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Bypaths of Kansas History - May 1941

(Vol. 10, No. 2), pages 203 to 211.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.


From the Daily Missouri Republican, St. Louis, June 15, 1853.

FORT LEAVEN WORTH: Below we give some items of interest which we gathered at Fort Leavenworth, a few days since. We learn that Gen. Garland has been ordered to Santa Fe. He is daily expected up on the St. Paul, with about two hundred troops. He goes out to relieve Col. Sumner, in command at that post.

The court martial which has been in session at Fort Leavenworth for several days past, has not closed its labors. They now have under consideration the charges preferred against Maj. How, while in New Mexico. A large number of officers from abroad are in attendance; among them we notice Brev. Lt. Colonel Bragg, of "a little more grape, Capt. Bragg," memory. Also, Gen. Clark, and others of high rank in the army.

The spectacle of the fine looking officers, with their shining epaulettes and glittering swords, reminded us of like scenes we had Witnessed on the plains of Mexico, "in the days when we went fighting, a long time ago." On the 28th a train with quartermaster and commissary stores, left for the new post on the Kansas river.

The Mail (Express) arrived at Fort Leavenworth on Tuesday last, from the new post [Fort Riley] at the mouth of Republican Fork, on the Kansas river. The place is reported to be in good health, and officers stationed there are busily employed in making preparations for putting up the necessary buildings, &c.

Major Chilton, with Company B, Ist Dragoons, left Fort Leavenworth on yesterday, en route for the new post to be established at the mouth of Walnut creek, on the Arkansas river-Fort Atkinson having been ordered to be broken up and abandoned, and Company D, 6th Infantry, now stationed there, to be removed and stationed at the post at the mouth of Walnut creek-Weston Reporter.


From the Kansas City (Mo.) Enterprise, October 25, 1856.

We noticed yesterday, at the freight depot of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, a new U. S. six pounder and seven boxes of U. S. muskets. They are consigned to T. B. Eldridge, at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, who is recruiting at that point for the "Free State Army" in KansaS. These are the kind of Agricultural Implements that the peaceable "Free State settlers are taking into Kansas." We have seen an account going the rounds of the papers, for the past few days, that there was recently stolen from Xenia, Ohio, a brass six pounder, and a lot of U. S. muskets. Wonder if these are the same? Gov. Geary will please take notice -Burlington Gazette.




The Independent, Oskaloosa, September 3, 1864.

There was a big scare on the bottom on Monday afternoon and night. A report got out that 200 Pottawatomie Indians were at work burning, killing and scalping at a horrible rate; and some of the settlers began to flee before the Supposed danger. Capt. McCain, and Some of his neighbors started for the scene of devastation, leaving everything ready for a hasty flight if necessary, to this place. As they went towards Rising Sun the story grew larger and larger, and there was a terrible scare. But arrived at the spot, the facts were about these. A couple of Indians had been in Rising Sun and two white men wanted to trade ponies with them, but the Indians would not trade. The whites were drunk, and when the Indians left followed them some distance threatening to Shoot them if they did not trade; and while flourishing their revolvers about their heads, one of them went off and Shot the fellow who held it through the leg, the ball going through the saddle and into the horse upon which he sat. They then returned and reported that the Indians had fired upon them and done the mischief. Some Indians had been encamped near the place previously which gave a show of plausibility to the big stories that grew out of this small affair. Whisky does a great deal of mischief, and might have led to something serious in this case, but for the accident which happened to the chaps in question.


From Sheridan's Troopers on the Borders: A Winter Campaign on the Plains, by De B. Randolph Keim (Philadelphia, 1870), pp. 37-41.

The "end of the track" was one of those indefinite expressions in plains parlance, having reference to the terminus of the railroad, Somewhere in the wilderness of waste, far to the westward. In times of active construction on the road the expression was particularly applicable, for the last traveler would find himself penetrating regions which his itinerary predecessor of but a few days before had never thought of and probably no white man before, except the surveying party, had ever visited. The "end of the track," therefore, meant precisely where the locomotive stopped running.

At eleven o'clock on the morning of the second of October, the train for the weSt arrived at Hays City. I was one of a party of about half a dozen persons who had been awaiting its arrival for two long and monotonous hours. My fellow passengers altogether numbered about twenty persons.

The conductor of the train was a man of sense and good address. He had much experience in life on the plains and was the man for the position he held. He always had his rifle by his Side and pistols, either about his waist, or where he could conveniently put his hands upon them. He was an excellent shot, and had several bullet scars as mementoes of early conflicts.

We had hardly proceeded fifteen miles on our journey when we came in sight of several large herds of buffaloes, each numbering not less than two


thousand animals. We were promised a "wonderful sight" of the beast by the conductor of the train. Indeed, so marvelous were his stories that he was listened to with evident incredulity.

As we increased the distance from the last settlement, buffaloes rapidly grew in numbers. Thirty miles on the way the country was literally overrun. The main herds lay on the northern side of the track and as far as the eye could reach, not less than a distance of ten to fifteen miles, the plain was perfectly black with them. The herds nearest the track, alarmed at the strange sounds issuing from the locomotive, set off at a rapid lope, heading towards the north, in turn setting in motion the herds before them. The huge animals raised such a dust that for some minutes it was impossible to see more than a long line of hind-quarters and elevated tails. A number of isolated smaller herds which had crossed to the south upon the approach of the train, invariably raised their heads, looked at us for an instant, and then with heads down and tails up galloped towards the track making extraordinary exertions to get across ahead of the locomotive. In trying this strategic feat one Specimen found himself forcibly lifted into the air and thrown into the ditch, where he lay upon his back, his cloven feet flourishing madly.

Several animals had been shot from the cars out of this herd. The train now stopped to afford time to bring in a few "rumps." While this operation was going on, a party of six or eight of us started down the track to dispatch the buffalo, Still kicking and bellowing with a mixture of suspense and rage, displaying certain Serpentine and spasmodic motions of the dorsal column, which indicated an effort to get on his feet. When our party got within fifty yards a shot Was fired at the animal which seemed to have a peculiarly vitalizing effect. At all events it called the buffalo to a sense of his ludicrous and unnatural position. With one desperate effort the old beast regained his feet. Several more shots were instantly fired, but none Seemed to take effect. Instead of retreating the irate quadruped made for our party, coming at a "full jump," head down, tongue out, bleeding and frothing at the mouth, eyes flashing, and to cap the climax of his terrible exhibitions of infuriation, roared fearfully. AS there was no time to lose, and to fire at him "head on" would be but a waste of ammunition, the party Scattered in all directions. For my own part, I took occasion to make a few long and rapid strides across the track into the ditch on the other side. The rest of the party imitated this dexterous movement without many moments of reflection. Losing sight of us, the enraged animal, smarting under the blow he had received from the locomotive, and the tickling he had Sustained from our rifles, wreaked his anger upon the opposite side of the embankment of the railroad by rending great furrows in the earth, stamping on the ground, raising a great dust, and making a terrible noise. It was very certain there was no time to waste. Should his lordship of the plains spy any of us he would doubtless renew the offensive. Raising up so as to get a partial sight of his carcass, not over thirty feet off, three of our party fired, the rest holding in reserve. Every ball Seemed to take effect. Almost instantly the animal fell upon his knees. The rest then fired, when the animal rolled completely over. His tenacity of life was perfectly wonderful. By this time he must have had a dozen bullets in his body. Notwithstanding all this he struggled and swayed to and fro until he again brought himself to his feet. But all power to harm had fled. Plant-


ing himself firmly, moving his head to the right and left, his eye still full of fire, the noble beast looked even more defiant. From his nostrils ran streams of blood.

To put the animal out of misery Was the first sense of recovery from our stampede. Repeated shots were fired into his body. Thug, thug, the bullets could be heard penetrating his thick hide. As each ball entered, a slight turn of the head and switch of the tail were the only external indications of the effect of the bullet. At length after having been literally "peppered" with lead, a sudden quiver passed over the animal's entire frame, he staggered and fell. One deep gasp, a convulsive motion of the jaws, one sudden flash of the eye, a quantity of dark clotted blood ejected from the nostrils, and the buffalo was dead.

Never before had I seen such an exhibition of tenacious rage and vitality. Had the animal been less injured by the locomotive, it would be difficult to Say what would have been the result of his charge upon our party. It is a question, however, whether a buffalo would attack from the mere impulse of destruction. I have found the buffalo, compared with his remarkable physical strength, rather disposed to be timid. Several horsemen could ride into the midst of a herd of ten thousand with comparative safety, select their game and dispatch it; but when wounded the whole nature of the animal Seems changed. He turns upon his pursuers, and death it is to him who ever falls into his power. Not satisfied with goring his victim until he is a mangled mass, he frequently plunges upon the remains until mashed into a perfect jelly. The vital spot in a buffalo is immediately under the shoulder, penetrating the heart or the lungs. On the forehead the bullet of the most powerful rifle has no effect whatever, the force being entirely expended on the immense mat or "mop" of hair, eight or ten inches in length, between the eyes.

