The championship of buffalo shooters of Cloud county undoubtedly belongs to Uriah Smith, of Clyde, who followed that vocation for about five years and has killed hundreds of the mammoth kings of the prairies, since the first memorable expedition, along with O.G. Morley, in May, 1866. They were inexperienced hunters for game of such magnitude, but were distinguished marksmen and any object they made a target usually came in contact with the well-directed missile from their shooting-irons.
Everything in readiness for the event of their lives, the amateur bison hunters traveled in a northerly direction until they reached the forks of Buffalo creek, a favorite camping place for sportsmen, freighters and emigrants. Mr. Smith and Mr. Morley remained on these grounds until they had killed and dried a load of buffalo meat.
Ere preceding further the process of curing the meat might prove of interest to many readers. The pioneer camper was always provided with a large iron camp-kettle. In one of these useful utensils the hunter heated a strong brine composed of salt and water; the former oftentimes procured as they passed the salt marsh en route to their destination. The meat was dipped into the scalding solution, then suspended from a sort of scaffold built about four feet from the ground. Underneath, a fire smoldered continuously, and within a few days the fine cuts from the hind quarters of the animals were smoked, dried and converted into "jerked" meat, as it was termed, which was deliciously palatable.
A humorous circumstance occurred while on a hunting tour in 1867 with a party consisting of Mr. Smith, Mr. Morley and James Neeley. They were joined where Concordia now stands by Thomas and William Riley, Henry Simons and Thomas Wilcox.
The immense herd was traveling in a northerly direction at a rapid gait and had gained about four miles ere the hunters could overtake them. At this point the great drove halted in one of the bends of the creek to graze. Mr. Smith and Mr. Morley followed around through the dry bed of the branch to find a favorable position from where they could shoot to the best advantage. Just as the situation was attained and the hunters had gained a place of ambush from where they could select the choicest marks for their prey unobserved by the herd, an old and decrepit animal came wandering near and stopped to graze directly in the path between the anxious sportsmen and the coveted buffalo. He was but two or three rods distant and they endeavored to get him out of the way but he would merely turn his sightless eyes in that direction and quietly feed on. Mr. Smith threw gravel obtained from the bed of the creek, but like the hero who stood on the deck of the burning ship, "he would not go," and the outwitted hunters were compelled to make a new stand, from which they killed two buffalo and wounded another. They then shifted their position to a rise of ground, and were crawling on their hands and knees toward the herd. As Mr. Morley, who was in the lead, looked backward he exclaimed, "Look behind you, Smith." Mr. Smith turned and discovered the venerable and almost helpless old bison walking straight toward him. Desiring to not frighten the main body by rising to his feet Mr. Smith remained in a sitting posture and lustily waved his hat, but the aged monarch continued, quite unconcerned. Mr. Morley, who was amused by the ludicrous situation, laughed aloud, which the animal evidently heard, although he could not see, for he halted, pricked up his ears and ambled off in an easterly and parallel direction. Being filled with compassion for the poor old veteran of the plains. Mr. Smith ended his miserable existence by a bullet from his unerring rifle. It is needless to affirm, choice steaks were not taken from his carcass, or the hide preserved that was as devoid of the once thick, shaggy coat of hair as the body of an elephant. They then pursued the main herd and killed two more.
