STORIES OF THE PIONEERS
|Fish as Brain Food—A Mountain Trip in 1879—A Frontier Mining Camp—Story of the Lost Cabin Gold Placers—John Hunton and Old Fort Laramie—Other Pioneers of Note—Frank Grouard, The Famous Scout—Sacajawea, The Indian Girl Pathfinder—Caspar Collins and Old Platte Bridge—Luke Voorhees and Early Stage Coach Days—Ben. Holliday in a Hold Up—Stories of a Pioneer Preacher—The Cowboys Prayer ... 134|
| The adventures and experiences of the early settlers of Wyoming, with all their humorous, tragic and romantic phases, become more interesting, to the reader and more valuable historically, as the days go by, when the actors disappear and the curtain falls on the thrilling and realistic scenes of frontier life. The old frontier is disappearing, in fact, has disappeared, and we realize the truth of the old saying, "Distance lends enchantment to the view." Today the automobile is everywhere, and wherever that swift moving machine glides through the landscape there is no frontier—there is no explorer, for the remotest nook and corner is explored—and even the hunter and trapper by mountain or stream can no longer be a recluse in silence and solitude, for from the banks of a stream or on the side of a mountain he may hear the chug of a motor car or look up into the sky and see that bird of a new civilization, an aeroplane. Therefore we may dwell with peculiar interest on the memories and stories of the old pioneers.|
From many sources have been gathered the personal narratives, sketches and relations that follow, many of them from the lips of the men who were actors in the scenes they describe, and they are given without regard to time, place or order of occurrence, promising only that they are true and illustrate historically the early days of Wyoming. To begin with some of the early experiences of the author, in which I have given some notes of what I saw and "a part of which I was."
|FISH AS BRAIN FOOD|
| In the Territorial Legislature of 1882 I was a member of the house. We passed a pretty good game bill for that period. On the last night of the session while the house was indulging in a good deal of horse-play. Judge J. M. Carey informed me that Pete Downs, a member from Uinta County, had just been appointed fish commissioner and suggested that I announce it and get a rise from the gentleman. I made the announcement and suggested to Downs that he should introduce terrapin in Crow Creek waters, plant clams in the Sweetwater and make certain experiments with pickeled eel's feet, etc. Pete Downs was an original character of a jovial nature and universally popular. He never made a speech longer than a motion to adjourn. As I finished the members began to call Downs, and yell "Speech! speech!"|
Pete got up somewhat flustrated and said: "Boys you know I can't make a speech."
"Yes you can, go on, go on," shouted the members.
He hesitated, cleared his throat and assumed a belligerent attitude. "I tell you I'm no speech maker, but I want you fellers to understand if I tackle this job I am going to do it right. I'm told that fish is the greatest brain food in existence. If that's the case, I'm going to stock up our streams to beat the band, and I'm going to make it my special business to see that the next Legislature has a damn sight more brains than this one has!"
As he said this his voice rose and rang through the hall, he swung his fist around and hit the desk a resounding whack and sat down. The house broke out in a roar of laughter and applause. I have heard many orations and speeches but none so instantaneously effective.
I wish to state here, sub rosa, that since then, several Wyoming Legislatures have convened and adjourned, that certainly appeared to be shy on brain food.
|TEN MILLION BUFFALO|
| In attendance at the Oregon Trail monument celebrations, I met and had some interesting talks with old timers. In the evening of the celebration at Fort Laramie several of us were swapping stories under the piazza of the old cavalry barracks which resembles the palaces of South American presidents. The building is about three hundred feet long and has a balcony extending along the whole front. Joe Wiley is now governor general of this famous building and grounds. Talking about game animals in that section in early days, Ed. Patrick asserted that he had seen "5,000 antelope in one bunch near Rawhide Buttes, and they were so tame it was a shame to kill one."|
"That's good," said I, "but when I crossed the plains in 1864, I saw 10,000,000 buffalo in practically one herd extending along the Arkansas River for five hundred miles."
"How do you know there were 10,000,000" said Patrick.
"I counted 'em," said I.
This raised a laugh on Patrick and he came back with this:
"How did you count them?"
"Psychologically and in my mind's eye," said I.
There might have been more but a million or so difference in the estimate wouldn't cut much figure. Our route lay along the Arkansas Valley from Manhattan to Ben's old fort and being in the month of November all the big herds of the North were moving South and found their best feeding grounds in this section. They therefore delayed in crossing south during the pleasant weather and rapidly accumulated in numbers. The western Indians were on the warpath then and might be classed as wild animals, but that makes another story.
Showing how tame wild game was at that time, Mr. Patrick mentioned the incident of a young antelope getting in between his team of horses for protection from a dog.
|A NORTH PARK TRIP|
| In August, 1878, I came to Cheyenne to take the position of military storekeeper at Camp Carhn which was then the largest supply depot in the West. It had fourteen large warehouses full of military supplies, several large manufacturing and repair establishments, a garrison of soldiers, officers and employees quarters, corrals and stables for five large wagon trains. Ten forts located at points in Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska and Idaho were supplied from this great depot, and from three hundred to four hundred civilians were given constant employment as teamsters, wagon makers, blacksmiths, saddlers, packers, etc. The military depot was located about half way between Fort Russell and Cheyenne.|
In the summer of 1879 with my wife and children, I made a camping out trip to and through North Park for a month's vacation. We took a tent, camp equipage and grub. There were few ranches and for days at a time we saw no human habitations. Game was very plentiful, especially antelope. At the southern end of the park we camped near a ranch where the owner had seven or eight elk he had captured and was training them for work and selling them to animal collectors. These elk were as tame as a domestic cow.
On the trip we had a dog who was fired with the ambition to catch an antelope, but he got his lesson and quit. In the last attempt he started after a bunch when the leader, a big buck, turned around suddenly and jumped on him with his forefeet, stiff-legged. The dog, who was hit only by a powerful glancing stroke, rolled over down the hill yelling in terror. He came back to the wagon with scars on his head and the side of his body and never chased any more antelope.
Twice on the trip we found little baby antelopes in the sage brush where the mother had left them. One little one that was running around we captured and took along for a pet, feeding him on canned milk, warm and diluted. He thrived well for several days, but at one of our camping places got away long enough to drink some very cold spring water, which caused his death.
|TAME MOUNTAIN SHEEP|
|On this trip we saw for the first time a bunch of mountain sheep in the vicinity of Sherman. They were some five hundred yards from the road when first sighted and quite near a ranch we had just passed. On seeing us they became very curious, perhaps on account of our children, and walked quietly toward the wagon until they reached a knoll looking down upon us about fifty yards away. There they stopped, a big buck in the front with massive horns and five ewes grouped around him. I stopped the team, got out my rifle, they watching us and I them. I got a bead on the big buck and was about to fire, when my wife said, "They can't be wild mountain sheep. They're too tame. They must be some breed of goats belonging to that ranch we passed. I wouldn't shoot them." We discussed the matter, the sheep still looking and wondering what on earth we were there for. As I put away the gun and continued the journey the sheep turned around and quietly walked away. If any visitor at our apartments fails to see that splendid pair of big horns on the walls they can blame Mrs. Bartlett for her mistaken opinions and merciful kindness.|
|A SPASMODIC MINING CAMP|
| Incidental to this trip we visited Teller City, a new mining camp where great gold discoveries had just been reported. There was a great rush there. A town had been laid out in the timber and many houses, shacks and cabins were being buih. A new hotel, roughly constructed of pine boards, was being built and I applied for a room. The proprietor said all the completed rooms were taken, but explained that the carpenters would have another room enclosed by night if we wanted to take it. We took it and the room was built round us during the day. The windows and door were put in and the boarding of the walls completed while we occupied the room. It was the first time I had ever seen a room "built around you while you wait." That night we had a grand reception. The mountains on the east were lit up by a great forest fire making a scene almost terrific in grandeur.|
Another thing–in laying out the streets a great many pine trees had to be cut down. Therefore the streets and roadways were full of stumps and it required the utmost skill in a driver to get through without smashing a wagon or breaking the horses' legs. Therefore, there were many stump speeches made, brief and emphatic, interlarded with "strange oaths" unfit for publication. However, we escaped safely with our team and our morals.
