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´╗┐Title: Life and Adventures of 'Billy' Dixon - A Narrative in which is Described many things Relating to - the Early Southwest
Author: Barde, Frederick Samuel, Dixon, Billy
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: _The Fight at Adobe Walls._
                  (From an Oil Painting by Miss Gwynfred Jones,
                  Hansford, Texas.--Copyrighted.)]



A Narrative in Which Is Described Many Things Relating to the Early
Southwest, with an Account of the Fight Between Indians and Buffalo
Hunters at Adobe Walls, and the Desperate Engagement at Buffalo Wallow,
for which Congress voted the Medal of Honor to the Survivors.




Co-Operative Publishing Co.




Preface--Introductory--What "Bat" Masterson Said of "Billy"
Dixon--How the Story of His Life Was Written--Mrs. Dixon's
Devoted Industry in Setting Down the Facts of Her Husband's
Life--Fascination of the Plains Country                            10


Dixon's Birth and Boyhood--Death of His Parents--From West
Virginia to Home of Uncle in Missouri--Lured by Romance of
Plains, the Boy Starts in Search of Adventure--Reaches
Leavenworth, Kas., and Becomes a Bull-Whacker--Across the
Plains--Hires to Farmer McCall                                     17


To Fort Harker with a Drove of "Shave-tails"--Kills His
First Buffalo--The Medicine Lodge Treaty--Approaching
Indians--Stirring Scenes--General Harney--Satanta and His
Horse--Back to Fort Harker--Prairie Fires                          46


To Baxter Springs, Kas., in 1868--Hauling Munitions of War
to Camp Supply for the Custer Expedition--All the Mules
Stampede in Harness--Now Eighteen Years Old and as Hard as
Nails--Begins Hunting Buffaloes for their Hides--Establishes
a Road Ranch South of Hays City--Lost at Night                     76


Dodge City in 1872--Dixon Never Danced or Gambled--"Cranky"
McCabe--Dangerous Country South of the Arkansas--Indian
Scare--Name at Boiling Spring on the South Pawnee--Sham
Duel--On the Cimarron in 1873--Prowling Cheyennes--Company
M and the Al Frio--History of Buffalo Spring                      104


Down in the Texas Panhandle--Ruins of Original Adobe Walls
--Back to Dodge City--Fitting Out of Big Expedition to
Hunt Buffaloes--The Tempestuous and Spectacular Fairchild
--Night Camp in the Plains Country--Dancing on a Dry Buffalo
Hide--Floods and Quicksands--Meets Jim and Bob Cator--Fun
with Fairchild                                                     142


The Buffalo-Hunters Establish Themselves at Adobe Walls and
Erect Buildings--Origin of old Adobe Walls--A Long Circle in
Search of the Best Hunting Grounds--Roaring of the Vast Herd
--Business Begins in Earnest--Caught in Canadian Quicksands
--News at Adobe Walls of Indian Outbreaks--Dixon Forms Hunting
Partnership with Hanrahan--Location of Buildings at Adobe
Walls--Fancied Security                                           171


A Thousand Indians Attack Adobe Walls at Dawn--Dixon Tries
to Save His Horse--Escape of Billy Ogg--The First Mighty
Warwhoop--The Battle Begins--Indians Charge to the Sound
of A Bugle--Bugler Shot--Dixon's Marksmanship--Indians no
Match for Hunters--Running for Supply of Ammunition--The
Shadlers and Billy Tyler Killed                                   200


Dixon's Fall in Rath's Store--Companions Fear He is Shot
--Dead Warrior's Lance--Dismal Cawing of Pet Crow--Wounded
Horses--Killing an Indian at 1200 Yards--Henry Lease Goes
for Help--Old Man Bellfield and the Black Flag--Death of
William Olds--Lost Relics                                         218


Depredations of Indians--Quanah Parker--Buffalo-Hunting
Abandoned--Departure for Dodge City--Dixon Becomes a Scout
Under General Miles--Back to Adobe Walls with Lieutenant
Frank Baldwin--Indians Kill George Huffman in Sight of
Soldiers--Terror of the Negro Cook--Pleasing Story of
Dixon's Dog--Fannie and Her Pups                                  237


Dixon's Most Perilous Adventure--Buffalo Wallow Fight--
Terrible Suffering of Wounded Companions--Rescues Amos
Chapman--Indians Charging Upon all Sides--Saved by a
Cold September Rain--The Long, Dreary Night--Death of
Smith--Dixon Starts for Aid--Meets Wagon Train Escorted by
Major Price--Heartless Indifference to Wounded Men--Help
Comes from General Miles--The Medal of Honor Awarded              254


Blizzard Experience--Shooting at Jack Stilwell's Ear--
Indignation and Horror of Old Army Officer--Rescue of
the Germain Captives--Finding of Julia and Adelaide in
Gray Beard's Deserted Camp--Pitiable Objects--Catherine
and Sophia Carried to the Staked Plains--Restored by Chief
Stone Calf--With Captain Nolan on the Staked Plains--No
Water--Finds Double Lakes and Saves Command                       281


Back to Civilian Life--Builds His Home at Old Adobe Walls
--Plants First Alfalfa in Panhandle--The Dixon Orchard--
Appointed Postmaster--Candy and Chewing Gum for the
Cowboys--Married in 1894--Serves as Justice-of-the-Peace
and Sheriff--Panhandle Pioneers--Changing Conditions--Breaking
up of Big Cattle Ranches--Dixon Goes Further West to Cimarron
County--Would Live it All Over Again--Helped Build an Empire
in the West.                                                      301



_The Fight at Adobe Walls_                             _Frontispiece_

    From an oil painting by Miss Gwynfred Jones, Hansford, Texas,
    from her sketches of the battleground, as corrected by "Billy"

_Buffaloes--"Just As They Looked in the Old Days."_                28

_Satank, the Old Tiger of the Kiowas_                              58

_Indian Ration Day at Fort Sill, Oklahoma_                         64

_Wood-Hauler Found Scalped Near Fort Dodge_                        82

    There are few photographs of this kind in existence.

_"Billy" Dixon in His Prime as a Scout and Plainsman_             106

_Indian Camp of Buffalo Hide Tepees_                              128

    In this camp Chief Kicking Bird, Kiowa, was poisoned by his
    enemies, because of his unwillingness to sanction the Indian
    warfare against the United States government.

_James H. Cator, Zulu, Texas, Panhandle Pioneer_                  160

_"Billy" Dixon's Log Homestead on Site of Original Adobe Walls_   172

_Chief Quanah Parker of the Comanches_                            202

_High Bluff East of Adobe Walls on which Dixon Killed Indian
at 1200 Yards_                                                    232

_Ermoke and His Band of Murderous Kiowa Raiders_                  256

    These Indians are typical of the kind that roamed the
    Plains country.

_Drew Dixon, Son of "Billy" Dixon--"A Sure Shot, Like
His Father"_                                                      274

_"Billy" Dixon, as He Appeared in Recent Years_                   302

_Dixon Orchard at Adobe Walls_                                    308

_Adobe Corral Built by "Billy" Dixon_                             312


After many years, the solicitation of friends and early associates
moved the subject of this volume to consent to the publication of such
of his experiences on the frontier as he believed might be of interest
to those persons who find pleasure in reading of the perils and
hardships encountered in those far-off days by men and women who
forsook the comforts of more civilized surroundings to risk their lives
in making habitable the wilderness.

The pioneers themselves were not inclined to feel that their exploits
were so extraordinary as to be of use in the making of books. Their
long abode in silent places made them taciturn; and their lack of
liberal knowledge of the rules of writing and their unwillingness to
risk the appearance of conceit left them reluctant to relate their
adventures for the printed page.

Posterity, however, has a claim upon these fore-runners that may not be
lightly thrust aside. The history of this struggle to subdue the wild
places should be preserved and can be gathered only from the lips of
the records of participants. In a few years the latter will have all
vanished, as the frontier itself has faded into a memory. From camp
fire tales have grown the legends of heroes.

"I fear," said "Billy" Dixon, half humorously, "that the conquest of
savagery in the Southwest was due more often to love of adventure than
to any wish that cities should arise in the desert, or that the
highways of civilization should take the place of the trails of the
Indian and the buffalo. In fact, many of us believed and hoped that the
wilderness would remain forever. Life there was to our liking. Its
freedom, its dangers, its tax upon strength and courage, gave a zest to
living especially to young men, unapproached by anything to be found in
civilized communities. Therefore, let it be said that if there was
bravery and heroism, it came less by design than it did from the
emergencies of accident and surroundings, and that usually it was

Though a taciturn man, Mr. Dixon made strong friendships and
entertained the warmest affection for the men with whom he had been
associated in pioneer days. Mr. W. B. ("Bat") Masterson, writing lately
from New York City, said in an appreciative letter:

"I first became acquainted with Billy Dixon on the buffalo range in the
fall of 1872 and continued to know him well and intimately for several
years thereafter. The last time I saw him was at Sweetwater, a small
hamlet just off the Military Reservation at Fort Elliott, Texas, then
called Cantonment, in the spring of 1876.

"Billy Dixon was a typical frontiersman of the highest order. The
perils and hardships of border life were exactly suited to his stoical
and imperturbable nature. This does not mean that Billy was not a
kind-hearted, generous and hospitable man, for he possessed all these
admirable qualities to a high degree but he was cool, calculating and
uncommunicative at all times.

"I was with Billy in the fight at Adobe Walls in June, 1874, between
the buffalo-hunters and that fierce band of warriors composed of the
best fighting men of the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Comanche and Kiowa tribes,
numbering fully one thousand braves. Billy and I occupied the same
window the first day of the battle and I hope we did our share in the
fight. Billy was an extraordinary fine shot with a buffalo-gun and he
never overlooked an opportunity that first day to demonstrate his
unerring aim whenever and wherever an Indian showed his head. We were
scouts together afterwards in General Miles' command which left Fort
Dodge, Kansas in the early part of August, the same year, for the
Panhandle country where the hostiles were assembled in great numbers.
While I was not with him, I am quite familiar with all the details of
the fight in the buffalo wallow on the north bank of the Washita River
in which Billy and Amos Chapman and four soldiers stood off a large
band of hostiles for an entire day. It was largely due to Billy's
heroism on that occasion that the party was saved from complete

The publication of this volume was decided upon in the fall of 1912.
Mr. Dixon was in vigorous health, and became greatly interested in the
undertaking. His memory was remarkable for its tenacity, which enabled
him to recall the past with ease and accuracy.

At our home on our claim in Cimarron County, I took down from his
dictation the greater and the essential part of the present narrative.
I kept note-books in every room, and sometimes carried them to the
corral, that I might be in readiness to set down what my husband might
say as he was moved by reflection or inquiry to talk of the past. Many
of his pioneer friends learned of his plans, and encouraged him to
persevere until the work should be accomplished. The material grew
until there was an armful of manuscript, and the ground had been fairly

Little did we suspect that Death--the enemy from whom he had escaped so
many times in the old days--was at hand, and that the arrow was set to
the bow. During a winter storm early in 1913 he was suddenly stricken.
He went unwillingly and complainingly to his bed, regretting that what
he believed was a trivial illness should pull down a man who never
before had known a day's sickness. Pneumonia developed, and he expired
March 9, 1913, insisting with his last breath that he would recover.
Interment took place in the cemetery at Texline, Texas, under the
auspices of the local Masonic Lodge. Mr. Dixon for many years had been
a consistent member of that order.

In the publication of this volume, I wish to acknowledge my obligations
to Mr. Frederick S. Barde, of Guthrie, Oklahoma, who compiled the
manuscript and carried the book through the press, and also to those
pioneers of the Panhandle, Mr. Chas. Goodnight and Mr. James H. Cator,
friends of many years, whose counsel and suggestions were helpful in
many ways.


Life of "Billy" Dixon


In no other country could there have been found a region so inviting,
so alluring, so fascinating, to the spirit of adventure as the Great
Plains. How it gripped the imagination of young men, sons of pioneers,
between the Mississippi and the Alleghanies, in those early days! How
it called to them, and beckoned to them to forsake their homes and
journey westward into the unknown!

Vast and undisturbed, it stretched from the British Possession to the
Rio Grande. It was a natural stage on which was enacted the most
picturesque and romantic drama of the nineteenth century. Its
background was the Rocky Mountains, from whose towering ramparts the
Plains swept down toward the east, giving an unobstructed view of the
stirring panorama that for more than half a century was unrivalled for
its scenes of daring and conquest.

The Plains were marvelously adapted to the needs of uncivilized
people, who derived their sustenance from the bounty of the wilderness
and to the heavy increase and perpetuation of the animal life upon
which they subsisted. Upon its level floors, enemies or game could be
seen from afar, an advantage in both warfare and hunting. The natural
grasses were almost miraculously disposed to the peculiarities of soil
and climate, affording the richest pasturage in the green of summer
and becoming even more nutritious as the seasons advanced toward the
snows of winter. This insured the presence of enormous numbers of
herbivorous animals, such as the buffalo, the antelope and the deer,
from which the Indian derived his principal food and fashioned his
garments and his shelter. His only toil was the chase with its
splendid excitement, and his only danger the onslaught of tribal
enemies. The climate was healthful and invigorating. In all the world
could not have been found a more delightful home for primitive men.

That the Indian should have resisted with relentless and increasing
ferocity every effort to drive him from this paradise was natural and
justifiable from his point of view. In those days, he felt that to go
elsewhere meant starvation and death for his family and tribe. Above
all, he firmly believed that the country was his, as it had been from
the beginning, and that the white man was cruel, merciless and wrong
in depriving him of his old home--a home that the white man did not
need and would not use.

North and south across this gigantic stage the teeming animal life of
the Plains, especially the buffaloes moved regularly with the
procession of the equinoxes. The first grass of spring to which the
Cheyennes gave the poetic name, _mah-nah-see-tah_--had scarcely
made green the landscape before it was darkened with moving herds
northward bound, in obedience to the primal instinct that pulses more
deeply with the coming of spring. The pastures were endless, and the
moist earth vibrant with the sounds of the fresh season. Everywhere
wild flowers were springing from the sod. The water-holes were full,
and the sandy rivers flashing in the sunshine. Clouds of water-fowl
swirled and descended upon the bars, to rest in their flight to their
nesting grounds. The eagle in the sky and the lark in the grass were
alike free to raise their young, far from the intrusion of man. The
Indians, with their women, children, dogs and ponies, moving dimly on
the far-off Plains, were native to the scene, and passed unnoticed by
the other denizens of the solitude.

Once more the pageant of the wilderness moved on its mysterious way,
this time from north to south. The storms of spring and summer had
rolled their thunder through the solitude and reddened the sky with
their lightning. The rains had spent themselves. The season of
creation and growth had passed. The Plains were shaggy with brown
grass. Soon frost would sharpen the air, and snow come on the cold
winds and whiten the earth. The buffaloes, the deer and the antelope
had thicker and warmer coats; the bear was growing drowsy, and hunting
his winter cave; the wild turkey flashing a finer bronze; the prairie
chicken, the crane, the mallard and the goose were fat and succulent
beyond other days.

Of all this domain the Indian was lord and master. There was none to
dispute his sway. The stars in the sky were his night companions, and
the sun his supreme benefactor by day. All were his servants. His race
multiplied and was happy. Food and shelter were to be found upon every
hand. The white man had not come, bringing disease and poverty.

In savagery, a more delightful existence could not be found. What joy
of physical living, with strength, health and contentment in every
village. There were wars, to be sure, but feats of daring appealed to
the brave, and there was love of fame and honor, just as there was
inside the walled cities beyond the Atlantic, where, from a
comparative standpoint, men were less civilized than their western
brothers who fought with bow and arrow, war club and tomahawk.

The fruitful summers were given over to idling in pleasant places--in
a village beside a stream, or in the foothills of the mountains. There
was singing and dancing and the telling of old tales. The women looked
after the household, ever watchful of the little girls and the young
women of marriageable age. The plaintive notes of the love-flute could
be heard in the dusk of twilight. The warriors trained the boys and
the young men in horsemanship and the use of arms, subjecting them to
tests of physical endurance, even pain, that they might grow to be
strong, invincible men.

There is something beyond description that clutches a man's heart and
imagination in the Plains country. Whether it is the long sweep of the
horizon, with its suggestion of infinity, touching upon melancholy, or
that wide-arching expanse of sky, glittering by night and glorious by
day, may not be determined, yet no man is ever quite his former self
after he has felt deeply the bigness, the silence and the mystery of
that region.

Trackless and boundless, the Great Plains at first offered to the
adventurous traveler the many dangers that come from losing one's way
in the wilderness. The sun and the stars were guides for direction,
but not for water, wood and pasture. Travel was not made certain and
continuous until countless feet and hoofs and wheels had worn trails.
The making of trails is one of the most primitive acts of man, and it
seems incredible that this should have been done within such recent
times in this country. The most noted of all these trails was the
Santa Fe Road or Trail that led to Santa Fe, New Mexico, from
Westport, Mo., where it was joined by smaller highways from points in
the surrounding country.

The heart swells with emotion at remembrance of the wild, free life
along those old trails, and knowledge that they have vanished forever
brings a feeling of deep regret. Railroads, to be sure, meet modern
needs, and have changed the wilderness into gardens, but,
nevertheless, beyond and above all these demands of a higher
civilization, with its commerce and its feverish haste, remains the
thought that something worth while has been lost, at least to those
who found joy in braving dangers and in overcoming the obstacles of
primitive conditions. What a living, moving, thrilling panorama
stretched along the old trails! How vast the wealth that rolled past!

The end came when the Santa Fe railroad reached Raton in 1880.
Thenceforward, wind and rain and the encroaching grass began their
work of obliteration. Only gashed river banks and scarred hillsides
guard from the destroying years the last vestiges of what once were a
nation's highways. The snow-swept summits of the Spanish Peaks look
down no more upon the crawling ox-trains, nor does the swart Apache
watch stealthily on Rabbit Ear Mountain to see if a weakly guarded
train is coming down the Santa Fe Road. There are two pretty Spanish
names for Spanish Peaks--"Las Cumbres Espanolas" and "Las dos
Hermanas," (The Two Sisters). The Ute name is "Wahtoya" (The Twins).


I was born in Ohio County, West Virginia, September 25, 1850, the
oldest of three children. My mother died when her third child was
born. I was then ten years old. I believe that the earliest
remembrances of one's mother make the deepest impression. In the few
years that I received my mother's care, my character was given a
certain trend that it never lost. My mother told me that I should
always be kind to dumb animals, and especially to birds. In all my
after life I never forgot her words. Often on the Plains and in the
wilderness did I turn my horse or wagon aside rather than injure a
road lizard or a terrapin that was unable to get out of the way.

When I was twelve years old my father died, and with my sister I went
to live with my uncle, Thomas Dixon, who lived in Ray County,
Missouri. In those days travel was difficult, and Missouri seemed a
long way from our home in West Virginia. We had been with our uncle
only a few months when my sister was stricken with typhoid fever, and
died after an illness of about two weeks. This left me alone in the
world. My uncle was kind and good to me, but I stayed with him only a
year. I was a strong, rugged boy, unwilling to be dependent upon even
a kinsman for my living, and with much resolution I decided to seek my
own fortune.

While at my uncle's home I had often met men who had been to the far
west, and their marvelous tales of adventure fired my imagination, and
filled me with eagerness to do what they had done. My dreams were
filled with beautiful pictures of that dim region that lay toward the
Rocky Mountains.

In those days no traveler undertook this westward journey without a
horse and a gun. I was penniless, and the purchase of these
necessities seemed utterly beyond my resources.

I had formed the acquaintance of a boy named Dan Keller, several years
older than myself, and also without father or mother. Many times had
we talked of the wild country where game abounded and Indian warriors
rode as free as the wind. That we should go was as inevitable as the
coming of the grass in spring or the falling of leaves in autumn. My
uncle would have been greatly opposed to our enterprise had we told
him of it, so I went away without telling him good bye.

Having no horses, Dan and I started on foot, and in place of guns we
had only courage and our chubby fists. In a sack on my back I carried
my one extra shirt and my mother's photograph. The latter I treasured
beyond all my other possessions. Making our way to the Missouri River
we fell in with some wood choppers who were supplying with fuel the
steamboats that in those days plied that river. The camps of these
wood choppers were found at frequent intervals along the shore. The
men were rough but generous and hospitable, and we were welcomed at
their camps, many of which we reached at night-fall. We hunted and
trapped up and down the river for several months, often staying in one
camp for a couple of weeks.

We were beginning to see the world and to find adventure. Around the
campfires at night the wood choppers told of their exploits in the
west--of how they had hunted the grizzly bear, the buffalo, the
panther, the deer and the antelope, of how they had been caught in the
howling blizzards, of their narrow escapes from drowning in swollen
rivers, and of the battles they had fought with hostile Indians. Many
times we sat and listened until midnight, the rush of the river
sounding in our ears, and then after we had gone to bed we lay looking
at the stars and wondering if it would ever be possible for us to lead
such a delightful life.

Following the wood cutters' camps up the great river we finally
reached Westport, Missouri, near where Kansas City now stands. We
arrived there on Sunday, October 23, 1864, just as a big battle was
being fought between the Union army under General Alfred S. Pleasanton
and the Confederate army under General Stirling Price. We could hear
the roar and boom of the cannon and see the clouds of smoke rising in
the sky. Dan and I would have enlisted on the spot had we not been too
young. But the smoke of battle got into our nostrils, and we were more
determined than ever to reach the far west and fight Indians.

Proceeding northwest, we crossed the Kaw River and found ourselves in
Kansas. At that time there were a few warehouses along the banks of
the Missouri River where the Kansas City stock yards are now situated.
We halted a day or two at the little town of Wyandotte. I remember how
the surrounding country was filled with mink, raccoon, rabbits,
opossums, squirrels, quail and prairie chickens. This was greatly to
our liking, so Dan and I hired to an old farmer near Wyandotte, and
remained with him a couple of months.

The first signs of spring were now in the air, and like the wild geese
that were passing northward, we resumed our migration. At the end of
many weary miles we reached Leavenworth, Kansas, and after forming the
acquaintance of an old plainsman named Tom Hare, fire and brimstone
could not have turned us back, so determined did we become to plunge
deep into the wild country that lay beyond us. Hare was a driver in a
Government bull train.

Drifting into town hungry and foot-sore, I will never forget this old
man's kindness. He took us to a railroad mess house--the Kansas
Pacific grading camp was then at Leavenworth--and gave us our
breakfast. While we were eating the old man watched us attentively and
seemed pleased with our appearance. In a moment he was telling us of
some of his trips in the west, which was like setting out fire in dry
stubble. He said that the outfit or bull train to which he belonged
was in camp about four miles from town. It was in need of hands, and
if we wanted to go on the next trip he would help us get employment,
advising us to remain with him until the bull train was ready to
start. The outfit was waiting for winter to break up.

We immediately became the old man's staunch friends and ardent
admirers. We went out to the camp and when we were taken to the boss,
he eyed us carefully and said: "You boys are pretty young, and Bill
looks like he ought to be at home with his mother, but I'll give you a
chance." So he hired us then and there at $50 a month, with everything
furnished, including guns and ammunition. Dan and I were immensely
proud of ourselves, and looked forward to the journey with eager
expectancy. I was only fourteen years old, but delighted with the
prospect that at last I should begin the journey across the Plains.

We got orders about April 15 to pull out for Fort Scott, Kansas. We
moved by easy marches and reported to the quartermaster when we
reached Fort Scott. He ordered the outfit to go into camp a few miles
from town on a small stream where there was good grass and water for
the stock. There we were to await further orders. We were in camp for
two weeks, and all we had to do was to look after the stock, which we
did in turns. The stream abounded in fish, and everywhere there was
lots of small game. These were among the happiest days of my life.
Because of my youth, the men favored me in many ways. I hunted and
fished to my heart's content.

I was disappointed that the bull train had been sent south instead of
west, but still hoped the order would soon come for us to move toward
the Plains. This was in April, 1865, and in southern Kansas the news
of President Lincoln's assassination had just been received. I recall
that on our way to Fort Scott a black flag of mourning hung on every
settler's farmhouse.

One morning about the first of May there was shouting among the men,
the rattling of chains, the creaking of heavy wagons, and the lowing
of oxen, as we assembled under orders to proceed to Fort Leavenworth.
We moved away in high spirits across the beautiful country, bright and
fragrant with the wild flowers of spring. Lawrence was the first town
of importance that we reached.

It was the custom of the bull-whackers to make a lively demonstration
whenever they passed through a town. With their big sixteen foot whips
they could make a sound like the crack of a rifle, and as rapidly as
possible the whips were cracked, the drivers shouting to their oxen,
while men, women and children ran into the street to witness the
spectacle. It was a performance that everybody thoroughly enjoyed, and
which never again will be seen in this western country.

In two days from Lawrence we came to Leavenworth City, about three or
four miles south of Fort Leavenworth. Here we made the same uproar.
Liquor was more plentiful than water at Leavenworth in those days, and
many of the bull-whackers "tanked up." There was a big noise all the
way to the fort.

Between Lawrence and Leavenworth the country was well settled, and
every farm-yard was filled with chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese,
many of which disappeared about the time we passed that way. Of course
I would not be willing to admit that I helped steal any of them, but
it would be useless for me to say that I did not help eat from many a
well-filled pot. A fat pig that strayed near our camp rarely ever got
back home. It is but just to say, however, that this taking of private
property was done largely in a spirit of mischief, as these rough
bull-whackers could not have been induced to engage in what would have
been regarded as actual stealing.

This outfit was made up of men of various ages and occupations. Some
had been soldiers, and several had been sailors. I reveled in the
stories told by the old gray haired men. I believe that I liked best
of all their stories about fighting Indians.

Like all frontier towns, Leavenworth City was well supplied with
saloons. It is not surprising that in the West most men drank, as the
saloon was the main starting place for an outfit like ours, and a man
who did not take at least one drink was considered unfriendly. I wish
to emphasize this last word, for my statement is literally true.
Inviting a man to drink was about the only way civility could be
shown, and to refuse an invitation bordered upon an insult. Again, the
saloon was the place where all trails crossed, and there we might be
sure of meeting men from the north, from the west and the south, and
gaining information that was so essential to those who were journeying
into far off places.

The outfit was ordered into camp near the fort, with everybody
planning for the westward trip. Our chagrin and disappointment may be
imagined when we learned that the whole train was to be sold by the
Government, to which it belonged. The country was now green with
growing grass, and the cattle were getting sleek and fat. The orderly
came and told us to assemble the train in front of the quartermaster's
office. The wagons were strung out one after the other until they
formed a line half a mile in length. An auctioneer stood in front of
the building and cried the sale; as soon as one wagon and team was
sold another took its place. The teams were bought in at from $1600 to
$1800 each, wagons included, and the twenty-five wagons and three
hundred bulls were bought by one man; his name was Kirkendall. He had
been master of transportation at Fort Leavenworth. Kirkendall hired
our train-master, and he in turn hired all the men who wanted to
remain with the outfit. About half the men quit, and their places were
filled with fresh bull-whackers. Some of the latter had never seen a
bull train, and had lots to learn.

By this time I had begun feeling that I was an old hand. When I was
first employed I found it difficult to yoke my oxen, but my small size
appealed to the men, and there was always somebody willing to help me.
I was now able to yoke my own oxen.

We lay in camp wondering where Kirkendall would send us. In a few days
orders came for us to pull out for Fort Collins, Colorado, with
government supplies. I bubbled over with joy, for now I was headed for
the Plains. Kirkendall received twenty-five cents a pound for the
freight he took out. Each wagon was loaded with about seven hundred
pounds of freight, consisting of flour, bacon, sugar, coffee,
ammunition, etc. This outfit was made up of twenty-five teamsters, one
wagon master, one assistant wagon master, one night herder, and one
extra man to take the place of any man that might fall sick. Each man
was provided with a gun and ammunition.

Before hiring to Kirkendall, we had been paid off, and I had more
money than I had ever dreamed I would possess at one time. According
to the custom of the country, and not without some inclination and
vanity of my own, I began investing in good clothes, notably a big
sombrero, a Colt's revolver, a butcher knife, a belt, and a bull whip.
For the latter I paid $7. His whip was the bull-whacker's pride, and
around it circles all his ambition and prowess. Dan bought a similar
outfit. I doubt if two boys ever felt more important. I am sure that
the older men must have smiled at the two youngsters, each buried
beneath his big hat and leaning to one side under the weight of his
"shooting irons." How impatient we were for the start! The days seemed
to stretch into months. At last, however, we were ready, and whooping
farewells, we pulled out.

  [Illustration: _Buffaloes--Just as They Looked in the Old Days._]

Little did we dream of the hardships ahead of us. In the comfort of
our winter camp we had seen ourselves traveling across the Plains in
the bright sunshine of spring, the grass green, the birds singing, and
the streams flashing along the way. The winter rains and frosts had
made the roads miry and seemingly without bottom. We had gone along
without serious trouble until we reached Salt Creek valley. Here we
had to pass through a long lane where the mud was hub deep. We did not
realize how bad it was until we were well into the lane. Often we were
compelled to put twenty-four oxen to one wagon to pull through some of
the bad places. This valley was three or four miles wide, and it took
us all day to get across. A man's patience was thoroughly tried, and
that day I heard more different kinds of swearing than could be put
into a dictionary. After getting out we laid over all next day resting
and making repairs. One wagon was sent back to Leavenworth City for
material to repair things that had been broken. In Salt Creek valley
was pointed out to me a small road in which was said to be Buffalo
Bill's old home.

The road grew better in the neighborhood of Maysville, Kansas, on the
Big Blue, where there were a good many settlers. We were making
between eight and ten miles a day. The Big Blue is a swift stream, and
at the time was in flood, which caused us much trouble in crossing, as
cattle do not take well to water, especially when pulling loaded
wagons. We doubled our teams, cracked our whips, and forced the
reluctant oxen into the torrent with a man on horseback swimming on
each side of them, and in this way they swam and struggled to the
further shore. Often the oxen were in danger of drowning, but the
whole outfit was crossed without the loss of a single animal.

At this crossing the river made a bend, and the road took the
direction of what was called the "dry" route. So we filled our
canteens with water and left the river about three o'clock in the
afternoon, driving until late that night, and making a dry camp. Next
day brought us to the Little Blue, a tributary of the Big Blue. From
there our route bore more to the north, going upstream, and in about
three days we were in sight of Fort Kearney, Nebraska, and from there
by making a long drive, we got to the Platte River in one day.

All the while since leaving Fort Leavenworth I had been tense with the
expectation of seeing a war party of painted Indians, or a herd of
buffaloes sweeping over the Plains. Neither had come to pass, and I
was keenly disappointed.

When we got to the Platte, we struck a main traveled road leading out
from Omaha, Nebraska, St. Joseph, Missouri, and Atchison, Kansas.
These three towns were the main shipping points on the Missouri River
at that time. Here we could see trains moving along or in camp on the
road. Our route led straight up the valley, and in two days we reached
a stage station called Plum Creek, where in later years hostile
Indians committed many depredations. There seemed to be something in
the very air at Plum Creek that was different from what we had left
behind. A feeling of danger, invisible but present, all of which was
manifested when an escort of United States soldiers moved out ahead of
us when the bull train started.

This meant that we were in a dangerous locality. In my boyish
enthusiasm I was delighted instead of being fearful, for it looked as
if we were going into the enemies' country, and from all indications
we were, for we could see where the Indians had raided the settlements
the previous year. At different places where there had been a road
ranch or a small store, their ruins told the tale of fire and rapine
by savage Indians. These buildings were built mostly of sod, as there
was no timber in the country. Here and there we passed a grave at the
side of the road. The raiding had been done by the Sioux. Practically
the only buildings in this part of the country were the way stations
and home stations of the overland stage company which ran from the
Missouri River to California.

After leaving Julesburg, Nebraska, the country became much wilder. We
saw great herds of antelope and many deer. I was impatient for the
sight of buffaloes, and it seemed strange to me that none had
appeared. As a matter of fact they had not worked that far north, but
were coming later. All along the road after we got on the overland
stage route, the stage drivers, who always drove in a gallop as they
passed us, would cry out "Indians on ahead! Better look out!" This we
found was done jokingly, to alarm such tenderfeet as might be among
us, and we soon paid no attention to it, when we encountered no

Julesburg consisted of a couple of stores and two or three saloons.
Here we got a fresh escort of soldiers. Between Plum Creek and
Julesburg we passed a big square stone on which was inscribed "Daniel
Boone" and other inscriptions, one saying that further information
could be found on the other side, meaning the bottom. This stone was
so big that twelve men could not move it. We saw where teams had been
hitched to it and the stone overturned. We did the same thing, and
found the same inscription on the bottom. I doubt if ever a bull train
passed that way without turning that big boulder to satisfy its

Three days out from Julesburg we left the Platte, and struck a trail
called the dry route, at what was known as Freeman's Orchard. There
was no sign of an orchard, however. The South Platte had to be forded,
and it was a different stream from any we had crossed. We stood in
dread of it, as the current was swift and its shores rocky. It took us
a whole day to get over, and some wagons had to be partly unloaded.

There were only three horses in the outfit, used by the wagon master,
his assistant, and the night herder. They were a great help to us in
crossing these streams, as the cattle would follow the horses when no
amount of whipping could make them take the bad place. Traveling
north, we came to the "Cash la Poole," a beautiful mountain stream in
Colorado, beyond which was Fort Collins, which we reached in August,
being on the road two and one-half months.

I now saw mountains for the first time. Fort Collins was situated on
the "Cash la Poole" in the foothills. Long before we got there they
seemed to hang in the sky like clouds. The population of Fort Collins
was mostly post traders and soldiers. We remained there about a week,
unloading supplies and resting the stock. While there I visited an
Indian camp and saw my first Indians. They were Utes, and greatly
interested me. The squaws were drying wild cherries for winter,
pounding them in a stone mortar. The day before we left Fort Collins a
fight took place in our camp between two bull-whackers, Edward Ray and
Jim Lynch, over a game of cards. Ray shot Lynch, and the latter was
left in the hospital at Fort Collins.

Our trip back to Fort Leavenworth was over the same route. My journey
had fascinated me, but I was disappointed in not having engaged in a
fight with Indians, and in not having seen a single buffalo. Going
back we were trailing three or four wagons together, and drove the
rest of the oxen, taking turns with the teams.

Between Julesburg and Plum Creek we met a party of women on their way
to Salt Lake City, Utah, to join the Mormons. There was not a man
among them, and they could not speak a word of English. I was told
that they were Danes. All the women wore wooden shoes. They drove
ox-wagons and had the appearance of being very poor. The sight of
these women so excited our curiosity that the trainmaster called a
halt until they passed us. Their camp was not a great distance from
ours, and that night some of the boys wanted to go and pay them a
visit, but the trainmaster told them that if they did not want to get
left they had better not go.

There were small stores or road ranches, as they were called, all
along the route, generally every ten miles, and often we bought at our
own expense such luxuries as sweet-meats and canned goods which were
not to be found in our commissary. Tomatoes sold at fifty cents a can,
and everything else was in proportion. When we got back as far as
Maysville we could buy fresh vegetables and geese and chickens by
paying a big price for them; but in those days no price was too great
to be paid by hungry men. Money was plentiful and if we could get what
we wanted, we bought it, regardless of what it cost.

As we approached Leavenworth City, we were met by men soliciting trade
for the hotels, stores and saloons, who came out eight or ten miles to
meet us. At the fort our wagons were parked, or formed in a square, to
be left there for the winter, and the oxen were taken to the country
to be fed. By the time we were ready to break camp, hacks and wagons
were coming out to take us down town, each business house being
represented. We had drawn practically none of our wages during the
trip, and when we were paid, many of us felt rich, and had enough to
carry us through the winter if we were not extravagant.

November had arrived and the weather was getting cold. There are few
sights more chilling and somber than the Plains in winter, stretching
brown and dead under a leaden sky, with the wind moaning and roaring
from the north. We could have found jobs with other outfits, as trains
were being fitted out for western forts, to both Fort Lyon and Fort
Riley. Dan and I would have gone as bull-whackers with these, but were
advised by older men not to go, as it would be a hard trip in winter
storms and blizzards. Dan and I remained together for a week, enjoying
the sights. He decided to go back to his old home in Indiana, where he
could be with his parents during the winter. Strangely, I never
afterwards heard of or saw him.

