sad havoc with the crops. "That region has suffered from this scourge several times before, and if the ravages this year are as great as they were last it is enough to depopulate the country." In 1866 the Plattsmouth Herald states that grasshoppers are making sad havoc of vegetation in Salt Creek and Weeping Water regions. The Nebraska City News says: "From almost every quarter of the country we hear complaints of the ravages of grasshoppers. Fields of corn, wheat, oats, etc., are being swept away in a single day. The gardens in the city have suffered terribly from their onslaught." By July 1st the News

Franklin Sweet


breaks out in rejoicing because, "Northward the grasshoppers take their course. Not one remains to tell the ravages done by them. The chickens since their departure are dying of starvation. They refuse to eat anything but fresh grasshoppers." The same paper advises settlers to let the grass on the prairies remain until spring and then burn it and 40,000 millions of young grasshoppers.
   Prospecting for coal was carried on in the South Platte section in 1867 with a good deal of hope if not enthusiasm. The Omaha Herald of March 22d congratulates J. Sterling Morton on his pluck and perseverance in solving the coal question. "A considerable will is already producing coal of as pure and unadulterated a quality as Pennsylvania ever placed upon the markets of the world." The Home Coal Mining Company of Nebraska City, at this time had a shaft down 100 feet on Mr. Morton's farm, and the News of March 27th says, "Doubters may sneer, but the result will show that pluck, faith, and works are always rewarded with success." Unfortunately these optimistic coal miners were counting more upon a very vulnerable, though venerable maxim than upon scientific data. The basis of the Herald's hopes were "several large blocks" of this coal "brought from Morton's mines." The qualities which failed of success in the quest for coal, however, achieved it on the same ground by adaptation to nature's intention and provision. The News of October 28, 1867, notes that the editor, J. Sterling Morton, raised that year fifty bushels of apples on 300 trees. As early as September 19, 1861, the Advertiser pins its faith to peaches: "They have done well in this section of Nebraska the present season. There need no longer be any doubt as to fruit of almost all kinds being raised successfully. This is the first season that peach trees have borne to any extent, but this year they have 'literally broke down' where they have grown on the uplands. The highest and most exposed positions hereabouts have produced the most abundant crops." It was nearly for later that experiments in peach raising in southern Nebraska were carried on with sufficient thoroughness to justify the faith of Mr. Furnas, the editor of the Advertiser.
   The production of salt was the object of more faith, hope, and enthusiasm than that of coal, and proved equally illusive; though in the earlier days, before means of transportation had been established, the salt springs near the site of the present city of Lincoln were of great practical benefit. They attracted the attention and supplied the wants of the earliest settlers, and as late as 1867 probably had more influence in establishing the capital of the state in their neighborhood than any other legitimate consideration. We find merchants of Nebraska City advertising in the News of



April 21, 1860, that they had for sale "the best and finest article of table salt, gathered from the banks of Salt creek, forty miles directly west of this city. Nature is the only evaporator used in the manufacture of this salt." The News of April 28th relates that a sample of some thirty bushels of the very neatest and best of table salt had been brought for its inspection, and it had been "scraped up from the banks of Salt creek with a shovel. The probability is that the salt, as well as gold, silver, and coal mines of Nebraska are inexhaustible." The News of May 25, 1861, notes that a train of three wagons passed through Nebraska City to engage in the manufacture of salt at the springs fifty miles west. The same paper says that, "A gentleman the other day brought in from Salt creek 1800 pounds of as fine salt as we have ever seen. It met with ready sale. There is a mine of wealth out there." The News of September 14, 1861, reports that there are "four salt basins of a thousand acres each -- except one small one -- filled with small springs that during the night ooze out their briny waters and cover the plateaus with a thick scum of salt. They ebb and flow like the tides of the ocean, during the night time covering the entire surface to the extent of thousands of acres and to a depth of several inches. By nine o'clock of an ordinarily dry day, with sunshine, the waters have sunk away, or rather evaporated, leaving a crust of salt. There are at present ten furnaces." The Advertiser reports that a number of persons from Nemaha county and Atchison county, Missouri, had been out to the salt springs in Saline and Lancaster counties manufacturing salt for winter use. "They all returned with their wagons filled with the very best quality of salt. The salt manufactured at these springs is precisely the same as we get in small sacks. called table salt. Hereafter there will be but little salt brought up the river for this region of the country." The News of June 28, 1862, in a description of Salt creek valley, says that along this valley and near some of its tributaries the saline deposits and springs are found, the first of them in township 8, and thence to township 12 they are of frequent occurrence. The more southerly are not of very great value. In township 10 of ranges 6 and 7 are found the great springs, the water of which is of sufficient strength and supply to make the manufacture profitable. The News of June 7, 1862, notes that the surveyor general of Kansas and Nebraska "is about to visit and reëxamine the saline lands lying west of this city in Calhoun county."
   By virtue of the act of Congress of March 2, 1867, in that year Prof. F. V. Hayden made a geological survey of the state, and in his report to the secretary of the interior he stated that there was a great salt basin near the town of Lancaster, covering 400 acres, another of 200 acres between Oak creek and Salt creek and a third of like extent, called Kenosha basin, on the Little Salt, besides numerous small basins on Middle creek. The largest spring was on Salt creek, from which four gallons of salt water a minute flowed in a single stream out of sand rock. "From June to November, 1866, two companies were operating in these basins, producing in that time about sixty thousand pounds of salt."
   The News of March 20, 1867, quotes the prediction of the Omaha Herald that, "What the Saline springs have been to New York, the Lancaster salt springs are certain to be to Nebraska . . . Salt can be manufactured by solar evaporation at Lancaster and laid down upon the Union Pacific road at a cost of not more than eight cents per bushel. It now brings in this market $1.50 per bushel." The Herald of March 22, 1867, insists that, "The waters of Lancaster contain more of the great staple than the Syracuse water by actual measurement"; and it insists that they can be evaporated by the solar method at a cost of eight cents a bushel. A vexatious question arose as to whether these salt springs were saline lands under the law and so reserved from private sale. The report of the commissioner of the general land office for 1861 states that the notes of the deputy surveyor in 1857 show that there was a small establishment for boiling the water for salt making on section 22, township 10, in that year; and that he had "discovered valuable salt springs along the bed of the creek and in sections 22,