|A FAKE LYNCHING|
| Going back a little, on our way to North Park we visited Cumming's City on the Laramie River, near Jelm Mountain. It was then the most noted mining camp in Wyoming and had among its population of gold hunters, many who afterward became Wyoming's most prominent citizens and officials. Bill Nye was one who made the camp the scene of some of his most excruciating stories. Judge Groesbeck, who afterwards became chief justice of the State Supreme Court, was another. Judge Bramel, who was at that time an enthusiastic mining pioneer was among the choice spirits of this camp. Women and children were rare in the camp and our coming through as campers attracted a great deal of interest. We put up at the big hotel and were invited around to see the wonderful gold mines, some of them capitalized at $1,000,000. Everybody seemed bent on making our visit enjoyable. The extent to which this effort was carried was seen the next morning. We started quite early to continue our journey. When about half a mile out, on turning a bend in the road, we saw suspended from the limb of a tree which stretched to the middle of the road, a man with a rope round his neck. The horses also saw the figure and stopped suddenly. They had evidently never seen a man suspended high in mid-air with no foundation for his feet. They snorted and pawed and really wanted to go back, although we were yet a hundred yards away. Before going after the coroner I concluded to make a closer examination, first turning the horses around so they wouldn't cramp the wagon. I walked down to the place where the figure hung and found it was a well dressed dummy.|
Afterwards I learned that the miners got up this little show for our entertainment. Things had been rather quiet with them for a week, no shooting scrapes or lynchings, and they wanted to liven up matters and give us a sample of what life in a genuine mining camp should be. We were entertained all right, but had the time of our lives trying to drive the horses under that suspended figure.
|A REAL FISH STORY|
| In 1881 I assisted in organizing the Wyoming Copper Company and as one of the officers of the company went to Fairbank where we erected a copper furnace and buildings connected with the smelting works. Colonel Babbitt, a prominent cattleman, was the leading spirit of the enterprise and he had interested several Chicago millionaires in it, among them George M. Pullman and N. K. Fairbank and we gave our smelter settlement the name of the latter gentleman.|
The smelter was located on the banks of Platte River at the mouth of the canyon about one mile and a half above Guernsey. It had been noted as the finest pike fishing resort on the river and was a favorite place for the sport of United States officers from Fort Laramie, which was then garrisoned and was the principal army post of the department.
One day Superintendent Bartlett (no relation) and myself looking down the river, saw an immense school of pike swimming up, their fins agitating the surface with dimpling waves. They kept in the center of the stream, and we could not reach them with poles. Accordingly we improvised a raft, having plenty of lumber and tools, rigged up our lines, got some fresh meat for bait and secured some heavy irons for an anchor. Taking one of our big ore tubs we placed it in the center of the raft and anchored in mid-stream where the water was alive around us. We had two hooks on each line and as soon as they were dropped they were grabbed by the hungry fish, and we hauled them in two at a time until the tub was nearly full and we were exhausted by our efforts and the excitement of the catch.
|THE OLD CABIN HOME|
| Soon after the smelter was erected I built the first log cabin at Fairbank and brought my family up from Cheyenne. It was located in a most beautiful spot close to the river in a grove of cottonwood and boxelder trees. It was at the mouth of the canyon whose precipitous walls of red sandstone intermingled with strata of white limestone towered in prismatic beauty, and when shone upon by the sun were brilliant with nature's architectural effects. Just above the cabin the rapids plunged over a rocky bed and the murmer of the falling water was continuous music in our ears. Fremont on his first expedition camped across the canyon close by the side of our home, and in his report gives a glowing description of its scenic beauties.|
The serpent entered this Eden, but without his ancient fascination. In the summer time the doors and windows were open. On two occasions we captured rattlesnakes that had entered the house and one time we got two big bull snakes who were making a home under the bed, lying in wake for mice. The bull snake is harmless but so much resembles a rattler that any tenderfoot will be deceived.
|GOOD RUNNING TIME|
|It is the unexpected that happens–sometimes. One day I was sitting in our office and laboratory building. Franklin Getterman, our chemist, sat at the desk writing. Suddenly a hugh bull snake dropped down "kerplunk," on the desk before him. He gave a yell and in about two jumps landed himself outside the door. For about two hundred yards he made as good time as I ever saw. The snake had crawled in under the eaves and was crawling over the loose boards of the ceiling when he fell. Getterman was a recent graduate from Freiburg, Germany, and if he had died of heart failure then the world would have lost a remarkable man, as he is now the president and general manager of the American Smelting Company, the largest smelting organization in existence.|
|THE PLAYFUL MOUNTAIN RAT|
|Shortly after we moved into the cabin, a family of mountain rats also moved in and occupied the space between the pole roof and the canvas ceiling stretched below. These animals are playful and humorous. They have several games, one especially that interested the children. They had a collection of little stones and clay balls that they would bring to the ridge pole and then roll them down to the eaves and scamper after them. Then they would bring them up again and continue the sport. Then thev had another game that I judge were wrestling matches. They would tumble around, roll over and squeal with joy. We finally killed two of them and the others took the hint and quit the premises disgusted with our inhospitality.|
|SPEAKING OF SKUNKS|
|Speaking of skunks, a colonY of these interesting animals made their homes in a limestone ledge near our cabin. Limestone formations here are marked by many caves and openinings extending in irregular passages through the rock. These afford ideal homes for skunks and rattlesnakes, while the larger caves are appropriated by mountain lions. The skunk is a handsome animal, and is also quite friendly and fearless. When not attacked they are harmless. Although moonlight nights were their favorite excursion hours, they often came around the house and under the house in the day time without any fear and usually inspected the remains of food thrown out from the kitchen, we finally killed three or four and smoked out a whole colony in the rocks, after which they quit us. If their skins had been as valuable then as now. I could have started a skunk farm and been rich enough probably to start a peace expedition to Europe bv this time. Mountain lions were quite plentiful up the canyon and many were killed within a mile or two of our cabin.|
|THE LOST CABIN GOLD PLACERS|
| The Lost Cabin mines of Wyoming have long been the subject of much conjecture and romantic fiction. The true history of this famous find and the accompanying adventures of those who participated in it was given me when I was living in Washington in 1894, by Charles Clay, one of Wyoming's prominent and honored frontiersmen.|
Mr. Clay was one of the pioneers and like Judge Gibson Clark and John Hunton was at one time employed at the post trader's store at Fort Laramie as clerk and assistant. Afterward he engaged in freighting. When the town of Douglas was located he opened a general store and for several years did the leading business there. Later he was elected county treasurer for two or three terms. He came to Washington, D. C. with a view of pushing a claim of losses sustained by Indian depredations, and having access to the Government departments I had the pleasure of giving him some assistance. We spent several evenings together, and as I was becoming interested in mining ventures and he was familiar with the placer grounds worked by the old gold miners, our conversation drifted that way. One evening just before he left Washington he said to me:
"I am going to tell you what I know about the Lost Cabin mines. I have kept the story to myself for nearly forty years expecting to go personally and locate the place, but something has always come up to prevent giving it my time and money. I think you can find it, and all I ask is give me a show in the find."
