," inscribed 
thereon. Yes, unknown, yet who had mother, wife, or 
sister, perhaps, who long waited and watched till the heart 
ached and the eyes grew weary, for some message from 
the absent ones who would never return. 

We have all seen advertisements in some of the news- 
papers, of the Black Hills, reading thus: "Information 
wanted of , so and so (giving name, age, description, etc.), 
who left his home for the Black Hills in 1875 or 1876, as 
the case might be, since which time he has not been heard 
from. Any information regarding him will be thankfully 
received, etc." Many of those missing ones, perchance, 
lie buried in some of the unknown graves scattered along 
the lines of early travel into the Black Hills. 

A journey into the Black Hills in 1875-6 from any point, 
was one fraught with danger, involving in 1875 the great 
probability of capture by the United States soldiers, and in 
1876 that of meeting the deadly Sioux, who were then 
in open and active hostility. Thus they were literally fac- 
ing possible death at every step of their journey over the 
plains. Notwithstanding the danger, the steady influx 
continued, some being forced to turn back before reaching 
their destination, the majority, however, managing to slip 
through into the Hills. 

In one short year the whole aspect of the Black Hills was 
transformed from a wilderness into a scene of busy life, 
furnishing to those who had seen them in all their primi- 
tiveness a striking contrast indeed. 

The impressive silence, the profound solitude, that had 
therefore reigned supreme over the hills and valleys, was 
rudely broken. 

All along the banks of various streams and in numerous 
gulches of the Hills, never before trodden by civilized feet, 
might be seen the tents of hundreds of busy prospectors dili- 
gently delving for the shining particles with pick and 




shovel, whose noise awoke the slumbering echoes of the 
surrounding hills ; and scores of others might be seen 
sitting prone, along the edges of the streams, with gold- 
pans filled with gravel, scooping up the water, whose How 
and ebb washed off the lighter substance, leaving that of 
the greater specific gravity in the bottom of their pans ; 
then with magnifying glasses eagerly peering into the little 
arcs of black sand left in the bottom of their pans to dis- 
cover the traces of gold. Did they find gold? Oh, yes, 
they always found colors, each one claiming an average of 
from fifteen to forty cents to the pan from grass roots 
down to bed-rock. 




According to the most reliable information obtainable, 
the first to reach the Black Hills in the spring of 1875, was 
a small party, of which Wade Porter, Thos. Monahan, 
Rob't Kenyon, Wm. Coslett, Alfred Gay, and others, were 
members; with a sprinkling of squaw men and half-breed 
Indians. This party had rendezvoused near Red Cloud 
Agency in April, 1875, awaiting the return and passage of 
the troops having the prisoners in charge, ready to follow 
back their trail to the stockade. It is to be presumed that 
no time was lost, and that ere the troops had reached Fort 
Laramie with their prisoners, this party had entered the 
wide open gates of our once boasted stronghold in the Hills, 
and taken possession of the recently vacated cabins within 
the walls, — even before their rude hearthstones had 
hardly time to grow cold, — and it is further reasonable 
to suppose that no time was lost by them in ferreting out, 
and bringing forth to the light of day the various pieces 
of property that had been so carefully cached only a few 
days before, and, perchance, the cattle that had been 
driven to the recesses of the Hills by the furious snowstorm, 
at the time of the exodus of their owners, were soon found 
and appropriated by them, — all of which, no doubt, 
should be regarded as the legitimate booty of those having 
the good fortune of finding them. But I draw the line at 
the trunk. What became of the cached trunk? That is 
the problematic question.. Alas ! did it too fall into the 
hands of the half-breeds and squaw men? To a moral cer- 
tainty some man found that trunk and appropriated its 
contents, but what use a man could possibly put some of 
the garments and other articles to, is somewhat puzzling. 


It certainly needed no wonderful detective skill to have 
found its hidin«-place, as the attention of anyone entering 
the third cabin on the left of the entrance to the stockade, 
would at once be attracted to a rather suspicious looking 
spot in one of the corners of the cabin floor, — which would 
betray the secret. When I say floor, I mean ground floor, 
literally. According to a plausible theory, they first raked 
off the debris from the surface, then shoveled away a few 
inches of Mother Earth, removed the poles that spanned the 
small opening, and there about three feet below the surface 
it stood fully revealed; the trunk being lifted out, and the 
lid pried open, the work of desecration began. Garment 
after garment of the owner's personal wardrobe was taken 
out and curiously scrutinized, — they no doubt wondering 
what, or how each article was to be utilized, — nothing 
extremely elaborate, it must be confessed, yet- all she 
possessed. But the half has not yet been told. On reach- 
ing the bottom of the trunk, a small mahogany box was 
found in which was deposited, among other trinkets, a 
little golden locket, enwrapped in a small piece of tissue 
paper, grown yellow with the passage of years, which en- 
closed the shadow of a face, — a very dear face. A 
romance? Oh, no, there was no romance whatever con 
nected with that long-treasured memento, — only the 
pictured face of a much beloved classmate, who bad, years 
before, left her work unfinished and crossed over the 
border into the spirit land. The loss of this picture cut 
deep. The owner of that wardrobe was for many years after 
diligently searching for a dusky maiden, trigged out in the 
garments abstracted from that ill-starred trunk, and with 
a little golden locket suspended from her bronzed throat, 
or, perchance, from one of her dusky ears, — but without 
reward. The loser has long since ceased to regret the loss 
of her wardrobe of twenty years ago, but the picture 
never; and woe betide the luckless maid, or fully-matured 
dame, red or white, who is ever found wearing that 
cherished locket. 


This same little ptuty of golden hunters, who had fol- 
lowed up so quickly the exit trail of the first pioneers, 
after being comfortably domiciled in the deserted cabins, 
and possessing themselves of such cached property as 
could be found in and around the stockade, which included 
picks, shovels, gold pans, etc., proceeded without un- 
necessary delay to the work of prospecting, — some mining 
in the abandoned works on French creek, others scatter- 
ing out through the Hills in search of richer fields. How- 
ever, they were not long left uninterrupted in their labors. 
The military authorities soon learning of their bold 
escapade through the lines into the Hills, at once sent a 
detachment of mounted soldiers, lead by Raymond, a 
scout in the government service, to remove them, or any 
others who might be found in the Hills, to the agency. In 
the early part of May those of the party who remained on 
French creek were one day surprised and captured, with 
their provisions, and escorted back to Red Cloud agency, 
where, after a short duress, they were set at liberty and 
their property restored to them. It is to be presumed that 
their outward march was not characterized by the headlong 
haste with which they entered the Hills, not many days 
before. However, they soon returned to the Hills by a cir- 
cuitous route. The other members of the party who 
escaped capture — among whom was Wade Porter, remained 
in the Hills, until the arrival of the Jenny Expedition, in 
June, with which they prospected to some extent under 
the protection of Col. Dodge's command, and were not 
afterwards disturbed, until they, with hundreds of others, 
who, in the meantime, had entered the Hills, were ordered 
out by Gen. Crook on August 10th, 1875. 


The first well-equipped expedition to embark for the 
Black Hills in the spring of 1875 was organized and out- 
fitted at Sioux City, through the efforts of John Gordon, 
who, it will be remembered, left the stockade with Eaf 


Witcher, in the depth of winter, February 6th, and rode 
back over the bleak plains to Sioux City, bearing the shin- 
ing particles that were to set the whole country in a wild 
delirium. Obviously, no time had been lost by Gordon, in 
carrying out the plan agreed upon, before leaving the 
stockade, of fitting out an expedition as speedily as possi- 
ble, and returning with reinforcements and supplies to the 
imperiled little band, left entrenched among the mountains. 

The state of the public mind was highly auspicious at the 
time for the organization of a Black Hills expedition evi- 
dently, for in a little more than sixty days from the time 
the two hardy messengers left the Hills, the organization 
was complete; outfits were purchased and every one ready 
for marching orders. The members numbered 174 men, 
and two women, one of whom was the wife of Major 
Brockett — a member of the Collins and Russell expedition 
of 1874; the other a German woman, whose name is not 
positively known. It is believed, however, that she was 
Mrs. Schlawig, whose husband kept a brewery in Dead- 
wood in 1876. The train consisted of twenty-nine wagons, 
heavily freighted with provisions, saddle horses and all the 
other adjuncts of a well-equipped expedition. 

The train was scheduled to leave Sioux City on the 20th 
of April, 1875, but owing to the mass of ice floating in the 
river the ferryboat was unable to cross, causing a delay of 
several days. On the morning of the 25th the whistle of 
the steam ferry blew the signal that the channel was clear, 
when the impatient gold adventurers hurried to the land- 
ing and were all soon landed on the opposite side of the 
river. On the following morning, April 26th, the train, 
under the captaincy of John Gordon, marched away from 
the west bank of the Missouri — ^ strangely enough, with- 
out attracting the notice of Uncle Sam's watchful agents — 
and proceeded on its way westward across the State of 
Nebraska unmolested until, reaching a point on the Nio- 
brara river between Snake and Antelope creeks, near the 
present site of Gordon, Neb., where, at 6 o'clock in the 


morning on the 25th of May, a company of infantry under 
Capt. Walker, and two troops of cavalry, and a battery of 
two Gatling guns, from Fort Robinson, in command of 
Capt. Mills, surrounded the expedition, seized and burned 
nearly the entire train, with its valuable cargo of mer- 
chandise, besides the blankets and personal belongings of 
many of the party. 

One of the wagons, however, was saved from the general 
holocaust by the bravery and pertinacity of a woman — 
Mrs. Brockett. Mrs. Brockett occupied a seat on this 
wagon on the top of a load of merchandise belonging to 
her husband, and do you suppose she could be induced to 
yield up her point of vantage on that load of goods? No, 
indeed ; not she ! Most women would have meekly yielded, 
but Mrs. Brockett didn't. She could neither be persuaded, 
cajoled, nor frightened into giving up her " dead cinch " 
on that load of merchandise, but sat as immovable as a rock 
and as imperturbable as the famed Egyptian sphinx. The 
officer in command was completely nonplussed. He was 
too gallant a gentleman to order violent hands laid upon 
a lady; neither did he feel quite justified in turning a 
Gatling gun upon her, and of course it wouldn't do to 
cremate her alive; so, after exhausting every kind of 
strategy known to military tactics, he was finally compelled 
to face the wagon about with its load of merchandise — 
including the plucky Mrs. Brockett, who, with the rest of 
the party, were marched back under military escort to 
Yankton, where they were set across the river and admon- 
ished not to return with trespassing intent. 

John Gordon, the leader of the expedition, was taken 
into custody and conducted to the nearest military prison 
(Fort Robinson), where he was held until August, 1875, 
when he was taken to Omaha, Neb., for trial, and released 
by Judge Dundy, of that city. 

The train of this expedition belonged to the Sioux City 
and Black Hills Transportation Co., that being the initial 
trip of the line. 


Despite the discouraging fiiilure of his second adventure 
Gordon, after his release, with admirable pluck and per- 
severance returned to the Hills, but hard luck seemed to 
follow him. The fickle goddess refused to smile upon his 
etiforts and would not be propitiated. 

Meeting our former leader on the streets of Dead wood, 
one day, late in the 70's, I ventured to inquire how 
things were " panning out " for him in the Black Hills. He 
frankly confided to me that he had not as yet succeeded in 
striking "pay gravel." '* Every venture has so far proved 
a disastrous failure; and what is worse, I am several hun- 
dred dollars out of pocket," he answered. By way of 
encouragement, I told him, in reciprocal confidence, that 
we, too, had gotten clear down to bed-rock, with not a 
dollar in sight, and as a further solace, took occasion to 
remind him that the brave were not always rewarded with 
success. Since that day I have never seen the leader and 
guide of the first expedition to the Black Hills. 


In the spring of 1875, after the discovery of gold in the 
Black Hills, and even before the first expedition was re- 
moved from the stockade, the government, foreseeing the 
inevitable consequences of such discovery, and antici- 
pating the difficulty of preventing trespassers from entering 
upon the Sioux reserve, and, at the same time, unwilling 
that the then existing treaty stipulation should be violated, 
deemed it expedient that immediate steps be taken, in the 
interest of miners as well as for the protection of the In- 
dians, towards securing the right, by new treaty, or other- 
wise, to enter the Black Hills portion of the Sioux reserva- 
tion for the purposes of prospecting and mining. 

Preliminary to this, however, inasmuch as there were 
many conflicting rumors in regard to the existence of gold 
in paying quantities, the government decided to send 
reliable parties into the reputed gold-bearing region, to 
ascertain the true value and extent of its mineral deposits, 


or other possible resources. A report of the result of such 
investigation would furnish substantial information upon 
which to base an intelligent judgment, in the event of any 
subsequent negotiations for the acquisition of the Black 
Hills, and their abandonment by the Indians. 

Accordingly, an expedition for that purpose was organ- 
ized under the direction and control of the Interior Depart- 
ment and Walter P. Jenny, was appointed to take charge of 
the work, — receiving his commission, March 26th, 1875. 
On April 25th the expedition, fully manned and equipped, 
was gathered at Cheyenne, Wyoming, ready to embark for 
the Black Hills, to enter upon the important work intrusted 
to it. Owing to some misunderstanding, however, the nec- 
essary transportation facilities had not been furnished,, 
which necessitated a delay of nearly a month. 

At length, on the 20th day of May, everything being in 
readiness, the expedition started for Fort Laramie, where 
it was joined by a military escort, under the command of 
Lieut. -Col. R. T. Dodge, 23d Infantry, when the whole 
party moved on Black Hills- ward. 

As the extent and scope of the work to be accomplished, 
was designed to be of far-reaching importance, both from 
a material and scientific standpoint, it was deemed advis- 
able to change the original plan by adding to the corps an 
astronomer and topographer, Capt. P. H. Tutlle, of Cam- 
bridge University, and Dr. V. T. McGillicuddy, at present 
of Rapid City, South Dakota, being commissioned to the 
respective positions. 

As much of the history of the Black Hills during the 
year 1875, is embodied in the reports of officers in charge 
of the scientific and military expeditions ordered into the 
Hills, and is therefore a matter of public record, I feel 
justified in copying such reports, either as a whole, or in 
part, as the only available source from which to obtain 
absolutely correct information in regard to the work and 
movements of said expeditions. 

From Prof. Jenny's published account of the movements 


Photographed about March, 1878, and a good representation of the 

youthful Geologist, at the time of the Black Hills 

Scientific Expedition in 1875. 


of the expedition under his charge, after leaving Cheyenne, 
I copy the following: — 

" Arriving at Fort Laramie on May 20th, all arrange- 
ments were consummated, and crossing the Phitle on the 
afternoon of the 24th of May, we joined the military 
escort, furnished by the War Department, consisting of 
Lieut. -Col. E. T. Dodge, Twenty-third Infantry, com- 
manding; Lieut. M. F. Trout, Ninth Infantry, adjutant ; 
Lieut. J. F. Trout, Twenty-third Infantry, quartermaster; 
Lieut. J. G. Bourke, Third Cavalry, topographer ; and 
Surgeons Jaquette and Kane, with two companies of the 
Ninth Infantry under Capts. A. H. Bowan, Munson and 
Lieut. DeLaney; two companies of the Second Cavalry 
under Capt. Spaulding and Lieuts. C. F. Hall, J. H. 
Cole and F. W. Kingbury ; four companies of the Third 
Cavalry under Capts. W. Hawley, G. Russell, and W. 
H. Wessels, and Lieuts, A. D. King, R. G. Whitman, 
James Lawson, J. G. Foster, and C. Norton, with a train of 
seventy-five wagons. 

" This large command, numbering full 400 men, would 
seem at first unnecessarily strong for the mere purpose of 
protecting from Indians those who were pursuing the in- 
vestigation in the Hills, but the attitude of the Indians on 
the penetration of this, the most cherished spot of their 
reservation, could not be foretold, and it was known that 
they had been not a little agitated by the invasions of 
Gen. Custer in the previous year, and by the subse- 
quent visits and operations of miners. Though no bands 
of Indians were met during the work, our safety and free- 
dom from their visits were probably due to the well-known 
magnitude and strength of the expedition. 

" A great measure of the success of the exploration is 
due to the hearty co-operation of the oflicers of the com- 
mand, but particularly to the commander. Col. Dodge, 
whose unwavering interest and determination to make the 
work successful, and whose constant assistance and court- 
esy were especially valuable and grateful during the entire 


course of the work. To Lieuts. Norton and Foster, 
who were detailed for topographical work, Dr. McGilli- 
cuddy is indebted for assistance in the prosecution of his 

" Reaching the Black Hills on the east fork of the Beaver 
on the 3d day of June, the work of the survey was soon 
begun, and a permanent camp was established on French 
creek near the stockade erected by the miners during the 
previous winter. In order to pursue the work more rap- 
idly and thoroughly a division of the party was made, as 
follows : — 

" Mr. Jenny, with a corps of assistants, assumed more 
particularly the investigation of the mineral resources of 
the country, prospecting the gold deposits, etc., while the 
remainder of the party, Mr. Newton, Dr. McGillicuddy, and 
Capt. Tuttle continued the topographical and more com- 
plete geological study of the Hills. As the work of the 
survey progressed northward the main body of the escort 
of troops was transferred from one base of supplies to 
another, so as to keep up with the course of the expedi- 
tion. In this manner, with scarcely a day's remission 
from work, the surve}' continued until the entire area of 
the Black Hills between the forks Of the Cheyenne had 
been mapped, and its geology and mineral resources de- 
termined, as fully as the rapid progress would permit. 

" Having passed over the entire country, and accom- 
plished the object of the expedition, the various parties 
assembled on the Cheyenne, at the mouth of Rapid creek, 
and began the march homeward, reaching Fort Laramie 
via White River and the agencies of Spotted Tail and Red 
Cloud, on the fourteenth day of October, after an absence 
of four months and twenty daj's." 

Having disbanded the expedition at Chej'enne, the offi- 
cers of the survey returned east, and assembled in Wash- 
ington early in November to complete their reports. While 
in the field, the various discoveries of the presence of gold 
in the different districts were announced to the Comrais- 


sioner of Indian Affairs at Washington, and a preliminary 
report by Mr. Jenny on the mineral resources of the Hills, 
accompanied by a small preliminary map by Dr. McGilli- 
cuddy, was published in the annual re})ort of the Commis- 
sioner of Indian Affairs for 1875. The completed obser- 
vations of the mineral resources, climate, etc., possessing 
immediate and particular interest, were, by resolution of 
the Senate, called for in advance of the final report, and 
with a preliminary map were published in 1876. 

The subjoined account, given by Professor Jenny, of his 
meeting with the miners on French creek, may be read 
with interest: — 

" When I reached French creek, June 16th, 1875, about 
fifteen men were found camped four miles above the stock- 
ade, where they had been at work for several weeks, and 
had staked off claims, built small dams and were digging 
ditches, preparatory to commencing sluicing on the bars 
along the banks of the streams. These miners were very 
enthusiastic in regard to the mineral wealth of the gulch ; 
they were reporting from five to twenty-five cents to the 
pan from the gravel, and made the most extravagant state- 
ments as to the yield which would be obtained as soon as 
they commenced working with sluices. But they were 
working under unfavorable circumstances, the water supply 
was very small — not exceeding fifty miner's inches, with 
every indication that it would soon fail entirely, and the 
grade of the valley was so small that it was difficult to get a 
good head of water for sluicing. 

" On testing, by washing the pay gravel from the different 
prospect holes already opened, with a pan, and weighing 
the gold obtained, it was found that the usual yield along 
the streams was from four to eight colors to the pan 
(about one-tenth to one-fifth of a cent), and in favorable 
and somewhat limited localities, from a half cent to as 
high as one and a half cents were obtained from the gravel 
from off bed-rock. 

" The gravel bars were rich enough in gold to pay if exten- 


sively worked under more favorable circumstances, but too 
poor to yield a remunerative return for the labor employed, 
except in a few limited deposits of gravel near the extreme 
head of the stream.'* 

The following is a copy of Professor Jenny's dispatch to 
the Department at Washington from camp on French 
creek : — 

" Camp on French Creek, June 17th, 1875. 
To Hon. E. P. Smith, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 
Washington, D. C . : 

I have discovered gold in small quantities on the north 
bend of Castle creek, in terraces of bars and quartz gravel. 
Arrived here yesterday. About fifteen men have located 
claims on the creek above here and have commenced work- 
ing. Gold is found southward to French creek at this 
point. The region has not been fully explored, but the 
yield of gold is small and the richness of the gravel has 
been greatly exaggerated. The prospect, at present, is not 
such as to warrant extensive operations in mining. 

Walter P. Jenny, E. M., 
Geologist of Exploration of the Black Hills." 

The thought may here occur to the mind of the reader, 
as it has to mine, that the results of the work of explora- 
tion of the Black Hills for mineral deposits, as shown by 
the reports of Professor Jenny to the Commissioner of 
Indian Affairs, was by no means of an encouraging 
nature. The infinitesimal prospects obtained were not 
calculated to inspire the belief that the placer min- 
ing in the territory examined could, by even the 
most approved processes, be made very remunerative. 
Of course, the existence of gold was demonstrated and 
much other valuable information obtained, in reference to 
their geology, topograph}^ etc., yet the result certainly 
furnished but small evidence that the Black Hills would 
ever become the great mineral producing country into 
which it has since developed. But, when it is remembered 



that the marvelous placer deposits of the northern Hills 
had not yet been discovered, and when it is considered 
that no systematic mining was practicable and the pros- 
pects obtained were merely pan tests, from the surface 
down to bed-rock, at more or less widely separated points, 
the homeopathic character of the prospects obtained ceases 
to be a matter of surprise. However, by years of persist- 
ent work, with an ever-abiding faith in the final outcome, 
it has since been demonstrated that the Black Hills is pre- 
eminently a gold-producing country. Discoveries have 
been made, and are being made, almost daily, in both the 
northern and southern Hills, that have proved a wonderful 
revelation to the mining world. 




AH attempts of the government to keep the people out 
of the Black Hills, proved from the first unsuccessful. 
From the time the first expedition succeeded in secretly 
launching its " prairie craft " and eluding subsequent pur- 
suit, and in finally planting its banners amid the natural 
battlements of the Hills, right within the " holy of holies " 
of the hunting ground of the Sioux, it became evident that 
the government would soon be compelled to yield to the 
popular demand, that some arrangement be made with the 
Indians, looking to the relinquishment of their claim to 
the Black Hills portion of their reservation. As a matter 
of fact, it was no part of the governmental policy, that this 
resourceful land should any longer be reserved for the sole 
use of savages, but to make favorable terms for its relin- 
quishment possible it was necessary that an effort be made 
to maintain inviolate the provisions of the then existing 
treaty; therefore to accomplish the desired end, two things 
had to be done: first, to appoint a commission to treat 
with the Indians for the cession of the Black Hills, or for 
their occupancy for mining ; second, to remove by military 
force, as far as practicable, all trespassers from the Indian 

In pursuance of that policy, on the 18th day of June, 
1875, a commission was appointed by the Secretary of the 
Interior, for the purpose of treating with the Indians ; and 
on the 20th of September of the same year, the combined 
council of commissioners and Indians rendezvoused on the 
White river, about eight miles from Red Cloud Agency. 
The representatives of the government present were as 


follows: Hon. Wm, B. Allison, of Iowa; Brig. -Gen. A. H. 
Terry, U. S. A.; S. D. Hinman, Santee agency; W. H. 
Ashley, Beatrice, Nebraska; Hon. A. Comings, Missonri ; 
G. P. Beauvais, St. Lonis, Missouri; A. G. Lawrence, 
Rhode Island. 

The following tribes of Indians were represented: The 
Ogalallas, Mineconjons, Brules, Uncapapas, Blackfeet, 
Sans Ares, Yanktons, Santees, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes. 

As might have been expected, their deliberations proved 
barren of good results. Owing to the dictation of a few 
degenerate, renegade white men, and the Indians half- 
breeds, their demands were so exorbitant as to render 
negotiations at that time out of the question. From 
$30,000 they raised their price finally to $70,000, in addi- 
tion to which they wanted large herds of cattle, and 
horses, agricultural implements, the most approved guns, 
plenty of ammunition, and palatial residences that would 
compare favorably with those occupied by the wealthv 
pale-faces, with tapestry hangings, upholstered furniture, 
etc., for their chiefs; and it is hard to tell what their limit 
might have been if the conference had continued lono^er. 
The commissioners, of course, refused to consider these 
unreasonable demands, and the council broke up, without 
accomplishing their object. 

It is stated by a gentleman who was present on that 
occasion, that before the pow-wow closed the Indians had 
become insolent and defiant, and when negotiations came 
to an end, some of the chiefs assumed an attitude of 
decided hostility, — hostility indicating that they would 
much like to bear away the scalps of the commissioners as 
trophies, in lieu of the $70,000 and other property de- 
manded for their land. For a time an outbreak seemed 
imminent, which, however, was happily averted by the 
wiser counsels of the few. 

It goes without saying that the failure of the commission 
to treat with the Indians was a source of keen disappoint- 
ment to the hundreds of miners in the Hills, who were 


being so persistently harassed by the soldiers as to render 
any extensive or successful prospecting impracticable; and 
also to many who were standing outside the golden gate 
waiting for the permission and consent of the government 
to enter the forbidden country. Miners became clamorous 
for what they regarded as their rights, which they were 
determined to have at all hazards — if not with, then with- 
out, the consent of the government. 

President Grant was quick to see that some further effort 
must be made to relieve the embarrassment of the situa- 
tion, as the following extract from his message to Congress 
in reference to the matter, will show: — 

"The discovery of gold in the Black Hills, a portion of 
the Sioux reservation, has had the etfect to induce a large 
emigration to that point. Thus far the effort to preserve 
the treaty rights of the Indians of that section has been 
successful, but the next year will witness a large increase 
of such emigration. The negotiations for the relinquish- 
ment of the gold lands having failed, it will be necessary 
for Congress to adopt some measure to relieve the embar- 
rassment growing out of the causes named. 

*' The Secretary of the Interior suggests that the sup- 
plies now appropriated for that people, being no longer 
obligatory under the treaty of 1868, but simply a gratuity, 
may be issued or withheld at his discretion." 

Congress then took the matter under consideration, which 
resulted in the appointment of a second commission by the 
Secretary of the Interior. In August, 1876, this commission 
met ao'ain in council with the representatives of the various 
tribes, under instructions from the Interior Department to 
treat with the Indians on the following specific terms: — 

1st. The Indians to relinquish all right and claim to any 
countrv outside the boundaries of the permanent reserva- 
tion, as established by the treaty of 1868. 

2d. To relinquish all right and claim to so much of that 
said reservation as lies west of the 103d meridian of longi- 


3d. To grant right of way over the permanent reserva- 
tion to that point thereof which lies west of the 103d 
meridian of longitude, for wagon and other roads, from 
convenient and accessible points on the Missouri river, not 
exceeding three in number. 

4th. To receive all such supplies as are provided for by 
said act and said treaty of 1868, at such points and places 
on their said reservation and in the vicinity of the Missouri 
river, as the President may designate. 

5th. To enter into such agreement or arrangement with 
the President of the United States as shall be calculated 
and designed to enable said Indians to become self-sup- 

Negotiations this time proved successful, and on Septem- 
ber 26th, 1876, at Red Cloud Agency, the following eupho- 
nious and suggestive signatures (in Indian chirography, 1 
suppose), were attached to the treaty, namely: Red Cloud, 
American Horse, Young-Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse, Little 
Wound, Red Dog, Afraid-of-the-Bear, Three Bears, Fire 
Hunter, Quick Bear, Red Leaf, Five Eyes, White Bow, 
Good Bull, Lone Horse, Two Lance, Bad Wound, Veasel 
Bear, High Bear, He-Takes-the-Indian-Soldier, High Wolf, 
Big Thunder, and Slow Bull. 

The above treaty was ratified by Congress, and approved 
by the President, on February 28th, 1877. 

The territory ceded by this treaty is embraced between 
the two forks of the Cheyenne river, and is bounded on the 
west by the 104 degree meridian of longitude. 

It will be seen by studying the provisions of this treaty, 
that by its terms the Indians from a material standpoint 
lost much, and gained but little. By the first article they 
lose all rights to the unceded Indian territory in Wyoming 
from which white settlers had then before been altogether 
excluded ; by the second they relinquish all right to the 
Black Hills, and the fertile valley of the Belle Fourche in 
Dakota, without additional material compensation; by the 
third conceding the right of way over the unceded portions 


of their reservation ; by the fourth they receive such sup- 
plies only, as were provided by the treaty of 1868, restricted 
as to the points for receiving them. The only real gain 
to the Indians seems to be embodied in the fifth article of 
the treaty. The Indians, doubtless, realized that the Black 
Hills was destined soon to slip out of their grasp, regard- 
less of their claims, and therefore thought it best to yield 
to the inevitable, and accept whatever was offered them. 

They were assured of a continuance of their regular daily 
rations, and certain annuities in clothing each year, guar- 
anteed by the treaty of 1868, and what more could they 
ask or desire, than that a living be provided for themselves, 
their wives, their children, and all their relations, including 
squaw men, indirectly, thus leaving them free to live their 
wild, careless, unrestrained life, exempt from all the 
burdens and responsibilities of civilized existence ? In view 
of the fact that there are thousands who are obliged to 
earn their bread and butter by the sweat of their brows, 
and that have hard work to keep the wolf from the door, 
they should be satisfied. 


In the early part of July almost simultaneously with the 
appointment of the first commission to treat with the Sioux 
for their occupancy Gen. Crook arrived in the Hills with a 
military force, for the purpose of expelling all persons 
to be found in the Hills without the consent and sanction 
of the government. 

This, it is believed, was undertaken more from consider- 
ations of policy in order to conciliate the Indians, who, it 
was thought, would refuse to negotiate, until trespassers 
were removed from their territory, than with any ex- 
pectation, or even hope, that the effort would prove 

As a matter of fact Gen. Crook was plainly inclined to 
give the miners a wide latitude, and fulfilled his mission, it 
seemed, in a sort of perfunctory way. Major Pollock, 


however, who was in command of the military forces, was 
disposed to execute his orders to the very letter, and is 
credited with a great deal of "pernicious activity," in 
harassing the miners, — forcing them to dodge about 
from point to point to escape arrest and expulsion, and 
sometimes, in extreme cases, in placing them in " durance 
vile," and feeding them on hard tack and water. In 
short, Major Pollock kept the miners in perpetual hot 
water, during his nearly four months stay in the Black 

One day, about the middle of October, a squad of cavalry, 
while scouring the Hills in search of trespassers, surprised 
a small party of some half-dozen miners, who were prospect- 
ing on Castle creek, took them into custody, relieved them 
of their property, and escorted them to military headquar- 
ters at Custer, where they were put in the " guardhouse," 
or some kind of an inclosure prepared for recalcitrant 
miners. After being kept prisoners for several days, they 
were sent to Cheyenne to be tried before the United States 
commissioner, who, concluding, doubtless, that he had no 
valid right to hold them, soon released them, and restored 
their property. 

Among these prisoners were Wade Porter and T. H. 
Mallory, prominent miners in the Hills in 1875, both of 
whom had returned to the Hills, after having voluntarily 
left about the middle of August, in compliance with the 
order of Gen. Crook. This, it appears, was their second 
offense, in consequence of which they were made an exam- 
ple of. Soon after their discharge, nothing daunted, they 
with others again returned to the Hills, late in the fall of 
1875, and remained during the winter following. 

The history of these few is also the history in part of 
hundreds of other prospectors who were driven out at the 
point of the bayonet, only to return at the first favorable 
opportunity by some circuitous route, and re-enter at some 
other point, then scatter out through the gulches of the 
Hills. These offensive and defensive movements were kept 


up during the entire summer of 1875, the solution of the 
problem being no nearer at its close than at the beginning. 


Pursuant to instructions from the government, Gen. 
Crook, on the 10th day of August, issued a call to the 
miners to meet at the stockade near Custer, for the pur- 
pose of entering into preliminary arrangements for leaving 
the Hills, until some terms for opening the country to set- 
tlement could be agreed upon with the Indians, and also, 
incidentally, to make rules and regulations for the protec- 
tion of their claims, pending negotiations. As one of the 
conditions of their voluntary exodus the miners presented a 
petition to the commanding general, asking that six or 
more men of their own choosing be permitted to remain in 
the Hills to guard their claims durina: the absence of their 
owners. Gen. Crook, who was in full sympathy with the 
miners, was disposed to allow them every reasonable op- 
portunity for throwing any kind of a safeguard around the 
property they were so reluctantly leaving, expressed a 
willingness to grant their petition, and further, would allow 
them five days in which to make preparations for leaving, 
provided they would then go out of the Hills, without 
compelling him to resort to force. Believing that their 
own interests would be best served by complying, the 
miners unanimously agreed to the proposed terms. 

On the following morning, August 11th, a town-site 
company was organized, a site of a mile square was laid 
out and platted and named Custer. The blocks were 
divided into lots which were numbered from one up to 
twelve hundred. Tickets bearing these numbers were 
deposited in a box, from which on that day several hundred 
miners drew slips and became the owners of the lots corre- 
sponding in number with those drawn from the receptacle. 
A list of the names of lot owners was given into the custody 
of the men chosen as guardians of the miners' property 
interests, during their temporary absence. The men 



chosen to remain in the Hills were ; Saml. Shankland, Thos. 
Hooper, A. D. Trask, Robt. Kenyon, W. H. Wood, Alex. 
Thompson, Alfred Gay, and H. F. Hull. 

August 15th, 1875, hundreds of miners of their own 
volition turned their backs upon the new found Eldorado. 


Other miners, not within the reach of Gen. Crook's procla- 
mation, upon hearing of the action taken at the stockade, 
also left the Hills a few days later. Let it be understood, 
however, that a considerable number of miners and pros- 
pectors, scattered about at remote points, were never 
reached. A few others also, who were prospecting with the 


Jenny Expedition, among whom were John W. Allen, 
Brown, Carlin, Flarida, and Warren (our " Uncle Newt "), 
were not molested. There were a great many miners yet 
left in the Hills, and others constantly coming to take the 
places of those who had left. 


During the month of August, 1875, one of the head 
chiefs of the Sioux Nation, and twelve braves of his tribe, 
with their ponies, trappings, and dogs, accompanied by an 
Indian agfent, arrived in the Black Hills, the object of the 
visit being to investigate and judge for themselves of the 
true value of the territory to be relinquished, — such 
knowledge to be used to the advantage of their people in 
the approaching council. That their estimate of the value 
of the Black Hills and their resources was great was evi- 
denced by the extravagant consideration demanded therefor 
a month later. 


After the failure of the commission to agree upon any 
terms with the representatives of the Sioux, for the opening 
of the country to settlement, the miners, who had volun- 
tarily left the Hills at the request of Gen. Crook, with 
renewed determination returned and repossessed them- 
selves of their abandoned claims, also with them hundreds 
of others who entered the Hills for the first time. 

The cavalry, meanwhile, were kept exceedingly active 
in their attempts to keep back the invaders, which efforts 
proved fruitless, as, if driven out at one point they were 
sure to re-enter at another. 


The Jenny Exploring Expedition, having finished theim" 
portant work that had been intrusted to it, left the Hills 
with its military escort, about the first of October, 1875. 
On the outward march Col. Dodge reported having met 



California Joe with about forty or fifty men, on the south 
fork of the Cheyenne river, en route for the Hills. 


About the 1st of December, 1875, Capt. Pollock and 
his cavalry force were withdrawn from the Hills, at which 


time all military opposition to immigration ceased. About 
the same time, the Indians doffed their feathers, rubbed 
off their war paint, and suspended active hostilities for the 
winter, to be renewed with increased violence and added 
horrors in the early spring of 1876. All opposition 
bein^y removed, the rush began. Not only miners who 


could now prosecute their search for gold without molesta- 
tion, but men of all professions; business men with their 
stock in trade; groceries, dry goods, restaurant furnish- 
ings, sawmills, saloon fixtures, billiard tables, etc., came 
for a time without let or hindrance. It is estimated that 
at least 11,000 people came to the Black Hills during the 
winter of 1875-6 — from November 15, 1875, to March 1, 
1876 — the great majority of whom came first to Custer. 

CUSTEK IN 1875. 

Custer is beyond question entitled to the proud distinc- 
tion of being the pioneer town of the Black Hills. Being 
the objective point of a large percentage of those coming 
to the Hills during the wiuter of 1875-6, it suddenly grew 
from a small mining camp of a few unfiuished cabins to a 
town of very formidable proportions. 

During the first three months of the year 1876, 1,400 
buildings were erected on the site where, at the close of 
1875, there had stood but one solitary finished building. 

It is somewhat difficult to realize that on the spot where, 
less than two years before, civilized feet had never trod, 
but which meanwhile had become historic ground, a town of 
such magnitude should exist. Fact, however, is sometimes 
stranger than friction. 

During that period, structures of both lumber and logs 
sprung up on every hand as if by magic. The clear 
air of the beautiful park was resonant from morning 
till night, seven days in the week, with sound of ax, ham- 
mer, and saw; the surrounding hillsides swarmed with men, 
busy in felling trees and cutting them into logs to be used 
in the construction of cabins or hauled to the mill to be 
sawed into lumber. Ah, pity 'tis, that the beauty of our 
magnificent forests and groves should have to be so marred ! 
This pioneer town of the Black Hills was built of struc- 
tures both large and small (some of them quite pretentious) 
to be used for various purposes, all kinds of business being 
represented . 


There were hotels, restaurants, dry goods and grocery 
stores; also meat shops, shoe shops, sawmills, and saloons 

Before the great stampede to Deadwood Gulch in the 
spring of 1876 Custer could boast a population variously 
estimated at from 6,000 to 10,000 people, in which numer- 
ous families were included. 


French creek was the " Mecca " towards which the 
hundreds of gold-seekers, who came to the Black Hills 
during the year 1875, first turned their eager faces. It had 
already become historic. It was on the borders of French 
creek, that Ross and McKay, the staunch miners who 
accompanied the Custer Expedition, found their most en- 
couraging prospects. On French creek, also, on Decem- 
ber 23d, just as the winter's sun was sinking behind the 
western Hills the boys of 1874 panned out the first shin- 
ing particles, that gladdened their eyes and realized their 
hopes; and, too, on one of its banks, mid winter's snows 
and storms they built, in an incredibly short space of time, 
the strongest fortification of the kind ever constructed on 
the Western frontier, as well as the cabins within its walls, 
cabins that afforded temporary shelter and protection to 
hundreds of the miners and tenderfeet who subsequently 
came to the Hills. On the banks of French creek was 
washed out, with the aid of a rudely constructed rocker, 
the bright, coarse gold that was conveyed by two plucky 
men, in dead of winter, hundreds of miles over a bleak 
prairie, to Sioux City, to convince the world that gold in 
the Black Hills was not a myth, but a glittering reality. 
This French creek gold then, was the lodestone that at- 
tracted so many to that locality in 1875. I think it may 
be safely stated that nine-tenths of the miners coming into 
the Hills during that year, did their first prospecting on 
French creek, whence they scattered out to explore other 
localities, principally along the streams, having their head- 


waters in the Harney Peak area, viz. : Spring, Rapid, Box 
Elder, and Castle creeks, some going north into the Bear 
Lodge region, where it is claimed numerous large-sized nug- 
orets were found. Along the above named streams placer 
gold was discovered, in perhaps paying quantities, but the 
o-lowing reports that were, during that summer, scattered 
broadcast over the land were doubtless greatly exaggerated, 
or perhaps in some instances the product of an exuberant 
fancy. However, the visible evidences of the real metal in 
the hands of many honest and legitimate miners, were 
sufficient to establish the fact that the Black Hills was des- 
tined to become pre-eminently a gold-bearing country and 
sufficiently encouraging to induce all classes, reckless of 
consequences, to join in the race towards the many gates 
opening into the Hills. 




Among the many who were attracted to the Black Hills 
during the first year of their civilized, or it would better 
be said, half-civilized, existence, and who were intimately 
identified with their early history and subsequent develop- 
ment, are the following, naming them in the order of their 
arrival as to date as far as known : Dr. D. W. Flick, Sam'l 
Shankland, A. D. Trask, Joseph Reynolds, Thos. Hooper, 
Frank Bryant, VVm. Lardner, H. B. Young, Emil Faust, 
V. P. Shenn, and John R. Brennan. 

Besides those above named there are hundreds of others 
who were more or less conspicuous figures in the fleeting 
drama of 1875, some of whom have long since left the 
Hills, others still residents, but of whom the writer could 
gain no direct or even indirect information. However, the 
experiences of these few, whose adventures have come to 
her knowledge, will illustrate those of the majority, per- 
haps, of the pioneers of 1875. 

Dr. Flick and Mr. Shankland were both members of the 
second expedition to embark for the Black Hills in 1875, 
and among the few of a large party, who, after great 
hardships and exposures, and by a good deal of strategy to 
avoid falling into the clutches of the military, which was 
then the great bugbear, finally succeeded in reaching their 
goal, in the early summer of that year. 

Dr. Flick has the distinction of having built the first los: 
cabin erected in the Black Hills in 1875, and Mr. Shank- 
land was one of the seven men left to guard the property 
of the expelled miners during that year, and both have been 
residents of the Black Hills since then. 


In this connection it seems apropos that a brief account 
be here given of the trying experiences of that second 
expedition, which it is believed may prove interesting. 

Early in the spring of 1875, a few days after the Gordon 
party had slipped quietly away from the banks of the Big 
Muddy, a large party of other gold-seeking adventurers, 
numbering 150, were gathered at Sioux City, awaiting 
transportation to the Black Hills. 

They soon entered into contract with the H. N. Witcher 
Transportation Company to carry their goods and equip- 
ments to the Black Hills for eight cents per pound avoir- 
dupois, then with a few saddle horses and a small pack train 
the expedition started on its journey westward, under the 
pilotage of Eaf Witcher, along the Niobrara river, south 
of the Nebraska State line, and thus quite outside of the 
Indian reservation. 

When about 300 miles from Sioux City, near the point 
where Gordon's train had been captured and burned a short 
time before, the expedition was overtaken and joined by 
another party of something more than 100 men, under the 
guidance of Capt. Ely, of which Judge Rhinehart, now of 
Lead City, was a member, making altogether a formidable 

The journey westward proved an uneventful one until 
reaching Snake river, a small tributary of the Niobrara, 
where an event occurred which somewhat dampened the 
ardor of the gold-seekers, and threatened the success and 
even the very existence of the expedition itself. Up to 
that time, although the party had been constantly on the 
alert, through fear of governmental interference, no serious 
apprehension had been felt of an attack by the Indians. 
However, at this point they were made unpleasantly aware 
that Indians in plenty were near at hand. 

One day a half dozen of the party, who had been de- 
tailed to serve as scouts along the line of march, came rush- 
ing headlong and excited into line, bringing the startling 
information that a large band of from 1,500 to 2,000 


Indians had been encountered, who had relieved them of 
their blankets. As a matter of fact there were only 250 
of the savages — quite enough, however, to strike terror to 
the heart of a tenderfoot. Naturally almost the entire party 
was thrown into a state of intense excitement and alarm ; 
some wrung their hands and wept, while the majority at 
once proceeded to put the expedition on a substantial war 
footing. Selecting a favorable position the wagons of the 
train were quickly formed into a kind of corral for the pro- 
tection^of the stock; the tents were pitched outside, their 
guns got in readiness, and thus fortified and equipped they 
awaited in fear and trembling the expected enemy. 

At this juncture Dr. Flick, who did not believe in 
the hostility of the Indians, electrified the expedition by 
announcing- his readiness to so in search of the savage rob- 
bers, and try to recover the lost blankets, provided one of 
the men who had been relieved of their property would go 
with him to locate the Indians. One of the scouts reluc- 
tantly consented to risk his life in an attempt to regain 
possession of his almost indispensable bedding. So the 
two started bravely out in the probable direction of the 
Indians, but had not proceeded far, when, upon reaching 
the summit of a hill, they discovered coming up on the 
opposite side, a legion of Indians making directly towards 
them. Waiting until they had nearly reached the brow 
of the hill, the two men faced about, and re- 
turned to camp, followed closely by the Indians, 
who, when within a short distance of the camp, 
halted, presumably to hold a council of either war or 
peace. After a brief deliberation, twelve of the band, 
headed by their chief. Lame Lance, advanced a safe dis- 
tance directly towards the camp of the pale-faces (and 
'Some of them were abnormally pale at the time), when 
they laid their guns on the ground, in token of their 
peaceable intentions, and went through a sort of pantomime, 
very expressive to those who understood its significance, 
and which, being interpreted, meant *' We good Injuns." 



Upon being beckoned to approach, they came into camp, 
leaving their guns on the ground, where they had laid them. 
The chief, in the manner characteristic of his race, stated 
that the band were merely on a hunting expedition, and in 
proof of the honesty of his statement presented a document 
signed by the Secretary of the Interior permitting them to 
hunt off their reservation. After the usual amount of 
begging — they are born beggars, these red men of the 
plains — the twelve braves returned peaceably to their own 
camp, carrying with them a generous supply of crackers, 
sugar, tobacco, etc. Emboldened by this success, numerous 
others of the band came into the camp of the expedition 
asking for more, and when refused, they became insolent 
and defiant, making themselves exceedingly troublesome, 
by peering into the wagons of the train, as if determined 
to help themselves to whatever they wanted. 

Finally, however, they were driven away and a strong 
guard of armed men placed around the camp and corral. 
As the members of the expedition, for the most part, had 
but small confidence in the good faith of their savage 
neighbors, believing the old saying that there are " no good 
Indians but dead Indians," their camp in plain view 
seemed a constant menace to their security, and thus no 
sleep came to their eyes nor slumber to their eyelids that 
night, with the exception of a few vvho were made of 
sterner stuff. Anxious to put miles of distance between 
the two camps, bright and early the next morning the 
train resumed its march directl}^ westward, but not towards 
the Black Hills. From this time the Black Hills fever 
began rapidly to wane. Apparently the train and mem- 
bers of the expedition, the majority of whom were tender- 
feet, had no intention of directing their course towards the 
Hills, seeming determined to keep outside of the Indian 
reservation. A few who were really anxious to go to the 
Black Hills insisted that the train cross the Nebraska line 
into the reservation and make directly for the Hills, and 
thus, perhaps, avoid collision with the military. It was 


becoming plainly evident that the expedition was doomed 
to go to pieces. At this juncture Dr. Flick, hoping to 
ward off such a disaster, mounted a wagon — I suspect 
there were no stumps thereal)Outs — and made a vigorous 
speech, urging the duty of loyalty on the part of every 
member to the original purpose of the expedition, insisting 
that fear of Indian hostilities was utterly groundless, etc., 
and, as a matter of fact, there was but little danger from 
that quarter, at that early date in 1875, as by the summary 
removal of the pioneers of 1874 from the stockade, a short 
time before, the government had shown a determination to 
respect the treaty rights of the Indians, and they were 

On reaching the mouth of Antelope creek, about 400 
miles from Sioux City and eighteen miles south of the 
Nebraska State line, the climax came. The roll of mem- 
bers being called, out of the entire expedition only four- 
teen men signified a willingness to undertake the rest of the 
journey to the Black Hills. Early the next morning, June 
23d, 1875, during the " wee sma'" hours, a small party with 
the following personnel : Messrs. Dunlap, Shankland, Flick, 
Berry, Wright, Timmish, Burns, Mitchell, Bushnell, At- 
chinson, Webster, Nelson, and Forbes, with eight pack an- 
imals, left the expedition to its fate, and pulled out for their 
original destination, — Valentine Dunlap being constituted 
as guide. At 12 o'clock the next night, after traveling over 
a bluffy country, with short intervals of rest, the little 
party camped on the head of White Earth creek, where 
they partook of a midnight supper of cold beans, bread 
and cofi"ee. At daylight they started out towards the 
White Earth river — camping at 9 o'clock a. m. for break- 
fast. They had hardly commenced their meal, before two 
Indians were discovered on a bluff above their camp, and 
supposing them to be government scouts, they deemed it 
advisable to pack up without finishing their breakfast and 
hurry on towards the Hills, before being overhauled by 
the military. Hungry and tired as they were — having 


been in camp onl}^ about forty minutes, they quickly packed 
ttieir belongings and traveled on with their jaded animals, 
as rapidly as possible over the rough untraveled country 
towards the Black Hills, until they had put about twenty- 
five miles between them and the point where they had seen 
the supposed government scouts, — when, having been 
fortunate in finding a small slough or depression on the 
prairie, affording sufficient water for the purpose, they 
camped, prepared and drank a cup of coffee, then threw 
themselves down on the broad prairie for a few hours' 
sleep. After a short rest, they started out again, traveling 
with all the speed of which their worn-out pack animals 
were capable, reaching Wounded Knee at 11 o'clock at 
night, where they went into camp. Their sole anxiety and 
desire was to escape discovery and arrest by the soldiers, 
who they feared were then warm on their trail. We must 
not lose sight of the fact, that this adventurous little band 
were traveling on foot, and leading their pack mules, which, 
of course, greatly increased the danger of discovery; — for 
whoever heard of a mule that would not, without the slight- 
est compunction, betray even his very best friend? 

On the evening of the third day after leaving 
the expedition the party arrived at the White Earth 
river, completely exhausted from almost constant travel 
and loss of sleep. Crossing that stream the next 
morning and going on in the direction of the 
Hills about twelve miles, they suddenly found them- 
selves confronted on every hand by a bewildering maze of 
seemingly insurmountable bluffs. The very worst portion 
of the Bad Lands, in all their confusing grotesqueness, 
stared them in the face. The guide (Dunlap), after having 
climbed to the summit of one of the high chalky bluffs to 
survey the prospect, declared that it would be impossible 
to scale their precipitous sides with the pack mules, and if 
they attempted to go round them, they would become irre- 
mediably lost amid the intricate labyrinths of the cuts, 
gulches, gorges, etc. *' We must go back on our trail, and 


try to find a more practicable route," said the guide. The 
majority of the party, relying upon the judgment of their 
leader, in whom they reposed the utmost confidence, as he 
claimed to be an experienced frontiersman and to have 
spent several years among the Indians, seemed willing to 
follow his advice. Dr. Flick alone strenuously opposed 
any retrograde movement, preferring to take the chance of 
being lost among the gloomy defiles of the Bad Lands 
rather than invite the extreme probability of running head- 
long right into the arms of a body of United States troop- 
ers. " I, for one, shall no longer follow the leadership of 
a man who would guide us blindly back into the very 
danger we have been most anxious to avoid," said the doc- 
tor. " I propose going to the Black Hills right along this 
line, and those of you who turn back will have good reason 
to regret it," he continued. 

After spending some time in discussing the situation 
pro and con, the doctor, who had resolved to push 
his way in a direct line to the Hills at all hazards, 
began making preparation for his lone journej' amid 
many protests. After putting together his outfit for 
the trip, the problem of transportation came up for 
solution. To carry his blankets and other equipments 
with sufficient provisions for an indefinite time, seemed 
An impossibility. Finally, after a great deal of per- 
suasion, Chas. Webster, who held an undivided half 
interest in a diminutive, half-starved pack pony, with a 
saddle-worn abrasion on his back as large as the crown of a 
man's hat, in which the doctor also held a proprietary 
interest, was induced to risk the undertaking. "There's 
no danger of our getting lost. When we come to a hill we 
can't climb, we'll just go around it. We'll get to the Hills 
all right, and it won't take us many days, either," urged the 
doctor ; " and," he continued, " when we get there, I believe 
we shallfind someone from whom we can get supplies enough 
to keep us from starving, at least." 

After packing the little undivided pony with such arti- 


cles only as might be most needed, thus reducing the load 
to the least possible minimum of weight, the two plucky 
men started, straight as the swallows fly, for the Black 
Hills, uncertain as to what their fate might be. Upon 
woins: a little distance, thev turned and waved their hands 
(I suspect they had no handkerchiefs) in token of fare- 
well to their comrades, whom they expected never to see 

Let us now leave the twelve who are about to double on 
their trail, and follow the two lone adventurers into the 
Hills. After a hard day's march over and around the 
barren precipitous bluff, through the ashes of that desolate 
region, — which has aptly been compared to Hades with 
its fires extinguished — they had the unexpected good for- 
tune of camping that first night on the opposite bank of 
the Cheyenne river. Early the next morning, after a 
fruo-al breakfast of bread alone, thev resumed their march 
Hills-ward, reaching the mouth of a clear, sparkling 
stream, teeming with fish, at 8 p. m. June 27th, where 
they camped for the night. The next morning they pro- 
ceeded with much difficulty up the stream, which the 
doctor named "Tanglefoot" — Squaw creek, a branch of 
Battle creek — because of the almost impenetrable growlh 
of underbrush along its banks. "I thought it the most 
beautiful stream I ever laid eyes upon," related the doctor. 
The sight of the fish was certainly one which might have 
filled the heart of Isaac Walton's least ardent disciple with 
great gladness, — and how much more, then, that of the 
two half-famished pilgrims who had not tasted meat for 
many days. 

Did you find no game on your journey into the Hills, 
Doctor? " I inquired. " Oh, yes, plenty of it; elk, deer, 
grouse, and other game, but I did not dare to shoot for fear 
of discovery," replied the doctor. What a shining example 
of self-denial, to be sure, for a crack sportsman, who could 
at that time, in nine cases out of ten, bring down a bird 
on the wins at the first shot. 


It was with extreme difficulty that our two travelers 
pushed their way up through the heavy uodergrowth, 
along the beautiful "Tanglefoot," with their frail pony, 
handicapyjed as he was with his load of blankets, beans, and 
camp paraphernalia. 

" VV^by," said the doctor, "our poor little pack-horse 
became so weak that we actually had to push him up hill." 
They were at last forced to lighten his load, by throwing 
off their supply of beans of forty pounds avoirdupois, 
which they thought could safely be dispensed with, as they 
had not indulged in the luxury of beans since leaving the 
Cheyenne river, the hazard involved in cooking them being 
considered too great ; besides, everything was wet and 
sodden, as it rained continuosly during their entire trip. 

Any gold hunters, prospecting along Tanglefoot Gulch, 
during the few succeeding weeks, mioht have found the 
flotsam and jetsam of a small cargo of Black Hills " grub," 
if not gold, to reward them for their search. Going north 
after leaving Tanglefoot, they soon found themselves at 
or near the base of Harney's Peak, and on the fifth day 
after leaving their companions in the Bad Lands, they 
climbed the dizzy heights to the summit of one of the 
jagged peaks of that ridge of the Harney Peak range 
called the " Needles," and looked down and abroad upon 
the glorious panorama of wooded hill, green valley, and 
smiling glade — a scene more beautiful, perchance, than 
had ever before dawned upon their visions. No sign, how- 
ever, of human life and activity was visible in all the wide 
expanse. Can we be the only human beings in the Black 
Hills? was the mental query that occurred to them. Not 
a very cheering possibility truly to the two solitary men 
amid the fastnesses without supplies. 

Descending from their lofty outlook into the valley below 
they traveled on and soon dropped into the valley of a little 
bubbling stream (Willow creek) dancing gaily southward 
into French creek. Cautiously descending the stream, 
and watching closely for some trace of human occupancy, — 


either soldiers, miners, or Indians, they were soon rewarded 
by discovering, clearly silhouetted against the southern 
sky, what appeared to be the figure of a man, moving along 
the crest of a distant hill, in advance of them. Keeping 
the object ever in view, they hurried on at a rapid pace, 
until within hailing distance, when the doctor, making a 
kind of trumpet of both hands, called out through it in his 
most sonorous and penetrating tones: " Hullo there, white 
man or Indian?" 

"Indian," came back in the unmistakable but welcome 
accents of a white man. 

In double quick, the two tired and hungry men climbed 
the hill and were at his side. 

" My name is Flick," said the doctor, at the same time 
extending his hand, " and my companion's name is Web- 
ster," he added, introducing his fellow-lraveler. 

"My name is Van Horn, and there is my camp," re- 
turned the man pointing to a group of tents, and a number 
of canvas-covered wagons, just at the foot of the hill. 

" Well," ventured the doctor, " we are tired and raven- 
ously hungry, and nearly barefoot, as you can see, and 
would like some breakfast. We have eaten nothing for 
the past five days but bread straight, — and bread made of 
flour and water alone, at that." 

They were at once conducted to the camp below, and 
treated with the miner's proverbial hospitality, to a good 
square rdiner's meal, the first in many days. Thus, after 
a hard journey over hills, across yawning ravines, through 
valley and glade, sleeping on the ground at night without 
tents to protect them from the rain that had drizzled down 
almost unceasingly both day and night, and living on 
bread alone, our two heroic pioneers had at length found 
a temporary haven of rest. 

After spending a few days, enjo3nng the prodigal hospi- 
tality of Van Horn's camp, meanwhile prospecting a little 
on their own account, they made their way to the military 
headquarters of Col. Dodge's command, then stationed at 


the stockade near Custer. Here the doctor found and in- 
troduced himself to Capt. G. Russell of the Third United 
States Cavalry, and a brother mason, to whom he 
made known their most urgent needs. It Avill be remem- 
bered that they had been forced to throw overboard their 
cargo of supplies, on the Tanglefoot, and, in consequence, 
were almost, if not entirely, out of the staple articles of 

After an interchange of fraternal grips, Captain Russell 
asked, " Now, Doctor, what can I do for you? " 

" Well, first I need a pair of boots, as you can plainly 
see," answered the doctor, at the same time, holding up 
for the captain's inspection what, by a liberal stretch of 
the imagination, might once have been considered a very 
respectable boot, but which, by virtue of mile after mile 
of travel on foot, through bush and bracken, and over 
jagged rocks, had well-nigh lost all resemblance to the 
"thing of beauty" and of pride, it once had been. 
" Number nine will do." " Next, I want about twenty- 
five pounds of bacon and a sack of flour," and — "Oh, 
yes, I would like a can of baking powder and a modicum 
of salt," concluded the doctor. 

The articles were promptly ordered brought from the 
commissary stores, and delivered without price or condi- 

Some days after. Doctor Flick, no longer afraid to shoot, 
captured an immense mountain grizzly, whose shaggy 
cuticle he presented to Capt. Russell, with his compli- 
ments, — not Bruin's compliments but the doctor's. 

We will now go back and ascertain the fate of Dunlap 
and his trusty followers. As soon as the two deserters 
from their ranks had disappeared behind an intervening 
bluff in the Bad Lands, they, with some misgivings doubt- 
less, as to the consequences, commenced their backward 
march towards the White Earth river, upon reaching 
which they turned up the stream in search of "Sawyer's 
trail," which the guide assured them was not far distant. 


The party had not proceeded more than a half mile when a 
bunch of horses was seen grazing on the river bottoms not 
more than a mile away. Bringing them into nearer view 
by the aid of a magnifying glass, they were discovered to 
be United States cavalry horses. Instantly realizing their 
peril, they quickly led their horses behind a convenient 
bluff, where a hurried consultation was held as to the best 
plan of escape from the soldiers, whose mission they felt 
convinced was expressly to capture them. " Now we are 
in for it," said the guide in a low voice. They really 
were in pretty close quarters, as the general topography of 
the country made it impossible for them to fall back or 
advance any distance from their position behind the bluff 
without coming directly into view. Hoping to discover 
some way out of their dilemma, the guide crept stealthily 
up to the edge of the bluff on his hands and feet, when he 
saw the troopers already mounted and about to march out 
on their trail of the day before, which they had just left in 
search of " Sawyer's trail." 

It seemed certain that in half an hour the soldiers would 
trace them to their hiding-place, in view of which certainty 
they became intensely excited. " Some of us will prob- 
ably be captured, in any event, and all of us if we remain 
together," said the guide. " We had better separate, take 
different directions, and hide ourselves as best we can until 
dark, when possibly some of us, under cover of the night, 
may effect our escape," he urged. Acting upon this 
advice, without loss of time the members of the " hemmed 
in " little party, with their respective belongings, scattered 
out, panic-stricken, in ever}"" direction — every man for 

Shankland, Berry, Wright, and Timmish started off in 
the direction of the river, which they hoped to reach in 
time to hide themselves and animals among the timber and 
brush along its banks. Traveling on with their utmost 
speed through the friendly protection of the brush, not 
daring to take time to look back, thinking the soldiers 


might be right upon them, they fortunately soon found a 
hiding-place among the rocks of a deep canyon making out 
from the river, and admirably fitted by nature for such a 
purpose, where they remained until night safe from imme- 
diate capture at least. Before entering their " rocky 
retreat " they were joined by Porter and Forbes, who had 
followed almost directly upon their heels in their precipi- 
tous flight. When darkness at last spread over them its 
protecting wings they breathed more freely, and ventured 
out from their confined quarters among the rocks, in search 
of a more roomy spot, where they could spread their blank- 
ets for a much-needed rest and sleep, and thus forget for a 
time their dangerous environments. Thinking themselves 
quite safe from discovery, as their feet had left no prints 
on the hard rock leading to their position in the canyon, 
they decided to remain for a few days for recuperation, 
during which time they subsisted entirely upon uncooked 
food, not deeming it safe to build fires. 

Becoming tired of the general monotony ot life in the 
canyon, on the second morning, ere the dawn of day, they 
led their horses out of their retreat and iigain took up their 
line of march towards the Black Hills, haunted by an ever- 
present fear of arrest by the military. The details of the 
march into the Hills need not be narrated at length. A 
brief outline, marked by a few of the principal incidents 
of the journey, being deemed sufficient. 

The party soon came to an inviting little grove convenient 
to water, where they camped and remained for two days and 
three nights, taking frequent observations, meanwhile, from 
an adjacent hill, looking for government scouts. Upon 
one occasion they were rewarded by seeing two mounted 
men about a half-mile distant, which again threw them into 
a panic ; fortunately, however, they were not discovered. 
" We talked in whispers, and took every precaution against 
discovery, and just waited for fate to decide our destiny," 
related my informant. 

On the third day they resumed their march, and after 



traveling about twelve miles over a level prairie country, 
they came to the ever-dreaded Mauvaises Terres, where in 
one of the deep gorges they camped for the night, feeling, 
for once, secure from arrest — as they thought neither man 
nor beast could often be tempted to enter such a desolate 
region. The next day they made their way through a long 
winding canyon, too narrow in places, to admit of pas- 
sage, often being compelled to widen the same by the use 
of picks, and sometimes being obliged to unpack and 
carry their freight on their backs through the more 
difficult places, and finally, after ten mortal hours of toil- 
ing through its devious windings they emerged into a flat 
country where, finding a little water of very inferior quality, 
the}^ camped for the night. 

The next day they leached and crossed the Cheyenne 
river, then traveling on with light hearts, but very tired 
feet, keeping all the time a sharp lookout for scouts, 
they reached what they called Trout creek, near the foot- 
hills, July 4th, where they spent the night without shelter 
of any kind from the furious rain-storm which occurred dur- 
ing the night. They started from camp the next morning, 
drenched to the skin, but joyous in the bright anticipation 
that, before the setting of the sun, they would besafely in the 
Black Hills, and l)eyond all danger of pursuit from the rear. 
However, in consequence of a heavy storm, which pre- 
vailed throughout the day, they were compelled to take 
refuge in a deep gorge in the foot-hills near which they 
found their first gold, panning out as high as ten cents to 
the pan. Notwithstanding these encouraging prospects, 
owing to a scarcity of water and danger of capture, they 
decided not to drive their stakes at that point, but proceed 
further into the mountains. 

The following day, July 6th, after traveling about fifteen 
or twenty miles, they found themselves among the moun- 
tain ranges. Apprehending now but little danger of cap- 
ture, they deemed it safe to halt for a couple of days and 
prospect a little as they went. Accordingly on July 7th, 


Shankhmd, Berr3',iind Porter, went about six miles further 
into the mountains, looking for gold, returning to catnp 
at nicrht, with nothins; but a mountain groiiso to reward 
them for their day's labor — their first game in the Hills, 
which, being dressed, was impaled on the end of u pointed 
stick, cooked before a pitch pine fire, and eaten without 
salt for supper. The next day, July 5th, the same party 
mounted their horses and rode back to the gulch where the 
gold had been discovered, for the purpose of ascertaining 
whether water could be found which might be conducted 
by means of a ditch to the point prospected, in which they 
were wholly unsuccessful. 

The trip, however, proved not altogether without com- 
pensation, ns they had the satisfaction of killing a huge 
mountain grizzly, whose choice cuts furnished their camp 
with the luxury of bear's meat for a few days. 

On July 9th, after partaking of a breakfast of " bear on 
slapjack," they moved on some eight or ten miles and 
halted at the junction of two small streams, where the day 
was spent in supplying their sadly depleted larders with the 
fish in which the stream abounded. Following up the 
southwestern branch of the stream, some nine miles over a 
rough, unbroken country, they came upon the deserted 
camp of their former guide (Dunlap), which seemed to 
have been vacated not more than three hours before. The 
names Valentine Dunlap and Oaks Texas were discovered 
written in pencil on a birch tree near the camp. 

Following up Dunlap's trail until all trace of it was lost, 
then keeping on in a southerly direction for several miles, 
they again came into the trail of their quandom guide, 
whom they were exceedingly anxious to overtake, that they 
might learn something of the fate of the other members of 
the party. With this object in view, they hurried along 
on the fresh trail of their guide over several miles of 
heavily wooded country into an extensive park, with a 
stream of water running through its center (Custer's Park). 
Ever watchful were they for some evidence of the presence 


of the military, who, if in the country, thej suspected 
might be encamped not many miles from the base 
of Harney's Peak. For the purpose of reconnoitering 
the vicinity, Shankland and Porter mounted their 
horses and rode out to an elevated point, about 
two miles from camp, from where they discovered a 
large number of horses and mules and four men herdino^ 
them. " We could hear the men chopping wood in their 
camp and also hear the dogs barking. We did not 
know what party it was, but thought it might be 
Jenny's military escort. Our plan was to steal quietly 
into the vicinity of the camp, and wait for an op- 
portunity to interview some one happening to be out 
alone," related my informant, Mr. Shankland. Early the 
following morning, before the sun had tipped the lofty 
peaks, Shankland and Berry started out on foot to locate 
the military camp which they felt assured was not far 
away, soon coming to a point where the whole camp stood 
out in bold relief, before they were aware of its immediate 
vicinity. Falling back out of sight, they counseled to- 
gether as to the best method of procedure, finally agreeing 
to climb up behind a large cliff of rocks, that loomed up 
not more than two hundred yards from the center of the 
camp, from where much that was said could be distinctly 
heard and understood, " We might have been taken for a 
couple of representatives of the Lo family, contemplating 
a raid upon the camp," said Mr. Shankland. 

We will now leave the vigilant men behind the cliffs 
overlooking the camp of Col. Dodge's command on 
French creek, and go back along the line to the mouth of 
Antelope creek, where, nearly three weeks since, we left 


After the small party of fourteen men left the expedition 
for the Black Hills on the morning of Juue 23d, the train 
at once pulled out westward until reaching what is called 
the " Sidney Cut-off," where another separation took 



place. From this point some of tlie party turned their 
faces towards the Black Hills, while the majority took up 
their line of march to Sidney, Nebraska, whence they 
scattered where they listed. 

Among those who went towards the Hills from the 
Sidney Cut-off was Judge Rinehart, now of Lead City. 
No doubt many of the expeditions embarking for the Black 
Hills in 1875 may have had an equally trying if not 
altogether similar experience. 




The following account of how Joe Reynolds and his two 
companions bribed the government employees at old Fort 
Laramie to smuggle them across the swollen Platte on the 
government ferry boat, will illustrate some of the cunningly 
devised artifices practiced by gold-seeking adventurers to 
elude the watchfulness of Uncle Sam's soldiers at that 
frontier post in 1875, and will also show what imperfect 
knowledge some of them had of the geography of the Black 

It was early in May, 1875, very soon after the reuioval 
of the Collins and Russell party from the stockade that 
Joseph Reynolds, Jas. Corneille, and Billy Jacobs, of 
Georgetown, Colorado, moved by an inspiration, suddenly 
made up their minds to go to the Black Hills. It did not 
take them long to put themselves in light marching order, 
for within forty-eight hours after their hasty decision they 
were equipped with good saddle horses, pack animals, guns, 
and provisions for sixty days, and on their way to the New 
Eldorado. Included in their outfit was a bottle of '* anti- 
dote " for sudden colds, snake bites, and kindred maladies, 
which was to be used solely for medicinal purposes. 

On reaching Fort Laramie, they found the Platte river 
swollen away out of its banks, and more than two hundred 
other Black Hill adventurers encamped nearby, waiting for 
the river to get down to low water-mark, so that they 
might steal across undercover of night, away from the mili- 
tary reservation into the Sioux territory. Finding further 
progress barred for the time being, the trio decided after 
studying the situation, to leave their stock of supplies at 


the fort in charge of one of their number, while the other 
two made a flying trip to the Hills, with rations for ten 
days, to examine their resources, the result of which was to 
determine their future course. But how to get across the 
turbulent river was 3'et an unsolved problem. 

In the belief that every man has his price, the}' decided 
finally to offer a bribe to the wagonmaster of a govern- 
ment train, with Avhom they had fallen in on their way 
from Cheyenne to Fort Laramie, who was about to board 
the ferry with a load of Indian supplies for Red Cloud 
Agency, to take them across the river as a part of his outfit. 
So Joe, as spokesman of the party, approached the wagon- 
master, and after a short preliminary talk leading up to 
the delicate proposition he purposed making, laid bare his 
plans. He told him he would give him ten round dollars 
to slip his little party across the river with his load of 
Indian freight, and explained how it could be done without 

As the plan outlined by Joe seemed both feasible and 
safe, the wagon-master, after a little apparent hesitancy, 
said: "All right, I'll do it; make your arrangements 
and we'll drive onto the boat." 

Following closely along the lines dictated by Joe, they 
were soon taken across the river without exciting any sus- 
picion. While in transit, Corneile, the custodian of the 
flask, bethought him that, inasmuch as they would want to 
recross the ferry in the near future, it would be the part of 
wisdom to cultivate the friendship of the ferryman. So, 
pulling the flask from his pocket, and holding it tempt- 
ingly towards him, said, blandly, " Won't you take some- 
thing?" "Well, yes, I don't care if I do," responded 
the ferryman with alacrity, — and he did. 

After traveling about twenty miles with the train, they 
diverged to the north — the trainmaster having told them 
that by keeping due north he thought they would strike 
French creek. So north they went, striking the Hills 
somewhere on their western limits on May 30th, 1875. 



Continuing in the same direction, they made a complete 
"arc of a circle" around the western and northern limits 
of the Hills, climl)inor to the summit of each prominent 
point to take their bearings, and, if possible, locate French 

It is needless to delay the narrative, by giving the details 
of their erratic wanderings. Let it suffice to state that they 
climbed successively, Inyan Kara, Devil's Tower, Bear 
Lodge Peak — where, while waiting for a dense fog to clear 
away, they did some prospecting with fairly encouraging re- 
sults — then through Spearfish valley and south to Custer's 
Peak, and finally, on the 15th day of June, they climbed 
to the bald summit of Harne^^'s Peak, where for the first 
time they located French creek which they reached on the 
same day in a sorry condition. 

They had been on the march for twenty days, with- 
out having seen a white man, ten of which they had 
subsisted solely on venison straight, without salt. The 
next day, while prospecting in a shallow tunnel which had 
been dug by the stockade hoys, they heard the sound of 
human voices, which they feared might belong to Indians; 
but soon distinguishing the accents of their own beloved 
vernacular, they hastily emerged from the tunnel to meet 
and greet their white brothers, one of whom proved to be 
A. D. Trask, now of Pactola, Pennington County. No 
sooner was the hearty interchange of greetings over than 
Reynolds asked Trask how much " grub " he had in his 
party. " Grub ! " answered Trask, " well, we have a small 
jar of salt that I found cached under one of the cabins in 
the stockade which has been our main diet for the past 
twenty-four hours." Now, we all know that salt as a con- 
diment is all right, but very unsatisfactory as a steady 
diet. " Have you more supplies than you really need? " 
inquired Trask of Reynolds. " More than we really 
need ! Why, man alive, we haven't had a morsel to eat for 
ten days but venison, and venison without salt at that," an- 
swered Reynolds. " We have plenty of that and to spare," 


added Reynolds, cheerfully ; " and as you have the salt, we 
shall fare pretty well." By the way, that little jar of salt 
is the only single article cached by the stockade party that 
has come to the writer's knowledge. 

Within the next two days quite a number put in an ap- 
pearance at the stockade, when a miners' meeting was 
called, for the purpose of organizing a mining district on 
French creek. The meeting, at which sixteen men were 
present, was held in the open, a short distance above 
where Custer City now stands. Officers were chosen, a 
district organized, rules and regulations to govern the same 
were passed and a recorder duly elected, but, as the min- 
utes of the meeting have been lost, it is impossible to give 
details of its proceedings. It is related, however, that an 
exceedingly warm discussion was had, relative to the rule 
establishing the size of placer claims, the minority insisting 
upon twenty acres, the majority favoring 300 feet in length 
along the gulch, from rim to rim, which was the rule estab- 
lished. This is believed to be the first mining district ever 
organized in the Black Hills, and A. D. Trask, of Pactola, 
the first recorder chosen. 

The morning after the meeting, the two men, having be- 
come convinced that the Black Hills was a pretty good 
country, and also that a more varied diet would prove con- 
ducive to health, mounted their horses and hied them away 
to their base of supplies at Fort Laramie. On their appear- 
ance at the ferry landing, the ferryman, recognizing them, 
seemed much surprised at the puzzling situation, which 
they soon made clear by confessing that they had been to 
the Black Hills, and that their joining the train was merely a 
bit of strategy. They then and there entered into a conspir- 
acy with the ferryman, by which he was to take them across 
the river in three days for a consideration of ten dollars. 
According to the plan they were to come to the landing at 
11 o'clock p. m. of the third day and scratch on the can- 
vas at the back of his tent, when he was to slip quietly out 
and shove them with their outfits across. The Platte river 


was not yet fordable and the 200 or more gold-hunters were 
still awaiting near its banks. 

As it ueared the eleventh watch of the night of the third 
day, Reynolds, Corneile, and Jacobs, led their horses away 
from camp and made a circuit around the outer limits of 
the post, to avoid the sentinels who were placed at intervals 
to guard the garrison against external savage attack, or in- 
ternal conspiracy. Stealthily and noiselessly they were 
picking their way towards the ferry landing without the 
clatter of a hoof, — the horses seeming to appreciate the 
necessity for caution, when like a thunderbolt from a 
cloudless sky, they were startled nearly out of their boots, 
by the [)rolonged cry of " Eleven o'clock and all is well,''' 
but a few yards away from them. They came to a dead halt, 
paralyzed, scarcely daring to breathe. The darkness fav- 
ored them, for the watchman passed around on his beat, so 
near that with an outstretched arm they could have almost 
touched him, but he did not discover them. As soon as the 
sound of his footsteps died away they hurried to the land- 
ing, led their horses over the approach, whose shifting sands 
gave back no sound, onto the ferry. 

The signal was given but not a word was spoken. The 
ferryman came quietly out, unlocked the ferry, shoved 
them across and received his price. 

They went again north to Bear Lodge Peak, where they 
prospected for a short time, thence to French creek, where 
they remained prospecting for both placer and quartz until 
ordered out by Gen. Crook, in August of that year. Mr. 
Reynolds, with commendable enterprise, resolved not to 
leave the Hills, without taking with him something upon 
which to base an estimate of their mineral richness, so 
during the five days grace allowed the miners in which to 
make necessary arrangements to leave the Hills, he had 
2,250 pounds of quartz mined from a ledge, situated about 
three and one-half miles above Custer City, then employed 
the Case Brothers, who had a wagon and team, to transport 
the same to Cheyenne, paying them therefor two cents per 


pound, or $45 for the load. On reaching Cheyenne he 
sampled the ore and sent it to Georgetown, Colorado, to be 
tested. According to certificates of assay, the highest 
fjrade samples yielded seventeen dollars of gold per ton of 
quartz. That was the first ton of quartz of any kind, 
transported out of the Black Hills for treatment. 

Robert Florman, who had prior to his coming lo the 
Black Hills spent many years of his active life in a number 
of the most prominent mining regions of the United States, 
notably Colorado, Montana and New Mexico, in which he 
succeeded by shrewdness and unflagging energy in realiz- 
ing several handsome fortunes, only to be lost in other less 
fortunate mining speculations, made his advent on French 
creek on July 14th, 1875. After a short stay on that 
stream, he went north to S[>ring creek, near the present 
site of Hill City, where he prospected quite extensively for 
placer gold, and also for gold in quartz during the summer 
of 1875, leaving the Hills late in the fall of that year. 
Returning to the northern Hills with his family in the early 
spring of 1876, he was fortunate in securing by purchase, 
a claim on the famous " Deadwood Gulch," where he 
remained as long as the working of his claim proved 

Mr. Florman afterwards became engaged in several other 
mining enterprises throughout the Hills, becoming in 1885 
or 1886 a resident of Rapid City, to which he has unre- 
servedly pinned his faith to the present time. He erected 
a number of the finest, most substantial, as well as the 
most expensive business blocks in Rapid City, and in doing 
this he staked his all upon the '' hazard of a die," and lost. 
Mr. Florman by his thorough and extended knowledge of 
mines and mining and sagacity will doubtless yet wrest a 
fortune from the wonderful mineral resources of our coun- 
try. What Mr. Florman does not know about ores of 
various kinds is hardly worth knowing. 


As apropos to the above, I will here rehite a brief story, 
in which is interwoven a sad episode, of the journey of Mr. 
and Mrs. Florman with their three little children from 
Cheyenne to the Black Hills in the spring of 1876, which 
forcibly illustrates the pluck, the nerve, the real heroism 
of one of the women pioneers of the Black Hills. As all 
early pioneers traveling over that route have good reason 
to remember, every step of the journey after leaving the 
protection of Fort Laramie was then menaced by the most 
deadly peril, yet in the face of this, almost alone most of 
the way, every breeze wafting back to them reports of the 
terrible Indian atrocities being perpetrated farther on 
towards the Hills, they with their helpless little children 
pushed resolutely onward to their destination. 

Women of less courage and determination could scarcely 
have borne the intense mental and physical strain of such a 
journey under like circumstances. 

Mr. Florman and family, with six men, arrived at the 
stage station, on the Cheyenne river, on or about April 
24th, 1876, where they found encamped a party of about 
forty emigrants, including a number of women, in the most 
intense excitement and alarm. Here they also found ample 
evidence that the red demons had been putting in their 
murderous work. The four horses belonging to the 
Cheyenne and Custer Stage Company had just arrived at 
the station, brinsing in the four men of Col. Brown's 
party, who had been attacked and dangerously wounded, — 
one fatally, — only a few miles up Red Canyon. 

On that same evening, the report of the massacre of the 
Metz party was brought into the station, which, of course, 
greatly increased the alarm of the already panic-stricken 
emigrants. Many, — especially those with families, urged 
that the party return at once to Fort Laramie, nearly 200 
miles aw^ay. Mr. Florman, however, opposed such a 
movement, insisting that the danger of returning to the 
post would be greater than that of the short march on to 


Custer, and proposed organizing a party for tlieir mutual 
safety, that would be bound to stand by each other tlirough 
evil as well as good report, until reaching Custer City. 
An organization, consisting of thirty-nine men, was soon 
ertected, the members of which were Jules Coffee of Lara- 
mie, with fifteen cowboys who had just arrived at the 
station; the incoming stage with its ten male passengers ; 
one Henry Feuerstein, with six men, and Mr. Florman's 
party of eleven, which included Mrs. Florman and their 
three children. This party started at 7 o'clock on the fol- 
lowing morning, with their armor buckled on for Cus- 
ter, — keeping their guns well in hand and their eyes on 
the alert for an ambushed foe. All along the trail through 
the Red Canyon, at intervals, they discovered shocking evi- 
dences of bloody deeds. They first came to the point 
where Brown's party had been attacked, the scene indicat- 
ing that there had been a fierce conflict. 

The stage was found lying in a ravine, riddled with bul- 
lets, and besmeared with the blood of the victims; their 
belongings, torn and hacked to pieces, lay scattered along 
and about the trail. Traveling about two miles further up 
the Canyon, they came upon the body of Mrs. Metz, — shot 
through the heart — who seemed to have been the last one of 
the party killed, as she had, apparently, run away from 
the scene of the first attack. Half a mile further on was 
found the body of the driver, and about a half mile still 
further on lay Mr. Metz, close to the wagon — shot through 
the head, and several times through the body. The col- 
ored woman was not found by the Florman party. 

