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BY SARAH ELIZABETH HOWARD




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PEN PICTURES
of the PLAINS

BY

SARAH ELIZABETH HOWARD




DENVER

THE REED PUBLISHING COMPANY
1902



COPYRIGHTED IQ02
BY SARAH ELIZABETH HOWARD



TO THOSE WHO LEFT LOVED HOMES AND
FRIENDS IN SETTLED PORTIONS OF OUR
LAND, TO WIN NEW HOMES AND FRIENDS
UPON "THE GREAT AMERICAN DESERT/
THIS LITTLE BOOK IS DEDICATED BY
THE AUTHOR.



9154:24



THANKS ARE DUE TO "GOOD HOUSEKEEPING"
AND "SUNSHINE" FOR COURTESIES EXTEND
ED; ALSO FOR DATA GATHERED FROM "THE
UTE WAR."



CONTENTS



PAGE

A PRAIRIE IDYL

Introduction 1 1

The River 12

The Movers 13

Dreams 14

The New House 18

A Prairie Scene 20

The Home Making 21

The Wind Storm 24

A Visitor 25

The Dry, Dry Earth 36

Rattlesnakes 37

Irrigation 38

The Colony Fence 42

The Colony 42

Mid-Summer 46

Lost 49

The Fearful Night 52

Grief s Load 54

The Agency 57

The Indians 60

The Massacre 64

The Captives 66

Prairie Rovers 78

The Bronco Breakers 79

Wild Horses 82

Wild Horse Jerry s Story 84

The Blizzard 87

The Round- Up 99

In Later Times 103



THE YUCCA 109

PRAIRIE DOG TOWN no

THE MOUNTAIN STREAM 112

A MAY-TIME PICTURE 113

SONGS FOR THE MONTHS 117

LONG S PEAK 123

A SUNSET SCENE 124

A WINTER MORNING 125

VICTORY 126

THE MOUNTAINS SPEAK TO ME 127

TWILIGHT . 128



I LLU STRA TI ON S



ON THE CACHE LA POUDRE Frontispiece

Photo by Mrs. M. A. Bunker, Greeley

CRYSTAL SPRAY , . . 16

AMONG THE FARMS 24

Photo by F. E. Baker, Greeley

THE SNOWY RANGE 32

Photo by F. E. Baker

THE MEEKER HOME 40

Photo by Mrs. M. A. Bunker

PRAIRIE ROVERS 48

Photo by Mrs. M. A. Bunker

NATHAN C. MEEKER 56

Miss JOSEPHINE MEEKER 64

OURAY AND CHIPETA 72

A BUCKING BRONCO 80

Photo by W. G. Walker, Cheyenne

PUBLIC SCHOOL BUILDINGS 88

Photo by F. E. Baker

CHASING A STEER 96

Photo by W. G. Walker

MRS. ARVILLA D. MEEKER 104

Photo by E. S. Nettlelon



DIVERTING THE WATER FROM THE NORTH POUDRE. ... 112
SNOW SCENE IN MAY 120

Photo by F. E. Baker

DEEP IN THE HEART OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN WILDS. . . 126

Photo by Smith-Hassell Co., Denver



PEN PICTURES
OF THE PLAINS



12 P N PTCTURES OF THE PLAINS

Of dull, haid lines that never rise above
The commonplace.

THE RIVER

A still bright day in March.
The tiresome, noisy wind forgets to blow.
The sun, from out a sky of cloudless blue,
Pours Summer s warmth upon the prairies,

bare,
And brown, and dusty. Hushed and lifeless,

all
The scene. Gnarled trees outline the river s

course,
And stretch their naked branches high, as

though

Appealing to the smiling Heavens, for gift
Of verdure s grace, to hide their rugged forms.

