Yellowstone Genealogy Forum


Paul McCormick Letters to Senator Power



Friday, February 20, 2004

Portions of some relevant letters written by Paul McCormick are summarized herein to help explain when he relocated from Junction city to Billings (March 1893); and to describe some of his business dealings. The letters are extracted from: Senator Power’s collection held at Helena, Montana storage boxes numbered:

 381-4              Crow Treaty deals and Big Horn Southern Railroad stoppage in Montana

1-2                   Custer Storage Warehouse

27-23               Big Horn Southern and B&M Planned Routes and business dealings

8-21                 Stock Cattle Needs and Reservation Concerns

After Junction City operations were closed after May 1894, it appears that this was the end of that townsite. Shortly afterwards it was reported that the land was void of buildings.

Date of Letter

Sent from Where?


Subject Matter


Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Going to Pine Ridge; Reply to Jan 2 ltr, After review of efforts done by me on the Crow Reservation re: the Big Horn Southern. According to the Sheridan paper of the 10th, grading has stopped 75 miles east of  Buffalo. Congress needs to change the route from 40-Mile Ranch or Fort Custer to Billings! The Crows agree to the correction at no cost. Individual allotments of land payments have to be settled before laying of line. This will be $3.00 per acre, except through the Custer Military reservation. Road can be built in three months. I am sorry that the right-of-way doesn’t suit you, but I’ve done my very best. Surveyors are filing map of locations for B&M between Helena and Castle and a new company was formed to build the road. No president of Big Horn Railroad was accomplished but directors were appointed. They will elect their president.  The Livingston & Castle Mail Line can be made a good one, should NPR not construct a line to that camp.


If the Crow Indians wishes are ignored there will be trouble. If Mr. Noble allows Mr. Stony to destroy their range reservation, crops, fences etal, there will probably be a war path. Please keep me informed about the ratification with the Crows. Did Senator Sanders write a letter to the Secretary of Commissions for stony?


Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Should you believe that NPR will not build a road between Livingston and Castle for a few years, I believe it will be an excellent line. Now it only operates weekly. A petition was prepared requesting daily service. Daily service has been rejected as they are busy having daily service between Townsend and Castle. I will place a bid fore the mail contract between Livingston and Castle.


Find out what the Secretary of the Interior will do about grazing on the Crow Reservation. Inspector [Cisney’s] report should be filed there and acted upon.


Junction City

E. D. Bannister

Money advanced for Big Horn Southern RR expense were from Paul’s personal account, and the funds haven’t been repaid as promised, and a loan note is due.


Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Please send me all you know about work in North Port [sp] next year. Pay no attention to the affidavits being sent to Washington to prevent ratification of the Crow Treaty. They were created by “Squaw men” and others acting for personal gain and are not worthy of Mr. Dole’s attention. Your efforts will expose Mr. Browne and Mr. McNamara and their methods. The Sector Hay contract at Custer last year was the straw bid of Broadwater McNamara. An investigation will show the plans.


Plans are that invitations for bids would include Beef Contracts at different agencies. This would place more cattle on the reservation than allowed, but I need to hear from the Agent, same for sheep. “Rotten as Hell for seat of government on this question. Mr. Stony tried to buy Wyman, and when he could not do that bought someone down there. I hope you can have Cisney called in before Congress adjourns, and have you talk with him.” If you believe the Agent is the man to speak for the Indians, I wish you could see the letters sent to him after asking for assistance. They were replied to like this: “…put order of Secretary in execution or a rigid _____ will be applied. Your letters and telegrams are unsatisfactory to this office.” This does not look well,  if this grazing matter is not settled as the Indians request, … will charge the Honorable secretary with not carrying out the Treaty of 1882, and I know all about this matter. If Mr. Story’s cattle are not removed from the range in the spring (as understood) Mr. Mill will make a fight that someone high in office at Washington and someone from Montana had never been born. Someone in power will be in an awkward position. The Agent, Inspector and Commissioners who were here are all on our side. See why we are being over-ridden?


Custer Station

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Your information concerning Pease’s amendment to Crow Ratification makes no differences as to what form the baill takes to pass. If anything happens to the Senate amendment that will prevent passage will be very bad work. Do not allow anything to delay the completion of the liquidation! Will write the Crow Agent today in regard to blankets for the Indians. Blankets now received are worth nothing. The Indians sell them for $1.50 to $.50 a piece. Severe cold and about 10 inches of snow, 8 below. You shouldn’t return to Montana until the weather moderates. Hope you get the ratification through.


