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Full text of "History of western Nebraska and its people. General history. Cheyenne, Box Butte, Deuel, Garden, Sioux, Kimball, Morrill, Sheridan, Scotts Bluff, Banner, and Dawes counties. A group often called the panhandle of Nebraska"

M.U 

Gc 

978.2 
Sh9h 
v. 2 
1192386 



GENEALOGY COLLECTION 



1833 01065 1435 



History of Western Nebraska 
and its People 




: — (T 



History of 

Western Nebraska 

*. — — 

and its People 



GENERAL HISTORY. CHEYENNE, BOX BUTTE, DEUEL, GARDEN, 

SIOUX, KIMBALL, MORRILL, SHERIDAN, SCOTTS BLUFF, 

BANNER, AND DAWES COUNTIES. A GROUP 

OFTEN CALLED THE PANHANDLE 

OF NEBRASKA 



GRANT L. SHUMWAY, SCOTTSBLUFF, NEBRASKA 

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 



ISSUED IN THREE ROYAL OCTAVO VOLUMES 
VOLUME II. 

ILLUSTRATED 



THE WESTERN PUBLISHING & ENGRAVING COMPANY 

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA 

19 2 1 



COPYRIGHTED 1921 

BY 

WESTERN PUBLISHING Sc ENGRAVING COMPANY 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



CONTENTS 



PART I 



11S2386 



CHAPTER I 1 

Nebraska Came From the Sea 

CHAPTER II 4 

Old Trails 

CHAPTER III ... 6 

The Flag of France in the Wilderness 

CHAPTER IV 8 

The Fur-Traders 

CHAPTER V 10 

Robert Stuart's Winter Camp 

CHAPTER VI 12 

Jacques Laramie's Caravans and Fleets 

CHAPTER VII 14 

General William H. Ashley's Trappers — Death of Hiram Scott 

CHAPTER VIII IS 

Joshua Pilcher and Forty-Five Trappers 

^CHAPTER IX 17 

First Wagons on Overland Trails 

CHAPTER X 19 

Wyeth, of "Cape Bay," and His "Down Easters" 

CHAPTER XI 21 

Nez Perce and Crow Indians — Crow Creek Named 

CHAPTER XII .... - 22 

Little Moon Lake — Famous Missionaries 

CHAPTER XIII 24 

Forts at the Laramie 

CHAPTER XIV 26 

Robideaux of St. Genevieve — Kiowa Raid by Red Cloud 

CHAPTER XV 28 

The Steamboat El Paso Here — Reuleau, the Trapper 

CHAPTER XVI 30 

Government Buys Fort Laramie — Ft. Fontenelle is Built 

CHAPTER XVII 32 

Brady Island Tragedy — French Boat Song — Jim Bridger Meets Sir George Gore 
PART II 

CHAPTER I 34 

Indian Migration across the Platte 

CHAPTER II 36 

Indian War and Legend — The Story Teller 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER III 39 

The Pawnee Pilgrimage — The Spotted Robe — Ti-wa-ra, the God of Court House Rock 
— Battle of Ash Hollow 

CHAPTER IV 42 

The Legend of the White Hawk— Old Bull Tail's Daughter 

CHAPTER V .... 44 

Belden, Bridger and Baker Episodes — Early Conferences With Indians 

CHAPTER VI 47 

Songs of Parker and Minto 

CHAPTER VII 49 

Red Cloud and Spotted Tail — Massacre of Cottonwood Canyon 

CHAPTER VIII 51 

Sunset on the Platte — The C.ibralter of Nebraska — Cheyenne S on Bellechugwater 

CHAPTER IX 53 

In the Shadows — The Fire Fly Song— Cached Furs — Old Land Marks — Trapper's 
Rock 

CHAPTER X 55 

Stage Drivers — Road Agents — Pony Express Riders — Chas. Cliff's Adventures — Jules 
and Slade Feud — Creighton's Quick Fortune 

CHAPTER XI 57 

Sacrifice of Frontier Women — Indian Execution at Ft. Laramie 

CHAPTER XII 59 

The Grattan Massacre — Spotted Tail's Dramatic Deed 

CHAPTER XIV 62 

Butler's Storv of the Cow War— Harnev the Squaw Killer — Another Ash Hollow 
Battle 

CHAPTER XV 65 

Murder of Spotted Tail — Cow Dog's Puni shment — Battle in Scottsbluff Mountain Pass 

CHAPTER XVI 67 

A Buffalo Bill Episode — More Indian Troubles 

CHAPTER XVII 69 

The Battle of Horse Creek — Colonel Moonlight's Mistake — President Lincoln's Message 
to the West 

CHAPTER XVIII 72 

Julesburg Burned — Mud Springs Attacked — Battle on Cedar Creek 

I'll \ITEK XIX 75 

Coad's Battle on Lawrence Fork — "Shorter" Countv Organized — Tank Fighting on the 
Platter— Buffalo Bill Kills Tall Bull 

CHAPTER XX 77 

Indian Vgencies Adjusted— Sitting Bull's Determination — Battle of War Bonnet Creek 

CHAPTER XX] 79 

Sand Hills Station Robbery — Big Bear, or Crazy Woman — The Sod Cabin — Priva- 
tions "t Early 5 ears 

CHAPTER XX 11 82 

Revolt of Dull Knife — Winter Fighting in the Pine Ridge — End of Indian Wars — Sign 
Language 

CHAPTER XXII I 8 4 

'I'lu Winding Story — Sages Tale of Orgies — The Xew Dawn 

PART 111 

en VPTER I S7 

When Cattle Mm Wen- Kings 



CONTENTS vii 

CHAPTER II 90 

Stage Station Ranches — Naming Fort Mitchell — First Ranches on the North Platte 
River 

CHAPTER IV 92 

The Battle of Sixty-Six Mountain 

CHAPTER V 95 

The Ride of Dan Dillon and Others — The Start of the Texas Trail 

CHAPTER VI 97 

Cowboy Escapades — Death of Jimmy Tate — Red Path Bill — Fraternal and Class Senti- 
ment 

CHAPTER VII 100 

Coad's Ranch at Scottsbluff Station — Sheedy's Seven-U Ranch — Anecdotes About 
Them 

CHAPTER VIII 102 

Surveyor Schleigel's Teamster Hung at Sidney — The Bosler Range — The VB Brand — 
Minnie Montgomery Honeymoon — The House of La Grange 

CHAPTER IX 104 

Creighton's — The First Ranch of All — Death of Creel in Bull Canyon — Tom Kane's 
Adventure — A Cowboy Wedding 

CHAPTER X 106 

First Ranch in Nebraska West of North Platte, Keith & Barton — H. V. Redington's 
Ranch — Nerud's Corner — Later Snake Creek Ranches 

CHAPTER XI 109 

Colonel Charles Coffee of Creighton's. Box Elder, Rock Ranch, Hat Creek and Chadron 

— Emmet & Brewster — Arrest of Fly Speck Bill — First Gardens in Sioux County 

CHAPTER XII Ill 

John Adams Joins Redington in First Ranch of the Panhandle — The Rustlers — Origin 
of Ranches on Cedar Creek — Smith's Fork or Rush Creek — Vantassel's Tie Contract 

CHAPTER XIII 113 

Jim Kidd's Training Ground — V-Cross and Cherry Creek Ranches — Henry County 
Hughes — Little Moon Postoffice — Oelrich's Wild Escapades 

CHAPTER XIV 116 

Around Camp Wagons — A Horse Trade With Doc Middleton — Arbuckle's Break Post — 
Scotchmen Buy Big Ranches — John Clay and the Two-Bar 

CHAPTER XV 118 

Frewen's Ranch Experience — Hanging of Billy Nurse by Vigilantes — Holding up Doc. 
Middleton — Death of the Famous Character 

CHAPTER XVI 121 

Perry Yeast's Success — Judge Gaslin, Who Wrote "The Law of the West" — Tom Ryan's 
Defiance 

CHAPTER XVII 123 

Newman's Ranch on the Running Water — Bartlett Richards & Company — The Scourge 
of the Land Inquisition — Cattle Rustlers — Hall & Evans — Evan's Battle For Right — 
First Dairy Herd 

CHAPTER XVIII 125 

Big Ranches Round About — First Dry Farming at Big Springs — Other Ranches on 
Lodgepole — Newman Leads the Turks Through "Jerusalem" — Walrath. from Ox Team 
to Aeroplane 

CHAPTER XIX .127 

Creighton Expands — Snodgrass and McShane — Mcintosh Founds "The Circle Arrow" — 
Simpson Organizes the Bay State Companj 

CHAPTER XX 129 

Earlv Sub-Irrigation — Bav State Buvs Coad's North River Ranch — J. S. Robb, Foreman 

— Mary Rose's Grave — The Grout House — J. 11. D. Ranch — Round-up at Circle Arrow 

— Death of "Skv Pilot" at Pine Bluffs 



viii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XXI 

Paxton's Ogallala Company— Hall'? Famous Drive to Pine Ridge— Dick Bean's Death 

— Gun .Men and Frantz's Comical Episode 

CHAPTER XXII 

I \. Hall and Robert Graham's Old Time Ranch — Ogallala Men and Events— Indians 
Get Southers — Bargain Sales of Ranch Locations — Harper's Deal 

CHAPTER XXIII 

An Indian Wagon Race — Building Camp Clarke Bridge — Round-up — Wild West Shows 

— Tom Horn's Outlaw Horse — Six Thousand Cattle Milling in the River 

I'll M'TKK XXIV ..." .' , 

The Farquerers and Cross Country Riding — Hunting Geese on Hughes Island — Fun of 
the Frontier — Jimmy Moore's Long Walk 

CHAPTER XXV 

The First Grangers— Murder of Collins at Camp Clarke — Sheriff Campbell Gets Doc. 
Romine — Beginning of Minatare 

CHAPTER XXVI 

Perry Braziel Arrives on the Texas Trail — Trailing Cattle to Judith Basin — Sunder- 
ling's Elkskin Trousers — The Drive to Pine Ridge — Two Girls of the Prairie 

CHAPTER XXVII 

Laing's Ranch — The Water Holes — Death of Wheeler — First Hogs on North River — 
First Hogs on Pumpkin Creek — Killing Rattlesnakes 

CHAPTER XXVIII 

The Virginian — Arbuckle's Ranch — Romance of Parents of Madeline Force — Lingle of 
Valley View — Connoly's of the "PF" — New Ranches — Hank Inghram's Narrow Escape 

CHAPTER XXIX 

The Shifting Sands — The Storm of 78— First Settlers on Pumpkin Creek — First Cow 
in Western Nebraska— Mental Giants of the Big Cow Days 

CHAPTER XXX 

Vigilantes Hang Reed at Sidney— The Great Bullion Robbery — Whispering Smith Gets 

CHAPTER XXXI 

Oberfelders Demonstrate Hog and Alfalfa Combination — Later Ranchers Near Oshkosh 

— Poor's Ranch. Where Sheldon Hit the We st — Cowbovs Marking Graves — The Mid- 
night Ride of Wild Horse Harris 

CHAPTER XXXII 

McDonald Hung by Vigilantes at Sidney — Sheriff Trognitz's Joke— Practical Jokes of 
Old Timers 

CM M'TKk XXXIII 

Gordon's and Whitehead's Ranches — Voder's Beginning and Expansion — New Develop- 
ment in Goshen Holes — Beginning of Alfalfa and Sugar Beets 

CHAPTER XXXIV 

Sand Hill Ranches of Todav — Dangers of the Stampede — Origin of Some Western Ex- 
pressions—Pranks of Early Days 

CHAPTER XXXV 

First Ranch in Dawes County — Graham and Snvder on Niobrara River — Other Ranches 
War Fort Robinson — Stampedin' on the Old Trail 

CHEYENNE COUNTY 

CHAPTER I 

Historj of ilu- Count) 

('II M'TKk M 

Wihh-t Days 

<ll M'l'Kk HI 

nization of Cheyenne County 



CONTENTS ix 

CHAPTER IV 182 

Ivodgepole 

CHAPTER V 188 

State Officials 

CHAPTER VI 191 

The Press 

CHAPTER VII 192 

Fraternal Orders and Clubs 

CHAPTER VIII . . . ' . . • - 194 

The Church — The Bar — The Medical Profession 

CHAPTER IX 197 

The World War 

BOX BUTTE COUNTY 
CHAPTER I 199 

Organization of the County 

CHAPTER II 207 

Churches — The Press — The Bar — Professions and Businesses 

CHAPTER III 210 

Military History 

CHAPTER IV 214 

Civil War Veterans 

DEUEL COUNTY 

CHAPTER I 220 

Organizations of Deuel County 

CHAPTER II 221 

First Settlers 

CHAPTER III 222 

County Organization and Development 

CHAPTER IV 224 

Irrigation in Deuel County 

CHAPTER V 226 

County Officers 

CHAPTER VI 228 

Towns 

CHAPTER VII 233 

Schools in Deuel County 

CHAPTER VIII 235 

The Churches in Deuel County 

CHAPTER IX 237 

The Press— Banks and Finance — Bench and Bar — Medical Profession — Fraternal Or- 
ganizations 

CHAPTER X 242 

Deuel County's War Record — Grand Army of the Republic 

CHAPTER XI 244 

Climate and Products of Deuel County 



x CONTEXTS 

GARDEN COUNTY 

CHAPTER I 246 

Early History 

CHAPTER II 252 

Boundary Disputes — As Between Individuals 

CHAPTER HI ■ 254 

Agricultural and Live Stock Industries 

CHAPTER IV .... ' 256 

Towns in the County 

CHAPTER V 264 

Railroads — Schools — Churches — The Press — Bench and Bar — Banking and Finance 

CHAPTER VI 271 

The County's Part in the World War 

CHAPTER VII 274 

Social and Fraternal Organization 

CHAPTER VIII 276 

The Medical Profession 

SIOUX COUNTY 
CHAPTER I . 277 

Description and Early History 

CHAPTER II 280 

First Settlers and Early Town Histories 

CHAPTER III 284 

Medical Fraternity — The Bar — Story of the Schools — The Churches 

CHAPTER IV 288 

Banking and Finance — Fraternal Organizations — Industries 

CHAPTER V ' 292 

Organization of Sioux County — County Officials 

CHAPTER VI 296 

Sioux County in the World War — Early Schools — Wild Life 

KIMBALL COUNTY 

CHAPTER I 302 

The History of Kimball County 

CHAPTER II 313 

Soil, Climate and Possibilities 

CHAPTER [II 321 

Transportation — I [ighwaj s 

CI I \ITKR IV 325 

The Community of Kimball 

CHAPTER V 337 

Kimball County in the World War 

MORRILL COUNTY 
CHAPTER] 348 

Morrill Count} 

CHAPTER H 360 

1 ransportation I levelopment 



CONTENTS xi 

CHAPTER III 363 

How the Land Changed 

CHAPTER IV 371 

Government Irrigation 

CHAPTER V 380 

Bridgeport Business Directory — The World War — Other Activities 

CHAPTER VI 397 

Bayard 

CHAPTER VII 405 

Morrill County in the World War 

SHEHIDAN COUNTY 
CHAPTER I 417 

How We Began 

CHAPTER II 422 

Creation of Sheridan County 

CHAPTER III 428 

Banking and Finance 

CHAPTER IV .434 

The Story of the Schools 

CHAPTER V 440 

Sheridan County and the World War 

SCOTTS BLUFF COUNTY 

CHAPTER I 444 

When Part of Cheyenne — Early Experiences 

CHAPTER II 449 

Gering — First of Many Things 

CHAPTER III 454 

City of Scottsbluff 

CHAPTER IV ...... ' 463 

The Newspapers — Early Days in the County 

CHAPTER V 469 

Incidents and Personalities 

CHAPTER VI . 476 

The Story of Irrigation 

CHAPTER VII 480 

More of the Irrigation Storv 

CHAPTER VIII 487 

Scotts Bluff County Schools 

CHAPTER IX +90 

Officials Scotts Bluff County 

CHAPTER X 494 

The Farmers Revolution 

CHAPTER XI 498 

The Church — Its Accomplishments — First Religious Services 

CHAPTER XII 502 

Scenic Beauty — Manufacturing and Other Industries 

CHAPTER XIII 50S 

The County Military Record— Honor Roll — Fraternal Orders 



xn CONTENTS 

BANNER COUNTY 
CHAPTER I 

Following Horace Greeley's Advice — Early Experiences 

CHAPTER II 

Beautiful Scenery — Tragedies — Ranches 'and Schools 

CHAPTER III 

How the County Began — Early Officers 

CHAPTER IV 

Once a Part of Lyons County - Banks - The Press -Industries 

CHAPTER V 

Irrigation — Early Postoffices — Early Experiences 



DAWES COUNTY 
CHAPTER I 

The Earliest Years 

CHAPTER II .... 

Chmate — Agriculture and Soils 

CHAPTER III 

' Settlement and Indian Days in Dawes County 

CHAPTER IV ... . 

Early Days — And Crawford — Many Fir 

CHAPTER V 

County Organization and Government 
CHAPTER VI .... 

Town of Chadron 

CHAPTER VII ... 

Businesses and Professions 

CHAPTER VIII 

Churches and Schools - Banks — In the World War 



Things 



511 
515 
520 
523 
526 

530 
534 
540 
547 
550 
553 
568 
571 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

"Came From the; Sea" 3 

Robert Stuart's Winter Camp, 1812-13 11 

Death oe Hiram Scott 14 

Grave of Red Cloud's Daughter, Fort Laramie, Wyoming 49 

Camping Ground of the Hostiles 64 

HostilEs Coming in From the Bad Lands to Surrender 66 

Indians "Home Life" 68 

On the Range Near "Signal Buttes" 87 

"Branding Calves" 88 

Cowboys Resting and Playing MumblEpeg 88 

Sidney R. Probst, Sr. , 89 

Four Old Time Cowpunchers 98 

John Bratt 119 

Long Horn's Fagin Ranch, Alliance 123 

Hanging Reed by Vigilantes Committee 152 

First Cemetery, Sidney 167 

Fine Residence of Sidney 167 

Sidney Short Route to Black Hills 168 

Sidney in 1877 169 

Interior of Oberfelders Outfitting Store, 1877 170 

Overland Trail on the "Old Trails" Route For San Francisco . . . . 170 

Pony Express and Overland Mail Office, Fort Kearney 170 

An Old Prairie Schooner 172 

Old Court, Sheriff's Residence 177 

Cheyenne County Court House, Sidney 178 

New High School, Sidney 180 

Catholic Square, Sidney 180 

Birdseye View, Sidney 181 

Carnegie Library, Sidney 181 

North Side of ShElden Street, Lodgepole 183 

High School, Lodgepole 184 

Blind Cannon Near Point of Rocks 186 

■Methodist Church, Sidney 194 

"Samie Girls" 197 

How the Court House Was Moved to Hemingford 200 

Box Butte County Court House, Alliance • . 201 

Street Scene, Alliance 204 

High School, Alliance 205 

St. Agnes Parochial School, Alliance 206 

Oscar O'Bannon and S. Avery 211 

Deuel County Court House, Chappell 225 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Chappell in 1886 .... 

Business House, Chappell 

Street View, Chappell 

Western Lumber & Hardware Co., Chappell 

Farmers Elevator, Chappele 

Street Corner, Chappell 

High School, Chappell 

Methodist Episcopal Church. Chappell 

Catholic Church, Chappell 

Christ Lake 

Farm Home, at Ash Hollow 

Rock at Ash Hollow. Near Spring 

Rush Creek Ranch. Rocky Point 

Pulling Dead Cattle Out of Swan Lake After Bli 

Old Hartman Store and Postoffice, 1892 

First Schooehouse, Oshkosh, 1898 

First Store, Oshkosh 

First Dwelling, Oshkosh 

Street Scene, Oshkosh 

Main Street, Lewellen 

First National Bank, Lewellen 

Street View, Lisco .... 

Residence of Mr. Myers. Lisco 

Schoolhouse, Lewellen 

Old Stone Schoolhouse, Oshkosh 

Grade School, Oshkosh 

State Bank Building, Oshkosh 

"Feeding Time," Nicholson Bros. Ranch 

"Some Winter/" April 17, 1920, Harrison 

First House Erected in 1886 

Sioux County Court House, Harrison 

Public School, Harrison .... 

Methodist Church and Parsonage, Harrison 

Catholic Church, Harrison 

Drilling For Oil At Agate 

New Road, Monroe Canyon. Near Harrison 

"When iiie Boys Were Leaving" 

"Haunted House," Near Harrison 

Coliseum Rocks, Near Harrison 

Street View, Bushnell .... 

High School, Bushnele .... 

i 1 i Residence of Isaac Roush (2) Residence of John I, 
Settlers of Kimball (4) Right. Residence of He 
Cambele 

Mrs. \,\ N( H. First Settler, Born June 24, 1832 

KiMiiAi.L County Court House, Kimball 

Win: \r Seeding on the Ranch of T. L. Bogle 

Branding Scene Near Kimball 

Ranch RESIDENCE OF WiHTCOMB BROTHERS, North of Dix 



Marc 



Filer 



h, 1913 



(3) Some: 
ogler; Left, 



arlv 
John 



LIST < )F ILLUSTRATIONS 



Birdseye View of Kimball in 1900 . 
Street Scene, Kimball * . . . 

Residence of Robert Garrard, Near Kimball 
Kimball County High School, Kimball 
Modern School Near Kimball Known as "Pedrett 
Methodist Episcopal Church and Sunday School 
Residence of John Ewbank. Near Kimball 
Residence of Chas. E. Jacoby, Photographer, Ki 

High School, Dix 

Residence of Petrus Peterson, Dix 

Residence of E. E. Goding, Dix 

Rural School, North of Dix 

Soldier Boys in World War 

Court Hou^se Rock, South of Bridgeport 

Morrill County Court House, Bridgeport 

Public School, Bridgeport 

Sheridan County Court House, Rusiiyille 

Western Potash Company, Antioch 

Street View of Antioch .... 

Second Street, Rushville .... 

Rusiiyille School 

National Potash Company 
East Ward Si 
"Where Pltrd 



Antioch 
rooL, Scottsbluff 
Primed the Pump With Milk' 



First Cabin, Gering, 1886 

Gering Courier, 1887 .... 

Street Scene. Gering 

Public School, Gering .... 

Site of Roubidoux's First Blacksmith Shop 

Site of Roubidoux's Second Blacksmith Shop 

Homestead of Mrs. Elizabeth McClenahan, 1889 

Primitiye Soddy, Scottsbluff 

First Church, Scottsbll t ff 

Residence of T. C. Hally, Scottsbluff 

View From DEroT, Scottsbluff 

Broadway, Scottsbluff 

A. T. Crawford's Garage, Scottsbluff 

Old Home Place of Jesse Pickering Near Mix at.- 

Farm Ranch of J. A. Jones 

Spillway Pathfinder Dam, Nebraska's Niagar. 

Rev. J. B. Currens 

Scotts Bluff Mountain 

Sugar Factory, Scottsbluff 

Lover's Leap 

"Twix Sisters" Ruck 

Smoke Stack Rock 

Early Schoolhouse 

Wheat Seeding 

Marketing Potatoes 



School 



xvi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Hampton's Golden Wedding 528 

First House in Dawes County, Built in 1879 ......... 531 

One Hill of Dawes County Suds 535 

Dawes County Trout Stream 536 

Superior Domino, 557924, Owned by Mrs. Wm. Braddock 538 

Braddock and Deffenbargh, Breeders of Registered Cattle 539 

Bordeau Ranch, Owned by P. B. Nelson, Chadron 540 

Dawks County Court House, Chadron 548 

Cram ford in 1886 550 

An Early Day Home. Chadron . 554 

Street View, Chadron 559 

Second Street, Chadron . . . . . ... . . ■ . . 560 

Jack Rabbit Roundup, Chadron 561 

First Schoolhouse, Ten Miles South of Chadron 562 

Public Library, Chadron 566 

Federal Building, Chadron . 567 

C. T. Coffee. Chadron, on Tract in 1871 570 

Methodist Church 573 

State Normal School, Chadron 574 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 
AND ITS PEOPLE 



CHAPTER I 
NEBRASKA CAME FROM THE SEA 



We will begin at the beginning, and add a 
chapter to the geology of the state, a geology 
heretofore treated by Barbour, and Condra, 
and Schramm, and to which research and ex- 
ploration has added much of valuable infor- 
mation. We will tell of the far-off , misty 
past, when White river, and the Niobrara, 
Snake creek, Bluewater, the Lodgepole, and 
the twin merging valleys of the Platte, or 
Flatwater, and Gonneville, or Pumpkin creek 
were yet to be. When the surface of the earth 
was of hot rocks in the forming, and the sky 
above was hidden in the mists which enveloped 
our celestial baby world. 

At first the sun could hardly penetrate the 
humid atmosphere, and the dull haze was il- 
lumined by lurid igneous fires, but by and 
by sunlight broke through and startled the 
concentrating elements to pulsating life — life 
that came from the hot ooze of primeval 
oceans, and which has developed through long 
laborious years, to busy brain-driven entities. 

History is moving rapidly in these later 
days ; there have been sordid things like war to 
take time and attention, but at intervals, in 
silences and solitudes, the mind finds re- 
laxation. The intellect finds restful exercise in 
contemplation of origin and destiny, or in 
translation of the silent language of the ages, 
from the rocks of the pre-historic world. 

Clumsily, I have sought to assist, and in 
reading the rocks, I find the story of the an- 
cient sea, the islands and the antecedent 
streams of our own state, and this particular 
part thereof, written legibly upon the cliffs, 
and in the hills and valleys. So while the 
floor of the world is granite, we find above 
that floor, Nebraska, even as it stood in the 
midst of the first landed area of the earth, 
while the waves of the Cambrian sea beat 
upon shores in Wyoming, Ohio and Oklahoma. 



And here, the first live creatures of the world 
crawled from the primal slime, upon the 
shore of the primeval sea. But later, when 
the- entire Mississippi valley was in the bot- 
tom of the Silurian ocean, Nebraska also took 
the plunge. 

Again nearly all of the North American con- 
tinent emerged in the lower Devonian, and 
was connected to Asia by way of the Behring 
straits. At that time the Omaha, Lincoln, 
Witchita mountain range was a particular 
scenic attraction of Nebraska and Kansas. Its 
axis was a little east of the present site of 
Lincoln, and could you sweep away the cov- 
erings, you would still find its rugged peaks 
and canyon beauty. 

During the Carboniferous period this gran- 
ite range was there. Around it is spread the 
sedimentaries of the Mississippian, and over 
it the Pennsylvanian formations, for the great- 
er part of Nebraska took another plunge 
into the sea. Eastern Nebraska came up from 
the ocean, with almost all of the North Ameri- 
can continent at a little later date. But an 
estuary from the Pacific covered that part of 
the state west of the one hundredth meridian, 
and it also covered western Kansas, Oklahoma, 
through the varying ages, came down to a 
time comparatively and geologically modern. 

The course massive buff and grey Dakota 
sands, some places five hundred feet thick, 
were spread over Nebraska, indicating a mov- 
ing body of water with currents sufficient to 
carry away the silts, and also indicating that 
eastern Nebraska was also again under the 
water surface. 

At the close of the carboniferous age, inter- 
nal forces again disturbed the Omaha. Lincoln, 
Wichita range, but it never reached full pro- 
portions, owing to the weight of covering de- 
positions. Buried under the sedimentaries of 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



eastern Nebraska and central Kansas, it still 
exists, a twin of the Ozarks, lower in altitude, 
and covering a much larger area. 

When the more violent disturbances shook 
the fractured region, great slabs of granite one 
hundred feet thick and miles in area, were in 
places thrust out almost horizontally through 
the comparatively newer rocks and shales, and 
these granitic intrusions have puzzled geolo- 
gists, and turned aside the tides of oil pros- 
pectors from time to time. Granite and Red 
Beds have been discouraging features to oil 
geologists : yet daring prospectors have drilled 
through these granite barriers into the shales 
below,. and others have found best qualities of 
petroleum in Red Bed anticlines. 

West and east of these sunken mountains 
are faults and folds, synclines and anticlines. 
In Kansas and Oklahoma are battery after 
battery of perforations, where the oil drill 
has penetrated the upper sediments and cover- 
ing caps, and from these pour steady streams 
of oil, and gas wells bring forth elements for 
the service of mankind. And so Nebraska 
may some soon day yield from her interior 
store, rich contributions for her people. 

West of this mountain range rolled the 
waves of the last Cretaceous sea — the vast 
marine water which divided the American 
continent. Perhaps a low coastal range separ- 
ated it from the Gulf, and it probably extend- 
ed, widening, to the arctic circle. 

Between the Nebraska-Kansas range and 
the Ozarks there was an estuary, which might 
be called Topeka bay, and on the western 
shore of the sea were others, and into these the 
ebb and flow of tide and current carried sponge- 
like woods, where water-logged and slime- 
burdened they settled down, and after ages 
they became coal beds. 

Out in the expanse of the Central Ocean, 
there was an island, a hundred miles or more 
in length, along about the eastern border of 
the present Laramie plains. This Hartville 
island as we shall call it, was of igneous 
rocks, thrust edgewise up above the sea. Its 
western shore was of rugged wave-washed 
granite cliffs, and its eastern border was of 
crumbling Benton shales and greenhorn lime. 

Tin- Benton series was fractured when this 
island was funned, it was the newest of the 
rock so broken. And the Niobrara chalk rock- 
was the first laid after the faulting of the 
world's crustal shell. In the rapidly shallow- 
' ing sea that covered most of Nebraska's cen- 
tral plains, the Niobrara, the Pierre, and 
other shales were laid. Much of this part 
of the ocean for long year.-,, probably ranged 
in depth from one hundred to two hundred 



fathoms. There the little grains of glaucon- 
ite occurred from decomposition of organic 
matter contained in tiny foraminiferal shells. 
This hydrous silicate of potassium and iron is 
seventeen percent potash. The soil of Ne- 
braska is fertile as a result. 

There came a time when the ocean floor 
was bared, except for pools, lagoons and 
marshes, and long lakes of slowly moving, 
brakish water ; and the antecedents of the 
Niobrara, White river and the Platte ran west- 
ward from the mountains to an inland sea. It 
was at this time, after the Pierre shales were 
laid, that Hartville island sank, and Nebras- 
ka's sea was shallowed. Islands and banks of 
mud, sand and rock arose dripping from a 
dismal swamp, and miles and miles of marsh 
appeared. The Laramie, or Fox Hills, mas- 
sive sands and varigated shales, and thin 
silicious lime rocks were laid about the base of 
the sinking Hartville island. Cross currents 
made mixed bedding, and slightly moving 
water left sandstones marked with ripples. 
Paleo-zoologists say the Laramie period was 
the last of the Cretaceous, and paleo-botanists 
say that it was the first of the Tertiary. 
Marine animal life lingered over into the new 
and marshy conditions, while plants changed 
quickly, and the old varieties passed away. 

Quite likely, the Cretaceous was before and 
the Tertiary after, and the Laramie during the 
Rocky Mountain revolution. It was the per- 
iod of transition. Benton oysters found new 
expansion, then changed into large fresh wat- 
er clams, ten inches long. Soft woods of 
prodigious growth, that made ligniteous coal, 
passed away, and hard woods took possession 
of the plains. The Hartville Island sank still 
more, and over the west the great pleistocene 
lake was spread. 

Bones of the Eocene were caught and swept 
along by the rushing waters, and are to be 
found in these later days of science, in rifts 
and drifts at Agate, and in the Goshen 
Holes. The country east and west of the sink- 
ing island warped and cracked. Great fis- 
sures paralleling the island opened up. to be 
quickly filled with ooze and slime, now hard- 
ened into Brule clay. At the base of the 
Scotts Bluff mountain (there was no mountain 
then) and in the Ardmore country, the clay 
was warped and twisted and tilted, and caught 
mammoth turtles, and winged water bats in 
its toils, to hold them there forever. 

The original horse, a dozen varieties of the 
hippos family, from tree climbing horses and 
five toed ponies eighteen inches high, to the 
almost modern horse, left skeletons in the Agate 
fields. And there are bones of giant hogs, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



that once wallowed in the marshes of White 
river, and duck-billed dinosaurs that crawled 
awkwardly through the water and mud. 
Croaking amphibious monsters, sprawled in 
mud and sand, or coiled under dripping trees, 
or splashed in shallow waters, in search of 
food, and wrote dumb tales of the Pliocene on 
the rocks. 

Through the rifts in the clouds that envel- 
oped the earth, the eternal sun was breaking. 
The brain cases of the higher forms of animal 
life were growing, and yet there is lacking evi- 
dence of the existence of primitive man. His 
bones are not found in White river stones, 
along with his presumed contemporaries, but 




"Came From The Sea" 

the evidence does exist that the Day of the 
Brain was dawning in the Younger World. 

Over the marshes swept the untrammelled 
wind. Over stretches of water and sand is- 
lands, aeolion agitation bore volcanic ash and 
dust and sand, which found lodgement in deep 
lagoons and moist places. When the later 
igneous activity stirred the western mountains, 
air currents carried the ashes high and far, 
and then for days and days they sifted down 
into the wastes of water on Nebraska. Thou- 
sands of acres in the Holdrege-Orleans dis- 
trict, and in the Scotts Bluff-Wildcat moun- 
tains, and in the Pineridge, contain beds of 
volcanic ash, of fine commercial quality. 

Aerial combinations of ashes, dust and sand, 
and glauconite came over the wastes. Into 
the shallow waters they sank, and interstrati- 
fied with sub-aerial and lacustrine substances, 
and formed the rich Loess soil. 

When the last terrestial convulsion came, the 
Omaha-Lincoln-Wichita range growled and 
rumbled in its subterranean depths, the Ozarks 
hesitated and finally thrust their ragged sum- 
mits higher, the Sierras came up out of the 
sea, and lava beds spread over Idaho ; the 
Black Hills rose towering, and Hartville is- 
land came up again to the sun. Nebraska hesi- 



tated for a time, deciding whether to become 
an agricultural state or break up into tumbled 
mountains. Ah, what a time that would have 
been to have lived, and seen old Nature build 
the heart of the American continent. 

A nearly mountain range, "that died a born- 
in' " ran from Furnas county to Dawes and 
Sioux counties. Nearly volcanoes sprung 
the earth in a dozen counties of Nebraska. The 
Goshen Holes, east as far as Broadwater, Ne- 
braska, swelled like a poisoned carcass, and 
there today are rounded domes and anticlines, 
of older rocks surrounded by the new, and 
geology points prophetic fingers to the de- 
formations. 

Depositions of the Gering river and the 
Hartville sea tell vividly the story. Out of 
the range of mountains in eastern Nebraska, 
from much of Nebraska's area, the waters 
cumulated in great, slow-moving streams, that 
meandered westward until they encountered 
the lifted ridge of the nearly mountains. One 
broke these hills somewhere in Sheridan coun- 
ty, and another near Curtis, and they moved 
westerly with increasing velocity. The finer 
silts were carried on in the currents and the 
coarser sands filled the river beds. We have 
traced the course of the Gering river; we find 
it between the forks of the Platte, and in the 
Scotts Bluff- Wildcat mountains. Partly broken 
and gone, partly eroded away, yet sufficient re- 
mains to trace the majestic current, that left 
coarse grey and brown sandrocks, flecked with 
rectangular specks of black. The turreted fa- 
cades in the castellated hills, from Courthouse 
rock to Eaglenest, are the sands of the Gering 
river. At Chimney rock the sands of the spire 
indicate one hundred forty feet of deposited 
sand. 

The sands grow finer from Scotts Bluff 
mountain as the current slowed down. Then 
step by step the finer silts appear, and over all 
the once bottom of the Hartville sea, from 
Rawhide buttes to Pawnee buttes, the wind- 
perforated rocks and soft sandstones are 
formed in wierd fantastic shapes. They give 
identity to the hills along the Red Cloud trail, 
they are as monuments for a long dead sea. 
The sun shines on the whitened lifted rocks, 
'and the pale moon on ghostly forms that rose 
out of the ancient waters, while places disturb- 
ed by the last upheaval, have been worn away 
by wind, and storm and stream. And glaucon- 
ite has been wafted from the ancient ocean 
floor, along with other sand, and it covers the 
Dawes and Furnas ridge for miles and miles 
and miles. Hence the Great Sand Hills of Ne- 
braska. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER II 



OLD TRAILS 



There is a woof and warp to every garment. 
And the garment of frontier history is made 
over and upon old trails that twist and wind 
through canyons and woods, over mountains, 
and in the valley. These trails were old when 
the trapper came, when the first Latin ad- 
venturers penetrated the wilderness, which is 
now so alive and teeming with inspiration, with 
human action, and human thrills of ecstacy 
and tragedy. They wound along the banks of 
the rivers and their tributaries, finding the most 
passable fords and accessible passes, the drink- 
ing places and the meadows. 

From the Bluewater (Snake creek), and 
L'eau qui court (pronounced lo-ke-cort and 
now called the Running water or Niobrara), 
from the Lodgepole, Gonneville (or Pumpkin) 
creek, Lorrens' (Lawrence) fork, and from 
White river; and to and from the springs in 
the hills, criss-crossing the valleys, in the sand 
hills, or on the high divides, they made a verit- 
able net work of trails — -trails which were 
made long before the time of the Indian. 

Before the periods of those industrious 
peoples — the mound-builders of the Missis- 
sippi valley, and the cliff-dwellers of the sad 
southwest, and the earth-dwellers of Nebraska 
— this land about us, newly risen from prim- 
eval sea, this mystical sunland of the younger 
world, became a land of trails. At the foot 
of Scotts Bluff mountain, in the bad lands 
north of Harrison, in the bluffs of the Run- 
ning water, are found fossils, telling an un- 
recorded story. Pterodactylus, the flying lizard 
of long ago, turtles, and the bones of the 
Mastodon are here. We may yet find trails of 
Irish Elk and Cave Bear, which the first men 
slew for food and for adventure. 

First men were strong — grotesque and 
powerful — huge hairy frames and knotted 
twisted knees, with muscles which could tear 
limbs from the trees. The battle of the world 
was for the physically endowed. They cared 
nut for the un-named stars; nor that the sec- 
cond sign of the Zodiac had appeared, and 
smiling on the world, was yielding a new in- 
flux and order of intelligence. They knew not 
thai man's mentality had begun to grow, and 
would continue until the world was swept free 
of the cumbersome, useless creatures of Plio- 
cene, and their old trails would be no more. 

These trails are buried now, under the 
drill of glaciers and the wash and ashes of the 
ages. And the trails of glaciers, the ice-grind 



of centuries are strewn with stranger rocks and 
stones, torn from the breast of their mother 
mountains, and carried on long journeys, and 
each peculiar kind, and its worn face, tells the 
story of its pilgrimage. 

The glaciers melting, poured released floods 
in natural channels, and new rivers began 
the first hilarious journey to the sea. Pos- 
sibly the same liquids have made the same 
journey many times — coming back in vapors 
and falling in rain or snow — and then follow- 
ing the water trails made by the melting gla- 
ciers, centuries ago. 

Deer, buffalo and elk, kindred and hostile 
beasts of early America, made the trails of the 
later "Overland." They crossed the gaps in 
the Pineridge, and in the Scotts Bluff- Wildcat 
range; they meandered up and down the val- 
leys, and made worn thoroughfares over the 
South Pass, long before the American Indian 
found the heart of the new world. 

We can go back only a relatively short per- 
iod in our stories of events along the old trails, 
for only the smooth surfaces of stones, only 
silent fossils of giant things, only echoes from 
a disintegrating atmosphere, and the dumb si- 
lent zodiac, furnish the meagre information 
as to what happened here, before the half- 
savage French or Spanish trapper and adven- 
turer penetrated the vast wilderness of the new 
continent. 

It has been a delight to find a bit of un- 
usual or remote history that has a local signifi- 
cance, and any motive behind human action is 
always interesting. There are but vague ref- 
erences to the first trails of Europeans in this 
land, and they are so conflicting that it leaves 
a question mark in the mind. Fortunately, I 
have found in my rambles, stories that I shall 
give here, and leave the reader to determine 
their historic value. They may find incredu- 
lous minds, but to me they have become fixed 
as signal fires along the horizon of the past, in- 
dicating the mark of the first white.man's foot 
in all of Nebraska. The opening trail of civ- 
ilization in the mighty west. 

The first story dates back to about the 
time of Coronado's search for Quivera, the 
wonderful city of gold, which brought about 
the discovery of the great plains and the buffa- 
lo. It was following Coronado's futile attempt 
that the Padres were inspired to attempt to 
plant religion among the Indians of the great 
plains. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Spain had established a foothold in New 
Mexico, and the Padres were advancing into 
the plain and mountain tribes, to plant the seed 
of the church. The southwest had been par- 
ticularly susceptible to their teachings, and 
vast missions of adobe were in the building 
stage of development. 

Some years ago, I was in the San Juan 
valley, and there met Jay Turley who is as full 
of romance and constructive genius as the 
sand-hills of Nebraska are full of lakes. To- 
gether we traveled several days, through the 
valley which is rich in resource and tradition, 
and there we met, feasted with the ancient 
families, Jaques and Archileto. Over fri- 
joles (beans) and stewed lamb, hot with pep- 
pers, we chatted w,ith "Le Vent," (the wind) 
who was a French-Spanish-American. At 
Farmington I met Stapleton and his charming 
Celtic bride, whose father had for years lived 
under the shadow of the pueblos at Taos 
(pronounced Tous). There were stories and 
stories, and legends and legends, and I deter- 
mined to learn more of them. To familiarize 
myself, I went to the Indian country. At a 
trading post I met an old Navajo, who direct- 
ed some remark to the ladies of our party 
which the trader interpreted as "pretty wom- 
en." For us, he asked the weather beaten man 
if he could tell where we were from, and he 
made a comprehensive gesture to the north 
and said the one word "Cheyenne." As an 
indication of how he knew, he touched a fur 
worn by one of the party, which was of beaver 
trapped at the base of Laramie peak, which 
was once the land of the Cheyennes. 

My investigations later led me to old Santa 
Fe, and I stood at the corner of the Plaza, 
which was once the end of the Santa Fe trail. 
I stood with uncovered head in the shadow of 
the mission — centuries old — that was near 
this spot. About a half a block from the 
Plaza, which, had it articulation, could tell 
such wonderful stories, through one of the 
many doors in the white Wall that faces the 
street, is the home of Ex-Governor L. Brad- 
ford Prince, the historian of New Mexico. 
And facing the Plaza itself, is an ancient adobe 
building, the home of the state historical so- 
ciety. In this I loitered by day pouring over 
old scraps of history, and at night I would 
leave the hotel to stand in the Plaza, listening 
to the whispering winds and voices out of the 
past. 

It was at Santa Fe that I learned of Dacom- 
bo, who, so far as I can learn, was the first 
white man to visit America's valley of the 
Nile. With an introductory note from Don 
Juan Jaquez I met Don Sol Luna, then republi- 



can national committeeman, but who is now 
passed, and asked him if he knew any stories of 
the first Spanish invasion of the north. I asked 
him about the Padres and Dacombo. He knew 
little of them in an historical way, but he re- 
membered one person of that name residing 
along the trail from Raton to Taos, of which 
I made note. Then I visited Taos, going in 
over the Cimmaron desert. 

About twenty-five miles east of Taos, near 
the summit of the continental divide, is a lone- 
ly hut and when I went to Taos, I paused there 
for refreshments, and also because Senor Sol 
Luna had given me a token of introduction to 
Miguel Dacombo; and here it was that he, 
knowing of my desire, sat squat upon the 
ground, and with a stick sketched crudely in 
the sand, after the manner of story tellers and 
tradition men of the southwest. And this is 
the story imperfectly told in broken English, 
as it had come to him through fourteen genera- 
tions of ancestry: 

"I, Miguel Dacombo (the camper), being of 
the ancient family, will tell you now the story 
of 'The Nine Years.' Fra Juan de Padilla, 
and Fra Juan de La Cruz, and Dacombo, the 
soldier with two boys, Lucas and Sabastian, 
went into the far land of Quivera, to teach 
the desert men, the Christ. They crossed 
leagues of waste, perhaps three hundred and 
perhaps rive hundred. They forded rivers, and 
after a time, Padre Padilla said, 'We have 
reached the land.' It was late in the summer, 
and they had come upon a bluff overlooking a 
wide glade. A river there was in the glade, 
which they afterwards found to be very shal- 
low and full of dangerous quick-sands. Many 
islands there w r ere, and trees and grass. Here 
were the people they had come to teach. 

"The desert men came running, whereupon 
Padre Padillo told all to hide and he would 
meet them alone. He knelt down to pray, and 
the desert men fell upon and killed him, while 
kneeling. Fra de La Cruz, some days later, 
saw a small band, and being in sore need of 
food, he tried to reconcile them, but they also 
killed him. Then it was that the Soldier spoke : 
'They are God-less, — they are devils, — let us 
go away.' 

"They went not back over the desert, but fol- 
lowed the river toward the mountains. They 
traveled slowly and crossed the river many 
times. They followed other rivers that ran in- 
to it, and became lost in great mountains of 
sand. Winter came and they made a cave. 
There were winds that almost buried them 
in the sand, and there were snows. They had 
good water and plenty of fish ; and Sebastian, 
who hunted, occasionally smothered a deer in 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the snow-drifts. They had no weapons but 
knives. 

•'Summer came, but they found not their way 
out of the sand mountains, for the mountains 
shifted in the mighty winds, and the mirage 
lured them many a league, and arroyas be- 
wildered and confused them. Another winter 
was spenl like the first. They had plenty of 
meal and wood, and clothing made of skins. 

"Another summer, and the great river again. 
They blessed the Holy Virgin that they were 
out of the sand mountains. One day, as in a 
vision, great cities shone in the sunset; and 
they travelled towards them many days. At 
last they saw they were mountains, almost 
like great pueblos. Mountains, many miles 
of them, that stood up, like ruins of castles. 
The Soldier said to Lucas and Sebastian, 'This 
is like dear old Spain.' There were giant 
castles, churches, long walls, steeples, all won- 
derful ; but there were no desert men. No 
people were there. 

"The 'crooked-backed oxen of the plains,' in 
mighty herds, moved over the hills and val- 
leys to the south. Where can they go ? They 
travelled by for days and days, and the sol- 
dier said, 'We must be far from home, for the 
oxen never get as far as Piguex.' They spent 
a winter in this land. The boys dreamed of 
the giants that had builded these great castles, 
but the soldier was tired, and his body had 
many sores. He was sick, but he dreamed and 
dreamed and dreamed. 

"Summer came and the wild cattle went 



north. Sometimes they ran. and a few are 
killed, which they found were good for food, 
and with the coming of summer, the soldier 
and his boys travelled south for many a league, 
where they found another river. Many times 
they left it, and wandered into the desert trying 
to get home, but they were driven back fam- 
ished. Finally, captured by a tribe of desert 
men, they were taken toward the sunset until 
they reached mountains that shone red at 
sundown like the Blood of Christ. Here there 
was water, and wood, and game and berries. 
How far did they go? Once Sebastian had 
fever, and once Lucas had sores on his body, 
and oh, how they all wanted to go home. But 
with the wild people, and the impassable moun- 
tains, where trails in the canyons ended abrupt- 
ly, and the swift and ever swifter passing of 
seasons, it seemed like they never could reach 
their people. 

"Nine years passed before they found the In- 
dian village Piguex. The boys were bearded 
men. Few were there who knew them, but 
their hearts were glad to be once more among 
their own people. The mark of the desert is 
upon us. Here am I. still in the desert, at- 
tending goats ; and telling you this story, as it 
has come to me, from father to son, and fath- 
er to son, since it was first told by Dacombo. 
the soldier, and his sons, fourteen men ago." 

The Padres Padilla and Le Cruz were killed, 
probably near Columbus, and the river of 
castles is quite likelv the North Platte river, 
and the time about 1540-1550. 



CHAPTER III 



THE FLAG OF FRANCE IN THE WILDERNESS 



'flic nexl old trail, the mxt white man's foot 
dial made iis mark upon the soil of Nebras- 
ka, was in 1739, when Mallei brothers made 
their journey into the wilderness, and research 
of historians regarding this enterprise is of a 
very meagre and indefinite order. 

The Spaniard had taken Mexico, and estab- 
lished himself as Ear north as Santa Fe and 
England was having its historic strug- 
gle Hi' colonizing the Atlantic coast, and the 
ith splendid enterprise, were reach- 
ing far into the interior of the western world, 

and, amalgamating with the native tribes, were 



laying firm foundations for grasping an em- 
pire. 

From Montreal and Canadian possessions 
the call of the wild had attracted French ad- 
venturers into the mighty forests west of the 
great lakes, and now, in 1739. from New Or- 
leans, then a frontier city, Mallet brothers 
began a noteworthy journey into the new and 
wild country. They were to ascend the Missis- 
sippi river to the mouth of the Missouri, then 
to follow that stream for a distance, then strike 
west into the unknown land, descend upon 
Santa Fe from the north, and to lav claim to 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



everything north of the Spanish city in the 
name of France. 

Some history makers say that they ascend- 
ed the Missouri river to the Arikarie villages, 
then turned south and crossed the Platte and 
Arkansas rivers. Watkins says their journey 
is somewhat shadowy, and Chittendon tells 
us that they left the Missouri river at or near 
the present site of Sioux City, on May 29th, 
and reached the Platte July 2d (a physical im- 
possibility in those days of slow travel, and 
that they ascended the Platte to the forks, and 
the south fork to the mountains, arriving at 
Santa Fe, July 22d. The distance would be a 
thousand miles, and the time fifty days, or 
an average of twenty miles per day. which 
deduction makes it questionable, although pos- 
sible. 

But the story I have to tell, as I said, will 
fall upon some incredulous ears. It bridges 
in such a remarkable manner, the one hundred 
and fifty years from the time the trip was 
made, to the date the story came to me, that 
I would hardly venture to include it in his- 
tory, except that I found some translations 
from Duiderot and De Margry, that fix the 
dates as stated, and lend confirmation to the 
balance of the story. 

Old-timers, over on Gonneville, or Pumpkin 
creek, will remember Francois Jourdain, and 
around Sixty-Six mountain the pioneers will 
remember "Tommy" Chaunavierre. (The 
cowboys called him "Shunover.") 

In the old days, thirty or more years ago, I 
frequently visited "Frenchy" Jourdain's cabin, 
which was about three miles east of Wildcat 
mountain, and I enjoyed his stories. He was 
not a voluble man, but if you started him upon 
reminiscence, tradition or history, he would 
wax eloquent in gesticulation and expression of 
countenance, even if not very articulate. 

On more than one occasion, I found "Old 
Tommy" visiting him, and at such times I 
could be little more than a listener. Their 
volatile conversation rattled on, half in French, 
and occasionally Tommy would refer to some 
ancient manuscript. Frenchy had a coverless 
book to which he occasionally referred, and 
this was printed in the French language. 

The words "Mallet" (Mawley) and "De 
Margry" (Demarjory) soon fixed themselves 
in my mind, and after a time I got the story. 
Tommy claimed that a distant relative — a far 
off ancestor — once had the wonderful distinc- 
tion of being selected by the Crown of France, 
as one of the party of eight, who under Mallet, 
was on a tour of investigation and exploration, 
and that about one hundred and fifty years 
before, they had passed through this very part 



of the country. Their route, as outlined by 
Chaunavierre, left the Missouri river near the 
present site of Pierre (Pe-air), and up the lit- 
tle Missouri or Teton river, then across to 
White river, entering Nebraska at a point a 
little west of the present site of Chadron. They 
crossed the Pineridge near the Belmont sta- 
tion and the Running Water at Bell, where 
Charles H. Irion once was in the mercantile 
business. Then up Whistle creek and Coyote 
canyon, crossing the Snake creek valley, a few 
miles west of the present site of Curley, then 
near Spottedtail springs and down the west 
Sportedtail to the Platte river, then up Horse 
creek to a point some distance above the old Y- 
cross ranch, then turning southward, keeping 
close to the foot-hills, they arrived at Santa 
Fe in due time and completed their mission. 

De Margry says that they reached the Platte 
river on June 2. 1739, and that they called it 
"Flatwater." This is the first time in all rec- 
ord, that I have seen the Platte river designat- 
ed by a name, and it is the second story of 
white people in western Nebraska. 

Since taking up this work the old story came 
back to me, and I have sought for its confirma- 
tion in contempory history. A story of start- 
ling interest has been uncovered. 

One would hardly think that, during the 
reign of Louis XV, the Crown of France 
would take much interest in the development 
of foreign empire ; but some years before, an 
adventurer named John Law had wrecked the 
finances of the French government in a Mis- 
sissippi speculation, and the succeeding prime 
minister. Cardinal Fleury. was engaged in the 
desperate task of reconstruction. There was 
only one way by which this could be accom- 
plished, and that was by keeping the youthful 
king busy with frivolous pastime, while the 
master-hand performed the labor. And in 
this matter, the careless act of a nurse material- 
ly assisted. She was an attendant of Louis 
XV, when he was a child, and permitted him 
to play with the daughter of a blacksmith, for 
whom he formed a childish attachment. 

At the ripe age of fifteen years, the minis- 
try selected a Polish princess as the bride for 
the king. They reasoned that this plaything 
would keep him out of public affairs. After a 
time he began to think of the playmate of his 
childhood, and to keep him amused, the min- 
istry made search, and found her, then grown 
into a beautiful woman. The king was might- 
ily pleased, and he bestowed upon the black- 
smith's daughter the title of Marchioness le 
Pompadour, and for twenty years she was the 
virtual ruler of France. 

Spain had been anticipating an alliance of 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the French King with some one of Castillian 
nobility, and it is not the character of the 
Spaniard to take kindly to the shattering of 
hopes because of a blacksmith's daughter. The 
conditions had reached such a stage that they 
involved the territory of the new world. Span- 
iards had been endeavoring to get a foothold 
in the valleys of the Arkansas and the Platte, 
and it was under the direction of the French 
ministry that Mallet brothers traversed the 
wilderness in 1739. 

It may be noted that during the latter part of 
Lady Pompadour's sway over King Louis, that 
the French people were seized with a spasm of 
interest in literature. This was indeed one of 
the great epochs of France, and was likely 
brought about by the skeptic, Voltaire, who 
jarred upon the super-sensitive religious in- 
clinations of the time, and so suited the French 
temperament of that period, that it provoked 
their sluggish intellects, drugged with long 



years of excesses and vices, into some sort of 
natural action. In passing it may be well to 
add that after the death of Pompadour, when 
Madame Du Barry became the favorite of the 
degenerate king, the French government prac- 
tically collapsed. 

Mallet brothers, carrying the French flag 
into the wilderness, was the wise work of . 
Cardinal Fleury, and it was the same force that 
prompted the expedition of Verendrye into 
northern Wyoming in 1740. 

Whatever feeble collateral history there is 
available at this time, was probably inspired by 
Lady Pompadour. And from Duiderot, one 
of the famous scriveners of the time, and from 
De Margry, are the only references to the jour- 
ney, that I have been able to find. I would 
give much for the manuscript of Tommy 
Chaunavierre, but he is passed; and the family 
long scattered to other lands. 



CHAPTER IV 



THE FUR-TRADERS 



The fur trade began in the territory about 
us, a little over one hundred years ago, and it 
continued until the passing of the buffalo. 
The active period was for about fifty years, 
and the romance of that wild, hard life is now 
only a memory. 

The dangers attendant during the Indian 
wars, the thrilling experiences of emigrants 
and pony express riders, and the overland 
stage, and the later inspiration of the cowmen, 
each have important parts ; and in the evolution 
of the past, the homesteaders of twenty-five to 
thirty-five years ago, and the people of the 
later periods, each have been history makers. 
The slow process of irrigation, has been an- 
other epoch in our little world, and the full- 
ness of its glory is not yet nearly reached. But 
fur trailers and trappers came into this primi- 
tive wilderness, largely for the love of ad- 
venture, and they built campfires that burned 
so brightly for a time which now have faded 
and smoldered, and are lost into the receding 
past. 

The Latin races have always been pioneers 

ration and enterprise. The Cross of 

Christ, and the Sword of the Spanish Con- 



querer, have gone hand in hand over the great 
southwest, and it was in the early centuries that 
Spanish pilgrims wandered into the northwest, 
and many of them never returned. 

Foremost among the fur-traders, came Man- 
uel Lisa. He organized the Missouri Fur 
Company about 1807, and sent out trappers 
and pushed boats up the Missouri and the 
Yellowstone. The fierce competition waged by 
the Hudson Bay company, on the upper Mis- 
souri river and its tributaries, effected a change 
of base. We find no record of Lisa visiting 
this section of the state, but his mark is 
stamped indelibly on this land. A number of 
writers seem to think he was here about 1809, 
but no real record has been found. Manuel 
Lisa and his wife were the first white people to 
set up housekeeping in Nebraska, they estab- 
lishing a home near the mouth of the Platte 
about 1809. 

Jacques Laramie, was at or near that time, 
associating himself with free trappers and es- 
tablishing a rendezvous at the confluence of 
the Platte and Laramie rivers, and there are 
evidences that white men had preceded him. 
Someone in earlier years had left the mark on 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the Hartville hills. Roi and Dornin were met 
by the returning Astorians, at the eastern end 
of Grand Island, in the spring of 1813, and 
they were on their way up the Platte. For 
how many years they had been coming there 
is no record, but that they might have been 
associated with Manuel Lisa, seems quite prob- 
able. They appeared as free trappers at the 
mouth of the Laramie in the later years. 

When Robert Stuart and party met them at 
Grand Island, they had come up the river in 
a boat, and they disposed of the elkskin craft 
to the Stuart party. Rio and Dornin them mov- 
ed on up the Platte through the Sand Hills, 
and must have traversed the Old Trail some- 
time during the same year. 

The fur hunters of that day left their mark 
upon the country and some of the names linger 
over to this time. Among those who met in the 
annual rendezvous on the Laramie, were 
Jaques Laramie, and M. Goshe, and Gonne- 
ville. Each left his bones in the western land, 
and each brought lingering names to the geog- 
raphy of the west : Laramie peak, Laramie 
mountains, Laramie plains, Laramie river and 
the Little Laramie, Laramie city and old Fort 
Laramie. Goshe frequented the land south- 
east of the annual rendezvous, and had built 
him a cabin on Cherry creek, and here he was 
found dead, apparently murdered by Arapa- 
hoes, which were never to be trusted, and then 
the numerous basins and flats on the eastern 
border of Wyoming, south of the Platte, be- 
came known as Goshe's Holes. 

Probably the change in the name was due to 
the Mormons, who probably misunderstood it 
in the first place. The notes of many para- 
graphers call it "Goshen Hole" after the Mor- 
mons' pilgrimage to the valley of Great Salt 
Lake. John Henry Smith, a once prominent 
Mormon, now passed, told me that there was 
something about this country that appealed to 
those of his faith, when journeying into the 
mountains, and many of them wished that this 
could be made the Mecca of their journey. 

Among the meagre personal effects of M. 



Goshe, at the time of his demise, were found 
crude sketches which indicated that he trap- 
ped on Cherry creek, Horse creek, Bear creek, 
Lodgepole creek, Lawrence fork, and Gon- 
neville or Pumpkin creek, all of which were 
then unnamed. 

Gonneville was like Goshe, a French Creole, 
and after the annual meet at the Laramie ren- 
dezvous, he would disappear into the southeast 
wilderness, where he trapped for beaver as 
far east probably as Ash Hollow. His period 
of activity extended from 1820 to 1830. He 
was with Bissonette at the time the bones of 
immortal Scott were found near the spring on 
Scotts Bluff mountain, and he was killed by 
Indians in 1830, near the point where Lor- 
ren's fork joins Pumpkin creek. The latter then 
became known as Gonneville creek, until the 
coming of the cowmen. 

It seems natural for successive classes of 
people in any territory, to unconsciously en- 
deavor to obliterate the names and the glory 
of the departing peoples. Thus the reckless 
and contemptuous cowmen changed much of 
our geographical nomenclature. Lodgepole 
creek became commonly known as Pole creek, 
and Gonneville creek lost its historic signifi- 
cance in the prosiac Pumpkinseed. Lorren's 
fork became Lawrence fork, and the beautiful 
Bluewater now bears a disagreeable name, the 
Snake. 

There is a justification for new people, who 
accomplish new things, to stamp indelibly the 
fact upon some physical attraction, but if it 
must be done by tearing down an identity that 
was here long before, it becomes a travesty, 
and an act little short of vandalism. 

Take for instance, Mud Springs, so full of 
history that a volume could be written concern- 
ing it but the railroad has named the station 
"Simla." What does Simla indicate? Pos- 
sibly the name of some railroad official, and 
possibly not so much as that. But it does mean 
the obliteration of an historical identity and 
association, and a sentiment that the genera- 
tions of men would appreciate. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER V 



ROBERT STUART'S WINTER CAMP 



On June 20th, 1812, Robert Stuart, with a 
party of six others, left Astoria, Oregon, car- 
rying dispatches to John Jacob Astor, of New 
York. The personnel of this party were hard- 
ened mountaineers and each is worthy of a 
volume of history, but as the achievements ap- 
pear from time to time, it will not be neces- 
sary to give them further introduction now. 

\\ Inn near the present site of Walla Walla, 
Washington, John Day, who was one of the 
party, was taken ill, and attempted suicide. 
Friendly Indians were prevailed upon to take 
him back to Astoria, where one report says 
he died. Another says that he recovered, 
which is quite likely true, for mention of his 
deeds can be found in the records as late as 
1819. 

Upon the upper Mad river, now called 
Snake, they met with a party of four trappers, 
which the Astorians had left in the moun- 
tains the year previous. These consisted of 
Edward Robinson, a Kentuckian who in a 
brush with the Indians at an earlier date had 
lost his scalp, and John Hoback, Jacob Rizner 
and Jacob Miller. The Blackfeet had strip- 
ped them completely, and the first three named 
returned to the mountains to recoup their lost 
fortunes, while Miller joined Stuart's party, 
which made it again seven in number. Robin- 
son. Hoback and Rizner all perished in the 
wilderness. 

Stuart's party proceeded onward, and met 
with many hardships. When near the conti- 
nental divide, which they crossed on October 
20th; when for several days they had been 
without food, LeClerc, a French-Canadian, 
came to the leader with the startling proposi- 
tion that they cast lots to see who should die 
to furnish food for the others. To obtain the 
consent of Stuart, he proposed that the leader 
should not take the hazard. Unable to prevail 
upon the man to desist from his horrible sug- 
gestion in any other way. Stuart told him that 
if In- heard another word of it. the man who 
made the suggestion would be the one to die. 
The Canadian subsided, and fortunately they 
soon thereafter killed a run-down buffalo bull. 

With lives sustained, the party was enabled 
to continue proceed as tin- discoverers of 
1 Iverland Trail, which from the east 
as far west as western Wyoming, has been 
used with only slight variation-, by ( Iregon 
emigrants, California gold seekers, ami Mor- 
mons. 



This adventurous party went into winter 
quarters early in November, 1812, on the north 
bank of the river, which they afterwards iden- 
tified as the Platte, at the point where Poison 
Spider creek comes out of the north. Game 
was abundant, and while four of the party 
worked at making a suitable winter habitation, 
the other three were out in the adjoining 
mountains shooting buffalo, deer, bighorns, 
and other big game with which the country 
abounded. 

Here they reveled and feasted after their 
days of famine and meat boiled, broiled and 
roasted made the variety of the daily fare. 
But they were not destined to remain undis- 
turbed in their comfortable quarters. Early in 
December they \vere visited by a score or more 
of hungry Indians, professing friendship af- 
ter the manner of the early redmen when des- 
titute and hungry. They were fed from the 
abundant stores of the Stuart party and sent 
upon their way with several days rations. 

This visit, the travelers knew, would be only 
a beginning, so they reluctantly broke camp on 
the 13th of December and proceeded down the 
river. 

It was late in the month when the party 
reached the prairies of Nebraska. They trav- 
eled on until about the line between the pres- 
ent counties of Morrill and Garden, where the 
white dreary solitude looked so destitute of 
subsistence that they retraced their steps for 
three days before finding a suitable location 
for their camp. 

On New Year's day, 1813, they were in a 
Cottonwood grove on the north bank of the 
river at a point about four miles west of the 
present city of Scottsbluff. Here there were 
trees large enough to make canoes, and the 
Platte, though frozen over had an appearance 
of being navigable for small boats. 

In the years that have passed since then, 
the river has changed its course, and has cut 
into the lower end of Spring creek, leaving 
the location of the old camp upon what is 
know n as Big Island just at its lower extrem- 
ity. 

At this place some of the older dwellers of 
the valley — Theo. D. Deutsch and others — 
can recollect the very old cottonwood stumps, 
possibly the very trees cut by this party and 
made into canoes. And Mr. Deutsch is the 
owner of a hand forged ax, found on this is- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



land which might have been once used by the 
Stuart party 100 years ago. 

I wonder if the resolute Stuart ever had 
visions of the future — if he ever dreamed 
that he and his party were blazing the trail 
for the mighty shifting of population that 
later crossed the continent. Children not then 
born, were the heads of families with Marcus 
Whitman, who piloted emigrants to Oregon in 
1842-43 and 44. And there are great grand- 
parents now living that were not born when 
Whitman made his journey. 

This camp on Big Island was in the long 
ago. It was fifteen years before Hiram Scott 




Robert Stuart's Winter Camp, 1812-13 
Drawn from description and survey of Big Island. 

perished on the bluff that bears his name, and 
was twenty years earlier than the time that 
Captain Bonneville visited the Scottsbluff 
county and made mention of the famous 
mountain. 

The hut builded by these adventurers con- 
sisted of cottonwood posts, over which were 
fastened buffalo robes, making a wall that 
kept out the sweeping blasts that came down 
through Platte canyon, and roared over the 
bleak, bare prairies. In true wild fashion, the 
hole through which the smoke from the fires 
escaped was in the center of their winter 
home. Buffalo robes were piled upon the 
ground for the beds. The old horse that had 
done them such service in packing over the 
mountains was turned loose to find food and 
shelter in the primitive way. 

There were two Canadians in the party, Val- 
ler and LeClerc, who were relied upon to do 
much of the hunting. And Robert McLellan, 
who was with Wayne in the Indian wars east 
of the Mississippi, was not of a temperament 
for the confinement of a camp. The river was 
frozen over, and the hunters went at will 
among the south hills, or hunted sheep on the 
mountain. 



It is quite generally known these peculiar 
creatures of the wild used to frequent the 
most inaccessible cliffs of old Scotts Bluff, and 
they could be seen standing out in bold relief 
on the outermost pinnacles, surveying the bad 
lands and the valley with proprietary dignity. 
They would bound along the ledges that no 
hunter would dare to follow, or would leap 
over precipices when hard pressed striking 
upon their horns fifty or one hundred feet be- 
low, and recovering their feet, Would run 
away unharmed. 

The last of these animals in the Scotts 
Bluff country were killed by Hardy Farns- 
Worth and George Slonecker about 1888, and 
the head and horns of that killed by Slonecker 
weighed forty-seven pounds. 

McLellan would often be out for several 
days, and the worse the weather the better it 
suited his wild nature. Like the stormy petrol, 
he glorified in defying the tempests. Frequent- 
ly his campfire beacons gleamed above the hills 
in the direction of the landmarks of what 
in after years became known as the "Hogback" 
and "Wildcat Mountain." 

Beaver were found along the river and the 
hunters added a number of their pelts to their 
store. 

There was but little game upon the prairie, 
the buffalo having retired to the mountains 
or migrated southward. But occasionally great 
droves of antelope could be seen in the open 
or passing over some distant ridge. The tim- 
bered hills to the southward afforded plenty 
of blacktail deer, and when the hunters first 
appeared among them they were too wild to be 
scared. Upon the approach of the white man 
they would bound out of the thicket only a 
few feet away, and turn and stand looking 
at one, with wide and wondering eyes. 

Early in March, the ice went out of the 
river, and on the eighth of the month, the 
party embarked in their canoes, and proceed- 
ed d.-iwn the turbulent stream. Only a few 
miles below they encountered snags and sand 
bars, obliging them to abandon their canoe 
and continue their journey on foot. Near 
the eastern extremity of Grand Island, they 
met an Otte (Otoe) Indian, who directed 
them to the camp of two white traders, who 
were on their way into the wilderness. From 
them they procured an elkhide boat and con- 
tinued their journey to St. Louis by water. 

These arc the men who made the' wonderful 
and hazardous trip, without the loss of a man, 
in the worst part of the year, who discovered 
and traversed the most practical route across 
the continental divide, and laid the founda- 
tion for a great national, ocean to ocean high- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



wey, and to whom a stone shall be raised that 
will fittingly commemorate their achievements : 
Robert Stuart, Ramsey Crooks, Robert Mc- 



Clellan, Ben Jones, Joseph Miller, Francis Le- 
Clerc and Andri Valler. 



CHAPTER VI 



JACQUES LARAMIE'S CARAVANS AND FLEETS 



The romance of the hunter and trapper has 
always appealed to boys. We have all had our 
; s iins^ and there are few of us who have not, 
at some time in our career, set steel traps in 
the creeks and ponds around home, or impro- 
vised a snare for wild game. 

Many of the hunters and trappers of one 
hundred years ago, took to the wilderness for 
the love of the tiling, but there were some who 
went into it for gain. Of such, not all were 
destined to receive the profit which they hoped 
would be theirs. 

Of the former class John Day, with his six 
feet two, and his manly upright bearing was a 
type. It is true that like many another of his 
kind, he died far away from civilization, and 
wild animals gnawed at, and fought over his 
bones. Too many of them shared this melan- 
choly fate ; and too many of them shared the 
fate of Manuel Lisa who put so much spirit 
end energy into the fur enterprise. He was of 
more than average intelligence and had much 
practical knowledge of the business, but it did 
not avail. The hazards were too great, and 
he died absolutely insolvent. 

Robert Stuart and Ramsey Crooks were 
among the fortunate. They early became the 
western lieutenants of the fur king, John 
Jacob A si or. and in that capacity made money 
not only for him but for themselves. 

Early in the year 1814 word found way in- 
to the mountains that the party of Astorians 
had reached St. Louis by a much shorter route 
than that usually taken, and devoid of many 
of the dangers along the Missouri river route. 
This fact naturally led to a shifting of free 
trappers from tin more frequented fields into 
tin- new and fresher territory along the Platte 
and Sweetwater. 

About 1815, tin competition among the big 
companies operating in the mountain- reach- 
ed such a stage that some of the partisans 
seemed to think that robbery and murder were 
duties oi faithful employees. This 



caused peace loving men like Jacques Laramie 
to leave the partisans of the trade, and engage 
in free trapping. He held that the world was 
large enough for all. The result was that a 
large number who believed as he did, had 
decided to let the partisans fight it out ; and 
they had taken to the newer fields of enter- 
prise, and had made a rendezvous at the junc- 
tion of the Laramie Fork and the North Platte. 
And from this point they loaded their packs of 
beaver for St. Louis. 

After the first year's experience, the his- 
toric spot became an annual rendezvous — the 
place of meeting to journey to civilization, 
and point of dispersing into the wilderness. 

History is somewhat of a desert as to the 
free trapping fraternity. Their independence, 
and for the most part illiteracy, combined to 
condemn them to obscurity. 

It was the manner of many of the half wild 
people of the mountains to go with their pel- 
tries into the city, and after disposing of them, 
to spend the money royally, after which they 
would repair to the wilderness for more. The 
wild was a part of their lives. 

The stormy petrol, — Robert McLellan — 
who returned with Stuart to St. Louis through 
the valley of the "Flat Water," in 1812-13, 
never again returned to the mountains. But 
civilization was not of his kind, and he died 
less than two years thereafter. 

Jacques Laramie was an unusual character 
among the people of long ago. Too many of 
the wilderness men were inclined to forget 
their obligation. Expediency and the needs 
of the moment were of vastly greater concern 
to them than the vague uncomprehensive con- 
tract signed with "his x mark" made to some 
partisans of the fur trade. 

Yet for the purpose of disposing of their 
peltries, it was necessary for them to rely 
upon some one to do the mathematical work, 
and one who would not let the "wise ones" of 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



13 



civilized trade, take their hides along with 
the pelts of animals. 

Laramie became a leader of free trappers — 
the man whom all trusted — -and from year to 
year the rendezvous at "Laramie's fork" grew, 
as new men heard of the newer and safer 
route to and from the base of supplies. 

For five years after 1S15 the trappers met 
in May of each year, and when conditions 
were favorable, the peltries were loaded on the 
bullboats, and Laramie with a party would 
convey them down the river. Another party 
would take horses to a point about four hun- 
dred miles below to assist their return. Keel- 
boats plying on the Missouri river, would take 
Laramie "and his cargo from the mouth of the 
Platte to St. Louis and return, and occasionally 
keelboats could ascend the Platte as far as 
Grand Island — then an unnamed island. 

Ordinarily, however, the party were com- 
pelled to use its bullboats up the Platte to the 
meeting place. Sometimes traders would be 
found at the island rendezvous, who would 
take all their pelts, furnish them with supplies 
and permit them to return. Pack horses were 
invariably used on this return through western 
Nebraska. 

Here the supplies were distributed by the 
just hand of Laramie, as had been ordered and 
was required by each trapper or company of 
trappers and all would then take to the prairies 
or mountains, each announcing the portion of 
the wild in which he proposed to operate for 
the coming year. 

Thus it transpired that from 1815 onward, 
there were troops of horse, and fleets of bat- 
teaux frequently traversing the great valley of 
the North Platte. 

There was always plenty of driftwood for 
their small needs, as the trips were made 
quickly. The boats traveled about seventy- 
five miles per day, and the horses about thirty, 
so that five or six days would take the boat to 
the island rendezvous, and twelve or fifteen 
would bring the horses back to Laramie's fork. 

At this time of the year the Indians south 
of the Platte, particularly the Arapahoes, were 
following buffalo herds northward The Ogal- 
lalas and Tetons who claimed the territory 
north of the Platte always resisted the prog- 
ress of the southern tribes into their hunting 



grounds, and the river was the halting line. 
Above the fork of the Laramie, that river 
was the line of resistance. 

Arapahoes were always distrustful of the 
white people, and continued hostile until 1832, 
when Captain Gant established a post on the 
Arkansas, and won their friendship. The 
Cheyennes, also south of the river, were of 
the same unreliable nature, and about 1815, 
they joined the Arapahoes, and operated with 
them for several years. 

On the other hand, the Tetons and Ogal- 
lalas were always friendly up to this period. 
Even in the later wars, Spotted Tail, the fam- 
ous chief of the Ogallalas, was a peace loving 
Indian, and regretted the necessity of fighting 
the whites, but he could not do otherwise than 
"throw in with his people," when the eloquence 
of Red Cloud won them over to war. 

So marked was this condition, that the trap- 
pers who made the annual trips up and down 
the Platte, found it better to keep on the 
north side of the stream, particularly on the 
return trip which was made in June. The 
river made a natural barrier against their pre- 
datory foes, and afforded comparative safety 
to those of the caravans moving along the 
valley during the high water period. 

The greater number of the trappers went 
north and west from the rendezvous for the 
same reason. Those who took to the streams 
on the south to gather beaver usually met with 
disaster. Goshe was found dead in his cabin, 
and Gonneville was killed on the creek that 
bore his name for so many years, and even 
that friend of the Indian, the gentle Jacques 
Laramie, was not immune from the vicious 
Arapahoes. 

In 1820, he announced that he would trap 
on Laramie fork the coming season, and when 
the other trappers pointed out the dangers, 
he said he would go alone. He did — and he 
died alone, at the base of the great mountain 
that bears his name. His body was found in 
his cabin in 1821 by a party of trappers who 
had gone in search of him. 

He had failed to meet at the rendezvous as 
agreed, but he had gone the way of brave 
John Day, and of Hoback, Robinson, Rezner 
and McLellan. into a stranger land — to a 
Final Rendezvous in the Wilderness of Stars. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER VII 



GENERAL WILLIAM H. ASHLEY'S TRAPPERS — DEATH OF HIRAM SCOTT 



In 1823, General Ashley started with a pow- 
erful party up the Missouri, but at the Ankara 
villages they met with such hostilities that a 
number of men were killed and others utterly 
discouraged. Following the talk of mutiny, he 
released all, and called for volunteers. Forty 
men, most of them hardy mountaineers from 
Kentucky, responded ; the others returning to 
St. Louis. Among the forty was Hiram Scott, 
a man of considerable education and romance. 

With these men General Ashley returned to 
the Platte and ascended the river to the moun- 
tains. At the forks, he sent a small detach- 
ment up the south river with instructions to 
meet the main party on the Seeds-keedee, or 
prairie-hen river, which had been called the 
Spanish river for some time, and soon after 
it was changed to Green river. With about 
thirty men he crossed the south fork of the 
Platte at the point where the city of North 
Platte now lies, and the north fork at or near 
the mouth of the Birdwood. 

Closely crowding the river on the north side 
were the sand hills, of which it was said: 
"This remarkable region is composed of round- 
ed hillrocks of sand, and blowouts, so similar 
that one better be lost in the trackless forest 
than to become confused in his bearings." 

When opposite "the Needle," no doubt Chim- 
ney Rock, they were halted three hours to allow 
the buffalo to pass. Thousands of them were 
coming out of the mountains, crossing the river, 
and disappearing into the hills of the north. 

General Ashley's party camped that night 
at "an island of considerable proportions 
which, seemed to be a rendezvous for wild 
fowl." The description given tallies with Long 
Island, occasionally designated as Hughes Is- 
land, where wild geese nested in earlier days. 

There was an old saying among the Indians 
thai " Vbove the forks of the Platte, the grass 
does not burn." In the shadowy first years 
then- was very little grass in this country, and 
the little that did spring up in the early season, 
and much of the prairie was absolute- 
ly ban- by the middle of July. Thus it occur- 
red that when General Ashley reached "the 
meadows," he rested for a few day. to let 
his horses recup 

"A mountain of considerable proportions 
was nearly Opposite the camp," and one wild 
soul remarked that when he died he hoped that 
his body would be buried upon the top 

minence as that. I have wondered if 



the man who thus remarked was Hiram Scott, 
and if, five years later, it was the memory of 
this mountain that had inspired him onward 
to die at its feet. 

Somewhere in the mountains Mr. Scott met 
Narcisse LeClerc. Francis LeClerc, who was 
with Stuart in 1812, was a kinsman of Nar- 
cisse, and had told him of the wonderful fur 
resources in the mountains, and the former 
was not long in finding his way into the 
wilds. 

General Ashlev had returned to St. Louis 




Death of Hiriam Scott 

in the autumn of 1823, and Scott had become 
a free trapper, when he met LeClerc. (Fer- 
ris says that Scott was clerk of the American 
Fur Company, and that may have been true 
at one time, but not in 1828.) 

The competition among the companies had 
driven the most enterprising men into the free 
trapper fraternity, and the exactions of free 
trappers drove the companies to consolidation. 
The Northwest had become a part of the Hud- 
son Bay, and in July, 1827, the American Fur 
Company absorbed the Columbia. Free trap- 
pers would undoubtedly receive less for their 
peltries, and LeClerc and Scott determined to 
organize a new company. 

MrKenzie, manager of the post of the Am- 
erican, was a special object of dislike. LeClerc 
told Papin, a confrere, at a later date, that he 
"would like nothing better, than puffing a 
good cigar along side of McKenzie." 

Now while the Northwest had been ab- 
sorbed by the Hudson Bay, the name had a 
traditional and commercial value, and LeClerc 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



15 



and Scott decided upon "Northwest Fur Com- 
pany," as the name for their new concern. 
Thus it transpired that a considerable number 
of free trappers were assembled under the 
leadership of LeClerc, with Hiram Scott as 
clerk and bookkeeper. And they were enroute 
for St. Louis in 1828, to dispose of their first 
collection of peltries, and formally launch 
their company. 

Chittendon says that this new company was 
outfitted by Henry Shaw, but that was later 
and after the death of Scott. 

Just above Platte canyon, at the rock bot- 
tom ford, Scott was taken ill, and left behind 
with Roi and Bissonette, to be taken by a bull- 
boat through the Platte canyon, and to over- 
take the party at "the big bluff one hundred 
miles down the river," where they would tar- 
ry and trap. (People coming to Scotts Bluff 
from the plain refer to it as a mountain, but 
people from the mountains regularly called 
it a bluff.) 

The story of the naming of Scotts Bluff, as 
told by Washington Irving in "Captain Bonne- 
ville," needs only these few alterations and 
embellishments, which I have garnered from 
the notes of other brave men of the mountains, 
to make it complete. 

After a few days the boat was launched, but 
was upset in the canyon, and all provisions 
and ammunition were lost. The three men 
reached the shore, however, and after some 
difficulty reached Laramie's fork. While 
searching for food, Roi and Bissonette came 
upon the fresh trail of LeClerc and party, and 
abandoned Scott in the wilderness. On reach- 



ing the big bluff, they found that the others 
had not waited as agreed, so they pushed on- 
ward. When overtaking the party, they im- 
provised the story that Scott had died from 
exposure and fever. 

The following year Bissonette, Gonneville 
and Roubideaux were returning from civiliza- 
tion, and they found a skeleton at the spring, on 
the mountain, which the former declared was 
that of Hiram Scott. He had walked or crawl- 
ed seventy miles, before his resolute spirit took 
its flight. The Bissonette here mentioned was 
a son of Antoine Bissonette and one of his 
many Indian wives. Antoine was with Man- 
uel Lisa in 1807, and deserted. With Lisa's 
order to retake him dead or alive, Drouillard 
shot and mortally wounded him. The mongrel 
son, who inherited his father's penchant for 
deserting a companion, lived to a ripe old age, 
and is mentioned by Francis Parkman, who 
visited this village on Horse Creek in 1846. 
He had married a squaw — several of them 
in fact — and was the chief of a small band 
when visited by Parkman. They were camp- 
ed near the present site of La Grange, and were 
miserably poor. Their principal food consisted 
of choke berries crushed with stones and dried 
on buffalo robes in the sun. They had journey- 
ed in from the south, and on the trip had lived 
for the most part on huge wingless grass- 
hoppers, which clumsily fell about their moc- 
casins as they walked. 

History is singularly destitute relating to the 
future movements of Roi, but Narcisse Le- 
Clerc was a live wire for several years that 
followed. 



CHAPTER VIII 



TOSHUA PILCHER AND FORTY-FIVE TRAPPERS 



When Manuel Lisa died, in August, 1820, 
Joshua Pilcher succeeded him as manager of 
the Missouri Fur Company. Pilcher followed 
the much used route up the Missouri river for 
several years. 

He was with Leavenworth and Ashley in the 
Arikara fight which was participated in by 
Hiram Scott and others familiar in Scotts Bluff 
history. This little event on the Missouri and 
subsequent bitterness between him and Colonel 
Leavenworth, and the increased hostility of 
the Arikaras after the Leavenworth fiasco, 



caused the Platte river to lie selected for 
Pilcher's operations. 

For a while he confined himself to short 
journeys up the river as far as Grand Island 
where he met trappers coming from the moun- 
tains, and up the Loup and other tributaries 
trading with the Pawnees. 

In September, 1827, he started from Coun- 
cil Bluffs, where he had a trading station, with 
a party of forty-five trappers for Salt Lake 
Valley. This was the first recorded time of 
his journeying above "the coast of the Platte," 



16 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



as the bluffs on either side of the river from 
Kearney west were afterwards named. 

The original Council Bluffs were on the 
west side of the Missouri, and some twenty-five 
miles up the river from the present site of the 
modern city of that name. They were so 
named because of a famous council held there 
between the Indian tribes and Lewis and 
Clarke. About twenty trading posts had been 
established between these bluffs and the mouth 
of the Platte. 

Pilcher followed the usual method and di- 
vided his party at the forks of the Platte, a 
small detachment crossing both forks of the 
river near that point, and going up the south 
side of the "South River." with instructions 
to join the main party in the vicinity of the 
"Southern Pass." 

With thirty men he proceeded up the north 
side of the "North river," leaving the forks of 
the river on September 25th. 

On the 27th he passed the Birdwood, and 
October 4th found them "opposite the low ly- 
ing, fantastic bluffs, resembling citadels, castles, 
towers, and other works of man." 

"The Chimney" was passed the following 
day. and so far as I have been able to find, this 
is the first time it was called "chimney," by 
early travelers. Two days after they crossed 
the meadows, and camped opposite the "first 
real mountain on the journey." At this time 
Scotts Bluff had not received its name. 

Buffalo herds were drifting southward, and 
there were thousands of them. They were 
being chased into the valley by friendly In- 
dians from the north, who were laying in their 
winter supply of meat. And the southern 
tribes, hungry and hostile, were meeting them 
a) tin- river, and chasing them over the hills to 
the south. On the morning of October Sth, a 
large herd was espied in the valley to the 
westward, and the hunters experienced no dif- 
ficult) in crossing the river, as it was at low 
water stage. Several fat buffalo were slaugh- 
tered in what later became known as Mitchell 
valley. The robes and choicest cuts of the 
meat, and the tallow were saved, and the bal- 
ance left to the wolves. 

The hard life of the trapper would indeed 
have been mure serious had it not been for 
the buffalo, They furnished much of the sub- 
sistence required, and thereby the long jour- 
neys through the prairie country to the moun- 
tain- was quite as profitable to the trapping 
fraternity as the time spent in the shadows 
of the mountains. 

Two days later the party passed the point 
of rocks west of Morrill.' and on the 13th 
crossed the Platte river above the mouth of 



the Laramie. By October 15th the party was 
well out of the part of the country of which 
our story tells. 

On reaching the Sweetwater, Pilcher had 
his horses stolen. He cached his supplies and 
went through the South Pass light. A num- 
ber of his men, having arrived in the moun- 
tains, deserted, and no doubt some of them 
were with LeClerc the following year, when 
Hiram Scott was left to die. 

Pilcher had one of the most wonderful trips 
ever made in the mountains, going with only 
one companion for many hundreds of miles. He 
returned to St. Louis in June, 1830, and after 
the death of General Clarke in 1838, he became 
Superintendent of Indian affairs, which posi- 
tion he held for nine years. It was under his 
regime that Andrew Drips became Indian 
Agent at Fort Laramie at a later date, much to 
the advantage of the American Fur Company, 
then operating a trading post at that point. 

In 1826, three of the "enterprising young 
men," who accompanied General Ashley in 
1823, organized a company and Ashley wishing 
to retire from the fur trade, sold out to them. 
Ashley was about $200,000 in debt at the time 
he began operations, but he retired in 1826 with 
a fortune of over $300,000. 

The style of the new firm was Smith, Jack- 
son & Sublette. The senior member, Jebediah 
Smith, was a great, great uncle of Mrs. C. P. 
Calhoun, who lived near the signal point seven 
miles northeast of Scottsbluff, a few years ago. 

One of the prettiest valleys in the mountains 
and one of the most charming nature spots of 
the west were named after Jackson — the Jack- 
son holes and Jackson lake. 

William Sublette was one of the characters 
in history building in the western country for 
several years, and it is right that more than 
passing mention be made of him and his 
achievements. He was born in 1799 and at 
the age of nineteen started in business for him- 
self by ope/iing a billiard hall at Saint Charles, 
Missouri. He was a Kentuckian, and his fath- 
er was said to be the man who killed Chief Te- 
cumseh. 

His first visit into this country was on the 
trip up the valley with General Ashley in 
1823, when Scott was one of the party. 

Sublette had several brothers in the wilder- 
ness, one of whom, Milton, died at Fort Lara- 
mie in 1836. William was a thorough moun- 
taineer, a man with a frank and open counte- 
nance, very expressive ; was light complection- 
ed and had blue eyes. He stood six feet two 
in his moccasins. 

In the years 1827-1828 and 1829, Sublette 
was the member of the firm that conveyed pel- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



17 



tries to market and provisions and merchandise 
into the mountains. He used pack horses and 
mules for the most part, and followed the 
trail of Jacques Laramie. 

This partnership with Smith and Jackson 
ended in 1831 upon the death of Smith. And 
immediately thereafter he formed a partner- 
ship with Robert Campbell, another of General 
Ashley's "enterprising young men." 

Going a little ahead of my story, Campbell, 
in June, 1835, with thirteen men, began the 
erection of a trading post about a mile from 
the mouth of the Laramie river, and in honor 
of William Sublette he named it Fort William. 
This was the beginning of Fort Laramie. 

The partnership was dissolved in 1842, when 
Sublette retired from mountain trade, and in 
July, 1845, while on his way to Washington 
he was taken ill and died. The Sublette fam- 
ily is now extinct. 



William Sublette died independently weal- 
thy, being one of the few fur traders who 
made money, and kept any of it. He was mar- 
ried March 21, 1844, to an Alabama lady nam- 
ed Miss Frances Hereford, and Chittendon 
tells this little romance which is not without its 
human interest. 

Miss Hereford had a prior attachment for 
a younger brother, Solomon, but William had 
the greater fortune, and it turned the scale in 
his favor. Soon after his marriage he made 
a will giving his fortune to her at his death 
in case she did not change her name. He died 
on the 2d of July, 1845, and the lady later 
married her first love, Solomon, that probably 
being the intention of William when he put 
the provision in his will. 



CHAPTER IX 
FIRST WAGONS ON OVERLAND TRAILS 



The valley of the "Flat W r ater" had become 
well known as a highway for trappers. While 
data of special trips are a little difficult to ob- 
tain, yet mention is made frequently of the 
movement of some voyageur, or pack caravan, 
and it is stated that "they took the usual Platte 
and Sweetwater route." 

This valley is still relatively new as a thor- 
oughfare. Some day in the not far distant fu- 
ture there will be streaming east and west, long 
strings of Pullmans as the Overland pants its 
way from sea to sea ; and Transcontinental 
tourists motoring east and west will be as 
common as emigrants were on Oregon trail. 

Away back yonder the trapper found it, and 
it was new to him, but for generations the 
aborigines had traveled up and down the val- 
ley, and before their time wild animals trailed 
along the banks of the Platte, ever looking for 
that greener pasture a little farther on. 

Wherever the foot of man goeth, there have 
been others before. It seems a part of destiny. 
The old world whirls on, blazing a trail across 
the wilderness of space, yet probably the path 
it moves along has been worn smooth by va- 
grant worlds still moving on before. 

Having traversed this part of the wilderness 



with a pack horse several times, it was quite 
natural that one should look for easier modes 
of conveyance. Thus it was that in the early 
spring of 1830 two years before Captain Bon- 
neville made his journey up the Platte, Will- 
iam Sublette set out with a party of trappers 
from St. Louis. 

He had ten wagons, each laden with about 
a ton of merchandise and drawn by five mules, 
two light vehicles drawn by one mule each, and 
eighty men mounted on mules. With the cara- 
van were twelve cattle, and one milch cow. The 
cattle were for food until they should reach 
the buffalo country. 

They moved up the Missouri river to the 
mouth of the Platte, and followed the north 
bank of the Platte into the mountains. 

It was in June that the first wagons on the 
Overland Trail passed through the Scotts 
Bluff country. They traveled at the rate of 
about fifteen miles a day through the prairie 
country, slowing down when reaching the 
mountains. 

About the middle of August the wagons 
laden with peltries, returned through the val- 
ley, and arrived at St. Louis early in October. 

Speaking of this trip, Smith, Jackson and 



18 



I IIS TORN' OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Sublette wrote a letter in October, 1830, to 
Chouteau, which found its way into the Cong- 
gressional Record. It covers a wide variety of 
subjects. The feasibility of carrying on traffic 
by wagon trains to the Columbia river country 
comes in for a liberal share. 

( Ine quotation of interest to the North "Platte 
river is: "We began to fall in with the buf- 
faloes on the Platte, about three hundred and 
fifty miles from the white settlements; and 
from that time on, lived on buffaloes, the 
quantity being infinitely beyond what we 
needed." 

This directly refers to the country from Gar- 
den county to the mountains. This letter is 
found in Sen. Doc. 39, 21st Cong. 2d Ses. 

The following spring another caravan was 
made up, and proceeded along the identical 
route, but on the return trip stopped at the 
mouth of the Platte. And from this time for a 
few years, the plan was to bring merchandise 
by water up the Missouri to the Platte, then 
by wagons into the mountains. Returning 
parties brought wagons to the Missouri and 
transferred the beaver to boats, letting the 
mules rest while the journey was made to St. 
Louis and return. 

Thomas Forsyth in a letter to the Secretary 
of War in October, 1831, called the river "The 
Little Platte," and also outlined the route as 
above given. 

The rendezvous agreed upon in 1830 was 
on what was then called "Wind river," but 
which is now the "Popo Agie." for Sublette 
speaks of the "Southern Pass," (no doubt 
South Pass) and he said that wagons could 
easily be taken this route through the moun- 
tains. The average time of the 1300 mile 
trip was thirteen miles per day. And between 
June 5th and June 25th they made the trip 
from the foiks of the Platte to "Laramie's 
Rendezvous." 

The death of Hiram Scott on the mountains 
"i- bluff, bad at last given it a name, and 
"Scott's Bluff" smm became known as a land- 
mark by practically every trapper in the wild- 
and H brought about a change in the 
habits (if the fraternity in journeys up and 
down the valley. 

If there is one sentimenl in which the whole 
human race is in accord, that sentiment is the 
desire to \ isil a graveyard. 

There is an indescribable thrill that stirs 
' Of a soldier win. takes off his hat 
at the grave of a comrade who has s h; 
him the perils of war. 

'I lure is an emotion that moves the slates- 
man when he stands uncovered Inf., re the 



mausoleum of another who has shared with 
him the inspirations of nation building. 

We, of the humbler walks of life, have ours, 
beside the little mound where rests a brother 
of toil with whom we have labored shoulder 
to shoulder. The Indian passes the burial tree 
as often as he conveniently can. So, with old 
trappers. Could they conveniently pass the 
grave of a comrade who had shared the joys 
and tribulations of the wilderness, they would 
have taken some additional hazard for the 
privilege. 

What old cowman of this country has not 
yisited "Boot's Graveyard," at Sidney, where 
sleep many of the comrades of the days of 
Creighton, Snodgrass, Coad, Sheedy and Rob- 
inson — cowboys who died with their boots 
on, and were buried booted and spurred ready 
for the long ride to the "Home Ranch?" 

Trappers began to take the southside route 
through Mitchell Pass by the Scottsbluff 
spring, that they might do homage to the mem- 
ory of Scott. Before buffalo and Arapahoes 
reached the river in the annual movement to 
the north, the route was comparatively free 
from danger. 

It was but a few years after the death 
of Scott that Captain Gant won the friendship 
of the Arapahoes, and their hostility to the 
whites for the time ceased. About the same 
time the hostile spirit of the Indians on the 
Missouri river in Dakota began to percolate 
through the tribes to the north. The Ogallalas 
and Tetons became suspicious of white people 
when they discovered them on friendly terms 
with the Arapahoes, and the result was preda- 
tory raids upon the Overland. 

In April, 1831, seventy men under Zenas 
Leonard for Gant & Blackwell, left St. Louis, 
and on the first of August, arrived at the 
forks of the Platte. The next month was 
spent in the North river country between the 
forks and the Laramie river. The slow prog- 
ress was made because of side trips hunting 
and trapping, on Gonneville creek, and over 
on Blue Water, and to L'Eau qui court, and 
in the chalk mountains from the present Court 
House Rock to Signal Buttes. 

At the Laramie, the party divided for the 
fall trapping campaign. Many of them were 
never heard from again, some found their way 
to Santa Fe, and others to Gant & Blackwell's 
fort on the Arkansas. Twenty-one men un- 
der A. K. Stevens, a grandson of Daniel 
Roone. worked up towards the Laramie moun- 
tains. During the winter they lost all their 
horses, and after an ineffectual attempt to 
reach Santa Fe, returned to the Laramie ren- 
dezvous in April, 1832. stripped of nearlv 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



19 



everything of value, as they were on the line 
of clashes between the northern and southern 
tribes. 

In the early summer of 1832, a general 



i rendezvous of all the fur companies and trap- 
pers had been arranged for at Pierre's Hole, 
some six hundred miles to the northwest. 

Fitzpatrick and Bridger were to be there 
with supplies which William Sublette was to 
bring from St. Louis. To hurry him along 
Fitzpatrick took two of their fleetest horses 
and went to meet him. 

This was Sublette's third wagon caravan 
and as usual he had the wagons loaded with 
about a ton each and five mules to the wagon, 
besides a number of mounts. 

On the seventh of June, Fitzpatrick crossed 
the Laramie river and started for Scotts Bluff 
mountains. When opposite, and a little above 



Signal Buttes, he espied the caravan on the 
north side of the river, near the present site 
of Morrill. 

On the tenth of June, he crossed the river, 
by swimming his horses, as the water was 
high. The meeting of these two hardened 
hunters — one from the mountains and the 
other fresh from the white man's world, was 
an event that called for liberal libations, and 
much genialty. 

Being admonished of the urgent need of 
haste, Sublette left his famous old cow and 
she was never seen again. Spurred onward, 
he made the six hundred miles to Pierre's 
Hole in thirty-two days. 

The party picked up the remnant of Gant & 
Blackwell's trappers at the Laramie, fording 
the Platte at that point. 



CHAPTER X 
WYETH, OF "CAPE COD BAY," AND HIS "DOWN EASTERS' 



When William Sublette was coming up the 
Missouri river in the spring of ;1832, the 
boat stopped at Independence and took on a 
party of New Englanders. This party had 
little to commend it to the mountains except 
its purpose and the indomitable will of its 
members. Otherwise they were wholly un- 
fitted for mountain, adventure, by liack of 
experience, equipment, knowledge of Indians, 
habits of wild game, or even the use of fire- 
arms. 

This was Nathaniel J. Wyeth, of Boston 
and his "down easters." Wyeth learned where 
Sublette and party were bound, and with the 
directness and frankness of the New England- 
er character he told him his purpose and di- 
lemma. Sublette readily agreed that the two 
parties travel together. On the way across the 
prairies. Sublette's experienced hunters had 
taught the New Englanders how to hunt, and 
much other necessary information of the wild- 
erness, and by this time they were much bet- 
ter equipped for the emergencies of the moun- 
tains. Horses had been acquired at the mouth 
of the Platte, and the party were all well 
mounted and had plenty to pack their mer- 
chandise. 

Wyeth's definite purpose was to establish 



posts on the Columbia, and supply them from 
ships around "the Horn," using the ships to 
convey the peltries back to market. The 
plan was not successful. He always felt out 
of his element in the mountains, and the full 
force of the hardships fell heavily upon him. 
He frequently wrote in a discouraging vein. 
"I am sitting on a rock with plain dried buf- 
falo as my entire meal." "I gave the boys 
some alcohol, more than was good for the 
peace of the party, and went on a good sized 
spree myself," etc. 

Wyeth raised the American flag over the 
wilderness of Idaho, when he built Fort Hall, 
and on the Columbia over the lost Astoria. 
But in the end he sold his fort on Wappatoo 
island to the Hudson Bay, and Fort Hall was 
burned in a Blackfeet Indian raid, in which 
the hardy mountaineers, Rezner and Robin- 
son lost their lives. 

In the later vigorous years of the formation 
of Oregon territory when Senator Benton of 
Missouri, was hammer and tongs after Ore- 
gon recognition. New England was reluctant 
to sustain the spirit of enterprise exemplified 
by Nathaniel J. Wyeth. 

Now at the time Fitzpatrick met Su'olette 
and Wyeth near Morrill, another wagon train 



20 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



was nearing the forks of the Platte river. The 
party had left Fort Osage, on the first day of 
May, with twenty wagons drawn by oxen, and 
further consisted of a large number of horses 
with one hundred and ten men under the 
leadership of Captain B. L. E. Bonneville, and 
his able lieutenants, M. S. Cerre and I. R. 
Walker. 

They had followed the Sante Fe trail to 
White riume's agency, then blazed a new trail 
in a northwesterly course, which has since 
been followed by many thousands of emigrants 
striking the Platte near Grand Island, then 
called "Great Island." 

Had they reached this point some ten days 
earlier, they might have observed upon the 
north side of the river the wagon train of Will- 
iam Sublette, and the caravan of horses used 
by Wyeth's party. 

On arriving at the forks of the Platte, they 
found the South fork impassible for fording 
and proceeded two day's journey up the river 
before affecting a crossing. 

They then removed the wheels from their 
wagons, and improvised boats by stretching 
buffalo hides under the wagon boxes and 
smearing them with a compound of ashes and 
buffalo tallow. And on this identical day, June 
13, 1832, William Sublette and Nathaniel J. 
Wyeth were fording the North fork at the 
point just above its junction with the "Lara- 
mie." 

It would be utterly impossible to improve 
upon the language of Washington Irving in 
describing this trip. And I would not vary 
from it in the least, except that I want to 
identify spots of interest by modern land- 
marks, and include events connected with 
Bonneville's experiences, which I have ob- 
tained from other sources than Irving's nar- 
rative. 

Irving and Bonneville were less familiar 
with the North Platte valley than are many of 
our readers, or the trappers who for twenty 
years had used the natural highway. Irving 
says "Of the other [meaning the North River] 
branch he knew nothing. Its sources might 
lie among inaccessible cliffs, and tumble and 
foam down rugged defiles and over craggy 
precipices. But its direction was the true 
course, and up this stream he determined to 
prosecute his route." 

The crossing of the South fork was effected 

near the | siti of Sutherland, and "a 

march of nine miles took them over the high 
rolling prairie to tin- North fork." 

"Skirting the North fork for a day or two, 
I) annoyed by the misquitos, and buf- 
falo gnats, they reached, on the evening of 
June 17th, a -mall but beautiful grove, from 



which issued the confused notes of singing 
birds, the first they had heard since crossing the 
boundary of Missouri." This is the ravine 
that became historical as Ash Hollow. 

"It was a beautiful sunset, and the sight of 
the glowing rays, mantling the tree tops and 
rustling of branches, gladdened every heart. 
They pitched their camp in the grove, kindled 
their fires, partook merrily of their rude fare, 
and resigned themselves to the sweetest sleep 
they had enjoyed since their outset upon the 
prairies." 

The country now became more rugged and 
broken. High bluffs advanced upon the river 
and forced the travelers to occasionally leave 
its banks and wind their course into the in- 
terior. 

Captain Bonneville ascended the high cliffs 
back of Chimney rock, and looked over the 
valley. "As far as the eye could reach the 
country seemed absolutely blackened with in- 
numerable herds" of buffalo. "No language 
could convey an adequate idea of the vast liv- 
ing mass thus presented to the eye. He re- 
marked that the bulls and the cows generally 
congregated in separate herds." 

Here they began to see blacktail deer, which 
abounded in the hills, and were larger than the 
"prairie species," or antelope. 

In the gap back of Castle rock they discov- 
ered the trail of four or five pedestrians, which 
later proved to be Crow spies, who had dogged 
the train in secret for several days, astonished 
at wagons and oxen, and especially a cow and 
a calf which were sedately following the cara- 
van. 

Crow Indians were not habitually along this 
part of the Platte, their habitat being in the Big 
Horn mountains and Basin. Had they been 
familiar with; the valley, they might have 
observed in the last two years, the wagons 
in Sublette's several caravans. 

The discovery of these moccasin tracks put 
the party upon its guard, for "when you can 
see no Indians is just the time to look out for 
them." is a part of Jim Bridger's philosophy. 
Inasmuch as Bridger came to the mountains 
with General Ashley in 1823, and was guide 
during the Indian wars as late as 1865, it may 
be accepted that he ought to know. 

"On the 21st," Bonneville's party "camped 
amid the high and beetling cliffs of indurated 
clay and sandstone, bearing the semblance of 
towers, castles, churches, and fortified cities. 
At a distance it is scarcely possible to persuade 
one's self that the works of art were not 
mingled with these fantastic freaks of nature." 

Five years earlier Joshua Pilcher lias sim- 
ilarlv remarked their formation. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XI 
NEZ PERCE AND CROW INDIANS — CROW CREEK NAMED 



After arriving at the famous mountain, 
Bonneville gives an abbreviated story of the 
naming of "Scotts, Bluff" which has been 
heretofore given in detail. The story then con- 
tinues : 

"Amid the wild and striking scenery, Cap- 
tain Bonneville for the first time beheld flocks 
of ahsahta or bighorn, an animal which fre- 
quents the cliffs in great numbers. They ac- 
cord with the nature of the scenery, and add 
much to its romantic effect; bounding like 
goats from crag to crag, often trooping along 
the lofty shelves of the mountain under the 
guide of some venerable patriarch, with horns 
twisted lower than his muzzle, and sometimes 
peering over the edge of a precipice, so high 
that they appear scarce bigger than crows. In- 
deed, it seems to be a pleasure to them to seek 
the most rugged and frightful situations, 
doubtless from the feeling of security." 

On the 22nd of June, Captain Bonneville 
negotiated the passage of the big gap in the 
mountain, experiencing considerable difficulty. 
Thus were wagons taken over this road for the 
first time in history, and the gateway between 
the mountains and the plain on the south side 
of the river opened — a gateway through which 
has since poured enough people to populate 
an empire. 

Before evening of this eventful day they 
had reached the upper part of Mitchell valley, 
and the following day crossed Horse creek 
about the hour of noon. 

In the evening of the 23rd they went into 
camp on a small, but pretty meadow near the 
present state line. As they were lighting their 
campfires for preparation for their evening 
meal, they were startled by seeing an elkskin 
craft bearing four Indians shoot silently into 
the stream from the overhanging cottonwoods 
upon the north shore, and rapidly approach the 
camp. 

They proved to be the deputation of Nez 
Perce Indians (meaning pierced nosed In- 
dians) which had been sent from their nation 
over on the Columbia to the White Fathers of 
the east, to learn of the White Man's Book 
and the Great Spirit of the White People. 

Bonneville remarked they were far from 
their native habitat, and while they had pre- 
viously met the wagons of Sublette they were 
greatly impressed with "wigwams on wheels," 
and the "long horned buffalo." 

On the 24th, as the caravan was slowly trav- 



ersing the Hunting Meadows, the scouts which 
Captain Bonneville always kept on ahead, came 
galloping back with the cry of "Indians." 

Preparations were made for an attack, as 
the Indians were reported to be Crows, and 
believed to be warlike and crafty. Suddenly 
out of the adjoining hills there burst, with all 
the wildness and suddenness of a mountain 
storm, sixty warriors in battle array, painted 
and bedecked in all the colors and trappings 
of aborigines, and they thundered down upon 
the party, with many a wild and dexterous 
evolution. 

"Their mode of approach, to one not ac- 
quainted with the tactics and ceremonies of 
the rude chivalry of the wilderness, had an 
air of direct hostility. They came galloping 
forward in a body, as if about to make a fur- 
ious charge, and when close at hand opened to 
the right and left and wheeled in wide circles 
around the travelers, whooping and yelling like 
maniacs. 

"This done their mock fury settled into a 
calm, and the chief, approaching the captain, 
who had remained warily drawn up, though 
informed of the pacific nature of the maneuv- 
er, extended to him the hand of friendship. 
The pipe of peace was smoked and now all was 
good fellowship. 

"The Crows were in pursuit of a band of 
Cheyennes, who had attacked their village in 
the night, and killed one of their people. They 
had been five and twenty days on the track of 
the marauders, and were determined not to 
return home until they had sated their re- 
venge." 

This was accomplished, some fifty or sixty 
miles to the southward, where they surprised 
their enemies. The maurauders believed that 
they had passed out of the danger zone of pur- 
suit, and had in a measure relaxed their vigi- 
lance. 

They lost three scalps in the engagement that 
followed, which satisfied their pursuers. War 
signs were left by the Crows, as a warning for- 
ever to the Cheyennes ; and from this circum- 
stance, Indians and whites who since have 
visited the ravine south of Pine Bluffs, refer- 
red to it as "Crow Creek," which name it bears 
today. The cow and calf with Bonneville's 
party came in for a full share of attention. 
The Indians remarked their extreme docility, 
and thought the calf must be "great Medicine," 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



but their ideas were dashed when the men of- 
fered to trade it for a pony. 

The extreme friendliness of the Indians was 
considerable of a nuisance to the members of 
the party, but was endured, and after they had 
gone upon their journey, they found many of 
them had lost their hunting knives, which ex- 
plained the motive of the Indian's caresses. 

Some days later the war party returned to 
the Platte, and followed Bonneville's trail until 
overtaking the caravan, in order to exhibit 
the scalps of their adversaries. They then pro- 
ceeded toward the northwest "to appease the 
manes of their comrades by proofs that his 
death had been avenged, and they intended to 
have scalp dances and other triumphal re- 
joicings." 

On the 26th, Bonneville's party camped at 
Laramie's fork "a clear and beautiful stream 
rising in the southwest, maintaing an average 
width of twenty yards, and winding through 
broad meadows, abounding in currants and 
gooseberries, and adorned with groves and 
clumps of trees. 

Here Bonneville tells of his observations, 
and Irving includes the story of the building 
of Fort William. He tells also that in 1835, 
Robert Campbell descended the river in boats, 
thus proving what had always been in doubt, 
that the river was navigable. Of course this 
was Irving's opinion, but the facts have been 
related that fleets of boats had for years been 
descending the river, laden with peltries. 

The boniface captain, the "bald chief." as 
the Indians called him, is now passing out of 
Scotts Bluff country, so w r e will not follow his 
rambles in the wilderness. 

In the spirit of fairness, one would think 



that mention would have been made of wagons 
on the trail before Bonneville's party, for 
there must have been abundant evidences of 
the existence of Sublette's caravan, which had 
preceded them at the Laramie river only 
thirteen days. 

But Bonneville was of French extraction, 
and the national characteristic is exaggeration 
and boast fulness. He was likely to omit any- 
thing that detracted from his glory. Bancroft 
is exceedingly severe in his criticism of Bonne- 
ville. Irving, who was Bonneville's chronicler 
of events, was a novelist. And one who has 
read Irving much is frequently amused at his 
exaggerations of the character of his heroes. 
Should his principal character, together with 
others, go on a spree, his would always "main- 
tain the dignity of a gentleman, although in- 
toxicated," while the other would be "beastly 
drunk." 

Farther in the wilderness, over on the Green 
river. Captain Bonneville accused Fontenelle 
of taking from him some of his Delaware In- 
dian guides, with promise of better wages. As 
Fontenelle has much to do with Nebraska his- 
tory in subsequent years, readers will become 
acquainted with him, and they will find it hard 
to believe that he ever took unfair advantage 
of any one. In fact the Delawares were form- 
erly of Fontenelle's party, and only attached 
themselves to Bonneville to make their way 
into the wilderness again, of which purpose 
the captain was probably unaware. 

Some two and a half years later, the rem- 
nant of Bonneville's party came back over the 
trail which he had traversed, and which later 
became one of the most remarkable highways 
in the history of the world. 



CHAPTER Xll 



.ITTI.K MOON LAKE — FAMOUS MISSIONARIES 



June 22. 1X.i2, an elkskin boat bearing four 
Indians came plunging out of the rapids at the 
lower end of Platte canyon and pulled in upon 
the shore, making camp at about the present 
site of Guernsey. < >n the following day they 
■ 1 down the river to a grove upon what 
to be .hi island. To the right of it. 
the waters rushed with increasing velocity, but 
on the left were invitingly quiet, 



They pulled in for their regular night's rest 
upon a pretty lagoon, and found that its lower 
extremity was banked by a beaver dam. These 
animals had cut the trees and built a substan- 
tial structure across what had been a channel 
of the Platte. This lagoon is now known as 
Little Moon Lake. 

It was nearly nightfall, when they discov- 
ered, upon the opposite bank of the river, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



something that filled them with wonder and 
amazement. Long horned buffalo were trail- 
ing wigwams into a grass plot, where Captain 
Bonneville and party were about to make 
camp. 

About noon the following day, the swift cur- 
rent of the river carried the four strangers 
"near the breast of a mountain on which they 
could plainly see bighorns," and at night they 
passed "the wigwam," no doubt referring to 
Chimney rock. 

Then there was the long journey through 
prairies the like of which they had never 
dreamed, and at the river mouth they were 
taken on a keel-boat coming down the Mis- 
souri. 

General Clarke, a brother of the explorer, 
was then superintendent of Indian affairs at 
St. Louis, and when these Indians met him and 
told him their mission, he was dumbfounded. 

It seemed that Lewis and Clarke had left 
some fragmentary knowledge of religion with 
the tribe when they visited it in 1804, and this, 
with rude fragments of Christianity that came 
to them from French, had left the tribe with a 
thirst for more knowledge of the Book of Life. 

And these four "savages" had braved the 
terrors of an unknown and perilous wilderness, 
on a three thousand mile journey in search of 
the Christ. They had "seen his Star in the 
East." 

General Clarke entertained and fed them 
royally after the manner of white people, but 
it was too much for their uneducated systems, 
and the two elder members of the party died 
from excesses. The others remained for some 
time, being taken from one manner of white 
man's amusements to another, and finally on 
the announcement of their intention to return 
to their people, they were given a farewell 
banquet. 

At this affair one of the guests of honor 
arose at the request of General Clarke, and 
this is the literal translation of the redman's 
address : 

"I come to you over a trail of many moons 
from the setting sun. You were the friends 
of my Fathers who have all gone the long 
way. I came with an eye partly open for my 
people, who sit in darkness. I go back with 
both eyes closed. How can I go back to my 
blind people? I made my way to you with 
strong arms, through many enemies and 
strange lands, that I might carry much back 
to them. I go back with both arms broken 
and empty. 

"Two fathers came with us, and they were 
the braves of many Winters and wars. We 
leave them asleep by your great waters and 



wigwams. They were tired in many moons 
and the moccasins wore out. My people sent 
me to get the white man's Book of Heaven. 
You took me where they worship the Great 
Spirit with candles, and the Book was not 
there. You showed me images of the good 
spirits, and the picture of the good land be- 
yond, but the Book was not among them to 
tell us the way. 

"I am going back the long and sad trail 
to my people in the dark land. You make 
my feet heavy with gifts, and my moccasins 
will grow old carrying them, yet the Book is 
not among them. When I tell my poor blind 
people, after one more snow, in the big council, 
that I did not bring the Book, no word will be 
spoken by our old men or our young braves. 
One by one they will rise up in silence and 
go out. My people will die in darkness, and 
they will go the long way to other hunting 
grounds. No white man will go with them, 
and no white man's Book will be there to make 
the way plain. I have no more words." 

This Macedonian cry, "come over and help 
us," given by this brave upon his departure on 
the long journey home, was published in the 
Christian Advocate, in March, 1833, and made 
a profound sensation. It started missionaries 
all over the west. 

The two Lees, Jason and Daniel, were the 
first to respond, and they went for the Metho- 
dist church, in 1834. While their trip through 
this country was without any startling inci- 
dent, they became powers in the great north- 
west, and founded the Methodist faith upon a 
most enduring basis in the Puget Sound coun- 
try, and on the Williamette river. 

The Presbyterians, in 1835, sent Whitman 
and Parker into Oregon. And what man with 
one spark of patriot blood, does not know Mar- 
cus Whitman? Whitman and his bride made 
their wedding journey through the valley of 
the "Flat Water." and perished as martyrs at 
the hands of the people they went to save. 

In 1840, Father Peter De Smet, went out 
for the Catholics into the great inter-moun- 
tain region. Some two hundred miles to the 
northwest of Scottsbluff is an extinct crater 
of a volcano, and the basin has filled with the 
clear sweet water of the Big Horn mountains. 
The lake, fed by everlasting springs, is named 
Lake De Smet. ~ 

There were many other heroic bearers of 
the Cross in the wilderness, but forever will 
the names of Jason and Daniel Lee. Marcus 
Whitman, Samuel Parker and Peter De Smet 
be heard, for the dangers which they braved 
and the foundations they laid for Christian re- 
ligion in the mighty wilderness of the west. 



24 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



About the first of June, 1833, two braves 
of the Nez Perce tribe, carried their burdens 
with meloncholy tread along the valley of 
the "Flat Water," then beautiful in the ver- 
dure of early summer. They reached the top 
of a slight eminence beyond the thicket of 
mountain ash. later described as "Ash Hollow." 
and they heard the whistling of song birds, 
and paused. The grove gave forth a multitude 
of sounds. In the thrilling silence of the at- 
mosphere, they heard the call of nature to their 
souls. Their sagging spirits were being reno- 
vated by the Great Spirit of the universe. In 
the shimmering mirage of the west they saw 
the silhouettes of mountains — the wigwam, and 
far away the dim trembling outline of Scotts- 
bluff. 



And glad to see the beginning of their na- 
tive element — the mountains — they sent rev- 
erberating up to the silent sky, the shrill and 
plaintive cry of the coast tribe Indians. They 
broke into a run — down into and out past the 
shadows of the grove, and on, until their 
bronzed figures danced and shivered and shim- 
mered in the glare of the setting sun. 

