LETTER FROM REV. M. A. SHINE ON
THE MASSACRE OF THE
Plattsmouth, Nebr., July 5, 1923.
Dear Mr. Sheldon:
Being somewhat pressed for time, it has been impossible for me to give as much attention to Baron de Villiers Article, as I would wish.
However, having read the original French article. and your excellent and substantial translation of the same, I most certainly agree with you, that this article on the Villasur Expedition of 1720, is of great historical importance to Nebraska.
The three new documents, namely, the Leaf from the Spanish journal of the expedition; the letter of Governor Boisbriant, dated November 22, 1720; and the Mining Engineer Lallemand's letter of April 5, 1721, give us some new and contemporaneous evidence of the expedition.
Hitherto, the reports have been very conflicting and confusing, and the scene of the massacre has been variously located.
While I was inclined to follow the opinions of Prof. John B. Dunbar and William Dunn, in favor of the North Platte location, after reading that Spanish Leaf, I am now convinced that the Baron de Villier's location conforms more closely to the Leaf's description, than does the North Platte, and consequently the scene of the massacre would be somewhere in the vicinity of the present Linwood, Nebr.
Various dates are given for the occurrence, and we know that Felipe de Tamaris, one of the soldiers that escaped the massacre, brought the news of the Spanish defeat to Santa Fe, on September 6, 1720. There were a few other survivors.
The Chaplain, who was slain, was Father Juan Minguez, a Franciscan, who was stationed in Santa Fe in 1705; at Zuni, in 1706 and later at Nambe, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara Missions in New Mexico.
The route of the expedition, was generally northeast, from Santa Fe to Jicarilla, (now in Conejos County, Colorado,) then to Cuartelejo, in Scott County, Kansas, and from there to the Jesus-Maria, or Platte river, a little southwest of the mouth of Prairie Creek.
It now appears that it was the Loup river that was named St Lawrence in honor of that famous martyr, whose feast day falls on August tenth. Undoubtedly some Spanish documents will be found that will throw more light on the event.
MICHAEL A. SHINE.
NEBRASKA INDIANS TO PARIS
The following account of the first visit of Indians from the Nebraska region to the King of France, and Royal court at Paris is furnished by Rev. M. A. Shine, of Plattsmouth. The original article appeared in the London Postman, January 27, 1726. It was copied into the United States Catholic Historical Magazine for April, 1890, where it was found by Father Shine. It confirms the account translated from the Journal des Americanistes in many respects and adds to our knowledge of the relation of the Indians of the Missouri valley to France two centuries ago:
Since our last, came in the mail due from
Holland with a farther Account from Paris of the four Savages of
On the 28th of November, the four Chiefs, and the Savage Maid were again presented to the Company, (of the Indies) when the Chief of the Illinois, as a Christian, and an ancient Ally of the French, presented his Speech to the Comptroller General, and the three other Chiefs also presented theirs in the name of their Three Nations, which were read by the Company's Secretary.
The speech of the Illinois to the India Company, was as follows:
"The Black Gown* tells me that you are some of the most eminent Men of the French Nation, whom the King has made Chiefs of Mississippi. I am ashamed to be so little in comparison with you. Tho' I am Chief of my Village, and esteemed in my own Country, I am nothing; but I love Prayer and the French. Therefore, you ought to love me and to love my Nation, which has always been allied to the French.
"The French are with us. We have yielded them the country which we possess in Cassakias. We are very well pleased with them, but we don't like to see them come and mingle themselves with us, and to take up their Habitations in the midst of our Village and our Deserts. 'Tis my Opinion that you who are great Chiefs, should leave us Masters of the country where we have placed our Fire.
"I am come hither to see the King in the Name
of my Nation and my young People. When shall I see him? All the
fine Things I see are nothing if I do not see the King, our true
Father and yours, and if I do not hear His Word to report them to
my young people.
"I was dead some Days ago, but now I am reviv'd, because great Care has been taken of me. I thank you for it, and hope that you will continue it. In short, because you are our Chiefs, speak kindly to me that my young People may be pleas'd when I see them again, and that they may perceive that you are well disposed towards us. This is what I had to say to you, who am your Son, and a Friend of the French.
4. "The French have told us that you consider
well in all this Country, and that the Magazines there are yours.
We are in your power. Consider how to dispose of your Bodies.
After the reading these Speeches, the Comptroller General ordered his Answer to be read to all of them, which was composed with that Spirit proper for conversing with that People, and the better to be understood by means of their Interpreters. He gave a Copy of it to each of their Chiefs.
