Addison Erwin Sheldon.

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Sioux for this new road. Spotted Tail and the Brules were
willing to make the agreement. They did not hunt in that
region. Red Cloud and the Oglalas refused because the
Powder River country was their best buffalo hunting ground.
They had conquered it from the Crows. They had seen the
white people pouring in everywhere, the Union Pacific Rail-
road was being built, the buffalo were being killed off and
even while they were holding the council at Fort Laramie
regiments of soldiers arrived there who were to make the new
forts on the new road. The Oglala chiefs rose to leave the
council. As they did so Red Cloud placed his hand upon his
rifle and said, " In this and in the Great Spirit I put my trust."
The new roads were opened and the forts were built in the
summer of 1866. Red Cloud became the leader of the war
against the whites. Every day came news of fighting on the
road to the Montana mines. December 21, 1866, Red
Cloud and his warriors drew Colonel Fetterman and ninety-
six soldiers into an ambuscade near Fort Phil Kearny in
Wyoming, and every, white man was killed.


There was an outcry in the country against the invasion
of Red Cloud 's country without his consent. A great peace
commission was named at Washington with General Sher-
man at its head. This commission came to Fort Laramie
in 1868, and made the treaty called " The Great Fort Laramie
Treaty of 1868." For more than forty years this treaty was
regarded by the Sioux as the great charter of their rights.
The Sioux orators knew it in their own language by heart
and repeated it in all their speeches in the great councils or
around the tepee fire. It has been to them what the Declara-
tion of Independence and the Constitution are to the Ameri-
can people. The treaty of 1868 provided that every Sioux
over four years of age should receive from the United States
every year one suit of clothes, ten dollars in money, and
rations at the rate of one pound of meat and one pound of
flour for each day. To every Indian who began farming, the
United States would issue one cow, one yoke of oxen, and
twenty dollars in money. The new road through the Pow-
der River hunting grounds was to be given up and all the
soldiers from there withdrawn. The Sioux were to have the
right to hunt upon the Platte and Republican as long as
buffalo were there. Schools were
to be established for all the Sioux
children. On their part the Sioux
agreed to keep peace with the whites
and to permit the Union Pacific road
to be built.

The treaty of 1868 was regarded
as a great victory for Red Cloud.
He had beaten the white men in
battle. They had abandoned their

fr>H-c nnrl Wt him Vii Vnintino- SPOTTED TAIL. (From photo

LRg collection ofA.E. Sheldon.)

grounds. Yet Red Cloud was one

of the last of the Indians to sign the treaty. Spotted Tail
and other Brule chiefs " touched the pen," as the Indians
call it, on April 29, 1868. May 25th many of the Oglala



(From photograph by A. E. Sheldon.)

chiefs, including Sitting Bull, Man-Afraid-of-His-Horses
and American Horse, signed. Red Cloud sent word that he
would not sign until the soldiers were sent away. In August,

the forts were aban-
doned and on Novem-
ber 6, 1868, Red Cloud
signed the treaty with
Father De Smet as a

The signing of the
treaty of 1868 ended
the Sioux wars for Red
Cloud and Spotted Tail.
From that time each
of these chiefs tried to
secure the rights of his people in council rather than in war.
Since the two tribes were now to be fed and clothed by the
government, a place was to be selected where this should
be done. The chiefs visited Washington in 1870, and met
President Grant. In 1871 the old Red Cloud Agency was
located on the north bank of the North Platte River near
the Nebraska- Wyoming line about a mile from where Henry,
Nebraska, now is. Here the Oglalas and Brules were fed
in 1872.

In 1873 the Sioux Indians moved from the valley of the
North Platte to the beautiful White River valley in north-
western Nebraska. Here two agencies were established, one
called Red Cloud Agency near the present site of Fort
Robinson, the other called Spotted Tail Agency about forty
miles northeast, near the junction of Beaver Creek with the
White River. For the next five years the valley about these
two frontier posts was the scene of more exciting events than
was any other part of Nebraska.