Mr. Smith's father, Andrew W. Smith, who was also fond of the hunt, took pleasure in relating the following humorous but critical situation of Abe Cole, an old Wisconsin friend who, like all that came to the frontier, aspired to kill a buffalo. Mr. Cole had never seen one of the huge beasts and it might be concluded from his manner and expressions that he did not rate the buffalo as a formidable wild animal with monstrously thick body, great strong legs, tapering horns, and shoulders covered with long rough wool, but a docile creation more like the domestic ox or horse, for when they were planning for the hunt Mr. Cole stoutly declared his intention to ride the first one he wounded. The recent arrival on the frontier was warned that such an undertaking would prove a very dangerous proceeding, and was advised to forego the inclination, but like his predecessor, the jolly "Old King Cole," a "merry old soul was he," and contended he could run in a circle so fleetly the wild cattle could not follow him. When the hunters reached the salt marsh in Grant township, bison were seen dotted over the wild waste which was devoid of water, and its white, glistening surface shimmering like diamonds in the sunlight, was smooth as a floor except for here and there an abrupt bank, one of which served as a concealed station for the hunters, who impatiently waited for hours ere the herd wandered within gun-shot range. A large bull was selected by Mr. Cole as his victim and the next moment a bullet went crashing into his bulky frame. The wounded and infuriated animal lunged forward with the evident intention of goring his would-be slayer, but with a stream of blood gushing from his body the hero of the plain sank to the earth apparently dead. The proudest moment of Abe Cole's life had dawned, and with a heart so swollen with pride it was nigh unto bursting, he drew near his fallen victim. But alas! for human hopes, death had not claimed the dethroned monarch, and as his enemy approached to gloat over his victory, with a mighty, herculean effort, the wounded and maddened animal arose to his feet. Then began the "circle route." not over the "Colorado Toll Road" of national fame, but on the salt-whitened plane of the marsh. The enraged bull, smarting from his wound, followed closely upon the fleet footsteps of the novice, but not in the proposed circle. With an ominous snort, followed by thundering bellows of rage, shaggy head lowered and tail erect, the animal dashed across the level in hot pursuit. His gigantic frame as it neared the flying fugitive seemed to the terror stricken hunter a towering mountain in his immensity, and during this episode the would-be hero discarded all thoughts of turning equestrian, nor cared he naught for glory. His retreat implied his acceptation of the old maxim, "A live coward is worth more than a dead hero." With the swiftness of a locomotive the sportsman sped over the ground only, "touching the high places" in his eager flight for safety, when a bullet from his comrade's rifle sealed the doom of his lofty majesty, and terminated the exciting scene. When anxious and interested friends inquired how he enjoyed his first buffalo hunt Mr. Cole responded: "I have had enough of it."
The new arrivals to the frontier were always eager to witness the vast herds of bison that ranged over the prairies by the hundreds of thousands aND if He were in the least degree a sportsman He could not rest until fresh laurels were added to his prowess by terminating the career of one or more of these majestic beasts.
in the latter part of July, 1866, a HUNT was inaugurated by George W. Teasley, D.W. Teasley, A.D. Teasley, A.C. Bagwell, H.H. Spaulding, John Howard, John Higgins and Captain John A. Potts. There were about a half dozen wagons to be loaded with buffalo meat, and a week was the time set apart for the consummation of their plans. The buffalo had been driven west, and the main herd were wandering about the forks of the Solomon river. The first night the hunters camped on Limestone creek and after supper, those who had not removed the cartridges from their guns during the day proceeded to discharge the loads, clean their weapons, re-charge and render them in a state of prime working order, that an unfailing fire might be depended upon in case of an emergency or while in quest for game. While putting his rifle in condition A D. Teasley miraculously escaped serious injury; the breech-pin blew out, splitting about six inches of the gun-barrel wide open, but aside from the terrorized shock he received and a slight powder burn, Mr. Teasley was unharmed. The party had not proceeded far on their way next morning ere they could see a straggler now and again, and occassionally[sic] a small herd of buffalo. When one of their number becomes antiquated and infirm He drops out from the mad rush of the throng and trails along on the outer edge, oftentimes drifts entirely away, seemingly prefering a life of seclusion in his old age and forsakes the herd altogether.
The huntsmen did not tarry to capture the remnants that quietly grazed along, but hastened on, crossed the north fork of the Solomon river about where Downs is now situated and on the south fork where they camped for the night. It was late in the afternoon when they pitched their tent, the buffalo were traveling in a southwesterly direction and by the time the sun was sinking in the west there were myriads of the mighty monsters in sight. All through the long hours of the night the continued roar of their tramping hoofs was heard by the sportsmen who eagerly but tremblingly awaited the dawn of day. Had the party of settlers known the herd of bison were being driven westward from the settlements by the Indians they would have breathed less freely. However, they did not come in contact with the savages and their scalps were retained.
Breakfast over the next morning, the marksmen for the day's hunt were appointed, while some of their number were to guard the camp, and others designated to follow the huntsmen and pick up the game. It was necessary to dress the animals within a comparatively few hours or they were otherwise rendered unfit for use.
The selection fell on George W. and D.W. Teasley, who were mere boys and had never been near a live buffalo. It was suggested an experienced hunter accompany them, but their self-esteem would not admit of an attendant upon such a valorous occasion and promptly rejected the proposition. The favored knights proudly trimmed their weapons exactly to their conception of excellence, swung the shot-pouches over their shoulders, buckled on their belts, which contained cartridges, six-shooters and butcher knives. Though they assumed a bold front Mr. Teasley says there was a combination of fear and anxiety he cannot explain. None of the party suspected their real emotion, however, neither did the young hunters intend to show the white feather.
The buffalo were on the hills all around their camp in every direction, and as the young men sauntered forth the continuous deep gutteral roar of the bellowing beasts that was wafted to their ears grew ominous with redoubled force, but with determination the heroes marched on. It was necessary to take advantage by approaching them from the windward side, as buffalo will stampede much more readily from scent, than sight.
They selected a herd about two miles to the south, where the ravines would afford an opportunity of approaching quite near. The hunters cautiously and eagerly wended their way across the bottom land to the hills beyond the south fork of the Solomon, where three or four hundred magnificent specimens of animal life were grazing southward. When within a half mile of the herd the sportsmen tediously crawled along the ground and with this precaution taken attracted the attention of an animal now and again, that would gaze suspiciously a moment, and as the hunters hugged the earth more closely, the king of the plain would conclude it was a false alarm and resume his feeding.
The boys finally reached a ravine, where they were much relieved by walking erect, under the protection of the high banks.
The buffalo were now on either side of them, and when they supposed they were about opposite the drove, the excited hunters left the narrow hollow, crawled to the top of the ridge and carefully raised their heads to take a survey of the situation, when they beheld with horror the herd not more that fifty yards away. As they noted the formidable and gigantic proportions of that vast assembly of shaggy beasts their hearts began to throb and their breaths came and went like the exhaust of a steam engine, then hesitated, pondered over the matter and wondered if it were advisable to make an assault against such tremendous odds, but after several moments spent in misgivings they decided to "attack their lines." As a means of precaution the precocious youths divested themselves of everything that was in the least cumbersome, then each were to select his victim and when the signal, Ready! Aim; Fire! was given the deadly missiles were to be sent out simultaneously. Prior to giving the command the trembling youths made an estimate of the distance to the nearest timber, which was about two miles, and felt confident that no buffalo ever made could catch them ere the fleet footed knights could gain a friendly tree.
As the critical moment drew nigh they were seized with the chill that precedes a fever, but there was no time to lose, as the buffalo were constantly feeding away from their station. With supreme efforts they leveled their rifles, the word was given and both guns responded as they touched the triggers. George Teasley was like the little boy who blew out the light and tried to tumble into bed before the darkness would follow. Mr. Teasley was on his feet apparently before the bullet left the muzzle of his gun, and if the missile took effect, the victim did not exhibit any sign of being injured. To the surprise and inward delight of the hunters, the moment they fired, the whole herd, with the exception of one that had fallen under D.W. Teasley's aim, scampered away at full speed over the hills. This gave the excited frontiersmen courage - an article they were sadly in need of just at that time, for the hills were covered with buffalo, all grazing slowly southward. They reloaded their guns as quickly as possible, and carrying their previously discarded shoes in their hands, the young knights carefully drew near the wounded buffalo. When the animal (which was almost dead) would move, they would hesitate, then move a little nearer, while their hair was standing on end, and the shivers racing up and down the marrow in their bones. Their rifles were cocked, ready to shoot or run, they scarcely knew which, but as the huge beast had seemingly ceased motion, they concluded it had succumbed to fate and ventured nearer. Sure enough he had been dead several moments. It was about four years old and a fine specimen of its race.
This episode gave the huntsmen courage and valor, and they were more eager than ever to pursue the herds that ranged upon every hill and selected for their second attack a drove about two miles to the eastward that were grazing along a small creek. This point was accessible with less arduous maneuvering, for they could follow the devious windings of the little stream under the cover of bushes that skirted its banks.
The creek forked and the west branch led close to the buffalo. There was no timber on that prong, but an occasional plum thicket which served their purpose well, and allowed them to get within very close range.
