Copyright
Addison Erwin Sheldon.

History and stories of Nebraska online

. (page 1 of 20)
Online LibraryAddison Erwin SheldonHistory and stories of Nebraska → online text (page 1 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


HISTORY

AND

STORIES 2FNEBRASKA



SHELDON







w








(ii;ouGE CATLIN PAINTING AN INDIAN CHIEF



HISTORY

AND

STORIES OF NEBRASKA



BY

ADDISON ERWIN SHELDON

DIRECTOR NEBRASKA LEGISLATIVE REFERENCE BUREAU

LECTURER QN NEBRASKA HISTORY AND INSTITUTIONS

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA



WITH MAPS A\'D ILLUSTRATIONS



CHICAGO AND LINCOLN

THE UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING CO.

1918



COPYRIGHT, 1913
THE UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING COMPANY



All Rights Reserved



(The

R. R. DONNELLEY & SONS COMPANY
CHICAGO



TO THREE CHILDREN,

BORN ON THE NEBRASKA FRONTIER.

ESTHER, PHILIP AND RUTH,

WHO HAVE SO OFTEN COAXED FOR " REAL TRUE STORIES " OF

THE PIONEER DAYS OF THE WEST. THIS BOOK

IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED



1781441



PREFACE

OTORIES are the harp strings of history, transforming
^ the past into melody and rhythm. The best stories
live forever in the human mind. They greet us in the
Latin, Teutonic, and Celtic tongues, surprise us in the
ancient Greek, Arabic, and Hindoo literature, and astonish
us in the rude folk tales of primitive peoples who have no
written language. The demand for a good story is as
wide, as unsatisfied as human longing, and the search for
a new one as difficult and elusive as the discovery of a
new element in nature.

Stories are the inspiration of patriotism and of home
virtues. No land is loved without its place tales, and no
nation became great without the lift of noble examples and
ideals in the stories of its common people. Every hill and
mountain must find its hero, every vale and prairie its
legend, ere it becomes invested with living human in-
terest.

With the flight of years the deeds of pioneers in a new
land are transformed into the hero tales and place legends
of the later generations. It is well that in the process what
is brave, generous, and strong survives; what is common,
mean, and trivial perishes. In Nebraska the pioneer period
is just past. The pioneers are with us still. Men yet live
who knew these prairies as a sea of grass wherein appeared
no island of human habitation. We have yet with us those
who hunted deer and buffalo on the sites of our cities, who
followed the overland trails and faced hostile Indians where
now extend fruitful fields of corn, wheat, and alfalfa.
Children born in sod houses, dugouibs, and even in emigrant
wagons now direct the affairs of our commonwealth. The
pioneer days are past, but their witnesses are in our midst.



vi PREFACE

It is well for us to recount their deeds while they are still
among us.

The purpose of this little book is to present, in story
form, the most important facts in Nebraska history in such
language that a child able to read may get the story and a
grown man or woman may find interest in both fact and
story.

It is seven years since the idea of this volume was con-
ceived and the first story written. Of the hundreds of
good and true stories of our history only a few could be
chosen for the present volume. As the list of short stories
grew and formed itself naturally into a series reaching from
the Stone Age to the present time, there arose a call for a
condensed narrative which should connect the different
periods and form an historical thread upon which the short
stories might be strung. The response to this call is the
Story of Nebraska in a series of short connected sketches.
Thus in its final form the book presents a brief history of
our state and stories which seem significant and truly
characteristic in her development.

Grateful acknowledgment is due to the many persons
who have entered into the spirit of this volume and aided
in its progress. First among these, I am indebted to her
whom I need not name, whose clear insight and creative
criticism as a native daughter of Nebraska have been the
largest element in securing its present form. From Pro-
fessors Howard W. Caldwell, Clark E. Persinger, Lawrence
Bruner, Erwin H. Barbour, and George E. Condra, of the
University of Nebraska, have come valuable aids and sug-
gestions. Important service in gathering material was
rendered by the following persons :

Mr. James Murie, Pawnee, Oklahoma; Mrs. Lucy
Manville Sprague, Thedford, Nebraska; Hon. C. W. Beal,
Broken Bow, Nebraska;' Supt. E. T. Ingle, Ft. McPherson
Cemetery; Colonel James Hunton, Ft. Laramie, Wyoming;
Hon. H. T. Clarke, Omaha, Nebraska; Hon. H. G. Taylor,



PREFACE vii

Central City, Nebraska; Mr. James F. Hanson, Fremont,
Nebraska; Colonel C. W. Allen, Merriman, Nebraska;
Colonel C. P. Jordan, Wood, South Dakota; Mrs. Daniel
Freeman, Beatrice, Nebraska; Mr. E. A. Kilian (deceased),
Manhattan, Kansas; Mr. Robert Harvey, Lincoln, Nebraska;
Hon. Addison Wait, Lincoln, Nebraska; Hon. C. H. Aldrich,
Lincoln, Nebraska; Mr. R. F. Gilder, Omaha, Nebraska;
Hon. T. H. Tibbies, Omaha, Nebraska; Mr. S. D. Butcher,
Kearney, Nebraska; Mr. Gerrit Fort, Union Pacific Rail-
way, Omaha, Nebraska; Mr. U. G. Cornell, Lincoln,
Nebraska; Miss Martha M. Turner, Lincoln, Nebraska;
Morrill Geological Expeditions, Lincoln, Nebraska; Hon.
S. C. Bassett, Gibbon, Nebraska; Rev. Michael A. Shine,
Plattsmouth, Nebraska; Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln,
Nebraska.

For use of copyrighted illustrations acknowledgment is
due to these: Hon. R. B. Brower, St. Cloud, Minnesota;
Lathrop C. Harper, New York City; Arthur H. Clark Co.,
Cleveland, Ohio; A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago, Illinois;
American Folk Lore Society.

It is my hope that this little book may not only serve a
present need, by presenting in brief form for busy people
the story of our state, but may have a place in bringing
together the best in the Nebraska life which has been, for
the enjoyment and inspiration of the Nebraska that is to be.

ADDISON E. SHELDON.



