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Written for The Evening Star
The End of a Bloody and Relentless Persecution – A Search for Specimens.

Author of “Two Years in the Jungle.”

Copyright, 1887.

I am obliged to confess that I have been guilty of taking part in the extermination of the buffalo. Were it at all to my credit I could even boast of having just killed a greater number in proportion to the whole number now alive than any other man in this country except Jim Mc Nancy. Between my three cowboys and I we killed about one-tenth of all the buffalo in the United States outside of protective limits. But I blush to own it, and had it not been to save to science and the public their skins and skeletons from total loss at the hands of reckless, care-for-naught cowboys, who now kill for the empty honor of slaughter, those buffalo of ours would now be alive (if not frozen to death), and facing the Montana blizzards. And yet, since the cowboys are killing them as fast as they can, regardless of the dictates of sense and humanity, and leaving them to decay where they fall, was it not our sworn duty to step in ahead of them and save something from the wreck? It certainly was; therefore, curse me no curses for what we did. Bad luck to the rifles that have swept the buffalo away. Maybe dreams of the buffalo slayers be haunted as mine are now, by buffalo. I shall never get over the death of my last one. To me he was the last of his race, and he seemed to feel it as much as I. But for the absolute certainty that some wild cowboy would kill him on the next round-up, and leave him to rot where he fell, I swear I would gladly have let him go in peace, and with my blessing, too. But it was no time for sentiment. The Philistines were upon him, and to save him from total annihilation, to make him live again and stand forever in all his magnificence in the mammal hall of the National Museum, I slew him.

You see, with us at the Smithsonian, it was what a cowboy would call “a groundhog case,” we were out of buffalo, and we had “got to get’em,” before they were all gone. As one of my chums remarked, it was “the most perfunctory buffalo hunt on record,” The buffalo were going, going, and “gone” had already been called when we awoke one fine morning to a realization of the fact that we were caught “short” on buffalo, and there were none in the market. We hadn’t a series of specimens, nor even good ones of any kind, whereas it was our duty to have the finest series in the world. Could we expect that the American people would be satisfied with anything short of the best in their National Museum? By no means. When we thought of how we would be blessed by future generations if we should fail now to secure a fine series of specimens, we (e.g. the editorial “we”) actually trembled in our boots. The trouble was, we had lately been so deeply interested in mounting foreign mammals that we had failed to watch the disappearance of the bison, and we had been thinking all along that whenever we wanted a fine lot of buffalo we could get them. Judge then, of our surprise, and even consternation, when my numerous letters of inquiry all, save one, elicited the same response: “The buffalo are all gone, and I cannot tell you where you can find any.”

Hornaday with Sandy 1887
Smithsonian Institution Archives. Image # 79-13252

But Professor Baird was equal to this emergency, as to all others. He said: “Go at once and search of buffalo, and secure a series of specimens for the National Museum at all hazards.” Although the spring was then well advanced, and there was very little hope of finding buffalo before their shedding should have begun, the difficulty of finding any at all bid fair to be so great it was decided that we should start at once, and search for buffalo until some were found, even though it took all summer. One of our correspondents, Dr. J. C. Merrill, of the army, reported that there were rumors of the presence of buffalo in four localities in the northwest, and we decided that Miles City, Montana, was the key to this situation. Accompanied by my old friend, George H. Hedley, of Medina, and Mr. A. H. Forney, one of my regular laboratory assistants, we left Washington on May 13, 1886, on what was in fact, as well as in name, a Smithsonian exploration for buffalo. As a parting send-off, Captain J —, lately returned from Montana, triumphantly offered to wager that we would not get more than one or two buffalo, all told.

William Temple Hornaday, Chief Taxidermist of the United States National Museum from 1882, Curator of the Department of Living Animals, and the first Superintendent of the National Zoological Park, with a baby bison known as Sandy, probably on the grounds adjoining the Smithsonian Castle. This is the bison calf that Hornaday brought back from his 1886 summer field trip to Montana. The calf lived only a short time.

I am sure no hunter ever started out with a longer face than I did, and then nearer we got to Montana the longer it grew. When we reached Miles City and were told by hunters, stockmen, army officers and finally a noted fur buyer that were positively “no buffalo in the country anywhere.” I know it would have measured nearly a yard. While moodily debating whether to go up to the Bear Paw mountains or the Panhandle of Texas prospecting. I had the good luck to meet Mr. Henry R. Phillips, a ranchman from the Little Dry, seventy miles northwest of Miles City. Now, I had been advised that a ranchman will never tell a hunter of the presence of game near his ranch, because he wants it reserved and preserved for his own rifle. Mr. Phillips was not that kind of a man. He said in a very quiet, but very convincing way:

“There are a few buffalo and the bad lands west of my range, for one of my cowboys killed a cow on Sand Creek on the 11th of this month, and about thirty-five head have been seen. If you go up there and hunt them, and stick to it, you’re almost certain to get some in the end.”

That was enough. The very next day we rolled out across the Yellowstone, bound for the country at the head of the Little Dry. The weather was then hot and water was very scarce, but the grass was good, and in due time we pitched our camp in what was supposed to be the buffalo country. Three days after reaching our hunting ground we caught a buffalo calf in the bad lands, alive, and within two miles of our camp. It was about two weeks old, but by hard traveling it had become so weak it could not keep up with its mother, and she coolly abandoned it. We carried it to camp across horse, hurried it off to the ranch where there was a milch cow, and eventually got it to the Smithsonian in fine condition.

We hunted diligently for three weeks, and finally got two solitary old bull buffalo. One had said half of his winter coat, and the other all of it — his body being quite bare. We took their heads and skeletons, and, being well satisfied that there were more buffalo in that country, hastened back to Washington with all speed, same as little as possible about our find. I plan to return in the fall and collect at least twenty specimens.

