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´╗┐Title: Dangers of the Trail in 1865 - A Narrative of Actual Events
Author: Young, Charles E. (Charles Edward), 1846-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: DANGERS OF THE TRAIL--1865]


IN 1865

A Narrative of Actual Events




Press of W. F. Humphrey, Geneva, N. Y.
H. DeF. Patterson, Illustrator, Geneva, N. Y.


I present this narrative of actual events on a trip across the plains
to Denver, Colorado, in 1865 and of life in the Far West in the later

An interesting and valuable feature is a map of the country, made in
1865, by Henry Bowles of Boston, showing the old Platte River and
Smoky Hill Trails of that day before there was a railroad west of the
Missouri River.

Everything is told in a plain but truthful manner, and this little
volume is submitted to the reader for approval or criticism.

                    CHAS. E. YOUNG
July, 1912


CHAPTER I--Young Man, Go West

CHAPTER II--Arrival at Fort Carney

CHAPTER III--An Attack by the Indians

CHAPTER IV--Denver in 1865

CHAPTER V--A Proof of Marksmanship

CHAPTER VI--On to Leavenworth

CHAPTER VII--A Plucky German

[Illustration: (decorative)]



[Illustration: E] Early in 1859 gold was discovered in Colorado, and
Horace Greeley, the well known writer and a power throughout the
country both before and during the Civil War, made, in the interest of
the _New York Tribune_, of which he was editor, an overland trip to
Denver by the first stage line run in that day. He started from
Leavenworth, Kansas, and with the exception of Mr. Richardson, of the
_Boston Journal_, was the only passenger in the coach. The trip was
not all that could be desired, for they met with numerous hardships
and many narrow escapes, as did hundreds of others who had preceded
them over that dangerous trail, many never reaching their
destination--having met death at the hands of the cruel Indians of the

During his stay in Denver Mr. Greeley wrote a number of letters to the
_New York Tribune_, confirming the finding of gold in the territory
and advising immigration. The people in the East were skeptical in
regard to its discovery and awaited a written statement from him to
this effect.

At the close of the war Mr. Greeley's advice to young men, through the
columns of his paper, was to go West and grow up with the country, and
it became a byword throughout the State of New York and the Nation,
"Young man, go West and grow up with the country."

Could Mr. Greeley have foreseen the number of young lives that were to
be sacrificed through his advice, I think he would have hesitated
before giving it; yet, it was the most valued utterance of any public
man of that day for the settlement of the then Far West.

After reading a number of these letters in the _New York Tribune_, I
became very enthusiastic over the opportunities that the West offered
for the young man. There was also a loyal friend of mine who became as
enthusiastic over it as myself. Thus, while we were still so young
as to be called boys, we made up our minds to follow Mr. Greeley's
advice, and "Go West and grow up with the country."

[Illustration: _MAP OF TRAILS

In making our purchases for the trip we were obliged to make our plans
known to an acquaintance, who at once expressed a desire to accompany
us. After consultation, we consented and at the appointed time, the
fore part of July, 1865, just at the close of the Civil War, we
boarded a New York Central train at the depot in Geneva, N. Y., with
no thought of the hardships and dangers we would be called upon to

The first night found us at the Falls of Niagara--the most stupendous
production of nature that the country was known to possess at that
time. Our time was divided between the American and Canadian sides,
viewing the grand spectacle at all hours, from the rising to the
setting of the sun; and, awed by the marvelous masterpiece of
grandeur, we were held as if fascinated by its beauty, until we were
forced to leave for the want of food and to replenish our commissary.
When we boarded the cars to be whirled through the then wilds of Lower
Canada, we were liberally supplied with the best the country produced.

Upon the fifth day we rolled into Chicago, the cosmopolitan city of
the West. Two days later we reached Quincy, Ill., where we made
connection with the old Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad which was to take
us through Missouri to Atchison, Kansas. Missouri, after the war, was
not an ideal state for a law abiding citizen, much less for
inexperienced youths of our age, and we quickly realized that fact.
Many stations had their quota of what was termed the Missouri
bushwhacker, or, more plainly speaking, outlaws, who, during the war
and for some time after, pillaged the state and surrounding country,
leaving in their wake death and destruction. They had belonged to
neither side at war, but were a set of villians banded together to
plunder, burn, ravage and murder young and old alike; as wicked a set
of villians as the world has ever known. At many stations they would
nearly fill the car, making it very unpleasant for the passengers.
Their language and insults caused every one to be guarded in
conversation. The condition of the road, however, often gave us
relief, as we were obliged to alight and walk, at times, when arriving
at a point where ties or rails had to be replaced. Its entire length
showed the carnage and destruction of war, making travel slow and
dangerous as well as uncomfortable. On reaching the state of bleeding
Kansas and the then village of Atchison we were about used up. We at
once called at the Ben Holiday Stage Office and inquired the price of
a ticket to Denver, but finding it to be beyond our means, we decided
to go by ox conveyance.


We were not long in finding what, in those days, was called a tavern,
located in the outskirts of the town. Having been chosen spokesman, I
stepped up to the rough board counter and registered. We were soon
confronted by the toughest individual we had yet seen. I pleasantly
bade him good morning but received no immediate recognition, save a
wild stare from two horrible, bloodshot eyes. I quickly came to the
conclusion that we were up against the real Western article, nor was I
mistaken. He didn't keep up waiting long, for he soon roared out an
oath and wanted to know where we were from. After telling him as near
as I possibly could, under the circumstances, he again became silent.
His look and brace of revolvers were not reassuring, to say the least.
He soon came out of his trance and did not keep us long in suspense,
for his next act was to pull out both of his life-takers, and, not in
very choice language, introduce himself as Commanche Bill from
Arkansas, emphasizing the Arkansas by letting the contents of both of
his instruments of death pierce the ceiling of his story and a half
shack. I have wondered many times since that I am alive. We had been
told by a fellow passenger that Atchison was a little short of Hades,
and we were fast realizing that our informer was not far out of the
way; yet, it was a haven in comparison to other places at which we
were yet to arrive. Commanche William, or whatever his right name
might have been, was a different person after his forceful

He began to question me. He asked me if we had any money.


"Any friends?"


"Well, then you had better get straight back to them, for if you
remain in these parts long, they will be unable to recognize you.
Where are you fellows headed for, anyway?"

"Denver, Colorado."

"By stage?"

"No, sir. By ox or mule conveyance."

"You are too light weight. No freighter will hire you."

"They will or we'll walk."

"You will not walk far for the Indians along the Platte are ugly. By
the way, do you pards ever take anything?"

Not wishing to offend such a character, I gave my companions the wink
and we followed him into the bar-room with the full determination of
making a friend of him. After all had done the sociable act--of course
gentlemen only drink for sociability sake--I took him to one side
purposely to draw him into a little private chat, and it was not long
before his self-conceit had the better of him. He ordered grub--as all
meals were called in the West in those days--for four, stating he was
in need of a bite himself. Before the meal had been finished, I became
convinced that the old fellow had a tender spot in his makeup, like
all tough outlaws, and, if one had tact enough to discover it, he
might have great influence over him; otherwise, we would be obliged to
sleep with both eyes open and each with his right hand on the butt of
his revolver.


The following day was passed in taking in the town and Indian
Reservation, which was but a short distance from the place. There we
came, for the first time, face to face with the American Indian, the
sole owner of this vast and fertile continent before the paleface
landed to dispute his right of ownership. Foot by foot they had been
driven from East, North and South, until at that time they were
nearly all west of the great Missouri River, or River of Mud, as the
Indians called it. At the suggestion of our landlord, we took with us
an interpreter, a few trinkets, and something to moisten the old
chief's lips. Upon our arrival we were duly presented to the chief,
who invited us to sit on the ground upon fur robes made from the pelts
of different animals, including the antelope and the buffalo, or
American bison, the monarch of the plains, and each one of us in turn
took a pull at the pipe of peace. We then made a tour of their lodges.
When we returned, the chief called his squaws to whom we presented our
gifts, which pleased them greatly. To the old chief I handed a bottle
of Atchison's best. As he grasped it, a smile stole over his ugly
face, and with a healthy grunt and a broad grin, he handed me back the
empty bottle. Indians love liquor better than they do their squaws. In
return he gave me a buffalo robe which later became of great service.
After taking another pull at the pipe of peace, we thanked him and
took our departure, having no desire to be present when Atchison's
invigorator commenced to invigorate his Indian brain.

The impression made by that visit to a supposedly friendly tribe, who
at that time had a peace treaty with the government, was not one of
confidence. The noble red men, as they were called by the Eastern
philanthropist, were as treacherous to the whites as an ocean squall
to the navigator. No pen or picture has or can fully describe the
cruelty of their nature.

It was dusk when we reached our tavern, and we found it filled with a
lawless band of degenerates, as repulsive as any that ever invested
Western plains or canyons of the Rockies. We were at once surrounded
and by a display of their shooting irons, forced to join in their
beastly carnival. It was not for long, however, for a sign from the
landlord brought me to his side. He whispered, "When I let my guns
loose you fellows pike for the loft." There were no stairs. No sooner
had he pulled his life-takers than all the others followed his
example. Bullets flew in every direction. Clouds of smoke filled the
room, but we had ducked and scaled the ladder to the loft and safety.
Sleep was out of the question until the early hours of the morning,
for the night was made hideous by blasphemous language, howls of pain
and the ring of revolvers. The first call for grub found us ready and
much in need of a nerve quieter, which the old sinner laughingly
supplied; but no word from him of the night's bloody work. Taking me
to one side, he said, "Take no offence, but repeat nothing you hear or
see in these parts, and strictly mind your own business and a fellow
like you will get into no trouble." I thanked him and followed his
advice to the letter during my entire Western life.


After that night's experience, we decided to pay our bill and become
acclimated to camp life. We had taken with us a tent, blankets and
three toy pistols, the latter entirely useless in that country, which
proved how ignorant we were of Western ways. We were not long in
finding a suitable camping spot a mile from the town and the same
distance from the many corrals of the great Western freighters and
pilgrims, as the immigrants were called. For miles we could see those
immense, white covered prairie schooners in corral formation. Hundreds
of oxen and mules were quietly grazing under the watchful eyes of
their herders in saddle. It was certainly a novel sight to the

We soon had our tent up and leaving one of our number in charge the
other two went to town for the necessary camp utensils and grub.
Immediately on our return supper was prepared and the novelty enjoyed.
After a three days' rest I started out to make the rounds of the
corrals in search of a driver's berth. All freighters had a wagon boss
and an assistant who rightfully had the reputation of being tyrants
when on the trail, using tact and discretion when in camp. A revolver
settled all disputes. On approaching them they treated me as well as
their rough natures would permit; but I did not take kindly to any of
them. They all told me that I was undersized, and too young to stand
the dangers and hardships of a trip. I returned to camp much
disappointed but not discouraged.

The following morning we proceeded to the large warehouses on the
river front, where all Western freighters were to be found. In those
days all emigrants and oxen and mule trains with freight going to the
far Western Territories would start from either Council Bluffs, Iowa,
Leavenworth, Kansas, Atchison or St. Joe, Missouri; Atchison being the
nearest point, a large majority embarked from there. The freight was
brought up the Missouri River in flat-bottom steam-boats, propelled by
a large wheel at the stern, and unloaded on the bank of the river. The
perishable goods were placed in the large warehouses but the
unperishable were covered with tarpaulin and left where unloaded. They
were then transferred to large white covered prairie schooners and
shipped to their different points of destination in trains of from
twenty-five to one hundred wagons. The rate for freighting depended on
the condition of the Indians and ran from ten cents per pound up to
enormous charges in some cases.


After making application to several of the freighters and receiving
the same reply as from the wagon bosses, we went a short distance down
the river to the last of the warehouses. On our approach we discovered
a genuine bullwhacker--as all ox drivers were called in that day--in
conversation with a short, stout-built fellow with red hair and
whiskers to match. The moment he became disengaged I inquired if he
was a freighter. He said that he was and that he wanted more men. His
name was Whitehead, just the opposite to the color of his hair, and as
I stepped up to him I wondered what kind of a disposition the
combination made--whitehead, redhead. I at once made application for a
position for the three of us. In rather a disagreeable voice, he asked
me if I could drive. I replied that I could.

"Can you handle a gun and revolver?"


"How many trips have you made?"


"Then how the devil do you know you can drive?"

"For the simple reason I am more than anxious to learn, and so are my
friends." Then I made a clean breast of the position we were in and
urged him to give us a chance.

"Well," he said, "You seem to be a determined little cuss; are the
rest of the same timber?"

I told him they were of the same wood but not of the same tree.

After thinking the matter over, he said, "I'll tell you what I will
do. I will hire the big fellow for driver at one hundred and
twenty-five dollars per month, and the little fellow for night herder
at one hundred dollars a month, and yourself for cook for one mess of
twenty-five men and for driver in case of sickness or death, at one
hundred and twenty-five dollars a month."

We then gave him our names, and, in return, he gave us a note to Mr.
Perry, his wagon boss. We at once started for his corral, two miles
distant, where we found the gentleman. He asked where our traps were.
We told him, and also assured him that we would report for duty the
following morning.