A few days later Reuleau, a trapper, saw 
one of them at the mouth of the Laramie, and 
saw him depart onward into the west. What 
happened to the other no one knows, and no 
white man knows if this one ever reached his 
people. 



CHAPTER XIII 



FORTS AT THE LARAMIE 



We should remark more fully of Jebediah 
Smith, the great, great uncle of Airs. C. P. Cal- 
houn, as he passed through the Scotts Bluff 
country in 1823, with General Ashley, in that 
he and his party of wilderness men were the 
first white men over the link of the Overland 
Trail from Salt Lake valley to California. This 
was accomplished in 1826. 

While on the Santa Fe Trail in 1831, he was 
killed by Comanches, and the firm of Smith 
Jackson & Sublette was dissolved. It was then 
that William Sublette and Robert Campbell 
became partners in transportaion and fur en- 
terprise. 

In 1834. Mr. Campbell accompanied Sublette 
to the mountains. The route taken was the 
cut off from Fort Osage to "Great Island," 
which had become considerable in use in the 
two years previous. 

They determined upon building a trading 
post at the junction of the Laramie and North 
Platte rivers, for from this point there were 
now two well established routes to St. Louis. 

The trail opened by Robert Stuart was first 
in use, but from the date of Bonneville's trip, 
until the great Mormon pilgrimage, in 1847, 
the southern route was mosl in use. After that 
time for two or three years, "the Council Bluffs 
route" held the big travel. 

The first fort at the Laramie was begun in 



June, 1834, and was built stockade plan, logs 
about forteen feet long set on end, enclosing the 
building of logs. This was after the pattern of 
so many early structures, which served the 
purpose of the wilderness men. 

Previously to this date, the Indians had 
learned to come to the rendezvous of free 
trappers, and many hundred of them journeyed 
annually to trade their peltries for the bright 
shining trinkets and tinsel so dear to their 
nature. 

After naming the place "Fort William," it 
occurred to Campbell that there were other 
Fort Williams in the west, and to prevent con- 
fusion in shipments, goods addressed to this 
point were marked "Fort William on the Lara- 
mie." 

In 1836, Adams and Sabylle built another 
stockade and trading post about a half-mile be- 
low Fort William on the Laramie, which they 
named "Fort John." after John P. Sarpy, who 
is a well known character in the history of 
Nebraska. 

Jacques Laramie, whom we have had occa- 
sion to mention heretofore, and who had by 
his life and death given the river and the moun- 
tains a name, was only incidentally responsible 
for the rechristening of Fort William. How 
"Fort Laramie" became a name in history was 
told by Antoine Ladeau, an interpreter of half 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



25 



a century ago, who accompanied General Con- 
nor on his Powder river expedition. 

Ladeau's father was a French-Creole and his 
mother a Pawnee squaw. When a small boy he 
was captured by the Sioux, by whom he was 
brought up. He was born on the Platte river, 
was an old timer at the Fort, and died about 
thirty years ago. This is the story handed 
down by John Hunton, now living at the old 
fort and who located there in the sixties. 

A mullet-headed shipping clerk in Campbell's 
store at St. Louis had difficulty in remembering 
names of the forts on the Laramie, and it 
seemed hopelessly mixed regarding the identi- 
ty of Fort William and Fort John. 

(Later Chittendon was about as badly con- 
fused, for he says Fort William was re-chris- 
tened Fort John when it was rebuilt. The date 
of the building of Fort John being identical 
with that of the rebuilding of Fort William no 
doubt led to this confusion.) 

One day, there being no one handy of whom 
this shipping clerk might inquire, he marked a 
number of bales and boxes destined for "Fort 
William on the Laramie," simply for "Fort 
Laramie," remembering only the river on which 
the fort was situated. Campbell, observing 
this, liked the idea and he changed the name as 
it would prevent confusion in future. This 
incident occurred some time after Sublette and 
Campbell had sold the fort, and while it was 
the property of the American Fur Company, 
who were extensive dealers at the Campbell 
commissar}'. 

It was in 1835 that Sublette and Campbell 
sold Fort William to a syndicate of famous 
trappers headed by Jim Bridger. And about 
the same time Lucien Fontenelle, with a large 
force of trappers for the American Fur Com- 
pany dropped down from the Big Horn coun- 
try, into the rich fields for beaver along the 
North Platte and its tributaries. 

Both he and Bridger had been too long in 
the mountains not to know the ruinous effect 
of stiff competition, and after some prelimin- 
aries the fort became a part of the American 
Fur Company, and Bridger and his associates 
became members thereof. Fontenelle was 
made general manager, and after that date 
they had practically all the fur trade of Wy- 
oming and western Nebraska. 

In later years there were many smaller es- 
tablishments that ran for a time, but the bulk 
of the business went to the well established 
American Fur Company. 

Among these smaller concerns was Adams 
and Sabylle who built Fort John in 1836, and 
who later built another fort on what finally be- 
came known as Sabylle creek. The latter fort 



was burned by Indians in about 1863. Fort 
Platte was built in 1842 by Pratt, Cabanne & 
Company on the narrow tongue of land at the 
point where the Platte and Laramie rivers 
unite. 

In 1836. the green stockade posts of Fort 
Laramie, showing signs of decay, it was rebuilt. 
There were at that time some Mexicans so- 
journing in this part of the wilderness, and they 
were employed to build it of adobe bricks. A 
solid wall enclosed all the buildings, and at 
the corners and over the gate were block, houses 
for defense. 

Under and around these walls for years 
thereafter, camped the nomadic and migratory 
thousands. Here the Indians came and loiter- 
ed, and then wandered away into the wilder- 
ness. Hundreds of trappers periodically ap- 
peared, and from here some journeyed to civ- 
ilization while others returned to the wilds. 
Thousands and thousands came from the east, 
and went on into the west ; some for homes 
on the Williamette and the Columbia, others to 
follow the trail of Jedediah Smith into the gold- 
en mecca of California. Adventurers going 
and coming across the continental divide drift- 
ed with the moving tide ; and later came, unfet- 
tered and free, the dauntless and undaunted 
cowmen. 

For the greater part of the year both rivers 
were fordable at this point, and here the two 
great trails from the east merged into one. 

Even so early as the operations of Manuel 
Lisa and Jacques Laramie the demoralizing 
effect of fire water upon savages required fed- 
eral intervention. Yet it was many years be- 
fore control over the traffic was anything like 
complete. Much liquor was smuggled in from 
the Spanish possessions at Santa Fe and Taos. 

Attaches of Fort John were extremely reck- 
less in the use of liquor. Fontenelle had early 
seen its demoralizing effect, changing good 
beaver hunters to fanatics after drink, and he 
determined to rid the North Platte valley of 
the lawlessness if possible. 

So when Joshua Pilcher became commission- 
er of Indian affairs after the death of Gen- 
eral Clarke, the influence of the American Fur 
Company was such that they were able to 
secure the appointment of Andrew Drips, an 
employee of the company at Fort Laramie, as 
resident agent. It raised quite a storm of 
protest from the other traders, but the depart- 
ment soon became fully advised that it was only 
because he enforced on other traders the same 
strict observances of liquor laws, that the 
American Fur Company had observed for 
years. 

Renegades from the Spanish domain found 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the hazards too great to be inviting, but con- 
tinued intermittent attempts to get liquor 
through to the North Platte valley. 

Finding the caches and destroying the liq- 
uors in the vicinity of the fort were so frequent 
that the traffic was soon practically abandoned. 

One outlaw, a squawman by name of Rich- 
ards, continued, however, and built a small 
stockade about six miles east of the fort on 



the south side of the river. He is mentioned 
by Francis Parkman, who visited him in 1847. 
This man Richards gave the federal authorities 
no little trouble, but in resisting a detachment 
from Fort Laramie, which had been seent out 
to destroy the quantity of liquor which he 
had brought in from the south, he was killed 
about 1850. 



CHAPTER XIV 



ROBIDEAUX OF ST. GENEVIEVE — KIOWA RAID BY RED CLOUD 



Sources of information in matters of his- 
tory are often widely scattered, and the stories 
themselves are made from putting together lit- 
tle fragments gathered here and there ; some 
from records, and others from ptrsonal en- 
counters with people having fragmentary 
knowledge of the events which one is trying 
to assemble. 

The stories herein contained, of Count Ger- 
main, of Basil Robideaux, and of Kiowa creek 
come to us through many sources. D'Adel- 
bert, Diderot, Chittendon, Bancroft, Parkman, 
Coutant, and other chroniclers of the past 
have each yielded up a portion, but perhaps 
the most valuable information we have in this 
connection comes from old timers living and 
dead who were of later generations here. 

There was Frank Vallet, a Frenchman; 
Hank Wise, the cross-eyed cowpuncher, 
both from old St. Genevieve ; and there was 
Nick Genice, a well known squawman living 
at the old Spotted Tail Agency which used to 
be upon the ground now occupied by the upper 
PF ranch. 

(For those who care to know, the exact lo- 
cation was where the spring house is now 
situated, just southeast of the big spring.) 

Last, but not least, there was old "Buck- 
skin Charley" White, the intrepid government 
scout. 

From these, and partly through the kindly 
offices of Perry Braziel, Runey Campbell and 
John Peters, I am able to patch together an 
interesting tale, which otherwise would likely 
have remained in obscurity, and forever lost. 
The story I feel is so nearly correct, that it 
can be vouched for as to accuracy, comparable 
with most history. 



"When wilderness was king" hereabout, the 
great center of commerce for mountain and 
plain was St. Louis. 

When Mallet Brothers penetrated the Scotts- 
bluff country, this was claimed as French 
territory. Cardinal Fluery, who was respon- 
sible for the Mallet expedition, died in 1742, 
and the prime minister of France who succeed- 
ed him, had less conception, or inspiration 
perhaps it should be called, of the coming em- 
pire. 

In 1748, Count Germain, one of the mys- 
terious characters of French history appeared. 
Who he was, where he came from, and how he 
obtained admittance to the exclusive French 
Court of the time, no history reveals. He 
claimed to be an alchemist, avowing to have 
discovered formulas for defying the ravages 
of time and age, and also of turning baser 
metals to gold. He said he was born 300 B. 
C. and expected to live forever. He was not 
an adventurer, for he had independent means, 
although the sources thereof were unknown. 
He was wonderfully informed, and talked in- 
telligently of conversations he claimed to have 
had with Christ, the Apostles, Pliny, Nero, and 
other people of the past. 

He became a favorite with Marchioness Le 
Pompadour, and was consulted upon many 
matters of state. Among other things he said 
that destiny required the disposition of French 
American territory to Spain. 

In 1762, the degenerate king made a secret 
sale of Louisiana territory to the Spanish 
Crown. And the sale has proven of especial 
significance to western Nebraska, for upon 
Spanish sovereignty, where the doctrine of 
appropriation of water for useful purposes 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



had been in force for centuries, is based a 
court decision in Nebraska, which is the foun- 
dation of all our irrigation appropriations. 
Francis G. Hamer, now upon the Supreme 
bench, is the man who contested for this de- 
cision, and won against the old English com- 
mon law of riparian rights. 

While the Spanish flag floated over the city 
of St. Louis, until Napoleon, with his tre- 
mendous energy appeared to change the maps 
of the world, the population of the city was 
largely French, and the voyageurs who allied 
with trapping, hunting and exploring expe- 
ditions, were largely of French extraction. 
Readers will note the preponderance of French 
names appearing in these stories. St. Gene- 
vieve, near St. Louis, was formerly one of 
the points much connected with this particu- 
lar territory. Many of these buoyant, laugh- 
ing, singing, industrious people, had to do 
with the taming of the wilderness about us. 

Partizans, as the leaders of trapping ex- 
peditions were called, found that French-Cre- 
oles were much better men for the routine 
camp work, and for knowing the habits of 
wild game. But when it came to time of pri- 
vation, stress, or danger, one Kentucky rifle- 
man was worth several of them. Under such 
conditions almost invariably, the French voy- 
ager would revert quickly to animal type, with 
sly and brutish instincts. Trappers had rea- 
son to believe that in many cases of hunger, 
they had resorted to cannibalism, perhaps cast- 
ing lots to see who should be the victim. 

Among the people from St. Genevieve, in 
1836, came one by the name of Basil Robi- 
deaux. This was not the Robideaux who 
formed a partnership with Papin, Chouteau 
and Berthold in 1819, or who built the posts 
at Rattlesnake Bluffs (now St. Joseph, Mis- 
souri) or on the Gunnison, or on the Unitah, 
but a humble kinsman, of a later generation. 

For a number of years, Basil Robideaux led 
a hard life in the wilderness. He had the 
smallpox in 1838 which swept with such viru- 
lence over the plains, and depopulated Indian 
tribes. And at this time, the instinct of self 
preservation caused his compaions to desert 
him, as they thought, to die. This was on the 
south bank of the river, a few miles east of 
Scotts Bluff mountain. 

Alone in the wilderness, sick unto death, 
and among hostile tribes, Robideaux looked up 
into the blue vault, thickly studded with 
eternal stars and counted the hours away. In 
the morning a Sioux medicine man found him, 
and treated him in the crude fashion of In- 
dians and he recovered. After that, he lived 
among the Sioux, and whenever he met one of 



the men who had left him, in his hour of sick- 
ness, he gave him an unmerciful drubbing. 

But with him the years went by with a suc- 
cession of disasters, and he suffered incredible 
hardships. His life tides ebbed low in melan- 
choly and misery. He became sullen and 
morose. After days of hunger he would fall 
in with the fortune to kill a deer, wolf or 
buffalo. All indifferent to its kind, indis- 
criminate as to its quality, he would greedily 
fill of its carcass bloodraw ; and striking a fire 
to keep away creatures that were a little more 
wild than he, he would lie down by the rem- 
nants of the half eaten carcass to sleep the 
fitful sleep of the jungle man ; while around 
him from the wilderness dark, two by two, 
burned luminous eyes of firewild hungry 
beasts. 

When the great tides of humankind started 
on the overland trail, in the early forties, Robi- 
deaux remembered his old trade as a black- 
smith, and took up his abode at Ft. Laramie, 
where he served the travelers by fixing their 
wagons, for enormous compensations, and by 
shoeing horses, mules and oxen, with hand 
forged shoes at the mild figure of three dol- 
lars per shoe. 

By the spring of 1848, he had accumulated 
enough to lay in a supply of traders goods, 
and removed to "Scotts Bluff Hills." Scotts 
Bluffs were originally designated in the plural, 
and extended along the range, intersecting with 
the main Chalk mountains to the south and 
southwest. 

Robideaux built a small trading station near 
the springs near the head of a canyon, and 
put up a blacksmith shop to continue his 
trade. John Evans Brown mentions him as 
"Rebedere," and says, "it was at that well 
known springs in the Scotts Bluffs." The 
springs referred to are those just above Wool- 
ridge's place. Brown was a forty-niner. Lat- 
er he moved farther from the hills apparently 
to avoid danger from Arapahoe raids. 

Some years later, Robideaux returned to his 
native city, St. Genevieve, old, browned and 
hardened, but with abundant means to put 
in the rest of his life without fear of poverty. 

History connects the naming of Kiowa creek 
with Robideaux, in that the same raiders from 
the souih who burned the trading post were 
the following morning completely wiped out 
on the creek. 

The regular hunting ground of the Kiowas 
is south of the Arkansas, and east of the Pur- 
gatory. As a tribe they are more often men- 
tioned as Comanches, by early writers. They 
wen- very warlike and treacherous, ami often 
engaged in raids upon emigrants along the 



28 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Santa Fe trail. On occasions, bands would 
reach the Platte, but not very frequently were 
they as far as the North river. 

About 1852 one of the predatory raids to 
the north was made, and a band of some fifty 
warriors and their families reached Indian 
Springs in the hills south of Gonneville or 
Pumpkin creek. 

Here they loitered for a short time, and 
then decided to move to the valley of the Flat 
Water. They followed the well known trail 
obliquely across the Gonneville valley, and up 
into the "V" north of Wildcat mountain. 
Emerging from the hills through Cedar can- 
yon, they struck west and destroyed the aban- 
doned Robideaux post. 

Crossing the hills, they stopped at a spring 
leading down to the northwest. Here they 
rested after their pillaging of the old post. 



At this time a dashing young Sioux warrior, 
with a small band of young braves, came 
down from the north, thinking perhaps to 
meet some of their ancient enemies, the Ara- 
pahoes. His spies discovering the camp of 
Kiowas, and being somewhat indiscriminate 
as to who should be his victims, he attacked 
the Kiowa camp. 

The attack was well planned, being made at 
dawn, and although a much smaller number, 
they made up for it in fire and youth. The 
Kiowas were utterly annihilated. In the ex- 
ultation of victory, the Sioux scoured the hills 
for refugees. A young squaw was found 
stolidly beside her dead brave, and was quick- 
ly sent to the shades to join her companion, 
after the manner of Indians. The leader of 
this band was Red Cloud. 



CHAPTER XV 
THE STEAMBOAT EL PASO HERE — REULEAU, THE TRAPPER 



Several persons have mentioned of having 
seen in Morton's History of Nebraska, and 
elsewhere, references to ruins of old adobe, 
where formerly stood a city or station of con- 
siderable proportions, including a blacksmith 
shop, as being upon "the east slope of Scotts 
Bluff," along the old Overland Trail. This 
reference is no doubt to old Robideaux, as no 
other such ruins exist, or is there any memory 
of them among old timers. And there are 
none on the line of the trail that leads through 
Mitchell Gap. 

The naming of several gaps in the bluffs is 
clear. Robideaux station doubtless led to the 
naming of the pass of that name, and the pas- 
sage through the hills to the north of the old 
post, toward Fort Mitchell (the pass south 
of A. C. Morrison's place) was formerly call- 
id Scotts Bluff Pass. After the passing of 
old Robideaux, the old Mitchell Pass fell into 
disuse, and in fact it was never much in use. 
and except for horses and footmen, is now 
entirely abandoned. Then the big gap in 
Scotts Bluff, through which the daily travel 
had reached hundreds, came into general con- 
versation and knowledge at Mitchell Gap, or 
Mitchell 1'ass, be. ,ni r hi Kurt Mitchell. .And 



through this pass the streams of humankind 
poured in the years which followed. 

Early in June, 1852, an event of more than 
passing moment came to the existence of Fort 
Mitchell. The wilderness about it, and the 
people at the fort, were startled by the scream 
of a steam whistle, and so far, as was within 
the knowledge of man here, there was no 
such thing nearer than the Missouri river. 

The winter previous had 'been one of con- 
siderable severity and much snow had fallen in 
the mountains. The spring had turned off 
bright and warm, and the river presented 
much the same aspect as it did in June, 1908, 
when it will be remembered, it was full from 
bank to bank. 

From the lookout of the fort, the first and 
only steamboat that was ever in the Scotts Bluff 
country, could be seen ascending the river. 
The El Paso, as it proved to be pulled into 
the bank below the fort, where now R. S. 
Hunt's stock go down to water, and made 
fast for the night. The next day the El Paso 
continued its journey up the Platte, and con- 
tinued to the mouth of the Platte canyon, 
where the current proved too strong for it to 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



29 



proceed farther, and the return journey was 
commenced. 

The advance up the river was made at the 
rate of about thirty-five miles per day, below 
the junction of the rivers, and from that 
point to Platte canyon the average was about 
twenty-five miles. On the return the boat trav- 
elled from seventy-five to ninety miles per 
day. 

On the trip both ways it was also found ne- 
cessary at times to use green cottonwood and 
ash for fuel, and to keep the fires burning re- 
quired liberal quantities of rosin and tar. 

The profound student, Edward Everett 
Hale, published a book in 1854, on Kansas and 
Nebraska, and refers to navigation of the 
Platte. He speaks of the El Paso in ascend- 
ing the Platte for five hundred miles, as an 
achievement which was never surpassed by 
a boat of its class. And that in early days, 
boats distinguishing themselves as did this 
craft, were entitled to wear a pair of elk's ant- 
lers, until another surpassed it. There has been 
none to surpass the El Paso and she still 
"wears the horns." 

Hale's book states that trappers occasional- 
ly descended the Platte in canoes and batteaux, 
but that it was exceedingly intricate and dan- 
gerous. The boats frequently run aground, 
and it was generally considered as a last re- 
sort for the transfer of goods. Boats of elk- 
hide and buffalo skin proved the most service- 
able, for they yielded when striking the sand 
bars, and slid over them with less difficulty, 
than boats of wood. 

Among the few passengers alighting at Fort 
Mitchell from the El Paso was Reuleau, the 
trapper, who has a history. He is first men- 
tioned in 1833, when he met the lone Nez Perce 
brave on his journey into the west, after the 
futile visit to St. Louis. Francis Parkman 
mentions him at Fort Laramie in 1847. Pre- 
vious to the latter date, he had had the mis- 
fortune to freeze off the fore part of both 
feet, leaving but stubs. Yet he was the same 
blithe, lithe spirit as before. 

Reuleau had then told lightly of "two more 
gone. One murdered in his cabin, and the 
other shot with his own gun." "Next time it 
will be one of us. I tell you it is getting too 
hot for me. I am going one more season," 
said he, "My squaw wants a red dress with 
the bright buttons, and a pacing pony, and 
then she will be satisfied for me to settle down 
and farm." 

Poor Reuleau ! This was six years after, 
and he was still at it. But for him the trail 
was near its end. This was the last time he 



ever came to light. He sleeps somewhere in 
the wilderness about us, but where, no one 
knows. 

I am glad that my own father met him once 
at Fort Mitchell in 1850, when he made his 
first journey to California. For it was from 
Reuleau that father learned much that was of 
value regarding Indian strategy, and the dan- 
gers of the trail and mountains. 

One bright moonlight night at old Fort 
Mitchell, when my father and party were 
camped outside the Palisades, Reuleau and my 
father fell to conversation, and Reuleau asked 
if he had ever seen the beaver and otter play. 
Father replied in the negative and Reuleau 
volunteered to pilot him to a spot where he 
could "watch them slide." 

He took him north about two and a half 
miles, where the beaver had built a dam be- 
tween the shore and an island. This place is 
now off the shore between the Johnny Boyle 
ranch and Chris Kronberg's. Approaching 
warily they hid in the brush and timber near 
at hand. After a time, they saw beaver come 
out upon the bank, and slide down in a manner 
similar to boys at the old swimming hole. 

Their number grew until there were a half 
dozen or more at play, chasing each other 
down the slide, and swimming away sput- 
tering, and slapping as they went about it. 

Then an otter appeared, and he quietly 
ascended the bank, to the top of the slide. He 
would take the slide in the manner that the 
beaver did, but upon striking the water, would 
go under and remain for a distance of forty 
or fifty feet, before the ripples would show his 
rising to the surface. 

There are two of these slides that are known 
by location to the writer. The one described, 
and another mentioned by Eugene Ware, at a 
point a little east of the North Platte. 

Ware described the habits of the beaver and 
otter in the identical manner, but he adds one 
of the stories of the wild, handed down from 
the red man, who was then his companion. It 
appears that of a sudden the animals quit 
their playing, and the Indian saw or claimed 
he could see the outline of an elk in the bushes 
upon the other bank of the improvised lagoon. 
He said the elk had given the water animals 
some warning of the near approach of men. 
He claimed that there was a language of the 
animal kingdom, which all animals understood 
— the language of danger, by which one speci- 
men could signal others. Ware said he wanted 
to wait until the animals came out to play 
again, but the guide said "no, they will play 
no more tonight." 



30 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XVI 
GOVERNMENT BUYS FORT LARAMIE — FT. FONTENELLE IS BUILT 



The ramifications of the American Fur Com- 
pany include many subordinate institutions. 
Each was an entity unto itself, like the company 
organized to take over Fort Laramie, which in- 
cluded Bridger and others not interested in oth- 
er parts of the main institution. "Vanderburg 
and Dripps" was the immediate branch that 
connected up at the old fort. In 1845, when a 
number of posts had been built around Fort 
Laramie, cutting off the travelers before they 
reached the central and larger institution, they 
builded two other subsidiary posts. One was 
on the north bank of the Platte opposite the 
mouth of the Laramie river, that remained 
there until after the gold excitement in Cali- 
fornia, and the other was a little north of the 
present site of Wheatland, which was placed 
in charge of Bordeaux, of whom we will later 
speak. 

In the winter of 1843-44, Marcus Whitman, 
in behalf of the people of Oregon, made a trip 
through the rigorous winter of the Rocky 
Mountains, and appeared in Washington. His 
feet were frozen in this terrible journey, but 
he appeared in the national capital and plead 
for Oregon. 

Upon request, he presented a written state- 
ment in which he said he himself had piloted 
more than two hundred families, consisting of 
one thousand people, with 120 wagons, 694 
oxen, and 773 loose cattle, across the moun- 
tains to homes in Oregon, in the previous two 
years. 

He also recommended the establishment of 
government posts along the route. One sug- 
gested was where Fort Sedgewick was later 
established (near Big Springs), and another 
"on Horseshoe creek, about forty miles west 
of Fort Laramie in the Black Hills." At this 
time the mountains around Hartville and ex- 
tending southwest, including Laramie Peak, 
were called the Black Hills. 

Horseshoe creek was not Horse creek, as 
will be seen from the designated location, al- 
though from the numerous diaries published 
from time to time, many of the travelers must 
have had the two confused. 

John C. Fremont, who under the auspices of 
the government, visited Fort Laramie, to treat 
with the Indians, and to continue on a voyage 
uf exploration, recommended that the govern- 
ment purchase Fort Laramie, as he had been 
lead to think that the American Fur Company 
wished to retire and would sell at a reasonable 
figure. 



Negotiations followed, and, in 1846, Congress 
appropriated $3,000, the agreed price for the 
purchase. Bruce Husband, then in charge of 
Fort Laramie, surprised the government offi- 
cials by the announcement that he selected an- 
other site, and he would build another fort at 
Scotts Bluff. 

This post was commenced at once, and its 
location was upon the west bank of the Platte 
just south of the west end of the bridge be- 
tween the city of Scottsbluff and Mitchell val- 
ley. Anyone who has visited this historic spot, 
can see the advantage of location. It com- 
mands an excellent view of the valley in all 
directions, yet is far enough away from the 
bluff to be out of range of any fire from that 
eminence. 

The fort was made on the usual stockade 
plan, about three hundred feet square, with all 
the buildings in the enclosure. 

When completed, Husband named it Fort 
Fontenelle, after Lucien Fontenelle, one of his 
partners. The old members of the company 
were frequently complimenting some other 
member by naming a trading post in his honor. 
Thus it happens there are several Fort Will- 
iams named after William Sublette. And there 
were no less than two Fort Mitchells at one 
time within the confines of Nebraska, and both 
were named after David D. Mitchell. 

Soon after the establishment of Fort Fon- 
tenelle, Bruce Husband retired, and Lucien 
Fontenelle was placed in charge. This seems 
strange, in consideration of the fact that sev- 
eral historians had Fontenelle commit suicide 
at Fort Laramie some dozen years before this 
fort was built. 

The report referred to did not have the 
element of fact, for it is certain that Fontenelle 
was alive as late as 1852, when my father met 
him at Fort Mitchell. 

Lucien Fontenelle had a remarkable history. 
He was of direct royal lineage, and his par- 
ents, Francois and Moreonise Fontenelle. came 
from Marseilles. France, and Lucien and his 
sister were born in the early part of the cen- 
tury at New Orleans. His parents perished in 
a storm, and the children were made orphans 
about 1820. They lived with relatives and at 
the age of fifteen, Lucien ran away. 

Some six or seven years after he was sup- 
posed to have committed suicide, or in 1842, 
lie returned to his old home. His sister had 
married well, (or wealthy), and she refused 
to own the weather-beaten mountaineer, al- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



31 



though he was recognized by an old nurse, who 
also identified him by a birthmark. 

He returned to the wilderness life and was 
married by Father Peter DeSmet to a woman 
of the Omaha tribe. Logan Fontenelle and 
others of the name in Nebraska history are 
among the descendants of the famous trapper. 

Thus it transpired that Lucien Fontenelle, 
having for so many years braved the dangers 
of the wilderness, being a veteran of the moun- 
tains, now that he had attained the age of 
about forty-five years, should be relieved of 
some of the activities and -stress of a hunter, 
the new fort at Scotts Bluff offered the retreat. 

For a time it was called Fort Fontenelle, but 
the partizan's native modesty, and his friend- 
ship for David D. Mitchell, caused him to 
change its name. 

Fontenelle, having an Indian wife, and being 
well known among the Indians as a fair man, 
and a man who would fight if need be, was 
of great value in preventing depredations along 
the trail and commanders at Fort Laramie 
found that he prevented friction almost entire- 
ly in the country east of one hundred miles. 

For a number of years after the establish- 
ment of this fort, during the months of May, 
June and July, there was a ceaseless caravan 
moving westward through the North Platte val- 
ley. It can be stated with comparative cer- 
tainty of truth that during those months of the 
first five or six years of the existence of Fort 
Fontenelle, or Mitchell, there were emigrants 
within sight at all times. In fact, during day- 
light hours an average of one emigrant wagon 
passed each five minutes, for one hundred days 
of each year. An almost continuous stream of 
wagons stretched for five hundred miles, along 
the great highways over the mountains. 

Is it any wonder that the Indians who came 
down to Fort Laramie with Peter DeSmet in 
1852, when they looked upon the great wide 
bare trail, should imagine that there must be a 
great void in the east, and could not compre- 
hend that this was only a small fragment of 
the white race? Is it any wonder that the 



Sioux bands that came for the first time to 
Fort Mitchell should ask if the whole white 
village was moving to the west? Is it any 
wonder that they contemplated taking the back 
trail of the Great White Medicine Road, with 
a view of locating in the valley that they 
thought must be deserted in the east? And 
this travel continued and grew. It gave rise 
to the pony express and the overland stage, 
which modes of travel and transportation con- 
tinued until the Union Pacific builded up the 
Lodgepole valley and became the rapid tran- 
sit across the mountains. 

And now Fort Mitchell had become the ren- 
dezvous for trappers, as well as a halting place 
for overland travelers. It was here that trap- 
ping parties disbanded and went their several 
ways, and it was here they met to journey to 
the white settlements. 

When a number had made ready for the 
trip eastward they would take boats or horses, 
and with the voice of the wilderness, and with 
the yodling calls of the mountains, they would 
make the rocks and cliffs of old Scotts Bluff 
reverberate, and then, they were away. 

Upon arrival at their destination, they would 
vanish from sight for two or three hours ; then 
shaved, bathed, and clad in garments of civ- 
ilization, they would appear in the marts of 
trade. 

The mystery of the wilderness was about 
them, the brown of the western winds upon 
their brows, and wherever they went they were 
objects of consideration and interest. After a 
time the sameness of the city grew tiresome, 
and when another trapper outfit was preparing 
for the west, the most of them would be ready 
to come back to the life that was life to them. 
The joy of returning to the haunts of the 
mountains was theirs, and happiness beamed 
from the countenances, as they danced, capered 
and sang about the camp getting ready for 
the journey. And here at old Fort Mitchell, 
they were ready once more for the perils and 
pleasures of the profession. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XVII 



BRADY ISLAND TRAGEDY — FRENCH BOAT SONG— TIM BRIDGER MEETS 
SIR GEORGE GORE 



The men who manned the boats that navi- 
gated the shallow and dangerous western wat- 
ers were, like the campers, almost invariably 
French-Creoles, and emotional, romantic char- 
acters added to the picturesqueness of events, 
making trapper history distinctive. It was an 
epoch in the taming of the wilderness. 

In the spring high waters, occasionally a 
fleet of boats were made ready at old Fort 
Mitchell, as formerly at Ft. Laramie for the 
journey to the white settlements. The boats 
were loaded with two or three packs of beaver 
each, and usually manned by two men each. 

French language was much in use by the 
Americans, who in the main disdained the hap- 
py-go-lucky French camp attaches. They were 
frequently referred to as "Le Foux" or the 
fools, but laughter and song were unyield- 
ing to the shafts of ridicule, and whenever a 
fleet of boats cast off from the old fort, the 
splash of paddle, or the movement of poles 
were to the rhythm of French boat songs with 
which the air was filled. The following is giv- 
en by Chittendon as one of the favorites : 

"Dans mon cherin J'ai rencontre' 
Trois cavalieres bien monte'es 
L'on ton laridon dan'e 
L'on ton laridon dai. 

Trois cavalieres bein monte'es 
L'une a chevel l'autre a pi ed 
L'on ton laridon dan'e 
L'on ton laridon dai. 

And thus the buoyant, singing people would 
away to civilization. One could not tell, how- 
ever, which of them would reach the white 
settlement, for if occasion or expediency re- 
quired one of the two boatsmen would be "acci- 
dentally" killed en route. 

It was in 1833, so says Rufus Sage, that a 
party were descending the river, and they stop- 
ped upon an island some distance below the 
junction of the two branches of the Platte. 
A man named Brady and his French compan- 
ion bad quarrelled. 

Tin- others of the party had gone out to 
hunt, and. upon returning they found Brady 
dead. 1 lis companion said it was by accidental 
discharge of his own weapon. Although the 
others did not believe the story, they had no 
evidence to the contrary. 



Shallow water made the travelers abandon 
their boats a short distance below. They di- 
vided their packs, but our Frenchman held to 
the portion that formerly belonged to Brady. 

The night after, he was trying to light a 
fire by the discharge of his pistol, the story 
goes, and shot himself in the thigh. He laid 
their six days and was picked up by the Paw- 
nees, but he died a few days later, and before 
he died, he confessed the murder of Brady. 

No one has ever confessed the murder pf 
the Frenchman, but it seemed that providence 
had a way in dealing with murderers in the 
wilderness. It is generally believed that provi- 
dence used in most cases, the hand of some 
friend of the murdered man. 

The death of Brady gave name to Brady 
Island, which name time has never effaced. 

One of the most distinguished caravans to 
visit the famous station of Fort Mitchell, ar- 
rived in June, 1854, when the Sir George Gore, 
a real lord from Sligo, Ireland, appeared. 

Henry Chattillon, already famous as a guide, 
had been pressed into service and had piloted 
the party from St. Louis. 

The outfit consisted of several wagons and 
many carts, a number of yoke of oxen, and a 
hundred horses, a large retinue of servants, a 
lot of thoroughbred dogs, and was also equip- 
ped with firearms, accessories, and provisions 
for a two year's trip. 

Chattillon was to guide the party to Fort 
Laramie where his service was to end. At Fort 
Mitchell Gore made inquiries as to the best 
country for big game, and was making a pre- 
liminary quest for a mountain guide. All in- 
quiries of the latter nature led him to Jim 
Bridger, who was at Fort Laramie at that time. 

The meeting was mutually interesting to the 
principals, and to the spectators. Gore was ac- 
customed to command, and he had all the im- 
perial instincts of his nativity. On the other 
hand, Bridger cared absolutely nothing for rank 
or station. In the mountains all men were to 
him the same. If they could be relied upon 
"they were square." and if not to be reljed 
upon, "they were Blackfeet," (an unreliable 
Indian). 

Negotiations entered upon with diplomacy by 
the Irish lord, were cut short by the moun- 
taineer, who named his price, terms and con- 
ditions, and wages to commence at once. This 
unusual abruptness made a hit with the Irish- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



33 



man, and in the two years that followed Sir 
Geo. Gore and Jim Bridger were companions 
inseparable. 

During these years Sir George held to his 
traditions. He would not rise until ten in 
the morning, and then with deliberation he 
had his bath and made his toilet. After break- 
fast "at noon" he would hunt or travel as he 
then decided. Along about ten o'clock at 
night, his "dinner" must be served, and it was 
full dinner dress for him. 

At the evening function, he usually had 
Bridger join, but no evening costume for Jim. 
After dinner, he would read to Bridger from 
Shakespeare or Munchausen. Of the former 
Bridger "lowed it was too highfalutin fer 
him, and he did not like that Pullstuff any- 
way ; he thought too much of lager beer." 
Munchausen's stories struck him as "a leetle 
too big," but when his own stories were re- 
peated to him, he said, "well, maybe they air 
too big too," with a twinkle in his eye. These 
and similar discussions continued while the 
two remained in the mountains, and after the 
two years the only genuine affection by the 
lord at parting from his hunting companions, 
was shown as he bade farewell to old Jim 
Bridger. 

The period of the trapper was passing fast. 
The beaver had lost his prestige in the world 



of fashion and silk had taken its place, the 
prices of ermine and otter had fallen. The 
big migration which at this time was pouring 
through the valley of the Flat Water, changed 
the habit but not the vocation of the class. 

Thousands of buffalo fell before the trapper 
and thousands of hides were shipped annually 
to St. Louis. In one year, 1847, the American 
Fur Company shipped from Fort Mitchell, 
then just being established as Fort Fontenelle, 
and from Fort Laramie, then soon to be trans- 
ferred to the government, forty-seven thousand 
buffalo robes. 

Fort Mitchell was the last trading post of 
the American Fur Company, and remained 
their property until 1864, when it was sold to 
the Northwest Fur Company, of St. Paul. 
This company was organized by J. B. Hubbell 
and associates. 

There seems to be no record in the war de- 
partment showing any establishment or occu- 
pation of Fort Mitchell by the government or 
any date of its abandonment, but it was used 
by the government from 1865 to 1869 as a 
sub-station of Fort Laramie; I have this from 
the Adjutant General's office. 

And with the abandonment of Fort Mitchell 
the "Commerce of the Plains," in the old sense 
passed away. 



PART II 



INDIAN WARS AND LEGENDS 



CHAPTER I 



INDIAN MIGRATION ACROSS THE PLATTE 



Hyde tells us that from his best information 
the Comanches or "Paducas" were on the 
north side of the North Platte river up to 
about the year 1800. Perrin de lac in his book, 
1802. puts on his map "Ancient Village of 
the Paducas," on the upper Niobrara near 
Rawhide Buttes. Robert Harvey, when doing 
some surveying in Sioux county, about forty 
years ago, came upon "old ruins" northwest of 
Agate. An early map of Nebraska indicates 
"ancient ruins" across the river and some dis- 
tance north of the present site of Bridgeport. 
These were likely the former establishments 
of "Paducas," and date back to about the be- 
ginning of the last century. 

Major Long, in 1820, says that during the 
life of Chief Blackbird, about 1780 or 1790, 
the Paducas came and attacked an Omaha vil- 
lage on the Missouri river near the mouth of 
the Niobrara. 

Tradition has it among the Indians that the 
Cheyennes came and drove the Comanches 
from the Rawhide Butte region, and that later 
the Sioux came and drove out the Cheyennes. 
Major Long also stated that in 1820 the 
Cheyennes, "on the Cheyenne river" secured 
goods from the British -traders through the 
Sioux and they would bring them to the Platte 
where at "distant periods" evidently meaning 
long intervals, a sort of an Indian trading fair 
is held, usually on "Grand Camp creek," by the 
Cheyennes. Arapahoes, Kiowas, and Coman- 
ches. Tin's may have been as far up the river 
as tin- present Grand Encampment, but I doubt 
if any of ihe creeks had their present names so 
early as that date. The Arapahoes carried on 
this sort of trade before the Cheyennes took it 
up, but the Arapahoes seem to have been pre- 
vented by the Sioux from securing goods from 
the Missouri, and the Cheyennes took up the 



trade. The intertribal trade between the Indians 
appears to have been of a very early origin, and 
Hyde thinks that it was started by the Co- 
manches when they were north of the Platte. 
When they were driven south of the river, the 
Kiowas took it up, and when they were 
driven south the Arapahoes assumed charge of 
the trade, and they in turn were compelled to 
move south and it then fell into the hands of 
the Cheyennes. The Sioux would have un- 
doubtedly followed the business had it not 
been for the interference of the white trader, 
who took it over entirely. 

In 1814-15 the Sioux and Kiowas were at 
war, and a decisive battle was fought on Kiowa 
creek in the west part of the present Scotts 
Bluff county. Here the Kiowas w r ere beaten 
and retired into the mountains. They later 
went south and joined the Comanches and 
have thoroughly amalgamated therewith. Their 
last raid into the "North River" country was 
when they burned the trading post in Robi- 
deaux Gap. 

A story going back to 1730, tells of the 
Cheyennes. Originally they were far away, 
west of the great lakes. In the course of their 
migrations, driven ahead of the Sioux, they 
built a village on the banks of the Cheyenne 
river. This river rises in Wyoming and runs 
eastward, skirting the south border of Black 
Hills from Edgemont to the Missouri. 

At this time the Cheyennes had built mud 
huts and their habitations had a sense of per- 
manency. Possibly they seized and occupied 
the "Paduca" villages. One day, the entire 
village, with the exception of one old woman 
who was too old to travel, went on a buffalo 
hunt. These hunts often extended for several 
days, and it was during their absence that their 
old enemies, the Assinaboines, whose habitat is 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



35 



now in northern Montana, raided their village. 
They attacked at night, and at their sudden 
approach the old woman, who was grinding 
bones in an improvised mortar, and had a torch 
of pitch pine stuck down her back, with the 
upper end alight, started to run toward the 
river. The village was situated upon a bluff. 
As she approached its precipitous shore with 
the Assinaboines in close pursuit, she took the 
torch from her back and threw it far out over 
the cliff, and she herself hid by the pathway 
that led down to the water. In the darkness, 
the Assinaboines, thinking that she had run on, 
followed the flight of the torch over the cliff, 
and all perished. The Cheyennes, the story 
goes, then used dogs for pack animals, hitch- 
ing them between thills, and having them drag 
the packs after the manner later adopted in 
connection with ponies and mustangs. 

In 1840-1841 the Sioux made peace with the 
Cheyennes, probably the Southern tribes, for 
they were at peace with the Northern Chey- 
ennes long before 1840. The Southern tribe 
whose habitat was on the Platte and Laramie, 
had among them a very old man by the name 
of Red Cloud. He was a cousin of the Sioux 
Red Cloud of history. Sioux Red Cloud's 
father had a brother who married a Northern 
Cheyenne woman about 1820, and the Cheyenne 
Red Cloud was their son. This indicates that 
the Northern Cheyennes and Ogallala Sioux 
were at peace and intermarrying at that time. 
This Red Cloud, half Sioux and half Northern 
Cheyenne, married a Southern Cheyenne wo- 
man, and lived with the Southern tribe. This 
would indicate peaceful and intermarrying re- 
lations between the north and south branches 
existed about 1840 or a little later. It might 
have been after the peace of 1840-1841. 

This peace was brought about by Red Arm 
for the Cheyennes and Lone Horn for the 
Min-ne-con-jou Sioux (or the tribe of "shoot- 
ers in the mist"). The Sioux and Arapahoes 
remained hostile for some time thereafter. 

Among the oldest of the Cheyennes now liv- 
ing there are found those who say that Lone 
Horn was the first of all the Sioux to bring 
his band to the Platte river, and he did not live 
here. He came down to hunt, and to run the 
mustangs, for wild horses abounded in the val- 
ley of the North Platte river and adjoining ter- 
ritory. 

Volume I of Wyoming historical publica- 
tions, in an article on Fort Laramie says in 
1835 two men were sent to the Black Hills to 
induce Bull Bear's Ogallalas to come to the 
Platte to live, and that this was the first Sioux 
band to come near Fort Laramie to trade. 

There was no Fort Laramie then, and the 



Fort William that was the antecedent of the 
historic fort was builded 1835. Lone Horn's 
hunting trips must have antedated that event 
by at least a score of years. The Sioux were 
here in numbers as early as 1815, for the battle 
of Kiowa with the Kiowas, and the Battle 
of Round House Rock, with the Pawnees, were 
about 1815. If Lone Horn was the first of the 
Sioux to reach the Platte river, he must have 
been quite young at the time, or else he was 
quite old at the time of the conclusion of peace 
between his people and the Cheyennes. 

The migrations of the several tribes across 
the Platte must have been in rapid succession, 
the Comanches were presumed to be north of 
the river about 1800, and ten or fifteen years 
thereafter the Sioux were here. In the mean- 
time, came and passed, the Kiowas, the Arapa-. 
hoes imd the Cheyennes. The North Platte 
river was the dividing line, in the days of the 
trappers, although the Sioux were sometimes 
found south of the line. _i3/2386 

In 1850 the scourge of cholera swept along 
the trail, and spread among the Indians east 
of and around Scotts Bluff, and its vital effect 
drove all else out of mind for a time. Stans- 
bury found five lodges full of Sioux, all dead 
of cholera, at Ash Hollow, and cholera was 
raging in a village of two hundred and fifty 
lodges farther up the Platte. 

The Sioux at that time seemed to have prac- 
tically the undisputed possession of the Platte 
except the challenge of authority thereover 
made by white people along the Great White 
Medicine Road. The river for a time had been 
the dividing line between the Sioux and the 
southern tribes, but the southern resistance to 
the northern pressure was gradually giving 
way, and soon after the Sioux took possession 
of the land south to the "South River" and 
some distance beyond. 

Samuel Parker, the missionary, when pass- 
ing through the North River land in the early 
thirties, tells of a thousand Pawnees in a vil- 
lage in Mitchell valley, and from 1845 to 1855 
the Indians held their pow-wows in Horse 
creek where Crows and Snakes met the Arap- 
ahoes, Cheyennes and Sioux, and presents were 
distributed among them. This was in line with 
the promises of Colonel Kearney at Fort Lar- 
amie in 1845, where he warned twelve hundred 
Sioux that they must not try to close the Great 
White Medicine Road, "for it was used by the 
people who with their wives and their children 
and the cattle, were moving to the other side 
of the mountains, to bury their bones there, 
and to never return." Colonel Kearney said 
in address : "Sioux, you have enemies about 
you. but the greatest of them all is whiskey. I 



36 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



learn that some bad men from Taos bring it 
here and sell it to you. Open your ears and 
listen to me. It is contrary to the wishes of 
the Great Father that . whiskey should be 
brought here, and I advise you, whenever you 
find it in your country, no matter in whose pos- 
session, to spill it all on the ground. The 
ground may drink it without injury, but you 
cannot." 

Tall Bull and another Sioux spoke very cor- 
dially, and then presents were distributed. Tall 
Bull was the principal chief present for the 
Sioux. 

About 1870 Tall Bull was killed by Buffalo 
Bill in the Battle of Summit Springs. The kill- 
ing took place in a dry run leading down to 
the Platte, and the widowed squaw seemed 
.quite proud of the fact that it took so dis- 
tinguished a man as Colonel W. F. Cody to 
kill her man and chief. 

Captain Clark, who later figured conspicu- 



ously in western Nebraska history, says that 
Whirlwind told him that the dates of the Horse 
Creek Councils marked the division of the 
Cheyenne and the Sioux, but there had been 
earlier troubles of which he perhaps was un- 
aware. 

The number four seems to run to the 
Cheyennes, which perhaps some mystic may be 
able to explain. They had four chiefs, four 
halts before they charged into the preliminary 
march of the Sun dance, four times is the 
covering of the medicine sweat house raised, 
four winters they starved, etc. 

After the Laramie conference, Colonel 
Kearney visited a village of about thirty lodges 
on the Chugwater, and went on south to the 
Arkansas. Dunn says that he sought to give 
the Indians an impression of power or author- 
ity, or to scare them, by sending up rockets, 
but there seems to have been no foundation 
for the story, in the official reports. 



CHAPTER II 



INDIAN WAR AND LEGEND — THE STORY TELLER 



Years ago, on the banks of the White river, 
an old Indian story teller sat by the fire, tell- 
ing his midnight tales. And he said: "My 
story winds as winds a river, sometimes on 
one side of the valley, and sometimes on the 
other side, and sometimes turning backward 
for a distance, then turning again to continue 
its journey onward to the Big Water." So, 
while these events, and the chronicles thereof, 
move steadily forward with the years, they will 
occasionally hark back to earlier dates. 

No matter what the hour of the night, a 
story teller always has his audience huddled 
around the fire ; and his stories range from ad- 
venture full of action, to the wierd mythology 
of the tribe. Night is the time when all man- 
kind is stirred by vagaries of the dark, and 
receptive brains absorb the stories heard or 
read. 

This story teller assured us, there in the 
shadow of the pines, the glow of the campfire 
illumining his face, and not so brilliantly the 
faces of his listeners, that, when the moon was 
full, the evil spirits began to eat it, and they 
never ceased until it was entirely devoured. 
Then the Great Spirit knowing it was not well 



to let evil spirits run about at all times of the 
night, and that they shunned the light as much 
as possible, began making a new moon. This 
he worked upon night after night until he had 
it complete. Hanging it in the sky, he went 
about his business, and then it would be again 
attacked and devoured by the evil ones. 

Part of the stories of Indians are supposed 
to be Indian history and tradition, but they are 
all about as full of child-like vagaries as the 
above conception of the changing moon. There 
are many Indian stories, of which I shall re- 
produce a few that may relate to this particu- 
lar part of the country, and shall give some 
extracts of their translated songs. 

An inside knowledge of Indian life yields 
the information that their sentiments, their ro- 
mance, their poetry, their natural human in- 
clinations are not far different from those of 
their white brothers. The "Indian in a man" 
has been referred to in many ways — wild na- 
ture, vindictiveness, treachery, and is more fre- 
quently used to indicate cruel or evil charac- 
teristics. 

That is because the side of Indian life that 
has been most dwelt upon by writers, and that 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



37 



has come in contact with the advance of civili- 
zation, has been the cruel and savage side. We 
seldom heard of the great peace advocates of 
the red race, because the more virulent advo- 
cates of war kept them and us busy. The same 
inspirations that provoked the flower of knight- 
hood in the middle ages, were in the Indian 
tribes. The young men were taught valor and 
inspiration, and that honor came through the 
slaughter of hereditary or other foes. 

Even in peace, war songs kept alive the mili- 
tant tendencies of mind and heart. Here is a 
fragment of one song often sung to inspire 
young braves to deeds of war and blood: 

"The Eagles. 
The eagles scream on high 

They whet their forked beaks. 
Raise — raise the battle cry, 

'Tis fame your leader seeks." 

This song of the Sioux stirs the red blood 
just as did the recent songs on the battle fields 
of the old world. 

Fatalism is a part and parcel of the moun- 
tain and plain, and the greater frontier, as we 
well know, and we presume it is the same of 
war. The belief that "a man who is born to 
be hung will never be drowned," is old as the 
hills. In the remote periods of ancient India, 
Sanjoya sang the battle song of fatalism. But 
old chief Wau-bo-jeg, who once loved and 
roamed over the land of western Nebraska, 
sang his songs in the middle of the night. When 
the dark shadows fell over Wildcat and Sixty- 
six mountains, over Crow Butttes and the 
Pine ridge, he would sit by his fire, and tell 
stories, and listen to others. When some story 
of battle prowess stirred those about the fire, 
he would sing, and this was one of his songs : 

''On that day when our heroes lay 

low — lay low, 
On that day when our heroes lay low ; 
I fought by their side. 
And I thought 'ere I died, 
Just for vengeance I'd take one more 
foe." 

There are several verses that tell of defeat 
and death, and then a verse on preparedness, 
that ran thus : 

"Five winters in hunting we'll spend 

— we'll spend 
Five winters in hunting we'll spend. 

When youths grown to men, 

We'll to war lead again, 
And our davs like our fathers' will end." 



The last line indicates the fatalistic resigna- 
tion. 

Thus the teachings went on from one gen- 
eration to another, and the glories of war were 
forever dangled before the eyes of the young 
braves. He who cautiously dared to plead for 
peace was contemptuously dubbed a squaw. 

Woman life among the nomads of the plains 
has another side. Conflict was forced upon 
her and not of her nature. Subdued by long 
years of motherhood and slaughtered children, 
her ambitions were for the more humble do- 
mesticity. Like her white sister, she admired 
the brave, but feared the dread consequences 
of conflict. Whenever her man left home, she 
knew not that he would ever return. 

Captain Hobbs tells the pathetic story of his 
Indian wife, "The Spotted Fawn." 

When he bade her and their half-breed son 
"good-by," to return to the settlements, he 
promised to come back, but she feared he 
would never do so. She tried every wile 
known to a woman's heart to get him to give 
up his intended journey, she held their little 
brown baby up to be kissed, and then clung to 
him pleading with him. But when she knew 
that it was useless to plead longer, she hugged 
her child to her bosom and ran shrieking into 
the night. Their second son, soon to be, was 
prematurely born, as the result of the intensity 
of her emotion. 

Two years later Captain Hobbs did come 
back, and her joy was wonderfully manifest. 
The boy was as wild as a deer, and it was a 
long time before he would come near his 
father. 

Yet with all the wealth of affection which 
many a squaw bestowed upon her husband, she 
had nothing to say in the matter of selection of 
a mate. All these details were arranged by the 
sire, who usually traded his promising young 
girls for ponies. Occasionally there were at- 
tachments, which were stronger than filial man- 
dates. 

Along the old stage road, south of Harris- 
burg, and over on the White river, there are 
two rocks, similarly named, and which obtained 
the name from similar circumstances. In each 
case a Sioux father had sold his daughter to 
a young Ogallala brave, but in each case that 
Indian maiden had a sweetheart of her own. 
The story of the Banner county episode is this : 

The village was situated on the little table- 
land where in 1885 Vance Cross homesteaded, 
just south of Long Springs branch, then un- 
named, and the Ogallala had brought his 
ponies. On the morrow he was to claim his 
bride. She secretly left her lodge and found 
her sweetheart and they were making away 



38 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



when discovered. Her irate father, the chief, 
had her whipped and her lover was put to 
death. 

The next morning in the bright sunrise, she 
donned her finery and went humming a song 
through the village, wending her way to the 
south. Young braves looked admiringly upon 
her as she passed and wished that they were 
so fortunate as the Ogallala. He, too, looked 
in fond admiration and anticipation. She was 
observed to ascend the slope of Table mount- 
tain, and she paused on its eastmost extremity, 
where the countless ages of wind-erosion have 
made a perpendicular cliff. 

Here she raised her arms towards the sun 
and commenced to sing. The music, as it 
came to the village, all the inhabitants of which 
were now watching her, sounded weird and 
sweet, but was instantly recognized as the song 
of death. A dozen braves ran to save her, but 
in vain. 

They had almost reached her when she 
threw aside her blanket and as a statue of 
bronze stood for a moment in the morning sun, 
then with a cry that she would meet her lover 
in the Shades, she went over the cliff, and was 
crushed to death at the feet of "Lover's Leap." 

Hers was the song of death, but there are 
other songs, songs of life and of seasons. 

Among the tribes, each season has its song, 
and each great event is immortalized in poetry, 
and folklore tales. We all know the habits of 
the frog, and how it makes its presence known 
in the first wet spells of spring, yet it remained 
for an Indian to give the harbinger of season, 
a place in the songs of the world. "O-ka-gis," 
or the "Frog Song," or the "Frog in the 
Spring," as it is generally called, runs thus : 

"O-ka-gis" 

"Then we shall cheerfully, praisingly sing, 
O-ka-gis, (the frogs) the heralds of Spring, 
First to renounce the Winter bound ball ; 
Hail sunshine and verdure and gladness for 
all." 

And they have a "Winter Song," a song of 
pleasing defiance to Par-kab-il-on-ac-ca, the 
god of winter. This thing with such a dread- 
ful name, had decided to drive all the people 
south wiili the buffalo, so he himself could 
rule the north. But he met a Tartar, who 
turned the tide, anil maintained his right and 
his tnlic's privilege to remain in the north. 

So when old Par-K. shook the kinks out 
"I boreas, and ripped and tore in mad and 
Stormy glee, he found (he red people sitting 
by their meagre fires on tin- Niobrara and the 
Blue Water, and under the beetling crags of 



Scottsbluff, Wildcat and Bighorn mountains, 
cheerfuly singing "The Song of Singabiss." 

"Windy god, I know your plan, 
You are but my fellowman, 
Blow, you may, your coldest breeze, 
Sing-a-biss you cannot freeze. 

"Sweep the strongest breeze you can, 
Sing-a-biss is still your man ; 
Heigh for life, and ho for bliss, 
Who so free as Sing-a-biss." 

The Indian language and poetry, when trans- 
lated, seems to grip one. Their expression 
seems to get at the very essence of things. 
They touch the heart of that which they seek to 
express, in simple language, while we stumble 
through the phraseology of mythology and ages 
and leave a sentiment so buried in verbiage 
that it is all but lost. It must be the com- 
munion and mutual understanding which is 
given by living close to nature. The common 
language of the birds and beasts and redmen, 
where all are attuned. A little extract from 
the "Song of the Falcon," will serve to illus- 
trate : 

"Birds, ye wild birds, whom the high gods 
made, 

And gifted with powers of wonderous 
kind, 

Why turn ye so fearfully shy and dis- 
mayed, 

To gaze on the heavens you're leaving be- 
hind?" 

Have you ever stood in the old orchard or 
leafy grove, and seen the wild scurry and flut- 
ter of birds to hide in the grass or the leafy 
bower? The sun may be shining, and no sign 
of tumult or danger anywhere, except a stam- 
pede among the little feathered families. Yet, 
far up in the azure blue floats in tranquil cir- 
cles, one, and perhaps two, of the keen eyed 
enemies of the little birds. No word picture 
in the classics has so vividly described this com- 
mon incident in nature. 

Indians educated at Carlisle return to their 
tribes and the education gives them no better 
expression. Neither are they improved in arts, 
their work on the canvass with the single ex- 
ception of landscape work is as crude as that 
of native ochre painted on the mountain sides. 
Their minds for the most part are as imma- 
ture as children, and the love of the recondite 
runs through all their lives. 

It is said that civilization touches barbarism, 
and barbarism recoils like a burnt child from 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



39 



the fire. So back from the schools to the blan- 
ket and the tepee, spoiled as Indians, but not 
capable of competing and combatting with the 
whites in the busy marts of the world. 

I saw some Pine Ridge boys going through 
Washington, some time ago, and in their 
rounds they were conducted through the som- 
ber grandeur of the National Capitol building, 
and the wonderful glory of the National Li- 
brary. On each occasion the Babylonian splen- 
dors struck them and they cried out: "Wash- 
tay, lela-wash-tay, lela-wash-tay te-pee," (fine, 
very fine, very fine houses) which was the 
limit of their expression; but, back in their 
wigwams, if unspoiled by education, they can 
tell the folklore stories of their people, as won- 
derful as Arabian Nights, yet in words and 
symbols of simple comprehension. 

The younger years of the mountains and 
plains people were not devoid of their amuse- 
ments, and primitive joys. Young squaws fes- 
tooned their hair with wild flowers, and bucks 
adorned themselves with gay feathers. 

The ceremonies among the corn raisers are 
similar to the Arcadian joys of country lads 
and lassies in ye olden time. You will recog- 
nize resemblance to the old husking bees. 

When a brave found a perfect red ear he 
carried it in due form to his favorite squaw, 
and left it as a tribute of his affection, and 
when a squaw found one, she hid it until op- 



portunity permitted her to yield it to her fav- 
orite brave. If discovered, any brave might 
claim her as his own. Sometimes the popular 
belle would pretend to find one, for the joy of 
the simultaneous rush towards her by her many 
admirers. 

But if one found a red ear that was not well 
filled, or was crooked or tapering, all would 
shout with glee and sing the song "Wa-ge-nim," 

"Wa-ge-nim. 
Wa-ge-nim, crooked ear, 

Walker of night, 
Stop, little old man. 

And take not to flight. 
Crooked ear, crooked ear, 

Stand up strong, 
Little crooked old man, 

I'll give you a song." 

The crooked and tapering ears were consid- 
ered the image of "Old Man Thief." And here 
is another of the simple symbolic expressions. 
This crooked, incomplete, unfinished ear of 
corn is like "Old Man Thief," because it has 
taken the toil in raising, and raised the expec- 
tations of the grower, and yet but partially ful- 
filled them. 

There is much other Indian matter, tradi- 
tions and the like, that come in their turn, but 
now the "river winds" to other scenes. 



CHAPTER III 



THE PAWNEE PILGRIMAGE — THE SPOTTED ROBE — TI-WA-RA, THE GOD 
OF COURT HOUSE ROCK — BATTLE OF ASH HOLLOW 



Many, many moons ago; many moons and 
many winters, the Pawnees came up the river 
from the ruins of Quivera. 

The underground people of pre-historic Ne- 
braska, and the corn raisers of hundreds of 
years ago, had left their "wallows." in the 
sands of the eastern part of the state, and had 
joined "the innumerable caravan that moves 
to the pale realm of shade," and the Pawnees, 
naturally nomadic, had for a time tarried, and 
were growing corn and "pompons" on the 
ruins of the past. 

The introduction of "pompon" among the 
Indians dates back more than a century, for 
there are letters of Manuel Lisa, over a hun- 



dred years old, which tell of his way of win- 
ning and retaining the friendship of the In- 
dians, and thereby turning into the markets 
so much rich fur. 

I will digress sufficiently to tell a little of 
Lisa, as it was my privilege to examine some 
of these old letters recently. It was Lisa's 
boat which Roi and Dornin traded to Robert 
Stuart and party, at Great Island in the spring 
of 1813. This boat had a skeleton fn.me made 
of wood four feet wide, twenty feet long, and 
eighteen inches deep, and it took five elk hides 
to cover it. 

As Lisa says : he put great activity into his 
operations, and went long distances alone into 



40 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the wilderness, and for long periods he was 
buried in the forest, or wandered about upon 
the plains. He introduced the "mammoth pom- 
pon," "the large bean." "the potato," and "the 
turnip." He loaned traps to the Indians, and 
tools, and made his habitations the refuge of 
those too old to follow the tribe. 

"The Pompon," which he introduced flour- 
ished in the wilderness, and sometimes grew to 
the enormous size of one hundred and sixty 
pounds, but in these higher and drier alti- 
tudes its size was much less. The Pawnees 
planted it in the valley of Gonneville creek a 
hundred years ago, and the run out species are 
now called "wild pumpkins." The cowmen 
found them there and named the creek 
"Pumpkinseed creek," which they afterward 
shortened to the "Pumpkin creek, of song 
and story. 

One large Pawnee village had heard of the 
fine buffalo ranges of western Nebraska, and 
after much "fuss and feathers" it was deter- 
mined to move westward into the land of the 
Sioux. They knew that such a movement 
would entail conflicts with their hereditary en- 
emy, hence no village of small proportions 
would hazard the undertaking. 

In the village was one very old and neglect- 
ed squaw, who, by silent consent and the cus- 
tom of the tribe, was to be left behind. What 
cruel purpose or tradition originated this cus- 
tom, I know not, but frequently the old and 
infirm, particularly squaws, were left behind, 
when villages moved, and when the meagre 
supply of food left them was exhausted, they 
generally died of starvation. 

In this case, the withered and crippled Paw- 
nee squaw had a grandson who was one of 
the promising young braves of the tribe. 
Heeding not the names and jibes of his fellow 
braves and refusing to revere the ancient and 
wicked custom, he returned to the fragile lodge 
of his maternal ancestor, and assisted her to 
pack and follow. They plodded along behind 
the main caravan, frequently living on the re- 
fuse left by the well-provisioned people, and 
one day they came upon a horse. It, too, was 
crippled and stiff and old, was dun of color and 
its back was sore, and it was very poor. 
Partly because of compassion and not washing 
to leave the old horse to the mercy of prowl- 
ing, camp-following beasts, and partly because 
Ik- wanted oik- horse, however poor, the young 
brave took the half-starved animal along, and 
found it of much service in carrying their 

After many days they reached the base of 
the eminence now known as Court House 
Rock, and just east and north thereof a little 



south of the present site of Bridgeport, the 
Pawnee village settled down, for in the land 
about them there were many signs of buffalo, 
and into the village came out-runners who re- 
ported a large herd of buffalo only four miles 
south, and in the herd was a spotted calf. 

A Spotted Robe was Big Medicine among 
the Pawnees, and the chief sent a crier through 
the village announcing that a charge should 
be made from the village, and the brave who 
brought back the spotted robe might marry 
his beautiful daughter. 

And the young brave mounted his old dun 
horse to take part in the race, but the others 
laughed at him and he drew aside. Then to 
his surprise the horse turned his head and 
spoke: "Take me to the stream and plaster 
me with mud ; my legs, my head and my back," 
and to the creek that flowed hard by he went 
and did as he was directed. 

At the cry "Loo-ah" (go) they were away. 
The old dun horse covered with mud seemed 
rejuvenated. He sped away so fast that to 
some of the others he seemed to fly, and when 
the advanced portion of the charge reached 
the scene where the herd had been they 
found the young brave skinning the spotted 
calf, and he had also killed a fine fat cow. 

One by one the other braves came back to 
the village, and as they came, they rode by 
the lodge of the boy's grandmother to tell her 
of his good fortune, but she thought they 
were jesting and answered them angrily. When 
the young brave came up with the old dun 
horse snorting and prancing, laden with buf- 
falo meat and a great robe, for her, and the 
spotted robe which he retained for himself, 
she could hardly believe her senses. But in the 
frail tepee there was joy that night. 

The rejuvenated horse again spoke to the 
young brave. "The Sioux war parties are 
coming; they are now near the wigwam," in- 
dicating Chimney rock ; "Tomorrow they will 
come, and our people will meet them about 
half way. When we meet, ride me among 
them and kill their chief, and return. Then 
again, ride me among them and kill another 
chief and return. Do this again, and again, 
four times only, for if you go the fifth time, 
some disaster will befall you or me." 

So the next day was a great battle between 
the Pawnees and Sioux at a point nearly op- 
posite the opening in the hills now known as 
Round House or Reddington Gap. 

The young brave and the old horse were 
there, and they charged into the thick of the 
conflict. As he rode in among the Sioux, the 
air was thick with arrows, but he found the 
chief and slew him, and returned untouched. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



41 



Twice, thrice, four times he rode, and four 
chiefs he killed, and each time they came 
back unharmed. 

Still the battle raged, and the impetuous 
youth disregarded his instructions, and for 
the fifth time plunged into the fray. His horse 
was shot from under him, and cut to pieces, 
for the Sioux declared that he had more than 
horse endowments, which if the Pawnee folk- 
lore tales are true, cannot be denied. 

The brave, with great valor, fought his way 
free of his adversaries, and returned to his 
own people unharmed. The battle was soon 
over and the Sioux were routed. Across the 
river with great tumult and splashing, they 
were driven, and up one of the arroyos to the 
north, and because of the many relics of the 
battle found in this vicinity, that arroyo and 
the water that flows down therefrom is known 
today as Indian Creek. 

The young brave mourned the loss of his 
now famous dun horse, and after the battle, he 
went out on the field and gathered up the 
pieces and piled them together. Then he went 
up on the rim of the overhanging rock to 
mourn, nor would he return to the village to 
celebrate with the others over their triumph. 
Night came and still he sat and looked down 
on his Armageddon. 

There came a storm, a roaring mountain 
storm, the lightning flashed, and there was 
thunder and a deluge of rain. Two black arms 
reached down from the overhanging clouds to 
the field of battle. Then the storm passed and 
the young brave saw something had taken 
shape upon the battle field. Then came an- 
other storm alike but fiercer than the first, and 
when it passed he saw the form of a horse. 
Then came a third storm, more terrible than 
the others, and when it passed he went down 
upon the field of battle and there he found 
his old dun horse, sore of back, and crippled 
and poor as when he had first found him. And 
the brave was sad for he knew that it Was his 
disobedience and impetuosity that had brought 
about the disaster. 

The horse did not upbraid him, but said, 
"Ti-wa-ra (the god of Court House Rock) has 
let me return, and for your filial devotion to 
your grandmother, and for your kind treat- 
ment of a crippled and worn-out horse, and 
because of your sorrow, I am here ; but here- 
after, do just that which I tell you, no more, 
no less. 

"Now lead me away through yonder gap 
to the other valley and leave me there. Re- 
turn alone tomorrow, and tomorrow, and for 
ten tomorrows." 

He followed the directions, and on the mor- 



row he returned, and found his old dun horse 
and a beautiful white gelding. This he took 
to the village and it was better than the horses 
ridden by other Pawnee braves. The next to- 
morrow, he rode home a coal black steed, and 
so each succeeding day he rode another horse 
of another color into the village, grey, roan, 
pinto, bay, etc., and each was finer than the 
ponies ridden by other braves. 

Now, he was rich, and the chief, reminded 
of his pledge gave him his beautiful daughter, 
and the young brave spread out before her, as 
a tribute to his affection, the Spotted Robe. 

The old dun horse was then brought to the 
village, and well taken care of for the rest of 
his days. And for many years the Pawnees 
claimed the beautiful land. 

It was about the time of the building of the 
first stockades at Fort Laramie, that the Sioux 
began again to crowd down upon the Pawnees 
in the valley of the North Platte. And at the 
same time our young brave met with the great 
common sorrow of the world. Death entered 
his domestic household and took therefrom his 
little son, and when he laid him away, swing- 
ing on the limb of a cottonwood tree, they 
rolled his body in the Spotted Robe. Then 
the old dun horse died, and disasters fell thick 
and fast upon the Pawnees. 

The Sioux made it so uncomfortable that 
the Pawnees decided to retire some distance 
down the river, having no particular objective, 
and to cover their retreat, they left a number 
of the braves to keep the Sioux engaged while 
the main village was moving. And these were 
attacked by the Sioux with such fierceness 
of purpose that they were driven to the top of 
Court House Rock for refuge. 

About the base of the rock camped a number 
of the Sioux, w,ith the evident intention of 
starving them to come down, or to their death. 

Meanwhile the main Sioux bodies hurried 
on after the retreating village. This they 
overtook, and engaged in the final struggle 
for possession of the upper Platte river, at 
Ash Hollow, in about the year 1835. It was 
the fiercest of all their engagements. 

The battle raged all day, beginning with the 
dawn. In the early part of the conflict, the 
air was filled with arrows. Then after all their 
ammunition was gone, they fought on hand to 
hand, with battle axes and tomahawks until 
darkness settled over the land. The Sioux 
were victorious in the end, but at such cost, 
such frightful loss, that they were willing to 
let their hereditary enemy depart without fur- 
ther engagement. 

Under the stars and moon forty-six Sioux 
and sixty Pawnees were cold in death, and 



42 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



many another nursed his wounds. The Paw- 
nees were so humiliated and discouraged, that 
they retired three hundred miles farther down 
the river, and gave up their claim to the North 
Platte valley. In the new land they have work- 
ed out the fulfillment of their destiny, and their 
merging into the races of civilized mankind 
takes place through the medium of the school at 
Genoa. 

This is the only "Battle of Ash Hollow" 
known in history, that really took place on the 
geographical location. 

Meanwhile the young chief left with the 
braves to the defense of the rear were maroon- 
ed on the top of Court House Rock and the 
situation was very desperate. He went out 
alone at night and plead with the god Ti-wa-ra 
to show him some avenue of escape, and the 
answer came. He went near the edge of the 
rock and found one of the perforations that 
extended downward into darkness. He tied 
his lariat and the lariats of others together, 
and fastened the upper end to a jutting rock 



point, and let himself down into the hole or 
"well" as it is called. At its bottom he found 
an opening large enough for a man to crawl 
through, and it was unguarded. He climbed 
back up the rope to await the following night. 

When the darkness came over the land he 
called his men together, and told them of his 
plan for escape, and they all crawled to the 
edge where the perforation in the brule rocks 
made the well. One by one they went down 
the rope, and crawled out through the hole at 
the bottom and away in the darkness. And the 
last to go was the young chief. 

If you will go to the top of Court House 
Rock any night, even to this time, you can feel 
the presence of Ti-wa-ra, and if you will listen 
after the shadows of night have fallen, you 
can hear the Sioux watchers moving about at 
the base, waiting for the Pawnees to come 
down, and you can hear them as they pass 
one another in the darkness, whispering-whis- 
pering-whispering. 



CHAPTER IV 
THE LEGEND OF THE WHITE HAWK — OLD BULL TAIL'S DAUGHTER 



Some years ago I met Col. W. F. Cody, 
"Buffalo Bill," at Washington. We were 
talking of Indian mythology and he told me 
this story which he said was sometimes told of 
the Chadron Plains, sometimes of the valley 
north and east of Scotts Bluff mountain, and 
sometimes of the high divide known as the 
Flowerfield Swell. 

Algon, a Sioux hunter, had chased a deer 
out upon the prairie, until its trail led to a 
circle where all the grass was trodden down, 
but from the circle never a trail led on. 

While marvelling, he heard strange music, 
and it seemed to come from above. Looking 
up. he could see far into the sky a very small 
speck, and as he looked, it seemed to grow 
larger and larger until he made out that it 
was something descending to the earth. He 
fell hack from the circle and concealed him- 
Self in the .ura-s. 

Larger and larger it grew, and louder and 
more distinct became tin- music. Finally it 
settled down in the center of the circle, and 
hi pi rceived that it was a basket and in the 



basket were twelve maidens, and as the basket 
came down the maidens sang. After it had 
alighted they all jumped out and began to 
dance in the circle and sing as they danced. 

One of them was very beautiful, and it 
seemed to the young brave that he must have 
her for his very own. Watching as she came 
to the side of the circle where he was conceal- 
ed, he leapt out and tried to catch her, but 
quick as he was, they were the quicker, and 
all leapt into the basket singing and the basket 
went up into the sky. 

The young brave reached up, and shouted 
his love until long after he knew that they 
were out of hearing, and prehaps it was im- 
agination, but he thought he saw the one head 
leaning over and looking down, until it passed 
from the range of his vision. 

The next day he came and the next day, 
and each day the basket came down and the 
maidens danced, and each day he tried to 
catch the one of his attachment, but in vain. 
Finally he made him a covering of deer hide 
with head and all, and he ran into the circle, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



43 



and leaped into the basket. Immediately all 
the maidens vanished and twelve deer bound- 
ed over the prairie toward the pine clad hills. 

After a time he left the basket, and the cir- 
cle ; and the deer came running back, and they 
disappeared, and twelve maidens jumped out 
of the grass and into the basket and were gone. 

The next day, disguised as a deer, he ran 
into the circle, and throwing off the disguise, 
he seized the maiden of his choice, and the 
others sprang into the basket and only eleven 
were wafted to the skies. 

He carried his captive tenderly to his lodge, 
and while she mourned and wanted to return to 
the stars, she appreciated his great tenderness 
and consideration. 

By and by, there came a little brown boy to 
add to their happiness and she seemed to have 
forgotten about her home in the skies. Seem- 
ed, I say, for all unknown to Algon, she worked 
upon and made a wicker basket. And one 
day he returned from the hunt and found she 
and the baby were gone. Someone had seen 
her going to the Magic Circle, on the prairie. 
He hurried out, but was too late, for as he 
neared the spot he heard her sing, and saw the 
wicker basket going up. Her song was of 
her happiness, but it was a dirge of his hopes. 

Par-kab-il-on-ac-ca, the god of winter came, 
and the young chief and his tribe sat sing- 
ing the Song of Sing-a-biss, until the time for 
"O-ka-gis, the Frogs," and then a summer 
passed. And still there was no joy for him 
in the chase. 

And meantime his wife, in her starry home, 
had almost forgotten him in the blissful en- 
joyment of her environment. But her son, 
true to his race, had a memory of a very brave 
and fine looking father, and with these mem- 
ories he told his great sire and asked if he 
would ever see him again. 

His entreaties won the heart of the grand- 
father, who told his daughter to take her 
young son, and return to the tepee of his fath- 
er, and ask him to come, and to bring with 
him a specimen of every bird and animal he 
had ever killed in the chase. 

Algon, who ever hovered near the enchanted 
spot, heard her song before he could even see 
a speck in the far blue. She seemed to come 
so slow, but at last he had her in his arms. 
And that night, while the boy slept, she gave 
him the message from the stars. 

Now he hunted with great activity, and of 
the things he killed he kept a token, if only 
a foot, a claw, a wing, or a tail, and finally 
with all he had collected, with his wife and 
his boy, he was taken to the starry realm, by 



the magic and power of the voice of his sing- 
ing wife. 

Then the great chief there called his people 
together for a feast. After the feast, he gave 
to each a trophy of Algon's chase. A scene of 
strange confusion followed. One chose a wing, 
another a foot, another a tail and another a 
claw, until all the guests had chosen something. 
And those who chose a foot or tail became ani- 
mals and ran off, those who chose a wing or 
claw became birds and flew away. Algon him- 
self had chosen a white hawk's feather, and his 
wife and boy had done the same. Immediately 
they became white hawks, and flew down upon 
the earth, and from that day, the white hawk 
became the boldest of birds. 

After the advent of unscrupulous white 
traders, who poisoned the Indian imagination 
with liquor, there were no more strange and 
mysterious folk-lore tales, invented or conceiv- 
ed. Before the Taos traders came into the 
North Platte valley, each new or startling event 
was crowned with mystery, and some Indian 
mystic would weave into the mythology of the 
tribe. A new bird appearing, or a stranger in 
the animal kingdom, in unfrequented localities, 
called for an explanation, like that of the Leg- 
end, The White Hawk. 

Liquor created havoc in other ways : 

In November, 1855, there was located on the 
Chugwater an Indian village of considerable 
proportions and the band had been quite suc- 
cessful in gathering fur, which was being held 
for better trades. 

The Chugwater came by its name because 
of a rock along its course, which stands ab- 
ruptly out of the level valley and resembles a 
chimney, and "chug" is an Indian name for 
chimney. Hence Chimney creek, or Chug- 
water. 

The traders at Fort Laramie became impa- 
tient for the fur of the Indians and sent over 
with the complaint a "hollow wood" (keg) of 
firewater. In the succeeding debauch a drunk- 
en fight occurred, and Bull Bear, Yellow Lodge, 
and six of their personal friends were killed. 

The traders of the American Fur Company 
became known all over the west as Long 
Knives, because the ramifications of their busi- 
ness extended over such an extent of country. 
At the station of this company that once stood 
near the mouth of Mollie's' Fork, Old Bull 
Tail appeared with his beautiful daughter, 
Chintzille. She was indeed an attractive Indian 
maiden, but the trader observed that she had 
been weeping. 

Long Knife, the trader, quickly discerned 



44 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



what was the matter, for Old Bull Tail com- 
menced with a diplomatic suggestion that it 
was not well for Long Knife to live alone. 

For several days previously the old scoundrel 
had been a visitor at the post, offering furs 
and ponies and the beads and blankets off his 
back for a hollow wood of firewater. This in- 
timation that single blessedness was not well 
for him, and Chintzille's nervousness had seen 
what was coming. 

After some sparring for an opening, which 
was cleverly avoided, the old villain came out 
plainly and wanted to trade his beautiful 
daughter for a keg of whiskey. 

"But," says Long Knife, "while Chintzille is 
very beautiful, she does not want me." Old 
Bull tail argued that such a condition was not 
infrequent, and that Chintzille was a dutiful 
daughter of her race, and would learn to 
shower the wealth of her affection upon Long 
Knife, and he would be proud of her. 

The diplomacy of refusing the daughter of a 
chief is a very difficult matter, but Long Knife 
succeeded in impressing the old fellow that the 
alliance Was impossible, and that he could un- 



der no circumstances let him have the hollow 
wood of firewater. 

He left in high dudgeon. 

In one of these affairs, where a trader of 
less principle than Long Knife, sold some liq- 
uor to the Indians about the fort, there fol- 
lowed a drunken brawl and Susa-chiecha was 
killed, and around the body of their chief that 
night the Indians revelled in their frightful 
orgies. 

L T ntil Captain Bonneville went into the moun- 
tains, and for some time afterward, the Chey- 
ennes were totally averse to drinking, but, says 
the Missionary Merrill in his diary, April 14, 
1837: "A trader named Gant sweetened the 
liquor and made them fond of it, and now 
they are a nation of drunkards." 

This reference was made no doubt to the 
band of Cheyennes, that traded at Fort Lara- 
mie, and mingled with a similar band of Ogal- 
lalas, known as the "Laramie Loafers." 

Gant was one of the unprincipled traders 
from New Mexico and he had a trading post 
in the Arkansas Valley, coming into the north 
only on occasional trips. 



CHAPTER V 



BELDEN, BRIDGER AND BAKER EPISODES 

INDIANS 



EARLY CONFERENCES WITH 



One of the more famous of western char- 
acters, was James P. Belden, because he volun- 
tarily went among the Indians and married a 
squaw, two of them in fact, and lived with the 
savages for a great many years. Yet in the 
struggles that later took place between the 
people of his tribe, and the people of his race, 
he sometimes was on one side and sometimes 
on the other. More often, his blood asserted 
itself, and on many occasions where he fought 
hard in a losing battle, where all his compan- 
ions were killed. The Indians would single 
him out and spare him, and they seemed to 
understand and respect his position. 

Belden was well educated, but of course lost 
considerable of his polish in his long years on 
the plains. About the first book of adventure 
that I remember was "Belden, The White 
Chief," and it I read and re-read. 

i in one occasion, when Belden "met up" with 
a missionary, Jim Bridger told the gentleman 
that the frontiersman was a poet, which state- 



ment was received with some doubt. Bridger 
told Belden of the doubting Thomas and that 
gentleman returned within his tent. 

After a time he came out with verses he had 
just written, and while long and somewhat 
crude, we repeat the production here because 
of its local color, and the references to dis- 
tinguished characters of the west, none of 
which, I think, is now living. 

Ben Harding was a scout and was the sub- 
ject, and his many narrow escapes, had given 
him the sobriquet "Slippery Ben :" 

Slippen,' Ben 

Shake ! Darn my buttons, I'm mighty glad, 

To meet so many old chums. 
Dick and I have been lyin' round here 

'Till we're gettin' tired of whiskey and beer, 
And we've made up our minds to go trappin' 
this year, 

So we don't get on 'the hard bums.' 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



45 



Bless my eyes, if there aint Jack Grey, 

You darned, infernal old cuss. 
I smelled you, I did, though I didn't see 

You're tarnal old carcass behind that tree, 
I'll bet ye a tenner you can't hide from me, 

You darned old polecat, or wuss. 

Where's your hoss? right there; yes, you're 
right, 
Tied up to a cottonwood tree. 
Well, you're going along with us on this tramp, 

None of your lyin' you bully old scamp, 
You are. How that's said. Suppose we all 
damp 
To success to Jack Grey's company. 

Why, dang it, it's more than a year since we 
met 
At the foot of old Court House Rock, 
And if memory don't fail, I reckon that then 

Another was with us to make up ten 
That tall gawky cuss — you know — Slippery 
Ben, 
W 7 ho wore the long fringe on his frock. 

Does anyone know what became of the boy? 

You do, well let us all know. 
For he gave us his word on this very day, 

He'd meet us all here, by the Old Moun- 
tain Way, 
If nothing should happen to cause his delay, 

Such as lightning, or Injuns, or snow. 

Dead ! died in your house ? the devil you say ! 

You can't shove down any such chaff. 
Now, tell us the truth — let up on the lies — 

Why, what the blazes got into my eyes ? 
It stings so darn bad ; it almost makes me cry, 

When I said at that joke take a laugh. 

Well, no more of this, you're blubberin', Grey, 

A pretty frontiersman you are. 
Not a man in this crowd but has his day, 

Wrapped up in his blanket and laid away 
Some long tried friend, and no one to say 

A scriptural verse or a prayer. 

But Slippery Ben, I can hardly believe 

Has give life the slip in this way. 
For everyone knows he was confounded tough, 

With a great kind heart, though his manner 
was rough, 
Well, well, now, I do fell queer, sure enough, 

But death, you see, must have his way. 

Jack, please call the roll; see if any more's The ten names are among the characters ot 

gone the old west, and Buffalo Bill. I believe, was 

The way Slippery Ben has done. the last to pass over to the rendezvous of an- 

Then we'll mount and away for another year, other Court House Rock. 



On the prairies green, in the mountains drear, 
To trap the beaver,, and hunt the deer, 
From Arkansas to Yellowstone. 

Jim Bridger is one, John Nelson's another, 

And Gilman, he's two by himself, 
And we'll count him the third ; then Dick, and 

me, 
Jack Jones, Jack Morrow, Jack Grey — 

Jacks three, 
A good poker hand, but by yonder tree, 
Is a flush — Bill Cody — himself. 

Nine in all — ■ only nine. Oh, how I do wish, 
Slippery Ben could have bluffed death a year. 

But what's done is did, we can't bring him back, 
So catch us your horses, and hurry and pack, 

And we'll push on ahead in the same old track 
We have followed so oft without fear. 

You are ready I see, Well, move on ahead, 

While Dick and I stop awhile. 
For something is raising a dust back behind, 

And if it is Indians, we will soon make them 
find 
They have no business here, when we go it 

blind, 

And must take tother road, or strike ile. 

Why there's only one — a horseman at that, 

Dick, us two can get off with him, 
Easy enough, can't we, be he friend or foe, 
For there's no two men have better rifles, 
you know. 
Don't appear to you though, that he's comin' 
darned slow; 
That horse and his rider so slim. 

Gimme your coat tail to wipe out my eyes, 

For I swear I can't make out a thing; 
There now, I see better ; Hello ! I say, men, 
Come back here, for dang it, here's Slippery 
Ben, 
Or his ghost and his horse ; I knew them sure, 
when 
I saw those long, gawky legs swing. 

Welcome, old boy, by your absence, you've 
made 
Many old chums' hearts to bleed. 
But ghost or flesh, 'tis the same to the men, 
Who have rode side by side through forest 
and glen. 
So again, we are ten, countin' Slippery Ben, 
Ghost Ben and his shadowy steed. 



46 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



One day Jim Bridger and Jim Baker were 
hunting together in the wilds a little west of 
here, when they came upon a mother grizzly 
bear and two half grown cubs. A lucky shot 
finished the old one and Baker proposed that 
they waste no more ammunition. That each 
take one of the cubs, and "kill and sculp them 
with our butcher knives," which proposition no 
real mountaineer would reject. 

After a goodly fight. Baker succeeded in 
getting the better of his bear, but the bear 
that Bridger attacked seemed to be worsting 
him. Bridger called for help, but Baker an- 
swered that he "didn't want ter interfere in 
another man's ba'r fight," but he finally "lit 
into it," and Bridger immediately retired, 
leaving him to fight alone. Baker was again 
victorious, but angry at Bridger and demand- 
ed an explanation. Bridger explained thus : 

"Ye tarnal fool, Jim, ye got me into this 
scrape, and I got myself out. I wanted to 
shoot mine, but you wanted to kill and sculp 
'em with butcher knives. So as the ba'r fight 
were yourn, I thought I wouldn't interfere, and 
let ye have it plenty." 

After some reflection. Baker answered : 

"Dod rot it, Jim, if ye aint right, but I'll 
never fight nary another grizzly, without a 
good shootin' iron in my paws." 

These old, rough characters had their phil- 
osophy and ideas of humor. 

It would seem that before the time of Mar- 
cus Whitman, and even before the trappers 
built the first fort at the junction of the Lara- 
mie and Platte, Col. Dodge had conferences 
with the Indians with the hope when the 
whites came on into the west, conflicts would 
be avoided. But the Indians, even so early 
as that, had doubt in the white man's pre- 
tentions. 

These councils occurred during the years 
1832 to 1835. On June 23, 1832, there was a 
Grand Council of the Chiefs of the lodge of 
Angry Man. On July 5. 1835, Col. Dodge 
held a council at a point about twenty miles 
above the forks of the Platte, which was at- 
tended by Angry Man, Two Axe, Little Chief; 



Mole in the Face, Bloddy Hand, Two Bulls, 
Big Head or Star. Mole in the Face was 
chief spokeman, and the years of wandering 
had been lean ones, so that these Indians want- 
ed land to settle upon "like the Pawnees." 

A treaty in 1833 provided for a Pawnee 
reserve in the Loup river country. 

In one of these conferences, Little Moon 
spoke so self-deprecatory, that it was tinged 
with irony. 

"The white people are all good, there is 
nothing bad about them." 

Little Moon was a chieftain of much im- 
portance, and his habitat was near the state 
line, at the west border of Scotts Bluff coun- 
ty. People of the present generation are fa- 
miliar with Little Moon Lake which is a 
pleasant place to spend a few days camping. 
And the people of a generation ago knew of 
Little Moon Post-office, at the crossing of the 
Pony Express on Horse Creek, which site is 
now ( 1919) owned by L. J. Wyman. 

In his reports of 1835, Col. Dodge makes 
no mention of travel on the trail, but ten 
years later Col. Kearney tells a different story. 
The latter also tells of a thousand Indians 
at Fort Laramie, and he also advised the gov- 
ernment against the puchase of the post. 

The treaty of Fort Laramie, September 17, 
1851, gave the whites the territory from the 
forks of the Platte to Red Buttes. The In- 
dians never ratified the treaty, but the white 
people have the land. 

In 1846, the Sioux were run down and dis- 
couraged, and they had assembled at Fort 
Laramie and were making great demonstra- 
tions. These were doubtless the Indians re- 
ferred to by Col. Kearney. The Whirlwind 
had assembled them for war against the 
Snakes. Before they departed upon their pro- 
posed conquest and slaughter, the buffalo 
came north, and the whole expedition turned 
into a buffalo hunt. With full stomachs the 
Indians relented their purpose, and settled 
upon the land. The following year Fort Lara- 
mie was sold to the government, and shortly 
thereafter Fort Fontenelle was built at Scotts 
Bluff by the fur traders. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 

CHAPTER VI 
SONGS OF PARKER AND MINTO 



About the time the conferences were be- 
ing held by Colonel Dodge, the Presbyterian 
Church sent out Samuel Parker and his bride, 
in answer to the call of the Nez Perce Indians, 
and they made their "honeymoon journey" in- 
to the west, which journey ended in their death 
at the hands of "praying Indians." Their 
melancholy fate has been laid to the door of 
commercialism, and the Hudson Bay Company 
was accused of instigating the massacre on 
the far shores of the Columbia. 

But while traversing the wilderness of west- 
ern Nebraska, their hearts sang with the joys 
of early married life, and they sang hymns and 
read and talked to the Indians, telling of the 
Promised Land "where the trail ends." 

The Indians of this vicinity were very much 
interested in the Parkers, and especially their 
singing. It w,as so different from the wild 
cries which they had learned from the coyote 
and the eagle, and they came again and again, 
and asked them to sing. 

Parker's map, made in 1838, included every- 
thing from the mouth of the Platte as Oregon. 
The law of the early forties, that gave to 
each emigrant, who found his way to Oregon, 
a section of land, might have been legally ap- 
plicable to the sand hills of Nebraska, sixty 
years before the achievement of Wm. Neville 
and M. P. Kinkaid was upon the statutes. The 
territory of Nebraska was unorganized for 
many years after the passage of the Oregon 
homestead act, and in Idaho the Oregon 
statute was made to apply after Idaho became 
a state, because the act had not been repealed. 

Parker speaks of the large quantities of 
game, and says the prairies abound with "badg- 
ers," probably prairie dogs. It was on the 
21st of July that they arrived "opposite Court 
House Rock," which he describes thus : 

"It has at the distance the appearance of an 
old enormous building, somewhat dilapidated ; 
but still you see the standing walls, the roof, 
turrets and embrasures, the dome and almost 
the very windows — and a large guard house 
standing some distance in front of the main 
building. You unconsciously look around for 
the enclosures — but they are all swept away 
by the lapse of time — for the inhabitants they 
have all disappeared. All is silent and soli- 
tary. You are excited to know who has built 
this fabric — what has become of the bygone 
generations ?" 

The following day they camped "opposite" 



another of nature's wonders, called "The 
Chimney, but I should say it ought to be 
called Beacon Hill from its resemblance to 
that famous land mark of Boston." "I crossed 
the river to get a nearer view with one assist- 
ant. When some distance from the river, we 
heard and then saw the stampeding of buffalo. 
We rode for the river to get out of their 
line of progress. They probably would have 
failed had not some horseman rounded their 
left flank and slightly altered their course." 

These parties proved to be Lucien Fon- 
tenelle and a number of his hunters, and two 
herds of buffalo, each numbering six hundred 
to eight hundred were charging down the river, 
when Mr. Fontenelle alarmed for their safe- 
ty at first, now remained to chat with them, 
as they were fresh from the settlements. 

From descriptions only do we obtain that 
the Parker party all crossed to the south side 
of the river at this point, for the following 
day, they undoubtedly passed through the gap 
in Scotts Bluff mountain. 

In Mitchell valley Parker found two thou- 
sand Pawnees, of which he said : "Their lodges 
were comfortable and easily transportable, and 
they moved from place to place as occasion 
dictated. They were constructed of eight or 
ten poles about eighteen feet long, set circu- 
lar and the small ends fastened together and 
the large ends about twenty feet apart. This 
frame was covered with skins of elk and buf- 
falo. Fire is made in the center with the 
hole at the top for smoke. The men were tall 
and well proportioned, the women well formed 
— ■ less pendulous than usual, well dressed and 
cleanly." 

On Sunday, July 26, 1835, they remained 
on the Banks of the Laramie, where the "In- 
dians came in numbers" to meet them, and 
hear them read and sing. It was hot, very 
hot, but they held almost constant service from 
the forenoon until late into the night. 

Then the next day, they went on towards 
the end of the trail, riding in their "tepees on 
wheels." 

Marcus Whitman was the pilot of all to 
Oregon and about 1844 was at the zenith of 
his living glory. Whitman's glory will never 
fade, even though the "praying Indians," cut 
his living usefulness short in its splendid ca- 
reer. On the journeys to Oregon he preached, 
he exhorted, he enthused. He officiated at 
births, weddings and deaths. A wagon would 



48 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



drop out of line, and a fire would be hastily kin- 
dled, and at night the wagon would come along 
and join the caravan, and the cheerful face of 
the doctor would tell to all the anxious matrons 
who might expect a similar event before the 
journey's end. that all was well, and that the 
mother and child were both doing nicely. He 
ministered to the failing, and said the last sad 
rites over the improvised caskets, or the graves 
of the departed that were left along the Over- 
land. 

Sometimes there were courting on the 
prairies, the same as now — the same old moon 
shown for the young then as it does now, and 
a young Oregonian and his chosen one would 
seek out the same fine old doctor, and Mar- 
cus Whitman would say the words that made 
them man and wife. These weddings on the 
prairie were close to nature's heart, and yet, 
the pranks of the young were not different 
from those prevailing in the settlements. At 
night when the newly-weds would retire to 
their own wagon, the golden chariot that would 
be forever theirs, not infrequently did the 
youngsters serenade, or oftener still, run the 
wagon in the ditch, or creek or river. 

Among the chroniclers of events along the 
old trail, occasionally one indulged in classical 
poetic expression. It was John Minto, I think, 
who tells of the prosaic activities of a cow- 
caravan, in a way to hold interest, and it 
was he who therein contributed the following 
stanzas to the plodding oxen, which for the 
moment felt the exultant thrill of their fore- 
bears in the years when the world was 
young. 

"And now, your western course is led 
Where grassy pampas spread and spread — 

The pastures of the buffalo. 
And like a sudden lash of spray, 
When tropic tempest hits the sea. 

The masts are stript to ward the blow. 

"A ragged whirl of dust, descried 
Upon the prairie's sloping side, 

Protends, as swift and free, a storm. 

And lo ! the herds, they come, they come, 
A sweeping thunder-cloud of life, 
Loud as Niagara, and grand 
As they who rode with plume and brand 
On Waterloo's red slope of strife, 

Wild as the rush of tidal waves 



That roar among the crags and caves, 
The trampling besom hurls along; 
A black and bounding fiery mass 
That withers as with flame the grass, 
Oh, terrible ! ten thousand strong. 

Meanwhile, the dusty teams are stopt 
The wagon tongues are deftly dropt, 

The drivers, by their oxen stand 

To sooth them with soft speech and hand. 
And yet with horns tossed free, and eyes 
Ablaze with purple depths of ire, 
A thousand servile years expire, 
And flashes of old nature rise, 

As if a sudden spirit woke 

That would not brook the chain and yoke. 

"And then, the stormy pageant past, 
They bow their callow necks at last, 
And with a heavy stride, and slow, 
The dreams of liberty forego." 

There Were thousands of buffalo and much 
other game on the meadows where the city of 
North Platte now stands, and it was remarked 
that this was the best game park in the world. 

One can well believe the hail storms are 
nothing new to western Nebraska, but the first 
record that we have seen was on July 21, 1844, 
the, Minto party were on the high divide be- 
tween the Plattes, near Ash Hollow, when 
there came a sudden storm, and the people and 
the stock suffered from a severe pelting by 
hail, "some of the hailstones being as large as 
hen's eggs." In the storm the cattle drifted 
and according to "Black Harris" the guide, the 
party came down into the valley about twelve 
miles west of Ash Hollow. 

But you and I, and Minto and others by the 
millions have each felt that call of the wilder- 
ness, the storms of the highlands, that for the 
moment invaded the storm tossed sprrit of the 
plodding oxen. Out in the altitudes where 
the horizon is the sky, we have each felt as 
St. George Cooke felt when he reached the 
summit of Robideaux Pass, when he saw 
stretched out before him the wide meadows or 
Horse Creek bottom, the billowy hills beyond, 
the treeless plains for miles on miles, then the 
mountains, "and Laramie mountain towering, 
at eighty miles." This is what he said: "Let 
the wide arch of the ranged empires fall. This 
is my space." 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



49 



CHAPTER VII 
RED CLOUD AND SPOTTED TAIL — MASSACRE OF COTTONWOOD CANYON 



In the account of the burning of old Fort 
Robideaux mention was made of the Sioux 
triumph over the Kiowas the following day, 
Red Cloud was called the young chief, which 
was true only by comparison. 

Red Cloud ( Marpiya Luta) was born on the 
Blue Water, in what is now Garden county, 
in May 1821, which made him about thirty 
years of age at the time of the Kiowa raid. 

You were also told that the conflict then 
named Kiowa creek, but I find a reference 
made to another battle, about 1815, in some 
notes from Geo. S. Hyde, of Omaha, in which 



with Bull Bear, a Sioux chief, which resulted 
in the latter moving to the Happy Hunting 
Ground. Red Cloud's distinction as a leader 
had already been increased by encounters with 
and victories over Pawnees, Crows, Shoshones 
and Kiowas from time to time. He now 
became the fighting chief of the Ogallala 
Sioux, and was the main leader in the wars of 
1864 to 1869. It was he who planned and exe- 
cuted the Fetterman massacre, in which Cap- 
tain Fetterman and ninety-six of his command 
were ambushed and left dead on the stark and 
barren Massacre Hill, near Old Piney. 




Jed Cloud's Daughter, Fort Laramie, Wyoming 



he states the Sioux worsted their ancient en- 
emies the Kiowas. This battle, he asserts, 
gave the creek its name. No details of the 
battle have I ever been able to obtain. 

At sixteen years of age, the young brave 
who was born on the banks of the Blue Water, 
went out with a war party, and because of his 
achievements in a fight where the sun shone 
red upon him, he was named Red Cloud. 

One can imagine the impetuous youth of six- 
teen, with the love of color and action, and 
indifference to consequence, riding like a 
whirlwind, silhouetted against the golden red 
of the sunset sky, and his sire seeing in him 
the Red Cloud of Destiny, prophetically cried 
out, "Marpiya Luta, Marpiya Luta." Ah! 
that was a name for an Indian. 

At twenty-five Red Cloud had a difficulty 



Red Cloud was war chief, but Spotted Tail 
was his opposite by nature. 

Spotted Tail, whose Indian name was Sin-ta- 
ga-las-ca, spelled variously from Sentegaleska 
to Shantagolisk, came up from the ranks, and 
attained the greatest distinction recorded in the 
annals of red men. He was born near Fort 
Laramie in 1833, or a year or so before the 
first rude stockade was built. 

At the age of eighteen years he engaged a 
sub-chief in mortal combat, but he is said to 
have no reputation for provoking conflicts. 
While nominally the head of all the Sioux dur- 
ing the great wars along the Trail, the ac- 
tivities were largely in the hands of the war 
loving members of the tribe, who with their 
independent bands moved without orders from 
the supreme head. 



50 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



The experience of the United States at the 
close of the Black Hawk wars in the valley 
of the Mississippi, was so successful, that the 
same plan was followed with Spotted Tail. In 
1872, he was taken to Washington by our mili- 
tary, and there he met General Grant, who was 
then President of the United States. 

He was convinced of the uselessness of com- 
batting the white people, and he told his people 
that they were as numerous as the sands of the 
prairie, and to emphasize the comparative 
strength of his people with the whites, he cast 
a handful of sand into the original bank from 
which it came. 

In 1876, General Crook crowned him "King 
of All the Sioux," which title he maintained 
with dignity until 1881, when he was killed at 
the Rosebud Agency, by Crow Dog, one of his 
sub-chiefs. 

Names in Indian life are certainly an indi- 
cation of character, for one naturally expects 
the assassin of a truly great Indian, to bear 
some such cognomen as "Crow Dog." 

While Spotted Tail was inclined to peace, 
while he would rather take his people to the 
hunting grounds at the head of Spotted Tail 
creek, or over on the Blue Water ( Snake 
creek) and there lay in a winter's supply of 
jerked buffalo meat, he participated in many 
conflicts and personally led in the massacre of 
Cottonwood canyon, just a few miles east of 
North Platte. 

Cottonwood Camp has been built by 
Eugene Ware in 1864, at the mouth of this 
canyon of the same name, and here a com- 
pany of soldiers were kept. Smallpox had 
been on one of its periodical raids more deadly 
than Indians along The Trail. Captain Mitch- 
ell, and parties of the military named Bentz, 
Anderson and Cramer, and a number of con- 
valescent soldiers went up the canyon, in the 
autumn of 1865 to gather wild plums. There 
had been no signs of hostiles for sometime and 
they felt secure. Mitchell and Anderson w T ere 
the only two to carry arms. 

As they started to return on that beautiful 
autumn afternoon, the Indians were observed 
pouring into the canyon to head them off. Mr. 
Bentz, who was mounted on a fine black 
horse, rode ahead with such surprising rapidi- 
ty and suddenness, that he passed the closing 
gap of Indians, and escaped unharmed amid 
a fusilade of bullets and flying arrows. 

Captain Mitchell saw that the slower moving 
ambulance could not hope to escape in this 
manner, and be ordered the driver to turn 
sharply up the sloping bank of the canyon, 
hoping to reach the tableland over its rim. and 



then it would be a running fight in the open to- 
wards the camp. 

The horses had nearly reached the top, when 
the nigh wheeler balked, and for the moment 
they seemed at the mercy of the savages. Then 
a yell from the Indians so frightened the horses 
that they went flying up over the ridge, and 
were headed for camp at the rate of ten or 
twelve miles an hour. 

The Indians pursued, and the driver was 
shot from his seat. Anderson seized the reins 
and held them until Cramer could come for- 
ward, then he returned to the use of his rifle. 
The horses with the heavy ambulance could 
not keep pace with the light-footed Indian mus- 
tangs, and it soon became evident that the In- 
dians would close around them. Captain 
Mitchell and Anderson Were shooting, but the 
roughness of the prairie, and the shaking of the 
ambulance, made the aim uncertain. The Cap- 
tain finally determined to stop upon an emi- 
nence ahead and fight it out, or stand off the 
Indians until Bentz could return with assist- 
ance. 

Cramer, the driver, had lost his head ; he dis- 
obeyed, and kept on lashing the horses past 
the strategic point. Anderson sprang forward 
to jam his foot upon the brake, but a sudden 
lurch sent him rolling upon the prairie. Then 
Captain Mitchell assayed to reach the driver's 
seat, but another jolt sent him to the ground 
and the undefended ambulance, with its wild 
driver and sick soldier went lumbering on. 

Mitchell rolled into a gully near where he 
fell, and as he did so, saw Anderson hide in a 
clump of scrub brush. The Indians im- 
mediately following came to the ridge and 
stopped, for it was plain that those ahead were 
closing in on the luckless ambulance, and its 
occupants. 

One Indian dismounted and looked long and 
intently on the ground. He wore a spotted 
head dress of wild turkey feathers gayly col- 
ored, and reaching nearly to the ground. Cap- 
tain Mitchell knew him to be none other than 
the famous Spotted Tail, and there he stood a 
good mark, not more than thirty yards distant. 

The death of this chief would have a de- 
moralizing effect upon the Indians, and the 
Captain later asserted that he thought would 
more than compensate for the loss of twenty 
captains. He. was directing his pistols in the 
direction of the breast of the famous warrior, 
when a shout arose, and the chief disappeared 
behind the breast of jutting rock. One of 
the tribesmen had detected a movement in the 
brush where Anderson was hidden, and all 
had found shelter. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



51 



A general movement toward Anderson was 
begun, and his rifle cracked. One Indian quit 
moving. Another shot and another Indian 
stopped, but there were now returning shots. 
A sudden rush was made by a dozen or more 
of the Indians, but three shots in quick suc- 
cession sent them back dragging with them 
three companions. That deadly aim was dis- 
concerting. 

Captain Mitchell says he determined it was 
time for him to take a part, as he saw some 
thirty Indians preparing to make a rush. It 
was then he heard the voice of Anderson. 

"My arm is broken. Keep quiet. Can't 
work the Spencer any more." 

From this it would appear that Anderson 
thought it would be useless to bring Mitchell 
into the fight, but I have never given Mitchell 
credit for sufficient courage to enter the fray. 
When I first heard the story, as it was told by 
Belden, the White Chief, the thought occur- 
red to me that a few shots fired from another 
point, just as these thirty warriors were pre- 
paring to rush, would have turned the tide of 



the battle and saved brave Anderson's life. The 
Indians could not have known how many might 
be concealed about them, and the delay and in- 
certainty would have given time and the pos- 
sibility of Bentz returning with assistance. 

But Mitchell remained quiet and the Indians 
made the rush. Notwithstanding his disabled 
condition, Anderson did work the Spencer to 
the effect that four more Indians bit the dust 
before they dragged him from the brush and 
killed him. He was laid upon his back, and 
nine slashes made across his breast, one for 
each of the nine Indians he had killed. 

Captain Mitchell lived and told the story to 
Bentz and his party that soon arrived, but the 
dead Indians told it better, and we have never 
heard that the valor of the captain ever ad- 
vanced him in rank among his brothers mili- 
tary. If one soldier, especially an officer, could 
lay quietly and see another who was making 
a heroic fight, dragged out, killed, and mangled, 
it is no surprise that the old time frontiersman 
held the soldiers in contempt. 



CHAPTER VIII 



SUNSET ON THE PLATTE — THE GIBRALTER OF NEBRASKA - 
SON BELLECHUG WATER 



CHEYENNE 



There are incidents occasionally that con- 
nect the past with the present, and ties one gen- 
eration to another in mysterious manner, other 
than by the usual laws of consanguinity. Simi- 
lar circumstances and environment will awaken 
in one the same line of thought that may have 
once been alive, but has been buried for gener- 
ations. 

It was back in 1889 that the writer, then a 
budding young poet (as he thought), visited 
Gering, on the Fourth of July. The party 
consisted of Miss Ida Eckerson, now Mrs. A. 
E. Scott of this city, Miss Minnie Shumway, 
now Mae Shumway Enderly of Los Angeles, 
William Wallace White of Gering, and the 
writer. We crossed the old bridge that had 
then but recently been built, and as we crossed 
the sun went down. Miss Eckerson, knowing 
of my poetical ambitions, said to me: "If I 
was a poet, I would now write something to 
The Sunset on Scottsbluff." 

I looked, and as I looked I saw the glory of 



the scene, and asked Mr. White to drive slowly. 
With an envelope and scrap paper in the mov- 
ing vehicle, I labored with the following result : 

SUNSET ON THE PLATTE 

Upon the bridge, above the flowing river, 
There we admitted the fast declining day ; 

Like those dark waters, moving on forever, 
Each heart was borne in ecstacy, away. 

The sun sank low behind the horizon. 
It lighted upon the fleecy western sky ; 

A symbol of the great, now dead and gone, 
Who leave a brilliant lustre when they die. 

The sky back of the stream, reflecting, cast 
Resplendent lights of purple and of gold, 

And all the rainbow colors, changing fast, 
From lurid red, 'till fading grey turns cold. 

But here and there, the shimmering surface 
mars, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Its glossy face by interceding bars, 
And where the elements each other wars 

The foamed-flecked sand shone like bright 
glittering stars. 

A pine root clinging to some shoal here 

Reached forth its various prongs and sep- 
arate, 

Resembling the antlers of a deer 

With form beneath the stream, inanimate. 

Far to the southwest rears a silent tower, 
A temple wherein man has never trod ; 

Erected by an Omniptent Power, 

To man was given, a symbol of his God. 

An intervening gap, and then another, 

Great edifice, its head to Heaven doth rear, 

In silent memory' of an earlier brother, 
Who used it in defense of country dear. 

Time's traces on its crest are visible, 

The walls are slowly crumbling to decay, 

Yet, grim and earlier relic, doth it tell 
Its history in its own inspiring way. 

But from the crag of noble grandeur leaping 
Our vision falls upon the level plain, 

Swift over it, the evening shadows creeping 
Leaves a dull dreary waste upon the main. 

Beneath the plain a wall of dingy brown, 
Obscured the last faint rays of waning light. 

The lark's last note sounds through the twilight 
gloom 
As monitory of the coming night. 

Along the surface of the shining river, 

A sleepy swallow skims the water's brim, 
So close it makes the shimmering surface 
shiver, 
The light, translucent, flashing through the 
dim. 
One lovely islet, decked with foliage green, 
Breaks this bright scene stretching from 
shore to shore ; 
Tranquil she reigns, an Oriental queen, 
In majesty and silence wields her power. 

We gaze upon the fine artistic work 

By nature drawn, and painted on the sky, 

On island, and on shore that's growing dark, 
And on the turbid waters flowing by. 

It fades ! The picture was too rare a kind, 
To linger long, and gladden mortal sight. 

Like every earthly pleasure, leaves behind 
Dark shadows, creeping on to darker night. 



Now here, new scenes on the then new 
bridge, and we were the new people. Ah ! 
surely here was an original poem, something 
of a descriptive nature that people would like, 
and the like of which I felt had never before 
been written. 

And for over twenty years I lived in the 
thought that I was the only "poet" who had 
dedicated Scottsbluff in "immortal rhyme." 

A few years ago, I was "looking up the 
trail" of an interesting event in this country, 
and I found the name of "Cooke." Who was 
Cooke ? Into the index of the National Library 
I went and found that St. George P. Cooke 
had written a book of the west, and I went 
after it. Now here is a story. 

On June 9th. 1845, he met Rufus Sage, with 
a fleet of boats descending the Platte river 
from Fort Laramie, and the meeting was a 
little below Court House Rock. Tremendous 
rains had deluged the party at Chimney Rock. 
The hills were like the palisades of the Hud- 
son, with here and there a pilaster of silvery 
white. Ascending the hills to the east the pres- 
ent site of Gering, he saw Scottsbluff, "lifting 
her awful form, above the clouds, and midway 
leaves the storm," and some one in the party 
shouted : "The Gibraltar of Nebraska." 

A heavy storm was approaching from the 
west, and the party went into camp on the 
summit of the hill. "A thousand Sioux were 
in the vast amphitheatre just east of Scotts- 
bluff." They were breaking camp in great 
excitement, having determined to cross the 
river before the storm came upon them. The 
braves were galloping about, the dogs and chil- 
dren were scurrying to and fro, and the wo- 
men with hurried system were packing their 
belongings on the poles dragged by ponies ; 
and away they went, crossing the river with 
great shouting and splashing. Cooke says, as 
he sits at the door of his tent : 

"This Scott's Bluff is a wonderful mountain. 
We are miles off, yet to the last moment of 
light there was some chamaleon change of 
color, and the sentinels are still standing." 

The storm had passed, and Castle Rock was 
described as the "Pillar of Pale Rock," and 
Scottsbluff "resembled Sterling Castle." Cooke 
looked back over the trail he had come, and 
saw the black wreck of the receding storm 
passing on to the east, and "lo ! Chimney Rock 
stood alone like a pillar of fire struck by the 
setting sun." 

Then my eye fell upon these words : 
"The sun set in the clouds ; but the glorious 
day, 
Parts not in gloom ; the thick veil is riven — 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



53 



The river and the sky in lovely array 

Are radiant now, with the light of Heaven. 

"Like an aurora, or the flashing trace, 
Of Angel's flight to the utmost north, 

The glory shines ; unwilling to deface 

The beautiful, Night hovers o'er the earth. 

"Gently, the chameleon colors fade, — 
Slowly ascending to the zenith's height, 

'Till lingering darkness buries all in shade, 
And Light and Beauty bid the world, 'good 
night.' " 

Thus my beautiful dream of being the only 
and original poet of the Scotts Bluff country 
disappeared, for out of the past, some twenty 
years before I was born, and forty-four years 
before the old Gering bridge was built, one had 
seen it all and said it better than I. But the 
poet Cooke offers beautiful philosophy to us 
of the middle age, so that my disappointment is 
not so keen. I really wonder if this voice of 
eighteen forty-five was not reechoed from 
mountain and sky, while we were driving over 
the bridge in eighteen eighty-nine. At any 
rate, Cooke's advice to on peevish couple on 
this occasion will bear repeating now, as a 
solace to any regrets that one may have. 



"Now, for the love of Love, and her soft 
bowers, 
Let's not confound the time with confer- 
ence harsh. 
There's not a minute of our lives should stretch 
Without some pleasure, now." 



Up on the Chugwater, Cooke's party met a 
party of Cheyennes and a number of the belles 
of the Indian village came out to meet the 
white people, for by this time nearly all the 
more ambitious of the young Indian maidens 
decked themselves up in wild flowers and tin- 
sel to attract some white beau brummel. To 
marry a white renegade was considered higher 
social caste than to win the better of the Indian 
braves. 

When the Cheyenne belles came among them 
they beheld a captain who wore glasses, and 
they screamed and rushed wildly to their vil- 
lage tents, nor could they be induced to come 
out so long as the captain was in sight. It was 
very embarrassing to him, for how could he 
know that they had been told that with glasses 
one could see through opaque substances and 
their gayly colored calico gowns were no pro- 
tection against the vision of "four eyes." 



CHAPTER IX 



IN THE SHADOWS- 



THE FIRE FLYSONG — CACHED FURS — OLD LAND 
MARKS — TRAPPER'S ROCK 



Not death, but darkness. What is there 
about shadows and darkness that thrills and 
terrifies the young. I do not recall that any- 
one ever frightened me with stories of Things 
out in the dark, yet I always felt that they were 
there. What, I did not know, but surely it was 
some fearful menace. Coming in from the 
night, I could maintain control of myself until 
I opened the door, and the candle light shone 
in my eyes. Then, behind me the darkness be- 
came a black abyss filled with horrible Things. 
The point of a terrible blade, the fangs of some 
frightful beast was ever close — so close that I 
would leap into the circle of candle light, bang 
the door, and shiver with relief and safety. 

Then at night in the low-ceilinged room with 



its sloping sides, close under the shingles where 
my mother put me to bed. How I did dread 
to see her carry out the candle. How I hoped 
she would leave the "middle room" ajar, for 
the few moments respite from the dark. What 
a comfort to hear her moving about, and to 
know that as long as she was there the gob- 
lins of the dark would not come out. But when 
she had gone downstairs, the invisible, menac- 
ing creatures were about me. What a thrill 
when a mouse rattled in the wall, or a branch 
from a maple tree would touch the roof. 

You have had these experiences, and you, 
and you, with slight variations. 

And the little red children of the prairie had 
their similar fears, and the maidens would sing 



54 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



songs at night, expressing their fear of the un- 
known Dwellers of the Darkness. Their Fire 
Fly Song, is one of this character: 

"Fire fly — fire fly — bright little thing, 
Light me to bed while my songs I sing. 
Give me your light as you fly o'er my head 
That I may merrily go to bed. 
Give me your light o'er the grass as you creep 
That I may joyfully go to my sleep." 

They could merrily go to bed, and joyfully 
go to sleep if the little fire fly would only give 
the safety of its feeble light. 

The young trappers and boy scouts, if they 
look, may find some evidences of the cache of 
furs that the American Fur Company once had 
in the bad lands at the foot of Scotts Bluff 
mountain. It was during the spring freshet of 
June, 1842, that fourteen trappers from Fort 
Laramie left with boats laden with furs for 
St. Louis. 

When they reached Scotts Bluff, which they 
accomplished very easily, the river spread out, 
and they were compelled to unload a number of 
their packs from each boat. They made a 
cave of a blowout in the bad lands, and there- 
in hid the furs they could no longer carry ; they 
left some men to guard the cave, but these 
soon wearied, and being anxious for civil- 
ization they went on foot toward the land of 
the rising sun. 

John C. Fremont, then on his way to the 
mountains, met both the boat party and the 
footmen, and reported back to Fort Laramie, 
the fact that the furs had been left at Scotts- 
bluff. He met them about two weeks after 
the unloading, and the men were in consider- 
able distress as their tobacco had given out. A 
limited supply was given them, to last until 
they should reach the settlements. 

Next to Scotts Bluff mountain Court House 
Rock and Chimney Rock were the more fam- 
ous land marks of the Trail in western Ne- 
braska. And every chronicler had a different 
name or suggestion as to the proper name for 
each. 