It is a sad thing to say, but the great American bison is practically gone forever. The Pacific railroad, the Sharp’s rifle and man’s insatiable destructiveness have done their work, and the noblest ruminant of them all has gone down before them. The leaden hall of their breech-loader has swept the millions of buffalo from the face of the earth before a single strong hand has been raised to stop the merciless slaughter. To look back upon the buffalo as they were a few years ago only adds to our regret for their fate ; but it may serve to point a moral very strongly in the direction of our few remaining elk, deer, antelope and mountain sheep. Here, then, is the history, in brief, of the extermination of our grandest and most valuable American mammal:

Twenty years ago buffalo swarmed in countless thousands over the whole of the great pasture region of the west — from the Saskatchewan to Southern Texas, and eastward from the Rocky mountains to the borders of civilization. Their number was estimated variously at from six to ten millions, and later figures have proven that the former was by no means above the actual fact. Within the memory of man or the limits of history, so far as I know, no other species of quadruped has ever existed on earth in such mighty multitudes as did Bos Americanus twenty years ago. Often and often have plainsman said to me, in speaking of former times,”The whole country was a literally black with buffalo as far as the eye could see! Every hill was covered and every hollow was full.” There were thousands of square miles of them, and when a big herd was encountered traveling it seemed actually interminable. One that I knew of was five hours in passing a given point in a solid column, ten to twenty abreast, “on a dead run.” Trains on the first railways built across the plains were sometimes stopped for hours at a time by thousands of buffalo swarming on the track, and travelers have gone over hundred and twenty miles of territory through an almost unbroken herd. In all that we have read of the marvcious abundance of wild animals on the plains of South Central Africa, even the most exaggerated accounts fall far below what we actually know of the presence of the buffalo in the United States.

When the men of the west saw the level plains of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and the Indian territory and the rolling uplands of Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana actually swarming with buffalo, they said: “There will always be plenty of buffalo: it is impossible to kill them all off.” So at them they went, first in the blind fury of wanton destructiveness, but later in the more energetic and deadly warfare of killing for money. No one thought of protecting the buffalo, and had anyone spoken of it he would have been called “a crank.” But see what the deadly breech-loader accomplished in eleven short years.

The building of the Union Pacific railroad from Omaha to Cheyenne in 1866-7 cut through the very center of the great buffalo range, and from this railway was a base of supplies and means of shipment the buffalo hunters scattered north and south, killing great numbers. Thus was the great herd cut in twain, never to be reunited save in death, and the two portions were from that time known respectively as the northern and southern herds. The staked plains of Texas was the geographical center of the great southern herd and the town of Glendive, Montana, was the center of the other. In a short time the building of that Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, the Kansas Pacific and the Northern Pacific railways enabled the hunters to attack both the northern and southern herds in front, flank and rear.

That sealed the fate of the buffalo. In the years 1872-3 and 4 the A. T. & S. F. road carried out 459,463 buffalo hides, and Col. Dodge considers it quite certain that it’s two rivals each carried an equal, if not greater number, making a grand total of 1,378,389 hides.

But Col. Dodge declares that up to 1873 so wasteful were the methods of hide hunters that one hide delivered represented three buffalo killed. From 1874 onward the hunters took more care with skins, since they were getting scarce, so that every 100 marketed represented only one hundred  and twenty-five buffaloes. Taking the lower estimate for the three years,72-3 and 4, based on the hides actually shipped it is found that the total number of buffaloes killed by the hide hunters was 3,158,730. To this number must be added the buffalo killed by the Indians during the same period. This number was about 1,215,000, making when added to the white hunters’ record a grand total of 4,373,730 buffalo killed in the southwest in three years. The remnant of the southern herd fled to that great barren waste known as the Staked Plain, and thither a few hide hunters followed them until as late as 1880, when their numbers had so decreased that hunting them for profit ceased entirely. It is really saddening to know that these noble animals were slaughtered by wholesale for their hides, when those from the bulls sold (in 1875) for only $1.15, wild cow robes were worth only a paltry pittance of 65 cents each.

In 1876 the northern herd was probably twenty times as large as the southern, and covered twenty times as much territory. It was estimated by the hunters and hide buyers that there were then over 500,000 buffalo within the radius of 150 miles of Miles City, Montana, alone, and that all told the northern herd contained over a million head.

The Northern Pacific railway was opened for traffic from Glendive eastward in 1881. I am told by the hide buyers that that year it carried 100,000 buffalo hides out of the country, and an equal number the year following. The number shipped by steamers on the Missouri river is at present unknown. In 1883 the number of hides shipped fell to 25,000, and the catch of the next season amounted to but one car-load of hides, which were shipped from Dickinson, Dakota, by J. N. Davis. In 1885 not a single hide was in the market, and the buyers announced that the end had come.

It was, then, the years 1881-2 and 3 which saw the complete destruction of the great northern herd, or about ten years after the southern herd went down, and the thoroughness of its extermination (almost) is perfectly surprising. To-day , what remains of the millions of twenty years ago? Two or three little bands of trembling, terror-stricken fugitives, faintly endeavoring to find shelter from blood-thirsty man in the wildest and most desolate country, pursued hither and thither and shot at by every cowboy whose glance falls upon them, and to be pursued with increasing vigor and recklessness until the last one falls. Yes, there are other remains, tens of thousands of the cane carcasses and bleaching skeletons, thousands of them with the hide still on, showing that they were killed for their tongues only, or by foreign and native “sportsmen” for “sport.”

As a result of careful investigation I am convinced that there are now not more than 200 buffalo alive in our country, outside of the Yellowstone Park. Of this number there are, as before stated, about 100 or less in the panhandle of Texas, there are about 30 more in the country where are collecting was done, and perhaps 75 more in the neighborhood of the Bear Paw mountains, Montana. Strange as it may seem there are still half a dozen head in south Western Dakota, and I am told there are a few straggling bison in the Clarks Fork region, near the National park. In the latter reservation there are between 100 and 125 head, and they are increasing at the rate of 10 per cent. annually. On all sides, however, the unprotected buffalo are being crowded out of existence by the cattle raisers, and in two years more they will all be gone.

