William Henry Ryus.

The second William Penn; a true account of incidents that happened along the old Santa Fe trail in the sixties online

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When his postol was found, which he had dropped, two
chambers were empty, but there was no evidence that he
had wounded any of the Indians.

"We buried him by the side of the road, and upon our
return in the fall it appeared that his grave had been
opened, but whether by savage Indians, wolves or loving
hands we never knew. After retreating some distance,
driving the cattle of Blanchard's train, four Indians dashed
back into McRea's herd and took out about one-third, and
a few belonging to Sage. This was done under a heavy
rifle fire, but so far as ever known no Indians were hurt.
They left two of their ponies down on the river bank, which
probably had been disabled. The Mexicans sustained no
loss. After the skirmish was ended a few well directed
shots dispersed the party that had remained on the hill;
and one Indian, not exceeding 800 yards away, who seemed
to be acting as a signal man, was directly fired at the
rifleman resting his piece on a wagon tongue ; so far as we


knew no harm happened to him, but he galloped swiftly
from his post, and was not seen again.

"The Indians drove the cattle so captured across the
river to a point two or three miles away, then unsaddled
their ponies and rested. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon
another herd, consisting of horses, mules and cattle, the
proceeds of other raids, were driven down on the south
side of the river, and added to those taken from Blanch-
ard's train and the S. S. trains. The combined herds were
then driven southward over the sand hills. We saw no
more of this war party. It was anticipated that some
might remain and watch for a messenger that must neces-
sarily be sent back to Fort Larned; if any were left we
had no evidence of it.

"As all of Blanchard's herd except two oxen had been
taken it was necessary to communicate with Fort Larned,
the nearest military post. The distance was estimated to
be about sixty-five miles. The night herder of Blanchard's
train expressed a willingness to go upon this perilous un-
dertaking. While making his preparations at McRea's
camp he was asked if he wanted any money, that a little
might be found in the train. He replied that money would
not 'help' him 'on a trip like this/ but he would be glad to
have a small bottle of whisky and some tobacco, as he
might not get anything to eat before the afternoon of the
next day. These having been furnished him, and when it
was dark, without a word of parting, he mounted the pony,
off which Blanchard had been shot, and rode away towards
the hills, saying that it was his purpose to keep away from
the road and travel under the 'tops of the ridges/ On the
second morning after his departure, and just at daylight
a body of soldiers arrived, accompanied by the messenger,
together with a long train of wagons. The commanding
officer took charge of Blanchard's wagons, and within an
hour McRea, Sage and the Mexican were moving on to
their several destinations under an escort, commanded by
Captain Butcher, Eleventh Missouri Volunteer cavalry.
The remainder of the journey was made by the three trains


without incident Indians having been seen but once, and
that was a short distance below old Fort Lyon; the party
disappeared rapidly, and was evidently traveling and not
on the warpath.

"Returning to the messenger, his courage and boldness
stamped him as a man whose name should be preserved,
if possible, in Kansas historical collections, but I never
heard of him again, and do not remember his name, pos-
sibly never knew it. The plainsman of that period, like
his successor, the cowboy, was not inquisitive. He might
ask another where he was from, but rarely his name
never his former business. The messenger was then of
full middle life, rather stout, with sandy colored hair and
beard, and brown eyes. He was simply a night herder,
probably had no other occupation, but like the trapper,
the hunter and the plainsman, he has probably joined his

"In 1877 I was at Dodge City several days taking testi-
mony in a case growing out of the loss of a train of mules
near the Cimarron crossing in the year 1864, and one after-
noon, in company with a former member of the firm of
Stuart, Slemmons & Co., drove down to Fort Dodge and
below to identify, if possible, the place where Blanchard
was killed, but could not. From the course of a bayou I
was led to believe that the guard house at Fort Dodge was
located at or near the place where the rear of the Mexican
train stood. However, there was no landmark by which
the place could be reasonably identified. In years past I
have made many inquiries to learn if possible what band
of Indians made the attack, but have obtained no satis-
faction. It was the opinion of our captain, Thomas Fields,
judging from their mode of attack, that the Indians were
Comanches or Kiowas, or both."

In 1908 I wrote George Bent, a former school mate, and
received the following reply:

"Colony, Okla., Jan. 17, 1908.

"Colonel Milton Moore, Kansas City.

"Sir: I have seen published in a Western periodical your paper
now in the archives of the Kansas Historical Society relating to


a battle your train had with a war party in August, 1864, near
where Fort Dodge was. Cheyennes were camped on the Solomon
river. Several war parties started from this village to make raids
on trains. Most of these parties went to Platte river. The Sioux
joined these war parties that went to Platte river. 'Little Robe/
now dead, was head of this party that your trains had fight with.
There were twenty or thirty warriors in this party. The man you
speak of riding the yellow horse in the lead was 'Bear Man.' He
was no chief; only grand warrior in battles. I was in the Chey-
enne village when these war parties started out and I knew this
young man well. He died at Darlington agency several years ago
from an old wound he got fighting Utes. He was about twenty-
five years old when he led that charge through between the trains.
The war party did not drive the cattle very far out when they left
them. Just before this fight, in July, I think, the Kiowas and
Comanches attacked a train or two at Walnut creek. They killed
several teamsters. Brother Charles was at Charley Rath's ranch
on Walnut creek at the time. He told me about it when he came
to the. village on Solomon river. The whites started this war in
1864. As I was with the Cheyennes at the time I knew what took
place. The Kansas Historical Society ought to get the Indian
side of the history of all these wars between the whites and In-

"Respectfully yours,


Pecos Church.

I will call attention to the Old Pecos Church which was
probably owned by the Roman Catholics at one time, but
which was in ruins when I first saw it, as I drove by with
my stage coach to Santa Fe. It stood twenty miles east
of Santa Fe on the old trail. The walls were built of adobe,
the doors were round-topped and built of solid hewed tim-
bers, with wooden hinges, wooden latches. When I first
saw the old ruins it had a belfry on the top of it with a
rounded topped opening in it the same as the doors below.
This church was built on the plan of a fort. When it was
originally built it was the storage place for all kinds of am-
munition, Roman spears, shields, breast plates, guns, pow-
der, ammunition of every kind and character, used by Ro-
man Catholics for war, and was probably built by the
Aztec Indians who were under the control of the Span-
iards. It was said to be 300 years old when I saw it 53
years ago. It was a two-story structure, built of adobe,
or sun-dried brick. The floors of the building were built
of some kind of concrete and were hard and glossy. The
upper floor was built of eight by ten timbers laid solidly
together with a crease in the crack of each timber dove-
tailed the cracks in the timbers fitted so closely together
that the creases did not show. The under part of the floor,
that part which was exposed as ceiling for the lower room
was lavishly hand carved. This carving was said to have
been done by the Indians. There was carved in some
places, Indian squaws with their papooses on their backs,
heads of big braves, mooses, bow and arrows, fish, deer,
antelope, horses, lizards and almost everything imagined
was carved in this timber. Those parts not exposed di-
rectly to the elements were in a good state of preservation,
while those pieces exposed to the weather were brittle and





would crumble like chalk. In the picture of the Pecos
church you will note the pieces of fallen timbers. Kos-
loski was a Polish ranchman whose ranch was traversed
by the Old Trail. This was a very picturesque ranch at
the foot of the Glorietta Mountains, half mile from the
ruins of the old Pecos Church. He bought the ruins of
this once famous temple and built stables for his horses
and cattle. Kosloski's ranch had at one time been a famous
eating station, noted for its profusion of fine mountain
trout caught from the Rio Pecos River which ran near the
cabin. On this famous ranch four miles east of the Pecos
River, the Texas Rangers fought their fight with the Union
soldiers and were whipped. Gone are those old days, gone
are the old people, gone are the bones of the soldiers which
have bleached upon the ruins of the Old Trail. Silence
reigns supremely over the once famous ranch, broken oc-
casionally by the screams of the locomotives as they whiz
by on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, puffing,
screeching and rumbling up the steep grades of the Glori-
etta Mountains.




Who Always Traded with Indians Instead
of Fighting Them.

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Online LibraryWilliam Henry RyusThe second William Penn; a true account of incidents that happened along the old Santa Fe trail in the sixties → online text (page 11 of 11)