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NE History & Record of Pioneer Days
Vol VI, no 4 (part 2)    



and brought them all to the Valley station that night. The next morning we started back very early, intending to take the goods from the storehouse, but the Indians had gotten into the store at daylight, taken what merchandise they wanted, set fire to the storehouse, destroying everything at the ranch and leaving it a mass of ruins. During the night the Indians came and took away their dead, which amounted to twenty-two dead and twenty-five or thirty wounded. This was afterwards learned from Mrs. Morris, whom they had taken prisoner from the American ranch. When the fight ended we had only three bullets and a handful of shot left.
   Mr. Danielson and his family went to the Missouri river with the first freight outfit that came along. I then got a good horse, a breech loading gun and remained with the soldiers and helped them fight the Indians the balance of the winter. The following month we had twenty-five fights and skirmishes with these Indians. During this time the Indians had destroyed all the ranches for a distance of four hundred miles, with the exception of a few places near the forts or where they were well fortified. They had gathered all the cattle up and down the valley for a number of miles and started to move them north. We were watching their movements.
   Lieut. Kennedy of Company C, of the Colorado First, and Lieut. Brewer, of the 11th Iowa cavalry, with thirty-six men, the pick of two companies, and Jas. Moore, Chas. Perkins, Edmond Monson, Fletcher and myself, all civilians, followed these Indians in hopes of getting the cattle back, which belonged to the above civilians. We overtook them after the second day's march about mid-night. Each man held his horse by the lariet and let him graze until daylight, when we were to attack the Indians and beat them before we undertook to gather the cattle. In the meantime we had agreed to give the two lieutenants one thousand dollars each if they succeeded in getting the cattle back. This was about the second week of February and the nights were very cold, so we did not get much rest. At daybreak we discovered the Indian pickets and immediately followed them to camp, the civilians in the lead of the soldiers. We opened fire on them as soon as we came within range of their camp but the soldiers did not come up and fight as they had agreed to. After we had exchanged several shots with the Indians I went back and had an interview with Lieut. Kennedy and asked him if he would charge the Indians and fight as we had agreed to do. He said, "No, that they had not come to fight the Indians, but to get the cattle; that if his men were wounded he had no way of caring for them and could not



afford to lose the few men he had." I told him it was not much use to try to get the cattle without first whipping the Indians as they would charge each squad that was sent out for the cattle and drive them back, which was just what they did. Kennedy's idea was to send out men in squads to gather the cattle and bring them back to him. We were to hold them and move them along. The cattle were scattered for about four miles over very broken ground and we found the Indians were driving them in every direction. The civilians became impatient at the actions of the soldiers and started out themselves after a party of Indians who had taken a bunch of cattle from the soldiers. We overtook them and drove them away from the cattle and were fighting with them when the whole Sioux band, about seventy-five in number, slipped down a ravine and cut in between us and the command. When we discovered them coming out the mouth of the ravine Munson and myself started for the Indians to hold them at bay, if possible, until we could get up the dividing ridge where we would be in sight of the soldiers. Perkins remained with Moore to help him up the ridge as his horse was about given out. Munson and I, opened fire on the Indians to try and hold them at bay but they swung around us in a half moon circle and got fairly in between us and the command.
   I remarked to Munson, "There is nothing for us to do but to dismount and fight." Munson replied, "Let us go over and consult with Moore and Perkins." We rode over to them as fast as possible and I asked Perkins if we should dismount and fight or should we retreat as it was impossible to get to the soldiers. I had a horse that could get away from the Indians by taking the opposite direction. Perkins answered, "Let us dismount and fight them as long as possible and the soldiers may come to our aid." We jumped to the ground and gave Moore our horses to hold as he had no gun, only a pair of pistols. I took my gun and ran about twenty feet from the horses, threw myself on the ground and opened fire on the Indians, about forty in number, who were making a charge on us. The bullets began to fly thick and fast, one went through Munson's coat as he and Perkins was standing. I called to them to get down on the ground otherwise they would be shot directly. There were about forty Indians within fifty steps of us, most of them dismounted, while the balance of the Indians were circling around us shooting at random, and the whole band yelling as loud as possible as they thought they had us corraled. In about five minutes we had the party next to us fall