CONTENTS

PART I. STORIES OF NEBRASKA

THE STORY OF CORONADO . 1

DON DIEGO DE PENALOSA 6

BARON LA HONTAN AND MATHIEU SAGEAN ... 9

THE SPANISH CARAVAN 12

THE MALLET BROTHERS 15

BLACKBIRD 18

LEWIS AND CLARK 24

How THE SPANISH FLAG CAME DOWN 29

JOHN COLTER'S ESCAPE 31

MANUEL LISA 34

THE RETURN OF THE ASTORIANS 41

MAJOR LONG'S EXPEDITION 45

OLD FORT ATKINSON 50

BELLEVUE 55

GEORGE CATLIN 59

PRINCE MAXIMILIAN 62

SCOTT'S BLUFF 68

THE FIRST NEBRASKA MISSIONARIES 70

FATHER DE&MET . 77

JOHN C. FREMONT 82

THE OVERLAND TRAILS 85

LONE TREE 92

LOGAN FONTANELLE 94

THE MORMON Cow 97

SLAVERY IN NEBRASKA . 100

THE SURVEYORS 103

THE FIRST HOMESTEAD 110

THE PAWNEES 114

COURT HOUSE ROCK 120

MAJOR FRANK NORTH AND THE PAWNEE SCOUTS . 122

ix



x CONTENTS

THE ROCK BLUFFS DINNER PARTY 129

THE BATTLE OF ARICKAREE FORK OR BEECHER

ISLAND 131

THE FIRST RAILROAD 136

A STAGE COACH HERO OF THE LITTLE BLUE . . 139

THE PRAIRIE FIRE 142

THE ARROW THAT PINNED Two BOYS TOGETHER . 145

Two Sioux CHIEFS 146

GREAT STORMS 158

OLD FORT KEARNEY 165

FORT LARAMIE /..... 167

THE STORY OF THE PONCAS . . 169

BRIGHT EYES 175

THE HERD LAW . . . . ' 178

Two CROWS . . . . . . . . . . . . .181

THE GRASSHOPPERS 183

LOST IN THE SAND HILLS 187

AN OPEN WELL 192

FORT McPnERSON MILITARY CEMETERY . . . .198

A RAILROAD FIREMAN'S JUMP 201

NEBRASKA'S GREAT SEAL 202

NEBRASKA'S FLOWER 204

ARBOR DAY 206

PART II. A SHORT HISTORY OF NEBRASKA

I. EARLIEST NEBRASKA 213

II. NEBRASKA UNDER THREE FLAGS .... 218
III. NEBRASKA INDIANS AS THE WHITE MEN FOUND

THEM 226

IV. MAKING AND NAMING NEBRASKA . . . .231

V. NEBRASKA AS A TERRITORY 237

VI. NEBRASKA AS A STATE 260

GLOSSARY 297

INDEX . 299



(Approximately half of these illustrations are from original photographs taken by the author.
The E. G. Clements' collection and S. D. Butcher collection of Nebraska photo-
graphs are in the author's collection of Illustrated Nebraska.)

PAGE.

GEORGE CATLIN PAINTING AN INDIAN CHIEF . . . Frontispiece

THE FIRST PRINTED PICTURE OF A BUFFALO 3

A QUIVIRA GRASS HUT 4

(Courtesy R. B, Brower, St. Cloud, Minn.)

QUIVIRA TOMAHAWKS . 5

A SPANISH STIRRUP FOUND IN NEBRASKA 7

LA HONTAN'S MAP OF THE NEBRASKA REGION . . . . .10
A SPANISH SWORD AND A BASKET HILTED CAVALRY SABER FOUND IN

NEBRASKA 13

THE PLATTE RIVER . 16

BLACKBIRD HILL 21

(From Thwaites's "Early Western Travels." Arthur H. Clark Co.,
Cleveland, Ohio.)

PICTURED ROCKS NEAR BLACKBIRD HILL .22

LEWIS AND CLARK 24

THE LEWIS AND CLARK MONUMENT AT FORT CALHOUN, NEBRASKA 26

THE CLARK MONUMENT AT ST. Louis 28

BLACKFOOT WARRIORS 31

(From Thwaites's "Early Western Travels." Arthur H. Clark Co.,

Cleveland, Ohio.)
MANUEL LISA 34

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)
BRITISH FLAG ON NEBRASKA ROCKS, 1907 ...... 36

"AUNT MANUEL," FIRST KNOWN WHITE WOMAN IN NEBRASKA . 38

ROSALIE LISA ELY 39

MONUMENT TO THE ASTORIANS AT BELLEVUE, NEBRASKA ... 43
COUNCIL WITH OTOES BY MAJOR LONG'S EXPEDITION. 46

(From Thwaites's "Early Western Travels." Arthur H. Clark Co.,

Cleveland, Ohio.)
MAP OF THE GREAT AMERICAN DESERT AS MADE BY MAJOR LONG, 1820 48

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)
PLAN OF FORT ATKINSON, NEBRASKA, 1819-1827 50

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)
FLINT LOCK AND CANNON BALL FROM FORT ATKINSON ... 53

A FORT ATKINSON GRAVESTONE 53

BELLEVUE IN 1833 56

(From Thwaites's "Early Western Travels." Arthur H. Clark Co.,

Cleveland, Ohio.)

BELLEVUE WOODS AS SEEN TO-DAY. TOP OF CHILD'S POINT, LOOK-
ING EAST 57

THE STEAMER YELLOWSTONE

(From Thwaites's "Early Western Travels." Arthur H. Clark Co.,

Cleveland,, Ohio.) 60

MISSOURI, OTO AND PUNCAH INDIANS, 1833

(From Thwaites's "Early Western Travels." Arthur H. Clark Co., 66
Cleveland, Ohio.)

xi



xii ILLUSTRATIONS

SCOTT'S BLUFF 68

THE BUILDING OF AN EARTH LODGE 71

OLD OTOE MISSION . . ... 75

FATHER DE SMET 77

(From Chittenden & Richardson's "Life, Letters & Travels of Father

De Smet." Francis P. Harper, N. Y.)

INDIAN WELCOME TO FATHER DE SMET 80

(From Chittenden & Richardson's "Life, Letters & Travels of Father
De Smet." Francis P. Harper, N. Y.)

