to the mouth of the Bighorn in 1809 and that they wintered there that year, and on the waters of the Columbia in 1810-1811; but Lisa, himself, returned to St. Louis in the fall of 1809. By Biddle's showing the Missouri river fur trade was on the whole unprofitable, and the various companies or partnerships were short-lived, and according to his statement, the Missouri Fur Company expired in 1814 or 1815; by other accounts it dissolved between 1828-1830, Joshua Pilcher remaining its president after Lisa's death. Biddle tells us also



Engraving from a photograph owned by John Q. Goss, Bellevue, Nebraska.


Elected principal chief of the Omahas, September, 1853

that after the dissolution of the Missouri company, Lisa, Pilcher, and others bought a new company for $10,000, and they added goods to the amount of $7,000. As Lisa died in 1820, he could not have joined Pilcher in his last enterprise after the expiration of the Missouri company, if it had lived until 1828 or 1830. The confusion must be accounted for by the fact that another company of the same name was organized after the dissolution of the first, and it is to that doubtless that some writers refer. Long notes that Major Pilcher and Lucien Fontenelle were in the employ of the Missouri Fur Company at the beginning of the year 1820. Not long after Lisa's death, the company, now in charge of Pilcher, moved its post from Fort Lisa down to the site of Bellevue. Chittenden states that Lucien Fontenelle and Andrew Drips bought the post soon after this time and retained it many years, though in another place this author says that they built a post at Bellevue. It is probable that this Fontenelle was connected with one of the numerous French royal families, and it is stated that he committed suicide at Fort Laramie; but reliable local accounts say that he left his mountain trading post in 1839 and came to Bellevue where he lived with his family until he died, from intemperate habits, in 1840. He married a woman of the Omaha tribe and they had five children.

   Logan Fontenelle. Logan Fontenelle became a chief of the Omahas and a man of much note among the Indians and the earliest white settlers. Henry Fontenelle, a brother of this Omaha chief, has given the following account of his death:

   In June, 1855, Logan went with the tribe as usual on their summer buffalo hunt, and as usual their enemies, the Sioux, laid in wait for the Omahas in vicinities of large herds of buffalo, The first surround they made on the buffalo the Sioux made a descent upon them in overwhelming numbers and turned the chase into battle. Four Omahas were killed and several wounded. In every attempt at getting buffalo the Sioux charged upon them. The Omahas concluded it was useless to try to get any buffalo, and retreated toward home. They traveled three days, and, thinking they were out of danger, Logan, one morning, in company with Louis Saunsoci and another Indian, started on ahead of the moving village and were about three miles away when they espied a herd of elk in the distance. Logan proposed chase, they started, that was the last seen of him alive. The same moment the village was surrounded by the Sioux. About ten o'clock in the morning a battle ensued and lasted until three o'clock, when they found out Logan was killed. His body was found and brought into Bellevue and buried by the side of his father. He had the advantage of a limited education and saw the advantage of



it. He made it a study to promote the welfare of his people and to bring them out of their wretchedness, poverty and ignorance. His first step to that end was to organize a parole of picked men and punish all that came home intoxicated with bad whiskey. His effort to stop whiskey drinking was successful. It was his intention as soon as the Omahas were settled in their new home to ask the government to establish ample schools among them, to educate the children of the tribe by force if they would not send the children by reasonable persuasion. His calculations for the benefit of the tribe were many, but, like many other human calculations, his life suddenly ended in the prime, and just as he was ready to benefit his people and sacrifice a life's labor for helpless humanity. After Logan was killed the Omahas went back to Bellevue instead of coming back to the reservation whence they started, and wintered along the Missouri river between Calhoun and the reservation, some of them at Bellevue. In the spring of 1856 they again went back to their reservation, where they have been since.

   Between the years 1822 and 1826, J. P. Cabanné established a post for the American Fur Company at a point nine or ten miles above the later site of the Union Pacific bridge at Omaha. It is probable that Joshua Pilcher succeeded Cabanné in the management of the post in 1833, and between that year and 1840 it was moved down to Bellevue and placed under the management of Peter A. Sarpy. Pilcher succeeded General Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, as superintendent of Indian affairs at St. Louis in 1838. The Rev. Samuel Allis, a missionary to the Pawnee Indians and who was frequently at Bellevue as early as 1834 and thereafter, states that in the year named, his party camped at the fur company's fort and that Major Pilcher was in charge of the post; also that soon after Peter A. Sarpy came into that part of the country he was clerk for Cabanné. Chittenden says that "Fontenelle and Drips apparently bought Pilcher's Post and established it in their own name which it retained for many years." Thus both the Missouri Fur Company's post and the American Fur Company's post appear to have been transferred to Bellevue, the one from Fort Lisa and the other from Cabanné's, The Rev. Moses Merrill, a Baptist missionary to the Otoe Indians, who came to Bellevue on his mission in the fall of 1833, speaks in his diary of visiting Cabanné's post as late as April 1, 1839, so that it could not have been removed to Bellevue before that time; and Mr. Merrill, whose diary comes down to August 18, 1839, makes no mention of the removal. In this diary Mr. Merrill frequently speaks of riding from Bellevue to "the trading post," eighteen miles, which was in charge of Major Pilcher, and evidently the old Cabanné post. On the 7th of March, 1834, Merrill makes the following entry in his diary: "Sublette and Campbell have established a trading post here in opposition to the American Company." On the 10th of May, 1834, he records that he set out from the trading post eighteen miles above Bellevue, which must have been Cabanné's, to the Otoe village which he says was twenty-five miles distant. After Mr. Merrill had established himself at the Otoe mission house on the south side of the Platte, he records, May 30, 1836, that he rode to Cabanné's post, thirty miles. Mr. Merrill repeatedly states that he and the women who assisted him in his mission work, went backwards and forwards daily between the mission house and the Otoe village, so that they could have been only a short distance apart. The permanent Otoe villages were on the west side of the Platte river forty miles from its mouth, not far from the present village of Yutan. The Merrill mission establishment was about eight miles above the month of the Platte where a chimney still marks its site. Merrill's diary tells us in a vague way that the Otoe villages were moved down the Platte from the site in question during the summer of 1835. Merrill gives the distance from the trading post to the villages and to the mission as the same, showing that they were very near together; and his diary gives other ample evidence of that fact. Allis says that Merrill's establishment was on the Platte, six miles from Bellevue.
   In a paper by the Rev. S. P. Merrill, the missionary's son, the following statement is made: "A few miles from Bellevue, just below Boyer's creek, was the trading post of Cabanné. This post was sold about this time to a fur





Photographs by A. E. Sheldon



company, and in 1834 was occupied by Major Pilcher." This agrees with another statement that Pilcher succeeded Cabanné as manager of the post in 1833. Mr. Merrill states that at Bellevue was a government agency for the Otoes, Pawnees, Omahas, and Missouris. "Bellevue," he says. "was at first a trading post of the Missouri Fur Company. They had sold out to Fontenelle, and he had disposed of a part of his holdings to the government. Here Major John Dougherty was government agent and Major Beauchamp was assistant. There were here now but few men. During the summer before, the cholera had carried off seven out of ten in twenty-four hours. On the bank of the river were the poorer huts, while higher up were the agency buildings. A quarter of a mile below were the buildings of Fontenelle. Mr. Merrill says that under Major Dougherty were "his brother, Hannibal, assistant, a teacher, an assistant teacher, two blacksmiths to care for the farming tools, and one or two farmers to teach the Indians how to make their crops." The missionary, the Rev. Moses Merrill, unfortunately for the cause of accurate history, was an almost morbid religious devotee, and his diary is so largely given up to recording his devotions and varying religious moods as to leave too little room for intelligible historical data.

   Peter A. Sarpy. P. A. Sarpy, born 1804, was a son of Gregoire Berald and Pelagie (Labadie) Sarpy. His father is said to have been the first man to attempt the navigation of the Missouri river in a keel boat. But little is known of his early life except that he was of French extraction and was educated in St. Louis where his relatives, the Chouteaus and others, occupied high social position. His elder brother, John B. Sarpy, was an important factor in the fur trade and the general commercial life of St. Louis. He was born in that city January 12, 1798, and was first employed as a clerk for Berthold and Chouteau, with whom he was associated in business for the balance of his life. His first wife was the eldest daughter of John P. Cabanné. About 1823 Peter A. Sarpy came to Nebraska as a clerk for the American Fur Company under John P. Cabanné, and in 1824 succeeded him as manager of the post at Bellevue. Shortly after, he established a post on the Iowa side of the Missouri river which he called Traders Point; this was used for the accommodation of the whites, while Bellevue catered chiefly to the Indian trade. On account of the encroachments of the river, Traders Point was abandoned in 1853 and a new location established at St. Mary, four miles down the river. In 1853 Colonel Sarpy established flat-boat ferries across the Elkhorn river near where Elkhorn

From an old daguerreotype taken in 1855 at Council Bluffs, Iowa, and given to the Nebraska State Historical Society by J. Sterling Morton.

