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James Constock, John Gilbert & Oregon Trail Marker

Near site of stagecoach incident mentioned in page 23. Photographed by A. E. Sheldon, June 14, 1918



not follow him on horseback. He died on a sand-bar across the river. This information was given by Laura Roper who was taken prisoner at that time. As she came back with Will Eubanks' wife they saw the Indians chasing Will and they hid in a washout, but the Indians found them and took Laura Roper, Mrs. Will Eubanks, and her little girl prisoners. I helped to bury the old man Eubanks, Will Eubanks, the youngest boy and the girl. We buried the old man, the girl and the boy in one grave after they had been dead seven days. The old man Eubanks and the youngest [next to the youngest] boy had been down to Joe's place, where Joe was building his ranch, and were returning when they were killed. They had two yoke of cattle on a wagon and had got one mile west of the Comstock Ranch, or Oak Grove Ranch, where they were shot with arrows, and one of the oxen was shot in the side. The team went on up to the old man's and Will's place at the Narrows and went down in the timber southeast of there, where they ran the hind wheels straddle of a tree. They had been there seven days when we found them. We unyoked them, and they came out all right. Jim [James M.) Comstock, I think, was keeping the Little Blue stage station at that time, and I think that he went up after his family after dark, as he was at Comstock's ranch at the time that Kelley and Butler were killed; but somebody took the old man Eubanks and boy up to their place and we found them there, where we buried them.

   In response to further inquiry Mr. Gilbert wrote as follows on October 26:

   Some three or four days after the raid of August 7, I found myself, James Douglas and several more on Big Sandy Creek at Jenkins' Ranch in what is now township 3, range 3, east, Jefferson county. The news had spread to Beatrice, and all the men they could raise came up to Big Sandy, and with them was Mr. Stoner. When they got there, there were some men around Big Sandy that wanted to go up and see what was done, so we organized an independent company as we called it. They took a vote for captain, and Stoner beat me two votes; then they named me for first lieutenant. We got ready in a short time and came to the road on the Little Blue River. Sam Jones and his boy, Will Jones, were in the crowd from Beatrice. Joe Clyne, from west of old Dan Freeman's place, was in the bunch. He was sheriff of Gage county at the time, and he had a prisoner with him, as they had no jail in Gage county then. Well, we went up the Blue until we came to the upper Eubanks place. There we buried the Eubanks families. The old man was not scalped nor was the girl. I. took a close



look at the old man because his hair was white, and at the girl because the Indians would call them squaw-killers. Ed Wells,17 a preacher from Cub Creek, said in his little book that the girl was scalped.
   We went on up the stage road until we got to Pawnee Ranch, at the mouth of Pawnee Creek. There was camped Cap. Murphy's company with one small cannon. I think it shot a four-pound shell. We told them what had happened below, that the Indians had burnt part of the ranches and a train at Little Blue stage station. That was Constable's train of eighty or more wagons, several trains all together, and Comstock was elected wagon boss of them all. One mule train of twenty wagons was loaded with liquor. The Indians had spilt the most of it, but some of the men drank too much, I think, as it seemed when we got up to Liberty Farm stage station, about thirteen or fourteen miles above Little Blue station, and one mile above the Kelley ranch or Ewing ranch--that place changed names every time it changed owners--and at the foot of what we called Nine Mile Ridge. From that point the Oregon Trail, or Overland Stage road, did not touch the Little Blue River until it got about nine miles. There was another ranch that changed names as the ownership changed. I think
   17 This was not Edward Wells but his brother Charles W. Wells, author of A Frontier Life, the book to which Mr. Gilbert refers. On August 7, 1864, Mr. Wells and his brother, Richard, were at Spring Ranch, about a mile beyond Pawnee Ranch where they spent the night for better protection. The Indians unsuccessfully besieged Pawnee Ranch the next day. It does not appear that Mr. Wells ever lived at Cub Creek. He tells a story of the Little Blue massacre in his book, chapters IV and V. The Omaha Nebraskian, of August 17, 1864, contains a letter from Lieutenant Charles F. Porter, of the Second Nebraska Volunteer Cavalry, dated Fort Kearny, August 14, in which he gives information obtained from the Overland coach bound west from Atchison which supports the statement of Mr. Wells. About four miles west [east] of Oak Grove bodies of two young men were found dead and stripped of all clothing. Next, two hundred feet away from "Hubanks" ranch, was the body of a young woman, stripped of clothIng, scalped and horribly abused and then mutilated. She appeared to be about seventeen years old. The body of Mr. "Hubank" (William) lay on the opposite bank of the river. Mr. Wells says that the youngest Eubanks boy was fatally wounded at the house when his brother, William, was killed. These two, their father and the boy with him, according to Wells twelve years old, and the girl whose death is described by Gilbert, probably comprise the five who were buried by the detail of soldiers according to the statement to Mr. Weston, page 16. Gilbert evidently omitted the youngest boy.--ED.



