side from Pacific Junctions to the river, where a ferry boat took cars across. Only a few freight and box cars were ferried over. These were drawn by mules and horses for several miles out, where men were at work on the road and used them for bunks. Some time afterwards I saw the first locomotive of the Burlington road ferried across. It slowly climbed up the hill north of Plattsmouth. When it got to a safe place, it whistled long and loud for victory to conquer the great West. It was only a working locomotive. Soon the road was finished in Lincoln around the state university. From this beginning what great strides the road has made in the great West!
Henry M. Stanley was a poor orphan boy in New Orleans, where he was a newspaper carrier. When he grew to manhood he became a newspaper correspondent, and, in pursuit of his vocation, came to Omaha, where the trouble and fight happened. He was sent out by the New York Herald as European war correspondent. Afterward, Mr. Bennett, editor of the Herald, sent him to Africa to find Dr. David Livingston, the great explorer. So this great and honored Stanley was connected with a small affair in Omaha long before he finally achieved his laurels.
This James Bonner is the same man who deeded the ten acres of land to the state for the site of the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. He did not donate the site. Others, including Kountze brothers, reimbursed him with money and a tract of land in Illinois. I knew him, personally, as he went out with me and the board of directors to view the land he offered. Dr. Monell and Mr. Kuhns, the local committee of our board, owned tracts of land east and west of this Bonner tract; so they induced the board to locate the institute there for the bene-
fit of their own tracts--so prices would go up on account of the location of the state institution.
I witnessed the trial, under impeachment, of Governor David Butler for misusing the public school funds. He was born and raised near Bloomington, my old home in Indiana, site of the state university. I believe he passed through this college and studied law, before he came to Nebraska.
Lincoln, at that time, was a small village, without any large houses, or any large business buildings. The state house was far out in the edge of the town. It was a large square building two stories high built of rough stone, without a cupola or rotunda on top or porches. Upstairs the Senate met on one side and the House of Representatives met on the other side. It did not have any proper committee rooms or rooms for the clerks. Downstairs were four large rooms for the other state officers. All was very plainly furnished inside. The first state assembly seemed to be full of life, enthusiasm, jollity and earnest in their work.
The town of Lincoln did not extend more than half a mile through from one side to the other. It had no railroads, no depots, no public buildings except the state house. Old fashioned stages and wagons were used for conveyances. When the first state assembly adjourned the members had to go in stages and common farm wagons to the Union Pacific road on the north, and to Nebraska City on the east. I went with some of them east, and our stage broke down half way in the rain and mud, so we all had to stop at a farmhouse for the night. It was funny to see about twelve or more of the august members of the legislature with myself huddled all around on the kitchen floor while the man and family climbed up a ladder to the loft. We had a fine breakfast
and paid the man well for our entertainment. Soon another stage came along and we all went on our way rejoicing. All the surrounding country around Lincoln was a vast prairie with here and there small farm houses far apart. Far out west on Salt Creek were some plain sheds where they were evaporating salt, but all else was prairie without any buildings in sight. Lincoln was simply a small village with about five hundred inhabitants. Our hotel seemed to be the largest building with good accommodations. It was afterwards burnt down, and on its site and ashes rose the State Journal office. It had no salt well, as it has now, and there were a few stores along one or two of the streets and their goods and groceries had to be transported in carts and wagons from Nebraska City and Omaha. But now you see how the city hag grown up from this small beginning with plenty of railroad communication.
I went along the Union Pacific road to North Platte, and all along the way I saw sheds and shanties used as stations and residences. All seemed to be so shabby and dirty with seeming dirty men and women going about in their working clothes; but behind them were brains and muscle in the leaders who helped to make the state what it is today. I saw some people living in dugouts, and their poor horses and a few cattle huddled in poor sheds of poles covered with wild hay and grass; but now some of them, or their children, have fine farms, fine houses, fine horses, fine cattle and are rich, taxpayers.