Thus has gone the great American bison, and let me tell you our elk, our deer, are antelope and mountain sheep are all fast going the same way! Shall we enact laws for their protection which will protect, now, before it is too late, or shall we dilly-dally about it as we did with the buffalo! The necessity and desirability of protecting the remnant of our game is conceded by all, save the market hunters, Betty in providing the necessary protection we are feeble and witless. Our protection doesn’t always protect. Now, if our legislators throughout the country are not smart enough to frame adequate laws, lettuce import a few foreigners to do it for us. Somehow, the English can protect any kind of game on that land, or fish in the sea, for that matter, that is found in their territory, and do it with a vengeance, too. Since it seems we are not smart enough to do the like in the game regions of the great west, led as import a few Englishmen to help us out. The first thing a Britishisher would say to the game butcher would be: “Two hundred dollars fine or six months in the penitentiary for the first offense, and double that for the second.”

I returned to Montana in the autumn, and then the hunt came off. This time I took unto myself three Montana cowboys, who knew the country, two soldiers from Fort Keogh, and W. Harvey Brown, my right bower, came from the senior class of the Kansas State university. I had the swiftest cowboys, the best assistant, the most faithful cook and the best horses that ever hunter had, I do believe. It was a jolly crowd, though a hard-working one, and in spite of the toll and hardships, – for that hunt was no picnic. I assure you, for we earned all we got– there are others besides myself who declare they never had so much fun a hunting and all their lives as we had then.

For two months we had glorious weather, but for the third we had a rather rough time of it. To crown all, however, we had what the boys called “elegant luck.” We fairly astonished the natives by the number of buffalo we found and killed, and ours was pronounced by old hunters “the luckiest outfit that ever hunted buffalo in Montana.” We got all that we went after, if not, rather more than we bargained for — and if you want a bill of particulars, meet me in this cozy corner every Sunday for the next few weeks, and I’ll tell you all about it, with great pleasure.


The Times
Philadelphia, Pa Mar 26,1887

A Gallant Battle by a Bison Bull Against Three Cow-Boys

A Gallant Battle by a Bison Bull Against Three Cow-Boys
……The superb bison at the Zoological Gardens known as John L Sullivan broke his neck yesterday. He met his death after a heroic battle for freedom. The battle ground was in the Zoo and a thousand men, women and children paid to see the buffalo chase, while twice that number stood on the elevated roadbed of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which skirts the garden. The army of people were thrilled by the brave and spirited defense Sullivan made against the combined efforts of three stalwart cow-boys, three strong ponies, three lariats and the big thick rope. Sullivan was only conquered by death, after he had gored a pony, broke several lariats and made the cow-boys weary. While wintering on Staten Island the Wild West Show lost almost a dozen buffaloes, and as spring approached in the time for the departure of Buffalo Bill’s aggregation for England grew nearer Col. Cody began to look about the country for bisons. When he heard that Sullivan and Old Pete, the big bulls of the Zoological Garden, in this city, could be bought he closed a bargain at once, the purchase price being several hundred dollars.

……The show sails on Thursday next for London, and Buck Taylor, Billy Bullock and Joe, Esquirel, the well-known cow-boys, with three big ponies, came over yesterday morning from New York to lasso the buffaloes. Shortly after 11 o’clock the cow-boys succeeded in conquering “Old” Pete, and he was led with little difficulty between two horses to the stockyard of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in West Philadelphia.
Sullivan, a big, vicious bull, whose pugnacious nature led to his sale by the society, was to be tackled later on. Sullivan, a proud and spirited animal, had made a bad record during the year. He thrice had put his head through a three-ply fence, broken down gates, almost killed “Rocks,” a bull much smaller than Sullivan, and had periodically knocked silly big, robust Dominick McCaffery, an ambitious bison and former champion of the buffalo yard.

……It was just 2 o’clock when the three cow-boys, mounted, jumped into the yard at the northwest corner. They each carried a lariat. Buck Taylor was seated on “Cheiftain,” a pretty bay with white marks. There were scores of dime novel readers there and they saluted the “King of the Cow-boys” in picturesque sentences. Taylor wore maroon colored shirt, embroidered, corduroy trousers, top boots and a white sombrero. A rich red and black silk handkerchief, which his girl had given him, was around his neck and a big diamond glittered on his black silk necktie. Billy Bullock and Joe Esquirel, who were less richly dressed, use the peculiar costume of the cow-boys. Bullock rode “One of a Kind” and “Streaks” was under Esquirel. The herd was gathered under the shed, discussing the abduction of Old Pete, when Buck Taylor through his noose at Sullivan’s head. It did not get there, but it started the battle. Sullivan and his relations dashed out from the shed, followed by the horsemen. Taylor led again, but missed him, and Sullivan dodged the lariats of Bullock and Esquirel. Sullivan was mad and with “McCaffery,” Rock and the other bison on his heels dashed around the yard. Bullock put his noose over the horns of the swift-footed beast, but Sullivan quickly shook it off and turned toward “One of a kind.” Bullock got out of the way and then Taylor again headed for Sullivan.

……The noose shot through the air, and, with the spontaneous shout from the crowd, Sullivan came to us stand with such abruptness as to almost lift Taylor off his horse. While the people were cheering Sullivan made a dash across the yard and swung around the tree in the northwest corner. The infuriated bull and the combination at the other end of the line played a desperate game of see-saw. The other horsemen were hurrying to the assistance of Taylor when the maddened Sullivan made a fierce pitch.
……The line broke and in an instant he rushed Chieftain and his rider. Taylor made an attempt to turn his horse, when the bull swept down and with a wild toss of his head ripped open the right haunch of Chieftain with his sharp, curved horn. The bull made another plunge, but the crowd saw the blood streaming from Chieftain, and gave a cry of alarm in time for Taylor to pull his horse away from the bull. In a second the gate was opened and Taylor and his horse dashed ahead of Sullivan and escaped from the bull. Billy Bullock and his partner made a dash for Sullivan and he was about to plan his horns into “One of a Kind,” when the Cow-boys were told to come out of the yard and Sullivan was left still champion of the Zoo. Dr. Huidekoper, dean of the veterinary school at the University, was in the crowd and he was soon by the side of Buck Taylor’s horse. The horn had opened an artery and torn muscles and flesh protruded from the wound, which sent out a stream of blood. Dr. Huidekoper immediately stuffed handkerchief into the wound, and then the horse was led to the stable, where the doctor filled the wound with oakum and had it bathed with cold water.