Then he caused the presents of the Company to be delivered to them, consisting of a Habit compleatly French, being a blue Coat with Silver Buttons and Buttonholes, scarlet Waste coats, with Silver, red Breeches and Hose, Silver Lac'd Hats, some with red and others with blue Feathers, six ruffled Shirts, six Necks, etc. A Savage Habit, consisting of a Cloth Wrapper, five Quarters wide, with Silver Lace two Inches above the List, which is left there, because the Savages reckon it an Ornament, a Braguet, which is a quarter of an Ell of scarlet Cloth adorned with silver Lace above the Selvage. This they make use of to cover their Nudities. And a pair of Mitase, which are Cloth Stockings half blue and half red, which comes up to the Thigh, and are ty'd with Ribbonds to their Sashes.
The Dress presented to the Savage Girl, was a Damask Gown of Flame Colour, with Gold Flowers, an under Petticoat of the/same, a Panier, two pair of Boddice, six Lac'd Shifts, and Ribbonds of Gold and Silver, and a pair of Silk Stockings.
Hear Illinois, Missoury, Osages and
"I am very glad that you have heard the Speech of the Company, I see you here with Pleasure. The Company will always think of you, and can never forget your saying.
"They know, Illinois, that you are a Man of Prayer. They conjecture that you Missoury, you Osages, you Optata will hear the Words of the Missionaries that shall be sent unto you.
You have seen how many People the great Onontio (King) commands. You cannot but know how his Riches and Magnificence by his Palaces and Gardens where you have been.
"This great Onontio is he whom we all obey.
He is Our Father and the Governor of Louisiana is his Interpreter.
He has kindled the Fire of his Council at New Orleans. 'Tis from
thence all our Thoughts ought to proceed. Hearken not to any other
Words but such as shall be deliver'd to you from the place. They
will be the Words of the Great Onontio. If you hear them, the
Roads will be free, and you will have very good Hunting.
"The Company, who loves you, and takes you into their very Bosom, gives you Tobacco to make your hearts merry, to disperse any clouds that might overcast your Minds, and to keep you in good Humor till you depart. They also give you Cloaths for you to wear here, and others, after the Fashion of your own Nation. They made the like provision for the good Woman that is come with you."
On the 22d of November these Savages set out for Fountainbleau. On the 24th, they were carried about to all the Princes and Princesses and other Lords and Ladies of the Court, who were fond to see Savages whom to their Surprise they found to have as much Spirit and good Sense as other Men. At night, the Comptroller General carried them to the Duke of Bourbon, to whom the Illinois made the following Speech:
GREAT CHIEF, MY FATHER,
"I know that your Ancestors were mighty Men
and great Warriors, who often dy'd their Helmets with the Blood of
the Enemies of the French. At this Day you are without your
Helmets because there are no Enemies; but you have given to the
French their true Mother, who is above all the great women in the
World. This is more than beating an enemy. I know also that the
Father of the French loves you, and that he commits his Children
to your care, and that he hears your Words. Learn therefore of him
to be always truly the Father of the French and ours; cause him to
think of us, and to love me and my Nation. May you also love us as
much as I admire you, and may you be of Opinion that you can never
love us too much."
The Duke of Bourbon answer'd the Illinois, That he was much obliged for the advantageous Idea he had of him. And that he could not return a better Answer to his Compliment that by assuring him that he looked upon as a Chief and a great Warriour, and by promising to take Care that he returns away contented, and more attached than ever to the French nation.
His Serene Highness afterwards received the complments (sic) of Missoury, Osages and Otoptata, and when he had return'd a civil answer to each, promised to present them next Day to the King as he came from hunting, which he accordingly did, and introduced them all dress'd in their Savage Habits into the King's Cabinet, when Father Beaubois presented his Majesty the Illinois and a letter from the Grand Chief, and made the following speech:
"This Savage, who has the honor to appear
before your Majesty, is no ordinary Man. Yet tho' the Chief of his
village, and one of the most considerable of his Nation, he has
nothing of that Pomp and Grandeur which surround Princes, and
which render them so venerable to the people who are under 'em,
these being things unknown in America. But what your Majesty will
no doubt value him for is, that this Indian, born as one may say
in another World, and brought up in the middle of Forests, could
conceive so high an Idea of your Grandeur, as so earnestly to
desire to see it nearer, and to come and pay you Homage. An
unhappy Shipwreck, which chang'd the minds of those who
accompanied him, did not intimidate him, and since he has been in
France, the sight of what, has been the Astonishment of all
Foreigners, has still made him the more eager of seeing the
Monarch of so potent an Empire. The most considerable Chief of all
the Illinois nation has a thousand times enjoy'd the happiness of
this, as himself ingenuously owns to your Majesty, and has, as one
may say, a thousand times regretted that he is so necessary to the
French nation in his own country. Vouchsafe, Sire, kindly to
receive the Letter which he presumes to send to your Majesty, and
be pleased to return a favorable Answer.