I did not see the Indian chief Fontennelle myself, but I saw his cabin far up on the bluffs among the trees, where he used to live, several miles north of Bellevue. I believe you have his history. He used to wield some influence among the Indians, including the Omaha and some others on both sides of the river, and he was a
great rival to the Sioux chiefs in northern Iowa and the Dakotas.
A letter from Mr. David Anderson expressed regret that be was unable to be present and the paper which he had prepared on Early Settlement of the Platte Valley was read by Mrs. Minnie P. Knotts.1
Mr. Bassett then related the following incident of a wedding journey across the Platte river in 1869:
Mr. Samuel Stearly, a resident of Buffalo county in 1869, furnishes the following interesting account of the fording of the Platte River by a wedding party.
In the summer of 1869, John Martin and Miss Craig, who lived on the Blue River, southeast of Grand Island, wanted to get married, and in order to do so had to come to the Fort Kearny crossing of the Platte river and then go east to Wood River Center, where Judge Patrick Walsh, who had authority to perform the marriage ceremony, resided. The distance to travel was about seventy-five miles, and the Platte river was very high at that time. Charles Walker, who lived at Fort Kearny station, now Buda, had the contract to freight all government supplies for Fort Kearny across the river, and at this time he was hauling material to fence the government graveyard near the fort. The wedding party arranged with Mr. Walker to take them across the Platte, and at about four o'clock in the evening John Martin, his intended wife, her mother, Mrs. Craig, and an eighteen months old child belonging to Mrs. Craig, came to the river to cross. It was our last trip for that day. I was with the freight outfit, and my business was to keep the oxen on the lead of the team from swinging around the
1 Mr. Anderson's paper is printed in Collections of the Nebraska State Historical society, volume XVI page 193.
islands, or towheads as we called them. The water was warm, and I enjoyed the fun and excitement of fording. In order to bring Martin and his party across, it was necessary to put on a wagon box and crib up the box with fence pickets to set their trunk and a roll of blankets on, so they would not get wet. The party also had with them two prairie dogs, in a box, also a box of medicine; and these two boxes were put in my charge. There were ten yoke of oxen hitched to the wagon and two horseback riders, one on each side of the ox teams. The wedding party was all set, the bull whip cracked and the procession started. I was sitting on the side of the wagon box, with my feet inside, and holding the prairie dogs and medicine boxes in my lap. We went nicely for a fourth of a mile, till we came to the deep channel; then the water went over the wagon box. Our load being light and the current so strong, it turned wagon, box and all upside down and the passengers all into the water. When I came up, I saw Martin catch his girl and pull for a wagon wheel; next I saw Mrs. Craig come up with her child in her arms and the mother struggling for dear life. It fell to me to save her, and I held her until Martin could come and get her. The other two men were too busy taking care of the oxen to hold them. The trunk and blankets went down the river and one of the bullwhackers and myself were detailed to go after them. I want to tell you there was lively work for a while. When we got back with the trunk and blankets to the north bank of the river, the wedding party had all got ashore, and Mrs. Craig was sitting on the bank enjoying a good smoke out of a borrowed pipe. She thanked me very kindly for saving her as she was going under the second time when I caught her. This delayed the wedding, as everything in the trunk and blankets got wet; and as the old lady's
tobacco was wrapped up in the wedding dress, the dress was so stained it could not be used. Stores were not plenty in those days, and the party had to go to Grand Island, twenty-five miles east of Wood River Center, to buy another dress and make it. Some days later Patrick Walsh, justice of the peace, married the happy couple, and they went on their way rejoicing. About three or four years after, I met Mrs. Craig in Grand Island. She called her little boy in off the street and introduced him to me and then told her son that I was the young man who had saved his and her life. She then said the only way she could pay me was to give me her last daughter, then about my age and a very beautiful girl.
