Henry T Williams.

Pacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads online

. (page 10 of 62)
Online LibraryHenry T WilliamsPacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads → online text (page 10 of 62)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

about a month, the command returned to the
Republican, where it met a supply train, which
had been sent out from Fort McPherson, and
then proceeded up the valley. On arriving at
the mouth of Medicine Creek, they struck the
trail of a large village. This was on the first
day of July, and they continued to follow it up
the river for about one hundred and twenty-five
miles. The trail then left the valley, and bore
off to the North, until it struck Frenchman
Creek, then up that creek to its source, and then
over a divide to Summit Springs, about thirty-
five miles from the headwaters of the Frenchman.
The Indians of this village kept pickets out as a
sort of a rear-guard, but did not think of an at-
tack from another quarter. The Pawnee scouts
were constantly in the advance, and kept the
command well informed of the condition and dis-
position of the Indians. They had discovered
the rear-guard of the Indians, without being
themselves seen, reporting their situation, and
telling just how the attack should be conducted,
in order to be successful. A wide detour would
have to be made, and the Indian village, en-
camped in a ravine near the springs, would have
to be approached and attacked from the west.
Every precaution was taken to conceal the move-
ments of the troops. The attack was made on the
llth day of July. The heavy wagon train was left
in the rear, and the best horses with their riders,
were selected for the march, which was supposed
to be, with the detour mentioned, at least fifty
miles. The command arrived within about a
mile and a half of the Indians undiscovered, at


about three o'clock, p. M., but before the disposi-
tions and arrangements for making the final
charge had been fully completed, one company of
cavalry unnecessarily exposed itself, and this pre-
cipitated the attack. The Indians were Sioux,
forty lodges, Cheyennes, forty-five lodges eighty-
five in all. They had been in the raids together,
and were to separate the next day. They had
evidently concluded to take one day at these
splendid Springs, for the enjoyment of their fare-
well pow-wow, but it proved to be a " bad medi-
cine day " for them. When they saw the com-
pany of cavalry that had unfortunately been
exposed to their view, they ran out to gather in
their horses, which were quietly feeding in the

the chief. He was seen, as the troops approached,
mounted upon his horse, with his wife and child
behind him, trying to escape, but when he found
his retreat cut off, he ran into a " pocket " or
" draw," in the side of a ravine, with almost per-
pendicular sides, where some fifteen other war-
riors had taken refuge. He had a very fine horse,
which he led to the mouth of this " pocket " and
shot dead. He then took his wife and child and
pushed them up on the bank of the "pocket,"
telling her, as lie did this, to go and give them-
selves up, perhaps their lives would be spared.
The squaw and her child, a beautiful girl, went
straight to Major Xorth, and raising her hands
in token of submission, drew them gently over


vicinity of their camp, a mile or more away.
There was no time for delay. The troops and
scouts charged down upon them with all their
speed. The scouts, as usual, set up their infernal
war-whoop, and went in with a rush. The In-
dians were wholly unprepared for the attack, and
some of them were quietly lounging in their
tents. In fact it was nearly a complete surprise.
They were all under the lead of Tall Bull, a noted
Cheyenne chief and warrior, and numbered about
five hundred men, women and children nearly
or quite two hundred being warriors. Seventeen
si|iiaws and children were taken prisoners, and
as near as could be estimated, one hundred and
sixty warriors were slain, among them Tall Bull,

his face and down his form to the ground, where
she sank upon her knees, her child standing be-
side her. While Major North can talk Pawnee
like a native, he could not understand what she
said, but as all Indians use sign language to a
great extent, he readily interpreted her motions
to mean that she surrendered, and wanted him to
spare their lives. He motioned her to rise, \\hich
she did, and told her by signs to go a little way.
sit down and stay there, and she \\.uilil not l>e
harmed. She then, by signs, indicated that
there were seven living braves still in the
"pocket," and asked him to go in after them.
doubtless thinking that her husband might be
saved with herself. He declined this request,


