PIONEER HISTORY OF KANSAS
by Adolph Roenigk
The Republican Valley; Ancient Pawnee Village; Monument
Erected Where Zebulon M. Pike First Hoisted the Amer-
ican Flag; White Rock Creek; Indian Depredations.
Northwestern Kansas is traversed from west to east by three rivers, all flowing in the same general direction, namely, the Republican, the Solomon, and the Saline. The Republican river rises in Colorado, thence running into Nebraska for nearly two hundred miles, thence into Kansas in the southeasterly course, until it unites with the Smoky Hill and forms the Kansas river, near Junction City. The Solmon has two branches, commonly called the north and south forks, rising near the west line of the state, and forming the main stream near Cawker City.
As far as is known, the valleys of these streams in this part of the country was occupied by the same tribes of Indians, and the history made during the settlement of these valleys was very much alike and equally interesting; but while the Saline valleys history has been written by able writers, the Republican and Solomon valleys have been very much neglected. It will be impossible at this time to record events in detail and give dates of what took place here during the settlement of these valleys, as the principal actors are dead. In my endeavor to write some of this history, I must chiefly rely on statements of persons, made years ago, some of which were published at the time these incidents happened; others were obtained through oral information, and some of the things I shall set down I know from my own observation, and I shall try to record this as I remember it.
As has been stated, in the year of 1866 I visited Manhattan, and came here in 1868 to make Kansas my home. I remember much of the stirring events that took place in the Republican and Solomon valleys during the Indian trouble of those years; besides, I have lived in the Republican valley for sixteen years; seven years on a homestead, and for nine years, in the saddlery business in Clifton. During this time I have personally known nearly all the old settlers whose experiences are told in these pages.
The Republican river derives its name from the Pawnee Republic, a former branch of the Pawnee tribe of Indians. The location of their ancient village site has been the subject of in-
vestigation by archaeologists and historians for a number of years, until it was finally located by Mrs. Elizabeth A. Johnson, on the banks of the Republican river a few miles west of Republic City, on a tract of land owned by herself and husband. It was here that Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike first hoisted the American flag in Kansas Territory, September 29, 1806.
History states, Lieutenant Pike with soldiers and a number of Indian guides came from St. Louis on this trip of exploration. After visiting this Pawnee village the command proceeded in a southwest course until the Arkansas river was reached, then following up that stream, it discovered the peak in Colorado which bears Pikes name. Since that time this Indian village has not been mentioned by any explorer or traveler and was lost to memory.
In 1842, John C. Fremont, who passed up the river its entire length, gave a graphic and correct description of the country. We arrived, says Fremont, on July 8, at the mouth of the Republican. For several days we continued to travel along the Republican through a country beautifully watered with the numerous streams, handsomely timbered, and rarely an incident occurred to vary the monotonous resemblance which one day on the prairie here bears to another, and which scarcely require a particular description. Now and then we caught sight of a small band of elk, and occasionally a band of antelope, whose curiosity sometimes brought them within rifle range, would circle around us and then swing off to the prairie.
The bottoms, from the immediate valley of the main river, were generally about three miles wide, having a rich soil of black vegetable mould, and were well interspersed with wood. The country was everywhere covered with a considerable variety of grasses, occasionally poor and thin, but far more frequently luxuriant and rich.
We have been gradually ascending in our progress westward. On the evening of the 14th, when we encamped on a little creek near the valley of the Republican, two hundred and sixty-five miles by our traveling road from the mouth of the Kansas, we were at an elevation of 1,500 feet. At noon, on the 23rd, we descended into the principal fork of the Republican, a beautiful stream with dense border of woods, consisting principally of varieties of ash. The stream was forty feet wide and
four feet deep. It was musical with the notes of many birds, which from the vast expanse of silent prairie around, seemed all to have collected here. We continued on our route along the river, which was populous with prairie dogs, the bottoms being entirely occupied with their villages.