The Cache la Poudre, now a shrunken stream,
Glides peacefully along, and murmurs low,
As placidly it winds through banks deep cut
By torrents rushing over sandy soil,



APRAIRIEIDYL 13

Or broadens out, to lave a pebbly shore.
The wild impetuosity is gone,
That freed it from its mountain home, and sent
It plunging, foaming down, exultant, wild,
Down, down, past boulders broad, that block

and fret,

But cannot hold ; down, down, the sides of hills
Rock-faced, through wooded vales, and on, and

on,

To gain the restful quiet of the plains,
Where it may almost pause at times, to note
The beauty of the azure sky, the sun s
Glad light, the fleeting clouds, the moon s mild

beams,

The stars that gem the midnight sky, and in
Its placid waters mirror them, in grand
And lovely pictures, framed by shadowy trees.

THE MOVERS

Along the road, that follows near the course
The river takes, or climbs the bluff to find
A shorter path, appears a wagon, wide



14 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

And long, and loaded well with household

goods ;

Two horses, broad of back and heavy limbed,
The wagon draw. A nest, of mattresses
And pillows piled, well planned for when the

load

Was built, make safe and full of ease the ride
For those who snuggle there, a laughing babe,
A prattling girl, a manly boy, and one
Who watches o er, as mothers do, the three
To her so dear ; and he, who holds above
The horses guiding lines, and cheers them on
In tones they understand, his look of proud
Content, his interest in all, proclaim
His ownership love-granted of the group.

DREAMS

The driver and his team, have traveled oft,
The road so long and wearisome ; but all
The way is new to her, who thinks to see
At every turn, or from each hill top gained,
The lone, new house, that is to be her home.



APRAIRIEIDYL 15

She backward looks. There lies the little town
Whose buildings, in the distance seem like toys
Upon a mammoth table spread; and there
She fancies that she still can see the one
That was her home, the while the house upon
The plains was being built.

Again she looks

Around. Upon the right, the left, above,
Below, there meets her unaccustomed sight,
The same monotony of earth and sky.
The cradled motion, and the drowsy air,
Have caused the little ones to sleep.
The weary mother veils her eyes to shield
Them from the glaring light, and gently, sleep
From her too, wins all consciousness of things
At hand. The prairie sights and sounds, no

more

She sees, or hears. And yet the active brain
Sleeps not; for dreaming, she beholds again
What in her waking hours she scarce dares trust
Herself to think about ; a spot most loved,
Most dear, her childhood s home unmindful

that



l6 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

The half of one vast continent is stretched
Between herself and it. She sees the low,
Wide spreading house, whose massive beams,

a hand,

Her father s hand hewed long ago from oaks
He felled to clear a spot where it might stand.
She plays again, beneath the giant trees
That like loved sentinels, were left to guard
The door ; whose sheltering branches interlaced,
And made a royal canopy above
The play-ground of her youth ; and whose

broad leaves

The sunlight and the moonlight made to dance
In shadows on her chamber floor. She sees
The windows, over which the roses climb ;
The garden walk, the flowers her mother loved
And tended. Then she sees that other home,
The one she entered when a bride, and where
Her little children came to her, and made
A happy life more blest and brighter still.
More plainly than aught else she sees, or seems
To see, the growing things; the grass that

clothes
With richest green, the little eminence




CRYSTAL SPRAY.

"Shall coax his treasures down the rocky sides
In dancing rivulets." Page 22.



. . . . . ...

:: v :V "i * .:



APRAIRIEIDYL 17

Where stands the low, old-fashioned house,

the old

Red house. The daisies nod, as if to say,
"Come, let us tell your fortune, as of yore."
The red, round blossoms of the clover, load
The air with fragrance, well remembered; and
The rich deep-colored buttercups sway back
And forth upon their slender stems, and tempt
Her once again to pluck their yellow blooms,
And try the old-time test, that tells "Who loves
The butter." More than all the rest, the trees
A welcome lend. The pines that shade the

drive

Upon the east, a gentle murmur, soft
And low, send forth. The elms and maples

from

The western side, their branches wave, until
Each blithesome leaf is dancing in the air.
The spire-like firs, that guard on either hand
The door, in sighing whispers, welcome her,
Whose gentle word forbade the cruel axe
To lay their beauty low. Above the door,
The jessamine hangs drooping, as of old.
Around the windows twine a living frame



l8 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

The woodbine, free to thrust its tendrils in
Each weather-beaten crack, and hold its place
With sturdy will. With joy, surprise, she

notes

The trumpet vine, her hand had planted ; what
A growth ! It spreads its glossy leaves upon
The* roof, and clustered blossoms crown it

there ;
Her hand she stretches forth to pluck one

flower,

So little mindful are we in our dreams
Of time and space and speedily, the scene
Is changed. The horses by the driver stopped,
Upon the summit stand of rising ground,
There halted that the better she may view
What lies before. The ceasing motion wakes
The sleeper, speeds the dream.

THE NEW HOUSE

"Look, Margaret!"

Her husband s voice she hears ; across her eyes
She lightly draws a hand to hide the tears,



APRAIRIEIDYL IQ

The smarting, blinding tears, that sprang unhid
When she awoke, and knew that she had

dreamed.

For Roland must not know, he must not guess
How much she misses trees, and flowers, and

grass,

For seldom does the prairie wear a robe
Of green, as bright, as lovely, as the fields
She used to roam, nor must he know how

much

She misses and desires to see the dear,
Familiar faces. Now he speaks again :
"Look, Margaret! There stands the house

the house
Where my dear wife shall make for me, a

home."

Across the prairie, scarce a mile away,
The new, unfinished house stood, all alone.
Much taller than it really was, it looked,
Because no other objects clustered near,
No trees, no buildings, only, half the way
Between the wagon and the house, there stood
A ranchman s settlement. A little house,



20 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

A barn and sheds, corrals, and ditches plowed,
Told that it must have been a home, a year
At least. Here lived a German family,
Newcomers there but still old settlers in
The West, since first the prairie schooners

trailed

At snail-like pace by goaded oxen drawn
Across the dreary, desert sea of sand.

A PRAIRIE SCENE

A pretty portion of the scene lay just
Below. A basin broad and deep, worn in
The prairie s undulating levelness
By rushing waters in the ages past ;
Down through its center, sang a silvery stream,
Meandering from right to left ; the grass
Sprang up on either side, and by its bright,
Delightful green, declared the distance that
Its searching roots had quenched their burning

thirst

As the cool waters rippled by. Adown
A steep decline, across the basin s floor,



APRAIRIEIDYL 21

Now hiding at the little ford, its path
As winding as the streamlet s way, the road
Gleamed white, until it disappeared upon
The farther bluff.

The beauty of the scene
A glance took in, its loneliness as well.
The western sun now flooded all with rays
Whose softened yellow light, betokened that
The day was nearly spent, and urged the need
Of haste. Again they journeyed on ; and all
The way was filled with plans, that when ma
tured,

Should make the prairie home a lovely place,
A spot to rest the eye upon, a real
Oasis in the desert.

THE HOME MAKING

Days have passed ;

The making of the home goes slowly on;
From chaos, order steadily evolves;
And yet, so incomplete the state of things,
Within, without, that strength and patience
scarce



22 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

Can bear the call incessant, for the work
Of hands, that falls upon so few. How great
The task to make a home, when every brick
And stick, and stone, that goes to build a house,
Must be transported miles and miles, by man
And beast. Where deep are hid the springs that

must
Be found, and forced to yield their sparkling

gift

Of water, clear and cool. Where not a grain
Of wheat bestows its bearded wealth, till from
The river to the spot where it must grow
A channel has been made to carry there
The snow and ice that Winter stored within
The mountain fastnesses, when the warm

breath

Of May and June, unloosing his cold clasp,
Shall coax his treasures down the rocky sides
In dancing rivulets. Where e en the soil,
The cacti-guarded soil, sun-baked and hard,
Forbids the sharpened plow to turn its sod,
Until its surface has received a flood,
Descended from the clouds, or lacking that,
A flood drawn from the river s tide.



APRAIRIEIDYL 23

But still,

Each day some comfort adds. Each day be
holds

Some task begun, or carried forward. Time
And thought, and strength are given. In re
turn

There comes a welcome sense of homelikeness ;
Homelike, and yet not home. What wonder

that

With eyes tear-blinded, Margaret should ask
Herself, "Can this bare country ever make
A home for me? For me, who loved so well
The stately oaks about my childhood s home,
The stretch of pines where I might wander

hours,

And hours, delighted with their fragrance, and
Their gentle murmurings, and find enough
To hold me spellbound, in the tiny leaves
That trailed across the dim aisles at their feet,
A tracery of green, against the soft,
Brown carpet, made of fallen needles ? There,
Low hills and vales o ergrown with trees that

held

Aloft, in Spring, their tasseled, petaled flowers,
And waved in Summer, dainty robes of green;
Where in the Autumn, choicest tints of gold



24 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

And scarlet, hid the bounteous harvest spread,
Of nuts and fruits, and made the landscape

rich
With pictures, words may not portray. And

here,

No tree in sight, save where the cottonwoods
Upon the river s bank a mile away,
Find water so that they can thrive and grow;
No sheltered nooks where hide surprises rich
With Flora s gifts. Naught, but the sun-
browned plains,
Wind-swept and desolate. Can this be home ?"

THE WIND STORM

The moisture of early spring has made
It possible to plow the ground and seed
It ; but for weeks no rain has fallen on
The thirsty, sun-dried land. The stubborn soil
Resists the plow. The seeds refuse to grow.
For lack of Nature s tears, their hearts will not
With sympathy enlarge, and opening, send
Their tender sprouts to bless the land.

For days

The clouds have floated from the mountain
tops



APRAIRIEIDYL 25

And spread upon the sky, their folds, so full
Of promise; then retaining all their wealth
Of rain-drops, coveted and needed, furled
Their banners dark, and sailed from sight.

The wind

Now boisterous and rioting, lifts from
The earth, a cloud of dust, and whirling sticks,
And straws ; it pelts with gravel stones that cut
Like sleet, the luckless one, unsheltered from
Its wrath. From out the sandy soil it tears
The wheat, that early rains have sprouted ; veils
The nearer objects with its stolen cloud,
And shrieks and howls, like some mad spirit,

free
To do its worst.

A VISITOR

Now Margaret, on such
A morn, half terrified, alone, except
The fellowship of her own little ones,
Heard open wide, as if wind flung, a door,
And hastening there to close it gainst the blast,
Upon her threshold met, all scant of breath,
And panting from her battle with the storm,
Her German neighbor woman, knitting work



26 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

In hand, and joyed to see her there, her words
Of welcome feebly told how much.

"I saw/

The neighbor said, her accent scarce betrayed
Her foreign birth, "your husband on his way
To town ; and when the wind began to blow,
I knew right well how dreary it must seem
To you; and so I came to help you keep
Your courage up; if you are not afraid,
You re braver far, than I, when first I saw
The air so filled with sweepings of the earth."
"Have you then lost all fear?"

"The noisy wind

It wearies me ; it wears my patience out ;
It sifts the dust through every crevice in
The house ; and yet, it seldom gives much cause
For fear; the mountains are so near to us,
We think they break its force."

"Is this dry spring
Unusual, or have you seen the like
Before?"

"Aye, many times ; if you had had
Your ditches made and turned the water on
The sod before t was plowed, then would your

seeds
Have started. One cannot do all things in



APRAIRIEIDYL 27

A minute. Well it was for you, the soil
Was wet enough to ploiv. Now, your good

man

Will furrow out the corn, and irrigate
Between the rows, spread gentle floods upon
Alfalfa sown, and wheat, and you shall see
How water makes the green oases in
The desert."

"How long has this bare country been
Your home?"

"Why, long enough to make a home
And lose it. Long enough to start anew
With younger people, like yourself. I left
My childhood s home, where high the Alps up
lift
Their snow-crowned heads, a bride; and now

I count

My children s children, kiss their rosy cheeks
And feel their clinging arms around my neck."
"Please tell me, friend, what made you choose

this land

To be your own? I question, for I love
To hear another s voice; tis music in
My loneliness. And then I fain would know
How other women lived, who knew in truth
The hardships of the pioneer."



28 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

"Because

We speak that language, people say that we
Are Germans ; just as truly might they call
Us French. We came from Switzerland. The

love

Of liberty is in our veins, and that
Is why we made America our choice.
We thought to seek the western coast and make
Our fortune in its mines of gold ; but when
The train of emigrants was formed, and well
Upon the way, we heard that dread disease
Was raging there. Our oxen crippled with
The constant travel. Fertile lands around
Us, tempted us to stay. We dropped behind.
Our fellow travelers journeyed on, and we
Were left alone, to make as best we could
A living in Missouri s wilds. Four walls
Of logs, without a floor or roof, was all
The shelter that I had for months. Twas there
My first born saw the light. We gathered

round

Us, in the years we settled there, a few
Of life s necessities, but little of
Its comforts. Sickness laid its hold upon
My husband. Strength for work, no longer did



APRAIRIEIDYL 2Q

He have. There seemed but one thing left for

us,

To seek for health amid new scenes. We then
Had heard a little of the healing power
Of Colorado s air, so light and dry;
And so we rounded up our little herd,
And once again a prairie schooner was
Our home, our home on wheels. We traveled

weeks

And months, until we saw, far in the west,
The mountain tops, snow white, against the

sky;

And still, another day ; and then at night
We camped beside the Platte; and there with

grass

And water for our stock, again we tried
To make a home."

"Were you so fortunate
As I ? Had you a neighbor ?"

"On the creek

Were ranches where white settlers lived, too far
Away to be much help or company.
I had some visitors you might not care
To know. The Indians often passed our way
And seldom failed to call."



3O PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

"And were you not
Afraid of them?"

"Sometimes ; but then, I knew
Too much to let them find it out ; I learned
To raise my voice and scold until they thought
I was the bravest woman on the creek.
You know we had no railroads then; we

bought

Supplies in Denver ; sold our produce there ;
It took a week to make the trip; the men
From all the ranches went together. Once,
When they were gone, a band of red men passed
Our way, and knowing that the women were
Alone, they frightened and annoyed us much.
They were Arapahoes, returning to
Their camp upon Crow Creek. I knew their

tribe

Because they told me pointed at themselves
And proudly said, "Me Rapho!" Groups of

two

And three my callers were ; I dared
Not feed them ; if I did, I knew they would
Return, not once, but many times. Outside
The house I hid all eatables, except
A loaf of bread, to give my children should
The red men stay too long ; and that I placed



APRAIRIEIDYL 31

Among our clothing in a trunk. When they
Insisted on a search for food, then wide
I opened empty closets, boxes, jars,
With hands not gentle, saying with a voice
Made loud and scolding, "See ! there s nothing

here,

Or here! or here! So brave and unconcerned
Was I, they little guessed how much with fear
I trembled : this was not what they wished

to hear,

And one old dirty brave held up his hands,
With fingers spreading wide, the way they

count

By tens, and tens, and said, "Heap Injun, come
And kill white squaw ;" and then I showed no

sign

Of fear ; in truth I was not much afraid :
I knew that when they meant to kill, they came
At just before the break of day, and then
They did not parley. Once, three red men

came,
And shouted, "Sleepee wigwam!" "No!" I

said,
"You can t sleep here! Your wigwam is on

Crow-
Go there !" I held the door fast shut, and was



32 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

So firm, they laughed and went away. I had
Less trouble than the other women did
With them. That proved twas wiser not to

yield
To their demands."

