Correspondence of the Gallipolis Journal
CINCINNATI, June 28th, 1851
EDS. Journal: The smoke of the battle has so far cleared off the great field, that we can see about what the issue has been in the Constitution canvas. The new instrument is elected by a large majority, although the vote is not a full one, but sufficiently as to indicate pretty clearly how the popular pulse feels in regard to the principles it embodies.
Had there been an organized and active opposition to it, if they would have been sealed, but there was no such opposition, and only the reflecting, reading and thinking portion of our people voted, so that the majority for it may be taken as evidence that the old Constitution was not what exactly suited the present and prospective welfare of this noble old State. The Whigs can go to work now and do their duty like men, and the State will be safe for all time to come, but if we now allow the Locos to win the day and gives such tone and features to the policy of the new fundamental law as they see fit, or the doom of the suicide will be ours. From now out to the vote for the several offices of the State Government, the Whigs should take hold and work together like men determined to save themselves from ruin. There is a policy in war which sometimes wins the victory by peace and quiet, and a “masterly inactivity” is often best in contest where great principles are at stake; but we do not happily occupy such a position now, and we must rouse up to a great contest and work with an energy that resolves itself into victory.
Since writing you last, the “Spirit Rappers” have left us, and the great attraction has been a buffalo hunt by the tribe of Ottoe Indians on the Queen city race course. It came off on Monday last, and if anyone is now asked if he saw the “Buffalo hunt”the emphatic reply is “No sir-e-e-e.” Flaming handbills had been posted throughout the city and country for a week previous, announcing “a great attraction, “ “tremendous excitement, “ “terrific fight between the Ottoe Indians and the ferocious buffalo, “ together with a series of Indian sports, such as riding their own wild horses, mimic battles, running, wrestling, target shooting with bow and arrow, etc., etc., with other attractions too numerous to be mentioned. At the appointed time, Monday P.M., there had assembled in and around the race ground at least twelve thousand people, all eager and impatient to see the “wild sports of the West” as promised “in the bills.” Three o’clock came, and the excited crowd called for the beginning of the sports. At length, the Indians came down from the stand, armed with bows and arrows, spears and tomahawks for the fight. An old bull buffalo, that got to will to follow a menagerie that was here a few weeks since, had been “towed” behind a dray into the centre of the lot, and waiting to be cut loose. The Indians, five of them, mounted on some old dray horses, rode around the ‘huge animal” several times when the word was given to “cut him loose,” and the fund commenced. The “terrified monster,” feeling the rope withdrawn from his head, seemed suddenly relieved of the burthen and, instead of pitching into the half scared Indians, as was expected he would, he very leisurely “laid him down” to
“chaw his cud.” The multitude cheered, the Indians whooped after their savagest style, the little boys chucked rocks at the “monster,” but he would stir a peg. By this time the flimsy veil of the hunting was seen through, and a general scattering was observed among some who now say they “warn’t thar.” Nothing daunted, however, the Ingines at last plucked up courage to ride up close to the recumbent beast and shoot a few arrows into his back and sides, these pricked him up a little bit and he lazily got up, walked about five rods into a little frog whole of water and lay down again. The Indians be it said to their honor, were by this time disgusted at the silly turn of the affair, and rode off the field, leaving their pale faced brethren to pound and mall away at the deceased carcass of the “gigantic buffalo.” The crowd were well convinced now that a gigantic humbug had been practice upon them, for the band had stopped playing and vamoosed, the “officers of ceremonies” were nowhere to be “diskivered, “ and taking their cue from the general expression of those who remained to see the animal pounded to death, it was resolved to get up an “afterpiece” to the performance.
Accordingly, the carcass was loaded on a dray and attended by about five hundred boys, loafers and **blacks**, it was hauled through the principal streets of the city, the mob seeing and shouting as they went like so many demons. After perambulating the city in this manner, gathering up all the rowdies and loafers they could, the procession halted in front of Wood’s Museum, for the purpose, as they said, of depositing the remains of the buffalo “among his 600,000 wonderful curiosities. Here was a dilemma for their getters up of this stupendous fraud and humbug, that promised some real fun and no mistake, for objecting decidedly to move of the mob, a shower of stones, clubs, missiles, etc., was hurled at the door and windows of the Museum, accompanied with hisses and groans.
There could be no mistaking the spirit that dictated this kind of fun, and Messrs, Wood, Crisp & Co. began to see the elephant themselves. Mr. Wood try to speak in his own defense, but the mob would hear him, as they had seen crisp, Rice and others, be ongoing to the establishment, taking the direction of the sports in the field, and it was useless for Wood to talk unless he would pay back the fifty cents apiece to all who were out to the “buffalo hunt.”
Matters became serious, for clubs were flourished, knives were drawn and a general assault upon the Museum was apprehended, when, happily for “the buffalo hunters,” (Wood, Crisp & Co.) the Mayor, at the head of a body of the police, came up to the rescue.
The carcass of the Bison was taken in hand and, when some of the rowdies showed fight, several of them also, the mob began to fall off, and by ten o’clock all was quiet. The prompt and timely interference of the Mayor and police, doubtless prevented much destruction of property if not bloodshed, and the universal excitement among all classes during the afternoon and evening may serve as a warning in the future not to tamper too far with people’s gullibility.
Had that mob once got into the Museum it would have been destroyed as sure as fate, Norwood the lives of Wood, Crisp or Rice been very safe had they come within the reach of the furious rioters. Thus ended the ‘Wild sports of the West, “ and it is certainly to be hoped that when it’s like is again seen in this region, there will be ten thousand less fools then there were on this occasion; for we haven’t got a Barnum here in the West, and it’s no use trying to imitate him.
The Atlantic and Pacific Railway
From the London Daily News
Aug 12th, 1853
Our active American relatives are in a state of great eagerness about a new enterprise, in the execution of which all the civilized world will wished them well. They are now sounding the trumpet and marshaling their forces for war against dwellers on their own Continent, but promising the shriek of this steam whistle, and proposing to open a highway of peace, in the form of a railroad which shall unite the commerce of the Eastern and Western worlds;-which shall run from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It was remarked, with some curiosity, that while the convention held at Memphis, a few weeks since, could agree on none of the immediate objects of their conference, they came to a decision on one point, before supposed collateral, to support, with the whole strength of the South, the project of a railway to the Pacific. And the North and the West show themselves now no less ready and eager. With the unusual rapidity of their national purpose, they are bending their wells to people the deserts where the buffalo are browsing in innocent security, and to bridge the rivers which have hardly yet heard the mingling of human voices with their own roar. Land surveying, with its seven-league boots, is bestriding the prairies, and making no more of the passage of the Rocky Mountains than if there precipices were of flight of garden-steps, leading “to fresh fields and pastures new.” The foot-prints of the geometrical giant mark the spots where stations are presently to arise, and signal-post to left their warning fingers; and platforms to be laid down, whence the doctrine and exhortation will day and night be practically given forth – to “go a-head.” The Indian and the Buffalo will hide themselves afar off, and be equally at a loss to know what it all means. The prairie-dog will burrow deeper; and the herds of wild horses will scamper more wildly with the wind, when this steam-horse snorts and pants, and shrieks after them from behind. The Mormons will appoint a day of fast and humiliation, because they are not permitted to find the ends of the earth, any more than the Jews the and of their wandering. The whales will slink away from the Pacific shore, and on the opposite coast the Asiatic will come down to gaze and hearken, from the Russian in his furs to the Malay in his cotton scarf.
Will it be done? Can it be done? Why not? asked the Americans. The only wander to them is that it was not done long ago. The Englishman who once saw Pitt and Fox and on the first number of the Edinburg Review, says that he remembers the discovery of that American interior and the noise that was made by the travels of Lewis and Clarke, who describes such a region of wilderness as it is preposterous to suppose can begin to support habitation and traffic for a century to come. The American is saying, meantime, that his nation is growing as lazy as any of the Old World peoples, that Lewis and Clark had told us all about the interior of the continent so long ago as before his grandfather died. The whole thing should have been at work before this time, and he cannot imagine what the world is waiting for. The work will, no doubt, be begun. When and how it will be finished is a matter of more doubt; though it is probably only a question of time. The last Congress made an appropriation for that purpose of a triple survey of a western route; and now every Congress, great and small, from the halls of the Legislature to the village tea-table, is vociferously discussing the project. That the thing is to beat done is quite settled, and everybody insists that the success is no less decided. The mere settlement of the country along the route will pay for the road and “plant;“ and the goods and passenger traffic will be all profit. All that is disposed of, wish all the antecedents and consequences of increased production in the Southern States, increase manufacturers in the North; more hogs killed, by millions, in Ohio; more grain growers in the West then Tamboff could ever boast; visitors from Kamtschatka, and Shanghai, and Batavia, to the Virginian Springs; the transit of the Aragos and the Herschells, and Faradays through the States, to the scientific meetings which will be held at Peking when the Chinese get their own again: toll taken from the world is passing this new bridge over the gulf of barbarism; these res___ts are all clear and certain. It is quite another matter that engrosses all the serious argument of the case. In all soberness, it is a serious question – more serious one thing is often offered to man’s free choice. When the state what the question is, namely, which of the three proposed routes shall be preferred, the down is not about the difficulty of hill and dale, rot and swamp, nor even about the depth of the Rose and the intensity of the heats. Serious as such matters are to the engineer, the merchant, and the emigrant, there are greater considerations for the statesman to weigh. In a word, there is a deep and spreading feeling among the Americans that the completion of their Pacific Railway will bring to the test the stability of their Union; and the apprehension is seen by those who best know their country and their politics not to be unreasonable. If the northernmost route is chosen it will be sustained by the whole force of European immigration, which certainly would not be the case with the Southern route, which would not suit either the physical or the moral constitution of the Germans, Dutch, Swedes, and British, who are continually passing to the west of the States. The delegates who met at Memphis were charged with the advocacy of the Southern route, which should intersect with Texas and Mexico, and comes out on the Gulf of California. The most prominent hope from the latter scheme is that the South will at last flourish like the North, and have what the planters call “fair play” for their “peculiar institution.” The preponderance of the South in Congress has availed to give her prosperity; and she now know hands another chance in the first possession of her grandest railway in the world. It is interesting for all the world to know how far she is right. ____ world’s opinion is in general, we believe, that ____. The railroads and their activity, and slavery with its ____nalies, cannot coexist.
That is our opinion. ____should apprehend that there might be some extension southwestward of the institution of Slavery in the American form, from the activity which would be created along the line and at the end of it but we have little doubt that slavery would cease in the existing American States which are seeing on this new method of making it answer and it’s introduction further down the line would hardly, perhaps, be an aggravation of the ____ condition of those who would then be ______ and to which there would be a certainty of speedy emancipation from the same causes which would have wrought in higher up. We should heartily wish success to the south and her struggle of the road, if we did not believe the same re____ to her would follow in the case of the road be-
______ anywhere, while the danger of the extension of _____ area of Slavery is less in the case of the Northern route. Either way – any way in which a railroad is concerned, with all its influx of intelligence and sympathies – the transmutation of Slavery into a higher order of productive services is secure, as the South will find in her own case; will find, we trust, with the satisfaction she little anticipates. Meantime, the contest about the route is likely to be a serious one; and, when that is settled, the working of the project will be attended with extreme anxiety, till it is seen whether the interest and the views, and the temper of the North and South can be as reconciled in that time and ___ shall consolidate and not explode the Union, which can hardly be more dear to American citizens than it is interesting to all true citizens of the great empire of civilization.