Such was Fremonts description of the Republican valley in 1842, but he does not say anything about meeting Indians, nor does he mention the village of the Pawnee Republics. None of the travelers who passed over this route, among whom were Horace Greeley, who made a stage coach trip through to Denver about the year of 1859, mentions the village of the Pawnee Republic, and had it not been for the journal of Lieutenant Pike, the existence of this village site would have sunk into oblivion. But finding the description of the route taken in Pikes journal, historical societies in several counties both in Kansas and southern Nebraska, became interested; search for the ancient village site was made during several years, until it was finally located by Mrs. Elizabeth A. Johnson and her husband, George Johnson, as has been stated. The ocation is near the mouth of White Rock creek, two miles west of Republic City.* (See note.)
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson generously gave this historical site, containing eleven acres of ground, to the state of Kansas. The Legislature of 1901 appropriated three thousand dollars to mark the site. Six acres of ground were enclosed with an iron fence and a Barre, Vermont, granite shaft twenty-six feet high was erected to mark the site of Pikes Pawnee village. For a full account, see page 15, Vol. 10, Kansas Historical Collections.
At the time this village site was located near Republic, Kansas, certain historians contended that it was not the site of the village visited by Pike in 1806, as Pikes orginal map shows that the Republican river ran in an easterly direction at the point where the village stood, which was about forty miles west of where the river changed its course from an easterly direction to a southerly direction. As no village site was known to exist to the point designated on Pikes map it was presumed that his map was incorrect. Subsequently a village site was discovered near Red Cloud, Nebraska, which the Nebraska State Historical Society claim is the location shown on Pikes map. The Kansas State Historical Society contend that Pikes map is incorrect and that the monument dedicated near Republic, Kansas, on September 29, 1906, is correctly placed.
Erected by the State of Kansas in 1901 to mark the site of the Pawnee
Republic, where Lieutenant Zebulon Pike caused the Spanish flag to
be lowered and the flag of the United States to be raised, Sept. 29, 1806.
When Kansas Territory was opened for settlement and homeseekers penetrated this region they found these valleys in possession of other tribes of Indians, principally the Cheyennes and Sioux. The Pawnees had been placed on reservations in Nebraska, but came down here to hunt, and still claimed this country. They were supposed to be peaceable, but sometimes depredations done by Indians were charged to them. Other tribes from eastern reservations also came here to hunt; they
were hostile to each other and no doubt many a battle was fought among these tribes of Indians before the appearance of the white man. For an account of such a battle see page 461, Vol. 7, Kansas Historical Collections.
In these settlements many depredations were committed by Indians, and it was difficult for the settlers to know which tribe was the guilty party. Repeatedly they appeared, committed depredations and disappeared without leaving any trace of their identity. To white people all Indians look alike.
Many years have passed since then. At the beginning of this century people began to take an active interest in marking historical places, and old setters picnics and reunions were held in many places over the state. In the year 1912, while I was living at Lincoln, Kansas, I saw the following news item in one of our daily newspapers:
At White Rock, old settlers meeting last Thursday, there were 275 automobiles on the grounds. Within the memory of men in the gathering almost on the same piece of land, the Indians made a raid on a farmer who was breaking prairie with a team of horses, chased him away, cut the harness off the horses and rode them away.--Concordia Kansas.
This picnic ground on White Rock creek, where this celebration took place, is owned by the old settlers association at that place; it is located on the south side of the creek seven miles west of the Pike Pawnee village monument. I attended the next old settlers picnic, held on this ground the following year. I was very much interested in this locality as we had heard much of the Indian depredations at the time they were committed.
In the spring of 1874, prior to the advent of the railroads, I made a business trip up the Republican and White Rock valleys. While on this trip I stopped at the town of White Rock, which was a fair-sized village at that time, located one mile east of the picnic ground, but it is now extinct. Another reason for my coming to this picnic was to see the Pikes Pawnee monument.
The celebration took place in due time. Many people came from nearby towns and surrounding country until a great crowd had gathered; hundreds of automobiles were parked in
every direction around the picnic grounds. Speakers were on hand who spoke to the audience during the day, as is customary on such occasions. Families and groups of men here and there conversed about their experiences in the days gone by; reminiscences of the early days furnished the main topic of the day. There were games for the young people, and a brass band furnished excellent music; the weather was ideal and a good time was apparently enjoyed by all.
