The Wichita Daily Eagle
Wichita, Kansas Feb 2 1895
KILLING THE BISON
HERDS OF BUFFALO
BUTCHERING AND WIPED OUT OF EXISTENCE IN A FEW MONTHS
Hundreds of Thousands Slaughtered In a Couple of Years After the Hunting Became General- Story of the Chase and Battle in the Gorge.
Before the Northern Pacific railroad had crossed the continent west of the Missouri river this section of the country bounded by that river on the east and the Rockies on the west and stretching from the Platte, in Nebraska, northward to the British line, was the greatest stamping ground for buffaloes in the whole northwest. The country was more or less hostile in those days, and the Indians, who had been the best guardians of the bison until the white pot hunters came among them, soon gained the civilized idea of slaughtering, and from that time the doom of the representative American game animal was positively assured, but the greatest blow dealt the bison herds of the northwest was the completion of the Northern Pacific track from Bismarck to the Rocky mountains. The road practically divided the herds (for the bison will never, unless forced cross the iron of the railroad track), and those to the South were soon swallowed up in the general slaughter waged by Indians, pot, hide and tongue hunters, foreign sportsmen and others who were out to kill anything they saw on sight.
This was during the winter 1882-3. The buffaloes to the north were in many scattered bands, but there was one great herd of not less than 75,000 head, which had found a temporary refuge in the triangle formed by the Muscleshell, Missouri and Yellowstone rivers in Montana, and as yet they had not been ‘smelled out” by either the red or white hunters, but they were as surely doomed as though already killed, for the railroad iron cut them off from their southern range, and the Indians of the Canadian northwest as well as those of our own country barred their retreat into the far north, and so they were hemmed in between the two, with no possibility of escape in either direction.
To illustrate in a few words the remarkable destruction of that section alone it will only be necessary to say that this last great herd was completely wiped out of existence in less than four months, and before the close of the year there were but a few singles and pairs left as fugitives in that vast country, where, but a year or two before, they could have been counted almost by the hundreds of thousands. The shipping figures from two points on the Yellowstone at the end of the season, Glendive and Miles City, show 800,000 buffalo hides sent from the former and 185,250 skins of elk, antelope and deer from the latter place.
It chanced, at the time mentioned, that the writer, with a small detachment of soldiers, was passing from the Missouri river country to the Yellowstone, and we came across, almost daily, numerous bands of Gros Ventre, Piegan, Blackfeet and other Indians, all hurrying to the slaughter of the noble animals on the Musselshell. Our scout, or guide, was a Crow Indian named Two Moons, and one day while threading our way through the Bad Lands, painted buttes and broken coulies a small herd of about 600 bison came rushing into view around a bluff not more than 200 yards distant, and with heads down and paintbrush tales erect they came plunging on directly toward us in the wildest sort of confusion. A genuine stampede was probably in full operation, and the soldiers not waiting for orders, lost no time in placing a safe and reasonable distance between themselves and that threatened danger. They quickly shied off to the right, and I felt it my duty at this ‘impending crisis” to keep as close to the heels of my fleeing comrades as the speed of my horse would permit.
In a few minutes the last of the fleeing bison were well to the rear, and they soon disappeared beyond a neighboring knoll with the speed of an express train. While watching them and debating whether at Chase would be worth the trouble, from behind the bluff where the buffaloes had first appeared now came a second band of bison, about 60 in all, with a dozen well mounted Cheyenne bucks in hot pursuit. As before, the animals came direct toward us, but ours shouting’s and halloonings turned them aside, and they shied off to the left, entering the jaws of the rough broken ravine, which was precisely what their red pursuers wanted. The ravine was a sort of rift in the Bad Lands which practically led nowhere, but which we after word discovered narrowed and closed in until it ended in a steep, and impassable pocket, with no outlet except by the original way of entry.
The Indians shouted to us as they rushed by, and, rather interested in the outcome, as I suspected the nature of the ravine, I left the Sgt. with the detachment, and, taking the guide with me, followed swiftly on the heels of the flying Cheyennes.