back, they could not advance on us as we were shooting them down, Indians and horses, as fast as they came within good range of our guns. The party that was circling around us made a dash to charge on us with their horses, but we whirled on them, let down a few Indians and horses and they fell back. Now they stopped yelling and commenced retreating and we soon had them running down hill and we after them until they got out of the range of our guns.
   After this fight we started to gather the cattle, one man in a place, and the Indians never came within gunshot of us that day. By this we succeeded in getting one-half the cattle and the Indians the other half, and had it not been for this fight we would have gotten very few. I would say right here that if Kennedy and his men had made one-half the fight we did we would have succeeded in getting all the cattle. If we had attacked the Indians in their camp, as we had agreed beforehand, we would have killed one-half of them.
   When we had gathered all the cattle we could see or get hold of we started for Moore's ranch on the South Platte, the Indians, or a good portion of the band, followed but did not attack us. As we were travelling along with our cattle Lieut. Kennedy and part of his men were in the lead and Lieut. Brewer and the civilians in the rear keeping watch on the Indians that were following us. I rode up to Lieut. Kennedy in company with Jas. Moore and said if he could spare us we would go ahead and prepare the corrals for the cattle. All the men and horses were about worn out but my horse was in good condition, dancing and champing on the bits. Kennedy looked at me a minute, then said, "Coad, how is it you and your horse are in such good condition when a the other men and horses in the party are worn out?" I told him I was a light man in weight and knew how to save my horse when possible and to press him when necessary. I had ridden since a child and it was natural for me. Kennedy replied, "I can say to you as King Charles said to Mazeppa 'None have done more and said less.'" I thanked the lieutenant, saying it was a pleasure to feel that our work was appreciated.
   We reached Moore's ranch on the south side of the Platte river that night and corraled our cattle. The corral was eight feet high and made of adobe. We had freight wagons running across the gateways as high as the walls when the cattle were in. About two o'clock in the morning something frightened the cattle, they ran against the sides of the corral, piled upon each other until they were as high



as the corral, seventy-five head of the rear cattle ran over the others and out over the walls of the corral and got away.
   We followed them the next morning but did not find them but found more Indians than we cared to find. There were seven men of us and about seventy-five Indians, and they made it red hot for us back to the ranch. They were armed with Hawkins rifles, a very accurate gun at a short distance, which they had gotten from the Indian traders. They fought us back to the ranch, which was situated on a narrow strip of ground between the hills and the Platte river.
   The Indians remained on the hills and kept a steady fire on us, wounding several of our horses and two men. We returned the fire but were at a disadvantage as the Indians were hidden behind the hills and we could not reach them nor expose ourselves. Just as we were close to the ranch Moore was shot, the ball striking in close to the base of the brain and lodging behind the ear. We thought him dead and carried him into the ranch under a heavy fire. We then placed our horses in the corrals, opened fire on the Indians and drove them from the ranch. This was the winding up of three days fighting and living on hard tack and raw bacon, as we had no time to cook.

"Now where is the country than can vie with these frontiers-men,
   Or where is the nation of such heroes can boast,
When in battle as fierce as the lion or tiger,
   And as swift as the zeal that flies 'round the ghost."

Indian Villages in Webster County.
   From a chapter in Emanuel Peters' pioneer stories in the Guide Rock Signal is taken the following extract:
   "At some time in the past, large tribes of Indians must have made their homes in the Republican Valley, judging from the number of burial grounds and their extent. Other evidences of this fact were remains of Indian villages scattered here and there. One village seems to have been located on an island of 160 acres just east of the big bluff, where the river divided, one channel keeping close to the hills, the other going northeast. for quite a distance. This. island was covered with timber, being protected by the water from prairie fires, an ideal place for an Indian village. The ground was covered with tepee poles, arrow points and other evidences of a large camp ground."
   "Farther south on my homestead on Star creek, about five acres were covered with tepee poles, flint hammers, arrow points and other unfinished tools used by Indians. These flint articles were so plentiful that I considered them of no value and plowed them under. I now wish I had kept some of these relics in remembrance ot (sic) the happy days of the redman."



