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a week, who had inoculated the whole house. Sioux City was a lousy place, but I and my men had changed our clothes and put on some new ones before leaving there. She gave us something to eat and we wormed ourselves back over six long miles. I threw up my contract. I then pulled at an oar on the first ferry that crossed the river here, and made the acquaintance of Melchisadeck Huddleson, by some called Hairie, by others Harry. As I may have consideraA man six feet two
ble to say of him, I will give his description: inches tall, straight as a soldier, with dark complexion, brown eyes, long heavy beard which he had a habit of pulling frequently; he was of a quiet and peaceful habit and weighed about one hundred and seventy-five or eighty pounds, and as strong as an ox; he was between thirty-five and forty years of age at that time. My next employ was to hold down a claim for Joe Holman which he turned into Pacific City. I built the first frame of a house in Dakota county, for him. Whilst doing so, and working round the saw mill there, I would frequently attend Father Martin's prayer meetings and listen to his Sabbath discourses. He had bought thirteen acres of timber land near by, calculating to get from it so many thousand feet of lumber and two hundred cords of wood. The wood would be worth six hundred dollars an acre, to say nothing of the lumber. I happened to be in Sioux City when he arrived by steamer, and was amused to see him hunting for a barrel of soft soap while his family were standing on the bank waiting for him. He found it, and has been using it for many years on the people of Dakota county through the columns of the Eagle. In November there was a claim meeting called at Sioux City, of claim holders of the Niobrara, consisting of B. Y. Shelly, Judge Hubbard, Frank West, George Detwilder, Treadway, Holman and some others. Huddleson, I believe, had taken one on the Bazill. I had none, but was hired to go up and hold the claims at sixty-five dollars per month, with grub, by the town company, and was elected recorder of the club. We had a constitution and bylaws, which allowed me one dollar for recording a claim. But I never charged and was glad to see people come in. Buying nine pair of fine large white bed blankets of Holman, and one hundred pounds of sugar, some coffee and beads to trade on, and loading some provisions of the company's, Harry Huddleson, Vogleson, Smith and myself, with a yoke of oxen, started for our destined
At St. Johns, on the Dakota bottom, was an Irish colony of Catholics. After that there was neither a settlement nor a house for a hundred miles. Following an Indian trail, we crossed Iowa Creek, where Ponca is now located; following up the west branch to its head we crossed to the Lime Creek hills, passing on to Bean where we camped for the night. These valleys are the best part of North Nebraska. The next night we were at Secre Grove, and the last night we lay out on a hill about eight miles from our destination with the wind blowing a gale; all our bed clothes would not keep us warm. At dawn of day we proceeded, keeping an Indian trail which we had followed from the Dakota bottom. Harry had been over the route in August previous and had assisted in putting up a cabin and stable, which we were to occupy. Arriving at our destination we found ourselves on a bottom five miles long, one and a half wide, bounded on the west by the Running Water, or Niobrara; Missouri river on the north, Bazill on the east and high bluffs on the south. The cabin was situated about central, close to a willow bed and two hundred yards from the Missouri. It was built three logs on a side and four on ends, one across the top, and covered with willows, grass, and a foot of earth. The logs would average about two and a half feet in diameter. A twelve-light window of 7x9 glass, placed horizontally in the south, with a good strong door at the east, completed the house. Inside the dimensions were 14x16 feet, and banked up with earth three feet high. Three or four rods to the east, was the stable. I would not have been so descriptive here, but as there have been some high and almost tragic scenes taken place which nothing but unbounded courage and good judgment could or did avoid. Here we were in a village of one thousand hostile savages camped all around us, claiming the country. The old settlers who, Mr. Draper, in his history, says, were burned out and took refuge in the old Fort, were R. R. Cowan and James Small, the ashes of whose houses were never seen. If Cowan had been there in '53, he must have been a Mormon. The only evidence of their having been there was a pair of mill buhrs cut in scientific form from a boulder, about two feet and a half in diameter.
After a day or two Cowan, not liking the situation left, I believe, on foot and alone, for Sioux City, leaving five of us there to contend with the Indians; they became more ugly each day. But we went
on with our work, paying no attention to them, getting our logs for the purpose of building a double log house. We would cut them sixteen or eighteen feet long, two or more feet in diameter, to be split and hewn to seven inches; we thus had quite a log yard near our cabin. When the Indians appeared to be very much excited, every once and awhile one would make a speech, going through camp; not knowing a word of what he said, but by his gestures and emphasis and modulation of voice, I could imagine a Cicero on the stage. Afterwards numbers of them would walk and stand in our way. I walked round a number of them, when one came up and stopped, stiffened himself so I saw it was design. I gave him a push and sent him about a rod. The whole tribe, I noticed, were on the watch. They did not bother me any more that day. The next day. we had a visit from Michel Whip Hard-Walker, Antoine Bear-Claws, and maybe one more, at our cabin. They came in, we offered them seats as far as we could. They sat down remaining quiet for some time. I noticed that they felt elated. When Michel pulled out a big envelope and looking around he at last handed it to me. I took it, looked at the address and saw it was addressed to R. R. Cowan, below the Running Water. I made him understand, that it was for the man, who had gone to Sioux City. I wanted him to take it to him or send it. He would not. Then he wanted me to open it. I gave him to understand, that I dare not. I could see him getting mad, and I handed it back to him and told him to open it. plussed him. He remained quiet for some time, then got up, laying the letter on the table, and they all left. Knowing by intuition that, there was something in it that we should know, after consultation, it was agreed it should be opened. Doing so I read it, finding it a very abusive document, ordering us away, signed Col. Lee, commanding Fort Randal. Handing it to Small I called Harry out; we took our axes and worked near each other. I told him the contents and what I thought best to do. Smith was so scared that his eyes protruded from their sockets; and thinking it would probably get us into worse trouble, I sent him and Vogleson down with it. He thought Smith. might take it alone. Going in, I told Small to read the letter to Harry, Smith and Vogleson; to watch that no Indians came around. After a general talk, my proposition was accepted; they left early the next morning. On Cowan's receiving the letter, it was posted to
the Bluffs, where one of the company resided, a relative of the Secretary of the Interior, and by him sent to Washington, where it kicked up a fuss with Secretary of War Davis, who ordered Lee to countermand his order and apologize for the language it contained. This order and apology, I never saw, but was told of it. The Indians, who had been delayed from going on their fall hunt by our presence, now started out, leaving an old squaw to die of old age. She fixed herself a hut and was comfortable, until some young bucks came along and destroyed it. She fixed up again and we gave her some provisions.
We were now at peace, three of us alone. On the first, second and third of December, 1856, there was one of the most terrific blizzards, ever known to this country. We hewed down the inside of our cabin for fuel. Snow fell four feet on the bottom, and ravines were piled in places twenty feet deep. Prior to this the weather had been warm and pleasant. We had to shovel our cattle out, although their stable was warm, and melt snow for them, till we could shovel a road to the river. In a couple of days, we got things straightened out, and started out to see what we could do, one going ahead awhile, then the other. I would frequently have to butt the snow with my shoulder to get through. After going to where we knew some logs
lay, we returned tired out. Not giving up we made a log sled, and when the snow settled a little, we went to pulling logs in, with the view to have on hand what we wanted before the Indians returned. About the twentieth of December an officer and a man came along on their way to the Fort, traveling on the river, where the snow was not so deep. They stopped and had some dinner with us, relating their experience which was that they had got west of Jim River with corn for Fort Randal, when the storm struck them. Some of their animals froze, and others were turned loose. What fire they could keep up was made out of shelled corn. After the storm, they abandoned the train. I remarked that it would make corn dear with them. Replying he said, every bushel cost them four dollars and ten cents delivered. After discussing the news, Harry remarked that east of Peoria, Ill., they sometimes raised one hundred bushels to the acre; one man would plough the ground and cultivate forty acres. Taking my pencil I went to figuring; $16,400.00. That is better than town-site speculation, I replied, and I would take a claim and
go to growing corn, and as soon as I could, I climbed the highest hills south of the town-site. Finding a level piece of ground, I stuck my stake and recorded my claim. Now the Indians began to come back from a poor hunt, tired and starved. After a week they all arrived but Hard-Walker, a chief, who was found a month or six weeks later on an island in the Niobrara, starved to skin and bones. He was carried in by his tribe to his tepee, where they all brought him something to eat. Wanting to be in fashion, I took a pint of sugar and went to his tepee, and gave it to him. He was the best looking one of them all when in health and would weigh two hundred pounds. When leaving I thought I could see gratitude in his eyes. From now on our cabin window was darkened with squaws watching Small cook. Studying their signs and learning some of their words I began to trade with them. During the winter I got three hundred dollars worth of furs. When they wanted to trade, they would cross their fingers and say swap. Letting them in they would stay till I told them to go. Sometimes they would get saucy and refuse. I would open the door and tell them to "git;” if they stiffened themselves up, I would grab them and throw them through it, their heads striking the top. Harry who was bothered by their stealing his cattle ropes, found, one day, a young buck with one under his blanket. He took it from him, the Indian trying to hold it. Small came up, handed out a pistol and told him to shoot him. Harry says "You take that thing in the house." I had never seen him so mad before. It took a couple of days to work off, and I don't think he ever after felt the same friendship for Small. Another day we were hewing logs when the Indians put a mark on the tree and went to shoot at it. From where they shot we were not more than eight feet from the line of sight. Not liking balls coming quite so close, I told them to go farther away, and if they did not I would knock them down. One who was, I should judge, about twenty-five years old came up out of the willows and blazed away. I went up to him and struck him hard in the mouth with my glove on, knocking his front teeth out but not flooring him. He got on a high mole with his gun raised in the most awkward position to strike, tears running from his eyes. Laughing at him I told him to go to his tepee. He went while the whole tribe were looking on. This shooting was a design, either to intimidate us or to shoot us and then say