23, 34, and 37." The secretary of the interior had advised him that the delegate (presumably the delegate to Congress, Mr. Daily) had informed him that there was "good reason to believe that large quantities of saline lands have been reported as ordinary lands by fraudulent collusion between the surveyors and speculators." On the 12th of September, 1859, John W. Prey located military land warrants on 320 acres of these lands, which included the best of the springs, in sections 21 and 22, township 10 north of range 6 east, and the certificates were issued by Andrew Hopkins, register of the land office at Nebraska City. Mr. Prey had obtained these warrants from J. S. Morton, who held them as agent for eastern owners. As they were worth their face for land entry but were below par in the market, there might be mutual advantage in this arrangement. Patents for these lands were sent to the land office, but before they were delivered the question whether the lands were open to private entry arose, and the patents were withheld by the order of the commissioner of the general land office. In the following November Prey made warranty deeds of an undivided third interest in these lands to Andrew Hopkins, Charles A. Manners, and J. Sterling Morton, respectively, the consideration recited in each deed being $166. The commissioner of the land office held that these lands were reserved as saline lands under the act of July 22, 1854. The enabling act of 1864 granted to the state of Nebraska, when it should be admitted into the Union, "all salt springs in said state not exceeding twelve in number, with six sections of land adjoining, to be selected by the governor within one year after the admission of the state." Governor Butler made a selection of most of the lands under this act in June, 1867. In his message to the legislature which convened January 7, 1869, Governor Butler made an enthusiastic statement of his belief in the great commercial value of the salt basin and said that for the purpose of promoting the early development of the salt industry he had leased one section of the salt lands claimed by the state to Anson C. Tichenor, who in turn assigned a half interest in the lease to the Nebraska Salt Company of Chicago; but this company was neglecting or refusing to develop the industry. On the 15th of February, 1869, the legislature declared this lease void, and on the same date a part of the reserve --the north half, and the north half of the south half of section 21, township 10 -- was leased by the governor to Anson C. Tichenor and Jesse T. Green for a term of twenty years. For the purpose of testing the legal rights of the purchasers of the lands under Prey's entry, as against the state and its lessees, on the 24th of December, 1870, J. Sterling Morton, with several assistants, including Edward P. Roggen, since well known as a politician and secretary of the state of Nebraska, took possession of a building upon the leased lands which had been erected by the lessees for their use while carrying on the work of salt production; but the premises were not occupied at this time. Thereupon, under the direction of James E. Philpott, attorney for the lessees, Morton and Roggen were arrested on the charge of stealing firewood which was piled up at the building they had appropriated to their use. The alleged trespassers were brought before John H. Ames, then justice of the peace, since then a commissioner of the supreme court of Nebraska, and Seth Robinson, attorney-general of the state, appeared to prosecute them. On Morton's agreement to desist from any further attempt to obtain possession of the disputed lands until the question of title should be legally settled, the criminal proceedings were stopped at this stage.
   On the 7th of January, 1871, Mr. Morton began an action in the court of Lancaster county against the lessees to recover $20,000 damages for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment, and the trial resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff for the sum of $100, which was paid into court for his benefit. On the same day on which this suit was begun Messrs. Morton, Manners, and Hopkins brought suit in ejectment against the lessees. The case was tried in the district court of Lancaster county and was decided in favor of the defendants. On appeal to the supreme court Justices Lorenzo Crounse and George B. Lake, affirmed the decision of the district court,