I have kept the story sub rosa for twenty years but now release it, trusting the directions given will enable some prospector to locate these rich placers, and I leave it entirely to him as to whether he owes me anything for the information. This is the story :
The Lost Cabin gold placers were discovered in the fall of 1865, and were worked three days by seven men from the Black Hills country. Five of the seven men were killed by the Indians. Two escaped and brought away seven thousand dollars in coarse gold. Since that time no effort for the discovery of the place has been successful although many attempts have been made by small and large parties to reach these wonderfully rich placers where the gold could almost literally be picked up from the ground. Under a treaty made by the Government with the powerful Indian tribes then occupying this territory they were given undisturbed possession of this area for many years and all white men were warned not to invade their hunting grounds.
Mr. Clay said that the two men who escaped came into Fort Laramie and as soon as they got in went to the Sutler's store and asked him to put their gold in the safe. In doing this they confided to him the story of the find and the fortunes of the expedition. This was in October, 1865. Early in that month the two men reached old Fort Reno at the point which is now the crossing of Powder River. They arrived there in a terribly weak and exhausted condition. They explained that they had belonged to a party of seven gold prospectors who went into the Big Horn Mountains on their eastern slope from the Black Hills of Dakota. They traveled along the base of the range in a southwestern direction, prospecting and testing the ground at all points where the streams came down from the mountains until they reached a park surrounded by heavy timber through which ran a bold and swift mountain stream, and which a few yards below joined a larger stream. Here they found rich signs of the yellow metal and on digging down struck bed rock at a depth of three or four feet where gold was very plentiful and coarse, with many good sized nuggets.
They immediately went into camp having tools and grub in addition to the wild game they had hunted which was then very plentiful. They had brought two pack animals to carry their tools and supplies. Among the tools was a big log saw especially valuable to gold miners, and they soon sawed the logs they needed to construct a flume. In two days by almost continuous hard work they also built a substantial log cabin. They then began to dig and wash out the gold in good earnest.
Late one afternoon on the third day they were suddenly surprised and attacked by Indians. It seemed to be a large band but they were almost concealed by the surrounding timber. The men fought as best they could until nightfall, but being in the open were at such disadvantage that five of their number were killed. The Indians would not expose themselves. The night was cloudy and as it soon became very dark the two men who had not been hurt gathered up the gold and succeeded in escaping without being seen by the Indians.
In addition to the gold, they carried their arms and some grub. Traveling on foot they put as much distance as they could between themselves and their foes during the first night and in the morning hid themselves among the trees where they remained until night came on. They then continued their journey not knowing where they were going. After three nights of continuous walking they reached Fort Reno, where there was a small garrison of United States soldiers stationed to protect the old trail and furnish a camp for settlers driven out by the Indians. They told their story to the lieutenant in command, but he did not credit it fully. About that time there had been a number of desertions of soldiers who wanted to hunt for gold and were willing to face dangers in the quest, so he held them under guard and sent them with a detachment and wagon train then about to leave for Fort Fetterman. When they reached Fort Fetterman, the commanding ofificer had them under investigation and becoming convinced of the truth of their story allowed them to go to Fort Laramie with the next military wagon train departing for that point.
|AT FORT LARAMIE|
|The two men spent the winter at Fort Laramie. When they brought the gold to Mr. Clay at the post trader's store it was in three baking powder cans. He put it in the safe where it remained until their departure from the fort. The men were Swedes and spoke broken English. They were practically ignorant of the country they passed through so far as the names of mountains and streams were involved, but could describe the topography and general aspect of the region through which they had traveled. As spring approached they determined to go back and brave new dangers to find their lost cabin and gold field. In order to insure success in their search, they decided to go back to the Black Hills and start anew over the same route they first took. Mr. Clay says they organized a new party in the Black Hills and started out on the old trail but that nothing was heard from them after they had reached the mountains of Wyoming and in all probability they were killed by the Indians.|
|OTHER EXPEDITIONS FORMED|
| As the knowledge of the famous discovery spread through Fort Laramie and among the settlers in the vicinity one of those big gold excitements characteristic of pioneer days resulted and many plans were formed by different parties to start prospecting expeditions to search for the lost cabin. The largest party was organized by Colonel Bullock, at that time post trader at the fort. Fort Laramie was then the most important post in the great northwest and was the headquarters of a large number of frontiersmen, hunters, trappers, scouts, army contractors and their employees, in addition to the army garrison. It was the midway resting place of numerous caravans of emigrants following the great Overland Trail to California and from these sources Colonel Bullock raised a company of one hundred and fifty men who were duly enlisted and officered. All preparations were made to start when the project came to the notice of the commanding officer of the department at Omaha. In view of the impending Indian wars an order was issued forbidding the expedition and if necessary ordering but the military forces to stop it.|
For the next twelve or thirteen years it was unsafe for any party to go into that region as the Indians were very numerous and powerful, as well as generally hostile, so that the mystery that hung over the Lost Cabin mines was not lifted and hangs over them to this day, with the exception of this rift of light that comes from Charley Clay's narrative.
|JOHN HUNTON AND FORT LARAMIE|
| To have lived in Wyoming from the organization of the territory down to the present day is indeed a rare privilege. John Hunton of Fort Laramie, who came into this state with a freight train from Julesburg before Cheyenne was on the map, and has since been prominently identified with the various phases of frontier development, as post trader, contractor, ranchman and engineer, has had that notable experience. He is especially identified with the history of Fort Laramie.|
It would be difficult to put into cold type the interesting episodes of his life and of the early settlers who were in his group of comrades, like Colin Hunter. Hi Kelley, E. W. Whitcomb, Dan McUlvan and Gibson Clark, but his story is so typical of early days in Wyoming that the writer journeyed to Fort Laramie in May, 1918, to get from his own lips a relation, that only he could give.
Mr. Hunton was born in Madison County, Va., in the Blue Ridge Mountain. June 18, 1839. His father and mother, Alexander and Elizabeth (Carpenter) Hunton, were among the oldest, historic families of the South and it was natural that John should be among the first to join the Confederate army and remain in its ranks as a fighting man till the surrender at Appomattox. Even before the Civil war, Mr. Hunton, as one of the Mrginia State Guards, was on duty at Charlestown, Va., eight miles from Harpers Ferry with four thousand of the guard, when John Brown was hung. Later, he was in Pickett's famous charge at Gettysburg.
