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Published Quarterly by the Nebraska State Historical Society
Addison E. Sheldon, Editor

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All sustaining members of the Nebraska State Historical Society receive Nebraska History and other publications without further payment.

Vol. IV

October-December, 1921


   Josiah M. Ward, writer of frontier stories for the Denver Post and other publications asks for definite information found in our library upon the Fontenelle family. Mr. Ward has been doing research work on the men of the plains and mountains who lived in the period 1820 to 1849.

   Frank Pilger, president of the Pierce State Bank, sends check for Volume I of our publications, printed in 1885 and says "I desire to be Connected with the Society permanently." Mr. Pilger's interest in Nebraska history has been constant for many years.

   The Union Pacific Magazine is the title of a new Nebraska monthly publication, issued from headquarters at Omaha, edited by Howard Elliott. Besides serving as an advertiser of the Union Pacific region the magazine has a fine field for historical study and publication and seems likely to live up to its opportunity.

   A valued addition to our library is a scrap book kept by W. F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) in 1887 on the occasion of his first tour of England with his Wild West show. The book is a gift from Mrs. Julia E. Goodman, sister of Col. Cody, through Mrs. George G. Waite of Lincoln. The clippings are from many representative British periodicals and give a vivid picture of Col. Cody and his first triumphant European tour.

   Former Representative W. E. Thorne, of Bladen, in sending in membership for the coming year adds:
   "The Publications of the Society are very interesting to me."



   Richard Shunatona, son of one of the prominent early Otoe chiefs, writes us from Pawnee, Oklahoma. He was born in Nebraska and will act as a representative of the Historical Society in gathering historical material from the Otoe tribe. The State Historical Society is now camped on former Otoe territory. Forty-five years ago the Otoe were familial visitors at every settler's cabin in the valley of the Blues. Shunatona is in English, "Big Horse."

   Ezra Meeker, pioneer of the Oregon Trail, still lives. His 91st birthday was celebrated at Seattle, December 29, 1921. The "Borrowed Time Club" helped him celebrate. All Nebraskans will recall Mr. Meeker, his oxen and Oregon Trail wagon, as they drove through Nebraska in 1906-7, going on east as far as Washington and New York City. Mr. Meeker's first trip overland to the Pacific coast was made in 1852. His books and numerous photographs taken at various points on the Oregon and California Trails are among the valued material in the Historical Society rooms. He is truly a remarkable pioneer, worthy representative of his great era in the history of the west.

   Hector Maiben of Palmyra, responds to our invitation for opinion upon the value of the Lillie corn husking hook by the following:
   I notice your request for information regarding the value of the Lillie corn husker.
   I began using one of them when 30 years old that is in '93. Younger persons probably get the hang of it better and may get more advantage. But it is absurd to claim so much benefit as is done in the note you publish.
   I should estimate the gain at about 5%, not more, for me, but perhaps more for many who did not understand corn husking till they learned, then using the hook. It has the merit that it almost compels its user to adopt a better way than the old fashioned one of stripping back first one side then the other.

   From Henry C. Richmond, former Chief Clerk of Nebraska House and later a member, we quote the following in a letter enclosing annual membership fee, from Philipsburg, Pa.:
   More perhaps as a matter of sentiment, and the fact you are running it impels me to forward you this feeble reminder of my interest.
   For several months, I presume, I shall be engaged in the task of earning a livelihood hereabouts, and I am pleased to say I cannot complain since affairs were awfully dead in Nebraska when I left, commercially speaking. I often think of you and your work, and hope that you will not do as did dear Dr. Wolfe, slave your life away without stopping to take a rest.
   Long since I have cast from me any desire to be a statesman again." I am settled down now, in the work of separating Pennsylvanians from their money--returning it to them of course through one plan or another. They actually insist upon seeing it start back in this country. But, they are very dear folks here, I assure you, and have treated me, as at home, perhaps far better than I deserve.



   The historical library is pleased to add to its Nebraska author material an address by Rev. Luther M. Kuhns, of Omaha, on "Constantine the Great,"--eulogy and historical oration on the Roman emperor.

   Mrs. Sarah Gilbert, now of Atlantic, Iowa, writes a fine, sympathetic letter upon the work the Historical Society is doing. Her father was a homesteader in the Republican valley when the land office was at Bloomington. Buffalo and antelope steak was then the staple diet in her home. She is writing some of her recollections.

   Victor Rosewater, Omaha, contributes a pamphlet copy of an article by him in the American Economic Review. Mr. Rosewater criticises the statement that real wages in 1918 were less than in 1915.

   A letter from Winnie Richards Durland speaks of the work of her husband, Senator A. J. Durland, formerly of Norfolk, who died at Seattle, May 28, 1921. Senator Durland was the father of the Norfolk hospital for insane, introducing the bill in the legislative session of 1885. He lived 27 years in the state and was one of the active and farsighted men influential in the growth of the Elkhorn valley.

Sterling, Nebraska,
Jan. 1, 1922.

   I am in receipt of notification of the Forty-fifth annual meeting of the Society. Sorry that I cannot be with you all, but my wife is very low (bedfast) and has been for four years. I would like to exchange experiences with some of the "cow punchers" as I have slept with my head on a saddle from the "Aricaree" to the "Big Horn."
   I feel stronger than I have been for over thirty years but await "seeing the other side of The Great Divide," with interest.

Yours fraternally,       
(Phil R. Landon.)  

   From former Representative George F. Smith of the State Bank of Waterbury, Dixon county, we are very glad to quote the following letter.
   I have just received numbers one and two, Vol. IV, Nebraska History and Record of Pioneer Days in its new form and will say that I am delighted with it.
   It came in my mail last night and I have read and re-read every word in them.
   I think the magazine form for the publications is a decided improvement and every old settler and pioneer of this great State should have it.
   I trekked across the State of Iowa from Illinois in a prairie schooner when a boy and landed here in Dixon County, Nebraska in the spring of 1873 and somehow I feel that I am a pioneer.
   I don't see very much in the magazine, however, from this part of the State, but perhaps that is due to the extreme modesty of some of us old fellows and our reluctance to getting into print.
   Many an interesting tale of early day occurrences might be told if we would just refresh our memories a little. I might send you a little



skit sometime if the publication of it would not discredit the magazine.
   The Old Mormon Trail made by the company of that section who moved from Florence to Niobrara--I fail to recall the year--and wintered there, passed through Dixon County.
   I have followed it for miles through the prairie grass in an early day. I wish we could locate it now and place a marker somewhere on it.

   From Sarka B. Hrbkova of the Foreign Language Information Service, 15 West 37th Street, New York City, we quote the following:
   I wish I could be present at the meeting of the Society. I think I'd like to contribute some first hand information on "Nebraska and Women in War Time and After."
   I trust the New Year will bring you full measure of good things and true--mostly the true--the others don't count for as much.
   From our office window I can look west over the Hudson to the Jersey shore and I often look beyond the river's mists to the plains of Nebraska and to those of its people who rang true.

   From Mrs. Alice E. D. Goudy, of Auburn, we quote the following concerning one of the noted pioneers of this State who still abides in the country which he has contributed so much to develop:
   My father, Major William Daily--aged 93 past, very greatly enjoyed Volume XIX--containing account of contested election of his brother Samuel G. Daily--of course Major Daily remembers much of the campaign in which he took part. He has had a most unusual store of remembrances--incidents, etc., of all the early period in which he had very active part.
   The Major is well preserved physically--would be still active except for loss of eye sight--almost entire, which deprived him of vigorous exercise.
   All matters pertaining to Nebraska History--the Historical Society especially--are of keenest interest to me.

   Louis J. Loder settled on Salt Creek near Waverly in 1857. He is still hale and strong at the age of 87. He readily recalls the time--familiar even to the childhood recollection of the editor--when the settlers gathered their salt from Salt Basin, when the nearest trading point were Plattsmouth and Nebraska City and when antelope and deer were seen from the log cabin door almost every day.

   On January 5, at Rock Bluffs, Cass county, a log house built by Robert Stafford in 1860 was consumed by fire. The Weeping Water Republican of January 12 gives a fine, sympathetic account of this building and of the city of Rock Bluffs which was a Missouri river town of bright prospects and flourishing business in the sixties. When the Burlington crossed the Missouri at Plattsmouth, about eight miles distant, and the steamboats ceased navigation of the river, Rock Bluffs fell away. The editor of this magazine visited the old town about eight years ago. A few of the old buildings yet remained--some of them deserted. Photographs were taken of a number of them. The log house destroyed was once regarded as a fine building, being two stories high with rock basement.



Picture or sketch

Pawnee-Sioux Battlefield in Massacre Canyon, Hitchcock County.
Trenton Boy Scouts in foreground--Committee autos in Canyon.
Shows where Pawnees suffered greatest loss.
Photo by A. E. Sheldon, October 15, 1921.