In returning from Fort Collins, I had become strongly attached to
another young fellow named Johnny Baldwin. We were together in the
street one day when we met up with the master of a bull-train that was
getting ready to start to Fort Larned. He was a gruff old codger, and
looked as rusty as a six-shooter that had lain all winter in the snow.
He asked us to go with him, and we would have gone if we had not
struck a better job that very day. After we had told him that we would
decide by next day, we wandered into the street. There we met a man
who caught our fancy beyond all others we had seen. He was a jolly,
good natured fellow, who joked with us, and said that he would like to
hire us to go with a government mule train that was outfitting. He
said that we would get to see "lots of corn-fed country girls" out in
the country where the mules were being fed for the winter. He offered
us each $45 a month, and we hired to him on the spot.

This proved to be a much easier job than the one we had just left. The
outfit consisted of about 150 head of mules that had been driven to a
farm on Soldiers' Creek, about 60 miles from Leavenworth, near where
Holden, Kas., now stands. Here we remained all winter. About all I had
to do was to help the cook and round in the mules at night. We had an
abundance of good things to eat, and grew fat and "sassy."

When the men discovered that I was a good shot, I was given a job that
was wholly to my liking--hunting game for the mess. There were plenty
of quails, rabbits, squirrels and prairie chickens, and I was in my
glory. I ranged the country, a youthful Daniel Boone, enjoying every
moment of the time. I seemed to have a natural aptitude in the
handling of fire-arms. It was my greatest ambition to become a good
shot. In later years I was counted an expert marksman in any company,
regardless of how proficient my rivals might be. I always attributed
my skill with the rifle to my natural love for the sport, to steady
nerves, and to constant, unremitting practice. Where other men found
pleasure in cards, horse-racing and other similar amusements, I was
happiest when ranging the open country with my gun on my shoulder and
a dog at my heels, far out among the wild birds and the wild animals.

In the neighborhood of our camp were a good many settlers, sturdy,
strong people, who lived in the style of the frontier, and, I dare
say, got much more contentment out of life than many who came after
them and lived under more civilized conditions. During the winter,
dances and parties were frequent, and we were hospitably invited to
attend them. I went with the men, but was entirely too bashful to take
part. I sat beside the fiddlers and looked at the pretty girls, rosy
and blushing, and would have given a fortune--had I possessed one--for
courage enough to walk boldly up to the handsomest, ask her to dance
with me, and be able to dance without making blunders as the figures
were called. Alas, such courage and assurance was quite beyond my
strongest resolves. I remember, particularly, one black-eyed girl who
observed my embarrassment, and would always speak to me and invite me
to take part. I adored her for this, but would have fled like an
antelope had she approached me.

Along about the first of March we got orders to take the mules to
Leavenworth. We were elated at the prospect of change. Where were we
going? How long would we be gone? What would be our adventures? These
were questions that came to us thick and fast. This was one of the
splendid things of life in frontier days--this eagerness to be off and
away after a season of hibernation. Many a hunter, many a scout, many
a cowboy, returning from a long and arduous expedition, would swear
that never again would he endure misery and hardships such as he had
encountered. All winter he would stay close to the cook and roast his
shins beside the fire, dead sure that he was forever done with the
roving life. Then, one day, came the honking of wild geese flying
northward; the sun grew warmer; the grass was springing green around
the buffalo chips in the prairie, and in the draws the redbud was
lifting itself in little pink clouds. Farewell to all firm resolves! A
span of oxen could not have held the plainsman in the quarters which
he had believed to be the most delightful place in the world, when he
arrived there in the fall. Something was calling him--something in the
wind, the sky and the dashing rain--and he went, went like a bird from
its cage.

The day we broke camp a "norther" began blowing, and I froze two of my
fingers rather badly. We traveled 35 or 40 miles the first day, the
mules going at a gallop part of the time. We reached Fort Leavenworth
next day, and delivered our mules to the corral-master, after which we
went to the Government mess house, where our appetites attracted
considerable attention and caused no less comment.

The quartermaster paid us our accumulated wages. We were now without a
job. A friendship had grown up between myself and a man named Bill
Gladden. The two of us went from the Fort to the city, and remained
there about three weeks, attracted by the curious sights to be seen
daily in the coming and going of the brawny multitudes of men who gave
to that town a historic interest.

The manager of the farm where I had spent the winter was named McCall.
His family seemed to feel much affection for me. His son, Charley, and
I became fast friends. McCall offered me a job, which Gladden advised
me to accept, as he felt that I was rather young to be fighting my way
against the odds that often overthrew strong men in the Plains
Country. This, however, was not what I wanted to do. I had made up my
mind to go west--and to keep on going west until I could say that I
had seen it all, and had hunted buffaloes and fought Indians to my
complete satisfaction. Little did I dream of how much of this sort of
thing was in store for me in later years. The McCalls were so
persuasive however, that I could not resist their kind offers, and I
remained on the farm about a year. During all this time Mrs. McCall
was a mother to me, and the family treated me as if I were a son and a
brother. I am sure that the good influences of this home were helpful
to me in after life.

I worked for the McCalls until the fall of 1866. In July a number of
horses were stolen from the barn, and my employer gave me the place of
night watchman, a responsible position for a boy of my age. I had the
greatest confidence, however, in my ability to use my rifle in a way
that would be disastrous to thieves. I did not lose a single horse.

The McCalls had two girls and one boy, Charley. The latter was wild
and reckless, but good-hearted and eager for any kind of adventure.
Once he had run away from home and gone west with a Government mule
train. Old man McCall was a great hand to hunt, and often took me with
him on his hunting trips. I always thought that he felt a bit provoked
at me when his folks teased him about my killing the most game, but he
laughed it off, and would brag on me himself.

That fall the McCalls told me that if I wished to remain and go to
school during the winter, my board would not cost me a cent. I was
glad to take advantage of this offer, so Charley and I walked to town
every day to school--the two girls attended a Catholic boarding
school. Prior to this, I had attended school only two terms. Plainly,
my school days were limited.

I did my best to keep Charley out of trouble, and am sure that I
exerted a good influence over him, as he would nearly always listen to
me. Despite my utmost endeavors, he engaged in a number of fights at
school, which caused his parents more or less trouble. During all our
acquaintance Charley and I never spoke a harsh word to each other.

While I was living with the McCalls a shocking tragedy took place at
their home--the suicide of United States Senator James Lane of Kansas.
He was visiting there at the time he killed himself. Mrs. Lane and
Mrs. McCall were sisters. The Senator was in poor health. While riding
with his wife and children, he thrust the muzzle of a six-shooter into
his mouth, and pulled the trigger. The bullet came out at the top of
his head. Strange to say, he lived three days. I was with the
ambulance that was sent out to convey him to Leavenworth, where he
could receive medical aid. Senator Lane was a Kansas pioneer, and took
an active and leading part in the conduct of its early affairs.

Leavenworth City was a tough place in those days, filled with all
kinds of rough characters. I saw three men lying dead in the street
one day, as the result of an extraordinary occurrence. Four men were
sitting under a tree playing cards, as a severe electric storm formed
and swept over the city. One man suggested that the game should be
postponed until after the storm had passed, to which another replied,
"D----n the lightning." At that moment a bolt struck the tree with a
blinding flash, killing all of the men save the one that had asked
that there be no card-playing while the storm was raging. The bodies
of the dead men were laid on the floor of the fire station. Their
deaths caused much comment, as many persons felt that they had
provoked the wrath that fell upon them.

Shootings were as common as the arrival of a bull-train, and excited
little comment. The man who was quickest on trigger usually came out
ahead--the other fellow was buried, and no questions asked.


When the spring of 1867 came around, I was offered my old job on the
farm, and Mrs. McCall, a kind, good woman, used all her influence to
get me to accept it. But my head was filled with dreams of adventure
in the Far West. Always, I could see the West holding its hands toward
me, and beckoning and smiling.

Meeting a Government train-master named Simpson, who was hiring men to
go out with a train that was to be shipped by railroad as far as Fort
Harker, I forgot all that Mrs. McCall had said to me about staying on
the farm, and hired to Simpson. Returning to the farm, I told my good
friends good-bye.

The Kansas Pacific railroad had now been built as far west as Fort
Harker. All our wagons and harness were new and these, together with
the mules, were loaded into cars and shipped to Fort Harker. We went
into camp close to the Fort.

In this outfit were a good many raw men, while the mules were known as
"shave-tails," which meant wild, unbroken mules; only a few had been
harnessed and driven. By this time I could handle a team with as much
ease as a man could. In my lot were two or three gentle mules--I have
cause to remember one old fellow in particular, upon whose back I
afterwards had one of the most exciting rides of my life.

We put in ten days breaking the "shave-tails." It was a scene of
hilarious excitement, and not without danger, as often mules would be
kicking and bucking in harness with might and main, while others would
be running away. At such times the drivers had no time to pay
attention to other things.

While in this camp, cholera began raging at Fort Harker, which struck
terror to many who stood in no fear of other dangers to life. Many of
our men deserted, and two died of the dread disease. I witnessed the
death of one of our men, Frinkum, and shall never forget his agony.
Men who were apparently in the full vigor of health at sunrise lay
dead by night. The authorities kept the number of dead secret as much
as possible. The burials were usually at night.

This epidemic of death extended from Fort Harker, Kansas, to Fort
Union, New Mexico. Its origin was said to have been in the Tenth
Cavalry, a negro command, which had shipped from the East to the
western frontier. Now, all this excitement did not bother me a bit--I
did not think much about it. The doctors made regular calls at our
camp every day, and we were placed on a strict diet. We were forbidden
to eat any kind of vegetable or fresh meat. The disease ran its course
in about three weeks.

Alas, and again alas, up to this time I had never seen a buffalo! I
could almost taste buffalo, so keen was I to behold one of these
shaggy monsters, pawing the sandy plain, throwing dust high in air,
and shaking his ponderous head at his enemies, defying them to battle.

The Government here issued a new lot of arms and ammunition to us.
This looked warlike, and was greatly to my liking. The guns were the
Sharpe's carbine, carrying a linen cartridge, with which was used the
"army hat" cap. In addition, we were given a six-shooter Remington,
cap and ball pistol. These were the very latest arms.

Now came an eventful, a momentous morning, I had just crawled from
under my blankets and was feeding my mules. Glancing to the northwest,
I saw a lone object on the plains. At the moment the object apparently
failed to make an impression upon my mind, and I turned toward my
mules. Then I jumped as if I had been stung by a hornet. With eyes
distended, I whirled and looked again at the lone object on the
Plains. My body was vibrating as if touched by a dynamo.

A buffalo! No mistake about it. There he stood, rather far off and
dim. Maybe he had been waiting for me all these years, waiting for me
to see him. That was my buffalo. I determined that I should get him,
even if I had to twist my fingers in his shaggy mane and drag him
alive into camp.

Seizing a blind-bridle, I slipped it onto the gentle old mule to which
I referred in an earlier page, made a dash for my rifle and rode away
bareback and at top speed after the buffalo.

The buffalo had turned and was moving away from camp when he caught
sight of the boy on the mule riding wildly toward him. With a flip of
his tail, the buffalo struck his rocking-chair gait and went lumbering
away. Up and down hills and across gullies he galloped. I was hot
behind him, and at times was just at the point of getting range, only
to see the buffalo increase his speed and spoil my shot.

We had consumed about eight miles in this sort of thing, when we came
to a smooth flat. My old mule was panting and pretty well winded by
this time, but I was able to make him take another spurt in speed.
This brought me within range. The buffalo fell dead at the first shot.
The explosion scared the mule into hysteria, but his was no worse than
mine. I had not only killed a buffalo, but had killed, unaided, the
first buffalo I ever saw.

By this time three or four men from the outfit had arrived. They were
jubilant over my success, and were kind enough to exaggerate the
distance of the shot. The buffalo was a hard animal to kill instantly,
as a vital spot had to be struck. We skinned the carcass, and each man
cut off a chunk of meat and took it back to camp. Greatly to our
disgust, not a mouthful were we allowed to cook or eat, because of the
cholera quarantine.

A few days later orders were given to load the wagons with Government
supplies for Fort Hayes, Kansas, 90 odd miles west of Fort Harker. By
this time our "shave-tail" mules were under fairly good control, and
we got under headway without much trouble.

On this trip, at a distance, we saw a bunch of Indian warriors, but
did not come in contact with them. In my lack of experience I was
eager for the fray, and was disappointed when I saw the war party
disappear over a long ridge, without my having been able to test my
marksmanship and my new Sharpe's rifle. Buffaloes were seen in
numbers, and I was lucky enough to kill several "on my own hook." We
reached Fort Hayes in about four days, and returned to Fort Harker in
about the same time.

Fort Hayes was garrisoned mostly with negro soldiers. No buildings had
been erected at that time, and we unloaded our supplies in the open
prairie, where guards had been stationed to protect them. The timber
for the buildings was being hauled from Fort Harker.

Our next trip was to Fort Wallace, with Government supplies, the
distance being considerably greater than from Fort Harker to Fort
Hayes. We always had an escort of soldiers, as there was constant
danger of meeting an Indian war party.

In August, 1867, we were sent to Fort Lyon, and on this trip we saw
thousands of buffaloes. The breeding season was now approaching its
close, and at night and early morning could be heard the constant, low
thunder of the bulls, their grunting rising into a roar that was one
of the most striking of the natural phenomena of the Plains country.
The calves, by this time, were alert, active little fellows, closely
guarded by their mothers. Later in the season, all the bulls would
segregate themselves from the cows, to range apart until the next
breeding season. West of Fort Dodge we saw Indians in war paint, and
expected to be attacked, but the rascals veered round us and went on
their way.

Fort Hayes was on a tributary of the Smoky Hill River; old Fort Zarah,
on Walnut Creek; Fort Larned on Pawnee Fork, and Fort Harker on Big
Creek. All these forts were being remodeled and improved. In this way
we put in all that summer, hauling supplies to one fort or the other,
and when not engaged in this, we hauled rock for the foundations of
the buildings.

Along in October, 1867, while several Government trains were at Fort
Harker, waiting for orders, we were notified to make ready to
accompany a party of peace commissioners that had been authorized to
treat with several of the main plains tribes of Indians in the
Southwest, at Medicine Lodge, Kas. These negotiations were afterwards
known as the Medicine Lodge Treaty. Like most other treaties with
these tribes, it was soon broken.

Several trains, with a part of ours, were to accompany this
expedition. I was eager to go, but as no orders had been given to my
outfit, I was fearful that I might be left behind. Here was the
opportunity I had long looked for--to see a big gathering of Indians
close at hand, without danger of getting scalped. I had almost given
up in despair, when an orderly galloped up from headquarters, saying
that two more wagons must be sent forward at once. It was now 6
o'clock in the evening. Simpson, our wagon-master, approached me and

"Billy, you and Frickie (Frickie drove the wagon next to mine) get
ready at once and go into Fort Harker."

As a rule, nothing ever greatly excited me in my frontier days, but I
am bound to admit that I was now going round and round, so overjoyed
was I at my good luck. My agitation came near causing me to be left

I ran as quickly as possible to where my mules were eating their
grain, and without halting jerked the harness from the rack to throw
it onto the lead mule. With both feet this mule kicked me squarely in
the small of the back. I dropped as if I had been struck with an axe,
and found myself partly paralyzed, and scarcely able to move.
Recovering slightly, I regained my feet, but found that I could not
straighten my body. I was game, however. Calling Frickie, I told him
what had happened, and asked him to help me harness my mules, and not
to say a word to anybody about my being hurt. Were it known that I had
been kicked, I might be sent to the hospital. Frickie was a good
fellow, and I was soon on my way to the Fort. By next morning I was in
fairly good shape.

Night had come by the time we reached Fort Harker. We had to load and
then drive about three miles to camp, on the Smoky Hill. The last two
wagons were loaded with ammunition for a small Gatling gun, not an
undesirable equipment on Indian peace expeditions in those days.

We pulled out bright and early next morning for Plum Creek, where
there was a small road-ranch. Next day we reached Fort Zarah on Walnut
Creek and on the third day we went on up the Arkansas and crossed it
about seven miles below Fort Larned. We reached Medicine Lodge on the
fourth day, where the treaty was to be held.

All along the way on this trip we were traveling through countless
numbers of buffaloes. I remember seeing a wounded buffalo cow followed
by six big lobo wolves. No hoofed animal could withstand these savage
beasts--they were a terror to other wild life on the Plains. Wantonly,
several buffaloes had been shot, and left lying to rot on the ground.
An orderly came riding down the line with strict orders, that if
another man in the outfit fired another shot at a buffalo he would be
placed in irons.

Between the Arkansas River and Medicine Lodge we were met by a number
of noted Indian chiefs, mounted upon their finest horses and arrayed
in their most splendid costumes. They carried themselves with dignity
and in every feature was revealed their racial pride and their haughty
contempt of the white man. Among them I recall Satanta, Kicking Bird,
and Black Kettle.

Satanta, chief of the Kiowas, rode a big black horse, and presented a
magnificent appearance. It was because of his complaint that the order
had been issued against the killing of buffaloes--a complaint that lay
at the very heart of the grievances of the Indian against the white
man in frontier days. He declared that the buffaloes were the property
of himself and his people, and to destroy the buffalo meant the
destruction of the Indian. Leading a nomadic life, which prevented his
tilling the soil, even if he had wished to engage in agriculture,
which he did not, the Indian saw that he would be deprived of his
principal and most necessary food--buffalo meat--if the buffaloes were

At a later day General Phil. Sheridan, to subdue and conquer the
Plains tribes for all time, urged and practiced the very thing that
Satanta was fearful might happen. In the early 70's, the state
legislatures of Kansas and Colorado, listening to the appeal of the
Indians, through sympathetic white persons, enacted laws to stop the
slaughtering of the buffaloes, General Sheridan at that time was in
command of the Military Department of the Southwest, with headquarters
at San Antonio. The Texas legislature, in session at Austin, was at
the point of declaring against the merciless slaughter of buffaloes
that was then under way in the Staked Plains and Panhandle regions.
General Sheridan is said to have told the legislators that the state
should give to every buffalo-hunter a bronze medal, on one side of
which should be a dead buffalo, and on the other, a discouraged
Indian, adding:

"These men have done more in the last year to settle the vexed Indian
question than the entire regular army has done in the last thirty
years. They are destroying the Indians' commissary; and it is a
well-known fact that an army losing its base of supplies is placed at
a great disadvantage. Send them powder and lead, if you will; but, for
the sake of a lasting peace, let them kill, skin, and sell until the
buffaloes are exterminated. Then your prairies can be covered with
speckled cattle, and the festive cowboy, who follows the hunter as a
second fore-runner of an advanced civilization."

The Texas legislature accepted General Sheridan's advice. The Texans
as a people were readily disposed to agree with that point of view,
for in no State did the Plains Indians commit crimes more cruel and
horrible than in Texas.

On our way to Medicine Lodge our train of sixty wagons was strung out
for a distance of about two miles, accompanied by a strong escort of

The members of this Indian Peace Commission were: N. G. Taylor,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs; John B. Henderson, United States
Senator; General William Tecumseh Sherman; General W. L. Harney; John
B. Sanborn; General A. H. Terry; S. F. Tappan, and General C. C. Augur.

  [Illustration: _Satank, The Old Tiger of the Kiowas._]

Among the notable chiefs were: Satanta, Kicking Bird, Black Kettle,
Medicine Arrow, and Lone Wolf. Black Kettle was then at the height of
his power, but soon to meet the death he had so often inflicted. He
led the Cheyenne raid in the valley of the Solomon River in August,
1868, and had been in the Sand Creek fight in Colorado, November,
1864, where Colonel Chivington, commanding a regiment of Colorado
troops massacred a lot of Cheyennes. I camped on that battleground in
1870 while hunting buffaloes. The spot was still strewn with bones of
the dead, and the trees were yet scarred by the hail of bullets that
had come from the guns of the soldiers, who killed old and young,
women and children, without mercy, and atrociously mutilated the
bodies of the dead. In 1866, at Fort Harker, Black Kettle had made a
speech of great eloquence, asking the Government not to permit the
building of railroads through the Indian country, as it would drive
away the buffaloes and leave the Indians to starve.

This fear of the change that would follow the building of railroads
across the Plains was night and day in the heart of the Indian. No
chief made a speech in which he did not refer to it. In June, 1871,
Little Raven, Powder face, and Bird Chief, Arapahoes; Little Robe and
Stone Calf, Cheyennes, and Buffalo Good, Wichita, were taken to
Washington and Boston, that they might be impressed with the white
man's strength, and futility of the Indians' further resistance the
Government. Stone Calf, in a speech at Tremont Temple, Boston, handled
the railroad question in this manner.

"They (the Government) said they would teach our people to plant and
raise corn, and to build our habitations from trees. But before they
ever ploughed or planted an acre of corn for us they commenced to
build railroads through our country. What use have we for railroads in
our country? What have we to transport from our nations? Nothing. We
are living wild, really living on the prairies as we have in former
times. I do not see that we have been benefitted in the least by all
the treaties that we have made with the United States Government."

We went into camp on Medicine Lodge Creek, to wait until the gathering
Indians had come in. Near us was a small village of Indians, to whom a
runner came on the third day to notify them that some of their
livestock had been stolen by the Kaws, a neighboring tribe. We could
see the wave of excitement run over the village, and the bucks running
to and fro, getting ready for the pursuit. The squaws were no less
active. They helped saddle the ponies, etc., and jabbered and screamed
to each other in a way that would have made it hard for the marauders
had they been captives in the custody of the squaws. As each buck got
ready, he rode away without waiting for his companions. They returned
later in the day with their ponies, but had been unable to overtake
the thieves.

I shall never forget the morning of October 28, 1867. At a distance of
about two miles from our camp was the crest of a low swell in the
Plains. The background was blue sky--a blue curtain that touched the
brown Plains. For a moment I was dumbfounded at sight of what was
rising over that crest and flowing with vivid commotion toward us. It
was a glittering, fluttering, gaily colored mass of barbarism, the
flower and perfection of the war strength of the Plains Indian tribes.
The resplendent warriors, armed with all their equipment and adorned
with all the regalia of battle, seemed to be rising out of the earth.
Their number was estimated at 15,000, but I cannot vouch for its

As they came into plainer view, the Indians spread their ranks wider
and wider, to create as profound an impression as possible, and
inspire us deeply with their power. Now they could be heard chanting
and singing. Having arrived within a quarter of a mile of our camp,
the Indians charged like a whirlwind, firing their guns and
brandishing them above their heads. The charge was abruptly halted,
and the Indians stood at rest, waiting for the negotiations to begin.
The tribes represented were the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa, Apache, and

While the Indians were advancing, and were about half a mile distant,
orders were given in camp that every man should retire at once to his
tent, and there hold himself in readiness to resist an attack, which
might be made at any moment. My boyish curiosity got the better of me,
and I was standing just outside the door of my tent, gazing with open
mouth at the oncoming Indians. General Harney was walking up and down
the line between the tents, encouraging the men, telling them not to
be afraid, as we had enough men to whip all the Indians in sight. He
saw me as he was passing my tent. Tapping me on the shoulder with his
riding whip, he said, "Get back into your tent, young man." I lost no
time in obeying him.

This fine old warrior made a lasting impression upon me, and I can see
him now, as if it were only yesterday, passing back and forth in the
camp street, with the fire of valor burning in his eyes. He felt the
responsibility of this critical moment, and knew that the slightest
break on either side would precipitate war on the spot. He made an
imposing appearance that memorable fall morning. He was gray-haired,
straight, broad-shouldered, and towered to the commanding height of
six feet and six inches. General Harney was an experienced Indian
fighter, and exerted a powerful influence among the Plains tribes.
They knew him and respected him, believing that he had always told
them the truth.

The Indians drew up their horses at a distance of about 200 yards.
General Harney had motioned to them to stop, and for their principal
chiefs to come into camp. The latter were obedient to his request and
after dismounting, sat down with the peace commissioners. At the end
of about an hour's conference, the main body of Indians was permitted
to enter camp. There were many Indian boys not more than ten years old
among the warriors, which probably was an artifice to create among us
the belief that there were more fighting men than were actually in the

  [Illustration: _Indian Ration Issue at Fort Sill._]

Bringing up the rear were the squaws and children and dogs. The squaws
pitched their tepees on the creek in sight of our camp.

The young bucks spurned all friendly overtures, refusing to shake
hands, and conducting themselves in a sullen manner. After riding
through our camp many times, evidently to examine it carefully and
gain an accurate knowledge of our strength, they withdrew and remained
at a distance. During this time the troops were intently watching
every movement of the Indians, suspecting treachery at every turn.

The commission and the chiefs finally agreed upon the terms of the
treaty, the main point of which was that the Indians should keep south
of the Arkansas River. I had reason to remember this particular
provision in subsequent years, as did many another buffalo-hunter. To
venture south of the Arkansas for buffalo was to risk falling into the
very jaws of the lion, as the Indians fought jealously for the
preservation of the right which they declared had been given to them
at Medicine Lodge.

The making of treaties with the Plains tribes was followed by the
breaking of these treaties whenever the Indians saw fit to do so.
Conditions generally made it difficult for the Indians to do
otherwise. They were beset on all sides by a frontier population that
was as hostile to the Indians as the Indian was to the whites. Lack of
permanency and continuity in the arrangements made by the Federal
government were largely responsible for the unrest and frequent
outbreaks. The situation was clearly described by General W. B. Hazen
in 1874, when most of the southwestern tribes had gone on the warpath.
He said:

"As one example of this very point, I will call attention to
successive treaties made with the Kiowas, Satanta at the head, by five
separate and successive commissions, each ignorant of what the other
had done, and believing that they alone were receiving the fresh faith
of these people. Several solemn treaties were made, by which these
people were to cease war, and especially raiding into Texas, previous
to the Medicine Lodge treaty of 1866, all to be broken within thirty
days thereafter. Then comes that of Medicine Lodge, terms of which you
know. Then one was made with General Sheridan and myself, at Fort
Larned, in the autumn of 1868, to be quickly broken. Then, again, in
1869, with General Sheridan, to be broken not less than twenty times,
until he was imprisoned in Texas. Then a new farce with the
commissioners, by which he was released, and he is now leading the war
party of the tribe. This would have been impossible had there not been
men ignorant of the situation, at each successive occasion to deal
with these people, nor could it have taken place had the Army, with
its persistent organization, control of Indian affairs. Such is the
case all through the administration of Indian matters. One civil
administration, or one set of civil officers, in good faith undertakes
an experimental policy, good enough of itself, but as soon as anything
is done on the new plan, with all its invariable pledges, and its
flattering promises are fully conceived and begun, a new
administration begins, with equally good intent, an entirely new
policy, unintentionally disregarding all the promises and efforts of
its predecessors and their agents. The savage cannot comprehend this,
and naturally calls it a lie, the white people a nation of liars, and
as evidence relates a half dozen cases like that just described. I am
giving no fictitious imaginings, but what I know. This thoroughly
destroys any faith or interest that otherwise may be nourished in an
Indian community; nor can this be changed only by giving them a
consecutive policy, which is impractical only through some branch of
government that is in itself perpetual."

The "peace policy" of the Government actually encouraged a number of
the more daring chiefs to become defiant in their dealings with
Washington. When they saw that the Government did not strike back, or
strike back quickly, they did not hesitate to go on raids and commit
depredations. Shortly after Satanta and Big Tree, Kiowas, had been
paroled by the Texas authorities, in 1873, the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs, then at Fort Sill, demanded the surrender and arrest of
certain Comanche warriors who had been raiding in Texas, saying that
if this order should not be obeyed within ten days, it would be
inforced by military power. A portion of the Comanche warriors
immediately left for the Plains, and it being evident that an attempt
to compel compliance by military force could only be successful after
a long campaign, the order was suspended and no arrests were made.

The effect of this wavering policy was bad. The same hostile warriors
of the Comanches and Kiowas considering themselves victorious, became
more and more open in their hostile demonstrations, and during the
winter and spring frequent consultations were held by them, sometimes
including the neighboring Cheyennes, looking to the marauding
expeditions upon a larger scale than for the many years before. Some
time in May, at the annual "Medicine" dance of the Comanches, near the
mouth of the Sweetwater, one of their young men, making his first
appearance as a "medicine" man or prophet, professed to have a
revelation from the Great Spirit, to the effect that the Caddoes,
Wichitas, and other friendly Indians who were following in the way of
the whites, would soon go out of existence, and this would be the fate
of the Comanches if they followed the same road; that the only way for
them to become the great and powerful nation they once were, was to go
to war and kill all the white people they could. The Indians said that
he predicted the great drouth that occurred that year; and that he
told them that the bullets would drop harmlessly from the guns of the
white men; that he appealed to them for the truth of his revelation by
predicting that the comet, then attracting general attention, would
disappear in five days, and made other demonstrations which to them
appeared miraculous and obtained for him entire credence for all his
words. The hearts of all the young Comanche warriors were at once
fired. Another "medicine" dance was soon after appointed, to which all
Kiowas and Cheyennes were invited, when the Comanche "medicine" man
again appeared, and at which plans were discussed and determined on
for a campaign of murder and rapine. From this period murders and
depredations became so frequent as to excite general alarm.

War parties were soon ranging through what is now western Oklahoma,
the Texas Panhandle, western Kansas, and eastern Colorado. The war
plans of the Kiowas, Comanches and Cheyennes were consolidated by an
exciting occurrence at Wichita Agency, August 22, 1874, which inflamed
them to outbreaks on a larger scale.

A number of Kiowas and the Noconee band of Comanches with their squaws
and children went to the Agency and began raiding the fields and
gardens of the friendly Wichitas. General J. W. Davidson, in command
at Fort Sill, was notified, and he sent Lieutenant Woodward with a
detail of forty men of the Tenth Cavalry to disarm the hostiles and
compel their return to Fort Sill. Big Red Food, the chief, turned over
a few guns and pistols, but declared that he would not surrender his
bows and arrows. In the latter he was supported by the terms of a
recent agreement in which it was held that only guns should be classed
as arms. With a whoop Big Red Food and his warriors dashed away. The
soldiers fired a volley at the Indians. The latter destroyed much
property and committed several murders in the neighborhood of the
Agency. The war party quickly grew in numbers, and prospect of peace
in the Plains country was vanishing.

Wagon loads of supplies and presents had been brought for the Indians,
all of which were now distributed. The supplies were mostly blankets,
clothing, hats, sugar, coffee and flour, which were issued to the head
men, and these in turn made distribution among the families. The
Indians now seemed in much better humor.

The day was warm, though fall was at hand, and the heat brought much
discomfort to some of the Indians--those, for instance, who put on
every article of clothing that had been given to them. It was a
comical sight to see some of the old bucks wearing two or three heavy
coats and two high-crowned Army hats, one on top of the other. Others
were attired in Army uniforms, but without trousers. The latter was a
garment which no wild Indian could be induced to wear.

In a short time there was much trading going on between the soldiers
and the Indians, but on the sly, as strict orders had been issued
against it, especially the trading of any kind of fire-arms to the
Indians. The temptation was too strong, however, and I traded my old
cap-and-ball six-shooter to an old Indian for three buffalo robes and
other trinkets.

About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the day the Indians came in we got
orders to be ready to pull out in an hour. It was nearly sundown when
we broke camp. We traveled until late that night to reach the Arkansas
River crossing, where we went over and made camp.

We pulled into Fort Harker about November 1, and drove on out to where
the rest of the train was in camp. While unloading our wagons at the
Post, a rumor spread that gave us some uneasiness--a rumor about what
might happen to the fellows who traded fire-arms to the Indians at
Medicine Lodge. The fine for a man who had sold a six-shooter would be
fifty dollars, which was enough money to buy a whole lot of fun in
those days.

These arms were the property of the United States Government, and
proof that a man had sold a gun meant serious trouble. An order came
to the men to turn in all their arms. It looked as if I was in bad
shape. In my predicament Frickie again came to my aid, and just in the
nick of time, by offering to lend me his six-shooter--a six-shooter
which he personally owned. I turned in Frickie's gun, and later
received another, which I gave to him.

We had grown rather tired of the job of telling the boys that had
stayed behind all about the Medicine Lodge treaty by the time orders
came for us to hitch up for a trip to Fort Leavenworth. At Fort Harker
was a lot of artillery that had been assembled there in 1866 by
General Hancock for an Indian campaign. He found that dragging cannons
here and there over the Plains in pursuit of hostile Indians was about
as feasible as hitting a hummingbird with a brickbat. The Indians
moved like the wind or like shadows, and were too wary to come within
range of artillery. So the cannons were parked at Fort Harker as
useless. All of them were to be hauled back by wagon to Fort
Leavenworth. Our trail led along the railway for miles, and it seemed
ridiculous that the cannons should not be transported by train. The
cost of shipment would have been excessive, however, and inasmuch as
the government owned the teams and wagons and was paying us by the
month there was no good reason why we should not be hauling cannon to
Fort Leavenworth.

We made our first camp near Salina, Kas., and narrowly escaped losing
our wagons by fire. In the early morning, a spark blew from a
camp-fire into the tall, dry grass. Instantly, the fire began running
with the speed of a race horse. All hands turned out to save tents,
bedding, wagons, etc. By back-firing, and by beating out the flames
near our tents, we were able to get the fire under control. At best,
however, we would have lost our wagons had it not been for our good
luck in having the teams hitched before the fire broke out. This
enabled us to shift the position of the wagons as necessity required.

The fires on the Plains in fall and winter, after frost had cured the
grass, were often a magnificent spectacle, especially at night when
their radiance reddened the sky for many miles. The sky would be
luminous, even though the fire was too far beyond the horizon to be
seen. Once under strong headway, with the fire spread over a wide
area, it was difficult to arrest its progress. To the experienced
plainsman, equipped with a flint or matches, there was no imminent
danger, as he knew how to set out protective fires, and thus insure
his safety.

These big fires were rather terrifying, nevertheless, especially to
the "tenderfoot." Carried forward in the teeth of a high, boisterous
wind, the fire was appalling, and there was something sinister and
somber in the low roar that sent terror to the heart of wild animals.
Vast clouds of smoke were carried into the heavens, until the sun lost
its radiance and hung red and dull, like a copper shield, in the
opaque depths. The ashes of burned vegetation sifted down hour after
hour, as if a volcano were throwing out fine lava dust. At night, when
the wind was still, a fire on the Plains was a beautiful sight. In the
far distance, the tongues of flame appeared so small that they looked
like a red line of countless fingers, pointing with trembling motion
toward the sky. The danger of these fires to life in the Plains
country has commonly exaggerated. The grass that grew in the Plains
did not have the height to produce a sweeping, high-rolling fire, such
as was often seen in the regions of the tall bluestem in eastern

Upon reaching Fort Leavenworth, the wagons were unloaded, the outfits
turned over to the Government, and the "shave-tail drivers" paid off.
I had a comfortable stake for a young fellow, and spent the winter in
Leavenworth and Kansas City, mingling with the hardy frontiersmen and
listening delightedly to their incomparable tales of adventure. I went
frequently to the home of my friends, the McCall's, where I always
found a hospitable welcome. Several times I went out from both
Leavenworth and Kansas City with hunting parties. In those days,
railroad companies used to promote "personally conducted" hunting
parties to the buffalo range, hunters coming from such distances as
Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis.


In the spring of 1868 I obtained employment with a man named Powell
who owned a store at Baxter Springs, Kas. Powell owned a train of six
wagons, all drawn by four-mule teams, which he kept on the road
hauling lumber and supplies from Leavenworth to Baxter. Much has been
written about Dodge City, Caldwell and Abilene as wild and woolly
towns in frontier days. None of them was livelier than Baxter Springs,
especially after the completion of the railroad to that point. Baxter
was the northern terminus of a trail from Texas across Indian
Territory, Indian Territory was infested by the most desperate class
of men I ever saw, most of whom were citizens of that lawless country.
Baxter Springs supplied in abundance all that the most dissipated
character could wish for in the way of whisky, women, gambling and
fighting. The story of the early days at Baxter would make a
fascinating book.

