Christian Bernhardt.

Indian raids in Lincoln County, Kansas, 1864 and 1869; story of those killed, with a history of the monument erected to their memory in Lincoln court house square, May 30, 1909 online

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Online LibraryChristian BernhardtIndian raids in Lincoln County, Kansas, 1864 and 1869; story of those killed, with a history of the monument erected to their memory in Lincoln court house square, May 30, 1909 → online text (page 4 of 6)
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Spillman creek farther than the Dane settlement, that they
had not been in the settlement on the Saline river. We
were about a mile west of where the depot now stands at
Lincoln, when the stillness of the night was broken by a
loud war song northeast of us and down the valley. John
said, "My God, Eli, they have been down to the settle-
ment." We heard more singing farther down and nearer
the river. "Yes John, I fear it is a big party, and think
it is a different party from the one we ran into."

"I thought this was a larger party that had come down
the Saline, probably dividing on Wolf creek. We could
tell they were moving up the Saline bottom by the noise
thev made, sounding like a large party or else they were
scattered out. They did not seem to be coming very fast,
some were singing and others talking loudly.

"We got to the bank of the river, one of the bends which
points to the north. When they got opposite and close
enough we were going to fire towards them, we were going
to fire together and I was to keep on firing while John
loaded again. If the Indians came toward us, we would
cross the river, but we did not think they would attack us
in the dark. By this time they were pretty well north of
us, but quite aways out of the bottom. All at once they
commenced hallooing and fired several shots. As the last
shots were fired, we heard a woman scream one loud pierc-
ing scream more of horror than of agony, then all was still .


"We could not imagine who it was that had fallen into
the hands of the Indians, there being no one living in the
direction from from which the scream came. We almost
held our breath while we listened, wondering what the
Indians were doing, and which way they were moving,
waiting and listening, and waiting for the sound of their
ponies, walking through the grass, a voice, a sigh, or a
moan, but not a sound reached us. In a few moments
which seemed hours to us, we heard them east of us down
the river. John thought it best to get down the river
ahead of them, but I could not see how we could head
them off if we were to follow them directly down the
river. Being sure that they were now down in the settle-
ment, we crossed the river in the direction of Bullfoot
creek, by so doing we could travel faster and get ahead of
the Indians.

"Starting a little east of south, when we got on high
ground between the Saline and Bullfoot we saw several
fire signal arrows shooting up into the sky, from up Bull-
foot west and south of us. Thinking then that there
must be three bands of Indians, one coming down the
Spillman, one down the Saline, and the other down the
Bullfoot, we feared that when daylight came, all we could
see would be Indians, Indians everywhere.

"Wishing to get ahead of them we turned a little east,
getting to the creek as soon as possible; when, thinking
we were below them we hurried down the creek as fast as
we could under the circumstances, keeping our guns ready
to fire at the first sight of a moving Indian.

"We had made up our minds that if we ran into them
again we were going t'^ do shooting at the first one we
saw, without waiting fur good one or fat one. Traveling
on down the creek, dawn was fast approaching, we were
still hugging the creek for protection in case of need.
We had not heard a sound or seen a signal light since
those mentioned.

"About sun up or a little after, we were near Fred
Erhardt's place, where we found a company of United
States cavalry in camp. We reported to the captain what
we had seen — told him what we had heard in the night,
out on the Saline river bottom, and of the fire arrows we
had seen just a little above on Bullfoot. I begged him to
saddle up at once — to furnish me a horse and I would
lead them right to the Indians' camp, where I thought we
could catch them if we moved at once and moved quickly.
He replied, "I cannot move any farther until I get orders
to do so. The Indians were in the settlement over the
river yesterday afternoon, but I do not know how much


damage they have done." He had sent a dispatch to Fort
Harker for orders and would wait there until he received
an answer. We were disgusted with his reply, drank a
cup of coffee, ate a hard tack and started on home, keep-
ing on the south side of the river, and just before noon
got home.

"I got up my pony, intending to go back up the river,
but as we had told the folks the story, they would not let
me go until next day, when I went up. But the dead, ex-
cept one, had been found, and all the wounded. My sis-
ter, Mrs. Alderdice, had been captured.

"The next day, A. M. Campbell and some others came
up from Salina, with whom I went up on Spillman creek
to look the ground over, and to see if we could find Pe-
tersen, the missing Dane. Finding his body, we dug his
grave where he fell, on the south side of the Spillman.
We also saw the graves of the others that the Indians had
killed. They were buried by the party that were there
May 31, 1869. We also saw where the Indians had been
at the dug-out, where the Danes lived. I knew now that
we were wrong in thinking there were three parties or
bands of Indians. There was but one band; we were fol-
lowing this party around, that made us think we were
seeing different bands.

"The shooting on the Saline river was where the two
men, T. Meigerhoff and C. Weichell were killed, and Mrs.
Weichell was captured. They must have crossed the river
after killing these two men near us, and went over to
Bullfoot, and not down the river as we thought at that
time, but we following them over caused us to think them
another party. Yours very truly,

"Eli Ziegler."

The place where Eli Ziegler and Alverson were when
the Indians overtook them, according to his letter, must
be just where the Denmark school house now stands.
This corresponds better to his description than any other
place on Trail creek. The horses and harness were all
that the Indians took, and it seems that they spoiled
the harness badly by cutting the tugs, which was
done very neatly. This is the place where Waldo Han-
cock, of Beverly, says they found the wagon. The Indi-
ans, after cutting the tugs, left the ends hanging on the
singletree hooks, and in this shape they were found a few
days later when they went up to look for the wagon.
This wagon did good service for the settlers during that


fall. They came up to the abandoned farms to gather
what had been planted by those who had been killed by
the Indians. Mr. Hancock informed me that they got some
extra fine potatoes off of the Lauritzen farm. The pota-
toes grew down near the water edge of Spillman creek.
They were obliged to go up there several times to clear
the patch.

The Schermerhorn Ranch.

The Schermerhorn ranch has been often mentioned, in
connection with the old history of this section of Lincoln
county, but I never saw a description given of its location;
nor what it was composed of or was represented to be. It
was located on the northeast quarter of section 28, range
7, in what is now Elkhorn township. Mr. Schermerhorn
kept a general store there where the settlers could get a
few of the most needed things necessary to sustain life.
It was about two miles due south of the present Rocky
Hill bridge, where the Moffitts had their dwelling in 1864,
and about three miles east of where Ferdinand Erhardt
had his home. Gen. Alfred Sully had headquarters at
this place in 1868 and investigated the conditions in this
part of the country.

Railroad Construction Gang Attacked May 28, 1869.

Here is a story not exactly a part of this book, yet it
has some bearing on the tragedy, enacted here on the 30th
day May. On the 28th day of May the same party of
Indians tore up the track and ditched the train on the
railroad and had a battle with the railroad gang that built
the road. Two white men were killed and four were
wounded in that battle. That was the time and place
where our townsman A. Roenigk received a very serious
wound from an Indian's rifle. He was shot through the
lungs and for several days it looked very serious for Mr.
Roenigk. It seems very much like he was on the road to
the New Jerusalem, but he rallied, got well and is still
hale and hearty, and has just completed a trip around the
world, which included the Old Jerusalem. He, together
with the others that were wounded, was taken to the gov-


ernment hospital at Ft. Harker. Here he saw the Schmutz
boy after he was brought there for treatment.

Indian Outrages of 1868.

In the early summer of 1868 three women by the names
of Bacon, Foster and Shaw were take prisoners on Bacon
creek about seven or eight miles northwest of Denmark.
They were sadly mistreated by the Indians. Some author-
ities have it that they were kept prisoners for a week and
then released; others say that they were let go the
next day, anyway none of them were killed. When found
they were more dead than alive but for the reason they
were not killed, their names do not appear on the Pioneer
monument. Mrs. Alderdice was both captured and killed
and Mrs. Weichell was captured and very badly wounded,
therefore they are represented on the monument.

