THE SECOND WILLIAM PENN
A true account of incidents that happened along the old Santa Fe Trail in the Sixties.
BY W.H. RYUS
By Col. Milton Moore
You who take the trouble to read these reminiscences of the Santa Fe Trail may be curious to know how much of them are literally true.
The writer of this preface was intimately acquainted with the author of this book, and knows that he has not yielded to temptation to draw upon his imagination for the incidents related herein, but has adhered strictly to the truth. Truth is, sometimes, "stranger than fiction," and is an indispensable requisite to accurate history, yet it may sometime destroy the charm of fiction.
The author of this book had a real and exceptional knowledge of Indian character and Indian traits, and his genuine tact in trading and treating with them, and the success which he had in sustaining friendly relations with them was one of the wonders of the West, and was a circumstance of much comment by those who had occasion to use the Santa Fe Trail.
It is small wonder, then, that "Little Billy of the Stage Coach" won for himself the title of the "Second William Penn."
In the early Sixties, the region through which the Old Trail passed was an unexplored territory where constant struggles for supremacy between the Wild Red Man and the hardy White man were carried on.
Many and tragical were the hardships endured by those who attempted to open up this famous highway and establish a line of communication between the East and the West. The only method of travel was by odd freight caravans drawn by oxen or the old-fashioned, lumbering uncomfortable Concord Stage Coaches drawn by five mules.
The stage coach carried besides its passengers the United States mail and express.
An escort of United States militia often accompanied the stage coach in order to protect it against attacks of the Indians at that time when the plains were invested with the Arapahoes, Comanches, Cheyennes, Kiowas and other tribes, some of whom were on the warpath, bedecked in war paint and feathers.
The Indians were often in search of something to satisfy their hunger, rather than the scalps of the white men. The author of this book won their confidence and friendship by dividing with them his rations, and showing them that he was willing to compensate them for the privilege of traveling through their country. He had so many friendly conferences and made so many treaties with them while on his trips across the plains that he came to be called the "Second William Penn."
He came into personal contact with the famous chiefs of the Indian tribes, and won their good will to such an extent that their behavior toward him and his passengers was always most excellent.
The author has, in these pages, told of many encounters between the whites and the Indians that were narrated to him by the Indians. He holds the Indians blameless for many of the attacks attributed to them, and calls attention to the Chivington Massacre and the Massacre of the Nine Mile Ridge, related in the following pages.
He begs the readers not to censure too severely the Indian who simply pleaded for food with which to satisfy his hunger, and sought to protect his wigwam from the murderous attacks of unscrupulous white men.
I gladly recommend this tale as sound reading to all who desire to know the truth concerning the incidents which actually occurred along the Old Trail, and the real friendly relations which existed between the Indians and the white men, such as our Author and Kit Carson, who were well acquainted with their motives and characteristics.
"Bathe now in the stream before you, Wash the war-paint from your faces, Wash the blood-stain from your fingers, Bury your war-clubs and your weapons, Break the red stone from this quarry, Mould and make it into Peace Pipes, Take the reeds that grow beside you, Deck them with your brightest feathers, Smoke the calumet together, And as brothers live henceforward."
REMINISCENCE OF THE OLD SANTA FE TRAIL.
BY W. H. RYUS, MAIL AND EXPRESS MESSENGER AND CONDUCTOR.
W. H. Ryus, better known as "the Second William Penn" by passengers and old settlers along the line of the Old Santa Fe Trail because of his rare and exceptional knowledge of Indian traits and characteristics and his ability to trade and treat with them so tactfully, was one of the boy drivers of the stage coach that crossed the plains while the West was still looked upon as "wild and wooly," and in reality was fraught with numerous, and oftentimes, murderous dangers.
At the time this story is being recalled, our author is in his seventy-fourth year, but with a mind as translucent as a sea of glass, he recalls vividly many incidents growing out of his travels over the Santa Fe Trail.
Having the same powers of appreciation we all possess, for confidences reposed in him, he lovingly recalls how his passengers would press him to know whether he would be the driver or conductor to drive the coach on their return. Some of these passengers declare that it was really beautiful to see the adoration many Indians heaped upon the driver, "Little Billy of the Stage Coach," and they understood from the overtures of the Indians toward "Billy" that they were safe in his coach, as long as they remained passive to his instructions, which were that they allow him to deal with whatever red men they chanced to meet.
Sometimes a band of Indians would follow his coach for miles, protecting their favorite, as it were, from dangers that might assail him. They were always peaceable and friendly toward Billy in exchange for his hospitality and kindness. It was a by-word from Kansas City to Santa Fe that "Billy" was one boy driver and conductor who gave the Indians something more than abuse to relate to their squaws around their wigwam campfires.
The dangerous route was the Long Route, from Fort Larned, Kansas, to Fort Lyon, Colorado, the distance was two hundred and forty miles with no stations between. On this route we used two sets of drivers. This gave one driver a chance to rest a week to recuperate from his long trip across the "Long Route." A great many of the drivers had nothing but abuse for the Indians because they were afraid of them. This made the Indians feel, when they met, that the driver considered him a mortal foe. However, our author says that had the drivers taken time and trouble to have made a study of the habits of the Indians, as he had done, that they could have just as easily aroused their confidence and secured this Indian protection which he enjoyed.
It was a hard matter to keep these long route drivers because of the unfriendliness that existed between them and the Indians, yet the Old Stage Company realized a secureness in Billy Ryus, and knew he would linger on in their employ, bravely facing the dangers feared by the other drivers and conductors until such a time as they could employ other men to take his place.
Within the pages of this book W. Ryus Stanton relates many amusing and interesting anecdotes which occurred on his stage among his passengers. From passengers who always wanted to return on his coach he always parted with a lingering hope that he would be the driver (or conductor, as the case might be) who would return them safely to their destination. Passengers were many times "tender-footed," as the Texas Rangers call the Easterners. Billy soothingly replied to all questions of fear, soothingly, with ingenuity and policy.
Within Billy's coach there was carried, what seemed to most passengers, a superfluity of provision. It was his fixed theory that to feed an Indian was better than to fight one. He showed his passengers the need of surplus foods, if he had an idea he would be visited by his Red Friends, who may have been his foes, but for his cunning in devising entertainment and hospitality for them. The menus of these luncheons consisted chiefly of buffalo sausage, bacon, venison, coffee and canned fruits. He carried the sausage in huge ten-gallon camp kettles.
The palace coaches that cross the old trail today pulled by the smoke-choked engines of the A.T. & Santa Fe R.R. carry no provision for yelling Comanches, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, etc. They lose no time treating and trading with the Indians, and are never out of sight of the miraculous changes exhibited by the advanced hand of civilization.
In 1861 He Starts as Mail Driver.
In the spring of 1861 I went home to Burlingame, Kansas, and went to work on the farm of O.J. Niles. I had just turned the corner of twenty-one summers, and I felt that life should have a "turning point" somewhere, so I took down with the ague. This very ague chanced to be the "turning point" I was looking for and is herewith related.
Mr. Veil of the firm of Barnum, Veil & Vickeroy, who had the mail contract from Kansas City, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, stopped over at Burlingame, Kansas, and there met Mr. Niles, the man for whom I was working. Mr. Veil told Mr. Niles that he wanted a farmer boy to drive on the Long Route because the stage drivers he had were cowards and not satisfactory. Niles told him that he had a farm hand, but, he added, "he won't go, because he has the ague." "Oh, well," Mr. Veil replied, "that's no matter, I know how to cure him; I'll tell him how to cure himself." So they sent for me, and Veil told me how to get rid of the ague. He said, "you dig a ditch in the ground a foot deep, and strip off your clothing and bury yourself, leaving only your head uncovered, and sleep all night in the Mother Earth." I did it. I found the earth perfectly dry and warm. I had not much more than engulfed myself when the influences of the dry soil began to draw all the poison out of my body, and I had, as I most firmly believe, the most peaceful and delightful slumber I had ever experienced since infancy. From that day until the present time I have never had another chill. I gained 40 pounds of flesh in the next three months. I have known consumption to be cured with the same "ague cure" on the plains.
The distance from Kansas City to Fort Larned, Kansas, is three hundred miles. The distance from Fort Larned to Fort Lyon, New Mexico, is two hundred and forty miles, and from Fort Lyon to Fort Union it is one hundred and eighty miles, from Fort Union to Santa Fe it is one hundred and eighty miles, making nine hundred miles for the entire trip.
The drive from Fort Larned, Kansas, to Fort Lyon, Colorado, was known as the Long Route, being 240 miles, with no stations between; but across that treacherous plain of the Santa Fe Trail I made the trip sixty-five times in four years, driving one set of mules the entire distance, camping out and sleeping on the ground.