……Sullivan had to be captured, and Buck Taylor had mounted “Streaks” to return to the attack, when Agent O’Donnell, of the society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals, stopped him. Agent O’Donnell had agents Cox and Bowes with him. They said courteously, but earnestly that they would not allow the other horses to return to the yard. Sullivan was a mad beast of wonderful power and they believed that he would kill the other horses. “I don’t want to break your ____,” said Buck, “but we must take that buffalo, and I hope you won’t object to us doing it on foot.”
……“We won’t object to that, “replied agent O’Donnell, and then the towering “King of the Cow-boys” and smaller, but equally ____, companions sealed the fence of the buffalo yard. As Taylor’s smiling face was ___seen in the area he was given and enthusiastic welcome, like that which the _____ Mastantini is want to receive in the _____ pits of Spain. “Don’t git skeered, Buck, ____boy,” shouted a freckled face boy on the _____of a nearby tree: “were wid yer.”
……Taylor’s smile broadened, but he lost no time in hurling his lariat at Sullivan. The other Cowboys were on us Swift run at the ____ of Sullivan, when Taylor’s swung his lasso around the big neck of the bull, Sullivan dashed around, almost dragging Taylor ___feet. At last Billy Bullock and Esquirel caught up with Taylor and the ___ cow-boys slackened Sullivans speed gradually stopped him. Esquirel ____ his noose under the forefeet of the bull.. When it was drawn tight the cow-boys thought they had their buffalo, but Sullivan snapped the lariat. While he dashed about one side of the tree, near the shed, ___ cow-boys ran the other way. They looked for a rope, and “Weasel Bill” Loomis suddenly dashed into the arena with a thick rope. Esquirel, after several attempts, put the noose over the horns of Sullivan, and he madly plunged. The crowd sent up ___of victory, but at that moment, by a sublime effort, the bull for the ropes from the hands of the men.

……“Weasel Bill” was convinced that Sullivan was on to him and Loomis shot over the fence like the tail end of a cyclone. One lariat at was still clinging to the neck of Sullivan and the three cow-boys chased the buffalo for five minutes before Billy Bullock fished up the line. Two held him while Taylor hauled the rope again over the horns, and again Sullivan dashed about, finally getting himself tangled around the post of the shed. He was pulling down the shed, when the skinned hands that held the ropes let him plunge free of the post. Sullivan was blind with madness and dashed around the northwest tree. In an instant the cow-boys ran the ropes into the hands of the crowd of men at the bars and the plunging bull was tied fast, while the crowd shouted itself hoarse. The cow-boys had just left the yard and were preparing to lash to horses together to take Sullivan to the train when the bull grew fierce in his endeavors to free himself.

……With the wild plunge his forefeet caught the rope, and Sullivan dropped on his left shoulder blade. Buck Taylor thought the bull was choking, and with Dr. Huidekoper and the other cow-boys jumped into the buffalo yard. The noose around the neck was loose, but Sullivan was gasping his last breath. There was intense excitement, and the men began to blow into the nostrils of the fallen champion. It was of no avail. Sullivan would not go to England -he was dead. The poor beast in his fight for liberty had broken his neck. The tragedy caused great sorrow. Keeper John Ford, who knew Sullivan since his infancy, wept and Head Keeper Byrne stood at the side of the dead bison and spoke of his virtues. John L. Sullivan was born in the garden a dozen years ago. His sire was fresh from the prairies and his mother was one of the most respectable buffaloes that ever lived at the Zoo. When Sullivan’s three wives and other relatives saw that he was dead they gathered around him and licked his head.

……“I didn’t expect all this,” said Buck Taylor. “That buffalo was one of the finest bisons I ever saw. As for my horse, I would rather have lost $5,000 then have him gored the way he was. I had no spurs on or I would have got out of the way. I want to take my pony with me to England. We must sale on Thursday next. Dr.Huidekoper says he thinks he can have him in fit condition to be taken to New York by that time, and I leave ‘Chieftain’ in his charge. He will have the best all over at the college and no expense will be spared in giving him comfort and the finest medical skill.” The cow-boys were cast down at their ill luck. Buck Taylor stood in the telegraph office and had wired to Nate Saulsbury, one of the owners of the Wild West show: Sullivan broke his neck. What will I do with his body?



The Millbrook Times
Millbrook Kansas May 13 1887

Storing Barn-Yard Manure so as to Improve Its Quality and. Prevent Loss What Is necessary for One to Understand – In Order To Be a Successful Farmer. Saving Manure:

A very large proportion of the manure made on Western farms is wasted; much of it is washed into streams and drains and is lost. A considerable proportion of the nitrogen it contains becomes volatile during the process of fermentation and passes into the air. Much of the manure that is thrown into heaps as when it is pitched out of the windows and doors of stables becomes firefanged, and is rendered almost valueless as a fertilizer. Ammonia was formed in it but it was driven off by the heat.  Little remains in it but carbon and mineral substances: The wasting and deterioration of manure go on faster during the summer than in winter. That which accumulates in heaps becomes firefanged, and that which is spread over the ground becomes dry and hard. The droppings of cattle that are long exposed to the action of the sun and wind contain little but woody fiber. Tourists and hunters Who go over the great Western plains use buffalo dung for cooking their food, and find that it gives off very little odor. While burning dung that has become dry enough to burn is of little value as a fertilizer for most kinds of land. It will remain in dry soils in the form of hard lumps unless considerable labor is spent in pulverizing it.

