pared for defense. There is besides, a swivel on the bow of the boat, which in case of attack would make a formidable appearance; we have also two brass blunderbusses. . . These precautions are absolutely necessary from the hostility of the Sioux bands . . . It is exceedingly difficult to make a start on these voyages, from the reluctance of the men to terminate the frolic with their friends which usually precedes their departure. . . The river Platte is regarded by the navigators of the Missouri as a point of as much importance as the equinoctial line amongst mariners. All those who had not passed it before were required to be shaved unless they would compromise the matter by a treat.

   On the 28th of June, 1812, Robert Stuart started from Astoria with five of Hunt's original party on a return overland trip. At Fort Henry on the north fork of Snake river, now in southeastern Idaho, he was joined by four of the five men who had been detached by Hunt on the 10th of the previous October. After a journey of terrible hardships they established winter quarters on the North Platte river not far east of the place where it issues from the mountains. At the end of six weeks they were driven out by the Indians and proceeded three hundred and thirty miles down the Platte; and then, despairing of being able to pass safely over the desert plain covered with deep snow, which confronted them, they went back over seventy-seven miles of their course until they found a suitable winter camp in what is now Scotts Bluff county, where they went into winter quarters on the 30th of December, 1812. On the 8th of March they tried to navigate the stream in canoes, but found it impracticable, and proceeded on foot to a point about forty-five miles from the mouth of the Platte, where they embarked, April 16th, in a large canoe made for their purpose by the Indians.

   The Yellowstone Expedition. Such importance in Nebraska annals as may be attributed to what is known as Long's expedition in 1819 is due to the fact that it was the occasion of the passage of the first steamboat up the Missouri river, and the establishment of the first military post within the limits of the territory. This post, at first called Camp Missouri, was developed into a fort of the regular quadrangular form and named Fort Atkinson after its founder, General Atkinson, the commander of the Yellowstone expedition. It was occupied until 1827 in the main by the Sixth regiment of infantry, and was abandoned, June 27, 1827, when Fort Leavenworth was established and to which the furnishings of Fort Atkinson were transferred. A reason assigned for the abandonment of Fort Atkinson, namely, that the site was unhealthy, does not seem plausible. A better, and probably the real reason is that, owing to the insignificance or failure of the up-river fur trading enterprise, this fort was nowhere and protected nothing, while the new site chosen by Colonel Leavenworth was virtually at the beginning of the Sante Fe and Oregon trails, where traffic was of considerable and growing importance. The failure of Astor's attempt to effect stable American lodgment on the Columbia, of the Missouri Fur Company and other private enterprises to overcome or successfully compete with British influence and trade aggression in this new, northwest, stimulated the federal government to send out what was intended to be a formidable military and scientific expedition for the purpose of establishing a strong post at the mouth of the Yellowstone river, to ascertain the natural features and resources of the country, and, if practicable, the important line between United States and the British possessions. There were dreams, if not practical intentions, of establishing a trade with the Orient by way of the Columbia river, across the mountains to the Missouri, and down that stream to Mississippi, but which were to be realize through the steam railroad across Nebraska instead of the steamboat up the Missouri. Five steamboats were provided for the transportation of the military arm of the expedition, comprising about a thousand men under command of Colonel Henry Atkinson. management and miscalculation chiefly distinguished this pretentious enterprise from first to last. The waste of time and money -- except as the latter provided a substantial lining



for the pocket of the contractor -- in attempting to navigate the Missouri with vessels not specially adapted to its very peculiar demands, the lack of proper provisions for the, troops at their winter quarters at Council Bluffs, resulting in appalling sickness and death, the entire abandonment of the original and important design of the enterprise -- to obtain a sure footing or control in the upper Missouri -- and the failure of Major Long to reach the Red river at all seem to justify the criticism which the expedition has received. Two of the five boats were not able to enter the Missouri at all; and "the Jefferson gave out and abandoned the trip thirty miles below Franklin. The Expedition and the Johnson wintered at Cow Island, a little above the mouth of the Kansas, and returned to St. Louis in the following spring."9 The troops did not reach Council Bluff, where they established Camp Missouri, till the 26th of September, 1819. Their condition in the spring, March 8th, is shown in the journal of Long's expedition:

   Camp Missouri has been sickly, from the commencement of the winter; but its situation is at this time truly deplorable. More than three hundred are, or have been sick, and nearly one hundred have died. This fatality is occasioned by the scurvy (scorbutus). Individuals who are seized rarely recover, as they can not be furnished with the proper aliments; they have no vegetables, fresh meat, nor antiscorbutics, so that the patients grow daily worse, and entering the hospital is considered by them a certain passport to the grave.10