What was to be done? The bodies could not longer be 
left there as food for the vultures and coyotes. 

Here Mrs. Florman exhibited the nerve, the spirit of 
self-sacrifice, that stamps her as a true heroine. Despite 
the probability that the deadly savages might be hiding in 
ambush, not far away; despite the fact that the poor, 
mutilated bodies had lain for many hours uncared for, 


Mrs. Floiman, with the courage of the Spartan women of 
old, [)roceedecl at once to aid in preparing the dead — as 
far as the limitations would })ermit, for decent Christian 
burial. With gentle, tender hands, she helped to straighten 
out and compose the distorted members of the murdered 
woman ; arrayed the body in the best garments that could 
be found among the scattered contents of the rifled trunks ; 
then, after washing the face and brushins^ back the dishev- 
eled hair with caressing touch, her noble, self-imposed task 
was finished. 

Brave woman ! May thy crown be set with precious 
jewels, whose brilliancy time can never mar ! 

The remains were then placed in a wagon, that had been 
brought for the purpose, and sent back, under escort, to 
the Cheyenne stage station for temporary burial. 

This grewsome duty being performed, the stage passen- 
gers, apparently forgetting their compact, mounted the 
stage and started off at a ra»)id pace towards Custer, but 
were speedily brought to a dead halt by the loud peremp- 
tory cry of, "Halt! or you are dead men." Looking 
back they saw Mr. Florman, with gun in hand, [)ointed 
directly at them, and believing fiom the dangerous gleam 
in his e^-e that he meant business, they prudently halted. 
One of the passengers said afterwards: " I tell you, boys, 
Mr. Florman looked as though he really meant to shoot." 
They excused their course by saying that they considered 
the real danger of the journey past. Mr. Florman, how- 
ever, thought otherwise, — as any one familiar with the 
habits of the Indians would have thought. He knew that 
the party were liable, at any moment, to be pounced upon, 
from behind some projecting headland or point of rocks, 
by the skulking savtiges. On that same evening they 
arrived at Pleasant Valley, where they found a large freight 
outfit, which give them a feeling of comparative security 
for the night. The next morning they pulled out for Cus- 
ter, where they arrived at noon, safely within the lines of 
the city guards — " the Custer minute men." 


John W. Allen, another representative miner, came to the 
Black Hills in the early part of July, 1875. After prospect- 
inor at different points on French and Spring creeks — work- 
ing for a time, it is stated, with good results on what is 
known as '* Stand Off Bar," on the last named stream, he 
joined the Jenny Exploring Expedition, with which he 
remained during its stay in the Hills, greatly aiding it, by 
bis extensive mining knowledge, in ascertaining their 
mineral resources. He was a member of the board of 
trustees of the first township organization of Custer ; 
also in the early spring of 1876 aided in the town- 
ship organization of Rapid City, in which he had the 
most unbounded faith. So great was his confidence in the 
future of the " Gate City," the "Denver " of the Black 
Hills, that he induced his less sanguine brother, Jas. W. 
Allen, to leave a lucrative business in Cheyenne and come 
and get possession of as many town lots in the future 
Denver as was possible. Jas. W. Allen, however, took but 
little stock in the prospective Denver, declaring, much to the 
disgust of his far-sighted brother, that he would not accept 
as a gift the whole town-site proposition. 

John W. Allen later went to Deadwood, where in com- 
pany with other parties, he engaged in extensive placer min- 
ing. He, jointly with Col. Daniel Thompson, became the 
owner of 42,000 feet of the deepest gravel beds on that 
gulch, to operate which they constructed several hundred 
feet of bed-rock flume with all the necessary protective 
appliances against floods. Nothwithstanding those expen- 
sive appliances, however, the terribly destructive flood of 
1883 either washed away or buried under heaps of debris 
their almost entire work. LUer Mr. Alien went to the 
Alaskan gold fields, and somewhere among the icy glaciers 
he to-day lies buried. 

A familiar figure to the early settlers of the Hills, espe- 
cially of Custer, was Tom Hooper. He was one of the 



seven men who were permitted to remain in the Black Hills 
when the hundreds of miners were ordered out by Gen. 
Crook in August, 1875. Aided by a detachment of United 
States soldiers, Mr. Hooper made the first survey of the 
Custer town-site, in August of that year, using a small 
pocket compass and a couple of picket ropes for the pur- 
pose, making the plat of the site on a twelve-inch square 
piece of birch bark stripped from a tree on French creek, 
which plat has unfortunately been lost. In March, 1876, 
when the town was organized into a city, the people of the 
Black Hills, in convention assembled, established a 
Black Hills Superior Court, of which Tom Hooper was 
elected judge — a court whose jurisdiction was to be co-ex- 
tensive with the entire Black Hills. In short Tom Hooper 
was closely identified with all the early movements, look- 
ing to the welfare and advancement of the pioneer town of 
the Bhick Hills, in which he was the first to practice the 
profession of law. He is now a prominent attorney at law 
in Sundance, Wj'oming. 




It appears from trustworthy information, that the first 
exploration of that portion of the northern Hills, border- 
ing on Whitewood creek, was made by Frank Bryant and 
party in August, 1875. It is quite generally known that 
the government expedition, under Professor Jenny, al- 
though penetrating and prospecting the country as far to 
the northward as Bear Butte creek and other portions of 
the Hills to the northwest, made no explorations along 
Deadwood and Whitewood creeks, and the rich placer 
deposits, later found in the gulches of those streams, were 
to that expedition an entirely unknown quantity. 

It seems beyond reasonable doubt, therefore, that Bryant 
and his little party of gold hunters, uncovered with pick 
and shovel, and washed out the first gold taken from White- 
wood and lower Deadwood gulches. 

Perhaps there are not many of our early pioneers who 
have had a more checkered experience, in all that goes to 
make up a miner's life with its vicissitudes, than Frank 
Bryant, and an account of some of his early adventures 
may prove of interest to those who care for pioneer 

Frank Bryant, with a party of six others, viz. : John 
Pearson, Thos. Moon, Richard Lowe, James Peierman, 
Samuel Blodgett, and George Hauser, seven in all, arrived in 
the Hills, from some Missouri river point, in August, 1875, 
making their first camp at Spring Valley. On their way 
to the northern Hills, — their objective point, the party 
did its first prospecting on a small tributary of Elk creek, 
with unpromising results. 

Frank Bryant was the possessor of a small map, fur- 


nished him before startiog by Tom Liibarge, Charley D& 
Gray and Lephiere Narcouter, old employees of the Amer- 
ican Fur Company, which served the party as a guide to 
their objective point. 

The second place prospected by the Bryant party was at 
the mouth of Spruce gidch, on what was called on their 
map the Chaw-Skaw-Skaw-Walkapalla (afterwards named 
Whitewood creek), a beautiful stream of clear water, run- 
ning then about 200 miners' inches, where was found good 
prospect on the surface gravel. Fortunately, having a 
saw in their outfit, they whipped out enough luml)er to 
construct eight boxes, twelve feet long each, and com- 
menced sluicing, but not being wholly satisfied with the 
results of the experiment, they soon began to look around 
for richer "diggings." This party built at the mouth of 
Spruce gulch, the first cabin in the northern Hills. 

One of the part}', Sam Blodgett, who had, while hunt- 
ing, come upon a gulch, which to him looked favorable, 
after reporting the same to the other members of the party, 
returned to the gulch with John Pearson, to see what could 
be found, and the first dirt panned by them was taken from 
the point of the bar, on which now stands the Deadwood 
High School building. Other bars, for a distance of 300 
or 400 yards up the creek, were also prospected, but as 
nothing encouraging was found, no locations were made. 
The places last prospected were on what was later called 
" Deadwood Gulch." This, as far as known, was the first 
prospecting done on Deadwood gulch. 

About the middle of September the party left their works^ 
on the Whitewood, on a fruitless search for richer diofo-infjs. 
Turning their faces towards Terry Peak, they prospected 
on the way, Nevada and White Tail gulches (then un- 
named), without finding pay gravel; then crossing to the 
opposite side of the peak, they prospected the Spearfish 
and its tributaries with similar results: the}' then pro- 
ceeded down the Spearfish valley to the vicinity of Spear- 
fish Buttes where they went into camp. On climbing the 


Bulte 500 or 600 feet one of the purly discovered, about 
three miles farther down the valley, a large cluster of tents 
which proved to be Col. Dodge's camp. Not wishing to be 
oaptured by the soldiers, of which there was not the slight- 
est danger from that source, as Col. Dodge's command was 
not looking for miners, they secreted their camp until 
night when they pulled out under the cover of darkness 
for Sand creek, where they arrived on the morning of the 
next day. Here they hunted and jerked venison for a 
couple of days, when the little party divided up and went 
their respective \va3's. 

Moon and Lowe followed Col. Dodge around to Bear 
Butte, whence they made their way back to the Missouri river 
for home, thoroughly disgusted withthe BlackHills. Blodgett 
and Hauser joined the soldiers at Custer, and shortly after 
left for Fort Laramie. Bryant and Pearson went to 
Black Buttes, thence southeasterly to the head of Spring and 
Slate creeks, but finding no satisfying prospects they con- 
cluded to return to their abandoned works on the romantic 
Chaw-Skaw-Skaw-Walkapalla. On their way back they 
almot^t ran into the arms of a detachment of United States 
troops, only escaping arrest by hurriedly leading their sure- 
footed animals up among the shelving rocks of a precipitous 
ledge. When the shadows began to fall they ventured out 
of their hiding-place and slipped into the edge of the sol- 
diers' camp, and had a confidential talk with a teamster, 
named Robinson — afterwards, one of the locators of the 
Big Missouri mine at Lead — who advised them to qo 
to Fort Laramie and join Gen. Crook's command about to 
start for the Big Horn. The Black Hills having been 
stripped of their charms, the two weary gold-hunters 
accepted Robinson's advice, and bright and early the next 
morning were on their way out to join Gen. Crook for the 
Big Horn. It is needless to state that Pearson was as glad 
as though he had found a gold nugget to get away from 
the Black Hills, and it is surmised that Bryant shed no 
copious tears at leaving. 


Oil their way out they had an exciting and somewhat amus- 
ing adventure which came near getting them into serious 
trouble, and illustrates " how great a matter a little fire 
kindleth.'" On the second day of their journey outward, 
they came upon a water-hole, about ten feet in diameter 
and two feet deep, the rim of which was cut up with the 
tracks of wild animals, as if large herds of sheep and 
cattle had watered there, and at the time of their arrival 
there were thousands of wild bees on the spot, some 
drinking on the edge of the pool, others whirling and buz- 
zing around overhead. It is reasonable to presume that 
there were some lively jigs danced around that water-hole 
among the angry bees for a while. Well, anyone who 
has ever been in a hornets' nest can appreciate the 

At a critical juncture, Pearson conceived the unhappy 
thought of setting fire to the grass, as a means of putting 
an end to the vicious onslaught of the bees. He started 
the fire, and as the wind was blowing a small gale at the 
time, and the grass was as dry as powder, it burned like a 
flash and spread over the prairie with the speed of a race 
horse, and the two men had to fight like Trojans to save 
their animals and packs from destruction. Finding it im- 
possible to put out the fire they had so thoughtlessly kin- 
dled, and also fearing that the smoke, which could be seen 
for a long distance, might attract the notice of the Indians, 
they hurried away from the scene of conflagration as 
rapidly as their limitation would permit. 

On the fourth day outward they camped at the old 
Government Farm, where they met Frank Norton, Ed. 
Davis, and Frank Smith on their way to the Black Hills, 
with whom they exchanged jerked venison for the staff of 
life (bread), — a glad exchange, as they had been subsisting 
for several weeks on "jerk" straight. On the Platte 
river they met Ed. Murphy, who afterwards made a stake 
on «' Deadwood " gulch and later out of the Yellow creek 
mines. Ed. was hospitably entertained by the " boys," 


who treated him to some venison of their own "jerking," 
which he pronounced very fine. The next day they visited 
the Fort, and found much to their disappointment that 
Gen. Crook was not going to the Big Horn. 

To make a long story short, they were soon on their way 
back to the BUick Hills, Pearson going by wngon to the 
southern Hills, and Bryant, with W. H. Coder, William 
Cudney and two other men with whom he had become ac- 
quainted at Laramie, going directly to the northern Hills, 
and on the 8th day of November, 1875, Bryant was again 
camped on Whitewood creek, occupying the cabin built in 
August of the same year. On the same evening, Novem- 
ber 8th, 1875, a notice was posted on a tree, about fifty 
feet east of the cabin, claiming — " by virtue of discovery — 
300 feet below the notice, and 600 feet below Discovery 
Claim and 300 feet above Discovery Claim for mining pur- 

(Signed) Frank Bryant, 

Henry Coder, 
William Cudney." 

J. B. Pearson later went to the northern Hills with the 
Lardner party, and was among the first locaters on Dead- 
wood gulch, where he continued placer mining until some 
time in 187(3, when, it is alleged, he commenced the erec- 
tion of the second stamp mill in that vicinity, which was 
put in operation in April, 1877, operating for the most 
part on ore from the Black Tail mine, which he had 
located. He operated his twenty stamp mill for about 
three years, when he disposed of his property and pros- 
pected for a time in the southern Hills. In 1883 he became 
engineer of the De Smet mill at Central City. Mr. Pearson 
located what was known as the Giant and Old Abe mines, 
now the property of the Homestake Company, on Decem- 
ber 11th, 1875. These are believed to be the earliest quartz 
mines located in the Hills. 



During the suaniier of 1875, William Lardner, who has 
the distinction of beingr amono; the first locators and one of 
the organizers of the first mining district, established on 
the great " bonanza gulch," with a small party of gold- 
seekers and a well-equipped little pack train, arrived in the 
Black Hills from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Soon after their 
arrival in the Hills they made their way to the north, in 
quest of the shining metal, — exploring as they went some 
of the streams and their tributaries, having their source in 
the Harney Peak region, and finally in early October 
pitched their tents on Little Kapid creek, a short distance 
above its mouth, near the point known as " Ross' Bar." 

One day, during their stay on that stream, two men, 
short of i)rovision.s, — a very common occurrence in those 
days, — arrived at their camp and reported that favorable 
indications of placer deposits had been encountered on a 
stream in the northern Hills. Those two men were J. B. 
Pearson and Dan Muskle, the latter of whom, it is inferred, 
had penetrated the Hills to Deadwood gulch and discovered 
good indications of the existence of placer gold, but becom- 
ing short of supplies, was forced to leave without making 
any location. How, when, and where Muskle fell in with 
J. B. Pearson is not understood, as the latter not many 
days before had parted with Frank Bryant at Fort Laramie. 
At any rate they came to the camp of the Lardner party 
together, and were supplied with provisions, when the 
whole party pulled up stakes and started for the northern 

The entire party was composed of Wm. Lardner, Ed. 
McKay, Joe Englesby, Jas. Hicks, Wm. Gay, Alfred Gay, 

J. B. Pearson, Dan Muskle, and Haggard, — nine in 

all. They lost no time in loading their pack-horses with 
blankets, picks, shovels, gold pans, and the necessary sup- 
plies, of which they had an abundance, caching the balance, 
for which they afterwards returned, when the party went 


northward across the north fork of Little Rapid ; the head- 
waters of Whitewood, White Tail, and Little Spearfish 
creeks, through snow knee-deep, then over the rough 
mountains, through the Bald Mountain region to the new 
diggings on Deadwood gulch, where, a little below the 
mouth of Blacktail, " Discovery " claim was located in 
November, 1875. This was doubtless the first location 
made on the great bonanza gulch. 

All of the original locations made by this party were, it 
appears, made above " Discovery " — No. 9 falling to the 
lot of Wm. Lardner and No. 4 above to Wm. Gay. As if 
by the irony of fate none of the fabulously rich claims, 
located a few weeks later below "Discovery" were secured 
by those first locators on Deadwood gulch. Seemingly 
with pernicious intent, those industrious little animals, the 
beavers, had constructed a dam across the stream, on what 
proved to be one of the richest claims on the gulch, thus 
backing up the waters of the creek, forming a veritable 
little lagoon across the narrow valley from hill to hill. 

Owing to this circumstance, and the further fact that the 
gulch below was covered with a dense growth of under- 
brush, and strewn with a bewildering confusion of dead 
timbers, lying across each other at every known or conceiv- 
able angle, the outlook for prospecting was not considered 

At a miners' meeting held in December, a mining district 
was organized, and appropriately named the "Lost Min- 
ing District" — the first organization of the kind in the 
northern Hills. Wm. Lardner was chosen recorder of the 
district, and by the rules established to govern the same, 
was vested with the right to charge a fee of $1,50 per claim 
for recording locations. 

Of that little group of pioneers, who so eagerly and 
hopefully pushed their way through the deep snow to 
Deadwood gulch twenty-three years ago, Wm. Lardner 
alone remains in the Black Hills. All the other members 
of the party, excepting McKay, are reported dead. The 



tragic fate of one of the number, Wm. Gay, is doubtless 
well known to most of those who knew him in the early 
days. Wm, Gay was sentenced and hung in 1896 for 
shooting and killing an officer of the law in Montana. 

Poor fellow, he did not meet his fate with the fearless- 
ness and daring characteristic of him. When brought face 
to face with his awful doom, he who had braved the innum- 
erable dangers of years of frontier life, and had, perchance, 
many a time in his checkered career looked into the muz- 
zle of a gun aimed at his heart without flinching, cowered 
and cringed at the foot of the gallows in the most pitiable 
and abject terror. 

About three weeks later, or towards the last of Decem- 
ber, 1875, Mr. Lardner returned with pack horses to Little 
Rapid creek for the cached property, and reported the new 
rich discovery to a small party of prospectors on Castle 
creek, who the following day packed their tools and other 
belongino-s, and followed on his trail to Deadwood gulch. 

This second party, composed of J. J. Williams, W. H. 
Babcock, Eugene Smith, and Jackson, arrived on Deadwood 
gulch about the 1st of January, 1876, all of whom located 
claims below " Discovery." It is asserted that Jackson 
located No. 1 below and afterward sold his claim to Hilde- 
brand and Harding, experienced miners from Montana. 
J. J. Williams located No. 22 below Discovery, from which 
in a period of three months he washed out $27,000 in gold 
dust. He afterward sold his claim on Deadwood, and 
located No. 14 above Discovery on Whitewood creek from 
which he realized $35,000 of the precious metal, the reward 
of his indomitable perseverance. Mr. Williams helped lay 
out and found the city of Deadwood, of which for more 
than two decades he has been a resident, and where he is 
now engaged in the honorable avocation of a worker in 

The next to find their way to Deadwood gulch, were 
Wade Porter and Oscar Cline, about the middle of January, 
1876. Porter had altogether a remarkable experience, as 


■One of the party making first locations on the famous " Deadwoocl 
Gulch" in November, 1875. 


will be shown by the following brief recapitulation of his 
early career in the Black Hills. It will, perhaps, be re- 
membered that he was one of the lirst party to reach 
French creek in 1875, and one of those of the party who 
escaped capture by the military squad dispatched to sum- 
marily remove them from the Hills. Hearing of the 
exodus of the miners in August, he soon after voluntarily 
left the Hills for Fort Laramie, where after a few days 
stay he joined a party of about thirty men fitted out with a 
large pack train, led by one Mallory, and started for Iron 
creek in the northern Hills, where Mallory reported havino- 
found rich diggings. Owing to a scarcity of water for 
sluicing purposes in that region, Porter with several others 
left Iron creek and went to Castle creek where he had 
formerly prospected. He had not been there long before 
the whole party was rounded up by a squad of Capt. Pol- 
lock's troopers, taken to Custer and placed in the " cruard 
pen," where they were kept for several days, when they were 
taken to Cheyenne, tried before a United States commis- 
sioner, and released. Soon after their release a number of 
the party, including Porter, equipped themselves and ao^ain 
started for the northwestern Hills, by a circuitous route to 
avoid the soldiers. After prospecting a few weeks on 
Sand and Bear creeks. Porter and Cline decided to return 
to the gold diggings on Castle creek, and it was on this 
trip that they struck the trail of the Lardner party, on the 
Little Spearfish, which led them to Deadwood gulch, where 
they located claims in January, 1876. 

One of the first of the Black Hills pioneers to catch the 
gold infection that began to spread over the land in the 
spring of 1876 was V. P. Shouu, whose imposing presence 
and distinctive personality is, doubtless, well-remembered 
by the early settlers of the Hills. Mr. Shoun was one of 
the 176 members of Gordon's unfortunate expedition, 
whose goods and chattels were seized and burned by mill- 


tary authority, while en route to the Black Hills in the 
spring of 1875. Soon after the release of the captured 
party, on the east bank of the Big Muddy, opposite Yank- 
ton, Mr. Sboun re-equipped and was again making his 
solitary way across the black prairies — ever on the alert 
for the " blue coats," — for the Black Hills. At Spotted 
Tail Agency, where he tarried for a while to recuperate, he 
•organized a small party of seven men, equipped with as 
many Sharp's rifles, 2,000 rounds of ammunition, twelve 
pack ponies, and four saddle horses, and thus reinforced, 
resumed his journey to the Hills about October 1st, 1875. 

To guard against surprise by the soldiers, who were then 
vigilantly watching the approaches to the Hills, two of the 
party were kept on duty both day and night as scouts. 
When near Buffalo Gap, two troops of soldiers were seen 
by the scouts, who soon communicated the alarming intel- 
ligence to the other members who, by hiding behind 'a 
protecting hill, escaped discovery. Mr. Shoun had pretty 
ofood reason for wanting to give the United States soldiers 
a wide berth, for had he not seen them only a few months 
before apply the match that caused all his belongings, as 
well as those of his fellow-travelers, including clothing, 
supplies and much of their bedding, go up in smoke? 

On reaching Custer, the party was taken in charge by 
D. T. Snively, and by him conducted to the protecting 
shelter of the stockade, then occupied by Sam Shankland 
and Robert Kenyon, who had been permitted to remain in 
the Hills by Gen. Crook, to look after the interests of the 
miners, a man named Murphy and two other men. In 
order to avoid a collision with Major Pollock's soldiers, 
Mr. Shoun secured the services and connivance of Bob 
Kenyon, who had become familiar with the topography of 
the Hills, to pilot them around the dreaded " blue coats," 
and put them on the trail for the north. By the courtesy 
of Bob, they were soon on their way towards Harney's 
Peak, where they hoped to find a safe asylum among the 
fastnesses, for a time at least. 


On the 25th of October, the party selected a camping 
ground amid the dark, deep defiles of the Harney Peak 
range, where they unloaded their pack ponies, and stored 
their supplies among the slelving granite rocks, then led the 
ponies, relieved of their burdens, to an open park about 
ten miles distant, to graze. The spot selected for a camp- 
ing ground must have been an ideal hiding-place, judging 
from Mr. Shoun's own standpoint, of which he says, using 
his exact diction : " We camped in such a place at the foot 
of Harney's Peak, that the devil himself could not have 
found us." Later Mr. Shoun went north to Dead wood 
gulch, and was one of the early claim owners and workers 
on that historic gulch. 

Owino; to the strict military espionage maintained along 
the lines to the Hills, in the spring of 1875, it had been 
found a losing venture to attempt the transportation of 
jn'ovisions in any considerable quantities, hence those com- 
ing to the Hills later were outfitted for the most part with 
pack animals carrying supplies for only a limited period, 
some for sixty, some for thirty days, and strangely enough 
a few, trusting to kind Providence for the future, with a 
little more than enough to last them to the gold fields, 
consequently having no base of supplies, miners and pros- 
pectors were frequently reduced to uncomfortable straits 
for something to eat. 


Amonor the first to brino; merchandise to the Black Hills 
to supply this demand of the miners and prospectors, was 
H. B. Young, then of the firm of Cuthbertson & Young,, 
of Cheyenne, Wyoming. In early November, 1875, Mr. 
Young arrived in the Hills from Cheyenne, in charge of 
several loads of goods for the firm of which he was a mem- 
ber, making Hill City, then a mining camp of considerable 
importance, his base of commercial operations during the 
winter of 1875-6. Early in May, 1876, taking the current 
at its flood, he transferred his headquarters from Hill City 


to Deatlwood, where he carried on an extensive jobbing 
trade with the retail dealers of Dead wood and other mining 
camps for the firm of Cuthbertson & Young, which was 
amonof the first to engage in wholesale commercial trans- 
actions in the Black Hills. 

Later Mr. Young turned his attention to mining opera- 
tions, his first venture being the purchase of 100 feet of 
the Homestake mine from Alex. Engh and Henry Har- 
ney, who together owned a one-half interest in the mine, 
the purchase price being three hundred dollars. 

In the fall of 1877, Mr. Young sold his fractional inter- 
est in the mine to a representative of the Homestake Com- 
pany for the handsome sum of $10,000, or at the rate of 
$150,000 for the whole mine. During the time between 
the purchase and sale, Mr. Young had made extensive de- 
velopments on his fraction, taking out large quantities of 
ore for treatment, thereby greatly enhancing the selling 
value of his property. 

Late in the fall of 1877, the firm of Cuthbertson & 
Young secured from the Homestake Company the con- 
tract for the transportation of the Homestake eighty stamp 
mill; the hoisting machinery and other appurtenances of 
the plant, from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to the Homestake 
mine, at the rate of six cents per pound, realizing therefrom 
the sum of $33,000, which may appear to those not con- 
sidering the time, distance, and difficulties involved, a large 
sum. The transportation of 275 tons of unwieldy machinery 
250 miles in the depth of winter, over a comparatively un- 
traveled country, handicapped with the frequent necessity 
of repairing roads, building bridges, etc., was no small 

A part of the Homestake machinery was carried to the 
Hills by an ox freight train, owned by A. J. Parshall of 
Cheyenne, via Ked Cloud and Crook City. When the out- 
fit reached the vicinit}^ of the latter point on the route, it 
was caught and locked for many days in the fatal embrace 
of the memorable snowfall of March, 1878, when every 


bovine — save nine, of the 100 head of cattle, perished 
from exposure and starvation. 

Who of the early residents of the Hills will not remem- 
ber the sreat snowstorm beo:inninoi; March Gth, 1878? I 
said snowstorm, but, as a matter of fact, there was no 
storm about it. There was no wind, no, not even a gentle 
zephyr to fan the feathery flakes into uneven billows as 
they fell. Thick and fast, however, they dropped flutter- 
ing down, straight from the clouds to earth, until its whole 
face was covered with a foot, — two feet, — three feet, — 
four feet, on a deed level, of the " beautiful." The un- 
precedented snowfall tinally came to an end, — as all things 
will, but not before grave fears were entertained that the 
Black Hills was doomed to be irrecoverably snowed under. 
It has been said that every misfortune has its compensat- 
ing features. Be that as it may, the deep snow of 1878 
proved a veritable Klondike to the idle men and boys about 
Dead wood, as its business men were freely paying one 
dollar per hour to men for shoveling the snow from the 
roofs of their buildings, that were giving way under the 
immense pressure. 

Conspicuous among the pioneers of 1875 was John R. 
Brennan, who, by unyielding perseverance and indomitable 
pluck during his years of residence in the Black Hills, has 
succeeded in reaching the topmost rung of the ladder of 
success. He was prominent among the few brave men, 
who, in the face of great danger, located and founded 
Rapid City, and whose experiences during those perilous 
times were more thrilling, perhaps, than ordinarily fall to 
the lot of pioneers. Mr. Brennan may be accounted one 
of the representative citizens of the Black Hills, by virtue 
of which numerous positions of honor and trust were from 
time to time conferred upon him during his long and con- 
tinuous residence therein. 

In March, 1876, Mr. Brennan was n^ade a member 
of the first Board of Trustees of Rapid City. He opened 


and kept the first hostehy in Rapid City in a twelve by 
fourteen feet log cabin, situated on Rapid street between 
Fifth and Sixth streets. In 1878 he built and opened the 
American House, on the corner of Sixth and Main streets, 
which was consumed by fire in 1888. He was made presi- 
dent of the Hotel Harney Company, the building being 
constructed under his direction, and opened by him in 1886, 
the ownership passing from the company to Mr. Brennan 
in 1888. 

In 1877 Mr. Brennan was appointed Superintendent of 
Public Instruction for Pennington County by Gov. Pen- 
nington, was also appointed first Postmaster of Rapid City 
during the same year; was at one and the same time Ex- 
})ress. Stage, and Union Pacific Agent, for a period of ten 
years. In 1888 he was appointed President of the Board 
of Trustees of the School of Mines of Rapid City, by Gover- 
nor Church, holding the oflSce for four years. In 1892 he 
was appointed State Railroad Commissioner by Governor 
Sheldon, for two years, and was elected to the same position, 
in 1894, for two years. 

It is thus a pleasure to record that one of the early 
pioneers of the Black Hills has occupied important niches in 
their history. The subjoined account of the journey of the 
party of which Mr. Brennen was a member, and some of 
their experiences after reaching the Hills, may prove of 
interest to residents thereof. 

John R. Brennan, in company with Geo. W. Stokes, 
N. H. Hawley, and George Ashton, left Denver, Colorado, 
for the Black Hills, about the middle of October, 1875, 
with teams and wagons loaded with all the requisite equip- 
ments for such a journey, including provisions adequate 
for six months. On reaching Cheyenne, an inventory of 
the cash on hand was taken, when it was found that the 
combined wealth of the party was just twenty dollars. 
However, with this meager cash capital, but with a large 
surplus of determination and pluck, they pulled out from 
Cheyenne for the Hills. On the seventh day out from 


Denver, they reached the Phitte river, near Fort Laramie, 
where they went into cam[) for seven days — this delay 
being made to avoid meeting with a squad of soldiers who 
were reported on their way out from the Hills to the Fort 
with a number of prospectors under arrest for trespassing 
on the Indian Reserve, and for the still further purpose of 
receiving; recruits. 

While in camp on the Platte, they were joined by a party 
of forty-five men, also bound for the Black Hills, among 
whom were California Joe (the noted scout), Dido King, 
afterwards commissioner of Lawrence County, and popu- 
larly known as " Honest Dick," Geo. Palmer, John Argue, 
Robert Ralston (who was captain of the party), and James 
Hepburn and wife — the only woman in the party. 

This Mrs. Hepburn, who died a few years ago in Cen- 
tral, near Deadwood, was probably the first woman to enter 
the Hills in 1875, — barring Calamity Jane, who it is 
asserted, came in with Professor Jenny's military escort at 
an earlier date. 

As soon as the military escort arrived with their prison- 
ers at Fort Laramie, the party immediately broke camp 
and departed precipitately for the Hills via the Govern- 
ment Farm, Raw Hide Buttes, and Cottonwood, crossing 
the Cheyenne river at the point where Edgmont now 
stands ; then up Red Canyon through Pleasant Valley to 
Custer Park, arriving there on November 12lh, 1875. Here 
the party found and took possession of three log barracks 
built by the soldiers, occupying them for one night only. 
The next day they went down French creek to the stock- 
ade, two and a half miles below, where they remained 
and prospected five or six days, when, dividing into small 
parties, they scattered out to different points in the middle 
and southern Hills. 

Brennan, Stokes, Palmer, Hawley, Byron, and Argue, 
located on what is known as Palmer's gulch, built three 
substantial log cabins and established themselves in their 


On December 20th, 1875, a miners' meeting was held at 
the cabin of Brennan, Stokes, and Pahner, which was as 
far as known the first regular miners' meeting ever held in 
the Black Hills, the minutes of whose proceedings have 
been preserved. 

Below are the full proceedings: — 

Meeting called to order by J. R. Brennan. Present: 
Geo. W. Stokes, Geo. Palmer, N. H. Hawley, G. Byron, 
Dick King, John Argue, T. C. Brady, Gus. Williams, and 
California Joe. 

After objects of meeting were stated; on motion, T. 
C. Brady was elected chairman, and Geo. W. Stokes, 

The following business was then transacted: — 

Moved and seconded that the gulch be named '* Palmer 
Gulch," and that a mining district be formed to be known 
as Palmer Gulch Mining District. Motion carried. 

Moved and seconded that a committee of two be ap- 
pointed to draft laws to regulate the district. Adopted. 

Geo. Stokes and T. C. Brady were chosen to draft laws 
to govern the district. 

On motion the Montana Company located on Stand-off 
Bar on Spring creek were invited to attend the meeting 
on the 25th inst. to assist in making laws to govern the 

Nominations for recorder for the district were called for. 

John R. Brennan, being the only name presented, was 
chosen recorder of the Palmer Gulch Mining District. 

Reading report of committee on laws, price for recording 
claims was fixed at one dollar per claim ; size of claim was 
fixed (temporarily), 200 feet up and down the gulch, and 
from rim to rim. 

California Joe was then called upon to tell the meeting 
what he knew, in a general way, about the Hills, he having 
spent the summer with Professor Jenny in their explorations. 

Joe was very enthusiastic on the subject, saying that, in 
his opinion, the Black Hills was the richest country in the 


United States, that he had prospected as far north as Elk 
creek, and south to French creek, and had found splendid 
))rospects in every place between those two points. He 
called the attention of the meeting to the fact, that he had 
located and staked the first quartz claim in the Black Hills, 
said claim being situated one mile below his cabin on the 

On motion, meeting adjourned to meet again on Decem- 
ber 25th, to hear the report of the committee on laws. 

Geo. W. Stokes, 

Secretary . 

This party prospected and worked nearly the entire 
winter on Palmer gulch and Spring creek, running a drain 
ditch 1,800 feet and sinking forty or fifty prospect holes, 
without realizing enough to pay for sharpening and 
repairing tools. 

In the latter part of February, 1876, John R. Brennan 
in company with W. P. Martin, A. Brown, Mart. Pensinger* 
Wm. Marsten, Thos. Ferguson, and Dick King, left the 
party, went to Rapid valley and then located Rapid City on 
February 25th, 1876. 


Emil Faust, also a pioneer of 1875, left Cheyenne, 
Wyoming, in October, 1875 ; with two four-horse teams, 
and wagons loaded with provisions for the Black Hills. 
By considerable stratagem, and making some tedious 
detours, to avoid meeting the soldiers under Capt. Pollock, 
who were leaving the Hills for Fort Laramie about that 
time, he succeeded in reaching Custer on the 24th of Decem- 
ber, 1875, where he remained during the winter. Pro- 
visions becoming very scarce in the Hills, Mr. Faust in 
company with D. G. Tallent, who was returning from his 
second trip to the Black Hills, left Custer for Cheyenne, 
in the early part of March, 1876, taking with him $1,000 
in gold dust for the purchase of supplies. This gold dust 



was mined from the placer deposits of French, Spring, and 
Castle creeks, and was the first gold of any considerable 
quantity carried out of the Black Hills. 

Their journey was by no means over a bed of roses, 
as will be seen. On reaching the vicinity of Hat creek, 
they were overtaken by a terrific snowstorm — a veritable 
Dakota blizzard, and having no forage for their horses, 
and not much provisions for themselves, both came very 
near perishing with cold and hunger. As the snow was too 
deep for the horses to reach the grass, they were forced to 
dole out to them their scanty supplies to keep the poor 
beasts from starvation. Even the contents of their "grub- 
box," — including a lot of nice ham sandwiches — had to 
be fed to them, while they themselves went "awfully'' 
hungry. However, half-starved as they were, when the 
storm abated somewhat, they pushed their way through the 
snow and slush, towards Fort Laramie. At the " Govern- 
ment " farm they providentially met Judge Kuykendall 
with a small party on his way to the Hills with merchan- 
dise for the Deadwood market, of whom they procured in 
exchange for Black Hills gold dust enough supplies to last 
until reaching Cheyenne. 

This is but an instance of the terrible hardships and 
privations endured by many of the early pioneers while 
traveling over the dreary wastes to the Black Hills. 

After investing the $1,000 of gold in provisions for the 
miners Mr. Faust returned to the Hills, where he has ever 
since remained, and is now one of the prosperous, business 
men of the great mining metropolis of the Hills, Lead 





When the tide of emigration began to flow towards the 
Black Hills, in the early spring of 1875, the necessity for 
means of transportation for passengers and freight over 
the plains became apparent, and a few shrewd men of cap- 
ital, seeing in this necessity an opportunity for profitable 
investment, lost no time in organizing companies and 
establishing lines from different points to the Black Hills 
for that purpose. Nor was their judgment and penetration 
at fault, for, during the years prior to the advent of the 
first railroad, the immense freight and passenger traffic 
between outfitting points and the Hills, not only yielded 
large results to the operators, but was an important factor 
in ''the business economy of the Black Hills; and from 
those standpoints may be regarded as the most prosperous 
years in their entire history. 

The pioneer organization for the transportation of freight, 
was called the Sioux City & Black Hills Transportation 
Company, — the company being Fred. T. Evans, Judge 
Hubbard, John H. Clark, John Hornick, — Sioux City 
capitalists— of which Fred T. Evans was president. The 
first train of the line left Sioux City on April 26th, 1875, 
with the goods and equipments of Gordon's ill-fated 
expeditionrwhich was almost totally destroyed by the mili- 
tary — wagons, goods and all, — at the point on the Nio- 
brara route near where Gordon, Nebraska, now stands, as 
before related. 

During the years 1876-7, this company shipped their 
merchandise from Sioux City up the Missouri river by 
steamer, first to Yankton, afterwards to Pierre, then 


from those respective points by wagon to the Hills. In 
1878, their shipping point was changed from Sioux City 
to Chamberlain to connect with the Chicago, Milwaukee 
and St. Paul R. R., whence their goods were shipped by 
steamer to Pierre, and from there by wagon to all points 
in the Black Hills until 1888. This Evans' Transportation 
Company employed varying from 1,000 to 1,500 men and 
wagons, from 2,000 to 3,000 oxen, and from 1,000 to 
1,500 mules, and the freight traffic of the line was some- 
thing immense. Although the men employed on the line 
had frequent encounters with the Indians, the only loss 
sustained by the company during the period of its existence 
was 200 oxen stolen, and one man killed by the Indians at 
Crook City, in March, 1876, and two men killed and ten 
mules stolen in 1877 on the Cheyenne river. 

Following closely upon the heels of the organization of 
the Sioux City and Black Hills Transportation Company 
came that of the Witcher Company, which carried on a 
very extensive freight business with the Hills during the 
first four or five years of its history. This company 
commenced operations along that line in the spring of 1875, 
the first train of the line starting on its initial trip a few 
days after the departure of the Gordon party with the 
Evans' transportation train. 

It may be remembered that this unfortunate expedition, 
destitute of the quality of cohesion, broke up into frag- 
ments, while en route on the old Niobrara trail to the 
Hills. Subsequently the Witcher Company shipped their 
freight from Sioux City by boat to Yankton and Pierre 
successively, thence overland by wagon to different points 
in the Black Hills. 

Several other freight lines, doing a more or less exten- 
sive business with the Hills, were established prior to the 
opening of the country to settlement in 1877, notabl}' Dick 
Dunn & Newbanks' transportation lines, running from 
Pierre, and J. M. Woods, Bramble and Miner, Jewett & 
Dickinson from Sidney. 


Who started the first passenger and freight transportation train 
from Sioux City to the Black Hills in April, 1875. 


The first regular express and passenger line to the Black 
Hills, called the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Line, 
running first from Cheyenne, afterwards from Sidney to 
Deadwood, was established during the year 187G. The 
company, Messrs. Gihiian, Salisbury and Patrick, com- 
menced operations along the line laid out, and made an 
earnest and determined effort to push the work to a speedy 
completion, and put the line in full operation in the early 
spring of that year, but owing to the persistent hostility of 
the Indians and their consequent depredations, it was found 
utterly impracticable. Their relay stations were burned, 
their stock run off, and their general agent killed by the 
Indians. Thus handicapped, they were compelled to par- 
tially suspend operations temporarily. However, despite 
the difficulties in the way, work was soon resumed, and 
some time in July a splendid four-horse coach, loaded with 
passengers, succeeded in safely reaching Custer. On its 
return trip, however, when a few miles out from Custer, 
the coach was attacked by a band of Indians, who after a 
chase of several miles, killed the driver, cut the horses 
from the coach and drove them away, harness and all, 
leaving the passengers stranded on the trail, who were in 
consequence compelled to walk back twelve miles to Custer 
for a new start. The difiiculties of establishino^ a line of 
coaches 300 miles over an intensely hostile country are 
not easily surmounted, yet by an unyielding perseverance, 
the obstacles were at last overcome, and on September 
25th, 1876, the first through coach of the line reached 

In addition to its passenger traflSc, this line carried large 
consignments of fast freight and express matter, amount- 
ing, it is estimated by some, to about 40,000,000 pounds 
annually. All Western and Southern, and a considerable 
portion of Eastern mail for the Hills was carried over this 
line. All of the Homestake bullion up to 1881, and nearly 
all of the early gold product of the Black Hills, was 
transported by the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Com- 


pany during the perilous years, when " road agents," under 
the guise of honest men, surreptitiously watched the ship- 
ments, and " hold-ups " were a common occurrence, and 
when the golden treasure had to be guarded by intrepid 
nervy men armed with shot-guns. 

The old historic Deadwood Treasure Coach that has since 
been " held up" and robbed, in regular Black Hills style, 
in numerous of the large cities of the United States and in 
many parts of the old world, to the intense delight, amid 
the wild plaudits of tens of thousands, among whom were 
some crowned heads, was planned and built by Superin- 
tendent Voorhees, of the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage 
Company, for the safer transportation of Black Hills gold. 

The Northwestern Express, Stage, and Transportation 
Company, organized under the laws of Minnesota, with R. 
Blakely as president, and C. W. Carpenter as secretary and 
treasurer, commenced running a daily line of stages in 
connection with the Northern Pacific Railroad from Bis- 
marck to Deadwood on May 1st, 1877. In October, 1880, 
the line was transferred to Pierre, to connect with the Chi- 
cago and Northwestern Railway, and in 1886 was transferred 
from Pierre to Chadron, Nebraska, to connect with the Fre- 
mont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad on its com- 
pletion to that point. In 1880, the company established a 
line of splendid Concord four-horse coaches, between 
Pierre and Deadwood, which it is estimated carried an 
average of 5,000 passengers yearly for a period of five 
years, during which time the line carried all the Northern 
and a large percentage of the Eastern mail for the Black 
Hills. The Homestake bullion was transported by this 
company, from Deadwood to Pierre, during the years 1881 
and 1882. The heavy weight transportation alone on this 
line amounted to 11,000,000 pounds annually, employing 
250 men, 600 horses and mules, and 2,000 oxen. 

On the completion of the F. E. & M. V. R. R. to the 
Hills, all that kind of passenger and freight traffic with 
the Black Hills soon ceased and the lines discontinued. 


Who established the second passenger and freight transportation line 
from Sioux City to the Black Hills in April, 1875. 


Stage coaches, ox and mule trains are now relegated to the 
dead past. The rumbling of the dashing tally-ho; the long 
strings of tired cattle, toiling slowly along with the trains 
of heavily freighted wagons; the ear-piercing crack of the 
long lashes of the picturesque bull-whackers, and the pro- 
longed braying of the mules, are no more seen nor heard on 
the business thoroughfares of our cities. 


Prior to the opening of the country for settlement in 
February, 1877, and the subsequent establishment of regu- 
lar United States mail service for the Black Hills, the peo- 
ple, having been thrown upon their own resources for 
means of communication with the outer world, were com- 
pelled to avail themselves of chance opportunities for send- 
ing out letters — business or otherwise, — and had also to 
depend upon the same uncertain means for return messages. 
The large accumulation of mail for the Black Hills, at the 
various outfitting points, was usually intrusted to the care of 
trains leaving these points for the Hills, and as these trains 
were frequently held in siege by the hostile Indians for 
many days at a time, the mail did not always arrive when 
expected. However, after weeks of anxious waiting on 
the part of the long suffering people, it would, in most 
cases, reach its destination. On its arrival in Deadwood, 
the principal distributing point of the Hills, it would be 
taken in charge by a self-constituted postmaster, and labo- 
riously arranged in alphabetical piles, ready for delivery — 
the modus operandi being as follows : The addresses were 
read aloud; each person upon the call of his name would 
elbow his way through the immense crowd of eager letter- 
seekers, to the delivery window, where, by the payment of 
fifty cents in " coin of the realm " or its equivalent in gold 
dust, he would receive his long looked for letter or letters. 
Fifty cents may seem a large price to pay for a single 
letter, but when it is considered that several clerks had to 
be employed in arranging and handing out the mail, and 



several others in weighing up the gold dust received in 
payment therefor, besides the percentage to the carriers, it 
was not, perhaps, unreasonable. 

In the summer of 1876, about the last of July or per- 
haps the first of August, followed the Seymour and Utter 
Pony Express Mail Service with its corps of daring intrepid 
riders, conspicuous among whom were Charlie Utter 
(Colorado Charlie), H. G. Rockfellow, and Herbert 
Godard. Mounted on the fleetest of bronchos, with mail 
sacks strapped onto their saddles, and their guns and cart- 
ridges thrown across the pommels ; silently and swiftly 
they flew over the Indian infested trail, first between Fort 
Laramie and Deadwood, and afterwards between Sydney 
and Deadwood, with, the thousands of white-winged mes- 
sages, never, as far as known, losing a single paper, or fail- 
ing to arrive on schedule time. Although the service called 
for only a weekly mail, the riders by a frequent relay of 
fresh ponies, sometimes made the trip in the incredibly 
short space of forty-eight hours, much of the distance 
being traveled under cover of the night to avoid contact 
with the Indians. For this dangerous service the company 
received tsventy-five cents for each letter delivered, but as 
the number of letters varied from 2,000 to 3,000 each trip 
the compensation was not insignificant. 

That the riders had many thrilling experiences with the 
redskins on their trips, goes without saying ; that they some- 
times, too, had very narrow escapes, is illustrated by the 
following story from the pen of a 3'^oung pioneer of 1876, 
(R.B.Hughes): — 

'* Among the riders employed by Seymour and Utter, to 
carry the mail from Deadwood to Fort Laramie, was Brant 
Street, now living the life of a quiet farmer in Dodge 
County, Nebraska. Street was engaged to ride pony 
express, and for a month or so went through the expe- 
riences common in those days to all men in that dangerous 
occupation. He carried, besides the mail sack tied to his 
saddle, nothing save a Remington rifle and a bag of cart- 




ridges slung across the pommel of the saddle. One after- 
noon, he was riding along on his down trip, about eight 
miles north of Hat Creek Station, not expecting trouble, 
for the Indians had been unusually quiet for a week or 
more, when a volley was fired upon him from the bush, 
and, in an instant, as he afterwards told the story, the 
world seemed to be full of redskins. His horse fell dead 
at the first fire. One ball struck the pommel of the saddle 
and another knocked the heel from his boot. Extricating 
himself from the saddle as quickly as possible, and pulling 
off the gun and cartridges, he ran as fast as he could to a 
little arroyo close by, into which he threw himself at full 

" As he ran the bullets sang and whistled about his ears 
and kicked up the dust at his feet. The Indians were rap- 
idly closing in on him when he emptied his cartridges on 
the ground, and, as he expressed it, commenced pumping 
lead back at them. So warm did he make it for the 
Indians, that they soon began to look for cover and long 
range, from which they kept up an intermittent fusillade 
until night fell, when they withdrew. Street said after- 
ward that the three or four hours he spent hugging the 
ground seemed longer than so many days at any other time 
of his life. The nerve of the man is shown in the fact that 
after darkness had settled down he crawled out to his dead 
horse, disengaged the pouches of mail, and carried them 
on his back to Hat Creek Station." 

Brave and swift though these riders were, one of them 
at least is known to have fallen a victim to the deadly bullets 
of the redskins, as about the middle of August, a Sidney 
express rider was found scalped beside his mail bag, be- 
tween Castleton and Deadwood. 

In connection with this private mail service, a post office 
was established in Deadwood, not for the distribution of 
mail as in regular United States service, but for a safe 
depository, where the people could go and get their mail 


under certain restrictions. Upon the arrival of the ex- 
press, the pouches were emptied of their contents and the 
letters arranged alphabetically as before, when the letters 
would be handed out as called for — only one person's mail 
could be called for at a time. By right of priority, first 
come first served, each new one claiming mail, regardless 
of sex, being required by an unwritten law to take his 
position in the line in the rear, so that if one desired to get 
the mail of a friend, he would be compelled to take his 
place in the rear of the column and wait his turn. Of 
course it took a long time to call out two or three thousand 
letters from the voluminous piles and weigh up the gold- 
dust postage, and for that reason the line was usually 
long drawn out, a quarter of a mile, more or less, and 
those having to repeat the operation grew proportionately 
tired. There are many doubtless in the Black Hills to-day, 
who after the lapse of twenty -one years, grow tired at the 
recollection of having stood in line for three or four 
hours awaiting their turns to get a letter from the old 


After two months of pony express mail service, the line 
was sold out to Mr. Clippenger of Fort Laramie, whose 
service proved so unsatisfactory to the people, that finally 
all mail matter for the Hills was ordered to be given into 
the care of the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Company 
for transportation, such service being at first rendered free 
of charge. 

Occasionally, before the establishment of the Pony Ex- 
press Service, letters for the Hills were intrusted to the 
care of parties of gold-seeking adventurers to be delivered 
directly into the hands of the parties addressed when 
found. Sometimes such persons were not readily found, 
in which case, letters frequently passed through several 
hands before reaching their addresses, and I now recall two 
occasions, on which I received very badly soiled, tattered 
and torn missives, bearing the unmistakable ear-marks of 



having been perused by other eyes than those for whom 
they were intended. However, we could not afford to be 
too fastidious in those days, and were glad to get even 
second-hand news. Such were the postal limitations in the 
Black Hills in 1876. 






OF 1876. 

The Yellowstone Expedition of 1876 furnishes the theme 
for a tra-ic chapter in the history of the Blacii Hills. 
While the campaign may be considered by some more a 
matter of general history, inasmuch as the expedition had 
its inception in the necessity for throwing protection around 
the people of the Black Hills and the outlying settlements 
against the depredations of hostile Sioux, and also in that 
the Black Hills would more directly lose by its failure or 
profit by its success, than any other portion of our com- 
mon country, it may be regarded as essentially a part of 
Black Hills history. Howbeit, believing it to be such, it 
seems fitting that a brief account of that memorable cam- 
paign, the causes leading thereto, its object and results, 
be recorded on these pages, that the name of the dead hero, 
whose trail the first pioneers followed into the wilderness, 
may be ever kept green in their memories. 

Primarily, the invasion of the Black Hills in 1874, and 
the subsequent failure of the Sioux to obtain redress for 
such violation of treaty obligations in their council with 
the United States Commissioners in 1875, followed by the 
unrestricted influx of gold-seekers into their domain, — 
acrcrravated, doubtless, by a long list of fancied wrongs, 
tre^asured up for years, - yet unavenged, engendered the 
bitter hostilities, which resulted in the crowning tragedy 
of 1876 — the tragedy of the Little Big Horn. 

The more direct and immediate cause, however, precipi- 
tating the conflict, was the refusal of certain bands of 
hostite Indians to complv with the request of the Indian 
Department, that they be compelled to settle down on their 





reservation, subject to the control of the Indian agents. 
It was to compel obedience and bring in these recalcitrant 
bands, who were roaming at will over a very large scope of 
the Western public domain, — but rarely visiting their 
agencies (only when rations were drawn), that the cam- 
paign iinown as the Yellowstone Expedition, was authorized 
by the War Department and placed under the direction of 
Gen. Sheridan, in the winter of 1875-6. 

About this time. Sitting Bull, the " medicine man " of 
these hostile bands, learning of the contemplated aggres- 
sive movements, began to concentrate his savage forces, 
and away out westward among the mountains of Southern 
Montana, he planted the hostile standard — at a point he 
thought admirably located for his purpose — not too far 
away to preclude the possibility of making dashing raids 
on the distant settlements, yet near enough to the impreg- 
nable ramparts of the Big Horn mountains, to which, if 
closely pursued, he could make his escape, and at the same 
time accessible to foreign territory, where needed recruits 
could be obtained. 

Pending the military warlike movements, the wily Brule 
chieftain — the most uncompromising and relentless of the 
foes of the pale-faces, and his savage coadjutors, the vin- 
dictive Uncapapas, Chief Gall, and Crow-king, and the 
reckless Crazy Horse, the ruling spirits of the hostile forces, 
were rapidly gathering in recruits from nearly all the tribes 
of the Sioux nation. Couriers and runners were sent out 
with the " war pipe " to the various reservations to stir up 
the spirit of war among the agency Indians; hundreds of 
them from both the upper and lower agencies, including 
all the renegade outlaws of the various tribes, hastened to 
swell the hosts of Sitting Bull on the Yellowstone. 

The plan of the campaign for subduing these savage forces, 
which finally numbered in the aggregate from 6,000 to 8,000 
Indians and squaws, including nearly 3,000 of the most 
warhke braves of the Sioux nation, was briefly as follows : 
A column from the Department of the Platte under Gen. 


Crook and one from Fort Abraham Lincoln, under Gen. 
Terry to be joined by Gen. Gibbons' command from Fort 
Ellis, on the Upper Yellowstone, were to co-operate, and 
in conjunction, surround and capture the hostile bands, or 
drive them onto their respective reservations. 

In the execution of the above plan, about the 1st of 
March, 1876, Gen. Crook, in command of the first column 
consisting of ten companies of Third Cavalry and two of 
the Fifth Infantry, comprising altogether less than 900 
men, moved out westward from Fort Laramie in quest of 
the savage foe, going into camp on the Powder river near 
old Fort Reno, where he remained on account of severe 
storms for several weeks, meanwhile reorganizing his 
army. Soon after their arrival in camp. Gen. Reynolds, 
with the force of cavalry and pack-train, proceeded down 
the river and when about fifty miles below, on the 17th of 
March, he was met and repulsed by Craz}^ Horse and his 
baud of 100 lodges, which obliged him to return to camp, 
and it was at the time of this delay and repulse that the 
Indians left their agencies by hundreds to join the 

As soon as the weather made it practicable. Gen. Crook 
resumed his march with a little more than 1,000 fighting 
men (a force wholly inadequate, as it turned out, to cope 
successfully with the enemy in an almost totally unknown 
country), and about 200 more as scouts, teamsters, and 
packers, reaching Goose creek — a branch of the Tongue 
river — about the first of June, where he made a permanent 

The ♦' hostiles," on the approach of Gen. Crook, of 
whose movements they kept themselves thoroughly well- 
informed through the medium of scouts and spies who 
were ever diligently scouring the country on the watch for 
any threatened danger, sent out a large party of their 
best fighting braves to discover the real strength of the 
approaching army, and, if expedient and practicable, 
precipitate a conflict. 


On the 17th of June, Gen. Crook encountered these 
Indians somewhere near the headwaters of the Rosebud, 
where a battle ensued, in which the expedition was 
defeated and compelled to retreat — without, it is believed, 
any serious loss — placing it, however, for the time being, 
practically out of the campaign. 

The victorious Indians after repeated fruitless attempts 
to decoy Gen. Crook into ambush in the canyons of the 
Rosebud, faced about and returned on their trail to the 
village near the Little Big Horn — the very trail, doubtless, 
struck and followed up by Custer and his brave troopers 
to their death eight days later. 

The Sagacious Sitting Bull and his allies, upon being 
warned of the advance of Gen. Custer's column from the 
east, and easily discerning in the general movement the 
net that was being woven around them, determined not to 
be caught in its meshes unprepared, so with admirable 
foresight, they had located their village along the west 
bank of the Little Horn — thus commanding its waters — 
the key to the situation, and in near proximity to the Big 
Horn mountains, whither they could send their squaws if 
need be, and make their own escape perfectly safe from 
pursuit amid their frowning battlements. 

It was near this their chosen vantage ground, insolent 
and defiant in their conscious strength, that the yelling 
savage hosts of Sitting Bull, in all their gaudy panoply, 
and fairly bristling with the most approved arms, closed 
around and blotted out of existence, by sheer force of 
numbers, Custer and five troops of his beloved Seventh — 
soldiers as valiant and brave as ever bestrode a horse or 
shouldered a carbine. 


On the morning of May 15th, the second column of the 
Yellowstone Expedition, with Brig. -Gen. Terry in command 
of all the forces, numbering in the aggregate about 1,200 


men, and 1,400 animals, left Fort Abraham Lincoln to join 
in the campaign against the hostile Sioux. 

As the long line of cavalry, infantry, artillery, mounted 
scouts, pack mules, ponies, with the long train of supply 
wagons, marched out from the garrison, conspicuous at the 
head of the column might be seen Gen. Custer — every 
inch a soldier — and the gallant Seventh Cavalry with the 
twelve companies of splendidly disciplined troopers, 
mounted on their glossy, prancing, well-trained horses, the 
sheen of their carefully polished accoutrements gleaming 
brightly in the morning sun, making, methinks, to any 
lover of military display, a pageant worth going a long 
distance to see. 

These brave soldiers and their heroic leader, while fully 
realizing the hardships and dangers which lay before 
them, and being inured to the hardships of Indian cam- 
paigns, with resolute faces and courageous hearts, confident 
of success — for had not the very name. Seventh Cavalry, 
been ever a synonym of victory, — pressed forward to 
defeat and death. Ah ! did no thought or premonition, no 
vision of the awful calamity that awaited them on the bluffs, 
overlooking the picturesque valley of the Little Big Horn, 
come to them meanwhile? We cannot know. But let us 
follow their movements along their line of march thither, 
till the curtain drops, behind which the closing scene of the 
drama was enacted. 

On the 20th of May, after four days' march, the expedi- 
tion reached the Little Missouri river, about forty-six miles 
distant from Fort Lincoln, where a halt of one day was 
made for the purpose of ascertaining the truth or falsity of 
rumors current at the fort, that hostiles were gathered 
in large force on that stream and prepared to give 

Gen. Custer, with four companies of cavalry, a number 
of scouts, himself acting as guide, rode up the valley of 
the Little Muddy about twenty miles and back, without 
finding Indians or even any recent trace of them, which 


settled the question of Indians thereabouts beyond doubt. 
However, as the savages were liable to be encountered at 
any time, scouts were kept constantly employed scouring 
the country in advance, and on the flanks of the column all 
alona: its line of march. 

Traveling directly westward, over a country then before 
untraveled by white men, the command reached the Powder 
river, about twenty miles above its mouth, June 9th, from 
which point the expedition marched northward down the 
river, through the almost impassable Bad Lands, — at first 
regarded as altogether impracticable for wagons, — to its 
mouth, where the nearly exhausted supply of rations and 
forage was replenished from the loaded boats, which had 
steamed up the Yellowstone for that purpose. From this 
point, a large scouting party and several troops of cavalry 
under Major Keno, were sent out in advance to discover, 
if possible, some trace or trail leading to the rendezvous of 
the hostiles, who were supposed to be not very far away. 

After three days for rest and recuperation, on the 15th 
of June, Gen. Custer, with six companies of cavalry, the 
Gatling battery, scouts and pack mules, moved west from 
the mouth of Powder river, — leaving all unnecessary 
incumbrances, such as wagons, tents, etc., behind — to the 
mouth of Tongue river, about forty miles distant, reach- 
ing that point on the evening of the 16th, Gen. Terry and 
staff following up the Yellowstone by steamer. From the 
mouth of Tongue river the column then continued its 
course westward to the mouth of the Rosebud, about mid- 
way between the Tongue and Big Horn rivers, which was 
reached on June 20th. 

While in camp, at the mouth of the Rosebud, the scout- 
ing party returned and reported that the trail and deserted 
camp of a village of 380 lodges, indicating a force not less 
than 1,200 in all, had been discovered; also reporting that 
the Indians could have been overtaken in thirty-six hours, 
as the trail appeared to be not more than a week old. 

Had this scouting party of perhaps more than 500 well- 


equipped soldiers and scouts, at once pressed forward oa 
this fresh trail, instead of returning to the main division of 
the column, thereby losing much valuable time, the entire 
village, it is believed, would have been overtaken, surprised 
and captured, and thus, perchance, the terrible fate of 
Custer and his gallant command might have been averted. 
Evidently this failure to follow up the Indians placed Cus- 
ter in great jeopardy, by giving the hostiles an intimation 
of his near approach, and giving them time to reach and 
join the forces on the Little Horn, and also opportunity 
to mature plans for effective offensive or defensive 

All plans being arranged, and preparations made, at noon 
of June 22d, — only three short days before the fatal 
battle, — our Gen. Custer with his gallant Seventh, his force 
of Ree and Crow scouts, and pack mules for carrying the 
necessary rations, moved bravely on up the valley of the 
Rosebud, hopeful of accomplishing great results ; confident 
of achieving an easy and speedy victory over a small village 
of only 1,200 Indians. Fatal mistake ! 

Gen. Terry with the regiment of infantry and Gen. 
Gibbons' command, was to proceed up the river as far as 
the steamer could go, and then march to the point where 
he could co-operate with Gen. Custer. 

Taking up the trail where the scouting party had turned 
back, Custer cautiously followed it up over the divide be- 
tween the Rosebud and Big Horn rivers, preceded by his 
faithful and trusty scouts, who kept up a line of communi- 
cation with the advancing column. The Crows soon 
became aware that they were nearing the dreaded Sioux — 
they could scent their natural enemies from afar. 

At about 11 o'clock on the night of the 24th, in response 
to " officers' call," all troop commanders assembled at the 
headquarters of the commanding general and received 
marching orders — important information had been brought 
in, making it necessary to move forward at once — the 
hostile village had been precisely located by the scouts. 


The bugle call of " boots and saddles" was sounded and 
the sleepy troopers were soon in their saddles, and on their 
tortuous march through the brakes of the Wolf mountains, 
never halting until the morning. 

The 25th, the fatal day of the battle, dawned delightfully ; 
the run rose in brightness resplendent — the sun whose 
last slanting rays were to cast their mellow beams athwart 
a scene, such as the world has rarely, if ever, witnessed. 
As the day advanced and the command were nearing the 
enemy, Custer ordered that no trumpet call be sounded 
except in an emergency ; and instructed his officers to keep 
their respective troops within supporting distance of each 
other— not to get ahead of the scouts, nor linger too far 
in the rear. He told them in impressive words how much 
he relied upon their discretion and judgment, and above all 
upon their loyalty whatever might come. His tone and 
manner was gentle and subdued, with none of the usual 
brusqueness that characterized Gen. Custer. Was not the 
dark shadow of their coming doom brooding over him? 

The 3,000 fighting warriors w^ere by this time fully aware 
of the proximity of the long-haired chief and his handful 
of soldiers, and their spies were, even then, lying prostrate 
on the opposite slopes of the bluffs watching the advanc- 
ing column over their crests. Before noon of that day, 
the command had crossed the divide, when Custer divided 
his regiment into three battalions, which before 1 o'clock 
were ready to advance along the lines indicated in their 
orders, against the enemy. 

Capt. Benteen's battalion of three troops, consisting 
of troop " H," Capt. Benteen; troop " D," Capt. Wier; 
troop " K," Lieut. Godfrey ; were ordered to a line of high 
bluffs on the left of the trail, three or four miles distant, 
to reconnoiter the field and prevent the escape of the 
Indians in that direction, and report the situation to the 
commanding general, and fight if necessary. 

Major Reno in command of the advance battalion, com- 
posed of troop " M," Capt. French; troop " A," Capt. 


Moylan ; troop " G," Lieuts. Mcintosh and Wallace, under 
orders to charge the village, followed the trail, crossed the 
river at the ford, and marched his troops down towards the 
enemy, massed along the left bank of the Little Horn. 

Gen. Custer with his battalion of five troops, viz.: 
troop " I," Capt. Keogh and Lieut. Porter; troop " F," 
Capt. Yates and Lieut. Riley; troop *' C," Capt. Tom Custer 
and Lieut. Harrington; troop " E," Lieuts. Smith and 
Sturgis; troop " L," Lieuts. Calhoun and Crittenden; 
with scouts, numbering all told not more than 300 men, 
prepared to take his position on the bluffs to the right, at 
the lower end of the village. 

For the last time those brave boys in blue cheerfully 
responded to the inspiring trumpet call of '* mount." Once 
more in obedience to the bugle call, sweet and clear, of 
" Forward, March ! " they rode bravely along the trail of 
the savages until near the ford, then up onto the bluffs to 
the right, overlooking the Little Horn. " Boldly they 
rode and well, into the jaws of — " but, the curtain drops. 
Well, what then? The sequel and scene of conflict tell us 
that, in a brief space, there was a short, fierce, terrible 
battle — the true details of which can never be known. 
We only know that not one of that gallant three hundred 
ever rode back to rehearse the story of Custer's last battle. 
The annihilation was complete. Ah! that was not all. 
What did the fiends incarnate then do? It is not at all 
difficult to conceive and draw a mental picture of their work. 
We can plainly see in the picture a burly savage — malig- 
nant hate portrayed in every lineament of his ugly painted 
face, with glistening blade in hand, bending low over each 
prostrate form — perchance, many not yet dead. We can 
see the reeking scalp of each separate victim waved exult- 
antly in the air, and now we can see them stripped of their 
clothing and their pockets rifled. We can see the murder- 
ous bandits flitting about all over the battle-ground among 
the dead, in a general scramble after the arms and accou- 
trements of the dead soldiers, which, with such few horses 


ns had escaped the awful carnage, are handed over to the 
squaws and other non-combatants ; and lastly, we can see 
them mount their ponies and ride in hot haste, and red- 
handed, to attack the beleaguered battalions on the bluffs 
above. It did not take them long to accomplish all this, 
as there were legions of them, and, moreover, the picture 
is not overdrawn, but literally true. 

The following particulars of the movements of Major 
Reno and Capt. Benteen in their two days' fight on the 
Little Big Horn, are gleaned partly from official reports, 
and partly from an article on the subject by Lieut. 
Godfrey, one of Custer's troop commanders in Capt. Ben- 
teen's battalion. As Lieut. Godfrey was a participant in 
the battles, he is entitled to be regarded as unquestionable 
authority on the subject. 

The story, shorn of all unnecessary details, is substan- 
tially as follows : — 

Major Reno, after crossing the ford, moved his column 
down the valley of the Little Horn, in a line skirting the 
timber for perhaps two miles, then formed his battalion 
into a skirmish line, extending out from the timber across 
the valley — with the Ree scouts on the left, and advanced 
down toward the Indian village. The Indians who had 
rode up the valley to meet the soldiers, made a pretext of 
retreating — developing strength meanwhile, and firing 
occasional shots. Suddenly, at the opportune time, they 
made a bold dash on Reno's left flank, forcing his command 
back into the timber on the river bank, and putting the 
Ree scouts to an ignominious flight. It is told that the 
cowardly Rees fled precipitately — never stopping until 
they reached the supply camp, at the mouth of the Powder 

Reno, not seeing Custer within supporting distance, did 
not obey the order to charge the village, but, being forced 
back on the defensive in the timber, ordered his troops to 
dismount and fight the enemy on foot. His position — 
sheltered by the timber, and protected to an extent by the 



river bank, was a good one, and it is thought could have 
been maintained for a long time without serious loss, 
Howbeit the Indians surrounded the command on every 
side, and sent their death-dealing missiles fast and furious 
into their ranks. Major Reno — on finding himself bespat- 
tered with the blood of his faithful scout (Bloody Knife), 
who fell riddled at his side, and hemmed in by overpower- 
ing numbers, at least five to one — gave the order to 
" mount and get to the bluffs," but owing to the noise of 
battle and the confusion, the order was not heard or not 
understood. It would appear that the troops were becom- 
ing sadly demoralized. The order of " mount and get to 
the bluffs " was repeated, and again not understood, and 
not until one of the troop commanders standing near 
Reno, communicated the order to the other troops, was it 

The command then, for the most part, mounted and 
made a hasty retreat across the river at a lower ford, and 
without the least semblance of military order, scrambled 
up the bluffs on the right. While crossing the river a 
number were shot — among them was the brave Capt. 
Hodgson, who, when he fell from his horse into the river,, 
cried out in despairing tones, ** For God's sake don't leave 
me here." At that moment a soldier held out the stirrup 
of his saddle and told him to take hold of it. Grasping 
the stirrup, he was dragged through the water to the oppo- 
site side, but when climbing the bank of the stream, he 
was struck by another ball and fell back into the water. 
An attempt was afterwards made to recover his body, but 
without success. 

When scaling the bluff, it became apparent that but few 
of the Indians had followed up Reno's retreat, for reasons 
which soon became manifest. How long Reno's fight in 
the timber lasted is uncertain, as estimates of the time 
vary; probably, however, not more than twenty or thirty 
minutes. Reno's casualties, nearly all of which occurred 
during the retreat, were three officers, thirteen enlisted 


men and scouts killed; one officer, one interpreter and 
fourteen soldiers and scouts missing. 

Soon after Reno's disorderly retreat to the bluffs, he 
was joined by Benteen's battalion, followed by the pack 
train on their way to join Custer. At that time Capt. 
Benteen, the hero of the Little Big Horn, first learned of 
Reno's fight and defeat in the valley. Just about the time 
of this junction of Reno and Benteen, it was discovered 
that the Indians for the greater part had abandoned the pur- 
suit of Reno's retreating troops, but upon looking down 
the river it was seen that the bottom was swarming with 
mounted warriors, riding excitedly to and fro, evidently in 
great consternation; soon they were seen to ride swiftly 
down the valley out of sight. 

It was at this very time that the Indians, having been 
warned of the appearance of more soldiers farther down 
the bluffs, surrounded and utterl}^ annihilated Custer and 
his men. 

It seems inexplicable, and only upon the hypothesis that 
they feared the movement of the Indians might be a ruse 
to decoy them from their point of vantage, that no con- 
certed movement of the two battalions was made, at the 
time of this diversion, to reach Custer. In view of the 
facts, however, such a theory becomes liaseless, as they 
obviously knew that a battle was in progress on the bluffs 
below; they knew that Custer was having a fight with the 
Indians, for, says Mayor Reno in his official report : 
" Almost at the same time I reached the top (of the 
bluff), mounted men were seen to be coming towards us, 
and it proved to be Capt. Benteen's battalion H, D, and K. 
We joined forces and in a short time the pack train came 
up. Still hearing nothing of Custer, and with this re- 
inforcement I moved down the river in the direction of the 
village keeping on the bluffs. We heard firing in that 
direction and knew it could be only Custer. I moved to 
the summit of the highest bluff, and seeing and hearing 
nothing, sent Capt. Wier with his company to open com- 
munication with the command. He soon sent back word 


by Lieut. Hare that he could go no farther. I at once 
turned everything back to the fir^t position, and which 
seemed to me best." 

Capt. Benteen on learning that Capt. Wier and his bat- 
talion had, without orders, gone down the river with his 
troops, moved the other two troops of his command down 
the river in the direction Capt. Wier had gone, and from 
the top of the high bluff got his first view of the Indian 
village, and discovered Wier's troops in full retreat fol- 
lowed closely by the Sioux. What could a single company 
of calvary do against hundreds of armed savages? 

It is plain then that it was after the junction of Reno's 
and Benteen's battalions, that the Custer battle was in prog- 
ress, and not simultaneously with Reno's fight in the valley, 
as is supposed by some. Yes, they knew that Custer was 
having a fight with the Indians; shot after shot was heard 
from the direction of Custer's battle-ground, perhaps a 
little more than two miles below. What did those shots 
mean? They meant that Custer was having a fierce conflict 
with the red hosts that drove Reno in disorder to the bluffs 
a half hour before. Then again they heard two distinct 
volleys in rapid succession. What did those volleys mean? 
They meant that Custer was in deadly peril — a signal to 
the soldiers he had so often led to victory to hasten 
without delay to his support. 

Custer's last desperate appeal reached the ears of the five 
or six hundred soldiers above, but no response came. Alas, 
the opportune time soon passed, for in less than one hour 
the Indians, flushed with their bloody victory, were hasten- 
ing to drive them from their position ob the bluffs. 

Had the officer superior in command rallied the entire 
forces to his support, at the sound of the first shot from 
Custer's field, he would have won and deserved immortal 
honors. Strange as it appears, they seemed to feel no appre- 
hension that Custer was in any real danger, believing that 
he was perfectly able to take care of himself, but how they 
could think so in view of Reno's disaster a short time before 
is somewhat puzzling. 

GKNHkAL Custer's last chai:ge. 


It is believed, upon the very unsatisfactory information 
drawn from Indians who took part in the battle, that the 
ammunition of some of Caster's troops became exhausted, 
that two of his troops had dismounted to do battle on foot, 
and that their horses, made frantic by the waving of 
blankets and the yelling of the Indians, had been stampeded, 
bearing away with them the reserve ammunition in the 


It will be understood that when Benteen jomed Keno 
on the bluffs, he was on his way with the pack train to 
join Custer, in obedience to an urgent order — Custer's 
last order-which read as follows: "Benteen, come 
quick! Big Village ; Bring packs. Cook, Adjutant. P. S. 
Brintr packs." This order would indicate, that from some 
favorable point he had discovered the full strength of 
the Indian village, and realizing that the situation was 
desperate, had sent for reinforcements, and more am- 

About the time that Reno was moving in line down the 
valley toward the Indian village, some of his men saw 
Custer and a few of his battalion, standing dismounted on 
a bluff, cheering and waving their hats as if giving en- 
couravrement to Reno's men; and that was the last seen of 
him or any of his men, until found dead on the battlefield. 
It is said, that the bluff where Custer was last seen was 
the one to which Reno escaped with his demoralized troops 
about an hour later. 

The Indians, after the Custer battle, returned red- 
handed to the siege of the bluff, with a determination to 
wipe out, if possible, by virtue of numbers, the residue of 
the regiment. In brief, the Indians in a very short time 
gained^possession of the surrounding points of vantage, and 
began to pour deadly shot, thick and fast, into the ranks of 
the soldiers, who, being on the defensive, could do little 
more than to maintain their positions ; making occasional 
bold sorties to drive back the besiegers whenever they 
became too aggressive. When night came, the Indians, by 
that time in possession of all the surrounding hills, had the 


two commands completely environed, and had not darkness 
intervened to put a stop to further hostilities that night, 
they would, in all probability, have shared the fate of 

That night, after the battle was over, the united tribes of 
Indians held high carnival in the village below, in savage 
celebration of their bloody victory — nor did they in the 
least try to conceal their unbounded joy. 

Hundreds of huge bonfires were built through the village, 
and what with the continuous discharge of firearms (they 
had plenty of ammunition), the beating of tomtoms; wild 
exultant whooping and yelling, scalp-dancing, etc., pande- 
monium reigned supreme. All the night through they 
kept up their savage orgies in which, it is thought, human 
heads were paraded, — as several were found afterwards 
severed from the bodies. They were working themselves 
up to a pitch of frenzy that boded no quarter on the mor- 
row to the weary men on the bluffs, who could from their 
position hear and see neurly the whole fantastic proceed- 
ing, —not a very inspiring spectacle under the circum- 
stances, one would think. 

When the fighting had ceased for the night, and the 
Indians had for the greater part withdrawn to the village, 
scouts were dispatched to find some trace of Custer's com- 
mand, but they soon returned, reporting that the country 
was full of "Sioux." By this time, when they could 
breathe more freely, and think more rationally, everybody 
beoan to wonder what had become of Custer. " What's 
the matter with Custer?" " Why don't he send us word 
what he wants us to do?" All sorts of speculations were 
indulged in, and all kinds of theories advanced but the 
true one. The general opinion expressed was that he had 
had a battle, was repulsed, and had gone down the river to 
meet Terry, and would soon return to their relief. 

The most intense excitement prevailed among the troops 
on the bluffs. A curious hallucination, in which there is 
something inexpressibly pathetic, took possession of the 
men — arising doubtless from the excessive mental and 


physical strain of the day past. Some imagined they could 
see, in the refracted light of the numerous Indian bonfires 
on the opposite bluffs, columns of troops advancing over 
the ridges ; they fancied they could hear, amid the din and 
/ confusion of their savage orgies, the tramping of horses, 
the command of officers, and even the trumpeter's call. 
So confident were some that either Gen. Crook or Gen- 
Terry's command was approaching, that guns were fired, 
and "stable call" sounded to let them know their exact 
position, and that they were friends. 

One man mounted a horse and galloped along the line, 
crying, " Don't be discouraged, boys, Crook is coming! " 
Poor fellows, it was but a phantasy ; no reinforcements 
came to their support for the morrow's battle. 

Realizing that with the dawn of day the Indians would 
return to the siege, the whole of that terrible night was 
spent in making preparations for their defense. The 
soldiers were put to work digging trenches, and as there 
were but few shovels and spades in the command, all kinds 
of implements, axes, hatchets, halves of canteens, tin cups, 
and even table knives and forks were brought into service. 

Long before the sun had tipped the distant mountain 
peaks, and while the tired soldiers were yet digging in the 
trenches, the Indians opened fire upon them, — a few 
straggling shots at first, but as the day advanced they 
were heavily reinforced, and the firing became more gen- 
eral, fierce and furioU'S, but not as effective as the savages 
could wish for, as many of the troops were then in their 
rifle pits. Finding their shots were being to a great ex- 
tent wasted, they adopted the policy of trying to exhaust 
the ammunition of their opponents, by a few cunning 
devices designed to invite the fire of the troops. The first 
invitation was to stand as a target, in full view, for a min- 
ute, and then drop suddenly out of sight, which they soon 
found to be a rather dangerous experiment; then they tried 
the ruse of raising a hat and blanket on a stick or pole, 
but the soldiers of the Seventh Cavalry had fought Indians 
too often to be deceived by such old fashioned tactics. 


In brief, a continuous fusillade was kept up on both sides, 
with an occasional volley from the Indians, for the greater 
part of the day. 

Some brilliant sorties were made by troop commanders 
of Benteen's command, which it would appear was most 
exposed to the fire of the Indians, who made numerous 
attempts to run into his lines. At one time Benteen made 
a bold charge against an aggressive party of Indians, driving 
them nearly to the river. 

At about one o'clock p. m. when the situation was most 
critical, the ammunition being nearly exhausted, the Indians 
for the most part withdrew. 

Up to this time this soldiers, having been entirely cut off 
from the river, had suffered intensely with thirst. Their 
tongues had become parched and swollen, their lips were 
cracked and bleeding ; every drop of moisture in the glands 
of the body having been absorbed. In the hope of finding 
relief they resorted to chewing grass roots, but without ef- 
fect. As a last resort, raw potatoes were sparingly doled 
out to the famished men, which in small measure lessened 
their terrible suffering. The sickening stench from the 
rapidly decomposing dead added to the horrors of the situa- 
tion. The wounded and the dying — ah, pitying heaven ! — 
lay under the burning rays of a pitiless sun, begging in 
vain for a drop of water to cool their fevered tongues. 
Dr. Porter, the army surgeon, never leaving his post of 
duty, moved like a ministering spirit from one to another 
of his suffering patients, doing what he could, but without 
a drop of water with which to cleanse their bleeding wounds. 

Numerous attempts had been made by volunteers to 
reach the water but they were as often driven back by a 
rain of bullets from the Indians, who were ever on the 
alert. Capt. Benteen once made a bold charge to the river 
under the protection of a skirmish line exposed to a 
galling fire, in response to the piteous appeal of the 
wounded soldiers, which brave act alone is suflScient to 
render his name immortal for all time. 


At about 2 p. m. the Indians returned to the attack, 
driving the soldiers again into the trenches. They kept 
up a kind of desultory firing until about 3 o'clock p. m. 
when they withdrew altogether. 

Later in the afternoon a few horsemen appeared in the 
valley below and set fire to the grass, and at 7 o'clock 
they were seen to emerge from behind the cloud of smoke 
and move in an immense mass across the plateau between 
the two Horns towards the Big Horn Mountains. Had they 
abandoned the siege for good, or was it another ruse? 
Perhaps they were moving their squaws, papooses and non- 
combatants away to a safe distance, intending to return 
with all their fighting warriors for a last desperate attempt 
to drive the soldiers from their intrenchments. Perchance 
information of the near approach of Terry's and Gibbon's 
commands with Gen. Custer's battalion had been heralded 
to them and they were hurrying away to the fastnesses of 
the mountains to avoid them. These were the various 
theories suggested in reference to the last movement of the 
Indians. As the sequel proved, the latter theory was the 
true one in all save that Custer and his battalion were not 
of them. 

The two days' fight resulted in the loss of eighteen killed 
and fifty-two wounded. 