Manure made during the winter in this part of the country is not likely to be injured by heating. If it accumulates in the feeding-yard or is thrown out of the stables it generally becomes frozen and remains in that condition till the next spring, when it is hauled into the fields. Much of it is likely to be washed away during the heavy winter rains but little will be lost by evaporation. The crude manure, consisting of dung, urine, the bedding of horses and cattle, and the coarse fodder which they refuse to eat, is not in a suitable condition to apply to land designed to produce most kinds of food crops. The dung itself is too rank to apply to land intended to produce small grain, beans, potatoes, or roots. It will be likely to impart a bad flavor to crops that grow in the soil. It will stimulate the production of stalks and leaves rather than grain. It will produce a luxuriant growth of clover and of most kinds of grass, but they will not be relished by cattle either in green or dry state. It is better for corn than any cultivated crop. The rejected fodder and bedding that are mixed with the dung will be of little or no use to any crop till they remain in the soil long enough to become rotted. Ordinarily they will be of no value to crops raised on the land the same season they are applied.

Ordinary barn-yard manure, composed of the dung of cattle and horses, the litter used for bedding them, and the fodder they have rejected, should be thoroughly mixed, fermented, and rotted before it is applied to land designed to produce food crops These chemical changes should be brought about under conditions that will prevent waste by evaporation or washing. They should proceed slowly, so that little heat will be produced. Considerable moisture is necessary to facilitate rotting and retard chemical action and fermentation. Air should not be allowed to freely circulate through the mass, as it will raise the heat to such a degree as to produce firefanging. The dung of horses and the litter used in their stalls for bedding will quickly heat during warm weather if they are thrown into heaps by themselves. It is better to have them mixed with the dung of cattle, as the latter will help keep the former moist and will also help exclude the air. The ‘pressure produced by a large pile of manure is favorable to slow decomposition and the prevention of loss by evaporation.’ A large heap, however, unless located on a low piece of ground and protected from the sun and wind, is unfavorable to the retention of moisture. Sods placed with the grass sides against a manure-heap will be of great value in retaining moisture. The closer the manure is placed the better will the rotting proceed and the smaller will be the loss of volatile substances. Soapsuds, dish-water, urine, and the water that accumulates in low places in the barnyard after a rain will be of great value to the manure-heap if thrown upon it they assist in decomposing the dry materials in the heap and contain much valuable fertilizing material. It is often practical to conduct water from the eaves-trough of the barn so as to keep a manure-heap moist but care should be taken not to allow too much to run upon it and cause it to wash away.

Experiments made in eastern countries show that an excavation like a subterranean silo is best for the preservation and decomposition of mixed manure. In such a place it is not washed by the rain or dried by the sun and wind, and the free circulation of the air is prevented, while it is easily kept moist In some places manure is allowed to accumulate on the floor of the stables until it is several feet thick, when it is piled up out of doors to decompose. Litter is used to absorb the urine, and these, with the dung are trodden hard by the cattle and horses. It is evident that all the manure is saved by adopting this course, which is recommended by some foreign writers on agriculture, who claim that the animals suffer no injury from standing on this mass of litter and excrements. Cellars under stables where horses and cattle are kept are excellent for preserving and decomposing their manure, but their influence on the health of the animals and the fodder stored for their use is certainly unfavorable. A somewhat damp barn-yard in which hogs run, and where they root over litter and mix the dung of cattle and horses, is favorable to making manure, but the gain in fertilizing material is probably obtained at a loss in the condition of the animals kept in such a place. With a scraper and shovel the manure can be removed to a part of the yard where it will decompose under the most favorable conditions, and where its presence will not interfere with the comfort of stock. It can often be piled in a corner to excellent advantage. A strong fence will furnish support on two sides, and a wall of stone or sods can keep it in its place on the other sides. Every morning after the cows are milked – their droppings can be thrown into this receptacle, and the remainder of the yard kept neat and clean.



The Wahpeton Times
Wahpeton, North Dakota June 9, 1887

His Pride Had a Fall

Mr. W. T. Hornaday, the naturalist of the Smithsonian Institute, is it a peck of trouble. There was no well preserved specimen of the American bison in the national museum, and as the species is almost extinct he started out last fall with a party of hunters to capture the last of the buffaloes. For two months he hunted along the Powder River, where they are most numerous, and succeeded in killing a number of animals, but was not able to capture a good specimen alive. He brought home the bones and skins, and selecting the best bull in the lot has stuffed it and set it up on a pedestal in the museum. He considers it a great work of art, as well as a true reproduction of nature, and was very proud of his success as well as his skill. The other day, when the work was done and the animal placed on its pedestal, he invited Professor Baird, General Sheridan, General Van Vleit and a number of other distinguished army officers, who had chased the bounding bison over the plains, to come to the museum and criticize his work, expecting to hear nothing but eulogisms.

To his disappointment and dismay they all, with one accord, commenced making the most savage criticisms. One said it was too short, another thought it was too long; others claimed it was too fat, more than that it was too lean. Some said the position of the legs was not natural, and several declared that no living buffalo ever stuck his nose up in the air like that. There was not a hair that pleased any one. The entire company expressed their surprise that a man of Mr. Hornaday’s experience and skill should waste his time stuffing a rusty old bison like that one. He was advised to throw it away and take another trip to the West to get a good one.

Poor Hornaday was all broken up. His pride became at once the most distasteful object he can’t look at and there is no longer any joy for him in the wide world. The critics are having as much fun over the affair as Hornaday is having sorrow, for the criticisms were premeditated and the results of a cruel conspiracy to humiliate him. As one of the scientist in the institution explained it recently:-

“Hornaday was getting altogether too much glory out of his condemned old beast, and we thought we would fetch him down a peg. He had actually convinced himself that there was not a specimen in the whole museum worth looking at except that bison. He thinks differently now.—Letter in the Chicago News.

 1887 - The Hornaday/Smithsonian Buffalo




The buffalo that Hornaday mounted remained on exhibit until the 1950s when the museum underwent an exhibit modernization program. The Smithsonian sent the specimens to Montana, where they were placed in storage. After many years of neglect, they were rediscovered, restored, and placed on display in 1996 at the Museum of the Northern Great Plains in Fort Benton, Montana.