The trips were made with five mules to each coach, and we took two mules with us to supply the place of any mule that happened to get sick. Sometimes, strange to note, going on the down grade from Fort Lyon to Fort Larned we would have a sick mule, but this never occurred on the up-grade to Fort Lyon. When a mule was sick we left it at Little Coon or Big Coon Creek. Little Coon Creek is forty miles from Fort Larned. When Fort Larned was my headquarters I always went after my sick mules, if I had any, the next day and brought them in. Fort Larned was the regular built fort with a thousand soldiers, a settlers' store, and the Stage Company's station with its large corral of mules and horses; it was the headquarters of the Long Route to furnish the whole route to Santa Fe. If the sick mules happened to be at Little Coon Creek, the round trip would be eighty miles, and it would sometimes take me and my little race pony several days to make the trip, owing of course to the condition of the sick mule and its ability to travel. Camping out on these trips, I used my saddle for a pillow while my spread upon the ground served as my bed. I would tie the lariat to the saddle so the pony would graze and not get too far away from our "stomping ground." If the wolves came around, which they often did, the pony would come whinnying to me, stamp on the ground and wake me up. I usually scared them away by shooting over their heads.
When we had several passengers, and wished to make time, we took two coaches with two drivers and one conductor who had charge over the two coaches. There was the baggage of several passengers to carry, bedding for ourselves, provision for the whole crew and feed for the mules. We usually made from fifty to sixty miles a day, owing to the condition of the road and weather.
Sometimes coyotes and mountain wolves would molest us. The mountain wolf is about as large as a young calf, and at times they are very dangerous and blood-thirsty. At one time when my brother, C.W. Ryus, was with me and we were going into Fort Larned with a sick mule, five of those large and vicious mountain wolves suddenly appeared as we were driving along the road. They stood until we got within a hundred feet of them. I cracked my whip and we shot over their heads. They parted, three going on one side of the road and two on the other. They went a short distance and turned around and faced us. We thought we were in for a battle, and again we fired over their heads, and, greatly to our satisfaction and peace of mind, they fled. We were glad to be left alone and were willing to leave them unharmed. Had we used our guns to draw blood it is possible that they would have given chase and devoured us. We would not have been in the least alarmed had we advanced upon five Indians, for we would have invited them to join us and go to the station with us and get something to eat. Not so with the wolves, they might have exacted our bodies before they were satisfied with the repast.
I was never afraid of Indians, so hardly ever took an escort. My greatest fear was that some white man would get frightened at the sight of the reds and kill one of their band, and I knew if that should happen we were in grave danger. I always tried to impress my passengers that to protect ourselves we must guard against the desire to shoot an Indian. Not knowing how to handle an Indian would work chaos among us. The Indians did not like the idea of the white race being afraid of them—the trains amassing themselves together seemed to mean to the Indian that they were preparing for battle against them, and that made them feel like "preparing for war in time of peace."
At one time on my route I remember as we were passing Fort Dodge, Kansas, a fort on the Arkansas River, there was a caravan of wagons having trouble with the Indians. I had an escort of some ten or fifteen soldiers, but we passed through the fray with no trouble or hair-splitting excitement.
The Nine Mile Ridge Massacre.
During the coldest time in winter, in the month of January, 1863, nine freight wagons left Santa Fe, New Mexico, on their way East. A few miles before they reached the Nine Mile Ridge they encountered a band of almost famished Indians, who hailed with delight the freight wagons, thinking they could get some coffee and other provision. In this lonely part of the world, seventy-five miles from Fort Larned, Kansas, and a hundred and sixty-five miles from Fort Lyon, without even a settler between, it was uncomfortable to even an Indian to find himself without rations.
The Nine Mile Ridge was a high elevation above the Arkansas River road running close to the river, on top of the ridge. The Indians followed the wagons several miles, imploring the wagon boss to give them something to eat and drink, which request he steadily refused in no uncertain voice. When it was known by the red men that the wagon boss was refusing their prayers for subsistence they knew of no other method to enforce division other than to take it from the wagons.
The leader of the band went around to the head of the oxen and demanded them to corral, stop and give them some provision. During the corraling of the train one wagon was tipped partly over and the teamster shot an Indian in his fright. Then the Indians picked up their wounded warrior, placed him on a horse and left the camp, determined to return and take an Indian's revenge upon the caravan. The wagon boss went into camp well satisfied—but not long was his satisfaction to last.
After the Indians departed several teamsters who thought they knew what was desired by the Indians reproached their wagon-boss for not having complied with their request to give them food. His action in refusing food resulted in a mutiny on the part of the teamsters, and after the oxen were turned out to graze, the dispute between the teamsters and the wagon-boss became so turbulent that if a few peaceably inclined drivers had not arraigned themselves on the side of the wagon-boss he would have been lynched.
Before daylight the Indians returned and attacked the wagons and killed all the whites but one man who escaped down the bank into the river. He floated down until he was out of hearing of the Indians. When he was almost worn out and half frozen he got out of the river, wrung the water from his clothing and started for Fort Larned, seventy-five miles distant. After leaving the water he noticed a fire, and knew instinctively that the Indians had set fire to their wagons, and wondered how many, if any, of the company had escaped as he had so far done.
Late in the afternoon of the next day a troop of soldiers discovered this man several miles from Fort Larned in an almost exhausted condition, dropping down and getting up again. The commanding officer sent out some soldiers and brought him to the fort. I talked with this man, and he told me that if the wagon-boss had given the Indians something to eat, entertained them a little, or given them the smallest hospitality, he believed they would all have been saved from that massacre.
He said the Indians plead with the wagon-boss for food, and he thought if the teamster had not lost his equanimity and made that first luckless shot the massacre of the Nine Mile Ridge would never have become a thing of history.
This tragedy created a great fright and made traveling across the plains difficult. The Indians were hostile only because they did not know the minds of the white men, and what their attitude toward them would be, if they were not always prepared to defend themselves. Therefore the people traveling on the plains in trains amassed themselves together for protection, and the people at Fort Larned with their soldiers were very much wrought up over the atrocious murders and the destruction of property all along the whole Western frontier. In time of war one false step may cause the death of hundreds. In this case the commanding officer of the fort took the precaution to send out runners to call the Indians together to the fort, in order to learn, if possible, the cause of this fearful massacre and to get their statement concerning their action.
The two Indians who came in verified the statement of the ox-driver, and declared that if the teamster had not killed their inoffensive warrior who only asked for something to eat there would have been no trouble at all from them.
In defense of the Indian I will say that the people in general were all the time seeking to abuse him. In almost all instances where I have read of Indian troubles I have noticed that at all times it grew out of the fact that the whites invariably raised the trouble and were always the aggressors. Nevertheless, newspaper reports and any other report for that matter, laid the blame at the door of the wigwam of the red man of the forest.
It is my opinion that most of the trouble on the frontier was uncalled for. The white man learned to fear the Indians always, when there was no attempt on the part of the Indian to do him harm. Many times while I was crossing the plains have bands of from thirty to forty Indians or more come to us, catching up with us or passing us by. Had I not understood them and their intentions as well as I did we would more than likely have had trouble with them or have suffered severe inconvenience. We never thought of fear when they were going along the road, and many times I would call them when I would camp for meals to come and get a cup of coffee. They would go back with us to camp. We did not care what their number was, we would always divide our provisions with them. If there were a large number of Indians, and our provisions were scarce, I would tell them so, but also tell them that notwithstanding that fact I still had some for them. Then if they only got a few sups of coffee around and a little piece of bread they were always profoundly grateful and satisfied that we had done our best.
In order to let them know we were scarce of bread, etc., I would say, "poka te keta pan;" in the Mexican language that is interpreted "very little bread." Bread, in the Mexican or Indian language, is "pan," and when they understood they would say "si," which is interpreted "yes." They showed us their appreciation for the little they received just as though we had given them a whole loaf of bread apiece.
If we only had a few cups of coffee and had seventy or eighty Indian guests we would give it to one of the Indians and he would divide it equally among his number. He would place the cup so it would contain an equal amount of the coffee. Then one of the Indians would get up from the ground (they always sit on the ground grouped all about us when they ate with us) and take the cups and hand them around to every fifth man, or such a one as would make it average to every cup of coffee they had. The Indians would break the bread and give to each one, according to what his share equally divided would be. When they come to drink their coffee every Indian who had a cup would raise it to their lips at once, take a swallow of the beverage, then pass the cup on to the next one. They did the bread the same way. After finishing their repast they invariably thanked us profusely in their Indian style for what they had been given. There were times when I had plenty of provisions to give them all they needed or required to satisfy their hunger. At no time was my coach surrounded with hostile intent without departing from it in friendliness. At the same time I knew they had some great grievances.
Ryus' Coach Is Surrounded by Indians, Their Animosities are Turned to Friendliness, Through Ryus' Wit and Ingenuity—"Hail the Second William Penn."
At one time in the year of 1864 when I arrived in Fort Larned on my way from Kansas City, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, there was a great scare, and a commanding officer, Colonel Ford, told me that they expected a raid on them most any time from Indians.
In July of that year the Cheyennes, Kiowas, Arapahoes and some Comanche and Hickory Apaches were camped a mile north of Fort Larned. The commanding officer of the fort told me he could only let me have about thirty soldiers for an escort. I told him that if we should have trouble with the Indians thirty soldiers would be just as good as a thousand, and that I had rather take my chances with thirty soldiers than more.
We left Fort Larned a little before noon and arrived at Big Coon Creek, twenty-two miles from Fort Larned, where we stopped for supper at about four o'clock in the afternoon. A lieutenant of my escort in charge of the soldiers put out a guard. While we were eating supper the guards shot off their guns and came rushing into camp with news that a thousand or more Indians were hidden along the banks of Coon Creek. The lieutenant placed double guard and came out to me and gravely suggested that we go back to Fort Larned and get more soldiers before attempting to cross farther into the Great Divide.
I told the lieutenant to take his soldiers and go back to Fort Larned and I would go on. He asked me why I did not go alone in the first place. I told him that I needed him NOW, and he asked me how that was, I told him that if he would take his soldiers and go back to Fort Larned the Indians would follow him and let me alone. He said he would go with me. We finished our dinner and I went to the soldiers' wagons and got two big armfuls of bread, about sixty pounds of bacon and a large bucket of coffee. I took them down to our camp, spread a newspaper upon the ground, laid the bacon, bread and coffee on the spread, placed a handful of matches near the bread, then went to our own mess and took several cans of coffee and bread from it, left them one of our buckets and an extra coffee pot that I carried with me, and got a large camp kettle from the soldiers and left it for the Indians. Then I gathered a few more buffalo chips and placed on the fire to keep it from going out, and my plan was complete.
I told the lieutenant to take his soldiers and drive on over the hill just out of sight and to stop there. I sent one of my coaches ahead and all of my passengers got into that coach. I told my driver to go up to the top of the hill and stop the mules there, but to keep in sight of me. I had my coach driven up the road about 100 yards, and on looking up the creek I saw one Indian in war paint and feathers looking around the bluff at me. That was the only one of their band I could see, so I got up on top of my coach and motioned for him to come to me.
Two Indians came up to within 100 feet of me, stopped and looked all around. (Indians are very cautious that they do not get caught in a trap). They rode up closer, looking intently at me all the time and talking to each other. I motioned with both hands while I was standing on top of the coach to come and I made them understand that I was friendly. They answered by Indian signs, then gave a big yell,—an Indian whoop—that liked to have froze the blood in the veins of the passengers. They gave this whoop three times, and in an instant, it seemed to me, five or six hundred Indians came down and formed in a line about the coach on top of which I stood. I bowed to them and pointed to the supper I had prepared for them. "They came, they saw, and were conquered." They bowed to me in their Indian language and signs expressing their gratitude for this hospitality. One old Indian came forward, laid his bow and arrow and spears upon the ground (the Indian sign of peace) and motioned for me to come and eat with them. I motioned to them that I must go on, so they said good-bye. When I got to the top of the hill I had my coach brought to a standstill. I slapped my hands together and again motioned them good-bye. All at once these Indians raised their hands and bade me good-bye, saluting me. These Indians were fierce looking creatures in their war-paint and with their spears, which they do not carry unless they expect trouble. That was the last time I saw those Indians on that trip.
We had no other excitement on our way to Fort Lyons, unless the encounter with the buffalo herds could be so called. A large herd of buffalo were grazing on the plains and was not an unusual sight for the drivers and me. However, when we came in sight of them one passenger cried out, "Stop the coach, stop the coach; see, there are a thousand buffalo standing belly deep in the lake." "Oh," I said, "you do not see any water—that isn't a lake." "What?" one said, "do our eyes really deceive us out here on these infernal plains? If it is not water and a lake those buffalo are standing in, what in the name of sense is it?" I told them that what they saw was nothing more than merely buffalo at a distance on the plain; that what they saw that resembled water was simply an optical illusion, called the "mirage." Webster describes the word as follows: "An optical illusion arising from an unequal refraction in the lower strata of the atmosphere and causing remote objects to be seen double, as if reflected in a mirror, or to appear as if suspended in the air. It is frequently seen in the deserts, presenting the appearance of water. The Fata Morgana and Looming are species of mirage." The mirage is one of the most beautiful scenes I ever beheld and can only be seen on the plains or in deserts in its complete beauty. It has to be seen to be appreciated. It makes a buffalo look like it had two tails. Everything looks double.
We had not much sooner spied the buffalo than they spied us and they started on the run across the road ahead of us. We were compelled to wait a half an hour until they had crossed the road. We passed ox trains every day or so going to and from New Mexico. In a few days we were in Fort Lyon, where we separated from the passengers, and we drivers would take the incoming coach and its passengers and drive back along the Long Route.
The Chivington Massacre.
There was a station on the Union Pacific Road called Kit Carson; near this station is a place called Sand Creek. It was at the latter named place where Major John L. Chivington made his bloody raid.
In the summer of 1864 the combined Indian tribe went on the warpath. They were camped north of Fort Larned, garrisoned with Kansas troops and a section of a Wisconsin battery in charge of Lieutenant Croker, and Captain Ried was the commanding officer. The Indians first commenced war at Fort Larned and ran off some horses, beef cattle and some milch cows that were the property of James Brice.
At the time Chivington made this raid there was camped at Sand Creek about one hundred and fifty lodges of women, children and a few decrepit Indians. This was one of the most brutal massacres a white man was ever known to have commanded. With some sixty soldiers he said he would go and "clean 'em up." He got there at daybreak and began to fire on the Indians and killed a great many women and children. He burned several lodges, confiscated their provisions, blankets and other supplies. The Indian braves who were able to fight had some poisoned arrows which they used advantageously. Every soldier they hit was either seriously injured or killed. Up in the day the Indians got reinforcements and gave Chivington's raiders quite a chase. These Indians were left entirely destitute, for Chivington had seized all the supplies and either loaded them into his wagons or destroyed them by fire. For that reason the surviving Indians commenced depredations on the stock and other property of settlers at Fort Larned.
It is said, but as to the truthfulness of the assertion I do not vouch, for it did not happen under my personal knowledge—that a man by the name of McGee, who was a teamster on a train loaded with flour for the Government, was captured not far from there and was scalped and left for dead; that the Eastern mail happening to come along shortly after, found the body and placed it upon the boot of the coach; that before arriving at Fort Larned they found that instead of carrying a corpse, as it was at first supposed, they carried a living man. This man was taken to a hospital and got well. He raised a family of children and his sons, some of them live in or around Independence, Missouri. This man, Mr. McGee, is said to be the only scalped man in the United States who lived after being scalped.
After this brutal crime against the Indians, trouble commenced on the Santa Fe Trail, and the sight of a "pale face" brought memories of the assassination of their tribe by Chivington and his raiders.
At this Indian lodge where the Chivington massacre occurred lived the father-in-law of John Powers. He was known the plains over as a peaceable old Indian (Old One Eye), the chief of the Cheyennes, but his "light was put out" during this desperate fight with Chivington.
Right here I will give an account of the marriage of John Powers to the daughter of "Old One Eye."
Mr. Powers had crossed the plains several times as wagon-boss for Colonel Charles Bent, who was the builder of Bent's Fort, also the new fort at Fort Lyons. He was also wagon boss for Mr. Winsor, the settler at Fort Lyon at the time of his marriage to the daughter of the old chief.
Mr. Powers' mother, Mrs. Fogel, and his stepfather received the news of Powers' marriage with many misgivings and rebuked him severely for having made such a choice, finally vowing that they disowned him and never wanted to see him again. With a finality not at all disconsolate John Powers set about to polish his Indian wife for the polite society of his mother, so he sent her to school, chaperoned by Miss Mollie Bent.
At the school at West Port this Indian girl soon excelled and under the careful management of Miss Bent the wife of John Powers soon became an expert in domestic science. But Powers, getting impatient for a meeting between his mother and wife, asked Mollie Bent to arrange it. So accordingly Miss Mollie visited at the home of her friends, the Fogels, and during the gossip Miss Bent casually remarked to Mrs. Fogel that she had a most charming friend, an Indian maid, over at the school whom she would like to introduce to her.