Junction City

Senator Power, Chicago, IL

Received Mr. Courtney’s Cattle correspondence and noted. Appears to be a stronger feeling among the owners. The Batch & Bacon herds of about 3,500 head ranging on the Musselshell 40 miles from here are for sale. Owners live in Cheyenne. Good herd and be bought cheap. Bear in mind that 4-year old steers are a mixed herd and very short [in supply] this year. Billings Cattle range about 100 miles to the southwest of us in Greybull. Indian beef should bring $1.25 more than last year. I will try to get option on bunch of cattle you suggested. Hoskins & McGirl have good cattle. I will meet Mr. [Trace] in St. Paul on Monday. He will be able to fix the grazing matter unless the department “closes their ears.”


Junction City

Senator Power, Chicago, Il

Mr. Raymond did not want 4-month lease, but 6-months straight. I destroyed the 4-month note you signed and submit to you a 6-month one.


Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Best thing to do to shut “B.” out is for John H. Charles to go [to] Chief Quartermaster Furey at St. Paul and explain his failure on hay two years ago. Furey will state his case to War Department. Will write to Hugo Reed, but afraid to put too much on paper. I still feel ill. Medicine stopped my murmur too quick and dropped cold to lungs – bad medicine!


Junction City

Senator Power, Helena

Brown hay bid: 1000 tons at $15.97; balance at $17.73.

Hoffman bid: 500 tons at $17.33. This gives it to Hoffmans. Am goin to Crow Agency today.


Junction City

Senator Power, Helena

Will be ready to ship train of cattle on 27th, arrive Chicago Tuesday. Ox Yoke sold for $4.25, weighed 1,422 & 1,435 #’s. These were prime steers.

When bidding on Prime Beef in NY, Mr. Murphy and me agreed that I could turn in contract at Crow Agency “anything that I desired out of the 7-7 herd at contract prices.” I will come up on 28th. Big Horn southern men “all in line.” Talked with Mr. Johnson about the Crow cow bidding, he thought best to not ne in correspondence on such matters. This puts Ox Yoke in good shape. B&M will talk with Indians about right-of-way this Saturday. Will give matter attention.


Junction City

Senator Power, Helena

Ox Yolk and 7-7 will make last shipment on 2 November. About 20 cars Ox Yoke and 12 cars 7-7. will go to Livingston in two days. In November will know how much Crow beef is short. Matt Murphy probably can fill from Piney Ranch, oly 100 miles away. He is delivering 400,000#’s now. He may want more money.


Junction City

Senator Power, Helena

Enclosed letter from C. T. Babcock, Crow Trader at Crow Agency. Hope you can prevent appointment of Campbell.


Major Wyman reports that B&M surveyors were at agency in connection with right-of-way. Advised them to go to Big Horn Southern to assure that Indians would give consent. Say they want to cross Yellowstone about Pompey’s Pillar. Don’t worry, Billings Times does not amount to anything, it is Marcus Daly’s Democratic paper. We all would like to see the strip open for settlement. I will sent to Washington a memorandum of all matters I desire for you to pay attention..


Grazing on Reservation was fixed up satisfactory to all concerned. Agreement will be forwarded in a few days. I asked Mr. Johnso to take care of the $10,000 note due December 4th at the National Bank of Commerce in Minneapolis. We have over $11,000 in the American National.






Junction city

Senator Power, Washington, DC

The Fort Custer canteen, operated by the military is selling goods to civilians, within a building owned by the government. This is destrorynig the legitimate merchantile business in this section of the country. They must stop selling to civilians. Wish you would call the attention of the proper authority to operte the Canteen as intended.


Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Henry Keiser is indebted to us for over $3,000 [for this work.] We are anxious that Mr. Graves makes settlement with him without delay. I believe “Graves is trying to freeze out Keiser so that he and his confererates can clean up without being bothered by Indians or whites who are inter-married with them as provided by treaty under which the work is being done.” The money has been appropriated to carry out the work, and there should be no reason why it is not available, unless Mr. Graves is not competent to make the disbursement!


The construction costs for a warehouse at Custer Station or Huntley was made a year ago by the Agent at Crow Agency, and nothing has been heard since. Induce the Honorable Commissioner to order these buildings be constructed at once. The Custer Forwarding Warehouse is nearly usless. A 30-day notice to start construction is required.


I have quite a few “beef vouchers” in the hand of Clum & Dingman. Rush payment.






Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Have your letter of the 17th, glad the matter is taking favorable shape. For the land option I understand that if the line [B&M] crosses the NPR at clearmont, it will cross the Yellowstone 14 miles east of Billings. There are no settlers and the land is owned by the Government and NPR. If the B&M [goes] back to Billings from Alkali Creek there is only one claim between the main line and Billings. I will go to where the line crosses the river and see what kind of place it is. There will be a chance to make some money in advance of public knowledge.


From the Sheridan Post surveyors are sent from Goose Creek to the Reservation, indicating that the route across Montana has been abandoned. The Billings paper has information on Big Horn Southern. Weather fine.


Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Until I know which route the B&M will use land options are on hold. In case theroute crossing the NPR below Huntley is adopted, then the line will cross Pryor higher up and will come in on the south side of town. We must get inside this railroad deal, and will do nothing until I hear from you. If the line crosses at Fort Custer and we are sure that it will be built in time to fill, some money can be made on the contracts. Furnishing of ties, pilings and lumber can be handled on the Reservation in case they will give us the entire contract. Money can be made on this. If they give us the exact location of their line into Billings, we can make money on lands here, but the matter cannot be delayed for too long. Yourself, Bannister and Seligman can put me in on a footing to make some money out of it. I don’t know if the Indicans will go along with me, but I know I can skeep them from doing what someone else wants them to do.


See why Graves does not settle with Keiser for work done on the ditch, Keiser owes us money for this work.


Cold here and rough on cattle (-20.) If cold continues the beef sale will be unprofitable. The Department has paid for October Crow beef, still owe for Nov, Dec and Jan. Ask that Dingman rush payment.


What is prospect of getting legislation on the B&M business?


Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Your letter of 11th received. Will make out bill for Big Horn Southern before final settlement with B&M. Understand I am to consult no one, except yourself or Mr. Weare as to negotiations with Indians. I will see Mr Keiser as to what Mr. Graves says about his work & pay. Cattle in excellent condition. Mr Haynie says no danger to our range. Am feeding Bull mountain Ranch with 800 calves weaned last fall. Lost 15 head of drag end – froze to death in January. Have enough hay to 1st of March, plenty in Billings. Cattle in Judith and country north of Missouri River will fare badly.


Can’t say anything about land office here, everyone is lobbying at Helena to place prison in Billings. I have no faith in the measure. Will see Foster and Whitney soon as they return. So much money has been raised for the prison, I think they can’t get any more. I want to see you before I make out the Bih Horn southern bill.


Junction City

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Received letter of 22nd. Murphy plans to go to Idaho to buy steers, I plan to go along and get 2,000 two-year olds to place where I said last year, [okay?]. Now is the time to make money on steers; there is nearly 2,000,000 less steers in the US than one year ago. We have not had a loss on the ranch. Hope you write soon as this proposition.


Major Pease and Plenty Coos [Coups] will go to Washington to discuss practical way to build ditches on reservation in compliance with treaty.


Hope is that B&M will construct road this spring. Wyoming papers state that they are building bridge over Tongue River, I want to get the contract to build the road across the Reservation. Peter Larson is the man to go with should we get the contract. I will leave this matter in your hands. I will be on the range, and will rport findings. I expect to be in St. Paul 10th April for wagon transportation letting.


Crow Agency

Senator Power, Washington, DC

According to Helena Independent all legislation needed for the B&M to enter Montana was completed. They will soon move to get Indian consent. Hope you get the inside as to when they will cross the NPR. I can get the Indian’s consent. The company (B&M) will have to be frank with me. Write when it will be necessary to make complete statement for settlement with B&M. Want to [bill] such as time and team, including going to Agency on RR business. They should give us some inside that doesn’t injure them. I am afraid now that a large company is known in the deal, everybody will probably be on the matter. As far as Indian consent, “weather the rumors.”


Billings (Relocated from Junction City)

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Reply to 7th letter. Matt didn’t get the cow business fixed this session, we will have to wait!


Enclosed are two notes for $10,000 and $5,000 undated. No hurry about money in case steers are purchased will not be paid until delivery.


Need to see you before making statement [invoice] for B&M people. No word from Bannister. Will there be a change in Indian Agents before their term expires. The B&M surveyors are running a line from a point near Huntley along the north side of the Yellowstone. Looks like they intend to cross the Reservation by Fort Custer, and run a direct route to Billings. I hope to have the Indians change the route.


Junction City (Custer Cattle Co Location)

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Reply to 21st letter. I sent $50 to Col. Bannister, which I paid Henry Keiser. He returned the order to me, with remark he had no money. This was paid to Keiser at the time the B&M were getting consent to survey. I made no bill for the 18th July 1892 Council where Indians refused right-of way through individual allotments.


Should B&M build to Fort Custer there will little need for wagon haul. Can you meet me in Chicago on April 7th. Should the B&M push to Custer they will want to take up Fort Custer and Crow Agency business by July 1st. I will work with whichever route they take. They are in town (Billings) now.