while Justice Oliver I. Mason dissented in a long and vigorous opinion, in which he held that the reservation act of 1854 did not apply to the lands in question. The plaintiffs then carried the case to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it was contested on their part by such eminent counsel as Jeremiah S. Black, Montgomery Blair, J. H. Hopkins and Eleazer Wakeley; and by E. Rockwood Hoar for the defendants. Judge Wakeley had been Mr. Morton's attorney from the inception of the case. The Supreme Court also decided against the plaintiffs, Judge David Davis writing the opinion, in which he held that the lands in question had been reserved as saline lands by the act of Congress, and that the patents -- or right to them -- on which the plaintiffs relied for their title were void from the beginning. The opinion recites that, "It appears by the record that on the survey of the Nebraska country the salines in question were noted on the field books but those notes were not transmitted to the register's general plats, and it is argued that the failure to do this gave a right of entry." But the court held that the language of the statute was sweeping. "The executive officers had no authority to issue a patent for the lands in controversy, because they were not subject to entry having been previously reserved." It appears that before Prey located these lands with his military warrants the President of the United States had offered them for sale, and there being no bidders they were thus, so far as this record appeared, left open to private filing or entry.
   An article in the Nebraska City News of January 11, 1862 -- A. F. Harvey editor of the paper at this time throws light on the political contention which arose out of the filing on the lands:

    The meddling propensities of Wm. H. Taylor, member of the legislature, candidate for congress, etc., have induced him to attempt to procure the cancellation of certain entries of land in Lancaster county, supposed to embrace the famous salt springs. The Omaha Republican approvingly pats William on the back for sticking his nose into what was none of his business, and points a finger, crying "fraud" at Hon. J. Sterling Morton, Gov. Black, Andrew Hopkins esq., and the late Gen. Calhoun, because they happen to be owners of portions of said lands.
   As for the fraud in the entry of the said lands, neither E. B. Taylor, nor the immaculate Wm. H., can truthfully point to any. We have before stated, and repeat, at the time the surveys were ordered, the department had no information of the supposed existence of salt springs in Nebraska, and consequently the surveyors were not instructed. And, at the time the surveys were made the country was so flooded with water, that it was impossible to define any portion of it as saline lands, and the deputies could not carry out even the general instruction of the manual. The surveyor general, and the department of the interior never had, and under the circumstances, could not have, any official knowledge of the existence of the saline lands. When, therefore, after the sales of 1859, the unsold lands became subject to private entry, these lands like others, were only known as common lands; and if Mr. John W. Prey knew the "numbers" of them, and having the means to pay for them, did buy them and "put money in his purse" by disposing of them afterwards, he did only what any other man was entitled to do; what Wm. H. Taylor might and would also have done had he been sharp enough.
   The fact that certain distinguished democrats -- Messrs. Morton, Black, and Hopkins -- were the purchasers from Mr. Prey of the most valuable of the salt lands seems to be the only reason that Taylor has had, in attempting to procure the cancellation of the entries. Envy and jealousy are prominent characteristics of the gentleman, and he has taken the opportunity to display them in the most paltry form. But that he was blinded by these passions he could have let well enough alone, knowing as he certainly must, if he has a solitary particle of common sense that the springs in the hands of private individuals, who have been preparing to invest considerable capital in working them, would be vastly more productive and of much larger benefit to the territory than they can be, by any possible means, when under the direction of government agents. The whole cancelling affair is one outrageous humbug, got up, and carried on through spite, and the most infinitesimal meanness.

