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Earliest Known Traders on Arkansas River

With the help of contemporary records it is possible to identify some of the early traders at the Mouth of the Verdigris. Even before the Louisiana Purchase, hardy French adventurers ascended the Arkansas in their little boats, hunting, trapping, and trading with the Indians, and recorded their presence if not their identity in the nomenclature of the adjacent country and streams, now sadly corrupted by their English-speaking successors.1 French Influence in Arkansas One of the first of the French traders up the Arkansas whose name has been recorded was Joseph Bogy, an early resident of the old French town, Arkansas Post, from which point he traded with the Osage Indians in the vicinity of the Three Forks. On one of his expeditions he had ascended the Arkansas with a boatload of merchandise, to trade to the Osage near the mouth of the Verdigris. There on the seventh of January, 1807, he was attacked and robbed of all his goods by a large band of Choctaw Indians under the famous chief, Pushmataha.2 When charged with the offense, Pushmataha admitted it and justified the robbery on the ground that they were at war with the Osage, against whom they were proceeding at the time; and that as Bogy was trading with their enemies, he was a proper subject for reprisal. Bogy laid a claim before the Government for nine thousand dollars damages against the Choctaw, based on the protection guaranteed by his trader’s license. This claim was pending until after 1835, before it was allowed. Among the interesting papers in connection with the claim, is Bogy’s report of having met on...

Expeditions of Fowler and James to Santa Fe, 1821

When Pike returned from his western expedition and related his experiences in Santa Fe and other places among the Spaniards, his accounts excited great interest in the east, which resulted in further exploits. In 1812, an expedition was undertaken1 by Robert McKnight, James Baird, Samuel Chambers, Peter Baum, Benjamin Shrive, Alfred Allen, Michael McDonald, William Mines, and Thomas Cook, all citizens of Missouri Territory; they were arrested by the Spaniards, charged with being in Spanish territory without a passport, and thrown into the calabazos of Chihuahua, where they were kept for nine years. In 1821, two of them escaped, and coming down Canadian and Arkansas rivers met Hugh Glenn, owner of a trading house at the mouth of the Verdigris, and told him of the wonders of Santa Fe. Inspired by the accounts of these travelers, Glenn engaged in an enterprise with Major Jacob Fowler and Captain Pryor for an expedition from the Verdigris to Santa Fe.2 The members of the McKnight party who had escaped from the Spaniards, continued their journey to Saint Louis, where they repeated their romantic tale to John McKnight, a brother of Robert McKnight who was still a prisoner with the Spaniards, and to others. As a result of their account, McKnight and General Thomas James organized an expedition to go from Saint Louis to Santa Fe. James’s purpose was to trade with the Indians, and John McKnight went to see his brother and procure his release, if possible. The two expeditions got under way the same summer, and both went by way of the Arkansas as high as the Verdigris, which at that...

William Cody – “Buffalo Bill” His Life and Adventures – Indian Wars

One of the best known, and since the death of the renowned Kit Carson, probably the most reliable guide on the Western frontier, is William Cody, otherwise known as “Buffalo Bill.” His exploits have been the theme of a dozen novelists, and in the year just past (1870-72) his movements have been as accurately and frequently chronicled by the daily press throughout the country as they would have been had he been an official magnate of the highest degree. There is something especially attractive in the romance attending the career of one of these noted hunters, which never palls upon the reader. The picturesque surroundings, the distance from us of their scene of action, the wild, nomadic life of the frontiersmen, all have their charms. Of all the hunters now in the service of the United States, either on the Atlantic or Pacific Slope, or to the southward, Buffalo Bill has attained the most permanent celebrity. Of his boyhood but little is known, save that he was of Western birth and that his parents were of the humble class and were much respected in the sparsely settled district where “William” was born, and where for many years they resided. When quite young like Carson he imbibed a fondness for the life of adventure, which the profession of a hunter and trapper opened out, and finally he started out on his “own hook,” rifle in hand, to seek his own livelihood. For a few years nothing of importance marked his career. He, of course, underwent the usual perils and dangers which beset those who day after day permeate the trackless...

