Molyneux St. John.

The sea of mountains; an account of Lord Dufferin's tour through British Columbia in 1876 (Volume 1) online

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work and take careful observations with
these infernal mosquitoes buzzing around
them ; can't you do anything to get rid of
them, Mr. Lennon ?"

" Wai, Sir, we can't do anything here ;
we have to put up with them. Perhaps if
you were to hoist the British Ensign you
spoke of a while ago that might scare
'em; I don't know nothing else they'd
give a cent for."

The talk about the Indians, short as it
was, attracted the attention of several of
our fellow-travellers. There was one lady
who yawned steadily once in three minutes

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all the way from Detroit to Chicago, and
whose sleepiness had really been more
irritating than words can describe, but
who was temporarily roused by the ques-
tion of Indians. She listenened attentively
while the possibility of their appearing on
the plains was hinted, but when the safety
of the journey was demonstrated she re-
lapsed into the corner of her section and
yawned as if she would have eaten us.

Their Excellencies leave here to-morrow
morning at ten o'clock, by the Burlington
and Quincy route, and will arrive at
Omaha on the following morning (Thurs-
day) at the same hour. There are three
trains daily from Chicago to Omaha, by as
many different routes, and all arrive at
Council Bluffs about the same time
twenty-four hours after they start. From
Omaha west there is only one train a day,
but the Governor-General's party will not
connect at Omaha, but will remain over
for next day's train. It is not very
probable, I think, that His Excellency


will diverge at Ogden to visit Salt Lake
City, at least on the journey west, though he
may perhaps do so on the homeward trip,
because it is necessary now to push on to
catch the mail-steamer at San Francisco.
Possibly, however, when San Francisco is
reached, the plans, as they effect the
" doing" of British Columbia and Cali-
fornia, may be changed. On the return
journey Lord Dufferin will take a different
route through the States, and will probably
strike Philadephia on his way.



Stay in Chicago Journey from Chicago to Omaha
Appearance of the Country Immense Crops of In-
dian Corn Stock-raising The Tide of Immigration
Omaha Presidential Campaign The Indian Ques-
tion- The Sioux Spotted Tail and Sitting Bull
A modest " Nobleman" A False Position.

THE Governor-General's stay in Chicago
was a very short one. He arrived
on Tuesday evening and left on Wednes-
day morning, and as hardly anyone knew
of his coming he was enabled to keep as
quiet as he desired. Some few personal
friends came down to the station to see
him off, and the motley gathering that
is always to be found at a railway station
at the departure of a trans-continental
train " took stock" of the party and made


their critical but by no means uncompli-
mentary remarks upon their Excellencies
and their general entourage.

On his last trip, Lord Dufferin travelled
more or less in his official character, but
his present journey, so far as it is through
the States, is of a less formal nature, and
he is enabled to observe at his ease the
people amongst whom his course may
lie. He takes advantage of this, and talks
to anyone that the fancy of the moment
may prompt. I saw him closely examin-
ing a little fruit-stand at Council Bluffs,
where pennyworths of blue plums were
piled in inviting pyramids, and I think
that if he had not been called away to get
into the train he would have bought a
pyramid, which he would at once have
shared with the first acquaintance he met.

The journey from Chicago to Omaha
was as pleasant as that from Detroit to
Chicago had been the reverse, and we
were able to examine and appreciate the
agricultural beauties of Illinois and Iowa.


The Burlington and Quincy Road by
which Lord Dufferin travelled passes
through that part of Illinois which is mo~e
especially devoted to stock, particularly
hog-raising, and in consequence the greater
part of the crop is Indian corn. The
country thereabouts is in some parts very
flat, and in others a rolling prairie if
cultivated land may still be spoken of as
prairie and the fields are very large.
Looking out from the cars you can see
large tracts without seeing a fence at all,
and though, doubtless, some fencing is
hidden by the waving corn, the size of the
fields is beyond what we are accustomed
to in Canada.