As has been stated, my object was to see the monument, which was seven miles distant. I left the picnic ground early, while the sun was yet high above the horizon. By automobile, I, with my driver, followed the road on the south side of the White Rock creek to within a few miles of the monument, which I was obliged to travel on foot. Approaching from the west, the country being quite level, and there being no timber to obstruct the view, I saw the monument from a considerable distance. From the highland where I was approaching the Republican river could not be seen. As I was walking along I wondered why the Pawnees had chosen such a location for their village; on a level plain devoid of shelter and shade, exposed to blizzards in winter time. But as I went toward the monument my thought gradually changed, as gradual as the view changed. From the level elevated edge of the plain at the village site towards the east the ground abruptly slopes down to the valley below. Nearby flowed the Republican river. There were several large springs of clear water and groves of cottonwood trees, all of which could not be seen on the high upland from the direction from which I came.
From this elevation a grand view was obtained, not to be surpassed in the state of Kansas. The silvery stream of the Republican seen in the distance winding its way from a northwest in a southeast direction, its banks fringed with cottonwood trees. The upland from the village site slopes towards the west in an undulating plain. White Rock creek, with it heavy groves of timber, meanders from the west, forming a junction with the Republican within a short distance of the village site.
There we may give free rein to our imagination in forming a mental picture of the surroundings of this Indian village a century ago. The site had advantages that at first I did not recognize. The village could not be approached by an enemy
without being seen. All the surrounding country was stocked with game; herds of buffalo and antelope were grazing within sight of the village during the summer season, the same as domestic cattle in our pastures today. After the buffaloes migrated to the south there were numerous elk and deer, and an abundance of smaller game to furnish meat even in the winter time.
In the valley below, there were favored places protected from hot winds, where no doubt the squaws raised the Indian corn, as charred corn was found in excavations made by explorers on the village site. No doubt the blue-tinted squaw corn of today, flourished in this place a century ago. Wild plums, grapes and berries were found here, and were still gathered here by the early settlers until cultivated fruit became plentiful. There were fish in the river, and in a word an abundance of food the year around was available. It is no wonder that these tribes of Indians who occupied this favorable locality strove to their utmost to retain their inheritance.
The principal settlement in the Republican valley was made in the six years from 1864-70. Most of the Indian trouble centered in and about the White Rock valley where a number of settlers were killed. The vicinity of White Rock was settled three times. After an Indian raid, which drove away the settlers, when quiet was restored, the settlers returned, to be driven away a second and third time. After being driven away some of the settlers never returned to their claims, but new comers arrived to take their places, until finally the Indians were subdued and the trouble came to an end in the year of 1870.
In the latter part of the sixties, Clyde was the frontier town from where parties of buffalo hunters generally started on hunting trips to the buffalo range. Lake Sibley was known as a trading point, while Concordia was unknown until it became the county seat of Cloud County, and the United States Land Office was located there in 1870. While I was living in Manhattan in the latter part of the sixties, reports of Indian depredations being committed on the White Rock frequently came to our ears. In 1866, several families, consisting of William Bleknap, John Rice and family, Nicholas Ward and family, an old man by the name of Flint, John Marling and family, and some others took homested caims along the White Rock creek.
In August of that year a war party of Cheyennes appeared in the vicinity of Marlins cabin and while Marlin was endeavoring to procure one of his horses for the purpose of riding down the creek to notify the settlers, the Indians entered the cabin and dragged Mrs. Marlin into the timber, where she was treated in the most inhuman and fiendish manner, and left in an insensible condition. Early the next morning, Marlin returned with a few settlers, and found his wife wondering over the prairie in an almost frenzied condition. Her terrible suffering had rendered her almost wild. The Indians had taken everything movable from the cabin. The settlers then moved to the stockade in Republic County, which had been built for the protection of the settlers. In a few days, Ward and others returned to their claims, where they remained until spring.
On the 9th of April, 1867, the Indians again attacked the settlement, killing a settler named Bartlett, a Mrs. Sutzer and her little son, and Mr. Ward, taking Mrs. Ward prisoner, since which time no trace indicating her sad fate has been discovered.
