Pawnee Republic.After the Pawnee Indians ceded their lands in Nebraska and Kansas and removed to new hunting grounds, the site of the Pawnee village on the Republican river, where Lieut. Pike lowered the Spanish colors and raised the American flag, was for many years a matter of conjecture. Dr. Elliott Coues, in his history if the Pike expedition, says in a foot-note on page 410: "I must emphasize here the fact that I have failed in every attempt to locate the precise site of the Pawnee village. One would suppose it well known; I find that it is not, and I have yet to discover the ethnographer or geographer who can point it out. Correspondence addressed to persons now living in the vicinity was as fruitless as my exploration of the sources of official knowledge in Washington, where several friends interested themselves in my behalf to no purpose. I knew of no closer indication than that afforded by Gregg's map of 1844. This letters 'Old Pawnee Village' on the south bank of the Republican, half way between longitude 98° and 99° west, and thus, as I judge, about the present town of Red Cloud, Webster county, Neb."
The actual site of the village was discovered by a womanMrs. Elizabeth Johnsonin 1875, while going with a party to the Republican river on a fishing excursion. In the autumn of the previous Mrs. Johnson had visited her father in the East, and while there had a conversation with him concerning the 40th parallel and the Indian village where Pike planted the United States flag. Mrs. Johnson gives the following account of her discovery: "As we were driving across the country we came to a piece of ground that was like last year's circus groundsup and down, up and down, as if we were really going over the edges of the rings. I had Pike on my mind, and I made them stop and let me out, and went over the ground and found the little embankments which had been around the wigwams, and all arranged in streets as orderly as any city thoroughfare."
Through the efforts of Mrs. Johnson the Pawnee Republic Historical society was organized and a more critical examination of the ground was made. Various relics, such as fragments of pottery, flint and stone implements, bits of copper and iron, pipes, bones of animals, etc., were found, as well as other evidences that the place had once been the site of a populous Indian village. At the annual meeting of the board of directors of the Kansas State Historical Society on Jan. 21, 1896, J. C. Price, of Republic, exhibited some of these relics, and the board adopted the following resolution, which was offered by Secretary Adams: "Resolved, That a committee of this board be appointed to coöperate with the Pawnee Republic Historical Society in definitely determining that location, and in recommending such action as may be deemed advisable toward suitably marking the place by monument or otherwise."
Franklin G. Adams, E. B. Cowgill and Noble L. Prentis were appointed on the committee, and a thorough examination of Pike's reports, maps, etc., was undertaken. In his report for Oct. 1, 1806, Pike stated that the village was in latitude "about 39° 30' north." His census of the village showed 508 warriors, 550 women, and 560 children, besides 44 lodges of roving bands, all belonging to the Pawnee republic. His encampment was on an eminence on the opposite side of the river from the villagea condition nowhere along the Republican river so well complied with as in the site discovered by Mrs. Johnson, which the investigators finally concluded was the correct one. Under date of March 1, 1896, Dr. Coues wrote to G. T. Davies, secretary of the Pawnee Republic Historical Society, as follows: "You will see by the large map, which I sent, and which, I believe, is now in Mrs. Johnson's hands, that I trailed Pike directly to White Rock, and all your present research confirms the impressions I formed at the time, though I did not venture to commit myself to final conclusions."
Dr. Coues also stated in the letter that his doubts were due to the location as given on Gregg's map, which he was satisfied was in error, and in a letter to Mrs. Johnson expressed his unqualified opinion that she had found the real site of the Pawnee village. Supported by all this evidence and opinion, Mrs. Johnson and her husband purchased the village site, described in the deed as "Beginning at a point 6 chains west of the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of section 3, township 2, south, of range 5, west; thence west 16 chains; thence north 7 chains; thence east 16 chains, and thence south 7 chains to the place of beginning, and containing 11.2 acres more or less."
This tract, which is situated in White Rock township of Republic county, almost due south of Republic City, was presented to the state by the purchasers in 1901, and the legislature which accepted the gift made an appropriation of $3,000 for the erection of a monument to mark the site. (See also the articles on Pike's Expedition, Stanley's Administration and Hoch's Administration.)Pages 453-455 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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