At Baxter I saw the battleground where Quantrell, the guerrilla,
captured General Blunt's supply train in 1864. The capture was
virtually a horrible massacre by this blood-thirsty "partisan ranger"
and his men. I was told that Quantrell got General Blunt's uniform,
and afterwards wore it. I could still see the bullet marks on the
trees where the fight took place.

I remember with Powell most of that summer, hauling from Kansas City
part of the time. I was still bent upon getting further west. I
thirsted for adventure, but as yet had seen only the mere fringe of
it. At the end of several months, I went to Leavenworth with a lot of
freighters, and there met up with a man named Cox who was hiring men
to go with a mule train to Fort Hays. I hired to Cox, as did Sam
Harkness, a companion with whom I had worked all summer. To our great
satisfaction, we found that the mules, which had been shipped from
Missouri and Kentucky, were all broke, and by no means the desperate
"shave-tails" that confronted me when I started from Leavenworth for
the first time.

These were exciting times. The very air buzzed with news of Indian
depredations. The Government was rushing troops and supplies to the
front, as if the world were coming to an end. The Indians had broke
out again, and were leaving a trail of blood and ashes in the valley
of the Solomon, where settlements were in abject terror, not knowing
at what moment a swiftly moving war party might descend and murder the
inhabitants, burn the buildings and drive off the livestock. Worst of
all was the nature of the cruelties inflicted by the Indians upon all
who fell into their clutches. The outrages upon women were too
horrible to be described. The forays extended into the Saline valley.

The Indians had kept the treaty that had been made at Medicine Lodge
the previous year only until the moment the grass was green enough to
feed their ponies and bring back the buffaloes. The Indian was able to
live and flourish solely upon buffalo meat, and so long as he had
buffalo meat he would eat no other, not even venison, antelope or wild

Cox loaded his six hundred mules and his drivers aboard train and we
started over the Kansas Pacific for Fort Hays. This railroad now
extended as far west as Denver. We reached Fort Hays October 15, 1868.
The fall was cold and disagreeable with lots of rain. To add to our
discomfort, really our misery, we found that all the mules, big
fellows from Missouri and Kentucky, were as wild as wolves, not one of
them having been broke. Worst of all there was no time to break them.
The Government wanted supplies rushed forward with all possible haste
to what was known as Camp of Supply, afterwards Camp Supply, a
military garrison, at the junction of Beaver and Wolf Creek in what is
now Woodward County, Oklahoma.

The "wild west" performances in recent years were tame affairs
compared with the handling of those mules. It was with a feeling of
desperation that each man crawled out of his warm bed in the half
light of early morning, ate his breakfast and then went out into the
raw, drizzly cold to harness his mules. Kicking, squealing and
bucking, they wore out a man's patience, and he was tempted to use his
six-shooter on the devilish animals. To get them harnessed and hitched
and the wagons strung out was a Napoleonic job. Once on the road,
however, there was little to do beyond holding the mules in line, as
the wagons were too heavily loaded for the mules to run away. When
everything was moving, there were one hundred wagons and six hundred
mules going down the trail. Our discomfort was increased by the fact
that much of the time the ground was covered with snow. Our supplies
were to equip Custer's command that later was to fight the battle of
the Washita and wipe out Black Kettle and his band, to be followed
still later by General Sheridan's going south and whipping the
hostiles so badly that they never fully recovered their courage. The
Indians were subdued mostly by the fact that the Government made a
winter campaign, something that the Indians had never experienced.
They were caught between the guns of the soldiers and the necessity of
having food, shelter and warmth for their families and feed for their
ponies. Defeat was inevitable under such dire circumstances.

The first day out we got to Smoky Hill River and camped for the night.
We then pulled to Walnut Creek, and the third day brought us to Pawnee
Fork. Between this place and what is now the town of Buckner, Kas., we
had a stampede that for real excitement beat anything I had ever seen.
The mules ran in every possible direction, overturning wagons, and
outfit colliding with outfit until it looked as if there would never
be a pound of freight delivered at Supply. Many of the wagons were so
badly demolished that they had to be abandoned and left behind. Their
loads were piled on other wagons and carried forward.

Our route carried us past Saw Log Creek, Fort Dodge--there was no
Dodge City at that time--Mulberry Creek, and thence to Bluff Creek.
Here we sighted buffalo, the first we had seen on the trip. As we
advanced further from the border of civilization buffalo grew more
plentiful, so plentiful that between Bluff Creek and the Cimarron a
big herd of stampeding buffaloes bore squarely down upon our train.
Things looked squally, as there was danger, not only of being run over
by the buffaloes but of our mules running away, a disaster that would
have been costly. A troop of cavalry was deployed to drive back or
turn the oncoming herd. Every man in the outfit got out his gun, and
we were able to give the buffaloes a reception that brought many of
them to the ground, saved the mule train, and filled our pots and
skillets with fine meat.

We reached Camp Supply at the end of a twelve days' journey. The
supplies were unloaded on the ground and covered with tarpaulins. The
site had been chosen by General Sully, upon the recommendation of an
old scout, "Uncle John" Smith, who had been on the frontier about
thirty years, and is said to have been the first white man that ever
visited the country bordering the two Canadians. We did not see a
single Indian during the trip to Supply.

  [Illustration: _Wood-hauler Found Scalped Near Fort Dodge._]

Returning to Fort Hays, we made a second trip down without mishap. But
trouble was in store for us on our way back. The unloaded wagons were
comparatively light, and the mules could easily pull them. We were
driving two wagons abreast. Nobody ever knew what scared one of the
rear teams, but it certainly got scared, and that particular outfit
was soon going in the direction of Missouri and Kentucky at the rate
of about thirty miles an hour. The rattling and banging and jolting of
the wagon, and the shouting and swearing of the driver caused a tumult
that spread panic among other teams and the stampede quickly reached
the lead teams. So here we went, in every possible direction. It was
impossible to hold the mules. Wagons were overturned, broken and
scattered over the prairie for miles, and some of the mules were so
badly crippled that they had to be shot. Some tore themselves loose
from their harness and ran so far away that they were never found. The
spectacle of those six hundred mules running away with their one
hundred wagons was the most remarkable I ever witnessed.

One outfit, including both the wagon and the six mules, disappeared
completely. I found them in 1871 when I was hunting buffaloes on that
range. The wagon and the carcasses of the mules were in a draw or
small canyon, about 12 miles from where the stampede began. In their
headlong course, the mules could not stop when they came to the brink
of the draw, so in they went, with the wagon piling on top of them.
They were still hitched to the wagon, but badly tangled in the
harness. In the wagon was an Army needle-gun, which showed that I was
the first person to reach the spot.

After this experience, the mules were harder than ever to control, and
would "run at the drop of the hat" or the flip of a prairie dog's

Fort Hays, at this time was the supply point for all the Government
forts to the south, and remained as such until the Santa Fe railroad
came through in the fall of 1872. I remained at Fort Hays until the
fall of 1869, and this was my last work for the Government until 1874,
when I was employed as a scout and guide under General Miles. During
the five years I had been making my own way in the world, I had worked
for the Government most of the time.

I was now eighteen years old, in perfect health, strong and muscular,
with keen eyesight, a natural aptitude for outdoor life, an excellent
shot, and had a burning desire to experience every phase of adventure
to be found on the Plains. I had worked all the summer of 1869 with
George Smith and Tom Campbell, and liked them so well that we had
planned fitting up an outfit to hunt and trap that winter. So along in
November the three of us bought a good team and wagon, traps and
provisions, and guns and ammunition and started north along the Saline
River. Campbell was an old trapper and knew how to take beaver, which
were fairly plentiful along the streams.

My happiness now seemed complete, and I enjoyed to the fullest every
moment of my life. Storm nor darkness nor hunger nor toil cooled my
ardor in the slightest degree. We caught not only beaver, but several
otter. Wolves abounded everywhere, and we trapped a large number.
Their pelts were worth from $2.50 to $3 each. In this way we put in
the winter, and made good money. We had a warm, comfortable dugout,
with plenty of wood and water. I had no wish to return to a city. At
intervals we would take a load of game to Hays City, where there was a
ready market. Once we took in a load of elk, and got twenty dollars
apiece for the carcasses.

The hunting of buffaloes for their hides began in the spring of 1870.
That was also the beginning of the destruction of the buffalo. As I
remember, the hunting was started by a firm of eastern hide-buyers
whose agents came to Hays City and other towns near the buffalo range
and offered prices, that made hide-hunting a profitable occupation.

We were in the very heart of the best buffalo country between the
Dominion of Canada and the Rio Grande, and quickly abandoned trapping
for buffalo hunting. The first offers were $1 each for cowhides and $2
each for bull hides, which enabled us to make money rapidly. As the
slaughter increased, and the buffaloes grew scarcer prices were
advanced, until $4 was being paid for bull hides by the fall of 1872.

During the winter of 1870 we ranged all over western Kansas, but
principally along the Republican River and its tributaries. Generally,
there were three or four men in an outfit, each having contributed his
share for necessary expenses. They went where the range was best, and
buffaloes most plentiful. A dugout was built and occupied as permanent
headquarters camp, the hunters ranging for miles through the
surrounding country. The only kind of dugout worth having was one with
a big, open fire-place, near the edge of a stream of good water, with
plenty of wood along its banks. We often occupied the same dugout for
a month or more. Then, as the buffaloes grew less plentiful, we
shifted our camp and built a new dugout, which was easily and quickly

From where the buffaloes were killed in the range, we hauled the hides
to camp, where we dried them and hauled them to market. Though I was
not quite eighteen years of age, there were very few men who could
excel me in marksmanship, which possibly was a natural gift
supplemented by more or less constant practice.

I always did my own killing, and generally had two experienced men to
do the skinning. A capable man could skin fifty buffaloes a day, and
usually was paid $50 a month. I have paid as much as twenty-five cents
a hide to a good skinner. We often killed the buffaloes the day before
they were to be skinned.

During the fall, Smith and Campbell grew tired of the business and
wanted to quit. I bought the outfit, and straightway hired two men to
work for me, and started out killing buffaloes more energetically than
ever. One of my skinners was a Mexican and the other a man named

Up to this time I had hunted north of the Kansas Pacific railroad, and
as far west as Fort Wallace. As the fall advanced, I began ranging
further south, as the buffaloes were becoming somewhat scarce. I was
moving toward a country of future trouble--trouble with Indians--and
to a region where in time I should meet with more adventure than I had
ever dreamed of.

We moved south of Hays City about ten miles and came to a boiling
spring that flowed from an opening in solid rock. Here we decided to
make our permanent camp for the winter, so we built a picket house and
a big dugout, expecting to dry a lot of buffalo meat for market, but
finally abandoned this scheme. Our camp was on a main-traveled road
leading to Hays City. Freighters and hunters urged me to establish a
road ranch or store, where such supplies as were used in that country
could be purchased in reasonable quantities. Having some spare money,
I stocked up with tobacco, whisky and a general line of groceries, and
employed a man named Billy Reynolds to run the place for me, while I
devoted my time to killing buffaloes. Many a jolly company gathered at
the road ranch at the boiling spring. The sale of whisky was a common
practice in those days, as whisky was freely used by frontiersmen, and
its sale was expected as a matter of course. Other conditions were too
hard and too pressing for the question of the morals of the traffic to
be raised as it was in later years, when the country became more
thickly settled, and an entirely new order of things was established.

I was well acquainted with Reynolds, and liked him, having formed his
acquaintance on the Custer expedition to Camp Supply in 1868 when he
was a mule-driver. He was a friendly, whole-souled kind of fellow, and
knew just how to treat men to get their trade. I made good money out
of this venture until 1871 when the income abruptly and permanently
ceased--during my absence Reynolds sold the whole outfit and skipped
the country, without even telling me good bye. I had been absent two
weeks when I returned one day to find only the empty building. I never
again heard of Billy Reynolds. I doubt that his robbing me was ever to
his final advantage. Money obtained in that way never brought good
luck, even in the Plains country, where men were judged by rougher
standards than prevailed further east.

I formed another partnership with a man named Finn, who was square and
honest, and sold him an interest in the business. I had known him a
number of years. He added another good team to the outfit. He had been
a Government teamster and had served in the Civil War. He was a good
story-teller, and when the day's work was done, and we were
comfortably seated around the fire, nothing pleased me more than to
get Finn started telling stories. He was a native of Ireland, which
gave a fine spice to his tales.

Finn and I hunted together about a year. During this time I had for a
skinner another Irishman, a man named Mike McCabe. Mike had red hair,
and a fiery temper. But he was a fine fellow, and I thought a great
deal of him. He was one of the best workers I ever saw. Mike would
fight at the drop of the hat, and again would sulk for weeks at a time
over a fancied wrong. The men nicknamed him "Cranky" or "Fighting"
McCabe. When he was in good humor a livelier fellow could not be
found, but the moment he got a grouch he clouded up like a Panhandle

The only thing in the world McCabe was afraid of was an Indian, of
which I shall write later. Though small in size, McCabe would fight a
man twice his size, and always give a good account of himself. His
consuming passion was gambling, and when he struck town he invariably
lost everything he had at the card table. He worked for me, off and
on, for three years, and was with me at the fight at Adobe Walls.

During the time McCabe was with my outfit the two of us got along
amicably, save when he would imagine that the world was against him,
whereupon in a great huff he would quit, draw all his pay, and strike
out for the nearest town--and its first gambling house within his
reach. There he would remain until his last dollar was gone. Some fine
morning McCabe would show up with beaming face and good-natured
blarney, take his old job, and work even better than before.

Once he had been sulking for almost a week and had not spoken to a man
in camp. When we started hunting, we decided to pull out and leave him
at the ranch alone, which we did. After making our kill of buffaloes,
we started back. When we got in sight of the ranch we were astonished
at seeing McCabe dancing on a dry buffalo robe stretched on the
ground. He was giving all the fancy steps and dancing as if a full
orchestra were playing. Upon seeing us, he stopped dancing, and seemed
chagrined. He had been entertaining himself. His conduct was rather

I rarely ever made a full settlement with McCabe, as he preferred to
draw his pay in installments. I paid him fifty dollars a month.
Sometimes he would have several hundred dollars ahead, and again he
would be considerably overdrawn. Finally, he decided he would quit for
good. Getting down to the job of a settlement, I carefully figured
each item and found that just two dollars were due him, whereupon he
said, with a twinkle in his eye, "It beats the devil that a man should
work three long years and get just two dollars." He went away in good
humor, and we were always warm friends.

Finn and I were together until the next fall. He then took a notion to
go back east and visit his folks, whom he had not seen since the Civil
War. He was a frugal man, and did not smoke, chew tobacco nor drink
whisky. His share of the year's work amounted to $5,000, which gave
him a pretty good stake. He went to Rochester, New York, invested his
money and was soon doing a profitable business. Several years
afterwards he wrote to me saying that he longed to come back to the
Plains country and its free life, but he never came.

Before Finn went away we had taken into partnership a man named Jack
Callahan, who had been a Government wagonmaster at Fort Hays. Jack
never saw the dark side of things, and was a delightful companion.
During the winter of 1871 Jack and I were hunting on the headwaters of
Pawnee Fork, drifting back and forth from there to Smoky Hill and
Walnut Creek and their tributaries. Our permanent camp was on
Hackberry Creek, a branch of Pawnee Fork. Along in November we had one
of the worst blizzards I ever saw. It was this terrible storm that
caught a wagon train loaded with cordwood for Hays City. This was
Snuffer's bull train. All the cattle froze to death. The men were in a
frightful condition when found. The outfit had been to Camp Supply
with freight, and on the return trip had loaded up with cordwood on
Walnut Creek.

The storm struck them just as they went into camp for the night, after
the stock had been turned loose to graze. When the storm broke, every
man turned out to help hold the stock, and many of them were soon lost
in the blinding swirl. One man, the cook, managed to find his way back
to camp; he was found dead in his wagon, frozen stiff. Where he had
tried to make a fire in the bottom of the wagon could be plainly seen.
He had burned the endgate in his vain efforts. The wind blew with such
terrific force that the fire was blown away in all directions. Though
surrounded with enormous quantities of wood, all within easy reach,
the poor fellow perished for want of fire.

There was hardly a man in this ill-fated, outfit who did not suffer
the loss of a hand, a foot, or a limb. The men were camped in Five
Mile Hollow, five miles from Hays City, and when news of the affair
reached town next day, all the citizens turned out to search for the
missing men, gathering them up and taking them to the hospital at Hays
City. Some of the bewildered men wandered to my road-ranch, where
Billy Reynolds was in charge, and there found shelter and protection
from the storm.

A few days after the storm had abated I decided to make a trip to Hays
City, and bring back supplies for the outfit, so I hooked four mules
to a wagon and hitched my saddle horse to the side. I rarely ever went
out on the road without my saddle horse. The mules seemed to be more
contented when accompanied by a horse, and in case of trouble I stood
a better show of getting away on horseback.

Our camp was on Hackberry, and I went prepared to stay all night with
Reynolds at the road-ranch, the first night out. When I got there I
found the place deserted. I could not imagine why Reynolds was not
there and did not learn the reason until I reached Hays, driving there
that night. I saw Snuffer's wagons corralled at Five Mile Hollow when
I passed that place, but heard nothing of what had happened until I
got to Hays. Here I learned the no less surprising news that Reynolds
had sold everything at the road-ranch and had skipped the country.

The day after I reached town the express agent came into the hotel
office where I was stopping and asked if a man could be found who
would take a load of express to Fort Dodge or Camp Supply, saying that
there was a lot of express for both places. As I had a good team, and
there was no great need of my hurrying back to headquarters, I told
him I would go. I also wanted to look that country over for buffaloes.

I loaded and started for Fort Dodge with fifteen hundred pounds of
express, making Walnut Creek the first night and staying at a
road-ranch run by Johnny Quinn, afterwards killed at that place. The
weather was bitter cold when I started next morning, and by 10 o'clock
it was spitting snow and getting colder every minute. I walked part of
the time to keep warm. My load was bulky rather than heavy. I felt the
cold driving into my very bones, and realized my danger. I was
determined that I would not permit myself to sink into drowsiness, as
this meant death. Reaching a long divide, I dropped down the slope
with my mules in a gallop, and luckily was soon in sight of a
road-ranch kept by John O'Loughlin. I was scarcely able to speak when
I drove up and found half a dozen men coming to meet me, all eager to
hear the news from town, whatever it might be. In answer to their
questions I merely shook my head. My jaws were set like a vice. I
could not speak a word. They saw instantly my condition. Running into
the dugout they began piling wood into the fireplace, and the room was
soon as hot as an oven. I thawed gradually, burning like a live coal
one moment and shivering the next as if I had a fit of ague. This was
my first experience with killing cold. In later days, after I became a
Government scout, I had many similar experiences. I once made a ride
with dispatches, and became so stiff with cold by the time I had
reached the end of my journey that I could not dismount from my
horse--I simply let go and fell off.

In the Pawnee Fork and Saw Log country I had seen lots of buffaloes, a
sight which always held me with endless fascination. When I got to
Fort Dodge the third night out I heard that the buffaloes had drifted
in by thousands during the blizzard, and that the garrisons had to
fire a piece of artillery to keep them from breaking down the
buildings and corrals.

Next day I mounted my horse and struck off up the Arkansas to look
over the country, traveling up the valley for about thirty-five miles.
There had certainly been an enormous number of buffaloes in the
country. I could see where the grass had been flattened and the willow
thickets cropped close by the tired and hungry animals. In every
direction could be seen the spots where the buffaloes had bedded down
for the night. But now there was not a buffalo in sight.

Lured on by the hope of catching sight of the vast multitude that had
passed that way, I kept on up the valley, but without success. Then I
determined to proceed to the Plains, which I did. Riding to a high
point I turned my eyes across the plains. I held my breath in my
astonishment at the wonderful sight. As far as I could see there was a
solid mass of buffalo, quietly grazing on the curly mesquite, now
brown with winter. At no other time in my life did I ever see such a
vast number of buffaloes. For miles in every direction the country was
alive with them.

At this point I want to say that in all my experience in the buffalo
country I never saw one die of old age and exhaustion, and can
remember seeing only one "on the lift"--that is, in a situation where
he could go no further. This one, an old bull, had got fast in a bog
on the Canadian, and was unable to get out. Riding up to him, I threw
my lariat over his head, after I had given my lariat a hitch over the
horn of my saddle, and pulled the old fellow to firm ground. I left
him grazing contentedly on the bank. The buffalo was a hardy animal,
and though they often got very thin during a hard winter, yet they
never became so thin and starved as to go off their feet like cattle.

I returned to Fort Dodge fully satisfied with my day's ride, and next
day started on my return trip to Fort Hays. By the time I reached Fort
Hays, a considerable number of hunters had been driven in by the
storm. I told them of the black ocean of buffaloes I had seen
northwest of Fort Dodge, which was good news to them, and set every
man to overhauling his outfit.

I was impatient to reach my camp, so I loaded up with supplies and
pulled out. I found the boys in good shape and glad to see me. Next
day we made a scout out west of Hackberry, and found thousands of
buffaloes. It was plain that the big herd had drifted a long way
during the blizzard, and had been as far south as the Arkansas. When
the weather moderated they worked back to their old range.

Along in May, 1872, we moved our camp from Hackberry to a point north
of the Kansas Pacific railroad.

While in camp on Hackberry I met with an experience which rarely ever
happened to me--I got completely lost, so badly that I had no idea of
direction. Perkins and I had been out all day killing and skinning
buffaloes. We had worked late, and it had grown cloudy and dark when
we started for camp. Both were afoot. In moving from each fallen
buffalo to another we had wandered further than we suspected. Each
thought camp was in a different direction. So positive was Perkins
that he was right that I followed him for a time.

I was relying mostly upon the direction of the buffalo trails and when
I found that we were crossing them instead of following them, I was
convinced that we had lost our bearings. I called Perkin's attention
to the trails. He insisted that he was going in the right direction.
Perkins was a windy story-teller, and was relating a war tale. I
disliked to interrupt him. Finally, however, I said that unless the
wind had changed we were certainly going in the wrong direction.

"Oh, the wind has changed," he replied: "I knew it would this

About this time we reached the head of a draw, on which we thought our
camp was situated. At that moment the clouds drifted from the face of
the moon, and we saw a bunch of buffaloes that had bedded down for the
night. This convinced me that Perkins was "going it wild," as I was
sure that buffalo would not stay that close to our camp.

Rovers that we were, with sails turned for every wind, we decided to
kill some of the buffaloes, as they would be conveniently at hand, for
skinning next morning, and we shot five or six.

Pursuing our way down the draw, I was soon positive that we were lost.
Perkins put up a lively argument to prove that he was not mistaken.
When we reached another bunch of buffaloes that had bedded, Perkins
threw up the sponge. Four bulls were lying together. We blazed into
them, made a warm bed of two hides, with the hair turned inside, and
made a dry camp for the night. We slept as warm as if we were in a
feather bed, though the night was cold.

In after years I thought many times of that night on the Plains. Of
how tired we were, of how the wind whistled past us, of how the cold
seemed to come down out of the sky, heavy and chill, and of how icily
the moon shone as she sailed westward. Save for the occasional howling
of wolves and coyotes, the night was supernaturally silent. It was the
stillness of the primeval solitude. It was the stuff that makes a man
in a warm bed under a roof feel like getting up to saddle his horse
and ride away to this Land of Nowhere. Once in the blood, it can never
be lost. Home-sickness for the Plains and their free, open life stings
like a hornet.

Perkins and I slept late next morning. The sun was shining in my face
when I heard something scratching and clawing on the hide with which
we were covered. There were lots of skunks in the country, and lately
several men had been bitten by them. I thought of skunks, of which I
stood in dread, as I would have preferred being bitten by a

Bracing myself, I kicked the hide with all my might, to throw it as
far as possible from both of us. Instead of a skunk, I was astonished
to see a big eagle that had been trying to get his breakfast by
picking the meat off the fresh hide. That eagle was so badly scared
that I am sure he must have had an attack of heart failure. He flopped
around before he could get up enough steam to take wing, and even then
he hovered in the air as if uncertain which way to fly. I could have
killed him with the butt of my gun. I had no wish to do this, however,
and watched him recover his wits and soar away.

I do not believe that I exaggerate when I say that Perkins jumped five
feet into the air when I kicked off the buffalo hide. He told me that
he was sure Indians had nailed us, and that his scalp-lock twitched
all day.

Coming out of the draw where we had made our bed, we ascended a high
point and scanned the surrounding country, hoping to locate our camp.
Nothing looked familiar to us. We struck out in the direction we
thought camp ought to be. We walked until nearly night before we got
back to camp.

By noon I was growing ravenously hungry. I suggested to Perkins that
we kill a buffalo and broil some of the meat. We shot a 2-year-old
heifer, and soon had a hump steak sizzling on the fire. No meal ever
gave me greater satisfaction, though we had no salt or bread.

We were fagged and footsore when we reached camp. James Donnelly, the
man we had left in camp, had given us up as dead, confident that we
had been killed by Indians. He had packed the outfit, harnessed the
mules and was just at the point of pulling out for Hays City when we
hailed him. We would have been left in bad shape had he gone. During
the morning a band of twelve or fifteen Indians had passed in sight of
camp, and as we had been missing two days and one night, Donnelly
naturally concluded that the Indians had killed us. After he saw the
Indians he made up his mind that the best thing for him to do was to
leave as quickly as possible for the Fort.

During the summer of 1872 we hunted along the Saline and Solomon,
frequently encountering small bands of Indians. Generally, they were
going north or south, and though they were supposed to be friendly, we
watched them closely. Occasionally, we heard of a hunter being killed,
but this did not bother us, so long as we were not molested.
Sometimes, Indians came into our camp. They were always hungry. We
always fed them. They love sugar and coffee, and for either were
willing to trade anything they had. The Kiowas were especially fond of
sugar. The liking for sweet things was not peculiar to the white man.


We started south to the Arkansas River in the fall of 1872, and when
we got to where Dodge City now stands, we found the first buildings
under construction. None of us dreamed of the reputation that was to
come to that town through its gun men. There were only a few houses at
Dodge. I remember that the Cox house, the first hotel, was open.
Deciding to "put on airs," we went to the hotel for dinner. Our bill
of fare was pork and beans, black coffee, bread and pepper sauce,
especially pepper sauce, for which we paid seventy-five cents. We
could have beat it, hands down, in our own camp. I can recall the
names of a number of the first business establishments:

    Wright & Company ("Bob" Wright), general supply store.

    Zimmerman's hardware, gun and ammunition store.

    McCart & Fringer, drug store. Fringer afterwards was judge of Ford
    county court.

    Kelly & Beaty, saloon. Kelly was a jolly, good-natured man, and
    was always popular. He was always called "Dog" Kelly.

    Murray & Waters, saloon.

    Beeson & Harris, saloon.

    Hoover's saloon.

The buildings were mostly box affairs, and built in the quickest
possible way. But a palace does not make happiness, and I am sure that
in the rough, frontier towns of those days there was lots of
contentment and good cheer in the rudest shacks. The wind and the snow
came in at the cracks in winter, and in summer the rain beat through
and the red dust swirled along the floor, but we paid little attention
to such things. Our skin was tough and we had many things to occupy
our time. We were constantly in the open air, which hardened us until
we suffered scarcely any annoyance from wind or weather, such as would
have been looked upon as hardships not to be endured, by men living
cooped up in cities, where there is rarely a chance to fill one's
lungs with fresh air, and where heaviest clothing cannot compensate
for lack of physical exercise. It is possible by exposure for men to
toughen their skin and their bodies, just as they can toughen their
hands. The Indian is a good example of this fact.

  [Illustration: _"Billy" Dixon, in His Prime as a Scout and

At this time Dodge City was the terminus of the Santa Fe railroad. The
railroad company was still grading, and had moved as far west as the
State line, at Granada, Kas., where building stopped for about a year.
Dodge City sprang up like a mushroom. Buildings went up day and night,
and in a month's time the first dozen houses had been increased to a
small town.

Like moths drawn by the flame of a lamp, a picturesque lot of men
gathered at Dodge. Practically all of them were looking for adventure
and excitement, rather than for opportunities to become preachers,
lawyers or merchants. They came from the border towns that dotted like
beads that western fringe of civilization. Dodge City belonged mostly
to the under-world in those days, and its ways were the ways of men
and women who stayed up all night and slept all day. Buffalo-hunters,
railroad graders, gamblers, dance hall actors and dancers and that
nondescript class that lived without doing any kind of work
predominated. But there were good men and women in Dodge, and as in
most genuine American communities, they finally won out, despite its
revelries and dissipations. The professional gun man that gave Dodge
most of its reputation, especially in eastern States, did not ply his
business as a business until later years.

Money was plentiful in those days. Anybody could get money, and there
was no excuse for being "broke." Business thrived, and some of the
stores could supply a man with practically anything he needed. The men
of Dodge City spent their money as quickly as they made it, so lots of
money was constantly in circulation. Whisky-drinking was a pastime or
diversion in which few men did not indulge. It was true, however, that
some of Dodge City's most famous characters never drank a drop of
intoxicating liquors. They did not dare do it. They belonged to the
class known as "killers." To get drunk or to drink enough whisky to
make the nerves unsteady meant death for such men, as the enemy was
always lying in wait for them.

I cannot boast of having been an altogether perfect man in my conduct
in those wild, free days, but there was two popular forms of amusement
in which I did not indulge--dancing and gambling. I never bet a nickel
on cards nor gambled in any form in my life though I saw all these
things going on every night when I was in a border town, especially at
Dodge. Why I did not, rather than the mere fact that I did not dance
or gamble, always seemed to me to be of most interest. My only answer
would be that this sort of thing did not appeal to me, and this was
sufficient beyond any moral reason for my conduct.

As a class, the early population of Dodge was free-hearted and would
divide the last dollar with a friend or a stranger in distress. The
people stood by each other in all emergencies. Nobody thought of
locking his door at night.

When the Santa Fe's construction was stopped at Granada, hundreds of
men were thrown out of employment, and found it necessary to make some
kind of shift for work, or leave the country. Right here is where the
rapid extermination of the buffalo began. All of these men who could
rustle a team and a wagon and get hold of an outfit went out on the
Plains to kill buffalo. During the fall and winter of 1872 and 1873
there were more hunters in the country than ever before or afterwards.
This was the beginning of the high tide of buffalo-hunting, and
buffalo fell by thousands. More were killed that season than in all
subsequent seasons combined. I feel safe in saying that 75,000
buffaloes were killed within 60 or 75 miles of Dodge City during that
time. The noise of the guns of the hunters could be heard on all
sides, rumbling and booming hour after hour, as if a heavy battle were
being fought. There was a line of camps all the way from Dodge City to

During all this time, and since 1871 Jack Callahan and I had worked
together. Perkins and Donnelly were still with us. "Cranky" McCabe,
his good humor having revived, came back to work for me. A single
night at the card table in Dodge City generally wound up McCabe's ball
of yarn, and at once he was ready to return to the buffalo range and
without complaint. Apparently, there was something he had to get out
of his system, and after he had been purged he was ready to resume his
old ways. There was not a lazy bone in his body, and I never had a
better hand. I was very much attached to Jack Callahan. He was always
in good humor, which is a fine quality for a man to have in a hunting
camp. A bad temper can spoil the pleasure of an entire camp. Some
mornings we would sleep late. When the sun got in his eyes, Jack would
jump up, exclaiming "By George, this will never do! It will never buy
my girl a dress nor pay for the one she has."

After we had been at Dodge City a few days, taking in the sights, we
grew tired of loafing, and decided to strike out and go to new hunting
grounds. So we went up the Arkansas River, along the north side, to
what was known as Nine Mile Ridge, where we crossed to the south side
of the river.

The increasing numbers and destructiveness of the buffalo-hunters had
been making the Plains Indians more and more hostile. The danger to
hunters was increasing day by day. All that region south of the
Arkansas was forbidden ground, the Indians insisting that the white
men should obey the terms of the Medicine Lodge treaty. If the killing
of the buffaloes should continue unabated, the Indians would soon be
facing starvation; at least, their old freedom would be at an end, as
they could no longer roam the country at will, confident of finding
meat in abundance wherever they might go.

The Arkansas was called the "dead line," south of which no hunter
should go. The river was patrolled at intervals by Government troops,
as a feeble indication that the Medicine Lodge treaty had not been
forgotten, but their vigilance was so lax that there was no difficulty
in crossing back and forth without detection. The danger of attack by
Indians was a far more potent obstacle to the buffalo-hunter, but as
buffaloes grew fewer in number and the price of hides advanced, even
this did not deter hardy hunters from undertaking forays into the
forbidden country. The troops were supposed to prevent the passing of
the Indians to the north side of the river. This was another scheme
that failed to work.

We gazed longingly across the sandy wastes that marked the course of
the Arkansas. The oftener we looked the more eager we became to tempt
fate. Even the sky looked more inviting in that direction, and often
after a flurry of cold weather the wind from the south was mild, balmy
and inviting. As a matter of fact, the possible danger of encountering
hostile Indians added spice to the temptation.

So we crossed over. Finding a pleasant stretch of bottom land, where
the grass grew tall and thick, we cut and stacked a lot of prairie hay
for our teams and saddle horses. The grass waved above our horses'
backs as we rode along. Later, we found Indians too numerous in this
vicinity for us to devote much time to hunting and we abandoned this

Before we made the change, however, Callahan and I, both well mounted,
and followed by one man in a light wagon, started southward on a
scouting trip, intending to be gone several days. We wanted to feel
out the country and locate the buffalo herds.

When we reached Crooked Creek, we ran smack into a bunch of Indians,
and had a skirmish with them. The Indians could not speak English.
This did not prevent our understanding them. Their old chief motioned
to us to go northward. That was a long time ago, yet I remember
clearly the appearance of this old warrior. Noticeably, fastened under
the skin of his left cheek he wore a long, brilliant feather. All the
warriors were painted red and yellow. We believed, however, that we
were able to take care of ourselves, and continued on our way. Further
down the creek, we struck another band of hostiles. This was rather
too much of the same thing, and we decided that if we valued our
scalps we had better pull out.

We turned round and headed for camp, missing it about three miles in
the darkness, and going into camp for the night in the enemy's
country. Next morning we got back in safety, and called all hands
round to discuss the situation. Plainly, to stay south of the Arkansas
meant putting in more time fighting Indians than in hunting buffaloes.

But buffaloes had begun coming in by thousands, so we agreed to remain
two or three days and make as big a kill as possible. Hunting was
good, and a week had slipped by. The hides were green, which forced us
to linger until they were dry. Not only were hides more easily handled
when dry, but they made lighter loads.

About the ninth day, we found ourselves running short of meat. A bunch
of buffaloes were grazing about two miles distant. Mounting my horse,
I told the boys that I would ride out and kill two good ones for meat.
I was so well acquainted with the ways of buffaloes that I could judge
quickly by their actions whether they would run or stand when
approached. I saw that these were getting ready to run.

This fact was a plausible hint that Indians were moving through the
country. My own experience and the testimony of other hunters
convinced me that nothing causes greater alarm among buffaloes than
the scent or odor of Indians, a peculiarity easily distinguished by a
white man's nostrils. When Indian hunting parties went on the buffalo
grounds to get their winter's supply of meat, the herds were soon in
great commotion, making it difficult for the white hunter to do his
killing at a "stand." Strange as it may seem, if there were no Indians
moving among the buffaloes, the latter would pay scarcely any
attention to white hunters, even though the big buffalo guns were
booming from sunrise to sunset.

Upon nearing the buffaloes as closely as I thought expedient, I
dismounted and began crawling. Picking out a young bull, I turned
loose with my big "50" gun. The herd stampeded at the first crack, and
raised such a dust that I could distinguish nothing. I fired as
rapidly as I could pull the trigger at the indistinguishable mass, and
was lucky enough to bring down six or seven before the herd was out of

This fusillade from my gun set things moving in camp, where the boys
jumped to the conclusion that I had been attacked by Indians. To add
to the excitement a herd of about fifty antelopes appeared on a hill
perhaps half a mile from camp. The swiftly running animals would
traverse a wide circle and dash again to the top of the hill, where
they would stand rigidly attentive gazing in my direction. The excited
imagination of the boys in camp soon transformed these harmless
creatures into mounted Indians. They had not the slightest doubt of my
having been killed and scalped, my body left weltering in its own
blood, and speared and arrowed until it resembled a sieve.