Gold was found in the Black Hills in 1875. By the
treaty of 1868 the Black Hills belonged to the Sioux and
white men were to be kept out. White men would not be


kept out after gold had been discovered. Many of the Sioux
under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse went on the warpath
again. The Sioux under Red Cloud and Spotted Tail were
fed by the United States. The two old chiefs remained at
peace, but hundreds of their young men took rations from
the United States and then slipped away under cover of night
to join the hostile Sioux in the north. In 1875, Congress
voted not to feed the Sioux according to the Fort Laramie
treaty of 1868 unless they remained north of the Niobrara
River. In May of that year, Red Cloud and Spotted Tail
went to Washington again and made an agreement for
$50,000 a year to give up their hunting privilege south of the
Niobrara. Only half of this sum was paid. Red Cloud was
urged many times by the warriors who had fought under him
ten years before to lead them again against the whites. He
steadily refused. He had been i,n the East and seen the cities
full of white people. He had sent his young men over all the
hunting grounds and he knew that there were not enough
buffalo to feed his people through another campaign.

June 25, 1876, was the date of the greatest victory over
the whites in the history of the Sioux nation. General
Custer, the boldest Indian fighter in the country, with 260
men was cut off at the battle of the Little Big Horn in
Montana. The news was brought into the Red Cloud and
Spotted Tail agencies by Indian runners. There was in-
tense excitement among the Oglalas and Brules and it was
feared that all would join the hostile Sioux. Commissioners
came from Washington. A great council was held in the
White River valley in August and September. A new treaty
was made September 23, 1876, signed by Red Cloud and
Spotted Tail and the other chiefs. The Black Hills were
sold to the white people and the United States agreed to
issue the Indians more beef, more flour and coffee, sugar and
beans, until they were able to support themselves. The
Sioux agreed to give up all their claims to Nebraska and to
remove to South Dakota, where new agencies would be


established. In spite of the signing of this new treaty by
Red Cloud, General Crook ordered the camp of Red Cloud
on Chadron Creek to be taken by surprise on October 24th.
All the ponies of Red Cloud's band were taken and driven
away where the owners never saw them again. This was
the hardest blow Red Cloud received in his long career. It
was an act of war in violation of agreements by the govern-



(From photograph collection of A. E. Sheldon.)

ment. Its object was to keep Red Cloud's warriors from
helping the hostile Indians.

The Sioux soon had reason to see Red Cloud 's wisdom in
refusing to go again on the warpath. General Crook gave
the hostile Sioux no time to hunt, eat or sleep. In March,
1877, Spotted Tail went on a mission to the camp of the
hostile Sioux and over 2,200 of them came in and surrendered
at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies. In May of the


same year Crazy Horse, with his band of 889 ragged and
starving followers, joined them.

Crazy Horse was killed on September 5th, by a bayonet-
thrust while resisting an attempt to put him into prison.
Red Cloud and Spotted Tail made their third trip to Wash-
ington in the same month to arrange for the future welfare of
their people.

On October 27, 1877, the Sioux bade a final farewell to
Nebraska as their home. A great caravan of over 5,000
Indians, with 2,000 cattle and two companies of cavalry
started, on its march down the White River valley for its
winter camp on the Missouri River in South Dakota. While
on the march 2,000 of the hostile Sioux who had surrendered,
carrying the corpse of Crazy Horse in a buffalo robe, broke
into the line and tried in vain to stampede the Oglalas and

The new Brule agency established in 1878 was named
Rosebud, and that for the Oglalas established in 1879 was
named Pine Ridge. It was significant that they were not
named for the chiefs, as the old agencies had been. A new
era began which was one of struggle between the Indian
agents and the old chiefs. It was the agents' aim to break
down the power and authority of the chief and to deal .di-
rectly with each Indian. This struggle lasted for twenty-
five years. Spotted Tail saw its end sooner than did his
great fellow chief, for on August 5, 1881, he was killed by
Crow Dog, an Indian of his own tribe. The agent at Rose-
bud, who had just been engaged in a contest with Spotted
Tail, wrote of him these words: " Spotted Tail was a true
friend to the whites. His influence was always on the side
of law and order, and to him is greatly due the peace which
now exists."

Red Cloud survived his old comrade for many years. He
was never reconciled to the new system which broke down
the authority of the chief. He opposed many of the new
ways and the little frame house a mile from the Pine Ridge



agency buildings was the scene of many earnest councils
during the years which followed.

