The battle of the Arickaree, or Beecher's Island stopped at least one great raid and relieved the people of the Saline and Spillman Valleys from the menace of the Dog Soldiers. Custer had settled Black Kettle and his tribe forever. Troops were stationed at different points within the present bounds of the country, yet for the settlers the worst was yet to come.
Referring to the soldiers it might be mentioned that a body of them were stationed at Schemerhorn's ranch south of Rocky Hill in 1868. The first Battalion of State troops under Captain Baker was stationed near to present site of Lincoln, some of them at the home of M.D. Greene.
State troops were encamped in the same place in 1869. This was part of Company C of the 2d Battalion under Lieutenant H.H. Tucker. The headquarters of this encampment was at the mouth of Lost Creek, west of where Christian College now stands. This was the place where John Hendrickson lived, and was attacked by the Indians in 1868. The place where the log building stood can be found yet. The old pioneer house, a picture of which has been given, contains the logs of the main building. There were some dugouts and a corral. About fifty-six men were quartered here in 1869.
There was a third encampment near Pottersburg. Company A of the 2d Battalion, under Sapt. H.A. Pliley, occupied the blockhouse, which was built in the bend of the creek on the north side of Spillman, just below the mouth of Bacon Creek. It was built after the raid of 1868, and was occupied by the troops that year and the next. it was burned in 1871 or 1872 while unoccupied.
It happened that in May of 1869 there were no troops at any of the above mentioned quarters and the Indians saw an opportunity for a raid. This raid was probably the most horrible thing which ever happened to the settlers of this section of the country.
It has been impossible to ascertain what tribe of Indians made the raid. The Cheyennes get the blame for it, but it seems probable that the Dog Soldiers and Sioux were there also, as the captives were held by the Sioux and were in the tent of the Sioux chief Tall Bull when rescued. Although Tall Bull was a Sioux, his band was in part made up of outlaw Cheyennes.
This raid occurred on Sunday, May 31st. The Indians came without warning and caught the settlers off their guard.
Eli Ziegler and John Alverson, going up Spillman Creek to a claim, saw what they thought to be a body of soldiers, which really was Indians in blue blouses, marching four abreast. They escaped by driving to the nearest timber and gaining the shelter of the banks of the stream. The Indians attacked the settlement of Danes, near the mouth of Trail Creek, killing Lawritzen and his wife. A young man named Peterson, who was staking off a claim, was killed and his face mutilated with a hatchet. Mr. and Mrs. Wichel and their friend Mayershoff were walking over their claim about 3 p.m. when they were attacked by the Indians. The men defended Mrs. Wichel until their powder was all gone, when they were killed and she was captured.
During the fight they advanced considerable distance down the valley and were a mile and a half west of Lincoln when the tragedy occurred. They were Germans of Hanover. They were buried where they met their death.
On the same evening Mrs. Alderdice was visiting Mrs. Kline, a mile and a half west of Lincoln. The two women, Mrs. Alderdice with four children, and Mrs. Kline, with one, started down the river to seek safety. In crossing a strip of prairie two Indians were seen. Mrs. Kline crossed the river, which was up to her shoulders, with her child. Mrs. Alderdice, overcome with terror, sat down on the ground, as she could not escape with her children. The Indians shot the three little boys killing two and leaving the third wounded in the back. They took Mrs. Alderdice and her child and camped that night on Bullfoot Creek, where they choked the child to death, and hung it to a tree.
The same evening Harrison Strange, aged fourteen, and a thirteen-year-old boy named Schmutz, who were about a thousand yards southeast of Lincoln, saw two Indians riding toward them. The old Indian made friends with them by saying "Good Pawnee," and calmed their fears by tapping them gently with a spear. The young stripling rode up, raising himself high in his stirrups and hit young Strange a blow with a club. The lad saw the blow coming and with the words "Oh, Lord," half expressed he fell dead.
The club was broken. Schmutz ran, but was shot with an arrow. It lodged in his side. he pulled it out, but the barbed end remained. Young Strange's two brothers came to the relief and Schmutz was taken to Fort Harker, where ten weeks later he died in a hospital.
The next day a posse found the dead and wounded of Mrs. Alderdice's boys. The live child had an arrow in his back. The arrow was drawn by Phil Lance and Washington Smith with a large pair of bullet moulds, and he recovered at the home of Wm. Hendrickson. The two captured women, Mrs. Wichel and Mrs. Alderdice, were unable to plan an escape because one talked German, the other English.
Mrs. Wichel was about 20 and Mrs. Alderdice about 28. Both were beautiful refined women.
The Wichels were brewers of Hanover, and were quite wealthy. It is reported that Mrs. Wichel had forty silk dresses. They had quantities of fine linen and other elegant household goods. They were both well educated and refined people. Wichel was about thirty. All the Germans were killed, and only three Danes survived. They also plundered and stole among other things, $1,500 in money from Wichels, belonging to Mrs. Wichel's father.
