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Natives and White Hunters Compete

Buffalo Hunting
Harpers Weekly 1867 

Nearly every railroad train which leaves or arrives at Fort Hays on the Kansas Pacific Railroad has its race withRailroad Buffalo Hunting these herds of buffalo; and a most interesting and exciting scene is the result. The train is “slowed” to a rate of speed about equal to that of the herd; the passengers get out fire-arms which are provided for the defense of the train against the Indians, and open from the windows and platforms of the cars a fire that resembles a brisk skirmish. Frequently a young bull will turn at bay for a moment. His exhibition of courage is generally his death-warrant, for the whole fire of the train is turned upon him, either killing him or some member of the herd in his immediate vicinity.

When the ‘hunt’ is over the buffaloes which have been killed are secured, and the choice parts placed in the baggage-car, which is at once crowded by passengers, each of whom feels convinced and is ready to assert that his was the shot that brought down the game. Ladies who are passengers on the trains frequently enjoy the sport, and invariably claim all the game as the result of their prowess with the rifle. This solution of the case is, of course, accepted by all gentlemen, and a more excited party of Dianas it would be impossible to imagine.


Colonel Dodge said in 1867, “Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.”
The Junction City Weekly Union
Junction City, Kansas Mar 9, 1867


It was ascertained last evening that the bill regulating freight and passage on Railroads, after it had been signed by the Governor and filed with the Secretary of State, and copied for the printer, was recalled by the Senate and its further consideration indefinitely postponed. The enrolled bill is supposed to be destroyed. A certified copy is in the hands of the Secretary of State, and the House by resolution requested him to publish it, and he will do so. It will make a nice lawsuit to test the matter as to whether it is a law or not.

The bill to make Railroads liable for injury to stock and repairing them to fence in their track within a certain number of years failed to become a law by its not receiving the signature of the Governor. By its own terms the company would have been bound to have constructed fences out on the Buffalo range, which would have been manifestly injust. While it is the duty of the Legislature to protect the people, it is also their duty to do no act of injustice to our Railroads. We wish capital to build our roads and must so legislate as to attracted here and not drive it away. – Topeka Record

May 1867

……Officers in the Seventh Cavalry and other regiments were also fond of holding contests to determine which individual or team could kill the most buffalo in a specified time or under prearranged conditions. Katherine Gibson, wife of Captain Francis M. Gibson of the Seventh, remembered a ten-day shooting contest in which several officers and “a squad of enlisted men” from Fort Totten, in Dakota Territory, participated. Seventh Cavalry officers arranged another competitive hunt in May 1867 near Fort Hays in which two teams, each composed of eight officers, competed. The rules agreed upon were that on different days each team would leave camp at sunrise and return at sunset with its haul of tongues, the proof of the number of buffalo downed. The winning team brought in twelve tongues; the losers, who had to dine
the victors, collected eleven.20 In that instance the participants’ inexperience at buffalo hunting kept the kill quite low.

Katherine Gibson Fougera, With Custer’s Cavalry (1940; reprint, Lincoln, 1986),
144-45; Wayne Gard, The Great Buffalo Hunt (Lincoln, 1959), 64; Utley, ed., Life in Custer’s Cavalry,


The Freeman’s Journal
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland  06 Aug 1867


The pair of bisons at present in the gardens are unusually fine specimens of these fierce animals. They come from Taymouth castle, having been presented to the society by the late Marquis of Breadalbane, (Scotland) who had collected a large herd of bison”, as well as many other foreign animals, and acclimatized them on his beautiful estate. It was not until a year and a half after permission had been given to remove these animals from Taymouth that they were deposited in their present quarters, as the separation of a pair from the large herd of fifty or more can only be accomplished at particular times of the year, and even then may prove too dangerous to be attempted. The bison is an inhabitant of North America and attains a size much exceeding that of the largest breeds of our common oxen, A large hump extending from the shoulders for some distance along the back gives to the fore-quarters the appearance of being raised higher than the hind, although the limbs-are of equal length. This protuberance does not merely consist, as in the Zebu or Indian ox of which there is a fine specimen in the gardens of flesh and fat, but is supported by an actual elongation of the spinous processes of the vertebra) beneath it is covered, as well as the greater part of the head, the neck, and the shoulder, by a thick, shaggy coat of coarse woolly hair, forming a kind of mane. The rest of the body is clothed with short, close, curling hair, which in summer falls off almost entirely exposing the black wrinkled hid beneath. The animals congregate in herds, some-times consisting of many thousands, upon the open prairies of North America; when attacked they take to flight, apparently ignorant of their great strength. Hunters in danger of perishing from thirst avail themselves of a peculiar formation in the stomach of these animals, which enables them somewhat in the same way as the camel to retain a supply of water for a long time, and kill them for the sake of the precious draught. The flesh of the hump, the tongue, and the marrow bones are the parts most approved of by the hunters, who, after the removal of these parts, generally leave the rest of the carcass to the birds and wolves. The latter invariably attend the hunter at a respectful distance, not molesting him or his horse, knowing that by a little patience they will secure an ample meal. A species of bison called the Aurochs (a corruption of Aurochs, the mountain bison) was formerly abundant in Europe, being dispersed through Germany, and found in the south of Sweden. These animals are now confined to a single European district, the marshy forest of Bialowieska, in Lithuania, where they are strictly preserved by the Emperor of Russia. It is remarkable that in the common ox the number of ribs, on either side is thirteen, in the Polish aurochs it is fourteen, and in the American bison fifteen. The bison is quite a different animal from the buffalo, although the names are frequently confounded; the city of Buffalo, on the shores of Lake Erie, owing its name to this mistake. The buffalo came originally from India, and was introduced into Italy in the seventh century. The flesh of the bison is much used in the manufacture of the portable food called pemmican, and is also converted into “jerked-beef” the hide is most valuable to Indians as well as to civilized men on account of the many uses to which, it can he put. About 160,000 bison skins find their’ way annually to the fur stations of America, and of these about 70,000 are made up and sold as “buffalo robes” in New York. During the Crimean war our army were supplied with 20,000 of these robes. The warmth and durability of bison skins make them more useful than many other of the showy and expensive varieties of fur.


The Indicator Warrenton NC Sep 4 1867 Circus Ad

The Indicator Warrenton NC Sep 4 1867 Circus Ad



The Indian Peace Commission NY Times Oct 26 1867 (pdf)


 Sterling Gazette
Sterling, Illinois Oct 12, 1867

The editorial excursionists have been heard from. They wax belligerent as they near the haunts of the lordly bison and the festive red man. Telegram from Clinton: “we learned buffalo are effect along the Pacific road, being driven south by the Indians, and hope to get a few shots at them, if not at the red skins.” And later, from Omaha: “the moon is shining brightly on the Great Plains, over which we shall tomorrow be flying in pursuit of buffalo and the Rocky Mountains.” “Hunting the buffalo” – we quote the pleasant remark of an amateur sportsmen – “hunting the buffalo,” said he, “is an agreeable, a most delightful pastime -except when the buffalo hunts you.” The buffalo scoring over the great plains in pursuit of the excursionists, would be a scene best appreciated from the loftless crotch of a cottonwood.


Harrisburg Telegraph
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
25 Oct 1867

 I am in the buffalo range. This snort, curly, springy, matted grass is buffalo grass. The horizon bound prairie is wholly pitted with indentations as if it had the small pox last Spring. Myriads of buffaloes rolled here while shedding their hair, and pawed the pooling dirt on their irritated skins. For 70 miles have I come through these ” buffalo wallows” and over buffalo trails the broad and deep cow paths of old Eastern farms. Muskets and rifles lie on the ground about me, convenient of reach by men who shovel and pick upon the line of the road. Six graves break the smoothness of the prairie beyond the Fork. Five of the dead who sleep in them were killed by Apache arrows. There is not a house, nor a hut, nor a tent for 68 miles behind me. North, west and south is the sea of grass that rolls to the Rocky Mountains. Every ounce of food save buffalo meat, every stick of wood to raise steam or cook a pot of coffee, every ear of corn for the contractors’ horses and mules is brought from far to the East. The line of directest route bore the track away from the river. Therefore, the water for the workmen, and the animals, and the locomotives, had to be dug for, and the wells had to be huge. What a country to build a railroad in!  And yet what country on earth is there in which road should be built rather than in this?

Look at this soil at this 279th mile – post. Eighteen inches of black loam overlying a deep subsoil of loamy clay, do surely guarantee heavy crops of wheat and corn to even careless farming. The grass that has sprung up in the denuded buffalo – wallows is not the short and curly buffalo grass, but is of the long and vigorous growth of the prairies east of the Mississippi. The buffalo gone, and the annual fires kindled by the Indians discontinued, and domestic stock even sparsely introduced, the vendure of this vast region will be immediately and permanently changed, and hay for the nation can be cut here. The tramping, rolling, and browsing buffalo gone, and the firing of the dead grass to start an early growth of feed discontinued, trees, by a law of nature, will immediately spring from the soil, and in 15 years the fabled “Great American Desert” will be a timbered country as it now is a land of unsurpassed excellence for grazing. With the timber will come increasing moisture and more frequent rains for cultivated crops. The “Great American Desert!” Supreme lie of our old geographies and atlases, exceeding the Muochausenisms of the maelstrom of Norway, and the more ancient humbug of the attriding dangers of Scylla and Charybdis! Why, this region, the centre of that picture which in every map of the United States 80 years ago, and down to a quite recent period, was stripped and painted fiery yellow, or left blank white, and made to represent utter barrenness and suggest thirst and death to man and animal this region is now in large part the very garden of America, and will, altogether, constitute under the name of Kansas, the richest, healthiest, handsomest, and most populous: agricultural State in the Union within 20 years from this day. Nothing is wanting to assure this destiny.

Running parallel to the railroad, and on both sides of it, stratified limestone crops out from the sides of the gently – swelling, loam – covered bluffs which rim the wide river bottoms -white, cream – colored, pink, yellow, and red building stone, wholly inexhaustible, lying horizontal, requiring no other quarrying than the use of a crow – bar to lift it in blocks out of position – stone as wonderful in its adaptation for immediate architectural use as it is admirable for its beauty. In the quarry it is soft, in the sense that it is easily worked. I have seen it hewn to shape with the common wood ax – have seen it mortised with a carpenter’s chisel as quickly as a pine beam could be mortised- have seen it planed with a jack – plane, sawed with a scroll saw into brackets and ornamental door and window – caps, and cut with a “buzz” saw into yard – square blocks for street sidewalks and into bricks of required size. This material, so easily worked, hardens on exposure to the air, and,. becomes as impenetrable as Tennessee marble. It is identically the Caen stone of France. Travelers who have seen the beautiful effect which that material gives to Napoleon’s new architecture in fans can appreciate the qualities of this rock which underlie the whole of the high prairie land of Kansas, and which will make Kansas a State of stone houses cheaper than can be built anywhere else in the world, and painted while yet in the quarry with the four most popular colors.

More yet. The lifting of the vail with which first Border Ruffianism –  and then the hostile Indians, have for twelve years covered Kansas and hidden from, view her marvelous endowment of beauty and wealth, reveals to us now that a part of her lavish heritage is Bituminous Coal. Kansas can afford to wait for timber to succeed the buffalo, and the annual grass – burning of the Cheyenne’s and the Arapahoe’s. There is abundant coal near Fort Wallace, and surveyors and the scouts and train – masters, familiar with every mile square of the Plains, report it in workable veins near Barker and Hayes. The “Coal Question,” – the vital one in transcontinental railroad engineering, has been solved for this line of Pacific Railway. West of Kansas the company’s surveyed route strikes sixteen feet of bituminous fuel of the best quality. The Engineers report the deposit to be sufficient not only for the uses of the Road forever, but for Colorado and Arizona as well as for all Kansas. But independent of this supply, Kansas can, from her own resources, furnish herself with coal on her prairies for domestic and manufacturing purposes.  And it is timely here to say that domestic life in Kansas, and manufacturing and farming Industry, maintain in an atmosphere where consumption as an indigenous disease is unknown, and in which the delicate or diseased lungs of settlers from the East are braced to health and new leases of life are taken, on the cheap condition of mere respiration. What a superb country, and what a truly national enterprise is this that traverses it!


Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania Nov 7 1867

The locomotive is coming! Clear the track, Messrs. “Hole-in-the-day,” “Cry Wolf.’ “Dancing Grizzly.’ ‘Jump-off-a-log,’ ‘Spotted-Tail,’ ‘White-man-killer,’ and all your ragged race. It is your manifest destiny to stop scalping white folks, and you must either be absorbed by the new tide of civilization or be drowned in it. Messrs. Antelope, Buffalo and Beaver, you have been very useful animals in your way,  and have done the world service in your day; but really now – we quite regret it – but we must have a hew more farms out there in your direction , and will trouble you to move on, or off, as you find it most convenient. The logic  of events is not to be resisted; the race of barbarism is drawing to an end; the word moves,  and the people thereof – and generally westward. 



