The first settlement in Fillmore county, Nebraska, was made in 1866 by Nimrod J. Dixon, a native of Pennsylvania. He was married to Lydia Gilmore, who had previously filed on a homestead adjoining his. Mr. and Mrs. Dixon continued to reside on their homestead until they moved to Fairmont, Nebraska, where they are now living, having lived on the farm forty years.

     Mr. and Mrs. Dixon were married February 28, 1867, at the home of Mrs. Dixon's father, Elias Gilmore, near Blue Vale. Mr. Dixon got the license at Nebraska City. From that time until the summer of 1868 they were the only settlers in the county and were seven or eight miles from the nearest neighbor.

     In relating her experiences Mrs. Dixon said: "I was afraid to stay alone, so when Mr. Dixon had to go away I went with him or my sisters stayed with me. At that time we had to go to Milford for flour and twenty-five miles to get a plow-lay sharpened. At such times Mr. Dixon would stay at my father's home near Blue Vale and help them two or three days with their breaking, in return for which one of the boys would come and help him.

     "The Indians visited us frequently and I was afraid of them. One time a number of them came and two entered the dugout and asked for flour. We gave them as much as we could spare, but they could see the flour sitting on a bench behind the door and wanted more. We refused, but they became very insistent, so much so that Mr. Dixon grabbed a black-snake whip that hung on the wall and started toward them. This show of resistance was all that was necessary. It proved to the Indians that Mr. Dixon was not afraid of them, so they gave him powder and shot to regain his friendship.

     "An Indian came in one day and gave me a lot of beads, then he wanted flour, which we gave him. He took it and held it out to me, saying, 'Squaw cook it, squaw cook it!' This I refused to do, so he said, 'Give me the beads, give me the beads.'

     " My baby, Arthur, born January 9, 1869, was the first white




child born in Fillmore county. I recall one time that I was home alone with the baby. An Indian came in and handed me a paper that said he had lost a pony. I assured him that we had seen nothing of the pony. He saw a new butcher knife that was lying on the table, picked it up, and finally drew out his old knife and held it toward me, saying, 'Swap, swap!' I said, 'Yes,' so he went away with my good knife.

   "The worst fright I ever did have was not from Indians. My sister Minnie was with me and we were out of salt. Mr. Dixon said he would go across the river to Whitaker's and borrow some. We thought that he wouldn't be gone long so we stayed at home. While he was away a cloud came up and it began to rain. I never did see it rain harder. The river raised, and the water in the ravine in front of the dugout came nearly to the door. The roof leaked so we were nearly as wet indoors as we would have been out. The rain began about four o'clock in the afternoon. It grew dark and Mr. Dixon did not return. We thought that he would certainly be drowned in trying to cross the river. While we were in this state of suspense, the door burst open and a half-clad woman rushed in, saying, 'Don't let me scare you to death.' I was never so frightened in my life, and it was some time before I recognized her as my neighbor, Mrs. Fairbanks.

   "Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks had gone to Whitaker's, who were coopers, to get some barrels fixed for sorghum, and left the children at home. When it rained they thought they must try to cross the river and get to their children. Mr. Dixon came with them. At first they tried to ride horses across, but the one Mrs. Fairbanks was riding refused to swim and threw her into the water, so she had to swim back. They were all excellent swimmers, so they started again in a wagon box which those on land tried to guide by means of a line. With the aid of the wagon box and by swimming they succeeded in getting across. That was in the fall of 1869.

   "The only time I ever saw a buffalo skinned was when a big herd stayed a week or more on the south side of the river. Kate Bussard and I stood on the top of the dugout and watched the chase, and after they killed one we went nearer and watched them skin it."

   Mr. Dixon took his claim without seeing it. In October, 1866,



he went to the land office and learned that he could then take a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres but the new law would soon go into effect providing that settlers could only homestead eighty acres. Mr. Dixon was afraid that he could not go and see the claim and get back to Nebraska City and file on it in time to get one hundred and sixty acres, In telling about it Mr. Dixon says, "I thought it would, indeed, be a poor quarter-section that would not have eighty acres of farm land, so I took my chances.

     "In the year 1868, the first year that we had any crops planted, it almost forgot to rain at all. The barley was so short that it fell through the cradle. There were no bridges so we had to ford the river. It was hard to haul much of a load across because the wagon would cut into the mud on the two banks while the sandy river bottom would stand a pretty good load. That difficulty I overcame by making bundles or sheaves of willow poles and placing them at the two banks and covering them with sand. Later the settlers made a bridge across the river near the homestead of H. L. Badger. This has ever since been known as the 'Badger Bridge.' The first bridge was made of logs which we procured along the river.

     "I was making a hayrack of willow poles at the time of the total eclipse of the sun. It began to grow dark, the chickens went to roost, and it seemed that night was coming on.

     "The year 1869 was rainy and we raised good crops and fine potatoes that season. That was the year they were driving Texas cattle up to eat the northern grass and then ship them east over the Union Pacific railroad. The cattle stampeded, so they lost many of them and we saw them around for a year or more.

     "My first buffalo hunt was in 1867. The country seemed to be covered with great herds and the Indians were hunting them. Twenty of us started out with five wagons. There were Jake and Boss Gilmore, Jim Johnson, and myself in one wagon. We had only about three days' supplies with us, expecting to get buffalo before these were exhausted, but the Indians were ahead of us and kept the buffalo out of our range. Our party crossed the Little Blue at Deweese. Beyond there we found carcasses of buffalo and a fire where the Indians had burned out a ranch. Realizing that it was necessary for us to take precautions, We



chose Colonel Bifkin our leader and decided to strike another trail and thus avoid the Indians if possible. We traveled toward he Republican river but found no track of either buffalo or, Indians, so we turned around and followed the Indians. By that time our food supply was exhausted, but by good luck we shot two wild turkeys.

     "We were soon following the Indians so closely that we ate dinner where they ate breakfast and by night we were almost in sight of them. We thought it best to put out a guard at night. My station was under a cottonwood tree near a foot-log that crossed a branch of the Little Blue. I was to be relieved at eleven o'clock. I heard something coming on the foot-log. I listened and watched but it was so dark that I could see nothing, but could hear it coming closer; so I shot and heard something drop. Colonel Bifkin, who was near, coming to relieve me, asked what I was shooting at. 'I don't know, perhaps an Indian; it dropped,' I replied. We looked and found merely a coon, but it did good service as wagon grease, for we had forgotten that very necessary article.

     "The Indians kept the main herd ahead of them so we were only able to see a few buffalo that had strayed away. We went farther west and got two or three and then went into camp on the Little Blue. We always left a guard at camp and all of the fun came when Boss Gilmore and I were on guard so we missed it. The others rounded up and killed about twenty buffalo. One fell over the bluff into the river and it fell to our lot to get it out and skin it, but by the time we got it out the meat had spoiled. The water there was so full of alkali that we could not drink it and neither could the horses, so we started back, struck the freight road and followed it until we came to Deep Well ranch on the Platte bottom. We had driven without stopping from ten o'clock in the forenoon till two o'clock in the morning. We lay down and slept then, but I was awakened early by chickens crowing. I roused the others of our party and we went in search of something to eat. It had been eight days since we had had any bread and I was never so bread-hungry as then. We came to the Martin home about three miles west of Grand Island and although we could not buy bread, the girls baked biscuits for us and I ate eleven biscuits. That was the home of the two



Martin boys who were pinned together by an arrow that the Indians shot through both of them while riding on one pony.

     "That morning 1 saw the first construction train that came into Grand Island over the Union Pacific railroad. If I remember correctly it was in November, 1867.

     "We took home with us five wagonloads of buffalo meat. I did not keep any of the hides because I could not get them tanned. Mr. Gilmore got Indian women to tan a hide for him by giving them sugar and flour. They would keep asking for it and finally got all that was coming to them before the hide was done, so they quit tanning, and Mr. Gilmore had to keep baiting them by giving them more sugar and flour in order to get it done."

     Mr. and Mrs. Dixon have eight children, all living. They still own the original homestead that was their home for so many years.



     In the fall of 1870, with Mrs. McCashland and two children, Addie and Sammy, I left Livingston county, Illinois, and drove to Fillmore county, Nebraska. We started with two wagons and teams. I had three good horses and one old plug. I drove one team and had a man drive the other until I became indignant because he abused the horses and let him go. Mrs. McCashland drove the second team the rest of the way.