When we reached our camp we were completely tired out, but passed the
remainder of the day in celebrating our success, and feeling assured
that if we escaped the scalping knife of the Indians, we would reach
Denver in due time, and, when paid off have a nice sum in dollars.

The following morning we had an early breakfast, broke camp, and
reported at the corral where each was presented with two revolvers and
a repeating carbine. I was then taken over to the mess wagon which was
liberally supplied with bacon (in the rough), flour, beans, cargum (or
sour molasses), coffee, salt, pepper, baking-powder and dried apples;
the latter we were allowed three times a week for dessert. There was
also a skillet for baking bread, which resembled a covered spider
without a handle.

When the assistant cook, with whom I was favored, had started the fire
and sufficient coals had accumulated, he would rake them out and
place the skillet on them. As soon as the dough was prepared, a chunk
was cut off and put in the skillet, the lid placed and covered with
coals; in fifteen minutes we would have as nice a looking loaf of
bread as one could wish to see, browned to a tempting color. When
eaten warm, it was very palatable, but when cold, only bullwhackers
could digest it. An old-fashioned iron kettle in which to stew the
beans and boil the dried apples, or vice versa, coffee pots, frying
pans, tin plates, cups, iron knives and forks, spoons and a
combination dish and bread-pan made up the remainder of the cooking
and eating utensils.


It seemed that my assistant was exempt from bringing water, which
often had to be carried in kegs for two miles, so he fried the meat
and washed the dishes. I soon caught on to the cooking, and doing my
best to please everyone, soon became aware of the fact that I had many
friends among the toughest individuals on earth, the professional
bullwhackers, who, according to their own minds, were very important
personages. Their good qualities were few, and consisted of being a
sure shot, and expert at lariat and whip-throwing. They would bet a
tenderfoot a small sum that they could at a distance of twelve feet,
abstract a small piece from his trousers without disturbing the flesh.
They could do this trick nine times out of ten. The whips consisted of
a hickory stalk two feet long, a lash twelve feet in length with buck
or antelope skin snapper nine inches in length. The stalk was held in
the left hand, the lash coiled with the right hand and index finger of
the left. It was then whirled several times around the head, letting
it shoot straight out and bringing it back with a quick jerk. It would
strike wherever aimed, raising a dead-head ox nearly off its hind
quarters and cutting through the hide and into the flesh. When thrown
into space, it would make a report nearly as loud as a revolver. A
lariat is a fifty foot line with a running noose at one end and made
from the hide of various animals. It is coiled up and carried on the
pommel of the saddle. When used for capturing animals or large game,
it is whirled several times around the head when the horse is on a
dead run and fired at the head of the victim. A professional can place
the loop nearly every time.

During the third day of corral life, the steers arrived, and the hard
work, mixed with much fun, commenced. A corral is about the shape of
an egg, closed by the wagons at one end, and left open to admit the
cattle at the other, then closed by chains.


Our wheelers and leaders were docile, old freighters, the others were
long-horned, wild Texas steers. All of the freighters had their oxen
branded for identification, using the first letter of his last name
for the purpose. The brand was made from iron and was about four
inches in height, attached to a rod three feet in length. A rope was
placed over the horns of the animal and his head was drawn tight to
the hub of a heavy laden prairie schooner. A bullwhacker, tightly
grasping the tail of the beast, would twist him to attention. The man
with the branding implement heated to a white heat would quickly jab
the ox on the hind quarter, burning through hair and hide and into the
flesh. Then, after applying a solution of salt and water, he was left
to recover as best he could. The brand would remain in evidence more
than a year unless the steer was captured by cattle thieves, who
possessed a secret for growing the hair again in six months. When the
branding was completed, each man was given twelve steers to break to
yoke, and it was three long weeks before we were in shape to proceed
on our long Western tramp. The cattle were driven in each morning at
break of day, the same time as when on trail. Each man with a yoke on
his left shoulder and a bow in his right hand would go groping about
in almost total darkness to select his twelve steers. When they were
all found he would yoke them and hitch them to the wagons; the
wheelers to the tongue, the leaders in front and the balance to
section chains. For days we were obliged to lariat the wildest of them
and draw their heads to the hubs of the heavily laden wagons, before
being able to adjust the yoke, many times receiving a gentle reminder
from the hind hoof of one of the critters to be more careful. I went
into the fray with the full determination of learning the profession
of driver and at the tenth day I had broken in a team of extras.


I was then taken sick and for two long weeks kept my bed of earth
under the mess wagon, with no mother or doctor, and two thousand miles
from home. You may be able to imagine my feelings, but I doubt it. At
the end of the second week Mr. Perry came and told me they would make
a start the next afternoon and, in his judgment, he thought it unwise
to think of making the trip in my present condition. I knew my
condition was serious, but I would rather have died on the road, among
those outlaws, than to have been left in Atchison among entire
strangers. They were all very kind and did what they could for me, but
were powerless to check my fast failing strength. I had wasted to less
than one hundred pounds in weight and was too weak to even lift an

I pleaded with Mr. Perry for some time and finally overcame his
objections. "Well," he said, "Charlie, I will fix a bed in my wagon
and you can bunk with me." I objected, for I did not wish to
discommode him in the least and told him a good bed could be fixed in
the mess wagon. "As you will," he said, and had the boys get some
straw which together with the Buffalo robe made a very comfortable bed
when not on the move.


The next day they picked me up and put me in the second or reserve
mess wagon. Shortly after that the start was made. We had covered less
than two miles when all of a sudden I heard the rumbling of distant
thunder. Very soon rain began to patter on the canvas covering of my
wagon. Then Heaven's artillery broke loose and the water came down in
torrents. Never in my young life had I witnessed such a storm. It
seemed as if thunder, lightning and clouds had descended to earth and
were mad with anger. The racket was deafening. Between the angered
claps could be heard the cursing of those Missouri bushwhackers, who,
in their oaths, defied the Almighty to do his worst and hurled
unspeakable insults at the memory of the mothers who gave them birth.
I knew they were trying hard to make corral; whether they could do it,
rested entirely with the wagon boss.

The cattle were crazed with fright and the moment they were loose,
would certainly stampede. The oxen were finally unyoked and such a
snorting and bellowing, it would be impossible to describe. As the
racket died away in their mad race, my thoughts turned to my chum, who
I knew was with them, and would be trampled beyond recognition by
their death-dealing hoofs, if he had not gained his proper position in
the rear.

[Illustration: LOG CABIN IN KANSAS]


At that juncture the front flaps of my wagon were parted and at a
flash I recognized two of the men, who bore me across the way to the
"Old Log Cabin" on the extreme edge of the then Western civilization.
As they laid me down I swooned from sheer exhaustion and fright.
Before I had become fully conscious I heard that gruff old wagon boss
telling the good woman of the cabin to spare nothing for my comfort.
She felt of my pulse, asked me a few questions and assured him that
she would soon have me on my feet. He bade "God bless me," and passed
out into the dark and stormy night. The good woman poked up the fire
and placed an old-fashioned, iron tea-kettle in position to do its
duty. At that juncture a young miss about my own age came from
somewhere, as if by magic, and was told by the good mother to prepare
a chicken, that she might make broth for the sick young man, pointing
to where I lay. For two hours that good mother worked over me, now and
then giving me draughts of hot herb tea, while the daughter deftly
prepared nature's wild bird of the prairie, occasionally shooting
darts of sympathy from her jet black eyes. When the bird had been
cooked, the meat and bones were removed leaving only the broth which
was seasoned to a nicety and given me in small quantities and at short
intervals until early morning, when I passed into dreamland with the
mother keeping vigil as though I were her own son. When I awoke I felt
refreshed and comfortable, and found her still at my side, doing for
me that which only a mother can.

At daybreak I heard footsteps above; presently the father and son came
in. The daughter was called and breakfast was prepared. They told me
that our cattle had stampeded and it might be days before they were
found. After a three days search my chum and the cattle were overtaken
miles from camp, but none the worse for their fearful experience. The
moment he arrived he came to see me. I was sitting up for the first
time, wrapped in Indian blankets, but very weak. I assured him that I
would certainly get well, emphasizing the fact, however, that had we
not run into that fearful storm, making my present haven of care
possible, I could never have recovered, and believed that the prayers
of a loving mother at home had been answered.


He then related his experience with those storm-maddened cattle. The
first clap of thunder awoke him, and when the rain began he knew he
was in for a bad night, and had taken every precaution to supply
himself with all things needful. His description of the storm and mad
race to keep up with those wild animals, crazed with fright, was
enough to congeal the blood of a well man, and in my condition it
nearly unnerved me. But I was delighted to know that he was safe, for
we were like brothers. His safe arrival, together with the motherly
care I had received and was receiving, put me rapidly on the gain. Not
a morning passed that the daughter did not shoulder her trusty rifle
and go out in search of some refreshment for me, always returning with
a number of chickens of the prairie. She was a sure shot, as were the
entire family, for they were all born and brought up on the border,
moving farther West as the country became settled. From the father I
learned the treachery of the Indians, their mode of warfare and
different methods of attack; in fact, I had the devilish traits of the
noble red men--as history called them--down to a nicety.

When the daughter's day's work was done, she would read to me and
relate stories of her life, which reminded me of the "Wild Rose" in
all its purity and strength.

The fifth day after the cattle were found the train broke corral and
proceeded on its long Western tramp. Before leaving, Mr. Perry made
arrangements with the old borderman for me to overtake them as soon as
I was able.

[Illustration: THE MARCH OF DESTINY]

The fourth day after the train had left, I made up my mind that I
would start the next morning at sunrise and so informed my Western
friends, whom, I felt, had saved my life. The old borderman expressed
regret at my leaving and informed me that both he and his son would
accompany me to camp. I thanked him and assured him that I felt a
mother could not have done more for her own son than his wife had for
me--they had all shown me every consideration possible--and that I
should always remember them, which I have. At this juncture the mother
spoke up gently, but firmly, and addressing her husband, said, "If you
have no objection, daughter will accompany Mr. Young. She is a sure
shot, a good horsewoman, and the horses are fleet of foot. We have not
heard of any Indians in the neighborhood for some time, and besides
she wants to go and the ride will do her good."

He replied, "My good woman, you cannot tell where the Indians are,
they may be miles away today, but here this very night."

"That is true," she said, "but the stage driver told me that he had
not seen a redskin since crossing the Nebraska line."

"That may be," he replied, "still they may have been in the bluffs, or
sand hills watching their opportunity to surprise one of the many
small trains of pilgrims, thinking to overpower them, run off their
cattle and massacre all."

"Yes, that is all true, but I'll wager they could not catch our girl."

After thinking silently for a few moments, he said, "Well, if you
wish, she may go; but if anything happens to our little one, you alone
will be blamed."

That settled it. We talked long after father and brother had bade us
good night. Mother and daughter finally retired; but, as for myself, I
was nervous and restless, sleeping little, thinking of home and loved
ones; not, however, forgetting the little "Wild Rose" that was
separated from me only by a curtain partition.

The following morning we were up at break of day, and at just 5:30 on
a lovely August morning the horses were brought to the door and both
quickly mounted. Her riding habit of buckskin, trimmed with colored
beads, was the most becoming costume I had ever seen on her during my
stay, and for the first time I wished that I were not going, but it
was for a moment only.


My destination was Denver, and nothing could change my plans except
death in the natural way, or being cut down by those treacherous
plains roamers. After a pleasant ride which lasted till noon, we came
in sight of the corral. When within a quarter of a mile of it, she
informed me she was going no farther. Both quickly dismounted. Our
conversation would not interest you. Suffice to say, the parting was
painful to both. I bade her good-bye and she was off like a flash. I
walked slowly into camp, now and then turning to watch the fast
retreating figure of as brave a prairie child as nature ever produced.
The men appeared glad to see me; the gruff old wagon boss more so than
any of the others, for he would not let me turn my hand to any kind of
work until I was able. Then I did my best to repay him for his many

At 2 o'clock that afternoon the train broke corral, and for the first
time I realized the slowness of our progress, and the long trip before
us. Under the most favorable circumstances we could not make over ten
miles a day and more often at the beginning three, five and seven.

Our bed was mother earth, a rubber blanket and buffalo robe the
mattress, two pairs of blankets the covering, Heaven's canopy the
roof; the stars our silent sentinels. The days were warm, the nights
cool. We would go into camp at sundown. The cattle were unyoked and
driven to water. After grub the night herder and one of the drivers
would take them in charge, and if there were no Indians following,
would drive them to a good grazing spot over the bluffs.

We passed through Kansas, after crossing the Little and Big Blue
rivers, and part of Nebraska without seeing another log cabin or
woods. Every fifteen or twenty miles there was a stage station of the
Ben Holiday coach line, which ran between Atchison, Kansas, and
Sacramento, California. At every station would be a relay of six
horses, and by driving night and day would make one hundred miles
every twenty-four hours. They were accompanied by a guard of United
States soldiers on top of coaches and on horseback.