When Mrs. Fogel insisted upon her coming over the following Saturday, bringing with her her friend, Mollie Bent's heart was little less glad than John Powers.
At last the eventful day had arrived. Mollie, accompanied with John's "Indian squaw," went to the home of Mrs. Fogel. The high-spiritedness of the Indian maid soon captivated Mrs. Fogel. After they had eaten supper Mrs. Fogel was ordered to go to the front porch and entertain her other visitor, Miss Mollie Bent, while she (Mrs. John Powers) did up the kitchen work and cleared up the dining room. Mrs. Fogel did so with reluctance, wondering greatly just how a real Indian would do up her greatly "civilized" kitchen work. But she did not wonder long, for very soon, indeed, the daughter of "Old One Eye" came to inquire of her host where to place the dishes and how to arrange the dining room.
Mrs. Fogel was as pleased as she was surprised at the neatness and despatch with which the work had been done and told her daughter-in-law so, little knowing that she was dealing with her own son's wife. Each Saturday after this John Powers' wife visited at the home of her mother-in-law and learned many things from Mrs. Fogel that only endeared her more to the Fogel family. Swiftness and despatch is one of the Indian characteristics.
Early in the spring of 1863 Colonel Bent sold John Powers his train of nine wagons for $10,000. Powers then started to the states in February to load up. He loaded with corn to be taken to Fort Union, New Mexico, for the Government. With his two original wagons his trip netted him $10,000. He immediately returned to the states to make his second trip and to visit his wife and Miss Mollie Bent in Kansas City, Missouri. His mother did not know he was there. When he arrived in Kansas City from his second trip he decided to put his "spurs" on, so to speak, so he bought him a fine carriage, a team of prancing horses, and went like a "Prince of Plenty" to the home of his mother.
It had already been planned that Hiawatha One Eye Powers, that is, Mrs. John Powers, would be ensconced at the home of Mrs. Fogel, his mother. Mollie Bent was there, and girl like, was delighted over the romance being enacted under that roof. The heart of the Indian maid was beating a happy tattoo under her civilian dress.
A cloud of dust up the road announced that John was now near the parental roost. Mrs. Fogel with her motherly solicitude was awaiting him with happy tears dimming her eyes. She took in with all a mother's fondness his high-stepping prancers, his prosperous appearance, last but not least the entire absence of the Indian daughter-in-law.
When the greeting of mother and son was over they went into the house where Mrs. Fogel introduced her Indian friend, remarking as she did so that she was a rare and exquisite wild flower of the plains. Consternation and surprise chased themselves over Mrs. Fogel's features when she, turning, beheld her protege pressed upon her son's breast. With eyes ablaze with happy lights he led her to his mother, saying, "Mother, I now introduce you to my wife."
When Mrs. Fogel had recovered from the surprise which accompanied the shock of this disclosure she seized the girl in her motherly arms, and if ever a girl got a "hugging" Hiawatha got one from an ACTUAL mother-in-law.
Mollie Bent was hysterical, laughing and crying at the same time.
When John Powers had loaded his train he took back with him his wife and her friend, Miss Mollie Bent, as far as Fort Lyon. Fifteen years after this incident I met John Powers in Topeka, Kansas. He looked at me a long time and I returned his stare. Finally he said, "Ho, there, ain't your name Billy, the boy who used to get along with the Indians so well, cuss your soul?" I told him that I was, and he said, "I'm right glad to see you again, Billy." I asked him if he wasn't John Powers, and he told me he was. Then I asked him his business in Topeka, and he told me he had just brought his two daughters to Bethany College at Topeka, Kansas.
Mr. Powers was at that time badly afflicted with cancer of the tongue, and he told me that he hadn't long to live. He also told me that he had bought the Old Arcadia Indian Camp on the Picketwaire River (Picketwaire means River of Lost Souls or Purgatory to the Indians). The camp is between Fort Lyons and Bent's Old Fort on the opposite of the river. Some of the land at that time was rated at $50 per acre and is now, most of it, worth $100 per acre. His rating at the time of death in Dun & Bradstreet's Commercial Report was four million dollars. That was the last time I ever saw him.
Barnum, Veil and Vickeroy Go a Journeying With Barlow and Sanderson.—Vickeroy Is Branded "U.S.M."
In the fall of 1863 I quit the Long Route and went up on what is known as the Denver Branch, driving from Bent's Old Fort, Colorado, to Boonville, Colorado. On my last drive across the Long Route I had a party of "dead heads." They were the "bosses"—owners of the Stage Coach Company Line. That is, Barnum, Veil and Vickeroy were, and Barlow and Sanderson were going over the trip with these fellows with a view of buying out the interest of Vickeroy. There were three more passengers, all on fun intent.
All of these fellows were, we will call it for lack of a better word, "on a toot" and having lots of fun. They had poked so much fun at Vickeroy that they finally got the best of him. Vickeroy enlisted the three passengers on his side and sought an opportunity to "turn the tables," so they made it up to brand Barlow and Sanderson with the branding iron that was used to brand the company's mules. This iron had the letters U.S.M. (United States Mail) on it. When I placed the frying pan on the fire and it commenced to "siz," Vickeroy and two of the passengers stood Barlow on his head and told him they were going to use the branding iron. Barlow thought the branding iron was surely going to be used upon the seat of his pants, but the accommodating Vickeroy had the frying pan used instead. He gave the victim three taps on the seat of his pants with the hot frying pan, one tap for "U," one for "S" and the other for "M," then slapped him soundly and said, "Go, Mr. Mule, when the Indians find you they will take you to the station because your brand shows you to be the 'United States Male.'" Barlow's howls and Vickeroy's laughter made those old plains resound with noises which may have caused the spooks to walk that night. They were having lots of fun about the "branded 'incoming' mule," or the new member of the company that might be. All went smoothly a few days, but Vickeroy would occasionally ask us how long they thought it would take a brand to wear off so people could not know their "mule."
"Every dog has its day," and the day for Barlow's revenge was slowly but surely coming. The second day after the episode described I had the frying pan over the red hot coals fairly sizzling with a white heat ready to place my buffalo steak onto it, but Barlow told me to "wait a minute" and he said he "would attend to that skillet." I saw something was in the air, so I took a back seat and awaited events.
About the time Vickeroy was unraveling some big yarn, all unconscious of the designs Barlow had upon him, Veil and Sanderson grabbed him and had quite a tussle with him to get him in a position to apply the branding iron. The imprint left on the seat of Vickeroy's pants was not U.S.M. this time, it was burned and scorched flesh, for lo, the tussle with his determined tormentors had lasted too long,—the frying pan had gotten too hot for good branding purposes, and for the comfort of the branded one's hams.
When Mr. Barlow saw the condition of Mr. Vickeroy's clothing, he was full of apologies, but the passengers would hear nothing of them, saying that it was always bad for unruly mules when they got to kicking, and Vickeroy would have to swallow his chagrin. The windup was a new "seat" installed and a cushion for the "kicking mule."
Colonel Boone Gets Judge Wright's Enmity. Lincoln Appoints Col. A.G. Boone Indian Agent. Arrangements Are Made With Commissioners For Indian Annuities. Mr. Haynes Sends Troops to Burn Out Colonel Boone.
Driving from Bent's Old Fort to Boonville, Colorado, was usually a pleasant drive for me. After I quit the Long Route and took up the Denver Branch, I made my home with Colonel A.G. Boone, who is a great great grandson of the immortal Daniel Boone.
President Lincoln was inaugurated in March, 1860, he saw Major Filmore of Denver, Colorado, paymaster of the army, who was in Washington during the last of March after the inauguration. He asked him if he knew of a good man, capable of going among the Indians to make treaties with them, so that transportation could cross the plains without escorts. Major Filmore told the President that he knew Colonel A.G. Boone to be a fearless man, that he was not only fearless, competent and capable, but that no other man could do the work as efficiently as Colonel Boone, because the Indians were so friendly disposed toward him. Lincoln said: "Major, I wish you would see this Colonel for me, immediately. Give him funds to come to Washington at once, for I want to have a consultation with him on this 'Indian question.'"
Colonel Boone went to Washington, as arranged, and gave President Lincoln his views on the subject under consideration. Colonel Boone, in company with the President of the United States, went to the Board of the Indian Commissioners. After talking over the various ways of handling Indians, and giving his opinion of the different ways to accomplish a safer journey across the plains without encountering hostilities from Indians—he asked the Commissioners, and President, what it was they particularly desired him to do? They told him that they had sent for him to find out from him what he would do. They told him they wanted him to sketch out how he would first proceed to such a task. "Well," Colonel Boone replied, "do you want to give the Indians any annuities, or what would be called annuities—quarterly annuities of clothing, provisions, etc., and if so, how much, and so on?" The commissioners made a rating. After considerable figuring, submitted their figures to Boone's consideration. Upon looking the figures over, Boone told them to cut those figures half in two. They thought they had figured as closely as Boone would think expedient, and rather feared the amount they had first allowed each one was too small. Colonel Boone said: "If you figure the weight of the product you send them, you will find it will take a good many trains to transport it yearly." Said he: "Not only cut it in two, gentlemen, but cut it into eighths. Then perhaps you can be sure to keep your agreement with them."