     A family of neighbors, Thomas Roe's, were going west at the same time, so we were together throughout the journey until we got lost in the western part of Iowa. The road forked and we were so far behind we did not see which way Roe turned and so went the other way. It rained that night and a dog ate our supplies so we were forced to procure food from a settler. We found the Roe family the next evening just before we crossed the Missouri river, October 15, 1870.

     East of Lincoln we met a prairie schooner and team of oxen. An old lady came ahead and said to us, "Go back, good friends, go back!" When questioned about how long she had lived here, she said, "I've wintered here and I've summered here, and God knows I've been here long enough."

     When Mrs. McCashland saw the first dugout that she had ever seen, she cried. It did not seem that she could bear to live in a place like that. It looked like merely a hole in the ground.

     We finally reached the settlement in Fillmore county and lived in a dugout with two other families until I could build a dugout that we could live in through the winter. That done, I picked out my claim and went to Lincoln to file on it and bought lumber for a door and for window frames.

     I looked the claim over, chose the site for buildings, and when home drew the plans of where I wanted the house, stable, well, etc., on the dirt hearth for Mrs. McCashland to see. She felt so bad because she had to live in such a place that I gave it up and went to the West Blue river, which was near, felled trees, and




with the help of other settlers hewed them into logs and erected a log house on the homestead. While living in the dugout Indian women visited Mrs. McCashland and wanted to trade her a papoose for her quilts. When she refused, they wanted her to give them the quilts.

     I had just forty-two dollars when we reached Fillmore county, and to look back now one would hardly think it possible to live as long as we did on forty-two dollars. There were times that we had nothing but meal to eat and many days we sent the children to school with only bread for lunch.

     I was a civil war veteran, which fact entitled me to a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres. I still own that homestead, which is farmed by my son. After visiting in the east a few years ago I decided that I would not trade my quarter section in Fillmore county for several times that much eastern land.



We came to Nebraska in October of 1870 by wagon and wintered a mile east of what now is the Red Lion mill. We made several trips to Lincoln during the fall and winter and one to Nebraska City, where brother Dan and I shucked corn for a farmer for a dollar a day with team.

     I moved on the William Bussard claim, later the Elof Lindgren farm, in March, 1871, and raised a crop, then moved on our homestead in section 24, town 8, range 3 west. We built part dugout and part sodup for a house and slept in it the first night with only the blue sky for a roof. Then we put on poles, brush, hay, dirt, and sod for a roof. This was in October, and we lived in this dugout until 1874, then built a sod house.

     In April, 1873, we had a three days' snow storm called a blizzard. In the spring of 1871 I attended the election for the organization of the county of Fillmore. I followed farming as an occupation and in the fall of 1872 William Howell and I bought a threshing machine, which we ran for four seasons. Some of the accounts are still due and unpaid. Our lodging place generally was the straw stack or under the machine and our teams were tied to a wagon, but the meals we got were good. Aside from farming and threshing I put in some of the time at carpentry, walking sometimes six miles back and forth, night and morning.

     In July or August, 1874, we had a visit from the grasshoppers, the like of which had never been seen before nor since. They came in black clouds and dropped down by the bushel and ate every green thing on earth and some things in the earth. We had visits from the Indians too but they mostly wanted "hogy" meat or something to fill their empty stomachs. Well, I said we built a sodup of two rooms with a board floor and three windows and two doors, plastered with Nebraska mud. We thought it a palace, for some time, and were comfortable.

     In June, 1877, I took a foolish notion to make a fortune and




in company with ten others, supplied with six months' provisions, started for the Black Hills. We drove ox teams and were nearly all summer on the road; at least we did not reach the mining places till August. In the meantime the water had played out in the placer mining district so there was "nothing doing." We prospected for quartz but that did not pan out satisfactorily, so we traded our grub that we did not need for gold dust and returned to our homes no richer than when we left. However, we had all of the fresh venison we could use both coming and going, besides seeing a good many Indians and lots of wild country that now is mostly settled up.



     I came to Gage county, Nebraska, in the fall of 1865, and homesteaded 160 acres of land, four miles from the village of Beatrice, in the Blue River valley. I built a log house 12x14 feet with one door and two windows. The floor was made of native lumber in the rough, that we had sawed at a mill operated by water power.