He left home in the early spring of 1867, and went to Julesburg, Colo. From there he went to Fort Russell with a freight train carrying finished lumber to use in building Fort Russell, then a military camp established to protect the men engaged in building the Union Pacific Railroad. The camp had been started with the construction of log buildings and when the Government had decided to establish the fort, finished lumber and imjjroved equipment was freighted in. This was before Cheyenne was started.
| In June, young Hunton went to Fort Laramie and was employed at the sutler's store as a roustabout by Seth E. Ward, who was then post trader. Later on he engaged as clerk, freighter and contractor, continuing at the fort under the sutlership of William G. Bullock, who had Benjamin B. Mills as his chief clerk in charge of the business. At this time Gibson Clark and Charles Clay were also employed as clerks and assistants. In those early days Fort Laramie was one of the important Indian trading posts of the west, being the favorite center of traffic of numerous tribes, and of the most noted hunters and fur traders of that whole region. It was the headquarters of Bordeaux, Bissonett, Rishaw (Richard) Brothers, Fourier, Little and Big Bat (Baptiste) Jim Bridger, and other noted scouts. The Sioux and Cheyennes ranged all over the country from north of the Platte to Cache La Poudre in Colorado. Many of the furs and hides were shipped to Robert Campbell who had a large establishment at St. Louis and was one of the most noted fur traders of that day. When in the West, Campbell made Fort Laramie his headquarters.|
Mr. Hunton knew personally some of the most famous Indian chiefs of that day, such as Red Cloud, Otter Tail, American Horse, Spotted Tail and Young-man-Afraid-of-his-Horse. and attended many of their conferences and treaty councils. In the famous Treaty of 1868, Mr. Hunton was a witness to the names of the Indian chiefs, their signatures being a cross mark. Mr. Hunton remained at the fort till October, 1870. For several months while there he roomed with Jim Bridger, the famous guide and scout. In 1874 he established the S. O. Ranch and put in a herd of cattle at a point where the Overland Trail crossed the Box Elder, about twelve miles west of Fort Fetterman. This ranch passed through various hands till it was finally sold to Judge Carey and has since become one of the great farm and ranch establishments of the state.
At various times Mr. Hunton engaged in contracting with the Government for hay, wood and beef at Fort Laramie. Fort Fetterman and Fort McKinney, finally located a home ranch at Bordeaux and engaged extensively in the cattle business in that section. For several years "Hunton's," as the place was known then, being on the Fort Laramie and Black Hills Trail, accommodated travelers, stock men, cowboys, Black Hills gold hunters, soldiers and Government freighters with meals and supplies as a road station and stopping place.
Roving bands of Indians remained in that section till 1877, stealing stock and occasionally "sniping" a settler. While at Bordeaux, Mr. Hunton's brother James, was killed by the Indians. That was in 1876. About this time the road agents and horse thieves became numerous on the Black Hills road and the treasure coaches with their passengers were frequently held up and robbed. These were exciting times and the Cheyenne-Fort Laramie Road was the most frequented and best traveled route in the Mountain West.
In 1888 Mr. Hunton was appointed post trader at Fort Laramie succeeding John London. Fle held that position till the order was issued abandoning the fort, the last Government troops leaving the garrison April 20, 1890. The order of abandonment was issued in March, 1890, and shortly thereafter two public sales were made, one in March of the army material accumulated there, and one in April of the Government buildings. The reservation lands excepting forty acres where Mr. Hunton had his sutler's store, his residence and various other buildings he had erected at his own expense were thrown open to homestead settlement. A special act of Congress granted him the privilege of purchasing this forty acre tract at one dollar and a quarter per acre.
The reservation lands covered an area of six miles east and west by nine miles north and south, or fifty-four square miles. The best portion of this land was soon taken up by homestead settlements and Mr. Hunton by homesteading and purchase of choice land at the center of the post secured several hundred acres through which a canal was built making a beautiful ranch home with fertile lands and the picturesque scenes of his early life in Wyoming.
Mr. Hunton also acquired the Bullock Ranch, one of the most valuable ranches on Laramie River, which is now known as "Gray Rocks." In the meantime Mr. Hunton and his wife have made their home at Fort Laramie where all around them a rich agricultural region is being developed under the Interstate and Laramie canals recently constructed by the United States Reclamation Service, on each side of Platte River, from the Whalen Dam about five miles above Fort Laramie. Mr. Hunton has the distinction as an engineer, of individually making the original survey for the Whalen Dam and Canal System which became the basis of a Government reclamation project that cost over eleven million dollars, including the Nebraska canals.
He sold his survey notes, filings and water rights to Lingle & Company who began the construction, but they afterward sold to the United States Government which has completed here one of the great irrigation enterprises of the West with canals extending into Nebraska and watering one hundred thousand acres of land in Wyoming and much more in Nebraska.
Among other pioneers and builders of Wyoming who were contemporary with Mr. Hunton and often connected with him in business enterprises, were Colin Hunter, E. W. Whitcomb, H. B. Kelley, and Dan McUlvan. Hunter and Whitcomb have crossed the divide within the past two years, but Kelley and McUIvan are still living and in vigorous health at the time of this writing.
|E. W. WHITCOMB|
| E. W. Whitcomb came to Wyoming in i86S from New England. Being of a fearless and venturesome disposition he went out on the old California Trail where it crosses Horse Shoe Creek, east of the present Town of Glendo and started a trading station. About as soon as he got in his supplies, built his cabin, Slade's men robbed his store and burned up everything except a team and wagon he had up the creek. He then went to Box Elder Creek and settled there for several years along in the 70's. At one time Whitcomb and Hi Kelley went to Elk Mountain where a railroad supply and lumber camp had been established and engaged in business there. Afterward he took up a land claim on Crow Creek a few miles above Cheyenne. He also built a ranch on the Chugwater and engaged largely in the cattle business. Later he sold out his interests on the Chugwater and established ranches on the Belle Fourche.|
In the meantime he had built a fine residence at Cheyenne, where he made his home with his family. After reaching the age of eighty-five years he was killed by lightning while on a visit to his Belle Fourche Ranch. While living in Cheyenne he was elected one of the commissioners of Laramie County. He was a gentleman of ability and honor and in every respect a fine example of the character of our best pioneers.
|Many of the most sturdy and enterprising pioneers of Wyoming were Scotchmen. Robert Campbell, the great fur trader, made his headquarters at Fort Laramie. Colin Hunter came from Scotland in the early '60s and was first employed by the United States Government at Fort Jackson near the mouth of the Mississippi. From there he was transferred to Wyoming in 1866, going to Fort Laramie where he remained as a civilian employee of the Government till the fall of 1867. From Fort Laramie he went to Elk Mountain, where a busy lumber and tie camp had been established in connection with the building of the Union Pacific Railroad, remaining till the spring of 1870, when he went to Fort Laramie and engaged in hauling wood for John Hunton who had a contract to supply the fort. For several years he worked teams with a partner named Cush Abbott on Government contracts for hay and wood. About the year 1873 they bought one hundred head of cattle and started a ranch just above Chimney Rock on the Chugwater, in the meantime keeping their freight teams at work on Government contracts. In 1877 Mr. Hunter sold his teams to John Hunton and went to Montana to engage in the cattle business exclusively. Later he sold out his Montana holdings and came to Cheyenne to reside, but invested largely in the ranch and cattle business at various points in Wyoming. He bought the Horse Creek Ranch of Gordon & Campbell and went into partnership with John Hunton at the Bullock ranch on Laramie River. Mr. Hunter was a prominent leader in the democratic party of the state. He held many positions of public trust, including that of state senator. He died at Cheyenne August 30, 1916, at the age of sixty-eight years.|
|DANIEL MC ULVAN|
|What Dan McUlvan knows about the early days of Wyoming and won't tell, would fill a good sized volume. He lives in Cheyenne in the enjoyment of an ample fortune and while he enjoys the memory of those early days when he lived an open air life on the plains and in the mountains as a roustalsout. miner, tie-cutter, freighter, bridge-tender, etc., he keeps the enjoyment to himself and cannot be induced to talk for publication. From one of his old friends we learn that he came to Wyoming in 1865 and for sometime ran Bridger's Ferry at a crossing near what is now Orin Junction. In 1867, in company with a Mr. McFarlane, he was engaged in working a gold mine for Mr. Bullock on the Horseshoe in the Laramie Peak region, until the Indians drove them out and they were obliged to abandon the enterprise. The fights they had with the Indians and their narrow escapes would make an interesting story. From there he went to the tie camp at Elk Mountain and worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. Back to Fort Laramie in 1870, he engaged with McFarlane in putting in wood for Mr. Hunton, and afterward freighted goods for the Indian department. In 1872 he went into the cattle business establishing a ranch north of Chimney Rock, which was later purchased by Erasmus Nagle. About 1885, he went to Cheyenne and in company with Henry Altman organized the famous Hereford Ranch on Crow Creek a few miles east of Cheyenne, for the raising of high grade, pedigreed cattle. In this business he accumulated a fortune. Selling out his interest a few years ago he retired from business and enjoys a well earned rest while still in possession of vigorous health and an iron constitution gained in the sunshine and ozone of a Wyoming climate.|
|FRANK GROUARD THE FAMOUS SCOUT|
| The editor of this volume, while on a prospecting trip in the Laramie mountains with his sons in the summer of 1899, made the acquaintance of Frank Grouard. We camped near the beautiful Horse Shoe Park, where Grouard was in charge of a copper and lead mine. The evening we pitched our tent he came over and introduced himself and offered us the hospitalities of the camp. On our invitation he spent the evening with us smoking and swapping stories, but principally talking about the ores and mineral prospects in that vicinity. For the few days we were camped there we interchanged visits and took many meals together. A few-months later, Grouard made us a week's visit at our headquarters camp at Hartville and our acquaintance ripened into friendship.|
Grouard was one of the most interesting men that I have ever met, and had the most thrilling and adventurous life of any of the great scouts known to western history. He had lived six years among the Indians as the adopted brother of Sitting Bull, where he gained the respect and admiration of the whole Sioux tribe and visiting tribes, for his achievements as hunter and marksman, athletic powers and feats of dare-devil bravery. As a scout and Indian trailer he never had a superior, his endurance was wonderful, when on expeditions in pursuit of Indians he was always accurate and unerring in his knowledge of their location, and in his advice as to the best method of approaching and fighting them. Generals Sheridan, Crook, Merritt and other noted commanders have testified to Grouard's remarkable genius as a scout, and various correspondents and newspaper men like Gen. James S. Brisbin, Capt. John G. Bourke, Capt. Jack Crawford, John F. Finnerty, have been on expeditions with him and importuned him for the story of his life without success.
He was naturally reticent and as modest as he was brave. General Crook, in his correspondence with the war department in 1876, referring to Grouard and his valuable services, said: "I would sooner lose a third of my command than Frank Grouard."
His affection for, and confidence in, Grouard was reciprocated and they became firm and steadfast friends. During Grouard's stay in our camp at different times he overcame his reticence and told us many events of his life. His ancestors were French Huguenots who fled to America and settled near Portsmouth, N. H. His father was born there and at the age of twenty went to the South Sea Islands as a missionary and married there a native woman, daughter of a chief. Frank was the second son and was therefore half French and half Malay. As he seldom referred to his childhood, his companions generally thought him to be a full or part Indian. Indeed he might be mistaken for a full-blooded Sioux, except he was handsomer than any Indian. He was six feet in height, weighed two hundred and thirty pounds, had broad shoulders and a heavy growth of black hair. He was-straight and symmetrical, had handsome dark brown eyes. His habits were temperate so that he retained his strength, vigor and athletic powers at all times.
Frank's father brought his family to California where his wife left him and returned to the Islands. Frank was left in the family of Addison Pratt at Beaver, Utah. He ran away from the Pratts and got a job as bull-whacker, hauling freight from San Bernardino to Helena, Mont. This was in 1865 when he was about fifteen years of age. A few years later he got a job breaking horses for the Holliday Stage Company and soon after was put in the Pony Express service from Diamond City to Fort Hall on the Missouri River. On his fourth trip the Indians captured him. He was suddenly surrounded by twenty Blackfeet who pulled him off his horse and stripped him entirely naked and told him to go back. Then they began to lash him with quirts following him for several miles as he ran over a country covered with patches of cactus. He was not long in reaching Fort Hall, seventy miles away.
He was next put on the mail line from Fort Hall to Fort Peck at the mouth of Milk River. He was then a boy nineteen years of age. The Sioux were getting ugly and committing depredations throughout that region. It was winter time and while making a trip, going through a gulch in a snow storm, without thought of anyone being near he was suddenly hit on the back of the head and knocked from his horse. A band of Sioux warriors surrounded him and began to quarrel over him, as to who should have his guns, his fur coat, gloves and leggings. During the quarrel another Indian rode up. He seemed to have great authority. He stopped the quarrel and knocked down the one who had taken the rifle. He then took Grouard to the Indian Village. During the three days travel before reaching the hostile camp he learned that his captor was the famous Indian Chief, "Sitting Bull," who, on arriving took Grouard to his own tent and motioned him to sit down on a pile of buffalo robes. He fell asleep from pure exhaustion, although he fully expected to be tortured and killed very soon. While he slept the Indians held a council to decide his fate. Chiefs Gall and No-Neck declared for his immediate execution and they had a majority of the tribe with them. Sitting Bull almost alone refused to consent to Grouard's death and he declared he would make him his "brother." His public adoption into Sitting Bull's family saved him from a cruel death. The chief had taken a great fancy to Grouard, named him "Standing Bear," and called him brother. The name, Standing Bear, was soon known to all the surrounding tribes. This name was given him because when captured he wore a heavy fur coat, fur leggings, cap and gloves, and was so bundled up, prepared for the storm, that he resembled a bear.
He lived with Sitting Bull for six years, during which time he became thoroughly acquainted with their language and traditions, their manners and customs in war and peace and he so excelled the best of them in athletic exercises, markmanship, running and wrestling that he was looked upon with superstitious fear as a superior being. He studied and made notes of the legends and mythology of the Sioux tribes and had prepared a very complete history which was destroyed in a fire which burned his residence near Buffalo, Wyo.
He described the torture test he had to undergo as a Sioux warrior. All the village was assembled. He was taken by four chiefs and stripped naked. His flesh was raised by pricking him with needles. Pieces about the size of a pea were cut out with sharp knives, from each arm, in all over four hundred pieces. They pulled out his eyebrows and eyelashes one by one. They set fire to pieces of the pith of the sunflower which burned like punk, and held them against his wrist until they bumed out. Although he endured untold agony he did not flinch and gave no sign of his distress. The ceremonies lasted four hours and he was declared a good Indian. Then he was put through the "sweat" as a sort of a healing process. During the latter part of his captivity he was entrusted with peace negotiations and on account of Sitting Bull breaking his agreement with him and the whites he determined to give up his Indian life.
For a long time he had been allowed his freedom and on one trip he went to visit a white friend on Snake River, Neb. An expedition against the Indians was being organized. Orders were sent out for scouts who knew the country and he was persuaded to go to the camp where the troops were gathered. They told him to go and see General Crook, who was then at Fort Laramie, ninety miles away. He started at night and reached there the next morning. Crook questioned him very closely about the chance of getting at the Indians, engaged him as a scout at $125 a month, and they went back to the Red Cloud Agency. They went on an expedition to Tongue River and camped at the present site of Dayton. Here he assisted in making a treaty with Crazy Horse, for which service the Government paid him $500. It was three months before he could talk good English. During this period he wore Indian costume and long hair and to all appearances was a genuine Indian. He then had his hair cut and adopted a white man's dress and customs.
After that he was made chief of scouts and accompanied General Crook on his various expeditions, and was also with General MacKenzie, General Merritt and General Sheridan at different periods. He was with Crook's command in the campaign which resulted in the Custer massacre, was on the Custer battlefield the next morning after the fight and saw the bodies of the newly slain men. Grouard says Custer must have killed himself as his body was not harmed. The Indians will not touch the body of a suicide. He rode around their villages and estimated that they had nine thousand fighting men. He was with Merritt in the Nez Perce campaign, took a prominent part in suppressing the ghost dance and Messiah outbreaks at the Pine Ridge Agency, and made all the plans for the arrest of Sitting Bull which practically ended the Indian troubles of that time.
He was given a life position by the United States Government with a good salary whether on duty or not, but he was too proud to accept pay when he was rendering no service, and early in the '90s resigned and went into business for himself. He settled near Buffalo, Wyo., engaged in ranching and mining and while employed in the latter occupation we made his acquaintance. The details of his life and adventures have been told in an interesting volume written by Joe De Barth, a well known writer and newspaper man of Buffalo where Grouard spent his later years.
| The name of Sacajawea, enrolled as a pathfinder on the pages of the early history of the Northwest, has given an added lustre to the womanhood of the Indian race. A bill was introduced in the Wyoming Legislature in February, 1907, appropriating $500 to mark the grave of this remarkable Indian girl, who with singular fidelity, keen insight and unsurpassed endurance and bravery, guided the Lewis and Clark expedition across the western continent to the Pacific coast. The same year the North Dakota Legislature appropriated $15,000 for a foundation and pedestal upon which to erect a statue in her honor to be erected at Bismarck, the design to be made by Leonard Crunille. There is also a project being undertaken in Montana to erect a monument to Sacajawea at Three Forks. It is a fine thing even after more than a hundred years have elapsed that the busy, money-making people of this generation have at last begun to recognize the greatness of her achievement and desire to do honor to her memory.|
Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, of the Wyoming State University, in her very interesting account of Sacajawea's services, says: "It was an epoch-making journey, a journey that moved the world along; that pushed the boundary of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific; that gave us the breadth of the hemisphere from ocean to ocean; the command of its rivers and harbors; the wealth of the mountains, plains and valleys—a domain rich enough for the ambition of kings."
Sacajawea was a Shoshone Indian girl, the wife of Toissant Charbonneau. She was engaged as guide by Lewis and Clark when they reached the Mandan Indian village where she resided. Her husband, Charbonneau was first employed as an interpreter. He had two wives, the youngest being Sacajawea, who was sold to him as a slave when about fourteen years old. The following year, 1805, she gave birth to a child and this child she took with her on the long journey, strapped to her back. The babe grew up to become a skilled guide and scout and was known as "Baptiste." Before this time Sacajawea had been a captive for five years and had accompanied her captors over much of the ground over which tlie expedition went, and so by her knowledge and natural instinct in selecting trails she led the explorers on their way. That summer the party camped on the exact spot, at the junction of the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin rivers, where as a child captive she had camped and played years before. She was the one who found the pass through the mountains and saved the party from long wanderings in an unknown wilderness.
Many dramatic incidents attended the trip. On one occasion when crossing a swollen stream one of their boats containing their valuable records was overturned and the records were floating away when she plunged into the dangerous stream and rescued the papers before they sank. On another occasion she found a brother who had been separated from the family many years had become an Indian chief. Neither recognized the other until the family relations were explained when they had a most affectionate reunion. The brother gave much assistance to the party in purchasing horses and supplies. She even assisted her husband in interpreting as she knew some Indian dialects better than he did. When starvation threatened them she collected artichokes and other nutritious plants and seeds which kept them alive till they reached places where better food could be had.
Lewis and Clark reached the coast December 7, 1805, and remained till March, 1806, when they began to retrace their journey to Mandan which they reached in August. Referring to Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark's Journal says;
"We found Charbonneau's wife particularly useful. Indeed she endured with a patience truly admirable the fatigues of so long a route incumbered with an infant now only nineteen months old. She was very observant, remembering locations not seen since her childhood.
"In trouble she was full of resources, plucky and determined. With her helpless infant she rode with the men, guiding us unerringly through mountain passes and lonely places. Intelligent, cheerful, resourceful, tireless and faithful, she inspired us all."
No better eulogium could be written of her personal character of the great service she rendered not only to the explorers but through them to our country. Her name is said to be derived from Sac, a canoe or raft, a—the, jawea, launcher— a launcher or paddler of canoes.
She was short of stature and was handsome in her girlhood days. She spoke French as well as several Indian tongues. She lived to a great age and during her whole life was wonderfully active and intelligent. She died at the Shoshone Agency near Lander, April 9, 1884, and was buried in the burial ground of the agency where her grave was marked by a small slab. The grave has been identified by her children and grandchildren, a fact ascertained and certified to, by Rev. John Roberts, who was a missionary at the reservation from 1883 to 1906. If the State of Wyoming ever becomes mindful of its patriotic and historic obligations it will erect a fitting memorial monument to Sacajawea, the brave pathfinding Indian girl, and also one to Chief Washakie, the greatest of Indian warriors and statesmen.
|CASPAR COLLINS, THE HERO OF OLD PLATTE BRIDGE|
| The management of the State Industrial Convention held at Casper in September, 1905, offered a prize for the best poem on Caspar Collins. The award was made to I. S. Bartlett of Cheyenne, who contributed the following:|
|LUKE VOORHEES AND EARLY STAGE COACH DAYS|
| No story of the frontier days of Wyoming and the Mountain West would be complete without a sketch of the life and experiences of Luke Voorhees, now receiver of the United States land office at Cheyenne. Probably no man living could give such a rich store of personal experiences and adventures pertaining to the pioneer days of the western wilderness.|
He was bom at Belvidere, N. J., November 29, 1838, and the next year his parents moved to Michigan where he lived till 1857. On March lOth of that year, his spirit of adventure and thirst for "the wild," led him to start for Leavenworth, Kan., as he expresses it, "to hunt buffalo, scalp Indians and get a piece of land to farm."