Picture or sketch

   Miss Mildred F. Cass, daughter of Editor Cass of the Ravenna News, writes her father's paper from New York City a beautiful story of Old Tarrytown on the Hudson, above New York, the scene of the legend of Sleepy Hollow and other stories by Washington Irving, which mark the beginnings of real American literature. Tarrytown, Sleepy Holly and Sunny Side will always be points of pilgrimage for patriotic Americans with a love for literature.
   Fifteen years ago the editor of this magazine spent a forever remembered day amid these scenes. His camera carried away a series of photographs now in the collection of the State Historical Society and no set of pictures seen anywhere ever seems quite so adequate of the place as the pictures taken upon that day. Among the incidents of the day was one which brings so closely together the old America of Sleepy Hollow and the new industrial America reaching out to the conquest of the skies and the waters that it may be told here as a contribution to the history of both eras. After climbing the hill to cemetery, I sought for a long time to find the grave of Washington Irving. It was in the older part of the cemetery. Graves a century old covered the grassy hillside, looking out toward the Hudson. Grass and bushes grew in tangles with no hand of caretaker apparent. After half an hour's search I caught the name of Irving on one of the grave stones. After searching diligently among many other stones bearing that name I finally found:


Born April 3, 1783.


Nov. 28, 1859.



   The stone was a simple slab of white marble scarcely two feet above the green sod on which it grew with a tangle of rose bushes behind it. After a great deal of patient effort my camera was adjusted to the conditions and pictures taken.
   Strolling further on up the hill toward the newer part of the cemetery, at a little distance I noticed an enormous structure which several hundred men were engaged in building. Great piles of granite, steel, marble, sand and cement were about it, as it stood on a considerable space upon the crest of the hill in the cemetery. I sought an explanation from an Irish foreman who was directing the men.
   "This building, sor,--its for John D. Rockefeller, sor, its where they'll be puttin' his bones away, some day sor."
   The two pictures,--the tiny slab of marble with the name of Washington Irving and the stately palace for the bones of John D. Rockefeller forever marked in my mind the changes between the old America of primitive time and the new America, mistress of the world's destinies.

   Louis Weidner, 79, died in Schneider township, Buffalo county, January 11, 1924. He was born in Saxony, Germany, and was one of the famous Saxon Colony which landed in Gibbon December 7, 1874, and settled on the high divide between the Loup and Wood rivers. The land where these Saxon colonists settled was regarded as quite undesirable, although very fertile. The divide was cut by deep ravines, water required very deep wells, timber was found at a long distance and the colonists were wholly unaccustomed to the climatic conditions in the west. The editor of the Ravenna News summarizes their experiences very effectively thus:
   "The colonists arrived here ill prepared to stand the rigors of winter and with but scant funds to provide themselves with the barest necessities of life. Their first homes were in dug-outs and such timber as were necessary in their construction were cut on the banks of the South Loup and Beaver Creek bottoms. When grass suitable for hay could be found, the grass was cut and cured and carried a distance of seven and eight miles in blankets and bed sheets to provide food for the work cattle. The first season practically all the provisions needed. by the colony were carried from Grand Island, by hand, even though it involved a journey of more than sixty miles on foot. These stuudy pioneers eventually developed Schneider township into one of the finest farming districts in Buffalo county, and nearly all who had the courage and grit to stay with their farms gained a competence in their later years."

   The Bayard Women's Improvement Club was organized in November, 1916. It has done notable community work and a brief account of this work by Mrs. Violet B. Shepherd, the club historian, is printed in the Bayard Transcript, January 16, 1924.

   Hershey, Lincoln county, is named after J. H. Hershey who acquired a large tract of land used as a ranch near the station. He was one of the original settlers in the rich valley bordering the sand hills of that region. The first store at Hershey was opened in 1893 by D. A. Eyerly. The Platte valley between the North and South Platte at this point is a very rich loam deposit slightly intermingled with sand blown from the great sand ridges nearby. It is now becoming the center of sugar beet culture with a prospect of a factory some day.



Picture or sketch


Foundation of the Great Financial Bulwarks of the State.
Once a Crime to Engage in Banking

First Legislature Made the Business Illegal and
Then Provided a Way for Evasion of the Law

Nebraska City, Nebraska, February 25, 1924:

A. E. Sheldon:
   Pursuant to our conversation of last week, I beg to enclose herewith the $1.00 note issued by the Platte Valley bank of Nebraska City October 1, 1858, for such use as you may care to make of it in connection with the archives of the Society. I find that I was in error in stating to you that the Merchants National Bank of this city succeeded to the business of the Platte Valley Bank which was liquidated. The Merchants National Bank was successor to the banking house of Cheevers, Sweet & Co.
   Have made diligent inquiry with respect to securing data in connection with the Old Platte Valley Bank but with no success. All of the officers appear to be dead and I can find no trace of their records, but in talking with a number of the pioneers they assure me that the statement made that the Platte Valley Bank was the only territorial bank to redeem all of its currency is correct. In this connection I am enclosing herewith copy of a newspaper item which appeared in one of the Omaha papers years ago, which may or may not be news to you. Nevertheless it is interesting reading and you may retain it. I regret that I cannot give the date of issue or name of this paper.
   One of these days I will pack up and ship you the steel engraving that I promised to give the Society, and with all good wishes, I remain,
SpacerCordially yours,



   Few people know that at one time banking was a crime in Nebraska, and was punishable under the laws of the territory, as the following extract from the criminal code, passed by the legislature at its first session in 1855, will show:
   If any person shall subscribe to or become a member of, or be in any way interested in any association or company formed for the purpose of issuing or putting into circulation any bill, check, ticket, cerficate, prommissory note, or other paper of any bank to circulate as money in this territory, he shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars."
   The history of early banking in Nebraska bristles with many tales of disaster, but some financial institutions were founded at an early day, which are still in existence, altho in all cases the names have changed and in many cases changes in name have occured several times.
   Henry W. Yates, president of the Nebraska National Bank, in a history of early banking in Nebraska, speaks of the conditions which, caused banks to spring up in what was then very near a wilderness. He says:
   "The organization and settlement of new states and territories supplied an exceptional opportunity for the increase of bank note currency. Not only was capital in demand in these new sections to an extent which invited the issue of credit money, but another favorable feature was added. The more inaccessible the place from which the notes were issued, the more desirable became that place for the establishment of a bank, and in this manner the names of places, which in fact had scarcely any existence, became familiar throughout the country by reason of their bank notes.
   "Nebraska opened up a magnificent field for this kind of business. There were no railroads within hundreds of miles, and travel by way of the Missouri river was too uncertain and consumed too much time to give the note issuers much concern or anxiety. To the currency,attraction was also added that of speculation in town lots, and the two often went hand in hand."

   Evading the Stringent Law

   Notwithstanding the passage of the anti-banking act by the first legislature, banking thrived from that time forward in an uncertain sort of way. Other sections of the same act prohibited citizens in any manner from issuing notes under penalties, and declared void all such notes and obligations given by such companies contrary to the preceding sections. In the face of all of these safeguards thrown about the people, however, several charters were granted at the same session, which, while purporting to be for insurance business, were really intended to cover banking.
   The first one granted was that issued to the Western Exchange Fire and Marine Insurance Company of Omaha. Later this institution occupied a very prominent position among the currency banks an became the official depository of the territorial government. The only words in its charter which could possibly have authorized banking were, "to receive deposits and issue certificates therefor." Consequently all its bank notes were issued in the form of certificates of deposit payable to bearer.
   Several other corporations similar in character were chartered at the same session of the legislature, but it is not of record that any of them engaged in the banking business.

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