The Scandivanian Swedish colony located on the Republican river and laid out the present town of Scandia, in Republic County. The colony extended their settlement up and down the river, and for some distance up the White Rock creek. They protected themselves as well as possible against the Indians, and when attacked left their claims and repaired to the general rendezvous at Scandia for safety. The Excelsior colony, comprised largely of Scotchmen, was established in 1869 and built a blockhouse in this vicinity.
The Swedes returned to their claims, but in May, 1869, they were driven back to Scandia by the Indians, who had attacked hunters and settlers farther west on the creek and Republican river, in which attack a settler named John Dahl was killed.
About that time, Philip Burk, a resident of Marshal County, and six others, while hunting buffalo on the Republican, in the northwest part of Jewell County, were attacked by Indians, and fought their way back to White Rock creek, near its mouth, in Republic County, and upon reaching the Republican river, having exhausted their ammunition, they plunged into the river, and six of them were killed, only one, John McChesney, escaping to tell the fate of the others. A full detail of
those Indian raids in that part of the country may be found in the Homestead Guide, by F. G. Adams, and in pamphlet form, History of Jewell County, by Winsor and Scarborough. (The Homestead Guide existed in the seventies and we were a subscriber to the paper in 1878.)
In August, 1868, the Indians made a raid on the whole frontier settlements, from the Smoky Hill River to Nebraska, mainly upon the Saline, Solomon and Republican. Benjamin White, who resided on what is now called Whites Creek, in Cloud County, was killed and has daughter carried into captivity. On the Republican in the vicinity of White Rock Creek and Scandia the settlers suffered, but the heaviest blow was struck on Whites Creek and the Solomon. Miss Jennie Poxton was teaching school on the present town site of Glasco, on the Solomon, and hearing that the Indians were advancing, she, with her pupils, started for the nearest place of safety. The Indians discovered them and gave pursuit. The teacher was a brave young lady and kept between the little children and the advancing savages and they all reached a place of safety, except a boy, a son of Captain H. C. Snyder, who was overtaken. Young as he was, he made a gallant resistance, but was left for dead. He was not mortally wounded, however, and finally recovered.
At that time a Mr. Morgan, residing in Ottawa County, was wounded and Mrs. Morgan, his wife, taken prisoner, who, with Miss White, captured on White Creek, was kept by the Indians six months, and suffered intensely, until both were rescued by General Custer (a description of which appears in another chapter.) In the spring of 1869 a son of Mr. Atkins was killed by Indians on the Republican River, eight miles above Concordia.
The last raid was made by the Indians in the summer of 1870, when three men were killed at the mouth of Limestone Creek, in Mitchel County, and the settlers of Jewell County, on Buffalo Creek, saved themselves from attack by collecting together and building a barricade, or fort, on the present townsite of Jewell City. It was called Fort Jewell, and is one of the interesting features in the early history of Jewell County.
George Funnell, an Acquaintance
One of the earliest settlers of Clifton gave an interview to the Topeka Capital some years ago, giving his experience of
the early days. Illustrating the inconvenience and hardships of every day life of the frontier settler. From this account I extract the following of what happened in his section of the Republican Valley. After dwelling on the long journeys made on foot and with ox teams, he says: I will now relate a few of the troubles that happened to the early settler with the Indians. This feature of the early settlement of this country was more to be dreaded than the fear of starvation or the strain of our long journey; for connected with these journeys was also the fear of coming in contact with the red man or the thought of having our families and belongings destroyed by them.
In the spring of 1864, while on our way to Fort Kearney, Nebraska, we saw groups of Indians on the hills and they were appearantly making observations. A line of posts extended from Fort Leavenworth to Kearney and on to Denver. These posts were twelve miles apart. Rumors reached us that the Indians were on the war path. We hurried our ox teams with all possible haste and did our business and turned our way homeward, for our houses were unprotected and the alarm should be given that the settlers might flee or organize for defense. We camped on high ground the first night on our way home, and in the morning as we looked north we saw the smoke of the burning posts along the line. We made haste to get away towards home with all possible speed, but remember we had ox teams, and our progress was slow. We did not know but what the Indians had struck the settlement and murdered our families, as they were defenseless.