The Republican Weekly
Cherryvale, Kansas Jul 22, 1887

Interesting Story of His Life and Adventures, as Related by Himself.
How He Slew His First Indian, and Came to Be Called Buffalo Bill.

The following, written by W.F.Cody, appeared in a recent issue of the 1887 Bison History Buffalo Bill CodyLondon Globe: I was born in February, 1845, in the State of Iowa. I need not go into details respecting my family, and can dismiss my youth briefly by saying that when I was not on a horse I was just being thrown off one. I soon became a pretty smart rider, and my practice with a gun was pretty good, too. I was 12 years old when I killed my first Indian. It happened rather sudden. I was walking out by the river, near Fort Kearney, one night about 10 o’clock. My companions had got on ahead somehow, and I was quite alone, when looking up toward the bluff bordering the river, I saw, illuminated by the moon, the head and shoulders of a living Indian, watching me with evident interest. Now, I had heard many stories of the doings of the red men, and had also been inculcated with a thorough distrust of their ways; so, quickly coming to a conclusion as to what I should do, I brought my gun to my shoulder, and, aiming at the head, fired. The report sounded louder than usual in the silence of the night, far it was past 10 o’clock, and was followed by a war whoop, such as could only be built up by an Indian, and the next instant over six feet of dead Indian came down splash into the river.

Soon after this I went to business. I took to the plains, and in the employee of Messrs. Russell & Simpson soon learned that in’s and out’s of the wildlife led with horses and cattle- driving teams, writing express ponies, and getting to know the land. Among other things I somehow found out how to hunt buffaloes, a sport second to none, if you know how. I shall never forget the faces of five officers I met on the prairies once, now many years ago. They were after a herd of buffaloes. So was I. We engaged views. I gave them my ideas; they gave me their sympathy.

“You surely don’t expect to catch buffaloes with that gothic steed,“ said they.

“I am going to try,” I said.

“You’ll never do it, man alive,” said the Captain.

“It wants a fast horse to hunt a buffalo.”

“Does it?” I responded.

“Yes; but you can come with us if you like.”

And I did like. There were eleven buffaloes in the herd, and, while the officers rode straight at them, I headed the leaders and got up to them with ease. The horse which my companions had been chaffing was the famous Brigham, who knew as much about the sport as I did; he speedily did his part of the business. A few jumps brought us up to the herd. Raising “Lucretia Borgia,” my trustee weapon, I aimed at the first animal, fired, and brought him down, Brigham like the ideal animal that he was, carrying me rapidly up to the next brutes, not ten feet away: and, when I had dropped him, bounded onto the next, and so on, until I had slain the whole eleven animals, and then my horse stopped. I dismounted to regard my work with a feeling of satisfaction. Those officers rode up shortly, and I shall never forget their expressions as they surveyed the work of five minutes lying around.

My horse Brigham was an exceptionally intelligent brute. He took the keenest delight in sport, and invariably took pains to aid me in getting game. All he expected of me was to do the shooting; the rest was his work. He would always stop if the buffalo did not fall at the first shot, so as to give me a second chance; but if I did not bring him down then, he would go on disgusted.

It was in 1867 that the Kansas Pacific track was in the buffalo country, and the company was employing over twelve hundred men in the making of the road. The Indians were very troublesome, and it was not always easy to get sufficient supplies of fresh meat for the men. It was about this time that Messrs. Goddard, the contractors to the constructors, made me a handsome offer, provided I would undertake to hunt for them. They required twelve buffalo’s per diem. The work was somewhat dangerous, owing to the Indians, but the terms were handsome—five hundred per month. I took the offer, and in less than eighteen months, during which time my engagement lasted, I killed 4280 buffaloes single-handed, and had many scrimmages with the Indians, and hair-breadth escapes. It was during this period of my career that I had my celebrated buffalo-killing match with Billy Comstock, the noted scout, then at Fort Wallace. The terms were settled as follows: we were to hunt one day of eight hours, from eight a.m. to four p.m. The stakes were  $500 a side, and the demand who killed the most buffaloes was to be declared the winner. The contest took place twenty miles east from Sheridan, and many thousand people came from all parts to see the sport. We were fortunate in finding animals, and had plenty of sport. We made three runs each, and I killed sixty-nine buffaloes, my arrival been content with forty-six. Not a bad day’s work- a day which is an historical one for me, isasmuch as since then I have invariably been referred to in all parts of the civilized world  as Buffalo Bill.


The Weekly Republican
Cherryvale, Kansas Jul 22, 1887

The Buffalo Dance

Among the Indians of the northern plains is a custom called “dancing the buffalo.” It is resorted to when the hunters have great difficulty in finding the buffalo — a difficulty which has been growing more pronounced every year, until of late the poor Indian finds his “buffalo medicine dance” fails universally and he has all but lost faith in it. And yet it has but rarely failed before, for the peculiar strength of the “medicine” lies in the fact that when the medicine dance is one started it is Up religiously night and day until the outsiders discover buffalo, and as the Indians reasons, the dance brought them. The Crows had a dance recently. They believe that the Great Spirit has secluded the buffalo temporarily, but that as soon as he recovers from his sulk he will send them back again. The Crow dance did bring a half-dozen old bulls to the Crow hunters; not much meat, to be sure, but a sure sign of the strength of the medicine. Ten or a dozen men dance at a time, and as they grow weary and leave their places, others take them, and so keep up the ceremony. They wear the head or mask of a buffalo, which each warrior is supposed to keep in his outfit; the tails are often attached to these by a long piece of hide. Drums are beaten, rattles shaken, and the usual Indian yelling is kept up. The hunters all have their arms ready, and the outlying hills are patrolled. These dances have been kept up in certain villages for two or three weeks on a stretch without stopping an instant. When a man becomes fatigued he signifies it by bending quite low, when another draws a bow and hits him with a blunt arrow. He falls to the ground, and is dragged off by the spectators, who proceed to butcher him in play, much after the fashion of children; for the Indian in his sportive moods is for all the world like an overgrown boy. In all the different dances the Indians have a special step. It reaches the zenith of muscular exertion and extravagance in the war dance, and is very quiet in certain medicine dances, the bodies seemingly scarcely to move. In the buffalo dance they follow around in a circle, lifting their feet and undulating their bodies. Alas for the buffalo, and alas for the poor Indian, too, the buffalo dance will no more bring the countless thousands of bison to the site of the hunter, and the only meat he will ever eat ranges between Government steers and sage hens.