City was afterwards located, and on the Loup Fork near the present site of Columbus. He was a man of peculiar temperament, kind at heart, but in the pursuit of his business enterprises he spared no one. He was small and wiry in build, possessing great physical endurance. He loved the freedom of the West and was intimately associated with the Indians, being honored with the title of "white chief" by the Omahas. He married, according to Indian custom, Ni-co-mi, a woman of the Iowas, to, whom he was greatly attached, and whom he as greatly feared. Ni-co-mi had been the wife of Dr. John Gale, who had deserted her and their child. In 1854 Mr. Sarpy was a member





The lower view represents a steamboat wreck on the Missouri river, copied from Early Steamboat Navigation on the Missouri River, Chittenden. The others are from photographs owned by the Nebraska State Historical Society.



of the Old Town company which laid out the town of Bellevue, and in company with Stephen Decatur and others laid out the town of Decatur, where he had maintained a trading post. In 1862, he moved to Plattsmouth, where he died January 4, 1865. Sarpy county was named in his honor. The St. Louis relatives of Colonel Sarpy deny that he left any considerable estate. He provided, however, for the payment of an annuity of $200 to Ni-co-mi, his Indian wife, which amount was paid regularly until her death.

    EARLY TRADERS. A number of the hardy traders of the early days in the Plains country deserve special attention and, briefly sketched, their lives throw a ray of light into those early days and present an understanding of the loneliness of the lives they led, as nothing else can.

    Manuel de Lisa. Manuel de Lisa, Spanish fur trader of Nebraska, was born in Cuba, September 8, 1772. He came to this country about the time the Spanish took possession of Louisiana. His father was in the service of the Spanish government during most of his life time. Manuel de Lisa went to St. Louis about the year 1790, when he became interested in the fur business. In 1800, he secured from the Spanish government the exclusive right to trade with the Osage Indians. In 1807, he came up the Missouri river and established a post and began the fur trade at the mouth of the Bighorn and also at Fort Lisa, near the present site of Fort Calhoun. He returned to St. Louis and organized the St. Louis Fur Company. Lisa, was made subagent for all of the Indian tribes along the Missouri north of Kansas. He was beyond question the most active and successful man who ever entered the Indian country in the early days, and rendered great service to the government. He was a prominent citizen of St. Louis and was one of the incorporators of the Bank of St. Louis in 1813.
   Manuel Lisa was married twice among his own people, and also had a wife from the Omaha tribe. It is said this marriage was for the purpose of ingratiating himself into the Indian favor and to hold a commericial advantage over his rivals in the fur trade.
   Two children were born of this union and were recognized in his will as his "natural children." Lisa provided for the education of these children before his death. Little is known of his first wife who favored him with three children. The second wife of his own people was Mary Hampstead Keeny, of St. Louis, whom he married August 5, 1818. Mrs. Lisa spent the winter of 1819-1820 with her husband at his post in Nebraska and was probably the first white woman to ascend the Missouri river.

    Major Joshua Pilcher. Major Joshua Pilcher, pioneer Indian trader, was born in Virginia, March 15, 1790. He entered business pursuits in St. Louis in 1812, and in 1820 entered the fur trade as a member of the reorganized Missouri Fur Company, of which he became president in 1821, upon the death of Manuel Lisa. He remained at the head of this company until its dissolution about 1830. For a time he transferred his services to the American Fur Company and had charge of their post at Council Bluff. In 1838, he was appointed by President Van Buren as superintendent of Indian affairs at St. Louis, which was made vacant by the death of General William Clark, the associate of Meriwether Lewis. As did a large number of these early pioneers, he married an Indian woman. He is represented as a man of great ability, of strict integrity, and high standing in business and social circles.

   Lucien Fontenelle. Lucien Francois Fontenelle, pioneer Indian fur trader, was a direct descendant of a powerful family of the French nobility. Lucien was born near New Orleans about 1800. He entered the employ of the American Fur Company at St. Louis in 1816 and made his headquarters at Fort Laramie. He later entered business for himself and for a time was associated with Andrew Drips. He established a storehouse at Bellevue where he made his home. He was intimately associated with the Omaha Indians and married a woman of the tribe. It is said the marriage