[Illustration: FORT CARNEY, NEBRASKA, 1859]



[Illustration: A] Arriving at Fort Carney we struck the Platte River
trail leading to Denver. We were compelled by United States army
officers to halt and await the arrival of a train of fifty armed men
before being allowed to proceed. In a few hours the required number
came up, together with three wagon loads of pilgrims. No train was
permitted to pass a Government fort without one hundred well-armed
men; but once beyond the fort, they would become separated and therein
lay the danger.

A captain was appointed by the commander of the fort to take charge.
Here we struck the plains proper, or the great American desert, as it
was often called, the home of the desperate Indians, degraded
half-breeds, and the squaw man--white men with Indian wives--who were
at that time either French or Spanish; also the fearless hunters and
trappers with nerves of steel, outdoing the bravest Indian in daring
and the toughest grizzly in endurance. It is a matter of record that
these men of iron were capable and some did amputate their own limbs.
A knife sharpened as keen as a razor's edge would cut the flesh;
another hacked into a saw would separate the bones and sensitive
marrow; while an iron heated to white heat seared up the arteries and
the trick was done. There was no anesthetic in those days.

There were also the cattle and mule thieves who lived in the bluffs,
miles from the trail of white men, a tough lot of desperadoes,
believing in the adage "Dead men tell no tales."

There were the ranchmen at intervals of twenty, fifty and a hundred
miles, who sold to the pilgrims supplies, such as canned goods,
playing cards, whiskey of the vilest type, and traded worn-out cattle,
doctored to look well for a few days and then give out, thus cheating
freighters and pilgrims alike.

These adobe ranches were built of sod cut in lengths of from two to
four feet, four inches in thickness and eighteen inches in width and
laid grass side down. The side walls were laid either single or
double, six feet in height, with the end walls tapering upward. A long
pole was then placed from peak to peak and shorter poles from side
walls to ridge pole. Four inches of grass covered the poles and the
same depth of earth completed the structure making the best
fortifications ever devised; no bullet was able to penetrate their
sides nor could fire burn them. The poles used for building these
adobe ranches were in most cases hauled two hundred miles and in some
cases three hundred miles.


On a graceful slope roamed immense herds of buffalo, bands of elk,
thousands of antelope, herds of black-and white-tail deer and the
large gray wolf. Coyotes about the size of a shepherd dog would
assemble on the high bluffs or invade the camp and make night hideous
by their continuous and almost perfect imitation of a human baby's
cry, making sleep impossible. The prairie dog, the fierce rattlesnake,
and the beautiful little white burrowing-owl, occupied the same hole
in the ground, making a queer family combination. Contrary to the
belief of all dwellers and travelers of the plains in that day,
Colonel Roosevelt claims it is not a fact that the three mentioned
animals occupied the same quarters together, and that the story is a

The little prairie dogs had their villages the same as the Indians. I
have frequently seen a prairie dog come out and return into the same
hole in the ground. I have also seen a beautiful little white owl
silently perched at the side of the same hole and finally enter it,
and a few moments later a fierce rattlesnake would crawl into the same
hole. Whether it was the snake's permanent abode and it went in for a
much needed rest, or whether it was an enemy to the others and the
snake went in for a game supper of prairie dog puppies and owl squabs,
departing by another route, I am unable to say, as I never took the
trouble to investigate one of the holes to confirm the fact. If I had,
I would in all probability still be digging. However, in this case, I
am inclined to give Colonel Roosevelt the benefit of the doubt for the
reason that if nature had not created an enemy to check their
increase, the prairie dog would now over-run the country, as they
multiply faster than any known animal, and are very destructive to the
farm. The Government, through its agents, have destroyed thousands
every year in the West by distributing poisoned grain. Last, but not
least, of the life of the plains was the Pole Cat. Conscious of his
own ability to protect himself, he would often invade the camps at
night, making the life of the sleeper miserable.


After leaving Fort Carney our troubles began. Many of the drivers were
as treacherous as the Indians and would bear watching. One of them in
our mess was a former bushwhacker, who bore many scars of his former
unsavory life, one of which was the loss of an eye, which did not make
him a very desirable acquaintance, much less a companion. He was of an
ugly disposition, very seldom speaking to anyone and very few taking
the trouble to speak to him. At times he acted as if he had been
taking something stronger than coffee, but as we had not camped near
any ranch where the poison could be procured, I came to the conclusion
that he was a dope fiend. In some mysterious manner we had lost one of
our cups, and at each meal for a week it fell to the lot of this
particular bushwhacker to get left. He at last broke his long silence,
and in anger with oaths, vowed he would not eat another meal without a
cup, and would certainly take one from somebody, if obliged to. As
soon as the call for grub was heard the next morning, all rushed
simultaneously for a cup, and Mr. Bushwhacker got left again. Without
ceremony he proceeded to make good his threat, the second cook being
his victim.


For his trouble he received a stinging blow over his good eye, and was
sent sprawling in the alkali dust. Not being in the least dismayed, he
rushed for another and received a similar salute on the jaw, doubling
him up and bringing him to the earth. By this time both messes joined
in forming a ring and called for fair play. Mr. Perry tried hard to
stop it, but was finally convinced that it was better, policy to let
them have it out. How many times the fellow was knocked down, I do not
remember, but the last round finished him. We carried him to the shady
side of his wagon, covered him with a blanket and resumed our meal. On
going into corral, we always took our revolvers off and placed them
where they could easily be reached. We had been eating but a short
time, when the report of a gun rang out and each man fairly flew for
his weapons. Indians seldom made an attack except at early morning,
when the oxen were being yoked or when we were going into corral at
night. To the surprise of everyone Mr. Bushwhacker had taken another
lease of life and with a revolver in each hand was firing at anyone
his disturbed brain suggested. He was quick of action, firing and
reloading with rapidity, and soon had the entire camp playing hide and
seek between, around and under the wagons to keep out of the range of
his guns, which we succeeded in doing, for not a man was hit. Finally,
two of the drivers succeeded in getting behind him and overpowered
him. His brother bushwhackers were in for lynching him on the spot,
but wiser council prevailed, and his disposal was left to Mr. Perry
who sentenced him to be escorted back three miles from the corral and
left to walk the remaining two miles to Fort Carney alone. He covered
less than a mile when he was captured by the Indians. I was obliged
then to drive his team. A few evenings later my chum and friend were
lounging by the side of my wagon smoking, and otherwise passing the
time away, when finally the conversation turned to the departed driver
who by that time had undoubtedly been disposed of by the Indians--not
a very pleasant thought--but we consoled ourselves with the fact that
no one was to blame but himself. My chum inquired the contents of my
prairie schooner, and I replied that I did not know, but would
investigate. Suiting the action to the word I crawled in, struck a
match, and found a case labeled Hostetters' Bitters. Its ingredients
were one drop of Bitters and the remainder, poor liquor. I soon found
a case that had been opened, pulled out a bottle and sampled it. The
old story came to me about the Irish saloonkeeper and his bartender. I
called my chum and asked him if Murphy was good for a drink, he
replied, "Has he got it?" "He has?" "He is then!" and we all were. I
thought it would be impossible for the secret to be kept, but it was
until we were on the last leg to Denver. The entire load consisted of
cases of the Bitters. Fights were of frequent occurrence during the
remainder of the trip, Mr. Perry being powerless to prevent them.

Arriving at Central City where the Bitters were consigned, the
consignee reported to the freighter that the load just received
consisted of one-half Bitters, the remainder Platte river water. Each
man had twenty dollars deducted from his pay, and a large number of
the drivers, in addition, bore earmarks of its effect.

The country from Fort Carney for four hundred miles up the Platte
river valley and back from the high bluffs, that skirted the river on
either side, was one vast rolling plain with no vegetation except a
coarse luxuriant growth of grass in the valley near the river and
beyond the bluffs; in spots that were not bare grew the prickly pear,
and a short crisp grass of lightish color and of two varieties--the
bunch and buffalo grasses--which were very nutritious, as the cattle
thrived and grew fat on them. There was the clear sky and sun by day,
with an occasional sandstorm; the moon (when out) and stars by night,
but no rain--a vast thirsty desert. On the small islands of the river
a few scattered cottonwood trees were to be seen. Their high branches
embraced a huge bunch of something that resembled the nest of an
American Eagle, but on close inspection was found to be the corpse of
a lone Indian a long time dead. This was the mode of burial of some of
the tribes in the early days, using fur robes or blankets for a
casket. There was nothing to relieve the monotony in this desert land,
except desperate Indians, immense herds of animal life, daily
coaches--when not held back or captured by the Indians or mountain
highwaymen--returning freight trains, and the following points where
there were adobe ranches: Dog Town, Plum Creek, Beaver Creek,
Godfrey's, Moore's, Brever's at Old California Crossing and Jack
Morrow's at the junction of the north and south Platte, Fort
Julesburg, Cotton Wood and the Junction, each one hundred miles apart,
and John Corlew's and William Kirby near O'Fallow's Bluffs. It was
said of these ranchmen that some were honest and some were not; others
were in league with the Indians, and cattle and mule thieves, and, as
a rule, a bad lot. They traded supplies to the Indians for furs of
every kind. The winter passed in hunting, trapping, drinking, and


O'Fallow's Bluffs was a point where the river ran to the very foot of
the bluffs making it necessary for all of the trains to cross, then
again strike Platte river trail at Alkali Creek, the waters of which
were poisonous to man and beast. The trail over the bluffs was of
sand, and those heavily ladened, white covered prairie schooners would
often sink to the hubs, requiring from fifty to seventy-five yoke of
oxen to haul them across, often being compelled to double the leading
yoke as far back as the wheelers, then doubling again, would start
them on a trot, and with all in line and pulling together, would land
the deeply sunken wheels on solid ground. It took one entire day to
again reach river trail, which was hard and smooth. O'Fallow's Bluffs
was a point feared by freighters and emigrants alike. At this point
many a band of pilgrims met destruction at the hands of the fiendish
redskins of the plains. Directly upon going into camp at night a party
of them would ride up, demand coffee, whiskey, or whatever they
wanted, and having received it, would massacre the men and children,
reserving the women for a fate a thousand fold worse, as they were
very seldom rescued by the tardy government, whose agents were
supplying the Indians with guns, ammunition and whiskey to carry on
their hellish work unmolested. When captured, which was seldom, were
they hung as they deserved? No, the chief with a few others, who stood
high in the councils of the tribe, were taken by stage to Atchison,
Kansas, there transferred to luxuriantly equipped sleeping cars of
that day, and whirled on to Washington; and, in war paint and feather
and with great pomp, were presented to their great white father (the
President) as they called him.


They were then taken in charge by Representatives of the Indian
department of the Government, that in those days was honeycombed with
corruption from foundation to dome; a disgraceful and blood-stained
spot in the Nation's history. Day after day and night after night they
were shown the sights of that great city. The capitol of a free and
growing Republic whose people respected the Constitution their fathers
had drafted, signed and fought for. Day after day and night after
night they were courted, dined, toasted and wined until they had
become sufficiently mellow to be cajoled into signing another peace
treaty, and were then given money and loaded down with presents as an
inducement to be good. They were then returned to the agency at the
Fort, having been taken from there and back by those red-nosed,
liquor-bloated Indian Department guardians of the United States
Government and were freely supplied with whiskey until they were
willing to part with their cattle, furs, and beaded goods at
extremely low figures, in exchange for provisions, guns, ammunition,
and liquor at fabulously high prices. Robbed of their money and
presents, and in this condition allowed to return to their village,
where when they become sober, they would quickly awaken to a realizing
sense of how they had been deceived, swindled and robbed.

What could you expect from those copper-colored savages of the soil
after such treatment? With no regard for the treaty they had signed,
they would resume the warpath. Revenge, swift and terrible, was meted
out to the innocent pilgrims and freighters who had left home,
comforts and friends. Hundreds sacrificed their lives by horrible
tortures in their heroic efforts to settle the West, unconscious that
they were making history for their country and the nation, great.

With no respect for the United States Government, with no respect for
the flag with its cluster of stars and stripes of red, white and blue
that fired the heart of every living American soldier to win victory
at Valley Forge, which gained our independence, Antietam, and San Juan
Hill, saved the nation, reunited the union of states in lasting
friendship, lifted the yoke of tyranny from an oppressed people; and,
as if with one stroke, swept from the high seas two powerful naval
squadrons--the pride of the Spanish nation.

Washington, Lincoln and McKinley were backed by the old glory that
electrified every loyal American with patriotism to respond to the
call of duty for the love of their country and the "Star Spangled
Banner," that at that time fluttered high above the parapet of every
Government fort as an emblem of protection to all that were struggling
on and on over that vast expanse of unbroken and treeless plain; can
you wonder then that the unspeakable crimes and mistakes of the
Government of those days still rankle in the breast of every living
man and woman that in any way participated in the settlement of the
West? If you do, look on the painting of the terrible annihilation of
the gallant Custer and his five companies of the Seventh U. S.
Cavalry with the old chief, Sitting Bull, and his band of Sioux
Indians on the Big Horn River, June 25, 1876, from which not a man
escaped to tell the tale, and you may form some conception of the
hardships, suffering, and cruelties inflicted on the early pioneer. It
was left for the resourceful Remington to vividly portray life and
scenes of those days, perpetuating their memory on canvas and bronze
for all time. The name of Frederick Remington should not only go down
in history as the greatest living artist of those scenes, but his bust
in bronze should be given a place in the Hall of Fame as a tribute to
his life and a recognition of his great worth.



[Illustration: O] O'Fallow's Bluffs was the most dismal spot on the
entire trail. Its high walls of earth and over-hanging, jagged rocks,
with openings to the rolling plain beyond, made it an ideal point for
the sneaking, cowardly savages to attack the weary pilgrims and
freighters. The very atmosphere seemed to produce a feeling of gloom
and approaching disaster. The emigrants had been repeatedly instructed
by the commander at Fort Carney to corral with one of the trains. Many
of the bullwhackers were desperate men, so that the poor pilgrims were
in danger from two sources, and very seldom camped near either corral.
Our consort was a day's drive in the rear. That evening the emigrants
camped about a half mile in advance of our train. It was at this
point, when unyoking our oxen at evening that a large band sneaked
over the bluffs for the purpose, as we supposed, of stampeding our
cattle. They did not take us unawares, however, for we never turned
cattle from corral until the assistant wagon boss surveyed the
locality in every direction with a field glass, for the tricky redskin
might be over the next sand hill.


Fifty good men could whip five times their number, especially when
fortified by those immense white covered prairie schooners in corral
formation. On they came in single file, their blood-curdling war whoop
enough to weaken the bravest. Closer they came, bedecked in war-paint
and feathers, their chief in the lead resembling the devil incarnate
with all his aids bent on exterminating as brave a band of freighters
as ever crossed the plains. Nearer they came, their ponies on a dead
run, the left leg over the back, the right under and interlocking the
left, firing from the opposite side of them, ducking their heads,
encircling the camp and yelling like demons. Their racket, together
with the yelping of their mongrel dogs and the snorting and
bellowing of the cattle, made it an unspeakable hell. Every man stood
to his gun, and from between the wagons, at the command of the wagon
boss, poured forth with lightning rapidity his leaden messengers of
death. For about an hour they made it very interesting for us. It was
almost impossible to hit one as they kept circling the camp, drawing
nearer with each circle made. How many were killed we did not know as
they carried them off, but from the number of riderless ponies, a
dozen or more must have been dispatched to their happy hunting
grounds. During the fight a portion of them bore down on the poor
pilgrims' camp, in plain sight, and massacred all, running off their
cattle and such of their outfit as they wanted.



Mothers with babes at their sides and with uplifted, clasped hands,
implored the cruel warriors for mercy, but it was like pouring water
on the desert sands. Crazed by thirst for blood and the scalps of the
whites, they knew no mercy. The hatchet-like tomahawk glittering in
the evening twilight, held with a vice-like grip in the hand of a
cowardly savage, came down at last with such force as to crush through
skull and brain, and all was over. We were powerless to render
assistance. The scene was heartrending. The depredations of these
savages is too revolting to relate, and after completing their hellish
work, they sneaked back as they came, keeping up their sickening yell
until distance drowned it entirely. Few days passed that they were not
seen as evening approached, and after dark we were able to know that
they were in the vicinity, watching their opportunity to surprise us
at early morning, by signal arrows of fire shot into the heavens to
make known their whereabouts to companions. Could these silent bluffs
of sand but unfold the butchery and unspeakable outrages inflicted on
innocent men, women and children, could the trail through the valley
of the Platte, and even more dangerous trail of the Smoky Hill give up
its secrets, it would reveal a dark page in the history of our
Government, which was directly responsible for a great deal of it;
responsible in so far as sending unscrupulous peace commissioners to
the different agencies to make treaties of peace with tribes of
Indians, and who kept them just long enough to become liberally
supplied with provisions, clothing, guns, ammunition and whiskey, then
ravish and murder in the most diabolical manner pilgrims and
freighters alike. On both trails many a silent monument of stone was
all that remained of their cruel depredations. Such was not the
uncommon work of the fiends, known to readers of fiction as the noble
red men of the plains. More dastardly cowards never existed. Their
struggles against destiny have long since been broken, and the
offspring of those cruel warriors are being educated by a gracious

The monotony of that lonesome and tedious tramp was enlivened only by
fights among the men, and an occasional lay-over for a day to set the
tires of the many wagons, having had no rain to keep them tight
during the entire trip after leaving Atchison, Kansas.

With many encounters and bearing scars received from warring tribes of
Indians, we tramped along in moccasin covered feet, now and again
throwing our long lashed whips with such force as to awaken the
dead-head ox to life and quicker action.

Day after day the same scenery faced us; yet, it was an experience
never to be forgotten. We passed Fort Julesburg and Cottonwood with
the loss of but three men, arriving late at night after a forced drive
at the junction or division of the two trails leading to Denver. The
distance to Denver by the "Cut-off" was seventy-five miles; by the
river route one hundred miles; but as water was to be found only at
long distances on the former, all cattle trains took the river route.

It was early in November, the nights and mornings were cold and
frosty, the air exhilarating. We were up the next morning at the usual
time, and as the sun rose in all its splendor and warmth, one hundred
miles in the far away distance could be seen with the naked eye, the
gigantic range of the Rockies whose lofty snow-capped peaks, sparkling
in the morning sun, seemed to soar and pierce the clouds of delicate
shades that floated in space about them, attracted, as it were, by a
heavenly magnet. It was a sight I had not dreamed of, and one that
made an impression on my young mind to last through life.


When about ten miles from Denver--so we at least thought, and fearless
of danger, my chum and myself obtained permission from Mr. Perry to
walk to the city over the rolling ground. We tramped until the sun was
well up in the heavens. One would think it but a few miles to those
mighty and solemn mountains of rocks, so deceptive was the distance,
yet, they were twenty miles beyond the city. At noon we knew we had
made ten long miles and were completely tired out. We were on the
point of taking a rest when I urged my chum to cross the next knoll,
and if the city did not loom up we would halt. We did so and to our
surprise and joy were right in the city of Denver, the "Mecca" of
nearly all Western freighters and distributing point for the far
Western territories. It seemed to have risen beneath our feet. The
grand old range of mountains with their sky-soaring pinnacles and
scenic background of grandeur, together with the surrounding
landscape, made it the sight of one's life. Our sixteen mile walk and
previous seventy days' living on a diet of bacon, beans, and dried
apples, certainly placed us in condition for a civilized meal.

We were directed to a first-class restaurant, both in price and
quality of food. We were about famished, and to satisfy our hunger
seemed impossible. We ate and ate, and probably would have been eating
yet, had not the waiter presented us with a ticket demanding a five
dollar gold piece from each, when we decided we had better call a
halt, if we intended to remain in the city over night.


On walking up the street we stepped into the first hotel we came to,
the old "Planters," registered, paid for our supper, lodging and
breakfast. When about to leave the hotel, who should walk in but a
Genevan by name, Michael C. Pembroke, with his arm in a sling. He had
been propelled across the plains by mules, and one of the ugly brutes
had broken his right arm with one of his ever active hoofs. I asked
Michael why the mule kicked him? He replied, "Charlie, I may look
foolish but was not fool enough to go back and ask him." Never
approach a Missouri mule from the rear, for there certainly will be
trouble if you do. He asked if we had any money.

We replied that we would have when paid off.

He advised us to go direct to the Ben Holiday stage office and buy a
ticket for the States as soon as we received our pay, as Colorado was
no place for boys.

[Illustration: MICHAEL C. PEMBROKE]

At his suggestion we started out to do the town, and came very near
being done ourselves. Colorado at this time was a territory with a
Governor appointed by the President. Law, except as executed by a
vigilance committee, did not amount to much more than the word. If one
wished to depart life in full dress, he could be accommodated by
simply calling another a liar or cheat at gambling. If desirous of
taking a long rest by being suspended by the neck from a limb of the
only tree in Denver at that time, which was on the west side of Cherry
Creek, all he had to do was to appropriate to himself an ox, mule, or
anything of value, and the vigilance committee would manipulate the

The gambling places, which occupied long halls on the ground floor of
tall buildings--nearly always on the business street of the city--kept
open until the small hours of morning. There was always a brass band
in front, and a string band, or orchestra, in the extreme rear, so if
one wished to dance, he could select a partner of most any
nationality; dance a set, step up to the bar, pay two bits or
twenty-five cents for cigars, drinks or both and expend his balance
on any game known to the profession, which games occupied either side
of the long room.

We had been in the place less than fifteen minutes when bang went a
revolver and on the instant the room was in total darkness. I
mechanically ducked under a table. Where my companions were, I knew
not; I began to think that Mike's advice was about correct, and before
emerging wished more than once I was back in my home. When the lights
were turned on, I discovered my chum occupying a like berth of safety
on the opposite side of the room.

Mike had evidently followed his own advice and taken his departure,
for he was nowhere to be found. The band struck up a lively tune; the
fiddles, a waltz; dancing began, gold and chips commenced to fly, and,
if I had not passed through the ordeal, I never would have known
anything had happened. The dead were quickly disposed of, the wounded
hurried to physicians, and old timers gave it no further thought, as
it was of frequent occurrence, and one soon became hardened. Denver
at that time was a hotbed of gambling, with murder and lynch law a
secondary pastime. Not being deterred by our experience, we continued
our sightseeing, ending up at the only theatre in the city, afterwards
called the "Old Languish."


The following afternoon our train reached town and we joined it during
the evening to be ready for an early start for Golden City, the
entrance to the mountains leading to Black Hawk and Central City where
our freight was consigned. The most hazardous part of our trip was
before us, one that to this day makes me shiver when I think of it.
The first team entered the canyon at 11 A. M. in a blinding snowstorm.
The road for nearly the entire distance was hewn from solid rock out
of the side of steep mountains, gradually ascending to a great height,
then descending to what seemed a bottomless canyon. We finally arrived
at Guy Hill, the most dangerous part of the route. It took us one
entire day to reach its pinnacle, where we camped for the night. The
road at the top was cut through solid rock at a height of twenty feet,
seven feet in width and led to a steep precipice. It then made a sharp
turn to the right and, in a serpent shape drive, continued to the
canyon below. At this point it was said to be fifteen hundred feet
straight down, and a number of outfits had previously gone over its
rocky edge and been hurled to destruction by a slight error of
judgment on the part of the driver.

The cold and snow, together with summer clothing, made our suffering
indescribable. The following morning I started in the lead of the
train with a nine thousand pound boiler, with the rear wheels securely
locked, and twenty yoke of oxen to haul it to the edge of the
precipice. Then discarding all but the wheelers and leaders, we began
the descent. There was not room enough on either side for the driver
to walk. He generally rode the off ox, but I took my position on the
rear of the wagon tongue and found it decidedly the safest place in
case of an accident. By night all wagons were safely in the canyon
below. The road for nearly the entire distance presented the same
dangers, taking ten days to reach our destination from Denver, the
entire trip occupying eighty days.


On receiving our pay, which was our promised salary less twenty
dollars for the Hostetter's Bitters, my chum and myself decided to go
direct to Denver, our friend remaining in the Mountain City. We
boarded a Concord coach with six snow-white horses to wheel us on a
dead run over and around steep mountains and through dismal canyons,
first on four wheels, then three, then two and occasionally one,
keeping us constantly busy retaining our seats and fearing at every
turn that we would be dashed into eternity; and yet, it was one of the
most picturesque and thrilling rides one could take. Being tossed from
side to side in the roomy coach, now and then grabbing a fellow
passenger with desperation, gazing down from lofty peaks to yawning
chasms below, hearing the crack of the long-lashed whip urging the
noble steeds to faster speed, turning the rough, ragged,
serpent-shaped drive, thundering through clouds and mist with
lightning rapidity, and always in constant terror of a breakdown or
error on the part of the fearless driver, gave one a sensation that
would nearly make his hair stand on end. During the descent a slight
error on the part of the horses or driver, would have hurled all to a
horrible death; but those mountain drivers, strapped to their seats,
were monarchs of the Rockies and unerring in every move. From among
the snow-covered glaciers sparkling in the morning sun, emitting the
many tints of a midday storm-bow and presenting a sight of unsurpassed
grandeur, we emerged from the mouth of the last canyon and struck the
smooth rolling trail. All the way from Golden we were going, it
seemed, on the wings of the wind and were landed in Denver on
scheduled time.