He first reached Wyoming in October, 1859, passing over what is now Cheyenne nearly eight years before the town came into existence. In a recent edition of the Cheyenne Leader, Mr. Voorhees gives a history of the Overland Stage Company, organized in 1857, which is replete with thrilling incidents. The main historical facts are given elsewhere in this work. Speaking of the perils they encountered, he relates the following incidents:
|A BLACK FACE SKINNED|
| In March, 1862, as if every Indian in the country had been especially instructed (the Shoshones and Bannocks in the western mountains and the Sioux on the plains), simultaneously pounced upon every station between Bridger's Ferry and Bear River (about where Evanston, Wyo., now stands). They captured the horses and mules on that division of the Overland route. The stages, passengers, and express were left standing at stations. The Indians did not, on that raid, kill anyone except at Split Rock on the Sweetwater. Holliday being a little stylish had brought out from Pennsylvania a colored man who had been raised in that state and who could only talk Pennsylvania Dutch. The Indians when they reached Split Rock called on Black Face, as they called him, to make heap biscuit, heap coff (meaning coffee), heap shug. Black Face said, nix come roush. They then spoke to Black Face in Mexican. The colored man shook his head and said, nixey. Whereupon they tried a little French half-breed talk. Black Face again said "nix fershta." In the meantime the colored man seemed about to collapse. Things looked serious for him. After a consultation they concluded to skin him alive and get heap rawhide. Then they said heap shoot. So they killed the poor fellow, helped themselves to the grub and left.|
In the year 1857, Mr. Voorhees made the trip from Lawrence, Kan., up the Kansas River to the confluence of the Smoky Hill and Republican and thence west on the plains about one hundred and fifty miles, on a buffalo hunt, and later in 1859, made a trip up the Arkansas River via Bent's Old Fort to "Pikes Peak or bust," camped where Denver now stands and went over the country from the South Platte to Pawnee Buttes. On this trip he saw buffalo herds covering the plains for 200 miles and he says that the word "millions" would not express their number. He saw one of the greatest herds in the vicinity of Pine Bluffs, about forty miles east of Cheyenne, now the Golden Prairie district, where many dry farmers are getting rich raising wheat, oats and live stock. He also on this trip passed over the present site of Cheyenne. His early recollections of the city which are very interesting appear in other parts of this history. One incident is mentioned of a
|NOVEL WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT|
|An important occurrence was the advent of a velocipede on January 23, 1868, which the cowboys named a two-wheeled jackrabbit. About the same time a rather impromptu wedding occurred and it was announced in the Leader in this way: "On the east half of the northwest quarter of section twenty-two (22). township twenty-one (21), north of range eleven (11) east, in an open sleigh and under open and unclouded canopy by the Rev. J. F. Mason, James B., only son of John Cox of Colorado, and Ellen C. eldest daughter of Major O. Harrington of Nebraska."|
| Speaking of the depredations of the Indians and the hold-ups by the road agents on the Overland route from 1861 to 1867, Mr. Voorhees refers as follows to one trip made by Ben HoUiday and his wife: "In June, 1863, Ben Holliday concluded to make a personal trip over the line with Mrs. Holliday from Sacramento, Cal., to Atchison, Kan. He telegraphed his intention to do so, with strict orders that no one but the division superintendents should know of his trip at that time but to have extra horses at the relay stations so as to make record time. He desired the utmost secrecy for the reason that he was taking $40,000 in gold with him to New York (gold at that time being worth $2.40 in greenbacks). He had a false bottom securely built in the coach where he packed the gold, so that should he be held up, no road agent would suspect the money being in any other place than the treasure box which was always carried in the front boot of the stage. The United States mail was carried in the hind boot.|
"At that date it was a rare thing to have any of the Overland stages held up by any one but the Indians. However, on this special trip of Ben Holliday it really happened. For between Green River stage station and Salt Wells on Bitter Creek, Wyoming, three men suddenly sprang from a ravine, each armed with a double-barreled shotgun and two dragoon revolvers, calling to the drivers to halt, which order was quickly obeyed. The road agents ordered all passengers–'hands up high!' On seeing a lady passenger in the coach they said she need not get out as they (the robbers) were gentlemen of the first water and never molested a lady. But they warned Mr. Holliday to keep his hands above his head. During the search through the treasure box and mail, Ben Holliday's heavy, bristly mustache began tickling his nose. It became so acute and unbearable that he finally made a move to scratch it. Instantly the road agent ordered his hands up high. 'My God!' said Ben, 'I must scratch my nose, I can't stand it.' 'You keep your hands up where I told you,' said the agent, 'I will attend to the nose business.' So he proceeded to rub Ben's nose with the muzzle of the shotgun. Thus relieved he held up his hands until the search was finished.
However, the false bottom in the coach was a success for it saved the gold which Mr. Holliday carried safely through to New York where he changed it into greenbacks clearing the handsome sum of $56,000.
|SALT LAKE CITY INCIDENTS|
| During the winter of 1866, Mr. Voorhees made a trip by stage from the gold camp (now Helena), Montana, to Salt Lake City. At that time he had been gold placer mining for three years in various camps in the Northwest and had about two hundred pounds of gold dust which he took to an assay office to be run into ingots and sold for currency, gold being worth then about $2.40 in greenbacks. It was there he met a notorious western character known as "Yeast Powder Bill" who claimed to be a partner of Sam Clemens (Mark Twain). He said he and Sam had been prospecting together for silver in Nevada, that Clemens claimed to be a pilot (sagebrush pilot) but they had got lost, which proved he was no good and he had quit him.|
After he had got cleaned up, "Yeast Powder" started for a drink. "They brew a native drink out of wheat and potatoes called 'valley tan.' I never tried it but those who did said it was the stuff. It would make a man fight a Sierra grizzly bear or his grandmother. Bill bought one drink for fifty cents and it created such an increase in his estimate of the mines that he and Clemens didn't discover, that he bought another. The world looked brighter after taking the second drink and he wanted a square meal.
"He was directed to Salt Lake House. Bill laid off his belt and two navy revolvers so he could eat comfortably. The landlord said the dinner was $3, pay in advance. Yeast Powder said it seemed steep but he always tried to play the game to the limit so he paid the $3 and entered the dining room. The menu was not a printed one, but verbal. Little Mollie, the waitress, or head waiter, was a very good looking little English (Mormon) girl. Bill told her to call the roll for $3 worth of grub, as he wanted to chaw worse than a California grizzly wanted to chaw a Digger Indian. Mollie called over the grub as she thought of it. She said 'carrots, biled beef, cabbage, taters, turnips, tea, hog meat and beans (Brigham cautioned his people to say hog meat, not pork), dried apple pie, stewed calves' liver and curlew.' 'Curlew! what the hell is curlew?" asked Bill. Mollie said it was a bird that could fly away up and whistle. Well, Bill said, any d——d thing that could fly and whistle and would stay in this country, he did not want to tackle, so he took tea, hog meat and beans, taters, calves' liver and dried apple pie."
Among Mr. Voorhees' thrilling experiences with Indians and stage robbers, were the incidents connected with his starting and managing the Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage Line. He organized the company in February, 1876, and soon had stages running. At that time the wonderful stories of the rich gold placers of the Black Hills caused a stampede to the Hills, most of the rush being by way of Cheyenne. The magnitude of the enterprise of running a stage line to say nothing of its dangers, is shown by his first orders for equipment of thirty Concord coaches and 600 head of horses. The line was kept up till 1882, and the hair-raising experiences with Indians and stage robbers during that time, could fill a volume. He had seven stage drivers killed by stage robbers and Sioux Indians.