"How were they dressed?"
"They wore

In winter, robes of buffalo; and in
The summer, blankets; not much else; but if
A brave should wear a hat, he usually
Wore two, placed one above the other. One,
He must have been a chief, wore feathers in
His hair, and crossed his breast and wound his

waist

With strings of silver dollars, flattened out,
And lapped upon each other, till they must
Have been a heavy weight to bear. We feared
Them really, when the civil war broke out ;
Bad men deserters and the like, then put
Them up to doing harm. Twas then the Plum
Creek massacre occurred, and no one knew
But what an Indian was behind each knoll
To shoot him down. It made my blood run

cold

The danger we were in ; and when we had
To stay alone, the children and myself,



APRAIRIEIDYL 33

We dared not sleep beneath our roof, for fear
It might be burned above our heads. I stole
Out after dark and made a place for them
To sleep among the weeds and willows by
The river; often dared not leave them there
One night, but took them up and carried them
Asleep, to other places, sometimes moved
Them more than once before the night was

gone.

I early taught them all to know and write
Their names, that it might help us find them,

should
The red men steal them from us."

"Trials that

I thought were mine, fade into nothingness
Beside the hardships it has been your lot
To bear," said Margaret.

"In every life

Hard places come, and mine has had its share.
You have not told me yet, how well you like
Your house, and if it seems like home to you."

"Since living here the sun has risen in
The east," said Margaret; "in that it seems
Like home ; before, I was so lost and turned
About, it seemed to me as if the sun rose in



34 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

The north; but when the house was being

built,

The house I had not seen until twas fit
To shelter us, my husband said such words
As these, The kitchen faces to the east,
And there you ll have the morning sun. Or

these,

The view is lovely from the sitting-room;
The southern windows look upon Pike s

Peak

You ll see it when the sun is low, and all
The western sky is cut in scallops by
The snow-crowned mountain peaks against its

blue.

So was I righted as to compass points.
And then, I have my loved ones here; for me,
Not Heaven itself, could be a home, were they
Not there. If one who had authority,
Should say to me, To-day go back and live
Among the scenes you love so well/ I would
Not heed the words, because I am so glad
To see my husband gaining health. To have
Him know the joy of breathing full, free

breaths

The gift that Colorado s wondrous air
Bestows upon those sufferers who seek



APRAIRIEIDYL 35

Her plains and mountains, while there yet is

hope

For them. And yet, in spite of all, there comes
At times, a longing for the dear old home,
The dear, dear faces, till it makes me sad,
And easily the tears would come, but that
I hold them back.

My husband? Yes, he liked
Here from the first; he says there s something

in

The novelty and freedom of this life,
That suits him well. But I imagine that
Its hardships wear upon the women more
Than on the men. The loneliness, and lack
Of comforts that the settler must endure,
They feel more deeply. Care of children and
Of home, so often shuts them in from change
They need and would enjoy."

With now and then
A pause to listen to the howling wind,
The neighbors chatted on ; and in the skilled
Accustomed hands the knitting grew apace ;
While Margaret found work to busy her
In caring for her house and little ones.
With wonder eyes, young Earl had listened to
The tales of frontier life; but longing for



36 PEN PICTURES OF THE PLAINS

The wind to cease that he might ride upon
His pony s back, he took his seat where he
Could watch the storm, and was the first to see
The dust clouds lessen, note the welcome lulls,
And know the storm would soon be o er. The

veil

Of dust laid low, the sun shines forth upon
The wind-swept land. The piles of rubbish

found

In sheltered corners, tell how thoroughly
The sweeping has been done. The absent one,
Wind-tossed and weary, now returns. The kind
And thoughtful neighbor seeks her home.

Night falls
Upon a restful quiet, sweet as sleep.

THE DRY, DRY EARTH

The days are warm, excepting when the sun,
Veiled by the passing clouds, is lost to sight;


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