I was much reminded of portions of
Lancashire by the country west of Chicago,
and a gentleman from Lancashire who was
travelling in the train said he noticed
the same thing. The farmers here are
not so bountifully supplied with wood as
those in Canada, but it is open to ques-
tion whether there is not a superabundance


of those hideous snake fences in six out
of every ten farms in Ontario. The
Illinois farmers do not indulge in the sport
of fox-hunting. If they did they have a
country which, of all I have ever seen, is
second only to the shires in England.
But passing out of Illinois into Iowa,
which is done by crossing the Mississippi
at Burlington a prettily situated and
growing city on the west bank of the
river, which is spanned by a handsome
iron suspension bridge one finds that
the crops are still more exclusively of
Indian corn, and still more luxuriant than
those of Illinois. In some parts of this
State, and particularly in the valley of
the Missouri south of the Bluffs, which,
pierced by the river, sweep round Bur-
lington and vanish off in the distance of
Nebraska, one saw such fields of Indian
corn as it would probably be difficult to
match elsewhere.

Even from the platform of the car one
could see only the upper parts of the


cottages, schoolhouses, and other build-
ings that here and there stood out white
and glittering in this immense vista of
green. An Iowa man told me, in answer
to my question, that the farmers in this
part did not ship much grain east, as they
found it more profitable to turn it into
stock. I was told of a farmer in the
western part of Illinois a Canadian, I
believe who grew one field of twenty
thousand acres of Indian corn, and did
not gather a single head or stock of it,
but turned his cattle and pigs in as the
most profitable way of using the crop.
No one can fail to be pleased with this
region of country, and the reason why I
speak of it is because I believe we have,
in its own way, as good a country of our
own. The word " prairie" is stamped on
Western Illinois and Iowa. In every little
gulch, in every roll of the prairie, in every
distant copse of poplar, you see our own
North-west dressed in the varied garb of
civilization and cultivation. It is as easy,


in imagination, to unrobe Iowa and restore
its pristine covering as it is to clothe
Manitoba and its surroundings with the
crops and homesteads that follow one an-
other in unbroken succession on these not
long reclaimed southern prairies. But
the circumstances are not, of course, the
same. The tide of immigration flows here
along three lines of railroad ; it dribbles
into Manitoba along one tortuous river.
But the North-west will not long be with-
out its railway and he is a wondrously
short-sighted patriot who throws diffi-
culties in the way of its construction and
as we know that its crops are excelled by
those of no other country, those who
have waited hopefully and patiently for
its proper development will be able to
say to the thousands of Englishmen and
Canadians who are spreading along the
line of the Union Pacific Railway :

"We, too, have a country which was
once beautiful, even in its solitude and de-
solation, and which now blossoms like the


rose; we too have a home to offer the
West-seeking wanderer, where plenty and
comfort reward the man who will work
to secure it; our ridges are speckled
with herds, and our valleys yellow with
grain ; we have secured comfort and in-
dependence for our families, education for
our children, the services of our religion,
and we enjoy it all protected by the flag
under which ourselves and our fathers
before us have lived in safety, and in the
exercise of self-government. Come ye also
who westward would take your way, and
who are still proud of your name and na-
tionality, for that which you have envied
in other lands is offered to you in your

Omaha, which once possessed the un-
enviable distinction of being the most
rowdy town in the United States, and
which was the chief of those places that
acquired the startling sobriquet of "Hell
upon Wheels," is now a pleasant little
city of some twenty thousand inhabitants,


more or less, and with an evident deter-
mination to grow. The Americans, as
they go westward, have a way of carry-
ing their civilization with them, so that a
traveller lodged in a sumptuous hotel
with street-cars running before the door,
and handsome brick stores opposite his
window finds it difficult for the moment
to realize the fact that he is out half-way
across the continent. There are three
newspapers in Omaha which, of course,
accounts for its general excellence; and
another necessarily potent cause some
of its principal business men are Canadians.
But the Omaha of to-day is a very different
place from that which made its name a
synonym for an itinerant Inferno. It is
a quiet place, where men do their business
in a steady unobtrusive manner, and in
which the general lounging public have
long ceased to shoot one another to give
tone and brightness to the various social
gatherings in the city.