As to agreements, Indians are still, and have always been most particular about living up to them. Personally, I would not make an agreement with an Indian, however trivial, that I did not mean to carry out to the letter. They have always been with me most careful to comply with the terms of their contracts.
Colonel Boone was made Indian Agent, but President Lincoln told Colonel Boone that he could not furnish him very many soldiers as escort on account of the war. Mr. Boone told him he did not want an army, but that he did want about three ambulances and the privilege of selecting his own men to go with him.
Arrangements were then made to forward to Fort Lyon blankets, beads, Indian trinkets, flour, sugar, coffee and such other articles of usefulness as is generally found in settlement stores or commissaries. When Colonel Boone told President Lincoln that he did not care for an army of soldiers for escort, the President seemed astonished, and asked him how he dared go down the Arkansas River without a good escort. Boone told him that it was his idea that he would be safer with three men, the ones he selected to go with him, viz.: Tom Boggs, Colonel Saint Vraine, Major Filmore and Colonel Bent than he would be with a thousand soldiers.
The first thing Boone did was to send out runners to have the Indians come in to Big Timbers, on the Arkansas River, where Fort Lyon is now located. There Colonel Boone began his negotiations with the Indians that opened up the Santa Fe Trail to such an extent that traveling was less dangerous and expensive.
In the second place, Colonel Boone and his party proceeded to Fort Lyon and at once began negotiations with the Indians as per his contract with the Indian Commissioners and President Abraham Lincoln.
When they arrived at the place appointed where the agency was to be established, there were camped about thirty thousand Indians with their Indian provisions, buffalo meat, venison, antelope, bear and other wild meats, and John Smith and Dick Curtis, who were the great Indian interpreters for all the tribes. The Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, Sioux, Arapahoes, Acaddas, and other tribes, with Colonel Boone, arrived at a complete understanding, and for about two years the Indians were kindly disposed toward the Whites, or as long as Colonel Boone's administration as Indian Agent existed. Any one then could cross the plains without fear of molestation from the Indians.
Colonel Boone Acquires Squire Wright's Enmity.
In 1861, however, Judge Wright of Indiana, a member of Congress during Boone's administration as Indian Agent, brought his dissipated son to Colonel Boone's. Colonel Boone told the Congressman to leave him with him and he could clerk in the Government store and issue the Indian annuities.
This boy soon became a very efficient clerk, quit his drinking, and under Colonel Boone's persuasion, developed into an honorable and upright citizen of the United States.
When congress adjourned, Congressman Wright came again to the Indian Agency at Fort Lyons where he had left his son with Colonel Boone. Finding this son so changed, so assiduous to business, so positive in manner, so thoroughly free, as it seemed from the follies of his younger days—follies that had warped all his best natures—due, as Judge Wright was compelled to confess, to the timely efforts of Colonel Boone, there sprang into the breast of Judge Wright an unquenchable flame of jealousy. What right had Colonel Boone to hold such an influence over this boy, the pampered and humored dissipate of this Congressman from Indiana, when his own commands, and his mother's prayers had held no such influence?
It was with sadness that Judge Wright remembered the weak lad he had left on Colonel Boone's hands, a victim of a father's lack of training, and found here, instead, the same lad, but with much of the weakness erased, a man now, with an ambition to do and to be.
At sight of this miracle wrought by the cleverness of Colonel Boone, Judge Wright rebelled. There entered his heart, a subtle fiend, a poisoned arrow, inspired by the rescuer of his son, good, brave, Colonel Boone. Had not this stranger entered the heart of his boy and opened up the deep wells of his intellect, buoyed up a hope within his heart that goodness was greatness, and opened his eyes to the pitfalls into which he would eventually fall, if he kept on the way he was going? In fact, Colonel Boone had sounded the message of salvation, and Wright, Jr. had accepted its graces, and before his father stood a righteous transformation, to the honor and glory of Colonel A. G. Boone, the tried and true friend of the Indian.
Again Judge Wright feels the sting of the serpent. He implored his son to return to his parental roof, but this the boy declined to do, so Judge Wright went at once to Colonel Boone and with many unjust and unscrupulous epithets accused him of having alienated the affections of his son. Colonel Boone had but to hear him out and bare his shoulders for such other blows which Judge Wright sought to pelter him, and we will hear with what blow he was driven from his post as Indian Agent.
* * * * *
At the next session of congress, Congressman Wright sought to deal his death blow to Colonel Boone, and to thus avenge the disloyalty of his son to his father, at no matter what cost to his own honor and integrity. This blow he dealt the rescuer of his son, from shame and disgrace, and who but for Colonel Boone might never have succeeded in being sober long enough to sell a pound of bacon. In Congress Judge Wright accused Colonel Boone of disloyalty toward the Government, declared that he was a secessionest, and that he was robbing the Indians, etc., and so succeeded in having him removed. To this act might fitly be applied the old adage: "Save a man from drowning and he will arise to cut off your head."
After Colonel Boone was relieved by the new agent, Mr. Macauley, Majors Waddell and Russell gave Colonel Boone a large ranch on the Arkansas River, about fifteen miles East of Pueblo, Colorado, afterwards known as Boonville. Waddell and Russell were the great government freight contractors across the plains. This ranch consisted of 1,400 acres of good land, fenced and cross fenced, having several fine buildings thereon, and otherwise well improved.
In the fall of 1863, about fifty influential Indians of the various tribes, visited at the home of Colonel Boone and begged him to return and be their agent, stating that an uprising was imminent. Colonel Boone told the Chief that the President of the United States had ejected him and that the President would not let him do the thing they asked him. Then the Indians offered to sell their ponies to raise the money for him to go to Washington to intercede with the "Great Father," to tell him of the "doin's" of their new agent, and to get reinstated himself. When Boone told them that it was impossible, and for them to go back and trust to the agent to do the right thing, they were greatly disappointed.
Soon after Colonel Boone had installed himself in his new home on the Arkansas River, he became the innocent victim of another man's wrath. A certain Mr. Haynes was keeping the Stage Station and was not giving satisfaction to the company, inasmuch as the mules seemed to be lacking the care and attention the company thought due them. The corn sent by the company (government) to feed the mules did not find its way to the mule troughs. So the Stage Company began to negotiate with Colonel Boone to take the station, and he took it.
This arrangement angered Mr. Haynes, and he reported to a Union Soldier that Colonel Boone was a rebel of the deepest dye, and further said that he had a company of Texas Rangers hidden, and intended to "clean out the country." The Lieutenant to whom this deliberate falsehood was told, sent fifteen soldiers to the home of A.G. Boone to confiscate his property and to burn him out if they found indications that the report was true.
Mr. Boone's residence was seven miles from Haynes' and the soldiers reached Boone's place about 1:30 o'clock P.M. and their horses looked, to a casual observer, like they had been ridden fifty miles. They were all covered with dust which the crafty soldiers had thrown upon them and were flecked with sweat. One soldier went forward and asked politely to be given something to eat.
Colonel Boone who was a whole-hearted, "hail fellow well met" sort of a man, invited them to come in and to put their horses in the barn and to give them one really good feed, remarking at the same time that they had better remove their saddles and allow the horses to cool off.
One soldier, without a first thought, began to throw his saddle off, but was quickly prevented by a quicker witted soldier, but the action was not quick enough. Colonel Boone had observed without appearing to do so, the normal condition of the back of the horse, and something had flown to his mind, that "all was not right on the Wabash," and he concluded to keep cool. Something told him that they were agents of Mr. Haynes, and were on mischief bent.
After caring well for the horses, the soldiers were invited to the house where they went to the back porch and refreshed themselves with clean cistern water and fresh towels. While they were getting "slicked up" as some of the soldiers jokingly called their face wash, Colonel Boone called the old negro woman to bring a pitcher of whiskey, glasses, sugar, nutmeg, and eggs, and make them a rich toddy. When this was done, Colonel Boone with a lavish hand distributed it generously among his guests, after which they were escorted through the old-fashioned long hall to the front porch where they rested and awaited the good dinner already in progress for them.
Mrs. Boone was sick in bed, and one or two of the soldiers seeing some one in bed, and more to find out who was there than anything else, sauntered into the room and up to the bed. As soon as he saw he had made a mistake, he quickly apologized and retreated to the front porch, where, to cover his embarrassment, he asked how far it was to Haynes'. Boone told him it was seven miles.
Fearing the soldiers would become restless by their prolonged wait for dinner, Colonel Boone went into the house and told his two daughters, Maggie and Mollie, to help the old negro lady get dinner, and to stay in the dining room during the dinner hour and wait on the soldiers, and be as pleasant as possible with them. He told the girls that he was afraid the soldiers were messengers of mischief, sent there at the suggestion of Mr. Haynes, but that he had not decided just what they intended to do. It was the idea of Colonel Boone to make the whiskey draw the object of this visit to him, from his guests, and some of the more talkative ones had already begun to divulge their business. The Colonel decided to leave them alone so they could consult with themselves, so busied himself about the house making his visitors comfortable wherever he could. He stopped in the living room and listened to the conversation going on between the soldiers out on the porch, which conversation sometimes developed into an argument about Mr. Haynes and the Lieutenant, the full import of which he could not glean. Then he returned to the porch, in a round-about way, brought up the subject of distance, from his place to Haynes. He then said: "Mr. Haynes had an ill-feeling toward me, and I have been told that he is circulating a report that I am a rebel, and that he intends to do me bodily harm." One soldier was in good condition then to talk—the toddy had done its work well—and he said: "I gad, Colonel, you ah jes' about right——;" but he could get no further. One soldier had closed his mouth, with the remark to Colonel Boone, that some soldiers never knew what they were talking about, when they had enjoyed a good glass of whiskey. The Colonel laughed as though the subject was of no importance to him and strolled out in the yard. Just then Mollie Boone appeared at the dining room door with a cheery smile, beguiling as the flower in her hair was fragrant, and with a "welcome, gentlemen, to the Boone home," in her comely face, bade them all go in to dinner. At the dinner table wit and mirth flowed as freely as did the water down the throats of those hungry boys in blue.
When these boys had partaken of this bounty to their full satisfaction, they thanked the pretty waitresses for the excellent dinner. The daughters followed them from the dining room begging them to never pass this way without coming in to see them, and promising to have a feast prepared for them. They departed, the girls returning to the dining room to peep behind curtains to watch the manly soldiers disappear around the house, to the stables where their horses were still munching the hay, caring nothing at all about returning to the station at Haynes'.
The next trip I made to Bent's Fort was made without a conductor on the stage. One of the owners of the Stage Company, Mr. J.T. Barnum, said to me: "Billy, you go through to Denver with the express and mail, and then act as conductor back again to the Fort."
On my return trip, I came in contact with a company of soldiers camped at Pueblo, Colorado. Several of the soldiers were at the Hotel at Pueblo, and during our talk together, I asked one of the soldiers if he knew a Sergeant by the name of Joe Graham. "Oh, yes," one man replied, "he is down there in camp now." This soldier volunteered to bring him to see me.
Mr. Graham's father was a Methodist preacher in Monterey, New York, when Joe and I were small boys, and we greeted each other with warmth and affection, and had a jolly time talking over the "old times" when we were bare-footed school lads. Finally Joe asked me where I "was holding forth and what I was doing?" I told him that I had been living with Colonel Boone, driving the stage coach from there to Bent's Old Fort, but this trip I was on my way from Denver acting as conductor of the mail. Mr. Graham asked me how long I had been with Colonel Boone. I told him I had been with him up to that time, about six months. "I understand," said Mr. Graham, "that Mr. Boone is a rebel." I told him that he was most emphatically mistaken, that Colonel Boone was one of the strongest Union men I had ever known, and that he was as strong a Unionist as ever lived. Then it was that I found out what mischief Haynes had sent the soldiers to the home of Colonel Boone, to do.
Joe Graham told me that he was the Orderly Sergeant of the company that had camped at Mr. Haynes, and Mr. Haynes had told the Lieutenant that Colonel Boone was a rebel, and had a company of Texas Rangers camped close to his premises for the purpose of making a raid on the Union soldiers. Joe Graham stated that the Lieutenant had ordered him to take some soldiers and go to the home of Colonel Boone, and if he found things as Haynes had represented, to confiscate all his property, and to burn all his buildings, but that the Lieutenant had cautioned them to be careful and to ascertain if the story Haynes had told was true before they began depredations.
When Old Joe had finished his recital, my "dander was up." "Joe," said I, "will you give me an affidavit of these facts, with the statement of Mr. Haynes to the Lieutenant?" He told me that he would be pleased to do so. We went to the Stage Company's office where Dan Hayden, a Notary Public in and for Pueblo, Colorado, drew up the statement and Sergeant Graham verified it.
After thanking Mr. Graham for his kindness in this matter, I proceeded to Bent's Fort, with what I considered good evidence of Mr. Haynes' guilt. When I arrived at Bent's Fort, I had time to go from there to Fort Lyons to meet the stage coming from the States, and I took this affidavit with me to Major Anthony, the Commanding Officer of Fort Lyons. Mr. Anthony told me that he had heard of some such talk as this, coming from Mr. Haynes. He immediately sent two soldiers to Mr. Haynes' and had him put under arrest and brought to the Fort. Mr. Haynes was taken to Denver, Colorado, given a trial, convicted, and sentenced to the penitentiary.
Macauley and Lambert Spar; Macauley is Placed in Guard House and the Indian Agency Reverts to Major Anthony.
A few weeks prior to the event last reported, the Indians reported to Colonel Boone that their agent, Mr. Macauley, was doing them an injustice. They declared to Colonel Boone that they had as much right to take something to eat from their wagons and trains as Mr. Macauley had to steal the goods sent there for them, and as long as they were being dealt with fairly they would deal fairly in return. It was to that end that Colonel Boone had perfected the treaty with them, and they were not the aggressors. Satanta, the great chief of the Kiowas, represented the Indians in this instance.
When this fact became known Mr. Macauley was placed in the guard house at Fort Lyons for dishonesty with the Indians.
When Mr. Macauley found that the Indians were becoming hostile because of his dishonesty, he went to the Stage Company's office at Fort Lyons and proposed to Mr. Lambert to put up a large stone building on the Stage Company's ground, for the purpose of storing goods. Mr. Lambert began to sniff the air at once, he thought he had found a mouse, and he said: "Mr. Macauley, I haven't the money to erect a building of that kind now." Mr. Macauley told him that he would not have to furnish a cent of money, that he, himself, would erect the building, but he wanted it put up under Lambert's name. He told Lambert that he could get the Government teamsters to haul the rock and put up the building, and it wouldn't cost him anything to amount to anything, either. Mr. Lambert told Mr. Macauley that he could not see the advisability of such a building. "But," said Macauley, "there's so much condemned goods, such as flour, meat and other groceries—the flour is wormy—and we can buy them for nearly nothing, and could sell them for a big profit." He told Lambert they could get rich enough to go East in a little while, and live like Princes, such as they were, if shortness of means did not tie them to the Western Plains. Soon their coffers would be filled to overflowing, if they but planted the seeds of his cunning mind, they would fructify with a harvest of plenty, and they would reap a rich reward; for the goods that came in for the Indians were rapidly accumulating, and at that time, there was already a heavy excess.
Finally after they had reached the front room of the Lambert home, and the conversation had taken on a still more confidential turn, Mr. Lambert wheeled on his guest, and in tones not meant to inspire the greatest confidence, almost shouted to Macauley, these words: "Do you mean to come here and make a proposition for me to build you a hiding place to put your stolen Indian goods in, over my name and signature? Now, sir, your proposition would place Bob Lambert in the guard house, while you, the man who steals these goods—you have as much as said that they were sent here for the Indians—you would go free." Bob Lambert was a mad animal when he was mad, and on he went, thundering like a bull who had suddenly beheld a red umbrella: "Macauley, you dog! the goods you are withholding from these Indians are causing trouble along the whole frontier, and it will amount to a bloody battle with these ignorant people; but, I say to you, these Indians are not ignorant of the fact that it is you who are stealing their stuff. Nevertheless, the whole white tribe will suffer through your dishonesty. These Indians have a right to protect their rights, but in so doing, they may do depredations in the wrong place." Mr. Macauley tried several times to pacify Mr. Lambert; to tell him that he had misinterpreted his proposition. He wanted to explain himself further and more fully, but Mr. Lambert would have none of it, and told him to get himself out of his house, away from his premises, and to remain away.
While Mr. Macauley was hesitating, Mr. Lambert drew his pistol and with one word, that sounded like a roar from a mighty lion, said, "Go!" Mr. Macauley turned to leave, and Lambert yelled after him: "Run, you thief, get up and hurry, or I will fill your legs full of lead;" and Macauley did run.