   The scientific and exploring division of the party, under Major Long, left St. Louis on the 9th of June, 1819, on the steamboat Western Engineer, which is said to have been the first stern-wheel steamboat ever built. This vessel appears to have been well adapted to its purpose and, proceeding by easy stages, reached the mouth of the Platte river on the 15th of September, Fort Lisa on the 17th, and on the 19th anchored at the winter camp, half a mile above Fort Lisa and five miles below Council Bluff, and which they called Engineer Cantonment. According to one writer, the vessels which attempted to transfer Atkinson's soldiers in the early winter of 1818 were the first steamboats to enter the Missouri river; but the statement that two of them went as far as Cow Island, above the mouth of the Kansas, is contrary to an account of the arrival of the Independence at Franklin, contained in the Franklin Intelligencer of May 28, 1819:

   With no ordinary sensation of pride and pleasure we announce the arrival this morning of the elegant steamboat, Independence, Capt. Nelson, in seven sailing days (but thirteen from the time of her departure) from St. Louis with passengers and a cargo of flour, whiskey,



iron castings, etc., being the first steamboat that ever attempted ascending the Missouri, The grand desideratum, the important fact is now acknowledged that steamboats can successfully navigate the Missouri.

  Major Long started to Washington after a sojourn of two weeks at Engineer Cantonment and returned in the spring by land from St. Louis. On account of mismanagement of the expedition and the scandals arising from it the necessary appropriations were stopped and Major Long was authorized to lead an exploring party "to the source of the river Platte and thence by way of the Arkanasas and Red rivers to the Mississippi." The party consisted of S. H. Long, major United States topographical engineers, six regular soldiers, and eleven oth-

   9 History of American Fur Trade, vol. ii, p. 569.
   10 Long's First Expedition, vol. i, p. 195.



er men, most of them such specialists as were needed in a scientific exploration. They started from Engineer Cantonment on the 6th of June, following the Pawnee path southwesterly to the Platte valley, then, proceeding along the north side of the river, crossed the forks a short distance above their junction, and followed the south bank of the South Platte. By the end of June they came in sight of the mountains and discovered the great peak which they named after Major Long.
   In May, 1832, Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth, with a party of eighteen, intent on Astor's original plan of establishing trade on the Columbia river, passed through Nebraska on the Oregon trail. He traveled in company with William L. Sublette's expedition to the mountains. On his return by way of the Missouri river he passed Council Bluff on the 21st of September, 1833. In 1834, Wyeth, with a party of seventy men, traveled over the same route again from Independence to the Columbia.
   Captain Bonneville was a diligent wanderer rather than an explorer, and he owes his fame largely to the fact that the fascinating Irving was his historian. He took a party of about one hundred men over the Oregon trail in the spring of 1832, and traveled over the whole northwest mountain region, including the Columbia river country, until the spring of 1835. In the year last named Colonel Henry Dodge, who afterwards became the first governor of Wisconsin, and after whom Nebraska's brilliant son, Henry Dodge Estabrook, was named, led an expedition from Fort Leavenworth up the Platte and along its south fork to the mountains, thence south to the Sante Fe trail, returning by that route.
    Frémont's Expedition. The federal government had indirectly encouraged the expeditions set on foot by Astor and others and had directly sent the Long expedition, but the most important explorations of the Northwest, under the auspices of the government, were those of Frémont. The first party passed through Nebraska by the Oregon trail in the summer of 1842. This expedition, composed of twenty-seven men, mostly Creole Canadian frontiersmen, included the famous Kit Carson as its guide and a son of Thomas H. Benton, a boy of twelve years, whose sister Lieutenant Frémont, the leader of the expedition, had recently married. This expedition started from Cyprian Chouteau's trading post on the Missouri river, a little over twelve miles above the mouth of the Kansas, on the 10th of June, 1842. Frémont's orders were, "to explore and report upon the country between the frontiers of Missouri and the south pass in the Rocky mountains and on the line of the Kansas and Great Platte rivers." This was accomplished by the middle of August, and the party returned by the same route, reaching the junction of the north and south forks on the 12th of September. Here Frémont also was tempted to undertake the navigation of the river. His own account of the remainder of the journey through Nebraska is a pertinent and interesting story:

   At this place I had determined to make another attempt to descend the Platte by water, and accordingly spent two days in the construction of a bull boat. Men were sent out on the evening of our arrival, the necessary number of bulls killed, and their skins brought to camp. Four of the best of them were strongly sewed together with buffalo sinew, and stretched over a basket frame of willow. The seams were then covered with ashes and tallow and the boat left exposed to the sun the greater part of one day, which was sufficient to dry and contract the skin and make the whole work solid and strong. It had a rounded bow, was eight feet long and five broad, and drew with four men about four inches of water. On the morning of the 15th we embarked in our hide boat, Mr. Preuss and myself with two men. We dragged her over the sands for three or four miles, and then left her on the bar, and abandoned entirely all further attempts to navigate this river. The names given by the Indians are always remarkably appropriate; and certainly none was ever more so than that which they had given to this stream -- "the Nebraska, or Shallow River." Walking steadily the remainder of the day, a little before dark we overtook our people at their evening camp, about twenty-one miles below the junction. The next morning we crossed the Platte, and continued our way down the river bottom on the left bank, where we found an excellent plainly beaten road.
   On the 18th we reached Grand Island, which



is fifty-two miles long, with an average breadth of one mile and three quarters. It has on it some small eminences and is sufficiently elevated to be secure from the annual floods of the river. As has already been remarked, it is well timbered, with an excellent soil, and recommends itself to notice as the best point for a military position on the Lower Platte.
   On the 22nd we arrived at the village of the Grand Pawnees, on the right bank of the river, about thirty miles above the mouth of the Loup fork. They were gathering in their corn, and we obtained from them a very welcome supply of vegetables.
   The morning of the 24th we reached the Loup fork of the Platte. At the place where we forded it, this stream was four hundred and thirty yards broad, with a swift current of clear water; in this respect differing from the Platte, which has a muddy yellow color, derived from the limestone and marl formation of which we have previously spoken. The ford was difficult, as the water was so deep that it came into the body of the carts, and we reached the opposite bank after repeated attempts, ascending and descending the bed of the river in order to avail ourselves of the bars. We camped on the left bank of the fork, in the point of land at its junction with the Platte. During the two days that we remained here for astronomical observations, the bad weather permitted us to obtain but one good observation for the latitude -- a meridian altitude of the sun, which gave for the latitude of the mouth of the Loup fork 41o 22' 11'.
   Five or six days previously, I had sent forward C. Lambert, with two men, to Bellevue, with directions to ask from Mr. P. Sarpy, the gentleman in charge of the American Company's establishment at that place, the aid of his carpenters in constructing a boat, in which I proposed to descend the Missouri. On the afternoon of the 27th we met one of the men who had been dispatched by Mr. Sarpy with a welcome supply of provisions and a very kind note which gave the very gratifying intelligence that our boat was in rapid progress, On the evening of the 30th we encamped in an almost impenetrable undergrowth on the left bank of the Platte, in the point of land at its confluence with the Missouri -- three hundred and fifty miles, according to our reckoning, from the junction of the forks, and five hundred and twenty miles from Fort Laramie.
   From the junction we had found the bed of the Platte occupied with numerous islands, many of them very large, and well timbered; possessing, as well as the bottom lands of the river, a very excellent soil. With the exception of some scattered groves on the banks, the bottoms are generallly (sic) without timber. A portion of these consist of low grounds, covered with a profusion of fine grasses, and are probably inundated in the spring; the remaining part is high river prairie, entirely beyond the influence of the floods. The breadth of the river is usually three quarters of a mile, except where it is enlarged by islands. That portion of its course which is occupied by Grand Island has an average breadth from shore to shore of two and a half miles. The breadth



of the valley, with the various accidents of ground -- springs, timber, and whatever I have thought interesting to travelers and settlers -- you will find indicated on the larger map which accompanies this report.
   October 1. -- I arose this morning long before daylight, and heard with a feeling of pleasure the tinkling of cow bells at the settlements on the opposite side of the Missouri. Early in the day we reached Mr. Sarpy's residence, and in the security and comfort of his hospitable mansion felt the pleasure of again being within the pale of civilization. We