No payment for Crow beef since last November, vouchers are in hand at the Chief Quartermasters hands, no money there. Push for payment. Matt Murphy bought for the Murphy Cattle Company all the steers from UM (Rosenbaum Brothers-Chicago), about 10,000 head. This should make us some money.


St. Paul

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Can’t leave here until Saturday. Had to lie here since Monday. Have Johnson fix up Big Horn Southern account (statement of June 1st.) Statement in full deposited by Mr. Wean with Metropolitan National Bank of Chicago. I will see you [later] at home in Billings. Close contracts with U.S. now.


Billings (Sheriff Ramsey’s Office)

Senator Power, Helena

Enclosed telegram from Burepe concerning oats. I want 350,000 #’s and close in November. They will continue to decline. Am using a crutch, but fine. Want to go to the roundup in a few days, can’t go to Helena.


Will have Mr. McArthur prepare statement for the month. Need you here to fix things up. Country never looked beeter! Give regards to your wife. I feel that I am hardly worthy of her sympathy!


Junction City (General Merchandise)

Senator Power, Helena

Gave you memorandum of our Big Horn Southern deal. I transferred part of my 1/5th interest to Power Brothers. I am currently in Junction, but will be called away soon as cattle from the Jeffries will be ready for delivery. 200,000 #’s of oats from Burepe are here. Tacking to Fork.


Junction City

Senator Power, Helena

Wrote Mr. Daniels to ship 60,000 #’s of oats to Keogh to close contract, and to ship 90,000 #’s to Custer. Tomorrow will know how much more will be needed. Will order from McDaniels.


Enclosed letted from Bannister. We must fix up warehouse business. I can get favorable recommendation to purchase. Nedd to take up Indian beef matter. Recovering okay, will soon be able to ride.


Billings (Donovan & Spears)

Senator Power, Helena

Rec’d letter. Wills was a farmer at Crow Agency, and is now trying to make trouble for Wyman. He is a no-account fellow and statements made are without merit.


Received from Agent payment for 65,355 #’soats  and 20,000 #’s wheat. Separate checks for each. My transactions at Agency with Wyman have gone straight though and no kind of investigation could implicate me. Don’t let [Helena} Independent print anything until investigation of this man’s character is completed. Going to C. F. Smith in morning for about a week. Will stop and see Wyman and find out what wills is up to. Cattle gone to Chicago Feed. Where is Murphy?


Billings (Custer Cattle Co Office Relocated)

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Have contract to deliver 700 cords of wood to Camp Merrit on Cheyenne Reservation. Need permission to cut wood from Indian Reservation to fill contract.


Junction (General Merchandise)

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Enclosed estimate of work done by Henry Keiser for Crow Indians. Keiser owes me $4,400 and expects to pay out of his share. Try to get this settled at once. I want the money so I can pay you on 1 January.



Henry Keiser, Junction

Enclosed letter from Senator Power. See about written papers and go to Graves and have him apy, or find out why not. You are not being treated fairly. I will work with Power.







Senator Power, Washington, DC

Enclosed statement of WH Graves for the work done by Henry Keiser, Balance of $2,783.31 is due him. Work was done about two years ago, and the $400 advance for effort against the claim doesn’t satisfy the claim. This is one of the most outrageous transactions ever permitted in this country. I want this money paid!


Billings (New stationery available)

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Clum & Dingman circular notes that the Indian Department will ask that Stock Cattle proposals to be opened at Chicago on February 20th. Delivery to be not later than May 20th. This shuts out range cattle! August 1st is soonest for range cattle. Can you change the date? This will save government a lot of money. If it’s too late, there is nothing else we can do.



Senator Power, Washington, DC

Reply to 23rd letter. If no selection fo Agent is made, I would recommend JB Aleshire, a Lieutenant stationed in Arizona in the First Cavalry. Try to keep Wyman until grazing deal is closed, very important.



Senator Power, Washington, DC

Mr. Murphy sent letter asking me to come to Chicago. Mr. Weare is having a meeting to discuss reservation grazing prior to the 20th letting. I will be there on the 9th or 10th. Too bad deal couldn’t be closed while Wyman was here, and Weare contended there was plenty of time. We may be too late. I hope we can work with Lt. Watson.


Billings (but written from Junction)

Senator Power, Washington, DC

Will go to Chicago on the 15th in time for the [grazing] letting. Am at Junction closing up business.



Senator Power, Washington, DC

Enclosed letter from Johnson, self explanatory. Note is signed by Yegen Brothers and endorsed by Peter Yegen & Co, and myself.  Appears My. Carter is mak9ing an effort to compare strength in getting the organizatio9n of the House [at Helena.} Will go to Helena to see Mr. Templeton.









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