The commands, doubtful as to the real intentions of the 
Indians, remained in their position that night. At about 9 
o'clock the next morning, June 27th, the third day after 
the Custer battle, their attention was attracted by a cloud 
of dust rising in the distance down the valley. The first 
thought was that the Indians were returning for a last 
desperate attack. The tired soldiers again began to make 
hurried preparations for the expected battle. Soon, how- 
ever, they became satisfied that the approaching forces 
were soldiers, and not Indians, as their march seemed 
altogether too slow for the dashing savages. 

After nearly an hour of suspense, the cavalcade appeared 
in sight. No gray-horse troop was to be seen in the column ; 


SO it could not be Terry, or Custer would be with him. 
Then it must be Crook's command. Cheer after cheer was 
given for Gen. Crook who was coming to their relief. 
They had not yet learned that Crook's command had been 
placed hors de combat on the headwaters of the Rosebud 
ten days before. 

They were not long kept in uncertainty, for soon a scout 
came into their lines bearing a note from Gen. Terry 
to Custer dated June 26th, which stated that two Crow 
scouts had given information that his (Custer's) column 
had been whipped and nearly all killed, but that he did not 
believe their story and was coming with medical aid. The 
scout told that he had tried to get within their lines the 
night before, but could not as the Indians were on the alert. 

Let it be understood here that no attack of the Indian 
village on the 25th was contemplated in the plan of opera- 
tions nor anticipated by Custer, but finding himself con- 
fronted by the enemy sooner than expected, he felt com- 
pelled to make the attack on that day, or allow the Indians 
to escape. 

Soon after an officer of Terry's command came into their 
lines, and the first question asked of him was: " Where is 

" I don't know," replied the officer, but I suppose he 
was killed. We counted 197 dead bodies as we passed the 
battle-ground, and I don't suppose any escaped." 

That was the first intimation they had received of Custer's 
fate nearly two whole days and nights after the battle. 

" Gen. Terry and staff, and officers of Gen. Gibbon's 
command, soon approached and their coming was greeted 
with prolonged cheers. 

" The grave countenance of the General awed the men to 
silence. The officers assembled to meet their guests. There 
was scarcely a dry eye; hardly a word was spoken, but 
quivering lips and hearty grasping of hands, gave token of 
thankfulness for the relief, and grief for the misfortune," 
relates Lieut. Godfrey. 


On that evening, the 27th, the dead, killed in Reno's two 
days' fight, were buried ; the wounded were removed to the 
camp of Gen. Terry, where they could receive the treat- 
ment and care of which they were in such sore need. 

On the morning of the 28th the soldiers left the bluffs 
to bury the dead of Custer's command. Let us precede 
them, and view the scene where the heroes fell ; — the 
scene of Custer's last battle. 

Let us march in sad and silent procession, down the 
valley two miles (perhaps more) and climb the first con- 
siderable bluff on the right of the Little Horn, and about 
a half mile therefrom and there — ah, what a sickening, 
grewsome spectacle meets the horrified gaze ! All over the 
battle-ground lay the nude, mutilated bodies of the dead 
soldiers ; officers and men, rider and horse, all lying in 
promiscuous blending; some with faces upturned to the 
blue and smiling sky; others, with faces prone to the 
earth, as if biting the dust; some wearing an expression of 
sweet, restful peace; others a pained, horrified expression ; 
many mutilated bej^ond recognition. Heaps of exploded 
cartridges lay thickly strewn over the battle-ground. 

On the hill known as " Custer's Hill," where the gal- 
lant commander with three of his troops evidently made 
their last determined stand, we find Custer, victor in many 
a previous hard-fought Indian battle, with a bullet hole in 
his temple, and another through his body, but with no 
other marks of disfigurement. A little distance away — 
we hardly recognize the face so horribly mutilated, of the 
brave, large-hearted Tom Custer, and hard by lies the 
young, inexperienced Boz, (Boston Custer), whom his 
brother, the General, so much delighted to tease — and 
the mother's darling. God pity her. 

A little to the left of Cust-er's field is " Crittenden's 
Hill," where the dismounted troops of Calhoun and Keogh 
desperately fought and fell — where the same sad spec- 
tacle confronts us. Some of the dead are found down near 
the river ; these, it is thought, were trying to make their 


escape, or, perhaps, had been dispatched as messengers to 
Reno's command on the bluff above. This, however, is 
wholly conjectural. 

The terrible mutilation of the body of Capt. Tom Cus- 
ter is laid at the door of the monster Rain-in-the-Faee, 
who had sworn to be avenged on the gallant officer, who 
had the courage to arrest him for the crime of murderinof 
two defenseless men near Fort Lincoln. Upon an occa- 
sion, when Rain-in-the-Face was drawing his ration at his 
agency, Capt. Custer stepped up behind him, pinned down 
his arms and manacled him, in the presence of hundreds of 
Indians ; had him taken to Fort Lincoln and placed in 
prison. He afterwards made his escape, vowing that he 
would tear out and eat the heart of his brave captor at the 
first opportunity. That he fulfilled to the letter the first 
part of his vow is known, and that he fulfilled the latter is 

Among those killed on Reno's retreat from the valley 
was Charlie Reynolds, one of Custer's long tried and most 
trusted scouts. It is related that the brave fellow sold his 
life very dearly. After exhausting the cartridges, in both 
his gun and revolver, he was seen to deal such a fierce blow 
with the latter, on the head of an Indian, in close combat, 
that it broke, thus leaving him at the mercy of the enemy. 
He soon fell shuttered by a volley of bullets. 

Reynolds was with Custer on his expedition into the 
Black Hills in 1874, at which time he was sent with dis- 
patches from the Cheyenne river to Fort Laramie, through 
the hostile country, enduring hardships and privations, 
from which he never fully recover. 

His early life was wrapped in complete mystery. If he 
had a secret that darkened his life, as some suspected, 
he guarded it well, as he skillfully evaded all questions, 
even from his most intimate friends, referring to his 

All of the slain were buried on the battle-ground where 
they fell — ground afterwards (in 1879) set apart by the 


government as a national cemetery, where an imposing 
monument was erected to the memory of the dead. 

In August, 1879, Gen. Custer's remains were removed 
from their temporary resting-place and buried with impos- 
ing honors at West Point, N. Y., where they now repose, 
almost in the shadow of the buildings where he was 
trained in the science and tactics of civilized warfare. 

Custer's body appears to have been the only one to es- 
cape mutilation. Whether the sacrilegious hands of the 
savages were stayed by a sentiment of admiration for the 
wonderful bravery of the fair-haired chief, or by a super- 
stitious fear of the wrath of the great Manitou, is a matter 
for speculation. 

It is related that Chief Gall, on being questioned as to 
the reason why Custer was not scalped, said: "No one 
knew him from anyone else. His hair was cut short, and 
we could not tell him from any other." 

This statement, however, seems highly improbable, as he 
had often been seen by muny of the Indian chiefs engaged 
in the battle, and also wore the uniform of his rank, which 
in itself would distinguish him from any of the others. 

Rude stretchers were soon constructed to convey the 
wounded of Reno's two-days' battle to the forks of the Big 
Horn — a distance of perhaps twenty miles — where they 
were placed on board the steamer Far West, which con- 
veyed them to Fort Abraham Lincoln, with the news of the 
awful disaster to the gallant Seventh Regiment. 





News traveled slowly in 1876, before the advent of rail- 
roads in the Northwest, and was long reaching the people 
of the Black Hills. All information of the movements of 
the forces sent out against the hostiles hud then to be 
carried either down the Missouri by steamer to Eastern 
points, or across a long stretch of country over the trails 
west of the Hills, to Fort Laramie, thence by mail to the 
Black Hills; so, not until about the 10th of July did the 
awful tidings, that crushed the hearts and blotted all 
brightness out of the lives of the anxious wailing wives of 
the slain heroes of the Little Big Horn, reach them at 
Fort Lincoln; and not till ten days later did the shocking 
news, that meant so much to the people of the Black Hills, 
reach Deadwood (the center of population in the Hills 
in 1876), and other points in direct communication with 
the outer world. 

The intelligence came to the people of the Hills like a 
mighty blow from an unseen hand — stunning, striking them 
dumb by its very suddenness. At first, many refused to 
believe the shocking story. That Custer had met with 
reverses they admitted was probable, that his entire bat- 
talion had been annihilated was not believed possible. 
However, as the source from which the information 
emanated left little room for question, soon all doubt of 
the truth of the story vanished. All were in a state of 
intense excitement in the city of Deadwood. An extra of 
the Pioneer was speedily struck off, and distributed along 
Deadwood, Whitewood, and tributary gulches. That great 
throbbing, busy mining camp, with its thousands of cosmo- 


politan population, was stirred to the depths, from center 
to circumference, as tlie news spread from claim to claim. 

The scene presented along the main street of Dead wood, 
on the evening of that day, when the miners gathered in 
from all the neighboring gulches, was one not soon to be 
forgotten. The excited, swaying, jostling masses, surging 
to and fro on both sides of the long, narrow street ; the 
eager groups of men gathered at the doors of numerous 
business houses in excited discussion of the terrible dis- 
aster, gave evidence of how deeply and universally the 
people of the Hills of all classes were touched by the unex- 
pected calamity. Even the many gambling resorts that 
lined the street were silent for the nonce; the roulette 
tables, the faro banks, and other games had lost their 
fascination, and the click, click, clicking of the chips fell 
not for a brief time on the accustomed ear — alas, how 
brief ! 

The story of Custer's tragic death soon reached the 
remote mining camps scattered through the Hills, and no 
doubt the eyes of many a hardy miner and prospector in 
their lone huts under the shadow of the Hills, grew moist 
at the revelation, for many of the early prospectors knew 
him well, and loved him. 

Mingled with the general expression of sorrow and 
regret at the fate of Custer and his men, were bitter 
denunciations of the dilatory policy of the government in 
dealing with the Indians, thereby permitting the lives and 
property of the people of the Hills to be jeopardized. 

The Indian campaign had, thus far, proved barren of 
good results. Crook's column had been reversed; Terry's 
column had met with dire disaster; Sitting Bull and his 
warriors had escaped to the mountains, bearing with them 
the trophies of victory. The hedge of security that had 
temporarily been thrown around the Black Hills had been 
pulled down and torn up by the roots, leaving their borders 
exposed to the ravages of the savage hordes, who, the 
people feared, might any day swoop down from the moun- 


tains upon the exposed settlements *' like wolves on the 
fold." And our worst fears were in a large measure real- 
ized, for soon after, returning bands of the hostiles began 
again to ply their work of murder and theft in and around 
the Hills, frequently making bold dashes right into the 
limits of thickly-settled communities, driving off stock be- 
fore the eyes of their owners, and killing whenever it was 
possible. For two months during the summer of 1876, 
notwithstanding the excellent organizations for protection 
and defense, the people of the Hills were terrorized by the 
boldness of their operations, which will be specially 
referred to further on in this work. 

The following verses, couched in the expressive dialect 
of the plains, from the pen of an early Black Hills pioneer, 
Capt. Jack Crawford, the " poet scout," to his friend, 
Buffalo Bill, a brother scout, lamenting the sad fate of 
Custer, under whom they both served, is well worth pre- 
serving, not only on account of its merits, and the popu- 
larity of the author, but as a specimen of real Black Hills 
literature : — 

Did I hear the news from Custer? 
Well, I reckon I did, old pard. 
It came like a streak o' lightning, 

And you bet, it hit me hard. 
I ain't no hand to blubber, 

And the briny ain't run for years, 
But chalk me down for a lubber 
If I didn't shed regular tears. 


What for? Now, look ye here. Bill; 

You're a bully boy, that's true. 
As good as ever wore buckskin. 

Or fought vv'ith the boys in blue. 
But I'll bet my bottom dollar, 

Ye had no trouble to muster 


A tear, or perhaps a hundred, 

When ye heard of the death of Custer. 


He always thought well of you, pard ; 

And, had it been Heaven's will. 
In a few more days you'd met him, 

And he'd welcome his old scout Bill ; 
For, if you remember, at Hat Creek 

I met ye with General Carr, 
We talked of the brave young Custer, 

And recounted his deeds of war. 


But still, we knew even then, pard. 

And that's just two weeks ago. 
How little we dreamed of disaster. 

Or that he had met the foe. 
That the fearless, reckless hero. 

So loved by the whole frontier. 
Had died on the field of battle. 

In this, our Centennial year. 

I served with him in the army. 

In the darkest days of the war, 
And I reckon, ye know his record, 

For he was our guiding star. 
And the boys who gathered round him 

To charge in the early morn, 
War' jest like the brave who perished 

With him on the Little Horn. 


And where is the satisfaction, 

And how are we going to get square? 



By giving the reds more rifles? 

Inviting them to take more hair? 
We want no scouts, no trappers, 

No men who know the frontier, 
Phil, old boy, you're mistaken, 

You must have the volunteer. 


Never mind that 200,000, 

But give us 100 instead. 
Send 5,000 men toward Reno, 

And soon we won't leave you a red. 
It will save Uncle Sam lots of money, 

In fortress we need not invest. 
Just wallop the devils this summer, 

And the miners will do all the rest. 

The Black Hills is now filled with miners. 

The Big Horn will soon be as full, 
And which will present the most danger 

To Crazy Horse and Old Sitting Bull — 
A band of 10,000 frontiersmen. 

Or a couple of forts, with a few 
Of the boys in the East, now enlisting? 

Friend Cody, I leave it with you. 


They talk about peace with the demons, 

By feeding and clothing tbein well, 
I'd as soon think an angel from heaven 

Would reign with contentment in hell. 
And some day these Quakers will answer. 

Before the great Judge of all 
For the death of daring young Custer, 

And the boys that around him did fall. 




Perhaps, I am judging them harshly? 

But I mean what I'm telling ye, pard, 
I'm letting them down mighty easy, 

Perhaps, they may think it is hard, 
But I tell you the day is approaching. 

The boys are beginning to muster. 
That day of the great retribution, 

The day of revenge for our Custer. 


And I will be with you, friend Cody, 

My weight will go in with the boys, 
I shared all their hardships last winter, 

I shared all their sorrows and joys. 
So tell them I'm coming, friend William, 

I trust I will meet you ere long, 
Regards to the boys in the mountains, 

Yours truly, in friendship still strong. 


Although the Yellowstone Expedition had, up to that 
time, met only with disaster and defeat, the campaign was 
by no means abandoned. The respective commands of 
Gens. Terry and Crook were soon heavily reinforced, and 
on the thirtieth day of July — a little more than a month 
after the battles of the Little Big Horn — an order was 
received by those officers from Gen. Sheridan to unite their 
forces and move at once against the hostiles gathered on 
the Rosebud. 

In pursuance of instructions from headquarters in Chi- 
cago, on the morning of August 5th, Gen. Crook, with 
the Second, Third, and Fifth Cavalry regiments in com- 
mand of Lieut. 'Col. Carr, and ten companies of the Fourth, 
Ninth, and Fourteenth Infantry under Major Chambers, 


numbering in the aggregate about 2,000 well-equipped sol- 
diers with a force of volunteer and Crow scouts, accom- 
panied by pack trains, set out from his base, on Goose 
creek, to join Gen. Terry, stationed on the Yellowstone. 

The command took up its line of march, down the valley 
of the Tongue river, thence in a northwesterly direction, 
over the intervening mountainous bluffs to the valley of the 
Rosebud, striking the trail over which Custer and his com- 
mand bravely marched to their Waterloo six weeks before. 
On the 10th a junction was effected with Gen. Terry 
about thirty-five miles above the mouth of that stream, but 
as might reasonably have been expected, the birds had 
flown — the wary warriors, anxious to avoid a battle with 
the soldiers, in their somewhat weakened condition, had 
taken flight. It soon became apparent, from the divergent 
trails, after leaving the valley of the Rosebud, that the 
hostile forces had separated into bands, and it subsequently 
developed that Sitting Bull and his adherents had turned 
their steps toward the Canadian border, while Crazy Horse 
and his following had branched out in the general direction 
of the Black Hills. Without loss of time, Gen. Terry's 
Fifth Infantry regiment was countermarched to the Yel- 
lowstone, for the purpose of patrolling the river and inter- 
cepting, if possible, the fleeing savages ; but they were not 
to be caught, as they had made good their escape across 
the river, and were already on their way towards a place 
of refuge on British soil. 

The next day, August 11th, hoping to overtake the hostile 
bands that had fled to the eastward, the combined forces 
crossed the divide, following the trail of the Indians to 
the Tongue river, then down the valley of that stream, for 
two days' march, then over the divide and down the valley 
of Powder river to the Yellowstone, where they arrived on 
the 17th, without sighting a single Indian. 

After their long forced march over the rough divides, 
and down the valleys of the streams, the command, appar- 
ently abandoning all hope of overtaking the enemy, de- 


cided to halt for a few days for rest and recuperation on 
the banks of the Yellowstone. 

On the 24th the united forces moved up the Powder 
river about twenty miles, and on the 26th Gen. Terry re- 
turned with his command to the Yellowstone, while the 
forces of Gen. Crook, fortified with the regular rations of 
hard tack, bacon, etc., for fifteen days, began their terrible 
march eastward across the country, in distant pursuit of 
the fugitive bands. For ten days they plodded along for 
the most time through rain and mud, bivouacking at night 
on the sodden ground; enduring, with the soldier's pro- 
verbial philosophy, all the trying discomforts of the march 
without a murmur, reaching the head of Heart river, on 
the evening of September the 5th. As up this time no 
Indians had been seen, the conclusion was reached that 
they had turned their course in the direction of the Black 
Hills, which conclusion determined the subsequent move- 
ment of the commanding general. 

In the gray of the following morning, September 6th, 
Gen. Crook instead of continuing his course east to Fort 
Lincoln — as some of the weary soldiers hoped he might 
do, being the most available point at which to replenish 
their nearly exhausted supplies, — marched his command 
due south, through a wholly unknown country, crossing the 
Cannon Ball, the two forks of the Grand and the Moreau 
rivers towards the Black Hills, under the most inauspicious 
circumstances. Many of the trails appeared to lead in 
the direction of the Hills, to whose people Gen. Crook, 
fully realizing their imminent peril, was anxious to give 

Gen. Crook's command was at this time in a truly 
deplorable condition. Eatious were well-nigh exhausted; 
officers and men being forced to resort to horseflesh to sat- 
isfy gaunt hunger. Horses became so jaded that many had 
to be abandoned altogether; thus compelling cavalrymen 
to join the ranks of the infantry, who, footsore and weary, 
had often to wade through mud nearly knee-deep, — the 


rain beins; almost incessant durins; the last week of that 
memorable march. Mud and water covered the face of the 
land along the valleys of the streams, and the exhausted 
soldiers were fortunate indeed if they had not to lie in pools 
of water at night — not a very delectable bed for a tired 
body. In short, it may be said that Crook's command suf- 
fered hardships, exposure, and privations during the closing 
days of the summer campaign against the hostiles, rarely 
paralleled in the annals of military marches. Nothing 
daunted, however, by the difficulties in the way, the expe- 
dition marched bravely on as rapidly as the limitations 
would permit. 

Tiring of the monotony of horse steak straight, on the 
night of the 7th of August, Capt. Mills, with 150 of the 
best mounted troopers of the Third Cavalry, was detailed 
to make a dash ahead to the nearest settlements for the 
purpose of procuring supplies for the command. On reach- 
ing the vicinity of Slim Buttes he surprised a village of 
Brule Sioux, under Chief Eoraan Nose, capturing about 400 
ponies and other property, including a quantity of dried 
meat, and making a number of the braves prisoners. 

Among the property found in their possession was a Sev- 
enth Cavalry guidon, a number of saddles and officers' uni- 
forms, the gauntlets of the brave Capt. Keogh, and three 
Seventh Cavalry horses — proof that the band were red- 
handed from the Little Big Horn. 

A courier mounted on the swiftest horse was dispatched 
in hot haste to meet the approaching column, with news of 
the surprise and capture, and a request from Capt. Mills 
that a force be sent with all possible speed to his support, 
as there was danger that the escaped warriors might return 
with reinforcements, sufficient to overpower him. The 
news of the surprise and capture was hailed by the soldiers 
with exceeding delight, and the prospect of having a pas- 
sage with the hostiles inspired them to a high degree of 
enthusiasm — for in truth, they would have preferred more 
fighting: and less marching through the rain and mud — be- 


sides, they felt that they were owing the savages a big 
debt, which they were exceedingly anxious to pay. 

Without delay the cavalry forces eagerly galloped to the 
scene of danger, and closely in their wake followed the 
infantry. Before noon of that day the command had 
arrived. It was learned from the prisoners that Crazy 
Horse's village of 300 lodges was only twenty miles away, 
but owing to the fatigue of the men, and the jaded condi- 
tion of the horses, it was deemed advisable not to move 
against the village, but to wait for an attack by the 
Indians. As was anticipated, about four o'clock p. m. 
Crazy Horse with his warriors dashed upon the scene, with 
fierce warwhoop, brandishing their arms and otherwise 
demonstrating their fell purpose of speedily annihilating 
Gen. Crook's entire command and recapturing their 

This time, however, they reckoned without their hosts. 
Quickly the command formed into a line of defense around 
the captured village and property and opened a brisk fire 
upon the attacking savage forces. 

It is no part of Indian fighting tactics to stand in solid 
phalanx to be shot at, as do trained soldiers, so, in the 
manner peculiar to them, the mounted warriors rode wildly 
hither and yon for a short time, then circled round and 
round the environed village, meanwhile returning the fire 
of the troops, in search of a pregnable point through which 
they could make a sudden dash and recapture the lost 
ponies. No such weak point was to be found in the lines, 
the command standing as firm and solid as a stone wall. 
The lines stood bravely and unflinchingly facing the shot 
of the yelling savages, until darkness put a stop to the 
conflict, when the Indians withdrew, bearing away the 
dead bodies of a number of their braves, without accom- 
plishing their purpose. 

In this fight at Slim Buttes Gen. Crook lost twenty men, 
while Crazy Horse it was thought lost many more; how- 
ever, their loss could not positively be ascertained, as 


Indians always bear away their slain warriors, when they 
fall, at any personal risk. 

By the time the smoke of battle had cleared away, the 
soldiers again began to realize that remorseless hunger 
was gnawing at their vitals; to satisfy which fortunately 
the dried meat, a part of the fruits of Capt. Mills' con- 
quest, was available, — an agreeable change from the horse 
meat, upon which they had principally subsisted for the 
few previous days. 

The command camped that night on the field of battle, 
and in the early morning resumed its march Black 
Hills-ward leaving the First Cavalry battalion, under Major 
Upham, to destroy the village. Hardly was the rear of the 
main column out of sight, before the Indians renewed the 
attack, but being severely repulsed, they withdrew and 
were not again seen. 

The march of Crook's command from Crow creek to 
Crook City, — which has fittingly been designated the 
"Mud March," was one long to be remembered by the 
soldiers. Some of the nearly famished infantry men were 
disposed to give up the terrible struggle altogether; a few 
succumbed, and sank down in their tracks from sheer ex- 
haustion, unwilling to make any farther exertion, and only 
by much urging and persuasion could they be induced to 
stagger to their feet and renew the struggle. Numerous 
cavalry horses, worn out by the hard forced march and 
insufficient feed, had to be left behind. 

On the 13th Capt. Mills, who had again, on the night of 
the 10th, been dispatched ahead to the settlements, started 
back supplies to meet the command, which had that same 
day crossed the swollen Belle Fourche and encamped on 
the south bank of that stream. Relief was near at hand, 
for soon after going into camp the hearts of the hungry 
soldiers were made glad by the arrival of a small herd of 
beef cattle, followed a little later by several wagon loads 
of supplies, forwarded by citizens of Deadwood to relieve 
the needs of the soldiers of the command. 


In response to an invitation from ttie Common Council 
of the city Gen. Crook and staff visited Dead wood, where 
they were accorded a hearty welcome and generous hos- 
pitality, in grateful recognition of the services of the gal- 
lant commander in behalf of the people of the Hills. A 
public reception, at which the polished and genial Gen. 
Dawson acted as master of ceremonies, was held, when his 
many friends in Deadwood and surrounding camps had an 
opportunity of grasping the hand of the brave Indian 
fighter. On the 27th, in acknowledgment of the courtesies 
extended on that occasion, Gen. Crook sent the subjoined 
letter to Deadwood, from headquarters at Omaha : — 

Headquarters Dept. of the Platte, ) 
Omaha, Sept. 27th, 1876. 5 
Gentlemen: At this, the earliest moment, I desire to 
acknowledge the courtesy of the resolutions passed by 
your honorable body, inviting me to accept the hospitality 
of your city, and likewise to express, in behalf of myself 
and staff, a most grateful appreciation of kindness bestowed 
upon us while with your. To your Mayor, E. B. Farnum, 
and Messrs. Kurtz, Philbrook, and Dawson, for the thor- 
ough manner in which their duties as a committee were 
carried out, I desire to make known our feelings of lasting 

Your obedient servant, 

Geo. Crook, Brig. -General. 
To Mayor and Council of Deadwood. 

After a few days of much-needed rest, Crook's com- 
mand marched from Crook to Custer City, where it 
remained in camp until the early part of October, when, 
after a short reconnoissance down the south fork of the 
Cheyenne river, it returned to Bufi'alo Gap, thence pro- 
ceeded directly to Fort Niobrara in Nebraska, where the 
expedition disbanded October 14th, 1876. 

Thus, after nearly nine months of uninterrupted service, 
ended the Yellowstone Expedition of 1876; and although 


tKe great Indian campaign was marked by no signal victories 
in battle, it resulted in effectually breaking up the gigantic 
combination of the hostile tribes, driving their standard- 
bearer, a fugitive, towards the Canadian border, and scat- 
tering other hostile bands in the direction of their agencies, 
whither many of the least warlike soon went, thus accom- 
plishing in great measure the object for which the campaign 
was inaug-urated. 

In disbanding Gen. Crook made the following address to 
his command : — 

"In the campaign now closed, I have been obliged to 
call upon you for much hard service and many sacrifices of 
personal comfort. At times you have been out of reach of 
your base of supplies in most inclement weather, and have 
marched without food and slept without shelter. In your 
engagements you have evinced a high order of discipline 
and courage; in your marches, wonderful powers of en- 
durance, and in your deprivations and hardships, patience 
and fortitude. 

•' Indian warfare is, of all warfares, the most trying and 
the most thankless. Not recognized by the United States 
Congress as war, it possesses for you all the disadvantages 
of civilized warfare, with all the horrible accompaniments 
that barbarism can invent and savages execute. In it you 
are required to serve without the incentive of promotion 
or recognition, in truth, without favor or the hope of 
reward. The people of our sparsely settled frontier in 
whose defense you have labored, have but little influence 
with the powerful communities in the East; their repre- 
sentatives have little voice in our national councils, 
while your savage foes are not only the wards of the 
government and supported in idleness by the nation, but 
objects of sympathy with large numbers of people other- 
wise well-informed and discerning. You may therefore 
congratulate yourselves that in the performance of your 
military duty you have been on the side of the weak against 


the strong, and that the few people on the frontier will 
remember your efforts with gratitude. 

General George Crook." 

Soon after the disbandment of Crook's command, 
in October, a detachment of soldiers under command of 
Major Brown, was sent from Fort Robinson to protect the 
people of the Black Hills from the depredations of Crazy 
Horse, who maintained a hostile attitude towards the people 
until April, 1877, when he surrendered and active hostilities 
on the part of Indians came to a close. 

However, not until about four years later, after having 
met with several bad defeats at the hands of Gen. iNIiles, 
did the Sioux tribes manifest a willingness to surrender and 
return to their agencies, which they finally did about the 
1st of June, 1881, when they came down the Missouri 
river in steamboats by the hundreds to the Missouri river 




The year 187(3 may be accounted the crucial period of 
Blacli Hills pioneer history. It was essentially the chaotic 
period; the era of disorder and crime, when, in the absence 
of civil law, might struggled for the mastery over right ; 
the period when danger followed closely on the trail of the 
wayfarer, all along the line of march into the Hills, hover- 
ing on their flanks during the day, and stalking about their 
carapfires at night; the period when danger lurked behind 
each cliff and headland along the borders, and peered in 
at the door of every rude cabin in the mining settlements, 
near their limits; the year when the pioneers had to do 
yeoman service in battling with the blood-thirsty Sioux 
for the establishment of civilization in the Black Hills, 
many losing their lives, others escaping death by a very 
narrow margin indeed. In short, the year 1876 was one 
prolonged tragedy. Ah, what memories cluster around 
those four simple figures! Even as I write them, many 
of the scenes of that exciting period come trooping 
past, in mental review ; familiar faces and figures rise 
up in spectral phalanx like the ghosts of those who 
were but are not. 


The spirit of dangerous unrest, stirred up by the emis- 
saries of Sitting Bull, at the different agencies, in the early 
spring of 1876, when immigration to the Black Hills was 
at its flood, resulted in filling the country with numerous 
marauding bands of painted warriors, armed and equipped 
for the Yellowstone, who hung along the lines of travel 


for the purpose of plunder and theft, incidentally killing 
all those who interfered with the accomplishment of their 
purpose. Their early operations consisted principally in 
running off the horses of the many expeditions making 
their way over the plains to the Hills. Of course, they 
were not always successful, but it sometimes happened 
that an expedition, despite the vigilance of its members, 
would wake up of a bright morning to find its train of 
loaded wagons stranded on the broad prairie, minus the 
major part of the motive power, in which case pursuit of 
the thieves immediately followed. A posse of plucky men 
would quickly saddle the few horses that were left, buckle 
on their cartridge belts, mount and give chase. Following 
up the trail of the red thieves, they would sometimes over- 
take them and recover the stolen property, at the cost 
perhaps of two or three of their number; more frequently, 
however, the stolen stock was never recovered. 

The horse-stealing proclivities of the Indians is exem- 
plified in the case of the Hildebrand party while en route 
to the Black Hills in the spring of 1876. 

This expedition, of which L. F. Hildebrand and family 
were a part, left Bismarck for the Black Hills, about the 
last of March, 1876. Mr. Hildebrand had been an old- 
time prospector and miner in Montana, and was therefore 
schooled in the successes and reverses of mining camps, as 
well as the dangers incident to Western pioneer life, and 
had also doubtless learned something of the natural moral 
turpitude of the red man. At all events, at the end of the 
first day's march, the expedition closely corralled their 
wagons, secured their horses with picket ropes a short dis- 
tance away, and encircled the camp and stock with a body 
of armed guards, as a precaution against possible attack. 
A visit on the first night out was hardly looked for, but 
contrary to their expectations, at about 3 o'clock on the 
morning of April 1st, just as the moon had disappeared 
behind the western horizon, a large band of Standing Kock 
hostiles made a sudden dash through the line of guards 




and commenced a rapid firing on the camp — some of the 
band, meanwhile, trying to cut loose and stampede the 
horses. In an instant after the first sound of alarm the 
whole camp was aroused, and the men were rushing through 
a storm of bullets to protect and save the stock. Mr. Hii- 
debrand with the aid of his two eldest sous, mere lads at 
the time, succeeded in securing his individual stock and 
leading them safely within the circle of wagons. All, how- 
ever, were not so fortunate, as in less time than it takes to 
relate the occurrence, the Indians, with twenty-two head of 
horses belonging to the expedition, were riding away with 
the speed of the wind towards the cottonwoods along the 
Missouri river bottoms. Quickly a posse was organized 
and started in hot pursuit on their trail, overtaking the 
band about twenty miles distant from camp, and by some 
lively skirmishing recovering every head of the stolen prop- 
erty. Soon after, however, the Indians surrounded the 
posse, and in an attempt to recapture the stock a fierce fight 
took place, resulting in the death of one and the wounding 
of two of the pursuing party, and the killing of nine of 
their horses. The battle raged for three or four hours, 
ending in a victory for the owners of the stock, who then 
returned to camp with the thirteen head that had escaped 
the deadly bullets of the red skins. 

The Indians were, by no means, always responsible for 
the many thieving raids made on the herds of expeditions 
along the lines in 1876. Their white brethren of the craft 
were not a Avhit behind them, and, if possible, even more 
dangerous from the standpoint of actual loss. At a very 
early date in 1876, regularly organized gangs of white 
horse thieves — if a horse thief can be called white — began 
plying their nefarious vocation of stealing and running off 
stock, regardless of ownership, wherever found and when- 
ever a safe opportunity offered itself ; and the oi:)erations 
of these banded robbers were so shrewdly planned, and 
skillfully carried out, aided and abetted, as they were 
believed to be, by accomplices under the guise of respect- 


ability and lionesty, that the stolen property was seldom 
recovered. Sometimes whole herds would be spirited away 
in the night and led over devious ways and effectually con- 
cealed amid the fastnesses, leaving no clue that might lead 
to their hiding-place. 

Perhaps the most serious loss inflicted by these outlaws in 
1876 was sustained by Chas. Sasse & Co., in the spring of 
that year, in Red Canyon, where Persimmons Bill's gang 
despoiled him of every hoof of the stock belonging to his 
train, leaving him stranded with his family and loads of 
valuable merchandise, in the dangerous bloody canyon. 

On the 11th day of March, 1876, Mr. Sasse and family, 
accompanied by a small party of men, left Cheyenne, 
Wyoming, with a train of 100 mules and twenty-five 
wagons, freighted with a $10,000 cargo of " Early Times " 
whisky for the Black Hills market. I say Black Hills 
market, because it is neither reasonable nor safe to even in- 
sinuate that Mr. Sasse was transporting, through a danger- 
ously hostile country, such a quantity of the " fiery fluid " 
for his sole individual use. Be that as it may, as I first 
asserted, Mr. Sasse & Co. left Cheyenne with $10,000 
worth, in real commercial value, of '* Early Times " whisky 
for the Black Hills, which finally found its way into the 
Deadwood market. 

This was probably the first extensive cargo of that kind 
of merchandise brought to the Black Hills. 

Besides the train of loaded wagons, Mr. Sasse had a team 
of horses and a wagon for his family and the transporta- 
tion of their private belongings. 

The journey proved devoid of accident or interesting in- 
cident until reaching to within a day's march of the Chey- 
enne river stage station, where his team gave out, and, as 
no Indians had been seen, he decided to halt for a day's 
rest. They had not been long in camp before Indians were 
discovered on the distant blufi's overlooking the trail, when 
Mr. Sasse, realizing the extreme danger of delay, at once 
pulled out with his exhausted team to try to overtake the 


train. On reaching the stage station (the suspected head- 
quarters of the gang, then kept by Persimmons Bill and 
two brothers, one of whom, a veritable giant, was known as 
Big John) they were approached by the proprietors and 
urged to remain at the station that night, as the redskins 
were thick on the trail. 

Viewed in the light of the subsequent wholesale theft, 
they seemed suspiciously anxious, to their credit be it 
said, that Mrs. Sasse should not be with the train at the 
time of the intended raid, as there might be occasion for 
more or less shooting. However, Mr. Sasse, heedless of 
their importunities, pressed on and joined the train in Red 
Canyon. That night while the camp was wrapped in mid- 
night slumbers, all unconscious of the impending calamity, 
the gang, according to their prearranged plan, stole stealth- 
ily into camp and quietly took possession of 100 mules and a 
span of horses, and noiselessly led them away out of the can- 
yon , then over divergent routes to a secure hiding-place . The 
next morning an attempt was made to trace up the stolen 
stock, but all clue being lost in the bewildering mazes of 
the numerous devious trails, the property was never found. 
Upon discovering the state of affairs in the morning, Mr. 
Sasse was forced to return to the Cheyenne river station 
and enlist the services of Big John to transport his family 
to Custer City. 

Perhaps few of our early pioneers had a more thrilling 
experience with the savage marauders than Capt. C. V. 
Gardner, who, with others, literally fought their way to 
the Black Hills through bands of hostile Sioux in the spring 
of 1876. It was on the occasion of his second visit to the 
Hills that Capt. Gardner's right of way into their once 
happy hunting-ground was disputed mile by mile with the 
red men, his first trip being made over an unmolested trail 
without " let or hindrance." To all lovers of adventure, 
the following brief account of Capt. Gardner's first and 
second journey to the Hills may be of interest. 



Capt. Gardner, with whose name all old residents of the 
Black Hills are familiar, arrived in Cheyenne in the early 
part of March, or perhaps the latter part of February, 
1876, en route for the New Eldorado. During the latter part 
of the former month, after having purchased the necessary 
equipments for the journey, including a wagon heavily 
freighted with merchandise and supplies, he left that early 
outfitting point for ihe Black Hills, leaving his goods in 
charge of his partner, known afterwards in the Hills as 
'< Deaf Thompson." Mounting the stage with his sturdy 
rifle by his side, he sped on his way to Fort Laramie, 
thence by mail wagon to old Red Cloud Agency. Here he 
provided himself with an Indian pony and employed a half- 
breed Sioux to guide him over the unknown country to 
Custer at an agreed compensation of $25.00, and all he 
could realize on the Black Hills mail committed to his 
(Gardner's) charge by the postal authorities at Red 

A little after midnight Capt. Gardner and his dusky guide 
left the agency, and directing their course by the pole- 
star Black Hills-ward, sleeping nights under the blue starlit 
canopy without shelter, with lariat ropes secured to their 
wrists as a safeguard against thieving Indians, reached 
Buffalo Gap on the third day out from the agency. Travel- 
ing up Buffalo Gap Canyon three or four miles, they found 
on the trail three disabled wagons, from which the horses 
had been cut and driven off, and lying about, flour sacks 
and trunks, torn and broken open and contents scattered to 
the four winds, — the handiwork of the Indians. Continu- 
ing their journey towards Custer, when near Point of 
Rocks, they came upon the party, whose outfit lay demol- 
ished and scattered back in the canyon, consisting of about 
forty persons including families, the latter in the most 
pitiable state of alarm, some wringing their hands in grief — 
lamenting the killing of one of their comrades by the 
Indians. With this forlorn party Capt. Gardner camped 
for the night, going into Custer on the following mornino;. 


After a brief stay of three days in Custer, satisfied as to 
the prospective outlook for the Black Hills as a gold-pro- 
ducing region, the captain started back on his journey 
for Cheyenne with a returning empty freight train and 
about 200 disgusted tenderfeet who were turning their 
backs upon the Black Hills for all time ; no incident worthy 
of note occurring on the outward trip save that of finding 
while in camp at Red Canyon, the arrow-pierced body of 
the colored woman of the Metz-family-massacre. 

On reaching Cheyenne Capt. Gardner purchased 60,000 
pounds of merchandise, contracted with Chas. Hecht, then 
of Cheyenne, to transport the goods to the Black Hills at 
the rate of thirteen and one-fouith cents per pound, and 
again started for the Hills by stage to Fort Laramie. At 
the Platte river he joined a large party of gold-seekers, also 
destined for the Black Hills, among whom were Geo. 
Boland, Dick Horsford, and Jack King, popularly known 
in the Hills as the Black Hills rhymist, and brother of 
" Honest Dick," than whom braver men never crossed 
the hostile plains to the Black Hills. The party reached 
Hat Creek Station without molestation and camped for 
the night. The next morning, however, their tribulations 
bet^an, for while at breakfast a band of Indians made a 
dashing raid on the herd and tried to stampede their stock, 
but, after a brisk skirmish they were driven off without 
loss on either side. The train then, with an advance 
guard, preceded by six mounted men dispatched ahead as 
scouts, traveled on toward the Hills until reaching a point 
on the route known as " Down Indian Creek," when the 
scouts were seen riding back toward the train at full 
speed, followed closely by a half dozen redskins. When 
within about twenty rods of the advance guard, the scouts 
took position behind a little knoll where they hoped to be 
able to defend themselves until the advance guard came to 
their assistance. The Indians, however, quickly rode 
around to the opposite side of the knoll and fired, killing 
one of the scouts and his horse at the first shot, whereupon 


the others made a dash for the train which had in the 
meantime corralled their wagons. Soon thereafter the train 
was attacked by about fifty Indians, who, directing their 
fire against the weakest points of the corral, kept up a con- 
tinuous fusillade, which was gallantly returned from behind 
the barricade of wagons for the space of two hours, when 
the Indians withdrew, bearing away five dead braves as the 
result of the battle, — the train losing two horses. 

At the close of the battle some of the party, tenderfeet, 
whose courage was on the wane, concluding that they 
already had enough of Indian fighting to last them the rest 
of their lives, proposed that the train return at once to 
God's own country, and abandon any farther attempt to 
reach the Black Hills. A few demurred, agreeing, how- 
ever, to leave the question to the decision of the majority. 
Accordingly, after burying their dead companion, a meet- 
ing was held at which every member voted to take the 
backward trail but six, viz.. Jack King, Geo. Boland, Dick 
Horsford, Capt. Gardner, and two others. In compliance 
with the decision of the majority, the train then reversed 
its course and marched back towards Fort Laramie. After 
traveling all da3s continually harassed by the Indians, 
they were opportunely met by Chas. Hecht's and Street 
and Thompson's transportation trains accompanied by 
twenty-five or thirty well-armed men. The situation being 
explained, the incoming and outgoing trains went into 
camp together for the night. Thus reinforced, the timid 
members of the homeward bound party took renewed 
courage, and at a joint confereuce held that night, they 
almost unanimously decided to turn about and fight their 
way through the hostile lines into the Hills. The next 
day at about nine o'clock, another unsuccessful attempt 
was made to run off the stock of the train, shortly after 
which the camp was surrounded by, as nearly as could 
be estimated, about 500 yelling Indians. A participant in 
the fight that followed thought that the whole Sioux 
nation might have been engaged in the attack, judg- 


ing from the hailstorm of ballets that came hurtlins: against 

O 3 

the barricades from every direction, many of which went 
whizzing through the openings between the wagons in un- 
pleasant, not to say dangerous, proximity to their heads. 
The trainmen, however, returned the compliment by pay- 
ing the red-skins back in their own coin, to the extent 
of their ability, from behind their breastworks of loaded 
wagons. After an hour's fierce battle of bullets, the In- 
dians ceased firing and left, to renew the attack later, 
with increased numbers, when the train immediately pulled 
on for Hat Creek Station. 

As the prospect for reaching the Hills, against such de- 
termined opposition, seemed remote, they decided at this 
critical crisis to invoke the protection of Uncle Sam's sol- 
diers. Capt. Gardner and Billy Waugh were delegated to 
go as messengers to Fort Laramie to petition the command- 
ing officer at that post, for a military escort into the Hills. 
Mounting the fleetest horses belonging to the train, the two 
messengers started back on their perilous ride for Fort 
Laramie, but, on reaching Raw Hide Buttes at 3 o'clock in 
the morning, they providentially found encamped, near the 
Buttes, a company of cavalry and one of infantry, under 
Capt. Egan, sent out from the fort on a scouting expedition 
after Indians. 

Capt. Egan, upon learning the mission of the messen- 
gers, and appreciating the dangerous situation, readily con- 
sented to escort the imperiled train, at least beyond the 
point of danger. Without a moment's loss of time Gard- 
ner and Waugh then returned, with all possible speed, to 
Hat creek, when the train pulled out for Indian creek 
where Capt. Egan had promised to overtake them — which 
he did on the following day. After the arrival of the mil- 
itary, Capt. Gardner was placed in charge of the train, by 
the commanding oflScer, who, after establishing a military 
post at that point, where the infantry remained, started 
out with his troops to scour the surrounding country for 
marauding Indians. The train again pushed on, but after 



traveiiDff about ei^ht miles one of the waofons became 
disabled, necessitating a halt for repairs. They had 
hardly got the wagons corralled, and dinner in process 
of preparation, before again the alarming cry of Indians ! 
Indians ! was heard from different points in the camp. 
The cry came just as Capt. Gardner, who it appears was 
the breadmaker of his mess, had his hands in the soft 


dough. Speedily withdrawing his hands from the mixture, 
without waiting to wash the sticky substance from them, 
or even to discard his kitchen apron — with face, per- 
chance, artistically flecked with flour, he, with several 
others, snatched their guns and hastened with all possible 
speed to the summit of an adjacent hill nearly a half mile 
distant from where legions of Sioux warriors, in paint and 
feathers, were seen making directly towards them. Quickly 
they retreated towards the camp, frequently turning their 
faces to see if the tufted heads of the savages had yet 
appeared above the crest of the hill. Upon reaching 


camp, a messenger was at once dispatched to Capt. Egan's 
post on Indian creek to notify the command that the train 
was surrounded by Indians, and in need of speedy assist- 
ance. The messenger was a brave lad, not more than 
seventeen years of age, who had volunteered his services 
for the dangerous undertaking. Mounting a swift horse, 
away the courageous boy flew over the backward trail for 
Capt. Egan's post. He had hardly disappeared from view 
before hundreds of whooping Indians came dashing over 
the crest of the hill, soon surrounding the corral at long 
range. After wildly circling around the train two or three 
times, after the manner of Indians, they opened a deadly fire 
against the barricade of loaded wagons, from behind which 
the boys hurled back cold lead at the red besiegers, as 
rapidly as they could load and reload their guns. At the 
end of three terrible hours, the Indians suddenly ceased 
firing, and disappeared in a twinkling, almost as quickly as 
if the earth had opened beneath their feet and swallowed 
them. With marvelous swiftness they sped away over the 
hills out of sight. With the wonderful keenness, peculiar 
to these children of nature, they had in the heat of conflict 
seen or scented approaching danger. Just at the moment 
of their disappearance Capt. Egan and his troopers were 
seen riding with the speed of the wind towards the camp, 
their beautiful white horses panting, with nostrils dis- 
tended, and flecked with foam. They had ridden hard 
to the rescue of the imperiled train. In scouting for In- 
dians Capt. Egan's pack mules had got mired, obliging him 
to return to his post, where he arrived just as the messen- 
ger boy put in an appearance, so that no time was lost in 
going to the relief of the train, and moreover, if the 
wagon axle had not broken, necessitating a halt for repairs, 
the train would doubtless have marched right into the 
deadly embrace of hundreds of hostile Sioux, and have 
been nearly if not totally wiped out of existence; — thus 
it would seem that those two mishaps had worked to- 
gether for the safety of that train. A fatalist would say, 



that an overruling Providence had interfered to save that 
brave band of pioneers from utter annihilation. 

The following morning, the train once more started for 
the Hills, this time under military escort, Capt. Egan hav- 
ing consented to accompany the party to Custer, which was 
finally reached without farther trouble. 

On nearing Custer the train was met by nearly the entire 
male population of the city, on their way out to the relief 
of the beleagured freight outfit, rumors of the dangers 
that had hedged it about having reached the city, whose 
supplies, by the way, had gotten to low-water mark. 

As the story goes, there was a big pow-wow and dance 
in the pioneer city that night, in celebration of the narrow 
escape of the 185 gold-seekers, where " all went merry as 
a marriage bell." 

Tradition says that after the ball was over, there was a 
sort of spectacular performance, in which Doc Peirce, ably 
supported by Capt. Gardner and Tom Hooper, — the 
pioneer legal light of the Black Hills — enacted the leading- 
role. Numerous others were in the cast, but taking minor 
parts. It is said " there was a hot time in the old town 
that nisht." 




The great gold-producing State of Montana yielded a gen- 
erous tribute to the large stream of gold-seekers entering the 
Black Hills in 1876, furnishing no insignificant proportion 
of their total population. It has been estimated that nearly 
one-twelfth of the population of the Black Hills in 1876 
came from that State, which is believed to be an overesti- 
mate. Howbeit, it was notable that a liberal percentage of 
those engaged in placer mining operations, on Deadwood 
and tributary gulches during that year, were old Montana 

The most formidable expedition, perhaps, in point of 
numbers and the magnitude of its equipments, coming to 
the Black Hills in 1876, was organized in Montana. 

In February, 1876, a movement was inaugurated in 
Helena, Montana, having for its object the organization of 
the first expedition from that State to the Black Hills. 
Notices of the contemplated expedition were published in 
the press, and also posted in the various mining camps 
throughout the State, inviting all who desired to join such 
an enterprise to rendezvous at a designated point on the 
Yellowstone, by a stated time, for organization. For a few 
weeks thereafter, all trails led the Black Hills fever-infected 
Montanians to the recruiting point on the Yellowstone, 
whither the leaders had preceded them for the purpose of 
enrolling members. An organization was soon effected, 
when, on the 20th day of March, 1876, the expedition of 
100 pack mules, a long train of supply wagons, and a party 
of over 200 men, having in its ranks experienced miners, 
thrifty ranchmen, and skilled mechanics, each animated by 
the ambition and determination to become speedily rich, if 


riches were to be found in the new gold region, marched 
away from the banks of the Yellowstone on the old Boze- 
man route for the Bhick Hills. 

As they marched along the old trail they passed over the 
historic spot where nearly ten years before the tragedy of 
Fort Phil Kearney was enacted, when a wood train with a 
small military escort was surrounded and attacked by 2,000 
Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians almost within sight 
of the fort. When first attacked Col. Fetterman, com- 
mander at the fort, in answer to a signal from a neighbor- 
ing hill, hastened to the rescue of the train with a force of 
nearly 100 soldiers, including officers, every one of whom 
after a hard gallant struggle lasting two hours was lying 
dead on the battle-ground, — not a white man was left to 
rehearse the awful story. The wrecked wagons of the de- 
molished wood train were yet lying in a confused heap at 
the foot of a hill near the trail. 

The expedition continued its course across the dry fork 
of the Powder river, to the Belle Fourche, and down that 
stream to Bear Lodge, thence across the country to Spear- 
fish valley, which was reached May 20th, 1876. The ex- 
pedition had two encounters with the Indians in the Bear 
Lodge mountains, in one of which a member of the party 
named Geo. Miller was killed. 

Among the members of this expedition were R. H. Evans, 
G. H. Jones, Jas. Ryan, G. W. Read, F. R. Cooper, G. 
W. Rosenbaum, J. E. Cook, Mike Burton, Hiram Ross, 
and J. A. Walton, nearly all of whom settled along the 
broad fertile valley of the Spearfish, where for two score 
years they have demonstrated the wonderful agricultural 
possibilities of the valleys of the Black Hills. Any one 
traveling down the valley of the Spearfish of an early 
summer's day will now be confronted, every mile of the 
way, by a scene fair indeed to look upon. Richly culti- 
vated farms — they cannot now be called ranches — for the 
most part divided and fenced into fields of more or less 
acreage, according to convenience or the adaptability of 


the soil for certain crops, some of them covered with wav- 
ing grain, fast ripening for the sickle, with here and there 
large patches of the tubers, such as can be grown nowhere 
in the world outside of the Black Hills ; others covered 
with rich pasturage, dotted over with fat, sleek kine, com- 
modious farm houses, delightfully embowered amid shade 
trees, many of them planted by the hands of the owners 
years before; with luxuriant vegetable gardens in the 
background, — will be found all along the margin of the 
river from the Queen City to where Spearfish mingles its 
■crystal waters with the red soil stained waters of the Red- 
water, altogether making a picture of thrift, cosy comfort, 
and pastoral beauty that is deliciously refreshing, especi- 
ally to a denizen of the mountains. 

On the 26th of May, 1876, this enterprising colony of 
Montanians took the first step towards reclaiming the vir- 
gin soil of the Spearfish valley from the hands of its savage 
claimants by locating and staking ranches. Commencing 
at a point a little more than a mile below the site of Spear- 
fish, locations were made for several miles down the 
stream, when they were numbered and drawn by lot. 
Ranch No. 1 fell to the lot of R. H. Evans, which he still 
owns, and where he still lives. On this ranch Mr. Evans 
built the first log cabin of the colony, where he spent 
his two years of bachelorhood in the Black Hills, and 
it was to that log cabin of one room that, in 1878, he 
brought his bride, a Miss Pettigrew, and the first school- 
ma'am of Spearfish, where they lived until an increasing 
family warned them to provide more spacious quarters. 
The cabin is still suffered to stand near its present com- 
modious home, within which stands the first stool made in 
the valley — valued relics of early days. Let the old log 
cabin stand. Bolster it up and guard it well. Let no 
desecrating hand touch a single log or chink or a pole of 
the roof that sheltered an early pioneer. Let no jack- 
knife fiend whittle a single chip from the old three-legged 
stool that served him as a chair. At about the same 


date Joseph Rarasdell located a ranch a little farther up 
the valley, a part of which is now Rarasdell's addition to 
Spearfish. Somewhat later, Otto Uhlig from Deadwood,. 
located the ranch that is now, in whole or in part, Uhlig's 
addition to the city of many additions. J. E. Cook and 
Mike Burton located ranches on what is known as Centen- 
nial prairie, where they soon established the " Montana 
herd," and built a stockade for the safe keeping of the 
large amount of stock committed to their charge, — a pre- 
caution which, despite the unremitting vigilance and 
bravery of the proprietors, did not always prove a certain 
safeguard against the red horse-thieves, as will be shown 
farther on. 

About a month later, a second, but somewhat smaller 
expedition arrived in the Hills over the same route, from 

About the first of August, 1870, another expedition,, 
composed in part of Western men, and in part of tender- 
feet from different sections of the East, reached the Black 
Hills from Bismarck. Among those comprising the West- 
ern contingent of the expedition, were Sol. Star, Seth 
Bullock, and John Manning, men to whom the exciting 
shifting scenes of a big mining camp were no novelty, 
they having already passed through the trying tenderfoot 
stage of Western life among the booming mining camps of 
Montana. They had, it is presumed, a few years before, 
foresworn the luxuries and comforts, and thrown aside the 
conventionalities, of Eastern civilization, and followed the 
guiding Star of Empire westward until it stood over the 
buried treasure among the spurs of the Big Horn Moun- 
tains, where they had, doubtless, experienced some of the 
vicissitudes and encountered some of the dangers incident 
to a frontier life, and had become what is termed Western- 
ized, in all that the term implies. Well, let us see. From 
the standpoint of a Western pioneer they must needs have 
subsisted for several consecutive weeks on bacon, beans, 
flapjacks, and black coffee, and slept at least a month on 


the ground floor of a tent. They must necessarily have 
chased, or have been chased by, Indians a few times, and 
have been " held up" by road agents a time or two, to 
entitle them to their credentials from the tenderfoot grade 
of Western life. 

However, having spent some time amid the fascinating 
excitement of a gold-mining camp, they were unable to 
withstand the alluring reports from the newly-discovered 
placer mines of Dakota, and so resolved to go to Dead- 
wood, the pole-star of attraction in 1876. An arrange- 
ment of their affairs being completed, they with a party 
of thirty-five men, left Helena, Montana, for Fort Benton, 
the head of navigation on the Missouri river, where they 
loaded their merchandise, supplies, and other equipments 
on to a steamer, took passage, and sailed down the river 
to Fort Lincoln. On reaching Bismarck they joined a 
large party of gold-seeking adventurers from the East ; 
secured transportation on a freight train about to leave for 
the Hills, and took up their line of march overland for the 
Black Hills. 

Belonging to the party from the East were J. K. P. 
Miller, Jas. McPherson, and Al. Burnham, names familiar 
in the business circles of Deadwood for many years. The 
two first-named gentlemen could not be termed tenderfeet, 
as they had spent considerable time in different parts of 
the West. Al. Burnham, on the contrary, was a self-con- 
fessed, unfledged tenderfoot, having never before been 
west of the Father of Waters. However, he was one day 
siezed by a spirit of adventure, and, being full of daring, 
he resolved to cut loose from the trammels and narrow 
environments of the matured East, and enjoy for a time 
the freedom and breadth of the vague indefinite West, with 
its dream of grand possibilities. 

With this object in view, one bright morning in the 
early spring of 1876 he, with grip-sack in hand, left his 
Eastern home in Michigan on his journey to the region of 
his dreams, the mountains of the boundless West. At 


Yankton, after a tedious delay of a whole month, awaiting 
the clearing of the channel of the stream from ice, he 
boarded a boat and sailed up the river to Fort Buford; but 
went no farther in the direction of the setting sun. 
Whether the Far West had lost its glamor, or the hostile 
attitude of the Sioux had caused him to cut short his jour- 
ney in that direction, or whether he had lost his reckon- 
ings, is not known. At any rate for some occult reason, he 
changed his mind and took passage on the next boat down 
the river for Bismarck. 

It would appear that Mr. Burnham had a pretty hard 
experience on his overland trip to the Black Hills. He 
not only had to pay a good round price for the transporta- 
tion of his belongings, but had also to work his passage all 
the way from Bismarck to Deadwood by whacking oxen for 
the transportation trains. It is told that the master of that 
outfit, in addition to freight charges, at first demanded ten 
dollars per capita for the privilege of walking along beside 
the train, — that, however, may be an exaggerated story» 
It is inferred that complete harmony and the utmost 
brotherly love were not distinguishing features of the over- 
land journey of that expedition to the Hills — that is, all 
did not pull in the same harness, apparently. 

On the last day of July, John Manning and a few others 
of the party arrived in Deadwood, having pulled out from 
the train at some point on the latter part of the route. 

On the first day of August, 1876, Sol. Star, Seth Bul- 
lock, James McPherson, J. K. P. Miller, and Al. Burnham, 
reached Deadwood just in time to see demonstrated the 
kind of material Deadwood was in part composed of in 
1876. The next day W^ild Bill was assassinated in broad 

Continuing the business copartnership entered into 
before leaving Helena, Montana, Star & Bullock imme- 
diately secured a desirable business lot on the corner of 
Main and Wall streets, by the payment of $1,100 00 pur- 
chase money and proceeded at once to prepare the ground 


for building. A commodious building was soon erected on 
the site, in which the company, with the keen foresight of 
shrewd business men, established the hardware business 
along its various lines and on a scale commensurate 
with the demands of a large and growing mining commu- 
nity. The business was carried on in this building until 
the property was destroyed by the great fire which swept 
away almost the entire business portion of the young city 
in 1879. Nothing daunted by their disastrous loss the 
company soon rebuilt a larger and more commodious 
structure upon the a^hes of the old, with the addition of 
a large fire-proof building of brick, and re-established the 
business along the same lines, but on a more extended scale 
than before, where it was continued until removed in 1895 
to give place to the handsome stone structure, the Bullock 
Hotel, now occupying the site. The business was then 
removed to the building next door west of the Bullock 
Hotel, where it is still carried on by the later members of 
the firm. For many years the company of Star & Bullock 
has stood high in point of reliability and business integrity 
among the leading business firms of Deadwood, where, as 
individual members of society, they have ever been wide 
awake to all that pertained to the advancement and pros- 
perity of their adopted city. Individually they have been 
honored with various positions of trust and responsibility 
in municipal and county affairs, during their long continu- 
ous residence in the Hills. 

Mr. Star has the honor of having been chosen as member 
of the council of the first city organization of Deadwood in 
the fall of 1876. On May 24th, 1879, he was appointed 
postmaster of the Deadwood Post Otfice by President R. 
B. Hayes. In 1884 he was elected to the mayoralty of the 
municipality of Deadwood, and re-elected for every suc- 
cessive term thereafter until 1892 inclusive, and was a^ain 
re-elected in 1896 for a terra of two years, and is therefore 
now at the head of Greater Dead wood's city government. 
Mr. Star's long, almost uninterrupted service in the inter- 


ests of Deadwood, tells more eloquently than can mere 
words of his executive ability; his skillful management of 
intricate municipal affiiirs; his exceeding popularity, and 
above all his loyalty and devotion to the best interests of 
the city at the head of whose government he now stands. 

Mr. Bullock enjoys the distinction of having been Law- 
rence County's first sheriff. He was appointed by Gov. 
Pennington to the shrievalty of the newly organized county 
and assumed its duties at a critical period in the history of 
the great mining region of Deadwood, where, for the 
major part, centered the population of Lawrence County in 
1877. It was at a time when valuable mining and other 
property was frequently in dispute, and whose rightful 
owners were sometimes dispossessed and kept at bay at 
the muzzle of a shot-o;un or six-shooter: at a time when all 
kinds of lawlessness, horse-stealing, cattle-rustling, etc., 
were rampant in the valley north of the Hills, and hydra- 
headed immorality was in full swing in the highways and 
by-ways of Deadwood ; when desperadoes and crooks galore 
were prowling about the streets in sheep's clothing, seeking 
whom they might devour. Deadwood albeit was no worse 
than all other large new mining camps where outlaws are 
wont to congregate. 

The time had now arrived when law and order must be 
evolved out of all this seething chaos of iniquity. It was a 
pretty difficult as well as perilous problem that the first 
sheriff of Lawrence County was called upon to grapple 
with. However, Mr. Bullock was well equipped by 
experience for the work required of him, he having served 
in the same capacity out among the mining camps of 
Montana, and was possessed of the nerve and courage to 
perform his sworn duty ; no connivance at wrong-doing, or 
collusion with wrong-doers, can be laid at his door. He 
would ferret out and follow the trail of a criminal with all 
the keenness of a sleuth on the track of a deer, but, when 
once in his custody, he was equally ready to uphold the 
law, in protecting his prisoner against a clamorous mob, 





seeking to mete out summary punishment to the law- 
breaker. It is the universal verdict of the early settlers 
that to Sheriff Bullock was largely due the comparative 
peace and security prevailing in the county during the term 
of his appointment. 

John Manning, who succeeded Mr. Bullock as sheriff of 
Lawrence County, was elected by the popular vote of the 
county at the election of November, 1877, for a term of 
one year, and was re-elected to the position in November, 
1878, for a term of two years. The conditions confront- 
ing Sheriff Manning were similar to those existing during 
the incumbency of his predecessor. Lawlessness had not 
ceased to exist, far from it, consequently the duties of 
sheriff of Lawrence County in 1878 were by no means a 
sinecure. Arrests requiring plenty of pluck and nerve, 
and sometimes involving great personal hazard, were of 
almost daily occurrence, in the execution of which duties 
Sheriff Manning was never known to show the " white 

The extensive litigation, following the establishment of 
regular courts in the Hills, largely increased the volume of 
sheriff's business along the line of process serving, during 
Mr. Manning's terms of office, making the position one 
much sought after, because of the rapidly accumulating 
fees. That Sheriff Manning performed the various ardu- 
ous duties of his office to the entire satisfaction of the 
majority of the electors of Lawrence County, is fully 
attested by his re-election for a second term of two years. 

J. K. P. Miller and James McPherson will be remem- 
bered as two of Deadwood's most prominent business men, 
for many years. Soon after their arrival in Deadwood, 
they established jointly the largest wholesale and retail 
grocery house then in the Black Hills, whose business ex- 
tended far beyond the locality of the city and the adjacent 
mining camps, into the remote towns of the Hills. In 
connection with this business they opened, late in the fall 
of 1876, the second banking house established in the Black 


Hills under the firm name of Miller & McPberson. The 
firm stood high in the commercial circles of Deadwood and 
were regarded individually as two of its foremost and most 
valued citizens. Mr. Miller was the head and front of the 
enterprise for building the little stretch of steam railway, 
now running hourly between Deadwood and Lead. He 
carried on a flourishing trade for many years, or until 
broken health compelled him to throw off the burden and 
responsibilities of active business life, and seek rest and 
possible restoration to health in other climes. Finally, 
however, death claimed him for its own. 

Al. Burnham, although coming to the Hills a tenderfoot, 
certainly possessed none of the average tenderfoot's fatuity 
in expecting to find a royal road to wealth by picking up 
golden nuggets along his pathway in the Black Hills. Pre- 
eminently self-reliant and practical, he at once took up the 
pursuit of professional architect and builder, thus compel- 
ling brawn and brain to solve the problem. Doubtless 
many of the finest structures which grace the streets of 
Deadwood to-day were planned and fashioned by his skill- 
ful hands. During his twenty-one years of residence in 
the Hills, Mr. Burnham has been an esteemed and loyal 
citizen of Deadwood. 


The party bearing the above distinguishing title was 
organized, for the purpose of exploring the gold fields of 
Dakota, at Ames, Iowa, in January, 1876. The organiza- 
tion, consisting of only fourteen members, comprised the 
following names: John Johnston, Hugh Johnston, G. W. 
Rogers, agent Chicago & N. W. Railway, B. A. Little, 
R. H. Miller, A. Olson, J. M. Moulton, E. P. Cronen, W. 
U. Tel. Co., W. H. LaRue, N. Nickson, Lafayette Evans, 
T. Kinney, W. A. Noland, and a Mr. Otto. Nearly all were 
residents of Ames and vicinity, none others being eligible 
to membership according to the regulations. Of the 
hundreds of applicants for membership from other parts of 


the State, Dr. Overman alone was permitted to sign his 
name to the roster of the party. By a suspension of the 
rules, against the admission of strangers into the organi- 
zation, Dr. Overman was taken into the exclusive circle on 
the score of former friendship. However, the doctor 
failed to complete his arrangements in time and thus did 
not reach the Black Hills until three months later. John 
Johnston, the leading spirit of the enterprise, was dis- 
patched to Chicago for supplies and equipments for the 
party; preliminary preparations were soon made, and on 
the 1st day of March, 1876, the Centennial Party of four- 
teen men, with two loaded wagons, left their comfortable 
homes, in the midst of a wild March storm that reached 
almost the magnitude of a blizzard, and marched away 
westward through Sioux City and over the old Elkhoru 
route for the Black Hills, under the captaincy of John 

Nothing notable occurred on the journey until reaching 
O'Neill, the last settlement on the route, where they decided 
to rest for a day, one of the party being sick. While in 
camp at O'Neill, a buckskin-clad scout rode into camp with 
a message from another party of gold adventurers, asking 
them to delay their journey a day longer, or until the other 
party could overtake and join them, which was ngreed to. 
" Buckskin," as he was ever after called, went back with the 
message, and on the following day a well-armed and 
equipped party of eighty-one men and seventeen teams 
joined them. Jack Daly, for many years a resident of Lead, 
was one of the new part3^ " Buckskin " attached himself 
to, and was afterwards considered one of, the Centennial 
Party. On the arrival of the party in Custer little was to 
be found of an encouraging character; scores of empty 
houses, a few men scattered along French creek prospect- 
ing, and a good many other men doing nothing, was by no 
means inspiring to the members of this little party, who 
were mostly tenderfeet, and a feeling of bitter disappoint- 
ment began to creep over them ; in short they began to 


wish themselves back in their comfoitable positions in 
Araes, Iowa. The sick member of the party was sent back 
by a returning freight train, and the thirteen left Custer 
for Hill City, where they found just five men and some 
more empty houses, which decided them to go no further, 
as they had already seen enough of the Black Hills to 
satisfy them that they were by no means what they were 
reputed to be. A vote was taken on the question of re- 
turning to the States, which resulted in twelve to one in 
favor of going back, the dissenting vote being that of John 
Johnston, whose wishes in the matter could not be alto- 
gether ignored, as he was the largest stockholder in the 
property of the outfit. After discussing the question into 
the " wee-sma' " hours of the morning, Mr. Johnston 
finally agreed to let the twelve take one of the wagons and 
enough provisions to last them out, and he would take the 
other wagon and the remainder of the supplies, and con- 
tinue his journey to the north of the Hills. However, 
when the division of the property commenced, five of the 
twelve changed their minds, and joined Mr. Johnston on 
his trip to the north, the other seven returning to the 

Of course there is perhaps nothing remarkable, or even 
unusual, in all of this. It is notable, however, that this 
Centennial Party gave its name to that large stretch of 
country around the headwaters of False Bottom creek, 
known as Centennial Praiiie. " Buckskin " and others 
while out on the prairie cutting hay, one day in eTuly, 1876, 
christened it " Centennial Prairie," in compliment to the 
Centennial Party, a name which has clung to it ever 
since, and will continue to cling to it for a long time 
to come. To a member of the Centennial Party, John 
Johnston, also belongs the distinction of having:: estab- 
lished in connection with Capt. Gardner, the first news- 
paper published in Spearfish City, compelling its success 
under conditions which would make the average journalist 
hesitate. It is notable too that a member of this Centennial 


Party (Mr. Johnston) was among the first to settle at the 
head of the Spearfish valley in 1876, and who, ever since 
the founding of the Queen City of the Hills, has been 
intimately identified with every movement looking to its 
growth and prosperity. Mr. Johnston has also been a real 
force in the promotion of numerous mining enterprises, 
having spent time and money with a lavish hand in the 
development of various raining properties throughout the 
northern Hills during the past twenty years. 


While this continuous stream of emisjration was making 
its way over the hostile plains from the North, South, East, 
and West, in the spring of 1876, many of those who had 
entered during the previous fall and winter, finding them- 
selves stranded in Custer in the spring without a dollar in 
their pockets, and no faith in the country, and their little 
stock of " grub " which they had been economically eking 
out through the winter diminished to nearly the last pot of 
beans and the last slice of bacon, disappointed, disheartened 
and disgusted, went .out of the Hills any way to get out, 
figuratively shaking the dust of the Black Hills off their 
feet (not gold dust) in testimony against them, and many 
of them hurling back bitter anathemas as they went. 
Tenderfeet they were, for the most part, who, lured by 
the golden reports and buoyed with hope, had left com- 
fortable homes, innocently believing that the coveted 
treasure was to be picked up along the wayside by the 
handfuls. Failing to realize their expectations they de- 
nounced the glowing reports sent out broadcast over the 
land as a delusion and a snare. Ah, the poor fellows had 
yet to learn a lesson — the lesson which teaches that it is 
only by months, yea, sometimes years, of hard, unceasing 
toil, under crushing discouragements and disappointments, 
that even the few of those who dig for gold realize their 
dreams. Yes, those outward-bound pilgrims were mostly 



tenderfeet, and as many of them with badly worn shoes, 
some nearly barefoot, had to walk out, it is easy to believe 
that their feet were painfully tender ere reaching their 
homes ; that some of them never reached their destination 
is well known. 




The first town-site laid out and platted in the Black Hills 
was Harney City. The site for the prospective Harney 
City — the city of such wonderful future possibilities ( ?) — 
was regularly surveyed and platted in March, 1875, in the 
valley of French creek, near the stockade. 

The work of laying out the site into streets and blocks 
was done by Lyman Lamb, Thos. H. Russell, and other 
members of the partes it being accomplished by the use of 
a small pocket compass and a picket rope. Harney City, 
however, was but a dream of its founders, as it never ma- 
terialized beyond a few foundations on the most desirable 
corner lots. 

The first miners' meeting ever held in the Black Hills, 
met on French creek, a short distance above the present 
site of Custer City, on or about the 17th day of June, 
1875. There were sixteen persons present at the meeting, 
among whom were A. D. Trask, now of Pactola, Joseph 
Reynolds, and Jas. Corneile. A mining district was organ- 
ized, of which A. D. Trask was chosen recorder. 

Custer is entitled to the distinction of being the first 
town built in the Black. Hills. It was laid out and platted 
on the lOlh of August, 1875; the work of surveying being 
done by Thos. Hooper, aided by a detachment of United 
States soldiers of Major Pollock's command, the inevitable 
pocket compass and picket rope being used for the pur- 
pose. The first plat of the pioneer city was made by 
Thos. Hooper on a piece of birch bark 12x12 inches square, 
as before stated. 


The first ton of gold-beariog quartz taken out of the Black 
Hills for treatment, was mined and transported to Chey- 
enne, Wyoming, by Joseph Reynolds, in August, 1875. 
The ore was mined from a ledge about three and one-half 
miles above Custer City. It was freighted out to Chey- 
enne where it was sampled and shipped to Georgetown, 
Colorado, for treatment; the test from best samples re- 
sulting in seventeen dollars in gold per ton of quartz. 

The first buildingr erected in the Black Hills — barring 
the seven log cabins within the walls- of the stockade — 
was put in course of construction by Dr. D. M. Flick. 
The building was a substantial hewn-log structure, designed 
as a home for his family whenever the way was made clear. 
When this pioneer building neared completion the doctor 
consented to leave the Hills with the exodus of miners, in 
obedience to the order of Gen. Crook in August of that year. 

Soon thereafter the building was completed by Capt^ 
Pollock and occupied by him as military headquarters dur- 
ing the remainder of his stay in the Hills. 

After the withdrawal of the military forces from the 
Hills, Capt. Jack Crawford, the poet-scout, took possession 
of and occupied the building undisturbed until one bright 
morning, about the middle of April, 1876, when Dr. Flick 
drove up to the door of his residence with his family and 
household goods, to find it appropriated by somebody who 
was absent at the time — the doctor didn't know, and didn't 
care a continental who. In nowise daunted by the unfavor- 
able aspect of the situation, he unloaded his goods, took 
formal possession of the building, and awaited develop- 
ments. It is needless to say that the doctor made himself 
quite generally at home, Mrs. Flick meanwhile making 
active preparations for dinner. 

Just as the family was seated at the table enjoying their 
noonday meal under their own vine and fig tree, Capt. Jack, 
with his friend, Attorney T. Harvey, appeared at the door 
and entered unbidden — doubtless greatly surprised to find 


what he regarded as a base usurper comfortably domiciled 
ia his snug quarters. The captaiu, of course, demanded 
an explanation, as well as an unconditional surrender of the 
premises, and asked, sternly: " Sir, by what right, and by 
whose authority are you here?" The doctor replied, de- 
fiantly : " By right of ownership, and by ray own author- 
ity, sir. I need none other. That is good enough for me." 
Capt. Jack, naturally feeling that his most sacred rights 
had been ruthlessly invaded, ordered the doctor to 
"vamoose the ranch" instanter and take all his belong- 
ings with him, or take the consequences. Whereupon the 
doctor, fully conscious of the righteousness of his position, 
quickly reached for his trusty Sharp's rifle, which stood 
conveniently at hand, swiftly leveled it at the " poet- 
scout," and indicating the door, told him to go. The 
captain, though brave and fearless, having faced many 
deadly perils in his lifetime, deeming " discretion the bet- 
ter part of valor," wisely withdrew, to appear again in 
another attitude. 

These conflicting claims resulted in the 


Attorney Tom Harvey, in behalf of his client, Capt. Jack 
Crawford, at once brought action against D. W. Flick for 
forcible entry and detainer (probably), and in due lapse of 
time the case was called up for hearing before Provisional- 
Justice Keifer, and a jury of five miners, good and true. 
Upon the hearing of the evidence pro and con, Attorney 
Harvey, in closing for the prosecution, briefly summed his 
case, in clear, forcible, and convincing language — basing 
his arguments, we may presume, upon two important 
points. First, that inasmuch as every square foot of terri- 
tory, as well as every stick of timber, cut from the trees 
growing in the valley, or along the mountain slopes of the 
Black Hills, belonged by virtue of a solemn treaty to the 
Indians, no title was or could be vested in the defendant. 

Second, that the building, as proven by competent wit- 


The builder of the first cabin erected in the Blaclj Hills in 1875. 


nesses, had been abandoned by the defendant, and was at 
the time of forcible entry in the rightful and peaceable 
possession of his client, therefore, in the absence of title, 
and by virtue of such possession which — he reminded the 
jury — was, in all civilized communities, considered nine 
points of the law, but in the Black Hills was at least ten 
points, or the whole law, he asked that a verdict be ren- 
dered in favor of his client, Capt. Jack Crawford, placing 
him in repossession of the disputed premises. Here the 
prosecution rested. 

In answer, the defendant in his own behalf, rising to the 
full necessity of the occasion, said, with cutting sarcasm, 
that he was as fully cognizant of the impossibility of 
acquiring valid title to property in the Black Hills, as the 
distinguished counsel for the prosecution, and therefore 
admitted that point, and did not deny the claim to posses- 
sion, but that he claimed a title far beyond and above all 
civil law — an equitable claim, under which every man on 
God's footstool has the divine right to reap the fruits of 
his own honest labor. 

The doctor waxed eloquent. He told the jury in telling 
words, and beautifully rounded periods, of how he had 
procured the timber from the virgin forests that adorned 
the hillsides hard by, and had them hauled to the ground 
selected for a home for his family, where they were hewn, 
fashioned and fitted in their respective places in the 
structure — all of which was paid for — in part by the 
sweat of his own brow, but mostly in the true " coin of the 
realm" — good lawful money of Uncle Sam. He told 
also, of how, when the fabric was on the verge of comple- 
tion, he went out of the Hills — like a true patriot, under 
military escort, with the full determination of returning at 
the first favorable opportunity. In his closing peroration, 
it is easy to imagine that the doctor told the jury that he 
proposed to defend his rights at all times, and would allow 
no long-haired, buckskin-clad scout — poet though he be — 
or any other man, to defraud him thereof. 


It is needless to state that the jury of honest miners, 
who are ever on the side of justice and right, rendered a 
verdict for the defendant, D. W. Flicii. Thus ended the 
second h\wsuit (suit in common law) ever tried in the 
Black Hills. 

We are here reminded of a number of similar disputes 
over property in the Black Hills, which, had they been 
submitted to the arbitration of a few disinterested parties, 
would not have resulted, as was sometimes the case, in 
bloodshed and even death. 


The first person killed in the Black Hills after their inva- 
sion by the first expedition was, probably, a man named 
Kiese, in July, 1875. The -particulars of the affair, as far 
as can be ascertained, are, substantially, as follows : Some 
time in July, 1875, a party of about forty men, including 
J. J. Williams, a member of the Collins and Russell ex- 
pedition, was encamped near the Jenny stockade. While 
in camp, Kiese and a man named Jackson left the camp to- 
gether for French creek. After a short absence Jackson 
returned alone, claiming that they had been attacked by a 
band of Indians, when a few miles out from camp, and 
Kiese killed as well as the mule he rode. The story 
not seeming altogether probable, was not believed by many 
of the party. Jackson soon after disappeared from camp 
and was no more seen or heard from. A month later, per- 
haps, the body of Kiese was found covered with brush, in 
a ravine, not far from the Jenny stockade and Jackson 
was strongly suspected of having killed him for a consid- 
erable sum of money that he was known to have had in his 
possession. Be that as it may, he was certainly killed and 
his body found. 

The first hotel in the Black Hills was built in Custer in 
February, 1876, by a man named Druggeman. The same 
man also purchased the first town lot ever sold in the Black 


Hills, the purchase being made of one Jacobs in February, 

The first saw mill in the Black Hills was brought to 
Custer and operated l)y J. F. Murphy in February, 1876. 

In February, 1876, the first store of general merchandise 
in the Black Hills, located in Custer on the south side of 
Custer avenue, between 5th and 6th streets, was opened and 
kept by Jas. Roberts, who, it is said, died in Deadwood 
about the year 1890. 

The first white child born in the Black Hills was Alvena, 
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Sasse, now of Deadwood. 
Little Alvena first opened her wondering, though unap- 
preciative eyes, on the marvelous beauty of Custer Park, 
and expanded her small lungs with the pure bracing air, 
laden with the grateful aroma of the pines that clothe the 
rugged slopes, surrounding the park in which nestles the 
city of her birth, on the 11th of May, 1876. Her life, 
however, was but a brief span, she was hiter taken to 
Deadwood, where, in the following November, she died. 
Alvena, the pioneer baby of the Black Hills, now lies bur- 
ied beneath the reckless tread of many busy feet, some- 
where on the old cemetery hill, back of the Fourth Ward 
school building of Deadwood. 

The first newspaper established in the Black Hills, called 
the Black Hills Weekly Pioneer, was published by W. A. 
Laugh lin and A. W. Merrick, under the firm name of 
Laughlin & Merrick, early in 1876. The proprietors of 
this important pioneer enterprise, with a faith and courage 
almost sublime, transported from Denver, Colorado, to the 
Black Hills, a distance of 400 miles, — in depth of winter, 
a fully-equipped printing outfit, consisting of a press, a 
complete selection of type, and all the necessary material for 
the publication of a daily paper and job office. 

The first half sheet of the Black Hills Pioneer was printed 


ill Custer in May, 187G, but after one issue, the publishers 
reloaded their press and other printing equipments, and 
went with the flood-tide to Deadwood, where it was per- 
manently established as a weekly publication, — the initial 
number, consisting of a half sheet, appearing on June 8th, 
1876. The first number, which was run through the press 
by Joseph Kubler, now of the Custer Chronicle, was struck 
off under inauspicious conditions and circumstances, in- 
deed, the work being done in an unfinished cabin, which 
afforded but scant protection from the untoward elements. 
However, the venture at once proved a great financial suc- 
cess, — a veritable bonanza. The paper was in great de- 
mand, thousands of copies being sold every week at 
twenty-five cents each, many of which found their way to 
the outer newspaper world, where excerpts from its columns 
were freely copied. 

The Black Hills Weekly Pioneer was a wide-awake, 
newsy sheet in 1876, and made its influence felt far and 
wide. Not only did it contain information of the rich 
placer and quartz discoveries and other current news of the 
great mining camp, but also discussions of many of the 
important public questions of the day, especially those 
directly affecting the people of the Black Hills. 

It is now recalled that the Indian problem, — in connec- 
tion with the United States government, was roundly 
abused for its seeming dereliction in duty to the outlawed 
people of the Black Hills ; the territorial question, the 
question of county organization, — in which the head of 
the territorial government of the Dakotas was handled with- 
out gloves, for not doing what he really had no power to 
do, received special consideration. The people of the 
Black Hills believed in the full and unrestrained liberty of 
the press in 1876. 

The brainy young R. B. Hughes — familiarly called Dick 
Hughes, was one of the first compositors on the pioneer 
newspapers, and it is alleged that the way he manipulated 
the type exceeded all subsequent records in the Black 


Hills. He was also local reporter for the paper, and is said 
to be practically the first newspaper reporter in the Black 
Hills. From this Mr. Hughes drifted into journalism, and 
in 1878 became connected with the Rapid City JournaU as 
one of its editorial staff, where he demonstrated that he 
was a clear-cut thinker as well as a polished writer. Dick 
is now United States Surveyor-General for South Dakota. 

Of the brilliant coterie of writers who catered to the 
Black Hills reading public in 1876, the large-hearted, open- 
handed Capt. C. V. Gardner alone remains in the Black 
Hills to-day. Dr. C. W. Myers, Geo. Stokes, Jack 
Langrishe, and Jack Crawford (an occasional contributor 
to the department of poetry), having years since left the 
Hills for other fields. Dr. Myers, a one-time territorial dele- 
gate, than whom few wielded a readier pen, is reported dead. 

Owing to ill health, W. A. Laughlin soon severed his 
connection with the Pioneer, disposing of his interest in 
the concern to C. V. Gardner. Mr. Gardner, whose capi- 
tal and talents gave additional life to the enterprise, made 
his first literary bow to the newspaper readers of the Black 
Hills on July 1st, 1876, continuing his connection with the 
paper for a period of about six months, when it was left to 
the sole management of A. W. Merrick. 

From the date of its establishment as a daily paper on 
May 15th, 1877, the Pioneer had a wonderfully checkered 
history. It had its ins and outs, its fluctuating periods of 
prosperity and adversity — like nearly all newspaper enter- 
prises, dependent upon a shifting community for their 
patronage. Having from that time to share the profits of 
the newspaper field with another daily paper, the Dead- 
wood Times, the question of dollars and cents resolved 
itself into a serious problem, for what with the compe- 
tition and the largely-increased expenditures of conducting 
a daily paper, it was finally found that in reckoning up the 
monthly accounts, pro and con, the balances began to 
show — as figures sometimes have the disagreeable habit of 
doing, — on the wrong side of the ledger. Competition 


may be the life of trade, but it is financial death to one or 
the other, if not both of the competitors, in a newspaper 
business in a narrow field. 

The management of the Pioneer, during its twenty years 
of existence, as a daily paper, changed, financially, editor- 
ially or otherwise, as many as fifteen times, as will appear 
from the appended record. 

In 1877 A. W. Merrick appears to be handling the craft 
alone. In 1878 we find R. O. Adams at the helm, the 
subsequent changes occurring in the following order: In 
1879 Merrick & Adams; in 1880 R. O. Adams; in 1880 
R. D, Kelly (two weeks); in 1881 Vanocker & Merrick; 
in 1885 Frank Vanocker; in 1882 G. G. Bennett (six 
months); in 1883 A. W. Merrick; in 1884 Edwards, 
Pinneo Bros. & Merrick; in 1884 Edwards & Pinneo ; in 
1885-(3 Bonham, Maskey & Moody; in 1886 \V. H. & F. 
M. Bonham; in 188(5-7 Bonham & Kelly; from 1887 to 
1897 the Pioneer Publishing Company, under the man- 
agement of W, H. Bonham. On December 1st, 1887, 
the name Bhick Hills Pioneer, was changed to Dead wood 

On May 15th, 1897, the Deadwood Daily Pioneer and 
the Deadwood Daily Times were merged into one daily 
paper, under the proprietorship of the Pioneer-Times Pub- 
lishing Company, and the editorial and business manage- 
ment of Porter Warner, and W. H. Bonham, respectively. 

When W. H. Bonham became connected with the man- 
agement of the Pioneer in 1885, it was found to be heavily 
incumbered with debt, but, although having a cash capital 
of only $190 to invest in the concern, he succeeded by wise 
economy and skillful business management, in rescuing the 
paper from the financial quicksands into which it was rap- 
idly sinking, and placing it on solid ground, so that when 
it went into the hands of the Pioneer Publislii ng Company, 
in 1887, it was practically free from debt. 

The foregoing record makes it very plain, so plain that 
those who run may read, that A. W. Merrick made a 


Publisher of the first newspaper in the Blacli Hills, established 
in Deaclwood, June 8th, 187G. 


noble and gallant struggle to prolong the life of the first 
newspaper of the Black Hills. 

The first daily newspaper published in the Black Hills 
was established in Deadwood by Porter Warner in the 
early spring of 1876, 

Mr. Warner arrived in Deadwood froui Denver, Colo., 
with a complete press, well equipped with the needed fa- 
cilities and ample material for the publication of a daily 
paper, during the month of March, 1877. He first rented 
the upper story of the then newly erected bank building of 
Stebbins, Wood & Post, on the northwest corner of Main 
and Lee streets, where, on the 7th day of April, 1877, the 
first number of the Deadwood Daily Times was issued. 
The paper was ably and successfully conducted, under the 
sole management and proprietorship of its founder, Porter 
Warner, until May 15th, 1897, when it consolidated with the 
Deadwood Pioneer, under the title of The Pioneer Times. 

The Deadwood Daily Times is also credited with the 
distinction of having been the second daily paper published 
in Dakota Territory. 

The first case ever coming up for adjudication before a 
Black Hills tribunal of any kind, was tried by Justice of 
the Peace Smith of Custer, in February, 1876. The cause 
of action originated in a dispute between Wm. Coad and a 
man named Swartout, as to the rightful ownership of a 
town lot in Custer City. Thos. H. Harvey appeared for 
Swartout and Thos. Hooper for Coad. Thus it will be 
seen that Thos. H, Harvey and Thos. Hooper were the first 
to practice the profession of law in the Black Hills. 

The first authenticated case of murder in the Black Hills 
was the killing of Boueyer, a half-breed Sioux, b}' an 
all-round desperado named C. C. Clayton, in March, 1876. 
When learning of the affair, a large number of the friends 
of the murdered man appeared in Custer, to see that even- 
handed justice be meted out to the slayer of their red brother. 



Clayton was promptly arrested and tried by a jury, before 
Police Justice Keifer, of Custer, and found guilty of mur- 
der in the first degree, with a penalty of death, by hanging, 
affixed to the verdict. 

When the prisoner was arraigned to receive his sentence, 
and just as counsel for the defense was laying down the 
law to the judge, on the illegality of such procedure on the 
part of a provisional court, a sensational scene occurred in 
the court room. A large party of the murderer's sym- 
pathizers, armed to the teeth, arrived from Deadwood, and 
filed into the little court room, and there stood, grim and 
determined, awaiting the decision of the court, prepared 
to rescue the prisoner in case his life was placed in jeopardy. 
At this juncture Attorney Harvey demanded the release of 
the prisoner on the grounds aforementioned, and the 
judge, concluding that he had no option in the matter, 
turned him over into the hands of the citizens of the town, 
who, it is needless to state, escorted him to the limits 
thereof and turned him loose, with a solemn warning not to 
show himself again within the limits of the Black Hills. 

The pioneer banking institution of the Black Hills, — 
called the Miner's & Mechanic's Bank, was established in 
Deadwood in the summer of 1876, by J. M. Woods, now 
of Rapid City. The vault for the safe-keeping of the capi- 
tal stock, surplus, deposits, undivided profits, etc., of the 
Miner's & Mechanic's Bank consisted of an ordinary iron 
safe, which was kept in a frame building, on the east side 
of Main street, occupied at the time by the store of Bough- 
ton & Berry. The principal transactions of this pioneer 
institution consisted in buying and selling gold dust and 
shipping same per account of its owners, making collec- 
tions, etc. It is believed that J. M. Woods was its presi- 
dent, board of directors, and chief stockholder, as well as 
its cashier, teller, and clerk. That the enterprising firm 
coined money during those palmy days, when gold dust 
was lavishly squandered, goes without saying. 


Publisher of the first daily newspaper in the Black Hills, 
established April 7th, 1877. 


J. M. Woods also opened the first harness and saddlery 
shop in the Black Hills, during the same summer, on the 
east side of Main street below Wall street. 

The first religious service ever held in the Black Hills 
was conducted in Custer by Rev. H. W. Smith, the mar- 
tyred Black Hills missionary, on May 7th, 1876. This 
first service was held in a small log cabin without fioor, 
on Custei' avenue, owned by Joseph T. Reynolds, and at 
the time occupied by Mr. Clippinger. After a short stay 
in Custer, Rev. Smith, feeling that duty called him to a 
broader field for Christian effort, left the comparatively 
moral atmosphere of the pioneer city for Deadwood, where 
he arrived on or about the 25th of May, 1876, when he at 
once began to do battle for the right. He opened and 
conducted a series of outdoor eveninij meetinss in Dead- 
wood, on the corner of Main and Gold streets — using a 
dry-goods, or some other kind of a box, for a platform, and 
succeeded, by his intense earnestness and sincerity, in 
nightly drawing around him large numbers of the crowds 
of miners, fighters, and tenderfeet, who jostled along the 
narrow street seeking diversion, despite the many counter- 
attractions on every hand. It is a notable fact — and to 
their everlasting credit be it chronicled — that none of the 
motley crowd, gathered around to listen to his earnest 
teachings, ever attempted, as far as known, to annoy or 
disturb him in his work. His labors were not confined to 
Deadwood alone; he sometimes appointed meetings at dis- 
tant mining camps, and it was in the fulfillment of one of 
these engagements that he met his death. 

On the 20th day of August, 1876, a day that will long 
linger in the memories of the then residents of Deadwood, 
Rev. Smith — notwithstanding he had been warned of the 
extreme danger of the trip — with his Bible and prayer- 
book, his only safeguards, under his arm, started confi- 
dently away over the old mountain trail between Deadwood 
and Centennial for Crook City, where he had engaged 


to hold service, but when near a point on the trail, known by 
old-timers as the **Rest" he was shot to death in his tracks,, 
by one of the Indian stampeders of the " Montana Herd." 

Two hunters, who were at the time engaged in skinning 
a deer near the spot where Smith was killed, hearing a 
horseman approaching, discovered from their concealed 
position that the rider was an Indian. Whereupon, one of 
the hunters, Dan Van Luvin, believing it to be his duty to 
shoot atanj'thing that looked like an Indian, quickly leveled 
his gun and fired, killing the horse and badly wounding the 
Indian. The two hunters then tied precipitately to Dead- 
wood, collected a party and returned to the scene of the 
shooting where they fully expected to find a dead Indian. 
The Indian on the contrary was not dead but sufficiently 
alive to fire a shot into the party killing one of the men,, 
but before he could reload his gun, he was riddled by a 
volley of bullets. Lo, the poor Indian, was game to the 
last, it being found that Van Luvin's shot had broken both 
of his legs and one of his arms. 

Rev. Smith was found lying where he fell, with arms 
folded across his breast, his Bible and prayer-book resting 
on his bosom. He was not scalped or otherwise mutilated : 
per<;hance the savages surmised and respected his calling. 
He died in the harness, doing his Master's work. 

His grave, in the cemetery on one of the hills overlooking 
Deadwood on the south, is marked by a life-sized figure 
standing on a square pedestal which bears the inscription. 
It is cut from native red sandstone and was erected in 
October, 1891, by his " Black Hills Friends." 

The first gold produced from quartz by process of 
machinery in the Black Hills, was extracted from ore 
mined from the Chief of the Hills, situated about one mile 
above the mouth of Black Tail. 

In August, 1876, Gardner & Co. and I. Chase pur- 
chased from the original locators, California Joe and Jack 
Hunter, a one-half interest in the mine and at once 




commenced the construction of a home-made wooden Arastra 
near the mine for crushing the ore. In the clean-up from 
the first run made by this crude machine, was found a good- 
sized nugget, which, in commercial vaUie, was worth about 
115.00. The clean-up was made in early part of September, 

The first plant for the manufacture of the popular bev- 
erage (beer) in the Black Hills, was established by L. 
S. Parkhurst & Co., temporarily at Custer, afterward 
permanently in Deadwood, in June, 1876. 

It was in July, 1876, that Jack Langrishe, the idol of 
the early Western mining camps, blazed the way and estab- 
lished the first theater for the " legitimate " in the Black 
Hills. The Langrishe Troupe, which included Mrs. Lan- 
grishe and two other ladies, with a wagon load of stage 
accessories and an extensive repertory, arrived in Dead- 
wood on or about July 10th, 1876, and as there was no 
building in the embryo city suitable for the purpose, 
immediate steps were taken to provide a place of sufficient 
capacity to accommodate the amusement-loving community 
of that great mining camp. A large frame theater build- 
ing was put in process of construction on the south side of 
Main street on the lots now occupied by Max Fischel and 
John Herman. 

Soon the skeleton structure was inclosed on its four 
sides by using part canvas, the supply of lumber not being 
equal to the demand ; then covered with a canvas roof and 
laid with sawdust floor ; the internal economy was ar- 
ranged ; a stage with the necessary entrances and exits 
was hastily constructed and finished by a few skillful 
sweeps and daubs of the scenic artist's brush ; rows and 
rows of rough hard seats, odds and ends of lumber, were 
nailed together in the big auditorium, when the pioneer 
theater building of the Black Hills was ready for the first 


Pending the final touches on the building, the camp was 
billed for the first show, and indeed it does not seem 
twenty-one years since the log cabins, sprinkled with a few 
more pretentious frame business buildings along the nar- 
row street of the embryo city, the trees, the huge boul- 
ders and the rocky headlands up and down the gulches, 
were made radiant by the glaring posters, announcing the 
firvSt appearance of the celebrated Langrishe theatrical 
troupe in the Black Hills. 

The first performance in the new theater building was 
given on the night of Saturday, July 22d, 1876, on which 
important occasion the house was crowded to the doors, 
and doubtless it will be remembered by many that there 
came up a heavy sweeping rain during the performance 
which, penetrating through the canvas roof, soon came 
pouring down in copious streams upon the devoted heads 
of the audience and actors alike. Yet despite the damp- 
ness of their environments, the enthusiasm of the audience 
was not dampened to any great extent, as but few left the 
house. Who could forego the delight of seeing the inimi- 
table Jack Langrishe in one of his funny roles? 

By the waj', Langrishe was held in high estimation by 
the pla3^-goers of Deadwood camp, not only for his capa- 
bility as an actor, but for his sterling qualities as a man, 
by reason of which he usually played to crowded houses, 
but it was on Saturday and Sunday nights that the man- 
agement scooped in the gold dust. 

As an all-round actor Langrishe was considered exceed- 
ingly clever, but in the arena of old-style comedy he was 
par excellence, and also a perfect master of the art of facial 
expression. An occasion is now recalled when his part 
required that he fail to grasp a point that was as plain as 
noonday to everybody else, and to follow his changing 
expression which from that of the densest stupidity gradu- 
ally brightened, as the light of comprehension began to 
dawn upon his benighted mind, until his broad good- 
natured face beamed with the effulgence of supreme intelli- 


The old time Black Hills comedian. 


gence, was truly a rare treat. We do not often see his 
equal as a comedian. Mrs. Langrishe too, as leading lady, 
was an actress of no small ability, and whether she imper- 
sonated an Irish servant girl fresh from the Emerald Isle, 
a dude, or a red-headed cowboy, she looked and acted her 
part to perfection. 

During the following month, the Langrishe audiences 
were frequently treated to free shower baths, and usually, 
as fate decreed it, at the most absorbing stage of the per- 
formances. About the middle of August, a waterproof 
roof was substituted for the canvas, in which condition, it 
is believed, the building served its purpose until 1878, when 
a new and larger theater building was constructed on Sher- 
man street, on the lots just south of those now occupied by 
the B. & M. Railway Depot. This building was destroyed 
by the disastrous fire of 1879, when Deadvvood was nearly 
obliterated from the map of the Black Hills. 

The first masonic funeral services ever held in the Black 
Hills were conducted in the Langrishe theater building on 
Main street, in August, 1876, the rites and ceremonies of 
the order being performed by Sol. Star. The deceased 
was a man who died at the Woods Hotel, Deadwood. 

The first duel fought in the Black Hills took place on a 
street at Crook City on July 18th, 1875, between Jas. 
Shannon and Thos. Moore, resulting in the death of the 
former — the challenged party. The occurrence, although 
not strictly an aflair of honor, and not conducted altogether 
according to the requirements of the code-duello, was 
nevertheless a real duel. 

' The trouble originated in the saloon of C. D. Johnston* 
and was the result of an altercation over some money 
matter, the particulars of which are briefly and substan- 
tially as follows. 

Shannon asked of the proprietor of the saloon a loan of 
$50.00 to back his horse on a race that was to come off. 


which was refused. Failing in this he turned and made a 
similar request of Moore who also refused the accommoda- 
tion, which so aroused his ire that he proceeded to assault 
Moore, who, to settle the difficulty, challenged his assailant 
to a duel. In the absence of seconds, the principals agreed 
to choose their weapons and shoot each other at sight, and 
both started for their guns. Moore soon returned but 
finding Shannon still unarmed, did not shoot in accordance 
with the terms, but requested his antiigonist to go at once 
and arm himself. Shannon then went for his gun, and in 
about fifteen minutes put in an appearance, when both fired 
almost simultaneously. Shannon falling mortally wounded 
at the first shot. Moore also fell, perhaps shocked by the 
concussion, but was unhurt. The body of the dead duelist 
was placed in charge of Dr. R. D. Jennings, now a resident 
of Hot Springs, who impaneled a coroner's jury to hold 
an inquest, which resulted in a verdict of justifiable homi- 
cide. Preceding the burial, Mr. A. S. Garrison went out 
a few miles northeast of Crook City and dug a grave, where 
Whitewood now stands, but the small funeral procession 
refused to go so far, as the Indians were much in evidence 
in the locality at the time, so it halted and buried the body 
on a hill, about half way between Crook City and White- 
wood, where the grave may be seen to-day. 

The first quartz mill to reach the Black Hills was brought 
in by Capt. C. V. Gardner & Co., during the early fall of 
1876. The machinery of this pioneer quartz mill, consist- 
ing of what is known as a Blake Crusher and a BalthofF 
Ball Pulverizer, was purchased by Capt. Gardner, at Cen- 
tral Colorado, and shipped by rail to Cheyenne, Wyoming, 
whence it was transported b}' the May & Appel fast freight 
line, to its point of destination near Gayville, passing 
through Deadwood en route on September 25th, 1876. 
The plant was operated on the rich conglomerate ore taken 
from the historic Hidden Treasure Mine, on Spring gulch. 
Before the close of 1876, about $20,000 in gold was pro- 


Who brought the first quartz mill to the Bla-ik Hills 
on September 25th, 1876. 


diiced from the ore, piilverize({ by the tumbling balls in the 
■cylinder of the crude little plant. The Hidden Treasure 
Mine was discovered and located by Thomas O'Neal on 
May 13th, 1876, and later came into the possession of 
Gardner & Co. by purchase. 

The first stamp mill to make its advent in the Black Hills 
was brought in by Milton E. Pinney in the late fall of 1876. 
The mill, a ten-battery plant, was purchased by Mr. Pin- 
ney at Central Colorado, and shipped b}^ rail to Cheyenne, 
and from there transported by Wood Foglesong, under 
contract with the purchasers at $12.50 per 100 pounds to 
Central, where it was erected on the Alpha and Omega 
property located near Central. Upon the arrival of the 
mill on the ground, Woolsey, Jones, and Rowland, owners 
of the Alpha and Omega mines, convej'ed a half interest in 
their mining property to Pinney & Lorton, in considera- 
tion of a half interest in the mill, thus giving to each of 
the contracting parties an equal proprietary interest in the 
mines and mill. 

J. M. Brelsford and Aaron Dunn, now of Deadwood, and 
W. E. Jones, of Sturgis, assisted in the work of building 
the plant, which commenced dropping its ten stamps on 
December 30, 1876. This mill was operated, with short 
periods of interruption, on ore taken from the Alpha or 
Omega Mines, perhaps it will be more correct to say the 
Alpha and Omega, until 1885, when the engine and boiler 
were removed to Sturgis by W. E. Jones to be utilized in 
A saw mill near that place where they are still in occa- 
sional use. The worn-out batteries were thrown aside, 
having served their day. 

The Alpha Mine, a conglomerate crystallized quartz 
proposition, was discovered and located by Jas. Wolsey, 
a Californian, W. E. Jones, and M. V. Rowland, on May 
12th, 1876. A little later the Omega mine was located by 
the same parties, in such a way that it overlapped the 
richer portion of the Alpha location, at which point of inter- 


section the ore pounded out by the batteries of the first 
stamp mill was mined. 

The introduction and successful operation of these two 
pioneer quartz mills exerted a powerful influence in bring- 
ing the Black Hills into public prominence as a gold-pro- 
ducing region; in attracting capital, eager for profitable 
investment, thereto, and in encouraging new discoveries 
and future developments. Their operations convinced the 
world that there was plenty of gold, bright gold, buried 
beneath the pine-clad hills of the new El Dorado, awaiting 
similar developments and needing improved and more ex- 
tensive machinery to convert it into commercial value, and 
it is thought that those enterprising pioneers who expended 
their energies, and risked thousands of money in bringing 
the Black Hills to the fore, are deserving of more credit 
than the average man or woman in this day and generation 
think to accord. 

It may be proper to state here for the benefit of those 
who know less about mining than an old Black Hills' 
pioneer, that there is a distinction as well as a difference 
between a stamp mill and a quartz mill. Paradoxical as it 
may seem a stamp mill is essentially a quartz mill, but a 
quartz mill is not necessarily a stamp mill. In a stamp mill 
the ore is pulverized by stamp batteries, while in a quartz 
mill other agencies may be employed for the purpose, as 
in the case of the Bolthoff and Ball Pulverizer brought into 
the Hills by Capt. Gardner, which pulverized the ore by 
the rolling and tumbling of iron balls in a huge cylinder. 

The first gold dust to the amount of $1,000, sent out 
of the Black Hills, was carried from Custer City to Chey- 
enne, by Emil Faust, now of Lead City, in the early part 
of March, 1876. The gold was produced for the most part 
from the placer deposits along the streams of the southern 
and central Hills, during the late fall of 1875, and was 
given into the custody of Mr. Faiist by several miners, to 
be invested for their benefit in supplies. As there were 


Who brought the first starap mill to the Black Hills in the fall 

of 1876. 


no highway robbers on the road, and but few Indians on 
the warpath at that early date in 1876, the hazard of carry- 
inw so much sold was, by virtue of these facts, reduced to 
a minimun. 

The first large shipment of gold dust from the Black 
Hills was made by the Wheeler Brothers, late in the fall of 
1876. Those old mountaineers had, during the summer 
and fall of 1876, sluiced out thousands upon thousands of 
o-litterino: gold from claim No. 2 below " Discovery " on 
Deadwood gulch. Some alleged that they also worked the 
lower half of No. 1 below ; the exact number of thousands 
is not, and probably never will be, known. The amount 
has been variously estimated at from $50,000 to $150,000, 
and even more. At any rate, the boys had made a big 
stake and were evidently satisfied. After going pretty 
thoroughly over their claim, they sold out the residue of 
the gold in the ground and in the tailings for two or three 
thousand more, when they were ready to turn their backs 
upon the Black Hills with their pockets filled to overflow- 
ing with Black Hills gold. 

As the country surrounding the Hills was still filled with 
depredating bands of the hostile Indians — returned from 
the battles of the Little Big Horn, and with numerous white 
desperadoes, who were even more to be feared than the 
Indians, the question as to the best means by which to ship 
so large an amount of gold became a matter of grave 
importance, and one demanding serious consideration. 
They finally selected and employed a strong guard from 
among the experienced miners — old mountaineers who, to 
use a vulgar phrase, had been there before — to escort the 
train and guard their golden treasure out of the Black 
Hills, for a consideration of $25 per day, until reaching the 
railroad. Other miners along the gulches who had a sur- 
plus of gold dust, upon hearing of this arrangement for 
shipment took advantage of the opportunity to ship with 
them, thus increasing the amount of shipment by about 
),000 — a tempting bait for an alert road agent. For- 


tunately, however, owing to the secrec}^ with which the 
arraugements were made, the first large shipment of gold 
from the Black Hills reached the railway without encoun- 
tering any serious trouble. 

The Congregational Church of Deadwood is, beyond 
■question, entitled to the proud distinction and honor of 
having formed the tirst religious society ever organized in 
the Black Hills. Late in the fall of 1876 Rev. L. P. 
Norcross was sent by the American Home Mission Society 
to Deadwood, where he began the work which, after 
twenty-one years of hard, earnest Christian effort, has 
culminated in the large and prosperous society of to-day. 

Few, perhaps, of those who now worship God nnder the 
domes of commodious church buildings of approved church 
architecture, with stained-glass windows, cushioned seats 
and richly-carpeted aisles, heated by furnaces and illumined 
with incandescent lights, fully realize the uncomfortable 
environments and limitations under which the nucleus of 
the pioneer church organization of the Black Hills was 

At first the devoted and self-sacrificing missionary, sent 
to bring Deadwood sinners to repentance, and keep others 
in the straight and narrow path, had, perforce, to conduct 
his services here and there, wherever a place could be 
secured for the purpose — in buildings wholly unsuitable 
for the purpose, whose roofs were not always impervious 
to rain, furnished with seats of rough boards without 
cushions or backs, and lighted by a couple of kerosene 
lamps. In such places Rev. Norcross, from a slightly 
elevated platform — sometimes a mere box of some kind — 
read his notes, if it was evening service, by the dim 
rays of a coal oil lamp, while his listeners sat bolt upright 
in their backless seats, sometimes shivering with cold. 
Yes, this is a realistic picture — rather underdrawn. 

Rev. Norcross held his first -services in Deadwood at the 


Internalional Hotel on Main street, at the opening of which 
service only five persons were present, this number, how- 
ever, increasing to twenty-five or thirty before its close. 
After two or three Sundays the building was rented for 
a meat shop, when, for several Sundays, services were 
conducted in the dining room of the Centennial Hotel. 

The Deadwood theater building on Main street was then 
tendered by its proprietor. Jack Langrishe, which generous 
otfer, owing to the impracticability of heating the building, 
and the fact that entertainments were frequently held in 
the evening, was not accepted. The, society then com- 
menced holding their meetings in a carpenter's shop in 
South Deadwood, opposite Boughton and Berry's sawmill, 
where services were continued for three or four months, 
the fuel and lights being furnished free of charge by Col. 
Backus. Occasional services were also held at other 
places during the fall and winter of 1876 and 1877. About 
the middle of January, 1877, the church proper was 
organized, at which time, it is said, nine persons united by 

In this connection I am reminded of a very amusing 
incident that occurred, one evening when I was attending 
services in a building situated, as I remember it, up toward 
the point of McGovern hill. I think it was in 1877, and 
the place may have been the first building erected by the 
Congregational church. Be that as it may, during the ser- 
vice a brisk shower came up, and soon the rain began to 
percolate freely through the unfinished roof of the build- 
ing, when, just as Rev. Norcross began his closing bene- 
diction, a shrill childish voice piped out, and fell upon the 
startled ears of the hushed congregation: "Oh, Mr. 
Norcross! Mr. Norcross, its a-eaking on me! " — meaning 
leaking — and no mistake it was a-eaking on the little tot, 
as well as the rest of us, including Rev. Norcross. It is 
needless to say that the little congregation was convulsed. 
By the eftbrts of the ladies and private subscriptions, 
suflScient funds were raised to build a church edifice and 



purchase an organ, which, on July 9th, 1877, was turned 
over to the trustees of the organization. 

The first settler to avail himself of the pre-emption law 
in the Black Hills was Mr. Jones, who made settlement on 
160 acres of Section 10, Township 6, Range 2 East, on 
December 5th, 1879, making filing No. 1 on January 27th, 
1879, the same day the plat was received at the United 
States Land Office at Deadvvood. 

The first settlement in Black Hills under the Homestead 
Act was made by Joseph Ransdell, of Spearfish, who made 
entry No. 1 at the United States Land Office on February 
3d, 1879, of 160 acres of Section 10, Township G, Range 2 
East of Black Hills meridian. 

The first man in the Black Hills to avail himself of the 
act to encourage the growth of timber on the Western 
prairies was E. D. Knight, who made Timber Culture Entry 
No. 1 at United States Land Office on April 16th, 1879. 

The government survey of the township and range in 
which the first entries are located, was made by Charles 
Scott in the summer and fall of 1878, and the plat filed in 
the United States Land Office at Deadwood on January 
27th, 1879. 

The first herd of beef cattle to arrive in the Black Hills 
was brought in by Mart Boughton and a man called 
" Skew " Johnston, from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Whether 
or not " Skew " was his real name, is an open question. 

The first minstrel troupe in the Black Hills appeared in 
Custer on August 18th, 1876, and gave their first perform- 
ance that night in Long Branch Hall. Admission fee, 75 

The first livery stable in the Black Hills was opened in 
Deadwood by Clark & Morill, in the spring of 1876. 



CUSTER IN 1876, 

Custer narrowly escaped achieving a place on the pages 
of Black Hills history under another name. It may not 
be generally known that the pioneer town of the Black 
Hills was once named Stonewall, in honor of the brave 
Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Yet it is never- 
theless a fact, a fact, however, of which it has no reason 
to feel ashamed, as it in no way reflects discredit upon Cus- 
ter's fair fame and honored name, to have once borne the 
suggestive appellation given to that gallant defender of the 
" lost cause." 

We have it upon authentic authority that as early as 
July, 1875, a town-site company was organized, and the 
present site of Custer laid out, and called Stonewall, which 
name it bore until its reorganization a month later. 

On the 10th day of August, 1875, at a mass meeting of 
nearly all the miners then in the Black Hills, who had 
gathered there in compliance with the order of Gen. 
Crook, a new town-site company was organized, and a 
board of trustees elected, of which Tom Hooper was 
chosen clerk. On that day a site, one mile square, about 
two and one-half miles above the stockade on French 
creek, was surveyed, laid out, platted, and by unanimous 
choice christened Custer in honor of the brave, intrepid 
leader of the first military expedition to penetrate the 
Black Hills, Gen. G. A. Custer. The platted town-site 
was then divided into lots from one to 1200 and on the 
11th day of August, 1875, several hundred miners became 
(through the medium of a lottery) nominal, if not defacto^ 
owners of Black Hills real estate to the extent of a town 
lot in Custer. As before stated, the survey of the site was 


made with a small pocket compas3, the lines laid by means 
of picket ropes, and the plat drawn on a piece of birch 
bark twelve inches square, stripped from a tree growing 
on the border of French creek. 

By permission of Gen. Crook, a detachment of United 
States soldiers aided in the work of survey. The plat, 
which has unfortunately been lost, was drawn by Tom 

Among the first permanent settlers in Custer were D. 
W. Flick, Sam Shankland, Tom Hooper, and D. K. 
Snively, whose respective feet trod the ground upon which 
the prosperous city of to-day stands, even before the site 
was laid and called Stonewall. In March, 1876, the town 
of Custer, which then comprised the major part of the 
population of the Black Hills, asserted itself and assumed 
the dignity of a full-fledged municipality. A mass conven- 
tion of the people of the Hills was held, at which all neces- 
sary city officers were duly elected. This same convention 
also organized a provisional government for the entire Black 
Hills, established a superior court, whose jurisdiction was to 
extend over the uncertain length and breadth of the Black 
Hills, which court was constituted a tribunal of last resort 
for all legal transactions within its jurisdiction until 
such time as regularly authorized courts should be estab- 
lished by the government. This convention elected Thos. 
Hooper Judge of the Supreme Court. The municipal 
officers elected were as follows: Mayor, Dr. Bemis ; Justice 
of the Peace, E. P. Keiffer; City Marshal, John Burrows. 
Among the twelve members of the Council were: Capt. 
Jack Crawford, D. K. Snively, S. R. Shankland, Cyrus 
Abbey, D. Wright, Emil Faust, — Robinson; others not 
known. In November, 1876, another election was held 
and the following full complement of municipal officers 
elected, viz. : Supreme Judge, J. W. C. White ; City Clerk, 
S. R. Shankland; City Attorney, G. H.Mills; City Treas- 
urer, W. H. Harlowe ; City Marshal, Michael Carroll; 
City Surveyor, A. J. Parshall; City Assessor, Joseph 


Judge of the Black Hills Superior Court, established in lieu of 
regular courts, by the people of the Black Hills, in con- 
vention assembled at Custer City, in March, 1876. 


Reynolds; Justices of the Peace, I. W. Getchell, W. A. 
Freeze, and A. B. Hughes; Board of Trustees, G. W. 
Rothrock, President and ex-officio Mayor, G. V. Ayres, 
Joseph Bliss, W. H. Bunnell, E. Schlewning, G. A. Clark, 
W. D. Gardner, D. K. Snively, F. B. Smith, E. G. Ward, 
M. Woodward, and A. Yerkes. 

CUSTER IN 1876. 

Custer, which in the marvelously short period of the 
three months prior to its emergence from its swaddling 
clothes had expanded from a few prospectors into a popu- 
lation of from six to seven thousand souls, was destined ere 
many months to become nearly depopulated. 

The alluring reports reaching that southern camp of the 
rich gold discoveries in the northern gulches of Dead wood 
and Whitewood, quickly emptied the new city of its entire 



floating population; miners, eager to find richer fields for 
mining operations; business men actuated by similar eco- 
nomic considerations, soon followed in their wake, until 
finally, it is said, only fourteen of the thousands remained 
in the city to direct its future destinies and to lay the 
foundation of a more enduring prosperity. 

Although the blow inflicted upon the aspiring young city 
was severe, it was by no means vital, it giving only a tem- 
porary shock from which with wonderful recuperative 
powers, stimulated by the push and energy of a few deter- 
mined men, it gradually recovered. Failing to find a place 
to drive their stakes in the upper gulches, a few of the 
deserters soon returned, ready to pin their faith to the 
pioneer city and the southern gulches. 

One of those who stood resolutely by the town was 
Samuel Shankland, whom no distant enchantment or big 
stampede ever had power to swerve from his steadfast 
loyalty to the town he helped to found. 

Ever since the day in June, 1875, when he, with one sole 
companion, stood trembling on a bluff" overlooking the val- 
ley of French creek, furtively watching from behind a high 
ledge of micaceous rock, the dreaded blue coats of Col. 
Dodge's command, he has been true to his first love. 

As the government had, in the late fall of 1875, with- 
drawn all opposition to immigration into the Black Hills, 
so it had also practically withdrawn all protection to the 
people, thus leaving them in the spring of 1876 to depend 
entirely upon their own resources for means of defense 
against the hostilities of the Sioux, who would, with the 
opening of the buds and the sprouting of grass, be on the 
warpath. Realizing this danger, the people of the exposed 
settlements began early to organize for defensive opera- 
tions against Indian surprises which were sure to come. 

Custer, owing to its location on one of the principal lines 
of travel into the Hills, occupied an inviting position for 
Indian raids, so its citizens, wide awake to the peril that 
menaced their lives and property, about the middle of 


March, 1876, formed an organization, consisting of 125 men, 
composed of the best bone and sinew of the city, known 
as the *' Custer Minute Men," to serve as a home-guard. 
At the head of this organization was Capt. Jack Oawford, 
the famous government scout, with Chas. Whitehead as 
his First-lieutenant. The organization was effected none 
too soon, as early in April hostilities began. 

These Indian depredations were directed chiefly against 
small parties of immigrants, making their way into the 
Hills, while passing through the gloomy defiles of Buff'alo 
Gap and Red Canyons, springing suddenly out upon them 
from ambush, capturing their horses, destroying their 
goods, and often killing the owners who fell bravely 
defending their property. 

Frequently small bands of the red thieves would ride 
their fleet ponies to the limits of the town, dismount and 
sneak stealthily to where horses were grazing, cut the 
lariat ropes, then mount and away with ill-gotten booty 
like a flash. Occasionally, they even made bold dashes 
right through the town, — yelling like demons in seeming 
defiance of the settlers, who, mounting in hot haste, would 
follow in distant pursuit, — usually too late to overtake the 
bold marauders. The following extract from a letter, 
written by a well-known and honored pioneer of 1876, 
Samuel Booth, now deceased, to the Oskosh Times, describ- 
ing his journey from Sidney to the Black Hills in April, 
1876, will pretty clearly illustrate the dangerous environ- 
ments of the pioneer city at that time. In his closing 
paragraphs he says : — 

" Now we find ourselves in the Black Hills proper. 
The roads are rough and rocky, and the hills are covered 
with a thick growth of Norway pine. About noon we 
came upon three wagons that had been captured by the 
Indians. Everything in them that had not been carried 
ofi* was destroyed; cofiee mills broken, flour scattered 
about; harness cut into small pieces, and wagons shot full 
of balls. About a half mile further on we came to another 


place where there had been a battle; — blood on the 
stones, — any amount of cartridge shells, and other signs 
that showed that we were near to business. That night 
we all stood with our guns in our hands and the next day 
we drove into Custer — sixteen days from Sidney. 

" I had slept only a short nap at noon since I left the 
Bad Lands, and now that we were safe in sight of a thousand 
men, and where the sound of axes, hammers, and saws, 
seemed equal to Oskosh, and miners were turning French 
creek in every direction, my first thought was to get a 
little sleep. I accordingly threw a blanket on the ground, 
dropped upon it, and was soon in the land of ' Nod.' 
How long I slept I do not know, but I do know that 1 was 
aroused by somebody falling over me, — coffee pots and 
frying pans rattling, women and children screaming, guns 
rattling, and last, but not least, about a dozen Indians gal- 
loping across the valley, yelling like mad. The next 
minute, and before we could get our guns ready, they had 
dashed into the timber on the other side of the valley and 
were gone, taking several head of horses with them. 
Hurrah, for the ' Custer Minute Men ! ' Saddle and bridle 
your poor skeleton horses and give chase. In fifteen min- 
utes they are in motion; — and in an hour and a half they 
came back leading their poor jaded horses, and thus ended 
another raid on Custer." 

The above is a true picture of the temper of the hostiles 
in 187(3. During the month of April at least three sep- 
arate parties of emigrants were attacked in Buff'alo Gap 
Canyon, whose outfits were found in the condition described 
in Mr, Booth's letter. In one case the scene of attack 
gave evidence that there had been a fierce conflict between 
the savages and their victims. 

Among the first and most atrocious of the bloody deeds 
committed in the spring of 1876 was the killing of Col. 
Brown and another of his party, and the massacre of the 
Metz family in Red Canyon when on their way out of the 


One of Custer's early settlers in 1876. 



Col. Brown, familiarly known as Stuttering Brown, 
agent of the Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage Co., and an- 
other man, whose name is unknown, were killed, and a 
man called " Curley " badly wounded, at a point near the 
mouth of Red Canyon, on April 22d, 1876. Col. Brown 
was on his way out from Custer to Cheyenne with his two 


companions, to look up a more practicable route to the 
Hills, and to establish stations along the line thereof for 
the above mentioned company, when they met their doom. 
The Indians (if Indians they were) swooped down upon the 
little party from behind a projecting headland, at a time 
and place, perhaps, when they least expected an attack, 
mortally wounding the two and dangerously wounding the 


other. They were found and carried to the Cheyenne 
river station, where Col. Brown died that night, the other 
dying the next day. " Curley," the driver of the team, was 
taken first to Hat Creek station, where he laid for many 
days in a little log hut, hovering between life and death. 
As soon as it was possible to move the wounded man he 
was conveyed to Fort Laramie, where he finally recovered. 
Many believe that the deed was not committed by the 
Indians but by a character called Persimmons Bill and his 
associates, in an attempt to get possession of the horses 
belonging to the company. More, however, believe the 
perpetrators to have been Indians. Be that as it may, the 
horses were taken, while the wagon, riddled with bullets 
and bespattered with blood, was found, upturned, near the 
scene of the attack. The scene of the tragedy gave evi- 
dence that the men sold their lives dearly. 


Two days later, April 24th, the Metz party, consisting 
of husband and wife, a man who drove the team, and a 
colored woman, while on their way out from Custer to their 
home in Laramie City, Wyoming, in passing through Red 
Canyon were pounced upon by a band of ambushed savages 
and every member of the defenseless little party brutally 
massacred. After lying there, scattered along the trail as 
tempting bait for the hungry vultures for many hours, 
three of the victims were found, taken to the Cheyenne 
river stage station, and temporarily buried. After a few 
days the other victim (the colored woman) was found in a 
ravine a little distance away, her body pierced with numer- 
ous arrows. It appeared that she had attempted to escape, 
was overtaken in her flight and murdered. Mrs. Metz also 
had attempted to escape, as her body was found nearly a 
half mile from the point of attack where the demolished 
vs^agon and goods, scattered broadcast, were found. There 
was one notable feature about those early Indian attacks, 
viz. : that they rarely took the provisions of their victims, 



and indeed they had no need to as those graceless wards 
of the government were amply provided with rations. 


From the latter part of May until after the battles of the 
Little Big Horn, the people of the Hills had a comparative 
surcease from Indian outrages. A little before the middle 
of July, however, the hosts of Crazy Horse, who had Hed 
from that sanguinary battlefield towards the Black Hills 
before Gen. Crook's pursuing army, separated into numer- 
ous small bands and emboldened by their recent victory 
and with whetted appetites, renewed aggressive operations 
against the outposts of the Hills on the north, south, and 
east. For the two following months those flitting bandits 
seemed to be omnipresent and there was no telling when 
nor where they would make their unwelcome presence felt. 
Scarcely a day passed that did not bring to light some dark 
tragedy for which they were responsible. Men were way- 
laid and murdered in almost every part of the Hills ; trains 
were harassed and beleaguered along all the lines thereto ; 
horses were stolen and run off; herds of cattle were driven 
away, slaughtered and jerked before they could be over- 
taken; in short, the people of the exposed settlements 
were kept in a chronic state of horror and suspense. Verily, 
those were days that tried the souls of the pioneers. 

In the early part of July, word came from Gen. Crook to 
Custer that a large band of 800 Indians was making its 
way towards the Black Hills, with the avowed purpose of 
driving out the white settlers from their country, creating 
no little excitement and consternation, — especially among 
the women and children, of whom there were a consider- 
able number in the city. On receipt of this alarming in- 
formation, a meeting of the citizens was called to consider 
measures for the better defense of the city — when the 
building of a stockade, large enough to afford a refuge for 
the population of the city in the event of an attack, was 
agreed upon. Money and work were liberally subscribed. 


and the next morninof a large force of men was at work 
upon the building, which was hurried to speedy completion. 
The immense log structure of 100x150 square feet was 
built on the north side of Custer avenue, across Seventh 
street, which point, although central, was not within speedy 
reach of many residents in case of a surprise. 

For this reason two of Custer's enterprising citizens — 
Joseph Reynolds and H. A. Albion — who lived several 
blocks away from the stockade, determined to construct 
private fortifications for the benefit of their own respective 
families and those of their nearest neighbors, to which 
they would be able to escape, without encountering Indian 
bullets, at the first signal of alarm. These two fortifica- 
tions were planned and constructed wholly along under- 
ground lines, and reflected great credit upon the ingenuity 
of the designers. 

An underground passage-way was first dug from their 
cabins to a distance of about fifteen feet, where a room 
ten feet square, and just deep enough to permit an average 
man to stand erect, was excavated ; along the top margin 
of the excavation were laid hewn timbers, into which 
numerous portholes were bored, and through which all 
Indians coming within the range, long or short, of their 
guns, were to be perforated; a board roof covered with 
a thick layer of earth completed the works — making 
altogether an ideal underground fort. Fortunately, the 
people of Custer were never compelled to take refuge 
within the fortifications, as no formidable force of Indians 
ever assailed the city. However, small bands were to be 
seen, almost daily, skulking around the outskirts of the 
city, stealing horses and killing many of those who ven- 
tured outside the city limits. 


On July 24th ten heads of horses were run off while the 
herder was at dinner. A party of ten mounted men started 
at once in pursuit of the thieves, and, after a long chase, 


came, about dark, upon two of the stolen horses, shot 
through the head, when the chase was given up. 

On July 27th two teams belonging to a large freight 
train, about ready to start to Sidney for goods, was driven 
out a little distance beyond the city limits, to get better 
grazing until the train should come along. eTust as the 
horses were unhitched from the wagons and before the 
harness was removed, seven Indians dashed up with a 
whoop, captured and drove off the four horses with their 
harness on, the two men having the horses in charge very 
wisely running away at the first whoop of the savages. 
This easy conquest emboldened them to come nearer the 
city, but they encountered a man the next time who was 
not so easily frightened, as will be seen. 

A man by the name of Welch who had camped for the 
night in one of the vacant buildings on the outskirts of the 
city, was letting his four horses graze, watched by him- 
self and son, while his wife was preparing supper within 
the cabin, when six of the Indians galloped up and at- 
tempted to drive off the four horses, at the same time 
firing their guns at the men, one of the balls just grazing 
the cheek of the elder Welch. "I'll not run a single step 
for the whole race of yez," he yelled, making a motion as 
if brushing it away from his cheek. Quickly his Sharp's 
rifle came to his shoulder, and he began throwing back 
lead at the would-be thieves, when one of them sank down 
in his saddle, badly, if not fatally wounded. In the mean- 
time Mrs. Welch had rushed in between the two firing 
parties, caught two of the horses and led them into an 
empty cabin — the other two following, and then with rifle 
in hand, came out and joined her husband and son in the 

The Indians, finding the plucky Celts more than a match 
for them, rode hastily away, two of them riding beside 
their wounded or dead comrade. As they rode away Mr. 
Welch, Sr., called out to them, at the same time shaking 
his fist threateningly toward them, " Bad cess to yez, ye 


thavin', murtherin' spalpeens. By the howly Moses, if 
oi had a howld of yez, its mesilf would give yez sich a 
batin' as yez niver dhraraed uv." Two boys who had wit- 
nessed the whole affray from behind a log, thought they 
could easily have killed the six Indians, if they had been 
provided with guns. This raid created intense excitement 
in Custer. A hundred armed men were in the street in a 
minute after the alarm was sounded, and in a very brief 
time twenty-five " minute men," were in their saddles, 
ready to start in pursuit of the Indians, but were just in 
time to see them disappear in the thick timber. 


During those terrible days, a small party, among whom 
was a man named Ganzio, left Custer for Fort Laramie. 
When near Hat Creek Station, Ganzio, while looking for a 
place to camp, a little in advance of his companions, was 
fired at by a band of Indians as they rushed out from 
ambush, and he fell. In relating his experience of what 
followed, he said: *' One of the Indians put his knee on 
my back, another hit me with the butt of his gun ; then 
they drew their sharp knife and commenced scalping me. 
It was too much; I died, or thought I died." Hearing 
his loud cries, several of the party came running up, just 
in time to prevent the Indians from fully completing the 
operation. His scalp was laid back, when he was taken 
with all possible dispatch to Fort Laramie, and placed in 
the care of the army surgeon. He lived to relate the 
horrible experience of being scalped alive. 

In the latter part of July, a party of four miners with a 
team and light wagon loaded with supplies, while on their 
way to one of the northern gulches (I think Potato gulch), 
where they had been prospecting, were attacked by a band 
of Indians and the whole party killed. The horses were 
taken, the wagon riddled with bullets, and their supplies 
scattered over the ground. Some one who, in passing over 
the trail soon after, discovered the bodies and the wrecked 


outfit, carried the shocking news to Custer, when a party 
of its citizens hastened to the scene of the tragedy, about 
fifteen miles distant, secured and placed the bodies in their 
own bullet-pierced wagon and brought them to Guster, 
where, in a spot set apart for Indian victims, a short dis- 
tance below the city, they were decently buried. 

A few days after the last recorded atrocity, four other 
men (haymakers) were killed and scalped within a short 
distance of Custer. The unfortunate men, who were en- 
gaged at the time in cutting hay for Ernest Schleuning, Sr., 
now of Rapid City, went out from Custer on the morning 
of that fatal day to their work in the hay field, but never 
returned alive. They had not been gone long before a man 
came running into the city, breathless and excited, and 
reported that he had seen Indians out in the direction of the 
hay field, and that they were up to some deviltry, as he 
put it. Of course the man did not wait to investigate. 

In less time than it takes to relate the facts, nearly all 
the able-bodied men of the city were armed and on their 
way to the point indicated ; some on horseback dashing over 
the ground with the speed of the wind, others in wagons 
rattling along the rough trail, with break-neck speed ; many 
hurrying along on foot, and all willing and anxious to risk 
their lives to get a shot at the red dare-devils who were 
daily committing such wanton butcheries. Arrived on the 
scene, the Indians were nowhere to be seen, but the work 
of their gory hands was painfully in evidence. The bodies 
of the four men were found scalped, and curiously enough, 
three of them were scalped in sections of four circular 
pieces each, while the fourth was removed in one piece. 
The supposition was that there were thirteen Indians, each 
of whom desired a piece to exhibit as a trophy of his 
wonderful achievement. 

One of the murdered men was Wilder Cooper, a half- 
brother of Attorney Cooper of Sundance, Wyoming, an- 
other was a young German, name unknown, a stranger in 
the city, who before leaving that morning, gave to an 


acquaintance his name, the atklress of his relatives, etc., 
indicating that he either felt a presentiment of his coming 
doom, or realized that no person could in those days leave 
the protection of the city without taking his life in his own 
hands. The bodies of the murdered men were interred in 
the little graveyard a mile or so below Custer, where to- 
day, may be found among the tangled underbrush and 
weeds, the sunken graves of numerous victims of Indian 
savagery, little slabs of crumbling wood marking the spot 
where repose their ashes. 

Custer's first regularly licensed physician was Dr. D. 
W. Flick, now of Rapid City, who began the practice of 
his profession in the spring of 1876, and by virtue of 
priority of residence, was the first in the Black Hills. The 
climate of Custer, however, proved so deplorably healthy, 
that the doctor was finally forced to leave that region of 
perennial health for some more sickly clime. 

Its first hotel was built in Fel)ruary, 1876, bv a man 
named Druggeman, who also purchased the first town lot sold 
in Custer of one Jacobs, during the same month and year. 

The first store of general merchandise was opened and 
kept by Jas. Roberts, on Custer avenue, between Fifth and 
Sixth streets, in February, 1876. Roberts is said to have 
died in Deadwood during the year 1890. 

The first saw-mill in the Black Hills was brought to 
Custer and operated by J. F. Murphy in February, 1876. 

The fiist legal practitioners were Judge Thos. Hooper 
and Thos, E. Harvey, — both receiving their first retaining 
fee in the same case. 

The first newspaper half sheet printed in Custer was 
struck off by Laughlin & Merrick in May, 1876 — only one 
issue being printed. The first established newspaper was 
the Custer Herald, first published by J. S. Bartholomew & 
Co. in October, 1876, — continuing about six months. 

Frank B. Smith, for many years identified with the busi- 
ness interests of the Hills, was Custer's private postmaster 
in 1876, all the mail brought to the Hills by pony express 


•One of the attorneys in the first law case ever tried in the Black Hills. 


for that point passing through his hands. Prior to the 
establishnient of the pony express, Mr. Smith also handled 
much of the mail brought to the Hills by trains, purchasing 
it from the carriers for a safe consideration, then selling: 
the letters for ten cents apiece at Custer, vvhile those 
addressed to Deadsvood were taken there and sold for 
twenty-five cents each, — making a handsome profit by the 

Conspicuous among the residents of Custer in 1876, was 
the versatile Black Hills humorist, E. T. Peirce, familiarly 
called Doc Peirce, the very "prince of good fellows" 
among the early pioneers, and their staunch friend. A 
very interesting. character was he in pioneer days, wherever 
he chanced to pitch his tent. With an acute sense of the 
ridiculous there was no occurrence so pathetic that " Doc " 
could not detect, without the aid of a Roentgen ray, a 
thread of the comic running through its warp and woof. 
Viewing things from an optimistic standpoint, he ever saw 
the silver linino; behind the darkest cloud. Among the 
" boys " he gained for himself the reputation of being very 
fond of and much addicted to practical jokes, to which 
numerous of his unfortunate victims could testify, if they 
were so disposed, but it was as a story-teller that " Doc" 
took the " cake." I know of several who have made for 
themselves a brilliant record in that line, yet, if I were a 
betting character, I should be willing to wager a quarter 
that " Doc Peirce " has spun more yarns than any other 
man who ever emigrated to the Black Hills. 

Possessing an inexhaustible fund of information and 
boundless resources, he never failed to make his recitals 
drawing cards, and whether seated outside the door of his 
cabin of a summer's eve, deftly touching the strings of 
his guitar, or whether inside around his rude hearthstone, 
before the glowing blaze of a pitch pine fire of a winter's 
night, he never failed to draw around him a crowd of in- 
terested listeners, who, by their loud merriment, attested 
their appreciation of the entertainment. 



E. T. Peirce arrived in Custer on March 16th, 1876. 
In June of that year he went to Deadwood, returning on 
August 16th, to Custer, where he remained until April 1st, 
1878, when he went to Rapid City, and with Dan J. Staf- 
ford, opened the hotel now known as the International. 
In the fall of 1880 he was elected sheriff of Pennington 
County. In 1886 he removed from Rapid City to Hot 
Springs, where he now resides. Mr. Pierce was also deputy 
sheriff of Custer County before coming to Rapid City. 

Among those who lived in Custer, with their families, 
during the days of peril, were H. A. Albion, A. B. 
Hughes, Abram Yerkes, Jos. Reynolds, Dr. Flick, Gen. 
Scott, Harry Wright and W. H. Harlow, Mrs. Chas. Hay- 
ward, Bob Pugb, afterwards issuing clerk at Pine Ridge 
Agency, and others. Of the above named H. A. Albion 
and family are still residents of the pioneer city. Mr. Al- 
bion was at one time engaged, in connection with S. Booth, 
in freighting between Sidney and the Black Hills. 


The Black Hills Humorist. 




Rapid City — now just past its legal majority — was 
founded on the 25th of February, 1876, thus giving it the 
prestige of being, in point of age, the second city estab- 
lished in the Black Hills. It was on the 23d day of Feb- 
ruary, 1876, that John R. Brennan, Martin Pensinger, Thos. 
Ferguson, W. P. Martin, Albert Brown, and Wm. Marsten, 
arrived on Rapid creek from Palmer gulch, in quest of a 
desirable place upon which to lay the foundation of a city. 

After having spent nearly the entire winter in digging 
ditches, and delving in vain, in that auriferous gulch, for 
the glittering flakes and nuggets, for which Palmer gulch 
afterwards became famous, they finally concluded that 
founding cities might prove a more profitable enterprise. 

Accordingly on that winter's day, they packed their 
blankets and other equipments, — meanwhile keeping their 
own counsel, and set out on their new venture, in a north- 
easterly direction towards Rapid creek, — camping the 
first night at the point where that swiftly flowing stream 
comes dashing down from the shadow of the mountains 
into the broad valley, near what is now known as Cleghorn 
Springs, about five miles above Rapid City. 

The next day, February 24th, the party went down the 
valley of Rapid creek, a distance of about twenty miles 
towards its mouth, exploring each graceful bend and 
abrupt turn of the creek for a suitable place to draw their 
line, returning at night to the foot-hills, without having 
found a spot with the essential characteristics of their ideal 
town-site. That night they established a temporary camp, 
and planted the banner of civilization, at the point of 
rocks, the present location of the Electric Light Com- 


pany's power house on the north side of Kapid creek, 
where they were joined by a number of men who had fol- , 
lowed them from Palmer gulch, surmising that they had 
left to find new diggings. Among the new arrivals were 
Sam. Scott, J. W. Allen, James Carney, Major Hutchinson, 
and Wm. Nuttall. 

On the evening of the 24th they went into committee of 
the whole, and held a meeting under a big tree, at the 
point of rocks, when it was decided to lay out a town-site 
near the foot-hills on Rapid creek, at an eligible point, 
looking to the trade of the Hills, as well as to the rich 
agricultural country in the valley below. They argued 
and believed that the valley would, in the near future, 
become the route of extensive travel to the Hills, and that 
a town at the grand gateway would become the focus of 
an extensive trade. 

That their judgment was not at fault and their faith well 
founded, twenty-one years of commercial prosperity has 
fully shown. 

The next day, February 25th, the site was selected, sur- 
veyed and laid out along the river to conform to the 
topography of the valley, and, at the suggestion of W. P. 
Martin, appropriately named Rapid City, after the stream 
on whose banks it is located. By the aid of a pocket com- 
pass and tape line, the survey was made by Sam. Scott, 
assisted by J. R. Brennan, James Carney, and J. W. Allen. 
The ground laid out, covering an area of one mile square, 
embraced the original town-site of Rapid City. J. W. 
Allen was chosen recorder. 

The six blocks occupying the center of the plat, were 
divided into lots, and drawn by lottery, each person pres- 
ent being allowed the privilege of drawing five lots, the 
rafile taking place at the intersection of 5th and 6th streets, 
that point being the center of the plat. At a meeting held 
on the evening of the 25th, a town-site company was or- 
ganized by the election of a board of five trustees, viz. : 
J. R. Brennan, Wm. Marsten, J. W. Allen, Major Hutch- 


iuson, and Wm. Nuttall, whose prescribed duty was to 
conduct the affairs of the town in a manner to subserve 
the best interests of its people. 

On the day the town was platted, a party composed of 
Frank Wyraan, Fred Edgar, C. Bates, and United States 
Marshal Ash, arrived at the camp from Yankton via 
Pierre, they being the first ones to reach the Black Hills 
by that route. 

The first enterprise looking to the up-building of the 
new town-site was a project for laying out a route of travel 
between Rapid City and Fort Pierre, with a view of en- 
couraging freight and passenger traffic from Eastern points 
over the line to the natural gateway to the Black Hills. In 
furtherance of the project, on the eighth day of the follow- 
ing March, J. R. Brennan and Frank Conley accompanied 
Fred. Edgar, C. W. Marshall and a Mr. Field on a trip of 
exploration across the country, for the purpose of select- 
ing the most feasible route to Fort Pierre, accomplishing 
the journey in six days ; not, however, without experienc- 
ing the exposure and hardships incident to a March journey 
across the Dakota plains. It is related that during the 
trip the party encountered a regular Dakota blizzard, lost 
a horse, and was twenty-four hours without food. 

A party of about 100 men, destined for the Black Hills, 
was found waiting at Pierre, and soon after, another 
party of equal numbers, led by Gen. Campbell, arrived at 
Pierre, en route for the same point. By arrangement, 
Conley conducted Gen. Campbell's party, over the new 
route to the Hills ; Brennan, meanwhile, proceeded to 
Yankton, for the purpose of filing the plat of Rapid City 
in the United States Land Office, then, returning to Pierre, 
piloted the other party, under the leadership of one Dillon, 
to Rapid City, where he arrived on April 8th, after an 
absence of one month. 

The first cabin built in Rapid City was commenced on 
the day the town-site was platted, by Sam. Scott, at the 
corner of 4th and Rapid streets, where it stood an unob- 



trusive landmark, until 1879, when it was decreed that the 
little old log cabin must go, to make room for the onward 
strides of improvement. 

The first hotel in Rapid City was built and conducted by 
J. R. Brennan, on Rapid street, between Fifth and Sixth 
streets. The structure in which Mr. Brennan entertained 
his guests in 1876, was a log cabin 12x14 square feet, 
but, as to whether it was partitioned into two or more 
apartments, or left in one spacious room of 168 square feet, 
tradition is silent. Be that as it may, it is safe to record 
that its guests were served with the best the market 
afforded, — to say nothing of the extra luxuries of game 
and fish, for, be it known that " mine host " of Rapid 
City's first hotel is a successful Nimrod, as well as a 
devotee of the hook and line. 

B}' the way, a funny story is told of the way John 
Brennan managed the cuisine department of that early 
hostelry, for the truth of which, however, I am not able 
to vouch, and, to be candid I do not believe a word of 
the story. It is related that when transient visitors came 
to the hotel and called for dinner, Mr. Brennan imme- 
diately hied him forth to the grocery store and purchased 
just as much provision as would seem sufficient for their 
dinners, promising to pay therefor when he secured the 
money from his customers. He returned, took their orders, 
and yelled the same into an adjoining room to an imaginary 
cook, then disappeared behind the scenes and prepared the 
dinner with his own hands. 

The first store of general merchandise in Rapid City 
was established by Oscar Nicholson in March, 1886. 

Rapid City was surrounded by none of the conditions 
which characterized the abnormal growth of the early 
mining camps of the Hills. Having no rich placer dis- 
coveries to draw the eager rushins; throno; of sjold-seeking 
adventurers to expand its population, its development 
depended largely upon its admirable location on the main 
line of travel from the Missouri river to the eastern gate- 



way to the Hills, and upon its prospective commercial pos- 
sibilities as a base of supplies for the many mining com- 
munities springing up therein. The new town was, how- 
ever, content to pursue the even tenor of its way, confident 
of achieving ultimate greatness in a gradual and conserva- 
tive manner. 

The growth of Rapid City was materially retarded in 
1876 by the persistent hostilities of the Indians, who, by 
their frequent murderous attacks upon parties of travelers 
making their way into the Hills, struck dumb terror into 
the hearts of many would-be settlers, especially those of 
the tenderfoot class. Owing to its exposed position on the 
eastern limits of the Hills, outside the gate, perhaps some 
of the early settlements suffered more from the a^orressive 
operations of the Indians along the line of horse stealing 
than Rapid City and vicinity. 

For two months after the middle of March, the few 
settlers who were determined to stay by the town, were 
kept constantly on the alert with loaded rifles in hand for 
the thieving redskins, who were seen almost daily skulking 
around the outskirts of the town, watching their opportun- 
ity to creep stealthily to the limits where horses were pick- 
eted, or with a whoop, make a bold dash, capture and run 
off horses not their own. That they often succeeded and 
sometimes failed in their purpose, the following cases will 

On the 14th of March a band of Indians made a bold 
dash, to the limits of the town and succeeded in ofetting 
safely away with a herd of twenty-eight horses, belonging 
to Bob Burleigh, at one time sheriff" of Pennington County, 
Dan. Williams, Jud. Ellis, John Dugdale, and Ben. North- 
ington. Encouraged by their success, they returned on 
April 12th and made another attempt to stampede a num- 
ber of horses, but this time failed in their purpose. After 
a brisk interchange of shots the Indians made their escape 
followed by a hail of bullets from the guns of the settlers. 
During the unsuccessful raid they succeeded in killing 


a doo; belonoring to Rufus Madison, and demolishino; a 

On the 6th day of April, a man named Herman was killed 
a short distance below Rapid . On the 15th of the same 
month Capt. Dodge, of Bismarck, was killed near Spring 
Valley. Capt. Dodge was the leader of a party number- 
ing about 100 men who made their way across the country 
from Bismarck to the Hills. When near Rapid City he 
discovered the loss of a calf from the outfit, and returned 
alone to look for the missing property, the rest of the 
party proceeding on their journey to Rapid City. As 
their leader failed to put in an appearance, and apprehen- 
sive that he had fallen a victim to the bloodthirsty Sioux, 
on the following morning a party headed by J. R. Bren- 
nan, organized and went back on the trail in search of the 
missing man. Their worst fears were soon realized, as the 
unfortunate man was found at a point near Spring Valley, 
his body riddled with bullets; his horse lay nearby, having 
shared his master's fate. There was every evidence that 
the brave man made a desperate struggle for his life, but 
the odds were against him and he was overpowered. 

The next day, April 16th, another man was killed on the 
Pierre road about two miles east of Rapid City. 

On the 6th of May, Edwin Sadler, N. H. Gardner, Texas 
Jack, and John Harrison, were killed on the Pierre road 
east of Rapid City, and during the same month S. C. 
Dodge, Henry Herring, and C. Nelson, were killed and 
scalped and their bodies burned just above Rapid City. 

For a period of about two months, from the middle of 
May, there was a comparative cessation of hostilities around 
the Hills, the major part of the Indians having left to join 
Sitting Bull in the Northwest. However, from the middle 
of July until Gen. Crook's return from his summer cam- 
paign against the Indians in September, they kept the 
people of Rapid City and other border settlements in a 
state of constant terror by their murderous work. 

On the 22d of August, two men, who were building a 



cabin on a ranch about two miles below town, were attacked 
by a band of the hostiles, returned from the Little Horn. 
The men, under a brisk fire, succeeded in reaching their 
horses that were picketed near by, and made their escape 
towards Rapid City, making a running fight for a mile or 
so, when the Indians gave up the chase without capturmg 
men or horses. As soon as the fugitives reached Rapid, 
one of its citizens mounted a horse and rode swiftly up the 
valley to warn wayfarers of the proximity of the savages, 
which warning, however, was a little too late, as the Indians 
had preceded°the messenger, and had already succeeded in 
killing two men at a point about two miles west of Cleg- 
horn '^Springs. The names of the victims were J. VV. 
Patterson and Thos. E. Pendleton. 

On the same day, and about the same time, four men, 
who were on their way from Deadwood to Rapid City, were 
attacked at Limestone Springs, on the Crook City and 
Deadwood road, and two of them killed. The party con- 
sisted of Sam. Scott, I. S. Livermore, G. W. Jones, and 
John Erquhart. The two latter were killed, Scott and 
Livermore making their escape into the woods about a half 
a mile distant, where they lay secreted until dark, when 
they made their way to Rapid City, arriving at about 10 

■o'clock p. m. 

The next morning, fifteen or twenty men, with one of 
Volin's freight wagons, started up the valley to bring in 
the bodies of the murdered men, first going for those of 
Jones and Erquhart, which were found about one-half mile 
north of the Leedy springs — from which Rapid City now 
crets its water supply. They then drove over to the old 
mill site after the other two victims, one of whom was 
found lyincr on his face in the creek, the other on the trail 
about 100 "yards away. The bodies, both of which were 
scaloedand terribly mutilated, were placed in the wagon 
with the others and taken to Rapid City for interment. 

While the party was absent on its humane and seif- 
sacrificincr mission, the men who had arranged to leave the 


couDtry with the Volin train, had become wrought up to a 
high pitch of excitement, and demanded the immediate 
removal of the bodies from the wagon, that the train might 
pull out for Fort Pierre. The proprietor of the outfit ex- 
postulated with the terror-stricken tenderfeet, to wait until 
a decent disposition should be made of the dead, but all in 
vain. Impressed with the feeling that delay meant almost 
certain death, they insisted that the train must move at 
once — if not with, without the consent of its proprietor. 
The bodies were removed from the wagon and laid in 
ghastly array on the ground beside a log cabin, when the 
train immediately pulled out for Fort Pierre, and with it 
went nearly the entire population of Rapid City, fleeing 
from the terrible Indian-infested country as if a pursuing 
Nemesis followed closely upon their trail. 

Out of a population of 200 only eighteen brave men and 
one courageous woman had the nerve to stay. The names 
of the nineteen [)lucky ones were: Capt. E. LeGro, J. R. 
Brennan, Howard Worth, N. Newbanks, Charles N. Allen, 
Charles L. Allen, Jake Dawson, Mart. Pensinger, Andy 
Griffith, George Boland, Jim Moody, Hugh McKay, Reddy 
Johnson and wife, O. Nicholson, Pap Madison, Wm. F. 
Steele, and Bob Burleigh, and one other not remembered. 

To the nineteen heroic spirits who, in staying by the 
town, took their lives in their own hands, the prospect was 
not a hopeful one. The situation was indeed one well cal- 
culated to appall the stoutest hearts. Every day the mer- 
ciless painted foes of the settlers appeared in sufficient 
numbers to utterly annihilate them, yet their courage — 
fortified by trusty loaded rifles, their constant com- 
panions — never wavered during those terrible days of 

Although hedged about by everpresent personal danger, 
they did not neglect their duty to the dead. Four rough 
boxes were made, in which the bodies were laid by strange, 
yet gentle hands. The boxes were then placed in a wagon 
furnished by Charles N. Allen, when the funeral cortege, 


the first in the annals of Rapid City marched to the ground 
chosen for burial, on the north side of Kapid creek, where, 
on the brow of a broad, treeless plateau which sloped gently 
down to meet that swiftly-tlowing stream, they were buried 
in one common grave. Some dug the grave while others 
stood cruard with loaded rifles in hand. John R. Brennan 
Samuel Scott, Chas. N. Allen, and Capt. E. Le Gro, bur.ed 
the men, the funeral services being conducted by Oscar 
Nicholson. Around the grave stood every resident of 
Rapid Citv and many of those brave rugged men who did 
not hesitale to face the bullets of the Sioux, found it hard 
indeed to keep back the rising tears. 

Erquhart came to the Black Hills from Denver, Col- 
orado, shortly before he met his tragic death. He was 
well known in Kansas City, Mo., and Fort Scott, Kansas 
in both of which cities he had held positions of honor and 
trust Jones came to the Hills from Boulder, Colo., Pat- 
terson was from Allegheny City, Penn., and came to the 
Hills as captain of a party of gold-seekers from Pittsburg. 
Pendleton hailed from one of the New England States, 
and was a member of the New England & Black Hills 
Mining Company. Patterson and Pendleton came to the 
Hills in the same outfit with Lyman Lamb in the early 

sorinc of 1876. 

Afrer a lapse of twelve years, - long after the blood- 
curdling war-whoop of the Sioux had ceased to echo in 
and around the Black Hills, and the old trails that had 
been freely baptized with the blood of many of our early 
pioneers had been abandoned, to be overgrown with grass, 
and when peace, security, and prosperity had settled down 
upon the lovely city of the valley, with its hundreds o 
enterprising, thrifty population, a praiseworthy movement 
was set on foot at the suggestion of J. R. Brennan, to 
remove the remains of the four murdered pioneers from 
their common grave on the school section on the north side, 
and accord them a resting-place with the silent majority in 
Evergreen Cemetery. 


In pursuance of that object, on Saturday, November 
10th, 1888, the bodies were exhumed by undertaker 
Behrens and his assistants, in the presence of a number 
of those who were present at the burial, twelve years 
before. The coflSns were found to be in an excellent state 
of preservation, the inscriptions on the lids being plainly 
legible. Patterson's coffin was opened and, while the 
clothing and bones were intact, the tlesh had resolved itself 
into dust. Lyman Lamb recognized the boots as a pair 
he had often seen him wear during his lifetime. On the 
following day, November 11th, 1888, impressive funeral 
services were held at Library Hall, which was filled to its 
utmost capacity, — with an overflow of 200 to 300 people. 
The Mayor and city council were present, in conformity 
with a resolution adopted by that body, and also the local 
post of the Grand Army. Many pioneers from other por- 
tions of the Hills were in attendance to pay their last sad 
tribute to the memory of their murdered comrades. The 
citizens of Kapid City turned out en masse, in response to 
the Mayor's proclamation, large numbers from the sur- 
rounding country being also present. 

At the close of a programme of impressive exercises, 
consisting of appropriate music, prayer, and touchingly 
eloquent addresses by R. B. Hughes and Revs. Dr. Han- 
cher and Wilbur, the coffins were borne out, one by one, 
by their respective pall-bearers, nearly all of whom were 
early pioneers, and placed in wagons arranged in line in 
front of the hall. The procession, a full mile in length, 
then slowly wound its way to Evergreen Cemetery, where, 
in the four graves previously prepared, the remains were 
once more consigned to Mother Earth to await the last 
trumpet call. Revs. Hancher and Wilbur conducted the 
services at the graves, and when the solemn words, " Earth 
to earth, ashes to ashes " were recited, John R. Brennan, 
Sam'l Scott, Chas. N. Allen, and Capt. E. Le Gro — the 
men who buried the bodies in 1876, threw down the first 
earth upon their coffins. This time, however, no grim 


sentinels stood around the graves with loaded rifles, to 
truard them against a savage foe. 

* iS^I t%-:^(^: '■;fe': 

On the next clay after the last recorded tragedy two men 
from Spring creek reported finding a murdered man on 
the road about seven or eight miles from Eapid City. A 


party of ten went out and found the body as reported, which 
was buried on the spot where found, and so the carnival of 
blood went on. The perils became so great that all work 
was suspended in the valleys of Rapid and Spring creeks, 
and all settlers within a radius of seven or eight miles 
concentrated for safety at Rapid City, 


During the month of August a substantial block house 
was built on the square, at the intersection of Rapid and 
Fifth streets, which afforded the harassed settlers a refuge 
of comparative safety during the remainder of the summer. 
The building was a two-story structure of logs, with cupola 
to serve for an outlook, the upper story projecting out two 
feet on all sides, over the lower story which covered an 
area of thirty square feet. All extra provisions belonging 
to the citizens were at all times stored in this block house. 
That early stronghold of Rapid City was torn down during 
the summer of 1879, by Frank P. Moulton, then sheriff 
of Pennington County, and the material used for building 
a jail. 


In the early part of March, 1876, another town, called 
Upper Rapid, was laid out three and one-half miles above 
Rapid City, by a party from Bismarck, headed by Cali- 
fornia Joe. Arthur Harvey, now of Pactola, Thos. Mad- 
den and Wm. Browning, were also among its locators. 
The land upon which the town was laid had previously 
been located by California Joe while connected with the 
Jenny Expedition in the summer of 1875, and is now known 
as the Wm. Morris and Albert Brown ranches. Owing to 
the persistent hostility of the Indians, the project was 
abandoned on August 26th, 1876. 


Those of the early settlers inclined to rural pursuits, 
were quick to note the generous agricultural and grazing 


possibilities of the bfoad valley of Rapid creek, with its 
wealth of waters, and were not slow to avail themselves of 
the golden opportunity to secure a choice of the thousands 
of rich unoccupied acres lying along the creek from Rapid 
City to its mouth. Wide smooth acres they were, too, 
without stumps, or very many stones, or scarcely a tree, 
save those fringing the margin of the stream, to interfere 
with the plow in the furrows, or the reaper on the surface. 
It may well be said that those who had the judicious fore- 
sight to possess themselves of a ranch on the fertile valley 
of Rapid creek, where, with its unsurpassed facilities for 
irrigation, crops never fail, have to-day a property more to 
be prized than a gold mine. 




It was about the time the Sioux Indians, at Red Cloud, 
Spotted Tail, and the Missouri River Agencies, were rub- 
bing on their war paint, and donning their feathers, pre- 
paratory to starting out on the warpath after the scalps of 
Black Hills gold adventurers in 1876, just as spring was 
slipping from the lap of winter, and while there were yet 
banks of snow lying in the bottom of the ravines, and 
small patches of "the beautiful" lay scattered here and 
there on the northern slopes of the low sand-hills around 
the city of Cheyenne, and when the mud lay hub deep in 
the low depressions along the military highway leading to 
old Fort Laramie, that a small party of immigrants, six in 
number, with three two-horse teams, and as many wagons, 
left that phenomenally windy city for the Black Hills. 
When I say " phenomenally windy " I speak advisedly — 
having seen good-sized pebbles lifted from the ground, 
carried along and toyed with by a fierce " nor' wester," as 
if they were mere grains of sand, cutting the faces of pedes- 
trians like keen razors. 

One of the wagons of the little train was loaded to the 
guards with merchandise for the Deadwood market — in 
charge of a man afterwards well known in the Hills as 
*' Deaf Thompson: " another with sundry supplies, camp 
equipments, etc., of H. N. Gilbert & Son — Sam, than 
whom, truer gentleman never rehearsed a story around a 
camp-fire. By the way, I saw Sam a few weeks since, and 
he does not look a day older than he did twenty-three years 
ago when we traveled together, and all shared the same 
tent, from Cheyenne to Custer. The third wagon carried 


the household belongings of D. G. Tallent, then on his 
third trip to the Black Hills, and it is needless to state that 
the writer of this story was part and parcel of said 
household goods. 

Yes, it is twenty-three years since that day in early 
April, when I bade a reluctant adieu to the wind-swept yet 
hospitable city of Cheyenne, and, seated in a canvas-cov- 
ered wagon, behind a span of lean, ossified horses, that had 
been nearly starved to death during a snowstorm on their 
way out of the Black Hills two weeks before, resolutely 
turned my back once more upon civilization and all that it 
implies, to face the discomforts, hardships, and positive 
perils of a second journey to the golden " mecca " — a 
journey which proved to be full of exciting situations. 

There is not much in the way of scenic attractions to 
engage the interest of travelers along the road from Chey- 
enne to Fort Laramie — as hundreds who have passed over 
the route will remember — and it was only the superabun- 
dance of mud encountered at intervals, claimins: our undi- 
vided attention, that relieved the journey from the oppro- 
brium of being called disgustingly monotonous — without 
even the spice of danger. 

Several ranches were passed, in convenient succession, 
where good camping grounds were found, and where 
accommodations were furnished for man find beast — bear- 
ing the unpoetic though perhaps suggestive appellations of 
Pole Creek, Horse Creek, Bear Springs, and Chugwater — 
after the creeks upon which they were located. The latter 
creek, by the way, is deserving of a more euphonious 
name than Chug, as it is really a beautiful mountain stream, 
whose valley was already covered with a luxuriant growth 
of grass, in pleasing contrast to the dreary stretch through 
which we had just passed. 

Nothing occurred to materially change the original status 
of our little party until it crossed the Platte river, when 
our numbers began rapidly to augment and our train to 
lengthen, for, by the time we were well outside the mill- 


tary reservation, we had expanded into quite a formidable 
expedition of about ninety well-armed men, twenty-five or 
thirty wagons, besides a few horsemen. Among the re- 
cruits were Frank Thulen, Wm. Cosgrove, Billy Stokes, 
Chas. Blackwell, and D. Tom Smith, all well-known early 
pioneers. I came within one of being the only woman in 
the outfit, and that one was Mrs. Robinson, now living at 
Dakota City, on the Cheyenne river. 

Although no Indians were encountered on the route, 
every man in the party, realizing that there was danger all 
along the line, carried his arms upon his shoulder dur- 
ing the day, and slept with them by his side during the 
night with his cartridge belts under his hard pillow. 
Reports came thick and fast of their atrocious deeds near 
the foot-hills — brought out by returning freighters, and 
the numerous tenderfeet who were leaving the Hills at the 
time. On reaching Hat creek these alarming reports re- 
ceived full confirmation, and we came face to face with the 
perilous situation. Curley, one of the victims of the Col. 
Brown tragedy, was lying at the time dangerously wounded, 
in a little log hut, at the station, with but small hopes of 
recovery. When it became known that a man was lying in a 
cabin near by, riddled with Indian bullets, excitement and 
consternation spread through the ranks of the expedition, 
especially along the rank and file of the two women of the 
party. The men, however, buckled on their armor and 
prepared for the worst, scarcely daring to hope to escape 
a conflict with the redskins. Every precaution being taken 
to t^uard against surprise, the train, flanked by a line of 
armed men, marched boldly on towards the Hills, preceded 
by an advance guard of six men — and thereby hangs a tale. 
Now, in view of the tactics peculiar to Indian strategy and 
attack, an advance guard per se may be all right and proper, 
but, when a body of six armed men persist in marching 
in advance of me, either at short or long range, with the 
muzzles of their guns pointed over their shoulders at such 
an an<yle that, in case of an accidental discharge, their 


loads would penetrate my cranium just at the point where 
the gray matter ought to be, it is quite another thing, and 
assumes an aspect to which I object on purely humanitarian 
grounds. It is by no means conducive to longevity to sit 
for hours looking straight into the muzzles of six improved 
Winchester rifles, shifting uneasily from this side to that, 
in a vain endeavor to get out of range, and yet that was 
the exact position I occupied for a while the day we left 
Hat Creek stage station. At the first halting place our 
wagon, then near the head of the train, was swung out of 
line and relegated to the rear, thus causing my vocabulary 
of adjectives in denunciation of the dangerous practice 
to become exhausted. As our train neared the Hills we 
were met every few miles of the way by outward-bound 
pilgrims, whose forlorn condition stirred me with deep 
compassion. It would be difficult, indeed, to picture a 
more pathetic spectacle. Their bright visions of suddenly 
acquired wealth had vanished as mist beneath the burning 
rays of a tropical sun, and they were returning from the 
quest disenchanted, embittered, and many of them desti- 
tute. For the mojor part their clothes were badly soiled 
and worn ; and some there were, alas ! whose trousers were 
literally patched with an old flour sack, with " for family 
use " to be seen on the back, and a few with sadly demor- 
alized shoes, through which naked protruding toes bade 
bold defiance to the untoward elements, and nearly all 
breathing bitter maledictions aoainst the Black Hills, as 
well as every person who had the temerity to express their 
faith in them. Every man of them, however, carried a 
o;un, as it behooved him to do. Notwithstandinor these 
discouraging incidents along the line, our belief in the 
Black Hills remained unshaken, and all believing there was 
better luck in store for them, pressed gallantly onward, 
scarcely venturing to look back. I, for one, remembering 
the example of Lot's wife, was determined to take no 
chances on the possibility of being speedily converted into 
a " pillar of salt.'' 