When we arrived, however, we found the settlement alarmed but unhurt, so we gathered up all we could take with us in our wagons to Dexters ranch, where Clay Center now stands. We gathered there around the well that is now covered in the rear of Eric Swensons office. Putting our wagons in a circle around the well, with what few cattle we had, and the women and children, we waited for the coming of the savage Indians. There were about fifty men, women, and children. The men kept out scouts night and day to give the alarm. We had little protection either in guns or ammunition. Captain Schooley was sent to Fort Riley for help. He returned with twenty muskets and three boxes of ammunition for each gun. Thus armed the men got all the horses they could and started
out to find the Indians.
We left Cooper and Larkin in charge of the herd of cattle and went out as far as White Rock, where we found a company of United States soldiers looking for Indians; also from the soldiers we learned that all the posts were destroyed west of Fort Kearney, except Pawnee, where a sufficient number of settlers and others had assembled and were able to defend themselves. So the Indians did not attack us. At Kelleys ranch Mr. Roper and Mr. Kelley were killed and Miss Roper was taken prisoner. The twenty mounted men soon returned. We decided then to break camp and build a permanent stockade farther north. We came to where Clifton now stands and held an informal meeting and decided to go about three miles farther west. Here we built four large log houses in a square and then returned to our claims.
On May 18, 1866, a party of six hunters, consisting of Louis Cassil, Walter Haynes and two others from Clifton; Roberts, Tallman and two sons of William Collins, then living in Cloud County, were all killed by Indians after a desperate fight on Little Cheyenne Creek some ten miles west of the city of Concordia; an account of which is found in the following pages.
The Story of Lew Cassil, the Trapper
This story was written by Jeff Jenkins, and I copy it from the Northern Tier, published in 1880.
The wild wanderings and daring exploits of trappers, hunters, and scouts on the plains have furnished the basis, real or fictitious, of many of the romances in yellow-covered literature dime novels and story contributions in newspapers, while many a bold adventurer had lived and died unknown, save through a brief account of his death related by some friend, or by his name, perchance, figuring in a list of victims of some Indians massacre.
Among those who have thus perished on the plains of Kansas, whose name deserves to be embalmed in any true historical sketch of the Republican and Solomon Valleys, was Lew Cassil, the trapper and hunter.
NOTE: Here we have a discrepency in the time and names given by different persons. The above names and date were supplied by Thomas Tuffley which I believe is correct.
It was late in the autumn, and the early frosts of October had touched the leaves of the trees and bushes that grew along Elk Creek, near the east line of Cloud County. The evening air was cool and bracing as the sun disappeared behind the western plains, partially obscured by a hazy smoke of an Indian summer in Kansas. It was the autumn of 1860, when but a few settlers had crossed the Blue River.
On a high ridge to the east of Elk Creek, overlooking the valley of the Republican, stood a powerfully developed man, perhaps thirty years of age, dressed in the usual garb of a hunter and trapper, holding in one hand a rifle, while the other caressed the neck of a well-formed, but jaded black horse. The belt around the waist of the hunter contained two large revolvers, while the traps fastened at each end of a rope thrown across the saddle, and roll of blankets attached to the saddle, showed that the owner was a trapper. Lew Cassil, for such was the person I have attempted to describe, had traveled on horseback from Southern Minnesota to trap beaver and pursue his love for adventure on the Republican and Solomon Rivers.
Below on the east end of the creek stood the small cabin of Moses Heller, who had ventured farther westward in Northern Kansas than any other settler. As the sun sank behind the horizon, Cassil was in the act of mounting his horse and proceeding to the bank of the creek, when he discovered a volume of smoke ascending from a point on the west bank about a mile above the cabin; and upon closer observation he saw a large body of Indians in camp preparing their evening meal.