At this time Major Anthony was the Commanding Officer of Fort Lyons. Mr. Macauley ran to the Major's office, reaching there greatly excited and in an almost exhausted condition, he demanded Major Anthony to put the chains on Mr. Lambert, and to chain him to the floor. Major Anthony asked him what the matter was. Mr. Macauley began what sounded like a very plausible story of his encounter with Mr. Lambert.
When he stopped to catch his breath, he again ordered Major Anthony to send at once for Lambert, and place him in the guard house for threatening his life.
Major Anthony rang the bell; the sentinel came in. "Mr. Sentinel," ordered Major Anthony, "go at once to Mr. Lambert's and tell him I want to see him, immediately." When the sentinel told Mr. Lambert his mission, he prepared at once to go to the Major. While the sentinel was gone for Mr. Lambert, Mr. Macauley attempted to leave the office of Major Anthony before the return of the sentinel and Lambert, but Major Anthony refused to permit his exit, though he had twice attempted to leave before the arrival of Mr. Lambert. Mr. Macauley asked the Major why he could not accept his given word, as correct. But impartial Major Anthony assured him that to put a man in the guard house without a hearing, would be unfair. He said he would give Mr. Lambert a trial. Mr. Macauley grew furious, and told the Major that if he wanted to take Lambert's word for this occurrence, instead of his, that he would go, and he arose to leave the room, but Major Anthony restrained him. Major Anthony said: "Now, Mr. Macauley, you sit down and cool off, and remain seated, until the completion of this trial between yourself and Mr. Lambert." At this juncture, Mr. Lambert and the sentinel appeared in the doorway. Mr. Lambert advanced, with a salute, said: "At your service, Major Anthony, what can I do for you?" Said Major Anthony: "You can tell the cause of this disturbance between yourself and Mr. Macauley. Mr. Macauley has already made his statement, and I want to hear what you have to say." "Major," said Mr. Lambert, "will you not let Mr. Macauley state the facts to you again, in my presence, regarding this affair?" Mr. Lambert then drew his pistol out of his scabbard, laid it on the table across from Mr. Macauley, and politely requested Major Anthony to permit Macauley to tell him the exact truth of the matter in controversy, beginning from the time he had entered his premises, with his vile proposition, until the time of his hasty departure, from his house.
Mr. Lambert turned to Macauley with a little quick, nervous jesture, saying: "Macauley, you tell Major Anthony the truth, and if you mince words, and do not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I will kill you."
Mr. Macauley called on Major Anthony for protection, but the Major only replied, that he saw no need for protection, that all he had to do was to tell the truth in the matter, and that he would vouch for Mr. Lambert's peaceableness. "Now," said Major Anthony, "you may proceed with your story. The truth is your best trick, and I must get it off my hands, be quick about it."
Mr. Macauley began the narrative with many a jerk and start, Major Anthony was judge and jury, Mr. Lambert was a quiet spectator, but his wonderful eyes kept the witness on the right track, until he had almost completed his story and attempted to evade part of the conversation. Lambert turned his commanding eyes upon the culprit, demanding that not one iota of that proposition be left out of his recital. Brought to bay, Macauley had nothing to do, but confess his crime and the proposition made Mr. Lambert, but his nerve had broken loose and he was a whining, puny puppy.
"Now, Mr. Lambert," said Major Anthony, "I am much obliged to you and you can go to your quarters." Major Anthony again rang for the sentinel and told him to bring the sergeant of the guard house to him.
When the sergeant came. Major Anthony turned to Macauley and told him that he was dismissed from the post as agent of the Indian Supplies, and he, himself, would have to be the commissioner until the government appointed some one to supercede him. When the Major turned Macauley over to the Sergeant, he told him to take the "thief" to the guard house and to see to it that he did not escape.
A few days after this episode, Major Anthony notified the Indians to come and receive their annuities, as far as possible, from the remains. Then he gave the Indians to understand that it was the intention of the government, that they be fairly dealt with, and follow the terms of the treaty made by Colonel A.G. Boone.
That night the Indians had a big celebration, dancing, singing, yelling and horse-racing, and signified that they now had a better feeling toward the white race—that of brother—now that Major Anthony had settled their grievances by removing Mr. Macauley from the commission.
Major Anthony reported Mr. Macauley's conduct to headquarters at Leavenworth, and the Leavenworth authorities came after him, but through the white-washing of some one, this reprobate went scot free.
After the Chivington Massacre on Sand Creek, the War Department was greatly disturbed over the action of the Indians. Colonel Ford, who was stationed at Fort Larned, was ordered to patrol the country on the western boundary of Kansas and eastern Colorado, about half way between the Arkansas River and the North Platte. He started out with 500 fully equipped soldiers and proceeded about 350 miles to the northwest, and without finding signs of Indians, he went into camp.
In the month of October, in the year of 1863, William Poole of Independence, Missouri, pack master of a mule train, discovered a few smokes circling their camp, and told Colonel Ford of his find. Mr. Ford made light of it, but the First Lieutenant of one of the companies said that he was going to take every precaution possible, to protect his valuable horse, and that he would not let it go out to range with the mules.
Mr. Poole tethered all his mules, that is, tied their forefeet about 18 inches apart, so they could walk around and graze, but not run, and placed double guard over the animals.
At two o'clock in the morning, five Indians with Buffalo robes swinging in the air, gave the war whoop and stampeded the soldiers of Colonel Ford, and took every horse, but that belonging to the fastidious Lieutenant. Every soldier nursed his "sore head" and had no consolation, but to tell how slick those "red devils" relieved them of their horses.
When the horses were gone, the soldiers had no further use of their saddles and blankets. Colonel Ford ordered them burned so the Indians could not profit by them. However, this was an error on the part of the Colonel, as will be seen. All the horses and saddles would have been returned in due time. Three weeks after Ford's experience in the Indian country, an old Indian and his squaw came riding into Fort Larned on two of the horses, which they traded off for nuts, candy, sugar and more candy, and were highly pleased over their exchange. They had no use for the large horses because they could not stand the weather as well as their Indian ponies. They grinningly told the storekeeper they would return in "two moons" with more horses.
The Fort Riley Soldiers Go to Fort Larned to Horse Race With Cheyennes, Comanches and Kiowas.
The Indians are great people for sport and amusement and it would be difficult to imagine a more inveterate gambler. Their greatest ambition is to excel in strength and endurance.
Several times as our coaches meandered across the plains, we came upon the lodges of thousands of Indians, where the male population were trying their skill at horse-racing. Even the small boys, many times as many as fifteen or twenty, would be horse-racing and the chiefs would be betting upon their favorites.
For their race tracks, they dug ditches about four feet apart and threw up the sod and dirt between the ditches. The whole tribe then packed the ground in the tracks hard and smooth by riding their horses up and down those tracks to pack the dirt still more firmly. These tracks were generally one and one-eighth miles long. The Indians would then select a horse which they regarded as especially swift and banter the soldiers for a horse race, which the soldiers were quick to accept, if they were lucky enough to get a furlough. These Fort Riley soldiers always brought their best horses to Fort Larned to race against the Indians' race ponies.
Once during the summer of 1863 when there were only a few white people at Fort Larned, the Indians, about 15,000 strong, commenced preparation for a horse race between themselves and the Fort Riley soldiers. Everything was completed and the Indian ponies were in good trim to beat the soldiers. The Indians had placed their stakes consisting of ponies, buffalo robes, deer skins, trinkets of all kinds and characters, in the hands of their squaws. Then the Fort Riley soldiers came and the betting was exciting in the extreme, the soldiers betting silver dollars against their ponies, etc. The soldiers were victorious and highly pleased over the winnings. The Indians handed the bets over manfully and without a flinch, but one Indian afterward told me that they had certainly expected to have been treated to at least a smoke or a drink of "fire water;" but the soldiers rode away laughing and joking and promised the Indians to return in "two moons," perhaps "three moons," in response to their invitation. I was at this race and joined in the sport. Everything was as pleasant as could be. There was no disturbance of any kind and the soldiers took their "booty" and, as a matter of fact, did not even invite the Indians to smoke a consolation pipe.