When I rode into camp a few minutes later, I found everything ready
for flight and battle. All the fighting guns were conveniently at
hand, and all the camp equipment was loaded on the wagon. The boys
were just at the point of pulling out, but had lingered a moment to
debate whether they should try to recover my dead body or whoop her up
for Dodge City.

Jack Callahan was declaring that it would be wrong to go away without
being sure that I was dead. While this discussion was under way each
man was as busy as a coon in a hen roost. McCabe had been set at work
priming a lot of shells, which were already loaded. In his excitement
he held the primers in his left hand, asking all the while, "Where in
thunder are those primers? I can't find a single one, yet I saw a lot
of them only a moment ago. Unless we get these shells primed, we'll be
in bad shape!"

McCabe was so nervous that the primers rattled in his shaking hand,
without his seeing them. McCabe lived in mortal terror of Indians,
though as brave as a lion under all other emergencies, a peculiarity I
have seen in other men on the Plains. The scent or odor of the Indian
affected some men as it did certain animals other than the buffalo.
All kinds of game seemed to know when an Indian was around. A horse
could be safely depended upon to give warning of the near approach of
an Indian. I have had my horse run to and fro on his picket rope,
manifesting the greatest alarm, apparently without cause, as I could
see nothing. I never failed, however, to find later that an Indian had
been close by.

The boys gazed at me in utmost astonishment as I rode into camp, safe
and sound. They could not believe that I had really returned, and
began asking me a thousand questions. We laughed over what had
happened, each teasing the other about having been "scared out of a
year's growth." All save McCabe took the joking in good nature. When
the boys began poking fun at him about losing the primers, McCabe
slashed on his war paint, and squared off to fight. He shouted that he
would fight with bare fists, with a butcher knife or with a gun
whoever repeated the story. He would have done as he threatened, but
all of us liked him and only laughed at him the more.

We loaded up with hides next day and pulled out for Dodge City, where
we were lucky enough to strike a good market. We had to make three
trips to get all the hides, for which we received from $2.50 to $4 a
piece, the highest price we ever received. The full amount was $1,975,
but the buyer wrote us a check for the even sum of $2,000, a little
matter like $25 being of no moment in those days at Dodge City.

The weather was now growing much colder, warning us that we should
prepare for snow, sleet and howling blizzards. Each man bought himself
a supply of warm winter clothing, and with lots of supplies and
ammunition, we again went in search of the shaggy buffalo. We went up
the Arkansas as far west as the next railroad station, where we hunted
a few days, finding buffaloes so scarce that we moved over on the head
of South Pawnee.

I had been over this country the previous winter, and knew where there
was a splendid spring of water, which I discovered in an unusual
manner. On a hot, sultry August day I had left my horse down in the
valley, and wandered off on foot after a bunch of buffaloes, going
much further than I suspected at the time. Growing very thirsty, I
began casting about for signs of water. Crossing the head of a small
"draw," I saw a patch of green about a quarter of a mile distant. I
hastened toward the spot, and there, to my astonishment, found a
spring of clear, sweet water that boiled from a crevice in the rock.
In after years I thought many times of the delightful sensation of
lying beside that spring and drinking until I could drink no more.
While resting, I carved in full my name, "William Dixon," in the soft
sandstone rock at the head of the spring. Many years later, when I was
living at Plemons, the county seat of Hutchinson county, Texas, I met a
land agent who told me that he had seen my name on a rock at the head
of a spring in western Kansas. He had no idea that he was talking to
the man who carved the name. This man said that the country was
thickly settled by prosperous farmers, which seemed incredible when I
recalled the days when its principal inhabitants were buffaloes,
mustangs, Indians and buffalo hunters.

We shifted camp as soon as the buffaloes began thinning in numbers.
Reaching North Pawnee, we went up as far as Walnut Creek, changing our
camp as the buffaloes shifted, and finally going back south to Silver
Lake, ten miles north of the Arkansas River. This lake was out on the
open Plains.

Here we were struck by another blizzard. There were two outfits camped
at Silver Lake. The "norther" struck us with terrific fury, and caught
us short of fuel, other than buffalo "chips." I wish here to say
something in honor of the buffalo chip. In later years, as the
fortunes of the settlers in western Kansas improved and their social
aspirations grew stronger, there were those who looked askance upon
the humble buffalo chip, though they had seen the time when they were
devoutly grateful for the genial warmth that spread from its glowing
fire. It was the friend and benefactor of countless hunters and
settlers in hours of need and extremity. The buffalo chip was simply
the dry dung of the buffalo, purely vegetable, and made an excellent
fire, over which coffee could be boiled and meat fried to a turn. When
dry the buffalo chip caught the flame easily, and soon burned to a
dull red. Many a dark night have I looked with gladness at the distant
buffalo chip fire, knowing that around it I would find hospitable
companions and lots of warmth.

There was a big scramble to make snug when the norther hit us. As soon
as it broke, we tied buffalo hides to the wagons to form a shelter for
our horses, but the wind was so strong that it tore down the hides and
carried them rattling and bounding across the Plains. Worst of all,
the gale blew all the fire out of our camp stoves. We were forced to
go to bed to keep from freezing to death, and we remained wrapped in
our blankets under our buffalo robes until next day.

I am sure that in these later years we do not have the sudden
blizzards, such as swept howling from the north in those early days,
which is fortunate, as they would cause untold suffering to people and

The weather had moderated by next day, and we went in search of our
stock, which we found at John O'Loughlin's road-ranch, twelve miles
south of Silver Lake. As there was snow on the ground and it was
difficult to find fuel, even buffalo chips, we decided to stay at
O'Loughlin's place until the weather settled. Other hunters were in
the same plight as ourselves, and they too came drifting in to
O'Loughlin's. We were a jolly crowd. What sport we had, telling
stories of our hunts, drinking whisky, playing cards and shooting at
targets. I was especially fond of the latter.

In such a gathering there were always mischievous fellows forever
scheming to play jokes and pranks upon their companions. While at
O'Loughlin's a sham duel, one of the funniest things I ever saw, was
pulled off.

Among the hunters was a young fellow who was continually stirring up
trouble by quarreling. At O'Loughlin's he began imposing upon a quiet,
peaceable man who never bothered anybody. The boys persuaded him to
challenge the bully to fight a duel, telling him they would load the
bully's gun with blank cartridges. The arrangements were soon made.
The bully was willing to fight--at least he seemed to be. He was the
only man in camp that did not know that the affair was a "frame up."
The seconds were chosen, and the time and place of the meeting fixed.
The weapons were to be six-shooters, at fifteen steps.

The buffalo hunters lined up to see the fight. The quiet fellow was to
shoot over the bully's head, but close enough for him to hear the
whistle of the bullet. At the command of "fire" both pistols cracked,
but nobody was hit. The bully winced a bit at the sound of the bullet
as it passed over his head. He soon went locoed, and became so badly
frightened that he could hardly stand. His knees knocked together, and
he trembled like a wet dog on a cold day. Before the second encounter
could take place, the bully squawked, saying that he had enough. He
was teased and rawhided until he left camp, and pulled out for
pleasanter surroundings.

As soon as the weather grew warmer, the hunters went to their camps.
We returned to Silver Lake, but not finding buffaloes plentiful enough
to make hunting profitable, we went over on what was known as White
Woman's Fork, usually a dry stream, with water only in the rainy
season. At this time the melting snow had formed pools. White Woman's
Fork is between the Arkansas and the Smoky Hill.

Buffaloes were so scarce that we followed White Woman's Fork to its
head and there went over to the brakes of the Smoky Hill, and from
there we pulled to Sand Creek, in Colorado. While on Sand Creek we
camped one night where the Chivington massacre of Cheyenne Indians
took place in the 60's. Chivington was in command of a force of
Colorado troops, and took the Indians wholly by surprise. Among the
Indians was Black Kettle's band of Cheyennes, afterwards destroyed by
General Custer on the Washita in Southwestern Oklahoma. Chivington
gave orders to kill everything that looked like an Indian--women and
children, old and young--and his command was obeyed with utmost
cruelty. We could see bones still scattered over the battleground.

Our hunt for buffaloes was proving to be a kind of wild goose chase.
We had made a complete circle, without finding them in sufficient
numbers to warrant our hunting in any one place. We went back down the
Arkansas until we reached Lakin, Kansas, where we stayed eight or ten
days gathering up the hides we had left at different places. We hauled
them to Dodge City.

By this time the spring of 1873 was at hand. Callahan and I dissolved
partnership, as Callahan wanted to go into the saloon business at
Granada, Colorado. He lived there until General Miles started from
Fort Dodge in 1874 on his campaign against the southwest Plains
Indians. Callahan went along as wagon master.

I did not have enough of the buffalo game, however, and after going
back to my old camp on Pawnee Fork, I crossed the Arkansas in May,
1873, and went up the river to what was known as Allberry Crossing, on
the old Santa Fe trail. Here we camped and explored the country, but
failed to find many buffaloes, and began working south toward the
Cimarron--toward the forbidden and dangerous land. We struck the
Cimarron at what was known as Wagonbed Springs, southwest of Dodge. At
that time the Cimarron River was called the dead line. Few hunters had
gone south of the Arkansas. Many who had been hunting around Dodge in
1872 and 1873 had abandoned the hide business, because of the
diminishing number of buffaloes, and for the better reason that they
did not wish to follow the main herd into the Indian country.

Ranging between the Arkansas and the Cimarron in the summer of 1873,
we worked west as far as the Beaver, in Stanton County, Kansas. We
prospered, as buffaloes were plentiful. Our hides were hauled to
Granada, on the Colorado line.

Along in the fall we went to Dodge and loaded up with supplies for an
expedition even further south. We struck Crooked Creek and finally the
Cimarron, ten miles below Wagonbed Springs, where we planned to stay
during the winter, and built a dugout. Buffaloes were everywhere, but
like the leaves of the winter forest--disappearing never to return.

While in camp at this place we saw a spectacular sight. A big war
party of Cheyennes passed on their way to fight the Utes. The latter
lived in Colorado. The Cheyennes were out for blood. Their horses were
in fine shape, and each warrior was fully equipped with weapons. We
learned that the Utes had long been in the habit of coming down to the
buffalo country every fall to kill their winter's supply of meat. The
Cheyennes, proud and arrogant, were opposed to this invasion of their
hunting grounds by the mountain Indians and had decided to make an end
of it if possible. Much has been written about the desperate warfare
and the bloody battles between Indians and white men. I am rather of
the opinion that war between Indian tribes was even worse. They fought
to exterminate each other if possible.

This expedition of Cheyennes was divided into many small
parties--three or four warriors traveling together. We had heard of
their attacking other buffalo hunters, and running off their stock. We
kept both eyes open, day and night. Frequently, these Indians would
stop at our camp, to which we offered no objection if there were only
a few in the party, but if fifteen or twenty came in sight, heading
toward our camp, we signalled for them to pass around without
stopping. We did not dare run the risk of letting a superior force of
Indians get at close quarters under the guise of friendship, as soon
every hunter's scalp would have been dangling on the Cheyenne bridles.
Occasionally, upon approaching, the Cheyennes would lay down their
guns, and advance unarmed, to show that they did not intend to offer
us injury. We always fed them well.

About fifteen warriors came into camp one day, and were soon greatly
interested in a pair of field glasses that I used in looking over the
country for landmarks, buffaloes and Indians. After letting our
visitors look through them, I laid the glasses on a pile of bedding
and thought no more about them. After the Indians had ridden away, I
reached for the glasses to look over a bunch of Indians that had
assembled on a hill a mile or so distant. The glasses had disappeared.

I was fighting mad, and determined to get my glasses or kill an Indian
or two. Seizing my buffalo gun and mounting my best horse, I started
in pursuit of the thieves. The rascals suspected my purpose, and long
before I got within shooting range they scattered like quail and hid
themselves. The country was rough and broken and I found it decidedly
too dangerous to attempt to hunt them out.

In approaching our camp, it had been the practice of the Cheyennes to
come with their horses running at headlong speed, possibly to "throw a
scare" into the white men. We at once set our heads against this sort
of thing, and soon convinced the Indians that we would fire into them
if the practice were repeated.

  [Illustration: _Indian Camp of Buffalo Hide Tepees._]

All these Cheyennes were rigged out in full war style. Each had a led
horse, his war horse, which was the Indian's pride, and which he loved
above his other possessions. He gave his war horse the best of care,
and kept him expressly for battle.

The detachments of this big Cheyenne war party were about three days
passing our camp, and during that time we remained close at home. One
of us constantly stood guard on a high point close by. There was smell
of Indian in the air. Our horses were picketed during the day, and at
night we tied them to the wagons. There were only four of us, and we
could not afford to make the slightest mistake.

After the country was clear of Indians, we made a trip over on
Sharpe's Creek, but found no buffaloes--the passing of the Indians had
scared the buffaloes out of their wits. If the buffaloes would not
come to us, we would go to the buffaloes, so we shifted camp from the
Cimarron down to the Beaver, in "No Man's Land."

Making short drives each day, to spy out the country, we got as far
west as the present town of Guymon, Okla., where we camped several
days to clean up several scattering bunches of buffaloes, all bulls.
These old bulls were easily killed, and their hides brought the best

Here we met some of the same Cheyennes that had passed our camp on the
Cimarron. They were on their way back home to Indian Territory. They
recognized us. I had acquired some knowledge of the Cheyenne language,
and questioned them about their trip to the Ute country. It was funny
to hear them tell how they had "run the Utes clean over the
mountains." They claimed they had killed stacks and stacks of Utes,
going through the motions of how the Utes ran in getting away from the

After making a kill of buffaloes, the hides were always left on the
ground to dry, before hauling them to market. We had left a big lot of
hides and provisions at our Cimarron camp. The passing of the Indians
on their way back home made us feel that it might be well to see what
the situation was in our old camp. We expected to find all our hides
gone and our provisions stolen; to our great surprise we found
everything just as we had left it. The plains Indians were highly
suspicious, and it is possible that they feared the provisions might
be poisoned.

The thinning out of the buffaloes made hunting laborious. Riding out
early one morning, I managed to kill about thirty during the day's
hunt, all of them cows. It was a strange fact that buffalo cows and
bulls ranged together only during the breeding season; at other times
they went in separate bunches.

Next morning we went out to do our skinning. Having run short of meat,
I had drawn several of the carcasses, and was so busily engaged that I
did not notice what was going on around me.

The day was warm, with the wind in the south. Then the wind died until
there was perfect calm for about fifteen minutes. Suddenly, our
attention was drawn to the unusual appearance of the sandhills to the
north of us, along the river. We could see a fog of dust and sand,
which struck us in a shorter time than it takes to tell it. We were
caught in the jaws of a norther, the terror of the Plainsman. All
animals seem to know instinctively when a norther is coming, and grow
nervous and restless.

It is difficult to see or to breathe when a norther is at its height,
and unless good shelter is near at hand there is danger of quickly
freezing to death. We were wise enough to know that the best thing for
us to do would be to get back to camp as quickly as possible. Tossing
our meat into the wagon, we jumped in and headed for camp with our
mules at a gallop. On my horse I rode beside the mules, urging them
along with my quirt. Despite our instant flight and our speed, we were
nearly frozen when we arrived at camp.

These winter storms usually exhausted themselves at the end of two or
three days, but while they are raging it is impossible to leave camp
with safety.

After we had thawed out, we decided to tackle the Beaver country
again, and went up that stream to a place then known as Company M,
where we struck off in a southwesterly direction and came to the
Coldwater, which further toward its source is known as the Al Frio,
which means "cold water," and undoubtedly was named by the Mexicans
who used to hunt in that region. The favorite weapon of these Mexicans
was the lance, which necessarily brought them at close quarters with
the buffaloes, and required swift horses.

The Coldwater takes its rise from a number of springs which form a
series of remarkable pools of water. At this place afterwards was
built one of the headquarters of the old XIT Ranch outfit. The
buildings stand today as they did in earlier years, but the phase of
life that dwelt there has vanished forever. When the XIT established
itself in the Texas Panhandle, the cowboy was typical, genuine and
picturesque. He was the cock of the walk, who could eat centipedes for
breakfast and barbed wire for supper without injuring his digestion,
and dance all night and ride all day without missing a step. His like
will never be seen again. He had a rough hide and a tender heart, and
an ear that was inclined to every hard luck story that passed his way.

Buffalo Springs stands in the open Plains south of the Beaver and just
south of the line that divides the Texas Panhandle from Cimarron
County, Oklahoma. Here is a considerable growth of timber, consisting
of cottonwoods, elms and willows. The traveler will go many, many
weary miles south before he again sees a clump of timber or finds
living water.

The beginning of the Al Frio is a spring near a lone cottonwood tree
about a mile west of the ranch house. The water rises in a fissure in
the rock. Some rather fabulous stories have been told about its depth.
Now follow a chain of deep pools of dark and steely clearness,
chillingly cold even in hottest midsummer, with steep, precipitous
banks, along which waves a dense and almost impenetrable growth of
reeds and tall, wiry grass. Here abound bass in such size and numbers
as to tempt the most expert angler.

Buffalo Springs is a veritable garden in the dry and dusty Plains, an
oasis in the desert. Countless birds not found elsewhere on the Plains
assemble here in summer, beautifying with song and bright plumage all
the green, cool places. Flowers of exquisite fragrance and great
brilliancy of color are found. There are many varieties. In fall and
spring, migratory water-fowl descend to disport themselves in the

The ranch house, which still remains in excellent condition, was such
a house as appealed to a man seeking shelter from winter storms or
summer heat. Its original walls of adobe were boxed and plastered,
giving them a thickness of nearly two feet. On its dirt floors jangled
many a spur. At the kitchen door hangs the triangle gong with which
the cook called the "woollies" to meals. Struck with its heavy bar of
iron, this old gong booms and rumbles until it can be heard far out on
the Plains. Each of its sides measured more than two feet.

When this region was wild and uninhabited, these springs were
frequented by buffaloes in enormous numbers, crowding and fighting
their way to water. In the neighborhood of the pools were treacherous
bogs which at this day are a menace to live stock. In the old days
buffaloes must have mired there by hundreds.

Here the Indians encountered this noble game to their liking. A mile
or two east of the springs, there is a slight swell in the Plains
where the Comanches are said to have maintained their hunting camp
when in that vicinity. From this camp the Plains could be surveyed for
miles in every direction. Mounting their horses, the Indian hunters
descended like thunderbolts upon the buffaloes massed at the springs,
and slaughtered them at will. The hides were pegged down and dried in
camp and the meat hung on poles and cured in the dry, pure air for
winter use. A kill could be made as often as the red hunters wished to
rush to the attack.

This account of the history of Buffalo Springs has been given by Mr.
John Skelley, one of the rugged and reliable pioneers of Cimarron
county; he lives at the postoffice of Wheeless:

"I was at Buffalo Springs as early as 1878, when I was a boy 14 years
old. At that time there were no buildings. There had been some adobes
made, either by Bill Hall, of Kansas City, or Dan Taylor of Trinidad,
or both, in order to build a house to shelter their winter
line-riders, as a line-camp was kept at the Springs every winter. My
father was a freighter at Trinidad, where I was raised, and he hauled
the lumber down to Buffalo Springs from Trinidad, to cover and floor
the house. I made the trip with him. This was in 1878.

"The house was never built, as the fall and winter of '78 were so cold
and severe that the line-riders burned all the lumber for wood. The
nearest timber was on the Currumpaw or Beaver, about eight or ten
miles northwest of the Springs, where there are still a few stunted
cedars and a growth of cottonwoods.

"In 1884 the Capitol Freehold Land & Cattle Syndicate established a
ranch at Buffalo Springs. This company is the one that built the
capitol at Austin, Texas, for which it was paid in millions of acres
of land. This ranch was stocked with cattle. I worked for the man who
had the fence contract. We finished the contract in December, 1885.

"During that year the owners had put in about 20,000 head of cattle,
brought from the south. Better grass could not be found anywhere. A
few mustangs and buffaloes were still left in the country, but
disappeared from that vicinity in 1887. Stragglers could be found
around Company M water as late as 1889. This water was six or eight
miles southeast of the present town of Boise City, the county seat of
Cimarron county, Oklahoma.

"In the fall of 1885 a big prairie fire broke out and swept the
country bare from the Beaver south almost to the South Canadian. We
fought it with all our strength, but there were not men enough in the
country to get it under control. This misfortune was followed by an
early and severe winter. The company at Buffalo Springs drifted its
herds out to the Canadian and to the south Plains, yet despite every
precaution the loss was tremendous. I was told that only 7,000 head of
the 20,000 were gathered the following spring.

"The company did not jump the game, but went ahead next year. Old man
Boise, who was killed by Sneed, was general manager of the company for
a good many years, and built up a fine ranch. A man named Campbell was
the first manager at Buffalo Springs, followed by an Englishman named
Maud. After these came Boise, who took the outfit about 1890.

"The timber that is growing at Buffalo Springs was planted by the
company, and is not a natural growth. I know of no natural timber
south of there until the Canadian is reached, though the company has
set out several tracts in timber, and there is now lots of water in
wells on their holdings between Buffalo Springs and the Canadian.

"In the old days when we left Buffalo Springs and traveled southeast
we found no live water until we got to the head of the Rio Blanco,
about fifty miles distant, and ten or twelve miles southeast of the
present town of Delhart. There was and still is water at what we used
to call the Perico water-holes, some 10 or 12 miles south of the
Ranch, but this water has neither source nor outlet, as it rises and
then sinks again, the Perico gradually vanishing in the Plains.

"The Springs was a great hunting ground for buffaloes. In the fall of
1878 the valley was alive with buffaloes and mustangs, and when I was
there in that year I saw several hunters' camps. A long time ago I
talked to old Mexicans who told me that they hunted buffaloes at the
Springs when they were boys. They said that expeditions of both
Mexicans and Navajoes came from the settlements on the Rio Grande, in
New Mexico, to procure their winter's meat.

"There was an old trail leading to the Springs from New Mexico, thence
to Agua Frio, and on down through the country to the eastward. We used
to call this the 'old buffalo trail.' I have not seen it in more than
twenty-five years, but am told that it has become so overgrown with
grass that it has almost disappeared. When I was there as a boy there
were thousands of antelope on the Plains; now most of them are gone.
The Fort Worth & Denver City railroad company began running its trains
through the company's big estate in the spring of 1888, which hastened
the disappearance of the game."

We camped over night at Buffalo Springs, and next day followed the Al
Frio or Coldwater, which is a dry stream with occasional water holes.
After proceeding about thirty miles, we saw that the stream was
bearing too far to the north, so we turned south and struck the brakes
of the Big Blue, a tributary of the South Canadian. This was a new
country to all of us, and as strange to us as if we were its first
visitors. We came to a pool that was alive with all kinds of fish, and
in all directions deer and wild turkeys seemed as thick as
grasshoppers. With a whoop, everybody voted unanimously to go into
camp at this place.

As a fisherman I never had any luck. Leaving this sport to the rest of
the outfit, I mounted my horse, and set out to explore the surrounding
country. In roaming around, I reached an abandoned Mexican camp on one
of the prongs of the Blue. It had been untenanted for years. I was
told by older hunters that the Mexicans used to come here every fall
to kill buffaloes, bringing pack trains. They remained until they got
a winter's supply of meat, drying the meat and rendering the tallow.

I rejoined the outfit and we kept moving until we reached the South
Canadian, crossing this stream at a point near where the LX Ranch was
afterwards located. Further south, we struck Palo Duro Canyon below
the waterfalls. This was a dry stream, and we were compelled to rely
upon melted snow for ourselves and stock. We crossed Mulberry Creek at
its head waters, and camped there several days.

After crossing the Canadian, we began seeing signs of Mexican hunters,
the spots where they had camped the preceding fall being plainly
visible. Shifting our course more to the northeast, we crossed the
head tributaries of Salt Fork and North Fork of Red River, coming back
to the Canadian about twenty miles above where Canadian City, Texas,
now stands.

During all this wandering we had not seen a white man, nor a human
being of any kind--only a vast wilderness, inhabited by game--truly
the hunter's paradise. When we saw Red River we thought that it
certainly must be the South Canadian, being misled by the fact that
both were sandy streams and both dry at that time. We could see a
difference between the two, however, when we got to the Canadian.


Hugging the south side of the Canadian, we followed an old trail,
called the Fort Smith and Fort Bascom trail, up to White Deer Creek, a
beautiful, clear-running stream, fringed abundantly with timber. Right
opposite the mouth of this stream, on the north side of the Canadian,
are the old ruins of the original Adobe Walls, though at the time we
were ignorant of this fact, and passed without halting at this
historic place.

Crossing to the north side of the Canadian, we reached Moore's Creek,
and were delighted to find that all along the Canadian, every four or
five miles, were running streams of fine water. All the streams were
timbered, some more heavily than others, and in the branches of the
tall cottonwoods wild turkeys roosted by thousands, while deer and
antelopes in great herds grazed in the grassy bottoms.

On Bugbee Creek we passed a camp where a white man named Wheeler had
been killed that fall (1873) by Indians. The brush along the creeks
was alive with quail, and we could see signs of fur animals, such as
beaver, mink and otter. I was now going over ground that I should see
again, but little did I dream of what the future would be.

We left the river at Moore's Creek, and went north until we struck the
Palo Duro again, below where we had crossed it on our way down. Here
we found quite a number of buffalo hunters camped for the winter.

Our object in making this trip was to locate a good buffalo range for
the following summer. Our reason for going at this time of year was
that there would be less danger of being molested by Indians, as the
latter did not travel in winter, if they could avoid it, preferring
the idleness and pleasure of a warm winter camp, well supplied with
buffalo meat. Occasionally, however, a party of young bucks, thirsty
for glory in taking scalps, would brave the cold weather and make a
raid. After lying around camp with the boys on the Palo Duro for
several days, we headed for our old camp on the Cimarron, where we
found ourselves short of supplies, and continued on to Dodge City.

In making this big circle to Buffalo Springs, Red River, the ruins of
Adobe Walls and back to Dodge City, we saw very few buffaloes; only
now and then would we run across a bunch of old bulls. However, there
were signs everywhere showing where thousands had been herding
together, and we felt certain that they would come back to their old
range in the spring.

It was sometime in February, 1874, when we got back to Dodge. We had
seen enough to satisfy us that the thing to do would be to go down on
the Canadian as soon as the weather settled. While waiting, we went
out northwest of Dodge on my old hunting grounds. This was the last
hunting I ever did north of the Arkansas. My face was set toward the
forbidden country, where the Indians were looking for the scalps of
white men.

In the latter part of March, 1874, I went into Dodge City, and there I
met up with a lot of buffalo hunters who had come to town to get away
from the lonesomeness, and have good time. There was lots of talk
about the increasing scarcity of buffaloes on the old range, and all
of us agreed that we would have to drift further south to make
buffalo-hunting a paying business.

Those of us who had been venturing down in the Panhandle country
described what we had seen, and gave our opinion of the region as a
buffalo range, which, of course, was favorable.

In Dodge City at this time was a man named A. C. Myers, in the general
merchandise business, who had once been a buffalo-hunter, and had
built a smoke-house on Pawnee Fork, where he cured buffalo hams for
eastern markets. The meat was prepared for smoking by taking the two
hind quarters and dividing each into three chunks, which made six
pieces of boneless meat, about the size of an ordinary pork ham. Myers
sugar-cured each piece, smoked it, and sewed it in canvas. This kind
of buffalo meat was the choicest, and commanded a high price on the
market. Only a few dealers cured their meat in this way.

All the hunters assembled at Dodge were convinced that never again
would there be a big run of buffaloes that far north, because of the
enormous slaughter on that part of their range in 1872 and 1873. Our
determination to drift south was opposed some by the handicap of being
so far from a hide market. Myers solved this question by deciding to
take his outfit and stock of merchandise and pull down into the good
buffalo country, somewhere on the Canadian. We had no definite point
in view, expecting to locate our camp where grass, timber, water and
buffaloes most abounded.

Myers was quick to see that a big decline in the buffalo trade at
Dodge was at hand, and was willing to take the risk of going with us
to get our trade. We did not think much about it at the time, but had
we calmly discussed what was ahead of us, all would have seen that the
undertaking was not without peril to life. We were leaving such
protection as there was in the garrisoned country and plunging into a
solitude through which we would have to fight our way, if attacked, or
die at the hands of hostile Indians, an enemy that inflicted the most
horrible forms of death imaginable, should the victim be captured
alive. There would be no getting away by making a fast run to Fort
Dodge or Fort Hays; it meant fighting to the last ditch, and victory
to the strong.

Myers' plan was that every hunter that wanted to go should load his
wagons with supplies, such as were used on the buffalo range, for
which Myers would pay a liberal freight rate, and upon establishing
permanent camp Myers would sell the supplies to the hunters at Dodge
City prices. This seemed fair enough. Myers owned two teams and
wagons. The organizing of this expedition caused much enthusiasm among
the hunters at Dodge, and many wanted to go along.

About this time James Hanrahan, a typical frontiersman, who hunted
buffaloes on a large scale, came to town. Hearing of the trip we were
planning, Hanrahan decided to take his whole outfit and go with us.
This was a good boost, as we were delighted to welcome every
new-comer, especially a man like Hanrahan, who had lots of nerve and
knew all the ins and outs of frontier life.

Soon every man was busily engaged in gathering his equipment for the
long trip to the new country. There were many things to do, and forgot
any necessary part of an outfit would cause annoyance and trouble, as
we would be far from a railroad. We had no idea when we would get back
to civilization. A lot of fellows at Dodge thought that maybe we might
never get back. They narrowly missed making a good guess.

Three or four days before we were ready to bid farewell to Dodge,
there came from the east a stranger named Fairchild--his first trip to
this rendezvous of the buffalo-hunter, the bull-whacker and the "bad"
man. Naturally, Fairchild was regarded as a "tenderfoot."

Fairchild was wildly ambitious to plunge head over heels into the
stormy life of the frontier. When he heard of our expedition, he
shouted for joy, and made arrangements to go along.

My first glimpse of Fairchild made me finger my sights, for he
certainly looked like game. He was arrayed in a shining broadcloth
suit, a "plug" hat, a flower-bed vest, and a cravat that resembled a
Rocky Mountain sunset. That he might behold the sights of Dodge in
proper fashion, he had hired a livery horse, equipped with a "muley"
saddle, and was riding up and down the streets, as if he owned the
whole town. His get-up was so unusual in Dodge that it caused much
talk and laughter.

If the raiment of the East was imposing and spectacular, that of the
West was far more overpowering when assembled by a man like Fairchild.
The day before we pulled out I saw him again, but hardly knew him. He
had jumped from the extreme East to the extreme West, and at a single
bound. He was attired in a bangup brown ducking suit, high-heeled
boots, and spurs that rolled along like cart-wheels. His white
sombrero was wide enough for an umbrella. Round his neck was a bandana
more brilliant than a Cheyenne pony painted for the warpath. His belt
was full of cartridges, and sticking from holster and scabbard were a
six-shooter and a butcher knife, fearful and murderous-looking
weapons. In his hands, with the air of a gay cavalier, he bore a big
"50" rifle, for which he had paid the considerable sum of $85. The
boys had primed him to buy the butcher knife in the belief that he
needed something of the kind to scalp Indians when he slew them far,
far from their homes in the forest.

There was every indication that Fairchild was well supplied with
money. He came from Illinois and belonged to a good family, was well
educated, and had been admitted to the bar. But he yearned for western
adventure, and abandoned his profession to satisfy his chief and
burning ambition. It was impossible that such a man could escape
ceaseless banter in a crowd like ours.

However, Fairchild was not more delighted than myself when the day of
departure came. In scouting the country, I had seen that big money
could be made by a good hunter. I was not without confidence in my
marksmanship. When we moved out of Dodge there were about fifty men
and thirty wagons. Each man had provided himself with a saddle horse.
I was never without one--the best that money could buy in that

All the wagons were heavily loaded, which compelled us to drive at
easy stages. We got to Crooked Creek the first day out of Dodge. There
was never a happier lot of men in the world. All were in rugged
health, none in need, most of them inured to the hardships of life in
the wilderness, each confident that he could take care of himself,
sure of the help of his comrades in any emergency, and everybody as
merry and jolly as could be. If there was care of any kind, it was too
light to be felt. We ate like wolves, and could have digested a dry
buffalo hide with the hair on. Spring was on the way, and the air was
light and buoyant, making the days and nights an endless delight.

The youngest of our party was "Bat" Masterson, who was to win a
reputation not only as a member of this expedition, but in many other
places in later years. It seems remarkable that finally Masterson
should wander as far east as New York City and become a newspaper
writer. He was a chunk of steel, and anything that struck him in those
days always drew fire. In age, I was perhaps next to Masterson, being
now in my twenty-fourth year.

Best of all was when we camped at night, when there would be singing,
dancing, music and telling of tales. In the party were a number of
veterans of the Civil War, with endless stories of desperate battles
that were greatly to our liking. After we had eaten heartily, and the
camp-fire was aglow and crackling under the stars, some fellow would
stretch and peg down a dry buffalo hide on which the men would dance
turn about or in couples. The hide gave a much better footing for
dancing than might be supposed, and was stiff enough and hard enough
to respond in the liveliest way to jigging. There were always fiddlers
in a crowd like ours, perhaps an accordion, and a dozen fellows who
could play the French harp. The scene was picturesque and pleasing.
Round us rolled the interminable Plains, arched by the glittering sky,
and in the fire-light the rollicking buffalo hunters sang and danced.
There were no night sounds in this vast silence, save those of our
camp or the yelping of coyotes and howling of wolves, disturbed by
this strange invasion of their prowling ground.

It was agreed that every man in the party should do something for the
entertainment of his companions at these gatherings round the
camp-fire--dance, sing a song or tell a story. There was no dodging,
we had to come across. As I never danced, wasn't much of a talker, and
couldn't possibly sing, all this was hard on me. I did my best,
however, even trying to learn to play a fiddle, which had been given
to me by a friend at Hays City. But there was no music in me--I
couldn't scratch out "Dan Tucker." Long afterwards, when I was married
and my oldest daughter developed a talent for music, I was greatly
pleased, though aware of the fact that she had inherited none of it
from me.

Drinking in the pure fresh air of the Plains, we rolled from our
blankets every morning, clear-headed and ready for any enterprise.
Just to feel one's self living in that country was a joy. We heard
nothing and cared nothing about politics; it made little difference to
us who was president of the United States; we worked hard, had enough
money for our common needs, and were happy, happier perhaps that we
ever were in later years. Youth probably had much to do with our

The second day's travel brought us to the Cimarron River, and here we
stopped at one of my old camp-grounds. We had reached the "dead
line"--beyond was hostile Indian country.

I am moved here to say something about the Cimarron. This stream rises
in New Mexico, and after passing through the northeastern corner of
that State, it nips off a small part of the southeast corner of
Colorado and passes into the State of Kansas. After a bend to
northward, it flows south into that part of Oklahoma once known as
"Neutral Strip" or "No Man's Land," jogs back into Kansas between
Clark and Comanche counties, and then turns for the last time into
Oklahoma, where it pursues a generally southeast course until it meets
the Arkansas River in the central part of the State. Cimarron is a
Spanish word, meaning "outcast, outlaw, or wanderer," a name sometimes
applied in Spanish-speaking countries to a steer that wanders away
from the herd and ranges alone, wild and intractable.