On reaching the Cheyenne river stage station our sus- 
ceptibilities were still farther harrowed up by seeing two 
men engaged in exhuming the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. 
Metz, which were being removed to Laramie City, Wyom- 
ing, their former home, for permanent burial. One of the 
men was a brother of Mrs. Metz. 

In passing through Red Canyon, numerous evidences of 
the terrible tragedies enacted there only a few days before, 
were discovered scattered along the trail, admonishing us 
to be on the sharp lookout for ambushed Indians. While 
the men manifested no great apprehensions of trouble — 
though keeping their guns well in hand, I, on the contrary, 
was in momentary expectation of an attack. Furtively I 
glanced from side to side of the defile, looking for the 
plumed heads and cruel beady eyes of the savages peering 
out at us from behind the rocks. How could we know but 
at that very time they might be lurking behind the red 
crags, or in the narrow ravines, waiting to swoop down 
upon us at the opportune time, " like wolves on the fold " — 
as they had done twice within ten days before; and, in the 
light of a subsequent tragedy, it is believed they were on 
our trail even then. 

Just as the train emerged from the canyon the climax 
came. At a signal from one of the vanguards, the train 
came to a dead halt. The men marchino; alono; in the flanks 
with guns pointed over their shoulders at the customary 
dangerous angle, unshouldered their arms, and, grasping 
them tightly in both hands, rushed precipitately to a bank 
overlooking a narrow ravine ahead. I thought my worst 
fears were realized and my days numbered. All my past 
shortcomings and fast-goings stood up before me in ghostly 
array, refusing to be laid. Bang! bang! bang! bang! 
bang ! went the guns, until it seemed their magazines were 
exhausted, when they came back in line, and the train 
moved on. When asked for an explanation of their con- 
duct, they reported that they had been shooting at a deer ! 
Naturally enough I felt considerably chagrined, at having 


been caused such unnecessary alarm, but had partial com- 
pensation in the knowledf^e, that the poor deer escaped the 
terrible fusillade of bullets unscathed. However I breathed 
freely again and went on sinning as before. 

In due time the train arrived at Custer, soon after which 
it was discovered that one of our number was missing. A 
small party went back at once, in search of the missing 
man, who was found lying dead on the trail, surrounded by 
the imprint of numerous moccasined feet, two or three miles 
back from Custer. It appeared that he had lingered be- 
hind the train as it neared Custer, and was shot down in 
his tracks by Indian bullets. Lying by his side was a belt, 
severed in twain, which he had worn around his waist, in 
which, upon examination, was found concealed about 
$3,000.00 in greenbacks, which had escaped the scrutiny 
of the murderers and would-be robbers. The body was 
conveyed to Custer, where a committee of inquiry made an 
investigation of the case. Papers were found, which re- 
vealed his identity, his former place of residence, and the 
names of relatives, to whom, at their request, his remains 
and effects were shipped. The murdered man, whose name 
was Leggett, was apparently about fifty years of age, and 
evidently a man of high respectability. 

It seems obvious, that this band of red murderers had 
watched and followed our train, which perhaps they 
were not strong enough to attack, and pounced upon the 
unwary pilgrim who had lingered behind, like beasts of 
prey upon their victim. 

I stood again upon the banks of historic French creek; 
again I looked at the rocky grandeur of the towering gran- 
ite battlements, surrounding Custer's Park, and once more 
reveled amid the beauties of the earthly paradise, from 
which we had been so uncermoniousl}' expelled only a 
short year before. But how strangely metamorphosed had 
the scene become meanwhile, to be sure ! The dreamy little 
stream, whose shallow waters were wont to gurgle and 
murmur peacefully along their pebbly bed, without let or 



hindrance, is found diverted from its natural channel into 
numerous prosaic ditches and sluice boxes, and its valley 
literally turned topsy-turvy, — shorn of all its original 

But this was not all. Where no human habitation had 
existed — not even the most primitive kind of a hut, unless 
perhaps a deserted Indian tepee — we find a populous city 
reared; the pine-covered hill-tops had been invaded ; the 
solemn hush that brooded over all had been superseded by 
the noise and din of many human activities. Change was 
plainly written upon the face of the whole landscape. The 
rugged grandeur of the lofty jagged peaks rising up on 
every side alone remained unchanged and unchangeable. 

Impelled by a longing, in which, however, there was but 
little of sentiment, to have one more look at the old stock- 
ade and its familiar environments, one bright morning, soon 
after the sun had sailed over the naked crest of Calamity 
Park, I sallied out and strolled down the valley, musing 
while I strolled, upon the mutability of all things earthly 
until coming in full view of our old stamping ground. 

Then, ascending a low-timbered plateau to the left, I 
stood upon the very ground where our first permanent 
camp was made on the morning of December 24th, 1874, 
when the Black Hills was yet a howling wilderness. It was 
a beautiful sightly spot, and as I looked around at each 
familiar landmark, I became inspired, in spite of myself, 
with something akin to sentiment. I imagine I felt some- 
what as did Rob Roy, the Scottish outlaw, on his return to 
his native haunts, when he exclaimed, " My feet are on my 
native heath and my name is McGregor." 

Although having been divested of much of its crowning 
beauty — the great pine trees — the topography of the ground 
was well remembered, and I found no difiiculty in locating 
almost the exact spots where our respective tents had been 
pitched. Yes, here is the spot where our gorgeous striped 
tent, a thing of beauty and of pride, went up in smoke; 
and over there is where the pilfering little donkey turned 


his vicious heels upon a defenseless woman while heroically 
endeavoring to rescue from his jaws the "grub" of a 
comrade, — thus defeating her noble purpose. That first 
donkey in the Bhick Hills, by the way, was a true philoso- 
pher, there's no doubt about that. His motto was, " All 
things will come to those who watch and wait," — a motto 
which he lived up to both in theory and practice during his 
connection with the expedition. 

Leaving the " old camp ground " I sauntered down to 
the stockade on the left bank of French creek, approached 
the wide-open gate and looked in. After hesitating a few 
moments to consider the propriety or impropriety of entering 
the inclosure unbidden, I promptly decided that, inasmuch 
as I held a sort of proprietary interest in the property, I 
would be justified, from a moral, if not a legal stand- 
point, in going boldly in and making myself generally at 
home. So, acting on that conclusion, in I went, finding, 
however, no one to welcome me back. Two of the cabins 
were found tenanted — as evidenced by the padlocked 
doors — proof positive that their occupants were not at 
home. After a hasty inspection of the inner works of the 
fortification, I went the rounds of the vacant cabins, all of 
which, to a more or less extent, were fast becoming wrecks, 
more the result of careless tenantry than of time. 

The little cabin with a wing had altogether outlived its 
usefulness, being no longer even habitable; its former 
glory had forever departed. The picturesque chimney — 
whose exact counterpart I challenge any one to find in the 
annals of chimney architecture — built originally of sticks, 
stones, mud, and things — had become disintegrated, and 
was fast crumbling into a heap of ruins; the dirt roof 
in many places let in the snow as well as " the sunshine 
and the rain." The little square opening for a window was 
still there, but the flour sack curtain, inscribed with the 
gaudy legend, was gone. There was the small opening be- 
tween the wing and the main edifice, through which our 
next door neighbor was wont to look with intense eves of 


dark portent, when he wanted the loan of a kettle in which 
to boil his beans and his venison, — and strangely enough 
some of the large stone slabs, so artistically laid for a 
hearth, had not been disturbed. 

I bethought me to look into the little excavation where I 
had seen my trunk deposited on the day of our explusion 
from the Black Hills, but the trunk was gone, and its 
place occupied by a pair of cast-off' rubber boots and other 
rubbish. Of course, I wasn't looking for old boots. I 
did not care nor dare to linger long in the tumble-down 
structure, lest the whole fabric might collapse, all at once, 
like the deacon's " one-horse shay," so turning away with 
the faintest suggestion of a pang, I left the old stockade 
and made my way back to Custer. Heigh-ho ! — after all 
there is something sad in turning one's back upon old asso- 
ciations, be they never so unpleasant. 

The next day — after a stay of two weeks in Custer — 
waiting, Micawber-like, for something to " turn up," we 
followed the great hegira to Dead wood. En route we 
passed through a veritable " deserted village," of about 
twenty-five or thirty log cabins — the whilom booming 
mining camp at Hill City on Spring creek. Not a human 
being was visible, and no smoke curled up from the rude 
chimneys, nor other sign to indicate human occupancy. 
There was no sign of animal life, save one solitary dog, 
that rushed out from the shadow of a distant cabin and 
barked dismally at our little train as it passed through — 
possibly his master was not far away. On reaching Eliza- 
bethtown, on Whitewood creek, we came suddenly upon a 
scene of wonderful placer mining activity. Numerous 
miners along the gulch were eagerly delving in the earth 
in search of the "pay streak;" some merely prospecting 
with gold-pans; others testing the gravel through the me- 
dium of the primitive rocker ; while a few anxious for 
larger and more speedy results had already adopted the more 
profitable method of sluicing. On glancing up the gulch 
the way appeared to be completely blocked by a chaos of 


sluice-boxes, boulders, dumps of gravel, or tailings, etc., 
but, by dint of careful driving and closely hugging the hill 
on the right, we finally succeeded in reaching Deadwood — 
then in its swaddling clothes — about May 22d, 1876. 

Even at that early date in the history of that great min- 
ing camp, quite a little village had sprung into existence at 
the point where the mineral-impregnated waters of Dead- 
wood and Whitewood creeks come together, this collection 
being composed of nearly two score of hastily constructed log 
cabins interspersed with numerous tents, pitched here and 
there without regard to regularity. These cabins, built 
along the main street of the town, were designed for tem- 
porary use as places of business, where the various kinds 
of traffic peculiar to mining camps were already in full 
operation, notably, places where eatables and drinkables — 
chiefly drinkables ■ — were freely vended to hungry and 
thirsty miners, prospectors, freighters, and numerous 
trusting tenderfeet who were daily arriving in that promis- 
ing camp. 

Strange as it may seem, the previous exodus of hundreds 
of disgusted gold-seekers had little deterrent effect upon the 
great human tide flowing inward to the new camp. The be- 
lief in individual luck is so deeply implanted in the heart of 
every seeker after gold that each expects himself to succeed 
and every other fellow to fail. 


I have good reason to remember the time and circum- 
stances of my first visit to Deadwood, as the following bit 
of personal experience will plainly show, — an experience, 
indeed, which I would not care to have repeated : — 

Upon our arrival at the embryonic city of Deadwood, 
the first subject for consideration was, of course, a place 
for temporary shelter for ourselves and household belong- 
ings. An active search for such a place, as might have 
been expected, resulted in failure, as every cabin and tent 
was full to overflowincf. What was to be done? The 


aspect of the situation was not pleasant to contemplate, in- 
volving, as it did, the alternative of living within the nar- 
row limits of a canvas-covered wagon or out in the open, 
exposed to the elements and the curious gaze of the motley 
crowds, without even the shelter of a tent, our tent having 
been cremated on French creek as before stated. Happily, 
in this emergency our attention was attracted to a partly 
finished cabin, whose roof was covered with boards having 
wide interstices between, and about eight or ten square 
feet of which was overlaid with shakes (a substitute for 
shingles) with no floor save terra Jirma. This skeleton 
structure was located on the south side of the main and 
only thoroughfare of the new town, in close juxtapo- 
sition to — as a matter of fact it was an addition to — a 
place where various kinds of stimulating beverages were 
daily and nightly exchanged for an equivalent in gold dust. 
A very quiet and orderly place of its kind, too, it turned 
out to be, and the headquarters of Capt. Jack Crawford, 
the famous scout, whose occasional presence about the 
establishment threw around it, in my mind, an atmos- 
sphere of respectability. 

A little below on the opposite side of the narrow street 
was another resort, engaged in the same kind of daily and 
nightly traffic, with the very suggestive name of " The 
Nugget" printed in the most alluring colors above the 
door. Notwithstanding; the limitations and local environ- 
ments of this unfinished cabin, which, by the kindness and 
courtesy of its proprietor, was placed at our disposal for a 
week, free of rent, as it appeared to be the only alterna- 
tive, our effects were at once transferred to the small area 
beneath the shingled portion of the roof, and this is what 
happened. The morning of the second day found me, 
with the exception of a small boy of ten years, the sole 
occupant of this exposed habitation, the result of a stampede 
to locate a town-site in the valley of the Spearfish. Yet if 
the elements had not gone on a rampage, all might have 
been well, but during the day there came up a furious 




thunder-storm, such a one as used to send rae flying to 
cover in a dark closet or under a smothering feather bed, 
when a child. 

The day had been excessively warm and sultry, pre- 
saging the storm which later came in all its fury. Early 
in the afternoon the dark, threatening clouds began to 
gather in the west, spreading until the whole visible sky 
was overcast; soon the chain-lightning began to play 
fantastic freaks among the black clouds hovering over the 
mountain crests to the north and west; then in a few 
minutes, while I was anxiously watching the grand elec- 
trical display, hoping against hope that the threatened 
storm might blow over, there came a sudden blinding flash, 
followed instantly by a terrific thunderbolt, that shook the 
earth and burst open the flood-gates overhead, letting the 
rain come down in vast torrents. Flash after flash, peal 
after peal from heaven's artillery followed in rapid succes- 
sion; the wind rose, blowing in great slanting shafts of 
water through the various openings, until bed, clothing, in 
fact everything in the inclosure, was drenched. For 
once, at least, I was not figuratively but literally in the 
swim. In about an hour the storm came to an end — as 
all things will — and settled down into a drizzling rain 
which continued far into the night. Often, and anxiously, 
during that dreadful afternoon I looked heavenward for a 
blue rift in the leaden sky, but in vain. Night came on 
apace, and such a night! Chilled and wet we crept into 
our damp bed, where, after hours of wakefulness, praying 
meanwhile, that the clouds might disappear with the night, 
1 finally slept the profound sleep of the just. As if in 
answer to the secret petition, the following morning 
dawned bright and clear ; the sun beamed down with such 
cheerful radiance that the misery of the night before was 
almost forgotten. 

Soon after the rising of the sun I slipped out of my wet 
pack, and by a good deal of active skirmishing around the 
premises for something combustible I soon had a rousing 


fire, before which quilts, blankets, wearing apparel, etc., 
were hung up to dry, and from which clouds of steam 
floated upward to be condensed for the next dovvnfall. 
While seated on a dry goods box, enveloped in the ample 
folds of a bed quilt, watching the interesting process of 
evaporation, and meditating on thegravityof the situation, 
I was startled from my reverie by a loud knock at the 
door. What was to be done? I was truly in an unpleas- 
ant dilemma. Of course, I could not receive visitors 
wrapped in a bed quilt, and without the quilt I couldn't — 
well, you all know how one feels when inadequately attired. 
By a sort of dumb alphabet, I enjoined profound silence 
on the part of the small boy — threatening dire punishment 
in case it was broken. Another series of raps — louder 
than before. In sheer desperation, I called out in a high 
falsetto key, " Yes, in a minute! " Throwing aside my 
wrap, I hastily and nervously donned a half-dried garment, 
which took about five minutes instead of one, and called 
out again, "Come in! " Promptly obeying ray mandate 
they came in, when through the ascending steam I recog- 
nized Capt. C. V. Gardner and H. N. Gilbert — the latter 
our traveling companion on the trip into the Hills. How 
glad I was to see familiar and friendly faces ! So over- 
joyed indeed was I that I came dangerously near commit- 
ting the grave indiscretion of falling upon their necks and 
embracing them then and there. However, resolutely re- 
pressing that inclination, I greeted them with tears of joy 
in my eyes and I fear with rather a sickly smile on my lips. 
After a hasty survey of the damp premises, and with a 
look of commiseration in his eyes, Capt. Gardner inquired: 
"What's the matter here? What does all this mean?" 
" Oh, it means that we were treated to a generous shower 
bath yesterday, free of charge ; that, and nothing more," 
I answered. 

" Well, well," said he, " this is ad — downright shame." 
Yes, d — stands for downright. "Of course it is," I 
assented, " its disgraceful, its dreadful, its worse than a 


battle with the Sioux Indians." I said I thought it merited 
the whole category of d — s. 

*' This will never do," said the Captain, •' You must get 
out of this place as soon as possible." Well, in less than 
the stipulated time, we vacated the place and moved into 
a small log cabin at the base of the hill on Williams street, 
where we remained during the summer of 1876. 

Although our temporary abode on Main street furnished 
but small physical comfort, it had its advantage in that it 
afforded an excellent point of vantage, from which to see 
Deadwood in all its early picturesqueness. To be sure, the 
great rush was not yet at its flood, yet there was already 
enough excitement to make things exceedingly lively in 
the big mining camp, and the rush and push of hustling up 
buildings on every side; the numerous emigrant wagons, 
and pack animals loaded with blankets, mining tools, etc., 
that crowded the narrow thoroughfare; and the hundreds 
of eager jostling fortune-hunters, rushing up and down the 
street, and in and out between the wagons, contributed no 
end of amusing diversion, in all of which, however, there 
was a world of pathos, — in view of the almost certainty, 
that at least nine-tenths of the expectant throng were 
doomed to crushing disappointment. 

Incidentally, too. Main street was the theater of an occa- 
sional farce-comedy, which added spice and variety to the 
scene, to one of which I was an unvoluntary, though inter- 
ested witness. One day while at my point of observation, 
I saw a coatless, hatless, unkempt, red-headed man — with 
only one suspender — well, I sized him up as a " whacker," — 
rush headlong out of the " Nugget " across the way, closely 
followed by a man of sanguinary aspect, holding a six- 
shooter in his right hand, and hurling all sorts of billings- 
gate after the fleeing offender. The red-headed man 
dodged behind a wagon that providentially stood near by; 
thus escaping immediate danger. The pursued and the 
pursuer played a game of hide-and-go-seek around the 
wagon for several minutes, when some bystanders inter- 



fered and put an end to the exhibition. This is only one 
of many similar exhibitions witnessed in 1876, but one is 

In casting about here and there up and down the nar- 
row auriferous gulches from Gayville to Elizabethtown 
and below, it was found that every square yard of pay- 
gravel, from rim to rim, along the entire length of the 
gulch, was already claimed and staked off by the wide-awake 
miners, who metaphorically took time by the forelock, and 
hastened to the new discovery at the first report, thus 
securing claims from which many reaped fortunes — while 
the unlucky ones who dawdled away two weeks of precious 
time waiting for something to " turn up " lost a golden 

'* Of all sad words of tongue or pen 

The saddest are these, It might have been." 




As soon as the iilluring notes of the golden tocsin pro- 
claiming the tidings of rich auriferous placer discoveries 
in the northern Hills, sounded far and wide, and echoed 
through the remote valleys and gulches of the Black Hills, 
the news created a furore, such as had not, perhaps, been 
exceeded since the exciting days of '49. Deadvvood then, 
instead of Custer, became the " Mecca " of gold-hunters 
from all parts of the land, Montana, Colorado, and even 
the great gold State of California, contributing their quota 
to swell the human tide. 

All trails through the Hills, lined with pack outfits 
galore, led to the new diggings in the north. French, 
Spring, Rapid, and Castle creeks and their tributaries, 
where, prior to this time, placer mining had been carried on 
with a fair degree of success, became practically deserted. 
The nuggets of Bear Gulch and " Nigger Hill," — in the 
light of the new discovery, lost their power to dazzle and 
were temporarily abandoned. And what was the result? 
Unfortunately, the new diggings were not so extensive as 
they were rich, consequently hundreds, after a gallant but 
vain scramble to secure a plum from the plump golden pie, 
returned to their abandoned claims, presumably well satis- 
fied with making from five to ten dollars per day to the 

Moral: Let well enough alone. 

Soon every claim worth having above Gayville, on Dead- 
wood and tributary gulches, down nearly to Crook City, 
on Whitewood gulch, was located and staked, cleared of 
its dead timber and dense undergrowth, ready for opera- 



tion. From April, through the summer and fall of 1876, 
the work of uncovering and washing out the golden prod- 
uct of Deadwood, Whitewood, Gold Run, Black Tail, and 
Bob-Tail gulches was vigorously prosecuted, from which 
vast quantities of gold-dust were taken — the aggregate 


production from these gulches during the year reaching up 
into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

It has been impossible to ascertain — as a matter of fact 
no one has ever known — even approximately the amount 
taken from these rich placer deposits, and a conjecture 
would be hazardous, as it might prove very wide of the 


mark. However, it has been variously estimated, by intel- 
ligent, practical miners and close observers of placer 
mining operations of that day, that from $3,000,000 to 
$4,000,000 in gold-dust were sluiced from the aforesaid 
gulches during the years 1876-7, these estimates being 
based upon the daily clean-ups of certain individual claims. 
It is stated by those who were in a position to judge that 
daily clean-ups of from one to two thousand dollars from 
several claims on Deadwood and a few on Whitewood gulch 
was no uncommon occurrence, from which it is safe to con- 
clude that the above estimates of the aggregate product 
of those gulches is not excessive. 

That the stories told of those wonderful daily clean-ups 
were not fairy tales nor the result of an exuberant fancy, 
but a glittering reality, I am quite prepared to believe, for 
have not mine eyes often in those days feasted on the 
great piles of yellow gold mixed with a little black sand, 
left in the miners' gold-pans after the lighter material was 
washed off? And did I not as often break the divine 
mandate written by the finger of God on the tables of 
stone on the mount: "Thou shalt not covet thy neigh- 
bor's goods?" I stand self-condemned. 

Among the large producing claims on Deadwood gulch 
were No. 2, operated by Wheeler brothers; Nos. 4 and 5 
below Discovery, owned by Chisholm brothers and sold 
to Robert Neill for $2,200 after a large fortune had been 
realized from the claims ; Nos. 14 and 15 below, owned by 
Robert Kenyon; " Discovery Claim," purchased by John 
Hildebrand from the original locator; No. 1 below, located 
by Ed. Murphy; No. 9 below, located by Jack McAleer, 
and numerous others, perhaps equally productive. The 
largest producing claim on Whitewood gulch was what 
was known as the Bostwick mines, below Elizabethtown. 

Active sluicing operations in those gulches, which began 
about the middle of April, were at first considerably 
retarded by the lack of lumber for the construction of 
sluice boxes, which, in the absence of sawmills, had to be 



manufactured by hand, by the slow and tedious method 
of what is called whipsawing. This handicap, however, 
was soon removed by the establishment of sawmills, three 
of which were, early in June, in full operation and produc- 
ing lumber at the rate of 32,000 feet per day — Judge E. G. 



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r^f^j&y- ■ ■ .> .A?**-.r-rj,..i«»^ •>-;.,. . 1 


Dudley's mill, in East Deadwood, turning out about 12,000 
feet per day, Street & Thompson's and Boughton & 
Berry's mills, located below Montana, producing 10,000 
feet per day each. Boughton & Berry's mill was later 
removed to South Deadwood. 



The attention of prospectors on their arrival in a new 
gold field is at once directed to its auriferous placer deposits : 
first, because they are a pretty certain index of the richness 
of the gold-bearing ledges, from which by natural processes 
they have been liberated ; second, because in ordinary 
operations little capital save that of willing hands and stout 
arms is needed to remove them from their hiding-places, 
and by various interesting methods convert them into com- 
mercial values. These deposits are found by digging down 
to the floor or bedrock of the gulch, to which, by virtue of 
its specific gravity, the gold has sifted, or in bars of gold- 
laden gravel along the courses of streams, and, strangely 
enough, in some portions of the Black Hills — notably 
along the borders of Castle creek — placer gold and wash 
gravel have been found on the tops of high hills. How 
they came there, I shall not undertake to explain, not being 
a geologist. 

Some geologists would say, perhaps, that they were car- 
ried or pushed along with the rock and debris by the early 
glaciers on their long, slow journey down from the regions 
of perpetual ice, and left high and dry upon our hill-tops; 
others might advance some other occult theory. However, 
as it is not the province of history to deal in theories, but 
in facts, let it suflSce to say that the fact remains as above 
stated, which goes to show that the oft-repeated aphorism 
that gold is where you find it, is peculiarly applicable to 
the Black Hills. 

After the deposit has been discovered and tested through 
the medium of the pick, shovel, and gold-pan, the first 
great requisite for sluicing — which is the method that has 
been most extensively employed in the Black Hills — is an 
ample supply of water, without which the richest deposits 
are comparatively valueless; then comes the construction 
of a ditch for carrying the necessary supply of water from 
some point above to the place where it is turned into the 


sluice. Sometimes a combination of claim owners unite to 
build the ditch, the water to be used in common, in which 
case gates are made through which to divert the water 
from the main canal or ditch to the head of each individual 
claim ; sometimes the water is leased to other miners who 
have no interest in the enterprise. 

In the meantime sluices have been constructed, the sluice 
consisting of several oblong, open boxes, eighteen inches 
high and about two feet wide, at the bottom of which are 
nailed cleats (called riffles) at short intervals to catch the 
gold, and at the end of the series of boxes a piece of cloth, 
called an apron, is sometimes attached to save the particles 
that are washed over the riffles. A little quicksilver is 
then frequently poured into the boxes above the riffles to 
attract the gold, when the work of sluicing is ready to 
begin. The gate is then opened and the water glides 
through a channel dug for the purpose into the sluice; at 
first it goes rippling musically over the riffles, then dashes 
gaily down the slightly inclined plane, and out at the 
opposite end of the sluice, where it is again turned into 
the main ditch to be utilized on the claim below, or into 
the channel of the stream, as the case may be. 
. A man is stationed at the head of the sluice to shovel 
the gravel from the dump into the sluice box ; another man 
armed with a many-tined fork is placed at the lower end of 
the sluice to remove the pebbles and gravel that are washed 
down, while a third or middle man, also provided with a 
fork, is employed in removing obstacles from the boxes all 
along the line. Every night, or at longer intervals, as 
may seem necessary, there is had what is called a clean-up. 
The water is turned off, and the accumulation of gold, 
black sand, and gravel is carefully scraped from the riffles 
and the apron at the lower extremity of the sluice into a 
gold pan, and then taken to a stream of water near by, 
where the gravel and sand for the most part are washed off. 
This operation requires a good deal of skill and dexterity, 
and not everyone can do it successfully — the particles 



of gold being liable to float out with the grosser substances, 
unless saved by the dexterous hand of an expert. All this 
done, behold ! as a result, $2,000 of gold dust, gold scales,, 
and often gold nuggets in the pan. This is then taken to 
the miner's cabin and divested of all dross, when it is ready 
for commercial exchange. 

Where the water supply is inadequate for sluicing pur- 
poses, the old method of washing out the gold by " rock- 
ing " is resorted to. The rocker, though an ancient ap- 
pliance for washing out gold, is really a very ingenious 
contrivance, and deserves to occupy a conspicuous niche in 
placer mining history as well as a warm place in the 
affections of placer miners. It has been the accommo- 
dating agent through which many a stranded miner has 
secured a "grub stake" when away from his base of 
supplies. This time-honored afiair, which consists of a box 
mounted on a pair of rockers, is operated on the principle 
of a child's cradle. A succession of sieves, graduating 
in texture, are arranged on a slight incline in the box — 
on the bottom of which are nailed tiny riffles which catch 
the gold that makes its way through the meshes of the 
sieves. Two men are required to operate a rocker — one 
shovels the gravel in at the top, the other dips up the 
water with a long-handled dipper and pours it on the 
gravel with his right hand, while with his left he rocks his 
cradle — not to a lullaby song, but to the music of the 
water as it percolates through the gravel, from sieve to 
sieve, and flows out through a spout at the lower end of the 

The rocker is a portable concern, and can be easily 
loaded onto a wheel-barrow and transported from place to 
place, wherever there chances to be a pool of water, and 
pay gravel to operate upon. This process was extensively 
used in washing out the wonderfully rich deposits of 
Kockerville, where to-day good wages are made through 
the medium of the despised rocker. 



Another method somewhat similar to ordinary sluicing, 
but on a far more extensive scale, that has been employed 
to some extent in the Black Hills, is the hydraulic pro- 
cess. Ill hydraulic mining, as in sluicing, the first requisite 
is, of course, the auriferous deposits to be operated upon. 
These are found as before stated, but the high bar deposit 
will be taken to illustrate the modus operandi. As these 
bars are not of a solid rock formation, but accretions of 
earth, gravel and boulders — mixed with the gold or other 
mineral that has been liberated, by the action of mountain 
torrents, and other agencies from veins or ledges above, 
and washed down and distributed in the soil of the valley 
or deposited in bars, they are easily broken and disinte- 
grated, when exposed to the action of a sufficient head of 
water. Then the mining ditches must be built. 

These waterways are made by diverting the streams from 
their natural channels, at some point high enough above 
the mines to afford the requisite fall, and conveying it by 
ditch and flume, sometimes many miles along the hill-sides ; 
around or through jutting rocks and across deep ravines, 
where it is supported by trestle work, to the place where 
the water is to be utilized. The water is then conducted 
from the main reservoir or flume through a pipe which 
connects at the lower end with a strong wooden or cast- 
iron box, provided with several openings to which are 
attached smaller pipes, these being again connected with 
flexible rubber or canvas hose, which can be turned in any 
direction, terminating in nozzles with orifices from one and 
a half to three inches in diameter. A wide sluice is then 
made, which carries off the loosened material from the 
mine or bar operated upon, into sluice-boxes provided 
with riffles after the method of ordinary sluicing. 

Men are stationed at the nozzle to manipulate the hose, 
and a very uncomfortable position it seems from my point 
of view, upon the one and only occasion on which I wit- 


iiessed the process, then the floodgate, which is usually 
many miles above, is opened, and the water under a power- 
ful pressure rushes down through ditch, flume, and pipe, 
with an ever-increasing momentum into the box or bulk- 
head, then through the distributing pipes into the hose, 
and out at the orifices with the tremendous force of a bat- 
tering ram. Continuous streams of water are directed 
through the nozzles at the base of the bar, undermining it, 
thus causing the overhanging mass to fall to the base, where 
by the powerful action of the water it is broken apart and 
washed down into the sluice; great boulders weighing tons 
are swept down the slope and toyed with as if they were 
tiny pebbles. The water flows away down the slope, leav- 
ing the larger boulders and the coarser gold on bed-rock, 
while the finer gold is carried along with the earth and 
gravel through the sluice boxes, where it is caught in the 
rifties. It goes without saying that the clean-ups must be 
something vast, if the deposits are rich, when the amount 
of material that passes through the sluices is taken into 

In hydraulic mining it would seem to be essential that 
the men employed should possess wonderful muscle, as 
well as feel an utter indiS'erence to water and its effects; 
those stationed along the line to remove obstructions having 
frequently to lift and throw aside heavy boulders, and are 
standing or wading around from morning till night in water 
knee-deep; while the men at the nozzles are in about the 
condition of the traditional drowning rat, completely 
drenched by the sheets of spray that are thrown back by 
the fierce contact of the water with the bank against which 
it is delivered. To the student of hydrodynamics the 
whole process from the head of the flume to the foot of the 
sluices — and the clean-up may as well be included — is one 
of exceeding interest. To the observer, it presents fea- 
tures thai are more than interesting, they are grandly 

The most extensive hydraulic enterprise projected in the 


Black Hills was the great Rockerville flume for conducting 
the waters of Spring creek to the rich, dry placer beds at 
Rockerville. The flume, which was commenced in 1878, 
was an immense wooden structure, running from the dam 
at a point two miles above Sheridan, along a tortuous 
route, on the side of steep mountains, around abrupt 
curves, over deep gorges, on lofty trestles to Rockerville, 
a distance of seventeen miles. It was a gigantic undertak- 
ing — requiring the use of hundreds of thousands of feet 
of lumber and the employment of many men, at a cost of 
from $250,000 to $300,000. 

The operations by this process on the Rockerville gulch 
deposits continued about five years, resulting in the pro- 
duction of over a half million of dollars in gold. 

Hydraulic flumes were also constructed on Rapid creek, 
near Pactola, by the Estella Del Norte Company at an 
immense expense, where operations were carried on for a 
time. Also the Hydraulic Gold Mining Company, on Battle 
creek, all of which will be referred to farther on. 

Placer mining in the Black Hills — as a great mining 
industry — has long since been abandoned : not because 
these deposits have been exhausted, by any means. There 
are to-day, it is believed by miners of judgment and ex- 
perience, millions of dollars of gold lying buried down 
deep on the water-washed bed-rock of Spring, Rapid, and 
Castle creeks, and perhaps other streams, awaiting cap- 
ital, for the employment of skilled engineers and effective 
mechanical appliances for exhausting the surplus water on 
the beds of those streams. That such an enterprise will 
some day be undertaken, it is believed. 


In the annals of nearly all mining camps, it is found 
that their stability and permanency have depended mostly 
upon the quartz mines. It is shown that not the easy 
placers, that cost little to operate, and moreover soon be- 
come exhausted, but the capital employed and expended 


in the development and equipment of quartz properties, 
with engines, steam drills, hoisting plants, mills, and other 
expensive machinery, and the employment of skilled en- 
gineers to set them in motion and operate them, and expert 
miners to extract the ore from the mine in the most judi- 
cious manner for its proper development, — are what build 
up and maintain vitality in a mining camp; hence in a new 
camp the chief interest soon centers in its quartz mines, and 
the history of the great mining camp of Deadwood is no 
exception to the general rule. 

Early in 1876 after the short period of delirious excite- 
ment, consequent upon the rich placer discoveries, had given 
place to calm consideration and sober judgment, the atten- 
tion of prospectors was directed towards the quartz resources 
of the camp and soon the hills above the gold-laden gulch 
were being vigorously exploited — by men who knew gold- 
bearing rock when they saw it — for traces of the ledges 
whence the marvelous deposits came. "Float" and 
" croppings " galore were carried daily to the tents and 
cabins of prospectors, in bags flung over their shoulders, 
for testing purposes. Then followed what may appropri- 
ately be termed the " mortar and pestle " era, during which 
the music of numberless of the tiny one-stamp mills was 
heard from every quarter of the big camp, morning, noon, 
and night ; and one was confronted on everv hand, on the 
street corners, in grocery stores, hotels, and saloons, where 
men the most did congregate, by the amusing spectacle of 
men submitting a small piece of innocent rock to the 
most severe scrutiny, through a magnifying glass, to dis- 
cover whether it was guilty or innocent of carrying free 

A change then came over the silent hills, where erstwhile 
were heard only the howling of the timber wolf, the solemn 
hooting of the owl, and kindred sounds, and solitude 
reigned there nevermore. The clinking of picks and 
shovels, the creaking of many windlasses, and the roar of 
dynamite, that tore the rocks asunder, proclaimed the 



beginning of quartz mining in what was afterwards known 
throughout the raining world as the great " gold belt " of 
the Black Hills. 

Durinty the year 1876 there were more than 150 quartz 
mines located and in process of rapid development, within 
a radius of five miles of Dead wood. Among the earliest 
discoveries were the Golden Terry on Bob Tail, familiarly 
known as the Frenchman's Mine, and reputed to be the 
first discovered quartz mine in the " belt," the Alpha lode, 
discovered on the 12th of May, 1876, by Messrs. Wol- 
sey, Jones & Rowland, upon which was operated the first 
stamp mill in the Black Hills; the Homestake, discovered 
by Emanuel brothers, Alf. Engh, and others; the Hidden 
Treasure on Spring gulch, discovered by Thos. O'Neal on 
the 13th of May, 1876, upon which was operated the first 
quartz mill in the Black Hills; the Chief of the Hills on 
Black Tail, located by Jack Hunter and California Joe; 
the Old Abe, discovered by M. Cavanaugh; the Golden 
Star, located by Smoky Jones ; and others located at nearly 
the same time, or a little later. 

The Golden Terry, the Homestake, the Old Abe and the 
Golden Star have long since lost their identity, having 
been absorbed with other mines by the capital of the great 
Homestake Company, that has for the past nineteen years 
been paying dividends from the product of those early 
discoveries. Strange, isn't it, and sad, too, when you come 
to think of it, that the toiling, sweating, powder-begrimed 
miner rarely reaps the full fruition of his discovery. 

The early explorations for gold-bearing quartz were, how- 
ever, by no means confined to the northern Hills. At a 
very early date in 1876, some promising discoveries were 
made among the hills bordering on French creek, and other 
portions of the southern and central Hills. 

A trip through the valleys and gulches of the Black 
Hills to-day will disclose the fact that a vast deal of pros- 
pecting was done during the early years of their history, 
for both placer and quartz; deserted shafts, with dumps 


of gravel and rock, broken and decaying windlasses, and 
ore buckets lying near by ; abandoned tunnels, in which 
sometimes can be found an old pick and shovel corroded 
with the rust of years, but more frequently filled up with 
the fallen debris; prospect holes innumerable, and tumble- 
down log cabins may be seen wherever you go. Nearly 
every hillside and gulch throughout the length and breadth 
of the fair domain tell a pathetic story of depleted purses, 
wasted energies, disappointed hopes, and days, months, 
yea, sometimes years, of unrewarded toil. Occasionally 
a piece of expensive machinery will be found going to 
certain wreck and ruin. Any one who has ever traveled 
over the road from Rochford to Hill City will perchance 
have noticed an old wheel lying on the sands on one of 
the banks of Castle creek, below Ca^^tleton, where it has 
lain for years, a solemn warning to passing miners. That 
old decaying wheel is the sole representative of a capital 
of $10,000 in cold cash, expended by H. C. Smith, former 
County Commissioner of Pennington County, in a futile 
attempt to exhaust the water from the gold-laden bed-rock 
of the valley of that stream. 


Much has been said and more written of the peculiar 
characteristics of miners as distinct from all other classes 
of the genus homo that is believed to be erroneous and 
exaggerated. Their vernacular, their eccentricities, and 
their personnel have been prolific themes for the pen of 
the humorist and the caricaturist, ever since the days of 
"Roaring Camp" and "Poker Flats." The most san- 
guinary and indefensible murder of the Queen's English 
has been laid at their doors, and they have been portrayed 
in garbs that would bring a broad smile to even the face 
of a stone wall. All this has been told, and more. 

Now, perhaps it is not right to aim a deadly blow at a 
cherished tradition, and try to undermine a fixed belief, 
but, in justice to the mining fraternity, I want to express^ 


the conviction that the popular conception of miners, taking 
the average Blaci^ Hills miner as a type, comes about as 
near to the truth as that of the traditional Yankee, who 
sometimes appears on the comedy stage with striped 
trousers, swallow-tail coat — mostly tail, — high stand-up 
collar, and a nasal twang and pronunciation, the like of 
which was never heard by mortal man since the building 
of the tower of Babel. 

Little of what has been said and written about miners is 
applicable to Black Hills miners, who are an intelligent, 
and, in many cases, a well-educated class of men. Of 
course, in a spirit of goodfellowship, they sometimes ad- 
dress each other as " pard," and most wear overalls and 
rubber boots, as the nature of their vocation requires, but 
who ever heard of a Black Hills miner talking like this: — 

♦♦ Look er-har, boys, I'm er goin' ercross ter der s'loon 
an' ax Bill ter chalk me down fer der drinks ferder crowd. 
Come er long, boys." 

" All right, pard, we've bin kin' er waitin' for yer ter 
ax us." 




In amon.o; the rugo-ed northern hills, at an altitude of 
over 4,500 feet above the level of the sea, is situated the 
city bearing the very unique name of Deadwood, so named 
because of the chaos of fallen dead timbers which once cov- 
ered the site of its location. Although the name is a good 
enough one, and was honestly and appropriately bestowed, 
there are those who think that the great commercial metrop- 
olis of the Black Hills should have been honored with a 
more euphonious appellation. As a matter of fact, however, 
in the fitness of things, it could not very well have been 
called by any other name. But what's in a name, and, in- 
deed, what cared its sponsors what the name of the infant 
city, when eveiy square foot of its foundation was to yield 
to them a rich tribute of shining gold? At any rate, 
Deadwood it was named, and inasmuch as its citizens are 
satisfied to accept matters as they found them, Deadwood 
it shall remain. 

The site of the original Deadwood was located on the 
26th of April, 1876, by Craven Lee, Isaac Brown, J. J. 
Williams, and others, below the junction of Deadwood and 
Whitewood creeks, and laid out down the narrow valley of 
the latter stream, close under the shadow of Forest Hill, 
and a more picturesque site could hardly have been chosen. 
The contracted valley, flanked on one side by Forest 
Hill, which was then clothed with evergreen trees from 
base to summit, on the other by rugged hills, above which 
rise the hoary crests of White Rocks, some 2,000 feet 
above the level of their base, was barely wide enough 
at points for the laying out of one narrow street. The 
site was laid out evidently to conform with the topogra- 



„hy of the valley, without regard to the points of the 
!l: "L. the main street, however, trending nearly north 

compass, the 


.od south, and crossed at right a.gles by Lee, Gold, and 
Wall streets. 


When the howling waste of dead timbers and underbrush 
was removed from the ground, the work of building at 
once began. The first structure erected on the platted site 
was a small log cabin, built by Lee & Brown, at the north- 
west corner of Main and Gold streets, on part of the 
ground now occupied by the Nye Block. With the push 
and energy characteristic of our early pioneers, Lee & 
Brown had their cabin built and ready for occupancy on 
the 30th of April, just four days after the site was laid 
out. Before the laying of the town-site there had been 
three other cabins built on the ground, the first by J. J. 
Williams, on ground afterwards occupied by J. Goldberg's 
store, the second by John Shive, and the third by W. H. 

The first frame structure erected in Deadwood was built 
by C. V. Gardner & Co., in June, 1876, on the lot adjoin- 
ing the one occupied by Lee & Brown. In this frame 
building Gardner & Co. opened the first completely 
equipped grocery store in Deadwood. The second is said 
to have been opened by Furnam & Brown, followed very 
closely by Browning & Wringrose. 

Prior to the opening of these houses, a number of others, 
among; whom were Judge W. L. Kuvkendall and Cuthbert- 
son & Young, had carried on a sort of curbstone grocery 
and provision traflSc with freighters, of whom they purchased 
only in quantities suflacient to meet the existing demand. 

The first drug store was established by Julius Deetkin on 
the east side of Main street, below Lee, in June, 1876. A 
little later Mr. Deetkin became associated with E. C. Bent,, 
under the firm name of Bent & Deetkin. 

The first hotel erected was Gen. Custer House, built 
by John Scollard, now of Sturgis, on the northeast 
corner of Main and Lee streets, in June, 1876. This 
building, a two-story frame structure, was opened to the 
public as a hostelry in July, 1876, by R. R. Marsh, who 
retired from the business in December following, and was 
succeeded by J. J. Sutherland and John Amerman. 



But while the Gen. Custer Hou^se was the first completed 
it was not the first opened for business. The Grand Cen- 
tral was built a little later in June of that year, on the 
west or north side, whichever it may be called — of Main 
street, and was opened during the same month, first as a 
restaurant, by C. H. Wagner. Later the building was 
raised an additional story, after which it was conducted as 
a regular hotel. 





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The first hardware store in Dead wood, and perhaps in 
the Black Hills, was opened by Boughton & Berry in a 
building which stood on the ground afterwards occupied 
by Star & Bullock's hardware store on the east side of 
Main street. 

The first meat shop was opened by J. Shoudy in the 
spring of 1876 ; and the first regular restaurant, called the 
IXL, was opened by J. Vandaniker & McGavock. 

The first saddlery and harness shop was opened during 
the summer of 1876, by J. M. Woods, on the east side of 


Main street, below Wall, and the first livery barn was estab 
lished during the same summer by Clark & Morill, who also 
conducted an auction and commission business in connec- 
tion with the livery. The first jewelry store was opened by 
M. N. Gillette. 

It is claimed that Judge Miller was the first law practi- 
tioner in Deadwood, and Dr. A. W. McKinney the first local 

The first school opened in Deadwood was a private 
school taught by Wm. Commode, during the autumn of 
1876. The term was taught in a small log cabin that stood 
on or near the ground now occupied by the Wentworth 
Hotel. In November, 1876, a second bank was established 
by Miller & McPherson, in connection with other lines of 

Business enterprises followed each other in such bewil- 
deringly rapid succession in 1876, that it is indeed difficult 
to state positively which was first in the race. Each one 
speedily reared his structure according to his individual 
fancy or convenience - — with utter disregard to regularity — 
and opened up his wares for traffic. In four months from 
the day the first smoke curled up from the rude chimney of 
Lee & Brown's log cabin, both sides of Main street were 
crowded with structures of various sizes, shapes, and quali- 
ties — log cabins, frame buildings, and tents, in one curi- 
ous medley bent. Even the cross streets, in defiance of 
the rules and regulations adopted by the town organization^ 
were appropriated for building and business purposes. 

The followinof are the names of some of the firms con- 
ducting business in Deadwood during the initial year of its 
history : Baer & McKinnis, Janson & Bliss, and Star 8b 
Bullock (hardware) ; J. M. Woods (banker); Miller & Mc- 
Pherson (bankers) ; D. Hozeman, Browning & Wringrose, 
Garrison & Dennee (grocers) ; Bent & Deetkin (druggists) ; 
Matheieson & Goldberg, Gardner & Brown, Robinson & 
Ross (grocers); Garlick Bros, (druggists); A. T. Henzie 
(jeweler); Cuthbertson & Young, W. L. Kuykendall 


(commission) ; Wm. Burton, Vanduniker & McGavock 
(restaurants); Amerman & Sutherland (hotel); C. H. 
Wagner (hotel); Matkin & Co. (bakers); Hildebrand & 
Hardiog, Phillips & Biddle, Gaston & Shankland, Nye & 
Co., Samuel Soyster, Knovvles & Marshmand, Wm. Le De 
Moss; and many others. 

During that brief period about 7,000 were added to the 
population of Deadwood, among whom were many reck- 
less adventurers, who scarcely knew for what they came — 
without other purpose than the possible chance of fleecing 
unwary and trusting pilgrims. Hotels and other places of 
entertainment, though numerous, were crowded to over- 
flowing, beds in which to sleep were at a high premium 
and a chair on which to sit was regarded as a great luxury. 
As a matter of fact, many had not the price to advance 
for either, and were forced to slumber in the shadow of the 
buildings or standing up in saloons and gambling houses. 

In the train of the legitimate prospector, came the men 
of business and professional men — the former with their 
goods, merchandise, fixtures, etc., and in their wake fol- 
lowed the gamblers and all kinds of crooks and sharps^ 
and with them those fixed facts in the moral or immoral 
economy of nearly all mining camps and municipalities, 
those human leeches that remorselessly feed upon the earn- 
ings of weak men — the courtesan. By the latter part of 
August, Deadwood had become a vast seething cauldron 
of restless humanity, composed of virtue and vice in about 
equal ratios, engaged each in his own way in the mighty 
struggle for gold. 

Nearly all branches of business were represented in 
Deadwood in 1876, and the trade along all lines was some- 
thing immense. Every business man, no matter in what 
kind of traflBc engaged, made money beyond his most san- 
guine expectations. Hotels and other eating places which 
fed hundreds every day were veritable gold mines, and the 
saloons, of which there were scores, grew rich on the reck- 
less expenditures of those who dug for gold. 


Profits were large and the demand unlimited; wages 
were high and gold plentiful. Every miner carried his 
little buckskin sack, filled with gold dust, which he squan- 
dered right and left with reckless prodigality and abandon. 
An instance of which I chanced to be a witness is now re- 
called, when a high-stepping, half-seas-over miner, scat- 
tered the contents of his well-filled gold sack in the middle 
of Main street, to see the boys and impecunious men 
scramble for the shining particles. Let it be understood, 
however, that all miners were not thus reckless and prodi- 
gal of their gold, only the major part of them. As gold 
dust, whose commercial value was then rated at from 
eighteen to twenty dollars per ounce, was the almost sole 
medium of exchange, a pair of gold scales and a blower 
were indispensable parts of the equipment of every business 

En-passant, the most unique and perhaps the most profit- 
able load of merchandise brought to Deadvvood in 1876, 
was a consignment of cats. While there were plenty of wild 
cats among the jungles of the Hills in those days, there 
were very few of the domestic variety, so taking advantage 
of the existing dearth, some speculative genius in the East 
conceived the happy idea of shipping a wagon load of the 
Eastern surplus to the Black Hills and convert it into gold 
dust. The load, which was arranged into compartments 
one above the other, comprised cuts of almost every shade 
and hue, Maltese, black, white, yellow, gray, and spotted. 

The average man in Deadwood in 1876 would pay any 
reasonable price for a " family cat " to keep fresh in his 
memory "the girl he left behind him," and consequently 
there was quite an active competition around the wagon in 
the street as to the privilege of first choice. The Maltese 
being the prime favorite, commanding the highest price, 
the maximum being $10.00 in gold dust, and $5.00 the 

Ovving: to the difficultv and cost, as well as the extreme 
danger of transportation, provisions of all kinds commanded 



exorbitant prices, tioiir, at times of great scarcity, having 
sold as high as $00.00 per 100 pounds, and other staple 

witcher's freight train on the streets of deadwood in 1876. 

articles at proportionate prices. To offset the prevailing 
high prices of goods, however, wage-earners, both miners 
and skilled mechanics, received from five to seven dollars 



per day's work, and mine owners in many cases were 
making a small fortune every day. Idlers and hangers-on, 
of whom there were many, of course lived a very precarious 
existence, oftentimes being forced to go hungry. 


There was no austerity nor solemnity about Sunday in 
Deadwood during the pioneer days. The current of traffic, 
like time and tide, flowed on seven days of every week, 
and Sunday was the maddest business day of all. It was 
not that its business men had lost their reckoning of the 
days of the week that Sunday was the busiest of the seven, 
but because that was the day on which the hundreds of 
miners and prospectors in the surrounding camps and 
gulches threw down their picks and shovels and came to 
Deadwood to replenish their stores of supplies, get their 
mail, have a jolly good time, and spend their week's earn- 
ings. Naturally the business men, not having braved the 
dangers of a journey into the Black Hills for their health, 
were nothing loth to exchange their goods and merchandise 
and otherwise cater to their pleasures for gold dust, hence 
Deadwood on Sunday presented a scene of extraordinary 
business activity and excitement, and one not easily 

Conjure up in your minds one long, rather narrow street, 
which was practically all there was of Deadwood in the 
summer of 1876, deeply lined on both sides from one 
extreme to the other with a dense, dark mass of surging, 
pushing, struggling, male humanity, every business place 
open and traffic in full blast. Imagine the arrival upon the 
scene of several freight trains, heavily laden with merchan- 
dise, and the bustle and confusion of unloading the same at 
the doors of the many hustling dealers along the crowded 
street. Imagine you hear the oaths of the pitiless drivers 
accompanied by the sharp crack of their long, cruel lashes, 
the plaintive "mooing" of the tired, panting cattle, and 
the loud, resonant braying of many mules, and above all 


the incessant rasping of numerous saws and the re- 
sounding blows of many hammers, and you have a faint 
mental reproduction of Sunday in Deadwood during the 
pioneer days, which was but an extreme type of every 
other day of the week. 


Picturesque and exciting as was the exterior aspect of 
Deadwood during the day, it presented another even more 
novel and striking view, which the casual observer could 
gain only by the rays of numerous kerosene lamps. 

By elbowing your way down the street through a jostling 
crowd of roystering, rollicking miners, noisy " whackers," 
untutored tenderfeet, and some more kinds of people, when 
the shades of evening prevailed and the lamps were lighted, 
you could have had a glimpse of the true inwardness of Dead- 
wood during the early period. You would have seen every 
store, every saloon and gambling resort, all places of amuse- 
ment, of questionable propriety, bright and alluringly 
illuminated by many coal oil lamps. Execrable music, 
produced from antiquated pianos and cracked violins, 
mingled .with song and hilarious laughter, would have 
reached your ears from every quarter. By a hasty glance 
through the wide-open doors of the saloons and gamino' 
resorts, you would have noticed large crowds of men of all 
classes gathered, eagerly watching as if fascinated, the 
many games of chance going on, games in which hundreds 
of dollars were won and lost in a single night, games in 
which, alas, many a tenderfoot was tempted to stake his all 
on the hazard of a die, only to lose. The most notorious 
as well as the most nefarious of the gambling resorts to be 
found in Deadwood during the early days, was a place 
on lower Main street called by the musical name of the 
" Melodeon," but where the melody came in is not under- 
tood, unless it might be the mellifluous How of gold 
dust into the pockets of the robbers, thieves, bunko men, 
and general cappers, the " Nutshell Bills," the " Pancake 


Bills," the " Mysterious Jimmie?," and others of that ilk, 
who were said to have made that unsavory resort their head- 
quarters. There was another popular resort on lower Main 
street, known as the " Variety Theatre," where under the 
glare of kerosene lamps the Ella La Rues, the Fanny Gar- 
retsons, the Kittie Leroys and the big-voiced Monteverdes, 
nightly entertained and enchanted hundreds of men with 
ribald song and dance and wine and smutty jest, until 
the " wee-sma ' " hours of the morning. All this I was told 
and much more, over which it is better to draw the veil. 
In the living panorama surging along the street it was 
not an uncommon thing to see groups of gaudily-attired, 
paint-bedaubed creatures — whom for grammatical accuracy 
we will call women, some from whose faces the bloom of 
innocence had not yet wholly departed ; others whose 
cheeks evidently had years before forgotten how to blush, 
boldly parading up and down, amid the jostling crowds, at 
early lamplight — presenting a spectacle suggestive of a 
degree of depravity not pleasant to contemplate. Albeit, 
in view of the fact that the people were outlaws, having no 
license to control affairs — not even municipal license, for 
several months, there was a remarkable al)sence of disorder 
in the streets of Deadwood during its pioneer days. 


The Centennial Anniversary of our nation's birth was by 
no means forgotten by the people of the Black Hills, in 
their eager quest for gold, as was shown by the manner in 
which the people of Deadwood and its surburban population 
of miners observed the day. Pioneers never do things by 
halves, and the fact that they were not regarded by Uncle 
Sam as citizens, nor accorded any of their rights, lessened 
not a whit their zeal and patriotism, or their loyalt}' to the 
flag they still loved, so the great national holiday was 
celebrated with a vim and enthusiasm worthy of the impor- 
tant occasion. 

To make the necessary preliminary preparations for the 


proper observance of the day, hundreds of stalwart miners 
from the adjacent camps gathered in Dead wood on the 
evening of the third to aid in the erection of a pole of lib- 
erty. The tallest and most symmetrical pole that could be 
found along the mountain slopes was secured and planted 
in front of the speaker's stand — previously prepared on 
the north side of Main street, to be ready for the flag at 
the " dawn's early light." 

It is needless to state that the celebrators were on the 
alert for the hour to begin. I was on the alert too, soon 
after, for at the last stroke of the midnight hour by the 
cabin clock, or the last tick of the twelfth hour by the 
watches in the miners' vest pockets the booming of artil- 
lery began. One hundred salutes — anvil salutes — were 
fired in reasonably rapid succession, which consumed the 
major part of the time till daylight — as per mathematical 
calculation ; yes, an average of twenty-tive booms per hour, 
in regular sequence, would bring daylight in July, and fig- 
ures will not lie. It was so soothing to the nerves, you know. 

At the rising of the sun the national emblem was raised 
to its position just beneath the little gilded dome surmount- 
ing the pole of liberty, where it unfurled its bright folds, 
and floated out to the mountain breeze, and it floated none 
the less proudly in that the red portion of the emblem was 
composed of a patriotic lady's garment of " mystical sub- 
limity " that was neither " russet, silk nor dimity." Then 
" pent-up Utica broke forth," and volley after volley of 
musketry, intermingled with the lusty cheering of the crowd, 
gave full proof that patriotism was neither dead nor dying 
in the hearts of the Black Hills pioneers. 

There was one notable feature about the Deadwood Cen- 
tennial celebration, to wit : The ubiquitous boy with the 
nerve-destroying fire-cracker was not greatly in evidence — 
a circumstance for which every woman in Deadwood was, 
no doubt, duly thankful. The crack of small arms, how- 
ever, could be heard from every quarter from the right and 
the left, from the front and the rearof you, which, with the 


singing of patriotic airs and an occasional report from the 
anvil, continued until nearly noon. 

At eleven o'clock a. m. Judge W. S. Kuykendall, having 
been elected president, mounted the platform and called 
the assembled multitude to order. After an impressive 
prayer by the chaplain. Rev. C. E. Halley, the Declaration 
of Independence was read in his own intimitable style, 
by Gen. A. R. Z. Dawson. The orator of the day was 
then introduced in the person of Judge Joseph Miller, who 
made an eloquent, practical speech — dwelling largely 
upon local interests, and closing with a stirring patriotic 

The following Memorial to Congress — prepared by 
himself, was then read by Gen. Dawson and presented for 
the signature of the people : — 

" To the Honored Senate and House of Representatives of 
the United States, in Congress assembled : 

" Your memorialists, citizens of that portion of Dakota 
known as the Black Hills, most respectfully petition your 
honorable body for speedy and prompt action in extinguish- 
ing the Indian title to, and the opening for settlement of the 
country we are now occupying and improving. We have 
now iu the Hills a population of at least 7,000 honest, loyal 
citizens, who have come here with the expectation of mak- 
ing their homes. Our country is rich not only in mineral 
resources, but is abundantly supplied with timber, and a 
soil rich enough to sustain a large population. 

"Your memorialists would, therefore, earnestly request 
that we be no longer deprived of the fruits of our labor 
and driven from the country we now occupy, but that the 
government, for which we have offered our lives, at once 
extend a protecting arm and take us under its care. 

*« As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray." 

It goes without saying that every one to whom the memo- 
rial was presented, attached his signature. 


Celebrations similar to the one in Deadwood were also 
held in Elizabethtown and Montana City. At the former 
place Dr. McKinney presided, Dr. Overman read the Dec- 
laration of Independence, and Attorney A. B. Chapline 
delivered the oration. At Montana City, two miles below 
Deadwood, Judge H. N. Maguire delivered an eloquent 
oration which stirred his hearers to a high degree of patri- 
otic enthusiasm. In the absence of anvils to emphasize 
their patriotism, they fired their needle guns into the sides 
of the mountains and did everything possible with the 
facilities at hand to make the occasion one long to be 

To still further commemorate the glorious anniversary, 
a notable event in the annals of the big mining camp 
transpired on that day. In a little log cabin that stood on 
the ground now occupied by the Central School building, 
Revillo F. Robinson, the first child born in Deadwood, 
made his debut on the tumultuous scene, and having made 
his advent amid the booming of anvil artillery, the music 
and cheering of loyal multitudes, and patriotic utterances 
from eloquent lips, iu honor of our Centennial birthday, 
Revillo should be, and no doubt is, a true and loyal 
" Young America," and, if he bears out the promise of 
his early boyhood, Deadwood has good reason to feel proud 
of her first-born son. Revillo is the son of Mr. and Mrs. 
J. N. Robinson, now living at Dakota City on the Cheyenne 


The exercise of the civil functions of the government 
over the people of the Black Hills, as far as the collection 
of Federal taxes was concerned, was not long delayed. By 
an order of April 12th, 1876, this important function was 
first assigned by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to 
the District of Wyoming, but on May 12th, 1876, the 
order was revoked by the Revenue Department and assigned 


to the District of Dakota, when Gen. A. R. Z. Dawson was 
sent to Deadwood as Deputy Revenue Collector. 

Gen. A. R. Z. Dawson — the memory of whose name 
causes the heart of every old pioneer to thrill with feelings 
of intense pride — was not only the first to collect United 
States revenue in the Black Hills, but the sacred words of 
the great " Declaration " were first uttered by his eloquent 
lips, and rang out on the Black Hills mountain air on our 
Centennial natal day ; the first memorial to Congress — in 
behalf of the outlawed people of the Black Hills — was 
penned by his ready hand; he also served them as first 
clerk of the first United States courts held in the Black Hills 
under the new regime in 1877, and his taking away was a 
sad blow to the people whose stanch friend he ever proved. 

The only recognition accorded the people, however, up to 
1877, was that of contMbutinor revenue to the government. 
Bitter protestations were made against what seemed the 
inconsistent and unjust attitude of the government, and 
frequent demands were made for recognition, and, if there 
had been any efficacy in prayer, the Black Hills country 
would have been a full-fledged Territory in 1876, Sioux or 
no Sioux. 

Pending the negotiations for the extinguishment of the 
Indian title to the Black Hills in 1876, the people were in 
an almost continuous attitude of supplication and prayer. 
First through a Memorial to Congress — which was con- 
veyed to Washington by C. V. Gardner — they prayed that 
all disqualifications be removed from the people of the 
Hills, by legalizing the forced occupancy thereof. In 
July, 1876, the people of Deadwood sent a petition, with 
the requisite number of signers, to Gov. John S. Penning- 
ton, for county organization. 

In July, 1876, they memorialized Congress for speedy 
action, looking towards the establishment of a separate and 
distinct territorial government, a government whose enact- 
ments would be in harmony with the local interests and 
requirements of the people. Later, a delegate — in the 


First United States revenue collector and first cleik of courts in the 
Black Hills. 


person of Dr. C. W. Myers — was elected and sent to 
Yankton and Washington in the interests of the Bhick 
Hills, without, however, any immediate effect, though not 
without its influence. In taking a retrospective view of 
the then existing circumstances and conditions, it is not 
seen how the government could have pursued any other 
policy unless, perhaps, in the matter of giving the 
people more speedy military protection against the hostile 


The necessity for a larger scope of domain, to accom- 
modate the increasing business and rapidly expanding pop- 
ulation of Dead wood, suggested to a few speculative 
individuals the scheme of building a rival town, adjacent 
thereto, a town which its promoters believed would, in a 
few weeks, totally eclipse its imperious elder sister on the 
north side, in point of business enterprise and population. 
In furtherance of the project, in the early part of July, 
1876, a site was selected, laid out and platted on the south 
side of and up the narrow defile of Whitewood creek, above 
the original site of Dead wood. A city organization was 
effected by the election of a mayor, common council, and 
all other oflfices necessary to conduct the affairs of a full- 
fledged city government. By mutual consent the new city 
was christened South Deadwood, in contradistinction to 
Deadwood proper. 

According to the rules of the organization lots were made 
subject to location upon specified conditions, and perhaps 
never in the annals of city building was there a greater 
scramble for town lots than in the case of South Dead- 
wood. Squatter sovereignty reigned supreme. At night 
a man would " wrap the drapery of his couch about him 
and lie down to pleasant dreams," feeling secure in the 
possession of some desirable city property, and wake up 
the next morning bright and early to find his ground 
fenced in, or occupied, either with the tent or the goods 



and chattels of some other fellow. Frequent disputes arose 
as to priority of location, in the settlement of which six- 
shooters and shot-guns were potent factors. 

The summary manner in which disputes were sometimes 
settled and lot-jumpers quashed is illustrated by a case of 
which 1 was an eye-witness. One morning, on Deadwood 
street, I was confronted with the alarming spectacle of a 
woman carrying a shot-gun, engaged in an angry dispute, 
with an unarmed man, who, it developed, had located her 
property. Upon his refusal to comply with her peremp- 
tory demand to remove his effects from the ground in dis- 
pute, she deliberately raised her gun to her shoulder, and 
aiming it directly at the intruder, said : "I'll give you just 
one minute, and not a second more, to vacate my property." 
It is needless to state that the poor man speedily took a 
vacation. Similar cases were of frequent occurrence in 
those days. 


The first conspicuous crime committed in the region of 
Deadwood was the killing of a miner named Jack Hinch, 
by John R. Carty and Jerry McCarty, at Gayville, on the 
night of July 9th, 1876. The particulars of the tragic 
affair, as related to me, are substantially as follows: On 
Sunday night of the day mentioned, Carty, McCarty and 
a man named Trainor, were engaged in a game of cards 
in a saloon at Gayville. Hinch, a friend and mining 
partner of the latter, while watching the progress of the 
game, concluded that his partner was being swindled, 
and persuaded him to abandon the game, which brought 
about the altercation that culminated in the commission 
of the crime. About an hour after Hinch had retired to 
his quarters in Turner & Wilson's saloon, Carty and 
McCarty entered the place, aroused Hinch, and asked 
him to get up and drink with them. Believing the proposi- 
tion to be of a conciliatory nature, Hinch started to get 
up, when McCarty fired two shots at him, and while in 


this half-upright position, Carty attacked him with a hirge 
sheath knife, together inflicting wounds from the eff"ect of 
which he died at ten o'clock on the following morning. 

Realizing what they had done, the perpetrators hastily 
disposed of their mining property — a rich hill claim, giv- 
ing one-half to their landlady and the other half to a 
friend, procured two horses, and made their escape. A 
large posse of Hinch's friends started in pursuit, scouring 
the Hills in every direction, but failed to get any trace of 
the fugitives. A reward of $500 was then offered for 
their capture. As subsequently developed, Carty and 
McCarty made their way to Fort Laramie, near which 
point they separated, the latter going in the direction of 
Cheyenne, the former joining the logging train of Coffee 
& Cuny, about to start for Fort Fetterman. 

When the pursuing party reached Fort Laramie the 
facts were made known to the commanding oflicer of the 
post, who assured them that Deputy United States Marshal 
I. C. Davis would assist them in every way to ferret out 
the criminals. Davis, on receiving a description of the 
men, set out in pursuit, overtook the train and captured 
the man Carty without the least resistance. McCarty, 
the principal, was never, it is believed, found. On the 
evening of July 31st, Marshal Davis, accompanied by Mr. 
Cuny, arrived with his prisoner at Gayville, the scene of 
the murder. 

Marshal Davis drove through Deadwood at a mad pace 
that day, with Carty wrapped up in a blanket on the bottom 
of the wagon, and everybody turned out to see the fright- 
ful runaway. It appears that he had been notified back at 
a point known as " Break Neck " hill, that it would be very 
unsafe to expose his prisoner in passing through Dead- 
wood, as Hinch's friends would surely lynch him ; so, 
after consulting his prisoner, he adopted this bit of strat- 
egy, which came very near making farther proceedings 
unnecessary. It is related that on reaching Gayville the 
poor fellow was so near suffocated with the extreme heat 

364 thb: black hills; ok, 

and want of oxygen, that vigorous measures had to be 
taken to restore him to consciousness. 

In the absence of reguharly constituted courts, it seemed 
necessary, in so grave a cliarge as murder, that the formal- 
ities of a trial be gone through with; so a miners' meet- 
ing was called for the next day, August 1st, for the 
purpose of making preliminary arrangements for trying the 
prisoner on the charge of murder. 

The people were stirred up to a high tension over the 
affair. By 10 o'clock of the following day Gayville was 
blocked by a vast gathering of excited, turbulent miners 
from the camps, and citizens from Deadwood, all eager to 
witness the sequel to the initial tragedy of the gulch. The 
respective friends of the murdered man and the prisoner 
were out in large force, armed to the teeth, the former 
headed by big Bill Trainor — as he was called — clamorous 
for summary punishment to be meted out to the accused; 
the latter led by John Flaherty, who afterwards made a big 
stake in the sale of the De Smet group of mines — equally 
determined that he should have a fair trial. For a while 
the prisoner's life seemed to hang in a balance, with the 
preponderance of weight against him. " Hang him, hang 
him! " was the cry of Hinch's friends as they surged 
threateningly toward the place where the prisoner was 
held in custody. " Touch him at your peril ! " was hurled 
back defiantly by his friends. At a critical juncture Mar- 
shal Davis — whose nerve never weakened at the threats 
and curses of the mob that surged about the prisoner, 
interposed in his behalf. Mounting a barrel he called the 
attention of the excited mob and thus addressed it : — 

" Boys, I have brought this man from Fort Laramie, 
through a country swarming with Indians, in order that you 
might try him for his life. When I took him, I gave him 
his choice to be taken to Yankton and tried by the courts, 
or to come back to the Hills to be tried by the miners. 
He chose to come here, and when he did so, I promised 
him that he should have a fair trial, and by that he 


shall have. Try him and if you find him guilty of murder, 
hang him and I will help you pull the rope. But, until he 
has had a fair trial, the man or men who touch a hair of 
his head, will first walk over my dead body." This bold 
and manly stand in the performance of his sworn duty, 
appealed to the miners' sense of justice and quelled the 
mob. The prisoner, for the time being, was safe. 

In arranging for the trial, the first step was, of course, 
to find a man with the requisite legal attainments, and some 
judicial experience, to preside as judge. After casting 
about for one who would fill these requirements the choice 
finally fell upon O. H. Simonton, who had just arrived in 
the Hills, by ox train, over the Fort Pierre route, and who, 
it was ascertained, had served in the capacity of justice of 
the peace, in the stock yards of Chicago. From a panel 
of forty names twelve jurymen were drawn as follows: 
E. B. Parker, Ed. Durham, J. H. Balf, John Kane, 
G. Schugardt, George Heinrich, A. C. Lobdell, C. W. 
Shule, John W. Gill, S. M. Moon, George Atchinson, and 

Curley. A. B. Chapline, afterwards a member of 

the firm of Young & Chapline, was appointed to prosecute 
the case, Carty securing the services of Mills & HoUis to 
defend him. The trial of the case, which was held out in 
the open, continued all through the day, and until 10 
o'clock at night, the procedure in legally constituted courts 
being followed as closely as was possible. Uncomfortably 
seated on a pile of logs in the vicinage of the court during 
the long hours of the trial, might have been seen R. B. 
Hughes (Dick Hughes), with pencil in hand, and paper 
on his knee, patiently taking notes for "copy" for the 
Black Hills Weekly/ Pioneer, and by his side, using a part 
of the same pencil. Rev. Smith, who was waylaid and 
murdered by Indians about three weeks later. 

It was proven at the trial that Carty, although an acces- 
sory to the murder, did not inflict the fatal injuries, in 
accordance with which fact the jury, after a brief delibera- 
tion, handed in a verdict of "Guilty of assault and bat- 


tery." The prisoner was discharged by the court, and given 
save convoy out of the country under a strong guard of 
armed men, who took him to Deadwood, procured a horse 
for him to ride, escorted him to the limits of the town, 
where he mounted, and with an exultant whoop rode 
away, and the Black Hills saw him no more forever. 


Late in the afternoon of August 2nd, 1876, the denizens 
of Deadwood, in the vicinity of lower Main street, were 
startled by a loud pistol report, immediately followed by 
the hurried tramping of a multitude of human feet, when 
the excited cry of '« Wild Bill is shot ! Wild Bill is shot ! " 
rang out above the wild tumult of the gathering crowd. 
At almost the same time a man might have been seen 
backing away up Main street, holding a loaded revolver in 
each hand to keep at bay a large posse of excited citizens, 
who were following in close pursuit. After a short chase 
the desperate man was captured and brought back to No. 
10, the scene of the shooting, where he was held in custody 
to await his fate. 

A strong guard was placed around the building to keep 
the prisoner from the clutches of an excited mob, deter- 
mined to give him short shrift for his crime. Just at a 
critical time a force of about fifty well-armed men — the 
body-guard of Carty, who had just been acquitted of the 
murder of Hinch — arrived from Gayville with their 
charge. After setting Carty free at the lower end of town 
they consented to aid in protecting the prisoner from the 
threatening mob. 

While Wild Bill was playing cards in Nuttall & Maw's 
saloon, known as No. 10, wholly unconscious of threatened 
danger, McCall walked in behind his victim, raised his re- 
volver and tired, the ball entering the back of his head and 
coming out at the center of his right cheek, killing him 

A meeting of the citizens was called at the theater 


building, at which Judge W. L. Kuykendall was chosen to 
preside at the trial of the case. Isaac Brown was elected 
sheriff, a deputy and twelve guards being appointed by the 
court. Col. May acted as prosecuting attorney, and Judge 
Miller defended the prisoner. The only evidence given 
was by the prisoner himself, who testified that Wild Bill 
had killed his brother, somewhere in Kansas, and confessed 
to committing the crime in retaliation. The jury chosen 
to try the case, after a brief deliberation of about thirty 
minutes, returned a verdict of " not guilty," much to the 
surprise and dissatisfaction of hundreds of the people of 
Deadwood, who declared that trial by jury in the Black 
Hills was pretty much of a farce, and that in future murder 
cases Judge Lynch would preside. 

McCall, who immediately left the Hills on his acquittal, 
was afterwards arrested at Laramie City, Wyoming, by 
Deputy United States Marshal Balcombe, and taken to 
Cheyenne, where he was examined before United States 
Commissioner Burns, held upon the evidence, and sent to 
Yankton upon a requisition from the Governor of Dakota, 
where he was tried, found guilty and sentenced to be 
hung, — which sentence was promptly executed. 

Wild Bill's remains were taken charge of and buried by 
his friends in the old burying-ground overlooking the 
Whitewood. His remains were afterwards removed to 
** Moriah Cemetery," where his ashes now repose. His 
grave, inclosed by an iron fence, is marked by a rough 
sandstone obelisk, about six feet in height, surmounted 
by a bust of the famous scout. This bust has been sadly 
defaced by relic hunters, by reason of which it to-day 
bears but a little resemblance to the long-haired, dashing 
frontiersman of a quarter of a century ago. On the front 
of the stone beneath crossed revolvers is a curved scroll, 
bearing, in addition to the ordinary inscription, " Custer 
was lonely without him." 

On the evening of the same day, August 2d, while the 
excitement consequent upon the killing of Wild Bill was 


at its height, a horseman — a half-breed Mexican, came 
(lashing furiously up the crowded street with a Sioux 
whoop, bearing aloft an Indian's head, with its long black 
hair floating back with the wind, furnishing a weird and 
most disgusting spectacle, which, as may be imagined, 
caused the tragic affair of the afternoon to pale into insig- 
nificance. An Indian's scalp was just what the average 
Deadwood citizen had been devoutly wishing for. As the 
Indians had been making things exceedingly lively by 
stealing and running off horses from the settlements along 
the northern border, the people feared that a direct attack 
upon Deadwood was imminent, and the excitement became 

The Mexican's own story of how he gained possession of 
the ghastly trophy was, that some herders had a brush with 
a band of red horse-thieves in the vicinity of Crook City, 
during which one Indian was killed, whereupon he sprang 
forward under a brisk shower of bullets and attempted to 
scalp the Indian, but not being an expert at the business, 
he cut off the entire head. 

Another version of the affair was that on the day pre- 
vious, August 1st, the Indians had rounded up all the loose 
stock around Crook City, and stampeded them across the 
country before the surprised inhabitants had time to offer 
any resistance. Among those who made ready to mount 
and follow in pursuit was one Felix Rooney, who realizing 
that pursuit would be useless, dismounted and lay down in 
the grass — holding the lariat-rope to watch the Indians 
rapidly disappearing in the distance with the property of 
the settlers. VV^hile there a freighter or cattle " whacker" 
rode along, dismounted and threw himself on the grass by 
the side of Rooney — both of whom were well armed. 
After a short time an Indian in war-paint and feathers 
dashed up toward Rooney's horse — evidently thinking 
him picketed. Upon discovering the owner in the grass 
he immediately seized his rifle, but finding it fast in some 
way he drew his revolver and fired, whereupon Rooney, 


instead of firing his gun, threw himself Hat on the grass, 
as he imagined shot. 

It developed, however, that Rooney was unhurt, while 
the Indian lay dead — killed by a bullet from the unerring 
rifle of the intrepid "bull-whacker." On the next day, 
August 2d, the Mexican found the dead body of the Indian, 
and thinking it would be a good scheme, financially, to 
secure the scalp, he essayed the operation, but finding he 
could not accomplish the work scientifically decided to cut 
off the head. This latter version is perhaps the correct 
one ; but whether it is or not, the fact remains that the In- 
dian was decapitated, and the Mexican by fair means or 
foul, got possession of the head, brought it to Deadwood 
and paraded it along Main street on the evening of August 
2d, on the strength of which he secured from the citizens 
of Deadwood about seventy-five or eighty dollars, every one 
of which he " blew in " before the dawn of the following 



C H A P T E K XXyi. 


Up to this time the people of Deadwood had felt them- 
selves comparatively safe from Indian attack, not alone 
because their town was entrenched amid the battlements 
of the Hills, but because of the cordon of settlements along 
the northern border, viz.. Crook City, Centennial, and 
Spearfish, whose people were ever on the alert to keep the 
red marauders at bay. They were rudely awakened one 
day, however, from their sense of comparative security by 
the appearance of the painted savages almost at the gates 
of the city. 

During the forenoon of that never-to-be-forgotten Sun- 
day, August 20th, 1876, they were made aware of their 
proximity by the sight of fifty or sixty badly frightened 
horses, rushing madly through town on a wild stampede. 

The " Montana Herd " as before stated, was established 
by Burton and Cook on Centennial prairie, where they 
built a large stockade or inclosure for the protection of the 
herd at night, the stock for the most part belonging to 
citizens of Deadwood, and the miners and prospectors of 
the surrounding camps. As the price of hay and grain 
was exorbitant at the time, nearly all horses coming to 
Deadwood were at once sent to the '* Montana Herd " 
where they were kept for a reasonable consideration, Bur- 
ton and Cook making daily trips across the mountains to 
Deadwood, a distance of about six miles, to receive and 
return the stock. 

On the 20th of August the Indians made a raid on the 
herd which resulted in the death of four men, one Indian, 
and the loss of 100 head of horses. The evening before, 


the herd was ilriveii into the inclosure as usual, the gate 
closed and a guard placed on watch, the Indians meanwhile 
watching the procedure from a near-by bluff. After all 
had retired for the night, the Indians stole down to the 
rear of the stockade, and in some way dug out the posts 
which formed the structure while the guard slept, and suc- 
ceeded in making an opening large enough for the passage 
of horses, which it was supposed they intended to stam- 
pede early in the morning, while all were profoundly 
sleeping. If so they failed to carry out their programme. 
The next morning the herd was driven out to feed, as 
was the custom. Cook had gone to Deadwood the evening 
before and had not yet returned. Burton had just started 
for Deadwood, with some horses to return to their owners 
and had reached about half way between the camp and the 
foot-hills when, hearing a rifle shot, he looked back in the 
direction of the camp and saw a large band of Indians 
swooping down upon the herd. The horses becoming 
frightened at the reports of the rifles and the unearthly yells 
of the Indians, started on a wild stampede over the Dead- 
wood trail, — the fleetest of them eluding their pursuers, 
some of whom followed them almost to the limits of the 
town, and it was when near the " Rest" on the old trail 
between Deadwood and Crook City, that Rev. Henry 
Weston Smith met his fate at the hands of the Indians on 
that day. 

About fifty or sixty of the stampeded horses came career- 
ing wildly along the main street of Deadwood, causing great 
consternation and excitement. Some of the horses were 
caught, and in sL very brief time about twenty-five well- 
armed men W'ere mounted on the stampeded horses, and 
away over the trail to the relief of the herders at the 
stockade. Meanwhile the Indians had rounded up about 
100 head of horses and driven them on towards Lookout 
Mountain, east of Spearfish, then on across the Red water 
to the north. 

Finding the herders unharmed, on reaching the stockade 


the party followed up the trail of the Indians, hoping to 
overtake them and recover the stock. On riding down 
Spring creek, Isaac Brown, who was a little in advance of 
the others, saw skulking along a ravine a lone Indian, who 
opened fire on the party, which was returned without effect 
on either side. When the main party came up, it advanced 
cautiously on the position of the Indian, who from his 
place of concealment behind a clump of bushes could plainly 
see his pursuers, but could not be seen by them, his exact 
position being revealed only when he fired. 

Brown and Holland advanced from an exposed point still 
nearer the ambushed Indian, who then fired, killing Brown 
instantly; Holland, guided by the direction of the fatal 
shot, aimed his gun at the Indian's head, as he supposed, 
and fired, crying out at the same time: " Come on, boys, 
I've got him," which were his last words, as at that mo- 
ment he fell pierced through the body by a bullet from the 
Indian's gun. 