   In pursuance of "an act to provide for the sale and leasing of the Saline lands and the development of the Saline interests of the state of Nebraska," passed by the legislature of 1885, a contract was made with M. C. Bullock of Chicago, December 22d of that year,



for sinking a well to the depth of 2,000 feet for a consideration of $10,125. The plant was set by April 7, 1886, and actual work was begun on the 3d of May and continued to the last of August, 1887. At a depth of 600 feet flowing water was reached, as in the Cahn and Evans well. "This water is some different from that obtained at the government square. Both flows were found in limestone, the one at the square at 560 feet." The work under the first contract ceased at 2,008 feet. "No brine of sufficient strength to warrant the manufacture of salt" having been found, a supplementary contract was made to go down 400 feet further. The work stopped at a depth of 2,463 feet, "without finding any brine or indications of salt." The strongest brine was found in a stratum of sand and gravel between depths of 195 feet and 205 feet, and it tested thirty-five degrees. It was the opinion of B. P. Russell, the geologist in charge of the work, that the salt springs upon the basin were caused by the gradual rising of this water to the surface. At 205 feet the first hard rock was found, and the use of the diamond drill began. A pipe or casing, nine inches in diameter, was sunk in the first forty-nine feet of the boring, and then a seven-inch pipe was inserted in this and sunk below it down to the hard rock at 205 feet. From this point to a depth of 365 feet a bit cutting a core four inches in diameter was used; then a bit cutting a two-inch core was substituted and used to a depth of 1,025 feet, where a soft straturn compelled the reaming of this smaller section and the sinking of a four-inch casing through the soft material until hard rock was again reached at 1,113 feet. The artesian stratum of water at 600 feet was a weak brine of twelve to fourteen degrees, another flowing stratum at 828 feet tested from twenty degrees to twenty-two degrees.
   The geologist in charge was loth to give up the boring; for while it had "resulted in no discoveries of economic importance," yet deep boring would give us the only information of the lower formations of the state. Negative results of the experiment were of no small importance, for "we know now that there is nothing thus far to warrant the expenditure of money by the state for the development of these salt springs."
   The geologist, however, considered it a question of freight charges whether it would pay to manufacture salt from this brine of thirty-five degrees; it would pay if a price of $1.50 a barrel could be guaranteed. In Michigan it was not profitable to work brine weaker than ninety-five degrees, and there the slabs and other refuse of the sawmills furnished fuel for boiling without cost.
   While this one-time famous salt basin yielded no important benefits to mankind, it unfortunately influenced the commissioners to unwisely plant the capital city in a semi-basin in its uncomely and otherwise injurious contiguity, from which, year by year, it instinctively shrinks toward the sightliness, salubrity, and unsalted water supply of the adjacent but originally slighted slopes.
   Corn and cattle, which in later years have come to be the imperial products of Nebraska, were here in prehistoric times, but the original bovine lords of the plains -- the vast herds of buffalos -- have been succeeded by their finely bred cousins with which the farms and ranches, into which the plains have been transformed, are now stocked. Buffalos were very numerous up to the time of the advent of the Union Pacific railway.
   In 1835 Parker found them numerous about the forks of the Platte, but in greater number along the north fork. East of the forks he saw very few. Parkman in his trip up the Platte in 1846 complains that his party had been "four days on the Platte and no buffalo." Captain Bonneville in 1832 found many at the crossing of the Platte; but at Chimney Rock on the north fork Irving tells us that "as far as the eye could reach the country seemed actually blackened by innumerable herds." No language, he says, could convey an adequate idea of the vast living mass thus presented to the eye. He remarked that the cows and bulls generally congregated in separate herds.
   In 1846 Bryant found them numerous above the forks of the Platte. "We saw large, herds during our march, some of which approached us so nearly that there was danger of their mingling with our loose cattle." This traveler



remarks that hunting these animals is exciting sport, their speed and endurance being such that it requires a good horse to overtake them or break them down in a fair race, and the skill and practice of a good hunter to place the ball in fatal parts. He had known a buffalo to be perforated with twenty balls and yet be able to maintain a distance between himself and his pursuer. "Experienced hunters aim to shoot them in the lungs or the spine. From the skull the ball rebounds, flattened as from a rock or a surface of iron and has usually no other effect on the animal than to increase his speed. A wound in the spine brings them to the ground instantly, and after a wound in the lungs their career is soon suspended from difficulty of breathing. They usually sink, rather than fall, upon their knees and haunches, and in that position remain until they are dead, rarely rolling upon their backs." Mr. Bryant remarks that the flesh of the bull is coarse, dry, and tough, but that from a young fat heifer or cow -- and many of them were very fat -- "is superior to our best beef." "The choice pieces of a fat cow are a strip of flesh along each side of the spine from the shoulders to the rump; the tender-loin; the liver; the heart; the tongue; the hump-ribs; and an intestinal vessel or organ, commonly called by hunters the 'marrow-gut' which anatomically speaking, is the chylo-poetic duct."

Franklin Sweet

Photo by A. E. Sheldon, November, 1903.

