AND RECORD OF PIONEER DAYS
Published Monthly by the Nebraska State Historical Society
Editor, ADDISON E. SHELDON
The Staffs of the Nebraska State Historical Society and
Legislative Reference Bureau
Subscription $2.00 Per Year
q All sustaining members of the Nebraska State Historical
Society receive Nebraska History without further payment.
q Entered as second class mail matter, under act of July 16,
1894, at Lincoln, Nebraska, April 2, 1918.
(handwritten - "See C 1635")
GEORGE BIRD GRINNELL
GRINNELL WRITES ABOUT THE PAWNEE
George Bird Grinnell long ago
established a reputation as an authoritative historian of
the Pawnee, the most important tribe of Indians of whom
Nebraska was the principal habitat. On the second of March,
1920. Mr. Grinnell sent the secretary of the Historical
Society the following story of an interesting incident in
the life of this once powerful tribe of the Nebraska
York 1889 - I tell something about the way in which the
Skidi tribe came to be taken into the then large village,
situated at one time on the Platte near Fremont, and later,
up to the year 1874, on the Loup River in Nebraska about
where the town of Genoa now stands. A long time ago I
received some details of the fighting described on pages 233
and 234 of the Pawnee book; details which have never been
published and which possess for me a certain interest in
connection with rather ancient Pani history. The account was
given about 1876 to Major Frank North and his brother by a
very old Chaui Indian. The book says "There was a sharp
rivalry between the Chaui and the Skidi and their disputes
finally culminated in all unprovoked attack by the Skidi on
some Pani while they were hunting buffalo."
between the bands, in which disputes, however, there was
no loss of life.
I am returning you Mr. Grinnell's
letters and want to thank you for the papers you sent. The
medal is very interesting. I think perhaps I know as much
about the old Skidi village that was located up near Spring
Creek as any man living or dead. I discovered it in 1871 and
on my trip home to Columbus stopped at the Skidi village and
had a long talk with Eagle Chief about it. The walls of the
dirt lodges were some three feet high in this old village
and one of them was so large (two hundred ten feet in
diameter) that I wondered how they could have covered it and
asked Eagle Chief about it. He said it must have been a
council house and that perhaps it had no roof on it. He said
the Skidi lived there at two different periods. It was from
this village that the Skidi got separated and part of them
went north and never came back. This band are now the
Arickara. This happened when they lived there the first
time. They then abandoned that village and moved up the
North Loup but later came back to the Spring Creek village
but he had no idea how long it might have been. I should
like to say something about the name of Pita Leshara but it
is too hard for me to write. There might have been a Skidi
who took that name but there never was a Skidi that was head
chief of the Pawnee tribe after the consolidation of the
four bands. I guess I had better stop before I put my foot
in it as I am too old to get into an argument with
Following is the address by Colenel
[sic] B. W. Atkinson at the centennial celebration
of the founding of Fort Atkinson, on October 11, 1919. The
punctuation, capitalization, etc., are just as the colonel
Gad Humphreys was in command of the regiment and Gen.
Atkinson, who at that time was the Commander of the 9th
Military District, accompanied the Expedition in command. In
a personal letter Gen. Atkinson states,"We were greatly
retarded by the steamboats, which formed the part of our
transportation, not being able to navigate in the Missouri
with any facility. There were three, neither of which
reached any given point. One ascended only 150 miles,
another 350 miles, and the third 450 miles. The cargoes of
all having afterwards to be carried up in keel boats. The
difficulties, of course, kept back the progress of troops as
it would not have done to have proceeded and left our
supplies unprotected, and besides it was necesary
[sic] to have them to subsist on. Notwithstanding
all the embarrassment we reached Council Bluffs, a point 700
miles above the mouth of the river, on the first of October.
Here, from the vicinity of several powerful tribes of
Indians, it became necessary to erect a post. The troops
were landed and put to work to cover themselves for the
winter, and erect the necessary defenses, all of which were
completed in season, and we remained contented with the
prospect of sending one of the regiments to the mouth of the
Yellowstone early in the Spring. The Rifle Regiment which
was stationed at a point 450 miles up the Missouri was
joined to my command." In another personal letter, Gen.
Atkinson writes, "As the troops were halted at the Bluffs
our military duties consisted in looking after the conduct
and movements of the Indians, and to maintain proper
discipline. Much idle time of course might have been
expended, but instead of indulging in it, we turned our
attention to farming and raising stock." In December, 1822,
Gen. Atkinson again wrote in a private letter, "The first
season we made 12,000 bushels of corn, the second 16,000
bushels, and the third 20,000 bushels. Besides more potatoes
and all sorts of garden vegetables than can be devoured. We
have have a stock of 300 cattle, and the troops have the
milk of 100 cows. We have a saw mill, and a grist mill, and
I think in another year we shall subsist ourselves without
drawing upon the interior." Thus was started the first post
west of the Missouri, and the first settlement in Nebraska.
From Chittenden's History of the American Fur Trade of the
Far West, the following relating to Gen. Atkinson is copied:
"He conducted the Expedition with the practical good sense
with which this officer was distinguished." Chittenden also
states that Gen. Atkinson devised and used on the trip down
the Ohio River from Pittsburg to St. Louis, a form of stern
wheel paddle boat, the wheel of which was worked by the
troops aboard, and that this method of propulsion proved
such a success that he adopted the same method of propelling
a number of keel boats up the river to Council Bluffs.