Indian Hostilities in California and New Mexico – Indian Wars

The Indian tribes of California are in a degraded and miserable condition. The most numerous are the Shoshonee, the Blackfeet, and the Crows. Many of them have been brought to a half civilized state, and are employed at the different ranches. But those in the neighborhood of the Sierra Nevada are untamable, treacherous, and ferocious. They wander about, for the most part going entirely naked, and subsisting upon roots, acorns, and pine cones. Since the discovery of the gold, they have acquired some knowledge of its usefulness, but no clear conception of its value, and they part with their gatherings for whatever strikes their fancy, without much hesitation in bargaining with dealers. They are generally of medium stature, dark skin and hair, (which grow low down over their foreheads,) with ugly countenances, devoid of any intellectual expression, and are immeasurably inferior to the Indians east of the Rocky Mountains, and those of the Atlantic States. Soon after the discovery of the placers, the Indians displayed their hostility by attacking straggling miners, and, growing bolder, committed serious depredations in the neighborhood of the mines furthest advanced towards the Sierra Nevada; at length, the murder of a number of Oregonians led to a destructive warfare between the whites and Indians. It happened that six men of a clan were out “prospecting,” (exploring,) on the Middle Fork, and when they had penetrated a deep canon, (gulf,) a party of some forty Indians attacked them from the heights above. Unsuspicious of an ambuscade, the explorers had left their arms at some distance, and a flight of arrows among them was the first intimation...

Sand Creek Massacre

On the night of November 28, 1864, about seven hundred and fifty men, cavalry and artillery, were marching eastward across the plains below Fort Lyon. There was a bitter, determined look on their hard-set features that betokened ill for some one. For five days they had been marching, from Bijou Basin, about one hundred and fifty miles to the northwest, as the crow flies, but some fifty miles farther by their route. When they started the snow was two to three feet deep on the ground, but, as they progressed, it had become lighter, and now the ground was clear. The night was bitter cold; Jim Beckwith, the old trapper who had been guiding them, had become so stiffened that he was unable longer to distinguish the course, and they were obliged to rely on a half-breed Indian. About one third of the men had the appearance of soldiers who had seen service; the remainder had a diversity of arms and equipments as well as of uniforms, and marched with the air of raw recruits. About half a mile in advance were three men, the half-breed guide and two officers, one of the hitter of such gigantic proportions that the others seemed pygmies beside him. Near daybreak the half-breed turned to the white men and said: “Wolf he howl. Injun dog he hear wolf, he howl too. Injun he hear dog and listen; hear something, and run off.” The big man tapped the butt of his revolver in an ominous way, and replied: “Jack, I haven’t had an Indian to eat for a long time. If you fool with...

Desire to Punish the Cheyenne Indians

It is equally certain that the desire of punishing these Indians was increased, with loyal people, by the belief that their hostility was produced by Southern emissaries. How far their hostility was so produced will never be definitely known, but there was reason for the belief, without doubt. Soon after the beginning of the war the insurgents had occupied Indian Territory and enrolled many Indians in Confederate regiments. The loyal Indians tried to resist, but, after two or three engagements, about seven thousand of them were driven into Kansas. From the men among them three regiments were organized, and the women and children were subsisted out of the annuities of the hostiles. In the latter part of 1862, John Ross, head chief of the Cherokees, announced officially that the Cherokee nation had treated with the Confederate States, and, as is well known, there were several regiments of Indians in the regular Confederate service, besides numbers in irregular relations, among whom were Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Osages, Seminoles, Senecas, Shawnees, Quapaws, Comanches, Wachitas, Kiowas, and Pottawattamies, and none of them regained friendly relations with the United States until the treaty of September 21, 1865. On the south of Colorado the Comanches and Kiowas were at war, with Southern sympathies. The Mescaleros had taken the warpath on the advance of the Texans. To the north it was the same. The Sioux troubles all originated in Minnesota, and concerning them our Consul general in Canada, Mr. Giddings, wrote at the time: “There is little doubt that the recent outbreak in the Northwest has resulted from the efforts of secession agents operating through...