"For my Part, Sire, I think myself very happy, that I have this Day the Honour of approaching your Throne, there to be Witness of the Wonders which France admires in your Sacred Person. Permit me, Sire, to beg your Majesty's Royal Protection for the Missions of Louisiana, that vast Province, where there cannot be too many for the welfare of your Colony, and to procure to the many Savage nations that inhabit it, the Knowledge of the True God. Lewis le Grand of Glorious Memory, always made it his delight to protect those whom Providence honours with so holy a Ministry, and thereby to demonstrate that Zeal he had for the Propagation of the Faith. Being Heir, Sire, of his Heroick Virtues, as you are of his rich Diadem, do you show the same Zeal, which
cannot but be infinitely glorious to you. We have a Right it seems to expect it from your Piety, which appeared so eminently in the Choice you have made of the most virtuous Princess of the world, to place her by you on the most August Throne in the Universe.
Next day, the chiefs of the two nations paid
me a visit; and one of the Otchagras showed me a Catalonian
pistol, a pair of Spanish shoes, and I do not know what drug,
which appeared to me to be a sort of ointment. All this they had
received from one of the Aiouez, and the following is the
occasion, by means of which these things fell into the hands of
About two years ago, some Spaniards, who had come as they say, from New Mexico, with design to penetrate as far as the country of the Illinois, and to drive the French out of it, whom they saw with extreme regret approach so near the Missouri, descended this river and attacked two villages of the Octotatas, a people in alliance with the Aiouez, from whom it is pretended they draw their origin. As these Indians had no fire-arms, and being besides surprised, the Spaniards easily succeeded in their enterprize, and made a great slaughter of them. A third village of the same nation, and at no great distance from the two others, making no doubt that the conquerors would pay them a visit, laid an ambush-cade for them, into which the Spaniards blindly stumbled. Others say, that the Indians having learned that the Spaniards had almost all of them got drunk, and were sleeping in great security, fell upon them in the night; and it is certain, they cut the throats of almost every one of them.
There were two chaplains in this party, one of whom was killed in the beginning of the affair, and the other saved himself amongst the Missourites who kept him prisoner, and from whom he made his escape in a very dexterous manner.
He happened to have a very fine horse, and the Missourites delighting in beholding him perform feats of horsemanship, he took the advantage of their curiosity, in order to get out of their hands. One day as he was scampering about in their presence, he withdrew insensibly to a distance, when clapping spurs to his horse, he instantly disappeared. As they made no other prisoner but him, it is not yet exactly known neither from what part of New Mexico these Spaniards came, nor
with what design; for what I first told you of the affair, was
founded upon the reports of the Indians only, who perhaps had a
mind to make their court to us by giving it to be understood, that
they had done us a very material piece of service by this
All they brought me was the spoils of the chaplain who had been killed, and, they found likewise a prayer-book, which I have not seen: this was probably his breviary. I bought the pistol; the shoes were good for nothing; and the Indian would by no means part with the ointment, having taken it into his head that it was a sovereign remedy against all sorts of evils. I was curious to know how he intended to make use of it; he answered that it was sufficient to swallow a little or it, and let the disease be what it would the cure was immediate; he did not say however that he had as yet made trial of it, and I advised him against it. The Indians begin here to be very ignorant, and are very far from being so sensible or at least so communicative, as those who have more commerce with us.
On the tenth about nine in the morning, after sailing five leagues on the Mississippi, we arrived at the mouth of the Missouri, which lies north-west and south-south-east. Here is the finest confluence of two rivers that, I believe, is to be met with in the whole world, each of them being about half a league in breadth; but the Missouri is by far the most rapid of the two, and seems to enter the Mississippi like a conqueror, carrying its white waters unmixed across its channel quite to the opposite side; this colour it afterwards communicates to the Mississippi, which henceforth it never loses, but hurls with precipitation to the sea itself.
Shau-hau-napo-tinia was a noted chief of the Ioway tribe. His name means "Man who Killed Three Sioux". He was also called Moano-honga or Great Walker. His boy chum was killed at the age of 19 by the Sioux. Shau-hau-napo-tinia rushed into a Sioux village of 400 lodges killed one warrior and two squaws. He returned with their scalps. He went to Washington in 1837 when this portrait was made.
STATEMENT OF THE OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT, CIRCULA-
TION, ETC., REQUIRED BY THE ACT OF CONGRESS
OF AUGUST 24, 1912,
Of Nebraska Hist. & Record of Pioneer Days published Quarterly at Lincoln, Nebraska for April 1, 1923.
State of Nebraska
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