There is deviltry in that out-fit, said Lew, and afore mornin they are sartin to steal something from the settler in that cabin, fur its the nature of an Indian to steal; or I low theyll do worse than that--may be they will kill and scalp the old ones and take the kids prisoner. Theres no trustin a redskin, accordin to my knowledge of human natur, if they are human, and it is Lew Cassil as has his doubts on that pint. Come, Raven, addressing his horse, lets go down to the cabin, and while youre foderin Ill notify the boss of that crip of coppercolored countenances that are likely to be peekin through his winder afore mornin, and lent him a helpin hand, if need be, fur its not in the natur of Lew Cassil to desert a friend or leave the cabin of a settler when there is danger near; and thereupon he mounted his black horse and rode down to the cabin, where
he was met and kindly welcomed by the owner, Mr. Heller.
After an exchange of greetings, and the horse had been provided for, Mr. Heller invited Cassil to enter his cabin and accept his hospitality. Cassil immediately informed his host of the near proximity of the Indians, and offered his services to assist in defending the cabin should an attack be made, but the stalwart settler replied that the Indians had been hunting during the day up the valley, by the report of their guns, and he did not think they would molest him--yet Cassil observed that the settler manifested some anxiety.
When they retired for the night, Cassil persisted in sleeping under his blanket near his horse, Raven, as he feared the Indians might steal him during the night. On the following morning, after Cassil had eaten breakfast with the hospitable settler, and while they were discussing the location of the streams that flowed into the Republican and Solomon, and the prospect of trapping beaver therein, they suddenly found themselves surrounded by a large band of Indians, who said, through their interpreter, that they wanted to have a talk with the big Man, meaning Heller. They said they wanted him to tell all the white men the boundary line of the Indians hunting ground in the Republican and Solomon valleys--that all the country west of a certain line was the hunting ground of the Indians, and that the whites must not hunt or extend their settlements beyond it.
Where is that dead line? said Cassil to the interpreter. As near as the interpreter could describe it, it crossed the Solomon, north and south, near the mouth of Pipe Creek; thence, by way of the creek over the divide to the head of Wolf Creek, in Cloud county; thence down to the Republican River; and thence northeast to the mouth of the Big Sandy in Nebraska.
Well, Mr. Interpreter, or Injun, or whatever you may call yourself, said Lew, you tell your copper-colored companions that I am an American citizen, and that my father fit under Jackson at New Orleans; and I intend to trap beaver and hunt on the Republican and Solomon, and dont propose to be hemmed in by any dead-lines, guide posts or other Injun humbugs.
Heller endeavored to check Cassil, but to no avail. The Indians observed Cassil closely, and one of them began to ex-
amine his horse and traps, when Lew, by a trick he had learned his horse, caused him to kick at and bite the Indians, who narrowly escaped, and as he rejoined his companions he shook his tomahawk and bow at Cassil, as much as to say: I meet you sometime.
Cassil continued to trap and hunt during the winter season, and during the summer spent a portion of his time either at Mr. Hellers, Mr. Brooks, or at the residence of Mr. Haynes, then residing at what is now the town of Clifton, working in the field for those men, or scouting in the vicinity when Indian raids were feared, and each autumn going upon his usual buffalo hunt farther westward.
In the fall of 1862, Cassil was joined at Clifton by a trapper from Illinois, who had an outfit of traps, and soon an attachment existed between them only known and appreciated by the trappers and hunters. Meantime a few families had settled on Elm Creek, a few miles west of Hellers, on the south side of the river. Cassils companion was a small man, and called by Lew and the settlers Little Tim.
Their first adventure, before the trapping season commenced, was a buffalo hunt on Pipe Creek, near the southern boundary of Cloud County. Cassil was mounted on Raven, and Tim on a mule of doubtful disposition. They had managed to bring down a buffalo, and had became separated a distance of some hundred rods, when Tim fired at a bull at close range, wounding him, and at the report of his gun the mule threw Tim over his head. The buffalo made a pass at him, tearing a part of his clothing from his person, when Tim seized the buffalo by the tail and endeavored to draw his hunting knife, with which to cut the animals ham-strings. For a few seconds the scene was exceedingly ludicrous, though involving danger. The buffalo reared and plunged, and a part of the time Tim was in the air, and a part of the time on the ground, on his feet. Cassil, seeing his comrades situation, galloped to his rescue, but when within a few rods of the combatants, Tim succeeded in severing the buffalos ham-strings, and he was then powerless to do any more injury, when a shot from Lews rifle killed him. Tim was exhausted and badly bruised, but after an hours rest, during which Lew could not refrain from outbursts of laughter, as he alluded to Tims elevated position in the air while holding on to the buffalos tail, they signaled for their
teamster, and proceeded to skin the buffalo they had killed, loaded the wagon with meat, and returned to the settlement.