The escape of Mrs. Kline was almost miraculous. She hid for a time in a clump of dogwood. The Indians, in their search, walked around and around her so near that she could have put out her hand and touched them. She could see their moccasins, but fortunately they did not see her. Her baby was awake but kept very quiet, though it smiled, as it was unaware of the danger. This child grew up and lives at the present time in Lincoln. Her name is Mrs. Linker.
The next day (Monday, June 1), Mr. Alderdice, with a few neighbors, including Myron Greene and Martin Hendrickson, were searching for Mrs. Alderdice. After dark they came upon Wm. Earl and learned that a party of Saline Valley men had been surprised by the Indians at their hunter's camp beyond Wolf Creek the Saturday before. It was a rainy day, and the men were at the camp when the Indians came. They all jumped into the bush and made their way tot he third branch of Wolf Creek, where Earl left Humbarger with Dick Alley and Harry Trask, while he came on for help. He had not eaten anything for two days.
Myron Greene started at once for Salina, and the next day came back with a number of volunteers to the rescue. About five that evening a party of twenty started out to find Humbarger. They camped on the Spillman that night. Wednesday noon they met a crowd from the Colorado neighborhood who had already rescued the hunting party. "Jack" Peate and Dayhoff were among the number. Humbarger had been wounded in the hip with an arrow.
For some days after the raid the settlers kept indoors, as they were afraid to go abroad even to get food. When Harrison Strange was buried the whole funeral procession was armed. The funeral was at Wm. Hendrickson's, and the cemetery was on the Schemerhorn place, south of the river. When the body was lowered into the grave and the ceremony over, a buffalo was seen coming from the south. Those who had guns gave chase, killed the animal, and divided the meat among the settlers. The neighborhood was found to be short of ammunition, and Phil Lantz rode to Salina and back seventy-two miles in one day, bringing with him six Spencer carbines and a large amount of ammunition.
After the raid the Indians retreated with their captives and plunder to their village on the sand hills between the Platte and Frenchman Creek, whither they were followed by General Carr, the same summer.
While on the Republican River General Carr struck a large indian trail which had been freshly traveled. At each recent camping place there was the print of a woman's shoe. An article entitled "The Adventure of Maj. Frank North," by Alfred Sorenson, in the Nebraska Historical Collections, gives an account of the recapture of the women.
It is from this article and from letters by Hercules H. Price, who was with General Carr that this account of the recapture is compiled.
As General Carr, with Major North and his Pawnee scouts were pushing on north they came across a bit of torn dress, and later found a note saying, "For God's sake, come and rescue us."
Detachments of the best mounted men from the five companies were selected for a forced march. the wagon trains were left to follow. The next morning, July 11, an Indian village was sighted near the valley of the South Platte. After a careful survey it was decided to attack from the north. However, while making the circuit described by Major North, the command keeping a mile and a half from the village, and swinging around the east side, General Carr became afraid that they had been observed by the Indians, and ordered a charge.
The Indians, lazy with fasting, and satisfied with booty, were resting in the shade of their tents, and were taken completely by surprise. the charge of the cavalry threw everything into instant confusion. The village was admirably situated for a defense had it not been too late.
As the cavalry came riding down the streets of the village, firing volley after volley, the Indians fled in all directions to ravines and rocks. Their ponies were grazing on the prairie, but very few succeeded in reaching them. The soldiers began hunting them down in their hiding places and slaughtering them on every hand. Tall Bull, with his squaw and child and eighteen warriors were surrounded in a narrow ravine. He and his followers were all killed and the squaw and child was taken captive.
Meanwhile an active search for the white captives under Captain Cushing had resulted in finding Mrs. Alderdice and Mrs. Wichel, both badly wounded, in the tent of Tall Bull, who had taken them as wives. Seeing it was impossible to keep them longer he had shot them. Mrs. Alderdice was lying on the ground unconscious, and just as Major North came in with the captive squaw and child of Tall Bull, Mrs. Alderdice drew one or two long breaths and died.
Mrs. Wichel was sitting on a mat conscious and suffering intensely from her wound. She wept for joy at the sight of the white men. After soldiers and Pawnees had finished with the Sioux her wounds were tended and she was made comfortable as possible. Nine hundred dollars of the money was recovered and returned to Mrs. Wichel. her gold watch and some other things were also recovered. The village, which was rich in Indian property and booty taken from the whites, was plundered and burned. The place was called Susannah, which was the Christian name of Mrs. Alderdice. She was buried on the battleground.
The suffering of these two women and their cruel treatment is a pathetic and shameful story which we will not go into in detail. During the absence of Tall Bull they were beaten by his squaw through jealousy. the women were not allowed to see each other above a half a dozen times during their captivity.
Mrs. Wichel married later, but it is not definitely known at this time whether it was a soldier, a blacksmith, or an army surgeon.
This was the end of the Indian troubles so far as this section of the country was concerned. the Sioux were crippled as the Dog Soldiers and Black Kettle's followers had been the year before. Indians were seldom seen in Lincoln County after that, although it is plain from the attitude of the early newspaper that the people took a keen interest in the warfare against them in other places, and favored the extermination of the Modocs.