While timorously making their way along, George Teasley, through a clump of bushes to the left spied a lone buffalo leisurely lying on the ground not more than forty yards distant. Mr. Teasley said to his companion, "Hold on, Dan; I'll shoot that buffalo if it stampedes the whole herd." He fired, and the vociferous report that followed resounded from hillside to hillside, with seemingly enough clamor to arouse and stampede all the buffalo on the plains, and almost regretted his hasty resolve to shoot. But no serious detriment was incurred; the herd made a few jumps, wildly looked about them, but as they could neither see nor hear anything further, the quiet grazing was resumed. With great circumspection the hunters then moved on until they came to a big plum thicket, which was about opposite the herd, and crawled up the high band with even greater caution for they knew the buffalo were but a few rods distant. As they looked back from this point they could see the wounded animal struggling in the last throes of death, never having risen from the earth after he was shot. Each fresh victory incited new courage. They now slipped their rifles up over the ridge and sighted along the barrel, ready to touch the trigger when a buffalo covered the bead. To gaze at those enormous monsters in such nearness as to see their eye-winkers and almost feel the warmth of their bodies was enough to unnerve experienced huntsmen, but in the exciting sport the young heroes quickly became inured to the dangers. At the usual signal each gun was discharged and two of the monarchs fell victim to their well directed bullets. A weird and strange scene followed. The herd jumped and ran a few paces, then returned, gathered around the fallen beasts and fought and gored each other in a vicious manner. They attacked the dead animals and with their short but tapering horns, tore their hides asunder. The hunters watched this fierce battle for a few moments and then withdrew to the base of the bank, reloaded their guns, and again stationed themselves at the top of the ridge, where the affray was still raging. Occasionally one of the huge and powerful animals would make a vigorous charge on the dead bodies of their fellows, and the hidden sportsmen could hear the sound of their horns violently ripping through their hides.
As they watched this grewsome but strangely fascinating spectacle "the plot thickened." One of their number circled around the crew of fifteen or twenty, and finally swung off in the exact direction of the two youths, who had caused all the commotion. The inquisitive animal had caught a glimpse of the hunters' heads sticking up above the bank, and naturally enough was seized with a desire to the objects. Each second his majesty stood there, riveted to the spot not more than ten paces away, looking them square in the face, seemed minutes long drawn out to the boys in hiding, whose courage was again in the balance. They were seized with a desire to run for their lives, but stood their ground, although the hair was again standing straight up on their heads, the proverbial cold chills playing up and down their spines, and longed to draw their heads out of sight, but dare not move. They were fearful of his lordship pouncing down upon them and goring or grinding them into the earth, when in reality he would have stampeded the herd, and the hunters would have had two less slain buffalo in the material for these reminiscences.
After satisfying himself the objects were of no importance, the buffalo joined his fellows and a moment later the report of two rifle shots rang out upon the quiet atmosphere of the western prairie, and two more heroes of the plain were felled dead.
The sun never set on two more exuberant lads than these young Teasleys, as they returned to report the successes of the day and met some of their comrades, who, having heard the shooting, were following up with the wagon to haul the game, if any there should chance to be. When the trophies had been gathered in, congratulations were unstinted and all conceded there was good reason for their feeling of manifested pride.
The pleasures and excitement of that day was followed by others until they were surfeited with game, wagons well loaded and with well established reputations as buffalo hunters.
For years the subject of tree culture was somewhat of a problem. When the white man began to dispute with the Indian, the buffalo and the coyote for the possession of the fertile prairies of Kansas, the planting of the cottonwood marked the first step towards civilization of the upland prairies. Various and interesting papers were read in the early settlement of Kansas and it was generally conceded by the western pioneer pioneer[sic] that the culture of trees should be encouraged, and that much of their welcome fare depended upon the preservation of their woods and groves, and the planting of them was encouraged until almost every farm or "claim" had its rows of cottonwoods along the highway.
As "Big oaks from little acorns grow," so only a twig was the beginning of what later became a giant in form. The cottonwood tree bears a little bulb which bursts, and borne by the Kansas breeze, sends its little wad of airy cotton in every direction, hither, thither and yon, filling the atmosphere with its downy, feathery cotton that resembles great flakes of snow.
The cottonwood loses its foliage with the first breath of frosty air, its leaves quickly fall to the ground, every limb is divested of its foliage and the winds sigh through its leafless branches, a requiem to departed glory.