[Illustration: I] In that period Denver was appropriately called the
"City of the Plains." Situated sixteen miles from the base of the
nearest Rocky Mountain peak, and six hundred and fifty miles from
Atchison, Kansas, the nearest town to the East; while seven hundred
miles to the west loomed up as from the very bowels of the earth, the
beautiful city of the Mormons, Salt Lake City, Utah. The nearest
forts--two hundred miles distant--were Fort Cottonwood to the
northeast, Collins to the north and Halleck to the northwest. Its
northern limits extended to the South fork of the Platte River; Cherry
Creek running through one-third, dividing it into East and West
Denver. Its population numbered about five thousand souls. Here was to
be found the illiterate man--but a grade above the coyote--lawbreakers
of every kind and from every land, to men of culture and refinement.
Here it stood, a typical mining town, a monument to the indomitable
energy of man in his efforts to settle that barren and almost endless
plain and open to the world the Rocky's unlimited hidden gold. Here
were brick structures modern for that day, the brick being made from
the soil of the territory; a United States mint, a church, a school
house, large warehouses, stores, and the home of the _Rocky Mountain
Daily News_, which kept one partially in touch with happenings in the
faraway states. Isolated from the outside world, it was an ideal place
of refuge for those anxious to escape the outraged law. Knights of the
green cloth held full sway. Men in every walk in life gambled. A dead
man for breakfast was not an uncommon heading for the menu card, the
old tree on the west bank of Cherry Creek furnishing the man. Society
was just a little exclusive and to gain admission the pass was, "Where
are you from?" and in some cases, "Your name in the East."

Desperadoes made one attempt to lay the city in ashes and certainly
would have accomplished their purpose had it not been for the timely
action of the Vigilance Committee in hanging the ring-leaders. When
the guilt of a suspect for any crime was in doubt, he was presented
with a horse or mule and ordered to leave between sun and sun and
never return. During my four years of residence in Denver there was
but one Indian scare and it made a lasting impression on the tablet of
my memory. A church bell pealed forth the warning over the thirsty
desert of an Indian attack. Business places were closed, the women and
children were rushed to the mint and warehouses for protection, armed
men surrounded the city, pickets on horseback were thrown out in every
direction. Couriers kept thundering back and forth between picket line
and those in command and others were despatched to the different Forts
for assistance that never came. A look of determination stood out on
the face of every one and not a man, from clergyman to desperado,
within the confines of the city who would not willingly have given up
his life's blood to protect the honor of the women and lives of the
little ones. For three weary days and the same number of nights the
terrible suspense lasted, but no Indian came. It was a false alarm.

Denver, in its early settlement, was never attacked by the Indians
except in isolated cases. The only reason that I ever heard given for
their not doing so was that they knew not their strength, for there
was no time in the sixties that they could not have swooped down on
the place, massacred all and buried the little mining town in ashes.


For a young man to obtain work other than oxen or mule driving, we
were told, was simply impossible. Not being deterred, however, by this
discouraging information we at once started out to secure work. Board
was twenty-five dollars a week in gold, and you had to furnish your
own sleeping quarters, so not to secure work at once would quickly
reduce our wealth. We had called on nearly all of the business
places, when my chum secured a position with a grocer and freighter.
As for myself, I received little encouragement but finally called at a
large restaurant where I was offered work. I told the proprietor it
was a little out of my line, but he told me that if I could not find a
position to suit me, I should walk in at any time, pull off my coat
and go to work, which I did three days later. About the tenth day the
proprietor told me his lease expired and that the man who owned the
building was going to conduct the business. He came in that afternoon,
and I was introduced to him. Before leaving he stepped into the office
and informed me that he wanted a man next to him; or, in other words,
an assistant and that the former proprietor had given me a good
recommend and he thought that I would suit him. He made me a tempting
offer and I accepted. The restaurant was located on Blake street, one
of the then principal business streets of the city, and kept open
until early morning as did the gambling places in the immediate
vicinity. I soon discovered that the new proprietor could neither read
or write and that he conducted one of the largest private club rooms
in the city where gambling was carried on without limit. He paid me a
large salary and allowed me everything my wild nature craved. I had
charge of the entire business as well as his bank account.

The restaurant was the headquarters of nearly all oxen and mule
drivers and also of the miners who came from the mountains in winter,
and were of the toughest type of men of that day. All professional
oxen and mule drivers after making one round trip to the river and
points in the far Western territories were paid off in Denver and many
of them would deposit with me, for safe keeping, a large share of
their dangerously and hard earned dollars. They would then start out
to do the town, now and then taking a chance at one of the many
gambling games, always returning for more money, which I would give
them; and this they would continue until all was expended except
enough to keep them a week, when sober, and a commission for doing the
business, for which I was careful to look out. An individual who bore
the name of "One Eye Jack" boarded with us and I could always depend
upon him in time of trouble. His vocation for a long time was a
mystery, until one evening, as I was passing down a side street, he
popped out from an alley and with uplifted blackjack would have felled
and robbed me had he not recognized the unearthly yell I gave. I
forgave him, and afterwards he doubled his energies to protect me and
on more than one occasion saved my life. When in his professional
clothes he was a tough looking customer and could fight like a bull
dog. He was always liberally supplied with someone else's money. Yet
with all his bad traits, his word was as good as his gold; but like
other similar individuals that infested Denver at that time, he
finally went to the end of his tether, and was presented by the
Vigilance Committee with a hemp collar that deprived him of his life.

Before his demise, however, a party of ten tough-looking individuals
entered the restaurant and, in forceful language, demanded the best
the country offered in eatables and drink. My friend, or
would-be-murderer, was in at the time and I noticed a look of cunning
pleasure steal over his rough countenance. The strangers were dressed
in corduroy trousers, velveteen coats, slouch hats and black ties.
Their shirts and collars of red flannel made a conspicuous appearance
and caused their undoing later. After seeing them well cared for, I
returned to the office and calling Jack inquired his opinion of the

"Well," he replied, "I may be mistaken but I will just bet you a ten
spot they are road agents." "Yes," I said, "I am inclined to agree
with you, but keep mum."

You may think it strange I did not give this bold highwayman away; but
life in those days was sweet and I had no desire to have that young
life taken so I followed Commanche Bill's advice and strictly minded
my own business. If I had not, I would not be living today.



Two mornings later on entering for breakfast one of the band had his
head done up in a bandage. From words he dropped I was satisfied that
Jack or one of his cronies had been improving their spare time by
relieving him of his over abundance of gold. The reckless manner in
which they disposed of their money and their conversation when flushed
with wine betrayed their true characters and stamped them a murderous
band of mountain highwaymen who had made their headquarters in the
fastnesses of the Rockies, near the overland mountain trail and there
devoted their time to holding up stage coaches, compelling the driver
with a shot from a carbine to halt, descend, disarm and be quiet. The
passengers were then ordered to alight and stand in a row, continually
being covered with guns by a part of the band and by others relieved
of their personal effects. Then the stage coach was systematically
gone through together with the Wells Fargo & Co's. safe, which often
contained gold into the thousands. These hold-ups were not infrequent
and were the fear of all who were obliged to pass through these
canyons of robbery and often death. The bunch that we harbored were
undoubtedly as bold a band of robbers and murderers as ever infested
the silent caves of the Rockies. Could their dingy walls but talk they
would reveal crimes unspeakable. I knew there were many strangers in
town and was almost certain their every movement was watched; nor was
I mistaken. The seventh day after their arrival a young school teacher
whom I knew by sight called at the restaurant and inquired by name for
one of the band. I asked if he knew him. He replied, no more than that
he had met him in one of the corrals of the city and had been offered
free passage to the States if he would do their cooking. I told him of
my suspicions and all I knew about them and advised him not to go with
them, but like many others he gave no heed. Two days later they were
missed at meal time. The next morning word came by courier that the
entire band including the school teacher were dangling by the neck
from the branches of cottonwood trees twelve miles down the Platte
River with their pockets inside-out and outfits gone. Thus was meted
out innocent and guilty alike the Vigilance Committee justice, which
was not of uncommon occurrence.


Mr. Pembroke secured a position at Black Hawk, Colorado, in the year
1865, with the first smelter works erected in the Rocky Mountains. He
was employed in the separating department where sulphur was freely
used, and he inhaled much of the fumes emitted therefrom, which was
the direct cause of a severe illness.

He fought retirement for a long time, but was finally forced to give

The latter part of February, 1886, he arrived in Denver on his way to
his home in Geneva, N. Y., but remained with me at the restaurant for
ten days where he was cared for and given the best of medical aid
available in those days.

He finally prevailed on a mule freighter to take him as a passenger to
Atchison, Kansas. Arriving at Fort Carney, Nebraska, he had a relapse
and was ordered by the Commander of the Fort to be placed in the Army
Hospital for treatment, where he remained until able to continue his
journey by stage to Atchison, thence by rail home.

He left Colorado with the full determination of returning on
recovering his health. A mother's influence, however, changed his
plans and he finally decided to remain in the East. He purchased a
grocery business and conducted it with great success until his death,
March 17th, 1910. By his strict attention to business, square dealing,
genial disposition and original wit, he gained the confidence and
respect of his fellow-men. He was buried in St. Patrick's cemetery in
his home city where a surviving sister has caused to be erected an
appropriate and costly monument to his memory.


I remained with the restaurant keeper one year, when through the
assistance of influential men that boarded at the restaurant, I
secured a position with a grocer. Shortly after entering his employ I
made the acquaintance of an ex-army officer, a graduate of West Point
and a well educated man, who afterwards became my boon companion. At
that time he was an ex-pork merchant from Cincinnati; an eccentric old
fellow without chick or child, and with plenty of money to loan at 3%
a month. He owned a large warehouse on Cherry Creek in West Denver
where he slept and did his own cooking. His evenings were passed at
the store and many were the nights that we told stories and otherwise
enjoyed ourselves. He was a silent member of the firm and I was wise
enough to keep on the right side of him. During that time the head of
the firm ran for Congress on the Democratic ticket. Such an election I
never want to see or go through again. Large wagons loaded with
barrels of all kinds of liquor on tap were driven from poll to poll.
Many more ballots were cast in each precinct than there were voters
and by night nearly the entire male portion of the inhabitants were a
drunken, howling mass. The outcome of the election resulted in the
Governor giving the Democratic nominee the certificate of election;
the Secretary of the territory favoring the Republicans. The Governor
left the city that night and never returned. The contest terminated in
a Republican Congress seating the Republican candidate, and Andrew
Johnson--then President of the United States--appointing the
Democratic candidate Governor of Colorado. A year from that time
General Grant was inaugurated, and shortly afterwards the Governor's
head went into the basket and mine fell on the outside.

On another occasion there was to be a prize fight at Golden City,
sixteen miles from Denver. My friend, the ex-pork merchant, I could
see was anxious to attend but did not wish to lower his standard of
dignity by doing so, so the subject was not mentioned save in a casual
way until the morning of the fight, when he entered the store,
puffing and blowing, stamping the floor with his hickory cane and
mopping his crimson brow with an old-fashioned bandana handkerchief,
said "Charley, let's go to that infernal fight. I don't approve of it,
but let's go."

"All right," I said. I was in for any kind of sport.


I left everything, locked the store and started out to procure a rig,
but found there were none to be had for love or money. The only
article of propulsion we could hire were saddle mules. Both quickly
mounted and on a slow trot started for the ring. We had been there
less than an hour when both of us became thoroughly disgusted and
started on the return trip. When about seven miles from Denver and
going at a lively pace--for a mule--the Major's animal stiffened both
front legs, and placing his hoofs firmly in the sandy road, permitted
the Major's chunky little body to pass over his head and through space
for about ten feet, landing, with much force, on his stomach. The
old fellow was an artist at curse words and the more I laughed the
more he cursed. He was a sprightly little fellow and on gaining his
feet grabbed for the bridle, but Mr. Mule shook his head, made a side
step, and the devil could not have caught him again until he reached
the barn. I dismounted and with much difficulty my friend scrambled
into my saddle, with myself on behind. But my long-eared critter
objected and the fun commenced. He bunted and kicked. All of a sudden
his hind quarters rose and like lightning his long lanky legs shot
high into the air. First, I went off, and on gaining a sitting
position with mouth, ears and eyes full of sand, I witnessed a
spectacle befitting the clumsiest bareback rider on one of their first
lessons. The old Major had both arms affectionately entwined around
the mule's thick neck and was hanging on with desperation. Up and down
went the hind quarters of that unkind brute, bunting and kicking, the
Major's little body keeping taps with the ups and downs and every
time he caught his breath he let out a war whoop that would do credit
to a Commanche brave. The old mule finally dumped him all in a heap
and followed his mate to Denver. Such an appearance as both presented,
each blaming the other for our misfortune and vowing we would never be
caught at another prize fight. Lame, bruised, and crestfallen, we
walked the remainder of the way into Denver. Each cautioned the other
to say nothing of our misfortune; but the two Mauds had carried the
news ahead, and we were the laughing stock of the town for the next
nine days.


At another time I was attending a performance in the "Old Languish
Theater," when from the stage I was informed I was wanted in the bar
room of the building, a necessary adjunct to all western theaters in
those days. Upon entering I was taken by the hand by one of those
trusty and warm-hearted stage drivers of the plains and Rockies, and
told that my chum had been caught in one of those treacherous mountain
snow storms on the Catchla Purder River two miles above La Port and
was badly frozen, and, if he didn't receive medical aid at once, could
not survive. I left the theater at once and commenced preparing plans
for the trip. I started unaccompanied the following afternoon at 2:30
o'clock on a one hundred fifty mile ride.