found our boat on the stocks; a few days sufficed to complete her; and in the afternoon of the 4th we embarked on the Missouri. All our equipage -- horses, carts, and the materiel of the camp -- had been sold at public auction at Bellevue. The strength of my party enabled me to man the boat with ten oars, relieved every hour; and we descended rapidly.
   On his second expedition the following year, Frémont passed up the Kansas river to the mouth of the Republican. He then proceeded northwestwardly, leaving the Republican valley on his right or to the north. Soon after crossing and naming the Prairie Dog river he again entered the Republican valley. He crossed the present Nebraska line not far from the western boundary of Hitchcock county, and, crossing Dundy county diagonally to the northwest, entered the valley of the South Platte, which he followed to the mountains. Frémont complains on this trip of the difficulty of traveling on account of heavy rains, which is another indication of the fallacy of the popular notion that rainfall has increased in this portion of the plains since its occupation and cultivation by white men.
   John C. Frémont. John C. Frémont was born January 21, 1813, in Savannah, Georgia, and died July 13, 1890. He was the son of a French immigrant who married into one of the most prominent families of Virginia. John C. Frémont distinguished himself as statesman, soldier, and explorer. After completing his work in Charleston College, he taught mathematics for a time, and later became a civil engineer. He married the daughter of Colonel Thomas H. Benton. Frémont gained the recognition of the United States government, which supported his ambitions in explorations extending across the continent to the Pacific coast. As a recognition of his services he was rewarded with a brevet captaincy. In California, he protected the settlers from the Mexicans, and in 1846 was appointed governor of California. He received the commission of lieutenant-colonel. Frémont organized an expedition to find a southern route to California and, while the attempt was somewhat disastrous, he succeeded in reaching California by that route in 1849. He was elected United States senator from that state and took his seat when the state was admitted in 1850. His term expired in 1851, and the following year was spent in Europe. In 1856 he was the republican nominee for president of the United States, but was defeated by James Buchanan, the democratic nominee. Frémont was appointed major-general in the Federal army, and later was made commander of the mountain district of Virginia and Kentucky. He resigned when Major General Pope was assigned to the command of the Army of Virginia. The failure of his project to build the El Paso and Pacific railroad reduced him to poverty. He was appointed governor of Arizona territory and served four years.


Manuel de Lisa

   Manuel de Lisa. It is probable that there was a trading post called Fort Charles, about six miles below Omadi, kept by one McKay as early as 1795. In 1802, Cruzatte's post,



also a trading establishment, was situated two miles above old Council Bluff. In 1807, Crooks and McLellan established a post not far above the mouth of the Papillion; but they abandoned it in 1810 when they formed the Pacific Fur Company. This was probably the first settlement on the site, or in the immediate neighborhood, of Bellevue. The tradition that Manuel Lisa made a settlement at Bellevue in 1805 is probably groundless. He established his post, known as Fort Lisa, at a point between five and six miles below the original Council Bluff -- where Lewis and Clark had a council with the Missouri and Otoe Indians, August 3, 1804, and now the site of the town of Fort Calhoun -- as early as 1812. Manuel Lisa was doubtless the most remarkable man among the early explorers and traders of the Missouri river. "In boldness of enterprise, persistency of purpose and in restless energy, he was a fair representative of the Spaniard of the days of Cortez. He was a man of great ability, a masterly judge of men, thoroughly experienced in the Indian trade and native customs, intensely active in his work, yet withal a perfect enigma of character which his contemporaries were never able to solve."11 He was selected to command in the field, nearly every expedition sent out by the St. Louis companies of which he was a member. Lisa was born of Spanish parents, in Cuba, in 1772. The return of Lewis and Clark excited his ambition to establish trade on the upper Missouri, and in 1807 he led an expedition as far as the Bighorn where he established a post called Fort Lisa. The Missouri Fur Company of St. Louis, in which he was a partner, was organized in 1808-1809. In the spring of 1809 he went up to the Bighorn post with a party of one hundred and fifty men, but returned to St. Louis for the winter. Every year, from 1807 to 1819, inclusive, possibly with one exception, he made the upper Missouri trip -- twice to the Bighorn, a distance of two thousand miles, several times to Fort Mandan, fifteen hundred miles, the rest of the journeys being to Fort Lisa at Council Bluff, six hundred and seventy miles. After the establishment of this post he spent most, probably all of the winters there, returning to St. Louis in the spring each year. His last sojourn in his Nebraska home was in 1819, and this time his wife, whom he had recently married in St. Louis, was with him. He had kept at least one woman of the Omahas as wife or mistress, and there is a tragic story of his final separation from her before his last trip back to St. Louis, and of her giving up their two children to him because she thought it would be best for them. As is often the case



First white woman to live in Nebraska

with original and adventurous spirits, in a commercial sense Lisa sowed that others might reap, and he died at St. Louis, in August, 1820, leaving little of the material gain for which he had striven with wonderful energy and at such great risks. While McKay and Cruzatte, and perhaps others of the white race may have had lodgment in Nebraska before Lisa, yet it seems fair to call him the first real white settler. Thomas Biddle, the journalist of the Yellowstone expedition, in a report to Atkinson, commandant at Camp Missouri, dated October 29, 1819, says that Lisa's party went

   11 Chittenden, History of American Fur Trade, p. 113.

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