The cottonwood's rapid growth was its redeeming feature; something that would withstand the force of the continued "Kansas zephyrs" and give shade, but other qualities it has few or none. So upon a second consideration trees of a more commendable quality were planted and flourished, almost supplanting the old cottonwoods - their first love - in the hearts, of the people. The monarch of the plain was dethroned; few are left on the prairie, with their great branches inviting the weary traveler to rest awhile among their cooling shades, its fateful history short, its downfall rapid, and few of them remain.
Where almost every farm had its long evenue of cottonwoods, they have been supplanted by the walnut, ailanthus, catalpa or elms. The elements of forest culture were generally discussed until it was demonstrated they robbed the fields by burrowing their great network of roots under the surface of the soil and drinking the moisture that was needed for the grain. Consequently many of the trees were cut down by the farmers. The roots extended as far or farther into the ground as the trees were high and where the field was bounded by cottonwoods, the corn on the other side though not shaded by them, was much smaller than further on, and during a drouth season shriveled more quickly; so many of those pretty and luxuriant trees were cut down or left to die.
A beautiful grove is an adornment and adds a charm to the home that nothing else can bring, and transforms the monotony of the treeless prairie into a landscape that is fascinating to the eye, and at the same time serves as a windbreak from the chilling blasts of winter.
The cottonwood is a native tree of Kansas and thrives more than any other, showing a vigorous and rapid growth. We clip the following article from the Clyde Herald of July, 1902:
"Since the middle of February, 1902, E.W. Lamb, of Clyde, has sawed over two hundred thousand feet of lumber and by far the greater part of it grew since the settlement of the county; but the most wonderful part of our story is about a cottonwood tree on U.J. Smith's land, adjoining Clyde. Thirty-six years ago Mr. Smith says the tree was not more than two inches in diameter, but when cut for the saw it measured at the stump fifteen feet in circumference. Two logs were taken from it measuring each twelve feet long; the first log made eight hundred and fifty feet of lumber. There were four hundred feet of lumber sawed from the limbs. A total of two thousand and fifty feet was the product of this huge tree, which has grown in considerable less than a man's lifetime. It took much skill and labor to get to the saw mill, which was but a few hundred feet away. There was enough lumber in this tree to have made a good sized house, that at one time we old settlers would have considered palatial."
The maple, a desirable and beautiful tree, the box-elder, walnut and several varieties of ash thrive in Kansas. The catalpa, a deciduous tree, makes a fine shade and produces clusters of large, fragrant white blossoms, which are beautiful and make this tree very popular. In Concordia, it seems a prime favorite, as there are numerous avenues of them.
It has been demonstrated that the evergreen can be successfully grown. Some of the finest illustrations we have seen of this is on the farm of Mr. Mesmore, of Solomon township, and Mrs. Hubbard's suburban home in Glasco. The box-elder, maple, elm and catalpa have come to stay. One still sees a row of cottonwoods occasionally, and although lacking in virtue are pleasantly remembered because they gave shade when there was no other. Its spreading branches sheltered from the scorching suns of early hardships and will be kindly inscribed on memory's tablet, even after the last tree gives place to those that stand higher in favor.
There is said to be over three hundred distinct varieties in Kansas, but the following mention is of the songsters and birds best known. Of all the blithe singers, perhaps none are sweeter than the joyous notes of the lark after in April shower, as he rises from some grassy nook or sways gracefully to and fro on some swinging branch or reed, or as true to the dawn of day he pours out his soulful song. The wood thrush is a melodious singer. They build their nests in the orchards and hedges. They resemble the southern mocking bird in notes and plumage, but are more of a yellowish brown in color.
The little wren is a dainty bird of brown feathers with lighter brown shadings. He comes with the merry month of May; his notes are low but exceedingly musical and sweet. The linnet is not unlike the wren in color but more slender in body. His notes are among the sweetest and most tuneful of the bird family. He comes when the orchards and flowering shrubs don their sweet scented, flowery robes to greet the spring-time. The snow bird's reign is supreme over the bird kingdom. He comes in winter with the first snow fall and remains until the warm winds of spring approach, then journeys northward again.
All concede the scolding, swaggering bluejay, with his gay, bright plumage, is a handsome bird, but his notes are harsh and unpleasant. He comes with the bright spring-time and does not seek his sunny southland among the roses with the first cold blast of winter, but remains to feast on the garnered grain. One of the most beautiful of all the birds to be found in Kansas is the red bird. The bright, crimson lined male proudly wears a coronet or crest like the jay, his coat shading front the brightest to the deepest red. His notes are a happy whistle, clear and sweet. He is most often seen in winter. The red bird is often captured and becomes thoroughly domesticated, but it seems a cruel fate to rob these wild carefree songsters of their freedom, and who would not prefer to hear them lightly singing high up among the branches of the leafless trees, making gloomy winter days cheery with song from their little hearts so blithsome and gay, fortelling the bright, happy days of spring-time, unfettered and free.
The English sparrow, now so numerous, is an importation to this country, and a dozen years ago were unknown to this section. They are not unlike the barn swallow in habits, making their homes in barns, eaves of buildings, sheds or any available place. Their nests are made of sticks and mud. The sparrows have made themselves much disliked by their breeding propensities and long before dawn or peep of day, keep up an incessant chatter that is intensely annoying to the sleeping tenant. They come in countless numbers with the earliest advent of spring, remaining until late in the autumn. However, they are of a migratory nature and the whole army will sometimes vanish in a single day and return in like manner. Another handsome and interesting bird is the oriole, sometimes called the "fire bird," owing to its vivid orange-red and yellow coloring. When driving through the country one sees scores of "last year's birds' nests," in the trees that skirt the banks of the creeks. Their cone-shaped nests built of straw, sticks,, wood, hair. etc., are suspended by two seemingly fragile threads, woven by the woof and warp of the ingenious little oriole.
Robin red breast flits among the trees of the blossoming orchards. His chirrup is heard with the first arrival of spring. There are a large number of birds belonging to the woodpecker family, some of them beautiful in coloring. The specie known as sap sucker, often injures and sometimes kills apple and other trees by girdling them. During the summer months the sweet warblings of the purple martin and blue birds are heard singing their love songs in the yellow sunlight. The swallows come with the early spring-time and build their nests in chimneys and barns. As the shadows of the summer days lengthen and the evening wanes the whip-poor-will's melancholy, but sweet call, is heard.
One occasionally hears the piping notes of the quail. A dozen years ago the melodious whistle of "Bob White" could be heard at morn and evening, but this favorite bird is fast becoming extinct and it is only now and again that a covey is seen in the hedges or in the brush wood along side the creeks. His notes are deliciously sweet.
"He tells of summer come again
Of blossoms and the growing grain."
Of all the feathered family the diminitive king bird is the greatest saver of grain, game and poultry by his warlike attacks against the sharpshinned hawk and other plunderers of the farm. There are several varieties of the dainty little humming bird. Among other birds not so commonly known are the rose-breasted grossbeak, shrike, tanager and cuckoo. During the spring and summer there are myriads of blackbirds. They are among the most useful insect destroyers.
The ominous hoot of the owl is heard along the rivers and groves. The loss of an occasional chicken that finds its way into their talons is more than repaid by the numerous mice and vermin destroyed by this wise looking bird. The crow that frequents this country in large numbers is also a great scavanger.[sic] The hawk is a despised bird, but who can watch him circling away into space, his plumage so beautifully colored and marked, glinting and shining in the sunlight, without admiring his graceful poise. Among the best known species are the sparrow hawk, Cooper's hawk, sharpshinned hawk and fish hawk.
Of the game birds, the wild turkey, now extinct, was once monarch. The rivers and creeks abounded with them and supplied many an early settler with a delicious turkey dinner. Wild geese, during their migratory period, are plentiful; also the various species of wild ducks: the mallard, canvas back, pin-tailed and the little blue and green winged teals are all found in the ponds, the salt marsh, the streams and at Lake Sibley. The prairie chicken, once so abundant on the plain, is now seldom seen in this locality. Nothing in the game annals of Kansas afforded more genuine pleasure than the innumerable flocks of these birds, that swarmed over the boundless prairies, devoid of hedges, fences or other obstacles to the animated hunter as he rode or drove across the country. The snipe or curlew are a small, but delicious bird, of fine flavor. The plover is a similar, but smaller bird.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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