CHAIRMAN HARVEY. I understand that Mr. John K. Sheen, who has prepared a paper, is now present and we will hear from Mr. Sheen if he will come forward. His paper is "The Rural Carrier of 1849."
MR. SHEEN. I am much interested in this subject of carrying the mail, having served the government for a number of years. I wish to state before taking up my paper that I saw a record of the pioneers crossing the state of Nebraska, in Wyoming a number of years ago, and was attracted by a statement of the writer that when he got to a place he called Beaver Valley, which I presume was somewhere near Grand Island, he began to see buffaloes. One day he said he counted 10,000, and another day he counted 100,000; so you see this must have been a delightful country out here, and there must have been acres and acres of grass for those cattle to feed upon. As this traveler went further along he found the grass burned off by Indians, which probably accounts for the number of herds moving to the southeast.
With reference to the title of my paper I might re-
mark that in 1849 there was nothing much metropolitan about Nebraska. Consequently it was rural, especially in the early part of the season. Later on it became quite cosmopolitan.
It is impossible to give the history of any western state without touching upon the history of that peculiar sect that is best known as Mormons.
In the later twenties of the nineteenth century, the forces were moving that were to leave a beaten trail behind from the state of New York to the Golden Gate. To give you the biography of our rural carrier it is necessary for me to take you back to the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, where he was born in 1813, and follow him to the templed hills of Kirtland, Ohio, where in 1831 the advance forces of the saints gathered him into their ranks; and a little later he goes along with them up to Missouri to redeem Zion. In 1843 he is at the "stake" of Zion, called Nauvoo, and beholds another temple dazzling with its whiteness the Father of Waters swiftly flowing by. Troubles arise for the saints on every hand. Their neighbors and discontented brethren are in arms against them, and the tragedy of Carthage is about to be enacted when our rural carrier, with a few others good and true, bid the last adieu. Then it was two brothers were laid as the poetess has sung,
Close where the mighty waters glide."
And then came the "exodus," and the
Moses man, forgetting to smite the waters with his staff,
sought out ferry boats and landed his advance battalions at
Sugar Creek, Iowa, to be fed upon winged manna, in the form
of quails. Then came Old Zero and cast a highway over the
deep rushing river, and hundreds of others crossed, over to
join their brethren encamped in Iowa. Your nar-
rator, then a babe, crossed over in our rural carrier's carriage, headed for Booneville, Missouri. The rural carrier returned later as a commissioner to dispose of the property that had not been disposed of by the refugees in Nauvoo. In the early spring and summer of 1846, the Mormon Moses, with his battalions, crossed Iowa and went into winter quarters in Pottawattamie county and at Florence, Nebraska, while small parties advanced and made camps north of the Platte as far as the Grand Island. Early in April, 1847, 143 pioneers crossed the states of Nebraska and Wyoming and entered the valley of the Great Salt Lake. The trail had been beaten over which, for several years following, thousands were to come singing in chorus
Where from the mountains wine doth flow,
A land of peace and liberty,
To California go with me."
Caesar, Napoleon and Grant planned
great campaigns, but none in greatness and grandeur like
that an all- wise providence had laid out for the conquest
of the West. The Mormon movement, the conquest of New Mexico
by General Kearny, the conquest of Upper California by
Fremont and Stockton and the discovery of gold unveil a well
planned campaign far greater in results than any campaign
planned by the gods of war I have mentioned. Upper
California declared itself an independent state, and sought
admission into the Union, and that portion of Mexico now
known as Utah resolved itself into a state and from the salt
vale and the banks of the western Jordan an anthem
Refuge for the good and great
Noblest honors await thee
State of Deseret."