My conveyance was a long old-fashioned buggy. The buggy, which was
well filled with straw, blankets, medicine, grub, and a commissary
bottle, had two good roadsters hitched in front to wheel me to the
rescue of my friend or to an ignominious death. I had not only Indians
to fear, but the treacherous elements. The trail ran close along the
base of the mountains. It was a lovely May day. I was obliged to make
thirty-two miles that night to reach cover. Less than half of the
distance had been traveled when the wind veered suddenly to the north,
mild at first, then a hurricane of anger, roaring and blowing with
such force as to nearly upset the buggy. Dark clouds gathered and
floated around those silent peaks of ages. Lightning darted hither and
thither among the stalwart pines, which were creaking, bending and
crashing. Clap after clap of thunder pealed through and from those
dismal canyons, vibrating between Nature's slopes of granite, quartz
and rock. The din was fearful, rain fell at first, then turned to
snow. Just before it became dark I adjusted the front piece of the
buggy. My compass was useless. I urged my faithful steeds to faster
speed, and at the same time gave them the rein. As I did so, they left
the trail. Cold and chilled to the marrow or very bone, I took
frequent drafts from the commissary bottle, and fought with all my
power against sleep, but it was useless.

On gaining partial consciousness two squaws were bending over me
rubbing me with all their Indian strength and a third forcing
something warm down my throat. Men, rough of dress, were smoking and
playing cards. Revolvers, chips and gold was in front of each, with
plenty of the latter in the center of the table. I knew not if they
were friends or mountain highwaymen. Many claim that horses are dumb
brutes with no instinct, but that faithful pair on leaving the trail
avoided a long bend and made straight for the adobe stage ranch,
sixteen miles away. On reaching it, they ran the buggy-pole through
the only opening of that mud shack rousing the inmates to action and
bringing me to safety.

The large Concord coach filled with passengers soon arrived from
Denver, and owing to the severity of the storm, put up for the night.
The time was passed in smoking, drinking and playing cards. At six
o'clock the next morning the coach pulled up at the door. The storm
was over, but not the wind. The cold was intense. My team soon came
up, but their ears and noses were badly frost bitten and otherwise
showed the effects of the storm. I followed the coach but for a short
distance only, as the snow which was drifting badly obliterated the
trail. The six black horses on the coach were too much for my two bays
and soon left me far in the rear. My compass had been lost and by
noon I was back at the ranch I had previously left, the horses having
made nearly a complete circle without my knowledge. I secured another
compass and at nine o'clock that evening rolled into La Port, a city
of adobe ranches, and stage station, where I put up for the night. (A
place of two or three houses in those days was called a city.) I was
informed that my chum was two miles up the river and in bad shape. The
next morning I was up at day break. After grub I started and found my
companion quartered in a little old log cabin at the base of the
mountains, and being cared for by an aged squaw and her daughter--the
old buck being out caring for the cattle. My chum had encountered the
same kind of a storm as his rescuer, and unable to find his way was
obliged to remain out the entire night and only one hundred feet from
the cabin. Both of his feet were badly frozen. The Indians had done
everything possible for him. The daughter, for an Indian, was
extremely pretty, and I soon discovered that she was very much taken
with my chum. I applied the remedies which I had brought. Then the
little Indian maiden bundled him up, and with the promise that he
would return they parted.

We were at once off on the return trip and arrived at the stage ranch,
where I was cared for the previous night at just six o'clock. On
driving up to the door of the station all three of the reaches of the
buggy broke and gently dropped us to the ground. Fortunately there was
a blacksmith connected with the station and I assisted him through the
long night, forging reaches and repairing the buggy. At daylight we
were off, reaching Denver in safety at 3:30 that afternoon and making
the trip in just three days.

Both of my chum's feet had to be amputated at the insteps. He was very
grateful and quite conscious of the fact that true friendship still

Before leaving the governor's employ, I accompanied a mule train of
ten wagons with supplies for the Ute tribe of Indians who lived in
one of the parks of the mountains in the vicinity of Pike's Peak. The
Utes, at that particular time, were on friendly terms with the white
men as there was a treaty of peace existing between them and the



[Illustration: W] We took with us a Mr. Baker, who was conceded to be
one of the best guides, hunters, trappers and interpreters of that
day, with a heart as large as an American bison, and as tender as a
child's. But when his anger was aroused by danger or treachery, the
very devil seemed to possess him; he had the courage of a lion, and
was a dead shot. We had been friends for a long time, and on more than
one occasion he had proved a true one.

The park was an ideal summer resort, an extended plateau with acres of
fresh green grass, wild flowers, and virgin soil. In the center was a
beautiful lake, its ice cold water well stocked with the finny tribe
of speckled mountain trout, the delight of the angler. The park was
inclosed by mountains of great height and grandeur, their rocky
slopes were dotted with spruce, pine, and cottonwood, and capped with
ages of crystal snow, presenting a sight more pleasing to the eye than
the Falls of Niagara, and a perfect haven for an Indian maiden's love

We had been in camp but a few days when Mr. Baker informed me that the
young bucks, as the men of the tribe were called, wanted us to join in
shooting at a target. After Mr. Baker and myself had made a few bull's
eyes, they proposed we two should choose sides, and we did so. The
teams were very evenly matched, making the game interesting. In the
meantime, I had been presented to the chief in true Indian fashion and
in turn was made known by him to his squaw, young bucks and maidens.
The Indians had their tribal laws and customs as well as the white man
and were required to live up to them. The maidens were two in number,
their ages fourteen and seventeen moons respectively; the latter a
picture of Indian beauty, perfect in every feature, form and carriage,
a rare model for an artist. They were nearly always found together.
At first they were quite reserved, but finally we became fast friends;
we would ramble, hunt, fish from canoes and sail the placid waters of
the little lake.

Early on the morning of the tenth day Mr. Baker entered my tent with a
troubled look. I bade him good-morning and inquired the cause. Without
fencing, he asked me if I wanted to be a squaw man. I asked him what
the devil he was getting at.


He replied, "All there is to it, the old chief has taken a great
liking to you, and wants you to marry Weenouah, his oldest daughter.
He has plenty of money, and his horses and cattle run into four

"That is no inducement," I said, "and it could never be."

Mr. Baker asked, "How are you going to get out of it?"

I replied, "I have been in lots of tight places, as you know, and have
always managed to squeeze through, and I'll get out of this one in
some way."

Little did either of us dream at that time of the manner, or rather
the sacrifice, that one of us was doomed to bear, for me to escape the
wrath of the old chief, when informed I would not marry his daughter.
Fate decreed he was never to be so informed, but instead, a most cruel
and unfortunate accident was to provide the means.

That afternoon the young bucks were again anxious to test their skill
at the target. We all used the same carbine, which contained seven
cartridges, one in the gun barrel and six in a magazine in the butt of
the gun. Mr. Baker and I always tossed up a pebble to see who had
first shot. As Mr. Baker won the first chance, he took aim and pulled
the trigger and such an explosion as took place will never be
forgotten. Everyone was stunned by its force. When the smoke had
cleared, poor Baker's body was found lying on the ground with the
lower jaw torn from its place. On recovering from the shock the young
bucks fairly flew for the Indian medicine man. I quickly reached the
corral and informed the wagon boss of the accident. He at once ordered
the mules brought up. The light wagon was supplied with straw,
blankets, commissary bottle and grub. Six of the fastest mules were
hitched to the wagon and selecting two of the mulewhackers gave
instruction for his care en route. I took the lines and quickly drove
to the spot where poor Baker had fallen. Just as soon as the flow of
blood had been checked and his wounds dressed we raised him gently and
placed him in the wagon. Without a word I mounted the driver's box and
drove for all there was in those six mules, reaching Denver late the
following night. Some who read this narrative may be skeptical, but it
is a fact, nevertheless, that poor Baker recovered for I saw him a
year later, but he could partake of liquid food only. The once
stalwart form of that brave man, now emaciated and wasted to a mere
skeleton, still stood erect.


My whole heart went out to him who, in years past, had hunted the
antelope, deer, elk and buffalo; fought the cowardly savages and
desperadoes on the thirsty plains and amidst the ragged slopes of the
Rocky Mountains; penetrated the silent recesses of the dismal canyons
and caves; crossed the snow covered divides; faced danger of every
conceivable nature; and at last, although maimed for life, was
grateful that he had escaped death and thankful in the thought that he
had done his share in the settlement of the then Far West. As I gazed
into his once keen eyes and beheld that shriveled face, my heart wrung
with remorse, for I knew he had keenly suffered. Tears filled my eyes
and trickled down my weather-beaten and sun-tanned boyish face, and I
knew he accepted it as an emblem of my sorrow for being the innocent
cause, in a measure, of his cruel misfortune. Thus, by the flip of a
pebble was my life spared, but at the expense of a true friend.



[Illustration: T] The next summer I was not very well, and so I made a
trip to Leavenworth, Kansas, by the Southern or Smoky Hill route. We
made the trip by mule train of twenty wagons with six mules hitched to
each. The driver rode the nigh mule and with one line guided the team.
If he wanted the leaders to go to the right he simply jerked fast or
slow, depending on how quick he wanted to make the turn; if to the
left, a steady or quick pull. The Indians on this trail were more
numerous than on the Platte and scarcely a day passed that they were
not to be seen, and continually trying to drive off our stock. We did
not receive any great scare until we reached the Big Blue River where
on the fourth day of July at ten o'clock in the morning a large
Concord coach filled with passengers and a small guard of the United
States soldiers, which had previously passed us, were awaiting our
arrival before daring to proceed. On reaching the crest of the bluff
leading to the valley of the river we saw hundreds of Sioux Indians,
in war paint and feathers, camped on the opposite side in the
underbrush and woods, and in the main trail directly in our path.

We at once went into corral. Thirty men against a horde of savages, if
they were there to dispute our right of progress, was not a pleasant
position to be placed in nor a fitting manner in which to celebrate
the glorious Fourth. Consultations were numerous and all took part.
The redskins, camped in plain sight, were hurrying to and fro,
evidently in council like ourselves. To the right of the trail was a
dense wood close to the river bank; on the left was a high
perpendicular bluff, its sides unscalable, so our route was a genuine
death trap, should they attack us. After grub all gathered in a circle
and with pipes we proceeded with our last council. The situation was
talked over from every point as to what the Indians might do or might
not do. We finally arrived to the conclusion that they had the best of
us whatever move we made. A majority vote decided to proceed with
every man for himself in case of attack. Our wagons were empty which
was a little in our favor as we could go on a mule trot or gallop. The
coach filled with passengers was placed in the lead; and, being the
youngest of the party, they were considerate enough to let me follow,
and I did so as closely as possible. On reaching the river bottom, the
driver of the coach started his horses on a run and the lash was put
to every mule. We were all yelling like demons and on our approach the
Indians left the trail and took to the river, thinking that we were a
hundred or more strong. All passed safely through that valley of what
might have been a horrible massacre. The unearthly racket we made was
undoubtedly our salvation, but we were not out of danger by any means
and continued our flight until eleven P. M. when we went into corral
for food and rest. At three A. M. we again struck the trail and it is
well that we did, for those blood-thirsty redskins laid death and
destruction in their wake and came very near overtaking us a day
later. Arriving at Leavenworth, I boarded a Missouri River palace for
St. Louis, thence to New Orleans.


On returning to St. Louis, I met a Westerner that I knew only by
sight, and by him was induced to remain over a few days and take in
the city. I did and was scooped. On the third morning I went through
my pockets and the bed, piece by piece, dumping its contents in the
center of the room, but my roll was gone. At once I sought my friend,
but he was nowhere to be found. Plain case of misplaced confidence. He
had made a touch. In my desperation, I made a confident of the
caretaker of the hotel register. Being of a sympathetic nature, he
consoled me with an invitation to stimulate, which I did. Being
without a trunk, I was informed on my arrival it was customary to pay
as you enter; fortunately I had a meal to my credit. I was in good
condition, having had sufficient victuals to last the day, after which
I proceeded to the river front and here discovered a boat bound for
Omaha. I boarded her, sought out the steward, and applied for a
position. He replied that he did not want any help.

"Well, I suppose you will let a fellow work his way, won't you?"

His answer was "Get off this craft," and without further talk, in not
a very gentlemanly manner he assisted me.

On landing, I was mad clear through, and made up my mind I was going
on that boat, and I did go. Just before the gang plank was pulled in I
walked on board, keeping a sharp lookout for the steward. After I had
avoided him for an hour and just as I was on the point of
congratulating myself, I bumped into him.

"You on board?"

"It looks very much as if I were in evidence."

He grabbed me by the coat collar and hustled me before the captain. I
told a straight story, and he, being a man, told the steward to take
me up to the kitchen and set me to work. He did, and had his revenge
in seeing that it was nearly continuous. After supper I worked the
dish racket until twelve o'clock. At three the next morning he awoke
me out of a sound sleep and set me to cleaning the woodwork of the
cabin. Another of my desirable duties was to wash and polish the
silver, throwing the water over the sides of the boat.


