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The Indians of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, with a few exceptions, were on the British side. The great Indian leader, Tecumseh, was sending the war belt to all the nations to join and drive the hated Americans from the land. British traders were supplementing his efforts with presents of powder, guns and liquor. The loways took up the tomahawk against the United States. The influence of Lisa, exerted from his trading fort on Nebraska soil, was strong enough to hold all the Missouri river Indians firmly in alliance with the American people. The Nebraska Indians not only kept peace with the United States but sent war parties against the Ioways. At this time the Missouri River Indians were four times as numerous as those of the upper Mississippi. If they had joined the great Tecumseh alliance against the United States and swept down under British commanders upon St. Louis and the scattered settlements in the Mississippi valley the story of the war of 1812
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Site of Old Fort Lisa

might have made far worse reading to American eyes than it now does. The records of the United States at Washington recognize Lisa's great service to the government at this trying time and we have the statement over his own signature that when the war ended in 1815 he had an agreement with forty-three chiefs in this region to start an expedition of several thousand warriors against the British Indians on the Mississippi. As it was he took them all down the river with him to St. Louis the spring of that year.

     Lisa not only made Nebraska the seat of western diplomacy and war, but introduced improved agriculture. In a letter written at St. Louis July 1st, 1817, he resigned his government position of sub-agent for Indian tribes above the Kansas river with a salary of $548 per annum, saying among other things: "I carried among them (the Indians) the seed of the large pompion (pumpkin) from which I have seen in their possession the fruit weigh-



ing 160 pounds. Also the large bean, the potato, the turnip, and these vegetables now make a comfortable part of their subsistence, and this year I have promised to carry them the plow."

     With a white wife in St. Louis, Lisa married a young Omaha woman and had by her two children. His white wife died and a year or two later he married another white woman and brought her to Fort Lisa to spend the honeymoon. She was, beyond doubt, the first white woman in Nebraska. He gave rich presents to his Omaha wife to avoid trouble and left each of his half-breed children two thousand dollars to give them an education. He died at St. Louis in 1820. The site of Fort Lisa was visited by the writer in August, 1904, and the picture is from a photograph taken there.

     Besides Lisa among the early builders of trading posts in Nebraska were Robert McLellan and Ramsey Crooks who had an establishment near the mouth of Papillion creek in 1810. Bellevue, only a short distance from this early trading post, is conceded to be the oldest town in Nebraska, but the exact date of

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Bellevue, Nebraska in 1865

its foundation is yet to be determined. The year has been variously given from 1805 to 1811. The first unquestioned original reports we have of Bellevue date from 1821 when the Missouri Fur company had a post there in charge of Joshua Pilcher. From that time, at least, until the present day there has always been a white settlement there.

     In the spring of 1811 came to Nebraska shores the expedition of Wilson P. Hunt with seventy men on their way to Astoria, Oregon. Along With the expedition came John Bradbury and Thomas Nuttall, two English scientists. Their coming marks an epoch in the history of our state--the time when its plants and animals were first named and compared with those of other parts of the world. The Hunt expedition reached Oregon after severe hardships. The next year four men,--Robert Steuart, Ramsey Crooks, Joseph Miller and Robert McLellan,--started on the return trip from Oregon to St. Louis. After long wanderings in the mountains they reached the North Platte river late in December, 1812, followed it down past its wild canon into the present Nebraska and went into winter



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Site of Old Fort Atkinson

quarters in a bend of the river a few miles above Scott's Bluff. They were the first known white explorers of northwestern Nebraska. March 8, 1813, they broke camp and followed the Platte to the Otoe village near Ashland where they traded an old horse they had brought across the mountains for a canoe and went down the Missouri. Their story is told in Washington Irving's Astoria and is filled with startling adventures.

      The founding of Bellevue and its contemporary stations mark the first period in Nebraska's permanent settlement--the fur-trading period. The second period--the military and steam engine period--begins in 1819. The fur traders continue, but are no longer the controlling force. The army and a little later the United States Indian agent come in as the ruling powers. The first steamboat to navigate Nebraska waters--the 'Western Engineer--arrived at Fort Lisa September 19, 1819. She was a steamer built at Pittsburg Pennsylvania, expressly for the use of the United States government, was a stern wheeler, seventy-five feet long, thirteen feet beam and drew 19 inches of water. The boat carried Major Stephen H. Long with a party of engineers, scientists and soldiers designed to explore the region between the Missouri and the Rocky mountains. The expedition built log houses under the shelter of the bluff about half a mile above Fort Lisa and made winter quarters there. During the winter councils were held with the Otoe, Omaha, Pawnee and Sioux Indians who came there. June 6, 1820, the party, numbering twenty-three men, left the Missouri and proceeded up the north bank of the Platte, halting at the Grand Pawnee village on the Loup. The Wood river valley was followed for some miles. June 22 they reached the forks of the Platte, crossed the North Platte and on the 23d the South Platte, which they ascended to the mountains. The party returned by way of the Arkansas. This expedition discovered and named some hundreds of plants, animals and fossils. The name of Thomas Say, botanist and zoologist, is forever linked in scientific history with these discoveries, many of which he had the honor of naming. The judgment of the expedition upon the value of the country is summed up in one sentence which asserts that the "plains on either side of the Platte river have an elevation of fifty to one hundred feet and present the aspect of hopeless and irreclaimable sterility."

     Ten days after the arrival of the Western Engineer at Fort Lisa with Major Long's party came Colonel Henry Atkinson with the Sixth regiment United States infantry in keel boats. This force was ordered to Council

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@ 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller