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used them to make a sort of corduroy road to some of the cattle farthest from the shore, so that our horses or work oxen, could get a footing to pull from. Every one of the cattle that would pull out of the mire would be ready and willing to fight, the whole of mankind the moment he could stand on his feet, after being dragged onto solid ground. One of our party had his horse badly gored by taking one chance too many, in the. thought that his horse could outstart and outrun any steer.
Something frightened the cattle that night, along in the small hours, and our neighbors, the wild fowl, must have wondered at the sound of thundering hoofs and the clashing of horns accompanied by lesser noises such as the yells of the herders, as we would crowd and swing the "point", or leaders, of the stampede back into the rapidly following mass of cattle, or would sing strains of the old Texas lullaby to them, when we would have control of the herd, and have them either "milling" around and around in a compact bunch, or standing, trembling and alert, ready for another wild rush, at the slighest (sic) unusual scent or sound.
Into the Hostile Indian Country
When we started north of the Platte River, we all knew that we were to go into a country, much of which was regarded as belonging to the Sioux Indians, both by birth and treaty rights.
Many of the bands of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians were very much opposed to the invasion of the "Black Hills country" by the white gold seekers.
Since a bridge (Clark's bridge near Bridgeport), had just been completed across the Platte River a great highway had been opened up for supplies and mail to be carried in to the miners, and to enable thousands of fortune hunters to enter the lands where they seemed to think a fortune could be obtained by picking up gold, with little labor or expense.
Most of our outfit of cowboys had had experience in trailing herds through country infested with Indians of many tribes, who had all sorts of notions regarding the rights of white men to travel through or make trails across their hunting ground. The many dangers that beset the lives of those who opened up the old Texas cattle trails to the north, made them perhaps a little careless of the danger of being wiped out by the Indians.
Great Care Taken of Saddle Ponies
All went armed with heavy revolvers and knives, but few carried rifles. One reason for not carrying rifles was that the added weight on one side of a horse, on those long hard trips, was known to be a great cause of saddle galls, a thing to be most strictly guarded against on an eighten(sic) hundred mile trip, for a horse with bad saddle sores to torture him cannot thrive, and much hinged on the condition of the saddle horses when handling these immense herds of wild cattle.
On this trip it so happened, that I was the only one in the outfit who owned a rifle, and it was hauled in the wagon, except on occasions when we needed a little game for a change of diet. There was plenty of elk, deer and antelope then in the country.
We saw but few Indians and these did not come up near us while we were driving the cattle to their destination, but on our return trip to the Platte River we found some.
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The Indians Had Scare
We left the guide and wagon when the cattle were delivered to the contractors, and used pack ponies on the return trip, "flying light", as the boys called it. Arriving at the Niobrara River one day about noon, we camped for dinner on the northern bank of the stream, which at this point and season was about fifty yards wide, and about four feet deep, with a very swift current, and plenty of quicksand.
Just about the time our coffee and bacon were ready, we saw an Indian ride into full view on top of the bluffs that skirted the river valley, about one half mile distant. We saw him signalling, both with his horse and blanket, and in a very few minutes the bluffs for half a mile up and down the river were occupied by mounted Indians.
This was interesting, but it became more so, when they swarmed down from these bluffs and charged for our camp, a yelling, screeching line of riders, beautifully painted and nearly naked. Some had rifles and pistols, but the greater portion were armed with bows and arrows.
The most of our little band, I think, felt that our time on earth would soon be ended, but as the Indians did not shoot no one in our camp "pulled a gun". The Indians were all riding bareback, and I am sure they made an impressive picture. Their impetuous rush soon brought them upon us, and they formed a complete circle about us. One old warrior with a badly scarred face, dashed up almost to my feet and pulled his horse to a sudden stop.
Scalps Saved by Knowledge of Indian Language
Trying to look greatly pleased to meet him, I said, in as strong and cheerful a voice as I could command:
"How, Mita Cola" (Flow, my friend.)
He jumped from his horse, and looked at me for a few minutes. I then said to him in the Lacota tongue:
"I look at you. My heart is glad to see my friends." He stepped toward me and said:
"What is your Lacota name?"
I told him the name given me by the old chiefs of his people, since such men as "Red Cloud", "American Horse", "Little Wound", and "Young Man Afraid of His Horses" were friends of mine at that time. He then wanted to know where we came from and where we were going. I told him that we had just driven a herd of cattle to the Indians upon the Missouri River, and were now on our way back to the Platte River to take a herd of cattle to the Red Cloud Agency on the White River. I then said to him,
"My Lacota friends have bad hearts, but they must not kill the cowboys who bring the cattle that the Great Father sends to them, or the soldiers will come in great numbers, with many big guns and wipe out the Sioux nation."
He then said that his people were hungry. I told him that we had but little food, and that we would be hungry before we could get to the Shell River, (North Platte).
