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painter, who gave his life to the task of preserving the faces, the costumes, the scenes, of primitive America, whose books and paintings will always be classic upon the subjects treated. Catlin came up the Missouri river in 1832 upon the "Yellowstone" and wintered with the Mandan Indians in North Dakota. Coming down the Missouri the next year he stopped with all the Nebraska tribes, painting representative chiefs, gathering Indian handiwork and notes upon Indian life. At Blackbird's grave near Decatur he painted the landscape and for pay carried away Blackbird's skull to Washington. At Bellevue he stopped with Indian Agent Daugherty and preserved for us the picture of Bellevue at that day, besides many other persons and scenes. In 1833 Maximilian, Prince of Wied, a German nobleman with a passion for science and travel, came up on the annual steamboat. He had a party of friends, among them an artist named Bodmer, who preserved many scenes which Catlin's brush had missed. On his return to Germany Maximilian published the story of his travels in a book of great beauty and value.

      The third traveler was John C. Fremont whose expeditions under authority of the United States government made him a candidate for the presidency and a part of western history. On his first expedition Fremont left the mouth of the Kansas river June 10, 1842, with a party of twenty-eight men, with eight two-mule carts and horses to mount the party. Kit Carson, the famous scout, was guide. The route was the now familiar one of the Oregon trail to Fort Laramie. There is now living on the Sioux reservation at Kyle, South Dakota, one of the earliest of the Canadian fur traders who came to Nebraska, Mr. J. T. McClsukey (sic), who

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Peter A. Sarpy

remembers seeing Fremont and Kit Carson come to the post. After reaching the Wind river mountains and gathering scientific and engineering data Fremont returned by way of the Pawnee villages on the Loup and the site of the Nebraska city which now bears his name, reaching Bellevue post, now in charge of Peter A. Sarpy on October 1 of the same year. The second Fremont expedition left the mouth of the Kansas river May 29th, 1843, and followed that stream to the forks where the Republican and Smoky Hill unite. Here the route was up the Republican, crossing into Nebraska June 25th and still up the Republican as far as Prairie Dog Creek in Harlan county, where the command turned north over the divide to the South Platte, up that stream to the mountains and finally to the Pacific.

     A parting glance at Nebraska in the forties of the last century--just before the train of events started that was to make her name the one oftenest in the nation's mouth: Bellevue is the principal white settlement within the state,--a cluster of log houses between the bluff and the river mostly occupied by "amalgamated" families--the whole ruled over by



"Peter A. Sarpy, Sir," as he familiarly styled himself, a boisterous, rude, profane frontiersman, yet with many kind qualities beneath a rough exterior. Above this on the river are some of the trading posts already named, each with its little group of frontier characters as the nucleus of an Indian constituency. On the Loups at the Pawnee villages the brave little missionary band headed by Dunbar and Allis struggling in the savage darkness that surrounds them. Far out at the other end of the state,--in fact just over the line of the present Nebraska,--is another and larger nucleus of border civilization,--Fort Laramie, with its adjacent and rival posts,--Fort Platte, Fort John, Fort William, and other temporary stations not designated by name. None of these are United States "forts" as yet, merely fur trade fortifications,--the chief ones always those of the American Fur Company, of which Pierre Chouteau, of St. Louis, is now the ruling genius. This fur trade around Fort Laramie is the big thing of the plains,--the magnet which draws Indians and white men from the most distant mountains and the far southern plains. Many of the men who took part in it are living and can tell tales that move the blood. At first the goods for this trade were brought up to Pierre on steamers and thence on horse-back through the Bad Lands to the Platte. When the Oregon Trail became a fixed thing this was changed and caravans from the mouth of the Kansas river carried the immense fur trade that was soon built up here. Between these two nuclei,--Bellevue and Fort Laramie,--were the plains that Major Long had pronounced "wholly unfit for cultivation" and "calculated to serve as a barrier to prevent too great an extension of our population westward," threaded by buffalo paths and the Overland Trail, battle ground for hostile Indians bent on-self-extermination.
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U. S. Indian Office.--Santee Indian Agency, August, 1894

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