He lived to see his people throw off the blanket and adopt
the white men's clothes. He lived to see the Sioux sun
dance abolished in 1884. He lived to see the Oglalas and
Brules settled in log and frame houses, each family on its
own land. He lived to see all the Sioux children going to
school, speaking both the English and Sioux languages. He
lived to take part in 1889 in another great council with the
United States and to sign a new agreement, which gave
cattle, tools and seed to all Indians who would farm. He
lived long enough to receive, in 1889, $28,000 for the ponies
taken from his band in 1876 by General Crook. He lived to
see the ghost dancing of 1890 and to hear the echoes of the
last Sioux battle at Wounded Knee in December of that year.
He lived to see an order sent out in January, 1902, stopping
the rations of all able-bodied Sioux men and requiring them
to go to work on the roads and irrigation ditches at $1.25 for
an eight-hour day. He lived to see this order enforced in
spite of the orators who pointed to the Fort Laramie treaty
of 1868. He lived to see the great Sioux reservation sur-
veyed and separate farms of 320
acres each chosen by heads of Indian
families, with 160 acres for each child
over 18 and 80 acres for each child
under 18. He lived long enough to
have his eyesight fade away, leav-
ing him in total darkness. He lived
long enough to know that nearly all
of the friends of his youth and early
manhood were gone before, to know
that the old ways were changed.
He reached the end of his long

RIDGE, 1904

earthly sojourn December 10, 1909, the last of the long
line of famous Indian chiefs who, in council and on the war-


path, had struggled bravely against the inevitable advance
of the white man upon this continent.


1 . What right had each tribe of Indians to the land it claimed?

2. What is "good luck" and why did the Indians believe so strongly in it?

3. Why did the Sioux oppose the settlement of their country by the white

men? Why they more than the Pawnee or Omaha?

4. How could the white men and the Sioux have lived at peace with each


5. What do you think of the Fort Laramie treaty of 1868? Was it fair to

both Indians and white men?

6. Which do you more admire, Spotted Tail or Red Cloud? Why? Compare


7. Did the United States keep its treaties with the Sioux?

8. Why did the government try to break the power of the chiefs and deal

directly with each Indian?

9. In what sense are the Sioux Nebraska Indians?


NOTHING is more terrible during the settlement of a new
country than a great storm. A long severe winter is
full of danger even to the bravest and hardiest pioneers.
Thousands have died of cold and starvation in the settle-
ment of this country. Every state has its stories of great
storms and the hardships and suffering which they brought
to the people.

Three great storms stand out above all other storms in the
history of Nebraska.

The first of these began December 1, 1856, with rain from
the southwest, but soon the wind changed to the northwest
and became fiercely cold. The snow fall which followed was
the deepest ever known since the settlement of Nebraska.
It was five feet on the level, and in drifts far deeper. This
first storm lasted three days. Storm after storm followed
during the winter. As one writer of that time says: "A
terrible cold winter set in December 1, 1856, freezing into
ninety solid blocks of ice all the days of December, January
and February."

There were very few settlers in Nebraska in those days.
Most of them were in the counties near the Missouri River.
Every one of these counties has its old settlers ' stories of the
''hard winter" of 1857. In Richardson County the first
December storm drove twenty head of cattle into a valley
and walled them in with drifting snow. When they were
found by their owner in February most of them were dead,
the few survivors having fed on the branches of trees. In
Otoe County deer ran through the streets of Nebraska City
pursued by the hungry wolves and many settlers lost their
lives. In Dodge County the sun failed to show his face for
two months. The ravines, thirty feet deep, were filled with



snow. A settler was lost in the December storm. His
funeral was held in April, after the snow had melted. In
Hurt County snow fell for six days and nights without stop-
ping. Settlers would have starved were it not for the game
which they caught in the snowdrifts. In Cuming County
the creeks and rivers were buried by the snow. The set-
tlers traveled on foot to the Missouri River and hauled back
upon hand sleds goods to keep their families from perishing.
All the ravines and hollows were drifted full. The timber
along the streams was rilled with deer, elk and antelope,
driven in from the prairie. One settler killed over seventy
with an axe. The crust of snow would bear the weight of a
man, but these animals with their sharp feet cut through
and were helpless. On the Oregon trail the snow lay two feet
deep from October to May between Fort Kearney and Fort
Laramie and the valleys were filled with the drifts. The
general testimony of all the old settlers and the records in-
dicate that the title ''hard winter" belongs to the winter
of 1856-57. In no winter since has the snow been so deep,
so badly drifted, or remained so long as in that winter.