They are commencing here to inaugurate


their Presidential campaign, and the first
meeting of the Democrats is now being
held. We were told that any or all of
the Canadian travelling party would be
welcome, and some of us went, but were
driven out by the heat and general at-
mosphere of the corner into which we had
squeezed. We learnt, however, while
there that the United States had been
brought to the brink of ruin by the Re-
publican party, and that unless the people
immediately put the other side into power
there was no telling what might happen,
It appears that in Omaha each party con-
fines the attendance at these meetings to
their own friends, and when I asked the
editor of one of the newspapers whether it
would not be more lively and interesting
if they invited some of their opponents to
attend and reply, he said that " he guessed
they would soon get so lively that they'd
lose track of themselves altogether."

But the topic of most interest here at
present is the Indian question. They do


not appear to regard the defeat of Crook
and Ouster as mere accidents that cannot
be repeated. In discussing the subject
with one of the leading men here, he
spoke of the Sioux as an intelligent and
daring enemy whom it was folly to under-
rate. He said that Spotted Tail, a chief
who not long ago gave much trouble, but
who is now a peaceful resident on a re-
servation, and a friend of the whites, is
one of the most able men, red or white, in
the United States, and he seemed to think
that Sitting Bill ranked high in the same
category. Spotted Tail's conversion was
worked by his observation of the white
men during his visit to the Eastern States.
On his return from Washington he said
that it was now clear to him that if he
wished to live the Indian must work, and
he at once set an example himself. Sitting
Bull has not been to Washington, and the
stories of the white man's power told by
those Indians who have visited the East
are always discredited on the plains, and


the narrators are accused of having been
bought to mislead their brethren.

News of the next engagement is very
anxiously expected here, because in the
event of a defeat of the American troops,
it is thought possible that the Sioux may
strike down to the south of the Black
Hills. The out-lying districts would then
be in considerable danger. If the ex-
pressions used really indicate the senti-
ments of the several speakers, there is
much less revengeful animosity felt towards
the Sioux than one might have expected
to find. There is unwavering hostility and
a determination to bring them into sub-
jection, but the offence which causes this
is quite as much the breaking away from
reservations as the fact of achieving vic-
tory in a battle. " Stay on your reserva-
tion, or we will kill you," sums up the
message which would interpret the various
denunciations and explanations I have as
yet heard. Probably as one goes further
west, and strikes the cities, Sidney,


Cheyenne, Laramie, and others, from which
Black Hills expeditions have been fitted
out, the feelings of the people may be of
a more angry sort.

A Canadian of Omaha called to-day to
say that the Canadian residents of the
city, to the number of forty, desired to
present an address to the Governor-
General. Lord Dufferin was out at the
time, but the address is to be presented
to-morrow morning before the departure
for Ogden. It will take place, however,
after the closing of the mail, so that I
must defer sending a copy of the docu-
ment until my next letter is written. We
heard that the gentleman of whom I spoke
in ray last as having been mistaken by
your correspondent for the chief of Lord
Dufferin's servants, had been calling him-
self Lord Lovat in Canada, and that when
he found himself in the same train with
the Governor-General he informed the
conductor that he did not wish it to be
known that he was on the cars, and at



Chicago bis modesty induced him to
register himself under some less dis-
tinguished name. Speaking of this Lord
puts me in mind of the fact that an even-
ing paper here says that the Governor-
General of Canada and a party of English
noblemen are here on their road to British
Columbia. In this world we are not what
we are, but what we seem to be. Driving
from a railway station once in company
with two gentlemen of the American press,
at the time of Prince Arthur's visit to
Buffalo, the carriage turned into the
principal street, in which a number of
persons were waiting to see the Prince
alight. One of the American gentlemen
suddenly perceived the position he was in,
and called out, " Put up your note-books,
or they'll take us for newspaper reporters,"
whereupon we all shut up our books, and
tried to look as much like intimate friends
of the Prince as we could. Had it been
in Omaha we should have been all right,
but I don't think we duly impressed the
Buffalo people.