During the fall of 1863 a small band of Comanches and Kiowas went to Texas and procured a white faced, white footed, tall, slim black stallion for racing purposes. In elation they notified the Fort Riley soldiers to come again. This time, not only did the Fort Riley soldiers come, but citizens from all over the whole country for a distance of from 300 to 500 miles came to see the fun. There were from twenty to thirty thousand Indians there, and the Indians who invited them prepared to take care of a large crowd in good style, so confident were they that this time "the pot" would be theirs. They had hunted down, killed and dressed some fifty or sixty buffalo, and had them cooking whole, in the ground—barbecuing the meats. This time the putting up of the bets before the races came off was still more exciting than at the previous race, for the Indians had from 500 to 1,000 ponies to put up. The white men matched their money against the ponies of the Indians. The race had begun. As it proceeded, shouts of "Hooray, hooray," the Indians' black stallion is ahead, 100 feet in advance of the soldiers' horse, he goes. The race is won, and the black stallion stands erect and excited, proud and defiant, and has won the laurel for his man, and seems to know that the trophy is theirs. All had placed their bets in the hands of the squaws for the spokesman, Little Ravin, the orator and regular dude of the Arapahoes, gave the white people to understand that everything would be safe in the hands of the squaws he had selected to hold stakes. These squaws proved true to their trust. After the distribution of the winnings, Little Ravin told the soldiers to stay and eat. Everybody grew merry. The soldiers went to the government dining room there at Fort Larned and got all the knives and forks they could rake and scrape together and took them to the barbecue. When the Indians saw that the white people had entered into the banquet with such enthusiasm and zest they went to the settlers' store and bought two or three hundred dollars worth of candies, canned goods of all kinds, crackers, etc., to make their variety larger. They also bought 50 boxes of cigars with which to treat the citizens and soldiers. When everything was in readiness for the feast, the white men all stood up near the feast with a few of the greatest chiefs of the several tribes, while the other Indians who were not acting as waiters, to see that the choicest pieces of buffalo meat were given their guests, stood in a ring back of the white guests, and did not attempt to satisfy their hunger until after the whites had demonstrated that they had feasted to the brim. This was one of the most amusing incidents of my life on the frontier, and the Fort Riley boys felt that in this treatment, they had been dealt a blow to their own generosity, and one of the soldiers acting as spokesman, told the Indians that they were ashamed of their own lack of hospitality when they were the winners of the other race. This pleased the Indians greatly, and they fell an easy victim to the duplicity of the soldiers and made a contract to sell their black stallion racing horse to them for the sum of $2,000, which sale was to be completed 60 days later if the soldiers still wanted the purchase of the horse, at which time they were to notify the Chief, and he was to bring or send him to Fort Riley. This was a great sacrifice, but the ignorant Indian was not aware of it. During the 60 days before the Indian brought the horse in and received their money one soldier went up to St. Joe and sold this horse, so I have been told for the sum of $10,000 in cash, but for the truth of this statement I will not vouch.
It is a picturesque sight to watch the Indians move camp. Their trains often covered several hundred acres of land. The Indians usually move in a large body, or band. Their moving "van" consists of two long slim poles placed on each side of a pony, made fast by means of straps tanned by the squaws from buckskin and buffalo hides. About six or seven feet from the ponies' heels are placed two crossbars about three or four feet apart, connected by weaving willow brush from one crossbar to the other, between these shafts, or poles, hitched to the pony. Upon this woven space or "hold" are placed the household goods, the folded tents or tepees, and lastly, their children and decrepit Indians.
It is not unusual to see several thousand of these strange vans moving together, their trains being sometimes three or four miles in length. Then their politeness might also be spoken of, for while it is true that they have a traditional politeness, it is not a matter of history. Their sledges were never in the public road but at least 10 to 20 rods outside of the road in the sage brush and cactus, leaving the road free for the Stage Company's mail coach.
In all the different books I have ever read, I have never seen one word of praise for any courtesy the Indians gave us during those frontier days, but instead I find nothing but abuse. The Indian is the only natural born American and the only people to inhabit North America before the discovery by Columbus. This land we so greatly love rightfully belonged to the Red Man of the forest, and it is my opinion that they had as much right to protect their own lands as do we in this century. The novelists howl about the depredations committed by the Indian, but their ravings are made more to sell their books and to create animosity than for any good purposes.
The Eastern people eagerly read everything they found that abused the Indians, and the Indians in those days had no presses in which to make known their grievances. The only thing left was to get vengeance wherever he found a white man. "To me belongeth vengeance and recompense." Personally I blame the press for loss of life to both the Indian and the white men, for having schooled the white man erroneously. Travelers crossing the plains were always on the defensive, and ever ready to commence war on any Indian who came within the radius of their firearms. When I was a boy I read in my reader: "Lo, the cowardly Indian." The picture above this sentence was that of an Indian in war paint, holding his bow and arrow, ready to shoot a white man in the back.
The novelists write many things of how Kit Carson shot the Indians. Kit Carson was a personal friend of mine, and when I read snatches to him from books making him a "heap big Indian killer," he always grew furious and said it was a "damn lie," that he never had killed an Indian, and if he had, that he could not have made the treaties with them that he had made, and his scalp would have been the forfeit. At one time Kit Carson went on an Indian raid with Colonel Willis down into Western Indian Territory. He volunteered to go with Colonel Willis to protect him and his soldiers, and at this very time Colonel Henry Inman tells of Kit Carson being on the plains of the Santa Fe Trail, with a large company of soldiers under his command, shooting Indians.
This is a mis-statement of Colonel Inman. Kit Carson never had a company of soldiers, was not a military man, and at no time raided the Indians. As will be seen in another chapter of this book, he was simply a scout and protector for the soldiers. Like Dryden, however, "I have given my opinion against the authority of two great men, but I hope without offense to their memories." Kit Carson said that the Indian, as a people, are just as brave as any people. Their warriors were not expected to go out as soldiers with a commanding officer, but each was to protect himself. That, in their opinion, was the only way to carry on war.
Major Carleton Orders Colonel Willis to Go Into Southwestern Indian Territory and "Clean Out the Indians." Kit Carson Volunteers to Go With Colonel Willis as Scout and Protector.
In June, 1865, two or three settlers coming from the border of the Indian Country along the Texas and Arizona line, into Santa Fe, planned to hunt and kill all the game on the reservation without consulting the Indians. This occasioned trouble and one white man was killed. General Carleton, in command of all the Southwestern country, stationed at Santa Fe, heard about the killing, and without attempting to understand the position the Indians held, or in any way to find out the cause of trouble, sent an order to Colonel Willis, who was stationed at Fort Union, to take his 300 California Volunteers to this reservation and to "Clean out the Indians." His order was imperative. It did not say for him to endeavor to find out the cause of the death of this white man, but to go at once into their camp and to massacre, confiscate anything of value, and have no mercy on the Redskins, who had slaughtered a white man who was "only hunting" on the Indian reservation.
When Colonel Willis got this order he said to me that he knew absolutely nothing about the Indian mode of warfare, and that he was fearful of getting his soldiers all killed, and he wished that Kit Carson would go with him, but that he would not ask him to do so because he knew that Carson would disapprove of the orders he had from Colonel Carleton.
President Polk appointed Kit Carson to a second lieutenancy and his official duty was to conduct the fifty soldiers under his command through the country of the Comanches, but for some reason the Senate refused to confirm the appointment, and he consequently had no connection with the regular army.
When Colonel Willis had his soldiers all in trim and was about to leave Fort Union, Kit Carson, who had been watching him from a nail keg upon which he was sitting, came up to him and slapped Willis' horse on the hip, saying: "Willis, I guess I had better go with you; if you go down there alone, them red devils will never let you return." "Kit," said Colonel Willis, "That is what I want you to do, and we will wait for you." But Kit Carson needed no time to prepare, he threw his saddle on and told Colonel Willis that he was ready without any delay. At about 10 o'clock in the forenoon the company left Fort Union, carrying one cannon and plenty of ammunition. At about daybreak on their second day out, they came upon a village of 100 or more tents camped on about the line of New Mexico and Arizona. There were Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, Utes, Arapahoes and some Apaches in this village. Colonel Willis said to Kit Carson that it was about time to "try their little canon," but Kit Carson told Col. Willis "No." Kit asked Col. Willis to show him his orders, which by the way he had not seen before volunteering to come with Willis. When Carson read the order he was startled. It had never occurred to him that a man of Col. Carleton's reputation would be so unjust. Now said Kit Carson to Col. Willis, "Suppose we send out some runners and bring the chiefs to us and see what occasioned all this trouble that caused Gen. Carleton to give such orders." Col. Willis said he had no such orders as that from Carleton, and the only thing he could do was to "beard the lion in his den" because his orders were strict, they said to go and kill the Indians wherever he found them and he would be compelled to obey orders. The consultation between Col. Willis and Brevet Kit Carson almost amounted to an argument. Kit Carson declared that his orders should have read "in your discretion, etc.," and that it was not advisable to take life in this manner, "but since you must obey orders," Brevet Gen. Kit Carson said, "Fire away, if every mother's son of you lose your scalp."