     With my little family I settled down to make my fortune. Though drouth and grasshoppers made it discouraging at times, we managed to live on what little we raised, supplemented by wild game - that was plentiful. Wild turkeys and prairie chickens could be had by going a short distance and further west there were plenty of buffalo and antelope.

     Our first mail was carried from Nebraska City on horseback. The first paper published in Gage county was in 1867 and was called the Blue Valley Record. In 1872 a postoffice was established in the settlement where we lived, which was an improvement over going four miles for mail. For the first schoolhouse built in the district where I lived I helped haul the lumber from Brownville, Nebraska, on the Missouri river, sixty-five miles from the village of Beatrice. The first few crops of wheat we raised were hauled to Nebraska City, as there was no market at home for it. On the return trip we hauled merchandise for the settlement. Every fall as long as wild game was near us we would spend a week or two hunting; to lay in our winter supply of meat. I remember when I came through where the city of Superior now is, first in 1866 and again in 1867, nothing was to be seen but buffalo grass and a few large cottonwood trees. I killed a buffalo near the present. town of Hardy.

     We have lived in Nebraska continuously since 1865 and it is hard to believe the progress that it has made in these few years.




     The writer has in his possession an old map of the North American continent published in London in 1796, twelve years after the close of the American Revolution, whereon the region now comprising the state of Nebraska is shown as a part of Quivera; that supposed kingdom of fabulous riches in quest of which Coronado pursued his tedious wanderings more than three hundred years ago. At the time this map was published the French had visited Indian tribes as far west as the Missouri, and it must have been from French and Spanish sources that the geographer and map-maker gathered the information that enabled him to compile that part of his map covering the vast unknown regions of the west. Guess-work and supposition resulted in elongations and abbreviations of territory and rivers that made it possible for him to show our own Blue river as emptying into the Gulf of California, and the great kingdoms of Quivera and Teguayo as extending from the Missouri river to the Pacific coast. The greater part of what is now Mexico is shown as "New Biscay" and "New Navarre," while Mexico or "New Spain" is crowded down towards Central America. The existence of the Rocky Mountains, at the time this map was made, was unknown; and the whole region covered by them is shown as a vast plain. While spending leisure hours among some rare old books in the library of the Union League of Philadelphia, I came across the chronicles of Coronado's wanderings and adventures, as detailed by his monkish chaplain and preserved in the Spanish archives. A careful perusal of these fully convinced me that the route traversed was through eastern Nebraska as far northward as the present site of Lincoln, and possibly as far as the Platte. The great salt marsh was referred to, and the particulars of a disastrous encounter with the warlike Otoes are given. Mention is made of the Missouri nation and its bold warriors, as well as of other tribes whose habitat and hunting grounds were the plains or prairies of eastern Nebraska.



In prehistoric times the Indian trails led along the level river bottoms where both wood and water could be obtained and where game was usually most abundant, and also in the direction of salt springs or licks where salt might be obtainable and the larger kinds of game be more plentiful. At the time of its settlement by white people the bottom lands of the Blue were threaded by many deeply worn trails that had evidently been traveled for centuries and a careful consideration of happenings, as recorded by the monkish chronicler, and the fact I have just stated in regard to the prehistoric routes of travel, forces the conclusion that Coronado's weary cavalcade must undoubtedly have followed the course of the Blue river to a point where the well worn trail diverged towards the great salt basin. Possibly the party may have encamped on the site of Beatrice and there can be little doubt that one of the Indian cities mentioned by the faithful monkish historian, occupied the present site of Blue Springs, where evidences of an ancient Indian town can still be seen, and the outlines of ancient fortifications be traced. Fragments of Indian pottery and stone knives and implements, of both the paleolithic and the neolithic ages, are frequently turned up by the plowshare in that vicinity, all indicating a long established occupancy that must have continued for centuries. As late as the early part of the last century the Pawnees occupied the site; and when the writer as United States government agent took charge of the Otoes and Missouris, in the summer of 1869, there were still old warriors living who remembered hearing their fathers tell of deeds of bloody warfare done in this very vicinity, and who pointed out to the writer the very spot, in a deep draw or ravine on the prairie a few miles east of Blue Springs, where a war party of thirty Otoes met a well deserved, but terrible death. At the time of this occurrence the Otoes were living at the mouth of the Nemaha and were on very bad terms with the Pawnees, many of whose scalps the writer has seen adorning Otoe medicine bags or hanging in their wigwams. The Pawnees had started on a buffalo hunt, leaving at home only the old and decrepit and a few children, and the Otoes, knowing that the defenders of the village had started on the hunt, made an attack at daybreak the next morning, murdering and scalping old and young alike and after loading themselves with plunder, hastened on their homeward trip.



Unfortunately for the Otoes the Pawnee hunters had encamped only eight miles up Indian creek and one of them that morning had returned to the village on some errand and arrived just in time to discover what was going on. The Otoes wounded him severely, but he succeeded in escaping to the Pawnee camp and giving the alarm. The enraged Pawnee warriors, mounted on their freshest and fastest ponies, were not long in reaching the village, nor were they long in discovering the trail of the Otoe war party, which they followed until they overtook it at the place pointed out to the writer. Here a fierce battle took place which resulted in the complete extermination of the Otoe party; the tall slough grass, in which they took shelter, having been set on fire, the wounded all perished in the conflagration. This is probably one of the most tragic incidents of which we have any knowledge as having happened within the limits of Gage county.

     The first store established within the county was located in a log house on Plum creek near the present site of the village of Liberty. It was established, primarily as an Indian trading place, by a Mr. MacDonald, of St. Joseph, Missouri, but was under the management of Mrs. Palmer, who with her husband, David, were the first white settlers within the limits of the county, having arrived in 1857 a few weeks prior to the coming of the founders of Beatrice. David was drowned a few years ago while bathing in the Blue. The store on Plum creek, on one occasion, was raided by a party of Pawnees who, loaded with plunder, were pursued by a large party of Otoes, who overtook them on the Little Blue some distance above the present site of Fairbury, and killed them all. The site of this battle was pointed out to the writer by the Otoes while accompanying them on a buffalo hunt in 1870. The skulls and bones of the slain were still in evidence at that time, being concealed in the dense thicket in which the battle had taken place.

     About the year 1868 a war party of Osages made a raid on the aboriginal inhabitants of the county and murdered and scalped several squaws who were chopping wood near the Blue. The trail of the Osages was followed, by a war party of Otoes, to the reservation of the former and satisfaction exacted in the shape of a gift of forty head of ponies. On their way back the Otoes concluded that they had settled too cheaply and feared



they might be censured by the kindred of the murdered women. They halted, and leaving the forty head of ponies under guard, made a flying raid on the Osage pony herds and succeeded in stealing and getting safely away with another forty head. In due time, with eighty head of Osage ponies, they made a triumphal daylight entry into their home village. If they had been unsuccessful they would have stolen in one by one during the darkness of the night.

     The last Indian war party to traverse the soil of Gage county consisted of thirty naked and painted Omahas. It transpired that a party of Kickapoos had raided the pony herds of the Omahas and stolen thirty head of ponies, and in order to throw suspicion on the Otoes, had cunningly directed their trail towards the Otoe reservation, passing in the night as near to the Otoe village as possible without being discovered. The Otoes at this time were expecting, and trying to guard against, a raid from the Osages, whom they had great reason to fear, as it was fully expected that they would exact satisfaction, sooner or later, for that extra forty head of ponies that the Otoes had stolen. As a protection from the Osages, the Otoes had constructed a sort of a stockade of poles tied together with withes and strips of bark, in front of each wigwam, where they kept their nearly eight hundred head of ponies under careful watch every night. The Omaha war party stealthily approached under cover of the darkness and finding sentinels posted and watching, they hid in the tall weeds and sunflowers as close to the stockades as they could safely get, until daybreak, when the sleepy sentinels, thinking all danger over, entered the wigwams for something to eat and a nap, then emerging from their hiding places the Omahas made quick work of cutting the lashings that bound the poles and selecting thirty of the best ponies they could get hold of. The noise of the ponies' hoof-beats, as the Omahas rode swiftly away, aroused the Otoes, and in a very few minutes the whole village was in a commotion. Fierce war whoops resounded; the heralds went about calling the braves into action and soon there was mounting in hot haste. The writer, awakened by the tumult, stepped out upon a balcony in front of the agency building and beheld a sight such as no historian of the county will ever again record. In the far distance the naked Omahas were riding for their very lives, while perhaps a hundred or more Otoes were



lashing their ponies in a wild frenzy of pursuit. In the village the greatest commotion prevailed, the women wailed, the heralds shouted, and the dogs barked; scores of women stood on the tops of their wigwams shrieking and gesticulating and the temper of the community closely resembled that of a nest of hornets when aroused by the rude thrust of a pole. It was nearly noon when the distant war whoops, announcing the return of the pursuers, were heard; as they drew near it was apparent that they were wildly triumphant and were bringing with them the thirty hideously painted Omahas. The prisoners were delivered to the agent who directed his police to disarm them, and cause them to be seated on the floor of the council room where they formed a dejected looking group with their naked bodies and shaved and vermillion (sic) painted heads. It was then that their leader explained that their seizure of ponies was honestly intended as a reprisal for ponies which they had lost. Old Medicine Horse, an Otoe chief, assured them that his braves would have killed every one of them if the agent had not talked so much about the wickedness of killing, and it was only their fear of displeasing him that caused them to take prisoners instead of scalps. After much speech-making, the agent adjourned the council and suggested that the Otoes take the Omahas to their wigwams, feed them, and allow them to depart in peace; and this was done. The only blood shed during the campaign was in the shooting of one of Elijah Filley's hog by the Omahas. The first notification I had of this atrocious and bloody affair was when Elijah, then quite a young man, came to see me and file a complaint, bringing with him the blood-stained arrow that had pierced the vitals of his innocent hog.

     Perhaps one of the saddest tragedies of those early days occurred in 1870 when two homesteaders, returning to their families from a trip to Brownville for provisions, were brutally murdered by a halfbreed named Jim Whitewater. Jim was just returning from a buffalo hunt and had secured a supply of whiskey from a man named Wehn, at Fairbury. Being more than half drunk, he conceived the idea that the bravest thing he could do would be to kill some white people; and it happened that he came across the poor homesteaders just at that time. It was about dusk and the poor fellows had halted for the night, by the side of a draw where the grass was tall enough to cut for



their horses. They had unharnessed their teams, tied them to the wagons and were in the act of mowing grass for them when a pistol shot rang out and one of them fell mortally wounded; the other, being attacked, and though mortally hurt, tried to defend himself with the scythe that he had been using, and in doing so cut the Indian's hand, almost severing the thumb. The scene of this terrible affair was just over the Gage county line in Jefferson county and consequently it devolved on the sheriff of that county to discover and arrest the murderer. As Whitewater had been seen in the vicinity, suspicion pointed to him and his arrest followed. He soon escaped from the officers and was hidden for two weeks, when the Indian police discovered his place of concealment in the timber on Wolf creek. His own brother, assisted by other Indians, captured him by strategy, bound him securely with their lariats and delivered him at the agency. The writer had gone to Beatrice on business and was not expected back until the next day, but in his absence his wife, then a young woman of about twenty, took energetic measures to insure the safety of the prisoner by ordering him placed in irons, and kept under a strong guard until the agent's return. In the meantime, having finished the business at Beatrice and there being a full moon, the writer decided to drive the twenty miles to the agency between sun-down and midnight, which he did, arriving there shortly after midnight. Of course, until his arrival, he had no intimation that Whitewater had been captured. Before leaving home the Indians had reported that they had reason to believe that he was hiding somewhere on Wolf creek, as his wife had taken dried buffalo meat to that locality, and as the writer, in returning, had to drive for about forty rods through the heavy timber bordering that creek and cross it at a deep and rather dangerous ford, and knowing that Whitewater had declared that he would take both the agent and the sheriff with him to the other world, and that he was heavily armed, the writer is not ashamed to confess to a feeling of nervousness almost akin to fear, as he was about to enter that stretch of timber shaded road dimly lighted by the full moon. He first carefully let down the curtains of the carriage and then made his team dash at full speed through the long stretch of timber, plunge and flounder through the ford, and out once more upon the open prairie, the driver expecting at almost any



moment to hear the crack of a pistol. On arriving within sight of the agency building, instead of finding it dark and silent as he had expected, the writer was greatly surprised to see it well lighted and many Indian police standing about it as if on guard. The next morning the writer with several Indian chiefs and the Indian police started for Fairbury with the prisoner; the Indians riding two abreast and carrying a large United States flag at the head of the procession. The trip was made via Beatrice and the distance traveled was about fifty miles. The Indians feared an attack from the Rose creek settlers; neighbors and friends of the murdered men, and as they approached Fairbury the entire line of Indians commenced a melodious chant which the interpreter explained as nothing less than an appeal to the Great Spirit asking him to incline the hearts of the people to treat the Indians kindly and fairly. On arriving at Fairbury the cavalcade halted in the public square and was soon surrounded by the entire population of the hamlet. It was nearly dark, but the good ladies of the place set about preparing a bountiful meal for the hungry Indians, to which they did ample justice. There being no jail in the place, we waived a hearing and started the next morning for Pawnee City, where prison accommodations could be had. Shortly after leaving Fairbury the interpreter told the Indians that evidently the Great Spirit had heard their appeal, to which they all vociferously assented. Jim was kept at Pawnee City until his trial, which took place at Fairbury before Judge 0. P. Mason, who sentenced him to imprisonment for life. Whitewater was one of three individuals among the Otoes who could read and write, the other two being Battiste Barneby and Battiste Deroin, both of whom were very capable interpreters. Polygamy being allowable among the Otoes, Deroin was one who had availed himself of its privileges, his two wives being sisters. On learning that Whitewater had been imprisoned for life, his wife soon found another husband, greatly to his sorrow and chagrin. It was during Whitewater's imprisonment that the reservation was sold and the Indians removed. Eighteen years after his conviction he received a pardon and left the penitentiary to rejoin the tribe. What retribution he meted out to those who aided in his capture or to his wife's second husband, the writer has never learned.



     A year before the writer took charge of the Otoes and Missouris, a delegation of their chiefs had accompanied their agent Major Smith, to Washington and made a treaty under which the whole reservation of 160,000 acres was to be sold at $1.50 per acre. The writer was informed by Major Smith that a railroad company would become the ultimate beneficiary, provided the treaty was ratified by the senate, and that he had been promised a section of land if the scheme proved successful. Smith urged the writer to use all the influence possible to secure ''the ratification of the treaty and before the writer had taken any steps to secure its defeat, he also received an intimation, if not an absolute promise, from interested parties, that in the event of its ratification, he should have his choice of any section of land on the domain. Believing that such a treaty was adverse to the interests and welfare of the Indians, the writer at once set about to accomplish its defeat, in which, through the aid of eastern friends, he was finally successful.

     Coronado's chronicler mentions, among other nations with whom the expedition came in contact, the Missourias as being very fierce and warlike, and it may be a matter of local historical interest to state that the Missouri "nation" with which Coronado became acquainted, and from which one of the world's largest rivers and one of the largest and richest states take their names, reduced to a remnant of less than one hundred individuals, found an abiding place within the limits of Gage county for more than a generation. Placed on a reservation with the Otoes and under the care of the same agent, they still retained their own chief and their own language, though circumstances gradually induced the adoption of the Otoe tongue. The old chief of the Missouris was called Eagle and was known as a war chief. It was his province to command and direct all hunting operations. He was a man of very striking appearance, over six feet in height, straight as an arrow, with fine features and apparently about seventy-five years of age in 1869. He was an. hereditary chief, and probably a lineal descendant of one of the kings of the Missouri nation that Coronado and his followers met. Old Eagle was the only chief of the Missouris, and was respected and highly esteemed by both the Missouris and the Otoes. During a buffalo hunt, in which the writer participated with the Indians, Eagle chief was the highest author-



ity in regard to all matters pertaining to the chase and attack on the herd. In 1869 the head chief of the Otoes was Arkeketah who was said to have been appointed to that position by Major Daily. He was a polygamist and very much opposed to the ways of the white man. In fact he was such a reactionary and stumbling-block to the progress of the tribe that the writer finally deposed him and advanced Medicine Horse to the position of head chief.

     The number of Indians living within the borders of Gage County in 1869 was probably not far from eight hundred. The reservation, comprising two hundred and fifty square miles, extended some distance into Kansas and also took in a part of Jefferson county in this state, but the Indians were all domiciled in Gage county. Their principal village was situated close to the site now occupied by the town of Barnston and where a fine spring afforded an ample supply of water. The wigwams were of a type adopted by the Indians long before the discovery of America, and most of them were large enough to accommodate several families. It was a custom of the Otoes to vacate the wigwams and live during the winter in tipis which were pitched in the timber where fuel was close at hand. In 1869 only three persons in the confederated tribes wore citizens clothes, the rest were all blanket Indians, who, during warm weather, went almost naked, and habitually painted their faces and shaved heads, with vermillion (sic) and indigo.

     The principal burial place of the Otoes was on a bluff overlooking the river bottoms, and within a short distance of where Barnston now stands. For years it was visited, as one of the curiosities of the reservation, by the white settlers and strangers, chiefly on account of the weird and ghostly funeral oaks that stood on the brink of the bluff, bearing, lashed to their gnarled and crooked limbs, gruesome burdens of dead Indians, wrapped in bark and partly mummified by the sun and wind; there was probably a score of these interesting objects resting peacefully on the boughs of these three oaks; they had been there for many years, and might possibly have remained to this day had not a great prairie fire during the summer of 1871 destroyed the oaks and their ghastly burden, leaving only an assortment of charred bones and skulls to mark the site.

     A strange and pathetic tragedy, in connection with this old



burial place, transpired shortly before the writer took charge of the agency and its affairs; and it was from the interpreter, Battiste Deroin, that the particulars were obtained. The incident may be worth preserving by the local historian, as illustrating the absolute faith of the Indians in a continued existence of the spirit beyond the grave. Dogs were frequently strangled at children's funerals in order that the dog's spirit might accompany that of the child, and it was a common sight to see a dog's body sitting upright with its back to a stake and securely tied in that position, in the vicinity of the old burial place. The man who figured in this tragedy was very aged and feeble, and the little child was very dear to him; he doubtless knew that he had not long to live and that he very soon would have to travel over the same lonely trail that the little child was about to take. Doubtless he realized fully what a comfort it would be to each, if they could take the long journey together. The Otoes always buried their dead in a sitting posture; and the old man, when seated in the grave, held the body of the child in his arms. The relatives took a last farewell of both the dead child and its living caretaker; the grave was covered with a buffalo robe supported on poles or heavy sticks, and the mass of earth taken from the grave was piled thereon; this being their usual mode of burial.

     The custom of strangling a horse or pony at the burial of an Indian brave was a common occurrence among the Otoes prior to 1870 and the old burial place on the bluff was somewhat decorated with horses' skulls laid upon the graves of warriors who are supposed to have gone to heaven on horseback. The tail of the horse sacrificed was usually fastened to a pole that stood at the head of the grave.

     The first school established within the limits of the county was a mission school under the care of the Rev. Mr. Murdock, and the old stone building, built for it on Mission creek, was the first stone building in the county. It was a ruin in 1869.

     In 1869 there were still some beavers to be found along the Blue; and at that time the river abounded with large gars, some of which were three or four feet in length; a fish which has since become entirely extinct in the Blue, probably because the water is no longer clear. The gar was one of the primitive fishes of the silurian age; it was very destructive of all other fish.



     White people never ate it, but the Indians thought it fairly good. The Indians obtained most of their fish by shooting with arrows from the river banks. They often succeeded in shooting very large fish owing to the clearness of the water. This could not be done now that the prairies have been put into cultivation, as that has destroyed the clearness of the water.

     As late as 1869 there were some wild deer in the county and little spotted fawns were occasionally caught. The writer procured two of the latter from the Indians and gave them to Ford Roper's family in Beatrice; they became very tame and were frequently seen on the streets of the town. In 1870 the writer, while driving from Blue Springs to Beatrice, met a large buck with antlers, as it emerged from an opening in the bluffs.

     Among the first settlers of the county were some families from Tennessee who settled near the present town of Liberty on Plum creek. They did their own spinning and weaving, and having been accustomed to raising cotton and mixing it with the wool for spinning, they undertook to raise it here. The writer remembers seeing their cotton patches, but never saw them gathering cotton.

     The first bridge built in the county to cross the river, was built on Market street, Beatrice, about the year 1870. It was a very narrow wooden structure, only wide enough for one wagon at a time to pass over. The firm of Peavy and Curtiss of Pawnee City were the contractors and the contract price was $4,000. It was regarded as a public improvement of very great importance to the town.

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