Samuel Parker said Chimney Rock looked 
like Beacon Hill of Boston, and Kelly, the 
Englishman says it "looks like a Wellington 
Testimonial on a Danish fort." He adds that 
"it is fast chipping away, and no doubt would 
be gone in another fifty years." After this lapse 
of seventy years he would no doubt be sur- 
prised to learn thai it looks fair for another 
century or two, although fragments have re- 
cently fallen away ( 1919). 



Kelly was on his way to California in forty- 
nine, and wrote as he sat "at the country resi- 
dence of Mr. Robideaux," May 25th, that he 
Would not be surprised if they were traveling 
over gold here. He little dreamed of the man- 
ner in which the soil and the sunshine and the 
vagrant river would be by the later genius of 
man converted into the acres of diamonds, or 
transmuted into untold riches. 

In the vicinity of Chimney Rock there came 
up one of the heavy rains, for which that spot 
seemed famous, and for three days the down- 
pour continued and thoroughly soaked the par- 
ty. On the third day as they were slowly mov- 
ing to the west, they ascended the hill to the 
west of Creighton valley, Scotts Bluff mountain 
suddenly loomed distinct and clear above the 
fog that enveloped its base, and the excited pil- 
grims cried : "Mount Araratt, Mount Araratt." 

The "Nut brown Sioux girls" greatly in- 
fatuated the langorous Englishman, and to one 
he gave a small hand looking glass, which so 
pleased her that she fastened a bracelet on his 
wrist, and he said the touch of her hands was 
very pleasing to the senses. 

Of bidding farewell to her, Kelly writes: 

"Maid of Athens, 'ere we part, 
Give, oh, give me back my heart." 

West of the Robideaux Pass they met a lone 
French trapper, who was out of tobacco. This 
want supplied, he went away again toward the 
head of Gonneville creek. 

Kelly's "vision" had pictured Fort Laramie 
as a fortress, but in realization it proved "a 
cracked, dilapidated adobe quadrangular en- 
closure." "No wonder it was sold to the gov- 
ernment." Bruce Husband was then in charge, 
and Fort Fontenelle Was in course of construc- 
tion or almost completed. 

A short distance above Julesburg, at a point 
off to Mud Springs there stands a solitary 
rock which bears the name of Trapper's Rock 
because of the awful tragedies of the plains. 

Two men, and the sister of one of them, had 
come together into the west, and after a year 
one of them wanted to return. The other who 
was the brother of the girl had not yet his 
fill of the wilderness, although the sister wished 
to return to the settlements. The men were 
boyhood chums and each had absolute confi- 
dence in the other. Therefore the brother took 
the vow of the other that he would see the sis- 
ter safely into the hands of the white people, 
and let them depart. Later the companion re- 
turned, and the two partners went on as before. 

One day they met another who knew them, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



55 



and when he had an opportunity, he told of 
the sad fate of his sister. The vow of his part- 
ner had been broken, and the condition of 
the girl was such that she could not return 
to the same circle of friends she had left. A 
short time after she had died. 

The brother said nothing of his horrible dis- 
covery, and together they made their way 
working toward the east. At the point indi- 
cated, the brother set upon and tied the other 
fast. He took him in this condition to the 
rock, and bound him fast thereon. Then he 
coolly built a fire, cooked his supper and ate it. 
Then laid by the fire and slept. In the morning 
he prepared his breakfast and ate it in the 
same manner, and never offered a morsel to the 
man upon the rock. For nine days he camped 



there, cooking, eating, and sleeping, and high 
overhead, up in the blue sky the buzzards sail- 
ed round and round and round and looked 
down and at night the wolves howled from the 
hillsides. On the ninth day the man on the 
rock died of starvation and was left for the 
vultures or the wolves. The brother of the 
girl moved on into the east, satisfied with his 
fiendish revenge. 

When he reached St. Louis he found that 
his brother had tried to make all amends, that 
he had sought and plead with the girl to marry 
him, but an old aunt had persuaded her to have 
nothing to do with him. Failing in that, he 
made a will giving her all his property, which 
was considerable, at the time of his death. 



CHAPTER X 

STAGE DRIVERS — ROAD AGENTS — PONY EXPRESS RIDERS— CHAS. CLIFF'S 

ADVENTURES — JULES AND SLADE FEUD — CREIGHTON'S 

QUICK FORTUNE 



Following the discovery of gold, and insti- 
tution of stage service to the golden coast, the 
country filled up with road agents and white 
renegades, who preyed upon the pilgrims, and 
robbed the stages with great regularity. In this 
country there are said to be several caches of 
gold hidden by gangs that either were later 
exterminated, or never came back to find them. 
One of these is supposed to be on Kiowa creek, 
a certain distance from a certain cedar tree 
of great dimensions. And another is on the 
east side of Wildcat mountains. Much soil 
has been worked over with the hope of finding 
something, but the direction and the distance 
from the landmarks are indefinite. 

The operations of the road agents became so 
bad that the Overland stage traffic came near 
being abandoned, soon after its institution. 

The first Overland stage to California was 
put in service in 1859. and shortly after the 
pony express was inaugurated. The time for 
mail from New York to Sacramento, by the 
"Butterfield Stage Route," was twenty-one 
days, and the pony express shortened it to ten 
days. As early as 1851 a monthly service by 
stage was put on to Salt Lake City. Letters 
were written on the thinnest of paper, for it 
cost five dollars for a half ounce communica- 



tion to be delivered at the Golden Gate by Pony 
Express. 

Old Stage and Pony Express stations, be- 
tween Julesburg and Fort Laramie, were Mud 
Springs, Chimney Rock, Scotts Bluff, Horse 
Creek, Sand Hills, Bordeaux. Sometimes they 
crossed the river at Horse Creek and back at 
Fort Laramie. These were north side stations 
used. One at Rock Bottom Ford, and another 
was near the old Wyncote station. Sub-sta- 
tions at intervals of about ten miles were made. 

President Lincoln's inaugural address was 
started from the Missouri river, March 4, 1861, 
and in just seven days and seventeen hours it 
was delivered at Sacramento. It then became 
a regular schedule of eight days to travel the 
two thousand miles, or two hundred and fifty 
miles each twentv-four hours. 

On April 3, 1860, the first start of the Pony 
Express was made, and on the eleventh there 
was a crowd waiting at each end that broke in- 
to wild cheers as the rider hove in sight. 

The first rider from Julesburg west, was Jim 
Moore, and he rode to Scottsbluff station, 
which is the old soddy later used as a ranch 
by Mark M. Coad. 

Jim Moore made one of the most famous 
rides in the history of the Pony Express, on 



56 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



June eighth, of 1860, when he rode from Mid- 
why to Julesburg and return, a distance of two 
hundred and forty miles, in fourteen hours and 
forty-six minutes. He stopped only seven 
minutes for lunch. 

Colonel W. F. Cody rode the Pony Express, 
and he was first hired by Jules Reni and put in 
'"Bill Trotter's division." He was the youngest 
rider on the entire two thousand miles of the 
road. He quit the prairie and went to the 
mountains in the summer, and met Joe Slade 
at Horseshoe station, where he offered his 
services, but Joe Slade said he was too young. 
Cody then gave him a letter from Trotter, and 
he was immediately employed. Slade always 
told Cody when he started on a trip to "look- 
out for your scalp." 

One of the dare-devils of the road was 
Chas. Cliff, who rode a division from Scotts- 
bluff station west through to Sand Hill sta- 
tion. On his return trip once he was attacked 
by the Indians in Mitchell Gap, and when he 
arrived at Scottsbluff station and was taken 
from his horse, he had three bullets in his body 
and twenty-seven through his clothes. 

Joseph A. Slade was something of a green 
but vicious looking fellow when he applied for 
service with the Overland stage people. Mark 
Twain tells that few were asked for references 
or credentials in the west for this employment, 
but they did ask Slade if he had ever been at 
St. Louis or New Orleans, and Slade replied : 
"No, I haint never been at Horleans, but 
I'll tell you where I have been. I've been 
mighty nigh all over three counties in Illinois." 
Slade's seemed to have been a wonderful 
nerve, for he drove stage through the wildest 
part of the road and shot down the road agents 
on sight. It was something different. Here- 
tofore at the sight of desperadoes, the drivers 
would whip their horses into a fury of getting 
away, but now Slade would simply slow down 
and the first man within range would "get his." 
When H. M. Inghram was hired by Slade, 
he was asked if he could drive, which of course 
"I tank" could do, and Slade said: "Well, damn 
ye. drive then, and if you don't, I'll kill ye." 
and [nghram drove on the route between North 
Platte and Denver. 

Apparently he was satisfied with Inghram 
for after a few trips he gave him a sawed off 
double barrelled shotgun loaded with buck- 
shot, and a position as guard, with instructions 
to "shoot to get 'em." 

Slide would always take any advantage that 
cunning quick action or a quick wit would 
give, and on one occasion when the gentleman 
with whom he had had a dispute appeared to 
he the nimblest artist, Slade quickly said that 



it was useless for life to be wasted over such 
a small matter, and proposed that they throw 
their guns on the ground and fight it out with 
their fists. The other party agreed and threw 
his gun down, whereupon Slade laughed at his 
simplicity, and shot him on the spot. 

Such conduct made him both hated and 
feared. 

I am not in possession of the facts that orig- 
inated the Jules-Slade feud, but it was no doubt 
some trivial affair, and the enemies of each as- 
sisted in keeping it alive, with the hope that 
one or the other or both would be wiped off 
the earth. 

It was at the Rock Ranch station that Jules 
finally got the drop on Slade. Jules was told 
that Slade was out back and he fired thirteen 
buckshot into him. Slade dropped and Jules 
satisfied that he was as good as dead, told some 
of the fellows to put him in a dry-goods box 
and bur>' him. Slade retorted that he would 
live long enough to wear one of Jules' ears on 
his watch guard. 

Just at that time the stage came along, and 
the superintendent happened to be on board. 
He ordered Jules' arrest, and they proceeded 
to hang him. He was strangled until black in 
the face, and then was let go on the promise 
that he would forever leave this part of the 
country. This promise was kept — for a time. 

Slade was taken to St. Louis where seven of 
the buckshot were cut out of him and the 
other six remained in his body until his death. 

After a time, they were both back in the 
Scotts Bluff country, and each with the threat 
to kill the other on sight. Slade laid the mat- 
ter before the officers at Fort Laramie, and 
promised to take their advice. They decided 
that Jules must be captured or killed, and Slade 
had four men sent to Bordeaux, then on 
Chausen's ranch, the first station east of the 
fort, where Jules was said to be located. 

They captured him with little opposition 
says Coutant, and bound him hand and foot. 
When Slade reached Bordeaux, this was the 
condition in which he found him. He went up 
to the helpless man, deliberately shot him twice, 
killing him instantly. He then returned to Fort 
Laramie, and went through the farce of giving 
himself up, and was discharged. This was in 
1862. It is believed that there was no mutila- 
tion, and that this was just an exaggeration of 
partisans growing out of the threat of some 
time before. 

In 1860, the United States government 
granted a subsidy of forty thousand dollars to 
the first company that would build a telegraph 
line across the continent. Ed. Creighton, for 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



57 



the Western Union Company had eleven hun- 
dred miles to build, and the California tele- 
graph company was to build from the west and 
the twb were to meet and join at Salt Lake 
City. A special prize was given to the one that 
first reached Salt Lake City. 

Creighton built his line up the Platte to 
Julesburg, then across to Mud Springs and 
through Mitchell Gap on into the west. He had 
the line completed to Salt Lake City on the 
17th of October and on the 24th of the same 
month the California company reached the 



City on the Lake. Creighton had bought dur- 
ing the summer one hundred thousand dollars 
of Western Union stock for $18,000.00 and 
when the project was completed, he was given 
three shares for one. And shortly afterwards 
he sold his one-third of his holdings for 
$85,000.00. It took a little less than six 
months to build the line, that made Creighton 
over a quarter of a million dollars. 

Creighton became one of the great figures of 
this section and of Nebraska, and he died in 
1874, at Omaha. 



CHAPTER XI 
SACRIFICE OF FRONTIER WOMEN — INDIAN EXECUTION AT FT. LARAMIE 



Woman on the frontier has always had a 
hard time of it, but like woman always, when 
a crisis arises, she arises and meets it half way. 
The experiences of some of the frontier wo- 
men was such that it left a saddened or changed 
person after the crisis, and others met heroic- 
ally the test. In some cases it left no hope 
and they became derelicts that lived about in 
the sod shanties on the outskirts of army posts, 
or ranches, like "Dirty Woman's Ranch," near 
old Wellsville and Camp Clarke. Calamity Jane 
became a combination of courage and vice. 

Virginia Dale, attached to the notorious 
character Slade, had a certain strength of per- 
sonality that forced a degree of respect. Jos- 
eph A. Slade never had a friend that staid 
true to colors like Virginia Dale Slade, his wife. 

Virginia City, Montana, was named for the 
daring and pretty Mrs. Slade, and she was 
the regal queen for the period of its greatest 
importance. When the "Vigilantes," (and 
what atrocious deeds their activities cover) 
hung Slade in Montana, the yellow in him 
came to the surface. He wlas not the cool, 
daring assassin of his reputation, but a coward 
in the face of death. He begged and bel- 
lowed, but to no avail. They hung him just as 
they did those of better nerve. 

Mrs. Slade had been sent for by friends, but 
she arrived too late, and he was dead. It 
broke her heart, and she heaped curses upon 
the perpetrators of the deed, and she cursed 
the silent friends of Slade, many of whom had 
witnessed the tragedy, demanding to know why 
one of them had not shot her husband, and 



saved him from the "dog's death." She told 
the leaders of the vigilantes to beware, that 
death was upon their trail, and that everyone 
of them was marked. In the main, this proph- 
esy came true, and the assassins of Slade were 
met with assassination until practically extermr 
inated. Slade was hung in 1863. 

Hugo Koch, who whacked bulls through the 
old Mitchell Pass many a time, and who now 
(1919) lives at Lander, Wyoming, came to 
this country in 1858, and he tells us that Slade 
was about thirty years old at that time, and 
was "under medium size," and of dark com- 
plexion. He weighed about one hundred and 
sixty pounds, and his wife was good looking 
and was about the same size, age and com- 
plexion, and often interfered in his business, 
and was generally a trouble maker. 

Virginia Dale, one of the stage stations west 
of here, was named for her. 

Much is said of the noted characters like 
Jules and Slade, but not as much of their 
wives. 

A short time ago there lived in Nebraska 
City, an elderly lady of French descent, by the 
name of Ellen Bcckstead. Possibly she yet 
lives there. She was once one of the woman 
characters of the western Nebraska. 

Along about 1858, when only thirteen years 
of age, she and her husband Jules Beni ar- 
rived at his ranch at Cottonwood, near the 
forks of the Platte, and being young, and full 
of the French fire of adventure, the wild life 
of "Jules," appealed to her fancy. But her 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



story of the death of Jules is entirely different 
from that of the record of history. 

She says that Slade shot Jules while the 
latter was kneeling at the "Cold Spring" near 
the old Jack Morrow ranch, a little west of the 
present site of North Platte. Jules was getting 
a drink, when the treacherous Slade shot him. 
Aiter wounding him he tied him to a post and 
shot off his ears. 

All stories of history, and of one of Slade's 
old drivers, H. M. Inghram, now living at 
Scottsbluff, indicate that Jules' demise was at 
Bordeaux, (near Cold Springs) fifteen miles 
east of Fort Laramie. It would seem when 
Jules was killed that his friends did not cor- 
rectly relate to the widow all the details of the 
tragedy; they probably thought to temper the 
grief and colored the story, or possibly, in the 
years that have followed, she has lost track of 
it, and her memory is not good. I believe 
Beckstead was the fourth husband of the little 
French bride of Jules Beni, and that would 
indicate her grief was not deep-seated, and that 
the buoyant blood of her race asserted itself 
in quick revival of spirits. 

In the Mormon Hand Cart expedition was 
perhaps as tragic and heroic a case of fidelity 
to the religious fervor, as ever struck home to 
any part of the human race, and the women 
were no small part of it. From the Missouri 
river to Great Salt Lake, pushing all their per- 
sonal effects and smaller children in hand carts, 
is something of an undertaking. Often one 
hears people, men and women, complaining of 
the dreariness and monotony of the trip in 
the Pullmans, and they chafe under the delay 
of a few hours because of a wreck, or heavy 
railroading. They suffer from the heat of the. 
summer or the cold of winter. If they could 
reconstruct that other expedition, where 
mothers put their babies into carts, with their 
meagre personal belongings, and pushed them 
on and on, over the hundreds and hundreds of 
miles of prairie, of sand, of sagebrush, up hill 
and down, fording streams and traveling long 
stretches without water under a superheated 
sun and burnished sky. they might have a con- 
ception of what sacrifice and suffering in travel 
really entailed. This expedition was in 1856, 
and just seventy-five per cent of those who 
started, reached the Mecca, and one-fourth died 
of the hardships and privations enroute. 

In 1916 T. 1). Deutsch found a skull of a 
woman, in excavating for Tub Springs drain- 
age canal. That it was of one of the Hand 
Cart Expedition, is probable. 

Tlllv SKULL 

This ruin once was the retreat 

Of thought, and the mysterious seat 



Of mind and soul of other age. 
Her generation now is dead, 
But one can read the silent head 

Like printed page. 

Within the cavern, once brain teemed 
With lucid light of the redeemed. 

And with the profoundest self respect, 
Her natural impulses inclined 
Toward the lord of humankind — 

Toward her own elect. 

Mysterious motherhood is there, 
And love of children chastened her, 

And made her life calm and serene. 
For they, and not for wanderlust, 
Part of "the Overland," she crossed 

Before the "closing scene." 

Within these caverns two, her eyes 
Looked up toward her Paradise, 

Or burned with earth's eternal flame. 
And in the ivory cavern hung, 
The marvel of a human tongue 

That whispered low one name. 

With lips of earth's celestial fire. 
With voice and glances that inspire, 

She strove, but fell beside the way. — 
A shallow grave in shifting sand, 
Along the tragic "Overland," 

A spirit gone away. 

Another tragedy involved the Brown girls. 
They were happy in the wilderness on a ranch, 
and one day the scourges of the South came. 
The Comanches killed their parents, and took 
them away. They were recaptured, or rather 
purchased by Bent in 1839. They were then 
eighteen and twenty-one years of age respec- 
tively, and the older was widowed. Each had 
become the enforced wife of an Indian. The 
younger, whose brave still lived, said a few 
days later that she was going to return to the 
tent, because she was no longer fit to live with 
white people. Perhaps some mother can tell 
us whether that was the real reason she went 
back to the tribe. For back there in the wig- 
wam of its father was a tiny little half-breed 
son, whose mute arms stretched through the 
desert night and whose wail and murmur in its 
sleep was of its mother. 

There is still another tragedy that came to 
our very doors. When the Indian raids, in 
August, 1865, struck terror among the Over- 
land and Denver trails. Mr. and Mrs. Eubanks, 
their four children, a visiting lady named Miss 
Laura Roper, and a hired domestic were living 
happily in a rude log domicile on the Little 
Blue. It was always scrupulously clean, and 
Mrs. Eubanks sang happily at her labor. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



59 



The Indians came, and when they passed, 
Eubanks was dead and horribly mutilated. 
Three of the children lay where the savages 
had thrown them, after having first taken them 
by the heels and battering their heads against 
the logs. The hired girl was stripped naked 
and left dead, tied standing to a post and shot 
with a dozen arrows. The cabin was in ruins 
and Mrs. Eubanks and one child and her friend 
Miss Roper were carried away prisoners. 

The following January Two Face, with Mrs. 
Eubanks and child were captured near the 
present site of the Rawhide ranch, and Black- 
foot with Miss Roper on Snake Creek, nearly 
due north of Scottsbluff. The prisoners were 
in terrible condition. 

Their freshness and lustre had faded, and 
the women's hair was streaked with grey, and 
their backs were masses of sores from the 
beatings they had received. Every indignity of 
horrible consequence was theirs, and they 
were nearly lunatics. A few hundred dollars 
in greenbacks was found on their captors. This 
was turned over to the women, and they were 
given safe conduct as far as Kearney. Mrs. 
Eubanks and the child faded into the obscurity 
of the east, and Miss Roper to her people at 
Beatrice, where she was later married. 

Colonel Moonlight was at Fort Laramie at 
the time, and when Two Face, Black Foot and 
Black Crow boasted of their brutility, and 
dared him to punish them, he gave orders to 
have "their necks tied to cross beams, with 
nothing to support their feet, and left sus- 
pended for the crows to eat." 

This summary execution brought much criti- 



cism, and the easterners whose sob squad had 
been after the scalp of Colonel Moonlight and 
others of his strong kind, sent up a howl that 
was heard as far as Washington, and one 
mountaineer and trader said it would center the 
Indians at Fort Laramie for revenge, and "we 
will all be masscred," he declared. Colonel 
Moonlight's answer was that perhaps such 
would be the case, but if so, there would be 
three mighty bad Indians that would not be 
there to participate in the massacre. 

The sentimentalists finally secured Colonel 
Moonlight's scalp, but there are those who still 
approve of him and his way of fighting Indians. 
The methods employed by the people of the 
west were ofttimes severe, and really shocking 
to the senses, but the lessons were measurably 
necessary to bring home a realization to the 
savages. While the boasting of an Indian, as 
to what he intends to do, is not meet offense 
for a severe penalty, these three who boasted 
to Colonel Moonlight, had a record, and it was 
a record of taking children by the heels and 
beating their brains out against logs and stones, 
and it was a record of horrible torture to west- 
ern women, and they boasted of this and said 
they would do more, and dared the penalty. 

I am not surprised that General Harney ob- 
tained the name "squaw killer," at the battle of 
Blue Water, for at that time it seemed that the 
extermination of the Indian race was the best 
solution of a bad problem. And it is no won- 
der that Qister said, when they accused him of 
throwing papooses into the South Platte river. 
after he had destroyed an Indian village, "if 
you kill the nits there will be no lice." 



CHAPTER Nil 
THE GRATTAN MASSACRE— SPOTTED TAIL'S DRAMATIC DEED 



In 1851 there was a grand council of the 
Ogallalas and Brules on Horse Creek in the 
west part of Scotts Bluff county and across 
the state line. Here all the tribes agreed to 
a division of the land, and all the hunting 
grounds between the Missouri and the Rocky 
Mountains were divided among them. In the 
treaty the United States confirmed to each 
tribe the land it was to occupy. 

Surveying parties, which always were viewed 
with suspicion by Indians, were taken off for 
the time. 



All the Indians agreed that "the great Road" 
along the Platte, and across the mountains 
should be free and open for white people, and 
the United States agreed to pay the Indians 
fifty thousand dollars a year in goods, for 
the use of the road through their country. The 
Indians agreed not to rob or attack the white 
people on this road, and the United States 
agreed to keep the white people from going 
elsewhere into the Indian country. 

When the treaty was sent to Washington 
the United States senate changed the period 



60 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



of the contract from fifty years to ten years. 
The Indians never agreed to this change, but 
one can always expect the dear old conserva- 
tive United States senate to "ball things up." 

Neither Red Cloud nor Spotted Tail were 
then chiefs of importance and their names are 
not upon this treaty. The United States con- 
tinued to use the great road, and to send an- 
nually the fifty thosuand dollars in goods to 
the Indians. And it was for the first annual 
distribution that they were assembled near 
Fort Laramie at the time of the Grattan Mas- 
sacre. 

The event that led to it was a trifling affair, 
but dull life about the fort and idleness of the 
men there and perhaps ambitions that could 
not find outlet in the common routine of mili- 
tary duty each contributed a part to the fright- 
ful carnage of succeeding years. 

The grave of Rebecca Winters, on the Bur- 
lington right-of-way in the east part of Scotts- 
bluff City, is one of the land marks on the 
Old Overland Trails. The original mark was 
only a wagon tire set half in the ground with 
her name, and a few important facts chiseled 
thereon. The buffalo and then the range cat- 
tle found it a convenient rubbing place, and 
it was always kept bright and shining by their 
constant wear. 

Many Mormon parties followed during the 
succeeding years. According to Coutant on 
the 19th of August, 1S54, one of the almost 
destitute parties went into camp ten or twelve 
miles from the Fort. They complained that 
the day before some Indians under Chief Met- 
-to-i-o-way, ( Startling Bear) had driven off 
and killed a cow belonging to them. 

At that time the soldiers at the fort had 
little to do, and as a result had tried to liven 
things up a bit by liberal quantities of liquor. 
Commander Fleming was in charge of the 
post, and dispatched Lieutenant Grattan with 
thirty men and two mountain howitzers to 
bring in the guilty men. 

Grattan was a new arrival from West Point, 
and was utterly unfamiliar with Indian war- 
fare and character. But flushed with ambition 
and perhaps firewater, he felt equal to any 
task. 

< Mi arrival at the Indian lodges, he demanded 
of a sub-chief "Bear," the guilty parties. Bear 
informed him that the chief had already gone 
to the fort to apologize and make amends. Such 
a tame conclusion would reflect but little glory 
>" 1 a Wesl Pointer, and Grattan determined 
thai the guilty man must be produced. Bear 
again told him that he did not consider the 
matter very serious. The cow was dead be- 
fore the chief had knowledge of it. and that 



many had partaken of the meat. Several mules 
had been offered the Mormons to repay them, 
and he would not submit to arrest. But as 
they were journeying towards the fort, they 
would continue in that direction with the de- 
tachment of soldiers. They wanted to "bury" 
the matter. 

The lieutenant advanced, determined to 
make a demonstration, and as the Indians 
gathered around him, he ordered the soldiers 
to fire, which they did, killing three Indians 
and the chief. Battiste Good says the chief's 
name was Mato-Wahyui, "Mato" signifying 
"Bear" and "Wahyui" means to "arouse or 
startle." Spotted Tail, the young warrior, then 
took a prominent part, and the Indians, infuri- 
ated, turned in with clubs and tomahawks, and 
destroyed the entire detachment, save one, who, 
though wounded, reached the fort. Richards, 
a squaw man, is said to have aided in the 
escape of this one, although Hugo Koch says 
it was "Old Joe," a big Sioux Indian. In the 
melee, the mountain howitzers were discharg- 
ed, but the missies of death went over the 
heads of the Indians. 

For the first time in its history, the stability 
of Fort Laramie was threatened. The Indians 
began attacking and destroying the trading 
stations thereabout, including those of Bor- 
deaux and Choteau & Company, which were 
under the very doors of the fort. 

A messenger was sent on the dangerous 
journey to Fort Kearney, and a part of the 
detachment was sent to the relief. Fleming, 
in the meantime, martialed all the available 
men about the fort, which were maintained 
strictly on the defense of the station without 
any journeys or sallies out to assist the emi- 
grants. 

A mail stage was stopped a little west of 
the Horse creek station and the driver and all 
the guards murdered. This was done under 
the supposed leadership of Spotted Tail. And 
it was for "the murder of the mail party," 
that General Harney demanded the surrender 
of the murderers. 

The Indians had boldly declared they would 
kill every white person they could, and would 
destroy the trains of emigrants going into the 
west. 

This was the condition of ferment when my 
father and uncle arrived at Fort Laramie with 
five wagons and one hundred head of cattle. 
By some miracle it seems they had been un- 
molested, although at a point about fifty miles 
down the river, which my father has identified 
as the hill northeast of Bald Knob, they saw 
a lone footman run out of the breaks toward 
the river. He was pursued by Indians, and 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



61 



killed in plain view of the caravan, but the 
river separated them, and they were powerless 
to aid him. After the murder, and some 
threatening demonstrations toward my father's 
party, the Indians retired in the direction of 
Sixty-six mountain. The event made a power- 
ful impression upon the party, especially the 
women, who for the first time had witnessed 
a tragedy of this sort. 

I have never been able to ascertain the iden- 
tity of this unfortunate party, but it was prob- 
ably a lone trapper. 

On arrival at the fort, they found that it 
was impossible to secure an escort, such as 
they had expected to go with them through 
"the Black Hills" to the next garrison west. 
They waited several days on the meadows 
north of the river, and then as no further emi- 
grants arrived, and they had seen few Indians 
about, they determined to undertake the jour- 
ney without escort. 

The morning of the second day out they as- 
cended a slight ridge and were about to de- 
scend into the valley of Mollie's Fork when 
immediately before them at the foot of the 
hill lay about two (hundred Indian lodges, 
scattered through the cottonwoods on the bank 
of the spring branch. 

It was crucial and an excruciating moment, 
but after a brief consultation it was decided 
that the only plan of action was one of cour- 
age, of assurance, without evident fear, and 
not in the least offensive. The event of the 
Bald Knob tragedy being of so recent date, 
the women became hysterical, and began to cry 
and sob, but retreat meant certain disaster be- 
fore they could possibly reach the fort. The 
party proceeded without undue haste or hesi- 
tation down the hill and through the smoky 
city of tepees, and as slowly and unconcerned- 
ly climbed the hill farther on. The Indians 
made some demonstrations of hostility, but 
never fired a gun, or shot an arrow. The dis- 
play of courage may have made them think 
that it was a trap into which they were ex- 
pected to be inveigled, and they were not to be 
thus caught. Whether they followed with 
spies or not was never known, but it is assured 



that the party was not molested, which, con- 
sidering the state of hostilities then existing, is 
a matter of sincere congratulation. 

The Grattan Massacre was the beginning of 
a series of bloody affairs, which with seldom a 
brief respite, continued for a period of fifteen 
years, with tremendous loss of property, and 
probably more than a thousand lives. 

The victims were buried where they fell, in 
a shallow trench and covered with earth and 
a pile of loose stones. This pile was about 
eight miles east of the fort, and unless it has 
been obliterated, is still there, the only monu- 
ment that marks the spot of this, the really 
first military tragedy in the North Platte val- 
ley. 

When General Harney demanded the sur- 
render of the murderers of the Horse Creek 
mail party, Spotted Tail with a number of the 
other so-called murderers marched into the 
fort in full war dress, singing their death songs, 
and gave themselves up. It was supposed that 
they would be put to death, and they were sac- 
rificing themselves for their tribe. 

But General Harney had them sent to Fort 
Kearney, where they lived under guard until 
1858. On rejoining the Brules soon after, 
Spotted Tail became a popular hero, and some- 
time after that he was exalted to the position 
of chief of the Brules. This date is a little 
indefinite, but Geo. S. Hyde tells me that one 
authority dates it at the death of the old chief 
Little Thunder. As Little Thunder died in 
1865, perhaps Spotted Tail's ascendancy to the 
chief-ship dates from that year. 

Ware says that he attended two of the coun- 
cils at Camp Cottonwood in 1865, or the year 
following the date of Spotted Tail's leading 
in the Massacre of Cottonwood Canyon. 

After these councils, he moved with his band 
to the head of Spotted Tail creek, and rambled 
the country over for miles thereabout. He 
wanted peace, but he could not hold the young 
men, and when a peaceful man goes to war he 
is about the worst (or best) warrior of them 
all. His activities covered a wide range as 
will be seen later. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XIV 



BUTLER'S STORY OF THE COW WAR — HARNEY THE SQUAW KIELER— AN- 
OTHER ASH HOLLOW BATTLE 



A letter from D. W. Butler, of Washington, 
gives a version of the Grattan Massacre, or the 
beginning of the "Cow War" different from 
most of the stories of history. 

"The Grattan affair" was an unfortunate 
one. A small matter at the beginning, it was 
treated seriously by the officer in command at 
Fort Laramie, who was without experience. 
The attempt at arrest was made by a man who 
had contempt for Indians as fighters, and knew 
nothing of the characteristics of the race. 
Every effort seemed to have been made by the 
chief of the Brules to effect a peaceful settle- 
ment of the affair. He offered a mule to Grat- 
tan, as a recompense for the loss of the cow, 
but Grattan effected to think that it was offered 
to him personally as a bribe. 

Man-afraid-of-his-horse, the chief of the 
Ogallala band, was earnest in his efforts to set- 
tle the matter peacefully. 

The Indians were strung out along the banks 
of the Platte for a distance of six miles from 
Fort Laramie, awaiting the arrival of the In- 
dian agent for the distribution of government 
annuities, stored at Chouteau's American Fur 
Company's store. The band of Ogallalas were 
nearest the fort and the Brules were just be- 
yond. One letter ventures to give the number 
of lodges in the camp at 600, which I think is 
too high. A Mormon emigrant train passed 
the camp headed for the fort. A Mormon 
brought up the rear driving a lame cow. The 
Mormon, terribly afraid of the Indians, headed 
for the fort, when the cow, frightened, ran to- 
ward the Indian camp. He reported himself 
fired upon and the cow captured. 

A Minneconjou, "shooters of the mist," a 
stranger camped among the Brules, killed the 
cow, and it was eaten. 

On the 19th, Grattan with his twenty-nine 
men and an interpreter, (a hanger on around 
forts and camps, a hard drinker, and very 
boastful) with two cannon, a twelve pound 
howitzer, and a mountain howitzer, arrived 
aboul three I'. M. to arrest the Minneconjou. 
Grattan took a position in the Brule camp 
about CO yards from the lodge of the Minne- 
conjou, and demanded his surrender. 

The braves, estimated at one thousand fight- 
ing men, crowded around between the whites 
and the lodge of the Indian wanted. Tile chief 
of the Brules asked him to surrender, but he 
refused, saying he was ready In die and would 



die in camp (very natural for one who under- 
stood the Indian character and his views on 
arrest). 

The Brule chief renewed his offer to pay for 
the cow if the officer would retire. Man-afraid- 
of-his-horse went twice from the lodge of the 
Minneconjou to Grattan, and begged the officer 
to retire and the cow would be paid for. From 
Bordeaux's testimony, Grattan felt his posi- 
tion would be ridiculous if he left camp with- 
out the prisoner. So he ordered his men to 
fire on the lodge. One Indian was wounded. 
The Indians started to rush him then, and he 
fired his cannon and muskets in a volley. The 
Bear and a few Indians fell, the Bear mortally 
wounded. 

Grattan and five men were killed around the 
cannon, and the rest were all cut down within 
a mile of camp. One soldier, terribly wounded, 
was picked up by one of the sub-chiefs and 
kept in his lodge over night, and the next day 
taken to Bordeaux's trading store and later to 
the fort, where he died in three or four days. 

The Indians then looted Bordeaux's store, 
and went to Choteau, Jr.'s American Fur Com- 
pany's store and took the annuity goods. Then 
they threatened to attack the fort. Soldiers 
were rushed to reinforce Fort Laramie. 

For the rash lieutenant the affair was at an 
end, but for the unfortunate Brules it had just 
commenced. 

Mato-i-o-way signifies, "Bear who hunts 
alone," according to some authorities. He was 
at the time recognized by the government, as 
the head of the Brules. Father DeSmet knew 
him well, and spoke of him as a man of in- 
telligence and courage. 

After the looting of Bordeaux and Chouteau 
trading posts, the Indians took the body of 
their dead chief, and went over on the Nio- 
brara, where he was wrapped in rich robes and 
put in a burial tree. 

Activities of Spotted Tail .and Little Thun- 
der, after the Grattan Massacre, brought Gen- 
eral Harney to Fort Laramie with re-inforce- 
ments from Fort Kearney. 

Little Thunder became the nominal chief 
after the death of Mato-i-o-way, with Spotted 
Tail second in command. Harney heard that 
the Indians under Little Thunder were com- 
mitting depreciations along the river, and while 
there was some foundation for the reports, it 
was also an opportunity for him to distinguish 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



63 



himself. He therefore proceeded to Ash Hol- 
low to settle the score. 

Details of battles, of which generally only a 
brief sketch is given, make them the more in- 
teresting. In the battle of Ash Hollow, which 
really occurred on the Blue, in Garden county, 
there were Philip St. George Cooke, the inter- 
esting chronicler, and Alexander Schlegel, the 
surveyor, who later served in the interior de- 
partment at Washington, and who but recently 
returned to Lincoln where he resides (1919). 
From Cooke's writings and from Schlegel per- 
sonally I was told the story of the battle. D. 
W. Butler of Washington, D. C, has also writ- 
ten an extensive letter concerning it. 

Little Thunder was in charge at the time 
General Harney with his powerful force, came 
into the North River country. Little Thunder 
was not anxious to fight, and wished to parley. 
He had with him on the Blue, forty-one lodges 
of Brules (or Burnt Thighs), and eleven lodges 
of Ogallalas, (or Dust Throwers). According 
to regular count this would indicate 326 Brules, 
of which 65 were braves, and 88 Ogallalas, of 
which seventeen would be braves. Harney had 
1200 troops, infantry, cavalry and some artil- 
lery. 

General Harney stationed his main force 
under Major Cady in the low, sandy hills 
near the lower end of the Blue Water valley, 
and engaged the Indians in a sort of parley, 
while the cavalry under St. George Cooke, 
were to go up the valley and behind the In- 
dians in the darkness. The parleying did not 
close until after night fall, and was to be re- 
sumed the following day. The cavalry pro- 
ceeded up the east side of the Blue, across some 
marshes, that are now a part of the hay 
meadow of S. P. DeLatour, and crossing the 
river two or three miles farther up, proceeded 
some distance too far to the west. It was not 
intended that the Indians should be allowed to 
escape, and he was returning to the proper 
position when a squaw, who was out picketing 
a pony for her brave who was belated in arriv- 
ing in camp that night, heard the sound of the 
creaking saddles in the darkness and gave the 
alarm. The Ogalallas rushed out of their tents 
and the cavalary charged. The Indians fought 
desperately, and reached the top of the flat top 
butte that stands on the west side of the val- 
ley. Here they made a stand until dawn, but 
being driven therefrom they retreated across 
the small tributary of Blue Water, then called 
Beaver creek. Down the valley the cry of 
alarm had gone, and through the camp of the 
Brules there arose the tumult of war. The 
soldiers at the lower end of the valley heard 
it, and the battle was on. The retreating Brules 



and Ogallalas met and joined in an effort to 
escape across the stream to the northeast. Part 
of the Indians had taken refuge in the rocks 
on the east side of the valley, a mile or more 
south of DeLatour's ranch. Into the rocks Gen- 
eral Drum directed their fire. A scream arose 
out of the rocks and it was the scream of a 
woman. 

An order was issued to cease firing, and the 
Indian braves, taking advantage of the re- 
spite, dodged out of the rocks and ran away 
into the hills. Then to the rocks the soldiers 
went, and they found that a bullet had struck 
a woman sitting upon a rock. She had been 
holding a papoose, with its little feet between 
her legs. The bullet had passed through both 
her thighs and shattered both ankles of her 
baby. 

They took her into camp, and it was found 
necessary to amputate the feet of the child, 
which died before the rising of another sun. 
The mother lost consciousness while carrying 
her to the valley, an unusual affair for a 
«quaw, and someone remarked her regular 
feaures and lack of resemblance to any Indian. 
One suggested that she might be a half-breed 
or quarter-blood, and General Drum said if 
she were of amalgamated blood it would show 
on her back bone. This did not show the ex- 
pected darker color, even after washing the 
spine. 

She was taken to Denver and carefully cared 
for and recovered. The story came out that 
she was not Indian, but was a white girl cap- 
tured by the Indians at the age of four years, 
and had always been as one of them. Know- 
ing no other life, she returned to the tribe after 
her recovery and liberation. 

On the battle field of the dead a cavalry- 
man was riding across it when he saw an In- 
dian move, and turned his horse that way. 
The battle was over, and he no doubt intended 
to see what could be done for the wounded 
man. But the Indian raised his arm, and 
with his pistol shot the cavalryman from his 
horse. Another rushed up to sabre the In- 
dian, but broke his sabre, both parts of which 
fell near the prostrate Indian. A third horse- 
man rushed, and succeeded in ending the red- 
man, but not until he had taken a broken por- 
tion of the sabre beside him, and severed a foot 
from the horse and damaged the man. 

On the succeeding days the army crossed 
the river to Ash Hollow. On the bank of the 
river, was built a large sod house, which was 
named "Fort Grattan." This structure will 
be remembered by a few of the older people 
of the valley, but at the time I saw it, the 
roof had been removed, and the sod walls with 



64 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the square port holes were all that remained. It 
was about twenty feet north and south by 
forty east and west. 

After this battle, and Harney had passed on 
to Fort Laramie and Fort Pierre, he under- 
took to show the Indians what a superior man 
he was, by chloroforming a dog. He told them 
that he could kill a dog, and then bring it 
back to life. Accordingly he administered the 
chloroform, and the dog went to sleep. Then 
he undertook to revive it, but the dog was 
too dead for that and the Indians had the laugh 



Be that as it may, Harney obtained from the 
affair the title of "squaw killer," which was 
never effaced. 

Among the prisoners taken were five Ogal- 
lalas, the wife and four children of Chau-te- 
pe-tan-ya (pronounced Changta-Petang) or 
"Fire-Heart." There is little said of Fire- 
Heart, as to just who he was, but the name 
certainly sounds like a good Indian cognomen. 
Butler says, it was after Harney left Fort 
Laramie, and had gone to Pierre for a grand 
council, a number of Indians obtained permis- 




Camping Ground op 



Hostiles. over 4000 Teepies, Dec, 1890. 



on him, declaring "white man's medicine too 
strong." 

Doane Robinson, historian of South Da- 
kota, says "though hailed as a great victory, 
and an additional plume in Harney's crest of 
fame, Ash Hollow was a shameful affair, 
unworthy of American arms, and a disgrace 
to the officer who planned and executed it. It 
was a massacre as heedless and as barbarous 
as any which the Dakotas have at any time 
visited upon the white people." I am led to 
believe, however, that the battle was precipi- 
tated by the alarm of the squaw, and the hys- 
teria of the Indians who imagined they were 
about to be attacked, when in fact the pur- 
pose may have been only to prevent escape. 



sion to camp near the fort. One morning Red 
Leaf and Long Chin, two brothers of Ma-to-i- 
o-wa, together with Spotted Tail rode into the 
fort in full war paint, and surrendered them- 
selves as hostages for the killing of the Grat- 
tan party, and the murder of the mail party. 
Red-Plume and Spotted Elk soon followed the 
example. All with their squaws were sent 
to Kearney, and then to Leavenworth, but 
how long they were kept is not known, or given 
out. 

Butler says that Spotted Tail was not a chief 
until made so by the whites, but if not, he was 
a leader of great influence, and functioned the 
same as a chief, so wherein is the difference? 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XV 



MURDER OF SPOTTED TAIL — CROW DOG'S PUNISHMENT 
SCOTTSBLUFF MOUNTAIN PASS 



BATTLE IN 



Eastman, in the Outlook, says that Spotted 
Tail was killed because he betrayed the Brules 
to the whites, and Crow Dog's killing him was 
the result of a pact made thirty years before 
by the Brules, that Spotted Tail should die if 
it were ever proved that he had played false 
to his tribe. This sounds like an apology for 
the murder of the great Indian, and the thought 
has probably been fostered by the friends of 
"the old man with a withered arm." No 
doubt there are those among the Indians who 
hated "the King of all the Sioux," through 
all the years, and were glad when he was final- 
ly assassinated. 

After Spotted Tail was taken to Washing- 
ton, he lost control of a good many of the 
young men of the tribe who wanted war. Big 
Mouth was the leader of the war party. One 
day in 1873, Spotted Tail called him out of 
his lodge. As he came out two of Spotted 
Tail's friends grabbed his arms, and Spotted 
Tail walked up to him and shot him dead. 

It was eight years later that Crow Dog 
started trouble among the young braves, and 
some say that Spotted Tail was arranging to 
shoot him as he had shot Big Mouth. Crow 
Dog did not wait. In the terse language of 
the West he "beat him to it," and Spotted Tail 
was the one to die. 

Father DeSmet speaks of Crow Dog as a 
man of courage and with a withered arm. 
This was forty years before Spotted Tail's 
death, and disagrees with the statement of 
Hyde that Crow Dog was "a young leader." 

Mrs. A. R. Honnold, wife of the attorney 
at Scottsbluff, tells an interesting story, that 
came to her from her mother, Mrs. E. Van 
Horn, who was an almost first citizen of Belle 
Fourche. Crow Dog had been tried at Sidney 
and sentenced to imprisonment at Deadwood. 
Mrs. Van Horn, then a girl of sixteen years, 
was on the stage from Sidney to Deadwood, 
in which the prisoner, in charge of two officers, 
was being conveyed. Crow Dog was held at 
Deadwood for years ; first imprisoned, then 
as a trusty. In the latter capacity he carried 
slops and garbage to a few hogs that were 
owned by the civil authorities. He did the 
work uncomplainingly, and with not a murmur 
of discontent, for many years. 

One day they missed him from the work, 
and they never made a search. They knew that 
the wilderness had beckoned to him, that he 



had heard the call of the wild solitudes, and 
had gone. They let him go, to spend his few 
remaining years in the old familiar fastnesses, 
where his rapidly dimming eyes would soon 
close forever to the changeful coloring of 
the sky and land. 

Leach, in his historical stories, says that 
Harney had twelve hundred troops in the Bat- 
tle of Min-ne-to-wap-pa, or Bluewater, which 
was more than half of all the soldiers along 
the Overland. 

In 1855, which was the year following the 
Grattan Massacre, there were only 2,000 of 
the military guarding the entire line of the 
Overland, but this was gradually increased, 
for rebel spies and agitators were among the 
Indians during the trying times of the early 
sixties, and hostilities increased amazingly. At 
the close of the war, many men re-enlisted for 
service in the west, and they were among the 
best, for their experience in guerilla warfare 
well fitted them for the character of Indian 
fighting. 

Al. Wiker, of Alliance, with five others of 
his original company were with the Harney 
convoy that had a battle in Scottsbluff Moun- 
tain Pass. 

This convoy was in August, 1866, in charge 
of freight outfits for Fort Laramie and be- 
yond as far as Salt Lake City. From Wiker 
I obtained the story. 

They were camped at the springs some dis- 
tance east of the mountain, likely on the Sow- 
erwine place, and in the morning the wagons 
started out a short distance ahead of the sol- 
diers. With the wagons were a number of 
camp tenders, and other wagons that were. 
owned by travellers who took advantage of 
the presumed safety of being close to the sol- 
diers, and they were traveling along with them. 

These wagons were moving through the 
big gap when attacked. The sound of battle 
reached the soldiers who were just mounting, 
and they started forward at a gallop. Instead 
of heading straight for the gap they rode to- 
ward the point of rocks, known as Eagle Crag, 
just north of the present pathway that leads 
up to the mountain top from the east. At its 
base the cavalry parted, and one-half swung 
around to the south, skirting Engine Rock, and 
the others essayed to negotiate the Bad Lands 
north of the mountain. 

Those coming upon the rear of the wagon 



66 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



train engaged the Indians who were hidden 
just over the summit of the gap. While the 
others, after riding as far as they could ad- 
vance with their horses, proceeded on foot. 
This gave them a good advantage, for the In- 
dians were lying on the west slopes of the rocks 
that guard the gap, and in hidden ravines 
busily engaged with the enemy to the east of 
them, and did not notice the approach of the 
other soldiers. 



Of the causualties on the part of the whites, 
five were soldiers, one a colored cook, and the 
others emigrants. Three wagons were burn- 
ed. Owing to having left their horses in the 
Bad Lands, pursuit of the Indians was im- 
possible, but the soldiers ran down across the 
Pass and climbed the hill that guards it on 
the south, and snipped off several of the In- 
dians while they were mounting, still within 
range. 




The Hostii.es Coming in From the Bad Lands to Surrender. 



Their first intimation of the existence of this 
force was when the soldiers opened a deadly 
fire upon them in their exposed positions. 
Then they fled towards the southwest, while 
out of one of the gulches on the prairie in 
that direction came an Indian having a number 
of horses. These the others mounted and 
rode away towards Robideaux. 

The outfit consisted of about seventy-five 
wagons and had about one hundred head of 
cattle. Part of the wagons were loaded with 
governmenl supplies, and some belonged to 
emigrants. 

Tin (.nil. were being taken along the river- 
side through the Bad Lands, but before they 
reached there, the noise of the battle was 
heard. Of the thirty-live men in charge, thirty 
joined in the ride towards Eagle Crag, leav- 
ing but five t<> take can- of the cattle. 



The thirty-eight dead were buried a few 
rods west of the west end of the gap, but a 
few days later, the bodies of the whites were 
exhumed and taken to Fort Mitchell for in- 
terment. The remains of the Indians are yet 
in obliterated graves a little west of Mitchell 
Gap. 

Of the five veterans of the rebellion that 
participated in this battle there is only one 
survivor. Two were later killed at Fort Kear- 
ney, and the other two died, leaving Al Wiker 
the sole living member of the five. 

Mr. Wiker lives at Alliance, and is modest, 
and does not want his name mentioned, but 
he was over here some years ago, and with 
Frank Sands and some others, went over the 
ground, recalling all the stirring details of the 
battle. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XVI 



A BUFFALO BILL EPISODE — MORE INDIAN TROUBLES 



There seems to have been little systematic 
endeavor on the part of the Indians following 
the Grattan trouble. Bands of hostiles, in- 
dependent of others, committed depredations 
here and there at widely scattered intervals. 

The Plum Creek affair, the Massacre of Eu- 
banks, the surveying party of the Republican 
and attacks on the Overland : always there 
were surprise attacks on the route from civili- 
zation's advance guard to the mountains. 

This condition required guards convoying 
emigrants or freight wagons, and while for 
days they might pass unmolested, any moment 
might bring startling denouement. 

Col. W. F. Cody related to me one incident, 
when I asked him a few years ago to tell me 
one of his adventures along the "North River," 
that I might have a close at home event to 
chronicle. 

Buffalo Bill and two companions had this 
experience in June, 1858, just over the hill 
east of Ash Hollow. 

He and Simpson and Woods were detailed 
as guards in connection with others for the 
convoying of a train of freight wagons from 
Fort Laramie to Fort Kearney, and they had 
camped at Ash Hollow. The following day 
one part of the wagon train had departed with 
a part of the guard, and Cody Simpson and 
Woods were to follow up. The other detach- 
ment of wagon were to follow a day later. 

The three were some distance in the rear 
of the first wagons, after they had passed 
over the big hill east of Ash Hollow, which, 
having been gone several hours, were out of 
sight. The guards were riding mules, and the 
J Indians were of such superior numbers, they 
concluded their only means of defense was 
continued resistance until the following day, 
when the second detachment would overtake 
them. Even this seemed hopeless. 

Cody said they shot their mules and drag- 
ged them into the form of a triangle, and be- 
hind this barricade kept the Indians at bay 
for the entire day and night and a part of the 
next day. With the butcher knives they dug 
in the soil and made a pit deep enough for 
them to rest comfortably and the dirt was piled 
between the dead mules and over their dead 
bodies. 

At noon the following day, the Indians were 
observed moving away to the south over the 
hills from which they had come, and soon the 
blessed sight of the coming wagons relieved 



them from the tension that for over forty 
hours had deprived them of rest and with 
but little food. 

The war of the Rebellion had a bad effect 
upon the Indians, for in 1864 at a council at 
Camp Cottonwood, one of the Indian orators 
asked the embarrassing question, how the 
Great Father expected the Indians to keep 
peace, when he was unable to keep his own 
children from quarreling. It showed they had 
a pretty clear understanding of the situation. 

General Mitchell was there, and it was hard 
to give a satisfactory answer. But the gen- 
eral knew what frightful results would fol- 
low the active hostilities if all the Sioux were 
to break loose. The Cheyenne and the Arapa- 
hoes were then in the terrible work of endeav- 
oring to exterminate the white people. There 
were also predatory Sioux bands at work. 
There was a great and diplomatic effort on the 
part of General Mitchell to come to an un- 
derstanding, so it was in May of 1864 that he 
called a council of the different Sioux chiefs 
at Camp Cottonwood, to make a treaty of 
peace. 

They smoked and talked, but came to no un- 
derstanding and adjourned for fifty days. At 
the second conference General Mitchell opened 
with an address, in substance as follows : 

"This meeting is to come to an understand- 
ing and make a treaty so that each of us will 
know what to do. The government will give 
the Indians blankets, flour, bacon and other 
supplies so that they will have plenty. That 
they should live in houses and the government 
will furnish them with carpenters and black- 
smiths, and they should live like white people. 
But they must stay out of the valley of the 
Platte because it scares the women and children 
who are travelling over the trail. If the In- 
dians wished to cross the trail they should ask 
permission of the white people, and they would 
furnish an escort from the hills on one side 
of the valley, to the hills on the other side. 
And that they must keep out spies, and beggars 
and bad Indians. If it takes more blankets 
and corn and bacon, these things would be 
furnished, but the Indians must be kept out 
of the Platte valley." 

This did not appear to please the Indians, 
and Spotted Tail spoke at some length. 

"The Sioux is a great people, but we do not 
want to be dictated to by the whites. We do 
not care about the Platte valley, there is no 



(,S 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



game there, our young men, and your people 
have scared it all away. But we want to come 
to the Platte valley to trade and we will not 
give it away. We have let the white man 
pass over it, and he has gone over it so often 
that he now thinks he owns it. But it is ours, 
and it always has been ours. It belonged to 
our fathers and their graves are along the 
hills overlooking the valley from the Missouri 
river to the Rocky mountains, and we will not 
give it up. We are not afraid of the white 
man. Of late years we have had no serious 
difficulty with him, but we are not afraid to 
fight him. Our troubles have been brought on 
by drunk-water. Bad whites give it to bad 
Indians, and it makes trouble. The things the 



chief of the Brule Sioux, while O-wa-see-cha, 
or Bad Wound was a chief of considerable re- 
pute among the Ogallalas, and both were in- 
clined to be friendly to the whites. 

Some have said that Spotted Tail's daughter 
was one of the potent factors that made him 
incline to peace, but that is open to question. 
One time for instance, the great chief was so 
incensed with his daughter, because she wanted 
him to get her a white general or officer for a 
husband, that he upbraided her for her fool- 
ishness and ambition, and knocked her down. 

After the conferences, while there was no 
treaty signed, Spotted Tail and Bad Wound, 
and their band drew away from the bad in- 
fluence of the Arapahoes and Cheyennes. 




white father has given us is not enough, and 
the agents cheat us. The army officers treat 
us well, but the agents cheat us, and we do 
not want to treat with anyone but army officers. 
We will not give up the Platte valley until there 
is a treaty, and we have all agreed to it. If we 
give you this, then you will want another and 
another. Before we agree to anything, you 
must stop the surveyors who now, at this very 
time, are going west on the Niobrara." 

While we all know that the traders were of 
a class that took advantage of the untutored 
savage, we wonder if the soldiers were any 
better, and we also wonder if this interpreta- 
tion was not construed to mean something that 
was not really said, with the view of centering 
in the military the power and profit which the 
government had given to civil authority. If 
so. it fell short of its purpose. 

This second conference broke up as did the 
first, with a call for another, fifty days later, 
but General Mitchell did agree to stop the 
Niobrara survey. 

Spotted Tail was then the most powerful 



Spotted Tail said at these conferences that 
if the Sioux went to war, they had over 25,- 
000 warriors with which to fight. Bad Wound 
is said to have punished severely some of the 
young men who broke away and committed 
depredations. 

These councils of 1864, were the sequel of 
similar events that occurred a great many years 
before. Colonel Kearney had nearly twenty 
years earlier addressed the Indians at Fort 
Laramie in the number of 1200 braves, telling 
them that he was opening a road for the white 
people that were going to bury their bones 
where the waters flow toward the setting sun. 
Of course this road was already opened, but 
like Fremont, the Pathfinder, he found paths 
that had been trod for a generation of white 
people and many generations by aborigines. 

Colonel Kearney told the Indians that there 
were many enemies about them, but that the 
greatest of them was whiskey. He warned 
them against its use, and advised them to con- 
fiscate all that was offered them for sale, and 
pour it into the ground. He told them that 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



(■<} 



the great father would give them blankets and 
flour and bacon, and he did distribute some 
presents among them. 

Tall Bull chanced to be the principal chief 
present, and he made a few remarks. 

"If my people will be good to the whites, 
they will find that the presents they are about 
to receive will often come. Father, this does 
very well and pleases me. What you have told 
me, I am glad of from my heart. All you have 
told me is very good. I have found a father. 
We will no longer think of dying, but will live. 
I remember the words you have this day spok- 
en to us. My people will do as I say." 

The struggle to maintain peace had continued 



for twenty years, but at intervals white rene- 
gades, bad Indians, ambitious army men, or 
hot-headed young Indians, would stir up fric- 
tion. Steadily it seemed the causes were piling 
up, and the break appeared to be inevitable at 
some future time. 

All the time the Sioux seemed to be getting 
a better organization. There was better func- 
tioning between the several tribes as the storm 
came nearer. 

In this the great genius of Spotted Tail and 
Red Cloud was affiliated. They amalgamated 
the Sioux into a powerful fighting army, with 
systematic attacks scattered for hundreds of 
miles along the Overland Trail. 



CHAPTER XVII 



THE BATTLE OF HORSE CREEK — COLONEL MOONLIGHT'S MISTAKE— PRES- 
IDENT LINCOLN'S MESSAGE TO THE WEST 



While these episodes of adventure, and the 
causes of war were accumulating, there were, 
during the winter of 1864-1865, in the neigh- 
borhood of Fort Laramie about two thousand 
Indians who professed to be friendly. They 
said that the war tribes had made it dangerous 
for them to pursue their usual vocation of 
hunting, and under orders from Washington, 
they were fed and sustained through the cold 
weather. The officials at the fort had good rea- 
son to believe that a number of them at least 
were carrying word, and perhaps provisions, 
to the war braves. Every movement of the 
soldiers seemed almost instantly known by the 
enemy Indians. 

It was deemed advisable to remove the 
friendlies from the central scene of hostilities, 
and consequently, on June eleventh, a company 
of one hundred and thirty-five soldiers, under 
Captain Fouts, were directed to act as an escort 
for about fifteen hundred Indians, including 
squaws and papooses, who agreed to be remov- 
ed to Fort Kearney. Charles Elston had charge 
of a number of professed friendly Indians, 
which he was trying to make useful to the 
government as scouts. While they appeared to 
be doing his bidding, he was confident that 
some of them were better scouts for their na- 
tive tribes. The element of integrity did not 
seem at first to be requisite, according to In- 
dian standards. One time, a chief of some 



note among the Sioux had offered his son as 
a candidate for position in a place requiring in- 
tegrity, and one of the recommendations given 
was that the son had single-handed stolen 
twenty ponies from the Pawnees. 

Captain Fouts proceeded down the south 
side of the Platte river with caution, looking 
out for surprise attack. There was nothing of 
suspicious note, except signal fires on the hills 
on both sides of the Raw Hide, and on the 
west side of Sheep creek and on Signal Buttes. 

"On the afternoon of the thirteenth of 
June," says C. G. Coutant, in his history of 
Wyoming, "the party went into camp on Horse 
creek, and the indians proceeded to give a dog 
feast. In the evening, three hundred and 
eighty-two of the warriors congregated in se- 
cret council. The officers were seriously anxi- 
ous to know just what was going on, yet their 
best efforts failed of finding out." 

Through Butler and Hyde, comes a story, 
evidently of Indian origin, that the Indians 
were furious at certain white officers and sol- 
diers, for taking young Indian girls into their 
tents, and keeping them there all night. It 
seems doubtful that there was any truth to 
the story, for the reason that there were a 
number of white women in the party, that were 
being taken out of the danger zone and among 
them were the wives and families of Captain 
Fouts, and Lieutenant Triggs. It is not prob- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



able that they would permit such conduct as 
that alleged. 

Furthermore, there had been a recent exe- 
cution of some bad Indians at Fort Laramie, 
for their criminal treatment of women ; and 
among those martyr women being escorted to 
safety, were Mrs. Eubanks and daughter and 
Miss Roper. Under these conditions it is 
not likely that any soldiers, no matter how evil 
might have been his reputation, would be 
guilty of the alleged disreputable deeds. 

On the morning of the fourteenth, the ad- 
vance guard started at five o'clock, the idea 
being to cover the eighteen miles to the mea- 
dows near Fort Mitchell for the next camping 
place. The wagons were strung out for a mile 
or more, when rapid firing was begun by the 
Indians upon the rear guard. Captain Fouts 
had ordered that no ammunition be distributed, 
fearing that some hair-trigger individual 
among the soldiers might become excited and 
shoot, and thus set off an unpremediated bat- 
tle. 

The rear guard started for the front, and 
the front guard started for the rear, with am- 
munition. They met about half way, and turn- 
ed about to fight. Captain Fouts had crossed 
Horse creek to hurry up the Indians, and had 
been killed, stripped and mutilated. The In- 
dians then turned and fled two or three miles 
towards the river, and were making warlike 
demonstrations while the squaws and papooses 
were crossing the river on ponies. 

Captain Wilcox assumed charge, and the 
guards charged after the Indians. When near 
at hand, he sent Elston forward to offer im- 
munity to those who would return peacefully. 
The Indians shrieked defiance, and charged 
viciously. 

The Indians numbered more than five hun- 
dred warriors, and when at a distance of about 
three hundred yards, firing was begun by them, 
and answered with telling effect by the military 
forces. While Indians advancing from the 
front were checked by the fire from the Galla- 
gher rifles, both flanks advanced as if to hedge 
in and surround them. Over the hills from the 
west side of Horse creek poured dozens and 
hundreds of the shrieking demons, and an or- 
derly retreat was taken to the wagons which in 
the meantime had been drawn up in a circle, 
and hastily constructed rifle pits made. 

Here the Indians ceased and withdrew. Ob- 
serving that they were indisposed to press the 
attack while the soldiers were behind defenses, 
and wishing to keep them engaged and at hand 
until reinforcements came, the officer in charge 
took fifty of the best mounted men and sallied 
out. When out about three miles they saw a 



large force of Indians coming around the hills 
on the west side of Horse creek with the evi- 
dent intention of cutting them off. Again the 
military retired to the entrenchments. 

About nine o'clock, Captain Shuman arrived 
with forces from Fort Mitchell, and thus re- 
inforced another attack was made upon the 
Indians, but it was a little late. The squaws 
and papooses had by this time all succeeded in 
crossing the river, and the warriors were fol- 
lowing. The military could not follow, for it 
would be impracticable, and quite likely impos- 
sible to cross the river in the face of the su- 
perior number of Indians, at a time when the 
river was high. The loss was four killed, in- 
cluding Captain Fouts, and four wounded. 

A messenger had been sent to Fort Laramie, 
and Colonel Moonlight had also received ad- 
vice by telegraph from Fort Mitchell telling of 
the revolt of the Indians. He had started with 
a cavalry force numbering about 240 well 
mounted men, for the battleground. 

About ten miles east of the fort he met the 
messenger who advised him of the Indians ac- 
tion iri crossing the river. Owing to its swollen 
condition it was considered unsafe to cross at 
this point and, returning to Fort Laramie, they 
crossed and hastened rapidly down the north 
side. 

They pursued the Indians for two days and 
on the night of the second day camped near 
Dead Man's Gulch, which is now in the vicinity 
of Broadwater, it being the ravine where 
George Hacksby now lives (1919). At that 
time there was a bend in the river with steep 
banks on three sides and the camp was at the 
outer neck of the Horseshoe, with horses in the 
rich grass of the peninsula. Contrary to the 
advice of many of the old timers, Colonel 
Moonlight considered the horses safe without 
hobbles. 

During the night — at about ten o'clock — the 
Indians swam the river, and got upon the pen- 
insula. Indians to the number of 200 engaged 
the soldiers from the front, while others ran 
amid the thoroughly frightened horses, yelling, 
shooting, and swinging their blankets. 

The horses stampeded straight through the 
camp and out toward the battling Indians, who, 
for a moment, seemed to think the soldiers were 
charging, but discovering their mistake, they 
opened up and closed in behind the stampeding 
steeds and ran them off into the hills. 

After losing the horses there was nothing to 
do but to destroy the saddles and other heavy 
materials and walk back to Fort Laramie. The 
distance was 120 miles and the way was not 
pleasant, especially with cavalry boots, and it 
was this walk as the culminating event, that 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



71 



caused Colonel Moonlight to retire from mili- 
tary service. An investigation by General Con- 
nor found much to blame in Moonlight, but 
for the most part it was his stubbornness that 
caused what General Dodge succinctly de- 
scribed as follows : "His administration was a 
series of blunders." 

Colonel Moonlight did not wish to resign, 
but his mistakes were seized upon by the 
eternal meddlers who were far from danger, 
and knew little and cared less for the atrocities 
of Indians. In civil life and Wyoming history 
the Colonel lived, however. He was Governor 
of the state under Grover Cleveland's national 
administration. 

The battle of Horse creek is one of the many 
bloody encounters on the Platte, and this being 
a sequel of former events, I shall use the words 
of Colonel Moonlight in his report to the de- 
partment. 

"About the 18th (of May, 1865), instant 
some Indians were discovered on the north side 
of the Platte river, near the Indian village, en- 
camped ten miles east of Laramie. Mr. Elston, 
in charge of the Indian village, took a party of 
Indian soldiers and captured what was found 
to be Two Face, and having a white woman 
prisoner (Mrs. Eubanks) and her daughter, 
whom he purchased from the Cheyennes. Dur- 
ing the same evening and the next morning 
early the other Indians who were with Two 
Face, and who had fled on the approach of the 
Elston party, were also captured and lodged 
in the guard house here. Mrs. Eubanks gave 
information of the whereabout of Black Foot 
and the Indian village, and a party of soldiers 
started to bring them in dead or alive. 

"The village was found about one hundred 
miles northeast of here, on Snake Fork, and 
compelled to surrender without any fight. 
Black Foot and his companions were placed 
in the guard house with the others, making six 
men in confinement. Both of the chiefs open- 
ly boasted that they had killed white men, and 
that they would do it again if turned loose, so 
I concluded it best to tie them up, by the neck 
with a trace chain suspended from a beam of 
wood, and leave them there without any foot- 
hold." 

The point on "Snake Fork," referred to in 
the above report, is two or three miles south 
of the present site of Canton, in Sioux County, 
on "Snake Creek" as we now call it. 

Mrs. Eubanks, who was with Two Face, 
was in terrible condition. She had been cap- 
tured by the Cheyennes on the Little Blue, and 
after Black Foot and Two Face had purchased 
her the autumn before, she was compelled to 
such treatment that it was a wonder that she 



had survived. Her husband had been killed 
with several others. The woman had been 
compelled to do the work of an ordinary squaw, 
and had been dragged across the Platte river 
with a rope, and she told tales of awful har- 
barities. 

There was some concern about the execu- 
tion of these renegades, and several of the of- 
ficers and men around the fort feared a general 
massacre and so expressed themselves to 
Colonel Moonlight. But his answer was that 
if such an event was to take place, there would 
be two less very bad Indians to take part in it. 

Many of us remember in our young days of 
reading a book entitled, "Beyond the Missis- 
sippi." It was by A. D. Richardson, of the 
New York Tribune. It was in the spring of 
1865 that the author of this book and several 
other noteable people visited Fort Laramie, 
coming by way of "The Leavenworth and Fort 
Laramie Military Road," as the Overland Trail 
was then called. This line was along the south 
side of the Platte to the Fort Sedgwick Cross- 
ing (near Julesburg), thence via Wind Springs 
and the south side of the North Platte to the 
mouth of Horse Creek where it crossed to the 
north side and continued to a point opposite 
the fort. 

In this distinguished party was Schuyler Col- 
fax, then speaker of the house of representa- 
tives, and in the west, wherever he met a body 
of people, hunters, trappers, miners, or mili- 
tary forces, he would deliver to them a mes- 
sage from Abraham Lincoln, who, a few days 
before his death, had held a conference with 
Colfax, whom he had heard was about to take 
a journey into the west. The words of the 
martyred president seem prophetic in the light 
of years. "I have been thinking of a speech I 
want you to make for me. I have very large 
ideas of. the mineral wealth of our nation. I 
believe it is practically inexhaustible. It abounds 
all over the western country, from the Rocky 
Mountains to the Pacific, and its development 
has scarcely commenced. During the war, 
when we were adding a couple of million dol- 
lars to our national debt every day, I did not 
care about encouraging the increase in the vol- 
ume of the precious metals. We had the coun- 
try to save first. But now. that the rebellion is 
overthrown and we know pretty nearly the 
amount of our national debt, the more gold and 
silver we mine, makes the paymenl of that debl 
so much easier. Now, I am going to encourage 
that in every possible way. We shall have hun- 
dreds of thousands of disbanded soldiers, and 
many have feared their return home in such 
great numbers may paralyze industry by fur- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



nishing suddenly a greater supply of labor than 
there will be a demand for. I am going to 
try to attract them to the hidden wealth of the 
mountain ranges, where there is room for all. 
Tell the miners for me that I shall promote 
their interests to the utmost of my ability, be- 
cause their prosperity is the prosperity of the 
nation, and we shall prove in a very few years 
that we are the treasury of the world." 

It may not be amiss to state here that Lin- 
coln's idea, big as it was, was only a part of 
the greatness of the west. He did not know 
then as we do now, that the agricultural prod- 
ucts of the territory would at some future time 
prove of far greater value than her minerals. 
While millions have been torn from the ribs of 
the rock bound mountains, in the form of min- 
eral wealth, there is within the radius of five 
hundred miles of where I am sitting, vastly 
more millions taken from the soil in the form 
of farm products. 

The Dreamers of national greatness, the 
Dreamers of yellow gold, the Dreamers of re- 
ligious fervor, who streamed through western 
Nebraska, knew not of the untold wealth be- 
neath their feet. Most of them were ignorant 
of the magic of irrigation, or the tremendous 
fertility of the soil on which they daily tread. 

It is probable that the definite purpose of the 
people who passed up along the "broad flat 



water" impoverished many, that, had they 
paused here on their journey, would have been 
lords of the land. 

I remember one story told that probably has 
its prototype with slight variations by half a 
million or a million people. Robert Weller, a 
few years ago (1916) was living at Thermopo- 
lis, and his experience in 1847 seems incredible. 
He lived at Macomb, Illinois, and became im- 
bued with the spirit of Oregon. Having little 
means, he obtained a second hand light wagon 
and harness and a pair of dilapidated mules. 
With this outfit he began a journey of three 
thousand miles through an Indian infested and 
mountainous region. One of the mules had in 
its young days injured one front leg, and it 
lacked about three inches of being the length 
of the other. To overcome this, he invented 
a raised shoe — a shoe which made up the 
height necessary that the mule might walk on 
an even keel, so to speak. When near the state 
line of Nebraska and Wyoming, Mr. Weller's 
mule died. In 1900 while grading for the 
Burlington railroad, Hugh Johnson and Perry 
Hayes excavated the old raised shoe still at- 
tached to the hoof. 

This event testified to two things : one, that 
men would take almost incredible chances in 
those days ; and second, that this Oregon emi- 
grant trailed along the north side of the river. 



CHAPTR XVIII 
JULESBURG BURNED— MUD SPRINGS ATTACKED— BATTLE ON CEDAR CREEK 



Considerable trouble during the winter of 
1864-1865 seemed to break in from the south, 
particularly along the route frorq Cottonwood 
to Denver, and was believed to be largely the 
work of prompting of Arapahoes and Chey- 
ennes, but there were some Sioux mixed up in 
the affairs. It was determined to burn the 
prairie south of the "South River," and thus 
drive the Indians to the Arkansas for food for 
their horses, as well as for game. 

So, one night when there was a strong north 
wind blowing, tires were set out, and for two 
hundred miles a sheet of flame swept the coun- 
try from the South Platte river, for a long dis- 
tance to the southward. It was a magnificent 
pyrotechnic display, but as war strategy, it 
failed of the puqjose. It served to incense the 
Indians and bring about the crises. Instead of 



retiring southward, the Indians moved north- 
ward across the "South River," and directly 
into territory where they were the least de- 
sired. 

Spotted Tail was evidently south of the 
Platte at the time, and it is believed that his 
Indians gave out the information that there 
were great stores of supplies at Julesburg, and 
that a raid on that point if successful, would 
supply the Indians with rations for months. 

The great chief successfuly directed the at- 
tack and Julesburg was burned on February 
second. After taking such supplies as they 
could, the war party destroyed the balance, and 
crossed the river south of the mouth of the 
Lodgepole. They then went up the Lodgepole 
valley to the point near the present city of 
Chappell, "twenty-four miles from the mouth 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



73 



of the creek," and from there crossed to Mud 
Springs (now Simla) which they attacked on 
February 4th, driving off some horses and 
mules and a lot of Ed Creighton's work cattle. 
Creighton had the cattle on what was known as 
"Rankin's Fork." The Indians made a rich 
haul, there were twenty horses, a number of 
mules, and several hundred cattle. 

News of the attack was sent by wire to 
Fort Mitchell and Fort Laramie. Lieutenant 
Ellsworth, with re-inforcements from Fort 
Mitchell made a trip to the scene at a swift 
gallop, and the next day Colonel Caspar Col- 
lins arrived from Fort Laramie with one hun- 
dred and twenty-five men. The Indians re- 
turned the following day also, with the evident 
intention of taking and destroying the station, 
but were surprised to see the. increased num- 
bers of soldiers about it. They contented them- 
selves by cutting the telegraph wires. There 
were only about ten men at the station when it 
was first attacked. 

Around Fort Laramie, Young-Man-Afraid- 
of-His-Horse, had already started activities, 
and had opened 1865 with a bang. On Janu- 
ary seventh he attacked a stage arriving at 
Fort Laramie from the east, and escaped with 
the loss of only one man and one horse. 

The impudence of coming practically under 
the walls of the fort, caused decisive and 
prompt action on the part of the military. Cap- 
tain O'Brien, with thirty-seven intrepid and 
mounted men, rode out and charged a very 
superior number of Indians. There was a 
frightful carnage, and hand to hand encounters. 
The soldiers lost half their number, and made 
a fighting retreat. Fourteen of the thirty-seven 
were killed. Exultantly, and maddened by 
their victory, the Indians now attempted to 
take the fort, but were driven back by the 
artillery. 

There was an insufficient force defending 
Fort Laramie, so that an impression of num- 
bers was made by the women dressing in 
men's clothing and appearing upon the wall of 
the fort, and in the morning it was found that 
the Indians had retired. They had lost over 
seventy killed. 

On February second following, there was a 
sudden and successful attack upon the stage 
station below the fort (the ruins of which are 
near the present Burns school house) and the 
station was burned to the ground. Captain 
O'Brien and an escort were bringing the stage 
from the east, when they discovered the In- 
dians and the smoking ruins of the station. 

There were four men and one woman in 
the stage and five of the escort, and they had 
just overtaken two teamsters. The small caval- 



cade made a show of bravery, and moved 
steadily along. Captain O'Brien rode to an 
eminence, gave signals, which the Indians quite 
likely understood was for some invisible and 
stronger party. 

The redmen fled across the ice of the frozen 
river, and as soon as they thought that they 
could make it, the stage and wagon drivers 
and escort put the whip to their horses, and 
arrived safely within the walls of the fort. 

Colonel Moonlight declared martial law in 
all of the North River country, (as the In- 
dians had grown so bold) with the intention, 
no doubt, of augmenting his military forces 
with trappers and emigrants, and pressing in- 
to service such horses and equipment as they 
might have. 

The force at Fort Laramie had been in- 
creased by the time that Spotted Tail and his 
warriors from south of the Platte destroyed 
Julesburg and attacked Mud Springs. Follow- 
ing this attack, Colonel Collins determined that 
it was time to strike a decisive blow at the 
savages. They were flushed with victory, and 
well fed with the cattle they had killed, and 
the provisions stolen from Fort Sedgwick. 
They were apparently well satisfied for the 
time to revel in their plunder. They were in 
such numbers, being several thousand, that it 
would be impossible for them to subsist except 
for such raids. This large band was made up 
of several tribes, but for the most part, were 
Sioux, Arapahoes and Ogallalas. Great quan- 
tities of supplies were being forwarded with 
the intention of feeding the friendly Indians, 
and some of these were seized by the hostiles. 

Colonel Collins sent out scouts, who returned 
with the information that the Indians were 
feasting on "Rush Creek" a distance of about 
ten miles east, and he immediately prepared to 
attack them. 

Old maps show no less than three "Rush 
Creeks" flowing into the Platte within a dis- 
tance of about forty miles, and this particular 
"Rush Creek" is now (1919) called Cedar 
Creek. At that time it was the one generally 
referred to as Rush Creek, while the present 
Rush Creek that discharges into the Platte 
some thirty-five or forty miles farther east, was 
then called "Rankin's Fork." 

On proceeding to Cedar Creek it was found 
that the Indians had crossed the river. In 
pushing forward they discovered a large war 
party on the opposite bank, and were prepar- 
ing to cross when they discovered that the 
Indians were crossing to the south side, with 
the apparent purpose of engaging the military. 
A position was taken and rifle pits dug, the 
howitzer that had been brought from Fort 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Laramie was placed in position to be of ser- 
vice. 

While outnumbered thirty to one, the sold- 
iers behaved with splendid courage, and the 
experienced sharp shooters of the plains, took 
advanced stations and opened deadly fire upon 
the boldly approaching Indians. Finding that 
to approach in the open meant almost certain 
death, the usual Indian tactics of advancing 
under the cover of hillocks and ridges was re- 
sorted to. But in this manner only a few 
could come forward at a time, and as fast as 
they showed a tufted knot of feathers above 
the plain, they were picked off with accurate 
precision by expert riflemen. 

A dozen braves had congregated behind a 
particular eminence some four or five hundred 
yards from the improvised fort, and at a point 
of advantage for dropping bullets into the 
camp. Sixteen men under Lieutenant Patton 
mounted and made a quick and ferocious 
charge. The Indians were utterly annihilated. 
Some two hundred others started after the 
daring little band of soldiers, which fought its 
way back with a loss of two men. The In- 
dians then gave up the attack for the day. The 
following morning they renewed the fight, but 
not with the same heart as the day before, and 
soon gave it up and retired into the hills on 
the north side of the- river. The whole caval- 
cade of the savage hordes, containing about 
1,000 lodges, went towards the Powder river. 

Collins then distributed his soldiers along 
the route to protect it from further molestation, 
the larger detachments being at Camp Mitchell 
and Fort Laramie. 

This successful battle against an overwhelm^ 
ing foe, which was well armed and with plenty 
of horses, seems almost as miraculous as the 
famous battle on the big Piney in 1867, in 
which twenty-two plainsmen armed with 
Henry rifles, behind a barricade of iron arm- 
ored wagon boxes, whipped Red Cloud and 
three thousand braves to a standstill, killing 
or disabling over 1,100 Indians with their "bad 
medicine guns." 

One of the disheartening things about Indian 
fighting was the lack of knowledge displayed 
by those in charge higher up. For instance, 
long after hostilities were commenced and the 
Indians were congregating to resist establish- 
ment of posts along the Bozeman road in the 
Powder river country. General Dodge wired to 
General Mitchell, who was about to leave 
i imaha fur Fort Laramie, to keep him posted 
as he progressed up the Platte. In his tele- 
gram was the query, "Where is Powder river? 

The "Rush Creek" battle ground is three or 
four miles south of the river, at the forks, 



where a spring branch comes in from the west. 

The improvised fort was on the nose of land 
between the two branches of what is now 
"Cedar Creek." 

An Indian telling of the battle of Cedar 
Creek, says they crossed the river at its mouth, 
and camped at the foot of a bluff about five 
miles north of the river, "on a small stream, the 
name of which I do not remember." The story 
also is that Creighton's herders were at Mud 
Springs when the attack occurred, which was 
fortunate for them. After the battle, the hos- 
tiles moved to Bear Butte in the Black Hills, 
and early in March, the bands separated, Spot- 
ted Tail and his Brules moving east of the 
Hills, while the Arapahoes and Cheyennes, 
joined the Northern Cheyennes under Red 
Cloud, on Powder river. 

In April, Spotted Tail, Little Thunder, and 
sixty lodges of Brules, came in to Fort Laramie 
and voluntarily surrendered, and according to 
Hyde, he should have been with the Indians 
that were being taken to Julesburg, and 
Kearney, at the time of the outbreak on Horse 
Creek. I do not find any part that he took in 
the battle, and perhaps he was opposed to the 
action, as many Indians were. Hyde also says 
the Indians at first concealed their women and 
children in a willow thicket back of their lodges. 
I have been unable to locate the thicket. After 
the last charge, says Hyde: "The soldiers gath- 
ered up the mutilated bodies of Fouts and his 
men, and pulled out for Camp Shuman" (Fort 
Mitchell). 

After over fifty years, George L. Wilcox, no 
relation, that I can find, of the captain, was 
employed by the government to disinter the 
bodies and remove them to the government 
cemetery at Cottonwood. He quite easily lo- 
cated the grave of Captain Fouts and a soldier 
at Fort Mitchell, and after an extended search 
he found the two other soldiers, who had been 
buried on the battlefield. Later,- two other 
soldiers were disinterred at Fort Mitchell. All 
now rest at the beautiful cemetery a few miles 
east of the city of North Platte. 

The date of the battle of Horse Creek as 
here given has been disputed by Erastus Wil- 
son, Bugler Company B, 7th Iowa Cavalary, 
(now 1919), at the Soldier's Home at Grand 
Island, who was in the battle; he stating that 
it took place upon the 11th day of July, but I 
have it from John Hunton, and from the gov- 
ernment records, and at least it is officially giv- 
en as occurring on the 13th day of June, 1865. 
Wilson stoutly adheres to his date, and he de- 
clares the three soldiers were buried upon the 
battleground, their names being Phillip Alder, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



75 



Dick Crozier and McMann, although only two 
were found there. 

General Conner, in the Spring of 1865, 
moved his headquarters from Denver to Fort 
Sedgwick, which was built not far from the 
site of the burned Julesburg, for from this 
point he could better direct operations. 

Mooney says that Red Cloud was "the most 
famous and powerful chief in the history of 
the tribe, and rose to distinction by his own 
force of character." "He was not a hereditary 
chief, but a member of the band of which the 
chieftainship lay with the family of Young- 
Man-Afraid, the latter more conservative and 
friendly to civilization." 

Red Cloud's chief lieutenants in the Powder 
River campaign were "Young-Man" and 
"Crazy Horse." The feat of keeping the In- 
dians together for the two years 1866-1868, 
provisioning them, and a determined united 
front to the government stamps him as a re- 
markable organizer, and with great power. The 
government finally gave up the attempt to open 
the Bozeman Road, and this must have added 
greatly to the prestige of Red Cloud. 

Crazy-Horse was not an hereditary chief, 
and never addressed in person any council, but 
always spoke through his uncle, Little Hawk. 

"Which leads me to inquire," says D. W. 



Butler, "the nature of the system that prevailed 
among the Sioux and Cheyennes as to the 
authority and position of the acknowledged 
chiefs, and the war chiefs or leaders like Red 
Cloud and Crazy Horse and Roman Nose. One 
might imagine there would be much conflict 
of authority. But evidently not." 

Crazy Horse was not much known until 
after 1865, when he had a brother killed by the 
whites near Fort Laramie, after which he went 
on the war path with vengeance. 

I am not sure as to the exact date of the lo- 
cation of Red Cloud's Agency on the Platte, 
but it occurred about 1870. It was on the 
north side of the river near the Nebraska-Wy- 
oming line. By the year 1875, the new Red 
Cloud Agency was established on White river, 
west of Fort Robinson. The agency on the 
Platte was not abandoned until two or three 
years later, although it may have been offi- 
cially thrown into the discard. 

Sheldon has a photo of the ruins of a sod 
house on the site of the Platte River Red Cloud 
Agency, that is believed to be what was left 
of one of the original structures of the early 
seventies. The photo was taken 1918, and 
from the best information from the oldest in- 
habitant, it is all that remains of one of the 
first buildings erected. 



CHAPTER XIX 



COAD'S BATTLE ON LAWRENCE FORK — "SHORTER" COUNTY ORGANIZED 
TANK FIGHTING ON THE PLATTE — BUFFALO BILL KILLS TALL BULL 



Affairs like the Harney battle on Blue 
Water, or worse still, that of Col. J. M. Chiv- 
ington, at Fort Lyons, on the South Platte, 
drove the peace loving Indians into the more 
desperate of the savages. The latter was an 
unprovoked attack upon a large village of 
inoffensive Indians. Over the lodge of the 
chief there floated the stars and stripes, yet an 
hysterical, or a deliberately brutal, commander 
brought about wholesale murder, with the re- 
sult that many hundreds of lives were lost in 
the years of hostilities that followed. 

Following the disturbances of 1865, the 
early part of 1866 was ushered in by an at- 
tack upon Julesburg (Fort Sedgwick). About 
one thousand Indians participated in the at- 
tack, and the place was defended by Captain 
O'Brien and thirty-seven men, with two moun- 



tain howitzers. The Indians lost sixty or sev- 
enty men, while Captain O'Brien lost fourteen. 
But after one day of hot fighting the Indians 
gave it up and moved on to the North River 
country. 

In 1865 J. F. Coad took the contract to fur- 
nish the garrisons at Julesburg and Laramie 
with wood. He was furnished an escort from 
Julesburg to the "wood reserve" on "Lorron's 
"fork, and there erected a small log house, called 
by him the "ranch." The day following its 
completion, he and three others were at work 
loading some wood about three miles from the 
"ranch." The thermometer was about twenty- 
five degrees below zero. His party was at- 
tacked by Indians, which rode clown into the 
valley between them and the cabin. They fled 
into the rocks, and the Indians pursued as far 



76 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



as they could with their horses, then dis- 
mounted and came on foot. 

Soon the men found that they must discard 
their heavy clothing, and in the chase they be- 
came separated. One man found a crevasse 
underneath a rock and crawled into it, obliter- 
ating his tracks by covering them with dirt and 
sand. The Indians went directly past the 
mouth of his hiding place, then came back and 
took counsel in front of it. Then they returned 
to their horses and rode away. Coad and the 
other two found a hiding place, and after the 
Indians had gone built a small fire to keep from 
freezing, and remained hidden until nightfall. 

When the men returned to the "ranch" in 
the night, they found that the men there had 
been attacked, and stood the Indians off for 
four hours. The savages then drove away their 
horses and mules and some of their cattle, but 
the latter could not travel sufficiently rapid to 
suit them. The next day it was decided to 
return to Julesburg, and ask that the govern- 
ment furnish guards to protect them from fu- 
ture similar experience. They took the oxen 
and went to the tableland in the direction of 
the old Water Holes, but were caught in a 
frightful blizzard. It raged all night and the 
thermometer was thirty below zero. A man of 
experience has written, a western storm will 
sometimes seem to abate, to lure one away 
from fire and shelter, just to catch him in the 
open with full force. A messenger had been 
sent on ahead, to tell the soldiers to come out 
and meet them, but the storm made it doubtful 
if he would reach Julesburg. In consequence, 
the next morning, Coad told the others to re- 
turn to the "ranch" and he would try to go on 
to the fort alone. About ten miles north of the 
present site of Sidney, he came upon a de- 
tachment that had already been sent out. They 
said that the day before, they had had an en- 
gagement with some Indians near there, and 
had taken from them a number of horses, 
which proved to be Goad's, and the Indians 
had fled in the storm towards the south. A 
few days later thirty-six men arrived at a 
"ranch" on the Lodgepole, about twenty-five 
miles west of Julesburg, and thirty of them 
were pretty badly frozen. 

Nearly all the cattle drifted into the fort in 
the next week or so, and the fact of their 
weathering this severe storm, and seemed little 
the worse for it, brought to the mind of Mr. 
Coad the idea that the prairie grasses must be 
very nutritious and sustaining, even though 
browned by the autumn suns and beaten by 
the wintry winds; and from that thought in 
his mind and the minds of Creighton, and of 
others, were born the big ranches of the Pan- 



handle, and followed the years "when cattle- 
men were kings." 

The "ranch" on the Lodgepole where these 
storm-beaten fugitives found shelter, was one 
of the early structures used for housing and 
protection along the line of the Union Pacific, 
then being projected up the Platte and Lodge- 
pole. 

In November, 1866, the construction of the 
railroad was completed as far west as North 
Platte, and on the 31st day of January, 1867, 
the plat of the original town was filed. A mili- 
tary post was established, and soldiers were 
garrisoned there. "Shorter" county, the ante- 
cedent of Lincoln county, had tried to organize 
five or six years earlier, but the only officer 
who had qualified was Charles McDonald, 
judge, who did so in order to perform marriage 
ceremonies. The county seat had been desig- 
nated as Cottonwood Springs, but the county 
was re-organized as Lincoln County, and the 
county seat moved to North Platte, by a total 
of twenty-one votes cast, on October 8, 1867. 
The officers were B. I. Hinman, representative ; 
W. M. Hinman, County Judge; Charles Mc- 
Donald, County Clerk ; O. O. Austin, Sheriff ; 
Hugh Morgan, Treasurer; and A. J. Miller, 
Commissioner. Charles McDonald resided at 
North Platte until 1919 and was in the bank- 
ing business, until his death. 

In the Indian troubles that followed, the few 
settlers in that vicinity used to gather at North 
Platte, and take refuge in the railroad round 
house. On one occasion, the Indians captured 
a freight train and after killing the crew, they 
pillaged the cars, and found some bolts of cal- 
ico. With this they made merry, tying one end 
of a bolt to a pony's tail, one would ride out 
across the prairie with a hundred yards of 
brilliant calico streamers trailing in the wind. 

At another time "Dutch Frank" saw the In- 
dians on the track ahead of him, and feeling 
sure that it meant death to stop, he opened the 
throttle, plowing through them throwing them 
into the air and killing many. He arrived safely 
into town. This, we believe was the origin of 
"tank fighting." 

The Union Pacific, during the year 1867, 
built on through Sidney and Cheyenne, and 
Mr. Tracy, who later became another of the 
cattle kings, was at Pine Bluffs, took a contract 
for getting out wood and ties for the railroad. 
At this point he received his inspiration for 
ranching, and was long known in that business 
by the early settlers. 

The Fifth United States Cavalry under Gen- 
eral Carr arrived in the spring of 1S69, and 
eight companies were left at North Platte and 
McPherson, while four were sent to Sidney and 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



four to Cheyenne. Their orders were to "clear 
the country of Indians from the Union Pacific 
to the Kansas Line." 

It was at this time that Tall Bull, one of 
the most bestial and brutal, although brave In- 
dians, obtained the title of the "scourge of Kan- 
sas," because of his numerous raids, culminat- 
ing in the massacre of the "German Settle- 
ment," and taking away two of the young wo- 
men. General Carr had at hand the strategy, 
of maneuvering of the best known of all the 
old scouts on the pursuit of this band, none 
other than Colonel W. F. Cody. The final bat- 
tle occurred "at the springs in the sand hills," a 
few miles south of the old Valley station on the 
South Platte. Here it was that Buffalo Bill 



killed Tall Bull, by shooting him from his 
horse. One of the young women captives was 
killed by the Indians, while the battle was on, 
and two braves were about to tomahawk the 
other, when the unerring markmanship of the 
old plainsman ended their career. Tall Bull's 
band was headed for the Niobrara and White 
river country, where they could brag about 
their achievements to other Indians, but it was 
utterly destroyed at this battle. 

The fifteen years war following the killing 
of the Mormon cow was drawing to a close. 
Spotted Tail had been taken to Washington, 
and Red Cloud was losing prestige, for the 
peaceful Indians were being fed regularly by 
the whites. 



CHAPTER XX 

INDIAN AGENCIES ADJUSTED — SITTING BULL'S DETERMINATION — BAT- 
TLE OF WAR BONNET CREEK 



Then for a few years, the work of estab- 
lishing agencies and locating the Indians in 
places where each might better work out his 
destiny, without the interference or trouble 
making of another tribe was the duty of the 
war department. Early in the seventies the old 
Red Cloud agency was built at the Wyoming 
state line, on the Platte river and in a few 
years the new agency was established on White 
river. Spotted Trail was located on the Da- 
kota state line about north of Rushville. 

In 1874, Chauncey Wiltse at the head of 
twenty-five men, was sent out to survey the 
state line between Nebraska and Dakota. If 
there is anything that made an Indian un- 
easy it is a surveying party. Either they did 
not understand the mystery of the instrument 
and they thought there was something uncanny 
about it, or they knew that the surveying in- 
strument presaged the coming of settlement, 
and the end of the wilderness. One surveying 
party, on the Republican, entirely disappeared. 
None of the equipment nor any trace of them 
was ever found. 

Nothwithstanding Spotted Tail's avowed 
friendship for the whites, and his expressed 
opinion of the uselessness of struggling against 
the white race, when Wiltse's surveying party 
reached the vicinity of White Earth Creek, 
one hundred and sixty-two miles west of 
Keya Paha river, a number of Indian scouts 



armed with Winchester rifles came to meet 
them, and for a pow-wow. They said that 
Spotted Tail did not want the line run. 

Wiltse told them that he cared not for what 
the Indian tribes wanted, he used stronger 
language than that, for the great father had 
told him to run it, and run it he would. And 
run it he did. 

The trail, or road, from Ft. Laramie to 
Spotted Tail's agency, came farther down the 
river than that to the Red Cloud agency. The 
eastmost of the Red Cloud roads ran through 
the vicinity of Agate, while that to Spotted 
Tail crossed near Spotted Tail Springs, Wind 
Springs, and over the Box Butte table. It will 
be observed that the relays between watering 
places, from starting point to destination, are 
the shortest distance possible, and yet it is al- 
most a direct route. 

The establishing of Fort Robinson, in 1876, 
was practically contemporaneous with the ad- 
justment of the Indians in their different 
agencies. It was nearer to Red Cloud because 
the Red Cloud Indians needed watching more 
than those under Spotted Tail. In 1876, Red 
Cloud was deposed by the whites, and he no 
longer ruled as chief. The "great red cloud" — 
his warriors wore red blankets, and moved as 
a cloud — ceased to be a menace of the prairie, 
and his descendants now live pursuing the arts 
of peace. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



The trails leading from Fort Robinson to 
the Union Pacific made a veritable network at 
the time, and all converged in the vicinity of 
Fort Robinson, following one principal high- 
way north to Deadwood. 

From Cheyenne the mail road ran almost 
straight to Laramie, and was a stiff bad road, 
hard on oxen feet and lined with "poison 
weed." It ran via Chugwater creek. The 
part north of the Platte cut across the country 
west of the Raw Hide and finally dropped into 
that valley. The soil on this part of the road 
was too light for heavy freighting, and in 
places quite sandy, but it was used to some 
extent. 

The Freighter's road ran direct from Chey- 
enne to Old Red Cloud on the Platte through 
the Goshen Holes. If having business at Lar- 
amie they would go up the river to Laramie 
ferry or bridge, then by the mail route to 
White river. 

Freighters frequently forded the Platte at 
Old Red Cloud, and then struck down the 
Platte a number of miles, to avoid the sand 
ridges that lay directly north of the agency. 
From the old agency to the new, there seems 
to have been several roads, and they were all 
called the Freighter's road. There was a canoe 
at Old Red Cloud, which was used in crossing 
when the water was high. 

The Sidney road was all right for horses and 
mules but was not much in use by 'bull 
teams" for there were two places along the 
route, where the distance between water holes 
caused suffering and death among the cattle. 
This road was satisfactory during part of the 
season, but in the hot dry summer months, two 
of the watering places dried up. 

The Sioux Trail from White river to the 
Republican ran parallel with this route, and it 
was used as late as 1876 by Brules and Ogal- 
lalas. Fort Robinson and the New Red Cloud 
agency on White river was where all the trails 
merged into one. 

The fall of Red Cloud, and the discovery of 
gold in the Black Hills brought forth another 
leader of the war division of the Sioux. Sitting 
Bull came into the public eye ; and the depreda- 
tions, and lawlessness of his bands grew more 
pronounced as the whites poured into the Black 
Hills after gold. 

Sitting Bull obtained his name, by shooting a 
buffalo bull, that fell and was attempting to 
arise, when the daring young Indian leaped 
from his mustang's back, squarely upon the 
back of the buffalo. It struggled to rise, but 
settled back upon its haunches. 

The new leader was determined that he 
would drive the white man out of the Black 



Hills, and was doing effective work along the 
line of his endeavor, when General Crook de- 
cided to put an end to it. Reno and Custer 
were chasing the wise old redskin over the 
wilds of Wyoming, and Custer, who was in 
advance, fell into an ambuscade, and his entire 
force was destroyed. I have walked over the 
battle ground and observed the location of the 
graves, as shown by the little white stones, for 
each was buried where he fell, and it tells the 
story of a struggle better than all else. All who 
are making a trip into the northwest, should, if 
possible, stop over one day at Crow agency, 
Montana, just over the Wyoming line, and 
spend that day at the battle ground, and in the 
woods on the Powder, where Sitting Bull pre- 
tended to be unprepared although keenly upon 
the alert. 

Reno was some distance away, but within 
sound of the battle, and has been criticised for 
not making an attempt to rescue Custer. One 
of the graves of a fallen soldier, was about two 
miles in the direction of Reno's camp, he evi- 
dently having broken through the red line of 
battle, and made a great run for life. 

At the Red Cloud agency there were five 
thousand or more Indians, for the most part 
friendly ; but about eight hundred of them, fired 
by the news of Sitting Bull's achievements, left 
the agency to join him in the work of driving 
the whites cut of the hills. 

General Sheridan ordered General Merritt, 
with four hundred men of the Fifth Cavalry, 
to proceed post-haste to re-enforce General 
Crook on Big Goose creek. He heard of the 
movement of the Indians at the agency, and 
disobeyed the order of his superior, to inter- 
cept them. Events justified his disobedience, 
as it often did in the kaleidoscope changes in 
fighting Indians. Colonel Cody, who at that 
time was in the midst of a Wildwest exhibition, 
at the Centennial Fair, abruptly closed his show 
at tremendous loss, and volunteered his serv- 
ices. He was made chief of scouts with Gen- 
eral Merritt. To intercept the movements of 
the Indians the cavalry moved as directed by 
Buffalo Bill, seventy-five miles in twenty-four 
hours, and placed themselves directly in the 
path of the Indians. 

The advanced portion of the Indians was 
surprised, and drew up in battle line, to await 
these that were coming from the rear. The 
cavalry also were prepared. At this dramatic 
moment, Yellow Hand, issued his famous chal- 
lenge to "Long Hair" (Buffalo Bill), and with- 
out waiting for orders from his superior, 
Colonel Cody rode out to meet him. 

Little Bat, the interpreter, conveyed to Gen- 
eral Merritt, the nature of the challenge, and 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



all eyes on both sides were centered on the duel. 
It was with such sudden rush and denouement, 
that it was over and the battle of War Bonnet 
Creek was on before it was hardly time to 
realize it. 

Buffalo Bill and Yellow Hand spurred their 
horses straight for one another at full speed, 
and when near to each other, a bullet from 
Cody's rifle struck the Indian's horse squarely 
in the forehead. It fell with a forward mo- 
mentum, and the horse Cody was riding fell 
over it. Yellow Hand and the veteran of the 
plains were both afoot, and went at each other 
without a moment's delay, one with his toma- 
hawk, and the other with his knife. With his 
left hand Cody caught the blow of the toma- 
hawk, and plunged the knife into the heart of 
the Indian. Falling upon him as he went down, 
Buffalo Bill lifted his war bonnet, and seized 
his scalp-lock. 

The Indians waited no longer, but plunged 
forward to avenge the death of their chief. 
Cody shook in the faces his bloody scalp, and 
shouted : "the first scalp for Custer." With 
war bonnets streaming, and brilliantly painted 
they were almost upon him, when the veteran 



Fifth Cavalry in action, swept by. with their 
carbines cracking. The nerve of the Chey- 
ennes broke and they fled. Time after time, 
they tried to recover, and make a stand ; but 
before there was any organization, the soldiers 
were again upon them, and finally they broke 
and ran, pell mell for the agency. 

There was some apprehension that when 
they got among the five thousand friendlies 
they would excite them to violence. It was 
determined to make a show of courage, and 
the troops, in solid formation, ready for any 
emergency, rode straight through the agency, 
to Fort Robinson. 

That ended the insurrection at the agency, 
and Sitting Bull, whom Custer was trying to 
prevent from going north, when the massacre 
occurred, got away after wiping out that por- 
tion of the advance. He was pursued, but 
reached the Canadian line in safety. 

War Bonnet creek is a branch of Hat creek, 
coming in from the east. The point of con- 
vergence is in, or near the twenty-two thous- 
and acre ranch of Colonel Charles Coffee, in 
northern Sioux County. 



CHAPTER XXI 



SAND HILLS STATION ROBBERY — BIG BEAR, OR CRAZY WOMAN — THE 
SOD CABIN — PRIVATIONS OF EARLY YEARS 



Hugo Koch, was one of the old freighters 
of the late fifties and early sixties. He is still 
living at Lander, Wyoming, and is an intimate 
friend of Charles Andrews of Scottsbluff, who 
had charge of the feeding business at the 
Scottsbluff Sugar Factory for many years. I 
have a letter from Koch in which he speaks 
of his connection with the Sand Hills station, 
which is located a few miles over the line in 
Wyoming, and he says : "eighteen miles west 
of Scottsbluff." This would indicate Robi- 
deaux Gap, far eighteen miles west of Mitchell 
Gap would not reach the state line. 

It was shortly after the Grattan Massacre 
that Spotted Tail and a band of Sioux are 
credited with attacking this station as a stage 
from Salt Lake City was enroute east. They 
killed all the employes and the driver, and car- 
ried off twenty thousand dollars in gold, in 
twenty dollar gold pieces, belonging to the Liv- 



ingston Kinkaides Company of Salt Lake City. 
General Harney made a demand for the per- 
petrators of the deed, and Spotted Tail and the 
party made their spectacular entry into Fort 
Laramie singing their death songs. 

Another point of interest is just over the 
Wyoming line, near the northwest corner of 
Sioux county. It is one of the many branches 
of the Cheyenne river, not much more than a 
creek or canyon, occasionally widening to 
small hay valleys. In the early days it bore 
the Indian name "Big Beard." the same obtain- 
ing from the character of the grass that grew 
along the bank of the stream. But for the last 
generation it has held the name of "Crazy 
Woman," because of incidents and adventures 
I have heretofore written in a crude story of 
verse under the title of "The Sod Cabin." 

The beginning of the adventure was in Lake 
Canyon, about thirty or forty miles south of 



80 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



North Platte. Here a family of easterners, 
from the Buckeye state, had settled down and 
left for a time their happy, yet unhappy, sur- 
roundings for the primitive life and restfulness 
of the semi-mountain home. 

But their persecutor, "Scar Face Ben," had 
followed and in the disguise of an Indian with 
a party of Indians, the home was invaded, and 
an attempt made to kidnap a young lady. Her 
mother, who had seen an Indian raise his toma- 
hawk as she thought, to strike her daughter, 
had interposed, the blow fell upon her head 
and left a long ugly cut, with the temporary 
loss of consciousness. 

This unexpected denouement, for there had 
been no intention of murder, for a moment dis- 
concerted the outlaw, and in the moment the 
father and the girl escaped, but were separated 
in the night. The story tells of their wandering 
up through the valley of the N ortn Platte, and 
to the Horse creek caves. Then on through the 
Rocky Gap, where their persecutor chased 
the "Prairie Rose," as the heroine was called, 
until she fell over a cliff and made a footprint 
in the soft clay, that "after hardened into 
stone and left distinct the footprint there." 

During the building of the Cheyenne and 
Northern. I was working in one of the camps, 
near the head of Chugwater, and one Sunday 
two of us boys scaled some very difficult rocks 
in the Rocky Gap, and we found the footprint 
which is part of the foundation of the story. 
The track was that of about number four 
size woman's or child's bare foot, and it was 
impressed fully an inch in what had become 
soft rock, during the lapse of years. 

The girl's sweetheart was temporarily away 
from the lodge on the Medicine, and when he 
returned he found the cabin in ruins, and all 
had departed, including the woman. Of 
course he knew nothing of their fate, nor that 
the woman had been hit by a tomahawk, and 
had wandered away "a crazy woman." 

Some instinct sent him on into the west, 
and there is quite a long story of it, and of 
how he witnessed from a distance the Custer 
Massacre. 

The mad mother in the course of her wan- 
derings came to the valley of the Big Beard, 
and here she lived for a year or more, sub- 
sisting on roots and berries and bark. Mere 
the father found her. and while she several 
times rushed away and hid at his approach as 
she did when strangers appeared, he at last 
caught her, and her reason returned. 

The woman's living in this section changed 
ili< name of Big Beard to Crazy Woman. 

As is the way with stories, this ended well, 
and the daughter was found, and then the 



sweetheart, and also came the knowledge that 
their persecutor was dead. They then lived 
for a time in a huge sod cabin, some distance 
west of the Big Horn range in Wyoming, but 
later left their happy mountain domicile for the 
old home in Ohio. 

"Sometimes when Lillie musing sits, 
A dreamy mist before her flits, 
And to her waking memories come 
Fair visions of a mountain home. 
And all her gilded marble halls 
Become transformed to sodded walls, 
Her frescoed ceilings fade away 
To rough hewn poles and boughs and hay. 

"The mists they break before her eyes, 
'Twas but a dream of Paradise. 

"Since then the mountain fires swept o'er 
And burned the ivy round the door. 
The rotting door frame stands alone, 
Save idly swinging door, with moan, 
Its hinges coated o'er with rust. 
The walls have crumbled into dust." 

There are not a great many of the old guard 
of pioneers surviving, but those that are still 
with us in their travels over western Nebraska, 
occasionally see the ruins of a sod cabin, and 
to each there come a sadness, for each sees 
therein the home shrine of a once hopeful 
family that came into the west. 

We all had the same ambitions, and all did 
our level best to make those humble places of 
abode, real homes. We had no wild or ex- 
travagant ideas or desires, but we wanted that 
farm for ours and our children. A few, like 
the dwellers in the cabin west of the Big 
Horns, went back to better things (perhaps) in 
the east. The most of us that have survived 
are still here, where our lives are woven into 
the woof and warp of the fabric of western 
Nebraska. 

Together, we suffered the hardships of the 
lean years, and we hustled out for grub-stakes, 
singly or in pairs, leaving wives and families 
in the old soddies, dugouts, and log houses, 
looking after home affairs while we went after 
the few scattered dollars that we could pick 
up at work wherever we could find it. Up 
on the Cheyenne & Northern I met Harry 
Watson, John Frazier, and others from the 
Box Butt'e table. In the South Platte Vailey 
there were Theo. Harshman, Theo. Deutsch, 
William P. Young, Antoine and Wenzel 
Hiersche, and I know not how many others, 
picking spuds, herding sheep, or working at 
railroad construction. The Cheyenne & North- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



81 



era and the Sterling & Cheyenne branches of 
the Burlington drew heavily from the granges 
of western Nebraska for the help needed to 
build them. Young and Hiersche brought in 
from Colorado the few sheep that was the 
nucleus of their later large herds. 

Irrigation in the North Platte valley was in 
its infancy. A few of the smaller ditches were 
in operation, and others had been crudely sur- 
veyed. There was plenty of man power, and 
there were harness broken bronchos for horse 
power, but there was no equipment, and no 
money with which to buy it. Men would take 
their payment in stocks and bonds, but these 
had no fixed value. They were hocked about, 
and traded and exchanged for provisions at 
low figures, or swapped for anything else of 
value. I furnished some tile for culverts and 
outlets for the Gering canal, and had to take 
my pay in bonds, at about two-thirds par. 
The bonds were sometimes as low as fifty cents 
on the dollar, in exchanges. 

When the spud pickers were over on the 
South Platte and the Cache le Poudre, they no- 
ticed occasionally abandoned "slushers," or 
road scrapers, of the wooden back and Mor- 
mon tongued variety, lying by the road side, 
and inquiry failed to locate the owners. 

On returning to the North Platte valley, 
they hooked up their grass-fed broncs, and re- 
turned to the location of the find. We are 
told that they again sought for but could not 
find the owners, and as they had apparently 
been abandoned for a long time, no doubt for 
better equipment, the old ones were loaded in 
the wagons and brought into western Nebraska. 
It is yet an open question if they sought very 
diligently for the owners, and also what they 
would have done had they not found them for 
they had no money to buy the scrapers. Be 
that as it may, these scrapers were used to 
good service in the North Platte irrigation 
building. 

Lars Olson, of Banner county, and James 
Nighswonger were among the spud pickers 



that went to Greeley, and there were many 
others. 

Over on the Chadron plains and Box Butte 
table, the hardships seemed fully as acute. Of- 
ten I wonder what mental processes worked 
out those years, and how those who stayed, 
survived, and how they managed to keep the 
wolf from the door. 

A few miles east of Chadron there lived a 
German and his family. One day he was ob- 
served sitting in a disconsolate mood on the 
sidewalk, and a passing acquaintance stopped 
and asked his what was the matter. He said 
that there was no flour in the house, no food, 
that the children cried because they were so 
hungry, that he had brought a load of wood 
to town to try to trade for something. No 
one wanted to trade; the merchants needed 
money and not fire wood, and no one else 
would buy it. He only wanted a few dollars, 
and he could not borrow at the banks, or get 
credit at the stores. "I think I get a gun, 
and end it all," he said. "But that will not stop 
the hunger cries of the children," said his phil- 
osophic friend. "Yes, but I cannot stand it 
to hear them, and that will end my hearing 
them, and maybe someone can feed them," was 
the answer. 

"Listen," said the friend, "you take that 
wood up to my house and unload it. You go 
home and buck up, and do your best to take 
care of that wife, and your children," and he 
handed him three silver dollars. The German 
took courage, and weathered the gale, some- 
how, and lived and prospered in the land. 

But the friend, what of him? Those three 
dollars were the last three dollars that he had 
in the world. What was he to do ? He man- 
aged it some way, just as many another man- 
aged it, and to this day, they can look back 
and say : "I do not see how it was done, or 
where it came from, or what kept the wolf 
away. Elijah was fed by the ravens, and I 
guess the ravens must have looked after us." 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XXII 



REVOLT OF DULL KNIFE — WINTER FIGHTING IN THE PINE RIDGE — END 
OF INDIAN WARS — SIGN LANGUAGE 



After the departure of Sitting Bull for the 
Canadas, it was decided to separate the disturb- 
ing element of the Indians and to remove those 
who most strenuously objected to the advance- 
ment of settlement in western Nebraska, to 
places remote. In consequence the Northern 
Cheyennes were taken to Indian Territory. 

Dull Knife, Little Wolf, Wild Hog, and oth- 
er chiefs with a large part of the tribe refused 
to be satisfied with the new location, and insist- 
ed on being returned to the north. They were 
accustomed to the cool climate and the pure 
water, and the feeling of dissatisfaction was in- 
tensified by an epidemic of malaria, which be- 
came so prevalent that two thousand were 
prostrated at one time. The supply of medicine 
was exhausted and it was necessary to dis- 
continue its use. 

On the night of September 9, 1878, eighty- 
nine men and two hundred and forty-six 
women and children, vanished in the darkness, 
leaving their tepees standing to deceive the sol- 
diers. As soon as the departure was discov- 
ered, hundred of troops from a half dozen 
posts, were detailed to overtake or intercept 
them. Guards were placed along the Kansas 
Pacific and the Union Pacific railroads to pre- 
vent their crossing and engines with steam up 
and ready to go, were held in waiting to be in- 
stantly away, when the wires would flash the 
news that they had been discovered. 

In spite of all this, the desperate little band 
of fugitives swept across Oklahoma and Kan- 
sas, killing more than forty settlers, and burn- 
ing houses, and committing other outrages. Re- 
mounting on two hundred and fifty freshly 
captured horses, they crossed the Kansas Pa- 
cific between the patrols, and a few hours 
ahead of the pursuing party. On October 
tenth, after they had reached the Sand Hills of 
Nebraska, the troops temporarily abandoned 
the chase. 

In their flight of five hundred miles, they had, 
besides the damage inflicted on the settlements, 
fought three engagements, each time with more 
than twice their number, and with a total loss 
of only fifteen Indians killed. 

From prisoners taken later, it was learned 
that they were trying to reach their kinsmen 
in Montana, where they intended to surrender 
if they would he allowed to remain in the 
north. < Itherwise they were intending to push 
on, and join Sitting Bull in Canada. 



In the meantime, their kinsmen were on their 
way south in charge of the noted scout '"Ben" 
Clark, and he, with rare tact, diplomacy and 
courage, avoided the track of the raiders, and 
kept his own people in ignorance of what was 
going on, until he had them safely landed at 
Fort Reno, Oklahoma. 

Clark, at the age of sixteen years, had ac- 
companied General Albert Sidney Johnston 
to Salt Lake City, to impress the Mormons into 
a state of mind acknowledging that the domin- 
ion of the United States meant Utah, as well 
as other states. He was at Ash Hollow in the 
summer of 1857, when the Cheyennes attacked 
the wagon train and killed three of the party. 
This was Clark's first experience with Indians, 
but he later became a scout of great renown. 

When Dull Knife's band reached the sand 
hills of Nebraska, they scattered into small 
bands, and the pursuit of any single band re- 
sulted in that band breaking into fragments, 
and if a capture was effected, it was only a 
single Indian. The soldiers, weary of the long 
chase, and the baffling tactics of the Indians, 
went to Fort Robinson ; and after a brief re- 
spite, together with re-enforcements of sol- 
diers, and friendly Sioux, the pursuit was re- 
sumed 

On October 23d, one hundred and forty-nine, 
which included Dull Knife's fragment of the 
band, together with Wild Hog, were captured 
by Captain Johnson. The remainder of the 
fugitives, under Little Wolf, escaped in a 
snow storm. These captured were taken, still 
protesting to Fort Robinson, and were confined 
in an empty barrack room. They declared that 
they would die, rather than be taken back to 
Indian Territory. 

Red Cloud requested of the army officers 
that the knives be taken away from the Indians, 
for in event that the government should order 
that they be taken again south, they would, 
rather than yield to the order, take their own 
lives. This request was ignored by the mili- 
tary. In. the time that elapsed in getting orders 
from Washington there was apparently some 
laxity in vigilence, and the Indians had gotten 
possession of about fifteen guns and some pis- 
tols. 

On the 3d day of January. 1879, the order 
came to return them to Indian Territory, and 
the next day Wild Hog gave an unequivocal 
negative to the proposition, saying that the fol- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



83 



lowing would prefer to die. There were forty- 
nine men, fifty-one women, and forty-eight 
children prisoners at the time, and it was un- 
dertaken to starve and freeze them into sub- 
mission. Water was denied them three days, 
and fuel and food five days, but it was ineffec- 
ual. Dull Knife was wary, and Wild Hog. af- 
ter being induced to come out, was put in 
irons, after stabbing a soldier. 

At this, the others barricaded the doors, and 
covered the windows to conceal their move- 
ments. They then tore up the floors and con- 
structed rifle pits in the enclosure, to command 
all the windows. About ten o'clock at night, 
on the night of January 9th, they killed two 
sentinels, took their guns and made good their 
escape. As they fled over the snow in the val- 
ley of Soldier creek, the alarm was given and 
hundreds of shots were exchanged with not 
many casualties, after which a tense quietness 
settled on the Pine Ridge hills. 

There was a ranchman, named Bronson, who 
had located about five miles south of the fort, 
the first actual settler in the present limits of 
Dawes county, and he and his man heard the 
noise of battle. Knowing the danger if the 
Indians had broken out, and especially if they 
should happen to make their break to the 
southward. Bronson and man mounted their 
horses and rode toward the fort, keeping a 
sharp lookout. As they topped the Pine Ridges 
south of the valley, they could see it laying 
white with snow under the full moon, and not 
a sign of life. The fort was absolutely dark, 
save for one feeble needle of light. In the si- 
lence, they moved forward, and came upon 
tracks in the snow, indicating, the route taken 
by the fugitives. There was a dark spot upon 
the snow, that as they approached proved to be 
Buffalo Hump, a relative of Dull Knife, and he 
was near unto death. So near, that his only 
movement thereafter was a futile attempt to 
kill Bronson, which effort took his last ounce 
of vitality, and he fell back in the snow, dead. 

There were a number of engagements in the 
Pine Ridges the following several days, and of 
the one hundred and forty-nine that escaped, 
there were killed a total of thirty-two, and sev- 
enty-one were re-captured. Of the forty-six 
still at large, nineteen were warriors. After 
several skirmishes and escapes these were in- 
tercepted January 22, by Captain Wessells, and 
twenty-three were killed and nine re-captured. 
The other fourteen joined Little Wolf's band, 
and on March 25th, Lieutenant Clark captured 
Little Wolf on the Box Elder, and with him, 
thirty-three warriors and eighty-one women 
and children. 

Officially Dull Knife was reported killed in 



some of the skirmishes in the Pine Ridges, or 
bad lands, although all information, except the 
official records, is to the effect that he lived 
for many years after. Bronson says that Dull 
Knife was with the Ogallalas, and that his 
later years were full of moroseness, and he 
was a sour and surly old Indian. 

Of the three hundred and thirty-five that left 
Indian Territory, seventy-two were the total 
number killed. Two hundred and six were re- 
captured, and sixty finally made good their es- 
cape. They won their fight, however, for in- 
stead of sending them south, the others were 
brought north from the territory. The tribe 
was given a reservation in Montana, to which 
many of them were taken, but a large number 
remained with the Sioux, and some of them 
still live on the Pine Ridge reservation. 

That was practically the end of Indian fight- 
ing in western Nebraska. It is true that about 
1890, there was a scare that went over the 
homestead territory, and the Medicine man, 
Sitting Bull, the incorrigible, worked a few 
of the tribe into a frenzy. "Ghost Dancing" 
was initiated, and some of the younger In- 
dians had a slight reversion to the blood lust 
of early years. Sitting Bull was killed, and 
the Battle of Wounded Knee, nearly north of 
Rushville. was only a small affair compared 
with early Indian fights, and that was the last 
flare of the dying fire. 

W. P. Clark, captain of the Second Cavalry, 
followed the work of Major North in training 
Indians for scouting and police work. North 
had a number of Pawnees at Summit Springs 
when Tall Bull's band was annihilated ; and as 
they were preparing to go into battle, they dis- 
carded Uncle Sam's uniforms, and wore only 
breachclouts. They painted the bodies thick 
with vermillion, red and black. That was their 
idea of how to dress for a fight. 

In 1876, when gold was discovered in the 
Black Hills, it made a big rush, and with con- 
sequent irritation to the Indians. Captain 
Clark was established at Red Cloud Agency on 
White River with three hundred Indian scouts 
— • Pawnee, Shoshone, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, 
Crow and Sioux. There were six tribes having 
six different vocal languages, yet thev managed 
to converse fluently and with ease. It was by 
the common sign language, and under such 
conditions it could not otherwise than impress 
one with its value and beauty. 

On the march, by the camp fires, at early 
dawn, or just before the battle, one could see 
the signs, the recognition, and the perfect un- 
derstanding. The sign language extended to 
the Assinoboines, Gros Ventres of the Prairie. 



84 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the Bannocks, the Mandans and the Arikaries. 
It was the universal language of the race. 

So impressed was General Sheridan with 
its importance that he detailed Captain Clark 
to prepare and submit to him a work on the 
silent language. This was not completed until 
1881 ; too late to be of value in the wars, but 
of great interest and merit. Old Indian fight- 
ers and frontiersmen had, however, absorbed 
much of it in the earlier years, and it was of 
much use to them from time to time. 

Its value lay in not only being able to com- 
municate and receive impressions, but it check- 
ed unreliable interpreters. Sometimes, after a 
crooked interpreter would convey one impres- 
sion, a silent sign from a friendly would tell 
the observer the truth. 



Indians can sit for hours with only an oc- 
casional grunt, yet their hands are unweaving a 
tale, or they are exchanging opinions. There 
was a child among the Sioux, that was dumb, 
but she could talk fluently with her hands. 
Even the Zodiac was crudely exemplified in 
the silent language of the Indians. The Trail 
to the Happy Hunting Grounds was indicated 
by "the sign of the milky way," for the starry 
pathway across the sky was believed by the 
Indians to be the "Long, long trail." Arapa- 
hoes who fainted, and came to, said they had 
been along the Milky Way, and had seen the 
tepees and game. 



CHAPTER XXIII 
THE WINDING STORY— SAGES TALE OF ORGIES — THE NEW DAWN 



"The story winds as winds the river," and 
memory and history goes back along the Red 
Cloud Trail, when it did not bear the distinc- 
tion of the common translation of the name, 
"Marpiya Luta." It was used, however, by 
the trapper and the trader, and the country of 
North Sioux county, then unorganized, was 
alive with dangers similar to those that marked 
the close of Indian wars. The benevolent as- 
similation of all that the Indian possessed was 
in progress. The red man was drugged with 
the sweetened fire-water, and fought and rob- 
bed and murdered to get more. 

When the Indian fought the emigrants and 
stages and pony express along the Great White 
Medicine Road, they were fighting for their 
own as they viewed it. The signal fires that 
burned at night on the hills the length of the 
North Platte Valley, the signal smokes that 
curled upward from the hills by day, the fire- 
arrows that marked lurid streaks across the 
dark skies of the terrible wilderness, the silence 
of the night, the sudden pandemonium- of 
sound, the whirlwind of activity, leaving death 
in its wake, the disappearing shadows, and 
then again the silence. That was the part of 
the Indian life that homeseekers, goldseekers, 
and early patriots of the west found. 

But brutal commercialism found another 
side. Life, morality, soul, all the finer In- 



stincts of man, were subordinated and sub- 
merged in the one great purpose of greed. The 
stories of Sage in Rock Mountain Travels, in- 
clude events in the history of the Panhandle 
of Nebraska. Sage went out over the route 
later designated as the Red Cloud Trail, with 
a party of the traders, and his is a harrowing 
recital of the drama of life on the Running 
Water and White River in 1845. 

"Soon after arrival at White River, a man 
was sent to a nearby Indian village, with a 
keg of diluted rum for the purpose of trade. 
The Indians wanted it "as a gift on the 
prairie," which the trader refused. A fight 
ensued, and the trader and two protecting sol- 
diers were beaten off, the former after having 
been dragged through the lodge fire three or 
four times, narrowly escaped with his life. 

"The Indians then attacked and took the 
trading post of the American Fur Company, 
and robbed it of both liquor and goods." 

About the same time two traders from an- 
other fur company appeared and one had liq- 
uor and the other goods to trade. The Indians 
were treated, and as usual, commenced to fight. 
In the end they attacked the other trader. He 
was compelled to flee, and through the friend- 
ly assistance of squaws, he managed to escape 
with his life. His goods were taken, and one 
of the Indians who had defended him, was 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



85 



murdered, while several others suffered 
wounds. 

Not long after, Choteau's man was shot at 
three or four times, and one of his guards 
wounded. Another, while serving liquor was 
stabbed, and but for timely assistance would 
have been murdered. And still another was 
compelled to stand over a hot fire, nearly 
roasting alive, while Indians helped themselves 
to his stock. Two warriors entered a trader's 
post for a blanket. They were intoxicated 
and one of them was in the act of stabbing an 
unsuspecting clerk, when Sage caught his 
wrist. This trader was later, when sur- 
rounded by all his men. shot at and narrowly 
escaped death. And then, one night a party 
of Indians tried to burn his store, but the logs 
were too green to burn. 

Sage was a partisan of the American Fur 
Company, and sought to enlist the interest of 
an old chief, by giving him a "soldier suit" 
to wear. Bull Eagle, another chief, was in- 
toxicated and laughed at him. Inflamed he 
rushed to Sage's quarters, intending to kill 
"Yellow Hair," as Sage was called. He was 
tall, well made, and wild-eyed. Bull Eagle, 
in sudden anger appeared, and made a thrust 
at him with his knife, but the old chief caught 
the blade and nearly severed two of his fingers. 
His wife then interfered, but twenty of the 
partisans fought it out, while the white people 
stood around observing neutrality. Two were 
killed and others hurt. Two hours later the 
chief re-appeared and apologized and he and 
Sage became famous friends. 

Sage also tells of a grand jollification at 
Fort Laramie, that "rivalled Bedlam and the 
Council Chamber beyond the Styx. Yelling, 
screeching, firing, shouting, fighting, swearing 
and such interesting performances were kept 
up without intermission, and there was no re- 
pose." Liquor sold for four dollars a pint. 
Men and women ran from lodge to lodge with 
vessels containing liquor. Susa-ceicha fell 
from his horse, while riding between Fort 
Platte and Fort John, and broke his neck. 
Low Bow, his son. preached a sermon, calling 
on "Wakan-tunga" the Great Spirit for help. 
All the Indians" cried like children, and the 
whites helped prepare a burial scaffold. 

After all the chaos of early years, we won- 
der that there is anything left of the red men ; 
but time and another generation accomplish 
marvelous changes. There was a change in 
the few years that followed the visit of Sage. 
It was effervescing at that time. 

When he and his friends built their cabin 
by the curiously shaped rocks on White river, 
then called "the Devil's Teapot," they encoun- 



tered a nest of thirty-six torpid rattlesnakes. 
They heated water and scalded them to death 
in the presence of several Indians. This un- 
usual proceeding struck the Indians with ap- 
prehension, as they had a sort of reverence for 
the serpent. For Standing Bear, the chief, it 
was the slaying of the dragons. It broke the 
chains of a mentality, theretofore bound down 
by custom and precedent. 

Sometime later, an Indian stole Sage's bed, 
and while he was looking for it, the noble red 
man was trading it for liquor. Standing Bear 
apprehended the culprit, took his bows and 
arrows. He broke and shot away the arrows 
and broke and burned the bows, and then he 
sent the victim, dubbed a squaw, t> his tent, 
bellowing like a calf. 

In the soul of Standing Bear, the "new 
day" was breaking. And the highly intelli- 
gent Indian, the farmer and the cattle raiser 
of the Pine Ridge, may some day know that 
the destruction of the serpents in White river, 
started the new thought, which, when the fires 
of the fourteen years of war burned out, left 
his race a new people, and his tribe with new 
ideals, and a destiny in common with the prog- 
ress of the years. 

There was another Indian born in the years 
too soon. That little brown maiden who in 
the early years dabbled her feet in the cool 
waters of Spotted Tail springs, and played in 
the nearby sands ; who looked up roguishly at 
the first white men. and who wiggled her 
shapely toes under the edge of her brightly 
colored calico gown, when white folks stop- 
ped to look at her. 

Ah-ho-ap-pa (White Flower), the daughter 
of the chief Spotted Tail, in her first vision 
of budding womanhood, wanted to marry a 
particular white man, and finding this was im- 
possible she was content to be nearby. Then 
she wanted her people to settle down, and live 
in houses like white people. She did not 
want them to be at war with the white race, 
and through all the years of the last great con- 
flagration she suffered, and plead for the cause 
of peace. 

To cure her infatuation for an officer at 
Fort Laramie, Spotted Tail took her over to 
the far Powder river. Here she pined away 
and died, the doctors said of tuberculosis, but 
the soul of White Flower has never died. "The 
dawn" for the new Indian race was breaking. 
and had she lived, she could have seen her 
daughters graduating at Carlisle, and teaching 
the younger Indians on (he Pine Ridge hills. 
But how "could she know what the generations 
would bring forth? She who stood almost 
alone in the vears of awful strife. Could her 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



fancy paint the daughters of her tribe, in mod- 
ish garments of silk and hig-heeled shoes, as 
now we see them occasionally walking in the 
thoroughfares of Alliance, Chadron, Crawford, 
Gordon and Rushville? 

She had asked to be buried at Fort Laramie, 
where she would always be near the white 
people, whom she idolized, and they swung her 
body between two ponies, and carried it thus 
two hundred miles to the river. They wrapped 
her body in beautifully dressed deer skins, and 
out north of the present ruin that was once the 
post hospital, they erected a scaffold, for her 
burying place. The soldiers helped to erect 
the scaffold, they went out to meet the burial 



pageant, and over her resting place they fired 
the burial salute. . Her favorite white horse 
was killed and its head and tail fastened to the 
scaffold, that she might ride to the Happy 
Hunting Grounds. 

Not only in the Mists of the Hereafter does 
White Flower live. The new Indian girls see 
the embodiment of her far-off vision in the 
present progress of her people. While In- 
dian boys of the second and third generations 
after the intellectual liberation of Standing 
Bear, accept the standard of our civilization, 
and join in the universal sentiment of 'Am- 
erica, advance." 



PART III 



WHEN CATTLE MEN WERE KINGS 



CHAPTER I 



WHEN CATTLE MEN WERE KINGS 



The passing of the Indian menace in west- 
ern Nebraska, brought into prominence its 
capacity as a range. True, before that, it had 
been brought to the attention of freighters, and 
"the builders" who had their herds of oxen, 
commonly called "bull herds," in the land about 
us. 

From every source available we have thought 
to make this part of the story of the develop- 
ment of the high plains, complete, there being 
no authentic record. Only fragmentary inci- 
dents here and there, that have fiction and in- 
accuracy as a basis or for filling, it gives but 
little idea of the magnitude of the business. 
Naturally from the broken stories — the ma- 
terial at hand — this part will be broken and 
rambling, like the life of the nomadic cow- 
boys — here today and there tomorrow. 

Some writers have said, that sometimes, 
these plains and these times will furnish the 
basis for a novel that will sweep popular fic- 
tion like a prairie fire. A few have under- 
taken to fulfill the prophecy. 

Mrs. E. Joy Johnson, in "The Foreman of 
J-A-Six" has brought out some of the proper 
coloring, and has taken for her characters 
real persons. Very naturally, those whom she 
admired occupied the prominent place in her 
story and the novelist idea creeps in, regard- 
less of the best efforts to keep it out. 

William R. Lighten in his "Billy Fortune" 
series, has delineated the character of many 
of the range people correctly, although his 
stories were not pretended to be history. There 
are others who have attempted to portray the 
cowboy character, which have brought out the 
grosser of exaggerated types. 

I find particular objection to the stories that 
picture the man of the range, on a dance floor 
with his "chaps" on, or wearing a hat or spurs 



or gun. When such are given, it shows the 
ignorance of the writer. He never saw a cow- 
boy dance, but has been at some low joint call- 
ed a "dance hall" where "four-flushers" and 
tinhorn gamblers congregate ; a place that 
would not exist if the cowboys were the only 
patrons. 

The history, the incidents here related, come 
to me from years of association with old set- 




\r "Signal Buttes" 



tiers, cowmen particularly and from the most 
authentic sources available. They will come 
as near to a chronicle of the facts as will prob- 
ably ever be written, for I have made consider- 
able effort that it be true to the epoch that 
followed the Indian wars. 

Among those who have contributed by let- 
ter, story, word or book, to that which I in- 
clude, are William A. Paxton, John A. Creigh- 
ton, John A. McShane, Tohn Bratt, Major 
Walker, W. F. Cody. A. B. Hall. I I. Mc- 
intosh, Colin Hunter, Colonel Pratt. Mark M. 
Coad, Bartlett Richards. W. I. Kelly, Henry 
T. Clarke, S. J. Robb. John 'Wright'. Charles 
H. McDonald, and a score of others now that 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



have taken the "long, long trail," to Other 
Ranges. 

And from those living, (1919), Frank and 
Jess Yoder, H. V. Redington, R. U. Vantassel, 
John Adams, Charles F. Coffee, John Hunton, 
Granville Tinnen, Joe Wilde, Eugene A. Hall, 
Perry Braziel, Robert Graham, Charles Nel- 
son, Runey C. Campbell, Robert Harvey, 
Colonel Joe Atkins, L. J. Wyman, Morrill Wy- 



We drove our car to his very door, and as 
the rain had begun to fall it was suggested that 
we drive it upon his porch, which is a prodig- 
ious affair. It extends three hundred and 
fifty feet in length and sixteen feet wide along 
the length of his "residence," and the bal- 
cony floor forms the roof of the lower porch 
and is itself covered, and extends the full 
length and breadth of the lower porch. 




'Branding Calves" 



man. Ark (Henry county) Hughes, W. F. 
Connoly, Tom Snow, Dan McUlvane, Tom 
Powers, W. L. Wallace, Charlie Foster, Cap- 
tain Cook, S. P. DeLatour, J. W. Harper, A. 
S. Neuman, W. F. Gumaer, Billy King, Harry 
Hynds, John Evans, Tom Hughes, and doz- 
ens of other of the old guard have come the 
stories of the time when the Panhandle of Ne- 
braska was one vast pasture where roamed the 
long horns, and where wild horses and the 
bronchos ran free in the western wind. 

In the new mode of travel, the motor car, 
I have gone many miles to find the man or the 
setting. 

Some time ago we (Mrs. Shumway and I) 
were at Fort Laramie to see John Hunton and 
Joe Wilde, who were the early settlers. First 
we called on Wilde. 



We were hospitably entertained by Mr. and 
Mrs. Wilde, who for over forty years lived at 
Fort Laramie, and this, their dwelling, is a 
purchase from the United States, it being for- 
merly the soldiers' quarters. Wilde had it 
worked over a little and has about half of the 
lower story for his dwelling and office and 
for feeding the travellers and others who may 
be journeying thence and onward. In the up- 
per story about fifty rooms have been fitted out 
for the accommodation of the public, and the 
other half of the upper story is one immense 
hall with oak floors used by the people of the 
country wide as a meeting and dance hall. It 
is one hundred and seventy-five feet long and 
twenty-four in width. 

Around about this building the barren sever- 
ity of soldier's quarters has been changed into 




fs Resting and Playing Mumblebeg. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



89 



a wilderness of green, and a bower of trees, all 
planted by the busy hands of Mr. and Mrs. 
Wilde, since the departure of the soldiers, and 
in the foreground stood the host, his irrigation 
shovel in his hand, and his wife, whose sturdy 
German intelligence complemented that of her 
husband in the building of this part of the 
west. 

Back of the home, upon a hill, there stood 
a ruin of apparently medieval architecture. 
Once it was the hospital, where soldier and civ- 
ilian went, or were taken, in the days when 
roughing it meant occasionally broken limbs 
and bullet wounds. It was not uncommon in 
those early days of rough men for quick retort 
and challenge and resort to arms. And many a 
man was buried in the cemetery with "boots 
on" to lie in unmarked graves. 

To the west and south of an oblong square 
formerly used for parade grounds, stands what 
is left of the officers quarters, which were ex- 
cellent, well-built domiciles, and in the midst 
of them is "Bedlam." This interesting struc- 
ture obtained its name from the scenes en- 
acted therein by the rough soldiery of early 
years. 

Two doors north of "Bedlam" now (1919) 
lives John Hunton, whose word is accepted as 
final in things pertaining to early history. 
From him I obtained some interesting facts 
concerning the beginning of the cow business 
in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming. 

In the early sixties a freighter lost some of 
his oxen, and he did not find them until the fol- 
lowing spring. In some miraculous manner 
• they had escaped the Indians, and their ex- 
cellent condition awoke in the mind of many 
the same thought, that cattle could be wintered 
without care, and that the grasses must be 
very nutritious. Then and thereafter the 
freighters decided to take a chance. The larg- 
er outfits, the Creightons, the Coads, and a few 
others, established "ranches" or a headquart- 
ers for a few caretakers, who were to look af- 
ter the "bull herds," during the winter months. 

Bull canyon, in western Banner county, is 



one of these wintering places. Another point 
was on Cedar creek and Smith's lurk, near 
Mud Springs. In Carter canyon is the ruins 
of another of the old camps, and there were 
many others. The hazards were considerable, 
but if they escaped the Indian raids, they 
came through the winter in fine shape. 




R. Proust, Sr. 



As much of the work at that time was gov- 
ernment freighting, the government eventually 
made good the losses occasioned by the Indians. 

Old Bordeaux, who in 1847, looked after 
the business of the American Fur Company at 
Fort Laramie, had accumulated a few old cows, 
maybe a dozen or so, by 1866, and they were 
kept about eight miles down the river at Bor- 
deaux place. Nick Genice had a similar 
bunch on Deer creek about four miles south 
of the fort. 



90 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER II 



STAGE STATION RANCHES — NAMING FORT MITCHELL 
ON THE NORTH PLATTE RIVER 



FIRST RANCHES 



Jules Beni, of early fame, once had a 
"ranch," on the south side of the South Platte 
about a mile from the mouth of the Lodgepole 
creek, and as early as sixty-four this ranch, 
which was nothing but a trading post, where 
occasionally a lame ox was left to recuperate, 
had (like other similar places) been abandoned. 

Jock Morrow had such a place near North 
Platte, and there were a number of trader sta- 
tions called ranches, where the foot worn oxen 
were left, and those that had rested were taken 
by travellers at a good increase of price over 
the amounts paid for them. 

Ben Holliday, the big man of the Overland 
Stage, appropriated the site of "Jules Ranch," 
and had built extensive barns. He called it 
"Julesburg Station." It was several miles up 
the river and on the other side, from the pres- 
ent town of Julesburg. As was common, he 
had the place fortified. He, Holliday, obtain- 
ed his wood supply from Jack Morrow's can- 
yon. 

Ware tells us that there were two crossings 
of the Platte at Old Julesburg, one almost op- 
posite the station and curving up the stream to 
a point about a half mile above the entrance, 
and the other several miles farther west. Af- 
ter crossing the Platte, these two routes con- 
tinued up the Lodgepole on opposite sides for 
a number of miles. The lower was called the 
"California crossing," and the upper the 
"Mormon crossing." 

In the autumn of 1864, sod structures were 
built one mile west of "old Julesburg" and in 
the spring of 1865, Fort Sedgwick came into 
being, a military post of the United States hav- 
ing been established there. 

General Mitchell, for whom Fort Mitchell 
came to be named, Camp Shuman being chang- 
ed to that name, was in charge of the western 
military forces at the time, and the prairies 
were unusually good for pasturage. The In- 
dians took advantage of the fact and did not 
go to the south as usual in the winter. Con- 
sequently, General Mitchell determined to drive 
them south so that they would cease their mur- 
dering and depredations along the Overland 
and Denver trails. On the evening of January 
27, 1865, he set out prairie fires, simultaneous- 
ly all the way from Fort Kearney to Denver. 
There was a brisk north wind blowing, and it 
"sure" was one sight to see the sheet of flame 
three hundred miles long, sweeping over the 



table lands to the south, leaving blackness and 
desolation in its wake. 

The effect of this was to drive the Indians 
north of the Platte, and the Indians from the 
south were soon joining them, and making life 
a hazard of great interest to the people of 
this section. 

Early in February, they drove off some of 
Creightoirs fat work cattle from the head of 
Rush creek, and feasted upon them. 

J. F. Coad had the contract for hauling wood 
for Fort Sedgwick from the wood reserve on 
Lawrence fork, and had difficulty with them 
also. 

These adventures with the oldest of our cat- 
tlemen are related elsewhere, but it had the 
effect of the establishment of the very first of 
all the permanent ranches in this part of the 
west ; namely, the Creighton ranch on the 
Laramie Plains. 

One of the oldest of the ranches to actually 
engage in raising cattle as a business is the 
Tracy ranch at Pine Bluffs. Mr. Tracy came 
to the country as early as 1867, and he cut cord- 
wood in the Pine Bluff hills which he sold to 
the Union Pacific. This railroad was just then 
penetrating into the western part of Nebraska 
and they used, handled and sold large quan- 
tities of wood. Tracy had one pile of a hun- 
dred cords or more, cut in the winter of 
1867, or the spring of 1868, waiting for the* 
acceptance of the company. In this the gov- 
ernment had an interest, and it was cut from 
government land. The Indians came upon it 
one day, and burned it completely. The gov- 
ernment court of claims paid the loss in full 
to Mr. Tracy. 

Tracy graduated from wood cutting into 
ranching in the late sixties, and put in a small 
herd of cows and heifers, and from that de- 
veloped into reasonably large proportions. He 
was not so important as to size, however, as 
were the Texas herds that began to arrive 
about that time, or the bonanza cattle outfits 
that later took over his ranch with the others. 

During his life at Pine Bluffs he had many 
interesting experiences and Indian troubles, 
and it was one of his "herdsman" referred to 
by Captain Charles King in his story of 
"Trumpeter Fred'." 

John Hunton is authority for the statement 
that the first real cow business in the vicinity 
of Fort Laramie was when Benjamin Buckley 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



91 



Mills ( Buck Mills), a Kentuckian, brought two 
hundred and fifty short horn cows from 
southern Iowa and northern Missouri in Oc- 
tober, 186S. These he located on the Laramie 
river about three miles up that stream from 
the position occupied by the old fort. This 
initiation stirred others to activity. 

Colonel Bullock, who had been a post trad- 
er at the fort was early to see and follow tht 
lead of Mr. Mills. He went to eastern Kansas 
and western Missouri, and accumulated two 
hundred and fifty good shorthorn grades in 
cows, and drove them through, arriving at 
Fort Laramie late in the Spring of 1869. He 
picked out for his ranch location, Bordeaux 
place, about ten miles down the Platte river 
from Fort Laramie, and purchased the embryo 
herd that Bordeaux already had upon the 
ground. 

John Hunton is a veteran of Fort Laramie, 
the Dean is perhaps the right word, for he 
is a man of wide knowledge and information. 
In 1867, he came to the fort and went to work 
for the Post-trader Seth E. Ward. Ward was 
succeeded by G. H. and J. Collins, who retain- 
ed Hunton for several years. 

J, F. Coad, the government wood contract- 
or" up to 1872, yielded to Hunton, the contract 
for Fort Laramie, which Hunton held for ten 
years. 

Hunton began to see something in ranch- 
ing when the larger herds commenced to ar- 
rive, and he located a ranch about four miles 
up the river, and began to accumulate cattle. 
This he continued during the period he was 
supplying wood for the fort. His ranch is a 
short distance above the fort, being about two 
miles up the Laramie from the crossing of 
the new government canal. 

The contract for wood supply was very 
profitable. Dan McUlvane with five outfits 
was employed by Hunton to assist. He re- 
ceived five dollars per cord and could haul 
twenty cords per day, making twenty dollars 
per day for each man and wagon. Dan told 



me a short time ago, even at the price, he 
failed to lay up very much, until he went into 
the cow 1 business, and the cows and increase 
grew into money. 

In the year 1871, Dan McUlvane, now 
(1919) living in Cheyenne, and until recently 
interested in the big "Hereford Ranch," at 
that place, went to western Missouri and east- 
ern Kansas and secured about two hundred 
and fifty young shorthorn cows, which he 
drove through and established his ranch, on 
the Chugwater, about twenty miles southwest 
of Fort Laramie. He crossed the Kaw river 
on pontoon bridges and drove his herd through 
the streets of Topeka, when it was but a vil- 
lage. 

These were among the first of the ranchers 
west of the junction of the Platte rivers. This 
magnificent cow country which lies west of the 
forks of the Platte, and east of Fort Laramie, 
soon was filled with great herds. The first 
herds were gathered about the places protected 
by forts, no doubt for that very reason. 

Phil and Jim Dater, who helped to blaze the 
Texas trail brought their cattle up from the 
south in 1872, and established the 66 brand on 
the north side of Sixty-six mountain. This 
brand, and the location of the Sixty-six ranch, 
has given rise to many mistakes in early tra- 
dition. Some have said that the brand indi- 
cated the year of the starting of the business 
there, and others tell us that the brand is what 
named the mountain. John Hunton would 
not be sure about that, but he thought the 
mountain was unnamed pior to the locating 
of the 66 brand. However, a number of old 
timers, namely: D. McUlvane, Colin Hunter, 
H. M. Ingraham, and others have said that 
the mountain was named before the Daters 
appeared in this country. The thrilling events 
that led to the naming of mountain forms an- 
other chapter in the history of the west. It 
was one of the strangest mysteries, and un- 
written events in all the chronology of western 
Nebraska. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER IV 



THE CATTLE OF SIXTY-SIX .MOUNTAIN 



The death of M. Goshe in his cabin on 
Cherry creek, of Jacques Laramie on the Lara- 
mie river, of Gonneville on Pumpkin creek, of 
Hiram Scott on Scotts Bluff (mountain), of 
Ruleau in the Wild Cat range, of Creel in his 
famous Bull canyon, are tragedies that mark- 
ed the territory around about Sixty-six moun- 
tain, as one of danger and death, long before 
the mountain was named. A spot upon the 
map of the world when conflict and homicide 
seemed inevitable and frequent. It was shun- 
ned by the trappers of old, except the most 
ventursome, and such as dared its reputation, 
almost invariably perished in the wilderness. 

The fame of the mountain does not extend 
far across the wide reaches of western prairie, 
except along the Texas trail, where from the 
Panhandle of the Lone Star state to Assinna- 
boine, the cow-punchers knew of the Daters 
and the famous Sixty-six brand. 

Only a few have heard of the battle of 
Sixty-six mountain, and most of the early 
ranchmen assume that the cattle brand brought 
into use the name. Phil and Jim Dater, how- 
ever, who came up the trail in 1872, and es- 
tablished the ranch, adopted the brand because 
the mountain already bore the name. There is 
as much confusion of opinions as to the origin 
of the name, as there is mystery connected with 
the events that are here related. 

Several years befor Ed. Stemler came into 
the west, Eugene Ware made the discovery of 
an abandoned wagon train, near Trapper's 
rock, a score or more of miles up the Lodge- 
pole, west from old Fort Sedgwick. Yet, it 
remained for Ed. Stemler to clear up the mys- 
tery of the wagon train, and to provide the 
only story of the battle of Sixty-six mountain, 
and which also gives an index to the naming of 
the mountain. The mystery of it is that Ed. 
connected up with these people, and that he 
lived and experienced events that transpired 
many years before he had come into the west. 
About the silence of the wagons, and about 
the solitude of Sixty-Six mountain, there is 
wrapped one of the great tragedies of the west ; 
and one person only can tell that story in all 
its graphic details. It forms one of the most 
interesting unwritten chapters of adventure, 
and frightful consequence, that has ever paint- 
ed red spots on the frontier. 

The story begins on the banks of the Ohio, 
where lived an orphan boy, a little fellow whose 
father and mother were gone. He ran about 



and played, and made boon companions of 
trees and flowers, of dogs and cats, of bees 
and butterfles. Children who have not the 
things that other children have, things that 
are necessary to childlife, will conjure them 
from the elements at hand : — "make believe 
people," identities created from the animate 
and inanimate creatures about them. 

The woods, the brook, the river bank with 
its myriad life, became his friends. But, one 
day they missed him from the familiar haunts, 
and for many days thereafter. The lady slip- 
per, that rare wild flower, grew unplucked be- 
side the trails that he had made. The people 
interested in him, his relatives, had many 
children of their own ; he was as a fifth wheel 
to a wagon, and they thought that he might 
make a place for himself in the west. So, at 
the age of fifteen or sixteen years, they sent 
him out to the far wilderness of Cheyenne, 
"to find work upon a ranch." 

By way of Denver, he reached Cheyenne in 
the middle of a dark and stormy night. He 
had no money, and his sole possession aside 
from the clothes he wore, was an old horse 
pistol which his uncle had given him, and 
who said at the time that he "might need it 
to fight Indians." 

He crawled underneath the wooden platform 
that then served at the Union Pacific depot, 
and indulged in fitful slunlber until dawn. 
Then he sought for a pawn shop, that he might 
get rid of his antiquated gun to furnish money 
for food. He also sought at the restaurants, 
and offered to leave the gun as security for 
his breakfast. One of the old night women of 
Cheyenne, straggling along in the grey dawn 
of morning, saw him, and bought him his 
breakfast. Her motherly intuition had sensed 
his needs, and her ragged heart had pulsed for 
the moment with the eternal sensibility of 
charity. Thus even in the lowly and the sin- 
ful, the spark of eternity ever shines. 

A Black Hills freighter hired the tenderfoot, 
being in need of a man to drive a trail wagon. 
So, that freighting, and untangling a string 
of obstinate miles, was his initiation into the 
west ; from which interesting and engaging 
pastime, he graduated into his original pur- 
pose of "working upon a ranch." 

That was more than two score years ago, 
and the prairies north of Cheyenne, was where 
he kept lonely vigils, caring for, and moving 
the cattle from place to place. It was monoton- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



93 



ous labor, and he longed for the woods, and 
the woodland companions on the banks of the 
Ohio. The bees and the butterflies were calling 
him. 

The lone environment, the solitude of the 
prairies, are enough to try the intellects of 
mature people, and there is graver danger for 
the young. Out of the high tablelands, the 
mirage makes everything seem so unreal. 
Lakes where lakes are not, trees where the 
trees have never grown, inverted cities on 
the sky, mountains lifting themselves suddenly 
from the plain, to sink back again at one's 
approach. 

No wonder lone herdsmen and lonely set- 
tlers became insane ; no wonder they build 
small habitations on the summits of hills or 
mountains where the "desert devils" find it 
difficult to reach ; no wonder that many of 
the herdsmen on reaching frontier-towns stand 
about and count the people, the vehicles, the 
trees, and watch the wheels go around ; or else 
take to drink, for the queer things of drunk- 
enness are more substantial than desert things. 

A "touch of the prairie," is madness incipi- 
ent, and unless relief comes in some exciting di- 
version, or in the rush of tears, the victim will 
perish in the wilderness, or come wandering 
into the edges of civilization in a sort of driv- 
iling lunacy that may be permanent. 

The writer remembers well his own experi- 
ences in Goshe's Holes, now called Goshen 
Park, where the goblins of the desert led him 
from place to place, without food or water, 
until he felt almost as etherial and wisplike 
as the most immaterial of them. Whether it 
was by accident or otherwise, Joe Wilde, the 
well known veteran of Fort Laramie, found 
me, and piloted me. to the safety of his home. 

And I can sympathize with Ed Stemler, the 
Buckeye boy, who, when alone in the wilder- 
ness, would seek the highest points of land, 
and look as far back east as his eyes could 
reach, and where he would bawl his heart out 
with a terrible, terrifying grief, with no wit- 
nesses save the brassy, unresponsive sky. Ex- 
cept for the clinging clay, he would tear away 
through the miles of intervening space to the 
hills that nourished him. When the tempest of 
his homesickness passed and the frame shook 
spasmodically with subsiding sobs, he would 
return to the duties of the range. 

By and by, the prairies began to look differ- 
ent, he began to make friends with the cattle 
he tended, the horses he rode, and other life 
of the plains. 

Nomadic red men drifted by at intervals 
and he had no fear of them. Like Fiddler 
Campbell, he found heartease in the music of 



his violin. Astride his horse, without instruc- 
tion, he learned to ply the bow with his left 
hand, while with his right he held the instru- 
ment upside down, its drum upon the saddle 
horn, and its neck extending upwards. In the 
later days, at the round-up and granger dances, 
he held the inverted fiddle upon his knees and 
the music was good. 

A Mrs. Stickney, a writer of some note, once 
visited La Grange, and later published an ac- 
curate descriptive story of a round-up dance. 
The stories of Emerson Hough, in which he 
describes cowboys dancing in chaps and with 
spurs jingling, is purely fiction, and Mrs. 
Stickney did not yield to such impulses to 
ranmble and exaggerate. But she did describe 
the violinist as a "bow-legged, left-handed, 
red-headed and freckle-faced fiddler, who play- 
ed with the violin standing on its head." 

If one recognizes anyone from this descrip- 
tion, perhaps one best be as circumspect as 
was Mrs. Stickney, and mention no name, for 
though now a grizzled veteran of the prairies, 
the described can clip the ears of a coyote 
at a distance of one hundred yards with his 
old forty-five, or a much greater distance with 
his new forty-thirty. 

Ed. Stemler, in his long years on the 
prairies, has had his little fights and his one 
great battle. In 1888, I "met up" with him at 
a roundup dance, and although intimately ac- 
quainted, I have never heard him relate of his 
adventures, nor whisper of the great battle 
of Sixty-six mountain. 

Only recently did this story come to me, 
in the quiet undertone of an old plainsman, 
who sat in my office and related it, in the sub- 
dued tone of conversation that comes of long 
hours alone, when one talks much to one's 
self, for the companionship of a human voice, 
or in speaking soothingly to cattle when night 
riding about a herd — 'so not to startle them 
— for wild cattle always seem ready to stam- 
pede. I had heard of it before, but had never 
heard the story in its entirety until the side 
partner of "Shanghai" Pierce, dropped a few 
words that put me on the trail. 

It was after the Union Pacific was builded, 
and the old Overland trails were falling into 
disuse, that Ed. Stemler came into the west, 
and the summit of Sixty-six mountain knew 
his homesick .grief and loneliness. Likewise 
the summits of Wild Cat mountain, of Big 
Horn and Bear mountains, and the High Di- 
vide of Flowerfield, or the Lone Pine emi- 
nence near the head of Lawrence fork. 

One day he left his herds on the Flowerfield 
Swell and started for Ohio. He was riding 
down the Lodgepole when he came upon the 



94 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



deserted wagons. The mystery of them ap- 
pealed to him, and for the balance of the day, 
he rummaged in the chests found in the wag- 
ons. He handled the harnesses and rattled the 
chains. Night came on and after dark, the 
Shadows. The People came back to the wag- 
ons. 

He walked among them, glad to companion- 
ship, and he heard their story : 

They were a party of emigrants, and had 
left Julesburg several days previously; the 
grasses of the Lodgepole valley were so allur- 
ing to them and their worn stock, that when 
they reached the point where the Jules Cut- 
off left the valley for the table-lands, they 
were reluctant to follow the continental thor- 
oughfare. 

So, up the Lodgepole valley they contin- 
ued for several miles. Here amidst luxurious 
grasses they formed the regular corral of 
their wagons by drawing them to a circle, and 
the stock was turned loose to graze. 

Early in the evening the wolves appeared 
howling about them in great numbers, and 
they wished their horses were safely within 
the enclosure. The campers were unable to 
determine certainly whether the cries were ac- 
tually those of marauding wild beasts or In- 
dians imitating them. If beasts, they should 
stay to their fires, if Indians, they should take 
to the shadows. A clatter of hoofs told that 
the horses had stampeded to the west. The 
howling continued about the camp, but in di- 
minished volume until nearly dawn. 

In the morning the emigrants on foot start- 
ed upon the trail. The women and children, 
hardy and strong, joined, rather than be left 
behind, at the mercy of any nomadic band that 
might come prowling about. 

The trail of the runaway horses took the 
emigrants to the head of "Lorren's Fork," then 
to the springs in the hills bordering Gonneville 
or Pumpkin creek. Now they had come back, 
but were going again. Abandoning his pur- 
pose of going to Ohio, the lone herdsman 
hereafter journeyed with them, showing them 
the way to Fort Laramie. He knew the route, 
the watering places, and the passes in the 
hills. They left the wagons where they stood. 

At the head of Pumpkin creek valley, on 
the west line of the state, a part in Nebraska, 
and a larger part in Wyoming, stands an emi- 
nence. Its summit is six miles long east and 
west. It is five hundred feet above surround- 
ing plains, and five thousand feet above the 
sea. Its rugged slopes and base cover fifteen 
or twenty sections of land. 

When the granger came, it was called Sixty- 
six mountain. 



There were sixty-six emigrants, moving 
along the base of this mountain, one fatal day, 
when they were beset with Cheyenne Indians. 
They took refuge in the hills and fought long 
and hard. It was days before the remnant of 
the sixty-six were overcome near a spring on 
the north side of the mountain, and here it 
was that Ed. Stemler fell, as the others had 
fallen, fighting stubbornly. 

There is a superstition among the Indians 
about red hair, atid it is said this fact is all 
that saved him from the shocking fate, and 
the scalping meted out to the others. 

How long it was after the massacre that 
Ed. revived, he had no means of knowing, 
and why he set about and buried the dead, and 
why he went back to the herds north of Pine 
Bluffs, and why no report was ever made, are 
things which will give rise to lively speculation 
forever. My life and experiences on the range 
enable me to speculate more clearly, perhaps, 
than others. 

After a few weeks of solitude, an adven- 
ture like this, and its miraculous finale for 
the one that lived, and who knew no reason 
why he had been spared, will make it all seem 
like a vagrant dream. A nightmare of the 
prairie, a figment that never had real sub- 
stance. 

Why had he left his herds? What directed 
him to these people, and how came they there ? 
Why had the Indians singled him out, and 
avoided dealing him the fatal injury? Surely, 
it must have been a dream, like, so many of 
the wild things he had dreamed before, out 
there in the solitude. 

So he said nothing of it. And years later 
he built his ranch house on the mountain side, 
by the spring where the last stand had been 
taken. 

A long time after, he told a few, only a few, 
and they with admonitions of secrecy. Secrecy 
because the story of the battle of Sixty-six 
mountain, if generally bandied about, would 
lead someone to doubt his integrity or his 
sanity. But Ed. Stemler is both sane and 
honest, and the story will not harm him now. 
For over forty years he has lived on the 
66, sometime on one slope of the mountain and 
sometimes on the other, but always with the 
wraiths of the 66 emigrants that faded out of 
the world over a half century ago. 

He has his thousands of acres, and his thou- 
sand cattle, but sometimes at night, the moon- 
light calls out images from the rocks — images 
of the long ago — and the shadows flee and flit 
from shelter to shelter, spectrals fighting a 
battle in silence, a battle which years ago in- 
volved tumult and noise. The "nieht herd is 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



95 



running," and Ed. knows every detail in ad- 
vance, and he is sure now of what he did not 
know — that the color of his hair rendered him 
immunity from the scalping knife, and spared 
him for the years of usefulness to come. 

(This narrative is given, not as history, al- 
though many believe it a true account of the 
battle, but for what it is worth, and as one of 
the shadowy affairs of the unwritten long 
ago. Eugene Ware found the wagons in per- 
fect order, and and where the wheels rested 
upon the ground, the sand and dust had drifted 



over the felloes, and grass was growing in 
the newly made ground. The harnesses were 
rotting on the wagon tongues. That Stemler 
knew of these wagons, that in the solitudes 
and the isolation he came in touch with People 
already gone, that in some way he connected 
up with Them, and Intelligence went through 
Experiences and in Companionship of pos- 
sibly ten years before, is an explanation satis- 
factory to many old plainsmen, who have heard 
Voices out of the past, when alone in the si- 
lence of the prairie.) 



CHAPTER V 
THE RIDE OF DAN DILLON AND OTHERS— THE START OF THE TENAS TRAIL 



A few years ago (1916) I met Dan Mc- 
Ulvane and Colin Hunter in Cheyenne and 
had a long talk with them of early ranch life. 
McUlvane was pretty nearly an old timer 
when he went into the cow business in 1870. 
Six years before, or in 1864, he had whacked 
bulls from Leavenworth to Fort Laramie, un- 
der the government wagon boss, Merin Car- 
lisle. 

Colin Hunter, who since 1872 had a ranch at 
the confluence of Little Horse creek with 
Horse creek proper, recently died in Chey- 
enne. He owned the old ranch at the time of 
his death, and his son. Tom Hunter, still owns 
it. Tom has an office in Cheyenne. Colin 
Hunter was coming with a wagon train to Fort 
Laramie in 1867, when, on July 4th, the sound 
of guns attracted their attention. The sight 
of the blue coats gave them some apprehen- 
sion. When the shooting subsided, they found 
the soldiers and a civilian or two, with one 
dead white man in their midst. 

Just what the difficulty was they could not 
learn, nor did he ever learn, but the dead man 
was killed by a white man's bullet, and the 
shot was fired from behind the bank of the 
river. This happened near Bordeaux's place. 
The dead man was George Riptoe, whose ex- 
periences along with others followed the mas- 
sacre at Fort Phil Kearney up on the Piney, 
and the rescue of that beleagured garrison. 

Coutant tells a pretty story of the famous 
ride of John Phillips on Colonel Carrington's 
fine thoroughbred, all the way alone through 



the bitter cold Christmas weather, from the 
Piney to Horseshoe station. There is another 
story which many old timers tell concern- 
ing that message and how it was transmitted,. 
that I am led to believe, after much inquiry. 

Many of the older people will remember 
Jim Bellamy, and his Nine Mile station, or 
ranch nine miles up the Platte river from Fort 
Laramie. 

On the night of December 24, 1866, late in 
the night, Bellamy and Daniel McUlvane, and 
several others were sitting by a roaring fire 
at Nine Mile station, when out of the bitter 
cold and darkness appeared four horsemen, 
whose names should go down in history. They 
were Dan Dillon, big diffident Dan, Sam 
Gregory, George Riptoe and John Phillips. 
They had all ridden all the way from Fort Phil 
Kearney. 

Dillon was the bearer of dispatches, and 
asked if they could get a wire to the Fort at 
Laramie. They had previously tried to do 
so from Horseshoe station farther west, but 
could not. The storm of the Indians had put 
the line out of commission, but as their horses 
were utterly exhausted, they had to put up 
for a rest. 

Dan gave the dispatches to Bellamy, who 
locked them in his big chest for the night. All 
rested for several hours, and early the next 
morning, Bellamy gave Dillon the dispatches 
again, and the four journeyed on to the fort. 
All who mention it tell me that Dillon and not 
Phillips was the bearer of the dispatches. 



96 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Old Bedlam was alive with a merry party, 
which had been dancing all the night. On the 
upper floors the officers had administrative 
quarters, and the lower part of the building 
was full of the dancers. Dillon, because of his 
bashfulness, found it difficult to attract the no- 
tice of any of the soldiers who were busy 
dancing attention to the ladies ; and while hesi- 
tating, Phillips grabbed the dispatches from his 
hands, ran into the throng, and up the stairs 
to the officers' quarters. 

When Coutant wrote his history, these four 
men were scattered to the four winds. Riptoe 
had been killed, and Dillon was supposed to be 
in Mexico. Gregory, who had later been chief 
of police in Laramie City, had departed for 
parts unknown. Coutant's story came from 
Phillips and from his patriotic political friends. 
The historian is now also dead, he having died 
at Chinook, in the far northwest. 

Dan Dillon, the bearer of the message that 
reached the fort, having returned from the 
south and rejoined his command, was in 1881, 
given some dispatches at Fort Robinson, Ne- 
braska, for delivery on the other side of the 
Indian reservation, at Fort Meade, South Da- 
kota. He vanished somewhere in the Chey- 
enne river country. Nor has he or his remains, 
.or any of his effects, horse, saddle, or accouter- 
ments, ever been found. Possibly the quick- 
sands of the river could tell more of faithful 
Dan, but they only whisper on and on in 
voices mysterious and unintelligible to us all. 

From a very early date the mines about 
Hartville, Wyoming, had been prospected. In 
fact, the time antedates any record, and it 
was believed that the white people who were 
separated several hundred years ago, a frag- 
ment of which were never heard from, might 
have been among the early men at Hartville. 
This is the purest conjecture, however, and 
only the fragments of old tools give evidence 
of early pilgrims of superior intelligence. 

During the days of the cowmen it again be- 
came quite a center of activity, and here was 
one of the relaxation points of the west. Oth- 
ers were Antelopeville, Cheyenne, Ogallala, 
Sidney, and Camp Clarke. Alliance, the pres- 
ent headquarters of the Stockmen's associa- 
tion, was not then on the map. The Box Butte 
table lay in all its virgin glory under the west- 
ern sun. 

The Texas trail was three hundred miles 
wide, if you take in all its deflections and rami- 
fications. From east of Ogallala to the Lara- 
mie plains ran the parallel lines of trvael, some- 
times crossing one another, according to the 



idea of the men having a herd in charge, as 
to pasturage and water. 

Occasionally somewhere between the start- 
ing point and the destination, a large herd 
would entirely disappear, and with it the men 
in charge. The general belief was that these 
were gigantic thefts, but there came a story 
filtering into the south country, of a mysterious 
arroyo or canyon, somewhere about the vicin- 
ity of the southeast corner of Colorado, where 
these herds of cattle were stampeded by a 
phatom steer, run over a bluff, and all killed. 
I think I shall tell this story as it came to 
me more than a score of years ago. 

The route of the original Texas Trail was 
not direct, it swung eastward across Oklahoma, 
or Indian Territory, to Coffeyville ; then swung 
westward up the Arkansas river valley a hun- 
dred or more miles, and while such a route 
had water advantages over a route more di- 
rect, I had often wondered if that was the 
reason for its being in such an indirect way. 

The story came to me in the later eighties, 
that in about 1860, a herd had been sent north 
by the direct route, but that it never reached 
the Arkansas river. Searching parties failed 
to disclose what became of them although they 
found evidences of a stampede near the south- 
west corner of Kansas. The following year 
another expedition was planned but it met with 
the same fate. Not a trace beyond a few miles 
from where they had appeared to stampede. 

The next expedition was manned with a 
bunch of trustworthy men, and absolutely fear- 
less. It occurred to the owners that perhaps 
somewhere off to the westward someone or 
several were starting new ranches at the ex- 
pense of the Texas owners. So after sending 
out the original party, a second outfit of ten 
men and a wagon were directed to follow. 
Their duty was apparently to pick up the strag- 
glers that were left behind, or that would 
get up in the night and start back along the 
trail. 

One of those beautiful moonlight nights so 
common to the southwest, while the cattle were 
all lying down apparently at ease, they sud- 
denly arose, and after a brief thunder of hoofs, 
seemed to melt into the moonlight mist, and 
the night riders had gone with them. When 
daylight came the trail was followed a short 
distance after which it became too indistinct to 
follow. In the night a sudden whirl wind had 
arisen and shifting sands had obliterated the 
tracks. The country about was searched close- 
ly for many miles, but with barren results. 

The returning men to the Texas range were 
so chagrined that they begged the privilege 
of taking a smaller bunch, and go over the 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



97 



same trail. Only two of these men returned, 
and their story ended trailing cattle through 
that particular section of the south for a great 
many years. 

They had crossed the Kansas line as usual, 
and the night was one of those typical stam- 
peding nights. The utmost vigilence had been 
observed. The night herd had been doubled, 
and they were to move about the dozing cattle, 
and to keep up whistling or singing the sooth- 
ing tones that only night-herders know will 
tend to keep the cattle from taking alarm. 

As John A Lomax says in his book : "The 
Songs of The Cowboy." 

"What keeps the herds from running, 
Stampeding far and wide? 
The cowboy's long, low whistle 
And singing by their side." 

Suddenly, like one, the entire herd arose, 
and the silence of the night was changed to a 
pandemonium of sound. The earth trembled 
with the beating of hoofs, the cowboy's tran- 
quil call rose to a shrill crescendo, shouts and 
shots woke the startled prairie owls, and all 
was feverish anxiety. The two men who re- 
turned to Texas were at the camp, when the 
tornado of activity awoke. They were a little 
behind the others ; one was a little in advance 
of the other, and both were riding to overtake 
the herd. 

One of the riders far in advance suddenly 
disappeared, then another went down, and that 



meant ground to death under the feet of the 
trampling steers. One after another the head 
riders fell, and there were left but the two. 
One was riding into the rear, and the other shut 
his eyes for a moment, for such a perform- 
ance meant only one thing, and that, death. 
Instantly he opened them again for in closing 
his eyes he had apparently closed his ears. The 
Pandemonium of sound had ceased. When 
he looked forward, it was upon an empty plain, 
save for the one lone horseman, that came 
riding back to him. 

"Did you see it?" he asked. 

The other had seen nothing that could be 
designated as "It." 

"The Phantom Steer" said the first spokes- 
man. "As sure as we live there was a big, 
shadowy steer that led the bunch, and these 
that came on became as he, for I rode through 
them, and cut them with my rope, time after 
time." 

The Phantom Steer was a Thing in the 
semi-mythology of the west, that always leads 
herds and men "to the end of the trail." And 
they say, out in that section of the land some- 
where, there is an arroyo where the herds have 
gone down, led by this mysterious creature, 
and if you will go there at night when the 
moon is full, you can see the shadows moving, 
and you can hear the "moo" as of belated 
cattle'. 

So the Texas Trail was swung away to the 
east, where the Thing did not interfere with 
safe delivery on to the northern range. 



CHAPTER VI 

COWBOY ESCAPADES — DEATH OF TIMMEY TATE — RED PATH BILL — FRA- 
TERNAL AND CLASS SENTIMENT 



When the Cheyenne and Northern railroad 
was built, the trail went into disuse. The cat- 
tle were brought north by rail and unloaded at 
Wendover, and trailed from there into the 
Big Horn Basin and the British possessions. 

I "skinned mules" on the head of Pole 
(Xodgepole) creek, Horse creek and the Chug- 
water, and I cooked for an outfit from the 
river to "the basin." I had had no experience 
at cooking to amount to anything, but I could 
boil spuds and beans, make "sore-finger 
bread," and make good coffee. The recipe for 



good coffee is "a couple of hands full to a dip- 
per of water." What more does a hungry 
man want? Also I had the advantage over 
some cooks in that I kept my dishes cleaned up 
after every meal, and I was always on the job. 
When the boys would pass a settlement 
where there were any girls, some of the set- 
tlers would be sure to have a roundup dance. 
Either among the boys, or among the settlers 
there were fiddlers. Among the cowboys, I 
knew several: there was Runey Campbell, Ed 
Stemler, Ed Wright and Ark. Hughes — all 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



alive today (1919), and still able to draw a 
bow across the strings. In fact I would like 
to go to one of the old fashioned dances, \Vith 
the old fashioned music, and a crowd of the 
old timers. To be sure, it would be nothing 
like the gymnastic performances of the new 
people, the dips, the trots, and the wiggles 
that we are told is dancing now. 

When near one of the old frontier towns, 
the boys were due for a little relaxation. 

Once down at Sidney, Jimmy Tate and 
Johnny Frantz had gone to town, and every- 




Four Old Time Cowpunchers 

Left to right, standing: John Shear, Jimmey Tate, 

sitting : Johnny Frantz and Frank Fitz. 

body knew what that meant. Each would try 
to excel the other in some prank, or deed of 
daring. Riding their horses into saloons, sit- 
ting on the floor of a grocery store in tests of 
endurance eating cove oysters from the can by 
the handful, and such other general foolish- 
ness. 

Late that night six rapid fire shots, and the 
sharp staccato of horse's hoofs announced the 
return of Johnny, and with him was Tate's 
riderless horse. The boys tumbled out of 
their blankets and tarpaulins, and Johnny 
tumbled from his horse. He told a sort of an 
incoherent, reproachful tale that Tate was 
dead, hack in the road. 



All were more or less concerned, for Tate 
was supposed to have intentions of giving 
evidence against the Bay State Company con- 
cerning some of their acquisition of land from 
the government, and the empty saddle looked 
bad, for Jimmy was a good rider, even when 
intoxicated. "Long" (Wyatt) Heard, now 
(1919) and before of Uvalde county, Texas, 
then headquartered on Pumpkin creek, was 
telling about it. He said that the story they 
got from Johnny was that Tate had fallen 
from his horse and was killed. 

"But how do you know that he is dead?" 
was asked. 

With all sincerity Frantz told them that he 
had stopped, and called to Tate several times, 
and received no answer, and then he had 
"rode over him two or three times, and he 
never moved." 

Jimmy came out of it all right, but after- 
wards died with his boots on, in the same old 
town of Sidney, and many believed that his 
revelations concerning the land matters had 
something to do with his sudden and violent 
death. He now lies in "Boots Graveyard," a 
part of the Sidney cemetery, that was set aside 
for the boys who died in the classic way of 
the early west. 

"Bad men" were always drifting in and out 
of the early camps, and through the frontier 
towns, and it was somewhat difficult to dis- 
tinguish the real from the make-believe. Oc- 
casionally one would make his bluff stand up 
for a time, but he eventually met someone that 
"called him." 

In "Ole Cheyenne" it used to be the stand- 
ing joke that a cowpuncher who had taken on 
too much of a load, was a candidate for Hat 
creek. Why Hat creek was the proposed des- 
tination for a fellow that was full, is more 
than I ever learned. But that stream, if it 
may be called a stream, is up towards the 
headwaters of White river, and was on the 
line of the trail from Fort Laramie to Dead- 
wood. Sending them up Hat creek became a 
classic in western expression, symbolizing a 
drunken cowpuncher, and it never failed to 
humiliate and shame. 

One time a "bad man" drifted into Chey- 
enne, and his name was enough to strike 
terror to tenderfeet. "Red Path Bill" was a 
dread combination. "Bill" was a favorite 
name in the wild first years of the west, es- 
pecially if the person was a bad man; but 
"Red Path" prefixed would certainly indicate 
for a bad man nothing less than a trail of 
human gore. 

Red Path Bill was hungry — voracious for 
human bones to crush in his mighty jaws, and 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



')•! 



he was famishing for drink — red liquor of 
the first magnitude, and mixed with human 
blood. He could not be appeased. Pounds of 
steak — blood raw — or such stale things as 
coffee and common bar drinks, could not sat- 
isfy such an appetite as he possessed. 

So he rambled from place to place, until he 
found the place of Harry Hynds. 

Hynds came to Cheyenne in the early years, 
and had joined with a man named Elliott in 
the trade of blacksmithing. He had a strong 
arm, and was not afraid to use it ; and he was 
also a reader of human character. He quit 
blacksmithing, and opened an emporium of 
entertainment and refreshments. There he 
had to know the science of humankind to sur- 
vive. 

His business developed, and at the time Red 
Path Bill appeared, the place contained a ves- 
tibule, with cigars and the like ; and behind 
swinging doors of mahogany was a mahogany 
bar and crystal glass, and then a third room 
separated from the second by swinging doors 
of green. In this latter room were the choice 
of any number of tame amusements : the faro 
box, the roulette wheel, monte, twenty-one, 
craps, poker, and sometimes keno. 

These interested, amused and entertained, 
and sometimes broke and hurried a man up 
Hat creek. 

Gambling was a quiet vice and the besetting 
sin of the cowboy was activity — great activ- 
ity — and noise. He was tired of the mighty 
reaches of the prairie, and was glad to be 
where he could bump into something. He had 
wearied of the silent solitudes, and he wanted 
the reverberation of sound. So the gun — 
that six gun — its roar within the confines of 
a room, was different from the futile little 
pops out on the open range. The jingling 
glass, and his pride of marksmanship that 
often plunged a room in darkness, was the 
transcendant glory of the new free west. Es- 
pecially was this true, when an unwilling and 
half wild mustang had been coaxed, rowled, 
jabbed and coerced, rearing over threshholds 
into unaccustomed haunts. Furthermore the 
boys did enjoy seeing the gamblers duck for 
cover under the tables or behind the bar. 

Red Path Bill, with moccasined feet, came 
silently in. His deep voice called for the 
strongest at the bar, and then, to the swinging 
doors of the inner room. Suddenly he was 
electrified. A heavy fist smote simultaneously 
each door, and they swung wide. With spec- 
tacular effect he had made an entrance. No 
one seemed to notice him, and he was offended. 

"I'm Red Path Bill," he roared, and glared 
about to see if anyone dared dispute it. None 



did. Instead, the man at the wheel droned : 
"Double OO in the green," and the rumble of 
"Deuce-Nine," or "a natural," or "an alsa," 
came from different parts of the room. These 
expressions may have been a reference to his 
entrance, or they may have referred to the 
plays at the different tables. Smiles here and 
there would have indicated the former. The 
games and the players went on as usual. Red 
Path Bill was offended. Somebody had killed 
his act in the vaudeville of life. He went 
about annoying the players, who tolerated him 
with rare good nature, until he trod upon the 
toes of a bystander. 

Fred Ashford was working in the Union 
Pacific shops at the time. He had for several 
years whacked bulls on the Black Hills route 
for Billy Hecht. Fred was a man r f medium 
stature and prodigious strength. He quit 
freighting in 1882 and joined a cow outfit, 
and then later went into the shops. 

To step upon a man's toes in the west was 
an affront and a challenge, and when Red Path 
Bill picked Ashford for the offense, he did not 
know his man. Fred's right arm swung once. 
The rest were better told by a humbled and 
contrite spirit. 

"I am what remains of Red Path Bill. They 
took a caseknife and tried to scrape me off 
the wall where I had been splattered, but they 
could not get enough to do much good." 

Each of the classes that inhabited the early 
west held the other in contempt. That is : the 
soldier aKvays treated the cowboys as "herds- 
men," and the cowboys returned the sentiment 
with vigor. The gamblers respected the men 
of the range for their money, for the game 
way they took a loss, but generally with utter 
contempt for their skill at cards. Occasionally 
they miscalculated. Sandy Ingraham caught a 
fellow "out on a limb" once in the Capitol 
saloon of Cheyenne. After a delay of careful 
deliberation of fifty minutes, he called the 
gambler's bet of seven hundred dollars, and 
won with "two deuces." 

Captain Chas. King, who wrote Trumpeter 
Fred, and other tales of local color, always 
used the offensive appellation "herdsman." 
Thus the whipping of a drunken or saucy sol-' 
dier by a cowboy or freighter was always con- 
sidered legitimate sport. 

Occasionally the cow outfits would sweep 
down on old Fort Fetterman, or some other 
camp or sub-station in the Fort Laramie dis- 
trict, and would rope the mountain howitzers, 
and antiquated brass cannon, jerking them 
from their positions, would drag them about 
the fort. Soldiers knew better than to inter- 



100 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



fere with such pranks, for when the sport was 
over, the boys would make amends. 

When there came real Indian troubles, the 
civilian was a valuable asset. An average 



freighter or cowman was much better skilled 
in the tactics of Indian warfare, and were 
needed when trouble arose. 



CHAPTER VII 



COAD'S RANCH AT SCOTTSBLUFF STATION — SHEEDY'S SEVEN-U RANCH ■ 
ANECDOTES ABOUT THEM 



About 1870, the Coad Brothers took posses- 
sion of the old Stage station, "Scotts Bluffs," 
and put in a herd of cows. This they devel- 
oped to colossal proportions. The younger 
Coads still have the ranch north of Cheyenne 
at which Mark M. Coad was killed a few 
years ago by a Mexican. At the early date, 
however, the principal ranch was just a little 
west of the present site of Melbeta, and their 
range took in all of the south part of the 
North Platte valley, from Court House rock 
to and including Mitchell valley. The part- 
ners were J. F. and Mark M. Coad. They had 
10,000 cattle and their brands best known were 
FF-Bar and C-12. The "Wisconsin Ranch" 
previously operated by Coad, near Julesburg, 
was for caring for bull herds and was the 
scene of bloody Indian conflicts. 

From Perry Braziel, who "met up" with 
"Shanghai" Pierce at Coffeyville, and drifted 
up the Texas Trail in 1880, and who went to 
work for the Coads in 1882, and who still 
lives in the splendid country south of Henry, 
and from R. C. Campbell and from other old 
timers, I have been able to get a fairly accur- 
ate description of the old buildings at the 
Scotts Bluff Station, which became the Coad 
ranch house. 

It faced the south, and was 20 by 50 feet, 
its walls were thirty inches thick and the sod 
were eight or ten inches in thickness. It had 
red cedar cross logs and ridge poles, and poles 
and dirt were used for the roof. A row of 
posts through the center supported the center 
ridge log. The building contained two rooms, 
the smaller being about 12 by 20, was used for 
the kitchen. A large sod fireplace added cheer 
to the larger room. 

It was in and around this old building that 
"Baldy" Kelly, and "Iron Leg Bill" DeCamp 
had their bout over who should win the af- 
fections of their enamorita. I never learned 



her name, but the stories first gave Baldy an 
advantage, and then Bill's Winchester took 
part, and the last of Kelly was a fading fog 
in the direction of Cheyenne, with a pocket 
full of Yorick Nichol's money. 

The younger generations of Coads are now 
here frequently, and are interested in develop- 
ing the feeding industry in the land where 
their fathers ran the big range herds. 

The Powers brothers came into the Scotts- 
bluff country in 1870 or 1871, and they built 
a ranch on the north side of the river, within 
a mile of the present site of the north end of 
the Bayard state aid bridge. They were Tex- 
ans and run from 4,000 to 5,000 cattle. Den- 
nis Sheedy bought this outfit sometime after, 
and here was the famous Seven-U (7U) 
brand. He increased the herd to large pro- 
portions. Sheedy accumulated a fortune and 
has been busy for years in the commercial af- 
fairs of Denver, being president of the Den- 
ver Dry Goods Company only a short time 
ago, and now (1919) vice-president of Colo- 
rado National Bank. It is to be ventured that 
his active brain is still working in lines for 
which it was splendidly equipped. 

Around the Seven-U clusters a number of 
old anecdotes which extended down to the ad- 
vent of the granger. The cowboys used to 
sing a song, "The Famous Seven-U Brand," 
when I first came into the west. It was more 
of a slam than a song, and one time years 
after, when Sheedy stopped at Tusler's, the 
lady, who had an old melodian, thought to re- 
vive a pleasing memory by singing it, but it 
made Mr. Sheedy indignant. 

James O'Hallern was in charge at the time 
I first visited this ranch, and he was a char- 
acter all to himself. He liked company and 
had many festive occasions at the old sod 
ranch house, where the people came for one 
hundred miles to dance. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



101 



Tim Montrose was the cook, and a good one 
he was, albeit that he "was not much larger 
than a drink of water," as the cowboys used to 
say. Tim was particularly tired of one fellow 
in the olden days who settled down near the 
ranch and made it his general source of prov- 
ender. Almost; daily he would sojourn from 
his squatter's cabin to the ranch to visit Tim- 
my, and incidentally "get his fill of grub." 

One day Tim pulled out of the capacious 
oven a particularly delightful roast of great 
dimension. The visitor's nose soon led him to 
it. He gorged himself outrageously and had 
some internal pains as a result. Yet he felt 
called upon to compliment the cook. Tim 
asked him if he knew how to make roast beef 
tender in the cooking. Receiving the negative 
response, he told him to put a little strychnine 
upon it — not too much, as a little too much 
might be fatal, but that he always put some on 
his own cooking. This suggestion, and the in- 
ternal agonies increasing, so frightened his 
visitor that he never bothered Tim any further. 

Montrose made regular trips to Chicago, to 
his old home ward, and he invariably came 
back with the scars of battle, for he loved a 
fight. 

One time in a cow outfit, a big bully tried 
to "run a whizzer" on Timmy. For a little 
time those who knew Montrose were surprised 
to see the stranger apparently "getting by with 
it." Suddenly the battle fire in the little Irish- 
man blazed up, and after a short but terrific 
battle, the bully turned and ran. 

James O'Hallern liked a good time, and he 
frequently called the scattered people of the 
country together in the big buildings at the 
Seven-U, where they would dance all night 
and into the next day. 

One time when they had gathered for one 
hundred miles to trip the light fantastic, the 
cook, Montrose, found access to too many 
flasks, which the boys had hidden in the barn. 
Tim had found the cache and his condition 
was such that O'Hallern had to deny him the 
joy of the dance floor. He was tremendously 
humiliated, to hear him tell it, and likewise 
angry in a maudlin way. He planned deeply 
and from his pondering a scheme of revenge 
was formed, that lacked only one little essen- 
tial element of successful strategy. 

He saddled his pony, from the woodpile he 
selected a club. Ordinarily he was a good man 
with his fists, but this time he was taking no 
chances. He took his station at the door from 
which he had been ejected. Soon one of the 
boys stepped out to take the air, and Mont- 
rose very politely asked him to tell O'Hallern 
that there was a gentleman at the door who 



wanted to speak to him. As the foreman 
crossed the threshhold, 'the blow fell, and it 
was well aimed and effective. O'Hallern fell 
across the doorstep, and was insensible 
for several hours. With a whoop of exultant 
victory and defiance at the whole world, Tim 
Montrose leaped into his saddle and rode away 
across the yard toward the Camp Clarke trail. 
Here came the disastrous detail he had over- 
looked. The clothesline was hung at a proper 
height to lift him from the saddle, and the im- 
pact upon the earth was sufficiently hard to 
leave him in an insensible condition until the 
next day. But scratches and bruises were 
common in those days, and after a brief delay 
to ascertain how serious were the casualties, 
the gay party went on with the dance until 
after sunrise. 

At the Seven-U there are four graves — 
two of which were emigrants and two are old 
cowboys that died with their boots on and 
were so buried. One of the latter was a 
brother of Henry Bradford, who was with the 
English boys later, and the other a Texan con- 
cerning whom later reference is made. 

The surviving Bradford had become pos- 
sessed of a large acreage north of Camp 
Clarke, which was called the Bradford ranch, 
and which was operated by a man named El- 
liott. Bradford had some income therefrom, 
and he spent part of his time at the Seven-U 
until his brother was killed. 

One day they were discussing a certain out- 
law horse that had been run into the corral 
with great difficulty. The discussion was 
mixed with sundry libations. At a certain 
stage "Brad" offered to bet twenty-five dollars 
that he could saddle and bridle the animal un- 
assisted. The bet was covered and he repaired 
to the corral. After much difficulty he man- 
aged to get a rope over its head and this he 
looped about a log in the barn. Gradually he 
worked the animal nearer and finally he got 
it into the barn and snubbed up to the manger. 
Here he proceeded to blind it with a gunny 
sack, and then saddle and bridle it. One sud- 
den upward swing of the head at an unexpect- 
ed moment took "Brad," who was leaning over 
the partition from an adjoining stall, squarely 
in the face, and he lost all the teeth of his 
upper jaw on the left side. Occasionally af- 
terwards, he would point out and display the 
gold teeth with which they were replaced, and 
say: "Well, I won the twenty-five, but it 
cost me a hundred." 

When the granger came, the Seven-U was 
occupied by Ed Burnett, who was one of the 
old families about Bayard. Ed one night had 
a very vivid dream about the grave of one of 



102 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the emigrants who was buried at the Seven-U. 
He awoke the next morning convinced that the 
grave was a cache for hidden gold, and he pro- 
ceeded to put his faith in dreams into his 
works. But when he reached the proper depth 



he found a crude decayed coffin and the re- 
mains of a little girl. After that. Burnett 
lost all faith in dreams, and such foolish 
things. 



CHAPTER VIII 

SURVEYOR SCHLEICxEL'S TEAMSTER HUNG AT SIDNEY — THE BOSLER 
RANGE — THE VB BRAND — MINNIE MONTGOMERY HONEY- 
MOON—THE HOUSE OF LA GRANGE 



Contemporaneously with the establishment 
of the Powers ranch (about 1871), Bosler 
Brothers & Company built their home ranch 
on the lower Blue, near the present site of 
Lewellen, and extended their business to in- 
clude several ranches up and down the North 
Platte river on the north side, but they always 
maintained the principal quarters on the Blue. 
They ran 15,000 to 20,000 cattle and were one 
of the big firms of the time. B-Bar and 
others were their brands. 

About 1872 E. E. Cunningham, surveyor 
general with headquarters at Plattsmouth, sent 
Alex. Schleigel to survey a part of the Platte 
river country between North Platte and Camp 
Clarke bridge. I met Mr. Schleigel a few 
years ago in Washington, D. C. He was then 
a draughtsman in the Interior Department, but 
now lives at Lincoln, Nebraska. He is an old 
soldier (being under Lt. Beecher in the Battle 
of Beecher Island), and has been in many In- 
dian battles, and he is an intimate friend of 
Robert Harvey, our state surveyor, and of 
John E. Evans of North Platte. 

This territory he was to invade was gener- 
ally known as the Bosler range, although it 
was occupied by Boyd brothers, of which Ex- 
Governor James E. Boyd was one ; and the 
other ranches of less importance in relation to 
size. Schleigel had been at the work two or 
three weeks, when he took two men and teams 
and crossed the country to Sidney for supplies. 
He bought his provisions at the old C. A. 
Moore supply depot, then a big concern of the 
frontier town. 

The Boslers and other big cattle men did 
not approve of the survey, for it meant the 
final settlement of the land by homesteaders. 

After the wagons were loaded, one of the 
drivers of the party failed to show up. When 



they were ready to depart they made a search 
for him,, and in a cottonwood tree that stood 
in the vicinity of the garrison at Sidney, they 
found the teamster hanging to the limb, dead, 
and on his body was pinned a placard, "Horse 
Thief." 

SchleigeFs party believed the dead man had 
stolen no horses, but that cattlemen thought so 
little of human life, they had hung an innocent 
man, in order to scare them into giving up the 
survey. 

There was no evidence that it was the work 
of the Boslers or any clue as to the identity of 
the parties who committed the deed, and per- 
haps the man had stolen a horse some time and 
the vigilantes had just caught him. 

However, a general impression prevailed as 
to who it was and why it had been done. If 
so, Alex. Schleigel was built of different stuff 
than they had calculated. He, the old soldier, 
continued his work and finished the survey in 
due time. 

Mark Bouton arrived over the Texas Trail 
in 1873. He decided that Bear creek, about 
fifty miles northeast of Cheyenne, looked good 
to him, and here he went into the cow busi- 
ness. On his way to the north, Mark had 
taken a side trip into Denver, and there he 
met his affinity. After settling down on Bear 
creek he returned to Denver and sought out 
his "Virginia," and brought her with him to 
the ranch. The romance of Virginia Bouton, 
placed upon the range the old and familiar 
name. "VB" brand. 

One born to the range, cannot change his 
habits instantly, and while anchored on BeaT 
creek, Mark Bouton traveled much. Mrs. 
Bouton frequently accompanied him, and at 
such times he gave way to the passion of 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



103 



jealously, for his wife was prepossessing, at- 
tractive and fond of company. 

One time they were in Cheyenne, and he be- 
came obsessed of a fear that she intended to 
leave him, or to go back to the old wilderness 
of passion in which he had first met her. He 
warned her not to leave the hotel, under pen- 
alty of death. Sometime after dinner she was 
gone. Mad with affection and fear, he sought 
in all the probable places, but failed to find her. 

In the evening, two ladies were approaching 
the hotel, when from behind a pile of lumber 
on the west side of Eddy street, a pistol shot 
rang out. One lady fell dead, and she had 
much the same graceful carriage as Mrs. Bou- 
ton, but proved to be another and an entirely 
innocent girl. Her companion was Minnie 
Montgomery, the daughter of John Montgom- 
ery, who owned the log stage station on the 
Black Hills route, at the north end of the Fort 
Laramie bridge. 

Miss Montgomery did not see the assailant, 
and whoever he was, he made good his escape. 
No one knows who fired the shot, but all old 
timers had their suspicions. 

Bouton finally sold his ranch to Seberry & 
Gardner, who built a big stone house, and went 
into the business of raising hurdle ponies, for 
cross-country riding, and other fancy purposes. 

Leaving the ranch, Bouton and his wife 
went to Deadwood, and by and by there drift- 
ed back along the route a rumor that he had 
found his wife talking to a mining man of 
considerable prominence, and had started a 
row, in which he had come off second best. 
They said he was buried in Boots graveyard 
at Deadwood. 

Young Gardner, of the new firm, was the 
trainer for the ranch, and his tiny saddles were 
the jokes of the country wide. Once, when a 
number of prospective buyers were at the 
ranch, young Gardner proposed to give them a 
demonstration. He had a series of hurdles of 
various kinds over a given run and he mounted 
one of his well broken ponies and rode away. 
The first hurdle, which was an insignificant 
affair, proved too much for his thoroughbred, 
and they went down in a heap. A great shout 
of laughter went up from the assembled ladies 
and gentlemen, which provoked young Gard- 
ner into a torrent of language so inelegant, al- 
beit so expressive of his sentiments, that the 
party beat a hasty retreat. 

John Montgomery, the father of Minnie 
Montgomery, who was with the unfortunate 
young lady who was murdered at Cheyenne, 
after the passing of the Black Hills stage, 
sold his location and buildings to Whipple & 
Hay, who put some cattle on the range, and 



established the 4J brand. The same brand is 
now (1919) owned by Ed Covington, whose 
range is in the Pine Ridge and Hartville 
mountains. 

One of the brands acquired by the Bay 
State Land and Cattle Company, was the 4J, 
but it was of another herd, and of less import- 
ance. Just east of Wild Cat mountain, in the 
northern part of Banner county, is a spring 
that adds its flow to that of Pumpkin creek. 
This was located by a man named Brown, and 
the forty acres on which it was situated was 
sold to the Bay State. This spring is known 
as the "Four- Jay-Spring." 

Ed Bouton, a brother of Mark Bouton, of 
the VB, followed from Texas soon after the 
location of the VB ranch on Bear creek. He 
also had a temper and an inclination to homi- 
cide. A sister arrived and in due time was 
married to one of the early men, Ed Bryant. 

Bryant had a house in Cheyenne on. Sixth 
street, but he was out at the ranch considerable 
of the time, while his wife lived in the city. 
One day Bryant had an altercation with Ed 
Bouton, and came off second best. 

It was thought best to send the body to the 
widow, and it was accordingly placed in a 
spring wagon, and a Teutonic employee was 
tojd to drive with it to Cheyenne. Two cow- 
punchers were delegated to ride along, and see 
the safe delivery of the remains. 

Reaching the city late one evening, the 
punchers went into an emporium for a bracer, 
before going to break the news. The Dutch- 
man waited some time, and being thirsty, and 
also rightly sensing the boys were taking sev- 
eral before returning, he decided to make the 
delivery alone. Mrs. Bryant heard the knock 
on the door, and answered the summons. The 
Dutchman said simply : 

"Mrs. Bryant, Ed is here." 

"Ed who ?" asked Mrs. Bryant, not knowing 
if he meant husband or brother. 

"Why, Ed Bryant," was the answer. 

"Well, why don't he come in?" she asked. 

"Why, damn it, he's dead," was the gentle 
way he finally broke the news to her. 

But the sudden and melancholy end of men, 
and the sudden widows of the early west, had 
no discouraging effect upon matrimonial events 
and ventures. 

I have mentioned John Montgomery, the 
keeper of the stage station at the north end of 
the Fort Laramie bridge. Montgomery had a 
daughter — most everyone has a daughter for 
that matter — and Miss Minnie Montgomery 
was like other daughters of the early west. 
She liked to ride, and frequently met the 
"birds of passage," the early cowboys, and the 



104 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



other cowmen that settled down and anchored 
themselves to the soil. 

Among her admirers was a foreman of the 
P. F. ranch. This foreman used to make peri- 
odical visits to Deadwood, taking from the 
ranch some of the fat cattle for Deadwood 
markets. The P. F. people were not receiving 
the liberal returns that they had been led to 
believe was in the ranching business, and grew 
suspicious of their foreman. An examination 
of the books seemed to give an impression 
that all the cattle sold in Deadwood were not 
accounted for, and they had a warrant out for 
their foreman. Officers went to the ranch in 
search of the alleged criminal, but not finding 
him, were returning to Cheyenne. As they 
reached Horse creek crossing they met him in 
company with John Montgomery's daughter, 
Minnie. They had been married in Cheyenne 
the day before, and were on their return home. 

The. Bride's Day may have been fair and 
clear, but it was "dark in the east and west" 
for the groom. I never learned what came of 
the trial, or of the principals in the little ro- 
mance, but I hope big John Montgomery took 
a hand, and that they lived happy ever after. 

We lack interest in history and the older 
events, frequently because we have no inti- 
mate relationship. Yet, to know that this new 
land of ours had its loves and romance fifty 
or more years ago, attunes our hearts to the 
reception of stories of the days so long past. 
We travel about and find places named ; and 
they are of mountain or plain, or city or valley, 
and we seldom stop to think what it was that 
named it. For instance, a mark has been left 



on Horse creek in the name of LaGrange. 
Yet, it has no significance to the ordinary set- 
tler, tourist or individual. There are perhaps 
a few dozen living people, that a reference to 
LaGrange will interest. With them a recita- 
tion of the little intimacies, and memories of 
experience, or a word of the personnel of the 
old times, will arouse a train of memories that 
will trail by with their pleasant recollections 
for a number of hours. And it might interest 
some of the newer people of the community. 

All the cowboys of the time knew Kale La- 
Grange, as a "squaw man" along with Hi 
Kelly. Nick Genice, and Frank Vallet. It was 
over a score of years ago that LaGrange quit 
the western range and went back to his old 
home in Iowa, and afterwards married a white 
woman. 

Kale's mother, old timers all remember 
"Aunt Delia," was a much married woman. I 
think she had buried a round half dozen hus- 
bands, before she met Tommy Chanavierre 
(Shunover) and in the late eighties Tommy 
was her spouse — the one we knew. Tommy 
was the one whose pride of ancestry runs 
back to the time when Marchioness La Pom- 
padour was spreading the French Empire over 
the western world, but to us he was merely a 
jolly old Frenchman, who liked to talk with 
his hands, his shoulders and otherwise, and 
who, merely for the love of activity and so- 
ciety, went visiting about the country in "dat 
old buckboard," with "dem old plug." "Shun- 
over" died in Iowa. I am not advised if 
"Aunt Delia" survived to marry again. 



CHAPTER IX 

CREIGHTON'S — THE FIRST RANCH OF ALL — DEATH OF CREEL IN BULL 
CANYON — TOM KANE'S ADVENTURE — A COWBOY WEDDING 



After the loss of his cattle on Rush creek in 
1865, John A. Creighton decided to get out of 
the lines of the regular raids of Indians. It 
seemed that their north and south line of 
travel centered in the territory east of Court 
I [ouse rock. 

It will be observed also that this line was 
the path of the buffalo at an earlier date, and 
it later became the route of the travelers into 
the gold field of the Black Hills, where Henry 



T. Clarke's steel lined stages went over the old 
toll bridge. Now the travel is by motor, or 
over the Burlington. 

Creighton went west up Gonneville or 
Pumpkin creek. Then over to Horse creek, 
and up to the Laramie Plains. Here he built 
a substantial set of ranch buildings, securing 
the materials from the Laramie mountains. 

From this beginning in 1867, originally for 
the protection of his bull herds, the great 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Creighton ranch was born. He was first in the 
work of tying the east and west with wires 
and electric communication, so was he first in 
all Wyoming and western Nebraska to go into 
the cow business. The Creighton ranch opera- 
tions extended and establishments were built 
on Horse creek and Pumpkin creek, and his 
ten or twelve thousand cattle roamed the 
ranges of the east half of Wyoming and the 
western part of Nebraska. The half-circle- 
bar brand, of the very early days, developed 
into the quarter-circle-block, generally called 
"circle-block" in the later years. 

Pumpkin creek ranch became the "Home 
Ranch" after its acquisition by the Bay State, 
and the name Pumpkin creek, in place of 
Gonneville creek, rose in usage, as the wild 
vegetable which provoked it gradually disap- 
peared. The range cattle were very fond of 
the product, and the vine, and the very roots 
of the vine, were stamped out by the cattle 
trying to get more of the tasty verbiage. 

The "Home Ranch" is woven into song and 
story by cowboys. It can be made to apply to 
any Home Ranch anywhere in the universe, 
and there was a song that had the run on the 
ranges when I came into the west which was 
entitled "Pumpkin Creek's My Home." 

Bull Canyon is an arroyo that leads down 
from the Flowerfield Swell to the lower tables 
at the head of Pumpkin creek, and it was once 
the rendezvous of freighters' bulls used on the 
Black Hills route. 

These animals were not always enduring, 
and they required periods of rest. A man 
named Creel decided he would make a busi- 
ness of handling the tired cattle until they 
should be able to resume the burden of the 
yoke. 

Bull canyon was unnamed and unappro- 
priated, and there was an abundance of water, 
and the nearness of the range to Cheyenne 
made it a desirable spot for the purpose. So 
Creel built his crude cabin and rode about 
looking after the herd of bulls. 

The Good Book says something about it not 
being good for man to dwell alone, but I do 
not think that had anything to do with the fact 
that Creel, on one of his visits to Cheyenne, 
brought back with him a woman. 

This woman had no thought of remaining 
alone in the solitudes. The sight of the great 
herd of cattle, and the isolation put into her 
head the thought of independence sudden and 
swift. She pointed out to Creel that it would 
be easy to get away with the cattle and out of 
the country long before the probability of be- 
ing discovered. The plan failed, and Creel 



was killed, and Bull Canyon became only a 
name and a memory. 

Tom Kane used to run the ranges of the 
Pumpkin creek country. Kane was known in 
Sidney in the early days. One day he had a 
brush with the Indians, and escaped into the 
rushes on the creek bank ten miles east of 
Wild Cat mountain, where he lay three days 
caring for his wound before he managed to 
get away. 

And from that fact, occurring about 1874, 
the point of rock that extends into the valley 
just west of Wright's Gap became known as 
Kane's Point. This part of the Wild Cat 
range is one of the beauty spots of nature, 
and the long wall of windworn rocks that ex- 
tends from Kane's Point to the northwest, in 
back of Kelly's ranch, resembles the ruins of a 
Frowning City built by hands. 

John Wright came to Pumpkin creek from 
Horse creek in 1877; he earlier resided in 
Colorado. Finding some rich, unappropriated 
natural meadows in the vicinity of Kane's 
Point, he settled down and proceeded to ac- 
cumulate cattle. It was adjoining the Wright 
ranch that I located a homestead in the mid- 
dle eighties, and I remember meeting John 
Wright shortly after. 

He was driving by, and stopped to watch me 
turn over the sod with my grasshopper break- 
er. , In the course of our conversation I said 
that it would be a mighty good thing if the 
grangers and the cowmen could dwell together 
in harmony. John exclaimed that I was the 
first granger that he had ever heard say such 
a thing, and asked me why I thought so. I 
told him that I thought the cowmen would fur- 
nish a home market for the product of the 
granger, to which he agreed. 

We were marked for good friends, Wright 
and I, and we always were glad to meet each 
other. I am sure that it was a sincere friend- 
ship. 

About the first event of any consequence that 
occurred after my coming into the west was a 
cowboy wedding. 

Miss Alice (Dude) Wright was John 
Wright's oldest daughter. Ed A. Boots was 
with a cow outfit for the Bay State, and he 
and Miss Wright were married at the home of 
the Wrights, on Pumpkin creek. The event 
brought friends for five hundred miles. 

Elder Stephens was then located at Sidney, 
and he was retained to perform the ceremony. 
"Retained" is probably a legal expression, but 
when you bring a minister sixty or seventy 
miles into a country, I take it that it is proper 
to "retain" him. 

The Wrights had some homemade rhubarb 



106 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



wine, and in the early prodigal way of the 
west, a dish pan full of this was set out on the 
table for use of any who desired to partake. 
It was said that they even insisted that the 
Elder take some, and that he did touch it to 
his lips. This was taken as evidence that he 
did not hold himself above his associations, 
and there were few boys on the range that 
would not swear by Elder Stephens. He was 
a powerful influence for good in the early west. 

The wine was a little light for some of them, 
and they surreptitiously emptied their flasks 
into the beverage. The result was that it grew 
stronger as the evening waned. 

W. J. Kelly, who recently died in Denver, 
and who was the oldest actual resident of Ban- 
ner county at the time of his death, was there, 
and he took Jim Pogue into the kitchen for 
refreshment. He had Jim to put his lips to 
the edge of the pan, while he tipped it, and 
Jim let the mixed beverage run down his 
throat in considerable quantity. As Pogue 
straightened up, he wiped the tears from his 
eyes, and said: "Bill, I always did have a 
good time when I was with you." 

The groom was a bit nervous, and the boys 
would urge him to "take a bracer and buck 
up. It ain't as bad as it seems," and otherwise 
"jolly" him. Boots usually was a very brave 
man, but the boys' tormenting got on his 
nerves, and he wept during the ceremony, 
which filled the boys with glee. 

After a while someone missed Kelly and Al 
Stringfellow. They went outside and found 



these two worthies playing "andy over" the 
haystack with their six shooters. This was the 
regular pastime for these two after that, 
whenever they met, and were in the proper 
frame of mind. 

The dance continued until morning, and 
when some of them were departing, one made 
a misstep as he meant to swing into the sad- 
dle. The horse swung away, and there he was 
with one foot fastened in the stirrup. The 
wild bronc made a quick swerve, and the man 
swung out clear of him and the ground while 
it ran in a short circle. The quick wit of some 
other cowboy, and his skill, saved the man. 
He dropped a rope over the animal's head, 
and brought it up, head end to the man on the 
ground. 

"Swing your pardners," shouted that worthy, 
as he jumped to his feet. The near tragedies 
of old times were so lightly held and affairs 
that ended well were experiences worth while, 
and compensated fully for the danger involved. 

I often attended the dances given in the old 
Wright school house, and was also at a double 
wedding at Wright's when Ed Wright and 
Miss Elizabeth Osborne, and Henry Heard of 
Texas and Miss Ono Wright were married. 
The country had changed by that time, and it 
was more on the order of weddings usual in 
older communities. Boots now resides at 
Thermopolis, Ed Wright at Morrill, and Henry 
Heard at Long Beach, California. Thus the 
tides of life separate and distribute the peoples 
of the world. 



CHAPTER X 

FIRST RANCH IN NEBRASKA WEST OF NORTH PLATTE, KEITH & BARTON 
H. V. REDINGTON'S RANCH — NERUD'S CORNER — LATER 
SNAKE CREEK RANCHES 



The first to actually engage in ranching in 
western Nebraska, that is west of North Platte, 
was Keith & Barton. Morrill C. Keith was 
grandfather of Ex-Governor Keith Neville, 
and Guy C. Barton was well known in Omaha 
business and club circles for many years. The 
location of their ranch was at O'Fallon's Bluff, 
and about eighteen miles west of North Platte. 
Guy Barton was the originator of the ranch, in 
which Keith soon joined. After Keith and 
Barton, it was owned and operated by Barton 
& Dillon. 



The year that Creighton built his ranch near 
Wyoming station on the Laramie Plains 
(1867), Barton embarked in the sheep busi- 
ness at O'Fallons. In 1868, when Robert 
Harvey was with a surveying party in that 
vicinity, the ranch was not much of an affair. 
But it was the nucleus, and on the site was 
builded the big stone house that still stands. 

John Bratt, later for many years around 
North Platte, came up the Texas Trail in 
1866, and the following year, he built the sec- 
ond ranch in Wyoming on the Laramie Plains, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



107 



but the altitude, and the better grasses in the 
vicinity of North Platte, made a change in his 
plans and he was almost as early in that vicin- 
ity as Keith & Barton. His first ranch there, 
however, was south of the river and east of 
North Platte city, and the high posts a little 
east of the state experiment farm, indicate the 
gateway of the original ranch. He later 
moved to the Birdwood, twenty miles north- 
west of North Platte, on the north side of the 
"North river." 

Next in the order of seniority, but in fact 
the first ranching in the Panhandle of western 
Nebraska, was started by H. V. Redington, in 
1870. 

Mr. Redington still lives at Sidney (1919). 
In 1870 he landed at Sidney, and he located 
his ranch on "Lorren's" fork, about a mile 
from its junction with Gonneville or Pumpkin 
creek. This ranch was not far distant from 
the identical spot where Gonneville, the French 
trapper, lost his life years before. 

The nearest ranch to the westward at that 
time was Creighton's Horse creek ranch — 
over sixty miles. The nearest to the south was 
Iliff's ranch on the South Platte river — sev- 
enty-five miles. And the nearest ranch to the 
east was Keith & Barton's at O'Fallon's — one 
hundred miles. And the whole country to the 
north was Indian land. 

His ranch dates the same year that Coad 
Brothers took over Scottsbluff Stage station 
for their cattle operations, but earlier in the 
year. 

The country along the Platte was a year or 
two later than Mr. Redington in the matter of 
seniority of ranch locations. But north of the 
river into the Black Hills remained Indian 
domain until some years after when gold dis- 
coveries in the Hills brought about a transfor- 
mation. Stage routes from Sidney and Chey- 
enne, and the tremendous freight transporta- 
tion opened up this new country in 1876, and 
later. 

On the south side of the Platte, just a short 
distance below Bridgeport, are some ditches 
that look like rifle pits of the Indian days. 
These are all that remains of the original Hart 
ranch in western Nebraska. The trenches 
were made around hay stacks in the place of 
fences, and were to keep range cattle away 
from them, which it did very successfully. 
The later location of the Hart ranch, on Snake 
creek, was about one and one-half miles up 
the creek from the Sidney crossing. This 
ranch branched into mercantile business and 
had a post-office. 

This location later became known as Nerud's 
corner, and the four corners were occupied by 



different branches of business. A timely wag 
immortalized them in verse that ran as fol- 
lows : 

Nerud's corner, 

Baxter Street, 

Foster's restaurant, 

And nothing to eat. 

Joe Nerud had long since become the owner 
of a valuable place on Snake creek. He had 
the blacksmith's shop at the Corners in the 
early days. 

Old Joe frequently comes to Scottsbluff to 
trade, but an indiscreet joker has made his 
visits less frequent than of yore. His country 
is naturally tributary to Scottsbluff, and his 
son, Young Joe, married one of the Scotts- 
bluff's charming girls, Matilda Montz. 

Old Joe was here a number of years ago, 
and at the time the bootlegger, Bill Bowen, 
was doing business. Like most old timers, Ne- 
rud likes a nip now and then, and if the 
weather is just right he may take two. Bill 
had the goods, and it just so happened that the 
chief of police was hot on his trail, and had 
him pulled for a "vag." 

Bill was a pitiful object of humanity and 
Nerud's sympathies were aroused. He told 
the officers of the law that he would take Bill 
out to the ranch, if they would let him off. 
The humor of the situation was too great to 
be resisted, and he was put into the wagon 
alongside of Joe. and sent out to Snake creek. 

I cannot say what brought about the trans- 
formation in Nerud's sentiment, but the fact 
is, that a day or two later, Bill Bowen arrived 
on the Burlington with a paid in advance 
passage from Angora, and he did not have a 
cent when he left Scottsbluff. 

A man is not to be censured if he changes 
his mind. Wise men have that privilege — 
and no one would blame any man, who in an 
impulse of sympathy or sentiment should pick 
up a bug, if he should decide, when he came to 
an analytical study of the insect, that he had 
no further use for it. A kind heart only would 
take the trouble of returning it to the spot 
from which he had taken it. 

Pearson's ranch was one of the later places 
on Snake creek, and he needed more range and 
came into the hills about three miles north of 
the west end of Lake Alice, where he estab- 
lished a camp — as a sub-station for the 
ranch. These sub-stations consist usually of a 
well and windmill and a set of watering tanks. 
Sometimes a small shack and corral is added. 
This sub-station of the Pearson ranch was the 
only watering place between Snake creek and 
the' North Platte river. 



108 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



When Pearson sold to Billy Haynes, he re- 
served this sub-station for his own use. 

Pearson had two daughters, and the oldest, 
Alma, married Joe Maycock and they went to 
Lusk to live. She did not live very long — 
only a couple years, I believe, and then Joe 
married the younger daughter, Mamie. 

A few years ago they removed to Canada, 
where Joe has since died. 

The 'Maycock brothers were among the cow- 
boys when the grangers began to arrive. For 
when the contingent that settled old Tabor 
(now Minatar'e) landed in the valley, John 
Maycock was the first to greet them. He at once 
"spread the alarm" up and down the valley 
for manv miles. 

Virgil' Grout and Captain W. R. Akers were 
building their first irrigation ditch over the 
Wyoming line, when they saw John coming, 
riding like the wind, and when he got in hear- 
ing distance he commenced to shout the news : 
"There is a whole colony settling on the river 
down below Scottsbluff, and they have brought 
along everything, even a postoffice." This lat- 
ter was, of course, an invention or imagina- 
tion, but all who knew John Maycock are not 
surprised at this — in fact it was moderation. 
Some years later John Maycock dropped dead 
from his horse in the sage brush of central 
Wyoming, and there was another on the Final 
Roundup. 

Mike Elmore's ranch was down Snake creek 
a few miles from the old Sidney crossing. 
This well known place has passed into the 
hands of the big grading outfit, Kilpatrick 
Brothers, who use it for wintering horses. 
They built a large reservoir on the creek run- 
ning sheet piling down into the substrata to 
raise the underflow for a supply for irrigation. 
The experiment was only partly successful. 
They did increase the supply a small amount, 
but not nearly so much as they had expected. 
Mike Elmore was recently ' (1919) killed at 
Sheridan, Wyoming, by being struck with a 
passing automobile. 

Wilbur L. Wallace went to Snake creek in 
1S87, and located near the old Hart ranch. He 
also needed more range than was obtainable 
near there and he came into the Lake Alice 
country, and established a sub-station about a 
mile northwest of the Pearson wells, Wallace's 
wells then became a watering place for many 
travelers. In due time. Wallace's business took 
him to Scottsbluff, and he and his family have 
resided in that city for about all the life of the 
municipality. He is now a heavy dealer in 
livestock for range or feeding purposes and 
in banking business at Henry (1919). 

John Caddis located on Snake creek at the 



same time that Wallace went there, and his 
daughter Nellie, who later became Mrs. Wal- 
lace, and together they have followed the trail 
of human events, and shared the joys and re- 
sponsibilities for over a quarter. of a century. 

Turner Harris come into the Snake creek 
country in 1888, and went over to Mud Springs 
for his selection. This place also developed 
and became a postoffice. Were it not for this, 
the postoffice department and the Burlington 
railroad would be asked to change the name of 
meaningless "Simla" to "Mud Springs." As 
that railroad station south of Bridgeport is the 
location of the famous Mud Springs of his- 
tory. 

The Mud Springs in Sioux county soon 
passed to the hands of the Schoonovers, and 
they in turn sold it to Ed Eastman. Eastman 
used to live at Minatare, and was identified 
in the story of Jimmy Moore, related else- 
where. 

Eastman wanted more land, and Mrs. East- 
man secured a divorce on very good grounds 
of periodical intoxication. She then took a 
claim near his land, and in due time made final 
proof. Then Mr. and Mrs. Eastman secured a 
license and went before a magistrate to re- 
marry. 

The judge noticed that the names were both 
Eastman, and he asked some question about it. 
Mrs. Eastman told him that they had been 
previously married, and he wanted to know 
why they had been divorced. She told him, 
honestly, that she had secured a divorce on the 
grounds of drunkenness. The humor of the 
affair was that at the time of the second wed- 
ding, she might have had ample grounds for a 
second divorce on the same complaint. 

John Maycock bought out Eastman after a 
few years, and the place finally went to Joe 
Schramek, who sold it to Chas. Loucomer, the 
present owner. 

Below the Elmore ranch on Snake creek, 
Billy Haines was known to many of the later 
people. He had bought out Frank Harris, Will 
Benn, Iperhope and some others, and made 
quite a ranch. After Billy's death, Mrs. Haines 
sold the ranch to Wilson brothers. Doc. Wil- 
son was quite active for a time, but the ranch 
finally went to Scotty Henderson. Scotty has 
been in the Snake creek for a third of a cen- 
tury, and is the present owner of the valuable 
ranch, the history of which runs back to al- 
most the beginning of the cow business in this 
part of the west. 

Jim McKinney was also upon this creek 
some distance below the Elmore ranch. Mc- 
Kinney sold out and went into the creamery 
business at Alliance. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XI 



COLONEL CHARLES COFFEE OF CREIGHTON'S, BOX ELDER, ROCK RANCH, 

HAT CREEK AND CHADRON — EMMET & BREWSTER — ARREST 

OF FLY SPECK BILL — FIRST GARDENS IN SIOUX COUNTY 



The Texas trail has brought many a good 
man into the western range country, and it 
did not depart from the custom when Colonel 
Charles Coffee arrived in 1873, at the Creigh- 
ton ranch on Horse creek. Charlie was quite a 
fellow to "play his own hand," so he soon 
went over on the Box Elder in the Goshen 
Holes and built his initial ranch on the north- 
ern range. 

The following year he went to the river, for 
hay and grasses of the Goshen Holes then 
made rather short picking for the stock in win- 
ter. Around the Rock ranch location, then 
as now, there were some excellent meadows. 
The summer range around there was good, 
and the valley produced good hay for winter. 
This brought about the building of the ranch 
at that point about 1877. 

The earlier years had witnessed activity in 
the same vicinity. Carleton Clinton tells us 
that the original name was Stone ranch, from 
the fact that a southerner first located it, that 
his name was Stone, and that he brought 
north with him a number of slaves, and lived 
there for a time. Clinton has not given us his 
authority, and we have been unable to con- 
vince ourselves that slavery has ever existed in 
the North Platte valley. None of the chron- 
iclers of events along the Overland trail has 
mentioned it, and the trail fell into disuse 
about the time or shortly after slavery was 
abolished. 

The overland stage and the pony express 
had a stopping place near the present ranch, 
and the meadows were used for supplying 
feed for their stock. But I am conviced that 
Rock ranch as a ranch- came into existence, 
almost simultaneously with the abandonment 
of the old Red Cloud agency. Stealing stock, 
particularly horses, by the Indians was com- 
mon at that time. 

The horses of Charles Coffee were so stolen, 
except a few of the most useless, and the 
work of building the original rock house on 
this ranch was principally by hand. The 
rocks were torn out of the hills close at hand 
and wheeled by hand to the site, where they 
were laid up in alkali gumbo. The barn, pre- 
viously built, was west of the house, the house 
was provided with port-holes commanding a 
view of the barn, for the purpose of prevent- 
ing the success of any further Indian raids 



upon the stock. The original building is 
the north part of the present Rock house, and 
the port-holes are filled in with masonry. 

Sometime before the building of this ranch, 
or about 1876, Coffee was at Ogallala, and in 
company with a man named Gordon, who is 
the father of the Gordon in the Gordon Con- 
. struction Company. They had what was call- 
ed, "The Wild West Exchange" at Ogallala 
at this time, and here the boys challanged one 
another for feats of doing or daring char- 
acteristic of the Wild West. Someone had 
captured a young buffalo, and had it properly 
confined. While generally the talk was of 
horses, and Gordon was expostulating concern- 
ing the merit of his horse, as a racer, Coffee 
told him his horse was not so much, that he 
could beat it and ride the buffalo. That na- 
turally led to an expression of doubt as to 
whether the young Texan could stick to the 
animal. 

Gordon and Coffee met only a few days 
ago, and when Gordon sprung the old incident, 
Charlie said: "The boys told me that I had 
a pretty good time at that affair, and looking 
myself over in the grey light of the morning 
after, I am confident that they were right." 
He had ridden the buffalo, but there were a 
few indications that the buffalo might have 
stepped on Charlie sometime during the per- 
formance. 

At the time they were at Ogallala, a noted 
character named "Fly Speck Bill." his face 
being well spotted with freckles that had the 
appearance of fly specks, had been appre- 
hended and placed in the city jail. But the 
jail was a flimsy affair, and failed to hold him 
for long. A day or two later, as Coffee was 
leaving Sidney for the north on the stage, Bill 
was found to be one of the passengers. At 
Camp Clarke they separated, and Charlie did 
not see him again until the following year. 

He had then just stolen John Durbin's horse 
at Cheyenne and was making his get-away. 
Here he obtained a good look at the man and 
sensed his identity, although he did not make 
himself known. 

Sometime later, when in Cheyenne, Coffee 
met Billy Likens, the redoubtable man that run 
down Doc. Middleton about the same time, 
and Likens asked if he knew "Fly Speck Bill." 
Being assured, he asked Coffee if he would 



110 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



point him out, as he had reason to believe the 
horsethief was in town. 

They went into the Tivola saloon, then on 
the corner west of the old Inter-Ocean hotel, 
and the man was sitting at one of the tables. 
Likens pressed a gun muzzle against the back 
of his neck and said : "Fly Speck Bill, you are 
my meat." The arrest proved a tame affair, 
for the man merely glanced at the officer, and 
threw up his hands, saying: "Oh, all right!" 

By this time the Coads had laid claim to 
about all of the North Platte valley, east of 
Scottsbluff mountain. They had put fences 
in the gaps in the hills, and had some pole 
bars in Mitchell Gap. 

Among early ranchmen, a custom had sprung 
up to respect the calves belonging to another, 
and if a cow and calf were found in a herd, 
off of their proper range, it was customary to 
put on the calf the brand of the real owner. 
Coad early refused to follow the custom, and 
the calves of other fellows found in his herds 
were left unbranded. 

One time a calf belonging to the Coads 
crawled through the bars, into Mitchell val- 
ley, and was found by a bunch of fellows from 
higher up the river. That Coads might under- 
stand the custom, they singed the hair on one 
side of the calf with big letters "M-A-R-K" 
and on the other side "C-O-A-D," Coad did 
not like it, but he took the hint. 

By 1879 the North Platte valley had become 
' too tame for Colonel Coffee, he determined to 
try the wilderness once more. Near the pres- 
ent site of Ardmore, on Hat creek, he found 
Hugh Jackson. He told Hugh that he was 
looking for a new location, and with the 
courtesy of the first cowmen, he asked Jack- 
son if he would like a neighbor. Being assured 
that he would be welcome, Coffee went up Hat 
creek, looking for a suitable place. He esti- 
mated his speed, and took note of the time by 
his watch, until he had reached, as he thought, 
about fifteen miles — that being a neighborly 
distance. 

There he and his wife and boys, Charles T. 
Jr., the youngest was only six months old, set- 
tled down in a cabin on what proved to be sec- 
tion fourteen, township thirty-three, range fifty- 
five. There the O-Ten-Bar brand and ranch 
was born. Coffee still has the place, and twen- 



ty-two thousand acres around it, vast herds of 
cattle, a bank in Chadron, and various other 
matters to occupy his attention. 

Granville Tinnin is the hero in the pretty 
story, "The Foreman of the JAC. This ranch 
is on the Rawhide, and is partly owned by 
Coffee, who has often told Mrs. E. Joy John- 
son, the writer, that she made a hero out of 
the wrong partner. I presume Tinnin would 
take issue with his producer on this matter. 

About the same time that the Hat creek 
ranch was located, Emmet & Brewster estab- 
lished the S-Bar-E brand twelve miles farther 
west. Two of the hangers on about the 
S-Bar-E ranch were "Whitney Jim," and 
"Trapper Tom," and they built an independent 
cabin on a branch of Hat creek, where they 
could follow their own inclinations wittiout in- 
terference. Jim had an inclination, or pro- 
pensity, for strong drink, and a pronounced 
aversion to cleanliness. In season he would 
gather a wagon box full of wild plums, take 
them to Fort Laramie, and come back amply 
provided with booze, which Tom would help 
him to consume. They had interesting times 
trying to put each other to bed, when in this 
maudlin state, both maintaining with the dig- 
nity of intoxication that the other was drunk. 

Tom captured hundreds of beaver, and sold 
the pelts for one dollar each, which supplied 
all that was necessary during the winter peri- 
ods. The pair originated farming into the 
northwestern corner of the state — they raised 
gardens and potatoes usually sufficient for their 
needs. 

The different branches of Hat creek and 
White river began to take on the euphoneous 
names of early days, such as "Dirty Jim 
Creek," "Sow-belly Creek," "Tom Creek," 
"War Bonnet Creek," and the like, and Cof- 
fee's ranch, after he had removed to Chadron 
and the kangaroo rats made merry around the 
place, was nick-named "Lickit ranch." While 
the place was abandoned part of the time, it 
was kept well provisioned. Sometimes those 
who were there for a day or two, left without 
washing the dishes, and one time, when some 
others had stopped and found the dirty plates, 
one complained and another said : "Why don't 
you 'lick it', if you don't like it." Thus orig- 
inated the name that endures. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



111 



CHAPTER XII 

JOHN ADAMS JOINS REDINGTON IN FIRST RANCH OF THE PANHANDLE- 
THE RUSTLERS — ORIGIN OF RANCHES ON CEDAR CREEK— SMITH'S 
FORK OR RUSH CREEK — VANTASSEL'S TIE CONTRACT 



In 1874, John M. Adams, allured by the big 
profits then apparent in the cattle business, the 
Indian depredations having practically ceased, 
came to Sidney, and formed a partnership with 
H. V. Redington, under the name of Adams, 
Redington & Company, at the ranch near the 
junction of "Gonneville" creek and Lorren's 
fork, about a mile south of the present location 
of Redington. Their range included the lower 
Pumpkin creek country and Lawrence fork. 
Adams in a recent letter tells of it, and em- 
phasizes the name "Lorren's fork," explaining 
its original significance. "Lorren's," of French 
derivation, indicates robbers, and the rocks 
about the head of this stream were once the 
rendezvous of a band of robbers, who preyed 
upon the unprotected stragglers along the 
Overland. Adams, Redington & Company ran 
4,000 to 6,000 cattle, and their principal and 
best known brand was H-Bar. 

The Greenwood ranch of Tusler Brothers 
was one of the well known spots along the 
Sidney trail. Merchant & Wheeler built this 
about 1872, and it was operated as a horse 
ranch when I first knew of it. 

I was then new to the ways of the west. 
Clark Streeter, who had been ranging cattle 
on Medicine creek, south of North Platte until 
the grangers came into that territory, and I, 
were riding to the North river country, when 
we arrived at the Tusler ranch a little after 
noon. We dropped our bridle reins over the 
heads of our tired beasts, and walked to the 
door and asked if we could get dinner. A lady 
told us "No, we never feed travelers," and 
she no doubt meant it. The travel along the 
route was doubtless quite extensive and they 
had adopted the system. We asked how far it 
was to the next ranch, and she stepped outside 
to show us the road. Seeing our horses and 
accoutrements, she exclaimed : "Oh, you are 
cowboys, are you ? Well, come right in, and 
we will find a bite for you." 

I was not then a cowboy, but I was young 
and hungry, and Streeter was audacious and 
hungry, and we went "right in." While we 
were eating, the lady asked us a question that 
would have floored me, but Clark had been a 
little longer in the west. She asked : "What 
outfit do you belong to?" 

"We are working independent," answered 
Clark promptly. "We are looking for cows 



branded 'L,' on the left shoulder, and some 
Oregon mares that got away and started back 
along the trail." 

I told you Streeter was audacious, but he 
went it stronger than I could have imagined. 
I was later informed that there was this much 
truth to his reply: The cows he used to run 
were branded "L" on the left shoulder; also 
several years before his father had bought a 
bunch of Oregon mares, and some of them 
had gotten away, and never came back. 

C. C. Nelson and Dr. Geo. C. Keenan bought 
this ranch, and I think they own it now 
(1919). Keenan was a brother of Mrs. Tus- 
ler. 

A letter from Adams tells of the hospiltality 
of the early ranchers, but we are inclined, from 
our first experience, to think that this hospi- 
tality had its limitations to the ranch class ; 
that the only way to reach this hearty hospita- 
ble nature, was to bear "some of the earmarks 
of a range critter." 

Adam's letter says : "at these ranches, the 
truest and freest of hospitalities prevailed, and 
the way-farers and weary travelers were al- 
ways welcome to any and all comforts and nec- 
essities that the abode could furnish for man 
or beast. In fact each ranch was supplied with 
the necessities of life in abundance and the 
way-farer was welcome to help himself with- 
out awaiting the presence of, or asking the 
consent of the owner or his representative. This 
practice was continued until the county settled 
up more thickly, and the abuses of such gen- 
erous courtesies caused the stockmen to discon- 
tinue their liberalities to some extent. 

"The ranchmen learned to have in their out- 
laying ranches, only such things as they could 
have locked up, nailed down, or otherwise 
guarded from petty pilferers, and malicious and 
unseemly jokers." 

Tusler ran about two thousand cattle and 
one thousand horses, and the ranch brand was 
Sixty-six on the left side, and cow animals were 
also marked with dewlaps on the brisket. 

In 1885, Elijah Tusler was riding in a pri- 
vate car of an official of the Union Pacific, 
when it arrived at Sidney. Yielding to the 
importunities of "the bunch" on board, Tus- 
ler remained on the car after it left for the 
west. Before it arrived at Potter, he stepped 
out on the rear platform, and not returning as 



11. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



quickly as the party thought he should, an- 
other opened the door, and on the platform 
lay the form of Tusler. He was quite dead, 
apparently from heart disease, and was taken 
back to Sidney, from which point the fact was 
communciated to the widow at the ranch. 

"Ark" or "Henry County" Hughes was 
working for the Tusler people at the time. 
Hughes had come up from the mines of Colo- 
rado in 18S0. He went to work on the Tus- 
ler ranch in 1883, and remained there for four 
years. In the meantime he had "picked out" 
a place on Horse Creek, where he established 
his own ranch and range. 

The Tusler cattle were sold to the Ogallala 
company, and the Greenwood ranch continued 
in the horse business a number of years. 
Charlie Nelson, a veteran of the other years, 
still operates it (1919), and it is worth while 
to start him reminiscensing, and hear story 
after story follow as he leads out like a hound 
upon a trail. 

On Cedar creek, which the earlier maps 
designate as Rush creek, C. A. Moore built a 
ranch in the early seventies. The Shiedley 
Brothers bought this place for their North 
river operations. Mac Radcliff now owns it. 
The first convention that I ever attended in 
western Nebraska, was at Sidney, and Mac 
Radcliff was the nominee of the democratic 
party for county commissioner of old Cheyenne 
county. 

The Rush creek shown on the maps today, 
was originally called Smith's Fork. Moore had 
from one thousand to two thousand cattle and 
his range extended from the mouth of Smith's 
Fork to the ranch. 

When the Shiedley Brothers acquired this 
ranch, Moore went into the mercantile busi- 
ness. He established a big supply depot at 
Sidney for ranch supplies and Black Hills out- 
fitting. And at one time the sod emporium at 
the north end of the Camp Clarke bridge was 
owned by Moore. 

Just at what time, and how it came about, 
that Rush creek was changed Cedar creek, and 
Smith's Fork was changed to Rush creek, I 
do not know, but this explanation has served 
to clear up some of the foggy ideas concern- 
ing locations of Indian battles and other early 
historic events. Modern maps give these 
streams the later designations. 

On the head of Smith's Fork, Lambert Jen- 
kins of Sidney, began building his ranch struc- 
tures in 1873. The widow of Jim Moore, the 
pony express rider, having some means, ac- 
quired an interest in this ranch, which she 
sold at the time of her moving to Cheyenne to 
become Mrs. VanTassel. Tom Kane purchased 



her interests, and Henry Newman also took a 
part in the ranch's destinies. Then a number 
of railroad men organized a company, and 
bought the entire outfit, and put George Green 
in charge. They were succeeded by Reuben 
Lisco, and the late Thos. Wells of Chicago. 
Under the latter ownership the Rush Creek 
Land & Cattle Company has remained under 
the direct charge of Mr. Lisco until the pres- 
ent time. 

This ranch was owned by many and differ- 
ent firms, but I am not advised that the own- 
ership was always satisfactory to the owners. 
I will venture the opinion that when Lambert 
Jenkins sold it, he did so at a profit ; and that 
under the present ownership it has been well 
managed and is one of the solid affairs of the 
kind. 

R. S. VanTassel, of Cheyenne, who married 
Mrs. Jim Moore, was, and still is, for that 
matter, one of the most lively wires that evel 
came into the west. He started in the territory 
of Wyoming, and it has ever since been his 
home. He was unlike Post and some others 
that "Cut quite a swath" for a time and then 
went on to other fields. His field has always 
been Wyoming, although at the time this ii 
written (1916) he is in a hospital in Denver, 
attended by his present faithful and charming 
wife. I say "present" for the reason that he 
has been married four times. Once before 
his uniting with Mrs. Moore, and twice since. 
The first two died, and the third, who was an 
excellent woman and the daughter of Big Alex 
Swan, is divorced because of incompatibility of 
temperament. 

Mr. VanTassel came with the Union Pacific, 
and he took a contract to supply that company 
with a million and a quarter ties at a million 
and a quarter dollars, in 1867. These ties were 
to be taken from the land grant and govern- 
ment lands in the Medicine Bow mountains, 
and delivered at a station called Medicine Bow. 
to be located on the railroad near the edge of 
the Laramie Plains. 

During the winter large camps of wood 
choppers were maintained, and they piled up 
the ties along the gulches and frozen streams 
to await the spring freshets. Then came the 
work of "booming ties," one of the perilous, 
daring and strength-testing undertakings in the 
west. Men were detailed to keep the ties from 
jamming, and to break jams should they occur. 
At Medicine Bow, a string of ties fastened to- 
gether stretched across the stream, and work- 
men pulled the floating ties ashore and piled 
them up in great ricks as fast as they came 
down to this obstruction. A man was here de- 
tailed to mark them and two men kept tally of 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



113 



the marked ties. The marks were made by a 
hammer on one end of which was the letter 
"S" for identification in the wood. The other 
end of the hammer was smooth. The two 
score keepers were selected, one by the Union 
Pacific and the owner by Mr. VanTassel. 

One of these chanced to be John Snodgrass, 
later identified with the Bay State Company. A 
wily little Irishman was detailed to use the 
hammer and as the strokes resounded, the 



score-keepers would record — one — two — three 
— four — tally, etc., etc. It developed that about 
every other tap that the Irishman made, was 
with the smooth end of the hammer on a tie 
already marked or next to be marked. So that 
for a while the Union Pacific was receiving 
only about half the ties that they paid for. I 
did not learn whether the Irishman got fired or 
promoted, but he "sure" was making money for 
R. U. VanTassel while it lasted. 



CHAPTER XIII 

JIM KIDD'S TRAINING GROUND — Y-CROSS AND CHERRY CREEK RANCHES 

— HENHY COUNTY HUGHES — LITTLE MOON POST-OFFICE — 

OELRICH'S WILD ESCAPADES 



About four miles north of La Grange for- 
merly was the old Y-Cross ranch. It is one 
of the oldest places in the country. It was 
built by the Daters early in the seventies, not 
long after those Texans had established the 
Sixty-six. Ben Morrison ran the ranch for 
the Daters, and it was under him that Jim 
Kidd became a wonderful rider. So wonder- 
ful indeed was his skill in the saddle that he 
traveled with Buffalo Bill's wild west show 
around the world, and finally he married one 
of the women riders of that aggregation. Lowe 
bought the place from Daters, and Hi Kelly 
once owned it. In 1888 it was a sort of a 
road house, where mighty poor meals were 
served for "six bits a throw." About 1900 it 
was bought by the Yoders, and is now the 
ranch of Yoder and Marsh. 

I was then bound for the Big Horn Basin. 
When I crossed the Goshen Holes it was one 
of those queer mirage days, when everything 
was a shimmer, and everything unreal. I 
passed within a mile or so of the Cherry Creek 
ranch, originated by Coffee in 1874, owned by 
Doty in 1888, and now belonging to the Clays. 
I am sure that the solid ground on which the 
ranch stands then appeared to be one vast in- 
land sea, and boats floating upside down. 
Charles Coffee built the first structures of this 
ranch, Doty & Chamberlain enlarged it, and in 
1886 they had a splitup. Chamberlain closed 
out his interests and went to Douglas, from 
which city he was elected to the State Senate. 
He made a lot of money in the sheep busi- 
ness later. Doty held to the place for twelve 



years, when he sold to the Two-Bar people. 
Both Doty and Chamberlain are now with the 
Final Roundup over the Great Divide. 

The ranch is still owned by the Clays, and 
Curtis Templeton is the genial local manager. 

"Henry County" Hughes has his ranch in 
this section of the country, although he lives at 
Scottsbluff much of the time. "Henry Coun- 
ty" quit the Tuslers about 1887 and went to 
work for the Bay State. He was in Chris 
Streeks' outfit for a season or two. 

Hughes is like Runey Campbell and Ed. 
Stemler in the respect that he likes to play the 
fiddle, and he is like J. S. Robb, in that he 
was one of the best story-tellers of the western 
range ; and he is like Wyatt Heard, and J. W. 
Hoke, and Auctioneer Hollingsworth or E. von 
Forell, that he is stall and spare, and like 
Mark Twain that his humor is droll and full 
of subtle elements. 

Around cow outfits, at night he loved to 
get strung out with his yarns, and get the "boys 
agoing." But the foreman always settled 
matters when his stories reached too far into 
the night. He would roll up in his "tarp," 
and if "Henry County" failed to take the hint, 
he would say : "Ark, you better catch a horse, 
and go on night herd tonight," and that meant 
an order, and it also meant no more stories 
for that night. 

On lower Horse Creek, at the crossing of 
the Overland Trail, there was an old sod struc- 
ture used by the hurrying pony express riders. 
It was just northwest of this station, that John 
Sparks, in 1872, built a sod house for his men. 



114 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



About the same time he built a similar place on 
the Lodgepole near Potter. 

This Horse Creek ranch house, from de- 
scriptions given by many old timers, and par- 
ticularly by L. J. Wyman, who made it his 
headquarters for years and who owned the 
land until 1919, cannot fail to be of interest 
and historic value. 

It was twenty-four by twenty-six feet in- 
side, and the walls were thirty inches thick. It 
had three windows and a door. The door was 
made of plank, and the windows had shutters 
made of plank, which were hauled from a saw- 
mill located in the Laramie mountains. This 
was the same mill that supplied much of the 
material used in the buildings at Fort Laramie. 
The floor and roof board were double, and on 
the roof was placed several inches of dirt. 

Four port-holes were in the walls, one on 
each of the four sides, made in the manner 
of an hour glass placed in a horizontal posi- 
tion, to give a wide range of territory in case 
of an Indian attack. We have no record that 
it was ever attacked. The Red Cloud agency 
was then on the spot where the Lower PF now 
stands, but it was moved fifty miles or more 
to the north in 1876. 

In this soddy there was a post-office estab- 
lished, the first in Scotts Bluff county territory, 
and William Lancaster was the first post- 
master. It was called "Little Moon," after a 
noted Indian chief. When the post-office was 
established, the soddy was enlarged to make 
room for it, although it did not take much 
room. It must have been abandoned about 
1874, for Lancaster resigned and returned to 
the eastern part of the state, and went into 
the drug business. 

The house faced the southeast. In addition 
Mr. Sparks had about two acres, enclosed by 
a sod wall, three feet thick and five feet high. 
He also fenced a meadow of about one hun- 
dred and sixty acres, and some of the posts are 
still in use after nearly fifty years. This ranch 
was sold to W. C. Lane and Thomas Sturgis 
in 1876. Mr. Sparks moved to Nevada, where 
he later became governor. While he was here 
he owned a valuable riding horse which he 
kept for his wife, for prior to her death she 
loved to ride the great prairies. After his de- 
parture the horse was in charge of Jim Shaw, 
"Fiddler" Campbell's buddy, and was kept at 
the Circle Arrow east of Antelopville, now 
called Kimball, and at the Circle Block at 
the head of Pumpkin Creek. 

Once S. J. Robb, (the father of Mrs. Frank 
McCreary of Scottsbluff,) who was then fore- 
man at the Circle Block, and who recently died 
in Arizona, was riding "Old Fox," as the 



horse was called, when he came upon a bunch 
of wild horses. Old Fox so quickly overtook 
them that Robb did not have time to get his 
lariat into action. He seized one of them by 
the tail, and threw her off her step, and so de- 
layed her progress, that another cowman on 
a slower horse, roped and captured a pretty 
young mare. 

A little before, and during the trouble of 
Jim Shaw over the Collins shooting affair at 
Camp Clarke bridge, the horse was taken care 
of by Chris Streeks, the veteran "line rider," 
and Old Fox was the favorite riding horse 
of the young lady who later became the wife 
of the writer of this history. The horse was 
Kentucky bred, and was of such fine spirit 
that after getting settled in Nevada, Mr. 
Sparks had him shipped to that state. 

L. J. Wyman, went to work for Sturgis & 
Lane in 1882, and he made his home in the 
famous old soddy for years. He owned the 
place until this year (1919) and has the dis- 
tinction of being very nearly the first perma- 
nent settler in Scotts Bluff county. Charley 
Foster contests with him this honor, and he 
may have a short time the best of it. 

Sturgis & Lane organized the Union Cattle 
Company, and Mr. Goodell was one of the big 
stockholders. The Bridle-Bit brand was 
theirs, and it was one familiar to the early 
grangers. This company is credited with hir- 
ing men from the Union Pacific shops at 
Cheyenne, and the women of the wild district, 
as well as cowboys, to file upon lands. Be 
that as it may, it secured a vast acreage, much 
of which will come under the Fort Laramie 
government canal for irrigation. 

About five thousand acres of this land was 
on lower Horse Creek in Nebraska, and a 
"Lincoln Land Company," of Minnesota was 
negotiating for its purchase in 1907, when the 
news came that the "Lincoln Land Company" 
of Nebraska, had purchased the stock of the 
corporation, thereby acquiring the enormous 
acreage in this state, as well as in Wyoming. 

Nearly opposite this ranch, on the other side 
of the North Platte river, was Oelrich's 
ranch. When the Scotchmen were becoming 
excited over the bonanza ranching in the high 
plains region, the Oelrich brothers, Harry and 
Charlie, came out from Cheyenne, and acquired 
a small holding of hay meadows, on the north 
side of the river in the vicinity of the present 
site of Morrill. This they fenced like the 
Sturgis & Lane hay meadows were fenced, with 
native cedar and pitch pine posts, and barbed 
wire. 

There was no bridge at this point, but the 
river was generally in good condition to ford, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



115 



and there was a ford here that was used for a 
great many years. Land seekers looking for 
claims north of the river on the now famous 
Dutch Flats, generally crossed at Oelrich's 
ranch. 

The brothers were of the wild sort of fel- 
lows, and had no conception of the value, or 
the endurance, of horseflesh. Often they 
would make the drive from the ranch to Chey- 
enne in less time than they should, and would 
ruin a good horse or two in the operation. 
Driving out they observed about the same judg- 
ment. They were inclined to indulge in the 
flowing bowl more than discretion would ap- 
prove, and that was perhaps one of the rea- 
sons for their rapid driving. 

This ranch was located about the time the 
Union Cattle Company was inaugurating its 
campaign for separating Uncle Sam of many 
valuable acres of land. The Union Company, 
had a large number of filings made by men who 
were to work in the railroad shops, and by 
women, some of whom it was said had not 
the best of reputations. Some of these claims 
were desert claims where a pretence of devel- 
oping irrigation was possible, and there are 
yet the marks of the old ditches that run up 
and down the hills along Horse Creek, in Wy- 
oming, that were used to make Desert "proof 
of irrigation" to secure patent to the land. 

On the Nebraska sice of the state line, the 
desert land laws did not apply, and the men 
and women filed pre-emptions, expecting to 
make proof after six months alleged residence. 
Some pretense of residence was necessary, 
and the parties would absent themselves from 
their usual haunts at Cheyenne, for a week or 
two. perhaps twice during the six months of 
"residence" on these claims, and they found 
Oelrich's one of the free and easy places, where 
they assembled, when presumed to be residing 
upon their respective clairrs just across the 
river. 

One time Oelrichs had 1 illed a horse in the 
hard ride from Cheyenne, and they were strand- 
ed at the ranch. Hank Ingraham had just been 
up to Fort Laramie, and bought a team of con- 
demned United States horses, and had paid 
thirty-seven dollars for the team. This was 
about 1883. 



Charlie Oelrich ran across Hank on his 
way down the river to the feeding meadows 
in Mitchell Valley, and wanted to buy the team. 
Hank said : "They will cost you four hundred 
dollars." Charlie never hesitated ; he wrote 
him a check and took the team. 

We are told that the men and women, who 
were a little behind their expected schedule, 
and consequently a little short on a few of the 
things that go to make life a merry jest, start- 
ed for Cheyenne with the team going at a rapid 
pace. At the Big Willows on Horse Creek, in 
the Goshen Holes, there was a deep pool, and 
some one suggested that the party stop for a 
swim. This appealed to the popular fancy of 
the party, and the horses were sent forward at 
breakneck speed. On arriving there, those of 
the party were in such haste for the cool, in- 
viting waters of the pool, that they forgot to tie 
the team, with the result that in a smashup that 
followed, one of the horses was killed. The 
other was ridden back to the ranch for a mate, 
while the crowd had abundance of time for 
bathing, and waiting for the return. 

Charlie's wife was an actress, of whom it is 
said that she enjoyed the wild life of the old 
frontier, even though moral standards were 
frequently shattered by her associates. 

The Oelrichs also had a ranch a few miles 
north of Cheyenne, where Talaho rides were 
among the pleasures and pastimes. 

Harry Oelrichs, as manager of the Anglo- 
American Cattle Company, as it was sometimes 
called, received a salary of $25,000.00 a year, 
yet he always started the year about $10,000 00 
in debt. 

Charlie went into the brokerage and commis- 
sion business in New York, and Harry had a 
stroke of paralysis. 

James Gordon Bennett took care of him af- 
ter that, and for eight years before his death 
he was utterly helpless. 

One of the old Two-Bar men tells me that 
Harry, who though not married, was infatu- 
ated with a theatrical celebrity, who frequently 
visited the Oelrich ranches ; namely, Lillian 
Langtry, well known on the stage a generation 
ago. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XIV 



AROUND CAMP WAGONS — A HORSE TRADE WITH DOC. MIDDLETON — 

ARBUCKLE'S BREAK POST— SCOTCHMEN BUY BIG RANCHES 

— TOHN CLAY AND THE TWO-BAR 



Merry making around the camp wagons of 
the round-ups, and in the frontier towns was 
of the cruder sort, if you measure by the stan- 
dards of the effete east. But wags, and there 
are wags everywhere, and humor, uses the in- 
struments at hand. If it does not appeal to 
cultivated taste, it is due to the setting. 

Stories are told of the old "desert rats" 
whose passion for gambling took every con- 
ceivable turn, and used every excuse to make a 
wager. It was the monotonous life of the des- 
ert which made them seek diversion in gamb- 
ling. The life of the early cowboy was a 
gamble ; a fair-paid hazard whether one would 
return from the round-up, whole or in pieces, 
or at all. 

One of the old time boys, much of whose 
life had been spent in the saddle, was Chris 
Streeks. He was here in the days when the 
Likens-Middleton contest, or feud, or man 
hunt, was stirring to partisanship every dwel- 
ler or transient between Colorado and the Da- 
kotas. Yet old as he was to the ways of the 
round-up, he, in an unguarded instant, let a 
wild horse at the end of his lariat catch the 
horse he was riding with the taut rope in a side- 
wise position. Anyone versed in the work of 
the range knows that to meet the jerk at the 
end of a rope it to have the horse end to, with 
the front end towards the careening animal. 

Chris' horse went down, and he was in- 
sensible so long that it was a gamble if he 
would ever "come back." This happened 
somewhere in the vicinity of the J-Pens, on 
Horse Creek, and Chris was taken to Fort 
Laramie, put in the post hospital and attended 
by the doctor of the fort. 

Such incidents are in the nature of 
"scratches" to the boys of the prairie, and 
there is always a reluctance in getting word to 
the injured man's people, for the chances are 
that, if he don't die, he will be about again 
shortly, and possibly gone on about his busi- 
ness before word could be gotten a hundred to 
five hundred miles and the folks get back to the 
scene. 

But the news of the accident to Streeks fil- 
tered through the Goshen Holes, across Horse 
creek and down Pumpkin creek and finally 
reached Streeks's wife, who lived then just 
southeasl of the present Airdale ranch. 

Mrs. Streeks and her sister took a wagon 



and started to run down the rumor and try- 
to find Chris, for betime the story had reached 
them it was merely a rumor that he had been 
hurt, and the location of the accident was very 
vague. They made Horse creek the first day, 
and stayed at a ranch where most of the peo- 
ple were transient, and knew nothing of the 
accident. 

It was rather daring on their part, and the 
night was one long to be remembered, for the 
men were quarreling, and they seemed to have 
some grudge against a young fellow, and each 
seemed to take a turn to pick at him. They 
could not make out the cause of the trouble, 
but it wore away without any fights or gun 
play; and in the morning the ladies renewed 
their search for something tangible about the 
accident. They struck a fresh trail at the Y- 
cross ranch and finally landed at Fort Laramie. 
Mrs. Streeks later, after Chris had recovered 
sufficiently, returned for him and they made 
him a bed in the wagon box and started for 
home. 

In the Scotts Bluff mountains, about ten 
miles southwest of Gering, they passed the 
home of a "nestor," or one of the "sooners" 
that have exhausted all their land rights, yet 
move ahead of settlement, squatting on tracts 
which they think will become desirable, and 
for which they will be able to obtain a few 
dollars for a "squatter's right." The woman, 
a large lady of Irish antecedents, ran out at 
approach of the wagon and seeing the form of 
a man covered up in the back part of the 
wagon, requested the privilege of looking upon 
"the pretty corpse." 

I have often heard the pleasantry of allu- 
sion to Chris with his six feet three, and two 
hundred and twenty-five pounds as the "mak- 
ings" of a "pretty corpse." 

Chris Streeks has gone now to the "Home 
Ranch across the Great Divide," and quit 
line-riding between the states of Nebraska and 
Wyoming, which work was necessary because 
Wyoming had free range and Nebraska a herd 
law. 

And Mrs. Streeks has also gone. I wonder 
if she rides in a golden chariot there, or if she 
drives the keen spirited mustangs of the earlier 
days. Are there golden streets, or is it the 
winding trail over beautiful fresh prairies that 
are like these were when the west was new? 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



117 



One time in the early eighties, when Doc. 
Middleton "went wrong," (or shall we say 
that what he did was wrong?) Chris Streeks 
was riding in the usual duties of the range, 
when a tall spare man with keen eyes, came 
"fogging up the trail" from the direction of 
Sidney. 

Chris had never met him prior to that time, 
but this was the redoubtable Doc. 

"Fine horse you got, let's trade," said he. 

The horse the doctor was riding was pretty 
well winded and did not show up well with 
the fresh animal that Chris was riding. 

"How much boot?" asked Chris, "about a 
hundred ?" 

"Strip off your saddle," answered Doc, "I 
just killed a couple soldiers down at Sidney, 
and they are after me." 

Streeks made no further reference to the 
boot. To dispute under such circumstances 
would have been useless, and possibly fatal for 
some one. A few weeks later a rider came 
past the ranch and left a package for Chris. 
"Tell him Doc. Middleton sent it," he said. 
When Streeks opened the package he found it 
contained one hundred dollars. That was a 
big price for the common horse of the range 
in those days. 

That is the way Doc. Middleton did things. 
And while he was an outlaw according to the 
statutes, there were extenuating circumstances, 
and the civilians of the west generally assisted 
him in his efforts to keep out of the clutches 
of that tiresome tyrant called "law." 

The killing of the soldiers was the result of 
a brawl. They had all been drinking together, 
and two of the soldiers imagined they were 
offended at something the doctor had said, or 
failed to say, as is the way with drunken men. 
They attacked him, and had him down on the 
bar-room floor, pummeling him in good order. 
He warned them to quit, but they kept at it, and 
he shot them both from where he lay. Had 
they been civilians, it would have been self-de- 
fense, but being Uncle Sam's soldiers, it became 
a crime. This was the final thing that made 
Doc. Middleton an outlaw, in the real sense 
of the word. 

In those days — the days of the Texas Trail 
— Ogallala, Camp Clarke, Hartville. Sidney, 
Antelopeville (now Kimball) and Cheyenne 
were the regular cowtowns. Those were the 
halcyon days of the cow business. Big com- 
panies were being organized, and absorbing the 
ranches, and buying — book value — 'the local 
institutions. 

Post sold out to the Arbuckles, and several 
were absorbed by the big Bay State Land and 
Cattle Company. The Swans had Scotch mil- 



lions behind them. Big Alex Swan would buy 
ten thousand cattle, while the most of us were 
quibbling over the price. 

The Swans organized a big company of Edin- 
burgh, Scotland, men and passed their holdings 
to the new company, retaining an interest in 
the company themselves. The new company 
was taking over herds at book value as a rule, 
but the canny Scotch decided on requiring ac- 
tual count. Thus it occurred that certain cows 
found their way through the counting chutes 
more than once to make up the number. The 
Scotchmen "smelled a mouse," and required 
another count. This time each animal that 
passed was to be daubed with paint, so that a 
second count of the same animal would be 
impossible. 

There is a peculiar quirk of psychology in 
the old boys of the plains. They were true to 
a fault in their fidelity to their old masters 
and associates, although when a new outfit 
bought a brand it was assumed that the boys 
were to continue with the new outfit. 

When Arbuckle broke Post and his Chey- 
enne bank, it took the saving of nearly all the 
boys, that were at all frugal, for Post's bank 
was their depository. Yet few of them would 
blame Post. They were firm in the faith that 
his grand-stand play in Cheyenne, when his 
wife allowed him to sell her jewels, and the 
house over her head, to put the proceeds into 
the assets of the wreck, that it was all on the 
square. Some of us wonder if the machinery 
through which it passed was not well oiled. 
Certain it is, that Mrs. Post continued to live 
in the house until her removal to Salt Lake. 
And Post either had ability or finance to get 
him on his feet rather suddenly in their new 
home. 

When the showdown of the Scotch was re- 
quired, the old boys felt in duty bound to assist 
in making the count correspond as nearly as 
possible, with the book value. Counting thou- 
sands of cattle is no easy matter, and it took 
both speed and time. As they were crowded 
through the chutes, the marker would call off, 
and the men with the tally sheets would mark 
it down. Two men were detailed to mark the 
cattle with the paint brush. They were Davy 
Morris, who now lives at Squaw Mountain 
south of Laramie Peak, and Jim Hubbard, 
who once homesteaded the farm in Mitchell 
Valley that was owned by Harry Thornton for 
many years. 

That these men were experts with the paint 
brush goes without saving, for some of the 
eye witnesses of the affair tell me that about 
every other number that they called was an 
animal invisible to the naked eve. Thev would 



118 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



daub one and call, and then make a pass 
through the air and call another, and the men 
with the tally sheets were kept too busy to 
see what was going on. Thus, with all their 
care, the Scotchmen failed to get nearly so 
many cattle as they thought they were getting. 
Is it any wonder, with a handicap of forty or 
fifty per cent., and after the disaster of the 
Big Spring storm of 1886, with prevailing low 
prices at that time, that the company became 
embarrassed? 

I am not surprised that John Clay came 
out and took over the ranch and holdings of 
the Swan Land & Cattle Company in 1886. but 
I am surprised that he could make anything 
out of the wreck. Under his management, 
however, the Two-Bar is a most substantial in- 
stitution. Clay says: "Still sticking by the 
ship. I found many of the faithful old cow- 
boys of better days. There was Billy Hooker, 



and Al Bowie, and Harry Haig, and Duncan 
Grant, and Dave Morris, and Rufe Rhodes, 
and Frank Shiek, and Ed. Banks." 

"Bleaching bones littered many a trail, and 
told the story of disaster." 

Book value where livestock should have been, 
and dead cattle, where originally were live 
ones. What was there to do but make the best 
of a tremendously bad situation. John Clay 
has done that in a manner that few others could 
have done. 

The Swans went the way of other big com- 
panies. A few held their herds together and 
went to other ranges, one or two other, particu- 
larly the Bay State and the Union Land & 
Cattle Company, acquired landed possessions 
that eventually pulled them out of the hole. 

The Ogallala was one that went into Wyom- 
ing with the herds, and Paxton pulled that 
company through in due time, and good shape. 



CHAPTER XV 

FREWEN'S RANCH EXPERIENCE — HANGING OF BILLY NURSE BY VIGI- 
LANTES—HOLDING UP DOC. M1DDLETON — DEATH OF 
THE FAMOUS CHARACTER 



About the time that Mills and Bullock and 
others, were putting in their herds a few hun- 
dred cows around Fort Laramie, the big herds 
began to arrive from Texas. 

Westward from the eastern border of Wy- 
oming much of the prairie and inter-mountain 
country was not good range for cattle. There 
were bad lands, sage brush lands, and grease- 
wood lands galore, but occasionally were 
patches of natural meadows. The Laramie 
Plains was one of these green pastures of na- 
ture, and it was soon located by the cowmen 
looking for places to run their herds. The 
Texas herds ran into thousands. 

As John Bratt says : "from 1867 the business 
kept changing. From the date that they drove 
their first herds from Texas to the Laramie 
Plains, for ten years, ten thousand head was 
considered a large herd. But in the next ten 
years, or until about 1886, twenty thousand 
was not considered a big herd, and some book 
accounts ran as high as forty thousand." 

It was in the early eighties that the Swans 
were buying herds in great quantities. A 



ten word telegram would buy ten thousand. 
Those were sunny cattle days. 

Frewen brothers came from London with 
quantities of money to invest in ranches. Dick 
Frewen of the Powder River Cattle Company 
was on the ground early, and he learned too 
late that many thousand cattle were counted 
twice over and paid for twice, out of the 
money that he had to invest. 

When the ten days' storm in the spring of 
1886 had passed and when every creek and 
gully was full of dead cattle, when about the 
only live cattle in this section were found in 
protected places, there was little left of the 
Frewen holdings. 

The brothers have returned to London, long 
ago, and when someone asks them about going 
into ranch business, they whisper low: "Don't 
say 'ranch' — say 'farm.' " 

Many of the first "cowpunchers" were from 
Texas where the cow business had been devel- 
oped for a number of years. But the cooks 
and wagon men, and occasionally a northern 
born "puncher" were among the outfits. I 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



119 



don't know whether it was something a little 
wrong in the upper story, or whether it was 
a touch of the prairie that made so many 
cooks just a wee bit "oft." 

Wagon men and cooks seemed to have ir- 
rational attributes oftener than the men who 
rode. The diversion of the riding, and the 
business of looking after cattle, served to oc- 
cupy more fully their attention, and they were 
tired at night. But the monotony of the camp 
life, and the continual round of pots, dishes 
and pans, and baking bread, or cooking beans 
and meat, were the things that sent some of 
them "out of their heads." 

It was in the early seventies, before J. S. 
Robb had gone back to Texas, that he was 




with an outfit that had just turned loose a 
big Texas herd at Creighton's Horse Creek 
ranch. The boys were away, in pairs, look- 
ing after and getting the cattle acquainted with 
their new range, when one of the queer spells 
seized Billy Nurse, the cook. This one was, 
unfortunately, a drug eater before he went 
with the outfit. 

At supper that night, the first boy down at 
mess picked up a biscuit and bit into it. There 
was a bitterness that he did not like and he 
failed to eat the part bitten off and threw the 
biscuit to a dog. The dog ate it, and in a 
moment of two was taken sick, and died 
very shortly afterwards. The whole pan of 
biscuits went into the fire, and the boys were 
chary about what they ate that night. The 
cook went about as normal, but perhaps a 
little more morose, but the boys all sensed 
that there was something wrong. 

The next day at evening, Robb and a man 



named Parks were returning, when a shot 
came out of the bushes, and the bullet whistled 
uncomfortably near. They rushed to the cover 
of brush but found no one. That night, while 
Parks was writing a letter in the old soddy, 
the cook shot him in the back, killing him in- 
stantly. Before he could get any further ac- 
tion with his six-shooter, the boys overpowered 
him. He was taken to Pine Bluffs, then to 
Cheyenne, and turned over to the authorities, 
and in due time was convicted and sentenced to 
imprisonment for life. 

It was brought out in the trial that he had 
shot at Robb and Parks earlier in the evening 
of the murder, and that he had tried to kill 
the whole outfit by poison so that he could 
take and get away with the thousands of cat- 
tle. Failing in the poison effort, he had de- 
cided to kill them two by two, or singly, as 
they returned from their work. His marks- 
manship being poor, he had then started in 
with the intention of killing the outfit single 
handed, and wholesale robbery as his objective. 

There was no pentitentiary in Wyoming at 
the time, and the custom of taking care of pris- 
oners of this character, was to take them to 
the prisons of other states, the state of Wy- 
oming paying the state which furnished the ac- 
commodation a stipulated fee. 

The cook, Nurse, was accordingly taken to 
Joliet, Illinois, to serve his sentence. For 
some cause or other he obtained a parole, and 
as is frequent in such cases, the criminal char- 
acter of the man reasoned that having es- 
caped with light punishment, there was a little 
danger in the field of criminals, and there 
were chances of great gain. He went to South 
Dakota. 

Here he proved more successful than on 
Horse Creek. He killed four perfectly good 
men, before the vigilantes took a hand in the 
matter, and Mr. Nurse was very properly 
hung. 

Such events added zest and spice to the life 
of the range, just as Robb's little event com- 
ing from Denver at one time produced a thrill. 
J. S. had been south, and was returning by 
train over the Union Pacific out of Denver to 
the north. 

At that time gambling for mild stakes was 
but a frivolous pastime and was permitted on 
the trains running through the western coun- 
try. Robb and a number of others were pass- 
ing away the time with a little game of "twen- 
ty-five cent limit," and were having consider- 
able amusement. 

Some one called Robb's attention to a herd 
of cattle that was passing, and when he turned 
his attention again to the game, he picked up 



120 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



a hand with four kings. He said: "If the 
limit was off, 1 would bet five dollars on this 
hand." 

One of the players, a tall spare fellow with 
sharp, black eyes, looked his hand over, and 
answered: "If you did, I would raise you ten." 
They got to bandying words about the merits 
of their respective hands, and finally made a 
bet of fifteen dollars. The other fellow had 
four aces. 

Robb got to mulling the incident over in his 
mind, and decided that when his attention was 
directed outside the car window, there had 
been some juggling of the cards. 

"My friend," he said, and there was that 
tense thrill and the quiet that always followed 
certain tones of expression in the west, "My 
friend, I guess I will have to trouble you to 
hand me back that money. I am too old a 
stager for that kind of work," and his six- 
shooter was there ready to help argue the mat- 
ter. 

"Oh !" said the stranger, "alright, alright." 
He passed the money over, and the game went 
on. 

The stranger was known to some of those 
present, and to Robb afterwards. He was 
Doc. Middleton. Rob had held up the great 
western desperado, and the event was often 
thereafter related as one of the anecdotes of 
western adventure. Robb never boasted of 
it, he was not a boaster, and then Doc. might 
have considered it bad taste. He had sensi- 
tive notions on such matters, and a very deli- 
cate trigger finger. 

When driven to it, Doc. Middleton became 
an outlaw that made his a name that ranks 
high in importance. He knew the location of 
more good horses than any man on the west- 
ern ranee, and he could take them from the 
South Platte to Cheyenne river in less time 
than any other. The organization of the cat- 
tlemen's association of Wyoming and western 
Nebraska, was brought into active use in bring- 



ing him to justice. This was co-operated in 
by the United States Government. 

John Bratt wrote me sometime before his 
death, that he was one of the ten men who 
put in one hundred dollars each, to hire Billy- 
Likens to bring him in, dead or alive. Billy 
went after him, and had several brushes in 
western Nebraska, and one in particular on 
the Niobrara, where both were clipped in the 
gun melee. But Likens finally landed his man, 
alive, and he served a term for his misdeeds. 

After that he returned to the old range and 
spent his declining years at Ardmore, in the 
drug business. Doc. would close his store 
any day that a bunch of horses came to town, 
and go out and size them up. He loved a 
horse. 

Some years ago, when Jim Dahlman was 
candidate for governor, and I was looking fu- 
tilely towards the seat of Moses Kincaid in 
congress, we met the old grizzled wolf, Mid- 
dleton, at Crawford, and he rode with us to 
Chadron. I looked out at the pine ridges that 
are visible to the south from this highway, 
and thought of the old days when Middleton 
knew every canyon and gulch, and where were 
the best hiding places for horses. In my 
blithesome way, I suggested that if the auto 
played out Middleton might know where there 
were horses to pull us in. In some way, I re- 
ceived an impression that the pleasantry was 
not appreciated, but there was no serious aver- 
sion to it. 

Doc. liked excitement, and became the vic- 
tim when John Barleycorn went out of busi- 
ness. He was arrested in some connection with 
a bootlegging deal, but no one who knows Doc. 
Middleton will accuse him of being in a petty 
sneaking affair. He might drink, and he might 
help a friend get a drink, which probably was 
just what got him involved. 

He died in jail at Douglas in 1918, for his 
old frame could not endure the racking and 
hardships of younger years. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XVI 



PERRY YEAST'S SUCCESS — JUDGE GASLIN, WHO WROTE "THE LAW OF 
THE WEST - '— TOM RYAN'S DEFIANCE 



Along the line of the Union Pacific, between 
the towns of Lewellen and Keystone, there is a 
sand hill ridge that runs down from its asso- 
ciates almost to the railroad track. 

This section up which it is situated contains 
just about enough level ground for the location 
of a house and ranch buildings, and the build- 
ings are there. 

This was once the humble home of Perry 
Yeast, who now lives in his palatial home in 
Lincoln, and is worth a million or so. 

When Perry settled there, it was ranches 
all around him. the Ogallala Company and 
John Bratt & Company in particular. Perry 
was an adept at the work of discovering un- 
branded stock on the range. He built him a 
rack, or pen on wheels, with which he used 
to roam about the country, and unidentified 
stock of the range would soon wear his brand. 
He simply took to himself the same rights 
that the cattle associations assumed they pos- 
sessed. The Ogallala people thought it might 
be best to keep him occupied in other pursuits, 
and gave him a contract for putting up the 
hay on their North river meadows one year. 
He cleared up several thousand dollars in the 
deal. 

When the Burlington built through the Sand 
Hills he contracted to furnish meat for the 
construction gangs and he did furnish it in 
such quantity that Bratt & Company thought 
he could not be supplying it entirely from his 
own herd. An investigation and search of 
the Sand Hills disclosed a secluded spot with 
the fragments of about a hundred hides, all 
of which were once worn by Bratt cattle. 

Yeast was arrested, but he sprung a sur- 
prise with a bill of sale from some Omaha 
firm, of cattle which Bratt & Company had 
marketed there, and which later had been sold 
to Yeast. Bringing Bratt cattle with Bratt's 
brand on to the Bratt. range, yet in the legiti- 
mate ownership of Mr. Yeast, made any suc- 
cessful prosecution impossible, and was em- 
barrassing to the Bratt Company. 

For eighteen months before the election of 
Harrison as President in 1888. the Burlington 
building operations stood still. Yeast sold 
some beef, but in very diminished quantity. He 
went over into Sand Hills north of the new 
line, and located on Swan Lake. 

Here he built a ranch on more prodigai pro- 
portions, and had a nice hay valley all his own. 



The section homestead act went into effect, 
and he was one of the men who saw its pos- 
sibilities under the older lax methods of the 
land office department, and a number of men 
who settled around him were supposed to have 
contracts to deed him the land after acquiring 
title. He was indicted on the federal charge of 
conspiracy to defraud the government, at the 
same time that Bartlett Richards and others 
were in the same trouble. 

The case against him was finally dismissed, 
and he continued to enjoy the fruits of suc- 
cessful ranching, alternating between the Bur- 
lington and the Northwestern for an outlet 
for his product. 

We are told now, that Mr. Yeast lives in 
splendid manner in Lincoln, while he also has 
a magnificent ranch in the far northwest, the 
newer country of Alaska. 

Yeast came at the time that cattle kings 
were losing their scepters, and the ranges 
were breaking up into smaller fragments, and 
the smaller the unit the greater respect for law. 
This theory will hold good in any of the walks 
of life, or the industry of our country. The 
old cattlemen were not dishonest, but the 
very nature of their business made them adopt 
rules concerning "mavericks," and other rules 
that in effect took the property of others. 

There came a time when all of this changed 
in western Nebraska, and also a time when 
courts reached out. There was a judge who 
wrote the law on the sunset sky, who by 
sheer courage compelled the wild west to lift 
its sombrero to the majesty of legal jurispru- 
dence. Courage alone would not have done 
it, but integrity and justice took the place of 
mouldy statute, and silly precedent or decision. 
Judge Gaslin was the man. 

The supreme court often overruled his de- 
cisions, when ''Appeals in Error" were made. 
Those cases made "vigilantes," and as the 
judge succinctly remarked when he saw a 
horse thief hanging at Camp Clarke bridge: 
"There is one conviction that the Supreme 
Court will not reverse." 

The main Texas Trail used to cross at Ogal- 
lala and Ash Hollow, and the Texas ranch was 
just below Ash Hollow. It was the annual 
rendezvous of the cowboys that came up from 
the Lone Star State. Its' nearness to Ogallala, 
made it handy for the boys who liked the wild 
life of the old cow town. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



One of the many reminiscences of Judge 
Gaslin has to do with that city. The judge 
had a name as a dispenser of justice that struck 
terror to evil doers, and echoed all the way 
from Texas to Assiniboine, for the nomads 
that went north in the spring and south in the 
fall, knew that Judge Gaslin was in western 
Nebraska. 

One stormy night, the men of the trail were 
in the old hotel that used to stand just oppo- 
site the depot at Ogallala, and as the night 
was stormy, so were the natures of many gath- 
ered there. 

The landlord became alarmed at homicidal 
indications, and besought Judge Gaslin, who 
was in his room, to come down, and just show 
himself for a few moments in the lobby and 
bar. He at first demurred, but finally consent- 
ed. The time was propitious, for just as he 
stepped into the room, a fight had started and 
one man had been knocked down. 

As he appeared, someone shouted above the 
pandemonium that prevailed: "Judge Gaslin, 
boys ! the judge !" 

A silence followed and all stood still. Final- 
ly one of the originators of the quarrel stepped 
sheepishly forward and extended his hand to 
the judge, mumbling something about being a 
little excited over a political argument. 

"Yes," said the judge in answer, "and if I 
had not arrived just as I did, I suppose I would 
have had you up before me for trial the next 
time I came up this way." 

"No, God forbid!" exclaimed the man, im- 
pulsively, "that is judge, I hope I may never 
have to be tried in your court." 

This compliment was taken as intended, and 
after a few moments the judge again retired. 
You never saw a more peacefully inclined lot 
of rangers in your life. Drinking and games 
continued, but all was quiet and orderly. 

Another incident happened at Sidney, when 
Gaslin held court there, which was a character- 
istic of the judge. A young fellow had been 
accused of horse stealing; he had taken without 
leave another man's horse and ridden it many 
miles, but turned it loose. It seemed to the 
jury there was some ground for leniency, so 
they brought in a verdict of guilty, with recom- 
mendation of a light sentence. The judge took 
the recommendation as a transgression of the 
prerogatives of the court, and said: "Alright, 
we will say — well, fifteen years." 

The jury was angry, and so fast as cases 
come up they returned verdicts of not guilty. 

At the close of the term, the judge called 
for the young man who had been sentenced to 
fifteen years. lie was brought up, trembling 
in anticipation of something more severe, but 



the judge delivered to him something like the 
following : 

"Young man, the honorable jury of Chey- 
enne County has seen fit to turn loose every 
other damned rascal in the county, and I don't 
see any reason why you should not also go. 
Your sentence is indefinitely suspended." 

In general, Judge Gaslin had the rough, 
western element "buffaloed," but there was 
one occasion, and one man in the Panhandle 
that upset the general rule. Two men named 
McCauley and Clarke had been incarcerated in 
Cheyenne county jail on a felonious charge, 
and big Tom Ryan appeared before the judge 
at Sidney to arrange for their release. 

The court was sitting, and as usual, hitting 
the evil-doers hard, and Clarke and McCauley 
were getting their share of the roast. To as- 
sail one's friend is to offend the man, and 
Tom Ryan took serious offense. He knocked 
the judge off the Bench, literally and figura- 
tively. 

It was such an unusual affair that no one 
thought of interfering, while Tom Ryan walk- 
ed like a victorious gladiator from the room. 
He then went to the jail and broke it open, 
liberating his friends. To each he gave a gun 
and a pint of whiskey, and they rode over to 
Greenwood ranch together. 

Mose Howard, now (1919) to be found 
around the Stock Exchange building in South 
Omaha, was sheriff of Cheyenne County at 
the time. It took but little thought on his 
part to know that he must arrest Tom Ryan 
and his friends, or attempt to apprehend them, 
and to do so probably meant some very brisk 
gun fire, with three determined men ; or that he 
should resign as sheriff. "He resigned. 

Sam Fowler was appointed to succeed him, 
and Sam started for the Greenwood ranch, but 
on reaching the destination, he did not even 
hesitate. In the next few days, he rode past 
the ranch two or three times, but each time he 
"played his hunch" to ride on. One day, Ryan 
met a friend of Fowler's, and told him to tell 
Sam, that he had seen him ride by the ranch 
several time lately, and. to say to him, that he 
(Ryan) knew what Sam was looking for. 
"You also tell Sam that he played his hunch 
right each time when he failed to stop. And 
tell him for me," Ryan continued, "that I will 
give him another hunch. Not to waste any 
more time on me: for if he does, I will kill 
him." Sam played the hunch. 

Mose Howard was with Robb on the Creigh- 
ton ranches, for a while after that, but of late 
years, he has been around the Stock Exchange 
and Stock Yards of South Omaha. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 1 

CHAPTER XVII 

NEWMAN'S RANCH ON THE RUNNING WATER— BARTLETT RICHARDS 
COMPANY — THE SCOURGE OF THE LAND INQUISITION —CATTLE 
RUSTLERS — HALL & EVANS — EVAN'S BATTLE FOR RIGHT 
— FIRST DAIRY HERD 



E. S. Newman established the largest ranch 
on the Niobrara or Running Water, and it was 
the first in point of time, in this part of the 
sand hills. It was there as early as 1878 or 
earlier. He ran as high as twenty thousand 
cattle at one time, and ranged them all the 
way from Hat Creek, and over the Wyoming 
and Dakota lines to the northwest, as far east 
as Valentine. The ranch was located in the 
western part of Cherry county, at the mouth 
of the Antelope Creek, and the original site 
has now been abandoned. The land is occu- 




Loxc Horn's !■' 



pied by new people. Newer ranch buildings 
were built about a quarter of a mile from the 
old site, and it is (1919) known as Fagin's 
ranch. It has been variously called Mayberry, 
or Circle, or Boiling Springs ranch. George 
Morehead of Omaha had a brother killed near 
there by Cheyenne Indians. 

Jim Dahlman, range rider from Texas, later 
sheriff of Dawes county, and mayor of Omaha 
for many years, worked for E. S. Newman 
after his arrival on the northern range. Other 
old time punchers on this ranch were James 
Ouigley of Valentine, Charles Hoyt of Whit- 
man, Robert Miller of Burwell, and Henry 
and John Stitler. 

Newman ranch was followed by Newman & 
Hunter's, and later Newman retired. Hunter 
& Evans had a ranch at the confluence of Pine 
Creek with the Niobrara in the western part 
of Sheridan county as early as 1878. Among 
the many brands well known in this territory 
at an early date were Z-Bar and Lazy-33. 
When the granger came, the big herd was driv- 
en to Milk River, Montana, where the com- 



pany continued business for a time. 

Bartlett Richards & Company, which had 
been organized farther west, and which held 
their stock on the Belle Fourche and Donkey 
Creek, looked upon the sand hill territory aban- 
doned by Hunter & Evans as an open field, and 
moved into and occupied it. The Standard 
Cattle Company and the Spade ranch was but 
a part of their activities, although they ran 
about twenty thousand head of cattle. Numer- 
ous "locations" were made in the hay meadows 
between Lakeside and Ellsworth on the pres- 
ent line of the Burlington, and Rushville and 
Gordon on the Northwestern. Bar-O, Spade, 
and O-Bar were among their well known 
brands. 

They were accused of attempting to follow 
the precedent established by the Bay State, the 
Bridle Bit, Sturgis & Lane, and others, and 
sought to acquire title to a vast acreage of 
government land, through the then prevail- 
ing loose land office methods. 

L. C. Baldwin, of Council Bluffs, who had 
several thousand cattle ranging on the Lodge- 
pole in the vicinity of Pine Bluffs, and on 
Crow Creek, was accused of following the 
same methods of acquiring land. The best 
known brands of Mr. Baldwin were F-H-C 
and 3-3-3. 

All the west knows the spasm of virtue that 
swept over the United States Land Department 
when the dominating influence of Gifford Pin- 
chot was high under the Roosevelt regime. 

The most of us thought that the land ac- 
quired was not of sufficient value to make 
much trouble over, much less make criminals 
out of men who had done only the same deeds 
that had been followed for generations. 

Bartlett Richards, W. G. Comstock, L. C. 
Baldwin. Charles Tulleys, J. H. Edmiston. C. 
C. Jamieson, Perry Yeast, and others suffered 
the federal inquistion, and LI. S. Marshall Mat- 
thews lost his official head as a result. Some 
parts of the west were seared as by a prairie 
fire, and finally came President Taft and Sec- 
retary Ballinger. Pinchot sunk into the ob- 
livion that his ill-advised activities deserved. 
When a man attempts to climb over the wrecks 
of others he has ruined, natural laws of com- 
pensation will prevail. 



124 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



The Standard Cattle Company, with head- 
quarters at Cheyenne, ranged fifteen to twenty 
thousand cattle over the headwaters of Horse 
Creek and the Chugwater, in the later days of 
the cow business. 

Earlier the cowmen had organized associa- 
tions for their mutual protection, and for co- 
operation. They developed the round-up to a 
system. They hired fearless men for detectives, 
and trailed fugitives from justice into far 
countries. The ramifications of this ann of 
the cow business was necessary, albeit some- 
times unjust. 

Vigilantes hung thieves without stint or con- 
science and occasionally a transgressing ranch- 
man very nearly met that melancholy fate. 
Horse thieves and cattle thieves were trailed 
into the Britich Provinces, and southward to 
and through Mexico into the South American 
Republics, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. 

John Bratt was one of the live members 
of the old executive committee of the Chey- 
enne Stock Growers' Association, which he 
helped to organize, and was on the Executive 
Board for several years. 

One of the rules adopted by this organiza- 
tion was that all unbranded cattle found by 
the roundups were to be taken to the final ren- 
dezvous, and there sold to the highest bidder, 
the proceeds to go into the treasury of the asso- 
ciation. This was obviously about the only 
thing they could do, but should the roundup 
catch the lone cow of an early settler, if she 
chanced to be unbranded, it was appropriating 
property that did not belong to the association. 
I think there was one or two decisions that 
gave the cow back even after being branded, 
where the ownership was proven. 

Early grangers found considerable fault with 
this scheme and there is no doubt that this 
practice or system brought in the mind of 
many a settler, and even some cowboys, justi- 
fication for rustling calves, and killing for 
beef. 

This rustling in western Nebraska, became 
almost a joke in the years of 1887 and 1888. 
Men increased their herds at a rapid rate. 
Many cows raised "twins" and on one occa- 
sion, a steer was credited with raising seven- 
teen calves in one season. The smaller ranches 
were as busy as the grangers in this work. 
That is they did as much or more of it, but 
they held aloof from any entangling alliances. 

The cowboys learned the trick, and located 
unbranded stuff in the herds driven ahead with 
the roundup. At some likely place, in some 
manner, one of the men would manage to 
single out the cow, or heifer, or steer without 



a brand, and it would break away from the 
herd. He would ride furiously after it, and 
suddenly his horse would become unmanage- 
able, and run between it and the rest of the 
bunch. All the time it was running farther 
away, and finally would disappear with the 
rider in full pursuit, over a ridge or down a 
gulch. After a bit the rider would return, 
but the animal never. And the next roundup 
would find it with the private brand of the 
cowboy who had chased it into the distance. 

"Bay State Beef" and "Bridle Bit Beef" and 
"Ogallala Beef," became a sort of a standard 
food in the early days. Nearly everyone ate 
it, however, few would acknowledge it. Yet 
it became a subject of humor and common jest. 
One of the early missionaries sent out by the 
Presbyterians into Banner county, complained 
to his hosts that he was tired of Bay State 
Beef, and hungry for chicken. 

On one occasion, I was coming through the 
Wildcat Range on my way to Gering, and 
stopped at a settler's place near Rifle Gap, for 
the night. The man of the place and I were 
talking when a roly poly boy came to his 
father's knee. The father fondly patted his 
round form, and said : "My son, what makes 
you so fat?" The little imp looked up and 
grinned as he answered: "Bay State Beef." 
The father laughed, and I joined, being quite 
sure the boy had told the truth. 

In the winter of 1887-88, and also the win- 
ter following, small herds drifted across the 
state line of Wyoming, in the storms when 
the "line riders" could not carefully guard 
the entire distance. These cattle seldom re- 
turned. The men who were sent after them 
would see hanging to ridge logs, or on the 
corners of houses, nice fresh quarters of beef, 
and in hidden places they might find the waste 
materials of slaughtered cattle. 

In the winter of 1885-86, I was working 
for Hall & Evans, whose ranch was estab- 
lished in 1871 on White Horse Creek, about 
two miles northeast of North Platte. They 
had about two hundred and fifty head of cattle, 
and forty or fifty horses. They put up sev- 
eral hundred tons of hay along the river bot- 
toms, and they milked from thirty to fifty 
cows. 

Mr. Evans was in the County Clerk's office 
at North Platte, and Mr. and Mrs. Hall, whose 
only daughter was Mrs. Evans, lived upon the 
ranch. They made butter, and kept several 
hundred hens, and had private customers for 
the product. 

Prior to their settlement upon this acreage, 
which was about 1867, Major L. Walker own- 
ed the place and the LW brand. His one 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



125 



thousand to two thousand cattle ranged the 
sand hills northward, and along White Horse 
Creek and the North Platte river. Settlement 
had begun to make a change at the time I was 
there. In fact, the spring following there was 
almost a ceaseless caravan of covered wagons 
moving on into the west. I wondered that it 
could hold so many, and yet leave any land un- 
occupied. 

"Grandpa" and "Grandma" Hall are gone 
to their rewards, both being devout Methodists. 
John E. Evans, his wife, and son Everett, are 
still at North Platte, and John E., as usual, 
is doing official duty. 

He served in the legislature at the time Mill- 
ard and Diederick were elected United States 
senators, after the all winter deadlock. It will 
be remembered that D. E. Thompson of Lin- 
coln desired one of the places, and his rail- 
road influences were hard at work. Tohn £. 



Evans was one of the "Lily White" Republi- 
cans that refused to be led into the railroad 
camp. And for that little band of courageous 
Republicans, withstanding the castigation of 
the party whip, there will be some day a suit- 
able testimonial in the hall of fame. There 
will come a time when the descendants of such 
people will be proud of their ancestry, as the 
world will be proud of its truly great and cour- 
ageous men. 

Let us give a word of credit to a living wom- 
an, Mrs. W. C. Ritner, now living at North 
Platte, (1919) for her faith in the dairy of 
western Nebraska. This resource is yet in its 
infancy, but thirty-five years ago, Mrs. Helen 
Randall, widow of Ex-Governor Randall, now 
Mrs. Ritner, had about five hundred head of 
cattle, principally dairy stock, upon her ranch, 
on the north side of the North Platte river, 
between White Horse creek and the Birdwood. 



CHAPTER XVII 

BIG RANCHES ROUND ABOUT — FIRST DRY FARMING AT BIG SPRINGS — 

OTHER RANCHES ON LODGEPOLE — NEWMAN LEADS THE TURKS — 

THROUGH "JERUSALEM" — WALRATH, FROM OX TEAM 

TO AEROPLANE 



One of the peerless cowmen of early years 
was David Rankin. Years ago he ran his ten 
thousand cattle on North and Middle Loup 
rivers, and at Seneca, in the midst of the ma- 
jestic Sand Hills, he had his home ranch and 
range. His brands were Bar-7 and others. 

This is a little out of the territory covered 
by my narrative, but so is Bent & Evans, later 
Nichols & Son, of the 96 brands, who ranged 
their six thousand cattle east of Fort McPher- 
son and west of Plum Creek, and so is Biff's 
F L ranch on the South Platte river, where the 
pony express rider, Jim Moore, met his death. 
Iliff was called the Cattle King in his time. 
Burke Brothers, with the flat iron brand on 
three or four thousand cattle between North 
Platte and Fort McPherson, were not in the 



Panhandle ; nor was C. W. Wright, now to 
be found about the Denver Club, who ranged 
his two or three thousand cattle branded D D 
on Brigadier creek, Bad Water and Poison 
Spider in Wyoming. All of these had scat- 
tering cattle in western Nebraska and they had 
representatives with the annual roundup, to 
accumulate these and return them to their 
own respective ranges. 

One of the big ranches on the South Platte 
country, located at Big Springs, in the pres- 
ent borders of Deuel county, was Shiedley 
Brothers & Company, with its O S O brands, 
and its ten thousand cattle. This firm had 
Kansas City offices, and supplied many of 
the smaller concerns, people with five hundred 
to two thousand head, with cattle or finance. 



126 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



There came the time when W. A. Paxton 
quit "wacking bulls" and went into the cow 
business. He located at Keystone with the 
Keystone brand. Later he organized the big 
Ogallala Company that amalgamated several of 
the largest herds on the range. What the Bay 
State accomplished at Kimball and north, and 
Tom Swan in Wyoming, the Ogallala com- 
pany did at Alkali, now Paxton, Nebraska, and 
north and west. 

This company put ten or twelve thousand 
cattle into the business at the home ranch, and 
then bought the Shiedley outfit with its many 
thousands, Sheedy's Seven U, Boyd Brothers' 
herd. Sharp's ranch, the Tusler cattle, and sev- 
eral of the other herds of five hundred to two 
thousand. 

The Shiedley ranch was the location of the 
first dry farming in that part of Nebraska. In 
1881, Otto Baumgarten went out on an island 
in the South Platte, and plowed some ground, 
and planted a diversity of crops, mostly garden 
stuff. His success was a surprise and revela- 
tion to the cowmen, who had no idea that 
anything would grow without irrigation in this 
semi-arid, or as then called "arid" west. Even 
after this demonstration, the ranchmen did not 
take to farming, but left that achievement for 
other times and other people. Nor was garden- 
ing undertaken. Everything was purchased, 
even to butter, although the ranch might have 
ten thousand cows. 

West of Sidney on the Lodgepole were sev- 
eral ranches as early as 1874. John M. Adams 
and H. V. Redington were among the first. 
Adams and Redington had organized a com- 
pany to take over the ranch at the mouth of 
"Lorren's" fork. Sidney was the accessible 
trading point, and there was more or less social 
life there on account of the fort. It was de- 
termined that a ranch nearer Sidney would also 
have its advantages, especially at shipping time. 
Cattle could be moved to the railroad and al- 
lowed to rest on the fine pasturage and hay 
meadows, then shipped with little or no shrink- 
age. The best available spot for the use of 
Adams & Redington was found near the pres- 
ert site of Potter. This ranch is still owned by 
Adams, who also has a southern home at 
Augusta, Georgia, called "The Hill." The 
Adams ranch is one of the beauty spots along 
the Lodgepole. This firm ran four thousand 
to six thousand cattle and their principal brand 
was H-Bar. 

Just below their Potter location, near the 
station of Bronson, Callahan & Mursheid had 
a ranch, which about the time of establishing 
the Adams-Redington ranch, went to the own- 
ership nf Thos. Kane. 



Henry Newman, who once had an interest in 
the holdings that finally came under the master- 
hand of Reuben Lisco, located in 1873 a ranch 
near the present site of Sunol. The structures 
were all of discarded railroad ties set on end, 
making rude but comfortable stockades. 

After the building of the Union Pacific, for 
many years there were parties of emigrants 
crossing the continental divide in the old way. 
There were parties of different nationalities 
occasionally, and one time forty or fifty Turks 
were making their way up the Lodgepole valley. 
True to their faith and custom, they wore the 
picturesque costumes of their native land. As 
they neared Newman ranch, Henry was out 
with his saddle horse to see what was coming. 

Noticing that the Turks were a bit exercised 
at his approach, he thought to give them ample 
justice for the apprehension. He discharged 
his six shooter with rapid successive shots, 
and then dropped his rope over the man who 
appeared to be their leader. A dozen other 
Turks ran to the rescue, and grabbed hold of 
the rope, but the sturdy bronco had turned 
about, and Newman had taken a hitch around 
the saddle horn. They started moving steadily 
along with the Turks tugging vigorously to 
stop them or release their leader. 

Another cowman came along at this time 
and hailed Neuman. 

"What's the game, old timer?" he asked. 

"Nothing," answered Neuman L "only I'm 
leading these d — d Turks through" New Jeru- 
salem." 

Having had his little escapade, he let them 
proceed. 

Down at Big Springs, besides the Shiedley 
ranch, were the Walraths, whose ranch dates 
back to 1873. The Walrath ranch was owned 
by A. J. and Baggage Walrath. Their herd 
was a comparatively small one at the time, 
but it later grew to large proportions. Bag- 
gage Walrath has gone on, to the Final Round- 
up, but A. J. still lives in the land where he 
has seen the transition. The veteran of the 
plains can be found at Julesburg, and has a 
rich fund of reminiscence. 

A. J. Walrath, when he first saw the South 
Platte and the Lodgepole, drove an ox team. 
From whacking bulls he has seen the coming 
of the mule teams, the railroad, the automobile, 
truck and tractor, and recently (1919) there 
passed overhead thirty flying- machines in one 
dav. This, all in the span of one life. 

The Stone ranch, with its six thousand 
cattle branded C on the left hip. quite fully 
occupied the territory east of Ogallala, but 
Russell Watts built a ranch near there which 
was retained as headquarters, although his 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



127 



herds of three or four thousand cattle were to 
be found principally on Snake Creek and the 
Niobrara, where the brand WW on the left 
hip and side were held during the summer 
seasons. In the winter he brought them to the 
ranges nearer to the home ranch. 

Sparks and Timmon, who had ten or twelve 
thousand cattle on the ranges of Gooseberry 
creek, Nevada, maintained offices at Cheyenne, 
and part of the time had cattle on the same 
range occupied by Watts, in Nebraska, on 
the Running water and Snake creek. Their 
herds used to mingle in the early days, but 
the territory was later left to others. The Hart 
ranch had occupied the Snake creek country, 
and as conditions were changing, smaller herds 
began to come, and ranches of only a few hun- 
dred head became quite common. 

On Chadron creek and White river the Half- 
Diamond E owned by Price & Jenkins, of 
Chadron, was one of the well known early 
brands. 



J. H. Jewett, who owned the JHJ brand, 
and ranged his cattle near Sidney, was not of 
the very oldest. He came at the date when 
the big ranches were passing into the hands 
of the Bay State, Swan and Ogallala concerns, 
and smaller ranches were sandwiching in 
wherever they could find watering places, and 
a little hay bottom. 

The larger concerns had visions as broad 
as the western horizon, but the smaller men had 
a more correct interpretation of the trend of 
the times. Westward the tide of empire 
was wending and it soon moved into western 
Nebraska, driving before it the Big Stampede. 
The men of lesser means mingled with the 
grangers, and stuck to the land. Many are 
still to be found, grizzled pioneers, and the 
vanguard of the present land of activity and 
progress. 



CHAPTER NIN 

CREIGHTON EXPANDS — SNODGRASS AND McSHANE — McINTOSH FOUNDS 

"THE CIRCLE ARROW" — SIMPSON ORGANIZES THE 

BAY STATE COMPANY 



Two or three years after Creighton located 
on the Laramie Plains, he built a ranch on 
Horse creek. It was in 1875 before he built the 
"Pumpkin Creek Ranch," which became the 
home ranch of the Bay State Company. 
Creighton's Point, in the north part of Banner 
county, became the permanent name of the 
outpost of Wildcat Mountain. 

A few miles down the Laramie river from 
Creighton's ranch on the Laramie Plains, John 
Bratt, in 1867, built the second ranch located in 
Wyoming. This location antedated the ac- 
tivities of Bratt at North Platte, but a short 
time. 

The Circle Arrow ranch, which is on Lodge- 
pole creek a few miles east of Kimball, was 
established by J. J. Mcintosh in 1872. Griffin 
& Harken bought it and later sold it to John 
Sparks, who had the ranch on lower Horse 
creek. This was one of the ranches acquired 
by the Bay State Land & Cattle Company. 

H. H. Robinson was manager of the Bay 
State when I came into the west and he lived 



at Kimball, which was the new name of An- 
telopeville. 

Johnny Peters, the cowboys called him 
"Pete," found his first work in western Ne- 
braska, at the Circle Arrow, digging a cellar, 
the autumn of 1882. Peters and "Big Nose 
George" (that is the only name I ever heard 
for him,) were at work shoveling out the dirt. 
Peters had been up to the tie camps at Medicine 
Bow, and his muscles w r ere hard from hewing 
ties, but "Big Nose George" was totally unused 
to work. He was a gambler of some repute, 
but had had a streak of bad luck, which his 
skill could not overcome. Being on his uppers, 
he had to do something, and fell in with Peters 
on this job. His lily white hands were a mass 
of cruel blisters, but he possessed the ability 
of sticking to the job. 

In the evenings he entertained Johnny with 
his card skill, and found Peters quite an adept 
pupil. In witness whereof ask most any of 
the old boys of the range that knew him during 
the next three or four years. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Creighton's Horse Creek ranch was just 
below the point where the Pine Bluffs branch 
connects with the creek. This branch has some 
springs in it, and is partly dry most of the 
time. He had here the Circle Bar brand which 
was later converted into the half circle block. 

The J. H. D.. which was owned by Mead, 
Evans & Company, was twenty-five miles west 
of Creighton's. Billy Likens was once the 
foreman. Likens, after serving a term as sher- 
iff of Laramie county, became the cattle de- 
tective of the Wyoming Livestock Associa- 
tion. He had many nervy and dare-devil ex- 
periences. 

G. W. Simpson came out from Boston, and 
organized the Bay State Land & Cattle Com- 
pany in 1882, and he was its president. He 
managed to get Evans interested, and Evans 
held the startegic real estate of the J. H. D. 
Simpson bought it and then he undertook to 
make terms with O. W. Mead, the senior and 
remaining principal stockholder of the old con- 
cern. Mead refused to capitulate. He moved 
the cattle farther up Horse creek, and put 
the Four K brand upon the range. In 1886 
he sold this ranch and went to Nevada. 

"Four-K Ed" was one of the employees of 
Mead that stayed with him, and finally went 
to the newer west with him. He was a wiry 
little Irishman, full of mother wit, and with a 
fondness for strong drink, which one can hard- 
ly believe of an Irishman. 

Count John A. Creighton, John Snodgrass, 
and John A. McShane had in the meantime be- 
come the owners of the Circle Arrow at Kim- 
ball. The Bay State negotiated with them, and 
acquired this valuable ranch, along with other 
Creighton possessions. The sum paid was said 
to be around seven hundred thousand dollars. 
John Snodgrass was made general manager. 

The Bay State Company bought the Circle 
Arrow in the Spring of 1883, and Creighton 
sold to the Company in the autumn of the 
same year his entire ranch possessions, includ- 
ing Pumpkin creek, Horse creek, and Laramie 
Plains ranches. 

In 1883, the Bay State Company branded 
all their cattle with the "Circle Block," which 
correctly speaking is only a "quarter circle- 
block," and that remained their standard brand 
until they drove their herds into the northwest, 
four or five years later. 

John A. McShane became quite active on 
the range then, but he was something of a ten- 
derfoot. 

When a big herd was brought in from Texas 
and turned loose in this country, it was neces- 
sary for tin- boys to herd them for a while, until 
tiny became familiar with the country. So two 



by two they would set forth in the mornings 
and would go about the wild herds that were 
inclined to run their foolish legs off, to hold 
them in check, and move them about until they 
became familiar with the springs and watering 
places. 

One day, as the earliest of the men were 
dropping back to the ranch at the head of 
Pumpkin creek, after the cattle had been prop- 
erly rounded in, they found McShane cooking 
dinner for several lazy, fat buck Indians. 
These Indians were perfectly harmless, but 
McShane did not know it. They had been 
visiting somewhere down south and were re- 
turning to the Red Cloud Agency on White 
river. 

They could not resist the temptation to 
throw a little scare into people as they went 
along. At the Circle Arrow they shot off 
their rifles and left some stones lying in peculiar 
positions, which old Bill Gaw, the trapper, 
told the people at the ranch, were "war signs." 

They were not without a sense of humor, 
and when they found John A. alone at the 
ranch, and observed his fear of them, they 
made "hunger signs," and McShane, not know- 
ing if they were friendly or untamed, had set 
about getting them a good dinner. 

McShane later went to Omaha, where he 
was elected to Congress in a race with Thos. 
J. Majors, Edward Rosewater's opposition to 
Majors, assisted materially in the result. 

This little event on Pumpkin creek did not 
put McShane among the class of irrational 
cooks. There were many exceptions to that 
rule 

There was Muldoon, the best cook that 
ever dipped a pail of water from the creek. 
It is said that once one of the boys of Mul- 
doon's outfit had an aversion to rice. Rice 
was a staple food on the roundup, and Mul- 
doon told him that he just had to eat it. He 
came in hungry one night, and the dinner had 
a pudding that met nicely his taste. He said 
it was fine and asked of what it was made. 

"It is made of that rice that you don't like," 
answered Muldoon. 

There was Jim Raley, the beau brummel of 
all the countrywide. Aside from being an ex- 
cellent cook, Raley was one of the best look- 
ing fellows on the range. Large, well built, 
fine dark eyes and mustache. He was a good 
entertainer, and the girls all liked him, and he 
was as fine as they thought he was, which 
was "going some." The only thing the boys 
had against Jim was that he could almost any 
time he wanted to, take their girls away from 
them. 

And in addition to McShane, and Muldoon 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



129 



and Raley, the writer officiated over the pots apples, dried currants, rice, and occasionally the 

and kettles once, and cannot find the heart to luxury of prunes. These with coffee. A cook 

say that it was not a first-class profession, es- who cannot satisfy a hungry man with varia- 

pecially where dominated by a first-class man. lions of those staples of diet, was not a cook 

Sore-finger bread, sow-bellv, beans, dried for a cow outfit. 



CHAPTER XN 

EARLY SUB-IRRIGATION — BAY STATE BUYS COAD'S NORTH RIVER RANCH 

— J. S. ROBB, FOREMAN — MARY ROSE'S GRAVE — THE GROUT 

HOUSE — I- H. D. RANCH — ROUND-UP AT CIRCLE 

ARROW — DEATH OF "SKY PILOT" AT 

PINE BLUFFS 



While Simpson was managing the affairs at 
the J. H. D., big Jim Boyd and Runey Camp- 
bell were working at the ranch. And just be- 
low the ranch house in the creek are still some 
rocks that were piled there in the indifferent 
but substantial manner of lazy cowboys, to 
form a sort of a dam for raising the water level 
in the creek, and causing it to percolate back 
into the hay bottoms belonging to that ranch. 
The theory of sub-irrigation was here promul- 
gated. 

The spring of 1884 witnessed further changes 
in the Bay State developments. Three quarters 
of a million dollars had already been spent in 
acquiring Creighton's and other ranch possess- 
ions. Now the company reached over to the 
North River and bought out the Coads, paying 
therefor seven hundred and fifty thousand dol- 
lars. The Bay State people ran over fifteen 
thousand cattle by actual count, although 
when they bought, they obtained a book value 
of about twelve thousand from Creighton's and 
about ten'thousand from Coads. 

Coads had a nice bunch of horses that went 
with their possessions, and as the Creighton 
horses were not very good, the co.wpunchers 
of the Bay State were pleased when the Coad 
horses came into Bay State ownership. 

This put the ranch at the head of Pumpkin 
creek about the center of operations, and it 
consequently became the Home ranch of (he 
company. 

The new organization was G. W. Simpson, 
of Boston, president and general financier; 
John A. McShane. of Omaha, was interested, 
for the Omaha people had taken some stock in 
the new concern. H. H. Robinson now (1919) 
living in Denver, became the range manager. 



John Snodgrass had built a large dwelling on 
the north side of the railroad track, east of 
the Pumpkin Creek Trail at Antelopeville. 
This he made his headquarters. Kimball, who 
was one of the big eastern investors, spent a 
great deal of his time at the different ranches 
of the company, getting in touch with the 
business first hand. It was in his honor that 
the Union Pacific and the post-office depart- 
ment, changed the name of Antelopeville to 
Kimball. 

J. S. Robb had been here at an earlier date, 
but he had gone back to his old home in Uvalde 
county, Texas, and served a term as sheriff 
there. Returning to this county a short time 
before the date of the organization of the Bay 
State, he had been put in charge as foreman 
on the Pumpkin creek ranch by Creighton. 

Johnny Peters was sent over from the Circle 
Arrow and plied his skill with a broad ax, 
hewing the logs that were builded into the 
one and one-half story log house, which Robb 
used for a dwelling at the head of Pumpkin 
creek. He then built the stone spring house, 
which was delightfully cool, there being a 
large cold spring therein. 

Mrs. Robb was not much in love with the 
solitudes. She often had visiting with her, one 
of the women of the ranch proprietors, or what 
she really enjoyed more, were the visits of 
the girls that were just then beginning to come 
into the valley. 

In the summer of 1S87. Mary Rose, whose 
father was a soldier in Sidney and whose moth- 
er was dead, came out to visit the Livingstons, 
who had cared for her during her childhood, 
and were like parents to her. Livingston's 
grout house stood about six miles east of 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Wildcat mountain and in addition contained a 
postoffice, and was quite a place of social en- 
joyment. In 1888, while Alary Rose was up 
at the head of the creek visiting Mrs. Robb 
she was taken ill. and a little later died. She 
was buried at Livingston. The grout dwelling 
is now crumled into dust, and in a neglected 
wire enclosure, overgrown with weeds, sweet 
clover and wild roses, there is now the little 
mound where one of the charming "first girls" 
was laid to rest. 

"Wild roses grow on Mary Rose's grave." 

Robb had one of the best memories, and if 
one could get him started on reminiscence, he 
could string out interesting stories by the hour, 
and his experiences would fill a book. 

Before Runey Campbell knew that Robb 
was a foreman, he and J. S. fell in together, 
and were traveling up the Horse creek country 
going to the J. H. D. ranch. At this branch 
there was a queer old pair of people, such as 
sometimes drift into out-of-the-way-places and 
stick. 

Jule Kransky was a weazened old Dutchman 
who would not weigh over a hundred and 
twenty-five pounds, and his wife, just as 
shrivelled, and dried up, would weigh about 
ninety. Runey told Robb he would introduce 
him as belonging to Creighton's. and he added, 
"maybe the old cuss will treat us half-way 
civil." Kransky evidently believed him one 
of the high officials, for 'he killed a chicken 
and gave them a fine dinner. 

Jule and his wife talked in high squeeky 
voices, and they often had altercations and 
sometimes these developed into fights. In the 
latter, however. Mrs. Kranskv was no match 
for her formidable husband, but she could run 
the faster, so the bouts usually ended in a foot 
race. 

Once, however, when she was racing ahead 
of him around the house, crying back in her 
shrill staccato accents: "Jule, Jule, Jule," he 
gave up the chase. She kept on running still 
thinking he was in pursuit. As she rounded 
a corner of the house she met him face to 
face and it was too late to escape. That time 
he caught her and gave her the whipping which 
he thought she needed. Perhaps it was from 
that event, came the old saying: "I whipped 
a woman once fifty years old, and I believe 
T could have whipped her had she been a hun- 
dred." 

Below the Circle Arrow at Kimball was one 
of the bivouacing places of the roundup. It 
was on the hank of the Lodgepole. below the 
lower ranch fence. Here the outfits always 
paused in passing, and from here the boys 
could go t<> \.ntelopeville fur recreation. One 



time, they left at the camp a big bully of a 
Dutch butcher who was acting in the capacity 
of cook and a young fat kid about seventeen or 
eighteen years old. 

Almost invariably there is a kid on the 
round-up, or with the trail wagon, or, for that 
matter, anywhere else in the early west, and 
he is usually the object of a great many rough 
jokes and ill-temper. This kid, being fat, was 
no exception. 

On this occasion, as the boys returned, singly 
or in pairs, at eventide, they found the kid 
strutting about the camp in high feather. He 
told them that he had been boss for the day. 
It appeared that the bully had begun to work 
off his ugly feelings, by abusing the kid, final- 
ly daring him to fight, and offering to let 
him tie his hands behind him, and start in. 
The kid did tie his hands securely, and then 
jumping on his horse he threw a rope over 
the cook, and dragged him into the creek, 
and up and down the creek a number of times, 
nearly drowning him. Finally he had cried 
enough, and the kid untied him. after which 
he was going to give the boy a thrashing, but 
the boy "threw down" on him. made him throw 
up his hands, and promise to be good. For 
the day the fat boy had ruled the camp with an 
iron hand. 

Here is was that Buddy Crocket, Al Harris, 
Ad Carthage, Al Stringfellow, Jimmy Tate, 
Johnny Frantz, E. L. Harrison, Henry- 
Heard, and a host of the other old time boys 
of the range used to camp, and go to Ante- 
lopeville for their pay checks and a good time. 
One night there had been quite a storm and 
the boys were returning to the outfit, where a 
number had remained. As they approached 
they observed the big tent was lying flat, and 
there was no one stirring about it. They dis- 
mounted and proceeded to put the tent up, 
when they discovered under it a number of men 
who were asleep. 

It occurred that the wind had blown it down, 
and the boys finding by calling to one another 
that no one was hurt, and being sleepy and 
perfectly' dry and comfortable, they went on 
with their slumber without putting up the tent. 

The Tracy ranch was one of the early places 
acquired by the Bay State. The brand was the 
T F Circle, and the location near Pine Bluffs. 
The old trails used to lead from Pine Bluffs 
northward over the fine tables now called Gold- 
en Prairie, and down the branch of Horse 
creek to Creighton's Horse creek ranch. South- 
ward the trails led to Crow creek ranges and 
beyond. 

Pine Bluffs was not a large town, but any 
sort of a place in those days had a saloon, and 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



131 



someone about the place could entertain at 
poker. 

Sometimes the churches of the east would 
send out missionaries who would endeavor to 
turn the unregenerate saddle boys into the 
paths of duty. But those paths were not well 
defined, although the boys back in their minds 
had a respect for the teachings of their moth- 
ers, many, many years ago. The trail of the 
wicked are broad, and easy to follow even out 
on the wide prairies. 

One of these "sky pilots" landed at Pine 
Bluffs, and the boys rigged up the hall over 
the saloon, which generally served as a place 
to dance, and the saloon was closed for an 
hour or two that all might hear the sermon. 
After the missionary had told the old, old 
story, and sang a few hymns, they again went 
down stairs. There seemed few ways to show 
the hospitality of the west, and one of the 
boys, just to be friendly, asked the missionary 
to join with others at the bar. 

Everybody lined up, and ordered their pref- 
erence, expecting the man of cloth might ask 
for a soda. Imagine their surprise when he 
ordered Scotch. This was the beginning. 
Everybody had to set 'em up and every time 
the minister took his strong decoction. 

The affair turned into a sort of an orgy, 
and one of the boisterous fellows, old Carthage, 
I believe it was, swapped his sombrero for 



the man's plug hat. After while a team was 
hitched up and the preacher loaded with a 
well jagged driver to make the trip to Ante- 
lopeville, whe.re he was next due. 

In the night he drove up in front of the 
Lynch hotel, and observing a light in the office 
called to men there to come out and help him 
"unload a dead man." During the journey, 
the preacher had slumped over against the driv- 
er, and he believed him to be in a drunken 
stupor. He called him a dead man in attempted 
jocular manner, but imagine his surprise, when 
they came out and carried him into the hotel, 
to find that he was actually dead. 

It created quite a sensation, and while each 
of them felt in a measure guilty of wrong do- 
ing, there was really nothing that could fix any 
guilt, or even guilt on any of them. 

Six or eight months later. Carthage was 
down at Sterling, when he received an express 
package. He opened it and it was the plug hat 
which he had left at Pine Bluffs. When he 
saw what it was, he went white, and several 
days were required to steady his nerves to nor- 
mal condition. 

The event served to sober down all those 
present. After that they were less inclined 
to "turn themselves loose," when the unexpect- 
ed happened. Each felt the message : "Am I 
my brother's keeper." with new force. 



CHAPTER XXI 



PAXTON'S OGALLALA COMPANY — HALL'S FAMOUS DRIVE TO PINE RIDGE 
DICK BEAN'S DEATH — GUN MEN AND FRANTZ'S COMICAL EPISODE 



The organization of the Ogallala Cattle 
Company, was contemporaneous with that 
of the Two-Bar and the Bay State, and while 
Alex Swan was buying the big herds of Wy- 
oming, and G. W. Simpson, at Antelopeville, 
W. A. Paxton was buying those from Sidney 
to Ogallala. Among his lieutenants in Ne- 
braska were Eugene A. Hall, Mac. Radcliffe, 
and Dick Bean. 

Paxton's Keystone ranch was the first, and 
the nucleus of the Ogallala company's hold- 
ings. Shortly after the Shiedley ranches were 
acquired, and then began negotiations for the 
much desired Bosler herds ; George Bosler, the 
leading spirit in that organization knew that 



the brothers' many cattle had suffered less loss 
during the preceding winters, and that there 
was a large number of marketable steers. Pax- 
ton knew this also, but was not able .o make a 
satisfactory offer to the Boslers. 

He then took up negotiations with Dennis 
Sheedy, who had bought the Seven-U from 
Powers Brothers a few years before. Mr. 
Sheedy's books showed that he had thirty-five 
thousand cattle, but the Ogallala boys had been 
over the range and had found large quantities 
of dead cattle of that brand. 'Gene Hall esti- 
mated the survivors at not to exceed one-half 
of the book number. Paxton made two offers 
on this basis : one at twenty-eight dollars per 



132 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



head on actual count, or about half that amount 
if accepted on book account. 

Jerry Drummer had been foreman of the 
Seven-U for about twelve years, and he ad- 
vised Sheedy to take the offer of twenty-eight 
dollars per head. Hall, with ten expert cow- 
men, besides the wagon men, was detailed to 
receive, and to prevent any possible errors in 
count, each animal received, was to be branded 
"S". Paxton evidently believed that an ef- 
fort would be made to swamp the receiving 
outfit, and confuse the count ; perhaps expect- 
ing that a number would get away, and be 
rushed through the counting chutes the second 
time. To prevent any such complication, he 
sent two other outfits of equal dimension, un- 
der Radcliffe and Bean, to assist. 

On the first day of August, 1884, six thou- 
sand cattle were rounded up out of Nine Mile 
canyon, now in Scotts Bluff county, and deliv- 
ered at the Seven-U ranch. The thirty men had 
them about half branded with the receiving 
brand, when four thousand more were deliver- 
ed from the Winter creek round-up, which was 
a few miles farther up the rive. The cattle 
were mostly of the long-horn Mexican type. 

"Now," sand 'Gene, "Mr. Sheedy has shot 
his wad." And so it proved. About five 
thousand more were delivered in smaller 
bunches that fall, and about five hundred the 
following spring. That concluded the delivery. 
Had Sheedy accepted Mr. Paxton's alternate 
offer, he would have been ahead, and the fact 
that his foreman, Drummer, had wrongly ad- 
vised, caused some friction between Sheedy 
and Drummer in the days that followed. 

George Bosler died shortly after the Seven-U 
transfer, and Paxton in 1885 struck a deal 
with the other brother for the entire Bosler 
outfit, for one million dollars. The 3oslers 
had ranches on the Blue, on Brown creek, on 
Coldwater and Lost creek. It was a great 
stroke of business for the Ogallala, for big 
dividends of the company followed the ship- 
ment of beef cattle the three following years, 
and these beef cattle came very largely from 
the Bosler herds. Ten thousand beeves were 
shipped in the autumn of 1885, practically all 
Bosler cattle, and the company paid seventeen 
per cent, dividends. The following year ten 
thousand more, principally Bosler steers, went 
on the market, and another big dividend was 
declared. 

'The Jews," and others of the east began to 
take notice and nibble at the capital stock of 
the Ogallala company, but Paxton held them 
off. The big storm of the spring of 1886, 
destroyed many thousand cattle, and drove 
Swan and his Two-Bar outfit on the rocks, 



and John Clay took the helm. But Paxton's 
outfit was stronger, and weathered the storm 
with little loss. The big shipment of 1886, 
were followed by shipments in 1887 that ex- 
ceeded all expectations and drove investors 
towards the Ogallala company, clammering for 
a chance to invest in the capital stock. Seven- 
teen thousand beeves were shipped, and of 
those about ten thousand came from the Bosler 
herds. 

The granger settlements made it advisable 
to move the remainder of the cattle to Wyom- 
ing, and the home ranch was to be on Little 
Wind river, about sixty-five miles northwest 
of Fort Fetterman, or Douglas. Paxton had 
bought the Boyd herds which were on the 
lower North river, and in all he had about 
probably fifteen thousand head to move, be- 
sides several thousand calves. One of the 
Boyds (James E.) later became governor. 
Boyds sold to the Ogallala company about three 
thousand cattle. 

Herds were divided into four lots, and 
'Gene Hall broke the trail with thirty-six hun- 
dred cattle and one thousand calves. One of 
the other herds was under Bill Hanger, and 
another was in charge of Bud Chambers. 

On August first, Hall started from Camp 
Lake, which is the present site of the Hall & 
Graham ranch, in south Box Butte county. 

1888, being the tenth years for Hall upon the 
range, he determined that it should be his last, 
except in business for himself. W. C. Irvine 
had been made general manager for the Ogal- 
lala company, and the company was passing in- 
to the hands of new people. Irvine had ideas 
of economy that meant reduced wages, and 
one was to cut 'Gene's salary from one hundred 
dollars to seventy-five dollars per month. 
'Gene said "nothing doing," so he remained 
out the . season at the old figure, for Paxton 
had told Irvine that he had better keep him at 
that. Knowing that Hall intended to quit at 
the end of the season, he thought he would 
give him a job that would break his headiness, 
and keep him on the range, for he was a good 
cowman. 

Fie gave him three thousand and thirty 
steers by actual count for delivery at the Rose- 
bud agency. The trip was a trying one, over 
a dry country, but it was made so carefully 
that it ended with a full count, and all in good 
condition. The feat caused considerable fa- 
vorable comment at the time. 

The habit of the steer is to get lonesome, 
or homesick for the native range, and once in 
a while after bedding down at night, a single 
steer will get up and start back along the 
trail in the darkness. When perhaps a hundred 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



133 



feet away from the herd, he will begin a low 
moo, or call; and sometimes another, or sev- 
eral others will get up and follow. In the 
morning, a few out of a herd of thousands 
are seldom missed. 

To avoid this loss, after the cattle were 
bedded down and the boys had turned in, Hall 
would go back along the trail three or four 
hundred yards, and tethering his broncho to 
his wrist, would crawl into his tarpaulin. The 
lowing of a straying steer never failed to awak- 
en him, and he would rise and turn it back into 
the herd. Eight or ten other steers were picked 
up along the way, and they made up any loss 
that did occur, for in spite of the best of 
care, occasionally one will drop by the wayside. 

Hall's old partner, Bean, had rounded up a 
smaller bunch on the North river, and had 
driven them from Camp Clarke to the Rose- 
bud, and he was there when Hall arrived. 

Mort Eberly, who was Hall's right hand 
man on the trip, later became inspector for 
the Wyoming Stock Association, and was sta- 
tioned at Sheridan, from which place, in 1893, 
he went "the long trail." 

William A. Paxton, whose family is now 
extinct, stood pre-eminent among Cattle Kings 
of all the early years. He would stand by his 
friends, even though it entailed personal losses 
through their weakness. He was unfaltering 
in fidelity. In some ways he was most diffi- 
dent. I once witnessed a meeting between 
the Cow-premier and Roosevelt. Paxton was 
timid, and appeared ill at ease in the presence 
of Theodore, evidently looking up at the po- 
sition of President, and had a consciousness of 
his own inferior position. Yet, I am sure there 
are others who join with me in the thought 
that in many ways Paxton was the greater of 
the two. And that takes nothing from the 
glory of Teddy Roosevelt. 

Among Paxton's "pets" was John String- 
fellow, who went to work for him on the 
Keystone ranch in 1873. He had met him the 
year before, but went back to Texas, only to 
return the following year, to hunt up and seek 
employment of "the man with the big black 
whiskers." 

Stringfellow drank furiously on occasion, 
and played Monte whenever he could find a 
game. This kept him indebted to Paxton, who 
several times wiped out a score of fifteen hun- 
dred dollars debt, just because John was a 
good cowman, and sometimes went to pieces 
when he contemplated the amount that he 
owed. Old cowmen and associates said that 
he was "a whirlwind of hell, when drunk," 
whatever that may mean. 

Paxton once promised him a hundred steers 



if he would remain sober for one year. He 
held out from September until the following 
July, when a visit to Ogallala, and the meet- 
ing of some old friends, ended in a spree of 
unusual dimension'. 

John was a brother of Al Stringfellow, who 
was with the late Bay State round-ups in west- 
ern Nebraska. Al was the fellow who, with 
Bill Kelly, at the wedding of Ed. A. Boots 
and "Dude" Wright on Pumkin creek, were 
found in the grey dawn playing "andy over" 
the hay stack with their six-shooters. 

Dick Bean was another of Paxton's "favor- 
ites," who while one of the finest fellows on 
the range, and one of the best cowmen in the 
Ogallala outfits, also had a weakness for strong 
drink. Bean could single out a steer and drive 
it through fire and water, and he could stick 
to the back of a horse, but he could not drive 
a team. It would always ramble about at will. 
Most of the teams were gentle cow-ponies 
broken to harness, and they would rather take 
to the prairies than follow the road. This in- 
ability to drive caused his death in 1894 under 
a load o+ lumber, which he was hauling to 
the North river to build a house for himself 
and wife on a small ranch that he had picked 
out for their future home. 

Charles Stepp had a little affair with Bean 
that illustrates his peculiar characteristics. 
Stepp had charge of a bunch of cattle that 
had to cross the river a little below Camp 
Clarke and Bean was to assist. The river was 
high, and the cattle turned down stream when 
they reached the deep water, and commenced 
to swim. Bean was looking after the lead 
cattle to keep them from turning about, and 
start a mid-stream mill — or circling move- 
ment. Stepp became excited, and shouted to 
Bean to head them off and turn them to the 
other shore. Bean was a better cowman than 
Stepp, and shouting directions in a cow out- 
fit, is a violation of the ethics of the range. 
Bean was tempted to pull in shore, and let 
them go as they willed, but they were Ogal- 
lala cattle, and he was working for the Ogal- 
lala Cattle Company. 

He swam his horse beside the lead steers 
for one hundred and fifty yards down the 
stream, in order to let Stepp do some worrying, 
and then turned his horse close to the leaders, 
and with his hand slapped a little water on the 
side of their heads nearest to him. They were 
turned easily, and quietly, and swam straight 
for the other shore, as desired. 

Stepp realized that he had made a bad break, 
and that night and for several days, he tried 
to show favoritism for Bean, but he was too 
dignified to acknowledge that he had broken 



134 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



cow-camp ethics, or to apologize. Not long 
thereafter, Bean quit the outfit and went to 
Cheyenne. Paxton heard of his departure, and 
also heard of the episode. 

"Charlie," he said, "you done it. Now, you 
go to Cheyenne and bring him back. Do 
whatever is necessary to bring him back. See ?" 

Stepp evidently "observed," for he went to 
Cheyenne, and Bean came back with him, and 
they were apparently the best of friends. The 
stockmen's convention was on at that time ; 
the Hart outfit had found Bean unattached, 
and had hired him, but Stepp had done "what 
was necessary" to secure his release. 

A short time before Bean's marriage, 'Gene 
Hall went to Ogallala, where he found Bean, 
with John Hewitt, Charlie Gifford and Jim 
McMahon in a high state of hilarity. They 
were wearing long linen dusters and straw 
hats, as burlesque new-comers. Bean went 
over to the store, and soon returned with a 
straw hat, and dragging a new linen duster by 
the sleeve. They insisted that 'Gene join them 
in the celebration, but Hall said the country 
was settling up with civilized folks, and that 
he did not aprove of the "rough stuff" they 
were pulling off, and that he told them as much. 
Which little lecture on proper etiquette was 
received with much merriment by the four hi- 
larious men. 

In the Texas Panhandle, and along the Texas 
trail as far north as Dodge City, the gun 
man was much more in evidence, than in the 
northern ranges. In the south range country, 
feuds sprang up that sometimes wiped out an 
entire outfit. There were many gun fights, 
and homicide whenever there was the slightest 
provocation. The northern ranches tried to 
evade the mistakes of the fire-brand, hair- 
trigger south. 

If a sure-enough bad man became affiliated 
with an outfit, he was the first one to be let out 
by the management. Hunter & Evans were 
not so vigilant as Shiedleys, Daters, Boslers, 
Coad, Swan, Creighton, Paxton and many oth- 
ers, in keeping out the undesirables, but all 
had their troubles. 

Floyd Grey was a "Bosler terrier" one sea- 
son, but was let out at its close, as many an- 
other was let out for the same reason. Grey 



was a very angry man, and said if he ever 
met George Bosler, he would knock his teeth 
down his throat with his six-shooter. George 
died a short time after, so that if the threat 
was ever put into execution, it was on Another 
Range. 

Occasionally some one would come up the 
trail looking for the man who had killed his 
friend. Justification for killing the man, would 
lay in the fact that the proposed victim had 
taken unfair advantage of the friend and sent 
him away on the "long, long trail." 

In some of the worst killing towns, it be- 
came the habit of the authorities to disarm the 
boys that went on a spree. Truly that took 
away a lot of the fun, but it lessened the 
danger. Not that the boys cared to avoid the 
dangers, but the Cattle-premiers did not want 
to lose their valuable men. 

John Frantz was one of the boys that kept 
a gun just for the fun of hearing it pop. He 
was not a bad man, and had no homicidal 
traits of character. One day he arrived off 
the range at Kimball, and stopped at Ham 
Lilly's front street livery barn, which then stood 
next to the alley at the rear of the present 
Wheatgrowers hotel. Between the barn and 
the corner west, was Gassman's grocery store, 
and the few who could play horns, had gather- 
ed out in front of the store, practicing as 
"the Kimball Cornet Band." Johnny stepped 
into the alley beside the livery- stable, and espied 
a big sow, peacefully rooting into the stable 
debris. A good rider, wiry, and quick as a 
cat, Johnny leaped upon the back of the sow, 
who let out a series of grunts of disapproval, 
and plunged out of the alley, scattering the 
members of the band, as Johnny firing his 
six-shooter into the earth or sky, rode the 
frightened hog along the street. Without the 
gun, this escapade would have lost some of its 
joy for Johnny. He landed safely, "forked end 
down," after riding the protesting animal a few 
rods beyond the scattered but laughing musi- 
cians. The "practice" was off for the night, 
but Lew Schaefer did a thriving business in 
cove oysters that evening, and Billy Day and 
Mike Lynch were busy in their place of busi- 
ness. When Johnny landed in town, he always 
"touched it off." 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRAi 



135 



CHAPTER XXII 

A. HALL AND ROBERT GRAHAM'S OLD TIME RANCH — OGALLALA MEN 
AND EVENTS — INDIANS GET SOUTHERS — BARGAIN SALES 
OF RANCH LOCATIONS — HARPER'S DEAL 



Gene Hall, the foreman of the Blue River 
ranch, was but a kid of eighteen years, when he 
"drove drags," up the Texas trail in 1878. 
The older men of the outfit made him "eat 
dust," which consisted of picking up the strag- 
glers in the rear of the herds. 

Young as lie was, 'Gene saw the great grass 
ranges of western Nebraska, and mentally vow- 
ed to come back some day, and have a ranch 
of his own. How well he has succeeded, one 
can see by a visit to Camp Lake, where Hall 
and Graham have one of the finest ranches and 
range in the west. It is modelled after the 
old ranches ; foreman's or main ranch dwell- 
ing, mess house, bunk house, and stockade cor- 
ral. A little of the "modern" has crept in, 
birds have come with the groves, blue grass 
and clover have come with the birds, and in 
this age of concrete, no one could escape a 
little cement. But it has kept "the identity" of 
the ranches of forty years ago. 

In the spring of seventy-nine, Hall returned 
and arrived in Sidney "broke flat." He stopped 
at the "Miner's Hotel," which was in the south- 
west corner of the block in which you will now 
find Hon. W. P. Miles, and the Hons. Joseph 
and Robert Oberfelder. three of the old timers 
of Sidney. In the days of the middle eighties 
this block contained the emporium of Mike 
Tobin and Harry Winters, and the Metropoli- 
tan held the position on Front Street. Nearly 
all the old timers stopped at the Miner's hotel 
in 1879, and the landlord took 'Gene in and 
let him stay without pay, until he secured work. 
Stopping at the hotel was John Graham, with 
whom Hall visited and talked. 

Graham had drifted up the trail to Ogallala 
a year or two before, and while there, two of 
his friends, Billy Brewdon and another were 
killed in an affair with four other fellows. 
The four were said to be a rough lot, but one 
of them was Jack Southers, then deputy sheriff. 
The others were Joe Hughes, Billy Thompson 
and Bill Phebeus. Billy Thompson had the 
reputation of a really bad man, he having said 
to have killed the sheriff of Ellsworth, Kansas, 
about 1873. Phebeus was later hung by vigil- 
antes at Pueblo, Colorado, for stealing cattle. 

After the episode, Graham quit the range 
and took up his old trade of blacksmithing at 
Ogallala, waiting for the opportunity to pay 
them back in their own coin. He wanted to 



get the four together and "clean the whole out- 
fit" at one time. Once he had the affair almost 
in hand, when Frank King, who recently died 
at Broadwater, and who was then an officer 
of the law at Ogallala, got "a whiff of the 
wind," and took Graham's guns away from 
him. 

Graham stayed there all summer, then came 
to Sidney, for the four were now drifted their 
several ways. Graham complained bitterly, 
saying it "was ad — d shame that he never 
got satisfaction for the murdering of his 
friends." Graham went to work for the H- 
Three-Bar, or Hunter & Evans. 

The deputy sheriff in the Ogallala affair 
drifted up on the Niobrara and White river 
ranges also, and the story came down the Sid- 
ney Trail that the Indians had killed him. 
Years afterwards, the story comes out, of a 
meeting between Bill Nagles. of Hunter & 
Evans' outfit, and E. A. Hall of the Ogallala, 
which took place on Box Butte creek, north of 
Alliance. Nagles was in charge of a bunch 
of horses when they met. 

"Get down, 'Gene, and let's visit," says Bill. 
And they did, sitting cross-legged on the prairie 
for a long time. Finally the conversation turn- 
ed to the death of Southers, and Hall said: 

"Billy, do you reallv think the Indians killed 
him?" ' 

Bill looked at 'Gene in apparently owl-eyed 
astonishment, but each had sensed the other's 
though without the words. Then Nagles 
said: "I could put my hand on a horse in this 
bunch that could tell, if he could talk : and John 
Graham was riding that horse at the time 
Southers was killed." 

So Graham had got one of the four, the 
vigilantes another, and of the other two there 
is no report. Graham was later shot and killed 
by a Missourian. Bill Nagles a little later 
went to Oklahoma and accumulated wealth, 
and now they call him William Nagles. 

This unwritten law "to get the man who gets 
your friend" is responsible for one ol the 
graves at the Seven-U. When Powers Broth- 
ers were still at the helm, in 1879. two Texans 
drew their pay and started for their old range, 
and both had considerable money. The mother 
of one of them lived there. A week or two 
later one of them returned and said that he 
had changed his mind, and came back to work, 



136 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



but that his pard, the one whose mother was 
in Texas, had "gone on down the trail.*' 

Shortly afterwards a cow outfit was coming 
north, and they found in the brush along the 
Frenchman, the body of a dead man. There 
was another young Texan at the Seven-U who 
heard the story, and made some inquiry which 
satisfied him that it was the man who had start- 
ed to go to his mother in Texas. Subsequent 
correspondence from the mother said that her 
son had never reached home. The dead man 
had been shot and robbed. 

One day the Texan who had returned, said 
he guessed he would go to Camp Clarke, and 
the young man said : "I guess I'll ride along." 
Some of those about the old ranch said they 
felt that vibrant tenseness of the old west, 
that presaged "an event." But it was not the 
policy of one man to interfere with the "affairs" 
of another. 

The young man came back alone, and they 
buried the Texan with his boots on near the 
old ranch. Thus ended another matter where 
one fellow looked after the fellow who killed 
his friend. The grief of the mother was per- 
haps softened by the thought that her dead boy, 
had a living friend of such purpose, in the far 
North Platte valley. 

A few of the others connected with the 
Ogallala Company, and of the times are here 
briefly referred to : 

Frank King, who recently died at Broad- 
water, bought the Brown Creek ranch of the 
Ogallala Company after they took their cattle 
to Wyoming. He paid six hundred dollars 
for the land, buildings and equipment at the 
place. He was sheriff of Keith county at one 
time. 

Tom Fanning, who lives near Mitchell, came 
from Saint Louis in 1877, and went to work 
for Paxton & Wier on the Keystone ranch, 
which was on Clearwater creek.' Tom Lawr- 
ence was foreman. He was afterwards with 
Wier at Ogallala. when Wier was range man- 
ager of the Ogallala company, which he, and 
Paxton had organized, with headquarters in 
that city. 

W. A. Paxton, the originator of the com- 
pany, came from Missouri in 1867. He there 
learned the art of "whacking bulls." He had 
two yoke and a wooden axle sulky plow for 
breaking sod. It had a larger wheel for the 
furrow side, and no apparatus for levelling 
it up when on level ground. He took up 
freighting on arriving, which was considerable 
of an enterprise in western Nebraska, even 
after the Union Pacific was built. 

One M. R. Jacket and Louis Auftcngardner 



were interested in the cattle company. The 
latter still lives at Ogallala, and when the 
herd was taken to the northwest, Jacket parted 
with his interests, and located a ranch in Spring 
Canyon, just south of Lewellen, where I be- 
lieve he still lives (1919). 

Jacket's men captured a pair of young buf- 
falo over on the Stinking water, in the south 
part of Keith county, now Perkins county, in 
1885. He kept them with his herd until 1891, 
when he sold them to a butcher in Ogallala, 
who shipped them to Omaha. Cattle were 
low priced then, and when these buffalo 
brought one hundred dollars each, it was con- 
sidered an excellent price. 

E. M. Searle, afterwards state auditor, was 
station agent at Ogallala, then the greatest cat- 
tle shipping point west of Omaha. George 
Halligan, a brother of Attorney John Halligan 
at North Platte, was marshal, and being 
marshal of Ogallala required nerve, and good 
judgment. Mart DePreist was sheriff of 
Keith county about that time, which was also 
a job of responsibility in those earlier days. 
DePreist is now chief of police at Ogallala, 
(1919). 

Charlie McCune, who lives at Scottsbluff, 
is one of the boys that worked for the Ogal- 
lala outfit in its later days, when they were 
gathering the herds for the Wyoming drive. 

The several locations of ranches that had 
come into the possession of the Ogallala con- 
cern were sold on about the same basis of that 
sold to Frank King — a few dollars each. The 
values of such places were not considered of 
much consequence. Watering places had been 
early appropriated, and usually some cow 
puncher would make a government filing, and 
after making final proof, he would sell to the 
outfit for a few hundred extra dollars. 

Among these first locations of different 
cow companies were a lot of springs in the vi- 
cinity of Camp Clarke, which seemed to be 
quite a center of business, and well watered. 
Pumpkin creek and Lawrence Fork are to 
the southwest, with springs in many of the 
canyons. There were also Camp Creek springs, 
Deep Holes, Mud Springs, Rush and Cedar 
creeks to the southeast. Coldwater Canyon, 
Pussy Springs, Lower Dugout, Finguard 
creek, and Brown Creek springs were down the 
river and mostly on the north side. 

While these places had little commercial 
value to the bonanza cowmen who were tak- 
ing their -herds out of the country, they have 
been acquired and ard the foundations of 
many of the new ranches. There is Rems- 
burg's ranch at Pussy Springs, Lisco ranch 
on Cedar and Rush creeks, Beerline's ranch 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



137 



at the mouth of Brown creek ; Wagner's ranch, 
a little below it on the river; Slater's ranch 
in the Tar valley section ; Richardson's ranch, 
south of Horse Lake ; and there is J. W. 
Rodger's ranch, Hibler's ranch, Peer's ranch, 
Hubble's ranch, Smith's ranch, Johnson's 
ranch, Club ranch, DD ranch, Margesson's 
ranch. Hill's ranch, Hague's ranch, and many 
others. 

Illustrative of the value placed upon them, 
is the consideration of Adams, Redington 
ranch in Morrill county, which was probably 
as good a location as any of them. 

J. W. Harper came to Sidney, in September, 
1884, and homesteaded on the tableland, a 
few miles southwest of the old "Water Holes." 
In 1893, he bought Berry Brothers' quarter of 
land on Lawrence Fork, and shortly after 
acquired the Redington quarter and the Adams 
quarter. Adjoining the Berry land was four 
hundred and eighty acres belonging to Sam 
Fowler, and used as a horse ranch. Harper's 
water for irrigating his hay meadow came off 
the Fowler land, and he wanted to buy it. 
Fowler asked $1,400.00 for the whole acreage, 
which Harper thought was too much. 



But Fowler sold it to an Iowa man by the 
name of Battleax, I believe, and he immediate- 
ly offered to sell it for $2,200.00. Harper 
again refused to buy it, and Battleax sold to 
Bickel, another Iowa man. Bickel again tilted 
the price, and Harper, as he relates it, says : 
"I was afraid to take any more chances on 
Iowa men, and so negotiated its purchase for 
$3,200.00, and a new wagon." 

When Redington was attacked by the ''sell- 
ing fever," he offered his one hundred and 
sixty acres which contained some beautiful 
timber and about a mile of the creek, for 
$800.00. It also contained some valuable hay 
ground. Harper made him an alternate offer 
which he accepted. Harper was to put twenty 
cows on the place and Redington was to care 
for them. At the end of three years, all the 
increase of the herd was to belong to Reding- 
ton and the land to belong to Harper; and 
Harper was to make up the calf shortage each 
year, so that Redington was to have the full 
number of calves to start. Redington made 
some money by the transaction and Harper 
made more in the long run. About five years 
ago he sold the land to Neihus brothers for 
$19,250.00 



CHAPTER XXIII 

AN INDIAN WAGON RACE — BUILDING CAMP CLARKE BRIDGE — ROUND-UP 

WILD WEST SHOWS — TOM HORN'S OUTLAW HORSE — SIX 

THOUSAND CATTLE MILLING IN THE RIVER 



The gold seekers going into the Black Hills 
had three routes : One was by way of the 
Northwestern as far as the line was completed, 
somewhere in the Valentine country. From 
there the route was overland. The establish- 
ment of the Red Cloud agency on White river, 
and the attempt to domesticate the Indian, 
brought some freight to the agency by the 
same route. Indians were engaged to haul it. 
They were fitted out with a number of new 
wagons, which were loaded with provisions 
for regular distribution. They had an accom- 
paniment of a detachment of cavalry. All 
went well until they were well out of the Sand 
Hills, and in the vicinity of Gordon or Rush- 
ville. Here they were strung out for a num- 
ber of miles, and the notion seems to permeate 
each of the drivers at the same time, that he 



would like to be the first to arrive at the agency 
and show his new wagon. There was a grad- 
ual speeding up of the teams, in spite of the 
efforts of the cavalry to hold them down. By 
the time they reached the vicinity of Chadron 
they were going at a swift trot. In the mean- 
time the drivers, who had been clad in over- 
alls or jeans for the first time had become un- 
comfortable from the heat, and they had cut 
out the seats of their pantaloons to add to their 
comfort. 

When within twenty-five or thirty miles of 
the agency, the horses were warming up also, 
and to make it easier on them, the Indians be- 
gan to throw out sacks of flour, and slabs of 
bacon. They reached Red Cloud agency in a 
whirlwind of dust and going at top speed, and 
the road for miles back was lined with the pro- 



138 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



visions that were intended for regular distri- 
bution. There were no serious losses except 
for time, for the provender was gathered up, 
and the tough little horses of the range stood 
the race fairly well. 

Another route to the Black Hills was by 
Cheyenne, where the trail had been well broken 
to the North Platte river, and fairly well de- 
fined as far as Red Cloud, on White river. 

The third route was more of importance to 
western Nebraska. It was from Sidney, north, 
and was known as the Sidney trail. Its dis- 
advantages were that during the early part 
of the season, the North Platte river was high 
and dangerous to cross. Fort Laramie had a 
cantilever bridge, which is still in use (1919), 
and which had been hauled by wagons from 
Fort Leavenworth more than a decade earlier, 
in 1867, and erected at a cost of about $70,- 
000.00 by the government. 

During the dry season when the river cross- 
ing north of Sidney was easy to ford, there 
were two or three other places where water 
was scarce. 

Henry T. Clarke became the man of the 
hour. He went to the Union Pacific officials 
and secured their co-operation and they ship- 
ped the materials for the bridge , free of 
freight. Fie then secured the co-operation of 
the freighters, who each hauled a load or two 
to the river, free of expense, and some of them 
volunteered a part of the work. 

Camp Clarke came into existence, and with 
it the toll bridge. Tolls were charged the 
men who had donated work, and while they 
objected,, they paid the price, because they 
could not stop to palaver about it. Camp 
Clarke became the most important place of 
crossing the North Platte river, and it was on 
the center line of the Texas Trail. In the days 
of the cowmen it became a place of tremend- 
ous significance. 

According to stories of the early days the 
bridge also served other purposes than for 
crossing the river. A white desperado was 
found hanging there one time, with a placard 
rudely daubed pinned to him, which read : 
"In some ways he was a bad man, and in 
others a damnsite wuss." 

Here the round-ups of Nebraska and Wy- 
oming met and the Nebraska chuck wagons, 
many of them turned back, sending only repre- 
sentatives farther west to collect scattering 
strays. 

Some times thirty or forty outfits would as- 
semble at the "Sidney bridge." as the cow 
men called it. And, talk of your Wild Wot 
die iw ! There has been nothing like it in his- 
tory. There was nothing artificial in the buck- 



ing bronchos, or the roping, branding, or other 
hardy adventures incident of the round-up. 

Five hundred cowpunchers of the real sort 
gathered here in the early eighties, and they 
made a show of such marvelous dexterity and 
horsemanship that the trained athletes of Buf- 
falo Bill's and Frontier Aggregations seem like 
fading images on the sky-line of a glorious 
past. 

Camp Clark was situated on the south bank 
of the river, and the fort and a trading post, 
afterwards named Wellsville, were at the north 
end of the bridge. Here also was the famous 
old sod saloon. 

In the unwritten history of the cow men 
are many adventures, thrilling games, and oc- 
casionally a shooting-up of the old "soddy," 
and some of these events lap over the advent 
of the granger into western Nebraska. 

Some forty outfits and five hundred cow- 
punchers were there in eighty-four. It was 
a wet time and there had been a steady down- 
pour for two days, checking the progress of the 
work. 

"Swede Pete," a well-known character, was 
going into the old soddy to warm up, when 
he found his singing pardner who had taken 
on too much, was leaning in an attitude of de- 
jection, with both hands gripping into the rain- 
softened sod walls. His insecure handhold 
gave way, and he crumbled down in the alkali 
mud in a sorry heap. Just then he noticed 
"Pete," he said mournfully, " 'taint because 1 
don't like it. but I just can't keep it," — and he 
justified the statement. 

Then this man who had ridden a runaway 
"loco" over a sixty foot bluff, killing the horse, 
he himself coming up unhurt ; and who had 
ridden before stampedes on stormy nights, 
perhaps felt closer to the summit of the Great 
Divide than ever before ; or perhaps it was 
in humorous impulse, for he moaned dismally 
from the old cowboy song. "Oh. bury me not 
on the lone prairieee— ee." 

Mrs. E. Joy Johnson of Lusk, Wyoming, 
writes charmingly of these round-ups in "The 
Foreman of J. A. 6." when Laughlin, Cham- 
berlain, St. Claire, Woody, Snyder, DeHart, 
Robb, Sanely Ingraham. Flomer Welker, Perry 
Braziel, Johnny Minser, Johnny Frantz, Harry 
Haig, Ed. Wright, and others, many of whom 
still reside in western Nebraska were among 
the cowpunchers of the gatherings of eighty- 
four, and she also relates many amusing in- 
cidents. 

One of her stories is of Tom Horn's adven- 
tures with an outlaw horse. 

The picturesqueness of American frontiers- 
men would lose some of its attractiveness, — it 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



139 



would be less of an accurate figure of history, 
— 'if it lost the classical language of the cow- 
men. The profanity of a cowpuncher never 
seemed quite so profane as that of other men. 
It lacked the grossness of old-time sea captains 
and longshoremen. It seemed to have the justi- 
fication of being the effect of a cause. For 
instance, the picturesque name of Tom Horn's 
outlaw horse was "Damned-if-I-Do,"' which 
obtained from its peculiar characteristic never 
to carry a rider across a stream. Horn's ex- 
perience was none different from others. He 
was thrown in midstream and came near 
drowning. Perhaps, in view of his later 
achievements and death from the hangman's 
noose at Cheyenne a few years ago, it would 
have been better had they let him perish. This 
seems to emphasize the old saying that a man 
who is born to be hung, will never drown. 

In 1885 the "greasers" arrived in large num- 
bers, in charge of cattle from the south, which 
were being taken to Big Horn Basin and Mon- 
tana for summer range. ( )ne herd of six or 
seven thousand cattle, in charge of Mexicans, 
had been held on the south side of the river, 
just below Clarke's bridge, for a number of 
days, because of the swollen condition of the 
stream. 

The Mexican is not a daredevil fatalist like 
the American cowpuncher, and the hazard of 
crossing the river was "a plenty" to inspire him 
to indolence and waiting. The foreman was J. S. 
Robb, well-known as a good cowman, who was 
worried by the delay. He finally obtained the 
assistance of Johnny Peters and Runey Camp- 
bell. The former "went the Long-long Trail" 
a number of years ago, being a resident of 
Scotlsbluff at the time, and the latter now lives 
near Gering. Robb has also taken the "Long 
Trail." 

The cattle, after much effort were forced 
over the river bank, and away they went, 
swimming steadily, until about half-way across. 



when the leaders turned an arc downstream 
and started to return. Peters, Campbell and 
the foreman plunged their horses in to turn 
them back, but in the turning they continued 
the arc, and in a few moments six thousand 
cattle were milling in midstream where the 
water was six or eight feet deep. 

A fortune. $100,000.00 or more, was threat- 
ened with complete destruction. Three Ameri- 
can cowboys' reputations were in the scales 
(it destiny. Six thousand cattle were circling 
in the vortex of a whirlpool. Waves radiated 
out, waves ten or twelve feet high, and the 
"troughs" between them bared the sand of the 
river bed. 

On horse between the waves, the shores were 
hidden by walls of water, and then a ten foot 
wave would slap horse and rider in the face 
and roll over their heads, like a comber on 
the beach. The flaring cow-ponies met the 
succeeding waves head end. In the troughs be- 
tween two waves their hoofs braced in the 
yielding sand, their ears back, and the waves 
often lifted them backward a few feet. 
Emerging the alert ears flipped the water off, 
and the riders quickly getting their bearings 
the horses moved rapidly as indicated by knee 
pressure and bridle rein. Steadily they worked 
round, not daring to turn side to the milling 
steers, — for a wave to strike them sideways 
contained fearful menace. 

Peters reached the opposite side of the herd 
first. The opportunity was soon presented 
to turn the heads of a few to the northern 
shore and the wheeling thousands slowly un- 
wound as the thread of swimming steers strung 
out towards the grassy flats on the north side. 
The herd had been saved and tin- cowboys had 
justified the reputation of courage and daring 
which was the boast of the fraternity. The 
Mexicans crossed the Camp Clarke bridge, and 
took the cattle on into the north. 



140 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XXIV 

THE FARQUERERS AND CROSS COUNTRY RIDING — HUNTING GEESE ON 

HUGHES ISLAND — FUN OF THE FRONTIER — JIMMY 

MOORE'S LONG WALK 



About the time of the coming of the grang- 
ers, Farquerer Brothers arrived, and located 
in the canyons between Redington Gap and 
Chimney Rock. They were also picturesque 
Englishmen, like Geo. Laing. Henry Brad- 
ford who stayed at the Seven-U much of the 
time, went about with the Farquerers and 
Laing. 

Bradford had a penchant for exaggeration 
and a vivid imagination. As the Hon. T. C. 
Osborne, elected members of the new constitu- 
tional convention, (1919) says: "Bradford was 
a constitutional pervaricator," an opinion once 
quite general among the old timers. 

At that, he was an entertainer of the first 
class, and when it came to good yarn, "Old 
Brad," as he was called, was an inexhaustible 
supply. He was an interesting character, and 
full of droll humor. 

One time Brad was with a party doing the 
sights of early Sidney, when his exchequer 
ran low. He politely told the others of his 
intention to retire. When hard pressed he 
told the reason that he had no further funds 
to draw upon. The others, with true west- 
ern spirit, told him that they did not care 
for his money, but that they wanted his society. 
He said: "Alright, boys, if it is my intellect 
that you want, I am with you, but I am out 
of cash." 

These English boys used to keep good 
hounds and guns, and horses, and rode their 
English postage-stamp saddles straight up and 
many was the time that they rode to hounds, 
chasing wolves and coyotes, and antelope. 

John M. Adams, now of Georgia ; £. V. S. 
Pomeroy, now of California ; J. J. Mcintosh, 
late of Sidney ; and others, joined with them 
in these rides. 

The bridge north of McGrew in the east 
part of Scotts Bluff county, crosses what is 
known as Hughes Island, and in the early 
days wild geese nested upon this island, and 
hatched their young. 

The English sportsmen and their guests 
would take their hounds and horses, when the 
young geese were big enough to swim, but not 
old enough to fly, and they would drive a brood 
into the water, and try to ride them down, or 
catch them with the dogs. There was a great 
splashing and shouting, and the dogs entered 
into i'h full spirit of the chase. Occasionally 



a horse would strike a honey-comb place in 
the sand and go down, the rider taking a full 
dive into the water over the animal's head. 
The young geese would try to swim away 
from their pursuers, but when nearly overtaken 
they would dive, coming up hundreds of feet 
away, and then hunters and hounds would go 
after them again. It was great sport for the 
sportsmen, but a little hard on the young geese ; 
and there is no more nesting on Hughes 
Island. 

Only a few days ago, someone speaking of 
the "English boys," mentioned Margeson 
Brothers. The Margesons came at a later date, 
and they, along with good old Dan Callahan, 
lived at the head of Creighton canyon. The 
Farquerers were earlier, and differently iden- 
tified. Cheighton canyon was named after the 
Creightons acquired Coad's ranch at old Scotts 
Bluff stage station. 

There were three of the Margesons, who 
later went into the country east of Camp 
Clarke, then they separated and went their sev- 
eral ways. One is quite wealthy in the ranch 
business near Pueblo, Colorado ; another went 
to Australia, and prospered in the sheep busi- 
ness. Hal, the younger, was educated for the 
cloth, and returned to England, where he took 
up the work of the ministry. 

1887 and 1888 witnessed the last round-ups 
in Nebraska, where I assisted in driving the 
Circle-Block cattle across the state line into 
Wyoming. In 1888 a considerable party of 
North river folks had gone to Sidney to make 
final proof on pre-emptions, crossing the river 
at Clarke's bridge. A number, including Jim- 
my Moore, (not the Pony Express rider,) 
were from Minatare. They had been together 
on the trip, and were a trifle the worse for 
wear, when they stopped at W'ellsville over- 
night on their return. 

The driver, Ed. Eastman, had charge of a 
pony of whiskey, which, he alleged, was for 
a neighbor, and he had just reason to fear its 
safety. He hid it under "Extract" Smith's bed, 
which was not exercising the best of judgment. 

"Extract" Smith was custodian of the old 
sod saloon, and the first part of his monicker 
obtained of his consecration to the cause of 
absorbing lemon extract. 

It is needless to say that Ed.'s strategy did 
nut avail, and early in the evening a number 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



141 



of the party, including Jimmy, found way 
to the pony. After several visits into the inner 
sanctuary of the sod cabin, Jimmy startled his 
friends by emerging in the open, hugging the 
pony in his arms, and declaring himself the 
reincarnation of the Pony Express rider, and 
that in the hereafter he would carry the pony 
as a penance" for the pony's previous experience 
in carrying him. Only a part of this volun- 
tary acceptance of Karmic law, came to his 
friends in the crude classics of mortals, and 
much was derived by inference and deduction. 

Before long Jimmy was carefully tucked 
away, outside the building, his couch the terra 
firma, his canopy the sky, while his friends 
continued the night revels. In the early morn- 
ing, he awoke, thoroughly chilled, and loud 
were his lamentations ; so continuously loud 
that other sleepers were disturbed. So when 
the belated stars were vanishing, Jimmy's out- 
fit took up its journey on to Minatare, twenty 
miles away. In some manner Jimmy's de- 
parture was delayed. He departed about one 
hundred yards behind the wagon. 

It was thoughtful of the boys to relieve 
Jimmy of a part of his load if he were com- 
pelled to walk twenty miles. His six guns, 
weighing several pounds, had been thought- 
fully transferred to the wagon before starting. 

While Jimmy lacked a bit the night before 
in ability to stay by his friends, today he gave 
evidence of his splendid qualities. And for the 



twenty miles he followed the wagon at a maxi- 
mum distance of about one hundred yards. 
When he ran the wagon rattled along a little 
faster, and when he walked the wagon slowed 
down, and there were opportunities for social 
chatter. 

Sometimes the conversation waxed warm, as 
Jimmy vehemently expressed pronounced opin- 
ions on sociology, genealogy and evolution, 
specifically referring to the men in the wagon 
as examples. 'The classic outbursts were un- 
fortunately forever lost in an atmosphere of 
constantly increasing temperature, and on 
and appreciative but delirious audience ahead. 
The wagon arrived at Minatare at exactly 
12:10 P. M., mountain time, Jimmy at 12:12, 
and at intervals of about fifteen minutes, for 
sometime thereafter, other wagons followed 
Jimmy into town. These were driven by Win- 
field Evans, A. W. Mills, Ab. Malloy, and 
others, who were at times almost within hail- 
ing distance, and plain in view for the greater 
part of the twenty miles. 

They had witnessed a splendid triumph of 
mind over matter. The obsession of Jimmy's 
intellect in the one determination to ride in the 
one particular wagon, and intense interest in 
the lines of conversation, obscured the slight- 
est flash of reasoning that by waiting a few 
moments at the roadside, one of the succeeding 
wagons could overtake him. 



CHAPTER XXV 



THE FIRST GRANGERS — MURDER OF COLLINS AT CAMP CLARKE — SHERIFF 
CAMPBELL GETS DOC. ROMINE — BEGINNING OF MINATARE 



About five miles east of Scotts Bluff moun- 
tain, and two or three miles northeast of the 
Overland stage and pony express stopping 
place, which in the younger years was called 
"Scotts Bluff Station," there is a log house. 
This house is a commodious one-story building, 
the logs being hewn from the native pines, 
which in earlier days crowned the hills, en- 
circling round to the south, and from which the 
sturdy energy of pioneers made their habita- 
tions. 

In the turbulent years of the Overland 
Trail, Howard Stansbury wrote of the great 
dead forest of red cedar, fallen as if destroyed 



by a storm, and young pines were growing in 
the midst thereof. 

These pines had reached the proportions of 
sizeable house-logs when the pioneers of a gen- 
eration ago availed themselves of the gift of 
nature, to build homes, barns, sheds, corrals, 
and they took the dead cedars and dry pitch 
pine logs for fence posts and fuel. 

In the dwelling mentioned, the first rooms 
of which were builded over thirty-five years 
ago, lives one of the first permanent settlers of 
the present Scotts Bluff country. 

"Fiddler Campbell," the cowboys used to call 
him. and far and wide Runey Campbell and his 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



old violin travelled to attend the round-up 
dances, and hops of the early grangers. 

Years ago, this editor found "the gem of the 
prairie" under the shadow of Wildcat moun- 
tain ; and when we were married, Runey 
Campbell and Wellington Clark brought their 
violins twenty-five miles to play at our wed- 
ding party. Clark had a dulcinier or lap-organ, 
also, with which he varied the music. 

And "with heart and fiddle still in tune," 
Campbell and his fine family reside happy in 
their rugged, comfortable bungalow, and sur- 
rounded by the broad fertile acres of alfalfa, 
which, like a carpet of green stretches away 
towards the hills and to the river. 

Runey Campbell, is a distant relative of 
Robert Campbell, who erected the first rude 
stockade on Jacques Laramie's Fork, which 
was destined to become the historic Fort Lara- 
mie. He, himself, came into western Nebras- 
ka country before the famous Bay State Land 
& Cattle Company began their extensive opera- 
tions in the west. 

At that time, the territory embraced in, 
Scotts Bluff county contained not a permanent 
settler, and no white woman had ever trod 
the turf, or gathered wild flowers here, except 
the transient" pilgrims of the tragic Overland 
Trail. 

Kimball, then called Antelopeville, was a 
small station on the Union Pacific, consisting 
of a little box depot, a section house, and two 
stockade dwellings, made of railroad ties on 
end, with dirt for roof and floor. 

Jim Kinney, the veteran ranchman and at- 
torney of Kimball county, lived in one, and in 
the other dwelt Will Gaws, the hunter and 
trapper, surrounded by his simple wants — 
his traps, his guns, his few handy untensils, 
and the skins of animals slain. 

Campbell secured employment with the Cir- 
cle-Arrow ranch, then operated by Mead, 
Evans & Company. Jim Shaw was foreman. 

Shaw and Campbell became intimate friends, 
and when Shaw was arrested for the murder 
of Collins, the bartender of the sod saloon at 
the north end of Camp Clarke bridge, Camp- 
bell firmly believed and maintained that he 
was wrongfully accused. 

The events which led to the killing are 
partly lost in the shadows of the past, but 
there was a witness to the tragedy, who told 
the following story. 

Shaw, Campbell and others engaged in the 
drive, bad gathered at the famous crossing of 
the river, and according to regular custom, 
Shaw was engaged in a social game of poker, 
with four or five others, including a gambler 
b\ the name of G illins. 



Of those present, few knew of any hard 
feelings existing between Collins, the gambler, 
and Collins, the bartender, yet there are those 
who maintain that such an enmity existed. 
Shaw had had a few words, not at all violent, 
with Collins the bartender, but that had passed 
with no lingering sulkiness. 

The game had proceeded with • the regular 
grind, without premonition of trouble. Shaw 
sat facing the bar, with Collins, the gambler, 
directly opposite. Collins, the bartender, came 
along and stood behind Collins the gambler, 
when the latter, with deliberation took his 
sombrero from his head, and with a downward 
sweep, extinguished the lamp. There followed 
a flash and report. My informant believes 
that Collins the gambler swung his left arm 
backwards and discharged the weapon. 

Collins the bartender was instantly killed, 
and Jim Shaw arrested, but after an expensive 
delay and trial at Sidney, he was liberated for 
want of evidence. 

Campbell's nearest neighbors were ten miles 
away, and they were ranchmen, but that was 
not for long. A. W. Mills was soon putting 
up his soddy just across the river, and Joe 
Smith was building at Tabor (now Minatare). 
George W. Fairfield, Wellington Clark, Theo- 
dore Harshman, and others builded in the same 
vicinity. Josh Stevens builded his humble 
home in Cedar Valley, and Charley Smith in 
the Creighton flat near the present site of 
Melbeta. Captain W. R. Akers, the veteran 
irrigator built near Collins (now Morrill) the 
famous "sod house that covered seven Akers," 
as the old settlers used to tell the tenderfeet. 
Wild horses were plentiful then, while black- 
tail deer and droves of antelope were com- 
mon, and mountain sheep sported in the rocks 
of Scotts Bluff and Castle Rock. 

Campbell has always been direct in his deal- 
ings with his fellow men, and true to the ways 
of the untrammeled west, the fine little tech- 
nicalities so common in law bothered him not 
one whit when later he was chosen sheriff of 
the new county of Scotts Bluff. 

When Romine wrecked the finances of the 
mercantile establishments at new Mitchell and 
Bridgeport, he fled to Boston. Sheriff Camp- 
bell, armed with a warrant for his arrest fol- 
lowed. A Massachusetts official held Romine, 
waiting Campbell's arrival, told Runey to get 
a requisition from the governor and take the 
prisoner. 

"What do I need of anything like that?" 
asked Campbell, "I came after him, didn't I? 
Well, I can take him home without bothering 
the governor." which he did, for Romine came 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



back with Campbell and was turned over to 
the courts here for trial. 

A. W. Mills and Joe Smith were the first 
to build houses on the north side of the river 
in the present limits of Scotts Bluff county. 
Mills started his first and Smith finished his 
the first. The first pump was driven by Well- 
ington Clark on the place of Mr. Purdy, and 
while a man was on the way to the river to get 
some water to prime the pump, a cow was 
milked and the pump was primed with milk. 

One evening, while Mills and Smith were 
working on Mills's soddy, they had reached the 
top of the walls, the sods seemed so heavy to 



them that they improvised a slide with the 
endgate from the wagon to the top of the 
wall, and were working them up in the slow 
and laborious way. George Baltes came along 
afoot. He had walked all the way from Sid- 
ney. They told him when they finished un- 
loading they would go to camp, and get sup- 
per, and he had better tarry with them for the 
night. George accepted, and notwithstanding 
his long walk and weariness, he picked up the 
sod and planted them on the top of the wall 
without slide or help. George was a powerful 
young man and he keeps much of his strength 
rnd vigor after thirty-five yea r s. 



CHAPTER XXVI 



PERRY BRAZIEL ARRIVES ON THE TEXAS TRAIL — TRAILING CATTLE 
TUDITH BASIN — SUNDERLING'S ELK-SKIN TROUSERS — THE 
DRIVE TO PINE RIDGE — TWO GIRLS OF THE PRAIRIE 



TO 



Along about 1879, Perry Braziel "met up" 
with "Shanghai" Pierce, at Coffeyville, Kan- 
sas, and from there to the North Platte val- 
ley was only a short drive according to old 
ways of thinking. Colonel Braziel said that 
the country looked good enough to stay in a 
while, and he went to work for Coad, by whom 
he was employed for two or three years. Then 
the cow business went through a transforma- 
tion. 

In 1878 the range loss had been enormous, 
estimated by the men on the ground at fifty 
percent, owing to the severity of the winter. 
In 1884 history repeated itself in this respect, 
although not quite to the same proportion. 

The old timers had gotten enough of the 
cow business. As the romance of ranching 
was appealing to eastern investors and ad- 
venturers, the westerners thought it a good 
time to sell out. The ranchers kept book ac- 
counts, of the stock supposed to belong 
to them out on the range. This was done by 
adding a reasonable percentage for increase of 
calves. For each one thousand cows put 
upon a given range, say in the spring of 
1875, by "the spring of 1878. there should be 
about six thousand head of mixed cattle. 
There ought to be eight hundred or more old 
cows ready for the market. 

With a fifty percent loss, the proceeds from 
the ranches purchased would show up consid- 
erably less than anticipated from an examina- 



tion of the books. Sixteen hundred market- 
able cattle, which would more than pay the 
original investment, were cut down to eight 
hundred by actual roundup count. It was 
better business tactics not to sell the actual 
cattle, but to sell the ranches and the num- 
bers shown on the books. This could not 
be done to old timers at face value, and the 
new crowd needed some one of local standing 
to tie to, in their transactions. That is what 
brought into existence the vast spreading ac- 
tivities of Creighton, Paxton and Swan. 

In 1886 Braziel had charge of one of the 
big herds, about seven thousand head, bound 
for the Judith Basin in Montana. In the out- 
fit were a number of those whose names were 
familiar in western Nebraska ; among which 
were George W. Sunderling, and "Gunny 
Sack" Pete, and there was a long lean Mexi- 
can in the bunch. George W. had one crown- 
ing virtue that gave him the respect of all his 
associates, although some of the boy> treated 
him lightly. He was loyal and indulgent to 
his mothers and sisters. The mother was one 
who aspired for a more aristocratic life than 
their humble circumstances would permit, and 
had a considerable degree of intellectual at- 
tainment, and Grace and Bessie shared in the 
ambition. George W. would impoverish him- 
self to secure for them all the comfort possible 
on the old place on Pumpkin creek. 

When he started with Braziel on this trip. 



144 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



he was not clad in an overplus of garment. 
In fact, by the time they had reached Big 
Horn Basin, George was very nearly "out of 
pants." 

In one of the tall cottonwoods along the 
river bank, high up in the branches, the Mexi- 
can discovered the burial place of a Cheyenne 
Indian. He threw his rope up and got hold 
of the limb and shook the corpse to the ground. 
He then unrolled the body and took therefrom 
a fine pair of elkskin trousers. With them he 
returned to camp and sold them to Sunderling 
for ten dollars on time. It was sometime later, 
before George W. learned of the place where 
he had secured them, but as he really needed 
them, and had experienced no ill effects from 
their use, he continued to wear them. They 
were of excellent material for they lasted him 
three or four years. 

The last heard of George Sunderling he was 
sheep inspector for the state of Montana, and 
wore a Prince Albert coat with a top hat. 
His brother Lee, or better known as "Spud," 
was also in Montana. 

The coming on of settlers, the filling up of 
vacant lands in the valleys and on the high 
plains of western Nebraska crowded the 
Texas trail steadily farther west, and the 
last of its use was at the crossing of the North 
Platte river near the mouth of Rawhide creek. 
It scarcely touched the soil of Nebraska, ex- 
cept such herds as were driven to Red Cloud 
and Spotted Tail agencies. These were taken 
generally up the Rawhide past "Texas Toms" 
Snow's place, and near the Patrick ranch, to 
the head waters of Running Water or White 
river, depending upon which agency they were 
destined. 

In the spring of 1888, Colonel Braziel trail- 
ed his last large herd, which were fat cattle 
from Mitchell valley, and were taken to the 
Pine Ridge, or Spotted Tail agency. They 
were routed down the river through the grang- 
er settlements to Camp Clarke, and from there 
through the sandhills into Sheridan county. 

After that year the roundup ceased to be an 
institution of great importance in this state, 
and those of farther west were never of the 
magnitude of these that swept across the vast 
pastures of western Nebraska. 

In the middle eighties Doc. Middleton was a 
respectable cowpuncher working for Powers, 
on the Kingen ranch near the present site of 
Mitchell. But about that time he visited Sid- 
ney, and in a fight with two soldiers and John 
Barleycorn, there was a little case of homi- 
cide which started him, and it took Billy Likens 
and the majesty of the law to bring him back. 



Leonard Harrison, late of the Driftwood and 
now of Gering valley; Hank Wise, the one- 
eyed cowpuncher; Al Stringfellow, Ad Carth- 
age, and many of the other old boys were here ; 
and a larger number of them have gone "trail- 
ing on the Other Ranges." 

In 1885 and 1886 the grangers came up the 
North river in long caravans. Among the 
earliest to arrive were the Rayburns, who set- 
tled in Horseshoe Bend, and the Ashfords, 
who located on Pumpkin creek near Wild- 
cat mountain. Ida Rayburn and Gertrude 
Ashford were about the first eastern young 
ladies to arrive, and they became great chums, 
often visiting one another. That is how I 
first met Colonel Braziel. He had taken to 
heart the words written in those days, which 
ran as follows : : 

As settlement moves to the west, 

The cowmen have receded ; 
They're "branded" with the dim, dim past, 

To other lands "stampeded." 

The grangers scar the virgin sod 
With breaking plow and harrow, 

They mar the fields of golden rod 
For harvests of tomorrow. 

We gladly bid you stay through life 
Come with us and be a granger ; 

Come, settle down and take a wife, 
And cease to be a ranger. 

For thirty years these girl chums have 
shared with Perry and me all the joys and re- 
grets of the growing west. I often wonder how 
they were so unwise, but as Waldo Winter- 
steen of Fremont, once said, we were "sure 
enough romancers." 

The moonlight is beautiful on Wildcat 
mountain and on the castles in the hills of 
Horse Shoe Bend. There were: 

"The wild goose haunts on the willowed isles, 
And mad, mad rides for a dozen miles.' 

These were elements that diverted analytic 
minds. They fell in love with the prairie and 
the mountains, and we were entities thereof, 
which was our good fortune. Signal Buttes 
stand sentinels above the broad irrigated acres 
of Colonel Braziel and family, in the west 
edge of Scotts Bluff county, while the Baby- 
lonian facades of Scotts Bluff mountain stand 
like collosal ruins frowning across the river 
at the citv in which we dwell. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



145 



CHAPTER XXVI 

LAING'S RANCH — THE WATER HOLES — DEATH OF WHEELER — FIRST HOGS 

ON NORTH RIVER — FIRST HOGS ON PUMPKIN CREEK — 

KILLING RATTLESNAKES 



When the grangers began to come into this 
country, along about 1885, they found a num- 
ber of ranches, that were not of the really 
early ones. Sim. Laing had a ranch on "Lor- 
rens ' Fork, where that fine creek pours out 
of the canyons, and this creek crossing, with its 
cooling little grove of mountain ash, was a 
stopping place after the long hard, hot drive, 
over the tablelands from Sidney. 

The Sidney-Black Hills trail struck the val- 
ley of the North Platte at Greenwood, coming 
down from the divide at Tuslers. But a branch 
trail used by ranchmen and early travellers, 
left the Black Hills Road sixteen miles north- 
west of Sidney, at what was known as the 
"Water Holes." These holes are located about 
six or seven miles south and the same distance 
west of the present site of Dalton. This was 
the branch generally used by early grangers, 
and there 'was a drive of about twenty miles to 
"Lorren's" Fork and Laing's ranch. Sim had 
a brother, Guy, who was in business in North 
Platte, and who had an interest in the ranch. 

Besides stocking the ranch with horses and 
cattle, they stocked the creek with brook trout 
which have flourished excellently, and they 
brought in and turned loose a pair of quails. 
From that beginning, are many little coveys of 
quail here and there all through the hills, and 
on the islands along the river. Most people 
have been very considerate, and have refrained 
from shooting them, but those on the islands 
west of Scottsbluff were nearly exterminated 
by the Japanese before they knew what value 
local people place upon the cheerful "Bob 
Whites." 

Laing was one of the best of fellows, ordi- 
narily, but he would go to Sidney frequently, 
and drink was about the easiest thing attain- 
able in those days. When Sim got a full load 
of the fire water, he, who had done so much 
to make his ranch like the old homes back east, 
would imagine himself a very bad cattle king 
and with lots of hard feelings for the grangers. 

The Water Holes referred to consisted of a 
pond in a depression of the prairie, and two 
shallow wells from which there was a never 
failing supply. 

J. F. Raymond of Scottsbluff, and H. J. 
Raymond of Sidney were two of the early 
grangers of the table north of Sidney. They 
hauled water twelve miles from the Water 



Holes to their claims, until they had a well 
put down. The water at the "Holes" was so 
distasteful, a number of grangers decided on 
cleaning the wells. They met at an appointed 
date, and found their opinions justified. A 
number of dead skunks and jack rabbits were 
removed, and the wells thoroughly cleaned. 

Just as they were finishing the work Sim 
Laing arrived from Sidney with "plenty on 
board." He also had picked up an old human 
derelict at Sidney, in an impulse of sentiment, 
and was taking him out to the ranch. Laing 
swung into the Water Holes with a whoop, 
drove his mustangs across the depression and 
up the slope and nearly into one of the un- 
covered wells. 

Frank Raymond ran forward to turn them 
aside and prevent a catastrophe, whereby Sim 
felt himself very much offended, and advised 
the whole listening world that he had been 
there before any of the d — d grangers, and 
that he did not need to be directed about by 
any of them. And to show that he knew what 
he was talking about he whipped up his horses 
so suddenly that the seat toppled over back- 
wards out of the rig, carrying him and his 
ancient pickup into the dust. The horses were 
sensible and waited events. 

"Old man," said Laing, penitently to his 
derelict friend, "I am used to this kind of a 
thing, but I am sorry if I hurt you." 

The Water Holes, at that time, had a road- 
house on the slope north of the depression, and 
it was run by Wheeler & Son. Ordinarily the 
grangers would take along their "grub," but oc- 
casionally they would drop in for meals. There 
were unsophisticated strangers who occasional- 
ly stopped there for provender and who did 
not get much to eat but paid seventy-five cents 
for a meal. 

As young Wheeler put it: "We are fixed 
for them all. When a granger conies along we 
give him his twenty-five cent meals, but when 
a traveling-man or tourist drops in, we give 
him a six-bit meal. We put prunes on the 
table for him." 

Some years later, the elder Wheeler was bit- 
ten by a dog, and he literally went to pieces. 
He became a nervous wreck and died. The 
incident occurred at the ranch of Widow Smith 
at the head of Rush creek. All who knew 
Wheeler will remember that he was a nervous 



I4(> 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



sort of a person, and it is probable that he 
kicked or struck at the dog, before it attacked 
him. Wheeler, however, started a suit for 
damages, but it was never finished. 

Just below Laing's ranch on "Lorren*s" Fork. 
about half way to the ranch of Adams & 
Redington, Sam Fowler, well known in the 
Democratic politics of old Cheyenne county, 
had his location, where he ran a bunch of 
horses. 

There are not many prettier sights within 
my recollection; along after noon on a hot 
<la\. than a bunch of sleek, fat horses, that have 
been out on attractive but dry feeding places, 
head for the watering gaps, springs or creeks. 
As they draw near, they begin to feel more 
thirsty, and one will break into a trot ; an- 
other will go it one better and gallop, and then, 
before long, they all are racing wild and free 
with heads up and plumes flying down the long 
slopes to the water. It is a grand sight that has 
passed forever. 

Situated about two miles up the Platte river 
from Bridgeport, on the south side of the river, 
is a cottonwood grove. It was once the ranch 
of George Laing, a young Englishman who 
came out here for the love of adventure, and 
the alluring profits in raising cattle. His ranch 
cannot be classed as one of the early loca- 
tions, but it was ahead of the grangers, and 
that puts it back about thirty-five or forty 
years ago. 

The virile English are flesh-eaters, and Laing 
liked variety. He brought in a few hogs. They 
were not for profit, but merely that he might 
have pork as well as beef, and not rely on the 
old "sow-belly" of the early market houses. 

In 1885, he made a trip up Pumpkin creek 
and stopped at Chris Streeks's place, south of 
Rifle Gap. He stayed all night, and sometime 
during the conversation, mentioned his pigs. 
Chris asked him where he could get a hog, 
that he wanted to get one for a change. George 
told him that the "blawsted 'awgs are increasing 
so fawst that they are about to run us off the 
place, and if you will come down and get them, 
you can 'ave a pair." 

Laing was then a candidate for sheriff, 
and it is possible that his generous feelings 
were partly inspired by that good brotherhood 
spirit that gets into a man's blood when he 



is running for office. Laing was defeated, and 
still he made good cheerfully on his proffer, so 
that we must say that he was a thoroughbred 
sport. 

Nelson Ashford, with his son William and 
family, and daughter Gertrude arrived the 
autumn of 1885, Mrs. Nelson Ashford arriv- 
ing the following spring. 

Will Ashford was a live wire and he believed 
in living as he journeyed through life. As he 
was coming down Long Springs hill, he got a 
glimpse of the beautiful virgin valley where 
Harrisburg was later planted, and at the bot- 
tom of the hill was a creek, and the tops of 
green trees were to be seen. Will let out 
a bray, like a homecoming mule, and startled 
the silent watches of the wilderness. Out of 
the canyon there scurried in all directions wild 
animals that had been down to drink. There 
were wild horses, deer and antelope. 

Being Grangers, the Ashfords wanted pigs as 
well as cattle, and there were none. Then it 
occurred to Mrs. Streeks, (also a daughter of 
Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Ashford) that Laing 
had told them of his hogs. It was a long ways 
to Laing's ranch, the nearest source of supply, 
but not so very far comparatively with the 
overland journey from beyond the Missouri. 

One day Mrs. Ashford and her younger 
daughter hitched up the team to the wagon and 
started out for Laing's. That night they had 
negotiated the hills through Wright's gap, and 
reached Charley Smith's in Creighton Flat. 
Here they stayed all night. The next day they 
drove on down to Laing's, passing Chimney 
Rock, and Court House Rock on the way. The 
country between those landmarks was alive 
with rattlesnakes. At first they stopped and 
killed them, but there were so many, after they 
had killed fourteen or fifteen, they gave up 
the work of extermination, and passed a great 
many, which rattled saucily at them. 

Laing had many of the charming character- 
istics of his native land, his accent was delight- 
ful and perfect, and he was a good entertainer. 
He fixed up a crate, and loaded the two 
pigs for the women folks, and they returned. 
Laing's were the first hogs on the North Platte 
river, and Ash ford's were the first on Pump- 
kin creek or into the territory later embraced 
bv the boundaries of Banner county. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XXVIII 



THE VIRGINIAN — ARBUCKLE'S RANCH — ROMANCE OF PARENTS OF MADE- 
LINE FORCE-LINGLE OF VALLEY VIEW — CONNOLYS OF THE "PF" 
— NEW RANCHES — HANK INGHRAM'S NARROW ESCAPE 



A few years ago, a book called "the Vir- 
ginian" had quite a run in the western country. 
Many of the incidents contained therein were 
from experiences in the Panhandle of Ne- 
braska, and eastern Wyoming. One of the 
stories told was that of the pranks of two cow 
punchers at a dance. While the mothers of 
a number of sleeping infants were dancing, the 
boys changed the wraps which the babies wore 
and changed their positions, to the end that 
when the dance broke up, most of the parents 
started home with the wrong baby. As the dis- 
coveries were not made until the parents were 
at home, in some cases twenty miles from the 
scene, it took considerable time to straighten 
out the tangle of who was who in Babyland. 

This incident, or its prototype, occurred at 
Alex Perry's on Little Horse creek, and the 
two miscreants, some of the mothers called 
them criminals, were Chris. Mitchell and Tom 
McShane. 

Molly Woods, who taught school on Beaver 
creek, was one of the central characters in 
the story, and she married the Virginian.- 

The book was quite true to the life of the 
west, twenty-five to forty years ago, and while 
the author selected his characters in this vi- 
cinity, they had their prototypes in many local- 
ities. The loves, the hates, the combats, the 
mischief makers, and all that went to make 
up life in the cow country, was found here, 
and elsewhere, wherever the range cattle 
roamed. 

One of the old favorite poems, one which 
Abraham Lincoln often repeated was "we 
tread the same paths that our fathers have 
trod." 

This sometimes runs so literally true that one 
thinks the writer thereof had lived long years. 
Take the story of the family of Astors, for il- 
lustration. In 1812 and 1813 Robert Stuart 
and his party of Astorians wintered a little 
north of Scottsbluff. and since then four gen- 
erations of the Astors have had some calling 
back to the land of western Nebraska and 
eastern Wyoming, although their interests here 
seemed to have terminated long ago. 

One of the pretty romances of the great 
prairies came about in the early eighties, and 
it involves well known characters locally, as 
well as in high finance. 

When Tonv Kennedy arrived from Ireland 



with James Baxter, they landed at Pittsburg. 
Both were strapped and both wanted a job. 
One took one side of the street and one the 
other and both landed jobs in stores almost 
opposite each other. Kennedy went to work 
for Arbuckle, who later became one of the 
Arbuckle Brothers, whose coffee was all over 
the country a generation ago. Baxter and 
Kennedy came on to western Nebraska in 1886. 

The Arbuckles made money, and contracted 
the ranch fever. They came to Cheyenne, and 
bought the A. M. Post horse ranch on "Pole" 
creek, sixteen miles north of that city. They 
built a large two story ranch house, with mod- 
ern conveniences on each floor, and otherwise 
improved the place to make it coincide with 
their views of what a ranch should be ; and 
they had saddles and talahoes, and servants and 
all that added to comfort. 

Post sold the ranch with a book value of 
five thousand mares, and they wanted a count. 
The old game of running the mares around 
a hill, and delivering the same lot two or 
three times was pulled off successfully here, 
and the Arbuckles received about two thousand 
instead of five. Naturally, they made the dis- 
covery in due time, but entered no protest. 
One day their private car was set off at Chey- 
enne and Post was invited to be their guest. 

They told him that a man of his attain- 
ments ought to be in the big game field of the 
east, so the story goes, and he "fell for it." So 
in due time he was dabbling in stocks, which 
they advised him were good. He made money 
by a number of transactions, and then they 
advised the big plunge as a rare opportunity. 
It broke him and his Cheyenne Bank, and 
with it went the savings of the frugal cow- 
punchers. 

William A. Force was put in charge of the 
ranch of Pole creek, and among the young 
fellows who went to work for him was Fred 
Wolt, for many years a well known resident 
and business man of Gering, and now ( 1920) 
President of the Chamber of Commerce at 
Norfolk, Nebraska. 

Among the New York visitors at the ranch 
was Lillian Force, a sister of the foreman, 
and her chum, Kate Talmadge. 

The freedom of the ranch, the glorious 
talaho rides in the rarified western air, the 
white light of moonlit nights, the stars that 



148 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



seem so close to the earth, and the attentions 
of the dashing foreman of the big ranch, all 
had a part in the result that Kate Talmadge 
became Mrs. William A. Force. From this 
union Madeline Force was born, Madeline 
Force who became Mrs. John Jacob Astor. 
He, the grandson of John Jacob Astor the first, 
went down on the Titanic a few years ago, 
when that great vessel sank in the Atlantic 
on its maiden trip, and but for the romance of 
the high plains here related, Madeline Force 
would never have been born, and he would 
likely not have been on the fatal trip. 

The horses from Arbuckle's ranch often 
were brought to the "North River" to winter. 
Robert F. Neeley took charge of winter feeding 
the first winter, and then John R. Stilts built 
some large sod barns and sheds and for several 
winters attended to the business. Fred Wolt 
came over to the valley, and remained. He 
married one of the valley's young ladies, Lill- 
ian Brashear, and went into mercantile busi- 
ness at Gering. Fred had the distinguishing 
characteristics of the Bostonian, which was 
different from the ways of the west. Some of 
the boys called him "dudish," but he got along 
well with them, and has made a splendid suc- 
cess in a business way. First in general mer- 
chandise, then specializing in furniture, hard- 
ware and undertaking, in which he is now en- 



Valley View ranch came into existence at 
a later date with Hiram D. Lingle as the 
master mind. This was located in the valley 
of the Rawhide, and when the Burlington built 
the North River branch, they named a town 
near his several thousand acres of fine al- 
luvial land in honor of his genius and enter- 
prise. He bonded the whole acreage with sev- 
eral thousand additional under the Carey Act 
and built an irrigation system. About this time 
the government irrigation act was passed, and 
the North Platte project thereof found that 
"Lucky Valley," occupied by Lingle's Colon- 
ization Canal, was the only practical route 
through the barrier of sand hills between Raw- 
hide and Sheep creek. Lingle sold his ditch 
to the government, and has since divided his 
lands into small farms and sold all to settlers 
except the home place of two hundred and 
forty acres, which he retains for a summer 
home. Mr. and Mrs. Lingle reside in Chicago 
the balance of the year. 

The well known PF ranch in the vicinity of 
old Red Cloud agency came into existence af- 
h r iIk departure of the Indians for their new 
quarters en White river. The two locations 
known to the present generations are at Lingle, 
Wyoming and Henry, Nebraska. 



Al. S. Connoly was the foreman for a num- 
ber of years, and was a remarkable man, hav- 
ing a grasp upon the details of all the several 
locations that was almost uncanny. What hap- 
pened to him never came out clearly, but it 
may have been the weariness of the grind. At 
any rate, he quit the ranch work and made 
quite an extended search of Wyoming, with 
the hope of locating a bed of "coking coal." 
Had he been successful, Guernsey would have 
been the great foundry center that the inhabi- 
tants thereof have long hoped it would be. 

Owing to the lack of that kind of coal, it 
has been found expedient to ship the iron ore 
from Sunrise mines to Pueblo, Colorado, near 
the fields where this variety of coal is found. 

In some way Connoly ran at cross-pur- 
poses to Senator Francis E. Warren, and for 
a number of years he was tireless in his at- 
tempts to make that respected statesman an- 
swer for some of the land frauds of eastern 
Wyoming and western Nebraska, particularly 
on Horse creek, where thousands of acres of 
Uncle Sam's domain went to private ownership 
by means that have often been criticized. 

Connoly is now in Washington, at some 
work in the Interior Department. 

In 18S4, Ferris was in charge of the State 
Line ranch, which later went to Colonel Pratt. 
Al. Smith, in the early days designated "Swear- 
ing" Smith, to distinguish him from "Extract" 
Smith and "Whispering" Smith, had charge 
of the ranch later, and now I believe his son is 
managing the place or owns it. Sheldon has 
a picture of one of the partly dismantled sod 
houses on this place that was erected at or 
about the time the ranch occupied the old Red 
Cloud site. 

The upper PF ranch went to Field & Leiter 
of Chicago, and later to the Leiter estate, in 
which it still remains. Except that part which 
has been sold to business men and other people 
in the town of Lingle. 

W. P. (Billy) Connoly, brother of the form- 
er manager of the ranches for Pratt & Ferris, 
is now local manager of the Leiter properties, 
as well as the wide ramifications of his own 
activities. "Billy" is in banking, mercantile, 
farming, ranching and road contracting work, 
and attends them all equally well. In addi- 
tion to this he sells real estate for the Leiter 
people, as the town of Lingle is rapidly de- 
veloping into a city. 

When Connoly took charge of the Leiter 
local affairs, Billy Ashby, an Englishman, was 
foreman of the Bridle Bit ranch, but he left 
soon after and went to Douglas. While on the 
cow ranch, he hated sheep "like skunks," but 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



149 



not long after he was in the sheep business and 
accumulated wealth. 

"Texas Tom" Snow is one of the characters 
of this vicinity, arriving in the North Platte 
valley in the day of the Texas trail, and he 
has established himself on the Rawhide at 
"Snow's Point," which is one of the land- 
marks north of Lingle. Drilling for oil will 
start in this vicinity sometime during the com- 
ing spring (1920). 

About the time of the coming of the granger, 
a number of new men arrived with ranching 
instead of grangering instincts, and these be- 
came the "ranchmen" best known for the last 
quarter of a century. Many of them accumu- 
lated large herds and an empire of fertile 
land. 

Joe Sanford, who is north of Mitchell, is a 
notable example. He has about a township 
of land, or over twenty-thousand acres. Dr. 
Miller, who acquired extensive ranch posses- 
sions north of Morrill about fifteen miles, has 
"gone to another range," but the excellent 
property is owned and managed by his son, 
True Miller. Chas. Loucomer has the old 
Wind Springs ranch. E. von Forrell has late- 
ly acquired a large acreage north of Lake Alice 
in Sioux county, where Forrell and son run 
their fine Herefords. On the Harry Haig 
ranch in Mitchell valley lives (1919) one of 
the characters of the old west, H. M. In- 
ghram. He drove stage for Gilman & Sals- 
bury, who owned the "Black Hills route" from 
Cheyenne in its. earliest years. 

"Stuttering" Brown had charge of the di- 
vision between Cheyenne and Fort Laramie. 



"Hank" Inghram had an adventure and nar- 
row escape in the north part of Sioux county 
about this time. He was coming down from 
Deadwood with one of the Cheyenne stages, 
and fell in with two Irishmen. He drove the 
stage to Custer, and "deadheaded" to Indian 
creek. Here they were attacked by Indians 
with needle guns and Marlin rifles. They were 
pursued down the old road for eighteen or 
twenty miles when the horses played out. The 
men left them, and ran into a burnt over wild 
cherry thicket, and down a ravine. 

It was after sundown, twilight settled quick- 
ly, and the party became separated, but all 
headed in the general direction of Soldier 
creek, making their several ways by moon- 
light. They were chased for a part of the 
distance, and one Irishman who arrived safely 
at dawn declared that he had been pursued all 
night. The others arrived at an earlier hour, 
and Inghram had his pants cut with bullets 
twice. One bullet cut through the cloth and 
underwear, and just burnt the skin. 

The papers at Cheyenne and Omaha reported 
he had been killed, but he has lived many years 
since and still retains the trousers, or a part 
of the cloth thereof, as a memento of the nar- 
row escape. Among the reminiscences of H. 
M. Inghram is that of a big dance in 1876. 
Nick Genice gave it at his place on Bordeaux, 
and the people came for many miles. They 
danced without ceasing for three days and 
nights. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

THE SHIFTING SANDS — THE STORM OF 78— FIRST SETTLERS ON PUMPKIN 

CREEK — FIRST COW T IN WESTERN NEBRASKA — MENTAL GIANTS 

OF THE BIG COW DAYS 



When the west was young, who would have 
selected W. F. Cody for the historic char- 
acter of the "Wild West?" Who could have 
guessed the destiny of Paxton. or Creighton, 
or Bratt, or Van Tassel, or McShane. or Cof- 
fee, or Swan? The other men of the west 
shifted and strayed abroad, or settled on their 
local acres, or the acres of some other state 
or land. 



We find Frank Brainard, who held horses 
on the table north of Scottsbluff, in the winter 
of 1879, now stock inspector at the' stock yards 
of Chicago. That winter, he tells us. a half 
dozen Indians had their dugout on the bank of 
the river near the bad lands. 

We find Ben Graham, the brother of Joe 
Graham of Mollie's Fork, in the same busi- 
ness at Sioux City. Hugh McFee is inspec- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



tor al Denver. He is the brother of Earl Mc- 
Pee, who hunt,' himself near the 1'F ranch, 
because of a love affair. 

Earl had ridden his horse underneath a 
limb of a big Cottonwood, and attached his 
lariat thereto, and around bis neck. He then 
kicked the broncho and it ran away, leaving 
him suspended. When found he was quite 
dead. Some of the boys were removing his 
boots preparatory for burial, when Smith, the 
foreman of the outfit, accused them of trying 
to steal a dead man's boots. The others were 
thinking only of the newer methods of burial, 
but Smith insisted on the old order being car- 
ried out. McFee was therefore buried with 
his boots on, at Fort Laramie. 

Charlie Talbot, another old timer, is in- 
spector in Omaha. Mose Howard was to 
be found about the stock yards for years, but 
he died recently. Wyatt Heard is in Texas. 
Henry Heard at Long Beach, California, E. A. 
Moots is at Lander and Thermopolis. Wyom- 
ing, Johnny Minser died on his farm near 
Fort Laramie, in 1918. One could go on nam- 
ing the boys and their many destinies, but they 
were almost as numerous as the sands of the 
Great Sand Hills. A great many have gone 
on the "long, long trail." And out of these great 
stretches of waste or pasturage, have come a 
number of the stronger characters of Nebras- 
ka. 

In the winter of 187S came one of the worst 
storms that had ever visited the western plains. 
It wrecked the finances of some of the cattle 
companies. But few of them were prepared 
for ,-i storm of such severity. It commenced 
on the seventh of March and lasted until the 
tenth. 

The storm caught Tommy Chaunavierre 
( Shunover), Bob Cavalier, and "Scotty," hunt- 
ing mountain sheep. The)- had killed one on 
Wildcat mountain, before the storm struck, 
n headed for Dicky Brown's place at 
Kane' Point! Shunover was the one of the 
three to reach shelter. The other two hardy 
frontiersmen perished in the drifts on the 
way. After the storm, Cavalier was found 
near Sand Hill south of the Sunderling place, 
which is now (1919) owned by Theo. John- 
son. "Scotty" reached the Will Kelly place 
he lore he went down. The son-in-law of Nick 
Genice was caught in this storm and went 
"tin long trail." ('has. I leek had twelve teams, 
fourteen yoke to the team, completely wiped 
i in by the blizzard. 

In 1879, while watching cattle near Kane's 
' nt. I larve Beeson was killed by Indians, 
wlii i crawled up in the rushes and shot him. 
II'' either was afraid to crawl to the cabin. 



or could not do so, for when found he had lain 
for two days, and had stuffed his shirt into the 
wound to stop the blood. This occurred about 
three hundred yards up the stream from the 
point where Wright's ranch house was erected. 

WTight came down the valley from Horse 
creek and he found Dicky Brown near Kane's 
Point. Dicky sold out to Wright a short 
time afterwards. His brother, Jonathan 
Brown, built the cabin at the Four-J spring, 
east of Wildcat, and he made final proof on 
the land. 

John Wright's ranch became the center of 
affairs for a number of years on the valley of 
the Pumpkin. Will Kelly located near him, 
and then came Earley, and Livingstons, who 
secured a postofhce and built a story and a 
half grout house, where the first settlers en- 
joyed many a social evening. Wrights and 
Livingstons led all the rest when it came to 
roundup dances and social festivities, before 
the grangers came and submerged the older 
order of things. 

Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. 
Dicky Brown, which were the first wdiite chil- 
dren born in that section. They both died early 
and are buried on the home claim. Bess 
Kelly was the first white child born on Pump- 
kin creek that lived to maturity. She is now- 
dead. Her brother, Ted, still has the old place 
where he was born. 

The cow business had its run for about twen- 
ty years. But the first domestic cow in west- 
ern Nebraska, was that which William Sub- 
lette trailed after his wagon in the trapper days, 
when he drove the first wagons into the moun- 
tains. When he met Fitzpatrick, and neces- 
sity required more speed than they were regu- 
larly making, they turned the cow loose, near 
the present site of Morrill, and she became 
the first range cow in the Panhandle of the 
state. That was before Fort William, the 
antecedent of Fort Laramie, was built. 

The next cows were ten years later, being 
taken through to Oregon. Then for about a 
quarter of a century, plodding oxen were the 
cattle that trailed across the land. During that 
period the buffalo w^ere nearly exterminated, 
and the prairies grew luxuriant grasses, only 
to be burned, or to feed mustangs and wild 
horses, and work oxen. After that the real 
run of cattle affairs for a score of years, be- 
fore the granger came. 

Permanent settlement began in the vicinity 
of Scottsbluff in 1884. Before that date, for 
a number of years, there were cowpunchers 
working up and down the North river coun- 
try, who later became permanent fixtures. 
Charlie Foster and L. J. Wyman were the 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



151 



earliest in point of time. They were in a 
measure fixed here several years before any 
of the others, but it was in the capacity of 
rangers looking after cattle. They settled 
down and took land in the early eighties. 
■ Runey C. Campbell, who still resides upon 
his homestead (1919), George Marsh, lately 
removed to the newer land of Montana, and 
W. E. Ingraham, who was killed by a colt on 
his farm in Mitchell valley, were the next to 
build permanent domiciles in the vicinity. They 
located about ten miles apart, that being in 
their judgment a good neighborly distance. 
Campbell was near the old Coad ranch in 
what later became Gering Valley. Ingraham 
was in Mitchell Valley northwest of the old 
fort a few miles, and Marsh on Kiowa and 
Horse creek. Wyman and Foster were nearer 
neighbors for Marsh. These houses were all 
on the south side of the siver, and were made 
of logs, with poles and sod for roofs and 
dirt floors. 

In the spring of 1885, "Sailor Joe" Hanson 
built a log cabin in Mitchell Valley, and lived 
there for a number of years. One day his 
boy got his foot tangled in a lariat rope, the 
other end of which was attached to a wild sad- 
dle horse. The animal promptly ran away, 
and dragged the boy to his death, after which 
Hanson sold out, and left the country. 

Perry Braziel, who had been here off and 
on since 1882, took some land adjoining the 
old Bay State ranch in Mitchell Valley, about 
this time. Perry had been at the ranch con- 
siderable of his time for three or four years, 
working on the roundups and feeding stock in 
the winter. 

Working for the bonanza cattle outfits, the 
men upon the ground saw the trend of the 
times. This land could not always remain free 
range, and so the hay meadows were taken up 
by the boys who wanted to make this their 
permanent abiding place. They may have even 
thought that the mental giants did not have 
their ears to the ground, but Paxton and 
Creighton visualized the future. They saw 
the advancing line of settlement, and they heard 
the tread of coming thousands. Their amalga- 
mations were but the shrewder instincts "Get- 
ting from under" as they felt bonanza ranching 
tottering and trembling to its fall. They could 
see that soon the free range would be no more. 
When I think of their achievements, I am 



proud of the people of the west. Much may 
justly be said of later people, but I am to 
speak of them in their turn and place. 

I refer now to the men of old. Of Creigh- 
ton, and Paxton, and Swan, and McShane. and 
Bratt. and Sheedy, and Van Tassel, and Cof- 
fee. Of the men who pioneered in their line. 
Who were unafraid of Indians or personal 
dangers, and bad men, and roughed it with the 
roughest. 

It was an achievement to string the first 
wires from the Missouri to Salt Lake City, 
placing the east and the west in instantan- 
eous communication. These men drove their 
own oxen and conducted their own trail wag- 
ons east, west, north, south, criss-crossing west- 
ern Nebraska with the marks of their wagon 
wheels. They helped to drive the buffalo from 
the western range, and filled the wide pastures 
of the plains with domestic cattle. They organ- 
ized and amalgamated mighty herds, and trail- 
ed them from the Rio Grande to the Yellow- 
stone. 

By and by they took up other vocations, and 
their dominant genius built the pillars of cities. 
Firm and enduring were the foundations of 
their fortunes. And so much of their great 
work was after they had attained middle age. 

Paxton told me once that some men have 
youthful minds until they are forty of fifty 
years of age. He himself was thirty-nine be- 
fore he had accumulated a thousand dollars. 
But all the earlier years he had been learning 
at the University of Nature, the School of 
Abraham Lincoln and other mental giants of 
the world. 

Whacking bulls, night-herding- the nervous 
herds, stringing telegraph wires through an 
Indian wilderness, building great ranches, con- 
structing giant packing plants, and pillars of 
masonry, endowing schools, moulding the des- 
tinies of a state, handling fortunes in a clay, 
these men stand out examples of western en- 
terprise and energy. Life whirled them from 
one vocation to another, but in each environ- 
ment, there shone the fire of individual iden- 
tity. Each was a human dynamo, with coils 
of experience, and the name of any one of 
them is a symbol of tremendous power. They 
met all manner of dragons, and were victorious 
over all save death. And some of them bid 
fair to hold him off for many years to come. 



1 1 [STORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XXX 



VIGI] WTFS II \XG REED AT SIDNEY — THE GREAT BULLION ROBBERY 
WHISPERING SMITH GETS TWO 



The cowman's period of taming the wilder- 
ness also included the period of Black Hills 
gold discoveries, which had a tendency of con- 
centrating rough elements at the terminals of 
the trails to and from the gold fields. Thus 
Sidney became a storm center of deadly activ- 
ity in the Panhandle of Nebraska. 

In 1879, Sidney was a pretty rough f ren- 
der town. The gold excitement had run for 
about three years, and this landing place for 
those who had been successful and were re- 
turning east, attracted a lot of good business 
men who supplied the prosperous miner with 
new outfits suitable for the old home back 
east. Merchantmen also outfitted those who 
were going into the hills. 

There was another class that sought by all 
sorts of intrigue to separate the miner from 
his money, and then, they presumed that the 
loss of fortune would send the men back to 
dig more gold. Gamblers and saloon men of 
the time always justified any act necessary to 
get the money, with the following philosophy : 
"These men are naturally spenders, booze 
fighter.-, and otherwise dissolute. When they 
have money, they lay around the towns, drink, 
and make themselves generally disgusting and 
disagreeable. Therefore take the money from 
them as quickly as any device can be arranged. 
It stops their ruinous notions and sends them 
into the healthy life of the open, to be 'pro- 
ducers.' " 

This logic is about as reasonable as that of 
profiteers born of the late world war. 

Sidney had its large bunch of self-appointed 
guardian-- of ihis class. So it was that one 
Saturday morning the town woke up + o the 
effect that one of its best men, Henry Locmis, 
had been shot by a gambler named Charles 
Reed, Loomis was taken to the United States 
hospital at the Sidney army post, where it 
was found that the thigh bone was shattered, 
and an amputation was necessary. He died at 
live o'clock in the afternoon of May 10, 1879. 

Reed had lied to the rocks north of Sidney, 
bul was taken by Sheriff Zweifel and a posse, 
and incarcerated in jail. About eleven o'clock 
in the night four hundred masked men arrived 
ai lb. jail, overpowered the guards, and took 
Reed to a telegraph pole on the south side of 
the track opposite the Union Pacific depot. A 
ladder was procured, and a rope thrown over 
tin' cross-bar of the pole, one end of which 



was looped around Reed's neck. He was asked 
if he had anything to say. 

"Only, good-bye, gentlemen," was his an- 
swer, and he was swung aloft. A few shots 
were fired into the body, and there were ex- 
pressions here and there that "Loomis is 
avenged." The crowd dispersed quietly, with 
but few words. 

The body swung in the air all during the 
next day, and thrilled and shocked the passen- 
gers going through Sidney on the overland 
trains. 

The rougher element was quiet for a time, 
but soon again were going strong. A year or 






Hanging Reed by Vigilantes Committee 

two later it culminated in an eighty thousand 
dollar robbery of gold bullion in broad daylight. 
This was believed to have been planned some 
days in advance, and with the co-operation of 
rbe stage driver and the Sidney express agent. 

On the day mentioned the stage arrived too 
late to catch the east bound train. C. K. Allen, 
a fine-looking man, was express agent. He 
took four gold bars, valued at twenty thousand 
dollars each, and several thousand in currency 
and put them in the freight room. He locked 
the door and went to lunch. 

On returning he found that a hole had been 
sawed through the floor, and the gold bars and 
currency were gone. A tunnel, which must 
have required the work of several days, led 
to and under another building, and the robbers 
were gone. 

Albert Sorenson tells of the following events 
in this way, in a recent issue of the Omaha 
Bee : 

"General Superintendent Morsman of fhe 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Pacific Express company and John M. Thurs- 
ton, then assistant general attorney of the 
Union Pacific, upon arriving at Sidney to in- 
vestigate the robbery, found Robert Law, su- 
perintendent of the mountain division, already 
on the ground. Law had brought with him 
James H. Smith, known as "Whispering 
Smith." the railroad detective, whose head- 
quarters were at Cheyenne. 

After carefully looking over the situation 
and weighing all the circumstances, it was 
concluded by the railroad officials that the rob- 
bery was committed by four men ; that the 
leader was a man named McCarthy, who had 
served as sheriff in 1876 and 1877, and at 
this time was conducting the Capitol saloon and 
gambling house. He was a man of consider- 
able political influence and had for his warm- 
est friends the entire tough element which 
ran the town to suit themselves. 

The other suspects were Patsy, one of Mc- 
Carthy's bartenders, a barber named Flanna- 
gan and C. K. Allen, the station agent, ( for 
some reason the stage driver was not included). 
McCarthy's influence was so strong that he 
at first prevented an indictment from being 
found by the grand jury, but the district at- 
torney made a motion before Judge Gaslin that 
Thurston be appointed special assistant in order 
to permit him to go before the grand jury. 

"The judge granted the order and Thurston, 
after great difficulty and in spite of numerous 
obstacles, put in his way by McCarthy, final- 
ly convinced the requisite number of jurors 
that they would be justified in voting for an 
indictment. 

"When the case came up for trial Thurston 
appeared as prosecutor. In relating the story 
of this affair to me, in the summer of 1916, ex- 
Senator Thurston told some interesting inci- 
dents regarding Whispering Smith, who was 
assisting him in the case. They occupied Su- 
perintendent Law's private car and every night 
Smith asked Thurston to take a walk up the 
track to a lonely spot and there in a low tone — 
hardly above a whisper — would discuss the 
events of the day's proceedings. 

One night he said: "Judge Thurston, you're 
not a-goin' to get those fellows. They-ve set 
the pins against you in this county. McCarthy 
is the ringleader, and I can settle this whole 
thing for you if you just let me go down and 
take McCarthy out, and bring him up here and 
hang him to a telegraph pole." 

Smith night after night tried to persuade 
Thurston to let him carry out this plan, and 
the detective seemed very much disappointed 
at the attorney's refusal to take any steps that 
were not in accordance with law and order. 



"Well, you are going to get left," said Smith, 
"that jury is set against you." 

That evening, just as Thurston was about to 
leave for Omaha, Smith took him behind the 
station and whispered to him : "I told you so, 
but Pm a-goin' to stay here a day or two, and 
I think Pll get one or two of 'em." 

At midnight "Long" Kelly, the train con- 
ductor, woke Thurston and handed him this 
dispatch from Superintendent Law : "Jim got 
Patsy." At noon the next day Thurston re- 
ceived another dispatch from Law. It was : 
"Jim got the barber." 

Some time later, Law met Thurston and re- 
lated the details of Smith's two "gettings." "I 
went down to the Capitol saloon," said Smith 
to Superintendent Law, "and waited for Mc- 
Carthy to show up, but I guess he heard I was 
there and didn't appear. Bob, I got tired a-wait- 
in', and goin' up to the bar I called Patsy, the 
barkeeper, a damned unhung robber. Patsy 
pulls his gun and shoots at me but misses. I 
.guess he was a little nervous like. I pulled and 
let go, and when they look Patsy over they'll 
find a hole just about two inches to the left 
of his lower vest button. Bob, I pulled for the 
button but I sighted a little off. Somebody 
knocked out the lights and I emptied my gun 
over the heads of the other people and then 
came away." 

Patsy was badly wounded, and was a long 
time in recovering. His wound was at the 
very place that Smith said the hole would be 
found. Smith was arrested but was discharged 
the next morning on the ground of self-defense. 
A few minutes later as he was approaching 
the Lockwood house, barber Flanagan said: 
"That murderous whelp shot Patsy; this is a 
hell of a country for law and order." 

Smith replied with a vile epithet, and asked 
the barber what he had to do with the matter. 
The barber pulled a revolver and fired at Smith 
but missed him. The next instant the barber 
was a dead man, a shot from Smith's gun hav- 
ing hit him in a vital spot. Smith was again 
arrested and again released on the ground of 
self-defense. 

Excitement now ran high in Sidney. A vi- 
gilance committee arrested McCarthy and 
lodged him in jail. That night the prisoner 
was informed that he was to be hanged in the 
morning and a friendly informant told him 
that the best thing he could do was to mount 
a saddled horse standing outside the jail and 
leave the country. He took the hint, the jail 
door being opened for his exit. He was prob- 
ably allowed to escape by the sheriff with the 
consent of the vigilantes. 

McCarthy never returned to Sidney, and it 



154 



HISTORY ( )I ; WESTERN NEBRASKA 



was thought for a long time that Whispering 
Smith had trailed him and ended his career. 
This belief was due to the fact that Smith dis- 
apeared from Sidney the same night that .Mc- 
Carthy made his getaway and was mysteriously 
absent for two days. 

The fourth gold brick was found under Mc- 
Carthy's saloon several years after his depar- 
ture. The find was made by workmen who 
were excavating for the foundation of a new 
bank building. McCarthy, who fled to Mon- 
tana, was said to have been a "Molly Maguire" 
who escaped from Pennsylvania, after the 
great "Molly Maguire" excitement, in which he 
was a leader in the coal fields against law and 
order. 

Col. A. B. Persinger, owner of Hardscrabble 
ranch near Lodgepo'.e, was a resident of Sid- 
ney at the time of the "great bullion robbery," 
as it was called, and while in Omaha last week, 
related several interesting incidents connected 
with the sensational affair. When station agent 
Allen was arrested his bond of $10,000 was 
signed within a few minutes by the best citi- 
zens of Sidney. 

No one for a moment believed him guilty, as 
he was held in the highest esteem by every- 
body in the community. After his acquittal, 
the firm of Persinger & Whitney, wholesale 
and retail grocers, employed him as bookkeeper 
and confidential cashier. Prior to becoming 



station agent Allen had served as county clerk 
and treasurer, and had the entire confidence 
of the people. Upon leaving Sidney, Allen lo- 
cated in Pueblo. Colorado, where he became 
paymaster of a large coal company. 

Colonel Persinger does not class Smith as 
a hero, such, as he is made to appear in a novel 
bearing the title of "Whispering Smith," writ- 
ten some years ago by Frank H. Spearman. 
He knew Smith very well, and regarded him 
more as an outlaw. 

Whispering Smith was a dead shot ; a man 
of nerve ; cold-blooded, calculating and fear- 
less ; and a man who would cunningly and 
tauntingly provoke an enemy to commit the 
first overt act, thus giving Smith ground for 
self-defense. That was Smith's game. Such 
is Colonel Persinger's iconoclastic estimate of 
the hero of Spearman's novel, in which the 
"great bullion robbery" is not even remotely 
referred to. 

Julius Thoelecke, who resided at Sidney at 
the time, does not share with Colonel Persinger 
in his high esteem of agent Allen. 

Mr. Persinger and his "Hardscabble Ranch" 
are both interesting. His is a personality and 
his ranch a landmark on Lodgepole creek, near 
the town of Lodgepole. He established the 
ranch about 1878, or ten years after the coming 
of the Union Pacific. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

OBERFELDERS DEMONSTRATE HOG AND ALFALFA COMBINATION — LATER 

RANCHERS N I '.AROSHKOSH — POOR'S RANCH, WHERE SHELDON HIT 

Tlllv WEST — COWBOYS MARKING GRAVES — THE MIDNIGHT 

RIDE OF WILD HORSE HARRIS 



\ great many people passing along that val- 
ley, on the < )verland trains, or the Lincoln 
1 lighway, have admired a green oasis near the 
pretty village of Lodgepole, which is the Ober- 
felder ranch. < >berfelder Brothers are pioneer 
merchants al Sidney, and this ranch was a 
side issue. I [ere was where a demonstration of 
what hogs would do, if properly handled in al- 
falfa fields, proved of great value to the own- 
ers, a- well as to western Nebraska at large. 
id "Bob" l >berfelder have done splen- 
didly their part in western development. 

Permanent ranching at the mouth of the 



Blue Water and west along the North Platte 
valley is marked by the names of old timers 
in the present limits of Garden county. Here 
we find foremost among them several persons 
still living, and of distinguished interest. 

Reuben Lisco still holds the famous ranch 
heretofore mentioned in detail. 

Samuel P. DeLatour still has a ranch in 
"Cheyenne Canyon" on the Blue, which he 
established before 1885. 

H. C. Gumaer came up from Howard county 
and permanently settled here about 1885, with 
headquarters in section thirty-five. Township 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



seventeen, north of Range forty-four west. He 
organized the Oshkosh Land & Cattle Company. 

D. C. Hooper arrived and went into ranching 
about the same time. Previously, Knowles- 
Baldwin Company, the Ogallala Company,, 
Adams, Redington & Company, and the LJsco 
ranch were in practical control of the range, 
the Ogallala having taken over many of the _ 
other ranches. This company had a "camp" 
at the mouth of the Blue, when the latter day 
ranchmen began to arrive. 

About 1878, on the north side of the Nio- 
brara, west of Valentine, some English people 
financed and builded what became known as 
Poor's ranch. The place was about due north 
of Nenzel, although there were neither Nenzel 
or Valentine at that time, and it grew to the 
proportions, then necessary to be called a ranch, 
namely: the number of cattle ran upward of a 
thousand. The range extended westward twen- 
ty or more miles and north to the Dakota line. 

Two cowboys were killed by Indians there 
in its early years. 

This ranch was where Addison E. Sheldon, 
present secretary of the State Historical So- 
ciety, stopped for a time on his first journey 
into northwest Nebraska. With the coming of 
the granger the ranch was abandoned. 

Earnest Brothers, who located on the Nio- 
brara in Sioux county, in 1882, held the ranch 
for twenty years or more. Wilse Earnest 
moved to Scottsblufr about 1900, but Jim was 
ranching some years later. Both are now dead. 

Mr. Meeks, who located on the Niobrara, 
about 1878, fifteen miles up the river from 
Agate, was at the crossing of the old Ft. Lara T 
mie-Ft. Robinson Military road. 

Lusk became quite a cowtown in the 
eighties. The cemetery there would no doubt 
show a few evidences of the hilarious chival- 
ry of cowdays. It became a custom then, when 
anyone died with "boots on," to put him in a 
vehicle that answered the purpose of a hearse, 
and haul it to the cemetery with lariats at- 
tached to the saddle horns of cow ponies. 

After the burial, a strong board was set up 
at the head of the grave, and to properly iden- 
tify it as the burial place of one of the west- 
ern bunch, it was shot full of holes. 

Some of these boards marked the graves of 
departed ones for years, and no doubt some 
of them are still to be found. Occasionally, 
to let their sleeping comrades know that those 
"still on top of the turf," were keeping alive 
the spirit of the west and its traditions, a party 
of passing cow-punchers would re-decorate 
these crude wooden markers with a battery 
of fresh bullet holes. 

Recently I rambled through the somewhat 



neglected Boot Hill graveyard at Sidney. The 
soldiers who were buried there have been 
taken to Cottonwood or Fort McPherson na- 
tional cemetery, but many of the old wooden 
markers are- still at the graves. Generally all 
signs of identification are gone, except the sub- 
stantial evidence of "six-guns." The story of 
only occasionally one of the one hundred and 
fifty or two hundred that were buried there is 
here related. In fact, the stories of the others 
are generally unknown. In the rush of fif- 
teen hundred a day that passed through Sid- 
ney, if one fell by the wayside, even though 
suddenly and violently, it left no lasting im- 
pression. 

Only the passing of someone who was iden- 
tified with the community, as townsmen or 
herdsmen, occasioned any extensive remark. 
Men like Loomis, or Tate, or the Pinkstons, or 
perhaps those who went at the hands of vigil- 
antes. 

In one of those graves lies "Fritzie," who, 
while he perished with less ostentation and 
dramatic suddenness than some of the others, 
was given that type of burial because his • 
friends thought he might prefer it. 

The misfortunes of Fritzie were not en- 
tirely due to himself, and none of his old time 
acquaintances that I have met could tell me 
his other name. Concerning him, "The Mid- 
night Ride of Wild Horse Harris" eclipsed 
many of the dramatic riders in history, which 
are chronicled in prose, poetry and song. Har- 
ris rode, not for the liberation of a nation, but 
for the relief of a suffering friend. 

Many old timers knew Fritzie as the one- 
legged cowpuncher who, for a time, ran Min- 
er's hotel in Sidney. Fritzie's infirmity was 
caused by the intoxication, carelessness, and 
magnified sense of humor possessed by his 
buddy. Said buddy arrived home late one 
night, after an hilarious time in Sidney. Fritzie 
was sleeping when his buddy entered, and 
buddy decided it would be funny to shoot into 
the bed near enough to make his partner 
jump. He did, the partner jumped, his leg 
was shattered by the bullet, and later ampu- 
tated. 

After that Fritzie had paralytic spells. They 
came on suddenly and left almost as quickly. 

He was at Kane's ranch near Bronson once 
when attacked. Two wild horse trailers had 
captured a band and had them in Kane's big 
pine pole corral. The trailers were Jerry 
McGahon and Walter Harris, called "Wild 
Horse Jerry," and "Wild Horse Harris." 

They were excited over Fritzie's paralytic 
attack, and Harris was going to Sidney for 
the doctor. Their own horses were rambling 



156 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



out on the prairie somewhere, and Harris said 
he would ride a wild one. Jerry held the 
lantern and Harris threw a rope at random 
into the corral. He caught a wild-eyed mare. 
They snubbed her up to the fence, saddled 
her,' and Harris mounted in the saddle. In 
the lantern light she reared, knocked out the 
light and disappeared in blackness. Jerry 
struck a match, and saw Harris aholding the 
animal down. 

"Open the gate," he said. 

This was done, and the dark form of horse 
and rider shot into the night. That ride to 
Sidney, over prairies full of badger and 
prairie dog holes, buffalo wallows, and the 



like, on a wild, never-before-ridden horse, in 
the night, was accomplished in short order. 

Harris kept the animal headed east and 
generally between the railroad and the creek, 
by slapping the side of its head, this side and 
then the other, with rope, and hat and hand. 
After the first frenzied effort to roll him off, 
its one purpose seemed to be to wish to run 
away from its tormentor, but he stuck like 
a leach. 

The doctor arrived before daylight. 

Later Fritzie went entirely to the bad and 
died in the poor-house. The boys liked him, 
but he wasted whatever they liberally bestow- 
ed upon him, and in useless dissipation. 



chapter xxxii 

Mcdonald hung by vigilantes at sidney— sheriff trognitz's toke 
— practical tokes of old timers 



By 1881, the gun men of Sidney were again 
making themselves so generally obnoxious, 
that a drastic and a lawless exhibition became 
necessary to show them that it must end. The 
slow process of courts would not have the im- 
mediate effects which conditions urged, and 
which the vigilantes hoped to accomplish. 

In the passing of the frontier communities, 
heroic measures are frequently necessary. The 
hanging of Reed in 1879 toned down the wild 
gang for a time, but in a year or two, the shift- 
ing of bad men from place to place, again made 
Sidney the temporary abode of a tough gang 
of thieves and gamblers. The getaway of the 
bullion robbers added to their general reck- 
lessness. 

McCarthy's saloon was the Capitol, which 
later was owned by Harry Winters. Mike 
Tobin ran the corner saloon on Second street 
from the railroad. Zig Gudfruend had his 
emporium on Front street, and there were 

nlllcl's. 

Thi soldiers stationed at Fort Sidney were 
not "t" the lily white variety. An Irishman 
named John Mathews and his wife ran a 
joint some distance east of the present site 
of tin- American Stale Bank, and they got 
mixed up in an embroglio with a bunch of 
soldiers. Early in the morning those who had 
retired, I Sidney was then a town where sa- 
le open day and night) wen- awak- 
ened b) hots, and the few who 



were stationed where they could witness the 
affair, said that the Irishman and his wife 
stood in the door side by side, and each emptied 
a six-shooter at the soldiers, some six or 
seven of whom were wounded. Then they 
went inside and barred the door, and im- 
mediately dropped flat upon the floor. The 
soldiers riddled the front of the building with 
bullets, but all were too high to hit the re- 
cumbent occupants. This was only an inci- 
dent of the life'there. 

Julius Thoelecke ran a jewelry store and 
watch repairing establishment on Second 
street about a half block east of the American 
State Bank corner, in 1881, and he resided in 
the same building. He had a living room at 
the rear of the store, and a kitchen to the 
rear of that. West of the living room was the 
bedroom, and in front of that was another 
room occupied by a milinery store and living 
room, which was owned by a Mrs. Ferguson. 

Thoelecke had a brothe'r at North Platte, 
who occasionally shipped hay to Sidney, and 
Julius attended to the distribution. Sam Fow- 
ler was then sheriff, he having succeeded Mose 
Howard who had resigned. He had a deputy 
named "Cottontail" Strater, a fearless man 
possessed of a desire to see a little more law 
enforced. On the morning in mind he visited 
Thoelecke's place for the purpose of nego- 
tiating regarding some hay. 

Fowler and "Cottontail" had "stirred up 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



157 



the animals," as the saying went, and the 
gamblers vowed vengeance. By some arrange- 
ment the duty fell upon one named McDonald 
to get rid of "Cottontail," and on that morning 
he entered the store after Strater, and. pulled 
his gun. Strater had just time to duck, and he 
clucked into the living-room of the Thoeleckes. 
Getting a grip on his gun he started for the 
front room again, when Mrs. Thoelecke took 
a hand. She was a strong woman weighing 
about one hundred and eighty pounds and she 
seized the diminutive deputy sheriff and forced 
him into a chair. She then opened the door, 
and McDonald, thinking it was the returning 
deputy, dropped his gun upon her. She was 
absolutely fearless, and he discovered his er- 
ror in time to prevent homicide. Still bent 
upon his purpose, he turned out of the door 
and ran around the millinery store towards a 
side door of the kitchen. But here Mrs. 
Thoelecke again met him, and demanded that 
he leave the place "like a gentleman." The 
story of the event spread like a prairie fire. 
The gamblers gathered in force on the corner 
in front of Tobin's saloon, and condemned Mc- 
Donald for his fiasco ending of the affair. 
Fowler and Strater went about deputizing 
men to take the gang. Occasionally one who 
stood in with the rough element or did not 
court any trouble with them, would refuse to 
be deputized, until they saw the muzzle of a 
gun, and the determined faces, then he would 
join, sometimes with a humorous remark, that 
after all he "guessed he would go too." 

How they got away with it without a shot 
being fired and a number of killed and wound- 
ed, was only a miracle. But Fowler went into 
the saloon and brought out McDonald. He and 
Hugh Bean, "the gentleman gambler," Dan 
Sullivan, Frank Anderson, and some half a 
dozen others were disarmed, marched to the 
old Sidney jail, and locked in. 

Sometime in the night a number of men, 
some of whom still reside in the new and bet- 
ter Sidney, got their heads together. In the 
morning McDonald was found near the court 
house hung to a pole, and the other gambler 
prisoners, had all "vamoosed" for healthier 
climates. One of the scattered clan recently 
died in Pocatello, Idaho, and what became 
of the others is of little consequence. 

The deputy sheriff very likely owed his life 
to the activities of Mrs.' Thoelecke, although 
he may have proven the quicker had he been 
permitted to return to the store, and McDonald 
been the victim of a gun fight instead of at 
the hands of vigilantes. Had he chosen his 
fate, that would probably have been the alter- 
native. The staging of the affair in a jewelry 



store, instead of the usual haunts,, indicated 
a yellow start, and the hope to catch his pro- 
posed victim unprepared. 

This was the last hanging by vigilantes in 
the Panhandle, but occasionally the cow-punch- 
ers, to give travelers on the Union Pacific a 
thrill, would pull off a stunt by hanging a dum- 
my to a pole near the railroad, and shoot it full 
of holes, as a train pulled into town. 

In the middle eighties, Charley Trognitz was 
sheriff of Cheyenne county, and he had a bill 
disallowed by the commissioners, which he 
himself considered was an error upon their 
part. The board then consisted of A. Frame, 
J. W. Harper and Joe Atkins. 

In the routine of county business there 
came a time when they must inspect the coun- 
ty jail. Trognitz let them all get well inside, 
and locked them in. Rattling the big keys 
upon the bars, he asked. "Now will you allow 
the bill." They capitulated. Charley said he 
knew he could not hold them to it, but they 
also knew that he knew enough about them 
to keep them there for life, and a little touch 
of it would bring it home to them. 

"The trouble." said Charley, "was that I 
could not tell on them, for I was in it when it 
happened. But they allowed the bill of a man 
whom they thought was desperate." 

One time J. W. Harper was in Omaha, and 
he met Colonel Charles Coffee of Chadron and 
a number of other old timers. They had stop- 
ped for lunch at the Millard cafe, and one of 
the fellows more bibulous than the others, had 
lingered long over his chops. The others grew 
tired of waiting and wandered up town. Af- 
ter a time their absent friend joined them and 
told them of a wonderful work of art, the por- 
trait of a woman in the cafe of the Millard, 
which the others had failed to note. 

So enthusiastic was his endorsement of the 
work, that they were finally sufficiently inter- 
ested to return and look at it. The picture 
proved to be a commonplace portait of a wom- 
an, and none could see the cause for such 
enthusiasm. The amateur art critic made each 
one of them stand in front of the picture, then 
to each side, then in the far corners, and each 
time look at the woman's eyes. Still they were 
unmoved and demanded that he point out the 
particular features of art that appealed to him. 

"Why, can't you see?" he said with appar- 
ent earnestness, "that wherever in this room 
you stand, her eyes are fixed upon you. It is 
wonderful. You over there and me over here, 
and she is looking squarely at both of us at the 
same time." 

The fellows looked at each other, ami Cof- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



fee broke the silence. "Come on, boys, I'll 
buy." 

The coming of prohibition will forever end 
certain of the rough pranks and jollity of 
men. Much of the good fellowship and humor 
of the west was where the spirits were en- 
livened by frequent and sundry libations. Not 
all of the early men drank, but those who 
did not, frequented the places where those bent 
on revelry were inclined to congregate. Com- 
ical incidents that were common in the bar 
room, would be inappropriate in a soda parlor 
or a grocery store. Valentine King and 
Charley Nelson, initiating a newcomer into 
the glories of the west, would be out of place 
in a candy kitchen. 

These old time gentlemen had a tenderfoot 
in Zig. Gudfreund's saloon at Sidney, and their 
conversation drifted into the mysterious power 
of mind. Nelson declared he was a mind 
reader and the stranger, as expected, disputed 
the existence of such power. A small wager 
was put up, and Nelson retired. The stranger 
was to hide some article, selected after Charley, 
had left the room, and Nelson was to find it 
upon his return. 

The stranger was looking for some suitable 
article to hide, when King innocently suggested 
an egg, there being a number in a dish behind 



the bar. The unusual article Valentine sug- 
gested could be hid in the stranger's cap, which 
would be an unlikely place to look for it. 

Charley was then called in, and he experienc- 
ed some difficulty in getting his mental ap- 
paratus in working order. He maneuverated 
about, and reached up his arms, for a while, 
and finally, when it was in the right position, 
he said : "Well, whatever it is, I have a feel- 
ing that it is right here." His hand went 
down with a slap upon the tenderfoot's head 
and smashed the egg. The smeared and in- 
dignant man, was finally coaxed into good 
humor, with the perfect understanding that he 
was now a full-fledged westerner, and at lib- 
erty to practice on any stranger that might 
happen along. 

King and Nelson have both left this land, 
the former on the "long, long trail." and Nelson 
to Cuba, which has not yet adopted the single 
standard of water, with nothing above two and 
one-half per cent alcohol. He says it is ask- 
ing too much of one of the old boys who used 
to take it straight, to drink forty gallons of 
water to get one of "licker." His stay in 
Cuba will not be permanent, for Nelson has 
been too long in western Nebraska to part 
with it forever. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

GORDON'S AND WHITEHEAD'S RANCHES — YODER'S BEGINNING AND EX- 
PANSION — NEW DEVELOPMENT IN GOSHEN HOLES — BE- 
GINNING OF ALFALFA AND SUGAR BEETS 



On our first trip up Horse creek in the 
eighties, we stopped at the Gordon ranch, in 
company with George Whitehead. Gordon 
was .'in active Scotchman and had built an irri- 
gation plant. He, in one place, had made a 
tunnel through a hill, as I remember it quite 
a long distance, and large enough to work a 
team in. 

The house was modern and had "uphol- 
stered" furniture. The night we were there, 
we were entertained in the parlor, along with 
a couple of "punchers" from the south. These 
were decidedly ill at ease sitting on the sofa, 
until they got their feet drawn up under 
them, (in the "plush" upholstery. Gordon tried 
Iiin l.i'si to In unconcerned aboul using his style 



furniture as a boot mat, but he occasionally 
grunted ; "that must be comfortable." 

The Gordon ranch later became a part of 
the Colen Hunter ranch, and I believe it so 
remains. The building and improving of the 
ranch involved Gordon in heavy obligations 
which he was unable to meet in the later 
money-pinch. He built an ideal, but was un- 
able to retain it. like so many of the ideals 
which dreamers build. Someone else absorbed 
the benefits of his genius and industry, because 
he built on borrowed money. 

I do not know the present ownership of the 
old Whitehead ranch, although, as I recall, 
it was quite a place then. 

In 1881, P. T. Yoder and his son H. F. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBR \SK \ 



159 



(Frank) came from Aft. Pleasant, Iowa, and 
located on Bear creek, about ten miles west 
of the present site of Meridian. This ranch 
started with thirty-seven heifers and a dozen 
horses. Mr. Goodman, a squawman, lived not 
far from where they settled. 

Homer Z. Yoder, no relative of the original 
family, has a ranch at this time, three or 
four miles down the creek from the first Yoder 
ranch. 

There was a school house on Bear creek 
at the time — said to be the one in which Molly 
Woods, heroine of "The Virginian" once 
taught school. 

Frank Yoder. attended school here in the 
winter of 1881 and 1882, being the only white 
pupil in attendance. Five daughters of Good- 
man attended this school, they being beady- 
eyed half-breeds of varying ages. 

At the tap of the bell for intermission, noon 
or night, these girls would move silently to 
the door, but as soon as in the clear, they would 
scatter and run for the brush like scared rab- 
bits. Then at the call bell they would silent- 
ly re-emerge and file shyly into their seats. 

Jess Yoder, a brother of H. F., arrived in 
1882. The humble beginning developed and 
at sometime or another these Yoder boys have 
owned a lot of the ranches thereabout. 

The Dollar ranch, on Bear creek ; the Grease- 
wood ranch in the Goshen Holes, and several 
others, were owned at one time or another. 

The Yoder-Marsh Company, consisting of 
Jess Yoder and a brother-in-law named Marsh, 
now own the old Y-cross ranch, which they 
bought nearly twenty years ago. The}' run 
three to four thousand cattle at this time. 

H. F. Yoder, about five years ago, acquired 
the fine old Brown ranch near La Grange. 
This place had 3,160 acres of excellent land. 
Here Frank keeps in the neighborhood of one 
thousand cattle. 

The Yoder boys are active in banking and 
finance in the Citizen's National Bank of Chey- 
enne, the Torrington National Bank at Tor- 
rinsrton, and elsewhere. 

The Hawk Springs Development Company 
was of their conception, and from its reservoir 
it supplies water for several thousand acres of 
excellent farms in the heart of the Goshen 
Holes. 



In this same section of the Goshen Hole 
country, the Springers — •Henry and John — 
have their reservoir and private lands and ca- 
nals covering a thousand acres of their own. 

They also supply water for Lon Merchant. 
the McHenrys. Airs. Armitage, Security Land 
Company and others. 

Also here is built the "Bump-Sullivan" ditch 
now owned by "Goshen Ditch Company." This 
company also has a storage reservoir and is 
jointly owned by Tom, Charlie (Pit) and 
Jack Lacy, the Sullivans,- Paul Woods, Ethel 
Rowell, Airs. Perry Sullivan, the Selbys and 
Wm. Hingelfelt. In this vicinity is destined to 
be a city of considerable importance when the 
Union Pacific extends its line up the North 
Platte Valley, as is contemplated in 1921. 

Some excellent alfalfa fields are in this part 
of the valley, and a sugar factory is one of the 
early anticipations after the advent of the rail- 
road. It takes a long time to realize dreams, 
but the west was built by dreams. 

There are living and active in business in the 
state capital, Lincoln, Nebraska, men who sat 
in the shadow of sod houses, and dreamed that 
some day there would be a railroad builded to 
the Salt Basin, and Lancaster Hill, now the 
city of Lincoln. It was then inland, and reach- 
ed by trail wagons and stage. 

Fifty years ago there lived in North Platte 
a dreamer by the name of J. B. Park. In 1870, 
he advocated through the columns of the Lin- 
coln County Adventurer, the planting of sugar 
beets and lucerne. From France he imported 
some sugar beet seed which was the beginning 
of that crop which now runs to ten million dol- 
lars a year, in western Nebraska alone. 

He also imported several bags of Chilian 
clover seed, thus planting the first alfalfa in 
Nebraska. In that day it was known as Lucerne, 
Chilan clover, or California clover, the name 
alfalfa coming into general use later on. It 
is difficult to estimate the value which Colonel 
Parks initiation has been to our community 
and commonwealth. 

During the campaign of 1920, the output 
from the four sugar mills at Scottsbluff, Ger- 
ing, Bayard and Mitchell will be approximately 
one thousand pounds of refined sugar every 
minute of the day and night, a total of some 
one hundred and fifty million pounds. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER XXXIV 



SAND HILL RANCHES OF TODAY — DANGERS OF THE STAMPEDE — ORIGIN 
OF SOME WESTERN EXPRESSIONS — PRANKS OF EARLY DAYS 



The Sand Hill regions of Sheridan, Sioux 
and Garden counties, are more extensive than 
others of the Panhandle, though not having 
the area of Cherry county, which lies further 
east, or not having the percentage of grazing 
land that a number of the small counties in 
the Sand Hills contain. 

These Sand Hill regions are now the home 
of many great ranches that have come since 
the old cattle baron went over the Great Divide. 
In early granger days, and while the sand hills 
were passing to title under the section home- 
stead act, we heard stories of feudal despots 
known as "cattle barons." But always these 
bold, bad buccaneers were "over the hill," 
somewhere. They were elusive, and no one 
ever quite "met up" with one. 

A few half insane bachelors like John 
Krause, added a touch of realism to the stories 
told. But the real ranchers of the sand hills 
were fellows like Charles Tulleys, Festus 
Carothers, Everett Eldred, Ed Meyers, John 
Batchelor, Avery Brothers, L. E. Ballinger, 
George Richardson, Smith Brothers and scores 
of others that could be named. 

A number of the younger ranchmen obtained 
their start from such men as Festus Carothers. 
Some very successful young men have been 
"put upon their feet" by this enterprising and 
splendid old man of the Hills, more than once, 
before they succeeded in getting a grip upon 
themselves. 

Some of the Sand Hill ranches are landed 
empires. 

Eldred's ranch in northern Garden county 
contains about four townships. He runs vast 
herds — probably more than 10,000 cattle and 
1000 horses. In the big storm of March, 1913, 
fifteen hundred cattle were lost by their drift- 
ing into Swan lake. 

The Avery ranches are also large. Charles 
has a ranch covering two townships, and well 
stocked. Sam also has a fine ranch. Fine 
hay meadows, and a hunting lodge on one of 
the Avery lakes, built for the accommodation 
of friends and visitors, is the way Avery 
Brothers do things. 

Boyd and Rice own Crescent ranch which 

covers about three townships, and is well stock- 

' d George Richardson has more than a town- 

i E Ballinger twenty thousand acres. 

R. M. Hampton's ten thousand acre ranch 
in the northern part of Morrill county, has 



been merged into the thirty-five thousand acre 
ranch of Hall and Graham. This ranch cuts 
thousands of tons of hay annually, and suf- 
fered a great hay loss by fire in 1920. They 
have from three thousand to four thousand 
cattle. 

All these ranches are under the new order, 
as the old free range has passed away. The 
big roundups are no more, except perhaps in 
remote regions of Argentine, or on the Ama- 
zon, in South America. 

Neither do we have the stampedes that used 
to wither the grass as the trampling feet of 
wild-eyed cattle passed. Those were days when 
"The Phantom Steer" led herds to perdition. 
To quote from verse written in the running 
style of the running cattle: 

"For at my side with a flaming nose, 
And eyes that glowed as foxfire glows, 
With a body of quivering, pulsing mist 
My rope cut through as it, whirling, hissed. 
Was a Thing that sped with the speed of deer : 
I was neck and neck with "The Phantom 

Steer;" 
The Thing that never was known to miss 
A bottomless bog, or a precipice ; 
The Thing that leads both herds and men 
To where they never come back again." 

The old familiar and effective way to stop a 
stampede, was to ride well in the lead, and turn 
the leaders into an ever narrowing circle, until 
they were into a slowly revolving wheel with 
those in the center hardly moving out of their 
tracks. This contained its perils, for the rid- 
ing at night is nearly always on strange ground. 
If a horse should fall it was almost sure death. 

Thus the use of the word "mill" or "milling," 
took on additional meaning. A crowd moving 
about was "milling around." Dancing the old 
"round dances" were sometimes called "mill- 
ing." Occasionally dancers and dancing were 
referred to as "the night herd is a-running," 
or "the herd, it got to milling when the fiddle 
got in tune." 

Wyatt ( Long) Heard, of Uvalde county, 
Texas, drifted through Banner county, on the 
last roundup. He liked the social early times, 
but had the fault of getting seriously in earnest 
with the girls he liked best. Those early girls 
liked a good time, but none of them cared any- 
thing about "a solid fellow." 



HISTORY <>]• WHSTKRX XKBKASKA 



One with whom Wyatt had gone several 
times, when asked by him to attend another 
party, plead a previous engagement. She ap- 
peared at the party with Grant Mills. 

Homer Welker, a wag of the range, knew of 
the affair and when he got the proper surround- 
ings he said : "The only way to stop a "Heard" 
is to get it to "Mill." Then he snorted. Every 
body but Heard appreciated the joke. 

There were a lot of pranks pulled off at 
parties and dances, and where some "puncher's" 
horse, or buggy team was tied at the gate or 
corral of a place where one of the first girls 
were known to reside. I found my broncho un- 
tied late one night when I was starting for 
home. The "fool critter" traveled ahead of me 
in the moonlight from fifty to one hundred 
yards distant, all the way. It was a nice seven 
mile walk. I never knew who did the untying. 

I have participated in changing a fellow's 
buggy wheels, putting the small wheels on the 



rear, so that the occupants would drive home 
"up hill most of the way." 

Another time, a "hitch rope" was taken from 
one of the horses, and the hind wheels tied 
together. The effect was, when the fellow 
started home with the girl, the first revolution 
of the wheels brought the rope across the back 
of the buggy box, and then the wheels slid. He 
worried about the sagging buggy box, and 
thought a spring must be broken. Also, the 
ponies failed to pick up any speed, and seemed 
to be pulling hard on the light rig. Xext morn- 
ing he discovered the cause. 

One of the jokes of the ranchmen in north 
Garden county, whenever visiting Omaha or 
other markets, was to pose as the "Mayor of 
Mumper." Mumper was a postoffice at a 
ranch in the Sand Hill country, and while 
"Mayor of Mumper" was impressive among 
distant strangers, at home it had about as much 
significance as mayor of a hill of sand. 



CHAPTER XXXV 

FIRST RAXCH IN DAWES COUNTY — GRAHAM AND SNYDER ON NIOBRARA 
RIVER — OTHER RANCHES XEAR FORT ROBINSON — STAM- 
PEDIN' ON THE OLD TRAIL 



After the establishment of Fort Robinson, 
soldiers of fortune and others began building 
ranches within the radius of its protection. 

The first to enter ranching activities in the 
territory now embraced in Dawes county, was 
Edgar Beecher Bronson, on Dead Man's creek, 
a few miles southwest of the present site of 
Crawford. The Sioux name for this creek was 
Ghost creek. Bronson located there about 1878, 
and about the same time Dr. E. B. Graham and 
R. Snyder established themselves on the Nio- 
brara, at Agate, which has later become famous 
as the home of Captain James H. Cook. 

Bronson moved to the Niobrara in 1879, and 
located about twelve miles east of Graham and 
Snyder. He became a writer of considerable 
note, publishing a book of western adventure. 

Captain Cook is also a well known character 
in western Nebraska early life when Indians 
were a menace. At the Agate ranch has been 
unearthed and developed one of the most fam- 
ous fossil beds of the world. Mr. Cook, though 
long before in the west, purchased the Graham 
ranch about 1887. 

Jack Carpenter was one of the first near 



Fort Robinson. He initiated his work about 
1879, on White river a few miles west of the 
fort. 

About the same time, Captain Hamilton, an 
officer at the fort, started on Soldier creek. I 
believe he took the location which Bronson 
abandoned on going to the Niobrara. 

Powers Brothers of the Seven-U put in a 
sub-station on Bordeaux creek. 

Six miles east of the fort, a Mr. Russell, who 
represented and was backed by the Diiector of 
the Port of New York, built the Ox-Yoke 
ranch. Russell was a brother-in-law of the 
Director. These ranches were not of large 
proportion, and did not endure for long. 

Carpenter's boy — Willie — arrived in the 
winter of 1879-1880 and was snow-bound in 
Sidney for three or four weeks. He was a nice 
kind of a kid and stayed in Oberfelder's store. 
Some years later a big, wiskered man with a 
deep voice came into the store and asked for 
Bob. When Bob appeared he said: "I want 
your father," but after a bit he discovered it 
was the same Bob of old. He asked if Bob re- 
membered Jack Carpenter. Bob answered : 



162 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



"< if course I do, and also his son Willie."' 

"Well," said the visitor, "by I am Willie." 

He had developed into a powerful man men- 
tally and physically, and had removed to Idaho, 
where he had become very wealthy. 

From 1893 to 1910, the Union Cattle Com- 
pany leased its Goshen Hole lands, west of 
Wyoming line to the Two-Bar or Swan outfit. 

Will Sturgis had a number of tests made, 
looking for coal, oil and gas. Some five wells 
were put down, ranging from 500 to 1000 feet. 
At one time, making some assessment work, 
he employed Howard Thomas, who was sub- 
ject to epileptic fits. He had a shaft down 
about six feet, when one of these fits rendered 
him helpless. He drowned in less than a foot 
of water. 

Tom Sturgis had Whispering Smith em- 
ployed in the eighties to keep Cheyenne county 
from going for the herd law. He failed in 
his efforts for the grangers were strong for it. 
McGinley and Stover located three miles 
west of Agate in 1882, and Earnest Brothers 
located three miles farther up the river about 
the same time. 

"Hank" Clifford ran the station at the Nio- 
brara crossing about 1878 or 1879. The same 
time, or thereabouts, Mr. Meeks located his 
ranch fifteen miles northwest of Agate, where 
the Ft. Laramie-Ft. Robinson Military road 
crossed the river. 

A third nf a century ago, the granger broke 
into the open range, and the cowmen scattered, 
or stampeded, or settled down to the new order. 
Every little while we now hear of one who has 
gone "stampedin' on the Old Trail." Yet, to- 
day, we find a few anchored to the soil of the 
wonderful land, which they have helped to tame 
from the wilderness of old, to the present 
wilderness of green, done in seventeen shades 
of glory and productivity. 

Recently there seems to be a Stampede of 
the old boys, heading for the Home Ranch 
Across the Great Divide, and it is fitting that 
we should close this history of an epoch in the 
taming f (he west, with a few lines dedicated 
to the brave and true spirits who wrought the 
transformation : 

Stampedin j ox the Old Trail 

The 1>ovs are leavin' this old range, 

Where once they liked to ride; 
And hittin' for the Home Ranch, 

\< TO ■ ilu- I ,rcat Divide. 
We .-ill were goin' sometime 

P.n! never had agreed 

1,1 quil the flats in bunches — 
A regular stampede. 



From Circle Arrow ranch the first 

To drift or fade away, 
Were Jimmy Tate at Sidney, 

And" Kimball Billy Day. 
He's put in Boot Hill Graveyard, 

With boots on, as he died, 
W 7 hen Jimmy quit the Lodgepole 

And hit the Great Divide. 

And then to take the High Roau 

Was our old Captain Jenks ; 
He went with the Rough Riders 

When shuffling off the kinks. 
Then Chris Streeks of a sudden 

Snuffed out the light, and died — 
He swung into the saddle 

For the Long and Lonely Ride. 

Old Baldy Kelly hit The Road 

From Little Moon lakeshore, 
For Iron Leg Bill was spittin' fire 

From out the cabin door. 
Now. Baldy 's way of queerin' Bill 

Was coarse, as coarse could be. 
He ought a hung with old Tom Horn 

Or swung with Earl McFee. 

O'Hallern with his boots on 

Done quit the Seven-U : 
And Charley Moore, of Wellsville, 

Said he'd go Trailin', too. 
They left the old sod shanty 

At the north end of the bridge, 
And the last was seen of either. 

He was trailin' o'er The Ridge. 

The Maycock brothers, John and Joe, 

Each passed along The Way. 
John dropped in from the sagebrush, 

And Joe from Canada. 
And boys, a waitin', millin' 'round. 

For calls to come up higher. 
Saw Colonel Pratt fade up The Trail 

A settin' her afire. 

Then from the Runnin' Water 

Went the Earnests — Jim and Wilse, 
And from the Mitchell valley 

Went a ridin' John R. Stilts, 
Peg Wiggins went from Torrington, 

And Extract Smith, be blowed 
With Gunnysack Pete, thru the dusk 

A burnin' up The Road. 

Then Wright, who lived on "Pumpkin Cieek' 

We always called him "John," 
Said, "Boys, I guess it's quittin' time 

And I'll be movin' on." 
And Sandy Ingraham spread his hand 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



163 



And guessed he'd quit the game, 
While Peters cashed his checks in, 
And said he'd do the same. 

They saw a shadow foggin' 

And a fannin' up The Vale 
"It's Johnny Boyle," they shouted, 

"That's the way he hits The Trail." 
Then Haig, he quits the Two-bar, 

To travel on The Road, 
A lookin' for old Snodgrass, 

McShane and Mark M. Coad. 

He'll find them sittin' in the game 

In good old fashioned style, 
And, maybe, lookin' on, he'll find 

His neighbor, Milton Byal. 
There's Tusler, and~Sam Fowler, 

And Laing, who lived upon 
The "Lorren's Fork" a plavin' 

With old Doc Middletom 

It sure is quite an outfit 

Of saddle boys that goes. 
Jim Brantner, of White river, 

And little Tim Montrose. 
And they have caught Lew Saunders 

A trailin' o'er The Hills : 
And Grangers of the Frontier — 

There's Dad, A. W. Mills. 

Raymond, Rayburn, Thornton, 

Ashford — ■ pioneers 
Are plowin' up the turf There 

As here, in early years. 
But that won't make them worry 

They won't have long to wait, 
'Til someone after that Long Ride 

Will say, "Let's irrigate." 

There's H. M. Springer — drivin' fast • 

Along the Dusty Trail 
There's P. J. Yoder leavin' 

The Bear creek — Fox Creek Vale. 
And Colin Hunter from Horse creek — 

He crossed the Cheyenne Plain 
Where Gordon had gone on before, 

Along with Doc. Tremaine. 

Sam Lawyer — arms a flappin' 

And floppin' like a sail 
Went foggin' and a fannin' up 

The Dim and Dusty Trail 
I faintly hear an anvil, 

And ringin' blacksmith tools : 
I wonder if Jack Hilton's there 

A shoein' Spanish mules. 

Bronson left the Deadman's\ creek 



A "Ghost" upon the Wind. 
Doc Graham went from Agate 

A followin' close behind. 
Bill Kelly went from Pumpkin creek 

A trailin' old Tom Kane 
And Newman's quit the Lodgepole 

To lead the Turks again. 

Dick Bean could drive a herd of steers 

Across the river Styx. 
But drivin' harnessed bronchos 

Got him in a regular fix. 
When horses, harness, wagon, 

They had all begun to "mill," 
Why Dick, he up and leaves them 

On the Old Ash Hollow Hill. 

With old association gone 

Bratt didn't care a hoot 
'Bout things along the Birdwood, 

So they run him through the Chute 
With Keith and Barton on One Range 

And maybe A. B. Hall, 
Or Chas. McDonald on another 

Wouldn't do at all. 

So Bratt, he said, no Bogy 

Could scare one of his stamp, 
If he had men like Cody 

Or Likens, in his camp. 
He'd hunt the scattered Dogies 

And as he found his pals, 
He'd round 'em up and drive 'em in 

To his Home Ranch Corrals. 

I wonder if the old boys. 

Join in the "round up mill :" 
I wonder if the bronchos 

Are linin' the corral: 
And girls with merry laughter. 

And boys with shouts of glee, 
Swing "a-la-man" at Livingston 

To the tune of Fiddler Lee. 

The old grout house is crumbled, 

And soddies of the west, 
Where gatherings were welcome 

When roundup outfits passed, 
Are gone ; and gone the fiddler 

Who played the prancin' tune. 
When "the night herd was runnin' " 

'Til the settin' of the moon. 

I wonder if the mess house 

Is like it used to be ; 
I wonder if the bunk house 

Is calling you and me. 
I wonder if the old boys 

Arc plavin' seven up. 



164 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



And callin' Collins, bring 'em in 
An overbrimmin' cup. 

D'ye reckon that is why they 

Are tearin' down The Slope. 
Like rippin' into Sidney, 

Or down on Antelope. 
D'ye reckon there's a Camp Clarke, 

A Hartville or Cheyenne, 
A waitin' for us yonder where 

The other boys have gone. 

Is Jim Moore there a playin' 

A game of solitaire, 
Or is he ridin' "the Express," 

And fannin' through the air? 
For many a long gone year he's been 

A waitin' for The Run 
He knew was sure a comin' when 



The Stampede was begun. 

We'll meet with old Count Creighton, 

He'll be there without fail, 
And we'll find Billy Paxton, 

A freightin' up The Trail. 
I feel like tightening the cinch, 

To quit the sorry grange, 
And join one of the outfits 

Headed for the Other Range. 

I wonder if the fordin's good? 
If not, I'll have to fix 

With H. T. Clarke, and cross his toll- 
Bridge o'er the River Styx. 

Dear old Dad White will be there 
A holdin' out his hand, 

To take the final tribute, 

E're we reach the Promised Land. 



CHEYENNE COUNTY 



CHAPTER I 



HISTORY OF THE COUNTY 



Nothing in history exceeds in romantic in- 
terest the discovery and settlement of the New 
World, of which Nebraska and Cheyenne coun- 
ty are a part. The history of Nebraska begins 
with the Spanish Invasion of Mexico, and set- 
tlements at Santa Fe and Taos. Then later 
with the voyage of La Salle when he took New 
France, now Canada, and the region of the 
Great Lakes and the territory of Louisiana, in 
the name of Louis the Great, King of France. 
Spain followed by France thus became the first 
owners of the territory now comprised in Ne- 
braska ; in 1763, Louisiana Territory was* 
ceded back to Spain, and what is now Cheyenne 
county, though unmarked and unnamed was in 
this territory. In 1802, Spain again ceded the 
territory to France, which prepared the way 
for Thomas Jefferson, President of the United 
States, to negotiate the Louisiana purchase by 
which Louisiana Territory became a part of 
the young Republic in 1803. Cheyenne coun- 
ty was a part of it. 

This section of the country was inhabited 
only by the roving bands of Indians at that 
time and little was known of the country this 
far west. May 30, 1854, Nebraska Territory 
was created by an act of Congress, and in 
1866 the question of the admission of Ne- 
braska as a state was raised. All conditions 
required by Congress were complied with and 
on March 1, 1867, the territory ceased to be, 
and the great state of Nebraska came into 
existence. 

Cheyenne county was created by act of 
the first state legislature in 1867, and at that 
time contained the territory since erected into 
Banner, Deuel, Garden, Kimball, Morrill and 
Scotts Bluff counties. At the present time the 
county lies in the Panhandle section of Ne- 
braska, in the second tier from the western 
boundary and the south tier north of the Colo- 
rado-Nebraska boundary. Cheyenne county is 
bounded on the north by Morrill county ; on 
the east bv Garden and Deuel counties, on the 



south by Colorado, and on the west by Kim- 
ball and Banner counties. 

The general topography of the country may 
be described as high rolling plains, ranging 
from broken cliffs along the Lodgepole to the 
level lands of tableland and valleys. The land 
is composed mostly of rich sand loam, occa- 
sionally traversed by deep canyons showing 
some rock out cropping. Profitable farming is 
extensively carried on in the county. Where 
much was given over to stock-raising by using 
the native grasses for forage, and pasture, in 
early days, it is now secondary- in point of im- 
portance. 

The Lodgepole creek valley leads all the 
valley in the county in size. It enters the 
county at the west line south of the center 
north and south, is several miles wide and 
runs east entirely across the country in an al- 
most direct east and west direction. In addi- 
tion to this major stream, the Lodgepole val- 
ley has a south branch running northeast from 
the western line and smaller valleys, many 
unnamed. Lodgepole valley is generally "level, 
deep soiled and well watered and in an early 
day was attractive to the homeseekers. The 
lands were the first lands to be settled and 
today are the sites of the oldest ranches and 
farms. In the early days the stream was 
wooded along its banks with trees native to 
this locality, while the bluffs bordering the . 
valley contained scattering Cedar 'and Pine. 

Cheyenne County Weather 

No detailed description of climatic condi- 
tions in Cheyenne county is necessary. The 
climate is much the same as in all parts of the 
western highlands of the state and the middle 
west, and is admirably adapted to stock-rais- 
ing and agriculture. It is a very healthful 
climate. 

Early Settlement 

Contemporaneous with ami following the 



166 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



building of the Union Pacific, the cattlemen 
came into the country. All was government 
and railroad land, and the stockmen came to 
use the ranges. Originally they described 
their brands and range, thereby indicating a 
claim for so many miles of prairie that assured 
plenty of territory. Ranges seldom overlap- 
ped, but the cattle became mixed and the 
round up instituted. After Gates demonstrated 
efficacy of barbwire some began to build 
fences. In 1869 and 1870, cattle were wintered 
in the country now' comprised in Cheyenne 
county though the ranges had been used before 
that time for oxen. For a number of years 
no taxes were levied against the cattle, no in- 
vestments in real estate were necessary and 
the profits were large. Later the cattlemen and 
ranchers had to pay their taxes to the organ- 
ized counties adjacent. They had no benefit 
from them and no enforcement of the laws and 
in order to accomplish this it was evident that 
county organization should be established. 

County organization began to be talked over 
when the Union Pacific began building west 
through what is now Cheyenne county and the 
history of the county, and the town of Sidney, 
are so closely associated that they will be 
written together. 

Sidney and Cheyenne County 

The story of Cheyenne county and Sidney 
begins in 1867 when the Union Pacific Rail- 
road reached the site of the present city. 

On December 13, 1867, the United States 
established Sidney Barracks, a sub-post of Fort 
Sedgewick, Colorado Territory. 

On November 28, 1870, it became an inde- 
pendent post. 

The first purpose of the soldiers at Fort Sid- 
ney was to protect the builders of the rail- 
road; four troops of the Third and Fifth 
United States Cavalry were stationed there 
and a portion of the Third Infantry for a 
time but they were later sent to another post. 
General Dudley was in command of Sidney 
Post and remained two years before being re- 
lieved by Genera] Merritt. A companv of 
soldiers was stationed at or near the present 
site of the town of Lodgepole and another 
twenty miles west, where Potter is now located. 
In the middle eighties troops from Vancouver 
and other Pacific coast garrisons were sent 

tO these posts for a time. 

Politics, even at this early day, entered into 

he lifi mi Cheyenne county, as George W. E. 

member of Congress from the Third 

Nebraska District, which extended a; 

a- Fremont, his Ik. me. used the threat or 



scare regularly to have Fort Sidney abandoned, 
as an excuse to be returned to Congress. He 
succeeded in being elected until the farmers' 
revolution resulted in the election of Omer M. 
Kem. Four years after he was first elected, 
or in 1894, the post was abandoned and the 
government property later sold to the Bur- 
lington railroad and used as the site for the 
present station grounds. 

The Union Pacific railroad was built on to 
the west from Sidney in 1868, and with it went 
a large part of the population of the town 
when it was the end of the road. There was a 
large, nomadic, rough element in the country 
at the time, which always followed the rail 
head where it could prey on the laborers. The 
post was reduced to the mere needs of pro- 
tection from Indians, which grew less and less 
each year. 

For a period there was little life in the 
town and county, after the road reached farth- 
er west, bur, in 1870, things began to liven up, 
and the people began to consider organization. 
A partial set of officers were named and plans 
made for a regular election. This took place 
October 8, 1871, when Sidney's pioneer attor- 
ney, George W. Heist, was elected probate 
judge, but refused to qualify. He was later 
appointed and did qualify. George Cook was 
elected sheriff, but was removed and John 
Ellis was appointed in his place. James Moore 
was elected treasurer of the county but was 
unable to give the county commissioners a 
satisfactory bond and Thomas Kane was ap- 
pointed for that office, and D. Cowigan was 
commissioner, but later resigned. L. Connell, 
elected county clerk, served. Even at this 
early day there were indications that a political 
ring had been formed in Cheyenne county and 
unless a man was favored by the members he 
did not succeed in public life. 

The Cattee Business 

The stagnation of the town and county con- 
tinued through the next five years. The trail 
herds passing through the town and county en- 
livened life occasionally, when cattle werei 
driven from Texas into the country north of 
Sidney. The cattle business was becoming im- 
portant in the Nebraska Panhandle where 
abundant pasture was available. A report of 
Thomas Kane, secretary of the Cattle Asso- 
ciation, made August 5, 1876, indicates that 
the growth of this industry in Cheyenne county 
was considerable. The report gives only the 
cattle actually in the county, though some of 
the companies or ranchmen had large herds 
in other counties of the state, and in Colorado 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



167 



and Wyoming. Some of the most important 
companies and ranchmen with their holdings 
are as follows : Adams, Redington & Co., six 
thousand head ; Codd Brothers, five thousand 
head ; Creighton Herd, three thousand head ; 
Tusler Brothers, thirty-five hundred head; 
Pratt & Ferris, three thousand head ; Bostler 
& Irwin, twenty-five hundred head ; Bostler & 
Lawrence, two thousand head ; other men who 
had large numbers were Maybury, C. A. 
Moore, Harkinson & Griffin ; Thomas Kane. D. 

B. Lynch, H. Newman, Callihan & Murshied, 

C. McCarty, Walrath Brothers, Robert How- 
ard, Jesse Montgomery, Merchant & Wheeler. 

First Events of Interest 

The first white child born in Cheyenne coun- 
ty was Fanny Fisher, the daughter of Mr. 
and Mrs. Joseph Fisher of Sidney. She was 
born in 1869, as her parents had come to the 
county some time previously. 

The first cemetery was started when it was 
found necessary to bury a white man killed by 
the Indians. 




A log hut served as the first store building in 
Sidney and was built by a man called "French 
Louis." It was located about four miles south 
of the present town site, but when a station was 
established at Sidney on the railroad, he moved 
the store to the town. Most of the stock of 
goods at that day consisted of necessary sup- 
plies and whiskey. 

In 1868, Charles Moore built a frame hotel, 
store and saloon, and about the same time 
Thomas Kane built the second frame store 
building and became the first postmaster of 
Sidney. 

The name of Tom Kane stands out con- 
spicuously in the development of Sidney and 
Cheyenne county, as he was naturally a builder 
and pioneer developer, taking an active part in 
all public affairs. He was not only the first 



postmaster, but also the first treasurer of the 
county. He was instrumental in the movement 
to have the county organized. Mr. Kane was 
a prominent ranchman of this district, located 
near Bronson where he made good improve- 
ments, being among the first to erect a good 
stone dwelling house. As an early attorney 
of Cheyenne county, Mr. Kane was naturally 
a leader in many movements for the develop- 
ment of the country. He became secretary of 
the Cattle Association of Western Nebraska 
when it was formed, taking part in the settle- 
ment of many of the cattle disputes and diffi- 




A Fine Residence of Sidney 

culties of the early days. When the railroad 
tried to evade paying taxes Mr. Kane siezed an 
engine on the track. First he order the deputy 
sheriff, A. Solomonson, to stand in front of the 
engine ; then the engineer started the engine 
and Solomonson yelled to Kane, who replied, 
"Stand where you are." "But they will run 
the engine over me," replied Solomonson. 
"If they do I will make them pay dearly for 
it," Kane replied. Solomonson stood in the 
track and was not hurt as Kane had attached 
a log chain to the engine and track and the 
engine did not move until the taxes were paid. 
Mr. Kane never ran a saloon in the new coun- 
try and never was prominent in the roystering 
life of the frontier. Characteristic of his high 
spirits, he named his three boys. Tom, Dick 
and Harry. 

The first saloon was built and started in the 
new town of Sidney, by Dennis Carrigan. Sid- 
ney one time had twenty-three saloons in one 
block between First and Second streets west of 
Rose street, now Center street. Now there 
is none. The business died of its own ex- 
cesses and vice. Carrigan went into other busi- 
ness and became one of the progressive citizens, 
in later years. Saloon business in a "cow 
town" was vastly different from the same busi- 
ness in the mining rush. The people to deal 
with were of different type and character. 



1(,S 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



In 1,876, Sidney suddenly found itself the 
nearest town of consequence to the Black Hills 
at the time of the gold rush. Cheyenne entered 
into a spirited contest for the business which 
grew with leaps and bounds from the many 
men rushing in and requiring outfits ; Kearney 



the head, "Why argue with a man who has no 
brain?" The satire and sarcasm of the early 
day newspapers was at its best between Sid- 
ney and Cheyenne. 

By September, 1876, Sidney had a popula- 
tion of a thousand inhabitants, and the matter 




Clarke's Centennial Express to the Black Hills. 



Custer Cily. am 
. route may 3U,ip 
\|pad flt Sidney, 



Care_6f.H._T._CLARKE, 

Sidney, Neb. ; 
-ac-sStl^of. js.vvKU.PE fsjiD I-', Tii 




I^viV^ESS_DC5rNt;SS. 



pill 

lilt 






SIDNBY SHOR'Ii ROXFtW 

THI BLACK BXLXil 



ISKOW OPEN FOR TRAVEL. AND, WITH THS ROAD.lS " . 

Guarded £y the United ^States Troops'! v 

ONLY 167 MILES TO CUSTER CITf 

, TOOa THE BSIOll PACIFIC BAIUOAD. _ 

la'.y. aEd^Ctmp Olarto^liU* KlvwBrt'ds 






B RlWr,-ri,nn.n K through to R*d Cloi 
; L * i»n lutnlsh [rsoiporuiloo for 
Sidney to Custer City, i»<ir; I roc 



nwa 1 



HRVUISl. OF EN\ 



FASBEHGEK RAT3S - Omabi to Ouster CUT. lit cUii fit.' 3d cUUi |3t 
Xicteifor sale of £rn{ou Paiifia Railroad andr/ri*cii7al,Ilaitroad_TickttJ. 



Short Route to Black Hills 



also opened a route to the Hills across the 
sand hills of central Nebraska. Kearney soon 
dropped out of the running, but Cheyenne kept 
up for years, though Sidney held its own. Dr. 
George L. Miller ran the Omaha Herald at the 
time and made mention of the advantages of 
Sidney : a spirited fighl followed in the columns 
of the Cheyenne papers though it could not be 
denied that Sidney was sixty miles nearer 
od than Cheyenne. The Sidney Tele- 
graph quoted extensively from the paper's under 



of city government and a permanently platted 
city engaged much attention, although gold was 
the item of paramount interest to everyone. It 
was not until May 1, 1877, that a plat of the 
town was filed. 

In 1876 and 1877, there arrived and departed 
from Sidney about fifteen hundred people 
daily in the rush to the Black Hills for gold. 
People were going to and from the Black 
Hills, except for a few who stopped in Sidney 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



169 



a few days farther west, also itinerant gamblers 
and the following of every gold rush. 

Growth of Business 

Business grew and was well represented in 
Sidney in 1876 and 1877, but of the men then 
engaged in retail trade only two merchants 
remain in business today, namely : the Ober- 
felder Brothers, clothiers. During the rush 
through this section P. J. Cohn & Company, 



ture store, Kelley & Cameron and G. H. and 
J. S. Collins carried harness and saddles. 
"Regular outfitting stores were owned by C. A. 
Moore, R. S. Van Tassel and the Oberfelders. 
At the latter the office of the Stevenson stage 
line was maintained with an all night service. 
The only jewelry store was owned by B. M. L. 
Thoelecke ; C. E. Borquist was the pioneer 
druggist of Sidney, establishing his store in 
1871, and in 1876 C. F. Goodman opened the 
second drug house. 





MOORE' H'lTEL 

cJLl 





operated the Star Clothing House which for 
a time rivalled the Oberfelder store. P. J. 
Cohn was the original senior member. His 
nephews operated the store. Louis and Mike 
Cohn were cousins and Louis later became sole 
owner. Mike sold his interest for $40,000, took 
it to Chicago, and lost it. William France had 
a hardware store here in 1876, and among the 
grocers were Henry Gantz & Son, wholesale 
merchants ; W. I. McDonald, G. W. Dudley and 
H. T. Clarke. C. A. Morian and Dennis Car- 
rigan each ran a combined dry goods and gro- 
cery store while an exclusive dry goods house 
was owned by Stevens & Wilcox and another 
by A. S. Brown. Dewey & Stone ran a furni- 



The first doctor to locate in Sidney who 
served the town and a large part of Chey- 
enne county, was Dr. Boggs, and Dr. J. G. 
Ivy, physician and surgeon, came in the au- 
tumn of 1876. The only dental office in the 
town was run by the Urmy Brothers. 

N. Grant and John Carrier were the first 
men to run barber shops, the called "fashion- 
able barbers," soon followed by J. H. Surles 
and Charles M. Rouse. 

Pratt and Ferris, well known as the "P F" 
were the early freighters, doing an extensive 
business in Cheyenne county and the Black 
Hills, while G. W. Dudley advertised "Dear's 
Stage Line to the Black Hills." The main 



170 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



stage line was run by Stevenson and the Dears 
line was not long in operation. 

Half a dozen hotels and as many restaur- 
ants were built and operated to accommodate 
the rush of travelers, the best known being 
the Lockwood House, the Germania, the Gilt 
Edge, the Southern, the Delmonico, the Min- 
ers, the American and H. M. McFadden's, not 
one of which is in business today, having 
passed with the transient life of that day. All 
the men who operated them have gone but 
Mr. McFadden who still maintains his home in 
Sidney though retired from business. It should 
be stated that H. M. McFadden advertised in 
a way that stood out like an island in a tem- 




pestuous sea. "No gambling tables connected 
with this house." 

In April, 1876, the only resident lawyers 
in Sidney were George W. Heist and George 
R Ballou, though by the spring of 1877 V. 
Bierbower, A. M. Stevenson, Guy Barnum, 
Jr., and Tom Kane were also established in 
law practice. 

Mail Route 

In 1876, the United States established a 
mail mute between Sidney, Nebraska, and 
Greeley, Colorado. Sidney Probst was the 
driver from 1876 to 1878, and his many ex- 
periences of those early days are interesting 
and instructive, telling of the life of the van- 
guard of civilization. Probst died a few years 
ago in Colorado. This route did not com- 
pare in peril with that to the north on the 
Black Hills' route, for that line ran through 
hostile Indian country, and the stages were 
lined with steel foi the protection of the pas- 
sengers. Major North, with his Pawnee 
scouts, and the Crows, with an hereditary en- 
mity for the Sioux, were valuable assets to the 
while in subduing the Indian troubles north 
of the North I Made river. 



Rivalry Between Towns 

Kearney's ambition to compete with Sidney 
and Cheyenne for the Black Hills' business 
resulted in the establishment of a road, stage 
line and pony express through the sand hills 
north into Dakota. This line crossed the Nio- 
brara river at the Newman ranch near the 
mouth of Antelope creek. It was a longer and 




Overland Mail on the "Old Trails" Route por 
San Francisco 



more dangerous line. Charles Fordyce, one 
of the pony express riders, was killed by In- 
dians a little north of that station. 

In 1877, a white man who had been selling 
or trying to sell trees in the Hills drove into 
the Newman station. It was snowing and 
the Newman outfit tried to persuade him to 
stay until the storm was over but he pressed 
on. Later appeared an advertisement asking 




Pony Express and Overland Mail Of 
Fort Kearney 



the whereabouts of a tree man, saying last 
seen on Cheyenne river traveling south. The 
following spring Hunter & Evans outfit found 
him. Fie had perished in the snow. 

The Kearney route was given up about Janu- 
ary, 1878, and the route through Sidney be- 
came the main traveled one to the gold fields. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



171 



Idians Attack Surveyors 

Indians were hostile to all white advances, 
especially to surveyors and when I. W. La- 
Munyon was surveying on Pumpkin creek in 
1872, a detachment of soldiers were sent to 
guard the surveying party. There had been 
no sign of Indians and one day the soldiers 
rode out a considerable distance from the 
surveyors at work and the camp. The Indians 
then seemed to rise out of the prairie and the 
surveyors "dug in" making a hole about eight 
feet square into which they put the provisions 
and water, then crawled in themselves. The 
Indians circled about on ponies, swinging over 
their sides and shooting under the animals 
necks; but the soldiers heard the firing, re- 
turned in haste, and the Indians fled. No one 
was hurt although a number of Indian ponies 
were shot by the surveyors. 

First Newspapers 
The Sidney Telegraph came into existence 



in May, 1873, and in 1874 was published by 
Joseph B. Gossage. George G. Darrow join- 
ed the force in the spring of 1875. Darrow 
later went to Denver and Gossage to the Black 
Hills, and in 1920, was publishing the Journal 
at Rapid City, South Dakota. The Telegraph 
was not only the first newspaper published in 
Cheyenne county, but first in the Nebraska 
Panhandle. 

Toll Bridge axd Death Toll 

When Plenry T. Clarke decided to build a 
toll bridge across the North Platte river at 
"Camp Clarke," he sent a number of choppers 
into the Pumpkin creek hills to cut suitable 
logs for the piles and necessary timbers for 
the bridge. It was dangerous work as is testi- 
fied by the killing of a man named Brocklay, 
and later Webber, in 1876, near the Tusler 
ranch, by Indians. The bridge was built, how- 
ever, and was used by the people passing north 
and south. 



CHAPTER II 



SIDNEY'S WILDEST DAYS 



Sidney had by this time become a boiling 
caldron of humanity, some serious and hur- 
ried, others serene, methodical and unruffled, 
all with the one object, gold. The town was 
wide open, and day and night business houses, 
saloons, dance halls and theatres were thronged 
with people. It has been claimed that Sidney 
introduced to the world, the all-night theatre, 
with continuous performances. 

The Telegraph of 1876 refers to the float- 
ing population as "freighters, teamsters, herd- 
ers, 'cowboys,' Mexicans, half-breeds, gambl- 
ers, and 'Nymphs du pave.' " The name "cow- 
boy" was apparently just coming into use. In 
subsequent years the term "herdsman" was 
made to apply only to those who attended 
flocks of sheep. 

The character of Sidney's Wildest Days, be- 
fore the vigilantes hung Reed, and partially 
subdued the town, was such that the Union 
Pacific railroad issued orders refusing to al- 
low through passengers to get off their trains 
at the station. This came as a result of com- 
plaints of tourists, who were held up or mis- 
treated on the station platform. The men com- 



mitting these offenses were "Three-finger 
Jack," "Hold-'em-up Johnny" and others of 
their kind. Jack made a tactical blunder in 
a storm and held up a citizen of the town, fol- 
lowing which he and some of the worst citi- 
zens "dusted," as a result of public sentiment. 
A number of incidents, some tragic, and 
others nearly so, and some of boisterous hum- 
or, are here chronicled, which indicate the life 
of the time and place with historic accuracy. 

"Squire" Newman's Narrow Kscape 

All kinds of life had its zest because of the 
danger involved. Henry Newman had been 
elected Justice of the Peace, and thereby was 
called "Squire" or "Jedge" as occasion prompt- 
ed, but that is not the story. 

There were several men engaged in the 
work of capturing wild horses, and breaking 
them for domestic uses. Murshied and Pa- 
shon, two of the old-timers, had roped a wild 
horse near Callahan & Murshied's ranch, and 
had him in a corral. A number were looking 
him over, this being an especially fine animal, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



but of the fighting kind. Newman was nearby 
in the corral on a horse when the wild animal 
attacked him, knocking horse and rider down. 
It then reared, and was on the point of setting 
his forefeet down on the prostrate man and 
stamping him to death, when R. S. Van Tassell 
seized the rope which was trailing from the 
wild horse's neck, and '"set on it," swerving it 
from its objective by a few feet. Quick ac- 
tion saved a tragedy. 

The Schaefer Massacre 

One of the tragedies of the period occurred 
in 1878. The Schaefer family came from 
Plattsmouth and went to work at Tusler's 
ranch. The man was employed as cook at 
the mess house, while the family resided in 




\\ Old "Prairie Schooner" 

an independent house near the other ranch 
building. When Lone Wolf's band went on 
a rampage, part of them journeyed near here. 
The incorrigible Sioux passed on, but when 
they passed this man, his wife, and three chil- 
dren were no more. 

Three Die at a Dance 

About the time of Sidney's last lynching 
episode, that of McDonald'in 1881.' fright- 
ful orgies were common at a road house some 
dist iiiii' north of town, at one of the spring 
creeks leading down to the Platte river. One 
night, a dance and carouse was going full 
'•win- when a soldier accidentally shot himself 
dead. The others deposited the body in a 
corner of the room and ordered the music to 
proceed. After a time a fellow named Jack 
Page and another had a little altercation, Jack's 
adversary, dead, was placed into the corner 
villi the soldier, and the dance went wildly on. 

Later in the night a third man was killed, 
and ibis broke up the dance. The lights were 
shol -in Daylight found some sleeping off 



their drunken stupor and others gone. The 
three dead were taken to Boot Hill Graveyard. 

Killing of Wild Bill 

Forty hours after the killing of Wild Bill 
(W. J. Hickok) by John McCall, at Dead- 
wood, which event occurred in a gambling 
joint, August 2, 1876, the news reached Sid- 
ney. It created a profound sensation that a 
thoroughly established king of gunmen should 
be taken off by a mere kid. 