was performed by Father De Smet, an influential Catholic missionary.
   Fontenelle had five children: Logan, Henry, Albert, Tecumseh, and Susan. He gave all of his children a good education and they were baptised in the Catholic faith. In 1838, he abandoned his mountain home and lived with his family in Bellevue. He died in 1840 and was buried at Bellevue. His distinguished son, Logan, was later buried by his side.
   Andrew Drips. Andrew Drips, fur trader, was born in 1789 in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. But little is known of his early history. Like his contemporaries, he went to St. Louis which at the time was attracting attention. In 1820 he became a member of the reorganized Missouri Fur Company and accompanied many expeditions in its interest, gaining a reputation as mountaineer. In 1842, he was appointed Indian agent by President Tyler for the Indians of the upper Missouri tribes. After four years in this service he entered the employ of the American Fur Company and for some years lived in the vicinity of Bellevue. For a time he was associated with Lucien Fontenelle and Joshua Pitcher. In early life he married an Indian woman of the Otoe tribe. Major Drips died in 1880 at Kansas City.
   John Pierre Cabanné. John Pierre Cabanné, Indian trader, and prominent citizen of St. Louis, was born about 1773. The first brick residence of St. Louis was built by Mr. Cabanné and was known as the Cabanné mansion, on the King's Highway, near the present site of Forest Park. He was engaged in mercantile business in that city for many years. He was one of the commissioners for the bank of Missouri in 1816. A year or two earlier he became identified with the American Fur Company. After 1820 he devoted his attention almost exclusively to the fur trade and made many trips up the Missouri river in its interest. Between 1822 and 1826, he established a post known as Cabanné's Post, about ten miles above the present site of Omaha. He was in charge of this post until 1833. Major Pitcher succeeded him in charge of the which was afterward removed to Bellevue. Mr. Cabanné died in St. Louis in 1841.
   Moses Merrill. Moses Merrill, pioneer Indian missionary, was born in Sedgwick county, Maine, in 1803. His father was a soldier in the Revolutionary war and afterward became a minister of the Baptist faith. Moses was given the best education common in his day and for a time taught school in his native state. After being licensed to preach, he offered his services as a missionary to the Indians, but the New York Baptist convention to which the offer was made, did not accept it. For a time he lived in Michigan where he engaged in teaching and in the study of theology. Mr. Merrill married Eliza Wilcox in 1830, and in 1832 was appointed missionary to Sault Ste. Marie. The following spring they were transferred to Missouri, and later went to Bellevue where a mission school was once opened. Mr. Merrill and his wife labored faithfully among the Indians, teaching and preaching until his life was laid down in 1840.

   AUTHENTIC EXPLORATIONS. The most important of the early explorations was that of Lewis and Clark. Their expedition had official significance and gave definite information concerning a vast region and lent an impetus towards its further exploration. This eve marks the beginning of definite history of the territory from which was to be carved a number of populous and prosperous states.

William Clark. William Clark was born August 1, 1770, in Kentucky, not far from his later associate, Meriwether Lewis. At fourteen years of age he removed with his parents. to Louisville where, amidst the most humble surroundings, he grew up. He chose a military career and was appointed ensign in the regular army at the age of eighteen; two years later he was made captain of militia. In he was commissioned lieutenant of infantry and later served as adjutant and quartermaster. In 1796 he resigned from the army on account of ill health and returned to his farm in Kentucky.
   In 1807 Lieutenant Clark was commissioned by President Jefferson as brigadier-general



and Indian agent of Louisiana territory. In this office he became widely known and greatly trusted by both whites and Indians. In 1812 the name of the territory was changed to Missouri, and in 1813 General Clark was appointed by President Madison as governor of the territory, which embraced all of the present state of Nebraska. He was reappointed by Madison in 1816 and 1817, and by Monroe in 1820. He held the office continuously until Missouri was admitted as a state into the Union. In 1822, President Monroe named him as superintendent of Indian affairs, which position he held until his death in St. Louis in 1838.
   Meriwether Lewis. Meriwether Lewis was born in 1774 near Charlottesville, Virginia. He came of an illustrious family which had achieved military distinction during the Revolutionary war. His early life was spent on a farm, but at the age of twenty he answered the call of George Washington for volunteers to put down the "whisky rebellion." He later entered the regular service as a lieutenant; still later he was appointed to a captaincy, and finally became paymaster of his regiment, He had served for two years as private secretary to President Jefferson before his appointment to command the expedition through which he became famous. At his suggestion, the president appointed Lieutenant Clark as his associate in the command of the exploring party. In 1807, Captain Lewis was appointed governor of Louisiana with headquarters at St. Louis. He held this office until his death by suicide in 1809.

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