especially as the Indians were shooting every one
they could see from their concealed position, it
being simply a question of life for life, and fur-
ther told her that the braves in the ravine would
all be killed. The troops and scouts staid
around this " pocket," until satisfied that there
were no living Indians there, and, on entering,
found sixteen dead warriors and one dead squaw,
lying close together, among whom was Tall Bull.
In their raids in the Solomon Valley, they had
captured two white women, whose lives they had
spared for purposes worse than death, and at the
time this attack was made, they were still alive.
One of them had been taken by the principal
Sioux chief, and the other was appropriated by
Tall Bull, whose wife, doubtless from motives of
ignorant jealousy, was accustomed to give her
severe whippings, at least six days out of every
seven, and her body showed the marks where she
had been repeatedly bruised and lacerated by
Tall Bull's squaw. The white woman who was
appropriated by the Sioux chief, when he found
she was likely to be rescued, was shot dead by
him, and only gasped for breath a few times af-
ter being found by some of the officers, unable to


utter a word. As near as could be learned, her
name was Susanna. It was afterwards ascer-
tained that she was a Xorwegian woman, and
General Carr, in his report of the battle, calls the
Springs, Susanna Springs, after this woman, and
near which she was decently buried, and which
name they ought to bear now.

When the charge was first begun, Captain
Gushing of the scouts, passing by the lodge of
Tall Bull, entered it. The chief, as before
stated, had fled with his wife and child at the
first approach of danger, but in his lodge there
remained the other captive woman, whom he
had shot and evidently left for dead. She /vas
a German woman, unable to speak English, and
up to this time, had supposed, from the presence
of the scouts, that the fight was between Indians,
and that whatever the result, there would be no
change for the better so far as she was concerned.
As the captain entered the lodge, he saw this
woman in a sitting posture, nearly denuded, with
the blood running down her waist. When the
chief left the tent, he had shot her in the side,
aiming at her heart, but the bullet struck a rib,
glanced, passed part way around her body, and
came out near the spine. As the fight had just
commenced, Captain Gushing told her by motions
and as best he could, to stay there and she would
be taken care of, but not comprehending his
meaning, and now, for the first time, realizing
that white men were engaged in the battle, she
thought, as he started to go, that she was to be
left, and with the most pitiful moan ever uttered
by human lips, she lifted her arms, clasped him
around his limbs, and in every possible way,
begged him not to leave her with the savages.
Others passing by, he called them in, and the
woman was partially made to understand that
she would be cared for. He disengaged himself
from her embrace, and after the fight had ended,
returned and took her to the surgeon, who saw
that her wounds were not fatal, that they were
properly dressed, and provided for her as best he
could on the return march to Fort Sedgwick, op-
posite where Julesburg now stands, where she
was placed in the hospital and soon recovered.
A few months later, having no home or friends
where she was taken captive, she was married to
a soldier, who was discharged by reason of expi-
ration of service. The troops and scouts cap-
tured in this fight, nearly six hundred head of
horses and mules, all the tents of the two tribes,
an immense quantity of buffalo meat and robes,
fifty guns of various kinds, with pistols, fancy
Indian head-dresses, trinkets, etc., and f 1,900 in
twenty-dollar gold pieces, which the Indians had
taken from this German woman's father at the
time she was captured. About $900 of this gold
was restored to the woman, and if the white sol-
diers had been as honest and generous as the
brave Pawnee scouts, when the appeal for its
restoration was made, every lost dollar would


have been returned. Of the $900, the scouts
gave up over $60J. The seventeen prisoners
taken, included Tall Bull's wife and child.
They were first carried to Fort Sedgwick, then
sent to Omaha, where they were kept under
guard for about six weeks, and then sent to the
Whetstone Agency, on the Missouri River above
Yankton. The widowed squaw married a Sioux
Indian at the Red Cloud Agency, where she is
now living.

Prairie Dogs. The little villages of prairie
dogs which are seen frequently by passengers
from the car windows, soon after leaving Sidney,
and line the track for many miles, are full of
curious features of animal life. Ladies clap
their hands, and children shout with glee at
sight of these cunning little creatures. It is a

Eretty little animal, curious in shape, always
it, grayish red color, about sixteen inches in
length, and always lives with a multitude of its
companions in villages. It has a short, yelp-
ing sound, which it is very fond of uttering, and
has some resemblance to the bark of a young
puppy. The curious mounds or burrows are of
considerable dimensions, dug in a sloping direc-
tion at an angle of forty-five degrees with the
surface of the ground. After descending two or
three yards they make a sudden turn upward,
and terminate in a spacious chamber.

In the same hole with the prairie dog is found
frequently the burrowing oivl, and often upon the
summits of their little burrows may be seen the
solemn owl on one side of the hole in stately
silence ; while on the other side is the lively
little prairie dog, squatted on the fattest part
with head bobbed up, and fore paws hanging
down, ready at the slightest noise to dart head-
first into his hole. In some of these holes rattle-
snakes have been found. What harmony or
congruity there can be in the lives of these three
diverse species of creatures to help form a happy
family, no one can give the reason, but all ac-
counts seem to agree that the stately owl and the
treacherous snake make their home with the
little dogs, to abuse the hospitality of their four-
footed friends by devouring their young.

The scene presented by one of these dog vil-
lages is very curious. The prairie dog is no less
inquisitive than timid. On the approach of an
intruder, the little creature gives a sharp yelp of
alarm, and dives into its burrow, its example
being at once followed by all its neighbors. For
an instant the village appears to be deserted;
but soon their curiosity gets the better of their
prudence, and their inquisitive little noses are
seen protruding from their burrows, to ascertain
the cause of the alarm, a curiosity which often
costs them dear. The prairie dog is remarkably
tenacious of life, and unless shot in the head is
sure to escape into its hole. The writer has
often seen attempts to shoot them from the train
as it passes. Away scampers the little dog,

stomach so full that it touches the ground, while
little feet pulled for dear life for its own hole,
and by its side or under it traveled the livelier
bullet, each tearing up a stream of dust quicker
than the eye can follow. Attempts have been
made to tame them as pets, but they rarely ever
live long, and have too apt a way of biting off
fingers. They live only on the roots of grasses,
not being flesh eaters.

Burton, an early traveler across the continent
in 1861, was immensely interested in his exami-
nation of a prairie dog village. The Indians call
them " W ' ish-ion-wish" from some slight resem-
blance to this cry.

" Wish-ton-wish " was at home, sitting posted
like a sentinel upon the roof, and sunning him-
self in the mid-day glow. It is not easy to shoot
him ; he is out of doors all day, but timid and
alert ; at the least suspicion of danger he plunges
with a jerking of the tail, and a somersault
quicker than a shy young rabbit, into the nearest
hole, peeping from the ground, and keeping up a
feeble little cry, (wish-ton-wish !) more like the
notes of a bird than a bark. If not killed out-
right, he will manage to wiggle into his home.
The villages are generally on the brow of a hill,
near a creek or pond, thus securing water with-
out danger of drowning. The holes, which de-
scend in a spiral form, must be deep, and are
connected by long galleries, with sharp angles,
ascents and descents, to puzzle the pursuer. Lieu-
tenant Pike had 140 kettles of water poured
into one without dislodging the occupant. The
precincts of each village are always cleared of
grass, upon which the animals lire, as they rarely
venture half a mile from home. In the winter
time they stop the mouth of their burrows, and
construct a deeper cell, where they live till spring

The Indians and trappers eat the flesb, declar-
ing it to be fatter and better than that of the
squirrel. If the meat is exposed for a night or
two to the frost, all rankness will be corrected.
In the same hole are found rattlesnakes, the
white burrowing owl, tortoises and horned frogs,
the owl often gratifying his appetite by break-
ing open the skull of a young dog, with a smart
stroke of his beak."

Hiff, me Late Cattle King oftJie Plains,

Had a range 150 miles long, a herd of 26,000
head, and was called the Great Cattle King of the
plains, and had the " boss ranche" of this western
country. This ranche is in northern Colorado. It
begins at Julesburg, on the Union Pacific Rail-
road, and extends to Greeley, ir>(i miles west. Its
southern boundary is the South 1'latte Kiver; its
northern, the divide, rocky and bluffy, just smith
of the Lodge Pole Creek. It has nearly the shape
of a right-angled triangle, the right angle being
at Greeley, the base line being the South Platte
River. The streams flowing through it are, first,


the river just named, Crow Creek, and other
small creeks and streams which take their rise
in living springs, in and near the bluffs of the
divide mentioned, and flow in a southerly direc-
tion into, the bouth Platte River. It includes
bottom and upland ranges, and has several
camps or ranches. The chief ranche is nearly
south of Sidney, and about forty miles from
Julesburg. At this ranche there are houses,
sheds, stables, and corrals, and more than two
sections of land fenced in. All the cattle
bought by the late Mr. Iliff were rebranded
and turned over to him at this place. Here
are the private stock yards, with corrals, chutes,
pens and all necessary conveniences for handling
cattle, it is near the river, and of course has
fine watering facilities, while from the adjoin-
ing bottom lands plenty of hay may be cut
for the use of the horses employed in herd-
ing. He cut no hay for his cattle ; they live
the entire year on the rich native grasses on
the range, and with the exception of a severe
winter, now and then, the percentage of loss is
not very great.

Mr. Iliff was a thorough cattle man, and from
his long experience had a perfect knowledge of
the business. He began in 1860, and during the
war had government contracts to fill, in New
Mexico and other frontier territories. He sup-
plied most of the beef to the contractors who
built the Union Pacific Railroad, and brought
immense herds of cattle from Texas and the
Indian Territory which were driven along the
line of the road to supply the army of laborers
with beef. He had be^n engaged in the stock
business in Kansas, New Mexico, and in Col-
orado, and thought that this location was admir-
ably adapted to it, if the sheep men would only
keep out. Cattle and sheep will not do well
on the same range together. Success in either
requires separation. Mr. Iliff purchased and
owned more than twenty thousand acres of
the range occupied which, of course, included
the choice springs and watering places within its

He had more than 40,000 head of cattle, of
all ages, sizes and conditions. The number
of calves branded on his ranche one year,
reached nearly 5,001) head, and his sales of
three and four-year-old steers and fat cows,
reached nearly the same number. He realized
about $32 per head, net, on these sales. At
this rate, 4,0 JO head would bring the snug little
sum of $128,000. To take care of this im-
mense herd, he employed from twelve to thirty-
five men very few, usually in the winter
months, and the largest number during the
' round ups " in the spring. During the ship-
ping season of 1875, he had twenty-four men
who were employed in cutting out of his herd
the four-year-old steers that were ready for
market, some fat three-year-olds, and such fat

cows as were no longer fit for breeding pur-
poses. While engaged in this work, the same
men gather the cows with unbranded calves,
which they put into the corrals near by, and
after the calves are branded they are turned
loose with the herd again. By the introduc-
tion of thorough-bred Durham bulls, his herd
was rapidly graded up. In addition to the
cattle raised on his ranche, he dealt largely in
Texas and Indian cattle, and advertised for
20,000 head of Texas cattle to be delivered on
his ranche during the driving months of 1876.
These cattle must be yearlings, two and three-
year-old steers, and for them he had to pay
$7. $11 and $15 per head, respectively. This is,
at least, 10 per cent, advance on the prices paid
for the same kind of cattle in 1875, and indi-
cates their growing scarcity in Texas. Oregon
and Montana cattle, are now beginning to come
East, and 50,000 head were driven down for the
season of 1878 to various points.

Mr. Iliff estimated the increase of cattle from
his home herd outside of purchases and sales
to be about 70 per cent, per year, and about
equally divided as to gender. He did not sepa-
rate his bulls from the herd, but allowed them to
remain with it the entire year. In this part of
his management, we believe he made a mistake,
as the percentage of increase would be much
larger if no calves were born during the severe
winter and spring months of each year. The
loss in calves at these times must be very great.
The shipping points for his ranche were at Pine
Bluffs and Julesburg, on the Union Pacific, and
at Deers' Trail on the Kansas Pacific. The
most of his cattle, however, were shipped over the
first-mentioned road.

Lest any one should come to the conclusion
that this business is all profit, and that the ex-
penses and losses do not amount to much, let us
further state that Mr. Iliff 's policy was to keep
his expenses as low as possible, havingthe keeping
and safety of his cattle constantly in view. In
1875, the expenses of herding, cutting hay for
horses, etc., amounted to less than $15,000. But
the loss 'S from thefts and death, some years, are
frightful. The winter of 1871-2 was very
severe. There were deep snows over his range
that remained on the ground a long time, and
the storms were incessant. In the midst of these
storms, Mr. Iliff visited the ranche, and found his
cattle literally dying by thousands. On the
islands in South Platte River, he found and
drove off into the sand-hills and bluffs on the
south side, after great exertion, some 2,700 head,
and of this number less than half were recovered.
Their bleaching bones now whiten the plains in
the vicinity where they were frozen ana starved
to death, and those finally recovered were found
in two different States and four different Terri-
tories in the Union. More than $20,000 wnv
expended in efforts to find them; nor was this


all. It was impossible to tell, for a number of
years, how great the loss had been. His books
showed more than 5,000 head unaccounted for.
No trace of them, beyond skeletons, could be
found. At last, in the spring of 1874, this num-
ber was charged to profit and loss account, and
the books balanced for a new start. Could they
have been sold the fall previous, they would
have averaged at least $18 per head, and at this
rate would'have amounted to f 90,000.

It will thus be seen that the cattle business is
not all profit ; that it is liable to losses the same
ness. Taking f
the years togeth-
er, with ordinary
care and judg- ^
ment, the busi- %
ness will pay j
large profits and jj
prove a desirable \
investment. We j
would not, how- fj
ever, advise |
every man to m
undertake it. It 1
is a business I
that must be j
learned, and to jji
succeed in i t J
men must have 1
experience, cap- j
ital, and a good g
range. Mr. Iliff
had all of these,
and hence met
with correspond-
ing success.
The 26,000
head he had,
he thought
on an aver-
age, were worth
$18 per head.
This rate would
place the capital
he has invested
in cattle at the
sum of 1168,000.
In addition to
this he has 160

but with care and good management we see no
reason why he should not, in nine cases out of
ten, win every time. Let the facts speak for
themselves. Ordinary men can't raise a half
million dollars, every day, for such an invest-
ment, and if they could command that amount,
very few would desire a stock ranche and the
cattle business.

Xtullwhackers. A ciirious character of over-
land life, when the plains were covered with
teams,' and long trains of freight-wagons, was the
bullwhacker. He is in size and shape usually of

very large pro-

portions ; very
strong, long, un-
kempt hair, and
face covered
with the stiffest
of beards. Eight
or ten yoke of
oxen were usu-
ally attached to
each wagon, and
often two wag-
onswere doubled
up ; i. e., the
tongue of the
second wagon
passed under the
body of the wag-
on just before it,
and then secure-
ly fastened. By
the side of his
wagon hang his
trusty axe and
ready rifle, and
on the tops of the
wagons were
f-pread the red
blankets used
for their cover at
night. Of the
bullwhacker, it
is said that his
oath and his whip
are both the
longest ever
known. The
handle of the
ordinary whip is
not more than

aud mules, worth at least $10,000, which are used,
principally, in herding, together with wagons,
horses, fences, corrals, sheds, stables, mowing-
machines, tools and implements, and the large
track of land before mentioned. Half a mil-
lion dollars is a low estimate to name as the sum
he had invested in this business, and yet from its
very nature he was liable to lose half of it in the
next year. Like other business ventures, if a
man goes into it, of course he takes the chances,

three feet in length, but the lah, which is of
braided rawhide, is seldom less than twenty feet
long. From the wooden handle, the lash swells
gradually out for about six feet, where it is nearly
ten inches in circumference (the point called the
" belly "); from here it tapers to within a foot of
the end, which terminates in the form of a rib-
bon-shaped thong. This is called by some face-
tiously a "persuader," and under its influence it
will make the ox-team progress at the magic


rate of twenty miles per day. The effect on a
refractory ox is quite forcible. The lazy ox occa-
sionally receives a reminder in the shape of a
whack in the flank, that causes him to double up
as if seared with a red-hot iron.

The bullwhacker is universally regarded as the
champion swearer of America. He is more pro-
fane than the mate of a Mississippi River packet,
and his own word is good to the effect that he
" kin drink more whisky" The writer who heard
this, says that " accompanying this statement
were some of the most astounding oaths that ever fell
on the ear."

General Sherman humorously tells a story in
defence of the extremely profane mule-driver
who kept his trains so well closed up during the
long march is of the army under his command. It
is to this effect : " One of the members of a
freighting firm in St. Louis desired to discourage
the continual blasphemy of the bullwhackers in
their employ. Orders were accordingly issued
to their train-masters to discharge any man that
should curse the cattle. The wagon-masters were

Online LibraryHenry T WilliamsPacific tourist : Adams and Bishop's illustrated trans-continental guide of travel, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean : a complete traveler's guide of the Union and Central Pacific railroads → online text (page 10 of 62)