The Fur Trade of America:
1854-1856 the raw furs collected at St. Paul averaged between $160,000 and $200,000 per annum. In 1856 shipments from St Paul comprised: Bison hides, 7,500; value $41,000.
NEW YORK DAILY TRIBUNE
August 4, 1856
THE BUFFALO, OR NORTH AMERICAN BISON
Very few persons who enjoy the comforts of a buffalo robe in the coldest Winter day, or hottest Summer night- for no bed or comfortable than a robe spread upon the floor or ground, in hot weather- ever take a thought that the animal that produced this luxury, like the beaver, otter, and deer, of our day, or like the mastodon of an ancient day, is rapidly disappearing from the face of the earth. Time was, and not very distant either, when buffaloes where as plenty in Kentucky as they now are upon the prairies of Northern Nebraska; and the time is so short since herds the buffaloes surrounded the head of Lake Michigan, that their bones are still bleaching upon the surface, or have just been turned under by the pioneers plowshare. Some persons suppose those animals are driven back by the advance of civilization. So they are; but it is back like that aboriginal human race of America – back to the “spirit land,” from whence no traveler ever returned. If they are driven back, they are now driven into a cul-de-sac, out of which there is no escape, and in which there is no continued existence for the hunted beast. That the wild Buffalo must perish, and be swept away from the face of the earth, is as inevitable as it is that the mastodon has already gone, or that the Indian is going.
It is as inevitable that we shall all lose the comfort, luxury and convenience of the skins of the buffaloes, as it is that they are passing away, unless something is soon done to invert the loss. What that something is, is the question now to be considered. The animals cannot exist in the wild state, hemmed in by savage white men and mixed up with red savages, both intent upon obeying one single text Scripture, “Slay and eat.” The savage slays to eat; the white Savage eats and slays, and slays again, for the “sport” of being a destroyer.
The only source of life, the soul dependence for subsistence of many thousands of Indians, are the herds of buffaloes, narrowed into a compass, growing smaller and almost geometrical proportion every year; and it is beyond human belief to suppose that men thus situated will spare the seed, though they perished for the lack of the harvest.
For the protection of deer and other wild game and all the older States all statute laws have proved ineffectual. Such laws would prove still more ineffectual to protect the buffalo against such “‘border ruffians”and in fast the one between Savage and civilized life. Laws do not suffice to protect human life, not only and civilized communities, but among those who claim to be the very pink of chivalry of civilization.
What can be done to reserve the future generations the luxurious comfort of the skins and buffaloes. The wild animals cannot continue to exist – they cannot be domesticated and prosper. They may be penned – they may breed in captivity – but they are still wild animals. They have never been tamed so as to prove advantageous to the farmer. Still, we believe they can be bred as to be so. Readers have succeeded by what they term crossing, and producing bullocks more like the original than the buffalo is unlike the domesticated bovine race. In short, a breeder sets out to obtain any desired point, and obtains it. The finest Saxony fleece has been obtained by breeding for fine wool. The long, fine staple procured by Bakewell, by systematic course of breeding the common sheep of England, has been improved upon by others, till the value not only of the fleece, but also of the carcass has been increased many fold, and brought to almost perfection at the will of those who guided the operation.
What has been done, can be done again. The North American bison, or buffalo, as commonly called, can be crossed upon the bovine race of England and America, with the sole view to breed for the fleece, until a domestic race is obtained that will give them those who live after the last wild buffalo has been slain better roads than those now in use, while the flesh of the animal, like that of the fine wooled sheep, will still be good food; or, as beast of labor, a race may be obtained more hardy than the one that we now depend upon for the vast amount of work done by the patient ox.
How much better worthy other premium of $50,000 with such an improvement be, then that some frittered away and prices for the largest parsnips, or biggest cabbage heads, or most obese specimens of the genus sus?
Will the State Agricultural Society of the State of New York take this subject into consideration, and offers such a liberal premium, payable at the end of ten years, and will induce some of the spirited cattle breeders, not only of this State but all the states including the Free State that is to be near the buffalo region, to take the matter in hand and produce a breed of cattle that will furnish future generations with “improved” buffalo robes?
The _Buffalo Daily Republic NY Dec.30,1856
Bellevue Gazette, Bellevue Nebraska, May 21 1857
The Emporia Weekly Jul 25 1857
Reedsburg Herald, Wisconsin Nov 14 1857
Pittsburgh Daily Post , Feb 15 1858
The Abbeville Banner
April 1 1858
Life on the Plains – Herds of Buffalo
A member of Company C, 1st Cavalry, U.S. Army, recently arrived at Fort Leavenworth from an expedition on Western plains, write as follows to his father in Springfield, Illinois: “We had an interesting expedition, but I have had no time to particularize any of the many interesting scenes and incidents. Suffice for the present to say, that we traveled over two thousand miles, and saw some of the most splendid picturesque and beautiful country to be found anywhere, and some of the wildest and most desolate country outside the great desert. We saw, chased, killed cooked and ate, buffalo, elk, antelope, deer, hares, rabbits, turkeys, etc. Of buffalo we saw millions, and very near the same number of antelope. For nine days of our travel we passed through one continuous herd of buffalo: The whole country was literally blackened with them as far as the eye could reach daily. We had to surround our camp with fires at night, to keep from being over run by mighty herds of this wonderful animal.”