All efforts to dislodge him proved unsuccessful ; rocks 
and boulders were hurled down upon him without avail. 
Night coming on, the party deciding that any further 
attempt to dislodge him would be useless and might result 
in the death of others, withdrew out of range of his gun to 
consider how to recover the bodies of Brown and Holland 
that were lying within a few feet of the Indian's hiding- 
place. A reward of $500 was offered by Brown's partner 
for the recovery of his body, but as no one felt inclined to 
risk the dangerous undertaking, the party decided to go to 
Spearfish, and return in the morning for the bodies. The 
next day they were found — stripped of their clothing, 
arms, and ammunition — and conveyed to Deadwood for 

Papers found on the body of Charles Holland revealed 
-that he was an Odd Fellow, from Sioux City, Iowa. At 
that time, August 21st, 1876, the first steps were taken 
towards the organization of a lodge of that order in the 
Black Hills. A committee of three '* past grands," viz., 


Judge W. L. Kuykendall, Frank C. Thullen, and Green 
Todd was appointed to examine applicants for recognition, 
when a temporary organizition was effected, by whicli 
organization Charles Holland was buried, Dr. Babcock, of 
Deadvvood, reading from their ritual the impressive burial 
service of the order. Isaac Brown's remains were taken 
charge of by members of the Masonic order, of which he 
also was a member, and both were laid to rest in the old 
cemetery overlooking Whitewood creek. 


During the month of July, 1876, an untraceable rumor 
of the discovery of fabulously rich diggings somewhere out 
among the lower ranges of the Big Horn Mountains, was 
set afloat, causing the maddest of mad stampedes from the 
rich mining camp of Deadwood. Although the pretended 
discoverers guarded the secret of the precise spot of their 
wonderful find well, it got whispered around that a " bald 
peak " among the Wolf mountain ranges marked the 
locality, which all believed they would have little difficulty 
in finding. 

Numerous horsemen, and pack outfits galore, surrepti- 
tiously left Deadwood — some under the cover of night — 
and made their way westward over the plains, none know- 
ing whither, each eager to be the first to reach the reputed 
land of gold and stake off" their claims. 

After wandering aimlessly for many days over the West- 
ern plains and among the mountains — like a ship without 
rudder or compass — in search of the " bald mountain " 
that looked down upon the hidden treasure, suffering ter- 
rible hardships and exposure, in the face of deadly peril, 
the quest was finally abandoned. Some turned their steps 
southward and reached civilization on the Union Pacific 
Railway ; others penetrated the Big Horn Mountains and 
later made their way to the mines of Montana. One party, 
after having been severely harassed by the Indians, a few 
meeting death at their hands, reached and wintered on the 


Crow reservation. Many fonnd their way back to Dead- 
wood gulch far wiser, if not richer men. 

The story of the rich discovery, which turned out to be 
a cruel fabrication, was circulated, it was suspected, for 
purpose of profit on the sale of horses, etc. 

The following excellent doggerel from the ready pen of 
the versatile Jack Langrishe, is a good portrayal of the 
sorry, woe-begone appearance of the badly sold Wolf 
Mountain stampeders on their return to Deadwood : — 

*« This is the man of whom we read, 

Who left Deadwood, on the big stampede ; 
He's now returned, all tattered and torn, 
From looking for sold on the Big Horn. 

He has no malt. 
He has no cat. 
He has no coat. 
He has no hat. 

His trousers are patched with an old fiour sack, 
With " for family use " to be seen on the back ; 
His beard is shaggy, his hair is long 
And this is the burden of his song: 
' If ever I hear, if ever I read 
Of another great or big stampede, 
I'll listen, but I'll give no heed. 
But stay in my cabin at Deadwood.' 

He paid ten dollars the other day 
For a mule to carry his ' grub ' away, 
He packed his load in half an hour. 
Two gallons of whisky, one pound of tlour. 

He bought a shovel, 
And borrowed a pick. 
He sported his watch, 
And went on tick. 


For a side of bacon and a can of lard. 
Now look at his fate! My ! isn't it hard? 
He walked all day and most of the night, 
And now he is back a sorrowful sight, 
To the cabin he built in Deadwood. 


The demand for some kind of municipal government, 
vested by the concessions of the people of Deadwood with 
power to enact laws, securing the city against fires, and for 
the suppression of the reckless discharge of fire-arms within 
its limits, and other lawless acts placing the lives of its 
•citizens in jeopardy, and also for the more rigid enforce- 
ment of the rules and regulations against the use of the 
streets of the city for building and business purposes, be- 
came each day more and more apparent. Realizing the 
necessity of such an organization, a citizens' proclamation 
was issued for an election to be held in the City Hall on 
the 11th of September, 1876. Caucuses were held in 
due form and several different tickets appeared in the 
field, the principal contest, however, being for Mayor and 
City Marshal. I am not informed as to whether the cam- 
paign was conducted along political party lines or not; at 
any rate the election was held as per proclamation. The 
result was as follows : — 

For organization, 1,082 votes; against organization, 57 
votes. E. B. Farnum was elected Mayor and ex-officio 
Justice of the Peace, receiving 637 out of the total vote of 
1,139. Keller Kurtz, Sol. Star, A. P. Carter, and H. C. 
Philbrook were elected members of the City Council. 
Con Stapleton was chosen City Marshal and John A. Swift, 
Clerk and Treasurer. 

To secure revenue for the support of the new municipal- 
it}', an ordinance was adopted imposing a license for the 
conduct of each business and the practice of each profes- 
sion in the city, which license was, it is believed, as a rule 
promptly paid. 


The following were the number of business houses in 
Deadwood, taken by order of the City Council, about the 
last of September, 1876 : — 

Assayers, 1; auctioneers, 4; amusements, 2; bath- 
houses, 1; butchers, 3; blacksmiths, 2; bankers, 1; brew- 
eries, 2; billiard tables, 4; barbershops, 3; bakeries, 6; 
clothing houses, 11; dentists, 1; doctors, 5; druggists, 
4; dry goods, 1; dance houses, 2; fruit dealers, 3; gam- 
ing tables, 14 ; grocer-merchants, 21 ; hardware, 2; hotels, 
5; jewelers, 3; job-wagons, 4; laundries, 8; lawyers, 7; 
livery stables, 3 ; miliners, 1 ; newspapers, 1 ; painters, 
3; photographers, 1; queensware, 3; restaurants, 6; 
saloons, 27; sawmills, 2; shoemakers, 3; tailors, 3. 

Monday, September 25th, 1876, should be chronicled 
as a real red-letter day in the annals of Deadwood, being 
made memorable by two very important events ; one, the 
arrival of the first through coach of the Cheyenne and 
Black Hills stage line, bringing the first lady passenger to 
Deadwood, in the person of Mrs. R. B. Fay. Among 
the other passengers on that first trip was Capt. C. V. 
Gardner, to whom Supt. Voorhees intrusted the grave re- 
sponsibility of conducting the stage with its load of pas- 
sengers safely through the hostile lines into the Hills; 
Mr. David Dickey, an old-time plainsman who had served 
his apprenticeship on the overland route to California, held 
the ribbons from Fort Laramie to Deadwood. The run- 
ning time from Cheyenne to Deadwood was six and one- 
half days. 

On that same day the first quartz mill brought to the 
Black Hills passed through Deadwood, en route to Gay- 
ville, when a large portion of Deadwood's citizens were 
drawn out on the street to behold its advent. 


Perhaps the event of most importance to the people 
of the Black Hills thus far, was the completion of the 
Black Hills Telegraph Line to Deadwood, on December 


1st, 1876. By virtue of the indomitable pluck and the 
unwavering perseverance of the projector of the enterprise, 
in the face^of multiplied difficulties and dangers, and after 
months of waiting on the part of the expectant people 
of the Hills, Deadwood, the terminal point of the line, was 
ou that day placed in direct telegraphic communication 
with the outside world. The enterprise which promised so 
much for the success and prosperity of the business in- 
terests of the Black Hills had at length reached its frui- 
tion, and the citizens of Deadwood were correspondingly 
jubilant, hailing the event with manifestations of exceeding 


As soon as the instrument was put in talking condition 
there followed an interchange of greetings between 
Cheyenne and the terminal point of the line. Under the 
skiliful manipulation of James Halley, the operator in 
Deadwood, the electric current was tiashed over the wire to 
Cheyenne, announcing to the Mayor of that city the com- 
pletion of the line, and that congratulations were in order, 
to which came back in response the following: — 

*« Cheyenne, December Ist, 1876. 
" To E. B. Farnum, Mayor of Deadwood: 

" Your telegram received. Accept thecongratulations of 
the citizens of Cheyenne, for your people, and our enter- 
prising citizen — formerly — but now your Hibbard . We 
have reached you by telegraph line, and we have further 
completed a contract to shorten the road between Cheyenne 
and Deadwood, sixty or seventy miles, which will be com- 
pleted in a short time. We hope our efforts will be recog- 
nized and appreciated by your people. 

" C. R. Bresnaham, 
" Mayor of Cheyenne." 

In the evening a large crowd of the citizens of Deadwood, 

and miners from surrounding camps, gathered in front of 

the telegraph office, ou the north side of upper Main street, 

'^ to celebrate the event in a manner commensurate with its 


importance. An immense pile of combustible material — 
consisting of pine knots, brush, etc., was kindled, which 
brightly illuminated its picturesque environments, throwing 
its lurid glare far up the rocky hillsides flanking the narrow 
gnlch — presenting a scene which is vividly remembered. 

In the exuberance of their joy, and as expressions of 
their gratitude that they were at last placed in instantaneous 
communication with home and friends, and the great cen- 
ters of trade in the East, with anvil and plenty of gun- 
powder, numerous salutes were tired that would have dis- 
counted the most approved artillery. With the booming 
of anvil artillery, intermingled with the cheering of the 
crowd, the celebration went gaily on until a late hour, 
culminating in a ball at the Grand Central Hotel. 

At the closino; function the creme-de-la-creme of Dead- 
wood society was present. The dining-room of the Grand 
Central, illuminated by numerous coal oil lamps, brightened 
by the gorgeous (?) toilet of the ladies and the somewhat 
incongruous " make-up" of the men, presented a fetching 
scene, but the men couldn't help it, you know, if some of 
them had to appear in business suits, with white gloves and 
white neckties, as in those days people were forced to 
adapt themselves to circumstances, and wear whatever they 
happened to have on hand. Among the gentlemen who 
honored the occasion by their presence were the following: 
Captain Hibbard, the hero of the celebration; Mayor 
Farnum ; Messrs. McPherson, Kehoe, Allen, Adams, Fay; 
Wagner, mine host of the Grand Central; Merrick, of the 
Black Hills Pioneer; Judges Whitehead, Keithly, and 
McCutcheon ; Capt. C. V. Gardner, Doctors Babcock and 
Myers; Messrs. Berry and Thompson. 

It may be proper to note that but few of the wives of 
the above named gentlemen had yet made their advent in 
the Hills, which fact in no perceptible way detracted from 
the enjoyment of the occasion. 

The construction of the Black Hills telegraph line was 
commenced in June, 1876, bv William H. Hibbard, for 


First telegrapher iu the Black Hills; sent the first electric current 

over the wires from Deadwoocl to Cheyenue, Wyoming^ 

on December 1st, 1876. 


many years superintendent of construction for the Western 
Union Telegraph Co., but owing to the hostile attitude of 
the Indians, he was compelled to maintain a large paid 
armed force to protect the workmen along the line, which, 
with other untoward circumstances, so nearly exhausted his 
resources that he was forced either to abandon the project 
or ask for financial aid from those who would be benefited 
by the enterprise. 

Mr. Hibbard choosing the latter course, came to Dead- 
wood in July and laid the matter before the business men 
of that city with proposals for a loan, the nature of which 
the heading of a subscription then opened, will fully 
explain : — 

" We, the undersigned, do hereby agree to purchase from 
W. H. Hibbard, telegraph scrip to the amount set opposite 
our names, said scrip being guaranteed by said Hibbard to 
be redeemed in telegraphing at regular rates for the face 
value thereof over a line to be constructed between Fort 
Laramie, Wyoming, and Deadwood City, Dakota, and 
which scrip we agree to receive and pay for at face value 
in cash as follows, to wit, one-half the amount subscribed 
whenever said telegraph line shall have been completed to 
Custer City, Dakota Territory, and the remaining one-half 
whenever said line is completed to Deadwood City, Dakota 

The business men of Deadwood, appreciating the advan- 
tages of rapid communication with the outside business 
world, subscribed to the amount of $5,000.00 approxi- 
mately. Custer also subscribed liberally to the loan, 
secured and guaranteed in the same manner, one-half to be 
paid when the line reached Red Canyon, the remaining half 
when it reached Custer City. Aid was also secured in 
Cheyenne. Thus financially fortified, the construction of 
the line was pushed rapidly forward, reaching Custer City 
during the latter part of October, and Deadwood on the 
first of December, every dollar of the scrip being after 
wards redeemed as per contract. 



The urgent petition presented to Congress in July, 1876, 
for the formation of a separate and distinct Territory, com- 
prising the mineral region of the Black Hills, supplemented 
by the continuous earnest efforts of the people to that end, 
resulted in the formulation of a bill, in furtherance of the 
project. The bill came before the Senate for considera- 
tion in February, 1877, and reads as follows: — 

" A^Bill to establish the Territory of the Black Hills, and 
to provide for a temporary government thereof: 
*' Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of 
Representatives of the United States of America in Congress 
assembled, that all that portion of the territory of the United 
States, described as follows: Commencing at a point 
where the forty-third parallel of north latitude intersects 
with the twenty-fifth meridian of longitude west from the 
city of Washington, thence following a due westerly 
course along said forty-third parallel to its intersection 
with the thirtieth meridian west from the city of Washing- 
ton; thence north along said thirtieth meridian of longi- 
tude to its intersection of the Yellowstone river to the 
center of said channel ; thence following the center of said 
channel to its intersection with the forty-seventh parallel 
to the western boundary line of Dakota Territory; thence 
due south along said boundary line to the forty-sixth 
parallel of north latitude ; thence due east along 
said forty-sixth parallel to the twenty-fifth meridian 
of longitude west from the city of Washington ; 
thence south along said twenty-fifth meridian to the place 
of beginning. Be, and the same is hereby organized into 
a temporary government — by the name of Lincoln Terri- 

" Sec. 2. That the said Territory of Lincoln, and the sev- 
eral officers thereof, shall be invested with all the right, 
powers and privileges, and be subject to all regulations. 


restrictions and provisions contained in Cliaptei- 1 of Title 
23 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, except as 

herein otherwise provided. ,. ■. , „f .„;,! 

.< Sec 3 That the legislative power and authority of said 
Territory shall be vested in the Governor and Legislative 
Assembly. The Legislative Assembly shall consist of a 
Council and House of Kepresentatives ; the Council haU 
consist of nine members, which may be increased to thu- 
teen members having the qualifications of voters m sa.d 

'^"'ser4 The House of Representatives shall consist of 
thirteen members, which may be increased to twenty-seven 
members, possessing the same qualifications as are herein 
prescribed for the members of the Council; provided, 
ha "he of voting and holding oifice in said Territory 
shall be exercised only by inhabitants thereof who are 
oitizens of the United States. 

..Sec 5 That a delegate to the House of Representatives 
of the United States to serve during such Congress of the 
United States be elected by the voters of said Territory, qual- 
ified to elect members of the Legislative Assembly, who 
shall be entitled to all and the same rights and privileges as 
are exercised and enjoyed by the delegates from the several 
other Territories in said House of Representatives pro- 
vided that no person shall be a delegate who shall not 
have attained the age of twenty-five years, and have the 
other qualifications of a voter in said Territory. 

..Sec 6 That when the land in said Territory shall be 
surveyed under the direction of the government ot the 
United States preparatory to bringing the same into the 
market, sections sixteen and thirty-six in each townsh p 
in said Territory shall be, and the same is, hereby reserved 
for the purpose of being applied to schools in the State oi 
States, hereafter to be erected out of the same. 

'.Sec 7. That the President of the United States, by and 

with the consent of the Senate, shall be and is hereby 
authorized to appoint a Surveyor-General for the said Tern- 



tory, who shall locate his oiBce at such place as the Secretary 
of the Interior shall from time to time direct, and whose 
duties, powers, obligations, responsibilities, compensations,, 
and allowances for clerk hire, office rent, fuel, and inci- 
dental expenses, shall be the same as those of the Territory 
of Dakota under the direction of the Secretary of the 
Interior, and under instructions as he may deem advisable 
from time to time to grive." 

Despite the efforts put forth both at Washington and at 
home in its behalf the bill failed. When the question of 
the division of the Territory and its admission into the 
sisterhood of States as two States came before the people 
in 1886-9, the question of a separate State for the Black 
Hills was again agitated by the people of the Hills to no 


First Judge of the First Territorial District Court in tlie Black Hills. 




With the ratification of the Sioux Treaty of 1876 by 
Congress, and its approval by the President on February 
28tb 1877, we enter upon a new and important epoch in 
Black Hills history. By the extinguishment of the Sioux 
title thereto, the stigma of outlawry was removed from the 
people and thev became invested with all the rights, priv- 
ileges and powers of American citizens, and inasmuch as 
up°to that time they had been, in a great degree, isolated 
from the rest of the world and entirely outside the pale 
of the law, they were, as may be imagined, a correspond- 
inaly gratified people. The coveted territory was at 
las", secured to them for a habitation all their own, where 
each from the shelter of his own vine and fig tree could 
vvatch, unmolested, the coming dawn of a better civd- 

ization. , , . t • -i 

It took not long to set all the complex machinery ot civil 
government in operation, nor for the people to become 
adjusted to the new order of things. 

Under an Act of the Territorial Legislature, the bov- 
ernor appointed three commissioners to organize a county 
government for each of the three counties into which the 
Black Hills was originally divided; regular United States 
courts were established by the government, as also United 
States postal service, at all important points in the Black 
Hills In April, 1877, Judge Granville G. Bennett, under 
appointment by the President, arrived in Deadwood to 
establish and assume jurisdiction of the courts of the Black 
Hills, which then formed a part of the First Judical 
District of Dakota Territory. 


Under the new conditions a radical and salutary change 
in the material and social economy of the Hills soon 
became apparent. Capital seeking profitable investment 
in the many rich quartz mines then in process of develop- 
ment, began to make its way into the country; enterpris- 
ing business men, fortified with ample means, ventured 
into the Hills with their families, and identified themselves 
with their commercial interests ; others, who had braved 
the perils of a journey over the plains at an earlier date, 
but who had prudently left their families behind until the 
danger was past, or perhaps to see whether a prize or a 
blank awaited them, in the then uncertain future of the 
new El Dorado, sent for their household goods, and 
founded permanent homes in the towns, or on the fertile 
valleys and plains. 



Appended is a list of the judges who have presided over 
the District and Circuit Courts of the Black Hills since the 
first establishment of our regular courts i i the spring of 
1877 to the present time : — 

Judore Granville C. Bennett came to the Black Hills 
under appointment by President Hayes, to establish law 
and order, in April, 1877. He established courts and 
assumed jurisdiction on the bench of the First Circuit of 
the Territorial District Court, which he occupied until 
September, 1878, when he resigned. Judge G. C. Moody 
was appointed by President Hayes to fill the vacancy, and 
presided from 1878 to October, 1882. Judge Wm. E. 
Church, of Morristown, New Jersey, under appointment by 
the Garfield administration, occupied the bench from 1882 
to 1886, when Judge Chas. M. Thomas of Bowling Green, 
Ky., under appointment by President Cleveland, suc- 
ceeded to the bench which he occupied until the termination 
of the Territorial courts at the close of 1889. 


First United States Senator from the Black Hills, South Dakota. 


In 1889, when the southern portion of Dakota Territory 
was admitted to Statehood, the territory comprising the 
Bhick Hills was constituted the Seventh and Eighth Judi- 
cial Districts of the State Circuit Court, the Seventh con- 
sisting of the counties of Pennington, Custer, and Fall 
River ; the Eighth of Lawrence, Butte, and Meade Counties. 

At the first election under the State laws in the fall of 
1889, Judge John W. Nowlin, of Rapid City, was elected 
to the bench of the Seventh Judicial District, which he 
occupied until November, 1892, when, owing to failing 
health, he resigned, and Judge Wm. Gardner, of Rapid 
City, was appointed to fill the vacancy for the remainder 
of the term. In the fall of 1893, Judge Gardner was 
elected to succeed himself, occupying the bench until Janu- 
ary, 1898, when he was succeeded by the present incum- 
bent. Judge Levi McGee. 

In the fall of 1889 Judge Chas. M. Thomas was elected 
to the bench of the Eighth Judicial District, which he 
occupied until January, 1894, when he was succeeded by 
Judge A. J. Plowman, of Deadwood, who presided until 
January, 1898, when Judge Joseph A. Moore donned the 


Although, with the cession of the Black Hills in 1877, 
Indian hostilities were reduced to a minimum, and little 
danger was apprehended from that source, the lines of 
public travel were still menaced by danger of quite another 
sort. Instead of being swooped down upon by bands. of 
yelling, whooping savages, passengers were liable at any 
time and point on the route, to be confronted by the 
apparition of several masked figures, silently emerging 
from some shadowy recess near the road, and to find 
themselves suddenly looking into the persuasive muzzles of 
several six-shooters, at short range, or shot-guns at longer 
range, and greeted, in sepulchral tones, with the per- 
emptory mandate of " Hold up your hands/' — which dis- 


courteous mandate was usually obeyed with the utmost 
alacrity. While in this helpless attitude of solemn invoca- 
tion, they were systematically searched, and relieved of all 
their superfluous belongings, such as money, watches, 
jewehy, or other valuables found upon their persons. 
Occasionally, however, a passenger, with more courage 
than discretion, would reach for his hip pocket, whip out 
his revolver like a flash, and fire on the masked robbers at 
first sight, thus precipitating a fight. 

Those early knights of the road did their work with a 
thoroughness worthy of a better cause; indeed they had 
the profession reduced to a fine art. As some now in the 
Black Hills who have been put through the course will 
remember, their modus operandi was as follows: First, 
after being compelled to dismount and stand in a row, pas- 
senger's pockets were emptied of their contents, then the 
internal economy of the men's hats and women's bonnets 
and coiffures were carefully examined — they were no 
respectors of persons, those Sir Knights, — then hands 
were deftly and caressingly passed over their clothing in 
quest of any bulges or })umps not accounted for b}^ the aver- 
age human anatomy, and lastly men's boots and women's 
shoes were pulled off to secure the possible wad of green- 
backs, or some cherished article of jewelry hidden in the 
toes thereof. 

While 1877 began an epoch of material prosperity for 
the Black Hills, it also began what may appropriately be 
designated the era of "hold-ups," horse-stealing and 
*' cattle-rustling." In the early years, before the advent of 
railroads, when passengers were transported and the gold- 
dust and bullion product of the Hills was shipped by stage 
over the plains, the country surrounding the Black Hills 
was infested by as desperate and conscienceless bands of 
robbers as ever inflicted their unwelcome presence on anew 
mining camp. As a consequence " hold-ups " and stage 
robberies were \evy common occurrences — in fact they 
were the rule and not the exception. 


Perhaps the first attempt at stage robbery within the 
limits of the Hills was made near Deadwood, on the night 
of March 25th, 1877, resulting in the killing of Johnny 
Slaughter, driver of the Sidney and Black Hills stage 
coach. The stage, it appears, left Custer City on that day 
with eleven passengers, — ten men and one woman, viz. : 
Harry Lake, Walter Her, A. G. Smith, B. P. Smith, 
Chas. Burns, Angus McMasters, Charlie Ostram, Mattie 
Ostram, and three other names unknown, and $15,000 in 
cash, in charge of Harry Lake, for Stebbins, Wood & 
Co.'s bank, now the First National Bank of Deadwood. 
When five miles north of Hill City the stage became dis- 
abled, causing considerable delay, as it had to travel 

When, at eleven o'clock that night, the lumbering, crip- 
pled coach, with its load of tired passengers, reached the 
mouth of Gold Run, about where the Pluma Mill now 
stands, five men were noticed marching alonor the middle of 
the road ahead, one a little in advance of the others, who, 
when the stage approached them, separated two on each 
-;ide, apparently to let it pass. Just as the stage got 
abreast of them, one of the men on the left suddenly 
thrust his gun into the stage and fired. Harry Lake 
quickly grasped the gun with both hands, and held on to 
it with such desperate tenacity that the robber, in trying to 
wrest it from his grasp, pulled him out of the stage on the 

Meanwhile the advance agent had leveled his shot-gun and 
tired at the driver, who fell dead from the box on the right, 
the charge grazing the elbow of Her who was in the act of 
reaching around to his right side pocket for his revolver. 
Her and Burns, who rode on the box, supposing the driver 
had jumped otf the box to avoid the shot, also at almost 
the same moment jumped and made for a place of shelter 
and long range. The horses, becoming frightened at the 
shooting, immediately started on a wild run towards Dead- 
wood with the stage and its five terrified, white-faced pas- 


sengers, followed by a volley from the guns of the robbers ^ 
who then made good their escape without any booty. It 
all occurred in a much less time than it takes to tell the 
stor3^ In their mad flight the wheel horses got tangled up 
in the lines in such a way as to turn the lead team entirely 
around, so that after running a distance of about a half 
mile, they came to a dead halt. Soon after, Lake, Her, 
and Burns put in an appearance, but the unfortunate driver 
came not. 

The passengers, after straightening up the tangled out- 
fit, proceeded to Deadwood, where they arrived at about 
midnight. The story soon spread over the city, creating 
intense excitement and indignation that such a bold attempt 
at highway robbery should be made almost within the 
shadow of its buildings. A party, composed of A. G. 
Smith, John Manning, and West Travis, followed by 
others, hastened to the scene of the encounter in search of 
Slanghter, whose dead body was soon found where it fell 
from the box. Upon examination it was found that thir- 
teen buckshot had entered directly over the heart, twelve 
of them forming a perfect circle. This affair of the road, 
which occurred just before the establishment of law in the 
Black Hills, was the only " hold-up " ever attempted 
within the limits of Lawrence County. Seth Bullock, who 
about this time received his appointment as Sheriff of Law- 
rence County, took prompt measures to hunt down the 
perpetrators of the crime, but, it is believed, without 

Again, in July, 1877, the Sidney coach was stopped 
about four miles south of Battle creek and robbed of the 
treasure box, and the passengers relieved of their money, 
watches, jewelry, and baggage. The gold shipments were 
first sent out in an iron or steel treasure box, under guard 
of armed men. 

The officers of the newly-established law in the Hills 
were ever on the alert for the outlaws, keeping close *' tab " 
on all persons hanging about the town without visible 


means of support, or suspicious characters lurking in the 
shadows of public resorts, and their keen untiring vigilance 
and evident determination to hunt down and drive out the 
desperate gang from the country made it the part of wis- 
dom and prudence for them to change their base of opera- 
tions from the Hills to a less torrid clime, where they 
felt they would be safe from the terrible sleuth-hounds of 
Black Hills law. 

They finally made their stamping ground at Hat creek — 
a point on the stage route, remote from the settlements of 
the Hills, where they thought they could ply their avoca- 
tion of stage robbery with impunity. From this point they 
continued to hold up and rob stage coaches with great 
regularity ; in fact robberies became so frequent that the 
driver always expected to be held up when they had treas- 
ure aboard, and at certain points on the route looked for a 
man or men with shot-guns to step out from behind a pro- 
jecting rock and order him to " halt " and throw out the 
treasure box. 


Despite their seemingly utter lack of sentiment or moral 
scruples, those early bandits were not always proof against 
flattery, as the following episode will illustrate. The story 
runs thus: A lady, the wife of a well-known Deadwood 
citizen, was, upon a time, a passenger on one of the stage 
coaches that was held up on the Sidney route. The lady 
had a watch on her person that she highly valued, and 
while the robbers were engaged in securing the property 
of the other passengers she slyly concealed it among the 
coils of her back h;ur. One of the robbers soon ap- 
proached her and demanded her money and valuables, 
which she readily yielded up, with the exception of the 
watch. The robber either accidentally or otherwise es- 
pied the watch, reached out and took it, and was coolly 
transferring it to his pocket, when the lady in imploring 
accents cried: "Please, Mr. Eobber ! good Mr. Robber I 


dear Mr. Robber! don't take my watcli." The robber, 
unable to withstand the stirring appeal, and, perhaps, 
struck by the humor of the situation, with a hearty laugh 
handed the watch back to its owner. Such generosity, 
however, was but rarely displayed. 

Another lady, a sister-in-law of W. H. Harlow, now a 
resident of Spearfish, when leaving the Hills in 1878, took 
the precaution before starting of concealing the contents 
of her purse, amounting to $100 or such a matter, among 
the intricate meshes of her back hair, hoping to smuggle it 
through without discovery, but, alas ! at a point on the 
road known as " Eagle's Nest," the stage was held up and 
the passengers robbed of all their valuables, and the roll 
of greenbacks so carefull}^ concealed iu the young lady's 
hair did not escape detection. 


As a last desperate expedient to defeat the purposes 
of the outlaws. Superintendent Voorhees, of the Sidney 
and Black Hills Stage and Express Line, had built the 
historic Deadwood treasure coach, designed expressly for 
the transportation of Black Hills gold. This famous 
coach, a familiar object to all old-timers, was a strongly 
constructed and formidable affair, lined with heavy steel or 
iron plate, intended to defy the bullets of the desperate 
bandits. Passengers entering or returning from the Hills 
by the ordinary passenger coaches frequently shipped their 
valuables on the treasure coach for greater security, it 
being regarded as nearly invulnerable. 

When completed it was put on the road under the escort 
of five picked men, unerring pistol shots, with Scott 
Davis as Chief Messeno-er — all armed with shot-gruns and 
six-shooters, to guard the treasure on its dangerous way 
over the line. Brave, intrepid, and nervy men were those 
messengers who guarded the gold dust and the bullion out 
of the Black Hills during those early days, and the story 


of their daring adventures on their perilous trips is by no 
means the least interesting portion of Black Hills history. 

Several trips were made by the new coach without 
encountering any danger, but a time came later when the 
true metal of the iron-protected vault on wheels, as well 
as the nerve of the messengers in charge of the treasure, 
were put to a crucial test. That occasion was the 
memorable Cold Springs robbery of 1878. 

One day, during that year, the treasure coach with three 
messengers and a telegraph operator named Campbell 
aboard, and Big Gene, the driver, on the l)ox, drove up as 
usual to the stage station at Cold Springs without dream- 
ing that danger lurked about the place. Everything about 
the premises bore its wonted aspect of security. The 
stages had never been attacked at the stations. The horses 
were halted at the door of the station, the driver threw 
the lines he had held over the six horses to the ground, 
and was preparing to dismount from the box, when, 
suddenly, as a thunder-clap from a clear sky, a loud report 
of fire-arms rang out, and a deadly hail of bullets came 
hurtlino; asainst the side and throuo;h the coach, killino- 
Campbell and dangerously wounding Gale Hill, one 
of the messengers ; Scott Davis, Chief Messenger, also 
slightly wounded, taking in the situation at one glance, 
jumped to the ground on the opposite side from 
where their assailants stood, and made for the heavy 
timber near by, under cover of which he opened a brisk 
fusillade on the five desperadoes. So fast and furious 
came the hail of shot from the timber into the ranks of 
the robbers, that two of them, impelled by the instinct 
of self-preservation, finally made a sort of breastwork 
or Big Gene, whom they had captured and disarmed. 
Placing the poor fellow in front of them, as a protection, 
they compelled him to walk towards the spot where Davis 
was concealed, and when within communicating distance, 
they warned him to stop firing or take the alternative of 
seeing: " Bis: Gene " killed then and there. Realizing that 


the drivel's life was at stake, he ceased firing and, though 
wounded, started at once for the nearest stage station for 

After Davis had ceased firing, the robbers compelled the 
driver to seize a pick and break open the treasure box, 
when, after taking possession of its contents, $45,000 in 
gold bullion, they pinioned " Big Gene " to a wheel of the 
coach, mounted their horses and rode away, leaving their 
wounded comrade where he had fallen. During all these 
proceedings the third messenger was lying stretched at full 
length on the bottom of the coach, apparently dead. He 
was not dead, however, nor even wounded, but merely act- 
ing his part in the tragic drama, and so well did he perform 
his diflScult role, that not even a suspicion of the truth 
dawned upon the minds of the outlaws. By feigning death 
he had saved his own life, and also gained some informa- 
tion that afterwards proved valuable when the search for 
the robbers began. The other two messengers were at the 
station below, where they intended joining the force upon 
the arrival of the coach. 

The names of the five bandits were Blackburn, Wall, 
Brookes, " Red Head Mike," and Price, who, it was ascer- 
tained, had taken possession of the station and concealed 
themselves before the arrival of the coach, the stocktenders 
having been securely bound and gagged, to prevent them 
giving the alarm. It was several months before the 
wounded outlaw recovered, from whom a clue was obtained 
as to the identity of the other members of the gang. 

The officers of the law immediately got upon the trails of 
the robbers and followed them up until they were nearly all 
captured and most — perhaps all — of the stolen treasure 
recovered. The vigorous measures taken to hunt down the 
gang that infested the country had a salutary effect, as no 
other attempt was made to hold up the treasure shipments 
on that route. 

It is now recalled that a few, at least, of that desperate 
israns: of outlaws who infested the Black Hills region during 


the late '70s were brought to justice in Dead wood in the 
summer of 1877, I think it was, and it was this way: — 

As I was walking leisurely down Sherman street one Sun- 
day in July of that year, when in the vicinity of the old log 
jail my attention was attracted to a wild commotion in the 
street below, and a horseman was seen speeding avvay over 
the hills to the right followed by a volley of bullets, the rider 
turning in his saddle occasionally to tire back at his pursu- 
ers. Skipping nimbly away out of the possible range of 
some stray bullet, I saw no more, but upon inquiry later 
the following facts relative to the exciting episode were 
eliminated : — 

D. B. May, a ranchman from Lance creek., on the Chey- 
enne river, thought he recognized among the motley crowd 
gathered in front of the post-office, one of a gang that 
" held up " the Black Hills stage coach about four weeks 
before, robbing him of $70 in money. Upon communicat- 
ing his suspicion to others, a man named Goldman 
approached the suspected individual and slapped him upon 
the shoulder, whereupon he quickly pulled his revolver and 
fired, the ball grazing the arm of Mr. May, who promptly 
returned the fire. The stranger then quickly mounted his 
horse, which was hitched near by, and made for the hills, 
emptying the chambers of his revolver at the pursuing 
crowd as he rode. He had not gone far when a well- 
directed shot by Deputy Sheriff Cochrane brought both 
horse and rider to the ground. After clearing himself 
from his fallen horse he tried to make his escape on foot, 
but was defeated in this purpose by Sheriff Bullock, who, 
arriving opportunely on the scene in company with Dep- 
uty Captain Willard, soon arrested the fugitive and had 
him conveyed to jail, while he (Bullock) and Deputy Wil- 
lard started in pursuit of two other men, who appeared to 
be trying to make their escape and were being pursued by 
Mr. Gilman. These were also arrested and placed in j.iil. 
The prisoners gave their names as Prescott Webb, G. W. 
Webb, andC. P. Wisdom. 


Since the advent of railroads in the Bhiek Hills ship- 
ments of bullion from the large mines are made only semi- 
monthly, and the exceeding precaution taken in making 
such shipments, has reduced the danger of bullion robbery 
to a minimum. The gold is molded into bricks, varying 
in size, but usually about ten inches in length, six inches 
wide, and five inches in thickness, at the offices of the 
companies. It is customary, I am informed, for the 
messenger to receive the bullion at the offices of the 
companies, where it is receipted for, and then taken under 
guard to the office of the express company over whose line 
it is to be shipped, where it is securely wrapped and sealed, 
then placed in the treasure box and conveyed under guard 
to the railroad station and placed in the express car. The 
messenger, armed with loaded shot-oun and six-shooter, 
accompanies the treasure until it reaches a point of safety. 
During the early shipments by railroads, messengers have 
been known to guard the bullion as far as Omaha on its 
way East. Now, however, the heavy bullion [)roduct of 
the northern Hills is accompanied by the messenger only 
as far as Rapid City. 

Richard Bullock, reputed to be one of the nerviest mes- 
sengers who ever guarded the orold bullion out of the Black 
Hills, has been employed for many years to guard the 
semi-monthly shipments of the bullion product of the great 
Homestake aggrieoration of mines, without ever having lost, 

COO ^ 

it is alleged, a single ounce of the millions of treasure 
intrusted to his care. During the time that Whitewood 
was the terminus of the first railroad to the Hills, the F. 
E. & M. V. Bullock guarded the bullion over the stage route 
between Deadwood and Whitewood, through a mountainous 
country that was peculiarly inviting to road agents, with- 
out ever having encountered a single knisht of the road. 




Custer County originally occupied all that portion of the 
Black Hills of Dakota, lying betsveen 43^ and 43' 50' north 
latitude, and betAveeii the 103 and 104 meridian of longi- 
tude west of Greenwich ; besides a small triangular frac- 
tion on the northeast, bordering the south fork of the Big 
Cheyenne river, altogether covering an area of a little 
more than 3,000 square miles, or one-half of the entire 
ceded territory. 

The county, as first defined, may be divided into two 
nearly equal portions; the one comprehending the moun- 
tainous and mineral-bearing region, in which is included 
the greater part of the Harney granite uplift; the other the 
grazing and agricultural lands outside of the foot-hills, in 
which is included the fertile valleys of the numerous streams 
draining that area and a considerable extent of prairie land 
on both sides of the Cheyenne river. The northern or 
mountainous portion is covered by an abundant growth of 
pine timber of excellent quality, and interspersed with 
many charming parks, — half wood and half glade; the 
middle and southern portion consisting, for the most part, 
of high prairie table-lands, becoming mountainous toward 
the south. The whole area is drained by Spring, Battle, 
French, Beaver, and Fall River creeks. 

At the first session of the newly appointed Board of 
County Commissioners, held in the parlors of the Occi- 
dental Hotel at Custer, beginning on the 27th of April, 
1877, the county was organized and named Custer, in honor 
of Gen. Geo. A. Custer, who commanded the first military 
expedition to the Black Hills in the summer of 1874. 

The meetinss at Custer were held on the 27th of April, 


the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th of May, 1877, 
during which the county was temporarily located at Hay- 
ward, by a majority vote of the Board, and, by the way, 
there is a bit of rather amusinir history connected with the 
location of the capital of Custer County, which furnishes an 
example of a little exceedingly sharp practice on the part 
of one of the commissioners, and the story runs thus : — 

The appointees for Commissioners of Custer County 
were M. D. Thompson of Yankton, Chas. Hay ward of 
Hayward, and E. G. Ward of Custer City, the two latter 
places being rivals for county seat honors. 

Custer, not having yet fully recovered from the effects 
of its suddenly arrested growth in the spring of 1876, had 
at the time but a meager population, while on the other 
hand, Hayward had developed into a booming, hustling 
mining camp, of perhaps 300 people. 

At the initial session of the Board, M. D. Thompson, the 
Yankton member, was chosen permanent chairman of the 
meetings, and when the work of organization, the appoint- 
ment of subordinate county officers and other preliminary 
proceedings looking to the establishment of county govern- 
ment, was concluded, Mr. Haj'ward made a motion to locate 
the county seat at Hayward, which Ward naturally re- 
fused to second, thus blocking procedure in that direction, 
when, after a short discussion, the Board adjourned to meet 
on the followinoj mornin^r. 

In the interim there was doubtless considerable influence 
brought to bear on the neutral member, who, after weigh- 
ing the matter, finally came to the conclusion that the cap- 
ital should be where it would accommodate the greatest 
number of the people of the county, so meeting Mr. Hay- 
ward he told him to renew his motion at the meeting to be 
held in the morning. This Hayward did, but, as before, 
Ward failed to second the motion. 

The chairman, who had his bit of strategy all figured 
out, after waiting a few minutes, pulled a cigar from his 
pocket, bit off the end, fumbled in his vest pockets for 


something which he ostensibly failed to find, then, vacating 
the chair, approached Mr. Ward and asked him for a 
match. While lighting his cigar, he requested Ward to 
occupy the chair, which he did, when he (Thompson) 
seconded Hayward's motion, which, of course, was carried 
by a majority of one, and thus Hayward was made the 
temporar}'^ county seat. The first meeting of the Board at 
Hayward was held on May 16th, 1877. 

In canvassing the returns of the election held in Novem- 
ber, 1877, to elect county officers and permanently locate 
the capital, there were found, it is claimed, many fraudu- 
lent votes. Custer, however, claimed the election, which 
Hayward refused to concede, and, as a sequence, the con- 
test waxed warm. Tradition says that, to summarily settle 
the matter, a party of men went to Hayward, took forcible 
possession of the county archives, and carried them ta 
Custer ; and further says, that the party was promptly 
arrested and compelled to return the county property to 
Hayward. Not until 1879 was the contest adjusted, and 
the capital permanently located at Custer City, the last 
meeting of the Commissioners at Hayward being held on 
October 7th, 1879, and the first at Custer three days later, 
on October 10th, 1879. 

The first county officers of Custer County were as fol- 
lows : — 

County Commissioners : M. D. Thompson, Chas. Hay- 
ward, and E. G. Ward. 

Probate Judge : J. W. C. White. 

Register of Deeds and ex officio County Clerk: Fred. J. 

Sheriff: D. N. Ely. 

Treasurer: Frank B. Smith. 

Constables: M. H. Brown, C. A. Scott. 

Justices of Peace: Theodore Vos. Brough, S. R. Shank- 
laud, C. L. Spooner. 

Surveyor: Robt. Harvey. 

Assessor: A. B. Hughes. 


On November 12tb, 1881, the boundary line between 
Caster and Pennington counties was definitely fixed, when 
Huyward was found to be within the lines of Pennington 
County, some two or three miles. 

Until 1881 courts were held in ordinary buildings. In 
that year a fine two-story brick structure was erected at a cost 
to the county of $12,000, for the payment of which county 
bonds were issued. Up to this time considerable expend- 
itures had been made by the county in improving roads 
and building bridges across the principal streams, showing 
a commendable spirit of public enterprise on the part of 
its 2,000 population. 

In 1882 the assessed valuation of Custer County was 
$363,329; the tax levy thirty mills, and the total in- 
debtedness $29,407.29, at which time county bonds were 
worth 97 cents on the dollar. In 1883 the county was sub- 
divided on the boundary line between townships Nos, 6 and 
7 south, and the southern subdivision organized into Fall 
River County, thus catting off a considerable portion of 
the grazing lands from the old county, but leaving for the 
most part the mineral bearing and the most heavily tim- 
bered areas to Caster County. This subdivision was made 
in obedience to the popular verdict of the portion to be 

The county has now (1898) an assessed valuation of 
$784,504.00 ; a total indebtedness of $174,188.86, and con- 
tained a population of 4,740 in 1896. 


From the easily exhausted placer deposits of French 
creek and tributary gulches, the attention of prospectors 
was, about 1879, first directed to the discovery and devel- 
meni of the other varied resources of that region of the 
Hills, which resulted in exposing numerous promising mines 
of gold, mica, tin, and other minerals, but owing to the 
absence of facilities for dealing with the product, much of 


the needed stimulus to a vigorous development of mining 
properties by their owners was lacking during the first 
years of Custer County miuing history. With the advent 
of the railroad in 1890, however, a new impetus was given 
to mining activity in that region. 

Among the early discoveries in gold-bearing quartz were 
the " Grand Junction," "Penobscot," " Salmon." " At- 
lantic," "Old Bill," "Old Charley," "Lightning," 
" Mayflower," and " North Pole." 

The Grand Junction was located in April, 1879, by Chas. 
Crary, F. A. Towner, James Friend, and Joseph Summers. 
This mine is situated about seven and one-half miles north- 
west of Custer City, near the boundary line of Custer and 
Pennington counties. In 1880 a company erected a twenty- 
stamp mill on the property. In 1881 a new company was 
organized called the Grand Junction Company, which car- 
ried on operations for nearly a year, when, in July, 1882, 
a company of St. Louis capitalists under the name of the 
Constant Mining Company, purchased the property and 
erected a forty-stamp mill. This mill was operated on the 
mine until the winter of 1885, when it closed down, since 
which time the batteries have been idle. 

The Grand Junction is a large vertical vein of quartz, 
full sixty feet in width, with hornblende on the east and a 
slate wall on the west side. The ore near the surface was 
partly free milling, but as depth was attained it was found 
to be in conformation with base metals, and therefore the 
gold could not be recovered by amalgamation — hence the 

Unfortunately for that region of the Hills, this failure 
to extract the gold from refractory ore by the free milling 
process did not serve as a salutary warning to future mine 
owners and operators, for, despite this object-lesson they 
continued to discover mines which yielded rich returns by 
chemical analysis, upon which they persisted in erecting 
stamp mills, until nine were erected in Custer County, 
upon the best mines in the district, — some of which still 


stand as mouuraents to the deplorable shoit-sighledness of 
the early mine operators. 

The Penobscot mine is situated about seven miles north- 
west from Custer, and was located by A. Wilcox, W. C, 
Gooch and Joel Mead in 1879. The owners did a small 
amount of work on the mine, and sold a half interest to 
Jas. Brodieof Lead City, who was formerly connected with 
the Old Abe, now the property of the Homestake Co. In 
1880 the firm erected a mill on the property and equipped 
it with antiquated machinery, which was first used in a 
mill in Colorado, away back in 1860. In 1877, having out- 
lived its usefulness, it was sold to Messrs. Potter & Powers, 
who transported it to the Black Hills, and put it in opera- 
tion on one of the early mines at Central. Provingaltogether 
unsatisfactory for milling purposes, the machinery was 
sold in 1880 to Gooch, Brodie & Co., who took it down to 
Custer County, and put it up at the Penobscot mine. The 
firm tried hard to pound a little gold out of the Penobscot 
ore with the condemned batteries, but becoming disgusted 
with the results they sold the property to Messrs. Fortune^ 
Wilson & Bull, in 1881, the latter selling his interest to 
Dr. Broughton of Broadhead, Wisconsin. This company 
ran the mill for a short time, when the worthless machinery 
was taken down and moved away. Is it any wonder that 
the ore refused to yield to such treatment? It will be 
recalled by those whose memories go back twenty-one 
years, that other obsolete machinery was brought up from 
Colorado to the Black Hills, and put in operation on some 
of the early mines around Central, jeopardizing the repu- 
tation of the mines, and leaving their owners on the verge 
of bankruptcy. The Penobscot is a large vein of quartz, 
which assays $10.00 in gold per ton. A large amount of 
excavation has been done near the surface, but no great 
depth has been attained. The property is now in the 
hands of Edwin Van Cise of Dead wood. 

The Salmon mine, situated about two miles north of 
Custer, was located by Messrs. Peterson and Woodward in 


1880. This mine attained early celebrity, for the extraor- 
dinary richness of the ore at the surface, and the many free 
gold specimens it produced. No mill was ever erected on 
the property, which is owned by the Gold Fish Mining Co., 
and is now in charge of Joseph Pilcher, of Caster. 

The Atlantic mine was located in 1879 by Henry Frank- 
lin. This mine, too, was justly famous for its free gold 
specimens, which were claimed to be the richest ever found 
in the Black Hills. The mine is now owned by John 
Wright, of Custer, and Jack McAIeer, of Dead wood. No 
mill has been erected on the property. 

The Old Bill mine, situated about four and one-half miles 
northerly from Custer, was located in May, 1879, by Rich- 
ard Holiday, Ralph Kenyon, and H. N. Ross, the latter 
having charge of the mine. The Old Bill is a large, tine 
vein of quartz, assaying twelve dollars in gold per ton. 
While there is no mill on the ground, the ore has been 
milled with good profit. The mine has a shaft sixty feet 

The Old Charlie mine was located in July, 1879, by Chas. 
Holmes and A. Sampson. This property, which consists of 
three claims, is situated about four miles west of Custer. 
There are numerous openings on the property, the main 
working shaft which is about one hundred and fifty feet 
deep, is a double compartment incline, five and a half by 
nine feet in ore from the surface downwards. A twenty- 
stamp mill, and steam hoist are erected on the property, 
and a great deal of ore has been milled, with excellent 
results ; the ore yielding from five dollars to twenty-one 
dollars in gold per ton. The property is owned by W. N. 
Olds and his associates, of New York, and is under the 
supervision of W. N. Olds, of Custer. When operated on 
the extensive scale contemplated by the management, the 
property will doubtless add largely to the gold production 
of the Hills. 

The Lightning mine is another of the famous mines of the 
early days. This mine, which was located in July, 1879, by 



Frank Weatherby and J. Juderine, is a fine vein of quartz — 
true fissure in character, and seven feet in width at the 
one hundred foot level. Since its first discovery the prop- 
erty has changed hands several times, but is now owned, 
for the most part, by Leopold Dole, of Omaha, and Henrj' 
Schenek, of Custer. The mine has changed its original 
name, and is now known as the North Star mine. The 
owners of the property — which is now being rapidly de- 
veloped — design the erection of complete reduction works 
in the early spring. The ore is reputed to be very rich. 

The May Flower mine, situated about four miles west from 
Custer City, on a small tributary of French creek, was first 
located in 1879, by James McShearer and John P. Forau, 
of Custer. This mine, which has been quite extensively 
developed, has a large vein of medium grade, and a three- 
foot vein of high-grade ore. In 1884 a ten-stamp mill was 
erected on the property, which, after making a short run, 
closed down, owing to the impossibility of saving the gold 
by amalgamation. The assay, by Telluride test, runs from 
$12.00 to $15.00 in gold per ton of ore. The present 
owners are J. P. Foran, John Durst, and Harry Paland. 
Among the most promising of the recent discoveries in 
Custer County are the " Spokane," " Lizzie," " Bonanza," 
" Granite Reef" and " Union Hill " mines. The Spokane 
mine, located by Sylvester Judd in 1891, is situated about 
sixteen miles east of Custer City and twelve miles from 
Hermosa, on the F. E. & M. V. Railway. This mine has 
a shaft 100 feet in depth, and a number of connecting 
drifts. The vein proper, which is about fourteen feet in 
width, is of medium-grade ore, except four feet of the 
center or core, which runs quite uniformly twenty ounces in 
silver and from 35 to 40 per cent in lead to the ton. The 
property now belongs to the Crown Hill Mining Co., which 
in addition to this property, is operating extensively in the 
northern Hills. 

The Lizzie mine, located in 1897 by Frank and Ford 
McLaughlin, of Custer, constitutes one of the claims 


which comprise a large group, now owned by an incor- 
porated stock company, the greater part of the stock being 
held by citizens of Le Mars, Iowa. The development con- 
sists of a ninety-five-foot tunnel, and 100-foot shaft, at 
the bottom of which the mine shows a vein of nine feet, 
incased in walls of quartzite. The ore runs from $6.00 
to $40.00 in gold, and two per cent copper to the ton. 
The company are preparing to ship the product to a 
smelter for treatment. 

The Bonanza mine, situated on Mineral Ridge, three and 
a half miles west of Custer, has four shafts, the deepest of 
which is sixty-five feet. This group of claims is owned by 
H. G. Butterfield & Bro. of Custer. 

The Granite Reef mine, situated two miles southeast 
from Custer, has a fifty-foot shaft, and a tunnel 300 feet 
in length. The ore of this mine carries two per cent of 
copper, and from $12.00 to $46.00 in- gold to the ton, the 
vein being nine feet in width. The property is owned by 
James Deraereau, C. W. Robbins, and A. T. Feay, of 
Custer City. 

The Union Hill mine, situated about three miles west 
from Custer, has a shaft forty-five feet in depth and a tun- 
nel 300 feet in length. The vein is eight feet in width, and 
assays well in gold. The property is owned by Henry A. 
Albion of Custer City. 

There are numerous other gold mines of bright promise 
in Custer County, which with the application of proper 
treatment, will, doubtless, yield handsome profits to their 
owners. The gold in these veins is readily obtained by the 
chlorination or cyanide process, but the ore is only to a 
limited extent adapted to the free milling methods. It 
only lacks an abundance of capital to transform that region 
into one of the most productive districts in the Black Hills. 


For several years after the beginning of the last decade, 
the Mica mining industry constituted an important factor 


in the business economy of Custer County, to which region 
of the Hills that mineral is principally confined. In fact 
it is only in the lofty granite mountains of the Harney 
range, surrounding Custer City, that mica in merchant- 
able form has been found. Strangely enough, although 
the whole granite region glittered brightly with mica, but 
little attention was given to it as a commercial commodity 
until about 1880, when the attention of miners was attracted 
to the mineral as a possible factor of industrial enterprise, 
by encountering large blocks, easily separable into sheets, 
in the development of goldmines. 

. The first workable mica mine, it is claimed, was located 
as a gold mine in 1879, by Geo. Clark, about three and one- 
half miles northwest of Custer, Since its first discovery 
the mine has doubtless changed hands a few times, and has 
been known under various appellations, but is now known 
as the McMaken mine. It was at one time owned by Messrs. 
Offenbacher & Haight, who took from the mine from 
$75,000.00 to $100,000.00 worth of fine merchantable mica. 
Perhaps the most remarkable as well as the most pro- 
ductive deposit of mica discovered is a mine known as the 
Lost Bonanza, situated about two miles north of Custer, 
on the abrupt slope of Buckhorn Mountain, and located 
by L. C. La Barre, in 1880. Soon after its location, sold 
to the New Mexico & Dakota Mica Mining Company, com- 
posed of Chicago capitalists, which from July, 1881, to 
March, 1882, took from the mine 24,000 pounds of splen- 
did mica. This may seem a small amount to produce in a 
period of eight months, but let it be remembered that a 
vast deal of heavy granite rock has to be removed to reach 
the mica, and when found only about seven per cent of the 
whole is merchantable. The market price of the product 
varied according to quality and demand, ranging from 
$2.00 to $12.00 per pound. It was hinted about that time, 
it is recalled, that this corporation so controlled and 
manipulated the mica market, as to render its production 
wholly unprofitable to small operators. 


A few of the mauy other mica locations are the " Cli- 
max," " Now York," " White Spar," " Window Light," 
"Eureka," "Grand View," "Old Mike," and "Last 
Find," all of which were more or less developed into 
very promising properties. The Eureka, six miles north- 
east of Custer, near Harney's Peak, attained especial 
celebrity for the Inrge sheets of mica it produced, some of 
which measured eight by ten square inches, without a Haw 
or defect. 

None of these mines are now being operated, and the 
reason assigned by those in a position to know is that the 
market is controlled by a trust in such a way as to bar out 
all mica that does not pass directly through its hands, thus 
rendering the production of the mineral unprofitable. 

The same is true of the mining of tin, which, according 
to the expressed opinion of tin experts, exists in paying 
quantities in the granite hills of Custer County, but which 
is at present impossible to get upon the market. It is 
confidently expected by mine owners that changed con- 
ditions and a growing demand will revive both of these 
industries at no distant day. 


Custer City, the primary metropolis of the Black 
Hills — much of whose early history has been hereinbe- 
fore recorded, — is finely situated, at an elevation of 5,5(50 
feet above the level of the sea, on the upper valley of 
French creek, near the center, east and west of what has 
been designated Custer's Park, than which no spot more 
alluring and grandly picturesque is to be found in the whole 
magnificent Black Hills domain. 

From the margin of the park, wherein lies the pioneer 
city, rise bold, lofty mountains, projecting their jagged, 
naked crests far above the stately pines that clothe their 
rugged slopes. On the north Buckhorn Peak, covered 
from base to summit with evergreen foliage, rises up 1,000 
feet above the level of the city, and sweeps around its 


southern spur to within two miles of its outer limits, 
describing in its curve that peculiar outline to which the 
name owes its origin. On the eastern margin about two 
miles away, Calamity Peak extends its bare castellated 
crest 1,200 feet above the level of the valley, and away ten 
miles to the northeast Harney's Peak towers in rocky 
grandeur above all. On the south, near the city, the hills 
rise to an elevation of perhaps 200 feet, then gradually fall 
away, disclosing a fascinating view of Prospect Park, while 
to the east and west widens out the beautiful valley of 
French creek. 

This valley was appropriately designated "Floral Valley" 
by Gen. Custer, when exploring the Hills in 1874, because 
of the wonderful variety and beauty of its flora. It is said 
that in the blossoming season, or during the months of 
June and July, as many as IGO varieties of wild flowers 
may be found in bloom. 

The region about Custer possesses an ideal climate full 
of health-giving and iiealth-preserving properties — a 
climate where epidemics are an almost unknown quantity. 
The pure, invigorating air circulating through the valley, 
laden with the grateful aroma of the pines, infuses new life 
with every expansion of the lungs, causing the weak to 
become strong, and under its balmy influence the wretched 
victim of insomnia is wooed to gentle, refreshing slumber. 
All one has to do is to comfortably adjust his tired anatomy 
and nature speedily does the rest. 

Snow rarely falls to a depth of more than six inches, nor 
remains more than a few days at a time in Custer's Park, 
which abounds in pure, cold, crystal springs — leaving noth- 
ing to be desired by the tourist in search of health or 


Resting peacefully in among the rugged cliffs of the 
Harney range, about six miles in a northerly direction from 
Custer, may be found the crowning attraction of that 






- Sylvan Lake," " a thing of beauty and a joy for. 
.u-tistic conception was formed in 1882 by the con 

struction of a massive stone dam, near the head of Sunday 
tX to bar the waters of the streams that tr.ckle down 
fhe mountain slopes into the basin, thus formmg an 
cial lake of about fixteen acres in extent. 


From Custer this popular resort is reached over a finely 
constructed driveway, that winds its sinuous way through a 
region of grandeur, beauty, and picturesqueness not sur- 
passed elsewhere in this " Switzerland of America," and 
after circling around a labyrinth of hills, near the limits of 
the lake, it brings its visitor suddenly in full view, at its 
upper side, of an exhibition of nature's and art's handi- 
work combined, that would not willingly be forgotten. 
On three sides the towering cliffs inclose the miniature lake 
in their close, rugged embrace, while at the lower margin, 
the surplus waters dash over the artificial barrier, and go 
dancing and chattering gaily down the rocky incline. The 
surface of the lagoon is dotted here and there with white- 
winged boats, whose small keels are plowing little rippling 
furrows across its bosom, or, perchance, are rocking on the 
tiny waves at their moorings. Copious as is the English 
tongue, it is inadequate to paint the scene in all its lights 
and shades, and it is only through the eye that one can 
form a true conception of the enchanting picture. 

In a little recession, at the base of the water-laved crags, 
inclosing the lower end of the lake, at the rijjht of the 
dam, a commodious veranda-encircled hostelry has been 
constructed, and provided with all modern conveniences 
for the entertainment of guests who are there supplied with 
a cuisine that would challenge the criticism of the most 
fastidious epicure. It is from the veranda of this hotel 
that the best view of the lagoon and its environments can 
be obtained. 

CUSTER IN 1877. 

Custer, on entering its third year of history, found 
itself, prostrate, but purified, in the midst of its grand 
surroundings. Of the thousands of eager, reckless for- 
tune-hunters, who had departed during the previous 
year, in pursuit of the " elusive phantom," but few 
had returned, as the hundreds of tenantless buildings gave 
pathetic testimony, buildings which were afterward from 
time to time torn down and converted into fuel. 


For the few subsequent years the population of Custer 
fluctuated, varying from fifty or sixty to 400. On the re- 
turn of Gen. Crook from his summer campaign against the 
Indians in the fall of 1876, his command camped at Custer 
for a time, which brought back a few of the stampeders 
from Deadwood, and also attracted to that point a con- 
siderable number of new-comers to the Hills, increasing 
the population to about 400, which, owing to new excite- 
ments in other portions of the Hills, again diminished, 
until, on September 5th, 1878, there were, it is said, by 
actual census, only thirty-seven men, eleven women, and 
as many children, fifty-seven persons all told, in the pio- 
neer city of the Black Hills. From that time it again 
began to slowly expand until in 1881 it contained a perma- 
nent population of 400, from which date the stability of 
Custer became an assured fact. 

Among those who pinned their faith to Custer for the 
most time during its early years of vicissitudes and dis- 
couraging fluctuations were, first : Thos. Hooper, D. W. 
Flick^ Sam'l K. Shankland, D. K. Snively in 1875, then 
H. A. Albion, E. G. Peirce, T. H. Harvey, W. H. Har- 
low, Ernest Schleunning, Sam'l Booth, Frank B. Smith, A. 
B. Hughes, A. Yerkes, J. C. Saunders, Capt. Haserodt, 
and others all of whom may be accounted among the first 
permanent settlers of Custer (let it be remembered that 
there was little permanency in Custer before 1877) — and 
the determination and early efforts of these men were 
largely instrumental in giving Custer its prestige of to-day. 

The first postmaster of the U. S. Postal Service in Cus- 
ter was Thos. H. Harvey; the second, J. S. Bartholomew ; 
the third on the list was Frank B. Smith; the fourth, S. R. 
Shankland, followed by H. A. Albion. 

The first school in Custer, as well as in the Black Hills, 
was taught during the summer of 1876 by Miss Carrie 
Scott, who is a daughter of C. A. Scott, of Spearfish. And, 
by the way, Mr. Scott made the first coffin ever constructed 
in the Black Hills, at Custer. 


The second school taught in Custer was a tuition school 
opened and taught by Jas. E. Carpenter during the winter 
of 1876-7. Mr. Carpenter was a partner of Chas. Hayward 
in founding the town of Hayward on Battle creek, and is 
now a practicing attorney in Woonsocket, South Dakota, 
where he has resided for the past seventeen years. 

The town was incorporated and a patent was issued by the 
government for the square mile occupied by the city in 

In 1884 Custer City erected its first public school build- 
ing, a fine, two-storied brick structure, separated into four 
rooms, or school departments. 

The number of pupils enrolled for the year 1897-8 was 
174, and inasmuch as the number of children of school age 
in the city numbered 265, it seems evident that increased 
school accommodations will have to be provided in the near 

Custer's public buildings consist of a handsome brick 
courthouse and jail, a fine brick public school building, and 
four churches — the Methodist, Congregational, Baptist, 
and Catholic. 

Since the completion of the Burlington & Missouri Rail- 
way to Custer, in 1890, the city has developed rapidly in 
commercial importance, and its wide streets, its well-filled 
squares of brick and frame business structures and numer- 
ous cosy homes gives ample evidence of thrift and increas- 
ing prosperity. 

In addition to its complement of business houses, Custer 
can boast of two flourishing banks — one National and one 
State — two good hotels, a factory for the manufacture of 
a mica lubrication from native product, two steam planing 
mills, and other small industries incident to towns of its 

What is now the First National Bank of Custer was first 
established as a private bank in 1881 by D. Corrigan, who 
owned and managed the same until 1890, when the institu- 
tion was converted into a national bank, with a capital 


Who ran through the press the first cop}' of the Black Hills Pioneer 
on June 8th, 1876, 


stock of $50,000. The first officers of the incorporated in- 
stitution were as follows: D. Corrigan, President; F. A. 
Towner, Vice-President ; and W. F. Hanley, Cashier. 
Both capital and officers have remained unchanged. 

The Custer County Bank was organized and opened on 
April 17th, 1890, with a capital stock of $25,000, with the 
following officers : S. H. Mills, New York, President ; Jos. 
E. Pilcher, of Custer City, Vice-President; Frank R. 
Davis, of Rapid City, Cashier; T. W. Delicate, of Custer 
City, Assistant Cashier. 

Subsequently Frank R. Davis died, when T. W. Delicate 
was promoted to the cashiership, and D. W. Webster suc- 
ceeded Joseph E. Pilcher as vice-president, so that the 
present officers of the institution are : Stephen H. Mills, 
of New York City, President ; Daniel W. Webster, of 
Custer City, Vice-President ; Thomas W. Delicate, of Cus- 
ter City, Cashier. 

The press is now represented b}' the Custer Chronicle, 
a wide-awake sheet, fully abreast of the enterprising com- 
munity it represents. The paper was established in Decem- 
ber, 1879 (the first number appearing on the third of that 
month), by A. W. Merrick, of Deadwood — the pioneer 
newspaper man of the Black Hills. At the end of a few 
months Mr. Merrick sold the paper to Messrs. Clark & 
Kubler, and it is now conducted by the latter member of 
the firm, Joseph Kubler. Mr. Kubler is entitled to the 
distinction of having run through the press the first copy 
of the Black Hills Pioneer, issued in Deadwood in June, 

Custer, is supplied with a splendid water service, is well 
lighted by electricity, and has a present population of from 
800 to 1,000 people. 

For several years subsequent to the advent of the rail- 
road, Custer was the largest lumber shipping station in the 
Black Hills — shipping more, it is claimed, than all other 
Black Hills towns combined. In 1895 there were in that 
region twenty steam sawmills in active operation, employ- 


ins: an asfgresrate of 250 men. There were also two steam 
planing mills in constant operation then as now. Though 
the stringent restrictions wisely imposed upon the cut- 
tinff of timber from oroveriiment lands has inflicted a 
severe blow to that important industry in the pioneer city, 
the ever-increasing value of the mining interest, and stock- 
raising industry in the region about, will buoy it on to the 
substantial success it so richly deserves. 

During the years 1877-8-9, as before stated, the settle- 
ments of the Hills were constantly beset by an organized 
gang of laborers, whose sole occupation was to round up 
all horses found at the end of lariat ropes or running 
loose, and they plied their avocation with a zeal and per- 
sistency highly creditable to their calling, and they were 
not in the least particular as to their color, pedigree, or 

Custer's citizens did not wholly escape their vigilance, 
as the subjoined story will illustrate: — 

It was one evening during the month of April, that Wm. 
H. Harlowe, now a resident of Spearfish, mounted his 
horse, and just as the shadows began to fall, rode away 
from Custer City in the direction of Dead wood carrying on 
his person a considerable quantity of French creek gold- 
dust for shipment at the latter place, — there being no safe 
way to ship from Custer City at the time. The gold, it 
may be proper to state, belonged partly to himself and 
partly to Samuel Booth of Custer City. After riding 
seventeen miles, mostly under cover of darkness, he 
reached what is known as Gillette's ranch, where he 
picketed his horse and put up for the night, under the 
hospitable roof of Mr. Gillette. In the morning, to his 
extreme chagrin, he found his horse missing — lariat and 
all. He borrowed a horse of the proprietor of the ranch, 
and after giving an order to be sent to Custer for another 
horse, to be used on his return, he resumed his journey with 
his valuable treasure, on the keen lookout for ambushed 
highwaymen along the way. 


On his return from Dcadwood, Mr. Harlow found that 
the horse brouo-ht from Custer during his absence had 

also been spirited away the night before his arrival. He 
sent word to Custer to have a posse put at once on the 


trail of the tbief or thieves, and the men after follow- 
ing up a clue for two days finally traced the guilty party 
to the vicinity of Custer at ten o'clock p. ra., when senti- 
nels were immediately posted on all the roads leading from 
the city. 

Mr. Harlow and John Halley, a brother of James Halley 
of the First National Bank of Rapid City (everybody in 
the Hills knows James Halley, if they don't they ought 
to), — well, Harlow and Halley, the former armed with a 
Springfield rifle and the latter with a shot-gun, rode out on 
the Cheyenne road, in the midst of a terrific thunderstorm, 
to look for their man. The very blackness of darkness 
prevailed, save when the lurid glare of the lightning's play 
illuminated their surroundings. They had not gone more 
than a half-mile when thev discerned throuoh the gloom an 
approaching horseman, who was ordered to halt when about 
twenty feet away, but receiving no satisfactory response 
to the call, Mr. Harlow leveled his rifle at the unknown, at 
the same time ordering him to " hold up his hands." Just at 
that moment a brilliant flash of lightning revealed the man 
with a revolver pointed directly at them. Both fired almost 
simultaneously, the ball from the revolver inflicting a severe 
wound on Mr. Harlow's hand, the eff'ects of which he 
bears to this day. After the interchange of shots, the 
stranger turned his horse and fled, followed by a storm of 
shot from Mr. Halley 's gun. Five days later the man was 
buried on Castle creek, about twelve miles north of 
Custer, having died from the effect of the gunshot wounds 
received in his flight. The man proved to be a " pal " — 
that's what they call it, I believe, of the notorious Albert 
Spears, who was, and perhaps is now, in prison for his 
complicity in the memorable Cold Springs stage robbery. 


Hermosa is an enterprising little agricultural hamlet, 
situated on Battle creek outside of the foot-hills, on the 
line of the F. E. & M. V. Railroad. The town was organ- 



ized in 1888, and contains a population of 125 souls; has 
three stores of general merchandise, three church orojaniza- 
tions, a creditable school building, and a good school 
separated into an upper and primary grade. 

Buffalo Gap, situated on the line of the Fremont, Elk- 
horn and Missouri Valley Railway, at a point where a branch 
road leaves the main line for Hot Springs, originated at the 
time of the advent of that line to the Hills, and was, per- 
haps is still, an important eating station of the line. The 
town is noted chiefly for the extensive quarries of different 
varieties and colors of fine sandstone found in its vicinity, 
large quantities of which product have found a ready 
market in some of the Eastern cities. Other places of 
more or less importance in Custer County are: Fairburn, 
Folsom, Otis, Spokane, Berne, Mayo, Pringle, Argyle, 
Wind Cave, Bakerville, and Westford. 




Pennington County, the only one of the three counties 
into which the Black Hills was first separated that has 
preserved its original territory nearly intact, occupies 
geographically a central position, extending eighty miles 
in length east and west, by twenty miles north and south, 
comprising an area of 1,600 square miles. The base line 
of the Hills survey on the forty-fourth parallel of north 
latitude passes through the county at equi-distance from its 
north and south boundary lines, as defined under an act 
of the Territorial Legislature, approved in February, 1877. 
The boundary line between Pennington and Custer coun- 
ties was not definitely established until November 12th, 
1881, as was stated in my treatment of Custer County. 
Pennington County is divided into two nearly equal por- 
tions of mountainous and open country, the western half 
embracing the entire timbered area, the eastern half com- 
prising the prairie region, and for the most part the broad, 
fertile valleys of the streams draining the county including 
some of the great cattle ranges on the south branch of the 
Cheyenne river. The western or mountainous portion is 
heavily timbered with an excellent quality of pine timber 
interspersed with patches of spruce, fir, birch, oak, aspen, 
and willow, with the exception that here and there within 
the timber line are found quite extensive areas of open 
prairie land, elevated from 4,500 to 6,000 feet above the 
plane of the sea, while the eastern or open portion is almost 
wholly destitute of trees of any kind, save those fringing 
the borders of the larger streams. 

About one-third of the great granite region of the Hills, 
including Harney's Peak, is within the limits of Pennington 


County. This dominant peak of the Black Hills, which is 
situated about twenty-three miles as the crow flies, south- 
west from Rapid City, can plainly be seen through the hazy 
distance from the foot-hills southwest and southeast of the 
city, proudly lifting its gray coronel into the hovering 
clouds above the lesser jagged peaks and battlements of 
the granite uplift. Some of the wildest, grandest scenery 
of the Hills is to be found among the rugged mountains 
and along the canyons of the streams in Pennington 
County — notably the canyons of Box Elder and Rapid 
creeks. The principal streams draining the area of the 
county are the Box Elder, Rapid, and Spring creeks. The 
Box Elder enters the county near the center of the north 
boundary line, crossing the northeast portion, rarely, 
however, carrying any surface water beyond the foot-hills. 

Rapid creek, the longest stream having its source in the 
Hills, gathers its headwaters near the boundary line of 
Dakota and Wyoming, and traverses the entire length of 
the county in a southeasterly direction to the Cheyenne 
river, to which it contributes a considerable volume of 
water throughout the year. Rapid creek is in its entirety 
a Pennington County stream, running its whole length of 
100 miles within the limits of the county. 

Spring creek, in the southwestern part of the county, 
runs for the most of its course parallel with Rapid creek, 
then passes into Custer County at the southeast corner of 
Township 2, Range 9 east, its entire course being about 
eighty miles. It is a copious stream carrying a handsome 
volume of water beyond the foot-hills. 

The upper waters of Battle creek are also in Pennington 
County. It rises on the northeast slope of the Harney 
range and after running ten miles through the roughest 
portion of the county, it passes into Custer County, and 
discharges its waters during wet seasons into the Cheyenne 
river, but like Box Elder and Spring creeks its waters 
disappear in dry seasons when near the foot-hills. 

The valley of the Cheyenne river along the eastern border 



of the county is tor the most part narrow with high pre- 
cipitous bluffs, and includes a portion of the famous Bad 
Lands of South Dakota. 

Pennington County, although the smallest of the three 
original counties in superficial area, is by no means the 
least important in point of varied resources. It has been 
conclusively demonstrated, that in the " mineral belt," 
within the limits of the county, there exist extensive 
ledges of rich mineral bearing rock, and, while operations 
in quartz mining have as yet been limited, there are being 
developed to-day some of the richest mines of free milling 
gold ore yet found in the Black Hills, and the county may 
be ranked as an easy second in the actual gold production 
of the Hills. While there have been failures in mining 
operations in the county, there are doubtless millions of 
gold locked in the natural vaults of its mountains, awaiting 
capital and judicious management to bring it to the surface. 


By a provision of the act of the territorial legislature de- 
fining the boundaries of Pennington County, the Governor 
appointed three commissioners to organize county govern- 
ment and locate the county seat. The appointees were : 
R. H. Vosburg, M. M. Fuller, and Edwin Loveland, the 
latter not arriving in time to qualify, the office was declared 
vacant, and Samuel H, Coats was appointed to fill the 

The whole roster of the first otficers of the county were : 
Commissioners: R. H. Vosburg, M. M. Fuller, and Samuel 
H. Coats; Probate Judge, E. C. Peters; Register of 
Deeds, J. R. Hanson; Sheritf, Frank P. Moulton; Clerk 

of Courts, Leonard W. Bell; Treasurer, ; District 

Attorney, F. J. Washabaugh; Superintendent of Public 
Instruction, John R. Brennan ; Surveyor, S. H. Coats. 

Strangely enough, important as the ofiice is, there was 
no Treasurer appointed by the Governor; at least the rec- 
ords make no mention of one — only stating that on May 



9th, 1877, at Sheridan, E. C. Peters resigned as Probate 
Judge, and on same day was appointed Treasurer, a 
vacancy existing. 

The first meeting of the Board of County Commissioners 
was held at Rapid City, April 19th, 1877, the second on 
April 20th, on which date the county seat was located at 

The first meeting at Sheridan was held May 7th, 1877, 
at which session the county was named Pennington, in 
honor of John L. Pennington, then Governor of the Terri- 
tory of Dakota. 

At the election in November, Rapid City was made the 
permanent county seat by popular vote, and the first meet- 
ing of the Board of Commissioners at the permanent capi- 
tal was held November 21st, 1877. Large sums were ex- 
pended by the county in public improvements, such as 
surveying and improving roads, building bridges, etc., the 
principal roads laid out being from Rapid City to the 
Cheyenne river, Custer and Rochford, and from the latter 
place to Hill City via Castleton. 

In five years from the time of organization, the county 
had an assessed valuation of $570,000, a total indebtedness 
of $42,450, and a population of 4,000. In 1897 it had an 
assessed valuation of $763,000, a total indebtedness of 
$208,858 and a population of 9,000 approximately. 

In 1881 the county built its first courthouse — a fine two 
and a half story brick structure, at a cost of $12,000, for 
the payment of which county bonds were issued to run 
ten years at seven per cent interest, which bonds were 
fully redeemed on maturity. There were subsequently 
other quite heavy expenditures in the equipment of the 
jail, the planting of trees and the improvement of the 
courthouse square. 

Pennington County's first courthouse has an unfortu- 
nate, as well as a somewhat singular history. On the night 
of April 25th, 1897, despite the heroic efforts of the fire 
department, the handsome brick structure was burned from 


dome nearly to foundation, only the lower portions of the 
outer walls remaining. Only by encountering great risk, 
did the county oflScials, with the efficient aid of other citi- 
zens, succeed in rescuing the valuable records from the 
flames. The building was covered by an insurance of 

In the adjustment of damages, the insurance company 
in lieu of paying the amount of insurance in money, assumed 
the responsibility of restoring the building to its former 
condition, and entered into contract for that purpose with 
Thos. Sweeney, Hugh McMahon, and Mike Whealen, who 
rapidly pushed forward the work of rebuilding. As if by 
the irony of fate, on the night of November 10th, when the 
building was on the eve of completion, it again took fire in 
some mysterious manner and was consumed to the founda- 
tion as before. With admirable pluck and determination, 
the contractors cleared away the burning debris, and with- 
out loss of time began the work of rebuilding though on a 
somewhat different, but improved plan, the half-story being 
left off by the consent of the commissioners and an addi- 
tional ground room added. On the 15th day of May, 1898, 
the structure was completed and ready for occupancy, and 
any one visiting the capital of Pennington County to-day 
will find, delightfully embowered among trees, a handsome 
two-story brick courthouse, surmounted by a dome, and 
complete in every detail of its appointments, in the rear of 
which is a substantial, well-equipped two-story brick jail 
building in the same inclosure. 


Rapid City, the county seat, has more than fulfilled the 
hopeful predictions of its founders, of whom it may be 
said that they " builded better than they knew." Its 
numerous beautiful homes, environed by well-kept lawns 
and shaded avenues; its many commodious and some even 
elegant church edifices, and its well-equipped educational 
institutions ; its fine two and three story brick business 



blocks, and broad well-paved streets ; its splendid water 
service and electric lighting of to-day certainly more than 
realizes the wildest dreams of the few men who bravely 


defended their rude log cabin homes from the warlike 
Sioux in 1876. 

While the growth of Rapid City has not been, perhaps, 
as rapid as the current of the beautiful stream upon which 
it is situated, and from which it took its name, it has been 


steady and sure. From the time it was made the perma- 
nent county seat in November, 1877, dates its substantial 
growth. Business about that time began to move from 
Rapid to Main street where a number of quite pretentious 
frame buildings were erected during the years 1877-8, 
among which was Lewis Hall, a two-storied building put 
up by Wm. Lewis, now deceased, and the old landmark 
still stands in a good state of preservation — a monument 
to the enterprise of one of Rapid City's first permanent 


The first school in Rapid City was opened and taught 
by Miss Vena LeGro, afterwards Mrs. Wm. Steele, whose 
husband was one of the founders of Rapid City. 

The first postmaster of the regular postal service in Rapid 
City was J. R. Brennan, who was also the first Superin- 
tendent of Schools of Pennington County. 

School District No. 1 of Pennington County was organized 
in January, 1878, after which schools were taught in rented 
buildings until 1881, when the first public school building 
of the county was erected in Rapid City. This soon prov- 
ing to be inadequate to accommodate the children of the 
growing community, it was decided, at an election held in 
August of that year, that the district issue bonds for the 
purpose of raising money to build a more commodious 
house. Accordingly bonds were issued and in 1882 the 
present two and one-half storied brick structure was erected 
at a cost of $12,000. In the plat of the town a large num- 
ber of lots were reserved to provide a fund which proved 
ample for current school expenditures at that time. 

The old frame school-house stands to-day on Kansas 
Citj'^ street between 5th and 6th streets, whither it was 
removed from its original location, and is now used for 
divers purposes, chiefly as a carpenter's shop; and just 
across the way, on the opposite side of the street, is an- 
other old building, badly warped out of all its original 



symmetry, and leaning reverently to\vard3 the rising sun, 
beariucr on its weather-beaten facade the legend, " Felix 
Poznansky, Dry Goods, Boots & Shoes, «fec.," where it has 
stood bravely defying the elements for lo, these many 
years. This building, which was removed from the busi- 
ness thoroughfare of the city to its present locality, was 
one of the earliest and most flourishing dry-goods houses 
in Eapid City, established and owned by the gentleman 
whose honored name appears on the legend. Ah, what 
tales these old landmarks tell of the struggles and aspira- 
tions of our early settlers ! 

The first religious organization in Rapid City was a 
Union Aid Society, organized in August, 1878 (perhaps a 
few months earlier) by Rev. J. W. Pickett, who had been 
emploved by the Home Missionary Society in organizing 
the Rocky Mountain District, in which was included the 
Black Hills. This society was first composed of members 
of diverse creeds and religious proclivities, perhaps fifteen 
in number, the major part of whom subsequently came into 
communion with the Congregational Church, which society 
has now a commodious house of worship, and is in point 
of numbers and financial standing the most flourishing in 

the city. , , , , • 

The first Methodist Episcopal services were heki in 
March, 1878, by Rev. H. H. Jones; no organization, how- 
ever, was eff'ected at that time. 

In December, 1880, Rev. Jas. Williams and Rev. Ira 
Wakefield resumed the work begun by Rev. Jones, and in 
March, 1881, a church was organized and Mrs. C. D. 
Crandall appointed a class-leader. 