After dinner of the second day I proceeded with the tin bucket to the
side of the boat and overboard went its contents, including three
silver spoons. The spoons had no sooner left the bucket than I felt
something of great force come in contact with the seat of my trousers.
For a moment I thought surely perpetual motion had been discovered.
Turning I was face to face with that infernal steward. Nor did that
end my troubles for during the entire trip that particular locality of
my person was the target for that fellow's boot. With a terrible
oath, he informed me that my landing would be reached about midnight a
day later and was called Wood Pile Landing. A short time before
reaching the place, I was hustled from my bunk by the steward and in
no gentle manner forced to the bow of the boat. The night was pitch
dark, and produced a decidedly lonesome feeling in the one that was to
be put off at a Wood Pile on the edge of an immense forest and
undoubtedly miles from a dwelling. As the boat reached the bank, not
even waiting for the gang plank to be shoved out, the old sinner gave
me a push and at the same time applied the now familiar boot. I
reached the earth on all fours. My first thought was to present him
with a rock, but I curbed my temper, for I had no idea of deserting
the old ship.

In those days the boilers of the boats were fired with cord wood
purchased of the planters and delivered on the bank of the river. All
boats plying on the Missouri River at that time were flat bottom with
paddle wheel at the stern. Two long heavy poles were carried at the
bow and worked with a windlass, being used to raise the bow of the
boat when becoming fast on a sand bar. The pilot was obliged to keep a
continuous lookout for these bars, as the channel was treacherous and
changed often.

On approaching the river bank one of the deck hands would jump off
with the bow line and make fast to a stump or tree, then the stern
line was thrown to him and similarly connected. Then the negro deck
hands would proceed to carry on the wood on their bare shoulders to
the tune of a Southern plantation melody. When ready to start the bow
line was cast off, the paddle wheel was started by the engine, and by
means of the steering gear the craft was swung out into the stream,
then the stern line was thrown aship, and the boat was off--but not
without the steward's victim. No sooner had the colored gentlemen
reached the deck, than I followed. Waiting until all was quiet aboard,
I sought my berth. The next morning I proceeded with my work as if
nothing had happened. I anticipated the steward's next move would be
to throw me overboard, and in that belief told the cook of what he had
done the previous night. At that point he came in, and on discovering
me said, "You here again," his face purple with rage. His right foot
at once became restless, he made a rush for me, but the cook with
butcher-knife in hand prevented the action of said foot, and my
troubles with that gentleman were over.


We soon reached Leavenworth, and I left the boat without regret, but a
much wiser youth. I went to the First National Bank of Leavenworth,
drew my money, and after a few days' rest, I again embarked for Denver
astride a mule. We saw plenty of Indians, but as the train was a long
one they did not molest us.

On reaching the city of the plains I at once hunted up my old friend,
the Major, who introduced me to the head of a firm of contractors, who
were at that time engaged in getting out ties in the "Black Hills,"
for a portion of the Union Pacific railroad, then under construction.
He told me that he wanted a man to go there and straighten out a set
of books that a former employee had left badly mixed. He also took the
trouble to inform me that the country was alive with Indians, and that
the man who went there took big chances; and, if I were at all timid,
I had better not accept the position. My friend gave me a strong
recommend and I clinched the matter by telling the gentleman that I
was not afraid of man, ghost or Indian. He replied that I was just the
man he was in search of, and would give me five hundred dollars in
gold, a good horse and pay all expenses; that I should get my traps
and be at the Planter's Hotel for dinner.

He expected his two partners from the east to inspect the camp and
business, and everything was to be in readiness to depart on their
arrival. Our conveyance was a full sized Concord coach with six good
mules to draw it. The boot of the coach contained the best of
everything to eat and drink--the latter being just as essential in
that country as gun and ammunition. The partners were detained en
route, and did not arrive until the second day, when they wished to
rest and see the western sights, so we did not leave until the fourth
day. Two Denverites accompanied us, making six in the party.

The first afternoon we made thirty-two miles, and camped near a stage
station, where they keep, for the weary pilgrims, supplies and the
rankest kind of corn juice known to the professional drinker.

The following morning we made an early start, and before noon rolled
into La Port, on the Cachella Pondre River, the only settlement on the
trail to the hills. We put up at the stage station for the night.
There we met a drover, and a party of cow boys with one thousand head
of California bronchos bound for the States. Those cowboys were as
wild as western life could make them, yet, a jolly good lot.

During the evening, at the suggestion of someone, a poker game was
started which lasted all night, and in the morning those who had
indulged in the game were not feeling any too good--especially the
losers--but, nevertheless, they all strolled over to the large adobe
corral to see our party off. Mr. A----, the head of the firm of
contractors, had his large winnings safely concealed in a chamois bag
placed close to his hide, where all wise men of the West carried their
money in those days.

The drover had been a heavy but good loser. When about ready to hitch
up our mules he called out to Mr. A----, "I'll go you six of my best
bronchos against five hundred dollars that you haven't a man in your
outfit that can drive the d----d brutes a mile and return."

The contractor approached me and asked if I thought I could do it. I
told him that I was willing to take the chance.

Without another word he walked over to where the drover was standing
and informed him that he would take the bet, provided he would have
his cowpunchers hitch the little devils to the coach.

"Agreed," shouted the old fellow in no uncertain language.

The boys turned to the work with a will; for the fun expected, even if
I received a broken neck for my daredevil recklessness, excited them
to the highest pitch.

The reader has undoubtedly seen in the Wild West circuses the
old-fashioned overland coach hung by heavy springs from front to rear
axle. One of the most uncomfortable conveyances to ride in ever
invented, especially for the driver, for, if the coach was not heavily
loaded, when the front wheels dropped into a hole the old ramshackle
thing was liable to topple over on the animals; and, if the driver was
not securely strapped to the seat when the rear wheels reached the
hole, he would land some distance in the rear. The contractor had the
old ark properly balanced before starting, so I had no excuse to worry
from that source.

The cowpunchers selected one broncho each and after a half hour's
hawling, pulling and coaxing succeeded in hitching them to the coach.
I climbed to the seat and was securely strapped with a large leather
apron. Then I gathered up the lines and placed myself solidly for the

The whip socket contained a hickory stick five feet long with a lash
twelve feet in length attached to one end. I gave the word to let them
go, but the little bronchos thought different and balked. The number
of times they bucked and threw themselves, started and bucked again,
would be impossible to say. Finally the contractor accused the drover
of being in collusion with his cowpuncher in order to win the wager by
holding the bronchos back and a volley of words of not very mild
character ensued, after which the six cowboys, three on either side of
the team, stood off six feet. The noise made by the cracking of their
whips their everlasting yelping made the excitement stronger than
before, and I was off on the wildest ride I ever took. A hurdle jumper
would not stand much of a chance with one of those wild bronchos.


It was a lovely June morning and the bracing air of Colorado made me
feel as wild as the young animals that were fast wheeling me over the
dangerous trail and possibly into a camp of hostile Indians. I gave no
thought to danger for I was too busy keeping the fiery little beasts
to the trail. They were going at breakneck speed with no sign of
tiring, so I let them go enjoying the sport even more than they. My
hat went flying with the wind, I looked back, but could not see the
ranch. How far I had left it behind, or what distance I had covered, I
knew not.

At last I came to myself and realized for the first time what terrible
danger I was in. Slowly turning the team to the right, I began a
circle, hardly perceptible at first, but finally again reaching the
trail. On the return trip, I plied the long lash to the leading pair.
They shot forward faster than ever, all steaming with foam and covered
with lather. At a great distance to the south I could see a party of
Indians riding in the same direction. This additional danger seemed
fairly to intoxicate me and I plied the whip with all my strength. The
corral loomed up and then the stage station. The others, with hands
in their pockets and mouth agap, were holding their breath; and, as we
wheeled past them, the cowboys lashing the bronchos, a mighty shout
went up. I had won the wager and was the lion of the day.

We did not make a start until the following morning. We fastened the
bronchos together and tied the leader to the rear of the coach, and
thus resumed our journey to the hills, where we safely arrived two
days later, but minus four of the treacherous brutes. At night we
always picketed them with the mules and the four that were lost had
pulled their picket irons and undoubtedly gone to join the much read
of "wild horses of the plains."

The camp in the hills consisted of shanties for fifteen hundred men,
saw mill, and outfit store. The latter included in its stock plenty of
the best kind of liquor. Each man was allowed three drinks a day and
no more.

I had the books straightened out in due time and one day the
contractor discovered he would soon be out of flour, and the nearest
point at which it could be purchased was La Port, seventy-five miles
distant. The Indians were troublesome, and each man who was asked
refused to go, with one exception. The contractor finally made me a
tempting offer to accompany a driver of a six mule team. I accepted,
and at break of day the next morning we started. My companion on that
dangerous trip was a plucky son of the Emerald Isle. We camped that
night on Lodge Pole Creek. On the opposite side was an adobe ranch,
and an immense stockade owned by a Frenchman with a Sioux squaw for a

In our hurried start we had forgotten our tobacco, and without it my
companion seemed lost. After grub I mounted my horse, and crossed over
the creek to procure some. On making my wants known, I was freely
supplied with tobacco, and was also informed that before we arrived
they had been fighting the Indians for some time; that one of the
cowboys had an arm badly shattered; and that they feared another
attack the next morning. I returned to camp and told my companion of
our danger.


After giving the animals plenty of feed and rest, we again took the
trail at 4:30 A. M. As the day dawned, with the aid of a field glass,
I discovered Indians swooping down on the ranch with the stockade at
breakneck speed, and others coming in our direction. I told Patrick to
urge the mules to a gallop. He suspected the cause and did so at once.
Over the rolling ground we flew until the sun was well up in the
heavens, and as each hour passed the redskins gained on us, until at
last they could be seen with the naked eye. The harsh and cruel
war-whoop of those blood-thirsty savages echoed and re-echoed back
from the distant hills, and over the desolate plains until men and
beasts were crazed to desperation. The lash was put to the already
tired mules, and we strained every nerve to reach the crest of the
next knoll, hoping against hope for succor. On they came, their
warwhoops for scalps and the white man's blood was now continuous. The
long feared report of their rifles was at last heard; bullets pierced
our canvas covered wagon. We made a last desperate effort and reached
the summit of the bluff. Not a half a mile from its base was a large
corral of white covered wagons. Down the incline we flew, looking
neither to the right nor the left, and, on reaching the corral, both
men and beasts fell into a heap exhausted.

The red devils rode to the top of the hill, and the warwhoop of anger
they sent up rings in my ears at times to this very day.

That evening we again took the trail and made the remainder of the
trip by night drives. Reaching La Port the third morning, we secured
our load and after giving the animals a much needed rest we started on
the return trip. The fourth morning we arrived at the ranch with the
stockade. Three mornings after we reached the foot of the hills where
the company had a log cabin for their hunters and trappers, who, with
their trusty rifles, furnished antelope, deer and buffalo meat for
their small army of employees. On entering, a sight met our gaze too
revolting to pass from memory. Upon the earthy floor lay two of those
sturdy and warm-hearted dwellers of the plains and rockies, cold in
death, scalped and mutilated almost beyond recognition--a deed
committed by those dastardly red fiends of the Far West. Both were
friends of mine and with uncovered head, in the presence of that
gritty son of old Ireland, I vowed vengeance.

"At least, Charlie," said Patrick, "Let's give them a decent burial
and move on."

We did so, reaching camp that evening just as the sun, with its
beautiful tints of carmine, was bidding plains and hills goodnight, as
if in memory of those stalwart and brave men who made the settlement
and civilization of the West possible.



[Illustration: T] Two weeks later a strapping six-foot German, who was
in charge of another camp further down the line, came for a visit.
Shortly after his arrival, he proposed that we should go hunting, to
which I agreed.

That morning, as usual, the men called for their liquor, and among
them was a long lanky fellow with red hair and bushy beard. He
certainly had the appearance of an outlaw. He had received one glass
of grog and came for the second which I refused him. Without a word I
was on my back. At that point the German came in and caught him with
the left hand in the same locality. Suffering with pain and crazed
with liquor, he left the store, secured his revolvers and returned. I
was behind the counter at the time with my back to the door. The first
thing I knew I heard the report of a revolver and a bullet whizzed
past my ear and buried itself in a can of tomatoes not six inches
from my head. As I turned around, I saw the fellow being propelled
through the door by the German's right. At that point the contractor
came in and after being told of what had happened, he discharged the
fellow. He wished to retain his revolvers, but his request was not
granted. He had an old-fashioned army musket and begged to be allowed
to keep that. I told Mr. A---- not to let him have it for I was
satisfied from the blow he gave me that he was a bad actor; but Mr.
A----, being good natured and kind hearted, consented. He ordered four
days' rations put up for him and he left camp in an ugly mood and was
given no further thought.