The second great Nebraska storm came at the end of
winter, instead of the beginning. It had been raining on
Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873. Just before dark the wind
changed from the southwest to the northwest, the rain
changed to sleet, and the sleet to fine snow. At daybreak
on the 14th, the air was filled with what seemed solid snow.
It was so wet and driven so swiftly before the wind that it
was impossible to face it. All day Monday, and Monday
night, Tuesday, and Tuesday night, the storm increased in
fury. Dugouts, sod houses, and stables were buried in snow-
drifts. Nearly all of the stock in some counties was frozen
to death. There were many cases where settlers took horses,
cows, pigs and chickens into their houses, where all lived to-
gether until the storm passed. One settler remembers that
the snow was as fine as flour and was driven so fiercely before
the wind that it found every crevice and filled the stables un-


til the cattle, tramping to keep it down, had their backs
forced up through the roofs. Many settlers perished in this
storm. How many we do not know, for no perfect record
was kept ; but nearly every county had its victims.

One of the true stories of this storm is that of the Cooper
family, then living about ten miles from St. Paul, Howard
County. The mother and two daughters, Lizzie and Emma,
were the only ones at home Sunday when the storm came,
the father and son being away. Mrs. Cooper was not well
and went to bed early. The two girls sat up keeping fire in
the fireplace. The wind blew fiercer every hour, sifting the
fine snow into the house. Then came a furious blast which
blew the door open, scattered the live coals about the room
and set the house on fire. While the two girls were putting
out the fire another fierce gust tore off the roof and left them
in darkness with the snow filling the room.

The two girls piled a feather tick on their mother's bed
and crept under it, one on each side, with their shoes and
clothing on.

When daylight came the storm was still raging and snow
drifting deep in the room. The two girls decided to go to a
neighbor 's house a mile away and get help for their mother.
Telling their mother to have courage and keep quiet, the
girls put on what scanty wraps they could find and climbed
over the wall of the house, for the snow had filled the door-
way. As soon as they left the house they lost their way.
The fierce cold wind had no mercy. The snow cut their
faces. Lizzie, the older girl, threw her arms around Emma
crying, " Let us pray, " and in the snow the two children knelt
and asked God to guide them. Then Emma said, "Come on.
We must go and get help for mother. This is the way."

All the day these two girls wandered in the storm* Once
they found a dugout where potatoes were kept and beat upon
its locked door, but could not get in. Only a few yards
away was the house, but when they tried to reach it they
lost their way and again wandered on. That night they


scooped a hole in the snow and held each other close to keep
from freezing.

In the morning Emma tried to encourage her sister to
push on. She rubbed her hands and beat her face to rouse
her. Lizzie started, but fell exhausted and died in the snow
with her sister watching over her.

When she knew her sister was dead, Emma pushed on to
find help for her mother. She kept saying to herself, "I
must not go to sleep. I must not go to sleep;" for she had
heard that when one was freezing to go to sleep was to die.
So she kept moving on all through that day and the next.
Her feet became frozen and her clothes were torn, but she
stumbled on and fought for life. On Wednesday the sun
came out and she saw at a little distance the neighbor's
house she had tried so long to reach.

The people in the house saw her, brought her in and cared
for her. Her first words to them were for her mother.
Searchers found the mother lying frozen to death a short
distance from her home. Emma lived to womanhood and
became Mrs. Adolph Goebel of New York.