A Catholic church was organized in 1881, and soon after 
their present church building was erected. 

The Episcopal church society was formed in the summer 
of 1886, and their present church edifice completed in 
1888, which was followed successively by the Presbyterian, 
Lutheran, and Baptist churches. 

The press is represented in Rapid City by three news- 


papers, the Journal, the Republican, and the Black Hills 

The Black Hills Journal appeared on the newspaper 
stage, and made its initial bow to the Rapid City public, on 
January 5th, 1878, and has ever since continued to make 
its weekly appearance with unfailing regularity. In 1886 
a daily issue of the paper appeared under the title of the 
Rapid City Daily Journal, since which time both a daily 
and weekly have been published, the news of the latter 
being condensed from the columns of the former, for 
country circulation. 

How ably the Journal has enacted its di/Bcult role is 
better attested by its extensive patronage and long contin- 
uance, than can be expressed by mere words. For twenty 
years it has faithfully represented the best interests of the 
Gate City, ever striving to mould for their betterment the 
sentiment of its people. The enterprise was established by 
Joseph B. Gossage, its present proprietor, and George 
Darrow. At the time, or soon after its establishment, the 
paper came under the able editorial management of Richard 
B. Hughes, who is entitled to the distinction of being the 
first newspaper reporter in the Black Hills, having served 
in that capacity for the Black Hill, Weekly Pioneer in 
1876 (see Chapter of First Events). The paper is at pres- 
ent, and has been for a number of years, conducted solely 
by Mr. and Mrs. Gossage, the latter of whom is a whole 
voluminous newspaper in herself. The Journal has the 
distinction of being the first newspaper published in Rapid 
City, and of having had the first contract for the printing 
of Pennington County. 

The Rapid City liepublican was established by a corpo- 
ration of Rapid City capitalists organized by Messrs. Fowler, 
Halley, Simmons, Henry, Coad, and others, in 1884, 
since which time the j^aper has had a somewhat checkered 
career. The corporation purchased the printing outfit of a 
" Democratic " paper published by James Boyd, under the 
title of the Index. The first on the roster of the editors of 


Reporter for the Black Hills Wi:(lhj Pioneer in 1876 and one of its 


the Republican was I. R. Crow — present proprietor of the 
Bald Mountain Neivs — the second was W. H. Mitchell, 
who was followed in regular sequence by Byers, Simmons, 
Soott, Bishop, McManus, Williams, and Wallace, all well 
remembered in Rapid City. The present editors are 
Messrs. Mills & Wise, former publishers of the Hermosa 
Pilot. The building and plant is still owned by the Repub- 
lican Publishing Co., the press outfit being leased to the 
present proprietors. The Republican was first issued as a 
weekly publication, changing to a daily in 1885, and again 
to a weekly in 1892, but whether daily or weekly, it has 
always, politically, been published in the interest of the 
Republican party. 

The Black Hills Union is an outgrowth of the Black 
Hills Weekly Democrat, published in Rapid City, by G. 
W. Barrows, in 1887-8. The paper and outfit then passed 
into the hands of Shelby D. Reed & Co., by which company 
it was conducted for several years. In 1896 it was pub- 
lished as a political campaign paper, under its present title, 
by Gird & McManus, the latter severing his connection 
with the concern at the close of the campaign, leaving it in 
the hands of its present proprietor, A. W. Gird. The 
Black Hills Union is a spicy little sheet published in advo- 
cacy of equal rights and free silver, and what Art. doesn't 
know about free silver and 16 to 1 is not really worth 

The first marriage in Rapid City was that of Wm. F, 
Steele and Miss Vena LeGro, in November, 1877. The 
important ceremony was performed by Judge Granville G. 
Bennett, the first judge of the first Black Hills District 

The first child born in Rapid City was born to Mr. and 
Mrs. Osceola Chase in the summer of 1877. 


An example of the enterprise and progression by which 
the citizens were actuated, is furnished by the organiza- 


tion, at an early date, of an association iiaving for its 
object the intellectual and social welfare of its people. 
The first steps in that direction were taken on the evening 
of September 22, 1880, by a few socially inclined spirits, 
who had met to discuss some plan of amusement for winter 
nights, and the outcome was the organization of the Rapid 
City Library Association. J. B. Gossage, W. H. Mitchell, 
and W. F. Manning were appointed a committee to 
draught a constitution and by-laws, and at a subsequent 
meeting the organization was perfected. A room was first 
leased for temporary use and the success of the venture 
proved so satisfactory that in the spring of 1881, the 
present Library Hall was designed and built. Land at the 
northwest corner of Kansas City and Sixth streets was 
donated by John R. Brennan for a site, and during the 
summer of 1881 the present structure was completed. 
The building was designed for a reading-room, library, and 

The initiation fee to the association was originally 
placed at $9.00, which entitled the member to the use of 
the books of the library until 1890, without further dues. 

The library contains 500 volumes of biograph}', poetry, 
science, and fiction. 

Since its building Library Hall has served the people of 
Rapid City well; not only for the purposes originally con- 
templated, but for all sorts of functions, political, educa- 
tional, and social ; for the lecture, the concert, and dance. 
For eighteen years her beauty and her chivalry have gath- 
ered there and joined in the " giddy mazes " to enchanting 
strains. Periodically, for eighteen years the leaders of the 
opposing political factions have thundered out their respec- 
tive partisan creeds from its boards; whence the changes 
have again and again been rung on the whole political 
gamut, of free trade, protection, free silver, the single 
gold standard, and other political issues — each uttering 
prophetic warnings against the dangerous dogmas of their 


opponents, as tending tq undermine and utterly overthrow 
our free institutions. Yet, strange as it may seem, our 
" Republic still lives," and old Library Hall stands. 


The preliminary organization of Rapid City Lodge A. F. 
and A. M. was effected May 16th, 1881, and the first regu- 
lar communication of the order was held at Masonic Hall, 
September 2nd, 1882. The organization was soon after 
perfected, and the lodge is now in a flourishing condition, 
with handsomely furnished rooms for the meetings of the 
order. There are now also, large lodges of the I. O. O. F., 
Knights of Pythias, A. O. U. W., The Eastern Star, 
Daughters of Rebecca, and perhaps other lodges, with 
well-fitted commodious rooms. 


The first flouring mill in Rapid City was built in 1883 by 
Lampert & Co., in the gap of the Hills, about a half mile 
west of the business portion of the city. For several years 
or until 1890 it was the only plant for the manufacture of 
flour in the city, when it was supplemented by the plant of 
the Rapid River Milling Co. 

The Rapid River Milling Co. completed its plant on 
February 1st, 1890, and commenced operations under the 
directorship of R. C. Lake, D. H. Clark, G. Schnasse, Jas. 
Halley, Jas. W. Fowler, W. A. Wager and John J. Mc- 
Namara. The present officers of the company are G. G. 
Schnasse, President; Jas. W. Fowler, Vice-President; 
Jas. Halley, Treasurer; John J. McNamara, Secretary and 
General Manager. 

The plant is operated by water power, uses a full roller 
process, and has a capacity of 150 pounds of flour per day. 
The plant has established a wide reputation for the manu- 
facture of Superior flour. 



The Rapid City Chloiination plant was established in 
1890 by the Black Hills Milling & Smelting Co. at an orig- 
inal cost of $125,000. The works were put in operation 
on ore taken from the Welcome mine in the vicinity of 
Deadwood, under the management of Robt. Thorburn, but 
for some reason the enterprise proved a losing venture, as, 
after running in a kind of intermittent way for a period of 
perhaps a year, the works closed down, and the property 
went into the hands of the First National Bank of Rapid 
City. Whether the ore was not adapted to the process, or 
the process suited to that particular ore, or for some other 
reason, is not clear. 

After lying idle for five years the plant was purchased 
by a Colorado company, of which Col. M. H. Day, of 
Rapid City, is president — under whose management the 
old works have undergone complete repairs, and other 
improved machinery added to make the process a success. 
The plan of the new management contemplates the erection 
of a smelter to be run in connection with the chlorinutiou 
works. The smelter is to be of 240 tons capacity, and 
built of steel, the contract for the construction of which 
has been awarded to the Colorado Iron Works of Denver, 
Colorado. The plant, when completed, will operate, in 
part, on ore taken from the Gilt Edge mine, in Two-Bit 
gulch, owned by M. H. Day & Son, and in part on custom 
ore. It is estimated that there are 100,000 tons of low 
grade ore in sight in the Gilt Edge mine that will average 
from $16 to $25 per ton. This, however, is said to be the 
lowest grade of ore in the mine. The success of the enter- 
prise promises a long pay-roll and better times for Rapid 


The first movement towards supplying Rapid City with 
water was made in 1883 or 4 by an organization known as the 
Rapid City Water Co., of which C. W. Robbins was presi- 






dent, M. Cameron, treasurer, and Sam'l Scott, secretary. 
The desio-n was to bring the water from what is known as 
Cleghorn Springs, five miles west of the city, the company 
having negotiated for their purchase from the owner. 
An effort was made to secure a franchise from the city 
without success, — at least there was no binding action 
taken, the council wisely deciding that the better plan 
would be for the city to own the system. At a meeting of 
the council on March 5th, 1895, the city engineer, M. 
Wiltsie, reported a plan for a system at an estimated cost 
of $45,000. The council decided to submit the question of 
issuing bonds and constructing the system to the voters of 
the municipality. Meetings were held at Library Hall to dis- 
cuss the question, and present to the people the advantages 
of the system. At the first meeting on March 20, 1885, 
Messrs. Simmons, Poznanska, Haft, Hay ward, Sweeney, 
and Clark were appointed a committee to report a plan and 
estimate cost. At a meeting on March 24 the committee 
reported, recommending the reservoir system, stating that 
$45,000 was not an overestimate of cost of such a system, 
which report was approved. The special election held on 
the 28th resulted in 200 in favor to three in opposition to 
the issuing of bonds. At the municipal election, which 
occurred soon after, the enterprise received the further ap- 
proval of the voters by the election of James Halley, who 
had been active in favor of the scheme, to the mayoralty, and 
Felix Poznansky, L. L. Davis, and F. H. Mohr, to the 
council, all of whom were in hearty approval of the enter- 

On July 25th, 1885, the city entered into contract with 
the Northwestern Water and Gas Supply Company of 
Minneapolis to put in a system in accordance with the 
plan, including the construction of a reservoir within the 
city limits. This reservoir was located on the eastern 
slope, near the summit of Hangman's Hill, at an elevation 
of 188 feet above the city, and had a capacity of 375,986 



BEECHER'S rocks, near CUSTER. 


By the terms of the contract, which was carefully drawn 
by Jas. W. Fowler, the system was to be finished for fire 
purposes by January 5th, 1886, and for all purposes by 
July 1st of that year, but, owing to delay in the arrival of 
material, and the failure of subcontractors to complete 
their work, there was default in both specifications. Not 
until sixty days after the signing of the contract did the 
first material arrive on the ground. Lewis Harper, the 
superintendent of construction, arrived on September 4th, 
and ground was broken on September 13th, 1885. That 
was before the advent of railroads to the Hills, and all the 
heavy supplies for the system had to be transported by 
wagon across the country from Pierre to Rapid City, a 
distance of 150 miles. 

To provide funds for the construction of the work, the 
city first issued bonds to the amount of $45,000, payable in 
twenty years at seven per cent interest. On October 2d, 
1885, additional bonds were issued in the sum of $6,000, 
making the issue to that time $51,000. On December 31st, 
1885, the city purchased for $1,000, from Cassius M. Leedy, 
the springs known as the Leedy or Limestone Springs, the 
source of the water supply, three miles west of Rapid City. 

Seven years later the city decided to make extensive 
improvements on the system, and on July 27th, 1892, a 
contract was let for the building of a large reservoir at 
Limestone Springs, and a conduit line thence to the city, 
the cost of which was $30,000, paid in city general fund 
warrants, making the total cost of the system $81,000. 

The natural flow from the springs is 540,000 gallons per 
day. The pressure in the city mains is seventy-five pounds 
to the square inch, and there are now over ten miles of 
water mains in the system. No town in the Black Hills 
can boast of a more complete water system than Rapid 
City. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of pure, whole- 
some water, free from all suspicion of disease germs, are 
daily carried from the inexhaustible fountain head and 
distributed through a perfect system of main and service 


pipes to every house and nearly every business place in the 


Rapid City has good reason to feel proud of her public 
schools, which in point of educational facilities and general 
excellence are second to none in the State. From an 
humble beginning the system has expanded into large and 
encouraging proportions, with four well-equipped school 
buildings, filled with an aggregate of from 450 to 500 
pupils each year, presided over by a corps of capable pro- 
gressive instructors. Besides the commodious three-storied 
brick structure before referred to the city has three com- 
fortable, well-furnished ward school buildings of frame, 
two of which employ two teachers each, making a total corps 
of thirteen instructors, including superintendent. The 
course of study embraces an eight-year course before enter- 
ing the high school and a four-years' high school course. 
The high school prepares its graduates for the State Univer- 
sity and State normal schools and gives thorough instruction 
in all the studies included in the courses of the best high 
schools of the State. The high school was established in 
1885 and graduated its first class in the spring of 1886. 

The high school building is provided with a library con- 
tainins: 250 volumes of well selected books and more are 
being added each year. The school population of the city 
by the census of 1898 was 564, and school expenditures 
for the term ending June, 1898, was $9,906.62. 


With the development of the mineral resources of the 
Black Hills, facilities for acquiring a technical knowledge 
of their rock formation, the analyses of their various kinds 
of ore deposits, mining, etc., became a practical necessity. 
To supply this demand, and for the purpose of encourag- 
ing the production of the precious metals in the Black 
Hills, the Legislature of 1885, with a wholesome regard for 


the *' eternal fitness of things,'" passed an act locating the 
School of Mines of the Territory of Dakota at Kapid City — 
a central point, equally accessil)le to the principal mineral- 
bearing portions of the Hills. This act, however, was 
coupled with the proviso that, before any steps be taken 
towards the construction of the buildings, a good and suffi- 
cient deed, in fee-simple, be made by Rapid City to the 
Territory of Dakota, for a tract of land not less than five 
acres in extent, within, or immediately adjacent to the city 

For the purpose of providing funds for the construction 
of the main building of the School of Mines, the territorial 
treasurer was authorized to issue $10,000 of territorial 
bonds, running for a period of twenty years, and payable 
at the option of the Territory, after a term of ten years, 
bearing interest at the rate of six per cent per annum, — 
coupons payable semi-annually at the Chemical Bank, New 

By an act of the Legislature of 1887, additional bonds 
were authorized by the Territory to the amount of $23,000, 
bearing interest at five per cent per annum, payable semi- 
annually as in the first issue. The fund provided by this 
last issue was appropriated as follows: — 

For constructing a metallurgical laboratory on the 
grounds of the School of Mines and furnishing the same, 
$10,000; for machinery for laborator}', $10,000; for engi- 
neering instruments, $1,000; for completing chemical lab- 
oratory, $2,000; making a total aggregate of $33,000 of 
territorial bonds issued on account of the Dakota School of 

Upon the division of the Territory, in 1889, all of these 
bonds, with some of the coupons detached, came as a leg- 
acy to South Dakota, together with nearly $700,000 other 
territorial bonds issued on account of public institutions. 
The School of Mines is maintained by the State. Appropri- 
ations — more or less liberal, according to the effect of the 
influence brought to bear upon our legislators — are made 



for the maintenance of the institution at each biennial ses- 
sion of the Legislature. 

The experimental work done by the school in the direc- 
tion of determining the character and value of the ores of 
the Hills has proved invaluable to their mining interests, 
and in the departments of mineralogy and metallurgy, few 
institutions of the kind anywhere are better equipped for 
the work. 

The school is located about one mile east of the business 
portion of the city, at the foot of a range of hills forming 
a semi-circle around the town, and overlooking the valley 
of Rapid creek. 

The tirst building erected is a three-story brick structure, 
on the first floor of which is the chemical department, 
completely equipped and perfectly arranged for chemical 
laboratory work, and capable of accommodating about 
thirty students at one time, each provided with all the nec- 
essary facilities for thorough chemical tests. The second 
floor consists of two lecture rooms and dean's office, in 
which is kept the library of the institution. The third 
floor is devoted exclusively to the mineralogical and paleon- 
tological cabinets, in which there are extensive and valuable 

The second building, 200 feet to the eastward, contains 
the assay and raetalUirgioal laboratories. This building, 
the front portion of which is two stories in height, is also 
built of brick. On the first floor of this portion are the 
assay rooms for the students, provided with a number of 
crucible furnaces built of fire-brick and set in the wall. 
The rear portion of the building, which is only one story 
high, contains a complete 3-stamp gold mill, a 5-stamp 
silver mill, concentrating machinery, and other approved 
appliances for the treatment of ores. In short, every 
facility is afforded the student for acquiring a thorough 
practical knowledge of the art of separating and refining 
the various kinds of metals. 



A recent addition to the educational institutions of Rapid 
City is the government Indian school. The establishment 
of this institution at Rapid City and the appropriations 
therefor were secured mainly through the efforts of Senator 
Pettigrew and Representative Gamble of South Dakota. 
At the last session of the Fifty-first Congress the bill was 
passed, appropriating the sura of $25,000 for the purchase 
of a tract of aorricultural land, and the construction of 
suitable buildings for the education, industrial and other- 
wise, of Uncle Sam's youthful wards in South Dakota. A 
fine farm of 160 acres situated in the valley of Rapid creek, 
about one mile west of Rapid City, was purchased of Geo. 
P. Bennett, at a cost of $2,000, and a site for the build- 
ings selected on an elevated plateau adjacent thereto. 

An additional appropriation of $18,000 was afterwards 
made for the cost of heating, sewerage, industrial shops, 
laundry, etc. The main building, which is now completed, 
is a commodious, two-story brick structure, suitably 
arranged for the purpose for which it is designed. The 
other buildings appertaining to the institution are nearing 
completion, and will soon be equipped for the opening of 
the school. 


On October 11th, 1882, the town of Rapid City was 
incorporated as a village and divided into four wards with 
John R. Brennan as President of the Board of Trustees, 
which consisted of one member from each of the four 

The village was incorporated as a city under a special 
charter granted by the Legislature in February, 1883, with 
Fred E. Stearns as the city's first Mayor and one member 
of the City Council from each ward. 

It was again incorporated under the general laws on 
November 16th, 1888, with David H. Clark as Mayor of 


last incorporation, the Council consisting of two Aldermen 
from each ward. 

Several additions have from time to time been attached 
to the original plat, and incorporated into the city until 
now it covers an area of two miles square, and, basing the 
estimate upon the school census of 1898, contains a popu- 
lation of 2,000. 


Rapid City enjoys the distinction of being the first city 
in the BUicli Hills to be connected by railway with the out- 
side world. On the 4th day of July, 1886, the first steam 
locomotive to invade the solitude of the Hills, — heralding 
its approach by the shrill tooting of its whistle, arrived at 
Rapid City with five passenger cars, gaily decorated with 
flags attached, amid the loud acclamations of the thronsr 
that had gathered at the station to welcome its advent. It 
is needless to say that the event was celebrated by the peo- 
ple in a manner commensurate with its importance. On 
the strength of the prevalent belief that it might be the 
terminus of the F. E. & M. V. Railway line Rapid City 
had the nearest approach to a veritable boom that that sober 
city ever experienced. For the month that it remained 
the terminus all freight for other points in the Hills was 
unloaded from the cars and shipped by wagon to its desti- 
nation, — making times exceedingly lively; so when the 
grading began along the line northward, the bubble began 
to collapse, much to the disgust of the average Rapid City 

During the inflation of the bubble several important 
railroad projects were inaugurated, which promised to 
make Rapid City a great railroad center. A survey for a 
narrow-gauge line to connect with the mineral and lumber 
regions of the Hills was made, and the projector of the 
scheme, Mr. E. B. Chapman, agreed, in consideration of a 
liberal bonus by the people, to have thirty miles of the line 
completed and in operation by thebeginningof theyear 1888. 





Another survey for a narrow-gauge railroad was made 
from Rapid City to the tin districts of Harney Peak and 
Hill City, to extend into Wyoming. This was a project of 
the Harney Peak Tin Mining Co. 

Another survey was made from Chamberlain to Rapid 
City by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Co. 
with the purpose of constructing a road soon after the 
opening of the Sioux reservation. While none of these 
projects have yet been carried out, it is believed that, owing 
to its inviting location at the natural gateway to the Hills, 
and by virtue of the enterprise and liberality of its citizens, 
Rapid City will, in the not distant future, become the focus 
of several converging and diverging lines of railway. 

In the summer of 1886 the Rapid City Street Railway 
Co. was formed, which constructed a street line of about 
one mile in length alons: the center of Main street from 
West boulevard to the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Val- 
ley Railway station, which line was afterwards extended to 
the School of Mines to accommodate the students and fac- 
ulty of that institution. The company was incorporated 
and stocked in the sum of $10,000, and the cost of the line 
is estimated at about $7,000. The enterprise is yet a living, 
moving reality, operated under the management of Howard 
Worth, of Rapid City. 


The Rapid City Electric and Gas Light Company 
was organized in September, 1886, by O. L. Cooper, of 
Rapid City, and at once incorporated with a capital of 
$20,000. The first officers of the company were: G. S. 
Congdon, President; O. L. Cooper, Secretary; and H. S. 
Hall, Treasurer. The plant, which is operated by water 
power, had an original capacity of only forty-seven lights 
of 1,200 candle power, since, however, the capacity of the 
dynamo has been greatly enlarged. For the first five years 
only the arc light system was used, to which, in 1892, the 
incandescent light was added. While the plant is owned 


by the same corporation, none of the original incorporators 
are now connected with it. 


The present efficient Fire Department of Rapid City was 
organized in 1887, at which time it was composed of the 
following companies with their respective officers: — 

Gate City Hose Company, No. 1 ; D. G. Ferguson, Fore- 
man; Mel. Miller, First Assistant; Frank McMahon, Sec- 
ond Assistant; Jack Taylor, Secretary; W. L. Carr, 

Rapid City Hook and Ladder, No. 1: Chas. N. Spencer, 
Foreman; Cassius Price, First Assistant; J. J. Sharp, 
Second Assistant; J. J. Rockford, Secretary; Lem Fall, 

Tom Sweeney Hose Company : A. L. Overpeck, Fore- 
man ; R. E. Grimshaw, First Assistant; A. H. Smith, Sec- 
ond Assistant ; Jas. W. Post, Secretary; John S. Kelliher, 

There was a partial organization of the first two com- 
panies mentioned in 1886, which was completed in 1887. 


The business interests of Rapid City at present support 
two banking institutions, both strong, well managed organ- 
izations, having a fine prestige in financial circles through- 
out the country. 

The oldest of these, and the pioneer banking institution 
of Rapid City, was first opened for the transaction of busi- 
ness on December 1st, 1879, by Lake, Halley & Patterson, 
with a capital of $10,000.00. 

In 1881 Lake & Halley bought Mr. Patterson's interest 
in the concern, and the bank was then conducted under 
the name of Lake & Halley until September 1st, 1884, 
when the bank was merged into the First National Bank 
of Rapid City, with Richard C. Lake as President, and 
Jas. Halley as Cashier, with a capital stock of $50,000.00. 


The present officers of the bank are : Jas. Halley, President ; 
Charlotte Gardner, Vice-President ; H.H. Somers, Cashier. 
Its capital is $50,000.00; surplus $10,000.00; deposits, 
$300,000.00. The bank has paid in dividends to its stock- 
holders $119,500.00. The First National Bank conducts 
all the departments of a legitimate banking business — in- 
cluding the negotiation of loans, the reception of deposits, 
the issuance of notes, drafts, and letters of credit, and has 
been a successful institution from the first. 

The Pennington County Bank of Rapid City began busi- 
ness on the 22d day of April, 1888, under the hiws of the 
State of South Dakota, with a paid-up capital of $50,000,00. 
The bank was established by Capt. Frank R. Davis of 
Rapid City; Stephen H. Mills of New York City; Jesse 
Carll of Northport, New York, and other associates of Mr. 
Davis. The first officers of the bank were : S. H. Mills, 
President; Edward Oakes, Vice-President; Frank R. 
Davis, Cashier ; Geo. F. Schneider, Assistant Cashier. In 
1892 Jas. M. Woods was elected vice-president to fill the 
vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Oakes. In 1893 Mr. 
Davis died, when Geo. F. Schneider was elected cashier. 
The present officers of the bank are: Stephen H. Mills, 
President; Jas. M. Woods, Vice-President; Geo. F. 
Schneider, Cashier; Paul S. Woods, Assistant Cashier. 
The Pennington County Bank is a State bank organized 
under the laws of the State of South Dakota; and enjoys 
the distinction of beins^ the largest State bank in South 
Dakota. Its capital stock is $50,000.00 ; a surplus of $10,- 
000.00; undivided profits, $5,076.00; average deposits, 
$225,000, and pays a semi-annual dividend of five per cent 
to its stockholders. The Pennington County Bank is the 
county depositary of Pennington Count}'. 

Rapid City sustains four hotels, between fifty and sixty 
business houses of various kinds, among which are a num- 
ber of mammoth establishments, conducting several dis- 
tinct lines of business, fourteen lawyers, si.K doctors, one 
dental surgeon, and several real estate and insurance offices. 


Of the four hotels, the International, now kept by P. B. 
McCarty, is believed to be the oldest. Around this vener- 
able hostelry clusters memories of the hustling, bustling 
<lays of early stage travel and road agents, when sleeping 
accommodations for the bruised and battered passengers 
was at a premium, and when the rumbling of the old tally- 
hos, as they dashed up to their respective headquarters on 
opposite corners, was a familiar sound. During those days 
the International was the headquarters of the Northwestern 
Stage & Transportation Line running between Deadwood 
and Pierre, while its rival on the opposite corner, first kept 
by John R. Brennan, furnished accommodations for 
travelers over the Deadwood & Sidney Express Line. 

Hotel Harney, a fine three-storied brick structure, con- 
taining fifty rooms, with a capacity for entertaining seventy- 
five guests, was opened in 1878 and is still conducted by 
John R. Brennan, — mine host of the 12x14 log hotel of 

Among the present firms that began business when the 
town was very young, and when goods and merchandise had 
to be brought in by mule and ox-teams, are the following: 
Perhaps the oldest is that of Grambery & Co., established 
by Schnasse & Grambery in the fall of 1877. The oldest 
dry goods firm is that of Morris & Co., established in 
Rapid City in the spring of 1878. Mr. Jacob Morris 
brougrht his stock of clothing and furnishing goods down 
from Deadwood in the early part of May, and opened busi- 
ness on Main street where he is located to-day. The 
longest established of the drug stores of Rapid City 
was opened by Chas. D. Matteson in 1878, and oldest 
hardware store by Thomas Sweeney. 

It is cruelly related of Tom that he came over the trail 
alongside of an ox-train with his hat in his hand and 
arrived in Rapid City in 1877, without a dollar in his 
pocket and destitute of " grub," but being a business man 
and a born " rustler," he soon devised ways and means to 
put himself on a paying basis. He rented a small room, 


borrowed a razor, and opened a barber shop. His first 
customer was Fred Evans, who paid him the liberal sura of 
fifty cents for the shave. This half dollar was Ihe capital 
stock which started him in business, and put him on the 
high road to wealth. It is believed, however, that this 
story is an exaggeration. Be that as it may, Thos. Sweeney 
is now conducting one of the largest business establishments 
in the Black Hills. 

Of the present bar, Chauncey L. Wood has the distinction 
of being the first to establish himself in the practice of his 
profession in Rapid City, where he arrived in the spring of 
1877, and soon after opened an office. In the spring of 
1878 he became associated with his old-time friend and 
college chum, John W. Novvlin, whose interesting career 
will be referred to further on. For the past twenty years 
Chauncey L. Wood has been a conspicuous figure in the 
political history of the Black Hills, and a leader in the 
Democratic party of Dakota. He is a profound lawyer, a 
])owerful and eloquent pleader, and his name stands high 
among the leading attorneys of the State. Because of his 
knowledo;e of constitutional law he was selected as one of 
the delegates to represent the Black Hills at the constitu- 
tional convention held at Sioux Falls on July 4th, 1889, to 
help frame a constitution for the new State of South 
Dakota, as provided for in the bill, admitting it to State- 

The history of Rapid City would scarcely be complete 
without a brief sketch of the Black Hills career of John W. 
Nowlin, who for a number of years was intimately identi- 
fied with its municipal affairs, and whose name, a synonym 
for all that is admirable in manhood, is still honored 
by its people. Early in the spring of 1876, Judge Nowlin, 
then a young law graduate from the Iowa State University, 
left his native State ( Iowa) to seek his fortune and fame amid 
the more generous possibilities of the boundless West. In 
the spring of 1877, the ambitious young adventurer, after 
having spent a year on the threshold at Yankton, purchased 



an outfit and established a freight line between Pierre and 
Deadwood, but during the summer of the same year sold 
his line aitd opened an office for the practice of law in 
Crook City, then on the wane, where he remained but a 
short time. 

In April, 1878, he entered into partnership with Chaun- 
cey L. Wood, which firm opened practice in Rapid City 
under the firm name of Nowlin & Wood. In the fall of 
1878 he was elected Judofe of Probate for Pennington 
County, and re-elected in 1880, and it was during his 
incumbency as Probate Judge that he did such valuable 
service for Rapid City. Against strong opposition he se- 
cured the patent for the town-site in 1881, and also drew 
the first charter under which it was incorporated as a city 
in 1883. In the fall of 1884, he was elected to the Terri- 
torial Legislature, at which session he drew, and was largely 
instrumental in securing the passage of the act, establishino' 
the School of Mines at Rapid City. In 1885 he was ap- 
pointed Judge of the first Circuit Court, by the executive of 
the provisional State government formed during that 3'ear. 

About this time his health began to fail, when he sus- 
pended practice, and journeyed away off to the sunny 
slopes of California, visiting Arizona and New Mexico, 
with the vain hope of arresting the malady that was sap- 
ping his existence. In 1889, when South Dakota was 
admitted to Statehood, he was elected to the bench of the 
Seventh Judicial District of the Circuit Court, which posi- 
tion he resigned in November, 1892, and in March, 1893, 
when in the prime of life, as told by years, he died. 





Perhaps none of the early settlements were more per- 
sistently harassed by horse-thieves in 1877 than Rapid 
City, for which reason its citizens were disposed to give 
them short shrift for their moral and mental obliquity, so 
one dark night in the month of June, 1877, three sus- 
pected men who had been caught were suspended from the 
limb of a pine tree standing on what has since been known 
as " Hangman's Hill," a half mile westof the town. This 
grewsome act of speedy retribution recalls a story related by 
one of the early settlers, of how a small party of the citizens 
of Rapid City, for about an hour, dodged bullets from 
45-caliber rifles fired by four horse-thieves and all-around 
desperadoes one day in 1877, viz: Dune. Blackburn, 
" Billy the Kid," " Laughing Sam " and one other, 
thus: The four outlaws had been committing frequent 
depredations in and around Rapid City, so hearing that 
they were seen a few miles from town, John Brennan 
organized a posse to ride out in pursuit and capture them 
if possible. The outlaws were found near the outskirts of 
the town when the exciting chase began. The road agents 
were mounted ofl swift-going steeds (stolen, doubtless), 
and, consequently, with the exception of John Brennan, 
Wm. Steele, and a stock tender, left the pursuing party 
far in the rear. Brennan was the only one of the three 
armed with a rifle, the others having only six-shooters. 
However, that made no difference, they followed up the 
chase, and got within shooting distance just as the outlaws 
were crossing the Box Eider, when they opened fire on 
4:hem, receiving no reply. Crossing Box Elder the pursuit 


was continued and the last seen of the outlaws they were 
disappearing over a little elevation about 800 yards distant 
on Elk creek. Putting spurs to their horses they hurried 
on to overtake them, and when within seventy-five yards 
of the summit of the hill they were greeted with a hail of 
bullets, one of which penetrated the breast of Steele's 
horse; whiz, whiz, went the leaden missiles past the heads 
of the pursuers; thick and fast they came. "Great, 
Scott ! but they are big ones ; hear them sing," exclaimed 
Brennan. The party dismounted and returned the fire, 
but the outlaws, being under cover of the hill, had them at 
a disadvantage, until Brennan, at a great personal risk, 
made a detour to the right and succeeded in outflanking 
them and with a few well-directed shots from his rifle, soon 
put the desperadoes to flight. It was afterwards learned 
that two of them were slightly wounded. 


Strange and incredible as it may seem to those who know 
them, Chauncey Wood, with all his profundity and legal 
acumen, and Thomas Sweeney, with all his business shrewd- 
ness, were once upon a time led away on one of the most 
exciting stampedes known in the history of the Black Hills. 
Of stampedes in general, and this one in particular, Doc. 
Peirce, himself one of the victims, gives the following 
amusing account. Doc. says : *' Stampedes create more 
excitement in a mining camp than any other cause, and in 
ninety-nine cases out of 100 they are as delusive as a man's 
word on election day. I made just two of these nocturnal 
excursions, on foot, and ran most of the time to keep up 
with the horsemen, falling over logs and rocks, and snag- 
ging myself on dead limbs. 

" When I returned from the second one, the ' Box 
Elder' stampede, I took an inventory of myself and dis- 
covered that I did not have clothes enough on to flag a 
hand-car. My epidermis needed repairing badly, and as my 
stomach was not built on the same liberal plan as the one 


Dr. Tanner was using, so I subsided and went out in the 
woods in the daytime and ate berries, and would return to 
town at night to slumber. I found this mode of living gave 
me the necessary exercise for health, and as even dried- 
apple pies at that time sold for $1 each, and as 1 was never 
known to have a dollar, time proved that my system was 
the cheapest." 

The most cruel stampede ever concocted in the Hills was 
the one to the Bear Paw mountains, gotten up, it was 
claimed, by " Red" Clark and others, for the purpose of 
unloading some old, worn-out saddle and pack-ponies. If 
that be true their scheme proved a'glittering success, but 
not so with the poor boys who made that trip, for they suf- 
fered untold misery, and more than one never lived to get 
back to Dead wood. 

But the most comical thing in the way of a stampede 
happened at Eapid City, in 1889. The lawyers there, in 
those dull times, were suffering from ennui, so they got 
up a stampede just for excitement. A committee was 
appointed to get some gold dust and go out on the 
Rockerville road and plant it. The committee was igno- 
rant of formations, and as they did not like to exert them- 
selves in walking out very far, they stopped in the " red 
hills " back of town and salted a gypsum bed. Old Bart 
Henderson, the veteran prospector of the Rocky Mountains, 
came along where they were working, and, taking in the 
situation, requested to be let in on the deal. The boys^ 
knowing that Bart knew all about the chloride of sodium 
act, took him in the conspiracy, thereby greatly disturbing 
the peace and dignity of the other peaceable citizens of 
Eapid City. 

After performing their nefarious work the boys separated 
and meandered back to town, and commenced to agitate the 
subject of mining. Some thought the only way to save 
Rapid City was for the citizens to employ competent pros- 
pectors and send them out with plenty of grub and mining 
utensils, and see if they could not find another Rocker- 


ville district closer to town, and after considerable talk this 
plan was finally adopted. 

Committees were appointed to raise funds to pay ex- 
penses, men were chosen to go prospecting, and, of course, 
one of the boys insisted on going who knew where the 
plant was. In a short time he came back all out of breath, 
with a panful of decomposed gypsum, and appearing very 
excited. " I think I have struck it right up there in that 
hill back of town; here is some of the dirt, let us go to 
the creek and wash it out." Everybody followed ; even 
Tom Sweeney took a lay-off and went along. They 
panned out the dirt, and when the gold dust, which was 
very fine, commenced to show up in the pan, everybody 
went wild with excitement. Sweeney ran around with 
his hat in his hand, exclaiming, " Isn't she a bird, boys ; I 
tell you, old Rapid is a hummer: she is all right ! " And 
during the excitement, Bart Henderson, who always kept 
on hand a few choice nuggets for specimens, asked per- 
mission to pan a while, and as he was the chief in that line, 
the boys readily assented, and that was where they let the 
bars down, for Bart had a nugget in hand about the size of 
a hickory nut, and while he was splashing the water around 
in the pan, he gently let the nugget slide in with the other 
gold. It was not Ions: l)efore old man Chase discovered 
the big chunk, and such a yell as went up from that crowd ! 
Henderson claimed the nugget, as he had panned it out. 
The boys who had put up the job drew off to one side and 
spoke low. " Boys," whispered Chauncey \Yood, " we 
never put in that big chunk, she is there as true as gospel, 
let us get up there quick before the mob goes, and stake 
our claims." "I'll go you," says Sweeney; and they 
started on the run, and such a scramble was never seen 
before or since in the Black Hills. Men, women, and 
children went daft. Chauncey was not in condition to run 
over a quarter of a mile, but Sweeney urged him on by 
saying: "It is the chance of a lifetime, old son, hurry 


When they arrived at the phice where the plant was, 
Chauncey got a stake and commenced writing a mining 
notice. Sweeney had never been in the mines, so he was 
not acquainted with the form used, but stood looking on, 
and when he read the words : "I claim 300 feet up this hill 
for mining purposes," yelled out, "For God's sake don't 
take it all." Chauncey arose very dignified and, striking 
the proper attitude for effect, said, "Tom, if you say 
another word, 1 will take 160 acres." " Fire away, old 
son," replied Sweeney. " Take all you want but leave me 
a slice of this melon." By this time the crowd had arrived, 
and they soon staked the whole country. A wag in the 
party, who did not find anything else to stake, blazed a 
large pine tree, and wrote the following notice upon it: 
" I hereby claim 300 feet up this tree for climbing pur- 
poses, — also claim all knots, limbs, woodpecker holes, 
etc., for working purposes, and all jumpers are hereby 
warned not to meddle with this claim in any manner, for 
if they do this tree will be used for a head-tone." That 
last line settled it, for it is safe to say that at least a dozen 
of otherwise intelligent men stopped, read that notice and 
rode on, and don't know to this day that it was meaning- 
less. Thus the salter was salted. 




The story of the rise and tlecline of the many early 
booming camps of Pennington County, in which there is 
something almost pathetic, may be briefly told. Hill City, 
the first of these and the second oldest mining camp in the 
Black Hills, Custer antedating it by only a few months, 
was laid out by Thos. Harvey, John Miller, Hugh McCul- 
lough, and others, in February, 1876. Good prospects had 
been found in the gulches and bars along Spring creek 
during the summer and fall of 1875, when the miners were 
being harassed to the point of desperation by Uncle Sam's 
blue coats, and on the opening of placer operations in the 
spring of 1876, the camp suddenly grew into a booming 
town. About two score of substantial log cabins were 
hastily erected and numerous tents were sandwiched in 
between or scattered thickly over the site. 

About the first of May, when Hill City's future seemed 
assured, glowing reports of the rich diggings in Deadwood 
gulch came floating down with the north wind, when the 
miners on Spring creek individually and in groups hastily 
packed their burros with blankets, mining implements, 
etc., or shouldered them according to circumstances, and 
made their way over the hills to the new golden Mecca, 
leaving Hill City by the middle of May as deserted as a 
graveyard — only one man and a dog remaining to tell the 
story of its desertion. This closes the first short chapter 
of its history. 

Subsequently, some returned to their first love, others 
came, and considerable placer mining was done on Spring 
creek, Newton's Fork, and other branches of Spring creek. 



and a number of ranches were located in its broad fertile 
valley. During the few succeeding years much prospect- 
ing was done for quartz within a radius of live or six miles 
of Hill City, and a number of exceedingly rich gold ledges 
were discovered, and to a more or less extent developed, 
among which were the Grizzly Bear, the St. Elmo, the 


Bengal Tiger, the King Solomon, The Golden Summit, 
and others. 

The Grizzly Bear mine, situated about four miles south- 
west of Hill City and within a short distance of Harney's 
Peak, was discovered in 1879 by Messrs. Cook, Rogers, 
and Barber. The discoverers afterwards sold to Messrs. 
Miller and Mather, of Deadwood, who ejected a twenty- 
stamp mill on the property, which finally came into the 



possession of Louis Florman, of Hill City. The property 
is now leased to Geo. Beitchey, of Sheridan. The Grizzly 
Bear has since the erection of the mill been a producing 
mine, and is considered among the best in that region of 
the Hills. 

The St. Elmo gold mine is located in Sunday gulch, a 
branch of Spring creek, about four miles south of Hill 
City. This mine was discovered by B. Wood and J. 
Bishop in 1880. In 1881 the property was purchased by 
G. Kimball and O. B. Elliott, who commenced the erection 
of a five-stamp mill. In 1883 a third interest in the mine 
was sold to J. C. McDonald and Wm. T. Jewett, when the 
mill was completed and put in operation, but during the 
same year was sold to Deadwood parties, who have oper- 
ated the mill, though not continuously, since. The mine is 
regarded by experts as a first-class mine; the ore, which is 
for the most part free-milling, assays an average of $11.50 
in gold per ton. 

About two and one-half miles northwest of Hill City is 
located the Bengal Tiger gold mine, discovered about 
1878 by B. Gibson, and later owned by a Mr. Long of 
Philadelphia, Penn. This mine developed a wonderfully 
rich streak of gold-bearing quartz, which was soon lost in 
the larger deposit of low grade ore. Hoisting machinery 
was operated at the mine, but no mill was erected. About 
twelve years ago the Bengal Tiger withdrew to his native 
jungles, and has not since been heard of. 

The King Solomon, situated about six miles northwest 
of Hill City, was located in 1878 or 1879. The King Sol- 
omon Company erected a fifteen-stamp mill on the prop- 
erty, which, after running a few months, was closed down, 
and later the machinery was moved away. The mill and 
other buildings erected on the property were also torn 
down and the lumber sold to different parties. A little 
hamlet of log cabins grew up near by on the strength of 
these operations, and was christened Tigerville, after the 
great Bengal Tiger mine. It is to-day only a memory. 


Among the men who figured prominently in connection 
with the King Solomon mine was Prof. A. L. Dickerman, 
who superintended operations, and was regarded as a very 
competent geologist and mineralogist. The mine is yet 
believed to be very rich. 

The Golden Summit mine was discovered about 1879 by 
Henry Schenck of Sheridan, but is now owned by a Cedar 
Rapids company. A thirty-stamp mill was erected on the 
property, which ran about three years, when operations 
closed. This mine also produced some marvelously rich 
specimens of free gold. 

Although these mining enterprises resulted in the build- 
ing up of a settlement at Hill City, its fortunes were 
extremely vacillating until 1883, when the discovery of 
tin in the vicinity brought it into sudden and wide promi- 
nence. From that time the history of the tin industry 
and Hill City — its base of operations — are closely inter- 

Every one, at least almost everyone, knows that, up 
to that time, the mineral known as tin was exclusively a 
foreign product, while its use in the United States was 
very extensive, and the commodity expensive, conse- 
quently its discovery in the Black Hills caused a furore of 
excitement in the region round about the great grranite 
uplift, where it was found, and a widespread interest 
throughout this and other countries. 

The revelation of the existence of tin in the Hills, as 
great discoveries oftentimes do, came accidentally, — or 
perhaps it were better to say, incidentally. The first dis- 
covery is claimed to have been made by Dr. S. H. Fergu- 
son in what is known as the " Etta Mine," which is situated 
near the summit of a granite uplift, rising some 200 feet 
above Grizzly creek, which discharges its waters — when 
it has any — into Battle creek — six miles east of Harney 
Peak, in Pennington County. The Etta mine was located 
by Dr. S. H. Ferguson and L. W. McDonald in March, 
1883, as a mica mine. In working the mine, they dis- 


covered in the block ore, the presence of a mineral, the 
nature and value of which they were unable to determine ; 
so finally a test was made by inelting a small quantity of 
the ore in a common forge, w4iich resulted in producing a 
substance which was at first supposed to be silver. To 
determine more fully, a piece of the ore was sent to Prof. 
Hubrecken, of Quincy, III., who at once pronounced it tin. 
It will be remembered that Prof. Jenny stated in 1875 that 
the Black Hills showed the best indications of tin he had 
seen in this country, and that it ought to be found there. 

According to reliable information, the first public an- 
nouncement of the discovery of tin in the Hills was made 
by Major A. J. Simmons, then of Rapid City, but now 
of Deadwood, in an article on the subject, published in the 
Rapid City Journal of June 7th, 1883, in which he says : 
" The indications already point to the existence of an 
extensive district of the mineral." In reference to the 
discovery Prof. Wm. Blake says: " The discovery of tin 
ore in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory may be said to 
have been complete on the 7th of Jnne, 1883, when a 
sample, which had been forwarded by Capt. A. J. Simmons, 
of Rapid City, to Gen. Gashwiler, of San Francisco, was 
submitted to me far determination." 

In July, 1883, Prof. Blake visited the Hills and made a 
careful examination of the deposit, taking specimens of 
the rock away for assaying purposes, and, in view of the 
suspension of the tin mining industry in the Black Hills it 
may be interesting to note his opinion of the value of the 
deposit at the time of its discovery. 

In a series of articles, published in the New York Mining 
Journal^ Prof. Blake says: "The showing of tin in the 
Black Hills is remarkable, exceeding anything I have ever 
seen, giving a far better percentage of pure tin than any 
other mines in the world;" and, further, says: "The 
assay shows results varying from five to forty per cent, and 
there seems to be a vast body of tin-bearing rock in sight." 

Indeed, a look at the Etta mine in 1883, would indicate 


an inexhaustible body of that precious mioeral. The walls 
in the cut in the mountain side, which was about twenty 
feet vertically and horizontally, showed a vast body of the 
blocks of mica of various colors, mixed with quartz, and 
the whole slope of the hill glittered with mica, thrown out 
from the excavation. 

In August of the same year, the " Nickel Plate " mine, 
situated about eighty rods east of the Etta, was discovered. 
This mine showed assays of forty-one and two-thirds per 
cent tin, and seven and one-htdf per cent nickel and cobalt; 
the nickel crystals in the mine giving twenty-five per cent 
pure nickel. 

The Etta mine was first owned by Dr. S. H. Ferguson, 
B. W. McDonald, A. J. Simmons, and Alexander Medill, 
and the "Nickel Plate" by Dr. S. A. Ferguson, B. W. 
McDonald, and Messrs. Cunningham and Smith, 

About the same time another promising discovery was 
made on the north slope of Harney's Peak, by R. P. 
Wheelock and Rob't Florman. At the base of the moun- 
tain on which this discovery was made,. on Palmer's gulch, 
splendid specimens of stream tin were found. 

In the fall of 1883, a stock company was formed for 
working the mine, of which Rob't Florman was president; 
J. S. Gantz, secretary; Milton Frease, treasurer ; and R. 
P. Wheelock, A. P. Sterling, Wm. Lewis, Wm. McMurtrie, 
Richard B. Hughes, Rufus Madison, J. H. Lewis, and Wnl. 
Rosen baum, members. 

In the fall of 1883 a representative of English capital- 
ists visited the Hills, and made a thorough examination of 
the tin deposits around Harney's Peak, reporting to his 
employers in glowing terms of their abundance and rich- 
ness. Subsequently, a powerful corporation of American 
and English stockholders was formed under the name of 
the Harney Peak Consolic^ated Tin Company, which pro- 
ceeded at once to buy up nearly everything looking like 
tin in sight, until the combination controlled a large per 
cent of the tin deposits in the Black Hills. It is stated 


that the company have on record in Pennington and Cus- 
ter Counties, over 1,100 mining locations, nearly 5,000 
acres of placer ground, and a number of valuable water 
rights along the line of the tin belt. It is estimated that 
the company has expended $2,000,000 in the purchase and 
development of properties, and the erection of plants for 
the reduction of ore. 

In 1891 the company commenced the erection of a 
large plant for the reduction of ore near Hill City. This 
plant, which was finished in 1892, was provided with the 
most approved machinery for the treatment of ores, and is 
conceded by those competent to judge to be, both in con- 
struction and equij^ment, the most complete plant of the 
kind ever erected in the Black Hills. In November, 1892, 
the machinery was set in motion and continued to run with- 
out friction, and with satisfactory results as far as known, 
for a period of two months, when the works were tempo- 
rarily (?) closed down, pending the adjustment of certain 
complications between the American and foreign stock- 
holders. Why it has taken more than five years to adjust 
these differences, is a problem which the people of the 
Black Hills at large would like to see solved. 

The natural depression caused by the closing of its chief 
industry was severely felt by Hill City, but its people 
have never yet lost faith in its ultimate revival, and the 
consequent prosperity of the town. However, Hill City is 
by no means wholly dependent upon tin for its continuance 
as a town, as there are numerous promising gold ledges in 
the vicinity that are being rapidly developed, among which 
are the "Tea," " Dolcode," "Golden Slipper," " New 
Eldorado," and other lodes whose ores have been treated at 
the J. R. Mill, about three and one-half miles northeast of 
Hill City and found to be rich. About three miles north 
of Hill City on Newton's Fork is the Sunny Side mine 
which has proven to be a veritable bonanza. This mine 
was discovered by Geo. Coats of Hill City in 1895 or 1896, 
but is now owned in whole or in part by the Holy Terror 


Gold Mining Co., which runs a night and day shaft, em- 
ploying about thirty men. There are hoisting works at 
the mine, and the company contemplate the erection of 
reduction works in the near future. The ore is claimed to 
be very rich. 


Queen Bee, a small mining camp, situated about four 
miles north of Tigerville, on a branch of Slate creek, 
dates its origin from the discovery of what is known as 
the Queen Bee gold mine, which was located by F. H. 
Griffin in 1879. Later, other locations were made known 
as Queen Bee No. 2, New Holland, and New Holland No. 
2 — extensions of the original claim. 

In the spring of 1880, Mr. Griffin bonded the property 
for $125,000.00 to J. I. Case of Racine, Wisconsin, who 
developed the property for about two months, when the 
work was discontinued. Subsequently Mr. Hall became 
interested in the property with Mr. Griffin, when they pur- 
chased machinery for a ten-stamp mill, of Fred Evans and 
E. Loveland, and built the Queen Bee mill which was 
operated for two months, when it closed for the winter. 
During the winter the property was bonded to Chicago 
parties for $55,000, but nothing came of the transaction. 
In 1881 it was sold to Col. D. Boyce of Chicago, for the 
Michigan Southern Railway Co., which after expending 
several hundred dollars on the property, deeded it back to 
the original owners. In 1882 a two-third interest was sold 
to Edwin Loveland and Jas. Jacoby of Rapid City, who 
added five stamps to the naill and built a tramway from the 
mill to the mine. 


A half-dozen dilapidated log cabins, in various stages of 
decay, relieved by two or three comfortable farm-houses 
and a little log schoolhouse, is all that remains of the 
once flourishing town of Sheridan. Beautifully located 


ill a wide basin in the valley of Spring creek is Sheridan, 
the first capital of Pennington County. In point of age, 
it enjoys the distinction of being the third town located in 
the Black Hills, it having been laid out in the fall of 1875, 
and first called " Golden," which was afterwards changed 
to its present name, given in honor of the famous cavalry 
oflBcer, Gen. Phil. Sheridan. 

Among the first to reach the site of Sheridan were 
Andrew J. Williams, Ernest Barthold, John W. Allen, A. 
J. Carlin, Ed. Flaherty, Frank Bethune, Wm. Marsten, 
Ezekiel Brown, and Deacon Willard, who reached that point 
in July, 1875, about the time of the arrival of the exploring 
party under Professor Jenny. 

The first gold discovery was made on July 18th by A. J. 
Williams who, it is claimed, washed $2.00 from one pan of 
gravel taken from Stand-off bar. 

' On the morning after his rich find he staked his claim 
and then rode away post-haste to Custer to notify his 
partners, who were washing out gold on French creek, of 
his good fortune. On his return with his five partners he 
found his claim jumped, and moreover nearly the whole 
bar staked off and taken. At a subsequent miners' meeting, 
however, his claim was restored to him. In August the 
miners were ordered out of the Hills by Gen. Crook but, 
before the middle of October, they were all back working 
on their claims. 

Soon after a party from Montana arrived and staked off 
the lower end of the bar, and called it " Montana" bar, 
from which, during the first week, they washed out $3,000 
in gold, including a nugget valued at $23.00. On finding 
bed-rock pitching into the channel of the creek, the ground 
was soon after abandoned. Among this Montana party 
were Fred Cruse, E. Davis, Chas. Spencer, Jas. Hayward, 
and John Norton. 

During the summer of 1876 the population of Sheridan 
grew rapidly and log cabins went up on every hand. To 
keep the Indians, who were very troublesome in that local- 



ity, at a respectful distance, many of the cabins erected 
were provided with portholes, after the style of frontier 
block houses. Very few settlements, no matter how 
secluded the spot, escaped the keen vision of the redskins 
in 1876, especially if there chanced to be any horses 
picketed around. The noble red man had a wonderful 
penchant for the horses of the pale-faces in those days, to 
gratify which they one day captured and run off thirty- 
two horses belongins; to the settlers of Sheridan at one fell 

As Sheridan gave promise of being the future town of 
the Central Hills, the county commissioners at their first 
session held at Rapid City in April, 1877, made it the tem- 
porary count}^ seat of Pennington County. It was also 
designated as the location of the United States Land Office 
in March, 1877, which, however, was removed to Deadwood 
in the following May. In October, 1877, the first term of 
the Black Hills Circuit Court was held at Sheridan, the 
Hon. Granville G. Bennett presiding. The court convened 
in a large log building, which stood until 1895, when the 
old landmark was burned to the ground. It is told that 
several attorneys from Deadwood were present at the 
opening session of court, and that sleeping accommodations 
being scarce, they were compelled to sleep upon the floor 
of the log courthouse, which really was nothing remarkable 
in those days. As a matter of fact, they should have 
thought themselves fortunate in being able to secure even 
floor space for sleeping. 

Near Sheridan, on the south side of Spring creek, is 
located the one-time famous Blue Lead quartz mines, four 
in number, formerly known as the Blue Wing, Gray Eagle, 
Strader, and Fraction Lodes. These mines, which were at 
one time considered very valuable, were bonded to an En- 
glish syndicate for $100,000, but the deal fell through 
because the ore was thought to be refractory. It is be- 
lieved that for several years nothing has been done with 
the property further than legal development work. 


About three and a half miles above Sheridan, on Spring 
creek, is located the J. E,. Mine, owned by F. C. Crocker. 
A 300-foot shaft has been sunk on this mine, and the ore 
is reputed to be exceedingly rich. A stamp mill has been 
in successful operation on the property for several years. 


In between exceedingly wild and rugged hills, that rise 
far above the ocean's level, about twenty-five miles by the 
traveled road, northerly from Hill City on the line of the 
Burlington & Missouri Railway, may be found the town 
known by the musical name of Rochford. It contains 
about two score or more tenantless and sadly demoralized 
structures of various patterns, log and frame, dotted here 
and there with less than a baker's dozen of the comfort- 
able homes of a few who tenaciously adhere to the belief 
that Rochford and the region round about has a bright and 
glorious future. 

Rochford has two hotels, supported mainly by the travel- 
ing public; two stores of general merchandise, and one 
saloon. It also has one disciple of Esculapius, who, as oc- 
casion requires, administers to the physical ailments of the 
little community; and a good school. Rochford was not 
always as it is now. There was a time when its narrow 
streets were thronged with excited miners; when, instead 
of two score, there were two hundred or more structures 
lining the street, and a population of more than five hun- 
dred souls. 

Rochford owes its existence on the map of the Black 
Hills wholly to the discovery and development of its quartz 
mines, and this is the way it was brought about: — 
One day in August, 1876, M. D. Rochford, Richard B. 
Hughes, and Wm. Van Fleet, left Deadwoodfor the central 
hills on a hunting excursion, and while looking for game 
one of the party picked up, on Montezuma hill, what proved 
to be a tine specimen of gold-bearing rock. Nothing was 
done towards development, however, until February, 


1877, when Messrs. Rochford and Hughes again visited the 
valley of Little Rapid creek, Joe McKirihan, afterward 
the owner of the Evangeline mine, on Irish gulch, accom- 
panying them. In the meantime a couple of men had been 
at work in the vicinitv during the winter. 

In March, 1877, a party of miners from Castle creek 
arrived, and numerous locations were made in the vicinity 
of the first discovery, when a mining district was organized, 
of which Jas. Morrison was elected recorder. During the 
year 1877 many locations were made in the hills bordering 
on Little Rapid creek by prospectors from Lead and Cen- 
tral, among which was the " Stand-by," by Rochford, 
Nyswanger & Co., and the " Fort Wayne," by A. P. Rep- 

The first building on the site where Rochford stands was 
erected by M. S. Hughes. The meeting for the town 
organization was held in Hughes' cabin in May, 1878, when 
the town was named Rochford, in honor of M. D. Rochford, 
one of the first discoverers of gold in that region. From 
that time there was such a great rush to these quartz mines 
that Rochford, in the fall of 1878, was a booming camp, 
one of the liveliest in the Hills. In December of that year 
Rochford contained five hundred people and the camp a 
population of one thousand. 

In 1879 two twenty-stamp mills were erected in the 
district, one at the Evangeline, on Irish gulch; the other 
at the Minnesota mine, on Silver creek, both within the 
lines of Lawrence County. 

About the same time a company was formed which pur- 
chased the Stand-By mine, and expended large sums in the 
construction of a ditch and flume, and what was at the 
time considered a fine dwelling, called " The Mansion," for 
the use of the officers of the company. Subsequently a 
forty-stamp mill was erected and put in operation at the 
mine, under the management of A. J. Simmons, one of the 
stockholders, but after running for a short time the mill 
closed down, first for farther development of the mine, and 



finally for »ood, because the ore failed to pay. It has 
clearly and often been demonstrated that no low grade ore 
will pay unless operated on a large scale. 


The subsequent history of that once famous mine is a 
complex one, frequently changing management, and run- 
ning spasmodically. The mill and machinery were once 
sold for taxes levied by Pennington County, when the prop- 


erty fell into the possession of John Rochford on tax sale. 
It is now controlled by the Apex Consolidated Mining & 
Milling Co., a corporation composed mostly of Rapid City 

Another mine that failed to pay was the Alta Lodi mine, 
situated at the head of Smith's canyon about three miles 
southwest of Rochford. A company organized in Red 
Oak, Iowa, erected a twenty-stamp mill on the property 
which, after running a few months, permanently closed 
operations. In 1883 the mill was purchased by Messrs. 
Robinson, Havvgood & Hoskius of Lead City, and removed 
by them to Lookout, about six miles south of Rochford, 
where it was operated for a time on the Lookout mine. In 
1887 it was bought by Col. M. H. Day, and operated by a 
company known as the Blossom Mining Co. on the Look- 
out and Spread Eagle mines, owned by Hooper & Avers. 
The stamps of the Alta Lodi mill have for several years 
been hung up. 

Strangely enough, a tive-stamp Huntington mill is now 
being operated on the old Alti Lodi mine by Jas. Coch- 
rane, who is taking out good ore and making money. 
Another speculation that failed in the Rochford district is 
the Montana mine, situated above the head of Irish gulch, 
discovered by Chas. L. Dunphy. In 1890 a forty-stamp 
mill was built at the mine by Geo. G. Smith and others of 
New Hampshire, under the name of the Gregory Gold 
Mining Co. at a cost of $160,000 on mine and mill, but 
after running about two months the mill closed and has 
since been idle. Despite all these failures, there are mill- 
ions of ofold hidden in the rusrged hills of the Rochford 
district, awaiting development and discreet management. 

Now while it may seem unnecessary to record these many 
failures of mining enterprises in the central and southern 
Hills, let it be remembered that the province of history is 
to relate facts, and the real facts are, that nine-tenths of 
the stamp mills erected throughout the Hills during the 
early years of their quartz-mining history were failures 


and a detriment to the reputation of the entire Black Hills, 
and more, their erections were stupendous blunders on the 
part of mine owners and mine operators. 

Let it not be inferred, however, that because of the 
failure of these stamp mills, the mines upon which they 
operated are worthless, as quite the reverse is the truth. It 
nas been ascertained, upon inquiry, as well as upon un- 
questionable authority, that the ores of the major part of 
the mines where failures have occurred, when submitted to 
scientific chemical tests, have assayed from five to fifteen 
and twenty dollars per ton of ore — else no stamp mills 
would have been erected. Then, why did they fail to pay? 
The reasonable and los^ical deduction is that the ores being- 
only in part free milling, refused to yield to the amalgamat- 
ing process, and therefore could not possibly pay operation 
on a small scale. Could the great Homestake mine be made 
to pay if operated upon with a twenty or forty-stamp mill 
without even concentrating machinery attached? And 
indeed, what would the numerous other properties in the 
northern Hills that are paying so richly to -day amount to 
without their 'smelting, chlorinating, and cyanide plants? 
When capital is willing to invest several hundreds of thou- 
sands of dollars, in similar enterprises, in the central and 
southern Hills, these abandoned properties will also pay. 
Moral. Never erect a small stamp mill on a low grade 


Few of the early settlements of the Black Hills have a 
more interesting history than Pactola, on Kapid creek. 
When Gen. Crook encamped with a force of cavalry in 
that wide, beautiful basin in the valley of that swiftly 
flowing stream in the summer of 1875, it was named 
" Camp Crook," in honor of that gallant officer. Camp 
Crook was one of the earliest mining camps of the Hills, 
gold having been discovered there in July, 1875, shortly 
after the settlement of Custer. The discoverers at once 


organized a mining district, calling it the Rapid Creek Min- 
ing District, and elected as recorder a Mr. Watts, who, 
when the miners were removed from the Hills in August, 
was left to look after the claims during the absence of 
their owners. These soon returned, and many others with 
them, but in February, 1876, when the great hegira began 
to move toward Dead wood, Camp Crook lost a large per- 
centage of its population. However, many remained, else 
those who left soon returned, as when Jas. C. Sherman, 
one of the founders of Pactola, arrived with his party in 
March, 1876, a large number of miners were found work- 
ing on claims on Rapid creek in that vicinity. 

Mr. Sherman, to whom more than to any other person 
Pactola owes its existence to-day, left Yankton with a 
train of eighty men and twenty teams on the 22d of Feb- 
ruary, 1876, and, after encountering storms, such as the 
plains of Dakota at that season of the year only knows, 
and many hardships, arrived on March 19th, at Custer, 
where the party broke up and scattered through the Hills. 

Mr. Sherman with nine of the party, among whom were 
B. B. Benedict, L. Smith, P. Davis, W. S. Lent, and four 
others, started for Dead wood, but were caught in the icy 
teeth of a terrific snowstorm at Camp Crook, where, upon 
being assured that the indications for placer diggings were 
excellent on Rapid creek, equal to those farther north, 
they decided to remain, and, as far as Mr. Sherman is 
concerned, he did remain and is there yet. 

Nearly all the ground for quite a distance up and down 
Rapid creek was found taken, and great excitement pre- 
vailed in the camp among the miners, who considered their 
ground very valuable, some estimating their worth at 
$50,000 for a single claim. It was nothing uncommon to 
have from 250 to 300 miners present at a miners' meeting. 

During the summer of 1876 Camp Crook was one of the 
busiest points in the central Hills. Two stages passed 
through the camp, one from Sidney, whose route was after- 
wards changed from the Hills to the foot-hills via Rapid 


City to Deadwood ; the other, the Cheyenne, which took 
the old telegraph road from Custer to Deadwood. 

In the early spring of 1876, a store of general mer- 
chandise was opened at Camp Crook by Wm. Keeler, who, 
in the fall of the same year, sold his establishment to 
Arthur Harvey and Chas. Seip. This was the first store, 
and perhaps the only one, opened at Camp Crook. 

A post-office was established at Camp Crook, with Arthur 
Harvey as its first postmaster, in the spring of 1877, when 
the name was changed to Pactola. 

During the same spring Jas. C. Sherman built the Sher- 
man House — the first hotel in that region. In January, 
1878, Mrs. Sherman, with her two children, arrived at 
Pactola, where the family have resided ever since. 

Several important mining enterprises were set on foot in 
Pactola during the first years of its history, first among 
which was a scheme to bring water by ditch and flume 
from above to operate on the placer deposits below town. 
To carry out the scheme, a company composed in part of 
Judge Maguire, B. B. Benedict, and Col, Stockton, was 
organized under the name of the Rapid Creek Mining & 
Manufacturing Company, which built a sawmill to furnish 
lumber, and employed a large number of men to construct 
a flume from a point six miles above, on Rapid creek, to 
the point of contemplated operations below, expending 
large sums of money in prosecuting the work. By the 
time three miles of the flume were completed, the company 
had exhausted its capital and went to pieces. 

In 1880 the Estrella Del Norte Company commenced 
the construction of a new flume to Swede Bar, three miles 
below, where operations were carried on for several years 
with varying success, when the work was abandoned. 
This same company also constructed four miles of flume 
above Pactola at heavy cost, which was also abandoned. 
Rapid creek and its small tributaries in the vicinity of 
Pactola have been worked for placer ever since the dis- 
covery of gold, and much work has also been done in the 


development of the quartz mine in that region, where 
there arc numerous promising locations whose owners are 
hopeful will in the near future be brought into prominence. 


Harney owes its origin to the discovery of placer gold at 
that point on Battle creek, in 1876, and takes its name 
from the lofty peak under whose shadow it lies. For two 
years after the first discovery of gold it grew rapidly, and 
soon became an important and populous camp. Yet, 
although placer gold was known to exist in abundance on 
the bed-rock of that stream, the great depth of the gravel 
deposit, and the consequent difficulty of reaching it with 
bed-rock flume, rendered their operation almost wholly im- 
practicable ; hence, after two years, placer mining at that 
point was comparatively abandoned, a few miners only 
continuing to work the gravel on a small scale along the 

In 1883, however, with the object of trying to rqach the 
deep gravel beds by hydraulic process, a company called 
the Harney Hydraulic Gold-Mining Co. was organized and 
incorporated under the general laws of Dakota Territory, 
with A. J. Simmon, Wm. Claggett, and T. H. Russell, as 
incorporators; with the immense nominal capital of 
$2,000,000, divided into 200,000 shares of the par value of 
$10 each. The plan of the company contemplated a com- 
plete system of hydraulic mining on a gigantic scale on 
their extensive property, which consisted of six miles along 
the bed of Battle creek. Two flumes were built, one 
bringing water from Grizzly gulch, the other from Battle 
creek, the two meeting at the mouth of the former stream, 
thence the combined water was carried to the bar deposits 
in a main flume which crossed the gulch on a marvelous 
trestle over 200 feet high and 700 feet long. Large sums 
were expended in the construction of flumes and other 
works, and it bade fair to become one of the most profit- 
able enterprises in the Black Hills. 



Work continued for one and a half years, and consider- 
able gold was taken from "Mitchell's bar," just below 
where Keystone now stands, when operations were sus- 
pended. The stock is now held by Milwaukee parties. 

The first officers of the company, which was for the most 
part composed of Deadwood men, were: Hon. Wm. Clag- 
gett, President; Henry Jackson, United States Army, 
Vice-President; Edward W. Johnston, Secretary; E. G. 
Spilman, Assistant Secretary ; E. F. Kellogg, Treasurer; 
James Halley, Rapid City, Assistant Treastirer ; Richard P. 
Wheelock, General Superintendent and Engineer. 

Placer mining in a limited way has since been carried on 
along the creek, and much prospecting and development 
work has been done on quartz in the vicinity, by reason of 
which a little hamlet with post-office and school continued 
to exist for many years. However, Harney has now almost 
lost its identity as a town, being so completely overshad- 
owed by the importance of the rich mining camp of Key- 
stone, about two miles up the stream, that it has neither 
post-office nor school to-day. 


Hayward, situated about six miles below Harney, on 
Battle creek, also grew up as a result of the discovery of 
placer gold on that stream. 

The first discovery of gold at that point was made by 
Chas. Phillips, Phillip Brown, and Judge Willis in the early 
fall of 1876, but by whom, owing to the appearance of 
Indians in the locality, it was temporarily abandoned. It 
is told that one day shortly after their arrival, a small band 
of the ubiquitous red men manifested their unwelcome 
presence in the vicinity b}' firing a volley of bullets into 
their camp from the summit of an adjacent hill, perforat- 
ing their frying-pan, but doing no other damage, and that 
the party then at once packed their belongings and hastily 
left the rugged hills to their primitive solitude. Now, if 
such was the case, the abandonment w\as only temporary. 


as the men were found there :i little later by the next party 
to arrive. However, the fact remains that the above men- 
tioned men made the first discovery of gold in that locality. 

The next to reach that point was Chas. Hay ward, Jas. 
E. Carpenter^ and six miners who hailed from Montana. 
This party left Custer with a wagon-load of supplies, 
which, tradition says, overturned seventeen times while 
en route over the rough granite hills to Battle creek. 
However, they finally reached their objective point, where 
they found the first discoveries in November, 1876. 

The day after their arrival a town was laid out and 
named Hayward, in honor of Chas Hayward, the leader 
of the party. 

The town grew rapidly, soon becoming the most populous 
camp in that region of the Hills. Within a period of six 
months after the first discovery of gold, there were about 
300 miners engaged in placer operations along Battle creek, 
in the vicinity of the newly-founded town. In April, 1877, 
Hayward — outrivaling Custer City in population — was 
made the temporary county seat of Custer County, partic- 
ulars of which are told in the history of that county. For 
several years Hayward continued quite an important raining 
camp, and indeed a few are yet working claims along the 
creek with more or less success. A large amount of quartz 
development has been done in the region around Hayward, 
exposing a number of very promising gold-bearing ledges, 
which will, doubtless, ere long attract the attention of 

To-day, a little straggling hamlet, hemmed in by ex- 
ceedingly lofty and rugged hills, containing some half 
dozen or more families, a post-office and schoolhouse, rep- 
resents the once flourishing mining camp and the erstwhile 
judicial seat of Custer County. 


The history of Rockerville, in which there is a tinge of 
the romantic, began with the discovery of the wonderful 


placer gold deposits in what was afterwards called Rocker- 
ville gulch, a branch of Spring creek, late in the full of 
1876. This extensive deposit, which covered an area of 
about six miles square, was, next to Deadwood and White- 
wood gulches, the richest placer deposit found in the Bhick 
Hills; consequently; soon after the discovery, an eager, 
feverish, maddened throng of gold-hunters was drawn 
thither in pursuit of the beckoning phantom that had, till 
then, eluded their grasp. During the first few years, 
therefore, the old camp of Rockerville was the scene of 
mad excitement and reckless expenditure that would have 
done credit to Deadwood during the palmy days of '76. 
Gold dust and gold nuggets were plentiful, speculation was 
rife, and if tradition is to be relied upon, " high jinks" 
generally ruled the day as well as the night— especially 
the night. 

The discovery of this marvelous deposit was made by 
Wm. Keeler in December, 1876, and this is the way it 
happened: Mr. Keeler was on his way down the valley 
of Spring creek, or over the hills by a short cut from Sher- 
idan, with a couple of burros laden with a camp outfit, 
when he was overtaken by a severe snow-storm which 
compelled him to go into camp, and while in camp waiting 
for the storm to abate, true to the instincts of an old 
miner, he prospected a little and found the first gold in 
that locality, taking out an encouraging little sum. The 
next to arrive was the old-time prospector and miner, Bart 
Henderson, and D. G. Silliman. Others soon followed, 
and the work of washing out gold began under somewhat 
unfavorable conditions. 

Owing to the extreme scarcity of water, no sluicing 
operations were possible in the immediate locality of the 
deposit, so the gold for the most part had to be washed 
out through the medium of the primitive rocker, but only 
at favorable seasons of the year could sufficient of the 
essential fluid be found for even the rocking process. At 
times of greatest scarcity, many of the miners transported 


their pay gravel and cradles in small handcarts to wher- 
ever a pool of water could be found, and rocked out 
their loads, often realizing $100.00 from a single cart- 
load. It was during the springtide, however, when the 
snow began to melt in the mountains and the water there- 
from flowed in copious streams down the slopes into the 
gulch, that miners reaped their richest harvest. 

During the spring flood, every miner who owned a 
rocker, wisely " taking the current when it served," kept 
it in constant and active operation early and late, and it is 
easy to imagine that the gulch, with its hundreds of cradles 
rocking along the line, presented a very remarkable, as 
well as an exceedingly ludicrous aspect. It is estimated 
that during the first two or three years of placer operation 
in Rockerville gulch, over $500,000 in gold was washed out 
by the slow rocker process alone. To this extensive use 
of the rocker, the town of Rockerville owes its very unique 

To supply water to operate these dry deposits on an exten- 
sive scale, the Black Hills Placer Mining Co. was organized 
and it was durino- the building of the great Rockerville 
flume, completed in 1880, that the excitement in the camp 
was at its zenith. This flume was an immense wooden 
structure, with a capacity of 2,000 miner's inches of water 
running from the dam at a point about two miles above 
Sheridan, by a meandering route along the steep mountain 
slope over deep gorges on lofty trestles, through which was 
carried the waters of Spring creek to the rich placer beds 
below, a distance of seventeen miles. 

Pending the building of this flume a portable steam saw- 
mill was put in operation along the line to furnish lumber 
for its construction, presenting a scene of great activity 
along the entire route. 

Operations were carried on for about two years when, 
after having produced about $500,000 of gold, litigation 
put a stop to the gigantic enterprise, and mining was for a 
lonz time at a standstill. 


In 1881 a company called the Rockerville Gold Minin<T 
Co. was formed for the purpose of constructing a bed-rock 
flume, aud 1,100 feet of flume was built below town at a 
cost of thousands of dollars, but the expectations of the 
company were never realized. 

Like nearly all mining camps, Rockerville had its Don 
Quixote, in the person of a prospector named Spicer, who 
besides being an enthusiastic geological theorist was also a 
dreamer, and the appended story will illustrate how one of 
his dreams was verified. 

This man Spicer, as he lay in his bunk one night building 
airy fabrics, finally fell asleep and dreamed, and in his 
dream he was led to a spot about two miles down Spring 
creek where, with a pick and shovel, he dug a prospect hole, 
in which he found a pile of glittering gold. So vivid was 
his dream upon awaking the next morning, that he hastily 
dressed and with a companion started out in quest of the 
place where he had seen the golden treasure in his dream. 
Upon reaching the spot, which he had no difficulty in 
finding, he dug a hole, and about two feet below the sur- 
face, found a nugget worth in commercial value $38.00 
and, as the boys say, no fooling. This remarkable find com- 
pletely upset poor Spicer's mental equilibrium. He pro- 
ceeded at once to form a company to put in a flume for 
the purpose of draining Spring creek near where he had 
found the nugget. The company spent several thousand 
dollars in constructing a dam and flumes, which the first 
high water in the spring washed entirely out of existence, 
and, strangely enough, there was never a trace of gold 
found there after. 

During its flourishing days Rockerville — in addition to 
its numerous business places, had a banking house which 
furnished exchange and bought gold dust from the miners. 
It also had at least one shrewd lawjer, as the following bit 
of sharp practice will show: — ' 

One day a man claiming to be a member of that profes- 
sion arrived in camp, and after looking over the situation^ 


and carefully summing up its possibilities, decided to locate 
in his profession. He had no money, but, as the sequel 
proves, he had considerable native shrewdness, and a vast 
amount of what is vulgarly called " cheek" which served 
him in good turn. Money or its equivalent he must have, 
with which to build him an office and start himself in prac- 
tice, and this is the way he managed to secure it : lie struck 
up an acquaintance with a man, whom he persuaded to 
believe that it was his patriotic duty to sue a lumberman 
for cutting timber on the public domain. He then offered 
his services to the defendant, whom he had caused to be 
sued, and was retained, getting for his fee lumber enough 
to build him a small office. 

Another case will still farther illustrate the shrewdness 
of the Rockerville lawyers, when the camp was young — 
not the same lawyer, however. A mining case was on trial 
before a justice of the peace and a jury. The defendant in 
the case, who was in possession of the placer ground in 
dispute, which was exceedingly rich, was advised by his 
attorney to smuggle into the jury room, enough Black Hills 
whisky to keep the jury drunk for several days, to stave off 
an agreement. Consequently, when the verdict was finally 
handed in, the ground had all been worked out by the 
defendant, and the gold safely tied up in a buckskin sack. 
This case is typical of many lawsuits, in which the meat 
of the nut is gone before the contest is finally decided. 
These stories are both founded upon fact. 

Ever since the first discovery, miners have rocked and 
are still rocking out grold in Rockerville gulch, and making 
good wages. 

Around Rockerville there exists a vast deposit of cement 
containing gold and silver, which, by systematic, intelli- 
gent operations, may yet be made to yield a fortune to the 
operators, In this deposit is included the once famous 
"Mineral Hill " property, upon which at an early date a 
ten-stamp mill was erected and unsuccessfull}' operated for 
a short time. 


The town now contains about a dozen resident families, 
has a good hotel, a post-office, and a flourishing school. 
The Rapid City & Keystone stage line passes through the 
town, giving it additional vitality. 


There are a few other mining camps in Pennington 
County that figured more or less prominently in the drama 
of its early history — notably, Castleton and Sitting Bull 
on Castle creek, and Silver City on Rapid creek. The two 
former both owe their origin to the discovery of placer 
gold on that stream in 1876. The site of Castleton was 
laid out in July of that year, and considerable money was 
expended in a futile attempt to put in bed-rock flumes, 
which enterprise had to be abandoned on account of the 
depth of the deposit and the impossibility of obtaining 
sufficient fall for dumping purposes. However, thousands 
upon thousands of placer gold have been taken from the 
hills and bars along that stream, some of which are still 
profitably worked. Some of the most promising quartz 
mines in the Black Hills are located on Castle creek in the 
vicinity of Lookout, which will, by the application of 
scientific treatment to their ores, become rich gold-pro- 
ducers. Silver City was early brought into prominence by 
the discovery of wonderfully rich silver as well as gold- 
bearing ledges in its vicinity, which are to-day attracting 
the attention of capital seeking profitable investment. 


Keystone, the youngest and now richest of the mining 
camps of Pennington County, is situated in among the rug- 
ged hills bordering on upper Battle creek, about seven 
miles southwest of Rockerville. It dates its short history 
from 1891, and owes its present prosperity mostly to the 


-successful operations of the Holy Terror Gold Mining Co. 
The following is a summary history of the mines to which 
Keystone owes its origin and present prestige : — 

The Keystone mine was located in December, 1891, by 
Wm. B. Franklin, Thomas C. Blair, and Jacob Reed, who 
in 1892 sold the property to a number of St. Paul capital- 
ists organized under the name of the Keystone Gold Mining 
Co. In the fall of 1892 the company erected a twenty-stamp 
mill and put it in operation on the mine first with Major A. 
J. Simmons as superintendent and general manager, and 
later under the management of Col. L. R. Stone, of St, 

This company operated the mill with more or less con- 
tinuity until the property was bonded by the Holy Terror 
Gold Mining Co. in the fall of 1897. During its opera- 
tion it is claimed that the ore of the mine averaged $7.50 
per ton. 

The Holy Terror Lode was located by Wm. B. Franklin 
and Thos. C. Blair, on June 28th, 1894, and was subse- 
quently sold to John J. Fayel of Keystone, John S. George, 
and other Milwaukee capitalists, organized under the name 
of the Holy Terror Gold Mining Company. The company 
erected a ten-stamp mill at the mine, which has since been 
operated under the supervision of John J. Fayel, one of 
the owners of the property. The ore from the Holy Terror 
is mostly free milling and of high grade, averaging, it is 
asserted, from $15 to $20 per ton of ore, which, judging 
from the monthly dividends already paid to its stockhold- 
ers, is not an overestimate. Since September, 1897, when 
the first dividend was paid, the company has issued checks 
in the sum of $108,000 in payment of dividends, which, con- 
sidering the heavy expenditures for machinery and the loss 
resulting from a large amount of dead work on the mine, 
is a remarkable showing for a ten-stamp mill. 

The two mines, whiqh are only 500 feet apart, are being 
connected by cuts from the lower levels of the respective 


mines, and when the option of the Holy Terror Company on 
the Keystone property matures, and the deal is consummated , 
the consolidated mines will include under one management 
the richest vein of permanence yet discovered in the Black 
Hills. With the additional twenty stamps to the Keystone 
battery contemplated, the two mills will have an aggregate 
of fifty stamps, which, when put in operation on the prop- 
erty, should, according to the rules of simple proportion, 
make it no mean rival to the great Homestake in the pay- 
ment of dividends. It will certainly disprove the erstwhile 
claim that no rich gold ledges existed outside of the great 
northern "belt." 

