« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
of a liberal quantity of firearms, although, as to-day, they carried their bows and arrows. One of the staple articles that was traded to the Indians was packages of strap or hoop iron. These were exchanged for furs and meat. From these bundles of strap iron the Indians fashioned their lances and arrow heads. The fur company supplied them with firearms, mostly flint-lock, smooth-bore guns. These they continued to use until the advent of the breach-loaders. The company also furnished the Indians with swords that the company obtained from the sale of abandoned military equipments sold by the United States and other nations. Among the other staple articles handled by the company and exchanged with the Indians were sugar, molasses, flour, tea, coffee, hominy, and anything that the Indians in their contact with the whites had learned to want. Powder, lead, flints, and knives were in great demand.
The first buffaloes sighted by Mr. Morin, in 1836, were seen on about what is now the site of Sioux City, as he, with other voyageurs, worked his
way further up
the river. The number of buffaloes increased on either bank. Many bands were seen on this voyage up. Numbers were crossing the river and many were shot from the boat.
Mr. Morin continued in the employ of the American Fur Company five years, also with Rabbit & Cotton six years, and with Harvey, Premo & Co. about the same time. Altogether he was engaged in working and trading for these three companies about seventeen years. At that time no whites were in the trans-Missouri country except those engaged in the fur business. No permanent settlements were found except along the Missouri river. He remembers that about 1850 a few whites commenced to settle along the Missouri. Back from the river the country was inhabited solely by Indians. Bands of hardy trappers and traders were continually coming in and trading with the company. On the arrival of any of these bands at the post the agents made them an offer on their loads and if a trade was closed the trappers received an order or check on their principal house in St. Louis. This order was good at any of the company stores. Money was also obtained on these orders. The principal nationalities who were engaged in this work were French-Canadians and Americans. The trappers were called free men, as they worked entirely free of any control, and what they earned was their own. Mr. Morin remembers the Mandan Indians, who, he states, were tall, powerful-built Indians, with blue eyes, and some of them had fair hair. These, he states, were considered the bravest Indians of the plains. History records their almost entire destruction by that dread disease, the small-pox.
In 1844 Mr. Morin crossed over the Rocky mountains to the Pacific coast under the guidance of Jim Bridger, from whom Fort Bridger, Wyoming, was afterwards named. On this trip the party had several fights with the Indians. One man, by the name of Lambert, was dangerously wounded on this trip. The first white man's residence that they reached, in what is now the state of California, was Sutter's Fort, where gold was first discovered in 1849. Mr. Sutter had a grist mill at that time, run by water power. Here the wounded trapper, Lambert, had the Indian arrow extracted from his back by a Dr. White. The following year, 1845, Mr. Morin returned to the Missouri river. On this trip, going and returning, the only white resident seen was at Fort Bridger, on Green river, Wyoming. The country was inhabited only by Indians. When he first crossed the continent to California, buffalo, antelope, deer, and other game were more plentiful than domestic animals are to-day. West of Green river, no buffalo were seen, although deer and antelope were plentiful. During these seventeen years when in the employ of these companies, he was often in great danger from hostile bands of Indians, who, while not engaged in war upon the whites directly, were on raiding or war excursions to attack some other bands or tribes of the plains or mountains. Mr. Morin bears on his person the marks of two arrow wounds, one on his side, and one on his knee. Mr. Morin, although seventy-eight years of age, is still active and vigorous. He is now residing at the home of one of his daughters, Mrs Fillion, of North Platte, Nebraska. Mr. Morin credits his good health and vigor at his advanced age to
the fact that he never dissipated nor engaged in the carouses common to the men of the frontier in those early days. In 1848 he married Miss Valentine Peters, of St. Louis. Miss Peters' father was a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi river. Eight children are the result of this union. All are alive to-day. In 1853 Mr. Morin established a trading post at the mouth of Box Elder canyon.
This canyon is about two miles west of where Fort McPherson, Nebraska, was afterwards located. A few years after this he built a very commodious and substantial trad. ing ranch and post at the mouth of what is now known as Morin's Canyon. This ranch he occupied until 1868, when on the decline of travel he built a small house, or ranch, near the old Jack Morrow ranch, where for a short time he resided. He afterwards built and lived in a house five miles west of the fort. From 1862 until 1872 he was in the employ of the government as Indian interpreter.