The third and last great storm came January 12, 1888.
The day had been so mild that men went about in their
shirt-sleeves and cattle grazed in the fields. The air was as
soft and hazy as in Indian summer. All over the state men
and stock were abroad in the fields and the school-children
played out of doors. Suddenly the wind changed to the
north, blowing more furiously each minute thick blinding
snow, first in large flakes and later in smaller ones fierce as
bullets from a gun. There seemed no limit to the fury of the
wind, nor the increasing density of the driven snow. Men
driving their teams could not see the horses' heads. The
roads were blotted out and travelers staggered blindly on not
knowing where they were going. The storm, and the intense
cold which followed lasted three days, and was almost imme-
diately followed by another fierce storm. It was two weeks
before the news from the farms and ranches began slowly


to come into the newspaper offices. Then it was learned that
the loss of life was the greatest ever known in the West. In
Dakota over one thousand persons were reported frozen to
death, and in Nebraska over one hundred. The wind blew
at the rate of fifty-six miles an hour and the mercury fell
to thirty-four degrees below zero. In Holt County alone
more than twenty people lost their lives and one half of the
live stock in the county perished.

This great storm of 1888 is known as the school-children 's
storm. Over a great part of Nebraska it came between
three and four o'clock, just as the children were starting
from the schoolhouses for home. Many stories of heroism
in the storm are recorded. One school-teacher, Mrs. Wilson,
of Runningwater, South Dakota, started from the school-
house with nine children. All were found frozen to death on
the prairie when the storm was over. In Dodge County,
Nebraska, two sisters, thirteen and eight years old, daughters
of Mrs. Peter Westphalen, started from the schoolhouse
together. Their widowed mother watched anxiously for
them but they never came. Their bodies were found lying
close together in an open field drifted over with snow. The
older girl had taken off her wraps and put them on her little
sister. The story of their death told in the newspapers at
the time was full of pathos. These verses were written to
their memory:

"I can walk no further, sister, I am weary, cold and worn;
You go on, for you are stronger; they will find me in the morn."
And she sank, benumbed and weary, with a sobbing cry of woe,
Dying in the night and tempest; dying in the cruel snow.

"Try to walk a little farther, soon we'll see the gleaming light,
Let me fold my cloak around you," but her sister cold and white
With the snowdrift for a pillow, fell in dying sleep 's repose,
While the snow came whirling, sifting, till above her form it rose.

Search in western song and story, and discover if you can,

Braver, grander, nobler action in the history of man;

Than the silent heroism of the child who, in her woe,

Wrapped her cloak about her sister, as she struggled through the snov:.




Three young women school-teachers became famous as
Nebraska heroines of this storm. They were Miss Louise
Royce of Plainview, Pierce County, Miss Etta Shattuck of
Inman, Holt County,
and Miss Minnie Free-
man of Mira Valley,
Valley County. Miss
Royce started from her
schoolhouse with three
children to go to a house
only a few yards distant.
They lost their way and
the children were frozen
to death. Miss Royce
after being out alt night
was rescued the next day so badly frozen that one of her limbs
was taken off. Miss Shattuck sent her children safely home
at the first signs of the storm, but lost her own way and wan-
dered to a haystack. She crept into the hay and lay there
three days before she was discovered by a farmer, coming to
get hay for his stock. Two of her limbs were frozen and had
to be taken off. She was removed to her home at Seward,
where she died a few weeks later. Miss Minnie Freeman
tied her school-children together in single file with herself
at the head of the line, and thus guided them through the
storm to the nearest farm-house where all were sheltered.
People everywhere read with deep interest the story of the
heroism of these school-teachers. Thousands of dollars were
raised by the newspapers to reward them and to care for the
other victims.

In the annals of Nebraska will always be remembered
the "Hard Winter" of '57, the ''Easter Storm" of 73 and
the "Great Blizzard" of '88.



1. What difference between these storms and the storm described by Whittier

in "Snowbound?"

2. Where is a snowstorm more beautiful, in city or country? Why?

3. Where is it more dangerous? Why?

4. Why are children so fond of the snow?

5. How have conditions in a great snowstorm been changed since the pioneer



OLD FORT KEARNEY was built in 1847 at Nebraska
City. It was a log blockhouse on the hill looking down
on the Missouri River and soldiers returning across the plains
from the war with Mexico wintered
there. The very next year its name
was taken away and given to the
new fort called first Fort Childs,

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Online LibraryAddison Erwin SheldonHistory and stories of Nebraska → online text (page 11 of 20)