From the Deer Park of John W. Gilbert, near Friend, Nebraska

   Major Long, on his expedition in 1819, also found buffalos in large numbers above the confluence of the forks of the Platte, and at one time, "it would be no exaggeration to say that at least ten thousand here burst on our sight in an instant." Major Long also found these animals in vast numbers, on his return trip, in the neighborhood of the great bend on the Arkansas. In the upper Platte country he observes that, "We have frequently remarked broad, shallow excavations in the soil of the diameter of from five to eight feet, and greatest depth from six to eighteen inches. These are of rare occurrence near the Missouri as far as Engineer Cantonment and in other districts where the bison is seldom seen at the present day." He observes that these "wallows" become more and more numerous as he goes west, "offering a considerable impediment to the traveler who winds his way amongst them, and are entirely destitute of grass, being covered with a deep dust." Major Long was convinced from observation that these wallows were made by the bulls dusting themselves by means of their fore feet, and that they also served as places for rolling and wallowing. Stansbury also found large herds of buffalos west of the forks of the Platte. Kelly found these animals in immense numbers in the same region. They were so numerous that he was driven to confess that the stories he had heard about them in this respect had not been exaggerated.



   In 1851 Father De Smet found that "the whole space between the Missouri and the Yellowstone was covered [with buffalos] as far as the eye could reach." He observed that a young Indian lured the cows within easy gun-shot by imitating the cries of a calf, and he called back the simple creatures to their death at pleasure by repeating these cries after he had killed part of them. After leaving the valley of the Platte, "a very sensible change is perceptible in the productions of the soil; instead of the former robust and vigorous vegetation the plains are overgrown with a short, crisp grass; however it is very nourishing and eagerly sought by the herds of buffalo and countless wild animals that graze on them."
   It is notable that but few antelopes were found on the Nebraska plains by these earlier travelers.
   The Omaha Republican -- August 8, 1860 notes that several hunters had just returned from Kearney bringing with them sixteen buffalo calves which they had captured in that vicinity. At this time there were plenty of buffalos to be found between Plum Creek and Lone Tree Station, twenty miles below Fort Kearney. A great many were shot by travelers every day for mere sport, and the stench from the dead bodies was intolerable.
   The editor of the Huntsman's Echo not only gives us many facts illustrative of the kingship of the buffalo in central Nebraska, just before the influx of white settlers which followed the building of the principal railroads, but he dresses up his information in a quaint style and tells his story with a charming naivete. On the 26th of July, 1860, he tells us that, "A few miles above, on the Platte and Wood rivers, there are numerous herds. Across the river it is said, they are coming over from the Republican in innumerable multitudes, and many, famishing for food or water -- whilst making for the Platte for a drink, are frightened back by emigrants and travelers, yet make immediate efforts to gain the water, but are again driven back by the report of fire-arms; and, we are told, many thus perish before they reach the water."
   On the 6th of September of the same year, this defiant note resounds from the Echo:

    Buffalo are again continually coming about our farm, ranch and office, bothering us by eating our vegetables, cropping the grass, bellowing and kicking up a dust generally; and not being able to stand it longer we sent the boys, and Doc F. out to drive them away; this resulted in prostrating the carcasses of two, and as dogs and wolves are scarce we have had to breakfast, dine and sup from their flesh since our return. We shan't try to stand it, and give timely notice that the echo of fire arms will be a common thing in this neck of woods, unless these fearfully frightful looking creatures desist from peaking into our office, and dis-composing our printer.
   In another item of the same issue it is stated that "at Kearney it seems, they almost come into the town. The driver of the 'express' from Denver. . . . was compelled to bring his team to a walking pace near Kearney because of the buffalo thronging the road."
   All through the growing season, evidently, the buffalo was the paramount issue. On the 27th of September the editor continues the story: "Our garden of late has not been molested by these burly creatures, and well they have kept their distance for we have had our gun greased and borrowed our neighbor's dog. There are still great numbers of them across the river, and we intend going over in a few days 'to make our winter's meat.'"
   Our editor was a clever punster and profusely illustrated his fanciful game stories by resorting to that artful trick. On the same date he tells us of the abundance of other game in this phrase:

   Last week, upon two occasions, from office, we witnessed the playful pranks of several antelope, and again a sprightly red fox came up near the enclosure, but cut and run when Towzer came in sight; a nice race they had and both made time but reynard the best. A week ago three large white wolves hove in sight, and played around on the prairie at a safe distance -- the same chaps, probably, that made a tender meal from a good-sized calf of ours that had been running out. The buffalo have taken our caution and for two weeks have not troubled us, or annoyed our printer, putting a "period" to the sports of the "chase" in this "section" which has no "parallel" for game, giving our "shooting-stick" a little rest and saving our "lead" and "caps" for the next "case."

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