A. M. Brooking of Hastings, was a valued
visitor at the Historical Society rooms recently. We have the
promise of an early historical article from him on Indian
Phil R. Landon (Parson Bob) writes from
Sterling: I am taking good care of the old Indian trail on north
acre and will erect a monument soon for its
THE MAJOR DAY MILITARY PAPERS
A recent letter from Carson City, Nevada,
reads in part as follows:
I have found among the papers belonging to my father, the late Major Hannibal Day, U. S. A., certain papers relating to the early history of the then territory of Nebraska. I am forwarding them to you.
S. H. DAY.
The documents transmitted with the letter are
four in number, two printed and two in manuscript. They are
briefly described as follows:
1. Map of Wagon Road from Platte river to Omaha Reserve, Dakota City and Runningwater. George L. Sites, Supt., 1858.
This map contains names and locations of the following places no longer found on the map of Nebraska: Excelsior, Iron Bluffs, Saunte, Saline, Fairview, Eldorado, Farmer City, Golden Gate, Cuming City, Central Bluffs, Omadi, Logan, Wacanana, Secret Grove.
2. Map of Fort Ridgely and South Pass Road. This road ran from Fort Ridgely in Minnesota southwest across the Dakota region to a point near the junction of the White river with the Missouri. Presumably it was to be extended up the White river toward the South Pass where the Oregon Trail crossed the Rocky Mountains. 1858.
3. (Manuscript) Pen and Ink sketch map showing road between Fort Laramie and Fort Randall traveled by the 2nd Infantry and 4th Artillery in the years 1859-60.
This original military map is a most valuable document. It shows the road, the camping places, the chief topographic features of the route used in the early marches across the then nearly unknown Niobrara region. The route crossed the North Platte on a ferry near Fort Laramie,- angled northeast by Rawhide creek to the Niobrara near Agate Springs, followed the Niobrara to a point south of the present town of Cody in Cherry county, then crossed to the lakes near the head of Minnechadusa creek, thence northeast to the head of the Keya Paha and down that stream and its divide to Fort Randall. The total distance as measured was 365 1/4 miles. Twenty camps are marked on the route. This was one of the routes (approximate) advocated for the Pacific railroad at that time:
4. (Manuscript). Military. journal of the march of bat-
talion of 2nd Infantry from Fort Laramie to Fort Randall
under command of Major H. Day--May 15--June 3, 1860.
This record contains notes of the journey, each day's march, incidents, weather, Indians, characteristics of the country, with pen and ink pictures of some points.
The manuscript map and journal show at least three things hitherto unknown to the editor:
a. Eden Springs was the early military name for the famous Boiling Springs about eight miles southwest of Cody Nebraska.
b. The map shows Minnechadusa creek flowing northeast, into the Keya Paha river instead of into the Niobrara below Valentine.
c. Military names of creeks along the route have changed in later years. Bead Root Creek is now Bear Creek. Marrow Bone Creek is now probably Spring Creek. There are several other similar cases. Antelope Creek is named and placed where it is today.
It is the fortune of the editor to have homesteaded in 1887 in the country crossed by this military march and to have ridden horseback over the entire region. He confesses to regret that the early and appropriate name of Eden Springs did not stick to the remarkable body of clear water bursts from the foot of the high sand bluff on the Niobrara, where is now Boiling Springs Ranch. After a hard trip over hot sand hills the beautiful wooded flat with its extraordinary springs throwing up columns of clear water is quite enough to earn the title of Eden from the traveler.
Hastings, Nebraska, October 20, 1921.
Having just received a copy of the "Nebraska
History and Records of Pioneer Days," I have read it with much
pleasure and especially the article entitled "The Adventure at
Walker's Ranch." But in this article I notice some few errors that
I believe should be corrected. In the first place Walker's Ranch
is better located by referring to it as three miles northeast of
Wilcox, in Kearney County, Nebraska, this being its nearest town.
Second, the name of Mr. Ball was Daniel B. Ball and not David B.
There are also some particulars of the matter in which
Ball captured the two desperadoes at the ranch that vary
materially from Ball's story. Mr. Ball has told this story over
and over again to the writer and I am very familiar with his
version of that capture. Mr. Bengston has followed Mr. Ball's
version of the matter and agrees fairly well with him excepting
how he decoyed Smith's partner into the barn and there captured
Ball with his assistant had come up from the south, as told by Mr. Bengston, where a few hundred yards from the ranch-house was located some haystacks. He had left his posse secreted behind these haystacks and when he had reached the barn and unhitched his horses, as detailed by Mr. Bengston, he busied himself about the buggy until Smith's partner came out. He greeted him in a friendly manner, asked to have his horses put in the barn and gave the desperado one horse to lead in. He followed close behind this horse chatting all the time and directed his assistant to bring in the other horse. When Ball and the desperado had reached the stall the desperado removed the bridle, put on a halter, and was about to tie the horse to the manger when Ball threw himself upon the desperado and by his weight threw him to the ground and sought to put the hand-cuffs on him.