Our talk probably did not take up the amount of time it has taken me to write this account of it, but it was a most interesting one, to me at least. Springing onto his pony, the old warrior called out to all his people who I was, what our
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party was doing in the country, and what I had said to him. Yells of "Ho! Ho!" came back to him from every direction. Packing our camp outfit onto our ponies, we started in to round up our saddle horses and drive them across the river, the entire band of Indians helping us. Their mood had changed, and there were many "Hows" exchanged, as we parted on the south side of the Niobrara.
I have always felt that if ever I had a close call to being used as a pincushion, with arrows in the place of pins, that was the time, and I think there were those about me that felt nearly as weak as I did after the ordeal was over.
I think my efforts in picking up a little knowledge of the Sioux speech and sign language saved my scalp on that occasion, and perhaps those of the entire party, as there must have been at least three hundred Indians in the bunch that swooped down upon us so unceremoniously.
The Condition Reversed.
In connection with this incident of my life, I want to illustrate the fact that in almost all parties of men there are some that have very short memories, and forget to be grateful for mercies received. After we had left the Indians that had so kindly helped us across the river we "made tracks" pretty fast toward the Union Pacific Railroad. I was riding with one of my companions ahead of our band of saddle horses, leading the way. We approached the top of a steep sand hill that lay in our course, when we suddenly came upon two old Sioux warriors on foot, leading two tired ponies loaded with antelope. These Indians were taken by surprise at our sudden appearance but they put on a brave front and made signs of being greatly pleased at meeting us. They wanted to shake hands all around and say "How, how" as fast as possible. One of our party troubled with a short memory drew his pistol and said:
"Let's kill these two old devils anyway."
He was quickly persuaded by the rest of our party not to do such a rash thing as to take advantage of these Indians who were at our mercy after our having, only by the mercy of God, been allowed to escape from their tribesmen and relatives.
Those days are long since past and when the last of the old Sioux warriors come to visit me in my home each year, I have often told them of the awful scare that they gave me on the banks of the Niobrara river upon which I have made my home for so many years.
We can all laugh over it now as a good joke on me, but at the time it seemed to me to be about as serious a proposition as had ever come my way.
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DR. W. F. CARVER
"Evil Spirit of the Plains"
The Wizard Rifle Shot of the World and His Career on the
By Charles R. Nordin, Omaha
An Address Before the Annual Meeting of the Nebraska
State Historical Society, Jan. 10, 1928.
Passing of Dr. Carver.
Doc. W. F. Carver, whose death on August 31st, 1927, at Sacramento, Calif., ended the career of the foremost figure of Nebraska pioneer history, was born in the little village of Winslow, Ill., on the banks of the Pecatonica River, in 1840.
He was the son of William and Deborah Carver, and a direct lineal descendant of John Carver, of Plymouth Colony, the first governor in America, and Jonathan Carver, the explorer, to whom Dahkotah Indians in 1767 ceded a grant of land where the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis now stand, and a nephew of Fred Carver who with his wife and family was killed in the Spirit Lake Massacre.
When this fearless boy was only fourteen years old, his father, a very severe, harsh man, punished him severely for some boyish escapade, and that night, while his parents were sleeping, Frank appropriated what cash was in his father's pocket, his rifle and a horse, and stole away. To avoid pursuit, he turned his face to the Western wilderness, and made his home among the Indians of Minnesota for several years.
In the Minnesota Sioux War -- 1862.
As he grew older, he became disgusted with the ways of the Indians, and hunted and trapped alone. After the outbreak of Little Crow's Indians at New Ulm, Minnesota, in 1862, he volunteered as a scout and guide for Gen. Sibley in the expedition against them in 1863. Here his knowledge of the country was of great benefit to the soldiers who drove the Indians out of Minnesota and hung 38 of them at Mankato. After the Sioux Indian war was over, he, with Bill Porter, another trapper, came down on the plains of Nebraska where he made his home
Charles R. Nordin of Omaha, Nebraska, was born in Sweden March 31, 1878. Son of Lars and Anna Nordin, with whom he emigrated to America in 1884 and settled in Phelps County, Nebraska. Where his brother, Rev. Axel Nordin, founded the Christian Orphans' home. In 1900 he married Emily Stromquist and moved to Omaha where she died in 1918, leaving two children Dean C., born in 1904 and Maxine E., born in 1903. In 1920 he married Lillian Ralph to which union two children were born, Charles R. in 1922 and Anna Catherine in 1924. Mr. Nordin has been engaged in the building and contracting business for more than 20 years. As an avocation he has given attention for many years to the collection of Indian and frontier material. He has an extensive library on these topics and one of the finest private museums in the state. He has enjoyed the friendship of many frontiersmen, including Dr. W. F. Carver.
A GROUP OF OLD TIMERS. Left to Right; Standing: Deadwood Dick, Edgar Howard, Charles R. Nordin, Doc. W. F. Carver, Idaho Bill. Sitting: Capt. Lute North, Pawnee Bill, Diamond Dick. (From Photo at Norfolk, Nebraska, June 16, 1927.
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