By Addison E. Sheldon

   This is the first (for publication in this quarterly) of a series of short stories upon notable historical sites in Nebraska. Each story is preceded by a personal pilgrimage to and study of the site and its literature.
   It is time for Nebraskans to know more of bur places of historic interest; to mark them with worthy monuments; to find in them inspiration for holding in cherished memory noble lives and deeds of Nebraska pioneers.

The Last Nebraska Battlefield of the Sioux-Pawnee War

   Four of us left the city of Columbus in the afternoon of October 13, 1921. One was a frontier soldier of fifty years ago, captain of Pawnee Indian scouts, rider in desperate charges into hostile camps--Lute H. North of Columbus. An-



other, a veteran in the U. S. Indian service, leader in winning wild men to the new, machine-agriculture, dweller with them on the open plain and in the earth lodge, guide and adviser in long marches and great crises, John W. Williams of Genoa. The third a digger for bones and flints in old village sites and grave yards--curator of the Historical Society museum--Elmer E. Blackman. The fourth held the sheel of the Essex car.
   Our course was southwest, following, as nearly as good roads permitted, the trail of the Pawnee tribe as it set out on its last Nebraska buffalo hunt in July, 1873. The hunting trails of those years followed the line of least resistance, diagonal swells across the valleys, high ridges over the divides. They forded the streams at the shallows, and rounded the edge of the swamps. Vainly we tried to trace the old trails as we rolled over the Lincoln Highway into Columbus, crossed the Platte where many islands break its channel into a handful of silver streams, shot through the twilight across the vales and prairies into the city of Hastings, where our first night out was spent. The eye could only search the landscape and the imagination surmise where the ponies dragged the tepee poles in the old days.
   Early the next morning we were going thirty-five miles an hour over the Detroit-Lincoln-Denver highway, headed for the Republican valley. Some change from the old days the long line of the Pawnee nation strung itself out,--warriors, squaws, children, dogs and ponies,--across the plains. Impossible now to do more than look at the map and trace a rough line showing the route pursued by Williamson and his Pawnee in 1873 and other lines indicating where Captain North and the military trailed the high divide between the Platte and Republican in the Sioux-Cheyenne war in 1864-70.
   Like a lake bed lies the great wide bowl of corn and wheatland--heart of Phelps and Kearney counties. Across this our auto sped. Axtell, Funk, Minden, Holdrege--then the deep ravines which give notice of the nearing Republican--then down the long tongue of divide which leads into Oxford. How the pulse stirred while memory and imagination kindled at the great inland valley stretching to the west! Greatest buffalo



pasture of America! Every summer the migration of bison herds from the Black Hills and surrounding plains southward to the tender gramma grass and pleasant waters of the Republican proved its attraction. Following the buffalo came the coyote,--then the Indian--finally the white men--each hunting the choicest beef steak that ever graced a campfire or banquet hall.
   What old-time tales fell from the lips of our party as we turned up the valley road, perfection smooth with powdered dust. Many an incident of the buffalo days and early settlement, of the first quaint log-cabin pioneers who risked their lives in order to live "where the game was" in the great outdoors of the West. Each member of our party had seen the valley in its early years and each had his tale to tell.
   It was at the end of the tawny October afternoon when we crossed the Frenchman river at Culbertson and turned west up a long hill crowned with the high divide which separates the Frenchman from the Republican. Seven miles out one sees, from the top of the hill, the fingers of a giant's hand stretch from the Republican northwest toward the Frenchman.
   Each finger is a deep canyon or ravine parting the prairie with almost impassable chasm. It is fifty-two years since Captain North and his company of Pawnee scouts picked up the trail of Tall Bull and his band of murderers on these plains. But of this another time. It is forty- eight years since Williamson and his Pawnee had a most tragic experience in one of the Giant's fingers.

   In the early morning of August 5, 1873 the Pawnee nation broke camp on the Republican a few miles west of where Trenton now stands and started on its last day's hunt for buffalo.
   There were three hundred warriors, four hundred women and children, twelve hundred ponies and a thousand dogs. They had had successful hunts on the Beaver and the Driftwood. Already their ponies were well loaded with dried buffalo and robes. The day before three white men had come to their camp and told Mr. Williamson that Sioux warriors had been watching the Pawnee for several days and that a large party of them were camped close by on the Frenchman. Sky Chief,

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