JOHN C. FREMONT 82

MAP OF OVERLAND TRAILS AND HISTORICAL PLACES IN NEBRASKA . 84

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

OLD FORT HALL ON THE OREGON TRAIL 86

EMIGRANT TRAIN CROSSING THE PLAINS 88

EZRA MEEKER AND HIS OREGON TRAIL WAGON 89

OREGON TRAIL MONUMENT AT KEARNEY 89

STONE MARKING OREGON TRAIL IN NEBRASKA 91

LONE TREE MONUMENT 92

LOGAN FONTANELLE 94

SITE OF FONTANELLE'S GRAVE NEAR BELLEVUE 95

ACT ABOLISHING SLAVERY IN NEBRASKA 101

(Photo from original in Slatehouse.)

MAP SHOWING FIRST PLAN FOR NEBRASKA SURVEY, 1854 . . . 103

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

NEBRASKA-KANSAS MONUMENT, STARTING POINT OF NEBRASKA SUR-
VEYS .... 105

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

MAP SHOWING PROGRESS OF SURVEYS IN EASTERN NEBRASKA, 1856 . 106

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

ROBERT HARVEY, AN EARLY SURVEYOR, AND OUTFIT .... 108

DANIEL FREEMAN, FIRST HOMESTEADER IN UNITED STATES . . Ill

THE FIRST HOMESTEAD 112

PAWNEE EARTH LODGE 114

ANCIENT PAWNEE POTTERY ... 115

COURT HOUSE ROCK. AND JAIL ROCK . . . . . . .120

MAJOR FRANK NORTH 122

SURVIVING PAWNEE SCOUTS, 1911 124

ROCK BLUFFS HOUSE WHERE ELECTION WAS HELD IN 1866 . . 130

LIEUTENANT GEO. A. FORSYTE 131

ARICKAREE OR BEECHER ISLAND BATTLEFIELD, 1910 .... 134
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD TRAIN CROSSING MISSOURI RIVER AT OMAHA,

1866 ... . ... .137

STAGE COACH 139

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

AN EARLY PRAIRIE FIRE 143

(From Catlin.)

RED CLOUD 147

SPOTTED TAIL 151

RUINS OF OLD RED CLOUD AGENCY, 1911 152

FT. ROBINSON, Sioux COUNTY, NEBRASKA. SITE OF RED CLOUD

AGENCY AND SCENE OF IMPORTANT INCIDENTS IN Sioux INDIAN

WAR 154

RED CLOUD'S TENT AT PINE RIDGE, 1904 156

PIONEER SEEKING SHELTER .... 163



ILLUSTRATIONS xiii

OLD FORT KEARNEY BLOCK HOUSE AT NEBRASKA CITY . . . 165

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

OLD EARTHWORKS AT FORT KEARNEY, 1907 165

FALLEN COTTONWOOD TREE ON SITE OF HEADQUARTERS, IST NEBRASKA

REGIMENT AT FT. KEARNEY, 1864, AS SEEN IN 1907 . . . 166

FORT LARAMIE IN 1848 167

PONCA LAND AS PAINTED FOR MAXIMILIAN, 1833 169

(From Thwaites's "Early Western Travels." Arthur H. Clark Co.,
Cleveland, Ohio.)

STANDING BEAR AND FAMILY IN 1904 172

BRIGHT EYES (!NSTHA THEAMBA) MRS. T. H. TIBBLES .... 175

HERD LAW ACT OF 1870 179

(Photo from original in Statehouse.)

Two CROWS (CAHAE NUMBA) 181

WAJEPA . 182

IN GRASSHOPPER DAYS 184

THE SAND HILLS 187

A TYPICAL FRONTIER WELL AND HOUSE 196

FORT McPnERSON MILITARY CEMETERY 200

NEBRASKA TERRITORIAL SEAL . 203

NEBRASKA STATE SEAL 203

THE GOLDENROD, NEBRASKA'S FLOWER 204

FIRST ARBOR DAY PROCLAMATION 207

(Photo from original in Statehouse.)

J. STERLING MORTON AND ROBERT W. FURNAS 209

A NEBRASKA TREE 210

ANCIENT NEBRASKA TOOLS 215

(Courtesy R. F. Gilder, Omaha, Nebraska.)

ANCIENT NEBRASKA HOUSE . 216

(Courtesy R. F. Gilder, Omaha, Nebraska.)

SPANISH, FRENCH AND ENGLISH FLAGS 218

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)
MAP SHOWING GRANTS BY THE ENGLISH KING AND THEIR RELATION

TO NEBRASKA 222

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

AMERICAN FLAG 223

MAP SHOWING LAND CEDED BY INDIAN TRIBES IN NEBRASKA . . 225

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

MAP SHOWING COUNTRY KNOWN TO THE OMAHA 226

THE BUFFALO HUNT 227

(From Thwaites's "Early Western Travels.'' Arthur H. Clark Co.,

Cleveland, Ohio.)

OMAHA MISSION BUILDING IN THURSTON COUNTY, BUILT 1856, . 228

AN OMAHA INDIAN VILLAGE IN 1860 229

STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS 233

NEBRASKA-KANSAS BILL 235

(From original at Washington, D. C.)

MAP OF NEBRASKA TERRITORY, 1854 237

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

GOVERNOR FRANCIS BURT . 238

NEBRASKA FERRY ACROSS ELKHORN RIVER, 1854 239

ACTING GOVERNOR THOMAS B. CUMING 239

FIRST TERRITORIAL CAPITAL, 1855 240

FIRST CLAIM CABIN IN NEBRASKA 241



xiv ILLUSTRATIONS

PETA LESHARU CHIEF OF THE PAWNEE NATION .... 242
MORMONS SETTING OUT FROM FLORENCE, NEBRASKA, TO CROSS THE

PLAINS ' 244

FIRST COUNTY MAP OF NEBRASKA, 1854 245

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

COUNTY MAP OF NEBRASKA IN 1856 . 247

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

NEBRASKA WILDCAT CURRENCY 248

SECOND TERRITORIAL CAPITOL, AFTERWARD OMAHA HIGH SCHOOL . 250

GOVERNOR WM. A. RICHARDSON 251

GOVERNOR SAMUEL W. BLACK 253

PAWNEE COUNCIL ROCK 254

GOVERNOR ALVIN SAUNDERS 257

OUTLINE MAP OF NEBRASKA IN 1863 258

(Drawing by Miss Martha Turner.)

FIRST STATE CAPITOL AT LINCOLN, 1869 260

THE THREE FOUNDERS OF LINCOLN . . 261

FIRST LOG HOUSE IN LINCOLN 261

A PIONEER DUGOUT 262

GOVERNOR DAVID BUTLER 262

GOVERNOR WILLIAM H. JAMES 263

GOVERNOR ROBERT W. FURNAS . . 264

GOVERNOR SILAS W. GARBER 265

CONSTITUTION OF 1875 WITH SIGNATURES 267

(Photo from original in Statehouse.)

GOVERNOR ALBINUS NANCE 268

GOVERNOR JAMES W. DAWES 270

A WESTERN CATTLE RANGE 271

A FRONTIER NEBRASKA GRANGER 272

GOVERNOR JOHN M. THAYER . . . 272

NEBRASKA STATE CAPITOL IN 1889 . 273

A FARMERS' ALLIANCE CONVENTION 275

CONGRESSMAN O. M. KEM OF CUSTER COUNTY AT HOME (FIRST CON-
GRESSMAN IN UNITED STATES ELECTED FROM A SOD HOUSE) . 276

GOVERNOR JAMES E. BOYD 277

GOVERNOR LORENZO CROUNSE ......... 278

GOVERNOR SILAS A. HOLCOMB 279

WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN IN 1896 280

GOVERNOR WILLIAM A. POYNTER . . . . . . . .281

GOVERNOR CHAS. H. DIETRICH 282

GOVERNOR EZRA P. SAVAGE 282

GOVERNOR JOHN H. MICKEY 283

A NEBRASKA CORN CROP 284

THRESHING WINTER WHEAT 284

IN LINE FOR A HOMESTEAD 286

GOVERNOR GEORGE L. SHELDON 287

GOVERNOR A. C. SHALLENBERGER . ... . ... . . 287

GOVERNOR CHESTER H. ALDRICH . . . . . . . ' 288

GOVERNOR JOHN H. MOREHEAD ..... . . . 289

MAP OF NEBRASKA, 1911 facing p. 290

MONUMENT TO ABRAHAM LINCOLN ON STATE HOUSE GROUNDS, LINCOLN,

NEBRASKA, 1912 . 295

(Courtesy of Roy Hindmarsh, Lincoln, Nebraska.)



INTRODUCTION

IT gives me pleasure to write a word of welcome to this
collection of stories of Nebraska history.

First, for the sake of the author, whom I have known
for so many winters and summers, in storm and in sunshine,
and whom I have found faithful and devoted to the best
ideals for Nebraska in public life and in private labor.

Second, I am glad to have part in helping these stories
of Nebraska to the place they deserve in the hearts and
homes of the people, that all may better know and love
their state because they better know its history.

We are apt to value too highly the distant scenes and
events and neglect those which are about us. More and
more we have come to recognize that the surroundings
during the early years of life fix the characters of men and
women. Thus the people of our own locality are naturally
the objects of our first interest and study. The stories of
the men and women who explored and made Nebraska
lack neither interest nor importance to any American, for
Nebraska has had a large part in our national life and is
destined to have a larger part in the centuries which lie
before us.

The incidents recorded in this book take us back to the
beginnings of organic life on this part of our planet; they
picture for us the days when another race made its home
on our prairies and give us glimpses of its life and wander-
ings; they trace the experiences of the early explorers as
they became acquainted with the people and natural re-
sources found here and made them known to the larger
world without; they set before us the time, still in the
memory of living men, when the buffalo and coyote roamed
our fertile acres then untouched by the plow; they tell us

XV



xvi INTRODUCTION

of the risks and toils and hardships of the men and women
who have made Nebraska a great and beautiful state, and
set before us examples of industry, patience, and heroism
worthy our emulation.

For the children of Nebraska these stories have a value
and interest surpassing other literature. They give to
their imaginations a local habitation and invest the names
and annals of their own state with a sympathetic value
which is destined to be of more worth to them in future
years than are our crops of golden grain.

There has long been need of such a book as this in the
schools and homes of Nebraska. I bid it welcome and wish
for it a generous reception in this state and in the Western
world.

HOWARD W. CALDWELL,
Professor of American History,
University of Nebraska.



PART I

Stories of Nebraska History



THE STORY OF CORONADO

FRANCISCO VASQUEZ CORONADO and his soldiers
were the first white men to visit the Nebraska-Kansas
plains. Coronado was a Spanish general who came to
Mexico to seek his fortune in the New World. While
there wonderful stories were brought by Fray Marcos, a
monk, who had traveled a thousand miles north, into the
country now called Arizona. In that land it was said
were the Seven Cities of Cibola, with houses built of stone
many stories high, and great abundance of gold and silver,
turquoises, cloth, sheep, cows, and tame partridges. All
the Spaniards in Mexico were eager to take possession of
such a wonderful land and to seize its riches. Coronado
was the lucky man who was made general of the army which
was sent out to conquer these famous seven cities. Three
hundred Spaniards on horseback and a thousand Indians,
with a long train of horses and cattle carrying food and
ammunition, started in February, 1540, on this fine errand.
After a long and hard journey across the desert the army
arrived at the towns of the Zuni and Hopi Indians in
Arizona. They found there what one finds to-day a
desert with houses made of sun-baked mud, the homes of
poor and peaceful Indians who make pottery and weave
a little cloth and raise corn and beans and fowls. The
riches and splendor of the wonderful Seven Cities of Cibola
were a dream of the desert. Like many other things in

l



life, the farther off, the more wonderful the nearer, the
more common.