Lord and Lady Dufferin at Omaha Curious State-
ments The Sioux War Indian Agents The Sioux
Interpreter Adventure of Prussian Students Sale
of Sioux Curiosities Peculation of Indian Money
Sitting Bull Union Pacific Railway Scene at Omaha
Depot The Platte River Prairies and Plains Buf-
faloes and Grasshoppers Travelling through Ne-
braska The Prairie Dog,

~)EFORE leaving Omaha this morning,
U we were able to purchase the daily
newspapers, in which we learnt the favour-
able opinion the Omaha journalists had
formed of His Excellency and Lady
Dufferin. The Governor-General is de-
scribed as " a very dignified elegantly ap-
pearing gentleman, very intelligent and
well cultured. The Countess is a handsome
little thing, of a type of womanhood very
different from the American idea of feminine

D 2


royalty. While riding through the streets
yesterday she was the centre of all
attraction, her costume being of plain
brown silk, corded, and something in the
manner of the pull-back style." This
observation, so eminently correct, hardly
prepared us for the information that the
Govern or- General's salary is two hundred
and fifty thousand dollars a year, with
allowances for secretaries and servants,
" several of whom make more than the
President of the United States."

But the most startling statement is that
which explains the object of his visit to
British Columbia as being in a great
measure to ascertain " the real state of the
Sioux warfare, and whether his borders
are in danger of hostile invasion," as well
as to " hurry up the Pacific Railway."
The Sioux war, as I mentioned in my last,
is the most interesting topic on the line of
the Union Pacific Railway. The sub-
jugation of the Sioux is all in all to them.
Presidents may come and Presidents may


go, but Sioux raiding, like Tennyson's
" Brook," will go on for ever unless the
matter is dealt with in a systematic, satis-
factory, and business-like manner. I do
not mean that by this that the Sioux are to
be massacred, but it is clear that if the
vast fields to the north of the road are
ever to be settled upon, a very different
relationship with the Indians from that
now existing must be established. Almost
everyone with whom I spoke asked me
because it is a mystery to all how we get
on so well with our Indians, and when I
explained that Canada had inherited the
goodwill which had been established among
the Indians of the North-west by the
just dealings and friendly communion of
the Hudson Bay Company, and had taken
pains to care for the interests of the Indians
and to observe their treaty obligations, as
well as to establish the fact that the arm of
the law could be made to reach to the
extent of the Queen's Dominions, and
would deal with Indian and white man


alike, I asked, in my turn, why the United
States have so signally failed in establishing
a satisfactory understanding with the same
class of people within their borders. From
most sources I could get no more en-
lightening reply than, " Those rascally
Indian agents."

I knew that mere agents could not con-
tinue to work an iniquity about which the
press, and indeed the whole country, had
been thundering for years, and I found
out the Sioux interpreter at Omaha and
discussed the matter with him. He was a
good authority on the subject. Some nine
years ago a party of Prussian students had
come over to America to see the country.
In the course of their rambles they joined
a hunting party of Pawnees who were out
on the Nebraska prairies, and while camped
at a short distance north of what is now
the Union Pacific road, they were attacked
by a band of Sioux. During the fight
which ensued, and in which all but one of
the Pawnee party were killed, one of the


young students was knocked senseless off
his horse by a Sioux tomahawk. When
all the rest of the party had been scalped, a
Sioux warrior approached the young Ger-
man to perform the same operation upon
him, but finding that the prostrate pale-
face was still alive and was but a mere lad,
he spared the life of the youth and took
him home to hew wood and draw water.
The lad was then sixteen years of age, and
in the course of a year the Chief of the
band arrived at the conclusion that the
pale-faced stranger should now declare his
intentions touching naturalization amongst
the Sioux nation. He was given his
option whether or not he would become a
naturalized Sioux citizen, it having been
privately arranged amongst his friends
that if he declined he should be knocked
on the head forthwith. Fortunately for
himself he had obtained some inkling of
this contingency, and cheerfully accepted
the proffered honour, whereupon he was
presented with the daughter of a Sioux


gentleman of distinction called "Tame
Bear," and in the course of a short time
was made a happy father and the chief of
a small band.

When peace was made two years ago
between Spotted Tail and Mr. President
Grant, the young German returned to
civilization, bringing with him the half-
breed boy, which to use an expression of
the neighbourhood he had realized out of
the transaction, and from his knowledge
of the Sioux and their language was made
a Government interpreter. He showed
me a photograph of the lady who had
comforted him in captivity, but in answer
to my question which I asked as delicately
as possible, he said, in anything but an
uxorious tone, that he had left her with
her relations. He gave as his reason that
the white girls wouldn't like it ; but whether
he meant that the presence of the Sioux
chieftainess would interfere with his pro-
spects of further matrimonial happiness,
or that, however fitted to adorn a buffalo


hunter's lodge, the daughter of Tame
Bear was not calculated to mingle amicably
with Prussian or American ladies, I don't
know. He said that she had several times
expressed her desire and intention to join
him at Omaha, but that he would not
allow her. He very kindly volunteered to
show me the tomahawk wound on his
head a scar which certainly suggested a
very unpleasant rap and as a young ac-
quaintance had a short time previously
offered to show me his sore finger if I
would give him a candy, I took the prof-
fered view on the part of the interpreter as
an evidence of satisfaction with my visit.
Since his return from savage life, he has
very successfully carried on a business for
the sale of articles of Indian workmanship,
&c., and so great has been the demand
on the part of travellers for " Sioux
curiosities," that he was obliged to import
a number of Iroquois from Lachine to
manufacture them.

His statements and information being


reduced to their essence amount to about
this : That the Sioux have no confidence
in the ability of the United States' em-
ployes to be honest, and that he himself
disbelieved in their ever conquering this
failing. The agents stole wholesale ; the
agents' superior officers were interested in
the peculation, and the obliquity of moral
vision ascended to the highest realms of
official life. They were all in the ring
from the highest down, the interpreter
being the only person who " got no chance
to steal." I thought of asking whether
the interpreter's honesty was the result of
this untoward inability to join the ring,
but refrained, lest he should think the
question a personal one. On one occasion
a sum of six hundred thousand dollars, he
said, was accruing to certain bands of
Indians, one-half to be paid in cash, the
other in goods; but the amount that finally
filtered itself into the hands of the Indians
was one hundred thousand dollars. Sit-
ting Bull, who is now giving so much


trouble, and who is likely to cost, before
his people are subjugated, much blood
and more money, offered to come to terms
with the United States Government pro-
vided he were allowed to go to Washing-
ton during the session of Congress to
receive the money without the interposi-
tion of Government employes. He said
that when so many of them were gathered
together, there would be less chance of any
one of them stealing the Indian money.

The Union Pacific Railway commences
its westward course at Omaha. You
feel there that you really are a passenger
for California. You have felt before, on
being told to " Change here for Yankton,
Sioux City," that you were in a western
atmosphere ; but it is not until you see
the Omaha depot and the California train
that the sentiment of being an across-the-
continenter is thoroughly experienced. I
never saw such a busy station of its size,
or one better managed. Along the plat-


form stretches like an enormous serpent
the San Francisco train. It appears, at
first sight, to be composed exclusively of
Pullman cars, though there is found on
closer inspection a few which are not.
The platform, and the large rooms off it,
are filled with people ; some checking
their baggage, which they will not again
touch until they see the blue waters of the
Pacific, others buying their tickets and
unnecessarily exerting themselves about
their sleeping berths, and a crowd in pre-
sent thirst and with prospective hunger
pressing round the counters of a refresh-
ment-room to seize upon tumblers of
curiously compounded beverages, and to
fill baskets with provisions and pickles for
their life on board the cars ; and the
quantity of pickles that is purchased here
is astonishing. The transcontinental tra-
veller, is a whale at pickles.

At the Omaha depot the directions to
travellers are conspicuously posted in five
languages English, French, Spanish, Ger-

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Online LibraryMolyneux St. JohnThe sea of mountains; an account of Lord Dufferin's tour through British Columbia in 1876 (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 13)