The Nebraska State Journal
Lincoln, Nebraska Sep 7, 1887

The Great Slaughter of the American Bison.
Where the Buffalo Can Now be Found —
Long Range Shooting — An Exhibition of Remarkable Skill.

Fort Keogh ( Mont.,) Cor Philadelphia Record.

The point from where I am penning these lines was once the heart of buffalo country. Only a few short years ago, as late as 1883, a herd of about 75,000 crossed the Yellowstone river a few miles south of here (scores of Indians, pot hunters and white butchers on their heels) bound for the Canadian dominions where they hoped to find a haven of safety. Alas! not 5,000 of that mighty mass ever lived to reach the British border line, and those that did and passed beyond, finding themselves in a strange, hostile, unknown country, soon fell of prey to Lewis Riel and his half breeds, then preparing for rebellion or else became victims to the deadly repeating rifles and – magazine guns of Poundmaker’s band of half starved Crees.


Last winter Mr. Hornaday of them Smithsonian institution at Washington, and search of specimens, came to Fort Keogh and fitted out to go on the buffalo range. He secured about thirty, all told, although no one believed a buffalo was in the country. The bison is not quite extinct, as there is a small band ranging at the present writing about sixty miles due north of this point, and there are some over in the Clark’s Ford country, among the foothills of the Big Horn mountains, and, again, there are plenty of mountain buffalo in the Bitter Root range, the White River mountains and among the elevated forest of the great Yellowstone national park. Of course, all the bison and the entire northwest are not a handful to the myriads that used to roam hereabouts during the years 1878 and 1879, or even as late as1883. In 1882 a tremendous herd appeared on the bluffs opposite here, on the north side of the Yellowstone river, and that was, in fact, the last season we had buffalo hump in galore.


Soon after the military cleared out the hostile Indians and opened up the vast territory of Montana to civilization, buffalo hunters, pot hunters and sportsmen poured into the country by train load, determined to have a parting shot at the fleeing bison before the last one should disappear. In the summer of 1883 I think it a fair estimate to say that no less than 5000 skin hunters were in the territory thirsting for buffalo blood. A cordon of camps from the upper Missouri where it bends to the west stretched toward the setting sun as far as the dividing line of Idaho, completely blocking in the great ranges of Milk river, the Musselshell, Yellowstone and the Maris’s, and rendered it impossible for scarcely a single bison to escape through the chain of sentinel camps to the Canadian northwest. Hunters of Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado drove the poor, hunted animals north direct into the muscles of the thousands of repeaters ready to receive them

A great many tons of lead were fired at the bison that year, and a great many hundred pounds of powder were exploded in killing off the last of the great and mighty race. Each party would be divided into two sections. One, a band of hunters, went on ahead and killed the game, and the second a band of Skinners, followed in their wake to tear off the hides and cut out this smoking hot tongues, leaving the bulk of the carcasses to rot where they fell or to become food for coyotes and wolves.

Some idea of the murder done that year may be approximated by referring to the amount the bones shipped out of the country for fertilizer and bone dust. During the open season from twenty-five to thirty cars per week loaded to their utmost capacity would be sent east to the factories. Dickinson station, shipped inside of six months bones that represented the skeletons of at least 486,000 buffaloes.


I remember once I was out after some buffalo with a Yanktonnais Sioux Indian in the great triangle bounded by the Missouri, Yellowstone and Muscleshell rivers. There were not far from 250,000 bison in this bid of country, so it can be imagined what sort of sport we had in chasing the big unwieldy brutes over the snow clad plains of the north. I had a Remington long-range rifle, and coming upon a herd which we presumed to be at least 1,100 yards distant, I propose to have shot at the band just for luck. The Indian smiled and favored me with this sort of derisive glance at my notion of dropping buffalo at that an enormous range, something near three-quarters of a mile. I had had considerable experience before the buttes at Creedmoor and elsewhere with my long-range gun, and the bison, although at an uncertain distance, would be a good enough target if the exact range could once be determined. There was a slight fall of snow on the ground, just enough to give the entire country a whitish, ghostly appearances, and it set on the big black shaggy bodies of the bison in a clean-cut, distinct manner. I dropped on my back (for all the world like the other Creedmoor experts), elevated the vernier scale to the range of 1,100 yards, took careful aim at a group of three, and fired. Spang! went the bullet, dropping not a yard beyond the farther of the trio, the latter merely raising their heads and glancing at the spot where the lead struck without moving an inch from their original position. A cartridge was again in the gun almost instantaneously, the elevation lowered a point and the peace again discharged. Down tumbled the foremost bison all and heap, probably never realizing what had struck him, and possibly never hearing the noise of the gun. The Indians looked on in wonder, and could not believe the game had been killed at such a tremendous distance. We rode down to the spot (I preferring not to sacrifice any more buffalo then we were actually in need of for meat), and as we approached the beast, who were busily smelling their dead comrade without in the least being able to determine what was the matter with it, the two live ones, upon espying us, took to their heels across the prairie and were seen no more. Examining the dead buffalo we found a hole through the center of his body (some distance back of the head) as big as your fist. No wonder he dropped instantly and without a protest.