Game and hunters soon disappeared in that twinings and intertwinings of the gorge, and as it was an exceedingly rocky and difficult trail we took our time and practically “made haste slowly.” How the red man ahead of us ever got over the ground so quickly was an unsolved mystery. Narrower and narrower became the gorge, and at last we paused to listen. There was scarcely a sound in the air, but this intense stillness became suddenly broken by a series of rapid shots and wild yells, accompanied by a thundering, rumbling noise which was almost deafening. The tumult rapidly grew louder, and then, just in front of us, from out of the depths of the canyon came the buffalo herd like the wind, directly toward us. Some were bleeding, many were wounded, and others were limping badly. It never seem possible that living brutes could travel over such rough ground with such speed, but the difficulties of the trail never seem to concern them in the least, for as a matter of fact, the rear ones crowded the forward ones with such persistence and so rapidly that they had to move quickly or else be trampled under foot.
After this thundercloud had passed, with feelings of great relief, we went on up the canyon to see how the Indians had fared. It proved to have been a disastrous encounter for the Cheyennes, as many of them were limping and bleeding as badly as the stampeded buffaloes. A survey of the free frontier circus ground discovered seven dead buffaloes, three wounded Indians- one of them quite seriously – and six ponies killed and maimed.
The Inter Ocean
Chicago, Illinois April 22 1895
KEEPER DE VRY AND HIS TROUBLES
Lincoln Park Pea Fowls Taken For Ransom
-“Jim,” the Bison, to be Exiled
Keeper Cypress DeVry has had his soul sorely tried of late, and it is due to his superb flock of pea fowls and a number of typical “bad boys,” (story edited out)
The workmen at the Park were treated to a lively scene Friday, when the two mammoth bison bulls were transferred to different pens. These fellows, prior to January, were quite companionable, but one day that month their pugnacity was suddenly aroused, and is stiff and counter was engaged in, resulting in “Buffalo Bill” seriously goring “Jim.” The latter was placed in a stable to allow his wounds to heal, while the other warrior was left with the herd. Being thus separated, the two only engaged complements at intervals in the way of bellowing, but a few days ago “Buffalo Bill” forest and entrance into the abode of his enemy, where an angry and counter was precipitated. It was a perilous task to attempt to make peace between the enraged animals. Finally “Buffalo Bill” was ejected, and “Jim’s” home was securely guarded.
Friday Keeper DeVry determined to give “Jim” the freedom of the yard, and put his antagonistic in durance vile. Accordingly “Buffalo Bill” was lassoed after considerable trouble, during which ropes were broken and one of his horns was badly fractured. He was fastened to a tree while “Jim” was led out to the herd. Then after another tussle the obstinate beast was led to confinement, where he will remain while his brother is taking an airing. However, negotiations were perfected Saturday for the purchase of three bisons for the zoological garden of Philadelphia. Keeper DeVry said that “Jim” would likely be one of the number.
It is interesting to know that this herd of 16 natives of the Western plains is the finest in captivity. The park has been successful in raising these animals. Some years ago there were but two bison; the rest are lineal descendents of this couple.
Lebanon Currier and Semi-Weekly Report
Lebanon, Pennsylvania Dec 11 1895
A noteworthy feature of the MAGAZINE during 1896 will be a series of articles by Caspar W. Whitney, describing his trip of 2600 miles on snow-shoes and with dog sledge trains into the unexplored Barren Grounds of British North America in pursuit of wood-bison and musk- oxen. Mr. Whitney’s series will have the added interest of being illustrated from photographs taken by himself.
The Volumes of the MAGAZINE begin with the Numbers for June and December of each year. When no time is mentioned, subscriptions will begin with the Number of current at the time of receipt of order. Remittances should be made by Post-Office Money Order or Draft, to avoid chance or loss.
Newspapers are not to copy this advertisement without the express order of Harper & Brothers.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Dec 14 1895
In order to give an idea of the value and rarity of this group of animals it is necessary to tell the story of the difficulties undergone in obtaining it, and this will also reveal the almost incredible scarcity of the great American bison, the typical four-footed animal of the American Republic. Some years ago the idea occurred to the authorities of the American Museum of Natural History to secure a lifeless group of buffaloes, and they were amazed even at that time to find that they had undertaken a more difficult task than they imagined. To be sure the various zoological garden have more or less mangy looking herds, and “Buffalo” Jones, the great rancher of Garfield City, Utah, had two hundred corralled and which he valued as the hairs of his head; but these highly prized captives were not accessible for purposes of taxidermy. As to the animals in the wild state, Professor Hornaday, of the National Museum in Washington, informed his New York brethren that apart from the closely protected two hundred buffaloes under the care of the United States government in the Yellowstone National Park he thought there were very few of the species left within the limits of the United States, and expressed it as his opinion that within ten years there would not be a solitary bison on the American plains.