Were the Cheyenne Responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre?

But were the Cheyennes responsible for all this? Quite as much so as any of the tribes. They began stealing stock early in the spring, and, on April 13, a herdsman for Irving, Jackmann, & Co. reported that the Cheyennes and Arapahoes had run off sixty head of oxen and a dozen mules and horses from their camp, thirty miles south of Denver. Lieutenant Clark Dunn was sent after them with a small party of soldiers. He overtook them as they were crossing the Platte, during a heavy snowstorm. A parley was commenced, but was interrupted by part of the Indians running off the stock, and the soldiers attempting to disarm the others. A fight ensued, in which the soldiers, who were greatly outnumbered, were defeated, with a loss of four men, the Indians still holding the cattle. After this fight, there was not a word nor an act from any member of the Southern Cheyennes indicative of peace, until the 1st of September, when the Indian agent at Fort Lyon received the following: Cheyenne Village Aug 22, 1864 “Major Collet, We received a letter from Bent, wishing us to make peace. We held a council in regard to it. All come to the conclusion to make peace with you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahoes, Apaches, and Sioux. We are going to send a messenger to the Kiowas and to the other nations about our going to make peace with you. We heard that you have some [Indian prisoners] in Denver. We have seven prisoners of yours which we are willing to give up, providing...

Old Indian Trails of Pike’s Peak

The principal Indian trail into the mountains from the plains to the northeast of Pike’s Peak came in by way of the Garden Ranch, through what used to be known as Templeton’s Gap. It crossed Monument Creek about a mile above Colorado Springs, then followed up a ridge to the Mesa; then it went southwest over the Mesa and across Camp Creek, passing just south of the Garden of the Gods; from there it came down to the Fountain, about a mile west of Colorado City, and there joined another trail that came from the southeast up the east side of Fountain Creek. The latter trail followed the east side of the Fountain from the Arkansas River, and crossed Monument Creek just below the present Artificial Ice Plant in Colorado Springs, from which point it ran along the north side of the Fountain to a point just west of Colorado City, where it crossed to the south side, then up the south side of the creek to the Manitou Springs. From this place it went up Ruxton Creek for a few hundred yards, then crossed over to the west side, then up the creek to a point just below the Colorado Midland Railway bridge; thence westward up a long ravine to its head; then in the same direction near the heads of the ravines running into the Fountain and from a quarter to a half of a mile south of that creek for two miles or more. The trail finally came down to the Fountain again just below Cascade Canon and from there led up the Fountain to its...

Tribes of the Pike’s Peak Region

It would be interesting to know who were the occupants of the Pike’s Peak region during prehistoric times. Were its inhabitants always nomadic Indians? We know that semi-civilized peoples inhabited southwestern Colorado and New Mexico in prehistoric times, who undoubtedly had lived there ages before they were driven into cliff dwellings and communal houses by savage invaders. Did their frontier settlements of that period ever extend into the Pike’s Peak region? The facts concerning these matters, we may never know. As it is, the earliest definite information we have concerning the occupants of this region dates from the Spanish exploring expeditions, but even that is very meager. From this and other sources, we know that a succession of Indian tribes moved southward along the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains during the two hundred years before the coming of the white settler, and that during this period, the principal tribes occupying this region were the Ute, Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux; and, further, that there were other tribes such as the Pawnees and Jicarilla Apache, who frequently visited and hunted in this region. Jicarilla Apache Indians of Colorado The Jicarilla Apaches are of the Athapascan stock, a widely distributed linguistic family, which includes among its branches the Navajos, the Mescalaro of New Mexico, and the Apaches of Arizona. Notwithstanding the fact that they were kindred people, the Jicarilla considered the latter tribes their enemies. However, they always maintained friendly relations with the Ute, and the Pueblos of northern New Mexico, and inter-marriages between members of these tribes were of frequent occurrence. The mother of Ouray, the noted Ute...
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