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Bypaths of Kansas History - August 1938

(Vol. 7, No. 3), pages 325 to 331.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.


Editorial in the New York Daily Tribune, June 12, 1851.

WILL NOTHING BE DONE?-From Our office window, which looks upon the park, we yesterday saw a woman with a child in her arms thrown down by a cow running loose near the City Hall. After throwing her down the infuriated animal turned and tossed her over with her horns, so that for a moment it seemed inevitable that she should be killed. Fortunately several persons seeing the danger, hastened to the spot and rescued her. We believe that neither she nor the child were gored or received serious harm otherwise.

This is not a new nor a rare occurrence. Such things have happened again and again for these two years past, not to go back further. The press has raised its voice to implore the proper action on the part of the city government. In our columns within a twelvemonth, we have published some dozen earnest paragraphs to rouse attention and procure a remedy. Our contemporaries have been equally faithful to their duty.

Does the reader ask what has been done? We will tell him. Within a few months two persons have been killed by cattle driven loose in the streets; the death of one we recorded on Monday last; several others have been more or less severely injured.

Apparently Our city government are indifferent to this destruction of human life, this goring of women and children, and breaking of their limbs. It is for the interest of some parties-we ask not who-that cattle should have the range of the streets and public places. That now and then a person should be killed or maimed is comparatively of no consequence.

We know not what others may think of this conduct on the part of the common council, the mayor, the police, or whoever, or whatever is at fault in this business. For Our part, looking at its fatal consequences, we call it CRIME, and shall so brand it till it is reformed.

Editorial in the Chase County Leader, Cottonwood Falls, January 17, 1878.

The damage to the contents of farmers' wagons by loose stock, the past week, is a burning shame and disgrace. It is enough to drive every bit of trade from the town. A man cannot leave his wagon to go into a store to trade without having the entire contents pulled out and trampled under foot by town horses and cattle. We saw a woman drive into town yesterday, with a quantity of hay in her wagon to feed her team during her stay, and before she got half way down Broadway there were fifteen head of horses and cows following and trying to eat the hay. Business men comprise a majority of the city council and a decent consideration of the welfare of their patrons should be sufficient inducement for them to stop the nuisance.




Correspondence in the New York Daily Tribune, March 5, 1853.

CHIHUAHUA, Saturday, Dec. 4, 1852.

I promised in my letter of Nov. 27, which I hope will have reached you, to continue my remarks on the country between Missouri and Mexico, and, having given in my first some general outlines of geological and geographical facts observed during my journey, to proceed in this second one to the moral state of the inhabitants of these vast regions. Do not fear that I shall tire your readers with repeating what has been said a hundred times of the Indians of the plains, or of the Mexican frontier; but there are some facts which, to my knowledge at least, are not generally known to the public of the states and of the civilized world in general.

What I am alluding to is the immense extent which the slavery of persons of the white race, if that designation will be allowed for the Spanish-Mexican population, has reached among the Indians of the plains and of the mountains on the frontiers of Mexico, and the character which this slavery has acquired at the present time.

Of all the numerous Comanches and Kiowas, whom we met on the Arkansas in the neighborhood of Fort Atkinson [near present Dodge City] and the crossing of the river, there was indeed scarcely one who had not one or several male or female Mexican children with him, whom they themselves boasted of having kidnapped in Mexico, telling us the places where they were from. To conclude from what we saw, there must be, not hundreds, but thousands of Mexicans, most of them of a tender age, in slavery among the Indians of the plains. Others were full-grown men and women, the former entirely barbarians like their Indian masters among whom they had lived from their youth, the latter in some cases a good dead more cultivated on account of their having been kidnapped at a more advanced age, which is never the case with a male captive, full-grown men being always killed when they fell into the hands of these savages. Some of the Mexican men whom we met in this state of captivity looked worn-out and poor, and complained of being ill-treated and not getting food enough, while others declared that they would by no means, even if they could, return to their native country, and confessed that they were themselves used to participate in those horse-stealing and kidnapping expeditions which the Comanches and Kiowas proudly call "campañas," speaking with an expression of cupidity of the "cavallas, mulas, mugeres y muchachas," the horses, mules, women and girls, of Mexico. The boys appeared to be generally well-treated. Some of them had even been adopted as children by the Indians. An old Kiowa chief who visited our camp, had three boys with him whom he declared to be his children, telling us at the same time that of two of them he was the real father, while he had brought the third one from Mexico in one of his military expeditions. This third boy was evidently kept as well as the two real sons of the old man, and when we asked the chief, as well as the boy, whether they would like to separate in case we should pay him a good price for the boy for the purpose of taking him along with us to his native place, both laughed with a sort of contempt, showing fully that both were as well satisfied with each other as with their situation in general.


The fate of the girls kidnapped in a tender age is even less painful. They are generally brought up by those who capture them to make the wives of their sons. The chiefs visiting our camp with their families, all had Mexican wives. The fate of a full grown woman falling into the hands of the Indians is often not so easy as this. She seldom escapes violence and brutality.

Among the boys whom I saw among the Comanches, there were two who, by their complexion, and the color of their hair and eyes, evidently were either of American or German parents, most likely of the latter, from the German settlements in Texas. I was told that they were quite as likely the children of Americans living among these Indian tribes, and acting even as the leaders in their most savage undertakings; but it did not appear so to me, and the fact of Americans living with the Indians and joining in their hostilities against the settlements of civilized life, appears to have more reference to those bands of highway robbers composed of Indians, Mexicans and half breeds, who infest the roads and farming districts of northern and eastern Mexico.

I must not omit to mention a fact which throws some more light on Indian life as it now is. The Indians whom we met along the Arkansas river offered us girls and women for sale or for prostitution. An old Comanche with his young wife, who met me when we were traveling along the road between Fort Atkinson and the crossing, offering me a woman for sale, gave me the most minute description of her. She was the sister of the wife. They laughed at my refusal, and would have sold her for a cup of coffee.

In general I found that the character of the Indians of the plains whom I had occasion to observe-and there were thousands around us on the Arkansas river-is far too well spoken of by some and far too ill by others. But it cannot be denied that they have more of the mean nature of the wolf or vulture than of the nobler character of the lion or eagle. Their character, however, is certainly not improved by contact with the white man, and by the mixture of races which is going on in an increasing ratio by the great number of Mexican captives among them, and by the intercourse of their women with travelers of the white race. In a very short time there will be very few Indians of pure blood, and the tribes of warriors of the red race will be transformed into bands of robbers and assassins composed of different peoples, mostly recruiting themselves by kidnapping, and whom to exterminate will be an ultimate sad necessity.

I am in lack of time to-day to conclude this subject, and have much more to say about it, which you will allow me to do in a third letter.



From the Flag of the Union, New York (?), December 21, 1854.

Neither Niagara, nor the Mississippi, nor the lakes, are after all the great spectacle to be witnessed in this country. Nor is the sight the most characteristic and American, that of the Yankee whittling on a rail, nor the Virginian talking politics over his saddles-bags; nor the Arkansas citizen playing at bowie-knives, nor the Kentuckian offering to bet upon his rifle; nor the New Yorker living in carved brown stone in the Fifth Avenue; nor the Negro sweltering in the rice-fields of South Carolina. It is a sight simpler still. It


is the passing by of the emigrant, bound for the prairies. A family of Germans going through our city is the most remarkable show to be seen in the West. It is, indeed, nothing new or uncommon; it is no pageant. No trumpets are blown to announce the coming of this small detachment of the army general. Probably not a soul in the city notices the passage of this poor family. Yet in it was wrapped up the great American fact, of the present day-the coming in of European immigrants to take possession of our Western plains. If these states did not have lands for sale at low prices to attract the desires of the poor and the oppressed in all the earth, they would be of little importance among the nations. For centuries, the Swiss have had liberty but no land; and have been a nullity. But we hold a homestead for every poor man in Europe; and therefore gathering his pennies together, he is setting out for America as the world's land of promise, and the only Eden now extant. See that family as they pass.

The father strides down the middle of the street. Unaccustomed to the convenience of sidewalks in his own country, he shares the way with the beast of burden, no less heavily laden than he. His back bends beneath its pack. In it is, probably, the better part of his goods and chattles, at least the materials for a night's bivouac by the road-side. By one hand he holds his pack, and in the other he carries a large tea-kettle. His gude-wife follows in his tracks, at barely speaking distance behind. A babe at the breast is her only burden. Both looking straight forward, intent only upon putting one foot before the other. In a direct, line, but still farther behind, trudges on, with unequal footsteps, and eyes staring on either side, their first-born son, or one who seems such. There are well towards a dozen summers glowing in his face. A big tin pail, containing, probably, the day's provisions, and slung to his young shoulders, does not seem to weigh too heavily upon his spirit. He travels on bravely, and is evidently trained to bear his load. A younger brother brings up, at a few paces distance, the rear, carrying, astride his neck, one more of the parental hopes. It is the most precious pack in the party, and, judging from the size of the little one's legs, not so very much the lightest. It is a sister, I fancy, that the little fellow is bearing off so gallantly; and very comfortably does she appear to be making the journey.

Watch this single file of marchers westward, until they disappear at the end of the avenue. They would not stop or turn aside, save for needful food or shelter, until they crossed the Mississippi. On the rolling prairies beyond, the foot-worn travelers would reach their journey's end, and, throwing their weary limbs upon the flowery grass, would rest in their new home, roofed by the sky.


From the Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, July 21, 1855.

We find the substance of the following in an exchange

"A lady in Kansas attached sixty yoke of bulls to a wagon stuck in the ascent of a hill. The long train of cattle stretched over the hill, through the valley, and thirty of the team were standing on the descent of the hill beyond. These thirty coming to a good pull, lifted all those in the valley from off their feet, and suspended them in mid air at a height of thirty feet, more or less.


The wagon won't start, the bulls refuse to `cave in,' and at last accounts they continued in statu quo as described!!"

We are happy to inform our contemporary, that the lady he refers to has subsequently added sixty additional yoke of oxen to her team, and two span of mules, since which she has succeeded in getting her wagon released.

Great ladies, up here in Kansas.


From the Manhattan Standard, November 21, 1868.

BEAR KILLED.-Mr. Orlando Legore informs us that on the 14th inst., in the vicinity of Timber City, Pottawatomie county, he killed a black bear, weighing 200 pounds. It is a rare thing to find a bear in Kansas.


From the Abilene Chronicle, October 12, 1871.

On last Thursday evening a number of men got on a "spree," and compelled several citizens and others to "stand treat," catching them on the street and carrying them upon their shoulders into the saloons. The crowd served the marshal, commonly called "Wild Bill," in this manner. He treated, but told them that they must keep within the bounds of order or he would stop them. They kept on, until finally one of the crowd, named Phil. Coe, fired a revolver. The marshal heard the report and knew at once that the leading spirits in the crowd, numbering probably fifty men, intended to get up a "fight." He immediately started to quell the affair and when he reached the Alamo saloon, in front of which the crowd had gathered, he was confronted by Coe, who said that he had fired the shot at a dog. Coe had his revolver in his hand, as had also other parties in the crowd. As quick as thought the marshal drew two revolvers and both men fired almost simultaneously. Several shots were fired, during which Mike Williams, a policeman, came around the corner for the purpose of assisting the marshal, and rushing between him and Coe received two of the shots intended for Coe. The whole affair was the work of an instant.

The marshal, surrounded by the crowd, and standing in the light, did not recognize Williams, whose death he deeply regrets. Coe was shot through the stomach, the ball coming out through his back; he lived in great agony until Sunday evening; he was a gambler, but a man of natural good impulses in his better moments. It is said that he had a spite at "Wild Bill" and had threatened to kill him-which Bill believed he would do if he gave him the opportunity. One of Coe's shots went through Bill's coat and another passed between his legs striking the floor behind him. The fact is "Wild Bill's" escape was truly marvelous. The two men were not over eight feet apart, and both of them large, stout men. One or two others in the crowd were hit, but none seriously.

We had hoped that the season would pass without any row. The marshal has, with his assistants, maintained quietness and good order-and this in face


of the fact that at one time during the season there was a larger number of cut-throats and desperadoes in Abilene than in any other town of its size on the continent. Most of them were from Kansas City, St. Louis, New Orleans, Chicago, and from the mountains.

We hope no further disturbances will take place. There is no use in trying to override "Wild Bill," the marshal. His arrangements for policing the city are complete, and attempts to kill police officers or in any way create disturbance, must result in loss of life on the part of violators of the law. We hope that all, strangers as well as citizens, will aid by word and deed in maintaining peace and quietness.


From the Hays Sentinel, July 19, 1876.

A poor, forlorn-looking wretch, minus his scalp and part of one ear, passed through Hays last Friday. His name is Warren, and he resides in Leavenworth county. He lost his scalp in the fight with the Indians at the half-way station between Cheyenne and the Hills, and his description of the fight was very interesting. As he tells it, he, in company with four other men, was herding forty head of mules belonging to a wagon train, when a band of Indians came down on them. They made a stand, and kept the Indians off until one of his comrades was killed and himself badly wounded in the head, when the other three made for the train, leaving him to his fate. He was unconscious for a time, and, when he returned to his senses he found his scalp and all of his clothes gone. However, he succeeded in crawling out to the trail, where he was picked up by some returning wagons and taken to Cheyenne.


From the Dodge City Times, October 19, 1878.

We do not make hazardous assertions when we state that the resources of the plains are unlimited. Even its wild character affords a varied occupation, even down to the gathering of bones. Wild horses in innumerable numbers abound in this almost limitless space. The proper and successful mode of catching the wild steeds of the plains is a simple one. A party of men engage in the pursuit with wagons, following the wild equine until after several days' chase the animals become accustomed to their strange and harmless pursuers, and being thus subdued are driven into a corral, when the lasso brings the untamed stud an easy prey of the horse hunter. The hunter, either on foot or horseback, never loses sight of the wild horses, and after ten or twelve days' pursuit runs the animals into a break, and thus being headed off are easily taken.

George Masterson and Joseph Johnson drove a herd of 182 head of the untamed Arabs of the desert, through Dodge City, Monday last, and were driving them to Wichita. The horses were captured in the range northwest of Cimarron. They were a fine lot of animals and will be placed in the market. The "breaking" of the wild horse is another peculiar feature of the plains vocation.


Jim Anderson bought two studs from this herd. They are of coal black color, with long flowing manes and tails. Jim says they resemble the Canadian pony, and are of similar species./


Eugene Fitch Ware, Kansas author, signed the name "Ironquill" to most of his work. (For a biographical sketch see The Kansas Historical Quarterly, August, 1937, p. 295, footnote.) The origin of this pen name was explained by Ware himself in a letter addressed to Fannie E. Cole on September 11, 1908, a copy of which is in the manuscript collections of the Kansas Historical Society. Ware wrote:

While out in the Rocky Mountains your postal card of July 25th came to hand, in which you asked me why I chose the nom de plume of "Ironquill." It is a sort of funny circumstance and goes like this:-

When I first lived in Ft. Scott, a controversy was gotten up in the Daily Monitor, then the leading paper of southeastern Kansas, owned and edited by "Gov." George A. Crawford, and in this controversy, which assumed considerable range, the contributors signed fictitious names and one person, to an article of about a column and a half, signed the name of "Goosequill," to which a reply was made of a couple of columns by some one who signed the name of "Steel Pen." I came into the controversy and signed the name of "Ironquill," and my article seemed to catch pretty well and after that, for I was a frequent contributor in prose, I signed the name of "Ironquill," because my identity had been pretty well established. Afterwards, when I got to contributing verse, I kept on with the nom de plume which I had adopted in prose. The question, as I remember it, over which this controversy arose was it regard to a female doctor, or perhaps I might say "Doctress." The Bourbon County Medical Society had a meeting and refused to let the lady doctor, Mrs. Hall, participate in the proceedings. Mrs. Hall was an exceedingly competent lady practitioner and had the sympathy of everybody. This medical society cast out a whole lot of quack doctors who had settled in the neighborhood and had taken steps for their prosecution.

About ten years afterwards, a St. Louis man tried to steal the name and got to writing verse and poetry and signing the name "Ironquill" and publishing his stuff in the St. Louis Republic[an?]. I succeeded in obtaining his real name and wrote to him that he must discontinue using the word. He stoutly claimed that he had invented the name and had used it before I did. I compelled him to show up and I produced the old files of the Monitor, showing that I had used the name before he could make any showing and I told him that he must quit it or I would bring suit and expose the whole business. Thereupon, after grumbling a while, he changed his nom de plume and I have never heard of him since. Afterwards, a man at Newhall, N. Y., tried to steal it but I soon made him let go. Since when I have enjoyed it uninterruptedly.