NATIONAL INTELLIGENCER, Washington, D.C., Aug. 12, 1858
A Skirmish with the Buffaloes
An officer of the Army, writing from the camp on the Platte, says: “ On the forth day of July we first struck the buffalo. The excitement was intense. The recruits, in their enthusiasm, broke through discipline, and blazed away at a small herd crossing the road in front of them. Some three or four bulls ran parallel to a light battery, when the artillerist commenced peppering them with Colt’s revolvers. Stung by these leaden pellets, the animals wheeled in line and charged the battery with the most warlike intentions. Down they came with glancing eyes, and away went the horses and pieces in the most inglorious manner. One piece ran to the rear, and another struck off a quarter of a mile into the prairie before the affrighted horses became manageable. The dragoons and infantry of course had a hearty laugh as the vanquished artillery: but had they been charged, one-half of the former would probably have found a seat somewhere else, and the latter scattered rapidly, without standing at all on the order of their going. Indeed, if there is any military combination, composed of flesh and blood, capable of solidly withstanding the charge of an infuriated herd of buffalo, I have yet to find it out.”
Richmond Dispatch, Virginia Sep 16, 1858
Pennsylvania Dec. 15 1858
ADVENTURE WITH A BUFFALO.
BT CAPTAIN MAYNE REID.
We were near the Arkansas river on a hunt..For several days we had been unsuccessful.
One evening, after we had camped as usual, and my brave horse had eaten his “bite” of corn, I leaped into the saddle, and rode off in hopes of finding something fresh for supper. The prairie where we halted was a rolling, and as the camp had been fixed “on a small stream, between two great swells, it was not visible at any great distance. As soon therefore as I had crossed one of the ridges, I was out of sight of my companions. Trusting to the sky for my direction, I continued on.
After riding about a mile, I should think, I came upon a buffalo “sign,” consisting of several circular holes in the ground, five or six feet in diameter, known as buffalo “wallows.” I saw at a glance that the sign was fresh. There were several wallows; and I could tell by the tracks in the dust, there had been buffalos in that quarter. So I continued on in hopes of getting a sight of the animals that had been wallowing.
I had ridden full five miles from camp, when my attention was attracted by an odd noise ahead of me. There was a ridge in front that prevented me from seeing what produced the noise; but I knew what it was it was the bellowing of a buffalo.
At intervals there were quick shocks, as of two hard substances coming in violent contact with each other.
I mounted the ridge with caution, and looked over its crest. There was a valley beyond; a cloud of dust was rising out of its bottom, and in the midst of this I could distinguish two huge forms, dark and hirsute.
I saw at once they were a couple of buffalos, engaged in a fierce fight. They were alone; no others were in sight, either in the valley or on the prairie beyond.
I did not halt longer than to see that the cap was on my rifle and to cock the piece. Occupied as the animals were, I did not imagine they would heed me; or, if they should attempt flight, I knew I could easily overtake one or the other, so without farther hesitation or precaution, I rode toward them.
Contrary to my expectation, they both “winded” me, and started off. The wind was blowing freshly toward them, and the sun had thrown my shadow between them so as to draw their attention.
They did not run, however, as if badly scared; on the contrary, they went off apparently indignant at being disturbed in their fight and every now and then both came with short turnings, snorted, and struck, the prairie with their hoofs in a violent and angry manner.
Once or twice, I fancied they were going to charge upon me; and had I been otherwise than well mounted, I should have been chary of risking such an encounter. A more formidable pair of antagonists, as far as appearance went, could not well have been conceived. Their huge size, their shaggy fronts, and fierce glaring eye-balls gave them a wild and malicious seeming, which was heightened by their bellowing, and the threatening attitudes in which they continually placed themselves.
Feeling quite safe in my saddle, I galloped up to the nearest and sent my bullet into his ribs. It did the work. He fell to his knees rose again spread out his legs as if to prevent second fall -rocked from side to side like a cradle again he came to his knees, and after remaining in this position for some minutes, with the blood running from his nostrils, rolled over on his shoulder and lay dead.
I had watched these maneuvers with interest, and permitted the second one to make his escape; a single glance had shown me the latter disappearing over the crest of the swell.
I did not care to follow him, as my horse was jaded, and I knew it would cost me a sharp gallop to come up with him again; so I thought no more of him at the time, but alighted, and prepared to deal with the one already slain. While cutting him up, my horse broke his tether and scoured away. At the same moment, the other buffalo came back full drive at me.
Now, for the first time, it occurred to me that I was in something of a scrape. The buffalo was coming furiously on. I had fortunately reloaded my rifle. Should my shot miss, or even should it only wound him, how was I to escape? I knew that he could overtake me in three minutes’ stretch I knew that well.
I had not much time for reflection not a moment, in fact; the infuriated animal was within ten paces of me, I raised my rifle, aimed at his fore shoulder and fired.
I saw that I had hit him, but to my dismay, he neither fell nor stumbled, but continued to charge forward more furiously than ever. To reload was impossible. My pistols had gone off with my horse and holsters. Even to reach the tree was impossible; the buffalo was between it and me.
To make off in the opposite direction was the only thing that held out the prospect of five minutes’ safety; I turned and ran. The buffalo came after me.
At this moment an object appeared “before me, that promised, one way or another, to interrupt the chase; it was a ditch or gulley, that intersected my path at right angles It was several feet in depth, dry at the bottom, and with perpendicular sides.
