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came twenty miles and camped for the night within five miles of Salt creek.
June 14. Passed Salt Creek crossing. There was a house near the crossing. We followed down the valley to the north. There were a few settlers along the creek. Camped for dinner near the creek. After noon passed Lancaster, seat of Lancaster county. The town consists of one small store, two dwelling houses, and a blacksmith shop. This is now Lincoln. Passed the Salt basin. We saw where they had been making salt. Camped for the night near the salt basin and one mile from Salt Creek. We are told that it is twenty miles to where we will find wood and water again. Plenty of wild grass everywhere. We filled a keg with water, wet the keg, and laid it out in the grass and left it there until morning to take with us. The water was much colder next morning than when we dipped it from the branch.
June 15. We saw the first antelope. We found that it was full twenty miles to wood and water. After traveling about twenty-five miles we camped on a small creek called Oak creek, near a trapper's cabin. He had two elk calves in a pen and a small cabin about half full of skins of wild animals of different kinds. We shot our first elk near here.
June 16. We built a bridge so as to cross the creek. timber is about twenty rods wide. We traveled eight miles and camped for dinner on the prairie near where Dwight is now. One of our party found a prairie hen's nest and we had eggs for dinner. The cook is known by the name of Michigan, that being the state that he is from. The kettles, except for bread, are made of sheet iron. Our coffee is quite black from the effects of the kettle. They answer well for other victuals. Bread is baked in thick iron skillets with legs. Cups and plates are made of tin. Every one furnishes his own knife, and fingers take the place of forks. The fire is built in a hole in the ground, dug for the purpose. After noon we saw a small party of Indians. They were on the ground when first seen, but soon got on their ponies and rode away towards the west. We came to the old
California Road and followed it about five miles to the Platts mouth Road. There is a house where they keep travelers over night. It is called a ranch. The ranchman's name is David
Reed. He had just killed an antelope. There are plenty of wild strawberries here. We camp for the night near the ranch.
June 17. Sunday. The morning is very cold for the season. We were none too warm by the camp-fire with our overcoats on. We traveled sixteen miles and camped for noon at Shinns' Ferry on Platte river. Weather quite warm. Big change since morning. The boat is run by David Gardner and Dennis Hookstra. The boat is a flat bottom and will carry one wagon at a time. The river is about eighty rods wide. They have a large cable rope stretched across the riyer and tied at one end to a tree and the other end to a stout post set in the ground for the purpose. In each end of the boat is rope and windlass, with the ends of the rope attached to pulleys on the large cable rope. The water in the river is swift, and when they want to go to the north they turn the north end up toward the cable and lower the south end. The force of the water forces the boat across the stream to near the shore and then with poles they shove it to the shore. When they want to go back to the south, they wind up the windlass to raise the south end and lower the north end, and the force of the water forces the boat back to the other shore.
After crossing the main channel of the river on the boat, we were fording a narrow channel about two hundred feet wide, when one wagon loaded with flour in sacks got stuck in the quicksand about half way across. In our hurry to unload we carried the flour to the bank from which we came and did not notice that we were just as near the other bank until we had most of the flour unloaded. When we got the wagon out we had to wade the channel and carry the flour over on our shoulders. We thought that did pretty well for a set of engineers. After going one mile we camped for the night. Very little woodland, very sandy, and great numbers of mosquitoes. They made the oxen roar with pain. We protected ourselves with thick clothing and built smokes for the cattle and ourselves.
The cattle would stand near the fires and hold their heads in the smoke.
June 18. We came eighteen miles and camped for the noon on Loup river at Columbus, where the wagon road from Omaha to the mountains crosses that stream on a pontoon bridge. A great number of freight teams crosses here. The Union Pacific railroad also crosses here. The track was laid through here a few days ago. Perhaps there are thirty or forty houses all told. There is neither a white woman nor a white child in sight. Hundreds of Indians of both sexes and all ages, some nearly naked and striped with paint, and carrying war clubs, others with bows. and arrows, others rolled in buffalo robes and lounging about. We saw one old Indian beat his squaw because she let the ponies get away. She put her blanket over her head and went around making a blubbering cry for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then was as quiet as the rest. She was herding the ponies on the wild grass when they started to play and run past her and ran perhaps one mile down the valley, and went to grazing again. They were still in plain sight from where we were. We will get our turn to cross the river soon after noon. We have to take our turn in rotation.
We did not get across until nearly four o'clock P. M. The bridge is made by laying it on flat boats stood side by side. The boats are fastened to a big cable rope and the rope tied to posts on each bank. An Indian skull decorates the top of one of the posts. We came two miles and camped for the night.
June 19. We traveled along the Platte River valley. It is level and sparsely settled. The houses are mostly of either logs or sods and covered with dirt. There are many hands at work building the U. P. railroad. They are making about three miles per day. There are also many Indians. They are of a friendly tribe called Pawnees. They live by their aid from the government, begging and eating the offals of the railroad camps. We camped for the night near the laid track of the railroad. Beds are made in this country by spreading one pair of woolen blankets or a buffalo robe on the ground, and covering with another
pair of blankets. If the ground is wet they first spread a rubber blanket, and if it is raining, they spread another rubber blanket over the top. The Indians can roll themselves in one buffalo robe so as to cover their heads and feet too, and lay and sleep in that manner.
June 20. A cloudy day and the mosquitoes are very bad.
June 21. Camped for noon near the O K store and saw General Curtis' block house. It is made of red cedar posts like railroad ties, but longer. They are set on end in the ground and project up about ten feet above the ground. It is built in a square about 300 feet long on each side and each corner is made with a projection or a small square built the same as the other, only about fifteen feet square each way. They were joined together in just such a shape as if the corner had been cut off of the large square and the two openings set together. These small squares had port holes so as to give free range of each wall of the large square. After noon we got to and crossed Wood river and camped near it for the night.
June 22 and 23 was spent in reaching Fort Kearney Military Reservation and in getting ready to begin the survey.
June 24 we began the survey from the northwest corner of the reservation to the north, and in a few hours were out of sight of the line of travel, and here over a dry and sandy country, with no sign that any white person had ever been here before, with only the pranks of the wild animals to break the monotony of the scene, we worked day after day. On the morning of the fourth of July we fired off our guns, and then the same old routine, but soon after I got sick and quit the work. The people, though strangers, were as kind as they could well be under the circumstances. It is not a good country to be sick in; but after lying in a tent for a long time I got better, but did not make much. I came back and took a district school near Lancaster, and soon got stout and ready to try the west again.
THE COST OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT-THEN AND NOW.
Read at the Annual Meeting, January 15, 1896. Written by Hon. J. Sterling Morton.
The organic act of the territory of Nebraska became law in May, 1854. A proclamation was issued by Acting Governor Cuming in December of that year, convening the territorial legislative assembly on the Omaha townsite, in January, 1855. That session of the territorial legislative assembly was the inauguration of local civil government in Nebraska. Counties were instituted and their boundaries described and established. All the machinery for neighborhood government was set up ready for use. Under it each community, as a corporation, entered upon civil life penniless. No county, city, or town corporation came into being as the heir of anything more than the right to govern itself. The power, however, to levy taxes was vested in each communal corporation. The county and the city had each the power to levy taxes only for public purposes. The savages, whom that small settlement of frontiersmen, as proprietors, succeeded, had no such thing as legislation or taxation. They had not emerged from barbarism and tribal relations. The pioneers had, however, in their own race history recorded the fact that, while in a barbaric state each individual for himself had to protect his person, its earnings, and its liberty, and that civilization began when humanity emerged from its primitive condition and declared that each person was entitled to life, liberty, and its own earnings, and that therefore all must be combined for the defense and preservation of the rights of each. This was the best aim and duty of civilization. In fact, up to this date the principal business of civilization and its laws is to protect, by the power of all, the natural rights of each. To accomplish this, the power to tax has been evolved and vested in governments.