The Cimarron is true to its name. Though born of white mountain snows,
its waters soon become red and turbid. In Oklahoma the Cimarron
crosses several large expanses of salt, making its water undrinkable;
in fact, so much salt is held in solution that a large swallow of the
water is sufficient to produce nausea. The bed of the Cimarron in the
Plains or prairie country is flat and sandy, though at rare intervals
it has rugged shores. Throughout a greater portion of the year, the
volume of water to be seen by the eye is small, the current crawling
snake-like along its sandy waste. Rarely, however, is the Cimarron
without a perceptible current, and usually this current has a rapid

The Cimarron is commonly regarded as one of the most dangerous streams
in the southwest. Its width often is three or four hundred yards. If
there were no sand, the stream would be rather imposing in size. It is
filled to the brim with sand, however, and through the sand is an
underflow. The quicksands of the Cimarron are notorious. No crossing
is ever permanently safe. The sand grips like a vise, and the river
sucks down and buries all that it touches--trees, wagons, horses,
cattle and men alike, if the latter should be too weak to extricate
themselves. In the old days countless buffaloes bogged down and
disappeared beneath the sands of the Cimarron. Their dismembered
skeletons are frequently uncovered at this day when the river is in

After a rise, the Cimarron is peculiarly dangerous. As it boils and
rolls along, the river loosens and hurls forward an astonishing
quantity of sand. Unless naked a man quickly finds himself pulled down
by the increasing weight of sand that lodges in his clothes, and
swimming becomes difficult, and finally impossible, save without
tremendous exertion. Stripped bare, a swimmer can sustain himself in
the Cimarron with greater ease than in most other streams, as the salt
and sand give the water extraordinary buoyancy. No man should ever
tackle the Cimarron in flood until after he has stripped to the skin
and kicked off his boots. The experienced cow-pony seems to realize
its danger when crossing the Cimarron, taking short, quick steps, and
moving forward without the slightest pause. To stop would be to sink
in the quicksand.

The Cimarron is subject to sudden and dangerous floods, floods that
seem to come from nowhere. In central Oklahoma, for example, weeks may
pass without a drop of rain. A settler crosses the river at noon,
blinded by the clouds of sand that have been whipped up by the wind,
and finding the water scarcely reaching his horses' knees. Fifteen
minutes later he returns to the crossing, and finds the river roaring
and thundering from bank to bank. What is known as a "head rise,"
formed by a cloud-burst far out in the Plains country, has come down,
a solid wall of water often four or five feet in height. Sometimes two
or more of these "head rises" follow each other in succession. The
sand is torn loose and brought up from the very bottom of the river.
To venture into the Cimarron at such times would be folly. If it must
be crossed, the safest way is to ride a horse that knows how to handle
himself in a flood of this kind. If the rider can swim it is usually
best for him to seize his horse's tail, and follow behind. The safest
thing to do is to stay on dry land until the flood has passed, and
then sound the crossing. The latter can be made firm by driving a herd
of cattle back and forth, which causes the sand to precipitate and
begin packing, soon forming a bar.

The Salt Fork of the Arkansas and the South Canadian are counterparts
of the Cimarron in the dangers they oppose to travelers and live

After crossing the Cimarron, which we accomplished without difficulty,
we held a conference to discuss how we should meet the Indian problem,
as discretion and prudence now impelled us to proceed with caution. It
was agreed that if we should encounter Indians and find them
manifesting friendship we would do likewise. This was their country,
we argued, and if they would leave us alone, we would be willing to do
an even better job than the Indians in this particular.

Ever since we had left Dodge City Fairchild had been eager to get into
an Indian fight, and had bragged about what he would do when the time
came. He said that he would not allow an Indian to do or say the least
thing to him without his killing the Indian. He was bad medicine from
the forks of the creek, a wolf with hydrophobia, a blizzard in July.

We fully understood the fact the Fairchild did not realize how much
trouble a break on his part might bring to the whole outfit. We really
feared that he might fire upon a peaceable Indian, and cause all of us
to be massacred.

So it was thought best by several practical jokers among us to take
time by the forelock in the particular case of the bloodthirsty
Fairchild. We waited until we had reached the South Canadian before
dosing out the medicine to him.

Fairchild loved to hunt, and would ride away from the outfit nearly
every day, after deer and antelope. Some of the men had made Fairchild
believe that he could kill an antelope at a distance of two miles, and
he would blaze away as far as he could see them.

By "scratch" shots, Fairchild managed to kill several antelope and he
swelled up with pride until he was almost unrecognizable. What finally
happened to him will be told later.

After leaving the Cimarron, we crossed "No Man's Land." In the brakes
of the Cimarron we had the hardest kind of pulling, as there was lots
of sand and the country rough. The fourth day brought us to the
Beaver, the main prong of the North Canadian, its other branch being
Wolf Creek. Both the Beaver and Wolf Creek unite at Camp Supply, the
point to which I had helped haul supplies for the Custer expedition,
with the outfit of mules that stampeded in harness as we were
returning to Fort Hays.

This time we struck the Palo Duro at its mouth, where there was plenty
of water. Here we camped and then moved into the Panhandle of Texas.
Now we began striking camps of buffalo-hunters who had prepared to
stay on the Plains during the winter. They were as glad to see us as
we were to find them. The coming of more hunters made everybody feel
more secure, if there should be an outbreak by the Indians.

In one of these camps were Fred Singer, who now lives in Dodge City,
and two Englishmen, Jim and Bob Gator, both of whom I had met at Hays
City, Kansas, in 1870, when they had just arrived from England, and
were still wearing knee breeches and buckles. Their togs attracted a
great deal of attention. The Gators became close friends of mine in
later years. Bob went to Oregon, and Jim settled on Palo Duro, in
Hansford county, where he now runs a cow ranch close to where he was
camped at the time of which I write. Bob Cator was the first
postmaster in Hansford County, and when the latter was organized he
was elected county judge, holding the office a number of years. Jim
and Bob Cator named Dixon Creek, in Hutchinson County, in remembrance
of the fact that I built a dugout and was the first man to camp on
this creek in 1874. After I went away, they occupied the dugout. This
creek still bears my name.

  [Illustration: _James H. Cator, Zulu, Texas, Panhandle Pioneer._]

After the Cators had settled on Palo Duro, two brothers, a sister and
Jim Cator's sweetheart came out from England and joined them. They
could scarcely have gone to a more remote place, and the change
between England and the Panhandle country, as they found it at that
time, must have been startling. Jim married his sweetheart at Dodge
City. Having business at Granada, he took his bride along; the boys
teased him about his "wedding" trip. Both the young women were refined
and highly educated. Miss Gator was an accomplished horsewoman, one of
the best I ever saw. She taught school for several years and then
married Clate McCrea. She is still living in Hansford county.

Determined that we would keep moving until we found the best buffalo
country, we went south from Palo Duro and struck Moore's Creek at its
source, following this stream to the South Canadian River, where we
camped about two miles below the present town of Plemons.

Here we were disappointed at not finding the grass better; there was
hardly enough grass for our stock. I am convinced that a number of the
Panhandle streams are gradually changing. I easily recall the fact
that Moore's Creek then was a narrow, swift-running stream, and at
almost any point a man could jump across it. Since that day, Moore's
Creek has been frequented by great herds of cattle which trample its
sandy shores until wind and rain have flattened its once steep banks
and given the stream a width of several hundred yards. This is true of
a majority of the smaller streams that flow into the South Canadian in
the Panhandle country.

In this camp on the South Canadian we paid our respects to Fairchild.
All liked him, but he was so bent upon killing an Indian that we felt
something must be done, as we were not down in that country to hunt
Indians. Though severe, the dose had to be administered. Of course,
everybody save Fairchild knew what was going on.

In a large grove of cottonwoods just above our camp hundreds upon
hundreds of wild turkeys roosted every night. When a turkey hunt was
proposed, to take place at night, Fairchild grew so eager and excited
to go that he could scarcely control himself.

Three men were selected to slip quietly out of camp and at a certain
place in the timber have a fire burning when the hunting party got
there. One of them came back to serve as guide. Ostensibly he was to
lead the hunters to the best and biggest roost, but actually he was to
pilot them to the immediate vicinity of the fire.

Fairchild was so impatient to start that it was difficult to persuade
him to wait until darkness had fallen and the turkeys had settled to

I do not believe it would have been possible to find a man who loved
practical joking more than did "Bat" Masterson. He was in his glory at
that sort of thing, and was forever pulling off something of the kind.
"Bat" was one of the three that had gone out to build the fire. He now
came to camp, ready to pilot the hunters where they would "sure find a
million turkeys"--and the camp-fire.

It was arranged that "Bat" should start out, with Fairchild close at
his heels, and Myers bringing up the rear. "Bat" cautioned Fairchild
to keep both eyes wide open and to move softly, as the turkeys must
not be frightened.

Rounding a bend of the creek, where the timber was dark and dense, the
hunters suddenly found themselves slap-bang against a camp-fire in
full blaze. "Bat" motioned to Fairchild to move back into the timber.
The three then held a consultation to discover, if possible, who had
built the fire. "Bat" was dead sure that it was an Indian camp; he had
been dreaming about Indians two or three nights he said, and was now
fearful that the worst was at hand. Myers tried to argue that "Bat"
was mistaken and rattled, if not actually showing a streak of yellow;
anyway, he was willing to bet that Fairchild could whip all the
Indians in the Panhandle if given a fair show.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Half a dozen shots were fired in the direction of
the hunters. The bullets whistled and ripped through the branches
close above their heads. Myers took the lead back to camp, yelling
bloody murder at every step, to terrify Fairchild. "Bat" came last,
gradually dropping behind and firing his six-shooter until Fairchild
was confident that the most desperate fight with Indians imaginable
was at hand.

"Run, Fairchild; run for your life!" shouted Masterson.

At a bound Fairchild had passed Myers, and tore into camp like a
tornado coming through a forest. He was half a mile ahead of "Bat" and
Myers. They had led him far enough away to give him a long, hard run.

Fairchild stumbled and fell exhausted on a pile of bedding, gasping
for breath, his eyes distended and his teeth chattering. We crowded
round, seemingly in great alarm, asking him a thousand questions about
the cause of his fright. For several minutes he was unable to speak,
and acted as if he were suffocating. Finally, he managed to say in a
hoarse whisper:


"Oh, men, he must be shot," exclaimed a mischievous hunter.

Thereupon, another joker seized a butcher knife and ripped Fairchild's
shirt down the back from collar to tail. Another, frantically calling
for water, and finding none, emptied the contents of the camp coffee
pot down Fairchild's bare back, which alarmed Fairchild with the fear
that he had been wounded.

Fairchild was recovering by the time Myers and Masterson and the men
who had been at the camp-fire, closely approaching camp, bounded in
with a great rush, panting for breath, and began upbraiding Fairchild
for abandoning them to the mercy of the Indians. We had asked
Fairchild what had become of "Bat" and Myers, and he feebly replied:

"Killed, I guess."

"How many Indians were there, and did you see them?"

He answered that he did not know how many there were, because of the
way they shot, but he was sure that the timber was full of them. Once
he heard something whiz past his head which he knew was not a bullet,
but an arrow.

Masterson now stepped forward and tremblingly declared that the whole
turkey roost country was alive with Indians. Instantly, there was
rushing to and fro in preparation for defense. Serious, perhaps fatal
trouble for everybody, was at hand; the devil was to pay and no pitch
hot. All kinds of suggestions were offered as to what was best to do.
Some of the boys were in favor of starting at once for Dodge City, as
the Indians would be unable to follow our trail at night, and we might
get far enough away by daylight to escape. Fairchild was firmly
committed to the Dodge City plan.

More resolute men were in favor of fighting it out, if every man bit
the dust, and proposed that a strong guard be thrown round the camp,
and that the men take turns standing guard until morning.

This plan was adopted, and the guards were stationed at regular
intervals everywhere round camp, save on the river side, where a high
bank offered protection against sudden surprise.

Fairchild was placed on guard nearest the river, and warned to
maintain a vigilant lookout along the edge of the bank, as the Indians
might swim up the river, and plug him when he wasn't looking, after
which they could kill everybody in camp. As a matter of fact, it would
have been impossible for the enemy to approach in this manner, because
of the swiftness of the water, and the banks were too high and steep
to be scaled.

By this time Fairchild was ready to believe anything he heard and was
so badly rattled that he failed to see that we had left our camp fire
burning, something that we would never have done had we actually felt
that Indians were in the vicinity, as fires would have exposed us to a
broadside from the darkness. Fairchild was in no frame of mind to
think of trifles, and obeyed all orders without asking why.

The guards were stationed, and shortly afterwards, one by one, they
came in, all save Fairchild, who stood at his post. There was much
noisy laughter over the trick we had played on him. When Fairchild
failed to meet the next guard, he became suspicious, and drew near
camp, where he overheard what we were saying. Then he came in, with
blood in his eye. I have often thought that he was the angriest man I
ever saw in my life. We were too many for him, or else he would have
crippled somebody. He refused to eat breakfast, and sulked for several
days. This cured him, however, of wanting to kill an Indian, and ever
afterwards he was a good hunter and a good fellow.

The last time I saw Fairchild he had his sleeves rolled up, skinning
buffaloes, and on his face was a coat of tan half an inch thick. He
bore little resemblance to the tenderfoot I had first seen at Dodge

Fairchild was not the only fellow we treated in this manner. The boys
delighted in playing jokes upon each other. The worst scare I ever got
was in 1870 when I was working for a man near Fort Hays. He owned a
herd of beef cattle which he had sold to the Government. One day three
of us were out with the herd. The cattle had been stampeding
practically every day, and we were having lots of trouble with them.

We were riding along the Saline River, looking for strays. Campbell, a
member of the outfit, was a quarter of a mile behind Thompson and
myself. Campbell suddenly emptied his six-shooter and dashed toward
us, shouting "Indians!" at the top of his voice. He knew that he was
mounted upon a much swifter horse than either of ours, and passed us
like the wind.

Thompson and I looked back, but could see no signs of Indians. We were
certain, nevertheless, that Campbell was in earnest. We put both spurs
to our horses and rode after him at top speed. The country was very
rough, and we supposed that after Campbell and the Indians fired at
each other, the Indians had dropped behind a ridge. We felt that we
were making a run for our lives. Campbell was going so fast that we
could not overtake him. Occasionally, he would stop long enough for us
to come within speaking distance, whereupon he would shout, "Hurry up;
there they come!" and dash away.

He kept this up for about six miles. Our objective point was a
wood-choppers' camp, where we expected to make a stand against the
Indians. If we were killed, we could at least die among men of our own
race. We were hopeful, however, of being able to beat the Indians off.

Our horses were now in a lather, and rapidly breaking down. Rounding a
little knoll, we saw Campbell lying on the ground and rolling from
side to side, as if in acute pain. Perhaps he had been shot. Upon
reaching him, we found to our inexpressible rage and disgust that his
paroxysms were caused by laughter--he said that he had not seen an
Indian all that day; just wanted to play a trick on us. We made
Campbell swear not to tell the other boys; he kept his word.


We had lots of fun sky-larking in our camp on Moore's Creek, but
spring was coming on, and it was our wish to establish a permanent
camp at the best possible place. Unconsciously, we were drawn to that
place as other men, long, long before us, had been drawn, and which we
reached by pulling right down the river bottom about twelve miles to
what was then called West Adobe Walls Creek but which is now called
Bent Creek.

The latter is a beautiful stream, clear and swift. About a mile from
its mouth stood the old ruins of the original Adobe Walls. Here we
stopped and camped for the night. We had heard of these ruins ever
since we had been in the Plains country. They were of great interest
to us, and we carefully examined them, wondering what men in such a
far-off day had ventured to establish themselves here, and why they
had done so. We were not acquainted with the history of the place. We
thought of Mexicans and different Indian tribes of the southwest. As a
matter of fact, there are the remains of villages and old burial
grounds on Wolf Creek in the Panhandle which men who claim to know
about such things declare are the remains of the easternmost extension
of the Pueblo civilization. I have no opinion in the matter.

  [Illustration: _"Billy" Dixon's Log Homestead on Site of Original
                  Adobe Walls._]

When we first saw Adobe Walls, there were parts of walls still
standing, some being four or five feet high. The adobe bricks were in
an excellent state of preservation. Many different stories have been
told about this place and its origin. While I was hunting buffaloes in
southern Kansas I met up with a man named Charley Powell who had been
a soldier in the Third Cavalry. He told me that in 1863, when they
were going from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Fort Bascom, New Mexico, the
trail lay on the south of the Canadian, opposite Adobe Walls. The
soldiers crossed over and looked at the ruins. Even at that time none
of the buildings was standing.

Later, when I was serving as scout at Fort Elliott, Texas, I was
talking with General Hatch one day, and we fell to discussing the
Adobe Walls country. He told me that he passed up the Canadian in 1848
with a regiment of dragoons, going out west, and stopped to examine
these ruins. He said that only the broken walls were to be seen and
that there was much to indicate that the place long since had been
abandoned. On this expedition he was a second lieutenant; at the time
I talked with him he was Lieutenant Colonel of the Fourth United
States Cavalry, and in command at Fort Elliott, an old, gray-haired
man. He was shrewd and very industrious. He took pride in improving
Fort Elliott, and had a mania for using adobe bricks in the erection
of buildings. Employing Mexicans, who were past masters in the making
of these bricks, Colonel Hatch built stables large enough to hold
horses for three troops of cavalry. He put up so many adobe buildings
at Fort Elliott that finally he was called "Doby" Hatch.

It is probable that old Adobe Walls was built by Major William Bent,
in the first 40's or earlier, the year 1844 being possible. Major
Bent's son, George Bent, now living at Colony, Okla., made this

"Bent & Company built Adobe Walls, as it is called. I cannot find out
when it was built. It was a trading post to trade with the Comanches,
Kiowas and Prairie Apaches. Bent & Company traded for horses and mules
from the Indians. They sent their traders in summer time to trade for
this stock. The post was not occupied in winter, as the Company did
not trade for buffalo robes, as the trading post was too far from
Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River to haul the hides. These horses and
mules were driven to Missouri and sold; also, to the Platte Rivers, to
be sold to the emigrants. The Comanches, Kiowas and Apaches were rich
in horses and mules. They stole many in old Mexico and traded off the
wild ones very cheap. Bent & Company employed many Mexicans to break
these wild animals, after which the latter were sold to the whites."

The noted plainsman and Indian trader, John Smith, told George Bent
that together with five or six companions he made his escape from old
Adobe Walls, after it had been attacked by Comanches and Kiowas.

Even though it be true that old Adobe Walls was established by Major
William Bent and his associates, a tradition remains that they merely
seized upon a site that had been occupied at an even earlier day by
men of whom nothing is known, save that they are believed to have come
from the Spanish settlements in New Mexico. There are traditions of
buried treasure at Adobe Walls, and strangers have appeared there in
search of it. One of these treasure-hunters was an old gray-haired man
who came after the country had been settled. His story was that a pack
train loaded with gold and silver bullion had been attacked at this
place by Indians. In its extremity, the besieged party buried the
bullion. Only one or two members of the expedition escaped massacre,
among the slain being a Catholic priest.

The old man in search of the treasure was too feeble to do the
physical work of digging, and tried to hire men to work for him. He
was looked upon as slightly demented, and could get no assistance. He
departed without finding the buried fortune. Subsequently, his story
was revived, and men living in the locality made numerous excavations,
but found nothing.

The day after we camped on Bent Creek, several of the boys rode
northeast, to look over the country. Upon their return, they reported
that there was an excellent site for a permanent camp on the next
creek, about a mile and a half further on, so we pulled up the valley
and began unloading our wagons on the bare ground in a broad valley
where there was a pretty stream called East Adobe Walls Creek. This
was to become a spot memorable to all of us.

Myers & Leonard built a picket house twenty by sixty feet in size.
James Hanrahan put up a sod house, twenty-five by sixty, in which he
opened a saloon. Thomas O'Keefe built a blacksmith's shop of pickets,
fifteen feet square. Thus, a little town was sprouting in the
wilderness--a place where we could buy something to eat and wear,
something to drink, ammunition for our guns, and a place where our
wagons, so necessary in expeditions like ours, could be repaired.

While all this hammering and pounding and digging was going on, I
started with three companions and rode the country as far down as
where the present town of Clarendon, Texas, now stands. We were absent
about fifteen days, and upon our return we found the buildings about
finished. We did not see many buffaloes on this trip. Maybe the
buffaloes had scented Indians. We ranged as far east as Cantonment
Creek, and on its east prong encountered a few scattering bulls. The
season was too early for the cows and bulls to begin mating and
running together.

On Cantonment Creek we stopped at some seeping springs. A lone
cottonwood stood tall and gaunt among a few hackberries. I cut my name
on this lone tree. One of the men who was with me at that time was a
Frenchman, for whom we had no other name than "Frenchy," just as we
had single names for many other men in the Plains country. He was an
excellent cook, and I always thought he could broil buffalo steak
better than any other man I ever saw.

In returning to camp, we crossed Red Deer about where Miami, Texas,
now is, and camped at some water-holes. Heading northward we soon
struck the brakes of Tallahone, and followed the Tallahone down to its
mouth. This was a timbered creek with an abundance of running water.
Perch and catfish were so plentiful that enough to feed the whole camp
could be caught in a few minutes. Deer and wild turkeys were in sight
all along Tallahone, and there were numerous signs of beaver and

Here we crossed the Canadian at what for many years was the main
crossing in this part of the country, and followed along the north
side of the river to Adobe Walls.

During our absence from camp, Wright & Langton came down from Dodge
City with another outfit and built a sod house sixteen by twenty feet.
This firm bought buffalo hides and was engaged in general
merchandising. The business was in charge of James Langton.

The buildings were finished as rapidly as possible, and every man at
Adobe Walls who could be induced to engage in this kind of manual
labor was given a job and paid well for his services. Each building
had a big cottonwood ridge log, paralleled with smaller poles running
down the roof. The poles were covered with dirt and sod. For safety
and convenience in handling their stock, Myers & Leonard built a
stockade corral. This inclosure was made by setting big cottonwood
logs in the ground. The logs were hauled across the Canadian, from
Reynolds Creek, a distance of about six miles, and was a laborious

I had no liking for the monotony and restraint of camp life and was
impatient to be about my own business, which was to find a good
buffalo range and begin hunting. After remaining in camp two days, we
saddled and mounted again, to go up the Canadian as far west as Hill's
Creek. We crossed the river and followed the old Fort Bascom trail to
Antelope Creek, where we crossed over to the Arroya Bonita, on which
the LX Ranch afterwards established headquarters. The Arroya Bonita is
one of the prettiest streams in the Panhandle country, with a good
flow of water and lots of timber.

Here I struck the trail I had made during the previous winter, and
which I now followed back across the Canadian and thence north to
Grapevine Creek, where I camped two or three days. This was at the
edge of the Plains. At intervals we struck small bands of bulls as we
did all the way. Buffaloes were surprisingly scarce. Sometimes we
killed them, and at other times did not molest them. Generally, there
were from four to ten in a bunch. The scarcity of buffaloes rather
discouraged us, and we redoubled our efforts to locate a big herd. We
held to the east, keeping along the edge of the Plains and coming down
to the Canadian between Bugbee Canyon and Big Creek. Bugbee Canyon
received its name from the fact that Thomas Bugbee settled there in
1876. His was one of the first cow ranches established in the
Panhandle of Texas. Charles Goodnight, whom I met first in the fall of
1875, brought his cattle that year from Colorado to Palo Duro Canyon.
Mrs. Goodnight joined her husband in 1876.

We were in the Bugbee Canyon country in May, 1874. The season was
delightful. The air was fresh and invigorating, the grass was green,
flowers were blooming, the sky was clear, the sunshine pleasant, and a
feeling of joy and happiness everywhere. Those were splendid nights,
out there under the stars. The mornings came with dazzling splendor.
At this season sunrise on the Plains presented a scene of
magnificence. I always had the feeling that it came with a thunderous

When we struck Big Creek I noticed a patch of lamb's quarter (wild
greens), and I told the boys we would go into camp and cook a pot of
green, which we did. We ate greens to our hearts' content.

Searching out every point in the country, next day we followed an old
trail down to the Canadian valley, striking it at a high point,
afterwards known as Dixon's Point, on account of its being opposite
Dixon's Creek. We soon reached Adobe Walls.

All the buildings had been finished, and everybody was doing a good
business. Quite a number of hunters had come down from the north, and
a plain trail had been opened between Adobe Walls and Dodge City, a
hundred and fifty miles away. Freight outfits were making regular
trips between the two places.

All of us hunters acquainted with the habits of the buffalo knew that
the herds would soon be coming north from the Staked Plains region
where they had spent the winter. The spring had been unusually late,
which held back the buffaloes in their migration. There was nothing
for us to do but wait until the buffaloes were moved by that strange
impulse that twice annually caused them to change their home and
blacken the Plains with their countless, moving forms. We could lie
around camp or vary the monotony by going to Adobe Walls and joining
in the fun that was rampant at that place. Our amusements were mostly
card-playing, running horse-races, drinking whisky and shooting at
targets, the latter to improve our marksmanship.

All this soon got old to me, and about the last of May I pulled out
again. Crossing the Canadian at the mouth of White Deer Creek, I
followed the latter to its head and went out on the Plains, keeping
along their edge until I came to Dixon Creek. Here I found an ideal
camping place, with plenty of wood, grass and water. I decided to
build our permanent camp, and was soon industriously at work. I knew
by the signs that buffaloes had been through here, and it was certain
that they would soon be coming back.

I had two men with me, "Frenchy," whom I employed as a skinner, and
Charley Armitage, an agreeable fellow who had come from England. Those
Englishmen certainly loved the life of the frontier.

We had been here two or three days, when the expected happened.
Getting up one morning earlier than my companions, I chunked the fire
for breakfast, and stood waiting for it to begin blazing. Then a
familiar sound come rolling toward me from the Plains--a sound deep
and moving, not unlike the rumbling of a distant train passing over a
bridge. In an instant I knew what was at hand. I had often heard it. I
had been listening for it for days, even weeks.

Walking out on a high point near camp, I gazed eagerly toward the
horizon. I could see nothing save the vast undulating landscape. My
ears, however, had revealed to me what my eyes could not see. The
buffaloes were coming!

Hurrying back to camp, I shouted the good news to Armitage and
"Frenchy," rousing them from their sleep and telling them to hurry
breakfast. They lost no time in making coffee, frying meat and
browning a cake of bread. I saddled my horse by the time breakfast was
ready, and after eating hurriedly I sprang into my saddle and went
south at a gallop.

After I had ridden about five miles, I began striking small bunches of
buffalo bulls, all headed north and all moving. A further ride of
eight miles carried me out on the Plains. My muscles hardened and grew
warm at the sight. As far as the eye could reach, south, east and west
of me there was a solid mass of buffaloes--thousands upon thousands of
them--slowly moving toward the north.

The noise I had heard at early day-break was the bellowing of the
bulls. At this time of year--the breeding season--the bellowing of the
countless bulls was continuous, a deep, steady roar, that seemed to
reach to the clouds. It was kept up night and day, but seemed to be
deepest and plainest at early morning.

I was happy beyond measure, and turned my horse toward camp, hastening
at full speed to let my men know what I had found. Already, the
buffaloes were approaching the vicinity of my camp, and in sight of it
I shot thirty-five or forty, all bulls; the boys were soon busily at
work with their skinning knives. By night buffaloes were passing
within gunshot of our camp.

Business had now begun in earnest, and we would soon be enjoying a
steady income, to offset our winter's expenses. Where buffaloes were
as plentiful as they were here I could easily kill enough in a day to
keep ten skinners busily at work. I killed enough next day to keep
"Frenchy" and Armitage employed for several days, and went down to
Adobe Walls in a light wagon, to see if I could hire more skinners. I
found one man who would go with me, but for only a few days, until his
partner should return with a load of hides. All the other hunters had
heard the good news, and had pulled out for the buffalo range. Adobe
Walls was deserted, save for the merchants and their clerks. By
offering this man twenty-five cents a hide for skinning, I induced him
to go with me for a week or ten days.

On my way I had undertaken to pick out the most direct route from my
camp to Adobe Walls. Keeping on the divide between Dixon Creek and
Short Creek, I came to a stretch of very rough country late in the
evening, and finally reached a place where it was impossible to travel
further in a wagon. As darkness was falling, I unhooked my mules, Tobe
and Joe, and jumped astride old Tobe, followed some buffalo trails
down to Dixon Creek, near its mouth where grass and water were

As this particular locality was new to me and darkness at hand, I
decided that I would camp there for the night. Picketing one of the
mules, I turned the other one loose. With a single blanket for my bed
and my coat for a pillow, I lay down for the night, and was soon sound

No mercy was shown the buffaloes when I got back to camp from Adobe
Walls. I killed as many as my three men could handle, working them as
hard as they were willing to work. This was deadly business, without
sentiment; it was dollars against tenderheartedness, and dollars won.

When the man I had hired at Adobe Walls had worked his full time, I
hitched up and started back with him. When we reached the Canadian we
found her with her back up, smashing and banging things from side to
side--so deep and swollen that it would have been the height of
foolishness to attempt a crossing. We went on to White Deer Creek,
hoping to find a wider crossing, and by reason of it a shallower

I waded the river in my search for a good footing, and decided finally
that we could cross by swimming the mules fifty or sixty yards. It was
our purpose to unhitch the mules and leave the wagon on the south side
of the river until the water had run down.

Our plans were quickly changed. At that moment two men from Adobe
Walls rode up and told us that two hunters had been killed by Indians
twenty-five miles down the river, on Chicken Creek, several days past.
Our informants were greatly excited, and were hurrying back to their
camp at the head of White Deer.

If the Indians were on the warpath, we knew it would be foolish to
leave our wagon, as they would destroy it beyond doubt, so we decided
to risk trying to take it across the river regardless of the wide
stretch of rolling water.

While men experienced in the trials of travel in the wilderness may
grow indifferent to danger, yet they never quite forget that danger
exists. This is especially true in crossing such streams as the South
Canadian and the Cimarron. These streams make the odds in their own
way and in their own favor. The man that ventures into them must rely
solely upon his own nerve, strength and horse sense.

Choosing a point on the opposite side of the river where we wished to
land, we drove in, hoping for the best. In a moment the swift current
caught us, and both mules were swimming. In water a mule has less
sense than a horse, and the ginger is soon knocked out of him if he
gets his ears full of water. Having smaller feet, the mule cannot
equal a horse in traversing quicksand.

After the mules had taken a few plunges, the current caught up our
wagon and whirled it over and over like a top. When I saw that the
mules would have to swim for it, I sprang into the water to help the
frightened animals, getting on their upper side and seizing the mule
nearest me by his bridle. In this way I was able to keep his head
above water. The other mule, terrified by its surroundings,
alternately rose and sank. We saw that if the wagon kept turning over,
the team might get drowned, so we cut the harness, and after the
greatest exertion got the mules ashore. The near mule lay down on the
sand and died without a struggle. It seemed ridiculous that the mule
should succumb after being taken from the water, yet there he lay. Old
Tobe was saved. The wagon drifted down stream about sixty yards and
lodged against the bank. We pulled it out of the river next day. Our
greatest misfortune was the loss of our guns.

When we lined up on the north side of the river we were a sorry
lot--two bedraggled, unarmed men and a water-logged mule three miles
from Adobe Walls, in danger of attack by Indians at any moment.
Ordinarily, I was not easily discouraged. This, however, was a jolt
from the shoulder. I stood in greatest need of my gun, a big "50." We
could dig out the wagon, but not the guns, and somewhere in the depths
of the Canadian they are rusting this very day.

We were a sorrowful pair as we started up the valley for Adobe Walls,
leading old Tobe and leaving old Joe to bleach on the Canadian sands.
Unwilling to let the other walk, neither of us would ride. I had lost
my hat in the river, and my clothing was plastered with mud and sand.

Upon coming in sight of Adobe Walls, we were quickly discovered, and
our disordered appearance convinced the men that we had been attacked
by Indians--possibly we were the only survivors of a desperate
encounter. We found Adobe Walls buzzing with talk about Indians. The
particulars of the killing of the men on Chicken Creek were now
learned. Their names were Dudley and Wallace. They were camped on the
south side of the creek near where the Ledrick brothers now have a
ranch. Dudley, Wallace and Joe Plummer were hunting together from this
camp. Plummer went to Adobe Walls for supplies. Upon his return he was
horrified to find the dead bodies of his two companions. Through the
breast of one had been driven a heavy wooden stake, pinning him to the
ground. Both were scalped, and otherwise mutilated in a shocking

Looking away from his camp, Plummer said he saw objects at a distance
which he felt sure were Indians. Realizing that the next thing for him
to do was to try to save his life, he cut the harness from one of his
horses, mounted and dashed away toward Adobe Walls.

The news he brought caused much excitement, as these were the first
men that had been killed since the building of Adobe Walls. When
Plummer reached the Walls there were only a few men there, but he
managed to get two buffalo-hunters to go back with him to bury the
dead. A party of fifteen surveyors, employed by the State of Texas,
and in charge of a man named Maddox, had just arrived in that section.
I am told that this was the first surveying ever done in the
Panhandle, and that the Maddox survey still holds good. The surveyors'
camp was on Johns' Creek. Plummer had halted there on his way to Adobe
Walls, to warn the men against the Indians. When Plummer returned, the
members of the surveying party joined him to help bury the dead. No
further indignities had been offered the bodies, which were buried on
the spot. The horses, still in their harness were found grazing in the
valley. Plummer gathered up the outfit and went to Adobe Walls--the
surveyors kept going straight south, fully satisfied that soldiers,
not surveyors, were what the country most needed.

Hearing all this, I was impatient to return to my own camp as quickly
as possible, but was detained by the necessity of buying a mate for my
mule, which was beset with difficulties. Finally, I managed to buy a
horse. My next obstacle to overcome was to replace the gun I had lost
in the Canadian. The best I was able to do was to buy what was called
a round-barrel Sharp's. I had left camp in such a hurry that I failed
to take my six-shooter, an oversight of which I was rarely guilty in
those days. I had been absent three days when I got back to my camp.

The evening before I left Adobe Walls, another hunter came in with
Indian news. His name was Moore. He said that two days previously two
men had been killed by Indians in his camp on a tributary of Salt Fork
of Red River, north of where Clarendon, Texas, is now situated. The
names of the dead men were John Jones, nicknamed "Cheyenne Jack," a
young Englishman, and "Blue Billy," a German. The camp was destroyed
and all the stock run off.

"Cheyenne Jack" belonged to an influential family in England. His
relatives, several years later, made inquiry through the British
diplomatic service, in communication to the commanding officer at Fort
Elliott, Texas, as to the whereabouts of the unfortunate man's
remains. I was directed to find where the body had been buried. It was
a week after Moore reported these murders before a party went from
Adobe Walls to bury the dead men. Jones and his companion had fallen
in the bed of a creek in a grove of timber, right in camp. While Moore
was absent, a flood came down the creek and carried the bodies and the
whole camp away. The bodies could not be found.

Before leaving the Walls to go to my camp, I got "Brick" Bond, now
living at Dodge City, Kansas, to accompany me. I was fearful that the
Indians had attacked my camp and possibly killed Albright and
"Frenchy." Happily, I found them alive and ignorant of what had been
going on in the country south of the Walls.

All of us agreed that a blind man could see that it was entirely too
risky to stay in camp with Indians all around us, so we lost no time
in loading our outfit and pulling into Adobe Walls, arriving there by
noon the next day. The story of the Indian depredations had spread to
all the hunting camps, and by the time we reached the Walls a large
crowd had gathered in from the surrounding country. We remained here
for about a week.

An odd thing about this Indian excitement was that none of the hunters
had seen an Indian nor a sign of one. The Indians evidently had
carefully picked their time, watching closely and waiting until only
two or three men were in camp, whereupon they attacked and then
slipped stealthily away. All of us felt that these murders had been
perpetrated as a warning to the buffalo-hunters to leave the
country--to go north of the "dead line."

Every man of us was dead set against abandoning the buffalo range. The
herds were now at hand, and we were in a fair way to make a pile of
money. Furthermore, the buffaloes were becoming scarcer and scarcer
each year, and it was expedient that we make hay while the sun shone,
for soon the sun would be no longer shining in the buffalo business.
Its night was close at hand. We decided that the best and safest plan
would be for three or four outfits to throw in together and all occupy
the same camp. After all, it was not unusual to hear of two or three
buffalo-hunters being killed and scalped every year, and perhaps there
would be no further outbreaks by the Indians. It was agreed, however,
that everybody should be very careful and take every precaution
against surprise and attack.

When we started back to the range, most of us went west and north of
the Walls, as the Indians were supposed to be camped on the headwaters
of the Washita and the Sweetwater, south of us, their main summer camp
grounds. But I was so in love with my location on Dixon Creek,
southwest of the Walls, that I resolved to take the risk and establish
myself at that point, and went there with three skinners I had hired.

We had left a lot of hides at this camp, and began hauling them to
Adobe Walls, which took several days. I felt uneasy all the time.
Something seemed to be wrong. There was Indian in the air, and I could
not shake myself loose from thinking about the possible danger, so I
told my men that it might be well for us to get over on the north side
of the Canadian. We broke camp and went to Adobe Walls, to increase
our stock of supplies for a stay near the head of Moore's Creek.

We were buying supplies to last us two months, and were ready to start
next day. Late in the evening James Hanrahan came to me and said:

"Billy, where are you going?"

"Northwest," I answered.

Hanrahan then asked me how it would suit me for the two of us to throw
in together. He said he had been having trouble in getting a man who
could hunt fast enough to keep his skinners busy. Hanrahan owned a big
outfit, and usually had seven skinners. I told him that nothing would
please me more than to go into partnership with him, and that I could
easily kill enough buffaloes to keep twenty skinners hard at work
every day. Hanrahan offered to give me half of all the profits, which
was as liberal as any man could wish for.

Our wagons were all assembled and loaded, in readiness for us to pull
out next morning, June 27, 1874.

It might be well to describe the exact location of the buildings and
the nature of their surroundings. All the buildings at Adobe Walls
faced to the east, the main ones standing in a row. On the south was
the store of Rath & Wright, with a great pile of buffalo hides at the
rear. Then came Hanrahan's saloon, and fifty yards or so north of the
latter was the store of Leonard & Myers, the building forming the
northeast corner of the big picket stockade. In the southwest corner
of the stockade was a mess house, and between the mess house and the
store was a well. The blacksmith's shop was located just north of
Hanrahan's saloon.

The adobe walls of the main buildings were about two feet thick. The
door of Rath & Wright's store opened to the west, while that of
Leonard & Myers looked to the east.

Bent's Creek, west of the Walls, flowed from the northwest in a
southeasterly direction to the Canadian, passing close to the ruins of
old Adobe Walls, about a mile and a quarter south of the new Adobe
Walls. On the north side of Bent's Creek, southwest of the buildings,
was a hill, north of which the land was smoother and afterwards a part
of the Turkey Track Ranch pasture.

East of Adobe Walls lay the open valley of Adobe Walls Creek,
terminating in a growth of willows, cottonwoods, hackberry,
chinaberry, and stunted elms that fringed this stream, on the other
side of which, at a distance of about twelve hundred yards from
Leonard & Myer's store stood a butte-like hill of considerable height,
with a more or less level bench near the summit, caused by the sliding
and falling of debris from the crest. Several hundred yards southeast
were the low sandhills of the Canadian, whose wide expanse of level
sand was more than a mile away.

The season had advanced so slowly, and the buffaloes had been so long
coming north, that we had done comparatively little hunting, and all
of us were impatient to be up and gone. O'Keefe was doing a big
business at his blacksmith's shop, pounding away hour after hour,
repairing the wagons on which the buffalo hides were to be hauled from
the hunting grounds to the traders at Adobe Walls. My wagon was in
front of the shop, O'Keefe having finished repairing it.

I had been unable to replace my big "50," lost in the Canadian, with a
gun that suited me in every way, but it was highly important that I
should be well-armed if I expected to fulfill my promises to Hanrahan.

The only gun at the Walls that was not in use was a new "44" Sharp's,
which was next best to a "50." This gun had been spoken for by a
hunter who was still out in camp; he was to pay $80 for it, buying it
from Langton who was in charge of Rath & Wright's store. Langton told
me that if necessary he would let me have the gun, as he had ordered a
case of guns and was expecting them to arrive any day on the freight
train from Dodge City, and he probably would have them in stock before
the owner of the gun came in from the buffalo range. News came in that
night, the evening of June 26, 1874, that the freight wagons were
camped on the flats north of the Walls and, of course, would show up
in a day or two. Langton also heard that the man to whom he had
promised the gun was not coming for several days, so he hunted me up
and told me I might have the gun.

I went right over to his store and got the "44," together with a full
case of ammunition. I was so tickled over my good luck, that I took
the gun over to Hanrahan's saloon, to show it to him. After we had
looked the gun over, I set it down in the corner for the night,
intending to get it when we said good bye to the Walls next morning,
headed for our camp on the buffalo range. For some reason which I can
not explain, even to myself, I left the case of ammunition with
Langton, little dreaming how greatly I would regret my carelessness.

By this time the excitement and talk about the fate of the four men
who had been killed by Indians had subsided, and we paid no further
attention to the matter, so busily were we engaged in our preparations
for departure. Several hunters had come in that day, and we planned to
stay up late that night, celebrating our return to the range, telling
stories of past experiences and joking about how much money we would
have when the hunt was over.

The night was sultry and we sat with open doors. In all that vast
wilderness, ours were the only lights save the stars that glittered
above us. There was just a handful of us out there on the Plains, each
bound to the other by the common tie of standing together in the face
of any danger that threatened us. It was a simple code, but about the
best I know of. Outside could be heard at intervals the muffled sounds
of the stock moving and stumbling around, or a picketed horse shaking
himself as he paused in his hunt for the young grass. In the timber
along Adobe Walls Creek to the east owls were hooting. We paid no
attention to these things, however, and in our fancied security
against all foes frolicked and had a general good time. Hanrahan did a
thriving trade.


On that memorable night, June 26, 1874, there were 28 men and one
woman at the Walls. The woman was the wife of William Olds. She had
come from Dodge City with her husband to open a restaurant in the rear
of Rath & Wright's store. Only eight or nine of the men lived at the
Walls, the others being buffalo-hunters who by chance happened to be
there. There was not the slightest feeling of impending danger.

As was the custom in the buffalo country, most of the men made their
beds outside on the ground. I spread my blankets near the blacksmith's
shop, close to my wagon. I placed my gun by my side between my
blankets, as usual, to protect it from dew and rain. A man's gun and
his horse were his two most valuable possessions, next to life, in
that country in those days.

Every door was left wide open, such a thing as locking a door being
unheard of at the Walls. One by one the lights were turned out, the
tired buffalo-hunters fell asleep, and the Walls were soon wrapped in
the stillness of night.

Late that evening I had gone down on the creek and caught my saddle
horse--a better one could not be found--and tied him with a long
picket rope to a stake pin near my wagon.

About 2 o'clock in the morning Shepherd and Mike Welch, who were
sleeping in Hanrahan's saloon, were awakened by a report that sounded
like the crack of a rifle. They sprang up and discovered that the
noise was caused by the big cottonwood ridge pole.

This ridge pole sustained the weight of the dirt roof, and if the pole
should break the roof would collapse and fall in, to the injury or
death of those inside. Welch and Shepherd woke up a number of their
companions to help them repair the roof. Some climbed on top and began
throwing off the dirt, while others went down to the creek to cut a
prop for the ridge pole.

This commotion woke up others, and in a little while about fifteen men
were helping repair the roof. Providential things usually are
mysterious; there has always been something mysterious to me in the
loud report that came from that ridge pole in Hanrahan's saloon. It
seems strange that it should have happened at the very time it did,
instead of at noon or some other hour, and, above all, that it should
have been loud enough to wake men who were fast asleep. Twenty-eight
men and one woman would have been slaughtered if the ridge pole in
Hanrahan's saloon had not cracked like a rifle shot.

  [Illustration: _Chief Quanah Parker of the Comanches._]

By the time we had put the prop in place, the sky was growing red in
the east, and Hanrahan asked me if I did not think we might as well
stay up and get an early start. I agreed, and he sent Billy Ogg down
on the creek to get the horses. Some of the men, however, crawled back
into bed. The horses were grazing southeast of the buildings, along
Adobe Walls Creek, a quarter of a mile off.

Turning to my bed, I rolled it up and threw it on the front of my
wagon. As I turned to pick up my gun, which lay on the ground, I
looked in the direction of our horses. They were in sight. Something
else caught my eye. Just beyond the horses, at the edge of some
timber, was a large body of objects advancing vaguely in the dusky
dawn toward our stock and in the direction of Adobe Walls. Though keen
of vision, I could not make out what the objects were, even by
straining my eyes.

Then I was thunderstruck. The black body of moving object suddenly
spread out like a fan, and from it went up one single, solid yell--a
warwhoop that seemed to shake the very air of the early morning. Then
came the thudding roar of running horses, and the hideous cries of the
individual warriors, each embarked in the onslaught. I could see that
hundreds of Indians were coming. Had it not been for the ridge pole,
all of us would have been asleep.

In such desperate emergencies, men exert themselves almost
automatically to do the needful thing. There is no time to make
conscious effort, and if a man lose his head, he shakes hands with

I made a dash for my saddle horse, my first thought being to save him.
I never thought for an instant that the oncoming Indians were
intending an attack upon the buildings, their purpose being, as I
thought, to run off our stock, which they could easily have done by
driving it ahead of them. I overlooked the number of Indians, however,
or else I might have formed a different opinion.

The first mighty warwhoop had frightened my horse until he was
frantic. He was running and lunging on his rope so violently that in
one more run he would have pulled up the stake pin and gone to the
land of stampeded horses. I managed to grab the rope, and tie my horse
to my wagon.

I then rushed for my gun, and turned to get a few good shots before
the Indians could turn to run away. I started to run forward a few
steps. Indians running away! They were coming as straight as a bullet
toward the buildings, whipping their horses at every jump.

There was never a more splendidly barbaric sight. In after years I was
glad that I had seen it. Hundreds of warriors, the flower of the
fighting men of the southwestern Plains tribes, mounted upon their
finest horses, armed with guns and lances, and carrying heavy shields
of thick buffalo hide, were coming like the wind. Over all was
splashed the rich colors of red, vermillion and ochre, on the bodies
of the men, on the bodies of the running horses. Scalps dangled from
bridles, gorgeous war-bonnets fluttered their plumes, bright feathers
dangled from the tails and manes of the horses, and the bronzed,
half-naked bodies of the riders glittered with ornaments of silver and
brass. Behind this head-long charging host stretched the Plains, on
whose horizon the rising sun was lifting its morning fires. The
warriors seemed to emerge from this glowing background.

I must confess, however, that the landscape possessed little interest
for me when I saw that the Indians were coming to attack us, and that
they would be at hand in a few moments. War-whooping had a very
appreciable effect upon the roots of a man's hair.

I fired one shot, but had no desire to wait and see where the bullet
went. I turned and ran as quickly as possible to the nearest building,
which happened to be Hanrahan's saloon. I found it closed. I certainly
felt lonesome. The alarm had spread and the boys were preparing to
defend themselves. I shouted to them to let me in. An age seemed to
pass before they opened the door and I sprang inside. Bullets were
whistling and knocking up the dust all around me. Just as the door was
opened for me, Billy Ogg ran up and fell inside, so exhausted that he
could no longer stand. I am confident that if Billy had been timed,
his would have been forever the world's record. Billy had made a
desperate race, and that he should escape seemed incredible.

We were scarcely inside before the Indians had surrounded all the
buildings and shot out every window pane. When our men saw the Indians
coming, they broke for the nearest building at hand, and in this way
split up into three parties. They were gathered in the different
buildings, as follows:

Hanrahan's Saloon--James Hanrahan, "Bat" Masterson, Mike Welch,
Shepherd, Hiram Watson, Billy Ogg, James McKinley, "Bermuda" Carlisle,
and William Dixon.

Myers & Leonard's Store--Fred Leonard, James Campbell, Edward Trevor,
Frank Brown, Harry Armitage, "Dutch Henry," Billy Tyler, Old Man
Keeler, Mike McCabe, Henry Lease, and "Frenchy."

Rath & Wright's Store--James Longton, George Eddy, Thomas O'Keefe,
William Olds and his wife; Sam Smith, and Andy Johnson.

Some of the men were still undressed, but nobody wasted any time
hunting their clothes, and many of them fought for their lives all
that summer day barefoot and in their night clothes.

The men in Hanrahan's saloon had a little the best of the others
because of the fact that they were awake and up when the alarm was
given. In the other buildings some of the boys were sound asleep and
it took time for them to barricade the doors and windows before they
began fighting. Barricades were built by piling up sacks of flour and
grain, at which some of the men worked while others seized their guns
and began shooting at the Indians.

The number of Indians in this attack has been variously estimated at
from 700 to 1,000. I believe that 700 would be a safe guess. The
warriors were mostly Kiowas, Cheyennes and Comanches. The latter were
led by their chief Quanah, whose mother was a white woman, Cynthia Ann
Parker, captured during a raid by the Comanches in Texas. Big Bow was
another formidable Comanche chieftain; Lone Wolf was a leader of the
Kiowas, and Little Robe and White Shield, of the Cheyennes.

For the first half hour the Indians were reckless and daring enough to
ride up and strike the doors with the butts of their guns. Finally,
the buffalo-hunters all got straightened out and were firing with
deadly effect. The Indians stood up against this for awhile, but
gradually began falling back, as we were emptying buckskin saddles
entirely too fast for Indian safety. Our guns had longer range than
theirs. Furthermore, the hostiles were having little success--they had
killed only two of our men, the Shadler brothers who were caught
asleep in their wagon. Both were scalped. Their big Newfoundland dog,
which always slept at their feet, evidently showed fight, as the
Indians killed him, and "scalped" him by cutting a piece of hide off
his side. The Indians ransacked the wagon and took all the provisions.
The Shadlers were freighters.

At our first volleys, a good many of the Indians jumped off their
horses and prepared for a fight on foot. They soon abandoned this
plan; and for good reason. They were the targets of expert
rough-and-ready marksmen, and for the Indians to stand in the open
meant death. They fell back.

The Indians exhibited one of their characteristic traits. Numbers of
them fell, dead or wounded, close to the buildings. In almost every
instance a determined effort was made to rescue the bodies, at the
imminent risk of the life of every warrior that attempted this feat in
front of the booming buffalo-guns. An Indian in those days would
quickly endanger his own life to carry a dead or helpless comrade
beyond reach of the enemy. I have been told that their zeal was due to
some religious belief concerning the scalp-lock--that if a warrior
should lose his scalp-lock his spirit would fail to reach the happy
hunting grounds. Perhaps for the same reason the Indian always tried
to scalp his fallen enemy.

Time and again, with the fury of a whirlwind, the Indians charged upon
the building, only to sustain greater losses than they were able to
inflict. This was a losing game, and if the Indians kept it up we
stood a fair chance of killing most of them. I am sure that we
surprised the Indians as badly as they surprised us. They expected to
find us asleep, unprepared for an attack. Their "medicine" man had
told them that all they would have to do would be to come to Adobe
Walls and knock us on the head with sticks, and that our bullets would
not be strong enough to break an Indian's skin. The old man was a bad

Almost at the beginning of the attack, we were surprised at the sound
of a bugle. This bugler was with the Indians, and could blow the
different calls as cleverly as the bugler on the parade ground at Fort
Dodge. The story was told that he was a negro deserter from the Tenth
Cavalry, which I never believed. It is more probable that he was a
captive halfbreed Mexican that was known to be living among the Kiowas
and Comanches in the 60's. He had been captured in his boyhood when
these Indians were raiding in the Rio Grande country, and grew up
among them, as savage and cruel as any of their warriors. How he
learned to blow the bugle is unknown. A frontiersman who went with an
expedition to the Kiowas in 1866 tells of having found a bugler among
them at that time. The Kiowas, he said, were able to maneuver to the
sound of the bugle. This bugler never approached the white men closely
enough to be recognized.

In the fight at Adobe Walls, the fact was discovered that the Indian
warriors were charging to the sound of the bugle. In this they
"tipped" their hand, for the calls were understood, and the
buffalo-hunters were "loaded for bear" by the time the Indians were
within range. "Bat" Masterson, recalling this incident long after the
fight, said:

"We had in the building I was in (Hanrahan's saloon), two men who had
served in the United States army, and understood all the bugle calls.
The first call blown was a rally, which our men instantly understood.
The next was a charge, and that also was understood, and immediately
the Indians come rushing forward to a fresh attack. Every bugle call
he blew was understood by the ex-soldiers and were carried out to the
letter by the Indians, showing that the bugler had the Indians
thoroughly drilled.

"The bugler was killed late in the afternoon of the first day's
fighting as he was running away from a wagon owned by the Shadler
brothers, both of whom were killed in this same wagon. The bugler had
his bugle with him at the time he was shot by Harry Armitage. Also he
was carrying a tin can filled with sugar and another filled with
ground coffee, one under each arm. Armitage shot him through the back
with a 50-caliber Sharp's rifle, as he was making his escape."

Billy Tyler and Fred Leonard went into the stockade, but were
compelled to retreat, the Indians firing at them through the openings
between the stockade pickets. Just as Tyler was entering the door of
the adobe store, he turned to fire, and was struck by a bullet that
penetrated his lungs. He lived about half an hour after he was dragged
into the store.

The Indians were not without military tactics in trying to recover
their dead and wounded. While one band would pour a hot fire into the
buildings, other Indians on horseback would run forward under the
protection of this fusillade. They succeeded in dragging away a good
many of the fallen.

Once during a charge I noticed an Indian riding a white horse toward
where another Indian had gone down in the tall grass. The latter
jumped up behind the Indian on the horse, and both started at full
speed for safety. A rifle cracked and a bullet struck the horse,
breaking one of its hind legs. We could see the blood streaming down
the horse's leg. Both Indians began whipping the poor brute and,
lurching and staggering on three legs, he carried them away.

By noon the Indians had ceased charging, and had stationed themselves
in groups in different places, maintaining a more or less steady fire
all day on the buildings. Sometimes the Indians would fire especially
heavy volleys, whereupon wounded Indians would leap from the grass and
run as far as they could and then drop down in the grass again. In
this manner a number escaped.

Along about 10 o'clock, the Indians having fallen back at a safer
distance from the buffalo-guns, some of us noticed a pony standing
near the corner of a big stack of buffalo hides at the rear of Rath's
building. We could see that an Indian behind the hides was holding the
pony by the bridle, so we shot the pony and it fell dead. The pony was
gaily decorated with red calico plaited in its mane.

The falling of the pony left the Indian somewhat exposed to our fire,
and the boys at Hanrahan's and Rath's opened upon him full blast. They
certainly "fogged" him. No Indian ever danced a livelier jig. We kept
him jumping like a flea back and forth behind the pile of hides.

I had got possession of a big "50" gun early in the fight, and was
making considerable noise with it. I sized up what was going on behind
the pile of buffalo hides, and took careful aim at the place where I
thought the Indian was crouched. I shot through one corner of the
hides. It looked to me as if that Indian jumped six feet straight up
into the air, howling with pain. Evidently I had hit him. He ran
zig-zag fashion for thirty or forty yards, howling at every jump, and
dropped down in the tall grass. Indians commonly ran in this manner
when under fire, to prevent our getting a bead on them.

I managed to get hold of the "50" gun in this manner. The ammunition
for mine was in Rath's store, which none of us was in the habit of
visiting at that particular moment. I had noticed that Shepherd,
Hanrahan's bartender, was banging around with Hanrahan's big "50," but
not making much use of it, as he was badly excited.

"Here, Jim," I said to Hanrahan, "I see you are without a gun; take
this one."

I gave him mine. I then told "Shep." to give me the "50." He was so
glad to turn loose of it, and handed it to me so quickly that he
almost dropped it. I had the reputation of being a good shot and it
was rather to the interest of all of us that I should have a powerful

We had no way of telling what was happening to the men in the other
buildings, and they were equally ignorant of what was happening to us.
Not a man in our building had been hit: I could never see how we
escaped, for at times the bullets poured in like hail and made us hug
the sod walls like gophers when a hawk was swooping past.

By this time there were a large number of wounded horses standing near
the buildings. A horse gives up quickly when in pain, and these made
no effort to get away. Even those that were at a considerable distance
from the buildings when they received their wounds came to us, as if
seeking our help and sympathy. It was a pitiable sight, and touched
our hearts, for the boys loved their horses. I noticed that horses
that had been wounded while grazing in the valley also came to the
buildings, where they stood helpless and bleeding or dropped down and

We had been pouring a pile of bullets from our stronghold, and about
noon were running short of ammunition. Hanrahan and I decided that it
was time to replenish our supply, and that we would have to make a run
for Rath's store, where there were thousands of rounds which had been
brought from Dodge City for the buffalo-hunters.

We peered cautiously outside to see if any Indians were ambushed where
they could get a pot shot at us. The coast looked clear, so we crawled
out of a window and hit the ground running, running like jack-rabbits,
and made it to Rath's in the fastest kind of time. The Indians saw us,
however, before the boys could open the door, and opened at long
range. The door framed a good target. I have no idea how many guns
were cracking away at us, but I do know that bullets rattled round us
like hail. Providence seemed to be looking after the boys at Adobe
Walls that day, and we got inside without a scratch, though badly

We found everybody at Rath's in good shape. We remained here some
time. Naturally, Hanrahan wanted to return to his own building, and he
proposed that we try to make our way back. There were fewer men at
Rath's than at any other place, and their anxiety was increased by the
presence of a woman, Mrs. Olds. If the latter fact should be learned
by the Indians there was no telling what they might attempt, and a
determined attack by the Indians would have meant death for everybody
in the store, for none would have suffered themselves to be taken
alive nor permitted Mrs. Olds to be captured.

The boys begged me to stay with them. Hanrahan finally said that he
was going back to his own place, telling me that I could do as I
thought best. Putting most of his ammunition into a sack, we opened
the door quickly for him, and away he went, doing his level best all
the way to his saloon, which he reached without mishap.


In the restaurant part of Rath's store, a transom had been cut over
the west door; this transom was open, as no glass had even been put
in. This door had been strongly barricaded with sacks of flour and
grain, one of the best breastworks imaginable, the Indians having no
guns that could shoot through it.

Climbing to the top of this barricade, to take a good look over the
ground west of the building, I saw an object crawling along in the
edge of the tall grass. Levelling my gun, and taking aim with my body
resting on one knee, I fired. The recoil was so great that I lost my
balance and tumbled backward from the top of the barricade. As I went
down I struck and dislodged a washtub and a bushel or two of cooking
utensils which made a terrific crash as they struck the floor around
me. I fell heavily myself, and the tumbling down of my big "50" did
not lessen the uproar. The commotion startled everybody. The boys
rushed forward believing that I had been shot, even killed. I found it
quite difficult to convince them that I had not been shot, and that
most of the noise had been caused by the tub and the tin pans.

I was greatly interested in the object I had shot at, so I crawled up
on the sacks again. By looking closely, I was able to see the object
move. I now fired a second time, and was provoked at seeing the bullet
kick up the dirt just beyond the object. I tried the third time and
made a center shot.

By 2 o'clock the Indians had fallen back to the foot of the hills and
were firing only at intervals. They had divided their force, putting
part on the west side and part on the east side of the buildings.
Warriors were riding more or less constantly across the valley from
one side to the other, which exposed them to our fire. So we began
picking them off. They were soon riding in a much bigger circle, and
out of range.

This lull in the fighting was filled with a kind of disturbing
uncertainty. Since early morning, we had been able to hold the enemy
at bay. We were confident that we could continue to do so as long as
we had ammunition. We thanked our stars that we were behind thick
adobe walls, instead of thin pine boards. We could not have saved
ourselves had the buildings been frame, such as were commonly built in
frontier towns in those days. Still, there was no telling how
desperate the Indians might become, rather than abandon the fight; it
was easily possible for them to overwhelm us with the brute force of
superior numbers by pressing the attack until they had broken down the
doors, and which probably would have been attempted, however great the
individual sacrifice, had the enemy been white men. Luckily, it was
impossible to set the adobes on fire, or else we should have been
burned alive.

Though we did not relax in watchfulness when the Indians withdrew, yet
we were able to throw off some of the high tension that had kept our
nerves and muscles as taut as bowstrings since daybreak. A man's mouth
gets dry and his saliva thick and sticky when he fights hour after
hour, knowing that if he goes down his death will be one of torture,
unless he should be instantly killed. All forenoon the Indians had
been descending upon us like a storm, taunting us in every imaginable
way, even pounding upon the doors with their guns and lances, and
vying with each other in feats of martial horsemanship. They had
flaunted the bloody scalps of the poor Shadlers with devilish glee.
Time and again, however, we had ripped into them with our guns and
brought down horses and warriors until in many places the grass around
Adobe Walls was wet with blood.

About 4 o'clock in the afternoon a young fellow at Hanrahan's,
"Bermuda" Carlisle, ventured out to pick up an Indian trinket which he
could see from the window. As he was not shot at, he went out a second
time, whereupon others began going out, all eager to find relics. For
the first time, we now heard of the death of Billy Tyler at Leonard &
Myer's. Tyler had been killed at the beginning of the fight, as had
the Shadlers.

When I saw that it was possible to leave the buildings with reasonable
safety, I determined to satisfy my curiosity about three things.

An iron-gray horse had been standing for hours not far from the south
window of Hanrahan's saloon. I could not understand what had held him
so long, before he was finally shot by the Indians themselves. When I
reached the carcass, the mystery was clear--there lay a dead warrior
who had fallen in such a way as to make fast the rope that held the
horse. The horse wore a silver-mounted bridle. With a buffalo bone I
pried open the stiffened jaws and removed the bridle, also taking the
rawhide lariat.

On one of the reins, about ten inches from the bit, was fastened a
scalp, which evidently had been taken from the head of a white woman,
the hair being dark brown in color and about fifteen inches in length.
The scalp was lined with cloth and edged with beads. Several other
scalps were found that day. One was on a war shield.

My attention likewise had been attracted by an object at the rear of
the little sod house west of Rath's store. We had fired at it over and
over until we had cut a gap in the corner of the sod house. The object
finally had disappeared from sight. For a considerable time we had
seen feathers whipping round the corner in the wind, and had thought
that probably three or four Indians were concealed there. Every time I
had turned loose my big "50" I had torn out a chunk of sod.

When I reached the sod house, I was startled at what I saw. There sat
a painted and feathered warrior in a perfectly upright position with
his legs crossed and his head turned to one side in the most natural
way imaginable. His neck was broken and he was as dead as they ever
made 'em. I am bound to admit that I jumped back, fearful that he was
alive and would bore me through and through before I could pull down
on him.

What we had been shooting at so frequently was the dead warrior's
lance, which was covered with webbing and adorned with black feathers
at intervals of every five or six inches. The lance had been stuck
upright in the ground, and had been shot in two, which caused the
feathers to disappear--the upper part had doubled over across the dead
Indian's legs. I added the lance to my "prizes of war."

The object that I had seen crawling along the edge of the tall grass
was the third that demanded my attention. I found a dead Indian lying
flat on his stomach. He was naked, save for a white cloth wrapped
round his hips. His six-shooter was in his belt. The Indian had been
shot through the body, and one knee had been shattered. I could
plainly see the trail he had made by the blood on the grass. A short
distance away lay a shot pouch and a powder horn; there were about
fifteen army cartridges in the pouch. A few steps further, was his
50-caliber needle gun, an army Springfield. Next, were his bow and his
quiver. I confiscated the whole outfit.

One of the noisiest and most active spectators of the fight was a
young crow which some of the hunters had captured shortly after our
arrival at Adobe Walls. The crow had been petted by every man in camp.
All of us were acquainted with the old superstition that the crow is
an omen of death. During the worst of the fight this crow flew from
one building to another, in and out of the open windows, calling "Caw!
Caw! Caw!" in the most dismal way. It would alight on some object in
the room, and sit there calling and cawing until somebody, tiring of
the noise, would shout, "Get out of here, you black rascal!" and then
chase him from the building. The crow would fly to another building
and repeat his performance. Despite the bullets, this crow was never
injured and, save our horses, was the only thing left outside.

There were several dogs at the Walls, but all of them cut for tall
timber when the fighting began and did not show up for several days.
All our horses were killed or run off. The five horses that had been
left in the stockade were quickly shot down, the Indians poking their
guns between the cottonwood pickets. Four head tied to a wagon near
Rath's were cruelly killed. I saw the Indians when they first rode up
and tried to cut the rope with a butcher knife. One was a gray mare
that was notorious for her vicious kicking. She would not let the
Indians approach her, so all were shot. My own saddle horse, which I
had owned for years and highly prized, was among the first to be shot,
and still lay tied to the wagon when I found him.

The Indians were not without military strategy. They had planned to
put every man of us afoot, thereby leaving us without means of escape
and powerless to send for aid save as some messenger might steal away
in the darkness, to traverse on foot the weary distance and the
dangerous and inhospitable region that lay between us and Dodge City.
By holding us constantly at bay and keeping fresh detachments of
warriors rallying to the attack they probably thought it possible to
exhaust our strength, and then overwhelm us. It should be remembered
that Adobe Walls was scarcely more than a lone island in the vast
sea of the Plains, a solitary refuge uncharted and practically
unknown. For the time we were at the end of the world, our desperate
extremity pressing heavily upon us, and our friends and comrades to
the north ignorant of what was taking place.

At the first dash, the Indians had driven off all the horses they had
found grazing in the little valley, and which Billy Ogg had gone in
the dusk of dawn to round up preparatory to our departure for the
hunting grounds. We counted fifty-six dead horses scattered in the
immediate vicinity of the buildings, some with arrows sticking in
their bodies, and others bored with bullets. Of these ten head
belonged to the hunters. Added to this slaughter were the twenty-eight
head of oxen that belonged to the Shadler brothers. In nearly every
instance, a horse that had been wounded far from the buildings would
stagger in our direction, apparently to get as close as possible to
his friends. There they would stand in agony until the Indians shot
them down, which happened in every instance.

The last victim of their cruelty was a mustang colt owned by Mrs.
Olds. This colt had been captured by some of the hunters among a bunch
of wild mustangs, and given as a present to Mrs. Olds who had petted
the graceful, affectionate little creature until it followed her from
place to place like a dog. Some rather romantic stories have been
written about this mustang colt and the part it played in the fight at
Adobe Walls. The truth, however, unadorned, is the colt remained near
the buildings throughout the fight, and when I saw it a feathered
arrow was sticking in its back. I never knew whether the colt died of
this wound or was afterwards shot to put the poor little thing out of
its misery.

When we found that we could move around outside the buildings without
danger of immediate attack, we blanketed the bodies of Tyler and the
Shadlers and dug a single grave near the north side of the corral.
There they lie to this day, without a stone to mark the spot. Many a
spring and many a summer have come and gone, and many a winter has
sent its blinding snows across the Panhandle since that far-off day.
The Indians and the buffaloes have vanished from the scene, and the
plow is running over the land where they ranged. After all, the boys
are sleeping as quietly and as restfully as if they had been buried in
the village churchyard back at their old homes.

Despite the utmost efforts of our savage foes to carry away their dead
and wounded, thirteen dead Indians were left on the ground near the
buildings, so closely under the muzzles of our guns that it would have
been suicide for their comrades to have attempted their recovery. By
the time we had buried our three comrades, darkness had come, and we
abandoned further outside work and returned to the protection of the
buildings, completely exhausted by the strain and excitement of the
day's fighting.

What we had experienced ate into a man's nerves. I doubt if any of us
slept soundly that June night. Somewhere out there in the darkness our
enemies were watching to see that nobody escaped from the beleaguered
adobe buildings. Inasmuch as Indians rarely, if ever, attack at night,
preferring the shadows of early morning when sleep is soundest, and
when there is less chance of their being ambushed, we felt reasonably
certain of not being attacked before daybreak. As for myself I dreamed
all night, the bloody scenes of the day passing in endless procession
through my mind--I could see the Indians charging across the valley,
hear the roar of the guns and the blood-curdling war-whoops, until
everything was a bewildering swirl of fantastic colors and movements.

All my comrades at Adobe Walls that day showed much courage. It is
with pride that I can recall its many incidents without the feeling
that there was the slightest inclination on the part of any man to
show the "white feather." To be nervous or fearful of death is no sign
of weakness--sticking at one's post and doing the thing that is to be
done is what counts.

"Bat" Masterson should be remembered for the valor that marked his
conduct. He was a good shot, and not afraid. He has worked his way up
in the world, and has long been a successful writer for a New York
newspaper. He was sheriff of Ford county, Kansas, at Dodge City, in
1876-77. It has always seemed strange to me that finally he should
prefer life in a big city, after having lived in the west. I have been
told that he has said that he had no wish again to live over those old
days, that they no longer appealed to him, but I never believed it.
Such a thing is contrary to human nature.

All that long night after the first day's fighting not a sound was
heard nor did an Indian come near. Next morning the pet crow was the
only living object to be seen in the valley, where he was holding high
carnival on the dead horses, flying from one carcass to another.

By this time such an awful stench was rising from the dead Indians and
dead horses that we were forced to get rid of them. As we had no teams
with which to drag them away, we rigged up several buffalo hides and
tied ropes to them, then rolled the bodies onto the hides and pulled
them far enough away to prevent the evil smell from reaching the
buildings. In this way three or four men could move a horse.

At one place, between Rath's and Hanrahan's, twelve horses lay piled
together. We dug a pit close at hand and rolled them in. The other
horses and the Indians were dragged off on the prairie and left to the
coyotes and buzzards.

On the second day we saw only one bunch of Indians. They were on a
bluff across the valley east of us. Some of our men opened up on them
at long range; the Indians returned the fire and disappeared. It was
plain to them that there was still a lot of fight left in us.

Our situation looked rather gloomy. With every horse dead or captured,
we felt pretty sore all round. The Indians were somewhere close at
hand, watching our every movement. We were depressed with the
melancholy feeling that probably all the hunters out in the camps had
been killed. Late that afternoon our spirits leaped up when we saw a
team coming up the valley from the direction of the Canadian. This
outfit belonged to George Bellfield, a German who had been a soldier
in the Civil War.

A black flag was flying from one of the buildings, and when Bellfield
and his companions saw it they thought we were playing some kind of
joke on them. In broken English Bellfield remarked to his men, "Dem
fellers tink day's damn smart, alretty." But when he drew nearer and
began seeing the dead horses, he put the whip to his team and came in
at a dead run.

When asked if they had been attacked by Indians, Bellfield and his men
said that they had not seen a sign of one. That same day Jim and Bob
Cator came in from their camp north of Adobe Walls.

  [Illustration: _High Bluff East of Adobe Walls on Which Dixon
                  Killed Indian at 1200 Yards._]

It was of greatest importance that somebody should go to Dodge City
for help. Henry Lease, a buffalo hunter, volunteered to undertake this
dangerous journey, Bellfield furnishing a horse. Lease started after
dark on the second day. He carefully examined his pistols and his big
"50." filled his belts with plenty of ammunition, shook hands with us
and rode away in the night. I doubt if there was a man who believed
that Lease would get through alive. It was a certainty, however, that
there would be a pile of dead Indians where he fell, if he were given
a fighting chance for his life.

At the same time we sent out two men to visit the different camps, and
warn the hunters that the Indians were on the war path. They were to
bring back the news if the hunters were dead.

On the third day a party of about fifteen Indians appeared on the side
of the bluff, east of Adobe Walls Creek, and some of the boys
suggested that I try my big "50" on them. The distance was not far
from three-fourths of a mile. A number of exaggerated accounts have
been written about this incident. I took careful aim and pulled the
trigger. We saw an Indian fall from his horse. The others dashed out
of sight behind a clump of timber. A few moments later two Indians ran
quickly on foot to where the dead Indian lay, seized his body and
scurried to cover. They had risked their lives, as we had frequently
observed, to rescue a comrade who might be not only wounded but dead.
I was admittedly a good marksman, yet this was what might be called a
"scratch" shot.

More hunters came in on the third day, and as news of the Indian
outbreak spread from camp to camp the boys were soon coming in like
blackbirds from all directions--and they lost no time making the trip.
By the sixth day there were fully a hundred men at the Walls, which
may have given rise to the statement so frequently made in after years
that all these men were in the fight.

The lone woman who was at Adobe Walls, Mrs. Olds, was as brave as the
bravest. She knew only too well how horrible her fate would be if she
should fall into the hands of the Indians, and under such
circumstances it would have caused no surprise had she gone into the
wildest hysterics. But all that first day, when the hand of death
seemed to be reaching from every direction, this pioneer woman was
cool and composed and lent a helping hand in every emergency.

By the fifth day enough hunters had arrived to make us feel
comparatively safe, yet it was expedient that we should protect
ourselves as fully as possible, so the men began fortifying the
buildings. None of them had been finished, nor had any port-holes been
cut in the walls. Our shooting was done from the windows and transoms.
With port-holes we could have killed many more Indians. A little
inclosure with sod walls was now built on top of Rath's store, and
another on top of Myer's for lookouts. A ladder led from the inside to
these lookouts.

On the fifth day William Olds was stationed in the lookout on Rath's
store, to watch for Indians while the other men were at work. The
lookout on the other buildings shouted that Indians were coming, and
all of us ran for our guns and for shelter inside the buildings. Just
as I entered Rath's store I saw Olds coming down the ladder with his
gun in his hand. A moment later his gun went off accidentally, tearing
off the top of Old's head. At the same instant Mrs. Olds rushed from
an adjoining room--in time to see the body of her husband roll from
the ladder and crumple at her feet, a torrent of blood gushing from
the terrible wound. Olds died instantly. Gladly would I have faced all
the Indians from the Cimarron to Red River, rather than have witnessed
this terrible scene. It seemed to me that it would have been better
for any other man there to have been taken than the husband of the
only woman among us. Her grief was intense and pitiable. A rough lot
of men, such as we were, did not know how to comfort a woman in such
distress. We did the best we could, and if we did it awkwardly, it
should not be set down against us. Had we been called upon to fight
for her, we would not have asked about the odds, but would have sailed
in, tooth and toe-nail. When we tried to speak to her we just choked
up and stood still. We buried Olds that same evening, about sixty feet
from the spot where he was killed, just southeast of Rath's store.

The Indians that had caused the alarm numbered between twenty-five and
thirty, and were up the valley of Adobe Walls Creek headed east.
Finally, they disappeared, and we did not see them again. They may not
have belonged to the attacking party, and were merely passing through
the country.

I always regretted that I did not keep the relics I picked up at Adobe
Walls. Mrs. Olds asked me for the lance when I returned to the
building, and I gave it to her. The other relics I took to Dodge City,
and gave them away to first one person and then another.


The warriors that attacked Adobe Walls made an extensive raid. Writing
from Cheyenne Agency, at Darlington, in September, 1874, a Government
employee gave this information to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs:

"We are informed by Little Robe, White Shield, and other Cheyennes
that Lone Wolf, a Kiowa chief, was the first to commence the present
Indian trouble, by going with a band of his warriors on a raid into
Texas. Big Bow, a Comanche, soon followed. After these parties
returned the Kiowas, Comanches, and Cheyennes made the attack upon
Adobe Walls. After that fight the combined forces separated into a
number of war parties; some went into Texas, others into New Mexico
and Colorado, and still others along the Fort Sill and Wichita
Railroad and the Kansas border. We have had well-authenticated
accounts from Indians and from other sources that the number of
individuals killed in New Mexico amounted to 40; Colorado, 60; Lone
Wolf's first raid into Texas, 7; Big Bow's first raid into Texas, 4;
the Adobe Walls fight, 3; southwest from Camp Supply, buffalo-hunters,
3; between Camp Supply and Dodge, buffalo-hunters, 5; in the vicinity
of Medicine Lodge and Sun City, 12; on Crooked Creek, 2; on the trail
north from Cheyenne Agency, 5; on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe
Railroad, 4; Washita and Fort Sill agencies and vicinity, 14; Dr.
Holloway's son, Cheyenne Agency, 1; Mr. Dougherty, beef contractor for
these three agencies reports at least thirty persons recently killed
in Texas, 30; total, 190.

"White Shield this day informed me that the Kiowa chief, White Horse,
on his last raid into Texas killed eleven persons and captured three
children. The children, he states, are now in the Kiowa camps. White
Shield says he has heard of several other captives with the Comanches
and Kiowas, but these three mentioned are all he has seen."

It has been said that the Indians abandoned the fight because of the
wounding of Quanah Parker, the Comanche chief, and again because the
"medicine" man found that his "medicine" was bad. To be more exact,
the Indians probably came to the conclusion that if they remained long
enough, charged often enough and got close enough, all of them would
be killed, as they were unable to dislodge us from the buildings.

In the fall of 1877, many of the Comanches became dissatisfied with
their life on the military reservation at Fort Sill and fled to their
old home on the Staked Plains. Chas. Goodnight was running his cattle
in the lower end of Palo Duro, and the Comanches were soon killing
beef. When he heard of it, he mounted his horse and rode down to where
they were and made a private peace treaty with them, agreeing to give
them two beeves a day as long as they remained, if they would not raid
his herd. His proposal was accepted, and the compact was kept until
the soldiers arrived and compelled the Comanches to return to their

I met Quanah at that time, having gone out with the troops. As we were
riding along one day, he began talking about the fight at the Walls.
When I told him that I was one of the men that had fought against him,
he leaned over on his horse and shook my hand. We became good friends.

A number of different stories have been related about Quanah's mishaps
in the fight. A man who knew him well in later years said that Quanah
told him that early in the fight on the first day his horse was shot
and killed at a distance of between 400 and 500 yards from the
buildings. The horse fell suddenly, pitching Quanah headlong to the
ground his gun falling from his grasp and bounding away. When Quanah
saw that his horse was dead, he took shelter behind an old buffalo
carcass over which wood-rats had piled weeds and grass, making a heap
about waist high. Then something happened that Quanah was never able
to explain. He was struck a terrific blow between his shoulder blade
and his neck. He was badly stunned but managed to gain his feet and
ran and hid himself in a plum thicket. At first he thought somebody
had hit him with a heavy stone, but as only his own men could have
done this, he abandoned this notion and concluded that he had been hit
by a spent or deflected bullet. His right shoulder was useless most of
the day, and he could raise his gun with difficulty. He left the
battleground by riding behind another Indian.

Had it not been for the cracking of the cottonwood ridge pole in
Hanrahan's saloon, the Indians would have come upon us unawares and
all of us would have been killed, yet we never could find a single
thing wrong with the log. Every hunter that came in after the fight,
as well as every man at the Walls, examined that cottonwood ridge log
over and over to find the break, but it could not be found. The two
men who were sleeping in the building declared that the noise sounded
like the report of a rifle.

The fight at Adobe Walls broke up buffalo-hunting in that section just
as the Indians had planned. This was the last buffalo-hunting I ever
did as a business. Hanrahan owned a big outfit and lost everything.

We were now so strong in numbers and so many days had passed without
the coming of relief from Dodge that we organized a party of about
twenty-five men to go up there and find out why help was not coming.
Jim Hanrahan, the oldest man among us, was placed in command. It had
now been about a week since the fight.

A serious row was barely averted the night before we pulled out for
Dodge. Guns were scarce, and after the death of Olds "Bat" Masterson
had borrowed the Olds gun, a better gun than the one used by Masterson
who had lent his gun to another man. When it was learned that we were
going to Dodge, Mrs. Olds sent for her husband's gun. "Bat" sent back
word that he wanted to keep the gun until morning, promising that he
would promptly return it at that time. This was not agreeable to Mrs.
Olds, and she sent a man named Brown to Hanrahan's to get the gun
without further talk, as she feared that she might lose the gun.

Brown made a few mistakes in his language in discussing the matter
with Hanrahan, the latter having said several times that he would be
personally responsible for the gun and would guarantee that it was
returned to Mrs. Olds. Brown crowded matters until Hanrahan grabbed
him by the neck, shook him as a bulldog would a rabbit, and then threw
Brown out of the saloon, saying, "Get out of my building, you ----,
----"! Hanrahan drew his own gun and had Brown covered, ready to pull
the trigger, which I believe he would have done, if several of us had
not disarmed him, and then reasoned with him not to go any further,
because if shooting began there was no telling what might happen, as
both men had friends. Next morning "Bat" returned the gun to Mrs.

The row spread ill feeling among a number of the men, and though blood
that had been spilt in fighting for each other was scarcely dry on the
ground, yet some were now ready to begin fighting each other. This was
the way of the west in those times--every tub had to stand on its own
bottom every minute of the day. It was the code that every able-bodied
man had to live by. If, however, a man should fall sick or be in bad
luck or crippled, the boys stuck to him until he was able to take care
of himself. The quarrel caused a little embarrassment to me, for as we
rode away next morning and were passing Leonard & Myers store, the men
there yelled out, "Goodbye, we don't care for any of you leaving,
except Billy Dixon."

We went up Short Creek until we got out on the Plains, where we left
the main-traveled freight road and bore more to the west, as we felt
that the Indians might be watching this main road. We made it to the
head of the Palo Duro the first day and went into camp. By making a
long ride our next camp was San Francisco Creek. Here we found where
buffalo-hunters had built a camp, and the body of Charley Sharp, who
had been killed by the Indians. He had been dead about a week, and the
body was shockingly mutilated. Sharp was a partner of Henry Lease, and
had remained in camp while Lease went to Adobe Walls for supplies.
Sharp bore the nickname "Dublin." Sharp's Creek in Beaver County,
Oklahoma, bears his name. We buried the body where we found it.

Bearing to the northeast, we came into the Dodge City and Adobe Walls
road at the Cimarron River. Another day's ride brought us to Crooked
Creek. We were now out of dangerous country, and reached Dodge City
safe and sound.

Ours was the first crowd to reach Dodge City after the fight at Adobe
Walls, and the whole town turned out to see us. Everybody was anxious
to learn the particulars, and we were asked thousands of questions.
News of what had happened at the Walls had driven most of the
buffalo-hunters to Dodge City, their camps stretching up and down the
Arkansas near town.

We learned that a relief party, composed of buffalo-hunters and
residents of Dodge, had started south in command of Tom Nixon. There
were about forty men in the party. Nixon was killed a year or two
later by "Mysterious Dave" Mathews. He was a well-known frontiersman.

We did not take life nor ourselves very seriously those days, and were
soon entering into the fun at Dodge with the greatest enthusiasm,
forgetful of the perils and hardships that so lately beset us. Things
at Dodge were run for the fullest enjoyment of the present--there was
not much material to occupy students of ancient history. The town had
changed little since we had gone away. Several of the men who had come
north from the Walls went straight to the depot and bought tickets for
their homes in the east. They had enough of the Indians to last them
several years, and were not ashamed to stand up and say so. Most of us
were "locoed" with the sports and pastimes of the land where the wool
was long and the customs wild. Drouth, scarcity of water-holes,
"northers," rattlesnakes, Indians, even the United States Army, could
not have driven us east of the ninety-ninth meridian of longitude.

The details of the fight at Adobe Walls were telegraphed to Fort
Leavenworth. Troops were not despatched at once to the scene of the
uprising, the Government taking the view that it would be best not to
move until an expedition large enough to whip the Indians to a
standstill could be sent into the field, General Miles reached Dodge
City about August, going south about ten days later.

My old friend Jack Callahan, of whom I have frequently spoken, had
just been employed as wagonmaster to go with the expedition. Meeting
me in the street, he offered to make me his assistant. I had made up
my mind to accept the position, but further down the street I came
across John Curley, whom I had known at Hays City in 1868, when he was
corral-master. Curley said that he believed he could get me placed as
scout and guide with General Miles, which exactly suited me. We went
at once to General Miles headquarters, where Curley introduced and
recommended me. After asking me a few questions, General Miles turned
to his adjutant and told him to put my name down. I held this position
from August 6, 1874, to February 10, 1883, a period of nine years.

The troops moved out of Dodge City to the Arkansas and camped. General
Miles assembled his scouts and tested their marksmanship by having
them shoot at a snag in the river, calling our names as he pointed out
the objects each was to shoot at. I never missed a single time.

Lieutenant Frank D. Baldwin, now a brigadier-general, was sent to
Adobe Walls with two scouts, six Delaware trailers and a troop of
cavalry to ascertain the situation of those who had remained at the
Walls. We got there in five days. Baldwin had not recently seen much
mounted service, and was very tired and saddle-worn by the time we
reached Adobe Walls Creek.

About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the day in to the Walls, seeing
that night would come before we arrived, Baldwin ordered "Bat"
Masterson and myself to ride ahead and tell the boys that the troops
were coming. This precaution was taken lest the buffalo-hunters might
mistake us for Indians and fire into us. I rode up within speaking
distance and hollowed to the men and waved my hat, to let them know
who I was. Recognizing me, they gave me a hearty reception.

There were a dozen or more men in the buildings, where they had been
shut up for about two months. At no time had they ventured far away.
They had kept their horses in the stockade, fearful of an attack by
Indians; hay for the horses had been cut in the creek bottom. When Tom
Nixon and his men came down from Dodge, Mrs. Olds and the greater part
of the men went back with him. A number, however, preferred to remain
at the Walls, however great the risk, and did so. The boys cooked me a
hot supper and I was telling them stories of the outside world when
the soldiers arrived about 9 o'clock.

The water in Adobe Walls Creek was now so low that there was not
enough for the horses, so we pulled over on Bent's Creek, and camped
on a mesquite flat, just north of the old Adobe Walls ruins.

Next morning Lieutenant Baldwin asked me to walk over the battleground
with him. Practically all the men went with us, the distance being
about a mile. The coming of the soldiers had given a feeling of
security to the men at the Walls, who now turned out their horses to
graze. Everybody was laughing and talking and telling jokes, without
the slightest thought of danger. Some mischievous fellow had stuck an
Indian's skull on each post of the corral gate.

Tobe Robinson and George Huffman, civilians, rode down the valley
toward the Canadian River to hunt wild plums which at that time were
ripe and plentiful. They had been gone only a short time when our
attention was drawn to two horsemen riding at top speed from the
direction of the river toward the Walls. Behind them came ten or
fifteen Indians quirting their ponies at every jump. The two men were
Robinson and Huffman. They had unexpectedly run into this band of
Indians who were doing their best to circle and cut off the two white
men. There we stood a mile from camp where our arms lay, unable to
render these men any assistance in their desperate straits.

Robinson and Huffman were riding side by side and were able to
maintain this position until they were rounding a little knoll just
beyond the old ruins. Here an Indian managed to ride up near enough to
run his lance through Huffman's body. Huffman fell dead from his

The riderless horse continued running beside Robinson's, the Indian
still pursuing, grabbing again and again at the rein of Huffman's
horse. Finally, he seized the rein, checked the horse, and rode back
at full speed toward his companions. All the Indians now galloped away
and disappeared among the sand hills.

The tragedy had happened so quickly that we could hardly believe our
eyes. The Indians made no effort to mutilate or carry off Huffman's
body. Robinson reached us in safety, though shaking with excitement.
From the Indian standpoint, the warrior who had killed Huffman and
escaped with his horse had covered himself with glory. Sight of the
tents in the mesquite flat doubtless caused the other Indians to give
up the chase, or else both Huffman and Robinson would have been lanced
to death.

Considerable time was lost in rounding up our horses, which were
grazing in the valley, and getting into our saddles, to go in pursuit
of the Indians. Before we could reach the Canadian the Indians had
vanished in the sandhills of White Deer Creek. We found two fagged
ponies which the Indians had abandoned.

We carried Huffman's body to the Walls and dug a grave close beside
the others. This made five graves. Some day I hope a stone will be
erected to mark the spot. These men gave all they had--their lives--to
help make this a civilized country.

Next day the soldiers and the men we found at the Walls started south
to join the main command on Cantonment Creek. We crossed the Canadian
near the mouth of Tallahone, where J. A. King now has a cow ranch. On
Chicken Creek we found two Indians who had stopped for noon, and had
built a small fire. Their ponies were near at hand, tied to some
sagebrush, and their blankets had been spread out on the ground to
dry. We succeeded in killing one of them, but the other warrior
certainly had a fine quality of stuff in his "medicine" bag, for he
mounted his pony and got away, despite the bullets that split the air
around him. He was too hard-pressed to get his blanket and a butcher
knife which he left sticking in the ground.

The noise of our guns stampeded a big bunch of buffaloes further up
the creek. They kicked up such a cloud of dust that we thought a war
party of Indians, possibly the same that had attacked Adobe Walls, was
coming for us, and that we had stirred up the worst kind of trouble.
Happily, we were soon able to see the buffaloes, and the world looked

"Old nigger" Clark, our cook, driving a six-mule team, with bedding,
provisions and cooking outfit, was a long way behind when the shooting
began. He raised a welt every time he hit a mule, and by the time he
drew near us he was making the fastest kind of time, his eyes sticking
out like white china saucers. When almost upon us, his mules took
fright and ran away, and could not be stopped until men rode to his

Ours was the last party of white men ever to leave Adobe Walls. When I
passed that way the following fall with United States troops the
Indians had been there and burned the place to the ground. The walls
were still smoking.

General Miles was with us on this trip. We camped in sight of the
battleground. He asked hundreds of questions about the fight appearing
curious about every detail. The soldiers picked up everything they
could find in their hunt for souvenirs, even bones, which I am sure
were mostly horse bones. The Indians had gathered up all the bones of
their dead and wrapped them in new blankets, depositing them at the
foot of the hills on the east side of the valley of Adobe Walls Creek.
The soldiers threw away the bones and carried off the blankets. This
was in October. The Indians had not taken any of the provisions which
had been left in the buildings. They were a suspicious people, and
were fearful that the provisions might be poisoned.

While we were at Adobe Walls on this last trip, a dog that I had owned
at the time of the fight came into camp. Her appearance affected me
greatly, as I was fond of her and loved all dumb animals. She was a
highly intelligent setter bitch, named Fannie. She had disappeared
with the other dogs the day of the fight, and I was sure that she had
been killed by the Indians or had wandered away and starved. Seven
months had passed since I had seen her.

After we had petted her and fed her, Fannie disappeared. But her
absence was brief. She came back with something in her mouth and stood
wagging her tail, to attract attention. When we saw what she had
brought to us every man grinned and was as tickled as if he were a
boy. Fannie had brought a fat, bright-eyed little puppy in her mouth.
Dropping the little fellow gently on a pile of bedding, she frisked
about with delight as each of us tried to get hold of the pup and
fondle it. Fannie bounded away while we were "fussing" among ourselves
to see who should play with pup. She came with another pup in her
mouth, laying it beside the other one. She made two more trips, until
finally her family of four little ones were playing with each other on
our bedding. The father of these pups was the big Newfoundland that
belonged to the Shadler brothers, which the Indians killed while he
was trying to defend his masters at the very beginning of the Adobe
Walls fight. When we pulled out, Fannie and her babies were given a
snug place in the mess wagon.


The most perilous adventure of my life occurred September 12, 1874, in
what was known as the Buffalo Wallow Fight. My escape from death was
miraculous. The year 1874, as the reader doubtless may have observed,
brought me full measure of things I had dreamed of doing when a boy. I
came in contact with hostile Indians as frequently as the most devoted
warrior might wish, and found that it was serious business.

On September 10, 1874, General Nelson A. Miles, in command of the
troops campaigning against the Indians in the Southwest, was on
McClellan Creek, in the Panhandle, when he ordered Amos Chapman and
myself, scouts, and four enlisted men to carry dispatches to Fort
Supply. The enlisted men were Sergeant Z. T. Woodhull, Troop I;
Private Peter Rath, Troop A; Private John Harrington, Troop H; and
Private George W. Smith, Troop M, Sixth Cavalry. When General Miles
handed us the dispatches, he told us that we could have all the
soldiers we thought necessary. His command was short of rations. We
preferred the smallest possible number.

Leaving camp, we traveled mostly at night, resting in secluded places
during the day. War parties were moving in every direction, and there
was danger of attack at every turn. On the second day, just as the sun
was rising, we were nearing a divide between the Washita River and
Gageby Creek. Riding to the top of a little knoll, we found ourselves
almost face to face with a large band of Kiowa and Comanche warriors.
The Indians saw us at the same instant and, circling quickly,
surrounded us. We were in a trap. We knew that the best thing to do
was to make a stand and fight for our lives, as there would be great
danger of our becoming separated in the excitement of a running fight,
after which the Indians could the more easily kill us one by one. We
also realized that we could do better work on foot, so we dismounted
and placed our horses in the care of George Smith. In a moment or two
poor Smith was shot down, and the horses stampeded.

When Smith was shot, he fell flat on his stomach, and his gun fell
from his hand, far beyond his reach. But no Indian was ever able to
capture that gun; if one ventured near Smith, we never failed to bring
him down. We thought Smith was dead when he fell, but he survived
until about 11 o'clock that night.

  [Illustration: _Ermoke and His Band of Murderous Kiowa Raiders._]

I realized at once that I was in closer quarters than I had ever been
in my life, and I have always felt that I did some good work that day.
I was fortunate enough not to become disabled at any stage of the
fight, which left me free to do my best under the circumstances. I
received one wound--a bullet in the calf of my leg. I was wearing a
thin cashmere shirt, slightly bloused. This shirt was literally
riddled with bullets. How a man could be shot at so many times at
close range and not be hit I could never understand. The Indians
seemed to feel absolutely sure of getting us, so sure, in fact, that
they delayed riding us down and killing us at once, which they could
easily have done, and prolonged the early stages of the fight merely
to satisfy their desire to toy with an enemy at bay, as a cat would
play with a mouse before taking its life.

We saw that there was no show for us to survive on this little
hillside, and decided that our best fighting ground was a small
mesquite flat several hundred yards distant. Before we undertook to
shift our position a bullet struck Amos Chapman. I was looking at him
when he was shot. Amos said, "Billy, I am hit at last," and eased
himself down. The fight was so hot that I did not have time to ask him
how badly he was hurt. Every man, save Rath and myself, had been
wounded. Our situation was growing more desperate every minute. I knew
that something had to be done, and quickly, or else all of us in a
short while would be dead or in the hands of the Indians, who would
torture us in the most inhuman manner before taking our lives.

I could see where the buffaloes had pawed and wallowed a depression,
commonly called a buffalo "wallow," and I ran for it at top speed. It
seemed as if a bullet whizzed past me at every jump, but I got through
unharmed. The wallow was about ten feet in diameter. I found that its
depth, though slight, afforded some protection. I shouted to my
comrades to try to come to me, which all of them save Smith and
Chapman, commenced trying to do. As each man reached the wallow, he
drew his butcher knife and began digging desperately with knife and
hands to throw up the dirt round the sides. The land happened to be
sandy, and we made good headway, though constantly interrupted by the
necessity of firing at the Indians as they dashed within range.

It was probably about noon before we reached the wallow. Many times
that terrible day did I think that my last moment was at hand. Once,
when the Indians were crowding us awfully hard, one of the boys raised
up and yelled, "No use, boys, no use; we might as well give it up." We
answered by shouting to him to lie down. At that moment a bullet
struck in the soft bank near him and completely filled his mouth with
dirt. I was so amused that I laughed, though in a rather sickly way,
for none of us felt much like laughing.

By this time, however, I had recovered from the first excitement of
battle, and was perfectly cool, as were the rest of the men. We were
keenly aware that the only thing to do was to sell our lives as dearly
as possible. We fired deliberately, taking good aim, and were picking
off an Indian at almost every round. The wounded men conducted
themselves admirably, and greatly assisted in concealing our crippled
condition by sitting upright, as if unhurt, after they reached the
wallow. This made it impossible for the Indians accurately to guess
what plight we were in. Had they known so many of us were wounded
undoubtedly they would have rode in and finished us.

After all had reached the wallow, with the exception of Chapman and
Smith, all of us thinking that Smith was dead, somebody called to
Chapman to come on in. We now learned for the first time that
Chapman's leg was broken. He called back that he could not walk, as
his left knee was shattered.

I made several efforts to reach him before I succeeded. Every time the
Indians saw me start, they would fire such a volley that I was forced
to retreat, until finally I made a run and got to Chapman. I told him
to climb on my back, my plan being to carry him as I would a little
child. Drawing both his legs in front of me, and laying the broken one
over the sound one, to support it, I carried him to the wallow, though
not without difficulty, as he was a larger man than myself, and his
body a dead weight. It taxed my strength to carry him.

We were now all in the wallow, except Smith, and we felt that it would
be foolish and useless to risk our lives in attempting to bring in his
dead body. We had not seen him move since the moment he went down. We
began digging like gophers with our hands and knives to make our
little wall of earth higher, and shortly had heaped up quite a little
wall of dirt around us. Its protection was quickly felt, even though
our danger was hardly lessened.

When I look back and recall our situation, I always find myself
thinking of how my wounded companions never complained nor faltered,
but fought as bravely as if a bullet had not touched them. Sometimes
the Indians would ride toward us at headlong speed with lances
uplifted and poised, undoubtedly bent upon spearing us. Such moments
made a man brace himself and grip his gun. Fortunately, we were able
to keep our heads and to bring down or disable the leader. Such
charges proved highly dangerous to the Indians, and gradually grew
less frequent.

Thus, all that long, hot September day the Indians circled round us or
dashed past, yelling and cutting all kinds of capers. All morning we
had been without water, and the wounded were sorely in need of it. In
the stress and excitement of such an encounter, even a man who has not
been hurt grows painfully thirsty, and his tongue and lips are soon as
dry as a whetstone. Ours was the courage of despair. We knew what
would befall us if we should be captured alive--we had seen too many
naked and mangled bodies of white men who had been spread-eagled and
tortured with steel and fire to forget what our own fate would be. So
we were determined to fight to the end, not unmindful of the fact that
every once in a while there was another dead or wounded Indian.

About 3 o'clock a black cloud came up in the west, and in a short time
the sky shook and blazed with thunder and lightning. Rain fell in
blinding sheets, drenching us to the skin. Water gathered quickly in
the buffalo wallow, and our wounded men eagerly bent forward and drank
from the muddy pool. It was more than muddy--that water was red with
their own blood that had flowed from their wounds and lay clotting and
dry in the hot September sun.

The storm and the rain proved our salvation. The wind had shifted to
the north and was now drearily chilling us to the bone. An Indian
dislikes rain, especially a cold rain, and these Kiowas and Comanches
were no exception to the rule. We could see them in groups out of
rifle range sitting on their horses with their blankets drawn tightly
around them. The Plains country beats the world for quick changes in
weather, and in less than an hour after the rain had fallen, the wind
was bitterly cold. Not a man in our crowd had a coat, and our thin
shirts were scant protection. Our coats were tied behind our saddles
when our horses stampeded, and were lost beyond recovery. I was
heart-sick over the loss of my coat, for in the inside pocket was my
dearest treasure, my mother's picture, which my father had given me
shortly before his death. I was never able to recover it.

The water was gathering rapidly in the wallow and soon had reached a
depth of two inches. Not a man murmured. Not one thought of surrender.
The wounded were shivering as if they had ague.

We now found that our ammunition was running low. This fact rather
appalled us, as bullets, and plenty of them, were our only protection.
At the fight at the Walls, not only was there plenty of ammunition,
but the buildings themselves gave confidence. Necessity compelled us
to save every cartridge as long as possible, and not to fire at an
Indian unless we could see that he meant business and was coming right
into us.

Late in the afternoon somebody suggested that we go out and get
Smith's belt and six-shooter, as he had been shot early in the fight
and his belt undoubtedly was loaded with cartridges.

Rath offered to go, and soon returned and said that Smith was still
alive, which astonished us greatly, as well as causing us to regret
that we had not known it earlier in the day. Rath and I at once got
ready to bring Smith to the buffalo wallow. By supporting the poor
wounded fellow between us, he managed to walk. We could see that there
was no chance for him. He was shot through the left lung and when he
breathed the wind sobbed out of his back under the shoulder blade.
Near the wallow an Indian had dropped a stout willow switch with which
he had been whipping his pony. With this switch a silk handkerchief
was stuffed into the gaping bullet hole in Smith's back.

Night was approaching, and it looked blacker to me than any night I
had ever seen. Ours was a forlorn and disheartening situation. The
Indians were still all around us. The nearest relief was seventy-five
miles away. Of the six men in the wallow, four were badly wounded, and
without anything to relieve their suffering. We were cold and hungry,
with nothing to eat, and without a blanket, coat or hat to protect us
from the rain and the biting wind. It was impossible to rest or sleep
in the two inches of water in wallow.

I remember that I threw my hat, a wide-brimmed sombrero, as far from
me as I could when our horses stampeded--the hat was in my way and too
good a target for the Indians to shoot at.

We were unable to get grass for bedding, as the whole country had been
burnt off by the Indians. It was absolutely necessary, however, that
the men should have some kind of bed to keep them off the cold, damp
ground. Rath and I solved the problem by gathering tumble-weeds which
in that country the wind would drive for miles and miles, until the
weeds lodged and became fast. Many of them were bigger than a bushel
basket, and their twigs so tough that the weeds had the "spring" of a
wire mattress. We crushed the weeds, and lay down on them for the
night, though not a man dared close his eyes in sleep.

By the time heavy darkness had fallen every Indian had disappeared.
Happily, they did not return to molest us during the night. There was
a new moon, but so small and slender that in the clouded sky there was
little light. While there was still light, I took the willow switch
and sat down on the edge of the bank and carefully cleaned every gun.

While I was cleaning the guns, we held a consultation to decide what
would be best for us to do. We agreed that somebody should go for
help. No journey could have been beset with greater danger. Rath and I
both offered to go. The task was squarely up to us, as all the other
men were injured. I insisted that I should go, as I knew the country,
and felt confident that I could find the trail that led to Camp
Supply. I was sure that we were not far from this trail.

My insistence at once caused protest from the wounded. They were
willing that Rath should go, but would not listen to my leaving them.
Once I put my hand on my gun with the intention of going anyway, then
yielded to their wishes against my better judgment, and decided to
remain through the night. The wounded men relied greatly upon my skill
as a marksman.

Bidding us goodbye, Rath disappeared in the darkness. After he had
been gone about two hours he came back, saying that he could not find
the trail.

By this time Smith had grown much worse and was begging us in piteous
tones to shoot him and put an end to his terrible sufferings. We found
it necessary to watch him closely to prevent his committing suicide.

There was not a man among us who had not thought of that same
melancholy fate. When the fight was at its worst, with the Indians
closing in on all sides, and when it seemed that every minute would be
our last, I was strongly tempted to take my butcher knife, which I
kept at razor edge, and cut off my hair. In those days my hair was
black and heavy and brushed my shoulders. As a matter of fact, I was
rather proud of my hair. Its luxuriance would have tempted any Indian
to scalp me at the first opportunity. I had a further and final
plan--to save my last bullet for self destruction.

Poor Smith endured his agony like a brave soldier. Our hearts ached
but we could do nothing to relieve his pain. About 10 o'clock that
night he fell asleep and we were glad of it, for in sleep he could
forget his sufferings. Later in the night one of the boys felt of him,
to see how he was getting along. He was cold in death. Men commonly
think of death as something to be shunned. There are times, however,
when its hand falls as tenderly as the touch of a mother's hand, and
when its coming is welcomed by those to whom hopeless suffering has
brought the last bitter dregs of life. We lifted the body of our dead
comrade and gently laid it outside the buffalo wallow on the mesquite
grass, covering the white face with a silk handkerchief.

Then the rest of us huddled together on the damp ground, and thought
of the morrow. That night is indelibly stamped in my memory; many a
time have its perils filled my dreams, until I awoke startled and
thrilled by a feeling of imminent danger. Every night the same stars
are shining way out there in the Panhandle, the winds sigh as
mournfully as they did then, and I often wonder if a single settler
who passes the lonely spot knows how desperately six men once battled
for their lives where now may be plowed fields, and safety and the
comforts of civilization.

Like everything else, the long night finally came to an end, and the
sun rose clear and warm next morning. By this time all the men were
willing that I should go for help, and I at once started. Daylight
exposed me to many dangers from which the night shielded me. By moving
cautiously at night, it was possible to avoid the enemy, but if
surprised, to stand a good chance of escape. In the daytime, however,
the enemy could lie in hiding and scan the country in every direction.
On the Plains, especially in the fall when the grass is brown, the
smallest moving object may be perceived by the trained eye at an
astonishingly long distance. I knew that I must proceed with utmost
caution, lest I fall into an ambush or be attacked in the open by
superior numbers.

I had traveled scarcely more than half a mile when I struck the plain
trail leading to Camp Supply. Hurrying along as rapidly as possible
and keeping a constant lookout for Indians, I checked myself at the
sudden sight of an outfit that seemed to cover about an acre of
ground, two miles or so to the northwest. The outfit at first did not
appear to be moving and I could not tell whether it was made up of
white men or Indians. I skulked to a growth of tall grass and hid for
a while. My nerves were too keen to endure hiding and waiting, so I
stole back and took another look. The outfit was moving toward me.
Shortly I was able to see that they were troops--Indians always
traveled strung out in a line, while these were traveling abreast.

I never felt happier in my life. I whanged loose with my old "50" to
attract the attention of the soldiers, and saw the whole command come
to a halt. I fired my gun a second time, which brought two soldiers to
me. I told them of our condition, and they rode rapidly back to the
command and reported. The commanding officer was Major Price, with a
troop, accompanying General Miles' supply train which was on its way
with supplies from Fort Supply to field headquarters.

The same Indians that we had been fighting had been holding this
supply train corralled for four days near the Washita River. Major
Price, luckily for the outfit, happened along and raised the siege.
The Indians had just given up the attack when we ran into them.

Major Price rode over to where I was waiting, bringing his army
surgeon with him. I described the condition of my comrades, after
which Major Price sent the surgeon and two soldiers to see what could
be done for the wounded. I pointed out the place, which was about a
mile distant, and asked the surgeon if he thought he could find it
without my going along, as Major Price wanted me to tell him about the
fight. The surgeon said that he could and rode away.

I was describing in detail all that had happened when I looked up and
saw that the relief party was bearing too far south. I fired my gun to
attract their attention, and then waved it in the direction which they
were to go. By this time they were within gunshot of my comrades in
the buffalo wallow. To my utter astonishment, I heard the roar of a
gun and saw a puff of smoke rise from the wallow--one of the men had
fired at the approaching strangers, killing a horse ridden by one of
the soldiers.

I ran forward as rapidly as possible, not knowing what the men would
do next. They were soon able to recognize me, and lowered their guns.
When we got to them the men said that they had heard shooting--the
shots I had fired to attract the attention of the troops--and supposed
that the Indians had killed me and were coming for them. They were
determined to take no chances, and shot at the surgeon and the two
soldiers the moment they got within range.

Despite the sad plight of the wounded men, about all the surgeon did
was to examine their injuries. The soldiers turned over a few pieces
of hardtack and some dried beef, which happened to be tied behind
their saddles. Major Price refused to leave any men with us. For this
he was afterwards severely censured, and justly. He would not even
provide us with firearms. Our own ammunition was exhausted and the
soldiers carried guns of different make and caliber from ours.
However, they said they would let General Miles know of our condition.
We were sure that help would come the moment General Miles heard the
news. At the time we were glad just to have seen these men and did not
think much about how they treated us.

We watched and waited until midnight of the second day after the
troops had passed before help came. A long way off in the dark we
heard the faint sound of a bugle. It made us swallow a big lump in our
throats and bite our lips. Nearer and clearer came the bugle notes.
Our nerves were getting "jumpy," so strong was our emotion. We fired
our guns, to let them know where we were, and soon the soldiers came
riding out of the darkness.

As soon as the wounded could be turned over to the surgeon, we placed
the body of our dead comrade in the wallow where we had all fought and
suffered together, and covered it with the dirt which we had ridged up
with our hands and butcher knives for breastworks. Then we went down
on the creek where the soldiers had built a big fire and cooked a meal
for us.

Next day the wounded were sent to Camp Supply where they were given
humane and careful treatment. Amos Chapman's leg was amputated above
the knee. Amos was as tough as second growth hickory and was soon out
of the hospital and in the saddle. All the men recovered and went
right on with the army. Chapman could handle a gun and ride as well as
ever, the only difference being that he had to mount his horse from
the right side, Indian fashion.

I should like once more to meet the men with whom I fought in the
Buffalo Wallow Fight, but I seldom hear from them. When I last heard
of Amos Chapman he was living at Seiling, Oklahoma. My last letter
from Sergeant Woodhull was dated Fort Wingate, New Mexico, 1883. This
was shortly after Colonel Dodge had published his book, "Our Wild
Indians," in which he attempted to give a circumstantial account of
the Buffalo Wallow Fight. Sergeant Woodhull was displeased with the
statement of facts, and resented the inaccuracies.

  [Illustration: _Drew Dixon, Son of "Billy" Dixon._ Like His Father,
                  a Sure Shot.]

I guess I am partly to blame in the matter. When Colonel Dodge was
writing his book, he wrote and asked me to send him an account of the
fight. I neglected to do so, and he obtained his information from
other sources. If my present narrative differs from that of Colonel
Dodge, all I can say is that I have described the fight as I saw it.
In saying this I do not wish to place myself in the attitude of
censuring Colonel Dodge. However, it should be reasonably apparent
that a man with a broken leg cannot carry another man on his back. In
correcting this bit of border history I repeat that every one of my
comrades in that fight conducted himself in the most heroic manner,
bravely doing his part in every emergency. Below will be found the
text of the report which General Miles sent to Washington:

    Headquarters Indian Territory Expedition,
    Camp on Washita River, Texas,
    September 24, 1874.

    Adjutant General, U.S.A.,
    Thro Offices Asst. Adjt. Gen., Headquarters
    Department and Military Division of the Missouri and of the Army.


    I deem it but a duty to brave men and faithful soldiers to bring
    to the notice of the highest military authority, an instance of
    indomitable courage, skill and true heroism on the part of a
    detachment from this command, with the request that the actors may
    be rewarded, and their faithfulness and bravery recognized, by
    pensions, medals of honor, or in such way as may be deemed most
    fitting. On the night of the 10th inst. a party consisting of
    Sergt. Z. T. Woodhull, Co. I; Privates Peter Rath, Co. A; John
    Harrington, Co. H. and George W. Smith, Co. M, Sixth Cavalry;
    Scouts Amos Chapman and William Dixon, were sent as bearers of
    despatches from the camp of this command on McClellan Creek to
    Camp Supply, I.T.

    At 6 a.m., of the 12th, when approaching the Washita River, they
    were met and surrounded by a band of Kiowa and Comanches, who had
    scarcely left their Agency; at the first attack all were struck,
    Private Smith mortally, and three others severely wounded.
    Although enclosed on all sides and by overwhelming numbers, one of
    them succeeded, while they were under a heavy fire at short range,
    and while the others, with their rifles, were keeping the Indians
    at bay in digging with his knife and hands a slight cover. After
    this had been secured, they placed themselves within it, the
    wounded walking with brave and painful efforts, and Private Smith,
    though he had received a mortal wound, sitting upright within the
    trench, to conceal the crippled condition of their party from the

    From early morning till dark, outnumbered 25 to 1, under an almost
    constant fire and at such short range that they sometimes used
    their pistols, retaining the last charge to prevent capture and
    torture, this little party of five defended their lives and the
    person of their dying comrade, without food, and their only drink
    the rain water that collected in a pool mingled with their own

    There is no doubt but that they killed more than double their
    number, besides those that were wounded. The Indians abandoned the
    attack on the 12th at dark.

    The exposure and distance from the command which were necessary
    incidents of their duty, were such, that for thirty-six hours from
    the first attack, their condition could not be known, and not till
    midnight of the 13th could they receive medical attendance and
    food, exposed during this time to an incessant cold storm.

    Sergt. Woodhull, Private Harrington and Scout Chapman were
    seriously wounded. Private Smith died of his wounds on the morning
    of the 13th. Private Rath and Scout Dixon were struck but not

    The simple recital of their deeds, and the mention of the odds
    against which they fought, how the wounded defended the dying, and
    the dying aided the wounded by exposure to fresh wounds after the
    power of action was gone, these alone present a scene of cool
    courage, heroism and self-sacrifice which duty, as well as
    inclination prompts us to recognize, but which we cannot fully

    Very Respectfully,

    Your obedient servant,

    (Signed) NELSON A. MILES,
    Col. and Bvt. Maj. Gen'l. U.S.A., Commanding.

    Headquarters Indian Territory Expedition,
    Camp on Oasis Creek, I.T.,
    Oct. 1, 1874.

    Official copy respectfully furnished William Dixon.
    By command of Bvt. Maj. Gen'l. Miles.

    G. W. BAIRD,
    Asst. Adjt. 5th Inf., A.A.A. Gen'l.

General Miles had both the heart and the accomplishments of a soldier,
and Congress voted to each of us the Medal of Honor. He was delighted
when the Medals came from Washington. With his own hands he pinned
mine on my coat when we were in camp on Carson Creek, five or six
miles west of the ruins of the original Adobe Walls. The text of the
official correspondence concerning the award of the Medals of Honor is

    Headquarters Indian Territory Expedition,
    Camp near Fort Sill, I.T.,
    January 24th, 1875.

    General Order No. 28:

    The Commanding Officer takes pleasure in announcing to the troops
    of this Expedition that his recommendation that the distinguished
    heroism displayed on the 12th of September, 1874, by Sergeant Z.
    T. Woodhull of Co. I, Private John Harrington, Co. H, and Peter
    Rath Co. A, 6th Cavalry, and Scouts Amos Chapman and William Dixon
    be recognized, has been approved by the highest military
    authority, and that the Congress has bestowed upon each of these
    men a Medal of Honor. It is now his pleasing duty to bestow upon
    men who can worthily wear them, these tokens of the recognition
    and approval of their Government.

    By Command of Bvt. Maj. Gen'l. N. A. Miles.

    (Signed) G. W. BAIRD,
    1st Lieut. and Adjutant 5th Infty.,
    A.A.A. General.

    Headquarters Ind. Ter. Expedition.
    Camp on Canadian, Texas.
    December 24, 1874.

    Mr. William Dixon,


    I take pleasure in presenting to you a Medal of Honor, as a
    recognition by the Government of your skill, courage and
    determined fortitude, displayed in an engagement with (5) others,
    on the 12th of September, 1874, against hostile Indians, in
    overwhelming numbers.

    This mark of honor, I trust, will be long worn by you, and though
    it in a small degree compensates for the hardships endured, yet it
    is a lasting emblem of distinguished services, well earned in a
    noble cause. It will ever recall the fact to you and yours, of
    having materially aided in clearing this fair country of ruthless
    savages, and freeing it from all time to civil settlements. This
    must be an ever increasing gratification to you.

    This badge of honor is most worthily bestowed.

    Respectfully, &c.,

    Bvt. Maj. Gen'l. U.S. Army,

It was always my intention to go back and mark the spot where the
Buffalo Wallow Fight took place and where George Smith still lies
buried. Procrastination and the remoteness of the spot have prevented
my going.


In civilized surroundings a Plains blizzard is bad enough; in a wild
country, a blizzard is more appalling than a tornado, for the latter
may be dodged, but the blizzard is everywhere and sets its teeth into
a man's vitals, wherever he may be. A blizzard brings a feeling of
terror that even the strongest man can hardly resist. I have seen men
moaning and trembling in a blizzard, as if the last drop of courage
had oozed from their bodies. They were not cowards. Their distress was
due to an instinctive, animal-like feeling that death was everywhere
about them, invisible, dread and mysterious. In time, however, this
fearfulness wears away, but not until death itself has begun fastening
upon the freezing body. As in drowning, death by freezing is
comparatively painless. In their last hours, natural death usually is
kind to all creatures.

In going from the Canadian River to Camp Supply, March 17, 1875, with
a company of soldiers, I met with an experience in a blizzard that I
never forgot. The snow had drifted so deep that the horses soon grew
exhausted. My own horse was badly jaded. The men were suffering with
the cold so intensely that they were unruly and hard to control. It
was my duty to keep the lead. I was sure that I was going in the right
direction, though it was impossible to see more than ten steps ahead.

Occasionally, one of the men would ride ahead of me, contrary to
orders, and finally I told the lieutenant who was in command that the
men would have to keep back or we would lose our way. He forced them
to stay behind. My horse became so fatigued that he began staggering,
and I knew that it was no longer safe to ride him, as he could not be
trusted to hold his course, so I dismounted and led him. A soldier,
compelled to remain in his saddle, said that he was afraid he was
freezing, and asked me to mount his horse that he might have an excuse
for walking. I then turned my horse loose.

Pretty soon we came to the forks of a draw. I took the one that I
thought led to camp and, luckily, was right. Had we turned up the
other prong we would have frozen to death. We had gone only a short
distance from the forking when I noticed that the soldier on foot was
not in sight. I asked the lieutenant if it might not be well to go
back and look for the straggler.

The lieutenant merely shook his head and motioned for me to keep
going. His manner displeased me, until I learned that he was so cold
that he could not open his mouth--his jaws were set and practically

After riding a few miles, we struck camp. There was plenty of timber,
and we soon had a roaring fire, and thawed out. The soldier on foot
was not with us. Three or four of us went back to where the draw
pronged, and by the light of a lantern could plainly see his tracks in
the snow, and where he had taken the wrong route, going off down the
east prong, instead of following us.

We hunted and hunted for him, but could not find him. To our
amazement, he came into camp next morning, more dead than alive. His
feet were frozen solid, and had to be amputated.

Panhandle weather in the very early spring is the most unreliable in
the world. We crawled into our blankets that night, numb and
shivering, the wind howling in the timber, and the snow drifting and
drifting around our tents. How about next morning? Well, the sun came
up next morning, smiling and warm; a soft wind was whispering from the
south, and by noon the hills were running with water from the melted
snow. When the snow melted from the wild plum bushes we saw that they
were in full bloom, and there was not a prettier sight in the
Panhandle. There were worlds of plums that year. In two weeks the
grass was green everywhere on the Plains, and spring came with a rush.

All old-timers in the southwest remember Jack Stilwell, scout, guide
and good fellow. One of his exploits was to escape at night from the
island where Major Forsythe, in the Battle of the Arickaree, was
surrounded by Indians, and go to Fort Wallace for relief. Once Jack
and I were out on the Staked Plains with nothing to eat. Jack
persuaded me to kill a wild horse for meat. A large herd was grazing
at the edge of a lake, and I shot a two-year-old filly. We built a
fire and cooked some of the meat. Doing my level best, I was never
able to swallow a single mouthful--always it stuck in my throat. I
preferred to go hungry rather than try to eat it. The meat looked
good, but the name was too much for me.

Stilwell was a frolicsome fellow and played many pranks. One time we
were going from Camp Supply to Dodge City. Just to make fun on the
trip, Jack told me that when we stopped for dinner he would dare me to
shoot at his ears, to see what the army officers would do. Noon came
and while the officer in charge was looking in our direction, Jack

"Billy, I'll bet you can't hit my ear with your '50' rifle."

"All right," I answered, "stand out there where you will not be in the
way of the other gentlemen, and I'll see what I can do."

The old army officer looked at us with disgust and later with horror.
I was a crack shot, and Jack knew he was safe. Taking careful aim, I
fired just as close to his ear as I dared with safety. Jack dodged and
scratched his ear as if a hornet had stung him.

"You come pretty close. Try again," he said.

I shot a second time, and Jack repeated his scratching performance,
declaring that he was sure I barely missed breaking the skin.

The old army officer scowled at us as if we were devils. He told the
men at the next station that we were the toughest bunch he was ever
with, and that we had been shooting at each other all day. When the
corral master wanted the old officer to ride the rest of the way with
us, he positively and emphatically, even profanely refused, saying
that we were the wrong kind of roosters for him to be with.

The rescue of the four Germain sisters who had been captured by the
Indians was a romantic incident of the Miles expedition to subdue the
hostile tribes in 1875. The circumstances surrounding their capture by
the Indians shocked the whole country and inflamed the border
settlements with a spirit of vengeance that would have wrought the
destruction of every Indian west of the Mississippi had it been
possible to attack the marauders at close quarters. From time to time
news came from the Indian country that the girls were still alive, and
mothers everywhere were praying for the restoration of the captives to
their friends.

The fate of the Germain family was not unlike that of others in those
troubulous times. John Germain was a poverty-stricken farmer at Blue
Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, when he returned from service in the
Confederate Army in the Civil War. Contending armies had pillaged and
devastated his neighborhood. Germain decided that he would recruit his
broken fortune by moving west. With a yoke of oxen and his wife and
children, he set out in April, 1870, halting for a time in central
Tennessee, where he remained until the following September. Southern
Missouri invited him further westward, and he moved to that State,
where he took a homestead and lived three years. He was sick and
discouraged, and continued his way to Elgin, Kansas. Unrelenting
misfortune met him at every turn. His children, as he believed, were
predisposed to tuberculosis. On the other side of the Plains was
Colorado with its mountain air and its pure water. Germain yoked his
oxen and once more started for the promised land.

Catherine Germain, the oldest of the four captured sisters, has
related the incidents of that journey and its final catastrophe in
these words:

"We left Elgin August 10, 1874. We journeyed along till we came to the
Smoky Hill River. Here we were told by the people living along the
line that we had better keep along the river, so we could get water.
They said we could not get water if we went along the railroad. And if
we took the old trail by the river we would not see a house for over a
hundred miles. We took the river road and everything seemed perfectly
quiet. We met several persons on our several days' journey up the

"Father said we would start early and make Fort Wallace the last day.
I knew that he felt uneasy all that lonely way, but we had no
indications of danger, and now we were so near to the settlement he
seemed more at ease.

"It was September 11. We were just starting as the sun began to peep
over the hills. Father took his gun and started on ahead of the wagon.
My brother and I had gone to drive the cows along. We were driving two
cows and two yearlings. We had just turned them toward the moving
wagon when we heard yells.

"On looking we saw Indians dashing down upon the wagon and father. We
were about a hundred yards off and we started to run in a northeastern
direction. We got something like a half mile but we were followed by
the Indians. Brother was killed and I was taken back to the wagon,
only to see that father, mother and my oldest sister had been killed.
Then they killed my sister younger than me. They thought they were
taking the four youngest because I was smaller than my sister they
killed last. This was all done in a very short time.

"Leaving the wreck behind, they then started south, and took the
cattle along some distance; then they killed them, ate what they
wanted and left the carcasses lay. That afternoon a thunderstorm came
up and the rain poured down, but we had no shelter. When they stopped
for the night they tried to fix blankets up for shelter, but made a
poor attempt at it. There were nineteen Indians, seventeen men and two
squaws. The little squaw (we called her) seemed very sorry for us and
would try to prepare something for us to eat, but the big one was of a
different nature and not much inclined to do anything for our benefit.
If anything was done to make our distress greater, she seemed to enjoy
it hugely.

"These Indians had left their main tribe on the plains of Texas and
come on a raiding tour. There was a raiding party of about a hundred
in the country at that time. We did not see the big party."

When an Indian war party moves rapidly over long distances in
dangerous country, they become fagged just as do white men. When this
band reached the Arkansas, a halt was made to forage for meat. Cattle
were killed wherever they could be found, and the carcasses abandoned
to wolves after the Indians had eaten their fill. The party seemed
fearful that soldiers were following them.

"We travelled at a lively gait and I know they were expecting to be
followed," wrote Catherine. "They scarcely spoke above a whisper. We
travelled speedily till toward morning, then stopped till daylight. We
were pretty hungry some days, for we did not have our meals very
regular; once a day and sometimes not that often. Julia and Addie, the
little ones, were kept together. Sophia and I were not allowed to be
together, only now and then we got together for a while. When we came
to the Canadian River the Indians seemed very uneasy, and hid in the
hills, hollows and brush for three days. The troops had been that way
only a short time before we got there. The wagon trails were fresh
yet. They left the Canadian on the third night and travelled nearly
all night. Then for several days we travelled across the highland
between the Canadian and Red rivers.

"When we came to the hills of the Red river they took to traveling at
night again. We had been traveling on this night about two hours, and
I should think it was somewhere about 11 o'clock, when all of a sudden
they became confused and held a whispered consultation. Whatever their
fright was, they went around it, and travelled at a very lively rate
for a while. When they stopped to rest a little I was given permission
to get off my horse. I was so tired I threw myself on the ground. When
I lay there I thought I heard the distant barking of a dog and it made
me feel glad to think that there might soon be a chance for the
deliverance of us four helpless girls. We resumed our traveling till
nearly day and stopped in a canyon. When I awoke the sun was shining
around. They went up the canyon some distance, then came out on the
prairie where thousands of buffaloes were feeding. The buffaloes did
not seem to be very much afraid of any one. We were probably a mile
from where we came out of the canyon. The Indians became greatly
alarmed, saddled fresh horses and started in the direction we came,
only a little more northwest.

"My little sisters were sitting on the ground. Two Indian men were
there. These two Indians often carried them on their horses, and I
thought that was what they would do now; but I wanted to see, so I
held my horse back. They saw me lagging behind, so they came up and
drove me on, but blamed the horse because he was lame and they thought
he stayed of his own accord. After a while I saw those two Indians who
were last with Julia and Addie, and also that my little sisters were
not with them. I felt that we would all be better off if we were out
of our misery, but I did not like to think of their little bodies
being left out there for the buffaloes to tramp over and the wolves to
eat. As soon as I got a chance I told Sophia that they had killed
Julia and Addie, and all she said was, 'they are better off than we
are.' But God had a hand in that work, and I believe you will agree
with me when I say He wrought a miracle and those little girls were
taken care of. I never saw the little ones any more till June, 1875,
when I met them at Fort Leavenworth."

After abandoning these two little girls, each of whom was less than
ten years old, the Indians began pressing forward more rapidly than
ever, to reach the vast solitudes of the Panhandle plains country,
where the main body of Cheyennes had gone, and which the raiders
reached after a three days' flight. The Cheyennes now divided into
small parties, each going in different direction, to confuse the
trails, and make pursuit by the soldiers laborious and difficult.
Sophia and Catherine became separated, each going with a different
band. Sophia was first in discovering that her two little sisters were
alive--they had been found by other Indians. Julia said that she and
Adelaide cried when they saw the Indians ride away, because they were
afraid to be alone in such a strange wild place, and did not know
where to find water or anything to eat. They stood in dread of the
buffaloes, hundreds of which were near at hand. As the Indians rode
away, they motioned to the little girls to follow them. This they
tried to do, but finally lost the trail. They were abandoned September
25. Sophia scarcely had time to embrace the little ones before she was
carried away by the band that held her captive.

Julia and Addie were with Chief Gray Beard's band of Cheyennes.
General Miles was pressing the Indians upon all sides. His command was
superior to the combined forces of all the hostiles in the southwest
and the latter could have been annihilated in a single engagement had
it been possible to attack them in a position where their only
alternative would have been to fight their way out. But the Indians
were too shrewd to be caught in a trap, and were running and dodging
in every direction--their trails crossed and re-crossed and doubled
back and turned aside until they were a confused jumble. The Indians
knew the country as accurately as a stream follows its own windings.
The only fact plain to the scouts was that the hostiles were trying to
escape to the Staked Plains. In this uninhabited and practically
waterless region a large body of troops would have been badly
handicapped in its pursuit of small bands of the enemy, as the latter
could move more rapidly and with greater comfort, and in time exhaust
the endurance of troops traveling in more or less compact formation.

General Miles embraced every opportunity to employ the tactics of the
Indians, and it was the result of this kind of strategy that brought
Lieutenant Baldwin and his scouts within striking distance of Gray
Bear's band on McClellan Creek. The Indians were so hard-pressed that
they were forced to abandon Julia and Adelaide and much camp
equipment. I remember vividly the appearance of the deserted camp. We
had ridden almost past it when somebody noticed that a pile of buffalo
hides seemed to be moving up and down. Pulling the hides aside, we
were astonished at finding two little white girls, who proved to be
Julia and Adelaide. They were pitiable objects. Hunger and privation
had reduced them to mere skeletons, and their little hands and fingers
were so thin that they resembled bird's claws. The children were
trembling with fright, but upon seeing that we were white men their
terror changed to a frenzy of joy, and their sobs and tears made
hardened frontiersmen turn away to hide their own emotion. The
children said that they had not been mis-treated by the men. The
squaws, however, had forced them to work beyond their strength. The
little girls were sent to Fort Leavenworth. Their rescue took place
November 8, 1874.

Catherine and Sophia Germain were now far out on the Staked Plains. We
had fought the Indians--principally Cheyennes, with a few Kiowas--at
Tule Canyon on Red River, but without capturing them. General Miles,
fearful that the two captives might be wantonly killed by the Indians,
when the latter found themselves in increasing danger of attack or
capture, employed a Mexican mixed-blood at Fort Sill to go to the
hostile camp in the Staked Plains with a secret message to the Germain
girls telling them Julia and Adelaide were safe and in the hands of
friends, and not to become discouraged. This message fell into the
hands of Catherine. It was written on the back of a photograph of
Julia and Adelaide that had been made by W. P. Bliss, shortly after
they were found by Lieutenant Baldwin's command.

The Cheyennes that had fled to the Staked Plains were under the
redoubtable Chief Stone Calf. General Miles sent a formal demand for
surrender to Stone Calf, with the specific provision that Catherine
and Sophia Germain should be brought back alive. Stone Calf and his
followers surrendered March 1, 1875, about seventy-five miles west of
the Darlington Indian Agency.

"Just before the sun set," wrote Catherine Germain, "we came to the
soldiers' camp. They stood at the side of the trail cheering. We
stopped, but I could hardly say anything, and when I think of it now a
lump rises in my throat. Oh, I was so glad. I thought I had never seen
such white people. They looked as white as snow, but of course they
were no whiter than the average people, but my being accustomed to the
red people was why they seemed so white and pretty. I just lacked a
few days of being 18 years old when we were re-captured, and Sophia
was past twelve. We were at the Cheyenne Agency (Darlington) three

The warriors who surrendered with Stone Calf were stood in a row by
General Miles, and the Germain girls asked to point out those who had
engaged in the murder of the other members of the Germain family, or
who had mistreated the captives. They pointed out seventy-five
Indians, all of whom afterwards were sent to Florida as prisoners of

General Miles induced the United States government to appropriate the
sum of $10,000 for the benefit of the four girls. He was their
guardian for two or three years. They were educated at the expense of
the military branch of the Government. All the girls married, and some
of them are still living.

The Miles Campaign demonstrated that if there should be further Indian
outbreaks it would be well to move a garrison within easy striking
distance of the route that led to the Staked Plains. Fort Elliott was
established as a permanent garrison in the spring of 1875. I was with
the party that selected the site. I was attached as scout at Fort
Elliott, and remained in service at that place until 1883. I was the
last scout to be relieved of duty at that post, and when I went away
the buffalo was becoming a rare animal on the Plains and the Indian
was down and out.

Cattlemen began going into the Panhandle as the Indians went out. I
remember how greatly I was surprised when I arrived at the Goodnight
ranch one day in 1877, and found two white ladies--Mrs. Goodnight, who
had joined her husband the previous year, and Mrs. Willingham, whose
husband was afterwards superintendent of the Turkey Track outfit. Both
were refined, educated women. I often think how helpful such women as
Mrs. Goodnight and Mrs. Willingham have been to Panhandle communities.
It required some grit for men to live there in those days, and for
women the trials and burdens must have been disheartening.

The Staked Plains, by reason of the scarcity of water in summer,
opposed great danger to troops in moving through that part of the
country. I was with Captain Nicholas Nolan, in command of Troop A,
Tenth United States Cavalry, in that memorable experience in August,
1877, in which the detachment barely escaped death from thirst.
Captain Nolan was in pursuit of the Quohada band of Comanches, who had
slipped away from their reservation at Fort Sill, Indian Territory.
Far out on the Staked Plains we joined forces with a party of
buffalo-hunters who had organized to fight the Indians. Captain Nolan
told the buffalo-hunters that if they would help him find the Indians
he would agree to do all the fighting, and assured them that he would
do the work to their satisfaction.

Reports were brought in that the Indians were only a short distance
away, and that it might be possible to overtake them by moving
quickly. In the excitement, many of the soldiers as well as the
buffalo-hunters forgot to fill their canteens with water. The Indians
eluded us, the men were soon out of water, and a difference of opinion
arose as to where the nearest water could be found. Some were in favor
of trying for the Double Lakes and some for the Laguna Plata. I had
been over this country from the north, not from the direction we were
traveling. The men and horses were in a deplorable condition.

Captain Nolan told Lieutenant Cooper to take the course with his
compass, which was set east by south ten degrees. The buffalo-hunters
feared the distance was too great, and started in another direction,
for Laguna Plata. Captain Nolan thought the Double Lakes were further
west than I did. We argued over the route until about 3 o'clock in the
morning, when he told me to go the way I thought was right. I at once
turned more to the northeast. About 5 o'clock I waived my hat to
attract the attention of the command, and an orderly came forward. I
sent word to Captain Nolan that I thought I saw the Double Lakes.
Happily, I was not mistaken. We had to dig for water, and 11 o'clock
had passed before the horses were able to quench their thirst.

The sufferings of both men and horses were terrible, and all the way
to the Double Lakes our trail was strewn with cast-off clothing and
equipment. The buffalo-hunters were in no less desperate straits, many
of them, like the soldiers, dropping down to die along the way. Horses
were killed that their blood might be drank to assuage the fever of
burning throats and tongues. The buffalo-hunters finally reached water
at the Casa Amarilla. Both outfits carried water back to fallen
comrades and revived them.


Returning to civilian life in 1883, I struck north from Fort Elliott
and went over on the Canadian River, in what is now Hutchinson county,
Texas, and hired to a big cow outfit that became widely known as the
Turkey Track Ranch, owned by a Scotch syndicate, and then managed by
C. B. Willingham. That same year I filed on two sections of land on
Bent Creek, taking in the site of the original Adobe Walls ruins. I
built my house right at the west edge of the old sod building which by
that time stock had rubbed to the ground. In the front yard, however,
when the south wind swept the dirt clear, could still be seen the
foundations of the old ruins. Whoever built those walls certainly
built them well.

When I homesteaded my two sections of school land and built my house
at Adobe Walls, I expected to live there the balance of my days,
contented and happy. Everything was to my liking--pure air, good
water, fruitful soil, game, and room enough for a man to turn round
without stepping on some fellows toes. It was the land of my boyhood
dreams, and I was satisfied.

  [Illustration: _"Billy" Dixon, as He Appeared in Recent Years._]

I improved my ranch in many ways. I diverted the course of Bent Creek
until its clear, swift waters flowed almost at my doorstep, and was
able to undertake extensive irrigation. I planted an orchard of 200
carefully selected trees, consisting of apples, peaches, pears, plums,
apricots and cherries, together with a small vineyard. I am confident
that this was the first orchard ever planted in Hutchinson county,
perhaps in the northern Panhandle. It was well irrigated, and the
orchard thrived astonishingly. There was not a better orchard in the
southwest, and some of the trees are still standing. In my yard I set
out a number of cottonwoods which grew rapidly and became big, strong
trees, affording generous shade in hot summer. I am sure that my
thirty acres of alfalfa was the first ever seen in that section. For
many years it produced an unfailing and profitable crop.

In those days our nearest postoffice was Zulu, on Palo Duro,
twenty-five or thirty miles distant. One day L. B. Miller, then
district attorney, now practicing law at Allenreed, Texas, was at the
Turkey Track Ranch. He heard about the way we had to go for mail, and
said that he would have a postoffice established at the ranch and make
me postmaster. I received my commission and was postmaster at Adobe
Walls for nearly twenty years, first at the ranch and later at my
home. When I moved down to my own place I opened a little store,
carrying in stock such simple things as would supply cowboy trade. It
may cause a smile when I say that my two most important articles of
merchandise were candy and chewing gum. No schoolgirl could be as
foolish as a cowboy about candy and chewing gum. The boys seemed to
crave such things, and bought more candy and chewing gum than they did

The little log house, to be seen in an accompanying illustration,
stands on the ruins of the first Adobe Walls. I built the house in
1883, shortly after I filed on my claim. It is fourteen feet square,
and stands a mile south of where the fight took place.

The illustration showing the bluff on the east side of Adobe Walls
Creek is a excellent view of the landscape. In coming to attack Adobe
Walls in the early morning, the Indians rode up the valley from the
right, and were first discovered near the grove of trees.

Mine was a happy life in my cabin at Adobe Walls, without fret or
worry, and with abundance of everything for my simple needs. During a
greater part of the year wild ducks and geese frequented the Canadian
and its tributaries, literally by thousands, and deer and turkey were
commonly found along the creeks.

The meat of the buffalo, in my opinion, had a much better taste than
beef, and was more easily digested. I was always a big meat eater, and
often long for a good fat buffalo steak broiled over a camp-fire in
the way "Frenchie," my old cook, used to broil it. When we were camped
on a creek where wild turkeys were plentiful, we would kill fifteen or
twenty and stew a potful of gizzards, hearts and livers. This was best
of all, a dish fit for a king, and a man who never ate it can have no
idea how good it was.

I lived here as a bachelor until I married in 1894, after which I
continued at Adobe Walls until about 1902, when I sold my ranch and
moved to Plemons, Texas. There I lived two years, and found living in
town worse than it could have been in jail. I decided to go still
further west, and in 1906 homesteaded a claim in what was then known
as Beaver County, Oklahoma, once called "No Man's Land." My place was
in sight of Buffalo Springs, and on the north line of the Panhandle.

A change in local conditions began in 1887. In that year a good many
"nesters," small farmers began coming in and taking up the land. They
were bitterly opposed by the big cow outfits, none of which wanted to
see the country fenced, and felt that the settlers were intruding into
a country where they did not belong and where they certainly were not
wanted. I rather think that the cow outfits felt that they had won the
country from the Indians and were entitled to it by right of conquest
and occupancy. But the "nesters" forced the cow outfits to leave, just
as the buffalo-hunters and the soldiers had made the Indians depart.
Today the despised "nester" is the bone and sinew of the Panhandle
country, and whatever social and material advancement the country had
made should be credited mostly to those who built homes and school
houses and churches, and tamed the wild land to the crops of
civilization. I do not wish to say anything against the cow-men. They
were big-hearted, generous fellows, who followed their own way as they
saw it. Between the two classes there was much conflict; time,
however, solves its problems, and solved them in the Panhandle.

Among the small stockmen who moved their families to the Panhandle in
1887 were the Lards, Ledricks and Walstads, all coming down from
Kansas. The Lard and Ledrick families located on Chicken Creek. The
Walstad family lived first on Wolf Creek, moving later to the "flats"
in Ochiltree County. The Walstads were sturdy Norwegians and not
afraid to work. To improve their place on the "flats", they cut cedar
pickets in Government Canyon, ten miles away, and "snaked" them up the
steep bluffs with a horse--the place was too rough for a team to
descend. Nevertheless, they constructed a good-sized, comfortable
dwelling out of these pickets, and covered it with dirt. Water was
scarce on the "flats," the Walstads hauling it ten or fifteen miles
the first year. Mr. Walstad undertook to dig a well by hand, something
that no man before nor since has ever tried in that country. He was
not financially able to bore a well, and did not know that it was
anywhere from 300 to 400 feet to water. He got down about 200 feet and
threw up the sponge--the sponge was dry.

The girls in the Walstad family were all splendid riders, as good as
could be found in the Panhandle, and could rope a cow or a horse as
easily as a man. They rode long distances after stock in all kinds of

The Lards and Ledricks prospered on Chicken Creek. Henry Ledrick had
been a post-trader in Kansas, and had lost all his property as the
result of Indian raids. The Government afterwards compensated him for
his losses. By intermarriage these families have established
themselves in many of the Panhandle counties.

  [Illustration: _Dixon Orchard at Adobe Walls._]

For years I was justice of the peace in Hutchinson County. The hardest
job I ever tackled was to perform a marriage ceremony, though I
married many couples. Ministers were as scarce as buffaloes, and when
a couple decided to get "spliced" they went to the nearest justice of
the peace or county judge. My usual embarrassment in marrying a couple
was once increased beyond measure. I had grown to be very fond of a
young lady who lived with Mrs. Willingham on the Turkey Track, but had
never been able to muster courage to tell her how much I thought of
her and to ask her to marry me. Well, a pesky cowboy did what I had
not been able to do, and the two came to have me tie the conjugal
knot. I thought that it was hard enough to lose the girl, but to be
asked to marry her to another fellow was certainly tough.

Some of the large outfits controlled entire counties for range
purposes--and the Panhandle counties were big counties. The Hansford
Land & Cattle Company (the "Turkey Track" outfit) run 50,000 head of
cattle at one time, and ranged over thousands of acres of land.

The Turkey Track outfit tried to escape the inevitable by buying out
"nester" who came into the country in the late 80's, and in this way
held all the land, save mine at Abode Walls. The Texas legislature
opened up the land to purchase and settlement, and in the 90's the
settlers began coming and could not be stopped. They settled first
along the creeks and then spread to the uplands. I was State land
commissioner for Hutchinson County and did a thriving business.

The people petitioned the Legislature that Hutchinson County be
detached from Roberts County, and given a separate organization. Their
petition was granted. An election was called for the election of
County officers. Much ill feeling had grown up between the settlers
and the cow outfits, especially the Turkey Track people who had
opposed the making of a new county. The election was bitterly
contested, the Turkey Track outfit taking an active part, to control
the results. I was elected sheriff, not because I sought the office,
but because I had lived in the country so long that I was widely
known. I was ignorant of politics and the ways of politicians. I
became disgusted and resigned my office, rather than be forced into
strife that was not to my liking, and went back to the quietude of
Abode Walls. The County Judge also resigned. When a man gets mixed up
in politics he is soon traveling a rocky road.

However, I do not hold enmity against anybody. Many changes have taken
place in Hutchinson County since that time, and today it is settled
with law-abiding, prosperous stock-men and farmers. The Turkey Track
sold out to a Kansas company, who also bought my place at Abode Walls.

I married Miss Olive King in 1894. She had come from Virginia to visit
her brothers, Albert and Archie King, and the winter before we were
married she had taught school on the south side of the Canadian,
between Reynolds and Tallahone Creeks. This school house was built of
round cottonwood logs, covered with dirt, and was about ten feet

I had always been rather bashful in the presence of women, rarely
having had opportunity to meet them in a social way. Merely the sight
of a good-looking woman coming in my direction made me feel like
leaving the trail. How I ever managed to ask my wife to marry me has
always been a mystery, made even more remarkable by the fact that she
consented. I have always insisted that she did the proposing, but
could say no more when she reminded me of the time we were riding
together and watered our horses at Garden Springs one September
afternoon, and of the promise I made her at that time.

We were married October 18, 1894, on Reynolds Creek at the home of a
Portuguese family named Lewis, where my wife had boarded during the
winter. The Lewis's were running about 200 head of cattle and had a
comfortable home. Mrs. Lewis was a cultivated woman. She spoke English
brokenly, and to make herself more familiar with the language had
induced my wife to live with her. Mrs. Lewis had been a good friend of
mine for several years, and I suspect that it was largely through her
influence that I got the girl I so greatly admired.

  [Illustration: _An Adobe Corral Built by "Billy" Dixon._]

We have been living together nearly nineteen years. She has borne me a
family of which I feel that I am justly proud, and has stood by me in
all my ups and downs. It is largely through her efforts that these
reminiscences are published. I never took the interest that I should
in setting down these matters, and realize that the work should have
been done years ago, in obedience to the requests of life-long

We were married by a Methodist minister, the Rev. C. V. Bailey, who
drove seventy-five miles from Mobeetie to perform the ceremony. After
our marriage, my wife for a period of three years, was the only woman
who actually lived in Hutchinson County. She may have grown a bit
lonesome, but if she did she never said anything about it. I had the
advantage of being able to say, without making any other man angry,
that I had the best looking woman in the County. It was not every
woman who had lived in a thickly settled community all her life that
would have been willing to settle down at Abode Walls.

When Patten, Price & Hyde, the Kansas cattlemen, bought the Turkey
Track range and stock, I sold my place at Abode Walls to them. My
older children by this time were in need of schooling. The settlers
were so few that there was no neighborhood school, so we moved to
Plemons and lived there for two years before locating in Cimarron
County, then Beaver County, which is settled by the best type of
rugged American citizenship. They are temperate, law-abiding,
industrious people. Most of them were poor at the beginning, and many
have had a hard time getting started. All have the true western
spirit. If a settler is in trouble, caused by sickness, death or other
unavoidable misfortune, his neighbors are always ready to help him,
even putting in his crops for him.

I am often questioned about my experiences on the frontier, as if the
life had been filled with unbearable hardships, to be shunned and
forgotten. Gladly would I live it all over again, such is my cast of
mind and my hunger for the freedom of the big wide places. I would run
the risks and endure all the hardships that were naturally ours just
for the contentment and freedom to be found in such an outdoor life. I
should be unspeakably happy once more to feast on buffalo meat and
other wild game cooked on a camp-fire, sour dough biscuit and black
coffee, that latter drank from a quart cup.

But those days are gone and forever, and we must content ourselves
with the present and make the best of our opportunities. Coming
generation will never know the trials and hardships we endured. We
helped build a great empire in the west.

Let it be governed justly and made to serve the needs of humanity.


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