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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 inaybe 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.
It nonplussed 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 Ilarry, 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 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 He got
it was an accident. Our last fracas was with Antoine. drunk. Where he got his liquor, I don't know, unless some French
came along. There had been a couple passing during the winter who told us if we did not go away from there the Indians would scalp us and that we had no right there. Asking them how they knew we bad no right there, their reply would be Maj. Sarpy said so.
This was a Frenchman, a trader, who lived at St. Mary's, opposite Bellevue. Antoine was full and wild. We could hear him yell every once in awhile. At last he made a break for our cabin, with an old sword and three or four Indians after him. We shut the door and he pounded at it with his sword till he broke it; then the others got him away. Fred Vogleson got back about the first of February, how I do not remember. We were glad to see him; but the poor fellow had frozen his feet so badly that he could not get around; when they began to slough the stench was sickening in the cabin. He bore his suffering with fortitude, and we could do nothing for him. Through January and February, I do not think there was a cloud in the sky, yet the snow did not melt on the south side of the cabin. We were living on soda-bread, salt pork which had become rusty, beans and coffee. About the last of the month I was taken with scurvy in my knee. Looking at it, I found it was blue. Thinking that I had strained it and that it would soon get well, I did not pay it attention for some time; but it became more painful. I examined it and found it more black. I put cold water on it, which I continued to do a week, it getting worse all the time. Then I poulticed it, all to no effect. The other knee commenced in the same way. Not knowing what to do, I commenced to consult the Indians. They would wash their mouths and chew up roots and spit on it, making signs, continuing the same treatment every day for three weeks, when they came to the conclusion that it would have to be scarrified and the bad blood taken out. Antoine was chief doctor. I made up my mind to bear it till we could get away. In March the snow began to go away, the river rising surrounded us with water; the Indians fled to the bluffs. On the first of April, a steamboat came up loaded for Fort Randal, but not being able to stem the current, she unloaded opposite to us, and sent her yawl over.
It came within ten feet of our door. I think Detwilder and one other man came in it. Our baggage was loaded on; Harry, Vogleson and I
bidding good bye to the boys were soon on the boat. The captain examined me and pronounced my disease scurvy, and supplied me with canned fruit to eat between meals. Within an hour after eating a few peaches, I became very sick. On the following day we arrived at Sioux City, where the town turned out as was the custom, on the arrival of a boat. As soon as we were seen, they greeted us with cheers. When the boat landed it was hand-shaking for some time, they giving us a regular ovation. I was cared for tenderly, taken to the Hagy House which was the Terrific when we left. Here we held a levee, receiving congratulations and telling our story. Doctors Cook and Shelly amputated Fred's toes at the first joint and prescribed a vegetable diet with vinegar for me. Raw potatoes I could not eat, but onions and vinegar were palatable. Vegetables were scarce, but the boys vied with each other in hunting them up. Every once in awhile, I could hear the leaders of my arms snap, as they were straightened out. Inside of three weeks I threw my
. crutches away; Harry and myself took stage to Council Bluffs, where I disposed of my furs; he and I went to look for a team. Finding a man who would sell us two yoke of oxen, a wagon and a load of corn, we bought them; and driving to a livery stable, we put up there and sold the liveryman two thirds of the corn. Buying a breaking piow, four bushels of potatoes—paying twenty dollars for them-a bushel of beans, one hundred pounds of bacon, a keg of molasses, one of vinegar, one hundred pounds of sugar, coffee and garden seeds, axes, spades, ammunition, and whatever we thought we should need for the season, we started on our return to Nebraska. At the Little Sioux we bought three bushels more potatoes and some butter; at Sioux City we got an augur or two and a whetstone, the half of it I have yet, and a little cook stove. Taking Fred and our blankets we proceeded on our way, crossing all streams on bridges the tenth of May. On the 12th we arrived at our destination on the Bazill, in a snow storm; the snow covered the ground four inches deep, but went off that night. The following day, we put up our cabin. After getting the things partially fixed, we went to the town-site, leaving Fred at our camp. Meeting the Indians first who appeared surprised to see me, we would shake hands and say “How, How." Going to the cabin we found Small all right, with five or six others. After exchanging news, which took the greater