At one time Cassil and Tim were trapping on the Republican, some miles below the mouth of White Rock Creek, and they discovered that their traps had been disturbed, and, from appearances, that beaver had been taken from them. A band of Otoe Indians were known by them to be in camp to the northwest, on White Rock Creek, and Lew, suspecting they had disturbed his traps, determined to reconnoiter the position, and at dawn of day quietly proceeded to the vicinity of his traps. He discovered an Indian raise a trap and therefrom take a beaver. The Indians horse was fastened to a tree a short distance from the Indian and Lew, quietly and unobserved approached the horse, unfastened him, detached the rope from the bridle, made a slip noose at one end, and, secreting himself behind the horse, waited patiently until the Indian approached, when he threw the rope sudenly around the Indianss neck, drawing it tightly, then passed it around his body so as to tie his hands behind him, despite the Indians exertions to free himself. He then ordered the Indian to mount his horse, then Lew tied the legs of the Indian together, passing the rope around the body of the horse in such a manner that the Indian could not dismount. When he had securely bound the Indian to his horse he blew a whistle, which brought Tim to the scene.
Tim, said Lew, hold this horse while I complete the outfit.
What are you doing? asked Tim.
This ere redskin has been sowin his wild oats in our trapping ground, and I propose now he shall harrow them in.
Thereupon Lew cut a bush with the Indians hatchet, and proceeded to fasten it to the horses tail, much to the annoyance and grievance to the animal, that manifested its displeasure by divers attemps to kick and bite its tormentors, despite Tims exertions to steady the craft. When Lew had completed the task of securely attaching the bush to the tail of the horse, he told Tim to turn the head of the animal to the northwest, in the direction of the Indian camp, and let him rip. The horse reared and plunged, and elevated his hind feet as he sped onward over the prairie, while the Indian swayed to and fro like a cottonwood sapling in a hurricane, and Lew and Tim alternately laughed and yelled with the fullest measure of enjoyment at
the ridiculous scene, as the horse and rider passed beyond their vision. Lew suppressed his laughter long enough to indulge in sundry expressions, such as, hold on redskin; harrow them oats in good, maybe theyll grow.
Tim, said Lew, we will have to pack our traps and get out of this ere neck of the woods, for I low when that ere horse and redskin gets into camp there will be a rumpus, and afore night theyll be down here after our scalps. They therefore packed their traps and proceeded down the river, killing an elk in the timber near where the city of Concordia now stands.
Trapping proving unprofitable in the spring of 1864, Tim gave his traps to Cassil and went to the Missouri river towns to engage in freighting across the plains to the mountains. Cassil continued to hunt and scout for the settlers during the summer and autumn season, and during the following winter engaged in trapping.
While trapping during the winter of 1865-66, on the Republican River below the mouth of White Rock Creek, he discovered that his traps had been molested, and he kept a sharp watch on them, until finally one morning, at dawn of day, he saw an Indian raising one of his traps. In the opinion of Cassil, it then and there became necessary, for the welfare of the frontier and trappers generally, that that Indians should pass in his checks for the happy hunting ground, and he passed them in--how, it is needless to mention. It was apparent to Cassil that the Indian must be concealed in order, as Lew expressed, to throw the balance of the tribe off the trail, and as the Indian lay on the ice at the edge of a drift, it was but the work of a moment for Cassil to roll a large log from the top of a drift that fell on the ice with such force as to break and sink a large cake of it, and then he dragged the lifeless form of the Indian to the opening thus made in the ice, plunged the body into the water, and the current bore it away under the ice. Cassil then placed the Indians gun in such a position on the ice near the log as to indicate that the deceased had been sitting on the log on the pile of drift, and that the log had fallen, breaking the ice and drowning the unfortunate redskin. Cassil then hastily packed his traps, and concealing his tracks, proceeded down the river to the settlements. In a few days the Indians came down the river searching for their comrade, and inquired of Cassil and of the settlers if they had seen such an Indian as they
described. Lew had kept his own secret, and of course no one had seen the missing Indian; but the tribe, for some reason unknown to the settlers, were suspicious that Cassil, was in some manner connected with his disappearance.