About the same time of that year 1868 the Indians did
some killing around Beloit in Mitchell county, and took
two little girls prisoners and carried them over here on
the Saline river. They were about five and seven years old,
and were worn out from hanging on the bare backs of the
Indian ponies. For that reason, or perhaps for other rea-
sons, they were dropped on the edge of the bluffs northwest
of Lincoln Center. The little girls evidently thought that
the Saline river was the Solomon, and that they were not
far from home. They went down to the river and found
an abandoned log house; here they were for two days
without food. Ferdinand Erhardt and Martin Hendrick-
son were out on a scouting tour and happened to see one
of the little girls with a red shawl on her head. They
first thought that it was an Indian, so they drew their re-
volvers and advanced, but they soon found that instead of
Indians they were two little white girls. The first thing
they asked for was bread as they had not had anything to
eat for two days. The girls were picked up and carried
to the home of Mr. Hendrickson, and there they were
cared for until their parents in Beloit could be notified of
their whereabouts. The father, Mr. Bell came over from
Beloit to Mr. Hendrickson 's and took his daughters home.
The soldiers did not rescue those ffirls; in fact the soldiers


did not see them, yet the good people over in Mitchell
county have it that the soldiers did the rescuing-. 1 siaiply
desire to correct the statement as it is seemingly incorrect.

General Sully by his presence did some good work here
that summer, in preventing Indian depredations, but that
is about all that the United States soldi«^rs did here.
Lack of Military Protection.

There are said to have been four stockades or camps in
what is now Lincoln county, built by the federal or state
governments for the protection of soldiers and settlers. One
was at or near the Schermerhorn ranch; one near what is
now Lincoln Center; one on Spillman creek, located about
where Fred Sheldon's house now stands. But the most
prominent of these camps was the one located at the junc-
tion of Spillman and Bacon creeks,on the northwest quarter
of the southeast quarter of section 8, township 11, range 9,
in what is now Grant township and is owned at the present
time by Lars P. Larson. This was built more like a fort
than any of the others and consisted of a two story log
house, as near as I can find 24x24 feet, a large stockade
for the horses, and a mess built of rock for cooking pur-
poses. The remains of the mess building are still visible
and can be easily traced but the stockade and the log house
were burned by a prairie fire a few years after their erec-
tion. It is at this place that J. J. Peate, of Beverly, be-
gan his service as a government scout. It has been sug-
gested that the place be suitably marked with a substan-
tial stone, and the author of this book is willing to donate
the stone for this purpose, the only cost will be for the
lettering. It is asserted that soldiers were stationed at
these points at that time for the protection of the few set.
tiers who were then here. It is further stated in Miss
Barr's History of Lincoln County that there were no
soldiers here on May 30, 1869. This seems to be a serious
mistake, as Ferdinand Erhardt is positive that soldiers
camped on his place between May 30th. and 31st., 1869,
and Eli Ziegler is equally positive that he requested the
captain to give him a horse, and he would lead them to
where the Indians were, but the officer declined to move,
stating that he had sent a courier to Fort Marker to get


permission from iieadquarters to give battle to the
Indians. Furthermore that officer had information on the
morning of the 31st, or the next morning after the mas-
sacre, from three different parties of what had happened
the day before. The three parties who brought informa-
tion were Mrs. Kine, the Christiansen brothers, and Eli
Ziegler. By consulting the map it will reveal tbe fact
that the Indians and the soldiers camped within less than
a mile apart. It looks like the case of the lion and the
lamb sleeping together that night, and neither of them
getting hurt. In all the documents and records that I
have presented in this book, I fail to find where the
soldiers did any protective work. General Custer and
General Forsythe are the only ones who made the Indians
come to time in this part of Kansas. The scouts in the
Saline valley and the settlers were the ones who were
always ready to turn out and give battle.

Ferdinand Erhardt and Martin Hendrickson were neither
scouts nor soldiers, yet they were always there if any-
thing was doing. The regular scouts from the Saline
valley were: J. J. Peate, Chalmers Smith and E. E.
Johnson. These three may be put down as commanders of
the volunteers. D. C. Skinner, Fletcher Vilott, Lewis
Farley and his son Hutchinson, Thomas Alderdice, Thomas
Boyle, Eli Ziegler, George Green, John Lyden, and John
Haley. Those men were all in what is now Lincoln
county. George W. Culver, Frank Herrington, Howard
Morton, H. H. Tucker, G. B. Clark, A. J. Eutsler, E. G.
Tozier, William Stubbs, and J. E. Green, were mostly
from Ottawa county. These men and a score of others
less conspicious were the heroes of the Saline valley at
that time. They did not do their fighting for money or
glory; they fought for Betsy and the baby, and I am will-
ing to predict that a monument will be erected here some
day in memory of their bravery.

The letter that opened this book, written by Robert
Moffitt, to his sister in 1864, and the letter written by Eli
Ziegler, show positive proof that the pioneers were thrown
ou their own resources. If they got through with their
lives they were lucky; if they were killed, they had to


bury themselves; if they were taken prisoners or crippled
for life, they had to get along as best they could. There
was no government aid extended. If they lost all they
had, they would sometimes get a little money out of it
after they had gone through a lot of red tape and long
delay. Therefore the pioneer monument on the Lincoln
county court house square is a fitting recognition from
the present generation to future generations, of the hard-
ships the pioneers had to endure in order that we of the
present time may live here in safety. What happened in
Lincoln county in pioneer days has happened all over the
United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Our coun-
try has been one great battle field between whites and In-
dians and whites against whites.

Character of Those Killed

The settlers who were killed herein 1864 and 1869, were
fifteen in number, and mostly foreigners, hence innocent
parties as far as doing harm or provoking the Indians was
concerned. There were among them five children ranging
in age from a few months to fourteen years. There were
five foreigners who had not been here in the state more
than from three months to two years. Lauritzen and wife,
and Otto Petersen, those three came from northern Ger-
many, from that strip of land ceded from Denmark to Ger-
many in 1865. They were born Danes and emigrated to
escape being German soldiers. Their birth place was in
the neighborhood of Haderslev. MeigerhoffandWeichell
came from Switzerland. The Moffitt brothers were born
in Ireland, but came to the United States as young child-
ren, so they may be classed as Americans. So we find
that there were five Americans, five foreigners, and five
children killed by the Indians.

As near as I can ascertain Lauritzen and his wife were
farmers from the old country; Otto Petersen was a jewler,
and is said to have had a good deal of small jewelery with
him; the Christiansen brothers had been blacksmiths all of
their lives, so it is readily understood that they were not
so very well fitted to fight all of the battle incident to sub-
duing the wilderness. Weichell and his wife were evident-
ly of a class of people higher up in the social world of


Europe. They had not only plenty of money and the finest
of garments, but they had a lot of co - tly pictures, the like
of which the common people in Europe have not. Mr.
Weichell was evidently trained for agriculture or he would
not have examined the subsoil so particularly as stated be-
fore. Meigerhoff as near as I can find it was here with
Weichell in the capacity of a scientific farmer and servant;
or perhaps in the capacity of a good friend from the old
country, but he is supposed to have been rather poor finan-
ciall3^ The old settlers never could understand why a
man of wealth and refinement should go so far west. The
chances are that Mr. Weichell meant to have become a
second Lord ScuHy if he had been spared. It is however
a question why Mrs. Weichell after she was cured did not
return to her native land, as she had plenty to take her
there. There are very many questions from that time
that neither records nor traditions can clearly solve.

The Weichells were reported to have had $1,500 in gold
which was supposed to have been stolen by the Indians.
The solders found a little over half of this amount among
the Indians and turned it over to Mrs. Weichell. She
was also said to be the proud possessor of twenty-four silk
dresses. Mrs. Weichell has visited some of the old settlers
here a few times since this trouble occurred. She again
married, and is supposed to live on a farm in eastern Kan-
sas. She is at the present time negotiating with the old
settlers around Salina for evidence through which to se-
cure damages from the government for losses sustained
at that time.

The letters and other reports in regard to the character
of the Moffitt brothers will show that they were here to
make a home, and that they were industrious, and of a
good, gentle disposition. They have one sister now living
in Philadelphia, and in her letter in my possession she
says that the boys were agreeable and tender hearted; more
like girls in their choice of play, no rough and tumble
play for them. The letter which opened this book seems
to indicate that such was their character until they met
their death. Of Houston and Tyler nothing good nor any-
thing bad is known; as they were only visitors here at the


time of their death. So my judgment would be that
they were good citizens.

Watermellons in "Cold Storage."

There were a good many funny things that happened
during those days to mix up with the more serious things.
While it is t.ot the purpose of this little book to have
much of anything in it except what concerns the pioneer
monument or the victims that it represents, yet there are
a good many things which the survivors did do at that
time that will throw a little light on the way of living, in
this, at that time barren country. Here is one as told by
Waldo Hancock of Beverly. He was a member of the
state malitia and was stationed at a camp a little southwest
of Lincoln, on the southeast quarter of section one, near
the present mill site. Some one had plant'^d a good size
water melon patch and had dug a lot of post holes. They
were no doubt planning to build a fence. The malitia
boys went after the water melons before they were ripe,
and got nothing out of them. Mr. Hancock saw what
was going on and determined to save some of them if
possible so he slipped off to the patch and gathered as
many melons as were full grown; but not ripe, (there were
none ripe) and put as many as he could get into each post
hole and covered them with fine earth sealing th^m up for
good; sometime after this some of the boys expressed the
desire for a good water melon and Mr. Hancock told them
that he could get for them what they wanted and he took
them down to the patch. Of course there were no melons
on the vines but Hancock was equal to the occasion; he
dug down into one of his "cold storage" plants and pro-
duced as fine a water melon as they had ever eaten. This
was evidently the first cold storage plant in Lincoln
county and Waldo Hancock of Beverly was the originator
of it.

Hardships of Pioneering.

I have all names and dates accurate, and I am sure that
I have the character of each individual correct, and every
place where everything happened is truly laid out on the
map, so there is only one more thing to point out that


made pioneer life hard for an average of twenty-five years
if they were fortunate enough to escape being killed.
They had to contend with floods and droughts, hot winds
and blizzards, cyclones and windstorms, grasshoppers and
chmchbugs; two or three well devloped panics also oc-
curred during that time; when a man had money in the
bank he could not get it; all of these things helped to make
pioneer life the next thing to a burden and also to retard
a more rapid development of the country. When a crop
was good it generally brought nothing. Eggs were from
three to six cents per dozen; butter five or six cents a
pound; corn from eight to eleven cents per bushel; wheat
not worth more than the hauling; fat hogs two and one
half per pound; and cattle and horses in proportion. But
this is not the worst of it all. As late as 1876 sugar sold
in Lincoln Center at eighteen cents per p'^und; coffee
from forty to fifty; tolbacco eighty cents; boots, shoes and
clothing were entirely in proportion to these prices, so it
is the next thing to a miracle that the pioneers lived through
it. A good many left as it was to much hardship for

In 1874 when the grasshoppers cleaned out the country
and the panic cleaned out the banks, the government and
the eastern people tried to aid and give us some sort of
relief in our distress; the eastern people sent mostly food
stuff; the government mostly clothing, which was all
discarded soldiers uniforms. In 1875 when a stranger
came here he would easily have considered everybody a
soldier as all were dressed in uniform. When the Indians
did the killing that was the period when we were bleeding;
when the grasshoppers cleaned us out, that was the time
when we were needing; when we erected by free gifts a
monument in memory of all of these hard trials, that was
the time when we were leading. Hence the monument
stands for bleeding, needing and leading.

Making a Home of a Homestead.

I have been asked the question how long it would take
a man to build up a fairly good comfortable home from a
homestead. My answer is every time from twenty five
to thirty years; and it had to be accomplished by hard


stead^^ work and rigid economy. A very few arrived with
a good deal of money, but they were not so well fixed in
the long run as the fellow who was obliged to borrow a
part of the money required to file on his homestead, as it
required a sum of fourteen dollars to homestead, and I
know of a few who did not have that much money. The
rich man's trouble was that he had the cash and tried
to push ahead. He w^ould hire to get crops in, that in
most instances were utter failures; so he constantly spent;
while the poor man hired out to him, and thus earned his
living, making his own little improvements and planting
his own patches with his own hands, and if he lost his
crops, he was out nothing but his labor.

None of the surrounding counties have lost so many
from Indian depredations as has Lincoln county, and that
is what induced me to begin agitating the erection of the
pioneer monument and place it on the court house square.

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Online LibraryChristian BernhardtIndian raids in Lincoln County, Kansas, 1864 and 1869; story of those killed, with a history of the monument erected to their memory in Lincoln court house square, May 30, 1909 → online text (page 4 of 6)