I was almost upon its edge before I noticed it, but the moment it came under my eye, I saw that it offered the means of a temporary safety at least. If I could only leap this gulley I was satisfied, for I knew that the buffalo could not.
It was a sharp leap at least seventeen feet from cheek to cheek but I had done more than that in my time, and without halting in my gait, I ran forward to the edge and sprang over. I alighted cleverly upon the opposite bank, and stopped and turned round to watch my pursuer. I now ascertained how near my end I had been; the buffalo was already up to the verge of the gulley. Had I not made my leap at the instant, I should have been by that time dancing upon his horns. He himself had balked in the leap; the deep and chasm like cleft had cowed him. He saw that he could not clear it, and now stood up on the opposite bank with head lowered, and spread nostrils, his tail lashing his brown flanks, while his glaring black eyes expressed the full measure of his baffled rage.
I remarked that my shot had taken effect upon his shoulder, as the blood trickled from his long hair. –
I bad almost begun to congratulate myself on having escaped, when a hurried glance to the right, and another to the left cut short ray happiness. I saw on both sides, at a distance of less than fifty paces, the gulley swallowed out into the plain where it ended, and either end of it was, of course, passable. The buffalo observed this almost at the same time as
myself and, suddenly turning away from the brink, he ran along the edge of the chasm, evidently with the intention of turning it.
In less than a minutes time we were once more on the same side, and my situation appeared as terrible as ever; but, stepping back for a short run, I releaped the chasm; and again we stood on opposite sides of the gully.
During all this time I had held on to my rifle; and seeing now that I might have time to load it, I commenced feeling for my powder horn. To my astonishment I could not lay my hands upon it. I looked down to my breast for the sling it was not there; belt and bullet pouch, too all was gone! I remembered lilting them over my head, when I set about cutting up the dead buffalo. They were lying by the carcass.
This discovery was a new source of chagrin; but for my negligence, I could now have mastered my antagonist.
To reach the ammunition would be impossible; I should be overtaken before getting half way to it. I was not allowed much time to indulge in my regrets; the buffalo had again turned the ditch, and was once more upon the same side with me.
I took a tree, however, and sprang up it like a mountebank; but the hot breath of the buffalo steamed after me as I ascended, and the concussion of his heavy skull against the trunk of the tree almost shook me back upon his horns.
After a severe effort of climbing, I succeeded, in lodging myself among the branches. I was now safe from all immediate danger, but how was the affair to end?
I knew, from the experience of others, that my enemy might stay for hours by the tree-perhaps for days.
Hours would be enough. I could not stand it long. I had already hungered, but a worse appetite began to torture me – thirst. The hot sun, the dust, the violent exercise of the past hour, all contributed to make me thirsty.
Even then would I have risked life for a drink of water. What would it come too, should relief not come?
I remained for a long time busied with these gloomy thoughts and fore-bodings. Night was approaching, but the fierce and obstinate brute exhibited no disposition to raise the siege. He remained watchful as ever, walking round and round at intervals ; lashing his tail and bellowing.
Good luck! There was a rope left by some hunter, attached to the trunk of the tree. The first step was to get possession of it. This was not such an easy matter. The rope was fastened to the tree, but the knot had slipped down the trunk and lay upon the ground. I dared not defend for it. Necessity soon suggested a plan.
My “picker” -a piece of straight wire with a ring end hung from one of my breast buttons. This I took hold of, and bent into the shape of a grappling hook. I had no cord, but my knife was still in its sheath; and drawing this, cut several thongs from the skirt of my buckskin shirt, and knotted them together till they formed a string long enough to reach the ground. To one end I attached the picker and then letting it down, caught the loose end of the rope. I could depend upon it; it was a raw hide and better never was twisted; but I knew that if anything’ should chance to slip at a critical moment, it might cost me my life. With this knowledge, therefore, I spliced it for a lasso with all the pains-taking that a man, whose life was actually “on the cast,’- might be supposed to bestow on his last resource, the efficiency of which could be increased or lessened by
his own act.
Everything being ready, my next difficulty was to fix myself in such a position that I could whirl my lasso clear of the tree, with some hopes of casting it over the buffalo’s neck, and still at the same time not so far compromise my own safety as, in case of an unsuccessful cast, to be in reach of the enraged animal, who would now most surely defeat me in
any contest involving a trial of speed ; for my long continued and cramped position astride the cotton-wood limb I was perfectly aware, prevented any hope of success by that mode of escape.
Soon I made a clear place from which to whirl my lasso, and clambered out on the projecting limb as far as it was prudent to do so, considering that my stand point must be firm and secure, and having attained a position I deemed most favorable, under the circumstances, I in turn became the watcher, and never did grimalkin fix her keen eyes more warily upon the doomed mouse than did I keep a sharp watch upon every move and turn of the enraged beast who was bellowing below me.
At length, wearying of my position, night coming on apace, and being both hungry and parched with thirst, I determined to make the attempt, which, if successful, would free me from my enemy, or if it failed would entail a fate no worse than death from starvation, from cold, or thirst, from all united.
Gathering the rope carefully in my lap as I sat astride the limb, I coiled it up in rings held loosely in my left hand; and pulling hard upon the other end, was cheered by the conviction that it was secure around the trunk, and could I but succeed in throwing it as I had often done before, I need have no fears of the result.
I cast my lasso, the coils of which, after describing enlarged circles in the air, descended upon the back of the buffalo, while the inner and smaller one, which contained the fatal noose, providentially encircled his neck.