My Yankonnais friend had no rifle along, but he had a quiver full of wicked looking arrows and before night fell I was to be treated to an exhibition of the style long in vogue among the aboriginies of North America for hunting this largest of representative game animals. Along each shaft from the bark to the feathers ran two zigzag grooves which were intended as ducts for the life blood of the animal after the point had once penetrated his vitals. Of course, no arrow, except in extraordinary cases, could possibly killed at one shot, and these grooves were intended to fulfill afterward what the first blow failed to perform, namely, kill the animal in the end. The redmen of the northwest used to hunt over a vast extent of territory. They would gallop into a herd of bison, drive one arrow almost to the hilt in the carcass of a bull, cow or calf, and leave the net animal at once, would seek out another, which was served in a like manner, and so on until the hunt was finished. Any bison that ever got a shaft into his body, given to a moderate depth, was doomed. Sooner or later he would tumble to grass and give up the ghost, for their arrows with their canals finally cause a bleeding to death, and that ended the matter. Each warriors arrows were marked so that any beast found with a distinctive weapon in his body belong to the owner of the shaft.

As remarked, my Yanktonnais comrade treated me to an exhibition of his remarkable skill, and I must say that this savage, with his rude, aboriginal armament , was about as sure of his quarry as I with my rifle. Mounted on a superb pony, as black as jet and as fiery as the untamed steed of Pegasus, he dashed down upon a herd quietly grazing just beyond a swell in the prairie ahead of us, and before I could get alongside on my high mettled American horse the buck had plunged one barbed shaft into an innocent cow and was hot on the heels of a magnificent bull only a few yards ahead and going like a streak of wind. I came up with him just as his long Sioux bow was bent nearly double, and while the pointed shaft was almost lost in the shaggy hair the bison. I heard the ominous twanged of the strong sinew cord, and the same second the steel of the barb had passed entirely through the body and protruded at least two inches from the opposite side. What marvelous power of muscle to drive a simple arrow with such force, and how deadly such a weapon is in the hands of such a formidable foe. The big bull kept right on, unmindful of the deathly wound he had received, and I saw him run at least 300 yards before he began to falter or stagger. Then he did hesitate a little, finally coming to a dead stop, when he turned on us both and stood at bay. How I respected the brave old fellow, that monarch of the plains, and how I long to tell him so in a language he could understand. There he stood eyeing us proudly and defiantly, the blood pouring from his side in a ghastly gash, and ready to give us battle should we approach him one foot nearer. Pretty soon the flim gathered over his eyes, then his hindquarters began to quiver, and finally he set square down on his haunches like a dog. Next his forefeet gave way, and he fell to the earth no more to rise, rolled gently over on his side, gave about eight long gasp, and was dead.


Los Angeles Times, Nov 14 1887

The War of Extermination Complete

……The time was when a buffalo hunter would have scorned the idea of gathering up dry bones for a living. Indeed, if often happened that his royal highness would not even deign to skin the buffalo that his own rifle brought down. But, thanks to his own reckless improvidence, “Othello’s occupation’s gone.” The buffalo are all dead, and he must choose between punching cows and picking up bones. To this extent the slain buffalo is his own avenger.
……At various points along the line of the Northern Pacific Railway westward from Jamestown, Dak., buffalo bones lay piled in great heaps beside the track, waiting for shipment. They are the only monuments that remain to the American bison, which, to quote the great original observation of every tenderfoot, “once roamed in vast herds over these boundless prairies.” In a short time even the bones will be all gathered up, and nothing whatever remain to mark the presence upon this earth of 8,000,000 bison at one time, save what can be found in the museums, the zoologic gardens or the tertiary deposits of the earth itself. Could any war of extermination be more complete or far-reaching in its results?
……From the Red Buttes onward you see where the millions are gone. This was once a famous buffalo range, and now the bleaching skeletons lie scattered thickly all along the trail. Like ghastly monuments of slaughter, these ugly excrescences stand out in bold relief on the smooth, hard surface of the prairie from the huge bull skeletons, lying close beside the wagon trail to those far back in the bad lands, where they are merely dark specks in the distance. They lie to-day precisely as they fell four years ago, except that the flesh is no longer upon the. The head stretches far forward, as if for its last gasp, and the legs lie helplessly upon the turf with precisely the same curves as when they moved for the last time.
……Now and then you come to a place where the hunter got a “stand” on a “bunch” and from this hiding-place in the head of a gully or among his 10-120 Sharpe’s rifle, at the rate of a shot every two or three minutes, until every buffalo of the bunch had fallen. Here you can count seventeen skeletons on a little more than an acre, and near by are fourteen more that evidently fell at the same time. The powerful; effects of the strong, parching winds and the intense dry heat of the summer has literally stripped the flesh from the bones, but the skeletons lie precisely as they fell. The bones are still held together by a few dried up ligaments, but are bleached as white as snow. Sometimes we found immense skeletons that were absolutely perfect, even to the tiny carpal and tarsal bones, the size of a hazel nut. Of these dry skeletons we selected eight of the finest and largest, and they are now cached in the storage rooms of the National Museum against the great famine for bison that will soon set in.
……Beyond the Red Buttes we are seldom out of sight of bleaching skeletons and often forty and fifty were in sight at one time. The skinners always left the heads of the bulls unskinned, and the thick hide has dried down upon the skulls harder that the bone itself, holding the tangled masses of the shaggy frontlet firmly in place until it bleaches brown in the sunshine, and is finally worn away by wind and weather. Many of these heads are so perfectly preserved, and with their thick masses of wavy brown hair are so fresh looking that the slaughter of the millions is brought right down to the present, and it seems to have been the work of yesterday. We can endure the sight of the bones reasonably well, for we expect it; but those great hairy heads make us feel our loss most keenly. At first it is impossible to look at one without a sigh, and each group of skeletons brings back the old thought, What a pity!” – Cosmopolitan.


/This photo was printed in the London Paper

1887 Pile of bison skulls



Eadweard Muybridge’s 1887 running buffalo images

Sixteen frames of famed photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s 1887 running buffalo images were sequenced together to create this animation.
Muybridge is known for creating such sequences of still images, originally done as
locomotion studies, that eventually became motion picture films.

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