The fellow was yelling at the top of his voice. Ball knew that he had but a few seconds to complete hand-cuffing the man or Smith would get both him and his assistant. He called to his assistant and as Ball said, "It seemed as though he would never get there." But soon the desperado was handcuffed and Ball sprang to his feet And drew his gun on Smith just as Smith entered the barn door. Ball having the advantage by being behind the partition in the stall, Smith threw up his hands and the capture was complete before the posse was called from behind their haystacks.
It seems to me that this version of the capture is more of a credit to the wonderful old frontiersman, Daniel B. Ball. It showed what risks he would take, his indomitable courage, his quick mind and strong will.
I might add that one of Mr. Ball's daughters still resides on the old ranch. A new house has been built and the old ranch house in which the murder was committed is fast falling to decay.
F. L. CARRICO.
Of this issue of Nebraska History 1,800
copies are printed. Our mailing list includes 576 annual
sustaining members, 14 life, 14 honorary, 19 corresponding, 134
historical and scientific societies and 558 newspaper exchanges.
We plan to have 1,000 sustaining members before the close of
A letter to the editor from W. M. Caldwell of
the Federal Land Bank of Houston, Texas, raises an interesting
historical question. The letter cites the following extract from a
rare book commonly called Hunter's Narrative, copy of which is in
the Nebraska Historical Society library:
We passed the summer in hunting and roving; and in the fall, ascended the La Platte several hundred miles, with a view more particularly to take furs. Near the place where we fixed our camp, which was on the Teel-te-nah, or Dripping Fork, a few miles above its entrance into the La Platte, is an extensive cave, which we visited on several occasions, and always with great reverence and dread.
This cave is remarkable as having been the cemetery of some people, who must have inhabited this neighborhood, at a remote period of time, as the Indians who now occasionally traverse this district, bury their dead in a manner altogether different.
The entrance to this cavern was rather above the ground, and though narrow, of easy access. The floor was generally rocky, and much broken; though in some places, particularly in the ante-parts, strips of soil appeared, covered with animal ordure. Parts of the roof were at very unequal distance from the floor, in some places it appeared supported by large, singularly variegated, and beautiful columns; and at others supported formations resembling huge icicles, which I now suppose to be stalactites.
Lighted up by our birch-bark flambeaux, the cave exhibited an astonishing and wonderful appearance; while the loud and distant rumbling or roar of waters through their subterranean channels filled our minds with apprehension and awe. We discovered two human bodies partly denuded, probably by the casual movements of the animals which frequent this abode of darkness; we inhumed and placed large stones over them, and then made good our retreat, half inclined to believe the tradition which prevails among some of the tribes, and which represents this cavern as the aperture through which the first Indian ascended from the bowels of the earth, and settled on its surface.
Our camps were fixed on a high piece of ground near the
cave, in the vicinity of the Dripping Fork, a name which this
stream takes from the great number of rills that drip into it from
its rocky and abrupt banks. Near this place is a salt lick, to
which various herds of the grazing kind resort in great numbers.
The buffalo, deer and elk have made extraordinary deep and wide
excavations in the banks surrounding it, where we used often to
secrete ourselves, sometimes merely to observe the playful gambols
of the collected herds, and terrible conflicts of the buffaloes;
but more frequently do destroy such of them as were necessary to
supply our wants. The beaver, otter, and muskrat, which find safe
retreats in the cavernous banks of this stream, were very
abundant, and our hunt was attended with great success.
John D. Hunter's book entitled "Manners and Customs of Several Indian Tribes located West of the Mississippi," was published in Philadelphia in 1823. The story of its author, as given by himself, is that he was captured by the Kickapoo tribe of Illinois when a very small child, carried away by them and lived with them until a young man. He learned Indian languages and was unable to speak English until his escape from them. He was, for time, in the service of Manuel Lisa the noted Indian fur trader in the Nebraska country. So far as known neither the Dripping Fork of the Platte referred to by him nor the cave mentioned have been identified. From the description given by him they are rather more likely to be found in Colorado head waters of the La Platte than in Nebraska. They may, indeed, be the gift of his imagination to posterity. We know that alleged travels in the Nebraska region, such as La Hontan's, are pure fabrications.
A still later letter from Mr. Caldwell answering the reply made his first letter, says:
After a very careful examination I have been unable to find where any of the other pathfinders of the West had mentioned such a cave as that visited by Hunter, and beginning to feel as some historians have already branded him,--an impostor. Your letter would indicate that they were not far wrong.
John Dum Hunter figured in early Texas history and was assassinated here, his death being instigated by Chief Bowles of the Cherokees--or so claimed by the enemies of Bowles.
Once a year the Pioneer Historical Society of South Omaha holds its reunion. The meeting held December 4, 1921, was a fine example. Five hundred people were present crowding Eagle Hall. South Omaha is a cosmopolitan city--
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