After grub, the German proposed that we flip a coin to see who should
go for the horses. The visitor losing, he at once started for the
canyon below where the horses were grazing. Shortly after I heard a
shot and then many more, but gave it no heed as it was a common
occurrence there. Half an hour later one of the men came in and told
me that the German lay dead in the canyon below. I, with the others in
camp, proceeded to the point indicated, where we found the poor fellow
lying on his back. A bullet from that villian's musket had pierced his
heart. His watch, belt of cartridges, revolvers, and repeating carbine
were gone. After we returned with the body, Mr. A---- had the mill
whistle blown calling all hands to quarters and for three days and
nights with little sleep or rest we searched those hills and trails
leading to Salt Lake and Denver. We picketed men on each trail to
search all passing trains; but the demon gave us the slip, and cheated
that maddened crowd of a lynching, or something worse; perhaps a tug
of war between two wild bronchos, which we had in camp, with that
man's body as the connecting link.

I can to this day remember just how that poor fellow looked; cold in
death, far from home and loved ones, with no mother to weep at his
bier. With uncovered heads we lowered him in earth, in a rough box, at
the foot of one of the tall sentinels of the hills, and placed a slab
to mark the spot, that his friends might some day claim all that
remained of as brave and honest a German as ever lived.


Thus by the toss of a coin was my life again spared. This last narrow
escape from death was the fourteenth of which I positively knew, and
how many more that I did not know of, it is impossible to tell; so I
made up my mind to get out of the country alive, if possible. I
informed Mr. A---- of my intentions and the following day closed my
business and at dusk that evening I started, unaccompanied, on a two
hundred mile ride over a trail watched by hundreds of blood-thirsty
Indians. I knew that no Indian pony could overtake my fleet runner,
and all that was to be feared was a surprise or have my horse shot
from under me. I camped far from the trail, with lariat fastened to my
wrist, never closing my eyes until my faithful animal had laid down
for the day. His first move at dusk awoke me, and, after feed, we
were off with the wind at breakneck speed.

At the close of the second day, while I lay sleeping on the desert
sands with the saddle blanket for a pillow, and dreaming of my far
away home, it seemed as if something of a slimy nature was slowly
crawling over the calf of my bare leg. On gaining partial
consciousness, too quickly did I realize that it was a reality and not
a dream. A rattlesnake's long slimy body was crossing that bridge of
flesh, squirming along for a couple of inches, then raising its
repulsive body a foot or more and turning its insignificant head,
would look straight towards my partly closed eyes and, with its
hideous mouth agap, would dart its poisonous arrow-like tongue in and
out like lightning, then lowering itself, it would resume the same
tactics as before. How many times it repeated this, I shall never
know. No words have ever been formed that can adequately express the
feeling that took possession of me. I seemed powerless to move a
muscle or twitch an eye-lid. The suspense was terrible, expecting
each time that the slimy body descended the viper would thrust his
poisonous lance into my leg and all would be over. The horror of it
all cannot be imagined, and to this day, when I recall the incident,
it sends a shiver through my entire body. As the coarse rattles of his
tail left the bare flesh of my leg, my senses seemed to return; but it
was only for a moment, for through the pant of my right leg I felt
that same crawling sensation and I knew in an instant that it was a
mate following the one that had just passed over the bridge of flesh.
As soon as it reached the bare leg the dirty reptile went through the
same horrible stunts as the first one. The agony seemed impossible to
bear and when at last the thing had completed its journey and was at a
safe distance away, I leaped into the air--how far I shall leave the
reader to surmise. Crazed with anger and trembling from head to foot,
I rushed for my revolvers and fired at random. I was considered a good
shot in those days, but in this excited condition I would not have
been able to hit a barn. I ran for my Henry Carbine and, grasping it
by the barrel, made short work of ridding the earth of the cause that
had produced the most terrifying scare experience during my western

[Illustration: BILLIE! BILLIE!]


For the first time during the excitement my thoughts turned to my
faithful horse, but he was nowhere to be seen. The horror of the
situation began to dawn upon me and I realized at once that I was lost
on that desolate plain--one hundred miles from any camp that I knew of
and apparently alone. I cried out, "My God, what can be done!" The
thought was enough to drive one crazy. Can I ever forget it? I think
not; nor could anyone. Even to see or talk to an Indian would have
been a comfort. Driven to agonizing despair I ran for my field glass
and scanned the rolling ground in every direction. Buffalo, deer,
antelope, coyote, and a small party of horsemen were visible, but the
latter too far away to make out if they were United States Cavalrymen
or Indians. Looking again, without my glass, I discovered my horse
standing on a high knoll not more than a half mile away with head and
tail erect; the breath from his dilated nostrils ascending heavenward
in the cold October air and presenting a picture for an artist. I
called loudly, "Billie, Billie," and with outstretched hand walked
slowly toward him, but he looked not in my direction. All of a sudden
he made a quick bound and was off. My heart seemed to stop beating. A
minute seemed an hour; but I kept walking after him and he finally
stopped, turned around and faced me. That look can never be forgotten.
With ears thrown back, he came slowly toward me. Again, I called
"Billie, Billie," and held out both hands and with a whinner he came
on a gallop, trembling in every muscle, seemingly as frightened as
myself. I patted his neck, straightened out his rich heavy mane,
rubbed his face and nose and kissed him. He licked my cheek and hand
in appreciation of my welcome; moisture gathered in his large eyes and
I cried with joy--like a child that I was--and then we both felt
better. I coiled up the lariat and placed my right arm over his
perfectly formed neck and slowly walked to our little camp. I rubbed
him down until he was perfectly dry; then curried, brushed and rubbed
until I could almost see myself in his coat of silky hair. Then I made
him lay down and did the same thing myself, using his withers and mane
for a pillow. When I awoke the moon shown full in our faces. I patted
his neck and soon those large eyes were looking affectionately into
mine. I sprang to my feet and he did the same. After brushing off the
side on which he had laid, I placed the saddle blanket, buckled taut
the saddle, gathered up my small camp kit and fastened it to the rear
of the saddle, coiled the lariat and hung it on the pommel of the
saddle, fastened on my spurs--from which he had never felt even the
slightest touch--threw my field glass over my left shoulder, buckled
on my cartridge belt and revolvers, swung my canteen and Henry Carbine
over my right shoulder, and with a leap, landed astride the saddle,
and was off with the wind in search of the trail two full miles away.


Early on the morning of the third day, I stopped at a stage station,
where I met the assistant wagon boss who was with the bull train
during my first trip across the plains. He was a genuine Missouri
Bushwacker and a desperate fellow. Like all others of his class he
wore his hair long, making it a much coveted prize for the Indians.
After the days visit and relating our experience of western life, he
told me that he was on his way to the Black Hills. I reluctantly
volunteered the information to him that I did not think he would ever
reach there on the old skate he was riding, and that he should not
venture on the trail until after dark, but he knew it all and started
at sundown. I was sure the fellow would never reach the Hills, nor was
I mistaken, for in less than an hour the Salt Lake Coach rolled up to
the door of the station, and the driver asked if a horseman had put up
at the place, and being informed that there had, told us the Indians
had captured him and tied him to one of their own ponies and was
rapidly going north, leaving his old nag to be picked up by any one
who would care for it. Not a day passed that the unwelcome savages
were not to be seen, and we were chased many times, but the faithful
animal reached Denver in safety.

The Union Pacific railroad had then reached Julesburg and I conceived
the hazardous idea of reaching that point by navigating the Platte
River--a distance of three hundred miles--so I at once ordered a flat
bottomed boat built of material in the rough.


I next went in quest of my aged chum, the ex-pig dealer, who, when
found, revealed by a twinkle in his eye another dare-devil scheme,
which he was quite capable of concocting when alone in his warehouse
den. He exclaimed, with much feeling and a forced tear, that he was
right down glad to see me safely back and gave me little rest until I
had related my experiences in the hills. He then unfolded his
diabolical scheme, whereby both of us could lay a foundation for a
fortune. I was in need of the latter, without any question, but not by
this method.

Cheyenne had just been surveyed, mapped and laid out, and the
proposition was for him to furnish a man, two mule teams, wagons,
tents, provisions and all other necessities; and this man and myself
were to go there and squat or take possession of two sections of
Government land, consisting of one hundred and sixty acres each,
located just outside the city limits. The offer was promptly rejected,
and it destroyed the last particle of friendship that had existed
between us as far as I was concerned. I had just been through that
part of the country and had narrowly escaped death many times, and for
us to carry out this scheme, I knew would be impossible, for the
tricky redskins would be certain to capture us. I cannot recollect the
exact reply that I made him, but am positive I requested him to go to
Hades by the shortest possible route. We parted in anger after three
long years of friendship. The old major's love for the almighty dollar
was the cause. I never did have a very strong desire to furnish
material to the cruel savages for one of their home scalp dances, and
besides my mind was made up to leave Colorado, which I did.

I afterwards made the acquaintance of a young fellow, a college
graduate who had been unable to secure a position to his liking and
was anxious to return to the States. After a few days of good
fellowship, and finding him of the right material, I made my plans
known to him. He at once fell in with them, and a week later we
embarked on our perilous journey. We started at full moon drifting
with a comparatively strong current using paddles to guide our roughly
constructed craft. We made nightly rides of about fifty miles, and at
dawn would land on one of the small islands of the river, conceal
ourselves and the boat in the tall grass from which we were able to
see all that passed by trail and bluffs, and not be seen ourselves.
Our greatest danger was in being discovered by the Indians on the high
bluffs, or a visit from them to the island we occupied. The first
scare we had was when a party of a dozen or more rode to the bank of
the river for the purpose, as we supposed, of crossing. They seemed,
however, undecided as to their course, but finally urged their ponies
down the bank and into the river. To describe our feelings would be
impossible. Just then, to us, a minute seemed an hour. Cold beads of
perspiration stood out on both, not exactly from fear, but a sort of
yearning to be elsewhere; and I wondered, after all that I had passed
through, if I was to be cut down on my homeward journey by those
fiendish red devils. "Saved!" whispered my friend, "they are leaving
the river." And sure enough those little prairie ponies were climbing
the bank on a dead run for the bluffs.


The last night of that eventful ride lasted long until after the sun
was up. The large Concord coach filled with passengers passed close
to the river bank a short time before, and from the driver we learned
we were ten miles from Julesburg. We proceeded, keeping close to the
bank, and with field glass continually swept the valley and bluffs in
every direction. We were facing a mild and depressing wind. All of a
sudden dismal sounds reached our ears, and as the noiseless current of
the river rounded the projecting points in its banks, it bore our
staunch old craft to a place of safety, or ourselves to a cruel death,
we knew not which. The sounds became more distinct until both of us
were satisfied that the Indians had captured the overland coach with
its load of human freight. As we rounded the next bend the river took
a straight course, but there was no island in sight.

"No island in sight," said my friend. "Where can we go?" And turning
around I discovered he was as white as a sheet. As for myself, I was
hanging to the edge of the bank trying hard to collect my wits and
recover from a fainting spell. We finally managed to get the boat back
and around the bend where we lay concealed for some time, suffering
the torture of Hades. I finally crawled to the top of the bank and
with field glass surveyed the locality in every direction. No life was
visible, still the unearthly noise kept up, and the feeling of those
two lone travelers would be impossible to describe. The thought at
last came to me that we must be somewhere in the vicinity of the old
California Crossing. I crawled back to the boat and told my companion
to go ahead, while I continually used the field glass. After fifteen
minutes, I discovered a white speck in the eastern horizon. We were
soon over our fright, and with light hearts were sailing over the
rippling waters of the old Platte feeling assured that we would soon
reach a place of safety, as far as the Indians were concerned.

On arriving at the crossing, which it proved to be, we found one of
those large white covered prairie schooners stalled in the middle of
the stream, and fifty Greasers, as the Mexican drivers were called,
and as many yoke of oxen trying to haul it out.


We sailed merrily along and at two P. M. reached Julesburg, the then
terminus of the Union Pacific railroad and overland shipping point for
all territory west, north and south. The Union Pacific railroad, when
under construction, made a terminus every two or three hundred miles.
The houses were built in sections, so they were easily taken apart,
loaded on flat freight cars, and taken to the next terminus completely
deserting the former town, Julesburg was rightfully named "The
Portable Hell of the Plains." My finer feelings cannot, if words
could, attempt a description. Suffice to say that during the three
days we were there four men and women were buried in their street
costumes. The fourth day we boarded a Union Pacific train and were
whirled to its Eastern terminus, Omaha, thence home, arriving safely
after an absence of four years.

The habits formed during those western years were hard to change, and
the fight of my life to live a semblance of the proper life, required
a will power as irresistible as the crystal quartz taken from the
lofty snow capped mountain sides, taking tons of weight to crush it,
that the good might be separated from the worthless.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Original spelling has been preserved. Some illustrations have been
moved to avoid breaking up the text. The following typos have been

Contents: Markmanship changed to Marksmanship:
  (Chapter V--A Proof of Markmanship)

Page 12: Holliday changed to Holiday:
  (We at once called at the Ben Holliday Stage Office).

Page 104: ther changed to their:
  (had ther tribal laws and customs).

Page 106: added closing quotes:
  (I'll get out of this one in some way.)

Page 128: added comma after Charlie:
  ("At least, Charlie" said Patrick, "Let's give them a decent).

Page 137: added comma after second Billie:
  (loudly, "Billie, Billie" and with outstretched hand walked).

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