The Spaniards were very much disappointed. They had
come so far to conquer a people who were hardly worth
conquering. It would never do to go back to Mexico with
nothing to show for their long journey. So Coronado
marched eastward across New Mexico into the valley of
the Rio Grande. Stretched along this valley for many
miles were villages of the Pueblo Indians. They also were
poor and peaceful, irrigating little patches of the valley
in order to raise corn and beans, making cloth and pottery,
and living in sun-baked mud houses. These Pueblo Indians
treated the Spaniards kindly and furnished them food.
The army camped there for the winter. Quarrels arose
between the soldiers and the Indians. The soldiers stormed
the villages, killed many of the Indians, and burned some
whom they took prisoners. The Spaniards then tried to
conciliate the Indians so that they would go on raising food
for them, but up and down the fair valley of the Rio Grande
there were fear and hatred of the white men.

At this time Coronado heard for the first time the story
of the land of Quivira, far to the northeast. An Indian
slave whom the Spaniards called the Turk, because they
said he looked like a Turk, told the story. His home was
far out on the plains, but he had been captured by the
Pueblo Indians and held as a slave. It is supposed that
he was a Pawnee Indian, for the Pawnees wore their hair
in a peculiar way so that they resembled Turks. The
story of Quivira told by the Indian slave was of a wonder-
ful land far across the plains. There was a river six miles
wide, and in it were fishes as big as horses, and upon it
floated many great canoes with twenty rowers on a side.
Some of these canoes carried sails, and the lords sat under
awnings upon them, while the prows bore golden eagles.
The king of Quivira, Tatarrax, slept under a great tree
with golden bells on the branches. These bells swung to



THE STORY OF CORONADO




THE FIRST PRINTED PICTURE
OF A BUFFALO



and fro in the winds which always blew, and their music
lulled the king to sleep. The common people in Quivira
had dishes of plated ware and the jugs and bowls were of
gold. The king of Quivira worshiped a cross of gold and
an image of a woman, the goddess of heaven.

Stories like these filled the hearts of the Spaniards with
longing to reach the land of Quivira and to help the people
there to take care of its riches.
On the 23d of April, 1541, Coro-
nado and his army marched away
from the Rio Grande valley, guid-
ed by the Turk and by another
Indian from the same region,
whom they called Isopete. For
thirty-five days they traveled out
upon the high plains. These
were so nearly level they could
look as far as the eye would pierce
and see no hill. They found great herds of buffalo, or
" humpbacked cows" as they called them, on these plains,
and Indians who traveled around among these cows, killing
them for their flesh and skins eating the flesh raw and
making the skins into tents and clothing. The Indians
had dogs to pull their tents from place to place, and had
never seen horses until the Spaniards came. The Spanish
army saw for the first time the American buffalo. None
of these Indians who hunted the cows had ever heard of
the rich land of Quivira with its gold and silver, its great
canoes, and its king. Here the two guides began to tell dif-
ferent stories, and confessed that the houses in Quivira were
not quite so large as they had said, and the people not so rich.

Coronado and his army had eaten all the corn they had
brought with them for food. The land of Quivira was still
said to be far to the north. A council was held and it was
determined to send the army back to the Rio Grande, while
Coronado with thirty horsemen and two guides pushed on



STORIES OF NEBRASKA



to find Quivira. So the army went back, and Coronado
with his thirty men traveled on, eating nothing but raw
buffalo meat. After crossing a great river, supposed to
be the Arkansas, they came to the country of Quivira,
forty-two days after parting from the army, or seventy-
seven days after leaving the Rio Grande.

Coronado says in his letter to the King of Spain, " Where
I reached Quivira it was in the fortieth degree (of latitude)."
The fortieth degree forms the state line between Nebraska
and Kansas. This would make Quivira in the Republican
valley. Coronado found no gold, no silver, no bells tinkling
from the trees, no fishes big as horses, and no boats with
golden prows. He found Indians living in grass huts, grow-
ing corn and beans and melons, eating raw buffalo meat
and cutting it with stone knives. There were twenty-five
of these grass hut villages, and the only metal seen in them
was a piece of copper worn by a chief around his neck.
Coronado went on for seventy-five miles through the vil-

lages of Quivira and came
to the country called
Harahey. The chief of
Harahey met them with
two hundred men, all


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryAddison Erwin SheldonHistory and stories of Nebraska → online text (page 1 of 20)