Quick as thought I lowered myself to the ground, taking care to reach it on the side of the tree opposite to where the buffalo was, in order to gain a moment’s time, and also that by his making a circle he must naturally wind a portion of the rope around the turn and thus strengthen the bold on the end of the lasso.
No sooner had I reached the ground than the buffalo, uttering a most terrific snort, his eye glaring like balls of fire, bounded at me, and I felt his hot breath close to my cheek, and the very earth shaking beneath my feet with the maddened tread. I had given myself up for lost. And after running a few yards, I realized the maddening conviction that my limbs were paralyzed with cold and badly cramped for want of exertion, and I sunk helpless to the earth, expecting the brute to crush me out of existence with his huge paws, when I was astonished to find myself alone and unharmed.
Curiosity, however, or rather a desire to be assured of my safety, prompted me to look around, when to my joy I beheld the huge monster stretched on the plain. I could see the rope as tight as a bowstring; and the tongue, protruding from the animal’s jaws, showed me that he was strangling himself as fast as I could desire.
At the sight, the thought of buffalo tongue for supper returned with all its vigor ; and it now occurred to me that I should eat that very tongue and no other.
I immediately turned in my tracks, ran toward my powder and balls which in my eagerness to escape, I had forgotten all about seized my horn and pouch, poured in a charge, rammed down a bullet, and then stealing nimbly up behind the still struggling buffalo, I placed the muzzle within three feet of his brisket, and fired. He gave a death kick or two and then lay quiet; it was all over with him. And so it was with my adventure.
The Belvidere Standard
Belvidere, Illinois Nov. 15, 1859
A fight between a buffalo and a grizzly bear recently came off at Washington, Yolo county, Cal. The performance took place within an enclosed circle. A stout steak was driven in the centre of the enclosure, to which the grizzly was attached on one side by a heavy chain, and the buffalo on the other in like manner. Previous to the contest the animals were confined in cages, from which they were dragged with lassos. The grizzly appeared frightened at first sight of the bison, and turning tail, crept under his cage. The buffalo, however, seem that goaded to a strange, wild fury, pursued his retreating antagonist with such a bellowing that the bear was fain to show fight, and sees in his enemy by the hind foot, bringing the first blood. The second and resulting in a draw battle, neither animal being hurt. At the third lunge, the buffalo drove his horns into the belly of the poor bruin, disemboweling hand and causing the death of the beast in a few minutes. The spectacle, says the Sacramento Standard, was a brutal and degrading one. About a hundred and fifty people witnessed it.
Cincinnati Daily Express Jan 27 1860-Buffalo Robes
Dawson Weekly Times
Ft. Wayne, Indiana Jan. 28 1860
OUR HUNTING GROUNDS
The New York correspondent to the Philadelphia Press gives his last letter the following gossip:
The rapidly increasing number of noblemen and gentlemen were visiting the prairies in wilds of the West for sporting purposes, has stimulated the curiosity and enthusiasm of their brother Nimrods across the channel. Henceforth the Briton is not to be the exclusive “red slayer” from foreign parts, of the deer and the doe, the buck and bison, and the “varmints” of the catamount species generally, that roam over the vast illimitable space out West. His enterprises and marksmanship are to be contested by the gentleman of France one of whom, in the spirit of true adventure, is already here, and proposes soon to set the rudder of his countenance towards the place where the sun sets.
The gentleman to whom I allude is Mr. Charles Heidsick, whose name on cartridges of a liquid character is familiar to the generous and thirsty souls of this land. He brings with him several specimens of beautiful and improved arms, and, as soon as the proper season beckons him on, will depart on his sanguinary raid against the beast of the field and the fowls of the air that hold habitation amid the rocky fastnesses and great prairies of the West. The history of the hunters; yet been written, will form of volume alike spiced with adventure, instruction and amusement. Our readers may perhaps remember Lord Gore, who remained nearly three years on the plains, and upon the plateau of the table lands between the Sierra Madre and Sierra Nevada. From the character of the retinue thirty men, sixty horses, large baggage and provisions trains, tons of ammunition, and $10,000 worth of improved firearms – he was the most formidable enemy of game-dom ever in those parts. Numerous other English nobleman, and officers, and private gentleman have been over the same ground, proving that England up to this time, has furnished more appreciative sportsmen than any foreign country. From the continent there came, some five years since, the Prince of Nassau, who, a prince in character as well as in name on his travels amongst us in complete until he roamed to the land of the buffalo, and brought down his “bull and cow.” I need not to allude to Mr. Grantley Berkeley, whose exploits have latterly found their way to the public through the press. We now have the first envoy from the sporting gentlemen of France.
Pittston Gazette-Pittston, Pa.-April 26 1860
How Animals Cool Off
(This article was printed years earlier and later)
The Plymouth Weekly Democrat- Feb 9 1860
The New York Times April 14 1860
List of Circus Animals
The Emporia Weekly, Kansas
Aug 25 1860
A TRIP TO THE GREAT PLAINS
From Emporia to the Arkansas and Back.
BY J.M. WATSON
We all dismounted and stretched ourselves out upon the grass. This is the practice, as I have observed, of all travelers on the prairie; the moment they stop, they lay down. Whilst thus resting, and waiting for the teams to come up, our Nimrod continued to enlighten me upon the subject of buffalo hunting. “Now the buffalo, “ said he, “is a curious animal. If the wind blows from you towards him, he will smell you three miles off, and will make tracks; but if the wind is from hand towards you, you may walk right up to within half a mile of him; and he will never notice you, especially if you are dressed right. He will be most apt to notice something white, black or red. You can always hunt buffalo most successfully where the country is broken; you can then crawl up ravines, or around sand-hills, and get close to them; but in a level country it is pretty hard work, in a hot day. I get the wind side of them, and such a place as this, and walk straight towards them, until I get to within about half a mile; I then get down on my hands and knees, and coon it along till I get within something less than a quarter of a mile of them; I then lay flat down on my belly and crawl, reaching for words with my elbows, and pushing up with my knees, somewhat like a frog swimming.
Afraid of rattlesnakes? No, I often come upon them; but they are a polite kind of snake; they always give you warning when you get within a yard or so of them. I just crawl around them and let them be. In this way I can get to within a few rods of a herd of buffalo, and am often enabled to shoot; though I said he was a mighty big animal, yet the killing spot is not much larger than my two hands. A low shot will do, if the ball is large; but to hit him in the heart, you should have a just behind the four-shoulder, pretty low down; try to take him when he is stepping for wards with the lake next to you. The Indians do nearly all of their hunting on horseback. They ride right into a herd, and dash along with it; select the buffalo they want, and kinder work him cut from the others, and then they will get round him and bring him close to their camp before they shoot him. The red devils are mighty good shots. They generally bring him down the first crack, putting an arrow plump through his heart; and this is done whilst their horses are on full run. I never try to kill buffalo on horseback, unless I do it for sport; for you see it’s pretty dangerous kind of business. When you get into a herd that way, you have to dash right along with them, or they will run over you and trample you to death. Some times when you are chasing a bull, he will start as quick as lightning at your horse, and if he hasn’t been pretty well trained, he is sure to be a gone sucker. I once saw a buffalo bull toss a horse and rider up into the air, and they landed more than a rod behind him. The horses bowels fell out; but the writer was more frightened than hurt. If the horse is used to it, he will watch the buffalo and dodge him; but you have got to watch your horse or the first thing you know you will be on the broad of your back, and perhaps a thousand buffalo trampling you to death. You see that was the way I got this rifle-stock broke. I was writing full split at the head of a herd of buffalo, trying to turn them, one a bull made a sudden dart — but here comes the wagons. Now, boys, you just hold on here whilst Simpson and I file off to the right, so as to get the wind of that herd, and we will have some buffalo for supper.”
When I was brought within discriminating distance of a herd of buffalo, I confess I was somewhat surprised and excited. They looked much larger than I expected they would. They seem to be all in motion— some chasing others, some pawing the ground, and some fighting. To me they looked like a herd of elephants; the bellowing made by these huge monsters was truly terrific. I imagine the gurgling grunt of a dying hog, the roar of an infuriated lion, and the bellowing of a bull, all blended together, and swelled out to three times their natural volume, and you can form some idea of the noise made by a herd of buffalo.— Our attention was directed towards a couple of bulls who were fighting most furiously. Their heads and contact, and tails tossing defiantly in the air — now goring, now pushing, first one yielding to the impetuous fury of his adversary and then the other, sometimes tossing up the ground until they were enveloped in a cloud of dust.
Our hunters neglecting their usual caution, approached too near before commencing the crawling process, and word discovered by the herd, which soon made a glorious stampede. Our belligerent bulls were the last, however, to leave the ground.
We all moved on again. As soon as I had joined our hunters, I was promoted (for my exceeding good conduct in the late hunt) to the important post of guide, and directed to steer to the left of that “solitary tree,” already spoken of. The hunters took a course a little south of ours, with the understanding that if they succeeded in killing a buffalo, they would signal us to come to them. I rode back to the wagons and informed the teamsters of this new arrangement. Soon after this you might have seen me with an arm full of long, white bones (buffalo ribs) which I was to stick in the ground when I came to wet ravines, to indicate where the wagons should cross.”
I believe it was that prince of wits, and wit of princes, the valiant and philosophical Sir John Falstaff, who first discovered the fact that there were three modes of arising at greatness. Some are born great, some acquire greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. It became a question in my mind to which of these causes I owned my present elevated and highly responsible situation. It was not inherited– I was not born a scout, that I soon settled but whether it was the reward of some peculiar merit, or whether it had been thrust, noless volens, upon me, was a master I could not so easily determine. While cogitating upon this grave problem, I was startled by a noise at my right. On looking around, I perceived a Wolf within a few rods of me, on the opposite side of the ravine I was following. There is something in our nature that will not brook defiance, whether exhibited by man or beast; and I confess I felt something like a flash of indignation passed through me when I saw the impudent rascal seat himself and gaze upon me in a manner that said, as plain as tongue could speak, “Who cares for you?” I guess I’d make you care if I had a rifle, you slobbering brute! I’d stop your sides from panting that way, if I only had the pepper-box pistol here, you miserable prairie chicken thief! Be off, you infernal red tongued varmint! You won’t eh? I’ll bone you for a race, then! With this I hurled a buffalo rib at him, and at the same time gave “Comanche” the spur — dashed across the ravine and away we went, John Gilpin like; but I soon perceived that poor Billy was getting the worst of the bargain — he would never be able to overtake the wolf carrying my weight, and if he did it might not be altogether safe to come to close quarters with no other weapon than a buffalo rib. So I gave up the chase, and resumed the duties of the guide. I had scarcely got into the course again when, looking around, I perceived a herd of buffalo about two miles to my left. Well knowing that Snider would never pass without seeing them, I drew up and waited for the wagons to come up. In due time the teams arrived. We all kept our eyes fixed upon the buffalo, expecting every moment to hear the report of a gun. At length our tall Hoosier got upon a box or barrel and the wagon and informed us that he saw Snider crawling, and that he was near the herd. Just then we heard a report from his rifle — then another (his was double barreled.) At each report there would be a little stir among them, and then they would seem to huddle up together. He shot five times before they stampeded. Two were brought down and two were wounded and ran off. The two killed were a cow and bull. The latter received two shots before he yielded the ghost. A couple of the horsemen pursued after the wounded buffalos with Navy revolvers.—-They soon returned and informed us that they had succeeded in getting one of them — that he lay some two or three miles off. We took out the tallow and selected a few choice pieces from the two buffalo here, (thinking it would be too much out of our way to go after the other) and then hurried back into our course, and resumed our journey. Snider taking the place of guide again. I took a berth in the wagon, and Master Coke mounted Billy and rode on with the hunters.