That letter I cannot quote, being inaccessible now, but I am sure a copy is in the Historical Society's records. The letter was copied and sent by me to the "Omaha Bee." It was published and followed (as recollected) by a letter in the same newspaper which stated Gen. Atkinson's letter has settled a long dispute as to the exact location of the first Fort. This letter was the beginning of my acquaintance with the Nebraska Historical Society, for I shortly received a letter from the Honorable J. Sterling Morton, asking me to write an account of the Missouri River Expedition, from St. Louis to Council Bluffs, from such data as was accessible. I dug into the old records of the 6th Inf., (being Staff Officer of that famous regiment) but before the completion of my work, was ordered to the Philippine Islands. The material collected was sent to the Secretary of the Society. On my return a few years later, I was again hunted up and asked to complete my work, but before this could be done, orders again took me back to the Islands. I sent by express to the Secretary a number of the old order books of the regiment and photographs were made of some of the old orders, the books being returned to me on the eve of my sailing. A photograph of one of the old orders appears in the State Journal of Sept. 14, last. In 1911, while stationed at Ft. Crook, I made a trip to this old Fort with my wife and son. We enjoyed a most interesting and pleasant day under the guidance of Mr. Woods going over the old reservation. My son dug up and brought away as a souvenir a half brick from a point where Mr. Wood told him his great grandfather's quarters stood. A few weeks ago your well known Secretary, Mr. Sheldon, located me again through the War Dept. and invited me most earnestly to come here today and make a reply to the sentiment "Gen. Atkinson, the founder of Ft. Atkinson." I have endeavored to do this, be as brief as possible and trust I have not worn out your patience. I thank you.
commissioners to make treaties with the Upper Missouri River
Indians started from Fort Atkinson, on the transport
Antelope, October seventh, 1825, and the Missouri Republican
of October 24th notes that they arrived at St. Louis on the
20th of the month.
THE LAND WHERE THE JONATHANS
Society, brings fresh evidence of the productive power of
that favored region and was inspiration for the following
There's a bench of brown bluffs
By the Big Muddy shores,
From Plattsmouth way down to Saint Joe, --
Where God finished making the world out-of-doors, --
'Tis the land where the Jonathans grow.
There the soil is wind-blown from old lakes overthrown
In the ages gone by long ago,
But it blossoms in May while the white orchards say:
"Watch. the Winesap and Jonathan grow."
The alfalfa plant blooms on the crest of those hills
While its roots pierce the subsoil below,
And the apple roots sink sixty feet deep to drink
Of the springs where the sweet waters flow.
The warm sun and soft breeze
Kiss and rock the tall trees
In the long summer days to and fro,
Till they blend into one - waters, wind, soil and sun --
As their children, the Jonathans, grow.
There's the tang of old wine in those apples divine,
There's the breath of south winds in their cells,
And a musky perfume like the alfalfa bloom,
Which the apple roots drink from deep wells.
There's a red, rosy bliss like a lover's last kiss
On the check of a maiden I know,
Blushing deep on the face of the Jonathan race
In this land where the Jonathans grow,
Till the end of my days let me live in that land
Where the apple tree blooms -- and the rose --
Where the honey bee sips purple alfalfa lips
And the nectar-like Jonathan grows.
- Addison E. Sheldon.
H. M. BUSHNELL
(handwritten - "See C 1569")
Death of H. M. Bushnell:
The following article lists the states which
have a state flag and gives year of adoption with
thereon (on reverse side the great seal), white silk
fringe at fly edge.
William Hartford James, of Colfax, Washington, former secretary of state and acting governor of Nebraska, died February 2nd. He was born at Marlon, Ohio, October 15, 1831, and received life education in the public schools supplemented by two years in the academy there. In 1853 he removed to Des Moines, Iowa, and was admitted to the bar. He was married to Louisa Epler in 1857 and moved to Dakota county, Nebraska, where he had previously filed upon a claim. During his residence of fourteen years in Dakota county he was engaged in the practice of law and surveying; was a member of the first board of trustees of Dakota City and first board of aldermen, and was county attorney and justice of the peace. He was president of a democratic mass convention held in St. Johns, July 11, 1857. In 1864 he was appointed by Abraham Lincoln register of the land office at Dakota City and served five years. In the fall of 1870, Mr. James was elected secretary of state, on the republican ticket, and after the impeachment of Governor Butler in 1871, he became acting governor. In 1877 he removed to Colfax, Washington, having been appointed register of the United States land office. He took a prominent part in public affairs in the early days of Colfax and at one time was mayor.
Charles Frederick Gunther, a romantic figure in the history of Chicago, died February 10th; was a world renowned collector of historical art, especially Civil and Revolutionary war paintings and relics; born in Germany, March 6th, 1837; came with his parents to Pennsylvania in 1842. He was engaged in business in Memphis in 1860 and during the Civil War he served as an officer on a Confederate boat. He removed to Chicago in 1868 where he established one of the largest candy factories of the West; served as city treasurer and was once candidate for governor of Illinois. Mr. Gunther was an honorary member of the Nebraska State Historical Society, elected in 1911, at which time he presented to the Society a large oil painting depicting buffaloes grazing upon the Nebraska plains.
Mrs. J. W. Newell, resident of Nebraska
since 1862, died in Blair, March 8th.
Return to NE History & Record of Pioneer Days
© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller