Central Plains Are Alive
Prehistoric Man and Great Britain Mar 23 1868 Daily Colonist
The Daily Kansas Tribune
Lawrence, Kansas Apr 10, 1868
Considerable excitement was created in town on Sunday, by the appearance of a herd of buffalo on the opposite side of the creek, west of the city. There was mounting in hot haste, a short run, a sure aim, and several bison fell. The sport is exciting in the extreme, and, when once indulged in, an opportunity to repeat the dose is never missed. —
Hays City Advance
The Emporia Weekly News
Emporia, Kansas May 1, 1868
A very lively little buffalo calf about three weeks old was brought down on the train from the West last evening and placed in Mr. Pat Hamlin’s livery stable, awaiting shipment to Ottawa to- day, where its owner, Mr. C. M. Blosser, resides. It was caught on the plains, thirteen miles west of Hays City, and though captured but a few days since, appears to accept the situation, and takes kindly to civilized habits. To those who have never seen an infantile bison it is quite a curiosity.- Lawrence Tribune
Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania May 15 1868
Lord Wharncliffe has succeeded in securing a herd of American bison, which run wild in Wharncliffe chase. The noble lord probably intends to play buffalo hunt, but he should be careful or the bovine game will run all over England and jump the channel before they discover that they are not on the boundless prairies.
The Atchison Daily Champion
Atchison, Kansas May 15, 1868
Leaving Hays City, with all its enhancements, including buffalo veal of an uncertain age, and hotel bills of a plump figure, we reached the classic Ellsworth in the “gray of the morning,” again to find our calculations upset. The bison hunt which we had arranged to participate in had fallen through. Indians had been seen over on the Saline; a party that had gone out to days before had not yet returned, and a prudent regard for the safety of our scalp-locks constrained assault to waive the anticipated pleasure. So we were doomed to an inactive stay in Ellsworth until Monday morning.
The Trails Drivers of Texas
KILLING AND CAPTURING BUFFALO IN KANSAS
In the summer of 1868 I was chosen to go with Joe G. McCoy and a party to Fossil Creek Siding on the Kansas Pacific Railway for the purpose of roping buffalo bulls to be sent East as an advertisement. It had been found that by advertising a large semi-monthly public sale of stock cattle to take place at the shipping yards at Abilene, Kansas, a ready market had been found for the stock cattle. Buyers were also needed for grown cattle. The plan adopted to call attention to the fact was to send East a carload of wild buffaloes, covering the side of the car with advertisements of the cattle. But how to get the buffaloes was the next point to be considered.
The slats of an ordinary stock car were greatly strengthened by bolting thick planks parallel with the floor and about three feet above it to the side of the car. One-half dozen horses, well trained to the lasso, were placed in one car and in the other were six men with supplies. Both cars departed for the buffalo region. In the party chosen were four Texas cowboys, Jake Carroll, Tom Johnson, Billy Campbell and myself, also two California Spaniards, all experts with the rope.
On the afternoon of our arrival on the buffalo range we started out to capture our first buffalo. After riding for a short while, we saw a moving object in the distance which we supposed was the desired game. We followed and saw that it was a man after an animal. We thought it was an Indian after a buffalo.
All of us, with the exception of Tom Johnson, who rode away to the right, started in pursuit of the desired game. We soon discovered what we supposed was an Indian and a buffalo was a white man driving a milch cow to the section house. He ran to the section house and told them that the Indians had chased him and were coming straight to the house. He said that one long-legged Indian riding a white horse tried to spear him. The supposed Indian on the white horse was none other than Tom Johnson, who was about four hundred yards away from the man. When we reached the section house, the men had barricaded themselves in the dugout awaiting the arrival of the Indians.. They supposed we were Indians until we were close enough for them to tell we were white men. They came out and told us what the frightened man had told them.
During our hunt we had to guard our horses at night from the savages. We saw three small parties of Indians, and one bunch gave some of us a little chase over the prairie.
The next morning after our arrival we spied seven buffalo bulls on the north side of the Saline River and preparations were made to capture them. Two of them refused to cross the river, and when I attempted to force one to cross he began to fight and I shot him with my Navy six-shooter. This was the first buffalo I ever killed. The others were started in the direction of the railway and when in several hundred yards of it two of them were captured. The two Spaniards roped one and Billy Campbell and I roped the other one. The buffalo charged first at one and then the other of us. He would drop his head, stiffen his neck, and await for us to come near him, then chase one of his captors until there was no hope of catching him, then turn and go after the other.
When he was near the track a third rope was placed around his hind legs and in a moment he was laying stretched out on the ground. Our well-trained horses watched his movements and kept the ropes tight. After he ceased to struggle his legs were tied together with short pieces of rope, then the lariats were taken off and the buffalo was lifted into the car by means of a block and tackle. One end was fastened to the buffalo’s head and the other to the top of the car on the opposite side. After his head was securely bound to a part of the car frame his feet were untied. Sometimes the buffalo would sulk for hours after being loaded and show no desire to fight.
In about a week we captured twenty-four buffalo bulls. Some of them died from heat and anger caused by capture, others became sullen and laid down before they were gotten near the cars, and only twelve were successfully loaded and started on the road to Chicago.
It was very interesting to see how well trained were the horses. They seemed to know what movements to make to counteract those of the captured animal. It was almost impossible to entangle them in the rope, for they knew by experience the consequences of being entangled.
After hanging upon each side of the cars an advertisement of the cattle near “Abilene, they were sent to Chicago via St. Louis, causing much newspaper comment. Upon reaching Chicago the buffalo were sent to the Fair Grounds, where the two Spaniards, Billie Campbell and I roped them again to show the people how it was done. This advertisement feat was followed by an excursion of Illinois cattlemen to the West. The ‘people were taken to the prairie near Abilene and shown the many fine herds of cattle. Several people invested in these cattle, and in a short time the market at Abilene assumed its usual life and activity. The year of 1868 closed with Abilene’s success as a cattle market of note. Soon Texas cattle became in great demand for packing purposes.
Later in the fall of the same year, 1868, I went on a hunt with a party about seventy-five miles south of Abilene to the valley between the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers, where we saw countless numbers of buffalo. As far as we could see the level prairies were black with buffaloes. The grass was eaten off as smooth as a floor behind these thousands of animals. We killed all we wanted in a very short time.
The Daily Kansas Tribune
Lawrence, Kansas Aug 13 1868
FOR THE GREAT WEST.
The excursion party, numbering about two hundred and eighty persons, great and small, started promptly on time, at seven o’clock yesterday morning. Six fine passenger coaches, one box or freight car, and one extra baggage car, composed the train.
A portion of the company were business men, who had some matters to attend to in the western towns, and took advantage of the cheap rates to go out to transact their business, intending, also, to kill a score or two of buffalo, take a look at the plains, astonished the unsophisticated natives of Hays City and Sheridan, etc., thereby killing ever so many birds with one stone. The majority, however, went out purely for the fund of the thing and to kill buffalo, and as they nearly all were armed with tour-inch pocket pistols, it is not probable that nary bison will ever be heard of any more. Judge Banks and Marshals Barnes and Spicer intend to hold court someplace between Hays and Sheridan, for the purpose of inflicting a fine on the Kiowas and Cheyenne’s, for there are many misdemeanors and violations of city ordinances. A good deal of roast chicken and boiled ham was taken along, the we believe they intend, after passing Hays, to throw away all such trash, as the abundance of buffalo meat they intend to procure will cause other eatables to not be needed.
Their other doing will be recorded in due time, as we have a pair of reporters along who intend to dish up everything of note.