On giving up the stage line business Mr. Voorhees engaged extensively in the cattle business and has made Cheyenne his home. He has occupied the position of state treasurer and other prominent official positions and is enjoying a green old age, in robust health and active life, loved and respected by all.
|STORIES OF A FRONTIER PREACHER|
| The following stories are told by Rev. W. B. D. Gray, who was one of the early missionaries to Wyoming. His biography which appears in another part of this history is replete in thrilling incidents and scenes of pioneer days. Mr. Gray is something of a sportsman, using the term in its best sense. He is one of the best riflemen in the state, and he attained distinction before coming to Wyoming, as a bowman, having won several prizes at National Archery Tournaments as the best shot at different distances. He is six feet and one inch in height, straight as an Indian and weighs 230 pounds. Many a ranchman in Wyoming and South Dakota has been provided with venison as a resuh of the preacher's rifle practice.|
The character of the material out of which the nervy, self-reliant men and women of the mountain and plateaus of our great Northwest are made, is shown in the unusual brightness of the children born and reared in the high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains, of which the men and women are the finished product. This is well illustrated by the following incident:
In a little frontier village, nestling close under one of the mighty Rocky Mountain ranges, down which, through a picturesque canyon, came rushing and tumbling a beautiful stream, a Christian lady gathered the children on Sunday afternoons to tell Bible stories and impart to their eager ears some instruction from the Holy Book. One Sunday she told the story of the Good Samaritan, in which the children were very much interested. The next Sunday she asked them if they could remember what the last lesson was about. Hands went up in all directions. In front of her sat a little boy, who, in his eagerness, rose to his feet, holding up both hands–
"I know, ma'am; I know all about it. It was "The Hold-up in Jericho Canyon."
"No! no! Johnnie," replied the teacher; "it was a Bible story that I told you."
"Yes, ma'am! I know it; I can tell the kids." So Johnnie stood up and told the story.
"Why, ma'am," he said, "a chap was goin' up the canyon and some fellers came out of the brush and slugged him, put him to sleep, took away his wad, and left him lying in the trail all covered with blood and dirt. Pretty soon, a doctor feller came along and when he saw him, he said, 'He ain't none of my medicine,' and hit the trail and went up the canyon.
"Then a preacher feller came along, and he saw him, and said, I ain't goin' to monkey with him,' and he hit the trail and followed the doctor.
"Then a cowboy came along on his bronc; just a good, honest cowboy. When he saw him, he lit off and felt him. He wa'n't dead! He looked again. They'd got his wad and left him sure in bad shape. So he pulled off his wipe, rubbed the blood off the feller's face, picked him up and put him on the bronc and took him up the trail till he came to a road house. Then he called out, 'Hi, Bill! Come out here; here's a chap I found down the canyon. They've slugged him, got his wad, and left him in bad shape. You must take him in and take care of him. Here's my wad and if there ain't enough to pay you, when I come back from the round-up, I'll bring you some more.' "
It was in a region of the Northwestern country unsurpassed for beauty and magnificence of scenery. The afternoon's sun was slowly sinking behind the mountains, when suddenly upon the summit of one of the foothills appeared two horsemen, their figures strongly outlined against the evening sky. As they stood there the strokes of an ax could be distinctly heard coming from a bunch of timber in a bend of the stream below. Evidently the sound attracted the attention of the quondam trappers, for after securing their horses in a dense thicket they made their way noiselessly to a point where a good view of the opposite bank could be had.
Before them lay a secluded plateau almost hidden by the heavy timber surrounding it. Close to its edge a band of rough-looking men were busily engaged in felling trees and building a long, low cabin and stable of heavy logs. Near by, almost hidden by underbrush, could be seen an opening into a cave of no mean proportions, to which the men could retreat in case of necessity. Tied to trees were a number of horses saddled and bridled for instant use, and the ever ready "Winchesters" were close at hand. This was the James' gang.
"Thar's my game by all that's lovely," whispered Bill. "Now that I've run 'em down, let's get out of here."
As the shadows of a moonless night fell upon mountain and plain the two men might be seen cooking their supper over a camp fire. The younger of the two, evidently the leader, was a man of medium size, with a mass of long, curly, brown hair, black eyes and a pleasant face, dressed in a suit of buckskin, with a soft felt hat placed jauntily upon his head. About his waist was a belt full of cartridges, to which was suspended a bowie knife and revolver of large size, while by his side lay a rifle that showed signs of wear.
His companion, larger in size and less attractive in feature, was similarly armed. The former, though scarcely thirty years of age, was a gtiide already known and respected in the Rocky Mountain country, going by the cognomen of "Young Bill." His known honesty and bravery had long before attracted the attention of those whose business it was to hunt down criminals, and of late he had added to his profession that of "detective"; though it was not known to any except those who employed him. When the hastily prepared supper was disposed of and all traces of the fire obliterated, the elder man said to his companion:
"Wall, Bill, I don't know what yer plans ar', but this ere is gettin' too uncomfortably hot to suit me, and I'm goin' to pull over the divide and hunt more congenial companions. If ye want ter gather in that James gang lone-handed, all right; but as fer me, I prefer to trap varmints which have more 'fur' and less 'fire'."
The hand of the younger man dropped naturally and suggestively to his belt as he softly replied: "Ye'll stay where ye be and help build me a cabin and start a ranch alongside my game, and then ye can get out as soon as ye please. I ain't afeared to play this game lone-handed if I know myself."
Two years elapsed. The cabin the road agents built and occupied as their northern retreat when hard pressed by the officers of the law still stands, but thanks to "Bill" and other daring officers, the gang is broken up. Upon the same plateau stood the detective's cabin and near it a "dugout" in which he spent his nights while hunting down the road agents. Midway between the two cabins a prosperous town has sprtmg up, comprising a hotel, blacksmith shop, two saloons, and several dwellings known as "Black Canon City."
It was a beautiful day; our friend, the detective, was just finishing his noonday meal when the sound of a horse's footfall broke the stillness, followed by the usual announcement of an arrival: "Hello, inside.'' "Hello, yourself," came the quick response.
"Is this town Black Canon City?"
"You bet it are, stranger."
"Do you have any preaching hereabouts ?"
"I'm a preacher and would like to make an appointment if it is agreeable to the citizens of this growing berg."
"See here, mister, I don't know how much nerve ye've got, or how preachin' will take, but I like yer spirit and I'll back ye in this thing; and when 'Bill' backs a feller he don't have no trouble and the thing goes. Get down and rest yer saddle while yer eat."
When the physical necessities of the preacher had been met the detective continued: "I haint got much of a cabin, ye see, but it's about as big as any in the town; so if ye can get along with the dirt floor ye can preach here and I'll rustle ye up a crowd."
Thus began a work for the Master in one of the outposts of the Rocky Mountain districts. Later in the season a Sunday School was started in the same cabin, to be removed afterward to a little log schoolhouse which the settlers built. When the day arrived for the removal of the Sunday School from the detective's cabin, a friend of the enterprise went to one of the saloons and spoke thus:
"See here, fellers, the people of this 'ere camp ar' goin' to start a Sunday School today over in the school house. They are goin' over now; money's scarce with them and I propose we give "em a boost."
"That's the talk," said the saloon keeper, "and this 'ere shop is goin' to close until that ar' thing is over: we'll all go acrost and give 'em a starter; but mind ye, boys, nothin' smaller than 'cartwheels' (dollars) go into the hat today."
The other saloon would not be outdone. As a result it was a "goodly" if not "Godly" crowd which filled the rear seats of the little log schoolhouse, and the Sunday School had more money that afternoon than ever before in its history.
From these beginnings, and this Sunday School, sprang a Congregational Church which has had much to do with shaping the character of the town and nearby country. The detective still lives, honored and respected; his cabin has been destroyed, but the entrance to both his and the James brothers' caves can still be seen. The old preacher has gone to his eternal reward.
|THE COWBOY'S PRAYER|