The fall of 1866, Cassil, Walter, a son of Mr. Haynes, Roberts and Tallman went on a buffalo hunt on Browns Creek, in Jewell County, and were there joined by two sons of William Collins, then residing on Wolf Creek, in Cloud County. They were attacked by Indians on the headwaters of Buffalo Creek, and had a running fight for several miles. Their trail showed that they made a stand and fought on Buffalo Creek, as there were indications of a lively fight having taken place at that spot. An Indians headband containing feathers was found near spots of blood on the grass.
From there the trail gave evidence of a desperate running fight to a grove of timber on Little Cheyenne creek, where Cassil and his companions were ambushed and the entire party killed--not one was left to tell the sad tale. Their bodies, horribly mutiliated, were found several days after the massacre by a party of friends led by Captain Brooks, and conveyed to Clifton, where they were properly buried.
The scene of the massacre showed that a desperate fight had taken place. In one of Cassils hands when found was his empty revolver, in the other several cartridges, as though the last death-grip had clutched them and had not been relaxed, although he had been killed several days previous, showing that he had made a brave defense to the last. The fact that the Indians only took the horses, leaving the wagon and the revolver in the lifeless grasp of Cassil, was evidence that they had suffered a heavy loss in killed and wounded, whom they conveyed away.
Thus perished Lew Cassil, as noble and brave a hunter and trapper as ever traversed the Western plains; and the first settlers of the Republican valley will verify the assertion that beneath this deer-skin garb beat as warm and noble a heart as ever responded to the appeals of humanity. Passengers on the C. B. U. P. Railway, some twelve miles west of Concordia, can see from the car window the grove wherein, in the fall of 1866, fell Lew Cassil, the trapper.
In connection with Lew Cassil, the trapper, I will also mention the name of an intimate friend of his, a fellow trapper.
William Nye, a very honest and sincere old settler, whose name deserves mention in history. A Pennsylvanian by birth, he came to Wisconsin with his parents when a boy, and came to Kansas in 1850 by way of Atchison. He lived for a time on Wild Cat creek in Riley County. In 1864 he took a claim in the Republican valley near what is now the town of Morganville. He knew all the above-named settlers, and in this then sparsely settled country they were termed neighbors.
Nye had been a trapper in Wisconsin, and here having a family of a wife and two small boys to support, and holding down a homestead depended somewhat on the sale of furs for a little extra money. There was an abundance of deer and smaller game, also beaver and other fur-bearing animals in this section of the valley. He never took extensive trips to the west hunting and trapping to be gone all winter on account of his family, who were uneasy about him when absent from home.
Nye generally trapped in nearby streams within a days ride. He met Indians several times while out in search of game. At one time he trapped on the Mulberry creek, while the Delaware Indians were trapping on the same stream. He got along with them fine. He said the Delawares never went on foraying, begging or stealing expeditions like the Pawnees, and never bothered the settlers.
As has been stated Nye was an intimate friend of Lew Cassil and knew all the other men of the party who went on that disastrous buffalo hunt. He well remembered the time when they started, and would have gone with them if it had not been for his wife objecting to his going. Continuing, he said: On account of anxiety of my wife, who would not hear to my accompanying this hunting party, I owe my life; to her alone I owe thanks for keeping my scalp.
The beginning of this century we find him living in Lincoln, Kansas, where his youngest son, Charley, was engaged in the implement business with his partner, W. P. Baker. While William Nye was living in retirement he still hankered for the good old times when everybody was equal, as he expressed himself. He still did some trapping on the Saline river and its tributaries, with what success is shown by the picture.
William Nye, hunter and trapper
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