Quarterly by the Nebraska State Historical Society
Addison E. Sheldon, Editor
sustaining members of the Nebraska State Historical Society receive
Nebraska History and other publications without further
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
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
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.
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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
TO NEBRASKA HISTORICAL SITES
Pawnee-Sioux Battlefield in Massacre Canyon, Hitchcock
Trenton Boy Scouts in foreground--Committee autos in Canyon.
Shows where Pawnees suffered greatest loss.
Photo by A. E. Sheldon, October 15, 1921.
JOURNEYS TO HISTORICAL SITES IN
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
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
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
JOURNEYS TO NEBRASKA HISTORICAL SITES
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
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
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,
Vol IV, no 3 Vol
IV, no 4, part 2
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