After our somewhat exciting battle, taking a last look, and I must say I felt a pang of shame as I left the inanimate carcass a useless waste, we hastened back to the train which Was ready to move on and had been signaling us for some minutes.

For sixty miles the same great multitudes of buffaloes appeared in sight without signs of diminution in numbers. Beyond this, as we approached Sheridan station, the herds grew less in size and more isolated until they disappeared from view. I computed, during the entire day there were in sight from the train, not less than two hundred thousand animals of all ages.

At six o'clock in the afternoon we reached the end of steam travel on the KansaS Pacific railway. The end of the track presented all the appearance of work very abruptly terminated. At the very extreme point was a plain wooden mile-post painted white, with the characters "405 to S. L.," 405 miles to the State Line, that is of KansaS, at KansaS City. The objective point of the road, contemplated in the law, is the Pacific ocean, with a branch to Denver. The Pacific is to be reached by a more southerly route passing through Albuquerque, N. Mex., Southern Arizona, into Southern California. The length of the road from its initial point will be over two thousand miles.



From the Fort Scott Monitor, February 24, 1869.

Fort Scott, as usual, is ahead of the rest of the Kansas towns, by building the first velocipede in the state, if not west of the Mississippi river. Quite a number of our citizens have been to Scott avenue during the past week to see this stranger travel. A good many tried to ride it but failed. Our friend Bailey says he could easily "ride the wheelipede if the darned thing would only stand up." It was built by G. Endicott, and is similar to the two-wheeled ones used in the East. It will not be long before they will come into general use in Kansas, as our good natural roads Seem to have been designed for the use of these wheeled bipeds.


From the Walnut Valley Times, El Dorado, July 1, 1870.

WANTED.-Fifty young ladies to make husbands from fifty well-to-do bachelors residing in and about El Dorado. While our population is increasing very rapidly there is yet half the material here to further comply with the governor's request, if we only had the other half.

From the Wichita Vidette, September 9, 1870.

GIRLS ATTENTION !-We are authorized to State that the first good, respectable young lady Who settles on Slate creek [Sumner county], Will receive a present of a fine saddle horse, saddle and bridle, and a husband if she wants one. Here girls, is a chance for you. We will guarantee that the parties making the offer will carry out the part of his bargain in good faith, provided the young lady in question accepts the proposition.


From the Daily Kansas State Record, Topeka, October 30, 1870. [Note: The Indian agency building described in this article still stands at the east edge of St. Marys near US-40.]

The payment of the Pottawattamies, to which so many persons of both the white and colored "persuasion" have looked forward with anxious interest, has been in progress since Thursday, and yesterday the whole "arrangement" was "interviewed" by our reporter.

Indian payments are an old story in Kansas, and there are few, if any, of the old settlers of the state who have not at one time or another Witnessed one. To a newcomer, however, the scene of one of these periodical "settlements" of the government with its interesting "wards" generally possesses the charm of novelty, and even a written description may be of interest to those whose misfortune it is to live outside the limits of this state, and who have never seen the Indian even in his naturalized and domesticated condition.

The scene at St. Mary's mission on Saturday, the 29th of October, 1870, was


probably one of the most utterly forlorn, dismal and miserable Spectacles which this "mundane sphere" has ever witnessed. It had been raining since Friday, as it only can rain in what some fool or other has called this "drouthy country," and the one long street of St. Mary's, which is as yet innocent of sidewalks, was a swamp, trodden into black, slimy stickiness and nastiness by the feet of men and horses.

The place of payment was the old government agency, near the Catholic mission buildings. The building is a one-story edifice, built of stone, and once made some pretensions to comfort and taste; it undoubtedly cost our benevolent Uncle Sam money enough to possess both, but the picket fence has been broken down, the fancy cornice is destitute of paint, and the premises generally bear an air of decay. The two low, dirty, smoky rooms were devoted to the business of payment. In one of them Mr. Williamson, of the Interior Department, the paymaster, had his station. The other was occupied by the paymaster's clerk; the interpreter, Joseph Napoleon Bourassa, and Lieut. Hipple, of the 3d artillery, in command of the guard of ten men from Ft. Riley; the rest of the space was occupied by white men, traders, and others, having demands against the Indians, and Agent Morris. Louis Vieux, familiarly called "Uncle Louis Vieux," stood in the doorway acting in the capacity of marshal, crier and sentry.

The method of payment is similar to that adopted in the army, and, indeed, the presence of the young lieutenant in his smart uniform, and of the "boys in blue" standing about, served to keep up the resemblance. The name of the person to be paid was read from the various rolls by various persons, till it finally reached Mr. Vieux, who sang it out from the door with a "long, loud and exceedingly bitter cry," and with fearful emphasis on the last syllable; after Which the person called for, if present and Sober, appeared and received his or her money. Generally some question arose about the administration of estates and other legal matters, which occasioned a dialogue in French, English and Pottawattamie, until everybody was satisfied. The party to be paid generally "stuck out" the controversy without betraying the slightest interest as to its termination. While this Was going on, the "wards" male and female, stood, Sat and lounged around in the partially inclosed mud-hole formerly the agency yard. The Women squatted around the fence in the mud, with their shawls and blankets over their ears, and the pappooses submitted to the pitiless rain with Indian silence and fortitude, instead of manifesting their feelings by kicks and screams like white babies.

Among those in attendance was Maj. W. W. Ross, who has been for years more or less connected with the Pottawattamies in their business with the government. From him we learned that the sums paid to each person on the pay-roll was $688.43, in the aggregate about $500,000.

The amount. paid to some families reaches, it is said, as high as $5,000. Of course much of this money passed immediately into the hands of traders and others having accounts against the Indians, but Maj. Ross gave it as his opinion that the Indians carried away more money for themselves than is generally believed. All present having unsettled accounts against the Pottawattamies gave them the credit of being faithful to their obligations. One gentleman, having $5,000 "out" among the tribe, said he had never in a single instance been refused payment.


Getting tired of the rain and the mud, and the squaws and the ponies and the pappooses, our reporter left the tumble-down agency and went over to the mission proper, where he saw Father Ward, who is at the head of the institution. The good Father, with the intelligence and politeness which everywhere characterizes the .Jesuits, answered every inquiry, and gave some interesting particulars concerning the past history and future plans of the mission. Of these we may speak more fully at a future time. Unlike the Catholic missionaries among the Osages, Father Ward expressed the belief that there is such a being as an adult Christian Indian. Many of the Pottawattamies he considered excellent Catholics, devoted to their religious duties and exemplary in their conduct.. The Indian youth, he said, were as capable of acquiring knowledge as white children, and many of them evinced remarkable capacity.

Leaving the gardens and neat buildings of the mission, which had an air of comfort even in this miserable weather, and going up the main Street of the town was a trying process, and one rather calculated to try one's belief in Father Ward's hopeful view of things. Numerous Indians contrived to get possession of whisky, and were consequently miserably drunk. Unlike his white brother, the Indian never gets "happy." Whisky only makes him melancholy and "cursed," and if ever a pitiable object presented itself to human gaze, it was these "sons of nature," plunging and wallowing in the fathomless mire, cursing and swearing after a beastly fashion, known only to themselves. Some of them lost their recently acquired money in the mud, and in one instance a $100 bill was fished out of the middle of the street.

The town was full of traders in every description of merchandise, Topeka being liberally represented. The "gay gamboliers" were also present in force, and horsemen were on hand in readiness to make their pile on the contemplated Sunday races, but the rain had driven everybody except the Indians indoors, and spoiled the race course. At. six o'clock p. m. on Saturday the prospects for sport in St. Mary's were dubious.

The ride home was accomplished in a dimly-lighted caboose attached to a freight train of interminable length, and the night was rendered cheerful by the incessant glare of lightning, and the sound of the falling sheets of rain. The walk from the Kansas Pacific depot was also enlivened by the plunge of two gentlemen, representing law and literature, into the pond at the end of the depot platform, and as they rose to the surface, there was heard a succession of remarks, which were understood to invoke curses on the head of the man who invented Indian payments.


From the Junction City Union, August 31, 1872.

The Democratic (Hollidaysburg, Pa.) Standard gives an account of a court scene at Hays City, and requests us to corroborate the story. The incident occurred as related, and we would add, that the trial was by a jury of six men, before Chief Justice Dalton, of Hays City. The animal in dispute was a two and a half year old heifer, was white as chalk, and as fine an animal as ever ate grass on the plains of KansaS. Mr. Polly claimed that he purchased her when a young calf, and missed her from his herd about the first of March; saw


her about the middle of July and took her home; had brands on her and ear marks. These says Mr. Treat, who purchased her from a Missourian, were older than the first of March, and hence the necessity of bringing the animal to the court house for inspection. When the jury were requested to go out and examine these marks, they said it was too hot, and told the sheriff to bring "him" in. The sheriff obeyed-the animal the next moment stood in the middle of the room facing the jury-the crowd smiled-one gentleman desired to be next the door, and passed in too close proximity to the heifer's rear. She gave him a violent kick, at which the crowd roared. The sheriff gave the tail a twist, this was too much, and the heifer roared and pitched over chairs and benches, and the crowd made a hasty retreat towards the door and windows; the judge, jury, lawyers and suiters made a lunge for the rear windows and the animal in dispute was master of the situation. Fortunately she espied the door, and after demolishing several chairs and school desks, made her escape, and hurt no one.

But the richest scene that ever disgraced a KansaS court room, occurred before the same justice last week. Jack Wright was shot and killed by one McClilland, and he was taken before Justice Dalton for a hearing. Tom Drum, in whose Saloon the Shooting took place, was the principal witness and was firSt called on the Stand. He looked about the room at the crowd assembled, and remarked to the "court" that things looked d-d dry, and suggested that a little whisky would 'liven things up. His "honor" made no objection, and in a few minutes a decanter well filled with "benzine" was set upon the table just in front of the judge. The court, the witness, lawyers and prisoners drank "all round." As each witness was called to the stand, he would step to the table, pour out his whisky and nodding to the "court" the usual "how," drink -then hold up his right hand and after being sworn take his seat and give in his testimony. The prisoner was committed in default $1,500 bail. That night the friends of the deceased visited the jail with the intention of shooting McClilland. The jail is a cellar under the court room. They commenced at random through the iron bars, and instead of killing McClilland, they shot and killed Pony Donovan, a noted horse thief, who was in jail awaiting his trial. McCiilland is now under guard at the post.


From the Edwards County Leader, Kinsley, May 31,1877.

Last Sunday our quiet town was thrown into a flurry of excitement by the visitation of a herd of antelope. They crossed the railroad track and came into town just west of the Honorable Taylor Flick's residence, and leisurely wended their way towards Coon creek. They Would have remained with us and become domesticated had not the larger portion of our good citizens become so excited, and frightened them away by opening up a little 4th of July over their advent into town. One of our prominent M. D.'s became so excited that he chased them into the creek and came very near Swimming that stream in hopes of catching one for a pet. The race between the antelope and the Dr. was nip and tuck, nip winning the race by jumping the Stream.



From The Western Home Journal, Lawrence, July 31, I879.

The six Cheyenne warriors, Wild Hog, Old Man, Blacksmith, Left Hand, Run Fast, and Meheha, awaiting trial for their participation in the late Indian massacre [Dull Knife's raid of September, 1878, when forty KansaS settlers were killed], were taken to see the London circus yesterday. In some way they had heard of its coming and expressed a strong desire to see it. Messrs. Cooper. Bailey & Co., kindly extended the freedom of the exhibition to them and the officers who attended. It Was the first thing of the kind they had seen, and they appeared to enjoy it thoroughly. About half-past two o'clock they marched into the menagerie in single file, and were shown one wild animal after another. The herd of elephants puzzled them very much, but they looked quietly and gravely at them, expressing no thought by word or gesture. The Bengal tigers and the lions, as they jumped and snarled behind the iron bars brought a peculiar gleam to the eyes of the red men. They Seemed to recognize a nature akin to their own. The American lion, the red deer, the brown bear, all drew forth signs from two of the braves, who pointed wes:tward and indicated by their motions that they had met these animals before. The camels Were carefully scanned and passed for the herd of ponies upon which they looked with an eye that appreciated the beauty of the tiny things.

Proceeding into the circus, they were seated by themselves, an officer at each end of them. The story of the cruel butcheries by the Cheyenne band was too fresh in the minds of the people to allow of their being seated without attracting attention. Every eye was soon turned upon them, and many a mother grasped her child as she heard the Words, "There are the Indians." Two women rushed out of the tent with a child in each arm, nor could they be induced to return. When the people learned that the sheriff and his deputies were with them quietness was restored. At first the Indians assumed a grave look as their eyes roamed over the sea of humanity about them; but, as act after act Went by, they gradually relaxed. Wild Hog said "heap" when anything especially pleased him, the others testifying their approval by grunts. When Frank Melville rode his splendid act they became excited, and seemed to appreciate the full performance. It Was the same when Billy Dutton went flying about the ring upon his horse, they again expressed their delight. The four-horse act of Madame Cordona, and the champion act of Charles Fish caused them to look in astonishment.

When the clowns appeared they smiled approval of their antics, and when the lean clown flung the fat clown over the ring bank and then threw a colored boy upon him, Blacksmith laughed until he cried, while his companions shook their sides. Fans were given them and they kept up as vigorous a fanning as any lady. They were provided with lemonade, and each one got away with two glasses, and when the third was offered they simply pressed their abdomen and used the only English Word they knew-"heap." They enjoyed the performance thoroughly, and seemed disappointed when it was over. They were taken back to the jail after the show was over.