the last name was Milegan and Mudge ranch [Buffalo]. When we got to Liberty Farm station the house had been burnt, but the barn was not. It was raining, so we all got in the barn that could. There Joe Clyne, the sheriff from Gage county, and our captain had some trouble. Stoner could not bluff Clyne; so after that Stoner would not give orders. He was so embarrassed that the first chance he got he told me to give the orders. So after that time he looked to me to control the men. Stoner was all right but embarrassed. So that is all I know about Cap. Stoner.
   So it was about dark when we got to Pawnee ranch and met Cap. Murphy. We started down the next morning and got to Little Blue station and camped. It was not burnt.
   Murphy's men and some of our men commenced to drink too much. The sheriff of Gage got into trouble again, and Constable, the wagon boss, and Sam Jones. from Beatrice, got in trouble, and Cap. Murphy asked me if I could control the men. I went to Sam Jones and Constable--they were sitting on an oxyoke--told Sam Jones to get up and go away. He did so. Constable turned around and said, "Who are you?" He knew well who I was, as we had some trouble when the Indians chased us back to his train which was about the place that Theodore Ulig was killed. We were on the coach--but that is another story. Bob Emery was driver. So Cap. Murphy had the liquor all spilled. The next morning Cap. Murphy said he wanted us to all go with him two days--one day south, then up the Republican River one day, then he would go back to Kearny, and we would go back home; and he asked all that were in favor to step two steps forward. I stepped two steps, so did the most of the men; as I did not think we would see any Indians because I thought the raid was over. Murphy had about sixty men, and we had as many; but we gave six or eight of the Beatrice privates leave to go back. We started south from the stage station. As I was well acquainted going south, I acted as guide. Constable was along with us, as the Indians had driven all the cattle he had away when they burnt the train. When we got four or five miles some of the men said they saw buffaloes or Indians. They could not tell because it was foggy. The men from Beatrice had a tiny spy glass, but they had deserted us and took the glass with them. So Cap. Murphy told me to pick two men from our men and send them to see. So I picked Joe Clyne and another man--I think it was Constable, the wagon boss. We were about three-quarters of a mile west from Elk Creek. It was so foggy they could not tell whether it was buffaloes or Indians, so they reported. Cap. Murphy said send two more men, that made four men--not to come back until they found out what it was, and we waited



until they came back. So they went to the creek and all stopped but Joe Clyne. He found a place to cross and went east. He could see something but could not tell what until he saw Indians running both sides of him trying to cut him off from getting back. He gave them a chase, threw away or lost his gun and lost his hat. The first we saw he was coming back, his horse, which was black, all white with sweat. So I told Cap. Murphy that he could not cross the creek there, as he had the cannon and two wagons, and we had a wagon. I took him to where the old Fort Riley wagon road crossed Elk Creek in going to Kearny. The bridge was gone, but the creek was dry there. That was three or four miles down the creek from Nelson, in Nuckolls county. We went up there and crossed the creek but had not gone far before we saw plenty of Indians. Cap. Murphy was afraid our men would not stand, so he kept all of his men in a bunch and started us independents out in a skirmish line, two in a place, about fifty steps apart. The main body of the Indians started back towards the Republican River. There were two or three hundred of them in the skirmish line. The most of them had guns but not as good as ours. There was one boy with Murphy not over sixteen or eighteen. He said he did not belong to Murphy's company. He was with me, and Constable came over where the boy and I were and said he was going with me. So there were three of us in that bunch. We had not been out long before Cap. Murphy shot the cannon loaded with shell. He elevated it too much, So they said, and broke the timber, so could not shoot any more. When the shell whistled over our heads it made an awful noise. We followed them in that shape until we could see the Republican River. The only thing that saved us was shooting the cannon, and there were ten companies of Kansas militia coming up the road from Marshall, Kansas, and we did not know they were coming; but the Indians knew it as their scouts had seen them. We kept after them until we lost one man. It was Constable, the wagon boss. I and Constable and the boy got somewhat too far west, as we were after the biggest crowd. The skirmishers of the Indians halted, so we halted. I noticed that some of them started on both side's of us, to cut us off from the balance of our crowd, and spoke about it to Constable and the boy. I told them I would not stay longer, so I started back as fast as I could, but Constable stayed to get a few more shots. The boy followed me. I was looking for the balance of the command and never looked back. We went down a draw and up the other side, fast. When we got over the draw--the boy was always looking all around--he holloed me that Constable's mare was coming out of the draw--without Constable. So he said that Constable was on



the horse just before we went down in the draw. He said lets go back. I had no notion of going back until he spoke about it. I just gave him one look and said all right, and we started back as fast as we Could. When we came in sight of the draw, I saw an Indian out of the draw on the other side. He motioned to the one in the draw, and he left. When we could see into the draw the other Indian was just getting on his pony. We shot at him as he went down the draw but missed him. The Indians in the skirmish line stopped then, and we commenced to shoot at the bunch but intended to run again if we saw them starting to cut us off again. We were shooting so long and so much that we drew them all to us. We saw the whole command coming over the rise as fast as they could run. That scared the Indians, and they drew back out of gunshot. The soldiers saw the horse without a rider, but they did not stop. They asked us who that was, and we told them, Constable, down in the draw. He was shot with an arrow in the side, pretty high up. I and the boy had not got off of our horses. They put him in the wagon, and we all started back. When we got back to Elk Creek, we crossed at the same place. The cannon and wagons were hauled by the men with ropes. We--The Independents--were the rear guard. Several hundred of the Indians followed back to Elk Creek, and we had to do some pretty fast shooting. They wounded some of our horses but did not cripple them. It was dark when we got across the creek. Then we started for Little Blue stage station, where Constable's train was burnt. Before we started back we shot at the Indians until it was too dark to see them. We were not more than forty minutes going there. When we got there one regiment of Kansas militia was there. Next morning Cap. Murphy went back to Fort Kearny, and we went back to Big Sandy Creek, and some of us went to Beatrice. I went to Beatrice. In talking to some of the Kansas men they said they saw Indians the day before on the other side of the river--the South side. They were scouts. That helped to save us, as the Indians were afraid to follow us back in the dark. That turned them back. That was the end of the raid. The Indians did not bother any more for some time.

    On November 12, 1917, Mr. Gilbert responded to addi tional inquiries as follows:

   The reason that the Indians had not attacked Kiowa was because there was an ox train corralled or camped about twohundred yards west of the station with twenty-six wagons and thirty men going west, and one hundred or so yards east of the Station were the twenty mule wagons loaded with liquor. The



ox train turned their cattle south; their herders said that they saw forty or fifty Indians go east on the south side of the river; but they went on a walk, so they thought they were peaceable. They went on east of Kiowa; there they met Joe Eubanks and shot him with an arrow, just around the bend, out of sight of Kiowa station. Some time after, he was buried, where he fell, by some train.
   In my letter of October 26 I said that at the old man Eubanks' house there were two families. The old lady Eubanks and the oldest girl had gone to Missouri on a visit; so they were not killed. I was better acquainted with the older girl as she worked at Liberty stage station when I drove stage for the Overland Stage Company.
   Somebody told that Jim Comstock helped bury the Eubanks family, but that is a mistake, as Jim went with the empty train that came to the Comstock ranch that Sunday evening and went by Kiowa station Monday, and all of the Comstocks were with it. So was George Hunt who was shot in the leg at Oak Grove. The men with that empty train said they saw the old man Eubanks and the little boy lying close to the road, about a half or three-quarters of a mile west of the Comstock or Oak Grove ranch. So somebody must have moved them, as the two yoke of cattle hooked to the wagon went on up home. We found them seven days after. One of the oxen was shot with an arrow. We pulled it out. The old man Eubanks and the boy had been down to Joe's helping him on his ranch as it was not all completed. I think Mr. Follmer is right when he tells where the old man Eubanks was buried. I helped bury all of the Eubanks family that was buried at that place. We buried the old man, the young boy and the girl all in one grave, and we buried Bill where he fell on the sand-bank. Just dug out all the sand we could and covered him up.
   The old Fort Riley road crossed Elk Creek three or four miles down the creek from Nelson; so I have been told by old settlers; but we called it ten miles from Little Blue stage station, which was six miles northwest of Oak Grove Ranch--three miles or over north and about the same distance west, as the river came more from the north there. We called it twelve miles east to Kiowa; but the river has changed in some places, made cut-offs, as I found out when I went down to where the stagecoach turned around when we saw the Indians. I had said that we saw the Indians behind some second growth ash timber on a spring branch that emptied into the Blue close to the Thayer and Nuckolls county line on the low bottom. When I got there the timber had all been cut off and the low bottom had all been plowed up and the spring branch was all filled up. It was three or four hundred feet long, but there



was no sign of it, and the river had made a cut-off, and where the river made a short turn it was about filled up. So a person to look at it now would think it was all a dream on my part.

   Mr. Gilbert's attention having been called to the statement of Captain Murphy that he detailed Captain Kuhl, to bury members of the Eubanks family killed by the Indians and to the disagreement between that story and his own, he gave the following circumstantial account of the incident:

   After we got back to the Little Blue stage station, which was about eighteen miles below Pawnee Ranch, Captain Kuhl--I never saw his name spelled before but we called him Captain Cool--Captain Kuhl wanted some of our party to go down to the Eubanks family's place and show him where they were buried; and so we all went. He was the only man that wore a uniform in the party. He never got off his horse, but we told him where to cross the river, and he went over to where Bill Eubanks was buried and rode in the brush some. We told where the balance were buried, or showed him. Before we started up on that trip we knew that they were not buried, as myself and James Douglas had seen them the Tuesday after the raid of Sunday. Tuesday was the day that the Indians chased us in the coach back to Constable's train.
   We turned and went with the train up to Little Blue stage station. Some of us--myself and James Douglas of Kiowa Station--wanted Constable to bury the Eubankses, but he said it was getting late for breakfast, or dinner, and would not stop until he made camp, so we passed them. But when the train stopped at Little Blue stage station and he turned the cattle across the river, the Indians drove them off about a mile south, but the mule train of twenty wagons was left close to the station on the north side of the river. That was about one o'clock in the afternoon. After dark they unloaded all of the liquor and the men got in the wagons and went down the road, traveling all night. We passed the Eubanks place when it was real dark so did not see them. When we went up the road again with our company we buried the Eubankses. Ed Wells and his brother-in-law--Bartley, I think--was with us.
   Mr. Wells [Charles W.] was correct about the little boy. I did not know of him until after the Indian raid as I had never stopped at the Eubanks house, although I had driven the Stage ever since they came there. That was in the spring that they came. I do not know whether the little boy was buried



with the others or not, as I did not help to handle him; but I helped to handle the old father and the girl and Bill. I did not help dig the graves. I had forgotten the small boy. Mr. Wells thought the girl had been scalped because they had been dead seven days in awful hot weather, and some of the hair on top of her head had fallen off, and it was bare; but I had seen too many that were scalped to not know the difference.

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