The Evening Telegraph
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Nov 22, 1867

A Private Buffalo Hunting Party.

From the Cheyenne (Dakotah Territory) Daily Argus, Nov. 17. Just started.

A private party of ladies and gentlemen arrived yesterday from New York, by special train. A two thousand mile buffalo hunting excursion. The party consist of Thomas C Durant, Vice –President U.P.R.R. ; George Francis Train, Mrs. Train, Miss Susie Train and maid, Pacific Railroad Commissioner White and Mrs. White, Mrs. George W. Frost, Miss Carrie Frost, Miss Abbey T. Shaw, and Captain I. W. Davis. They stopped at Kearney for a buffalo hunt, and accompanied by Major and Mrs. Dallas, Dr. and Mrs. Bradley, of the Fort, and under escort of Captain North and his Pawnee Indians, they had some rare sport on Saturday. The first buffalo hunt with ladies. Train immortalize it in an epigram.

George Francis Trains epigrammatic sketch of the buffalo hunting party of New York gentlemen and ladies, with a special car on a special train to the Rocky Mountains:-

Captain North with his Pawnee scouts

First gave the signal, then the Indian shouts

“Off saddles, bridle, for a bareback fight.”

Wild Buffalo in Indians, what a sight!

Durant, Davis, North, and Train,

Like wild fire sweep across the plain,

Down goes a pony in a gopher hole,

And on the Prairie see the Pawnee roll.

While neck to neck with giants of their race,

For many a mile we led the exciting chase,

Mid shots and shrieks and Indian cries,

The ladies shout, “THE BISON DIES.”


Fort Kearney, Nov. 9, 1867.

Six buffalo hunting parties had individualized the season. The Frost-Collins party killed seventeen. The Colonel Butter, English officer party, shot forty. The English House of Commons, Lord Morley Cooper party, killed six. The George P. Smith, one hundred and fifty editor party, killed twenty-three. The Ossian E. Dodge party, shot four. And now the number four, New York Opera Box, Madison Avenue, Durant-Train party, Saturday, killed nine. This will and the hunting of the season, as the buffalo are already out of range. The party road fifty miles, and struck a herd of thousands. Never before had ladies and schoolgirls been surrounded by Pawnee Indians and wild buffalo. Sue Train astonished the Indians by her reckless riding. Mr. Train’s epigram on his little daughter’s bold dash among the buffalo is a decided hit. Perhaps the first time the Pawnees ever acted as escort to a Sioux Train. Here it is:-


A little schoolgirl, twelve years old,

Went hunting buffalo with Pawnee bold,

With hair and bridle flying loose,

The Indians cheer the white papoose,

So strange a sight who will ever see again?

A Pawnee escort to a wild Sue Train.

Colonel George P. Smith, the editorial chief of the great excursion, join the party at Julesburg. The party breakfasted with General Casement, on board the famous track-laying hotel, and after riding the Pyramids, Pagodas, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Pompey’s Pillar of our ancient city, started off for Train’s New Saratoga of the Rocky Mountains, and to Fort Saunders in the Laramie hunting-fields. Train has come up to build his grand hotel for Cozzens, and the party, we understand, will visit Denver. The Vice-President is on the business of the Company, arranging to push on the road over the mountains. Train says the country may thank him for stopping the Indian war, and in his usual caustic style has nailed the fact on the counter. Here is his epigrammatic settlement of the Indian question:-

The engine whistle of Pacific trains

Will drive the bison and the red man from the plains,

My Indian speech with old Ben Wade,

Checked a frontier war. The treaty made

Saves hundred millions of the Jay Cooke flood,

The nation’s honor and the people’s blood.

George Francis may well be called the Lightening Train. Five weeks ago he was with the Wall street gold brokers, four weeks ago piloting the great Editorial Excursion, three weeks ago he was in Cheyenne selecting the spot for his grand hotel and his Rocky Mountain watering grounds, two weeks ago he was revolutionizing Kansas, defeating rebel disfranchisement and negro suffrage, and championing women suffrage and greenbacks, where he was nominated by ten mass meetings for the White House: Saturday he was smashing into the buffalo, and was here yesterday, hail fellow with the boys of Cheyenne. All the Argus has to say to the guest is, welcome to Cheyenne. Welcome Durant. Welcome the Commissioners. Welcome “The Irrepressible,” and three cheers for the ladies, who are the first to visit the Rocky Mountains by rail.