A hastily selected jury heard the boy's story 
that Wild Bill had killed his brother in Kansas 
the year before. He was found "not guilty," 
according to the code of the times, but was 
told to get out of the Black Hills. Before the 
event, Wild Bill had heard that a kid was 
looking for him, and he had said, "a kid look- 
ing for me, is the only kind I am afraid of : he 
may get me." 

A Yellow Affair 

Appearing in the Telegraph of August 4, 
1S77, was the following notice, affording a 
basis for some range of the imagination: 

"Calamity Jane No. 2 has arrived from 
the Black Hills. She received promotion on 
the road as assistant wagon boss. She be- 
came so powerful as to lead to the discharge of 
a number of hands. She has now gone west 
with a bull-whacker to learn the trade. Her 
husband is not a violent mourner. She is a 
stubby customer, American, and cus-sed. If 
she has any conscience, she took it with her, 
and if she had any virtue, her husband didn't 
know it. Her child is now in good hands, and 
the painter is happy. 

Evidently the painter was unhappy, and took 
an unkindly departing shot at his neglectful 
spouse. According to codes then prevalent, 
either the Black Hills wagon boss or the 
painter would have tarried permanently some- 
where beside the Trail. One or the other failed 
to measure up to the standard required by the 
red-blooded men of the period. True, it was 
probably better thus, for none of them was 
the worse, and the "child is now in good 
hands." which is an objective worthy a tem- 
pi irary humanity. 

The Pinkston Murder 

James and A. J. Pinkston, father and son, 
located on Middle creek in 1885, and em- 
ployed a man named Reynolds to help build 
a log house. They lived in a tent meanwhile, 
and cooked and ate their meals in the open, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



having an improvised table in front of the 
tent. 

On the night of September 16, from the 
story toldy over a very trifling affair, the 
Pinkstons were killed and Reynolds later hung. 

According to Reynold's story it started at 
the supper table over a difference of five dol- 
lars in wages, whether the amount due was 
seven dollars or twelve dollars. He said the 
Pinkstons attacked him with clubs and he 
used the axe in self defense. 

His first story, however, told at Trognitz 
barn, which then occupied the present site of 
tht U. S. A. Theatre at Sidney, was that a 
stranger came along, and killed the Pinkstons 
in a fight, and had compelled him to help 
bury them. This story not being satisfactory 
to the officers, he was arrested, and later con- 
fessed. 

Of the numerous hangings in Cheyenne- 
county, this was conspicuously the only legal 
execution within its borders. 

An Imaginary Calf 

It must not be understood that the recita- 
tion of these gruesome and sorrowful events 
indicates all the early history of Sidney and 
Cheyenne county were of such color. There 
were lively affairs that possessed only suffi- 
cient danger to quicken the pulses, and a modi- 
cum of humor to justify the hazard. 

There were attempts by swindlers and 
crooks that sometimes went well, but generally 
ended in disaster. 

There were "Happy Jacks," carefree as the 
western wind, always with ingenious methods 
evolved of necessity, when an unlucky chance 
stripped them of all they possessed. Never 
discouraged by adverse circumstances, for the 
darkness of the night meant to them the sun 
was soon to rise. "Whitie" was one of these 
genial souls. 

"Whitie" had a run of luck that put him 
"down upon his uppers," and conceived a 
scheme for a moderate stake. He invented a 
calf and valued it at ten dollars. He told 
three companies he had such a calf, and if they 
would give him two and a half dollars each, 
he would sit in a game of "freezeout" to see 
who should own the calf. They "fell for it," 
and a local man won. Then it was played for 
again and another won. A dozen times that 
night the imaginary calf changed hands. This 
calf was introduced into Sidney in 1876 ; in 
1879 men were still playing for it, always at 
a value of ten dollars ; and no one ever saw 
the calf. 



The Lockwood House Gang 

Dropping off of the Black Hills travel, due 
to railroad extension, emptied some of the 
hotels in Sidney, the Lockwood House being 
one. This was rented to Wm. Godfrey, his wife 
and another man. They were a trio of crude 
swindlers with a unique scheme. They selected 
the names of several hundred people in all parts 
of the United States, and wrote letters on 
"Lockwood House" stationery, of similar im- 
port to each. These were to the effect that 
someone had died in the hotel owing a little 
bill. Upon examination of his effects they were 
led to the opinion that the deceased was a rela- 
tive of the one addressed, that the deceased had 
left some personal effects ranging in value from 
six hundred to one thousand dollars, and con- 
sisting of bank deposit slips, diamond rings 
and watches. 

The letter continued that the hotel had given 
the body a decent burial, which cost with 
the hotel bill, care, and the like, amounted to 
one hundred, eight dollars or an approxi- 
mate sum. If the addressed cared to send 
this amount, the effects would be sent to them ; 
otherwise they would be sold to pay the bill. 
They reasoned that the recipients of the let- 
ters would send the money to get the goods, 
even though not expecting any legacy, and 
not having any relation, who would likely be 
in Sidney to die. They were not mistaken in 
the weakness of their fellow men. The money 
came by check, draft and money order. 

After they had accumulated about forty 
thousand dollars. Postmaster Fred Clary be- 
came suspicious and reported the facts so far 
as he knew them to the Federal authorities. The 
trio were arrested, and Judge Dundy sentenced 
them to Federal prison. The woman broke 
down and died in Sidney Jail, the others being 
taken to Leavenworth. 

Clary, who came to Sidney as a telegraph 
operator, served a term as postmaster and then 
returned to the Western LInion. He is now 
general superintendent of the eastern district. 

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing 

Reverend Benton, a Methodist minister, came 
to Kimball about 1890, and satisfied people 
there and at Sidney with his credentials. 

Shortly after the Morgan & Johnson bank 
blew up and Morgan committed suicide, Benton 
tried to cash an eight thousand dollar draft at 
Cheyenne. He wanted three thousand cash im- 
mediately, and would leave the other five thou- 
sand on deposit. There was little cash available 



174 



HISTORY < >F WESTERN NEBRASKA 



and the bank did not accept the proffer. Henry 
St. Rayner and Mr. Donaldson, were at Chey- 
enne at the time, and when they returned to 
Sidney, told the local bankers of "the preacher 
with the eight thousand dollar draft." As ex- 
pected, Benton came to Sidney, this time willing 
to take two thousand dollars in cash. 

L. W. Bickel, banker at Kimball, had loaned 
Benton twenty-five dollars, and said he guessed 
he had "kissed it good by," when he learned 
that Benton was peddling a big draft. He told 
Officer Trognitz to get the twenty-five if he 
could. 

Benton was stopping with a Methodist 
brother named Whitney, although leaving his 
bag at a hotel. Trognitz got a warrant and 
searched the bag, finding it contained old 
clothes, a characteristic tramp's outfit. Then 
he arrested Benton at the Whitney home. The 
good people could hardly believe Benton was 
really a bad character. However, Trognitz 
found four of the Bickel five dollar bills in the 
end of his spectacle case, and some silver in 
his pockets. 

The papers headlined a story of "cowboy 
Sheriff arrests a preacher." Two days later 
Cashier Stone of Sioux City Savings Bank, ar- 
rived and identified Benton, as a swindler 
named Simpson. His method was to get part 
cash on a large draft, drop his c!ergyman"s at- 
tire, and don the garb of a tramp until well 
out of the community. He was also wanted at 
Central City. Sheriff Trognitz received one 
thousand dollars reward. 

First Celebration of the Fourth 

The first Fourth of July celebration held at 
Sidney in 1877, was at the same time the first 
event of the kind held in the Panhandle of Ne- 
braska. An extensive and interesting story of 
this affair, which lacked the hampering espio- 
nage customary in older communities, is told 
by the Sidney Telegraph of July 7, 1877. 
American humor was a part and parcel of the 
young west, as evidenced by high lights of the 
narrative. 

"The National salute of one hundred and 
one guns was fired by Sidney's battery at sun- 
rise. Let it be stated, for once, that more than 
a hundred shots were fired in Sidney without 
in a< ' ident." 

"Fitzpatrick was ruled out of the greased- 
pole climbing contest because of his great 
length. He was too near the top of the "pole 
:ii the start." 

"C K. Allen came within an ace of plucking 

immon, but just as he was reaching 

for the nugget, when as luck would have it, 



some buttons attaching his suspenders to his 
trousers in the rear, gave way, and Mr. Allen 
retired as gracefully as the circumstances 
would permit." 

"Smithy played a 'stopless' organ, and for 
aught we know he is playing it still." 

There was a greased pig, cortests of all 
sorts, and a race between "bulls" and "mules" 
attached to freight wagons. "A lot of money 
changed hands on this affair, for the 'bulls' 
won by ten feet." 

The Affair at Zobel's 

In 1877, John Zobel ran a restaurant with a 
bar on the west side of Rose street. It was 
typical of the time and usually full of custom- 
ers. 

A friend of the Oberfelders from New York 
had come to Sidney, and Bob, while showing 
him around, dropped in Zobel's place. At one 
table sat three distinguished characters ; Hank 
Clifford, from the Stage station on the Nio- 
brara river ; Ben Tibbets, beef killer and squaw- 
man from Red Cloud agency, and "Arkansas 
John" Wyseckler. Their bibulous feast had 
reached a stage of mellowness where they were 
shampooing one another with tomato ketchup. 
One of them reached for the pepper sauce bot- 
tle, and Bob and his guest "beat it." 

One of the celebrating three let out a yell 
like a Sioux Indian, and the shooting began. 
When the smoke cleared, all the lights were 
out of commission, and the front of the build- 
ing was a total wreck. No one was killed. 

Cattle Rustlers 

In the few years of change, where ranges 
gave way to grangers, cattle rustling became 
common. Early in this period, Doc Middleton 
committed the offense of killing two dissolute 
soldiers, and thereby became an outlaw. Con- 
temporaneously others made it a business, us- 
ing the settler as a "Smoke screen." As often 
as possible they made the granger an accom- 
plice, giving him meat for domestic needs, 
which needs were frequently sufficient. Occa- 
sionally cowboys and near cowboys became cat- 
tle detectives, and sometimes outside detectives 
were empolyed. 

Jack Crittendon's services were presumed to 
be on the side of cattlemen, but he evidently 
"played both ends." When Tom Kane was 
preparing some cases against offenders of 
cowmen's ethics, Jack became alarmed that he 
might not be on the winning side. He sought 
Kane to give assurance of his dependability. 
Kane was busy making out some papers and 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



told Jack to wait, but being nervous and ex- 
cited he would occasionally interrupt with "I 
can swear to" this or that. Kane told him to 
wait "until 1 finish this," and he continued, 
"then 1 will tell you what you have got to 
swear to." A faithful chronicle of the event 
is that Jack waited. 

The people on lower Pumpkin creek were 
disturbed during this period by the arrest of 
Lee Nunn by Detective Talbert. Talbert ap- 
parently decided to join in homing making, and 
as brought out at Nunn's trial, he made the 
suggestion and induced Nunn to' join him in 
killing a range beef. There was no dispute as 
to fact, but the question of the value would 
settle the sentence, whether a fine or the peni- 
tentiary. Talbert was the expert witness for 
the cattlemen who wanted the accused "sent 
over the road." Judge Isaac Woolf, tangled 
the detective's testimony, who in fact, was not 
an expert, but Woolf was. To the general sat- 
isfaction of grangers, Nunn was released. 

Bonanza Days 

The bonanza days and big profits in Sidney 
occurred during the Black Hills rush. Then 
Colt's revolvers sold for forty dollars and 
everything else in proportion. Freighters who 
figured loads at two tons per mule or ox, cursed 
picks and shovels as "bulky freight." There 
was not room on a wagon to put the customary 
ten tons. Two wagons trailing behind ten 
mules were supposed to carry twenty tons — two 
tons to the mule. 

Back to Normal 

The lean years of the early nineties, broke 
many cattlemen, and the grangers were "not 
yet upon their feet." Intense privation and 
heart-aches covered the broad acres of Chey- 
enne county. The prices of merchandise drop- 
ped very low in Sidney and elsewhere. Bril- 
liant financiers and politicians call it back to 
normal, and helpless mortals echo the apology 



for the crime of financial depression, from time 
to time. 

The New Order 

Raising of wheat has changed the business 
of the county which has been settled by far- 
mers and small ranchers and Cheyenne county 
is today one of the productive areas of the 
state. 

Sidney now has twenty-eight wholesale dis- 
tribution branches of farm machinery and the 
like. The city also contains some hundred and 
twenty-five business houses which handle all 
kinds of merchandise, including the stocks of 
autos, trucks, tractors, and all sorts of imple- 
ments required by the farmer. Her stone quar- 
ries and gravel pits have been used extensively 
in local building and these products are shipped 
into other parts of the state. While wheat and 
cattle stand out as the great resources of Chey- 
enne county, her other agricultural products 
are many and valuable. 

At the present time interest is taken in the 
Lodgepole valley in oil and natural gas. A de- 
formation, or structure points to oil land, and 
an old surveyor's report shows oil seeps east of 
Sidney but up to the present no well has been 
brought in. 

United States Land Office 

The United States Land Office was estab- 
lished in Sidney in July, 1887, with the first 
officers as follows: John M. Adams, register 
and G. B. Blakely, receiver ; G. B. Blanchard, 
register and L. M. Neeves, receiver, succeeded 
them. They in turn were succeeded by John 
M. Adams, register and P. G. Griffith, receiver ; 
George W. Heist, register and R. D. Harris, 
receiver. Judge Heist died in office after which 
R. D. Harris was made register with Matt 
Daugherty receiver. R. D. Harris was reap- 
pointed register and J. L. Mcintosh receiver, 
following which these two officials reversed po- 
sitions which they held until the office was 
abandoned in March, 1906. 



176 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 

CHAPTER III 

ORGANIZATION OF CHEYENNE COUNTY 



Before Cheyenne county came into existence, 
the western part of Nebraska was divided by 
an arbitrary act into counties. Two of these, 
Lyons and Taylor counties, and a part of Mon- 
roe county comprised the territory which in 
1867, was made into Cheyenne county. These 
counties had no organization and no govern- 
ment was needed. Between 1867 and 1870, 
Cheyenne county was attached to Lincoln coun- 
ty for all revenue, administrative and judicial 
purposes. In 1870, Thomas Kane went to Lin- 
coln, the state capital, to prevail upon Governor 
David Butler, to call an election for choosing 
officers for Cheyenne county, which was done 
by a proclamation in August, 1870. The fol- 
lowing officers were chosen: Thomas Kane, 
treasurer; John Ellis, sheriff; C. A. Moore, 
Fred Glover, and H. L. Ellsworth, commis- 
sioners, and H. A. Dygart, clerk. The latter 
served but a short time and D. A. Martin was 
appointed to succeed him. October 8, 1871, 
occurred the first regular general election in 
the county when the following officials were 
elected: "George W. Heist, probate judge; 
George C. Cooke, sheriff; L. Connell, clerk; 
James H. Moore, treasurer; D. Cowigan, com- 
missioner, but he resigned. George Cooke was 
removed and John Ellis was appointed in his 
place. George Heist refused to qualify but 
was later appointed and did qualify. James 
Moore's bond was not acceptable and Thomas 
Kane was appointed and qualified. The com- 
missioners elected were : Henry Newman and 
Joseph Cleburne. The coroner was P. Bailey, 
who refused to qualify. The superintendent of 
schools was George R. Ballou ; county survey- 
or, John Griffin, who refused to qualify; while 
the justices of the peace were Thomas Kane 
and Frederick Glover. 

The early records of the county are very 
meagre. Some of the early officers performed 
very little service. Salaries were small, some 
officers serving without any recompense. The 
offices were not as attractive as they are now 
and not sought. A list of the officers of the 
county down to 1918, follows: 1872, the com- 
missioners were Henry Newman, and Joseph 
Cleburne; Judge, G. W. Heist; sheriff, J. J. 
Ellis; coroner. P, Bailey (refused to qualify) ; 
treasurer, Thomas Kane; superintendent of 
schools, George R. Ballou; surveyor, John 
Griffin i refused to qualify): Justice of the 
Peace, Thomas Kane and Frederick Glover. 
] time the Cheyenne county judges 



have been as follows : D. Carrigan, George 
Darrow, C. D. Essig, Julius Neubauer, A. 
Pease, Robert Shuman, Leroy Martin, F. H. 
DeCastro, A. A. Ricker, M. J. Saunders, James 
Tucker, Henry E. Gapen and C. P. Chambers. 
Succeeding Moore, Glover, Ellsworth, New- 
man and Cleburne, commissioners serving have 
been as follows : J. J. Mcintosh, H. V. Red- 
ington, James Callahan, Henry Newman, R. S. 
Van Tassel, Henry Tusler, J. F. Simpson, A. 
J. Walrath, Henry Snyder, J. W. Haas, T. H. 
Lawrence, Moritz Urbach, John Snodgrass, J. 
B. Stetson, August Newman, Frank L. Smith, 
Morris Davis, P. C. Johnson, A. H. Frame, E. 
S. Crigler, J. W. Vanderhoof, A. W. Atkins, 
W. R. Wood, J. W. Harper, Frank A. Rowan, 
Fred Lindburg, Robert Emanuelson, W. C. 
Dugger, Jerome B. Haiston, Louis R. Bareaw, 
J. B. Haiston, Lewis Brott, L. R. Barlow, 
Frank X. Rihn, N. H. Troelstoup, W'illiam 
Codings and J. L. Reed. 

County Treasurers 

A complete roster of the county officers has 
been hard to obtain. Some of the offices have 
been created since the organization of the 
county but the persons who have been trusted 
with the public funds are as follows : Thomas 
Kane. Henry Snyder, C. K. Allen, Carl E. 
Borgquist, James Sutherland. C. D. Essig, 
Adam Ickes, James L. Mcintosh, A. Pease, 
Fred Lehmkuhl, A. K. Greenlee, J. S. Hagerty, 
W. R. Wood, Simon Fishman, Mabel Lan- 
caster. The latter is the first woman to occu- 
py this important position, and regrets have 
been expressed that her efficiency cannot be 
rewarded by more than two terms under the 
statute. 

County Clerks 

II. A. Dygart was the first clerk to serve in 
the county, being named by the governor's 
proclamation in August, 1870. He has been 
followed by L. Connell, C. K. Allen, J. J. 
Mcintosh, L. B. Cary. Dan McAleese. C. J. 
Osborn, William C. Bullock, Tames Burns, 
Robert E. Barrett, Henry T. Doran, F. N. 
Slawson, who splendidly assisted in the com- 
pilation of this data. 

G irxrv Superintendents 

The office of superintendent of public in- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



177 



struction dates from the organization of the 
county and first election October 8, 1872. The 
first superintendent was George R. Ballou, be- 
ing succeeded in September, 1874, by I_. Jen- 
kins, then in 1875, by L. H. Bordwell. Since 
that time the following men have filled that 
office: Daniel Hirlihy, E. M. Day, Joseph 
Oberfelder, Leslie Stevens, Mrs. Julia Shelton, 
Mrs. E. O. Lee, Mattie McGee, C. P. Cham- 
bers, Otis D. Lyon, Mrs. A. B. Knox, Minnie 
E. Chase, William Ritchie, Jr., Edith H. Mor- 
rison, and Anna McFadden. The records of 
the superintendent's office, and Mrs. McFadden 
assisted excellently in this work. 

Other County Officers 

J. J. Ellis was the first sheriff of Cheyenne 
county ; he was first appointed, then elected 
October 8, 1872, being followed in office by C. 
McCarty, John Zweilfel, F. R. Curran, Robert 




(Xn Court, Sheriff's Residence 

C. Howard, S. O. Fowler. W. T. Eubank, 
Charles Trognitz, John Daugherty. Daniel Mc- 
Aleese, Frank King, S. H. Babb, J. W. Lee, J. 
W. McDaniel, Adam D. Waggy, and then J. 
W. McDaniel, the present incumbent, returned 
to duty. 

In 1873, precincts for the first time took on 
importance and elected officers and from this 
time have continued to elect the necessary offi- 
cers from time to time. 

The first county surveyor was elected in 
1872, being John Griffin who refused to qual- 
ify; Joseph Callihan was elected in 1873, and 
refused to qualify, since which time the sur- 
veyors elected have served. The first coroner 
was P. Bailey, who refused to qualify and was 
followed the next year by George Williams who 
also refused to qualify, but since that time the 
men elected have generally served. 

In 1881. occurs the first mention of a county 
attorney, when V. Bierbower's name is given 
at the returns of the November elections. He 
has been followed by W. C. Reilly, E. O. Lee, 



William P. Miles, Henry Gapen, Mark Span- 
ogle, Henry Gapen, Lerov Martin, Robert W. 
Devoe, C. S. Radcliffe. 

Judicial 

William Gaslin, Jr., was the first district 
judge to sit in Sidney and Cheyenne county, 
and was the man who made much of western 
Nebraska bow to the law. He served from 
1876 to 1880. Samuel Savage next sat upon 
the bench but his were not the years of stress 
that preceded or followed as he held office 
from 1880 to 1884. 

From 1884 to 1888, Francis G. Hamer, after- 
wards a member of the Nebraska supreme 
court, served in this district. His record is 
written in the hearts of the people whose homes 
he saved by delay of process of law in the in- 
terests of justice. In the end everyone was 
served well. 

From 1888 to 1892, A. H. Church was the 
judge presiding in the western end of the tenth 
district of Nebraska. Conditions in this sec- 
tion of the state were changing and he had dif- 
ficulty in meeting the many new demands. 

William Neville, one of the best and most 
able judges that ever sat on a bench, presided 
over the destinies of Cheyenne county and 
those counties afterward carved from old Chey- 
enne, from 1892 to 1896. He then went to 
Congress. 

For fifteen years H. M. Grimes sat in this 
district, which was divided about ten years ago. 

By the creation of the new district, R. W. 
Hobart was appointed and took over the 
northern counties that had been carved from 
Cheyenne. Judge Grimes still presides when 
court meets in Cheyenne, Deuel, or Kimball 
counties. He starts now upon his twenty-fifth 
year as judge of the district in which Cheyenne 
county is located, which is evidence of a satis- 
fied people. 

From 1868 to 1885, the statutes provided for 
the election of district attorneys. During those 
years one name stands alone to the credit of 
the Panhandle of Nebraska, that of Vic Bier- 
bower, of Sidney, who was elected in 1S80 and 
served one term. 

Cheyenne County Court House No. 1 

The present Cheyenne County Court House, 
is of Doric simplicity and is a constant source 
of pleasure to the eye and satisfaction to 
the people. It is a little more than a decade 
old, as $50,000 worth of bonds were voted for 
the erection of a court house March 21, 1911. 
On April 15, of the same year the contract 



178 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



for the new structure was let to C. F. Good- 
hand of Ord. 

The 'building is sixty by eighty-four feet, 
exclusive of the portico and is built of white 
stone. The interior is finished in oak where 
wood is used and the walls are natural sand 
finish. The main entrance and rotunda are 
tiled. The stairway is of steel and slate with 
banisters of steel and brass. There are three 
full stories including the basement which is 
light and airy and contains the jail, the fur- 
nace room, and two convenient rest rooms for 
the public. 



eel with it is an office for the judge. On this 
floor are jury rooms, counsel chambers and the 
caretaker's apartments. The old county build- 
ings were sold and wrecked when the new court 
house was placed in use so the grounds today 
are beautifully laid out in lawns, making the 
court house yard a real park for Sidney. 
Section Homestead Bill Goes Into Effect 
As a result of the Congressional measure 
known as the Section Homestead Bill, passed 
in 1S94, more than two million acres of land 
were thrown open to homesteaders under pro- 
vision by which an entryman was entitled to 




ClIEYF.XXK Coixty Court House. Sir 



The rest room in the northwest corner of 
the basement, maintained by the Women's 
Club, is cozy, comfortable and convenient and 
is free to all the women of the county. The 
rest room for men practically duplicates this. 
A fine heating plant is in the basement so that 
every part of the building is well heated and 
also well lighted with electricity. All the 
county offices an- located on the first floor and 
are equipped with every convenience includ- 
ing vaults for the records and county treas- 
urer's papers. The offices include those of 
thi il-il. superintendent, assessor, commiss- 
ioners, surveyor and county judge, which 
includes an office and court room. The third 
floor or second story houses the district court 
ii h i- large and convenient. Connect- 



six hundred and forty acres, and to such home- 
steaders under the old law, who had vacant 
lands adjoining, they could increase their acre- 
age to a section. A thirty day preference was 
allowed in which to make filing. All the rest 
was open to the entrymen first coming. This 
caused a land rush into western Nebraska as 
hundreds of people wanted to make entries un- 
der the new law, Sidney displayed considerable 
activity some days prior to June 28, when the 
homestead law took effect. Many new set- 
tlers thus came into Cheyenne county who be- 
came permanent residents and aided in the 
further settlement of this section. The en- 
larged homestead was first introduced by Con- 
gressman Wm. Neville for two sections, the 
fruitful suggestion of Judge Homer Sullivan 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



179 



of Broken Bow. Congressman M. P. Kincaid, 
followed and reduced the acreage to one sec- 
tion. The law was then confined to Nebraska, 
but now includes all the western states. 

Cheyenne; County Schools 

District No. 1, was organized in 1871, with 
C. E. Borgquist, moderator; D. Carrigan, di- 
rector, and Joseph Cleburne, treasurer. It 
included Cheyenne county as it then existed, 
and unorganized Sioux county which then 
extended eastward to the present line of Holt 
county. In a period of less than fifty years 
twenty-three counties have been formed in this 
first school district, which originally included 
all northwestern Nebraska. 

The first teacher in this district was Irene 
Sherwood, who taught the school of twelve 
pupils at her home in Sidney, during the win- 
ter of 1871-1872. Ten years later there 
were four school districts in all this territory, 
located at Sidney, Big Springs, Antelopeville 
(now Kimball) and Lodgepole. Sidney re- 
ported one hundred and fifty pupils with a 
two room school. J. M. Brenton was prin- 
cipal and Mrs. N. L. Shelton, assistant. 

By 1884, nine districts lined the Union Pa- 
cific Railroad from Big Springs to Cheyenne 
and one district had been created in the still 
unorganized territory of Sioux county, near 
Fort Robinson on White river. Miss Mary 
Delahunty was the teacher, and Daniel Klein, 
director. The next year two more districts 
were organized in Cheyenne county ; one on 
Pumpkin creek and the other on the North 
Platte river. Districts Nos. 2 and 3 were organ- 
ized in Sioux county with John Tucker and 
W. V. Pennington directors of the two dis- 
tricts, in the order named. 

There seems to have been no county super- 
intendent in Cheyenne county until January, 
1871, when George Ballou assumed the duties 
of that office. He was the first county super- 
intendent of a territory covering nearly a 
third of the state. On the first Saturday in 
February, 1873, he held the first teacher's ex- 
amination at which Rose C. Michael and Mrs. 
L. M. Ballou were the only applicants and 
were granted certificates numbered one and 
two. School moneys available were appro- 
priated for the use of district No. 1, there 
being only the one district. The board of di- 
rectors then consisted of Thomas Kane, 
George W. Heist and John Ellis. 

L. Jenkins, the second superintendent, was 
elected September 1, 1874. and granted a sec- 
cond grade certificate to Miss Mollie A. Press- 
ley, for one year. All moneys again went to 



the first district. On September 14, 1875, a 
second grade certificate was granted to Miss 
Delia A. Sharpless, and district No. 1 had all 
the school funds. February 19, 1878, County 
Superintendent L. H. Bordwell created dis- 
trict No. 2, at Big Springs and sent notice of 
its organization to John McCann. Election 
was held February 26, 1878, to elect school 
officers who were as follows : G. W. Banhart. 
moderator; R. A. J. Walrath, director; a man 
named Green was treasurer, but the district 
was abandoned as no school was held. On 
August 4, 1879. a petition for reorganization 
of district No. 2, was filed and asked that the 
following officers be named : R. J. Coerdon, 
moderator; E. W. Ormsby, director; A. J. 
Walrath, treasurer. No. 2 district was cre- 
ated by E. M. Day, superintendent, who had 
been appointed to fill a vacancy July 8, 1879. 

District No. 3. at Antelopeville, now Kim- 
ball, was created August 8, 1879, with J. J. 
Kinney, moderator; John J. Mcintosh, direc- 
tor and William Gaw, treasurer. There was 
a contest of "School" and "No School," and it 
would seem that the "No School" faction had 
the best of it and had its board appointed. 
The first election overturned this and, in 1S80, 
Thomas B. Evans, to which "taxable inhabi- 
tant" the notice of the district's organization 
had been sent, and James Lynch and Walter 
Derrig were elected members of the school 
board. 

The first school was held in a building made 
of railroad ties set on end, and had a dirt 
roof and dirt floor. Soon afterward a frame 
building was bought ; it had formerly been 
used by J. J. Mcintosh as a saloon. This 
served until the school grew and required more 
room and better quarters, which were pro- 
vided. The old frame structure was sold to 
the Swedish Lutheran church and in 1920, was 
still used for church purposes though remodel- 
ed and with additions. 

District No. 4, was organized at Lodgepole, 
August 19, 1879, by E. M. Day. county super- 
intendent. H. Barrett, was moderator ; A. C. 
Drake, director ; and James Green, treasurer. 

S. V. Livingston became county superin- 
tepdent in 1880, and no new districts were 
formed while he was in office. Only six cer- 
tificates were issued during his term. 

Jos. Oberfelder was then elected superinten- 
dent, and assumed office in 1882. Eleven cer- 
tificates were issued by him, and district No. 
5, at Potter, came into existence September S, 
1883, when John O'Leary was selected as mod- 
erator ; James Evans, director ; and Adam Gun- 
derson, treasurer. 

Leslie Stevens, who served as superintendent 



180 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



after 1884, discontinued the record of ser- 
tificates issued, except for the entry of the 
number, names and address. 

District No. 6, at Bushnell, was organized 
September 26, 1884. with A. Tracy, Walter 
Derrig and S. A. Pierce the members of the 
board. .March 7, 1885. district No. 7, was 
formed at Chappell, with Messrs. Johnson, 
Newman and McLoskey making up the board. 
Districts Nos. 8 and 9, were "formed on the 
railroad at Bronson and Colton. District No. 
10, the first organized away from the railroad, 
in Cheyenne county, was on Pumpkin creek 
at the old Wright ranch, while Leslie Stevens 
was superintendent. It came into existence in 
March, 1885, and the district comprised prac- 
tically all the territory now embraced in Ban- 
ner county, and all south of the North Platte 
river in the present Scotts Bluff county. The 
taxable property consisted of some railroad 
land and ranch cattle. 

Lora Sirpless was the first teacher; Tohn 
Wright was director, and. in 1887 L. D. Living- 
ston and Hugh Milhollin became members of 
the board. A local contest appeared here, and 
the following years Mrs. Ellen Streeks. S. B. 
Shumway and Jacob Keleton were elected to 
the school board. The first school house in 
the district was made of logs with dirt floor 
and roof, but. in 1887. a frame building about 
sixteen by tweney-four feet was erected and 
Clara Shumway was selected teacher in 1888. 
Camp Clark district, No. 11, was organized 
the same month as district 10, being the sec- 
ond away from the railroad. After this 
schools were organized thick and fast as the 
county was settling up and by the autumn of 
1888 there were a hundred and thirty-two dis- 
tricts in Cheyenne county. Julia Shelton was 
superintendent during this period of expansion. 
I he first district organized and holding school 
in the present Scotts Bluff county was at Ta- 
bor, now Minatare. in August, 1886. Basil 
Decker, Theodore Harshman and Wellington 
Clark constituted the board. Horseshoe Bend 
had the first school in the North Platte val- 
ley. It was held in an old claim shack, with 
Gertrude Ashford as teacher. The district 
was organized March 7. 1886, with George 
Williams as director. Cheyenne county has 
since been divided and retains only a small part 
oi it- original territory but the schools have 
maintained a high standard of efficiency in 
tional work. 
'I'l'<- firsl school in unorganized territory 
later Sioux county, and now Sheridan county 
Wished by fas. i Iberfelder in 1882 It 
was located near Fori Robinson and Red Cloud 
Agency, and all the pupils NVL > re h a ]f i, reed 



Indians. There were forty-two of them, prin- 
cipally the children of Sioux women and white 
"squaw" men. We are told that the famous 
chief Red Cloud had descendants in this school. 
The children of Nick Janis and his Crow In- 
dian wife were among them. Mary Dela- 
hunty was the courageous teacher to go into 
this wilderness to teach. 




New High School, Sidney 

Cheyenne county as it now exists has sev- 
enty districts, which include several that are 
partly in Cheyenne, and partly in adjoining 
counties. According to the school census of 
1920, there are two thousand seven hundred 
and forty-eight pupils in the county, ranging 
in age from five to twenty-one years. There 
are four accredited city and town high schools 
as follows. Sidney, with twenty-three teach- 
ers ; Lodgepole, with nine ; Potter, with seven ; 
and 'Dalton with seven. There are consoli- 
dated schools at Sunol and Gurley, the first 
having five teachers and twelve grades, while 
Gurley has seven teachers and eleven grades. 




The rural schools, sixty-five in number do, 
not seem to be following the extreme consoli- 
dation plans of some other counties, it being 
the general opinion in Cheyenne county that 
schools of two or three rooms and a teacher's 
cottage are best. That teaching well all sub- 
jects up to the eighth and tenth grades meets 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the most demands with highest efficiency and 
economy in administration. 

There are four parochial schools in the coun- 
ty : The Catholic Academy at Sidney, and 
three others which are Lutheran : one at Sid- 
ney, one south of Sidney and the third at 
Gurley. Each of these three has but one 
teacher. There has been some friction to get 
them to qualify under the Simon law but not 
as much as in other counties. The main diffi- 
culty has been to get these schools to supply 
the required text books. Miss Anna McFad- 
den is the present superintendent of Chey- 
enne county, and takes much interest in her 
work. 

Municipal Enterprises 

Sidney possesses as good and cheap a water 
system as can be found in the state. The water 
is obtained from a well on the north side. 
This well goes down to second water and 
never lowers a foot. Its quality is of the pur- 
est. It is pumped to the reservoir on the hill 
and from there distributed to the town by a 
fall of a hundred and twenty feet. The reser- 
voir will hold a hundred and twenty-five thou- 
sand gallons. The system is owned by the 
city and was put in at a cost of $25,500. Con- 
sumers get a water rate that is very reasonable. 
A sewer system has been a badly needed in- 
novation and has improved sanitary conditions. 
This is also owned by the town. The lighting, 
heating and power plant, known as the Sidney 




Birdseye View, Sidney 

Electric Service Company, is maintained as 
a private enterprise and its functions are as 
indicated. The entire town receives the light 
and power if desiring to and the business sec- 
tion is furnished heat also. The service is ex- 
cellent in each branch. Rose street is lighted 
by electroliers. 

This plant has a contract for pumping the 
city water and furnishes lights for the rail- 
road yards and shops and power for the turn 
table. The Nebraska Telephone Company is 



located in the Cleburne Block and enjoys a 
large patronage. More than four hundred sub- 
scribers are served and have connections with 
about any place in the world. Four girls are 
busy throughout the twenty- four hours. 

Sidney has more than sixteen miles of ce- 
ment sidewalks, much of it twelve feet wide. 
These lead to all the better portions of the town 
town and take the pedestrian past houses that 
are a credit to any city. 

Fire protection is as yet quite adequate with 
two volunteer fire companies, the Citizens and 




the Railroad Boys. Fire plugs are placed at 
frequent intervals over the town, the water 
supply is unlimited and the pressure great. 
The town has been remarkably free from fires 
and to the rare cases the firemen have given 
the highest degree of service. They are with- 
out a suitable home and in conjunction with 
the Village Board are planning to build a city 
hall with a fire department. They already have 
a considerable fund toward that end. 

Railroad Importance 

As has been stated Sidney has railroads, the 
Burlington lying north and south and the 
Union Pacific traversing her length east and 
west. The; Burlington has four passenger 
trains a day and two local freight carrying pass- 
engers. The U. P. has a division at this point 
and employs upward of three hundred men. 
The payroll for the current months has amount- 
ed monthly to $15,000. The round house, car 
department and coal heavers received $5,800, 
monthly, while the roadmaster's office and the 
five sections within the county total $2,0^7.07. 
There are thirteen passenger trains on this 
road each day and at this point two local 
freights carrying passengers. An attractive 
depot of stone, steam-heated and with every 
convenience for travelers, is so exquisitely 
kept that strangers are often heard to remark 



182 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



upon its unusual neatness. The windows look 
out upon a pretty and well-kept park. 

In truth, the whole of the railroad property 
is so orderly and neat that the house-keepers 
could learn lessons by inspection of the build- 
ings and yards, where conditions are so ad- 
verse to neatness. It will be readily understood 
that the Union Pacific railroad is a large part 
of Sidney. 

First Irrigation in Western Nebraska 



The first irrigation in western Nebraska was 
in the Lodgepole valley, and was practiced by 
the soldiers under the command of General 
Dudley of Sidney in 1871. A dam was built 
across the creek and the waters thus impounded 
were used to irrigate the tracts of land alloted 
to the companies. Rivalry existed between the 
companies is growing the best gardens. Let 
it be known to the credit of this early tillage 
that the soldiers raised nice gardens, but the 
grasshoppers discouraged their efforts. The 
first produce was intended to supply two hun- 
dred and fifty enlisted men and their officers 
and finally ended in the addition of several hun- 



dred dollars worth of produce being sold in 
town. 

When the fort was abandoned in 1894, trees 
two or three feet in diameter were flourishing. 
After the valley was settled more densely, 
ditches were constructed until irrigation was 
practiced extensively along the borders of the 
entire creek. The dams averaged from three 
to ten feet in height and seventy-five to one 
hundred feet in length, and were located from 
a half to three-quarters of a mile apart along 
the course of the stream. The discharge of 
Lodgepole Creek is small in comparison with 
many other streams thus utilized in Nebraska. 
This is explained by the fact that the stream 
is fed from numerous springs along its en- 
tire course and also by the fact of the valley 
being from one to three miles in width. The 
irrigation of such land thus being very close 
proximity to the stream that water reappears 
promptly, after being spread over the border- 
ing land. It has been observed frequently that 
when all the flow was being diverted at one 
point the stream a half mile further down 
would flow again the same as if no water had 
been diverted above. 



CHAPTER IV 



LODGEPOLE 



The town of Lodgepole is the second oldest 
town in Cheyenne county. It had the first 
newspaper, the first bank, first business house, 
and first postoffice in the county outside of Sid- 
ney. School district No. 4 was located there, 
which is the second district organized within 
the present limits of the county. Its high 
character of morality, and its religious and edu- 
cational institutions appeal to people who are 
looking for a permanent abiding place. 

There are now resident there some excel- 
lent people who came and located when the 
cattlemen occupied the wide domain. They 
have adopted the newer standards of an own- 
ership of acreage, instead of the open range. 

There arc the first grangers also, who came 
and remained through the years of stress, a 
number of which are ye< residents after the 
lap e of a third of a century. Here was horn 
the first white boy in thai part of the county; 
Guy C. Newman. Here also is Col. V B. 
■ and his I tardscrabble ranch. Here 



two of the names that mean much to early his- 
tory of the region were recently united in mar- 
riage. Not the younger generation, but the 
principals who were in the drama of early 
years. A. B. Persinger. aforesaid, was a 
ranchman of the seventies, while Mrs. G. H. 
Jewett, the bride, was the widow of the first 
state senator from the Panhandle of Nebraska. 
He it was who built the first bridge across the 
South Platte river at Big Springs in the early 
eighties. 

At Lodgepole also is the veteran editor, J. 
V. Wolfe, who for so long, directed the des- 
tinies of the Express, recently retiring in favor 
of Claude Grisham, who is keeping a standard 
of excellence. This paper was established 
about 1884. 

Lodgepole also had to its credit one of the 
state's best members of the legislature in 1917- 
1919, and who in 1921 became regent of the 
State University, William L. Bates. 

Fred Lehmkuhl is another Lodgepole name 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



183 



that runs steadily through the progress of town, 
county, and community welfare, from the very 
beginning. J. R. Young is still another long 
familiar name, a pioneer in merchandising, and 
always forefront for the good of the town. 

F. H. Wolf, cashier of the Cheyenne County 
Bank, can tell you stories of forty years ago, 
when he and his brother Ed, were two of the 
four pupils attending the first school (a private 
school) held in the old wreck of a depot at 
Chappell where John O'Neil, the station 
master, gave him his first lesson. 

Lodgepole is located on the Union Pacific 
railroad near the east line of Cheyenne county. 
It is beautifully located, surrounded by many 



the main crop Lodgepole has prospered. Ir- 
rigation has led to the growing of potatoes 
and other produce which has given the sur- 
rounding country an impetus which is re- 
flected in the town. After its incorporation 
and the good years of plenty, sidewalks were 
laid. Miles of concrete walks were laid, and 
an electric light plant and water system were 
established that render excellent service and 
give Lodgepole a metropolitan aspect. The 
electric plant and water works are housed in 
the same building. Lodgepole has a modern 
school house of cut stone and it is rated one 
of the best in the county. Lumber and coal 
vards have been established, elevators to handle 




natural meadows in which are many lakes 
made by darning Lodgepole creek. This lo- 
cality is popular with hunters from the east- 
ern part of the state. The town lies in the 
valley which has a gentle rise to the north and 
south. It has a park which was established 
by the railroad, is well kept and has a band 
stand. A statue of Lincoln marks the spot 
where Lodgepole's first school house stood, 
now the center of the park. 

The station was first established when the 
railroad built through the county. At first 
it was very small, just a section house and 
improvised depot. Not until 1882 or 1883 was 
there any town. A school was established in 
1S79. Merchandising came later when the 
country began to settle up with permanent 
farmers. Year by year more homes have been 
erected and since the introduction of wheat as 



the grain, hardware and implement houses 
have been started and furnished the country 
side with all machinery and articles needed by 
the farmers. The leading mercantile house 
was started in 1888 by a Mr. Young and a 
large fine building was erected to house the 
store in 1892. It is an establishment of which 
Lodgepole may well be proud. A furniture 
store was one of the early business houses, 
established by E. Fenske, also handling hard- 
ware, harness and monuments and for years 
he operated the elevator. Lodgepole was es- 
tablished as a postoffice some years after the 
railroad was built and for years I.. R. Barlow, 
one of the early settlers was postmaster. To- 
day Lodgepole is one of the attractive and 
prosperous towns of the Panhandle and with 
its rich surrounding country has thrived and 



184 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



grown into one of the good shipping and trad- 
ing points on the Union Pacific. 

Lodgepole's shipment of wheat in 1920 total- 
led three hundred and fortv-four cars, approxi- 
mating a value of $600,000. Last year ( 1919) 
the value of wheat shipments was around 
$800,000. 

Potter 

Potter, situated in the western part of Chey- 
enne county, midway north and south, is lo- 
cated on the Union Pacific railroad, not far 



stands and also built the building first used 
for the postoffice after it was removed from 
the station. William and Andrew McAdam 
built on the corner where the James Lumber 
Company now has an office. They were en- 
gaged in the furniture business. The Mc- 
Adams also built the old school house which 
stood for years on school house hill, whkh 
was later remodeled and used for a hotel on 
Main street. This old school was built about 
1887 or 1888, but after being removed from 
the station the first school was held in a small 




from the western boundary. It owes its ex- 
istence and early establishment to the railroad. 
The station house of the railroad, built in 1870, 
was the only building in Potter for a number 
of years and was at one time, station, postof- 
fice. and school room as the first school was 
held in this building with a teacher from 
Omaha. The country around the Potter sta- 
tion was used first by the cattlemen but gradu- 
ally some settlers came. Among the men 
prominent in .settling up this locality was the 
Reverend Charles Anderson, who lived at Sid- 
ney but was active in locating people in the 
Potter district. Another family prominent in 
the promotion of the town was the Brotts, 
(Andrew and Lewis.) and their families. 
They established the first hardware store on 
m r where the Citizens' State Rank now 



frame building where the Thornburg house 
was built later. The teacher then was Miss 
Alary O. Strong. By this time Potter had 
quite a few houses and was becoming a village. 
One of the first postmasters was Fred Nelson. 
The old livery barn was built by Frank Hyde 
and was one of the oldest buildings in Potter 
outside the section house and depot. He dug 
a well, the first in Potter and put up a tank 
and windmill, and even went so far as to pipe 
water to some of the buildings and houses, 
installing the first water system in the town, 
though it is primitive, and of simple con- 
struction. 

Civic advancement began in real earnest in 
1885, when the first hotel was built just west 
of Thornburg's building, O. L. Erickson be- 
ing the proprietor. By 1889 Potter was thriv- 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



185 



ing, it had two grocery stores, two hardware 
stores, a newspaper called the Potter Press, 
one hotel, one restaurant, one blacksmith shop, 
a furniture store and a feed store. About this 
time the Lutheran church was built in practic- 
ally its present form except for the tower and 
some interior changes. Mr. D. Shultz was 
one of the prominent men in its organization. 
The Potter Press was short lived and within a 
couple of years Potter was without a paper. 
Later the Potter Review was started but was 
likewise abandoned. A third attempt was 
made when H. Stevens was hired by some en- 
terprising men to reestablish the Review and 
has been published ever since under that name. 

By 1890 the farmers who had settled around 
Potter began to raise grains, mostly wheat 
and oats and as 1892 was a good year, 
Potter had to build grain storage houses but 
not of the type used today. Everything seem- 
ed bright for the young village of Potter but 
the droughts of 1893 to 1895 made great 
changes. Many settlers left the country and 
the small country towns suffered from the 
migration and hard times. Some better years 
followed but made little change in Potter. Af- 
ter the section homestead bill was passed Pot- 
ter began to look up a little and, in 1907, 
the first bank was organized, before which the 
people of Potter had to bank at Sidney. The 
next few years saw great changes in Potter, 
new stores were erected, the Gunderson hotel 
was built. Dr. Ames put up a building and 
the Potter State Bank, after organization, 
was located in a new building. 

In the meantime Potter was incorporated 
and began to put in sidewalks. Bonds were 
voted and municipal light and water systems 
were established. The Union Pacific railroad 
built a new station and tank, while the farm- 
ers organized and put up a large grain eleva- 
tor; later they also erected a flour mill. Mr. 
Seyfang projected a theatre building and hall 
for the growing town. New additions were 
laid out while many fine homes were construct- 
ed. Farming was prosperous and was re- 
flected in the growth and development of the 
town, so that today it is one of the prosperous 
young towns of the Panhandle with great 
opportunities for bigger and still better ex- 
pansion. 

The Lutheran church is of stone with fur- 
nace heat. It has a large membership with a 
resident pastor. The Methodist church also 
has a large membership with resident minis- 
ter and both organizations have societies for 
church work. 

Potter's school has developed from the old 
station where it was organized by Joseph Ober- 



felder, when count}- superintendent in 1883, 
to two rooms in the late eighties and about 
1915 to four rooms well equipped, in a brick 
structure with basement, gymnasium, domes- 
tic science and clay molding. 

In the winter of 1886-1887 the grangers to 
the north used to bring in red cedar posts 
and trade for groceries. 

During that winter I was in Potter a num- 
ber of times on that mission. The first time 
was with George Hendricks. I believe we 
broke the road just about as it now stands. I 
am sure our little pony team was the first to 
go up that hill with a wagon out of Big Horn 
canyon on the east side of the place where 
the principal road now runs. We crossed 
Lawrence Fork at the same point this road 
now occupies. We were unable to sell or 
trade the posts in Potter and drove to Sidney, 
where we made the necessary exchange with 
A. Pease, then in business there. On the way 
in I shot and wounded an antelope, but had 
only the one cartridge and could not complete 
the job, for it could still travel. 

In someway while there Hendricks managed 
to get a pair of soldier blankets and a United 
States rifle, inveigling them out of some dis- 
solute soldier. Soldiers were forbidden to 
sell them but occasionally they needed the 
money and risked doing so. 

Another time in Potter with Martin Draper, 
we were in a store, and there was a little 
kitten playing on the counter. Unless one 
has been used to the domestic animal life 
of older communities, and has been transplant- 
ed into a wilderness where only wild life exists 
one cannot understand the yearning and home- 
sickness for old associates, when reminded of 
them. 

This feeling proved too strong for Draper 
and he surreptitiously slipped the kitten into 
his overcoat pocket. It was taken out to 
Pumpkin creek, the first domestic cat in the 
present Banner county limits. 

The Potter Review calls that town the "big- 
gest little city in Nebraska," which is em- 
phasized by the character of its numerous busi- 
ness houses of today. Among these are Farm- 
ers Union Trading Company, Johnson-Cords 
Company, Thornburg & Hager, Housen-Sey- 
fang Mercantile Company, Potter Lumber 
Company, Johnson's Implement & Feed Store, 
Potter Grain Company, Jones Furniture Store, 
Central Market, Potter Bakery, Gunderson's 
Hotel, Seyfang Theatre. The City Garage, 
Hite's Transfer, and numerous others. 

The two banks have substantially aided in 
the progress of the community, furnishing 
credit for the rapid expansion of agriculture 



HISTORY OF-WESTERN NEBRASKA 



and the development of the raw prairie into 
magnificient fields of wheat. 

At one time in the county division agitation 
a "Potter county" was proposed. This pro- 
posal which left Sidney on the edge of two 
counties had much to do with Sidney's sudden 
change of heart in 1888, and brought that city 
to support the five-county plan, which carried. 

In 1920 Potter shipped 375 cars of wheat, 
of a value of approximately $700,000. a drop of 
probably one-third from last year's total cash, 
but twenty-five percent of the wheat is yet in 
the fanners' bins. 

Dalton 

The high divide north of Sidney was trav- 
ersed by the overland stage, pony express, and 
western bound emigrants, before Sidney exist- 
ed. The Jules Cut-off from the South Platte 
valley at Fort Sedgewick (now Julesburg) 
went up Lodgepole creek to near the present 
site of the town of Lodgepole. Here it cross- 
ed the divide to Mud Springs (now Simla) 
then up the North Platte river on the other 
old trails. 

After the coming into existence of the town 
of Sidney cattlemen locating in the "North 
River" county opened new roads across the 
empire of buffalo grass. Then the Black 
Hill's trade made one of them of high im- 
portance. 

A handicap to this territory from the set- 
tlement point of view was lack of water. 
"The Water Holes" offered the one spot where 
it was possible to obtain shallow water. The 
freighters and stage routers had located this 
spot and put down some wells. 

So the first locating on the divide aside from 
timber claims, was in this vicinity, that they 
could haul water until such a time as they 
could dig a well. As water was two hundred 
to three hundred feet below the surface, well- 
digging was no small undertaking. 

These "Water Holes" were some distance 
southwest of the present town of Daiton. 
Eventually such beaut ful lands were destined 
to become homes ; they were settled upon by 
homesteaders, many of whom are yet to be 
found in the prosperous community. At first 
wells were dug at rare intervals', but later 
the drill, the windmill, and the gasoline engine 
have solved the water problem. 

The Burlington in 1920 projected its line 

south from Uliance to the North Platte river, 

establishing Bridgeport, then up the North 

Guemse} It connected Bridgeport 

1 lenver by way of Sidney. Th 



on the divide were Dalton, Gurley and Hunts- 
man. 

Dalton led off in progress and enterprise, 
and was a town of growing importance in pro- 
portion to the acreage of buffalo grass that 
was plowed up, and the acres of wheat sown. 

Dalton is located on one of the high points 
in the county and commands a beautiful view. 
Twenty -five years ago this site was a field of 
grass ; a wagon road leading from the river 
country wound through this territory, and the 
location was visited by a party of eastern 
men. as they passed over the divide in a freight- 
er's wagon, for Sidney was then the first town 
south of Alliance. On reaching the "high- 
est point," where Dalton, "Queen of the 
Prairie," today lifts her head, the men stood 
up and asked why the country was not fanned 
better and why better stock was not raised 




Blind Cannon Xear Poixt of Rocks 

and the driver responded that farming did not 
pay. Great has been the change from that 
day to this for Dalton is now surrounded by 
a rich, productive agricultural district. Only 
three years after the travelers passed the Bur- 
lington railroad was built through Cheyenne 
county and a side track and section house were 
established on the top of the notch of the di- 
vide and named Dalton. Shortly afterward a 
man put up a store and scales and the scat- 
tered people who lived in the district began to 
come in for supplies saving the longer trip to 
Sidney. Then settlers east of Dalton told that 
they had been raising enough wheat and grain 
for their use. Other farmers questioned why 
large fields would not yield as well as small 
ones. Macaroni wheat was introduced, which 
had drouth resisting qualities. Farmers re- 
membered the years of 1893 and 1895, which 
were well nigh rainless. The pioneer mer- 
chant. W. S. Woolsey, became busy and pros- 
perous and another man ventured into the sta- 
tion town to establish the Clough store. Dur- 
ing this period farms grew closer to the vil- 
lage and a small school was established. From 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



187 



this time the town grew ; gradually more build- 
ings of good and permanent character were 
built for commercial purposes. Livery and feed 
barns sprang up to accommodate the farm- 
ers ; the postoffice was established in the Wool- 
sey store; J. A. Walford and C. B. Shanks ran 
a grocery and meat market ; the Bridgeport 
Lumber Company established a lumber yard 
under the management of Jesse Ewing, and 
J. C. Franden opened a drug store, while Dr. 
A. E. Hedlund was the early physician to open 
an office, and enjoyed a good practice. Not 
long after, when farm lands began to sell. H. 
C. Anderson opened a real estate office. The 
busy blacksmith shop was conducted by Her- 
man Martin and a hardware and furniture 
store by Charles Veith ; a confectionery store 
by H. C. Christensen and a livery and im- 
plement house by C. W. Handley. J. B. 
Hire managed a restaurant while A. P. Gustin 
operated a pool hall and barber shop. The 
garage of Dalton was opened by Ben Carter, 
while his wife was in charge of the telephone 
exchange. Steve Davis, the well driller, was 
a busy man. 

Dalton supports four lodges, all of which 
are thriving; they are the Workmen, the 
Woodmen, the Yeomen and the Royal Neigh- 
bors. Since the town was incorporated many 
cement sidewalks have been laid which makes 
the business and residence property most at- 
tractive. The Bridgeport Lumber Company 
established a plumbing and tinware depart- 
ment, always busy and a number of carpenters 
are active building the new residences with the 
increase of population. 

With the increase in agricultural products 
it was necessary to have means to handle the 
immense quantities of grain shipped from Dal- 
ton and three of its four elevators were built 
more than ten years ago ; the Central which 
was then conducted by Ray Clough ; the Farm- 
ers Co-operative, managed by H. Harmuch, 
and the Foster Milling Company conducted by 
James Morrison. 

D. R. Jones & Company are large realty 
dealers of Dalton ; they have handled several 
hundred families in farms and also deal in 
city property. Due to the growing business 
Mr. Jones took into partnership in 1913, A. 
J. Jorgenson, who had been the local man- 
ager of the McNish Land Company. The 
Western Realty Company was organized in 
1906 with W. E. Swartzlander as president. 
This company always has a large list of farm 
properties for sale or rent with automobiles 
ready to take the prospective buyer to look at 
land. 

Today Dalton is well represented in church 



work and civic improvement institutions. It 
is remarkable the growth the town has had 
within such a short period, and as it serves 
an agricultural community all its business is 
necessarily such as supplies the wants of the 
farms and the progressive owners who trade 
in Dalton. Its main business street has many 
good and attractive business houses ; the stores 
are up-to-date in stock equipment and service 
and all are doing a fine business. 

A traveler arriving by train sees the two- 
story hotel just across the street from the sta- 
tu m. It is enjoying a fine trade and already 
is growing small for the accommodation of 
the traveling public. This house was con- 
ducted by W. N. Foster who also kept a ranch 
ten miles from town. 

Dalton now has a population of about three 
hundred and fifty, two excellent banks, and 
four elevators. Its mercantile interests are 
well represented. The Farmers and Merchants 
Bank, and the Dalton State Bank look after 
financial affairs, which is an undertaking in a 
wheat town where elevators of the capacity of 
those at Dalton are in evidence. Three hun- 
dred and forty-one cars of wheat were ship- 
ped from Dalton of the 1920 crop to the close 
of the year. In 1919 the shipments were tour 
hundred and twenty-one cars. The value last 
year was about $1,000,000, but this year's 
wheat shipments fell off in value as well as 
quantity, being probably $600,000. About 
thirty percent of the crop remains unsold. 

Gurley 

Gurley, the next town of importance in the 
progress of Cheyenne county, is five or six 
miles south of Dalton. It has two banks and 
is otherwise represented in a business way. 
Gurley shipped two hundred and fifty-two cars 
of wheat in 1920. 

There was a drop in production in 1920, 
but owing to the lack of cars there was also 
a short shipment. This year's crop is only 
seventy percent marketed, thirty percent being 
in local elevators and farmers' bins. 

The character of the country about Gurley 
is a continuation of the Dalton community. 

Huntsman 

I [untsman lies still further south on this 
tableland, and nearer to Sidney. The town 
has a bank and mercantile facilities. There 
being no station agent the grain shipments and 
other products are billed from and included in 
the report of the Burlington at Sidney. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Lorenzo 

Lorenzo is near the Colorado line south of 
Sidney on the "South Table" as it is called, 
but is of little commercial interest, except as 
a shipping station. Its freight business is like- 
wise handled by the Burlington agent at Sid- 
ney. The "South Table" did not come into 
importance until after the "North Table" had 
been settled. The first homesteaders were 
attracted north on account of the pine and 
cedar forests that covered the rough lands, 
supplying fuel and building materials for 
the first important needs. 

Along the lodgepole valley on the Union 
Pacific railway, aside from Sidney, Lodgepole 
and Potter, there are in Cheyenne county a 
number of shipping points. Colton and Bron- 
son are cared for by the agent at Sidney. 

Sunol 

Sunol has an individual identity, and its 
quota in the shipment of wheat in 1920 was 
one hundred and six cars, valued at about 
$250,000. It has a bank, stores and garage, 
being on the Lincoln Highway- 



Government statistics put the total wheat 
product of Cheyenne county at 2,900,000 
bushels for 1920. Shipments, however, were 
in excess of that amount. Conservative figures 
show a total of 2,111 cars of wheat shipped 
out, or about 3,100,000 bushels, and that rep- 
resents but seventy percent of the crop. The 
other thirty percent on hand will bring a grand 
total yield in 1920 of around four and one- 
half million bushels. Sidney and the stations 
handled from there, shipped 693 cars. 

Of the 2,111 cars shipped, 1,197 went over 
the Union Pacific, and 914 over the Burling- 
ton, the difference being due to better rail- 
road and car service. 

The Lincoln Highway traverses the county 
east and west, paralleling the Union Pacific 
railway, and a highway from Denver and 
Sterling north, passes through Sidney. Its 
connections are with the North Platte Valley 
Road, Yellowstone Road, and the Black Hills. 

Important community centers in Cheyenne 
county were established and postofnces lo- 
cated, but generally these have given way to 
rural routes from railroad stations, and the 
automobile has shortened the time between the 
railroad and the interior communities. 



CHAPTER V 



STATE OFFICIALS 



The territory of Lyons, Taylor and Monroe 
counties later erected into Cheyenne county 
and the "Beavais Terres" to the north, was 
included in the district represented by V. 
Krummer, of Columbus, in 1866, or the last 
territory legislature. This district included all 
of western Nebraska. The representative dis- 
trict was limited in 1873, to all territory west 
of Hastings and Grand Island, while the east- 
ern boundary of the senatorial district was 
Norfolk, Columbus and Seward. Guy C. Bar- 
ton of North Platte, was senator in 1873 and 
in 1875. He was the pioneer ranchman of 
Nebraska, west of North Platte. 

Platte, Colfax, Butler, Merrick, Hall, Buffa- 
lo, Lincoln, Dawson, Howard, Sherman, Val- 
ley, Greeley, Boon. Antelope, and Cheyenne 
counties, were by the Act of March 3, 1872, 
included in this senatorial district. The rep- 
ive district comprises Lincoln, Daw- 



son, Buffalo, Sherman, Valley, Franklin, and 
Cheyenne counties. Prior to that the man to 
represent this district was Wells Brewer in 
1869-1870. Cheyenne county has never had 
a state official except in the house and senate. 
The time set by law for convening court in 
Cheyenne county was the third Monday of 
June, each year. The law at the time re- 
quired a petition of two hundred of whom ten 
must be "taxable inhabitants," to organize a 
county. Sioux county, then unorganized, was 
attached to Cheyenne for administrative, ju- 
dicial and taxation purposes. 

In the Senate and Legislature 

G. H. lewett, of Sidney was state senator 
in 1879 ; G. W. Heist, of Sidney, in 1883 ; D. 
Carrigan, of Sidnev, was representative in 
1881 ; V. Bierbauer, 'in 1883; J. M. Adams in 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



189 



1885, and George C. Lingenfelter in 1893. All 
were from Sidney. In 1913, Lewis Brott, or 
Sextrop, Cheyenne county, was elected and 
was followed by William L. Bates, of Lodge- 
pole. Bates served two terms in 1917 and 
1918, and was then elected regent of the State 
University in 1920. He had removed to Kim- 
ball county before being elected to this office. 

State Fish Commission 

Robert Oberfelder was appointed State Fish 
Commissioner by Governor A. H. Holcomb 
about 1896. He served for six years, proving 
an efficient and conscientious official. His wide 
information as to streams and lakes of west- 
ern Nebraska, enabled the planting of the 
right kind of fish in the right place. That 
trout now abound in many western streams is 
due to his initiation. 

Banking and Finance 

In 1876, there was but one bank in the 
Panhandle of Nebraska. It was located at 
Sidney. A private bank, the first in this part 
of the state, was established by Raynolds and 
Wallace and was called the Cheyenne Coun- 
ty Bank." A. H. Raynolds was from Canton, 
Ohio, and was a relation of President McKin- 
ley. William Wallace was for years connect- 
ed with the Omaha National Bank, and a fig- 
ure of prominence in the financial world. Af- 
ter establishing and operating their bank for a 
time Raynolds and Wallace sold to Saxton 
Brothers, who were also from Ohio, and also 
related to McKinley. That bank continued to 
operate and was known as the Exchange Bank. 
It went to the wall in latter financial depres- 
sions, and the assets were taken over by Mor- 
gan and Johnson, who ran it for a number of 
years. About 1889, Mr. Morgan shot him- 
self and the bank became financially em- 
barrassed. The county treasurer, Adam Ickes, 
had county funds in it and he went broke try- 
ing to make good the county losses, turning 
over all his private funds and property in an 
effort to save his bondsmen. 

The American Bank, which had just been 
established, took over what was left of the 
wrecked Exchange Bank and J. J. Mcintosh, 
president of the American Bank, was made 
receiver of the Exchange. Edwin M. Man- 
court, of Terre Haute, Indiana, a proficient 
banker, established the Merchants Bank. He 
was more conservative than had been his pre- 
decessors in Sidney's banking circles. After 
a few years he liquidated and went east, being 
a large banker in Detroit, Michigan, today, 



and also vice-president of the consolidated 
coal companies. The third bank in Sidney was 
established by Milton Ahrends, but it was later 
merged with the First National Bank. 

The fourth bank was called the Sidney 
State Bank. After operating two years it 
was taken over and merged with the Ameri- 
can Bank, the present officers of the latter in- 
stitution being: T. C. McNish, president; M. 
C. Dinnery, G. E. Taylor and G. R. Buckner, 
vice-presidents; E. D. McAllister, cashier; J. 
L. McCarthy, assistant cashier. When this 
bank was organized, A. S. Raymond, now of 
Raymond Brothers & Clarke, wholesale gro- 
cers of Lincoln and Scottsbluff, was president; 
J. J. Mcintosh, vice-president ; and George E. 
Taylor, the present active vice-president was 
then cashier. S. H. Burnham, now of the 
First National Bank, of Lincoln, succeeded 
Raymond as president and he was succeeded 
by J. J. Mcintosh, July 4, 1894. Mr. Mc- 
Nish became president in 1918. The present 
capital and surplus amounts to $145,000. 

The First National Bank came into exist- 
ance in 1902. It has a capital and surplus of 
$75,800, and its present officers are: W. E, 
Swartzlander, president ; A. K. Greenlee, vice- 
president ; Leslie Neubauer, cashier ; Charles 
L- Mann and Lena L. Jensen, assistant cash- 
iers. The men who were influential in its 
organization were B. A. Jones, J. W. Harper, 
Charles Callihan, Milton Ahrends, A. K. 
Greenlee, C. D. Essig, Daniel Bergman, M. H. 
Tobin and A. Pease. The original capital was 
$25,000. 

For fifteen years the two banks stood the 
test of Sidney's growth in commercial import- 
ance. Wheat then began to be a factor of Chey- 
enne county, and bank accounts, credits and 
deposits began to swell. The Nebraska State 
Bank was organized in 1917; with F. M. 
Wooldbridge, president ; and M. L. Woold- 
bridge, cashier. It has grown steadily and is 
firmly established. In 1920, the officers were: 
F. M. Wooldridge, president; F. D. Woold- 
ridge and J. A. Simones, vice-presidents ; M. 
L. Wooldridge, cashier; and Helen Woold- 
ridge and C. E. Wooldridge, assistant cash- 
iers. The bank has a capital and surplus of 
$54,670. The Liberty State Bank came into 
existence in 1919, with F. N. Slawson, presi- 
dent ; H. R. Fuller, vice-president ; R. A. Bar- 
low, cashier; and Marius Christenson, assist- 
ant cashier. It has prospered since organiza- 
tion and today has a capital and surplus of 
$33,000. 

The oldest bank in Cheyenne county, outside 
of Sidney, was established at Lodgepole in 
1889, and was called the First State Bank. It 



1-1,1 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



has a capital and surplus of $32,200. The 
present officers are: W. G. Milton, president; 
J. W. Rogers, vice-president and W. J. Chase, 
cashier. 

The Cheyenne County Bank, of Lodgepole, 
was organized in 1915. It has a capital and 
surplus of $31,540, and the officials are as fol- 
lows : Ray Isenberger. president ; Fred Lehm- 
kuhl. vice-president; F. H. Wolf, cashier and 
W. J. Barrett, assistant cashier. 

Potter has two banks, the Potter State Bank 
being established in 1911. It has a capital 
and surplus of $31,500. J. A. Woten is 
president ; C. W. Johnson and P. Jensen, vice- 
presidents and Thomas Cowger, cashier. A 
small bank organized in 1907 was the ante- 
cedent of this strong organization. 

The Citizens State Bank, began business in 
1917. It has a capital and surplus of $18,000, 
with the following officers : G. A. Roberts, 
president ; Clarence Johnson, vice-president ; 
R. A. Babcock, cashier and D. F. Enevoldsen, 
assistant cashier. 

Dalton has two banks, both established in 
1908. The Dalton State Bank has $33,800 
capital and surplus, with W. J. Ewing, presi- 
dent ; H. A. Fecht, vice-president ; J. L. Willis, 
cashier and R. Buchanan, assistant cashier. 

The Farmers State Bank has a capital and 
surplus of $27,640 and the following officers: 
J. H. Foster, president ; P. T. Higgins, vice- 
president ; and Leslie C. Opper, cashier. 

The Gurley State Bank, which began busi- 
ness in 1915, has a capital and surplus of $32,- 
480. C. E. Wyerts is president ; A. E. Leclair, 
vice-president; and S. P. Johnson, cashier. 

The Fanners State Bank of Gurley began 
business in 1917, has a capital and surplus of 
$18,500 and the following officers : S. J. Han- 
son, president; and C. W. Smith, vice-presi- 
dent. 

The Farmers State Bank of Sunol, was or- 
ganized in 1914, and has a capital and surplus 
of $24,930, and the following officers : T. W. 



Rogers, president ; W. G. Nielton, vice-presi- 
dent and G. W. Barlow, cashier. 

The Huntsman State Bank, six miles north 
of Sidney began business in 1919, and now has 
a surplus of $4,500 and a capital of $10,000. 
Its officers are : W. A. Sparks, president ; J. 
A. Chaon, vice-president, and W. E. Cunning- 
ham, cashier. 

This concludes the list of financial insti- 
tutions past and present of Cheyenne county 
and shows a remarkable history. The first 
flush of the gold years, the bonanza cattle 
days, the lean years of the droughts, and now 
the agricultural years of plenty. The great 
wide wheat fields with their wealth of grain 
in this county, is reflected in the volume of 
business shown in the fourteen banks. The 
only discordant note in the financial history of 
Cheyenne county in a quarter of a century has 
been the attempts of the older banks to keep 
new ones out. The new banks were needed 
by the growth of business in Sidney and the 
surrounding country. 

The Farmers State Bank of Sunol was rob- 
bed July 28, 1916 at noon. The robbery was 
supposedly planned by R. G. Lukins and Frank 
Connell, the former acting as lookout while 
Connell took the money. He locked C. W. 
Smith, the cashier in the vault and started 
away with the loot, but two men were in the 
road. He shot through the windshield and 
killed them both. Others headed him off, and 
he ran his car into a corn field. Lukins was 
arrested in the town and Connel was cap- 
tured in the willows near Tobin's ranch. He 
confessed, and both men were sent to the peni- 
tentiary. 

Two other concerns handle money in the 
county though they are not bankers. Ober- 
felder Brothers handle hundred of thousands 
of dollars annually, discounting warrants. Dr. 
Eichner discounts farm paper and other obli- 
gations in large amounts. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 

CHAPTER VI 

THE PRESS 



There has been no agency employed that is 
entitled to more credit for the development and 
advancement of Cheyenne county from its 
organization than its newspapers. During the 
first years of the county's history there was 
not a newspaper published within its bound- 
aries. The Sidney Telegraph clearly has the 
field in priority of journalism, in Cheyenne 
county and the Nebraska Panhandle. It was 
first issued in May, 1873, in style being more 
like a pamphlet than the news sheet of today. 
It had four pages with four columns to the 
page. L. Connell was the publisher at its 
initiation. It was then bought by Joseph B. 
Gossage in the autumn of 1874, and the next 
year George C. Darrow became a partner in 
the ownership. The Telegraph was then pub- 
lished under the firm name of Joseph B. Gos- 
sage & Company. In 1878, a rival newspaper 
appeared, the Plaindcaler, which was started 
by W. H. Michael. In 1881, this paper was 
sold to A. C. Drake who consolidated it with 
the Telegraph which he then owned. This 
gave the Telcgraph-Plaindcaler a clear field 
for some time. J. C. Bush bought it, and 
then Charles Callahan was the controlling spir- 
it of the Telegraph for a number of years, 
"Plaindealer" being dropped from the name. 
For a long time now, H. E. Gapen has been 
the able editoi. He is a good politician as 
well as an efficient newspaper man and the 
combination has led to the Telegraph taking 
the leading place in the local newspaper world. 
Mr. Gapen has served as county attorney five 
times and was later county judge. 

The files of the old Telegraph have contrib- 
uted materially to the history of the county as 
herein recorded. 

J. F. Wellington ran the Sidney Democrat 
for a period about 1886-1887, but owing to a 
change of administration it ceased to exist. 

The Sidney Journal came into existence in 
1888. It was supported by some politicians 
who were dissatisfied because the Telegraph 
sold space to the Democrats. They declared 
that the Telegraph, which was then managed 
by Charles Callahan, "had sold its birthright 
for a mess of pottage." The new paper won 
official patronage during 1890-1891, but its 
owner sold out. The paper was not successful 
and its publication ceased. The farmers rise 
in political prominence in 1890, brought new 
interest and a paper was started by L. C. 



Stockwell, but it too faded away in the hard 
years of 1894 and 1895. 

The Sidney Enterprise began its fourth year 
as a newspaper January 6, 1921. Its publish- 
ers, Perry and Caroline Coler, came from Kan- 
sas. They have a well equipped plant and pub- 
lish an up-to-date paper. Mrs. Coler is a 
writer of prose and poetry. She has been 
known for many fine poems ; the Sidney Wo- 
man's Club has accepted some of her work 
and the Choral Society has set some of her 
poems to music. Sidney with its population of 
over three thousand is thus well served with 
newspapers. 

Honorable Charles H. Randall, now a mem- 
ber of Congress from southern California, 
started the Western Nebraska Observer, at 
Antelopeville, now Kimball, in 1885. The 
paper is now known as the Kimball Observer, 
and was the second newspaper to appear in the 
Panhandle and Cheyenne county outside of 
Sidney, for a number of years. Randall later 
published the "Centropolis World" which be- 
came "The World," then "The Early Day." It 
was consolidated by C. L. Burgess, with "The 
Advocate," and is now the Banner County 
News, issued at Harrisburg, Nebraska. In 
1884 the Lodgepole Express was established. 
It was a small affair, started with donations 
and insufficient capital, and more than a quar- 
ter of a century ago passed into the efficient 
hands of James C. Wolfe. The town plat had 
been filed July 10, 1884, shortly before the 
Express was started. James Wolfe was a 
pioneer of this region as he homesteaded north 
of Lodgepole in 1885, and is familiar with all 
the trials and hardships of life here at an early 
day, also the failures and discouragements of 
the drought years. He published the Express 
for more than twenty-five years, and only re- 
cently sold it to Claude E. Grisham, the pres- 
ent efficient owner and editor. Mr. Grisham 
was formerly of Scottsbluff, a member of the 
staff of the Star-Herald and later on the Re- 
publican. In 1920. Lodgepole had a popula- 
tion of five hundred. 

The Potter Review was started in 1912, al- 
though prior to that date, years ago, there was 
a newspaper published there from about 1888 
to 1891, called the Press. The first paper had 
quite a patronage at the time of final proof 
of claims for homeseekers but after that dis- 
continued publication. When wheat became 



192 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the great agricultural crop in Cheyenne county 
there was a desire for a local paper for news 
around Potter and the Review was established. 
For a time it suspended but was revived. The 
present editor, H. Stevens, also owns the paper. 
The town plat of Potter was filed May 14, 
1885, and today Potter has a population of over 
five hundred inhabitants. About 1913, J. W. 
and L. C. Thomas started the Dalton Herald. 
The original name is changed, the first owners 
gone. Tom Laley succeeded the Thomases. 
The localitv is now served by the Dalton Dele- 



gate published by Don Fey Ermand. The 
paper was first established in 1914, and has a 
good circulation, being in fact the successor 
to the Herald. Dalton itself came into exist- 
ence with the building of the Burlington rail- 
road in 1901, and the town plat was filed April 
4, 1906, and today Dalton has a population of 
three hundred and' fifty people. This completes 
the roster of the newspapers of Cheyenne 
county which is well and efficiently served by 
newsy, well edited papers. 



CHAPTER VII 
FRATERNAL ORDERS AND CLUBS 



The first fraternal organization in Cheyenne 
county was created bv the Masons December 
26, 1877. It was the Frank Welsh Lodge No. 
75, A. F. & A. M. The charter was granted 
June 25, 1879, with the following men as char- 
ter members : John A. Carley, Master ; George 
W. Russell, Senior Warden ; Julius Neubauer, 
Junior Warden; Norman F. Hazen, Peter 
Smith, John W. Griffin, Robert G. Howard, 
Dennis Carrigan, Henry Snyder, Henry Cro- 
hurst, Alfred Johnson, Robert S. Oberfelder, 
John Glickauf, Albert G. Persinger, Edward 
S. Ebbs and A. C. Drake. Only three of these 
original members were still alive in 1920; 
Messrs. Carrigan, Oberfelder and Persinger. 
The officers of the lodge at the present time 
are: Frank M. Wooldridge, Master; George 
Brewer, Senior Warden ; John W. Johnson, 
Junior Warden ; Leslie Neubauer, secretary 
and Leon Fine, treasurer. 

In 1908, the building at the corner of Rose 
street, now Center avenue, and Third street, 
was erected by the Masonic order and used for 
all meetings. The lodge is now contemplating 
the erection of a fine new temple to take the 
place of the first building. There are sixty 
Shriners in Sidney and they have a Shrine 
Cluli organized which has arranged social 
events that are attractive, pleasant and in- 
structive. Following the organization of the 
Masonic lodge, an Order of the Eastern Star 
came into existence and has had a consistent 
growth with the Masonic body and in 1920, 
was an active organization, with the following 
Mrs, < "live Agnew, Worthy Matron; 



Leon Fine, Worthy Patron ; Mrs. C. P. Grant, 
Associate Matron; Mrs. Grace Simondynes, 
Conductress; Mrs. D. Saxon, Associate Con- 
ductress; Miss Esther Devine, secretary; Mrs. 
Tulia Mann, treasurer; Mrs. Grace E. King, 
Ada; Mrs. A. E. Ahrends, Ruth; Mrs. C. C. 
Jones, Esther; Miss Katheryn Greenlee, Mar- 
tha ; Mrs. J. J. Mcintosh, Electa ; Mrs. James 
Worden, chaplain ; Mrs. C. L. Mann, organist ; 
Mrs. Anna Osborn, warden ; Mrs. A. J. Jor- 
genson, marshal, and Herman Schroeder, sen- 
tinel. 

The Modern Woodmen of America organ- 
ized in Sidney in 1887, with twenty-two mem- 
bers. The lodge now has a hundred and six 
members. The Oberfelder brothers were active 
in establishing the Modern Woodmen in Chey- 
enne county and Joseph Oberfelder was state 
consul in 1917. The Woodmen have had a 
consistent growth from the start and are one 
of the strong organizations in the county today. 
The present officers are: Joseph Oberfelder, 
vice-consul ; V. F. Kucero, adviser ; F. D. 
Wooldridge, banker ; F. M. Wooldridge, clerk ; 
and C. M. Wright, O. R. Owens and Hugh D. 
Moore, trustees. 

Valiant Lodge No. 98, Knights of Pythias, 
was organized May 19, 1888, by the Grand 
Chancellor, O. L. Green of Kearney, with the 
following charter members : W. C. Reillv, C. 
S. Ickes, M. L. Tobin, Zig Gutfriend, T. Neu- 
bauer, Robert Shuman, T. C. Bush, T- F. Well- 
ington, H. S. Kelter, R. J. Wallace, L. B. 
Cary, George W. Heist, Morris Davis, H. E. 
Gapin, J. E. Trinnier, Dr. C. H. Fields, J. W. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



193 



Norval. T. B. Dawson, J. W. Vanderhoof, J. 
E. Van Olinda, W. F. Bassett, Robert S. Ober- 
felder, J. W. Meyers, W. H. Adams, W. P. 
Miles, H. D. Meyers, George W. Jenner, T. 
St. Rayner, P. R. Borgquist, I. J- Mcintosh, 
E. O. Lee, J. A Carlev, J. Z." Denton and J. 
T. Thoelecke. The Knights of Pythias has 
been a strong organization from the first with 
most of the prominent men among its mem- 
bers ; many of the charter members are still 
alive and are today active in its councils. 

Sidney Lodge No. 196, Ancient Order of 
United Workmen was started in 1891, with 
thirty-five members and the following officers : 
Joseph Oberfelder, past master workman; 
George F. Blanchard, master workman ; 
Charles Peterson, foreman ; James R. Williams, 
overseer and Albert Armstrong, secretary. The 
officers in 1920 were : Carl Muller. master 
workman ; Everett Foster, foreman ; John 
Daugherty, overseer ; Herman Schroeder, 
treasurer; Joseph Oberfelder, financial secre- 
tary and Everett Foster, A. S. Ayle and W. J. 
Shoemaker, trustees. Today the Woodmen 
have a hundred and seventy-six members in 
Sidney. 

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was 
established by the activities of Joseph Ober- 
felder, Joseph Taylor and J. G. Tate, (now of 
Portland, Oregon). Joseph Oberfelder has 
been a member of the State Finance Commit- 
tee of the Odd Fellows since 1908. The pres- 
ent officers of the Sidney Lodge No. 91 are: 
Oscar Hatcher, noble grand ; J. C. Hatcher, 
vice grand ; C. S. Chambers, past grand, and 
Mr. Jones, secretary. C. M. Wright is treas- 
urer with N. W. Olson, O. M. Harris and C. 
P. Chambers, trustees. Charles Couch is dis- 
trict deputy grand master. The Odd Fellows 
is a very live organization living up to the 
tradition for charity for which it is noted. Nat- 
urally the Daughters of Rebekah are as ac- 
tive and have the usual social affairs in which 
the brother Odd Fellows .participate, especial- 
ly the popular suppers. 

The Degree of Honor has two lodge organi- 



zations in Sidney. Degree of Honor No. 122 
is headed by Mrs. Anna Minshall as chief of 
honor; the other officers for 1921 are: Goldie 
Sweet, lady of honor; Catherine Reiners, chief 
of ceremonies; Margaret Roth, usher; Minnie 
Leege, associate usher ; Mayme Davis, treasur- 
er; Ella Williams, recording financier; Lizzie 
Burkhardt, inside watch and V. Kucera, out- 
side watch. 

Dora Lodge, Degree of Honor is headed by 
Mrs. Herman Schroeder, as chief of honor. 

The Macabees are also represented in Sid- 
ney. 

The Knights of Columbus are active in Sid- 
ney as large classes are regularly initiated and 
the Catholic ladies serve fine banquets in St. 
Patrick's auditorium at such times. 

In Sidney the Sidney Community Associa- 
tion looks after all public enterprises and new 
industries and has a remarkable record for 
the good done for the city. President Buckner 
and Secretary Keppler have for the past year 
set an example of proficiency which the new 
officers say they are going to excel for the up- 
building of the community. The following 
men are to make the attempt : M. Dimery, 
president ; E. L. Uptagrove, vice-president ; 
Leon Fine, treasurer, with the following men 
on the board of directors : C. W. Hornaday, 
W. P. Miles, Frank Whitelock, W. H. Hod- 
kin, W. E. Swartzlander and G. R. Buckner. 

Sidney has an active gun club organized on 
January 9. 1920, which is booked for ten con- 
tests in 1921 with Fort Lupton, Greeley, Long- 
mont, Pueblo, Wray, Yuma, Colorado Springs, 
Denver and Douglas, Wyoming. Scottsbluff 
or Alliance may be taken for the one vacant 
date on the schedule. 

All of the fraternal organizations of Chey- 
enne county have taken an active part in pub- 
lic and municipal affairs and the members are 
always on the lookout to assist in the develop- 
ment of the county and their own communities 
which shows the true western and progressive 
spirit. Twenty-two nights out of each month 
are lodge nights in Sidney. 



I'M 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE CHURCH, THE BAR, THE MEDICAL PROFESSION 



The story of the church in Cheyenne county 
is a romance of life in this section of the 
country. For the first few years after the 
building of the railroad, there were no towns 
and Sidney was small. The lack of perman- 
ent settlers made church activities of necessity 
supported almost entirely by outside contribu- 
tions, and there were not many of these from 
1869 to 1875. The "Panic of 73" and the 
difficulties of obtaining funds are still clearly 
remembered by the oldest settlers. 

It was about 1876 or 1877 that signs of 
a larger and permanent town became notice- 
able in Sidney. Elder T. B. Lemon of the 
Methodist Episcopal church brought a fearless 
minister of rather erratic tendencies into what 




was then considered the wilderness of sin of 
Cheyenne county and in the language of the 
time, "turned him loose." There was a man 
in Sidney at the time, a former judge, who 
said that if a church was established in the 
town he would move out. The minister heard 
of the remark and accepted the challenge. He 
began his work among the lowly and unfortu- 
nate but he was so earnest that people went 
to hear him. He gained in popularity, and 
within two years had raised funds among the 
people to buy a building in the wildest dis- 
trict. The house which was a dance hall to 
that date, was renovated and remodeled, and 
the firsl Methodist church was established by 
1879. By this work this abode of sin and 
crime, became consecrated ground. As he had 
promised, the judge left Sidney after the 
church was founded and went to the Black 
Hills; later he became a changed man and a 
pillar of tin* Methodist church in the home he 
adopted. Rev. Turner was minister in 1881. 
A little later Leslie Stevens tilled the pulpit. 



Stevens later, after service as county superin- 
tendent, went to China where he died. 

The beautiful new Methodist church of to- 
day, is built upon the identical spot where the 
fearless minister established his congregation 
forty-two years ago. The old building was 
torn down in 1884, and a larger one erected. 
L. D. Livingston, later of Pumpkin creek, was 
one of the men who helped in the building. A 
parsonage was built in 1889, and, in 1907, the 
church was remodeled. It served well until the 
congregation outgrew the building and mem- 
bers desired a newer and larger home. In 1918, 
the new edifice was built at an approximate 
cost of seventy thousand dollars and was dedi- 
cated April "13, 1919, by Bishop Matt S. 
Hughes. It is one of the finest church build- 
ings in the Panhandle and, in 1921, there are 
three hundred members, while the Sunday 
School has an enrollment of over four hun- 
dred. Reverend T. Porter Bennett, the pres- 
ent pastor, is a man of unusual vitality and 
progressive spirit, and his usefulness is empha- 
sized by a large growth in the membership. 

The Episcopalian church was the second es- 
tablished in Cheyenne county and Sidney. Rev- 
erend William Page Chase came here in 1879, 
and held services regularly from September, 
to May, 1880. After he left there were only 
occasional services held by missionaries of the 
Episcopal church. On May 2, 1880, Bishop 
Clarkson confirmed seven persons and then 
visited Sidney occasionally, holding services 
until 1884. Reverend John H. Babcock of 
North Platte, held services in March, 1886. 
Bishop Worthington, accompanied by Rever- 
end Babcock made one visit in April, 1886, and 
baptised four children whose parents were 
members of the church. The Bishop organized 
a mission by the name of "Christ Mission," 
and appointed the following officers : Colonel 
E. W. Stone, warden ; Andrew Haskell, treas- 
urer ; Fred H. DcCostro, clerk and Lieutenant 
Daniel Carnman, superintendent of the Sunday 
School. Colonel Stone was also made lay 
reader. At this time eighteen persons partook 
of the Holy Communion and it was estimated 
that twenty families were connected with the 
church. Sixty dollars a month was pledged for 
a minister and the Masonic Order volunteered 
the use of its hall for church purposes. A 
church guild was organized with Mrs. Fred E. 
H. Ebstein. president; Mrs. Douglas, treasurer 
and Airs. Morgan, secretary. At the request 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



l'»5 



of the Bishop, Mr. Babcock took charge May 
26, 1886, and more than four hundred dollars 
was raised for church funds at a bazaar held 
at the Post Theatre in June of that year. A 
lot was donated by J. Thorn Clarkson and two 
more adjoining were purchased for three hun- 
dred and fifty dollars. Bishop Worthington 
gave three hundred dollars and the Guild the 
other fifty for the purchase price. These lots 
were deeded to the Cathedral Chapter of the 
Diocese of Nebraska in trust for the use of 
the church. 

During the fall of 1886, a small building 
fund was raised. F. M. Ellis of Omaha, drew 
plans for a church building and Thomas W. 
Walsh in November was awarded a contract 
for putting in a foundation. The corner stone 
was laid by the Masonic Order and Bjshop 
Worthington, on November 23, 1886. A. Pease 
built the church which was completed and con- 
secrated July 28, 1889. Reverend Callaghan 
McCarthy succeeded Mr. Babcock and Rever- 
end Thomas W. Barry, chaplain of the United 
States army at Sidney Post, and Reverend 
Robert G. Osborn followed in turn. In 1920, 
Reverend Henry Ives has charge and is Dean 
of western Nebraska, including Kimball and 
Scottsbluff. He is faithful and unfailing in 
his stewardship of the trust which has been' 
well rewarded with the results in church work. 
Right Reverend A. R. Graves and Bishop 
George A. Beacher. were contemporaneous 
with this period, men of vast influence and 
service to the church. 

The Presbyterian church was established in 
this section at a later day. Today the work of 
this denomination is in the capable hands of 
Reverend Samuel Light. The church is grow- 
ing and is representative of Sidney and Chev- 
enne county. 

Reverend L. L. Holmes, of the Christian 
church is building substantial foundations of 
his denomination and his church is one of the 
newer ones that has had a fine growth in Sid- 
ney, as well as the county. 

The Catholic church, usually a pioneer, was 
among the first to become established in Sid- 
ney. Father Conway used to come here from 
North Platte, and occasionally a priest from 
Cheyenne came both before and after 1880. 
Father Conway had the rectory built in 1883 
and Vallie Williams says that there was a 
small frame church built here a few years 
earlier, about 1880. Father M. J. Barrett was 
the first resident priest, coming to Sidney in 
1883. The parish then included Paxton and 
Ogallala, and later was made to include Osh- 
kosh, Lisco. Bridgeport, Scottsbluff, and Dal- 
ton. Reverend Waldron was put in charge of 



the parish in 1888, being followed by Reverend 
St. Lawrence in 1891, Reverend J. R. McGrath 
in 1893; Reverend J. F. McCarthy in 1895, 
Reverend J. J. Flood in 1899, who died and 
was buried in Sidney Catholic cemetery in 
1902, Rev. J. P. DeVane was placed in 
charge after the death of Father Flood and 
was succeeded by Reverend T. D. Sullivan in 
1904 ; Reverend James Dobson in 1907, who re- 
mained until 1912. That year the Diocese of 
Omaha was divided and the Diocese of Kear- 
ney created with James M. Duffle, of Chey- 
enne, Wyoming, as Bishop. Father Dobson 
left for the east and his first assistant. Rev- 
erend Campman was in charge until June, 1913, 
when Father Anton Link, the present efficient 
priest was placed in charge, and Chappel. 
Lodgepole, Kimball and Angora were added 
to the parish. 

In August, 1912, the new stone church was 
commenced, the corner stone laid in October 
following, and it was completed and dedicated 
November 18, 1914. That year the old parish 
house was wrecked and a new modern parson- 
age erected. The church cost about thirty-five 
thousand dollars which was quite an under- 
taking for the members of the church. 

In 1915, a small frame school house was 
built and school began January 10, 1916. The 
beginning of the academy was undertaken re- 
luctantly but the building was soon crowded. 
Five sisters of the Ursuline Community, of 
Louisville, Kentucky, arrived in December, 
1915, to take charge of the school and by the 
spring of 1916, it was necessary to enlarge the 
school. The first part of the academy cost 
twenty-five thousand dollars, and, in 1920 it 
was enlarged by an addition costing a hundred 
thousand dollars. This was dedicated Janu- 
ary 7, 1921. Fifteen sisters are now members 
of the teaching force of the school and there 
is an attendance of a hundred and seventy-five 
day scholars and a hundred and twenty-five 
boarders who live at a distance. 

Sidney has two Lutheran churches. The 
English Evangelical Lutheran, presided over 
by Reverend Kahl, who also has Gurley charge 
of Reverend Karl Fenske, and the Trinity 
Lutheran church is under the guidance of E. 
Borgmeyer and is called Southeast Trinity. 

The Methodist Episcopal church at Lodge- 
pole recently dedicated a new church building, 
Bishop Homer C. Stuntz, officiating, as- 
sisted by District Superintendent Dr. M. E. 
Gilbert and Reverend Henry F. .Martens, who 
was appointed to this charge in 1918. The 
consecration ceremonies occurred in December, 
1920. This church was established in the Union 
Pacific depot January 1. 189S. A stone church 



196 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



was dedicated the following year with Rever- 
end Dr. Shank, the editor of the Omaha 
Christian Advocate, as master of ceremonies. 
It took nearly ten years to pay off the debt and 
mortgage on the building. J. R. Young, Fred 
Lehmkuhl, Lewis A. Ganson, Charles N. 
Coates and John F. Ganson were the members 
of the building committee of the old stone 
church. The building committee of the new 
church were R. O. Bond, H. L. Lucke. F. H. 
Wolf, B. J. Watson, W. T. Hafer, and Fred 
Lehmkuhl. The last named, served on both 
building committees. The comer stone of the 
new building was laid July 2, 1920, by Grand 
Master Joseph B. Fradenburg, of the Masonic 
order of Nebraska. The edifice cost thirty-five 
thousand dollars. Reverend A. W. Amsbury 
held the first quarterly conference here Janu- 
ary 21, 1893. and the constitution of the church 
was drafted by J. F. Ganson and Charles N. 
Coates. 

Gurley has a live Methodist Episcopal or- 
ganization and church with Reverend Coffman 
in charge. 

Potter has three churches, and as has been 
usual in this county, the Methodist church was 
pioneer, and is most active. Reverend Chas. 
O. Troy is pastor. 

Trinity Lutheran and Catholic churches each 
are here provided. 

Although not a church organization, the Wo- 
men's Christian Temperance Union is associ- 
ated with its work in many particulars. The 
organization has been in existence in Cheyenne 
county for many years. The local institution 
at Potter is particularly virile, and has done 
much excellent work. Mrs. A. J. Woten is the 
present executive head and is ably directing it 
for civic and communal good. 

In addition to the churches mentioned and 
those in the interior of the county rural dis- 
tricts, a tribute should be paid to the congrega- 
tions that assembled in sod houses, log huts and 
dug outs in the days when the grangers were 
spreading over the western prairies and before 
churches were built. Services and Sunday 
schools were held in every neighborhood and 
volunteer laymen were everywhere doing their 
part in religious work. 

Bar Banquet 1887 

Shortly after the re-election of Judge Fran- 
cis (',. I lamer as district judge of the enormous 
district then comprising the greater portion of 
the western end of the state, a complimentary 
banquet was tendered him at the old Railroad 
eating house at Sidney on December 14, 1887. 
mention ni the time and the place 



would prove that in modern parlance, "some 
time" was had by all those who were fortu- 
nate enough to be present. A roster of those 
who were present will serve to awaken many 
memories and it will also serve as a pretty 
complete directory of those who took a promi- 
nent part in the local and district governmental 
affairs of the large territory then embraced in 
Cheyenne county. Naturally there were not 
very many resident lawyers in that vicinity at 
that date, so in this list will be found the men- 
tion of numerous other attorneys who used to 
journey to Sidney when court was in session 
there. Surviving members of this list have as- 
sured the compilor that this occasion was one 
that had not been forgotten in the thirty-three 
years since it took place, and that they had ex- 
perienced no social occasion that could come up 
to this one. 

Those recorded as being present were : Hon. 
Geo. W. Heist, toastmaster ; F. G. Hamer, 
guest of honor; General H. A. Morrow; Major 
J. J. Mcintosh ; Attorneys J. J. Halligan, E. M. 
Day, of Ogallala; Judge Lacey, of Cheyenne; 
J. E. Alexander ; J. W. Bartholemew, of Grand 
Island; J. W. Brewster, Court Reporter; J. 
M. Adams, Register of United States Land 
! >fnce ; C. B. Blakeley, Receiver of United 
States Land Office; Major George Laing, C. 
D. Esseg, Judge J. J. Neubauer ; City Council- 
man M. T. Tobin, C. Trognitz, Joseph Ober- 
felder ; County Judge A. Pease, Postmaster A. 
J. Brennan, L. B. Cary, County Clerk elect. 
F. L. Smith, County Commissioner. W. P. 
Miles, ludge Shuman, Tudge J. W. Norvell, 
W. C. Reilley, Thos. Kane. City Marshal; 
Judge W. S. Beall; Henry St. Rayner; E. O. 
Lee ; T- F. Wellington, of the Democrat, and 
J. C. Bush of the Telegram. 

Cheyenne County Bar 

The Bar of Cheyenne county has been rep- 
resented by men of ability and sound judgment 
since the courts were stablished. The first law- 
yers to practice in Sidney and Cheyenne coun- 
ty were Messrs. Heist, Bierbower, Kane and 
Norval. Many other lawyers have been men- 
tioned on other pages of this history where 
their many activities in the interests of the 
county have been recounted. The 'present 
members of the Cheyenne County Bar are: W. 
P. Miles, the oldest member and dean; H. E. 
Gapen, J. L. Mcintosh, Joseph Oberfelder, A. 
Warren. Paul Martin. C. S. Radcliffe. W. H. 
Hodgkin, Thomas Powell and J. L. Tewell. 
Many hard and difficult cases have been fought, 
won and lost in the county by the well known 
lawyers and at all times their integrity and 



HISTORY OF WKSTERX NEBRASKA 



high standards have been maintained. As a 
rule, the community now is not involved ex- 
tensively in litigation. 

The Medical Profession 

In the early days there were few physicians 
in Cheyenne county, but with the gradual set- 
tlement, doctors came into this wild, newly set- 
tled country and here became established to aid 
and succor the people. The first physician was 
Dr. Boggs, who served a large part of the 



county around Sidney. He was followed by 
Dr. J. G. Ivy in the" fall of 1878. The first 
dentists in this section were the Urmy broth- 
ers. With the passing years well known pro- 
fessional men have opened offices and today the 
medical fraternity is well represented by the 
following: Doctors Mantor, Eichner, Roche, 
Taylor, Simons, Schwartzlander, regular phy- 
sicians ; Doctors Donahoe, Pettibone, Webster 
and Witham, dentists ; Dr. Montgomery, opti- 
cian and Dr. Barger, osteopath. Dr. A. J. 
James is the physician at Potter. 



CHAPTER IX 



THE WORLD WAR 



Immediately upon the entrance of the United 
States into the World War, Cheyenne county 
organized for practical co-operation, determin- 
ed to help the government in every way. The 
prominent business men and bankers of the 
different towns formed a county council of de- 
fense. The different bond drives were organ- 
ized and successfully carried out and all went 
over to the top. The people in every commun- 
ity assembled in their halls, churches and school 
rooms and the interest manifested by them was 
remarkable. The complete list of the men who 
served in the army and navy from Cheyenne 
county has been sent to Xational Headquar- 
ters but the First Xational Bank of Sidney 
compiled as complete a list as it is possible 
to obtain at this time, which is as follows : 
Anderson, Royal; Andrews. Glenn M. ; 
Anderson, Emery Evert; Aldrich, J.; Arm- 
strong, Raymond William ; Anderson, Emil ; 
Anderson, Edward Christian ; Ahlm, Sexton 
David V. ; Bangert, Harry Fred ; Brott, John 
Peter ; Bassett, Kenneth ; Blackwell, Wesley ; 
Bryan, Ilyod McKinley ; Bartholamew, Leo A. ; 
Bentley, Charlton B. ; Bolm, William A. ; Burk- 
land, Edgar ; Borquist, Carl August ; Baum- 
bach, Herman R. ; Brachtenbach, John ; Ben- 
nett, Geo. Elmer ; Baker, George ; Baker, 
Harry B. ; Bixby, Harry L. ; Bates, Glen ; 
Bennett, John Wesley; Baliff, Lee M. ; Cook, 
Funston ; Costello, John ; Collins, John Era ; 
Coons, John Willet ; Carey. George Howard ; 
Cheeney, Walter Aney; Coder, Ralph; Clark, 
Robert Glenwood ; Christensen, Andrew ; Clos- 
man, Esbon Tohn ; Couch, Asa Thomas ; Coates, 



Roy ; Calwell, Fred ; Couch, James Clarence ; 
Copeman, Andrew C. ; Cook, Simmons W. ; 
dishing, Fred A. ; Clinton, Ray Lawrence ; 
Chambers, Allen; Chambers, Guy ; Clark, Carl ; 
Cook, Delbert; Davis, James; Davis, Walter 
F. ; Daniel, Lee Marion ; Durnell, Lennie ; Ded- 
rick, Russell Franklin; Dedrick, Guy Clayton; 
DiMarks, Joe; Dowing, Oliver Holden; Doofe, 
Henry; Dunbar, Charles T. ; Dennv, Alva H.; 




Durnell, Rov Forest; Durnell, Fail; Evans, 
William; Edner. Alfred; Ells, David; Ehmke, 
Herman; Farr, Charles; Fenske, Oscar E. ; 
Fuller, James Hubert ; Francis. Clarence ; Fine, 
Samuel"; Flora. Floyd F. ; Fine, Joseph; Green- 
lee, Rov C. ; Greenlee, Albert David; Gould. 
Ernest 'P. ; Grabill. Blaine Chester; Gregory, 
Harry Edward; Gross, Charley: Gundel, Fred 
E. ; Grabill, Isaac Elmer. Jr. ; Grant. Lawrence 
C; Gould. Henry; Could. William; Griffith, 



198 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Ferl ; Green, Albert ; Heinzman, Paul ; Harper, 
John \Y. ; Hargens, William; Hajek, Alonis ; 
Hatcher, Grover; Herbert, Francis James; 
Heise, Paul; Henrickson, William August; 
Harmsen, August; Hite, Guy Victor; Hutch- 
inson, Carl Henry ; Hahler, Frank ; Henke, 
Peter; Hopkins, Oliver Lee ; Hornby, Paul D. ; 
Hink, Otto P.; Haiston, Frank E. ; Hedges, 
Roy ; Hornby, Paul ; Hedges, Allen ; Hulsland- 
er, C. A. ; Johnson, Henry Iven ; Johnson, Os- 
car N. ; Judd, Soloman ; Johnson, Bastian J. ; 
Johnson, John ; Johnson, Ralph Palmer ; Jones, 
Henry C. ; Jones, Hugh T. ; Jackson, Glenn ; 
Johnson. Albert ; Kluck, Rudolph ; Kucera, 
Joseph T. ; Kottwitz, Henry Chas. ; Konlrou- 
lis, Mike ; Knudson. Knud Olaf ; Greuger, 
Elmer Jay ; Kelley, Emerson W. ; King, F. A. ; 
Kucera, James ; Kretz, Winfield ; Lawson, 
Charles A. ; Loval, William Carl ; Lingwall, 
John Albert ; Ledbetter, Carl ; Lampros, Alex ; 
Lorimore, Kenneth Claire ; Langhram, James 
Arthur ; Lauritsen, William ; Lindberg, Oscar 
R.R ; Lund, Leonard F. ; Lewis, David G. 
Livoni, Max ; Ledbetter, Frank ; McGrane 
James M. ; McDaniel, James Willis ; McKin 
ney, Fred Alvin ; McMillan, Clyde Harold 
McKean, Elroy; McFadden, John; Mills, R 
C. ; Meier, Marhew ; Mauero, Angelo ; Mahlke : 
Ernest; Martin, Llewellyn; Mead, George 
Wesley ; Moore, Sidney Allen ; Marvin, Ern- 
est; Mickley, William; Mariotte, Lewis; Ma- 
son, Clarence Lewis ; Miller, Lawrence Wil- 
liam ; Martin, Paul L. ; Miller, Don Leo; 
Mann, C. L. ; Mohatt, James; Millett, C. P.; 
Melroes, Harry ; Mitchell. James ; Mikkelson, 
Bert ; Neilson, Christian Emil ; Neil, Fred Lee ; 
Neilson, Jens ; Otten, Oakley ; Osborne, Jess ; 
Oberfelder, Irving T. ; Pavlat, Frank ; Pappis, 
George ; Peetz, John ; Price, Milo Earl ; Pin- 
dell, Isaac Lee : Panabaker, Earling F. ; Parks, 
John Clayton ; Perry, Clarence Harvey ; Parks, 
Charles Fred ; Pierce, Wm. E. ; Perry, Charles ; 
Robinson, Henry Andrew ; Roberts, Russell C. ; 
Raddatz. Alfred John ; Russell. Verne Wesley; 
Runge, Frederick ; Runge, Edward ; Reisdorff, 
Jake: Ruttner, Edward; Roche, R. E. ; 
Spearow, Herschel ; Spearow, Lynn ; Simo- 
dynes, Joseph ; Sauer, Hughlen O. ; Schimpy, 
Frederick C. ; Shoemaker, Edward Joseph ; 
Stikal, Joe J.; Straight, Albert Peter; Sulli- 
van. John Lawrence; Semoian, Naazov; 
Sparks, Harry; Stratta. James: Shea. Thomas 
Lawrence; Schroeder, Frank Rudolph; Stow- 
ell, David: Schwartz, Harry Benjamine; 
Schroeder, Sidney .Albert ; Straight, Walter F. ; 
Spitler, Roy C. ; Swanson, Lynn Theodore; 
Slawson, Hugh; Studt, Fred; Schwartz, Fran- 
- i : Troidl, Michael; Tewell, James Leonard; 
i. Thomas V.; Vacik, Jerry C. ; 



Vaughn, Fred W. ; Venturelli, Antonio ; Walsh, 
William Stephen ; Wilburn, John Ernest ; Wills, 
Pearl; Wright, Charles Thomas; Wise, Earl; 
Wills, Grover Cleveland; Wilson, Alva Wil- 
liams ; Wooldridge, Clark ; White, Arthur C. ; 
Willis, Wm.; Wright, Elmer; Wright, Clar- 
ence ; Wright, Milton ; Wallace, Gerald ; Wal- 
lace, Cyril; Witters, John. 

The Legion of Honor was organized at Sid- 
ney by the returned soldiers, also at Lodge- 
pole and Potter. The Sidney organization has 
about a third of the returned veterans of 
Cheyenne county on its rolls. The organiza- 
tion at Potter was established in January, 1921, 
that at Lodgepole was earlier. Attorney Mar- 
tin was the head of the Legion in Sidney last 
year and the present officers are: Morley 
Pearson, commander; I. L. Pindell, vice-com- 
mander; Frank Schroeder, financier; Roy 
Greenlee, Adjutant and Charles Marsh, ser- 
geant-at-arms. 

The Red Cross 

Soon after the outbreak of hostilities of the 
World War a chapter of the American Red 
Cross was established in Cheyenne county and 
did valiant service throughout the war, and is 
now engaged in splendid work of relief at 
home. Mrs. C. W. West was head of the Sid- 
ney organization and proved an excellent ex- 
ecutive. Leon Fine, the retiring treasurer of 
the Sidney Red Cross Society turned over to 
successor ten thousand, two hundred and seven- 
ty-seven dollars, which testifies to the growth 
and stability of the organization at the present 
time. 

Conclusion 

In all the history of the Panhandle, Chey- 
enne county and Sidney will hold their places 
in the progress and development of the section. 
From Sidney has radiated that civilization and 
progressive spirit that has changed the Pan- 
handle from a wilderness to the homes of a 
rich farming and agricultural community, to- 
day a wide reach of land that is rich and fer- 
tile. The start was made by the building of 
the Union Pacific railroad ; the building of the 
Burlington has given Cheyenne county a stra- 
getic position, as it has also Sidney, which will 
become a distributing center for the two lines 
of railroad. Though Cheyenne county is much 
reduced in size from the "old Cheyenne" coun- 
ty, it has retained rich land of great fertility. 
A large proportion of the county is suitable 
for cultivation. There is little waste land and 
only a small part is rough. Cheyenne bids well 
to become one of the richest counties in the 
Panhandle. 



BOX BUTTE COUNTY 



CHAPTER I 
ORGANIZATION OF THE COUNTY 



Box Butte county had its first inception in 
the minds of its citizens during the summer 
months of 1886. The one thousand and eighty 
square miles now comprising Box Butte coun- 
ty was at that time the southern half of Dawes 
county. The reason of this was the great dis- 
tance from Chadron, the county seat. The av- 
erage distance was sixty miles, which the peo- 
ple were compelled to travel, by team or on 
horseback, in order to pay their taxes, serve on 
juries, and attend to their legal matters. The 
population of this territory had grown to be 
about three thousand people, which was prob- 
ably as great a number as lived in the northern 
half of the county. 

A convention was held during the summer of 
1886, and at that convention it was decided that 
steps be taken to secure a division of Dawes 
county and that the new county erected in the 
south half, if division succeeded, should be 
called Box Butte county. Committees were ap- 
pointed, petitions were circulated and unani- 
mously signed, asking the County Commission- 
ers of Dawes county to submit the question of 
county division to a vote of the people at the 
general election to be held in November of that 
year. The Commissioners granted the request, 
and at the November election a majority of the 
votes were cast in favor of division. The gov- 
ernor of Nebraska, Honorable John M. Thayer, 
issued a proclamation designating a special 
election, at which election the people of the 
new county were to choose a location for their 
county seat, and elect a complete set of county 
officers. 

Of the one thousand or more voters partici- 
pating in that election held thirty-four years 
ago, but few are still residents of the county. 
Among those recalled are E. I. Gregg, who 
with his good wife were very industrious in 
circulating the petition asking for county divi- 
sion. Other residents of Alliance who partici- 
pated in that, election are R. M. Hampton, F. 
M. Knight, Robert Garrett, John O'Keefe, Si 



Coker, Moses Wright, C. H. Underwood, 
Julius Atz, Jack Mettlen, Henry Clayton, 
George Gadshy, and possibly a few others. 

Prior to this special election, political conven- 
tions were held when Democrats and Republi- 
cans each nominated a complete ticket of candi- 
dates for the county offices. The country being 
rather thinly settled and no rapid means of 
communication, people were unable to become 
personally or intimately acquainted with the re- 
spective candidates, and apparently went to the 
polls and voted their party tickets. This re- 
sulted in the election of the entire Republican 
ticket. 

There were two candidates for the location 
of county seat: Nonpareil and Hemingford. 
They were two cross-road villages of about 
equal size, each having a couple of stores, 
blacksmith shop, bank, law and locater's of- 
fices, and Nonpareil had a newspaper and 
Hemingford had two. Nonpareil received a 
majority of votes and was declared the county 
seat of the new county. 

The county officers were as follows : County 
Clerk, George W. Clark ; Treasurer, Eli Ger- 
ber; Sheriff, Fred A Shonquist ; County At- 
torney, James H. Danskin ; Surveyor, Charles 
A. Barney; County Superintendent, N. S. 
Simpson ; Coroner, Doctor John Blood ; County 
Commissioners, James Barry, Louis C. De- 
Coudress, and a Delbert S. Reed. 

When the result of the election became 
known, Judge-elect Field drove to Chadron and 
there took the oath of office as County Judge, 
returned to Nonpareil and administered the 
oath of office to his associate officers. He ap- 
proved the bonds of the county commissioners, 
who immediately met in special session and 
commenced to plan to launch the new county 
upon its career as a struggling commonwealth. 
The first set of officers elected proved to be 
careful, able and painstaking officers. The 
county did not have a dollar in its treasury, 



200 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



not a dollar of tax had been levied, and its 
credit had yet to be established. 

Nonpareil, the County Skat 

The people of Nonpareil, as an inducement 
or bribe to the voters, had made a pre-election 
promise that in case Nonpareil was chosen as 
the county capital, that they, the people of 
Nonpareil would, at their own expense, erect 
a frame courthouse suitable to house the coun- 
iv officers and in which to transact the coun- 
ty's business. This promise they fulfiLled by 
erecting a flimsy frame structure, twenty by 
thirty feet in dimensions, one and a half stories 
in height. This building was not plastered, 
neither did it have a chimney, the floors were 
all rough boards, counters, tables and other 
furniture was manufactured out of rough 
sawn Pine Ridge lumber by local carpenters. 
A large fire proof safe, costing one thousand 
dollars was bought on long time payments, 
which the commissioners promised to pay 
when funds were derived from taxation. This 
was completed .in May or June of 1887. A 
small jail, containing two cells, built of two 
by four scantling securely spiked together and 
covered with a rought board roof was also 
erected. 

The first duty of County Clerk Clark was to 
take an assistant and go to Chadron and tran- 
scribe the records of the county which per- 
tained to the few tracts of deeded land, mort- 
gages, and other legal records, which were ne- 
cessary, and the basis of the present county 
records. There were verv few duties for the 
new county officers to discharge, outside of 
those of the Countv Clerk. Clerk of the Dis- 
trict Court, and the County Judge. There 
were no taxes collected during that year, and 
the County Treasurer spent a few days only 
of his time at the new county seat. 

This set of county officers were elected to 
serve for the remainder of the year 1887, a 
period of about nine months, and their suc- 
cessors were elected at the election held No- 
vember 4. 1S87. After a very warm political 
battle staged between the Republican and 
Democratic parties, with the Prohibitionists 
casting aboul thirty votes in the county, a 
ticket composed of both Democrats and 'Re- 
publicans was elected. The Pepublicans elect- 
ed Fred V Shonquist, Sheriff; A. L. Field, 
County Judee; Doctor W. II. Smith, Coroner; 
while the Democrats elected John O'Keefe, 
County Treasurer; [olm Leith, County Su- 
perintendenl : C. V Burlew, County Clerk ; and 
Thomas L. Irvine. Robert R. Ralls. Charles 
Nichols, Countv Commissioners. 



The upper story of the courthouse was fitted 
up as a court room, and the first term of Dis- 
trict Court for the new county was held in June, 
1887, with Honorable M. P. Kinkaid, our pres- 
ent congressman, as Judge, with A. L. Warrick 
official reporter. There were not many cases 
of importance tried at this term of court. 

Nonpareil continued to be the seat of coun- 
ty government until the first day of January, 
1891, a period of three and one-half years. 
The Burlington railroad having been built 
diagonally through the county during the 
spring and summer of 1889, passing through 
the new town of Alliance which had sprung 
up in the meantime, and the village of Hem- 




How the Court Hocse in Alliance, Nebraska, 

WAS MOVED TO HemINGFORII, THE NEW COUNTY 

Seat of Boy Butte County, by the 

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy 

Railroad 

ingford, and missing the county seat by a dis- 
tance of five miles, a movement was started 
seeking to locate the county seat on the rail- 
road. Petitions were circulated and largely 
signed, asking the County Commissioners to 
submit the question of re-location at a special 
election. This special election on the question 
of re-locating the countv seat was called for 
Tuesday, the 7th day of March, 1890. Three 
places were voted for at this election, namely : 
Alliance, Hemingford and Nonpareil. Neither 
of these places received the necessary three- 
fifths vote required for removal, so it was ne- 
cessary to call a second special election, which 
was done by the Commissioners, and the elec- 
tion held on Tuesday, the 8th day of April, 
1890. This election was also indecisive, al- 
though Nonpareil failing to receive the neces- 
sary two-fifths vote which would enable it to 
retain the county seat, dropped out as a can- 
didate, and, under the law, the decisive elec- 
tion went over until the general election in 
November. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



201 



Hemingford, Seat of Government 

At this election, Alliance and Hemingford 
were the opposing candidates and it was only 
necessary for one or the other to receive a 
bare majority of the votes cast to become the 
county seat on the first day of January fol- 
lowing. This election was the most bitterly 
fought contest that ever occurred in the coun- 
ty 

Following a tacit agreement or understand- 
ing, which had been entered into between the 
officials of the Burlington 



The people of Alliance were sorely disap- 
pointed and felt very bitter at the opposition, 
especially the action of the railroad company, 
and were at first disposed to not abide by the 
decision of the voters. Their first plan was to 
seize the county records from the flimsy court- 
house at Nonpareil, convey them to Alliance 
by force of arms, contest the election in the 
hope that by showing that fraudulent votes 
had been cast they might eventually reverse 
the decision rendered at the polls by appeal 
to the courts. This plan was not put into op- 
ration because they learned that the Burling- 




County Court House. Alliance. 



sidary corporation, the Lincoln Land Com- 
pany, parties of the first part, and the respec- 
tive citizens of Alliance, parties of the sec- 
ond part, it was agreed and understood that 
the new town of Alliance should be made a di- 
vision point and shops established, which fac- 
tors would be the foundation for a thriving 
city, and that Hemingford should be given the 
county seat, which would make of it a thriv- 
ing town ; and this arrangement would enable 
the Lincoln Land Company to make a market 
for its town lots in both towns, of which it 
was the owner. This agreement the railroad 
officials kept to the best of their ability, and 
as a result there were one hundred and twenty- 
six votes cast in Alliance in favor of Heming- 
ford for the county seat. This enabled Hem- 
ingford to win by a majority of sixteen votes. 



ton officials had an engine fired up and a coach 
attached, loaded with Burlington detectives, 
special agents, and other employees, which 
they intended using upon evidence that the 
mob had left Alliance. This special train was 
to have been run to Hemingford and the posse 
coin-eyed by team, a distance of five miles, to 
Nonpareil, and would be there to defend the 
seizure of the records upon the arrival of the 
raiding party. However, the then county of- 
ficials, of whom the author was one, supported 
by the sheriff. Eugene Hall, armed with Win- 
chesters guarded the records and had the raid- 
ers appeared they would have met a very warm 
reception. 

The county seat was moved from Nonpareil 
to Flemingford on January 1st. 1891. The 
county officials occupied temporary quarters 



202 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



from then until the May following, when the 
commodious courthouse which had been prom- 
ised by the people of Hemingford, backed by 
the Lincoln Land Company, was erected. 
Hemingford remained the county seat from 
the latter date until the month of March, 1899, 
when by a large majority vote of the people, 
cast at a special election held previously, it 
was moved to Alliance, where the officials oc- 
cupied temporary quarters in the Phelan Opera 
Block until the following July. 

Alliance, the County Seat 

In the meantime, the county commissioners 
purchased of the Lincoln Land Company, to 
whom it had reverted, the Hemingford court- 
house, at a price of fifteen hundred dollars. 
This was moved to the present court house site. 
at Alliance on the Burlington railroad, and 
was considered a great engineering feat. The 
building was forty-five by fifty-four feet with 
trussed roof forty feet in height. E. W. Bell, 
yet a resident of Alliance, superintended the 
removal. This court house was used for coun- 
ty purposes until November, 1914, when the 
present magnificent court house was completed 
and occupied. 

Towns and Villages of the County 

The first village in the county was old Non- 
pareil, first called Buchanan because many of 
the settlers in the immediate vicinity came 
from the town of Buchanan, Michigan, and 
desired that the new town be called after their 
old home town. This name was later changed 
to Nonpareil, at the instigation of Gene Heath, 
eidtor and publisher of its sole newspaper 
called "Gene Heath's Grip," in imitation of 
those frontier publications, "Bill Barlow's 
Budget" and "Bill Nye's Boomerang." Mr. 
Heath being a printer, the word Nonpareil 
which is the name of printers' type appealed to 
him as more euphonious than that of Buchan- 
an. He being a Democrat and influential with 
the then Democratic Administration, he was in- 
fluential enough to have the postoffice named 
in accordance with his wishes- — -Nonpareil. 

This village, at the time the county seat was 
located there, consisted of two general stores, 
a blacksmith shop, two livery barns, one bank, 
one newspaper, two hardware stores, a harness 
shop, one law office, one feed store, lumber 
yard and agricultural implement depot com- 
bined. Nonpareil ceased to exist soon after 
ili'- removal of tin- county seat to Hemingford 
in 1891, There is nothing left to mark its site 
frame school house which yet stands 



five miles south and one mile west of Heming- 
ford. 

The village of Hemingford was founded and 
was named by several natives of Canada, 
among whom were R. McLeod, J. W. Roberts, 
J. S. Paradis, J. K. Green, Joseph Hare and 
others. The name Hemingford was adopted 
because of old associations with a town of that 
name in Canada. The postoffice was called 
Carlyle, and was located four miles due east 
of the present site of Hemingford, and F. W. 
Milek was the first postmaster. This post- 
office, with the consent of the postal depart- 
ment, was transferred to Hemingford, but 
still retained its name Carlyle for a year af-^ 
terward. 

There was another yillage and postoffice 
fourteen miles due east of Hemingford, called 
Box Butte postoffice, but it never boasted but 
one store, postoffice, a blacksmith shop, a no- 
tary public, and real estate office. Like most 
villages, it had what was then well known as 
a Locator's office, a term now obsolete. The 
business of this functionary was to secure gov- 
ernment plats from the land office of the dis- 
trict in which he was located, showing the gov- 
trnment land unfiled upon, and which for a 
fee of ten to twenty-five dollars he would show 
to the prospective homesteader, prepare his 
filing papers and locate him upon the vacant 
quarter section which he selected. 

Another village was thirteen miles west 
and one mile north of Hemingford, which was 
called Lawn. It had a postoffice and store 
combined. 

The city of Alliance was unknown or un- 
heard of at the organization of the county. It 
really had its inception on the 27th day of 
May, 1887. On this date the department of 
public lands of the state of Nebraska, through 
its commissioner, advertised in the public press 
that all school lands in Box Butte county, 
which consisted of sections sixteen and thirty- 
six in each township would be offered for 
sale to the highest bidder on the following 
terms : 

No land would be sold for less than 
seven dollars per acre. 

If a bid of seven dollars was received 
and no higher bid made, it would be sold 
to the bidder on payment of one-tenth of 
the purchase price down, and the balance 
in twenty-one years at six percent interest. 
If not sold, it would be offered for lease 
at its appraised value, the lessee to pay 
six percent per annum on that appraise- 
ment which ranged from one dollar and a 
quarter to four dollars per acre. 
This auction was held in front of the Bank 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



203 



of Nonpareil, the court house not yet having 
been completed. Deputy- Land Commissioner, 
J. S. Scott, was in charge of this sale, but little 
of the land offered found buyers until section 
thirty-six, township twenty-five, range forty- 
eight, the present site of Alliance, was reached 
in its order. This brought on spirited bidding. 

J. B. Weston, representing the Lincoln Land 
Company, bid seven dollars per acre on the 
first forty acre tract offered for sale. This 
bid was immediately raised by J. H. Sigafoos, 
and the land was bid up and finally sold to J. 
B. Weston for forty-three dollars per acre. 
Bidding on other forty acre tracts was just as 
spirited, being sold to the same purchaser for 
prices ranging from thirty-three to forty dol- 
lars per acre. Finally the last forty acre tract, 
it being where South Alliance is now located, 
was dropped to Mr. Sigafoos at a price of 
thirty-eight dollars per acre. 

The high price which this land brought was 
convincing proof to the people of western Ne- 
braska that upon the arrival of the Burlington 
railroad then building westward, this would 
be made an important division point with shops 
and other things calculated to make a large 
and thriving city, all of which expectations 
have been realized. 

The purchase of this school section at the 
land sale deeded it to the Lincoln Land Com- 
pany. In the hope of counting on the building 
of the city, people came from different parts 
of Nebraska and surrounding states to the em- 
bryo town, but the Lincoln Land Company re- 
fused to plat a town site and offer the lots 
for sale until after the arrival of the railroad. 

These people congregated into a mushroom 
town or community on the deeded land of 
Samuel A. Smith, just east of the present town, 
where the dump ground and pest house are 
now located. This was named Grand Lake, 
and during the late summer of 1887 it became 
a typical western village of probably a thou- 
sand people. It had four banks, two news- 
papers, several general merchandise stores, 
livery stable, hotels, a blacksmith shop, and 
residences, all housed in rude structures built 
of rough Pine Ridge lumber, supplemented 
by canvas. 

The railroad grade of the Burlington which 
had been rapidly pushed westward during the 
spring and summer of this year from Anselmo, 
closely followed by the laying of rails, reached 
Alliance about January 1st, 1888. A station 
was opened and named Alliance, the company 
refusing to recognize the name Grand Lake 
because of its similarity to that of Grand Is- 
land, which it was claimed would result in a 



confusion in train orders. F. M. Phelps, a 
resident of Alliance, was the first agent. 

Following this the town site was platted, re- 
corded and widely advertised throughout the 
east, and a sale of town lots in the coming me- 
tropolis of Alliance was held on the 25th day 
of February, 1888. To assist in bringing peo- 
ple to the new city, the Burlington railroad, 
through posters and the press advertised that 
they would run an excursion train from all 
Missouri river points to Alliance and return, 
and the fare for the rcmd trip would be five 
dollars. This brought a train load of pros- 
pective citizens, mechanics, artisans, merchants, 
hotel men, and included all the elements that 
generally rush to a new mining discovery or 
a new town. The little village of Grand Lake 
was overrun and was unable to adequately 
shelter or feed the train load of excursionists. 
Many men came already prepared to go into 
business, their stocks of goods were bought, 
lumber was in cars on sidetracks with which to 
erect buildings, there was an abundance of 
carpenters, plasterers and other workmen who 
had come with their tool boxes all prepared 
to build a city. 

At the lot sale, the first lot offered was the 
one where the First National Bank now stands. 
It brought fourteen hundred and fifty dollars, 
and was purchased by Porter Eihlers & Com- 
pany. This firm had been in the banking busi- 
ness in a temporary structure in the town of 
Grand Lake, and they immediately proceeded 
to erect on this lot a frame building of the same 
size as the present bank building. In this they 
opened the State Bank known as Porter Eihlers 
& Company. 

The next lot sold was directly opposite, 
where the Alliance National Bank now stands, 
and this was purchased by the Bank of Alli- 
ance, which later merged into the Alliance 
National Bank, and of which F. M. Knight 
was then cashier, and has remained in the 
hands of the original purchasers since that 
time. This lot was sold for one thousand and 
fifty dollars. 

The prices from these corners extending 
back were graded down where the lot upon 
which the present Chinese laundry is located 
sold for six hundred dollars. Some residence 
lots were sold in the vicinity of Sixth and 
Cheyenne Avenues at prices ranging from two 
hundred to three hundred dollars. 

The building of a town immediately com- 
menced, there being an abundance of lumber, 
nails, hardware, lime and other building ma- 
terials on hand with a large supply of skilled 
workmen. The first eight business blocks 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



from the depot northward were rapidly chang- 
ed from raw prairie into a bustling town. More 
than one hundred buildings were under con- 
struction at the same time. As soon as they 
were roofed over the people from Grand Lake 
began moving into them so that by the Fourth 
of July of that year Alliance probably had 
a population of two thousand people. 

At this time Alliance had no form of civil 
government, but it realized that this was neces- 
sary. After a lapse of a few months a mass 
meeting was held and it was decided to incor- 
porate as a village under the laws of the state. 
A petition was presented to the county com- 
missioners asking that it be incorporated under 
the name of the village of Alliance and that 
five village trustees be appointed to serve until 
the following April when a regular election 
would be held and regular trustees elected 
thereat. The first board of trustees consisted 
of F. M. Sands, J. C. Weeter. C. F. Grant, 
W. (',. Simonson, and F. YV. Markham. 

Alliance continued under the village form 
of government until 1891 when it changed to a 
city of the second class with a mayor and 
four councilmen. It was divided into two 
wards. The first ward comprised the territory 
lying west of Box Butte Avenue, and the sec- 
ond all that lying east of Box Butte Avenue. 
Frank H. Smith was Alliance's first mayor. 
Mr. Smith was chief clerk to the division su- 
perintendent of the Burlington, J. R. Phelan. 
He was succeeded by R. M. Hampton as may- 
or, who filled that position during the instal- 
lation of the city's svstem of waterworks in 
1892. 

Alliance remained a terminus of the Burling- 
ton railroad from January, 1888, until the 
track was laid northwestward in September, 
1889. During this year and a half, being the 
rail head, it was a very lively place. All ma- 
terial for the building of Belmont tunnel, cul- 
vert pipe, machinery for the Newcastle coa 
mines and supplies for the grading camps from 
Alliance to Newcastle was freighted by team 
from Alliance out along the right of way. 
Hundreds of men were shipped out from east- 
ern centers to work on the grade and Alliance 
with its six saloons did a thriving business 
with hoboes. However, it was fairly orderly, 
considering the character of its floating popu- 
lation, only one or two murders being com- 
mitted during that time. 

Alliance continued to grow and thrive until 

the panic and hard limes of 1893 and 1894, 

when for a few years it seemed to conic to a 

standstill — neither increased nor decreased in 

. n new life in the spring 

'Inn the Burlington commenced to 




HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



205 



build southward when the Platte Valley line 
was built and later in the summer extended 
on southward to Denver. Since that time it 
has had a steady and healthy growth, until at 
the present time it has become a leading city 
in western Nebraska, with a population of over 
five thousand people. 

Agricultural and Live Stock Industries 

This is primarily an agricultural country, 
ninety-five percent of its total area is tillable. 
Only about sixty percent of this is in actual 



hogs during the summer season and the corn 
to finish them in the fall. Hog cholera is 
unknown. 

Dairy products are of much importance. 
The county has one large creamery, which 
uses a large percent of the native product, but 
considerable is shipped to outside factories. 
The Snake Creek valley, having an average 
width of five miles and a length of thirty miles, 
produces a great deal of w r ild hay. On the 
table lands straw, corn fodder, alfalfa and 
kaffir corn are used for rough feed. Many 
farmers have adopted the silo method of pre- 




High School, Alliance 



cultivation, the remainder being unbroken 
prairie used for pasture when used at all. The 
soil is rich, porous and very productive. It- 
contains potash, sufficient for renewal and fer- 
tilization, and is consequently inexhaustible. 
Land farmed continuously for thirty years 
produced greater crops the last year than the 
first. The soil is especially adapted to the pro- 
duction of potatoes, it being sufficiently sandy 
and loose to enable them to reach enormous 
growth, and being raised without irrigation, 
they are of splendid quality and keep well into 
the following year. 

The next largest crop is of small grain — 
wheat, oats, rye and barley all making satis- 
factory yields. Corn is a secondary crop, but 
the yield is continuously increased so that 
many more hogs are raised than formerly. 
Alfalfa is increasing in acreage and importance 
every year. This crop is used to pasture the 



serving ensilage. The soil is very easily cul- 
tivated and the surface being very nearly level, 
farm labor is very light compared with that 
of eastern states. 

Cattle, horses, and hogs are raised. The 
cattle industry is of considerable importance. 
The cattle grow rapidly on the nutritious feed 
produced and are sigularly free from all di- 
seases. 

Manufacturing and Industrial Plants 
Owing to the great distance from the coal 
fields, the county has hut little manufacturing. 
Harness, saddle, tinware, water tanks, ice 
cream and butter are manufactured in suffi- 
cient quantities to supply the adjacent terri- 
tory. 

Railroads 
Box Butte county has hut one railroad. The 
Burlington traverses it from southeast to 



21V, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



northwest, havinga mileageof forty-two miles, 
with a branch line connecting with the Platte 
Valley branch and Denver connections with a 
total mileage of fourteen miles. It main- 
tains a division station with a division superin- 
tendent, also offices of a general superinten- 
dent having supervision over four other divi- 
sions, large roundhouse with shops for the re- 
pair of its rolling stock. About eight hundred 
employes in normal times are on the pay- 



tion of their children. These pioneer schools 
first were conducted in a small room of a 
private house, in a dugout, or any other shel- 
ter that was available until school houses could 
be erected. As the county grew, these primi- 
tive school houses gave way to modern frame 
school houses equipped with the best appliances 
for teaching, and all school books are provided 
for the pupils at public expense. There are 
now two graded high schools in the county, 




School, Alliance 



roll, which averages one hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars per month, and is one of the 
county's principal resources. 

Public Institutions 

There are no state of public institutions lo- 
cated in this county. 

• Schools 

The people of Box Butte county have al- 
ways been deeply interested in having the best 
schools that their means could afford. The 
very earliesl settlers considered the school of 
sufficient importance that among their first 
public act- was to organize school districts, tax 
and provide schools for the educa- 



the one at Hemingford occupying two build- 
ings and employing five teachers. The public 
schools of Alliance occupy three large com- 
modious buildings with a superintendent and a 
corps of thirty teachers. More than one thou- 
sand pupils are enrolled. 

The great interest which the people of the 
county take in their schools, and the import- 
ance with which they are considered, is shown 
by the fact that more than one-half of the 
money raised by taxation in the county is used 
for the support of its schools. 

In addition to the public schools there is 
located at Alliance St. Agnes' Academy, a 
parochial school, which is graded and has the 
same course of instruction as the high school, 
with an average attendance of two hundred 
and twenty-five pupils. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



207 



CHAPTER II 



CHURCHES — THE PRESS — THE 



PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESSES 



Practically all of the leading church de- 
nominations have organizations and church 
buildings in the county. The Catholics have 
churches in Alliance and Hemingford and 
Lawn. The Methodists have churches at Al- 
liance, Hemingford, and at Fairview, twelve 
miles northeast of Alliance. The Baptists, 
Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Seventh Day 
Adventists, and Lutherans each maintain a 
church in Alliance. The Congregationalists 
have a church in Hemingford. 

The people are sufficiently interested in re- 
ligious matters to support their ministers, as 
well or better than in other communities of 
much larger population. 

The Salvation Army maintains a corps at 
Alliance, being one of only five in the entire 
state of Nebraska. 

Press 

The press has played an important part in 
the development of the county, and has had 
many ups and downs, the number of papers 
published varying at different times. 

At the organization of the county in 1887, 
there were three papers published, which is 
the same number as at present. At Heming- 
ford was published "The Gleaner," with Jo- 
seph Hare as editor and Publisher. The "Box 
Butte Rustler" was published by Charles A. 
Burlew, while "Gene Heath's Grip" flourished 
at Nonpareil. Soon after this "The Gleaner" 
was purchased by Gilman Brothers, moved to 
Nonpareil, and its name changed to that of 
"Box Butte County Republican:" It survived 
one year when it gave up the ghost. 

During the summer of 1887 the "Northwest- 
ern Times" was established at Nonpareil by 
H. B. Fetz and W. E. Hitchcock. After two 
months publication it was moved to Grand 
Lake and its name changed to "Grand Lake 
Times." In the spring of 1888 it was again 
moved to the present town of Alliance and the 
name changed to "Alliance Times," and con- 
tinued under the same ownership and manage- 
ment until 1892 when it was purchased by 
H. J. Ellis, and continued under his ownership 
and management for a number of years. Dur- 
ing this time it was made a semi-weekly and 
by Mr. Ellis sold to the present owner, Ben 
J. Sallows. It has continuously increased in 
influence and importance for a period of thirty- 
four years. 

The "Box Butte Rustler" ceased to exist 



about 1890, and its printing machinery was 
moved to Berea, and Mr. and Mrs. B. W. Ray- 
mond established the "Berea Tribune" which. 
after a dozen issues, also ceased to exist. 

The original Nonpareil newspaper, "Gene 
Heath's Grip" was moved to Alliance in 1890, 
purchased by F. M. Broome, and its name 
changed to the "Pioneer Grip." It continued 
being published until about 1902 when this 
business was taken over by its rivals and the 
printing outfit sold to Crawford parties. 

"The Guide" was established by J. S. Para- 
dise at Hemingford in 1889 and its publication 
continued there until the spring of 1898, when 
it was moved to Alliance where it was pub- 
lished for one year and was then absorbed by 
its rivals. 

Hemingford was without a newspaper about 
a year when the "Hemingford Herald" was 
established by T. J. O'Keefe. This was moved 
to Alliance in 1901 and the name changed to 
the "Alliance Herald." Mr. O'Keefe later, sold 
it to J. W. and L. C. Thomas, who continued 
its publication until 1920, when it passed, 
into the hands of the present owners, Edwin 
M. and George L. Burr, who publish it as the 
"Alliance Semi-Weekly Herald." 

There is one paper now published at Hem- 
ingford known as the "Hemingford Ledger" 
which is owned and published by A. M. Vance. 
Other publications in the county with a brief 
existence were the "Alliance Argus" and the 
"Alliance Nezvs." 

Bench and Bar 

The bar of Box Butte county had its or- 
ganization in 1887, and consisted of four law- 
years. James H. Danskin and C. W. Gilman 
were located at Hemingford, wdiile W. G. 
Simonson and A. L. Field practiced at Non- 
pareil. During the year 1887 their numbers 
were increased by admission to practice of 
R. M. Hampton, W. J. McCandless. J. V. 
Parker and Smith P. Tuttle. Among the law- 
yers arriving in the county and engaging in 
practice during the next two years were B. F. 
Gilman, J. P. Arnott, R. C. Noleman, Charles 
T. Jenkins and William Mitchell. Mr. Mitch- 
ell has been in continuous and successful prac- 
tice for more than a third of a century, and is 
at present the Dean of the Box Butte County 
Bar. 

The present bar consists of the law firms of 
Boyd, Metz and Meyer, Mitchell and ('..-mi/. 



;, |8 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Burton and Reddish, with L. A. Berry. F. A. 
Bald, E. C. Barker. B. E. Romig and Lee 
Basye as single practitioners. 

Box Butte county was originally a part of 
the twelfth judicial district which was created 
by the legislature of 18S7. when the Honorable 
Moses 1'. Kinkaid was appointed by the gover- 
nor as first judge of the new- district. He 
continued in this capacity until 1892 when the 
district was given an additional judge, and the 
Honorable Alfred Bartow, of Chadron was 
made the colleague of Judge Kinkaid. This 
district was about three hundred miles in 
length, extending from the east line of Holt 
county to the Wyoming state line. Judge 
Bartow was succeeded by Honorable W. H. 
Westover in 1896, who lias held the office 
and is still judge of this district. Judge West- 
over had for his colleague, after the election 
of fudge Kinkaid to Congress, Judge J. J. 
Harrington of O'Neill, Nebraska. Later the 
district was divided. Judge Harrington pre- 
siding over the new district created from the 
eastern half, and Judge Westover presiding 
over the new district created from the western 
half. 

In the county court, the first judge was A. 
L. Field, who served two terms. Me was 
succeeded by Judge D. K. Spacht, who served 
two terms, followed by James H. H. Hewitt, 
win i served two terms and was succeeded by 
Bruce Wilcox, who served one term and was 
succeeded by D. K. Spacht. who served one 
term, followed by Abel Hill, who died after 
a few months service and was succeeded by B. 
F. Gilman, who served his unexpired term, 
followed by L. A. Berry, who filled 
the position for eleven years. Uwing to ill 
health, Judge Berry retired January 1st, 1917, 
and was succeeded by Ira F. Tash, the pres- 
ent incumbent. 

Medic \i. Profession 

The medical profession at the organization 
of the county was represented by Dr. John 
Blood, practicing at Hemingford, Dr. W. H. 
Smith looking after the physical ills of the 
people of Nonpareil and vicinity. Dr. Blood 
was a middle age man, wore a silk hat and full 
beard, drove a fasl stepping team and made 
quite a dignified appearance, and it was gen- 
erally understood thai hi- knowledge of the 
horse far exceeded his knowledge of the human 
anatomy. Dr. Smith was a young practitioner 
just mil of schooli whose principal claim of 
distinction was a splendid nerve. 

The first amputation performed in the coun- 
ty wa< by Dr. Smith, who amputated the arm 



of one Albert Nelson who was the victim of a 
hunting accident. The doctor was not sup- 
plied with up-to-date surgical instruments and 
his kit was especially deficient in saws, so he 
called upon a local carpenter, Mr. D. J. Lahr, 
who consented to file one of his fine carpenter 
saws to such a state that the doctor used it in 
amputating Nelson's arm. Nelson being of 
strong physique survived the operation. 

During the summer of 1887, Dr. H. B. 
Miller joined the profession and opened an 
office at Nonpareil. The next amputation was 
performed by Doctors Smith and Miller, who 
amputated the limb of William Morton, a 
victim of a gun shot wound, and as they con- 
sumed most of a forenoon Morton did not sur- 
vive the shock and died that night. 

Dr. F. M. Knight was a regularly accredited 
practitioner, but being engaged in the more 
remunerative business of banking, practiced 
but very little ; and, as he used homeopathic 
remedies, he never was accused of doing any 
harm, though he may not have done any good. 

Dr. W. H. Smith is practicing in Los An- 
geles, California, while Dr. H. B. Miller is 
practicing in Lincoln Nebraska, and Dr. John 
Blood is dead. The oldest practitioner now 
practicing in the county is Dr. Luther W. Bow- 
man, who came to Alliance in 1888 and has 
been in continual practice since that time. An- 
other of the pioneer doctors now retired was 
Dr. W. K. Miller, yet living, who had an ex- 
tensive practice and served the county in the 
capacity of coroner for several terms. 

There are now eleven members of the med- 
ical profession in active practice, all of whom 
seem to be quite busy, and with the facilities 
afforded by St. Joseph's Hospital, which has a 
capacity sufficient to care for fifty patients, the 
health of the community is well cared for. 

Banking and Finance 

\\ hen the county was organized there were 
three hanking institutions in operation within 
its borders. These were the Box Butte Bank. 
of which C. A. Burlew was president and 
manager; The Farmers' & Merchants' Bank, 
of which B. F. Jones was president and E. A. 
Coates was cashier, both located at Heming- 
ford. Nebraska; and the Bank of Nonpareil, 
located at Nonpareil, with F. M. Sands, presi- 
dent. II. C. Hashoff. cashier, and F. M. Knight. 
assistant cashier. Each of these three banks 
was capitalized at five thousand dollars. The 
two former went into voluntary liquidation. 

The Bank of Nonpareil, when Nonpareil 
ceased to exist, hecame the Bank of Grand 
I. .ike. later the Bank of Alliance, which was 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



209 



merged into the Alliance National Bank and is 
still operated with F. M. Knight as president, 
who has been connected with it since its organi- 
zation in 1886, and is therefore the dean of 
banking circles in the county. 

The next oldest bank in existence was started 
in Alliance and called the American Bank, op- 
erated under a state charter, which later ab- 
sorbed the Citizens' Bank, and also took over 
the business of Porter, Eihlers & Company, 
and was continued under this name until the 
fall of 1889, when it was reorganized with the 
same officers and became the First National 
Bank of Alliance. Its first president was O. 
M. Carter, with R. M. Hampton, cashier and 
D. M. Forgan, assistant cashier. Mr. Hamp- 
ton is now president of the institution and has 
been in the banking business continuously since 
1888. 

Among the other banks of the county was 
the Bank of Hemingford, which was establish- 
ed in 1888 and failed in 1895, and the Box 
Butte Banking Company of Alliance, which 
was founded in 1888 and failed in 1896. These 
were the only two bank failures in the county 
since its organization. The financial interests 
of the county are now cared for by seven 
banks : The Alliance National Bank, the First 
National Bank, First State Bank and Guardian 
State Bank, all of Alliance; the First State 
Bank, First National Bank, and Farmers' State 
Bank, of Hemingford. 

Social and Fraternal Organizations 

The first fraternal organization to organize 
in the county was the Knights of Pythias, who 
instituted Clarion Lodge No. 88 in the second 
story of the courthouse at Nonpareil in Sep- 
tember, 1888. This lodge was later moved to 
Alliance, but after some years was discon- 
tinued. 

The next fraternal organization was that 
of the Masons. A preliminary meeting was 
held in November of that year, in the second 
story of the wooden building on the north side 
of west Third Street in Alliance, which is now 
used as a cream station. Word was sent out 
and about all the Masons living in Box Butte 
county assembled in this small hall and selected 
a committee to secure a dispensation from the 
Grand Lodge of the state. This petition was 
signed by the requisite number of Master Ma- 
sons in good standing. Reverend Henry J. 
Brown, a Presbyterian minister hitched his 
two horse tandem to a high wheeled cart, and 



he and Thomas Shurtz drove to Hay Springs 
and secured the approval of that lodge. This 
petition was presented to the Grand Lodge and 
a dispensation issued in January, 1889, author- 
izing Alliance Lodge to confer degrees. 

The first officers were : Henry J Brown, 
Worshipful Master; John Carman, Senior 
Warden ; David Peters, Junior Warden ; J. W. 
Phillips, Secretary; and H. W. Axtell, Treas- 
urer. 

In July, 1889, a charter was granted and the 
name of Alliance Lodge No. 183, A. F. & A. 
M., assigned, which has had a continuous ex- 
istence since that time, and has grown to a 
membership of over three hundred and fifty, 
owns and occupies a fine three story temple at 
the corner of Laramie Avenue and Third 
Street in Alliance, which is also used by Sheba 
Chapter No. 54, Royal Arch Masons, Bnena 
Commandery No. 26, Knights Templar, Aloy- 
ah Chapter No. 185, Order of the Eastern 
Star, and Adoniram Lodge No. 6, Scottish 
Rite Masons, with the institution of a consis- 
tory and the order of the Mystic Shrine in the 
near future. 

The next oldest fraternal order was that of 
the Independent ( Irder of Odd Fellows Lodge 
No. 168 being established in Alliance, with 
another lodge of the same order at Heming- 
ford. The Odd Fellows also own their own 
hall on West Third Street in Alliance. 

The most recent fraternal organization to 
organize in Alliance is that of the Knights of 
Columbus, who have a large and growing mem- 
bership with their hall located on Box Butte 
Avenue between Third and Fourth. 

The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks 
was organized in 1904 with William Mitchell 
as its first Exalted Ruler. It has had a pros- 
perous existence and continuous growth and 
is numbered 961. It now has a membership of 
over six hundred and owns a handsome build- 
ing located on Box Butte Avenue between 
Fourth and Fifth Streets. 

Other fraternal orders which have had more 
or less precarious existences are the Modern 
Woodmen, Woodmen of the World. Ancient 
Order of United Workmen, Highlanders, 
Eagles, Owls, Modern Brotherhood of Ameri- 
ca, as well as other fraternal labor organiza- 
tions. 

Among the social organizations are The 
Rotary Club, Tost M., Travelers' Protective 
Association, Lions Club, Country Club. Wom- 
ans Club, P. E. O., while all of the churches 
have their guilds and aid societies. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 

CHAPTER III 

MILITARY HISTORY 



I >wing to its isolation, the county has never 
taken any important part in the wars which 
have occurred since its organization. The 
first military unit formed in the county was 
a troop of cavalry organized at Nonpareil dur- 
ing the summer of 1888 and named in honor of 
the then governor of the state, John M. Thay- 
er. This consisted of forty-two members. 
Temporary organization was formed by elect- 
ing A. L. Field Captain ; F. M. Sands, First 
Lieutenant ; Fred A. Shonquist, Second Lieu- 
tenant ; and Michael Shindler, Third Lieu- 
tenant. There was really no place for third 
lieutenant, but as Mike was the only man in 
the company who had any cavalry experience, 
this honorary position was created in order to 
give him authority. After a sergeant major 
and other sergeants numbering up to the 
eighth, with a corresponding number of cor- 
porals, musicians, saddlers, and farriers were 
appointed, there were just two left as privates. 
These were James H. Danskin and Ira E. Tash, 
who, because they could not have any office, 
refused to be sworn into service. This broke 
up the company, as the officers did not have 
anyone to command, but all of the members 
retained their sabers and several of them still 
have them as souvenirs of their first experi- 
ence as warriors. 

The Spanish-American war of 1898-99 did 
not effect the county as there was no company 
formed and no one from the county enlisted 
for service in that conflict. Since then a num- 
ber of those who participated in that war have 
become residents of the county and maintain 
a Spanish-American war veterans organiza- 
tion or camp in Alliance. 

Indian Scare 

The nearest Box Butte county ever came to 
war was in the winter of 1890-91, when the 
Sioux Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation, 
seve,nty-five miles north became crazed over 
what the) believed to be the coming of a 
Messiah, whom they thought would, with their 
help, drive all the white settlers from the west- 
ern county, bring back the buffalo and the 
game, .mil organized for a general massacre of 
the white settlers in the surrounding country. 
Fortunately there was a deep snow at this 
time win.]] delayed their movements until the 
United States Army, commanded by General 
Nelson A. Miles, could throw a cordon of 



troops around the reservation, and after the 
battle of Wounded Knee, fought between the 
Seventh United States Cavalry and a band of 
Indians commanded by Chief Big Foot, in 
which one hundred and fifty Indians and about 
twenty officers and soldiers of the cavalry were 
killed, the uprising was ended. The Nebras- 
ka militia was called to arms and patrolled the 
state border north of Hay Springs, Rushville 
and Gordon. At Hemingford a company for 
protection was organized, armed with Win- 
chester repeating rifles and held themselves in 
readiness to defend the inhabitants of the coun- 
ty from threatened extermination at the hands 
of the blood-thirsty Sioux Indians. 

Box Butte County's Part in the 
World War 

This county did its full share in furnishing 
men and the sinews of war for the World 
War of 1917-18-19. A volunteer company 
was formed at Alliance, known as Company 
"G" of the Fourth Nebraska National Guard 
which entered the federal service and became 
later Battery "D" of the 127th United States 
Field Artillery. This organization spent nearly 
a year at Camp Cody, New Mexico, and was 
a part of the 34th or Sandstorm Division 
which reached France in September, 1918, but. 
as an organization, they did not participate 
in active fighting. However, many of its mem- 
bers, by being assigned to other divisions, 
took part in the closing months of the fight- 
ing in the Argonne Forest and on other fronts ; 
the companv returning to Alliance in the spring 
of 1919. This company was commanded by 
Captain John B. Miller." 

There were seven hundred and ninety-five 
young men of the county, between the ages of 
twenty-one and thirty-one, enrolled in the 
selective draft. Of this number over three hun- 
dred were actually called into service, while 
there were many enlistments from this county, 
of which there is no record. No roster of the 
soldiers from Box Butte county, who were 
in the service of their country, has as yet been 
compiled. 

Four Box Butte county boys are known to 
have given up their lives for their countrv while 
serving in France. They were W. C. Herman, 
Charles Martin, Richard Haugh, who were 
killed on the field of battle, while Dean Harris 
died of injuries received in the service. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



The young men who served from Box Butte 
county, upon their return, immediately organ- 
ized a Post of the American Legion, which is 
No. 7 in the state. It is quite active and has 
a membership of about two hundred. Its first 
commander was Earl L. Meyer, who was suc- 
ceeded by J. B. Miller, and upon his removal 
from the city was succeeded by Joseph J. 
Dixon, its present commander. 

The people of Box Butte county were very 
patriotic during the period of the war. They 
oversubscribed their quota of every liberty 
loan, practically doubled the quota for the Red 
Cross, Y. M. C. A., Knights of Columbus, 
Salvation Army, and finally in the combination 
drive for funds. They maintained a local 
chapter of the American Red Cross and an 
active and efficient County Council of Defense, 
a Home Guard of uniformed and armed men, 
strictly enforced the food regulations, and as 
a whole rendered valuable services to the 
country. 

Early Settlers 

The first white men, other than the French 
trappers and traders to see Box Butte county, 
was that great flood of gold seekers who, in 
1878 to 1880, traversed its extreme width 
from south to north over the old Sidney trail 
from Sidney, Nebraska, to Deadwood, South 
Dakota, following the discovery of gold there 
in 1876. These men told the story of the level 
plains which they crossed between the Platte 
River on the south, and the Niobrara river on 
the north. These stories attracted the atten- 
tion of the owners of the great range herds 
farther to the eastward. 

The next people to visit it were the big cattle 
owners, their foremen and cowboys. They 
used the Box Butte plains as a summer range 
for the cattle which fattened on the nutritious 
grass with which the plains were thickly cov- 
ered. 

The federal government surveyed the lands 
in 1879 and 1880, after which they were 
thrown open to settlement. A few of the earli- 
est settlers came in over the Union Pacific as 
far as Sidney and then traveled overland fol- 
lowing the Sidney trail, and took up home- 
steads in the southwestern part of the county. 
On the completion of the Northwestern rail- 
road to Chadron in 1885, the railroad company 
advertised the rich lands tributary to it 
throughout the east, and there was a great in- 
rush of settlers, most of whom came over the 
railroad to Hay Springs, which was the near- 
est railroad point. 

The first filing made in Box Butte countv 
was in 1881 by A. H. McLaughlin, who filed 



on a preemption and tree claim on tin: Nio- 
brara river about four miles west of Marsland. 
Mr. McLaughlin has the distinction of being 
the oldest living settler of this county. During 
the time of his residence on this place, which 
he still owns, he was a resident of Sioux coun- 
ty, unorganized, which comprised the north 
half of the Panhandle of Nebraska, and Mr. 
McLaughlin transacted his official business at 
Sidney, the county seat of Cheyenne county, to 
which Sioux county was attached for adminis- 
trative and judicial purposes. The line be- 
tween Sioux and Cheyenne counties running 




Oscar O'Bannon and S. Avery, (right) was one 
of the Old Time Trappers in North- 
western Nebraska 



east and west is the south line of the present 
Box Butte county. Later, Sioux county was 
divided into three equal portions — the west- 
ern part named Sioux, the central part Dawes, 
and the eastern third Sheridan county. Sheri- 
dan and Sioux still retain their original boun- 
daries. Mr. McLaughlin, without changing 
his residence, then became a citizen of Dawes 
county and served as one of its county com- 
missioners. Chadron was the county seat. 
Upon the division of Dawes county into Dawes 
and Box Butte county, he then became a resi- 
dent of Box Butte county, without changing 
his residence. 

The early settlers of the county were mostly 
of American birth, with a sprinkling of near- 
ly all the principal nationalities. The Bohem- 
ians apparently were clannish and located in 
large numbers and were the dominant factor in 
Running Water, Lawn and Liberty precincts. 
There were a great many of German birth 
scattered over the county, without there being 
sufficient number to be called a German set- 
tlement in any one particular place. This was 



!12 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



true of the [rish, excepl that a number of fam- 
ilies—the Collins. Mahoneys, Shays, ' >'Maras 
and Silks settled in one neighborhood in Box 
Butte precinct. There was quite a settlement 
of Norwegians east of Hemingford. There 
were five "families of Danes congregated to- 
gether a few miles west of Nonpareil. Four 
of these families are still residents of the 
county and with the increase in the families 
can buast of being the only nationality which 
now has more representatives than they had 
at the time the county was organized. 

The pioneers probably endured more hard- 
ships than fell to the lot of their brothers who 
settled the middle and eastern states. While 
they had no forests to clear or stones to re- 
move in order to make a home they had but 
little to build that home with. Ninety-seven 
percent of the houses which sheltered the first 
settlers were erected out of native sod. The 
typical settler usually arrived in a covered 
wagon, with a crate of chickens tied on be- 
hind, leading a cow, together with a breaking 
plow, a spade, axe and a few primitive tools. 
Upon arriving at the place he had selected for 
his homestead, he usually unloaded his wagon, 
removed the wagon box, left the wife and 
children to get along as best they could there 
while he, with the running gears of the wagon, 
went to the Pine Ridge, fifty miles away, to 
secure ridge poles, some rough boards and 
fire wood. Accompanied by one or two neigh- 
bors who assisted in loading the logs and 
doubling teams up steep hills, they returned 
after a few days. Then, hitching on the break- 
ing plow he turned a quantity of sod which 
he cut into three foot lengths with the spade, 
carried and erected the walls of their future 
habitation, placing the ridge poles upon this, 
covi red with a layer of boards or poles, upon 
which he placed a layer of sod with the grass 
side down, thus forming a rude shelter from 
the elements. The same process was followed 
in a sod stable erected to shelter the team and 
cow. lie usually had to travel several miles 
ring or neighboring stream and haul 
water in a barrel for household use until such 
time as a well could be put down. 

Practically all of the supplies had to be haul- 
ed from Hay Springs. Of course, the first 
year no crops could be produced, except a 
small amount of sod corn; but later the first 
settlers were able to earn some money by 
breaking out. tending and planting tree claims 
for non-residents and erecting houses for those 
who happened to have more money than 
led to depend whol- 
ly for their supply of fresh meal U] 

1 jack- rabbits, which were abundant, 



with now and then a deer ; but fresh pork was 
an unknown quantity, there being no corn or 
other fattening food produced upon which 
hogs could be raised. There was also a scarc- 
ity of material with which to make enclosures 
for the hogs. One settler tried the expedient 
of building a pig pen out of sod, but on leav- 
ing home one Sunday for a call upon a neigh- 
bor some miles distant and returning after 
dark, found that the family pig had rooted a 
hole through the sod, invaded the house and 
crawled into the family bed. 

The settlers managed to find some social 
enjoyment by being mutually helpful to each 
other, organizing Sunday schools, holding 
prayer meetings, and sometimes religious serv- 
ices with a sermon delivered by an itinerant 
minister, and in the more thickly populated 
settlements by having dances and parties dur- 
ing the long winter evenings. 

Notwithstanding the hardships, the health 
of the early settlers was very good — very few 
deaths occurred from diseases and not many 
from accidents. Among the accidents of the 
early days, which were singularly free from 
fatalities, was that which occurred at the home 
of Charles Schilling, northeast of Heming- 
ford. He with his large family lived in quite 
a large sod house with a leanto kitchen in the 
rear, back of which was a cave cellar. An 
eighteen hundred pound horse belonging to 
his neighbor, Frank Porter, got out of his stall 
one Sunday night, wandering over to Neighbor 
Schilling's, first walked on the cave cellar and 
from that to the leanto and from there to the 
main part of the house. His weight was too 
much for the ridge pole, which broke, and pre- 
cipitated him bottom side up down among the 
soundly sleeping Schilling family. The kick- 
ings and squealings of the horse led the rude- 
ly awakened family to believe that the world 
had come to an end. Air. Schilling finally suc- 
ceeded in getting the horse onto his feet, led 
him out of the front door, and lighting the lamp 
discovered that the damage was one hole in 
the roof, the complete wreck of two bed steads, 
two partitions knocked out, and one boy with 
a scalp wound and a skinned heel. The neigh- 
bors turned out the next day and put a new 
sod roof on the house, and Mr. Potter paid the 
doctor for coming out and attending to the 
boy's wound-, and the incident was soon for- 
gotten. 

Another accident which resulted fatally oc- 
curred at the home of Allan Bearss, in the 
western part of the county. While the family 
were surrounding the breakfast table one morn- 
ing, the ridge pole of their house, which was 
not of sufficient diameter to support the weight 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



213 



of the sod roof, suddenly snapped asunder, pre- 
cipitating tons of sod and roof boards down 
onto the family. Their little five year old 
girl was instantly killed. 

Another accident occurred when two Bo- 
hemians of unpronounceable names had taken 
a contract to dig a well on the homestead of 
William Wilmot, six miles west of Heming- 
ford. They had reached a depth of about 
sixty feet, were hoisting the earth out with a 
horse and rope which passed over a pulley, 
this pulley supported by three poles forming 
a triangle. The horse backed up and tumbled 
down the well on top of the digger, but as the 
horse filled the capacity of the well quite com- 
pletely, did not descend very rapidly and the 
digger was enabled to take advantage of what 
space the horse did not take up and escaped 
with his life. He was brought to the surface 
and the neighbors gathered to rescue the horse 
from the well. The fall had not killed him. so 
a strong rope was secured. Mr. Wilmot owned 
a large gray team. A rope was placed about 
the horse, the team attached to the other end, 
and he was hoisted to the surface ; but, through 
some miscalculation, he did not get into the 
clear. The gray team commenced to back up 
when Mrs. Wilmot, thinking they would be 
drawn into the well, and being one of their 
most valued possessions, seized a sharp butcher 
knife, rushed out and drew its edge across the 
taut rope, severing it, which precipitated the 
old horse to the bottom of the well a second 
time. This was his finish. The injured man 
raised himself on his elbow and said, "Dot 
was a horse on me." 

Another and fatal accident occurred in put- 
ting down a well northeast of Hemingford, 
when a colored man named Lewis, while plac- 
ing some curbing in a strata of sand at a depth 
of about a hundred feet, the curbing gave way, 
precipitating him to the bottom of the well, 
a further distance of fifty feet, with tons of 
the caving earth burying him there. It was too 
dangerous to attempt the rescue of the body, 
so the surviving wife mortgaged the home- 



stead for about four hundred dollars, made a 
contract with some experienced well diggers, 
who sank a new well some ten feet away from 
the old well, tunneled from the new to the old, 
rescued the body, brought it to the surface, 
and it was given decent interment. 

Box Butte 

The county derives its name from a large 
butte, located in the east central part of the 
county, which rudely resembles a box. The 
early French trappers named this Box Butte, 
pronounced "bute." butte being French for 
hill or elevation. The early cattle men called 
the country contiguous thereto the Box Butte 
country, to distinguish it from the White Clay 
country, and similarly named localities. It 
naturally followed that this should be selected 
as the name of the new county. 

There is no record of any battle ever having 
been fought in the county between the In- 
dians and United States troops, the nearest be- 
ing when a band of Indians left their reserva- 
tion in Colorado and started to return to the 
country from which they had been taken in 
the Dakotas. They were followed up by a 
company of soldiers under the command of 
Major Thornburg, who followed the trail to 
Bronco Lake near Alliance : and the trail seem- 
ing to scatter there, the command left their 
wagons, camp equipage, etc., while they scouted 
the sand hills to the south, believing the In- 
dians were hidden in some of the canyons. 
Upon their return to camp, they found the In- 
dians had visited it. carried off what provi- 
sions they could, and burned the remainder, 
together with the wagons, tents, and the rest 
of the outfit. This band was under the leader- 
ship of Chief Little Hog. They were later cap- 
tured and imprisoned in a stockade at Ft. 
Robinson, sixty miles to the northwest. The 
soldiers got tired of guarding them and one 
night left the gate to the stockade open and the 
Indians started to escape during the night, when 
the soldiers opened fire with their carbines and 
practically exterminated the entire band. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER IV 



CIVIL WAR VETERANS 



A roster of Civil War veterans officially pre- 
pared in the year 1891, showed the names of 
eighty-one men residing in the county, who 
wore the blue uniform of their country during 
the '60s. and now that a generation has passed 
this number has been lessened to barely a doz- 
en survivors. The ranks have been reduced 
principally by death, there being fifty-two 
graves of Civil War soldiers in Greenwood cem- 
etery at Alliance, and twenty-one at Heming- 
ford. A few have moved to other states, and 
those still remaining in the county in 1921 are: 

Albert Wiker, 11th Iowa Infantry, Alliance; 
Robert Garrett, 24th Iowa Infantry, Alliance ; 
Aaron Pool, 89th Illinois Infantry, Alliance ; 
Joseph B. Denton, 139th Pennsylvania In- 
fantry, Alliance ; James Dickey, 98th New 
York Infantry, Alliance; Elsa Vaughn, 8th 
Iowa Cavalry, Alliance ; Cal. H. Underwood, 
8th Missouri Infantry, Alliance; Fred Abley, 
6th Michigan Infantry, Hemingford ; Alvin M. 
Miller, 76th Illinois Infantry, Hemingford; 
Robert Anderson, 127th U. S. Colored In- 
fantry. Hemingford ; Augustin H. McLaugh- 
lin, 18th Iowa Infantry, Marsland ; Ambrose 
Hadley, 3d Rhode Island Infantry, Alliance ; 
Lewis R. Corbin, 83d Pennsylvania Infantry, 
Alliance. 

Concerning the boys in service in the great 
World War, a list has come to the editor in 
chief which is added to the splendid story of 
Ira L. Tash, the county editor. This list may 
not be complete, but is presumed to be. There 
were three ways open to entrance in the ser- 
vice for the government army : enlistment, vol- 
untary induction, and induction in the draft. 

There were seventy-two enlistments as fol- 
lows : 

Earl E. Acord, Harold W. Berg, Henry L. 
Coker, Albert A. Duncan, Matison P. Gaste- 
neau, Leon C. Ives, John Martin King, Clarence 
E. Levere, Norman A. McCorkle, Russell C. 
Miller, George J. Moscrip, Elmer F. Noe, 
George E. Ormsby, Ray Vernon Reddish, 
Horace H. Anderson, Don Brenaman, Donald 
Cooper, Daniel Elliott, William H. Hammond, 
John Henry Kane, John Spencer Knight, Frank 
Lyman Lewis. Ervin J. Macken, Ronald 
Moore, Robert W. Murphey, Martin J. Nolan, 
Wilbur F. Patterson, Clarence H. Reed. Elza 
I Barger, IVIerritt L. Chaffee. William 1''.. 
Davis, Louis l\. Federlin, Claude Hersch, 
E. Katon, Wincel Lackey, Glen Dale 
Locke, Leo Roscoe May, William Moravek, 



Archie E. Nickerson, Everett B. O'Keef, John 
Priess, Harry Roberts, Harvey Benjamin, John 
Tyler Claver, Floyd R. Donovan, John T. Fitz- 
gerald, Howard Oliver, Frederick A. King, Joe 
Lando, Roy A. McCluskey, Herbert E. Milan, 
Harrv A. Morrisey, Leo M. Nicolai, William 
L. O'Keefe, Gaylord H. Pry, Clifford T. Rob- 
erts, Howard Rucker, Charles F. Schafer, 
James H. Tally, Rex Truman, James E. 
Rundle, Guy E. Speaker, Lloyd Thomas, Wal- 
ter H. Voight, Frank M. Schmidt, George C. 
StoII, Chester M. Thompson, Chester Z. Wells, 
Pete Sciora, Dick W. Strong, Francis Town- 
send, Corbin V. Witty. 

In addition there were voluntary inductions 
numbering nineteen as given here : 

Howard H. Bennett, George A. Hielman, 
Carl Theo. Koester, George Dening Read, 
Walter W. Anderson, Lester G. Brittan, Le- 
land Bane Hirst, Roy E. Mendenhall, Chester 
H. Shreve, Raymond L. Bartlett, Gilbert Day- 
ton, John Albert Johnson, Norman M. New- 
berry, Donald W. Spencer, Abram E. Bennett, 
John E. Diesberger, Chester C. Johnson, Carl 
H. Powell, James E. Wiley. 

Those who were inducted through the reg- 
ular order of the draft are as follows : 

Alexander Barrv, Dwight L. Bennett, Leo 
Brandle, Charles A. Barlew, Alex C. Cahill. 
Harry Chester, Charles A. Conley, Petenon 
Domenico, William M. Ellis, Mike Abas, John 
P. Bayer, Conrad Blume, William J. Brandon, 
Floyd' S. Barnes, Peter F. Callahan, Hans P. 
Christensen, Louis E. Cottrell, Emil H. Dry- 
son, Ruben E. Elquist, William G. Bailey, 
Perley J. Beach, Malcolm M. Bogar, Archie 
Brown, Robert W. Burns, John Thomas Capps, 
Fred W. Cloud, Frederick E. Cutts, Robert 
Duchon, Jacob H. Elsea, Clarence O. Baldwin, 
Fred A. Beckenbach, John S. Bostrom, Fred- 
erick R. Brown, William H. Butler, William 
M. Casey, Harold I. Cochrane, Harrison H. 
Derric, James Earl Eaton, Henry G. Emde, 
X'eal W. Erskine, Martin L. Fitzgerald, Joe 
B. Frohnapfel, Harry Gavelick, Eddie W. 
Green, lames Theo. Halev, George A. Harry, 
< >rla I [awley, Cecil R. Henry, James G. Hib- 
bert, Vern Fred Hucke. John Jiackas, Adrian 
J. Kean, Joe Kelly, Charles E. Kincade, Fred 
Krebs, Loyd Langford, Edward P. Lewis, 
Paul Glenn Lundin, Peter L. Manewal. Charles 
E. Martin. William J. Eversall. David E. Flem- 
ing. James E. Ford, Thos. A. Golshannon, Wal- 
ler k. Griffith, Albert Hare. Richard Haugh, 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



Hugh L. Hawkins, Clarence R. Herbison, 
George Hoke, Ira Irby, Henning M. Johnson, 
Milton J. Keegan, Charles G. Keough, Ulyssess 
Kirk, Frank Kriz, junior, Forrest A. Lape, 
Joe Lopaze, Ernest D. McCarty, John J. Man- 
ion, Clay R. Melick, Jess G. Fairchild, Eugene 
S. Flickinger, Tom Ford, John E. Glass, Wil- 
bur L. Haggerty, George E. Hare, Roy Haugh, 
William F. Head, William C. Herman. Roy 
Holton, James R. Jacobs, Samuel Lee Johnson, 
Benjamin C. Keeler, Bedford Keown, Moritz 
Kittleman, Anthony M. Kuhn, Solomon H. 
Lazerus, Lyle W. Lore, Archie E. McNeill, 
Warren O. Marcy, Clarence E. Meek, Ponde 
S. Fileff, Wilard J. Freshla, Thomas W. 
Gahagan, Royce L. Glass, Leslie A. Hall, Obe 
Harris, Cyril Havalik, George R. Heckman, 
John H. Hessler, Fred Homan, Thomas A. 
Jewell, Gilbert F. Kays, James E. Keenan, Al- 
bert Kibler, Robert Klase, Olaf David Kuhn, 
Armond J. LeSage, Adam Jay Lortz, Arthur 
Macken, Fred L. Marsh, Chester A. Melvin, 
Fred J. Meyer. Jr., Martin Nelson, Ranson 
Herby Parks, ]ohn Peltz, Leslie L. Poole, 
Floyd Ratleff, Elvis James Rhein, William K. 
Robertson, Frank A. Rumer, Oakley D. Seeley, 
Irving E. Smith, John Ames Stastny, Fred 
Birdsell Sweeney, Jay H. Vance, Benjamin F. 
Ward, Joseph Williams, James J. Moore, John 
Earl Nolan, George H. Parsons, Montague H. 
Pendleton, Carl H. Powell, Wayne L. Redding- 
ton, Alonzo Rice, Jacob Rohrbouck, William 
M. Schoenmann, Tohn A. Shay, Charles A. 
Spacht, Alva P. Stockdale, William S. Tad- 
lock, Benjamin F. Vanderlas, Ralph M. Weid- 
hamer, Thomas E. Yeager, Carl Moscrip, Paul 
J. Norton, Edward R. Paul, Leslie Perry, 
Charlie A. Powell, Hans P. Renswold, Arthur 
Rice, John Rosendorfer, John Schwaderer, 
George H. Shaffner, Charles L. Squibbs, 
George F. Stockfleth, Charles Calvin Tash, 
Walter Walker, Alvah G. Whaley, Dwight F. 
Zediker, Max Moscrip. Frank E. O'Banion, 
Johnnie Payne. Archie T. Phillips, Charles W. 
Rathburn. LeRoy D. Reynolds, Lawrence E. 
Richardson. George C. Roth. Herman Seidler, 
Harrv W. Smith, Thomas L. Squibbs, John E. 
Sullivan, Leo J. Toohey, William F. Walker, 
George E. Whalev, Noble F. Zerbie. 

There were thirteen rejections and dis- 
charges from physical disability, and a service 
flag in Box Butte county should have five 
known gold stars, and perhaps there are others. 
Box Butte county contingent contained five 
colored men, one of whom died of injuries. 
The organization of a company at Alliance 
early in the war gave to Box Butte county vol- 
unteers, a number from outside the county lim- 
its, principally in close-by counties. 



Siege of Nonpareil 

The local Box Butte county historian tells 
of the affair of November, 1890, when there 
was a meeting in Alliance of the indignant citi- 
zens over the Burlington attitude on the county 
seat question. He also tells of the defense of 
the records as proposed by the county officials. 
A story has come to the editor-in-chief, which 
he will relate for what it is worth, and for 
the amusement of the old-timers who were in 
the conflict. I am sure that no one will accuse 
the writer of any unkind motives when the 
joke is upon his two especially good friends, 
Ira Tash and Eugene Hall. These men are 
referred to as guarding the county records in 
the anticipated siege of Nonpareil. 

When the meeting was held in Alliance, Su- 
perintendent Phelan of the Burlington had pres- 
ent, as he usually had at any gathering, a man 
who would report to him what "was doing." 
The man in this case "fanned it" to headquar- 
ters that the crowd was organized to go out 
and take the records, and as stated Phelan had 
the engine ready. Also the wires conveyed the 
information to Hemingford. The people of that 
town, quite a number of them, took shot guns 
and bulldog revolvers, and any other weapon 
handy and the "flimsy structure" known as the 
court house at Nonpareil was filled with the 
defenders, had the enemy appeared. But there 
had been a change of heart in the Alliance 
crowd, and the affair had been called off. 

After waiting until late at night part of the 
defenders at Nonpareil started home. When 
some distance away from the building, so the 
story goes, one who had started south to his 
home decided to try out his gun. At that 
someone in the court house yelled, "Alliance 
is coming," and the effect was said to be about 
the same as the effect upon the German west 
front, when the sound of "the Yanks are 
coming" came over the battlefield. Over and 
under each other they went, finding exits where 
they could. Several brave boys jammed in 
the doorway and tore out the side of the build- 
ing, others smashed the windows, carrying the 
sash away with them. In fact, it is said, that 
the north side of the building was a wreck, 
this side being in the direction of Hemingford. 
I have no doubt that Hall and Tash stood the 
test all right, but of the rank and file, one party 
reports at least four of them went down in one 
pile just outside the building, but they soon 
recovered their feet, and faded into the moon- 
light. 

What 'Gene Heath Meant 

As told in the local historian's chronicle of 
early events, 'Gene Heath succeeded in having 



216 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



the name of Buchanan changed to Nonpareil. 
'Gene, being a democrat could not quite recon- 
cile himself to the constant reminder of a 
wholly unsatisfactory democratic president of 
that name, who was the last in the antibellum 
days. 'Gene also believed in consistency, and 
Nonpareil was a small place. Nonpareil type 
is the smallest type known that will do for legal 
and official printing. To this idea the town 
was about as small as it could be, and yet be 
the legal municipal center of the county of 
Box Butte. 

Cattle Rustlers, Holliday and Cochran 

Fred Shonquist, the first sheriff of Box 
Butte county, was a prince of good fellows, 
but occasionally he undertook to put the dis- 
tillers out of business, by drinking everything 
in sight. At such times, instead of being a 
guardian of the law, he would shatter about all 
the statutes that had anything to do with good 
government. The Republicans renominated him, 
however, in 1890, but the Democrats had the 
good judgment to place in nomination Eugene 
A. Hall. Mall was elected and two times re- 
elected, serving six years. During that time, 
he was successful in breaking up the cattle 
rustling that had been carried on before and in 
assisting in the arrest of the murderer of young 
Ross at the state line south of Kimball. 

Two men named Holliday and Cochran had 
worked out a plan for rustling cattle over the 
state lines of Colorado, Wyoming and South 
Dakota, bringing them to western Box Butte 
county, and so mutilating the brands that they 
had few points to identify them as the original 
marks. There was a local man in Hemingford 
and another just over the line in Sioux county. 
who in some way stood in with the rustlers, al- 
though they had never been implicated in the 
transactions, so far as known. In 1891, a 
bunch of cattle were brought in from Colorado, 
and when they came out of the Holliday-Coch- 
ran branding pens it was with different brands. 

Jack Elliott, who was agent for the cattle 
association, located the cattle, and he and a 
banker named Sterling came up from Colo- 
rado to replevin them. Cochran and Holliday 
were both in Kimball, and the cattle were in 
charge of George Zimmerman, and two other 
nun. and were just over the line in Sioux 
county. It took a bit of maneuvering to get 
tin' cattle nver the line into Box Butte county, 
but it was accomplished in time, and then 
Sheriff Hall served the necessary writ, and 
Sterling and Elliott started for Hemingford 
with the cattle. It was nearly dark and they 
night cm the prairie. To their sur- 



prise in the morning Cochran and Holliday 
were on hand. It later developed that their 
friend in Hemingford had been advised, and he 
in turn had sent a wire to Holliday at Kimball. 
Cochran and Holliday had ridden the nearly 
one hundred miles from Kimball during the 
night. 

Sheriff Hall had gone home, but he came 
back in the morning, to find that the rustlers 
were trying to prevent the movement of the 
cattle towards the railroad. When he arrived 
they rode away, but followed along at a dis- 
tance of a mile or so, keeping on the ridges, 
evidently debating what to do. They finally 
evolved a plan, of having their friend Webb 
replevin the cattle in turn. "Bob" Noleman of 
Alliance was secured, and the Colorado crowd 
had secured the services of Tuttle and Tash. 
Tuttle directed the legal process, and Noleman 
had Webb, who had been very busy condemn- 
ing the procedure, ask for the writ. Tuttle had 
wisely anticipated that this would be done, and 
had put the name of Webb in the original pro- 
cess. Sheriff Hall told him that he was one of 
the parties defendant, and there was no way 
by which a defendant could counter with an 
alternate writ. Noleman stormed at what he 
considered the high-handed procedure, and he 
secured constables Gavin and Reed who served 
the papers. They did not take the cattle how- 
ever, for they were in process of being loaded 
on the cars. Sterling had a Winchester, and 
Elliott had a big-looking gun, and while these 
never spoke, they seemed to be very effective 
arguments in favor of letting the loading pro- 
ceed. 

Holliday and Cochran put up a stiff legal 
fight for the cattle, and had some of them re- 
turned, but the lawyer's bills took the most of 
what was saved, for when the affair was over 
they were pretty well cleaned of livestock. 

The Ross Murder 

Cochran determined to make another raise, 
and turned his attention to northern Colorado. 
Near the state line, almost directly south of 
Kimball, lived an elderly couple named Ross, 
and their son, who had accumulated a nice 
bunch of cattle, and on these fell the covetous 
eyes of Cochran. 

( )ne mi •ruing they were missing from their 
usual haunts, and Willie Ross, the young man, 
went out to look for them. He did not come 
back and neither horse, rider, or cattle could be 
found. 

Again Jim Elliott was called to action. He 
found the trail, followed north across the 
Union Pacific railroad near Dix, and across 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



_'i; 



Pumpkin creek at Indian Springs and Wright's 
Gap, then across the Platte and Snake. He 
found Cochran and the cattle in Coyote can- 
yon. Cochran did not recognize him and when 
within a few feet he pulled his gun, and made 
Cochran put up his hands. While disarming 
and hand-cuffing him, Cochran was protesting 
his innocence, and asked him to look at "the 
paper," a bill-of-sale. He said he had bought 
the cattle of young Ross, who had told him 
that he was going away. As the horse and 
saddle were gone, the story looked plausible. 
Sheriff Hall participated in the proceedings at- 
tendant and following the arrest. 

The parents of young Ross, when they heard 
this, stoutly declared that it could not be so, 
and that it was "not like Willie" to do a thing 
like that. An extensive search brought about 
the discovery that the body had been buried 
in a sand draw, and also the horse and saddle. 
Cochran, it appeared, had gone to a nearby 
house and borrowed a spade, and when he re- 
turned it there was no one at home. He had 
entered the house, secured some writing ma- 
terials, and made several attempts at writing 
a bill-of-sale before he had succeeded in getting 
one in proper shape to suit him. He had at- 
tempted to destroy the unsatisfactory efforts by 
burning them, but there were some fragments 
left, which were secured. He had then taken 
the herd, and milled it about on the sand, where 
he had buried the man, horse and saddle. A 
subsequent rain had also further obliterated 
the place, and washed out many of the tracks. 

There was a question as to whether the 
murder had been in Colorado or Nebraska, and 
the surveyors had to be called out, to definitely 
locate the line. From their reports, and the 
evidence at hand it was determined that the 
crime had been committed in Colorado, and the 
body dragged some distance, and buried in 
Nebraska. This surveyor party was at work 
when some of Scotts Bluff county people were 
on their way to Colorado to pick spuds, among 
whom were William P. Young and Antoine 
Hiersche. 

Cochran was never tried for the murder. He 
was tried for cattle stealing, convicted and giv- 
en forty-five years in the penitentiary at Can- 
yon City. After about twenty years penal 
servitude, he was paroled on account of being 
tubercular, and if yet living, is still at large. 

County Officers 

When the county was organized in 1887, the 
first officers elected were only for the comple- 
tion of that year. On November 4, 1887, the 
regular election was held and at this time offi- 



cers were chosen for the following regular 
terms. A roster of such officers is as follows: 

Judges: The first county judge was A. 
L. Field. He was followed by 1). K. Spacht, 
who was succeeded by James H. H. Hewitt. 
Bruce Wilcox then served one term, he being 
followed by D. K. Spacht who was returned 
to the office. Abel Hill next followed, and he 
died in office, after a few months' service. B. 
F. Oilman completed the term, after which L. 
A. Berry assumed the judicial ermine and held 
the office for eleven consecutive years, retiring 
January, 1917. Ira L. Tash then assumed the 
office, and has held it since. 

Clerks : The office of county clerk was also 
ex-officio clerk of the district court, and of the 
board of county commissioners, when the coun- 
ty was organized. The first clerk who served 
for the nine months of 1887, was Geo. W. 
Clark. At the regular election following Charles 
A. Burlew was elected, and he was follwed by 
Ira L. Tash. Mr. Tash was clerk at the time 
the county seat was moved from Nonpareil to 
Hemingford. Next following was Joseph K. 
Neal, then Fred M. Phelps. Sam M. Smvser 
then was elected, and he was followed by D. 
K. Spacht. W. C. Mounts was then elected, 
and M. S. Hargraves followed. Mounts again 
returned to the office, and now Miss Avis M. 
Joder is the efficient incumbent of the office. 

Treasurers : The first county treasurer, who 
served for the short term of 1887, was Eli Ger- 
ber. John < CKeefe, Sr., became the next 
treasurer, and he was succeeded by John 
O'Keefe, Jr. Then Samuel B. Libby was 
chosen, and he was succeeded by Alvin M. 
Miller, and A. S. Reel followed. 'Alex Muir- 
head was next in order, and then Charles W. 
Brennan. Fred W. Mollring next looked after 
the county finances, and he was followed by 
Edgar M. Martin. Frank W. Irish, the pres- 
ent excellent treasurer completes the list of 
treasurers of Box Butte county. 

Sheriffs : Fred A. Shonquist was the first 
sheriff of Box Butte county, serving the short 
term of 1887. and then one full term. At the 
election of 1889, Eugene A. Hall was elected, 
serving three terms. Then came Edwin P. 
Sweeney, then Ira C. Reed. Albert Wiker was 
the next sheriff, and he was followed by Cal- 
vin M. Cox, and James W. Miller in turn, the 
latter being the present popular head of the 
law enforcement division of the county gov- 
ernment. 

Superintendents: The educational depart- 
ment of the countv is always its most import- 
ant function, for it deals with the children of 
the future. Box Butte county has been for- 
tunate in the class of educators that it has had 



>18 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



for its county educational head: Those who 
have served in that capacity are : First, Nathan 
S. Simpson, then Burton F. Gilman, John 
Leith, H. F. Fillmore, Anna E. Neeland, John 
W. Baumgardner, Leora Rustin, Ora E. Phil- 
lips, Delia M. Reed, and Opal Russell, the 
present incumbent. 

Attorneys : The county prosecutors have a 
large duty to perform, for a small compensa- 
tion. So poorly paid has this office been con- 
sidered, that it is always difficult to get the best 
talent to consider the sacrifices that it involves. 
Excellent lawyers are sometimes found in these 
offices, but it is usually with a view to the ac- 
quaintanceship they thereby secure. The first 
county attorney of Box Butte county was 
James H. Danskin, who served the short term 
when the county was organized, and was re- 
elected. In June, 1890, he resigned to accept 
the office of Receiver in the United States Land 
Office at Alliance. William M. Iodence was 
appointed and filled out the unexpired term. 
Robert C. Noleman next served for one term 
and then Burton F. Gilman for two terms. 
Iodence was then returned, in 1896, for one 
term. He was succeeded by Smith P. Tuttle. 
William Mitchell was elected in 1900, and serv- 
ed four years, after which Eugene Burton 
served three terms. Lee Basye the present in- 
cumbent, is serving his third term in the office. 

Surveyors: Barring the original work of 
surveying or locating the settlers the office of 
county surveyor in a new county is not one of 
much compensation. Box Butte county -has 
had the following occupants of the surveyors 
office: Charles A. Barney. H. H. Burnette, 
Daniel W. Hughes, John P. Hazard, and Reub- 
en E. Knight, the latter being the present offi- 
cial. 

Coroner: This office was in the new coun- 
ties of western Nebraska, and not much sought 
for. but nevertheless it was a very important 
position, and was filled by the medical fra- 
ternity of capableness and high order. The 
following doctors of Box Butte county have 
held the position: Tohn Blood, W. H. 'Smith, 
W. W. Hamilton, W. K. Miller, L E. Moore, 
G. W. Mitchell and Chas. E. Slagle. 

Commissioners : The first county commis- 
sioners, who served for the nine months of 
1887 were James Barry. Louis C. De Coud- 
ress and Thos. L. Irvine. On these fell the 
first duties of the new countv's organization. 
Ai ill.- first regular election R. R. Ralls and 
Charles Nichols took the place of the first two 
named. Other commissioners who followed 
wen Vlex Burr, Leonard Sampy, Fdgar 

rames Hollinrake, Ceo. W.Duncan, 
Geo W. Loer, James Barry, (second election), 



John Meintz, L- F. Smith, Frank Caha, Joseph 
M. Wanek, and Anton Uhrig (second elec- 
tion). Calvin L. Hashman, Geo. W. Duncan 
and George Carrell are the present incumbents. 

District Clerk : This office was established 
in January, 1921, or separated from the office 
of county clerk. W. C. Mounts was elected 
first clerk, now serving in that position. 

County Assessor : This office is of compara- 
tively recent origin and has been filled in turn 
by A. S. Reed, E. P. Sweeney, John Jelinek, 
J. A. Keegan and John Pilkington, the last 
named being the present incumbent. 

Box Butte county can well be proud of those 
who have served it in an official capacity. The 
offices have been quite equally distributed be- 
tween the political parties, and there has never 
been a shortage, an arrest, a scandal, or indict- 
ment attaching to a single public official. 

State Officials 

Box Butte county has never had a state offi- 
cial outside of the legislative branch of state 
government. In 1901, J. H. Van Boskirk was 
a member of the state senate, being the first 
in that capacity from the county. Earl D. Mal- 
lery served in the same capacity, in the session 
of 1915, he being the second and last state sen- 
ator from the county to date. 

L. W. Gilchrist was the first member of the 
legislature, in 1889. Then in 1913, Earl D. 
Mallery was a member. Frank M. Broome was 
chosen for that post in 1915, and was later ap- 
pointed Receiver of the United States Land 
Office at Valentine. In 1917 Lloyd C. 'Thomas 
was chosen. Thomas was one of the members 
joining in the introduction of the Nebraska 
mineral statute, which was passed at an extra- 
ordinary session of the legislature in 1918. He 
volunteered for the world war, but was not 
inducted into service owing to its abrupt end. 

John W. Thomas w;as deputy state land com- 
missioner during the administration of G L. 
Shumwav as chief of that office, during 1917 
and 1918. 

William L. O'Keefe was assistant in the of- 
fice of Chas. W. Pool, secretary of state, at 
the beginning of the war, but resigned and 
went into the service in the World War. 

Each of these have performed well the duties 
assigned to them, and no word of reproach can 
be truthfully said concerning any of Box Butte 
county's contingent in the duties of the state as- 
signed to them. 

U. S. Land Officers 

The United States Land Office was estab- 
lished at Alliance on July 1, 1890. Fred M. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



:l'' 



Dorrington, of Chadron, was appointed Regis- 
ter, and James H. Danskin, Receiver. They 
served until the change of administration in 
1893, when they were succeeded by John W. 
Wehn of Wilber, Nebraska, as Register, and 
F. M. Broome, of Alliance, as Receiver. Fol- 
lowing another change of administration in 
1897, Fred M. Dorrington was appointed Reg- 
ister and William R. Akers, as Receiver. Dor- 
rington died in office in January, 1903, and was 
succeeded by Bruce Wilcox. Akers and Wil- 
cox administered the office for four years, and 
were replaced by W. W. Wood of Rushville 
as Register and H. J. Ellis of Alliance as Re- 
ceiver. Upon the election of Woodrow Wilson 
as president in 1912, J. C. Morrow, of Scotts- 
bluff, became Register, with T. J. O'Keefe. of 
Alliance, as Receiver, and they continue to 
draw the salary and perquisites pertaining to 
the office. 

Ira E. Tash 
County Judge of Box Butte county, was born 
in Clarke county, Iowa, February 13, 1862, 
and remained there until he was 25 years of 
age, with his parents, who were farmers. He 
taught school during the winter and worked 
at railroad construction work during the sum- 
mer months. He received his education in the 
country schools. In March, 1S87, he came to 
what is the extinct Nonpareil and engaged in 
real estate and farm loan business until Janu- 



ary 1, 1890, when he was elected County Clerk. 
He conducted that office for one year, then the 
office was moved to Hemingford, the county 
seat, and after four years, in 1894, he formed 
the law firm of Tuttle & Tash. which continued 
there until 1900, when the firm moved its of- 
fices to Alliance. In 1895 he was appointed re- 
ceiver of the Bank of Hemingford and settled 
its affairs. While living at Hemingford he 
served on the school board and city council. In 

1901 he engaged in the clerical work for the 
contractors rebuilding the Union Pacific : in 

1902 was associate editor of the Alliance 
'rimes; in 1903 was appointed postmaster of 
Alliance, serving in that capacity for twelve 
years, and in 1916, was elected county judge, 
re-elected in 1918 without opposition, and is 
thus serving the people of his county at this 
time. 

The public service of Ira E. Tash has always 
been of the best. Box Butte county has cause 
for congratulation in the fact that Mr. Tash 
became a citizen of the county at a very early 
date and has been continually one of the bearers 
of the county's escutcheon through all the years. 
Never has he faltered, and but for him the 
record of the county achievements, and of its 
people would be incomplete. His experiences, 
his memory, his ability to state the occurrences 
with precision, and withal his splendid fund of 
good humor, have made the Box Butte County 
History a splendid narrative. — Editor-in-Chief. 



DEUEL COUNTY 



CHAPTER I 



ORGANIZATION OF DEUEL COUNTY 



Deuel county, one of the smallest in the state 
and the most southeasterly county in the Pan- 
handle of Nebraska, lies in the most southerly 
tier of counties and in the third east from the 
western boundary of Nebraska. At the pres- 
ent time it is bounded on the north by Garden 
county, on the east by Keith county, on the 
south by Colorado and on the west by Cheyenne 
county. Like all the rest of Nebraska, the 
early inhabitants of this county were the rov- 
ing bands of Indians that inhabited the plains 
before the white man came and before the ter- 
ritory in which Deuel county lies was known to 
the whites who settled the continent. Like the 
rest of Nebraska this land belonged to Spain, 
France, and then became a part of the United 
States. 

For a number of years after Nebraska Ter- 
ritory was created, and the western part of the 
state laid out in counties, called Lyon. Taylor, 
and Monroe. Deuel county territory was then 
principally in Lyon county. After Nebraska 
became a state, Deuel county was comprised in 
old Cheyenne county, and much of the early 
history of that county is a part of Deuel coun- 
ty's history. Many of the early events of Deuel 
county are to be found in the history of "Old 
Cheyenne." By the election of 1888, the east- 
ern third of Cheyenne county was erected as 
Deuel county and later the northern portion of 



Deuel county became Garden county. In the 
early history and general treatment of the Pan- 
handle, will be found stories of Deuel county, 
long before Nebraska became a state. Also 
reference will be found to the ranch life in this 
section when the cowman held it as a range. 
The county was named after a man who was 
connected with the building of the Union Pa- 
cific railroad. 

The general topography of Deuel county is 
high rolling or undulating plains, ranging from 
precipitious cliffs along the streams to the 
level land of tables and valleys. The high pla- 
teaus have been called tables and received va- 
rious names. Along the tables go the valleys, 
and the county is noted for the tablelands used 
for grazing also for the fertile valleys. The 
Lodgepole valley is the longest in the county ; 
it enters at about the center of the western 
boundary, flows southeast and a little west of 
the center of the southern boundary passes out 
into Colorado. The Platte valley crosses the 
southeastern corner of the county and while 
not so long as the Lodgepole, is wider. In 
addition to these major valleys there are smaller 
valleys. Lodgepole creek and the Platte river 
are the streams and it is from them that the 
water is secured for the irrigation carried on in 
Deuel countv. 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



CHAPTER II 



FIRST SETTLERS 



Like a large section of the Panhandle, the 
earliest whites in Deuel county were the cattle- 
men, who came here with their great herds 
of cattle, a few of whom became permanent 
settlers, and after the building of the Union 
Pacific railroad, a little real settlement began. 
Before the railroad came the distances were 
so great that few people ventured so far from 
a source of supply. A few adventurous spirits 
ventured in and many went by over the fam- 
ous Oregon, California, and Colorado trails. 
Settlers came in slowly at first and their com- 
ing was not encouraged by the cattlemen, who 
saw that the homesteader would sooner or 
later absorb their range and supplant stock- 
raising and grazing with farming and stock- 
raising on a farmer's scale. The bitter feeling 
existing between the early settlers and the 
cowmen was not much manifest in Deuel county 
but the cowmen were obliged to give way to 
the grangers. After the coming of the rail- 
road, there were increasing numbers of home- 
steaders and in time they counted by the 
hundred to the cattlemen's one. The south- 
eastern and southwestern parts of Deuel coun- 
ty settled first as the railroad crossed the south- 
eastern corner of the county, ran to Julesburg, 
Colorado, then turned across the southern 
boundary of the county a little west of the 
center and ran northwest, leaving a little north 
of the center of the western boundary. The 
first towns and stations for supplies were on 
the railroad and the settlers naturally located 
within the area where they could obtain neces- 
sities, though this was not always true and 
many settlers scattered throughout what is 
now Garden county as well, for there was 
water to be had there. 

Early Trials and Bitter Years 

From 1884 to 1887, the tablelands of Deuel 
county filled up, and many and varied are the 
stories of pioneer hardships of the people who 
came here at that time. For a time the far- 
mers or permanent settlers managed to live 
and a few made a little money. However in 
the later eighties most of the grangers went 
broke ; in fact it may be stated without excep- 
tion that the high plains went broke all to- 
gether, and of the aristocratic grangers not 
one remained in the western part of the state 
of Nebraska. Among the settlers there was 
practically no money and all business was car- 



ried on by barter. Posts, wood, or the bones 
of dead animals were traded for groceries and 
supplies, as the merchants of the early days 
took anything for which they could find a 
market. Out on the north divide, there were 
hundreds of people in the same condition, 
among them Herman Kuehnn, Anton Hatter- 
man, August Fonnarder, Syver Johnson, John 
Elmquist, Peter Soderquist, Frank Johnson, 
and many, many others. They had to haul 
water from ten to eighteen miles, from Big 
Springs, or Ash Hollow, for family use and 
stock because they did not have the money for 
a well or equipment after they had one; the 
water supply on the tables being two hundred 
or more feet clown in the ground. 

Jim Pindell had a well drill but he could not 
operate without money and though willing to 
work for the people who needed water could 
not do it for nothing. However, occasionally a 
settler would trade around or "jockey" and 
finally get a well, and when this was done the 
owner would try and make up for the cost by 
charging for the water. However, water for 
domestic uses was rarely denied if a person 
did not have the pay for it, but stock water 
was sometimes as high as seventy-five cents a 
barrel. One time Adam Zimmerman went to 
Colorado to work to earn some money and 
in a month had earned twenty dollars, but his 
expenses going and coming cost seventeen dol- 
lars so he was not much better off. Another 
time a neighbor hired him for a day and gave 
him a rooster for pay, which died on the way 
home. 

George Richardson tells of plowing tree 
claims for non-residents, who sometimes for- 
got to send the money for the work and Peter 
Jensen tells of the old sod schoolhouse where 
they had a few cracked boxes for desks and 
piled up sod for benches for the scholars. W. 
W. Waterman at Day postoffice could tell how 
"cancellations" fell off, because the people 
could not possibly spare the money for stamps 
and write to relatives and friends. But the 
people lived through the years of trial and 
have seen the later years of triumph come to 
pay them for the hardships and privations. 
Carl Pigeon, who had no use for his threshing 
machine outfit in the early nineties, has had 
plenty of work for it during the later years 
and has had a fine business, which shows the 
development and prosperity of the wheat and 
grain industry in Deuel county for some time 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



past. John Steward, who early saw what ir- 
rigation would do when water was applied to 
the fertile soil of the valleys changed to irri- 
gated land and now has a fine farm and breeds 
Belgian horses, Hereford cattle, and Poland 
China hogs. So we could go on telling of the 
transition and prosperity of many of the early 
settlers who managed to stay through the hard 
years. In the early days the vision of the 
future here was in every mind. All were look- 
ing forward ; now they sometimes look back or 
at the scars of battle left upon hand and brow, 
and say, "Oh well, gold needs fire to bum 
away the dross. It's not pure until it passes 
the crucible." There seemed to have been 
happy times occasionally and many laugh over 
the ridiculous escapes by which the tribulation 
was temporarily submerged. Agnew Rayburn 
occasionally will chuckle over the time when 
Chappell cast three thousand votes and Big 
Springs cast over five thousand at the county 
seat election. Others do likewise as there 



were not that many people in the county. Riley 
Ford laughs over the time the roundup took 
him to Julesburg and "shot up" the town. A 
hearty laugh in that early day served to en- 
liven the pulses and break the tenseness of con- 
ditions and save many a man and woman from 
"going crazy." Hard times parties were held 
where old clothes were worn as though it were 
a joke although it was no joke but the truth. 
Old clothes, packed away safe from moths, 
vintages of foregone years, were brought out 
j.nd given place of honor on festal occasions. 
, But best of all, there were hearts, dear hearts, 
that saw beyond the clouds of adversity into 
the sunshine of a happy land and happy times 
in the future. Imagination pictured the years 
of plenty; or perhaps they glimpsed the pur- 
pose for which mankind must suffer such heavy 
years. Today those who are left see that this 
faith has been justified and many are now en- 
joying the later years of life in comfort and 
prosperity. 



CHAPTER III 



COUNTY ORGANIZATIO N AND DEVELOPMENT 



By the election of November, 1888, Cheyenne 
county was divided and practically the eastern 
third was erected as Deuel county, which came 
into existence at that time. Later the northern 
portion of Deuel was cut from Deuel and be- 
came Garden county, greatly reducing the size 
of Deuel county. In January, 1889, Deuel 
county was organized. The first meeting of the 
county board is recorded on January 21, 1889, 
with the following officers : George P. Smith, 
judge ; Ed. Herrington, clerk ; W. H. Sigler, 
treasurer, and B. G. Hoover, H. G. Gumaer 
and Willis Lee, commissioners. The next day, 
January 22, the following officers qualified : J. 
L. Robson, treasurer, Reuben Lisco, sheriff, 
and Dr. W. H. Babcock, coroner. On Feb- 
ruary 2, F. W. Starks qualified as superintend- 
ent of schools. 

The first act of the commissioners was to 
elect B. G. Hoover chairman, and the second 
ad was by two votes fur Chappell and one for 
Froid, to declare Chappell the temporary coun- 
ty -rat. Some official bonds were approved 
and the clerk instructed to ask for bids for 
supplies. Thus ended the first day of Deuel 
county's official life. 



The Chappell Register was designated the 
official paper on January 26, and the county 
attorney's salary was fixed at five hundred 
dollars. On this day a brand committee was 
created by the board of commissioners who 
named G. E. Thompson and John Robinson its 
first members. 

On January 15, 1889, a county seat election 
was declared to have made no choice. The 
county then contained eleven precincts as fol- 
lows : Alkali, Lisco, Lost Creek, Blue Creek, 
Park, Sughrue. Rush Creek, Green, Chappell, 
Swan and Big Springs. 

In their order road districts one to eleven 
were created of the same name and size as 
the precincts. The first bills allowed by the 
commissioners were for election services, viz : 
C. G. Jones, A. T. Stewart, J. H. Roudebush, 
Frank Isenberger, Floyd Jones, E. E. Catron, 
Simon Hopper, R. D. Root, W. T. Bowers, 
George Northrup, E. F. Clayton, Ed. Coumbe, 
and Reuben Lisco. 

By order of the board, all territory of Deuel 
county then north of the North Platte river 
was designated as commissoner district num- 
ber one. District number two was the west 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



223 



half of that part of the county south of the 
river and district number three was the east 
half. April 3, 1889, E. Fish was appointed 
deputy for Ed. Herrington, clerk, as Mr. Her- 
rington was in Sidney much of the time tran- 
scribing the records for the new county. 

Two petitions for bonding the county, one 
for one bridge and another for two bridges, 
across the North Platte river, were filed April 
22, but both were rejected. On May 21, an- 
other petition for eighteen thousand dollars in 
bonds and two bridges was approved but was 
lost on the election. 

The board of commissioners, sitting as a 
board of equalization, on June 19, 1889, found 
the following assessable property in Deuel 
county: personal, $93,345.79; real estate, 
$443,558.50; Union Pacific railway, $303,- 
503.20; Western Union Telegraph Company, 
83,448.90, a total of $848,856.39. The first 
levy for taxes was: for roads three and a half 
mills ; bridges, one mill ; sinking fund, one and 
a half mills. The Big Springs Precinct Bridge 
Bond was for three mills. Another attempt 
was made for a "North River" bridge by a pe- 
tition of October 9, 1889, when ten thousand 
dollars worth of bonds was asked, but was lost 
at the subsequent election. 

In the spring of 1890, a bridge was built 
across the Blue river, the first bridge built by 
Deuel county. In 1890, L. B. Cary and some 
other men were working out the details of the 
Belmont canal as irrigation was already be- 
coming an important factor in the industrial 
life of the county. J. B. Anderson, called 
"Swede" Anderson, conceived the idea of ex- 
tending the Belmont canal to the great tables 
between the north river and the Lodgepole. 
For raising funds he proposed bonding the pre- 
cincts. This idea went so far as to call elec- 
tions in several precincts. The company which 
was to handle the project was known as the 
Belmont and Froid Canal and Reservoir Com- 
pany. One hundred and seven persons of 
Union precinct asked for an election to vote 
fifteen thousand dollars in subsidizing bonds; 
one hundred and eighteen petitioners proposed 
twenty thousand dollars of bonds as the quota 
of Froid precinct; fifty-one persons in Green 
precinct wanted to vote on twenty-five thou- 
sand dollars of bonds ; all for the same purpose 
and elections were called for August 5, 1890. 

In the meantime some of the old settlers 
had been stung by subsidization bonds for rail- 
roads back east, as the railroads were never 
built or had ceased to operate and the rails 
were torn up after the bond had been secured. 
These men set about making an independent 
examination of the project, with the result that 



it was found that the elevation of the Froid 
tableland proved to be from seventy-five to 
ninety feet too high to get water to it through 
the Belmont intake from the river. Mass meet- 
ings were called and Anderson was asked to 
explain. The versatile Anderson said that an 
hydraulic power station on Rush creek would 
lift the water and at the same time an electric 
generating plant could be added. However, 
the seed of doubt had been planted in the minds 
of the people, and the scheme failed. The elec- 
tions were re-called. 

The writer was then publishing the Ashford 
Advocate, and from Banner county watched 
the progress and ultimate failure of the idea. 

Scotts Bluff county was then just beginning 
to promote irrigation projects, and the ques- 
tion was how to raise money to build ditches. 
"Swede" Anderson's idea suggested the scheme 
of irrigation districts and the writer discussed 
it with W. W. White, and mentioned it to A. 
B. Wood. Mr. White thought several pre- 
cincts might be combined into a district. Into 
the writer's mind came the sense of injustice, 
taxing the land not served for the benefit of 
that which was served. Mr. Wood was non- 
committal on the subject at the time but later 
said that there was so little basic value to the 
land, therefore no foundation for a bond is- 
sue of consequence. 

In 1893, Tim T. Kelliher and I were at Lin- 
coln during the legislature. Tim was chief 
bookkeeper in the Senate and I was chief en- 
grossing clerk in the House. Kelliher met R. 
B. Howell, whom he introduced. Howell, Sen- 
ator J. H. Danner and I framed an irrigation 
district bill which was introduced by Darner. 
The complete story of its development is told 
in Scotts Bluff County History, but it was sug- 
gested to the writer for the first time through 
the efforts of J. B. Anderson in Deuel county. 

In February, 1891, there were sonn- read- 
justments of precinct lines in Deuel county, 
and consolidations in which the precincts of 
Park, Big Springs and Blue Creek were to 
support a bond for a bridge near the location 
of Lewellen. Then Chappell and Sughrue pre- 
cincts proposed a like plan for a bridge near 
the site of Oshkosh. The vote for the east 
bridge carried about four to one and that of 
the west by about six to one. These bridges 
were built in 1891 by the St. Joseph Bridge 
and Boiler Company. 

In the meantime Chappell held the temporary 
county seat. In the election of January 15, 
1889. Froid cast an apparently honest vote of 
less than three hundred, but Chappell heard of 
an enormous vote being cast at Big Springs, 
and the printing of extra ballots by thousands 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



was begun. Toward nightfall of election day 
it appeared to be a contest of endurance of the 
presses and supply of paper for ballots. The 
news came up the valley that the Big Springs 
vote had reached three thousand. Chappell 
beat it by a few and quit. Big Springs had a 
few thousand extra ballots printed at Ogallala, 
"enough to fill the ballot box," as told by one 
of the partisans, with a final total of five thous- 
and six hundred and twenty-six votes. Chappell 
was overvoted but not beaten. The courts 



were appealed to, and for years the charge of 
illegal voting kept the temporary county seat 
there. Finally the slow process of law resulted 
in an order for a new election for June 23, 
1894. No place received a majority and on 
July 21 following, another election was held, 
which gave Chappell a clear majority, and by 
action of the county board August 11, 1894, 
Chappell became the permanent seat of justice 
of Deuel countv. 



CHAPTER IV 



IRRIGATION IN DEUEL COUNTY 



In 1895, the Nebraska legislature passed the 
Irrigation District Law. In 1896, the first 
Deuel county petition under that law for a 
district was presented by Mr. Van Newkirk and 
other men. but was rejected because "doubtful 
if desired by the majority of the voters," and 
"doubtful if it could be watered by one sys- 
tem." In July, 1898, George F. Clark, and a 
number of other men petitioned to organize 
an irrigation district on Blue creek and an 
election was called for July 30, which resulted 
in five votes for and six against the petition, 
so it was lost. October 20, 1898. Ira Paisley 
and others petitioned for an irrigation district 
taking in a smaller tract on Blue creek. The 
election to decide upon it was called for 
November 12, with the result that there were 
five votes for the project and none against and 
the irrigation of this tract became assured. The 
officers elected were: division No. 1, N. Berg- 
eson, five votes ; No. 2, I. M. Paisley, five votes ; 
No. 3, Clarence Hewett, five votes ; as direc- 
tors ; A. F. Ramsey, five votes for treasurer, 
and A. F. Ramsey, five votes as assessor. Thus 
was the first irrigation district in Deuel coun- 
ty organized. It came into existence by this 
election and the declaration of the county board 
November 21, 1898. This first important move- 
ment for irrigation was in the northern part 
of the county which later became Garden coun- 
ty, fur when the new county was organized it 
took nearly all the irrigated land in Deuel coun- 
ty. The county still has a vital interest in the 
Western Irrigation District which waters an 
excellent body of land near Julesburg. This, 
however, is a newer enterprise but of much 



commercial importance to Deuel county as it 
affords water for the southeastern part along 
the Platte river valley. 

Blue Creek Irrigation District was organized 
April 3, 1905, and the first officers were : Divi- 
sion No. 1, Richard Clark, director by a vote 
of thirteen to four for A. S. Ross ; division No. 
2, Henry Black, director by eleven votes with 
no opposition ; division No. 3, James Orr, di- 
rector, by sixteen votes with no opposition; 
George McCormick was elected treasurer by 
sixteen votes without opposition, and George 
Gilliard, assessor, by sixteen votes with one 
cast for James Caslin. The total vote cast was 
twenty of which eighteen were for the organi- 
zation of the district and two opposed. Today 
the irrigation in Deuel county is of much im- 
portance in raising certain crops on the watered 
land that could not be raised before, and in con- 
sequence different agricultural products are 
becoming of importance in these districts where 
any crop planted never fails. The farmers on 
the irrigated farms are becoming prosperous 
and the country is richer as a result, which is 
reflected in the growth of the market towns. So 
it is to be seen that while a large part of the 
original irrigated district was taken away, 
enough was left Deuel to make it a county 
which is introducing more irrigation as it is 
found feasible and profitable. 
Humor and Incidents of Deuel History 

The pages of history and record are often 
enlivened by humor which takes away the dull- 
ness of mere facts. Simon Hopper, who was 
reelected commissioner in 1S C >7. was on Janu- 
ary 6, 1898, on the convening of the new board 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



of commissioners, made the object of an amus- 
ing moment for the other members, M. P. 
Clary and J. H. Roudebush, as will be shown 
by the following official record : "It was moved 
and carried that the commissioner residing at 
the county seat buy the county supplies for 
the ensuing year." Hopper was the victim, for 
Roudebush and Clary were the out of town 
members of the board. It does not follow that 
Hopper bought the supplies. If he did, the 
county paid for them. 



merit proceedings were instigated against 
Sheriff Kennison but were withdrawn when he 
resigned and W. H. McEldowney, his deputy, 
was appointed sheriff in his place. E. S. Kenni- 
son some years later shot and killed Sam D. 
Cox, of Minatare, who was an implacable foe 
of liquor, and today Kennison is an inmate 
of the state penitentiary. 

Garden County Created 
The next high light in the history of Deuel 




Court House. Chappeel 



In 1900, occurred in Deuel county one of 
the unfortunate affairs of politics that had a 
violent climax in Scotts Bluff county, and its 
echoes still reverberate. E. S. Kennison was 
elected Sheriff in 1899, taking office the follow- 
ing January. At that time he was a likable 
man, but had a weakness for drink. His offi- 
cial capacity brought to his side all the lawless 
element who worked upon his weakness. He 
was frequently intoxicated and was said to be 
"a devil when under the influence of liquor." 
His friends and bondsmen tried to get him 
away from these evil influences, but to no 
avail. His bondsmen then asked to be re- 
leased. The county commissioners met August 
22, 1900, to require a new bond. Impeach- 



county occurred when Charles Tomppert and 
five or six hundred petitioners asked on July 
26, 1909, for an election to divide the county 
and of the northern portion create a new 
county of Garden. A protest was riled by 
John R. Wertz and Nicholas E. Zehr. "in be- 
half of ourselves and four hundred tax pay- 
ers." Wilcox and Halligan of North Platte 
were present to argue the case for the protest- 
ants. The county board heard the matter and 
by unanimous action called an election to decide 
the question for November 2, 1909. The com- 
missioners at the time were A. G. Newman, 
Albert S. Ross, and D. F. Fickes. The election 
carried and the history of Garden county com- 
pletes the story. Fickes and Ross were both 



226 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



residents of the portion of Deuel county which 
became Garden, resigned as commissioners of 
Deuel county, and Ed. C. Wolf and George 
Kalb succeeded them. 

County Court House 
For many years Deuel county rented quarters 
for the transaction of the county's business. 
The old frame school house that was built in 
the early eighties, and in which was taught the 
first legally constituted public school in Chap- 
pell, stood on the southwest corner of the pres- 
ent court house grounds. It was used as the 
office of the county clerk for many years. The 
school is now situated a block north of the 
old site. Economical administration and the 
danger of fire to records, together with the 
growing prosperity of Deuel county, led to the 
building of a suitable court house which would 
be representative of the county and its people. 
In 1915, such a structure was erected. The 
corner stone was laid by the Master Workmen 
of the Grand Lodge, Ancient Free and Ac- 
cepted Masons of Nebraska, May 15, 1915, A. 
L. 1915, Thomas M. Davis, Grand Master. 
The board of county commissioners at that 
time consisted of : Simon Hopper, chairman, 
George Kalb, and James Brown; their names 
being cut in the corner stone with those of J. 
J. Huddart, architect, and M. J. Kenney, 
builder. The cost of the building at that time 
was about half what such a fine building would 
have come to later. In the new structure the 
county offices were suitably and well housed 
with every modern convenience to facilitate 
county work and Deuel may well be proud of 
her court house. 

In 1919, an effort was made to build a 



$100,000 county high school at Chappell and 
an election called for May 13, of that year, 
but on May 28, the election was reordered for 
July 8. The vote when counted stood five hun- 
dred and sixty-three for and four hundred 
forty-two against the building of the school, 
and there was not the necessary two-thirds ma- 
jority to carry. A protest was made against 
counting the vote of Big Springs, as it was 
mostly adverse as that town already had a high 
school. The county commissioners overruled 
the protest and declared the election lost. On 
July 28, 1919, a committee was appointed for 
redisricting the county according to the new 
law with the following people as its members : 
Retta F. Brown, H. R. Busse, and J. R. Hol- 
combe. 

In 1918. J. W. Sjogren was the agricultural 
agent, the first to hold that office in the county 
and since that time the county agent has taken 
an active part in farming industries. He has 
been influential in introducing new methods, 
to make the most of the soil and has been of 
great aid and benefit to the people of Deuel 
county. The Deuel County Farm Bureau was 
organized December 17, 1917, with G. B. 
Brown, president ; Fred E. Smith, secretary, 
and Sam Robb, treasurer. These men with 
William Mack, of Big Springs, Emil Olson, 
of Swan precinct, and O. C. Brestel, of Chap- 
pell, constituted the board. The meeting of 
January, 1921, indicates that added interest is 
being taken in the agricultural development of 
the county which is of general benefit to all. 
The bureau is doing excellent work throughout 
the county and the farmers are cooperating 
with it in an effort to increase production and 
raise the standard of farm life. 



CHAPTER V 



COUNTY OFFICERS 



. The first judge of Deuel county was George 
P. Smith, who took office in 1889 and served 
two terms, ending January 1. 1892. Isaac 
Woolf was then elected and reelected four 
times, serving ten years on the bench. John 
O'Neil assumed the office in 1902, being reelect- 
ed in 1904, but shortly after that resigned. 
Isaac Woolf was appointed for the unexpired 
term and served sixteen years, being reelected 



seven times. H. R. Busse was elected to the 
bench in 1919, and reelected for 1921. In his 
legal profession he became interested as at- 
torney in cases now before the county judge 
and to meet the situation, the county commis- 
sioners appointed Isaac W'oolf a special acting 
judge to hear and dispose of those matters. 
Mr. Woolf's total service to the county now 
aggregates some twenty-eight years ; a long 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



period for one man, whose efficiency has been 
marked. 

The first county clerk of Deuel county was 
Ed. Herrington, who was twice reelected and 
served in that capacity five years. He has been 
followed in office by Kirk A. McCall, for 
four years; Jackson Gyger, for four years; 
Robert A. Day, for four years ; Eugene De- 
Latour. for four years ; Jack McCormick, for 
two years ; Cyrus O. Brown, who served for 
three years and then resigned ; H. D. Betts was 
appointed to fill the vacancy and then was 
elected. 

J. L. Robson was the first man to fill the 
office of county treasurer of Deuel county, tak- 
ing office in 1889 for one year; he was follow- 
ed by A. H. Nichols, for four years ; Abel Carl- 
son, for four years ; Fred Sudman, for four 
years ; John Wertz, for four years ; William E. 
Roudebush, for four years ; Henry C. Peter- 
son for six years ; Hezekiah Epperson, for two 
years; and J. G. McCormick, who was elected 
in 1919 and is still serving. 

The first man to serve as county attorney for 
Deuel county was W. H. Sigler, elected in 1889, 
was reelected but resigned, to be followed by 
S. P. DeLatour, who was appointed to finish 
the term. Jacob Keifer followed, serving three 
years before he resigned. George C. McAllis- 
ter was elected in 1897, served until 1906, when 
he was succeeded by L. ( ). Pfeiffer, who is still 
the attorney starting upon his eighth term in 
office. 

Reuben Lisco was the first sheriff of Deuel 
county, being followed in office by Gordon E. 
Thompson, J. M. Brunt, E. S. Kennison, who 
resigned ; W. H. McEldowney, W. W. Bower, 
Walter Clark, who resigned ; B. E. Fish, Oran 
Bower, and Andrew Peterson who has been 
reelected five times. 

The superintendent of public instruction in 
Deuel county, since its organization have been : 
F. W. Starks, Rosa Dodds, Mrs. S. C. German, 
Allen Chamberlain and again Rosa Dodds, Rob- 
ert F. McGrale, Mrs. L. M. Bernhard. Vera 
Yockey, and Retta F. Brown, who is starting 
on her fifth term of office. 

The first board of county commissioners con- 
sisted of B. G. Hoover, H. G. Gumaer, and 
Willis Lee, who were installed in 1889. John 
Robinson and J. S. McLaughlin succeeded Lee 
and Gumaer in 1890. Hoover served three 
years and was succeeded by M. P. Clary. Mc- 
Laughlin served two years and Robinson three 
years. Since then the county commissioners 
have been : James Thompson, W. W. Fought, 
Simon Hopper, J. H. Roudebush, F. H. Bar- 
ber, H. G. Gumaer. who was returned for six 
years ; A. G. Neuman, who served eight years ; 



Albert S. Ross, who served six years ; D. F. 
Fickes, E. C. Wolf, George Kalb, who served 
six years ; Simon Hopper, who was returned 
for two three-year terms ; but resigned during 
his second term; Robert F. McGrale, who was 
formerly county superintendent, served five 
years ; James Brown, who served nearly six 
years ; A. E. Colman and Oran B. Bower. 
Earl LaGrange was appointed to complete 
Brown's unexpired term, while S. E. Olson, Z. 

F. Whitney, and John Warren were commis- 
sioners in 1921. Simon Hopper has the rec- 
ord of thirteen years service as commissioner ; 
A. G. Newman, of eight years ; and H. G. 
Gumaer of seven years. M. P. Clary, J. H. 
Roudebush, F. H. Barber and George Kalb, 
each have six years' service to their credit, 
while Albert Ross, and James Brown have 
nearly six years. 

The county officials of Deuel county in 1921 
are as follows: H. R. Busse, judge; Isaac 
W T oolf, special judge in some cases; H. D. 
Betts, county clerk and he also holds office as 
clerk of the district court and register of deeds, 
being assisted by Ethel Hitchman, deputy ; J. 

G. McCormick, treasurer, assisted by Irene 
Friskopp, deputy ; Retta Brown, superintend- 
ent ; A. Peterson, sheriff, J. C. Bloom, assessor; 
L. O. Pfeiffer, attorney": S. E. Olson, Z. F. 
Whitney and John Warren, county commis- 
sioners, and H. F. Sick, highway agent. The 
county surveyor is S. W. Terry, and J. W. 
Sjogren is agricultural agent. 

D. C. Hooper was elected the first county 
surveyor in 1892. W. F. Marsh then served 
two terms or four years, after which D. C. 
Hooper wa^ returned to the work for four 
years. A. B. Wynes was elected in 1902, and 
in 1904 John Robinson became surveyor, hav- 
ing just closed his term of three years as 
county commissioner. He served several terms 
as surveyor, after which in 1910 S. W. Tern- 
assumed the same duties and has now started 
on his eleventh year in office. 

The first county physician of Deuel was Dr. 
Hosea Hudson, appointed in 1890. This posi- 
tion is an appointive one and filled by the com- 
missioners annually. Dr. Hudson served three 
years, being succceeded by Dr. W. H. Bab- 
cock for six years. The office was then taken 
over by Dr. H. H. Hough who held it two 
years. ' Dr. W. Mullen was county physician 
"for a number of years after 1902, and in 1914 
Dr. M. B. Patty was appointed and today is 
also a member of the town board of Chappell. 

Dr. W. H. Babcock was the first coroner of 
the county, taking office in January, 1889 ; he 
was reelected in 1890 and in "1892, Simon Hop- 
per, afterwards county commissioner, was 



228 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



elected, being followed by Dr. Hosea Hudson, 
serving eight years. . Charles Davidson held 
office as coroner in 1906, afterward being fol- 
lowed by Clinton H. Smith, elected in 1911, and 
by Dr. M. B. Patty, elected in 1916. This com- 



pletes the official list of the men who have 
served Deuel county in public office, usually 
most efficiently and to the entire satisfaction 
of the people. 



CHAPTER y 



TOWNS 



Chappell, the county seat of Deuel county, 
came into existence with the building of the 
Union Pacific railroad, when it was first merely 
a station on the road. It is located in the west 
central part of the county, on the main line of 
the Union Pacific. John O'Neil, who was sta- 
tion agent here about 1S80 to 1885, located in 
the old improvised depot, was so far as is 
known, the first operator and agent, of the rail- 
road at this point, and the first permanent resi- 
dent. The depot was partly dug out and part- 
ly old railroad ties, while the rest was con- 
structed from the wreck of an old freight car. 

Soon after the building of the railroad a few 
people came to the site of Chappell, and there 
were children, so Mr. O'Neil, realizing the need 
of instruction for them, taught the first school 
in the depot, the first' school in what is now 
Deuel county territory. He had neither certi- 
ficate, district or authority to do so and had no 
taxes to support him but the school was estab- 
lished and did a good work. The section boss 
at Chappell was a man named Wolf, lately 
from North Platte, who had two boys, Ed. and 
Frank. Another section hand. Mr. Meituer, 
lived in a shack southwest of the station and 
also had two boys ; these four boys consisted of 
the pupils of this pioneer school. One of the 
boys, Ed. Wolf, has since served his county as 
commissioner, and is now serving Chappell as 
trustee and councilman. He has gained promi- 
nence since the early days as he is president of 
the Deuel County Bank. Frank Wolf is cashier 
of the Cheyenne County State Bank, at Lodge- 
pole, which shows that the early day training 
was excellent. In this section house on Janu- 
ary 10, 1881, Dora Wolf was born, the" first 
white child born in what is now Deuel county. 
She married Cyrus Brown, a native of Mercer 
county, Illinois, who was afterwards county 
clerk of Deuel county for a number of years. 



She contracted lung trouble in the flu epidemic 
of 1918 and died in 1920. 

About 1883, John O'Neil resigned as agent 
for the railroad and the following year, 1884, 
J. B. and M. A. Carmichael surveyed a tract 
of ground for the town site of Chappell which 
was filed at Sidney August 27, 1884. On 
September 19, they sold a number of lots, tne 
first of which was bought by George W. Mc- 
Cluskey. He purchased nine lots for a hun- 
dred and twenty dollars. They were in block 
seventeen. On the same day John O'Ne'l 
bought eight lots, namely: 1, 2, 3, 13, 14, 15, 
17, and 18, in block 18, for which he paid one 
hundred and sixty dollars. H. A. Simpson also 
bought a number of lots in block 18 for a 
hundred and fifty-seven dollars, which gives 
some idea of the value of real estate in those 
days in a new country and new town. Thomas 
Farmer was also a purchaser of lots on that 
eventful day. The conclusion of that day's 
transactions. I should say, "Land office busi- 
ness," was the sale to Henry W. Wiemer of 
lot 11, block 12 for twenty dollars. 

Later in the year, in November and Decem- 
ber, other sales were made in Chappell, but the 
business of the town did not grow. There was 
no activity and the sales were in the way of 
a speculation. Tim McCluskey built the little 
building in which he ran the first store in 
Chappel. He also had a postoffice established 
and became the first postmaster of Chappell. 
Mr. O'Neil was one of the first men to handle 
real estate in the town and county and though 
fifteen years passed after the establishment of 
the station at Chappell, there was little or no 
town of consequence. 

At Sidney there was some activity in real 
estate. A few people were beginning to come 
into the prairie country and locate preemption 
claims and timber claims which did not require 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



229 



much pretense of residence. Joe C. Johnson 
came to Sidney in 1882 with ranching in view; 
he was from Missouri and kept thinking he 
might go back but with another man worked 
together selling land, though really looking for 
something for himself. The other man was a 
surveyor and had work near Lodgepole. When 
they were through there they decided to come 
on to the Chappell locality and drove down the 
valley. They arrived quite late and the only 
place to stay in Chappell was a shack near the 
station. Johnson rapped on the door but the 
woman of the house had retired. John- 
son asked if they could get supper and 
was told it was too late. A kettle was on the 
stove and Johnson said, "Well, we can do with- 
out supper, but I have a quart of whiskey out 
in the buggy and I want some of that hot water 



tempt to stimulate business two of the three 
had given a "wash sale," but they and the 
other one went to Johnson in this deal. Today 
these lots are situated at the best corner in 
Chappell on the best street intersection where 
the present business is located. The Masonic 
hall is now on the corner, which shows the 
changes that have taken place since the day of 
the deal. 

Jack Crowe had a drug store at Lodgepole 
at the time Chappell was started and within a 
short time built quite a pretentious store build- 
ing in Chappell about 1884. It cost six hundred 
dollars or more and he put in a stock of drugs 
with his brother in charge. Eugene Fish started 
the first pool hall in Chappell, but did not have 
much business. In 1888, he and a Mr. Lazerus 
put in a stock of drugs ; then they bought the 




Chapi-eix ix 1886 



to go with it." The man of the house bright- 
ened up. He rapped on the inner door and 
called to his wife to get up and she replied 
she would not, then he said, "Listen, old wo- 
man, these men want some supper, and he has 
gone out to get a quart of whiskey." When 
Johnson returned the woman was up and doing 
and she helped "deflate" the quart. The old 
man sliced some meat as there was a part of 
a beef hanging outside and they soon had a 
good hot meal to eat. At this time John O'Neil 
and a man named Short, were trying to get 
Chappell started and they urged Johnson to 
buy a lot, as they could advertise that more 
people were coming and buying lots. Johnson 
and his friend were out in the country and 
looked over some railroad land, where a tract 
that suited Johnson was found and he bought 
it. When they came back to the station, O'Neil 
and Short tried again to get him to buy a lot 
in the town site. Mr. Johnson looked about 
and asked what they would take for a certain 
corner of three lots. They said to start it, 
"four dollars a lot. or twelve dollars for the 
three." Johnson bought them. In an early at- 



Crowe stock and moved it into the building 
which had just been completed. 

Ira Brashears took up realty more enthusias- 
tically when he disposed of the Rustler, and 
built the first frame dwelling house in Chappell. 
Before that all the houses had the appearance 
of temporary shacks, which in reality they 
were, so the first real house was an important 
event. 

Ben Beatty built and started up early in 1886 
but sold to Fred Sudman in February and went 
to Julesburg. Fred Sudman thus started in the 
mercantile business, and later formed a combi- 
nation with Eugene Fish in the Sudman-Fish 
Company, which became and continued an im- 
portant business concern for years, with stores 
at Chappell, Oshkosh and Lewellen. Today the 
company is out of the mercantile business in 
which they prospered. 

Isaac Woolf is one of the sturdy characters 
of Deuel county development, as he came here 
about 1884 and built the first real hotel in 
Chappell. It was called the Chappell hotel and 
Still stands just east of the First National bank- 
corner, although it was built more than thirty- 



230 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



five years ago. In 1886, Isaac Woolf started 
the first meat market in Chappell and about 
the same time Mrs. Woolf started the first mil- 
linery store, which filled a much needed want 
as women had to go to Sidney for their hats. 
At that time there were no barber shops in 
Chappell. as Nicholas Zehr's fine parlor had 
not been established. As Mr. Woolf could 
handle a razor, he also became the first ton- 
sorial artist. He was a man of diversified abil- 
ity and talents as he also cried sales and be- 
came the first auctioneer to practice that voca- 
tion in Deuel county territory. 

During twenty-eight years of the time he has 
lived in Chappell Isaac Woolf has been county 
judge, breaking all records in the Panhandle 
of Nebraska to hold such an office. 




Business House, Chappell 

The destinies of people are so interwoven 
that one can hardly understand it. In the years 
when John O'Neil was teaching school in the 
crude surroundings of the depot at Chappell, 
Allie Warner was teaching school in New 
York. One of her pupils was F. G. LaSelle ; 
something brought Miss Warner to Chappell, 
and when they built the frame school house and 
established the first real school, Allie Warner 
became the first teacher. Then she married 
John O'Neil, the merchant, and after that her 
former pupil, J. G. LaSelle, came from New 
York to Chappell and bought her husband's 
store. LaSelle and his sons, G. S. and G. G. 
LaSelle, ran this store for many years, finally 
selling to the Ryan Chain Department Stores. 
So the first store in Chappell still exists merged 
in the larger establishment of Ryan's. 

John ( i'Neil early entered enthusiastically 
into the plan- of Air. Carmichael to make the 
railroad station at Chappell a community cen- 
ter, with conveniences and associations of the 
best. Ira Brashear's voice and pen, the fine 
characters of W. II. Babcock and Isaac Woolf, 
the business enterprises of Joe Johnson, Fred 
Sudman, and 'Gene Fish, the ranch home prop- 
erties ni August Neuman, Mr. Wolf and 



others all combined early in the formation years 
to build an enduring basis for Chappell's ulti- 
mate success. 

Gordon & Chingreen started a store in 1886 
and then Chingreen sold his interest to Gordon 
and later Gordon sold to Milliken & Swanson. 
They in turn sold to Burke, and Burke to M. 
L. Tobias. This store is now known as the 
Chappell Mercantile Company. 

So Chappell emerged from the unknown 
some twenty years after the railroad reached 
that point on the map. Yet Chappeli was not 
incorporated as a village for another score of 
years. The necessary two hundred people were 
found by taking in a farm or two. They might 
have left out the farmers if they had taken in 
the railroad and station men. 

L. O. Pfeiffer had just come to Chappell 
and was in the office of G. C. McAllister and 
Mr. Pfeiffer drew the papers as suggested by 
McAllister. In the light of years it would seem 
that while serving Deuel county in general, in 
this particular, McAllister also served the 
Union Pacific railroad. In the light of experi- 
ence Attorney Pfeiffer would notice the differ- 
ence it would make in the village tax possibili- 
ties, if the south line of the corporate limits was 
on the south line of the railroad right of way, 
instead of upon the north line. At that time it 
would be but natural that he would not notice 
any particulars, except the details of accuracy 
in drawing the petition. In this way Chappell 
lost out on her tax roll collections some consid- 
erable sums. 

On September 10, 1907, the county commis- 
sioners of Deuel county made the necessary- 
record for bringing into existence the first cor- 
porate village of Deuel county. They named 
for the first trustees of Chappell, Fred Sudman, 
H. I. Babcock. Oran B. Bower, John Wertz, 
and Charles Soeton. Chappell's first village 
board therefore spoke for efficiency and that 
the town maintains its original high standard 
is emphasized by the names of the present 
members : August Neuman, M. B. Patty, Ed. 
C. Wolf. Frank Burling and Walter Stewart. 

By the autumn of 1887, nearly all lines of 
business were represented in Chappell. Fred 
Sudman's general mercantile store and E. Fish 
& Company's drug store had not yet consoli- 
dated. W. D. Post was in the lumber business, 
and B. D. K. Wertz had a hardware store. 
McEldowney & Wertz ran a livery stable. Mil- 
liken & Swanson had by that time acquired the 
store started by Gordon & Chingreen. C. C. 
Reynolds had put in a line of farm implements, 
although most of the grangers brought theirs 
with them. A. P. Wilcox had taken up the 
pump and windmill line and wells were being 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



put in as fast as the settlers could get time and 
means. Most of the well appliances were im- 
provised windlasses or wheels with buckets and 
a rope. Lee & Lee and W. H. Sigler were at- 
torneys and Hosea Hudson was the physician 
at Chappell. John O'Neil still maintained that 
he was the pioneer land agent. The Commercial 
National Bank was the only institution of its 
kind in the town, and Mrs. J. B. Laycock ran 
the Chappell hotel and Mr. Funk the bakery. 

Great have been the changes from that day 
to those of 1921, and the business of Chappell 



to other business and we now find Ryan's Chain 
Department Store. The Bostonian, Chappell 
Mercantile, Stephens Grocery, Airs. McAuliff, 
Dry Goods, Chappell Cash Grocery and other 
new institutions lining the business thorough- 
fares. Thompson's Pharmacy, modern and up- 
to-date occupies the site of Chappell's first drug 
store, and "Rexall" has an active representative 
in H. J. Handley's Pharmacy. Chappell has a 
number of small hostelries and excellent room- 
ing houses, while places to eat, restaurants, 
cafes, bakeries and the like are found in all 




is illustrative of the progress of Deuel county. 
The old frame structures have largely passed 
out of existence here and new brick buildings 
of the most substantial order and the best qual- 
ity are in evidence in the business district. Nat- 
urally garages to care for the expanding auto- 
mobile business are on every hand and service 
stations greet the eyes on the Lincoln highway 
at the town approaches. Distributing houses 
for tractors and implements for bonanza farm- 
ing are of importance. One of the largest in- 
stitutions of its kind is the Chappell Lumber 
& Hardware Company ; the Western Hardware 
Company is also a concern of importance. 

In the older days the Sudman & Fish Com- 
pany and LaSelle Brothers and those still 
earlier were prominent in commercial industry 
and mercantile lines. Todav thev have taken 



parts of the business section. Bracken's Under- 
taking and Furniture establishment is a com- 
paratively new and up-to-date establishment 
which meets with the needs of the town and 
surrounding territory. Land and investment 
firms have prospered amazingly with the rise of 
land values and more settlement in Deuel coun- 
ty. Distinctively as an example of progressive 
cooperation, the Farmers Elevator Company, 
managed by Mr. Morrison, stands preemi- 
nently out in the town and county. Handling 
vast quantities of grain and milling products, it 
is a shining example of organized farmer's suc- 
cess. The fanners also coopertae in the pur- 
chase and handling of farm machinery. This 
elevator has a capacity of five thousand four 
hundred bushels an hour, though for delivery 
to cars and shipment about twenty thousand 



232 



HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA 



bushels a day is what can be handled. About 
six hundred thousand bushels is the record for 
wheat in a season. 

Chappell owns its own water and electric 
plant which is giving fine service to the town. 
Cement sidewalks cover practically the entire 
town and the streets are some of the best in the 
Panhandle. A fine brick school building was 
erected in 1911 at a cost of fifteen thousand 
dollars and is a twelve grade, approved school 
and high school. The Chappell Commercial 
Club is one of the live oraginzations of its 
kind and has done much for the development of 
the town and county. 




Western Lumber & H 



The Chappell State Bank is doing much for 
the town and county, the First National Bank, 
the oldest in the county is an institution that 
from the first has been of influence in the up- 
building of the town, while the Deuel County 
Bank is doing a fine business. 

The Register is an up-to-date newspaper that 
furnishes the town and county with excellent 
service. Today Chappell stands out as one of 
the live, prosperous and thriving towns of the 
Panhandle which is doing a large business, mar- 
keting the crops of the contributing territory 
and supplying it with the necessities of agri- 
cultural life and industry, and bids fair to be- 
come larger and of more importance with the 
increase from farming on modern lines. 

Big Springs 

Big Springs is the second town of importance 
in Deuel county. It is located in the southeast- 
ern part of the county on the Union Pacific rail- 
road in the Platte valley; is the center of a 
fine irrigated farm district and is a growing 
town of progressive people. Big Springs was 
platted and the plat recorded at Sidney, No- 
vember 6, 1884 ; the Union Pacific railroad filed 
the plat. At an earlier date the station was 
known as Lone Tree. Big Springs was known 
at an early day as it was not far from the pres- 
ent town that tin- "crossing" of the famous 
<