In the foregoing, as in many other instances, I have endeavored to give all those little particulars which would interest your juvenile readers, to gratify whom is my principal object in writing out these sketches.
An hour or so after the events just mentioned had transpired, we observed a large herd of buffalo before us and rather to the right. They were in full chase when we first noticed them, and appeared to be about a mile off. They were moving south-east and this brought them in full view of us. We stopped our teams and gazed on the novel and exceedingly exciting spectacle before us. The immense herd came thundering along, looking like so many demons of the prairie — the very earth trembling beneath their tread. Two horsemen were in pursuit, and as the wind blew the dust partially away we were enabled to identify them; it was Simpson and Master Coke. What mad freak are they up to? They seem to be running a race, and the buffalo with them. Now the buffalo and horsemen are all in developed in a cloud of dust. Ah! There they come again! They are more than half way along the herd. Simpson holds up, and Coke darts ahead. Comanche is inspired with speed and gains upon the herd at every lope. Good God! He is in their midst – no, now they raise again, and there is Coke side-by-side with the bull that leads the van. Now, God help the Billy! Hooray for Coke! And, hooray I mentally exclaimed, for Young America! May it always succeed in what it undertakes! And may it ever be thus successful in controlling the herd! The herd was turned in its course towards the southwest , forming a crescent as it passed out of view —- Coke and Billy still at its head. The teamsters started off in a direction to intercept them.
Some two hours after this, we observed Coke again on Billy, at his full speed, to our right, heading off and antelope, which he succeeded in accomplishing most gallantly. The young antelope was thus driven within the range of our Nimrod’s rifle, and, as almost a matter of course, doomed to help make up our evenings repast. Just as Snider through the dead antelope into one of the wagons, Master Coke, in his shirt sleeves, collar open, and ruddy with excitement, came loping his pony toward us, singing, as he came.
“All chase the antelope over the plain,
And the Tigers cub all bind with the chain;
The wild gazelle, with its silvery feet,
I’ll give the for a playmate sweet.”
It was on this occasion that he was voted “Nimrod Junior.”
After we passed the divide, there appeared a perceptible change of soil, stone, flowers, etc., — So much so, that one might imagine himself in another country. We passed several (now dry) tributaries of Sand Creek, and made our encampment at the mouth of this stream, on the Little Arkansas. Having fasted since morning, we had more than a prairie appetite for our supper. We feasted on antelope and buffalo, cooked in the various modes are appetites and caprice suggested — broiled, fried, stewed, etc. Our Nimrod’s first course consisted of a plate full of fried “Santa Fe oysters.” — Santa Fe oysters? What are they? Well, no matter — hunters know, and you should not be to particular in your inquiries suffice it for us to say, they are found numerous lay on the plains — twice as plenty as buffalo bulls! This is a favorite dish with hunters.
We were now in a buffalo region, and on the borders of Indian Territory, hence more care and circumspection in our movements seem to be demanded. Something like military order was established. Two were detailed to watch the cattle, to be relieved in a certain time by two others, and so on, until the cattle were filled; firing off guns and pistols in camp for bid,dre. At bed-time the cattle, having filled themselves, were brought in and chained to the wagon wheels, or bushes nearby. Frequently through the night some one of our company would pass around and see that our horses and cattle were safe. From this time on, we never relaxed our diligence, and the result was we returned safely with all our stock, a thing of rather unusual occurrence. The most domicile cattle seem to change as soon as they get into a buffalo region, and become wild, restive, and disposed to be unruly. If a herd of buffalo run into them, or nearby, even when corralled, they will, unless well secured, break loose and run off with the herd; and when they are the next with buffalo, they are seldom retaken; and this, to some extent, is the case with horses and mules. Indians often stampede your horses and cattle, and afterwards pick them up and appropriate them to their own use. These dexterous tricks are perhaps often played off by vagabond white men at the Indians expense. Constant care and watchfulness are indispensable. Never permit your horses or cattle to be beyond your control, even in the daytime, whilst on the plains; and at night be sure to have them brought in and made fast to your wagon.
No man’s dignity can withstand the shafts of ridicule. My standing in our little community came very near being seriously effected by a matter which I mention merely to show how a man’s brightest prospects may be overshadowed by the veriest trifles. On completing one of my rounds to – night, I reposted four horses and seventeen cattle. “That cannot be,” someone replied; “we have but sixteen cattle, including the bull.” “Ah! I see how it is, said a young wag: “the old gentleman is right— the bull has had a calf! I thought there was something going to happen with him when we un-yoked this evening.” This was said with much mock gravity, and brought down a perfect roar at my expense, and it required all the dexterity and skill I could summon to my aid to avoid being a butt for a few days; but after all, perhaps I owed my escape more to their politeness than my own skill.
I will say, for the benefit of those who may hereafter camp at this place, that there are plenty of catfish here in the Little Arkansas, and they seem right willing to be caught.
Here we began to encounter the sand. Sand Creek, with its sand bottom and sand banks; sand hills, sand plains stand, sand, external sand, from this time on!