In the vicinity of Keystone there is also a ten-stamp 
custom mill, owned by D. B. Ingram & Company, which 
runs on ore from the " Big Hit," " Bismarck," " Bullion," 
"Lucky Boy," and " Tom Austin" mines, all of which 
have proved to be rich producing properties. 

Keystone contains a present population of 1,500, and has 
two church organizations, the Congregational and Metho- 
dist, a large school, but as yet no school building. The 
camp has one newspaper establishment, three hotels, two 
assay offices, and about twenty-five other business places 
of various kinds. The site of Keystone is patented for 
placer ground and owned for the most part by the Holy 
Terror Mining Company. 

One of the first permanent settlers in the vicinity of 
Keystone was Fred. J. Cross. Mr. Cross came to that local- 
ity early in 1877, long before the Keystone, Holy Terror, 
or any other of the promising mines thereabout, saw the 
light of day. In his cosy cabin, among the spruces and 
the pines of Buckeye gulch, he has lived ever since, and 
moreover, during the years he has gathered in his cabin a 
collection of rich ore specimens and rare curios, that is 
worth going a long journey to see. Mr. Cross was Custer 
County's first Register of Deeds, having been appointed 
to that office by Governor Pennington in the spring of 



1877. He was also twice elected County Commissioner of 
Pennington County, and is a member of its present Board. 
The other small hamlets and post-offices in Pennington 
County are Silver City, Merritt, Lookout, Redfern, Mystic, 
Laverne, Moulton, Dakota City, Creston, and Farming- 






Lawrence County originally extended from the two 
branches of the Cheyenne river on the east, to Wyoming 
Territory on the west, and the Belle Fourche on the north 
to Pennington County on the south, measuring eighty-seven 
miles in length from east to west by an average width of 
about twenty-four miles from north to south, comprising 
an area of a little more than 2,000 square miles, but by 
reason of subsequent encroachments upon its original 
domain, it has been cut down to its present limitations. In 
running the line of Butte County in 1883, a strip of nearly 
six miles in width was cut off, along the northern boundary, 
and when in 1889 Lawrence and Meade counties came to 
the parting of their ways, the latter took with it the east- 
ern portion comprising more than one-half of its original 

The county of Lawrence is now bounded on the north 
by Butte County ; on the east by Meade ; on the south by 
Pennington County; and on the west by Wyoming, measur- 
ing in length from north to south twenty-four miles, by 
thirty miles in width from east to west, making an area of 
720 square miles. 

While Lawrence County is the smallest in superficial area, 
in point of wealth and population it is the most important of 
the Black Hills counties, containing over half of their entire 
population, and a proportionate amount of their accumu- 
lated wealth. 

The gold-bearing region of the county, which lies mostly 
within a radius of six miles of Deadwood, consists of 
extremely bold and rugged hills, which descend abruptly 


to the plains on the north, the streams having a descent of 
from 150 to 200 feet per mile until reaching the open 
plains, while the region around their headwaters on the 
southwest is comparatively level. The principal streams 
draining the area of Lawrence County are the Redwater, 
Spearfish, False Bottom, and Whitewood creeks, the Spear- 
fish being the longest and largest stream wholly within the 
county, carrying a large volume of water throughout the 
year to the Redwater river. Along the valleys of these 
streams and Centennial prairie are the richest and best 
developed agricultural lands in Lawrence County. Here 
and there through the county are considerable areas of 
elevated prairie land, notably Boulder Park, which con- 
tains hundreds of acres of fine grazing land, — portions of 
which are adapted to agricultural purposes. 

The first meeting of the commissioners, appointed to 
organize Lawrence County, was held at Crook City in 
April, 1877, from which it appears to have been the orig- 
inal intention of the board to locate the county seat at that 
point, which was then thought by some to be the coming 
town of the Black Hills. Contrary to their original inten- 
tion, however, although large inducements were offered in 
the way of town lots, by the people of Crook Cit}', the 
board adjourned to Deadwood without, it is believed, trans- 
acting any business. At the adjourned meeting the county 
was organized and named Lawrence, in honor of Col. John 
Lawrence, the county's first treasurer, at which time the 
temporary county seat was located at Deadwood, which, in 
the following November, was chosen the permanent capital 
by the popular vote of the county. 

The first oflScers of Lawrence County were as follows : — 
Commissioners, Fred. T. Evans, John Wolzmuth, and 
A. W. Lavender; Sheriff, Seth Bullock; Treasurer, John 
Lawrence ; Register of Deeds, Jas. Hand; Probate Judge, 
C. E. Hanrahan ; Prosecuting Attorney, A. J. Fianner; 
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chas. McKinnis; 
Assessor, James; Coroner, Dr, Babcock. 


During the following May a change was made, and Chas. 
McKinnis was appointed Judge of Probate and C. E. Han- 
rahan. Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Judge Granville G. Bennett was appointed first Judge of 
the Black Hills Circuit Court and Gen. A. R. Z. Dawson, 
first Clerk of Courts. 

Prior to the election in November, 1877, the commis- 
sioners divided the county into four voting precincts, viz. : 
Deadwood, Gayville (changed to Troy), Crook City, and 
Spearfish, and at the election the following county officers 
were chosen for one year: — 

Commissioners, Jas. Ryan, B. Whitson, and Geo. Gates; 
Sheriff, John Manning; Register of Deeds, Chas. McKin- 
nis; Treasurer, Brigham; Judge of Probate, L. W. 

Kuykendall; Prosecuting Attorney, Joseph Miller. 

Large expenditures were made by the county during the 
first two years after its organization, in the construction of 
roads and bridges throughout the county, many of which 
were badly damaged or entirely washed away by the dis- 
astrous flood of 1883. The damage, however, was soon 
repaired and put in better condition than before. 

During the first year after the inauguration of the public 
school system, fourteen schools were established in Law- 
rence County, the first of which is claimed to have been 
taught at Central City. 

The courts of Lawrence County were held in a rented 
building on Main street, until 1879, when the commissioners 
purchased of Fred. T. Evans a two-story brick structure, 
designed for a business house, which was converted into 
the present courthouse of Lawrence County at a cost of 

The assessed valuation of Lawrence County in 1898 
amounted to $4,442,628.00, its total indebtedness to $431,- 
250.00, and its population in 1896 was 27,000, which con- 
stitutes more than one-half of the entire population of the 
Black Hills. 



Deadvvood entered upon the second year of its history 
with increased assurances of permanency and prosperity. 
The rich placer deposits of Deadwood, Whitewood, and 
other gulches, were supplemented by new discoveries of 
extensive areas of deep gravel and rich hill diggings, from 
which multiplied thousands were later mined; the quartz 
ledges in the vicinity, too, were beginning to yield their 
tribute of gold, all of which found its way to the great 
center of trade, Deadwood. During its second year, 
capital began to make its appearance, and here and there, 
a number of two-story substantial business blocks reared 
their imposing individualities above the medley of one-story 
structures, thrown up at haphazard during the excite- 
ment of the first year, and several new and important 
enterprises were inaugurated. 

Early in 1877 two daily newspapers were established in 
Deadwood, to reproduce the strange sights and sounds, and 
chronicle the comedies and tragedies of the thronged city 
and the mining camps round about. Of these the Dead- 
wood Daily Times was the first, the initial number appear- 
ing on April 7th, 1877, under the editorial management 
and sole proprietorship of Porter Warner, who has ably 
conducted the enterprise, and alone controlled its destinies 
through the vicissitudes of a little more than twenty years. 

On the 15th of May following, the Black Hills Weekly 
Pioneer f whose history has already been told, was con- 
verted into a daily paper. 

In the early part of 1877, two new banking institutions 
were opened in Deadwood, to aid those previously estab- 
lished in furnishing exchange for the immense gold dust 
production, and a safe deposit for the surplus earnings of 
the miners. The first of these was opened by Stebbins, 
Wood & Post in a building erected on that part of Lee 
street now occupied by the First National Bank building. 
It may be remembered by then residents of Deadwood, 


that while this building was in process of construction, in 
the latter part of March, 1877, several armed men were 
stationed around the site to protect the workmen from ex- 
pected interference by the city marshal, or the owners of 
the corner lot on the north. 

Be it known that the public street was being appropri- 
ated for building purposes contrary to the letter and spirit 
of the rules and regulations governing the city — hence the 
precaution. Among those defiant guards who stood grim 
and determined, with guns well in hand, were Noah Siever 
and the unfortunate Ed. Durham, both of whom will be 
well remembered by all old-timers of Deadvvood. No phy- 
sical force was used, however, but whether through fear of 
the threatening attitude of the builders, or indifference 
as to the blocking of the street, which runs plump into a 
steep hill directly in the rear, is a matter of conjecture. 
At any rate the building was rushed to a speedy comple- 
tion, taking but three or four days to finish the structure 
from foundation to roof, and was immediately let to W. 
R. Stebbins, who associated with Wood & Post, opened its 
doors for business on April 6th, 1877, with a cash capital 
of $10,000.00. This important event in Deadwood's his- 
tory was inaugurated by a grand ball that night in the 
Grand Central Hotel. 

The building, a two-story frame shell, was owned by 
Messrs. Siever, Durham, Hamilton, and Scott, and was let 
by them to the banking firm at an annual rental, it is 
stated, of $3,000.00, the upper story being subrented by 
Porter Warner for the office of the Dendwood Daily Times, 
established something more than a month later. An ex- 
ceedingly tragic event is recalled at the mention of the name 
of one of the owners of this building — a tragedy which 
sent one man swiftly into eternity, and another through 
the portals of a gloomy prison. 

It was one Sunday in early April, 1878, that the unfor- 
tunate Ed. Durham entered a place called " Progressive 
Hall," located a few doors below the corner of Lee and 



Main street on the north, for the last time. He had been 
there before, it appears, on the same mission, and demanded 
the immediate settlement of an account which he held 
against the proprietor, Chris. Hoffman. A quarrel ensued. 


during which Durham, goaded and desperate, quickly and 
with true aim, leveled his six-shooter and fired, killing 
Hoff'man instantly. Notwithstanding the fact that civil 
law was in force at that time, the friends of the murdered 
man made an active effort to work up a sentiment among the 
people, in favor of meting out summary punishment to the 



guilty man, which, however, was frowned down by their 
better sense and the law was permitted to take its course. 

Durham was tried by Judge Alanson H. Barnes, who at 
the time was holding court for Judge Bennett, and by him 
sentenced to twelve years in the Yankton penitentiary, but 
after serving eight years of his sentence he was released on 
the petition of the people of the Hills, to which he never 
returned, that being a condition of his release. 

The second to establish a bank in 1877 was the firm of 
Brown & Thum, who erected a bank building on the 
northwest corner of Main and Lee streets, and opened its 
doors for business in the latter part of May of that year. 
Who, of the then residents of Deadwood, will not remem- 
ber the two-story structure, whose marble-blocked facade 
loomed up so conspicuously above its less pretentious 
neighbors on the left of the bank of Stebbins, Wood & 
Post? It may be recalled, too, that the opening of the 
bank was made the occasion of a grand social function 
gotten up by prominent gentlemen of Deadwood for the 
night of May 24th, 1877, in compliment to the enterprising 
firm ; and perchance there are some yet in Deadwood who, 
on that occasion, were prominent figures on the floor of the 
gaily decorated and brilliantly lamp-lighted building, where 
about fifty couples of Deadwood's fair women and brave 
men trod the '* giddy mazes " to the enchanting strains of 
a six-piece orchestra. The decorations, menu, etc., of that 
old-time social affair were under the especial charge of 
Messrs. Amerman & Sutherland, of the General Custer 
House, who acquitted themselves with honor to themselves 
and credit to the occasion. 


In April, 1877, a regular United States post-office 
was established in Deadwood with R. O. Adams as its 
first postmaster, the first office being opened on Sher- 
man street, South Deadwood. Mr. Adams continued in 
office until May or June, 1879, when he abdicated, and was 


succeeded by Sol. Star, who occupied the office until 1881, 
when he was succeeded by J. A. Harding. In 1882 the 
office was removed from Sherman to Main street, where 
it has since remained. The Dead wood post-office, from the 
standpoint of receipts and disbursements through the office, 
is one of the most important in South Dakota to-day. 


The first religious organization in Deadwood was formed 
by the Congregational Society in the fall of 1876, and their 
first church edifice was built during the early part of 1877, 
the first service being held in the building in July of that 
year (see Chapter of First Events). 

Thejecond was formed by the Methodist society, which 
was organized in the fall of 1877, by Rev. Jas. Williams, 
who was sent to the Black Hills missionary field from the 
Northwestern Iowa conference. In December, 1880, the 
society was incorporated under the name of the First Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church of Deadwood. A lot was purchased 
at the corner of Pine and Water streets at a cost of $1,000, 
and subsequently a church building erected thereon. Despite 
the bulkhead that had been erected to protect the property 
against the annual high tides of Whitewood creek, the 
building and lot, from spire to bed-rock, was remorselessly 
swept away by the disastrous flood of 1883. 

The Roman Catholics, too, were early in the field. 
Father John Lonegan, who was sent to the Black Hills by 
Bishop O'Connor, of Omaha, said his first mass in a shop 
belonging to Mr. Webster, on Sherman street, on the 22d 
of May, 1877. During the summer of 1877 a small church 
building was erected on the site now occupied by the Cath- 
olic church of Deadwood, on Williams street. 

The society which formed the nucleus of the now flour- 
ishing Episcopal church of Deadwood was organized during 
the summer of 1878. Rev. E. J. K. Lessell was appointed 
missionary to the Black Hills in July of that year by Bishop 
Hare, who, made his first visit to the Hills in the following 


October. In September, 1880, he again visited Deaclwood, 
and on the 12lh of that month hiid the corner-stone of the 
church. On Easter Sunday, April 17th, 1881, the first 
service was held, with Kev. Geo. C. Pennell as minister. 

The first public school building in Deadwood — a two- 
story frame structure — was erected near the corner of 
Pine and Water streets in the fall of 1877, and later, in the 
fall of the same year. Prof. Dolph Edwards, assisted by 
Miss Eva Deffenbacher, opened and taught Deadwood' s 
first public school. 

The first company of the Deadwood Fire Department to 
organize was the Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company, in 
June, 1877, which was also, doubtless, the first organization 
of the kind in the Black Hills. The preliminary meeting 
for the organization of this company was held on June 19th, 
1877, at which time the kind and name of the company to 
be organized was decided upon, and a committee on organ, 
ization, consisting of W. J. Thornby, John Manning, and 
Robert Chew, was appointed. On the 25th of June the 
organization was completed with John Manning as Fore- 
man ; H. B. Beeman, First Assistant ; John Worth, Second 
Assistant ; and James McPherson, Treasurer ; and on the 
roster of members appeared the names of sixty-four of 
Deadvvood's business men. A hundred canvas buckets and 
the running gear of an old wagon fitted up as a hook and 
ladder truck, constituted the equipment of this pioneer fire 

In January, 1879, the first hose company was organized, 
but disbanded before the great fire in September of that 

In December, 1879, the South Deadwood and Homestake 
companies were organized, and joined the department. 
According to the annual report of Chief Frawley to the 
Mayor and City Council, the Deadwood Fire Department 
in 1898 consisted of five companies, with an aggregate of 
15(5 energetic firemen, the equipment of the department 
consisting of eight hose carts, 4,200 feet of good hose, a 


hook and ladder truck, n fifty-five gallon chemical engine, 
banners and regalia for service and display. 

During the two succeeding years, the major part of the 
nondescript shacks that had sprung up in a day, were torn 
down, and in their stead appeared more solid business 
structures, and banking, mercantile, and other kinds of 
legitimate enterprises multiplied in proportion. 

On September 1st, 1878, the First National Bank, — 
believed to be the first legitimate banking institution in the 
Black Hills, was organized with L. R. Graves as President, 
and S. N. Wood as Cashier, the original institution chauoj- 
ing hands in August, 1879, when O. J. Salisbury became 
President; D. K. Dickinson, Vice-President; and D. A. 
McPherson, Cashier. The first building occupied by this 
bank, which was identical with the structure erected on 
Lee street, and rented, but subsequently purchased, by Steb- 
bins, Wood & Post, in 1877, was destroyed by the fire of 
1879, but the books, papers, etc., were preserved in the 
vault and the business was continued in a new building of 
brick and iron, soon after constructed, which is occupied 
by the First National Bank of Deadwood to-day. 

The next was a private bank opened by Stebbins, Post, 
& Mund, in March, 1879, with a capital stock of $20,000.00 
which it was soon found necessary to increase to $50,- 
000.00. In November of the same year the private concern 
was merged into the Merchants' National Bank, which 
opened with a capital stock of $100,000, and was officered 
as follows: W. R. Stebbins, President ; Seth Bullock, Vice- 
president; and Alvin Fox, Cashier. A new brick bank 
building, when on the verge of completion, was destroyed 
by the great fire of 1879. 

On the day succeeding the fire, work was commenced on 
a new structure which was completed in 1880, the bank 
meanwhile continuing business in a temporary building. 

Those early banking establishments were prosperous in- 
stitutions, their aggregate business reaching up into mill- 
ions of dollars annually. The early bullion product of the 


Hills which was handled by these banks was in itself no 
small factor in making up the sum total. 


There being but scant room for expansion in the con- 
tracted valleys below, the rapidly increasing homes, un- 
able to find a respectable foothold on the lower levels, 
began to climb higher and higher up the steep slope of 
Forest Hill and also to extend up the forking defiles of 
Whitewood and Deadwood gulches, and on to the low 
plateaus of the former stream. In fact Deadwood had 
nearly outgrown the fortuitous conditions of its origin, 
when the first great calamity befell the ambitious young 

On the night of September 25th, 1879, a little fire was 
accidentally kindled which spread with the rapidity of a 
race-horse over nearly the entire business portion of the 
town, leaving nothing in its wide pathway but heaps of 
ashes and masses of smoking ruins. The destruction was 
speedy and complete. 

The next morning's sun that had last set upon a pros- 
perous business community rose upon a widely different 
scene. Hundreds of people, — men and women, — many 
of the latter who had fled precipitately up from the pursu- 
ing flames, in scanty attire, lined the slope of Forest Hill, 
and looked helplessly down upon the smouldering ruins of 
their property and in many instances their homes. 

The fire originated in the Empire bakery, a frame build- 
ing located in a well-built-up portion of Sherman street, 
kept by Mrs. EUsner. The fire quickly spread and com- 
municated with the hardware store of Jensen & Bliss in 
the same block, in which kegs of black powder were 
stored. The fire spreading rapidly, soon after the building 
was wrapped in flames and the powder ignited, when there 
occurred a terrific explosion which sent a shower of burn- 
ing cinders broadcast over the doomed city. In a few 
moments the Welch House on Lee street was ablaze, thence 


the fire leaped onto Main street, clown which it sped from 
one inflammable structure to another, until the whole of 
that portion of the town from the old courthouse north, 
to Williams street and to Chinatown on the south, was in 
one continuous blaze. As the various explosives Avere 
reached on its swift pace down Main street explosion after 
explosion took place, expediting the work of destruction 
and adding to the terror of the already stricken people. 

As Deadwood at that time had no perfected water sys- 
tem for fire purposes nothing could be done to stay the 
progress of the fire, it only stopping at last for lack of 
material to feed upon. Every building, brick and frame, 
from Pine and Sherman streets to Chinatown, covering an 
area of about one-half by one-quarter of a mile, was con- 
sumed with their contents ; the bank vaults and a few fire- 
proof store houses alone withstanding the destructive 

The fire of 1879 was to Deadwood what the great fire of 
1871 was to Chicago, only the blow fell more heavily on 
the former, in that it was hundreds of miles by wagon 
road away from its base of supplies. 

By a singular coincidence a woman was innocently at the 
root of both disasters, and, moreover, there is another point 
of similarity. 

The business men of Deadwood, with the same Western 
pluck and determination, proceeded without delay to rear 
upon the ruins a far more beautiful and enduring city. 

The business men of Deadwood believed in the old adage 
which says : " There's no use in crying over spilled milk," 
so, putting their convictions into practice instead of fold- 
ing their hands and shedding unavailing tears over the 
dreadful calamity, they at once buckled to the work of 
rebuilding new structures upon the ashes of the old, and 
starting anew. They immediately, by telegram, ordered 
new stocks of goods to be forwarded by express to Dead- 
wood, procured lumber from the nearest sawmill, and pro- 
ceeded to rake away the smoking ruins from the hot founda- 


tions upon which the temporary buildings were erected and 
opened for business within twenty-four hours after the 
burning. Within forty-eight hours thereafter, foundations 
were laid for several brick blocks, which in ninety days 
were finished and ready for occupancy. The work of 
rebuilding was continued until the entire burnt area was 
covered with substantial structures, of material capable of 
resisting to a great degree the action of the destructive 

It may be said that Deadwood practically dates its per- 
manency from the great conflagration of 1879. A better 
order of affairs, such as could not have been hoped for 
under its former regime, was soon established, placing the 
town upon a more progressive basis as well as a more 
dignified plane. 


On the 30th day of June, 1879, the commissioners of 
Lawrence County in behalf of the city of Deadwood, 
entered into contract with the Black Hills Canal & Water 
Co. to supply the city with water for a period of twenty 
years, and on the 29th day of October of the same year 
the system was completed. The supply of water for the 
system is obtained from mountain springs on City, Spring, 
and Elk creeks, and conducted through about eight miles 
of bed-rock flumes and pipes to large reservoirs, situated 
on a hill overlooking City creek, over 200 feet above Main 
street, and thence distributed through pipes to every part 
of the city. From this elevation the pressure of the water 
is great, obviating the necessity of engines for fire pur- 
poses. All that Deadwood's eflScient fire laddies have to do, 
in case of fire, is to remove the plugs, attach the hose, when 
the water rushes through them with the force of a catapult. 
When the contract with the Black Hills Canal & Water Co. 
expires in October, 1899, Deadwood will, perhaps, estab- 
lish a water system of her own. 

In the spring of 1882, the Black Hills Telephone Ex- 


-change was established in Deadwood, by W. M. and J. L. 
Baird, and the system now, with its 300 or more miles of 
wire outside of the city, puts its citizens in convenient 
speaking communication with every city and camp of im- 
portance in the Black Hills. 


In 1881 Deadwood was incorporated as a city, by act of 
the Territorial Legislature, and separated into four wards, 
each ward being represented by two members to the Com- 
mon Council. By this act, Deadwood, South Deadwood, 
Cleveland, Ingleside, Elizabethtown, Chinatown, Fountain 
City, Montana City, and other hamlets clustering around 
Deadwood, were incorporated into one city. From the time 
of this union of municipal interests, the rivalry and strained 
relations which had from the first existed between Dead- 
wood and South Deadwood were reduced to a minimum. 
Judge D. McLaughlin was first Mayor of Greater Deadwood. 


In March, 1881, a Board of Education was provided for 
by act of the Legislature, and the consolidated city was 
constituted an independent school district, subdivided into 
four wards, each ward being represented by two members 
of the Board of Education. 

During the same year, the cit}' voted to issue bonds for 
school purposes to the amount of $12,000 ; and two school 
buildings were erected, one in the first ward (Elizabeth- 
town), and a large central brick building, in the third 
ward, which building was swept away by the flood of 1883. 


In 1881, the Deadwood Flouring Mill Company, consist- 
ing of Sol. Star, Seth Bullock, and Harris Franklin, was 
organized, and a fine steam plant, with a capacity of 150 
pounds of flour per day, was erected during the same year, 
at a cost of $60,000 for building and equipments. The 


grain used by this mill, when in operation, was grown 
exclusively in and around the Black Hills, and no better 
wheat is produced in the world than is grown in the fertile 
valleys of the Hills, and no better flour was ever manufac- 
tured than the old Board of Trade flour, turned out by the 
Dead wood Steam Flouring Mill. The industry is now at a 
standstill, owing, it is alleged, to a lack of a suflBcient 
supply of native grain. 

Several other important manufacturing industries were 
established in Deadwood about that period of its history, 
such as brick, sash and door manufactories, iron foundries, 
wagon factories, planing mills, etc., the latter turning out 
millions of feet of dressed lumber annually from timber 
cut from the surrounding: forests. 

The usual secret orders and benevolent associations com- 
mon to cities of its class were early organized in Dead- 
wood, viz. : Masonic, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, 
Miners' Union, Liberal League, etc. The first steps taken 
toward the organization of Masonic and Odd Fellow lodges 
were away back in 1876, on the occasion of the funerals of 
Isaac Brown and Chas. Holland, as before recorded. 


In the midst of its prosperity, however. Dead wood's prog- 
ress was rudely arrested by the great flood of 1883. As 
it has been written, and graphically written, too, doubtless 
every one in the Black Hills is already familiar with the 
story. Yet, realizing that no history of Deadwood will be 
quite complete without, at least, a brief record of an event 
which caused such incalculable destruction of property 
coupled with loss of life, a condensed account of the cause 
and disastrous effects of the great deluge is appended. 

It may uot be out of place to preface the account with a 
brief reference to a previous, but far less disastrous, flood, 
which visited Deadwood in 1878, and which might have 
served as a warning to its citizens of the dangerous possi- 
bilities of the situation. This flood occurred it is thouo;ht 


soon after the phenomenal snow-fall in the spring of 1878, 
which no one living in the Hills at the time is liable to 
forget. Yet it may have been somewhat later in the year. 

It Avas in 1878 that the swollen streams of Deadwood 
and Whitewood rushed down the sjulches and, after unitint; 
their waters below, carried from their foundations a num- 
ber of small structures that had encroached too closely upon 
the borders of the latter stream. It would not have been 
quite so damaging, perhaps, hud not a dam that had be- 
come gorged above on Whitewood creek given way to the 
pressure, letting or rather precipitating an avalanche of 
water which swept in great waves ten or more feet deep 
down the valley, flooding the buildings on the lower levels;, 
and undermining the Welch House on Lee street to such 
an extent, that there was imminent danger of its toppling 
over into the turbulent stream. 

In connection with this flood an act of heroism is recalled 
which is worthy of record. When the avalanche of water 
came, a rather slightly built man was seen struggling 
bravely through the water nearly waist deep towards a 
building near a Deadwood street bridge, in the door of 
which stood knee-deep in water, a stout woman of 200 
pounds avoirdupois, calling lustily for help. Upon reach- 
ing the imperiled woman, he clasped his arms around her 
ample waist, and gallantly but pantingly bore her safely to 
higher ground, I meanwhile standing on the opposite side 
of the street in two feet of water laughing heartily at the 
ludicrous spectacle. That man was a hero, and his name 
was John Meade, of the firm of Robert Chew &Co., located 
on Lee street, whom doubtless many of the old-timers will 
remember. As the incident is not essential to this history 
the name of the recued woman is withheld. But I have 
digressed and will now return to the more important story 
of the flood of 1883. 

It was in the early part of May, 1883, about the usual 
time for the final breaking up of winter in the Black Hills, 
that a heavy snowstorm broke over the northern Hills 


which, supplemented by a warm protracted rain, accelerated 
the melting of the unusually heavy snows that had accu- 
mulated in tbe mountains during the previous winter, 
bringing down small rivers of waters through hundreds of 
gulches and ravines into the main streams, which went 
coursing madly on down the narrow valleys to the doomed 
city, sweeping everything in its pathway and leaving 
devastation and death behind. 

About the middle of May the situation became alarming 
but nothing could be done to avert the impending calamity, 
more than to remove valuable property to places of safety. 
All that day the ever-increasing volume of water came 
rushing down from above, piling up its freight of trees, 
roots, branches, lumber, logs, sluice boxes, cordwood, and 
all sorts of debris against the Lee street bridge, despite the 
herculean efforts of the citizens of Dead wood to clear the 
way of obstructions. Towards evening the irresistible cur- 
rent turned and found for itself a new channel through the 
city. By order of the city authorities a number of build- 
ings that stood in the track of the water were speedily torn 
down and removed to prevent its further spread. All the 
night through, with the appalling roar of the mighty tor- 
rent sounding in their ears like a veritable Niagara, the 
firemen and numerous citizens struggled valiantly to re- 
lieve the gorged condition of the channels, while others 
were engaged in removing valuable property from such 
buildings as seemed destined to destruction. That was a 
terrible night, the like of which the people of Deadwood 
would not care to have repeated. 

Comparatively little damage was done by the flood on 
Whitewood creek until reaching the toll gate below the 
mouth of Gold Run, where the toll house was carried from 
its foundation, and its three occupants, Mr. and Mrs. G. 
W. Chandler, and Gustave Holthausen, drowned. These 
unfortunate people had left the building but had returned 
to save some household goods, when the house with its 
inmates was suddenly swept into the boiling flood. At 



Cleveland, the waters overleaped their natural barrier, car- 
ryino- awav a number of residences that stood in their 
course, then on down the street rushed the torrent, which 


soon cut its way around theOaulkhead that had been erected 
to protect the public property and with one mighty sweep 
struck first the public school building, then the Methodist 


church, picking them up as if mere toys and carrying them 
with their foundations in broken fragments down the swift 

Meanwhile Deadwood creek on the opposite side of the 
narrow divide came rushing frantically down the gulch, 
bearing on its turbulent bosom all kinds of flotsam from 
the upper camps, as if eager seemingly to join its twin 
sister in a mutual work of destruction below. 

Although the several little hamlets clustering around 
Central City suffered greatly by the flood, the greatest 
damage was sustained by the placer mines along Deadwood 
gulch ; especially heavy was the loss to Messrs- Allen and 
Thompson, whose extensive and expensive bed-rock flume 
and bulkhead was either entirely washed away or irrecov- 
erably buried beneath an accumulation of sand, gravel, and 

Alter the subsidence of the flood, Deadwood and its en- 
vironments presented a very sorry aspect, in fact all of the 
gulches from the sources of the streams to the plains was 
a scene of complete wreckage and destruction. The loss 
to Deadwood as a city, and to its individual citizens, was 
enormous, as besides those destroyed by the authority of 
the city, many buildings, as well as other valuable property, 
were entirely swept away, and many more were badly dam- 
aged by the flood — amounting, it is estimated, to an 
aggregate loss of from $250,000 to $300,000. 

The blow was a telling one to the business men of Dead- 
wood, but, with wonderful recuperative powers they soon 
rallied to the work of repairing damages. Bridges were 
rebuilt, streets were repaired and graded up, and business 
buildings were placed upon a more substantial foundation 
than before the flood, and moreover, to gruard against anv 
future escapades, the unruly streams were curbed with an 
enormous bulkhead or crib, which was first constructed 
from Deadwood street to Wall street, but afterwards ex- 
tended at each extremity, until now it is over a mile in 



The structure is built up from bed-rock of heavy timbers 
in the form of cribs or sections, and solidly filled in with 
heavy boulders and coarse sand, forming a perfect safe- 
guard to the city against future floods. 

A new two-story school building of brick was soon after 
erected, far above high-water mark, beyond the possible 
reach of floods. Since, another school buildinsr has been 
erected at Ingleside, in the third ward. 




Deadwood has largely expanded, both in material growth 
and commercial importance, since its recovery from the 
overwhelming disaster of 1883, and all evidences of the 
terrible baptism of fire and flood through which it has 
passed have long been obliterated. The narrow valley 
has been widened, fine brick and stone blocks have been 
erected along the main thoroughfares of the greater city, 
indicating the prosperity of its merchants along the differ- 
ent lines of trade, extensive commercial enterprises have 
been established within the city limits, which justly entitle 
it to the distinction of being the commercial metropolis of 
the Black Hills; as a matter of fact it could not, in the 
nature of things, be otherwise. Its advantageous situation 
in the practical center of the great northern gold belt, sur- 
rounded by hills whose product comes to the valley as 
naturally as comes the water from their slopes, and the 
superior facilities afforded for the treatment of all kinds 
of rebellious ore, with which they abound, makes Dead- 
wood a commercial necessity. 


To its finely equipped reduction plants, more than to 
any other factor, Deadwood owes its present commercial 
prestige and importance. As is well known, prior to about 
1890 the greater part of the bullion product of the Hills 
was derived from the low grade deposits of the free mill- 
ing belt which yield readily to the ordinary treatment of 
stamp mill and amalgamation, while vast bodies of rich 
gold ore, carrying metals difiicult of separation, were lying 

ir.Xkii. ' ""'Mt^^A 


practically valueless in the ground for lack of proper facili- 
ties, or perhaps, it would better be said, want of knowl- 
edge of their correct treatment. Science at last solved the 

By the continued and persistent experiments of metal- 
lurgists, with the refractory ores of the Hills, two 
processes were finally discovered, which proved satisfac- 
tory — the chlorination and pyritic smelting — later experi- 
ment adc'ing a third, known as the cyanide process. 
These invaluable discoveries, the credit for which is largely 
due to Prof. Franklin R. Carpenter, of Deadwood, resulted 
in the immediate erection of the Golden Reward Chlorina- 
tion, and the Deadwood & Delaware Smelting plants. 

In 1887 the Golden Reward Company built their first 
plant, at an approximate cost of $200,000, which soon after 
its completion was destroyed by fire. The works were at 
once rebuilt, and put in operation, with a reducing capacity 
of 125 tons of ore per day. 

The Deadwood & Delaware Smelting Company built their 
first plant in 1888, at an expenditure for buildings, equip- 
ments and mines of some half million dollars, and put it in 
ope. ition, with a running capacity of 175 tons of ores per 

On the night of March 10th, 1898, as if by the irony of 
fate this costly plant was also destroyed by fire, but was 
immediately replaced b}- one of largely increased capacity, 
built entirely of steel, with greatly improved facilities for 
the handling and treatment of refractory ores. This 
immense pyritic smelting plant, which operates largely 
though not exclusively on custom ores, the company having 
numerous valuable raining properties of its own, produces, 
it is estimated, about $2,000,000 a year in gold. The 
institution, including smelter and mines, is under the 
general management of Piof. Frank R. Carpenter, of 

The third reduction works established within the limits 
of the city were built by the Gold and Silver Extraction, 



Mining & Milling Company, and employs the cyanide pro- 
cess, the plant having a capacity of seventy-five tons per 
day. These three plants, each employing different methods 
of treatment, together with the Kildonan Chloriuation 
works, erected in 1896 at Pluma, a short distance above 
Dead wood, brings the aggregate daily capacity of reduction 
to about 1,000 tons per day of ores which assay all the way 
from $15.00 to $500.00 in gold per ton, — ores which, 
prior to the establishment of these great enterprises, were 
permitted to lie idle where nature's processes placed them. 
An intricate network of narrow-gauge railroads brings 
the refractory ore product of the prolific districts of Bald 
Mountain, Ruby Basin, and Garden City, some miles away, 
and Spruce and Two-Bit gulches, near by, to these works 
for treatment, ta.xing them to their full capacity, with an 
ever growing demand for increased facilities. This com- 
paratively new business has been estimated at a monthly 
aggregate of a half million dollars. 

deadwood's first railroad. 

Up to 1890, Deadwood notwithsanding its local ad- 
vantages, lacked one of the chief requisites of complete 
commercial success, — outside railway communication. 
Until that time, barring the inter-urban, narrow-gauge 
short line, built between' Deadwood and Lead, it had no 
railroad, and for two years after the advent of the first 
railroad in the Black Hills it seemed somewhat problem- 
atical, owing to its geographical inaccessibility, whether 
the line would be extended to Deadwood or not. After 
two years of indecision, however, when the " Burlington " 
Railway Company turned its wonderful line in the direc- 
tion of the Black Hills, and was making rapid strides 
through the mountain fastnesses, towards Deadwood, engi- 
neering skill speedily solved the difficult problem. A 
branch road of the F. E. & M. V. Railway was built from 
Whitewood, and the first locomotive with passenger car 
attached, came steaming down the incline, through the 


long tunnel into Deudvvood, on the 29th chiy of December, 
1890. The line was later extended to the refactory ore 
district, around Bald Mountain, about nine miles west and 
south of Dead wood. 

On the 28th day of January, 1891, nearly a month later, 
the first passenger train of the Burlington & Missouri road, 
arrived over their line at Deadwood. Subsequently the 
Burlington & Missouri Company constructed a branch road 
from Englewood, on the main line, to Spearfish, about 
fourteen miles northwest from Deadwood, and perhaps no 
more wonderful feat of engineering skill was ever accom- 
plished. A trip over this marvelous piece of mountain 
railway — up the dizzy heights to the extreme summit of 
Bald Mountain, around through a labyrinth of lofty crags 
in perfectly bewildering curves, and a plunge down into 
and through the most beautiful canyon in the world (the 
Spearfish), is a revelation of grandeur and beauty unsur- 
passed, and the treat of a lifetime. The road winds its 
sinuous way through some of the most enchanting scenery 
to be found even in this land of scenic wonders, — some- 
times doubling on its track, over a route nearly forty miles 
in length to reach its terminus, only fourteen miles away, 
by the traveled highway. As one looks down from the 
summit of Bald Mountain on the mines far below, and the 
numerous narrow-gauge railways winding around the bases 
of the hills, it is difficult to conceive that but a few years 
ago, the whole visible expanse was an unbroken solitude, 
into whose wild depths it seems a mystery that man should 

The inter-urban narrow-gauge short line connecting Dead- 
wood and Lead, was built and equipped in the fall of 1890 
at a cost of $300,000 and is believed to be the first piece 
of strictly commercial railway constructed in the Black 

The promoter of the enterprise which brought the two 
most important towns of the northern Hills into speedy 
communication was a company composed of J. K. P. Miller 


Joseph Swift, W. H. Swift, Joseph Ogdeu, C. H. Graham, 
and V. P. Sweetman. Deadwood, though the last of the 
early towns of the Hills, except Spearfish, to be reached 
by outside railway, is to-day the railroad center of the 
Black Hills. 

The public spirit of the municipality has kept swift pace 
with its commercial growth and prosperity, as its well graded 
streets, its complete system of sewerage, and excellent elec- 
tric lighting system fully attest. Besides its five churches, 
its central and ward school buildings, its two-story brick 
Courthouse, and three-storied City Hull, it has the distinc- 
tion of being the location of a two-storied U. S. Govern- 
ment Assay building. 

Moreover, the private enterprise of its citizens has kept 
fully abreast of its public thrift. Two daily newspapers, 
the Pioneer Times and Independent^ and one weekly pub- 
lication, the Mining Review, represent the press. It is 
interesting to note that the Deadsvood Daily Pioneer Times 
enjoys the proud distinction of being a consolidation of the 
first weekly and the first daily newspapers ever published 
in the Black Hills, the Pioneer having been established as 
a weekly on June 8th, 1876, and the Times as a daily on 
May 7lh, 1877, the consolidation being effected on May 
15th, 1897. The paper is now conducted under the judi- 
cious and capable business management of W. H. Bonham, 
and is edited by Porter Warner, who had been editor and 
proprietor of the Daily Times from the date of its birth 
to that of its dissolution as an independent publication. 

The Indejyendent was established in 1889 by Freeman 
Knowles, but the enterprise is now under the control of a 
company, of which W. O. Temple, of Deadwood, is Presi- 
dent ; Judge Joseph B. Moore, Vice-president, and M. L. 
Fox, Secretary. The paper is now under the editorial 
management of M. L. Fox, with G. T. Jameson as Business 

The Mining Review , a paper devoted to statistics and other 
information relating to the mines and mining industries of 


the Hills, is published by A. W. Merrick, the first news- 
paper man in the Black Hills. (See Chapter of First 


Deadvvood now sustains two National banks — both 
flourishing institutions, whose business reaches up into the 
millions annually. The oldest of these is the First National 
Bank, whose history dates from away back in 1878. This 
bank, which is entitled to the distinction of being the first 
legitimate banking institution established in the Black 
Hills, received its charter, and opened its doors for busi- 
ness, on the site which it nosv occupies, on the first day of 
September, 1878, with L. R. Graves as its first President 
and S. N. Wood, formerly of the private banking firm of 
Stebbins, Wood & Post, as its first Cashier. In 1879 it 
changed management. The building first occupied was 
destroyed — all save the vault, by the fire of 1879, arid was 
replaced by the two-story brick structure occupied by the 
Firrit National Bank to-day. It now has a capital stock of 
$100,000.00, a surplus of $1 50,000.00, and undivided profits 
to the amount of $11,277.64 and is officered as follows: 
O. J. Salisbury, President ; T. J. Grier, Vice-President, 
and D. A. McPherson, Cashier. The ability of its man- 
agement is evidenced in the large amount of surplus held, 
exceeding by one-third its capital stock. 

The American National Bank opened for business on 
January 2, 1895. It has now a paid-up capital of $50,- 
000.00, a surplus of $10,000.00, and resources, totaling 
$689,382.40. Its present officers are: Harris Franklin, 
President; John Treber, Vice-President; Ben Baer, Cash- 
ier. Although a young institution, its property rests 
upon a solid foundation, and the success it has recorded 
thus far is a guarantee for the future under its conservative 

On February 14th, 1898, " The Deadwood Labor Union," 
was organized with the following officers, viz. : James 


Tuley, President; Thos. Brown, Vice-President; Thos. 
Carroll, Financial Secretary; Andrew Oleson, Recording 
Secretary; Frank Irons, Treasurer; and a membership of 

The Deadwood Labor Union building, a commodious 
two-story and basement structure, with stone foundation 
and press-brick front, covering an area of eighty by thirty 
feet, was completed in the early part of 1899, at a cost of 
$7,000 to the Union which owns the property. The growth 
of the organization has been phenomenal, having increased 
within the limits of a year from forty to four hundred and 
thirty-six members. 

In a volume like this it is plainly impracticable to note 
in detail the many and various kinds of business r — profes- 
sional, mercantile, etc., with which Deadwood is supplied; 
but well appointed and well patronized hotels indicate their 
popularity, and the tasteful display of all kinds of goods in 
the windows of dry goods, clothing, grocery, drug, fruit, 
and other stores bespeak the prosperty of its merchants, 
and the quality of trade along the different lines of trafhc. 

The bar of Deadwood, numbering about eighty, is com- 
posed of some of the ablest and shrewdest lawyers in the 
Wide West, where legal acumen is the almost universal rule 
and not the exception, among whom are such eminent jurists 
as Hons. Granville G. Bennett and Gideon C. Moody, who 
have both balanced to a nicety the scales of justice from 
the Black Hills bench, or eloquently pleaded for even- 
handed justice at the Black Hills bar, ever since the first 
establishment of law in 1877, and who have been intimately 
identified with its subsequent history. 

Judge Bennett came to Deadwood from Yankton, under 
appointment by President Hayes to establish regular 
courts in the Black Hills, and assume jurisdiction thereof, 
in April, 1877. He occupied the bench of the First Cir- 
cuit of the Territorial District Court, of which the Black 
Hills then formed a part, until September, 1878, when he 
resigned to accept the nomination as representative of the 


Deadwood'js Popular Major, 


Black Hills to the United States Congress, to which posi- 
tion he was elected. At the close of the session, Judofe 
Bennett returned to Deadwood, where he has since devoted 
himself to the practice of his profession, an honored mem- 
ber of the Deadwood bar. 

Judge G. C. Moody, then engaged in the practice of law 
in Yankton, Dakota Territory, was appointed to the bench 
made vacant by the resignation of Judge Bennett, by 
President Hayes, in October, 1878, which he occupied for 
his full term of four years. In 1885 he was chosen United 
States Senator by the Legislature of the provisional State 
Government of South Dakota, but, while himself and col- 
league, Alonzo J. Edgerton, were accorded especial con- 
sideration in Congress, they were not admitted to the full 
privileges of members of that body. On October 17th, 
1889, he and R. F. Pettigrew were chosen United States 
Senators by the iirst State Legislature of South Dakota, 
which convened at Pierre on the 15th of that month. 
About 1883 or 1884, Judge Moody succeeded Judge A. D. 
Thomas, as attorney for the great Homestake Mining Com- 
pany, which important position he still holds. 

Among other members of the present Deadwood bar, 
who have practiced in the Black Hills courts since their 
establishment in 1877, are Frank J. Washabaugh and Edwin 
Van Cise, whose names have been familiar to the people of 
the Black Hills ever since they became an entity. 

Frank J. Washabangh has many times represented the 
people of the Black Hills, both in the Territorial and State 
Legislatures, and it will perhaps be conceded that no man 
in the Hills to-day has been more intimately identilied with 
every public movement for the advancement of the Black 
Hills and the State. First, Mr. Washabaugh is, in a 
double sense, a pioneer, having come, a young law graduate 
from Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, to Yankton, 
the then capital of Dakota, in the early territorial days, 
where he was admitted to the bar and began the practice of 
his profession. In 1876 he was allured to the Black Hills 


by the reported gold discoveries, settling first in Pennington 
County, where he engaged in placer mining on Spring 
creek, meanwhile practicing his profession before miners' 
meetings, the only recognized courts in those days and 
from whose findings there was no appeal. Mr. Wash- 
abaugh held the positions of First Prosecuting Attorney 
for Pennington County and Clerk of the United States 
and Territorial Courts. 

He was elected as a member of the Territorial Council 
and State Senate from the Black Hills for seven consecutive 
terms, during which time he was largely instrumental in 
securing the passage of several bills of importance to the 
people of difterent localities in the Hills. He was the 
author of the bill introduced and passed by the Territorial 
Legislature, calling a constitutional convention for the 
southern half of the Territory, and the memorial to Con- 
gress for the admission of that portion of the Territory to 
Statehood. Mr. Washabaugh is the present County Judge 
of Lawrence County. 

Edwin Van Cise came to the Black Hills from Mount 
Pleasant, Iowa, Nvhere he had practiced law, reaching 
Dead wood on May 11th, 1877. He was admitted to prac- 
tice in the Black Hills courts, at the first term held by 
Judge Bennett, in the temporary courthouse on Sherman 
street, and at once opened an office for practice on that 
street. In August he became engaged in a mining enter- 
prise that took him to Pactola, Pennington County, where 
in October of that year he was chosen County Attorney of 
Pennington County. In January, 1878, he qualified and 
opened an office in Rapid City where he remained until 
March, 1879, then returned to Deadwood and formed a 
partnership with John R. Wilson, under the firm name of 
Van Cise & Wilson. This partnership continued until 
1892, when it was dissolved, since which time Mr. Van 
Cise has been in practice by himself — a conspicuous figure 
in the bright galaxy composing the Deadwood bar. 

Of the present medical fraternity .of Deadwood, the 



longest established practitioner is Dr. L. F. Bal)C(ick, who 
tirst opened his office for practice about August, 187(), since 
which time he has been in continuous practice. Dr. Bab- 
cock was selected as first coroner of Lawrence County in 
the spring of 1877, and was subsequently elected to the 
same position at various times. In 1879 he was made ex- 
amining surgeon for pensions, in which capacity he served 
for several years. It is now recalled that Dr. Babcock rode 
away from Dead wood more than once during the years of 
1876 and 1877 in the capacity of surgeon, with parlies in 
the pursuit of Indians, to care for those who might be 
perforated by Indian bullets. 

The offices of several mining companies, which make 
Deadwood their headquarters; the real estate and insur- 
ance offices, etc., form no insignificant factors in the whole 
business economy of the commercial metropolis of the 
Hills. The municipality in 1897 had an assessed valuation 
of $1,241,420.00 and contained a population of 6,290 

In the whirl of business, and the almost universal devo- 
tion to monetary pursuits, the citizens of Deadwood have 
by no means lost sight of the amenities of life, as is demon- 
strated by its numerous clubs of various kinds. 

It has literary clubs for the women; commercial clubs, 
athletic clubs, and gun clubs for the men ; and musical and 
social clubs for both. Of the former there are at least 
three, to wit : The Thursday, " Round Table " and Culture 
clubs, composed of some of the city's most cultured and 
advanced women, who, it is said, were among the first in 
the Black Hills to catch the infection of the almost uni- 
versal, shall I call it mania? — for club organization and 
federation among women. These women's clubs and 
associations are doing much in cultivating a taste for 
what is best in our literature, among those who come 
within the influence of the charmed circles, in lifting 
the woman of this last decade of the nineteenth cen- 
tury up to a higher intellectual plane, and, doubtless, the 


world at large is happier and better for their efforts. But, 
oh ! my dear club women, what would your grandmothers 
and great-grandmothers have thought and said of this utter 
disregard of their teachings and cherished traditions, of all 
this " fuss " about " letters? " What, indeed ? 

While there are many charming homes on Forest Hill 
and Ingleside, Deadwood is not what can, by the most lib- 
eral stretch of the imagination, be called a beautiful 
city. Its irregular outlines, its angular streets, its narrow 
valleys, traversed by the muddiest of muddy streams, and 
its gold-reduction plants, place it outside the limits of the 
beautiful and lovely. On the other hand, the terraced 
slope of Forest Hill, which affords pleasant, though seem- 
ingly precarious home-sites amid its native pines, far above 
the busy haunts of traffic ; its romantic drives, leading out 
in different directions into the Hills, and the lofty lookout 
on its outer barriers, gives it an aspect that is delightfully 

Deadwood has not yet wholly outgrown the cosmopolitan 
characteristics of its youth, as a stroll along its business 
thoroughfares on any pleasant day will make obvious to 
the least critical observer. Included in its population is a 
considerable element of Chinese, who are rapidly becoming 
assimilated in dress, manners, etc., with American customs. 
Besides their usual occupation as laundrymen and restaur- 
ateurs, there are merchants and doctors who conform to 
American fashions, speak the English tongue fluently, and 
send their children to the public school. However, while 
the men modify their style to conform with American fash- 
ions — in all save their " cues," to which they religiously 
cling, the women and girls tenaciously adhere to their 
native costumes. Dignified, demure little almond-eyed, 
olive-skinned maidens, in the very acme of Chinese fashions, 
may be seen decorously making their way to school, in 
striking contrast to their rosy-cheeked, buoyant, frolick- 
ing *' Melican " sisters. 

Across the valley, on a broad shelf about 800 feet above 



Whitcvvood Creek, is " Mount Moriah " Cemetery, where, 
mid rocks and rills and shaded dells, repose the city's dead ; 
where lie buried not a few of the brave men who bore the 
brunt of the hard battle for civilization against the murder- 
ous foe; where also, mute witnesses of two of Dcadwood's 
early tragedies, are the graves of " Wild Bill " and Henry 
Weston Smith — first Black Hills missionary. 

Back of the cemetery, like a faithful sentinel keeping 
guard over the abodes of the dead, stands White Rocks, 
from whose bald summit, 2,000 feet above the level of its 
base, may be obtained a comprehensive view of the 
environing camps, and the mysterious hills and vales for 
miles around. 




Near the head of Gold Rua, a tributary of Whitewood 
creek, about three miles, as the crow flies, southwest of 
Deadwood, at an elevation of over 5,000 feet above the 
ocean's plane, is situated Lead, the home of the most 
extensive gold mining industry in the world. It had its 
auspicious birth twenty-two years ago in the discovery of 
gold-bearing quartz in the great "lead" from which it 
derived its name, and though but one year past its legal 
majority, it has already become the most populous city, — 
not only of the Black Hills, but of South Dakota, west of 
the Missouri river. 

Early in the spring of 1876, soon after the discovery of 
placer diggings on Gold Run Gulch, which did not uni- 
formly pay, the attention of miners was turned to pros- 
pecting for quartz, and a number of promising mines were 
discovered. Among the tirst of these was the Homestake 
mine, which was discovered and located by Fred and Moses 
Manuel or Emanuel, Alex. Engh, and Henry Harney, 
becoming, either by location or purchase, joint owners in 
the property. A little later, the Highland was discovered 
by M. Cavanaugli, and the Golden Star by Smoky Jones. 

Soon after the location of the Homestake, the Emanuel 
brothers located the "Old Abe" mine, which, according 
to the statement of those familiar with the early history of 
the mines, was previously discovered by J. B. Pearson, 
making it probably the first quartz mine discovered in that 

During the summer of 1876 the original owners of the 
Homestake mine prosecuted a vigorous development of 


their property, which improved in strength and value with 
every square foot of development work done, and to still 
farther test the value of their mine, the Emanuel brothers 
erected an arastra a short distance below, near Penninfi^ton. 
and put the crude pulverizer in operation on the ore, which 
proved to their complete satisfaction that they were the 
possessors of property of immense value. In the fall of 
1876 Engh and Harney sold 100 linear feet of their divided 
interest in the mine to H. B. Young for $300.00, after 
which each continued active development work on their 
respective holdings until the fall of 1877. 

During the spring and summer of 1877 two custom mills 
were put in operation on the ores of the quartz mines in 
the vicinity with highly satisfactory results. The first was 
a ten-stamp mill, later increased to twenty stamps, built 
by the Racine Mining and Milling Company on a site near 
where the Deadwood Central Depot now stands. The 
Racine Mill, which was built for the aforesaid company by 
Geo. Beemer, commenced droi)ping its twenty stamps on 
April 15th, 1877. 

The second, called the Enos Mill, after its owner, was 
built by Mr. Enos in July, 1877. Mr. Enos had acquired 
Harney's interest of 325 feet of the Homestake mine, the 
ore from which, in part, supplied his mill. Subsequently, 
when the Homestake company absorbed the most valuable 
and productive mines in the vicinity, both of these mills 
were torn down and the machinery sold and removed to 
other regions of the Hills. 

Meanwhile glowing reports had reached and attracted the 
attention of prominent California capitalists, among whom 
were J. B. Haggan and Geo. Hearst, who with the object 
of investigating the matter, decided to dispatch an expert 
to the Black Hills for that purpose. Accordingly about 
June, 1877, L. D. Kellogg, a practical miner, was sent to 
examine the gold-bearing region in the vicinity of Lead, 
clothed with discretionary power to negotiate for the 
purchase of such property as proved satisfactory to him. 


After a careful examination of the mines he was so well 
satisfied with tlie result of his investigation that he secured 
a short option on the portion of the H.omestake owned by 
the Emanuel brothers and Engh, and, it is alleged, the 
Deadwood Mine, for $50,000 and $80,000 respectively, and 
immediately returned to San Francisco to report to his 
employers. On the following day he started on his return 
to the Hills accompanied by Mr. Hearst, who at once pur- 
chased the property for the aforesaid sums according to the 
terms of the option. 

Su})sequently, Mr. Young sold his 100 feet to the com- 
pany for $10,000, and Mr. Enos, who had purchased Mr. 
Harney's interest, sold to a Davenport, Iowa, mining and 
milling company, which, in turn, sold to the Homestake 
Company for $45,000, making the price paid for the 
Homestake Mine No. 1, $105,000. 

Mr. Hearst returned to San Francisco well pleased with 
his venture, and in connection with J. B. Haggan and 
Lloyd Tevis, without unnecessary delay purchased an 
eighty-stamp mill, hoisting machinery, etc., and shipped 
the same by rail to Sidney, Neb. The contract for freight- 
ing the mill and machinery from Sidney to Lead City was 
awarded to the firm of Cuthbertson & Young, at the rate of 
six cents per pound, which amounted to a total of $33,000. 
The greater part of the machinery was landed safely on 
the ground by the first of January, 1878. A portion, 
however, Avhich was freighted in by ox train, was caught 
in the great snowstorm of March, 1878, near Crook City, 
where every poor bovine perished, and did not reach its 
destination until well on toward the first of April. The 
mill was built, the machinery placed and the eighty stamps 
were put in operation about the first of July, 1878, and 
that was the beginning of the great Homestake consolidated 
company's operations. 

The Homestake Company was soon after organized, with 
a nominal capital of $2,500,000, when other valuable 
mines were added to the original purchase made by Mr. 


Hearst. The Golden Star, the Highhmd, and Old Abe 
mines were successively acquired by the company, the 
tirst named in December, 1877, the second in Mayor June, 
1878, and the Old Abe during the latter part of the same 
year. Early in 1880, the Dead wood Terra Company was 
absorbed, and the De Smet Company later. From time to 
time since, additional mineral lands have been purchased, 
until to-day the major part of the gold-bearing area in the 
vicinity of Lead is owned and controlled by the Homestake 

The chief element of success in all gold-reduction opera- 
tions is a bountiful supply of water, without which the rich- 
est mines in the world are practically worthless. Recog- 
nizing this fact, the company and its stockholders directly 
or indirectly shrewdly secured, at an early date, every 
available miner's inch of that essential fluid, capable of 
being utilized in its operations or in supplying the outside 
demand. From the headwaters of nearly all the principal 
streams in the region round about, their waters were con- 
ducted through many miles of ditch and flume at enormous 
expense, to vast receptacles, convenient to the points where 
the water was designed to be utilized, — receptacles from 
which the principal towns in the vicinity have, for nearly 
two decades, received their main water supply. 

Availing itself to the fullest extent of its privileges under 
the raining laws, the company selected a large area of fine 
timber land lying to the southward of Lead City, and, for 
the purpose of transporting the vast amount of timber re- 
quired for the mines and fuel for the mills, constructed a 
narrow-gauge railway across the deep ravines, over the 
streams and u[) the deep slopes, a distance of perhaps four- 
teen miles, to a point where a station was established called 
Woodville. As the land was stripped of its timber, the 
line and army of woodchoppers pushed farther and farther 
into the heavily timbered territory, leaving behind a forest 
of unsightly stumps. Subsequently the line was extended 
from Brownsville — the last wood station — to Piedmont, 


to connect with the F. E. & M. V. R. R. and called the- 
Fort Pierre & B. H. Railway. This lino, constructed by 
the Homestake Company, was the first piece of steam rail- 
way built in the Black Hills. 

Since the building of the Homestake eighty-stamp mill 
in 1878, the operations of the company have increased to 
vast proportions. The acquisition of new mines was 
speedily followed by the construction of extensive mills, 
whose original capacities have been from time to time in- 
creased until to-day the Homestake Consolidated Company 
own seven enormous plants of the following respective 
capacities, to wit: — 

At Lead the Homestake, or old eighty-stamp mill, 200 ; 
Golden Star, 140, and Highland, 200 stamps; at Terraville, 
the Deadwood Terra, two mills of eighty stamps each, 160 ; 
the Caledonia, eighty stamps ; at Central, the DeSmet, 120 
stamps, making a total of 900 stamps, which produce an 
annual output of over $4,000,000 of gold bullion for the 
company, or, at a conservative estimate, $75,000,000 since 
operations began in 1878. 

The product of the Homestake mines, so far, has been 
from what is regarded in the Black Hills as low grade ore, 
averaging from four to six dollars per ton of gold, which 
demonstrates that a mine does not necessarily have to be 
hish srade to be an enormous producer of net values. It 
is not, therefore, because of the richness, but because of 
the vastness of the ore body, and the gigantic scale upon 
which it is operated, and upon the systematic, economic 
and strictly business principles upon which these operations 
are conducted, that the Homestake mines have been the 
largest and most continuous dividend-payers in the world. 

Notwithstanding the fact that for the first ten or twelve 
years of their operations, not an ounce of the concentrates 
contained in the ore was saved, not a single non-payment of 
dividend by the company has been recorded from the first. 
Strangely enough, no attempt was made to recover the 
gold in the concentrates until about 1890, bv reason of 


which, it is reasonable to conclude, that not less thun a half 
million of dollars of gold was carried down with the current 
to the Gulf, or caught on the bars along the way. 

Although a liberal scale of wages has been adopted by 
the company, every department of the vast industry is con- 
ducted on such a plan of economics as will insure the 
most profitable results. While the whole complicated 
machinery is under the supervision of a general superin- 
tendent, each branch of the business, the offices, mills, 
mines, stores, and shops, is under the immediate charge 
of an expert in his line, to whom a princely salary is paid, 
who looks after all the minute details of the branch under 
his supervision. Every cog and every wheel in the vast 
human machinery of the great industry, is thus compelled 
to perform its assigned function with the punctuality and 
regularity of clock work. 

Of the various branches of the Homestake industry not 
the least important and responsible is that of timbering 
the mines. It requires the skill and genius of a master 
mechanic, to so adjust the timbers as to preclude the 
"awful" possibility of their giving way and letting the 
whole superincumbent mass of rock down upon the army 
of miners working beneath. 

When you are told that 2,000,000 running feet of timber 
are used annually in timbering the Homestake mines, you 
may, perhaps, feel inclined to doubt the accuracy of the 
statement. If so, make your last will and testiment ; bid 
a solemn good-bye to your friends, then take a seat in the 
" cage " and descend down, down 700 feet into the black- 
ness of the mysterious under- world, where the light of day 
never reaches; visit the long tunnels which penetrate far 
into the mountain in every direction on the different levels, 
and see the great high cavities built up and supported by a 
forest of heavy solid timbers, skillfully braced, and you 
will be convinced. It will be interesting, too, to watch 
for a while the hundreds of grimy miners, who, faintly 
discernible by the glimmering lights in the dark tunnels, 



are busy with pick and shovel, and drill and hammer, 
blasting and breaking the ore into pieces and loading it on 
the train of small cars to be transported to the mills out- 
side. By this time you are, doubtless, satisfied and glad to 
ascend into the glorious sunshine of the upper world. 

The mills of the combined company have an aggregate 
milling capacity of from 2,500 to 3,000 tons of ore per 
day. The ore is submitted to daily tests by assay, so that 
the management knows to a nicety the average daily pro- 
duction per ton. The mills for the greater part are con- 
nected with the niines by narrow-gauge railways which 
carry the ore in small cars, of the capacity of about one 
ton each, to the upper story of the mill, where it is dumped 
into the crushers, which, in turn, discharge the crushed ore 
through chutes into the ore bins, from which it is fed into 
the batteries. 

To carry on the various branches of the vast enterprise 
requires that a large force of men be kept on the company's 
pay-rolls. Besides the men in the mills and mines, a local 
engineer is employed, whose duty it is to make all the 
plans and surveys for the mines, an expert assayer, to 
keep the management informed as to the value of the ores 
milled, and numerous clerks, carpenters, machinists, black- 
smiths, etc. 

There are now about 1,500 men employed by the Home- 
stake Consolidated Company, who receive wages ranging 
from $3,50 to $2.50 per day. 

The wages paid underground employees are $3.50 for 
miners, $3.00 for mine laborers, and $2.50 for surfiice 
laborers. Exceptionally skilled miners who supervise the 
work are paid much more, and perhaps poor workmen re- 
ceive less. However, it is believed that the management 
regards a poor workman dear at any price and prefers pay- 
ing good WMges to skilled men in any capacity. A good, 
faithful employee can hold his position all the year round, 
and, what is better still, the company never misses a pay- 
day, — never. 



Improved facilities in the way of machinery are added by 
the management as the business of the comi)any demands. 

The most notable, as well as noticeable, improvements of 
recent date are the magnificent steel building and steam 
hoisting works, erected over what is known as the Ellison 


shaft, on the south side of Gold Run gulch, opposite the 
mills; and the hue steel viaduct, 900 feet in length, con- 
nectino; the works with the mills on the north side. A 
three-compartment shaft was sunk to the depth of 400 feet, 
and the 200, 300, and 400-feet levels of the mine connected 
therewith. The gold-laden ore is lifted by a powerful pair 
of hoisting engines from the unseen depths below, then 
loaded onto small cars and carried across the viaduct to the 

During the year ending June 1st, 1897, 100 stamps were 
added to the old Homestake mill, and a powerful twin 
compound condensing engine to run the enlarged establish- 

According to the statement of Financial Secretary F. G. 
Drum, in his annual report to the President of the Home- 
stake Company, the net proceeds for the year ending June 
1st, 1897, from ore milled at the mills at Lead were; Bars, 
878 to 940 inclusive, $1,843,501; net proceeds concen- 
trates, $45,938.16, amounting to a total of $1,889,439.41. 
The amount of ore milled was 395,530 tons, yielding at 
the rate of $4.77 in gold per ton, and a small percentage 
of silver. 

The Homestake and associate properties are sending out 
into the commercial world $4,000,000 annually, and accord- 
ing to a conservative estimate by Superintendent Grier, 
there is ore enough in sight, even with the increased facili- 
ties, to keep the mills running for twenty years to come. 
Since the mines began producing in 1878, the company has 
paid to its stockholders in monthly dividends the handsome 
sum of $12,000,000 approximately. 


Outside of the Homestake mining properties in the vicin- 
ity of Lead, there is at least one individual holding, from 
which its fortunate owners are realizing vast wealth. This 
is what is known as the Durango Lode, which has some- 
thing of a history. The mine was discovered in 1877, and 


patented by the Durango Gold Mining Company, which, 
after working out a few pockets of rich free gold ore, 
practically abandoned the property as worthless. It was 
finally sold for taxes to James Cnsick, Tim Foley, and 
John L. Sullivan. The Durango Company brought suit 
to set aside the tax deed, resulting in a compromise by 
which the owners paid $1,000 for the company's title. 
The mine is an immense siliceous ore deposit, running from 
$75 to $100 in gold per ton. The property is being worked, 
and regular shipments of the refractory stuff are made to 
Kansas City for treatment. 


The history of Lead City dates back to the early spring 
of 1876, when placer operations began on Gold Run Gulch, 
and is co-extensive with the great mining industry of the 
Homestake Company, growing with its growth and strength- 
ening with its strength. The first discovery of placer gold 
in that gulch was made by Thomas E. Carey, who came 
over the divide from Deadwood gulch in February, 1876, 
and found the first shining particles in the creek just below 
the large settling dam of the Homestake Company. Mr. 
Carey also built the first structure on the gulch, a small 
log cabin which stood — a venerable landmark of the early 
days — for twenty-two years, when it was torn down to 
make room for a more modern and pretentious edifice. 

Shortly after the discovery of gold in the gulch, a pros- 
pector, who passed current among the miners by the 
suggestive sobriquet of "Smoky Jones" — *' Smoky " 
presumably was not his baptismal name — made a prelimi- 
nary, or pocket compass survey, and with the aid of 
others, laid out a town-site along the gulch, and named it 
Washington, in honor of the little boy who could not tell 
a lie. ( ?) 

The first grocery store erected on the site was built, 
tradition says, by Antoine Weber, who a few years later 
carried on business at Rochford in the central Hills, where 


the writer knew him well. Among the very first to open 
business in this birth-place of Lead City was P. A. Gus- 
hurst, now the efficient mayor of the flourishing munici- 
pality, ami one of its most influential and enterprising 
citizens. The town grew but slowly at first, only a few 
scattered log cabins, occupied by the miners and prospect- 
ors of the vicinity, being built during the first year of its 

In the spring of 1877, however, when the first attempts 
at gold quartz reduction were made, the town received a 
new impetus and began gradually to expand. A new sur- 
vey was made by a local surveyor, J. D. Mclntyre, by 
which the lines of the old site were extended farther up 
toward the head of Gold Run, when the business for the 
most part left the narrow confines of the gulch below, to 
build along the bases of the adjacent hills above, and the 
homes soon began to climb the dizzy heights. Higher and 
higher up the steep slopes they climbed, year by year, 
until to-day the environing hills are densely covered from 
base to summit with the homes of thousands of thrifty, 
prosperous people — homes, in good part, of the hardy, 
muscular men, who are daily and nightly busy with pick, 
shovel, and hammer, in the miles of slopes and tunnels of 
the different levels, reaching down 700 feet beneath the 
surface. The name given the new town was Lead City, 
so called because of the great leads traversing the 
surrounding hills. 

The first frame building in Lead City was erected on the 
corner of Main and Mill streets, by Geo. Beeraer, in the 
spring of 1877. The building was afterwards owned and 
occupied by John Daly as a blacksmith shop, and was, a 
few years since, and perhaps is still standing. The second 
frame structure was a building known as the Jentes' Corner, 
where, tradition says, the first dance in Lead City was had 
on the nisrht of Julv 4th, 1877. At this initial dcince there 
were seven women in attendance, who constituted the total 
adult female population of Lead City at that date. 


The tiist brick structure in Lead City, knowu as the 
•' Brick Store," was built by the Ilomestakc Co. in 1880. 
This was followed successively by E. May's store, Dr. 
Lowie's drug store and the Masonic and Odd Fellows' Hall, 
constructed at the corner of Main and Bleeker streets. 
This substantial brick structure is still used for the lodge 
meetings of the two orders. 

The first school opened in Lead City was a tuition school 
taught by a Miss Graham, in a small log cabin located on 
North Bleeker street, in the fall of 1877. 

From early Black Hills chronicles, which are verified by 
living witnesses, the following items have been gathered : — 

The first hotel in Lead City was the Miners' Hotel, a 
frame building erected by Jas. Long, in June, 1877. 

The first exclusive grocery store was opened by Mealy & 
Smith in 1877: the first dry goods by Silver Bros.; the 
first meat market by Thos. Jones ; first express and delivery 
by Wesley Akxander ; first millinery by Mrs. John Bragg ; 
first clothing store by P. Cohen ; first furniture and under- 
taking by S. R. Smith. The first woman was Mrs. Carter, 
the first child Josie Carter ; first baby born, Pearly McCoy ; 
first newspaper, Lead City Telegraph. 

The first justice of the peace was Henry Hill, who was 
elected in June, 1878, and the first case tried by him was a 
criminal one, June 25th. The first bank was established in 
1878, in charge of Hy. John Ainley. 

The first church erected in Lead City was built by the 
Catholic society during the spring of 1878, with Rev. 
Father Mackin as its first pastor. This church was fol- 
lowed successively by the Congregational society organized 
August 27th, 1878, and the Methodist society organized on 
the 15th of November, 1880, by Rev. W. D. Phifer. The 
latter first held services in the old opera house, afterwards 
ia the old school building and later in the first Miners' 
Union Hall. In 1881 the society began the erection of a 
church building, which, when nearing completion, was 
blown down by a violent storm. A new building was soon 


constructed out of the ruins, which, on the 11th of August, 
1881, was dedicated by Bishop Foss. 

The Episcopal and Presbyterian societies were next 
organized, both of which have rapidly increased in mem- 
bership. The former, it is alleged, has now the hirgest 
church edifice in the Black Hills. 

Lead City's first opera house was built by John Brooke 
on Main between Mill and Bleeker streets, in 1878, and the 
Langrishe Comedy Company gave the first theatrical per- 
formance in Lead City in this " house" during the same 
year. The lower floor of the building was and is still used 
as a saloon, but the old hall on the second floor, where 
once rang the plaudits of the appreciative crowds, is now 
utilized for lodging rooms. 

In the spring of 1877, soon after quartz mining opera- 
tions began, the miners of the camp combined for mutual 
protection and for the purpose of securing for the men 
engaged in the hazardous occupation of mining for wages, 
a just compensation for their labors, and the right to use 
the fruits of their toil, without let or hindrance, or dicta- 
tion from their employers, and to otherwise protect their 
mutual interests a union of miners was organized with Pat 
O'Grady as its first president. 

In 1878 the brotherhood erected their first Miners' 
Union Hall, which served its purpose for fifteen years, or 
until the organization grew beyond its capacity. The first 
floor of the old hall, which still stands on the northwest 
corner of Main and Bleeker streets, is now occupied by 
two stores, while the second floor is the present head- 
quarters of the Salvation Army. 

In 1894 the new Miners' Union building or block, sit- 
uated at the corner of Main and Walnut streets, was erected 
at a cost of $68,000.00 and is owned by the Lead City 
Miners' Union. It is a fine three-story building con- 
structed of variegated sandstone, cut from the quarries of 
the hills adjacent to the city. On the second floor of this 
immense structure is the present Lead City Opera House, 


which is the Inrgest in the State, having a seating capacity 
of 1,500. The third floor is separated into two commo- 
dious rooms, one for the Miners' Union Meeting, the other 
for the use of the Ancient Order of United Workmen and 
Knights of Pythias orders, while the lower Hoor is let 
for business purposes. The " Union " has a present 
membership of 750. 

The first fire company of Lead City was organized in 
1878. Hose Company No. 1 was formed in 1879, and No. 
2 was added in 1888. The department was organized in 
1889 with David Morgan as Chief. 

The present department is composed of Lead City Hose 
Company No. 1, Lead City Hose Company No. 2, and the 
Albert Hose Company, which organization for efficiency is 
second to none in the Black Hills. 

In 1878 the Lead City water system was established by 
the Black Hills Canal and Water Supply Company under 
contract with the town corporation, the exact terms of 
which agreement were not obtainable. The water supply 
is drawn from the headwaters of Whitetail, Little Rapid, 
and Castle creeks, and carried, at a tremendous cost, 
through many miles of underground, ditch and pipe to vast 
reservoirs, constructed on the hills north and south of the 
city, and thence distributed by pipes to its consumers. 
While the volume of water is sufficient to supply the 
demands of the people, and for amalgamating use at the 
mills, there appears to be no supply for sewerage purposes, 
except an occasional " flush," as it is called. 

In June, 1878, the first district school meeting in Lead 
was held and the following officers elected, viz. : Henry 
Hill, clerk ; Thos. Pryor, treasurer ; F. Abt, director. The 
first public school was taught during the summer of 1878, 
in a room over Belliveau's store, by Prof. Dean, with an 
attendance of thirty-two pupils, — sixteen girls and sixteen 
boys. The September term of 1878 was taught by Piof. 
Wheeler, assisted by Julia B. Snyder, in a house on Pine 
street, opposite the old hose house. The school of 1879 


and 1880 was conducted by Prof. Darling, assisted by Miss 
L. Chapman, in a house located on Bleeker street, where 
J. R. Searles' residence formerly stood. 

The schools were held in rented buildings until 1881, 
when the Sister's Hospital, located on the ground occupied 
by the Lead school building of to-day, was purchased by 
the school board, and transformed into a suitably arranged 
schoolhouse, which served the purpose until the completion 
of the new building in 189G. 

The teachers in the first public school building were: J. 
S. Thompson, principal, and E. J. Bishop, Miss Anna 
Graham, and Miss Burnham, assistants. In 1882 Mr. 
Thompson was re-elected principal and Ed. Darling and 
Misses Kogers and Barry, assistants. In 1883 E. J. Bishop 
was elected principal, but shortly after resigned, on account 
of sickness, when Miss Rogers was appointed to fill the 
vacancy, with Miss Kate Burry and Pauline Pincus as 

From 1884 to 1891 the schools wore successively con- 
ducted by R. H. Driscoll for 1884-5; C. J. Green for 
1886-7 ; L. A. Fell for 1887-8, and Prof. Frazee from 1888 
to 1896. From 1891 to 1896 the schools were under the 
supervision of Prof. Kimmel, who was succeeded by the 
present incumbent. Prof. C. M. Pinkerton. 

Since the opening of the first public school in 1878 the 
number of pupils has increased from thirty-two to an en- 
rollment of 1,103, for the term beginning September, 1898, 
and from one teacher to a corps of twenty-three instructors 
including superintendent. 

In 1896 the present elegant two-storied brick school 
structure which is conceded to be the finest and best 
equipped building of the kind in the Black Hills, was 
erected on the site of the old building on west side of south 
Wall street, at a cost of $31,000.00 for which bonds of the 
district were issued by the Board of Education. The old 
structure which yet stands in the rear is still used in con- 
nection with the new building. Besides the Central build- 


*5 "^f 



iu2 there is what is called the " Washinorton School 
House," in the Fourth Ward. 

In 1890, after an eventful career of nearly fourteen 
years as a private corporation, Lead City came to the con- 
clusion that it was high time to assume the dignity of a 
municipality, even if it did impose some new responsibil- 
ities. In justice to herself, as the greatest gold reduction 
camp in the world, she felt — and justly so — that she was 
entitled to recoo-nition as something more than a mere town 
on the map of the Black Hills. So, in the year aforesaid 
Lead City, by general consent, was incorporated under the 
general laws of the State of South Dakota, and became a 
city de facto as well as in name. At this time the append- 
age "City " was dropped, and the new organization called 
simply Lead. The city was divided into four wards, each 
to be represented by two members in the City Council. 
The personnel of the first City Council was as follows: — 

Cyrus H. Enos, Mayor; Charles Barclay, Ernest May, 
P. A. Gushurst, Daniel J. O'Donnell, John K. Searle, 
Frank Abt, Jr., Thomas Connors, Michael Cain, Aldermen. 
Lead has eight religious organizations, viz. : Catholic, 
Congregational, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lu- 
theran, Bai)tist, and Seventh Da}^ Adventists. 

In the line of secret societies, it is believed that Lead 
breaks the record in the Black Hills, and if there are any 
who doubt the statement, a glance over the following roster 
will convince the most incredulous. I shall merely give 
the initials and leave it to the reader to decipher the puzzle: 
A. F. and A. M. ; R. A. M. ; O. E. S. ; I. O. O. F. ; K. 
of P. ; R. S. ; A. O. U. W. ; D. of H. ; M. W. A. ; R. N. 
of A. ; S. of St. G. ; G. A. R. ; W. R. C. ; H. F. ; W. of 
W.; I. O. R. M.; O. S. C. 

Since its first formation in 1877, the Miners' Union of 
Lead has grown into a formidable combination of members, 
yet it is gratifying to note that we never hear of *' strikes " 
and "lockouts" or any kind of friction between em- 
ployers or employees in Lead. 



Doubtless the finest and best equipped institution of its 
kind in the Bhick Hills, and in fact west of Omaha, is 
Emergency Hospital at Lead. Emergency Hospital, which 
was built and equipped by the Homestake Company, was 
designed, as its name implies, as an asylum where skillful 
medical and surgical treatment and careful nursing could 
be speedily administered to the sick and injured employees 
of the company. The hospital is provided with complete 
clinical appurtenances, and a number of experienced nurses 
to look after the needs of patients under the directions and 
advice of the hospital physician. However, any person 
seeking admission for treatment is taken in upon the pay- 
ment of fixed rates. 

To provide funds for the maintenance of the institution 
an assessment of $1.25 per month is levied on the wages of 
each employee of the company, which entitles him to the 
full privileges and benefits of the hospital without addi- 
tional cost. 


Another institution, worthy of especial note, is the 
Hearst Free Library. This institution, which is highly 
appreciated by its people, was established in Lead in 1894, 
by Mrs. P. A. Hearst, widow of the late United States 
Senator Geo. Hearst of California, for the especial, though 
not exclusive, benefit of the employees of the Homestake 
Company, of which Mr. Hearst was one of the organizers. 

The library was first installed in the new Miners' Union 
Opera House, where it was kept until the completion of 
the present two-story brick and stone library building, 
adjoining the company's brick store on the north in 1896. 
The upper floor of this building is elegantly fitted up 
with handsomely ornamented iron and easy chairs, piano, 
tables, etc., — in fact, nothing has been omitted by the 
generous founder, to make the room an attractive resort 



where the company's employees and others can spend their 
leisure hours in pleasant companionship with entertaining 
authors. One side of the long room is lined with glass 
covered cases, containing 4,000 volumes of standard litera- 
ture—comprising history, biography, science, art, poetry 
and fiction; besides which a large number of our best 
periodicals are regularly found upon the tables. An aver- 
age of about 175 books are daily drawn from the library, 
and an equal number of persons daily visit the room, — and 
indeed it is a pleasant room to visit. 

One of the conditions imposed by Mrs. Hearst, is the 
holding of monthly musicals for the entertainment of the 
employees, to whom tickets, limited in number to the 
capacity of the room, are alternately issued, thus insuring 
to all equal opportunities. These delightful functions are 
conducted under the directions of the librarian, who must 
needs be, not only a connoisseur in music, but himself 
gifted in the glorious art of song. 


Two enterprising daily newspapers, but, by the way, of 
radically different political creeds, the Tribune and the Call, 
at present reproduce the important daily happenings in 
and around the metropolis of the " belt." The oldest of 
these, the Lead Daihj Tribune, is something of a veteran, 
having been first established by Messrs. Edwards and 
Pinneo, away back in 1881. It is now under the manage- 
ment of Henry Schraitz, and is a staunch Republican sheet 
in politics. The Lead Daily Evening Callsvas established 
by John W. Jones, in August, 1893, and is now owned and 
edited by A. C. Potter, who conducts the publication 
politically, in the interest of the fusion party. 

The first National Bank of Lead was first established 
as a State bank, under the laws of South Dakota, in 1890, 
In 1891 it was converted into a National Bank, numbering 
4,r>31 on the oflicial roster at Washington. The bank has 
a capital stock of $50,000 ; surplus and profits, $18,679.30; 


circulation, $11,250; deposits, $430,(344.95, wiih total 
liabilities and resources of $510,574.25, and is officered as 
follows: — 

T. J. Grier, President; Ernest May, Vice-President ; R. 
H. Driscoll, Cashier; J. E. Corcoran, Assistant Cashier ; 
Directors, W. E. Smead, P. A. Gushurst, Dr. J. W. Free- 
man, Ernest May, T. J. Grier. The names of these gen- 
tlemen are held in the h