The Daily Kansas Tribune
Lawrence, Kansas Aug 16, 1868
The march of excursions takes its way Eastward, although the excursions themselves go Westward. First came Topeka, then the “head center,” and last of all, Leavenworth. Topeka killed no buffalo, no Indians; the “head center” brought back one scalp and many other weightier proofs that the noble bison was indeed defunct. Now what can our friends of the great emporium do to be that? The coming week will witness their excursion and plunk.
Ad from the Daily Ohio Statesman Sept 14 1868 buffalo in circus
The Tri Weekly Old North State NC Circus ad Oct 17 1868
The Daily Kansas Tribune
Lawrence, Kansas Oct 20, 1868
The Last Excursion. — Mr. Eidemiller’s buffalo-hunting excursion will leave Leavenworth at eight o’clock on next Tuesday morning, and will arrive here at ten o’clock. All in this city who wish to accompany them, should secured tickets and time. The party will be absent four days, and ample time will be given on the plains for slaying ye noble bison. Fare for round-trip, $8.
The Evening Telegraph, Pa. Oct 22 1868
The Union Pacific Railway
The General Ticket Agents’
Kansas Excursion – Buffalo Hunt – Union Pacific Railway – General Sheridan
From Our Own correspondent.
Fort Hays, Kansas, October 13, 1868.
The General Ticket Agents’ “Kansas Excursion” over the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, reached this place yesterday morning, and were kindly received and welcomed by Major-General P.H. Sheridan and staff. After some little time spent in social converse, the party started further West to see “Mr. Lo,” and other poor Indians, and enjoy, if possible, a hunt after that celebrated American animal so familiarly but erroneously called buffalo.
The party left Sedalia, Missouri, 189 miles west of St. Louis, on the morning of the fifth after partaking of an elegant breakfast at the Ives house, and reached Kansas City at noon. In that beautiful city of upwards of ten thousand inhabitants is a fine courthouse, seven churches, three banks, three newspaper offices, five hotels, two iron foundries, and several wagon and other factories, decides to railroad machine shops. That place is the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, and the western terminus of the Pacific Railway of Missouri; and as soon as the magnificent bridge across the Missouri River is completed, it will also be the Western terminus of the Kansas branch of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. George Noble, Esq. and B. Marshall Esq., the Assistant Superintendents of the Union Pacific Railway, eastern division, joined the excursionists, and at one o’clock the train started west.
The country through which the General Ticket Agents and their friends passed from St. Louis to Kansas City, over the Pacific railroad of Missouri, is a succession of valley, hill and river scenes, buried and beautiful. The road, fifty-four miles west of St. Louis, crosses a small stream which empties into the Missouri River at that point, and runs along the south bank of the Missouri to Jefferson City, the capital of the state of Missouri. The situation of Jefferson City is elevated and picturesque, commanding a fine view of the River and the country for many miles, as well as the cedar-crowned cliffs on the opposite shore. It contains a population of six thousand, and in addition to the State House, Governor’s. mansion, penitentiary, State armory, six churches, for hotels, and one newspaper, there are some small factories. The Gaseonade river is crossed by the Pacific Railroad of Missouri on a high bridge memorable for the terrible disaster which occurred in August 1854, on the opening of the road from St. Louis to Jefferson City. On that occasion a portion of the bridge broke down, and forty-five lives were lost and more than that number of persons badly injured. Mr. W. O. Lewis, the general ticket agent of the road, and Mr. Henry Hale, assistant superintendent made themselves special favorites through their kindness and attention to their guest.
After passing the Kansas river, the Union Pacific Railway, E. D., runs almost directly west. The passenger stations are:-State Line, Armstrong, Muncy, Secondine, Edwardsville, Tiblow, Lenape, Stranger, Fall Leaf, Lawrence and Leavenworth Junction, Lawrence, Buck Creek, Williamsville, Perryville, Medina, Newman, Grantville, Topeka, Silver Lake, Cross Creek, St. Mary’s, Wamego, St. George, Manbatten, Odgen, Fort Riley, Junction City, Chapman’s Creeks, Detroit, Abilene, Sand Spring, Solomon, and Salina.
At Salina the excursionists rested for the night, at a hotel By Mrs. Bickerdyke, a lady who did a vast deal of good during the late war, and really mean that distressed, the sick and wounded of both armies. It is stated or this much respected lady that she had free access to both armies in her mission of love and mercy, and enjoyed general passes from Pres. Lincoln and Jefferson Davis to go when and where she pleased. Early yesterday morning Mrs. Bickerdyke furnished her guests with the splendid breakfast, after which the iron horse bounded westward again with its load of precious freight. Before reaching Rock Springs station, two miles beyond Barvaria, one of the most gorgeous views of the rising sun ever witness was enjoyed by each one of the excursionists. It was of surpassing beauty, and to all the strangers the sun appeared much larger than on any previous rising. Indeed, some were appalled at the magnitude and brilliancy of the bright and beauteous orb of day as it illuminated the horizon and then slowly and majestically arose to full view. Passing Rock Spring, the stations of Fort Harkner, Ellsworth, Cow Creek, Wilson’s Creek, Bunker Hill, Fossil, Walkers, and Fort Hayes were successfully reached, when the “Kansas Excursion” party were 288 miles from Kansas City; 571 miles from St. Louis, and 1577 miles from Philadelphia. Here, as before remarked, General Sheridan and staff welcomed them, and after a formal introduction, through Col. C.N.. Pratt, the general manager of the excursion, to each of the ladies and gentlemen, a further Western announcement greeted the ears of each one. ‘Where are you going?” Asked the resident of Fort Hays. “To hunt buffaloes and Indians, “was the prompt response of a dozen. At this juncture, general Sheridan remarked that there would be no disappointment in seen buffaloes, that he greatly doubted the site of the Indians. His prediction was verified. Within five miles of the fort, the buffaloes or bison made their appearance, probably twenty miles distant, on the north side of the track. Many doubted what they actually saw, for the reason that the bovine animals were so far away, and to the eye they seem no larger than bees. Soon, however, more were observed, and much nearer the train, and consequently, of greater proportions. Then the daring hunters began to grow restive, and as every revolution of the car wheels carried the party forward the buffaloes grew more numerous and the excitement increased with every instant of time. The attention of one was scarcely called to this heard before another was called to look in a different direction, and finally they began to appear on the south side of the track and much closer to the train than those north. Before gaining a point ten miles west of Fort Hays a herd of thirty-nine huge buffaloes, or bison, were observed on the south, not more than from two to three hundred yards distant. Instantly forty-two carbines, rifles, and guns were leveled at them, and bang, bang, they went as rapidly as the “shootist” could load and discharge their pieces. The herd started on a full run, tandem, was several of their calves rollicking around and apparently pleased with the sport. For nearly four miles they ran parallel with the cars, without the slightest apparent deviation in space between them and the train, and finally they gained on the locomotive and cross the track ahead of the train, compelling the engineer to check up. As soon as all this herd had crossed over, the cars stopped and out on the prairie each of the excursionists ran after some of the game which they felt sure had or would be secured. In a few minutes after, one of the herd, an immense female bison, fell on her knees, when all closed round her and one gallants sport out with a huge dirk and cut her throat. This daring act created a shout. Victory had perched upon the banner of the travelers, and what had been imagined an hour previously was at that important hour a stern reality- a bison had fallen. The Army had conquered. A noble specimen of Bos Americanus was lying at the feet of those whose faith had been made strong by the dying animal before them. Immediately some two dozen stalwart men out with pocketknives and deliberately attacked the head. It was an amusing spectacle, but has no provisions had been made for butchering, necessity mothered the intervention and but little time elapsed before both hindquarters, the head, eyes, tongue, tail, hoof, and many parts of the hide were safely deposited in the baggage car. The hunt and chase were a success. While some were engaged in the manner referred to, others bounded forth after the retreating animals, and within three hours twelve immense buffaloes or bison were killed and more than that number badly wounded. Those having arms, in their zeal for greater success, scattered over a space of from 10 to 15 miles, and within the range of vision from hundreds of thousands if not a million of buffaloes were seen. This may be regarded as exaggeration, but none of the party who witness the magnitude of the buffaloes estimated their number any less. And to give you further evidence of the quality in view, it is also a fact that the train, in going some ten miles further west, between Ellis station and Ogallah, the cars had to stop still four different times to let the buffaloes pass. Never before, and the lives of either lady or gentlemen present, was such as seeing witnessed; never did they enjoy such rare and magnificent sport. The reader cannot imagine, in the remotest degree, what such a hunt for wild game on the vast American prairies really is. To know, these grounds must be visited, and the Buffalo or bison seen as they were observed and killed and wounded yesterday. At 6 o’clock the excursionists returned to Fort Hays, where a sumptuous banquet was in readiness. The good things were enjoyed to the fullest extent, and about 8:30, ”Home Again” and “Home, Sweet Home” were sung by the entire party with all the fervor and feeling of some of your celebrated Philadelphia seen societies, and the party departed Eastward, and more than delighted with the pleasures of the hunt and their extraordinary success.
The Buffalo or more properly the American bison, is but little known, notwithstanding no occasional exhibition of one or two in connection with some of the traveling menageries of the country. In this way but a faint idea can be formed of the animal, except as to color and size, and nothing about the caged bison or buffalo indicates its strength, power, durability, speed, or habits. To see and appreciate it the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, affords opportunities which cannot be excelled, if equaled, on this continent or in the world. It is along the route of this great national highway, west of Fort Hays, where they abound. To say there are large herds of them would be to convey a very inadequate conception of their existence. Millions upon millions of them browse upon the extensive and beautiful prairies of Western Kansas, and run wild over that vast domain and south to north from north to south. As far as the eye can reach over the undulating plain, they can be seen.
The American bison is generally larger than cows are oxen of this country, and heavier weighing from sixteen hundred to two thousand pounds. The color of the hair is a ‘dun” or brownish-black, except the long hair, which is tinged with a yellowish rust color. The head, shoulders, and neck are unusually covered with great shaggy masses of hair, while on the portions of the body and legs the hair is rather short and fine. Along the back it is coarser, and about half the length of the hair on the neck. The physiognomy is rather repulsive, and indicates ferocity if aroused or excited. The flesh of the bison is similar to coarse-grained beef, but more tender and juicy. When the hump is nicely cut in steaks and properly broiled, or when cooked in the Indian style, by sewing up the meat in the hide and baking in an earth oven underneath the surface of the ground, it is ranked among the most delicate of American dishes. The time is highly prized among epicures, and much preferred to that tongues of cattle. The decided preference is for this portion of the bison has often resulted in Hunter’s slaying them merely for the tongues of the animals, and leaving all other portions for the wolf and the vulture to feed on.
The Indians in Kansas are almost entirely dependent upon the bison for their food, clothing, dwellings and fuel. The hides with the hair, furnish the finest “buffalo robes,” while the dressed hides are also a considerable article of commerce, and quite profitable. It is rather astonishing that, with the present admirable facilities for reaching all the Eastern cities and trade centres, some enterprising son of America has not devise some mode of capturing the bison, and having them transported to market in the cars of the “Union” or “Empire” lines as fast freight, and does realize a magnificent profit out of the operation. There is no portion of the bison but what can be made marketable if in Philadelphia or New York. The cost of securing them and their freight would be comparatively trifling, when their value is considered. This trade cannot much longer be postponed. If the bison can be caught and killed, and for portions of the meat prepared and sold East, at the satisfactory profit, how much more remunerative to bring them East on the hoof, and dispose of them alive! The man or men who start this movement will inevitably reap a rich harvest.
Nov. 24, 1868
HUNTERS. – Yesterday morning’s train took a party of our amateurs on a hunting excursion to the Far West. When they return, bison, elk, fallow deer and black bear meat will be plenty in our midst.
Clearfield, Pennsylvania Dec 10, 1868
The Buffalo and the Indian.
There is great commotion at the West among the Indians and buffaloes. The destinies of these two kinds of wild creatures seem to be mysteriously intertwined, and it has long been predicted that the extermination of the one will be simultaneous with that of the other. In time of peace, the Indians go out in force to the regular haunts of the buffalo at certain seasons to lay in their supplies, and they returned to their lodges with their ponies loaded down with the spoils of the chase. But the invasion of the grazing grounds of the buffaloes and the hunting grounds of the Indians by the Pacific Railroad has revolutionized the habits of these wild creatures, and disconcerted and demoralize them. The Indian tribes that are on the war path are put to the trouble of driving the buffalo on the route they have to take so as to ensure a supply of food. The buffalo in the commissariat of the Indian. In place of driving wagons loaded with supplies, he drives the buffaloes, and kills them as they are wanted. It is not pleasant to think of the annihilation of the bison. But the causes seem to be at work that are to bring about that result. In the good old times, when the Plains were quiet, and only dozens traversed them where thousands now do so, the herds of buffalo were counted by fifty and a hundred thousand. They now seem to be squandered, and to be divided into small herds. There are still millions of these animals, but they have become disorganized and scattered and those localities penetrated by the Pacific Railroad and currents of emigrant travel the following description of the American bison, which we take from the Fort Hays correspondence of the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, is correct and interesting:
The American bison is generally larger than the cows or oxen of this country, and heavier, weighing from sixteen hundred to two thousand pounds. The color of the hair is a “dun,” or brownish-black, except the long hair, which is tinged with a yellowish rust color. The head, shoulders and neck are usually covered with great shaggy masses of hair, while on other portions of the body and legs the hair is rather short and fine. Along the back it is coarser and about half the length of the hair on the neck. The physiognomy is rather repulsive, and indicates ferocity if aroused or excited. The flesh of the bison is similar to course-grained beef, but more tender and juicy, and has the game flavor. When the hump is nicely cut in steaks and properly broiled, or when cooked in the Indian style, by sewing up the meat in the hide and baking in an earth oven underneath the surface of the ground, it is ranked among the most delicate of American dishes. The time is highly prized among epicures, and much preferred to that tongues of cattle. The decided preference for this portion of the bison, has often resulted in hunter’s slaying them merely for the tongues of the animals, and leaving all other portions for the wolf and vulture to feed on.
The Indians in Kansas are almost entirely dependent upon the bison for their food, clothing, dwellings and fuel. The hides, with the hair, furnish the finest “buffalo robes,” while the dressed hides are also a considerable article of commerce, and quite profitable. It is rather astonishing that, with the present admirable facilities for reaching all the Eastern cities and trade centres, some enterprising son of America has not devise some mode of capturing the bison, and having them transported to market in the cars of the “Union” or “Empire” lines of fast freight, and does realize a magnificent profit out of the operation. There is no portion of the bison but what can be made marketable in Philadelphia or New York. The cost of securing them, and their freight would be comparatively trifling, when their value is considered. The trade cannot much longer be postponed. If the bison can be caught and killed, and portions of the meat prepared and sold East, at a satisfactory profit, how much more remunerative to bring them East on the hoof, and dispose of them alive. The man or men who start this movement will inevitably reap a rich harvest.
The day is not far distant when the beef of the bison will supply the tables of the inhabitants of our large cities. When that day arrives the doom of the bison will be scaled. Should any Indians the left then, it will be interesting to consider how they will live — for the buffalo is their only source of support.
Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania Dec 15 1868