Our rural carrier had been to Washington and had a post office established at Kanesville, later Council Bluffs, Iowa, and had secured the contract for carrying the mail from that place to Salt Lake City six times a year. He is at that place in the spring of 1849 and is commissioned delegate to Congress for the purpose of urging the admission of Deseret as a state in the Union. His mission is defeated by the Congress, and a territory is made of Utah and Dr. Bernheisel is made delegate of that territory. Almon Whiting Babbitt later establishes the Council Bluffs Bugle, and is said to have crossed the plains twenty-nine times. Joe Johnson, who edited the Omaha Arrow, was Almon Babbitt's brother-in-law, and Mr. Babbitt was a brother of the writer's mother. In 1856 his duties as secretary of Utah called him to Washington, and, while returning to Utah, on September 6 of that year he was attacked, it is said by twelve Indians, near Ash Creek (sometimes called Ash Hollow) and while making a gallant fight for his life was struck from behind and killed. Most men are allotted six feet of earth in the end, but the maws of wolves was his burial place.1
1Thomas Twiss, agent of the Upper Platte Indian Agency, says, in an official report, that a party of thirteen Cheyenne Indians attacked Babbitt and two companions near O'Fallon's Bluff, killing all of them. O'Fallon's Bluff is situated on the south side of the South Platte River, about one mile west of O'Fallon's station, on the Union Pacific railroad, which is sixteen miles west of the city of North Platte. In 1856 the bluff was close to the river, and the Oregon trail ran over it. Babbitt established the Bugle in 1850, and Joseph E. Johnson bought it from him in 1852.
The first contract for mail service authorized by the post office department, from the Missouri River, or any point east of the Rocky Mountains, to Salt Lake City, was based on the contract made with Samuel H. Woodson in 1850, and he followed the Oregon and California road from Independence, Missouri. The first route north of this
This ended the regular program and the session was concluded with a business meeting of the Nebraska Territorial Pioneers association.
was established by an act of Congress March 3, 1851, "From Bloomfield, Davis county, via . . . Page and Fremont counties to Fort Kearney." The first service on the Council Bluffs and Omaha route was established by act of Congress, August 31, 1852, "From Council Bluffs, on the Missouri River, to Fort Laramie." (United States Statutes at Large, volume X, page 136.) The name Council Bluffs then applied to the post office at the Council Bluffs sub-agency, on the Iowa side of the river, nearly opposite Bellevue. This name was not applied to the place now called by it until the tenth of December of the same year, when it superseded "Kane," not Kanesville. At the same time, the post office at the sub-agency became Traders Point. The first mail service from Council Bluffs to Salt Lake City was established by an act of Congress August 3, 1854--"From Salt Lake City, by Fort Laramie, to Council Bluffs, in Iowa." (Ibid., page 546.) The Woodson contract, which was in force from 1850 to 1854, called for a monthly service. Available records fail to disclose any service at all from Council Bluffs to Salt Lake City until 1854.
In the year 1849 the Mormons of the territory which was within the sphere of influence of Salt Lake City undertook to form a government called the State of Deseret, and in a memorial to Congress they asked for its admission into the Union; or, as an alternative, that the petitioners should be granted "such other form of government" as the "wisdom and magnanimity" of Congress "may award to the people of Deseret." Anticipating that the government would be of the usual territorial form, on the fifth of July Almon W. Babbitt was elected a delegate to Congress at a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives of the proposed state, and the memorial asked that he be admitted to a seat. After a long controversy, on the eighteenth of September, 1850, the House of Representatives refused to admit Babbitt. In the meantime, September 9, Congress had established a territorial government for the territory of Utah, and John M. Bernhelsel was elected delegate August 4, 1851, and took his seat at the opening of the first session of the thirty-second Congress, which began December 1, 1851. (Cong. Globe, first session thirty-second Congress, page 353.) The House of Representatives allowed Babbitt five dollars per diem from the opening of the session until the day that his claim to a seat was denied, and $2,000 mileage. There was strong opposition to this allowance; but appropriations of public money in this way are commonly prodigal and often profligate. (Con. Globe, first session thirty-first Congress, page 1949; United States Statutes at large, volume IX, page 468.)--ED.
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