Mr. Morin lost his wife on the 28th day of August, 1875, by the accidental discharge of a gun. While she was journeying along the road on a trip to gather wild grapes an emigrant, in pulling his gun from his wagon, accidentally discharged the same, the contents striking Mrs. Morin in the breast. From this death occurred the next day.
Of some of the Indian tribes he remembers that the Mandans and Rees cultivated the ground, raised corn, pumpkins, and a few other vegetables. The Sioux were always at war with all other tribes.
Mr. Morin's father first inspired him with a desire to visit the mountains and plains of the west, as he had been a fur trader and trapper on Lake Superior before those waters became a part of the American possession.
During the first twenty years of his life on the plains Mr. Morin lived quite a good proportion of his time in the camps of the Indians with whom he traded. He was always welcome, and when in their camps was always well treated. In those early days the only danger to the whites was from maurauding bands that were engaged in plundering opposing tribes or from some Indian outlaw who desired to acquire his property without trading or recompense.
Mr. Morin states that there are as many variations of character among the Indians as among the whites; the good and the bad, the lazy and the thrifty, the improvident and reckless, the intelligent and the imbeciles, the industrious and the careless, some who have a natural inclination to acquire property and some who are always in want and distress.
For nearly twenty-eight years the writer has been acquainted with Mr. Morin and his family. He remembers seeing Mr. Morin engaged in trading with the Sioux and other Indians who twentyfive years ago would often pass through North Platte on their trips north and south. Mr. Morin is to-day in all probability one of the oldest pioneers of the plains now living. He, as a man,
: never aspired to become a scout or Indian fighter.
The writer remembers that the statement was general that in early days, before the whites were numerous, Mr. Morin was one of the members of the Ponca Indian tribe, and whether he was a married member of that tribe or not the writer does not know, but it was a fashion in those early days for traders to take to themselves Indian wives. Whether he adopted this plan of one of the prohibition candidates for president who hailed from California he does not know or care to know. Mr. Morin was a fair business man, as he could buy and sell in a way that showed that if he had been trained for a mercantile life he would have made a good merchant or salesman.
Despite Mr. Morin's years and the terrible hardships he has undergone, he walks the streets of our city with quick, active steps and indicates that he has many years of life yet before him. His mind and recollections are yet clear and strong. When he passes away he will be the last of that hardy band of early pioneers who have seen the trans-Missouri country become converted from a barren and savage wilderness into a land of civilization and of homes.
TRAVELS IN NEBRASKA IN 1866.
Diary kept by J. P. Dunlap, of Dwight, Nebr., and read by him before the State
Historical Society January 15, 1896.
On the eighth day of June, 1866, we had come eight miles, across a hilly prairie without any road, and were camped for dinner near the south line of Nebraska. There was plenty of good water and grass, but no timber. The party consisted of two surveying parties from Leavenworth, Kansas. The one that I was with consisted of fourteen men under Henry H. Hackbush, and two wagons loaded with outfits and provisions, drawn by two yoke of oxen to each wagon. We were going to survey into sections Buffalo and Hall counties. The other party was to keep with us until we crossed the Platte river. After noon we came ten miles to a little settlement called Pawnee City, that being the name of a postoffice there. It looked as if they were going to build a village. We liked the looks of the country much better. There were good water, some timber, and an abundance of wild strawberries where we camped for the night.
June 9. We traveled twenty-five miles to-day without a road, nothing happening worthy of note. We camped for the night on Yankee creek. Plenty of good water and wood.
June 10. Sunday. This rainy morning we stayed in camp until noon.
After noon we traveled ten miles, passing two settlers' cabins. We camped for the night near a small creek, where there was plenty of water and wood.
June 11. A rainy day. We all took a hunt, found and killed a wild cat near our camp. We hitched up at four o'clock P. M., traveled four miles, broke a wagon tongue, and camped.
June 12. We fixed the wagon tongue in the forenoon. In the afternoon we came twelve miles, passing a few farms. After killing a big rattlesnake, got rained on, and camped.
June 13. Got out of sight of timber. Got in a wagon road,